Saturday, April 28, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–Book Review–Downfall by Terri Blackstock

Speak Up Saturday

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There are a few authors whom I love to read and get excited any time they come out with a  new book. Terri Blackstock is one of those.

From the publisher:

Emily Covington has turned her life around after a drug addiction, but her family still has trouble trusting her. Though Emily has committed herself to a year-long treatment program and has been sober for almost a year beyond that, even her mother walks on eggshells around her, fearing she'll relapse. After her behavior during her drug years, Emily realizes she has a lot to prove. When police discover a homemade bomb under Emily's car, and she then learns the wife of one of her friends was murdered that same morning, she knows things are deadly serious. But who wants Emily dead? And why? A conversation she had with two men, an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and a plan for a double murder all conspire for one explosive ride ... and Emily is the only one who can identify the killer and save the life of the next potential victim. As she frantically works to solve this ever more complicated puzzle, Emily finds herself playing right into the killer's hands.

I haven’t read every single one of Ms. Blackstock’s books, but the ones that I have read, I’ve enjoyed. She falls into the Christian/Mystery/Suspense/Romance books. My husband likes to poke fun at these books, but I enjoy them as engaging and fun reads. This book was no exception.

I have not read the other two books in the Intervention series, but I was able to pick up enough of the story to still enjoy it. I plan on reading the other two in this series as soon as I can get my hands on them.

The book draws you in right away and keeps you engaged in the story and guessing who the bad guy is until the very end. The book is full of mystery, good character development, and interesting plot twists. I enjoyed the ending and the way that she tied up all the loose ends from the entire series.

A definite must-read for anyone who enjoys Terri Blackstock or Christian Suspense books!

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~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–Mmm, sprinkles! and frosting!

 

2012-04-24 Sprinkles and Frosting (11)2012-04-24 Sprinkles and Frosting (1)2012-04-24 Sprinkles and Frosting (8)

2012-04-24 Sprinkles and Frosting (17)

~S

Linking up at:

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Tots and Me

Tasty Tuesday–Bread Machine Pizza Dough

Tasty Tuesday
Welcome to another week of Tasty Tuesday here at The Young'ns!
There’s a recipe index under the food tab above if you’re ever looking for a recipe I’ve already blogged.
Every Monday, I plan on trying a new recipe. If it goes well, that’s what I’ll be posting on Tasty Tuesday. If not, I’ll post a tried and true (i.e. something I don’t have to think about too hard) ;)
Wow, how can it be that I have not posted this recipe yet?!? This is another great tried and true bread machine recipe, although I bet it would work without the bread machine too. We like pizza around here, who doesn’t? But we like it to be a tiny bit more healthy, so this is my light wheat version of the crust :) This recipe makes enough for two large pizzas or four individual pizzas.2011-12-03 Making Pizza (6)
Bread Machine Pizza Dough
{Ingredients}
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 warm water (microwave for 40 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
{The rest of the ingredients}
  • Cornmeal
  • Olive Oil
  • Sauce
  • Toppings
  • Cheese
{Directions}
  • Place in bread machine pan according to your manufacturer’s directions (or your preference, I actually do mine backwards from what my machine says to do)
  • Wait 45 minutes (or whatever your machine says) for some tasty goodness. Roll out on a surface lightly dusted with cornmeal. Brush dough with olive oil before adding sauce, toppings, and cheese. Have you tried mixing cheeses, like mozzarella and cheddar? How about adding cream cheese chunks as a topping? So many choices!!
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on your preferences and the amount of toppings. The kids’ plain cheese pizza cooks for 10 minutes, mine with a few toppings cooks for about 12, and hubby’s cooks for 17 (he likes his crust *well* done plus he puts on a lot of toppings).
NOTE: This recipe works great where I live at high altitude (~5000 feet). You may need to adjust yeast, liquid, and flour amounts by a bit to get it to be perfect for you, especially if you live at lower elevations.

What’s your favorite pizza toppings? I get stuck in a rut with chicken and pineapple, looking for some creative ideas; I’d love to hear from you!
~S
Linking up at Beauty and Bedlam and It’s A Blog Party

*EDITED TO ADD* I just started making this in my mixer instead because I now need to make two batches since we eat a ton of pizza AND we like to have leftovers :) So, here's the modifications/steps to make it in a stand mixer instead:

  • Place warm water, yeast, and sugar in mixer bowl. Stir to combine and let sit for five minutes.
  • Add oil, salt, and one cup of flour to mixer bowl. Using dough hook, start up the mixer on a low speed. Keep adding flour until all is added. 
  • Knead using dough hook for several minutes, until a ball is formed and it looks well mixed.
  • Divide into two balls. Place in greased bowl in a warm place, like on top of the stove, covered with a towel, for 30-45 minutes. 
  • Continue with directions 

Menu Plan Monday–April 23rd

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Okay, I know it’s Wednesday, not Monday, but I do have a plan this week, honest! I’ve just been doing other things besides blogging like going to a work out class for the first time in about a year, and having dinner with friends that I haven’t seen in almost two years.

So, here’s what I’m making this week:

Mix-it up Monday (something new) ~ Creamy Chicken Taquitos. Man, these are good. And super easy too. And they freeze well.
Taco Tuesday (Mexican or Oriental) ~ Dinner at a friends house. Made Funfetti Cookies (*gasp* from a box!) and Pure White Frosting so we could make it bubble gum pink and purple cow  
Wow Wednesday (Date night or something like restaurant food) ~ Homemade Pizza
Simple Thursday (Crockpot or less than 30 min prep) ~ Chicken Couscous 
Favorite Friday (A family favorite) ~ Some kind of pasta salad as we drive to a marriage conference in Estes Park
Lazy Saturday (leftover buffet) ~ Frozen Mexican Lasagna. I <3 freezer meals. I usually make a double batch of at least one meal per week and put it in the freezer either for us to eat later or to be able to bless a friend with it. So many of my friends are having babies, or on bed rest, or someone in the family is having surgery. It’s been awesome to just be able to pull something out of the freezer to give to them!
Saucy Sunday (Italian) ~ Spaghetti with Meatballs from this recipe. Didn’t end up making this one last week, so we’ll try again this week! Good thing I put the sausage in the freezer…

So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!

I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

~S

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–Book Review–Mercy Comes Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Speak Up Saturday

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There are no second chances. Or are there?
Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.
Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.

I had a hard time getting into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The book is more, um, touchy-feely than I read. I would call this a good girly book, which is actually not what I usually enjoy. But, like I said, I did enjoy this book.

The book flips between Krista’s memories of growing up and the current time. It kept the book interesting and flowing well. However, I felt that the character development was a bit shallow. The story just jumped in and did not provide very much history to the powerful emotions that the characters were experiencing.

I enjoyed the ending and enjoyed the book. I felt like all ends were tied up, and it was not rushed.

I would recommend this book to others who enjoy a nice easy read, very relational in nature, but not too deep.

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~S

It would be a great help to me if you would please rate my review. I get the chance to review more books based on my rating, and there are cool contests and such. Thanks!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, April 20, 2012

And the winner is...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for all who entered my giveaway for The Last Plea Bargain!
~S

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–Look, school!

Hey, look at that! We actually did some schoolwork this week!

2012-04-19 Flower Painting (1)

~S

Linking up at:

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Tots and Me

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday–April 16th

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So, here’s what I’m making this week:

Mix-it up Monday (something new) ~ Cassolet from my stepmom 
Taco Tuesday (Mexican or Oriental) ~ Enchiladas and Black Beans accompanied by Chateau St. Michelle Merlot 
Wow Wednesday (Date night or something like restaurant food) ~ Lentil Stew with Chicken 
Simple Thursday (Crockpot or less than 30 min prep) ~ Roast Chicken and Veggies in Crockpot 
Favorite Friday (A family favorite) ~ Shepherd’s Pie 
Lazy Saturday (leftover buffet) ~ Dominos Pizza. Going to the drive in for the first time this season. We’re going to see The Lorax with the kiddos.
Saucy Sunday (Italian) ~ Spaghetti with Meatballs from this recipe

So, what are you having for dinner this week?
Link up at Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie or leave me a comment!

I have a recipe index, just for recipes that you can find on my blog. You can also get to it by going to the food tab above.

~S

Monday, April 16, 2012

TOS Review–AIMS “It’s About Time”

Speak Up Saturday

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Young children are eager to learn how to tell time and to understand the mysteries of analog and digital clocks. It’s About Time uses a series of investigations not only to build an understanding of how to read a clock, but also to provide a solid, conceptual understanding of time and its measurement.
A unique exercise within this book has children literally building a human clock, an activity that provides a powerful visual understanding and connection of time and its sequence.  They are introduced to one color-coded clock hand at a time, and they also see the special relationship between the benchmark numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12.
It’s About Time will have students sequencing events, measuring duration of time, and reading clocks. Time is read in hour, half-hour, five- and one-minute intervals. Several playful practice activities are also included in this book -- from a cake-walk game to a version of Bingo called “Time Out” -- that reinforce the students’ new abilities to tell time and make them successful clock readers.

We received this activity guide from AIMS that is designed for grades K-2. It contains 22 different activities to help young children learn how to tell time.

The book is written for use in a classroom, so I had to modify the activities to work with homeschooling. The activities are laid out well, but there is a lot of preparation for the teacher, aka me, for each one including copying, cutting, printing, and getting other materials ready. The activities are age-appropriate, and I think they will be helpful in teaching Kahlen how to tell time. We’ve only had the chance to do a few of them so far, partially because I’ve had to sift through which ones are needed and which ones are too easy for her and partially because of the modifications and prep time needed, I just haven’t been able to do very many yet.

Overall, I think the book is useful, but because of the formatting toward a classroom and the time-consuming nature of the preparation for each activity, I give it three stars.

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You can purchase the book or a PDF download for $21.95. AIMS offers other books that integrate math and science including What On Earth?, Fabulous Fractions, and many more.

See what other crew members are saying here.

~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ultimate Blog Party 2012–Hi and welcome!

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

Wow, is it time again already? Can’t believe I’ve been blogging / reading others blogs for two years already!
If you’re stopping by from the party, welcome! I’ve been a little preoccupied in the last few months with the birth of my third child in January (and being so tired from late pregnancy before that), my blogging has been a bit light. I’m trying to get back on track, but it’s taking some time. I still do reviews, both for The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and various book publishers, and I’ve been pretty faithful with Wordless Wednesday posts. I hope to get back to posting Menu Plan Monday, Tasty Tuesday, and some kind of school related posts.

Take a look around. Leave me a comment with your blog link so I can come visit you too. And remember to enter my giveaway for The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer!

To see more about me, you can go here for the long and short of it or here for last year’s party post.

Looking forward to partying with you this week! Go here to see more mom blogs joining the party.

~S

Daily Photo–April 12

2012-04-08 daddy and shane

Daddy and Shane at church on Easter

~S

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–Happy Easter!

Here’s a few pictures I took on Easter. We had a pretty low key day. I wanted to get pictures of all of us, but it just didn’t work out. I made my boys (all three of them) matching ties with my new sewing machine, but didn’t manage to get a picture. Nate was his new cranky self most of the day :( This picture was taken just after nap time, so he was doing better.2012-04-08 Easter Egg Hunt (11)

She looks like such little girl. Not my baby anymore!

2012-04-08 Easter (4)

~S

Linking up at:

imageBetter in Bulkimage

Tots and Me

Remember to enter my giveaway for The Last Plea Bargain!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Daily Photo–April 10th

Last week, we made it to Pump It Up finally. Kahlen has been asking to go since her 4th birthday party, but it just hasn’t worked out. My crazy girl loves the slide especially. Nate would only go down with me. He tried to go down once by himself, and the look of terror on his face was one I wish I had captured.2012-04-06 Pump It Up (4)

2012-04-06 Pump It Up (9)

~S

Monday, April 9, 2012

Daily Photo–April 9th

I have a bunch of pictures from the last week, so I’m reinstituting the daily photo posts. We’ll see how long this lasts… :)

2012-04-06 Not the Double Stroller (1)

Daddy took the kids for a walk. When they left, the stroller was empty. When they came back, there were two kids in a single umbrella stroller. That’s a lot of pounds for a little stroller!

 

 

 

 

~S

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

2012-04-02 Bunny Ears (2)

Happy Easter from my little bunnies!

He is Risen!

~S

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Speak Up Saturday Book Review + GIVEAWAY!–The Last Plea Bargain

Speak Up Saturday
The Last Plea Bargain
From the publisher:
Plea bargains may grease the rails of justice, but for Jamie Brock, prosecuting criminals is not about cutting deals. In her three years as assistant DA, she’s never plea-bargained a case and vows she never will. But when a powerful defense attorney is indicted for murder and devises a way to bring the entire justice system to a screeching halt, Jamie finds herself at a crossroads. One by one, prisoners begin rejecting deals. Prosecutors are overwhelmed, and felons start walking free on technicalities. To break the logjam and convict her nemesis, Jamie must violate every principle that has guided her young career. But she has little choice. To convict the devil, sometimes you have to cut a deal with one of his demons.
I have to be honest. This is the first legal drama/thriller that I’ve ever read. It might be a new favorite genre. That is, as long as they flow like this one.
I really enjoyed this book. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. I tried reading another book of similar genre by another author, but that was over ten years ago, and it wasn’t nearly as engaging as this one.
The book flipped between first person narrative from the main character to third person for the supporting characters. Each character had a depth to them that I enjoyed. There were not too many characters either, so following each one was easy.
The plot was complex, yet not too complicated that I couldn’t easily follow it which is good because my reading time is now generally while I’m nursing the baby and referring the other two kids. This book had me staying up way too late though once I got into it. I think I read the last half in two days, much to the irritation of my husband who was trying to converse with me.
If you have read any other book reviews from me, you know that it’s the ending that will make or break a book for me. I can really enjoy the rest of it, but if I don’t like the ending, I will not read it again or recommend it to others. The ending of this one was great. It managed to surprise me, it was exciting, and it was thorough with all the ends being all tied up.
So, I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to reading more of his books in the future!
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You can read the 1st Chapter .PDF or go visit Randy’s website here.
And now for the giveaway…
You will be receiving a certificate for The Last Plea Bargain, which you can redeem at your local Christian bookstore or if no store is available, it can redeemed through Tyndale. All of the instructions appear on the back of the certificate. Along with the certificate, the winner will also receive a bookplate signed by Randy that can be put in your book once you get it.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


~S
I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through Tyndale Media Center Blog Network in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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