Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review - To Love and Cherish by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

 

I have been needing to write this review for awhile but I have been putting it off and I wasn't sure why. I finally figured it out this morning, I just didn't love this book. Writing a review for a book I love is no problem, I can easily come up with a post on things I love! I didn't dislike this book, I just didn't love it.

I have enjoyed several books by both of these authors previously and was looking forward to reading this one.  This is a second book in a series, something I didn't realize until after I had read it. It is actually fine as a stand alone book, I don't feel like I missed anything by not reading the first one. 

As the story starts it is set in Bridal Veil Island, Georgia  1898. The main character Melinda Colson is a ladies maid  (also called a companion in the book) to Mrs. Mifflin who is an older lady that is quite used to getting her way.  The Mifflin's live in Cleveland but spend part of the year at Bridal Veil Island.  Melinda had grown up accustomed to a wealthy lifestyle, when her parents both passed she was suddenly left with nothing. Mrs. Mifflin was kind enough (in her own opinion) to take Melinda in and give her a job. Mrs. Mifflin is very controlling and Melinda would love nothing more than for her beau to propose and rescue her from her current situation. Unfortunately for Melinda her beau, Evan, hasn't even thought of marriage yet. 

The Mifflins have to hurry back to Cleveland for a social event and Melinda is very disappointed to be leaving without the promise of marriage. Evan and Melinda continue with long distance communication which isn't always clear. When a Hurricane strikes Bridal Veil Island and Melinda doesn't hear from Evan she leaves to go find him. In the process leaving her job with Mrs Mifflin who is angry and threatening. She heads to Georgia with her brother who has a history of gambling and is somewhat unreliable. They make it safely to Bridal Veil Island though news of a death on a young man on the Island has Melinda very concerned that Evan is not safe. 

Melinda and her brother stay on the Island and help with the clean up in preparation for the busy season. Her brother gets in with some shady characters which end up causing trouble for him in the end. Melinda proves herself worthy of a more prestigious position and enjoys the challenge of the new job. She and Evan continue their relationship, though he is hesitant to marry until he can provide well for them. There is much hurt and confusion but they work through their relationship. 

It was an okay book but not one I would immediately recommend to someone. I was somewhat disappointed as I have read some fantastic books by both of these authors. Granted, this is all my opinion and others may absolutely love this book. 

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just a quick check in!

Life has been pretty busy around here lately with a certain young man having a birthday (my baby is 7!) and work and just keeping up with life! I am just making a quick post now as I have to work soon, but wanted to share something with you! I had mentioned previously that I have lost some weight during a cleanse and before that due to some medication I am taking. At the end of the cleanse I had lost 20 pounds, just during the cleanse and then 25 before that! I have also lost since the end of the cleanse! I FEEL so much better! I have more energy and just overall feel better. I have dropped 2 clothing sizes and it feels so good to pick up an 18 instead of a 22(these are not misses sizes but plus sizes, I am in a 20 misses. Women's sizes are such a confusing mess!). Yes I just told the whole internet world what size clothes I wear (my mom will probably be totally appalled!), but it is 2 sizes smaller than where I was and it feels awesome! I made a little weight loss ticker so I could see my progress, it also calculates my BMI, which is down 7 points!  Once I hit the halfway point from my highest weight this year to my goal weight (5 more pounds!) I am going to buy myself a pair of boots I have been drooling over. Not something I would normally purchase so it is definitely a splurge but I would rather have new boots than a food reward (my old usual reward for whatever).




Pretty awesome to me that I have made that much of a difference in less than a year! I am hoping that in one more year I will be at my goal weight! It didn't come on quickly and I don't expect it to come off quickly! We are doing low-carb now and it is pretty easy, especially when compared to how restrictive the cleanse was! I am always looking for new low-carb recipes so please feel free to share any with me! I am also working to stay away from preservatives and fake sugars, using only stevia now. Making my family healthier a day at a time!!

The ticker currently says my BMI is 33.3 and my loss is 47.8, this will change as I enter in my weight on a weekly basis so I wanted o record the current data here on this post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review - Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R. Morgan




I was incredibly excited to read this book as I have felt very uneducated on other religions but haven't found a resource that has a great variety in one place. This book covers so many in fairly short chapters that makes it easy to read and then understand. There were times I had to pull out a dictionary to make sure I knew what certain words meant, but that is all part of the learning & understanding process!

The first chapter works on defining religion. Since there is not really one right definition the author uses this working definition: "Religion is an organized system of beliefs that answers ultimate questions and commends certain actions or behaviors based on the answers to those questions".  In the next chapter he goes on to discuss why it is important to learn about other religions, and also some of the differences in the religions in different parts of the World.

He starts with Christianity, then continues on to Roman Catholic Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Protestant Christianity and Evangelical Christianity.  I will be honest and say that I really didn't know the difference between some of these before reading this. These chapters really helped to clear some things up for me personally. There are also chapters on Judaism (past & present), Folk Religions, Native American  Religions and Traditional African religions. They were explained very clearly and I really got a feel for what the people believe, if only on a small scale.

There are six chapters focused on Islam, digging into their beginnings, beliefs, varieties and theology. Obviously there is a lot of discussion and fear about Islam & Muslims in our country, and much of that is based on a small part of Islam. Just because someone is a Muslim does not automatically mean they are a terrorist. Also like just because someone is a Christian does not make them like Fred Phelps (well known for picketing funerals of fallen soldiers and declaring what God hates).  This is where being educated on religions is so helpful, I am going to be less likely to form an opinion (judge) about someone due to their religion when I understand more about their religion.

There are also chapters on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and several other religions that I was not at all familiar with such as: Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto and Secular Humanism.  After these religions which have all been around for a very long time, he addressed Cults, "Isms", and Contemporary Religious Movements.  Under these categories you will find Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Scientology, Unitarian-Universalist, Unity School of Christianity, Unification Church, Neopagan religions, New Age Religions and Transcendental Meditation.

He tried to cover each one in a way that if a person from that religion read the chapter they would agree with most or all of it. It was written very thoughtfully and carefully, so that it would correctly reflect each religion. This is a book I would highly recommend to someone who is strong in their faith and wants to understand other religions and where they originated. I personally would not recommend it to someone new in their faith, as it could be very confusing and might cause them to question their own beliefs. Overall I really loved this book and plan to keep it as a great reference tool. As soon as I finished it my husband grabbed it and started reading! My oldest son who is 12 has even read some of the chapters and it has been great for discussions with him.


I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wearing a Smaller Size Feels Better Than Chocolate tastes!

That is a bold statement coming from me, because I LOVE chocolate. A lot. I have fought with my weight ever since my Sophomore year of High School (the same year I was no longer required to take P.E). Hmmmm, pretty obvious connection there. My love affair with food has also been an issue for me. It really has been more of an addiction. I have done Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, and at one point I had a set of "pens" that I was supposed to sniff before eating to curb my appetite. However, I have just never been able to give up my love of sweets, carb-filled foods and especially chocolate.

I have also dealt with depression for many, many years. I have been on medication for it for at least 10 years. I have reached a point where I feel like the medication is doing me more harm than good. The side effects have been in some way detrimental to my health or my relationships with others. I decided to take control of things and get off of the medication. This was not done on a whim, I have done a lot of research and have the full support of my medical doctor and a natural health professional. This is a HUGE step for me. It has involved a lot of prayer on my part and the prayer support of my awesome friends!

I am currently halfway through a 6 week cleanse. This is the first step in the process to get rid of the prescription meds. I am on a very strict diet for the whole 6 weeks, no sugar, no grains, no carbs, no vinegar, no yeast, and no processed foods. You would be amazed at how many things have those ingredients in them! The only fruit I can have is berries, and the only dairy I can have is plain yogurt. Yes, it is very limited! BUT, because I am doing this for my health and for my family I am pushing through. I have eaten lots of eggs & chicken breasts! For the first 2 weeks I also took supplements to flush out the toxins, I will do this again for the last 2 weeks. One of the things that keeps me going is the weight loss. Since starting the cleanse 3 weeks ago I have lost 9 pounds. That has been enough to put me into a smaller size of clothes! I have lost a total of 35 pounds since Spring, some of which was due to a side effect of my depression medication.

During the first week of the cleanse I had some body aches and extreme tiredness but it could have been so much worse.  I strongly believe the reason it wasn't as bad was because I had asked a lot (80 or so) of people to be praying for me through this process. Never underestimate the power of prayer!! I am also amazingly blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband who has helped make it possible for me to do this.

This past week I have really seen and felt the difference in my weight, I can look in the mirror and like what I see.  I even had someone who didn't know I was doing this notice that I had lost weight! It felt great, it felt better than any food tastes. I am working on overcoming that addiction to food and I can truly see it as possible now.

The day before I started the cleanse I went through The Steps to Freedom in Christ. I went through this with a lady who has led many people through it and if you ever do go through it I recommend finding someone who is very familiar with it and has had some training. It allowed me to let go of some past hurts that were really hindering my every day life. It also helped me to see that my love of food was an addiction, not just an innocent love of food. I have felt such a peace since then. Don't get me wrong it is not a fix all, but it really made a difference in MY life! It is something you have to be ready & willing to do.

This is all a big part of the reason I haven't been posting much here either, been focusing on making my mind & body healthy! Lots of changes going on!  I will be posting some book reviews soon, finishing up one on World Religions and it is incredibly interesting to me.

 The kids have been in school for almost a month already and G is enjoying 7th grade and Jr High life. Still hard to believe I have a Jr Higher! D is in 1st Grade and is going to give his teacher a challenge or two this year! He taught himself to read at age 4, has been doing multiplication for about a year now and this morning was figuring out division! He is his Father's son for sure!

So looking forward to Fall here, especially the leaves changing color and the cooler weather! Hoping you all have a beautiful week as we head into Fall!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grief Processing - my own way of dealing

 How is it that animals can wrap themselves so tightly around our hearts?  Especially the one I always said I would NEVER own.

 I did not want a male dog. Ever. Female dogs only for me. Then I met Jack. Oh Jack. Some good friends of ours were taking care of him until a permanent home could be found. Even though he was a dachshund (I do love doxies!) I figured it would be safe for me to see him and not want him, since he was a male dog and I was never going to own one. So much for that theory. He was just the most adorable thing, and had an amazing personality that made him irresistible.

So, we decided to take him home for the weekend and see if he would get along with our other doxie Rune. She wasn't real crazy about him at first, she let him know right away who the dominant dog was! He was fine with that, he was just happy as long as there were humans to scratch him and blankets to burrow under! Well that weekend quickly turned into us becoming his forever home. What we didn't know at the time was how short his forever was going to be. He was maybe 4 or 5 we didn't know for sure and we thought it would be great to have him as Rune is now 9 and we don't know how long she will be around. 

He brought much joy to this house, to the humans as well as to Rune - they would play like crazy together! He loved the boys and would choose to spend time with each of them, which only endeared him to me that much more! My mom said it best the other day when she said that he made everyone feel like the one he loved most. It's true, he really did make us all feel that way.  

Last weekend we noticed he was being more gentle with his back, walking down the stairs (3 to go outside) carefully and not jumping up on the couch. However Sunday he seemed to be doing better, so we figured we just needed to be very cautious with him and not let him jump or do stairs. Then, at 10:30 Sunday night after being outside he was walking towards me and just stopped. I called him and he came another 2 steps barely and stopped again. He never regained the use of his back end after that. We did what we could to keep him comfortable Sunday night and then got him to the vet Monday morning. We had the boys say goodbye to him just in case. 

The vet said it was very serious but there was a treatment they could try, so we decided to leave him there and let them do that. They also made sure to control his pain. I tried to get updates through the week and all I really got was that he did seem a little more himself. When I spoke with the vet on Thursday morning he told me that Jack had not responded at all to the treatment after 3 days. In this type of situation with this treatment there is change within those 2-3 days, if there isn't it means the damage is permanent. Well, we knew we didn't want him to be in pain or to have a hard life but making the decision was not easy. Especially when you have to add in the fact that we have two boys (6 & 12) who love that little dog. Unfortunately the decision that was best for Jack was the one that was hardest for us (still crying as I type this). Thankfully my parents live a block away and were able to come over and be here as I had to tell the boys (hubby was still at work, this wasn't easy for him either). We decided to put him down that day. We all went in and got to hold him again and say goodbye through the tears. We then took him out to our farm land and buried him.

I am quite sure he will never be forgotten by us. He was only in our lives for 8 months but he left such an impression. We loved him dearly. Rune is also missing him, she still looks for him and is mostly only drinking from his water dish. He truly was an amazing dog, and as much as this hurts to lose him I am so incredibly thankful that we were blessed to have him as a part of our family!

 A friend shared this quote with me that day and it truly was a comfort:

 "I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there in Heaven, I believe he'll be there."
                                --Billy Graham



Then as the boys and I were driving to the farm from the vet this song was playing and it was so perfect.  It was an opportunity to share with my boys that even though it hurts and even when it's hard God is still here with us. It can sure feel like He has forgotten about us when we are hurting but in fact His heart breaks too.  It kept spritzing small amounts of rain that day and I kept telling the boys that God was crying too. 




I have written all this out as a way to deal with the grief I am feeling. We know we did the best thing and we looked at all the options before coming to this decision (would I really put my family through all this if I thought there was another option??). I would appreciate if you have comments about other options there could have been, if you would not share them. Thanks for listening (reading) as I work through this pain that has been left in precious little Jack's absence. 

Jack-Jack Chunk-a-Dunk Stink-a-Dink you will be greatly missed! Thanks for brightening our lives little dog!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review - Unstuck by Arnie Cole & Michael Ross



Stuck. It is the perfect word for where many of us are in our Christian walk. I have known that things haven't been where they need to be in mine, but I've been having a hard time figuring out what I needed to change. This book, Unstuck, really came at a perfect time for me personally. It took me a little while to get through it, not because it was difficult to read but because there was so much to digest.

When I first started reading it I was really in to the information and statistics they provided. The more I got in to the book, the more it affected me at a spiritual level and I became aware of how terribly stuck I have been. Unstuck is not the answer to all your spiritual problems, however it is a great tool that gives very clear, uncomplicated directions on how to get out of the rut.

One of the things I love most about the book is the personal stories. It is so nice to know that there are others struggling with the same things I am and overcoming them! We have become so humiliated and embarrassed by our misgivings that we are quick to hide them for fear of someone finding out about them. Not to mention the fact that we desire to have control over our lives (and sometimes the lives of others). A little tidbit found on page 96 - "Relinquish any fantasy of control". I am pretty sure that was there just for me!

The book is broken into three parts:
1. Why We Stall Out
2. The Powered by Four Solution
3. Engage, Untangle...Grow!


It starts out giving examples of people who were stuck and the sins/hindrances that were keeping them there. Chapter 2 discusses what holds us back and how to start moving forward. I'm going to give a big part away of what this book is about - getting into the Bible is the key. Well, sure it is! That seems easy enough, just read your Bible every day, right? The statistics on how many believers read their bibles is really quite shocking. It was very convicting for me. I finally picked up the One Year Bible I have been wanting to read for quite a while and actually started reading it on a daily basis. That is not going to get me unstuck but it is getting me into the Word on a daily basis, which is more than I was doing!

As it moves into the second part they being talking about how to mature spiritually and truly engage in the Bible, not just read it. One thing that really stood out to me in this part was this on page 123 - "God loves us passionately no matter our imperfections".  That is amazing to me, I have a hard time loving myself due to my imperfections but God loves me PASSIONATELY despite them!! I am trying to let that truth penetrate my life.

The third part is where we are putting this information into action! Moving forward and growing deeper. Engaging in the Bible, Untangling from what has been holding us back and Growing into the people that our loving God has designed us to be!


At the end of each chapter there are "Spiritual Stepping Stones" which are devotions as part of a 45 day plan. There are also "Research Reveals" which are bits that have been learned through their research and "Encouraging Nudge" which are notes encouraging our growth.

I did not do the 45 day journey with this, however I am getting ready to. My husband is wanting to read this book but I am going to have to buy him his own copy since I have done some highlighting and written in this one. The book is used in connection with www.unstuck.gotandem.com, a resource to help you engage in the Bible and help you to get unstuck.  There is a confidential spiritual growth assessment and then you will get content for what you need and you get to choose how you want to receive it. Again, I have not yet done this but I am going to soon.

I feel like even though I have fully read this book there is still so much for me to gain from it. I highly recommend this to anyone who feels stuck or anyone who doesn't! It is well written and very easy to understand. I am incredibly excited to read through it again and do the 45 day challenge!

I encourage you to go to www.unstuck.gotandem.com to learn more about the book.


I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review -- Submerged by Dani Pettrey




Submerged is written by new author Dani Pettrey and is set in Alaska. At first I thought that this might be an *okay* book just judging by the back cover, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did! I tend to stick to romance or amish novels most of the time but I do enjoy a good suspense now and again. With this being a new author I was completely unsure what to expect, having no past books to compare this to.

Right away this book captures your attention, only three sentences into the book and the action is in full force.  Agnes seems to be one of the main characters as the story immediately revolves around her, yet there is so much left up in the air about her. Part of what I loved about the story was how the author kept you wondering about what exactly was going on. I enjoy trying to figure out the mystery that lies within the story. You will also meet Bailey, Cole, and all of Cole's family, not to mention the many other interesting characters that make the story complete.

The story takes place in a small town  - Yancey, Alaska.  It is a place where most of the characters have grown up together. One thing about small towns is that often everybody knows everyone else's business and the past is not often forgotten. In this story Bailey is having to re-live and work through many of the unpleasant things she did as a teenager. She is now a Christian and a new person, yet there are people from her past that have not forgotten who she was and still see her that way. She had no desire to return to Yancey and face her past, but she inherited her aunt's store and had to return to tie up loose ends.

The book is filled with action and intrigue, but also with lessons on forgiveness and acceptance. Bailey has to learn to receive forgiveness from people and from God. She learns to see herself through God's eyes, rather than through the fog of her past mistakes. This is something I personally still struggle with, seeing myself as God sees me (beautifully made in His image!) not as I see myself - tarnished by my past and the things I hold onto that God has long since forgotten.

Another neat aspect of this book is all the info on diving. I am not sure I will ever be brave enough to go diving, never mind for extended periods of time! The author has a way of writing that has you easily picturing what the characters are seeing and experiencing. I am incredibly excited to see more from Dani Pettrey!

I totally loved this book and I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in this series! This book is absolutely worth checking out!


I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekly Goals - July 9 - 15


Oh boy, it has been TOO long since I have done my weekly goals! My house is showing it too, I am way behind on things. Silly me, I had thought with Summer here life would slow down for a bit. I could not have been more wrong! It is only a little over a month before school starts again!

I just sent G off to camp for another week, hard to believe he is old enough for Jr. High camp! I am a little worried he will come back an inch taller and have outgrown his shoes again. Back in April I posted hat G was wearing men's size 9 shoes, in June I had to buy him size 10! Ack! He is growing like crazy and I don't see a break from that anytime in the near future!


Weekly Goals July 9-15


Family/Mothering Goals

1. Put on the calendar fun things to do as a family once a week for the next month (then do this weeks!)

2.  Show Bill how much I appreciate him on a daily basis

Personal Goals
3. Read my Bible, work on a Study at least 20 minutes a day

Home Management
4. Go to bed with all dishes done and any laundry put away

5. Go through piles in living room and put things where they go

6. Menu plan for the next 2 weeks

Business Goals
7. Make a list of items I would like to have on hand

8. Work on Farmer's Market stuff for the 21st so I don't stress next week!

Garden Goals
9. Water & Weed every day, harvesting as needed!

10. Can apricot, peach and strawberry jam and hopefully some okra!


This feels like a good list that will really help me get back on track but still take care of the most important things! Have a blessed week!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chai Latte Ice Cream - My Moment of Brilliance!

A couple of weeks ago I  had this fabulous idea to make ice cream and flavor it with chai latte mix. I finally got around to doing it today! When I mentioned the idea to my husband he told me that if he wasn't already married to me he would definitely marry me! I would say that was a sign I needed to make it! I was using a Cuisinart 1 1/2 Quart Ice Cream maker, if you use a different kind you may need to adjust the quantities of the ingredients!



Ingredients:

1/2 cup 2 % milk
6 Tablespoons Homemade Chai Mix (surprise, surprise I found it on Pinterest!)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (I keep mine in the fridge)
2 cups 2 % milk

I heated the 1/2 cup of milk enough to dissolve the Chai Mix and then put it in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.

I then combined the sweetened condensed milk, the 1/2 cup milk/chai and the 2 cups of milk and mixed it well.

I poured it into the Ice Cream maker and waited about 25 minutes and then we all enjoyed it's awesomeness!

I put the extra into a freezer safe container and stuck it in the freezer. A couple of hours later I pulled it out and it still had a great texture, nice & creamy! The only thing I may do different next time is use half & half instead of the 2 cups of milk, it would make it even creamier! I am interested to know if anyone tries it! Also, feel free to Pin It!


Photo by my fabulous husband and his camera that takes such great pictures!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

All dressed up and feeling fabulous!

I am *finally* getting around to posting a picture about the beautiful dress I won from CCB Custom Dresses! Being able to choose exactly what I wanted was so much fun and I love that it is unique! I chose an A-line skirt, short sleeves, and a v-neck. I do not often wear dresses anymore,  jeans (or capri's) & t-shirts are my go-to look. I have to admit I actually have really enjoyed wearing this dress. I feel beautiful wearing it and I love that it doesn't cling to my body, which would cause me to feel uncomfortable.


Here is a fabulous shot that my talented hubby took of me in my dress:



I am not crazy about pictures of me, but as I am learning to love myself (and my body) more - I am able to appreciate the photos! That isn't my favorite photo though, my sister in law had my hubby's picture and caught this one of us and I LOVE it!!




We've been married for 8 1/2 years and I am incredibly blessed to be married to this man! He loves me, he loves our boys, and above all he loves the Lord! I love that man so much and I'm thankful that he's mine! That has nothing to do with the dress - well, except that he thinks I look beautiful in it - but I think any time is a good time to tell the World how much I love my hubby!!

I would highly recommend browsing her site over at CCB Custom Dresses, it is not only maxi dresses there are many styles to choose from. The dresses are incredibly well made and the fit is amazing because it is made to fit your measurements! One of my favorite features is that it is machine washable, I do not like anything that requires extra care! I was not asked to give a review of the dress, I chose to because I think it is fantastic!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's been a Pinteresting month around here!

Oh Pinterest, how I love thee! I know that I have posted about Pinterest before but I just love it more & more all the time.  I am using it as a place to organize the things I want to try. A few weeks ago I found some activities for my boys to do this summer so we don't all lose our minds! I have a board called Kid Stuff where I have activities, snacks, and crafts that I think my boys will enjoy. Another thing I found on Pinterest this week was a list of 65 read aloud books for BOYS I am hoping to read at least 2 this summer with the kids.

I have become such an addict that I have even created a board called Things I have made that I pinned so that I can keep track of what we have tried. I am excited to say it is filling up quickly!

Take a look at this beauty that I made for my cousin's wedding: (photo by my amazingly talented husband - it is a copyrighted image)



I used this recipe for the cake, with a few changes (and a LOT of trial & error) and it turned out amazing! It was nice and dense but at the same time perfectly moist! For the frosting I totally ditched my tried & true recipe and method, and after the cake disasters trials it was a little scary. Never have I been so happy I tried something new! I found a video tutorial on how to make the buttercream frosting look perfectly smooth, then I followed the link on her page to the buttercream recipe. The frosting is amazing, I used a clear Mexican vanilla and it just made it perfect!

I also got to make a cute, teeny-tiny outfit for the honorary ring bearer who was 3 weeks old at the wedding - and oh so tiny & perfect!! It was inspired by this onesie, and I made pants from this pattern and they were super quick & easy! Here is how it came out:




So adorable!! Obviously Pinterest has become a great place for me to find new things to try! A couple of days ago I made a new salad to go with our pizza and then tried a new ice cream recipe using root beer - tasted just like a root beer float! There are so many other things I have already made and many, many more that I want to try on Pinterest. Top on my list go things to try is making a maxi dress like this.  I have fallen in love with maxi dresses, which is odd since I'm just not a big fan not dresses or skirts. Hopefully I will be able to try it in the next couple of weeks.

Be looking for another book review soon, I have completely devoured the newest fiction book I was sent. Still working my way through a spiritual growth book also. Reading has been a great way to pass some of these 106 plus degree days here! Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review - "The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis

In case you don't know me well I will share a little secret with you -- I LOVE to read!  Well, maybe it isn't a secret but it is still true. I have always been a bookworm and I enjoy getting lost in a good story or re-living parts of History. 



Beverly Lewis is easily one of my favorite authors. I love her writing style and how easily I get drawn into the story and the lives of her characters.  I just finished reading her latest book - The Fiddler - and really enjoyed it. It was different than many of her Amish novels in that the perspective was from the Englisher and not the Amish character. 

The Fiddler is the first book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series. Amelia is an incredibly gifted violinist who has discovered a passion for fiddling - something she fears will upset her parents. She is basically living a secret life as "Amy Lee" playing as an opening act for country artists. During a terrible storm she gets lost and meets a young Amish man who is trying to decide whether to join the Amish Church.

During a trip to Hickory Hollow, Amelia realizes that her gift is not being used to glorify God. She decides she wants to make some changes in her life and knows that they will not be met with approval from her agent, her father, or her boyfriend. 

I am not going to give away what happens in the book as I don't want to spoil it for anyone! I will say that it is a great reminder that we need to slow down sometimes and look at how we are using our own gifts. Is what we are doing being used to glorify God or are we using our gifts only to further our own desires?

I was concerned that with it being the first in a series I would get to the end of the book and be upset that I will have to wait for the next one to come out. I can say that is not the case! While I am looking forward to the next book, I am not frustrated at an ending that left me hanging. Yet again I am thrilled with another Beverly Lewis novel! 

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My aching heart

Today I am writing with a heavy heart. This morning I took my almost 12 year old son to a funeral.  The funeral was for a healthy, vibrant 40 year old woman whose daughter is in my son's class.  It happened fairly suddenly and was a shock to everyone. She was a wife, a mom to 2 intelligent kids, and a para at the elementary school. Many people are struggling with this loss. It is hard to understand why people who are so young and with so much life to live pass away. I can be sure we will never understand this.  My heart is breaking for this sweet young girl who has lost her mom.

On our way home I was thinking about how short our lives here on Earth can be. Am I taking advantage of every day or am I whining & complaining about what my kids are doing? I am definitely not taking advantage of every day. I need to hug & kiss my kids more and be frustrated with them less. I need to make better use of the time I have. I also need to make sure my kids see me spending time in God's Word, deepening my relationship with Him. I want to leave a legacy like the one my Grandma left, but I have a LONG way to go to do that.  I just have so much on my mind & heart today  - but the one thing that is very clear to me is that I need to have my life right with Christ. I need to spend some time on my knees asking for forgiveness and seeking after Christ and what he has for my life.

Hug your kids an extra time or 10 today.


To any of my friends and family thinking about getting me something for my birthday, think about donating some money to my local Library. They are working on renovating the building and could definitely use any extra money! I was inspired by the young mom whose funeral we attended today, she was very involved with their library and she loved helping kids learn to love reading. I don't need any "stuff" and this gift would be something that would keep giving!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Weekly goals and my new love


Normally I would put the Weekly Goals image first, but I have something so much more exciting this week! I GOT A DISHWASHER! I have been without one for almost 4 years, well I have 3 but they all seem to be broken. One of them does work, it's just sporadic (love you Bill!). This is such a big deal for me, it will save so much time and be easier for me to keep up with the dishes! Can you tell I'm excited? Now to teach the kiddos to load it, already training G! WooHoo! 






Well I didn't do super awesome last week but also not horrible, considering the amount of time I spent at the kids' school or at school activities last week! Plus getting ready for the garage sale, which ended up being very lucrative (partially due to the 18 pints of pickles I sold!). We were able to pay for G's Jr High Camp and purchase a family pool pass! 


Weekly Goals May 7-12
Family Goals
1. Be purposeful about spending fun time together as a family
2. Complete a marriage challenge (more about this next week) -- going to have to wait on this a bit, life got super crazy & stressful last week.
Personal Goals
3. Spend at least 20 min a day studying my Bible
4.  Exercise! I have dropped a few pounds lately and I am only 11 pounds away from the point at        which I will be able to ride our horse, but exercise will be key!
Household Goals
5. Get stuff ready for garage sale!
6. Keep up on laundry/dishes
Wedding Goals (my cousin is getting married in June!)
7. Trial wedding cake -- made up the recipe in cupcake form and it was a hit!!
8. Make a red satin tie for the bridesmaid dresses
9. Make a vest/tie onesie for the honorary ring bearer (who will be a couple weeks old!)
10.  Make a hair clip to match the ties for our bridesmaids dresses so I have an option for my hair!


This is the last full week of school and I am trying to take advantage of every quiet moment!! We have also started our crazy expensive month starting with Mother's Day (though all I wanted this year was relief from my daily chores - it was awesome!) and after 5 birthdays (3 of those being Bill's, mine & G's) a graduation and a wedding it will end on Father's Day. Whew!

Weekly Goals May 13 - 19

Family Goals

1. Make a list of things to keep the boys entertained this summer so they have less time to argue!

2.  Do something every day to let my husband know how much I appreciate & love him!

Personal Goals

3. Do a daily devotion

4. Exercise! Be active every day.

Household Goals

5. Get Living Room back in order after the garage sale madness

Garden Goals

6. Get tomato plants & cucumber seeds planted

7. Pick mulberries to make jam

Wedding Goals

8. Make a red satin tie for the bridesmaid dresses

9. Make a vest/tie onesie for the honorary ring bearer (who will be a couple weeks old!)

10.  Make a hair clip to match the ties for our bridesmaids dresses so I have an option for my hair!


Looks like I have much to accomplish! Fortunately keeping up on dishes will be so much easier! 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekly Goals - my crazy life!

  


Well, oops! It's been a few weeks since I've posted. I know I have said this before, but how on Earth did life get so busy??? Whew.  My goals the past couple of weeks have just been to keep up on household chores, the garden, and get the animals taken care of. I can happily say that I succeeded, mostly. Laundry piled up over the weekend but it's not out of control.

I spent quite a bit of time working in the garden, especially on weed patrol! I am constantly amazed at how quickly weeds can come up, unlike the good plants that take a while. Good things come to those that wait! Our potato plants are starting to bloom, as are the peas! We have 7 tomato plants already in and another 4 I need to get out there, not to mention the crazy amount of volunteer tomato plants that are popping up! The onions are thriving and soon I will have to thin out the carrots, beets & radishes! I started some seeds in egg cartons last Monday and the cauliflower and okra have already sprouted up.

I am not going to have a lot of crazy goals this week as it is filled with school activities for the boys! Plus getting ready for the city wide garage sale this Saturday morning and my cousin's bachelorette party that evening! Looking forward to Mothers Day also - all I want this year is to have all the dishes done (not by me) meals prepared and cleaned up after (again, not by me) and no extra messes in the house!


Weekly Goals May 7-12


Family Goals
1. Be purposeful about spending fun time together as a family

2. Complete a marriage challenge (more about this next week)

Personal Goals
3. Spend at least 20 min a day studying my Bible

4.  Exercise! I have dropped a few pounds lately and I am only 11 pounds away from the point at        which I will be able to ride our horse, but exercise will be key!

Household Goals
5. Get stuff ready for garage sale!

6. Keep up on laundry/dishes

Wedding Goals (my cousin is getting married in June!)
7. Trial wedding cake

8. Make a red satin tie for the bridesmaid dresses

9. Make a vest/tie onesie for the honorary ring bearer (who will be a couple weeks old!)

10.  Make a hair clip to match the ties for our bridesmaids dresses so I have an option for my hair!


I said I wasn't going to have a lot of goals but I guess it's unavoidable! I helped out at the kids' school today in the lunchroom and at recess so that the teachers could have a special lunch in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week. Wednesday is the 6th grade track meet and G will be doing the 400 meter, high jump and a 4 by 100. Apparently the kid has mad high jump skills and can run like the wind without getting winded (not surprised as he runs everywhere he goes!).  Thursday is Bible Study, D's field trip, and G's rocket launch - I am going to be running like crazy that day! Friday there is no school so we will all be helping get ready for the big yard sale! I am really having to work on scheduling things and making an effort to get all the tasks done!

We are also working on figuring out what to do about our new (to us) van that needs a new transmission ($$$$$$$).  Ah well, so it is with life. God is teaching me to go with the flow and most of all to trust that He will take care of us. I really should have this down by now as He has proven that we are taken care of over & over & over.  On the plus side through the stress & worry I am learning to lean more on Him!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekly Goals and a bit of an Easter rant


Well what do you know, it's Monday and I am actually getting to the Weekly Goals!!  I took the week off last week as I have been dealing with some unpleasant side effects from new medication and I just haven't felt well. Laundry has piled up,  housework is way backed up and there are a few dishes to do.  This weeks goals are not going to be huge or monumental because I will not be able to accomplish those!

Here are the last goals I posted:


Weekly Goals  March 26 - April 1


Family/Mothering Goals
1. Get back to doing Family Game Night once a week!
2. Do a fun project with the boys
3. Do something to show Bill how much I appreciate him on a daily basis
Personal Goals
4. Try some new things with my hair, this ponytail thing is just not cutting it!
5. Blog at least 2 times
6. Don't allow myself to be overwhelmed by these goals
Home Management
7. Work on filing the massive amounts of papers 
8. Get out Bill's Spring clothes and put Winter clothes away!
Garden
9. Put onions in and make seed tapes for other veggies & flowers  Made seed tape for beets, carrots, and radishes and got them all in the garden just before it rained again!!
Business Goals
10. Get tax information finished up & make 1 thing to sell


Here are the goals for this week:

Weekly Goals April 9-15

Family/Mothering Goals
1.  Family Game Night

2.  Show Bill how much I appreciate him on a daily basis

Personal Goals
3. Work on Bible Study at least 20 min every day 

Home Management
4. Get caught up on laundry

5. Get seasonal clothes switched out

6. Taxes

Business Goals
7. Taxes

8. Two orders  - baking , taggie blanket

You will note that taxes are listed twice, obviously I am running out of time!  I got the dress I won in the  mail last week and I LOVE it! I wore it for Easter, it was so nice not to have to worry about what I was going to wear and if I looked or felt ok in it! I am hoping to be able to get pictures taken in it this week and be able to blog about it. Today I am hanging out with one of my favorite 3 year olds while his momma works, he is so much fun. He loves to sing and dance and play like a wild man and it reminds me of when my guys were little! Speaking of my guys, My ELEVEN year old son is now wearing size NINE men's shoes, who is giving this kid miracle grow? Hard to believe that I am going to have a Jr Higher this fall, it is exciting and scary all at the same time. 

Hope you all had a blessed Easter! We got up early and went to the 8am service and it was a powerful service! If you are interested in checking it out you can watch it here: Easter Service. I have really been convicted this year how much "stuff" we do on Easter that has nothing to do with what our Savior did for us. Why do I feel like giving my kids toys & candy is an appropriate way to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? I ended up taking some things back that I had gotten for them and they still had more than enough. We need less stuff in our lives and more Jesus to fill those spots that we think that "stuff" fulfills. Less stuff, more Jesus. That needs to be my plan, to get all the extra stuff out and spend more time studying the Bible and reading it.  It sounds simple but I know that it will be challenging for me, it will take a lot of effort for me to let go of stuff and be still so that I can study and listen. 

I hadn't planned on getting so serious but it was on my heart so out it came! One thing we do with the boys is hide one empty egg among the candy filled ones. It made my heart happy yesterday when my 6 year old was able to tell me why it was empty without help from his brother! It's empty because the tomb is empty! He is Risen!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weekly Goals - not even going to pretend it's Monday this week


I am a master procrastinator.  I meant to get to this Monday but it was a bit daunting this week as I have not completed them again. It would be so easy for me to just quit doing it now as I have with so many things over the years. However, I am going to continue even if I don't get it done on time.

Last weeks goals
Family/Mothering Goals

1. Get back to doing Family Game Night once a week!
2. Do a fun project each day with the boys (made Borax crystal ornaments yesterday!) 
3. Greet Bill with a smile on my face and a good attitude when he arrives home in the evening - didn't do good this week, I am so sorry love!
Personal Goals
4. Go for a walk 4 times this week
5. Blog at least 2 times
6. Finish chapter 3 and read chapter 4 in A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Depression - need a break from this for a bit.
Home Management
7. Work on getting Household Binder in order - create sections and print off any lists I will need
8. Get out Bill's & my Spring clothes and put Winter clothes away! -- got mine done and thinned it out a bit
Garden
9. Purchase onions and get them in the ground, make sure peas are back underground after the wind & rain - peas are sprouting, onions will go in this week
Business Goals 
10. Get tax information finished up - so close, just a little left!



On to this week, do some of these things seem like wimpy goals? Maybe they are but I am going to try them anyhow!

Weekly Goals  March 26 - April 1



Family/Mothering Goals
1. Get back to doing Family Game Night once a week!

2. Do a fun project with the boys

3. Do something to show Bill how much I appreciate him on a daily basis

Personal Goals
4. Try some new things with my hair, this ponytail thing is just not cutting it!

5. Blog at least 2 times

6. Don't allow myself to be overwhelmed by these goals

Home Management
7. Work on filing the massive amounts of papers 

8. Get out Bill's Spring clothes and put Winter clothes away!

Garden
9. Put onions in and make seed tapes for other veggies & flowers

Business Goals
10. Get tax information finished up & make 1 thing to sell


In other news I WON a custom maxi dress from CCB Custom Dresses and it is shipping this week! I am so excited to get it! I will definitely be posting pics of me in it!