Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review - Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig

Cover Art

Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig is the second book in her Edge of Freedom series.  I haven't read the first one, but this was a good stand-alone book.  I had a hard time putting it down, so I spent most of yesterday reading.  The main characters, Ana and Eoghan, have tragic pasts that have caused them to reject church and God, but both find themselves at Our Lady of Deliverance church.  Eoghan is dropped on the church's doorstep, and agrees to be their handy man for "just a day or two", while Ana's friend convinces her to help with the women and children's shelter at the church, "just once".  Both are welcomed in by Father Ed and the Sisters, and one or two visits become more.

Both Ana and Eoghan's pasts catch up with them, and they find themselves embroiled in trouble involving an Irish underground group.  There is a lot of suspense and some really dark characters involved.  Ultimately, Ana and Eoghan have to decide if they can trust each other, and if they can put their trust in God.  This is a page turner!  The story is set in New York city around the turn of the century, and I appreciated the historical details.  I really liked the main characters.  Both are flawed, believable, and endearing.  I highly recommend this book.  It is historical, suspenseful, and a Christian romance all in one.  It looks like I now have another author to read!

I was given this book by Bethany House for my review, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cantaloupes and etc

Papaw asked me if I had any cantaloupes, and I realized that it had been a while since I posted any garden pictures.  Yes, I have some small cantaloupes.  These are the biggest two:

The smaller one is maybe softball-sized.  There are some smaller cantaloupes, too, but they are really little.  I am hoping that I get some fruit, even if it is later than I'd like.

I also finally have some tomatoes turning red.  Mostly my two Roma plants, but also one other hybrid one is starting to give me ripe tomatoes.  I actually gave in and bought a couple at the farmer's market last week just so Lydia and I could eat some fresh tomatoes, and I was given some this weekend, too (thanks, Miss!!!).  

On Sunday, I got to go to Joann's with my Mamaw and Mom, so I bought lots of cute fabric, including these:

Every time I see this print, that song "Lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolly, lolly, lolly..." comes into my head.  I'm humming it right now.   

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tiny Eggs

This week, at least one of our chicks began laying eggs. We've gotten 3 tiny eggs in 4 days, so we don't know if it is only one pullet that is laying, or 2 or 3.  The egg to the left is Leaf's, so you can get an idea of how tiny they are.  The kids are so excited.  I'm boiling the eggs right now, since they each want to eat a tiny egg.

Also in the kitchen, Nathaniel bought me a new canner:

It's so huge that it dwarfs my stovetop.  I used it to make cinnamon peach jam the other day.  It can fit so many more jars at a time.  I love it.  I can't wait to use it to can salsa.  I can even can quarts in it, which would be nice for applesauce.

We've been super busy this week, with swim lessons in the morning and VBS at night.  I'm in Missions this time.  My kids are disappointed; they prefer me to be in crafts, but that wasn't where I was asked to work this year.  Missions is connected to snack, so I'm helping with that, too.  It's a shame I don't care for most of the snacks.  Or maybe that's a blessing to keep me from eating all night!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Moving Forward

Today I'm getting our dossier apostilled.  Sounds fancy, doesn't it?  Well, basically, it means I have to certify some paperwork at the capital (which for Kentucky, is Frankfort, in case you didn't know).  I hired our teenage babysitter, Maddie, to watch the kids this afternoon so I don't have to drag them along for a long car ride and boring paperwork.  They are quite happy to miss out on that!

After I get everything apostilled and copied, I get to send it off!  It won't be offically registered in the country for about 2 months (time for translating and etc), but I'm so excited that we are getting closer.  Once we are offically registered, it could be a year or more before we get a referral, but I'm still plenty excited.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Play Dough

Lydia's preschool uses homeade play dough that is really fantastic.  It lasts a long time and has a great texture.  I asked the lady that makes it for the recipe, and she said she just uses a "regular" play dough recipe, but instead of vegetable oil, she uses baby oil.  I used a basic play dough recipe and exchanged the oils, and the play dough is great!  It is still smooth and pliable a month after we made it, and it has a nice texture.  Here is the recipe I use:

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c table salt
2 T cream of tartar
1 T baby oil
1 c water

Mix all of these together in a small saucepan.  Cook, stirring, over medium heat until it forms a big lump.  Dump it onto a cutting board (or table, or whatever) and knead it a few times.  It will feel sticky at first, but it gets better.  Then, add coloring:

We make a well in the middle and add a few drops of desired food coloring.  Close the well with more dough and knead (this way you don't stain your hands).  We split one batch of playdough into two, so we get two colors from each batch.  Each batch makes 2 baseball-sized balls of dough.

Malachi really likes making the colors.  He mixed most of ours.

Today, we made 2 batches, to add to the 2 batches we made about a month ago, so now we have 8 colors: white (uncolored), green, blue, orange, yellow, red (or dark pink), light purple, dark purple, and a blue/green.  You can also add glitter and knead it in the same way as the colors.  My kids love to play with play dough with small plastic animals as well as the usual cookie cutters and rolling pins.  Small cars are good, too, for making tracks.

Note: I used a stainless steel pan to cook it in, and afterwards it looks like it would be hard to clean up, but I just add some water and it washes right up easily.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review - Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel

My latest book to review is Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel.  It's my favorite so far, and I didn't want to put it down.  It has an Indiana-Jones type main character, Jack Hawthorne, and his linguist wife, Espy, who found the bones of the prophet Elisha years ago.  Now their sons have been kidnapped, and Jack and Espy have to find the bones again if they hope to get their sons back.  Naturally, there are various forces trying to keep Jack and Espy from the bones, including the secret society that has guarded them for 3,000 years.

The book is fast-paced and action packed.  This is the third book by the author, and I have to find the first two and read them now. Christian fiction often gets criticized for being either too boring or too preachy, but this book is definitely neither.  I absolutely loved this book, and I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for writing a review, but the opinions are my own.

Culling and etc

We've never had so many chickens at once before (31!), so we decided to cull half of the cockerels a bit early.  They are starting to try to crow and harrass the pullets.  Yesterday Nathaniel killed 5 of the 11 cockerels, so now I have lots of chicken in the freezer and chicken and dumplings simmering on the stove.  The kids are beyond excited about eating chicken and dumplings, especially Malachi.  We plan on waiting at least a few weeks before butchering the rest of the roosters, but we'll just wait and see how it goes.

In the garden, I'm getting about 1 or 2 cucumbers a day, and we've had a few small zucchini.  The tomato plants do have some green ones, but since the deer ate the only half-orange one a week or so ago, we've had none show signs of turning for me.  I'm impatient, of course.  I dearly love fresh tomatoes.  They are even hard to find at the farmer's market this year, because apparently everyone is having troubles with blight.

And the best bit of news I've saved for last.  We got our USCIS approval!!!  I'm so excited.  We are getting that and a few other things notarized this week, and then we have to certify the notary.  I hope to drive to Frankfort early next week to have the whole dossier apostilled.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Millions of Peaches...

We went on our annual peach picking trip to the farm yesterday.  Elijah asked if we could compete to see who picked the most, like we do with berries, but I had to say no.  We can pick too many peaches, too fast.  As it stood, we picked 2 boxes of peaches and one of white nectaries.  Elijah picked one whole box of peaches himself.

While in the orchard, all of us end up singing that old Presidents of the United States of America song, "Peaches".  You remember, "Millions of Peaches, peaches for me/ millions of peaches, peaches for free".  Fun stuff.

Also while we were there, Lydia finally got to ride a pony.  She's been asking me to ride a horse for about a year, and so we finally got her on a pony.  She was a bit terrified (I could see it in her face when they put her on him) but she then smiled for the camera and held on for dear life while they walked twice around.  She was so excited.  I'm proud of her.  She wanted to do it so bad and was able to do so despite her fears.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review - Stopping Words that Hurt by Dr. Michael Sedler

Stopping Words That Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative

I recently received Stopping Words that Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative by Michael Sedler from Chosen books.  The title is pretty self-explanatory.  The book deals with evil reports and how to avoid talking and listening to negativity.

Each chapter has discussion/reflection questions at the end.  I think this would be a good book for a Sunday school class to work through together.  I also believe youth leaders could pull out passages for discussion although I don't think teenagers would likely read this book.  I'm fairly certain that was not the author's intent, but I could see good discussions from a youth group based off some situations presented in the book.  The author presents biblical examples throughout the text, and he also provides "today" examples.  In the first couple of chapters, the biblical examples seemed a bit remote from today's world (how many of us have the power to order a man to be killed?), but then he started incorporating more modern examples and more biblical examples that don't involve captial punishment.  The book was a bit repetitive, but he makes many good points about the impact of negative speech on our daily lives.

I received this book from Chosen Publishing for the purpose of writing a review, but the opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Curtains

Nathaniel has to get up at 4 am, so he really needs to get to sleep before it gets dark (which here is around 10).  Last night, he asked me to buy some darker curtains for our bedroom.  We just had this gauzy white stuff as window coverings before, and I wasn't crazy about them anyway, so it seemed like a win-win for me.  I had planned on just picking up something, but then I remembered this fabric:

My sister gave it to me a while back, and I really liked it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it.  It wasn't quite enough to make the curtains, so I went to Wal-mart and bought some chocolate-colored dollar fabric.

I love the way they turned out.  I hope Nathaniel likes them!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Deer issues

We often have deer in our front and side yards.  They ate all the strawberry plants, which was a disappointment, but mostly they haven't been too much trouble.  Unfortunately, they have discovered the big garden.  The gate was left open one night while we were gone, and the deer ate the tops off most of my tomato plants in the big garden.  It was a depressing sight.  The plants do still have small green tomatoes on them, though.  A deer also stepped on one of the zucchini plants, but I think it's going to be fine.  It's just a bit knocked over.  I did get 2 little zucchini last night.  There are blooms all over the canatloupe and pumpkin plants, and those tiny cucumbers are still pretty tiny.  There is one half-orange tomato in the small garden, and one tiny head of broccoli.  The butternut squash plant doesn't look real healthy, but it has a flower on it, too.

We did have a nice weekend.  We got to spend some time with my nephew and a lot of other relatives, and everyone had a great time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Garden Report

Things are starting to ripen in the garden.  Last night, Lydia and I picked our first 2 cucumbers.  She also ate the first 2 cherry tomatoes, and the handful of golden raspberries.  We have several peppers, too, but we're waiting for those to change color.  It will be a while before we get a ripe full-size tomato, but there are some tiny green ones and a few bigger green ones growing.  The peas, cantaloupes, and zucchini all have blossoms, so we hope to see some fruits growing there soon.  Also, I harvested some basil to make a small amount of pesto for our sandwiches a few nights back.  In a few weeks, I hope to have lots of produce!