Monday, April 30, 2012

Farm Fresh Southern Cooking by Tammy Algood

Thomas Nelson (April 17, 2012) 280 pages

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I hate to say that when it comes to my cooking, the recipes have to be absurdly easy! I need my recipes to have plain old basic, inexpensive ingredients that I keep in the pantry or refrigerator/freezer on a regular basis. I don't want to have to buy a bunch of ingredients that I will only use in a single recipe, and then the rest will waste. If I was more organized, I would find more recipes to use those ingredients up, but I don't. Cooking is usually not my favorite thing to do(although I do like it in spells), so I like to keep it quick and easy. I tell you all of that just so you get an idea of whether or not YOU would like this cookbook. I honestly believe that there are PLENTY of people that would greatly enjoy it!

I really want to experiment with some of the recipes throughout Farm Fresh Southern Cooking: Straight from the Garden to Your Dinner Table and see how they will do with some substitutions. I've had pretty good luck with substitutions in the past, but I've also had horrible luck, too! I had a very difficult time trying to find recipes that I would even want to make. I kept running up on ingredients like peppercorns, wine, orange liqueur, sorghum syrup, and plenty of other things that I've either never heard of or just don't keep in my house. I know some of you are probably thinking I'm pretty sad right now! ;) Again, I like to keep things simple!

There's pictures throughout, but not with every recipe. A good bit of the pictures are simply pictures of vegetables or fruit as decoration for the pages. That's not a complaint! I very much liked the pictures.

Overall, I'd say if you like to experiment a good bit with your cooking, give this one a try. I am in no way trying to give this one a bad review! If I was more experimental, I'm guessing my thoughts would be way more excited about it. It has great reviews from what I've seen.

*Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

God Helps Me Bible by Juliet David

Candle Books (March 1, 2012) 104 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Grasshopper's obsession for the past month or so has been cows. When I first tried to read to the boys from the God Helps Me Bible, Grasshopper just couldn't concentrate without seeing some cows. I flipped through once, and didn't see any. He was quite persistent I keep looking, so I tried again. There is INDEED cows in this book! (page 16, Joseph's dream) For that factor alone, this book is a winner with Grasshopper. ;)

As far as Bible storybooks go, this one isn't the most detailed. It's great for a young audience. It works out perfect for the boys right now. I try to keep different Bible storybooks in different parts of the house, so there's always one handy. They do better with the simpler ones for now. I still read from the more detailed ones, but more often than not, those stories don't get finished.

In the God Helps Me Bible, there are 25 stories. They are VERY short. Each story takes up 4 pages. 2 pages are filled with one big picture. The other two pages are only halfway filled with words(big lettering) and a little picture at the bottom of those pages. I love that it's spiral bound! I'm always a little hesitate when it comes to spiral bound, just because they don't hold up very well. As far as spiral bound goes, though, this one is VERY sturdy! It's great for hands-free reading.

Overall, I like it. It's perfect for those little ones with a short attention span. I never could find an age category for it, but I'd say 1-3 is probably the target group.

*A huge thanks to Kregel Publications for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

East by Edith Pattou(Classic Double Reading Challenge)

The Classic Double Reading Challenge is hosted by One Librarian's Book Reviews

HERE is my first "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" post.

My Rating for East: 5/5 stars

My thoughts:

LOVED IT! I did NOT want to put it down, but at 500 pages, I was forced to occasionally.

East is very loosely based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon(read HERE). The author has a very thin outline of the original, but she fills in most of the details herself. This is definitely how I prefer my fairy tale re-tellings! I especially love how she portrays the trolls. She added her own little twist on most of the characters.

When I first started reading it, I was very briefly hesitate about liking the writing style. The chapters alternate between Rose, Neddy(her brother), Rose's Father, The Troll Queen, and the White Bear. It almost came off like a reality show interview initially. Don't let that turn you off, though, because after a few chapters, I quickly realized how much I liked this method. I enjoyed getting the different viewpoints of what was happening, especially with The Troll Queen! I think it was an amazing way to fill in all the little extra details I otherwise wouldn't have known.

East is most definitely going on my keeper shelf!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Girl in Blue by P.G. Wodehouse(April Book Club)

Reading to Know - Book Club

My Rating 3/5 stars (Fun!)

My Thoughts:

I had intended on treating this month as somewhat of a "Wodehouse Challenge". I discovered that Wodehouse's writing is kind of slow reading for me. I couldn't just sit and devour the story. I DID enjoy it, though, and I had fun reading The Girl in Blue. It kind of surprised me that I had a hard time getting into it. I love many of the actors considered to have a dry, British humor(Hugh Laurie, Ricky Gervais, for example), so I had no doubt I would love these books, even though it was my first attempt at reading that type of humor. When I first started reading, I was afraid I was going to have to say I wasn't a Wodehouse fan. It was going painfully slow for me. It wasn't until a nice, quiet trip to the park that I was able to immerse myself into the story enough to enjoy it.

I think, in general, I simply prefer the female writing voice. There are exceptions! (Trenton Lee Stewart, for example) I know some of you will probably want to smack me upside the head for saying this, but even though I don't have any plans to pick up any more Wodehouse books anytime soon, I do have plans to watch the T.V. series, Jeeves & Wooster. I think I would really enjoy it.

Just to give you a taste of the humor, here are a few fun quotes:

Crispin uttered a laugh of the variety usually called mirthless, and Willoughby regarded him with some concern.
'Your asthma bothering you again?'
'I was laughing.'
'Are you sure? It didn't sound like it.'
(page 25)

Jerry collapsed on to the banquette beside her.
Somebody in the vicinity seemed to be playing the trap drums, but investigation told him that it was only his heart beating.
(page 53)

'Hullo, ugly,' said the butler. 'And what might you be wanting?'
'Not any of your impertinence,' was the frigid reply. 'I wish to see Mr Scrop.'
'Does he wish to see you,' said the butler, 'that's the question. All right, go on up and spoil his day. He's in the library.'
(page 65)

'It's gone. I went away for a few days, leaving it on the mantelpiece in my study, and when I got back it wasn't there.'
'Have you looked everywhere?'
This query, like the previous one, seemed to give offence.
'Don't talk as if I mislaid my spectacles!'
'Did you say you had mislaid your spectacles?'
'No, I did not say I had mislaid my spectacles.'
'I'm always mislaying my spectacles.'
'Curse your spectacles!'
'Yes, Bill.'
(page 75)


There's quite a few mild words of profanity scattered throughout(various forms of da**, bas****, a**, he**)(God's name is used in vain pretty often....Good G**, etc)

*I strongly encourage you to go HERE and read more thoughts on Wodehouse!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Thomas Nelson (April 10, 2012) 320 pages

Description from Amazon:

When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.

Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.

Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried Brad and Darlene through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.

While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of the students starts paying more attention to Darlene than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time.

If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now.

Experience a family's triumph over lies, betrayal, and loss while still clinging to the One who matters most.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars(I really liked it)

Beth Wiseman has gained a great reputation in the Amish book world. Need You Now is her first publication outside of the Amish genre, and it was also my fist time to read her works.

This book took me completely by surprise! If you're looking for a light read, don't pick up this one! It deals with hard topics such as adultery, cutting, drinking, autism, and death. I wasn't expecting a light read when I picked it up, but Beth just blew me away with all the difficult subjects she packed into this story. It never seemed forced, and flowed very well.

I'd say that Need You Now is mostly a marriage story. It shows just how difficult marriage is, no matter how good a couple has it. I hate reading stories that portray a perfect marriage, with perfect people! It just doesn't exist. It's hard! When I first started reading Need You Now, I thought that is what I was going to get, but Wiseman did an awesome job of capturing a difficult stage of marriage. Even though I do think it's mostly an adult story, the topic of cutting makes it a great read for teens, too. This is simply one amazingly emotional book!

I very much enjoyed reading Need You Now, and I might just have to pick up some of Beth's Amish books now.

*Thanks to B&B Media for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

Friday's Fave Five #9

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Living to Tell the Story. It's a great way for me to stay on the positive side, and remember both the big and little blessings in life.

1. It's bittersweet to see those birthdays come and go, but I'm glad Firefly's party is done. It took SO much preparation, and still ended up being the most unorganized mess I've ever seen. That's okay, though! I think it MAY have been our last birthday party of that size. I think we've decided to keep the next ones more for just us. I think we'll enjoy it more and it will be less stressful AND less expensive!

2. Jonathan made some cake batter ice cream for the party and it was DELICIOUS!

3. No more formula for Firefly AND a "big boy" seat!

We went to formula exclusively at about 5 months, and I was happy to see that day! Formula was so much easier. Now it's even easier to pour that whole milk in a bottle or sippy cup and be done with it! Once again, it's bittersweet seeing our babies grow up, but when certain chores get a bit easier, I can't help but rejoice. I did learn on Thursday that the "big boy" seat does make things harder when I have to wake a sleeping baby to get out somewhere, though.

4. We all went to the zoo with my parents on Tuesday. (yay for half-price day!) Grasshopper had so much fun. He actually understood what he was looking at this time, and he got to ride the train, which was the highlight of his day.

5. My "blue" rose bush(it's actually lavender in color) has never really did that well. A few days ago, a rose actually bloomed out quite pretty. That night the rain tore it apart. I do have hope that there will be more! Earlier today I noticed my orange rose bush has a bloom that's opened, and it's pretty, too. :) I just don't have a picture of it yet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's on My Nightstand- May

What's On Your Nightstand

Since last month's post, I've read:

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer(I'd actually read this one last month, but posted my thoughts this month)

The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine(audio)

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart(I haven't posted thoughts yet, but I LOVED it! The whole set was here when we arrived home today. YAY!).

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman(I haven't posted thoughts on this one, either)

My only "Did Not Finish" was:

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris-The profanity was horrible and it was too creepy for my tastes.

I'm currently working on:

The Girl in Blue by P.G. Wodehouse

East by Edith Pattou

This month I plan on reading:

(I'm having to roll over a couple of books from last month).

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss(Oh, how I need this one! I've read a little bit in it already)

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

To Die For by Sandra Byrd(This will be a re-read in anticipation of The Secret Keeper, which is releasing soon. I'm very excited for it!)

The rest of the month, I want to just wing it, so I'll be picking from my pile. Hopefully, I'll get to more fairy tales, because I'm enjoying those more than anything at the moment. This one has really been calling my name, too.

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

I participated in a book swap last month, so I have several books I'd love to read!

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

Zondervan (April 24, 2012) 320 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars (Such a FUN read!)

My Thoughts:

Harriet Beamer is 72 years old, and living all alone since her dear husband, Max, passed away. Let's not forget about her dog, Humphrey, though. She loves spoiling him to pieces by giving him glazed donuts(never jelly filled). When she falls from a chair and hurts her ankle, she makes a bet with her daughter-in-law, Prudence, that it isn't broken. If she loses? She moves across the country to live with her son, Henry, and Prudence. When Harriet finds out that she will indeed be moving across the country, she decides to do it her own way, taking her own sweet time, by taking public transportation the whole trip. Along the way she meets many interesting people and discovers a few things about herself.

Sunday I was all alone with the boys and I was sick. I stayed on the couch as much as I could with two little ones. Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus was exactly the kind of read I needed at the time! It was quick, fun, humorous, and just plain sweet. I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters. I didn't necessarily agree with all the beliefs that were introduced throughout the book, but that's okay. There's different kinds of people out there with different beliefs.

Harriet Beamer turned out to be quite the quirky little lady, with her obsession of salt and pepper shakers. I hope I get to read more about her in the future! If you're looking for a fun read with characters that are different from the average Christian Fiction these days, I don't hesitate recommending Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus. Joyce has very unique writing style!

*I was provided a review copy through Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Harriet Beamer has her own blog, which you can visit HERE. (Very cute)!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Fave Five #8: Special Firefly Edition

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Living to Tell the Story.

Today is my little Firefly's 1st birthday. We have been SO incredibly blessed with his life this past year. This week I'm going to list a few of my favorite things about him.

1. He's such a little clown!

He loves to make us all laugh, but especially his big brother. If he discovers something that does gets laughing out of Grasshopper, he keeps it up. It wasn't until this past Sunday that he realized when he walks, he gets lots of laughs, so he finally started walking. He still prefers crawling, but with lots of encouragement and laughing, he will walk.

2. His blue eyes.

Jonathan has dark hair and dark hazel eyes, and I also have dark hair and hazel eyes. Grasshopper got the dark curly hair and pure brown eyes. Imagine our surprise when Firefly kept his blue eyes! We kept expecting them to change, and finally asked our pediatrician about it. Those baby blues are keepers....hopefully!

3. His precious laugh.

I love the way he crinkles up his nose, and kind of snorts/sniffs as he laughs. If he's holding on to something, he will throw his head back and laugh hysterically. It always makes me laugh in return.

4. His fuzzy, barely there, blond hair.

His hair is taking it's sweet time, and that's okay. It's just barely long enough to stick up a little after a bath or nap, and it always makes me smile.

5. Crossing his ankles.

Whenever he's in the highchair eating, he has to cross his legs at the ankles. Whenever they're not crossing, he's constantly moving them about. This is a trait that both my boys have taken after me, much to Jonathan's horror.

Bonus: Oh, how he loves his big brother! He's always watched him like a hawk

I'm sure I don't have to tell you there's plenty more that I adore about both my boys!

Tomorrow, we celebrate with a "Spring" themed family/friends birthday party. It has been one BUSY week for this exhausted momma, so next week I hope to tell you we had a very relaxing week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012) 352 pages

Description from Amazon:

Four brides. One Dress.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can't she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been "redeemed."

Charlotte's search for the gown's history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My Rating: 5/5 stars(I really liked it! Beautiful story!)

My Thoughts:

I knew I was in for a great read. I've already saw quite a few 5 star "gushing" review from my fellow bloggers, so my expectations going into The Wedding Dress were very high. Way too often, high expectations only lead to disappointment, but that is definitely not the case with this story. It was beautiful!

When I first started reading this book, I had no idea that it was set in Alabama. When I discovered that it was, it just made my day! It's not very often that authors write a book set in that lovely state. ;) (A HUGE thanks for that, Rachel!) Honestly, that factor didn't sway my opinion, though. I would have loved the story no matter what state it took place in.

The Wedding Dress is a magnificent story fill with lovable characters and 4 incredible stories. It's most definitely keeper material! If you are a Christian Romance fan, this is a MUST read!

*I was provided a review copy from Thomas Nelson Publishers via Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion.

About Rachel:

Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner Sweet Caroline, and RITA Finalist Love Starts With Elle, and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, The Songbird Novels.

She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets.

Rachel earned a degree in Journalism form Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor. Visit her web site at to reader her blog, and to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What is "true" beauty? Join the conversation at Rachel's Author
Chat Party Event Page
. On the eventing of 4/19 we'll gather to talk about inner
and outer beauty and share moments of beauty in our lives.

In the meantime, celebrate with Rachel by entering her True Beauty

One "beautiful" winner will receive:

  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Treat yourself to a spa day or weekend
  • The Wedding Dress (by Rachel Hauck)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends
4/18/12. Winner will be announced at Rachel's "True Beuaty" Author Chat Facebook Party on
. Rachel will be hosting an evening of beauty (inner/outer) chat, fun trivia,
laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some
GREAT prizes:

gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of
the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Rachel
via Skype.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of The Wedding Dress and join
Rachel on the evening of April 19th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
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 19th!

Friday's Fave Five #7

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Living to Tell the Story. It's a great way for me to stay on the positive side, and remember both the big and little blessings in life.

1. No growth hormones for now.

Grasshopper had to go back to Children's a couple of weeks ago for more tests. We got those results back this week, and the hormone they were looking at was actually on the low side of normal. So, we continue with a high calorie diet for now. If things keep going the way they are, we have no doubt he will eventually need them. We're in no hurry, though. He's 3 1/2 and only 21 pounds, 32 inches tall. He's not growing much! We pack calories in his food, so there's nothing else we can do. We also know that if God wants to give him a growth spurt, He will, and then Grasshopper won't need those growth hormones. :) Even when he was in the NICU, growth was one of his biggest issues.

2. My new glasses.

I've worn contacts for years, and still HIGHLY prefer them. My allergies have been HORRIBLE lately, though, and they go straight to my eyes. I feel like they're being pushed out of my head. Most the time, I just can't bear to have the contacts in my eyes while dealing with the allergies. So, it was WAY past time for my glasses to get renewed. As much as a prefer my contacts, my glasses have been wonderful the past couple of months!

3. Allergy medicine!

My allergies could be MUCH worse without these wonderful pills. :)

4. To Do List

I've let little things accumulate on my to-do list for too long. This week I started marking several of those things off. One of my favorites was to mark off clearing out e-mails from one of my addresses(I have two). I won't even tell you how ridiculous it had gotten. It feels SO incredibly great to have them cleared out and organized!

5. This peanut butter cookie recipe!

Jonathan likes his cookies to taste like sugar and peanut butter mixed together. I like mine to have a flour texture. We've never agreed on peanut butter cookies until this recipe. It is AWESOME!