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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

book review: "mornings with Jesus" & giveaway


'"Be still and know that I am God” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that —“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. For those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives."
I was excited to be able to review this book! I’ve read works by several of the authors so it was very cool to be able to peek into their hearts as they shared. With it only being January, I’ve not read very much of the book but I have no doubt the rest is full of great stuff! The devotionals are only a page – great for reading on your way out the door in the morning and then “munching on” for the rest of the day. The one that has stood out to me the most is by Camy Tang. It was for January 29 and she talked about making the choice to be faithful in the things you put your hands to. Those things will be different for each of us but her point was to prove yourself faithful to God and He’ll bless you for it. The verse was Matthew 25:21 (parable about the three stewards) and she made this comment: “None of these things [the things God has given her – job, family, working with her youth ministry, etc.] requires gold so I never equated them with the things the master talks about in the parable. But then I realized that he didn’t specify gold. He praised the servant for being faithful with a few things.” That’s something I’m going to work on – being faithful with what God has given me and giving all of my focus and energy into those things. These are great women to learn from and I look forward to the rest of the year!
You can read other reviews in this blog tour or buy the book.
I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review.
Plus, Litfuse sent me an extra copy to give away! This is my February giveaway. To enter, just leave me a comment along with an email address so I can contact you. For extra entries, become a follower of my blog (+1 entry), tell me how you heard about this giveaway (+1 entry) and leave a comment on any of my other posts (+1 entry). Contest ends Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.

Monday, January 30, 2012

finish year update - january

So this about wraps up month one of me working on my finish year goals. I'm excited to say I've made progress on some of my goals and here's what I've been up to:

2. Submit 2 posts to (in)courage. I've submitted one and already have the idea for the second but haven't had a chance to put it all together. I'm still waiting on a response for when they'll use my submission but am excited about it!
4. Read all of my review books. I've read four books so far and am almost finished with a fifth one. I'm putting some things on hold until I can get through my stack so I'm hoping that's motivation.
- The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
- The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter
- Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland
- The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Scalf Linamen
5. Do a random act of kindness twice a month. I slacked off a little on this by only putting down one ARK (has anybody seen "Evan Almighty" to get that reference?). I made chocolate chip cookie dough truffles for my coworkers - though I ended up eating the majority :)
6. Listen to one podcast/sermon a month. I've been able to listen to eight messages in a series my pastor did a while back.
7. Complete 5 DIY projects. I finished my first one yesterday! I've been wanting a new journal to use to take notes for church but couldn't find one that I really liked so I made one!


8. Comment on one blog a week. I've done pretty good with this one. I'm keeping track by pasting the links in a draft email just so I can see where all I've been.
10. Go to 5 events to meet new people. I think I met this one by attending training to become an election official. It's something that I was presented with the opportunity to be a part of so I went. I didn't know anyone so I think that counts :)

What about you? How are your Finish Year goals coming? It's not too late to start now!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

saturday spotlight: elisabeth with "poppy and pinecone"

I accidentally gave ya'll a sneak peek at the spotlight for today on Thursday when this posted. Just act surprised for me, k?

I heard about the Poppy and Pinecone's etsy shop from Nest of Posies. She has some super creative stuff - and reasonably priced. She has quotes as well as states and country pictures as well. Take a look at her "World Love:"

Go check out her shop! I'm sure you'll find something that you'll like :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

book review: "love out loud" by joyce meyer


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:



FaithWords (November 2, 2011)



***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than eighty inspirational books, including The Secret to True Happiness, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings, as well as a complete video library. Joyce’s Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit the author's website. Visit the author's twitter. Visit the author's Facebook.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." - Luke10:27



If one had to choose a single verse in the Bible that is a formula for successful living, this would be the one to live by, says Joyce Meyer: love God, yourself and others - in that order.



Many Christians get mixed up about love. They know they should love God and others, but many do not understand that loving oneself is one-third of God's equation. They mistakenly think of it as selfishness or self-aggrandizement.



Joyce Meyer believes that this misconception is one of the greatest pitfalls in the Christian journey. Loving oneself in a balanced, healthy manner is essential in order to have healthy relationships with God, ourselves and others.



Drawing upon her previous work and teaching series as well as original devotions, the author of Power Thoughts examines the three loves that we've been commanded to exhibit.


Product Details:


  • List Price: $16.99

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: FaithWords (November 2, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446538477

ISBN-13: 978-0446538473



AND NOW...Press the Browse Button to Read THE FIRST CHAPTER:








My thoughts: I've read several of Joyce's other books and devotionals and am always excited to read what she publishes. While I haven't come across something super profound each day, there's something to take from each devotional - with some "super profound" ones sprinkled throughout. I'm right now reading her The Confident Woman and Hearing from God Each Morning so Love Out Loud compliments them quite nicely. It helps drive the point home when I come across the same message for the day in each book, days apart from each other. One devotional that stands out to me is titled "What Do You Want?" and it talks about being hungry for God - wanting it more than anything else. I've only been working my way through the book since the beginning of the year but I'm excited at what she'll be sharing for the rest of the year.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

book review: "the girl in the gatehouse" by julie klassen


"Banished from the only home she's ever known, Mariah Aubrey hides herself away in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative's estate. There she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how - by writing novels in secret.

When Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. But there are many things he doesn't know about this beguiling outcast. Will he risk his plans - and his heart - for a woman shadowed by scandal?"

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book but once I did, I enjoyed it! I felt like there were a lot of names at times, making it hard for me to remember who everyone was but it didn't take away from the story. This was a longer book than most (391 pages) so it gave me the time I needed to get to know the characters and get into it before reaching that point only to have the story almost finished. I'll admit, my two favorite phrases now are "dash it" and "thunder and turf." Both struck me as funny and I laughed out loud each time a character said either. I thought Julie did a great job of fleshing out the characters - even those with minor roles. She weaved a few twists into the story, leaving me satisfied when I finally finished the book.

You can buy the book from Amazon and learn more from Julie's website.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

(in)courage (in)spired review: dayspring cards & giveaway


(In)courage is one of my favorite sites. They have so many great things available to encourage women in their everyday walk. Each month they feature a different (in)spired deal where you can request the product and review it on your blog. How fabulous is that? So I participated this month and received some great stuff from Dayspring, a partner of (in)courage. They sent me a pack of "So True" cards, ranging from friendship to birthdays to "hang in there." I also received a box of thank you cards and was surprised with a "I Will Bless You" accordion organizer. I've already passed one of the cards along to a friend and I love the look of them! They have a vintage feel to them and are just super cute. I have plans for who to give a few others to and the rest I'll be keeping for the right moment. I've not ordered anything from Dayspring before but they have some really great stuff - everything from home decor to jewelry to stationary.

Plus, I get to give away a $20 credit to Dayspring (shipping charges will apply and order must be over $20)! To enter, go over to their site and tell me what you'd love to use the credit towards! Leave an e-mail address so I can contact you. Contest ends February 8 at 8:00 p.m. For extra entries become a follower of my blog (+1 entry), tell me how you heard about the giveaway (+1 entry) or comment on any of my other posts (+1 entry).

I received these products from Dayspring for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

book review: "the chocolate diaries" by karen scalf linamen


"Karen Linamen dishes up a satisfying blend of moxie and mocha, sharing stories from dozens of women who reveal savvy strategies for embracing a sweeter life - even while traveling rocky roads. If you're hungry for more joy, reasons to laugh again, ideas to help you heal, and reliable hope leading to a sweeter future, this journey will leave you satisfied."

The title is what grabbed my attention - being a lover of chocolate and all. I thought the chocolate recipes at the end of each chapter were definitely inspiring. The book was an overall good read though I had it in my mind it would be a little more uplifting than it was. All of the stories were encouraging but I just felt the mood was a little less positive than I would have liked. The story that stood out to me the most was about Karen's friend who made a habit of paying for the people behind her in the drive-thru line. I've done this a few times and have made it a goal of doing it more this year and the feeling is absolutely amazing! Just wondering what's running through the other person's mind? It's a rare thing to have a complete stranger pay for your food. I liked how short each chapter was (about ten pages), making it easy to read a few chapters in a sitting.

I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Press for my honest review.

Monday, January 23, 2012

book review: Common English Bible & giveaway


"Known for being "built on common ground," the Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible's original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages into 21st century English. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are currently in print. It's also available online and in digital formats."

I like the small-ness of the Bible. It's the perfect size to carry with you without being too heavy, yet still easy to read. I immediately highlighted on of my favorite verses as soon as I opened it, eager to see the difference in the translation. It's Jeremiah 29:11-13: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me." I love how the Message adds "I'll make sure you won't be disappointed" at the end of verse 13 but I like the CEB as well. I don't feel like it reads vastly different than the translations I'm used to but there are a few differences which is the whole point. I enjoy comparing how different translations all say the same thing but in different ways. I like how one will focus on something completely different than another. This is a great Bible to help you delve deeper into the Word of God.

I received a free copy of the CEB from The B & B Media Group and the CEB people giving me a chance to give a copy away! To enter to win a CEB softcover edition, just leave a comment, and e-mail address, telling me your favorite Bible verse. For extra entries, become a follower of my blog (+1 entry), tell me how you found out about this giveaway (+1 entry) or comment on any of my other posts (+1 entry). Contest is for U.S. residents only (CEB rules) and ends on Tuesday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m.

Resources:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

saturday spotlight: mel with "the crafty scientist"

I've only recently discovered Mel's blog but I'm very excited about what I've seen so far. She has some AMAZING ideas! Just look at these pendants!

Please go look around her blog! She has a post on how to make a paper cone wreath plus lots of other really cool projects!

Friday, January 20, 2012

recipe: s'more cupcakes


I couldn't find where I posted this before but I just made these and will hopefully be able to spare you from making the same mistakes I did. The cupcakes are still edible but they didn't turn out as I hoped. My original plan was to make giant cupcakes. This meant I wouldn't be able to use liners but I didn't think it would matter. I was wrong. I'm not sure if I underbaked the cupcakes or overbaked them. Either way they didn't want to come out of the pan without a fight. As a result, I spooned out the pieces and put them in a container. I know have a massive pile of s'more-y yumminess - it just doesn't look all that pretty. I had doubled the recipe since I was making bigger cupcakes. After the first pan not working out, I still had enough batter to make 12 normal size cupcakes (and I used liners). However, I still didn't get the time right. I thought they weren't done after 15 minutes and left them in for a little longer. When I checked on them again, they had run out of the liners. I pulled them out and let them cool. I was able to get them out of the pan but they don't look like Bakerella's. I'll add the extra marshmallow and chocolate right before serving them but I'm determined to get it right next time. I wonder if I didn't add enough of the graham cracker batter? Again, now I know what to do differently next time. There are several parts to this recipe - it's not one to try and make it a rush. You can go to Bakerella's site for picture-by-picture instructions.

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup oil
6 jumbo marshmallows cut in half, plus more for decorating

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Ganache
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter

"Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk. Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined. Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.

Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping. Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface. Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with more topping mixture.

Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath when you bake just in case. I had a little bit ooze over into the oven. Oops.

This recipe will make at least 12 cupcakes. I had a some batter from each left over so you can probably get more like 14-16.

Let cool and top with ganache.

Heat the butter and cream on the stove. Heat until just before it boils. Remove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour over cupcakes and add more marshmallows if you desire."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

book review: "love blooms in winter" by lori copeland


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 (January 1, 2012)


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




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.




1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.



Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.












Product Details:

    • List Price: $13.99

    • Paperback: 304 pages

    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

    • Language: English

    • ISBN-10: 0736930191

    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192





AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:








Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892


The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.


“Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”


“Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.


“That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”


Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.


Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”


She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”


The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.


But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.


Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”


Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.


“Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”


“Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”


“Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.


“The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”


“Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s CafĂ©, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.


With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.


After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.


Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”


“How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”


Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.


How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.


“She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”


The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”


“Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.


Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”


Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.


The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.


Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.


She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.


Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.


Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.


Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.


In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.


Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”


Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.


A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.


Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”


The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.


“Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.


“Oh, Pauline!”



My thoughts: I'm a Lori Copeland fan so I was excited to read this! While I enjoyed the story, I have other titles of hers that I've liked better. I just felt like it was missing something to completely pull me in. I liked Mae and Tom but maybe I feel as if there was a lot of building up to them admitting their feelings before all the loose ends had to be tied. I did think the ending was very cute when Tom used the telegraph to propose...in a roundabout way :) Overall, a good read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

starbucks

I'm wanting to be deliberate this year. In everything I do, I want to be deliberate. One of my goals for 2012 is to do random acts of kindness for others. Maybe it's giving someone a grocery card or a Starbucks card - some times it might be a sacrifice while others I won't even miss the money. The whole point is to take the focus off of me and sow into someone else. It was very cool to read about this very idea in The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Scalf Linamen. Karen talks about her friend who once a week would pay for the car behind her in the drive-thru at Starbucks. I don't know if you've ever done this but there's such a feeling of excitement that comes over you when you pay for a stranger's food! "...it gave Ronlyn a renewed sense of hope. Even though she was still living in her private quarters of stress and hurt, she had discovered a window to a happier world. And the more she created happiness for others, the more she found the courage to believe that happiness could exist in her future too." Ronlyn even had the favor returned one day when she pulled up to the window only to be told her order was paid for! I want to make this a year of blessing others - constantly planting seeds so a harvest is always coming.

Monday, January 16, 2012

what i've been up to

I've been pretty crafty lately :) I've made several scarves and done a few diy projects.

Top right is a scarf I just finished. This didn't even take a whole skein to make. I used a 41 peg loom but only knitted on 18 of them. I used size 4 (5 oz.)"Sundrop" Caron yarn. Using the 5 oz. yarn on such a large loom makes it feel lightweight. Top left is a lanyard I made with the same yarn. I used a 25 peg loom but only knitted on 3 pegs. The yarn naturally folds - I'm thinking this would also make fun necklaces :) The length ended up being too long so I tied loose knots every few inches or so until it was the length I wanted. The two ends that you would normally weave back into the material I knotted around a key ring. I have to wear a badge for work so I'm going to clip it on the key ring there you have it :) Bottom right is a decorative piece. The feather-like things were used as centerpieces for a dinner I went to last month. They were giving them away so I took a few. I had an empty jar I put them in but it still needed something. I bought a bag of silver rocks to fill the jar with and it's now sitting on my bookshelf. Bottom left is my result of following a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough truffles.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

saturday spotlight: tristin and sharon with "two girls being crafty"

I found out about Two Girls Being Crafty from My Home Sweet Home and one of her re-cap posts. She showed this picture

of a tutorial on how to make this...and I knew I needed to know more about these girls! They have some super cool ideas - ideas I'm putting on my "I need to make this because it's so cool" list :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

voxbox december survey


Influenster is a site that mails you a free box of products in exchange for your honest review. It doesn't get any better than that :) I received my first box back in June and got another one last month. Here's what came in my box:

1. imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails (image source)
The design I received is called "TGIF." I absolutely LOVE the variety of designs! What I didn't like is that the nails don't come in different widths. I think most of them fit my nails except for the thumbs. These have glue already on them and you just pull off the backing before applying. To me, this made them not stick as well as applying the glue myself. These are great for a special occasion but not for everyday. I love how shiny the nails are. I like the product but not overly impressed with it. By going to the imPRESS site, you can print off a $1 coupon and try them for yourself.

2. Softsoap Coconut Scrub Bar Soap
I actually am using the Coconut Scrub body wash right now so it was fun to receive the bar soap. I normally buy whatever is the cheapest when it comes to bar soap but really like this one! I like how it lathers and doesn't have an overpowering coconut smell. I'd definitely buy this!

3. Mentos Pure Fresh Gum
I normally buy Orbit Wintermint gum. I liked the burst of mint when you first start chewing the Mentos gum. Like most gums, the flavor doesn't last all that long. I would put this on par with Orbit. I liked it but didn't think it super amazing.

4. LARABAR
I tried the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor but wasn't overly impressed. It had a unusual taste. If you're a fan of health bars then I'm sure you'd enjoy it but it wasn't for me.

5. New York Color Liquid Lip Shine
I was sent "Nude York City" and LOVE it! I love the subtle color and how shiny it is. It lasts a long time and I like the smell - sort of cinnamon-y. I would definitely buy this once I use it all!

6. Montagne Jeunesse Face Mask
I was sent a "Pulped Pomegranate" peel off mask. I prefer peels to those that you rinse off. I was very pleased with this product. It was thick enough to make me feel I was really covering my face and it was easy to peel off (I've used some that turned into a big mess). It left my face feeling clean and I'd definitely try it again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

as fast as she can

I don't normally watch How I Met Your Mother but I was flipping channels not too long ago and came in on the last few minutes. I watched this final scene of the episode and absolutely loved it! I apologize for the poor quality but it was hard to find just this clip. This can apply for anything you may be going through. Maybe you're waiting for the right job or a future spouse or waiting on the ability to have a baby or have enough money to go on a trip - whatever it may be. Take comfort in the fact that God's not forgotten you and has the most amazing plan for your life. Whatever you're believing for, it's coming...as fast as it can :) And if I can agree with you on your "whatever," you can either email me or leave a comment below. That whole "if two or more agree" thing...

Monday, January 9, 2012

knitty gritty: scarves

I showed some pictures the other day of the scarves I've recently made. In case you're a fellow knitter, here's the details for each:


2 skeins of size 6, "Pittsburgh Yellow" Lion Brand yarn. I used a 41 peg loom but only knitted on 15 of the pegs. I loved the thickness of the yarn.


Because I didn't go completely around the loom, I ended up with different patterns on each side of the scarf. I actually think the contrast looks pretty cool.

1 skein of size 4, "Aran Fleck" Red Heart yarn. I used 8 mm, size 11 needles and I think the scarf was 15 stitches (no more than 20).


I wanted to use the bigger needles to give the scarf a sort of messy look. However, my stitches were very loose when I first casted on and you can see the difference between that and the other end where I binded off. Again, I kind of think the difference adds something to it but it was a gift so I'm not the one wearing it :)


1 skein of size 4, "Frosty Green Fleck" Red Heart yarn. I used a 25 peg loom but only knitted on 24 of the pegs. I didn't want it to be completely closed off. Again, since I didn't use the whole loom, I have the different textures on each side. Using the whole skein makes it the perfect length to be able to wear in a slip knot without it being too short.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

saturday spotlight: kristen with "goodknit kisses"

Kristen has so many great ideas! I found out about her blog when I needed to learn how to bind off using a round loom. I came across her youtube channel and she totally saved the day for me! She has a knitting blog, free patterns, as well as other goodies. Look at this super cute hat she made! It's for a newborn but I'm thinking I want one too!

Friday, January 6, 2012

tweet of the week

"Hollywood paparazzi has absolutely nothing on parents of second graders at the Christmas performance." - Jon Acuff


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

book giveaway: "love food and live well" by chantell hobbs



Congratulations to Soham for winning my copy of The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell!

This month I'm giving away a copy of Love Food and Live Well by Chantel Hobbs. Contest will end on Tuesday, January 31 at 8:00 p.m. To enter, just leave me a comment along with an email address so I can contact you.

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

*Giveaways with the above logo are books that aren't new but still in really good condition.

Monday, January 2, 2012

finish year goals

I've been talking about Finish Year and am excited to share what I've come up with for the year. There are other things I want to accomplish beside this list but this is my top 12. I wanted to post a picture of goals because I used different fonts and just had fun with it but you can view it here. I printed it on bright yellow cardstock and want to put it in a black frame. I've got a notebook I'm going to write in as I accomplish these goals. I want to be able to look back and see how achieving these things affected me. Some are fun while some are really going to stretch me.

1. Revise current query letter & submit to 5 literary agents.
2. Submit 2 posts to (in)courage.
3. Knit a blanket.
4. Read all of my review books (I have 10-15 books on my shelf that I got behind on).
5. Do a random act of kindness twice a month (be it giving someone a grocery or gas card or paying for the person behind me in the drive-thru - just sowing into someone else).
6. Listen to one podcast/sermon a month – something to feed me spiritually.
7. Make 5 DIY projects.
8. Comment on one blog a week. If I want others to read my blog, I need to return the favor.
9. Write 50 thank you cards.
10. Go to 5 events to meet new people (maybe it's church related or not. It's just the chance to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends).
11. Put money in savings account each month – anything is more than nothing.
12. Lead 1 person to the Lord.