Sunday, October 31, 2010

It all begins tomorrow! NanoWrimo 10'!

Well, October will be over in about 15 minutes in my neck of the woods and that can only mean one thing!  Ok, so it can actually probably mean a lot of things, but one thing in particular to me- the start of National Novel Writing Month!  I have been planning on this about a month and a half now and now that it is almost here I feel giddy, anxious, excited and leery all at the same time!

Last minute jitters have me questioning everything!  Will my plot be interesting enough to elaborate on to actually create an entire 50,000 word novel?  I have I prepared enough to not have a total brain fart?  Is my story just plain dumb?  We shall see!

It's not that I haven't prepared, because I have, but not as much as maybe I should have.  I do have a general breakdown of my chapters, and a good idea of who my characters are and why they are the way they are, but you can always be more prepared!

Well, wish me luck- better yet, pray for me!  This is going to be such an adventure and I have a lot of things working against me, but I am still convinced that I can end up as a finisher (or "winner" in the NanoWrimo world).  Buckle up- here we (or I, I guess) go!  (But if you do happen to be joining the madness, I would love to know)!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parting of the Red Sea Cake

This past weekend I delivered my third and last cake for the month (and probably for a little while- I need a little cake break).  This one was in honor of a friend's son's 1st birthday.  His name is Moses, so, appropriately enough, I made the parting of the Red Sea!

This was probably the most fun cake I have gotten to make so far. It was the most relaxing because I made sure to give myself more than enough time- no rushing and no late nights!  I also felt like I was able to get the most creative and just kind of have fun.  They gave me no specifications so I really just got to run with it.

I made pretty much everything out of fondant.  For the signs I added in some Gum-Tex (also known as Tylose) powder to help stiffen them and make them stronger.  For the ground in between the walls of water I made a mix of brown sugar and cocoa powder (yum!).  To finish it off I made white caps with royal icing and then brushed the whole thing down with glucose to give the whole thing a wet look.

I can't get over how much I love using my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer for making cakes (aside from fondant- which I will never make again!).  I love how easy it is to add ingredients through the top of the lid since there is no over-hanging component as there is with most other mixers.  It is also so easy to be able to see what exactly is happening within the bowl.  Plus, the lid also definitely helps cut back on the amount of powdered ingredients that puff up out of the bowl- which is nice for clean-up!

Remember- this is the time to buy a BOSCH mixer from Marmee's Bread Market because from now to the end of the year she is offering the food processor attachment for only $30 with the purchase of a mixer.  That is a total steal!  Christmas is coming- it would be a great gift to ask for this year!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The SIlent Governess- Review

So, sometime last week I decided that I better finally buckle down and finish reading a few of the books I have had on my shelf for quite sometime, just waiting to be reviewed.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally get around to it.  Under normal circumstances I am an avid reader and find much enjoyment in it.  But, as many of you know, the last, oh I don't know, year, has not been normal.

Anyhow- once I actually started reading The Silent Governess I absolutely fell in love!  Wow- this book was beyond lovely!  Filled with suspense and the ever-growing possibility of romance, I was captivated.  I couldn't put it down!  I would be lying if I said that I didn't sneakily stay up until the wee hour of 2:00am last night to finish the last hundred pages or so!  I could easily see this book being turned into a movie, a very good movie, and I don't think that about every book I read.

Julie Klassen did such an amazing job of capturing the essence of the Victorian era and researching the historical details that I almost felt like I was learning something too... but that's not the point- it was just great fiction!  Even the language presented a new challenge being very accurately akin to what would have actually been spoken in 1800s England.

Can you tell I liked it?

Go get it!  You'll like it too!

You can purchase The Silent Governess right here.

This book was provided to me for honest review by Bethany House publishers.  All opinions are entirely my own.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


For my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer feature post this week I thought I would show you all a couple "little" cakes I have recently made.

First of all, you may recall my referring to the near-death experience my mixer encountered at the hands of a dreadful fondant recipe I attempted making for these cakes.  Well, I am happy to report that after we took the bowl apart and I (sheepishly) laid hands on my mixer today, praying, "Dear Lord, Please let this baby work!!"- my beautiful mixer is working without a hiccup!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!!

On to the cakes!  The first one I made a few weeks ago was a Bridal Shower cake with a Price is Right Theme.  I decided to make a shrunken version of the set of the original show and I changed the logo to "Their Love is Right" (as requested).

Front View
Top View
Side View
Back View w/logo
So, I was actually not happy with this cake.  It was the first one I had done in quite a while and it was incredibly complex!  The fondant wasn't as smooth as I wanted it to be and there were lots of little cracks and smudges that just didn't live up to my expectations.  I just couldn't see past the flaws.  I was secretly hoping that the client's (she is also a good friend) husband would drop the cake on the way into the building, but as luck would have it, he did not.  They loved and said it was great, but I still just wish it could have been better.

All in all this cake took me somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 hours, start to finish.  There was more than one 4:00am bedtime during the process of this cake!  Yikes!

The following weekend I made a 10/10/10 cake for a friend's son who was turning... 10!  (What are the odds?!)  I was much happier with how this cake turned out.  Things just all-in-all went more smoothly and quicker as well (only about 15 hours!).  This cake was much more fun to make because I felt more confident and things went so much easier.  the most time consuming part was cutting out all of the fondant pieces (the yellow ones were also painted in gold luster dust).  There were a couple late nights associated with this cake but nothing like before.

To top off this experience, the clients have really enjoyed the taste of the cake!  Yeah!  Considering that I am not a huge fan of cake myself, this was something I was really worried about, so I am glad they liked it!

One more cake to go this coming weekend, which I will be sharing with you soon!  So thankful for my BOSCH Mixer to make the baking process go off quickly and easily!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A little Mother Culture!

As some of you may recall, over the summer I reviewed the book Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola, and the gist of it was that I was completely in love with the book and couldn't wait to read the sequel, Lessons at Blackberry Inn.

Well, shortly after my review I came across Karen's blog, Moments with Mother Culture, which I was positively thrilled about, and shared with her that I had reviewed her book.  Imagine my surprise and complete gratitude when she not only visited my blog and commented but also sent me the sweetest email in which she offered to send me a free copy of Lessons at Blackberry Inn out of appreciation for my review!  I was shocked and beyond delighted!  It is always a humbling thing to have an author or speaker that you have reviewed actually read your work, but then to offer to also send me her book was thrilling, especially since I have been dying to read it!

Just to add to my excitement when the package arrived it had not one but TWO of her books inside- Lessons at Blackberry Inn (which she signed!  Eeeeek!) AND Story Starters (which I will be discussing more on my homeschool blog, The World According to Them, very soon)!  And get this- she even wrapped each book in tissue paper!  It was the sweetest gift and I am so honored to have received it!

I wasn't going to start reading until I had finished the other books that I have been working on... but I couldn't resist!  So, I have stashed it in a spot that I can fairly regularly sneak off to for a few minutes alone and I try to read a couple of pages whenever I can!  I'm about a third of the way in and loving it just as much as Pocketful of Pinecones!  I will be sure to let you all know what I think when I am finished!

Thank you so much Karen for such a lovely gift!  I appreciate your generosity and extravagance more than you can know!

Now for a little Thankful Thursday...

#21.  Generous authors who go above and beyond

#22.  MOPS- a lovely break yesterday

#23.  MOPPETS Volunteers- who deal with even the fussiest of kiddos

#24.  friends who offer support and encouragement

#25.  friends who allow you to return the favor and get the attention off yourself

#26.  Kay Arthur podcasts

#27.  cool fall days

#28.  little boys who say and do the funniest things I've ever heard and seen

#29.  second (and third, and fourth, and infinity) chances

#30.  creative inspiration

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Buttermilk Oat Bread!

Could my little bread-making land seriously get any better?!  The deliciousness emanating from my house on a weekly basis is so extravagant I hardly know what to do with myself!  It thrills me beyond belief that we have had exclusively homemade bread for almost two whole months now (thanks to my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market!).

Tonight I tried out Marmee's recipe for Buttermilk Oat Bread- brilliant!  So yummy!  This bread is seriously yummy enough that you could even eat it without butter (but, who am I kidding, why would you want to?!)!  I can't wait to send my husband to work with a couple of sandwiches on it tomorrow morning because I know he is just going to love it!  True to form, I did substitute some of the unbleached bread flour for my fresh-milled whole wheat and still had wonderful results. I have yet to try one of Marmee's recipes that we don't absolutely adore (and devour in short order!).

Have I mentioned one of my favorite things about owning a BOSCH?  It has allowed me to be giving in a time when I ordinarily would not have anything to give.  We have been so broke that we could hardly see straight but having my BOSCH at my side has allowed me to bless other families with some homemade goodness on a regular basis, which in return has been a blessing to me.  It is good for the soul to be able to give!  I have been able to share at least one loaf from every batch of bread I have made and it is incredibly satisfying- just fills me up!

I do seem to be running into one snafoo though that I am hoping it will work itself out when my husband looks at my machine, but last week I was baking a cake for a friend and made an attempt at homemade fondant that went incredibly wrong.  Apparently the stiffness of the fondant was just too much for my cookie paddles to handle and the plastic gears on the bowl and the paddles began to grind on each other, something terrible.  As soon as the horrible sound began to emit from my machine and I realized what was going on, I turned it off, but a small amount of damage had already been done to the plastic- nothing that inhibited the machine from working once the malicious fondant was removed (not to readers- don't bother trying to make it- just buy it!).

Today, however, when I was making my bread, a clunking sound kept coming from the bowl on my machine.  My husband listened to it and thinks it is something with the gears- great.  I am trying not to let devastation set in quite yet and just need to have him look at it more and find my warranty info.  How upsetting!  I can't bear to think of being without my machine!  :-( Hopefully we will get it worked out quickly and relatively painlessly!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sense and Sensibility Insight Edition Review!

I have always wanted to read Jane Austen but, to be honest, have always been rather intimidated.  However, I have recently found two things that dramatically help put that intimidation aside- reading in an English accent (haha- seriously!) and using the Insight Editions of her work!

If you haven't heard of the Insight Editions published by Bethany House, you have really got to check them out!  All throughout the books they sprinkle little trivia and helpful side-notes.  Everything from how things were depicted in film adaptations, to what was happening in Jane's real life at the time of her authorship, to giving the context and definition to various phrases and references in the books, the Insight Editions truly give that extra little verve and interest to the classic works.  The extras are well written and added with care by a fellow author (Julie Klassen) who has a genuine love and appreciation for Austen's work.

Now, of course, Jane Austen stands on her own just fine, but having always been an avid watcher of DVD Bonus Features, the Insight Edition was right up my alley!  If you have ever considered purchasing one of these classics, I would highly recommend going the Insight Edition route!

To purchase and find out more about the Insight Edition of Sense and Sensibility, you can visit Bethany House Publishers.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for honest review.  All opinions are entirely my own.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gotta Love CSN!

It is so fun to be one of CSN's preferred bloggers!  I have another review coming up with them and now that we may possibly be moving, the options seriously seem endless for what I could review!  I mean, I could get some lovely nesting tables or I could get a nice stand for our TV!  I have no idea how I am going to narrow it down between all the thousands of products offered at CSN's more than 200 stores!

What would you get?

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nano Wrimo is coming- 10 Ways to Prepare!

On Friday the clan over at The office of letters and Light launched the updated site for National Novel Writing Month '10 (NanoWrimo for short)!  I have been waiting for this ever sine I decided to be come an official participant a few weeks ago! 

To think that one month from now I will be working on my first novel is thrilling and terrifying!  I want to be as prepared as possible so that it goes smoothly and I actually stand a chance to finish, so I am diving into my research and whatnot this month.  In this process I have been coming across a few sites that I am finding very helpful and I wanted to share them with you, just in case you decide to take the plunge too!

1. The Snowflake Method- this is the main way I am going to prepare to start writing.  I like the step by step process that allows you to lay out and expand on your story and characters with the byproduct of shortening your writing time!  Cause, hello?!  I will only have a month!

2. Tricia Goyer's site has loads of advise and great links to help you become a better writer.  Plus, she has a writing feature on her blog every Wednesday (if you've never read her stuff, you should).

3. Robin Jones Gunn (the single author who has most significantly and consistently impacted me since the time I was 12) also has some tips on her site.  I like her idea of cutting out pictures from magazines as your characters and getting to know them inside and out before you ever start writing.

4. The Nanowrimo forums- connect with other participants, bounce ideas off each other, commiserate and get encouragement to stay on track!

5. Book in a Month- This book I really want but am probably not going to be able to get before November.  I think it would be such a helpful tool (obviously!)!

6. A Guide To Writing Your Novel- This book on writing fiction sounds amazing and has great reviews.  Even Tricia Goyer said it really helped her career.

7. The Old Schoolhouse Expo has a few speakers who are focusing on writing and although we can't afford for me to get a ticket to the live online event I do hope that I can eventually by the download version (once again- Tricia Goyer is a speaker!).

8. My Writing Nook site and app- this is the program I intend to use to write in.  It is synced through google so it is super secure and will allow me to write on my iphone also, so I will never loose a moment.

9. Evernote has been helpful to stash my crazy thoughts and research and since it's also on my iphone it's really accessible and helpful.

10. Alright, so this one is totally just a dream and never going to actually happen, but I, of course, would LOVE an iPad!  This would obviously be a better choice than my phone, but I'll work with what I've got.  Someday...

So, are you going to join in?  Have you come up with any other resources for this month-long adventure?  I'd love to hear!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Mmmmm- Pizza!  It's a fairly main staple in our house.  Cheap.  Covers lots of food groups. :-)  Oh- and we usually have leftovers to cover a whole second night of dinner!

I have to admit though, before I got my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market, I would (cringe) buy my pizza dough from a local supermarket.  I know, I know.  But they have great French bread and it was just easier (if I'm being honest)!  Now, however, I can honestly say that it is actually easier for me to make my own pizza dough than run to the store.  Seriously!  Not to mention it being loads better for us and tasting wonderful!

I have actually tried two different recipes as crust in the past two months, both from Marmee's Bread Basket Cookbook.  The first we tried was the actual Pizza Dough recipe in the book.  While we liked it (I especially), I could tell for my hubs that going from a strictly white flour crust to a mostly whole wheat crust was a bit of a stretch.  So, the next time around I used Marmee's Best Bread recipe and it was WONDERFUL!  Thumbs up all around!

I make pizza enough that I will probably continue to experiment with recipes, just for the fun of it.  I know my husband would love if I tried out Marmee's French Bread recipe or possibly even her Country White.  I'll be sure to let you all know about them as soon as we give them a shot!

I also wanted to mention an AWESOME deal that Marmee is currently running!  From now until December 31 (or until further notice) with the purchase of a BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer you can get a Food Processor attachment for only $30!!!  That is such a steal!  These attachments usually sell for $105! This is the one attachment that I personally would most like to have- so useful and so nice that you don't have to have another whole machine on your counter!  So, if you have ever thought of getting a BOSCH, now is the time!!!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I just wanted to post a little note to let you all know that Marmee Dear is offering a special on her 2011

Family Yearbook 

and Wall Calendar 

and they both end tonight!!  Head on over there to take advantage of the specials before they disappear!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!