Monday, July 27, 2015

Family Fun - Uno Attack

We picked up this Uno Attack game at a thrift store a few summers ago.  The kids go in spurts with playing it, but it's a big hit this week.  Personally, I prefer classic Uno (easier to store and a faster paced game), but the kids love the card-spitter-outer gadget!  I love Uno and Uno Attack, because it's fun for such a wide age range.

Happy playing!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Family Fun - Hearts

We've been having fun playing the card game Hearts this week.  I taught my 13 and 10 year old how to play, and my 8 year old has watched us play a few hands.  The boys love it!  I have so many great memories of playing hearts with friends, so it's very fun to share the tradition with my family.  Best of all - there's hardly any storage required for a deck of cards on the bookshelf or in the car!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nashville's Belmont Mansion - in fiction!

I just finished reading one of Tamera Alexander's Belmont Mansion novels, A Beauty so Rare.  It was another historical fiction novel that I wanted to read in every spare moment.  I loved the glimpses into Nashville history, since I've lived in the Nashville area for almost 20 years.  I enjoyed meeting the characters and practically seeing their strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed the quiet messages of God's love and grace scattered throughout the book.  But what I loved most was the tale of mercy, leadership, courage and social activism related to the main character's efforts to care for the city's widows and children.  Eleanor's sacrificial love will surely inspire readers to be more aware of people's needs and how they might use their talents, time and money for the betterment of others.  I could easily imagine a book club adopting a service project together after reading the book.

I recommend this book to female readers age 14+, and book clubs would enjoy discussion stemming from the book.  Fun side story - my grandmother also enjoys reading this series, so I'll enjoy talking about it with her.  And I look forward to reading other books in the Belmont series.

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

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.