Monday, 29 February 2016

Review: The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste McHale

This book centers around the life of Carrigan and her two friends, Laine and Ella Rae. These southern women have been best friends since they were children. Carrigan is struggling with feeling unwanted in her marriage and Laine and Ella Rae each try to encourage her, albeit in their different ways. This drama is more of a backstory as the trio quickly comes to learn that they will lose one of their dear sisters to cancer.

I thought this book was excellent! When you read it, you can feel the heat and hear their twangs. I was able to fight back my tears in the middle of the book but by the end they were streaming down my face. This is a wonderful book of friendship and love. If you judge the book by it's title you'd think "chick flick" but this book explores love much deeper than that.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book Review: A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

This is the true account of Miranda trying to piece together the story of her grandparents. Miranda's quest started around the time that her grandparents were her mother's parents which meant that they had to have been in the same room together at least a few times in their lives but she could never remember ever seeing them together. In fact, they lived on different continents. Miranda pieces together their story, of surviving the Holocaust and their separate lives as she tries to deduce what exactly made them fall in love and get married and why they separated. She does all of this while living in a rustic house that her grandmother purchased but never lived in. Bits of Miranda's life are weaved in throughout the book.

I am really at odds as to whether I liked this book or not. I enjoyed the content and the intrigue. I think the Holocaust stories are important to be told. The details of her grandparent's life during that time period are harrowing an well written. All together, I felt the book was a bit disjointed but perhaps that was intentional as Miranda often writes of feeling that way and the narratives in themselves often are. Perhaps, I liked the book but didn't like experiencing the disjointed sensation! It is definitely an interesting read and I would recommend it if you like non-fiction.

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

Book Review: Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver

Choose Joy is a collection of writing by Sara Frankl that has been collected by her friend Mary Carver. Mary also adds her commentary and includes details that help us to connect the writings. Sara Frankl was a blogger who shared her faith with the world. Sara was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that caused her daily pain and severely limited her abilities. But that didn't stop Sara from living, loving or sharing her faith. She continued to blog daily and uplift those around her. Even in her final days, Sara chose to focus on making sure those she left behind would be okay. Sara's message was for us to choose joy by choosing to focus on God and His will.

This book is a true tear-jerker. Sara's message is so honest and true. It is amazing to read about how she kept her spirits up and connected with God on a level that most of us can't quite comprehend.  He truly was her Source and she made sure everyone knew her life was about Him. Seeing how Sara persevered, kept the faith and ran her race until the end is truly touching and inspiring. Sara's life is an example of one well lived. She continued to live well and live with a heart after God even though she was confined to her home, and often bed.

 I highly recommend this book. Reading it could change your outlook on life, this one and the next. If you are a note taker or highlighter-er there are plenty of gems in this book.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Book Review: The Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

The Life Giving Home is written by a mother and daughter duo. They write about their concept of home including the physical and spiritual realms. Sally writes from her perspective as a mother and the things she tried to create while Sarah writes from the child's viewpoint about things that left an impression on her.

I was really excited to receive this book as creating a strong home culture and a sense of hospitality is really important to me. I really liked that you get the viewpoints of both mother and child. However. I found it really hard to get into the meat of the issues. The Clarksons tried really hard not to make it a shallow book about decor, and it's not, they do focus on deeper issues but it was written in a way that made it seem shallow. I feel like there is a lot of telling and not showing. It made it hard for me to really get into the book.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Chunky Sink Cookies

I was inspired to make these cookie's after watching an episode of Pioneer Woman. That happens a lot actually. I liked the concept of the cookie she made; it looked hearty and had a variety of mix-ins. However,  I'm not a big fan of apricots, and, while I like raisins, a lot of people I bake for, don't. Also, her cookie had no chocolate. And have you seen the title of this blog?! So, I found a way to mix it up and add-in some chocolate.

I named these cookies "sink" cookies because I feel like they have everything but the kitchen sink in them!


1 1/2 cups salted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/3 cup quick oats
3 cups granola (I think I used Clover Valley)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
1 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Tip: Use a really big bowl! My kitchen aid mixer bowl was just big enough!


1. Cream butter and sugars.
2. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
3. Mix in flour and baking soda.
4. Mix in oatmeal and granola.
5. Fold in pecans, cherries, coconut and chocolate. I had to use my hands for this step.
6. Scoop out cookies with a scoop or tablespoon. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 10 minutes. This made about 40 cookies.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Book Review: Prayer Points

PrayerPoints is a devotional designed to help us turn our feelings, dreams and worries into prayers. It is organized by emotion or situation. For example, I found my self turning the pages to "sleeplessness", "facing a crossroad" and "feeling lost". Each heading is followed by verses and a prayer or two to help you articulate what you are going through.

I found this style of devotional particularly helpful. I can flip to the situation I am facing and read verses of Scripture that pertain to that particular situation or emotion. Reading the prayer sometimes helped me to better understand what I was feeling and how God could use my situation.

If I had a guest bedroom I would keep a copy in there for guests to flip to through and use.

*I was provided a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Book Review/Sage Advice: Be You. Do Good by Jonathan David Golden

This book came at the perfect time in in my family's life. My husband and I are experiencing different life stages and situations and this book spoke perfectly to each one!

Be You. Do Good. tells the story of Golden's entrepreneurial life. He talks about how he slowly moved from one area of business (life coach) to another (owning a coffee business). He uses his life as an example of how God leads us and inspires us to do His work. Through this book, Golden is able to use the wisdom he has learned through experience to teach us to recognize and act upon God's leading.

At the end of each section, Golden asks leading questions to get you thinking about your own life and dreams. I found these questions to be really valuable and thought provoking. I love his concept of “little by little” or “one step at a time”. We should always ask ourselves what can I do next to help achieve my dreams.

I think this book is a must-read for anyone struggling to either define their dream/ life mission or act on their dream.

*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Creating a Manageable Morning Routine

For me,  having a  good morning routine keeps me from falling into a productivity rut and ensures I complete my goals. Creating a morning routine will help keep you feeling healthy, energized and focused all day long. A good morning routine should include elements of each of the following:

11.  Exercise. Going for a jog or engaging in another activity that gets my heart pumping starts my day on the right track. Personally, I am the most motivated in the mornings, and exercising helps keep my energy levels up throughout the day. Also, if I start my day with a healthy mindset, I am less likely to devour a mid-afternoon calorie bomb. Passion4Profession, Tone it Up and Leslie Sansone offer great workouts that can be accessed through Youtube.  

22. Food. Eating a healthy breakfast is essential to keeping away the mid-morning munchies. Often, keeping it healthy and fast is the way to go. A quick Google search yields inspiration with sites such as 100 Days of Real Food, Life Simply and The Better Mom.

33. Inspirational time. Exercise energizes our bodies, but we need to make time to nurture our hearts and minds, too. Take 10-20 minutes each morning to meditate, journal or read a devotional. Doing so will energize and refresh your mind.

44.   Ritual. Rituals help us stay calm and centered. Many people make a ritual out of drinking a beverage like hot water with lemon, tea, coffee, or Choffy. Making a ritual out of consuming one of these drinks during your inspirational or breakfast time can help you remain calm, focused and receive health benefits. Other rituals include lighting candles during prayer or playing music during a bubble bath.
      You should make sure your morning routine reflect your priorities and responsibilities. Use the categories above as a template for filling in activities that help you feel energized and focused. Then, make a plan. Get a notebook or planner and divide your day into manageable chunks of time. Make sure to carve out time for your new morning routine. Having a scheduled plan helps your brain remember and focus on your goals. 

     If you find yourself struggling to stick to a routine, apps like The Fabulous and Runtastic, or personal fitness trackers, can help you stay focused and motivated. In addition, implementing a calendar and sticker system can help you visualize your progress. It’s important to remember that the purpose of a morning routine is to help you stay focused and energized. If your routine feels draining or too regimented it is time to change things up.