Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Delights - Key Lime Pie

My neighbor, Suzanne, shared this recipe with me, after she used it to win a neighborhood pie contest.  I think it's slightly modified from an allrecipes listing.  My son has been begging to make it, so I let him make it with his sister yesterday.  It's very easy and very yummy.  My son has decided that he wants this pie for his birthday instead of cake!


Key Lime Pie

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup key lime juice (not regular lime juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium bowl, mix all filling ingredients well, then pour into graham cracker crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Teaching the Art of Friendship

With 3 kids plus many extra kids in the house each day, we are constantly practicing the art of friendship.  And boy, is it hard to teach!  We sat down together to talk about different aspects of friendship.  I asked each child to tell me a few practices that contribute to strong friendships.  We talked about each one, so everyone clearly understood each practice.  Then I created a friendship pact for us to post on the wall.  When the kids struggle with a friendship practice, we can visit the friendship pact and talk about what we need to work on.  I love having the visual reminder of the kind of friend we each want to be.  Now if I just had a magic wand to make the friendship magic happen!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Slow Family Living

Families tend to live at a frighteningly fast pace.  There is an alternative.  Check out what this author says about slow family living:

Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy by Noll, Bernadette

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Camping at Cedars of Lebanon State Park

We had a great weekend at Cedars of Lebanon State Park last fall.  We went on a great hike and saw tons of caves/sinkholes.  The campsites are nice, flat, and shady with electricity & water.  They had great spaces for hanging out - an Olympic size pool, softball, basketball, volleyball, hiking, playground, Frisbee golf...  And it was only 45 minutes from Nashville!
Do you have favorite camping sites near middle Tennessee?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: Candle Bible Handbook

This is almost like a study Bible for children and teens.  The content reminds me of the chapter introductions in my favorite adult study Bibles, but it's written in a language that children can understand.

Each book of the Bible has an overview, an outline, frequently asked questions, key words, and study questions.  It also has a "Look out for" section that lists the major themes in the book.  It's full of brightly colored pictures and maps for visual learners.  It has 2-page spreads on other major topics, such as the Tabernacle Tent, Jerusalem, life in Jesus' time, Paul's missionary travels...

The appendix includes more collections:
Big ideas in the Bible (key words and their definitions)
Promises in the Bible
Fifty very important passages
Who's who in the Bible (key characters and a paragraph about them)

It has a durable soft cover, so it will survive hefty use.

I would recommend this book to any young person that wants to learn more about the Bible.  I think it's especially suited for children ages 9-14.

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

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Book Review: 30 Days to a More Beautiful You: A Devotional for Girls; by Kylie Bisutti

Wow!  That's a good summary for Kylie Bisutti's new book, 30 Days to a More Beautiful You: A Devotional for Girls.  I loved reading through this little book.  It's honest to the core.  It's very personal with stories from Kylie's life and modeling career.  She does a great job connecting scriptures to real life situations.  She challenges girls to think about making courageous and counter-cultural choices based on Christian values.  She reinforces the truth of beauty from God's perspective.

I dabbled in the modeling world as a teen, so I fully understand the pressure to be beautiful and to look perfect.  Kylie has messages that we all need to hear.

From the publisher:  "Despite what the world leads us to believe, true beauty has nothing to do with outward appearances. The more we focus on what we look like on the outside, the more insecure we become.  Fortunately, God doesn't measure our worth by how we look. We have value simply because we are His children. The more we focus on getting our hearts right with the Lord and honoring Him, the more secure and confident we will become—and the more we will exude true beauty.  In 30 Days to a More Beautiful You, former Victoria's Secret Runway Angel Kylie Bisutti gives a complete inner-beauty makeover with succinct devotional readings designed to transform your heart, body, mind, and soul and put you on the path to becoming a happier, healthier, more beautiful you."

I think this would be a good devotional for any girl (age 14+) or woman who wants to understand God's definition of beauty.

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

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Melissa and Doug stamp set

I'm a big fan of Melissa and Doug products. my kids especially enjoy this stamp set. it has been the impetus for many craft projects, from thank you cards, to wall art, to notes for grandparents. we keep with a craft box with other stamps and ink pads, for instant fun for ages 3-12. what arts and crafts projects do your kids enjoy?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Book Review: Defending the Line

The publisher describes the book as "the story of David Luiz, 2010 player of the year and a rising star in international professional soccer, whose faith and success are inspiring to young athletes."

It's a very short book, as appropriate for an 8-12 age audience.  But honestly, I was bored.  I expected to hear a lot about his faith in relation to his career and development.  But it just felt like it was singing his accolades.  Don't get me wrong - he seems like an amazing athlete, I just wasn't very inspired by reading it.

If you need to write a report about the professional life of David Luiz, this book is for you.  If not, I'd look elsewhere.

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

Book Review: Casting the Net by Pam Rhodes

I just finished Pam Rhodes' newest book, Casting the Net , part of The Dunbridge Chronicles.  It's written in a style somewhat reminiscent of the Mitford Series, so I fully expected to enjoy reading the book.  It's good light-hearted fiction set in a church community in England.  It's a compilation of short stories woven together into a snapshot of the vicar's life.

The characters are easy to relate to.  Rhodes introduces many relational struggles common to all of us: death and grieving, sickness, abandonment and divorce, physical temptation, love and loss, life purpose, friendships, anger and retaliation, compromise, and faith.

It's definitely more liberal Christian fiction.  I'm not sure about the theological drives in the book.  There is a lot of acceptance and grace, but little confrontation of sin.  it's fine for a light-hearted read, but I believe we need to live in community with people who will speak the truth in humility and love; not just turn a blind eye to sin.

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

Friday, May 02, 2014

Camping in Tennessee

My friend Meredith is slowly working her way through the state park list via camping advenures with her family of 6. I loved hearing about her favorite camping spots so far, so I thought I'd share them with you:

Davy Crockett State Park near Lawrenceburg (nice creek play and I appreciate having a restaurant for back up!)
Roane Mtn. State Park (great pool and river, hike portion of Appalachian Trail nearby) 
Edgar Evins (fishing the Caney Fork below the dam, also a swim beach nearby)
Chickasaw State Park to the west, we went to see the Pinson Mounds a few miles away, an old fashioned camp feel
We have also camped at Mousetail Landing and Tims Ford, both of which weren't as interesting if you didn't have a boat.

My sister also raves about Roan Mountain State Park, and my friend Mary's family loves Fall Creek Falls.

Where do you like to go camping?