Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

“When the Soul Mends” by Cindy Woodsmall

When Hannah Lapp left Owl’s Perch, she made a new life for herself in Ohio.  Between dating the wealthy Martin Palmer, caring for his niece and nephew, taking nursing classes, and working at a midwifery clinic, Hannah is finally at peace with her Englischer life; at least, she is until her Amish sister calls, insisting that she return home.  After being reunited with family and friends, circumstances prevent another clean break – and this time Hannah must work with her former fiancĂ© to find help for her sister.  As Hannah begins to find closure for the heartbreaking events that led to her leaving, she must make a choice:  will she find the peace that she craves in Ohio with Martin, or in Pennsylvania with Paul?

I loved this book.  In fact, I loved the whole series.  I read the first book, When the Heart Cries, some time ago, and I immediately tracked down the second two to read.  Another reading of this one confirmed my initial impression – it is just as riveting, just as dramatic, just as real as it was the first time through.

Some of the Amish fiction stories that I’ve read make everything in the Amish world appear peaceful and serene, as if the biggest problem an Amish person ever faces is which field to plow and whether to marry English or Amish; but you’ll never get that false impression from one of Woodsmall’s books.  Woodsmall applies real life, contemporary issues to Amish characters and then digs deep to see how they might find resolution.  Each detail, each nuance, each character is intertwined, and the depth of the relationship and the soul-searching that must be done before these major decisions are made is well explored. 

These dramatic problems create charasmatic, real characters who appear to be people you might just meet walking down the street.  In fact, having grown up in the region of this book’s setting, I was tempted to get out a map to ascertain exactly which towns were real, because who wouldn’t want to visit City Island in Harrisburg and run into Hannah?

If you like Amish fiction, hurry to your nearest retailer and read When the Soul Mends.  If you’ve tried Amish fiction before and weren’t impressed, give it another shot – Woodsmall is sure to change your mind.

I received a free copy of When the Soul Mends from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Fun Tablescape

Decorating is SO not my thing - ask anybody - but this is a fun tablescape that even decorating dummies like me can handle.

When my husband and I got married, I was teaching first grade during my second year of living here in North Carolina.  Our wedding was back in Pennsylvania, in the small country church where my family had been attending for nearly a hundred years, and we decided to use all of these parts of our lives in our reception.

We covered the reception tables - the long, rectangular kind - with white paper; you know, the kind that comes off of a big roll.  We put a few crayons at each end of the table, and in the middle a single goblet filled with water.  We floated a flower-shaped candle in the middle of it and sprinkled some glitter around the candle.

(I think maybe my mom had this idea?  Not sure - but I loved it!)

This made for very simple tables with fun lights, which suits me to a T.  Better yet, it gave our guests something to do while they waited for the picture-taking session to end.

As we meandered throughout the room during the reception, talking with guests, many showed off their artwork to us.  Some people signed them and told us to cut them out and put into our wedding album - and these drawings definitely would have made great mementos.

I don't ever plan to use this idea in quite the same way again (I'm not a wedding planner) but I think it would be a fun idea to use for kids' holiday tables or for fun multi-family get-togethers.  The paper is easy to pull off when the event is over and makes clean-up simple, and the canvas for artistic possibilities is huge.

Who doesn't want to fill a huge white space with color?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Journey from a Potato to a Nut

I wrote back here about my desire to become  more physically fit.  Of course, in order for that to happen, one must exercise.

And there's the rub:  I'm not a huge fan of exercise, but it is getting easier, and there are a few things really egging me on.

First of all, I've lost a few pounds.  Seeing smaller numbers on the scale is always a motivator, isn't it? ;-)  I haven't lost that much, but I'm halfway to my goal; and best of all, my husband has started calling me 'Skinny' again.  Trust me, I'm not, but it's nice to have my effort recognized, and it helps to keep me focused on my goal.

Secondly, a few of us have formed an e-accountability group.  Actually, we've got two groups going now, and so if you want in, I'll see what I can do.  Here's how it works:  we each choose our exercise and commit to doing that Monday through Friday.  Then, each day after exercising, we email the other women in our group.  So far, the thought of having to admit to not exercising has gotten me up and moving several times.  Thanks, ladies!

I've also downloaded a free app for my Nook called (it's also a website that's free, so you don't need an e-reader).  I'm having fun with this!  Basically, it's a calorie calculator.  You can set your own goals and then update each day with what you've eaten and how much you've moved.  You don't have to count anything, but just click a few times, and it figures out everything.  While I'm not really trying to go by the numbers, seeing the wide variety of activities that LoseIt counts as exercise has been informative - and it's fun to enter how long I did yardwork or cleaned the house and see those calories get added back to how many I can eat that day.  You can have friends through this site, too, so if you're on there, I'd love to get to know you!

So while I'm definitely not an exercise nut yet, maybe I've lost a bit of my starch and am on my way there.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"The Good Wife's Guide" by Darlene Schacht

We seem to have forgotten how to care for our homes.  We struggle to keep up with the basics, all the while wondering how our grandmothers managed to iron, cook, bake, polish, and wax - and look good while doing it.

The Good Wife's Guide provides the motivation, the encouragement, and the practical how-to that many of us need.  Schacht shares why it is vitally important that our homes be well-cared for and the impact that doing so has on our families today.

The second half of the book is all about the nitty-gritty basics.  Schacht gives cleaning routines, tips, and how-to's to keep us all on our toes.  These are so detailed that she lists more than 50 steps for how to clean your bathroom!  Following these tips will certainly keep your house spotless and a clutter-free sanctuary for your family.

The book ended rather abruptly at the end of a chapter of cleaning tips, but The Good Wife's Guide is being re-released next month as a print version with four additional chapters.  Perhaps that one has a smoother ending.  I would love to read those additional chapters because this shorter e-edition is chock-full of good information.

The focus of this book was on being a good wife, not a good mother, and yet that is one thing I would have loved to see that wasn't in this book.  How do I teach these skills to my children?  How do I include them in this plan?  Many of us want our children to begin having chores at young ages, and with such detailed plans, this would have made a fantastic practical addition to this book.

Nevertheless, if you struggle with the how's and why's of your role as a wife, this is a must-read book.

I received a free e-copy of The Good Wife's Guide in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GratiTuesday - Family Blooms

When I was a little girl, my mom and my great-grandmother had a friendly little competition going.  Each year as Christmas approached, they would count the blooms on their Christmas cacti.  Mom's would be big and beautiful and covered in blooms - and then we'd go see Grandma, and she'd slyly point out her cactus, which not only completely covered her floor-model TV, but reached nearly to the floor on either side.

As a kid, I loved watching the two of them laugh about their plants and count the blooms, pretending to try to one-up the other, knowing that both of them were very talented Christmas cactus people.

So imagine my delight when my Secret Santa gave me a small Christmas cactus my first year of teaching.  I was very excited and planted it in a new pot after Christmas, anxiously awaiting the blooms .... that never came.

I still have that Christmas cactus ... and it finally bloomed!  It manages to pop out a bud every other year or so, but this year was special.

Do you you see it?  Maybe you need a close-up.

It's got TWO blooms - in the same year!  Never mind that the silly plant is blooming a few months past Christmas - better late than never, right?

The kids are completely amused at my excitement over these two little red buds.  Maybe someday they'll understand.

And maybe someday, given another sixty or eighty or two hundred years, I'll be able to coax a few more blooms out of it.

'Til then, I think Mom and Grandma are winning.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - March 26, 2012


We still haven't managed to finish celebrating our Big Helper's birthday - but this time the company got sick and the party got rained out.  We're on again for this weekend!  We did manage to do the birthday dinner out, but sadly she was disappointed by the fish and chips she so wanted to try out at a restaurant.  She's asked for them at home, so we'll be having those this week.

With commitments at night by at least one person in the family every single night this week - such a rare thing for us! - I'm keeping dinners very simple so I can be cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time.

So, here goes:  this is what we'll be eating this week.



- yogurt with fruit and Cinnamond Almond Granola (Big Helper's newest favorite breakfast)
- Southwestern breakfast tacos
- baked doughnuts, oranges
- breakfast muffins, bananas
- cinnamon rolls, fruit

Lunches will be our usual assortment of leftovers or sandwiches with yogurt or cheese and sliced fruits or veggies.



- Baked chicken, S'mashed Italian Potatoes, baked cauliflower, applesauce


- Fish and Healthy Homemade Potato Chips, roasted carrots
- Mexican pizza, corn
- Chicken corn soup, breadsticks

- Birthday cookout:  cheeseburgers, Mom's Baked Corn, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Dinner at church

Our House Party should finally happen on Saturday!  I won a Johnsonville Sausage House Party, and it looks as if we'll have more than 20 people here.  The kids are looking forward to some playtime outside with their friends, and we'll all enjoy a beautiful day and yummy food.  For that, we're planning to make Italian baked beans, pizza, lasagna, rigatoni with Bolognese sauce, and a cheesy dip.  My Big Helper's planning her first trifle, as well.

What are you cooking up this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Semi-Homemade Baked Corn Dogs

Earlier this week someone asked me how I make our semi-homemade baked corn dogs.  These are so simple it's funny, but since you asked, I'm happy to share.

We don't eat hot dogs in any form very often, but the kids love them, and this makes a fun change from your typical dog-in-a-bun.  Besides - cornbread just tastes yummy!

So, to make your own baked corn dogs, you'll need:

  • 4 hot dogs
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 egg
To make your corn dogs:
  1. Throw your hot dogs on a baking sheet to heat.  The idea is just to get them hot so that they are ready with their corn muffin clothing is baked.
  2. Mix your Jiffy muffins.  Add the egg and milk to the mix in a small bowl and stir.
  3. Dip the hot dogs into the mix one at a time to coat.  I don't think it's possible to give them a thin coating, which makes my kids happy, hence the lumpy mess you see above - but it's tasty.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
I've made these other ways, too, depending on what's going on, so here are a few other ideas:
  • After mixing your muffins, put a spoonful into each well of a mini loaf pan.  Cut each hot dog in half and push it into the muffin mix.  Bake as directed above.
  • Mix muffins and coat hot dogs as directed above.  Place each hot dog into it's own piece of foil, sprayed to prevent sticking, and fold to prevent air from escaping.  Bake on a top rack on a grill, checking periodically to prevent burning.
Of course, if you have a corn bread recipe you just love, I'm sure that would work, too.  I haven't found a great one yet - so feel free to pass yours along!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New SwagBucks Sign-up Code!

If you're wondering what the fuss is about the SwagBucks program, now is the time to sign up!

SwagBucks is a site that gives you points, or SwagBucks, in exchange for performing simple tasks, many of which you would do anyway, like searching the web.  I rarely do any of the activities besides a one-question daily poll and my regular online searches, and I often earn between 20 and 30 points daily.

What do you do with the SwagBucks once you acquire them?  You trade them in for other things!  You can play games, buy clothing, music, gift certificates, etc.  My favorite is the Amazon e-card, because I can buy nearly anything with that.  I've purchased parts for my bike, books for Bible study, Christmas presents for my kids, and am currently saving to replace my dying bread machine.

Generally you receive 30 SwagBucks when you register, but right now you'll earn an extra 70 when you use the code MARCHSWAG.  This code is valid now and will last until midnight on April 2nd.  That's a total of 100 SwagBucks (and a $5 Amazon card is only 450 pts!).

Any other Swaggernauts out there?  What do you think of SwagBucks?

**The links above contain my 'affiliate' links that will allow me to earn matching points for your first few as a new sign-up.  Thanks for using them!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

By the Light of the Silvery Moon" by Tricia Goyer


Amelia Gladstone was headed to America to meet her pen pal - and hopefully her future husband - when she sees a homeless man being thrown off of Titanic, the ship on which her New York Yankee bought her passage.  With one member of her family unexpectedly detained, she offers the ticket to Quentin Walpole, hoping to give him the hope he seems to lack.  Amelia doesn't realize that Quentin comes from a wealthy American family, nor do they realize that his father and brother are both residing in first class cabins.  With both Walpole brothers and an American pursuing her affections, Amelia must make her choice - and hope that they all survive the tragedy aboard Titanic.

Goyer handles the tragedy of the Titanic beautifully.  While she describes the vast numbers of people who didn't survive that fateful night, she finds a balance between between portraying the horror of it all and yet contrasting that with the bravery and courage shown by so many of the passengers and crew on board.

Goyer's extensive research shows through her attention to detail through descriptions of the furnishings and even menus on board.  From dresses to music to floor plans to class separations, Goyer leaves nothing out.

The plot is far advanced beyond most Titanic stories I've read, and the drama of the story is the very best part of all.  Of course there's a complicated love story, there are class differences, there's wealth and beauty abundant; but there's also a Titanic- era retelling of the Prodigal Son.  With faith and forgiveness as main themes of the story, By the Light of the Silvery Moon is completely unique.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and wasn't ready for it to end.  When I turned the last page, I immediately turned back to the middle and began again.  I've finally put it down for now - but I'll definitely be picking it back up again.

If you like history, don't miss By the Light of the Silvery Moon.  It's a must-read - and a keeper.  Check out the trailer below:

If that has sealed the deal for you, you can buy the book here now.  For a second opinion - or third or fourth - visit the blog hop here.


Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

But wait - there's more!

Win an Flip HD Camcorder during @TriciaGoyer's Unsinkable Titanic Giveaway and RSVP for 4/10 Titanic Party! Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party.

One "unsinkable" winner will receive:
  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 9th. Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/ 10. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

I received a free copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free o

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What to Read?

My kids are both bookworms.

They love to read.  Neither will leave the house without a handful of books in tow - and if it's a trip of any length, then they pack a bagful.

I love this characteristic.  I love that they're curious, they love the written word, they get lost in stories of imaginary times and lands and people.  They read to gain information, to learn how things work, to figure out their world, to add to their storehouse of knowledge.

But all of that reading takes a lot of books, and while one of them happily reads the same books about the same topics over and over, accepting that new books on these topics are limited, the other frets and pushes the limits.

She doesn't want to read the same books time and again.  She wants to be challenged with new material, new words, new terms and concepts.

So I hunt, searching for books suitable for both her age and reading level, trying to find mysteries and humor and children being creative but being children.  I search for books with characters who are kind, mature, problem-solving, and for authors who write with flowing prose and strong vocabularies.

That's hard.  There are lots of kiddie chapter book series out there, but many of them have a watered-down vocabulary and name-calling characters.  She can read harder books, but many of them contain information for which she is too young.

I don't expect her to read Moby Dick, and fluffy books make great entertainment; but even fluffy books can be of good quality.

So my search continues.  I currently have stacks of kiddie books to read before her but would love to find something more difficult, something that makes her think and takes longer than 30 minutes to read.

What about you?  Do you read books before passing them off to your children?  What are their favorite books/authors??

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

GratiTuesday - Spreading Out the Love

All last week, we geared up to celebrate our Big Helper's birthday.  As you can imagine, she was super excited and had big plans for her big weekend - until she got sick, that is.

A few days before her birthday she got a tummy bug, and unfortunately, it was a particularly unpleasant few days for her.

Not knowing when she'd recover or who else might get sick, our out-of-town guests postponed their visit and all birthday plans went from 'definite' status to 'maybe.'

I feared she would cry, but she surprised me.  She got quiet for a few minutes, nodded that she understood, and asked a few questions to clarify the plans we were able to make.

First, she took advantage of the enforced stillness to read, write, and draw.

Then she began planning.  Knowing that the birthday plans that had been scheduled over a two-day period would now need to be rearranged, she sat down and drew a calendar and started penciling in her new ideas.  She even exclaimed at one point, "Mommy!  Now I'll get to celebrate my birthday for two weeks!"  What an attitude!

After poring through a new cookbook, My Big Helper chose to make a peanut butter cake and wanted it shaped like a doll.  She was excited to be well enough to help make it ...

and she screamed when she saw my pathetic attempt at making a doll cake.  I was so glad that she liked it!

So, now, we've celebrated with one set of grandparents and will with the other soon.  She'll celebrate at school tomorrow and the birthday express will continue.

For now, though, I'm grateful that the tummy bug has moved on.  That my Big Helper's smile has returned and that she willingly made the best of a very yucky situation.  That she's a happy and healthy seven-year-old who delights in even the simplest things - that's just the best.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New SwagBucks Promotion


There's a new SwagBucks promotion beginning tomorrow!

If you're new to SwagBucks, it's a fun way to earn gift cards and other rewards for doing simple things online - like your regular 'Net searches or watching short videos.  I've earned nearly $200 in Amazon gift cards in the past and am about to order a bread machine with Amazon gift cards earned through SwagBucks!  You can learn more about it here.

Now, on to the promotion ...

March Swagness has come to Swagbucks - it's all about you earning bonus Swag Bucks while doing all of the things you’re already doing on Swagbucks. Every day thy’ll give you an earning goal, which you’ll find on their homepage. As you earn Swag Bucks throughout the day, that meter will fill up and when it’s full, you’ll have earned your bonus for the day. The bonus will always be 10% of that day’s goal. 

Be sure to check in everyday, as the earning goal for any given day could be higher or lower than the day before. Your total bonus amount will continue to accumulate each day, and your bonus amount will be applied at by April 5th – this special promotion runs through April 2nd. If you hit the earning goal every single day of March Swagness, your bonus amount will be doubled!

EVERYTHING you earn on Swagbucks counts towards March Swagness – including (but limited to) Search,SurveysTasks, Swag Codes, Special OffersReferral Bucks, Winning TTPTP, Hashtag and Comment hookups – if you earn it from us, it counts towards the day it was earned!

Get your March Swagness on starting tomorrow, when the goal will be 50 Swag Bucks"

Menu Plan Monday - March 19, 2012


Whewwww!  It's been quite the week around here.  NOTHING was as we expected - beginning super late Wednesday when our Big Helper's tummy bug moved in.  With company expected for her weekend birthday, all plans changed - and that changed our meal plans, too.  So some things that didn't happen last week will reappear here this week, and ... well, you get the idea.


- fruit salad with Cinnamon Almond Granola and Yogurt Honey Dressing
- scrambled eggs and toast
- popovers
- cinnamon rolls, fruit

Lunches will be our usual assortment of leftovers or sandwiches with cheese or yogurt and sliced fruit or veggies.

- Southwest baked chicken, rice, salad
- Ham and cheese omelets with sliced oranges

- Italian beef sandwiches, Guilty Good Green Beans, applesauce
- Homemade baked corndogs, roasted cauliflower, baked beans
- Delayed dinner out as part of the birthday celebration


- Johnsonville Sausage House Party!  We're making pizza, lasagna, a dip, baked navy beans, rigatoni, and some sort of trifle.
- Birthday party lunch, chosen by the Birthday Girl:  Cheeseburgers, baked corn, leftover trifle for dessert.

What are you cooking up this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!


Friday, March 16, 2012

From Couch Potato to Exercise Nut?

I don't like exercise.

There, I said it.  I mean really, what fun is it?  You get hot and sweaty and sore and then you just have to do it all over again the next day.

I like to do things that I can check off my 'to-do' list and be done with - not done for the day with.

All of that makes me a couch potato, I suppose, but have you ever looked at a potato?

They're roundish and bulging and really not very pretty.  Most of the time you have to change the shape of them to suit your purpose, because they're not ready the way they are.

And that's me.

If I stick with my couch potato habits, then I'm not very useful to my Master.  He has to reshape me and mold me and cut stuff away to suit His purpose.

I want to be useful.

I want to have the energy to play with my kids.  To keep up with my house and responsibilities.  To carry around all of their stuff with ease.  To have the energy to put into helping a neighbor, building my marriage, doing yard work.  To be moving my kids into college someday as one of those cool, youngish parents like mine were, instead of the elderly types so many of my friends had.

So I can't remain a potato.  I've gotta become a nut.

An exercise nut, that is.  I don't suppose I have to like it, actually, but why not accept it as necessary discipline that will make my body, mind, and soul stronger and go with it?

I currently have a friendly competition happening with a friend.  It's meant to encourage and inspire us, because we've both realized that as women, we prefer to work in groups  - especially when our work is less than thrilling.  However, it's still difficult to pull myself out of bed at 5 AM and go work out without daily accountability.

So are there any other exercise nut wanna-bees out there?  Is anybody else interested in being part of a group that encourages and inspires the others to move their bodies in some way, whatever way, with the goal of increasing their fitness?

If there are, please comment on this post.  Perhaps we could begin emailing the others in our group when we've completed our daily exercise, whatever that may be.  Perhaps we could benefit from some accountability buddies.

Maybe someday God will work a miracle and I can be svelte and athletic.  While being smaller would be nice, my heart would appreciate it, too.  So maybe someday 'thinnish' will describe me, though I most hope for 'fit.'

But you have to start somewhere.  So, for now, I'm probably more like this:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Healthy Homemade Potato Chips

When I read about baking potato chips online, I was rather skeptical - but not so much that I wouldn't try it.

Try it I did - but I was disappointed.  Despite shortening the baking time drastically, nearly every chip burned. 

With a bowlful of sliced potatoes that didn't fit onto the baking sheets I decided to try again - and this time we all liked the results. 

Now, compared to the general fried-and-in-a-plastic-bag kind of chips you buy in the store, these are going to be waaaaayyyy healthier.  With only two main ingredients, both of which we can all pronounce, it doesn't get much simpler than this.

These chips are rather labor-intensive, however.  If you're used to eating a bag a day, these might not be for you.

If you're planning a pool party with a hundred guests, I'd buy the grocery store variety by the case.

But if you want a good, flavorful, healthy, crunchy chip to feed your family alongside a really tasty sandwich, then these are for you.

Here's how you can make your own healthy potato chips in just minutes:

  • 4 medium Russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
Making these chips is really easy.  I recommend a comfortable pair of tongs, however!
  1. Slice your potatoes in super thin, uniform slices.  I used my mandolin and put it on the crinkle-cut setting.
  2. Put the sliced potatoes in a bowl and toss with 1/4 c. of olive oil.  Work with your hands to be sure that all the slices are evenly coated.
  3. With an electric skillet or griddle preheated to 400 degrees, spread out the chips in a single layer with no overlap.  Unless you have a monstrous griddle, you'll need to batch-cook these.
  4. Watch closely - as they begin to brown, flip them with tongs.
  5. Give the second side just a minute or two more and then remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
  6. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  7. You want your chips to look like this:

and not like this:

They cook on the griddle surprisingly fast, and as they cool, they gain a rich, satisfying crunch.  Yum!

I think I'll go make some more.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Gabby's Stick-to-It Day" by Sheila Walsh

Sophie wants to be helpful - but when the going gets rough, she gives up.  Feeling that she isn't big enough or good enough to help, she feels sad and useless.  Then Gabby, her guardian angel enters the picture.  Can Gabby teach Sophie to attack life with patience and endurance?

Based on Galations 6:9, Gabby learns that “We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NCV).  With this second installment of the Gabby series from author Sheila Walsh, our children can learn that same persistence.

Gabby's Stick-to-It Day is fabulous for young children.  Both fun and funny, with spirited examples of the things children find to quit doing, Sophie sets a great example for today's preschooler.  As a child who's both helpful and learning to be trustworthy, children see that we don't have to be perfect - but we do need to stick with it, even when our task is difficult.

I love the artwork in this book.  It's colorful and whimsical, with timeless clothing and hairstyles, making it truly a book that will remain fashionable forever.  This book is a large hardback book with a dust jacket, and the jacket actually has raised, embossed art on it.  The attention to detail is stunning.

Though described as a story for children aged 3 - 7, I would probably lower that a bit - at least if your child enjoys listening to stories.  With short passages of text on each page and colorful, detailed illustrations, each page will capture a child's attention until it is turned to the next.  

My only wish for this story is that for Gabby's language to be a bit more put together.  As an angel, she appears almost incoherent with excitement at times, and while her energy is appreciated, she stumbles over simple words, which will do little to encourage young listeners to learn about sentence formation.  Picky, I know, but our children are smarter than we think they are - so let's keep conversational slang in our friendly conversations and basic, simple sentences in our books for these young ones.  With that said, however, Walsh does not water down the vocabulary, which I very much appreciate.

Walsh teaches about the roles of angels in our children's lives with this new Gabby series while at the same time teaching important life lessons from the Bible.  Can a children's book get any better?

If you'd like to read more about this newest edition in the Gabby series, check out the blog hop happening now.  You can find the book available for purchase here.

I received a copy of Gabby's Stick-to-It Day from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.


Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher, speaker, singer, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. Sheila Walsh is the creator of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess® brand, which has sold over 1.5 million units and won two National Retailer's Choice Awards. As a featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability and humor with God's Word. She resides in Dallas with her husband Barry and son Christian.

Visit for more information about Sheila, her other books or Women of Faith.

Gabby's back ... and she's brought a Kindle Fire Giveaway with her!

Meet Gabby for yourself here. || Read what people are saying here.

Enter today - Sheila and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have put together a prize package worth over $200!

One lucky winner will receive:
  • A brand new KINDLE Fire with Wi-Fi
  • Gabby, God’s Little Angel 
  • Gabby's Stick-to-It-Day
But wait! There’s more …
The winner will be announced on the Gabby Landing page on 4/ 2/12. In the meantime, enter to win the Kindle Fire then head over to the Tommy Nelson site and download the Gabby coloring sheets, watch Sheila's Gabby video, sign up for news about upcoming Gabby and Thomas Nelson products, and much more.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GratiTuesday: A New Friend

I have a new friend.

I've had lots of friends since I moved to this town nearly 11 years ago, but most of them have come to work and soon go home again.  Since deciding to stay home I meet fewer people, and opportunities for new friendship happen less often.

But while subbing a few months ago I had the chance to meet the mom of a new student in school, and she's really nice.  Since then we've made trips to museum and had play dates after school - and tonight we went out shopping for a special birthday coming up.

It's been a long time since I went out for an evening with a friend, and it was fun.  We ran errands, talked a lot, and had a simple dinner out - that we didn't have to cook!

Having a new friend to hang out with, whose children my kids play well with, is just plain fun.  Who couldn't use a new friend??

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - March 12, 2012

It's my Big Helper's birthday week, and boy, is she excited!  She's planning meals and arrangements and decorations and bouncing with excitement.  It's so fun to watch her!

The weather seems to be gearing up towards the beginning of spring, as we're to experience a slow warm-up this week.  We're definitely ready to break out the grill.

With that in mind, here's our party- and spring-friendly menu plan for the week.

- blueberry muffins, oranges
- scrambled eggs, toast, bananas

- fruit and yogurt parfaits with Cinnamon Almond Granola
- cinnamon rolls, fruit

Lunches will be our usual assortment of leftovers or sandwiches with yogurt or cheese and sliced veggies or fruit.

- Cheeseburger Calzones
- Taco soup, tortilla chips
- Fish fry night! (My Little Man's studying fish in school this week, and this is the way he wants to cook it.)  Fried fish, oven fries, carrot sticks

- Grilled ham, S'Mashed Italian Potatoes, lima beans

- Pizza, salad
- Dinner out for the birthday girl

- Hamburgers, Mom's Baked Corn, birthday cake and ice cream

We'll also be taking a birthday treat to her classroom.  I have an idea for a kid-friendly combination of cake and ice cream.  If all goes well, I'll post it next week!

What are you cooking up this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!