Friday, July 25, 2014

Homemade Pesto Sauce.

My 12-year old son & I just made pesto from the basil in our garden.  It's so easy to make, and it's so good on sandwiches, pastas, and pizzas.  If you have basil, you should definitely try to make some!

Pesto Sauce

1 cup walnuts

8-9 cloves fresh garlic, minced

3 cups fresh basil

.5 tsp. kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Put everything into the blender (or food processor) except the cheese and pulse ‘til smooth. Then add the cheese.  I usually scrape the pesto back into the cheese container to freeze it for a large meal. Or freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and you can use what you need!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review - Woman of Courage

This is the first book I've read by Wanda Bunstetter, and I was shocked to realize that she has written over 60 books. Woman of Courage is a well-written historical fiction novel about a woman travelling from New York, across the Rockies to be a missionary to the Nez Perce Indians in 1837.  I enjoyed the character development and the settings - I was able to feel a part of the story as the characters travelled.  I enjoyed the many lessons on courage, as the 4 main characters wrestled with danger, forgiveness and the courage to love.  I enjoyed watching relationships grow and develop. I enjoyed learning more about the similarities and differences among different cultures.  I did not particularly enjoy the "thees and thous" in the beginning of the book, so I was glad to see the main character start dialoguing in a more familiar manner.

I would recommend this book to any reader that's looking for a light-hearted Christian book to read.  It's appropriate for ages 15+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: NIV Essentials Study Bible

I was wow-ed when I got this in the mail last week:  the NIV Essentials Study Bible: Easily Grasp the Fundamentals of Scripture through Lenses from 6 Bestselling NIV Resources
If you're looking for a Bible packed full of good study materials in an easy-to-apply-to-life format, check out this Bible.  It takes the best resources from 6 bestselling NIV resources and integrates them into one Bible.  It includes these highlights:

-Book Introductions from The Essential Bible Companion
-Maps, photos, timelines and Q&A from the NIV Quest Study Bible.
-Study Notes and Guided Tours from the NIV Study Bible.
-Articles from the NIV Archaeological Study Bible 
-`People in Focus Lens' with character studies from the NIV Student Bible
-Reflections from the Great Rescue Bible 

I particularly enjoyed the personal and thought-provoking questions in the Guided Tour sections.  I also liked the Reflect & Respond devotional studies with their application questions and challenges for shifting perspectives.  The Q&A sections answer common questions you've always wondered about with answers from scripture and Bible scholars.

I would recommend this Bible to any teen or adult who wants to know God and his word more intimately.  If you are inquisitive and eager to explore, you will be drawn into this Bible.  If you are looking for questions and teaching to help you apply scripture to your daily life, then you will be blessed by this Bible (well, any Bible will bless you richly, but this one is extra helpful!).

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 07, 2014


I love Mary Engelbreit's artwork (above) - she captures so much spirit and truth in her pictures!

I also really like good quotes like this one:  "A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities."  William Arthur Ward  

God has blessed me with several super special friendships like this, and I am so grateful!  Do you already have a friend like this?  Then tell them how grateful you are for their friendship! 

Do you long for a friend like this?  Think about the women God has put in your life.  Who would you like to grow closer to?  Invite them to spend time with you.  Consider how you can be a good friend to them.  Make plans to spend time together on a consistent basis.  Weave scripture and prayer into your friendship.  Weave your family members into your friendship.  And pray for a deep life-transforming friendship.

Book Review: The Wholehearted Wife by Erin Smalley, Gary Smalley and Greg Smalley

Guess what book arrived in our mailbox on our 13th wedding anniversary?  The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship by Erin Smalley, Gary Smalley and Greg Smalley.  Great timing, huh?

I really enjoyed reading the book.  It's full of practical strategies for building marriages starting with your own heart and perspective.  It has great questions to ponder individually and as a couple.  It's very Christ-focused! 

The ten keys involve honoring, nourishing, accepting personality/differences, connecting spiritually, communicating, connecting sexually, managing conflict, defusing anger, forgiving, and transforming trials into blessings.  Every key connects to scripture, and every key reinforces that a healthy marriage must start with each person honoring the other.  Since we cannot control our spouses, the best way we can impact a marriage (beyond prayer), is by starting with our own hearts. 

I would recommend this book to any woman that wants to have a great marriage - whether she is engaged or celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary!

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers as a gift, in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy 4th of July! (and the cake we're celebrating with!)

Happy 4th!  May this day bring time for reflection, gratitude, family, yummy food, and fireworks!

My 7 year daughter made this firecracker cake with her gramma yesterday.  She had a ball working on it, and can't wait to share it with friends tonight.  (disclaimer - the photo is from Betty Crocker, because we haven't iced or cut our cake yet)  I thought you might want to see the recipe for the little bakers in your life.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Book Review: Sharing Christ With the Dying: Bringing Hope to Those Near the End of Life by Melody Rossi

Wow!  Rossi has put together a wonderful tool to help believers embrace death and dying of their loved ones.  It is packed with stories, scriptures, and practical tools to help readers understand end-of-life issues.

The first part of the book is about our calling to love people in their last days...  even when we feel ill-equipped and even when they are hard to love.

The second part of the book is about what we need to know along the journey of loving people through death and dying.  She talks about practical information you will need, as well as vision, purpose and self-care.

The final parts of the book deal with spiritual warfare, God's relentless love, making arrangements, physical changes, and the last moments of life.

It's easy to read, it's encouraging to read, and it's very equipping.  I recommend this book for any believer who knows they will soon be walking through the last phases of life with a loved one.  I also recommend this book to church leaders involved in counseling and pastoral care.

I received this book as a gift from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Teen Study Bible, NIV

The Teen Study Bible is a great basic introductory study Bible for teens.  It’s a hardcover Bible with the focus of helping affirm believers in their faith and realize the relevance of scripture for daily living.  The publisher outlines these sections of the Bible:

  • “We Believe”—Unpacks the Apostles’ Creed to reveal the biblical foundation of faith
  • “Panorama”—Keeps the big picture of each book of the Bible in view
  • Topical indexes—Help with in-depth Bible study
  • Book introductions—Provide an overview for each book of the Bible
  • Bible Promises—Highlighted Bible verses worth memorizing
  • Q & As—Test Bible knowledge
  • 4 full-color pages—Includes a presentation page and information about the Apostles’ Creed
  • 8-page, color map section
  • Biblical advice about friends, family, school, and other issues

I would recommend this book for teen girls or boys who want to dig a little bit deeper into scripture.  It does not have the hefty cross-reference sections that other study Bibles have, but it does have many teaching points for teens seeking to integrate faith into their daily lives.  I especially like the Bible Truth Index and the Teen Life index, which help readers quickly find topics that they need to learn more about.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: Life Guide to Losing Weight and Getting Healthy with 100 Recipes Under 400 Calories

Snack Girl to the Rescue!: A Real-
Loved this book!  Relaxed no-nonsense guide to healthy eating – NOT dieting!  The first part of the book is about debunking the myth of dieting and teaching how to live a healthy lifestyle.  It’s full of real life examples and practical ideas (that don’t require trips to special grocery stores!).  The second half of the book is full of simple, low-calorie, easy-to-prepare recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I’ve already picked several to try this week, and I look forward to cooking!  I recommend this book to anyone, young or old, single or married, who wants to practice a healthy choices in the kitchen!  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The Blender Girl by Tess Masters

Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks--100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes!

I just reviewed Tess Masters' new book, The Blender Girl.  It's a beautiful soft-back book with great pictures and easy-to-follow recipes.   It was honestly too healthy for me personally, partly because I live in a rural area where it's difficult to access the super-nutritious ingredients, and partly because I'm a much more simple cook..  But people that are looking for gluten-free and vegan recipes will enjoy the 100 recipes.  I found the "love your blender" section particularly helpful, and learning how to blend nuts into smoothies, soups and sauces.

Here are some links that you might enjoy:

  • The Blender Girl's Site
  • The Blender Girl's Tour
  • More Info
  • Author Bio

  • I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

    Friday, June 06, 2014

    What's for Dinner: Barbacoa Beef (copycat recipe from chipotle)

    (serves 12 people)

    4 chipotle peppers + adobe sauce from a can
    1 bunch cilantro
    1 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
    1 head garlic, peeled and cloves smashed
    2 teaspoons ground cloves
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    8 tsp lime juice from bottle
    1/2 cup cider vinegar
    5 dry bay leaves

    5 to 7 pounds beef brisket or roast
    4 to 6 cups beef broth

    Blend most ingredients in blender: chipotle peppers and sauce, cilantro, red onion, garlic, clove, salt, lime juice, and cider vinegar.  Pour into crockpot over the beef.  Add beef broth and bay leaves on top of meat.

    Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Take out the bay leaves, shred the beef, then let it sit on warm for 6 to 8 hours. Drain excess liquid off top (leave enough liquid to keep the meat juicy).

    Serve rolled up in tortillas with basmati rice on the side.

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Summer Delights - Key Lime Pie

    My neighbor, Suzanne, shared this recipe with me, after she used it to win a neighborhood pie contest.  I think it's slightly modified from an allrecipes listing.  My son has been begging to make it, so I let him make it with his sister yesterday.  It's very easy and very yummy.  My son has decided that he wants this pie for his birthday instead of cake!


    Key Lime Pie

    1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

    2 cans sweetened condensed milk

    1/2 cup sour cream

    3/4 cup key lime juice (not regular lime juice)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    In a medium bowl, mix all filling ingredients well, then pour into graham cracker crust.

    Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.