Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review - The Berenstain Bears' Holiday Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult by Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears' Holiday Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult is written and illustrated by Mike Berenstain and is published by Zonderkidz.

To give you a little bit of an idea of what this book is about, I will begin with saying it is filled with beautiful, colorful photographs of, what I believe must be, tasty food. All of the recipes are kid friendly, but they do require adult supervision. They involve using a stove and, sometimes, sharp knives. That said, the kids can do most of the preparation themselves. 

The recipes are not always what people consider to be healthy fare - something that is the craze in these days of overweight, unhealthy children - but they ARE foods that kids will like to eat. The one that caught my eye immediately is on pages 58 and 59: "Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob". This corn has a rub of mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, chili powder, pepper, and parsey on each plump ear of corn. 

There is a holiday theme in the cookbook, obviously. At the beginning of each "chapter" is an introduction to the holiday, such as 1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us - for Valentine's Day. This introduction is in the form of a very short, one page, story.

Okay, so I love this little cookbook, which really isn't all that little. This is a hardcover, well thought out book of 96 pages. I give it a 5 stars because I really like it and I believe it to be something that parents and children can do together, something that is becoming rarer by the day.

*I received a copy of The Berenstain Bears' Holiday Cookbook in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Friday, August 05, 2016

Book Review: Prince Noah and the School Pirates by Silke Schnee

Prince Noah and the School Pirates is written by Silke Schnee and illustrated by Heike Sistig. It is published by Plough Publishing House.

I have just been aching to read a good picture story book and found a gem with this one. Prince Noah and the School Pirates is a story of learning and growing. Prince Noah and his peers go to school aboard five ships - one for boys, one for girls, one for those with sight limitations, one for those with one leg, and one for those who were a little slower to learn. Prince Noah himself has Down syndrome. 

Aboard those ships, the children found they each reacted to learning in a different way and each one of them was valuable to the group, especially after they were captured by pirates.

What I love about this story is that those with disabilities and those without them are each given their place in the sun. We are all special and have special abilities, no matter the physical setbacks we might face. 

The story is filled with learning, adventure, and words that remind each of us to be kind and considerate to one another, to encourage each other. I love that. 

I can't leave this review without putting in a plug for the illustrator. Heike Sistig has drawn beautiful full color pictures that depict the story quite well. They are sure to capture the eye of the youngest readers/listeners.

*I received a copy of Prince Noah and the School Pirates in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, August 01, 2016

Book Review: Go Big or Go Home by Scotty McCreery

Go Big or Go Home is written by Scotty McCreery with Travis Thrasher. It is published by Zondervan.

Who doesn't love Scotty McCreery? He came to our town last month for Big Ticket Country Night. He sang to a packed out audience outside at the annual music festival. Many will give him acclaim for his charm as well as his honest love of music. More than that, they will give him acclaim for his honest love of God.

This book starts out with some background information about Scotty's first experiences with music - that of Elvis Presley. It goes on to spend a great deal of time chronicling Scotty's experience with the American Idol competition. The last part of the book tells about what has happened in his career and life since winning American Idol. Some pictures are included in the middle of the book.

I enjoyed reading this story because Scotty McCreery is one of the rare secular performers who has a strong Biblical faith. He seems very sincere and has certainly been blessed.

The book is interesting but is written in a funny form. The grammar goes from being in the present to the past at odd times. I think that this is on purpose for whatever reason, but I tend to find it a little distracting. All in all, though, the book is well written and informative. Scotty McCreery fans will love the insight into his life.

*I received a copy of Go Big or Go Home in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Products and the Joy of Reviewing

I would like to share with you some new products while at the same time encouraging those of you who would like to receive free products in the mail. For some time I have been a customer of and have reviewed some of the products I purchased. Over time, I started receiving requests from companies that sell on Amazon to give honest reviews concerning samples they would send me. I said yes to some and no to many more. If I won't use the products myself or find them to be grand gifts for others, I won't waste my time or their money receiving their products. Below are some samples I received from

This is a great shopping bag made from at least 95% recycled plastic that is woven. It is sturdy and roomy, colorful and very cute. The handles are a canvas type material and are firmly sewn on. Great way to use up plastic otherwise thrown away. The bag measures about 15 inches across and 16 inches deep. I can see myself using it a lot when our new Aldi store opens up.

Dryer balls are something I don't think I'll ever tire of. These are great. They are reusable and are handmade using 100% wool from New Zealand. They are chemical free which makes them not only great for my sensitive skin but also gentle on the clothes dryer. In the past, I used dryer sheets. Little did I know that the chemical on them plugged up the lint trap which, in turn, caused my dryer to burn up. Now I only use liquid softener in the washer or dryer balls in the dryer. Other times I just like to hang the clothes on the line and let them soak up the sun. The label on the package says that the balls will last up to 1,000 loads of laundry.

This is a huge juicer/squeezer! I find it to be heavy and very well made. When I say heavy, I mean to say that is constructed of quality stainless steel, not flimsy aluminum or steel that makes you wonder if it is really steel. It works great and juices lemons/limes completely. As large as it is, I bet I could juice oranges in it too. There is a hanging ring on the top to make it easier to store for those who like to hang their stuff. This is an item that I feel would make a great shower gift.

The zester/grater that I received is certainly different than others I have used. This one slices. It also is heavier than the usual zester, the handle easy to grip as well. I probably won't use this tool as often as I will the other ones, but it is easy to store in the back of my silverware drawer so no problem there. As with the other EcoJeannie products, this is a heavy duty product that is made to last.

This is a garlic press that is different from others I have seen or used. It is a flat press and, once again, heavy and made of quality steel. It is super easy to use in spite of the weight. Place the garlic cloves inside and squeeze once.The rounded holes are great and the garlic squeezes right out of them. The press is very easy to clean. I love it and will keep this for my own use.

If you desire to be an Amazon reviewer who also receives these sorts of offers, you should keep some important points in mind:

If you agree to review a product, do so and in a reasonable amount of time after receiving it. Give your HONEST opinion and don't lie about it in order to receive more offers. If it deserves one star and a poor review, give it that, but you might want to check with the company first to see if there is something they can do to make the experience better. For instance, sometimes a product will arrive broken. Other times you might just not understand how to properly use the product. In instances like these, you should contact the company and try to get the problem fixed before instantly writing a poor review. You also want to be sure to actually try the products without pretending to do so. Take pictures or video as companies love having these added to reviews. And make your e-mail address public on your Amazon reviewer page so companies can have a way to reach you with offers. NEVER accept bribes or payment for reviews. A free product is fine if it is the product you are reviewing. Don't accept money for reviews or coupons for other products, as this is considered a bribe and professional payment for favorable reviews. And one of the most important things to remember is to add a disclaimer to each review like the one I am including in this post below:

*I received these products in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, July 25, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - July 25

Is it hot where you are? It is a much hotter than normal summer here in the north and I am LOVING it! Everywhere around me, people are complaining about being hot and how miserable they are. My response is always the same: Wait a few weeks and summer will be over. That's right. Here in northern Michigan, we usually experience cool, short (and I mean short) summers. We get six months of snow, nine months of temperatures below 60 degrees, and just a month or two of tolerable, warm weather.

This year I have the best garden I've had in about five years. Last year I got only a handful of tomatoes. This year promises to be much better. Last year I got NO green beans even though I planted three rows. This year I've already had a half bushel and canned six quarts. Last year I got NO zucchini. This year I've already harvested seven zucchini and yellow squash and the plants are loaded with blossoms and tiny squash. And the list goes on.

So, once again, for those northerners complaining about the hot weather, let's listen to you say how much you love the sub zero temperatures this winter. The ones who complain about the heat are generally the ones who complain about the cold. The truth is, only God can change the weather. Maybe people should pray more.

This week's Menu:


Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Macaroni
Green Beans (fresh from the garden)


Slow Cooker Caribbean Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes


Chips & Salsa


Sloppy Joe Sandwiches


Pizza & Pop


Burgers on the grill (both veggie & beef)
Chips with Cottage Cheese


On Your Own

Monday, July 18, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - July 18

We picked cherries at the orchard yesterday - tons of them. I Food Saver them and freeze them for use throughout the year. It's nice to have something you can pull from the freezer and use for baked goods when asked to "bring a dish to pass". Last night I made my mom's signature dessert, Cherry Pudding Cake. I have made it lots over the years and my family loves it.


Cheese Tortellini
Tossed Salad
Garlic Toast
Cottage Cheese


Grilled Chicken Breasts
Mashed Potatoes
Bread Sticks
Fruit Salad


Taco Salad
Chips & Salsa


Pork Chops on Grill
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans


Pizza & Pop


Burgers on the Grill
Macaroni Salad
Chips & Dip


On Your Own

Monday, July 11, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - July 11

Here's the plan for the week; Recipe for Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bread follows the menu plan.


Sloppy Joes in Crock-pot
Green Beans


Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bread (G.F.)
Baked Potatoes done on the grill


Hamburger Soup in Crock-pot


Vegetable Stew with Rice
Beef Roast & Potatoes


Pizza & Pop


Various Salads


On Your Own

Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

1/2 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil OR applesauce
nuts, if desired

Sprinkle blueberries with 2 tsp. flour. Set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in oats. Combine eggs, oil or applesauce, and bananas in another bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir only until moist. Carefully fold in blueberries and nuts. Pour into floured greased 8x4 inch loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool in pan 20 minutes before attempting to remove to a rack.