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Showing posts from September, 2011

Great Loose Tea on the Go

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I don't know about you, but if you are a teadrinker, it isn't easy finding a good cup of tea when you are on the road. I've had some good ones and then I've had some that I could barely drink. When Border's closed in our nearby community, I found this great tea-on-the-go travel cup. I like loose tea so thought I could use the basket to brew my favorite teas on the go. Yesterday I gave it a try. Last Saturday, I had picked up a bag of Yorkshire Gold loose tea from a British Shop that I like to visit. I brewed a travel cupful of this to start with. My first try, I thought this looked bigger than my usual mugs I have tea in, so I put in 1 1/2 teaspoons of loose tea in the basket and poured my hot water over the top. . .I learned 2 things. . .Number 1 was that that was  1/2 teaspoon too much tea for my tastes. Secondly, that I needed to pour the water slowly as it quickly over shot the basket and I had loose tea in my water. But this particular travel cup has a sort o…

Book Review: Gabby God's Little Angel by Sheila Walsh

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Let me start out by saying that, Gabby, God's Little Angel by Sheila Walsh is an adorably illustrated book. The illustrator, Marina Fedotova, has created some sweet-looking children, animals and angels for these warmly illustrated, colorful pages. I read Sheila Walsh's adult fiction novel about angels, Angel Song, written with Kathryn Cushman and I thoroughly enjoyed it (see my review from June 13 on my blog). However, I was a little disappointed in this children's story. In this children's story, Gabby, is a guardian angel assigned to watch over Sophie. Gabby helps keep Sophie safe as she rides her pony. After the pony ride, Sophie's Mom teaches her what Scripture says about God sending angels to protect us. The author's idea of teaching children that they are safe and that God sends angels to watch over them is from Psalm 91:9, 11, "The Lord is your protection. . .He has put his angels charge over you. They will watch over you, wherever you go." (ICB…

Book Review: Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

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Patsy Clairmont is one of my favorite Christian speakers so I was excited to review her latest book.  I first heard her on Focus on the Family long before she was a Woman of Faith. Always, I have appreciated her humor and her candor in sharing her struggles. If I had opportunity to sit down and do tea with Patsy, I would do it in a heartbeat. She seems like a kindred spirit and I relate well to many of her struggles and fears. Since I can't do that, I have to say reading Stained Glass Hearts left me with the intimate feeling that we had just had a few heart to heart talks.

"Much like stained glass, life's broken pieces become the prism through which God's grace shines most brightly and beautifully. " Stained Glass Hearts offers Patsy's view of life using art as a theme. Patsy relates people to stained glass windows and shares "that it's when we're surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly within us."  This beautiful…

Book Review: Night Night Blessings by Amy Parker

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Night Night Blessings by Amy Parker is an adorable book for young children. The book is a great way to end the day on a positive note and focus on all the blessings that kids might experience throughout a day. Blessings for each day, such as food to eat, games with friends, favorite toys, bubble baths, the moon and the stars, are mentioned as things to be thankful for. This book also focuses on God as being the giver of all our blessings through the day. I think it is a great book to turn children's focus to gratitude. It is a good book for a beginning reader or to read to younger children who can't yet read.

The illustrations, done by Marijan Ramljak, are cute although not real bright on my e-book edition. I think they give a warm feeling to the story. I also like the children--they all have sweet faces. My son thought the illustrations and the story were both pretty good. He gave it 4 stars out of 5. I have this book on my kindle, but since it is not in color, I think it wou…

Book Review: Thank you, God, For Blessing Me by Max Lucado

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Thank you, God, for blessing me by Max Lucado is a board book for little ones. This book is a small, short one about Little Hermie, the cutest caterpillar in the garden. Little Hermie is thankful for everything and he shows toddlers how to be thankful as he goes throughout his day thanking God for all he experiences. The prose rhymes and flows very well making this book great for reading and re-reading.

My son is 9 but he is has been a fan of Hermie and Friends for a few years now. He thought this book was pretty cute and had great pictures. He liked the words and really wished he had the hard copy to share with younger children that visit us, he said. His first response when he finished reading it was, "Awww." The board copy has flocking on the cover so would be nice to have in real book form for that reason over the e-book. The e-book would still be nice to read on trips with little ones but I would want to have a color e-reader to fully appreciate the pictures.

According…

Book Review: Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart

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Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart intrigued me when I first read about this story. Mary Lynn Scoville and her husband, Jackson, were born into small town families with a lower income life. Growing up, Mary Lynn faced a lot of teasing due to her poor standing in her community. After several years, the couple becomes wealthy and successful with three accomplished daughters in Charleston, South Carolina. Despite the success, Mary Lynn feels empty and she longs for her husband to know Christ. When he does come to know Christ, he takes the Gospel literally and wants to change their lifestyle to more clearly live for Him. He decides to "go all out for God." At that point, Mary Lynn isn't so sure that she wants things to change THAT much. She enjoyed her standing in society and was just hoping for Jackson and the girls to attend church with her on Sunday.
I selected this book to review because my church is currently going through the book Radical by David Platt. I thought…

Tea Time Thursday Recipe: Streusel Concord Grape Pie

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In celebration of autumn in the Midwest, I made a Streusel Concord Grape Pie. It bubbled over a bit this time so might not look beautiful in my picture but it was very tasty. It is time consuming recipe to prepare but we think it is worth it to have this annual treat.

Streusel Concord Grape Pie
4 1/2 cups concord grapes
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

Oat Streusel:
Combine 1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
Cut in 1/4 cup butter to distribute evenly.

Wash grapes and remove skins by pinching at the end opposite the stem. Reserve the skins. (I put the skins in a little food chopper so they are chopped up more finely and don't get tough when baked.)

Place pulp in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook a few minutes until pulp is soft. Put through a strainer or food mill, while pulp is hot, to remove seeds.

Mix strained pulp with skins. Stir in sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt. Place grape mixture in pastry lined pie pan. Sprinkle on oat streu…

Book Review:Listen to the Animals by William L. Coleman

Listen to the Animals is subtitled as a "Devotional for families with young children." This devotional offers animal stories about around 50 types of animals, as well as other parts of God's creation. Monkeys, skunks, dolphins, snakes, jaguars are just a few of the many animals that are included in this book. Some of the devotionals are about other things like the sun, the ocean and eggs of various animals. A reader has to get into the book to discover that it is not all animal as that isn't included in the description. In any case, we found them to all be pretty interesting whether they were about animals or other things. Each devotion ends with 3 questions, a scripture verse and a thought to pray with your family to God. In our family, we have fun seeing who can remember the answer to the questions first--which makes for quiet and good listening skills being developed.

I was given this book from someone that had a family that outgrew it. It is older, as in it was …

Book Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

I've never really read a book like this about time travel and romance ever. I think it made it that much more interesting as it was something completely different for me to read. . . I savored the last book in the River of Time series, Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren. I can't begin to tell you how much I really enjoyed this series. This last book was truly my favorite but it took the other books to get to this place so I must say I enjoyed them all.

Publisher's Description: When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series. Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of o…

The Last of the Summer Garden

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Two days ago it was 90 degrees. . .but I loved it! My summer garden plants were all happy and thriving. . .tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, Swiss chard, and more. . .then came last night. Plants are covered with blankets and frost warnings abounded. Freeze warning were even issued for the counties North of us. . .Soon it won't be just a night of warning, we will have a killing frost. . .

I know a lot of people in the Midwest that are fans of winter. . .I'm just not one of them. I love being able to walk out back to my garden and pick raspberries, blackberries, green beans and other goodies. Once garden season is over, we have potatoes and sweet potatoes stored in our basement to eat up through the season. Usually I get a few squash too from someone else although we don't raise them. I have canned jam, tomatoes, pickled green beans, vegetable soup and the like. We have a freezer full of Iowa sweet corn, more tomatoes, more green beans, asparagus and whatever else I can come u…

Simplifying my Life

Over the past couple of years, I have felt God impressing on me that I needed to eliminate the excess and simplify my life. . .And I have been working at it. . .I have cleaned out books I don't need. Some were donated to library sales, others were swapped and a few went on garage sales.

I have rid myself of excess nick nacks. . downsized a teapot collection. . .and extra kitchenware. . .Again I sold some stuff on Craig's List and on garage sales. We have been doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Plan so I am not replacing junk by going shopping. I am putting extra money on paying off bills or buying things we truly need.

Still it seems like the stuff we do have just keeps multiplying. . .Over the summer, while spending most of my time with my 9-year old son, my desk papers multiplied and I now have a large stack to sort through. E-mails piled up into a virtual stack of mail a mile high so need to clean those out. So before next summer, I am going to come up with a…

Book Review: Cascade: A Novel by Lisa T. Bergren

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I couldn't wait to mentally travel back in time with the Betarrini sisters through reading Cascade. This is the second book of a trilogy in the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. After Gabi and Lia briefly return to the present age, Gabi knows her heart belongs to Marcello and the fourteenth century. She persuades her sister, Lia, to help her return. This time the sisters bring their mom comes along for the trip through time. While the sisters were heroines in the first book, they also made some enemies who either want to see them dead or want to receive a big reward for their capture. . .all of which makes for an adventurous book full of medieval battles.

One of the things I liked about this book is that the sisters, as well as their mother, learn things through their experiences that they couldn't seem to learn in the present age. Gabi also clearly connects with God. Her heart seems to be as drawn to Him as it is to Marcello. I liked how Lisa draws Gabi to God through…

Book Review: Your 100 Day Prayer by John I. Snyder

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Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting On God by John I. Snyder is an encouraging read for Christians "waiting on God." I imagine many of us are waiting on God for some "thing" in our life. I know God uses those times to help grow us, to change our character for the better and to help us actively depend on Him but the waiting can still be challenging. The back cover on this book says, "When the need is so great, so seemingly impossible that only God's direct intervention will ever bring it about, it takes a different kind of prayer." John Snyder also reminds us that "the Bible says we are to ask and then ask again. Over and Over. Day in. Day out." Snyder says that isn't his idea but based on Matthew 7:7-8. Those words spoke to me.  . .My husband, myself and my son, have all been struggling with our own big issues. We are embarking on this 100 day journey as a family but each of us are taking our one issue before …

Tea Time Thursday

One of my favorite loose teas is the basic British cuppa brand, P G Tips. I can get this tea locally at a couple of stores or I can order on-line. It is my morning wake-up tea, brewed up and then tempered with a nice splash of milk.

When we were in Arizona for a week in March, I had a hard time finding a good cup of tea at our hotel. They had a great selection of breakfast treats that we could get in a little eating area near the lobby. . .but hot water out of a pump thermos is not hot enough to brew a sturdy cup of black tea. I tried the microwave but I've never been a fan of microwaved tea water either. . .maybe it is just me, but it just doesn't taste the same and there is often a little white foam on top. So I decided one of my souvenirs from Arizona would be an electric kettle. Thankfully I found a pretty nice one at Target, nearby my hotel. I had one at home but it never hurts to have a back-up :). That one comfort from home just made the rest of my week. I loved the tr…

Journaling: My everyday life in pretty covers

I've kept a diary or journal since I was in elementary school. In 4th grade, I got a diary for Christmas and I started writing down things that happened and boys I thought were cute and all that kind of thing. Over the years, my thoughts and my life has changed but throughout it all, except for one year, I wrote on a daily basis.

My first blank books were those diaries with a page already dated for every day. That was okay except some days I wanted to write more and other days I was silly enough to write, "Nothing important happened today." Now, I'm older, and hopefully wiser, and I see important things in the little things--like the goldfinches were at the feeder today or I talk about my relationship with God on that day. But all in all, I have reached a point where no matter what I write, I like to have pretty journals to write in. In fact, as I start to reach the end of one journal, I can hardly wait to get to the next one. . . I anticipate the next pretty cover.…

Book Review: Waterfall: A Novel by Lisa T. Bergren

Waterfall: A Novel is geared for young adults. . .but this 40-something mom had a hard time putting it down too. . .Gabi and Lia are the teen aged daughters of archaeologists. . .a couple of bored girls that are stuck poking around dig site areas in Italy while their mom continues to search for the "big dig." One day, against the rules, the girls decide to venture inside a tomb and end up traveling back in time to the 14th century. While both girls travel back in time, Gabi arrives first with Lia a little behind her. From the moment Gabi gets out of the tomb and sees the handsome Marcello, she is irresistibly drawn to him. . .although he is betrothed to another girl, which lends to the plot full of twists and turns. . .sword fights and other challenges. I laugh out loud when I hear Gabi share her modern day views on this medieval era--and I imagine how I would feel if I were in her shoes. I won't say much more about the plot, except it is fast moving and can't wait f…

My Favorite Tea Time

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I am not a coffee drinker. I can make a pot if you prefer coffee and are coming to visit me. . .but I don't drink the stuff. . .My Scottish Grandpa started me drinking tea when I was about 2 years old. . .Back then I drank black tea with a spoonful of sugar and a generous splash of milk. These days I still keep the milk, but I've cut out the sugar from my cuppas.

I like to start my morning with a mug of tea. I usually drink something like Tetley British Blend or another sturdy black tea. I like loose tea but since I am the only one that drinks tea in my family, I often grab that round bag of Tetley British Blend when I first wake up. . .then about 2 or 3 in the afternoon when I start to get the sleepies, I like to have a cup or two of some better loose tea. . .I still usually use a mug, unless I have a friend to visit. If someone else is having tea with me, I may break out the fancy tea cups just for fun.

I thought next week I would begin my weekly blog. I wrote several years…