Archive for March 2012

Review: Eldest

Friday, March 30, 2012

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Eldest" is the second book in the Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini. I really enjoyed the first installment - Eragon - and while this was a good read, it didn't feel very original. I found Eragon's training at the Jedi Encla...err I mean, with his Master, Oromis, to be rather tedious at times. Oromis wasn't really described, except for being hairless -- I kind of picture him as being green with pointed ears. Arya reminds me of Padme. Though, unlike Padme, I would probably have cheered if Eragon had force choked her. Having gotten my tirade out of the way, I will say I did enjoy the book. Though, again, I didn't feel it was very original. I really enjoyed Roran's parts of the story and I look forward to seeing how that plays out. I enjoyed the landscape, the magic and the adventure. I do think I will enjoy the rest of the series. I just hope that book three and four offer a bit more originality than "Eldest". It wasn't the best (or worst) book I've ever read and I would still suggest the series to others, so it isn't a total loss! To review what I had to say about Eragon click here.

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Monday Munchies: Herbal Soup

Monday, March 26, 2012

Herbal Broth

Most people have trouble avoiding a cold or flue at some time during the winter. This broth will provide you with herbal comfort if you're ill. It is flavorful, warming and packed with vitamins.

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP olive oil

2 cups water or vegetable broth Substitution: (I use chicken broth!)

1 tsp finely chopped fresh cayenne pepper or 1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried

1/2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried

pinch to 1/4 tsp salt, if the vegetable broth is unsalted

Substitutions and changes: I add in 2 cups of veggie noodles in with this and finish covering it with a little water.

Add the garlic to the olive oil and saute over high heat briefly, until the garlic starts to change color. Add the water (or broth), turn down the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add all the herbs and salt to taste. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Sip slowly.

Yield: about 2 cups

Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, March 25, 2012

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday Munchies: Cake Decorating Made Easy

Monday, March 19, 2012

This past Saturday, March 17th, happened to be my 30th birthday. As for all birthdays in our house, I provide the cake. I knew I wanted something chocolate and of course, I wanted it to look nice. I came across this idea on pinterest and I used it as my inspiration.

Pretty much this is all you do

  • Bake two 9" cakes and let them cool completely
  • Place the first cake onto your plate and ice the entire thing. It doesn't have to look good as the icing will not be visible.
  • Stack the next cake on top of the first and cover the whole thing with icing.
  • Take pirouette wafers and press them into the icing around the cake.
  • Tie a ribbon around the cake and put something on the top of the cake. I chose silk flowers but you could use fruit or candies.
And this is what I ended up with!

Thanks Pinterest!!!

Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“Love is not about what you want. It's about finding happiness for the one you love.”
Terry Goodkind, Wizard's First Rule

Product Review: Sea Shepherd Fleece Raglan

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I've been coveting this shirt for a long while and finally had the opportunity to get it. I'll consider it a birthday gift to myself! It's so soft and fits perfectly. I do wish I'd bought a size larger than I normally wear for a more relaxed fit (and this is my suggestion to anyone who buys this top) but it still fits perfectly and I'm very happy with it! Plus, the money goes to a very worthy cause.

To learn more about the Sea Shepherds and how you can help their cause click here and be sure to check out Whale Wars and their fight against commercial whaling.

Monday Munchies: Homestyle Mashed Potatoes

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homestyle Mashed Potatoes Mashed Potatoes
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter (I prefer stick butter)
Salt, Pepper and preferred spices (to taste)

1. Cover potatoes with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add Milk and butter and season to preference. Beat the potatoes while they're still warm with your mixer until they're light and fluffy.

You may need to add a small amount of milk if the potatoes are too thick

You can dress these potatoes any way that you like. I like to season with salt, pepper and Parsley flakes. They're also fantastic topped with fresh chives.

Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, March 11, 2012

“Things can be cleaned and replaced. Great moments cannot afford to be lost.”
Cindy Woodsmall, The Bridge of Peace

Myth Busting: Does Mt. Dew Glow?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I keep seeing everyone under the sun pinning this glowing Mt. Dew Bottle on Pinterest. It's like a craze sweeping across the boards. Curious, I went to my favorite website to check out hard to believe claims, Snopes The claim is false. Mr. Dew will not glow when mixed with peroxide and baking soda! You can view the video here

This myth is BUSTED!

DIY Projects: Repurposed Shoe Cubby

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So, I had this crazy idea to make myself an actual studio and my oldest daughter, who is finally getting her own room after sharing one with two of her sisters for the last ten years, has graciously offered me one corner in her brand spankin' new bedroom that she's moving into!

I am a self-diagnosed ADD crafter and I have a crazy amount of supplies. One of the items I have in abundance is acrylic paints. As I've been reinventing my house I've gotten rid of a lot of furniture. Many of the items I have started re-purposing and one of the items has been a shoe cubby. The cubbies are small and not very effective for anything but toddler and preschooler's shoes. I had thought about donating to Goodwill until I came across thisidea from Pinterest and a lightbulb went off!

At first I had lamented at not having a crate to store my own paints until I remembered that I had a shoe cubby in the giveaway pile! I quickly ran down to the basement and picked up my shoe cubby. After cleaning all of the crayon marks that my lovely little demons had decided to decorate with, plopped it up onto my desk, and started piling in the paints. Now I have my very own organized paint cubby!

Product Review: The Fizzy Pop Collection

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I love candles and I was super excited to get a box of tea light candles to sample from The Fizzy Pop Collection. The Fizzy Pop Collection is a relatively new Work-At-Home business selling handmade candles but don't let this scare you! The candles are absolutely fantastic!

Today I am burning "Amish Harvest" and in the words of my mother "We need this is a extra large candle that will last forever!" My entire kitchen and dining room is filled with wonderful fragrance coming from just 3 little tea lights! I absolutely cannot wait to try the other fragrances. If you're looking for candles that have a better throw than Glade or cheap Walmart candles and more affordable than Yankee Candles, I strongly suggest The Fizzy Pop Collection! I am also excited to say that TFPC and I are hard at work on some special holiday collaborations that will be in limited supply so be on the look out in the very near future!

Monday Munchies: Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Monday, March 5, 2012

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies Easy PB Cookiest
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 25 min
Makes: 3 doz. cookies or 18 servings, 2 cookies each

1 egg
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add remaining ingredients; beat until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place, 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball, in criss-cross pattern, with tines of fork.BAKE 10 min. or until lightly browned. Cool 1 min. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks; cool completely.

*these easy-to-make cookies don't need any flour!
*note: I use a little less sugar than it calls for because it just seems like a LOT to me :)

Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, March 4, 2012

“Disappointments are like weeds in the garden. You can let them grow and take over your life, or you can rout them out and let the flowers sprout.”
Wanda E. Brunstetter, A Cousin's Challenge

Review: The Reckoning

The Reckoning (The Heritage of Lancaster County, #3)The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘The Reckoning’ concludes The Heritage of Lancaster County Trilogy, following ‘The Shunning’ and ‘The Confession’. I was very pleased with how this series was wrapped up after my slight disappointment in Katherine in book two. I wasn't disappointed in the writing but in the character herself as I tend to develop a relationship with the books I lose myself in.

‘The Reckoning’ starts out with a look into Katherine's life as the Mistress of the Mayfield Manor and her continual struggle to fit in, even in the society she thought she so wanted. There's just something missing in life for Miss Katherine and she has yet to put her finger on what that is. Partly due to Daniel, her old love that she had thought was dead, has shown back up in her life, claiming he is still in love with her and always has been. However, Katherine has herself a new beau, the aristocratic artist named Justin Wirth. Katherine's romance with Justin was frustrating for me to read. I didn't trust him or his intentions and I felt that he didn't have Katherine's best interests in his heart.

Meanwhile, life in Hickory Hollow, Katherine's old Amish community,has continued to go on. Mary's romance with the Bishop has blossomed and she has settled in as his wife and a mama to his children. Rebecca seems to slowly be recovering from the immense loss she endured with losing Katie to the English world. Annie is coming to terms with her brother Daniel's betrayal and sadness over his shunning. Ella Mae, perhaps my favorite character in this book, has suffered a stroke and is nearing the end of her life. It is Ella who holds the key to Katherine's salvation and in finding her true purpose in life. Not as the fancy and worldly "Katherine" but as the sweet and humble "Katie Girl".

I was thrilled with the conclusion to this story. I just never saw Katie returning completely to her Amish roots, I was actually happy that she didn't. But I also am glad that she didn't choose to stay and live out her life as an extravagant rich lady. I would have never been able to accept her as anything else but "Plain". It was truly the best compromise for her. A fantastic series and I look forward to reading more by Beverly Lewis.

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Review: The Confession

The Confession
The Confession by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘The Confession’ is book two in the The Heritage of Lancaster County trilogy by Beverly Lewis. In The Shunning we met Katie Lapp, 22 year old Amish girl who feels as if she doesn't fit in. Upon learning that she was adopted she is less content to continue living her plain life. She ends up leaving the Amish Bishop at the altar, an act that ultimately leads to her shunning.

In ‘The Confession’ we see Katie, who now calls herself Katherine as she tries to find her birth mother and embraces the English way of life. I'm going to admit, I was fairly frustrated with "Katherine" in this book. She was all too willing to completely forget a mother and father who loved and raised her in her desperate attempt to find the woman who gave her up at birth. It's nice that her mother turned out to be a decent lady but I was very frustrated, nonetheless that Rebecca Lapp, the adoptive mother, has been cast aside with certain ingratitude.

Overall I did enjoy the book. I am enjoying seeing a side to Amish culture that many other fiction writers of the genre will steer clear of. By learning more about their belief system and culture, I feel as if I have a better insight into their personal lives and their faith. She's very accurate in her descriptions which I find fascinating. For example, I found it interesting to learn that the Amish Ladies of Lancaster County do not use buttons. Why I find this fascinating is beyond me, but for the reader who enjoys learning authentic facts about the Amish and Mennonite, Beverly Lewis does an exceptionally accurate account of their culture, lifestyles and beliefs. I'm giving this book 4 of 5 stars simply because of the frustration I felt with "Katherine" and her obvious disregard for her adoptive mother. I sincerely hope that this issue resolves itself satisfactorily in the third book, ‘The Reckoning’.

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