Monday, May 04, 2015

Book Review: A Faight of Her Own by Kathleen Fuller

A Faith of Her Own is written by Kathleen Fuller and is published by Thomas Nelson.

I admit it. When I want to read a book that makes me feel good by the time I'm finished, I go for an Amish story. Kathleen Fuller is one of those authors who has perfected this particular genre. She doesn't explain what each Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch, coming from German) word means throughout the text, but rather gives you a glossary at the beginning. I like that because it makes the story flow better for me.

 A Faith of Her Own is a story about a certain young man, Jeremiah, who left the Amish community to become a veterinarian. He comes back to his hometown in order to fill in for the local vet - the one who gave him his start - after the man broke his leg. Anna Mae is a childhood friend of Jeremiah's. She has been getting more and more restless since Jeremiah left. Somehow she has to figure out what it is that is causing her distress. 

As Anna Mae and Jeremiah get to know one another again, a volume of questions and decisions to be made assault them. Ultimately, it is God's plan that will win.

As a I said before, Kathleen Fuller is a master when it comes to writing Amish stories. This one does not disappoint. I loved the sweetness of the story. The plot is solid and each word builds up to the climax wonderfully. And at the end, I had that deep sigh instant when I knew I'd read something that gave me that feel good moment that I love to have.

Religion is brought up in this book. It has to be, because religion plays a significant part in the lives of the Amish. I love how the love of God does not come across as a preaching but as an integral part of everyday life. That is how it should be in every believer's life. Is it in yours?

As an aside, I came across an interesting website this morning that easily answers some questions people might have about the Amish. You might want to check it out here.

*I received A Faith of Her Own in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinion is my own.*


Menu Plan Monday - May 4

Spring has finally come to northern Michigan! It feels like summer to us because summers up here usually don't get much past the low 70s on good days. Today it was almost 80 degrees F. I love it! I have begun working in the garden, planting a few cold weather crops. I have little tomatoes started in the house, but won't put them out until all danger of frost is gone - and then we'll still have some frosts in June, as we almost always do. The fresh air and sunshine is good for the body. If you are able to, please get a few minutes out there! Here's the plan for the week:


Steaks on the grill


Garlic Toast


Cheesy Chicken & Rice
Roasted Cabbage


Fried Potatoes
Green Beans


Pizza & Pop


Veggie Burgers


On Your Own 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Product Review: EC Technology® Multi-functional Car Jump Starter and Portable External Battery Charger

When I was asked to review the new Multi-functional Car Jump Starter and Portable External Battery Charger by EC Technology®, I was thrilled. Last summer, I was out shopping when my car died in the grocery store parking lot. I could not get the battery to turn over - just that dreaded "click". Nobody seemed interested in helping me, so I called my son who headed over in his police cruiser to jump start the battery. I could have done the job myself if I had carried a handy little kit like the one above.

The whole thing in its padded case measures roughly 3 1/2" x 8 1/2" x 2". The battery pack itself is small - 0.6" x 0.3" x 0.1". It is solid and charges by plugging into any standard outlet. It comes complete with jumper cables, car charger, USB cable, and main charger.

The battery charger itself is multi-functional in that it is also a flashlight (powerful LED) that has a blinking setting and a red glow setting that would be very useful if you find yourself stranded at night and need to get someone's attention for help. You can plug cell phones and tablets into it for charging while on a trip or otherwise. 

According to the specifications by the manufacturer, you should be able to charge your battery up to 20 times on a single charge. That's pretty good for a small charger like this one.

The best thing about the kit? It works!

I absolutely love this jump starter kit by EC Technology®. I am going to keep it in the back of my van in one of those cubby holes there so it won't get kicked out of the vehicle by accident. As padded as the case is, I am not worried that it will get bumped and broken. The whole thing is small enough to fit in the glove box, but I have too much junk in there to fit another slip of paper!

For all of the specs concerning amps and volts and all of that other fun stuff, check out the product page at I think you'll find, as I did, that this is a pretty nice product to have in your vehicle at all times.

*I received this product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinion is my own.*

Saturday Scripture Speaks - May 2

Psalm 30:5 (KJV) says,

"For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

This verse always speaks to me. It doesn't matter where I am at the time or what I'm doing. We all suffer hardships. Personally speaking, I have watched my life go in waves. I have experienced incredible highs, as in the births of my children, my wedding day, - those times when everything seemed to be right with the world.

There were other times, however, when I didn't know if I would be able to manage the deep holes that seemed to be developing all around me. Those were the times that our financial condition was the lowest, times when family and friends turned on us, the times when we suffered physical trials (my son still suffers kidney disease from Henoch Schonlein Purpura onset 2 years ago) - those times when we honestly thought we wouldn't survive.

The highs and the lows are like waves in the ocean. They swell and then they fall. They go up and down throughout our lives. After coming out of a difficult time we might be falsely led to believe that all will be rosy from here on out. That's a false security and we should be on our guards. The hard times come and go, but they will come again. 

Rather than despair, we need to draw our strength from Christ for God's Word says that we have LIFE in Him. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

We will mourn and suffer at times while we are still here in these perishable bodies. But someday we will awake in God's presence and every tear will be wiped away as we rejoice forevermore!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: Kiss the Cowboy by Julie Jarnagin

Kiss the Cowboy is written by Julie Jarnagin and is published by Redbud Press.

In this quirky novella, Lucy Pickett is a chef who hopes to cater a fancy wedding reception. She's capable and all looks good until a friend from her past, Dylan Lawson, saunters in to fight for the same catering gig. Dylan is not the same young boy she once knew, but is now a tall, handsome cowboy. He shares Lucy's love for cooking, but that's where it stops. She is refined. He cooks up Rocky Mountain Oysters and thinks that a grand item to serve at a swanky wedding reception. The battle begins.

I have to say that I enjoyed this short read by Julie Jarnagin. It is funny but still has that romantic element in that all women seem to enjoy. It is a romance and that's about all there is to it, but I still liked it. I like Ms. Jarnagin's breezy writing style and her ease of writing dialogue. It's a great read and one that you can finish in one or two sittings.

*I received a copy of Kiss the Cowboy in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinion is my own.*

Book Review: The Crimson Path of Honor by M. B. Tosi

The Crimson Path of Honor is written by M. B. Tosi and is published by WestBow Press.

In this book, the third in the Indian Path series, Luci Garling is a pretty, petite girl born into an affluent home. In order to escape an arranged marriage, she sneaks off to the west via train with a man she barely knows. When she says goodbye to her traveling companion and continues to travel westward by coach, her plans are cut short by an attack by the Lakota tribe. Luci is the only survivor but she does not escape. Instead, she is taken captive by the chief's son. The rest of the book pretty much follows Luci's life among the Lakota tribe. She is now called Morning Star and she has fallen in love with the very Indian who kidnapped her. He is skilled at killing and scalping his victims. Not only that, but once he becomes chief, he knows that he cannot marry anyone other than a Lakota woman. Morning Star now fights for her man.

I cannot say that I particularly care for this book. I found it to be almost unbelievable in the way that Morning Star completely took to the Indian way of life, not really caring anything about her heritage as a white woman. She didn't seem to miss her family or others that she once knew. Also, in the mid-1800s, doctors like Luci's father really weren't all that affluent. Most were poor. Reading about a rich doctor during that time period sort of left me feeling bewildered.

I don't feel that story appropriately addressed the spirituality of Morning Star in the way that the author likely intended it to. Some of the "love scenes" made me think more that I was reading a mainstream novel rather than Christian fiction. I will say that the author did not cross the line, but she did seem to come close.

In the end, I read the story and enjoyed parts of it. However, it did not feel real to me and I was left feeling confused. 

*I received a copy of The Crimson Path of Honor in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.*

Monday, April 27, 2015

Menu Plan Monday


Deviled Eggs

Tuesday - Amanda Cooking

Beef Pasta
Green Beans


Baked Pork Chops (slow cooker)
Mixed Veggies


Mini Cheesy Meatloaves
Smashed Potatoes
Roasted Root Vegetables


Pizza & Pop


Burgers on the grill


On Your Own

Monday, April 20, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - April 20

Here's wishing everyone a good week! We are to expect high temperatures only in the 40's this entire week, so I am hoping to make warm, comforting foods.


Grilled Pork Loin Chops
Baked Potatoes
Mixed Veggies


Baked Steak and Gravy over Egg Noodles
Green Beans




Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
French Fries


Pizza & Pop


Chips & Dip


On Your Own

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review - Fairy Tale Romance Collection by Melanie Dickerson
The Fairy Tale Romance Collection contains five of Melanie Dickerson's bestselling and loved books for young adult readers. The titles are: The Healer's Apprentice, The Merchant's Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, and The Princess Spy. The collection is published by Zondervan.

Before I write any further, I'd like to explain, from a librarian and writer's viewpoint, what the young adult genre of fiction really is. Many older adults shy away from the YA section in libraries and bookstores because they think the books are likely childish in the writing and subject matter. Not so.

YA books are categorized as such because they leave out, for the most part, heavy sexual content, excessive language, over-the-top gore and violence, and other aspects that would garner an R or even X rating if they were made into movies. This doesn't mean that the plots and writing styles are watered down and sickingly sweet. On the contrary. Think of some books that made it on the big screen: The Fault in our Stars, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, etc. These are all listed as Young Adult books in our library card catalog.

As for the books I am reviewing now, Fairy Tale Romance Collection, they each contain aspects of good quality writing. I asked my teenage daughter to read them along with me. She was fascinated with them and finished all five in a couple of weeks. She has asked if I could find her more!

As for me, I love Melanie Dickerson's writing style and I applaud her for writing Christian romance that incorporates the princess theme within them. Young girls (and some of us older ones) will always be enthralled with the princess stories, hence the popularity of Disney and their continuing to reinvent the old princess yarns like Cinderella and Snow White. They just never get old.

I think that, of the five stories by Dickerson, I like The Princess Spy the best. It is filled with a mysterious element that keeps me flipping the pages. The other titles are wonderful too. The Healer's Apprentice involves a mysterious woman who is hiding - from what? The Fairest Beauty reminds me a bit of Sleeping Beauty, probably because of the jealous stepmother and the lead character running away to escape her wrath. In The Captive Maiden, a ball is held by a boy (all grown up) who is now looking for a mate. Remind you a bit of Cinderella? It doesn't follow the traditional Cinderella theme, however. In The Merchant's Daughter, I had a more difficult time trying to find a parallel in the old princess stories, however, it finally clicked that this was a bit like Beauty and the Beast.

Honestly, I loved them all.

If you want to read good, clean books that are well written and will keep you reading and then asking for more, don't overlook the Fairy Tale Romance Collection by Melanie Dickerson. Then ask your librarian to find you more titles in the YA genre.

*I received Fairy Tale Romance Collection in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.*

Monday, April 13, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - April 13

I watched a video last night that shows how to make homemade potato chips. More and more restaurants are offering homemade chips because they are - well - delicious. If you are interested in trying this yourself, watch the following video. As a side-note: I don't know why you couldn't try this with sweet potatoes to sneak in extra vitamins.

Here's what I am planning to serve my family this week:


Wisconsin Potato Cheese Soup (recipe below)
BBQ Pork Chops


Meat Loaf
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans


Chicken Noodle Casserole
Mixed Veggies
Homemade Bread


Pizza & Pop

Friday (Jonathon's Birthday)

Taco Bar
Birthday Cake


Burgers (including veggie)
Potato Salad


On Your Own

*Wisconsin Cheese Soup*

1/3 c. chopped celery
1/3 c. chopped onion
2 T. olive oil
4 c. peeled, diced potatoes
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash paprika
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, saute celery and onion in olive oil until tender. Add potatoes and broth. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Puree mixture in blender until smooth, then return to saucepan. Stir in milk and seasonings and blend well. Add cheese and stir until melted. Makes 4-6 servings.