Saturday, July 30, 2011

What I Learned from Joshua - Reading the Bible in 90 Days

As you know I have started reading the Bible. I have 90 days to complete it and I am reading it with hundreds (1200+ to be exact) of other women. Each week (and even day to day) we check-in with each other on our progress, to pray for each other, and to share our thoughts. How cool is that?


So, I thought I would take each Book of the Bible and share my thoughts, verses, or people that stood out or spoke to me on that particular day. I have been doing most of my reading in the mornings when it is quiet, but some days I have to finish up in the afternoon or evening..or even the next day! The key is to get it done. If you get behind, you keep at it....catching up in chunks each day. The readings have been manageable and I am still praying it stays that way for me.

So, here are my thoughts from the Book of Joshua:

After Moses has died, Joshua is the new leader of God's chosen people to the Promised Land.  This Book shares the final leg of their journey. 

Joshua 1:5 As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:11 After all these years of travel, hardship, and miracles - finally in just 3 days they will be crossing into the Promised Land.  The people had to be so excited. 

Joshua 3:15-17, 4:18 Another miracle of God parting the waters so the people could cross.  Then as soon as they had crossed, the water was let loose again to flow freely. 

Joshua 4:24 He did this so all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

Joshua 6:25  I was so touched and inspired by Rahab's great faith.  I loved the lesson that God chose an unexpected woman to remind us that anyone can choose a life with God.

Joshua 7:19-26 A reminder that sin - small or large- can have great consequences.

Joshua 10:12:14 Another example of God's great power - stopping the sun in the middle of the day and keeping it from setting. 

Joshua 11:23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions.  Then the land had rest from war.

Joshua 21:43-45 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.  The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.  Everyone of God's promises were fulfilled.  But they were fulfilled in His time, not the Israelites time.   But the promises DID come true.  What a hope that brings and a comfort that is.

Joshua 22:5 Be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

Joshua 24:14 Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.

Joshua 24:15 ...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

There was so much violence and killing in the Book of Joshua.  But, it was all done in the fight for Israel, God's chosen people, and to fulfill his ultimate promise.  It was a tough book to read through, but still some awesome messages in it. 

Now, on to Judges.....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Things I Love - Instagram

Things I Love....

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!


Today's love is................................................Instagram
 
If you have an iPhone, iPod touch 4G, or an iPad2 this is an app you must get.  I don't know if it is available in the Droid world or not.  I do know that it is not available for Blackberry. 
 
The Instagram App takes a photo that you have taken and gives it a new hue.  Maybe it makes it black and white, or pops the colors, or gives it that 1977 photo look.  Then it allows you to share that photo in their feed as well as on Twitter, Facebook, or emailing it to someone.  I'm sure on the iPhone you could also text it, but can't say for sure.
 
It is just fun to play around with different photos and change them up. It is also neat to take a photo and see how the diferent hues will give it a different look. The Instagram App is free, so if you like snapping photos with your iPhone or iPod, this is the App to get!!! If you are on Instagram and want to follow me I am Staciele.  I'd love you follow you too.  You can spend lots of time looking at everyone's awesome photos in the Instagram Feed.  Here are some of my favorites that I have taken and messed with on Instagram. Enjoy! 






Reagan making Amish Friendship Bread

Just a regular sunset, but then putting a different hue - gave it this awesome sunset heart!



Some of my first flowers this spring!


Reagan playing a mean game of dominoes



Another gorgeous Iowa sunset

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review and Giveaway: DaGeDar

I have 3 kids who were super excited to be the first to try the exciting new product from the CEPIA line of toys called DaGeDar. Thanks to MomSelect and DaGeDar for sending them to our house!

THEIR STORY
DaGeDar is brand new.  DaGeDar are spirit-like entities driven by their desire to race.  DaGeDar reside in Dmension 33, a place previously unknown to humans.  DaGeDar enter the Earth's dimension to race so that their spirit can break free, and each DaGeDar is fueled by a personal motivation whether they race for glory, fame, money, power, skill, knowledge, etc.-one thing is certain: They must race to accomplish their ultimate quest!

DaGeDar is unlike any toy you've ever seen before.  Each DaGeDar has a steel core center and a cool character graphic and code.  It is a game where "House Rules" rule.  Ballers, (kids) determine how to play and ultimately how to win.  The Baller will want to control the speed and velocity of the DaGeDar to propel the ball through the set's loops - coming up with their own stunts and tricks.  Options for game play are endless and up to the Ballers creativity and imagination.

All 3 of our kids were interested in the set.  The boys (ages 11 and 10) took the most interest and came up with tournaments, races, and different ways of playing within the first few minutes of set up.  Set up took about 20 minutes - which included opening all the packages and putting the track together. 

This is a close up of the different balls and their characters.

All of the items we received - Track Set, Basic Ball Set, Launcher, and Spinner.




video
As you can see, the boys had a blast playing with this.  They immediately came up with their own tournament and started racing all the balls.  The only downside is that it does have to be propped up against a couch, coffee table or something as the first downhill track for this set does not stand alone.  The set went together pretty quickly and easily.  Each of the balls also comes with a stand so they aren't rolling all over.

 

The DaGeDar website http://www.dagedar.com/ offers different ways to play and even a tournament sheet that can be printed out.  There you can also check out the different track options available and all the different DaGeDar ball sets.  Each ball also has a code to enter on the website to learn more about that ball's spirit within.  So far the DaGeDar sets are only available in Phoenix, AZ.  But, keep watching your local Toys R Us and Walmart for them to be appearing soon!  I'm sure these will be at the top of kids' Christmas lists.  You do know that Christmas is less than 5 months away, right?!

Now for the BEST PART....the GIVEAWAY! 


One winner will win a Basic Ball Set and a Vortex Spinner or Carrying Case!

Entries must be in by Sunday, August 14, 2011, at 11:59 PM.  I will choose a winner using Random.org on Monday, August 15, 2011 and email the winner.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me before I choose another winner. 

Mandatory Entry:  Leave a comment with your email (nameATemailDOTcom is fine) with the age/gender of the child you would give DaGeDar to.

Extra Extries (leave a comment telling me you did each item):

1-Subscribe (or let me know you already do) to my blog.

2-Follow me on Twitter.

3-Follow DaGeDar on Twitter

4-Like DaGeDar on Facebook.

You can have a maximum of 5 entries in this giveaway.  Any other posts will be not be included in the giveaway.

Thanks to MomSelect and CEPIA Toys for sending the DaGeDar set.  I received the above items pictured and nothing else.  The company will send the winning items to the selected winner.  I did not receive any other compensation for this review.  This review is my honest opinion and I wouldn't recommend or review any item that wouldn't benefit myself or my family. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Have I Done?

I am joining Sincerely Jenni in telling you about myself.  The items in BOLD I have done! What about you?  This is giving me a great list of things to add to my "Bucket List".  Things that I hadn't thought of.  Thanks Jenni for sharing!

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity


7. Been to Disneyland/world - as a high schooler

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning


17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty


18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill


24. Built a snow fort


25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29 Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise - I doubt they meant a river boat cruise here.....

33 Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language (tried to anyway)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41 Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45 Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60 Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason


64 Donated blood, platelets, or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66 Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67 Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt


73. Stood in Times Square


74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone - Does a toe count? Doubt it.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible - I've made it through Jeremiah

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous - As a young girl I met Randi Oakes from CHiPS and I knew Ashton Kutcher before he was famous!


92. Joined a book club


93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby - Three to be exact! 2 without drugs!!!

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a lawsuit

98. Owned a cell phone


99. Been stung by a bee

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I Learned from Deuteronomy - Reading the Bible in 90 Days

As you know I have started reading the Bible. I have 90 days to complete it and I am reading it with hundreds (1200+ to be exact) of other women. Each week (and even day to day) we check-in with each other on our progress, to pray for each other, and to share our thoughts. How cool is that?


So, I thought I would take each Book of the Bible and share my thoughts, verses, or people that stood out or spoke to me on that particular day. I have been doing most of my reading in the mornings when it is quiet, but some days I have to finish up in the afternoon or evening..or even the next day! The key is to get it done. If you get behind, you keep at it....catching up in chunks each day.  The readings have been manageable and I am still praying it stays that way for me.
So, here are my thoughts from the Book of Deuteronomy
 
Basically this whole book was a repeat of the laws discussed in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.  But, a good reminder for all of us about how important God's laws are and how seriously He takes them.
 
Deuteronomy 4:7 .....the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.  What a beautiful reminder that God hears our prayers.
 
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them.....Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.
 
Deuteronomy 4:31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by faith.
 
Deuteronomy 4:40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.
 
Deuteronomy 5:6-21 The Ten Commandments - in case you need a refresher.
 
Deuteronomy 5:29 Oh that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever. I'm seeing a theme in all these verses....it isn't just about them, but the future of their children, and children's children.  What better motivation than that do you need????
 
Deuteronomy 6:4-8 Here is more thoughts on training and teaching your children....
Hear, O Isreal:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk aobut them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
 
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. 
 
Deuteronomy 7:21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 
 
Deuteronomy 8:3 ....to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
 
Deuteronomy 13:4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere.  Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
 
Deuteronomy 26:18-19 And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands.  He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised. 
 
Deuteronomy 28:15-68  Boy if you ever needed a reason why not to disobey God....check out these verses!
 
Deuteronomy 29:20 .....and the Lord will blot out his name from uder heaven.  I can't imagine a worse punishment then that.  He know longer knows my name, or the hairs on my head....I am crossed out of His book of eternal life.  The. Worst. Punishment. Ever.
 
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.  We can't know it all, but I rest in the comfort that God knows, He has a plan, and He will reveal that plan in His time.
 
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Choose Life!  Who wouldn't????  For me, for my children, and their children......
 
Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  A verse that can be read time and time again when we are discouraged, struggling, running out of hope, losing faith - it can fill you right back up.
 
Deuteronomy 32 - How I wish I could hear the song Moses sung to the people!
 
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the lord sent him to do in Egypt - to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land.  For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
 
I think that verse just sums it all up.  Moses was a true prophet and was blessed to be able to talk face to face with God.  He withstood much frustration and difficulty all unselfishly in God's honor.  What an awesome example he was for us.
 
Now off to the Book of Joshua!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I Learned from Leviticus and Numbers - Reading the Bible in 90 Days

As you know I have started reading the Bible. I have 90 days to complete it and I am reading it with hundreds of other women. Each week (and even day to day) we check-in with each other on our progress, to pray for each other, and to share our thoughts. How cool is that?


So, I thought I would take each Book of the Bible and share my thoughts, verses, or people that stood out or spoke to me on that particular day. I have been doing most of my reading in the mornings when it is quiet, but some days I have to finish up in the afternoon or evening. The key is to get it done. Even if you have to carry over into the next day...that happens. The readings are manageable and I am still praying it stays that way for me.

So, here are my thoughts from the Books of Leviticus and Numbers.

Leviticus 5 - What if everytime I sinned, I had to bring a lamb as a sacrifice?  I am so glad Jesus became my sacrificial lamb.

Leviticus 11 - I found it interesting which animals God felt were unclean:  camels, owls, storks, rabbits, pigs, and lizards, for example.

Leviticus 20:28 Do not....put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.  I am going to remember this verse for when the kids get older!  Thanks God for backing me up on this one!

There were so many laws throughout Leviticus.  But, I think God just wanted to keep the people away from those things that would bring destruction to their lives - adultry, worshipping other gods, etc.  So, His laws and punishments were harsh, but he was also a loving and giving God.

Leviticus 25:35 If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.  When someone in our community is in need, we need to help them with whatever we can offer - food, clothing, money, a place to stay.

Leviticus 26:9 I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

The Book of Leviticus was a reminder to me that He is the Lord God and we must follow His laws and fear Him.  But remember that He is a loving and forgiving God as well.

Numbers - The size of the community around the Tent of Meeting was large and it was imperative that every tribe was assigned a job and accounted for.  Imagine if our communities worked that way today. 

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord Bless ou and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.  Just reading this brings a calmness to my day.

Numbers 7:89 When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the testimony. And he spoke with him.  How awesome it must have been for Moses to be able to talk to God and have God speak with him. 

Numbers 11 - The people were such complainers, whining about their situation but not doing anything to change it.  Kind of like how people can be today.

Numbers 14:18 The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.

Numbers 15:41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.

Numbers 16-18 Boy these Israelites just didn't get it!  The constant complaining was wearing on me.  I can't imagine how Moses and God must have felt.

Numbers 20:21 Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.  Moses and the Israelites turned away from conflict.  Rather than fighting, sometimes it is better to walk away and leave it alone.  My husband did just that this week.  A father at the pool was yelling profanity right next to us.  He was yelling it quite loudly and rudely.  My husband asked him to stop because of our children.  He proceeded to continue his ranting at my husband and getting quite nasty.  My husband again asked him to stop and he continued.  So, my husband walked away.  He knew it was pointless to go any farther with this man and this man didn't care too much about the consequences.  So, there are situations where it is better to just walk away.

Numbers 22:18 Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.  Nothing is greater than God.

Numbers 22:28-30  Balaam wasn't even shocked to have his donkey talking to him.

Numbers 24:9 May those who bless you be blesssed and those who curse you be cursed.

Numbers 27 - I loved how Zelophehad's daughters stood up for themselves and asked for their rightful inheritance...and God agreed.

Numbers 27:15 As Moses finds out he will be gathered to his people (die), he still worries about the Israelites by asking God not to leave them "like a sheep without a shephard".  He needs someone new to lead them and Moses is being completely unselfish. 

Lots of lessons in Leviticus and Numbers.  Now off to learn from Dueteronomy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review: EYEWALL By H.W. "Buzz" Bernard

EYEWALL
By: H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
Published: April 15, 2011

St. Simons Island, Georgia, has never been hit by a Category 5 hurricane. Until now. No one predicted the storm's sudden force. A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane. An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying. A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia's posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them. A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance. All will be swept up by the monster storm. Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.



I saw this book offer on a website I visit regularly...www.weekinrewind.com.  They offer a list books availalbe for download on the Kindle that are free or at reduced prices.  A few weeks ago, this book was listed as free.  It immediately caught my attention because it is set in St. Simon's Island, Georgia.  Not many people have heard of this collection of islands off the coast of Georgia.  Jekyll Island is probably the most well-known, then there is also Sea Island.  You can only reach these islands by crossing the causeway from Brunswick, Georgia.  I have family that has retired in St. Simon's Island.  When I was a senior in college, I went there for some R & R.  I loved it so much, my husband and I went there for our honeymoon 12 years ago.  Sadly, we haven't been back, but I remember the island well.  So, when I saw this book, and it was free, I had to get it.

This book is not my typical genre.  It is what I would consider an action/thriller/suspense type of novel.  The story was intense from the very first chapter.  There were times when I had to stop reading and breathe because I hadn't realized I was holding my breath while reading.  If I could have, I would have read this book in one sitting.  Unfortunately, my schedule doesn't allow that.  But, since I had downloaded this to the Kindle App on my iPod touch, I was able to read it often - while riding the car, waiting in the dr's. office, in bed, and in restaurants.  I really liked reading on the iPod and will likely download more books that way.

Since I live in Iowa and have never been exposed to hurricanes I was worried I wouldn't understand what it was like.  Bernard was able to give the reader enough technical information about hurricanes to help the reader understand them, but not overwhelm or bore them with facts.  His descriptions of the rain and wind and their destruction allowed me to picture exactly what was happening on the island.  I found it all very interesting and having had straightline winds of 120 mph just go through our area, I got a much better understanding of the force and destruction of hurricanes. 
There were several characters in the story, but each chapter was devoted to a setting in the story....the TV Network, The Hurricane Center, The Hurricane Hunter, and St. Simon's Island.  So, this helped keep track of everyone and who they were connected with.  This story is told over the course of only 1 day in the lives of these characters, with some flashbacks,....and what a day it was.  I had no idea there was actually "hurricane hunters", airplanes that flew into the hurricanes to measure them.  That was fascinating to me!  I really learned a lot about weather patterns and risks others take to bring us those reports.

As I said, the book was very intense and all of the obstacles along the way kept the reader wanting to turn the pages faster and faster.  The story does not have a happy ending for everyone which I think made it more believable.  I also appreciated that while there was a lot of action and suspense, there was also romance throughout the story. 

I was impressed to find that this is Bernrd's debut novel.  I hope in his retirement he continues to write.  I see he has a new book set to come out in about a year.  So, I will be watching for that.  I will be telling my relatives in St. Simon's Island about this book even though they have likely already heard about it and maybe even know the author.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars.  This is a great summer (or anytime) read for those who like the thrilling page-turners. 

H.W. "Buzz" Bernard is a retired meteorologist who worked for thirteen years at the Atlanta-based Weather Channel. He considers St. Simons Island his second home. Visit him at www.buzzbernard.com

To purchase a copy of EYEWALL, click the photo below:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things I Love - Bennett

Things I Love...


This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!
Today's love is...........................Bennett
 
 
This week our son Bennett turned 10!  He was so excited to turn 10.  He made a countdown over a month ago to keep track of how many days until his birthday.  He's been talking about a "Friend Party" since last years birthday.  This kid LOVES birthdays.  Today 5 extra boys will be celebrating with us and spending the night.  Oh my!
 
Bennett is such a joy in our household.  He is the "middle" child, but only 15 months younger than his older brother.  So, they have a built-in best friend and I hope it stays that way forever.  Bennett is our hugger, snuggler, and full-of-love kid.  He loves to play games and have "family time".  His favorite foods are tacos, wings, and my chocolate chip pancakes (as of today).  He is very bright and proved that by winning the 3/4 grade spelling bee this year.  He is looking forward to 5th grade and starting band for the first time.  He enjoys Legos and has been excited to play with his new transformers.  He is also a big video gamer, of course, and frequently fights for iPad game time with his siblings.   
 
Benny makes me smile every day and I just couldn't ask for a better kid!  Happy Birthday Bennett!
 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life by Stephanie O'Dea

TOTALLY TOGETHER:  Shortcuts to an Organized Life
By: Stephanie O'Dea
To Be Published August 2, 2011

TOTALLY TOGETHER: Shortcuts to an Organized Life is the indispensable guide to organizing a busy household so anyone can have a tidy and tranquil home in just minutes a day.  It provides a practical, how-to guide in a weekly calendar format to make home organization and time management a snap.

I have been a follower of Stephanie O'Dea's blogs for quite awhile now.  Both of them are on my right sidebar under the BLOGS I FOLLOW section.  They are A YEAR OF CROCKPOTTING and TOTALLY TOGETHER JOURNAL.  So, when I had the opportunity to review her newest book, TOTALLY TOGETHER, I jumped at the opportunity and read it right away. 

Stephanie O'Dea is a mother of three and has very practical tips for running a household whether you have children or not.  Some of the things she suggested I was already doing, like having our children participate in the daily chores.  Others, I am thinking about implementing even though it would change my current routine, such as doing 1-2 loads of laundry/day.  Right now I spend an entire day or two doing 10-12 loads of laundry.  I also loved her "keeping your bathroom spotless" ideas!

The best part of the book was the surprise at the end.  I didn't realize there was going to be a calendar included.  The calendar starts on September 1st, but you could adapt it to start whenever it works for you.  I usually purchase calendars that begin in August, so this will work great for me to start using in September.  Each week is set up with your "Daily 7" (the chores you must do every day), as well as other chores sprinked thoughout the month such as cleaning the microwave, dusting ceiling fans, and buying all birthday cards/gifts for the month.  There are also "Family Meeting" ideas for each week and  ideas to keep the "WoMom" (the Woman behind the Mom) sane.  There isn't a lot of space to keep track of appointments and kids' activities so you may have to write small or just use this calendar for household tasks. There is also a photocopy ready grocery list to work from and meal planning charts to use.  The book is just the right size and could easily fit in your purse if needed.  O'Dea also gives excellent tips for planning for the holiday season.

If you are looking for a jumpstart to organizing your home, O'Dea's tips are sure to get you motivated.  Everything in the book is very manageable and gives tips for getting your whole family involved.  Buy implementing her ideas, your home can always be "company ready" in just minutes.  Who doesn't want their house to be that picked up?

TOTALLY TOGETHER: Shortcuts to an Organized Life will be available for purchase on August 2, 2011.  You can pre-order from Amazon for just $8.72, HERE.  For more information on Stephanie O'Dea and her other best-selling books, check out http://www.stephanieodea.com/

Thanks to Erin at Penguin Group for sending me a copy of this book for review.  I was only given a copy of this book for review and was not compensated in any other way.  This review is my honest opinion.  I wouldn't review anything that wouldn't benefit myself or my family. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

What I Learned from Exodus - Reading the Bible in 90 Days

As you know I have started reading the Bible. I have 90 days to complete it and I am reading it with hundreds of other women. Each week (and even day to day) we check-in with each other on our progress, to pray for each other, and to share our thoughts. How cool is that?

So, I thought I would take each Book of the Bible and share my thoughts, verses, or people that stood out or spoke to me on that particular day. I have been doing most of my reading in the mornings when it is quiet, but some days I have to finish up in the afternoon or evening. The key is to get it done. Even if you have to carry over into the next day...that happens. The readings are manageable and I am still praying it stays that way for me.

So, here are my thoughts from the Book of Exodus:

Exodus 1 - The Israelites had previously had such a great life in Egypt and then this new king came into reign and the good-life was over.  They had to have felt so frustrated, dismayed and defeated over their treatment.

Exodus 1:12 But the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied and spread. 
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Exodus 2 - I have always loved the story of Moses birth and his mother leaving him in the Nile.  What an amazingly painful sacrifice that had to be for her.  Moses had such a smart and loving sister to follow and watch out for him.  Did she come up with that on her own, or what is part of her mom's master plan???  Unfortunately, Moses' mother still had to give him up permanently after she was done nursing him.  Still can't imagine that heartbreak.

Exodus 2:24 God heard their groaning....Even if we think he has forgotten about us, He still hears us. 

Exodus 3:12 And God said I will be with you.

Exodus 3:14 I AM WHO I AM.

Moses felt so inadequate as God's messenger to the people.  There are times when I also feel inadequate for the roles God has placed me....as a mother, a children's leader at church, etc.  But, he always seems to give me the words and the tools that I will need to succeed.
Exodus 4:12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say. Moses had to be awestruck at the signs that were happening in front of him.

In Exodus 4:25, Zipporah had to do what Moses should have done.  I thought it was interesting because it seems like it is always the mom who has to do all the cleaning up, picking up the pieces, and doing what needs to be done.

Exodus 7 and 8 - How awful all those plagues must have been for the people of Egypt.  Frogs, gnats, flies, boils....all just so hard to imagine dealing with the enormity of them.

Exodus 8:23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people.  God knows who His true followers and believers are and they will be separated from the nonbelievers.

Moses had to be so frustrated after all this destruction and devastation happening in Egypt all because Pharoh wouldn't listen to God's demands.

Exodus 12:37 I can not imagine 600,000 men plus women and children plus all the livestock and belongings all heading out of town.  What an amazing accomplishment and site that was!

Exodus 13:21 By day the Lord went ahead of them n a pillar of cloud....and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night.

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you.

Exodus 14:26-31 The story of the parting of the Red Sea is another of the amazing miracles of Exodus.  I imagine the people walking through the walls of water around them with their jaws dropped and the eyes in awe!

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my Father's God, and I will exalt him.

Exodus 15:18  The Lord will reign for ever and ever.

In Exodus 16:4 God tested the Israelites obedience.  I wonder how many times he has tested mine....and more importantly.....did I obey????

Exodus 16:35 - Can you imagine eating bread for 40 years - every...day???  But the key is that God provided for them and the bread sustained the people for 40 years.

In Exodus 17:12  Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms for him when he got tired.  I know there have been times when God has held me up.  But, who do I need to be lifting up?  Who do I know that is growing tired and needs help holding it together?  A reminder to be more aware.......

Exodus 20-23 - God's laws seem so logical and simple.  What a different place our world would be today if these laws and punishments were in place and more importantly....carried out.

Exodus 30-40 - God took the worship of Him seriously.  He had many requirements for His Tent of Meeting, the clothing, the offerings, etc.  It was a reminder that we need to be taking our worship of our Lord much more seriously.  It isn't just a social gathering or a way to catch up with our neighbors, but really preparing ourselves for worshipping Him.  I know I need to do better at this!

Exodus 30:15 had a good reminder that rich and poor are equal in God's eyes.

Exodus 31 - He not only established rules for worship and how the Tent of Meeting, garments, and alters were to be built, but he suplied Moses with people who had those specific gifts to complete those specific tasks. 

In Exodus 32:14 God's mercy and forgiveness is undeserving.

Exodus 35 - Everyone came together to work on the Tent of Meeting.  Supplies and talents were brought together from everyone.  It was a "community effort".  We don't see this often enough.  Imagine what could happen in our churches and in our communities if we all came together unselfishly like that to work together toward one purpose?!

I know this is a lot, but this Book of Exodus is so full of awesome lessons.  Even though the rules and requirements seem odd and unimportant, they really begin to build the foundation for our life with Christ.

Now on to Leviticus........

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: HAPPY HOUR By Michele Scott

HAPPY HOUR
By Michele Scott
Published:  October 31, 2009

Four friends working in Napa Valley, Sundays are for fellowship, good food and wine. Jamie is editor-in-chief at "Wine Lover's Magazine," and a single mother. Before her husband died, she lived a fairy tale life. Guilt from his death keeps her from moving forward. Kat is a sommelier, and co-owner of a restaurant with her chef husband Christian. Although deeply in love they deal with a myriad of issues, including ex-spouses, Kat's teenage sons and her new age mother Venus. Danielle is a vintner who finds herself entrenched in both an identity and family crises when her eldest daughter returns home from college with a bombshell of a secret. Alyssa is an artist and gallery owner. When a tragic past event catches up with her, she must face the skeleton in her closet and rely on her friends to see her through her darkest hours. These women discover that friendship is the right prescription to get through the hard times as well as for enjoying the wonderful moments together.

It seems that the last few books I have read have been about women and friendships.  So, far all of them have been enjoyable reads and this one didn't disappoint either.  Even though this could be considered a "light" or "beach read", the topics covered in the story are not light.  Each of the women in the story have a crisis going on in their life and must find a way to overcome it.  Some of the situations were predictable, but there was just enough "surprise factor" to keep the reader interested.  Even though the women were all friends, it wasn't always easy for them to share everything about their lives, but once they did, the friendships became stronger and even more supportive.  I was wishing I had a group of friends like this to rally around when I was struggling. 

This isn't my first Michele Scott novel and even though this is different from her mystery series, I think Scott can be sucessful in writing a series for these women as well.  There was still much that can happen in the lives of these women to make another novel enjoyable.

As this book is read, every woman will realize how important the friends in her lives are.  You will realize you can't get through anything without your friends.  And, even though they may not give you the answers you want to hear, or understand your decisions, they will still be there for the long-haul.  As the story stated, "Life was always changing, never the same."  The one thing that did stay the same was their friendships - through all of it -divorce, death, family issues, parenting, teenagers, finances, aging parents, etc.    But isn't that what makes life interesting?  And each Sunday, as they gathered for wine, food, and support they realized "the only things they can really count on were friends, family and faith". 

Since Scott is also a wine lover, and has a passion for writing, horses, and cooking, I feel like we learned a little about her as well, as these were featured throughout the characters in the story.  The treat at the back of the book are the recipes for some of the dishes served at their Sunday gatherings. 

Since there are a lot of "hot topics" in the novel, this would also make for an excellent book club discussion.  There are even discussion questions included in the back of the book.  I'm a sucker for great friendship novels and this one didn't disappoint.  I gave this 4 out of 5 stars. 

If you would like to learn more about Michele Scott, check out her website HERE.  Scott also writes under the pen name A.K. Alexander.  For a list of all her books, check out her website. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things I Love -Summer Ball Season

Things I Love...


This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!

Today's love is...........................Summer Ball Season

All three of our kids play summer ball.  Our daughter played T-Ball for the first time this summer.  The boys were on our town's Little League team together.  So, most weeks we had 3 games to attend each week. My husband helps to coach the boys' team, so our daughter and I would set up the chair and blanket, get some popcorn or a walking taco and settle in for a few hours.  She would play with her friends and I would chat with the moms and cheer on our boys. It is always so much fun to watch them improve in their hitting and fielding.  Their confidence builds up over the season and they get so excited when they have a hit or make a catch or get an out.  Even though we didn't have a winning season, I saw huge improvement in many of our players.  It was sad to see the season end after the boys were really getting "in their grove".  Now that our games are over, summer is starting to wind down.  As of today, there are only 38 days left of summer.  Once you fit in a week-long summer class for me, vacation, dr appts, school shopping, and a few more pool days, summer will be over.  So, I'm going to try and cherish every last sunny day. 

Here are some photos from our ball season.  Enjoy the rest of your summer days!





Thursday, July 14, 2011

What I Learned From Genesis - Reading the Bible in 90 Days

As you know I have started reading the Bible.  I have 90 days to complete it and I am reading it with hundreds of other women.  Each week (and even day to day) we check-in with each other on our progress, to pray for each other, and to share our thoughts.  How cool is that?

So, I thought I would take each Book of the Bible and share my thoughts, verses, or people that stood out or spoke to me on that particular day.  I have been doing most of my reading in the mornings when it is quiet, but some days I have to finish up in the afternoon or evening.  The key is to get it done.  Even if you have to carry over into the next day...that happens.  The readings are manageable and I am still praying it stays that way for me.

So, here are my thoughts from the Book of Genesis:

I didn't know that Adam was the one who named all the creatures and not God.

I am amazed at the ages that Noah and Adam lived to - 950 and 930 years.

Genesis 4:7  tells me "Sin is crouching at my door".  How true!

Genesis 15:1  God tells Abram "Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward." How amazing that would be to hear that from God.  What a great calm that would create over your life!

Genesis 18 - I learned that God knows when we doubt Him. 

Genesis 22 - I was amazed at how trusting Abraham was of God.  So willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  He never spoke the questions I would have like, Why finally give Sarah and I a son to only take him from us?  How could you do this to Sarah?  But, Abraham was obedient and God rewarded him. 

Genesis 25 - Isaac's great trust in God is an awesome lesson about how we need to let God lead our lives.  Also, we learn from Esau that choosing immediate satisfaction can have long range consequences.  How often do I crave immediate satisfaction without thinking it through?

Genesis 29-31 - Even in Biblical times, there was rampant sex, lies, and immaturity.  Am I reading the Bible or a Harlequin novel?

Genesis 34 - Saddened for Dinah to be sold to the same man who raped her.  But, then horrified by Simeon and Levi taking matters into their own hands.  Evil doesn't = Evil

Was "incest" not part of the vocabulary during this time?????

Genesis 37-50 - Just in awe of the lies and deceit that happened between Jacob/Israel's sons.  They watched their father mourn a son they knew wasn't dead.  The pain Joseph felt having his own brothers in his home and they didn't recognize him and having to pretend he didn't know his own brothers.  Then Joseph's lesson for all of us on forgiveness. 

No matter when you are wronged or do wrong....God knows.  You may be persecuted, but through hope and steadfast devotion, you can make the best out of any situation.  God will bring good out of it.   

These are my thoughts from the readings.  You may have different thoughts and feelings about these chapters.  I could read this again on a different day and likely have different things jump out at me.  If you haven't read Genesis yet, open up a Bible and give it a try.  The stories are full, rich and deep and actually a bit jaw-dropping at times.

Next up.......Exodus!

What We Want You to Know

This summer our son, Patrick, attended the nations best (in my opinion) Speech Camp called UI SPEAKS at the University of Iowa Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center.  SPEAKS stands for Speech Programs Educating Adults and Kids who Stutter.  Wendell Johnson was one of the founding fathers of the speech pathology program and part of its roots is the field of stuttering.  Patrick started attending this center this spring after our school speech pathologist and the University felt this would be a great program for him.  After attending group for a week or two each month, he then attended several session of Speech Camp.  This camp is so well known that there were kids there from as far away as Alaska as well as other states in the Midwest. 

As parents, stuttering can be frustrating.  You want your child to be successful and speak clearly as many times that is your first impression.  But, we have also learned many famous people were stutterers as well.  Some of these names may surprise you:
Mel Tillis
James Earl Jones
Nicole Kidman
Joseph Biden
John Stossel
Bruce Willis
Marilyn Monroe
Mike Rowe
Marc Anthony
Tiger Woods
Lewis Carroll
Jane Seymour
and many more.....check HERE for more.
Also, for more information on stuttering, you can check out the Stuttering Foundation website at http://www.stutteringhelp.org/.  We have learned a lot about stuttering and how to adapt and accept this difficulty.  If you haven't seen The King's Speech, it was an excellent movie, but one that also showed how frustrating stuttering can be for the person who has it.  It was an emotional movie for me.

Below is a video the kids at the Speech Camp put together to show how fun their time together was, but more importantly to teach others about stuttering.  If you want to know more about the program at the University of Iowa, there will be contact information at the end of the video.  The "What We Want You to Know" from the kids is......powerful!

Our son, Patrick gives his message at 3:31 and is featured several times throughout the video....even doing "the worm" and during a music video!







This time at the Speech Camp was such a great experience for him.  He was able to spend time with kids who know what it is like to stutter and learn how others cope with it.  He learned strategies to be able to handle his speech better.  The stutter may always be there, but he has definitely improved his approach.  There will always be situations where he is excited or nervous and the stutter will come out, but he now has strategies to use to control it.  I can't say how proud I am of him and how he handles his stuttering.  He doesn't let it affect his attitude or whether he has a conversation with someone.  He got to meet some awesome people during his camp including Adrian Clayborn, former Hawkeye football player and current Tampa Bay Buc and Matt Gatens, Hawkeye basketball player.  Huge deals for Patrick!!!

Thanks so much to Hannah, Annie, Toni, and all the others who helped make this camp possible for some awesome kids.  I can't recommend the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center enough.  If your child needs help in any of those areas and you live close to IA City, please give them a call!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How the Message Was Truly A Message for Me

Sunday, we attended our church....finally...after being away for a month.  Busy weekends have kept us away.  The Scripture Readings included Matthew 13 and the Parable of the Four Soils. 
Here are the words from Matthew 13:18-23
Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path.  The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, makng it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop yielding a hundred sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

I was so glad we were able to go to church!  As I heard the scripture reading I remembered learning that parable in my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) study.  Then I realized as our Pastor was giving the message, that he was speaking right to me.  Isn't that such an amazing feeling when the message intended for all to hear was maybe just what I needed to hear?  Was God encouraging me that morning that I could take on this task?  As I listened, I thought about my 90 days ahead of reading God's Word, and I realized I needed to be the "good soil".  I needed to be sure my heart was ready to accept the "seeds" of God's Word.  If my mind/heart is full of rocks, weeds, and thorns I won't be openly ready to accept what God is telling me.  I have to make sure the soil of my heart isn't packed down hard and unwilling to accept those seeds he is going to drop down each day.  But, I can't just have loose soil ready to accept the seeds.  It needs to be nourished soil where the seeds can penetrate into the soil.  Where those seeds can then germinate and grow.  I can't let the weeds and thorns come in and prevent those seeds of God's word to take root and multiply.


What are the rocks, thorns and weeds in my life that will prevent God's seeds from growing in me?  Those who laugh and think I am crazy for trying to do this.  My own mind, who isn't sure even I can complete this monumental task.  All those daily distractions we choose to do instead of what is important. 

So, I am going to keep rocks, thorns and weeds from taking ahold of my heart.  Each day I will ask God to bring his "Special Roundup Weed Killer" and get rid of them so I can be ready to accept new seeds of His words every day.  Then it will be my job to nourish, water, and grow those seeds.  I can already feel some growing these last 2 days.  I can't wait to see the garden that blooms after 90 days!  Anyone that has a garden, knows that every day, weeds are trying to come in, so it is a daily job to keep those weeds out.  It isn't an easy job and some weeds will get though, but God's seeds are strong and if your soil is nourished, the seeds will beat out the weeds and thorns!

One of my mom's many beautiful gardens - tended daily with love!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Nutella Hazelnut Spread



Thanks to Mom Central, I was able to receive a sample of Nutella Hazelnut Spread.  I remember as a child, my neighbor was from Italy and they used Nutella on EVERYTHING.  There was always a jar of it on their counter.  I had never heard of it before and I was not interested in trying it as I was a picky eater as a child. 
Lately I have been seeing Nutella popping up on store shelves.  I love having peanut butter on my Eggo waffles in the morning.  So, I decided to substitute the Nutella and try it on my waffles.  YUM!!!  I loved it.  It was just the kick I needed this morning!  It has a light hazelnut taste along with the chocolate.  Who doesn't want to eat chocolate for breakfast?????

Along with the sample, the company sent along some recipes including idea for putting Nutella on an English muffin and topping with strawberries.  Another idea was to spread Nutella on a tortilla and topping with dried herries and chopped apricots.  Then roll it up and eat on the go!  By visiting http://www.nutellausa.com/ you can find many more ideas on how to use Nutella.  I am looking forward to trying it with apples.

My three children tried the Nutella just by putting some on their finger and tasting it and were surprised by how good it tasted.  Darn! Now I am going to have to share it with them! :)

I will be adding a jar of Nutella to my shopping list and keeping it in stock! 

I was provided with a sample of Nutella and $1 coupon as compensation for this review.  This review is my honest opinion and I wouldn't review anything that wouldn't benefit myself or my family.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  Thanks to Mom Central for the review opportunity.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It Must Be A God Thing

As I mentioned last week, I have decided to join in with hundreds of other women by reading the Bible in 90 days.  All of us together, reading and soaking up God's Word for the next 3 months.  This journey starts on Monday.  You can read my post HERE.  So, anyway, each of us are placed in a Mentor Group so we can receive support from someone who has done this huge, monumental task before.  I was excited to see my blogging friend Jenni from Sincerely Jenni and I were placed in the same group.  I thought THAT was a God Thing.  Then to my complete amazement, I found out my Mentor, Karen, lives just 20 minutes from me in another small town!  Out of the hundreds of women and mentors participating in this challenge, I think that is utterly amazing.  So that is my God Thing #2.  Karen has a great bio and blogs about her life HERE.  I encourage you to be enlightened by Karen and her message!  So, I guess God really wants me to do this Bible reading challenge!  He has placed some amazing women in my life to support and encourage me.  Now, I just need to do my part. 

So, starting on Monday, please pray that I can structure my days to read and soak in His Word.  Pray that I can make uninterrupted time for it every day.  Pray that His words speak to me and open up my heart to receive them.  Pray that when I am struggling through the tough chapters, He keeps me plugging through.  Thank you.

I will keep you posted on my progress and my thoughts during this journey.  I know it will be tough, but I think the reward is so worth it. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things I Love - Orange Julius

Things I Love...


This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!

Today's love is...........................ORANGE JULIUS


This past weekend we traveled to Des Moines for a little weekend getaway.  While shopping at the Jordan Creek Mall my husband noticed the ORANGE JULIUS counter.  It had been a long time since we had seen one of those and he bought one.  We realized our kids had never tried it and we had forgotten how goooooood they were.  YUM!  Our kids loved it and drank it right up.  I promised when we got home,  I would try to find the recipe online and make it.  Well, sure enough I found several recipes for it online, but the one that worked for me was from http://www.food.com/.  So, if you need a little ORANGE JULIUS in your day, get out your blender and whip one up!

ORANGE JULIUS
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Water
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 Ice Cubes

Blend together until ice is all blended with the ingredients.  Makes 2 8oz servings. 

Trust me....it'll take you back to the good-ol' days of shopping at the mall with your friends, drinking an ORANGE JULIUS! If you have an ORANGE JULIUS at your local mall, you better go run out and buy one! :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: JOY FOR BEGINNERS By Erica Bauermeister

JOY FOR BEGINNERS
By Erica Bauermeister
Published June 9, 2011

At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.


On June 11th, I blogged about how excited I was to read this book.  I was NOT disappointed!  As I said, I loved the premise behind this book.  The story begins with the Victory Party at Kate's to celebrate her victory over cancer.  At this party, she declares she is going to do the one thing she fears.  Her fear, chosen by her adult daughter, was to go white water rafting.  Then, Kate announces that everyone else needs to do the one thing each of them fears, but Kate gets to pick the adventure.  From there each chapter focuses on one friend, their life and their fear.  Each fear varied from the seemingly simple one of baking bread to getting a tatoo.  But each one has an emotional component to it that makes the challenge that much more difficult.  Each chapter flows beautifully to the next with some character's lives wrapped into the next one.  You will find yourself holding your breath as each woman breaks through her fear and comes out on the other side.  The book's last chapter is Kate's story.  It covers her ups and downs with cancer, her adventure and why she assigned the particular fears to each of her friends.  
I purposely read this book slow because I could tell from the very first chapter, that I was going to love it and not want the story to end.  Each woman in the story was unique in her fears, but everyone that reads this could identify with at least one of the women.  I found myself identifying with Sara, the mom of 3 kids.  Some of them had such pain and heartache in their lives that you felt their fear while reading their chapter; holding your breath right along with them.

There is no doubt this book would be a great read for book clubs.  The story offers many avenues for discussion topics.  The author also leave many things to the imagination, not always tidying up every character's situation.  She leaves you wondering......now what?

I think this has become my favorite book so far this year, ranking it 5 out of 5 stars. I know it is one I will pick up and read again.  This book left me wanting more from Kate and her amazing group of friends.  Maybe there will be more to the story.  Thanks to Putnam for sending me a copy of this book to review.

To purchase a copy of JOY FOR BEGINNERS, click the photo below:



I was given a copy of this book for review purposes only.  This is my honest opinion.  If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Things I Love - Sleep Pants

Things I Love...

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love!

Today's love is...........................Sleep Pants
 
These sleep pants are Gilligan O'Malley Women's Fluid Knit Pajama Pants from Target for $14.99.  I first found out about them from my cousin, Melanie who wore them all the time and said how comfortable they were.  So, one day while shopping at Target I decided to check them out.  They can be found in the lounge wear/pj area of Target.  I have fallen in LOVE with them!  I went back and bought two more.  I now have them in black, grey and coral.  I wear them every night to bed.  I've worn them all day when I am staying home for the day.  They are just the best pants.  They also wash up well.  I got my pants at Target, but I saw they were also available on Amazon. 

They is nothing better than sleeping in, snuggling on the couch with your kids, watching their favorite show, and drinking a cup of coffee in these comfy pants and a tank top!  It's my new summer wardrobe (around the house)!