Archive for August 2012

Huge Sale at A Simply Enchanted Life!!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

All orders going out today-the month of September will get a free gift (lipbalms or sample soaps plus a 15% coupon for future orders) All BULK orders will receive a free 4oz bar of soap, a free lipbalm plus a 15% off coupon for additional orders.

When Darkness Falls-The loss of our Evenstar

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I had contemplated not sharing my story. I don't want to upset people or make people feel sorry for me but I want to remember and tell my baby's story. To honor it and never forget that it's feet may have never walked to earth but it sure left imprints upon my heart.

My pregnancy started fairly typical except that my cycles had been irregular and I didn't know how far along I was. I was also gaining a lot of weight at a pretty fast rate. I got into the doctor pretty fast and got a confirmation of pregnancy.

The week after my confirmation I went in for an ultrasound to find out a tentative date and was told I was 8 week 4 days pregnant and was given an estimated due date of Feb 8, 2013. Baby was happy and healthy and had a heartbeat of around 173.

On Friday, three days after my ultrasound I hopped into the shower and when I looked down I noticed that my entire body was covered in a lacy rash. I had felt sick the entire week of my ultrasound and continued to feel ill with what I had thought was the flu. Headache, fever and terrible joint pain but I was shocked when I saw that rash.

I texted a friend of mine, Amara, and asked her if she had any idea what the rash might be and she texted back and said that it looked like Fifth disease.

I googled fifth disease and was scared to find out that it might cause complications with the pregnancy. So, I called the doctor first thing on Monday morning and went in for blood tests. I waited several days and got a phone call from the nurse who confirmed that I had been recently infected by fifth disease.

Fifth disease is also called parvovirus B19 or erythema infectiosum and during the first trimester it can cause miscarriage, though the risks are much lower the earlier in pregnancy that you have it. So, the doctor was fairly confident that everything would likely be ok.

Two weeks after my infection I went in for a routine visit to check on how I was doing after the infection. I was 10 weeks exactly and we found the heartbeat that day. Happily beating along and moving to avoid the doppler. We felt pretty safe and like we'd dodged the proverbial bullet.

At 11 weeks I began to have terrible dreams about the baby dying but I tried to put it behind me and to have faith but at 12 weeks exactly I had a very vivid dream that I was alone in a field and I delivered a tiny baby that fit into the palm of my hand. Out of no where my deceased aunt, Peggy (that died before I was born) showed up and reached for the baby. I heard my mom's voice say "It's okay, Kristin. Give the baby to Peggy. She will take it to mama. Mama will watch over the baby in Heaven" The next night I again dreamed that the baby had passed and I was very much at unease the rest of the week.

The next week rolled around, putting me at 13 weeks. I'm a small girl and I always start to feel movement early. I began to movement. I was also starting to look thin and not as pregnant as I had been. I know for most people this is when the body naturally thins down due to bloating but with this being my seventh pregnancy I knew this was not normal for me and it was not normal for me to feel no movement.

The next morning I worked up the nerve to call the office and I begged to be seen. The doctor was out but the tech was in and she said she would see me and do an ultrasound to ease my mind. We drove to the office and just as we pulled into the parking lot I saw a car with a large sticker on it with a Bible verse "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" I smiled sadly. I knew that this was a direct message to me. A little comfort before I would face a horrible darkness.

I went into the room, hubby and the tech were trying to reason with me, they were in denial. They kept telling me the logical thing "No bleeding, no cramping, your baby is fine!" But I knew. I knew the baby was not fine. She began the ultrasound and silence fell. She didn't have to say a word. Hubby started crying and I just stared at the screen, only barely hearing the tech say, "How did you know? There is no heartbeat".

I had experienced a missed miscarriage. It's a rare type of miscarriage in which the heart of the baby stops beating and there are no physical signs of miscarriage. Our baby's heart was estimated to have stopped beating at 12 weeks 1 day. The very day I had dreamed it had passed.

I set an appointment to talk to the doctor about our options and he let me make the choice if I wanted to miscarry naturally or have the D&C. I had talked to my husband and I was adamant that unless an infection developed I wanted to try for the natural miscarriage, even though we were warned that it may take weeks to happen. I was okay with that. I wanted a chance to deliver the baby and give it a burial.

As the weeks passed by the doctors were giving little hope that I would deliver an actual body. At three and a half weeks after the passing we were told that the chances that the body had not decayed were very slim and I was told what to look for to insure that I had passed everything with the absence of a body.

Each day that went by, through all this pain and grief, I was getting strength. Peace that cannot be explained. It seems I would read something or God would send along a song or just the exact thing I needed, when I needed it. And as each day passed I knew that my baby needed a name.

When I had become pregnant, Tom and I were discussing names and I was sure what I wanted to name a baby girl, Evenstar. Through the early part of the pregnancy I had a certain song that was stuck in my head. I would listen to it and cry but I didn't know why. I couldn't get enough of it and I would listen to the song often. May it be by Enya. The song reads "May it be an evening star, shines down upon you. May it be when darkness falls, your heart will be true" And as the days passed and I waited for my body to pass my little baby...I knew my baby's name had already been given to me. It was my Evenstar. It's light too precious for earth and had to return heaven.

I began to feel at peace. I accepted that this all had a reason. It had a purpose and a plan and I prayed for the grace to handle however things would end with the delivery of my little baby. I was worried and even grossed out at the thought that the body was breaking down and I prayed and begged God to please spare the body. I wanted to see it. I wanted to say my goodbyes with this little one that had so touched my heart.

The days dragged on and on the day when I would have been 16 weeks 3 days, after 9 hours of intense pain...I delivered my little Evenstar. The first words out of my mouth when I saw the perfectly preserved, three and a half inch beautiful and perfect baby was "God is so good. I couldn't believe it. There was a body and it was a baby, my beautiful baby.

He or she was perfect in every way. All five fingers and toes were recognizable, and the cutest little ears and the sweetest face. We cleaned the sweet babe up and some of my daughters wanted to see. I wasn't sure if they should but they wanted to and they got their chances to say goodbye. A couple asked questions like "why did the baby have to die?" and "why is it so little?" It had been their choice to see the baby and I think it brought some closure and peace to their little hearts as well.

We laid the babe to rest in a weatherproof box beneath the flowers in my flower garden that happened to be in full bloom and my seven year old knelt down over the grave and gave thanks to our Heavenly Father for allowing our baby to be in heaven with him and our other baby we lost at 6 weeks in 2009.

Two days ago we said our final goodbyes. Today my 23 month old pulled up a newly bloomed purple flower and placed it over the grave and whispered a very audible "bye bye baby, love you" I hugged her and told her that it was only goodbye for a little while. We'll see our baby again one day and forever and always we'll have our own precious Evenstar shining down on us.

My heart will always ache for this baby but I know the message it has for me and I hope I always remember "Light the Day, Mom" I'm not alone and I will journey on. I have a reason to be happy and always remember. I plan to never take another day for granted because life is too short for us to use our time unwisely. This was my baby's purpose and I plan to keep that purpose alive and remember the lessons well.

Thank you for reading!

Review: Valley of Dreams

Valley of Dreams
Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling is the first in the Wild West Wind series and follows the life and struggles of the main character, Cassie Lockwood.

Cassie is the star rider and sharp shooter in a wild west show that had been owned by her now deceased parents. When her parents died, the show was left in the care of her honorary uncle, Jason. However, Jason isn't business saavy and likes to drink too much which leads to the demise of the show.

When the show collapses, Cassie heads south in search of her late father's "valley of dreams", 400 acres of land that he had purchased with the hope of owning a ranch out in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She is joined by Chief, a Sioux indian that has been with the show for years and a wrangler by the name of Micah. On their way they encounter an injured indian woman, Runs like a Deer, whom they nurse back to health on their journey.

Living off the land is much different for Cassie and she must learn to use her shooting skills to kill animals to provide meat for her makeshift family. Gone are the days of being pampered and having everything done for her. Under the guidance of Chief she must learn a new way and how to do things for herself.

We are also introduced to another family that is already living in the valley of South Dakota. The Engstrom family consists of Mavis, her two boys-Ransom and Lucas and her daughter, Gretchen. Mavis' husband has died some years back and the boys are struggling to keep it all together. Their importance in this story becomes more apparant towards the end of the book. I really enjoyed reading about Ransom, especially. Though Lucas has declared upon seeing Cassie that he is "in love" I am really hoping that she ends up with Ransom instead. I guess I'll have to pick up book two to find out!

I have only a few complaints about this book and they're minor. I found some of the situations unrealistic. In the early 1900s, outside of the wild west show, I'm not so sure that folks in the towns would have so accepting of Cassie while she was wearing pants and accompanied by two indians. Everything just seemed to fall perfectly in place for her and I found that unrealistic for the time period. I also had a small complaint that the end of the book offered no reference to the next book. Without a title listed for a future release I think that may discourage future readers who may not be an avid follower of the author or perhaps doesn't follow sites like Goodreads.

Otherwise I enjoyed the book and I look forward to reading more of her stories!

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Walnut & Spicy Apple Pie

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crumb Crust/Topping
1c. hulled-cracked walnuts
2c. all-purpose flour
1/2c. sugar
3/4 c. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F. To prepare crumb crust, spread nuts in a medium baking pan. Roast the nuts,stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove nuts from the oven and allow to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 450F. In a food processor, process the nuts until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Using fingers, evenly press half of the crumb crust mixture into the bottom and sides of an 8-or 9-inch pie dish.
2 Tbsp. flour
5-7 tart apples(chopped)
3/4 to 1 c. sugar
Dash Salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring continually until butter is melted and a semi-thick gel has formed. Be careful not to burn or scorch. Turn heat down if apples or gel start to stick. Pour the mixture into prepared crust and bake 50 minutes at 450F. If apples are not tart, add 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice.

Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud
We get only one chance at making a good first impression. Being imperfect humans, we tend to be overly cautious, afraid of messing up. But when we're not our true selves, we can lose more than we gain. -Plain Wisdom p.127

Review and Giveaway: Eye of the Sword

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eye of the Sword: A Novel (The Angeleon Circle, #2)Eye of the Sword: A Novel by Karyn Henley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Eye of the Sword" is book two in "The Angelaeon Circle" by Karyn Henley. I had a really hard time getting into this book at first because when I requested it, I did not realize it was part two in a series. However, once I got into it and pieced together the back story I really started to enjoy this book.

I think what drew me to this book was the front cover along with the quote on the back cover, "Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a Princess?"

Our book chronicles the tale of Trevin. A young man who had once been a thief and a spy but has now been been promoted to a position of standing in the kingdom and is trying to make atonement for his past sins. He is in love with a beautiful princess, Melaia who is a Nephili - half angel, half human. Though she is in love with Trevin, her father has promised her to a vile Dregmoorian in hopes for a treaty between the kingdoms of Camrithia and Dregmoor.

Trevin is sent on a quest to return two missing harps to princess Melaia to fulfill a prophesy that a Nephili would restore the stairway to heaven. He must find success before she is given to marriage to Varic, the Dregmoorian prince, or else all chance of love for them is gone and she will be trapped in a loveless marriage. When he is accused of killing a young prince from Eldarra he must face the shame and guilt of his past and in doing so must also face the truth of his heritage.

I really enjoyed this book. It read as a fantasy/sci-fi story and although it has angels, I really see no Christian element to it, nor do I see any reason for it to be classified as Christian fiction. If you aren't a Christian then you would still enjoy this book even though it reads of angels. The angels in this book are nothing but a mythical creature, not unlike any other mythical beings you might read about in a fantasy setting. The use of harps and music as a method of restoring pathways and a sword that sees the heart of a person greatly reminded me of The Legend of Zelda lore. Despite my original reservations about this book I really did enjoy it and I can't wait to go back and read the first book in the series.

I received Eye of the Sword as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

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Review: Swords of the Six

Monday, August 20, 2012

Swords of the Six
Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book showed promise. It had a fairly interesting storyline and I almost hated to rate it so low because I'm drawn to fantasy. I adore dragons, mermaids and other mythical creatures so this book appealed to me on that aspect. However, I can't rate this book any higher due to the poor editing and mistakes that filled the pages. Book titles should not be spelled out like a middle school girl's My Space page. Writing like "tHis" does not make a cool title for a chapter header. There were also issues with grammar and incorrect use of commonly used idioms -- "prim and proper" is one that comes to mind but was misused as "primp and proper," which I felt should have been picked up by the editor. Often, I had to reread a paragraph for what appeared to be contradictions due to how the sentence read. It needed better editing to fix these simple mistakes.

In terms of the story...very interesting. The author seemed to bite off more than he could chew though. The story of six sisters who are all presented as main characters and all had unique names made it very hard to remember all of them and it also made it hard to connect with them individually. I started to connect with Dantress towards the end of the story, when she became the sole focus...but I felt cheated, like I was finally getting to know her too late. The character I felt drawn to the most, Specter, was very interesting and I would have liked to have known more about him, simply because he was presented as unique and as an individual rather than lumping him into a group the way the sisters were.

I think this author shows promise but needs to find a better editor to fix commonly missed mistakes that should have never made it into publication. I also think that he needs to focus more on giving us a character we can really fall in love with and connect with rather than a multitude of characters we can barely get to know. Overall -- fantastic idea for a story but poor delivery.

I received this book free from AMG Publishers through I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Inspirational Sunday

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud
Knowing I can trust God in any circumstance is a great help. He will guide me in the right direction, through the right doors, if I only will ask...and then listen for His answer. -Plain Wisdom p.95

Berry Almond Crumb Pie

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crumb Crust/Topping
1c. almonds
2c. all-purpose flour
1/2c. sugar
3/4 c. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. To prepare crumb crust, spread nuts in a medium baking pan. Roast the nuts,stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove nuts from the oven and turn out onto a cloth towel. Rub off and discard the papery skins. Increase the oven temperature to 450F. In a food processor, process the nuts until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix together the nuts, flour, and sugar. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Using fingers, evenly press half of the crumb crust mixture into the bottom and sides of an 8-or 9-inch pie dish.
1/2c. Sugar
2TBSP+1TSP all-purpose flour
2 Pints of frozen Strawberries(thawed and drained)
To prepare the filling, in a medium bowl, gently mix together the sugar, flour and berries. Spoon the berry mixture into the crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly with the remaining crumb crust mixture. Bake until topping is golden and filling is bubbly, 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Review: Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women
Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. It's a funny thing how God works His will and direction into our lives without our ever understanding unless He shows us.

Cindy Woodsmall is my favorite author of the Amish genre. Month's ago I bought the book "Plain Wisdom" I had been so excited to purchase it and surprisingly the book made its way to my shelf without being read. I kept going to my shelf of books and pulling out books to read and for some reason I kept putting off reading this book.

I picked up the book this week. I am going through a very trying time right of the lowest points of my entire life. I began to read and then to cry as the realization that God had this all in his plan for me. He didn't want me to read this book months ago. He knew I needed to read it now!

This book has little nuggets of wisdom through the entire book. I was so blessed by the insight that was shared by co-authors, Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud. If you are looking for encouragement or if you're questioning life in general, this is a good book to read. With heartwarming stories, admittance of failures and scriptures to back up the truths that God has shown to them, this book is sure to touch your soul and life your spirits.

"God knows how to heal the brokenhearted and how to give beauty for ashes" -Plain Wisdom p. 143

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Inspirational Sunday

God's grace is not something you earn, and you can never repay it. You simply accept it -Plain Wisdom p.84

Review: Garden of Madness

Garden of Madness
Garden of Madness by T.L. Higley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Garden of Madness" by Tracy L. Higley is an exciting and suspense-filled account of King Nebuchadnezzar and his family. Found in the Bible in the book of Daniel, this story outlines the fictional account of the crazy king who lived for seven years as a wild animal for refusing to bow to the God of Israel.

The book takes place in ancient Babylon, in the Hanging Gardens which Historians know very little about. The author has woven bits of information that has been gleaned from studies and historians into this fictional story.

The story of Tiamut begins as a young girl is forced into a marriage she does not want. Though she dutifully carries out her role, she feels freedom when her husband dies after seven years time. However, her relief is short lived when she uncovers her mother's plot to marry her to the King of Media as a forged alliance between their kingdoms.

Tia is determined to uncover the truth of her mother's hatred for her and why it is she that must be pawned off to the highest bidder or used as a bargaining chip. Headstrong and determined, she learns nothing of her mother's hatred and instead uncovers a plot to overthrow her father's kingdom while he is "unwell."

She accepts the help from a Judaean man, Pedaiah, who is also her deceased husband's brother. He takes her to the prophet Daniel, for whom her father had great respect. Together the two try to warn Tia of the dangers she faces in the palace. Not only from those that wish to usurp the throne but also from the magi in the temple who worship dark gods and could use them against her.

I gave this book 4 stars, only because I didn't like how Pedaiah was putting Tia down in one breath and in the next declaring his love for her. I understand the differences in their beliefs and that this is likely how conversations were between a Babylonian pagan and a Judaean Christian -- however it just felt completely rushed from hate to love. I felt that perhaps if Pedaiah had been portrayed as coming at her with his rebuke in love instead of hate then it would have made the story flow easier.

The rest of the tale chronicles the plot of the king's family to maintain power. Nebuchadnezzar's return to sanity and to the throne and the unfolding of Tia's romance with Pedaiah. Overall it was an enjoyable read, it just needed a little polishing around the rough edges.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Review:The Telling

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Telling (Seasons of Grace, #3)The Telling by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Telling is part 3 in the Seasons of Grace trilogy by Beverly Lewis and it is absolutely the best out of the three. I bawled through half of the story because it was just so beautiful!

In this book, Grace and her new friend Heather take off to Ohio in search of Grace's mother who has left her family under mysterious circumstances. They arrive, only to find out that Lettie has already left and Grace is forced to return home without her. She returns home with a heavy heart as the brethren are discussing the shunning of Lettie.

Lettie continues her search for the baby she had out of wedlock and was forced to give up. After hitting many roadblocks she eventually returns home to ask for forgiveness from her family and her community. She confesses her past sins finds peace and forgiveness from the Lord--but will her family be able to offer the same forgiveness?

Heather continues her battle against cancer and finally earns the support of her dad and finds new love. And speaking of love...Grace finally has some success in that department as well! I was very pleased with how things turned out for her!

This book was a fantastic tale of forgiveness and finding freedom of the guilt of past indiscretions. I had to have cried like a baby through most of this last book. I was so pleased with how it turned out!

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Review: The Missing

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Missing
The Missing by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Missing is part two in the Seasons of Grace trilogy and picks up where "The Secret" left off. Lettie Byler has left her family to search for the baby she gave up as a young girl and her family has no idea where she is or why she has left. Only her parents know of Lettie's secret and they are trying their best to keep her family from finding out.

I found that this book seemed to have a better flow to it than the first and I got through it much faster. Perhaps because it seemed a better time for Heather's story to unfold. I felt her character had been introduced entirely too early in the first book and it made the story too predictable.

This second installment continues to follow Heather through her battle with cancer, her dad's uncertainty and worry...Just life in general for a family in the midst of a trial. Along the way we also see the continued struggles of Grace's family as they try to come to terms with their mother leaving them

I am looking forward to the next book. I'm curious to see if Judah can forgive Lettie for keeping a secret from him for years and to see if Heather recovers. I am also curious to see how Grace and her family comes to terms with their mother's indiscretion. I will admit...I'm also a little curious to see if Grace finds love in the midst of me a hopeless romantic!!!

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Review: This Scarlet Cord

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Scarlet Cord
This Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"This Scarlet Cord" by Joan Wolf is a fictional account of the story of "Rahab the Harlot," as is outlined in the book of Joshua. While I found a small number of inconsistencies with what is actually taught in the Bible, I still enjoyed this story and kept in mind that this was a fictional retelling.

In this story, Rahab is a young Canaanite woman. Very beautiful and enticing, desired by most who meet her. She is taken to Jericho by her family for a yearly pagan celebration in the hopes that her father will find a wealthy man for her to marry. There she is reunited with Sala, a young Israalite man. In years past Sala had saved Rahab from bandits who planned to sell her as a sex slave to the Egyptians. During the time of her rescue, Sala had talked freely with Rahab about the difference in her gods and Elohim, the God of Israel. As an adult, those early conversations play in Rahab's mind and she is continually questioning if it is Baal who is the true God, or if it is the God of Israel. She shares her concerns and thoughts with her sister-in-law, Atene, and together they begin to pray to the God of Israel.

Rahab's story has always been intriguing to me. How does a harlot end up in the genealogy of Christ? How did this woman with the reputation of being a prostitute find herself being one of the most important women in the Bible? How did this Canaanite woman come to turning her back on her faith to help Israelite spies escape from Jericho? It is because of her help that the eventual fall of Jericho happened - and through her actions, she and her entire family were saved from destruction. How did this woman become the wife of a prince? She holds the honor of being named the mother of Boaz, an Old Testament analogy and symbol of Christ. Pretty astounding for a woman labeled "the harlot"!

This fictionalized tale takes us on a journey through the pagan rituals of their religion and the circumstances that Rahab may have faced that earned her the title of "Rahab the Harlot," as well as the situations that lead to her conversion. The story of Rahab is one love and the remarkable change that happens in the life of one who has accepted God.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Review: The Orphan King &Giveaway!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Orphan King
The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Orphan King" by Sigmund Brouwer is the first book in the "Merlin's Immortals" series. The next book "Fortress of Mist" becomes available in February of 2013. From what I understand, it is an updated or revamped version of an older book. This is the first book I've read by this author, so I'm unable to shed much light into that.

In this book we meet a young man, Thomas. An orphaned boy who has been raised in a monastery by gluttonous and greedy monks who would rather fill their own bellies and wallets than help needy villagers. Set in the heart of Northern England in AD 1312, the world is a dark and discouraging place filled with corrupt lords and impoverished lands.

Thomas escapes the monastery. With the help of a knight, a mute girl and a pickpocket he sets out to fulfill his destiny. Along the way he is mentored by the older and wiser knight, secretly falls in love with the girl and obtains a bit of brotherly affection for the young thief. Their adventures along the way form trust and friendship that will either help or hinder the success of Thomas' quest.

I felt like this book had a lot of potential and it was a very enjoyable fast read. But I felt that while the characters were fleshed out really well and had a lot of life to them, it just seemed a little rushed. The fantasy part of the story was very appealing to me. I enjoy a good fantasy story and its a genre I read quite often. However, I felt that the idea of Merlin and Druids all seemed a bit conflicting for the Christian theme. Now, granted, I am not opposed to mixing fantasy and Christianity, especially in the setting of an allegory but I felt as if this story just didn't really nail it. Did I enjoy the story? Yes. Will I read the next? Yes. But I just felt it was a little rough around the edges.

I received The Orphan King as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I know there are a ton of online resources for homemade detergent but most of them call for Borax and I simply do not like borax. I have used my version for years and my clothes come clean and smell fresh! I do prefer the liquid version but have included the powder version as well. I originally found this recipe on the Duggar's site so if you would like to look at the original there you're more than welcome to :)


2 cups Grated Laundry soap*
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Oxygen wash (oxyclean or offbrand preference)

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons.

You can use Fels-Naptha bar soap, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. **Pictured is zote soap but I use my homemade Castile bars typically so this is an option for you as well. Just make sure that it isn't a "moisturizing" bar as they include a lot of oils and will not wash your clothes as well.

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online (I can find it at the grocery store and Wal-mart) Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!! Washing Soda can be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle.

**Scents/Essential oils can be dropped into the powder and stirred**

Liquid (Best Value)
4 Cups - hot tap water
2 cups of grated soap bar (laundry soap or ivory soap will work)
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup oxyclean (or off brand equivalent)

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Oxygen wash. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

08/02 Storenvy Stocking

Lavender Mint 4-4.5oz Handcut

Lórien Leaf Soap

Roll-On Perfume

Review:Faithful To Laura

Faithful to LauraFaithful to Laura by Kathleen Fuller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Faithful to Laura is book two in the 'A Middlefield Family Novel' series and picks up where 'Treasuring Emma' left off. In this book we meet Laura, a young woman, injured and left disfigured at the hands of the man she loved. Very bitter over the scars that mark her face twist her spirit, she longs for revenge and plans to do whatever it takes so that it will be hers. A that the Amish do not believe in and goes against everything she has been taught.

Sawyer is a young man who was adopted by a young Amish couple after the death of his biological parents. He has spent half of his life among the "English" and the rest among the Amish. He is undecided where his path will lead him. Whether he should remain Amish or go back to the English world.

When he meets Laura he is intrigued and he sees her for who she is and not for the scars that she is so conscious of. He struggles to reach her through her doubts and insecurities and to show her that he isn't like the monster who hurt her. Having been a victim of abuse in the past, he understands Laura more than she knows and he is determine to win her trust.

Just as Laura begins to open up to him, an unexpected guest arrives from New York and complicates Sawyer's decision on whether to commit to the Amish faith, and to Laura. His decision seems to hinge on this one person and his family fear that they may lose him. A final act of desperation threatens to tear Sawyer away from his Amish life and all the progress he had made with Laura seems to have been lost.

From that moment on, Laura has to make a decision for herself. Does she seek revenge? Does she let Sawyer go? Does she go home and explain herself to her parents and ask for their forgiveness? Most importantly, will she learn to let go of the past and trust God?

This book touched on forgiveness, healing and trusting God to bring good out of any situation. The characters were well fleshed out and story seemed to flow at fast but enjoyable pace.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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