Friday, July 31, 2009
Have you gotten any of yours yet?? No?? What are you waiting for?! :-)
Now, the hard part...which candy bars to choose. :-) I'm leaning toward Dove bars...or maybe M&M's...Milky Way Midnight is pretty delish, too.... choices, choices! ;-)
Tags: chocolate FREE Chocolate coupons chocolate coupons free coupons free chocolate coupons Real Chocolate Relief Act Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act
I am the first to admit that I don't diet. I hate the thought of something or someone dictating what I eat.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I developed gestational diabetes and had to follow a *gasp* DIET. Ended up having to follow the GD routine during my third pregnancy, too.
I was recently given this book to borrow, and although I wasn't initially interested, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry is a fun book!
Full of information and written in an easy-to-read style filled with plenty of humor, the book would inspire anyone to cook a bit more healthily!
Some examples of the recipes (and humor) are: Rome on the Range (delicious spaghetti and meatball sauce) and Jamaican Me Hungry (yummy grilled chicken).
Eat, Shrink & Be Merry also debunks many food myths and mysteries with the "Fat or Fiction," "E-files," and "Pop Quizine" columns throughout the book.
Healthy cooking and eating doesn't really mean bland rice cakes and bowls of tossed salad without any salad dressing for the rest of your life.
If I had to dislike anything about the book it would be the lack of pictures of the finished recipes. I enjoy cookbooks with pictures, don't you?? The picture itself is what often inspires me to read the recipe! Eat, Shrink & Be Merry only has one picture per food category (appetizers, soups, side dishes, etc).
So, aside from the photo absence, if you get the chance to pick up a copy of the Podleski sisters' book or check it out at your local library, I think you just may start cooking up a healthy meal or two!
Click here to check out Sweet Kitchen's take on Janet & Greta's chicken wings.
Tags: Janet & Greta Podleski Eat, Shrink & Be Merry cookbooks healthy cooking book reviews nutrition eating healthy Janet Podleski Greta Podleski
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I just finished another novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Where the Heart Leads.
Where the Heart Leads is the story of grown-up Thomas Ollenburger, whom you meet in Kim's previous book, Waiting for Summer's Return. (The family characters are repeated, but the two books can be read independently of each other).
Thomas has finally completed his college education in Boston and returns home to Kansas, unsure of his direction in life.
Young, selfish Daphne Severt holds much of his heart in Boston. The other part of his heart longs to please his father and stay in Kansas and also wonders at the drastic change in his old classmate, Belinda Schmidt.
Oh, how I would love to share more of the story with you. But, this one's a hard one!! Even my closing thoughts on the book could give the ending away...and I don't want to do that!!!
I loved that Kim Vogel Sawyer's lead character was a male. Few books with a (I would assume) mainly female audience are written from that perspective. I found it very refreshing and interesting!
The entire novel was fresh and different! A young man with two young women tugging at his heart. If you're like me, you'll probably...ooh! can't say!! If I do, you'll know Thomas ends up where with who! :-)
I highly recommend Where the Heart Leads. Kim easily wove the Gospel into her story and showed how Christ can change lives when one allows Him.
I'm so glad I have finally had a chance to read some of Sawyer's books. As mentioned in a previous post, I already have a couple of her other books circled in my CBD fiction catalog. I believe she will become one of my often-read authors! You know the ones -- those authors that you anxiously await a new book to come out of!!
So, if you're looking for a new book to read, check out Where the Heart Leads or Waiting for Summer's Return!
352 pages by Bethany House.
Tags: Kim Vogel Sawyer Where the Heart Leads Christian fiction Mennonite book reviews Kansas Ollenburger
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
There is something so hearty and filling about a good breakfast! This casserole is one of my husband's favorite dishes. Even though we have it monthly, the ingredients always change...so, it's never the same dish every month!
This casserole is a good base recipe. As Rachael Ray often says, "It's a method, not a recipe." You can adjust the ingredients to your family's likes and dislikes.
In a lightly greased square baking dish, place a layer of cooked, cubed potatoes, about 4-5 medium (you can also use storebought shredded or cubed hashbrowns). Be sure to salt and season!
(TIP: I tend to overcook my potatoes when I boil them. :-( So, I now bake them in the microwave - or oven!! For this dish, wash 4-5 medium potatoes. Pierce 5-6 times with a fork and place on a paper towel in your microwave. Cook on high 4-5 minutes. Turn potatoes and cook an additional 4 minutes or until a fork inserts easily. Let cool - or even refrigerate overnight! - then peel and cube... or grate for a nice change! I also use the microwave to cook my potatoes for potato salad!) Check out Janelle's great ideas for using leftover baked potatoes!
Change it up! Don't have time to fuss with potatoes?! Use leftover salad croutons! Our family prefers potatoes, but croutons are another variation!
Now comes the fun part!! I often schedule this casserole after HAM, so I can use up leftovers. Tonight's casserole consists of layering onions, ham, and shredded cheese:
You are limited only by your imagination! Onions, peppers, mushrooms, sausage, ham, bacon...whatever your family loves! Hot sauce, salsa...delicious possibilities are endless!
Now, beat together 3 eggs and 1 cup of milk (don't forget to salt and season):
Pour into casserole dish:
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until top is puffed and golden and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
(This time can vary greatly!! Depending on how many ingredients you use. When I've used frozen green peppers, the added liquid increased my cooking time. I've had this casserole take as long as 1 hr 15 min - keep this in mind for prep and finish time!)
Tags: breakfast egg casserole breakfast casserole eggs egg recipes baked potatoes breakfast for dinner
We didn't quite know what to say or how to help. Only with the Lord's help did we get through those difficult weeks, but a book such as this may have offered insight into the confusing and heartbreaking world of cancer.
Mr. Murphey's appendix is meant to be the most practical part of the book. "He's witnessed too many situations where genuinely caring people had no idea what to do, so he has tried to give a few general guidelines," such as what to do before you offer help, what you can do now, and handling the possible long-term care of this horrible disease.
From the author, Cecil Murphey:
When Shirley walked in from the garage, she didn't have to say a word: I read the diagnosis in her eyes. I grabbed her and held her tightly for several seconds. When I released her, she didn't cry. The unshed tears glistened, but that was all.
I felt emotionally paralyzed and helpless, and I couldn't understand my reaction. After all, I was a professional. As a former pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain I had been around many cancer patients. I'd seen people at their lowest and most vulnerable. As a writing instructor, I helped one woman write her cancer-survival book. Shirley and I had been caregivers for Shirley's older sister for months before she died of colon cancer.
All of that happened before cancer became personal to me--before my wife learned she needed a mastectomy. To make it worse, Shirley was in the high-risk category because most of her blood relatives had died of some form of cancer. Years earlier, she had jokingly said, "In our family we grow things."
In the days after the diagnosis and before her surgery, I went to a local bookstore and to the public library. I found dozens of accounts, usually by women, about their battle and survival. I pushed aside the novels that ended in a person's death. A few books contained medical or technical information. I searched on-line and garnered useful information--but I found nothing that spoke to me on how to cope with the possible loss of the person I loved most in this world.
Our story ends happily: Shirley has started her tenth year as a cancer survivor. Not only am I grateful, but I remember my pain and confusion during those days. That concerns me enough to reach out to others who also feel helpless as they watch a loved one face the serious diagnosis of cancer.
That's why I wrote When Someone You Love Has Cancer. I want to encourage relatives and friends and also to offer practical suggestions as they stay at the side of those they love. The appendix offers specific things for them to do and not to do--and much of that information came about because of the way people reacted around us.
It's a terrible situation for anyone to have cancer; it's a heavy burden for us who deeply love those with cancer.
Leaving a comment on this post will enter you into a drawing for a gift basket ($300 retail value), which includes When Someone You Love Has Cancer as well as other books and cds, from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications (KCWC). Winner will be chosen by KCWC from all blogs participating in Mr. Murphey's blog tour.
Monday, July 27, 2009
You know, one of those days where your not-quite-18-month old:*
...drags the wet, dirty mop all over your recently shampooed, once clean carpet
...presses so many buttons on the TV and/or DVD player that now the picture is black and white and you have NO idea how to get the color back
...writes in your borrowed book
...knocks a pop can only 3 inches to the floor, but today, because it is "that" day, the pop can splits and you hear ppssssssssssssssstttttttttttttsssssssssssssssss as soda sprays and puddles all over your kitchen floor and brand new white cabinets
...dumps a whole package of q-tips on the bathroom floor
...then proceeds to drag the nasty wet toilet brush through the pile
...leaves a drool-soaked apple jack on the floor for you to step barefooted upon
...finds it fascinating when milk drips out of his sister's cup all over his Tonka dump truck, so proceeds to give it a sticky, smelly, milky shower
You haven't?? Well, then you won't need the following recipe.
But, if you've ever even had HALF that kind of day (and I'd appreciate anyone admitting it so that my mom confidence isn't severely wounded, only bruised), the Thick 'n Fudgy Triple-Chocolate Pudding Cake is about the only thing that may bring you some relief and glimpse back into sanity.
*based on actual events occurring in one 24-hour period; how did all of this happen? where was the mother, you ask?...you obviously do not have, nor haven't had a curious little 1 1/2 year old!
I found this recipe in Best of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Desserts (Thanks, S, did you know I was still borrowing it? :-) ). The cake was true to its name:
Thick. Fudgy. Triple-chocolately!
It was sooo good. It was exactly what I needed after my one-of-those days!
I love making the Hot Fudge Pudding Cake in the Betty Crocker cookbook, and this recipe was similar...only doctored up and better! ;-)
I didn't have the exact ingredients, so my notations are in red.
Thick 'n Fudgy Triple-Chocolate Pudding Cake
1 box (15.8 oz) double chocolate premium brownie mix with chocolate syrup (I just used a regular 9x13 size brownie mix and added 1/3 cup chocolate syrup)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee granules (I only had regular instant coffee)
1 cup chocolate fudge creamy ready-to-spread frosting (from 1-lb container)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9- or 8- inch square pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix brownie mix and baking powder. Stir in milk, butter, vanilla, and chocolate syrup from packet in brownie mix. Spread batter in pan.
In 2-quart saucepan, heat water to boiling. Add espresso granules; stir to dissolve. Add frosting; cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. (I did all of this in the microwave; heat water in a 4-cup microwave-safe measuring cup to boiling and then add coffee. Once dissolved, add frosting and stir - carefully - to melt. The water should stay plenty hot enough to quickly melt the frosting). Slowly pour over batter in pan. DO NOT STIR.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are bubbly and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan (top may appear shiny in spots). Cool 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream. Store cake in refrigerator.
Recommend: OH YES :-D
Tags: chocolate pudding cake recipes Pillsbury Bake Off Pillsbury Bake Off recipes Pillsbury Bake Off 2000 Best of the Pillsbury Bake Off Desserts chocolate
Saturday, July 25, 2009
This Honey Mustard Chicken recipe was in a recent TOH email newsletter I received. Since I had all of the ingredients, and split chicken breasts were on my menu...I made it.
The chicken was moist and the honey mustard crust was very tasty. The whole family loved it and I will definitely make it again!
Honey Mustard Chicken
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. mustard
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 chicken drumsticks
6 bone-in chicken thighs
For sauce, in a small bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Set aside 1/2 cup for serving. Place chicken in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan; brush with remaining sauce.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180° and chicken juices run clear, basting occasionally with pan juices. Warm reserved sauce; serve with chicken. Yield: 6
*Since I used bone-in whole chicken breasts, my cooking time was longer - almost an hour and a half.*
Here's a simple, but delicious Roasted Chicken recipe from Anneliese. I think the smell of chicken roasting in the oven is absolutely heavenly...as is bread baking...and brownies...and... :-)
And, I really want to try Kristen's super easy Chicken Curry and homemade Naan, don't you DAD??
Tags: recipes chicken recipes Honey Mustard Chicken Honey Mustard Chicken recipe Taste of Home Roast Chicken Roasted Chicken
Friday, July 24, 2009
Sarah Dobbs is not a typical mail-order bride. Given the cold shoulder after a riding accident gives her a limping gait and then shunned after her parents' shameful death, Sarah cannot abide living where she is no longer welcome.
Taking her 2 year old sister with her, Sarah arrives in Texas to find that her groom has been murdered.
Clay Canfield, the murdered groom's brother, brings Sarah to the family ranch until she is able to make plans to go back home. He is unprepared for Sarah's declaration that she will not be leaving Texas.
As Sarah begins to make her new home and Clay searches for his brother's killer, will they both realize that Sarah was always meant to be the Canfield bride?
This is Amanda Cabot's first book in her Texas Dreams series. This is also the first time I have ever heard of her. The back of Paper Roses says that Amanda is published under several pen names, so perhaps I have read other books by her...?
I thought that the book was well-written and had some surprising twists. If you enjoy prairie/west type books, I think this will be a good author to try out!
I can't find any info as to when book two will be released. I'm excited to see if it will continue Sarah and Clay's story or someone new altogether. I'd like to know more about Isabelle...
Tags: Amanda Cabot Paper Roses Christian fiction Texas Dreams Trilogy book reviews
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My blog isn't anything big....I'm not a "real" blogger. I'd never heard of them. It must be spam, I thought.
So, skeptical me researched Ecostore USA before deleting or replying.
Turns out, Ecostore has been around for almost 20 years - in New Zealand. Just recently, however, a large chain of stores in the USA Midwest, Meijers, has begun carrying Ecostore products.
As you may have guessed from the name, Ecostore is a "green" company, focused on making products that are made from plant- and mineral- based ingredients, free of toxic chemicals.
Although I don't consider myself "green," I'm not opposed to using a product that uses less (or no) chemicals...as long as it works! So, I was willing to try out one or two of Ecostore's products.
Ecostore USA sent me their Citrus Spray Cleaner and Baby Moisturizer.
I put the citrus spray to work right away. Two small children = a long day filled with messes of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of stickiness.
The cleaner worked well and I didn't seem to have to use as much as my regular (quite toxic, I'm sure) cleaner. When I first read the ingredient list:
D-Limonene (zest of citrus peel), palm and coconut based non-ionic and anionic surfactants, etc....
Ahhh, I believed the smell would be divine. The drudgery of the actual cleaning chore would fade as the heavenly scent of oranges and tropical coconuts would transport me to exotic places. Cleaning wouldn't be so bad anymore...
**sound of needle scratching across record playing enchanting Hawaiian music**
Nope. I didn't think it smelled very pleasant. Certainly wasn't citrus-y or coconut-y.
True, most chemically toxic cleaners smell so strongly that your eyes water. I just thought this natural cleaner would smell better... Perhaps we can't have everything.
As for the Baby Moisturizer,
...my daughter wouldn't let me near her to apply the moisturizer. My son only stays still long enough to shovel Spaghetti-O's into his mouth. I didn't think it was wise to test moisturizer in the midst of his feeding session.
No problem, I had planned to try it out on myself.
My hands get very dry and I'm always looking for another lotion that might help them! I also knew that something made for baby would be gentle, whether I used it on myself or my children.
The moisturizer was not greasy and left my skin feeling very soft and smooth. The cream did help soothe the dry, cracked skin on my thumb, and I think if I used it faithfully for a week or more, I would definitely see a difference.
The smell...hm. What is it with the smell?? I do not like strong smelling anything. I really detest flowery perfumes. I am a light, fruity scented kind of gal.
Ecostore's Baby Moisturizer was neither flowery nor fruity. In all honesty, I thought it smelled a bit like bug spray. I would preferred it had no scent at all.
I would use it again...but, I couldn't imagine the sweet bundle of a baby smelling like that?
Now, lest you think I'm being negative. I'm not. Smell is very subjective. And, both the Citrus Cleaner and the Baby Moisturizer worked quite well.
If finding a company that is committed to providing you with green products is important to you, then I believe you would be quite happy with Ecostore USA. They offer everything from cleaning products to pet products to bath and body products.
Check out EcostoreUSA's blog and sign up for their "No Nasty Chemicals" newsletter! You can also find ecostoreusa on Twitter and Facebook!
Now, for a little blog giveaway!
Ecostore USA wants YOU to have a chance to try their products, too! Ecostore USA is giving away a $25 gift certificate to their store!
How to enter:
- visit Ecostore USA and then leave a comment on this post, telling me which product(s) you'd buy with your $25 and why
- follow my blog (or subscribe via a feed or reader) and leave a comment telling me so
- leave me a comment telling me why or why not "green" is important to you
- blog about this giveaway, then leave me a link to your post
- tweet or facebook Ecostore's giveaway, and leave me a comment letting me know you did
Tags: Ecostore USA ecostoreusa blog giveaway green cleaning products going green blog contest
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
...that I actually completed is my first ever quilt:
I found the "How to Make a Quilt in a Weekend" instructions in 1996 in an August issue of Woman's Day. I ripped it out and put it in my where-can-I-put-this-so-I'll-remember-where-it-is-someday-because-this-looks-fun-to-make file and there it sat.
For 2 years.
(Hey, that's pretty good. I've got stuff in that "file" that has been there for forever. ;-) I don't even know what good ideas are in there anymore that I'm supposed to be having fun with...lol)!
The summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I decided to tackle the quilt project!
The hardest part of the entire project was picking out the fabric. I knew I wanted greens and burgundys, but it was still so difficult to narrow a whole wall full of colorful bolts down to only 6 somewhat coordinated pleasing choices.
(And, contrary to what I initially thought, fabric is NOT cheap!! Be prepared to plunk down a pretty penny for most of it!! Or...start watching for sales or remnants and pick up the pieces gradually; although, that makes it a bit harder to match and coordinate if you're as picky as I am).
The back of the quilt is just a sheet.
The quilt graced my dormitory bed for my junior and senior years and then found a home on the guest room bed, after I got married. We no longer have a guest room, so the quilt now stays folded up in a rubbermaid tub to be used on the pull-out sofa bed whenever company does arrive.
Overall, I was so pleased with my first quilt. It took me a little longer than a weekend, but the instructions were easy to follow and really, the whole project was pretty simple.
If you can cut and sew a straight seam, you can make this quilt! Here are the instructions:
*if you'd like the .pdf file emailed to you, just drop me a note! I'll be glad to send them on!*
I hope to start gathering some bright pinks, purples, and greens to make this same quilt for my little girl's room.
I couldn't believe that Jen posted about her quilt yesterday as I was working on my quilt post!! Check out her "I Spy" quilt...it's really fun!
Tags: quilt instructions quilting sewing projects how to sew a quilt how to make a quilt quilt patterns around the world quilt
Monday, July 20, 2009
I don’t believe you have to read the Red River of the North series first… I didn’t (although, I’m planning to…and, I’m sure it would clarify the history of some of the family members).
Book 1, A Promise for Ellie, focuses on the love life of Ellie Wold and Andrew Bjorklund. Andrew’s father requests, without explanation, that the young couple wait a few months longer to marry than originally planned.
Frustrated with the restriction and everyone around him, Andrew must learn to work through his anger during the waiting period, which brings about its own set of troubles.
In Sophie’s Dilemma, Sophie convinces Hamre Bjorklund to ignore her father’s decision and elope.
Sophie’s rebellion causes heartache to her family and especially herself, when she realizes life with an absent fisherman husband was not what she’d romantically imagined.
When her situation becomes such that she feels she has no choice but return to Blessing, Sophie is unsure of her welcome or how her heart could ever heal.
Grace Knutson’s story is told in book 3 of Daughters of Blessing. Grace, born deaf, is the polar opposite of her twin sister, Sophie. Quiet and steady, Grace loves her home and family and has no desire to ever leave.
Fearing rumors of his son’s lifestyle, wealthy New Yorker, Mr. Gould, sends Jonathan to Blessing for a summer of farm labor. Surprisingly, Jonathan enjoys the hard work and the feeling of community.
But Jonathan wonders if farming is truly what he loves…or is it just the nearness of Grace? What would his father say if he chose farming over his father's plans for his future? And dear, sweet Grace? Would she ever meet the standards of his affluent family, especially his mother’s?
In the final book, Rebecca’s Reward, young Rebecca is dreaming of love…with no available prospects. Two overly protective brothers aren’t helping matters, either.
Jumping at the chance to visit her cousin in Bismarck, Rebecca is soon second guessing many of her hopes and dreams. Will she ever find love and true happiness?
I enjoyed these books. They weren’t in the can’t-put-down department, but they were nice, pleasant stories. I thought that book 3, A Touch of Grace, was the most enjoyable.
I am looking forward to reading the six books in Lauraine’s Red River of the North series to learn more about Ingeborg’s life.
I am also glad to see that Lauraine has written another book, this time about Astrid!! I kept hoping through all 4 books that more would be said about her! A Measure of Mercy will be released at the end of September.
Published by Bethany House.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We haven't had a garden for at least 5 years and finally had the time, space, and opportunity this year. Neither my husband nor I are "gardeners" in any sense of the word, though. I think I'm too much like Little Red Hen's friends...I want the reward, not the work! :-)
Who knew a garden could grow so many weeds?!!
Aside from the weeds, I was fearful nothing would grow due to our recent move and the increase of "critter" sightings. Not just sightings...evidence.
All but 2 stalks of my corn have been eaten (I soooo wanted fresh corn!!) :-(
At least 1/3 of my pepper plants were snacked on...
And over 1/2 of my bean plants were devoured...
...but, still, I was able to harvest a handful of green beans (fresh-from-the-garden-green-beans are one of my favorite things!!) and a few sprigs of basil:
I steamed the green beans and added just a bit of butter and freshly cracked black pepper...yum. It was the best lunch I've had in a loong time! ;-) I was so happy.
Now, what to do with the basil...?
Tags: green beans gardening garden harvest harvesting your garden fresh produce How Does Your Garden Grow
Place first 9 ingredients in bread machine per manufacturer's instructions. Select dough cycle. When cycle is complete, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead/shape into loaf and place into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled.
Beat together egg and water and gently brush over loaf. Sprinkle with rolled oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.