The First Ten Books For 2015

I have been blessed with an abundance of new books to be read! After hearing some new-to-me speakers, I bought a few for myself at my church’s local IF:Gathering and then again at Women of Faith. Most, though, were gifts. No matter how I came to own them, I have a LOT of new books to read!

My dilemma, of course, is in deciding what to read first. I want to read them all! Long time readers know how important it is that I think that we are reading. It’s good for us!

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(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

For the last two or three months, my reading has been limited to research on women’s ministry and mentoring, or to books that are part of a group study. It’s been good reading, and I’ll be reviewing those books soon. I am, however, very much looking forward to reading from my stacks and stacks of new books.

I decided to choose ten books to fill my reading basket to start the year. I had three or four books that I’d started, but not finished, so those were the first onto the “first ten” list. Aaron gifted me a sweet, “fluffy” novel  for Christmas, and that was an obvious choice after all the heavy reading of the last few weeks. I chose the rest rather quickly, because the more I looked and tried to decide, the harder the choice became.

Here are the First Ten Books For 2015 in my reading basket.

 

Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love was released on January 6, and delivered to my door on January 8. Sally and I – we go way back! (Just for the record, she doesn’t have a clue who I am!) The Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child (mine is an ancient edition from the 90’s) completely changed the way that I homeschooled my children. I’ve read most of Sally’s books over the years, and she has blessed me in so many ways over the years. Own Your Life is right at the top of my first ten books for 2015 list.

 

 

It might sound strange to include a cookbook in my reading basket, but it’s really the only way that I can guarantee, during this on the go season, that I’ll actually remember to pull it out and look through it. My goal, of course, isn’t to read it from cover to cover, but rather to look through, mark some new recipes to try, and then cook ‘em up! Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys was recommended by a young woman I’ve known since she was a young teen, and who is now the mother of three boys. She’s a foodie, too! She says this is a cookbook that women will enjoy cooking from, and that the guys will enjoy eating those dishes, so I know it’ll be a hit here. (By the way – she runs a fabulous Etsy store and her purses, bags and scarves are gorgeous and well made.)

 

 

I added this book to my reading basket last year, and never got around to it. I’ve read it before. Twice. I’m looking forward to a long, slow re-read of Jane Brocket’s wonderful book on the home. The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home is just what it claims to be, and my soul is yearning for a bit more of the “gentle” arts in my home this year.

 

 

I’ve had this book for quite awhile, but it’s just now making its way into my reading basket. Despite its rather ominous sounding title, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age promises to be a good read. I’ll let you know!

 

 

I wish this book had a better title, though I like the sub-title! I’ve been reading it for awhile, and I’m about half way through it. God has used this book in powerful ways in my life, but I didn’t expect that when I started reading it. I’m kind of looking forward to reading the rest and seeing how God might use that, too. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense was recommended by my in real life, book loving friend, Sheri.

 

 

I’m about three fourths of the way through The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. I’ve enjoyed it, so far, and I’m making it a priority to finish it up in the next week or two.

 

 

My Aaron bought this book for me for Christmas. As I mentioned earlier, my reading has been rather heavy, as of late, so starting a bit of “fluffy” reading was just the thing. Savannah was recommended by my friend Kendra and I am really enjoying it.

 

 

I’ve learned something about myself. I don’t enjoy reading a book after I’ve seen the movie. It’s not that I think the movie is better, because it usually is not. I almost always find the book far better and more satisfying. However, with The Book Thief, I’m just having a hard time getting into the story. My plan is to finish Savannah (see above), and then start The Book Thief over from the beginning.

 

 

I’ve enjoyed most everything I’ve read by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Her grace filled writing is like a breath of fresh air. I’m very much looking forward to reading Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice.

 

 

Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, by Nish Weiseth. Looking forward to starting this one, too.

I’d love hearing what you’re reading now, or if you’ve already read any of these ten for yourself. Leave a comment here, or on the Facebook page.

 

My Family’s Favorite Southwest Quiche

southwestquichetitleThis quiche dish goes together in just a few minutes, and then cooks in a slow(ish) oven for 45 – 50 minutes. It’s the one quiche dish that my family will readily eat.  The mild, diced chilies and ground cumin give it a terrific southwestern flair without being spicy. It’s delicious and filling, and good any time of the year.

Best of all, it freezes beautifully before it’s cooked. I almost always make two, cooking one for dinner, and putting the second in the freezer for another day. Man, I LOVE having meals ready to go in my freezer!

Here’s what you’ll need to make a single Southwest Quiche. Double the ingredients if you want one for the freezer. Trust me. You do.
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Single crust, 9″pie crust, not baked (store bought, or homemade, your choice)
1 1/4 cups Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
1, 4 ounce can mild diced chilies, drained (I use one can when I double the recipe, but you can use two. Just be sure they’re well drained.)
3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream (or use one cup half & half, or just one cup milk if that’s all you have – the cream makes it richer, though)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

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Spread all of the Monterey Jack cheese, and half of the cheddar cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle the drained, diced chilies over the top.

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In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, salt, and cumin, just until the eggs are slightly beaten and the ingredients are combined.

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Carefully pour the egg mixture over the cheese and chilies, being careful to not displace them. Just pour slowly, and you’ll be fine.

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Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the top. I always use a bit more to give it good color on the top.

Now place the quiche into a 325° oven for 45 – 50 minutes, or until set. I always insert a knife into the center to check. If it comes out relatively clean, the quiche is ready.

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Allow the cooked quiche to stand for five minutes to set before cutting and serving. That’s important.

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For the second quiche, label a gallon size ziplock freezer bag, or a vacuum sealer bag with the name, date and baking instructions. Carefully slide the UNBAKED quiche into the bag and seal. If you use a vacuum sealer, manually pulse the air out so that you don’t vacuum the wet ingredients right out of the crust. Place the bag on a level spot in your freezer, and pat yourself on the back for making two dinners in the time it takes to make one.

 

 

Where Is It? Keeping Track of Stuff – Quick Tip Tuesday

Quick Tip Tuesday

 

“Hey, Mom! Do you know where I put…..?”.  Sound familiar?

I tend to make sure that there’s a place for everything and that stuff, for the most part, gets put into its proper place. There are lots of little odds and ends, though, that seem to be easily misplaced, and there are other things that my family need infrequently, or only during certain seasons, and they forget where those things are kept. The problem is, for some of those things, I can’t remember right away when I’m asked.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

whereisit

I solved that dilemma in my own home by creating a folder in Evernote called “Where is it”. Whenever I put away one of those oddball, or seasonal items, I just add a new note to Evernote, tag it with “where is it” and any other words that might be useful, and then breathe a sigh of relief. I know that when I’m asked where the neighbor’s key is, or I get a text while I’m at the grocery store asking about batting cage tokens, all I need to do is open Evernote, search for the item by name or by “where is it”, and I’ll have the location within seconds!

Now, when I hear, “Hey, where’s my……?”, I don’t panic. I just run a quick search on Evernote!

Not familiar with Evernote? Need help getting started? Here’s a bit about why I love Evernote, and here’s some help in setting up your own Evernote account. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free!

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Quick Tip Tuesday will pop up as often as possible, with a quick and/or easy tip for your home. The tips might be related to organizing, cleaning, family fun, or whatever pops into my head that I think might be helpful to someone. I might also share a link to another site if I find something that I think is useful. The current tip might not be new to you, but I guarantee that it will be new to someone; and there’s sure to be something new for everyone at some point in time. Be watching for more Quick Tip Tuesdays!

Weekly Menu – Week of January 12, 2015 (with recipe links)

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks! We were on vacation in Disneyland for six days (yay!!), and we call came home sick (boo!). In the week that we’ve been home, we’ve taken down all of our Christmas decorations, celebrated a birthday, and tried to get ourselves healthy and well. Meals have been a bit hit or miss, but this week I have the dinner menu, at least, set. It feels good!

This week will be full. Steve will be helping to build new stage sets at church, and working a day or two. Aaron is back at work full time, but heading to the recruiters for PT several mornings (morning PT is tough on a late swing shift worker), and William will be back at his desk for homeschool. I’ve got a pretty full week, too. Knowing what’s for dinner every night is a blessing!

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HERE’S WHAT’S COOKIN’

Monday – Southwest Quiche, Almond Poppy Seed Bread (toasted).

Tuesday – Cheeseburger Soup, Easy Soft Breadsticks

Wednesday – Quick Chicken and Noodle Stew, Green Salad (I’ll double the recipe so we can enjoy it for lunch the next day.)

Thursday – Spaghetti, Green Salad, Garlic Bread

Friday – Simply Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, Green Salad

Saturday – Tamara’s Focaccia, Green Salad

Sunday – Chicken Pot Pie Soup

The theme this week, for the most part, is quick and easy. It’s going to be a very full week. Knowing, in advance, what we’re having for dinner, means that I won’t have to worry on any given day about what we’ll have for dinner, and I know we won’t blow any cash by eating out at the last minute.

Is menu planning a new idea for you? Need help getting started? Looking for some fresh ideas? My menu planning series can help!

I’m participating in this week’s Menu Plan Monday! Hop on over there to see what others have on their menus this week.

 

 

Quick Tip Tuesday – Keeping Your Kitchen Sponge Fresh & Clean

Quick Tip Tuesday

There are a couple of things that really gross me out about a kitchen sponge. The first is picking up a sopping wet sponge. The second is using a sponge that smells. Yuck!!

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To keep your kitchen sponge fresh and clean follow these two quick tips! First, rinse out your sponge every time you use it to wipe something up, or clean something off, and then squeeze out all the excess water. That will make sure that it’s ready to be used the next time you need it. If possible, keep it where air can circulate around it, too.

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Second, to keep that sponge super clean and fresh smelling, pop it into the dishwasher with your last load of the dishes in the evening. Easy, and your sponge will stay clean and fresh smelling!

Quick Tip Tuesday will pop up as often as possible, with a quick and/or easy tip for your home. The tips might be related to organizing, cleaning, family fun, or whatever pops into my head that I think might be helpful to someone. I might also share a link to another site if I find something that I think is useful. The current tip might not be new to you, but I guarantee that it will be new to someone; and there’s sure to be something new for everyone at some point in time. Be watching for more Quick Tip Tuesdays!

Unburden

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I’m generally not one to jump on bandwagons, but this year I am joining the “word of the year” crowd. I always love reading other folks’ words for the year, but I’m not usually inspired to think about, and choose, a word of the year for myself. As 2014 rolled to a close, though, the Lord gently began laying some things on my heart as I pondered the new year. As it turns out, all of the those thoughts and ideas had a common theme, and could be summed up in a single word. Unburden.

I know that “unburden” is a weird word to choose. There are nicer words with almost the same meaning, but I need the reminder that I am prone to, quite readily, heap burdens on myself unnecessarily. So pretty words like free, clear, or lighten, just aren’t going to do it for me, and unburdened sounds like I’ve already arrived. This has been an ongoing struggle for me, which makes unburden the perfect word for the year.

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This year I’ll be unburdening mentally, by letting go of the stuff that likes to hang around like excess baggage, and by not allowing new stuff to take its place. There’s no room for harboring past hurts, or regrets, or for taking on new ones. There’s no need to carry about worry or anxiety. God wants us to bring those cares and concerns to Him and leave them at the foot of the cross. I know…..it’s no easy task, but allowing them to stagnate in our hearts is not good, either.

I’ll be unburdening physically, too. Yes, I’ve lost 40 pounds, and that’s a lot; but I have a lot more to go! I’m just a bit over a third of the way back to a normal, healthy weight for my height. The weight I’ve shed so far has given me a glimpse of how much more energy it’s possible to have, and how much less pain there is in my arthritic joints. I’m looking forward to losing more and more of my physical burden.

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The unburdening will continue into my homemaking, too. My home, and my peace of mind, is groaning under the weight of closets that are disorganized and way too full, and homemaking routines that just don’t work in this season of my life. I’ll be clearing out, and straightening up, and working on some new ways of doing things that will keep my home clean enough without enslaving me, or my family, in the process.

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Jesus promises us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. We were never intended to carry all the extra weight on our shoulders that we willingly put on ourselves. No more “try harder” burdens, or “do more” burdens, or “what will people think” burdens. This is the year of UNBURDEN, the year where His grace is accepted at face value, and where it is, hopefully, freely extended to others as well.

 

 

What’s Ahead in the New Year?

The blog will be on a short break through the first of the year as my family celebrates the new year together. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.  I’ll continue posting there as we wind down the old year, and welcome in the new, including some fun photos from our big trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.

Here are just a few things I have planned for you in the coming year –

  • A new Tuesday series, filled with fast & easy household tips
  • Time management and goal setting – digital, paper, and otherwise – but all with gobs of grace as you find your way
  • Like to pay it forward? Looking for material ways to show the love of Christ to others? I’ll show you how we can do just that!
  • More book, product, and service reviews
  • Encouragement for you as you look well to the ways of your household
  • As always, reminders to hold your plans loosely and allow the Lord to lead you to better things

Don’t want to miss a post? Not sure how to know when something new is posted? You can receive instant notification on your favorite feed reader (I use and like Feedly), or you can have new posts delivered to you via email. You can do all of that here!

Happy New Year! See you soon!

 

 

From Our House, To Yours

 SteveandCher

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

It Didn’t Go At All As Planned

Today didn’t go at all as planned! Good thing I hold my plans loosely!

 

It Didn't Go As Planned Title

 

As I’m sure you know, California is in the midst of a very severe drought. It started raining a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve had a lot of rain. The drought is ongoing, but boy, this rain is helping.

rainyweather

As I was driving in the rain the other day, I hit some standing water and hydroplaned a bit. Not fun. I drive a pretty heavy vehicle, so hydroplaning isn’t a good sign. I realized, then, that I was due for a tire rotation, so I made the appointment for today. I checked in and they told me that my free rotation would take about thirty minutes. The fella went out to get my mileage and to measure the tread on my tires. When he came back in, he told me that he could not rotate my tires.

The inside tread on the two front tires was very thin, and, on one tire, there was NO tread remaining on the inside. They were not allowed to put tires with that sort of wear back onto a vehicle. He had my tires in stock, and I bought two. Big car. Big wheels. Expensive tires.

After putting on the tires, the tire guy told me that the way my tires were worn indicated that my vehicle was out of alignment. We live where the roads are filled with pot holes, so keeping a car in alignment is not easy. He gave me the card for a place they recommend and sent me on my way. I called the alignment place from the parking lot and asked if there was any way he could squeeze me in today. He had an opening if I could come right away. I could. Because the tire store had recommended me, he discounted his service. He also checked my brakes, which was a nice extra, and said they looked fine. Yay for good brakes!

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I’m not being a pollyanna and I’m far t0o cynical seasoned to look at life through rose colored glasses. But here’s the deal. We’re leaving soon on a fairly long road trip. Had I not made the appointment for the tire rotation…..Gosh, had I not hydroplaned!…..we might have hit the road with two tires that were in very bad shape.

I ended the day by swinging by Kaiser to have my glasses and sunglasses adjusted (losing weight means your glasses don’t fit!) and got my free flu shot on the way out the door.  I pulled into the Starbuck’s drive thru for a skinny latte, and realized that I had free one already credited on my card!

And THAT is how my free, thirty minute tire rotation that turned into a long, expensive day was really a blessing!

 

Our Menu – Week of December 8, 2014

It’s December. In California. We have, thankfully, had some really good rainfall. Our drought stricken state desperately needs more. It’s really warm, though. On Saturday, when I put together this menu plan, I had a few windows and a couple of doors open until after dark. When I went outside, there were so many frogs singing, it sounded like a summer night.

Despite the warm weather, I’m ready for warm, nourishing, cold weather comfort foods, and this week’s menu is filled with just that sort of goodness.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

MONDAY – Baked Chicken Breasts (These are quick and easy, cooked in a  bit of olive oil and butter, seasoned with garlic salt, basil and fresh, cracked black pepper. Baste a couple of times while they cook.), My Chicken Rice, Green Beans with Bacon.

TUESDAY – Mexican Pumpkin Soup, Corn Muffins (I’m still working on the soup recipe. Once I get it just right, I’ll share it!)

WEDNESDAY – I’m off to Dani’s postponed baby shower! The baby arrived the day before the original baby shower date. Copper and Will will grab a bite to eat in town after Will’s piano lesson. I think they’ll be joined by a good friend whose wife will be driving to the shower with Corin and I.

THURSDAY – Chicken Curry over Brown Rice, Green Salad

FRIDAY – Porcupine Meatballs (everyone has a recipe for these, but this is an especially tasty version), Steamed Veggies, Garlic Toast

SATURDAY – Beef Stew Pie, Almond Poppy Seed Bread and Butter

SUNDAY – Chicken Pot Pie Soup (When I make this delicious soup, I substitute whole wheat pastry flour, or white whole wheat flour, for the pastry, and then I cut the pieces into cute shapes to place on top of each bowl of soup. This week, I’ll cut the pastry into snowmen and Christmas trees.

HOPING TO BAKE: Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins

I’m also participating in Laura’s Menu Plan Monday this week.

What’s cooking at your house this week?

Need help or inspiration with menu planning. My Menu Planning Series can help!