Sunday, April 28, 2013

May Clean-Up Habit (#6)

Alright...amazingly, it's already closing on the end of month 4 of 2013...month FOUR!  Time passes so fast :-(

And that means we are on our 6th Clean-Up Habit...we've learned to make our beds in the morning, we've started dusting two things a day, we are one month in on working on windows two times a week (so that one is slow going for me), we are slowly getting that laundry pile down and we are keeping at least one pile-up area picked what is in store for May?

Ok, this month, let's have a little fun. isn't fun for you?  ME EITHER.

However...I just recently cleaned up my whole laundry room, you remember the one...where I now use that awesome yet cheap detergent?  While I didn't paint the walls (we live in a log home so 2 walls are log, 2 are rough pine but not worth the paint), I got rid of cleaning supplies we don't use, organized the ones we do use, re-hung brooms and mops and cleaned off my dryer top completely...I even hung a curtain and a pretty framed art!  When you get to buy and re-purpose organization tools and pretty pictures, it not only improves your living space, it improves your attitude.  I now LOVE walking into my laundry room.  Seriously.  I told my hubby I wanted to sleep in there since it was now the only cleanly organized room in the house :-)
From junky walls and dryer to completely uncluttered!  My husband was amazed.

We have also been rearranging our bedrooms due to finally getting carpet upstairs and having an official 3rd bedroom...FINALLY!!!  And although we don't have the closet finished upstairs so things are still kind of misplaced, I am loving everyone having their own space.  So I'm all into organizing and trying to simplify our lives around the house right now.
The shelves came with the house which are nice for storage and now I can find things and get them down much easier.

As you have probably already surmised, our Clean Up Habit for April/May is to focus on either one or two rooms in your home (not at the same time!) OR several small spaces in your home that really need some organizing.  Granted, a lot of these types of things aren't always noticed right away, but you will feel the difference.  Whether it's cleaning out and re-organizing your kitchen cabinets, the laundry room, your pantry, under the bathroom sinks (if you have more than one), etc... get to it.  The dollar stores can help you do this cheaply, as can Target or Wally World.
Behind the door, the bar for tools was here when we moved in, suffice it to say, only a few rubber prongs actually held my brooms and such because of it's age.  So, I finally took that mess down and simply hung large hooks.  To the right, out of the picture is a space between our pantry cabinets and the wall where our breaker box is.  I used to keep a hamper there but now I have a smaller hamper for our plastic recycling.  No more dirty clothes piling up the in laundry room. I only take in there what is about to be washed. 

Get creative!  Search around your home for baskets, containers, things that can hold and organize other "things".  For example...after cleaning out under our main bathroom sink, I found a small toy/soap holding wire basket we had used for awhile...several years ago.  It's now hanging on my laundry room wall by the door holding our foil, wax paper, ziploc bag boxes for easy access.  You would think it was made for that! 
This is what I walk into everyday now, it's like a mini heaven :-)  And surprisingly, I have maintained it for almost 2 months now!  The basket on the window sill I found at Ross for $4.00 and it holds our batteries.  I also now have a basket much like that one but a bit larger (also from Ross for $5.00) on the dryer to hold kitchen rags.  I used to just throw them into the laundry room next to the hamper.  Now they are hidden but easy access for washing.

Feel free to share any photos of your organizing :-)  Now get to work! 

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When Jesus Wept - Book Review

When Jesus Wept is a really interesting telling of how Jesus, Lazarus, Mary and Martha might have actually met.  Lazaraus and his sisters are very important figures in the Bible but we have never had a lot of background on them.  This historical fiction creation fills in the those gaps in a rich way. 

The Thoene's use such vivid details you can picture the vinyards, the soldiers and even visualize Jesus's facial expressions as he speaks.  I enjoyed this book very much.  While I am not one who always enjoys books with a lot of extra details, I could see how they were very much needed to set every scene in this story.

I look forward to their second Jerusalem Chronicles story, while nothing ever replaces the actual bible story, it's always fun to imagine the details we are never told.

About the Book:

Book 1 in the Thoene's new Jerusalem Chronicles.
 Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus' ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament. Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more. 
Link to buy the book:         

Meet the Thoenes:

Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) are bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. The Thoenes have four grown children and eight grandchildren. They divide their time between Hawaii, London, and Nevada.
Find out more about Bodie and Brock at

Celebrate the release of When Jesus Wept with the Thoenes by entering their iPad Mini giveaway and RSVPing to their {4/23} Facebook Author Chat party!


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • A book club kit - 10 copies of When Jesus Wept
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "When Jesus Wept" Author Chat Party on 4/23. Connect with the Thoenes, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of When Jesus Wept and join Bodie and Brock on the evening of the April 23rd for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Blog Tour Schedule
Here is a link for the whole blog tour schedule!  If you have been enticed by my review, I encourage you to check out some others :-)

Disclosure : I received this book free from Standard Publishing through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions expressed above are my own.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Tales of the Defended Ones - Book Review

I loved this book...ok, I'm a little biased since we have a beautiful adopted son, but even if that weren't the case, I think this book would still have inspired love in my heart.

Beth shares 4 amazing stories of loss and love, plus some insight into her own family's adoption, that could only have been accomplished through the work of our Almighty Creator.  He weaves stories like no other can, stories that work into your heart and leave you with no doubt that He is in every single detail of our lives.  He is always in our lives, defending the innocent.

Tales of the Defended Ones is one of my favorite books I have reviewed.  While reading, it's like you are sitting and listening to Beth tell the stories.  Her writing is very visual and the photos she includes complete the pictures through her words.  I also enjoyed the small facts included in each chapter about the countries or customs in the areas where the stories were found.

About the Book:

Ben and Joseph lose their mothers, but find a family looking just for them. Antonio is rescued from what seems like a hopeless situation. Caitlyn dares to trust that truth will set her free. Jorani is delivered from slavery into the arms of grace.
Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to foreign places and extreme struggles. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver - our Defender God shielding and defending the defenseless in the amazing ways only he can.These are the tales of the ones left wounded and weak-ones made whole and strong . 
Purchase a copy: 

Meet Beth:

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Guckenberger travels and speaks regularly at women's and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. In addition to her children's releases in the Storyweaver series, Guckenberger has written two mission-minded books. She has also partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program. The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico. 
Find out more about Beth at

Beth Guckenberger is celebrating the release of her new book in the Storyweaver series, Tales of the Defended Ones, with an iPad giveaway and Facebook party {4/25}. 


 One fortunate winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Tales of the Defended Ones small group kit (books and DVD)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 24th. Winner will be announced at the "Storyweaver" Author Chat Party on April 25th. Beth will be chatting with guests, answering questions, and offering tips about beginning a dialog with children and youth about the orphans around the world, the basic needs of children living in poverty, and what we can all do to help. (It’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!) Beth will also be hosting a fun trivia contest and giving away tons of great stuff! (Gift certificates, books, and more!)

So grab your copy of Tales of the Defended Ones and join Beth and friends on the evening of the April 25th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 25th!

Blog Tour Schedule
Here is a link for the whole blog tour schedule!  If you have been enticed by my review, I encourage you to check out some others :-)

Disclosure : I received this book free from Standard Publishing through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions expressed above are my own.
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hidden in the Heart - Book Review

Claire is struggling in life and has a deep need to find her birth parents, to know that part of her history. She was adopted at birth and it was a closed adoption.  Her parents have never opened up about it to her, it's a hole in her heart that she continually tries to fill with other things.

I enjoyed this book.  As most of you know, we adopted (at birth) our sweet second son just 2 years ago.  Granted, while our adoption process is more open as are many these days, I could still sympathize with Claire and her family.  I was really able to feel for all of the characters on both sides and understand why they felt the way they did.  As a good friend of mine blogged about recently, you don't always think about the birthmom in these cases, whether she ever wants to be found. So many adults who were a part of closed adoptions are out there seeking their birth parents,but what if those parents don't want to look back?  Or do they all have a hole in their hearts as well, needing to be filled with the right thing?  These are questions I had not given much thought to until I read her blog post and this book. 

Catherine does a wonderful job developing the characters, you get angry at them, happy for them and you even want to be there pushing them in the right directions.  I did get a little tired of Claire's self-loathing behaviors and while I know that is true to many lives, it made a few pages seem too long to read.  I just wanted to tell her to get over herself!  Which her family had also been trying to do in the story.  However, that is a part of who Claire is and vital to the story.  I love that her husband is willing to fight for their marriage, that's not something you see or read a lot anymore. 

Even if you do not have any connections with adoptions, you will definitely enjoy this story.  It comes from Catherine's own background in a round about way, and is very well written.  There is a range of emotions that flows through the characters that will bind them to you as you read.   It is a beautiful story of grace, love and forgiveness.

About the Book:

Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach...
After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living.
Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price. With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from. But what if the woman who gave her life doesn't want to be found?
Hidden in the Heart has been nominated for a 2013 Grace Award and is on the long list for an INSPY award.
Link to buy the book         

Meet Catherine:

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, "Yesterday's Tomorrow", released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader's Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine's second novel, "Hidden in the Heart", released in September 2012. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. 
Learn more about Catherine by visiting her website:

Catherine West is celebrating with the Hidden in the Heart Kindle Fire Giveaway! Enter today.


One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • A copy of Hidden in the Heart and Yesterday's Tomorrow by Catherine West
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 21st. Winner will be announced on 4/23/13 at Catherine's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Blog Tour Schedule
Here is a link for the whole blog tour schedule!  If you have been enticed by my review, I encourage you to check out some others :-)

Disclosure : I received this book free from Standard Publishing through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions expressed above are my own.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Gospel Centered Woman - Book Review

The Gospel Centered Woman at it's core, is a Christian bible study book written for real women believers...those of us who deal with real life issues, which is all of us once we realize we won't ever be that perfect Proverbs 31 least in our fairy tale vision.  We need to focus on Jesus and his gospel and be his real believers.  

This is an in-depth study.  Instead of focusing on what women studies sometimes follow...our roles in our family, loving our spouses, respect...Wendy takes us through being a woman focused on Jesus's life, death and resurrection.  The simple, but sometimes hard to remember, truth.
This book was a good read, it was written in conversational style so it was easy to follow.  Because of this style, however, it was also dry in places in my opinion.  I like the premise of the book and she uses scripture to back the ideas and I think it would be less dry in a group setting with my bible study friends :-)  Wendy has definitely done her research and uses real-life examples.  I think I would be interested in trying another of her books to compare.

About the Book:
Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel
Many Christian books written to women claim to present God's good instructions for their lives. Some expound on the value of marriage and children. Many extol the virtues of the Proverbs 31 wife. A good number teach the value of love, submission, and respect in Christian marriages. Though this book deals with these topics, The Gospel-Centered Woman addresses women from an entirely different perspective. The most important part of the Bible's instructions to women center around the gospel. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection brought about a seismic shift in our understanding of Scripture. After His resurrection, His disciples understood words written thousands of years before with a clarity they never had previously. The good news of Christ illuminates all other Scripture, including instructions to women. 
Link to buy the book:

Meet Wendy:

Wendy Alsup is a wife, mom, and math teacher. She is the author of "Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives" and "By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity". 
Find out more about Wendy at 

Blog Tour Schedule
Here is a link for the whole blog tour schedule!  If you have been enticed by my review, I encourage you to check out some others :-)

Disclosure : I received this book free from Zondervan through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions expressed above are my own.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mozzarella Biscuits

Leftover biscuits aren't always a problem in a family full of boys who LOVE breakfast foods.  However, on school days, when it's just the teen, the toddler and myself, we do sometimes have leftover biscuits. 

Typically we just put them in a zip bag and let the toddler munch on them for awhile...or we give them to the dogs if they are still around in a couple of days. 

Last night, with our spaghetti dinner, I didn't get around to making any bread and granted, spaghetti is just one giant blob of carbs but there is just something in me that needs garlic bread with spaghetti.  So I got to thinkin...and the thinking actually turned out fairly decently...

Mozzarella Biscuits
Leftover biscuits
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 Tbs butter
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese

Cut biscuits in half and lay cut side up on baking sheet.  Put garlic and butter in a small bowl and melt in microwave.  Brush garlic butter onto biscuit halves.  Place mozzarella cheese on each biscuit half and sprinkle each with parmesan cheese.  Bake in moderate oven (around 300-325 degrees) until cheese is melted.  Serve!
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Garlic Butter Chicken

So...we like pizza in our home...I live with 3 men (ok, 1 man, 1 teen boy and 1 little boy) and they would eat spaghetti and/or pizza every night.  One of our fave places (ahhhhh....the breadsticks....) always gives out a great garlic butter sauce with every pizza.  We don't use that one, even though it's yummy.  We are cheese sauce peeps. 
I hate throwing the extra sauces away, however.  I can freeze the leftover marinara as the teenager will eat it with any bread, but the garlic butter doesn't reheat well like the cheese does.

Enter the chicken...
Here is a great, easy way to use up those extra sauces.  This makes a mildly flavored chicken, you will smell more garlic than taste it, so if you want more garlic flavor I suggest adding a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Garlic Butter Chicken
3 to 4 chicken breasts
2 to 3 Papa John's garlic butter sauce tubs
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon
black pepper

Heat up olive oil, garlic butter sauce (reserve about 1/2 of one) and the juice of 1/2 of a lemon in a large skillet.  Sprinkle in salt and black pepper.  Add chicken breasts, sprinkle with black pepper and cook for approximately 8 min on each side until nice and golden brown.  Squeeze more lemon juice and brush on the last bit of garlic butter sauce on chicken breasts, cover skillet with lid and cook on low-medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in middle. 

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