Saturday, December 28, 2013

Halfway Day

♪Halfway Day, It's Halfway Day♫

And just what is halfway day, you ask? It's December 28th, three days past Christmas and three days until New Year's Eve. For me it is the day I finally get all the Christmas decorations put away, and start reflecting on the past year. I make my Priority One lists, which basically are things that need done around the house and homestead, activities I take part in, and character traits that I need to improve or remove over the year. I choose books that will help me be the woman God made me to be, that will uplift and inspire me to be and do more. I add those to my list to read over the coming year. 

I have done this ever since I was 16 and someone very dear to me told me he had done it for most of his life, since returning home from Vietnam and escorting his only brother's body back. He started by picking one thing he knew his brother wanted to do that he wouldn't get to, one thing about himself he could change for the positive, and one way to give back to the community in his brother's name. His Halfway Day evolved over the years and everyone's of course is going to be a little different. My husband picks two big projects around the homestead, one major outdoor trip and four smaller ones (he says this year, wait...THIS YEAR...we're going to finally do the Allagash!), and ways he wants to give back and reach out. My kids put things on their lists like books they want to read after seeing the movie, or a craft or hobby they want to start or improve on, and one volunteer project or act of giving they want to help with. 

 So, with that said, and at almost lunchtime, I still have some ornaments and lights to box up and lists to finish. 

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Feminine Revolution!

So a few months ago I was generously blessed to be chosen to test and review something I have wanted for a very long time, the Diva Cup. A feminine hygiene product, the Diva Cup will make you think completely different about "that time of the month." I have now been using mine for four months and couldn't be happier to have become a Diva Cup user!





Diva Cup is a silicone cup which is extremely durable and very flexible. It comes with full instructions but is so easy to use that after one or two tries you'll feel like a pro.  Yes, you insert into your lady bits, similar to a tampon, however, there is NO risk of contracting toxic shock syndrome with the Diva Cup because it of the durable silicone it is made from. Cotton or synthetic fiber tampons are a good breeding ground for bacteria, and as we ladies know the longer you leave them in, or the higher the absorbancy level you use, your risk of TSS increases. Not an issue with the Diva Cup. There is no applicator, you do use your hands so if you're squeamish be aware of that detail before hand. However, a plus of this is getting to know your own body and know what's going on with your feminine health. You can wear the cup for up to 12 hours without needing to empty it, whereas with tampons you are urged to change them after 4 hours, it is 'safe' to wear them overnight...but I've never taken that risk because of the TSS...in fact, I've NEVER felt comfortable or safe wearing tampons for more than two hours, let alone four...and couldn't sleep if I tried to wear one overnight...believe, I've tried...once...on a camping trip when I had no supplies of my own and my friends all wore tampons...yeah, long night, little sleep until I decided to make an improptu pad out of TP and a paper towel. Definitely NOT a fun situation to be caught in!

The Diva Cup comes in two models, one for women under 30 and those who have not had children, and women 30 and older and/or have had kids. I fall into both over 30 and having had kids, so I was sent Model 2, which is shown on the right in the following image:
They also make a cleanser called Diva Wash. It is formulated to clean, deodorize, sanitize, and also increase the lifespan of your Diva Cup. You can also use a simple liquid soap, but it needs to be free of lotions, dyes, and fragrances. Basically Dial liquid, although I use JR Watkins on mine because it's what I keep in the house anyway and it fits the specifications, as well.

As you can see, your Diva Cup comes safely boxed and you also receive a cute storage case. I also LOVE the "Diva" pin it comes with and display it with pride. Diva Cup has restored my sanity, confidence, and comfort during that one week of the month I used to dread. I no longer worry about if I have pads in the house, if I need them, if I'm going to be able to afford them if they're not on sale, if the closest store will even have them or if I'm going to have to drive 30 miles to the nearest Walmart, and so on and so on...Not any longer.

I use a really nifty little app called Period Tracker, which is available in both the iTunes Store and Google Play Store for iOS and Android platforms. There is a free version which works beautifully and a paid upgrade deluxe edition which gives you access to more moods in the journal log. Since I started using PTracker four years ago I have only been 'surprised' by an early visit from Aunt Flo twice. Yes, twice, total, in four years. The app lets you input your cycle and track how long each period lasts, what moods and symptoms you experience not only during your period week but leading up to it and afterwards as well. After you've got three months of established data in your profile it will predict when your next period is due. It only took four months of using the app for me to see what a great tool it is, and to be alert to when my period was due. Now I put my Diva Cup the night before I'm due to start, and have no surprises. It doesn't cause any harm and has saved some embarrassment and a few pairs of panties, as well.

Diva Cup retails for around $20. Visit their website at www.divacup.com to find a retailer location near you, or to buy online. Becoming a Diva was the best decision I ever made and I have no regrets! I can't say enough great things about this product and won't be without one again!

*In exchange for posting this review on my blog, I received a Diva Cup free from the manufacturer. I was NOT paid for this review. The opinion shared above is completely unbiased and not swayed in exchange for the product I received.*


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lord, it's good to be back home again

Here on the blog, I'm talkin' about! I've been away since July for a lot of different reasons. I didn't intend to take a long hiatus...I didn't plan to take any hiatus, actually, but one thing led to another and posting slipped down to the bottom of my priority list, sadly.

Gladly, things have turned completely around and I am able to focus on home, church, and definitely on blogging again.

So, there's a quick update, just to say hello and I'm back, and of course, WELCOME BACK TO MY BLOG! With all that said, November is leading us headlong into my favorite time of year, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season...so there are going to be lots of posts with recipes, crafts, book reviews, movie recommendations and reviews, and occasional random postings that pop into my head, of course.

Here's one of my favorite John Denver songs to kick off the morning while I polish up my upcoming post, live here in an hour or so, so stay tuned!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Nothing says Summer like...

Summer is in full swing again and I was able to actually pick some of my early cherry tomatoes this morning. I grew an heirloom tomato mixture this year, which gives a beautiful mix of flavors, colors, and sizes.  You can buy heirloom cherry tomatoes pre-packaged now in most grocery stores very inexpensively and at this time of year there's a plethora of delicious veggies and fruits in season.

This is hearty enough to serve as a main course, yet sliced smaller it makes a simple, elegant and delicious appetizer as well.

Tarte Rustica con Tomates es Fromage
  • 7 sheets phyllo dough (14 inches x 9 inches)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded gruyere cheese
  • 2 pints heirloom cherry or 4 pints grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon goat cheese. (Keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.) Repeat layers, brushing oil all the way to edges.
  • Sprinkle onion over top to within 1 in. of edges; sprinkle with fontina cheese. Arrange tomato slices in a slightly overlapping pattern over fontina cheese. Sprinkle with chives, basil, salt and pepper. Bring up edges of tart over filling.
  • Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Yield: 12 servings.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who wants FREE Eyeglasses?

I received my eyeglasses free in exchange for this review post. The opinions shared are 100% my own and did NOT have to be positive. 

video

Okay everyone so here's the links I mentioned in the video:
WHY choose Firmoo, you ask? Besides the reasons I mentioned in my video, here's a few others:

1) Firmoo's Interactive Digital Try On Tool. Upload a face shot and see what your new glasses will look like on YOU, not on a random generic model!
2) First Pair Free Program: HELLOOOOO What about the word FREE didn't grab you already?
3) Cute, cute, CUTE frames and styles! Adorable, trendy, funky, fun, flirty, ultra stylish...if you want a type, these guys have them!
4) Great support!! Any questions you have, they get back to you super fast! Most questions can be answered by visiting this link
5) Bonus gifts! I talked about these in the video but here are some pics of what you will receive from Firmoo in addition to your glasses: 
 Now here are some pics of me wearing my new Firmoo's glasses,
 Follow this link here to get the exact style I chose and have showcased in this entry. They are style SD 2303 in the Black/Blue option. They also have Black/Clear and Black/Burgundy in this style.  
  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Arms of Love -- A BookSneeze Reviews

Arms of Love is a tender, touching, soulful novel in my favorite genre: Amish Fiction. I love the thought of Amish love and indeed some days wish I were Amish (okay, every day I wish I were Amish). Until the day I save enough to chuck it all, buy a farm in Bird in Hand or somewhere in Pennsylvania, I will content myself with reading terrific Amish fiction.

Arms of Love was new and familiar to me in many ways. I liked reading about a time period in American Amish life I had not read of before, the late 18th century. Set in 1777, the American Revolution is raging and American Separtists and British soldiers are both troubling Amish people to join their ranks and declare themselves. Their lives were fraught with peril because many refused to fight, to house soldiers OR 'Englischers' meaning anyone not Amish. Young Amishmen were leaving home and taking up arms to fight for freedom although it was staunchly against their religion to do so. Amid this troublesome time Lena Yoder and Adam Wyse are a young couple deeply in love. However Adam is torn between the fighting and between his religious beliefs and the Amish community. Does Adam ignore his personal beliefs and stay in the Amish community with Lena, the only woman he's ever loved? Does he turn his back on home, family, and love and go fight? What does Lena do?  Those are answers that can only be found out by reading Arms of Love which I highly recommend you do!

**I received a digital copy of this title in order to provide this review. My review is my own personal opinion and reflects no one else's input or thoughts. My review had to be at least 100 words and did NOT have to be positive.**

Do you LOVE reading? Are you a fellow blogger? Join BookSneeze and you too can get free books to review! Follow the banner in my sidebar for great reads!

~~Cleaning House~~ A Blogging For Books Review

This was the BEST book I have read in a very, very long time!! I love non-fiction and parenting books and this book was written with insight, humor, and you can feel Kay's sheer joy come through her words.

Cleaning House is the story of Kay Wills Wyma's year long experiment to change the status quo in her household. Her kids were not always tidy yet felt entitled to certain things and a way of life. Kay became frustrated and decided that the family needed a real shake up to make things happen. She chose twelve things for the family to work on and assigned one area each month for a year.

My favorite part of the book was how she engaged the children in helping with meal duties. They took turns making a decision on each meal, one kid did the shopping (with mom's help, of course) cooked as much of it as they could alone but mom was there to supervise and served dinner then cleaned up afterwards. Her oldest son was early disillusioned when he decided to buy take out for the family on his nights to cook and found that everyone was not as appreciative of his effort as he thought they should be. His final weekly turn came around and mom put her foot down and told him he needed to go the whole distance and plan a meal, shop, prep, cook and clean up. Everyone was more appreciative of his home made effort and he felt he had made a major accomplishment.

Cleaning House is a terrific book for moms who are tired of being Supermom with a household who expects everything done for them instead of helping to do things around the house.

**I received a copy of Cleaning House through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program in consideration for my review. The above account is my personal opinion of the title and does not reflect any one else's opinion either the author nor publisher. The review did NOT have to be positive.**

Thursday, February 28, 2013

♥♥ Thursday Thankfulness♥♥ †2.28.13†

I have thought about starting my own "meme" for quite a while now and this morning, my Inspired email from Waterbrook Multnomah came and I wanted to share it with everyone. Then the Thursday Thankfulness idea came back to life. So what if I can't afford a Mr. Linky right now? Hopefully other Christian bloggers, Mom bloggers, and definitely Christian Mom Bloggers will want to take part! This meme is the place to grab some inspiration and then go to your own blog and post a verse from your quiet time reading your Bible, reading your devotional, one that came via email maybe such as my Inspired uplift or my KLOVE Encouraging Word does. Maybe a verse that God has put on your heart as meaningful, that is pulling you through something, giving encouragement, solace, peace, comfort, and reassurance. Share it! We could all use a daily Faith Lift and this is my way of sharing and caring.


There's the daily dose of inspiration. NOW for the Thankfulness part of the post: Choose THREE things, large or small, that you are thankful for in your life to share.
  1. God showing me each morning that my life is great in little ways: a kitty waking me up to cuddle, my dog needing to be walked, friends and family to connect with. 
  2. Kaplan University! This is a new one for me. Kaplan has a similar-yet-different approach to online education. Yes, there are still discussion posts but they are more engaging. There is also a live seminar component one day a week in each class that helps me firm up my schedule and keep in my routines. 
  3. My career with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!
Do you want to share some inspiration and thankfulness? COMMENT! Share your link to your blog in your comment. Within a week I should be able to get a Mr. Linky up and running to make this easier but for now if you comment and leave a link we'll visit you, I promise!

God Bless & Happy Thursday Everyone!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

†Saving Grace† *A Review for ~~Blogging♥For♥Books~~

Somehow I managed to NEVER get this wonderful book reviewed and for that I can only apologize to Waterbrook Multnomah's amazing Blogging For Books crew and the remarkably talented Annie Jones, one of my all time favorite authors.

I received this book quite some time ago to review and fell in love practically from page one. The ladies from Prayer Tree, a previous Jones title, are back and as engaging as ever. Most every woman can find a character to relate to in these two titles, either in Rosemary, Naomi, Gayle, or Lucy who were introduced in Prayer Tree or perhaps in the elderly character of Grace Grayson who relives a tragic disappointment every year on the night of New Bethany's Splendor Belle Gala. 

This year, on the night of the gala, Mrs. Grayson is seen once again in her ball gown of fifty years earlier but this may well be the last year she puts it on.  The prayer circle ladies, who've grown a bit apart since the last time we joined them, have decided to take Grace on as a project of sorts hopefully to strengthen their bonds again and make Miss Grace less lonely, too.  Each woman undergoes different trials and troubles through the story but each one brings the woman closer to her family, her friends, and ultimately to God. 

As I've said previously, Annie Jones is one of my favorite authors and Saving Grace definitely did not disappoint. Even though it is a sort of sequel you do not have to have read Prayer Tree to understand Saving Grace and enjoy it as well. 

I received a copy of this title in exchange for my review through the Waterbrook Multnomah "Blogging for Books" program. The review did not have to be positive and is my own opinion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

MUST SEE for ALL country fans and/or Lady GaGa fans

Yeah, I, um...well, I never and I do mean NEVER post stuff like this...because most people who know I was raised country and will live and die country would be appalled to know I also like Lady GaGa...okay, there, my big deep dark secret is out...and yeah, I sing along with Hannah Montana songs AND Jonas Brothers Year 3000 still, too...

But, I was cruising YouTube looking for some new karaoke videos...and I totally found something I NEVER expected...one of my fave country groups covering Lady GaGa...and covering my fave GaGa song, at that! I *love* born this way. I was bullied horribly as a kid for being a little overweight, having reddish hair, and loving country music and wearing boots and jeans in Orange County...California, of course. Probably folks from Orange County in NY wouldn't have thought twice...after all, they've got OCC and that totally rocks!

But, here it is the video I've been raving about...if it speaks to you or you just really love it, think about reposting it or sharing it with someone else!

I hope you guys really loved like I did. Have a great night!

Friday's Fave Five


First Fave Five in Forever!

So, I'm a *huge* fan of Susanne from Living to Tell the Story and thank her graciously, again, for hosting Friday's Fave Five. I haven't been able to blog for an excessively long time, first because of not having internet service at home, then not having a home period...Now I have both again, blessedly, and I'm so thrilled to get back into the swing of the Fave Five. I guess my them here would be new things and renewal, so here we go: 

  1. Three new baby bunnies born on Valentine's Day. They're too young to get a pic of without upsetting Mina, their momma, yet...but as soon as I can, Cupid, Cocoa, and Valentine will have a starring role in a photo shoot and blog post to follow!
  2. My hubby buying my favorite chocolates in a beautiful keepsake tin...see, my daddy always did this for me, it was "our" thing since I was a little girl. He bought my mom, sister, and I a Valentine's heart every year from the time we hit Kindergarten (of course my mom's even longer than that, lol!) and I always saved the boxes. They were SO pretty. Some I kept in my cedar chest with mementos in them, others I taped shut and stapled to my bedroom wall. The really rugged or specially fancy ones I used to hold stuff on my desk, dresser, and vanity table. My dad isn't able to buy them for me anymore due to advanced Alzheimer's...so my hubby picked up the tradition this year...including buying ones for our two girls, and a cool metal toolbox and tool shaped chocolates and hard candies for our son. 
  3. A new start on my college and career goals. I've been accepted to Kaplan University, I start on the 27th...it's SO good to be back on track with this!
  4. A new church family...I've been out of church for so long (way too long to post here, but when I get into soul baring made again, I'll make a full disclosure post). 
  5. My Keurig brewer. I *LOVE* being able to go to my local Shop N Save and pick out individual cups. They end up costing me the same as a full box of one flavor would, but this way I'm able to mix and match. I got some Wolfgang Puck Breakfast in Bed cups, Gloria Jean's Mudslide which is actually hot cocoa, Green Mountain had my seasonal faves Spicy Eggnog and Gingerbread House as well as my regular fave, Dark Magic. So, I'm brewing up a cup of Mudslide, putting the last sentence on my fave five, and saying Happy Date Night and see you tomorrow!
My Keurig and some of my fave flavors
 

Super Date Night Suppers Volume 1

Happy Friday and Happy Date Night for the couples who have a partner which reads my blog! Hope you all had a terrific and love filled Valentine's Day yesterday!

For tonight's Date Night we decided to do Chinese Take-In.. We're on a really tight budget, the Chinese place is cuh-razy on Friday (besides being almost a half hour away) and my hubby says he likes my cooking better anyhow...tee hee what a sweetie!

So, I decided I'd make chicken lo mein and an egg roll. We're not huge eaters, and the leftovers will be excellent tomorrow.

Chicken lo mein, shrimp egg roll and yes, a Dixie mini cup of duck sauce  
This menu came together really quick and easy with some staples I keep on hand and a terrific deal that my local Shaw's supermarket is running right now called Pick 5 for $20. For my $20 this week I got a full rack of St Louis Style barbecue ribs, almost two pounds of individually sealed Perdue All Natural Italian marinated boneless/skinless chicken breasts (the bag had 5 large breasts in it), a large ready to cook chicken pot pie, and a beautiful boneless pork loin that I can't wait to cook tomorrow! Look in your weekly sales ad or the meat department when you get to your local Shaw's or Star market. They have many choices besides what I've listed so have fun mixing, matching, and filling your menu with delectable options!

Now, to the recipes!

Chicken Lo Mein
  • 1 package Koyo brand Organic Udon Noodles 
  • 1 Perdue All Natural Italian marinated chicken breast, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen stir fry blend veggies, your pick
  • 1 package Simply Asia Stir Fry Sauce Ginger Teriyaki
Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the package of noodles. Boil 8 minutes til done. While noodles are cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet. Add chicken and cook til browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Drain Udon noodles in a colander in the sink. Let them drip while you heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in the pot you cooked the noodles in. Add the frozen veggies and stir fry for 2 minutes, til heated. Slice chicken breast into strips and add to veggies, stif fry 1 more minute. Pour sauce packet in with meat and veggies, turn heat to low, and return noodles to pot. Toss until well mixed. Turn heat off and cover pot. In the chicken skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil to near smoking. Add your favorite fresh or frozen egg roll, one or two per person depending on the size and cook on each side to golden brown and crisp. Remove from oil, drain on paper towel briefly, dish up a serving of noodles, set egg roll alongside, grab chopsticks or a fork and dig in!

We haven't gotten around to watching the Karate Kid remake (I know, I know, we don't watch a ton of movies though) and we're debating between that and one of my old favorites, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Here's wishing you all an amazing date night!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wow it's been a long time!

Holy roses, Batman, it's been forever since I've posted. A LOT has happened since my last post...we were staying with friends a while, that became a hot mess, and we've moved on. Now staying with another friend who's lifestyle (off grid, self sustaining, raising livestock, growing our own fruits and veggies as much as possible, fair trade purchasing, etc etc) is completely in line with ours.

Things are as near to perfect as they can be. Essentially for a while there we were homeless. Now have an established address, will be able to secure work with new references that I have secured, worked a few volunteer positions to flesh out my resume after being a stay at home mom since 2005. I have been a full time student in that time as well, I am going back to school now that things are on an even keel to complete my elementary education degree, a dream I've had since third grade back in, um, let's see...1989! Wow, it will be amazing to complete that and become a full time teacher instead of just a substitute and ed tech.

We are on a homestead now, not as large as our farm but eventually after helping out here for a year or two to get another place of our own and start over again. Will post again tomorrow and upload some pictures of our rabbits, too cute too believe and the cats are so cute with them when we let a few have free-play time outside their cages.

Goodnight!