Friday, June 26, 2015

hearts made whole

The publisher describes the book this way:  "After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her. Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?"

Set in 1865 at a lighthouse in Michigan, this fictional tale is very well told.  As with many good novels, you can practically feel yourself living life alongside the main characters.  You feel their struggles with loss, shame, fear, love, and faith.  There are also several historical contexts highighted in the book, so readers will get a glimpse of community struggles with gender roles, prohibition, and even rooster fighting.  Hedlund quietly weaves scriptures and hymns throughout the story to highlight messages of faith in times of fear and struggle - a great message for us all to remember!  I really liked the tale of self-discovery, overcoming challenges, family loyalty and love.

The story  is part of the "Beacons of Hope" series, so I look forward to reading more!  I would recommend this book to any reader age 17+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Betting on Hope

I've found another fiction writer to enjoy - Debra Clopton.  I just finished her novel "Betting on Hope", and completely enjoyed it.  It's a very unique storyline that could easily make a Nicholas Spark type movie.  Well developed characters, good twists and turns, easy-to-read,   Charming town with lots of quirky characters.

Here's the amazon description:
"One clutzy advice columnist.  One champion cowboy. And an entire small town rooting for love. Advice columnist Maggie Hope never dreamed she’d be shaking hands with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan over a high-stakes bet, especially one that involves horses. And saddles. And everything else a city girl like Maggie feels uncomfortable around. But after filling in for a coworker and interviewing the handsome cowboy, she finds herself doing just that. Anything to save her advice column.  Despite Maggie’s two left feet, Tru is bound and determined to bring out her inner cowgirl by teaching her to ride a cutting horse, trained to separate cattle from the rest of the herd. While her riding improves, their attraction intensifi es, but Tru knows he can never let her into his heart—for her own good. In Wishing Springs, a community full of meddling but well-meaning townsfolk, Maggie discovers the home she’s always longed for. But she’s holding something back—a secret that could destroy her reputation and any future she’s ever hoped for with the cowboy she might just love."
I would recommend this book for any female reader age 16+.  I didn't want to put it down, and I enjoyed every page!
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Magic Milk Shakes (no milk/ice cream, but tastes like Frosties)

I can't remember where I found this recipe, but it makes yummy 'frosties'!

·         1-1/2 to 2 cups ice water
·         1-1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
·         2/3 cup sugar
·         1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         1 to 1-1/2 trays of ice cubes, as much as you can spare
·         2 tablespoons corn oil plus a 5-second squirt of non-stick spray for emulsification purposes
Place all of the ingredients into the blender, including the oil and the non-stick spray. Use less water for thicker milk shakes and more water for shakes that are easy on your blender motor.  The blender should be about 3/4's full.  Place the lid on.  Process for a full 2 minutes.  Pour into cups and serve.  Makes 4 - 12oz servings. 
Variations:
·         Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee for a mocha shake
·         Add 1 very ripe banana for a chocolate banana shake
·         Add a big spoonful of peanut butter for a decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake.
·         Add a few broken red and white candy mints for a refreshing Chocolate Mint shake.

·         To make Vanilla Milk Shakes, omit the cocoa powder, reduce the sugar to 1/2-cup and add 1 tablespoon (yes a full tablespoon) of vanilla flavoring.  For a french vanilla milk shake crack in an egg too.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Bible Dominoes!

This is a really cute little set of dominoes.  The big chunky cards are easy for young children to manipulate.  Bright bold colors and pictures are fun and inviting.  It's a great opportunity to practice matching written numbers with their digit numbers and pictures.  The Bible stories are simple enough for young children to understand.  

It's not really clear how the mini Bible storybook integrates with the dominoes game, so it's up to the interpretation of players.  You could name the matching Bible story as you make a match or read a different story each time you play.  

​​
It's rated age 3+, but I would probably suggest 4+.  My 8-year old daughter and 10-year old son really like playing with these dominoes.  My daughter has been asking for several days to play them again.  

I received this set as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: Double Cross by DiAnn Mills

I just finished reading Double Cross by DiAnn Mills.  It's an FBI detective and action novel with twists of romance and suspense. It was really good.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters - their tender hearts and their devotion to one another.  I appreciated their inability to watch evil, and their desire to jump in and do something to stop it.  I was intrigued by the double agent roles.  It has an undercurrent of faith and redemption that the christian reader will appreciate.  

I would recommend this book to any reader age 14+.

Wanna learn more?
o    Author bio
o   Author’s website: diannmills.com
o   Links to YouTube Videos:

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chocolate "Piece of Cake" Cookies

These are super yummy and easy cookies that only take minutes to mix.  And we almost always have the ingredients on hand.  I can't remember where we got the recipe from, but I've been told that it's easy to modify with other flavors of cake mix too.  Enjoy!  And try not to eat all of them by yourself!

1 box chocolate cake mix (with pudding in the mix)
1/2 cup of oil
2 eggs
**Optional – add chocolate chips


Bake at 350 for 9-12 minutes.



Fashion Fun!

On a whim, I picked up the book "How to Get Dressed:  A Costume Designers Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit and Feel Amazing".  It's very well written.  The author's writing is funny, practical, well-organized and easy to read.  She talked about finding your style, making sure clothes fit well, fixing clothes that need extra help, clothing hacks, laundry, shoes and stains.  I even learned a little bit about the history of the fashion industry!

It's not necessarily a quick read.  It's 241 pages of small print jammed pack with tips and advice.  But it's divided into chapters, so you could easily isolate specific sections of the book if you didn't want to devour the whole thing.

My one disappointment:  I was hoping for advice on fitting clothes for tall women, but didn't find anything in that regard.  It's so hard to find tall clothes that fit!!

I would recommend this to any female reader age 15+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Changing a Child's Heart: Reviewing the Motivate Your Child Action Plan

I have found a new parenting resource that I love.  It's the

Motivate Your Child Action Plan 

by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller!  

Based on their previous book, Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told, this action plan will give you the tools to motivate your child to make positive changes without needing to nag or get angry..

I hope you will check out this action plan for growing your children in character and godliness.  Here are some factors i appreciate in the book:

  • it succinctly walks you through the various steps in the action plan.
  • it's easy to scan or go deep.
  • there is a lot of space to ponder the personalization of your plan. 
  • it applies to a broad age range. 
  • it's very empowering.
  • It's like having a family counselor in your home! 

I will be recommending this book to any parent who wants to change not just their child's behavior, but start to change the heart.

**This product was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are 100% my own and are in no way influenced.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jesus is Better

I love the worship song Jesus is Better!  As we were adjusting our hearts to the surprise of baby #4 (8 years after our 3rd child), this is one of the songs I sang over and over again to train my heart to believe that Jesus knows best.  Great lyrics!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Orange Julius Recipe!

I love a good Orange Julius, but hate paying the prices of the ones at the restaurant chain!  I can't wait to try this recipe from the 36th Avenue blog!  And I bet we can make it with splenda instead of sugar to make it just a bit more healthy.   :)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Sugar Cookies - A Favorite Family Tradition

My kids love making sugar cookies!  This is a super easy sugar cookie recipe that we use with the big box of cookie cutters that mom gave us.  It makes lots of cookies, so be ready to share!  Tonight we are making them to share with a friend that just got our of the hospital.

Sugar Cookies

·     2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
·     1 teaspoon baking soda
·     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·     1 cup butter, softened
·     1 1/2 cups white sugar
·     1 egg
·     1+ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
  • Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.   OR refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll dough to make cut-outs.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.