Friday, December 30, 2011

Another benefit of canning :)

(Sorry about the sideways picture!!)

Sometimes when I'm in the midst of canning, when there are 20 raw chickens in my fridge waiting to be cut up/canned/frozen, or bushels of corn, tomatoes, etc. sitting on my kitchen floor patiently waiting. . .canning seems to be a huge inconvenience, somedays it's so hard to fit it in amongst all the other stuff of life (homeschooling, regular meals, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry, etc.) But I know that it'll be much more of a benefit than a hassle, and we'll enjoy the results for a long time.

Today is a day I'm appreciating all those canned goodies. On this second-to-last day of the year I am making a bunch of meals for the freezer or shelf for my friend who will begin chemotherapy right after the new year. Trying to find meals which will be easy for her husband and pre-teen daughters to prepare. Just picking off my shelf I was able to grab sweet and sour chicken (canned) (which I partnered with a carton of instant rice), several soups (I put each one in a brown bag with some crackers), and now for the freezer--making several batches of chicken divan, chicken bruschetta casserole, and this yummy dinner we enjoy quite a bit which consists of apple pie filling, then the meat, and topped with stuffing.

All these were quickly and easily whipped up from chicken and turkey which we had canned and some other veggies, etc. which were on the canning shelves as well.

So---if you're on the fence about canning--I'd highly recommend you give it a try. Especially if you raise your own meat or have a trusted source for good meat. The freezer is great, but nothing beats the convenience of being able to just pull the cooked, non-frozen (if you're like me, you often forget to pre-thaw!), delicious meat/soups/etc right of the shelf and make a quick dinner!

Give it a try! :)

If you'd like a little more inspiration on canning/farmish stuff/simpler life, etc. check out Deborah Jean's blog hop! here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Couch to 5K ?? :)

I'm always very reluctant to join in with things I see as "fads". I've heard about this couch to 5k program for years and have finally decided to give it a try. I did find one with Christian music here and am currently on week 4. Truthfully I'm liking it! I have always hated running, and get overwhelmed with it. Or envious of people who are good runners (like my sister, who is training for a half marathon!) Or don't have the time/commitment.

So what do I like about this program? It's combo run/walk/run/walk with cues of when to run, when to walk. It's all organized/laid out for you, so you don't have to do the figuring out.'s just for up to 5K. 3 miles doesn't seem tooooo long, but when you're starting fresh with running--it's a good goal! :) seems attainable. AND I don't have to commit hours a day to it.

We'll see how it goes, if I follow through and become a runner! :) Truthfully, beginning a running program in Vermont in December may seem a bit unrealistic, but with long johns, gloves, hat/neckwarmer, etc. maybe I'll be able to enjoy it! :)

The 60 Minute Money Workout by Ellie Kay

I've read articles and heard Ellie Kay on the radio before, and she seems to have some rather clear, good, practical financial advice. With these assumptions I began reading this book, The 60 Minute Money Workout. As I began in the introduction I started getting a feeling that I might not like this book so well. I understand that having a positive attitude toward finances/my handling of finances is important, but a forced 5-10 minutes of "self talk" saying positive things about my handling of this. . .didn't sit right with me. Okay, so on with the book.

It's set up chapter by chapter like an exercise type plan--with 5 min warmup, 10 min strength training, 20 min cardio burn, etc. and the suggested plan of use is to go through one 60 minute chapter session every week. I had a bit of difficulty with getting into this style of organizing her information--as a matter of fact it drove me a bit berserk--made me feel like I didn't want to read the book at all. BUT--plowing through. . .as I read on I found that she had some very practical information on many different family financial topics, such as debt, vacationing, vehicles, retirement, and many more. These were found outside of the cutesy exercise plan segments.

So. . .re-reading what I've written so far. . .sounds like I didn't like the book, right? Well, not exactly. I DID get some good ideas from it. I'd suggest that if you read this book, just skip over the "exercise" segments and read the meat of the sections. Another suggestion (to the publisher) would be to re-publish the book in a different format, eliminating all of that workout stuff. (On the other hand, this is just MY opinion. Maybe there are thousands of other people for which this format works beautifully!)

My final word on the review is that I do see helpfulness in this book, maybe just check it out at the library to see if it works for you before purchasing it. You'll be able to tell if it drives you crazy or really reverberates with you, and then you can make up your mind about purchasing it. There's a lot of good content in there, buried deep within the exercise format.

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

This nice-sized book entitled Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans is my latest read-for-review book. I HIGHLY recommend it! I'll just start my review that way so you know what's coming! :) Although it is the third book in a series, I had no difficulty picking up the story line. The author did an excellent job introducing/including events from the past books which had great impact on this story.

The beginning of the book finds Jade, one of the main characters, putting one of her vintage stores up for sale, taking care of her husband's toddler son, and awaiting her husband's return from rehab. Phew! A lot of drama right up front! And the drama only continues! I don't want to give away the "secret" that Jade finds out, so you'll have to read the book to find that out--but that is really only a sub-plot of the book. As Max (Jade's husband) comes home--with a deep relationship with Jesus Christ--changes begin to alter their life as they knew it previously. A move, a change of job, the "secret", and amazing challenges that come with each.

A theme that runs through all these issues is reliance on God and His sovereign care/guidance/wisdom. Both Jade and Max seek to follow God's guidance for them. The characters are very believable and written for today (with lots of references to today's culture). There are all kinds of characters who enhance the story--quirky ladies, down-on-their luck individuals, troubled teenagers, a really bad "bad guy", lawyers, coaches, and more!

Love Lifted Me is a great read--I didn't want to put it down! It was very enjoyable with all of the drama, love, family, challenges, and a bit of football! I would certainly recommend it. It's not just a fluffy Christian romance, much deeper than that. It certainly made me cry in parts! It also challenged me to surrender challenges in my life to the Lord. A line from the last chapter of the book which speaks to this is, "We've seen what man can do. Let's see what God can do." I love that! Something to remember!

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, December 8, 2011

Bible Translations--and a giveaway!

So many Bible translations!! Everyone has their "preferred" translation of the Bible, but I find it helpful to read other translations for my devotions, as sometimes I "get used" to one certain translation--sometimes seeing the same thought in different words opens up a more clear meaning, or just speaks to me differently.

One translation I've not used before is the New Living Translation. The publishers of the New Living Translation of the Bible are offering a giveaway throughout the month of December on their Facebook page. I'm going to copy/paste the info from an email I received so you can sign up!

" Here are the NLT Facebook page giveaway details:
Starting on November 29th until December 24th at the New Living Translation Facebook page we're giving away lots of great prizes and something free for you just for singing up.
By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and e-mail address you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).
One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!
Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

Here's the link to the New Living Translation's facebook page for you to enter!

Good luck! :)

Finally a little snow! December in Vermont without snow so far?!?!?!? Kind of feels like the first half of "White Christmas" :)

Snow just makes everything feel more Christmas-y!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Woman's Guide to Fasting by Lisa E Nelson

I'll start this review by saying that I have never fasted in the Biblical sense. So I am not writing as a person having experienced or tried the things in this book. This, however, did not keep me from understanding or enjoying this book about fasting.

The book is a very well-writen book about fasting, how to, why to, what to. There's no judgmental feel (like as if you haven't fasted you're in horrid disobedience to God) and no super-academic feel (like it's just theory, not proven practice). The author speaks regarding topics such as why should you fast? How do you know it's time you should fast? How do you know what kind of fast? (and if you don't know there are different types of fasts, she tells you that as well!)

She goes through spiritual reasons for fasting and speakes of the physical aspects of fasting. She gives clear step-by-step instructions for fasts of different lengths and types. All in all, it's a wonderfully written book on fasting. I would highly suggest reading it, whether you think you're interested in fasting or not. It's a down to earth book, written by someone who seems like she's talking to you as a friend, which increases the book's readability as well. I liked the book, for sure, and recommend it to you.

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

Jackson Jones Book 2 by Jenn Kelly

The whole title of this book is Jackson Jones Book 2: The Tale of a Boy, a Troll, and a Rather Large Chicken. Now, doesn't that just catch your interest? When I reviewed the first Jackson Jones book (in this blog post, I said that it was like reading my nine year old's mind. I will use that statement again regarding this second installment in the Jackson Jones series (hopefully there will be more to follow!)

This second book in the series sees Jackson magically transported via a very strong wind and a stubborn patio umbrella into an amazingly large tree, filled with unique individuals. As he encounters different ones, he has adventures and shares some of his wisdom about life and "The Author" (God) with them. He has matured a bit and learned from his adventures in Great Aunt Harriet's Hair (in book one) and it shows. I don't want to go too far into his adventures, because you really should read them in the book, not here! Just suffice it to say that they're very silly and very interesting!

The chapters, once again, are very short, with funny titles that keep it all a bit crazy. Fun for out-loud reading or silent reading! I really think this book is a huge winner with children in the 8-11 age group. It's vaguely like some of the writing that's out there for kids in this age range, but this book is clean, kind, and teaches some moral lessons. It's not as overtly about God as the first book was, but there are lessons taught for sure.

I highly recommend this book, along with the first one. I do think that it was easier to understand this book having read the first book, so I would suggest reading them in order. This book would make a wonderful gift!

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

Sweet and Sour Canned Turkey!

We are in the midst of butchering 10 turkeys and there's SOOOOOOO much meat!! Lots in the freezer, lots canned, and now I'm looking for ways to do it up a little differently. I was looking online for recipes and found this great one for sweet and sour chicken. It was SO easy to make and very delicious too!! The recipe was from the Creative Canning Blog. They have some neat ideas on there. I made up a few canners full of this and we'll be enjoying it all year long!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cliques, hicks, and ugly sticks by KD McCrite

Cliques, hicks, and ugly sticks by KD McCrite is a book which I thought sounded much more interesting and better than it actually was. It’s a book about April Grace, a 6th grader entering middle school—hating math, having a former friend turn her back on her, fighting with her sister, typical jr. high stuff.

It’s written in a first person voice, with April Grace relating the story. April Grace is an 11 year old girl, living in the Ozarks in 1986. She lives in her home with her family and another couple who are rebuilding their house down the road, and she is beginning 6th grade. There is a whole cast of characters who intermittently dominate the story. The book follows April Grace through the first half of her sixth grade year.

I really had high hopes for this book. I thought it sounded sweet and like the type of thing my pre-teen daughter would love. After reading it. . .I wouldn’t really call it sweet. And yes, my daughter probably will like it. It seems to read like a lot of current books written for this age group—which truthfully she likes, so I guess it hit its target there. However, there were themes which were never addressed/corrected such as lack of respect to elders and family members, and although it is a Christian fiction book—there’s not a strong Christian message that came through to me.

So—would I recommend it? Maybe to read—check it out at your library if you can. I probably wouldn’t purchase the book—or give it as a gift. Certainly not a book I loved.

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.

Heroes and Villains of the Bible

Wow! I liked this book right from the beginning! (no question there of how I feel about the book, huh?!) The title, Heroes and Villains--grabs kids attention--including my own children's attention. The intro speaks beautifully about heroes and villains, ". . .But what made one person a hero and another person a villain? Choices." and also "Being a hero isn't about capes, or special powers, or being faster than a speeding bullet--it's about choosing to follow God."

From that point on the chapters on each of the heroes or villains began. From heroes like Noah, Samuel, Ruth, and Joseph of Arimathea to villains including Delilah, Hamaan, and Herod. I really liked that the way the information about each was presented was simply by using the Scripture passage which spoke of that person/incident. Straight from the Bible, God's Word. Information at the beginning of each section set the scene for each segment, then at the end of each person's Scripture section was a summary/explanation/application section. It was short and engaging.

The print was a nice size, easy to read. There were pictures for some of the characters, which I thought were pretty creepy looking, but my son liked them (and he's the target age for the book--so I guess that's okay).

All in all--a great book! A wonderful gift for a child, or perhaps a great devotional book. I could even see it as a great starting point for a Sunday School class. Excellent. Love it.

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.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

His Little Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd

We speak to God through prayer and listen to Him through Scripture and other means. This book, His Little Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd is a beautiful illustration of speaking and listening to God.

The book is a set of letters to a princess (little girl! daughter of the King--God) from her King (the Lord). Each letter is on a different topic such as respect, beauty, selfishness, family, anger, temptation, and on and on. The letters are short and sweet, but really pack a punch! They speak clearly and directly and just at a great level for a child to understand herself.

Coordinating with each of the letters from the King are prayers in response to each of the lessons/letters from the King are processed. Each section also has a Scripture verse to go along with it.

I really like this book. It is set up in a great way to go through in a daily devotional style--or to just open up and read sections at a time. Truthfully, the messages in it are good for the mom to read as well!

I would recommend this book for sure. It would make a great gift as well!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The World of Animals

I previously reviewed the book World of Science – this book, World of Animals, is in the same series, and is just as great! Once again I’ll say this book is great for kids and adults as well. It is also co-published by Master Books and My Father’s World (we love them!!) which gives me confidence in its creationistic viewpoint. The introduction begins with Scripture—excellent!

I really like that the book covers more than just the “big” animals (mammals and outstanding reptiles)—it begins with simple animals (sponges, jellies, etc) and moves on up through worms, insects, and then to vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). The illustrations are gorgeous and the text that goes along with the pictures and sections is clear and easy to understand.

This book could be used as a textbook, but also is interesting enough to just be leafed through and enjoyed. My kids eat this stuff up—they love reading this kind of thing—and interesting facts pop out of their mouths all the time! This book would make a wonderful gift!

I highly recommend this book!

I was given a free copy of this book by New Leaf Publishing group for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

World of Science

World of Science is a wonderful book in so many senses! It’s a great science book written with a Christian perspective—very clearly, beginning with the introduction which starts with Genesis 1:1. One quote from the intro, “Why do science? Why should science be studied? Science can help us see the intricacies of God’s creation, allowing for enormous advancements in our world.” I like that—very nicely said.

After the intro, the book moves logically from atoms, elements, molecules, and such—to matter—to energy/motion—and on through sections on electricity/magnetism, light and sound, earth and life, and space and time. The last section is science experiments! Great fun projects to illustrate concepts explained throughout the book.

So—readability—is it just a textbook? No way! Yes, it can certainly be used as a textbook—as a side note, I was happy to see that it’s co-published by My Father’s World, which is the home school program we use—however, it is a really interesting book to just read or flip through! My children love this type of book—the colorful illustrations are beautiful and attention-grabbing and just invite children and adults alike to read the accompanying text bits that give the information. You notice I said adults also? Yes—it really is appealing to adults too! Even my husband was flipping through the book pointing out things to us, and saying things like, “Wow!” or “So that’s how that works. . .”

This book is awesome!  It’s a great book to have as a part of a school or public library, your home library, your child’s classroom, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I could go on and on! How many kids do you know who love science? This book is perfect for them! This is a wonderful purchase that you won’t regret!

I was given a free copy of this book by New Leaf Publishing Group for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin is a great illustration of the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”! Looking at this book, I probably would not have picked it up at all—I would’ve thought it was a “rich girl goes to a poor area” romance. AND additionally, flipping through the pages, the words are really small—this would’ve added up to a “last resort” read for me.

WELL-- I read it because I received a copy from the publisher to review, and I was SO glad I did! This was a great book! Very entertaining!

The main character, Alice, is a girl who has been very pampered/protected , is living during the Depression, and has just lost her job and her beau. She takes a trip to Kentucky to deliver books to a library in need of books—and the adventure begins! She meets an amazingly diverse cast of characters and maintains her personality but grows in response to circumstances. There are interesting adventures, experiences, dangers, friendships, deceptions, and intrigue. It’s not really a “romance” per se, but rather an adventure story. The story line is very interesting—with lots of twists and surprises. I just wanted to keep reading this book (yes, I stayed up late to finish it!!) and once I had begun reading, I didn’t even notice the small print. Great book, you should read it!

I highly recommend this interesting book!

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.

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

Another book by Bethany House publishers which I completely loved!! This book, Reclaiming Lily has so many themes—foreign adoption, China’s one-child policy, health tragedies, seeking Christ, rebellious teenagers, and so many others—and they fit nicely together into one cohesive story. I loved it.

The book focuses on a Texan family who adopted a ten year old girl from China and her Chinese sister (who is working as a doctor in the USA). The Chinese doctor, Kai, desperately searches for her youngest sister Lily who was adopted by an American couple. She fears that Lily may have a deadly disease which killed their mother. Lily (who was renamed Joy by her adoptive parents) is a rebellious teen whose parents are at their wits end, but who wish to continue protecting her and loving her. They are hesitant to meet with Kai when she contacts them, but they do and all their lives are changed.

Kai speaks of her family’s tragic history in China’s cultural revolution and her memories from childhood. She gains the family’s trust (including Lily/Joy’s) and their drama continues together. Throughout it all, Kai struggles with/seeks for God.

I don’t want to give more away, but I will say that I was entranced by the story. It is a very intense story, one I hated to put down. I would strongly recommend this book! ( I will say the picture on the front of the book is the only issue I’d have with it—I can’t figure out, even after reading it, who/what it’s representing!—but it’s just the cover illustration, just ignore it!) It’s a dramatic book, but an easy read. Very nice!

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homeschool Tshirts!

Here's a great company we just found out about this year. They sell lots of homeschool/family items--the first thing we bought was a tshirt (Homeschool Girls Rock--see above picture!)

They have lots of other great homeschool shirts with nice designs. They're also having a giveaway contest on their website. Here's the link.

Check them out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My husband must be pretty tough. . .

I lined another one of my husband's button-up shirts with fleece for cold mornings in church--and he wore it last week to church


When I did laundry, I found that there were TWO straight pins left in it!! At the sides of the waistband!!


But he said he never noticed! :) That could have been bad!

Our chickens :)

Joining in with the blog tour highlighting on chickens and their housing!

I love seeing other peoples' setups, so many people are so creative and artistic with their coops! Unfortunately ours is just plain, functional chicken housing. Due to $$ constraints and the simple busy-ness of life, this is what works for us, so it's what we have for now! Maybe someday. . . (dreaming!)

So here's our coop Photobucket

I have to say it looks MUCH prettier in the winter :) PhotobucketWe have only girls (layers) and our breeds are Rhode Island Red (Big Red and Rhona), Barred Rock(Mackey and Lacey), Ameraucana (DeeDee), Australorp (Nancy and Blackie), White Rock (Snowbelle), and Buff Orpington (Marty and Linny). The kids named them, and they're named after several Iditarod racers, Grandma, and the others are just "made up" names! The kids pretty much do all the poultry care (yay!) and they enjoy the birds. This is our third flock, we always like to have a flock with a variety of breeds (I wish I could say something scientific about it, but truthfully, we just like the looks of it!)

The kids do poultry projects for 4H and really enjoy the showmanship part of it, showing them at the fair! Photobucket

Back to our coop design. . .our coop has a HUGE FLAW and that is its location. We do not own the land here, so we were a bit limited as to where we located the coop. We built it our first summer here, before we knew. . .it floods like crazy every huge rainstorm, and especially in the early winter/early spring. Here's a pic of the result of that--our chickens get their own ice rink! (they pretty much stay off the ice and on the shavings area or in the yardPhotobucket

During the day, when we're home, we just let them roam around the yard. They are so hilarious and crack us up frequently. The FUNNIEST thing ever is to see a chicken running toward you! We give them "treats" (stuff that would go in compost) quite frequently, so whenever we go out they want to check out what we have for them :) We also stand at the back door and call "chickie" and they come running to get scraps from dinner plates. We call them our "pre-composters."

They like to hang out under my son's rabbit cages and dig for all the worms living under there Photobucket

We raise a few batches of meat birds also, but right now they are in the fridgePhotobucket
and tomorrow they will be "moving" to the freezer or the canner! :)

To end this, I'll say that we thoroughly enjoy keeping chickens, and like most chicken owners, we eat a LOT of eggs! Here's my favorite way to make a super-quick breakfast

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Well, I just finished reading A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and loved it! It is a great book about a brother-stepsister pair of missionaries to an Alaskan Indian people group in 1898. It’s not a love story, not an adventure per se, but it is a nice historical fiction.

Clay and his step-sister Vivian have come to spread the Gospel to an Alaskan Indian people group. As they arrive they meet a young woman, Lizzie, who is part white, part Athabascan, and is forced to live separate from the tribe due to her mixed blood. As the story progresses, Clay builds a school building and begins his work among the tribe members; Vivian assists and makes friends with Lizzie. This turns out to be very unpopular with the tribal leadership. I don’t want to give more away, but read the book to see how this part of the story develops! There is also a great sub-story about Vivian, which I wished the book addressed even more.

So, I already said I liked the book. It was a clear, easy book to read. It had interesting “scenery” not just the Alaskan landscape, but also the tribe and its customs and traditions. There actually wasn’t much character development of Clay, who was seemingly one of the main characters, but that seemed okay. As the story unfolded Lizzie and Vivian took center stage. I don’t want to give any more away, but really, it’s a nice read. It’s not so much a love story, so for those who don’t like romances, this book may be for you!

If you’re looking for a nice, clean, easy, entertaining read, check this one out!

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R C Sproul

The book The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by RC Sproul is a children's book. Though it is written for children, I'm not sure if it's meant to be read alone by a child. The paintings are gorgeous and detailed. The topic is interesting, a story told of another story, of Martin Luther and his advice about how to pray. As an adult reading it, I was interested in the pattern of praying using parts of famous prayers.

As far as its appeal to children, I'm not sure. My children thought it was interesting and they enjoyed the pictures, but I'm not sure they understood what it meant to pray in this fashion. I do think it could be a good devotional tool, a starting point for discussing this method of praying. So. . .I'll call it a valuable book. Kids who read it themselves may ask questions which lead to their understanding it. Therein lies its value.

Would I buy it for my family? Yes. Would I give it as a gift? Hmmmm. . .maybe, maybe not. That would depend on how I thought their family would use it.

You know, it might actually make a nice book for a Sunday School or children's church class--with plenty of follow up explanation and discussion--and example.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Raspberry Applesauce!!

I had a bunch of apples to do up into applesauce and I found a bag of raspberries in the freezer, so I threw them in--YUMMMMMMMMM!!!! It'll be a great treat for the winter! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living Close to God (When you're not good at it) by Gene Edwards

I loved the honesty of the title of this book, and I loved the first few chapters. A book, written for those of us who have a hard time following the standard, ”wake up, read 10 chapters of the Bible, and pray for 30 minutes” pattern. The author appears to be a “real guy” who struggles like his readership in the area of spiritual closeness with God. He goes on to describe the way he slowed down and became deliberate in his seeking communion with God.

The mid-section of the book kind of reviews the beginning part, with further illustrations and reminders. The end section just. . .ends. I thought it was a really abrupt ending, and was kind of confusing, in referring to “Scott”—I had to flip back through the beginning of the book again and again until I realized it must be a person he referred to in the Acknowledgements section. The book is written as a reference, to be read several times—maybe upon reading a second or third time I would feel the flow of the book better. It even has a study guide to enable an easy use with group study. I think this is how I would have liked to use it.

Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. Yes, it is a nice read. It gives some good ideas for consciously focusing on the Lord. I felt at times that the author was trying so hard to explain an abstract thought or process but didn’t quite make the point. Or maybe I didn’t quite get the point. I don’t know. It was a nice short book, so give it a try. You may gain something which could enhance your relationship with the Lord.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg

I haven't read a book like The Tehran Initiative for a long time,but it was an interesting book to read. Here's an exerpt from the cover of the book:

The world is on the brink of disaster and the clock is ticking. Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah—known as “the Twelfth Imam”—has just arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second holocaust and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike.

That summary/intro gives you a feel for the tone of the book. It was an interesting read. . .kind of reminiscent of a Tom Clancy book. I enjoyed reading it. The reason I said at the start that it was not the sort of book I usually read is that as a mom I don't often read books so long and involved as this one. I used to read a lot of books of this type, and in reading it I found that I miss the type of challenging read such as this which really engages your mind. You have to read it with care, following the details, for the story to make sense to you.

I enjoyed the way the book was written, little segments in which different characters of the story are in the first person mode, in different geographical locations. Careful reading allowed the reader to follow the story line as it unfolded and brought all those segments together. It was high suspense, political intrigue, life and death situations. The story was very realistic sounding to me. The author did a great job of writing little vignettes and then drawing them all together to show the big picture of what was happening.

By the way, this book is a second in a series, and I had not read the first book. It did not hinder my enjoyment or understanding of this book.

I would certainly recommend this book. It's not a fluffy book, or a romance, but a thought-provoking read. It does take some time to read, but is very interesting! It does have a Biblical message within it, not especially strong, but a nice touch. I'll definitely pass this book on and suggest it to others!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of this review and the Tyndale House blog tour for this book. I was not required to write a positive review.

If you'd like to see more info about this book from Tyndale or watch a video of the author speaking about this book, click

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish

Like reading my 9-yr old’s mind!

This book that I’m going to tell you about was perhaps the most PERFECT book for my nine-year old son. It’s like reading his mind—like all the stories/adventures he makes up—like his dreams and daydreams—but put together in a more polished way.

This book, Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, and Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish was superb—it’s just right for the age group for which it was written. It’s imaginative, quirky, silly, and has a wonderful amount of rabbit trails. It’s the story of a boy’s overnight journey into a magical world in his great-aunt’s hair! Weird, huh?  It’s an amazing journey for a normal, kind of insecure young boy—as he travels along with the help of a guide (Meeka the elf)—into many different mini-adventures and meets many more folks living in “Great-Aunt Harriet’s Hair.” In his travels he meets several very wise residents of this place (Great-Aunt Harriet’s Hair!) who teach him lessons about his value as a person and his outlook on life as well as teaching him about “The Author” who created him/life/etc and has a plan for his life.

I don’t want to give any more of the story away, you need to read this book if you have kids in this age range! It’s a fun fun read, and it has a nice gentle message about life and God’s control/purpose/plan for it. It’s not an evangelistic book by any means, but it’s a great nudge in relation to God’s hand in each of our lives. This will be a great addition to my son’s library—of course it’s not the only type of reading material he loves reading, but it’s certainly a winner!

I would totally recommend this book! I will say that some readers might find it totally ridiculous, not their type of reading, but for my son and his friends—this is it!

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study by Starr Meade

This set of books, entitled The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study, A Survey of the Bible, is AMAZING!!! It is a set of five workbooks, two on the Old Testament, two on the New Testament, and the fifth book is an answer key.

The setup of the books is that it goes through each of the books of the Bible. At the beginning of most of the books, there is an introduction about the book, a summary of what is in the book, and a bit of historical or explanatory material about the book as a whole. Following that, it moves into segments of that book to read and then questions on that day's reading, questions to make you pay attention to what you're reading! Going through all 4 books you will end up reading the entire Bible.

I love this set of books. It is a great value (very inexpensive for what you get!) and I am planning on using them in our homeschooling. Actually, I think I'll use one set for myself, and purchase others for my children. There is not a lot of "application" per se in the textbooks, but it is a great tool for learning about what is in each of the books of the Bible, and the Holy Spirit can use this for personal application.

I would recommend these books to anyone!! Homeschooler or not, it's great material for everyone to use.

I was given a copy of these books for free from Crossway Books as a part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. Crossway's blog is found at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Free Christian Music downloads

Two Christian radio stations that I know of offer free new music downloads occasionally on their website--just wanted to share my info with you in case you're looking for a good free download now and then! One is Air1 radio station--their free song is here and the other one is KLOVE and their free song is here . They have new songs every couple of weeks, so check with them periodically!

If you know of any others, feel free to let me/us know! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Big Book of History

Timelines! My children love looking at timelines and seeing progressions and innovations. This book, the Big Book of History, is a wonderful timeline, full of an amazing amount of information.

First of all, let me tell you about the format. It looks like an oversized book, with heavy card-stock pages, but they’re more than pages! The “pages” which you can flip through book-style, also fold out into a fifteen foot timeline, so you can visually see the passage of time through the important dates/events highlighted in this edition.

The pages are bright with color, several different timelines moving through each era: Biblical/Christianity themed events, World events, Civilizations/Empires, and Inventions/Technology. The color coding makes it easy to pick out the events in each category.

Along with all this color is an enormous amount of pictures and text illustrating events from different segments of time (for example: when was bookbinding developed, info about King Arthur, the first modern bicycle, and so important—the first chocolate bar). There are also paragraphs on topics of interest sprinkled throughout, such as mummies, the Olympics, Homer, the Flood/Ice Age, the Holocaust, and so many more.

In case you were wondering about the extent of the timeline, it begins with Creation and goes up until 2010. Of course, it is not all-inclusive, but it does a good job of hitting many high-points and items of interest.

I would certainly recommend this book/timeline. It is very entertaining and educational to look through. The colors and illustrations, as well as the way the pages are set up are very appealing and just beg you to look one more time and notice one more thing. I think the creators of this book did a wonderful job and I appreciate their inclusion of Biblical events. It says on the back of the book that it is for 7 to 12 year olds, but I believe that many people outside of that age range will read and enjoy this timeline!

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Family Illustrated Bible

What is a Bible? My definition of The Bible is the 66 God-inspired books of the Old Testament and New Testament. I have mentioned before that it annoys me when a book purports to be a Bible when it is actually just a collection of Bible stories chosen by the book’s editor, and most often paraphrases of the Scriptural story (**and when I say story, I in no way mean to imply that they are fictional—I mean a section/happening from Scripture). Honestly, if it’s a book of stories from the Bible, call it that, not a Bible!!

This book is called The Family Illustrated Bible, and although it is not a Bible (as discussed above), it is a book filled with stories from throughout the Old and New Testaments. Each story is nicely illustrated and the Bible reference from which it was taken is cited at the top of the page. It’s eye-catching for sure. Sprinkled throughout the text are 2-page spreads which give current day information about the places, archaeological finds, etc.—with plenty of pictures as well. I loved this about this book—the current-day connection is great for reminding people that it is not in fact a “made up” book.

I will however, say that there are several things that concern me about this book. In the introductory section, to me it sounded like it was written by a nonbeliever, just in kind of a documentary form—for instance when it talks about Old Testament prophecy—it doesn’t say it is fulfilled in the New Testament, but rather that “Christians believed. . .or Christians linked. . .” they’re not saying it WAS fulfilled, but rather that that is what Christians thought. There are other things—liberties taken by the author in her paraphrasing of the story—which are not in the Bible. This may sound nit-picky, but if it’s not in the Bible, it’s not in the Bible! It bugs me when kids are told a Bible story a certain way and then believe it as truth—even if it’s not in the Bible (for instance the apple/rather than “fruit” thing with Eve {not in this book, thankfully!}) A little embellishment or “imagination” goes into stories as people tell them, and as long as it’s understood to be just that, fine, but when it’s taught it should be from the Scripture itself. Okay, off my soapbox  Another large concern to me was the book’s use of the BCE and BC terminology over the traditional BC/AD. It’s not even as if BC/AD are outdated—they’re used by most people—this BCE/BC thing looks to me like another way to take Christ out of our daily life.

All in all, would I recommend this book? I don’t know. It’s easy to read to your children, and has attention-grabbing illustrations. I love the archaeological explanations and the current-day pictures of Bible scenes. BUT it’s not a Bible, and it should be remembered that it is just a person’s re-telling of some of the Bible stories. If accuracy is what you’re after, read the Scriptures to your family and you can go from there.

I received a copy of this book for free from New Leaf Press in exchange for my honest review.

My favorite super-fast breakfast

My very favorite breakfast to make--primarily because it's so quick and easy to make--we just call it eggs in toast, some people call it eggs in a nest. . .my brother in law calls them "bunnies" for some unknown reason :)

In case you've never made them before, just tear the center circle out of a piece of bread and pop it onto the frying pan (put the center part on too!) crack an egg into the center and cook till it's done (flip halfway through). We like ours with soft centers, but if you don't,just cook it a little longer.

We always serve ours with jam and the kids love to put it on the toast circle and the toast on the edges.

Since we always have eggs available (we have chickens) we have this breakfast a couple times a week! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Do We Know the Bible is True by Ken Ham and Brodie Hodge

Is the Bible true? Yes, I believe it is. So why am I reading a book entitled, “How Do We Know the Bible is True?” Although I do believe the Bible is true, sometimes it is difficult to explain why I do believe this to a person who does not agree with me on that. This book is filled with essays on the topic by Christian authors, dealing with a variety of topics regarding the Bible’s truth and authenticity.

There are chapters on how we got today’s Bible, the doctrine of the trinity, the authorship of the Pentateuch, internal consistency of the Bible, evolution, and many others.

I’d class this as an academic book. It’s not a “read-through” book, as it’s made up of many essays on different topics, but I’d better call it a reference. I do think it’s a valuable reference and addition to a Christian’s library. It’s not a light read, but valuable.

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

Pershing: Commander of the Great War by John Perry

General Pershing is known by most people as a famous person they learned about in school for his great command duties in World War I, but what else do you know about him? This biography, though fairly short ( 222 pages) is quite comprehensive in covering the many aspects of his life and his career. The title of the book is Pershing: Commander of the Great War and it not only follows his career as a soldier, but also his personal life to some extent.

After reading this book I am impressed with Pershing’s way of treating people as worthwhile, even those who were not treated thus by others (Indians, black soldiers, Phillipine tribesmen, etc). A humble heart shines out at least in those instances. The author also strives (too hard almost?) to convince us of Pershing’s fun-loving, kind, loving side of his character which was apparently not in evidence much of the time (in public). He was a very accomplished man, not only disciplined and very wise in military settings, but also quick to learn and excel at other things—such as poker and dancing (which the author points out multiple times.)

This biography was fairly easy to read and I did not find it objectionable—I would allow my pre-teen children to read it as a means of learning about his life. I will say that the cover/binding made the book look unappealing, but there’s another case of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”! I did find it interesting, even though I don’t have much interest in reading about war-related topics. I would recommend this book as recreational reading to someone interested in wars/soldiers and as educational reading to someone wanting to learn more about the many phases of Pershing’s life.

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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady

Smoke! Fire! Plane crashes! Murder! Deceit! Gold! True love! My goodness, what a lot of suspense and drama! This book, Falls Like Lightning, by Shawn Brady , has it all! It’s a crazy amount of action packed into a book spanning only a few days.

Silas is an experienced smoke-jumper, ready to jump out of a plane into a forest fire area to combat spreading fire. He’s been in some tough situations, but nothing like what he faces in this book. Elle is an experienced pilot, one of the best at getting the smokejumpers into position; she has also recently faced the loss of her father, also a pilot, and a mysterious illness causing seizures in her young daughter.

Mixed into the bunch is a deceitful plot by several smokejumpers to steal a cache of gold hidden deep within the forestfire area. . .so much gold that they are willing to eliminate anyone or anything that stands in their way.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that, but I will say that it was a thrilling book, very entertaining, and enough action to keep the story moving right along! I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fun read, with elements of mystery, suspense, and romance all mixed in.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grapey applesauce

We eat a lot of applesauce throughout the year and one year we kind of stumbled on this (Well, actually--it was a year we had grown a lot of concord grapes and I was sick of making jelly and juice. . .this was the next outcome!) It's what we call "grapey applesauce"!! Yummmmm!! So easy to do; it's basically just make applesauce with the addition of concord grapes.

Here's how we do it--chunk up apples and put them in a stock pot with some water. Add some (a few handfuls) concord grapes. Cook on medium till the apples are soft (make sure you stir them every few minutes so they don't burn). Put through foley food mill, add a little sugar (really! add some sugar--it brings out the flavors more, I think)

And voila! you have grapey applesauce!

Process in boiling water canner. Yummmmm!! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spiritual Warfare for Women by Leighann McCoy

Attacked! We as women often feel like we’re under attack. By our families, by the media, by our children, by our parents, our husband, our “friends”, our fellow church members, our community, our environment, and the list could go on and on. In this Bible study by Leighann McCoy, Spiritual Warfare for Women, the author confronts and illuminates spiritual warfare that we as Christians fall under so often. Many of the things we may count as attacks by our neighbor, or our position in life are actually Satan’s ways to get us down or to sin.

The author reminds us of our position in Christ, as recipients of God’s unchanging love and care for us. She challenges us to identify spiritual attacks and head them off with Scripture and Biblical truth. Each chapter ends with a Scripture reading and time for reflection as well as specific Bible verses to fight these attacks with. There is also encouragement to memorize Scripture.

This book would be a great women’s group Bible study tool. The author does not appear detatched or too good to be true. She lives in the same world we all do and shares examples from her own life which resonate with many of us. I would definitely recommend this book as a Bible study tool.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my review of it. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homeschool book giveaway! :) fun easy math

This week, on someone I don't know's blog (Homeschool Creations' blog) there is a great fun idea for giving away some of your unused homeschool materials. . .


SO. . .what I have to give away are two Mathstart Level 1 books, Bug Dance (which teaches/uses directions--left, right, etc) and Missing Mittens (which is evens and odds) They're cute books (fun to just read or to use as math fun) and actually are brand new--I had intended to use them with my kids and they got stuck away somewhere to be found when everyone was too old for them! Now--they'll be one of yours to enjoy!

How to enter:
First of all, you need to become a follower of this blog
Next: leave a comment on this post!
I will be picking a winner on October 1 by drawing a name out of a hat or some such thing!
**If for some strange reason that person I choose has not responded within three or four days I'll have to pick a different winner. But I'm SURE that wouldn't happen. . . :)

And the winner is Katie! I'll be emailing you for your address--enjoy the books!! Thanks everyone for entering!

Just a spoonful of sugar. . .

There is a big old tree full of pretty-colored apples, just begging to be picked. However, when you pick one an bite into it, instead of a sweet-tart juicy delight, your lips pucker and you say eeeeeeeew! :) I have no idea what kind of apple tree this is, the apples are full-sized, and the tree looks very old. The picture above is what the flesh looks like--gorgeous, isn't it? This tree is at my husband's workplace and no one enjoys the fruits, so we decided to test them out a little. Well, we made applesauce (with sugar!), jam (with sugar of course!) and even pie (sugar again!) and they were all resounding successes! The applesauce is super-thick (not much juice in those babies!) and I think I'll even use some of it to make fruit leather and apple butter--but the addition of sugar has transformed these apples! Yay! Free fruit for us!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Free music from K-Love radio

Who doesn't love free music? If you keep an eye on K-Love's website, they have a free music download evey few weeks. Right now it's Jamie Grace's "Hold Me"

which is such a fun song :) Enjoy it and keep watch for more!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Limos, Lattes, and My Life on the Fringe by Nancy Rue

Another book review! First of all, I’m not a teenager, not a high-schooler, so I am not the age group this book was written for. BUT—I will say I enjoyed reading it! My daughter has read other books by Nancy Rue written for younger kids (the Lily series) and they are books which are helpful to her for slipping lessons in while she’s entertained by the plot. I can say that this book, geared for older girls, does that same thing.

Tyler Bonning, the main character in this story, is a girl who is out-of-place in a high school where she doesn’t fit in with any particular “group”—and is very aware of it. She struggles to find her place or even a cause, and when she does, she really takes off! Through the book she’s guided and inspired by a magical-type book which in the end turns out to be a Bible which speaks just to her.

The book is a little slow to start, but once it does it’s a great read! I did like it and the values it upheld. I thought the magic book part was a little weird, but it did bring it all around in the end. I would certainly recommend this book for high-school aged girls!

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A RIver to Cross by Yvonne Harris

A River to Cross is a nice, light read, a historical fiction/romance by Yvonne Harris. I enjoyed reading this book, set in Texas in the late 1800’s. The main characters are a woman, Elizabeth, who has come to Texas to help run a newspaper and a tough Texas Ranger. As you can imagine, a love story emerges quickly amidst killing, kidnapping, political unrest, etc. I don’t want to give away pieces of the plot, so I’ll leave it at that.

And I do mean plot. The book is not “just” a love story—there is a definite story line that keeps a reader’s interest, the romance is kind of secondary. I’m not sure how historically correct it is, especially in a few instances, but the story remains entertaining. It is fiction, after all.

I’d recommend this book as an easy, fun read to enjoy!

I was given a copy of this book for free as part of Bethany House Publisher’s blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin

Wow, what a book! I started off a little bored and dreading such a long book, but after a few chapters I began enjoying it and actually stayed up way past my normal bedtime in order to finish it.

A quick summary. . .the story follows two brothers, both of who were terribly abused in their childhood by their father, yet survived through the love of their nanny/maid/substitute mama. One brother succeeded amazingly in life, the other succumbed to a psychological illness. Add to this a childhood sweetheart who is running from an abusive husband, and a little child. . .this story is full of strong characters. Their lives come together as they attempt to find family.

As I said previously, at the beginning of the book (the first several chapters!) there was SO much kind of superfluous detail and information that I couldn’t catch the story line and began to lose interest. I had committed to reading the book, so I plowed through. Boy am I glad I did, as the story began to come together. There was a Christian theme throughout the book, along with a forgiveness theme. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read. I’d definitely recommend the book! And don’t give up, it’ll get better as you persevere!

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another fashion re-cycle!

Another clothing re-cycle!! These Vermont winters get pretty cold, and we keep our house temp quite low. . .so my kids are always in need of WARM clothing! I got this purple coat in a barter with a friend, and I was challenged to make good use of it! So here's what we ended up with--a nice warm, cute jumper for my daughter! (Oh, the zipper was re-purposed too--from an old wool jumper!) Thanks Bev!

Before: Photobucket

And after: PhotobucketPhotobucket

Now I just have to find a use for the sleeves. . .

:)I'm so happy that my children don't mind wearing my wacky fashion designs :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interesting angle on SAT test taking and prep

SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student is a book I just received from Master Books for the purpose of this review. I do not yet have high school aged children, yet I was curious to take a look at it from a homeschooling perspective. I found this book to be a very thorough and long-term course for preparing to take the SAT. It lays out a schedule for using the book in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades, on a 3-year schedule. There are alternate schedules for use if only using for two or one years as well.

The daily lessons include a devotion, vocabulary exercises, reading, problem solving, math problems, essay questions, critical thinking. . .done on a daily basis to introduce material, but more importantly to get the student used to working with these kinds of problems and thinking along these lines.

This book was so different than what I have seen before as far as SAT-prep books go. It is a longer-term, much less intense preparation, and the devotion and devotional journal sections seem to focus the student on the Lord, and serve as a reminder of His part in all of this. The book also includes such helpful things as test-taking strategies, what to do the actual day of the test, book list, and much more. I will certainly be keeping this book for when my children enter high school.
I’m not honestly sure how “academically” prepared this book will help a student become, but I do see how going through it would calm his/her spirit regarding taking the actual test. I would certainly recommend this book. It will be a helpful addition to our homeschool life, and it is definitely a great resource for students in traditional school as well!

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

Easy gift idea!

Here's an easy gift idea (or easy decorating idea!) If you live near a lake or river it makes it even easier I suppose--for finding stones at least! We had lots of fun looking.

For our name wall hanging we just found a piece of driftwood that was pretty flat (easy after all the flooding this year!) and rocks which would spell out our last name, and glued them on with wood glue, added hooks and a ribbon, and hung it on the wall!

We've made these for a wedding gift, and will be making more for Christmas gifts as well!