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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Potluck With A Twist

This post contains affiliate links.

I love potluck meals. Our little church is full of the most fabulous cooks. I love it when there's going to be a "covered dish," because I know everyone brings their specialty dishes. Church ladies are the best, aren't they?

I was intrigued by this new cookbook I received to review: The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook (available from Amazon in hardcover or ebook). The cover says it contains "150 Seasonal Southern Recipes." How could I turn it down? The author, Nancy Vienneau, is a local food activist, has a food blog, and  participates in a community potluck meal on the third Thursday of the month. In her cookbook, she's assembled favorite recipes from her unique group, using seasonal food.


This is a beautiful cookbook. From the pictures of beautiful food to the layout to the text, it's simply lovely to pore over and ponder the recipes. There are appetizers, main dishes, meat dishes, vegan dishes, and gift ideas. There's even a flourless cake! Truly, there is something for everyone in this varied, interesting collection of recipes.

I decided, as it's January, to try one of the January recipes: Tomato and Mozzerella Strata. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, and while the dish didn't turn out quite as it was supposed to, I'm pretty sure it was user error and not the fault of the recipe. It was not a quick dish to make, although it wasn't complicated; definitely something I'd make for a gathering (such as a potluck!) rather than just for lunch at home.



I'm going to try the Indian Potato and Onion Curry next - doesn't that sound delicious? I finally have some urad dal and can't wait to make that for my family. We love Indian food, but there's no Indian restaurant where we live, so I've been learning to make it. I'm always on the lookout for good recipes, and this one sounds great!

If you're in the market for a cookbook with some tasty, unique recipes using whole foods, definitely look at this one. I don't believe you'll be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Want to Learn About Companion Planting?

I love to garden. I mostly love to plant flowers, but I've recently become interested in growing my own vegetables, too. I've heard a lot about companion planting, and have been interested to learn more about it.

Enter: The Mix And Match Guide to Companion Planting by Josie Jeffrey. I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for my honest review.

In the first part of this book, there is some basic information on companion planting, along with how to use the book, as well as basic botany and gardening information. If you're completely new to gardening, this book would give you a good start.

Remember those mix-and-match books you had as a child, with characters split into three parts, and you could make a wrestler look like a ballerina with a duck head? That's how this book works. There are three sections: Aboveground Companion, Central Crop, and Belowground Companion. There are 25 plants in each section, arranged in alphabetical order: certainly not every plant you'll ever put in your garden, but plenty to get you started learning about companion planting. First, you choose your Central Crop, and then look for plants that will play nicely with it in your garden. Each central crop card has a row of colored dots across the top, and a row across the bottom. By matching those dots with cards above and below, hopefully I will find good plant pairings.

For example, let's say I want to plant turnips. As I flip through the top and bottom sections, I learn that rosemary is said to go well with brassicas (turnips are a brassica), so that would make a good aboveground companion. I also find that peas are good companions for turnips, so I could plant peas as a belowground companion. According to the handy-dandy key in the front of the book, rosemary attracts pollinating insects, turnips repel pests and deter soil pests, and peas can help increase the health of other plants, increase the yield of other plants, and improve the soil. Of course, turnips being root crops, and knowing that rosemary grows into a shrub and peas can be quite tall, I will have to be careful about arranging them together, but they should make a nice garden combination.



Overall, I'd say this is a nice beginning guide to companion planting. It's a fun book to help you pass the winter weeks as you plan your garden for spring!

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. I'm disclosing this information in accordance with FTC regulations.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Motivate Your Child GIVEAWAY

I have the privilege of being a part of the launch team for a new parenting book that's just coming out, called Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need To Do Without Being Told. I am learning a lot from this book. It's all about "heart parenting" - addressing a child's heart rather than just their behavior. It's something I have wanted to learn for a long time, but just couldn't quite figure it out. I'm finally beginning to understand.

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800!

  motivate your child giveaway

Here’s what you could win: 

GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.  

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide
Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story
Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill
The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 

***

FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

$50 Mardel Gift Card


NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value):

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide
Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story
Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum

***

SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

$25 Amazon Gift Card


Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill
The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. 

Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET

Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.


Disclaimer

Youngpreneur Program Open - TODAY ONLY!

Shirley Solis is a homeschooling mom and businesswoman with a heart for building strong families, and equipping children to be independent with solid life skills. Several of her children have their own businesses!

She has developed a great program called "Youngpreneur" that will give your children a  young start in business and help them develop solid marketing skills. If you have a child who would be interested in something like this, PLEASE check it out! As I type this, there are only about four hours left to sign up. It's an investment of only $37!

Friday, January 09, 2015

She's Just Away

A dear friend of mine, Elyse, passed away this week.

Wow, that's hard to write. It makes it seem more real, somehow. Living three hours away from her, it's much nicer to pretend it's not true.

She had a brain tumor. She learned of it 10 years ago, right after her youngest child was born. It was inoperable, and she went through a lot of chemo and other treatments to try to get rid of it, or at least keep it under control. It finally got the best of her physical form, but her spirit never wavered.

She was such a beautiful soul. She had an amazing smile, and it was always peeking out of her eyes. She was a homeschooling mama of five, and I wonder what they will do without her? I remember her telling me that people often advised her to put her children in school, but she kept them home, because she didn't know how much time she had and she didn't want to miss any of it with them.

She was one of the first friends I made who introduced me to Charlotte Mason. She told me she wished she had been educated with Mason's principles, and wanted to be sure her children were. She led book clubs and taught other people, because she believed passionately in a living education.

I want to share a poem with you. It's called "Away" by James Whitcomb Riley. I saw bits of it on headstones at the cemetery in Old Salem, on the graves of men I would guess were soldiers killed during World War II.

I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead–. He is just away!

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,

And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you– O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return–,

Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;

And loyal still, as he gave the blows
Of his warrior-strength to his country's foes–.

Mild and gentle, as he was brave–,
When the sweetest love of his life he gave

To simple things–: Where the violets grew
Blue as the eyes they were likened to,

The touches of his hands have strayed
As reverently as his lips have prayed:

When the little brown thrush that harshly chirred
Was dear to him as the mocking-bird;

And he pitied as much as a man in pain
A writhing honey-bee wet with rain–.

Think of him still as the same, I say:
He is not dead– he is just away!

-James Whitcomb Riley

The first three stanzas bring Elyse to my mind, particularly the bit about the cheerful smile and wave. In my mind's eye, I see her beautiful, mysterious smile, eyes lit with joy as she sees heaven waiting, and she lifts her hand to wave as she steps beyond the veil. I know I will see her again, but in the meantime, I will miss her so very much. She is not dead–she's just away–and I know heaven rejoices in having her, for surely she is as dear there as she was here. Farewell, my friend. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Motivate Your Child Book PreOrder Special — $150 in FREE Parenting Resources!

$150 preorderI am excited to share with you about a new book I’m reading this month -- Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Isn't that what you want for your kids?

God's Word gives us a better way to parent, one that builds strong internal motivation in children. When parents change the way they parent, kids change the way they live. Of course we all try to be good parents so we will have good kids, but the longer I'm in this job, the more I realize that I have to be show my children how to live, not just tell them. My children learn from my example, for better or worse. Motivate Your Child is a practical book that explores a theology of internal motivation and then gives parents real-life solutions to equip their kids for life.

This is the newest book by parenting experts, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN from the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), also authors of The Christian Parenting Handbook.

In order to motivate parents to Pre-Order the book, the NCBP is offering a $150 package of resources for FREE! There are video, audio and print items that can be used on a variety of devices. You can learn more on the Book Website. You can Pre-Order the book now from any retailer, and then follow the instructions below.

Pre-Order from Amazon (aff link)

INSTRUCTIONS: Purchase the book. Email the receipt to gift@biblicalparenting.org. The NCBP will send you the link and a special code to access these downloadable products. This offer is good until January 31, 2015.

Disclaimer


Saturday, January 03, 2015

It's That Time of Year - Get Started With Motivated Moms!

I am by no means an excellent housekeeper. I can clean things, but when it comes to keeping up with All The Things around my house, I am easily overwhelmed and distracted. I tend not to see clutter until someone comes over. I'm working on it, but it seems like a never-ending battle sometimes, you know?

One tool I've found that helps keep me on track is the Motivated Moms planner. Every day, I get a new list of tasks to complete. There are Daily Tasks that never change, and then other things that might be weekly, monthly, or annually assigned. You will see everything from "change dishcloth and towel" to "make vet appointments." This is good stuff, folks. I am not a MUST FINISH EVERYTHING kind of gal, honestly, and I don't feel too badly if something gets missed now and then. If I wonder what I didn't get done, I can go back and review past days. When I find myself in a muddle, not quite sure what to do next, I can look at the Motivated Moms list and get some direction. They even have "Spend time on a craft/hobby" scheduled on Fridays. I love that!

The fabulous people at Motivated Moms have put together quite a comprehensive list of chores, but you can also edit the list. For example, they have "feed pets" on there, but we have cats, and litter boxes that need cleaning. I always add that one.

In the app, you can choose to view just the Daily tasks:



Or, view the tasks are that unique to that day:



And, of course, you can see everything at once.



One of the best features of the app is that you can assign a color to each person in your family, and they can see which chores are assigned to them each day. In my sample screen, below, you can see what everyone is supposed to do. There are unassigned chores, and I haven't decided if I will make those "up for grabs" as people have time, or if I will assign them. I will probably end up assigning them, because my children are really good at playing the "I didn't know it was MY job" game. Heh.



There are many options for the Motivated Moms planner, so you can choose the one that suits you best. I've used both printed and app versions, and have finally decided to stick with the app. I thought I preferred the printed planner, but I don't have a great place to keep it in sight and it gets moved around and misplaced. All of my children have their own iPads (I know, I know, but my husband used to work for Apple and we are an extremely techie family), so it's amazingly convenient to assign chores in my app and then synch with theirs. Since they each have their own list available, they have no excuses not to get their chores done. It works really well for us.

If you're excited to use MM and you can't wait to get started, here are the links:
When you purchase the app ($1.99), it comes with two months of preprogrammed tasks, which don't expire until you use them. How do I know this? Apparently I bought the app last year and forgot to use it. I had the printed version, too, though. I did. Really! You can check out my review if you don't believe me.

Already have the app? Don't forget to purchase your updated 2015 subscription ($7.99). You won't lose any of your current subscription (mine is now good for the next 425 days). You also have the option to purchase your subscription monthly if that suits you - $0.99 per month. I am pretty sure I would forget, although I would remember as soon as I ran out of days, I suppose, but I like to get it out of the way (and it's a lot cheaper, too).

If you would like to try the app before you purchase, and see how it works, check out Motivated Moms Lite (Apple and Android). The Lite version of the app comes with 2 weeks of preprogrammed tasks, so you can see how you like it.

The ebooks are available for $8.00, no matter which format you choose.

So, while I kinda missed the *brand* new year, it's not too late for you to get started with Motivated Moms. You won't be sorry!

Friday, January 02, 2015

North Carolina - The Old North State

This post contains affiliate links.

Although I will always be a Michigan girl at heart, I've lived in North Carolina for 16 years, and all three my children were born here. Funny story: when I was in 5th grade, I informed my social studies teacher there was no such state as North Carolina. My parents still think it's only right and just that I've spent most of my married life living in a state whose existence I once denied. We recently learned that we will be moving to Colorado in a few months, so it was a great time for me to put together a little unit study on this beautiful state we've called home for these past years.

North Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies, and became the 12th state on November 21, 1789. From the Atlantic coast, to the Piedmont, to the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can see an amazing range of terrain in this one state. The weather here is just about opposite what we had in Michigan - it's beautiful for most of the year, and only too hot to be outside in the summer.


State Flag:



North Carolina At-A-Glance:

State Capitol: Raleigh
Official Motto: Esse quam videri: "To be, rather than to seem"
Unofficial Motto: "First in Flight"
State Bird: Cardinal
State Tree: Loblolly Pine
State Flower: Dogwood

Fun Facts:
  • North Carolina claims three presidents: Andrew Jackson (7th), James Polk (11th), and Andrew Johnson (17th).
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright completed the first flight of a mechanically propelled airplane at Kitty Hawk, NC in December of 1903. The Wright Brothers Memorial is located at Kitty Hawk.
  • Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville, NC in 1914.
  • Mount Mitchell, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the highest mountain in the eastern United States.
  • Jockey's Ridge, located at Nag's Head, NC, is the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States.
  • North Carolina's state horse is the Colonial Spanish Mustang, and you can see these beautiful animals if you visit the Outer Banks.
Recipe Links:

Slow Cooker Carolina BBQ

Pinto Beans and Rice (I've actually seen pinto beans with cornbread, rather than rice)

Cornbread - WAY different than the way we made it in Michigan!

Buttermilk Biscuits - It just wouldn't be the South without biscuits!

Pimiento Cheese - I have had many versions of this wonderful stuff, but the best kind is definitely made with cheddar cheese, and the sharper, the better.

Links to Fun Things:

North Carolina Coloring Book: Print and color in the NC state symbols

Tar Heel State Games Page - from Learninggamesforkids.com

Printable Games (word search, crossword, etc.) - from Homeschooling.about.com

Books about North Carolina:

North Carolina (Hello USA) - Great book with lots of quick information about North Carolina. Check your library!

North Carolina (Portrait of America) - A more in-depth look at the state, suitable for ages 9 and up

Pale as the Moon - Chapter book set in the 16th century about a young Native American girl and a wild pony on the Outer Banks

The Jack Tales - North Carolina folk tales

Moss Gown - coastal North Carolina version of Cinderella

T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet - Picture book, lots of fun information, by Carol Crane, a wonderful children's author who taught my girls creative writing

The Twelve Days of Christmas in North Carolina (The Twelve Days of Christmas in America) - I found this book at Sam's Club last year, and we really enjoyed it! It's about a little girl who gets to go on a helicopter trip with her cousin and aunt for a Christmas gift. Lots of great information about fun things in North Carolina.

North Carolina's Amazing Coast: Natural Wonders from Alligators to Zoeas - nifty picture book about NC's coastal wildlife

North Carolina Bingo: Geography Edition - Okay, not a book, but fun if you're learning about NC, particularly if you live here. :-)

If You're Visiting:


Kids Love North Carolina: A Family Travel Guide to Exploring Kid-Tested Places in North Carolina...Year Round! - I have this book, and love it. I learned about lots of things I didn't know, even after living here for 16 years! 

Nature Guide to the Carolina Coast: Common Birds, Crabs, Shells, Fish, and other Entities of the Coastal Environment (2nd edition) - Small book, only 148 pages, perfect size to be the one thing you take with you on a visit to the Carolina coast.


Check out the original link up for more state studying fun!