Monday, December 6, 2010

Then Sings My Soul

Then Sings My Soul has been a very interesting book to read. It was another book provided to me by Thomas Nelson in exchange for a book review. I was amazed how many hymns were still familiar to me from my Lutheran upbringing. I realized, as reading many of these hymns and their accompanying stories, how deep the meaning is behind the words. I think as I was growing up I just sang the songs, not thinking about the meaning behind the words. But now, as I've matured or maybe just grown in my faith, they are so powerful!
Here are a couple stanzas I bookmarked for their powerfulness:

You have longed for sweet peace,
And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest, or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest, and have peace nad sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

I am giving this book four stars. I would have preferred the hymns to be grouped by author/composer or time period rather than by type of hymn. Several of the stories were linked together (and sometimes noted) but were not near each other in the book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Nativity Collection

This is another book provided to me by Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for the review. This Christmas book has six individual stories in it. The photographs are gorgeous throughout, making this book a great gift or coffee table book. Each story is short, yet meaningful. Even though it is only October, I found myself wanting to get in the Christmas spirit! The true meaning of Christmas is to remember Jesus coming for each and everyone of us - and all six of these stories remind you of just that! If you want to give a Christmas gift to the person who already has everything, this will do it!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homeschool: Organized

I hear a lot of, "You are so organized!" and, "If I could just get organized, our school day would go so much smoother!" and, "How do you organize your day?"

So I thought I would take a bit of time to share what works for us. I enjoy reading and seeing what other people are doing and what works for them and then adapting it to us. Since we have found our groove this year - after a lot of trial and error - I thought I would put my two cents out there for others as well. Maybe you can build on some of our ideas for yourself... or just call me the crazy-too-organized-lady (as some people do)!

First of all is our bookshelf:The top of the bookshelf has a Pampered Chef Turn-About that holds extra pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, etc. There is also an electric pencil sharpener on top of the bookshelf, a three-hole-punch, and the drawers holding paper (blank, graph, lined, colored). The top shelf holds my daughter's workbooks, folders, binder, etc. on the left; my son's are on the right. My extras (that I want available but do not need on a daily basis) are in the middle between their two colored binders. The bottom shelf has the oversized books, construction paper, a marker box, and another box with the extra school supplies that we don't need right now (staples, glue, tape, compass, etc.).
*Oh, and let me say that the workbooks really do stay neat like that - it is not just for the picture. They were constantly falling over causing the books to get bent, hidden behind each other, and driving me crazy! For some reason bookends were too complicated/too much work for my children so we splurged and bought these magazine holders. They were worth every penny!
My "favorite" organization tool is my six-drawer rolling cart. I keep just about everything I need for school in it. I roll it against the wall when we aren't doing school and roll it right up to the table during school time. The top drawer holds the papers I need for record keeping as well as the books we use for Bible. The next drawers, labeled Language, Math, Geography, Science, and Art, hold the teacher's guides for each subject as well as the textbooks we are using.
The top of it holds a few pens and pencils, an eraser, a calculator, a timer (for Spelling Power), our date stamp (I have my children date stamp all of their work), our math flashcards (we drill one operation each day), and an index card box that holds blank cards for vocabulary and our letter tiles for spelling.
The children's favorite "tool" this year is the list of tasks hanging on the pantry door. They love seeing things marked off the list and quickly seeing what they still need to do. I just used Contact paper to cover the list of subjects colorfully written on a couple sheets of paper taped together. (I am so proud of myself for letting go of my perfectionism and not having this list typed!) When a subject is complete, checked, and errors corrected, they mark it with a square. (I quickly made these squares out of nine Perler Beads each -see my earlier post about Perler Beads) The squares are stuck with sticky tack for easy moving. On days we don't have a certain subject, the children mark it before we start school.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Christmas Prayer

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER by Amy Parker was provided to me through Thomas Nelson Publishers through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. This is a great children's board book! Even though my children are older, I believe I can never have too many Christmas books or too many children's books!
This book is written in a sing-songy rhyming pattern, making it very appealing to young listeners. Each page thanks God for a different part of the Christmas story - from Gabriel who brought Mary the news, to Mary and Joseph, to the donkey and manger, the shepherds, the star, and ending with Jesus. What a great way to tell the Christmas story! Five stars!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The sixth book I was provided to review through the Book Sneeze program was LIVING WITH CONFIDENCE IN A CHAOTIC WORLD by Dr. David Jeremiah. This book was not at all what I was expecting and, therefore, was very hard to get into and process. I am sure this is a great book for people interested in reading about "the end times" but I am not one of those people...

The chapters are each titled as a command or a direction to the reader: Stay Calm, Stay Confident, Stay Connected, etc. Those are all great things to do and he has biblical evidence to support his teaching. However, the book is very wordy. I think his point could easily have come across in less than half the two-hundred-plus pages.

Sorry, Dr. David Jeremiah - it just wasn't what I expected or what I was looking for as reading material...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shepherding a Child's Heart

This is an incredible book! If you want a child who obeys - not just for the sake of obeying but because they know it is right, this book will lead you there! "It's being concerned with not only the 'what' or 'what happened,' but also about the 'why.'"
I was convicted in my parenting on so many levels reading this book! Many times I felt like arguing with the author... until I realized this is all completely based on God's Word. Arguing with God doesn't work too well...
Here are some things I definitely need to remember:
*"We don't discipline for childishness even when it is terribly inconvenient." (oops!)
*that when the discipline is over, it is over - the slate is clean; don't hold a grudge
*"The attitudes you display teach either biblical submission or unbiblical independence and rebellion."
* "Respectful teenagers are developed when they are 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, not 13, 14, 15, or 16."
*"Never allow your children to disobey without dealing with them. When they disobey, they are moving out of the circle of God's blessing into a place of grave peril." - this one really convicted me... sometimes it is just much easier to let it go or ignore it rather than deal with it - after all, it wasn't THAT big of a deal... but that little thing will just grow.

I could go on and on!!!! Read this book! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

All Purpose Cleaner

I made my own cleaner and I am so impressed! Thank you, Raising Homemakers!

Here is what I did:
In a large spray bottle I put 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Borax, and 8 ounces of hot water. I swished that around so the Borax would dissolve and then added a few drops of Dawn dish soap and 8 more ounces of hot water. Then I added five drops of lemon teagrass essential oil. I shook it well and used it to clean my sticky countertops that nothing else has worked on. It worked!!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Am Hutterite

The fifth book provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review was I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby.
This book took me a long time to get through. There were so many characters and I really had a hard time following. It wasn't until I was more than halfway through the book that I realized there was a family tree and a Hutterite Language Glossary at the back of the book. Had I noticed that earlier, it would have helped immensely.
Reading about the Hutterites and how they live: feeling so sheltered and protected, yet feeling trapped at the same time was fascinating. I enjoyed reading about daily life in the Hutterite Community, how life worked with no personal property and everyone sharing in all the work. It was also interesting to see how, when leaving the community, the author's family started over with nothing and yet managed to be successful.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Perler Beads

Here is a wonderful (inexpensive - around $10 for 5000 beads plus pegboards) craft that has kept my kids busy all summer: Perler Beads! There are little pegboards you place the beads on to make a design. When the design is complete, the adult irons it so that it melts together and comes off the pegboard. You now have a Perler Bead Creation and are ready to make another! I have bought "Perler Beads" at many different times and at different stores. I did not realize there was more than one kind of "Perler Bead." Here is what I have discovered:
  • Perler Beads (also called Fun Fusion) are the best. They are the most uniform and they melt together well.
  • Hama Beads are a close second but do not mix well with the Perler brand.
  • Melty Beads (found at Wal-Mart) are very poor quality and not worth it - AT ALL! They are not consistently flat on the bottom, causing them to pop off the pegboard, many beads are deformed and not usable at all, and they stink when they melt, if you can get them to melt to one another!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here is a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. It makes ten gallons of laundry detergent for just a few dollars. I found four different recipes online, all very similar. The one I used was closest to the recipe the Duggar Family uses:

  1. Grate 1 bar Fels-Naptha (I found this at Mast General Store) into 4 cups of hot tap water.
  2. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
  3. Fill a five-gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.
  4. Add melted soap, 1 cup washing soda (also known as sodium carbonate - I found it in the pool supplies area), and 1 cup Borax; stir well.
  5. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.
  6. Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap mixture and the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use. (It will gel.)
As you can see, this one batch will last a LONG time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Stress Chess

My husband and children have wanted to learn to play chess... I know how but I'm really not any good... I found this "No Stress Chess" game by Winning Moves Games at Barnes & Noble and had part of a gift card left over, so I decided to give this game a shot. It is amazing! You start out playing with a deck of cards that tell you which piece to move and how to move it. The goal at that point isn't to win, but just to learn how the pieces move. Then you take it up a step, choosing between a few cards to help build some strategy into the game; but not to overwhelm you with the 16 pieces on your side. In just a few short days, my children (ages 7 & 9) are playing Chess without the cards - and loving it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update on the Chacos

So remember back when I bought my Chacos? How excited I was? Well, the toe thing started hurting my toe again. The wonderful people at Mast General Store suggested I adjust them so the toe strap was under my toe. I thought that would be uncomfortable but it was fine. However, there must have been some glue stuck because when I pulled the straps, the bottom of the sandal tore where the strap enters. Grrrr. But again, bragging on Mast General Store, they ordered me new ones (in brown without the toe) and held back the other 9-wides they had so I could choose. Even without my receipt, they took my "old" Chacos, fitted me with the ones they had saved for me, and I was out the door with the black ones. I think these are even cuter, don't you think? Needless to say, we will be returning to Mast General Store for future shoe shopping trips! In fact, we returned later that week to buy new sandals for my husband.

Residence Inn

I just have to brag on our experience at the Residence Inn in Deerfield, IL. My husband made reservations there for a business/leisure trip, knowing it was close to his appointments but also close to some shopping for me to enjoy while he was working. When we first arrived, we were told we had been upgraded to a "Two Bedroom Suite." We walked in the door, shocked by the enormity of it!
We walked into the living room area (view of the living area from the loft) with the first bedroom's French doors open ahead of us next to the stairs leading to the lofted bedroom and bath. Here is the lofted bedroom,and a view of the living area from that area. There was even a full kitchen. I was ready to move in! The simplicity of it all and the great breakfast provided... the nearby shopping, the train station right down the street if wanting to go downtown... And with the state rate for business of only $79/night! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

$27 worth for $4.75

Look at what I got for $4.75 tonight!
  • 2 boxes Kellogg's Raisin Bran
  • 1 box Kellogg's Frosted Flakes
  • 1 box Kellogg's Rice Krispies
  • 2 packages of the new pretzel M&Ms
  • 2 packages of peach rings
  • 1 package of sour patch kids
  • 1 Betty Crocker Warm Delights dessert
Yes, this was ALL only $4.75!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Here is what I purchased today at a savings of $28! I spent $26.
  • 2 frozen pizzas
  • ice cream
  • 6 Yoplait yogurts
  • 2 lemonades
  • 2L Sprite
  • Pizza Bites
  • Bagel Bites
  • 4 4-count fruit cups
  • 2 frozen dinners by Healthy Choice
  • bag of Rold Gold pretzels
  • lunch meat
It's not the healthiest bunch of food but it was cheap! :) I figure this is enough food for two dinners, a couple weeks worth of lunches, and some dessert.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Check out Homestead Blessings to find out about a DVD giveaway. I hope I can win so I can teach myself these things along with my daughter. How fun would it be to learn canning, sewing, gardening, etc. with her!?!?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chacos & Mast General Store

Really, I just spent $100 on a pair of SANDALS?!?! I, who love a good bargain, who am very frugal, and who rarely pamper myself, just spent $100 for ONE pair of sandals?? Really???

Here is my story (rationalization):
Last fall/winter (2008), I found these Mudd sandals clearanced for around $10. THAT is my kind of bargain! And aren't they cute? So last summer I started wearing them. One of the straps immediately tore... I found a cobbler that was able to fix it for like $8 or something. In the mean time, I bought a pair of $5 flip flops to have something to wear. By the time my Mudd sandals were ready for me, my big toe had started hurting... it continued hurting when I wore the Mudd sandals. At one point I was in so much pain and had taken so much Tylenol and Ibuprofen ($5?), I decided it was time to see the doctor ($40)... Diagnosis: My big toe was stressed from wearing flip flop type shoes... Rx: Find new sandals. So for the rest of the summer I wore an ugly pair of mens sandals - they were on sale ($20) and they fit.
This summer I started wearing those ugly mens sandals but they were literally falling apart - I was leaving a trail of strings wherever I walked. So I got rid of them (without getting a picture) and started wearing my cute Mudd sandals again... After a couple days my toe started hurting again. Ouch!
I started sandal shopping again. My feet are picky and I'm cheap so I wasn't having any luck. I finally decided I would invest in a pair of good supportive sandals that wouldn't bother my feet or back. I decided I would find some Keen's.
They feel like tennis shoes, supportive-wise, and they are kind of cute... I went to Mast General Store (AWESOME place!) and had REAL shoe service - the manager put the shoe on my foot for me, etc. When I tried them on, I couldn't decide - they didn't hurt, but they are expensive... I kept walking around the store wearing them to see if that's what I really wanted but my feet started sweating. That wasn't going to work! If my feet are going to get hot in just a few minutes, who wants to smell my feet at the end of a hot summer day?!!?
So the manager suggested Chacos (which a few friends had recommended to me as well). He said he wanted to check the size of my foot before going back to get the sandals. Okay, fine but I've worn a size 10 for as many years... SURPRISE! I don't wear a size 10! One foot is an 8.5-wide and the other is a 9-wide. (Maybe that is why I can never find shoes that fit right - I've been trying on the wrong size!) So the manager brought out some Chacos for me to try on and I was sold. They are comfortable, airy, and supportive. Unfortunately, the "stitch-brown" color I wanted had to be special-ordered in the 9W so I had to be patient... But I picked them up yesterday and am convinced after walking the dog for 45 minutes while wearing them that they were worth the investment! (Plus, they can be resoled and if the straps tear, they will be re-strapped for free.)
So, if these shoes really do last "forever" as advertised, they were/are a bargain! Even if they only last a couple years, they will be a bargain after looking at last year when I never found anything that worked, was in a lot of pain, and spent around $88! ($10 + $8 + $5 + $5 + $40 + $20)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brand Names I'm Stickin' To!

I usually buy generic items - usually WalMart brand - but some generics just aren't worth the savings!
Here are some brand names I am sticking to (I will add to this as time goes on...):
I used to have PAM non-sticking spray on this list but I just discovered Crisco non-stick spray! It is a million times better than PAM! I am very excited!
Bandaids - the generics just seem to fall apart in pieces when removing - either that or leaving a bunch of sticky residue. Ewww!French's French Fried Onions - I'm not sure what is up with the generic on these... they are just odd-tasting and crumbly.
Q-Tips - Whew! We finally finished our generic swabs after weeks (months?) of having swabs where the cotton came off the end, the stick bent in half, or there was hardly any cotton on the end... too much inconsistency for me!
Cheerios (plain - generic Honey Nut Spins are yummy)
Nylabones - the generic "indestructible" bones leave lots of bone shavings all over the floor from the very beginning.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go

This is my fourth review of a book provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for writing a book review.

This was a very interesting story. This is the autobiography of Lucille O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal's mother. There are several photos scattered throughout the book, making it easier to "be in the story." Lucille is very candid about her life and the mistakes she has made throughout her lifetime. She knows her teenage pregnancy (with Shaquille) was a sin, her drinking to avoid reality was a sin, etc. and she has turned her life around to be for God's glory.

I don't keep up with celebrities, especially sports' figures but it was still neat to hear how "Shaq" grew up. The funniest part of the book was when Shaquille and his family were stationed overseas and Shaquille showed his classmates the break-dancing he learned before he left the states. The teacher had never seen such moves and thought he was having a seizure! She even called his parents to take him to the doctor! I laughed aloud at that anecdote!

My favorite quote from the book is when Lucille says, " begins and flourishes at whatever age you become comfortable in your own skin and whenever it is that you fall in love with what you see when you look in the mirror each morning."

The title of the book is rather catchy and interesting. However, it is not really tied in to the story as much as I think a title should be...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Go! Grocery

I had a productive shopping trip to Go! Grocery today! All of the following I got for about $33 (without coupons!):
  • 2 loaves of Sara Lee bread
  • 2 loaves of Roman Meal bread
  • 1 bag of lettuce mix
  • 1 Stouffer's frozen dinner
  • 1 jar of Country Time pink lemonade mix
  • 1 can Ranch style beans
  • 1 can Ragu spaghetti sauce
  • 5 small (but not individual) bags of Cheddar Fries
  • 1 bag Munchos
  • 1 bag Puffcorn
  • 1 marinated pork roast
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 8 chicken legs
  • 3 bags David's sunflower seeds
  • 1 box pumpkin seeds in individual bags
  • 1 package of cheese sandwich crackers
  • 1 tub of Betty Crocker (or was it Pillsbury?) frosting
I know those are all random groceries but they will be used and they will help me with cheap meal planning, especially with the meat!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Here is my third review from a book provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for writing a book review.

This book is great! Each chapter is funny, short - around 3 pages - and has a great point! At the end of each chapter there are questions to get you thinking about what you just read to apply it to your own life along with several applicable Bible verses.

Each chapter is introduced by a different proverb followed by a personal narrative written in Patsy Clairmont's humorous way. I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book. Since the stories are applied to the proverb, it gives a new and memorable way to apply that proverb to your own life.

I think this would be a great book to use for a women's small group. The chapters are short enough that no reading ahead of time (homework) would be necessary; a chapter could just be read aloud when ladies arrive. And the questions would build intimacy among the group members.

Another perk of this book is where the applicable Bible verses are listed, it is not just the reference, but the actual Bible verse with its reference. That is a big bonus for me because I want to stay focused, not get distracted in trying to find a verse or spend a lot of time flipping through the Bible. This way, the verses are right there for you to study.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tithing by Douglas LeBlanc

Each chapter of this book was supposedly a different person's view of tithing. However, after the first couple chapters, I had a hard time relating the mini-biographies of the people to their tithing comments.

But here are a few points I enjoyed:
Several times Malachi 3:10 was mentioned ("Test me in this").
Randy Alcorn explains, "...if you take the standard of ten percent and say God required it of the poorest people in Old Testament Israel, and now that we're under the grace of Jesus and we have the indwelling Holy Spirit and we live in this incredibly affluent culture, do you think her would expect *less* of us?"
In the chapter on Ed Bacon, in relation to tithing he says, "I have no desire to stop. It's what we're supposed to be doing. It is one of the most simple and direct ways of discovering an up close and personal God."
This was the second book I got for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for writing a review.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

God's Little Princess Devotional Bible

Five Stars!
My nine-year-old daughter loves this Bible. It is very easy for her to read independently and probably would have been good for her even two to three years ago. There are different activities suggested based on biblical principles as well as question/answer review pages.
One awesome story I have to share about this book is something my daughter did after having this book for less than a day. When my husband and I went to bed that night, there was a note tucked in by my husband's pillow. It was a thank you note from our daughter thanking him for taking care of here. I have to admit I was a bit jealous! But the next morning when I went to get ready for the day, I discovered my own love note from her in my bathroom drawer! When I told her thank you and gave her a big hug, she explained that her new Bible told her to do that and that is just one of the reasons she likes it so much. :)
This was the first book I got for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for writing a review. However, they do not require it to be a positive review; I genuinely like this Devotional Bible!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I started using my blog to tell about books I enjoyed and wanted to share. Then a friend told me about where you can keep track of the books you have read, are currently reading, or want to read. So most of my books are there. However, this blog will also share the books I am getting for review purposes and also those that I just thought were excellent and want to share!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So I found this opportunity to get free books if I promise to read them and then review them, posting them on a blog. Since I love to read and I love to blog, what a great opportunity! I didn't want our personal family blog to be public so I opened this one... we will see how it goes. Thanks for looking/reading this one too!