Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fishin’ Day @ the Neches

Oh my.  My world got a little bigger yesterday! 


We have been wanting to go fishing with our friends, they kept telling us how fun it was.  Finally, yesterday we woke up between 5:15-5:30 and got all our gear ready (yes, too much gear) and headed out about 6:15.


Along the way we enjoyed watching the sun rise – it was beautiful and changing colors and picture every couple minutes!!

february 2013 iphone fishing 033


We arrived at the river about 6:45 ready to go!

heading out fishing

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting away with some Sally (pt 2)

Did that first part of my weekend sound like fun??  Oh it was.  It was great to be in a room with almost 800 other moms who want to really lead their children’s hearts and not just their actions.

It was great!!

So, after having a quick supper and some visiting, we got back to our seats to settle in and hear what Sarah Mae had to say!!  Oh my, what a sweet young mom!!  I just loved getting to chat with her very briefly at our table, and then loved listening to her story even more! 

Sarah Mae wrote Desperate – a book recently released – that she co-wrote with Sally Clarkson.  (HOW COOL IS THAT!?)  I have had the book in my hands for several weeks, but I have not finished it, shame on me – I know!  But it is so good.  Sarah’s kids are a bit younger than mine, but I still feel like her message is very relevant to me.  And it is not about feeling desperate because your kids are out of control, more that we feel desperate because we are not plugged in to the right source.

Anyway, loved her talk – she talked about being a Free mom – we are unchained.  We have grace and can and should offer it to our kids.  That we are not perfect … and neither are those little ones.  She reminded us that we need to let go of the “but” in the “yes, we are saved by grace, BUT….”

Did I mention she is a blogger too?  Of course.  Her blog is SarahMae – and check her out too!!  My favorite thing she said was a caterpillar has 100% butterfly DNA – even though it looks like a caterpillar – and our kids are more than they look too.

Book Review : Firefly Island

I have never read a book told in the past tense, so from page one this book caught me off guard.  Lisa Wingate’s novel Firefly Island will grab your interest through her charming characters, but it will hold your interest as you learn about the mystery surrounding Firefly Island.


The main characters are Mallory and Daniel who meet on capitol hill and quickly fall into a whirlwind romance before getting married and moving to Texas all within a span of several weeks.  Did I mention the other star of the book, who you cannot help be fall in love with, Nick, Daniel’s three year old son.  Mallory tells the story, as she looks back on what happened when she met Daniel and they moved away.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting away with some Sally!!

One of my favorite weekends of the year is when I get to run away Sally-12-25-2011and see Sally Clarkson!!  I love to get away with a few friends, catch up, think clear thoughts, have some Starbucks, and get filled by a seasoned Homeschool mom of 4 who has walked this road before me. 

This year was just what I hoped it would be!  I got to get away with a friend who is expecting her first bundle of joy, a friend also homeschooling her two, and then also got to meet up with a few friends from Mansfield/Arlington days.  I almost gave up my seat to the conference this year so a friend could go.  In fact, I told her she could have my seat and then I planned to go and just have some alone, quiet time in the hotel room during the conference.  Honestly, that was just as appealing as hearing someone speak. 

However, God had other plans.  I told God I would give up my ticket so my friend could go, and if He wanted me to be in that conference there would be a ticket available on the wait-list.  And low and behold, I got the call.  I was offered another ticket and so I was able to go. 

And guess what?  It was the best conference I have been to yet.  It was perfectly what I needed to hear.  The sessions spoke to my heart for the season I am in right this moment.  It was such a blessing!


“Scripture tells us that the disciple becomes like his teacher. So, the teacher must be and live out what he wants his pupil to know and be. What you are in your home is what you are.”

Sally @


First, Clay Clarkson, Sally’s husband spoke about his book Heartfelt Discipline, which I am LOVING!!  Clay’s approach to discipline is not the normal rod style discipline.  Instead his approach is more heart based.  In the past I have read about this approach, but this time is clicked, and I am so excited to move toward applying more of this in our home.

Next was Sally to complement Clay’s talk, she talked a bit more nuts and bolts to his ideas.  I so appreciated her honesty of where they have been with this children and painting a picture of where they are now.  Seeing their family gave me tremendous hope for our future.

kat-lee-headshot-100pxThe next session was by Kat Lee, an amazing young mom with a powerful story!  She writes a blog at Inspired to Action – check her out!  I loved listening to her story and her message – to empower moms!!

That was it for our Friday afternoon sessions – then we met up for dinner in our room.  A time of food and fellowship – does it get any better??

Check back tomorrow to hear more about our weekend away -

Still to come……..

{Sarah Mae & more Sally}

Book Review : A is for Adam

I am so thankful for books from Master Books!  I love the truth in them, I love the science behind them, and I love what they offer my family!!

A is for Adam  is a great addition to our library!!  As a mom of four kids, all different ages, and not too spread out, this is the book I needed!  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with my youngest, who is desperate to join her brothers in baptism, but is not sure why.  So I knew, after she has asked many times to get “bathetized” that is was time to go back to the drawing board.


You see, in my home, my sweet 6 year old spends more time listening to our family talk about spiritual stuff that is simply too deep for her, and I have not been telling the basics to anyone for a while. 

So back to the drawing board…starting with A and Adam! 

This is a sturdy book, with an easel like set up so you can put it on a table and teach from it.  There is the front color page with the story and great pictures, on the back (facing you) there is a page of things to teach and discuss with your children. 

This book would work great in a small group setting, but it works great on my couch too!!  My daughter is loving the one-on-one time we have each morning while my boys have their quiet time.  She loves to work through the book and answer all my questions.  I especially love that this book introduces the myths of evolution at an early age!!  It lays the groundwork to help these kids understand the truths of creation!

I highly recommend this book to anyone with younger kids at home, a great teaching tool!!

NOTE : I was offered A is for Adam, in exchange for an honest review, by Master Books.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making Sauce

Normally I make spaghetti sauce in a big pot and then freeze it in ziplock bags.  This time I changed it up a bit!!

spaghetti sauce

I have decided I love to make my sauce in the crock pot.  In the pot sometimes I would get a bit burned because I could not get the heat down far enough.  So now, I prep everything.  Sauté onions and peppers, then throw it in the crock pot and let it simmer all day!!

A friend shared a recipe too – can of crushed tomatoes (maybe stewed too) and an onion cut in half.  Let it simmer about 45 minutes, take the onion out and you have great marinara sauce.  I have made it many times, so this time I made it in the crock pot too. 

So, I filled 2 crock pots – one marinara (crushed toms and an onion) and another sautéed peppers onions, and tomatoes and cooked both all day.  I did add some garlic as well to both batches, because I love garlic – and a sprinkling of italian seasonings to the pepper and onion one.

Then I got my quart jars out and sanitized them, got a boiling water bath ready and I canned 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce!!  I love that I do not have to thaw it or anything!  Ready to open, heat and pour on my pasta!!  Great for pizza sauce too!

The best part?  All 6 quarts (and 2 more in the fridge that did not fit in my boiling water bath) cost about 6.50 for the tomatoes, and whatever 2-3 onions and 2 peppers will cost. (I get them in my veggie co-op so I am not sure what I would pay for them individually)  Either way about a dollar a quart and all natural, healthy and yummy!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sprouts anyone?

Oh the fun we have had!!  We went to a sustainable gardening club meeting recently and it was so much fun!!  At the meeting we met people who are thinking like us : garden, home raised meat, and even organic!  Not everyone thinking the same, but similar and encouraging!

As part of our meeting a friend taught us all how to sprout.  I have read tons of posts about this on the internet, but never ventured out to do it.  But this time, it was different!  Cheri sent us home with a baggie of seeds, a box to raise them, and the knowledge to do it!!

Start with a plastic shoe box (or you can use other stuff, but this time we used a plastic 89 cent shoe box from Walmart)

You need a fine strainer, we have a metal one.

Pour some seeds into strainer and rinse.

Then dump into shoe box. (yes they will be wet.

little seeds 2

Cover the shoe box with lid and leave over night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review : Belonging & Betrayal

I am pretty excited to tell you about two great books today, and offer you a chance to get a copy for yourself of BOTH for FREE!!

belonging 2  betrayal200h

Robin Lee Hatcher is probably only a new author to me.  Yes, I admit, I have missed most of her books in the past.  I normally gravitate to some thriller Christian Fiction verses the romantic genre. 

I was offered a copy of both books, and to make it even better they threw in a set for me to give away.  I started with #2, since that was the one I was really supposed to review.  I enjoyed it so much, I had to go back and read the first!  While I grabbed the first, my son picked up the second and got right into it (with my permission).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review : Coconut Oil

My how I love Coconut Oil!!  I always have some on hand, and order it often to ensure I do not run out.  Order it, you wonder?  Well I order it because where I  live, the coconut oil that I can buy locally is highly refined.  So, rather than run out & buy a lower product, I try to keep some on hand at all times!!


I love it!  I use it all over my house and for tons of things!!

1.  I use it to bake with : Brownies, Cookies, muffins, Granola etc

(replace the called for oil in your recipe and go!)

2.  Hair Management : I scrunch my hair with coconut oil on my hands once I comb it out after a shower, and let it dry naturally.  I moisturizes my curly hair and keeps it from getting frizzy.

3.  I use it as a moisturizer, I simply put it on my hands and rub on my hands, arms, legs, anywhere I am dealing with dry skin.  Oh yeah, I use it daily on my face and neck.  DAILY.  This is my moisturizer for my face, PERIOD.

4.  I made Lotion Bars with it – and they have gotten rave reviews  from friends!!

5.  I stir fry with it, make soup, and saute fish and other things too.

6.  This may seem odd, but I use it for homemade deodorant too – and LOVE it!!

That is just a few of the ways we love coconut oil.

There are many options when it comes to coconut oil.  I have fallen in love with Tropical Traditions oil, not just because of the quality, but I love the heart behind their company!!

{Also, check out my give-away HERE}

Book Review : Unbreakable

I am so excited to introduce you to a “new” author, at least to me and this blog.  Nancy Mehl has written an Mennonite novel called Unbreakable.  This particular story is book two in her series Road to Kingdom.  While I have not read the first in this series I enjoyed meeting the characters of Kingdom.


This is a story about an Mennonite woman, Hope, who is engaged to Ebbie Miller.  Hope lives with her father and helps to run the town quilt store, which she loves.  The story begins when Hope is on her way back to Kingdom, from a trip to the city, when she is run off the road in her horse drawn buggie and almost killed.  Another young man from Kingdom, Jonathan, helps protect her and get her home safely. 

The conflict in the story is two-fold. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Coconut Oil Giveaway!!

UPDATE : for some reason my post went bonkers and kept repeating – I have fixed it, but deleted a few comments in the “fix.”  If you commented and did not leave your email, please re-comment so I can contact you if you win.  Winner will be announced on Tuesday!!)


Okay, it is time!! I wanted to start this giveaway today, so you could start entering, and tomorrow I will tell you what I thought of my Tropical Traditions Oil!! So sign up and then come back tomorrow to hear what I think of this oil!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(leave your email in your comments, so I can contact you if you win!)


Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:



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.

To see some other videos, check out HERE.


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.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Book Review : Rebekah

I have lots of favorite book styles, and honestly those thriller/suspense/Christian novels are my favorite.  But right after that genre, I love Biblical historical fiction. 


Jill Eileen Smith wrote Rebekah and I was blessed to be able to get my hands on a copy to review!  Jill has written a series titled Wives of King David, and while I have not read them (yet) I hope too, soon!  This series is Wives of the Patriarchs, following Book 1: Sarai

I love how a great author will spend a great deal of time researching so much about that period of time, that you feel like you are really there as you read the descriptions and the details.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, I enjoyed the details suggested about who Rebekah was before marrying Isaac.  We all know the story from the Bible, but Jill has scoured commentaries and painted a picture that fills in some of the gaps that the Bible leaves.  While these details are not important for a sound understanding of the Bible, it is fun when we get to really connect with the people in the Bible in a more intimate way (even if it is simply surmised or suggested).

My favorite element of this story was the love that Rebekah and Isaac shared.  Jill even goes so far as to suggest that their favorite different children did not ultimately divide them, that they stayed true to each other through the differences they felt for their sons.

If you like historical fiction, Biblical stories and a little innocent romance – this will be a book you would thoroughly enjoy!

Jill Smith will be the featured guest on a Live interactive Video Chat Session sponsored by “Shindig” on Tuesday February 19th at 7:00 pm EST!! It’s free to attend, and you can meet Jill and ask any questions you have for her! Go here to RSVP and find out more details about this event.

Join best-selling author Jill Eileen Smith as she presents ten facts and/or possibilities you might not know about the Patriarch Isaac's wife Rebekah. Do you have a question about the people in the Bible you've always wanted to ask? Jill will take questions about biblical characters, biblical fiction, and about any of her books in the Wives of the Patriarchs or Wives of King David series. So please, plan to join us!

The Wives of the Patriarchs

The Wives of the Patriarchs is a three-book biblical fiction series set in ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and ancient Canaan. Each story is a fictional rendering of the biblical account, focusing on one or more of Israel’s four matriarchs.

Enter a world where love isn’t always what it seems, and sincere longings can lead to devastating choices. Meet Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, all amidst a backdrop of deceit and control and a struggle to make a united family. Sometimes we must be careful what we wish for, as many of these matriarchs discovered much too well.

Jill Eileen Smith Publicity Photo3 (2)

About the Author

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of Sarai and Rebekah, books one and two in the Wives of the Patriarchs series and best-selling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of the Wives of King David series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.


NOTE : I was offered a copy of Rebekah, at no cost, in exchange for any honest review, by Revell Publishers.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We had so much fun the other night going to visit a friend’s ranch.  We got to see a baby calf that was born that day – adorable!!  It was all black with white socks on all four feet!  We saw many babies but that one earned a name and made a memory!!  The mama was with it and stayed between everyone else and her little one, she was keeping it all to herself!!


After checking out the calves and a few ponds, along with some fish feeding, we came upon some hay and a setting sun … perfect for picture taking (even if just with an iphone)!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Garden Fun

All I can seem to think about these days, as the temps hover in the high 60’s and low 70’s – is SPRING!!  I love, love, love spring!!

This year my focus is on our garden.  Making it beautiful to me, abundant in its fruit, and smart in its design – those are my goals.  So far we are truckin’ right along!

We have Kale making a come back, today I will plant some more Kale where a few plants died this winter.  Next we have cabbage starters that I planted, and other cabbage seeds that we planted.  Spinach and Lettuce went in as seeds about 5 days ago and are starting to sprout!!

garden rows

I’ve already transplanted my tomatoes into 3 inch pots, for more room and to make for stronger stems.  I have lots of herbs started in doors, and pepper plants too.  I did put my pepper plants under a low heat lamp today, trying to get them to sprout.


Meanwhile I have had some fun too.  I saw garden markers on pinterest, and while mine do not have the perfect lettering, I sure like them.  We have some bricks that we got from family,and I plan to make markers for each row.  My sweet helper even got in on the bricks, I outlined the letters and she colored them in!!

spinach markercabbage marker

Finally, in the back yard I want to put in a stone pathway – with garden stones – to get from the porch to the gate.  These kind of stones are not cheap, so I decided to make them myself.  I made them ages ago with little hand prints and kids names, this time I just wrote in some words that I will like to read as I walk along them.

cole stonelove stonejoy stonehope stone

These were made from a bag of mortar mix, some water (about a 4 cup mix to 1 cup water ratio).  Then pour into your molds. 

wet stone

Let sit for about 5 days – depending on humidity and how wet your mix ended up.  After 1 day of drying I used a paint brush handle to write my words in, and then brushed the stuff off with the paint brush. I could paint the letters for some color, but honestly, I think I like them they way they are. 

Fun on the Farm – never a dull moment!!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Birthday Fun

We had so much fun this week when we trekked up to Dallas to visit the new Perot Museum.  We were able to get in for free since we have a Tyler museum pass – this was awesome!!

So we planned to check out the museum, and then drive over to Grand Prairie to eat at Mix It Up Burger with friends!  It was so much fun!

The museum was great.  the kids enjoyed the 3rd and 4th floor, but once we got the the second floor we hung out a while.  You take an escalator up when you start straight to the fourth floor.  Then you work your way down as you go through each floor.  The second floor was all the hands on science fun!

I personally enjoyed the 4th floor bird area the most, where we met a volunteer who is a birder  - lots of good conversation!


Lunch was very yummy, not so healthy – but we all had fun!  We met up with friends and there was certainly not a quite moment while we were there!!

lunch with Byerly family

It was a great way to celebrate our oldest son’s 12th birthday!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

death by sugar…

9 layer goodnessOh my.  When I saw the picture below on pinterest I knew I “needed” to make it for J’s 12th birthday.


{Photo by}

But after buying all the ingredients, getting to the day before the BIG DAY, I realized I really cannot make this.  I only have 2 springform pans and they are not the same size.  So I did what moms do, I made it work.

ooey gooey goodness

I know, mine is not quite so pretty with defined layers, but it still tasted amazing!

So here is my version:

1 box of brownie mix (follow directions, but I substituted coconut oil for the called for oil)

1 recipe of outrageous {sugar-free} chocolate chip cookies (I will post my recipe for these tomorrow)

1 batch of cream cheese filling (from here, minus the egg yolk)

graham crackers

1 batch of chocolate frosting (from original recipe)

1 batch of marshmallow frosting (from original recipe)


That is so much sugar I am not sure I will be able to eat it.   Honestly, I think we may all go into a glycemic over-load.

So to assemble, I started with

1. brownie layer

2. cream cheese filling

3. graham crackers

4.  marshmallow frosting

{Then I chilled it for a few hours}

5.  Chocolate frosting

6. cream cheese filling

7. graham crackers

8. Marshmallow Frosting

9. Chocolate Frosting



The kids could not wait to cut into this thing.  I did make it the night before so it could set, and sponge (or something) and then we enjoyed it for J’s birthday lunch!!  Fun!

j and cake

{Update} Okay, so after having some, I was shocked at how well it went down…

all gone

It was a great birthday for my boy!!

Book Review : 5 Days to Clutter Free House

When January rolls around each year I am itching for change.  I love to change the look of my home, I love to clean things out, I love anything that results in change.

This year I was able to not only feel like doing something, but I was inspired to do something!  I was able to read through the book 5 Days to a Clutter Free House.  I was hoping to go through their 5 day process and be able to tell you how well it worked.  But life happened again, and well I did not get to implement all of their ideas.

clutter free

I love this book!  I love the premise behind it and the way they get to you a clutter-free home in 5 days!  Now, keep in mind those five days may be over a period of a month, but the actually process takes you 5 FULL days of working, and most importantly : with a Team.

That was the part that I struggled with, we homeschool so we are a bit busy, all my friends homeschool too and so they are busy, and getting 3-5 ladies together to run through this was tough.  I would love to do this in the summer though, while our kids played outside and left us alone!  I think this would be amazing!

Okay, to summarize the process you build a team, a few friends who will come to your house and help.  They do not need to be your best friends, or trained in organizing (although that would rock!).  Next you pick 5 days to work.

There are plans in the book, an invite sample you can use that will explain what you are doing and what you need help with.  You need to assemble some supplies too, the most important are boxes or bins for each room to sort stuff.

Day 1 : Floors – you are to approach it like a body.  Start with feet to knees – so lower shelves, floor, etc.  Declutter and clean. 

Day 2-5 : Well, you need to get the book, but they all represent parts of the body.

I just cannot wait.  I want to try and do this in my school building, (ugh  - it looks like a book bomb, a fabric bomb, and other stuff went off in there!) and I think the summer would be a great time to gather some friends to knock this out!

I love the way Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims wrote this book, super easy to follow, interesting to read, and fun!  I highly recommend this great little book, it is a wonderfully laid out plan that will really result in success!! 

Note : I was offered a copy of 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review by Revell Publishers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review : Fire Prophet (YA)

I am always on the look out for books that my kids can enjoy!  Part of reviewing books is getting to share them with my kids too!  SO this review is coming to you from my oldest son J (12 year old).  He read this book (in record speed) recently and wanted to share his thoughts on it, I did help a bit with the editing! Smile

The Fire Prophet is a book by Jerel Law.  It is the second in a series, but I did not get to read the first one, this did not seem to impact my enjoying it.  It is about a boy names Jonas Stone, Elisa his sister, and his younger brother Jeremiah.  Each of these children have 1/4 of their blood from angels, giving them special abilities and powers.

In the story, the main conflict is when the “bad guys,” known as the Fallen Angels, go after the Stone children and other “Quarterlings”.  Even thought the children go into hiding, they are found and forced to fight them, with the help of their parents.  While this major conflict is happening, there are other issues as well, like normal sibling rivalry.

Some truths taught in this story are the value of family and teamwork, because to insure their survival the Stone family and friends must work together.  Prayer is a key in this story, they all pray together often, realizing they are depending on God to help them.

This was a very fast paced story that draws you in from the beginning.  It was easy to follow.  I really enjoyed the story and hope to get to read the first one, and any others that follow.  I recommend this book to any other readers who enjoy spiritual style books, like the Percy Jackson series, with more of a Christian focus.

Here is the trailer of the book, which I am sure will pique your interest!

(if you are reading this through email, you need to click to the actual webpage to watch the video)


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