Monthly Archives: February 2016

Budget food shopping-1970’s


I like older cookbooks, they are fun to look at and read. 1970 was not that long ago, yet I am surprised at home much our foods we eat have changed. I often wonder  if so many people’s issues with food allergies and other issues which seem to be much more rare just 20-30 years ago, would go away if we went back to  no fast food, simple food without as many preservatives etc.

Anyhow, in this Family Circle Illustrated Library of cooking Volume 3, is a section on how to save money! Many of the tips are great still for now, but some I found interesting in how far we have come.

Give all dairy foods good care at home. This means keeping milk, butter or margarine and cheese tightly covered or wrapped and chilled. Another reminder:To enjoy these products at peak flavor, buy often and only what…

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The Thorn Keeper by Pepper Basham


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

With her newfound faith, Catherine Dougall hopes to take the remnants of her threadbare life and make something beautiful, even if society shuns every choice she makes.

Dr. David Ross must save his war hospital from ruin, but when his notorious aunt makes an offer he can’t refuse, he must choose between his surprising affection for a reformed flirt or his dreams.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who never forgets his children and fashions beauty out of the most broken things.

My Review:

Wow. I have been super busy without a lot of time for reading, but when I started this book, I could not put it down. It is the second book in the “Penned in Time” series and being set during WW1, has many unique qualities. It was amazing!

The storyline is unique by itself, but the historical detail of clothing design, hospitals, and the deep spiritual message sets this book apart from others.

It does deal with some harder topics like unwed mothers, suicide, and healing from abuse, so for that reason this would be a book for mature high schoolers or adults.It is all done from a Christian perspective so nothing is overly graphic, but just more mature content.

There is also a beautiful romantic thread throughout the book, of perseverance and healing. I will not give away the story, but this was a truly beautiful love story of sacrifice and love that overcomes obstacles.

I wanted to keep reading, but at the same time, did not want it to end.

This book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher to me. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon and other booksellers.

Go here to order… “The Thorn Keeper”

Make sure you read the first one though before this one. Book one is only $1.99 on Kindle at the moment. “The Thornbearer”


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A Time for Rest?


“Make sure you take time for yourself. You cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself.”

“5 Reasons  to reject the “Me Time” Fallacy”

“Every woman should make sure she showers, makes her bed, and has time for her daily devotions. Anything less is a path straight to hell.”

“We should never need a break from our children. I want my children to grow up knowing that I enjoyed every minute serving them.”

While some of the above statements may sound far-fetched, they are likely something you have seen in an article online or in a magazine at one time or another. And if you can get in-between the articles on how if you change your baby the wrong way, you are causing colic or how Johnny should be reading at the age of three, or how the problems you are having in life will be solved by more rest, you may feel like screaming.

I know that is how I feel often.

Rest? Yes, we all need it. Respite? That can be nice too.

But, when life gets in the way and some of us have a bit more than the normal share of responsibilities, it can feel a bit burdensome when you hear yet another sermon or blog post about how you are either not doing enough or being selfish to take a nap.

I believe this struck me when I needed to go on an unexpected trip last year and you realize that in passing off responsibilities, there was no way for one person to do all that is done in my life on a daily basis. I am, in a strange way, used to the insane pace, but hate it at the same time. In slowly cutting things out, it feels good, but also as if others look down on you at the same time.

I realized that I had missed scheduling eye exams  last July when I went to refill my son’s contact prescription. I wracked my brain to figure out why, and realized “Oh yes, my grandfather had passed away and I was dealing with troubling personal issues at home.” It didn’t seem to ease the guilt, because they still were six months late for their eye exams. When I realized that their dental appointments were double booked with theater practice, I sat and thought about how to make it work. Of course, it means surfing the waves of insanity, but that is just a mom’s job, right?

Then the guilt trips come because you missed a bill, when you volunteered you did too much or too little, your job was not acceptable to the chairperson, or you “took over”. Most of the guilt trips come from ourselves. We should be able to do things perfectly. We should not be frustrated, make mistakes, forget things and always look spiffy when we step out of the house. I know there are people that are able to do that.

In my world though, I only have one brain and two hands. I do my taxes while riding in the back seat over a pass to a basketball game on the phone with the tax preparer. Meanwhile, the electric bill accidentally was forgotten. I was teaching school instead.

So, what does this teach me?

I believe the biggest less on it is teaching me is that I really need to stop living by others expectations. My neighbor may not have gotten too busy to pay their electric bill, but I am sure there is one other mom that has.

Rest? I catch rest when and where I can. I got a wonderful night of sleep the other night. I was on a floor in a sleeping bag, chaperoning a few teenage girls. It was the most relaxing night I have had in months.

My point is, what looks like rest to me, may not look like it to someone else. The stress of going, running, doing, may not be something I enjoy, but yes, it is a sacrifice that I do for my children. They will not be here forever.

I will seek out rest, devotions and the like. But I also would like the guilt of not doing it exactly like someone else dictates to stop. For you, your life may look different than mine. If you are content with it and it is working for your family, I love it! But the guilt about taking rests, breaks or getting help has got to stop. The guilt about those that are busy working with their family really needs to quit.

I am not perfect. As much as I would love to be perfect, I am not. I don’t want to make excuses. But I have realized that sometimes rest has to be scheduled. Sometimes, it means that there is not time for it. It means going without sleep, because  there was a birth, a death, sickness,  or something else that could not be rescheduled.

As much as I love to rest, sometimes there is a time for work too.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” Ecclesiastes 3:1-9, KJV.

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The Hearts we mend by Kathryn Springer


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

For young widow Evie Bennett, moving forward will mean deciding what to leave behind . . . and what to keep.

Widowed at the age of twenty-five when her firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, Evie Bennett has spent the last thirteen years raising their son, Cody, in the close-knit community of Banister Falls. As the women’s ministry director of her church, Evie encourages women to boldly pursue God’s plan for their future . . . while she is content with her memories of the past. But Evie’s well-ordered life begins to change when she meets Jack Vale.

As Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe and predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems in the community . . . but will Evie open her heart to love again?

Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

My Review:

When I began this book, I was under the impression it was a novella, so was pleasantly surprised by the beautifully developed story that took place instead. That is not to say there are not great novellas, but often they lack depth.

Just a few of the topics that are touched on in this book might begin with drug addiction, theft, child abandonment, and healing from past hurts. I have seen many Christian novels that sort of gloss over these subjects without showing the pain that comes from them, because it is not something you generally think to see in a Christian book.

For myself though, I find that there is no better place to discuss these topics than a Christian novel. You can see how the love of God is lived out in Jack and Evie’s lives everyday, as they struggle with hardships that you will find realistic and eye opening.

The book is done very tastefully. I truly savored and enjoyed it all the way through!

This book was provided by Netgalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

You can pre-order a copy here… The Hearts We Mend..

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MFW Week 26- ECC

My posts about school sort of have gotten lost is the book review posts and basketball. Blogging about anything other than what had to be done is really not been the priority.

You know, just a few games were played here and there. It has been a blur of action between school mornings, basketball, basketball practice, our homeschool theater club starting practice, which is 7 hours weekly or more, there is not much time for anything


else.  Well, other than a little baby cuddling, reading in the sunshine and the sort.


We have been enjoying China and Japan this last while. Gladys Alyward has been a huge success, and we are pushing through “I dared to call Him Father” as well.

We bought a bunch of snacks from the grocery store that were Japanese or Chinese and had fun with that. We didn’t get our Chinese feast, but that is coming!

Life has not been without stress lately. I am learning more and more about property management. My oldest son got his permit and is learning to drive. We are working to catch up on all the work he is behind on from a busy month of basketball in January. We also battled Influenza A, and thankfully my youngest son and I were protected so far despite nursing the older three that were very sick.

This week while reading about Oceans in ECC, we pulled out a book about the Titanic. We read that as a book basket book and then discussed the replica that was recently built and if anyone will want to sail on it.

It has been a week for wins in school. Life may be hard elsewhere, but we persevere. We had an opportunity to have some discussions this week on topics such as politics, domestic violence, and safety in other areas. It seems it never is boring discussion here.

I am so thankful for MFW bringing up hard topics to discuss with many view points presented.

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Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. With writing that evokes a strong sense of place and personal history, Johnnie Alexander deftly explores the ties that bind us to home–and the irresistible forces that draw us to each other.

My Review:

One of my goals this month is to read some authors that I have never read before. It is harder than you would think, as much as I have read. I have found myself drawn to books that I already know will be enjoyable.

This book caught my attention from the get go. It is hard to say what it was, the young widow longing for home, or the teacher that had lost everyone dear to him. You could almost say that forgiveness was the theme of the story, except it was not. It was more about healing and recovery for the wounded.

The one complaint I had about the story, was the main character is remodeling a home, and yet she seems to blink and it is done. Nothing goes wrong, everything goes from messy to beautiful very rapidly. This told me that either the author had never remodeled a home before, or if she did, she hired contractors that skimmed over the norms of remodeling. It was more just something to smile at in the book.

I really enjoyed this author and will be picking up a book by her again!



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A Box of Red Marbles by Roe Braddy



My Review:

This picture book series is unique in that it is a school setting with children with special needs. Some of them have physical disabilities, but all gain insight from the retelling of a bible story and using therapeutic means to get through the school day.

Your children will learn from the story how children cope with their special qualities, while learning from bible stories.

There are two picture books in this series as well as a book that is more a tale of how a teacher learned to work with these amazing students.


The books are available for purchase from Olive Press Publisher. 

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Blue Ribbon Trail Ride Series by Miralee Ferrell


A Horse For Kate


A horse of her own would be awesome. But Kate figures that might be a long way away, especially since she had to give up riding lessons and move to her late grandfather’s farm. Besides, it would be a lot more fun to have a best friend to ride with. When Kate discovers a barn on their new farm that’s perfect for a horse, and a dusty bridle too, she starts to think that her dream might come true. Then she meets Tori at school, who is totally the best. So when they discover a thoroughbred that appears to be all alone, could it be the answer to her prayers? Maybe. If she can convince her dad … and figure out what’s going on with that horse.

#2 Silver Spurs-


Kate’s dream of owning a horse has finally happened. But now her best friend Tori has no money to buy a horse. So Kate comes up with a plan—she’ll raise money by boarding horses and hosting a show in her family’s barn.

It seems the perfect solution until Melissa, the girl who disses Kate and Tori at school, shows up to board her horse, determined to compete in their show and win the silver spurs. Will their plan be ruined—or does God have something better in store for them all?

#3- Mystery Rider


In the third installment in the Horses and Friends series, thirteen-year-old Kate Ferris already has one problem. Snooty, well-to-do Melissa is boarding her horse at Kate’s family stable. When Melissa suddenly turns nice, Kate is shocked … and suspicious.

The last thing she needs is more trouble. So when a hooded rider appears—and then disappears—on a stunning black horse outside her home, Kate isn’t sure if Melissa is playing a trick or something more dangerous is going on. Either way, Kate and her friends will need an extra measure of faith and courage to solve this mystery.

#4-Blue Ribbon Trail Ride


Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.

But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.


My Review:

I don’t know if every young girl is this way, but when I was younger, even though I didn’t really want to ride horses all the time, I wanted to read about them. Well, that and nurse stories. Gail’s Golden Filly, Green Grass of Wyoming, and Silver Birch were books that we sought out and read over and over.

But sometimes even the tamest of horse stories don’t always have the best of morals in them for young boys and girls. It is not so with these books. Miralee Ferrell has a great combo in these stories. These are family stories. The children are not perfect, they struggle, but they love one another. Kate’s brother has autism, they deal with a unfriendly people at school,  and learn the consequences of real life in a level appropriate for ages 8-12. Some younger readers will enjoy the stories as well as older. I mean, obviously, I enjoyed them as an adult! I often think that a well written YA or middle school age book should interest adults as well.

If your boys or girls enjoy stories about horses with a little mystery in them, pick these up. They will be some that the whole family will enjoy!


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Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the Book:

A Colorado senator’s wife, Evelyn Brandt seems to have it all. But her carefully constructed life comes toppling down when the FBI crashes her society brunch with news that her husband has been arrested for embezzlement, and he’s far from repentant. It turns out this was only the start of his indiscretions—for which he has little regret.

Evelyn has to work closely with Trevor Whitney, her ex-husband’s former best friend. Though she and Trevor used to be close—and he’s been letting her hide in his guesthouse—his gruffness conveys his unease with the situation.

Amid the beauty of Trevor’s farm and the comfort of a paintbrush, Evelyn starts to reclaim the dreams she sacrificed to become the perfect politician’s wife. Possibilities for a new beginning emerge, but long-kept secrets threaten to ruin everything. After so much time, is a change of heart too much to hope for?

My Review:

This book grabs you from the beginning, as you meld your mind into Evelyn’s story. Like strong female characters? You will like this one, even though she appears to be weak in the beginning.

The struggle with the book was more a realism one, of the realties of a wife that is abandoned, cheated on and mocked all over a small town can be real life for many believers in this day and age.

This book will stir many questions in you, the topic of divorce and remarriage may come up, forgiveness, standing by your man, abuse, or other such topics. For me, I felt this book handled some of them with grace and poise, much like Evelyn’s character in the book. Looking for a Gilmore Girl’s type story, where the good guy gets the girl? You will enjoy this story. If you are looking for a story that debates doctrine, look elsewhere.

The story of the paper hearts are continued in this book, so in order to understand that, you will want to read book one.

This book was given to me for review by Tyndale. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

You can purchase a copy here… Change of Heart 

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