Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scripture Sundays, Proverbs 31:14

I apologize for not posting Scripture Sunday for the past several weeks.  Sundays are a family day and blogging comes second.  So now on to where we left off, this week we continue on with Proverbs 31, verse 14:

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

To me, this scripture says that a virtuous woman brings food to her family from a variety of places.  Merchant ships traveled to many different places and traded their goods, so that in the end, they had merchandise from many locations.  A virtuous woman brings the same variety into her home through the menu she presents.  It is not always the same things day after day.  To apply this scripture to my home this week, I am going to try 2 new recipes, each one with at least 1 new-to-us ingredient.  If the recipes work out, I will post them at some point in the near future.  Please feel free to share any unique recipes with unique ingredients that you might have.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: The Life Ready Woman and info for a weekend getaway giveaway

I have had many great opportunities to review fiction books through my affiliation with Litfuse Publicity , but I was excited to have the chance to review the new non-fiction book by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis, The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World

About The Life Ready Woman: (from the publisher)
Are you a ‘Doing it all’ or ‘Do what matters’ woman?
Whether a stay at home; or working mom, an airplane-hopping executive, an empty-nester caring for multiple generations or a single juggling high demands of career and personal life, today's fast-paced modern world leaves women gasping for balance. We as modern Christian women want to look to the Bible for guidance on how to manage our lives -- but because the world of women looks so different today than it did when the Bible was written, it is hard to find chapter and verse that seems to apply to our situation today.
Thankfully, God has given us exactly that timeless, unchanging guidance for how to find peace, clarity, and God's best for our lives once we know where to look! The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World, reveals a profound biblical roadmap for how each of us can find the abundant life we are longing for, rather than the stressful, torn, how-do-I-balance-it-all life we often feel like we are trying to keep up with today. Actually being a LifeReady Woman means that you are clear about your life, bold in your faith, and able to find God’s best for you, and the end result will be that you not only survive but thrive in our do-it-all world.
God has given every wonderfully unique woman different skills and abilities, different desires, and different temperaments -- and every woman around the planet and through the ages is certainly living in different circumstances. But no matter what a woman’s life looks like, the Bible says that God has an individual mission and plan that He’s carefully designed for each of us. And He wants us to find it. Starting January 2011, The Life Ready Woman and the Life Ready Woman Video Series will help every wonderfully unique woman to thrive as she identifies and courageously pursues God's unique design and callings for her. LifeReady Woman puts you on a roadmap to make decisions that will lead to relief, delight, and fulfillment instead of regret.

My take on the book
I was raised to believe that not only could I do it all, I should do it all.  Fortunately, I eventually overcame that mindset and have been much happier since bringing my life back in line with Biblical teachings.  Society has told us for a long time that woman need to find a way successfully juggle both a strong family and a solid career.  This book speaks to women who are in the working world, by choice or necessity, as well as to women who are at home, either raising children or by retirement.  It walks you through each of ten life stages and gives helpful suggestions for ways to maintain balance in your life at each stage.  I also like the way the book reaffirms that marriage is a team effort in ALL areas.  It takes both the mother and the father to raise the children and run the house, but it also talks about how they need to complement each other in doing so.  Men and women are equal in the eyes of God, but in this case, equal does not mean identically the same.  Men have God-given strengths and women have God-given strengths and we are meant to use those strengths together to achieve great things in both our homes and the world.

My recommendation
I really enjoyed this book and found some great tips for improving my outlook on this stage of my life.  This is definitely a Christian-based book, so for my readers who do not hold these beliefs, you will likely not get as much out of it.  I do highly recommend this book for any woman with Christian beliefs looking for ways to bring balance into her life. 

In celebration of Shaunti Feldhahn’s Life Ready Woman 
 , MomLife Today is giving away 2 Weekend To Remember Gift Packs and much more!

Not only, is MomLife Today helping promote Life Ready Woman, but they are thrilled to announce that Shaunti will be joining MomLife Today as a regular contributor!!!

Weekend To Remember Get-Aways offer marriage-changing principles that you can take home and apply to your daily lives to strengthen your marriage. Whether you are newly engaged or have been married for 50 years, you will find value in the tools provided at the getaway.


Don’t miss this opportunity to receive a conference registration for you and your spouse … and more! MomLife Today will be randomly selecting NINE lucky recipients to receive one of these great gifts:
  1. 2 Weekend To Remember Get Away conference registrations for two. $259 value each pair (Two couples will receive this.)
  2. 2 Life Ready Woman DVD packs. $149 value each (Two different people will receive this gift.)
  3. 5 The Life Ready Woman books. (Book will go to 5 people.)
To enter click one of the icons below then tell your friends. Winner will be announced on March 2nd on the MomLife Today website.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

MomLife Today provides encouragement, advice and resources to help YOU with your daily Momlife! Because…every MOMent counts!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.  My opinion remains my own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

iPhone/iPod App Review: Similac Baby Journal

I try to live a fairly simple life, free from a lot of technology.  Having said that, my husband embraces technology and because of that, we ended up with both an iPhone and an iPod.  Since he no longer was using the iPod, he gave it to me.  The first thing I did was delete a bunch of apps he had on it and only left the ones that I found to be somewhat useful.  Honestly, I could live without any of them and be just as happy.  That all changed when I downloaded the new Similac Baby Journal.  Of course, my kids are too old for me to get a whole lot of use from this app, but if this existed when I my kids were infants, I would have gotten a whole lot of use out of it and maybe even a greater appreciation for the iPod as a whole.

About the app:
The app has ways for a new parent to track the length of time when your baby sleeps, how long they nurse and from which side or how many ounces they eat from the bottle, and how often they have wet and/or dirty diapers, you can also track the color and consistency of the dirty diapers.  The app also allows you to track your baby's measurements including weight, length and head circumference.  You can also add your own notes to each journal entry.  You can e-mail your journal entries to whoever you may want to share it with, such as dad or the pediatrician.  As time goes on, you can look at the patterns in your baby's activities and the program will help you estimate when the next feeding or diaper change will be, or when the baby will be getting tired.  There are also a bunch of tips for you regarding feeding, sleeping, diapers, milestones, and tips specifically for the mom or dad.  There is also 24/7 access you can call for expert feeding help.  For those of you who have multiples or babies really close in age, you can add additional babies after you finish setting the app up.

My thoughts:
I was not really sure what to expect from a formula company, especially regarding nursing, but I was thrilled with this app.  I would have loved to have had all the journal entries with me when I went to the babies appointments and having an easy way to remember which side the baby nursed on last is essential to building up a good milk supply on both sides.  I also found the tips to be helpful, especially for a first-time mom.  I am impressed with how helpful this would be to a new mom and the fact that it is a FREE app, is even better :)

While my opinion is always my own, I was compensated by Collective Bias, a Similac partner, in exchange for reviewing this app.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kindle Giveaway information and a Book Review: An Unlikely Blessing

To switch things up a bit, I will start with the giveaway information.  To celebrate the release of her new book, An Unlikely Blessing, author Judy Baer is hosting a giveaway:
One lucky winner will receive:
  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • A $25 gift certificate to
To enter just click on one the icons below and then tell your friends! Winner will be announced on February 21st on Judy's blog,

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

For more information please visit the Litfuse website, and click {HERE}!

About the author:  Judy Baer is the author of over seventy-five books for adults and teens. She has won the Romance Writer of America Bronze Medallion and has been a RITA finalist twice. She lives in Elk River , Minnesota with her husband. Follow the Hilltop characters on Judy’s blog and find out more about Judy and her books at

An Unlikely Blessing (Forever Hilltop) 
Now for the review, here is the information from the publisher:

An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota . Hilltop Township , a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there.
Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens' land. But can even God's minister help save this rural community?
There are a lot of firsts for the new pastor—the annual Hunter's Breakfast, julebukking (also called Christmas fooling), King Oscar's fish balls, and the melody of the musical saw. And the new, single pastor creates remarkable excitement among the unmarried women in the community. If you could die of hot dish overdose, Alex would be a dead man. Whether performing weddings, counseling his flock, or herding cattle by snowmobile, Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he will teach them. Day by day, he falls more in love with the people of Hilltop Church . People may leave Hilltop, but Hilltop never leaves them.

 My thoughts:
I found I could relate to Alex pretty well.  I had grown up in a large town on the outskirts of an average size city in New York state.  At the age of 19, I moved to a small town, that was a few hours away from a "city", to be a live-in nanny.  If you have never lived in a small-town, it may be difficult to believe that there are places like Hilltop in America today, but I promise you there are.  The author did a great job of painting a picture of Hilltop, and it's citizens, for the reader.  The telling of the story reminded me of a journal, but written in the third person.  There are problems that come up and a few exciting scenes in the book, but not one major problem to be overcome.  I do realize that this is part of a series though and will seek out the other books.  I found myself drawn into the lives of the characters and I particularly look forward to finding out what happens with Jared (Alex's nephew) and little Will Packard.  

I usually rate a book based on how easy it is for me to put it down.  Often, a book starts off slowly and I find it easy to put it down in the beginning, but after the first several chapters, I am so drawn into the story that I hate putting it down.  That was not the case with this book.  I was able to easily put it down throughout the entire book.  I found it to be slow-moving and lacked a real climax.   Having said that, I still enjoyed the story.  I do not typically like this style of writing, but the author did a phenomenal job of drawing me into the lives of the people in Hilltop and it is such an easy read that I was able to read during times of the day I cannot normally read (like when the kids are awake).  I am also a fan of Christian fiction, but only so long as it is not overly preachy.  I was a little concerned that a book written about a pastor could easily turn into a preachy book, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was not.  I especially liked the way Alex dealt with gossiping from his parishioners.

My recommendation
If you enjoy slower moving books, or reading about the lives of others, or if you just want a taste of small town USA, I recommend reading An Unlikely Blessing.  I also recommend this to those who enjoy reading, but cannot find enough "quiet" time to really delve into a heavier story.  If you want a high energy book or one with twists and turns, this is not the one for you.

I received a free copy of An Unlikely Blessing from LitFuse in exchange for my honest review.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Going Gluten-Free and a recipe: Southwestern Tuna and Rice Casserole

Last week, my doctor suggested I try going gluten-free for a few weeks to see if it helps with some issues I have been having.  It is a difficult transition, but I am finally figuring it out.  On the plus side- since I started the gluten-free diet last week, I have lost 6 pounds and 1.5% body fat.  I had been eating pretty healthy anyway and exercising, but my weight was at a plateau and would not budge.  I am guessing this is the kick start it needed.

Opening my pantries to shelves full of food I couldn't eat, was starting to depress me, so I am spending much of this week reorganizing them so that one is full of food I can eat and the other has the food I cannot eat.  In doing this, I have discovered that my packet of taco seasoning has wheat as the first ingredient and that tomato soup also has wheat in it.  Those were both surprises to me and the tomato soup meant I could no longer use it for the recipe I wanted to make for lunch.  Had it been the taco seasoning, it would not have been an issue as that is pretty easy to make with what I had on hand, but since tomatoes are not in season, I do not have any stored, and I only had 1 small fresh tomato on hand, the recipe needed to be scrapped.  Instead, I created a different tuna and rice casserole:

Southwestern Tuna and Rice Casserole
2 1/4 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 pound Velveeta, cubed (I used the 2% milk variety)
1 c sour cream (I used fat free)
1-15.5oz can black beans (you could also use red beans)
2-5 oz cans of tuna fish
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh oregano (1 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 small tomato, diced
1 small onion, diced
lime flavored tortilla chips (regular ones will work too, just less flavor)

1) Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish (a 9x9 pan also works).
2) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently stir until well blended.
3) Put all ingredients in the prepared casserole dish.
4) Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
5) Remove from oven and stir together.
6) Crumble desired amount of tortilla chips over casserole and serve.

If any of you have any super yummy, fairly easy gluten-free recipes that you would like to share, please post a link in the comment section.  Also, please share any great gluten-free recipe blogs.  I currently follow A Year of Slow Cooking and Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, both of which offer lots of GF recipes, but would love to add a few more.  Thanks so much!