Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: Love and War Devotional for Couples

I was looking for a couples devotional for me and my husband... and this is wonderful!!! It is a 8 week long devotional, 5 days a week. They are short and to the point. The topics range from expectations, to intimacy. Each day has scripture, prayer, and a short message from the authors. The devotionals are very easy to ready but with a very strong message.

I would recommend all couples to read this together. Whether you are newly weds, and married for 20 years, all couples can gain something from taking 5 minutes a day to do this devotional.

Note: "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review".

Book Review: International Children's Bible: Holy Bible

When I first read the description for this Bible, I thought it was a children's "bible story" book... not the actual Bible... so as you can imagine, I was utterly disappointed when I received a full children's translation of the Holy Bible instead. The images on the cover are actually a bit difficult to see due to the glitter effect. Jesus is the only clear image... the rest of the characters you see above are actually pretty difficult to see.

Even though the cover might not be to my liking, the translation is very good. I will be using this translation to teach my elementary school kids during story time, but I would not use it for an actual Bible study. Even though the translation is written so that kids can understand what they are reading, I feel that some of the changes made in translation takes away the original meaning.

This Bible has a dictionary in the back with full definitions, and references to where it is mentioned in the Bible. This is a wonderful feature for youngsters... even for adults! As for the pictures in the Bible, it will definitely attract children, but as an adult, I was not a fan of the computerized characters.

Even though I was not a fan of the art inside or on the cover, I would give this book as a gift to an upper elementary school student. It is easy to read, with good size font and would be a good resource for the kids.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recipe: Cranberry-Orange Scones

I found this recipe on: Obsessed With Baking Blog

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar (I added 4 tbsps for a bit more sweetness)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup heavy cream 
zest of one orange

Directions I followed:
Step 1: Place all ingredients except for heavy cream in food processor... and pulse about 12 times or so. 
Step 2: Pour cream in slowly and mix... next time, I will use the KitchenAid Mixer.
Step 3: Cut dough in half. Make into ball, flatten into about 1/2 inch thick or so and slice into 8 pieces. 
Step : Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes on un-greased baking sheet.

I liked this recipe because it didn't require too many ingredients, and it was sooo easy to make! One modification I would make is to put an orange glaze on top for that extra zest! :o) Yummy. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: Life Without Limits

A couple weeks ago, I joined Blogging for Books... Like many other publishers, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group will send you free books to review for just a short blog review of the book. As I started my journey as a reviewer... my first task was to select a book...

What better book to begin reviewing with than the story of Nick Vujicic. I had previously seen a youtube video about his DVD, No Arms, No Legs, No Problem, and found him to be fascinating, and super inspirational. So I just had to see what he had to say!! 

Life Without Limits is Nick telling about his life, and his secrets to finding "ridiculous" joy from life. He shares his struggles growing up without limbs, his parents' struggles in raising a child without limbs, and how both overcame the "limits"! I really enjoyed reading this book. At first I was a little nervous that this was going to be a self help book, trying to encourage me to go out and take on the world, but as I read deeper into the book, Nick really opens up about his life, people who impacted him as much as he had impacted them. I loved the part of the book where he talks about meeting a little boy named Daniel for the first time... Daniel was just like him, no arms, no legs... and even had the same little stubby foot!

I really enjoyed Nick's perspective on God's role in making him... and how God has used his "disability" and turned it into his "abilities". His ability to inspire hundreds of people at once, and how he has changed people's lives is just amazing!!! He talks a lot about what he has seen throughout his travels as a motivational speaker and that joy comes from within us, not from around us.

This is a great book of encouragement for people who are struggling with self-doubt, in tough situations, or just really enjoy a good read about amazing people! Be prepared to laugh and cry throughout the book. I love Nick's sense of humor throughout the book, even when talking about very tough subjects. The book also includes pictures of Nick as a child, teenager, and as an adult doing some incredible things!

Note: "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review". 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Mint Squares

I found this recipe for Chocolate Mint Squares on the Joy of Baking Website:

Of course, I never bake according to directions... so...

I made a homemade batch of brownies from scratch using my favorite brownie recipe... though, I am sure you can use just a box of brownie mix and no one will be able to tell the difference. I made only half a batch of brownies to fit into a 8x8 pan because these little suckers are so rich that really... you don't need a WHOLE batch of them... especially when it's just for you and your husband. If you have family coming in though... this would call for a whole batch.

I did follow the Joy of Baking recipes for the mint frosting and the chocolate topping.

Mint Layer:
tablespoons(28 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons creme de menthe
green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Glaze:
3 ounces (90 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Directions I used:

Bake brownies and cool.

Combine all Frosting ingredients, and blend till smooth. Spread on top of brownies.

Melt Chocolate chips and butter in microwave (30 seconds at a time) until smooth.

Spread on top of frosting.

Refrigerate for one hour and then serve.

One modification I did make... I used 2 Tablespoons of whipping cream instead of just 1.5 Tablespoons for the frosting... and for the chocolate topping... I had to add some whipping cream to that too because it did not melt properly... sigh... it's not as smooth as I would have liked... maybe next time.

Heavenly goodness.... my husband had 3 pieces in ONE sitting!!! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recipe: Shepard's Pie

I found this recipe for Shepard's Pie on:



  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels 1 can of peas, drained 
  • tablespoons butter  cooking spray
  • large onion, chopped 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • stalk celery, chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs ground beef
  • garlic clove, minced
  • tablespoons flour
  • cup beef broth 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • cup diced canned tomatoes or cup crushed tomatoes in puree
  • teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

*Note: You can see where I crossed out and made personal modifications to the recipe.

Directions I used: 

1. Boil potatoes in pot.
2. In a skillet, saute onions and celery
3. Add very lean beef
4. Add broth, flour, then diced tomatoes, then seasonings. Add drained canned peas.
5. Spray casserole pan and layer meat filling.
6. Make mashed potatoes and place on top of the filling.
7. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and paprika.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. 

Instead of sauting the veggies in butter, I just used cooking spray. Instead of using corn, I just drained a can of peas and added it at the end. 

For my mashed potatoes, I did a basic garlic dirty mashed potatoes. I was too lazy to peel potatoes, so I just cut 4 medium potatoes into 3rds, and boiled it for about 25 minutes. Next time I will boil it a bit longer to make sure they are easier to mash... I added about 1 cup of skim milk, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 cloves of minced garlic... delicious! The best way to fluff it up is using a hand mixer!

The Results:


    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Recipe: Moroccan Chicken Stew

    From: Campbell's Kitchen


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 8 (4 ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
    • 2 medium red onions, sliced
    • 1 large green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
    • 1/3 cup golden raisins
    • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
    • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted


    1. Heat the oil in a 5-quart saucepot over medium high heat. Add the chicken in batches and cook until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the saucepot.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, pepper and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until they're tender-crisp. Add the cinnamon and curry and cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the soup and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the saucepot. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
    3. Stir the raisins and chickpeas in the saucepot. Cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the almonds.

    My modifications: 
    - used 1 white onion instead of 2 red onions
    - used 1 chicken breast sliced in half instead of thighs. The perfect amount for me and my husband.
    - used 2 jalapeno peppers instead of green peppers
    - used regular raisins instead of the golden kind
    - skipped the slivered almonds because I didn't have any...
    - I did add 1.5 cup of cauliflower for the last 10 minutes, and it came out delicious! I didn't have to dirty an extra pot to make the veggie and it gave the cauliflower great flavor! 
    If you use 2 chicken breasts, this will serve 4! I served the stew on top of plain couscous. It was absolutely delicious!
    Definitely would make this one again!!!  

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Book Review: A Year with God by R.P. Nettelhorst

    A Year with God
    By: R.P. Nettelhorst

    I was really excited to get this book from BookSneeze in the hope that I would find a devotional that would help me with my quiet times... as I opened the book, I was glad to find that the book is broken into different themes, such as Hope and Fear, Love and Hate, Perseverance and Quitting, etc, but the unfortunate part is that it is consecutive... so you would be reading for weeks on one topic... eek. Months of devotionals on Loyalty and Betray!

    The devotional is daily, not "dately"... so you can start at any point on the calendar. The devotional has a passage from the Bible where God spoke directly. I enjoy the passages. The author used many different Bible translations... but if you're dedicated to only one translations, this might be an issue. I liked how the author used larger passages for the daily devotionals instead of just a verse or two. I was not moved by the writer's writing style or the commentaries in the devotionals. I felt that they were very opinion based and read into the emotions of the Biblical character's thoughts and feelings that weren't always clearly portrayed in the Bible...

    I would not recommend this book a new believer.

    I plan to keep this one on my bookshelf for when I may need a reference on passages that refer to specific topics, but for right now, I have a feeling I will not be following this devotional for a WHOLE year...

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Recipe: Pumpkin Squares with Oat Crust

    I found this Pumpkin Squares recipe on:

    Cook Time: 35 minutes

    Total Time: 35 minutes


    • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
    • 1 1/4 cups flour
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon soda
    • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
    • Filling:

    • 2 cups pumpkin puree (16 ounce can)
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice *


    Combine oats, flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the baking soda, and the butter; beat until mixture is crumbly. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture and press remaining mixture into a lightly buttered 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.
    Prepare filling. Beat filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Spread filling over the crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Return to oven and bake 25 minutes longer. Cool and cut into bars.
    *The following can be combined to make pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 

  • My Notes: I pretty much followed this recipe to the T, including the pumpkin spice substitute! One thing I did do.... I beat the egg really good before I put it into the puree... to ensure that I didn't have pieces of egg in my bars! I chose to use pecans because that what I had in the house! These came out absolutely delicious! My husband actually said he liked this better than pumpkin pie!!! The bars are a bit soft like pumpkin pie so I would keep the bars in a pan until it is time to serve, instead of transferring them onto a serving plate. The topping/crust was a hit! Very very good!!! I would suggest making a little extra topping! I ran out and couldn't cover as much of the squares as I would have liked... but still delicious! 

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Book Review: The Secrets Beneath by Kathleen Fuller

    We recieved our first book for review from

    The Secrets Beneath by Kathleen Fuller

    This book is written for young teen females. It is a very charming book that opens the doors to the Amish culture. Bekah is an Amish girl, growing up in the countryside of Ohio with her family, when her cousin comes to live with her without explanation, and a mysterious man moves next door. Bekah tries to solve two mysteries:
    1) Why is her cousin living with them?
    2) Why is her new neighbor in his backyard in the middle of night digging holes?

    Even though the plot/mysteries aren't too captivating, the characters are charming. At first, I found the use of the Amish terms distracting, but after getting further into the book, I enjoyed the use of the Amish terms. The book did not focus heavily on Christian beliefs except in two small paragraphs. The book does take time to talk about God answering prayers and how God's answers looks in different situations.

    Even though the series of this book is called "The Mysteries of Middlefield", this book was far from the Nancy Drew Mystery classics.

    This would be a great book for a young teen girl who was interested in learning more about the Amish community or going through some family difficulties, such as dealing with parents with depression, separation, divorce, etc (which are all addressed very lightly in this book).

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Craft: Holiday Salt Cookie Dough Ornament

    Yesterday, I was talking to my neighbor, and she mentioned that her mom used to make "Salt-Cookie-Dough Ornaments"... and since last night, that has been the ONLY thing on my mind...

    I googled to find out a bit more about it... and found this great blog!

    This blogger not only put the recipe up, but also step by step instructions, and pictures... this really helped because... well... it was my first time making them and really didn't have a clue on how to create them!

    I have to confess... I basically copied her designs because they were so cute!

    I halved the recipe because I thought 4 cups of dough would be a bit overwhelming... and I was right! With only half the recipe, I was still able to make a good 16 ornaments!

    Other than the halving of the recipe, I followed it to the T... and it was perfect to work with!

    You can definitely do some fun things by coloring the dough before cutting! I do have one piece of advice... it may be easier to mix the water with the food coloring before you mix it into the flour and salt. I had to kneed for a while to get the coloring to be evenly distributed!

    Though... at 250 degrees... it's taking quite a long time to bake....

    About an hour and a half later...

    Once the ornaments are cooled and dried a bit longer... I will paint them, put wiggle eyes on the snow man, and then spray them with varnish. VOILA!

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Movie: Princess and the Frog

    Growing up, I was always a fan of the Disney princess movies... so when "The Princess Frog" came out, I just had to watch it! I was utterly disappointed with the movie.

    First of all, this movie was very dark! The "magic" that turns the prince into a frog is "voodoo" magic, and the dark magician summons "demons" to capture the frog when the frog escapes. When the dark magician was not able to meet his end of the bargain, he was dragged "down into the earth"! 

    My husband and I both agree that this movie is not appropriate for young children! Parents should definitely screen this one before they allow their kids to watch it!

    Even as an adult, I thought some of the scenes were very scary, with all the references of dark magic, evil spirits, etc, I was uncomfortable! I couldn't imagine any of my preschoolers watching this movie without getting scared... or even some of the elementary school kids! Should not have had a G rating! It should have been rated PG or even PG-13!!! 


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