Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's Good News Bible Storybook from Billy Graham

Under the tree for my son this year was God's Good News Bible Storybook from Billy Graham. I was really pleasantly surprised by both the size and the quality of this book! It can be really hard to tell sometimes when you order books online, just what they are going to look and feel like. This book is quite large and has a durable cover and pages.

This is just an all around solid Bible Storybook. I haven't got the chance to read through everything thoroughly-- however, my kids and I have started working our way through it.

I really like that the selected scriptures are from the NKJV. The content is easy to understand for young ones, but it does introduce some more challenging words from the Bible. These have been great conversation starters. For example, today reading about Noah we got to talk about what "covenant" means. My son didn't know the word. I like that he can gain familiarity with some more difficult words and concepts from the Bible. Sometimes I feel like Bible storybooks are made so "kid friendly" that they don't do this.

The Storybook goes though the whole Bible, from beginning to end. Every few pages there is a "Note from Billy Graham". He offers a short devotional and tries to personally relate the stories to the kids. The illustrations are really lovely and vivid. This book really made a great gift. Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the copy in exchange for my review.

Homemade Christmas

I knew things would be a little tight financially around the holiday season this year. Usually I pick up presents in the months leading up to Christmas. I find good deals and stash things away. Things had been so tight that I didn't have anything put up. I kept hoping that things would improve. Certainly, my husbands hours would pick back up and we would get a good check. However as Christmas grew closer, it became obvious that we weren't going to have much to spend this year. Two weeks before Christmas, looking at our last paycheck, it was certain.

Laying in bed one evening I was heartbroken that there wouldn't be much to give. I didn't need to get any presents, but I really wanted to provide my kids with something. I know it's silly. I tried to focus on what the season was really about, the birth of my Savior. I began to pray that the Lord would help me come up with something to make my daughter.  I have sewn for years and knew I had the skills to create something inexpensive but nice.

That night I began to brainstorm. I had two weeks until Christmas. Truly, the Lord inspired me. I wrote a list of ideas and began to excited. I knew if I could make most of my daughters gifts we would have more to spend on my son and his 5th birthday (two days after Christmas). I couldn't think of anything to make him, so I focused on Violet.

I decided to stock my daughter's play kitchen with felt food and kitchen things. She just turned three and loves to play restaurant. She takes our order and serves us imaginary food.

I spent a few hours on Pinterest looking at all the amazing felt food people have created. I knew I could make those things too! I spent $10 at Joann's and bought a huge pile of felt (I only used about half of it). The first things I made were felt cookies and then donuts.

I made a pear, apple slices, strawberries and banana slices. The only pattern I found online was for the pear. The rest I just created patterns for myself. By far the most time consuming piece I made was this cake-

I was finishing up the whip cream and strawberry slices night before Christmas Eve. I was so, SO sick of this project at that point!

I made her an apron and oven mitt out of fabric from my stash. I found her a rolling pin at Goodwill. I had some empty spice jars that I cleaned out and made labels for. I have been holding on to my old ceramic tea set to give her when she was old enough. This was the perfect time.

I had this old tin and decided to make a "teddy-to-go". Teddy was from Joann's. I made him a felt bed, blanket and pillow. He closes up snug in his tin.

I have some special little boys in my life who I wanted to give gifts to as well. These crayon wallets were really quick to whip up. They are not super fancy, but I think the boys liked them.

On Christmas Eve my husband and I sat down to wrap all the gifts we had for the kids. Truly, there was more than we could have imagined. The Lord really multiplied the little money we had. I found some great deals on other toys for both kids and birthday presents for my son. On Christmas morning as they unwrapped their things, I felt incredibly blessed. It was all so much sweeter and precious. The kids LOVED everything, both purchased and handmade. My husband even surprised me with a few small things.

It never ceases to amaze me how much the Lord cares. Truly, even if we hadn't been able to give our kids anything we are incredibly blessed with a home, food and safety. He provided when I saw no way that we could!   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Delighting in God by A.W Tozer

My newest read took me some time to get through! This book, Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer and edited by James L. Snyder was a meaty book.

If you are looking for a timeless and challenging non-fiction read this is right on. It is a amazing how relevant this book is to today's believer and church even though Tozer passed away in 1963. Whenever I sat down to read this I always had a pen in hand. It's the type of book I just can't read without marking up. A little more about the book,

"We were created in the image of God, and to understand who we are, we need to understand who God is. His very character and nature are reflected through us. Unless we fully grasp who we are, we'll never become all God wants us to be.

Delighting in God is the message Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God--those things God has revealed about himself--are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. We are here to serve and adore him, but we can only fulfill that role by acknowledging who he is, which is the essence of the Christian life and the source of all our fulfillment, joy, and comfort."

Next on my list is to read The Knowledge of the Holy while this book is still fresh in my mind. Thanks to Bethany House for the book, in exchange for my review. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coloring Book

I am loving all the new coloring books for adults out there! This is my first one and I am excited to get coloring. This book by Payton Cosel Turner is suppose to be all about the 80's,

"Enter a magical world filled with your favorite little things.

Wander through a 1980’s-inflected dreamscape of stuffed animals and boom boxes, dance along with a joyful parade of woodland creatures--each page of this coloring book invites you to explore a different kaleidoscope-like universe of pattern, shape and image. From the mind of Payton Cosell Turner—the creative force behind the celebrated wallpaper studio Flat Vernacular—comes this all-ages ode to the wondrous objects that make life beautiful. The coloring journey you take through these exquisite hand-drawn pages will inspire and delight."

I missed the 80's by a few months and honestly don't have any nostalgic love for the time period. I loved the animals though! I think 80's lovers might be a little disappointed at the lack of 80's related things. There are certainly a few references, but a lot of the book is different animals.

I enjoyed the overall style of the book, the kaleidoscope like pictures were really beautiful. The quality of the paper and the book itself were top notch. I would just suggest looking at some of the pages before you purchase to ensure the style is for you! I received a copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.    

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Storm Days

Everything is gray and cozy around these parts. We had a week of storms on the Oregon Coast, and it doesn't seem to be easing up just yet. I was watching the lightening strike behind the mountain range. I just love this crazy weather. No better time to hunker down with the fire burning and a good book. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

27 Weeks

27 Weeks
Every pregnancy I marvel at how time can go so fast and yet so stinking slow. It wasn't until kids that the passage of time seemed so distorted to me. I am both antsy to finish what has been a hard pregnancy for me, and simultaneously needing every moment to prepare myself for her arrival. I don't know how these feeling can take me by surprise even the third time around.

Health-wise this has been a rough go. My back has been the source of most of my pain. I had moderate back pain with the other two, but this time has been debilitating. Even with the help of a chiropractor I can't do much some days. I am thanking the Lord my Cholestasis (more about that here) hasn't begun yet. I generally don't get it until 30+ weeks and hopefully it won't be until the end of my pregnancy. Or maybe not at all! I can always hope!

I thought I would have everything ready to go for this baby, since we do have a lot of baby gear. I'm finding that after two littles, a lot of stuff is getting pretty worn out! My infant car-seat is expired, my moses basket broke and most of my bottles are missing parts. I am sort of dreading buying all of this stuff over again- especially considering that this might be our last babe.

We are all rejoicing that another little lady will be joining us before long. Despite some not-so-fun things, this has really been a special pregnancy. It fills my heart to the brim seeing the love my two big-kids have for baby Elsie!

Slow Days

We have been snug in our house around these parts. The wind and rain have knocked every last beautiful leaf from our trees. Winter is certainly upon us. I can't say I'm sad about it either. I love the stormy weather. Most days have a break in the rain for us to go on walk, which is currently keeping us sane. 

I have been keeping myself busy making homemade dolls. It began as a project I started for Violet's birthday. I made her and her sister (in my belly) dolls. Then a friend ordered three from me. I really enjoy making these little dears.  

Something about their little clothes and sweet faces gets me every time. The second set I dressed in a romper, shirt and skirt and a dress. My experience making human-sized clothes actually really helped drafting the patterns. 

Besides the doll factory, we have been chugging along with school. Titus is just over half way through with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Some days are slow for sure. There are moments when it feels like we are dragging through the lessons. However, I cannot believe the progress he has made. The process really works for him. After school yesterday we flipped through some of the old lessons. Looking back on what was once hard and now is a breeze, was really eye-opening. This kid is learning to read! He will be five in a few weeks and I am so proud of him. His penmanship has improved a lot too. He wrote that little message to his dad a few weeks ago!


Monday, December 7, 2015

The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider


I love Mexican food. In my town of 1500 we have actually have a Mexican restaurant. It's pretty much what you would expect a small town Mexican restaurant would be... cheesy beans and rice and various burritos soaked in sauce. They try, but it's really not very fresh. When I crave Mexican it pretty much always comes out of my own kitchen.

I loved the idea of this Mexican Slow Cooker book by Deborah Schneider. A good crock-pot recipe is gold. I have made enough same-tasting-goo in the crock-pot to be skeptical of some recipes. However, Deborah has a lot of really great and original ideas for the old crock.

The book features Soups, Mains and Guisados, Street Food Favorites, Basic Rice and Beans and Other Sides, and even Desserts. A lot of the recipes are simple, flavorful dishes. There were actually quite a few things that I plan to make. It seems like the dishes are very authentic, although I am certainly no expert in that area. There are a few specialized ingredients that I wouldn't be able to find locally, but others might. Generally when a special ingredient is called for, and alternative is offered. Which I appreciate.
I should warn, this is not a set-it-and-forget-it book or recipes. There are maybe a few recipes that don't require any additional steps. For the most part though, the recipes ask you to take additional steps after you add the ingredients. Meat needs browned or taken out, the lid needs cracked or things need to be added. If you need to throw it all in the crock-pot and head for work, these might not be the best recipes. Personally, I am home all day with my littles, so a few extra steps doesn't bother me. If it gives me more depth of flavor I'm up for it!   

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Brave Enough by Nicole Unice

 I am not very brave... It's true. It's something I have struggled with my whole life. It's sad to think sometimes, of all the opportunities I have missed out on because I just wasn't brave enough.

In college I shied away from meaningful relationships because I was afraid of all those awkward "getting to know you moments". I see those girls now on Facebook, they are each others life-long friends... and me, well I doubt they remember me.

After I got married my husband and I moved to a new town. I didn't know a soul. We got involved in an amazing church. The people took us in like family. They loved us and discipled us. I still wasn't brave enough to go to the Bible studies, the church activities or pursue having people over. It took me three years to let those people into my life.

These last few year I have tried really hard to overcome some of these fears. I know that the Lord doesn't want me to live this way, bound up in insecurity. I have always had trouble breaking through surface relationships to real, deep, meaningful ones. I have really come a long way. It's funny, but as my life has become more complicated (having kids) I just don't have the time or energy for meaningless relationships. It is so freeing not to be bound up by so much fear anymore, however I don't know that I ever really dealt with what was behind those fears.

Reading this book Brave Enough by Nicole Unice has helped me examine what has really gone on in my heart. Nicole's friendly voice shares her own struggles and insecurities. Nicole get's to the heart of where our bravery comes form and examines the things that hold us back. This is a great book to read if you are ready to get real about the fear on your own life. I love the quote at the back of the book,
"find the courage to be who you are-- not who you wish you were."
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HASK Keratin Protein

 Lets just say that I am overdue for a hair cut...  I was just noticing a week ago that the ends were feeling dry and sort of gross. I know I need to get into the salon and get a trim and touch-up. Things have been so busy, it might be a little bit until that happens.

These Hask Keratin products are holding me over until then. I have used Hask products before, but never this keratin protein one! It has really helped moisturize and smooth my distressed hair. The smell is great and it leaves my hair super shiny. The keratin goes a long way in restoring and strengthening the hair shaft. My hair has seen its fare share of styling and the keratin helps revive after heat damage.

I love that these products are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, drying alcohol and artificial colors. If you have color-treated or over-styled hair I would recommend giving these a try! There is a shampoo, conditioner, hair oil and deep conditioner. The hair oil doesn't leave my hair a grease slick like other products. It adds a lot of shine and is definitely more of a dry oil. The deep conditioner is just the treat dry hair craves. If you have color-treated or over-styled hair I would recommend giving these a try!

I was sent these products to try in exchange for my honest review.