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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Patchwork | Win an Amish-made Quilt from Kate Lloyd!

Kate Lloyd is celebrating the release of book two in her Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy, Pennsylvania Patchwork, by giving away an authentic Amish-made quilt!

  One "grand" winner receive:
  • An authentic Amish-made Quilt
  • Pennsylvania Patchwork and Leaving Lancaster by Kate Lloyd
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 29th. Winner will be announced on July 1st at Kate's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Layered Nacho Taco Salad

Sometimes it's just too hot to cook.

While the temps haven't really soared yet, it definitely feels hotter here in the Carolinas than it did just last week.  The humidity level has shot up and we've had lots of outdoor commitments - and most of them have been all day and in the sun.  I feel as if I've spent the past week in a sauna.

So when it came time to cook dinner, I really didn't want anything warm. Something simple and cool but filling and fun seemed right, and so My Big Helper and I made this Layered Nacho Taco Salad.

We ended up with a spicy and (mostly) healthy salad that had some fun crunch, too.

Here's how to make it:

  • 1 lb. ground meat - chicken, turkey, or beef (in the picture above, I used chicken)
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t. ground red pepper
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack and Colby Jack blend
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber
  • carrots to suit, sliced
  • Salad dressing - Catalina or Chipotle Ranch are great
  • 1 bag of Nacho Doritos
  1. Combine the meat, onion, and bell pepper in a skillet with the Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Brown until cooked through.
  3. Drain as necessary.
  4. Add seasonings and stir well.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Assemble the salad veggies on plates.
  7. Place a layer of Doritos on top of the veggies.  Top that with cheese and then with the meat mixture.
  8. Crown the whole salad with tomatoes and your favorite salad dressing.
What's your go-to meal when the temperatures rise??

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hurry, Hurry, Art DVDs for 62% Off!

This set is being discontinued! Get it while supplies last!

These 12 art instruction DVDs retail for $79.90!

YOUR PRICE is $30.00 - 62% off & includes *FREE SHIPPING! ~ While Supplies Last!

*Free shipping applies to USA orders only.

Let your child's inner artist shine with this exciting series of instructional DVDs created just for kids! Featuring 26 projects spread across 12 volumes, Mike's Inspiration Station: 12 DVD Boxed Set will draw out the budding artist in every child with fun and nicely-paced lessons in traditional mediums like drawing, painting, and sculpting, plus unique activities like making clothespin puppets and fridge art.

Geared toward ages 8-13, the series encourages kids to craft right along with host Michael Cariglio and his biblical buddy, Booker T Bible, a talking, animated Bible who offers creative inspiration with Scripture references. Let Mike's Inspiration Station inspire your child's creativity and get some fun art project ideas and fridge art in the process!

Download the COMPLETE Supply list containing master for all 12 DVDs as well as broken down by lesson.

Inspired Wednesday - Do You Know the Human Body Detectives?

Sometimes you happen across a new resource that you know will change the way you teach.  Discovering the Human Body Detectives has done that for our home.

This set of books for kids, written by Dr. Heather Manley, is a lot like a sci-fi-meets-non-fiction-storybook.  In each book a set of sisters, Merrin and Pearl, go on a Human Body Adventure in which they magically shrink and travel around inside a friend while learning about a specific system of the body.

These books are very well written.  They are chock full of scientific information, but it's presented in a fun and exciting way as the girls travel throughout the body, learning how it works.  The colorful pictures add detail and pizzazz, while side conversations reflect Dr. Manley's natural take on medicine and include the importance of healthy eating and exercise.

Why, though, do I think that these are so great?  What makes them stand out from, say, that other set of books that was turned into a cartoon with a traveling vehicle?

A few things.  First, the girls are supportive throughout the stories.  There's no name-calling, no flippancy, and no sarcasm.  The characters work together and are kind.

Secondly, the books are a great length - long enough to carry some weight and depth but short enough to be friendly.  These won't scare those who are still afraid of the length of a chapter book but have the meat necessary for science lovers.

The pictures add a lot.  Not only do they illustrate the story, but they illustrate the concepts - both by adding vision to the text but by illustrating the scientific principles.  This makes it easier to understand for visual people like me.  :-)

There are also fun facts, extra pictures, jokes, and additional information at the end of the story.  For those people who really want more, it's possible to add real curriculum to these stories by purchasing lesson plans from the author to accompany each book.  This could be a big part of your health curriculum for body systems.  What better - and more fun - way to learn them?  I'll definitely be doing this!

Osteoblasts cover

Dr. Manley has just released the fourth book in the series, called Osteoblasts to the Rescue (about the skeletal system).  The others are The Lucky Escape (digestive system), Battle with the Bugs (Immune system), and A Heart Pumping Adventure (the circulatory  system).  

I'm looking forward to reading these great books with my kids.  While we try to eat healthy foods and exercise, I know they'll be more aware of how these things fit into their overall health after reading the Human Body Detective books.

Keep reading for a great giveaway sponsored by Dr. Manley!
Have you heard of the HBD before??  Have you read any?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last week ShastaP at The Phillips Journey reminded me of the great blessing we have as moms of serving our family.  Sometimes I forget just how great I have it when I'm surrounded by dirty towels and sticky floors - but I am surrounded by my wonderful family who helps create those messes.  I've needed this reminder lately! To find out more, visit 
The Phillips Journey - and ShastaP, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks

If you have a post about an encouraging activity, project, or trip that you've taken, please link up below and add a link back to this post.  Either way, please read on to find out more about a fun activity that we enjoy here in our nest, and be sure to hop over to Where He Leads, We Follow to check out Stephanie's  Inspiring Wednesday post, too. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

GratiTuesday - The Great Outdoors

We live several hours from anyone in my family, and schedules make it difficult to talk as often as I'd like.

That's why it's especially fun when we're able to visit.  This weekend, my sister came down to visit Duke Gardens with us.

We wandered all over the Garden, hitting up our favorite spots and finding a few new ones.  The wildlife was out in full force that day, so we all took our cameras along and tried to get some good shots.  My sister is an especially good photographer, and these don't compare to hers, but here are a few of the animals we saw.

I'm still surprised that we saw this little guy!

This cardinal continued to eat despite our observation.

My Big Helper was particularly interested in the squirrels, and there were many!  This one climbed all over the tree while we watched.

I like to watch the ducks land and take off in the pond.  They never seem to do so the same way twice, and their speed and grace are amazing.

While it was an incredibly hot and sticky day, the animals were gorgeous.  There's something so peaceful about being outside in God's creation, especially when surrounded by so many interesting creatures.  

Having my sister there, too, was definitely the icing on the cake.  

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, June 24, 2013

"The Quarryman's Bride" by Tracie Peterson

Emmalyne Knox and Tavin MacLachlan were destined to be together . . . until the tragic deaths of Emmalyne's youngest sisters. Family tradition mandates that the youngest daughter should remain single to care for her parents in their old age, and now that daughter is Emmalyne. Her father unyielding, Emmalyne surrenders to her duty, heartbroken. Tavin leaves town, equally devastated.

Years later, Emmalyne's family moves, and she and Tavin meet again. Their feelings for each other are as strong as ever, but their painful past and Emmalyne's father still stand between them. Soon both families are in the midst of the growing conflict rising between the workers at the granite quarry that Tavin's father owns and operates. When a series of near-fatal accidents occur, Tavin must figure out who is behind the attacks before someone gets killed.

Bound by obligation, yet yearning for a future together, can Emmalyne and Tavin dare to dream that God could heal a decade-long wound and change the hearts of those who would stand in the way of true love?

The Quarryman's Bride is a fascinating tale of love lost and faithful choices.  I must admit, I found it hard to identify with Emmalyne's choice but loved her faithfulness and spirit.  That alone kept me turning page after page, hoping to find that Emmalyne's choice was rewarded in some way.  I'm not sure that I could have remained so positive or cheerful if so many things had been taken away from me, and yet that was Emmalyne's charm.

While Emmalyne had a tough choice to make in the beginning, it didn't get any easier later, when her family returned to the quarry.  This time she purposely chose the hard road and tried to follow God's wishes, not her own, and that upped the fascination factor for me.  

I really enjoyed The Quarryman's Bride.  It's a great story, full of faith, emotion, and taking up one's cross - something that many of us don't do enough.  With side plots of union troubles relating to the quarry and the stereotypes relating to the mentally ill, this book is not lacking action or intrigue, either.  It's not just a great beach read - it's a great anytime read.

To read other reviews in this blog hop, click here; or, click here to purchase your copy now.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. 

Visit Tracie's Web site at

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Menu Plan Monday - June 24, 2013

We had a busy and fun weekend here, but now we're (mostly) slowing down as we head into this week.  We're looking forward to some time with friends but mostly lots of time at home to read together, catch up on projects (me), and work on newly created ones (the kids - think embroidered pillowcases, Matchbox roads, and rabbit trousseaus).  

Here's the plan so far. I think it's definitely a work-in-progress this week.

- Cinnamon rolls, peaches

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal, bananas

Apple Pie Enchiladas
- scrambled eggs, fruit

Cinnamon Almond Granola, fruit

- leftovers - barbecued chicken, green beans, "Best Ever" Cheesy Grilled Potatoes, watermelon, salad
- BzzJono dinner from Kroger - fried chicken, chips, carrots, watermelon
- taco salad, fruit
Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers, fries, salad

PizzaGrilled Jalapeno Poppers, carrot sticks, fruit
- grilled steak fajitas, Mexican rice, salad
- leftovers

I'm hoping to replenish my granola ingredients and make some more granola bars, as well as bake up something yummy.  The kids are asking to make cookies.

What's on your meal plan this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Hershey Gardens

While we were in Pennsylvania a few months ago, we had to make a trip to Hershey.  When I was little we went there every year, and I have great memories of being there with my family and friends.

This time we received a recommendation to visit the Hershey Gardens, and since we had never been and had just finished studying botany, we decided it sounded like a neat place to go.

It turned out to be the perfect time for my first visit.

The entrance brings you here, near this fountain, which is set just above the formal rose garden.  Since it was the very beginning of May, no roses were blooming yet, but we didn't mind.

The tulips were in full bloom!  Tulips are my very favorite flowers and have been ever since seeing the many kinds of tulips blooming beside my great-grandmother's fence.  She always scolded my great-grandfather when he ran over them with his lawn tractor, and I loved watching them smile and laugh about it.  

We learned from a brochure that there are 42,000 tulip bulbs planted in the garden.  It was gorgeous!

The kids were as excited about the animals they saw as they were about the plants.  My Big Helper spotted a mourning dove and was determined to get as close as possible.  She spent a long time sitting here on the edge of the path as the bird inched closer ...

while My Little Man found a comfy spot to wait!

One thing that was unique to us was the Children's Garden.  This area was very well done - with a Native American garden area, a literature-inspired area, an alphabet herb garden, and interactive exhibits.  My Little Man particularly liked this sundial.

My Big Helper was excited to see this machine that would let her look out over the town of Hershey.  Unfortunately, it wasn't working on this day - but the view was spectacular, anyway.

We had a great day at the Hershey Gardens.  We definitely want to go back when next we're in the area!

What's your favorite park or garden to visit?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The BECW (or, The Bacon Egg Cheddar Waffle)

You hit snooze a few too many times.  Now you're rushing to get breakfast and out the door while stepping on Legos and trying to avoid the dog's tail, which seems to be everywhere you try to put your foot.


Well, in my house it might be more like packing lunches, figuring out breakfast, braiding hair, grabbing printables and trying to get kids dressed who would rather be reading - and then finding missing shoes on your way out the door.

Either way, mornings can be hectic, but I've found a make-ahead breakfast that doesn't have to be.

Think egg sandwich meets a waffle.  It's sweet.  It's savory.  It's whole grains and proteins, and if you add some spinach or tomatoes, it'll even have veggies.


Here's how to make your own Bacon Egg Cheddar Waffle.

Ingredients & Directions:

  • 3 1/2  c. white wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. sour milk
  • 4 T. butter, melted
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
Whisk above ingredients together.  Begin making your waffles ...
  • 1 lb. of bacon, fried/baked/crispy  :-)
  • 8 eggs + milk for mixing
  • 1/2 c. cheddar
  • butter for pan prep
Now ...
  1. Whisk your eggs and milk together.  In a warm pan, prepare the eggs omelet-style. I like to use a pan that's about the same size as my waffle will be, so I sometimes cook the eggs in batches for easier assembly later.
  2. Add the cheese to the eggs when they're almost cooked.
  3. Cook the waffles to your desired crispness.
  4. Slide one omelet between two waffles and top with several strips of bacon.
  5. Slice along the divider lines in your waffle (In my waffle maker, each waffle is divided into four sections, so each complete waffle sandwich divides into four smaller pieces for me).
  6. Serve immediately, or wrap with waxed paper and place into a zip-seal bag.  Freeze for later use.
What's your favorite to-go breakfast?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - Refresh Your Resources

A few months ago a friend told me about a used curriculum sale in a nearby city. She said that, in addition to curriculum, there would be an abundance of books - just good books - and that I might want to go.

I put it on my calendar with the goal of having next year's units outline before the sale so that I could look for the appropriate resources.

I didn't get there.  While I have a few concrete plans, I'm far behind where I want to be in my plans.

I did make it to the sale, however, and it was a wonderful experience! 

Not only were people selling curriculum for prices far below what I've heard (FIAR for $5, anyone?  TT for $20?) but there were quality books to go along with all of it.  

I saw Christian novels for kids.  I saw nonfiction history and science books.  I saw mystery books, cookbooks, and how-to books.  I found American Girl books for twenty-five cents each and a whole box full of Encyclopedia Brown that someone had marked 'free.'  I even found the math book I wanted to use for My Little Man for only $5!

It was a wonderful morning.

After nearly two hours of digging through boxes of books, I left with two big tote bags overflowing with books of all kinds - and two boxes of plaster of paris stacked on top of that.  I'm not sure what we'll use that for exactly yet, but I know it will come in handy.

We spent some time 'out' in the big urban sprawl for Father's Day after that, and the kids were as good as gold.


They had their noses buried in book after book every minute we were in the car, eagerly reading about the Sioux and Josefina and all sorts of other things.

They're excited to get started for next school year, and although I don't have all of my plans in place, I'm excited again, too.  I love the resources that are available and how a 'new' book can inspire all sorts of ideas.

It's going to be a great year.

Some other great places to find inexpensive books are:
  • yard sales
  • thrift stores
  • library sales
  • public school sales
  • public school employees -they often know when used books are being discarded!
Where do you go for your school resources?  Have you started collecting them?

Last week Nancy at There Is Grace shared a review of the recent animated movie Epic.  I love that this movie demonstrates strong moral character, especially doing what's right even when it's had.  We need more of those kinds of movies! To find out more, visit There Is Grace - Nancy, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks

If you have a post about an encouraging activity, project, or trip that you've taken, please link up below and add a link back to this post.  Either way, please read on to find out more about a fun activity that we enjoy here in our nest, and be sure to hop over to Where He Leads, We Follow to check out Stephanie's  Inspiring Wednesday post, too. 

See The Light June Special

*This post contains my affiliate links for See The Light, which means that your clicking on these links helps to support this blog.  I work as an affiliate for this company because I love their products and enjoy sharing quality work with others.  :-)

See the Light, the awesome Christian art company that I reviewed recently, has specials every month.  This month's special is for Shipwrecked, based on Acts 27's account of Paul's courageous journey.  It includes a Bible and art lesson for only $12.50 (down from $14.99) and includes free shipping.  When purchasing, just use the code JUNE.  You can also download free copywork printables from their site - this month only!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"The Bare Naked Truth" by Bekah Hamrick Martin

The Truth About Sex and Waiting . . . Uncovered Purity.

Sex. Boys. Waiting. There's something about those words that makes everything complex in a heartbeat, and raises more questions than answers. Is there something wrong with me if I don't kiss a boy after a date? Or am I doomed if I DID? What if waiting is just a one-way trip to life as a crazy cat woman? And what if I tend to, um, think about a certain boy in a certain way? It seems that the lady at church and your friends have two very different opinions on the subject. And 'Your Budding Womanhood: Staying a Beautiful Flower for Jesus' just isn't cutting it. Bekah Hamrick Martin knows the waiting game isn't easy or straight-forward. In The Bare Naked Truth, she lays everything on the table---including some embarrassing moments---as she explores the honest, naked truth behind what God means by purity. With additional entries from popular authors, you'll see the bare naked approach to waiting isn't always easy, but it's worth the risk.

I like this book.  Martin writes in a style that's fun and easy to read, but more importantly, she's providing valuable information in a way that young women will relate to.  The narrative doesn't sound like your crazy school nurse or your with-an-agenda mother coming at you, but instead like a trusted friend or mentor, someone who has been there and done that and is ready to help you get a handle on this subject.

Martin shares many testimonies from other authors and friends throughout the book.  Some share their story about why staying pure has worked for them - and others share why they wish they had.  Either way, these stories help the reader understand the physical, emotional, and mental consequences of going too far before marriage.  I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of teens may know the what-goes-where, but they don't know or understand the other ramifications - and Martin does a great job of explaining them in funny and real ways here.

One of my favorite elements of this book is the funny four-question quiz that's found at the end of each chapter.  Totally un-scientific, it's meant to help girls understand their own way of reacting to situations so that they can relate this to staying pure.  The quizzes read like something out of a crazy check-out line teen quiz but get the point across with Martin's usual blunt humor.

As much as I liked this book, there was one chapter which caused a bit of concern.  Not because the 'stay pure' message was garbled, but because Martin claims that there's no Biblical basis for staying pure in this one particular area (but that it's a good idea, anyway).  I imagine that this particular chapter is one in which you'll tread carefully, anyway - but be sure to read the book so that you can be prepared for questions when you get there.  In case that's not as clear as mud and you want to know exactly WHICH chapter I'm talking about, feel free to email me at for more information.  This is a family-friendly site.  :-)

I read lots of books.  Some go immediately onto a shelf - or a stack or under the couch - while others, though I enjoy, find new homes.  (There's only so much room under the couch, you know?)  The Bare Naked Truth has been relocated to a high-up shelf for the next few years, until my Big Helper is just a little bit bigger, at which time I'll pull it down for us to read together.  The information in this book is too important to miss, and I'm happy to have such a fun resource to read with her.

Click here to read other reviews in this blog hop or go here to purchase your own copy now.

Bekah Hamrick Martin was born in Savannah, Georgia, in an event which her brother keeps reminding her was completely unnecessary. She spent the better part of her high school years vacationing on the north end of her mattress due to an illness, where she developed a deep taste for chocolate and sarcasm. Today Bekah shares with teens about tough times, healing, and surviving their high school years---no matter where they spend them.

Learn more about Bekah on her website: 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Are You Making the Most of SwagBucks Yet?

Do you use SwagBucks yet?  This is a great way to rack up some extra cash, Amazon points, or PayPal money.  It's a simple 'Net-based rewards program that will earn you points - and thus moolah - for doing what you already do.  Here's a tip for upping your earning potential:

Outside of all the usual ways to earn Swag Bucks, there are some easy to grab points sitting out there that you may not even realize are available. For example, have you completed your user profile? If not, you're missing out on easy Swag Bucks for things like uploading a profile picture. You'll know if you still have some info to fill out if you go to your Swagbucks homepage and see an indicator - either on the right or in the middle of the page letting you know that you can earn some Swag Bucks for finishing up.The best part is that having your profile completed helps Swagbucks bring you more relevant content so you can earn even more Swagbucks!  If you don't HAVE a Swagbucks account, you can earn for setting yours up! Get rewarded for the things you do online starting today by clicking this link to sign up. I've already gotten a vacuum, a scooter, and mp3 player, and lots more with my Swag Bucks, and you can too!

“Stealing the Preacher” Kindle Fire Giveaway and Author Chat Party {6/18} with Karen Witemeyer!

Karen Witemeyer is "kindling" the excitement for Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House) with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at her June 18th Facebook Author Chat Party!


  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at 4pm on June 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Stealing the Preacher" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 18th. Connect with Karen for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Karen will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Stealing the Preacher and join Karen on the evening of June 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

GratiTuesday - A Bittersweet Goodbye

Today is a bittersweet day in the life of our church.

Our pastor, who has been serving here faithfully for the past seven years, is moving away today to plant a new church on the coast.

On Sunday we toasted and roasted him at a potluck held in his honor after the services.  Last night people came together to load the moving truck and various other vehicles that will be caravan-ing away today.

It's hard to see this family leave.

Our kids consider their four children to be their best friends.  They play together at church events and as often as possible in between.  They're in book club together.  

Their ten-year-old offered to lend me his Jules Verne-type books when we began to homeschool because he loved them so much and he thought we would, too.

That same ten-year-old and his siblings were part of the reason that we were initially attracted to homeschooling.  At every church event they would greet us kindly and carry on great conversations, looking us in the eye the entire time.  Few other children their ages seem able to do the same.

Our pastor's wife is a great example of peaceful parenting.  I've never seen anyone so calm and relaxed about life in general.  If I had on my plate what she did, I'd be a jittery mess, but her even demeanor helped me to trust and let go.  I've enjoyed talking over educational dilemmas with her and watching our children be creative together.

Our pastor himself, well, he's another story.  He's a high energy, laid-back-but-let's-go-hard kind of guy.  He's not afraid to lay it all on the line and will take the hard stances, even as you're not always sure where he himself falls on various issues.  He challenges you to know why you believe what you believe and to go back to the Bible basics all at the same time.  He accepts you for who you are and where you are on your faith journey and is good with that. 

Best of all, he's willing to follow Jesus even when he doesn't know where he's going - and that's what the whole family is doing today.  They're purchasing a house in a new town and planting a church for those who are currently on the fringe or have been hurt by a church or haven't found a place where they fit or just plain have questions and doubts.

So we're sad today.  Sad because our good friends are leaving.  Sad because the tree fort is missing the four kids who who so recently built it and climbed all over it.  Sad because we won't be able to run and play with them after church and school events.  Sad because we won't see any more zany games with no point or tie dye shirts at every turn.

But we're happy, too.  They're leaving because they're following Jesus, and there's no better place to be than smack dab in the center of God's plan.  We know that He's moving them for a reason, and that the whole family will be able to do big and wonderful things in His name in their new coastal home.  They'll make new friends, draw in others, and show all sorts of new people the amazing love of Jesus.

So while it's a sad day for our church, it's also a day to celebrate.  Our pastor is putting his money - and his family and his everything - where is mouth is.

That's a reason to celebrate.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - June 17, 2013


After weeks and weeks of having a scheduled activity nearly every day - or some other over-the-top something happening like double chicken pox and a sinus infection that just won't quit - we have THREE DAYS this week with nothing planned.  I'm super excited about that.  

Last week we ate all sorts of strange and hurriedly put together things.  i'm hoping to avoid that this week - and to try some fun, new recipes.  If you have some to share, I'd love to check them out!  Leave a link in the comment section below, please!

In the meantime, here's the tentative plan:


Cinnamon Almond Granola & fruit
-Steal-Good Pumpkin Bread & fruit
- Skinny Chocolate Chip Scones
- Breakfast wraps

- Italian roast beef sandwiches with salad and chips
- Grilled fish, baked potatoes, salad
- Slow cooker beef & broccoli over rice, egg rolls
- Spicy Sausage Pasta, Salad

Cheesesteak-Stuffed Peppers, carrot sticks, applesauce
- Leftovers
- Dinner at church

If there's time in there, I'd like to make some homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars and some chocolate bar cookies.

There's the plan!  What's yours??

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Denise Hunter’s “Barefoot Summer” Summer Sun Giveaway!

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway. The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa
Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Barefoot Summer" by Denise Hunter

Madison's heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother's tragic drowning, Madison has struggled with her ability to trust God--or anyone else, for that matter. It was her brother's dream to win the annual River Sail Regatta in their small harbor town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. And Madison's determined to honor his legacy by making his dream her own. Maybe then she can finally find closure.

But learning to sail means learning to swim. And her instructor is Beckett O'Reilly, a man who already has two strikes against him in Madison's eyes. Being on the water terrifies Madison. But Beckett's calming presence and unwavering confidence eases her fear. And as much as she'd like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying.

As her feelings for him grow, a fledging faith begins to take root in her soul, as well. With Beckett, Madison feels alive for the first time in years--carefree and confident she can win the regatta, maybe even find love.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison's faith. Will their love survive summer's challenge? And will achieving her brother's dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks? 

Barefoot Summer will sail past your springtime reads and pull you into summer drama.    With an electric cast of characters, each haunted by a past beyond his or her control, you won't be able to put it down.  I couldn't.  I finished it in a single afternoon.

There were several things that kept pulling me back to this book each time I was interrupted.  First, I truly couldn't wait to find out what happened to Madison's brother.  It was obvious that there was more to the story than the author was sharing with us, and she excels at drawing out the suspense.

Secondly, Beckett and Madison were truly hurting, and they were upstanding, honorable people.  That's a combination I can't refuse, especially when someone has overcome the obstacles that Beckett has.  I always want to know more about a knight in shining armor.

Lastly, there were some fascinating loose ends in this story - rabbit trails with the extraneous characters, you might say.  For example, why exactly did Madison's sister run away, and why won't she give anyone details about her new life?  I smell another story brewing here!

While Barefoot Summer is about a summer, it's certainly not your typical lighthearted beach romance.  It's much, much more - but with a hero and heroine that you'll gladly take along to the beach.

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Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! 

Learn more about Denise at

I received a free copy of Barefoot Summer from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.