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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wisdom of the Sadhu - book review

So I really liked reading Wisdom of the Sadhu, Teachings of Sundar Singh. It's a collection of parables, stories and teachings from the sadhu, or holy man, Sundar Singh.
It's refreshing to pick up a spiritual book and read from a perspective of someone who likely lived in more of the lifestyle of Christ. Singh was a wander who kept few possessions and no home. The teachings in this book are so Christ inspired and so similar to the original teachings and parables of Christ.
Singh was stoned, more than once, for his belief in Christ and conversion (from Sikhism to Christianity). Sadly, he was ostracized further, by Christians when he began his formal Anglican education; Singh was radically following after Christ and many didn't understand him. He returned to the life of a wandering mystic, teaching a leading others in the ways of Christ.
Wisdom of the Sadhu is a really nice compilation of Singh's teachings and would be a nice daily reader, as it is written for contemplation. I found each segment, story, teaching or conversation to be incredibly thought provoking and laden with wisdom to chew on for days.
I recommend this book for anyone.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Healing Quilt - Book Review

The Healing Quilt
By Wanda Brunstetter

Excellent book.
It took me a while to decide to read this book. Nothing against the genre or the author - I just wasn't in the mood for a fluffy Amish feel good novel.
But I am so glad I read it. And this book is far from fluffy.
Brunstetter uses her knack for fiction writing to weave the lives of several characters together in 'The Healing Quilt.' Her writing is easy to read. And it's not fluffed up with a bunch of meaningless descriptive, flowery phrases that drag on and on. Rather, she sets the tone and gives enough details for the reader to really understand what's going on and jump right in to the action.
This is the first Wanda Brunstetter book I have read, but it won't be the last. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. I'm sure that I'll make time in my life to take in other Brunstetter books now that I know how good they are.
I did receive an ARC from the publisher. But the publisher wants my honest opinion and does not solicit 5 star reviews. I'm giving this book a five star rating because it is a truly exceptional book.

Friday, May 2, 2014

His Love is Amazing

Sometimes when I buy something for my kids - something special that I know they'll love, I can't wait to give it to them. And when I do, I love to see their little faces light up and it thrills me to watch them enjoy it.
I think that must be how God feels when He blesses His children with wonderful gifts. I can imagine that He just can't wait to bless us. And that His heart is warmed when He sees our faces as we receive it. And I'm sure it thrills our Heavenly Father when he watches us enjoy His gift.
Lately my family has been blessed by God in a plethora of ways.
First - He led us to list our house for sale - a home that we had bought in 2010 for pennies on the dollar. Then - within 3 days of listing it - we had two offers on the home. We accepted an offer that was $10K more than our asking price, walking away with enough profit to pay off all of our debt and invest in a business my husband had been wanting to start for years.
After that, we had less than 11 days to secure a home to rent. One by one, the rentals in our price range were rented before we could get our applications in. With six days left before we had to be out of our home - God led us to a Realtor who found us the perfect home to rent, at just the right price.
Then Adam began the process of starting his business and was blessed beyond measure when he prayed about making his first major business purchase and found just the right item priced lower than he'd ever imagined.
Then God made a way for him to find work in a neighboring city - when our own city didn't pan out as we thought it would.
Soon after he began working out of town, God gave us the foresight to begin looking for a home to rent in that town - as the commute was taking a toll on our family and our wallet. We found a wonderful little place to rent right near where Adam works and it also happens to be less than three miles from a beautiful beach.
Backyard of the new home!

Our current landlord required that we find a tenant to take over our lease in order to avoid huge fees for breaking our lease. So - once again - God led a couple to our house. We showed them the place at 9:30am this past Wednesday morning and by 11am they had met with our landlord and signed a one year lease of their own.
With things finalized, we'll be moving to that lovely little beach house in about a week. Amazingly, we are almost completely packed up and the entire process has seemed as smooth as butter.
I'm overwhelmed at what God has done for us in these last six months. Every time we've asked God for help in some area, He's come back with a blessing far greater than what we had in mind. It's been one blessing after another. One amazing gift after another and small ones in between. Not to mention the much appreciated help from family and friends.
I'm writing all of this down because I don't want to forget one detail - of how He plucked us out of the desert and placed us in a home that is ten times more amazing than we ever dreamed of.
His faithfulness and love have left me amazed and overjoyed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: Rich In Years

Johann Christoph Arnold wrote a really great book called Rich In Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life
I was really impressed with how Arnold wrote about a variety of subjects affecting older adults. He told stories, showed pictures and included beautiful quotes and scriptures throughout the book that really captured the essence of aging gracefully. 
Why can't the final years be the richest years of your life? The stories in this book help readers to enter into the 'Golden Years' with optimism and confidence. 
In a society that tends to devalue those who are older and/or infirm, Arnold gives hope and highlights the value of those who've lived through decades and seen so much.
If you pick up this book, you won't be quick to put it down. Each chapter is well written and easy to read. I found myself smiling as I read this book. 
We are all getting older. I recommend this book to anyone - especially those planning to live richly to the end. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sneaky Veggies - Awesome Chow Mein Recipe

I'm a mother of two small kids - so of course I'm looking for ways to sneak vegetables into tasty dishes. I came across a recipe for Chow Mein and decided it was a great way to sneak in several cups of vegetables. And my kids gobble it up every time I make it.
This dish literally takes about 20 minutes to make - and it's one of my favorite weeknight dinners.
You can add in just about any shredded fresh vegetable you have on hand also - zucchini, peppers and parsnips are all easy to add in if you like.

Here's what you'll need to make it:

1 lb. cooked whole wheat spaghetti noodles
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded mushrooms (optional)
1/2 bunch green onions sliced in long thin strips
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. oil
toasted nuts for garnish (optional)

First, heat 1 Tbsp. oil (I used grapeseed oil)  in a large pan or wok. Add in cabbage, carrots, mushrooms & green onions.

Cook veggies until they are a bit wilted - maybe 5 minutes. They should look like this. While they are cooking, mix the salt into the water and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, honey and ketchup. Set this aside as well.

Add in the cooked spaghetti noodles and the salted water. Combine and mix it together and cook for one or two minutes. Then add the soy sauce mixture and toss everything together. Continue cooking and tossing for 2-3 minutes until everything is combined and heated through. Top with toasted cashews or peanuts and serve.

You can use regular chow mein noodles in this dish if you like. I just chose the whole wheat spaghetti for nutritional value. It's also easier to find in any supermarket. Instead of salt & water, you could use chicken or vegetable stock in the recipe. And if you like a bit of heat, add some ground chili pepper to your sauce. You'll find there are lots of great things you can add to your sauce if you have them on hand and want to add flavor. Tonight I added chopped fresh ginger & garlic to the vegetables before cooking them down and put a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter in my sauce. SO good.

Trash Blocks

We don't do much television at our house - in fact, we don't have a television. But our kids like to watch little shows from time to time on the computer. Lately they have been enjoying episodes of Mr. Rogers that we watch from Amazon Prime.

Recently, we saw him teach a method for making large building blocks out of two milk cartons. I started saving milk cartons and other sturdy boxes to make my little ones a set of giant blocks as well.

 First, I opened up one of the milk cartons and removed the plastic pour spout. Then I gently squeezed the top of the other one so I could easily stuff it into the first. I pushed it all the way down and used packing tape to secure the edges.

 It made a pretty sturdy little block.
 I did the same sort of thing with a couple of cracker boxes. And lots and lots of other boxes.

 And now we have a nice set of large building blocks.
 I figure the kids can build with them - and also play "grocery store" with them if they want. Sure beats the $40 price tag on those cardboard brick sets that I've seen in stores.

Friday, February 28, 2014

DIY Cat Tree House

Here's a great way to make a cool scratching post/tree house/hangout spot for your cat without making your home look like you've become a cat lady.
Materials I used:

-old side table that was ready to be thrown out
-potted fake tree that had seen better days
-sisal rope
-drill and 1" drill bit
-piece of scrap wood
-hot glue gun

Here's how I did it:
I wanted to use only items I already had. So, I found an old side table that was stuck in the corner of an upstairs playroom. It wasn't being used much and was pretty ugly. Perfect.
I drilled two large holes in the top. The largest drill bit I had was 1" - and not big enough, so I ended up drilling several one inch holes right next to eachother to make two large flower shaped holes (see photo).
Then I stapled some burlap over the top of the table and cut slits where the holes were. You could also use a carpet scrap for this - but I only had burlap on hand, so that's what I used.

I poked the tree branches right through the burlap & table holes and straight down through the bottom wicker shelf of the table.
I added a little seat for my cat within the branches. This step isn't necessary - especially if your cat is a natural climber. It could also be done much differently than the way I did it. I used a scrap piece of wood - probably around 18" long and 8" wide. I notched the both sides to match the width of the inside of the two branches and wedged the wood between them. I used hot glue to secure the wood to the branches and it seems nice and sturdy.

I wrapped sisal rope around one of the bottom tree branches for scratching and the project was finished. It seriously took just a little over an hour - start to finish.

My cat absolutely loves it. When I showed it to her, she immediately started scratching on the burlap and then climbed up into the tree and started batting the branches. 
This was so much easier than I thought it would be and turned out so much better looking than I had expected.

As it sits in the corner - you can't really tell that it's a cat tree unless you know what you're looking for. It mostly just looks like part of the house decor. No cat ladies here!

Merry Christmas!

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