Monday, January 31, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #5

Well, I do have one CD I am reviewing this week.  It is a CD on which I have never been that keen, but it does have some redeeming songs.  This was the trio's only CD. And in my opinion, they just lacked a good marketing and promotions team.  About half of their songs show promise, but the other half are pretty rough around the edges.

Ten Year Night, One Day at a Time, Now That You Love Me, and Nothing On But the Radio seem to be the stand-out songs.  The others are mediocre and a couple of them are dire.  I am ambivalent about this CD, but it was given to me by Martin.  And it gives  me something different to listen to.  It is a not a CD that you want to spend a lot of time listening to at once.

I had no idea there were any videos.  It's kind of boring to watch the video, but I think you might find the chorus of this song kind of nice.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Solution Sunday--Update on My Challenges

Here it is! The big post that will cover all of my challenges.  I think I have a lot to report today!

This is the last week I will be posting on this.  I only have one thing to show here.  While I plan to keep this mindset going and I will post updates to a degree, this is the last official week!  This vest was one I just never wore.  I wore it this week and love it!  I am keeping it.
While I only have gotten rid of one thing this month, I have been able to wear some items I have not really worn and thought I didn't like.  And I think I have finally understood my style--sweaters with sleeveless tops and slacks.  I have loads of clothes to wear, and I plan to keep on going!  I plan to tackle my accessories eventually as well.

Week #4--I got my bookshelf organized!

I am still a week behind with this, but I got this done.  Remember this for last week?
 Look at it this week!!

Okay, it's not perfect, but I can find my books!  I didn't realize I had so many wonderful books that I have won and bought.  I have a lot of reading to do.  I also listed a lot of books to sell.

This week, I am supposed to be working on the DVD's/VHS cases.  I feel pretty good about the prospects of this one.  I plan to purge and straighten.  I love this challenge!


Still working on The Book Thief.  I may have it done by next week.


I am still reading through the Bible in a year.  I will start Proverbs when this is done.  But I did finish Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy.  That makes 2 books in this challenge.  I have enjoyed these!


Nothing new to report here.  I will be reading my first book for this challenge pretty soon!


The cool thing is that the "romance" I am currently reading has turned into a mystery!  I get to list it for this challenge when I'm done.  I never dreamed it would be.  I am reading Scandal Becomes Her because a friend sent it to me.  I didn't know what I would think of it, but I am more  than half through it and looking forward to discovering the secret to the mystery.



Nothing to report here.  Sorry.

Okay, I have this one going.  You will notice at the bottom of my blog posts that there is a map.  Sorry you have to zoom out to see the map, but for some reason, that is the default setting.  I have visited England, Indiania, and Texas.  You can see them on the map.  The hardest thing for me is to figure out where non-fiction books take place.  If I am not sure,  I go with where the author lives.  Or where the book takes place mostly.  

Okay, that should do it for this week.  Man, I am a busy lady!!

Valentine's Day Swap Sign Up (Sign up by February 4)

All right, the results of the poll are at last in.  There were a total of 19 votes.
Here are the results:

Kid's Swap     0%
Secret Swap   5%
Book Swap    32%
Craft Swap     11%
I don't care      5%
Not at all         47%

So before our time gets away from us, we need to get this swap going.  This is totally optional, and I can only hope that if you sign up, you will make it a point to actually follow through.  Here are the rules.

1.  Send me your name and address to my e-mail ( by February 4 9 P.M. Pacific time.  I just need your name and mailing address.  At this point, I am making this only open to the U.S.  If things go well with this, we may open it up internationally.

2.  In your e-mail, please list some of your interests.  If you are interested in books or music or crafts or anything else, please list that.  If you have kids, you might want to list that too.  I will let you list what you want to about yourself.  If you have a blog, please leave the link to your blog in the post. 

3.  By sending the e-mail to me, you are agreeing to spend no less than 10 dollars and no more than 15 dollars on a Valentine's Day gift for another person.  You are agreeing to send this off by February 10 if at all possible so it might arrive by Valentine's Day.  I know this swap is happening a little later than I wanted to do it, but I am still learning about all this.  So as long as this arrives by the end of the month of February to the person, we will call it good.  I will be sending your information to the person that I select.  It should work out that you will have a partner with whom you will exchange gift via mail.  

4.  Lastly, please follow through with what you say you will do.  Do not sign up if you feel you cannot do it.  I participated in 2 of these at Christmastime.  One came through wonderfully well,  The other person forgot an is supposedly sending it to me now.  It really makes it hard when people sign up and don't follow through.  I recommend some kind of delivery confirmation.  You might order it online (that's what I do!!), and delivery confirmation and/or insurance comes with the order. 

I plan to have a wrap-up post where you can post thank-yous and/or pictures to your person.  That will come probably around the end of February.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here or e-mail me.  Thanks!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sporadic Saturday--Some Recommendations

Well, I have a yeast infection--it has infected me vaginally but also in my mouth.  My poor tongue is coated with white junk and it hurts.  Thankfully, it is better today, and I am doing the normal treatment.  I have never had one that was so painful in my mouth!  I don't know why except that things have been stressful.  I had a mild one, and then right after the treatment, my period came.  Bad timing.  It went straight into a worse infection!

As I researched my problem yesterday, I realized that I needed to head over to Super Supplements.  I had always heard of this store, but I had never been to one.  As I looked at various products, I discovered quickly that if I went to this store, I would be able to get a couple things to help me.  So I went.

When I walked in, I was amazed!  This place is awesome!!  While some of the prices are a little high, when you realize that this place has natural products that are hard to find elsewhere, I really think it's worth it.

Have you heard about tea tree oil?  I had been using a couple products with this, but I had no idea that it fought yeast infections and so much more.  Both of the products I am currently using are made with tea tree oil.  I can't comment on Yeast Arrest.  I only started using it last night, but hopefully it will help my problem.  I can comment on Jason's Healthy Mouth mouthwash.  I am amazed at how wonderful  this stuff is.  I use it, and my white tongue immediately looks normal!  My mouth sores are beginning to heal.  Tea tree oil does have an unusual flavor and smell, but it works well!

So that is my post for today.  I'll get caught up on my challenges tomorrow.

Kid's Animal Books Giveaway (ends 2/20)

I happen to belong to the children's book of the month club.  They are a wonderful company, and I love the fact that once you meet the requirements of your membership, you never have to order again!  The only problem is that their books have gotten better!!  So I often can't turn them down.

In November, I got a call from them, and I accidentally ordered a book we already had.  I know I could have sent it back, but I was also given a free book as a result, so I figured I would keep it and offer it to my readers.  Which I am now doing.

These are the two books, and here is the link on the children's book of the month club site.  These books have lots of pictures and stickers.  My daughter was so excited to get these books on Christmas.  They are quite interactive and entertaining.  If your child(ren) enjoy animals, these are the books for them!

Ready to win?  This giveaway will end February 20 at 9 P.M. Pacific Time.  Please make sure your e-mail is in your comment or visible in your profile. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

1.  Become or state that your a follower of this blog via google friend connect.
2.  Become my facebook friend.  Be sure to leave your user name.
3.  Like my new facebook page.  Leave your user name.  (2 entries)
4.  Post my button on your blog.  Please leave  the url so I can check it out.  (5 entries)
5.  Subscribe via e-mail and/or RSS.  (1 entry for each)
6.  Share this giveaway any way you like.  Please leave any applicable links.  You may do this once a day per method.
7.  Enter my Mary Kay giveaway that ends 2/2.  (5 entries)

And the unlimited entry!

What is a favorite book from childhood or one of your child's current favorites?  Please state the name of the book and the author.  I am always looking for good reads for my daughter!

Fortified Friday on Saturday

First of all, I am sorry I did not get to this last night.  I honestly had nothing, and I do mean nothing!  I am currently fighting a yeast infection in my mouth and vaginally.  And I was  tired!

Today, I finally had the time to get a couple recipes together.  First of all, let  me review what recipes I have made.  Remember this post?  The only recipe on that post I didn't make was the gourmet chicken.  All the other recipes were absolutely fantastic!  I highly recommend them.  I did make this recipe that used some pumpkin spice bread mix that I had on hand.  I can't find the recipe that was the inspiration, but basically I added coconut, eggs, plain yogurt, olive oil, mini chocolate chips, and oatmeal.  I then topped it with an oatmeal, brown sugar splenda, and melted butter topping.  It was quite good.  I also plan on making this honey French Bread recipe.

As to recipes this week, I am only doing two.  I've got a chicken brown rice casserole and haggis recipe to make in the crockpot.  I got it out of the Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking that I have used before.  I think it will be good--her recipes generally are.

Better a day late than not at all!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Lots of Thoughts

I figured I had better post this before I fell asleep.  I am pretty worn out from the week.  In fact, I have subbed in 2 districts that are as far apart as I will go for subbing!  Forty miles one way and about the same distance the other way.  The hardest thing about subbing is the differences in schedules between the schools!

I have really only said a little about things at my house between my family members.  Let me fill you in a little bit. I moved back to live with my parents a couple summers ago.  I left a good-paying job.  I came here on faith.  It seemed like everything was great.  I had renters for my house.  I had loads of interviews.  I had lots of experience teaching.  We were moving to the country--great for my daughter.  I was coming home.  My expenses would go down.  I could get my debts paid off.  My friend, Martin, would move here.  In fact, he made the decision to move and helped convince me to come.  I was somewhat unwilling at first.  But there were a lot of positives.

Let's see.  I have no full-time job, but I am a sub in 10 districts and very well-liked.  My daughter is doing really well in school and has a best friend.  I may finally have found a church after being burned by yet another church this summer.  I have learned to work outside doing all sorts of work I never would have dreamed of.  Many members of my family think I am wrong to live with my parents, and that makes things kind of tough.  My renters are unable--okay, unwilling--to pay, and I stand to lose my home in Texas.  My dad is absolute despicable man who does nothing but deceive, cheat, and be the ultimate couch potato.  He blames all of his trouble on Martin, and no one in the house wants to be around him.

So, what do you think?  Was it God's will to move?  Did I hear from God?  Well, let's see.  I knew when I moved that it was God's will.  I questioned it at times, but I know for a fact that I am where I am for a reason.  If nothing else, my daughter is happier than she has been in her life.

It's the age-old question that Job said way back when.  Shall we accept only good from God?  Can God work through bad circumstances?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Do I need to go back and second-guess myself?

Well, I am choosing not to.  The foremost thing in my life is this:  Martin needs to be saved.  It is only God who can save him.  I can't do it.  My mom can't.  Even Martha can't. Only God knows what it will take for Martin to be saved.  And, well, I believe that this is all leading that direction.  In fact, I believe Martin will only have one option left--that of being saved.  He is not quite ready to make that declaration, but I believe he is getting closer to it.

So remember this, dear reader.  If you have been following God's will in the best way you can, don't give up when the going gets tough.  Know that you may very well be in the center of God's will.  I believe I am.  I will not give in to the lies of the enemy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--Quiet Strength Book Review

Summary from Goodreads:

He led his team to #1 in the world and showed the world a better way to live, lead, and succeed.
When Tony Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLIand made history as the first African American coach to win the big gamemillions of people, amazed by the success of his quiet, authoritative leadership style, wondered: how does he get it done?
In the pages of this fascinating memoir, Tony Dungy reveals the secrets to his successprinciples, practices, and priorities that have kept him on track despite overwhelming personal and professional obstacles, including firings, stereotypes, and the tragic loss of a child.
In the face of so much adversity, Tony has not only survived but risen to the very top of his profession in a way thats won the respect of fans, players, and even his competitors. His thoughts on leading, succeeding, and attaining true significance will inspire you to take a long, hard look at the things that really matter in your own life.

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning LifeQuiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, I am not a football fan.  I watch it only because I have two people in my life who do love football.  The only time I even showed any interest in football was when I lived in the Tampa Bay area.  I remember when Tony Dungy took over as their head coach, and I remember how impressed I was and how the team changed.  I was horrified when he was fired, and then we he became the Colts coach, I was somewhat interested.  I remember how my heart broke when I heard of his son's suicide.  The constant for me with Tony Dungy was that he is a Christian, and he never yelled at the officials and the players like the other coaches did.

I was not looking forward to reading this book because I figured it would be filled with football stuff.  I was pleasantly surprised as I read the story of Dungy's life, and on almost every page, his faith showed forth in a very simple manner.  I was so inspired, and more than once he almost had me in tears.  To have the faith that he demonstrated throughout the book!  Goodness, he puts me to shame!  He gave all glory to God for everything, and he learned to trust Him in all things.

Indeed, this is the best Christian book I have read in ages.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to deepen their walk with the Lord.  It is autobiographical, but it is first and foremost a book of faith in God.

View all my reviews

Super Questions for Wednesday Hodgepodge

I haven't done this MEME before, and it looked like fun.

1. Will you watch the Super Bowl? If so who will you root for? If you are outside the USA what is the 'big deal sporting event' in your own country?

2. Is ignorance bliss?

3. Which of the seven dwarfs are you? (and just in case your Disney is a little bit rusty, here they are-Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy)

4. When you are riding in the car with another couple how do you organize the seating? (Men up front? Women up front? Couples sit together?) And thanks to Lori at Mountain Woman at Heart for the question! Everyone go say hi to Lori.

5. What is beauty?

6. If someone asks you to bring an appetizer or a dessert to a party in their home, which would you choose?

7. What is your crowd pleasing go-to appetizer?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twilight Tuesday--I Am Being Tested

Yes, I realized that God was allowing me to be tested last week.  Something happened every day that should have caused me to go into a panic and become the worry wart that I am wont to be.

By the grace of God, that has not occurred.  I am not saying that I have come out completely smelling like a rose.  Where my dad is concerned, I still sometimes lose it.  It is so hard to see him sitting around doing nothing while my mom works with a serious eye issue and Martin works in spite of terrible stomach pain.

And the testing is far from over.  I could have panicked today when I couldn't find the school, but do you know what?  I didn't.  And I can say that it has nothing to do with what I am doing but all to do with God.  He is living through me.  It is not I that live.  I died, and He lives through me.  I can see that so clearly now.

I have even begun to pray about some things that continue to cause me to struggle.  Little, personal things, but they cause me to stumble.  Isn't it something how it's the little things not the big things that cause us the most trouble?

I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future!  Amen and Amen!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #4

 I've got two to review tonight.  First off is The Band Perry and their self-titled debut CD.              
I will tell you right now that I was not a fan of theirs.  When their first single Hip to My Heart came out, I would turn the radio dial so fast it would make your head swim!  I thought I would never hear a song of their that I liked.  Then I heard If I Die Young and saw their video, and I was hooked!  I began to toy with the idea of ordering their CD from the library.  I did, so here goes.    

You Lie is their newest single.  It begins their album.  I think what drew me to this song was having a compulsive liar in the house  (my dad) and the clever lyrics.  One thing this group has is unique lyrics.  Their use of similes and metaphors are quite entertaining.  Next is Hip to My Heart that I still don't like.  But it could  have been good if it were sung a little  differently.  Their best song is up next--If I Die Young.  I will post the video for this even though I posted it this summer.  I love the simplicity of this song.  It is their first number one hit.  Whenever I hear it, I am always put in a good mood.  Now how can a song about dying put someone in a good mood?  It's not sad--it is all about being content with the life you live.  And it has some poignant lines.  All Your Life is a beautiful song, and certainly well-sung.  I got a good chuckle out of Miss You Being Gone.  Again, their clever lines sell this song.  Not a big fan of Double Heart, but I love Postcard from Paris.  I didn't know that was the name of the song, but it makes perfect sense.  It is again very clever.  I know I keep using that  word, but there isn't a better word to describe their songs.  Maybe pithy would work for this song.  Walk Me Down the Middle is possibly my favorite on the album.  I love If I Die Young, but Walk Me Down the Middle is so sweet and happy.  I love the way it is sung.    Quittin' You and Lasso  were not stand-outs for me.  I would say that for a debut album,  these kids did well. They need someone to help them straighten out their rough edges and they could easily give Lady Antebellum or Rascal Flatts a run for their money.


Mary Kay Giveaway (Ends 2/2) (Closed)

Winner has been contacted, and this giveaway is closed!

Today I have the opportunity to give away a fantastic Mary Kay product--The Satin Lips Set.  This product is simply fantastic!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Solution Sunday--An Update On All My Challenges

Well, I have so many challenges going on that I thought I would do it all together.  So here goes!

I do have pictures!  Go me!  This is week 3 of 4, but I plan to continue it the rest of the year.  This is being hosted over at Crazy Domestic.  

So this sweater I got at the Dollar Tree last year, I believe.  I haven't worn it much--it's blue and white stripe.  But it was comfortable and looked nice for teaching.  I think I may wear it more now.

A gorgeous thrift store find!  It looked great.  It is a hooded shirt, and this was my first time to wear it.  I only added the lacy cami, and I thought it looked wonderful!

I found these brown pants by chance, and when I wore this today with a beautiful sweater and stylish belt, I knew these were a keeper!

Consensus?  I am keeping all of these!  I love them!

Okay, I am reading my first book for this challenge.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I love it so far--it is a fantastic book.  So at least I am beginning this one!

Don't Forget CSN Stores Giveaway Ends Tonight!

The giveaway ends at 9 P.M. Pacific Time!  Be sure to get all your entries in.  And don't forget about the unlimited option!  Be sure that you give yourself all the valid entries you can!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sporadic Saturday--Really Quick Tonight

It seems like I write that all too often.  Always loads of drama going on here!  I want to say that I am so thankful that Martin is here.  My mom had a twig hit her eye right before lunch, and it hurt a lot.  She tried  eye drops and milk, but it was only temporary.  it got so bad in the afternoon, but she wouldn't listen to me (nor my dad, but why would she listen to him?), but Martin convinced her to go to the ER, and he drove her there.  I wish I could have seen the  picture the doctor took of her eye.  He told her that her entire eyeball and underneath has been scraped.  She didn't even have to wait too long to see someone.  I am grateful he was here.

Tomorrow is the last day to enter my CSN stores giveaway!  Don't forget.

I will definitely catch up on all my challenges tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fortified Friday--My Own Recipe For Chicken Noodle Soup

If you know anything about me, you would learn that I am one of those people who loves recipes.  I love to find new recipes and try them.  I don't always follow them to a tee, but I get pretty close.  I do not like to do cooking experiments.  I do much better when I have a guide.

Over the past year or two, Martin has been the one to challenge me in this area.  He only uses recipes for difficult things.  For regular meals, he does it all  in his head.  He also doesn't do a lot of varied things, but you know that what he makes will be good.

Yesterday, I got home in enough time to cook dinner.  I had planned on making the chicken with gourmet sauce recipe (I'm too lazy to post the link, but those are the only ingredients).  When I asked my mom and Martin, they said they wanted chicken noodle soup.  I inwardly groaned.  I did not want to have to make this, and I knew it would be a lot of work.  But they had worked hard and still had more work to do.  So I agreed.

I am going to explain the process--there is not a real recipe, but I will try to organize it all at the end.

I cut up the chicken breasts--I used 3.  It was hard to cut it up since it was raw.  I cut it up in the smallest pieces I could.  I threw it in a pan with some oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, semi-fresh chives, and semi-fresh parsley.  I cut up two carrots into fairly small pieces and threw that in the pot as well.  I decided that some frozen corn and peas would be pretty good as well.  I also had some frozen chopped onions--I love those!

Once this was all cooked--the chicken was completely cooked--I added 2 cans of chicken broth.  My mom was sure we had more chicken broth--no, we didn't.  So I also added a can of Healthy Choice Chicken and Rice.  I then added about half a bag of pasta--so 8 ounces, I guess.  We add to add some more water as those cooked.

I cooked all this on the stove for about 30 minutes.  I think it would be really good in the crockpot.  I think you could add any vegetables you wanted to.  Add any spices you want.  You could use rice, pasta, quinoa--use what you have.

My mom said the soup was so good that I had to share it on my blog.  So I am doing that.  Sorry I don't have any pictures, but it was good!

So here is my recipe for chicken noodle soup:

3 chicken breasts, cut up small
garlic powder/salt
chives and parsley (I use freeze-dried versions of these you can find with the fresh herbs.)

Put all of that in a pan on the stove with some olive oil.  Cook it until the chicken is no longer pink.  Add cut-up carrots, frozen corn, frozen peas, cut-up onions--any veggies you fancy.  Soften the vegetables for a couple minutes.  Add about 3-5 cans of chicken broth.  Add about 8 ounces of pasta, rice, or whatever you fancy.  Let it boil on the stove for at least 30 minutes, or  cook it in a crockpot.  Make sure to watch the liquid levels.  Serve with Bisquick biscuits.   Serves about 6, I would say.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--What a Day and More

First of all, no I did not post last night--I should have. It has been such a busy week, and if I would have been on the ball, that review I did a couple days ago could have been scheduled for last night.  I never think about scheduling posts.  Okay, I think about them, but I have to admit that I prefer to post at once rather than wait.

Secondly, I definitely had my worst day all year at my job today.  Which, considering my worst day last year, this was a picnic!  Last year on my worst day, a student left my class without permission and I was called into a parent conference.  Kind of strange for a sub.  It all worked out well.  But today was pretty tough, and I am worn out.  Part of the trouble is the regular teacher--he doesn't count homework, so no one does it.  You can imagine how difficult this is for a sub.  Part of the problem is the kids just don't care.  I'm glad I haven't forgotten my algebra!  I was able to help several students who needed the help.  It just made it hard when students were disrespectful and I didn't know their names.  And it also didn't help for there to be 31 staff members absent!  And I'm not joking!!

Finally, I told you about my phone the other day, and since I reset it, it has been like having a new phone.  I think sometimes g1 phones get a bad rap, and the android system even gets put down.  Of course, everyone wants an iphone or something like that.  Well, I was reading an article in P C World magazine just this weekend, I think, and it spoke of a different browser you can for your android phone.  I had been struggling with not being able to access some sites or not being able to see the mobile version of a site.  And there were times that certain sites just didn't work.  Enter the Dolphin HD.  This browser it amazing!  I'll leave you the link to their website (which is currently down as I write this!).  I was able to get a site to work that had not worked previously.  And I discovered the websites load much faster than the browser that came with my phone.  The fun thing about the browser is something called "gestures."  You are able to use and create simple line drawings that represent certain things on the browser (such as refresh, bookmarks, go, back, forward, etc.).  It will recognize what you have asked it to do.  It's actually kind of fun.  And the best thing about the browser--it's free!  You can also organize your bookmarks in a much better way.  Mine are being organized by work and personal right now.  So if you have an android phone, you might want to check out a new browser for your phone rather than just relying on the one that came with it.  You may be lucky enough to have the newest and greatest phone, but you know what?  I plan on keeping my g1 for a long time to come!  I would love for any of you to share android apps you like or different tricks you might know.  I always enjoy learning from other people!\

That should summarize my day.  Why do 4-day weeks always seem longer than 5-day weeks?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Twilight Tuesday--God Really is Good

But of course, you knew that, right?  Let me  tell you something of what happened today.

I am a substitute teacher who relies on my phone for everything--getting  jobs, gps (since mine was stolen), and keeping up with my life while working.  Well, my phone has been somewhat on the blink, and I thought of doing a factory reset, but I decided I would put up with its issues since it basically worked.

Well, today I turned it off when I couldn't get a network connection.  I turned it back on, and the screen went black.  I took the battery out several times.  I did my best to reset it, but to no avail.  Well, I didn't despair.  I figured I would get a new phone at Walmart.  I have a G1 which of course is no longer made,  But I figured it would be all right.  I was so glad I was at a job where I did not have to rely on a GPS nor look for jobs--I have one for Wednesday.

I went to Walmart.  Good prices, but after several minutes it was discovered that I was not eligible for an upgrade.  It would cost 500 dollars!  No thank you.  They encouraged me to contact  T-mobile.  I hoped and prayed I could fix it.  I did not panic like I often do.  I knew it would be all right.

I came home and looked up how to factory reset my phone.  I tried it, and I seriously doubted it worked.  I was busy looking up the T-mobile website, and thank the Lord, my phone suddenly worked!  God was so good!!  I can't get a signal here so I have to wait till tomorrow until to get it going again, but it is like having a new phone.  So I have to download everything again, but big deal.

So in the midst of several twilight moments, God truly answered prayer.  I am so glad cares about every aspect of our lives!

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado Book Review

Synopsis from Goodreads:

These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A DifferenceOutlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference by Max Lucado
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that at the beginning of this book, I wasn't too excited.  I have read my share of Max Lucado books.  He often has great devotional insight, but I figured I had heard it all before.

As I read, I discovered that this book was different.  I got into the meat of the book, and I realized that the premise of his book was to live the gospel we preach in tangible ways.  You can tell a hungry child all you want that Jesus loves you, but what will that mean to him or her without giving a hearty meal to the child in need?  We tend to get so caught up in our own lives that we just don't slow down enough to put into practice what we profess to believe.

One of the messages that really touched me was when the Apostle Paul was brought up. We know that he was the chief persecutor of Christians, and then Jesus met him and changed his life forever.  Lucado pointed out that even those we think are far gone and seem like they will never turn to the Lord should not be the ones that we abandon and say they will never change.  We have to keep praying.  In fact, as Lucado points out in another chapter, we should pray first, not last.

This would be a fantastic book use in a small group Bible study or devotional time.  There is a discussion guide in the back of the book.  But if you are not willing to put action behind what you are learning, you and your group would be wasting your time.  One person can make a difference.  If everyone on earth believed that he or she could not make a difference, nothing would ever change.  He challenges us to be like Mother Theresa who, though dead, still lives on through her tremendous work with the orphans of Calcutta.

View all my reviews

I reviewed this book for, and I received only this book in exchange for my review.  I was not financially compensated in any way, and I only shared my honest review of this book.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #3

Well, today's review is disappointing, to say the least.  I got the album Bullets in the Gun, Toby Keith's latest CD.  I had heard two of the songs previously.  I wasn't too keen on one of them, but the other was okay.  This is one album I am glad I did not buy--I borrowed it from the library.

To the review.  It is true that Toby Keith is always about doing his own thing.  His videos are often entertaining, and his songs are not often just run of the mill.  I have been a fan of his, but I was hesitant about this video mainly because of the title song--this is track one.  Bullets in the Gun is a song that has somewhat grown on me, but I still struggle with evil basically winning out. The story of the song is about a robbery, and according to the video, she gets away with the money, and he is left to face the music alone, bleeding on the ground.  I can't say it's a favorite, but it is probably one of his best on the album.

He follows this first song with Somewhere Else.  This is actually a cute little song about his girl leaving him, and it  gave me hope that the rest of the album would  be nice.  He followed this with his other single, Trailerhood. The video for this is pretty good, and it certainly is the kind of song for which Toby Keith is famous.

From  this point on, things went downhill. The next six songs are all about the girl leaving the guy, the guy being devastated, and the guy gets lost in drink.  And when I say that all of them are like this, I am not joking.  I can't even remember them individually because they all sounded alike.  I was pretty disappointed.

Then I got to the last song, and this is when I believe Toby Keith went too far.  The song is Get Out of My Car. While it is true Toby Keith style, the song is about telling the girl to pull down her pants, take off her shirt, take off her clothes, or get out of his car.  I was pleased at the end that she got out of the car.  But I felt the song really crossed the line. I was glad when it was over, and I look forward to returning this to the library as soon as possible.

I will post a video here that is a good Toby Keith song--one of my favorites by him.  It was probably my first favorite song by him.

Be sure to link up your reviews or post them here if you want to be a part of this music challenge!

Still Looking for Sponsors for the Handmade Winter Love Giveaway

First of all, I know I didn't post last night.  I was feeling pretty awful last night for some reason.  So I figured I'd give myself the night off.

Since my blog has grown quite a bit recently, I thought I would put this out one more time for your consideration.

Simply StacieLittle YayasSurvey Junkie & Kelly’s Lucky You are very excited to announce a brand new giveaway event that is coming this February called the Handmade with Love Winter Giveaway.  

I am looking for sponsors for this event.  As long as it is handmade or it is a gift certificate to a handmade store, it is acceptable.  I do have a few things I have purchased, and I will certainly purchase some more.  But I would love for anyone interested in giving away a handmade item to contact me at  You would be certain to get a lot of exposure because of the four blogs hosting it.  Those blogs (listed above) are some of the best giveaway/review blogs out there.  Thank you in advance for your consideration!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sporadic Saturday--Love it Or Lose It Week 2/52 Weeks of Organizing Week 2

Well, here is that update about these 2 challenges. I know I keep promising pictures, but I have been recovering from the worst cold I have had in years, so this is the second week with no pictures.  Maybe next week??

Over at Crazy Domestic, this challenge is in its second week.  I actually plan on continuing this challenge all year long if I can.  This week, I tackled things a little different.  I did get rid of the blue pair of pants I wasn't sold on last week.  When they came out of the laundry, I decided--LOSE IT!  A couple items I had never worn got to be worn this week.  I worse some cute sweaters and blazers.  I have discovered that my style is definitely a tank top or sleeveless top underneath a sweater or a blazer.  I wore a really cute pair of jeans that are frayed at the bottom and have darling embroidery on them, and I looked so good in that with a cute sweater I had never worn and a top that gave it a little class.

I am sorry I am not too specific this week--I was sick, and I am only now feeling better.  My plan this week is to take a picture every morning before I wear it so I can talk about what I worse in specifics.  So I rediscovered some good clothes and got rid of one.  Not bad.

Onto Org Junkie.  I have been doing my best to follow through in spite of my illness.  Again, no pictures.  I've got to go print the bookmark she talks about!  And I absolutely love her acronym!  I think I need that, too.

As for this week, I did get Christmas clothing put away.  We even had a power outage, and I took out a flashlight, stood on a ladder, and put the last of the clothes away.  I may still find one or two leftovers at some point, but as far as I know, it is put away!

As to what I should have done by now, I don't.  My goal was to purge the magazines from the living room.  Now, I am not making excuses, but I wanted to start last night, and Martin said the light was too bright.  I got rid of about 3 magazines in the living room, I think.  I will complete this task this week.  I will  hopefully get the bookshelf straightened as I look towards week 3.  It is a holiday on Monday,  so maybe I'll be lucky.  

All right, that should do it.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fortified Friday: Queen of the Castle Week 2/Pantry Challenge

I'm killing two birds with one stone.  Two challenges in one post.  So here goes.

So this week is a week of celebrating how hard homemakers work and how little value society puts on it.  Well, I definitely agree.  When I look at stay-at-home moms who homeschool and take care of their kids and don't lose their minds, I am amazed.  I could never do it.  At one time, I thought I could.  I got a taste of it this summer, and my daughter and I both went crazy!  I agree with the author that women often get themselves too scheduled and they neglect their families.  That is something I certainly try not to do.  I used to really get involved with all sorts of other things, but now I have cut out a lot of things.  I like being able to spend time with my daughter, and I also know that I need time to myself.  I can't give up either of those.  While my job often takes me away from my home, I have no choice and probably will never be a stay-at-home mom.  But it's okay.  I think the part where she talks about comparing yourself to another homemaker was good.  We don't need to do that.  We need to celebrate our strengths and not worry that our house is not as nice as the lady down the street.  God has gifted us, and He enables us to use those as we are able.

Now to the pantry challenge!  I finally have some recipes to post!

I made the decision that I would go through our pantry and list about 5-6 things I wanted to use up this week.  I just can't get too overwhelmed or I'll stop the challenge altogether.  So here we go.

I will be using:
1.  prepared sugar-free chocolate pudding
2.  can of golden mushroom soup
3.  bottle of gourmet sauce
4.  cream cheese
5.  bottle of honey mustard dressing
6.  tater tots

So what I did was look specifically online for easy recipes using these.  And sure enough, here is what I found.

1.  Chocolate cream cheese dessert
(The recipe is the third one down, I think.)

2. Campbell's Golden Mushroom Pork Chops
(I might make this tomorrow.)

3.  Yoshida's Gourmet Chicken
(We have had an almost empty bottle of this in the fridge for too long!)

4.  Holiday Beef Roast
(So what if the holidays are over?  I could make this for MLK day on Monday!)

5.  Healthier Tater Tot Casserole
(Isn't it nice to know that tater tots are not completely unhealthy?)

Okay, so there we go.  I'll let you know how everything goes this week!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--God is Still Using Books!

You know, lately every Christian book I pick up speaks to me!  I have been wading through Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference by Max Lucado.  I haven't had a lot of gumption to finish it.  It's fine, but today God impressed me to read a chapter.  And I am so glad I did!

He spoke of the apostle Paul's conversion and Ananais being sent to heal his eyes.  Who would ever have dreamed that the main tormentor and persecutor of Christians would be converted?  Max Lucado impressed us to not give up on the "Paul" in our life.

Well, I have known Martin now since 2002.  You would think that he would be saved by now, right?  Well, in God's time, I believe he will be.  Satan cannot convince me otherwise.

So to my readers.  Don't give up on that person that everyone says will never be saved!  Keep on praying in faith!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--God is Using a Book Again to Speak to Me

You might remember a short time  ago,  I read the book Redeeming Love.  The book was a  fast read and had a profound impact on me.  You can read about it here and here.  God spoke to me so clearly about my relationship with Him and with Martin.

I picked up a book a couple days ago--Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy.  I have always respected this man.  In fact, when I lived in Florida, the Buccaneers were horrible until Tony Dungy came along.  I became a fan of that team because of this man.  And then when he moved on to the Colts, I supported them  as well.  I was impressed with his testimony, and  I appreciated the fact that he seemed  so cool and calm  on the field.

When I began the book, I was certain that I would not like the book.  Was I ever wrong!  I am not a football  fan.  I could care less.  I only try to watch it because my mom and Martin like it.  But this book was not about football--not at all.  It is a about a man who is completely committed to Christ.  I can hardly wait to finish it!

Today as I read, God spoke to me again.  First of all, I read the quote he wrote by C.S. Lewis:  "There are only two kinds of people in the end: Those who say to God 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"  I had to read that a couple times to get it, but I got it!  This goes right along with surrendering your life to God.  If our wills are completely submitted to God, our will will be His will.  Interesting, eh?

As I continued to read, I got to a part that talked about how Dungy suffered through mono in his second  year with the NFL.  He couldn't understand what God was doing.  This could cost him his chance to  remain with the team.  He asked another godly man on the team, and the man replied, "Tony, God allowed this to see what is the most important thing in your life.  And right now  it is football."  I was  cut to the quick and almost desired a  tear-fest.  I began to think of Martin.  (I know, I always do.)

So I realized again why God had allowed things to somewhat cool between Martin and me (though they are fairly hot again).  I was defining myself on whether Martin was interested in my physically. I was letting the physical intimacy rule me, rather than God.  I was forgetting that Martin needs  a Savior.

I will certainly post a review when I finish this book, but I just wanted to tell you, dear readers, about how God is using this book to work in my spiritual life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Twilight Tuesday--Not Too Bad Tonight

The only twilight news I have to report is that our power went out tonight for a while,  and Martin was in a bad mood.  I was actually proud of myself.  I am mid-cycle, and I noticed that he was out of sorts and in one of his moods (he would deny it if I asked him, but trust me, he was.)  At first, I decided that I would just completely leave him alone.  It was clear he was unhappy, and I was getting the worst of it as usual.  And I  know he has a sinus infection.

Well, I made a decision.  Why sit there and pretend to be who I am not?  If he was going to be out of sorts, he was going to be out of sorts no matter what I did.  I decided to just be myself, and I had an enjoyable evening in spite of him.  And I think he even enjoyed himself to a degree.  I didn't want to play Monopoly, but I did!  And I even won, so go figure!!

Hope your evening has been great!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #2

Okay, only one album to review tonight.  I was pretty lucky.  I got to review an album that has my current favorite song.  I have been fighting off a lovely cold, but here goes.

I first began listening to Zac Brown Band when I heard their first single of their first album The Foundation.  I heard "Chicken Fried", and I instantly liked it.  I bought the album with a gift card I had won, and I truly enjoyed it.  This sophomore album does not disappoint.  I easily give it 5 stars.  There might only be one or two songs that don't really resonate with me, but they are nothing major.

I think what I enjoy most about this album is that the band has truly come into themselves.  Zac Brown is not afraid to sing things just as they are.  He puts in such a way that you can relate to it.  In so many ways, he has brought back old-time country music with a modern twist.

They start out with "Let It Go."  One of those nice I-don't-care-what-you-think-or-anyone-else-thinks--I'm doing it my way song.  Pretty nice.  Don't let things bother you too much.  Certainly could be a single for them.

"Knee Deep" is just a fun, little song.  And it is followed by "No Hurry"--the ultimate country lazy song.  And then on to "I Play the Road."  This song I think explains how hard it must be to be on the road and always leaving your family behind.  He has 4 kids, and since he comes from a family of 12, he has no intention stopping.  It must be hard in his situation to be on the road so much and love it.  But then imagine having your child continue to come and ask you when you're coming home.  I suppose those involved in the military understand that pretty well.

"Cold Hearted" is of course about a woman just like that.  And then "Whiskey's Gone" is probably a good follow-up.  "Quiet Your Mind" and "Colder Weather" don't really stand out  to me, but they may in time.  "Settle Me Down" is pretty good--nice beat.

Then to my song!  "As She's Walking Away" was the song that caused me to buy this album.  It is my current favorite song, and whenever I hear it, I love it more.  It features Alan Jackson, and he and Zac Brown co-wrote the song  The video is pretty awesome as well.  I have featured it before on my blog.  I'm sure I'll feature it again!

I like "Keep Me In Mind."  The kind of songs that talk about waiting around for someone to finally love you always mean a lot due to my situation.  I always say those kinds of songs make me think of Martin, but then, what song doesn't?

"Who Knows" and " Martin" are nice little ditties.  But as I was finishing listening tonight, the final song "Make This Day" really stood out to me.  It is Zac Brown just having a grand old time.  His personality truly shines through in this song, and I this song definitely brings a smile to my face.

Now, I am going to post a video not from this album.  This is a video of a song that people expected to find on this album.  If you would like the video of my favorite song, check out this post.

I realize that this song may rub some people the wrong way.  I always liked it, but there was a time I thought I shouldn't because it involved a story about the devil.  But if I make that choice, then I guess I better not like Faust or Don Juan.

So here it is:  "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."  Indeed, Zac Brown is a master!

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins Book Review

Summary from

One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White was a phenomenal bestseller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Dickens, Collins' friend and mentor. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall readers today. 

The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue. 

Masterfully constructed, The Woman in White is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction: Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant "Napoleon of Crime." 

The Woman in WhiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I began reading this book because of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of this book.  I am a huge Michael Crawford fan, and he was in the musical in England.  I even have the soundtrack.  I had listened to soundtrack once, but of course, I didn't understand it.  I had read a couple people's reviews of the story, and I thought I should give it a try.

I began reading this, and it did not begin slowly as so many classics do.  I used to joke that classics were always slow for the first 50 pages.  It was rare to find one that captured your attention from the beginning.  I think this one captured me almost from the beginning.  Wilkie Collins puts you right into the midst of the story, and you, as the reader, are not even truly sure of what is going on.  You want to keep reading.

My two favorite characters were Marian and Count Fosco.  (That is actually ironic.  You'll have to read the book to catch my meaning.)

I liked Marian because she was such a strong woman.  I love it when male authors--especially the classics--are able to write about strong women who really impact the story.  And yet she remains feminine in spite of it all.  The only sad thing is that she never marries.  It's the wimpy Laura who gets married and has a child.  Go figure.  I guess strong women back then didn't get married.  At least according to Wilkie Collins.

I enjoyed the character of Count Fosco because he was so devilishly evil and yet so likable.  I kept imagining how Michael Crawford would have played the part--he would have been ideal.

I truly enjoyed the mystery in the book.  I did not have everything figured out--there were so many layers and twists and turns!  Goodness!  Easily the best mystery I have read in ages.

I would say the only reasons someone would not like the book is that it is long, and it is written in Victorian language instead of our modern-day lingo.  I would recommend this as a mystery and as a classic.  I look forward to reading more Wilkie Collins!

View all my reviews

And the great news is that this fulfills the first requirement in the Mystery and Suspense challenge over at Book Chick City.  One down, twelve to go!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

 Welcome back to Sunday Stealing. Sunday Stealing originated on WTIT: The Blogauthored by Bud Weiser. Here we will steal all types of memes from every corner of the blogosphere. Our promise to you is that we will work hard to find the most interesting and intelligent memes. You may have heard of the expression, “honor amongst thieves”. In that age-old tradition, we also have our rules. First, we always credit the blog that we stole it from and we will “fess up” to the blog owner where we stole the meme. We also provide a link to the victim's post. (It's our way of saying "Thanks!") We do sometimes edit the original meme, usually to make it more relevant to our global players, to challenge our players, sometimes to select that meme's best questions, or simply to make it less repetitive from either this new meme or recently asked questions from a prior featured meme. Let's go!

Today we ripped this memeoff a blogger named Neil Turner at the blog Neil Turner from the blog Neil Turner's Blog(duh). Neil is from Yorkshire, England. He said he stole it from Troy. But, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as we go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Link back to us at Sunday Stealing!

Sunday Stealing: The First 2011 Alphabet Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves! 

A is for Age:
36 1/2
B is for Beer of choice:
None for me, thank you.

C is for Career:
Substitute teacher (but I used to be a music teacher!)

D is for favourite Drink:
Skinny Carmel Latte

E is for Essential item you use everyday:
The computer

F is for Favourite song at the moment:
While She's Walking Away by Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson

G is for favourite Game:

H is for Home town:
Tacoma, WA

I is for Instruments you play:
piano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone

J is for favourite Juice:
Cranberry Juice

K is for Kids:
one--Martha--she's 7

L is for Last kiss:
My best friend Martin (whom I love dearly!)

M is for marriage: .
Married for 10 years, but divorced for about 6 years now

N is for full Name:
Ruth Annette Mayer Hill

O is for Overnight hospital stays:
None, except when I was born

P is for phobias:
I would probably still say bugs, but I  have gotten better about that.

Q is for quote:
Carpe diem!

R is for biggest Regret:
I married too young.

S is for sports:
gymnastics, swimming, ice skating

T is for Time you wake up:
generally 5:30

U is for colour of underwear:
white for today

V is for Vegetable you love:
sweet potato

W is for Worst Habit:

apologizing too much

X is for X-rays you've had:
teeth, chest, uterus, head

Y is for Yummy food you make:
I made good bread.

Z is for zodiac sign:
Don't believe it--favorite zoo animal is a meerkat

Thank you for playing this week on Sunday Stealing! Please leave a comment or link when you have posted. Feel free to stop back and visit other player’s posts. Have a great week. See you next Sunday!

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