Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monthly Menu: January

Here are my dinner plans for 31 days of January.
* This month, I'm using themes for each week - makes my use of leftovers seem more fun!
* The kids told me they are tired of chicken - I don't blame them, we eat it all.the.time (usually because it is the cheapest meat) - so I'm going to spend a little more this month and we'll eat more beef and pork - but we still have to stay on our $550 budget for 6 people - so hopefully my leftovers will stretch!

 Week 1 Menu: Soup Week
1. Homemade Chili (hamburger, onions, chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil and garlic)
2.Cheddar Bacon Potato Soup
3. Chicken Noodle Soup
4. Party Chicken (bacon-wrapped chicken with cream of chicken and sour cream in crockpot) 
5. Chicken and rice (with leftover party chicken sauce)
6. Leftovers
7. Homemade Burgers & Fries
Snacks: Apples, "Cutie" Oranges, Granola Bars

Week 2 Menu:Texas Food Week
8. Beef Enchiladas & Mexican Rice
9. Beef Brisket, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw
10. Leftovers
11. BBQ Beef Sandwiches & Chips
12. Taco Salad
13. Eat Out: Burgers & Fries
14. Taco Ring (I'm trying this recipe)
Snacks: popcorn,pears, yogurt, trail mix, "Cinnamon Cheerios"

Week 3 Menu: Italian Week
15. Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes
16. Ravioli with Meat Sauce & Corn
17. Lasagna & Garlic Bread, Green Beans
18. Spaghetti & Meatballs
19. Baked spaghetti with pepperoni
20. Leftovers
21. Eat out: Order Pizza
Snacks: jello, pudding, popcorn, pears, "Cutie" oranges

Week 4 Menu: Pork - the Other White Meat
22. BBQ Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, Corn on the Cob
23. Sausage & Sauerkraut, Fried Okra
24. Pork Chops & Baked Potatoes
25. Leftovers
26. Sausage & Egg Bake
27. Eat Out: Sandwich Shop
Snacks:grapes, cinnamon tortilla roll-ups, yogurt w/ granola

Week 5: Family Favorites
28. Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, bacon, eggs
29.Chicken Fried Rice
30. Mashed Potato Buffet - Toppings: bacon, cheese, sour cream, broccoli, chicken, chili,
31. Shepherd's Pie: BBQ beef, mixed veggies, topped with mashed potatoes & cheese
Snacks:string cheese, cookies, bananas, apples

Friday, December 6, 2013

Birthday *Giveaway*

I love celebrating special days, like birthdays - and Sunday is mine! So, in honor of my birthday, I'm having a giveaway - Hooray!

Here's what's in my Birthday Giveaway - I recently reviewed 2 wonderful books that would a great addition to any mom's bookshelf:

Seasons of the Heart: A Year of Devotions from One Generation of Women to Another Compiled by Donna Kelderman is a  rich treasury of thoughts and encouragements from 12 godly women of the 14th-19th centuries. The book includes daily devotions for January through December. (The Book Review)

From Creation to Resurrection, God's Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera is a beautifully poetic explanation of the Gospel for children. (The Book Review)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monthly Menu: December

Here are my dinner plans for 31 days of December.
*Since there are always parties to go to in December, here are a few suggestions for easy dishes to take along to any potluck or as party snacks:
- Chocolate Eclair (graham crackers, instant vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream, graham crackers, warm chocolate frosting - layer and refrigerate)
- Plate of Cheese and Crackers
- Puppy Chow (Chex cereal with peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar)
-  Chips & Cheese Dip (cubed Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes in crockpot on low, stir regularly)

 Week 1 Menu:
1. Spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans and garlic bread
2. Ravioli Lasagna (tried this recipe)
3. Baked Ravioli and steamed veggies
4. Party Chicken (bacon-wrapped chicken with cream of chicken and sour cream in crockpot)
5.Chicken and rice (with leftover party chicken sauce)
6. Homemade Tamales and Mexican Rice
7. Leftovers
Snacks: Apples, Grapes, Cubed Cheese, Granola Bars

Week 2 Menu:
8. Birthday Dinner (Hoping my family takes me out for Mexican Food!)
9. Cranberry-Pomegranate Salsa with Cream Cheese over Chicken in Crockpot
10. Cheese Manacotti with meat sauce, corn and rolls
11. Pork chops and mashed potatoes
12. Crockpot BBQ Chicken, baked beans and coleslaw
13. BBQ Chicken Pizza with bacon and pineapple salsa
14. Christmas Party (see party take-alongs above)
Snacks:popcorn, yogurt, trail mix, fruit smoothies

Week 3 Menu:
15. Homemade Chili (hamburger, onions, chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil and garlic)
16. Frito Chili Pie (corn chips, leftover chili, shredded cheese and sour cream)
17. Roasted Chicken with potatoes and carrots
18. Chicken Pot Pie
19. White Chicken Chili (here's my recipe)
20. Leftovers
21. Eat Out: Sandwich Shop
Snacks: Oranges, bananas, homemade cookies, pretzels

Week 4
22. Beef Enchiladas, Mexican Rice
23. Order out: Pizza
24. Dinner with friends
25. Christmas Dinner: Ham, Mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls
26. Leftovers
27. Ham, broccoli and cheddar soup
Snacks: .Chex Mix, Cookies, Candy/chocolate from grandma/parties, applesauce

Week 5
28. Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes, eggs and bacon
29. Lasagna, Corn and Rolls
30. Eat Out: Burgers & Fries
31. New Year's Eve: Meat, cheese and veggie trays
Snacks: Puppy Chow Cereal Mix, Chex Mix, Cookies, Apples

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Recipe: KY Hot Brown

This is my version of the popular Kentucky original, Hot Brown. If you want the real thing you have to visit downtown Louisville, KY to The Brown Hotel (where the dish originated) or The Seelbach Hilton (where I had my first Hot Brown when I worked there).

This is an open faced sandwich, layered bottom to top:
Leftover Turkey
2 Bacon slices
Tomato slice
Mornay Sauce (it's a white sauce with Romano cheese)
Shredded Mozzarella
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted and bubbly)

Enjoy - YUM!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: God's Great Plan

God's Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera is a beautifully poetic explanation of the Gospel for children with amazing illustrations by Matthew Sample II.

Using rhythm and rhyme, Cutrera explains Creation, The Fall of Man, Jesus' life, death and resurrection and our need to repent and believe. She uses words and phrases that make sense to children and the story moves quickly to keep the attention of little ones. This book is a great starting point for introducing children to the gospel or as a conversation starter to discuss deep Bible truths.

I was extremely impressed with the artwork in this book. The pictures show a father or grandfather telling this story to a boy and girl. The children's facial expressions throughout the book clearly portray the emotions my children and I felt as we read along - amazement, scared, sorrow and forgiveness. The use of light and darkness were very powerful in setting the tone of each scene.

This is a wonderful book that my family truly enjoyed. I would recommend it to all families and church libraries. I can think of so many situations in which this book would be very useful - family devotions, homeschooling, children's church, nursery/preschool class, a gift for neighbors, family and friends who need to know the gospel.

*Special thanks to Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Homemade Lasagna

6 lasagna noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz. container of small curd cottage cheese
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
garlic salt

1. Brown beef and drain. Add spaghetti sauce and a pinch of garlic salt, let simmer on low while preparing other ingredients.
2. Boil noodles for 5-7 minutes or until "al dente" (not too hard, not too soft).
3. Mix cottage cheese and 3 cups of mozzarella together.
4. Spread spoonful of meat sauce in bottom of 9x13 pan. (So noodles won't stick to the bottom of the pan.)
5. Place 3 noodles in pan. Layer with 1/2 of cheese mix, then 1/2 of meat sauce. Repeat with remaining noodles, cheese mix, and meat sauce.
6. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
7. Cover loosely  with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. (This last step is important, or lasagna will be runny.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: Seasons of the Heart

Compiled by Donna Kelderman, Seasons of the Heart: A Year of Devotions from One Generation of Women to Another is a deep and rich treasury of thoughts and encouragements from godly women of the past.

The book includes daily devotions for January through December from 12 women who lived between 1512 and 1903. Some of these inspirational women I was familiar with like Susannah Spurgeon and Harriet Newell. For others, like Ruth Bryan and Sarah Hawkes, I was kindly introduced to through the helpful biographical sketches at the back of the book.

All of these women clearly had a firm foundation in Scripture and a strong faith in Christ as their Savior, as reflected in the meaningful thoughts they share. These devotions are full of deep theology and may require more focus from the reader than other modern devotions, but each reading is well worth the effort for the wisdom and insight gained.

Facing many of the same struggles and trials in life as modern women, these genuine and honest devotions show the hearts of women whose desire to love and obey the Lord carried them through life and will inspire the reader to persevere in the faith as well.

*Special thanks to Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Untangling My Heart

In the last 12 months I have felt every emotion possible...anger, frustration, confusion, stress, overwhelmed, mad, sad, nervous, happy, excited, relieved...

In a whirlwind of events this year, everything in my life seemed to change...friends did hurtful things, my husband decided on a career change, my second daughter was struggling in school and had a possible diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, we had a million home projects to complete in the matter of a few weeks to put our house on the market and we didn't even know where we would be moving this summer.

It would be so easy to let my feelings about all these things make me absolutely miserable and depressed. I've been there, done that and don't want to go back. I want peace and hope during these uncertain times. I know I can only find it in Jesus!

The book Freeing Tangled Hearts by Dolores Kimball has been key for me to get through these trials, with the truth of God's Word as my foundation instead of living based on my feelings.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book that have helped me keep my emotions in check. Every woman I know struggles with her emotions at times, so I hope you too will find encouragement and strength in these truths:
  • 'Those who obsess about themselves will never be happy in any circumstance. Those who obsess about God will find joy in all circumstances.' (Quoting Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)  (10)
  • "...but the tangling of Christian hearts often results from a lack of understanding that the Christian life is not hearts and flowers - it's a battle." (19)
  •  "...no amount of advice or counseling will solve your problems if your biggest problem is that you are separated from God." (30)
  •  "Each trial makes us stronger and better able to handle the next one. The trial of the tangled heart, like all others, is designed to show you that your faith is real." (33)
  •  "...our feelings must not dictate our thoughts and actions." (52)
  • "Start with negative emotions - come to wrong conclusions about truth. Start with truth - come to right conclusions and have positive emotions." (56)
  • "But if God has marked out the race for us, then every day of our lives has meaning and purpose because God has planned it that way...there is no Plan B for the Christian woman; we are all living in Plan A right now." (69)
  • "Feelings...may or may not be associated with truth and reality." (94)
  • "Truth should drive feelings, instead of the other way around. Feelings are not the issue; truth is the issue. What you feel is not the determiner of reality or of truth." (99)
  • "Just like the toddler who can't have his way, anger is often produced when we don't get something which we believe we deserve to have." (108)
    • "The woman who is frequently in a rage loves no one but herself, and she gives free rein to her anger because she feels entitled to do so." (112)
    • "Bitterness is the root; anger is the fruit. Bitterness turns inward and rots us from the inside out. Anger is the explosion that results from inward bitterness." (121)
    • "The diabolical nature of envy should be obvious. As long as we're chasing after what Satan is dangling in front of us like a carrot in front of a mule, we won't be seeking after God or hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matt. 5:6)." (131)

    Want to know more about Dolores Kimball's book "Freeing Tangled Hearts"?
    - Here is my review of the book.
    - Here's a link to Kimball's website.

    All quotes from: Kimball, Dolores. Freeing Tangled Hearts.(Grand Rapids: EP Books, 2013.)

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    Monthly Menu: Novemeber

    November Menu

    Here are my dinner plans for 30 days of November. A few things you should know:
    *I love to use leftovers to create another meal
    *My meals are pretty simple (most ingredients are listed in the meal item) My go to cookbook is my 1996 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (you know, the red checked one) - it was a wedding gift and has been extremely useful.
    *I don't usually measure when I cook and add extra spices sometimes, so the same dish tastes different every time I cook it
    *I have one child that is a very picky eater (doesn't like different foods touching) - so I fix her plate before I mix everything together. She still eats the same food as the rest of us, it just meets her standards of separation.

     Week 1 Menu:
    1. Whole Roasted Chicken with carrots and rolls
    2. Chicken Fried Rice (use leftover ckn, bag of frozen mixed veggies, an egg and white rice with soy sauce, honey & dijon mustard)
    3. Chicken Quesos (leftover chicken, plus onion, and cheese grilled inside a tortilla)
    4.  Make your own pizza - I make/or buy 1 lg. pizza crust and let everyone add their favorite toppings to one section of the crust - add cheese and bake.
    5. Tacos - beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, tortillas, salsa, sour cream, black olives
    6. Leftovers
    7. Eat Out:Sandwich Shop
    Snacks: Apples, Grapes, Cubed Cheese, Trail Mix

    Week 2 Menu: Soup & Sandwich Week
    8. Hot Ham & cheese
    9. Ruben Sandwiches (corned beef, sauerkraut, cheese, Thousand Island dressing)
    10. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
    11. Bacon, Cheddar Potato Soup
    12. White Chicken Chili (here's my recipe)
    13. Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
    14. Eat Out: Burgers
    Snacks: Pretzels, bananas, peanut butter/crackers, apples

    Week 3 Menu:
    15. Meatloaf, rolls, green beans, and corn
    16. Homemade enchiladas
    17. Taco Salad - beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, black olives
    18. Breakfast for Dinner - eggs, bacon, pancakes
    19. BLTs (bacon, lettuce, tomato)
    20.  Spaghetti with meat sauce, corn, bread & butter
    21. Eat Out: Sandwich Shop
    Snacks: Homemade granola, pears, bananas, homemade cookies, chips & salsa

    Week 4
    22. Beef Stroganoff (beef, egg noodles, cream of mushroom, sour cream)
    23. Homemade Chili
    24. Baked Potato Bar with favorite toppings
    25. Homemade Lasagna (my easy recipe), salad, rolls
    26. Leftovers
    27.  Eat Out: Pizza
    Snacks: Bananas, applesauce, cereal trail mix, cinnamon roll-ups, fruit smoothies

    Thanksgiving Weekend:
    28. Roasted Turkey, Green Beans, Cranberry Salad (grandma's recipe), homemade rolls, pumpkin pie
    29. Leftovers
    30. KY Hot Brown (here's my recipe)

    Friday, October 25, 2013

    23 Books My Daughter WON'T be Reading in 7th Grade English Class

    We take our children's schooling experience one year at a time - if works for us this year, we'll keep going, if not we'll try something different next year. After seven years of homeschooling, we decided to let our oldest daughter have the opportunity to try public school, which she strongly desired to do. I knew that would require my diligent involvement in her schoolwork and continued communication with her teachers to maintain the Christian Worldview and strong work ethic we have worked hard to instill in her.

    Monday, she came in the door with, "Mom, I've got a paper you need to sign..." It was titled, "Secondary Reading List Permission Form" (I won't go on the tangents of why this shouldn't be necessary, the problems with Common Core standards, or should we just go back to homeschooling - all of which I have strong opinions about, but that's not the point here.) I was somewhat expecting and hoping for this paper, because as a writer, I want know that my daughter is reading quality literature - however I didn't realize the time involvement it would require from me to do the necessary research.

    The form gave two signing options 1. Sure, let her read whatever the teacher assigns or 2. Ok, let her read what the teacher assigns, with the EXCEPTION of... (my paraphrase of the formal language) - not a problem, I can weed out a few inappropriate books, right? However the list has 370 books on it!

     I spent the next three days reading reviews of "Young Adult" literature (because I haven't heard of most of them). It was a lot of work, but worth it for the sake of my daughter and hopefully all my research will be helpful to you as well.

    A Couple of Disclaimers about this list:
    1. My list of books was based on 4 criteria:
    (S) Explicit Sexual References/Scenes;
    (V) Extreme Violence, not related to historical events;
    (L) Excessive Foul Language;
    (T) Very Mature Themes
    If a book contained one or more of these criteria, it was added to the list of books that I DO NOT give permission for my daughter to read in 7th Grade English class.
    I had to limit my exclusions somehow or I'm sure I could have found something wrong with just about every book on the list.

    2. I based my opinions on the book reviews I found on www.commonsensemedia.org and amazon.com - the first site gives unbiased ratings based on content plus parent reviews, on Amazon I read 1 star ratings, looking for any obvious objections that met my criteria.

    3. My NOT APPROVED list is based on our School District's Suggested Reading List and what I feel  MY fairly mature 12 year old daughter should be reading- I don't feel these books are appropriate at this time in her life.

    The List (in no particular order):
    1. Kissing Tennessee by Kathi Appelt (S)
    2. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (T)
    3. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (S)
    4. A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich by Alice Childress (T)
    5. The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin (S)
    6. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (V)
    7. Story Time by Edward Bloor (L)
    8. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (T)
    9. Agnus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (S)
    10. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (L)
    11. Bless the Beast and the Children by Glendon Swarthout (L)
    12. Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (SL)
    13. Blood Red Road by Moira Young (VL)
    14. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep (SLV)
    15. Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep (S)
    16. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (TSV)
    17. Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper (SV)
    18. Gentlehands by M.E. Kerr (S)
    19. Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (T)
    20. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen (V)
    21. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (SLV)
    22. Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher (TS)
    23. Deathwatch by Robb White (V)
    Some final thoughts on what I've learned from this experience:
    • There is a serious lack of good literature for teens.
    • Amazon reviews aren't necessarily thoughtful or constructive critiques.
    •  Most "Young Adult" literature is about the same 5 topics: paranormal, dystopia, the ravages of war, racial issues in America or sappy teen romance.
    • I think books should come with ratings like TV and Movies - navigating appropriate books for teens would be much easier.
    • The written word is powerful to shape young minds - as a parent I must be extremely cautious about what I allow my children to be exposed to.
    • I praise God for the wisdom and discernment that He has given me on this task and pray that He will be honored by the decisions I make for my family.

    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Five Minute Friday: Laundry

    Super Easy Homemade Laundry Soap

    1 bar Fels-Naptha, shredded
    1 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda
    1 1/2 cup Borax
    Mix Well. Use 2 tablespoons of mix per load of laundry. (Cleans approx. 30 loads of laundry for me.)

    Prompt: Laundry

    Friday is laundry day at the Raulston house - it all gets washed, folded and put away - all in one day! Is it my amazing domestic skills that accomplishes this feat, you ask? No way! I'm not this dedicated about most household chores. But laundry has never been an issue.

    You see, when we were first married and in college, the laundromat at our apartment complex was awful, so a sweet older lady in our church, Shirley, let me come over once a week and use her washer and dryer to do our laundry. Our oldest child was about 1 year old, so Grandma Sippy, as she became known, provided Fruit Loops and Dora on the TV for the baby, while she and I talked and sewed (I was into quilting back then, when I only had 1 small child).

    This laundry day at Shirley's turned into an amazing friendship between our families. Shirley and her husband, Harold, really became like grandparents to us while we were in college. They would babysit and have us over for dinner. We would play cards or swim in their pool - we always felt welcomed and loved in their home. The summer before we moved away we spent almost every evening at their house - we made so many memories there.

    Today, ten years later, folding towels will still remind me of what true hospitality looks like...

    Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and hundreds of others. We write for five minutes. All on the same prompt. No extreme editing. No worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Project Organize Revived

    The last time I posted on Project Organize 2013 was in March.  Since then, we remodeled our house, sold that house, moved into a rental for the summer and then moved across the country from Ohio to Texas. Sooooo....my organizing plan gets a fresh start.

    I have three goals to keep my new home organized:
    • Monthly Meal Planning - so dinner time is easy peasy (October's Menu)
    • Cute and easy storage - for all the kids miscellany (okay, mine too - but we'll blame it on the kids)
    • Put Pinterest to real life use - 
      • Use those helpful cleaning tips and schedules to create a simple clean routine
      •  Actually make all those cute crafts to decorate my home, it will make it feel welcoming
      • Make-over for my closet (which will require a personal make-over too!)
    I want my role as homemaker to bring glory to God. I want a home where my husband can relax and feel at peace. I want my kids to value a well-kept home.

    Ambitious? Maybe! But, that's why I'm sharing it here with you - accountability! I welcome encouragement and suggestions! I hope my honest sharing is encouraging and inspiring too!

    Monthly Menu: October


    Here are my dinner plans for 31 days of October. A few things you should know:
    *I plan for a month, but shop weekly because we like fresh produce that won't last more than a week and to pick up any random items that always seem to be needed.
    *My budget for the month is $550 for 2 adults & 4 kids - that includes all home-cooked meals, snacks, school lunches (for 1 student), and dining out. (We usually have cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch)
    *I love to use leftovers to create another meal (ie. wk 1 I use left over pot roast for beef & peppers and beef stew)
    *My meals are pretty simple (most ingredients are listed in the meal item) My go to cookbook is my 1996 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (you know, the red checked one) - it was a wedding gift and has been extremely useful.

     Week 1 Menu:
    1. Pot Roast, Potatoes & Carrots (6-8 hrs. in crock pot w/ 1 c. water and onion soup mix)
    2. Oriental Beef & Peppers on white rice (sauce: soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar and garlic)
    3. Beef Stew (beef stock, leftover pot roast chunks, potatoes, and carrots, plus green beans, corn, and onions)
    4. Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
    5. Leftovers
    6. Pizza (from favorite local restaurant)
    7. Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs
    Snacks: Apples, Grapes, Cubed Cheese, Homemade Caramel Popcorn

    Week 2 Menu:
    8. Whole Roasted Chicken with carrots and rolls
    9. Chicken and rice broccoli, cream of chicken soup(use leftover ckn)
    10. Chicken Quesos (leftover chicken, plus onion, and cheese grilled inside a tortilla)
    11. Pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans
    12. Homemade Chili (hamburger, onions, chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil and garlic)
    13. Chili Dogs (hot dogs, buns, leftover chili & cheese)
    14. Eat Out: Burgers & Fries
    Snacks: Cinnamon Roll-ups (butter & cinnamon-sugar on a tortilla, rolled-up), Homemade Caramel Popcorn, Homemade Applesauce, Graham Crackers & milk

    Week 3 Menu:
    15. Grilled Chicken (with Italian dressing marinade), Sweet Corn and Crescent Rolls
    16. Chicken Stir Fry (ckn, squash, zucchini, onions and broccoli) with rice
    17. BBQ Chicken in Crockpot (4 ckn breasts with fav. BBQ sauce) with coleslaw and baked beans
    18. BBQ Chicken pizza - leftover ckn, onions, pineapple, bacon & mozz. cheese on pizza crust (or crescent roll dough)
    19. Tacos - beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, tortillas, salsa, sour cream, black olives
    20. Meatloaf, rolls, green beans, and corn
    21. Eat Out: Sandwich Shop
    Snacks: Homemade granola, pears, bananas, homemade cookies, chips & salsa

    Week 4
    22. Garlic-Lime Chicken (saute chicken breasts with minced garlic and lime juice), sweet peas & bread & butter
    23. Home-grilled Burgers & Tater Tots
    24. Spaghetti with meat sauce, corn, bread & butter
    25.  Homemade Lasagna, salad, rolls
    26. Leftovers
    27. Chicken pot pie
    28. Eat Out: Sandwich shop
    Snacks: Bananas, applesauce, cereal trail mix, cinnamon roll-ups, fruit smoothies

    Week 5
    29. Roast, potatoes & carrots
    30. Philly cheese-steak (leftover roast sauteed with peppers and onions on hoagie with cheese)
    31. Steak Quesos (leftover roast with onions, cheese grilled in tortillas)
    Snacks: Oranges, pears, homemade granola, yogurt

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Book Review: Bake Though the Bible

    I love, love, love Bake Through the Bible: 20 Fun Cooking Activities to Explore the Bible Story with Young Children (Beginning with God) by Susie Bently-Taylor and Bekah Moore!!  It's perfect for any family - homeschoolers, preschoolers, hand-on learners, and anyone who desires to teach their children the true gospel.
    Here's why I love this book so much:
    • It follows the redemptive narrative of the whole Bible. The authors didn't just pick random, well-known stories that would make cute recipes. They intentionally followed the story that God laid out in His word from creation to the cross to show why and how we need Jesus.
    • The recipes are simple and yummy! These two ladies obviously know what it's like to cook with children. The recipes are easy to follow with simple steps that kids can actually help with. Plus the ingredients are things you would normally find in your kitchen that kids might actually eat. Even my picky-eater is eager to try these recipes.
    • The artwork in this book is beautiful! I love the mixed-media. The drawings make the directions easy to follow and the photographs are big and bright and make the food look delicious! The artwork really attracts the interest of the children - my kids love looking through this book at all the pictures! (Our favorite picture is "The Good Book Company" lego-man looking inside the Empty Bread Tomb on page 51.) 
      In reviewing a cookbook, of course we had to try out the recipes. Here are some pictures of us making Dirty and Clean Hearts on p. 54. It was easy and fun, plus I got to talk to my kids about our hearts being dirty with sin and that only Jesus can make them clean! 



    *Special thanks to The Good Book Company and Cross Focused Reviews for providing this book, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Five Minute Friday: WRITE

    Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and hundreds of others. We write for five minutes. All on the same prompt. No extreme editing. No worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

    Prompt: WRITE

    I have wanted to be a writer for a long time. It started in 2nd grade writing a poem about leaves that was awarded and published in our school's Honor Writers Book - it was the first thing I ever typed on a computer - I felt very important! I wrote poems in high school and started a few novels - plenty of ideas in my head - not a lot of them have made it on paper yet.

     A few years back, I decided to take my passion for writing serious. I knew I needed to find a niche that I was good at and that was unique and useful. I decided I would write devotional books, for several reasons - my main audience wouldn't be people who read 100+ books a year - it would be mainly moms and grandmas, working women and college students - ladies who only have a few moments and who need lots of encouragement.

    My first book, Sights and Sounds of Christmas, was written for the ladies at my church, to encourage us to focus on Christ in the midst of a hectic holiday season. (I converted it to an ebook for Amazon,  check it out here.) I'm currently working on a devotion book for moms on the Fruit of the Spirit. My hope and prayer is that what God teaches me in and through His Word, I can share and encourage other women to grow in their faith. That is what inspires me to WRITE.

    Friday, September 27, 2013

    Book Review: Apostate

    I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that our American culture is falling apart because "they took prayer out of the schools". But the reality is that's just a side-effect of the 800 hundred years of shifting in philosophical thinking from a Christian worldview to a Humanist world view. Kevin Swanson, author of Apostate: The Men who Destroyed the Christian West has done the extensive research to show how men of great influence have left us with such a depraved culture.

    From Thomas Aquinas to Jean-Paul Sartre and William Shakespeare to John Steinbeck, Swanson gives clear historical evidence of how 16 of the "greatest thinkers" left the Christian faith in favor of Secular Humanism, or self-worship and influenced generation after generation to follow in their steps.

    I appreciate that Swanson does a consistent job of using the Bible to disprove the philosophies of these men, allowing the Word of God to shine the light of truth on these dark, twisted minds of men.

    I was slightly disappointed in his conclusion, though. His solution seems to suggest that, as Christians, we should just remove ourselves as much as possible from the culture as it collapses and then rebuild. My question is, where's the mission mindset of rescuing people from this dangerous way of thinking with the power of the gospel?

    For those wondering how the cultures got like this or who think removing prayer from school was the cause, this book is a must read. For those who admire or highly esteem the "great thinkers", this book will challenge your comfort zone, but is worth reading considering the obvious detrimental results of their work.

    *Special thanks to Generations with Vision and Cross Focused Reviews for providing this book, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    Behind the Scenes: The Kitchen Chemist

    "Behind the Scenes" is a fun link up where we show those photos - but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it. - Crystal Stine

    I'm notorious for not measuring when I cook -  I just kinda guess at amounts - it keeps meals interesting. That's why you can have Chicken Stir-fry 10 times at my house and it will taste different every time. I also like to experiment with recipes - I might get a craving for cookies and substitute whatever I have in the house to make it work. Here's my latest Chemistry experiment:

    Chocolate No-Bake Cookie Cakes??

    I started with the correctly measured amounts of milk and sugar. (That's the first shocker!)
    I guessed on cocoa, butter and vanilla.
    While that all came to a boil, I pull out the big container of oatmeal - oh no! only about a cup left and I need 3 cups! What will I do? No worries - there are packages of brown-sugar-cinnamon instant oatmeal right there in the pantry.
    I add 3 or maybe it was 4 packages of instant oatmeal to the pot. After stirring, it's still a little runny, so I add about 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Now I don't want to wait for these to set up in a couple of hours - I need to make sure that they taste good - so my next brilliant idea is to fill cupcake liners with the cookie mix and put them in the fridge.
    I snapped this quick pic because I thought I either have an awesome Pinterest post or something to remember and laugh at later!
    (P.S. They turned out pretty good - really sweet though and the fridge & cupcake liners didn't really speed up the process that much.)

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Five Minute Friday: RED

    Prompt: RED

    Lots of things come to mind with the word RED:

    My son's favorite color RED - because it's the color for stop at the traffic light (um, okay?! not sure why that makes it your favorite, but if you say so, son!)

    Go RED for Women - the American Heart Association's Initiative for Women's Heart Health (I worked for AHA for 2 1/2 years, so I celebrate heart month every Feb.)

    Bright RED lipstick - because I'm jealous of Drew Barrymore and my friend Sara who can confidently wear bright red lipstick with beautiful femininity.

    But most importantly, the RED blood of Jesus - that was shed as the payment for my sins - that I am forgiven and made right with God only by His sacrifice for me!

    What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
    What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
    O, precious is the flow, that makes me white at snow 
    No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

    (Hymn written by Robert Lowery)

    Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and hundreds of others. We write for five minutes. All on the same prompt. No extreme editing. No worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.Unscripted. Unedited. Real. 

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Patiently Endure

     For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.                          I Peter 2:20-24 (ESV)

    “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! Come on Mommy! Mommy, you get me ‘nana, Mommy. Come on Mommy! Mommy, I want ‘nana Mommy! Please, Mommy I have ‘nana Mommy? Mommy, come on!”
    We’ve all been there right? The desperate please of a three year old greatly in need of a banana or other snack, drink, toy, etc. Of course, we’re on the phone or typing an email or doing something else that requires our attention and some focus when the need arises. No amount of “just a minute” or “be patient sweetie” seems to satisfy the needy child. Then you think to yourself “be patient, don’t lose your cool, she’s just a little one who has to learn to wait.”

    Sometimes, I think God uses my kids to show me how I act exactly the same way even as a grown-up. “Lord, Lord, please, Lord, I can’t take this burden anymore! Please, Lord, take it away. It’s not fair, I don’t want to do this, I can’t do this. Lord, please!” I confess, I’ve prayed like that over trials in my life and I can’t seem to hear (or maybe I just choose to ignore) the “be still, be patient, wait, my child”.

    I Peter 2 is an admonition to believers being persecuted for their faith to endure patiently. Peter says when you suffer in doing good, do it with patience because Christ endured patiently to the point of death to set us free from sin. If we grumble and complain about our trails, refuse to submit to the authority in our life, or live like miserable grumps we’re no different than the world – that’s how sinners react to tough times. But we have hope in the only one who, after he suffered and died, came back to life by his own power so that by His wounds we are healed.