Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I experimented with bokeh! It's kind of a popular photography style at the moment - at least I see it in all sorts of photos - so I wanted to try it. I need to work on it some more but thought I'd share my first attempt at bokeh, with our Christmas tree!!

Christmas Kick-Off

All photos taken on my new Canon PowerShot 310 HS point-and-shoot camera. Not too bad for a point-and-shoot! And not too bad for a Black Friday purchase, either!

Journey to the North Pole

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a "Journey to the North Pole" cruise. And believe it or not, it only took about 20 minutes to get to the North Pole. Now that must be some pretty special boat we were on. I took my camera and got some pictures of the Christmas lights on the lake from a perspective I don't normally get to enjoy. I'm still learning how to take good pictures in the dark, but I'm actually pretty excited with how well these turned out.

At the "North Pole" is the world's tallest living Christmas tree. Apparently they lit it at the very end, and I missed it. I'm a little bummed about that. But it was still a very fun time spent with my amazing co-workers and some of their kids....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: An Amish Wedding (Long, Fuller & Wiseman)

Priscilla King, Naomi King and Rose Bender are three friends growing up together in the same Amish community. Through three novellas, An Amish Wedding follows their stories of finding love in their community.
A Perfect Secret by Kelly Long focuses on Rose’s story and how she fell in love with and truly learned to trust her fiancé-turned-husband, Luke, when she feels he is hiding things from her.

A Perfect Match by Kathleen Fuller is Naomi’s story and shares about how she has great plans to match up newcomer Zeke with her friend Margaret…will she find love in the process?

And lastly….

A Perfect Plan by Beth Wiseman shares the story of Priscilla, who has a perfect plan in place for her wedding and learns that not everything goes perfectly and according to plan. As her mind is flooded with doubt, she, too, learns how to truly trust and as she learns that God has the perfect plan.

I have enjoyed the collaborations between these three authors in the past, and this book was no exception. The three novellas intertwined perfectly, creating one larger story that kept my attention throughout. In fact, I was so engrossed in the story that I read the entire 354-page book in one day – practically in one sitting! If you enjoy Amish fiction, you will enjoy this book!

**I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I received no compensation other than a free book.**

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: Dug Down Deep (Joshua Harris)

Joni Eareckson Tada lists three “Inspirational Books” on her list of favorite things: Crazy Love by Francis Chan, The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett…and Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. To those in the homeschool world, Josh Harris is a fairly recognizable name. His relationship books I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl (neither of which I have read, by the way) took both the homeschool and Christian worlds by storm several years ago.

Dug Down Deep also focuses on a relationship, but not the same relationship he talked about in his two aforementioned books. Dug Down Deep instead focuses on our relationship with Christ and, as the subtitle says, Building Your Life on Truths That Last.  In the book, Josh spends 11 chapters digging into why our beliefs about the God matter and the practicality of right beliefs. He takes a rather candid approach and explains his own spiritual journey in a way that is both frank and real, with some humor mixed in.

The book was very down to earth. And very encouraging and challenging. As Josh points out, in the end nobody will be right on every single issue of the Christian life: “One day in heaven there will be only one right person. I’m sorry, but it won’t be you. Or me. It will be God. Everyone else in heaven will be wrong in a million different ways about a million different things” (p 227). But it is important to be right about the things that really matter, and that is what Josh tackles in this book.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with a complimentary review copy of this book, which I have wanted to read for awhile.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Acorn Cookies!

Acorn Cookies
as seen on Pinterest

Melt chocolate chips and use them to stick Hershey's Kisses to Nutter Butter cookies. Use more chocolate to stick mini chocolate chips to the top. Presto - acorns!

These are super easy to make, were super cute and were a huge success at my Bible Study and also with my co-workers. Make sure you buy the round Nutter Butters, not the ones that are shaped like peanuts. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake
a la Paula Deen

1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 13 graham crackers)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted butter (I used 3/4 of a stick)

3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15 ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (at room temperature)
1/4 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.

For Crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For Filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, and spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. **

Serve with Cinnamon Whipped Cream on top.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup whipped cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Put all ingredients in food processor, and blend for about 1-2 minutes, until fluffy and whipped to your desired consistency.


- I baked the cheesecake in a water bath. I wrapped the bottom and sides of the springform pan in heavy-duty foil. I then poured in the cheesecake filling, and placed the pan in a larger pan with about 2-3 inches of very hot water, in the oven. I baked the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it was just barely jiggly in the center. I then turned the oven off, ran a knife around the edge of the cheesecake pan, and then propped the door open with a wooden spoon handle for about an hour, then removed the cheesecake from the oven until it was room temperature, and then put it in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. The cheesecake is the first one I've made that did not crack. Success!

This was one of the best cheesecakes I've ever tasted. So light and fluffy and delicious!

There's So Much To Be Thankful For...

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.
- Josh Groban, "Thankful"

I'm thankful for...
...my family - who love me unconditionally
...my friends - who are always there for me, and are just as crazy as me!
...my job - income is a beautiful thing
...my co-workers (past and present) - who have taught me so many things and who have become wonderful friends
...my church - and all of the wonderful people there who have encouraged me and helped me to grow.
...my dogs - who are, in my case, a girl's best friend!
...and so much more!

There's so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charise Wilson Designs

My cousin and her husband are in the process of adopting, and in an effort to raise a little money for the adoption, Charise started making absolutely adorable cards.

My mom recently purchased a few of these cards, and I can tell you that they really are great! Not only are they good quality, but the designs are absolutely adorable. I'm seeing a few new designs on Charise's site since the last time I visited, and boy are they cute!

With Christmas coming up, maybe some notecards would make the perfect little gift.

Charise is now also making Christmas cards! If you are planning to send out Christmas cards this year, check out some of Charise's designs on her facebook page.

For more information, visit Charise's website!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Are YOU Thankful For?

Happy November!

I love November. It houses one of my favorite holidays, and kicks off my other favorite holiday.

November screams fall! It screams pumpkin! and crunchy leaves! and turkey! But most of all, it screams thankfulness as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for a lot of things. I plan to share some of those things with you this month.

But I want to know.....What are YOU thankful for?