Saturday, November 30, 2013

Audiobook Review - The Christmas Singing: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country

With Christmas on the way, I am all about Christmas stories.  I had read "The Sound of Sleigh Bells: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country" by Cindy Woodsmall several years ago and absolutely adored it.  I loved it so much, I shared it with everyone who was interested.

Because of the love of that book, I had to pick up "The Christmas Singing:  A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country" also by Cindy Woodsmall when I saw it available via my library and the Overdrive app.  Because I have a lot of housework to do, I chose to listen to the book rather than read it.  Because I listened rather than read, I have a second part of this review that is simply based on production.

The Christmas Singing:  A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country by Cindy Woodsmall
About the book (from Goodreads) 

After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.

Experience the holidays with the Plain folk and discover the power of second chances in this touching story from the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Bridge of Peace.

Gideon Beiler has loved Mattie Eash since they were children. But when faced with unexpected circumstances, he makes up an excuse to end their engagement. He doesn’t want to lie to her, but he believes that telling Mattie the truth will be more hurtful.  

Brokenhearted, Mattie moves from Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania to Ohio, where she pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator. She finds a new beau—a man offering the secure relationship Gideon has denied her.  

When Mattie is forced to return to Apple Ridge, she and Gideon must confront the suffering created by his dishonesty – and address the powerful emotions that continue to bind the two childhood friends.

My Review (Separated into Story and Production as I really feel that reading and listening can be quite different):  
The Story:  There are few reads that delight me more than a look into the lives of the Amish.  I have embraced this genre, and I have continually been transported by each book I have read.  The Christmas Singing has many of the elements that I enjoy from Cindy Woodsmall.  The view into Amish life is painted so clearly I feel like I can see each detail.  I was delighted with the descriptions as usual and wished I could drop into Mattie Cakes myself.   I wish the shop and the village that Mattie lived in was explored more deeply before she went back to Ridge.  I really enjoyed the descriptions and friends there.  I hope to see more in a future work.  I was also pleased to get the opportunity to catch up with other characters from Cindy's previous book in this series.  It was like revisiting old friends. 

The tone of the story itself was a bit somber which I would as with it dealt with some negative events.  It would have worked better for me if it actually had not been a Christmas novella.  I don't expect everything to be happy, but in a Christmas themed story, I expect it more than I would with other themes.  Still the story itself was well written and I hope that my distraction with the tone doesn't lead you to think it was not.  

As for the characters, I would love to see what happens to Saul.  He seems to have some deep levels there, and I hope the author will continue to explore them.  Mattie herself kind of bugged me.  She was hot and cold when it came to Gideon.  I couldn't even grasp the momentary joviality that would be followed by resentment.  I understood the reasoning, but to be honest, if I had been involved with someone who I truly believed betrayed me, I probably wouldn't be anything more than lukewarm around him.  Polite out of necessity.  Mattie's reactions often seemed very self centered and off kilter. Gideon and all he had been through simply broke my heart. 

All in all, I enjoyed the story and the look back at old friends.  The ending for the main characters was satisfying, and I hope that it opens doors for others that I am also falling in like with.  It was the perfect little getaway into Amish Country and I hope to go there again soon.  

Oh!  As a bonus, there are some great recipes at the end of the book.  They are also listed in the audio version. 

Production Review:  I "read" The Christmas Singing in audio format. The reader has a very nice pleasant and soothing tone to her voice, but she was very soft spoken.  Because of this I had to pump my volume all the way up on both my kindle and my computer (I listened though both).  I do not know how one addresses that, but there has to be a way to bring her volume up more without hitting the top spot on my computer (I have not had to do that with other audiobooks). 
There was one thing that just did not work for me, and that was the constant repeating of Mattie's nickname "Mattie Lane" from Gideon literally drove me batty.  Now mind you, this could be because I was listening rather than reading, and I actually do believe that is the case.  I have the feeling if I read it, the nickname would not have bugged me. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review - Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire

Sunday I will begin 25 Days of Christmas Movies.  Some will be faith-based films and others will just be old school charming.  Before I head there though, I just had to share Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass And Fire.

I watched the first in this series, Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End a while back and absolutely loved it.  PureFlix Entertainment is really bringing some great faith-based films to the table.  After seeing the first, I could not wait for the next...but I had to.  I'm excited to share it with you now.

Movie Review:  Revelation Road 2:  The Sea of Glass and Fire
Pure Flix Entertainment
Starring:  David A. R. White, Brian Bosworth, Eric  Roberts, Andrea Logan White, Jen Lilley, and Steve "Sting" Borden
About the film (from Amazon): Revelation Road 2: The Sea of Glass and Fire continues the thrilling odyssey of Josh McManus, as he struggles to return home to his wife and daughter. Helping Josh on his epic quest is the local Sheriff, Beth, his over-eager sidekick and Cat, a renegade biker. And, chasing Josh at every turn is the brutal outlaw Hawg and his rolling gang of killers.

My Review:  What do you do when everything you know has been turned upside down in a blink of an eye, and you are far from your own?  

This have changed dramatically for Josh, and it is a lot more than the absence of electricity. After a brush with an outlaw biker gang leads to an incredible night of chaos and a brush with the supernatural, Josh just wants to get home to be with his family, but the getting there is not going to be an easy road but at least it wont be lonely with Beth (with her own mission) by her side.  

Revelation Road 2 picks up where the first left off, and fulfills two purposes one is to give the viewer some more background on Josh with answering the question of why is he the way he is and is he aware of it?  We also get a little recap on exactly went down in the first movie and get more of an understanding on the relationship issues between the biker gang's leader Hawg and on Cat who seems so tortured through both films.  The viewer also sees how God has had a hand on their lives in a unique way for a unique purpose and even the negative parts can be used in a positive light.  

Revelation Road 2 has a smooth running plot that gives us some steps forward with some strong looks back.  As with other films like this, there are people who are reeling after an obvious rapture scenario with most not understanding what went on and still others who do get it and know full well that somehow they truly weren't the believers they thought themselves to be.  This always gives me food for thought.  The actors and actresses did a great job.  You will often find people who are a bit more canned, but not in this film.  The cast definitely took the time to really grow into character which for myself was greatly appreciated especially because I am one who is often disappointed when I see a Christian film come out with a wonderful message but the message is relayed by actors who are wooden, and everyone I try to share it with just shakes their head.  This is a film of quality with many wonderful moments.  Check it out.

Watch the official trailer here:

Haven't seen Revelation Road? Catch my review here: Movie Review - Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End

Watch the trailer here:

I purchased Revelation Road 2:  The Sea of Glass and Fire Blu-Ray at Family Christian Store as part of their Black Friday special.  It was $5!  I actually made a special trip just to get it.  So needless to say, nothing impacted my opinion.  I saw the first one for free and paid for this one, because the first was that good.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Today my husband and I will take it easy.  As we do, we will talk about all that we are thankful for.  The list is pretty huge.  One big one, we are finally not underwater on our mortgage.  We are also thankful that even when we were, we were still able to pay our mortgage.  We are thankful of course for our Lord and the blessings that He has given us.  We are thankful for our family.  There is no special order to what we are thankful for.  We are simply grateful for it all.  We don't have everything we may want, but we have most of what we need, and that is a lot really. 

Dinner - 
We have enjoyed an amazing ham thanks to my dad and step mom.  You know...I've got to actually share it.  It was from Burgers' Smokehouse.  It arrived at our door last week in a box with a styrofoam box and cold packs.  I was just about to go to the store for a turkey so this was one of those amazing treats!  Less time out shopping and less money spent...YAY!!!!!  We received the Spiral Sliced City Ham and thankfully directions on how to cook it.  Talk about easy!  Face down, 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.  I glazed it near the end, and let me just was THE best ham I've ever eaten.  It apparently was the best ham my husband had as well because through the whole meal he kept saying "This ham is incredible.  I want to eat more even though I'm full.  Wow.  Great job!"  

Normally this is not something I would purchase, but I'm thinking I just might save up so I can do this again.  A simple cooking project on Thanksgiving was a huge blessing.  I think I will do it again for Easter. that dinner is out of the way here's what is on the horizon next.

My husband has to work tomorrow so it is all about dessert and relaxing tonight.  Dessert consists of leftover Costco pumpkin pie (we had it at the office and someone had to take it home -  YAY me again!!!!) and no bake cherry cheese cake.  I love this recipe because it is pretty much what my mom made when I was a kid.  Except at some point she changed from Comstock cherries to Marachino (not a good change in my opinion because the Comstock cherries are far more tart and offset the sweetness of the cheesecake).  If you don't like suffering for your art of dessert, check out this recipe here which I picked up at Moms Who Think (I used to get it right off the cream cheese package here it is the second recipe). 

Because recipes disappear, I am also posting it here:

No Bake Cheesecake

Filling Ingredients:
1 pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 graham cracker pie crust

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Combine all ingredients, form into a pie tin (9 inch) and bake in oven at 375 for 10 minutes.  
Strawberry, blueberry or cherry pie filling
1. Mix cream cheese, lemon juice and Eagle Brand milk until smooth and creamy.
2. Pour into graham cracker pie crust. Chill for 6 hours until firm.
3. Top with cherry, strawberry, or blueberry pie filling or serve plain. it is time to do some more reading.  I am enjoying Debbie Macomber's "Starry Night."  I won it from Angela at Griperang's Bookmarks.  You should check out her blog.  She has some great reviews.  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thrifty Tips for November 21, 2013

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Thanksgiving is on the way.  One of my favorite things about holidays is setting up treats to be ready in the morning like homemade cinnamon rolls or this treat, Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole.  This is a perfect treat to go along with a nice apple sale at  Fry's.  It is an overnight cobbler which means breakfast will be set so you can work on that Thanksgiving dinner.  Find the recipe at Practical Stewardship.


This is the season for baking deals.  Keep your eyes open for great deals on spices, seasonings, sugars, flours, chocolate chips and other chips, canned milk (great for fudge) and just about anything baking related.  Don't forget the butter (you can freeze it).


More and more people are staying home on Black Friday shopping at stores and shopping online.  You can catch a lot of great deals and save some substantial money without leaving the family behind well before the pumpkin pie has settled.  One of my favorite sites for shopping online is a portal site called eBates.  EBates makes gets money for sending you to merchants, and they share that money with you via a quarterly check.  The prices are no different than if you searched the site yourself.  It is super easy, and even has a referral system where if you refer friends, you also get cash for each one of them (I believe it is $5). Learn more via this link.  Oh and an example of the stores you can shop at via eBates:  Kohl's, Sephora, Snapfish, Target, and lots more.  Over 2000 stores online.  Pretty great place to stop.  Another site that pays you back is  Always check between the two to get your best deal in cash back.

You can also get great online coupon codes at  It is another great stop to find extra online deals.

FREE EBOOKS (Please remember that these were free at the time of my posting.  Always confirm the price before you download.)

The Lawman Claims His Bride by Renee Ryan (AMAZON)

A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season by Katherine Paterson (AMAZON

Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt (Christian Mystery) (Squeaky Clean Mysteries) (AMAZON)


I found some great printables to assist your family in having some extra fun this thanksgiving.  Head over to Second Chance to Dream for some wonderful conversation printables that are perfect for the Thanksgiving table.  Follow this link.

Make the kids table a fun place to be with a great place mat printable for the kids to play with.  You know you loved them as a kid.  Print out a bunch for the kids at Embellish Goods.


Are you working on Black Friday?  Seattle's Best would love to send you a free coffee sample while supplies last.  Follow this link to their Facebook page to order your sample.



Russet Potatoes 10 lb Bag 97 cents (limit 1)
Albertsons Large Eggs 18 ct $1.88
Challenge Butter 1 lb quarters $1.88
Essential Everyday Cream Cheese 8 oz Select Varieties 77 cents
USDA Choice New York Strip Holiday Roast Whole, Hand Trimmed & Tied, Bone-in $3.99 lb


California Navel Oranges 77 cents lb
Kroger Cheese Select Varieties 6-8 oz $1.79
Red or Gold Yams or Sweet Potatoes 79 cents lb
Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji or Cameo Apples or Bartlett pears 99 cents lb
Organic, Acorn, Butternut or Spaghetti Squash 99 cents lb


Fresh All Natural Whole Pork Shoulder Bone-in, Single Roast, Sold whole in the bag $1.49
Fresh All Natural boneless Half Pork Loin sold in bag $1.99 lb
Bar S Meat Franks 16 oz Selected Varieties 99 cents each
Daisy Sour Cream 16 oz Regular or Light $1.99
Kind or Power Crunch Bars 1.4 oz Selected Varieties 4/$5

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thrifty Tips for November 14

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I am sure you  have heard it before "If you want to save money on produce, buy it when it is in season for your area."  This works because the cost of shipping is lower so the grocer does not have to charge you as much to recoup their costs.  This all sounds great, but what if you don't know what is in season in your area?  That is when you should go to the Peak-Season Map at  Now you can see by month and state exactly what fruits and veggies are in season so you can take advantage of the savings.  Here's a nice example, in Arizona beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, pumpkins and winter squash are in a healthy supply.

FREE EBOOKS (Keep in mind that these books were free at the time of my posting.  That can change so be sure to confirm the price before downloading)

Daughter of Twin Oaks (Secret Refuge Series #1) by Lauraine Snelling Baker Publishing (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)

Asking for Trouble: 1 (London Confidential) by Sandra Byrd Tyndale House Publishers Inc (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM)


Blackberries are on sale at Fry's.  Here is a link to a wonderful Blackberry Chocolate Angel Food Trifle from Keep Your Diet Real.  I'll be honest, it looks great and has low calories, but I didn't see any chocolate in it.  Still, I'd give it a shot.


Get five free music downloads at FREECCM and while you are there, listen to a free album commentary from Laura Story about her latest album "The God of Every Story."


Join Cinnabon's club and get a coupon for one free Minibon cinnamon roll and get a free Mochalatta Chill on your birthday.  Sign up at this link.

Do you like trying new products and are you will to give your opinion?  If so you should think about joining PinchMe.  After you register and tell them about yourself, you get an email confirmation and you can then choose to try products as they become available.  You can also earn rewards in addition to the free products.  I am totally new to it, but so far I like it and I have friends who have really enjoyed it.

Download a free Advent Activity Calendar for the family at Focus on the Family.  Start by telling them a bit about yourself (address and email) and they will send you to a page with all kinds of great activities.  Sign up and get your Advent Calendar Download here.

During the month of November you can also get a free subscription to Thriving Family magazine from Focus on the Family.  Find out more at this link.


Lowe's Build & Grow Clinic for the kids on December 14th will be a cute little Christmas train engine.  Spaces are filling up quickly so head on over to the sign up page today.



Blackberries 6 oz 99 cents
Boneless Petite Sirloin Steaks USDA Choice, Beef Loin, Family Pack Buy 1 Get 2 Free (save up to $8.99 lb)
Kroger Boneless Chicken Breasts or Thighs, Fresh, USDA Inspected $1.67 lb
Cook's Spiral Sliced Ham Bone-In, Smoked $1.67 lb (limit 1)
Iceberg, Romaine, Red or Green Leaf Lettuce 99 cents each


Albertsons Gallon Milk Select Varieties $1.87
Cuties Clementines 3 lb bag $2.99
Super Lean Ground Beef 93% Lean, Any Size Package $2.97 lb
Red, Ripe Large Slicing Tomatoes $1.69 lb
Bunch Beets $1.49 each


Safeway  Farms Fresh Split Chicken Breast Bone-in or Drumsticks, Thighs or Leg Quarters 99 cents lb
Safeway Turkey Frozen Grade A 8-22 lb Limit 1 with an additional $25 purchase while supplies last 79 cents lb
Lucerne Greek Mousse or Indulgent Yogurt 4.05 to 5.5 oz Select Varieties 88 cents 
Fresh Cranberries 12 oz Package 2/$5

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Renewing Comittment To Study & Prayer

One of the easiest things to skip can be our prayer time and study in God's word.  The funny thing is, it is really the most vital thing for us to do each and every day.  As a Christian, we can so easily slip under attack.  The enemy is continually seeking those opportunities.  Don't think the devil has forgotten about you.  He waits.  

Luke 22:31 says that Satan desires to sift you like wheat.  

Not a pretty picture.  Don't give him a minute of an opening. 

Monday through Friday I start my day early (4:45 am) so I can pray and read God's word.  Saturday and Sunday, I don't do this.  Why?  Because I want to sleep in.  I wonder what my entire week would look like if I take my reading and prayer seriously every day of the week.  

This week, I'll find out.  

Today at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study blog Ginny Blankenship encouraged us all to really focus on our study and commit to that time with God.  It doesn't have to be  in the morning, but for me, it does.  Life will swiftly take me with it if I let it.  I refuse to let another day go by where I give Satan even an inch. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thrifty Tips for November 7, 2013

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With Thanksgiving on the way and lots of pumpkin to be had, I thought I'd share this easy recipe for pumpkin doggie treats.  Specifically Pumpkin Peanut Butter Doggie Treats.  The nice thing about this recipe is if one of the kids grabs one, you wont freak out.  Follow this link to Pet Coupon Savings for the recipe as well as other pet savings tips.  PS After Thanksgiving, I often find loads of canned organic pumpkin super cheap in the grocery markdown aisle.

The cats don't have to be left out either.  There's no pumpkin in this one, tuna is the main nosh ingredient for this recipe that you can get by following this link to Tails Inc


Do you want to find a great way to save money?  Start making more of your own cleaning products.  I make my own liquid laundry detergent.  The last batch I made was at the end of February 2012 (and I shared the recipe here on March1, 2012) and it cost me less than $5 to make.  We are talking over a year and a half of use on that batch and I am still going!  I am sure it will last at least two years for my family of three (two messy dudes in that count).  Think about how much money that saves.  I found a great site called Live On Less and they have a page of all kinds of DIY cleaning products that can get you on the way to additional household savings.  Follow this link for 12 recipes that can definitely help you out.  Those recipes include leather cleaner and conditioner, shower spray, all-purpose spray cleaner, soap scum remover, cleaning wipes, glass cleaner and more.


November is a great month for buying cooking supplies.  Stores have stocked up because of the past warm weather weddings, and now is the time that they need to release some product.  Speaking of weddings.  Wedding dresses are also at an all time low price at this time of the year so it is a great time for brides-to-be to get shopping.  Tools are another great buy in the month of November but hold out until Black Friday.  I always buy a few for my son.  My goal is for him to have a fully stocked toolbox by the time he gets out on his own. 

FREE EBOOKS (Remember that these books were free at the time of my posting.  Always check the price before downloading)

A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris Bethany House Publishing (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM)

The Heart of Thornton Creek by Bonnie Leon Revell Publishing (AMAZON) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (BARNES & NOBLE)

The Choice by Suzanne  Woods Fisher Baker Revell Publishing (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)

The Meeting Place by Janet Oke and T. Davis Bunn Bethany House Publishers (AMAZON) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (BARNES & NOBLE)


FreeCCM has four free downloads including Laura Story's "God of Every Story."



Pork Loin Back Ribs - Previously Frozen Buy 1 Get 3 Free ($8.99 lb reg) Limit One Per Transaction
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts $1.77 lb
Jennie-O Oven Roasted Turkey Breast or Signature Virginia Smoked Ham $3.99 lb (deli)
Albertsons Gallon Milk Select Varieties $1.87 limit 2
Fuji, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith Apples 77 cents lb


Fresh All Natural Pork Loin Assorted Chops Bone-in Any Size Package $1.59 lb
Large Navel Oranges 99 cents lb
Safeway Smoked Shank Half Ham $1.69 lb
Blue Bell Ice Cream Half Gallon Selected Varieties $3.99
Bartlett Pears or Red or Bosc Pears 99 cents lb


Kroger Chicken 99 cents lb
Boneless Pork Loin Moist & Tender Sold in Bag $1.99 lb
Lots of buy 10 save $5 (mix and match sales including:
Land O Lakes Butter or Challenge Select Varieties 15-16 oz $1.88
Green Giant Vegetables Select Varieties 14-15.3 oz Can or Campbell's Cream of Mushroom or chicken Soup 10.75 oz .49 cents
Marie  Callender's Entree or Healthy Choice Select Varieties 9-19 oz $1.49

Sunday, November 3, 2013

This Week's Memory Verse - A Confident Heart - Proverbs 31 OBS

I ran a little late on last week's study which meant I played catch up today.  Not easy.  Chapter Five of "A Confident Heart" by  Renee Swope is a wonderful chapter, but I was an emotional wreck by the time I was through.  I used up the remainder of a box of tissue and then hid out in the bathroom to cry my way through the discussion questions.  This way I could splash lots of cold water on my face.  Funny, I never realized that people really did that.  I also had rolls of TP on hand just in case.  This week's chapter is titled:  "When Doubt Whispers 'I'm Not Good Enough.'"  I hope that it helps me move forward.  I know that I need to feel my past, but not live there.  

This week's verse is:

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:12  NIV

This week, I am hoping to tackle it in several translations.  

I believe that God indeed does love me.  I believe that He has a plan and purpose for my life.  Now I need to live it.