Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kindergarten - Day 92 and Day 93

Day 92:

The sweeties I watch on Wednesdays:

This is Hunter's own hairstyle, which he does when he wants to look particularly handsome!

Day 93:

Our latest 1000-piece puzzle completed:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shovel Ready (Review)

This review is for the book "Shovel Ready" by Adam Sternbergh. This is part of his "Spademan" novels. I had not ever heard of Sternbergh, or "Spademan", but I love a good thriller/suspense novel. One thing that pleased me about this book is that it gave plenty of background eased into the storyline. I knew plenty about Spademan without having to read other books by the author. I liked the story and found it pretty interesting. I did think some of it was odd because obviously the story takes place in New York in another time/dimension. The reader is let in on the fact that there are no movie theaters anymore... no Wall Street anymore... and eventually the reader is told what exactly happened to the state of New York.

I felt that some of the story was confusing, particularly the part about the "limnosphere" and the famous preacher. I also felt that the story was a bit harder to read because there were no quotation marks, so for me it was hard to imagine who was saying what phrase in the conversations, and which statements were thoughts.

It's still an interesting concept and I'm sure most people who enjoy suspense novels would like this style of writing.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multonah for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

*Not a faith-based novel.*

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Betting on Hope (Review)

Betting Hope Debra Clopton

This review is for the book "Betting on Hope" by Debra Clopton. I have read several of Clopton's books before; mainly her Mule Hollow series. I enjoyed those, and this one really does not fall far from the same style as those books. This book is part of her Four of Hearts Ranch series.

In this book, Maggie Hope somehow gets suckered into a bet with a cowboy, Tru Monahan. She either has to complete the bet or lose her job. Unfortunately, Maggie dislikes all things horse-related, and that is exactly what the bet is zoning in on - her ability to ride horses. Of course as Tru helps Maggie learn how to ride they end up finding out they have feelings for one another. They also both have some secrets that need to come to light before they can really explore their feelings.

I think this is one of those light, easy-to-read books that has an ending that makes you feel good. So if you like that type of book you will enjoy this one.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

God's Super-Apostles (Review)

This review is for the book "God's Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement" by R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec. I thought this book was extremely well-written and very interesting. In this book, the authors address the topic of modern-day apostles and prophets.

The book begins with a history of the New Apostolic Reformation and their beliefs about apostles, and then a history of apostles in the Bible. Then the authors delve into the beliefs about prophets in regards to the NAR, and then compares that information to prophets in the Bible. The book continues to compare issues, speaking primarily on spiritual warfare and miracles. The authors put scripture against every belief of the NAR. I have to say I was pretty astounded with some of the beliefs and how they simply do not hold up to scripture.

In the end, the authors concluded that there is not a "list" of churches or organizations in the NAR; it is more of a movement. I was really surprised at some of the authors and churches that were listed as part of the NAR, though - authors whose books I have enjoyed (C. Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets and Bill Johnson, for example) and organizations through whom I have enjoyed programming at some time in my life (The International House of Prayer and Trinity Broadcasting Network). I am sure that the authors do not mean that every single person in these organizations preach doctrine that is not sound, but I was still surprised.

I thought this book was really informative and I found it very interesting and eye-opening.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Kindergarten - Day 90 and Day 91

Day 90:

Our new favorite game: Angry Birds. No, not the game on your technological device! You actually have to build the tower and catapult the birds to knock everything down. We love this game, even though it can take up to two hours to complete an entire game!!

Our science experiment to learn about evaporation: We filled a pan with one cup of water and let it sit for two days without touching it. We poured it into this measuring cup to see how much water had evaporated into the air - 3/4 of a cup of the water had evaporated!

Day 91:

Ordinary (Review)

This review is for the book "Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down" by Tony Merida. Merida's purpose in writing this book is to help turn sensationalism back into ordinary Christianity. He speaks of not having to rely on shock and awe for our faith, but in acts of service. He points out (rightfully so) that people right now are drawn to things like mega churches, scandals, and huge conferences. But the Christian needs to focus on things like making sure the widows are taken care of, the fatherless find homes, and the single moms are provided for. And through these ordinary acts, we can turn the world upside down.

The book really focused on orphans - adoption and foster care. At the same time, though, Merida admitted that not everyone is led to participate in these things. I think he is simply trying to get readers to focus on the simple things we can do in our communities to reach others for Christ.

I enjoyed this book and the writing of the author and I recommend it for those who are searching for ways to reach out in "ordinary" ways.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Salt, Light and Cities on Hills (Review)

This review is for the book "Salt, Light and Cities on Hills" by Melvin Tinker. In this book, the author addresses evangelism, social action and the church, and how they relate to one another.

Tinker begins the book by giving a history of social action and evangelism, so the reader knows the background of these topics. He then spends the rest of the book going over topics such as reformers, radicals, different ministries in churches, the sermon on the mount, service in the Bible, specific scripture in Isaiah and Acts, and how to make evangelism and social action personal in your own life.

I felt that this book was easy to understand and was very interesting. It appealed to me because I absolutely believe that both evangelism and social action are necessary. I also believe it is very easy to focus so much on the social action aspect that you can accidentally push evangelism to the side. Social action must never be about what we can do, but what God can do through us. I think Tinker makes some excellent points in this book and ties it all together really well.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Discovering Delight (Review)

This review is for the book "Discovering Delight" by Glenda Mathes. This book contains 31 devotions which are centered around reflecting on God's law. Most of the devotions are focused on scripture in the book of Psalms. The author explains that she begins the book by examining five "law-exalting" psalms. She then breaks up Psalm 119 (the longest in the Bible) into 22 sections so it is easily explored and understood. Then there are also passages from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Romans and Revelation which show us prophecy in the Bible and how to delight in the law.

I really enjoyed this book. I love the Psalms, and I really do not ever tire of studying them. Each devotional section is quite short, so it is easy to complete during the day, but there is a lot of meat which is packed into the small reading. The author also includes a few discussion questions for each chapter, for further reflection.

I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it to others.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Bri's 5th Birthday - Rainbow Cupcakes and Zebra Cake

So, for Brianna's 5th birthday (almost a year ago *ahem*) she asked for rainbow cupcakes and a zebra cake. Obviously I obliged, thanks to All You and Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio.

First, the pictures from the party:

The rainbow cupcakes:

All you need is whatever cake mix you want for the cupcakes (Bri chose chocolate) and then vanilla or cream cheese frosting, so you can mix in blue food coloring for the "sky". Spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Take an Airheads Extreme Rainbow Berry candy belt, fold it, and stick it in both sides of the cupcake. Press on a few mini marshmallows around the rainbow for clouds.

Super easy and so cute! I will tell you that the next day, the Airheads will start melting and become really slimy. I feel it's my duty to tell you that if you have any leftover on top of cupcakes - just go ahead and eat them all the first day!

I got the zebra cake recipe from Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio. She is an amazing blogger who makes you feel like you can do anything in the kitchen!

If you go to her link I posted above, you'll see her YouTube tutorial on how to make this cake.

2 ½ cups all purpose flour (300 g)
2 cups sugar (400 g)
¾ cups vegetable oil (180 mL)
1 teaspoon vanilla (5 mL)
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder (~11 mL)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup milk (240 mL)
white, pink, and black gel paste
vanilla buttercream (that is a link to her homemade recipe)
black fondant
pink buttercream
Wilton tip 1A

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour, sugar, baking powder, vegetable oil and vanilla on low/medium until ingredients are mixed together.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low in between additions.

Slowly add the milk while the mixer is on and mix until all ingredients are completely combined.  Divide batter into three different bowls with one bowl having half of the batter and the other two having a quarter each.

Color the large bowl with white coloring, and the smaller two with black and pink respectively.  Mix coloring until no light streaks remain.

Spray two 8” pans with non-stick spray and line bottom with parchment/baking/wax paper.  Place four tablespoons of white batter into the center of each pan.  Then, directly into the middle of the white batter, place two tablespoons of black batter.  Directly into the center of the black batter, place two tablespoons of pink batter.  Repeat white/black/pink batter additions until all the batter is used up or pans are ⅔ full.  Place pans into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cake is cooled, level, stack and cover in white buttercream.  To cut the fondant pieces, roll fondant out very thinly and using a rolling cutter (pizza or pastry) slice long, narrow stripes and arrange on white cake as desired.  To finish the cake off, using the pink buttercream with Wilton 1A tip, pipe a small beaded border along the bottom of the cake.

(Photo credit: my dear old dad!)

Now, I know that mine does not look professional. I couldn't get the fondant to work like she was getting hers to work on the YouTube video. I have issues with fondant. But I'm still happy with how it turned out, and I really love the inside.