Wednesday, January 29, 2014

just write

I like to write. It's not something I've aggressively pursued but it's something that always there. I've never taken a writing class but the pull towards it is there. I've had two articles published in a small magazine and guest blogged a time or two but every time I try to get serious about it, I turn my focus to other things and it goes back on the shelf...again. But, since this is my year of finally, I'm working on changing that! I've started a board on Pinterest to keep up with tips and ideas along the way on this writing journey. And the one thing that I keep seeing is "just write." So that's what I'm going to do. I'm not thinking about the big picture but just writing. 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

book review: "the headmistress of rosemere" by sarah e. ladd

     At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away...but that man never came. And since her father's death, keeping the school running and her mother happy has been plenty to keep her occupied.
     William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors' henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to by Patience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn - but makes a point to learn more about the lovely headmistress. 
     As he spends more time at Rosemere, something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William's creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness. 

I really liked this book! As a teacher, I immediately felt a connection with Patience. I found myself unable to put the book down, needing to know what happened next. While there wasn't a lot of action, there was still a lot going on. And I liked watching William change, wanting to become a man deserving of Patience. It was a sweet story and my heart melted just a bit with the scenes between William and Emma.  I haven't read the first book in the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, but I'm adding it to my list! What I want to know now is how Cassandra's story continues and Lewis' - each main character's best friend. And even though he got on my nerves a bit by coming on to Patience so strongly, I'm curious about Ewan's story as well. I think a sequel to this book - and not just another in the series - might be in order :) 

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

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Monday, January 20, 2014

recipe: chocolate lasagna

This dessert is pretty awesome - so awesome I wasn't able to get a picture before the whole pan was gone! There are a few steps involved but it's pretty easy and it's no bake! You can click here to see the full recipe from Ashley at Center Cut Cook.

What you need:

  • 1 package Oreo cookies (not Double Stuff) 
  • 6 Tablespoon butter, melted 
  • 1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons cold milk 
  • 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided 
  • 2 – 3.9 ounce packages Chocolate Instant Pudding. 
  • 3 1/4 cups cold milk 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
What to do:
"Begin by crushing the Oreos and to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers. Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust. In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving."

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

book review: "let hope in" by pete wilson

     Hope changes everything. It can disarm guilt, shatter shame, and put your past in its place. All you have to do is make the choice to let it in. It won't be easy. It won't be quick. But it is possible and we serve a God who promises over and over again that anything is possible.
     Pete Wilson, pastor and the author of Plan B, presents a new look at the power of healing through hope, revealing 4 unique choices that have the potential to change your life forever. 
     With Wilson's telltale cadence and candor, Let Hope In explores accounts of seemingly hopeless moments in the Bible; illustrating God's ultimate plan for healing by letting hope fill the dark places of your past. 
     Discover how pain that is not transformed, becomes transferred. Embrace the freedom of being okay with not being okay. Learn that a life of trusting is far more magnificent than a life of pleasing. Because hurt people, hurt people, but free people have the power to free people.
     So make today the day that you get unstuck. The day you fill your past with the light of hope, the day you say good-bye to regret and shame. The day you choose to change your future and embrace who God created you to be, simply by making the choice to let hope in.   

I became a fan of Pete after reading Plan B. I loved the book and highlighted and placed post-its all through it! So I was super excited to have the opportunity to read this newest book, Let Hope In. I love the message of this book because I think we're all looking for hope. In one part of the book Pete talks about the difference between trusting in God and trying to constantly please Him. In pleasing Him, we're striving and striving and never feeling like we've done enough. "In Christianity, God actually shows up and says, "You've done enough. I got it. This is not about what you do; it's about what I did. I got it. Because in the midst of your not being good enough, in the midst of your sin, I went ahead and paid the price." And along with hope is grace. Pete tells a story of a woman struggling to keep her second marriage intact but is unable to see she's merely repeating her past mistakes all over again. She was trying to do it all on her own and it wasn't working. "Grace is believing that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and we do not have to get it all together. It's not the absence of trouble but the presence of God. It's making contact with something unseen, way bigger that we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams. It's realizing the abyss of our past is no longer holding us back from God." I really enjoyed this book! 

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for my honest review.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

the secret is out!

One of my favorite things about Red Lobster is the biscuits! I don't know what makes them so amazing but wow, they just seem to melt in your mouth! I was in Walmart the other day and was super excited to find a giant display of this biscuit mix! I haven't made them yet but am looking forward to having Red Lobster amazingness without having to leave home :)

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

book review: "the dancing master" by julie klassen

     Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past. 
     Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul - and hidden sorrows of her own.
     Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master - a man her mother would never approve of - but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

I've read a few of Julie's other books and liked both the title and cover of this newest book. I liked the Valcourts - and the relationship between Alec and his sister - and some of the other secondary characters but didn't really connect with Julia. I had a hard time getting through the book...until about chapter fifteen or so. I feel like that's when things started to pick up and questions started having answers. Julie surprised me with a few twists and charming scenes but overall, not one of my of favorite stories - it just felt slow to me. I thought the town of Beaworthy sounded lovely and I couldn't help but imagine the sight of everyone dancing on May Day as I read the final pages. Even though the Epilogue didn't address it, I'd like to think that Amelia and John Desmond - spoiler alert - did eventually marry, thus making him Julia's father...finally :) Though I wasn't immediately pulled into the story, The Dancing Master ended up being a pretty good read. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can learn more about the book by clicking here

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Monday, January 6, 2014

one word

With a new year I'm thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2014. I've made goals in prior years and at first tackled them and made all kinds of progress! But then, pretty much once February arrived, I started slacking until finally...I'd abandoned the goals I had put such great thought into. I don't want to do that this year. So I'm taking this snow day to figure out my focus for the year. Single Roots had a blog post today about a movement called One Word 365. Instead of having a list of good-intention goals, choose just one word that can be what drives and directs you for the year. So my word? Finally. I'm deciding to take off the shelf things I've thought about doing and finally get around to doing them! I think one of the most dangerous words is "someday." I'll write that book...someday. I'll get out of debt...someday. I'll take that leap...someday. So no more someday! This is the year of finally!

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

book review: "the governess of highland hall" by carrie turansky

     Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents' financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn't sure what to make of the estate's preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.
     Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin's two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from financial ruin. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith. 
     While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families - common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia's steadfast heart over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall's future?

What got my attention with this book is that Julia was a missionary. Having returned from my own short-term missions trip prior to requesting this book, that was still very much on my mind. I thought the story line to be interesting but didn't love the book. I tend to like more of a romance focus and I'm finding a lack of that in several of the historical fiction books I've read lately. I liked watching William and Julia's relationship slowly grow but just wanted a bit more between them. But I thought it very sweet to read William going after Julia and attempting to propose before finally blurting, "Blast! I'm not doing this very well. Not as the governess. As my wife." And I liked the secondary romance between Sarah and Dalton. They seemed to have more of the romance I was looking for with William and Julia. I liked the different characters in the story and didn't feel there were too many that I was constantly having to remember who was who. I think everything came together nicely for a pretty good read.

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

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

mustache makeovers!

I don't know if you're part of the mustache fad that's currently...everywhere...but I think it's fun! And when I found out there was mustache duck tape, I knew there were projects just waiting to be created! I've posted two other mustache makeovers a while back but these are some of the things I've been doing while on Christmas break :) 

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