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Monday, April 27, 2015

Everyday Grace

Everyday Grace by Jessica Thompson is a perfect nudge on how to "infuse all your relationships with the love of Jesus". 

"A sought-after speaker at counseling conferences, Thompson teaches that it's not our job to "fix" the people we're in relationship with, but instead to reveal and receive the grace of Jesus in everything from our interactions with spouses to lunch conversations at work."

The thing I love about this book is that Thompson is very humble in her teachings. She clearly states, time and time again, that she is still learning the things that she is preaching. Because it's easy to know what we should do, it's so much harder to actually do it.

This book isn't going to fix all your problems. But it is going to give you a different perspective and help you, as well as your relationships, reach a bigger potential. 

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

Brain Splat

Can I just say YAY!! about this week's weather forecast? 
Did any of you have this Fisher-Price kitchen set during your childhood? I remember mine fondly and was thrilled to find one, in pristine condition, at a garage sale last week. For $5! Amy has been cooking up a storm with it. Joe got the Fisher-Price barn, school, and cabin. All items I had during my childhood as well.
They bring back such fond memories. Toys just aren't made the same these days and I'm hoping these vintage ones entertain the kids for years to come. 

I found this passage (click on picture to make it larger) in the book Everyday Grace (review to come later today).

It was interesting to me, what an atheist says about sharing your faith.

I love this short article on child loss. 

This may be a jewelry commercial, but it made me tear up. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

U.S. Cellular Top Five

You all know that I am a recent convert to the mobile world. While I've had a cellphone for years, it was an old school pay-as-you-go basic phone. No camera, no internet. It's been less than a year since I've been working with U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade and testing out my iPhone 5s. 

With being a new smartphone user, there are always questions on how to use the device more efficiently. Below are the top five questions most cellphone users have.

*How can I make my device charge faster?

    The fastest way to charge your device is to turn it off and plug it in. The screen needs the most power and many devices have apps that continually run. If you don't want to turn it off, switch it to airplane mode, which will disconnect you from data and wi-fi. 

*What is the best way to disinfect my mobile phone?

    The best way is to use a screen protector, which you can then disinfect with alcohol wipes. Pre-soaked wipes aren't recommended as the moisture in them can damage the device. You can also spray a soft cloth with ethyl or isopropyl alcohol (making sure it is just damp, not wet). Turn off your device and wipe down carefully. 

*Can my smartphone read text and e-mail out loud to me?

   Most of the latest devices have this internally, and you can set voice control to your preference. If it does not have this feature, download the Voice Commands app.

*How can I take a photo on a tablet without needing two hands to focus and snap the shutter?

   Most devices have auto focus and allow the user to touch anywhere on the screen to focus the shot. Apps such as Say Cheese Camera also let you use voice control to take pictures, turn on the flash, and rotate photos on the screen. 

*Can my smartphone alert me to messages other than through sound or vibration?

   Most smartphones have LED lights that can flash different colors for e-mails, text messages, and phone calls. 

This post is sponsored by U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade.   

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the Mouths of Babes...

As Amy was reading a Star Wars book today she said her first complete sentence... "I love Boba Fett."
 I then said, "Do you love mama?" 
"BOBA FETT!!!" she screams. 
Point taken. 

Me to Joe: "I hope you didn't get your friend sick when you were at his house."
Joe: "That was a long time ago. It was Back in the future."
On a different day
Joe: "We need to get some of those pink birds, that stand like this (strikes a pose of a flamingo), like they have on Mama's Family!"

Me: "Amy, can you tell me a story?"
Amy: "Story!"

Joe: "Did you already watch this book?"
I have failed as a mother.

Joe: "Do dad's cook food?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Joe: "Like, if the mom falls down the steps and has to go to the hospital, does the dad cook?"
Me: "Wow, that's pretty specific."

Joe: "Did you have milkmen when you were little?"
Me: "No! I'm not that old"
Joe: "Well, you didn't have color."
Strange, strange boy.

Me: "Two kids were abducted from that place."
Becca: "See, I told you aliens were real!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Leather, Rinse, Repeat

I ran across, on Instagram, a way to clean up leather a few weeks ago. It reminded me of a favorite purse that I have, which I set aside due to some staining and wear.

I bought this Fossil purse at a garage sale several years ago, for something like $2 or $4. It's such a nice leather, and reminds me of a well worn saddle.

Once on vacation I bent down to observe some sea urchins in an aquarium and my purse fell in! The man opposite just stared at me, like "You dumb idiot!" and I wanted to shout "That's the least of my clumsiness!" 

Alas, my purse became somewhat water stained and dingy so I put it away in the closet.

Since I didn't have much to lose, I decided to try this little trick to clean up the leather. These are the before pictures: 

I added some warm water to a bowl and one (just one teeny tiny drop) of blue Dawn dish washing soap. I used a microfiber rag, got it wet, and rubbed the water into the outside of the bag. It's scary, because it does dampen and darken the leather and I was scared the whole time that I was ruining it (worse than it already was).

I then let it dry and it dried to a nice, clean, fawn colored purse, which I'm sure is what it looked like when bought new. These after photos show a cleaner, prettier bag:

I probably wouldn't try it with a $200 purse but when it's clean it or ditch it, it's worth a try to save it! I bet there is actual leather cleaner that you can buy, but I'm happy with these results!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Finding Me

"A Contemporary Drama of Family Lies and Forgotten Loves After her father and stepmother's accidental death, Kelli Huddleston sorts through their belongings and learns a shocking secret. Years before, her father faked his death during a boat wreck at sea--and faked Kelli's as well." Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman.

I started this book last night and had to finish it this afternoon! It is a Christian book but doesn't push or preach so I think anyone who enjoys a drama/chick-lit would enjoy this book. It moves along smoothly with a good plot that keeps you entertained.

I found the character Beth to be slightly annoying, when in fact I think the author intended her to be endearing. She just didn't seem to have a filter. All the characters are interesting and likeable though and it was an all around good book!

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Stopping to smell the flowers
First book choice from a Free Little Library
Cheerful table cloths

Happy rocks
Picnic blankets (retro ones!!)
Early blooms (God's beauty)

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Today was such a beautiful day that we decided to head to a local park to enjoy a picnic lunch and some hiking.
We grabbed some leftover pizza from the fridge and filled a couple bottles of water and headed off. The sunshine and slight breeze carried us off on an adventure.
Though there is always one missing piece to our puzzle. The last time I was at this particular park was right after Jacob's funeral. So it's no doubt that he was on my mind as only three of my four children marched ahead. 
Suddenly I got the thought in my head, "Keep an eye on the rocks." It seemed silly to hike, looking directly down at my feet. But over and over again I got the feeling I should be looking for a special rock. Soon I mentioned it to my husband. Only a short while later he exclaims, "Look at this upside down 7!" While the number 7 was Jacob's favorite number, it's quite clear that it is really a J formed in the rock.

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Go Ahead & Like It

Go Ahead & Like It by Jacqueline Suskin is a "scrapbook-style art book invitation to write lists of things you like: small things that bring delight, intriguing things that excite, and meaningful things that make every day special."

It's really something that we should do every day - find delight in the small things. Savor the simple. Appreciate.

This book is so adorable. It's filled with other lists, pictures, and prompts of what to write. So it's not just a blank canvas, but rather a fun book to add our own touch to. It would also make a neat coffee table book and be a fun book to read out loud to see what other people think. What do others "like"? What do you "like"?

My list will include:

*Toes in warm sand

*Cold glass of iced tea

*A smooth writing pen

*The smell of paper and ink

To sit down and journal it, contemplate it, focus on it all will be a sort of mediation. And I will be left with an awesome little journal of my likes. Love it! 

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Good Morning?!

I snuck downstairs extra early this morning. I could hear the birds chirping out the window and see the sun starting to rise.

I put the tea kettle on, ready to make my chai tea. Opened up the curtains to let the early morning sunlight in. Was about to get my devotional out. 

Foot steps on the stairs. Not one, but two, sets of footsteps.

How is it, that two children in completely different rooms, can sense their mother's happiness at some precious alone time and immediately wake up to crush it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April IPSY Bag Review

My April IPSY bag is here! 
The theme this month is "Beautifully Bohemian"and the bag reflects that! My bag includes:
*Mullein & Sparrow tinted lip and cheek stain. All natural and handmade. This is my favorite out of the bunch!

*MICA Beauty Eye Primer 

*The Balm Nude Dude eyeshadow

*Lather ultra light face lotion

*Hikari blush (Tango)...enough with the blush already, IPSY!

The bag itself is adorable and my favorite yet (I know I say this every time but it's true). 

I'll be using everything but the blush, as I have so much of that already. IPSY is just $10 a month and you get a makeup bag and 4-5 sample (and sometimes full-size products!).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I was watching Call the Midwife on DVD last week when a quote hit me square in the chest. "Sometimes you have to just live until you're alive again."

Some days involve just living. When you lose a piece of yourself you can feel lost. I equate a lot of my days as walking through a fog. You aren't really aware of what is around you. You look back on past days and everything is...well...foggy. Some days are better than others.

I've hit the one and a half year mark. One and a half years without Jacob. It's unfathomable. I miss his smile. I miss his precious little hands. I miss his courage and strength. I miss him. 

Last night I was reading a Make a Wish newsletter that arrived in the mail. I was okay until I got to a picture of a 15 year old boy who had reminded me of Jacob. His slim little wrists. His pale face. Helping to cut up his brother's food in the photo. I lost it. Because of the pain I know this boy has had to go through. Because I wanted to see my own boy reach the age of 15.

Sitting in the waiting room of the orthodontist and hearing a young teen boy speak to his mother. Hearing that deep, yet sometimes squeaky, voice of a teen boy. I'll never hear that. Watching another gangly teen boy grab his chart and walk into the back. His skinny arms and bony elbows as he grows into himself. I'll never be able to watch my boy change into a man.

The pain is everywhere. Seeing Jacob's boots thrown on the dining room floor. Because they are now Joe's boots. But for just a second, one tiny little moment, I was about to ask Jacob to move his boots.

My whole family at the park on Easter, enjoying the sunshine. Except, my whole family was not there. A big empty space was present without my dad and Jacob. Their absence seemed to encompass the whole day.

Joe riding Jacob's bike. Becca picking up a shirt at the thrift store with a pink and green NERD candy on the front, with the words "Best Friends". She says "Jacob loves NERDS! And his favorite color is green and mine is pink! I'll get this for Jacob!"

Using present tense instead of past tense. She meant she will wear it in honor/memory/love of Jacob. An 11 year old girl who lost the brother who was only 21 months younger than herself. Who was her best friend for 8 years. 

It's painful to have a piece of your heart missing. The pain is an actual ache. Some moments you can feel your chest tightening. Other moments it's hard to breath. Sometimes you feel shaky. Or sick. Or even scared. Grief is not just an emotional state. It's a physical one as well. 

It's a part of our life, forever and ever. Because Jacob is no longer here we will always be missing a piece of ourselves. And because of that, we will always be part of the walking wounded. Our scars, our missing parts, may not be visible to those around us, but we've been to war and come back without one of us. That leaves a wound that will never heal.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This Week

*It's been rainy and gloomy. You know, April showers bring May flowers and all that jazz. It may be chilly yet tomorrow but I think it's supposed to be dry so I look forward to hanging out some laundry and working in the flower beds and garden. 

I'm wanting to tear out the old, dying shrubs along the west side of our house and plant some type of shady shrub on the west side of the porch...a fragrant shady shrub. Any suggestions? I'm thinking mock orange or something along those lines.

*I've gotten a Facebook page set up for my Etsy shop so feel free to like it if you'd like updates. I'm not doing much with the shop at all right now (though I did just send out two orders in one week after a long lapse of orders) but do plan to list things within the next few months. Little pop ups of new items. :)

*We are catching up on school work by not taking a spring break around here. The kids don't mind (since I didn't mention spring break to begin with!) and we may be able to finish earlier than most schools around here this summer. With that said, we will be continuing with math and reading throughout the summer, as I notice things go more smoothly in those areas without that long break.

*Spring cleaning.  Lots of spring cleaning. I love, love, love this quote and am taking it to heart. This shall be my motto this year. :)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


 Savor; Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist is a daily devotional, yet so much more.

I read Niequist's book Bread & Wine last year and enjoyed it. She has a lovely way of writing and her descriptions take you there. The same carries over to this devotional - less preachy and more "conversation around the table".

Recipes are included as well, "because spiritual living happens not just when we read and pray, but also when we gather with family and friends over dinners and breakfasts and late-night snacks." And also because Niequist is a "foodie", so putting her heart and soul into this devotional means to bring it back to the table.

Can I just talk about the actual book as well? We may be taught not to judge a book by it's cover but it was love at first sight for me. It's a hefty size and a sturdy book. The pages are beautiful, an attached ribbon for marking your place, and a layout that is perfect. I savor the book alone for those facts! ;) It looks like the perfect book for gift giving as well (hint, Mother's Day is coming up!) and is beautiful enough that you will want to show it off on an end table or carry it around with you. 

I look forward to including this in my morning routine. 

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Grocery Update

I've done both good and bad with my grocery shopping and budgeting. 

Bad because I still haven't kept track of how much groceries are costing us weekly.

Good because I have made changes for the better.

One of the biggest changes is shopping mainly from the sales flyer each week and stocking up on the loss leaders. Eggs were on sale for 99 cents a dozen so I got 4 dozen. Butter was $1.29 (or was it $1.59? Either way, it was cheap!) so I got the limit of two. When it's a good deal, I'm grabbing and stocking up on several to last us until the next sale.

The biggest change for us is that we make a few trips a month to the local Amish salvage store. What is that, you ask? When a grocery store has items damaged in shipping (dented cans and boxes) or close to expiration dates they often send them to "salvage" where businesses can buy large boxes often by the pound and resell them. While you have to watch closely for the expiration dates (I don't mind a month or two expired as "best buy" dates are often just suggestions) the deals there can not be beat.

The nice thing about this store is that items come from all over the country, so you can find things that you can't buy anywhere locally. You never know what you will find so if there is something awesome I grab them all! 

For example, my last shopping trip netted:

*R.W. Knudsen Organic Blueberry Pomegranate Juice for 75 cents a bottle. I know that our local health food store sells this brand for over $4 a bottle. The expiration date is not until 2016 so I bought all 8 bottles they had.

*A 12 bar package of Clif Kid Z organic brownie Bars for 75 cents. Expiration date of Sept 2015 and the box just slightly dented.

*Celestial Tea boxes. These are "holiday flavors" such as Sugar Plum Spice and Pumpkin Spice. They don't expire until 2016. I bought all the boxes they had, probably 10 in total for 50 cents each. 

*Deliciously Organic Better Baking Blend (Coconut and Cane Sugar). Doesn't expire until July and was just 50 cents for a pound of it. I bought the two bags they had.

*Annie's Organic whole wheat shells and extra cheesy cheddar sauce. 75 cents a box and expired a month. My kids like mac and cheese for lunch sometimes so I bought all 10 boxes they had. These sell for over $2 a box at the store. I think more like $3 since they are the creamy deluxe version.

*Starbucks and Green Mountain Ground Coffee for $3 and $2.50 a bag.

This is just a sampling of what I have bought there. For example...I have chicken in the crockpot for supper and topped it with a jar of natural salsa I bought there for 65 cents. I will add in the Zataran's Red Beans and Rice mix that I bought for 30 cents a box. It will be rolled into a tortilla and topped with cheese for a very inexpensive supper.

Next step is to keep track of my weekly spending. We shall see how that goes! ;)

Monday, April 6, 2015

The World Before Us

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter sounded like my type of book. 

"When she was just fifteen, smart, sensitive Jane Standen lived through a nightmare: she lost the sweet five-year-old girl she was minding during a walk in the woods. The little girl was never found, leaving her family, and Jane, devastated. Now the grown-up Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As her one last project, she is searching the archives for scraps of information related to another missing person--a woman who disappeared some 125 years ago from a Victorian asylum. As the novel moves back and forth between the museum in contemporary London, the Victorian asylum, and a dilapidated country house that seems to connect both missing people, it unforgettably explores the repercussions of small acts, the power of affection, and the irrepressible vitality of everyday objects and events."

It was just so hard to get into, and by page 100 I decided to just be finished with it. The sad thing is that the story itself was quite interesting. I liked learning things about the museum and the asylum. 

But the narration is done by a group of spirits. And while that could have turned it into a very interesting book (I love looking into the spiritual realm) I only got confused instead. I never knew who was who, what was what, and felt lost the whole way through. By page 50 I started to skim and continued to lose interest. I can't finish a book that leaves me feeling so lost on the dialog. 

This book was sent to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.   

Links I'm Loving

Yesterday I saw this post on my Facebook feed and thought it was quite the perfect post for an Easter Sunday. What better day to preach love than on Easter when Jesus rose again, after being crucified for all of us. Jesus is love. Let us emulate that love for others. 

The post isn't so much about gay marriage, but rather to leave judging to God and instead love people no matter what. A reminder for us all (myself included).

I love this post about the couple who leaves a yearly gift in honor of the brother he/she lost years ago. Keeping his memory alive with kindness.

This bike! I found it on clearance at our local Walmart...for $70! I've been cruising the town on it and loving it for quick trips to the post office, library, grocery store, etc. 

Grilled cabbage? Sounds weird, tastes delicious! 
This quote from C.S. Lewis and picture from Google images. So, so true.   

Friday, April 3, 2015

For the Faithful

What better day to review a new religious subscription box but Good Friday? For the Faithful is a new-to-me box that will encourage you monthly with a wide range of products for any believer. 
The theme for the March box is a reminder of God's love for us! 

Footprints by Margaret Fishback Powers is a nice hardcover book filled with scripture with reflections inspired by the best-loved poem. Beautiful pictures inside and this would make a perfect coffee table or end table book.

The Creation DVD told by Amy Grant. Ages 6 and up.

An adorable bracelet with Rejoice in the LORD always (Phil. 4:4). I would wear this myself but think I will stick it in Becca's Easter basket instead.

An adorable little pink notebook with "You are precious to God and He loves you (Isa. 43:4)" on the front. I like to carry a notebook with me to write anything and everything inside so I will stick this in my purse.

FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1) magnet.

A heavy "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) cross.

This fit the theme wonderfully and was a great variation of useful items. While this would be a great box for myself, I also see gifting this for a few months (prices start at $13.99 a box if you opt for the longer subscription). This would be great for someone newly confirmed or baptized, a Christian you know who is going through a difficult time, or just a monthly surprise for someone you love! Use the code $SAVENOW for $4 off your first box

This box was sent to me by For the Faithful in exchange for my honest review.


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