What I'm Into: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What I'm Watching

I've done a lot less watching and a lot more reading this month!

I got into The Next Food Network Star on Netflix. It's MOSTLY good.

My Mom and I watched a movie called "The Words" on Netflix and it was also MOSTLY good.

In the Kitchen

The summer meal plan is still going strong! It's been so nice to KNOW what we're eating without giving it much thought. Fruit night is officially my favorite. I'd eat fruit and cheese all summer long.

The grilling is going well. My adaptation of these BBQ Pork Burgers got a blue ribbon! They had me at "grilled pineapple".

Strawberry Shortcake also hit the spot!

What I'm Reading

You can see what I read in June and get a short review on each book here. There were quite a few. If I had to pick one favorite it would be Watership Down by Richard Adams.

I'm really excited about July's list!!! Mary Higgins Clark's latest release (she's got THREE books coming out this year, so you'll be hearing me talk about her more than usual) is the one I'm most looking forward to, I think.

I'm currently studying the book of Galatians too. Over the last week I've been going over what it means to (in the words of John Piper), "submit my mind and the attitudes of my heart" to this Word.

Around the Internet

My Mom showed me this video. I cried. Have you seen it?

I heard about Sorted Food on America's Test Kitchen Podcast. I haven't looked around a bunch, but their accents are a-okay by me! If THEY had a podcast, I'd definitely listen!

I've really enjoyed reading about Amy's latest vacation! Her pictures are GORGEOUS.

God wrote a book. We all need to read it!

What are you into? 

I'm linking up with Leigh.  

A Month of Saturdays: May 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

May 2, 2015 ||

Spent some time in the sun reading the first book on my May Stack. I love these days!!!

I also helped my sister break in the record player that she got for her birthday the night before! I REALLY love these days!!!

May 9, 2015 ||

We loaded up the van for a vacation on Lake Chelan. I NEARLY caught the van brakes on fire.

Thankfully, I was pulling over so that we could take some pictures...So, we just let things cool down a bit!

May 16, 2015 ||

I didn't take any pictures, but today was planting day! I planted cosmos, alyssum, sugar snap peas, and green beans. I also put some cucumbers in a bowl to sprout.

May 23, 2015 ||

We spent part of Memorial Day weekend at the ranch enjoying time with some of our favorite people! It was hot enough for a dip in the river!!!

Don't you fish in the kids' swimming spot?!?! To be fair, he went far away from the kids, but then his line got caught on something... :) It made for a good laugh when I was going through the pictures!

The process of doing anything at the ranch is quite the process. They were putting in (and testing out) a "waterslide". Turns out, it's golden!

May 30, 2015 ||

I guess I didn't take any pictures today either...Oops! We went to see Tomorrowland at the theatre. Summer spontaneity is kind of my favorite. The movie was also really good! Have you seen it?

When we got home I puttered around the yard admiring watering my plants! The mint is looking especially good!


Friday, June 26, 2015

August 9, 2014

Yesterday morning, I wrote that post about God's people knowing His voice.

Today, I have been bombarded with the news that "love wins". Over the last few months, this issue has been something that cannot be ignored any longer....While so many people are celebrating, my soul is grieving.

I don't want this to be true of America. I don't want my children to grow up in a society like this. I want to wake up tomorrow and be told that it was all a big mistake.

But it is true, our society is following the desires of their hearts, and if tomorrow comes, it will all be the same.

This is America and she is in rebellion to God. This is the America that has forgotten who she is and what her founders designed her to be.

God said that this would happen (Romans 1:18-32). God is not surprised. God is not standing with His hands in the air.

Tonight, the grief has reached a high. My friends and family are joining in on the celebration. I hoped over to my blog to re-read the last post (I do that to edit any errors) and you know what...The words that I wrote yesterday morning were just what my soul needed to hear tonight.

We must not give up. We must not back down. The Shepherd is gathering His sheep and they'll know Him when they hear Him.

They'll Know Him When They Hear Him

Thursday, June 25, 2015

March 3, 2015

"...and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice." John 10:4

This verse carries so much meaning. As sheep, it assures us that our Shepherd knows us and that we know Him and will follow Him. As people with good news to bring to the world, it assures us that when a sheep hears, they'll recognize the voice of their Shepherd echoing in the words that we bring to them.

I heard an evangelist say, "I only work with people that God has already been working with." He went on to explain that as he ministers to people, it's only the ones that have been wrestling with God for a while who come to find him or make the phone call to ask to meet with him again. He spends a lot of time bringing the Gospel to people in his town, but he doesn't expect it to appeal to everyone.

I'm always saying that God is laboring for His people. Chapters like John 10 assure me that this is really true. This particular passage jumped out at me weeks ago and I just keep coming back to it in my mind. "The know His voice" is something every Christian can relate to. 

May this verse carry us through the roughest of times and be our joy in the best of times. May this verse inform the way that we serve other people, especially as we are able to share the gospel with them. 

Don't give up. Don't back down. The Shepherd is gathering His sheep and they'll know Him when they hear Him.

The Circle: Summer Staples

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer is my absolute favorite season!!!! I love everything about it...When Kiki announced that The Circle would be all about our summer staples, I knew that my list would have to include these things that I've documented over past summers:

* Planting Day

* Ice Cream

* Geocaching - Bonus points if it's a new city!

* Tending My Cutting Garden

* Harvesting Vegetables

* Summer Reading - Ever since I discovered them, my list almost always includes something by Packer and something by Fitzgerald. Check out this year's list HERE.

* Beach Days - Bonus points if my west coast self makes it to the east coast!

The list could go on and on! It's so very easy for me to settle in and bounce from one joy to the next during the time of year when the sun warms my skin and brings the earth to life all around me. I'm so glad God created summer!

What are some of your summer staples?

Desperately Disappointed

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Suspense happens to be a favorite genre of mine. I'm always on the lookout for a new author to add to my pool of favorites. I recently got a review copy of Sandra Orchard's book "Desperate Measures". Every now and then, a writer just doesn't grab my attention. Unfortunately, Orchard was one of those. To be fair, this is the third book in her Port Aster Series and it is very clear that this series needs to be read in order.

"Desperate Measures" has readers jumping into a mystery that has been going on for a while. The characters have been introduced and developed. Readers have a sense of what is going on and a pretty good idea of where the story is going to go from here.

Picking up a book without reading the ones that came before it in a series is rarely a good idea. This book was nearly impossible for me to read. I felt like I had missed so much. Despite the way the gardening influence that inspired the series intrigued me, it didn't make me want to go back and read the other two books that came before it. I didn't find myself in love with any of the characters or eager to make sense of the plot that ties the series together.

The slow pace was what really bothered me more than anything else. I had already invested a fair bit of time into the book when I realized that I was no closer to gaining my bearings. It was at that point that my mind was made up.

So....Tell me, have you read the Port Aster Series? Am I missing out?

If you've been waiting for the third installment, you can pick it up HERE.

*I received a review copy from Revell. All thoughts are my own honest opinion. 

Strawberry Shortcake: A Memory And A Recipe

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When I was growing up, an older couple befriended our family. Years went by and all of a sudden, we realized that they were just like grandparents to us. You've heard them referred to here as Ron and Julie. They mean more to me than I ever could have guessed when Ron replaced Vickie on my bus route or when Julie would scoot the pencil cup I was stretching to reach over to me at the library.

I loved (and still do) going to Ron and Julie's house for dinners, birthdays, and camp outs. I always looked forward to whatever Julie had dreamed up for dessert. Julie is the kind of entertainer I strive to be. She goes all out and makes it appear as though it took exactly no effort at all. One summer Julie got hooked on Schwans' shortcakes. That summer, I got hooked on them too! I tasted them and took note of them in my mind hoping to recreate a homemade version someday.

I recently came across a recipe for shortcakes at King Arthur Flour. During a big grocery shopping trip, my Mom declared that she was craving strawberry shortcake. Just like that, someday came!

This shortcake recipe is PERFECTION. It turns out shortcakes that are not quite cake and not quite biscuit. They have a smidgen of sweetness to them.

The strawberries are on right now and you've just got to make them!

Strawberry Shortcake
slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, COLD
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (Or my trusty substitute: 1Tbsp lemon juice and enough milk to make 1 cup.)

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Mix dry ingredients, cut in cold butter. Whisk together wet ingredients and then add them to the dry ingredients, stirring just until the dough begins to come together. You may add a little extra milk if your dough seems too dry. Don't add too much or you'll turn your shortcakes into biscuits.

Turn the dough out onto a pastry mat or floured counter, kneading just until the dough looks ready to press out. About 4 or 5 times.

Gently pat the dough out until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into shortcakes with a biscuit cutter. Place shortcakes onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I like to use a pizza pan), so that the edges are touching. Brush the tops with a little milk and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool before serving. If you like your shortcakes warm, just wait about 15 minutes. We like ours at room temperature, so I waited a lot longer.

(KAF says you'll get about 9 shortcakes. I think I got about 12.)


1/2 pound fresh strawberries
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbsp sugar

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Wash strawberries, remove stems, and cut them into bite sized pieces.

Mix strawberries with about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Just before serving, place heavy whipping cream into a glass bowl. Beat with a hand blender on high speed until it begins to thicken. At this point, add about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, continuing to beat until it reaches the thickness you desire.

What foods hold a special memory for you?

Do you have a favorite strawberry recipe?

I'm linking up with The Quiet Place for their Around The Table Link Up!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 5, 2015

Summer tends to create a routine and a rhythm of its own. The days are longer and packed to the gills with activities and yard work and visiting and celebrating. Somehow, the days from early June until the end of August seem to contain a slowness too.

This morning, I loaded the minivan with a picnic breakfast for my Mom and I. My brother started driver's ed on Tuesday and it leaves us with a nice chunk of wait time.  We chatted about Packer and Galatians and Jesus Christ's sacrifice over cinnamon rolls and fruit. After a while, she laid down to take a nap and I pulled out my Bible study things.

The wait time turned into a little gift. The thing is, these gifts are everywhere, all the time.

Whether you crave routine or spontaneity, embrace the slowness when you see it! Chat with your friend on the phone, pour a glass of tea and sit outside to drink it, watch that movie even though it's already 9pm. In the slowness, listen to God and watch Him work. Connect with the people around you even if you've never met them before.

That's my routine for this summer. What's yours?

Perfect Beach Read

Saturday, June 13, 2015

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite authors was Melody Carlson. She wrote a wide variety of books and they all had one thing in common, namely the fact that they never ceased to have me HOOKED.  Carlson writes novels that really don't have a lot of mystery or trouble to them. Her characters have average lives and tend to face the most ordinary of challenges. Every now and then I crave a story that is simple and really really good. That's when I look to Carlson!

"Once Upon a Summertime" happens to be Melody Carlson's latest release and it did not disappoint. The fact that this book was set in New York City basically meant that it was the perfect book to be part of my summer reading! When I realized that Anna, the main character, would be attempting to leave the small town she had grown up in and moved back to after college, I was hooked.

New York City fascinates so many people. "Once Upon a Summertime" was the perfect chance to sneak away to the city without leaving my newest reading nook. I loved Anna and her grandmother and the way that Carlson described the city, its sights, and life in it. I think she did a fantastic job!

For those of you who read books for the conversations and the interactions between characters, this book has that too! As the cover suggests, romance takes a part in the plot. What I love about Carlson is that she doesn't let things get carried away and totally admits when she's being cheesy.

If you're looking for a beachy read, this is one to consider for sure! If you're anything like me, you won't be able to put it down.  I'm so glad that Carlson continues to write. All these years later, she's still one of my favorites!

Get your copy HERE.

Are there any authors you've loved since you were a teenager?

Is there a setting that will cause you to read a book? 

* I was provided with a review copy of this book by Revell. All thoughts are my own honest opinion. 

Ask & Answer pt. 4

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 5, 2015

What's one thing you don't know how to do that you wish you did?

There are so many things! A real dream of mine is to be a writer, but getting published is something I know absolutely nothing about.  I'd love to wake up with a game plan as to how to make that dream a reality!

What kind of camera do you use? And do you have any favourite photography resources, or did you figure it out on your own?

I have two cameras. The camera that is almost always with me is my Canon SX110 (a point and shoot). My other is a Canon Rebel XTi.

I got my first camera for my 11th birthday and I've been taking pictures ever since. When I bought my Rebel from a friend back in 2012, I knew NOTHING about using a DSLR. Rob and Lauren's "Extremely Essential Camera Skills" class taught me everything I know about shooting in manual!

What do you love most (and dislike most) about the blogging culture/community?

My very favorite thing about the blogging culture and community is the sisterhood that has developed because of blogging! I have SOOO many friends that I've made through this little space. I also really love the way that almost every blogger I've ever reached out to has been more than willing to help me with ANY aspect of blogging that I'm struggling with!

The only thing that I don't like about the blogging culture and community is my inability to get over the old "everyone on the internet is a creep" mantra.  I've come to learn that there are TONS of non-creeps, but the fact that who knows WHO could be reading my blog never ceases to freak me out a tiny bit. :)

What's one thing you hope to accomplish this summer? 

I'm working on learning how to grill. Thanks to a little research, I've done a pretty nice job on rib steaks, t-bone steaks, and pork burgers so far.  I'd love to try pizza and vegetables at some point.

Please be sure to share your answers in the comments!

If you have any questions to add, feel free to leave those too!

Still Grateful

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Knowing God is the greatest joy of my life. Spending eternity in His presence is what keeps me going. There was a time when I didn't know why I existed or why my life was so hard. I became a Christian at a VBS program when I was 9 years old. They told me to read my Bible, pray, and go to church. I did that. I tried to be even better than I was before. I had a certain sense of peace that was new, but life was still miserable and I was certain that something was missing.

Everything changed during the summer that I was 15. A man named Greg helped his son Josh and his friend Adam put on a conference. Together, along with material from John Piper and RC Sproul, these men brought me face to face with the glory of God. For the first time in my life, the Scriptures that I had been underlining in the magazine style Bible my Mom had given me began to come together. I realized that the glory of God was what was missing from my Christianity. I remember being so glad to finally SEE, but also so mad that nobody had told me this before. I wondered how I had been a Christian for six years without being told the rest of the story (or really seeing it for myself).

From that moment on, I was sure to share what I had learned with anyone who would listen. I started my first blog after returning from that conference. Any chance I was given to turn the conversation or to lead a group always had me pointing people to the "WHY"  behind everything and the answer to the "Now what?" question that I had been struggling with for so long. I was grateful to those men for defining the glory of God and helping me to see that I was made to see that glory and savor it and declare it.

Nine summers later, I'm still grateful. My life and my Christianity were changed. I recently came across this post on Desiring God that took me right back to the moment when God opened my eyes:

A lot has changed over the last nine summers. In fact, I can hardly believe everything that has happened as I look back on them all. One thing remains them same, namely, the reality of the glory of God being the end all and be all of my life. My fight against sin continues, but that summer I learned that I don't fight alone. God is fighting with me and for me. He has given me everything I need and everything I'm striving for, in Himself. As I press on in Him, His glory is displayed.

"In love He predestined us for the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved." 
Ephesians 1:5-6


A Wardrobe That Works: Making It Happen

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

After I decided to make my wardrobe work for me, it was time to make it happen.

Step One: Wash all clothes and have a sorting party. I made sure all of my clothes were clean and then I scooted things around in my room to give me a big space to work in. As I emptied out my closet, I sorted things into piles according to type of clothing as well as what I wear, what I don't wear, and what I needed to try on.

Step Two: Take a break so that you can come back to the job with fresh eyes. By the time I quit on the Friday before last, I had a MESS on my hands. There were a gazzilion hangers and I was beginning to wonder if I could REALLY do this. It was so bad that I didn't even attempt to make any more progress that Saturday. I took care of other things around the house, went to a movie (Tomorrowland), and tried NOT to think about the disaster waiting for me. I was out of town the next day which turned out to be the perfect excuse to let it wait one more day.

Step Three: Finish what you started. When Monday rolled around, I decided that this job WAS going to be finished and that I really was doing the right thing. After straightening up the piles from Friday, I emptied out the chest that holds my winter wardrobe and every single drawer in my dresser so that I could sort those clothes too.

Step Four: Get a second opinion and make your final decisions. After all of the sorting, I had a basket full of clothes that I KNEW could hit the curb and a pile of things that I wasn't quite sure about. Starting with the stuff I knew I was ready to part with, I hauled each pile into the living room so that I could get some second opinions. With the bulk of the job behind me, Monday's work went pretty quickly.

Step Five: Listen to MY Mother (yes, I said MY Mother).  It was difficult at times, but my Mom reminded me that as soon as you get rid of something that you haven't needed for a long time,  a week or two will go by and all of a sudden you'll wish you had it and you'll regret that you got rid of it. I can't remember exactly what she said next, but basically it was something like, "It's going to happen. Just be ready for it and move on." 

So...That's what I'm doing.

Let's go over what I kept:

Go-To Uniform: The outfit I wear when I don't know what to wear. I love it because it's comfortable, I can wear leggings if I suspect chilly weather, and I feel put together when I wear it.

Mix and Match: These are the items that I pack whenever I'm leaving town for a a few days. I do wear a few of my favorites just because, but I kept most of them because they are my traveling clothes.

Dresses: If I'm not wearing something from one of the "uniform" categories, I'm probably wearing one of these.

Other Uniform: Along with my dresses and go-to uniform, these are the pieces that I tend to wear during the spring and summer months. 

As you can see, I kept quite a bit! There are five to six items from the mix and match category that will probably find their way out of my closet when I go through things one more time when the season is over. In the meantime, I'm just glad that I finally took the time to make this change!

Do you think you'll jump on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon?

(SIDE NOTE: I took pictures for Kiki, but you should know that I didn't photograph everything I kept. While I did cut down on my gardening/work clothes, pajamas, hoodies, and comfy clothes  stashes, I did not take the time to photograph them.)

Summer Stack 2015

Monday, June 08, 2015

I love a good summer reading list! This summer, I've got a line up of new books that I've only discovered recently, classics I've been meaning to read for years, sequels that I've been looking forward to, and a few books that will be good for my soul to savor slowly. 

As usual, I'll add a few comments about each book after I'm finished with it.

The ones in bold are the ones I'm currently reading.

Also note that each title is a link to the goodreads profile of each book!  


"Once Upon A Summertime" by Melody Carlson // This was the perfect light hearted book to kick off my summer reading! I loved the fact that it was set in New York City. I enjoyed getting to know Anna and watching her figure her life out. You can read my full review here. (May 27, 2015)

"Unspoken" by Dee Henderson // I've had my eye on this book for several years. It was not typical Henderson and left me very disappointed. I was hoping for a story with a lot of suspense, but this particular book just didn't come through. If you ask me, this is one you can skip! (June 13, 2015)

"Desperate Measures" by Sandra Orchard // I'm sorry to say that this was another book that I just couldn't get into! I shared a full review here and since posting that I've read several raving reviews on the series. Maybe it is worth picking up, but from what I could tell from this particular book, Orchard's style just isn't for me. (June 19, 2015)

"Paper Daughter" by Jeanette Ingold (YA) // Ingold is one of my favorite authors! I discovered her just over three years ago and I've passed her books onto others because I love them so much! My Mom saw this one lying around and has been patiently waiting her turn to read it. The inspiration and research for this story happened simultaneously as Ingold was researching another book of hers  ("Hitch", the book that she hooked me with). I figured things out about half way through, but that didn't make the story any less enjoyable. Without giving anything away, I can say that this book contains it all. Think news room, Chinese Immigration flash backs, and a girl trying to get to the bottom of things. Ingold weaves in historical details in a way that really boosts her stories. Grab this one right up, you'll be glad you did! (June 27, 2015)

"The Bookman's Tale" by Charlie Lovett  // If it wasn't for the brief inappropriate scenes, this book would be four or five stars. I loved the literary history that builds the plot. I loved the relationship of the main character and his girlfriend up until about half way through the book. Books and writing and figuring things out take center stage and if you are quick to skip right over the bad parts, this is one of those books that will sweep you right in. I did figure out the mystery on my own which added to my enjoyment of this one! (June 21, 2015)

"Hannah Coutler" by Wendell Berry // I've read quotes from Berry's "Hannah Coulter" and also "Jayber Crow". It turns out, this is a series and I can't wait to dig into more of them! This is the shortest book that I read in June, but the one that packed the most punch. It is the fictional story of a woman's life written by a man. The kinds of quotes you will be sure to pull from this book are pure prose, prose that is rich with the truth of everyday life that most of us miss. (June 23, 2015)

"The Beautiful and Damned" by F. Scott Fitzgerald // I was planning to get a copy of this book for my shelf from my favorite used book store. As it happened, our trip to that town got cancelled and I'm saving this book for another summer! Call me crazy, but I read my first Fitzgerald book in July so it's become a little tradition of mine to read him then. (July 19, 2015)

"The Mapmaker's Children" by Sandra McCoy // It might be too early to say this, but I'm thinking this will be one of my favorite books from this entire summer. Read it. If you need  little more convincing, read my full review here. (July 5, 2015)

"Nowhere, Carolina" by Tamara Leigh - Ended up having to swap this one for the next one in the series! Even though I can only give this book two stars (way too slow and heavy on the dueling heart throbs) the last two chapters really reached home with me. Forgiveness, trusting God (rather than trying to play God), and looking back on the good parts of the past without wishing it or tomorrow away were the lessons that Bridget needed to learn and they're the lessons that I've been learning for most of my life. This is one you can skip, but those last two chapters forced me to stew over some things that needed some attention in my own heart. (August 6, 2015)

"The Inn at Ocean's Edge" by Colleen Coble // Too much "he felt, she felt" for me! I HAD to get to the bottom of the mystery, but I skipped entire sections of this one because of the little drama going on between Claire and Luke. It turns out that I was on the right track and had nearly every element figured out on my own.  Coble's ability to really come up with a mystery that is beyond your wildest dreams is still really strong! I love the way she develops her plots and comes up with mysteries where EVERYONE is a suspect. If she would just leave attraction out of it, I'd be happy! (August 14, 2015)

"The Magic of Ordinary Days" by Ann Howard Creel // After hearing about this book for quite a while, I was excited to read it with my goodreads bookclub friends. Overall, I really enjoyed it and flew right through it! It's the perfect book for the last few days of summer and you probably won't be able to put it down. That said, it was a teensy bit shallow. Creel has a way with words that gives her writing a feeling of prose which made up for anything the plot lacked. Set in the middle of WWII, this book has a little of everything - Farm living, unwanted pregnancy, family problems, forgiveness, and a large portion of the plot centers around a Japanese internment camp. Warning: Three scenes stand out in my mind as inappropriate, especially for younger readers.  They're over in a flash, but they're there. (August 17, 2015)

"Heading Home" by Renee Riva // When I was in high school, my Mom got a review copy of Riva's book "Taking Tuscany" and passed it onto me. I LOVED that book. It was set in the summertime and it followed a girl who was leaving an island in the PNW where she spent summers with her family in order to move to Tuscany because somehow her family came to own a villa there. Everything she felt was so familiar to me even though I'd never shared her exact experiences (I wouldn't complain about heading to Italy, especially if the villa came complete with a private pool). A few years ago, I found out that there were more books in that series. Last summer I read "Saving Sailor" and promised myself that I could finish the series this summer. "Heading Home" was real and yet cheesy at the same time. I really enjoyed the book just because of the way the story finally came full circle. It gave me the closure I was hoping for and one last trip to Indian Island. (August 28, 2015)


"Watership Down" by Richard Adams // My brother and sister are doing a unit on literary analysis and I decided to join them! This book (which I've been meaning to read for the longest time) was the assigned reading. We all enjoyed it very much! I love reading books with other people because of the discussions that happen along the way. My brother's favorite character was Kehaar. My sister decided she really liked Blackberry and Dandelion. I was drawn straight to Fiver. Adams wove so much into this novel that really communicates the power of story. The Christian influence was interesting to trace and there were so many great quotes that I had to write down! As the BBC  said, "It's the shortest long book that I've ever read." ("All The Light We Cannot See" is a close second!) My final thoughts for you on this book are simply this: Don't wait to read this one!!! (June 15, 2015)

"The Melody Lingers On" by Mary Higgins Clark // I sped right through this one because I just needed to get to the bottom of things! To be perfectly honest, I kept waiting for someone to sneak up and murder someone, but this was more of a "who IS involved and who isn't involved" mind game based plot. Clark is famous for leaving breadcrumbs for her readers with the intention that they will decide which ones are clues and which ones are just distractions. I figured things out just in time, but still managed to enjoy watching her tie everything together. To Clark I say, "Well done and thanks for the trips to New Jersey (especially Verona)!" (July 2, 2015)

"The Children's Story" by James Clavell // My Mom picked this up at the library on a whim. She finished it and passed it around to the rest of us! It'll take you about 15 minutes to read and it's a book that will really make you THINK. Get a copy of it as soon as you get a chance! It's basically about the power we have in the lives of children, but also, the power that adults had in our lives when we were children. (July 12, 2015)

"The Prayer Box" by Lisa Wingate // I was craving a series to plow through and I'm always craving a trip to the beach. This book has been on my to-read list since it came out. Since the third book in the series releases next month, I knew it was perfect! I really, really enjoyed it! It's set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it's about a woman who is starting over, and it's about the place and power of prayer. This is a fiction book that doesn't feel a bit like fiction. It's not extremely well written, but it's one of my favorite books from this season. In short, you should read it! (July 26, 2015)

"The Story Keeper" by Lisa Wingate // I almost gave up on this book, but then just before I got about 200 pages in, I couldn't it down! Goodreads says that this is the second installment in the Carolina series, but it didn't really feel like the two books were related. Wingate did mention a prayer box and sea glass in this book and it did take place in NC, but that's pretty much where the similarities stop. I was intrigued by the history of Mulungeon people and the fact that the plot was set in the mountains of North Carolina. If you're anything like me, this will leave you ready to do some researching of your own! (August 1, 2015)

"The Sea Keeper's Daugthers" by Lisa Wingate


"10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health" by Donald S. Whitney // I read this book over the course of this morning! I expected to read it slowly, pausing for much reflection...but once I got started I just couldn't stop. You need to pick it up!

Some chapters will have you praising God for His grace in your life and others will cut you to the quick. The chapters on being governed by God's Word and sensitive to His presence were the most challenging for me. The chapter on grieving over sin is one that I'll be going back over in my mind for a while. The chapter on forgiveness really helped to straighten some things up in my mind. I have  feeling it was just the thing to prepare my heart for Packer's book. (June 28, 2015)

"Holy Is the Day" by Carolyn Weber // This book had some truly GOLDEN nuggets in it about seizing God (as opposed to seizing the day) and living in constant awareness of His presence. At that same time, there were Bible verses taken out of context and an over all feel to the book that wasn't Weber's best writing. Near the end, she shared some words from her pastor that will stay with me, "If you can worry, you can pray." I'm glad I read it for those chapters and sections that added to my summer studies, but it's not a book I can easily recommend. (July 17, 2015)

"A Circle of Quiet" by Madeleine L'Engle // I adore this book. When I picked it up I had no idea that it would have so much to teach me about the art of writing. L'Engle is amazing at sharing and communicating. Reading this book was like joining her for a cup of coffee. So many times I had to read sections aloud to which ever member of my family was siting nearby. Buy a copy for your bookshelf and read it. You'll be back for more, for sure! (August 10, 2015)

What's on the top of your summer stack? 

What type of books do you crave during this time of year?

If you're looking for more books that are
 perfect for summer reading:

Deciding On A Wardrobe That Works

Friday, June 05, 2015

September 12, 2014 /// As candid as it gets...

I'd like to start this post by saying, "My Mom is always right." By that I mean, my Mom is always getting into things and trying to tell me how great they are. After a few years of scoffing, everyone else gets into that very thing she was trying to get me to appreciate and THEN, I come around.

Examples: Board Shorts, Meal Planning, Harper Lee, Coconut Oil, Essential Oils, and the list really could go on for quite a while.

The latest, "Mom, you are a genius!!!" moment has to do with the idea of a capsule wardrobe. After watching my Mom trim down her wardrobe nearly 10 years ago and just keep a handful of items for each season, I thought she was crazy.

I mean..."What about that sweater that you've worn every winter?!?!? Or those shoes that go with everything...Yes, I see the scuffs, but those clogs are practically an heirloom! And that t-shirt!!!! What are you even going to WEAR?!?!?"

Fast forward to the last few years and the capsule/minimalist wardrobe CRAZE! I saw it and thought that it SOUNDED like a good idea, but one that really wasn't for me. I read post after post after post and not a single one of them changed my mind. Until last Thursday when Anne posted about the ten item wardrobe. Something clicked and I KNEW that I needed to do this. I made up my mind and set to work first thing last Friday morning.

It's been a week and I can't emphasize how great it feels to have gotten rid of ALL THOSE THINGS! Anne's post reminded me that I really do tend to reach for the same handful of items. I began to wonder why I would keep everything else when I don't ever wear it in the first place.

I didn't narrow it down to any specific number and I definitely have more than 10 items for each season, but I have a wardrobe that will work for me.

The garbage truck already came to take the pieces that were beyond hope, my sister went through and picked a few pieces she loved, and the rest of it will be given away. I decided to tote the things that I wasn't sure about. My rule is that if I don't pull it out by the end of the season, then it will be given away. I also plan to go through this season's clothes when it's over to get rid of anything that I didn't wear.

Just thinking about the outcome makes me excited all over again!

What do you think about capsule wardrobes?

Currently: June 2015

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

May 25, 2015
I cannot tell you how happy I am that June is here! The next few months are always my absolute favorite time of the year. I've got four weeks worth of fresh meal plans that I plan to put on rotation to make that part of my life a little more simplified. I just finished sorting through every stitch of clothing that I own. Summer is most definitely here and that alone is enough to make me ecstatic!!!

Today I'm joining Jenna and Anne to talk about what I'm currently...

Playing: My favorite Pandora stations and three podcasts on repeat. Sam Cooke, Glen Miller, and Christian Rap Radio on Pandora. The Briefing, Books On The Nightstand, and John Piper for podcasts. What stations and podcasts are your favorite?

Honorable mention go to backgammon and a card game called "Flinch" that we picked up at a thrift store on vacation while we were waiting for the bowling alley to open.

Going: After spending Memorial Day Weekend at the ranch, we've been driving to the city quite a bit. We'll talk more about that later. On Saturday, I went with my Mom, brother, and sister to see "Tomorrowland". Have you seen it yet?!?!

Wearing: Like I said, I went through every stitch of clothing that I own and I'm super excited to go through this season's clothes one more time when winter sets in to see if there is anything else that can be cut.

I've been hitting heavy on my spring/summer uniform (a flowy skirt that allows for leggings when necessary along with a navy blouse) and some sandals that I picked up at Wal-Mart just before our vacation to Lake Chelan. If I'm not wearing that I can be found in a maxi dress or my gauchos with a handful of shirts that I pair them with! Is it just me or is summer the easiest season to dress for?

Sipping: Water, Arnold Palmers, and iced coffee. On Monday I brewed up a little mint water for the first time and listen up, YOU'VE GOT TO TRY IT!!!

Here's what you do: I have one of those infusing waterbottles (thanks to my awesome sister!!!), so I ripped up the leaves of about 4 three inch stalks, put them into the little trap, filled up the bottle and stuck it in the fridge for a few hours before removing the leaves and enjoying the fresh minty water!

Reading: "Called: My Journey to CS Lewis's House and Back Again" which is the last book on my May reading listt and one of my favorite books so far this year! I have learned so much about Lewis from this book and I'm excited to hear more about what the author learned from his journey!

I'm also going through ""Watership Down" for a unit on literary analysis with my brother and sister. This is a book I've heard so much about, but that I've never read. So far, so good! Have you read it? 

It's been a while since we've done an Ask & Answer post! Will you please do me a favor and leave me a question in the comments?

What are you up to? 

Breakfast Nachos

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The latest hit to happen in our kitchen was Joy the Baker's Breakfast Nachos. I made them last Monday night because I was in the mood for something hearty, quick(ish), and that didn't require going to the store. I've had my eye on this recipe ever since I read Tracy's post last fall.

The recipe for Breakfast Nachos comes from Joy's second cookbook, Homemade Decadence, which I've talked about before. The cookbook is FULL of perfect recipes for any craving you have.

If you're looking for a dinner or lunch that's simple to make and will have people begging to dig in, go ahead and make this one!

You can view the original recipe HERE.

Here's my take:

Breakfast Nachos
adapted from Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence

3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 good sized potatoes (or in my case, one JUMBO)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 slices American Cheese
2-4 Tbsp milk

sour cream
green onions

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with PAM or spread a little cooking oil to barely cover the bottom.

Slice potatoes into very thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Arrange on baking sheet (you may need two sheets) in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne over potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once. You may turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end to achieve a nice crunch.

Meanwhile, brown your Italian sausage, adding the onion, fresh garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes towards the end of the cooking time.

Tear the American cheese slices into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch squares. Place them into a cereal bowl and top with a little milk. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted, stirring in between each cooking time.

TO SERVE: Place potatoes in a circle, leaving a little room in the middle for the meat. Add your scoop of meat. Top with the cheese sauce and whatever toppings appeal to you!
BONUS: Joy and Tracy both recommend adding a fried egg to the top. If that's your thing, go for it!

What was your latest kitchen success? 

Do you have any favorite food bloggers?

What I'm Into: May 2015

Monday, June 01, 2015

What I'm Watching

Gortimer Gibbon's Life On Normal Street via Amazon Prime // This kids show has been a lot of fun for the whole family to enjoy together!

Life With Elizabeth via Pop Flix // Betty White was a HOOT when she was young! I love her mannerisms.

Mr. and Mrs. Murder via Acorn TV // My Mom discovered this one and I'm so glad she did. This is an Australian show about a couple who work as "the cleaners" who come in to clean up gruesome crimes and usually end up helping to solve the case. I really love watching them interact with one another!

In the Kitchen

At the beginning of the month, I adapted this oreo frosting recipe  which inspired my sister's 17th birthday cake.

We've been grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks. We're definitely switching over to our favorite "it's wayyyy to hot outside for me to even be hungry right now" foods!

I attempted to make potato salad using a recipe I found in the latest Country Living. It needs work! Do you have any tips?

On Thursday night I whipped together a quarter batch of this toasted marshmallow syrup for my iced coffees. I had a latte with it yesterday and I think it worked! I want to do a blind taste test with a latte from my favorite coffee shop.

Last night we pulled out grape leaves and pita bread from the freezer and I made a hummus to go along with it. TIP: If you ever have an excess of leftovers, pop some of them into the freezer and they will be SURE to save the day next time  you're short on time or initiative!

What I'm Reading

I'm currently finishing up my May Stack and getting a head start on some review copies I'll be posting about soon.

I'm especially enjoying "From Good to Grace" and Melody Carlson's latest release.

I've been slacking in my Bible reading. That really needs to change.

What are you into?

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

I'm linking up with Leigh!