Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Tomato Life Saver...and maybe yours, too!!

My garden did extremely well this year, and I was just about in tears over my tomato situation. I had so many and the job seemed endless. A good friend told me about her Victorio Strainer. I'd never heard of or seen one...but, when I saw it in action, I had to have one! 

If you are a serious canner - or plan to be, see if your mom or grandmother or great aunt has one collecting dust in the basement: then GET IT. Beg them for it. 

If not, BUY ONE HERE. It is worth every cent! I halve my tomatoes to make them easier to smoosh in the hopper, but there is no need to blanch, skin, core, seed, etc piles upon piles of tomatoes. Yippee!

You place the tomatoes in the hopper (notice...the blossom ends are still on!), turn the handle, and the seeds/skin/blossoms shoot out one side and the pulp and juice drain out the other! Ahhh-mazing! 

The strainer makes easy-peasy (and QUICK!) work of pureeing your tomatoes. Obviously, if you want diced tomatoes or salsa, well... get to blanching and dicing! ;-) But, for getting the perfect start to things like your spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, or ketchup the Victorio Strainer is the way to go! My yield was also much larger, as I didn't realize how much juice I wasted in skinning and seeding on my own. 

I am so glad I discovered this wonderful time-saving device! I'm no longer dreading a bountiful harvest! Bring on a bigger garden next year! ;-)

And, ooooh! There are additional screens!! A berry screen (can we say crystal-clear, seedless jelly?!), a pumpkin screen (can your own smoooooooth pumpkin for pies, cakes, cookies!), a grape screen (I have grapes in my hedges!!), and a salsa screen (nom, nom!).

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**DISCLOSURE: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The product mentioned above is a personal favorite that I wanted to share with my readers. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof

Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

I haven’t read too many stories set in Appalachia, but, the few that I have, draw me in right from the start. I’m not sure if it’s the hills, the foggy mornings, or the bare feet, but I enjoy the Christy/Walton-ish style that’s different than most Christian fiction out there.

Be Still My Soul starts right off with a shotgun wedding and keeps rolling from there. Lonnie is such an easy character to love and empathize with. You will alternately cheer and pity her throughout the entire book. Gideon, who obviously needs to grow up, was hard to fully dislike, despite his ladies’ man reputation.

The book leads you through more than the average first-year ups and downs of this thrown-together couple, and dear Jeb and Elsie round out the story to perfection. Joanne’s writing is smooth and placed me right on Elsie’s porch snappin’ beans.

Lonnie is described as having a ‘quiet’ faith, so a scriptural theme isn’t really as developed as it could be when Gideon ‘wakes up’ to his responsibility and realizes what is important, but I still really enjoyed the story.

Be Still My Soul was definitely one of those I-wish-there-was-more kind of books. Not in the-story-wasn’t-finished kind of way, but wishing I could see how the characters continue growing and changing... and what might happen next. Apparently, Be Still My Soul is the first book in The Cadence of Grace series, so I wonder if we’ll hear more of Lonnie and Gideon... I hope so! Book 2, Though My Heart is Torn, is slated for publication in April 2013.

Great job on your first book, Joanne!

AND FOR YOU, a peek into the book:
You can read an excerpt of Be Still My Soul HERE.

Thank you to Joanne and Blogging for Books for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Touching the Sky by Tracie Peterson

Aack! Forgetting a scheduled book review and letting blogger post a blank post. Hm, yep, that's what (a very crazy busy) summer does to you!! *blush*

Ok, let's fix it! :-)

I had the chance, through Bethany House Book Reviewers, to read Touching the Sky by Tracie Peterson, book 2 in her Land of the Lone Star series.

I enjoy reading chronological series, but it's also nice to have books that aren't, so that you can read them in any order! I'm not sure how book 3 will be, but 1 and 2 don't have any recurring characters, so read whichever one you can get your hands on!

Just like Chasing the Sun, Touching the Sky has a sweet Texan romance amid post-Civil War bitterness (one of my favorite time periods)!

I really liked Esther and her explanation of 'touching the sky,' and Laura's eagerness to educate black people, despite social opposition.

Historical fiction is the genre I enjoy most, and Tracie is one of those authors that does it well. She successfully combines a good balance of research, history, and fiction (don't forget the romance!) to equal an enjoyable read.

AND FOR YOU, a peek into the book:
Touching the Sky

Thank you to Tracie and Bethany House for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**
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