Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

The Mr. and I are packing up the kitchen so we can start a big remodel/overhaul of the space.  While the prospect of the new kitchen has me giddy with excitement (gas cooktop, double ovens, loads of quartz countertops) the process of getting to the end result means everything must be packed away.  We're turning an upstairs room into a makeshift kitchen (picture your college dorm room with a microwave on a desk) and we'll be utilizing the grill, crockpot, and electric griddle/panini press quite a bit from late April through June.  To ease the packing nightmare, I started boxing up the non-essentials a few weeks ago.  It's been fun seeing what we really don't use, what we can get by without, and holding onto the things we really do love and making do with those items.  As I use the few items that are left out, I thought I would highlight for the 3 of you who still read this blog 3 items I've picked up over the past year, which are still out and being used regularly.

Disclaimer: none of these are affiliate links, I won't get any rewards from Sur La Table or Pampered Chef, I just chose to link you directly to these items in case you want to procure them for yourself.  Each time you use them you can think kind thoughts of me and that is payment enough.

1. Chef's Planet Clip and Drain

 This handy gadget clips onto any size pot to drain pasta, water from hard boiled eggs, etc.  I love that you can just clip it on and don't have to try to hold the strainer and the pot which some models require.  A definite top purchase of the past year.  

2. Chef'n Garlic Zoom Chopper

This little bad boy will mince garlic or ginger in no time flat.  A bit of a pain to clean with the tiny blades inside, but worth the hassle for the ease of mincing garlic or ginger when a recipe calls for it.  You might even be able to chop a small batch of herbs in this bad boy.  I've seen these at several big box and department stores, so these are easy to grab many places.

3. Microwave Grips

Do not let the name fool you, these are good for everything from lifting bowls out of the microwave, to moving a pan around in the oven, to lifting the hot lid off a pot on the stove.  These sit right by our cooktop and are used several times a week.  The ability to pinch the edge of pan and lift it straight up will also come in handy once our new microwave is installed as it will be a drawer rather than a door.  I can't wait!!!!!

So there you have it.  3 things I absolutely love and am thankful that I splurged on each of them.  

Thursday, August 08, 2013

My Hope is Built

My early life was spent in a small, country church listening to and singing the old hymns in a Cokesbury hymnal.  I love the words of the songs and how the resonate with our life.  Don't get me wrong, I love a modern praise song that quotes word for word from scripture, but I will never not find a place for a hymn to carry me through.  A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks.  Our company had to make some tough decisions and therefore I lost a handful of co-workers that I had grand hopes of working with for many years.  These were my people.  These are my people.  I enjoyed working with them professionally, I enjoyed chatting with them personally.  And as I work through the change I can't help but lean on some of those old hymns, and know the Truth that lives in them, is the Truth the lives in us.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.


His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.


When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.


And for your enjoyment, a combo of an old hymn with a new twist.  I love how they change the refrain to "Cornerstone" to describe that not only is He a rock, He's the most important rock.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel -- A Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel
B&H Publishing Group (April 30, 2013)
Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


With high hopes, Dorothy Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dot passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Dorothy, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Dorothy only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dot’s cats.

And if Dorothy thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dot's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

If you would liketo read the first chapter of Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, go HERE.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Technology Makes the Connections Real

Growing up I lived on the same 20 acre plot of land from birth through HS graduation.  My parents still live there.  My sister, she grew up and well, built a house on the original corner of that plot we first lived on.  Me, I always wanted to move.  I wanted to have adventure, see the world.  I moved out when I went to college, came home one Summer and babysat, and that was it.  I was on my own.  I've lived in bug infested apartments, condos with amazing landlords, owned two houses, and followed my love from one coast to the other.  But I've left one thing behind in every move: dear friends.  And as I get older the more I realize just how dear those friendships are to me.  This week has been a constant reminder of those whom my heart adores on that other coast.  I've been reminded that though 3,000 miles separate us physically, part of my heart is still with these people.  I love that technology allows random phone calls from Autumn, chats with Davida, read Annette's blog, send text messages of laughter and encouragement, and cry and laugh and rejoice with each of them (and more!) in their seasons.  And though I may not be as connected to as many people because I don't embrace Facebook, I do know that the connections I have with my friends are intentional and meaningful.  And that is really what it's all about.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Garden Update

If you'll remember back to the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to plan a garden that would feed us beyond the growing season.  Well, it's June and the garden is in full force.  Right now we are enjoying salads every day or so with fresh spinach, arugula, and lettuce.  The peas are starting to pod out and the raspberries have made lovely snacks, salad additions, and pancakes.  Here are some shots of what's in store for the rest of the Summer.

 Broccoli before I replanted it for better spacing.

The pea trellis with netting hung.

Peas ready to grow up the netting.

The broccoli is growing and has been spaced appropriately.  We square bed garden (to an extent) and so one plant per square is more appropriate for growth.

 Spinach, perfect for a salad, pesto, or lightly sauteed with some pasta

View from the deck looking over the garden area.  Broccoli plants are the large ones on the left.  Cauliflower goes in a row next to the tall bed.  The tall bed will house carrots.  YUM!

The first pea pod!

The tomatoes are staked.  With the cooler weather here, I might see ripe tomatoes by then end of August.  Thank goodness for the weekly farmer's market!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Follow the Heart -- A Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Follow the Heart
B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Kaye Dacus


Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing, Harvest House Publishers, and B&H Publishing. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a full-time academic advisor and part-time college composition instructor for Bethel University.

Kaye Dacus (KAY DAY-cuss) is an author and educator who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there. She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is an academic advisor and English Composition instructor for Bethel University.


Set during the Industrial Revolution and the Great Exhibition of 1851, Follow the Heart is a “sitting-room romance” with the feel of a Regency-era novel but the fashions and technological advances of the mid-Victorian age.

Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.

At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.

Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.

While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of >Follow the Heart, go HERE

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Undeniably Yours -- A Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Undeniably Yours
Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
Becky Wade


During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market, put her career on hold for many years to care for her kids, and eventually returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. Her first contemporary Christian romance, My Stubborn Heart, has been named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA Award. Her newest release, Undeniably Yours, is available now.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.


When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted--more interested in art than in oil--she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father's empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father's thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo's determined to resent the woman who's decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them--her wealth, his unworthiness, her family's outrage--and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg's past. Can their love--and their belief that God can work through every circumstance--survive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Undeniably Yours, go HERE.