May 27, 2015

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans :: Review


Funny how God brings certain things into your life just when you need them!  This book was one of those things!


For the past year or so I have been less than faithful in my weekly attendance at church, for various reasons, and in that time I have been mulling over various ideas, struggles, and thoughts pertaining to church.  So when I saw this book available for review, I knew I had to read it!




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The basic premise is the author's story of how she grew up in the church, leaves it as a younger married couple, searches for a new church home in various other churches, and through all of this, eventually rediscovers the importance and place church has in her life.  Rachel breaks the journey into seven sacraments of the church, Baptism, Confession, Holy orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick and Marriage.  She ties these sacraments into her journey as well as focusing on the importance that each of these sacraments have in how we come together as a church family.   She tells a story that many people can relate to, including myself in some ways and I think she points out some of the churches biggest faults as well as blessings!


Now, I knew nothing of Rachel Held Evans when I received this book to review and by about two pages in, I knew that I did not agree with her personal doctrine.  I have since learned that Mrs. Evans is a very liberal Christian and, as it seems, quite the controversy!  So, I will leave my critique to that of just the book as she has written it and not as a stance on her beliefs or points of view.  I will say that I would not recommend her writings to a new believer, and probably will not read any of her other material in the future.


But as for Searching for Sunday, Rachel weaves a beautifully written tale!  Her writing style is intelligent as much as it is beautiful! She certainly is a gifted writer and I had a hard time putting this book down!  I did find that in all the ways I did not agree with her thoughts, there were others that I completely agreed with!  As I told my husband, "Where she's right, she's so right!"  I found the book challenging me to reaffirm what I believe but also to open my eyes to what God wants from His people in the church as a whole, mainly in regards to transparency and openness.  I do not agree with Rachel's stance that we are to accept our sin conditions, no matter how 'new a world' we are living in.  And it's for reasons like that, her support of accepting grace as a means to accept sin, that I would steer away from other material by her.  But this book, as a narrative of her journey, is enjoyable and there is plenty of good to glean from it!




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So with my struggling of thoughts and of attendance in regards to church in my life, I think Searching for Sunday has rekindled in me a renewed sense of purpose, place, community and love for church!  Would I recommend this book to others...it would depend on the individual but as for me, I believe that God placed this book in my hands at just the right time!







I received this book from BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review.  These are my personal opinions!

For book description click here.






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May 24, 2015

Alice in Onederland!


Can you believe it?? My baby is ONE!!


So yes, we threw our usual big fan-fair first birthday party!  And for this little sweety, nothing but an Alice in Onederland theme would do, of course!




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The whole party was themed around Alice in Wonderland...an idea I concocted in the first month after she was born!





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Remember the pictures of her I took each month? (I didn't actually post all of them on here) The ones of her dressed as Alice from the Disney movie?!  They were both to document her growth and also for a little project I planned on displaying at her party - these four images were printed and framed and placed on the table to show Alice's journey this past year:
(and no, that is not the same dress for each shot...I think in the end, including her party dress, I ended up making four different sizes!)






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She was such a skinny baby that first month!!  My how she's grown!!


We hosted most of the party outdoors but as the wind picked up, it just got too cool and too windy to stay outside, so after cake we moved gift opening and the remainder of the party inside.  There was oodles of family and some dear friends and all around it was a really wonderful time! (A big thank you to everyone for helping move us all indoors and especially for the ladies who did my dishes - best "gifts" of the day! lol!! ♥)  And, as I said, the whole party was a whimsical, Wonderland theme, complete with playing card soldiers caught painting the roses red...




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I had done some internet searches for Alice in Wonderland themed food and found these amazing 'mushroom' cookies!! The only mushrooms I will ever serve!! lol!!! There were also heart tarts, fresh fruit, decadent squares and "Eat Me" cupcakes!




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And thank goodness for the copious amounts of hot coffee, it was greatly needed to warm up!  (crazy May weather?!?!)  There was also a giant container of "Drink Me" drink....a mystery indeed! ;)






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And of course - there was croquet!!!




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And then cake for the little lady!  She was tentative...for about a second, but one taste and she nom, nom, nomed that cupcake down!!





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So yes, it was at this point that we all headed indoors.  Alice was actually very excited opening her gifts and she was blessed with many lovely, thoughtful and generous things!  But really, the biggest blessings were being able to spend this day celebrating with our family and friends!!




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And what party would be complete without loot bags?!?! Hahah! I love making these and they really are nothing much, just a little something to thank everyone for coming and spending the afternoon with us in celebration of our, not so, baby girl!  





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So wow....just like that our littlest Lady is one years old!  I can barely believe it!! She's a sweet one but a fiercely independent one!  This gal knows what she wants and isn't afraid to tell you!  She is crazy and I mean, crazy, about her Daddy!! And is overjoyed to see and play with her siblings!  She's a precious gem and I cannot imagine our family without her!  But a year already....how did that happen?!?!









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May 21, 2015

Kitchen Switchin'


A little while back, while Hubby was still off work...we apparently had a little too much time on our hands...and just enough extra cash to do up a project that was high on our 'want' list!

Yes, we decided to switch our living room with our kitchen!



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Bahahahahhaha!! Does that take the cake as our craziest project yet....??? Hmmm...I be thinking so!  But it was also inexpensive, fairly easy and has had an amazing pay-off!!!  I don't think I can tell you just how perfect this has worked out!  It's as if, this was the way the house should have always been!!





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The kitchen is so bright and airy and as a family we are all together more then ever now!! Plus we now have a fantastic main floor family room! LOVE THAT!!





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Can you believe that two months ago, that was our kitchen???? Wild eh?  It's such a wonderful space!! My mom was very generous and gave us the T.V.!  A HUGE change from our old 22 inch one we had! It was funny (a.k.a. God!) because one day Dave and I were moving the (old) living room around and talking about how we need a bigger T.V. eventually because it is hard to get us all in front of it (our old 22") and have it close enough to actually see what was happening!  The next day my mom called and offered us that one!


I also love, LOVE, that we no longer come into the house and smack right into the kitchen table!  We now have space for a foyer of sort!  And the perfect spot for that free piece of furniture I found on the side on the road! Eeee! I love organization! (I'm just not good at it....don't let me fool you, ever! lol!)




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As I said, this project was fairly inexpensive - the whole reno coming in around $700!  We were able to re-use the cabinets we had and then bought a few more stock cabinets to make the island.  Hubs built the bookshelf at the end and made the counter tops! If you can't tell, they are made of framing lumber! Hahha! They look amazing and are exactly what I wanted! ♥




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I moved my much loved gallery/college wall and I love it even more now!  We got this amazing Hosier cabinet from Kijiji (it was a great deal...but not included in the budget for the reno...just a bonus! hehehe!) and it holds all of our paperwork and the kids table toy stuff (lego, puzzles, drawing supplies, ect.).  The chalkboard we made from an old window we purchased last summer at my favourite antique/curious shop!  Hubby cut the boards for me to paint (with chalkboard paint) and then tacked them into place with small nails.

I love that now, not only do I have amazing views from every window in the space including the one in the living room, I also get to enjoy my "quilted" wall!





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I feel that now our home really functions as a family home!  We can all be together while I'm cooking or washing the dishes, or the kids can be a bit more 'wild and free' in the family room and still be under watchful eye!  It's great when we have company and it was especially wonderful when we were blessed with the Silver family visiting us - all seven kids and four adults of us!


Oh and here is the "new" living room - this was the original formal dining room for the house but we never used it as that - it really was just a whatever space and basically a waste of square footage.  But a waste no more!




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So that was what we did when we had lots of time and a little bit of money!  I just love it!  I forget what it was like before and it's only been a couple of months!  Our home just functions that much better!  And that makes for a less stressed, happy momma! lol!  



So come for coffee sometime, okay!?!







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May 6, 2015

Snickers Cheesecake and Birthday Love


My man had a birthday and as per usual he asked for his favourite dessert - cheesecake!  Usually I make him a easy peanut butter version but this year I was up to trying something a bit more adventurous!   My sister-in-law's husband also loves cheesecake and she and I were conversing about the ones we make and the options out there.

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I finally settled on attempting one made with mascarpone cheese.  I had heard that this was how to make "real" cheesecake...not that I'm any expert or that I even know it to be true...but I figured the more cheese the better! lol!!!




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And folks, let me tell you - it was better, so better, it was amazing!!!  And easy, so easy!!  Yes...it cost a tad (read, LOTS) more then my usual but eh, life's short, eat good cheesecake! Hahhahaha!

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I used this recipe as my guide...rough guide more like it.  Because I substituted the base there for a chcolate cookie crumb base, I added in a few more ingredients, removed a few and topped it all with ooey, gooey goodness!  But the basics are there (I omitted the lemon juice and vanilla) and the cooking directions I followed exactly!


Because what my hubby didn't know was that I was switching out his beloved peanut butter for his other favourite chocolate and peanut combination - SNICKERS!




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Yup - I created a decadent Snickers cheesecake!



I had Google searched Snickers cheesecakes but all the ones I found just required that you chop up some small Snickers bars and add those and then garnish with them...but that, to me, just wasn't a Snickers cheesecake!



So as I said, I used chocolate cookie crumbs to make the base (following the directions on the package to make it)  I layered on a coat of caramel sauce  (using this brand, easy peasy here people...remember! *wink!*) and topped that with chopped peanuts.




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After that I piled on the batter and baked up the whole thing.  It said it had to sit eight hours or longer, so once it was cooled, I popped that baby into the fridge and left it alone overnight.  The next day I decked her out in a chocolate ganache and caramel topping, sprinkled with more chopped peanuts.



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Now that is how you do a Snickers cheesecake!



And if you disagree...well, it doesn't really matter because what does matter is that I had one happy man on his birthday!!  As well as a number of kiddos now requesting cheesecake for their Birthdays! hahahha! *sigh!*



So other then the cake for hubs, there was his favourite supper (roast beef!), a few gifts, a card from Catherine (she's my plan ahead girl!), a chalkboard filled with sweet messages, friends the following day bringing BB's for his Daisy (see this Birthday for that story) and all around a quiet but nice time.  We don't do Birthdays big but we do them with big love!





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And since it has been a week today that he started his job (see post here for details on that if you missed it) I thought I'd give you all a update.


Things are going well! This is the first job that Dave has had where he knows exactly what to do and hasn't had to go through that awkward learning period.  The guys there seem like good people and the company prides it's self on safety!  The company is also big on employee moral and appreciation, a nice change! The work varies but right now the water filtration systems are the focus.  Over all it is a good, God given job and we are all thankful for it!


As for me, I've fallen back into the usual routine of corralling Littles and filling my days with various activities.  I remember so well my eldest two at these ages and it feels so natural to be go-go-going with these two...at least this time around I have wheels!!  (Yes, I was late on getting my license!)  So it's good - the days feel a bit long as Dave is gone about ten and a half hours by the time he comes home with the girls but it's okay, not great and certainly different then before, but okay.


And so, that dear friends, is how you do amazing Snickers cheesecake and how we celebrate the man we love so dearly!!  And no...I never did eat any for breakfast....




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May 1, 2015

Modern Parents, Vintage Values By Melissa Trevathan & Sissy Goff :: Review


When I first saw the title I was intrigued and thought this was a great approach and something my hubby and I strive for in our parenting - holding on to some vintage but essential values.  The book opens with an extensive section on 'modern' issues that our children are facing today - mainly media and drug usage.  The authors do tie these issues into character traits seen in youth and give reasons as to why many kids turn to these outlets and what a parent can do about it.  I found much of this section to be lacking in a spiritual or biblical stance but not entirely without.  I think a more biblical approach to these topics at younger ages would be helpful and serve our youth better but I think if your kids are older or you if became a Christian later in life, then this section would be very valuable!




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The next section of the book deals with vintage values and it makes up the bulk of the book.  I thought this section was well written and did include a much more biblical approach to these topics.  Two things I enjoyed most in this section was the fact that each chapter (value) was broken down into children and then tweens/teens and how these values relate and are seen in the two age categories.  The second thing I liked ,and thought one of the best features of the book, are the Sunday Drive sections.  This is where the authors give practical tips on how to instil these values in our kids, in a fun and family focused way!  I will certainly revisit these pages for wonderful and applicable ideas!



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Over-all Modern Parents, Vintage Values was a good and easy read.  I think there is much information to glean from it, especially for parents like me with young kids.  It gives an idea of some of the hurdles faced down the road if certain steps and precautions are not taken while our Littles are still little!


I would have liked to see more references to God's word and His teachings in these areas but I think the authors are trying to reach a broader audience and their advice is still relevant and applicable no matter your faith stance.




I received this book, from B&H Publishing, in exchange for my honest review.





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