Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Meal Planning! Ideas and a link-up for your great recipes!

I tend to spend a whole lot less on groceries when I make a meal plan for the upcoming month...but along with that I think I tend to fall into a rut of the same meals over and over :) We raise meat chickens and turkeys and my husband hunts and we all the freezer is full of lots of different meats :)

SO -- how about a linkup to share some of your favorite meal recipes with me?  I'd love to expand our repertoire with some of your great recipe ideas, and I'm sure many of you could use some fresh recipe ideas as well!

Hey, how about healthy-ish ideas :)  NOT looking for stuff like packaged mixes or processed foods :)

To join in, please add a link to your blog post (from whenever, doesn't need to be from this month!) with the "name" section the name of the recipe!

Thanks in advance for all the great ideas! :)

Link right up here!! :)

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall (review)

Looking for a quick and easy read for the winter holidays?  This Amish-like book by Cindy Woodsmall, The Angel of Forest Hill, is worth reading!  It's a short and enjoyable read, though a bit lightweight (I think).

Rose, the main character, has been sent away from her very large Amish family by her bishop to help out a very small Amish community -- all the way (from Pennsylvania) to West Virginia.  She is intended to assist a family who has two children and one imminent.  When she arrives she is met with a mourning family, the mother having died in childbirth.

The community tries to find a way to help out the new widower and the solution suggested by his father is that he marry Rose, not of love (of course) but a kind of way to find a live-in mother type figure to care for the children.  Rose agrees and they begin this strange relationship of sorts.

A few years go by and Rose and Joel have formed some sort of bonds.  They work well together, though their relationship is not like a traditional marriage.

I don't want to give too much away...the story follows the progression of their relationship from this sham marriage to the possibility of something more meaningful.  There are major hurdles along the way, some being Rose's past upbringing, some jealousy and anger, and others.

I thought it was a nice story.  It was not really deep, can be read quickly.  It didn't seem like many Amish-type books I've read before -- the characters seemed much more liberal.

Basically it's a love story with (yes) a happy ending :) If you're looking for a feel-good quick read, pick this one up!

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

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Here's a new blog button someone's helping me to make...


Monday, December 19, 2016

Sea smoke

Brrrrr! So cold! Early in the winter when the temps get really low (below 0) and the lake is still liquid, occasionally we get a glimpse of what they used to call "sea smoke" back when we lived in Maine near the ocean. Driving across the causeway with the lake on both sides, it feels slightly mysterious, as if we are in some suspenseful movie scene. So...sea smoke (though technically not "sea" as it is a freshwater lake, and not "smoke" because it's just not :) ) is kind of a frosty fog rising from the water when before it's frozen and when the air temps are very cold (this morning around zero).

Here are pictures, slightly blurry since we were driving, but maybe you can get a feel for this peculiar phenomenon! :) The lake in this pic is beginning to freeze, so the "smoke" is not enveloping us, but rather out a ways where it is not yet frozen. You might have to click on the pictures to enlarge them to get the full effect :)

Sunday, December 18, 2016


I have never been a couponer (well, before a couple of years ago!)

Several years ago I had an acquaintance who would post on facebook the items that she would buy for the week, along with the money she spent. I was completely amazed, but had no idea how she did it. After a few months of watching her posts I finally got up the courage to ask her how on earth she did that. She responded with some information about couponing, with the help of couponing websites. I previously had no idea that these existed, but that began my couponing adventures.

We have a pretty low grocery budget, and I have been so blessed by what we have been able to purchase with our funds. When items are on a great sale, when you add a coupon on top of that, the price sinks down very low. In that case I usually buy some ahead, to last through the times when the prices are high again.

It takes a chunk of time to coordinate and plan out the grocery lists for the week, but the savings are very noticeable. My family is eating well and we are spending less.

Three of my most favorite sites to visit for coupon matchups are: Krazy Coupon Lady (, Living Rich With Coupons (here), and Inspiring Savings (here).

I have been blessed through couponing, which is why I wanted to share with you all! :)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Cyberpatriot, a cybersecurity learning and competing opportunity

Have you ever heard of CyberPatriot, "... the National Youth Cyber Education Program" ? (

My daughter learned about this program through a mentor at a computer camp she attended this summer -- he was willing to help us get a team started of our homeschooled kids and their friends who were interested (well, it turned out that it was just my kids and one friend!) Anyhow, he volunteered to help us as our team mentor.

Thus began our CyberPatriot adventure! I signed up as the coach (which is kind of laughable, considering my low computer savvy) and signed our team up (my 3 plus 1). Our mentor and the state representative of the Air Force Association held a few training sessions in which the students learned about cybersecurity and how to fix vulnerabilities on different operating systems (such as windows 7, windows 8, windows 2008, different versions of ubuntu, and more!)

This is a competition-driven learning adventure, I suppose because competition spurs many people on to learn more -- with different tiers of competition, ending with a national competition of the best of the teams. This is year 9 (CyberPatriot IX) and the number of teams competing is around 4404 teams. Teams are made up of a coach and up to 5 members. There are high school teams, middle school teams, and "all service" teams (JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and such).

This program is through The Air Force Association. It's a great opportunity for your interested student to learn more about cybersecurity! To find out more about it, check out this link:

(ps, a lot of schools have teams, you may be able to join one of them...or you can form your own. We are a homeschooled team, I know there are other organizational teams, such as through Girl Scouts and such).

Here are some pictures of our team competing in the November and December rounds.

Friday, December 2, 2016

This week...

You know, when I was a mother of babies and toddlers I used to say silly things like, "We'll never be so busy as _________ seems to be (usually a parent of a high schooler)" Well, here I am and yes, I am eating my words.

I have a pretty awesome life, so blessed by God in so many ways.

But we're busy. BUSY. B---U---S---Y

Busy with what, you say? Well, here are a few snippets from the week... butchering turkeys (ick), picking child up from community college class, taking kids to youth group, taking kids to and from piano lessons, taking kids to and from violin lessons, grocery shopping, working on robot with kids, making mittens and driftwood trees for craft sale this weekend, OH YEAH--HOMESCHOOLING, of course :), taking son to and from guitar lessons, taking daughter to orthodontist appointment, freezing turkey, canning turkey, canning turkey stock, making turkey soup, Christmas shopping (online, b/c I don't like shopping in stores haha), and much, so much, more!

I thank God for where he has put me and for the strength and hope that comes from Him. My daughter used this verse this week in an assignment for one of her classes and it really speaks to me: 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you." YES!!!! Just what I need, thank you Lord for caring for me and taking my anxieties.

Well, got to get ready for that craft fair! I'll leave you with a "before" pic of those turkeys which will provide a LOT of meals for us this winter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lip Balm? My favorite...

Lip balm might be just a small thing, but let me tell you about my absolutely favorite lip balm!! Not only is it MY favorite, but my entire family loves it.

This lipbalm, by Naturemaiden (here's the website: is absolutely delightful. It feels great on the lips, not waxy or heavy at all...and tastes delicious too (haha, but it really does!!)

Concerned about ingredients? From the website, the lip balm is made of coconut oil, beeswax, stevia, flavoring and food grade colors.

She also makes soaps, body sprays, natural pine cone fire starters, and soy candles.

What a great idea for yourself or for gift-giving! Zip right over to her website and make some purchases! I have ALWAYS been happy with naturemaiden products. Check them out! Buy some!

This was a totally unsolicited post :) I just love her products and wanted to share about them with you all!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

Fatal Frost, book one in the Defenders of Justice series by Nancy Mehl, is a book which combines traitors and heros.

Mercy Brennan, a US Marshal, has just lost her father and now is in trouble (as in, her life may be threatened). Her co-workers and friends want to protect her without her knowing, so they set up a fake mission for her ... however there are traitors in the office who are working to eliminate her. She, a co-worker, and a policeman friend set out to supposedly help another guy, but then they fall into treacherous circumstances.

There are many groups involved in this story, the US Marshal service, the police, a drug cartel, and local gangs. There is loyalty and betrayal. Courage, fear, and everything in-between. Even a little nearly heart-warming moment of hope, which is smashed.

I don't want to tell much more of the plot, because, quite frankly, there is not too much of a plot and if I divulge more I may give the whole story away. I did think that the evil plans of the drug cartel were very well thought out and scarily possible.

Did I like this book? It was okay. It wasn't really my taste in books. To me the plot was kind of limited and the character development occurred at spurts. I appreciated the Christianity added into the storyline. The author seemed very well-versed in police/marshal procedures. Just not my favorite.

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World -- this subtitle would grab most people's attention, doesn't it yours? And it's a book about WOMEN! :) Women in Science! My favorite!!

This book, Women in Science, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky is a very pretty book, well, pretty doesn't quite catch the feel, attractive, eye-catching, enjoyable to look at!

Each set of facing pages is a different woman scientist. The author has illustrated each scientist with a stylized drawing of the scientist with a collage of pictures and phrases describing her on the left side. The right side of each set of pages gives a mini biography of each scientist, with little illustrations/high points framing the text.

It's a fun book to read! The little snippets of information are fairly thorough of high points of each one's story, and they are in a layout that is easy to read without getting bogged down in too many statistics. These scientists run the range of time from 350 AD to scientists who are still living today! Their fields of specialty run a wide range, including such titles as botanist, astronomer, microbiologist, meterologist, chemist/xray crystallographer, inventor/film actress, cytogeneticist, behaviorist, geologist, paleontologist, and many more.

This is a great book for any girls to read (or for you to read to/with young girls!) It's inspiring and eye-opening for both boys and girls. I also think it would be a fun book for a college student or for a female scientist (or pretty much anyone!)

I enjoyed this book as did my daughters. I would definitely recommend this book -- it would also make a great gift!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's that time of year... craft sale time!

Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I don't have tons of opportunities to make money. Every year about this time I start getting ready for my one big opportunity :) -- craft fairs (well, maybe not that BIG, but a little extra income this time of year is good!) My product is felted wool mittens lined with fleece. During the summer I look for wool sweaters at yard sales/rummage sales/etc. and then shrink them ("felt them") right away in the washer/dryer with my regular wash. I pop them into a box in the basement, always with grand ambitions to start on the mittens in the summer (yeah, right!) Despite my grand intentions here I am again, a few weeks from the first craft sale, with a lot of mittens to make!

Here's some of the progress thus far:

Homeschooling 2 high schoolers and one jr. higher...leaves me not much time for extra stuff like this :) I am at 11:00 p.m. cutting out mittens :) Yes indeed, it's that time of year! :)

This is my 6th year doing this. I started making these mittens as a response to a **mistake** of washing/drying a cute wool sweater--I didn't want to get rid of it so I looked for ideas of what to do with it...and love them!!

So--how are they made? I take shrunken wool sweaters and I buy fleece at the fabric store when it's on crazy sales (I used to recycle fleece, but find that I like the new fleece better to work with and I think it feels better). I found a pattern online made of 3 pieces (I think maybe this was my first pattern (THIS) ) The difference is that I add a cuff which I cut off of the wrist or waist of the sweaters.

It's a pretty easy project, but they do well at craft fairs! I guess I'd better get sewing!

(((Here's the other idea I used last year, not sure if I'll make them again this year, but I DO like them! :) )))

Saturday, October 8, 2016

From This Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling

I was so excited to read this book, the fourth in the series "Song of Blessing" by Lauraine Snelling. This book (#4) is entitled From This Day Forward. I have read and reviewed the previous books in this series, To Everything a Season (here), A Harvest of Hope (here) and Streams of Mercy (here) and have enjoyed them all! The stories are nice, engaging, and tell of a place you might want to live in a bygone era in Blessing, North Dakota.

SO -- did the book live up to the anticipation? I'm so sorry to say no, it did not. :/ Sorry Mrs Snelling, I really loved your earlier books in this series :/ but this one just... a little blah.

This book follows one of the nurses from the hospital, Deborah, and her longing to marry her childhood sweetheart, Toby (who doesn't seem to mirror her interest). She is frustrated, the women give advice, Toby ignores, another man comes, she is interested, and I'm going to leave it there :) I want to leave something for you to find out about without me telling you!

Since this is the fourth book in the series, it heavily depends on the stories and characters from the earlier books. SO much so that I would recommend reading the first three before this one if you want to understand what's going on.

I really didn't love this book. It was a nice story, but not really interesting enough to make me want to read it...I did like it, but I wasn't trying to find times to read it, I just had it with me at different times that I was waiting for the kids or something. The story was really bland, almost not a story at all. The ending was good, but I just didn't feel this book was up to par for this author or this series.

I would recommend this book maybe if you have read the other three...but I didn't love it.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson

Looking for a light, entertaining read? You might want to pick up a copy of A Love Transformed by Tracie Peterson. This book is a romance in a historic setting. The main character, Clara, has recently lost her husband to a shooting. She is confronted with her brother-in-law's telling her that she is not wealthy, as she thought, but that her husband has squandered all their wealth away. In the face of uncertainty at home and the unpleasant presence of her overbearing, pushy mother, Clara flees with her two children to the place where she felt safe and loved as a child, her aunt and uncle's ranch out west.

The story unfolds and the reader learns of the circumstances of Clara's marriage, to a man she did not ever love and was not loved by. We learn of her childhood sweetheart to whom she was engaged before her mother swept her away. Hmmmm... wonder what is coming? :)

Yes, the story does not disappoint. She meets up with her now-jaded ex-fiancee who has lived a ... rough... life and now feels soiled and unworthy. Their love is... (not going to tell you any more!!)

Okay, yes, it's a predictable story, kind of fluffy (do you know what I mean by that? basically just kind of disengage your mind as you read and just read for enjoyment). It's entertaining. A nice clean romance. Not compelling...I didn't stay up to midnight reading :) but a nice easy story.

I would recommend this book. It's not a favorite or anything, but a good clean easy read!

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Taste and See by John Piper

Taste and See by John Piper is a series of "125 Daily Meditations" and is subtitled "Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life." I am very excited about this book. I have read bits and pieces throughout it and am planning to read it daily (as intended). Each of the daily writings is 2-3 pages long and on a certain topic. The little chapter devotions/meditations are Scripturally based and easy to read and understand. I will say don't get put off by the first one :) For some reason that one sounds very academic, filled with words you have to think about to understand the least for me. I felt that the first daily reding did not "flow" in the reading sense. (entitled "The Exuberant Omnipotence of God). However, the following days' writings felt more readable and easier to understand to me.

Examples of daily reading titles include: "Can Joy Increase Forever?" "They Gave It Their Best Shot In Vain" "Take Heed How You Hear" "Ten Reasons to Love the Truth" and so on.

I would recommend this book. I am planning to add it to my daily devotional time and I believe my husband might be planning to also. Superficially it is a nice-looking book as well :) I think it would be a very appropriate gift for folks of many different "religios" interests.

For more info about the author John Piper, click here and for further info about the book, click here.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Midwife's Dilemma by Delia Parr

Book three in the "At Home in Trinity" series by Delia Parr delivers the same level of interesting historical story as the previous two in the series did. The Midwife's Dilemma again follows midwife Martha Cade and the cast of characters enjoyed in the previous two installments (The Midwife's Tale, see review here and The Midwife's Choice, see review here.)

This book three in the series follows right in place after book two. Martha Cade, the midwife, continues in her duties and ministries in the town of Trinity. Friends and acquaintances value her, but she is unable to decide whether to accept the offer of marriage from a long loved friend. The mayor of the town, Thomas, has been waiting for a long time for Martha to commit to marrying him and joining him in life. Martha cannot prioritize which is more important, marrying Thomas or continuing in midwifery. She prays for someone to fill this position in the area, but to no avail.

Martha's life is filled with characters who play parts in this book, from her daughter and her clandestine love story to a blind sailor and his foster son to the sisters she lives with in the confectionary to a mother-daughter duo who have just entered her life.

It's a good story, a lot of it is Martha's back and forth on whether to marry Thomas. There are adventures and little mysteries and a lot of prayer. The characters are interesting and realistic.

I enjoyed this book, as the third in the series. It is a nice read, not so compelling as to keep me up till midnight reading it, but not a chore either. If you are looking for a book with a historical setting (1830's) and a bit of romance, this might be a great series for you to check out! I would recommend it.

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble

A little romance, a lot of mystery---a good read!

Colleen Coble's book Mermaid Moon is a story of Mallory, a mom and a widow, returning to her childhood home to try to understand the mystery of her father's death (murder?) She encounters a past love, a widower with a child, and together they set about unraveling this mystery (as well as keeping Mallory safe/alive as best they can). Someone is threatening her and attempting to harm her. . .who? What mysteries surround her own mother's death? Should she hold the guilt of disappointing her mother?

Her last words from her father were to find her mother. Could he mean her birth mother? Mallory enters a search for her birth parents that take her places unimaginable.

Throughout this all she is hesitantly entering a new relationship with her old love. His parents seem to hate her and she deals with this dynamic as well.

Everything comes to a head and mysteries are revealed and new ones opened up -- lives are threatened and .... (you didn't really think I would tell you more, did you?!) :)

This is a good book! I would definitely recommend it. :) I would call it a mystery with a romance, not too romancey (I know, not a word...) and action filled. I enjoyed it and perhaps you would too!

I received this e-book from the publisher in order to write this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Word of Promise New Testament (Audiobook)

We LOVE audiobooks, especially in the car. We love to check out audiobooks from the library, all kinds of stories from mysteries to classics and they sound great in the car! Now, having this new audiobook of the New Testament we have LOTS of audio for the car!

This audio Bible is a dramatized reading of the New Testament, the NKJV (New King James Version), on CDs. It's a great way to listen to the Scriptures and fill your mind and heart with God's Word. If you are interested in listening to the Bible, you might want to give it a try.

We have been listening to CDs from several different books of the Bible and have enjoyed them for the most part. I have not listened to every single disc and I have not followed along in my Bible to compare the wording with what's in the printed Bible, so I cannot address that part. What I have listened to has been good for getting Scripture on my mind.

It's dramatized. Okay, so for the most part I like this, especially for listening in the car. If you're into different actors you might recognize some of the names of different speakers. The speaking/reading is at a nice pace, easy to listen to.

A few of the things that bugged me were some of the different background sounds that were, I suppose, to help set the scene. As we were listening in the car there were several times that I heard a noise like a problem with my car's engine and had to turn off the CD to hear it better, and lo and behold, it was on the CD . . . one was maybe like a cricket chirping in the background and others were random squeak-ish noises. That might just be a personal thing, listening for engine noises as I drive, but it was a bit annoyong to someone with that habit. Another thing that I wished was on there were chapter headings (for example, "Chapter 3") I understand that those chapter divisions are not a necessity, but I think that I tend to like them, for some unknown reason :)

SO would I recommend it? Yes, I would, especially for use in the car. Remember, these are cds, so if you don't have a cd player in the car or elsewhere, you won't get the same use from them!

I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Green Smoothies by Fern Green

Oohhh! Do you have a juicer or blender or one of those fruit ninjas or such? Are you looking for some ideas/inspiration? This book is full of great recipes/ideas for healthy juicing and smoothie making! The book is called Green Smoothies, by author Fern Green [real name? Hmmmmm :) ]

The photo on front is a pattern for the illustrations throughout the book. There are full-page photo recipes of the ingredients for each delicacy and then a picture of (I assume) the completed juice or smoothie in a cute little bottle with a colored top!

Some of the recipes call for items you probably already have in your fridge, some are a little more seasonal -- or you could purchase them out of season (pricey, but. . .) I guess if you live in an area with a long growing season you're more in luck :)

The book is broken into several sections: smoothies, juices, shots and milks. There's a section about equipment (juicers, etc) and about the different "super greens" as well as one about a juice detox. Each of the recipes also has a few body improvements that the juice or smoothie or such promises, such as *skin enhancing *immunizing *cleansing *body stimulating and more. I can't speak to the actual efficacy of each of these, but they sure look promising!

It's a pretty book, inspiring, full of good ideas. I'd definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

(here are a couple of pictures from the book just to show you how appealing they look!)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Are you a romance reader? This might be the book for you! :) This book, Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund, is a historical fiction/romance book in a setting of a coastal community in Michigan in the 1870's.

Tessa, a schoolteacher who is running away from her past misdeed, arrives at Eagle Harbor to become their next schoolteacher. Her first disappointment is that they were expecting a male teacher and the supervisor seems questionable in his morals. Also on her first day in town she is accosted by a bunch of sailors who threaten her until she jumps/falls into the icy waters and is rescued by Alex, a fisherman. [[here is where the tone of the book is set, I'd say, by the descriptions of this super-handsome, super-strong fellow]].

As Tessa's adventures in town and school continue, so does the love story with Alex and his brother. There are different things that happen in the book, but this is the primary theme. Eventually there is a near-tragedy and in the end a declaration of love by two of the people. I won't spill more :)

SO -- it's a romance, purely a romance. Not much to the story but that. I don't mind romance in the books I read, but I really rather it not be the primary theme. To me it seemed over-romancey (yeah, I know that's not a word) so if you like reading romance books (I know there are a lot of you!) then you will probably like this one. To me, I wouldn't choose to read this type of book. It's a "Christian" book, but there's not really much Christian stuff in it, maybe just the lack of inappropriate romance book themes. . .it's a "clean" book. There were some kind of minor plots that came out in the book that I wished were developed more thoroughly also.

Would I recommend it? Well, it depends. To my mother in law or her mother, who read romances all day long. . .sure. If that's not your thing, then I'd say probably not. If you're just looking for historical fiction, I'd maybe look elsewhere.

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