Friday, March 30, 2012

Above all else...

I definitely need this reminder often...sometimes hourly!

(Lol, as a side note, I just noticed the "b" is missing from Proverbs.) :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Super Easy Fettuccine Alfredo

For one of my bridal shower gifts, I received an envelope of recipes that my friends had compiled, full of favorites they wanted to pass on to me as a soon to be newlywed.

This fettuccine alfredo was one of them, and is always a treat when I get a chance to make it.

I love how simple it is to throw together, and I usually have the ingredients right on hand.

All you need is:

-1 pound fettuccine noodles, cooked
-8 ounces cream cheese
-1 stick butter
-i cup milk
-3/4 cup parmesan cheese


Melt cream cheese and butter in sauce pan. Next, add milk plus parmesan cheese, and stir till well combined. Finally, pour sauce over fettuccine pasta, and you're done!

If you want to make it more hearty, you can also add cooked broccoli or chunks of cooked chicken as well. I also like to season my alfredo to taste with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.

Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Falling for the Fireman by Allie Pleiter

I recently won a copy of this book on a blog giveaway, and was looking forward to receiving it, especially as I've never read anything from the "Love Inspired" collection of inspirational fiction before.

Here's a summary of the story:

There's something achingly familiar about the look in fire marshal Chad Owens's eyes. Widowed mom Jeannie Nelworth knows firsthand what it is: loss, hurt and yes—bitterness. Ever since the fire that changed their lives, Jeannie's young son has borne that same look, pushing everyone away. So she's grateful when Chad tries to get through to the boy with the help of his trusty fire station dog.

But the man who's all about safety and prevention keeps himself protected—from loving and losing again. Seems as if Jeannie will have to add his kind, guarded heart to her rebuilding efforts.

I think Falling for the Fireman is a lovely novel, and I enjoyed getting to know the characters Allie created. For a shorter story, she does a great job of keeping the plot thoroughly cohesive and involving.

Chad and Jeannie are very likeable and their gradual romance sweet to witness, especially after what they've gone through in the past. Jeannie's son, Nick, also adds some nice tension to the story, as he continues to struggle with the aftermath of losing his dad in a house fire. His actions seem consistent with those of a typical thirteen year old, and the ways he tries to cope by acting out, made me feel for him.

The issues Allie brings to light in this book are important ones that don't get covered all the time, so I commend her for handling the subjects here sensitively and honestly. It's nice to see that a shorter length novel doesn't have to necessarily mean "fluff only" reading, but, in case you're wondering,  there are still lighter moments in here as well.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first venture into the Love Inspired line and look forward to reading more from this author.

Friday, March 23, 2012

You know you're a history fan when...

I do this all the time.

Also, quite possibly I...

Wonder what it would be like to have Daniel Day Lewis' Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans corner me by the nearest waterfall and utter: 

"You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you."

(Picture included for your sighing pleasure. Although, sadly, the actual hug is not.)


If you're contemplating rolling your eyes at me, go ahead. :)

Despite my silly musings, I really do love history-and not just the kind that includes stoic, fit, men covered in leather.

But, no, I won't lie; that is a plus.

Honestly, I'm always astounded that what we read in books has actually occurred, and that what's happening right now will someday be considered future history.

Kinda weird, but cool, right?

If you're a history fan/buff, do you have a favorite era, well known figure, event, etc. that intrigues you? And if you could go back in time, what period would you choose?

I find the 1920's fascinating, and think I'd love the big bands, bobs, and flapper dresses. But maybe not all the violent gangsters so much. Native American history totally intrigues me, so I'd love to observe their customs, rituals, etc. Also, the 1700's/Revolutionary War era is another favorite of mine.

On a shallower final note, if there ever is a Last of the Mohicans-the sequel-with Daniel Day Lewis, I'll happily stand in for Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Peachy Delight!

This is a recipe I've had in my binder for a while, and one that I tend to pull out every summer. 

I love peaches, so this cool, refreshing, dessert is one of my favorites in warm weather...

Here are the directions to make this peachy delight:

 -1/2 box yellow cake mix
-3/4 cup melted butter
-1 pound of peaches, sliced and sweetened (can use canned or fresh)
-2 cups sour cream
-1/4 cup sugar
-3 egg yolks
-cinnamon to taste

Combine cake mix and butter in bowl and stir well. Spread in bottom of lightly greased 9 by 13 pan. Layer peaches over top. Blend sour cream, sugar, and egg yolks in bowl, then spoon over peaches. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until set. Refrigerate until cool.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

I wasn't sure what to expect from Sixty Acres and a Bride, but what I discovered was a talented debut author who has crafted a truly engaging novel!

Regina Jennings caught my attention from the first page, and continued to hold it throughout this loose re-telling of the biblical Ruth and Naomi story.

The prologue starts out like this:

At an hour when every other God fearing woman of Caldwell County was either elbowing her snoring husband or sleeping undisturbed in her spinster bed, Rosa found herself sneaking toward a barn that was not her own. She was a trespasser whose goal was to get caught-a terrified stalker whose prey held her future in his hands...

Intriguing, right?

And here's the plot:

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future? 

As I said, this story really grabbed me, and kept me turning the pages. It's been a while since I stayed up till 5:00 am finishing a book, but this one made me do just that. I was totally caught up in the world Regina created and didn't want to leave. One of my favorite scenes included a spicy dance between Rosa and an unwilling Weston-lots of sparks and great dialogue ensued! I really felt the chemistry between these characters and couldn't wait to see what would happen next in their growing awareness toward each other.

I was also pleasantly surprised by Rosa, and really grew to fall in love with her generous spirit, work ethic, determination, and passion.  What a fun, original, female character-and I appreciated that she embodied a different culture than the typical Texan. I also loved that Regina included Rosa's realistic misunderstanding of certain American phrases, etc. and thought that made for some uniquely humorous/dramatic situations.

And Weston...While he was definitely flawed, there were also some pretty wonderful traits there as well; which endeared him to more than just one lady... Sigh.

So many things to love about Sixty Acres and a Bride, but you'll have to find out for yourself when you grab a copy. Regina Jennings has gotten herself a new fan here, and I look forward to reading the next book in her series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yogurt drops

I saw these fun little things on Pinterest and thought I'd share!

Now that it's getting warmer, it's perfect weather for light snacks and lots of fruit, right?

(Ok, we should be eating light snacks and lots of fruit all the time; but you get the picture.) :)

Anyhow, these are so simple to make, I can't believe I never thought to do them before!

All you have to do is follow the picture tutorial, and you're set. Frozen yogurt drops in about an hour.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Winner of Miracle for Jen by Linda Barrick

Thank you to everyone who entered my book giveaway this week.

I really appreciate each of you taking the time to stop by and leave a comment!


Congrats! I'll be emailing you to get your address, etc. I hope you really enjoy Miracle for Jen. :)

(Winner was chosen by

P.S. I'll be having another giveaway next month, so take heart, those of you who didn't snag a copy of this book. If you like C.S. Lewis, you'll definitely want to check out what's coming up... :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hangry much?

I always knew there had to be a word for this condition, so imagine my relief when I came across it.

On a pillow, no less.

You know the one I mean.

It can come upon you more suddenly than a leaping mountain lion, and twice as ferocious.

You feel the grumbling of your stomach intensify, just as an unearthly roar comes out of your mouth to match it.  Before you have time to think, the word vomit just continues to spew out, frothing, and unstoppable.

And the unlucky person who happens to be the unassuming recipient (most often of the male variety) stares as if you've turned into a full fledged monster.

And perhaps you have.

Because, gasp, the hangry beast has taken over.

And won't stop until it's fed.

Who knew our stomachs were so connected to that little anger trigger in our head?  Or that lack of food could set it off so easily?

(Or that morphing into The Hulk doesn't just happen to Lou Ferrigno?)

Blessedly, the cure is pretty straightforward and doesn't require expensive pills to treat. The nearest Tim Hortons can tame the wildest hanger craving in mere minutes, leaving us relieved to feel semi in control of our faculties once more.

And thankful for the excuse to chow down on fattening doghnuts.

(But that is for another post entirely...)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall

I've previously read several of Cindy Woodsmall's books and have really enjoyed them.

Her full length novels are a bit more "meaty" and cover more in depth issues, while she also writes shorter length stories as well.

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is more of a novella, which doesn't allow quite as much time for story arcs, character development, etc.

Here's the plot:

Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.

But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn.

Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm?

While the main storyline revolves around Annie and Aden's romance, I actually found myself more drawn to and interested in Aden's older brother, Roman. I thought Cindy did a great job with his character, making him very three dimensional and likable, despite the frustrations he faces. I wanted to read more about him and find out what would happen to him in the future. Possible sequel? :)

For some reason, I just had a hard time truly investing in Annie and Aden's relationship and really believing they shared a deep connection. I guess I felt more like it was stated they were in love, rather than my actually feeling it. I didn't get the "spark" of attraction they supposedly had for each other, even though I wanted to. I will commend Cindy for being willing to give both Aden and Roman physical, as well as mental, limitations to overcome on their individual road to happiness. That added a sense of realism to the story.

In short, I did find The Scent of Cherry Blossoms to be a sweet, thoughtful, book though it's not my favorite by this author.

(And I would definitely read a continuation of Roman's story!)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Book review and giveaway of Miracle for Jen by Linda Barrick

I'm so excited to be giving away a copy of Miracle for Jen to one lucky reader!

But before I go into any more detail, here's a trailer for the book:

And the synopsis:

On the night of November 5, 2006, the Barrick family was driving home from church when their van was struck by a drunk driver. Fifteen-year-old Jen suffered multiple skull fractures and severe brain trauma and was not expected to survive the night. But against all odds, she did. As she lingered in a coma, doctors warned that if Jen ever woke up, she would be cursing and screaming in confusion due to her brain injuries. Instead, after five weeks she opened her eyes and began praying and praising God. Jen didn’t remember her middle name, recognize her parents, or recall that she had a little brother—but she remembered Jesus and every word to every praise song and scripture she had hidden in her heart before the accident. As any loving mother would, Jen’s mother Linda wanted God to heal Jen—make her like she was before. Normal. But a loving God had something else in mind—instead of making her normal, God is making Jennifer—and the whole Barrick family—extraordinary, miraculous. Miracle for Jen is the remarkable true story of a family who overcame tragedy and learned to trust God's plan for their lives in a whole new way.

I finished reading Miracle for Jen about two weeks ago, but the story has stuck with me since then.

One of the things that truly impressed me most, is Jen's fervent heart for God.

There's a bible verse in Luke that says, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

After the accident, Jen didn't recall most of the outward details that define a person. Yet, her spirit remembered the most important thing of all. Because she had already been storing up scripture, praise songs, and prayers, they flowed from the abundance of her heart, despite lack of previous memories.

It made me think seriously about what would come out of my heart and mouth should I be in a similar circumstance. It challenged me to take a good look at myself and ask "how can I live more for Christ?"

And it also encouraged me to realize  how God can take the most seemingly hopeless of situations and turn them around for His ultimate glory. Yes, Jen's life will never be the same as before, but she has accepted that and embraced the role God has called her to, despite daily limitations, pain, and frustration.

There are many other insights to be gleaned from Jen's story, as told through her mother, Linda's, eyes. Through her perspective, we understand her heart break of exchanging the daughter she once had, for the new Jen with a completely different personality.

I could definitely relate with her struggles, and thought she expressed herself well. The writing style was engaging, keeping me turning the pages to find out where Jen's story was headed. I also enjoyed that Linda included quite a few of her daughter's journal entries, which really gave us glimpses inside Jen's thoughts, before and after the accident.

In short, I found Miracle for Jen to be moving and powerful; a story I won't soon forget.


To enter for your chance to win a copy of Miracle for Jen, simply leave a comment below in the comment section, with your email included, so I can contact the winner for their mailing address. This drawing will be open for a week, so you have plenty of time to join, and I'll be announcing the results next Friday, March 16th.

As a way of saying thank you, I'll award a bonus entry to anyone that already is a follower, or decides to start, following my blog. 

(I'll only be accepting entries within the U.S.)

Thanks so much for stopping by!

As a disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I also received a certificate for one complimentary copy of this book to be given to the winner of this giveaway.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My happy spots...

Do you have a favorite place, somewhere that you'd call your "happy spot?"

I love libraries.

Something about the serenity, atmosphere, and stacks of bookshelves waiting to be explored, fills me with delight.

I just feel at home around books, I suppose, so it makes sense that I'd enjoy a building full of them.

Barnes and Noble is another favorite hang out of mine.

Which is why:

I've gotten better about window, or rather chair shopping, but it's still a struggle for me to leave totally empty handed.

Especially if one of my favorite authors has just released a new book.

(Oh, the torture!)

But, on the bright side:

An all you can read buffet in heaven?

Ok, probably not; but it makes me smile. :)

What are some of your happy spots?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Applesauce cookies with caramel frosting

We recently had a recipe exchange at church and I decided to bring these cookies, which I found on Pinterest!

(Again, love that site.)

I had never had applesauce cookies until I met my husband and he introduced me to them. I couldn't find his recipe, so I decided to try this one; and was very pleased with the results!

(Plus the caramel frosting was an added bonus...) :)

I also used chunky applesauce, instead of regular, so that's an option if you want bits of apple in your cookies.


Applesauce cookies with caramel frosting

Monday, March 05, 2012

Do you get MMG?

Ok, so maybe you can relate to this unhappy little boy who has one hand slapped over his right eye, leaving the other free for intense, prolonged, glaring.

What's he channeling death rays at? Why, Monday morning, of course.

(Before I say any more, if you find this behavior overly odd, then I wholeheartedly suggest you stop reading now.)

In general, mornings and I don't have the best track record. We've never really gotten along, despite a few half hearted attempts at civility. While I've grown better at masking my animosity, sometimes I still can't totally control my reactions.

(They've been known to include: muttering, groaning, possessive cover clutching, fist shaking, and eye slapping-as seen above. (Except it's not so cute on an adult.)

But I have at last acknowledged a diagnoses for these unsavory behaviors.

Monday + morning + dysfunctional relationship=MMG.

All right, in plain english, I have Monday Morning Grumpiness. Normally it's just regular MG, but Mondays are extra special, so I'm giving them due respect.

(I have to say, it was my sister who sweetly informed me of my "morning grumpiness" condition, so I can't take all the credit.)

Anyway, I've been slowly working on my "issues" and can now say with utter sincerity that...

Yeah, I still don't like Monday morning. We're not best buds-possibly nodding acquaintances-but I can tolerate them more when I realize it's simply their lot in life to be the bad guy almost no one likes.

(Again, if you're part of the MM admiration society, please disregard everything I've just said and happily continue on your merry way.)

In other words, Monday got stuck with the short end of the straw, while Friday perpetually has the cool end of the totem pole.

I have a heart. I like to root for the underdog. Admittedly, a little sigh escapes my throat every time I watch Napoleon Dynamite channel his inner LaFawnduh for two groovy, on stage, minutes.

So if I put MM in that category, it helps the tiniest bit. MM is just doing its job. MM is not out to get me.

MM does not have to equal MMG.

Maybe I should give it a break and move onto Friday instead.

FMG anyone?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Cauliflower Casserole

This is one of my favorite casseroles...especially good on a cold winter night.

(I've even gotten non-cauliflower lovers to eat (and enjoy) this dish!)

So whether you're normally a veggie fan, or not, give the Cauliflower Casserole recipe a try.

Happy eating! :)
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