Friday, June 24, 2011

Clothing transformations!

Now that it's summer and my girls need new clothes--here's what I did. . .take an old dress or t-shirt, cut off part, sew on some fabric to make a skirt part--and my dress-loving girls are clothed very inexpensively!! And it was a very quick make, since the tough part (the bodice) is already made

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicken sausage! :)

We just butchered 25 meat chickens and that's a LOT of meat!! :) Some is in the freezer, some is canned and on the canning shelves, and some is made into sausage!! I have got to say I love my new grinder! I received this grinder as a raffle prize at a work event my husband had to attend, and had not used it until now.

I have got to say, this grinder is wonderful! I do have a kitchenaid attachment grinder, which is what I have used up to this point, but this grinder was great! As a matter of fact, my kids did most of the work--grinding the meat, mixing it with spices etc and some soaked bulgur (stretches the meat and you can't tell--it's great in sausage!!) AND BONUS---THERE IS A SAUSAGE STUFFING ATTACHMENT INCLUDED!!!!!!! yes, that's all in caps--yes, I am shouting about it :) How wonderful!! So much easier than my old method of using a hand pump jerky shooter to stuff the sausage casings!!

Sausage casings still gross me out, but the end product is wonderful, and adds a great variety to our chicken menus for the year! (it's not all we eat, but with raising between 50 and 75 meat birds a year, sometimes it feels like it's all just chicken!)

Billy Graham in Quotes by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney

The book Billy Graham in Quotes is a great reference book authored by his son Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney. Billy Graham used the Bible as the source for his ideas and preaching, and that shows forth through the quotes which were chosen for this anthology. The quotes are organized by topic into chapters relating to one idea/theme relating to life, ranging from work to religion to the Bible to children, and etc. These quotes were taken from his writings from the 1940’s to 2010.

I’d classify this book as a reference book. It is very well-organized to help the reader find Graham’s quotes/thoughts in a specific area of life very easily. It’s not a “read it through” type of book, but rather one to refer to, whether to find a quote to illustrate a sermon or paper or just to use in an encouraging fashion. They are referenced in the back to show where each quote was taken from.

I did like this book, full of countless quotes from a great Christian example. I found myself flipping back and forth to the reference section in the back to see the dates/source of different quotes. I think I would have preferred at least the date to accompany the quote, and some of the quotes left me wishing to have read them in context rather than just solo.

I’d recommend this book to someone who uses little snippets (quotes) on a regular basis. It’s not necessarily a book that I’d use in my day-to-day life, but I imagine others might.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Managing God's Money by Randy Alcorn

The book Managing God’s Money is a “must read” for all people who are committed to living as God wishes them to. The author, Randy Alcorn, touches on many topics such as debt, savings, eternal rewards, poverty, missions, retirement, tithing, and so many more; topics which are a part of each of our lives. The overall theme of the book is stewardship and giving. Reminders that money is not ours, but God’s are throughout the book.

Alcorn uses Biblical references and Scripture passages to illustrate each of his points—they are not just ideas he has come up with on his own, but rather actual Scriptural principles of how we should live in following the Lord. The largest focus of the book is giving: to the local church, to missions, to organizations which are fulfilling God’s purposes, etc. The book is at once convicting, comforting, encouraging, and instructive.

I very much liked this book. It is a broad spectrum book on finances from a Biblical perspective. I would recommend it to people from all walks of life who desire to follow God more fully. It even has a great price tag—as opposed to some money management books which are quite pricey, this book is marketed at $5.99. It’s also a very easy book to read, separated into little chunks which can be thought about and applied to your life.

I received a copy of this book for free from Tyndale publishers as a part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review of this book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

I loved the idea of the book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus before I read it. The little blurb on the back of the book made me excited to jump right into it. Now that I have finished reading it, I’m not so sure. “Why?” You might ask, “what’s wrong with grace?” No, no, no, that’s not what I’m getting at. Grace is wonderful, the gift from God. Let me start from the beginning and do a nice little summary/review of the book. Here you go. . .

The premise of the book Give Them Grace is to use the wonderful grace that God demonstrates toward us as the basis for your training of your children. The authors tell about why the truth of God’s grace and Jesus’ loving atoning sacrifice are what we need to teach our children about, rather than rules and regulations. They give little sample conversations to have with your child after he/she has misbehaved, and give alternate wording for using with your children instead of words like behave, good job, etc. I am so thankful for God’s grace toward us, but I also set rules that my children need to obey. Maybe I didn’t really “get” the ideas they were trying to share. I cannot imagine using little 3-minute sermonettes with my little children in response to a disobedient action or unkind word. The conversation scripts they included sounded lovely and sweet, but honestly I cannot imagine an actual parent using them with their children. As I read the book (and also looked at other people’s glowing reviews of the book) I wondered to myself if maybe I was just disliking the book because it is different than how I “parent”. Maybe. I don’t know. I do know that I want to rely on Scripture to guide my parenting and the requirements I place on my children. The book did bring the thought of God’s grace and how it affects every part of our lives to the forefront of my mind, and that was a benefit. However, the book on the whole was not my style, I couldn’t imagine practical usage of it, therefore I did not care for it. Maybe you will.

I was provided with a free copy of this book by Crossway ( for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. Thanks Crossway for the opportunity!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Born Yesterday: Diary of a Young Journalist by James Solheim

Usually my book reviews are of books I've received for free for review from the publisher. NOT THIS ONE!! :) This is just one I want to share with you! My daughter brought this home from the library--it is one of the books nominated for the Red Clover award for this year in Vermont. Oh my word, it is SO hilarious!! She kept reading parts out loud for us all, and they were so enjoyable :) Just silliness. The premise of the book is that it is a newborn writing in his journal about his day to day experiences. It is just silliness :) Silliness that the whole family will enjoy :) Here's a link to

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The stigma of raising your own meat

Do any of you raise your own meat? Do you get weird looks and comments from friends and acquaintances? We raise meat chickens and my son has begun raising meat rabbits. People say things like, eeew, how can you eat those cute things? You know, I'll agree that they're cute (the rabbits that is!) but at some point all meat is "cute". You just don't always see it at that stage (packaged in the grocery store it's just meat, not something "real") It's NOT easy especially the process of turning it into meat, but for healthy reasons, we have chosen to do this. So how do you deal with those kinds of questions/comments? Or do you just not tell people how you feed your family?

(it's funny, those same people don't give us negative comments about us fishing, keeping and filleting the fish and eating them!)

Where Will You Go From Here? by Valorie Burton

This book, written by a “certified personal and executive life coach” is a book which sounded like something which could be helpful to several people I know who are going through major life changes. I read it thinking that I’d possibly refer others to it, but now that I’ve finished it, I don’t know if I will suggest it at this point.

The book was easy to read, and full of great stories of people who successfully came out of very hard life situations (divorce, health catastrophes, loss of job, foreclosures, etc.) The author gives steps for a person to go through to move from the crisis to a successful life.

I didn’t really love this book and will probably not recommend it to my hurting friends/family members. Why? Well, some reasons are that it’s very geared toward a “think positive and everything will work out okay” mindset. Some people do have an easy time with that positive thinking, depending on personality type, but for others, that is just not a natural suggestion. I didn’t feel that it would be well-received by hurting people I know. I wished that it had focused more on God and His working in and through us and our circumstances, the place of prayer and listening to the Lord, and other spiritual themes. Now, that all being said, I do think that there are some people, some personality types which COULD be motivated by this book. There are valid suggestions and it is written in a very caring and kind and positive way. It just depends on the individual, I guess.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trusting God for Everything by Jan Johnson

This book by Jan Johnson is just a small looking book, fewer than one hundred pages, but it is a valuable Bible study tool, a tool to help one draw near to God. It is written as a “personal retreat guide”, intended to be used in a time of concentrated time alone with the Lord. At first the idea of retreat threw me off, as I didn’t see how it would be feasible for me to have that much “alone” time, as the book is intended for. However, as I continued through the book, I realized that it was a lovely Bible study which I can use in my own devotional time with the Lord. Don’t let that retreat terminology stop you from using this book.

The seven chapters, or Meditations, take the reader through the 23rd Psalm, one which many of us are have know since childhood. The author uses several different methods to take us out of that mindset of “I’m so familiar with this, there can’t possibly be anything I can learn from it!” and into a spot where it can affect our lives. She uses different methods such as guided imagery, changing the phrase order, personalizing the verses, etc. to allow us to look at these passages in a different way, to allow God to speak to us through this chapter.

I would certainly recommend this book. It will give you a better understanding of God’s loving care for each of His children.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker

Finding true abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving is the subtitle of this book, and it sums it up nicely! This book about how the Amish deal with issues relating to money is a very interesting read, full of good, practical ideas. Some of these are themes we already know and should be following, such as save your money, don’t buy on credit, and use what you have before you buy new.

More interesting ideas about how to maximize your finances are such things as bartering, buying secondhand (even for gifts!!), re-use things, etc. This is not a book which guilts you into changing your ways, but it very gently tells how ideas that Amish families utilize to be responsible with money can become a part of your (non-Amish) life as well.

I liked this book very much, although it seems that many of the ideas mentioned in the book are ones that I’m already implementing (although I think my husband should read this book. . .!) They were not ideas that are new or only used by the Amish, but it was still a good book. It did have some other ideas that I hadn’t thought of, and on the whole it was a very interestingly written book, did not feel like a chore at all to read it. I would recommend this book to anyone, not just someone in economic hardships. It is interesting, full of ideas that are healthy for everyone.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Ah, another historical romance! I’m not so much usually a reader of romances, but this book was very enjoyable. It’s the story of a man living out a second chance. He has been released from prison, where he came to a personal relationship with Christ. Now he is trying to begin again, hoping his past life won’t “ruin” his new life. Of course there’s a woman—the “spinster” librarian—I don’t want to give too many details and spoil it for anyone. . .so I’ll leave my summary at that! The book focuses on the entire story, not just the “romance.”

So, having stated at the beginning that I’m not much of a “romance” reader, I really did enjoy this book! It was a quick, easy, kind of “fluffy” read that is great for entertainment. It does not have objectionable material in it (thank you to the author and Bethany House for that!) and it has a wonderfully happy ending, which is what I like in my fiction! It’s not loaded with historical details, just set in an old-fashioned setting. There is more to the story than just the man-pursuing-woman theme—several different sub-plots are played out as well. It did make me tear up a few times  It’s just a sweet romance—It would make a great vacation read!

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Real Simplicity by Rozanne and Randy Frazee

So many people are seeking to simplify their lives—and this book is written to assist them. The theme of this book is to simplify our lives by simplifying relationships with people—family members, neighbors, and others we come into contact with. Another area this book advises on how to simplify is time/time management.

It’s kind of hard for me to write a review of this book from a personal point of view. Quite honestly, we are a rural-living, homeschooling family, my husband walks to work—we are not really the type of people this book was written for. This book was written for urban/suburban families who are involved in a lot of out-of-the-home activities, a lot of “after school” sports and other activities for their children, overextended time-wise. Having said this, though, I do believe that these principles/ideas are helpful to those living that ultra-busy life. It’s an easy book to read, with lots of personal examples and anecdotes (and a few recipes too!) It is kind of a self-help type book, there’s not very much Scripture given to validate the suggestions.

I do know many families who would do well to read this book and apply its suggestions. It is a valuable book for those who are in that overly busy place in their lives. I would certainly suggest this book.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher, Zondervan, for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

another sheet project

I DID mention that I like to use old sheets for projects, right? :) They're such an inexpensive source of cute prints! This one is an apron, in case you can't tell by the pic. :)