Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life

“Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life” is the subtitle for Nick Vujicic's appropriately named book Life Without Limits. Born without arms and legs Nick proves more able than most people. By not letting imperfect circumstance dictate his worth, Nick uses the gifts given to him to live a life without limits. He points to God as the reason for his successes and says, "If you have the desire and passion to do something, and it's within God's will, you will achieve it." Most inspirational speakers leave out the part about God's will. You can't. It's the most important part!

To live such a life, Nick pinpoints several necessary attributes: a powerful sense of purpose, hope so strong it cannot be diminished, faith in God and infinite possibilities through His will, love and self-acceptance, attitude with altitude, a courageous spirit, willingness to change, a trusting heart, hunger for opportunities, the ability to assess risks and to laugh at life, and a mission to serve others first. The part most often holding people back is finding their purpose. Nick tells a good story about finding his purpose and challenges the reader to take responsibility and then take action. Each of us possesses a gift worth giving to others to make the world a little more like heaven. Nick finds his purpose as an amazingly inspirational speaker and writer and does just that. He has story after story of how people come to accept themselves and accept God's love because of his example.

By the end of the book the message can get a little redundant; however, the truth remains. Everybody that needs a little more hope or a little more focus to achieve what God wants of them will benefit from this book. I am looking forward to my children reading it and sharing their thoughts with me. It is an easy and enjoyable read.

Go rank my review!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions of this review are my own and were not influenced by the company or author.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

I made this banana cream pie yesterday and could hardly wait for the overnight waiting for it to be done! I really enjoyed it but would probably use a little less corn starch next time. The custard was plenty thick. A good alternative to cake :)

Banana Cream Pie with Caramel Drizzles and Chocolate Sauce

(from Emeril's recipe on Food Network)

Ingredients 4 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped

3 large egg yolks

2 large eggs

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust, recipe follows (I used a premade crust - gasp!)

3 pounds (about 9) firm but ripe bananas, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce, recipe follows (I didn't make this - so sweet already although it would have been yummy!)

Chocolate Sauce, recipe follows (I used some left over chocolate fondue)

Shaved chocolate, for garnish

Confectioner's sugar, for garnish


Combine 2 cups of the cream, the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the vanilla bean, and the vanilla seeds in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Combine the egg yolks, eggs, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl, and whisk pale yellow in color. Set aside.

Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture to the hot cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon to cook out the cornstarch and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. (The mixture may separate slightly. If so, remove from the heat and beat with an electric mixer until thick and smooth.) Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.

To assemble, spread 1/2 cup of the custard over the bottom of the prepared crust, smoothing with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula. Arrange enough banana slices (not quite one-third) in a tight, tiled pattern over the custard, pressing down with your hands to pack them firmly. Repeat to build a second layer, using 3/4 cup of the custard and enough bananas to cover, smoothing down the layer evenly. For the third layer, spread 3/4 cup of custard over the bananas and top with the remaining bananas, starting 1-inch from the outer edge and working toward the center. Spread 1 cup of custard evenly over the bananas to prevent discoloration. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and the vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut the pie into 10 equal slices. Transfer the slices to dessert plates. Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream and pipe onto each slice. (Alternately, spread the whipped cream evenly over the pie before cutting.)

Drizzle each slice with the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, sprinkle with the chocolate shavings and confectioners' sugar, and serve.

Graham Cracker Crust: 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 1/4 cup sugar 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the butter and mix well. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Top with aluminum pie tin and with a circular motion, press the crust tightly into the pan. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Yield: 1 (9-inch) crust

Caramel Sauce: 3/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup whole milk

Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Add the cream, whisk to combine, and remove from the heat. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature before serving with the pie. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.) Yield: generous 3/4 cup

Chocolate Sauce: 3/4 cup half-and-half 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Scald the half-and-half and butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Place the chocolate and vanilla in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Add the hot half-and-half and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Serve slightly warm. (The sauce can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for several days, but it must be returned to room temperature before serving. Yield: generous 3/4 cup

This post has also been linked to:

Mouthwatering Monday at Southern Fairytale

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Tuesday at the Table at All the Small Stuff

Hearth and Soul at A Moderate Life

Recipe Swap at Prairie Story

Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage

Thursday, March 24, 2011

God's Promises Devotional Journal Review

God's Promises Devotional Journal: 365 Days of Experiencing the Lord's Blessings compiled by Jack Countryman is such a thoughtful collection of short daily devotions from over 20 Christian authors such as Anne Graham Lotz, Max Lucado, and Billy Graham. Each day the devotion starts with a Bible verse, contains an excerpt from a book by a Christian author and then asks question to ponder and room for journaling.

The Bible verses and readings go well together bringing encouragement and inspiration. It always frustrates me when a devotional lists a verse that cannot be obviously applied to the lesson. The questions to think about have challenged me to really look at my life and how I am applying God’s promises to it. There are some tough questions.

It is a beautiful hard covered book with the pages just as appealing. I really like the room given for journaling. I write in almost every non-fiction book I read, sometimes to the point of taking over. This gives me plenty of room for thoughts. It would make a great gift for someone interested in making devotions and reflection part of their routine. I would recommend this book for a light devotional. If you are looking for a devotional to get you further into God's word, I would keep looking.

*This book was sent to me by the Thomas Nelson Publishing company through their BookSneeze program in exchange for honest review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Break!

It's spring break and we are having a great time!

Saturday we did yard work together as a family and am always so happy when the kids think whatever we are doing, if we are doing it together, is a blast! Even picking weeds :)

We spent yesterday at the beach with friends. So much fun. I always get burnt the first beach day of the year no matter how much sunscreen I slather on. The kids must have the Peruvian skin gene from their grandfather because they are all fine and well on their way to being perfectly golden. I am red and a little tender. Do you see our sand castle in the back? The kids wanted to build Hogwarts. Playing in the sand is fun at any age!

I finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird. I love to reread classics. They never disappoint. I am also reading fluff - something by Emily Griffin. Much needed. Yesterday I received Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicjc from Book Sneeze. He spoke at out church a few weeks back and I'm very excited to review it.

We spent some time at the grandparents house this weekend and enjoyed long stretches of watching Food Network with my girls. Because we don't have TV at our house it is a real treat to relax and watch some cake challenges and Chopped with little ones that love it as much as I do. They are such cool kids!

I made Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake and it is nothing short of perfect. I am not a big cake eater but this cake was awesome. It took 30 minutes from start to finish and made with ingredients I had on hand. I froze some of it so will let you know how it holds up to freezing. Try it. Everyone involved will be glad you did.

It's Wednesday and we still have 5 more days! Woo Hoo!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We made shamrock pretzels for Mimi's class.  She dipped, flipped, and tapped off the excess then handed off to me to arrange.  It worked out well.  The idea came from Family Fun magazine.  They used yogurt covered pretzels but we wanted to dip our own.  We used green melts but next time would try white melts so the final shamrock would stand more.  Either way, they taste great!

After they dried we iced an outline on them with frosting and coated the frosting in sanding sugar. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crafting and Baking Once Again

Yea!  My classes are finally done!  I now have time for baking and crafting.  I have been seeing several chocolate chip cookie recipes lately, and although I found the perfect CCC last fall,
I am willing to test that theory :) 

The ones I made today came from a recipe over at Brown Eyed Baker (drool);  Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.    They were big and soft (a MUST with CCC for me) but not at all cakey, and perfect.  Both recipes use melted butter.  I need to go back and see if they are the same!  
Can't go wrong here. 

After the baking I worked on a quick craft that I had book marked for a while, No Slip Bookmarks at Mary Janes and Galoshes.  I have a TON of ribbon in my craft closet that is perfect for this project.  Each bookmark took less than 10 minutes.  Seriously cute!  I can't wait to find more big buttons to go with my ribbon supply. Everyone is getting a bookmark for their birthday this year :)

And, I just looked at the CCC recipe from last fall and they are EXACTLY the same.  Funny.  No wonder they both turned out perfectly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CSN Stores Upcoming Review

I love the arrival of spring but cannot grasp that it is already daylight savings time this weekend!  Where did the winter go??  We have been having absolutely beautiful weather here (although today is rainy and MUCH needed) and are spending a ton of time outside.  We have our backyard completely kid friendly to woo all the kids to hang out at our house :)  Isn't that what every parent wants?   

I'm sure you have heard of CSN Stores by now but did you know they carry wooden swing sets?  They have everything you need to get ready for spring and summer.  Patio furnature, grills, adorable sandles, and ice cream machines.  You know, all the essintials to a relaxing summer!

Go check them out and start getting your backyard ready for summer!

Can't Get Out of My Head

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What a Collection!

This book is an absolute gem!  Aiden Wilson Tozer was a pastor and author.  I just love this description of him, "Tozer combined the power of God and the power of words to nourish hungry souls, pierce human hearts, and draw earthbound minds toward God".   From the Library of A. W. Tozer: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey by James Stuart Bell is “full of almost 200 selections from men and women whose writings were instrumental in Tozer’s intellectual and spiritual formation. The highlighted writers are some of the most famous and influential minds in the history of Christianity, and the excerpts provided for you represent the pinnacle of their achievements.”

That description is a lot to live up to but in this case it is true. The readings are divided into eight chapters each with a different theme from Tozer’s life. Each reading is short but completely focused and mostly intense. There is John Wesley’s “Covenant Prayer”, a portion of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “How to Read the Bible”, Martin Luther’s “An Introduction to Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Francois Fenelon’s “Maxims of the Saints” - all great stuff. This is no light reading but readings that will challenge you. Readings that will make you think beyond what you have thought before. It is a compilation in which great treasures will be found.

I received this book free from the publisher, Bethany House Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Indivisible - A Book Review

Kristen Heitmann weaves an intriguing tale in her book, Indivisible.  In the touristy town of Redford, Colorado lives Police Chief Jonah Westfall and his many internal conflicts, revealed piece by piece throughout the story.  Tia Manning is part of Jonah’s past but it takes awhile to figure out just how they relate but the angst they have towards one another is obvious.  The two are the main force in the book and present a relationship that you need to read further and further to figure out.  There is unrest among the authorities in the town when a pair of raccoons are found mutilated.  Although it’s fairly obvious pretty early on who is responsible for this, it doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable.  The characters and their storylines are well developed so even at the end you want to know more about them or what takes place next.  I was sad to come to the end.  I will be reading more from Kristen Heitmann.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's as Simple as Scissors

I have kids that need to be busy at all times.  Sometimes I just can't think of anything for them to do.  My two year old can keep herself entertained for at least an hour if she has a steady stream of paper to cut.  I save all kinds of junk paper for this.   It's a great activity for fine motor skills as well.  Afterwards I just sweep it all into the recycle bin.   Easy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Attention Crafty Friends!!

Have you heard of the crafty swapping site whoopdwhoop????  It is so neat.  Here's how it works.....

whoopdwhoop is a currency free creative marketplace. Getting started is easy. First, you need to register. Then, once you’re registered, you need to begin earning whoops. After you’ve earned yourself some whoops, you can then use them to swap for other community member’s creations.


You make stuff, list it on the site, earn credits to buy other people's crafty stuff with no money involved.  You do pay postage for your own item once someone requests it.  After looking at the cute things that are listed it inspires me to try some of the crafty endeavors I have bookmarked and use up some materials in my rather LARGE craft closet! 

I have my eye on this cute apron.

What do you think about whoopdwhoop??

Friday, March 4, 2011

Daddy Daughter Dance 2011

Every year our church hosts a Daddy Daughter Dance.  It's one of our favorite nights of the year (I love it and I don't even get to go).  The girls start asking how long until the next dance the very next morning.  What an awesome time for all parties.  It's Marks first year taking all three.   I can't wait to hear all about it!