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Making Local Food Work

When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year food became a priority in our house.  I have been exploring ways to help my family eat more healthy while saving money and growing my own fruits and vegetables continues to draw my attention.  

Being one who has tried (and failed) numerous times to grow produce, I still look for resources that might help me to achieve my goal which is why I picked up Making Local Food Work by Brandi Janssen.

What I never dreamed of was how my eyes would be opened to a whole new world!  I've never really thought about where our produce comes from and the challenges that farms go through in today's world.  No, it did not show me the best way to grow a tomato but it did make me realize that food does not go straight from the ground to your plate and how there is a whole other side to the food we eat.  

This book is extremely well written as well as throughly researched and is a wonderful resource.

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

The Best of Us

Some people are lucky enough to find their soulmates early on in life.  My sister and her husband met when they were thirteen and fifteen and are still going strong over 20 years later.  I was one of those that didn't meet their soulmates until they were in their 30's but I thank God every day that I finally found him.  

Joyce Maynard didn't meet her soulmate until she was in her 60's.  The Best of Us is their story of true love and a life together that was cut off before it had really even begun.

Joyce Maynard was a woman who did not need a man to complete her.  She had a few serious relationships but she knew deep down that nothing would ever come of them and was perfectly content just having fun.  She had met many different men in her time of singleness but after one long phone call, and a very nice dinner with Jim Barringer, a man that had found her on Match.com, her world would never be the same.

The chemistry was instant and Joyce knew Jim was not like the other guys she had dated before.  Theirs was a whirlwind romance with lots of fun and adventures.  They were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony the summer of 2013 and began a beautiful life together.

Maynard/Barringer Wedding - From "Just the Beginning of Their Growing Time"
Marriage was a little tough for the fiercely independent Joyce but Jim was perfect for Joyce, nurturing her independent side and going along with all of her crazy ideas.  Life was as close to perfect their first year of marriage, and then everything changed with one doctor's visit.

Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Their adventures ceased and the hunt for any and every treatment they could find ensued.  Joyce poured over research and reached out to other pancreatic cancer survivors to gain all the knowledge she could to help her husband.  Jim went along with every idea, including drinking breast milk, hoping the colostrum would help.  It didn't.  Nothing did.

Over the course of a year and half Jim fought for his life with Joyce by his side the entire time.  The book goes into great detail about each treatment and surgery that was done which I think would be a great resource for anyone who is struggling or knows someone that is struggling with pancreatic cancer.

The entire time I am reading I know what is going to come and as the pages turn you know it's coming.  I was curious to see how Joyce would write about her husband's last breaths and she did it with such love that tears spilled onto the page as I read the words.  What really gripped me the entire time I was reading is that my husband, my soulmate, and me got married just a few short months before Jim and Joyce were married.  I cannot imagine losing my husband right now and cannot even begin to imagine what Joyce went through.

Joyce Maynard and Jim Barringer - From "Just the Beginning of Their Growing Time"
The Best of Us is a beautiful story of true love and great loss.  It is wonderfully written and when you are done you feel like you know Jim and Joyce on a deep, personal level.  There are parts that are difficult to read and there are things that get repeated but I think that's all part of the journey that these two went on.  I wish I could've heard more of Jim's voice in the story but the portrait of the man that Joyce loved was painted beautifully and I know that he will live in Joyce's heart forever.

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

Still Waiting

Waiting.  Waiting is a concept that is immediately met with apprehension.  You instantly feel that inner struggle.  In our society instant gratification is all around us.  You want it now and if you can't have it right away the waiting can be torturous.  In short, waiting is not something that may of us choose to do if we have the choice. 

As a Christian, waiting is something that we can do a lot of in our Christian walk.  We pray for something and we wait for God to answer.  The waiting can be hard and sometimes even painful but it is usually in that time of waiting that we grow the most.  

In Still Waiting, Ann Swindell tells her personal story of waiting for healing from trichotillomania and parallels it with the story of the bleeding woman in Mark 25.  You feel the emotions of waiting interwoven in each story.  I saw myself in so many moments since I have had seasons of my life of waiting, especially in regards to physical healing from a mysterious pelvic pain that I've had for the past six years that baffles many doctors and specialists.

While Ann waited to be healed from trichotillomania, or trich, she grew closer to Jesus "and that changed everything."  As you read about Ann's story, and the various battles that she went through while dealing with this disorder, you can see yourself in the reflection.  We've all been in a time where we can't control our circumstances.  We are waiting for things to change.  Still Waiting gives hope to the hopeless.  God might not change whatever battle it is that you personally face but he can be by your side throughout the waiting and you will come out the other side stronger than you were before.

I felt uplifted after reading this book, though my heart goes out to the author.  I was hoping that she would be free from her condition but it seems like it won't happen this side of heaven.

I loved that there were discussion questions at the end of the book so that you can focus on your own time of waiting and find Jesus in the midst.  Bottom line: we all have to wait but what's important is WHO you focus on.

*Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is hands down my favorite read so far this summer.  I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I first sat down to read it but after the first few pages I was hooked.

Georgiana Rannoch is ready to be married to the love of her life but there is one little snafu.  Georgie is thirty-fifth in line to the British throne and the only way she can marry her love is to renounce her claim to the throne.  The Queen has one little mission for Georgie before she can continue with her wedding plans, and before long she is at a house party in a beautiful villa in Italy.  Georgie is supposed to be keeping an eye on her cousin Prince David and his lady friend Wallis Simpson but soon everyone's attention goes to solving a murder that has happened inside the house.

As the story unfolds everyone becomes a suspect and every time you think you know who could be the murderer there is another twist in the story.  There are parts of the story that are a little predictable but all in all it was such a fun read.  If you've never read any of the other Royal Spyness books, like myself, that is not a problem.  The author did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps so I never once felt lost.

This is the first book that I've read by Rhys Bowen and I can honestly say that I am in love with both the author's writing style as well as her attention to detail.  The imagery is amazing and even though On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is set in the 1930's, and in Europe, you can see the characters, the villa, and the beautiful Italian countryside.

I would highly recommend On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service to anyone who likes a good mystery.   You fall in love with the characters and genuinely want to know what's going to happen to them.  I plan on reading the other books in the Royal Spyness series and cannot wait to see where the next book takes Georgie Rannoch.

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

Fearless Food

Anyone who has children understands the daily struggle with food.  We want our kids to be healthy and they want food that tastes good.  The struggle really gets real when one of your children has an allergy to a certain food type.  This brings on a whole other struggle and adds more pressure to your day.

Fearless Food by Katrina Jorgensen is a cookbook that is geared towards children's tastes.  It steers clear of the "Big 8" food allergens and each recipe is supposed to be easy enough that your child could make it with little help from an adult.

I decided since this review is focused on recipes for kids that I would let my 10 and 12 year old boys help me review it.  We all agreed that the overall look of the book was great.  The colors are bright and vibrant and the pictures of each dish are very appetizing.

I wanted each boy to pick out a recipe for us to possibly try and each of them struggled with this task.  When I read through the Table of Contents I found many recipes I would love to try but from a kids point of view they were just not feeling it.  When I asked them what it was about the recipes they didn't like they couldn't really say.  I think it could be that many of the dishes are out of our normal daily eating and that could be what was scarring them off.

As they flipped through the book they would point out a certain recipe that they thought might be interesting but then then would read the ingredients and there would be one item they don't like so they would dismiss it.  Gotta love picky eaters.

What I really liked about Fearless Food was that it had an explanation on what a food allergy is as well as a conversion chart right at the beginning of the book which is very handy.  What I wasn't too happy about was that I thought this book was focused on children as a whole but upon further inspection realize that though the recipes are formatted for children, many of them I would not trust my boys to cook on their own.

All in all, I would say that this is a decent cookbook for what it is.  The layout is clean and easy to read and the recipes are appealing but I wish there would've been more tips for getting your children involved with the cooking process.

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

Grace in the Mirror

Who doesn't love a good fairy tale?  What about a fairy tale with a contemporary twist?  That's exactly what you get with Grace in the Mirror by Kristy Tate.

Grace James is a sixteen year old girl who's life has been turned completely upside down.  She is having to move from her home with her mother, older sister, and younger brother and live with her mother's parents in Santa Magdalena, away from her friends.   Grace's father has been deployed which adds to the difficulty her family is facing but then there is the transition to a new town with a new school where she doesn't know anyone.

To help out her family financially, Grace takes a job at an antique shop and soon strange things begin to happen to her.  She starts to hear voices, tiny men are following her everywhere she goes, and she is continuously mistaken for someone named Blanche.

Grace makes friends quickly and adjusts to life in Santa Magdalena, and dealing with her selfish grandparents, as more oddities continue to happen.  The entire story is definitely geared towards a teen audience but intermingled is fairy tale hints which keeps the reader intrigued.

Grace and Brock (the antique shop owner's son) are two characters that you easily fall in love with and root for the entire story.  There is enough mystery to keep you turning the pages, but the ending leaves you with more than a few questions than answers.

All in all I say this was a fun read.  It's definitely a young adult book but it was cute.  The only thing were a few of those unresolved issues that I hope will find resolution in the next installment.  If you love fairy tales and innocent romance with a touch of suspense you will like Grace in the Mirror.

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

Our Way Home

One of my fondest memories growing up was bedtime.  I know you don't normally hear a child say that, and it wasn't that I loved to sleep, but I loved our bedtime rituals.  My dad would sing us goofy songs and get us all amped up, and then my mom would read us a Bible story.  I loved every moment but the best part was right before we would go to sleep and we would say the Lord's Prayer together as a family.  

When you're a child, you do not realize the significance of the Lord's Prayer.  You are actually speaking to the creator of the universe and the Lord's prayer is God's lesson to us on how we should pray.

In my Christian walk, prayer has always been a struggle and I cannot figure out why.  How can it be hard when God gives you the blueprint to prayer?  In Our Way Home, Daniel E. Paavola walks you through the Lord's Prayer and helps you gain the confidence to pray with power.

All those times that I prayed the Lord's Prayer I didn't really understand the depth of what I was praying.  I had just memorized it and recited it over and over.  Mr. Paavola unpacks each aspect of the prayer and helps you delve deeper into what it means to pray to our Father.

This is one resource that I can see myself going back to over and over again.  As I was reading I was constantly highlighting things that I wanted to remember.  When I sat down to write this review I realized almost half of my book is highlighted!  A wonderful reference and resource!

Each line of the prayer is broken down and explained in simplistic terms.  The analogies that are sprinkled throughout the book paint such a picture in your mind that you will not forget the principles taught.

I highly recommend Our Way Home for anyone who wants to enrich their prayer life and get closer to the Lord.

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