Monday, November 26, 2012

A Home in Drayton Valley - A Book Review

A Home in Drayton Valley by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a well written christian romance story that touches on some difficult subjects.  Within the pages of the book you will read about alcoholism,  gambling and racial prejudice, but you'll also read about faith, love and forgiveness.

The book starts out in New York City where you find Tarsie, a young women with no family of her own, caring for Mary, her husband Joss and their two small children.  Mary's health is bad and Joss has a gambling and drinking problem, but that does not keep Mary from dreaming of a better life in Drayton Valley.  After Joss gets himself into trouble over a gambling debt, Mary is able to convince him to travel by wagon train to Drayton Valley.  She convince Joss that Tarsie must go with them.   Along the trail tragedy strikes and before Mary dies she asks Tarsie to take care and love her children, she also asks her to show God's love to Joss and take care of him as well.

After Mary dies, Tarsie convinces Joss to marry her and fulfill Mary's dream.  Once in Drayton Valley, Joss has a plan of his own, but much to his dismay the only work he can find is in a vineyard, where he has to work under the orders of a Simon, a black man with a great faith in God.   As Tarsie continues to pray for Joss and show him the love of God, she realizes that another kind of love has grown in her heart for this man.  Will Joss's hatred, drinking problem and grief for his wife Mary ruin the chance of happiness he now has?

This story had several twists and turns in it and that kept it interesting and unlike a lot of the christian fiction books I read.  It was a pleasure to read about a life reformed and a God work in the lives of the people that are trusting in Him.  A delightful read indeed!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Living Life to the Fullest - My Bucket List

After much thought, soul searching and dreaming I have finally completed my bucket list.  I'm sure it will continue to grow as new dreams are born, but for now these are my dreams, my hopes and my desires.  I realize that I will probably never accomplish everything on my list, but hey, if you are going to dream, you might as well dream big.  For me it is all about living life to the fullest and if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon that will be okay, as long as at the end of my days I can look back and see that I loved deeply, laughed hard and let God's light shine through me, then yes I will say my life was a life well lived!

In no particular order here is my list:

  1.  Participate in a marathon.
  2.  Wash my hair in the rain.
  3.  Sleep under the stars all night (no tent).
  4.  Pay for a random strangers meal at a restaurant and keep it a secret.
  5.  Become a grandma.
  6.  Lead someone (lots of someones) to Jesus.
  7.  Own and fix up a vintage camper.
  8.  Bowl a Turkey (3 strikes in a row).
  9.  Learn to fly fish.
 10.  Become fluent in sign language.
 11.  Dance in the rain like no one is watching (hope no one is).
 12.  Go snorkeling.
 13.  See the Grand Canyon.
 14.  See Niagara Falls
 15.  Visit the Holy Land and walk where Jesus walked.
 16.  Visit the Smithsonian
 17.  See the Statue of Liberty
 18.  Learn to say no without feeling guilty.
 19.  Write separate letters to my children telling them what I want them to know about me, the life lessons I've learned and how much they are loved.
 20.  Live in a white house with a white picket fence and a few chickens in the backyard.
 21.  Eat lobster while wearing a plastic bib with a big red lobster on the front of it.
 22.  Lose those extra pounds and achieve my goal weight.
 23.  Help an elderly person load their groceries in to their car.
 24.  Walk barefoot along the beach by the light of the moon.
 25.  Take a spontaneous road trip.
 26.  Pursue laughter.  Laugh Daily.  Proverbs 17:22
 27.  Become a more positive person.
 28.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
 29.  Practice gratitude.
 30.  Live in the present.
 31.  Do something I love every day.
 32.  Learn CPR
 33.  Send Birthday cards by mail.
 34.  Buy a set of 1200 thread count of cotton sheets and sleep sweetly.
 35.  Make fire with a magnifying glass.
 36.  Keep a gratitude journal for a whole year.  I Thessalonians 5:18
 37.  Don't throw pity parties for myself.
 38.  Quit worrying about the future.
 39.  Stop overindulging.
 40.  Live a healthy life style.
 41.  View the Northern Lights.
 42.  Share my faith with others without ever saying a word.
 43.  Don't criticize or complain.  Instead Pray.
 44.  Be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  Romans 12:2
 45.  Cast down vain imaginations.  2 Corinthians 10:5
 46.  Speak in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Ephesians 5:19
 47.  Fill my mind with only good things.  Philippians 4:8
 48.  Rejoice always and pray without ceasing.  I Thessalonians 5:16-17
 49.  Do not allow corrupt talk to come from my mouth.  Ephesians 4:29
 50.  Take a nap in a hammock.
 51.  Carve my initials in a tree.
 52.  Go without television for 30 days.
 53.  Bury a time capsule.
 54.  Put a penny "heads up" on a sidewalk.
 55.  Visit Ground Zero.
 56.  Visit Pearl Harbor.
 57.  Help make someones dream come true.
 58.  Eat breakfast at Tiffany's in New York.
 59.  Learn to bake a perfect loaf of bread.
 60.  Visit Lancaster, PA
 61.  Worship without abandon.
 62.  Make sure the people I love know it.
 63.  Always believe and EXPECT miracles.
 64.  Be teachable.
 65.  Study integrity and humility and aspire to live a life committed to both.
 66.  Honor my seasons.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
 67.  Memorize one Bible verse a week.
 68.  Live 100% complaint free for 30 days.
 69.  Make a scrapbook of my life.
 70.  Celebrate the big and the little things.
 71.  Spend a day without talking and really listen to what others are saying.
 72.  Recycle
 73.  Never give up.
 74.  Follow through with everything I say.
 75.  Look people in the eye while having a conversation.
 76.  Plant a tree, bush or flower to celebrate a life event or as a memorial to mark an occasion.
 77.  Create a family recipe scrapbook.
 78.  Learn how to make balloon animals.
 79.  Learn the constellations and stargaze more.
 80.  Run through a field of wildflowers.
 81.  Learn to snowboard.
 82.  Create a reverse bucket list and write down my life accomplishments.
 83.  Run the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and have a "Rocky" moment.
 84.  Go to a drive in movie.
 85.  Go on a mission trip.
 86.  Visit Venice, Italy and ride in a gondola.
 87.  Visit Paris and see the Eiffel Tower.
 88.  Milk a cow.
 89.  Send a message in a bottle.
 90  Shop on Rodeo Drive.
 91.  Rescue a dog from an animal shelter.
 92.  Write down every happy memory I can remember so I will NEVER forget.
 93.  Become a vegetarian.
 94.  Use natural and herbal remedies and trust God more for healing.
 95.  Don't judge on appearances and find something good in everyone/thing.
 96.  Reflect Christ.
 97.  Spend less time on-line.
 98.  Manage my time wisely.
 99.  Watch the sunrise with someone I love.
100.  Live each day as if it is my last.  Love deeply.  Laugh hard.  Be thankful in ALL things.  Never forget where God has brought me from.  Praise Him in the good times and in the bad.  Give Hugs.  Smile lots.  Cry happy tears and enjoy life to the fullest!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Than a Bucket List - A Book Review

Earlier this year, my fourteen year old daughter convinced me to make a bucket list.  Since then I've really enjoyed adding things to my list and thinking on things that I would like to do during my lifetime.  When I had the opportunity to read and review More Than a Bucket List by Toni Birdsong I was so excited.  The book did not disappoint.  It is exactly what the title much more than a just a bucket list.

Toni Birdsong writes from a christian perspective and encourages Christians to accomplish the things they desire all for the glory of God.  There are things that she touches on that I never even considered adding to my bucket list, things such as pursuing laughter, living complaint free, practice gratitude and making sure the people you love know it.   She still includes the normal things you see on Bucket Lists such as visit Ground Zero, go on a safari, visit the Holy Land and so much more!  The book includes tons of Bible scriptures to encourage and show how God wants His children to live out their lives.  One of my favorite bucket list ideas that the author shared was to create a reverse bucket list.  Sometimes a Bucket List can be stressful and shines too bright of a light on the things you have yet to do, so why not write down your accomplishments in life up to this point?!      This book is full of creative things just like that.  It's all about living life to the fullest.  A life full of not only adventure, but of love, laughter and happiness!!  I would recommend this book to anyone who has a bucket list, wants to make a bucket list, or just wants to live their life to the fullest.  Hey!  I guess I'd recommend this book to everyone!

***This ebook was provided to me by the publisher through booksneeze in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas in Apple Ridge - A Book Review

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall is a three in one collection of stories that all center around the Christmas season.  If you are having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, pick up this book, snuggle under a warm cozy blanket and before long you'll find yourself in the Christmas mood.

I would have to rate Cindy Woodsmall as one of my favorite authors.  I have not read a book yet, that she has penned that I did not love!  She has a way of telling Amish stories that capture my heart every time.

The three novellas in this book all take place in Apple Ridge.   Although each story is about a new couple, the author gives you small glimpses into the lives of the couples from the previous stories.  I really enjoyed this aspect of it and it was interesting to see how all the families connected.

The first story is The Sound of Sleigh Bells.  In this sweet novella you will read about Beth and Jonah.  Beth is holding on to the guilt and secret of a past tragedy.   Jonah is a wood carver who was hurt in a sleighing accident when he was a young boy.  He seems to have wisdom beyond his years and when Lizzie, Beth's aunt meets Jonah she thinks that he could help Beth move on.  Lizzie devises a plan and Beth and Jonah begin writing letters to each other, both thinking they are writing to someone else.  When they find out who they are really writing to, will they be able to find the healing they both need?

The second story is The Christmas Singing.  After Mattie's heart it broken by her childhood sweetheart she moves away from Apple Ridge and becomes a cake decorator.  Three years pass and Mattie is forced to return home.  When she arrives back home she is surprised to see Gideon.  She begins to discover the truth to Gideon's rejection, but is it too late?  Will a future with him bring even more heartache?

The third story is The Dawn of Christmas.  After having her heart broken Sadie moves away from Apple ridge and devotes her life to missions, she is content with living her life alone, devoted to God.  After four years her Amish family insists she come home.  While home she meets Levi, a young man who, because of a family heartbreak, distrusts women.  Sadie and Levi devise a plan.  They want their families to quit pressuring them to find a spouse and they think if they spend time together it will cause their families to quit pressuring them.  Soon they find the walls they have built up around their hearts are breaking down.  Will they give into their feelings?

I'm sure you will enjoy getting to know the people of Apple Ridge as much as I did!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Menu Plan

Wow!   Not really sure what happened to October.  It flew by like a flash and here we are the first of November already!  Time for a new menu plan!  Same as last time....always subject to change and mixing it up a bit due to schedules AND Sunday is momma's day off!

1.  Chicken Tetrazzini
2.  Vegetable Soup
3.  Homemade Pizza
4.  Sunday's are always leftover days!!!
5.  Crock Pot Roast
6.  Pork chops and mushrooms
7.  Pannini's
8.  Tilapia
9.  French Dip Subs - Click HERE for Recipe
10.  Taco Bake - Click HERE for Recipe
11.  Momma's Day Off  WOOT!
12.  Stromboli - recipe coming soon.
13.  Chicken and Rice
14.  Chicken nuggets and fries
15.  Meatball Sliders
16.  Crock Pot Pizza
17.  Penne Noodles
18.  Leftover day
19.  Herb Roasted Chicken - Click HERE for Recipe
20.  Beans and Cornbread
21.  Chicken Kiev
23.  Beef Stew
24.  Taco Soup - recipe coming soon
25.  Left overs
26.  Chicken Fajitas
27.  Cafe Rio Chicken - Click HERE for Recipe
28.  Crock Pot Lemon Chicken - New recipe, I'll share if it's good. ;)
29.  Pizza Bread
30.  Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup