Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Memories Scrapbooking Software GIVEAWAY

I was given a very exciting opportunity to branch out in my scrapbooking hobby and test the My Memories Software suite version 2. I am telling, I have been playing with this software for a few days now and I am really, really loving it!! I am an avowed Paint Shop Pro X3 addict but there is SO much more detail and things that are directly related to scrapbooking and not photo editing or graphics rendering that My Memories does that PSP just cannot touch. I have tried to scrapbook with PSP for years and I always am either disappointed with the page results or wind up  making mini pages with borders and an element.

Here's just a few things that My Memories lets you do that make it the GREATEST software for scrapbookers ever created:
  • Choose page sizes from  mini pages and cards all the way up to 12 x 12 pages if your printer has the capability to do so. I have an Epson Stylus 1400 which uses their Claria line of inks. With this wonderful printer, which has been around since I want to say 2007, I am able to print regular pages, 8" x 8" pages, 12" x 12" which has been my standard scrap size since 1999 and incredible 13" x 19" poster size pages!!!
  • Integrate backgrounds, elements, mats, frames, in coordinating colors by using the Color Picker tool in every selection
  • Create text blocks and word art for those memorable journal passages and eye catching titles!
  • Add shadowing to embellishments for a truly three-dimensional look
  • Purchase amazing paper packs and embellishment kits and even completed quick pages that you simply add your photos and some personalized text seconds you have a unique and uniquely yours invitation, birth announcement, thank you card, or holiday card or a frameable keepsake for your wall to commemorate your wedding, baby's arrival, graduation and so many more events and adventures!
Can you all tell I adore this software?? I honestly don't think I've opened PSP in a couple weeks...eek!!

Here is a Halloween invite I made for my kiddos Halloween party:
 Followed by this adorable layout I did of my youngest daughter, A7, with a pic taken back in 2009 that I sepia-toned and turned into a layout just today:

Notice the cute ribbon shape with stitching I used to make the journal block. I was able to add that, and then put the text right in it without having to copy and paste the text from a word processing program. My Memories let me do it all in ONE!!






Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"The Daughter's Walk" truly terrific historical fiction

The Daughter's Walk tells the life story of Clara Estby, beginning in her late teens when her mother drafts her to accompany her on a trek from Spokane, Washington to New York City in a bid to win $10,000. The walk takes place in the late 1800's and the money is meant to save the Estby family farm. Sadly, because of Mrs. Estby's inability to stick to schedules and avoid side trips the women arrive in poor condition, Clara very ill and on the verge of death and out of time. They do NOT receive the prize. When they arrive home there are surprises waiting.

The second half is truly engaging and takes place AFTER Clara leaves home. Why does she leave? What does her mother confide on the walk that changes Clara's life in unexpected and irreversible ways? How does Clara survive after she leaves home?

Grab a copy of The Daughter's Walk, something warm and tasty to sip, curl up by a cozy fire in your favorite pajamas and enjoy the suspenseful tale!

Fresh Brewed Life ~ A BookSneeze Review

I have been a fan of Nicole Johnson for years and yet, somehow, until this revised and expanded edition of Fresh Brewed Life was released I had not heard of this terrific book. I am glad in some ways that I didn't discover this book until now, because I am at a place in my life where this book has been a tremendous help and  a real encouragement, relevant to now rather than file for later in my memory bank.

Each chapter focuses on a different section of a woman's life, from relationships to the workplace to spirituality and fulfillment. They encourage the reader to sip slowly and savor the wit, wisdom, and sometimes hilarity you'll find. I could not put this book down, however, because I needed cupfuls-no, make that full pots-of freshly brewed relevance and insight and that is exactly what I got from Fresh Brewed Life.

Anyone picking this book up for themselves should definitely get a second and maybe even a third copy, because you are going to find yourself thinking of at least one, and maybe two or even more close girlfriend's who really really could use a new cup of life...the Fresh Brewed kind...and you won't want to part with your copy. One of my greatest joys is passing a fabulous book on, but this has become, like my Bible, a "purse pal" that goes with me everywhere. I find myself calling friends and saying, "You have GOT to hear this!!" at least three times a day.

Everyone I've shared this with has been thrilled and wowed with the passages I've passed on and I am making this one of my go to Christmas gifts this year!

Go get yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, a copy of Fresh Brewed Life, and sit, sip, and savor...beverage AND book! You will truly enjoy it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rained out at Piscataquis Valley Fair 8.28.11

Well, today was supposed to be the great end to a terrific year at the Piscatquis Valley Fair. Thanks to Irene, we're a total wash out. Everyone was asked to pick up their exhibits, entries, and animals before noon. We got there at 11:20 and most of Smokey's midway was already down because of the weather. It was torrential downpour while we were there.

Sadly, today was the day we were waiting to go because we only had the money and time away from the farm for one day...and its a washout. SO, we're hanging out at McDonald's in Dover drinking LOTS of coffee ($1 a large and free refills!) and blogging, getting my school stuff done, all that awesome jazz. Things are really looking up for me and mine and I'm so thrilled about that. Missing my kids like crazy but I've said in the past that I'm NOT going to blog about that situation.

Because of building the house, clearing out our woodlot, the firewood business, and my schooling I didn't enter nearly as many things in the fair as I would've liked to, but what I did enter did spectacularly! I was really, really thrilled and surprised at my winnings. I didn't expect to get anything because this years' entries were ALL made last minute. I wish I could enter some pics here for you but I don't have a working camera (again!) which will be remedied next month. I can't start a phot biz with no camera, after all.

Winnings this year:
First Place: Needle and Fancywork for my Tropical Citrus Burst goats milk soap. It was a glycerin based soap infused with coconut oil and sweet orange, Tahitian vanilla, and lime fragrance oils. A lovely woman who has multiple chemical sensitivity was one of the exhibit leaders and was there when I dropped the entries off. She reacted in no way to it except for being able, after many years, to ENJOY the soap!! I gave it to her. Hopefully that will me get my Borealis Beauty line off and running again.
Second Place:  Needle and Fancywork for my black beaded earrings. The earrings are another Borealis Beauty item and look like jet beads but are actually native Daylily seeds.

Second Place: Needle and Fancywork in the photography category subcategory animals. I entered a sweet pic I took of one of our banty hens standing in a pile of hay watching a bug. Shocked because it was a totally candid shot.
Thirds Place: Needle and Fancywork in the crocheted category subcategory tableclothes and runners I made a table runner or placemat out of bits and pieces of yarn I had leftover from other projects. It took me a couple hours and definitely wasn't my best work and I am rather surprised that it won at all because there was some gorgeous needlework there!

The real kicker was taking first place in TWO baking categories, muffins and quick breads. The recipes were BOTH made up on the spot and I baked them in a not really spectacular oven. It tends to get a little warmer in the middle sometimes then on the edges and as a result things can burn if you don't keep close watch. Fortunately I did and even though three of six muffins got the living daylights burned out of their bottoms the other three, right next to them, cooked perfectly!

Total wins for the fair this year: $28 in Needle and Fancywork and $16 in baked goods. Wasn't expecting anything and since I didn't have to buy anything to make the entries aside from a $1.50 picture frame I did really good.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thunder Dog: how four paws saved three lives on 9/11

I could not put this book down. Thunder Dog is a simply riveting narrative of Michael Hingson and his dog, Roselle, who saved his life and the life of a co-worker on September 11th, 2001 at the World Trade Center. That morning began somewhat strangely for Michael and Roselle. Roselle, you see, is terrified of thunder storms and one struck around the Hingson's New Jersey home around midnight. Michael got up to help Roselle get through the storm, doing some work from his home office and listening to the news on the radio. Once the storm passed the two went back to bed for a few hours before getting up and starting what seemed like a routine day. After their morning routine and getting to the WTC's Tower B things became anything but routine for this incredible pair. While setting up a presentation with a colleague, David, who had flown in from California, there was a sudden lurch and the building tilted alarmingly. Both felt they were about to die when suddenly, the building rights itself and they start shutting down electronic devices. That ladies and gentlemen just sums up the first two chapters of this fabulous book! If you want to see how Roselle helped Michael and David get down over 1000 stairs, 84 floors, and out of the building just moments before its collapse, you need to get a copy of Thunder Dog and read it for yourself. An amazing insiders point-of-view on the unbelievable bond between a man and his seeing eye dog Thunder Dog helps those of us on the outside learn what we've always wanted to know but most of us were to shy to ask.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

††† ~ IMAGINE ~ ††† Women of Faith Fall 2011

Women of Faith Imagine
Oh, my gosh, I don't hardly know where to start. I've been crying and praising all over the place since I received a terrific and life changing email yesterday...

The sender was "Women of Faith" and the subject line simply said "Hello, BookSneeze Friend!" Well, BookSneeze is a book reviewing program I am part of. Basically if you have a blog and love to read, you can sign up with BookSneeze. You then can pick one book at a time from their review copies which they will send to you absolutely free provided you write a review of the book you received on your blog, on a retailer website, and on their site. So easy!! After those reviews are posted through the BookSneeze site you pick another book and the cycle repeats. It is AWESOME!

Last month, though, BookSneeze sent me an email. A terrific email with the chance to register for an opportunity to receive a FREE registration to a Fall City for the Women of Faith Conference. The closest to me is Hartford, CT. I have never been to Connecticut...not even to pass through it. But I said, "Well, Moira, fill out the form. There are many more excellent bloggers out there than you and you probably won't get picked anyway." So, I did...and yesterday found out I WAS CHOSEN!!!

That started me on a total in-depth viewing of the Women of Faith site, the info for the Fall conference, called Imagine, hotels in the area and the biggie, checking out Greyhound fares. That's the other thing I haven't done in my life yet...I am a little nervous (hey, anyone who's seen the movie Dogma would be a little nervous to get on a Greyhound, lol!) but also excited.

I will be receiving a small living stipend back from my college financial aid and it will not only go towards building our house but to helping me achieve a dream I've had since I was a teenager.

Check out the following video for an exciting sneak preview of what it will be like at one of the Fall Cities for the Women of Faith conference:
You can come join the fun as well just follow the link below!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The One-Day Way ~ A Blogging For Books Review

I can't say much more than WOW. Chantel Hobb's book was a mixture of inspiration, motivation, and how to. With stories I could relate to and practical advice, as well as DELICIOUS recipes I am hooked.
I’ve only had the book a couple of months now but I have lost, in those two months, FOUR SIZES!! I was wearing a size 24W and I simply felt awful about myself. I weighed close to 230 pounds; I couldn’t walk 100 feet from my front door to the car without getting winded or, on hot days, lightheaded.  I now weigh 180, which is what I went into my last pregnancy at back in early 2004. My husband and I took the canoe out on July 4th and paddled 24 miles. We’ve never been able to do that!
The weight came on gradually over 11 years and I thought I would take me at least three or four years to get it all off. The One-Day Way has shown me that I can do it much faster but that it will not happen overnight, either. What I’ve learned is that moderate weight loss is much better than rapid weight loss. Rapid weight loss is usually the result of a ‘crash diet,’ so called because you eliminate certain foods or ingest shakes or supplements and eventually, you WILL ‘crash and burn.’ Rapid diets are not healthy, they’re not sustainable, and they certainly aren’t long term changes.
Chantel tells us right on the back of the book that yesterday’s mistakes and choices are past! We cannot change them now nor do anything today to successfully change yesterday’s results. We have to live one day at a time and make choices each day, each moment, yet at the same time have a plan in place and remember what’s coming later.
I used to go to McDonald’s a couple times a week and tell myself that eating two double cheeseburgers was just fine and wasn’t hurting me because I wasn’t having fries and a soda with it. Now I think about healthier options. I usually get a four-piece McNuggets, a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a sweet tea. I am fuller and satisfied with my healthy choice, the food tastes better because I sit there with a good book or my laptop and eat it slowly instead of inhaling driving down the road toward home because I want the food gone before I get there, that way I don’t have to explain why I stopped at McDonald’s. Going out to eat is becoming a pleasure again. I am making healthy choices in my home cooking and I am becoming much more active.
All these changes are the result of what I’ve learned from The One-Day Way.

The Seraph Seal ~ A BookSneeze Review

Wow! What an exciting book. Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner really and I mean really  did a stunner of a job on The Seraph Seal. I really enjoyed the Left Behind series and while I was reading those I thought no book could ever come close to being as amazing as they were.  I received The Seraph Seal from BookSneeze in review for my unbiased opinion. I am very glad I chose this book to review!
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It managed to do in one book what Left Behind didn’t manage in a dozen. The Seraph Seal is superb. The characters are so real, so well developed and given terrific back story it seems like you are reading a biography or a historical account, not fiction.
The central themes throughout this engaging novel, which I read in one eleven hour block, is end time prophecy and the fulfillment of that prophecy, specifically the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. With a dizzying spate of worldwide travel seeking clues and information interwoven with a touching love story, political intrigue and flat out murder this suspenseful mystery kept me thoroughly engaged the entire time.
The four horsemen are symbols of prophecy and agents of God to fulfill His prophecies. They are tied symbolically to the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. One December night, thirty years before the ‘current events’ taking place, there were nine births. Eight babies were all born with a symbolic birthmark, one of the symbols of the elements to mark them as one of the horsemen. Paul Binder was the ninth baby born and just before his birth his mother received a very special gift, an antique key and a note telling her to name the baby Paul. Paul is to grow up and have a very special place in the end times.
If this review has intrigued you, get your hands on a copy because I can honestly say this is the best Christian fiction I have read in a very, very long time!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

☺☺PENNYWISE PLATTER☺☺ June 30th, 2011

Here it is, another delicious edition of The Penny Wise Platter from The Nourishing Gourmet

Today I'm going to share an inexpensive meal that is also FAST and delicious! Everything comes together quickly and bakes at the same time in the oven so it all comes out on the table at once and is no fuss! 

This is also the type of menu  my husband affectionately calls a "Hunter's Delight" because it uses up little bits of this and that that you 'hunt' through the cupboards and pantry for.

Jenn & Pat's Southern Meatloaf
I found this recipe this morning on Jenn's blog (don't you LOVE the name of her blog?) and made it right away. The Stove Top adds an herby goodness and moisture that can't be beat and the BBQ sauce adds sweet kicky yumness (oh look, I made a new word!) that I could not believe. 
2 lbs ground meat
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup Stove Top Stuffing
2 eggs 

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Put in your loaf pan and bake at 350* for one hour. Voila! Done and YUMMO!!

Now comes the two side dishes that make this dynamite and cook at the same time as the meatloaf:

Easy homemade cheesy scalloped potatoes
4-5 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/8-inch thick rounds
2 cups of whatever cheese you have on hand, shredded
2 cups milk (whatever you have in the fridge)
1 stick of butter OR 8 Tablespoons margarine (hey, I know not everyone has butter these days!)

Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish generously. Layer one-fourth of the potatoes, sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese over and pour 1/2 cup of milk over. Dot with 2 Tablespoons of margarine cut into small pieces. Repeat layers ending with cheese/milk/butter. Cover with foil and bake right alongside the meatloaf for an hour at 350*. 

Roasted carrots
1 large bag or two small bags ready-to-eat baby carrots (you can wash and peel if you have regular carrots at home, you'd want two carrots per person if you go that route)
Olive oil
Ground ginger
Ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Put the carrots in a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 square baking dish. Generously pour olive oil over. Sprinkle liberally with ginger and nutmeg, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake along with the potatoes and the meatloaf. 

Since ground beef is generally cheap in the 5# chubs here it is usual to have it on hand. I'd say you could buy it for around $2.49 per pound at most markets right now, even cheaper since it's 4th of July weekend. Those ready to eat carrots are ALWAYS on sale here for 2 bags for $3 so I stock up and use up. Potatoes, butter, olive oil, milk and cheese are staples as well and of course the price varies with what you use. I use store brands mostly so this whole meal cost me less than $4 and makes about 8 servings, so that's what, $.50 a serving??? I'd call that VERY penny wise!! 

Have a yummy day! 

The COOLEST giveaway ever ENDS TODAY!!

So, I'm reading through my email this morning and get the Own Your Beauty email from Blogher...did I mention I am rapidly becoming a Blogher addict?

SO, I am reading through the blurbs and clicking through to the 'read mores' when this awesome one from Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen comes up...a Mary Kay giveaway? How awesome is that?!? Ever since high school I've loved Mary Kay but I haven't usually had the money to splurge and feed my needs.

I've been ecstatic to find MK products at Salvation Army or Goodwill or yes, even yard sales...I would sign up to sell but I don't usually have the initial outlay laying around, and when I do I need it for bills or food or well, with three kids, you get the picture.

SO, Allie reviewed the Mineral Eye Color in Sienna, Silky Caramel, and MidnightMineral Cheek Color in Shy Blush, Ultimate Mascara in Black, and Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15 in Rose. She looked fabulous with them on and I must say I am oh, so jealous!

I immediately tweeted the opportunity and now I'm blogging it for all, oh, I think THREE of my followers...yeah, so I'm not big in the blog-o-sphere...yet, my pretties...yet! 

I have used MK's Satin Hands pumice scrub for years whenever I find a tube and the lotion is fabulous. Working and living on a farm tends to wear your hands down VERY fast...and this stuff is a dream...I have supermodel hands instead of farmwife hands it is awesome...

Hop on over to Wardrobe Oxygen TODAY and get in on the fun because the contest ENDS TODAY!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

♥†♥ Word Filled Wednesday ♥†♥ June 8, 2011 ♥†♥

This is today's lesson on Word Filled Wednesday from the awesome ladies at Internet Cafe Devotions, and it is one I really needed to hear repeated.

I am often certain I am exhibiting Godly character traits, including the "fruits of the spirit." But after reading today's wonderful devotion, I realized I am not exhibiting them as well as I thought I was.

For those who are unsure what the fruits of the spirit are, they are love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control.

What kinds of fruit is your 'tree' putting out? Let's spend the next week pointedly concentrating on what fruits we want to be able harvest and see sprouting from our trees!

Have a blessed week in the Lord

Lilies in Moonlight ♥†♥ A Blogging for Books Review

This was simply the best inspirational romance novel I have ever read.  I read quite a lot of books which cross many genres. However many of my favorites through the years have been inspirational romance, stories which show that love does not have to be torrid or unpleasing to God, that it can start and be centered on each partner’s relationship with God and putting Him first in their lives and in their relationship.
The characters in this story were so real to me.  Betty Ruth reminded me quite a lot of my own mother who sadly began suffering from age-related dementia about eight years ago. She passed away on April 2nd of this year and I miss her dearly. This book reminded me to treasure every moment with those you love, especially your elders, because you don’t know from one moment to the next if someone suffering from a neural impairment such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will remember you or when it is their time to be called home to the Lord. So, remember to treasure your loved ones and say I love you as much as you can.
Lily Margolis, the title character as it were, came from a very difficult upbringing and reminded extraordinarily of my childhood best friend who was raised in a similar home that seemed to lack any love or warmth. Her mom was very religious and treated Dana harshly at times, as well as blaming her for Dana’s father leaving since he didn’t want to be responsible for any children. Lily’s background is nearly identical to my friend Dana’s in that her father left her mother before she was born, a circumstance for which Lily’s mom solely blames Lily. She also resents Lily for the hard life she herself has led, being a single mother in a time when such circumstances were not accepted at all by society. As soon as Lily was able she fled her mother’s home trying to land her feet. She becomes a cosmetics saleswoman, similar to the well-known Avon Lady, and that is how she meets Betty Ruth. Betty Ruth is delighted with Lily and buys all of her products. Lily is a flapper during the “Roaring ‘20’s” period of our American history and the evening after selling her entire inventory to Mrs. Burnside, she accompanies a friend to a very high-class party. After imbibing a bit too much alcohol and wandering off, Lily passes out in the Burnside’s rear garden. She is found the next morning by the housekeeper who thinks she is dead…and calls on the dashing Cullen Burnside to help. To see what ensues you’ll have to read this terrific book for yourself!
This was one of those books that the reader finds themselves thoroughly engaged in and does not want the story to end. I  sincerely hope there are sequels to this novel because I didn’t like saying farewell, however fond, to Betty Ruth, Cullen, and Lily most of all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

†Wednesday Wifehood†

Here it is, Wednesday again. I apologize for the lack of entries but I lost my mom on April 2nd, then I've had finals at college and the pre-entry requirements into my Master's program...

So, here it is at last, a BRAND NEW
To join in the Wifehood fun hop over to Christian Frugal Mama and take part!

The latest post entry got me thinking about the Five Love Languages. Now, I was given a copy of the book some years ago and thought "eh, I don't need that." Well, a couple years ago I started wishing I had it. BUT now you can find the Love Language Assessment online which makes it very easy and very quick. Here is my result: 

 I was sort of surprised to find that I tied 3 different languages for #1 but that I didn't get not even ONE tick in "receiving gifts." I mean, I KNOW I'm not a material girl but come on, the fact that I didn't rate one choice preferring a gift to something else? Well, to be honest, it kinda made me feel good, lmbo!

I can't wait to show this to my dh and make sure he knows that I may be pleased when he brings me something but that it is NOT my ultimate 'happy maker.'

I have a feeling this will get us out and about on hikes and canoe trips more this summer as well as some more date nights in with movies!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Love at Last Sight - A Book Review AND Giveaway!

Kerry and Chris Shook have done it again. Love at Last Sight is exactly the book I needed to save my marriage, and it did what I needed it to do. Filled with amazing insight and motivation Love at Last Sight helped me focus on things I had forgotten about as well as things I had never thought about in relation to my marriage. The fact that it is a 30 day journey, not something you have to tackle all at once made it a lot easier to get into and after a couple days I really looked forward to the day's reading and the journaling I did afterward. I was on the brink of leaving because of what I perceived as a lack of love but was actually a combination of exhaustion and a lack of communication on my husband's part that led to emotional wounds and a withdrawing physically, mentally and emotionally on my part. We have the marriage we had both dreamed of and now I am recommending this book to everyone I know who thinks they are about to bail on a marriage because "the love is not there anymore."

I received this book a little more than a month ago and went through it daily. Some days it was very hard
not to read ahead but I wanted to get the full effect of completing the reading, journaling my feelings and praying over the insight I had gotten. Sometimes that meant going back and journaling some more at the end but I was ecstatic with the results and I cannot wait to pass this book on to someone who could really use it!

Now, for the giveaway fun! You receive one entry for commenting. That's all I ask. BUT you can receive more entries for:
  • Following! Follow my blog and I will give you TWO BONUS ENTRIES. 
  • Tweet about the giveaway! Tweet and put #moira_mcgarry in your tweet so I'll know. 1 entry.
  • Facebook it! Post it on your wall then come back here and comment with your FB link. 1 entry. 
  • Get your friends to come check it out! If they come, tell them to put you in their comment. You'll EACH get a bonus entry! 
Good luck and have fun! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday 4.5.2011

Today is also Top Ten Tuesday. This is my first time taking part in this meme and I seriously ♥♥♥ it! 
Click the graphic to join in all the fun!

Also, serious thanks to Amanda for not only the meme but for my Top Ten List idea today, my top ten chocolates to 'reward'  myself with! If you get a serious craving, its not only my fault...☺☺☺

  1. Godiva's " Raspberry Ganache Twirl." This chocolate is SO decadently dark and filled with real raspberry puree, not a faux thickened raspberry flavored syrup. It is NOT a sweet filling but the natural mild sweetness of the  berries foils the dark sweetness of the silky chocolate perfectly. 
  2. Another Godiva, this time "Dark Caramel Embrace." I am not a really big caramel person except on my frappucinos but it pairs lusciously in this one. Enough to make me want to eat a pound at once. 
  3. For something completely different, may I recommend Dagoba's "Lavender Blueberry 52% dark" chocolate squares? I was sampling these out one day at the local Shaw's as part of my job and wow, I am seriously hooked on these little squares of relaxation and happiness...hehe! 
  4. To really knock your socks off is another Dagoba...a stunning combo of "74% dark chocolate, chili pepper and cacao nibs." Sinfully smooth, surprising little kick and really energizing. These are very fun if you like to walk a little on the wild side.
  5. True decadence comes in the form of "John and Kira's chocolate figs." These are whole Spanish chocolate figs filled with a whiskey ganache and dipped in dark chocolate. A little naughty but nice to share with a loved on. Only $22 for six at
  6. A little more accessible and inexpensive, I LOVE Black and Green Organic chocolates. I can't really pick one flavor for a fave, I love ALL of theirs...but you can't go wrong with dark chocolate mint or dark chocolate raspberry choices. 
  7. Available at every grocer pretty much are Lindt's truffles and bars. My favorite truffles are the chocolate peanut butter and white chocolate lemon. In bars I love the 70% dark with a touch of sea salt. 
  8. It's getting close to Easter and that means my seasonal indulgence, Cadbury Creme Eggs, are back! Thank goodness you can't get these year round or else I don't know what I would do...have to buy stock in the company, probably, to keep from going bankrupt...
  9. An everyday choice that I will grab at the Irving or the Rite Aid when I am there are my Reese's dark chocolate peanut butter cups.  I was SO happy when they made those! 
  10. Lastly, my childhood favorite that always takes me back are Almond Joys. Me and my dad used to share them when would go out and run errands with him. They remind me of simple summer days being daddy's girl and not thinking about grown up stuff. 
Here's hoping you all have 10 terrific things to share! Join in the fun! 

It's time for Gratituesday again, ladies! Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

I have so much to be grateful for, especially after some news received today. My husband works for Walpole Woodworking here in Maine and he simply LOVES his job. I love that he is supporting the family in a way that allows him to use years of skills and talent he has built in the woodworking, home decor and furniture making trades. It is SO nice to have a hubby that comes home from work praising what went on and uplifting his co-workers instead of one like so many I know firsthand that come  home from work and want their wives and kids to leave them alone; kick back in a chair in front of a TV with and beer and act like their families are burdens instead of blessings at the end of the day. 

Minus the beer part, his last job at a flooring mill in a neighboring town was like that. He was SO wiped out at the end of each day that he just wanted to come home, shovel dinner down and go kick back in bed with a good book. Too much noise and interaction were upsetting to him because he was pushing a broom  instead of using his considerable skills.

Another thing I am grateful for today is my daughter's continued recovery from heart surgery on the 17th. Due to vehicle conflicts and people not following through I had to miss her follow-up appointments with her surgeon and cardiologist; however both called and told me she looks great, is doing fabulous at this point in her recovery and probably will be able to return to school next week. She is VERY excited about that according to Dr. Hourihan.

Finally I am grateful for my love of cooking. Today is rainy, chilly and kind of blah SO I am going to whip up a biscuit and gravy casserole for dinner tonight. Basically you cook and crumble a half pound of your favorite breakfast sausage until it is cooked. Set it aside and whip up a batch of biscuits using your favorite recipe, mix, or even canned refrigerator biscuits. Bake til they're done and while they're baking cook up some home fries until golden brown and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Dump the home fries in a casserole dish, top with the split baked biscuits, and set in a low (200* F) oven to keep warm. Return the sausage pan to the heat, add 2 cups of milk, 1 tsp of black pepper and salt (to taste). Bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly. Once it has boiled add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch  mixed with two tablespoons of COLD water to make a paste. Keep stirring until the gravy has thickened to the consistency YOU prefer...we like ours a little thicker than most. Pour it over the warm biscuits/taters and serve. MMMmmmmm....can't wait to get cooking!

Thanks for joining me on Gratituesday! What are YOU grateful for?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tonight's $5 Dinner Delight

Today's meme is part of the blog-ring for $5 Dinners and since we have some weird combo weather, a mix of snow and sleet and regular rain, I am cooking up something warm, yummy, and budget friendly tonight!

$5 Tamale Pie
  • 1 London Broil or flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds. Looking for 'dollars off' coupons or price slashes on the meat is the tip for getting this meal in under budget; I got a lovely 2 pound LB at my local IGA this morning for $2.00! 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes ($.69) drained
  • 1 package corn bread mix (I use Jiffy which usually costs $.29 to $.49 a box
  • 1 can creamed corn ($.59 - $.69)
    • The rest of these ingredients are staple items that are usually found in every house and don't count toward the cost:
      • 4 cups water
      • 3 Tablespoons red or green taco sauce/salsa verde
      • 1 clove minced garlic (about a teaspoon if pre-chopped)
      • 1/8 tsp salt
      • 2 teaspoons lime juice
      • 1 small onion, sliced
      • 1 Tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) 
      • 1 teaspoon EACH cumin, garlic salt, and chili powder
      • 1/4 cup milk (for cornbread mix)
      • 1 egg (for cornbread mix)
Chop the steak into bite-sized cubes. While you're doing that bring the 4 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the steak, the taco sauce, garlic, salt and lime juice. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until meat is tender.  Drain the meat.
Heat the 1 Tbsp oil over med heat just until it shimmers. Add the sliced onion and saute for about 4 minutes, just til it softens and turns fragrant.  Remove from the heat and combine in the larger pot with the meat. Dump in the can of tomatoes, the cumin, garlic salt and chili powder and stir to combine. Pour the meat mixture into  a lightly greased 8"x8" square casserole dish or a 9" pie pan. Preheat the oven to the temp specified by your cornbread mix (for my Jiffy this is 350*). Combine the cornbread mix, the creamed corn, the milk and egg and stir to make a batter. Spoon this gently over the meat and spread carefully to the edges of the pan. Bake at the specified temp and for the time (mine takes 20 minutes). Test for doneness with a toothpick, skewer or cake tester. The pick should come out of the cornbread clean with maybe a couple clinging crumbs.
Let cool for 10 minutes and slice into wedges (pie pan) or squares (casserole) and dish up.
Inexpensive side dish: a package of Knorr or Lipton Spanish Rice/Taco rice ($.79 to $.99).
Condiments: sour cream & more taco sauce, shredded cheese (Mexican four cheese blend, straight cheddar)

The breakdown:
     Tomatoes...........  $.69
     Cornbread mix.....$.49
     Creamed corn......$.59
     Lipton Taco Rice.$.99

Happy eating!! Share YOUR $5 dinner winners!!

An Amish Christmas-December in Lancaster County BookSneeze Review

Well, I am finally getting some spark of order back in my life; after months of being under a cloud of depression and in a haze doctors have helped me find the road of light again. I am pleased to be able to finally review a simply stunning book I received from BookSneeze back in December called An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County. This book is actually four titles under one cover with beautiful artwork:

The first story in the collection is A Miracle for Miriam by one of my favorite authors, Kathleen Fuller. As a child, Miriam had a pretty intense case of puppy love for Seth. A cruel joke on the playground shatters her confidence but not her feelings. Years later Seth is in a terrible accident and returns to the simple life in the Amish community after withdrawing into himself for a while. He finally notices that plain little Miriam has grown up into a strong, lovely, helpful and hardworking Amish woman...can he repair the hurt feelings from long ago and start a new life with her? This was a terrific story and one of my two favorites from the book. 

A Choice to Forgive by Beth Wiseman is the story of Lydia who's husband of 15 years dies suddenly. To add to her sadness and confusion during a very troubling time her first love, Daniel, has returned to their Amish community after disappearing on Christmas Eve nearly 16 years before. As an added twist, Daniel is also the brother of Lydia's deceased husband. Can Lydia pick up the pieces and go on with her life, even with her lost love as her neighbor?

In Barbara Cameron's terrific tale One Child a Christmas Eve birth will spell remarkable changes for two very different Lancaster County couples...what's the mystery? Why the changes? You HAVE to read this story to find out. It had me riveted and is my second favorite from this fabulous collection. 

Lastly, in Kelly Long's Christmas Cradles spirited and sprightly Anna Stolis takes over for her aunt in the role of midwife on Christmas night. Throughout the night more than one baby is born, several gorgeous Amish quilts take the stage and, surprise of surprises, the taciturn Asa Lapp, a man with a story of his own, helps her out. Will Christmas give these two plain folk a present they didn't bargain for?

In all I give this fabulous collection 5 stars. It is very readable and brought me endless joy during an already joyous season. A definite must read and one you'll want to keep in your Christmas collection to re-read each year during the Christmas season.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday is here once again!!
I really LOVE this meme because I get to share some amazing pics, which is something I don't do enough. 

To join in the fun, click the redhead: 

And my pic for this week: 
These are  my 3 extremely excited kids, A6 and J8 being VERY goofy for some reason and B11 NOT wanting to show off her smile...I haven't a clue why not. 
This pic is a little old, it was taken last August on our way to the county fair. This was our first outing to that particular fair and ALL three kids won prizes that day in different events. 
I love that my kids can have fun together and take pleasure in simple country pursuits. 

That's Wordless Wednesday for this week!

Word Filled Wednesday

Wifey Wednesday #2

Here's my second week of Wifey Wednesday. This week Sheila shared a wonderful topic that many, many Christian woman do not want to talk about. It is a hard topic for some women, myself included, and it is one that she has some awesome advice about. 

This week she encourages us to be open about our pre-marital past and how to focus on 'making love' with our husband not 'having sex' with our spouse. 

She shares a great passage here: 
One thing I've found is that less than half of Christian women are virgins on their wedding night. And more than 1/3 of the women who weren't virgins expressed major regret over that. It's really impacting their relationships now. 

I will admit that I am a part of that 1/3. She shares an email from a woman who is in a situation similar to mine, except that I have been divorced and remarried and am still dealing with this issue.

My marriage is wonderful but I will admit that we do have 'marital issues' as far as the 'act of marriage' to put it in a Christian context. 

I LOVE some of Sheila's suggestions for creating an environment of intimacy within marriage: 
Try to make sex into something that is new and beautiful. Take baths together and just touch each other. Lie naked together and talk and explore, just with your fingers. Cuddle naked and talk--about memories, about dreams. You can even read a psalm together! Make nakedness and intimacy something that is beautiful, rather than dirty.

Try to spend some time, in bed, just kissing, rather than "getting to the main event". You take the initiative rather than him, and focus on trying to kiss him to show him that you love him, rather than just to get him aroused (you'll likely find this gets you far more in the mood, too). Practice touching him to say, "I love you".

And tell him what you're doing. Pray about it. Go before God and tell God that you're sorry for what you did before your marriage, but you want a new start. And ask God to help you get that new start.

Then walk in it. Think everyday, how can I tell him "I love him" in a new way? Challenge yourself like this. Do it inside the bedroom and outside the bedroom. As you start focusing on your connection, you'll find that sex life takes on a new turn. It's not just about that physical rush; it's about cementing a bond. Don't focus so much on "I have to have sex with my husband" as much as you're focusing on, "I have to find new ways to feel love for him and show him love!"

Well, that's Wifey Wednesday for this week!! 


Sunday, February 20, 2011

☺♥☺Share Your Recipe Sunday☺♥☺

Well, it's a lovely Sunday evening here in Maine. A balmy 14° at almost 6:00 pm.This Sunday I am joining a new meme called Share Your Recipe Sunday hosted by Sandy from Organize With Sandy.

Tonight I've decided to share my Uber-easy Vegetarian Chili and for the first time ever anywhere I am going to share my Blue Ribbon Cornbread recipe. I am SO glad to have this meme because I love to share recipes but it always seems kind of boastful to me to share them without a prompt! Laugh  
So here come's the yumminess!
Uber-easy Vegetarian Chili
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon oil (whatever you have on hand, even butter/margarine is fine)
1-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained (I use petite diced)
1-15 ounce can of whole kernel sweet corn (can be a smaller can if you like)
1-15 ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can of water (use a  bean can)
1 packet of taco seasoning mix OR 
1 Tablespoon chili powder mixed with 1 teaspoon each garlic powder & cumin
1/4 cup ketchup OR chili sauce (chili sauce will make it a little spicy)
Salt to taste

Saute onion in the oil until softened and translucent. Add all canned veggies, stir well to combine. Add seasoning and ketchup/sauce and stir again. Reduce heat to  low and simmer 20-25 minutes to heat through. 
**You can make this a regular chili by omitting one or both cans of beans and adding 1 pound ground beef which you would brown after sauteing the onion and before adding the veggies/seasonings.

Blue Ribbon Cornbread
This cornbread has won me several blue ribbons on both coasts at the LA County Fair and Orange County Fair in California and at the Skowhegan State Fair, Athens Valley Fair and Blue Hill Fair here in Maine. 
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-15 ounce can of creamed corn
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine the first five ingredients. Add corn, milk, egg and butter; stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into a greased 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near center of bread comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 9 squares.
Those are all for tonight! Hope you have a great week and happy eating!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A funny for the road!

Judson Laipply's "Evolution of Dance" has been a favorite video of mine for a while now. This guy is hilarious and there's some GREAT songs here. No worries about language or anything, just pure enjoyment!

My 1st 'Wifey Wednesday'

Well, I have fallen out of the habit of writing while the satellite internet was down for a couple of months. Blessing have abounded lately on my homefront and the Wildblue is back! Today I decided to find some more memes to join and to prompt me to write. I have found a few I want to take part in, this particular one being high on my list! Click on the pic above to go over to To Love Honor and Vacuum and join in the fun!

The big lesson that I got from today's entry was this:

With most things that bother us, the solution is not to convince him to change; it's to change the dynamic in our house ourselves, and he will likely follow along.
Wonderful words of wisdom that I am going to take to heart! My hubby has spiraled into a deep depression lately what with being laid off and only doing temp jobs until he gets called back permanently. It is rough but he is working at least four days a week which leaves us two to work on the house we're building and one for rest. God has been meeting all our needs and strengthening our marriage in ways that I first thought of as hardships and pain but they are simply God's refining fire purifying us and strengthening us as a couple. We are able to communicate in ways I didn't think possible; we've found out that we speak different love languages, mine being physical touch and his being acts of service. SO when he cleans the counter off or sweeps the floor he is saying "I love you" loud and clear. The problem was I didn't get it,  I thought he was hiding in the kitchen to stay away from me. Often when I tried to hug him, or give him a neck rub, he would get flustered and I thought that meant he didn't want me to touch him, or that I was interrupting him...he has learned now that he needs to reach out to me with a hug or a cuddle now and again, and let's just say that I've learned very well over the past few weeks how to do some nice construction and furniture building!
Oh wow, I can tell I'm going to have a BLAST with this meme! I have something to look forward to on Wednesday again!! 

Word Filled Wednesday

This is my first entry in a new meme I'm joining in called "Word Filled Wednesday." These Wednesday entries are not going to be about me and in fact this is going to be the only where I will add an explanation. 
Click on the button to join in the fun:
This verse has been on my heart lately because of the wonderful turns my life has taken. Maybe I'll share those things in the Wifey Wednesday post...look for it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Homesteading Story

Our farm is owner financed for 15 years, originally @ 12%. Let me tell you all about one reason I will from now on deal directly with the seller:
We started our land search back in 2008 when things became truly untenable at our old place; it was a jointly owned property between my dad, who lived in California, and I. I've lived here full-time in Maine since September 1999. The longest I've been out of state was the week long trip we took to Niagara Falls & Toronto in 2007. I have a sister who has a drug problem and wants to stay living the way she is, and my dad's trailer that he and mom spent the summers in was also on the property where we were living. We had just cleared about a half acre over there, invested in a small tractor, got the house finally sided after it being a quarter done for 8 years...numerous things my dad was always gonna get to for me in the summer but got ticked off about something else and never got around to...So, he decided to let my sister and her boyfriend, with a record of drug prosecutions longer than I am tall, live in that trailer year day while we were gone they got someone to drive them to the equipment rental and dug a trench across the driveway, jacked a line into our phone box, our cable line and our power, buried it, and then had a nice neighbor with an excavating business gravel the driveway to hide the trench...yeah, real enterprising when they figured they would get 'freebies' for as long as they were there. Well...our phone bill, thank goodness, was one of those unlimited plans, so it went undetected for a LONG time...same thing with the cable, I had a good speed package and didn't notice a drop in speed...considering I had been on dial-up even the dropped speed seemed blinding fast to me, lol!
When our power bill went from $80 a month, to $170, then up, and up, and up from there until one month it was over $400...that was when the 'theft of services' was discovered. 
My dad always used a generator when he was up, him and mom didn't use much power and they had a propane water heater and stove, like we did. Well, my sister sold that water heater to someone, along with dad's little 3-phase RV fridge that he ran on propane usually and on 110 when he had the generator running. SO the story came to light when I called and said, 'Look, you guys are grossly misreading this, every other month I've given you all the benefit of the doubt, maybe my husband's running the AC when I'm gone or some such, BUT now it's coming on fall and there's no AC running, etc and we have propane water heater, dryer, and stove. SO I would like you to come out and help me figure out what's going on, please.' 
They sent a crew and one of the guys used a voltmeter...and they went into the basement with my hubby and that was when the BRIGHT ORANGE 110 line was discovered...running from a hole drilled into the basement wall UNDER our porch...and my husband said, 'Well, that's us, anyway...I wonder what it powers?' So they came back upstairs and one switch at a time in the breaker box they threw each switch...first the kitchen went, then the office, then the bathroom, living room, kids room, shop outside, and then there was one breaker left. A double, unmarked. As soon as the CMP man flipped that switch, we heard shouting from across the driveway. Now, here is where the real enterprising side of these thieves shows up: they had scrounged an old meter off an apartment building and mounted it on a pole at the road, 'like CMP told us to do, and the power line is underground.' Yep, the same day they trenched the driveway to jack into our utilities, they trenched their back lawn so it looked like CMP had been there. Yes, I am naive and trusting at times...this time though CMP cancelled the bill, and I had them take the service line down. We used our land savings down payment to get a generator set-up going and we've been off grid for over a year, going on two years, now actually. 
We started looking for a place that we could truly call 'our own' immediately after that. My sister and her boyfriend both had outstanding warrants and in spite of what they did, and the fact that over 20 marijuana plants were found growing inside the trailer, my dad said they could come back to the trailer. When the state's child protective services office was called and I was in danger of losing my kids because of those people, my husband and I really went land looking in earnest and found the place we know call 'paradise.' Our own little farm in the woods, if you will. We got a terrific deal by going owner-financed. 
Sadly for the landowner, the woman we bought the place from developed chronic heart failure and died within months of us signing the contract. Her son, a lawyer, is a flat out crook. We have been paying since August of 2009 on our land, to the realtor as the contract specified and then to her son after her death as we were notified to do. The landowner, a well-past retirement gentleman, winters in Florida but lives just miles from us. It was brought to our attention in October that this poor man had not received one cent of the money we had paid in. He initially contacted us requesting contact info for the real estate agency as no one would return his calls...when we told him about Virginia's passing he said he knew and had been told her son would be taking over things, just as we were. My husband and I traveled to the real estate office and found that someone else had bought the business just prior to Virginia's passing and the son had elected to retain the contracts on the  land and homes she had sold before her death. He had been collecting payments and NOT passing them on. Virginia had probably gotten caught up in her health and had brought her son on board well before her passing to take over things and he decided to embezzle instead...well, nobody can find this man at all...his law practice is gone, his home has been cleaned out and stands empty...craziness. 

So, if you are going to be purchasing land for sale by owner, or through an agency with owner financing, make sure all contracts have some sort of clause in case of any wrongdoing on the part of the agency or their agent. 

Our landowner has elected to forgive the payments we've made to the realtor, and just started collecting from November directly from us. We were very fortunate as there were many other avenues he could have pursued, including retaining an attorney and a long court battle with us in the middle...