Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Introducing My 2016 Word...

The past couple of years that I've chosen a word to serve as my theme for the upcoming year, several words have jumped out at me and I had to whittle the last down to that one perfect word. This year I thought and thought and came up with only two words and they were synonyms!

I finally settled on the word:


Now that we are back in the States, I want to start building our home. I want to get things out of our storage unit and set up an organized and efficient home. 

I want to continue to build up my relationship with the Lord. I want to spend more time reading the Bible and understanding who He is. 

I want to continuing building up my husband and our relationship. I want to show him love and appreciation and improve the flaws in my character that irritate him. 

I will build a healthy food lifestyle for myself and our family. I want cut back on processed foods, cook healthier meals and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

I want to continue to build up my friendships. We can spend more face to face time now that most of us are in the same country.

I will build a career. I want to start turning my writing hobby into a living. I plan on being more committed to freelance writing this year.

I plan to build my skills. I want to learn to can, bake sandwich bread. I want to learn ASL, brush up on my Spanish and sewing skills. I want to learn a good braided style for my hair. Also, I'd like to learn some cake decorating techniques.

In previous years, I've chosen "love", "bold" and the phrase "God in me".

What is your word for the year? What are some things you hope to build in 2016?

*This post is linked up at Mama Kat's.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Book Review: My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody

I hate to say "This is such a good book" when the plot revolves around a heart wrenching true story. However, I did enjoy reading this book as it is very powerful and inspirational. Although the story itself is painful, Mahtob is able to move past the pain into forgiveness and is able to live a full life because of it. This is what I find encouraging- that despite all of the bad things that happen to us and around us good does prevail because God is good and has already declared the victory on our behalf.

Basically, this book tells the story of the daughter in the famous movie and book, Not Without My Daughter.  The daughter, Mahtob, tells the events as she remembers them taking place. However, she goes beyond describing her childhood and details her life up until the present. I find that reading about her life as a whole helps to balance out the tragedy that happened in her childhood and continued to follow her until her father's death. 

This is a very touching and moving account of Mahtob's life. Despite her father's negative influence she was able to move on with her life and that is what makes this book truly inspiring. I highly recommend this book!

PS: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

PS: Other inspirational books I'd recommend include Kisses from Katie, Dreams So Big and Left to Tell. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

'Tis the season to be jolly....fa la la la la .

I am especially joyous and jolly this Christmas season as this will be the first Christmas I have spent with my family since 2009. We were in Pennsylvania and Korea the last 5 years so this is a real treat.

It is tradition for my family to go to my Mimi's house (paternal grandmother) on Christmas Eve. We have a nice dinner (with dessert! usually a fourteen layer chocolate frosted cake, yummo!), exchange gifts and then afterwards we go out into the field and shoot fireworks. I am very excited to participate this year.

We've been enjoying the past few months with our family and friends but it's almost time to get back to the daily grind. My husband has found a job and we are relocating to my hometown.

I had a job interview today for a position I'd really like to have so I am hoping to hear back about that in the new year.

I'd like to wish you all a very merry and bright Christmas filled with lots of joy and cheer. I'm signing off until after Christmas.  Then I hope to share my 2016 word, my 2016 book list, a few book reviews and new recipes. In closing, I'd like to leave you with my Christmas poem that I am re-posting from years past:

‘Twas the Night Of Christmas

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

‘Twas the night of Christmas and all through the house,
 all the creatures were reverent, even the mouse.

 The baby was swaddled and tucked in with care,
 and the angels rejoiced that the Christ-child was now there.

A long journey it had been,
from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

On the back of a little old donkey, slowly rode Mary.
Though a virgin, the Son of Man, she did carry.

She was soon due,
but the rooms available were few.
The only refuge to be found was with the animals and hay.
The sign of a star, hung high in the sky, gave the objects below the luster of midday.

The shepherds traveled far from their beds,
while visions of angels and a Savior, danced in their heads.
The wise men also journeyed from afar,
sent out by King Herod, they followed the star.

Out on the street, there arose such a clatter,
Joseph sprang from his watch to see what was the matter.

The shepherds and Magi arrived to worship the newborn King.
Gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold they did bring. 

They played their harps and sang   
praises that proclaimed His mighty name.
Then the shepherds set out again,
to spread the good news to other men.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

PS: If you're feeling especially cheery try making these festive cupcakes.

PPS: If you are stuck for last minute gift ideas look here

Monday, 14 December 2015

Book Review: Our Presidents and Their Prayers by Rand Paul

As soon as I opened the box, I was excited to dive into this book. The books is truly beautiful from cover to cover. It contains engaging photographs and illustrations throughout.

The basic premise of this book is that each president relied on their faith. Rand Paul dedicates anywhere from one to several pages to each American president. He includes copies of their public prayers and/or speeches where they reference their faith. He also includes commentary on a several of the presidents and also includes information about his personal life and faith. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and being able to learn about all of the former presidents' faith. It was interesting to read the things they said and wonder, if they said that today, would they still be elected. 

I'm thankful that Rand Paul took the time to put together this beautiful, informative and inspiring book. 

*This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Upside Down Banana Layer Cake

Each year I love to make myself a birthday cake. I like to dream and plan and pull together something totally delicious. The two years we were in Korea, I wasn't able to make myself a cake and the bakery cakes were mediocre at best. I'm not saying that to brag, I just like to eat cake and have eaten my fair share over the years. Well, at least after I realized I didn't hate cake but I hated Walmart bakery style cakes with stiff sugary icing. Anyway, this year I decided to try something simple, so I made a banana upside down cake, which due to a series of unfortunate events turned into a peanut butter frosted banana upside down cake with dark chocolate ganache. If you make this cake, make it without the ganache. It is to heavy and rich for such a delightfully light cake. If you make it a layer cake, the peanut butter frosting is a light and fluffy complement. Otherwise, the cake is perfect on its own.

For the single upside down cake:

1. Grease your cake pan and preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix together 3/4 cup brown sugar and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.
3. Arrange banana slices (from one sliced banana) on top of sugar mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
5. Add 1 cup of mashed bananas, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat on low until combined .
6. Beat in two eggs until combined.
7. Pour over bananas and bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving dish.

For the layer cake:

1. Bake two of the above cakes. Cool and stack with the "upside down" banana parts touching to form the filling layer.
2. Frost with peanut butter frosting ( Beat 1 stick softened butter and 1 cup peanut butter. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and two cups powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, adding up to 3 tablespoons of milk to smooth the frosting out.)
3. Optional: Top with milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Book Review: Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler

I was really excited to receive this book*. I’m currently writing my own book about women’s relationships with God and this book was very inspiring.

Wicked Women of the Bible is broken into small chapters, each about a different Biblical woman. I found the fact that the book was broken into smaller chapters made it easy to read. It is written quite simply and I think that that makes the book accessible for reader’s of every level. Spangler re-imagines the Scripture into story-like scenes, noting where she takes artistic liberties. I find that this storytelling approach opens the Scripture up and makes it accessible to a wide variety of women. She notes where she embellishes a detail and explains why and I think this is important because it makes sure that no one is misled.

Spangler’s title includes the word “wicked” and she plays on this throughout. She writes not only about women who are known for being bad, but also about women who are “wicked smart” “wicked old” or find themselves in a “wicked predicament”. I really enjoyed this fresh take.

I highly recommend this book and have added a few of Spangler’s others to my “to-read” list.

You can check out Spangler's blog here.

*This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Black Sesame and Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

For Halloween, I made these really cute mini-cheeseballs shaped like bats. They were pesto flavored and rolled in black sesame seeds. This left me with basically a full bottle of black sesame seeds to finish up.

I searched the recipe collection on the great interwebs and was inspired by Joy the Baker and The Tart Tart to combine the sesame seeds with peanut butter and chocolate chips. 

I made some of these with and some without* rolling them in the extra sesame seeds. The ones with had some extra oomph. They make the cookies taste warm and toasty.

I think these cookies would be really good to serve on either Halloween or New Year's. You could call them Toasted Ant Cookies for a Halloween Party. I think New Year's Eve would be good too because they are fascinating to look at and a little more elegant than your typical chocolate chip. 


2.25 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup black sesame seeds for rolling.


1. Sift together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.
3. Beat in vanilla and soy sauce.
4. Mix in dry ingredients until combined.
5. Dump in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Stir until combined. 
6. Cover dough and chill about 50 minutes.
7. When you remove dough from the fridge, preheat oven to 350F.
8. Roll dough into table spoon sized balls. 
9. Roll balls in black sesame seeds.
10. Bake for 12 minutes. This makes about 35 cookies.

Variations I'd Like to Try:

1. Make a typical peanut butter cookie and add the chocolate chips and black sesame seeds.
2. Make the cookies as above except for the peanut butter chips. Make sandwich cookies with a peanut butter frosting.

*Here's a picture of the cookies without being rolled in the extra seeds.

Merry baking!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

My December "Bucket List"

Inspired by this week's Mama Kat prompt I decided to make a December "bucket list" for myself.
What goals do you have for this month? Mine are fairly simple since I'm still jobless and transient.

1. Find and accept employment.
2. Go look at Christmas lights.
3. Bake myself a birthday cake. I'm debating between my triple threat cake or trying something new and outrageous.

4. Bake black sesame cookies. I found a recipe on Joy the Baker I want to adapt.
5. Finish the other two books I was sent to review this month.
6. Buy Christmas presents.
7. Find and purchase a pair of tall black dress boots.
8. Spend some time with Hotglue.
9. Choose a word of the year. I'm stumped this year...any suggestions?
10. Finish writing my list of books I want to read in 2016. Any ideas of MUST reads?!