Wednesday, February 29, 2012

no words

I thoroughly enjoy looking at diy project! There are some amazing bloggers out there who come up with the coolest stuff. I've subscribed to quite a few blogs so I daily get to see their genius as it arrives in my inbox. Here are just a few examples:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

book review: "yhwh: the flood, the fish, & the giant" by g.p. taylor & paula k. parker

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Authentic (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Mike Parker for sending me a review copy.***


GP Taylor is the New York Times best selling author of such young adult novels as Shadowmancer, Wormwood, and The Tizzle Sisters. He resides in England on the banks of a river in the midst of a dark wood, an arrow's flight from the Prince Regent Hotel.

Visit the author's website.

Paula K. Parker is a U.S.-based playwright and author whose works include stage adaptations of the Jane Austen classics, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma. YESHUA: The Vine, The Demon & The Traitor, the sequel to "YHWH," is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012.

Visit the author's website.


YHWH is a collection of 20 Old Testament stories, re-told for the Harry Potter generation.

In a world where Children are probably more familiar with Harry Potter than Jesus, it’s often hard to encourage them to read the Bible in its traditional form. YHWH introduces the wonderful Bible stories to them in a way that captures their imagination YHWH is based on the scripture but adds description and other allegory to make the stories come alive.
The project is supported by Walk Through the Bible Ministries who teach the Bible to over 40,000 school children each year. It could be used by Christians as a tool for evangelism and would be ideal as a gift for children and young people unfamiliar with the classic Bible narratives.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Authentic (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1860248004
ISBN-13: 978-1860248009


YWHW: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant
By GP Taylor & Paula K. Parker
Authentic Media

Chapter One: The Fall

In the early light of morning, by the Tigris River that ran through the valley of Gan-Eden, a long, black serpent slithered in and out of the eucalyptus trees. The creature was followed at a distance by a small and fearful rat. Wherever the snake went, so the rat followed, but always far enough away so the bright white teeth that were hidden in the snake’s mouth could not strike it. The cobra cared for nothing but itself. It neither ate nor slept, but just slid through the undergrowth as it sought a place to hide from the sun. The serpent raised itself up and puffed out its hood, then stopped and tasted the air as it flickered its blood-red tongue. Every creature in the garden sensed the advent of death and all was silent. Sensing warmth nearby, the snake edged closer to the body of a man that lay as if unconscious in the clearing of the forest.
As the first rays of sunlight broke against the tall trees, the snake sniffed the face of the bearded creature. He smelled different from any other beast of the forest. It was then, with no human eye to see, that the snake began to slowly transform. Inch by inch, the scales of the creature quickly disintegrated and took the form of pure, white skin. As if it were being peeled, the snake changed in appearance. Its head grew and took on the countenance of a man. As the snakeskin peeled back, the rest of the body emerged. It was distinctly human, the only trace of what had been the cobra were the slitted eyes and two sharp fangs that edged his ruby lips.
Soon, the snake was no more. Its transformation was complete. The creature was angelic, tall, with long thin fingers. Waves of white hair were brushed back to reveal a chiselled face – the beauty of which no one on earth had ever seen.
‘Wormwood … do you always have to stay in that form?’ the creature asked the rat as it crawled over the stump of an old tree and looked up at him.
HE … might not see me like this. I feel safe if HE can’t see me.’ The rat replied, as it brushed its face with clawed hands that looked quite human.
HE sees everything. There is nothing in the universe that HE can’t see.’ The man replied angrily.
‘But Lucifer, HE was your friend and master,’ the rat answered without thinking.
‘As HE was yours, Wormwood. Then the Creator cast us out – just for thinking we were His equal.…’ Lucifer answered as he looked about him, knowing he was being overheard. ‘And now, not only does the man Marah inhabit this place, but the Creator in his wisdom has made that – a friend for Marah; the man created from dust – blood and gall – now has a companion.’
Lucifer pointed to the body of a woman who lay on the ground in a deep sleep. She was covered in eucalyptus leaves, her long black hair trailing in ringlets across her dark skin.
‘She is … very beautiful,’ Wormwood answered as he looked down at the woman. ‘Is she an angel?’
Lucifer looked at Marah. He traced his finger along Marah’s naked skin and dug the nail into his flesh until he came to a long wound in his side.
‘Interesting …’ Lucifer mused as he traced the wound. ‘It looks as though HE has taken a rib to form this other one.’
‘Shall we kill them?’ Wormwood asked. ‘We killed many angels in heaven until Raphael put an end to our war.’
‘Not yet,’ Lucifer answered. ‘I think that here will be a fine place to wage our war on the Creator. If HE has one weakness, it is compassion. If I were King of Heaven, I would not have allowed us to live. All HE did was cast us down to this place. Even with our rebellion, He showed kindness. How foolish is HE?’ Lucifer asked the rat.
Wormwood did not speak. He stared at the woman and watched her breathing. Lucifer reached out and touched her face.
‘What will we do with them?’ Wormwood asked.
‘There will be time; after all, we have all eternity,’ Lucifer answered quickly as he heard footsteps in the forest.
Suddenly changing back to the shape of the serpent, Lucifer slithered quickly into the undergrowth. Wormwood darted to the cover of the trees.
Gan-Eden was still. The scent of death had vanished. Marah lay on the ground as if asleep. Around him, bushes covered in blossoms were once more humming with bees. The trees shadowing him were alive with birds singing, building nests and pecking at the ripening fruit. Animals walked up to gently sniff at the sleeping humans and then wander into the brush. The footsteps drew closer and closer. From amongst the trees and bushes, a breath as warm as sunlight and deep as eternity flared the nostrils of the man as the voice echoed, ‘Marah … awake.’
Marah’s eyes shifted under closed lids and gradually opened; without turning his head, he looked around, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Gan-Eden. Yawning he stretched, extending his arms, and touched … something.
He turned to see a figure sleeping on the ground. It was like him … but it wasn’t.
‘Creator,’ Marah asked, ‘… what … is this?’
The voice that had awakened him echoed in response, ‘She is woman. She will be your companion and your helper. Your wife. All the animals in the garden were made male and female. It was not good for you to be alone; in the entire garden, there was none equal to you. I caused you to fall into a deep sleep and took one of your ribs and, from that rib, I created her.’
Marah rose to his knees to inspect the sleeping woman. He brushed away the leaves that covered her body. Her skin was soft as a butterfly’s wings and thick dark lashes brushed cheeks the colour of peaches. Hair the shade of a raven’s wing flowed from her head, covering her to her thighs. Her lids fluttered and then opened. The eyes inspecting him were almond-shaped, their colour reflecting the grass beneath her. She looked at Marah curiously and reached to touch his face. She laughed; the sound was as light and fresh as the mist that arose each morning.
Taking her hand, Marah helped the woman to stand. Wife, he thought. A companion and a helper. Like me, but not like me.
‘You are bone of my bone,’ he told her, ‘and flesh of my flesh.’
Her brow wrinkled, as if not understanding.
Marah cupped her cheek. ‘You are “woman”,’ – then he touched his side – ‘for you were taken out of “man”.’
The woman opened her mouth, working to shape full lips. ‘Mmm … aaahhh.…’
Touching his chest, he told her, ‘I am “Marah”.’
‘Marah,’ she spoke as if tasting the word.
Pointing to her, he said, ‘Havva.’
That is good,’ the voice of the Creator echoed through the trees.
Havva looked around for the source of the voice and then looked at Marah, her brow furrowed in question.
‘That is the Creator,’ Marah said.
Havva looked at him and smiled. It was as if she knew all of what Marah spoke.
‘The Creator is good,’ Havva answered.
Marah smiled. ‘Yes, He is.’ Taking her hand, he said, ‘Now come … let me show you Gan-Eden.’
Together they walked through forests and meadows, up hills and down into valleys, enjoying the feel of soft grass beneath their feet. Marah led Havva to a river; releasing her hand, he jumped into the water, laughing. Turning, he extended his arms. ‘Water.’
‘Water,’ she laughed and jumped, gasping as the cold water hit her skin and filled her mouth and nose.
He held her hand as they waded through the water. Fish darted between the man and woman, tickling their legs and feet with brightly coloured fins. Marah showed Havva how to drink the water with cupped hands and wiped her dripping lips. Then they left the river and walked to a nearby tree. Plucking fruit from a laden bough, Marah handed one to Havva.
‘Peach,’ he bit into the ripe flesh, juice spurting and dripping to his chest. ‘Mmmm …’ he nodded.
She bit into her peach; her eyes widened at her first taste of food. She nodded and laughed as the juice ran down her chin. After eating several more peaches, they plunged back into the river to wash their skin and then laid down on the bank to rest in the sunlight.
As the sun slipped down the sky, changing from golden to orange, to disappear beyond the horizon, Marah led Havva to a spot beneath a massive oak. He showed her how to pull up armfuls of tall blades of grass and lay them on top of each other. When the pile of grass reached their knees, Marah sat down and reached up to pull Havva down next to him. He lay on his back, with his hands cushioning his head. After a moment, Havva lay next to him and placed her head on his chest. As the sky darkened the moon arose, creamy and full, and stars scattered like diamonds across the expanse. The man and woman’s breathing slowed and before they fell asleep, they heard, ‘That is very good,’ whispered across the night sky.
Through the days that followed, Marah showed Havva the length and breadth of Gan-Eden. As they wandered, they tended the plants. Marah showed Havva how to use a sharp stone to cut the pips and seeds from the fruit they ate; they stuck the seeds in the ground. ‘From these, the Creator will make more grow.’ They would climb the trees to toss down fruit for the animals that couldn’t reach it. And in the evening, the Creator would come. Not that they saw the Creator; they felt His presence as the sun warmed their skin and heard His voice whispering through the sky. They would talk about all they had done and the Creator would instruct them about the needs of the animals and plants in Gan-Eden.
Be fruitful and increase in number,’ the voice of the Creator whispered in their hearts, ‘fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’
One golden day when the warm wind blew in from the west, Marah and Havva followed the bank of the Tigris to where it met with the Euphrates to form the Great River. The waters rolled and cascaded, frothing over rocks. On the bank of the river, stood two trees. Both were gigantic, taller than any other tree in Gan-Eden and laden with ripe fruit, filling the air with spicy sweetness. As they looked across the waters, the Creator spoke. The voice echoed across the sky.
This is the centre of the garden,’ the Creator spoke above the sounds of the rushing water. ‘The trees in the middle of the garden are the tree of life’ the wind blew ruffled the leaves on the tree on the right, ‘and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ The leaves on the left tree waved in the breeze.‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely taste death.’
‘Marah,’ Havva asked, ‘what is “death”?’
‘I do not know,’ he told her. His face had grown solemn and thoughtful. He was not laughing now. ‘But we do not need to know. It is enough that the Creator tells us not to eat from the tree.’ He took her hand and looked into her eyes. ‘We will obey.’
She nodded hesitantly. ‘We will obey.’
As they turned to go, Havva caught sight of an animal she had not met. From a distance, it looked like the branch of a tree it curled around, but its skin glistened like a lizard.
‘Marah, what is that?’ she pointed to the snake as it bowed from the branch.
He looked. ‘That is Serpent.’
‘Why does it not come and greet us?’
Marah shrugged. ‘I know not.’ He took her hand. ‘Come, I saw pomegranates. Let’s eat some.’
As they walked away, Havva felt an itching sensation between her shoulders. Looking back, she saw the serpent watching her; it looked as though it was smiling.
Time passed slowly in Gan-Eden. Havva had grown accustomed to the land. She knew where to find the best pears and apples, when to pick the raspberries and how to choose the ripest tomatoes. All was well. The Creator walked in the land by the river and they listened to His voice as the sun set and the moon rose out of the mountains.
One morning, the sunlight streamed into her eyes and woke Havva. She looked over at Marah; he was sleeping on his side, with a large leaf covering his head. She smiled at her husband, who snorted and rubbed his nose, and snuggled into their bed. Havva stood up to gather food for Marah and herself.
Wandering, she plucked an apple from a nearby tree; the fruit was sweet and crunchy. She washed the sticky juice from her fingers. She pulled a large leaf from a tree and used it to gather fruit for Marah and herself: more apples, raspberries, dark red cherries, peaches, a small melon. When she came upon the pomegranate tree, she found herself standing near the Great River and the two trees the Creator had told them about.
The fruits on both trees were unlike any she had seen before: larger than any Havva had gathered, and their fragrance made her mouth water and filled the glade with its essence.
‘Havva,’ a voice said from deep within the glade.
She turned. There, slithering towards her was the serpent. As it neared, she could see that it began to slowly change and stand up on two legs. It looked like Marah – its eyes were tilted slits, the mouth wide. The creature shuddered joyfully.
‘How do you know my name?’ she asked.
‘We all know that Havva and Marah are favoured by the Creator,’ Serpent spoke, hissing out each word. ‘I see you are gathering food,’ it said. ‘Have you come to pick fruit from these trees?’ It walked towards the tree on the left.
‘But not fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ Havva answered.
‘Is it true that the Creator really said, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
‘No,’ Havva said. ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but the Creator said, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’
‘You will not surely die,’ Serpent said. ‘The Creator does not want you to eat it, for He knows that when you eat the fruit, you will be wise like Him, knowing good and evil.’ Plucking a fruit, it bit into the flesh. Serpent closed its eyes and hissed, ‘No other fruit tastes so good.’
Havva took a step closer to the tree. The fruit was large and plump, its aroma filling her head. She dropped the leaf filled with the fruit she had gathered. None of the fruit I picked looks or smells as good as this, she thought. Surely becoming as wise as the Creator is a good thing.
Slowly lifting her hand, she reached up and – hesitantly – touched the nearest fruit. It was firm and ripe; one slight tug and the fruit fell into Havva’s hand. She sniffed it; the aroma was sweet and set her mouth watering. She extended her tongue and licked it. She waited … nothing happened … no death … it tasted like the dawn. She took one bite – then another and another. She consumed the fruit, grabbed another and ate it. Hand over hand, she ate several pieces of fruit, unable to assuage her hunger.
‘Havva!’ shouted another voice. She whirled around, a fruit in one hand and a half-eaten fruit in the other.
Marah stared at her, stared at her hands. ‘What have you done?’ he whispered.
Havva stepped towards her husband. ‘Marah … I woke before you … wanted to gather food … the serpent told me that the Creator didn’t want us to be like him … I ate one … the fruit is unlike any we have eaten before … nothing happened … I’m the same –’
‘No,’ he shook his head, ‘you are different….’
‘I am like the Creator….’ She lifted the uneaten fruit to his mouth. ‘Don’t you want to … be like Him?’ She lifted the other fruit and took a bite. ‘They are wonderful.’
Marah stared at his wife … opened his mouth … and took a bite.
The ground was soon littered with fruit, some eaten, some just bitten into. Other fruit was just thrown to the ground and smashed underfoot in their haste to grab more. No matter how many they ate, their hunger remained.
‘Marah …’ she said, her voice anguished. ‘Something is different.’
‘What do you mean?’ Marah asked, his mouth full of fruit.
‘I do not know. We should know,’ Havva’s voice was rough and sharp as a stone. ‘We ate the fruit … the serpent said we would be wise as the Creator and know everything.’
‘Havva …’ Marah said, ‘the serpent is not the Creator and we did as he told us, not as the Creator told us.’
Havva grabbed her waist. ‘Marah … something is different … in me.’ She doubled over, crying out in pain. ‘Something is twisting inside.’
Running to the river, Havva retched as she coughed up the half-eaten fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It twisted her guts and stuck in her throat as she retched and retched. Again and again she tried to rid herself of the pain in her stomach and her heart. She was distantly aware of Marah kneeling next to her. She heard his cries of anguish and pain as he emptied his stomach of the fruit.
Reaching out, she pulled a leaf from a nearby bush and wiped her mouth. Not enough. She grabbed another and, opening her mouth, wiped her tongue. Still not enough.
Pulling leaf after leaf, the man and woman tried to clean the feeling from their mouths, their bellies, their hearts. Shivering, Havva took fig leaves and knotted the ends, until she had formed a covering for herself. Noticing that Marah was also trembling, she formed a covering for Marah.
‘Marah … Havva …’
They looked at each other, hearts pounding.
‘The Creator,’ Marah whispered. ‘He is coming.’
‘He will see us … He will know.’ Havva said. Turning, she ran down the path, stumbling over rocks and stumps, scratching her legs on bushes, until she found four trees that leaned towards each other. Several small bushes growing at their base formed a small shelter. Dropping to her knees, she crawled inside. A moment later, Marah crawled in beside her. She could hear Marah’s heart beating in fear.
Marah … Havva … where are you?’ The leaves on the bushes trembled … ‘Marah?’
Marah looked at Havva and shook his head. ‘I must answer …’ Taking a shuddering breath, the man stuttered, ‘I-I am in here …’
Where is Havva?’
Havva looked wide-eyed at Marah, who nodded.
‘I … I am in here with Marah.’
‘Why are you in there?’
‘We heard you in the forest and we were afraid you would see … us … as we are … naked … so we hid from you.’
Who told you that you were naked?’ the Creator spoke in a sad whisper. ‘Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?
The pain in the Creator’s voice tore at Marah, the knowledge of his disobedience too heavy to confess.
‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’
‘Havva.’ The woman cringed under the weight of His voice. ‘What is this you have done?’
Havva’s thoughts were as rapid as her heartbeat. What can I say? How do I explain?
‘It was Serpent. He told me it would make me like you …’ her voice dropped to a tearful whisper, ‘and I ate.’
The leaves at the door to their shelter began trembling, shivering, as the wind began blowing, howling. The presence of the Creator rose above the earth, His voice swelled to cover all creation.
Serpent, because you have done this, you are cursed above all the creatures of the night. You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’
What will He do to us?’ she whispered.
‘Havva.’ The woman wrapped her arms around her legs and laid her head on her knees. ‘You will give birth to children and they will bring you pain. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’
‘Marah.’ The man turned from his wife, as the Creator spoke to him. ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it”: cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’
A sudden, sharp sound rent the air. It was unlike anything that Marah or Havva had ever heard before. It pierced their ears and tore at their hearts.
Marah … Havva…’ The Creator’s voice sounded as painful as their hearts. ‘Come here.’
Marah dropped to his knees to crawl from their hiding place; after a moment, Havva followed. Standing, they looked around. Nothing seemed different about the land … yet it was. There, by a bush, was a slaughtered sheep. Its throat was cut, blood issued from its fleece, mixing with the dust of the earth.
The voice of the Creator rose above the trees again, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’
The ground under the man and woman’s feet trembled and shook, as the sky grew blinding white. In fear, they watched as a figure descended from the clouds to stand in front of the two trees. It had the shape of a man, with wings like the mighty eagle. His face was terrible to see. In his hand was a flaming sword.
Looking at Marah and Havva, the angel lifted the sword and opened his mouth. ‘GO.’
The word echoed from one end of Gan-Eden to the other. Fire flashed from the sword; a tree near the humans erupted into flames.
Grabbing Havva’s hand, Marah began running, screaming, as first a tree and then a bush exploded before them.
They came to the edge of the river where Marah had first showed Havva how to drink and swam across the river, choking on the water that filled their nose and mouth. They crawled out of the water and collapsed on the riverbank, panting. After his heart and breathing had slowed, Marah rolled over and pulled himself to his knees. He looked up and gasped.
Havva grabbed his ankle, too afraid to look. ‘What is it?’
‘They’re gone,’ Marah’s voice was ragged.
‘What’s gone? The serpent?’
‘No,’ Marah dropped to the ground next to his wife. ‘The tree of life … it is gone. Gan-Eden has disappeared.’
Turning, Havva looked behind them. Across the river, beyond the far bank, was … nothing. There were bushes, forests, and hills; but they were not those of the garden. Arching her neck, Havva looked in one direction and then turned to look in the other. Straining her eyes, she could not see the massive tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were … gone!
‘Marah, where is it? Did the Creator destroy the land?’
‘I don’t think so. I think Gan-Eden is hidden from us. Maybe one day, He will let us return.’ He reached down and took Havva’s hand and pulled her up. ‘… For now, we must find shelter … the night is coming.’

My thoughts: I liked this book! I always enjoy reading something that can further bring to life people in the Bible. Taylor and Parker made me think by focusing on different parts of each story that maybe I haven't thought about before. The story of Esther is one of my favorites so I was excited for it to be included in this book. By the authors digging deeper with each story, it makes the people seem that much more real. The stories aren't very long but long enough for you to feel like you're gaining something from it. I'm looking forward to the next book Yeshua: the King, the Demon & the Traitor that is set to come out next month.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

saturday spotlight: jen with "tatertots and jello"

Jen has a fantastic blog! I love her ideas - they're super cute! She has lots of tutorials, craft ideas, holiday ideas and she features different guest bloggers. Just look at some of her projects!

Friday, February 24, 2012

book review: "creative slow-cooker meals" by cheryl moeller

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

Cheryl Moeller is a seasoned mother and a standup comic. She is also a syndicated columnist with her own blog ( and contributes monthly to several online parent websites. Cheryl has coauthored two books on marriage with her husband and has written for and Marriage Partnership. Cheryl does comedy for parenting classes, MOPS groups, wedding or baby showers, church retreats, women’s conferences, and those in line at the grocery store.

Visit the author's website.


From the celebrated coauthor of The Marriage Miracle comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.

Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:

  • Harvest-time Halibut Chowder

  • Salmon and Gingered Carrots

  • Mediterranean Rice Pilaf

  • Indian Chicken Curry

  • Apricot-Pistachio Bread

  • Shrimp Creole

  • Rhubarb Crisp
... and many more! Perfect for the frazzled mom who never has enough time in the day, Creative Slow-Cooker Meals gives readers more time around the table with delicious, healthy, frugal, and easy meals!

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Spiral-bound: 272 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736944915

ISBN-13: 978-0736944915

AND NOW...THE FIFTH CHAPTER (click on pages to enlarge):

My thoughts: I haven't been able to try out these recipes yet since I'm on a fast but I am super excited for when I can! Some ones that are at the top of my list:

- Overnight Oats with Triple Berry Oatmeal Topping (pg. 12-13)
- Slow-Cooker Pancake (pg. 22)
- Friendship Tea (pg. 26)
- Little Piggies in a Blanket (pg. 27)
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese Casserole (pg. 29)
- Swedish Meatballs (pg. 84)
- Shepherd's Pie (pg. 100)
- Chicken Manicotti (pg. 108)
- Brownies in a Mug (pg. 110)
- Sloppy Joes (pg. 117)
- Rosemary Chicken (pg. 118)
- Captain Mac (pg. 129)
- Hot Mocha Frappes (pg. 131)
- Spaghetti Night (pg. 138)
- Italian Bread Basket (pg. 139)
- Bread Pudding (pg. 148)
- Raspberry Ginger Ale Sponge Cupcakes (pg. 168)
- Quick Whole Wheat Bread (pg. 180)
- Book Club Chai Tea (pg. 262)

I like that it's spiral bound making it easy when using in the kitchen. I love the idea of being able to make all of these recipes using a slow cooker! It's so easy and you can make sooooo many things with it! I'm very much looking forward to trying these out!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

fight dirty

I don't know if anyone can relate but I'm feeling opposition during this fast. I'm fasting for three things, two of which I will share.. I'm believing for the right full-time teaching position and a new car. These are things I've been praying for for a while now and I reached the decision that since I need these big things to happen in my life, I need to sacrifice something big - hence my Daniel Fast. I'm on Day 16 and having to constantly make the choice to see this through and not give up. I had a moment last week where I felt like God apparently didn't see the fact that I'm fasting and I was just frustrated. I wanted to chuck my fast out the window and eat chocolate and meat and everything else. But then I realized that maybe this wasn't coincidental. I know God hasn't forgotten me and sees how serious I am to fast about it. The moment you want to give up is the moment you need to fight the hardest. You have to kick and claw and fight dirty against the devil to get your breakthroughs. You have to refuse to give up and don't let how you feel at the moment determine the end result. Know that it will be worth it and you'll be that much stronger on the other side.

Monday, February 20, 2012

recipe: chocolate fudge s'mores mug cake

This looks amazing. It's chocolate and I'm just super excited to be able to try it. I'm thinking it would be absolutely perfect on a cold day. Though honestly, I'm sure it's good anytime :) You can go to Jessica's blog to view the picture by picture instructions.

2-3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate (chopped or morsels)
marshmallow fluff, cream or actual marshmallows

"Combine 3 tablespoons butter and 1 ounce of chocolate in a small bowl, then melt in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Set aside. In another bowl, combine remaining melted butter with 2-3 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs and stir until moistened. Press graham crumbs into the bottom of your mug.
In a bowl. whisk egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa, stir until a thick batter forms. Stream in melted butter and chocolate, mixing to combine. Fold in remaining chocolate chips. Add half of the mixture on top of the graham crust, then throw on a scoop of marshmallow fluff/cream or a few marshmallows. Add remaining batter on top, then pop in the microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds to almost 2 minutes. Remove and top with additional marshmallow if desired. You can pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to make them melty, or pop them directly under the broiler for about 10 seconds to toast if desired. You can also use a kitchen torch if you have one. Sprinkle with graham crumbs!
Notes: If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, you can use all-purpose. I would not recommend using regular whole wheat. Additionally, I have made this by substituting coconut butter for the full amount of butter. It was just as delicious, albeit slightly drier. You cannot taste coconut at all. Finally, take into account the power of your microwave. Mine has a mind of it’s own and is insanely powerful, so I cooked this on 80% power. Judge accordingly and add/subtract a few minutes of cooking if you know your’s is wonky too. Unfortunately it may take 1-2 trial runs to get the right consistency because all microwaves are different, but I promise it’s worth it!"

Saturday, February 18, 2012

saturday spotlight: brook with "being brook"

I've just recently discovered Brook's blog but I am very impressed! She has some great ideas. For example, her Valentine Wreath:

Or this lamp she re-vamped. How cool does that look?!

Head over to Being Brook and take a look at her amazing ideas! She also has sewing projects, furniture makeovers and organizing ideas. Find something you like and create your own awesome (her slogan is "create awesome" and I love that!)!

Friday, February 17, 2012

no words

A blog I follow recently did a post on ideas for when you can't think of what to write about. I'm using that post for inspiration as I share with you some pretty incredible looking pictures of recipes I want to try soon. Warning: you should probably not view these if already hungry :)

1. Chocolate Fudge S'Mores Mug Cake

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the waiting

I'm taking a major trip down memory lane here but every so often I'll get Christian songs from the 90's stuck in my head. This was the case the other day when I began humming "In the Waiting" by Greg Long (this was prior to him joining Avalon in case you needed that clarification). Humor me as I share the chorus:

"I want a peace beyond my understanding

I want to feel it fall like rain
In the middle of my hurting
I want to feel Your arms as they surround me
And let me know that it's okay
To be here in this place
Resting in the peace that only comes
In the waiting."

I think there will always be something in life I'm "waiting" on - that's just how life is. We're always striving for something but I think that's ok. The other side of that is being completely satisfied to the point of never trying, never reaching. So for me, I'm still in the process of being in a place where I'm waiting but I'm also doing. I'm eagerly anticipating some things but at the same time, busy with other things God has for me. I get excited when I see tiny glimpses of those things and it encourages me as I continue to wait.

*After I scheduled this post, I heard the song "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller and had to include it! It's such a great song and totally goes along with this post!

Monday, February 13, 2012

recipe: cake

I've said before how much I like Bakerella. Well, she just officially made me a like her all the more with one of her recent posts. Does that cake not look just absolutely amazing?! I haven't tried this recipe out - though it's going to the top of my list - and looks a little involved. I have a feeling it's worth it :) Here are her instructions and you can go to the direct post to see picture-by-picture instructions.

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup hot water

Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
4-8 Tablespoons milk
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels, if desired

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

"For the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans. Then place parchment paper cut to size on the bottom of each pan and grease paper. Dust pans with cocoa. Sift dry ingredients together and place in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add hot water and mix together. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 28-30 minutes. Batter will be very liquid. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the frosting: beat the butter in a mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar in several additions, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add milk a tablespoon at a time and mix together until you achieve a smooth consistency. Note: If you want your frosting whiter without using shortening, add a little white icing color to tint.

For the ganache: heat cream and butter in a saucepan until melted and remove before it starts to boil. Place chocolate morsels in a small bowl and pour cream on top. Let sit for a few seconds and whisk by hand until completely incorporated and smooth. Let cool until thick and pourable. The ganache can take a bit to thicken. You can make it before the buttercream, to save time. Just use a wire whisk to stir it every few minutes and keep it smooth.

To assemble: trim tops off of cake layers with a long serrated knife so they have a nice, flat top. Place one layer bottom side up on cake stand. Mix about 2/3 cup morsels with about 1 cup of the frosting. Spread frosting on top of bottom layer. Place second layer on top. It helps to have a crumb coat on the outside of your cake first. Simply apply a thin coat of frosting to the entire cake to catch andy excess crumbs. Then place cake in freezer for a few minutes to firm up frosting and cover the entire cake again with a thick layer of buttercream. This will help you keep all those crumbs from getting caught in your pretty work. Slowly, pour ganache over center of cake. Pour just enough to start dripping down the sides."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

saturday spotlight: courtney with "swimming into second"

I've been noticing some really cute stuff in different classrooms I've worked as a substitute in. I've seen handouts and things on the wall with absolutely adorable illustrations. I finally was able to figure out where they came from and knew it would be my next spotlight post! Courtney has a great blog called Swimming into Second. She has some free printables on her blog as well as listing other blogs by teachers (it seems most are second grade) if you're into networking and connecting with other teachers. She has some of her stuff available on Teachers Pay Teachers (a site where you can find some great free stuff!). If you're in the elementary education profession and in need of some ideas, her over to Courtney's blog...which will then lead you to other blogs!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

to do

I'm making a conscious effort to be more deliberate with my "to do" lists this year. I'm always writing down things I need to get done but often I misplace the paper or just end up with so many that there's no way I can tackle them all. At the end of last year I cleared off the bulletin board in my room and decided to make use of it! At the top of the board I typed up and mounted on card stock the days of the week. Below each day is a list of two or three things to focus on - thereby making it way more manageable. Underneath that I have two giant lists. These are my "master" lists from which I pull the things for each day. It's that whole "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time" theory. What's not in the picture is the bottom of my bulletin board. I have a calendar for the month where I keep track of blog posts and book reviews. Beside the this is a running list of the books I've read this year along with the date finished.

So this is what works for me. Maybe it can help you if you're needing a little organization direction. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments!

book review: "the accidental bride" by denise hunter

Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in the same home she grew up in. Though she fights to keep her home, the bank is threatening to foreclose. She's doesn't know what to do - just that she needs a miracle.

Travis McCoy had his fun on the rodeo circuit but back and ready to settle down. Though he left Shay on their wedding day, he's never forgotten her. He hopes to be able to prove to Shay he won't leave her again. Can he get past her defenses? Can she trust him?

Denise Hunter is one of my favorite authors. I've also read her The Convenient Groom and enjoyed this one just as much! It was a easy read and I had no trouble getting pulled into the story. I found similarities between Kate (The Convenient Groom)and Shay. Both find themselves temporarily married to a man they don't want to be married to. Despite Kate and Shay's misgivings, I liked both Travis and Lucas (The Convenient Groom).Both only wanted to help the women they were married to and I thought them both sweet. This is part of Denise's "Big Sky Romance" series. I've also read A Cowboy's Touch and it was fun to revisit those characters as they appeared in this book. Great read!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.

You can buy the book from Amazon or learn more from her website.

Monday, February 6, 2012

daniel fast

I don't know your take on fasting but my personal belief is that if you're needing God to do something, fasting is one way to make that happen. Sometimes fasting brings breakthroughs that nothing else can. So, since I'm needing certain things to happen in my life, I'm beginning another Daniel Fast from February 7 through the 28. With this being a leap year, I thought it would be really cool to end my fast on the 29th. I feel like it's this extra day and what better way to celebrate than eating the things I've not had for the last 21 days? I did this fast last summer for the first time and feel a little bit more prepared. I'm working on actually planning out menus instead of searching the cabinets for anything I'm allowed to eat (not a good idea :).

I purchased The Daniel Fast by Susan Gregory - it's a devotional but also full of recipes. She also has a blog which is how I first heard about her. If you've never done something like this before, it will definitely test you. I like breads and dairy and meat and chocolate and caffeine and giving all of that up is not easy. But there are times when you realize what you need to happen in your life is more than eating yummy foods. If you've done this fast before, what are some recipes you would recommend? I'll be sharing ones I've found to be successful over the next few weeks (fyi, tofu is icky - I learned that lesson last year). I'm really excited about being able to tell what God did during this process!

If you're looking for more resources, here are some sites:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

saturday spotlight: desiree with "the 36th avenue"

I found out about The 36th Avenue through a recent post from Today's Creative Blog. She has some AMAZING stuff on her site! She is super talented and has just tons of ideas! Look at this yarn lampshade she made:

Or these chore charts. How cool is that?

What I really love is her slogan: "be extraordinary." She has tons of tutorials on how to make about a million things (maybe not a million but a whole lot). Head over to her site and see all the great stuff she has going on!

Friday, February 3, 2012

diy: felt flower hair clips

I think flowers as accessories for your hair are just super cute. They're fun and the possibilities are endless. While walking through the my local Hobby Lobby, I became inspired to make my own hair clips. The scrapbooking section has an AMAZING selection of flowers for such a project. They had some I might buy later on that were probably six inches wide. They were in a jar and I think had about ten different colors - plus they were polka dotted. This took me less than ten minutes to make and I spent under five dollars (using my weekly 40% off coupon).

I bought a pack of six flowers and a bag of assorted size clips. The clips were $2 for eight and the flowers were $4 (without a coupon).

I needed to mount the flowers onto a base since making a cluster. I had some felt that I cut out and then arranged the flowers on it. I put hot glue in the center of each flower and then attached to the felt.

I then flipped it over and glued the clip. Once it dried, I placed a smaller piece of felt inside the clip and glued it down - just for reinforcement.

And here you go, I was able to make two clips. You could even just use one or two - whatever you want.

*This post is part of "Get Your Craft On! Tuesday" hosted by Today's Creative Blog!