Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Goodbye(of Sorts) + Recipes = A Long Post

It's time for me to take a step back from blogging. At this point, I feel it's a permanent decision, but I'll re-evaluate in a few months and see where I am. Honestly, I'm not in a place right now to be making any type of permanent decision. It has been something I've been considering for quite awhile, but when God gave us a surprising(but welcome) change around here, I felt an extra hard push in this direction. The whole book blogging process takes such a HUGE chunk of time. For me, it's hard to keep my priorities straight while blogging.

Since I do feel that books and reading are really important, I'll still be reading, just more casually. And, I'll still be watching out for your book recommendations! I greatly value those. Not to mention, I've grown fond of several of you, so I want to keep up with y'all. :) I won't be completely disappearing.

****I do still have some book reviews that I've committed to. Lord willing, I have every intention of posting those when they are due.

-Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer(August)
-The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer(August/September)
-When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer(September/October)
-The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher(I've finished this one, just waiting on post date to be assigned)
-Sandwich, with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips(October 5th)
-Be the Mom: Overcome Attitude Traps and Enjoy Your Kids by Tracey Lanter Eyster(August)
-Over the Edge by Mary Connealy(not sure when this one will go up, probably September/October)
-30 Days in the Land With Jesus by Charles H. Dyer(August/September)

I may have missed one or two, but those are the only posts I have planned.****

I'm also slowly working on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for my pick during August for the Bookclub. I'm mostly enjoying it, with a bit of mixed feelings. I'm just trying really hard to knock out all review books, so it's taking me longer than I'd like to finish it. (I'm greatly looking forward to each and every one of my review books, so when I say I'm trying to knock them out of the way, it's not in any way negative towards them.

I won't be finishing up with any challenges, at least any time soon. I don't think anyone will hold it against me. ;)

If you'd like to see what I'm reading, feel free to friend me at Goodreads. I still plan on keeping record of what I've read that way. It will just be much shorter "reviews". Also, I do plan on occasionally reading and reviewing books through the Amazon Vine program. I'm not required to blog about those books. For me, Amazon and Goodreads are the two biggest places I go when looking for reviews for a specific book, anyway.

I've greatly enjoyed my blogging adventure and meeting all of you. I appreciate those of you who have stuck with me! I also appreciate all the wonderful authors and publishers out there who have graciously let me read their books. I've added quite a few favorite authors to my reading list, so from now on, I'll have to rely on giveaways and Swagbucks gift-cards!

Since a few of you mentioned interest in these recipes, I'll leave you with those.


**************************************





Chocolate Cobbler

2 1/2 cups sugar(I cut this down a bit....1 3/4 cups usually)
2 T cocoa
1 T flour
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups milk(original recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, but I use skim milk)

Mix the dry ingredients in a pan. Then add the wet ingredients, and bring to a boil. Stir often!

Crust

2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cups oil
1/3 cups cold water

Mix and divide in 1/2. Roll 1/2 the mixture thin and cut into strips. Drop chunks of the strips into chocolate mixture and cook until "dumplings" are tender(less than a minute on my version). Stir often. Pour chocolate mixture and boiled dumplings in a greased pan(I use cooking spray). Roll the rest of the dough thin and cut into strips. Criss cross over the top. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25 minutes @ 400 degrees.

I call mine the lazy version. Instead of rolling the dough, I just mash it flat in my hand and tear off chunks. I do the same for the topping. I also don't use a sugar topping, since it's sweet enough as it is.

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It's probably my favorite dessert as far as ones that I make.


***********************************






(This was my first attempt at homemade hamburger buns. Jonathan really like them, but I'd like to experiment a little more).


Bean Burger Recipe

15 ounces cooked beans(we've used canned and dried...any are fine)
1 chopped small onion
1 T ketchup
1 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. Dale's sauce(it actually calls for Worcheshire sauce(That's not spelled right, I'm sure), but that's not vegetarian, so we substitute)
3 T bread crumbs or cracker crumbs(I tried substituting rice here, but that doesn't work well)
1 egg(or use 1 T flax seed + 3 T water)
2-3 T your choice of seasonings

As far as the beans, your possibilities are endless. We've used all kinds of beans to make these. My favorites are black beans and lentils, my least favorite is kidney beans. The same is true with seasoning. You can go with chili seasoning for a chili burger, garlic, salt, pepper, etc. My favorite is cumin! This recipe is definitely very basic. You can do all kinds of things with it!

Combine the ingredients. If you want to cook these like burgers, just scoop out a little, roll, and mash flat, just like regular hamburger meat. Either fry or bake. You can also cook this meatloaf style, or scoop them into a muffin pan. We've really did all kinds of things with them. Unfortunately, I don't have a set time if you choose to bake. That's always experimental. We do cook at 400 degrees, though. We almost always just use the griddle, and make enough to put leftovers in the refrigerator for lunch the next couple of days.

They're very good AND thrifty!

*This one was given to me by a lady I worked with many years ago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pibbin the Small and The Story Shell by Gloria Repp


(My cover for Pibbin the Small is different. The artwork matches(same style) the one for The Story Shell. I couldn't seem to locate a picture, though).



My Thoughts:

Pibbin the Small: A Tale of Friendship Bog is about a small frog, named Pibbin. When his turtle friend, Sheera, is hurt, he must find the courage to make a trip to get the medicine Sheera needs to save her leg. First, he has to find a "pal" that is just right. There's a bit of mystery and adventure along the way.

In The Story Shell, Pibbin has to solve the mystery of who has taken a "story shell" that is needed for an upcoming party. His "pal" is missing, though. There's even more mystery and adventure in this one.

There's so much to love about these books!

I love that they are great for beginning read-aloud chapter books(both for the reader and the listener). I'm not a natural when it comes to reading aloud. I know as my boys get older, they'll most likely get more picky with reading aloud, so I practice when I can. ;) I'm also attempting to challenge Grasshopper's reading a bit to help him focus a bit more. He didn't sit attentively while I read, but I still read parts to him. (It was slow, though, so for the sake of reviewing, I read to myself, too). He really enjoyed the pictures! These are marketed for ages 2-8. I'd say right in the middle is the perfect target group.

There's also lots of discussion openings for the slightly older reader. For example, at the beginning of Pibbin the Small, Pibbin thinks that Sheera has died. He feels the need to remember good times that him and Sheera had. There's also several times that Pibbin wishes he could do things the other frogs could do, but he's told to use what he's got(a great lesson for me, too).

There's lots of nature education sprinkled throughout the stories. I also thought the "buggy" food was a really cute touch. There's fried termites, spicy spider dip, dried beetle bars, and many more.

Last, but not least, there's the pictures. I thought they were pretty awesome. Other than the covers, all the pictures are black and white, but I was really impressed with them.

If you and your children enjoy nature stories, with a bit of adventure, definitely give these a try.

If you would like to read a sample chapter from each of these books, just go HERE.

*I was provided a review copy of these books from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tales of Goldstone Wood Series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


I've mentioned the Tales of Goldstone Wood series several times before, and it really is one of my favorite series ever. I'm pretty positive that I read that Anne didn't intend for there to be a series. Heartless was a standalone. With Moonblood being my favorite addition so far, and with expectations of liking Starflower even more, I'm glad it was turned into a series! The Tales of Goldstone Wood series is fairytale writing at its best!

My favorite character from the series(and one of my favorite characters, period) is Eanrin. He's completely won me over! He's incredibly arrogant, but there's a heart of gold underneath. I think it's funny that I enjoy fictional arrogant male characters, as long as there is a heart of gold, but arrogant people in real life are my biggest pet peeve! Eanrin is completely blind in both eyes, and he spends most of his time as a cat. That does sound a little odd, but believe me, it works!

As I've also mentioned before, you do want to read these in order.

Heartless

Veiled Rose

Moonblood

Starflower

This one hasn't been released yet, but Lord willing, I plan on pre-ordering it. It will expand on Eanrin's life, so I'm greatly looking forward to it.

Stengl truly has a talent for writing brilliant stories, so I definitely recommend giving them a chance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer of Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker


Balzer + Bray (April 24, 2012) 288 pages

My Thoughts:

Stella is a 12 year old girl living with her aunt, Louise. Her mother is off "finding herself", and doesn't have time to raise her little girl. Living with them, as a foster child, is Angel. She seems angry at the world, and doesn't give Stella the time of day. When tragedy hits, the girls have to discover whether or not they can work together as a team.

I completely fell in love with Pennypacker's writing style in Summer of the Gypsy Moths. I love that she created such quirky characters and that she gave them intelligent, respectful voices. The descriptions were wonderfully vivid. I could smell the ocean, and the grilling food. I could feel their rumbling stomachs. I even loved hearing about the girls teaching/learning how to clean!

I found it to be a beautiful story. Surprisingly(you'll see why in a minute), this has became one of my favorite "middle grade" reads. Despite the serious overall tone, I found myself snickering quite a bit. I'm still trying to decide if I should feel bad for that.

I have to mention the cover, too. It fits AMAZINGLY with the story. I just love it!


*MAY cause you concern: I can't warn you without

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!


A big part of the storyline involves a dead body. I won't lie to you. It gets a little gross at times and one part(very tiny) gets a bit creepy. Aunt Louise dies pretty close to the beginning. To prevent getting put in the foster care system, the girls bury the body in their backyard, but not until a couple of days later. It's summer. I'll let you fill in the blanks there.

The girls' actions were never condoned. The girls end up being truly sorry for their choices. They lie a great deal in order to keep their secret, but again, it wasn't condoned.

END SPOILERS!!!!

There's also a discussion guide for the book HERE.


**I was provided a review copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade



Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2012) 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I'm going to let you know right up front that I'd definitely list My Stubborn Heart as an "edgy" Christian romance. I've came to realize just how judgemental I sound in my reviews lately, so I'm trying REALLY hard to watch what I say from now on. That's proving difficult! ;)

Kate loves antiques and peppermint taffies and she looks a little like Audrey Hepburn. She's been saving herself for her future husband. At 31, despite the many prayers, she's became a little discouraged that God hasn't sent her the man she's been waiting for. While helping her grandmother over the summer, she meets Matt.

Matt is an ex-hockey player. He lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, and has greatly grieved since. If you like your fictional guys tall, dark, and wounded, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed with Matt.

To be honest, I had a great deal of issues with My Stubborn Heart! Despite those, I really enjoyed the writing. I flew through the book, and I got caught up in the love stories. The older people were cute and humorous, and I had fun reading about everyone, except maybe Velma. She needed a smack upside the head(not literally, y'all)!

Overall, I liked it. If you don't mind "edgy" books, I won't hesitate to recommend this one.


*May cause you concern:

-There's drinking. One guy purposely gets drunk on Jack Daniels and Coke. Another guy drinks a beer while on a date.

-There's a great deal of gambling-An older group of people play poker at someone's house every Friday night.

-There's lots of romantic tension(wanting to kiss, etc). There's one scene involving a guy with his shirt off after running. I'll let you fill in the blanks there. There's never any "sex" scenes, though.

-The word "pi**ed" is used twice.


*I was provided a review copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion AND I won a copy from Jen. (I requested it, but didn't know if I'd get it, because I haven't always and then I ended up winning a copy). So, thanks to both parties. I'm sure my public library would thank you, too. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Top 10 Books That Caught My Attention in June

I know this post is later than normal, but I wanted to get it on up anyway.


The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

I'm hoping to read Little Women this summer. I think this book would be a fun pair-up for the Classic Double Challenge!

Cathy @ Thoughts on Books

*****************************



Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Juju @ Tales of Whimsy

******************************



The Pigeon Pie Mystery: A Novel by Julia Stuart

I still haven't read The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, which was also written by Stuart, but they both look incredibly cute!

******************************



A Promise to Love by Serena Miller

After seeing Serena featured in the latest issue of Christian Woman magazine, I've made it a goal to go back and read all of her work!

******************************




Snow in Summer: Fairest of Them All by Jane Yolen

*****************************




The Saucy Vegetarian by Joanne Stepaniak

I've learned it's easier to eat healthier with a GREAT tasting sauce. I've had a difficult time finding healthy recipes for them, though. The store bought kind is so fattening that it defeats the purpose for me. This book looks very promising!

*****************************




Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon

******************************




Secret Letters by Leah Sceier

******************************





"Mice of the ..." Series by Tim Davis

I'm reading Pibbin the Small: A Tale of Friendship Bog right now(which I'm loving so far), and Tim is the illustrator for that series. I saw that he has several books out, so I'm curious about those, too.

*My Pibbin cover is different from the one it shows at Amazon, by the way.

*****************************



Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen


Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012) 197 pages

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book! I'm almost hesitant to post my thoughts on it, because I'm going to be very vague about certain things.

It took me a little while to get into it. I've been trying various different reading schedules to see what works best for me. My Bible reading time is best for me right before I go to bed. (Bible study is best late afternoon). I tried reading a chapter of this book after my Bible reading, but I finally realized that just wasn't working. When I brought it downstairs and read at leisure, it was amazing how much difference it made. Environment is HUGELY important with reading! :)

I think this quote sums up the whole point of Anything pretty well.

"Now I was wrecked. At some point I started crying, hard. My heart was broken. Every god I had built and stroked and justified fell onto the bathroom floor that night with my tears. The life I was building was crushing before me. I grieved. I grieved the moment on my parents' bed when I had cared more about their opinion than God's quiet voice in me. I grieved the curtains I had pined for. I grieved the control I had given to everyone around me by caring so much about their opinions of me. I grieved the life I had built around a plastic god and a pretend heaven that had only seemed slightly possible. I grieved a life that was spent on myself, the excess I had justified while others suffered. I grieved sitting back and controlling my image rather than pouring out my life and gifts for his name's sake. I grieved that my mind had been spent solving my own simple problems rather than giving my life away for the few years I am here. .......And in that moment what had never occurred to me made perfect sense. So much sense that I was willing...desperately willing...to do anything." (page 77-78)

There's a great deal of things that the author and I disagree about concerning Biblical teaching. There's some things that I can't say are un-Biblical, but they still caused suspicions on my part. I'm going to be vague here, though, because on some issues, it would be plain rude for me to comment specifically. On other issues, I have to be honest, and say that I want to study deeper before even bringing up something that controversial on my blog. Because of this, I've debated whether to even post this. I know! That doesn't help at all! More than anything, I'm putting this book on your radar, I guess. ;P

If you'd like to read their exact beliefs, just go HERE. If you agree with them(the author and her husband), then I can't imagine you being disappointed with the book!

Reading Anything has really opened my mind, though! While I don't agree with all of Jennie's theology, I did still walk away with TONS of thoughts whirling through my brain. It's made me re-think how I use my time. It's made me realize that I need to put my talents to use. She makes it clear that not everyone's "anything" is going to be big like adopting a baby, or moving to Africa, or selling ALL of your belongings and giving it to the poor. It's still easy to get in a mindset that nothing I've done has been good enough, because I haven't adopted or moved to another country. It's scary to think about letting completely go, though, and it really puts all the little "gods" in my life into perspective. The lessons that I took away are worth reading this book, even if I didn't agree with everything that was said.

"The very thought of doing anything demands everything. We have to face out fears. If we believe he is real, if we believe he has an eternal heart, we have to face the fact that a God like that may mess with our temporary comfort and fictional scrapbooks." (page 53)

Jennie's family is simply beautiful! Her journey was amazing to read, and I learned a great deal. If you enjoy books that encourage you to do SOMETHING....anything....then definitely give this one a try. Just in case you couldn't tell, I really did enjoy reading Anything!

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

Together on Tuesdays: Favorite Books and Films




Annette and Dorie from This Simple Home and These Grace Filled Days are hosting Together on Tuesdays for the next several weeks.


*I had planned on a more deatailed post, but due to time, I had to get tough with myself!

Absolute favorite books:(I'm going to assume y'all realize The Bible is a given).




Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Honestly, I could re-read this one right now. LOVE it!



Christy by Catherine Marshall

My grandmother loaned me her copy several years ago, and I loved it. I highly prefer the plain old red hardcover for this book, and I was really excited to find one at a flea market one day. I didn't overly care for the TV show, but it wasn't horrible.

I'm cheating here, but look at the picture at the top of my blog, and you'll see several of my favorites(except those old ones...I just like really old books). They aren't limited to those, though. I've added a few favorites since that picture. She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice is a recent addition.
Married Mom, Solo Parent by Carla Anne Coroy is a must read for any mom. I'm not a solo parent, by the way, even if it feels like it sometimes(That's not a remark towards my husband. He does have to provide for us).

My #1 go to movie:



Pride and Prejudice(2005 version)


I haven't saw the BBC version yet, so I don't know if I like this one over it, but I can pretty much watch this one no matter what mood I'm in.

I've already mentioned recently, but I ADORE comic book movies, too. The Avengers and Thor are two recent additions to my favorites list. White Christmas is also an absolute favorite and Holiday Inn. I love pretty much anything with Audrey Hepburn or Bing Crosby, but I still haven't watched all of their movies. Nanny McPhee and the National Treasure movies. Shrek(2nd is my favorite, 1st is my least). There's so many!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chronicles of Narnia Challenge with A GIVEAWAY!!

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge


My participation is going to be a little different than I originally planned this year. Last year, as I read the books, I kept this uncomfortable feeling. I honestly thought I had worked through all that, but apparently I haven't. I think more than anything I tried to ignore it. I started reading The Silver Chair, and I'm still uncomfortable. Best I remember, it pretty much started with Prince Caspian last year. I don't completely understand why I'm uncomfortable, but there's no sense forcing it. Through my reading I'm constantly learning what types of books I like/don't like, books that I'm uncomfortable with, and books that I need/don't need to read. My reading has drastically changed since I started blogging. It has both greatly widened and narrowed in different aspects.

Since I did think I'd worked through it, I had been greatly anticipating this challenge. I've picked up several Narnia related books after last year's challenge, but since I no longer need/want them, there's no sense in me hanging on to them. I know they would make one of you very happy. Just to make sure no one misunderstands me, I'm not saying this series is wrong!

Stay tuned to the end for the giveaway!

I am still going to participate this year, just a little different than what I originally planned. Here's what I hope to read:



C. S. Lewis, My Godfather: Letters, Photos and Recollections by Laurence Harwood



The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller

I'm curious about this one. I almost ordered it last year during my reading. I finally ordered it a few days ago, but hopefully it won't take too long to get here.


Now for the GIVEAWAY! Just because I'm all weird doesn't mean these books don't deserve a great new home. :)

Up for grabs?

(Some of my Narnia related books are simply going in storage for the moment, so these actually aren't all of them. Some of these are brand new, and some of them I picked up used at various thrift stores).



Finding God in the land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware




A Family Guide to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Christin Ditchfield





The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Edmund and the White Witch adapted by Scout Driggs




Inside Prince Caspian by Devin Brown



Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Devin Brown


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe



Prince Caspian(the cover is slightly different, but pretty close).


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader



The Last Battle

(If there's some of these that you don't want, but some that you do, please enter anyway. Just let me know if you don't want some).

EVERYONE is welcome to enter whether you're participating in the challenge or not.

Rules:
-U.S. only(I'm sorry, but shipping is SO expensive international)
-Must be 13 years or older
-Ends @ midnight central on July 8th(I'll try to mail them as soon as possible, so you can use them for the challenge if you want to).
-Winner will be picked using random.org

To enter:

Just leave a comment with your spam-free email address. That's it!