Friday, November 30, 2012

Summary {For the Book Lovers on your list}

I have been so blessed to read many, many books this fall and wanted to give you a quick summary of some great gift ideas!!

If you have a reader on your list, you really need to check out one of these books for them!!


  Fire of the Raging Dragon  {Military Drama, Navy, a war-type of story}

  Resurrect  {Navy pilot dies, but gets a new life in a new body, but now has to save the world…}

 Placebo  (one of my FAVORITE authors, a group go undercover to exploit a medical research facility, but there is more than expected going on}

  Soul’s Gate  {takes you to another level spiritually, great story, will make you really look at intervening prayer in a new light}



  Debt Proof Your Christmas {Mary Hunt, self-explanatory, great stories of what families do, great homemade gift ideas}

  American Patriots  {Rick Santorum, amazing historical book}

   Hot Buttons (Dating, Drugs, Sexuality, and Internet) {Great book for parents of up and coming teens, loved these}

   Farmer’s Daughter {A darling cookbook from a woman who great up Mennonite}

   Cleaning House  {Kay Wyma – will change your life and your home with your children – LOVE THIS BOOK!!}



  Christmas Pony {great for a younger reader, or a fun Christmas read}

  When a Heart Stops  {Good light fiction, romance but some action and suspense too}

  Life with Lily  {A children’s book, Lily is an Amish girl growing up on the farm.

  You Don’t Know Me  {A woman was living a new life under the witness protection program, but now “he” found her, does she run, or tell her family the truth}

There are many more you can check out if you want to see a LIST HERE too – but these are the books I have loved reading this past couple months!  I hope you find something that interests you, or that special someone you might be shopping for!!

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review : Fire of the Raging Dragon

Okay, First I must admit I am an Army Girl.  Short of allowing my boys to go to Annapolis, I am not interested in the Navy.  Well, before this book anyway!

I loved this story.  I loved the characters, all of them.  I loved their integrity, their love for the Navy and their Country.  I admit, it took a few chapters to get me hooked.  But, after that I was totally enthralled in this story. 

Don Brown has written many novels involving the Navy, but this is my first time to read him.  I will be sure to look up his other books to get my hands of those too.  I am a new fan of Mr. Don Brown.  He knows just how to weave a story together that you do not want to put down.  He creates characters that you love, and others who you will hate. 

This particular story is about the President’s daughter, a graduate of Annapolis Naval Academy who is serving on board a ship in the China Sea.  At the same time China decides that is wants to regain control of Taiwan (with a new leader in China).  So there is a war brewing and the President’s daughter is right in the middle of it.

I really cannot say enough about the characters and the story that Don Brown so expertly wove together.  He brings in a great deal of expertise, but not so much that you are overwhelmed.  Simply put, I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to read more by him!!

To read more about the book and to see a quick trailer check out Don Brown’s Page HERE.

Note :I was offered this copy of Fire of the Raging Dragon by Zondervan Publishers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions {2012}

Each year we tweak a bit here and there.  I feel like a tradition junkie at times, I want to make sure we have the best memories from these years as my four kiddos go out and start their own families.  I want them to want to come back and re-live some of the things we do, and I hope they take some ideas into their own homes.

our tree

This year we are doing our normal thing, we decorated the tree right after Thanksgiving – I cannot seem to help it, I cannot wait!!  I love our treasure boxes that the kids store their own ornaments in.  They each have a box, with all their homemade ones and the gifts they get each year.  They get those out first and they get to don all their gifts onto our tree. 

treasure boxes

We love these boxes because they “own” them.  They love to see all the fun things they made when they were “little” – and they talk about where each one came from and when they got it as they pull them out.  I love that!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE our Jesse Tree devotion from Ann Voskamp – if you have not checked it out YOU MUST!!  We love this.  I love this.  My kids could probably teach it to others.  This is something I hope we never give up.  The past three years I have been making a few of the ornaments each year, not sure how many I have left, but this has been a labor of love.  Now to start making 4 sets of ornaments to send off with my kids – that is the next project!

This year we are going to count down the last twelve days of Christmas a bit different.  I read how someone was going to have little gifts for the kids to open each day.  With 4 kids – 12 days – that is TOO many gifts – honestly, too much junk!!

So, I am tweaking it.  I will have 4 things each morning to open (I am thinking cloth gift sack to reuse every day) – inside will be an item to use to make something.  For instance : Cardstock, stamps, ink & markers = Cards.  White Chocolate chips, cherries, recipe card & gift sacks = Hootycreeks (our favorite Christmas cookies).  And after we get to assemble the gift, we are going to go deliver to someone. 

homemade ornament

Did I mention that I am giving the kids things we already have (for the most part) except for a few perishable ingredients.  So this really will not add much to our Christmas Budget – just for things I would already make and give away – instead the kids will be really doing most of the work!! 

I am so excited about this new project!!  They will love the craft/baking part – and they will also love the giving away part.  I do plan to make enough to keep a bit for us too, but the focus will be on the giving.  I cannot wait to start this, but still lots of planning!!

And I will confess, we may take 2 of our 12 days for stay in a watch a movie day – but if we can have 10 days of giving I will be thrilled!  I think this {possibly new tradition} idea may be just the thing to help us remember that it is not about the gifts we get, but the gifts we give!!

Here is my list so far for

12 Days of Christmas Giving:

1.  Cookies

2.  Homemade cards

3.  Hot cocoa gift basket

4.  Chocolate nut clusters

5. Carmel Popcorn

6.  Gift tags

7. Felt Ornaments

8. Felt Nativity

9. Games & Cards (maybe take to play at Nursing Home?)

10.Homemade bread

11.  Movie Day

12. Nativity Craft with terracotta pots

One more thing to add, this year I am going to wrap our Christmas books – so that I can be sure we read them all and build the anticipation each night as we unwrap one.  I plan to use left over past paper – maybe even newspaper – just the idea to get it wrapped.  I think the kids will like this.  We will start that as soon as I count our books and count back from the 25th – should be fun!!

Here’s to hoping it goes well, the kids enjoy it and that they “get” it!!

katie under the tree

Hope you are enjoying many happy traditions in your home!!

Book Review : Debt Proof Your Christmas

I love this time of year.  I love the decorations, I love making and buying gifts, I love all the traditions leading up to Christmas Day.  However, I do not love getting up on December 26th and knowing that I will be paying for my December for weeks, months, or years later.  Thankfully, we have not done that in many, many years.

I love Mary Hunt.  I love all of her books! 

Most recently I reviewed Raising Financially Confident Kids and loved that book!  This time around I get to tell you all the reasons I loved Debt Proof Your Christmas!

I love how straight to the point Mary Hunt is.  She is very transparent and will tell you all the crazy mistakes she made in her younger years.  She is not afraid to reveal how in debt she went one Christmas in an attempt to get the “perfect” gifts from a very high end department store since they were the only ones who would extend her credit!

My favorite part of this book was not all the great info, the suggestions to plan ahead and plan well, not to pay cash, but the best part was the little vignettes at the end of each chapter.  These little stories are direct from fans of Mary’s, and they share what they do.  I loved the traditions that many shared that do not cost anything but were so special!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review : Resurrect



Resurrect is an action, thriller with a bit of science fiction.  I did enjoy this book and would highly recommend it, I would say though, I think this book is geared more to a male reader, and an adult at that.  I was sad to say there was a bit adult content that precluded my oldest from reading it, nothing inappropriate for an adult, just not for an eleven year old.

I loved the military aspect of this story, as the main character was a former Navy fighter pilot and one who is involved in many Black Ops.

This story is about Josh, former Navy pilot who is in a “fatal” accident, but somehow is rebuilt into a new body, but same mind.  He then is tasked to save the world from a comet set to hit the Earth in 2 years.   While this is a fiction story, there is a tremendous amount of information about comets and meteors, and black operations – not all related.  I learned tons of information about these topics and was thoroughly fascinated.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story, except for Josh’s temporary roommate (the reason my son cannot read the book, he is a player) and really was not sure why this very brief story line was included.  Oh well, it did not stop me from enjoying the book at all, just kept me from passing it down.  I really enjoyed the development of Elizabeth, Josh’s friend and love interest.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Lists {to do/not do}

SO, do you encourage your kiddos to list out all the things they are longing for on Christmas day?  I ask because this time of year it about drive me crazy when you are in line at __________ (fill in the blank) with your kids and the sweet elderly man/woman near you asks the kids if they made out their list yet?  Have they been good?  Are they expecting great things from Santa?


I love that they engage my kids.  I love that they are friendly.  But please, we battle selfishness daily in my home.  I deal with it, and I see it in my kids every time I turn around.  They will spend 2 hours at the food pantry giving food to people who have no money to buy food, and come home and complain about what I serve them.

My boys worship catalogs.  Thankfully, not bad ones, but really?  You have more things to play with than you have time to play with them and you think you need more.  You, my sweet children, have bought the lie that more stuff, different stuff will make you happy.

So, we, here in my home, we abstain from lists.  I do not even ask them what they want.  Because , honestly I know my kids.  I know what they need, what they will delight in long past Christmas morning.  I know the gifts that have mattered through the years.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review : The Christmas Pony

Well, it’s time.  Christmas is nearly here! 

This is my first Christmas book this year.  The Christmas Pony was written by Melody Carlson, I reviewed her book The Christmas Shoppe last year!  That was a sweet book for the holidays and this one is too!

The Christmas Pony

Honestly, I read this book in about 3 hours, it is a delightfully sweet story!  The story takes place in 1937 when Lucy, an eight year old girl, wishes for a pony for Christmas.  Not just any pony, no she wants Smoky.  A pony she has grown to love through her gifts as she walks by his home during her week.

Lucy is a sweet little girl, who you will instantly love.  Her father has passed away and she lives with her mother and Grandmother. 

This story is one that will kick off your holiday spirit in full fashion!  It is a story of making due with what you, but more, being content with what you have.  Seeing how Lucy makes the best of everything she faces is very encouraging.

This is a perfect story to share with the family as a read aloud too.  I plan to have my boys read it as we get closer to Christmas, while I know the main character is a girl, I think they will both enjoy the story and the message!

I think this would make a great gift to pass along to a friend as the Christmas season approaches.

NOTE : I was offered a copy of The Christmas Pony, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review by Revell Publishers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran’s Day

while taking pics yesterday we were playing with shadows, they announce they are going to salute.  This is what I got when I looked at it on the computer while editing!  I remember hearing J correct A and tell her she was using the wrong arm….

veterans day salute with shadows-001

I love their patriotic hearts, but boys – WRONG ARM!!

(Love it still!)

Happy Veteran’s Day too all those who have served and are serving!  We sleep better thanks to your sacrifice!!

Fall at the Farm (minus a few animals)

A few pics from yesterday at the farm…

fav 4 good pond b

One my favorite ones of all four of them – I love this one!!

fav ag on dock 2-001

My sweet girl – growing up way too fast!!

fav Jacob wood pile 2-001

My boy who is almost eye with me… ugh!

A handsome boy turning into a man before my eyes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Great Song

We heard this song about 2 weeks ago, and my kids are still singing it.  So I decided to share and maybe you will be hearing this song sung all day in your house or at least your mind!



Have a blessed day – we all have so much to be thankful for!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Are you using Coconut Oil Yet?

If not, what are you waiting for?  Maybe some free coconut oil?  Well, stay tuned, shortly I will be offering some Free Coconut Oil to some blessed reader!!

Meanwhile, if you are wondering what you would do with Coconut Oil, well let me help you out!!

I use it in my home in the following ways:

In my Hair

  Almost two years ago I joined the Poo-Free movement.  I stopped using traditional shampoo and conditioner.  If you do not know what is in those products you need to check it out!!  Instead, I started using Baking Soda and water to wash my hair, and vinegar to condition it.  As a styling product I use a little bit of coconut oil.

   These days I am still Poo-Free, but I use the above mentioned products as well as a spray bottle with a mixture of Dr Bonner soap, vinegar, and some coconut oil as a all in one wash once in a while.

As a Lotion

  As for lotion, I hate that there are all sorts of poisons in our lotions, if you do not believe me check it out!  Formaldehyde is in most dove products for goodness sake!!

  So I use coconut oil as a moisturizer.  On my freshly shaven legs it is wonderful and never irritates.  I use it on my hands, arms, anywhere I feel like I need some lotion.

In my Kitchen

  Finally, the fact that I can use the same coconut oil in my kitchen to cook with and eat, is the best part!  I am putting something on my hair and skin that I can eat.  Guess what?  I feel much better about that than all the warnings on every other product on the store shelves that I used to use!!

   I love to bake with coconut oil, replace it as a 1 to 1 for butter, or any other oil in your recipes.  I fry fish in it, I fry lots of things in it.  And yes, some coconut oil has a coconut flavor, but we never seem to mind it.  My new coconut oil, however, does not have that flavor so you would never know you are using a healthier oil!!

   I love to use coconut oil in my granola, cookies, and even our oatmeal in the morning!!

If you want to see more uses check out TipNut.

So, What are you waiting for? 

Try it out!

Where to find it?

Well, a great place is Tropical Traditions because they sell an amazing product!  If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you!  It’s a win/win!!

You want to get the Virgin Coconut Oil, and look for Cold Pressed, un-refined, and non-hydrogenated.  This will make sure you get the best quality oil!

A little bit more about where this coconut oil comes from…..

To see some other videos, check out HERE.

Stay tuned, the give-away is right around the corner for this Quart jar of Coconut Oil!!

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A little R&R

I can honestly say I have never spent more than a few hours in my home alone.  Never.  Until this week!

My sweet husband took our brood of children camping and I got to stay home.  I almost tried to talk myself into going, really guilting myself.  I mean, I do not want them to go off and have all this fun without me!

But the reality was that I knew I would get more out of being home alone than going with them.  I knew a little quiet time, a little sewing time, and a little napping too – would all equal a much happier mom!  So I did stay.  And I spent two and a half days doing just those things.  I sewed a few Christmas gifts for my kids.  I read a whole book on Wednesday from cover to cover!!  How cool is that? 

I also made some yummy chili for my gang to come home to, and a pumpkin pie will be made tomorrow for dinner as well!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

I love to make granola.  I cannot make myself buy it hardly ever.  Since I love to make it, I really enjoy having it for breakfast but the side dish with granola is yogurt.  Yogurt is getting more and more expensive!  Not to mention you have to be careful what you buy these days with all the additives they throw in!!

I have read and heard over and over how easy it was to make yogurt, but I never really believed.  Then I saw a pin on Pinterest, and I followed it and was finally convinced.  Here is the post that inspired me.

Here are pics of my second batch of yogurt. 

3 qts yogurt

I have made Greek yogurt both times now, and we are thoroughly enjoying it.  Normally, I buy 2 kinds of yogurt, 1 qt of Greek and 1 qt of regular.  Greek for me and regular for the kids (the price is almost twice for the Greek, hence I only get it!)

Book Review : Placebo

If you did not read my review of Steven James book The Queen – you should click right over there and read it!  It should give you a bit of a heads up on why I jumped at the chance to review another book by Steven James : Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel (The Jevin Banks Experience)

I love, love, love Steven James (up there with Dekker in my mind)!!  And while this book is completely different from the Patrick Bowers series of The Rook, The Knight, and The Queen, I still loved it!  I kind of thought this would be like those other ones though.  Just different.  But I was wrong!

Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel (The Jevin Banks Experience) is the first in the Jevin Banks Experience series.  I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved that you had to use a bit of your brain to get it and understand it.  I like books that make me think, just a bit!  This was one of those. 

Jevin Banks is the main character of this book, he is a man who was once a magician, but after the tragic death of his wife and sons, he decided to change his profession.  He now follow up on something he thinks is a hoax, goes “undercover” to investigate and then produces a show revealing the information he gathered.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun Times

We have had a great week here at the Cole Farm!

We were able to play with friends again!

We also got all dressed up for the Fall Festival at our Church – lots of fun there too!!

Book Review : American Patriots

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to read out loud.  We do lots of this for school but it does not end there.  We have recently enjoyed Robert reading the Hobbit, we are currently enjoying The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. 

American Patriots is a book that we loved listening to as a family.  My boys have decided they just love history, and honestly I have to admit I do too!  I hated history as a kid, but now I think it is the way I was taught more than the subject!

So when we were offered a chance to review American Patriots, I knew our family would love it!

When it arrived I was thoroughly impressed with this little hard back book, a great patriotic cover, and chapter after chapter of many lesser known American heroes!  It is a small book, and one that easily fits in my purse, so we even enjoyed a chapter at Pizza Hut while we waited for our pizza to arrive!

This is a book that tells the stories of several individuals.  It is a historical book, a biography, and a captivating story all in one!  I highly recommend this book if you want to re-learn the truth about our country’s history.  These people who sacrificed so much, are so worth knowing.

PJ and book

Here is my biggest history buff, with this amazing book!

We really enjoyed the fact that many of these heroes are not the normal ones you learn about in your history class.  I liked that they were new to us, and that we were able to learn quite a bit about them even though they normally were under the radar in a traditional history book.

Personally I loved that Rick Santorum wrote this book, his love for our country is so obvious on every page as he recounts these stories.  I thought he did an amazing job painting a picture in your mind that makes you feel like you were there as you learn about these patriots.

I highly recommend this book, it would make a great Christmas present for the student, the historian, or the reader in your life!

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012. His grassroots approach to campaigning catapulted him to frontrunner status. Prior to running for President, Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007. Rick and his wife of 22 years, Karen, are the parents of seven wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Isabella. Also an accomplished author, Rick penned the 2005 New York Times best seller It Takes a Family.

NOTE : I was offered American Patriots, at no cost in exchange for an honest review, by Tyndale House Publishers.


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