Sunday, April 7, 2013

An Amish Kitchen~Three Stories to Nourish Your Soul by Beth Wiseman, Kelly Long, and Amy Clipston

This book contains three separate stories all set in Amish homes and cultures. This is a genre which I particularly enjoy reading, and these stories did not disappoint. Each of them are written by a different author, and yet they flow together pleasantly, with no jarring feeling of leaping from one to the next. This is the first book I have reviewed that I read in an e-book format. I was anxious to see how that would go for me (I read on a Nook). None of the formats would download correctly to my Nook, which caused quite a bit of frustration. I ended up reading them seated in front of my desk-top computer. Still, those frustrations aside, the book was a lovely quick read and a nice interlude in the peaceful lives of the Amish people in the stories. My favorite was the last story, A Recipe for Hope, by Beth Wiseman. It was a good story of tolerance and acceptance among family members.

A great addition to the book, that I really appreciated, was the large selection of Amish recipes included. I love that it included a glossary of Pennsylvania Dutch words also. Having them in the stories is a great help to creating the flavor of an Amish story, but I tend to forget what the words mean, so it was good to be able to look back to the glossary for help when needed. There is also a reading group guide, which I never use, but is probably valuable to many readers.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a light-hearted & quick read, with a definite Christian basis. I look forward to reading more from these authors!

This book was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heaven Changes Everything-Living Every Day with Eternity in Mind by Todd Burpo and Sonja Burpo

Having loved the book, Heaven is for Real, by the same authors, I just knew I was going to love this devotional as well. It did not disappoint. The book is divided into 42 devotions, each one starting with an excerpt from Heaven is for Real. The topics cover grief & loss, parenting issues, and other issues people come up against, such as financial problems. In each section, the Burpos use illustrations from Heaven is for real to help the believer come to terms with the problem being explored. I did like that more information is given into situations that I read about in the first book, but it is not at all necessary to have read Heaven is for Real in order to make good use of this devotional.

With the climate of fear in the country (USA) today, with senseless murders and outrageous acts committed against innocent people, especially children, I think this book will certainly meet a need. In addition to fans of the Burpos first book, I think parents of young children, or parents who have lost a child, will find great comfort in this devotional. I'm sure, just as it is with Heaven is for Real, that this book will be a mainstay in my gift-giving for those who are grieving or dealing with tough circumstances in parenting.

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nook Cover DIY

For my birthday, my daughter gifted me with a lovely Nook Color (and then showed me how to use it, lol)  My sister-in-law had been bragging on her Kindle so much, saying I needed to try a reader also.  She dropped hers on a very hard floor, on the corner of the reader and it shattered.  She is sporting a new one now, this time in a protective cover.

I priced covers for my Nook at Best Buy ($39.99!), and on Amazon ($25.00 or so).  That seemed outrageous, so I made one that I really like a lot : )  First, I chose a book cover I really liked.  My mother read to me from books just like this one, and it is just the right size.

For the padding, I used a brand new lunch bag, a give away from somewhere, that is made of closed cell foam.
I thought I could use the strap and velcro also, even though pink wouldn't have been in the running for a color choice if I'd purchased the materials.  I removed the stitching from the lunchbox and cut it to fit the book, with small pieces for pockets also.  I sewed the pocket section together, with the softer section of velcro sewn onto the pocket.  That piece will be touching the Nook, so it shouldn't be the loop side of the velcro.
Then, I scrounged around for sturdy elastic about 3/4 inch wide.  I didn't have any, except a small section of buttonhole elastic saved from a pair of pants my husband discarded.  I sort of enjoy the buttonholes, but you can use whatever strikes your fancy.

 I laid it out to see how it would go together.  The loop side of the velcro goes on this piece before it is glued into the book.  Measure it around your reader, so you get just the right length to keep the reader held securely, and at a depth that is close to the original thickness of the book.  For mine, that was 2 1/2 inches plus extra length to sew it onto the back of the lunchbox fabric.
I covered the inside of the spine with a piece of ribbon.  If I made another one, I would not try to bind the cut edges of the foam fabric with lace.  It would look a lot better without that, I think.
So, here it is completed.  The velcro can also be used to hold the book cover open while you are reading.  When it is closed, the strap is hidden inside so it looks just like a book.  Very functional, fun to use, and better protected if I happen to fall asleep holding it, as my dear sister-in-law did.

It is 47 degrees and cloudy at my house today...a great day to snuggle up with my e-reader, and the sweet memories of my mother that the cover brings to mind.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Thieves-type Oil

Last night, my teenage daughter went to bed feeling feverish, congested, with a very runny nose and a terrible headache.  A bedtime dose of Ny-Quil didn't do a thing for her.  She woke up this morning feeling miserable.  I made her some hot tea with local honey, and went right to work on making a fresh batch of Thieves-type oil to rub on the soles of her feet.  I also mixed some of it with an alcohol/water mix to spray around the house to kill any germs that might be in the air.  Three hours later, her fever is gone, and she is feeling like she might actually live!

The legend of Thieves oil is that it was concocted in the 14th century to protect marauding thieves against contracting the plague when they robbed graves or stole from the sick or dying.  The concoctions can vary according to whomever is making them, but they generally all contain a few of the same anti-bacterial/anti-viral oils.  My own blend is:

Homemade Thieves-type Oil

4 Tablespoons sweet almond oil (any other good carrier oil would work just as well)
20 drops clove oil
20 drops lemon oil
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops eucalyptus radiata
10 drops rosemary verbenon
5 drops sage oil
3 drops basil, holy

Mix these all together in a small glass bottle.  I used an amber bottle to keep light out.  Rub this oil on the soles of the feet to help speed the body's natural ability to fight off germs.  To make the disinfecting room spray, you can put the same ingredients, minus the carrier oil, in a base of 4 oz water/4 oz alcohol, in a glass spray bottle.  Spritz around the rooms in your home to kill germs in the air.

Be well!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cute skirt upcycled from an old dress

My daughter and I love to snoop around in second hand shops to see what we can find.  A week or so ago, we found this dress

The fabric was so pretty, and crisp, too, like brand new.  We knew it was unwearable as a dress, with basically no top on it, and the skirt far too short for our liking, but we bought it anyway ($3.75) just for the fabric.

After thinking it over a while, I decided to make it into a cute summer skirt for my teenage daughter.
The bodice seemed like it would make a very nice wide waistband if I reshaped the front to match the width of the bodice back.

First, I cut the front even with the back, leaving a small seam allowance.  My daughter wanted a lining to give it more modesty, and a prettier drape, so I made a slip from an organic cotton muslin sheet I had in my fabric stash. The slip is nearly as wide as the skirt, but not quite, and it is 2 1/2 inches shorter than the finished skirt.  I attached it where the skirt joins the bodice, inside.

In order to get a nicer fit, I tapered the upper edges of the bodice so they angled slightly in at the top (like an "A", instead of out like a "V'), so they would fit a waistline. I did that by taking small darts along the side of the front bodice. The side of the dress already had a zipper, which I left intact. 

The top of the dress had very pretty tuck and embroidery detailing, which I think made a very nice waistband.  You can see that, as well as where I attached the lining (the row of stitching just above the gathers), on this photo:

All together, it took less than an hour.  The best part is, my daughter really likes it : )

Friday, July 20, 2012

Shoe-matoes : )

We love to raise all of the vegetables we possibly can in our small city yard, so we sometimes get creative in our planting.  Sometime I will take pictures of the recycled fun and useful items we have plants growing in, but for now, I will show you one of my favorites:

Shoe-matoes!  We have tomatoes growing so many places, including a hanging "Topsy Turvy" planter.  All of them are doing pretty well, except the ones I planted in a pair of garden shoes we had lying around outside this spring (nothing is safe from being used as a container! lol!).  That's ok with me.  I just love to look at them hanging on the fence so whimsically : )  I can see them from the house, and they make me smile everytime I look at them.

We put soil inside the Croc type shoes, and carefully poked tiny tomato seedlings in from the outside.   I think we planted yellow pear tomatoes in the shoes so the plants wouldn't get terribly heavy.  I'll take more photos if they do, indeed, set on fruit. 

Those are tomatillos, cucumbers, and green beans growing in the garden beneath the shoes, along with some strings tied so they can climb up the fence. It is our first year for tomatillos. Last year, we got some in a Bountiful Basket, used them to make salsa, and really liked the flavor. They have a ton of blossoms on them already, so we are hoping for a great crop.

Happy gardening!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pineapple delicious!

We participate in the Bountiful Baskets food program occasionally, and love the new things we get to try because of it.  Last Saturday's offerings included 19 pounds of fresh pineapple for $12.00; certainly too good to resist!

We turned most of it into pineapple jam, using a very simple recipe from the Ball canning book:

1 quart of finely chopped pineapple
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 lemon, very thinly sliced
1 cup water

Cook until sugar is melted, then boil gently until it is gelling.  Pour into small jars, and water bath process for 15 minutes.

Of course, we had to open a jar this morning and try it on bagels and toast : )  It is so delicious!

The pineapples we got were small, so it took about three of them to get a quart's worth of chopped fruit.  Each recipe makes about 3 1/2 pint jars.  We made two recipes and still had fresh pineapple to eat.  Not a hardship, let me tell ya : )