Sunday, February 20, 2011

Voices of the Faithful II- Review

I recently received Voices of the Faithful II from Thomas Nelson Publishers and I honestly didn't know what to expect since I was not familiar with the series by and Beth Moore.  But knowing I very much enjoy pretty much anything by Beth Moore, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

The book is a year long devotional with a short story or testimonial for each day written by a missionary from around the world.  Each day also includes a short scripture that pertains to the devotion and a prayer about the subject matter, for the foreign peoples, or for the missionary.

Although I am not typically drawn for any significant length of time to these sorts of devotions, I have found these to be refreshing and enlightening.  In fact, this morning as I was reading the prayer for a specific family who had shared their account of God's miraculous provision, I thought, "Wow- now this family in the third world has prayers being sent up specifically for them all around the world!  How amazing is that?!"  I would love to hear what has happened for them since the time this book was written as I am sure the Lord is still working in powerful ways for them.  It was crazy to think what a huge impact a simple book could have.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light and short devotional to round out their quiet time and either start out or wrap up their day.  You can purchase it here on Amazon, and by the way, it's on sale for only $7.80 right now!

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!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Earth Mama Angel Baby Review

I was beyond thrilled to receive an invitation to review Earth Mama Angel Baby's Angel Shampoo & Body Wash along with Earth Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray, late last year. I had been wanting to try the wash out for quite some time seeing as how Earth Mama Angel Baby is one of the VERY few body care companies that has proven a zero toxicity rating in their products. I'm always looking out for the least harmful, but still effective, body care products for my family so Angel Baby Wash sounded like a great possibility.

So, once I got the bottle of Angel Wash into my anxious little hands what did I think?  Well, my first thought was, "mmmmm- orange!" A generous amount of orange extract is used to give the wash a lovely fruity quality, which I instantly loved.  However, (and this may sound a little odd) I realized after using it on Lion Cub that the scent didn't mix well with his natural scents.  He tends to emit a very distinct scent, not bad, just distinct, and when mixed with the orange oils it got funky.  He just didn't smell sweet and like himself anymore.  But with that said, I DO love using the Angel Wash for myself and have had no complaints from the hubs.  So, I guess it's a bit of a love/ hate relationship in the scent department.

The other thing I can't help but point out is the foaming dispenser.  At first I thought I would love this feature, however I quickly felt jipped as my precious bottle of angel goodness began disappearing all too quickly.  To be honest, for the money, I think you should receive a full bottle of concentrate and then could possibly add a pump bottle for an additional buck fifty or something.  I would probably skip the pump all together though, as we use loofas in this house and it is difficult to get a good lather in a loofa with a foaming dispenser.  I should mention that you can just buy the wash in a larger, refill bottle, but it still is not concentrate.

As far as the wash itself went though, in its effectiveness and feel, I loved it.  It rinsed off cleanly and was the closest thing to luxurious that I have encountered in a zero-toxicity product.  There is definitely something to be said for that!
But let's move on, shall we?  I have nothing but good things to say about the Mama's bottom products they sent me- Earth Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray!  Cause ladies, let's be real here- if you have taken any more than an hour to push a baby out of your bajango, let alone more than one, then you probably have issues "rear" up in this area from time to time.

I found their products to be soothing and downright lovely.  Plus, I would much rather have someone stumble across one of these nicely packaged products in my medicine drawer than a tube of preparation-H!  Ya' feelin' me?!

I can't thank Earth Mama Angel Baby enough for the opportunity to test out their lovely products!  I also want to mention that Earth Mama Angel Baby has a lot of great resources on their website, along with their products, for breastfeeding help (they even have a free "Herbs & Breastfeeding" ebook for download) and pregnancy and infant loss, among other things.  Even if you decide to not purchase anything from them, their website is a must-see/read!  Oh, and did I mention it is also beautiful?! Cause it is!

Thanks again Earth Mama Angel Baby!

I received products free of charge from Earth Mama Angel Baby for honest review.  All opinions are solely 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, February 18, 2011

I amazed my husband with my BOSCH, even though my Pretzels were a failure!

Last week one of my favorite foodie blogs posted a recipe for pretzel bites that the author positively swore by.  She said they were heaven in a bite and since she had never steered my wrong before I soon went about making a double batch of these little confections to delight my family with.

I whipped out my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer, collected my ingredients and started heaping in the extra-large helpings, just sure that they would barely get out of the oven before they were devoured.

Well, I was right, sort of.  They barely got out of the oven before my husband showed up in the kitchen, burning his lips off to try one of my salty treats.  But seeing as how he is always fairly critical of the recipes I try, I shrugged off his instant grimace of disapproval and insisted that he couldn't judge them yet because they still need to be doused in butter not one, but three times!  ANYTHING should be heavenly after three coats of butter, shouldn't it?

Don't let looks deceive you- they were awful!

Much to my dismay- they were a TOTAL bust!  They were HORRIBLE!  After we realized just how bad they were I even tried coating each bite in a generous helping of brown sugar and cinnamon, but it was no use.  My time and ingredients had been squandered on a failure.  Bwahhhhh!!! :-(

(insert jazzy elevator music here- please stay on the line while Mama Kenz attempts to regain her composure)

I won't even give you the link to the recipe because I wouldn't want to subject you to the temptation of trying to make them edible.  And since I ordinarily adore this foodie blog, I wouldn't want to slander its name.  But if you happen to come across a pretzel bites recipe that swears you will likely fly into orbit once you taste those little morsels... well, you've been forewarned!

On the bright side, I did impress my husband with my kitchen's pride and joy- my BOSCH!  As he saw the trays upon trays of bites covering every surface in the room, he asked, "How did you make those things?  In your mixer?  You can just use whatever recipe?"

To which I responded, "Well... yeah!  You think I would have kneaded a double batch of those ridiculous things by hand?!  Psh!  Do you know me at all?"

I did have a really cute and eager helper though!  That's his "say cheese" face!
But the truth is, that I really do love that I can not only use my BOSCH for any baking recipe, but thanks to Marmee's tutelage in her Breadbasket Cookbook and Make It Special DVD, I also know how to rearrange the ingredients in pretty much any recipe to make them work the most successfully (such as ensuring that your bread rises well and such).  That is such invaluable information that I am so thankful to have learned from her!

In conclusion- I think for now I will be sticking more closely to Marmee's delicious recipes because there hasn't been one yet that we have not only loved but been downright impressed with!  Go give her a visit to see some of the awesome recipes, products and information she has to offer at Marmee's Bread Market!

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!

What is up with blogger?! Anyone else?!

Alright- for 2 days now I have been trying to upload pictures to blogger and it keeps saying they are rejected by the server!  Is anyone else having this problem?!  I seriously have posts that I need to publish, BADLY, and I can't upload ANY pics!  Help!!

***Update***  Apparently it was Safari.  I had been using Safari for quite a while because I couldn't post pictures to blogger with Firefox (my preferred program), but now they have apparently flip-flopped!  Weird!

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, February 17, 2011

Easy Lunchboxes- Pack your Kids' Lunch Fast, Bento-Box Style!

I had been wanting to try out Easy Lunchboxes for so long that by the time they actually arrived on my doorstep I was positively giddy!  Funnier yet, my excitement had rubbed off on my boys and they were almost as excited as me!

So, the verdict- were they really all they cracked up to be?!  Honestly?!  YES!

I never thought I'd be in love with a lunch box!

I am!

We're packing up and whisking away on a love affair to France.

ORRRRR... I'm packing meals in them all the time for trips to our local science center, co-op, park, mall, grandma's house, friends houses, or just plain old sitting at home on a dreary winter day!  We just can't get enough of these things!

I love how easy they are to pack.  I line them all up on the counter and can easily go down the row and plunk all my little selections in each of the compartments with no fuss and no mess, in just minutes. They are easy and simple!

Oh, and did I mention that my boys love eating out of them?!  This is big, especially for Rhythm, since he is such a picky eater and we will try almost whatever tactics and motivators we can to get him to eat!  I will take serving his meals in an Easy Lunchbox over bribing him with dessert ANY day!

My next favorite thing is how three whole containers fit into a cooler bag, or two containers and both boys drinks.  Soooo much easier than keeping track of separate lunch boxes!  Can you say perfect for the homeschool family?!

No really, can you?


Beyond all that I am also a huge fan of the bento box style of the containers that eliminates the need for any sort of throw away.  No tin foil, no stinky plastic baggies- just neat little BPA free, kid-friendly containers.

What it really boils down to is that I would be telling you about these lunch boxes even if they hadn't sent me a set to try, and that I absolutely will be expanding my collection of containers and bags as we expand our family (don't get excited- no news there, just thinkin' ahead).  They really have the best of every feature I was looking for in a lunch box and we couldn't be more thrilled with this ingenius product line.

Even more thrilling is that I now have the opportunity to offer a set of containers and a bag to one of my lucky readers!

Want to enter?  I'm going to make it really simple for you- just one way to enter.  Swing by and then come back here and tell me your favorite lunch idea from their gallery!  That's it!

I will draw a winner on Monday February 28, 2011 and post it on my blog & email the winner- so be sure you include a way for me to contact you if you haven't enabled your email address in blogger.

But hey- if you want to keep up with all their sales, news, and cool stuff they offer online (like parenting webinars and the Let's Do Lunch Musical Web Series starring the creator- Kelly Lester- along with celebrity guests!  Yes- I'm serious!) then make sure to follow Easy Lunch Boxes on Twitter and Facebook!

This giveaway is offered to US & Canadian residents only. Please do not enter this giveaway if you have won or received free product from EasyLunchboxes within the past 3 months. 

I received product from Easy Lunchboxes for the purpose of honest review.  All opinions are solely 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!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breads, Braids and BOSCH!

Last week I finally got to get a hair cut (I mean, it had been over a year people)!  Luckily my stylist not only possesses awesome haircutting abilities, but a compassionate heart and willingness to trade, in this case, styling for bread-y goodness!

I had planned on making her bread and my famous caramel bars, but a week before my appointment she told me that she had cut all white flour and sugar out of her diet.  Eeek!  What to do?!  I decided to make a good old, standard, home-milled flour, whole wheat loaf (from Marmee's Bread Basket Cookbook, of course!) for starters.  I then used some of that same dough to make one of those awesome braids I learned how to make from Marmee's Make it Special DVD.

At first I was a little stumped as to what I should put in the braid as I usually would use a good helping of brown sugar and cinnamon.  Eventually I decided to go with honey, chopped walnuts and cinnamon- it smelled heavenly!  It was all I could do to keep the greedy little paws of my family off of it!

My packages weren't pretty, but they were tasty!  I did pitch in a little bit of mulah since I didn't feel like 2 loaves of bread were quite a fair trade.  I wanted to bring her some frozen dinner rolls and bread loaves too but she didn't have a freezer at her salon.  :-(  It was still SUPER nice to get the discount though.  Oh, and I love my hair (even though this picture doesn't do it justice... at all).

After- sorry for the horrible picture!
This was another one of those great ways I was able to simply and easily bless others (and myself!) with my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer.  I have had it for almost six months now and don't know what I would do without it!  I use it so much and we just love it!  Another huge thank you to Marmee's Bread Market for their sponsorship!

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, February 3, 2011

True Treasures- a book review

It was one of those days.  You know the kind.

One of those days that the only way I could have qualified as a good 'keeper of the home' would have been if that meant I was supposed to keepa' you (and anyone else) outta' my home so they wouldn't become witness to the insane chaos and mess.

My children were annoying me.  Yes, annoying.  Couldn't they tell that mama had a lot to do, too much to do, and that I really just needed them to play quietly by themselves?  Couldn't they stop fighting and getting into things?!  "Please boys!" I pleaded.

Why, then, at that moment, did I decide to read the words of Lorrie Flem?  As if softly whispering...

"Slow and steady...."

There is nothing slow about living with little boys and our life is about as steady as a teeter-totter!  (I sternly and almost fiercely respond!)

"One of a mother's busiest seasons of life is when her children are young...."

Well, Amen there!  Finally- she's getting it!

"I often tell mothers of young children to stay home and just try to get the basics done every day..."

Wait!  I have bigger things to do than just the basics!  I'm aspiring and creative- there is more to me than this motherhood gig!  I'm not doing enough if I am just doing the basics!

"Enjoy your children and don't wish away these years.."

But they are so hard!!!  Once my kids are just a little bit older I will like my life better...

"How do you look at taking care of your children's needs... Do you see them as interruptions?"

Well, um... yes! (I roll my eyes)

"They're not."

Wait... what?  (I pause)

"They are some of the most important daily duties as a blessed mother of young children! ...We are training and shaping young lives, and in the process, we are allowing the Lord to shape ours as we yield to Him each day... We are ministering for the Lord as we minister to our family!"

(Chirp, chirp- ya know, the crickets- while I process)

"Some days, being a Godly mother is all we can accomplish- and it is a BIG accomplishment... Eventually the undone jobs will get done, but in the meantime, our children have a mother who truly loves and cares for them by spending her time with them."


I place the scrub brush back in the sink.

I shut the laptop and tuck it away.

I turn the phone to silent.

Then I quietly navigate my way through the mess in the play room to get to the neglected box of legos that they have been asking me to build with them for a week.  I find the boys behind the couch playing with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

"Do you guys want to build Legos with me?"  I suddenly feel like a sheepish child, asking my own children to play, but in that moment their eyes begin to sparkle as they quickly dart into the living room to play with mama- one of their favorite people in the whole world to play with.  Hmmmm... something to savor, 'cause it won't always be this way.

We sit and build- planes, trucks, sky scrapers- it doesn't really matter because we are together.  I am there, teaching them how to share by example and squelching fights before they reach the ear-piercing levels that normally draw my attention.  We enjoy each other.  No distractions, just us.

My boys quickly obey when it comes time to clean up, because I work alongside them.  They then pick out a few cars and follow me into the kitchen as I finish the dishes and for once don't let it get to me when they race around my legs and over the limited space on our tiny kitchen floor.  Instead, I choose to enjoy their antics, listening to the funny exchanges they have between each other that I too often miss.

I realize that this is what Lorrie was talking about.  Playing with Legos was the most important work I did that day and I enjoyed it.  Mothering the young is life at it's simplest- living in the moment and just doing the next thing.  The rest?  It's just frosting.


This is the kind of goodness, refreshing and encouragement you can find in True Treasures, the new book just released by Eternal Encouragement Magazine (formerly TEACH Magazine).  Overflowing with wisdom and kind prodding towards better things in marriage, parenting, homemaking, homeschooling and your walk with Jesus, this book is truly a treasure that I will open and read again and again.  These words are timeless and inspired!

Visit for this and many other great products published by Mrs. Lorrie Flem.  You can also visit for more than 50 reviews on True Treasures.  Use the coupon code: GabbyMom, for $4 off your purchase of True Treasures between now and May 31, 2011.  (Only one per customer please)

I received this product as the Head Mama for The Gabby Moms blogging program of Eternal Encouragement Magazine.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

All quotes from Mrs. Lorrie Flem in the article Slow and Steady, pages 16-17 of True Treasures.

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!

Country White Bread- Pass me the butter!

This past weekend I decided to whip up a batch of Marmee's Country White Bread from The Bread Basket Cookbook.  Yes, a bit of a departure from our usual whole-grain standards, but I figured we were due for a treat and I wanted to try something new.

Can you hear the angels singing?
Can I just say that slicing through this bread was like slicing through butter!?  And it was perfectly paired with butter and strawberry jam.  The kids and I were in heaven (oh, and my hubby was too, for the one piece he managed to snag)!  I cut extra-thick slices to allow the density and softness of this bread to have it's full effect on our eager mouths!

Yup- that's the lone piece my husband received!  Sorry babe!
Whenever I make a new recipe my husband and I always sit and analyze what we think I could do with it- would it be good as pizza crust? or french toast? ...and so on and so forth.  I definitely think it would fit into the french toast category since the 4 eggs in the recipe allowed it to take on an almost brioche quality.  Pizza is definitely an option, although I am not entirely sure.  Sandwiches are a definite yes, especially since these loaves raised up so nicely! (Seriously- I should have taken a picture of the loaf next to my head so you could see just how enormous it was in comparison!   The bread, not my head.  Although it is pretty large too- physically, not ego-wise, at least not anymore... anyhooo...)

This one is definitely going on the "Will Make Again" list.  And it can't go without saying that I wouldn't be making it at all if it weren't for my lovely BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market!  And let me just make note that BOSCH will be raising their prices NEXT WEEK!!  So you are never going to find one of these mixers cheaper than they are right now!!  Don't miss out- you will love every minute you spend with your machine!  I promise!

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, February 1, 2011

Rhythm- back on his feet!

Note- these photos were taken on our last day- hence the smiles and liveliness!!
Well, my little guy has been out of the hospital for a little over a week now and as of yesterday morning was given a clean bill of health from his doctor, and more importantly (to him!) the "Ok" to get back to his hip-hop/breakdancing classes!!  (This last note is of special importance since he watched Step Up 3 last weekend!  Let me tell you- it is not easy to keep this kid from break dancing, especially after such a movie!)

You can take the kid outta' the hip-hop, but you can't take the hip-hop outta' the kid!
He was such a trooper in the hospital!  I was so proud of him.  Our stay had some rough spots- particularly the finger-poke blood draws, during the last of which he kicked the lab worker and sent all the vials flying off the bed (luckily they were empty!).  But hey, he is 4 and had been down that road twice already- he's no fool!  He also had a pretty rough time taking the oral medications.  He usually does fine at home but he spit them back out for more than one nurse.  So yeah, physical restraint came a slightly common-place thing in our room, but for the most part he was cooperative and wonderful!  Seriously!  Most of his nurses thought he was adorable and charming, and all of them were incredibly helpful and caring.  We couldn't have been happier with the care he received.

NOT happy about the IV!
Well, all except that one lab worker who came in, insisting she had immediate orders to draw blood.  Umm, yeah, after the nurse argued with her to recheck (she had her gloves on and was already headed toward the poor screaming little guy!), she realized she was in the wrong room!  I couldn't believe it!  Angry much?!
He always had all the toys and stuffed animals he received during his stay tucked in around him- his bed was covered!
The first day home I was a little worried about his pain levels, as the Tylenol with codeine didn't really seem to be cuttin' the mustard, and I kinda thought they had maybe rushed us out of the hospital a little too soon.  Within a day though, he was doing much better and he doesn't ask for the meds at all now.

Showing off his scars!

They went in laparoscopically through his belly button, and two other incisions (one a little larger than the others, but it is below his belt line).
We also had a few friends who provided us with absolutely delicious meals for most of last week.  It was so helpful (especially in light of my own little breakdown- more on that later).  These ladies really went above and beyond!  I mean- they all brought dessert as well and one of them even cut the carrot slices in her salad into hearts!  We felt so blessed and thankful!

Thank you to everyone who prayed and offered support through such a difficult time!  We appreciate every word sent up on our behalf!

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!