Friday, September 30, 2011

never give up

I was looking through a stack of books in one of the classrooms I was working in a few weeks ago and the title of the book on the top jumped out at me. Never Give Up by Regina Burch is part of a Character Education series and the theme of the book is applicable to adults as well as children. The book constantly repeats the phrase "never give up" and I love that message! The illustrations are super cute and I love the idea of encouraging kids with this book.

Whatever you might be going through, never give up! Life doesn't always make sense and sometimes we wonder where God is when we're in the midst of our struggles or pain. Never give up! We have to continue moving forward and continue trusting - even when it doesn't seem like our circumstances have changed. Never give up!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

recipe: peanut butter fudge brownie trifle

As soon as I saw this picture, I knew I had to make this. All the chocolate and peanut butter - oh, I had no choice but to add it to my list of recipes to try! It's from a blog called "How Sweet It Is." You can also view the complete recipe by clicking here.

-peanut butter mixture layer from this peanut butter pie recipe]
- 1 batch of your favorite brownies, boxed or from scratch, cooled and cut into cubes
- 1 large box (5-ounce) of instant chocolate pudding, prepared and chilled
- 1 bag of peanut butter cups, chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on your desired level of sweetness
- 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 8 ounces of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

"In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to an separate bowl and stick in the fridge until ready to use. I did not even clean the bowl of my electric mixer and just began mixing the peanut butter mixture.

Add the peanut butter and cream cheese to the bowl and beat at medium speed, scraping down the sides a few times until mixture is creamy. Add in powdered sugar and mix until combined, then mix in 2 tablespoons of milk. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and add 1 cup of it to the peanut butter, folding it in until the mixture turns lighter in color and is mostly combined.

Grab your trifle dish and begin to layer your ingredients however you’d like. I did a layer of brownies, then peanut butter, then a handful of chopped peanut butter cups, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and so on. I repeated it until I got to the top, then piped the remaining whipped cream on top and sprinkled the candy on. You really can’t go wrong with layering – just use a long spoon to serve!"

Monday, September 26, 2011

tweet of the week

"I'm more excited about the future than a worship pastor at a clearance sale for skinny jeans at the mall." - Matthew Barnett

Saturday, September 24, 2011

saturday spotlight: "hello somebody"

Hello Somebody is a very cool non-profit organization. Their mission is this: "to impact and change the world through love, passion and creativity. Our purpose is simple: feed the hungry around the globe." Through purchasing their products, they feed the hungry. They sell hoodies, t-shirts, bracelets, necklaces and watches. A fellow blogger and friend of mine posted about Hello Somebody as well. So read her post and then head over to the site and see how awesome the organization really is!

Friday, September 23, 2011

happy fall!

Fall is my favorite season. I love the cooler weather and the leaves and the smells and the colors - everything about it makes me happy! I'm excited about this new season and all that it holds.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

recipe: yogurt cream and berries

This is another The Pioneer Woman recipe. She warns that it can be addictive but I honestly didn't believe her. That lasted until I actually tried the cream. It. is. amazing. I'm not a big fan of yogurt but this stuff is really, really good.

■1-1/2 cup plain, unflavored yogurt
■1-1/4 cup heavy cream
■1/2 cup (to 3/4 cup) brown sugar
■Blueberries (or other fruit of your choice)

"First, pour the yogurt into a bowl. Then add the cream. With a whisk carefully stir until combined. It should be nice and thick.

Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the yogurt mixture. Do not stir the mixture. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and tightly seal the edges. Place in the refrigerator for at least three or four hours.

When you are ready to serve, place a small handful of berries (or other fruit) into a bowl or cup. Now, you can either not stir the mixture and have small visible bits of brown sugar in the finished product or you can whisk the mixture until smooth. This is how I like it. Stirred or not, spoon the yogurt mixture over the berries or fruit. Repeat the layers once, ending with berries on top."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

book review: "the monster in the hollows" by andrew peterson

"Janner Wingfeather's father was the High King of Anniera. But his father is gone. The kingdom has fallen. The royal family is on the run, and the Fang armies of Gnag the Nameless are close behind.

Janner and his family hope to find refuge in the last safe place in the world: the Green Hollows--a land of warriors feared even by Fangs of Dang. But there's a big problem. Janner's little brother-heir to the throne of Anniera-has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn't as scary as he looks. He's perfectly harmless.

Or is he?" (from the back of the book)

I’ve not read the other two books in the series so I didn’t have any background knowledge as I started reading mid-series. Sometimes it’s not as important to know what’s happened prior but in this case, it would’ve helped me to know what was going on. Overall, I enjoyed the book but did feel a little lost at time since there were so many characters and I was just entering the scene. For example, the story begins with Janner recovering from being attacked by his now-wolf brother, Kalmar. In one of the other books Peterson explains why Kalmar is a wolf and there’s a conversation between Janner and Kalmar where I learned a little bit of what happened. However, in order to know the full details, I’ll have to go back and read the other books (which I intend to do). I really appreciated the short chapters since I like to stop at a chapter when I need to put a book down. I liked the twists Peterson threw in to keep me guessing. When Nia claims turalay to spare Kalmar’s life, thereby sentencing herself to any punishment Kalmar may receive for any of his actions, I knew that would come into play somehow but at the same time, Peterson couldn’t get rid of two of the main characters so he had me curious until I saw it play out. After reading the last page, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the final book, The Wolf King and the Warden.

You can learn more about the book, the series, Andrew Peterson and read other blogs in the tour by clicking any of the below links:

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Cynthia Dyer
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Eve Nielsen
Joan Nienhuis
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

I received a copy of this book from CSFF blog tours for my honest opinion.

Monday, September 19, 2011

tweet of the week

"Your lowest points are launching pads to God's greatest promotions...don't give up. It ain't over!" - Joseph Prince

Saturday, September 17, 2011

saturday spotlight: "fashionABLE"

FashionABLE sells super cute scarves and when you purchase one, you're providing work for a woman in Africa. It's a win-win. Click here for more info about the non-profit organization. They have scarves for both men and women. I haven't purchased one yet but I like this one, the Meselu Palomino Gold:

Friday, September 16, 2011


The ten-year anniversary for September 11, 2001 was this past Sunday. I can't believe it's been that long. I still remember where I was when it happened. It was my sophomore year of high school and I was in my first period Spanish class when we learned the first Twin Tower had been hit. And then in my second period Chemistry class we watched on the TV as the second Tower was hit. I remember the shock I felt at something like this happening. I remember going home that afternoon and watching the news with my parents as details began to unfold. I remember hearing about the people on the Flight 93 and how they were leaving messages for their families, knowing they wouldn't survive. The stories of those who became heroes. I won't forget.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

recipe how-to

I made the White Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Torte, from a post last month, the other day and though it didn't turn out as it was supposed to, it was still very yummy. Instead of the pie-like consistency the picture shows, mine looked more like ice cream (which isn't necessarily bad - just not what I was going for). I had a lesson in not rushing through a recipe and learning a new term: form to a peak. I had to google it before starting the recipe and ended up trying to achieve the result too quickly, thus resulting in my ice cream-ish dessert.

When done properly, the cream should hold its shape when the beaters are pulled straight out of the mixture (thank you Recipe Tips for this picture and explanation).

I think I made two mistakes. First, I'm not sure I had my cream to this point. I think it was still too soft. Second, I didn't let the white chocolate chips and heavy cream mixture I melted in the microwave cool completely so it melted the cream I was adding it to. Again, I was pleased with how it turned out because it was still good. And the cocoa was a really great garnish (I might add even more next time) - it helped break up the richness of heavy cream and white chocolate. I also didn't use a Springform pan and had some issues with the wax paper I lined the dish with getting in the dessert when people scooped it out (this was an all-around learning lesson for me). So I will now take my time when baking (because that really is a big part of it for me - enjoying the process) and make sure I understand the directions completely before jumping in :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

tweet of the week

"Follow your dreams. If God has given you a talent, use it. The rest is up to HIM. Just GO & DO." - Brooke Pleasant (@brookepleasant)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

saturday spotlight: gussy with "gussy sews"

Gussy is pretty amazing. She's cute and super talented. I haven't ordered anything from her shop yet but whenever I get an email with her new products, I'm reminded all over again that yes, I really need to go shopping on her site :)

I love the colors and prints she uses and she's always offering discounts to her email subscribers (which only fuels my desire to buy something from her!). She just seems like a very down to earth person and I find that to be super cool.

This is one of her market totes and I love everything about it. It may not be the first thing I buy from her since I just realized she also makes headbands but I plan on buying (at least) one of totes at some point.

So stop by her site, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, September 9, 2011

great things

I don't know if I can properly explain this season of my life I'm in but I feel God is stirring things within me. Some are things that I've forgotten, some are things I've put on hold for various reasons and some are new things. I just have this peace that God's working things out even though I can't see any immediate changes. I know I'm being vague by not mentioning any specifics but maybe at a later time. I'm just excited at what's in store because I know it'll all be good. I truly believe I'm going to see some answered prayers that I've been believing for a while to finally come about and other great things as well. There's a song called "The Words I Would Say" by Sidewalk Prophets that I really like. It had been a while since I've heard it but it was playing on the radio the other day and I was reminded all over again why I like it. It's just one of those songs that will encourage you when you need a reminder that God has a plan for you and hasn't forgotten you. He's put amazing things inside of you and will show you how to use them. He has great things for you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

recipe: buttered rosemary rolls

These rolls are absolutely amazing. There's not a word that can truly describe how good these taste. It's the combination of warm bread, butter, salt and that hint of rosemary that makes you want to eat way more than you should. You find yourself unable to stop - they're just that good. Maybe you think I'm being a little over the top here. So prove me wrong. Make these and tell me they weren't incredible. The recipe is from one of my favorite go-to people for food, The Pioneer Woman (the picture is also hers).

■Frozen, unbaked dinner rolls
■Melted butter, regular, salted
■Fresh Rosemary, coarsely chopped

■Coarse Sea Salt

"Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray (or coat with olive oil). Place frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising. Cover and allow to rise for several hours.

After rising, brush rolls with melted butter.

Sprinkle on chopped rosemary. Brush with additional butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake according to roll package directions (usually 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes), until rolls are a deep golden brown on top.

Serve skillet on the table."

I've made these both in a skillet and on a pan and while they seem to be better in a skillet, they're still super good on a pan as well. I've also spread butter and Sea Salt on slices of French bread before putting it in the oven for an adapted version if you don't have dinner rolls on hand.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

book review: "fairer than morning" by rosslyn elliott

Ann Miller is only fifteen when the man she knows she's supposed to marry proposes. Eli Bowen asks Ann to be his wife and is shocked when she turns him down, telling him her father won't allow her to marry until eighteen. Eli shows no signs of wanting to wait that long and leaves, soon seen escorting another young woman on his arm.

Three years pass and Ann is finally eighteen. Her father is preparing a trip for himself, Ann and her two sisters when Eli makes another appearance into her life. Her mind elsewhere, Ann won't allow Eli's words to sway her heart. She leaves for her trip, being vague when he asks if they can talk some time.

When the family arrives at their destination, Ann's unprepared for what all will take place. She learns of what her father really does while riding the circuit and she meets the man who's letters she's been hiding for the last three years. The letters came to her accidentally and she was determined to give them back to their owner, Will Hanby. Ann feels a connection with Will - they've both experienced loss - but she also sees a deep pain in his eyes. When her family eventually leaves to return home, she can't shake the feeling that she should've tried harder to help Will somehow.

Shortly after Ann leaves, Will decides he has had enough. His master, Jacob Good, is a cruel man and Will has finally had enough. He runs away, the only place he can think to go is to Ann's father. When he shows up on the Miller's doorstep, Mr. Miller agrees to take him in, knowing the cost of such a decision. Ann was drawn to Will when they first met and she now has a choice: the man she once thought she was supposed to marry or the man who unexpectedly entered her life. Things become dangerous when Jacob Good sends men looking for Will. Will he ever be truly free again? And then his past catches up with him. Will Ann understand and be willing to forgive him?

I really enjoyed this book! It has action and romance. Elliott threw in a few twists to keep it interesting and I finished it feeling satisfied with how things turned out. I liked seeing Ann mature throughout the book. She thought for sure she was supposed to marry Eli but ultimately gave it to God, trusting who He might bring into her life. She suddenly realized she wanted more out of life - to help people - and that couldn't be done with Eli. I also liked Will. He had made some mistakes but was wanted to do the right thing. And after experiencing freedom for himself, he wanted to share that with others.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review. You can read an excerpt of the book by clicking here, buy the book, and read other reviews in the blog tour.

Monday, September 5, 2011

tweet of the week

"Life is about lessons that shape us and failures that shake us into refined dreamers ready to take action." - Matthew Barnett (@matthewbarnett)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

saturday spotlight: "real simple" online

I accidentally became a fan of Real Simple magazine. I had ordered a magazine subscription from someone for a fundraiser but they were out of that magazine so I decided, eh, I'll try Real Simple. It didn't take long before I became hooked. I love just about everything about the magazine. I like the not-standard size of it and how clean and sharp the cover always looks. It's full of so many good ideas and tips. It's just an overall win for me :)

So I went to look at the website to see what all it has to offer. You can look at recipes, DIY ideas, and beauty/fashion tips. You can look at the "Daily Finds" and see what great buys they've uncovered. You can read articles from the editors and view the "Tip of the Day." This is one of those sites where you can easily lose track of time as you look at all of the great ideas.

Friday, September 2, 2011

recipe: peanut butter fudge pretzel brownies

This is another recipe that's on my list to make - very, very soon. It's from "How Sweet It Is" and you can click here for the full step-by-step instructions.

Ingredients 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/3 powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups crushed pretzel pieces
6 tablespoons butter, melted

"Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.

Combine melted butter and pretzel crumbs in a bowl until moistened. With the back of a spoon, press pretzels into the 8×8 pan making a crust. If pretzels seem loose, drizzle some additional melted butter over top of hit with a quick shot of non-stick spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, add in cocoa, flour and salt, mixing until combined – about 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Using a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, evenly spread brownies on top of pretzel crust. Set pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies are baked through.

When brownies have about 3 minutes left baking, melt peanut butter (I melted mine in the microwave in 30 second increments then stirring) in a bowl. Once melted, stir in 2/3 cup powdered sugar and mix until no lumps remain. Pour over warm brownies and spread evenly. Refrigerate brownies for 1-2 hours, then cut into bars and serve."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

giveaway: "covert pursuit" by terri reed

Congratulations to Margaret for winning Summer Dream by Martha Rogers!

This month I'm giving away a copy of Covert Pursuit by Terri Reed. It's a book I haven't had a chance to read yet so I'm passing it along to someone else! To enter, just leave me a comment along with an email address to contact you. Contest ends Friday, September 30 at midnight.

For extra entries:
- tell me how you heard about this giveaway
- become a follower of my blog