Friday 26 April 2013

Book Review: Love at any Cost, by Julie Lessman

Cover Art

Book: Love at any Cost
ISBN# 978-0-8007-2167-1

Every once in a while I am surprised that I just can’t seem to get into a story. 
I expect most stories to grab and keep my attention but every once in a while I get a book and wonder why I am unable to really dive into the story line and enjoy it.

While Historical Christian Romance books are my favorite books to read and I rarely dislike a good love story. This one just did not do it for me.

Love at any Cost, by Julie Lessman, is a story about a young woman in Texas, whose fiancĂ© calls off the wedding a week before the big day.  His reasons seem to have to do with her father losing money in the oil business. 

Cassidy travels to California to stay with her aunt and cousins. Not long after arriving there, a lawyer local to the area, known as Jamie McKenna becomes attracted to Cassidy and eagerly pursues her. He, just like some of the other good-for-nothing men in her life, has his sights set on her father’s money and all that it could bring for his career and his ailing mother and disabled sister.

Cassidy McClare, a spunky, energetic character who had her mind set on never letting her heart be broken again is determined to protect her heart, if it is the last thing she does.

I must say, I would wear cowgirl boots too if I were her, in that place in time, and I don’t think I would do very well with a girdle squashing my insides!

There are many things in this book that were very good. First, one of the main subjects addressed numerous times was the importance of marrying a man who loves The Lord. 

I appreciated that Cassidy’s Aunt told her why this was significant, from her own experiences, and why it is always God’s design.
I also appreciated the fact that the family cherished time together, and placed value on relationships and family staying together through good times and bad.

So I guess what I feel was lacking with this book, was that Cassidy’s character for me did not fit with the era of the story. I thought it was written somewhat present day. I just can’t see a woman of that day and age saying “pretty men” or “pretty boy” that much. Her quote: “Fooled by a pretty boy once, shame on him. Fooled by a pretty boy twice, shame on me” \
could have been a popular saying back then, but for me it just seemed out of place, for the time period. 

I did love this quote however: “Always remember,” Nana would say, “Life is an adventure and every day a fresh start . . . especially with God by your side.”

I could very well be off my rocker as I know lots of people LOVE this book, so just because I was not “into it” It may very well be your cuppa tea!

 "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

About the author:

Julie Lessman

Julie Lessman

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of "Passion with a Purpose" underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as "Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction." Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers' Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Series of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #5 Novel of the Year, and #4 Historical Fiction Author of the year. She resides in Missouri with her family and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series whose first book, A Hope Undaunted, ranked #5 on Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010. You can contact Julie through her website at

Friday 19 April 2013

Book Review: What a Son needs from his MOM

Cover Art
 From the Back:

Ever Feel Like Your Son Is From a Different Planet?

Don't worry, Mom. There's a good reason why your son perplexes you. He's the OPPOSITE sex! Boys really do think, communicate, and process the world differently than girls. But no matter your son's age, he needs you, and he needs you in not-so-apparent ways.
Drawing from her own experiences, as well as those from moms and sons from around the country, Cheri Fuller shares what makes boys and young men tick and how to become a more welcome influence at every stage in their lives. She answers all the top questions, including:

"How can I help my son (and me!) deal with his emotions in a healthy way?"
"School is such a struggle. How can I help him?"
"Our personalities are SO different. How can we get on the same page?"
"My son hardly says a thing. What can I do?"
"What are the best ways to instill good values?"
"How can I encourage a lasting faith in God?"

With page after page of use-it-today advice and encouraging stories, this book will help you steer your son toward becoming a caring, confident young man.

Includes Reflection Questions for Personal or Group Use

Great for understanding grandsons, too!

My Reflections:

This book is filled with tidbits of wisdom and truth about our sons and how to be their cheerleaders in life. It is not only encouraging but also practical in its application. I often find parenting books to have great ideas but when put into practise they become weak and tired very quickly.

Cheri Fuller draws on her own experiences as a mom of three children throughout the book, but also uses reliable and professional sources to back up her stories and thoughts. I experienced a few “a, ha!” moments throughout this book and am excited to challenge my parenting style because of it. 

I especially enjoyed chapter 8 “a mom who understands her son’s unique personality” This chapter was insightful and uplifting.

Although my son's temperament is nothing like the authors child, her illustrations gave me insight into the behaviours of other boys in our lives. 
I would recommend this book to moms who desire to become more intentional in how they raise their children.

 "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

About the author:
Cheri Fuller

Cheri Fuller

Cheri Fuller is a gifted speaker and award-winning author of more than forty books, including the bestselling When Mothers Pray. A former Oklahoma Mother of the Year, Cheri has worked with kids of all ages and is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Redeeming the Family. She and her husband, Holmes, live in Oklahoma and have three grown children (two boys and a girl) and six wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Gluten free, Savory Grilled veggies!

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Savoury Grilled Vegetables
Oh ya!



Going gluten free can be a tricky balancing act, but Campbells has made it easy with this easy to prepare dish that is sure to please the whole family without breaking the bank. I have three people in my house who must have a strict gluten free diet. Let me tell you that gets costly, so when I happened upon this recipe I was instantly ready to try it. It is fabulous, but don't take my word try it out!
1/2 cup Campbell's Ready to Use Vegetable broth
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 large red onion, thickly sliced
1 large red or green pepper, cut into wide strips
1 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
2 cups large mushrooms


1. Stir broth, thyme, rosemary and black pepper in small bowl. Brush vegetables with broth mixture.
2. Heat lightly-oiled grill rack to medium. Grill vegetables for 10 minutes or until tender, turning over once during cooking and brushing often with broth mixture.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy...enjoy my friends!

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Duck has the baby blues, and goes mental!.... and duck facts!

Lesson learned today: ducks make fierce mamas, and they are not to be reckoned with.

As you have probably read we have had some serious farm fiascoes in the last month. Farm animals are oftentimes hard to keep alive.
Let me elaborate, first there was the raccoons, then the mink, and now the owls...fiddle sticks, how do these critters survive in the wild?

So the latest mortality has been with the ducks. You see it is spring, and well, ducks just wanna have get the drift.
I so don't need to teach about the birds and bees at our house, bonus!
Well the silly ducks keep trying to sit on their eggs...this is the forth batch, no luck.

#1 got eaten by hawks...
#2 eggs got wet and cold in a storm..
#3 duck almost got eaten by a raccoon, but is thankfully healing up nicely...the eggs, not so much..

So me, thinking it is a good idea to move this silly duck to the barn to be safe, was not a stellar idea as it turns out.

Here is how it went down.

Me:"Dear daughter #1 can you help me to move this duck"?
Her: "sure mom I will get the eggs, you get the duck"
Me: "um OK, just get the whole nest....oh, no don't carry the eggs you might drop....oh...them, It's OK accidents happen. It is only one"

We transfer the eggs minus one, nest, and squawking duck to the barn, which so happens to also house the week old chicks. I think "no problem there is a barrier and this duck will just chill out and sit on her wee eggs. It is quiet warm and clean. We leave to finish up chores and dear son, bless his heart goes to check up on them.

I am slightly annoyed as it is well past bed time, and I seem to be doing all the chores.
Lucky he did, because I guess Mrs. Coco the duck heard baby chicks and thought it was Christmas, she had broken down the barrier, and was busily rounding up chicks. Who needs to sit on eggs for 4 weeks when you have a barn full of chicks to tend.

So here I am trying to save the frail little chicks from a crazy mama duck who is as mad as a hatter, Our sweet little duck turned snap dragon right before my eyes. Just saying, that is one strong bill!

So long story short I finally rounded up the crazy duck and put her and her blasted eggs in the duck pen, with all the other we shall see?

Gosh, I am beat. Who knew.

Here are some duck facts! 

What Makes a Muscovy Duck Special?

Muscovies are not related to any other duck, in fact some believe they are descended from geese rather than ducks. They originate from South America where their name is believed to come from their insatiable appetite for mosquito’s and their larvae. How great is that – a critter that turns mosquitos into tasty protein! They also have a penchant for flies, small slugs, snails and even frogs & newts. Great for my garden!

The most obvious difference between them and ‘other’ ducks are the carruncles (the red stuff) on their faces which is more predominant in the males. Interestingly, in females the bright red dulls to a deep orange when they’re broody, right through to raising their ducklings. A blatant visual warning to the males to stay away!

Another difference is they have long, sharp claws which are used to attach to tree branches at night when they roost. Due to these claws there’s a right and wrong way to pick up a muscovy and the wrong way will end in bloodshed – yours that is. Put your carrying arm over and around its body, pinning both wings in place and taking hold of one or both legs (depending on the size of the bird and the size of you) gently but firmly. This needs to be done pretty quickly. as if they start to struggle with you they’ll lash out trying to find their feet, and you’ll have first hand experience of those claws.
Always an idea to do this manoeuvre with the duck facing backwards, as if they decide to relieve themselves whilst being carried you’ll end up wearing it down your back.
Yep, sadly I speak from experience.

We LOVE our ducks!
Bible verse for today:

Psalm 100:3 

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Came across these great pictures and facts from hedge combers!

Sunday 14 April 2013

Book Review: The Gardian, Beverly Lewis

The trailer 
The Guardian (Home to Hickory Hollow #3)
From the Back:
Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.

When Jodi Winfield comes to Lancaster to house-sit, the last thing she expects to find is a disheveled little girl alone on the side of the road. The young teacher is mystified when she learns there have been no reports of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.

Then Jodi turns her attention to Hickory Hollow--and the cloistered world of the Old Order Amish--in search of answers.

My Reflections:
You can't imagine my anticipation as I waited for my review copy of this book to be shipped.

I was over the moon when it did come, and it was all I could do to homeschool my three kids and get them to bed before I was rewarded with reading!

This book was all I expected and more. It contained all the right ingredients for a fantastic Amish book, Love Suspense, drama, faith and warmth. The first thing that drew me in (even before I received the book) was the cover, who couldn't be smitten with the sweet little girl on the front!
The characters in the book were so vibrant and likeable, I enjoyed the fact that with this book, both worlds the Amish and the English came together in a harmonious and enjoyable fashion. Preconceptions were shattered, as each culture became acquainted with the other. The love of children bonded these two very different backgrounds; friendship bloomed, revealing a common ground and not the differences.

My favourite character was Maryanna, she showed such strength and determination in all circumstances, and she was also quite humorous as well, especially with her neighbour and his crazy "indoor pets".

This is book three in the Home to Hickory Hollow series and though I have not read the other two books, I found it extremely easy to read this book as a standalone novel.

I secretly would love to be Amish, I just happen to enjoy modern conveniences a tad too much.
If you are looking to read a book that will make you yearn for the simple life, here you have it my friends. Beverly Lewis is the reason Amish fiction is so popular today. Grab you quilt snuggle up on the porch swing and read this book!  

 "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group". Thank you!

About the Author:

Beverly Lewis

Beverly Lewis Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is the New York Times bestselling author of more than ninety books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Beverly to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning, which has sold more than one million copies and was recently made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. In 2007 The Brethren was honored with a Christy Award. She has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Beverly lives with her husband, David, in Colorado. Visit her Web site at for more information.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Homeschool resources: Canadian Government study!

Well here I am in the busiest season.... Spring, and lo' and behold I have not tackled that PLO called ~Government~ Sigh, perhaps I have been procrastinating.

If you are in the same persnickety position I am in, here are some resources that just may save your bacon!

I am going to be reading these books to the children, and designing my unit from them:

Coming to Canada: by Robert Livesey, Discovering Canada's Government: by Oxford University Press, Canada votes: by Linda Granfield and lastly, Who Runs this country Anyway? by Joanne Stanbridge.

I also came across this nifty lap book, and really who doesn't love a lap book!
It has websites to reference, more books and links to other sites.

This is Natalie Sing, she has such a cool website filled with lap book resources. LOVE IT!  

Here is the finished product.

We had such fun! With the election happening it was a perfect opportunity to visit the offices of the candidates and "interview them" So we included the pamphlets that were compiled, along with newspaper clippings of noteworthy campaign articles. The children enjoyed this unit so much, also we have had many discussions about who to elect and why in our home. What a practical way to learn about the government and the process of elections.
~ If you have no idea what a lap book is, here is a demo on how to make a lap book~
To top it off we will be taking a trip to the parliament buildings.
 I so enjoy putting our book learning to practice, I remember when I was in school this was what I truly recalled from my lessons...the fun!

Really shouldn't school be fun?

I will update this post with pictures of the "end results"

Hope this helps and have fun!!


Monday 8 April 2013

Gluten Free: Baked Apple Treat you can whip up in a flash

Baked Apple Treat, Oh so yummy so sweet!

I have been craving some sweet gooey goodness.
Since apple pie and apple strudel are a no, no for us wheat free gals, I searched low and high for this yummy recipe!
My son always makes baked apples (a fine skill the lad gleaned from Scouts) on the open flame when we have a bonfire. I never eat them because they are just lacking a little something. This is the key to my locked mouth, oh yes please!
Give em a try you never know, perhaps they will be your new fave?

Baked Apples Recipe


  • 4 large good baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup boiling water


baked-apples-2.jpg baked-apples-3.jpg
baked-apples-4.jpg baked-apples-5.jpg

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apples. It helps if you have an apple corer, but if not, you can use a paring knife to cut out first the stem area, and then the core. Use a spoon to dig out the seeds. Make the holes about 3/4-inch to an inch wide.

2 In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, currants/raisins, and pecans. Place apples in a 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top with a dot of butter (1/4 of the Tbsp).

3 Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Remove from the oven and baste the apples several times with the pan juices.
Serve warm with vanilla icecream on the side.

Yield: Makes 4 servings. Don't forget the GF ICE CREAM!

Thank you for this recipe, you can find the original post at

Sunday 7 April 2013

Book Review: A Cast Of Stones Patrick Carr

A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword, #1)
 From The Back:
An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers
Will Love!

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.
Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.

My reflections:

Errol is a young teen boy who is consumed with the desire to acquire ale. When he delivers letters in exchange for his vise, he is faced with obstacles no young man should have to deal with. Errol is covering for a troubled past, trying to drown out his hurt. He has no clue, however how his little deed will impact his tender young life.

He is met with disaster around every corner, including the malicious man in black. Errol must fight for his very life against the darkness that is threatening his very existence.

This book is action packed, and laced with rich literary terms and engaging characters!
It is a gritty read due to the time period, but does envelop the reader into a story line that is imaginative yet intricate in detail and depth. Saying that the language used is simple and easily understood. Very well written you would not guess this book is Carr's first novel.
It is quite an entertaining read, definitely not something I am usually apt to take on as I tend to lean towards romance novels and Amish fiction!

 If you are looking for a medieval tale filled with fantasy and action this is your book!

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my review, from Bethany House Publishers. Thank you Bethany House!

I am excited to introduce my guest reviewer: Victor Penner age 12. He is exceedingly talented, and very well spoken!
I look forward to hearing more of what this Young adult has to say.

                The only thing that young orphan, Errol Stone does is drink. He`s either drunk or working for money to buy ale. He works for the herbwoman, gaining knowledge of both healing and poisonous plants. Seeking more coin for more ale, Errol is enlisted by a messenger to deliver an important and urgent letter to a hermit who lives in the wilderness outside of the small village that is Errol`s home. He thinks the task easy, until he finds himself hunted by the Watch, the most elite and deadly assassins in the kingdom. Errol is hurled into a mystery. The men who he has known all his life are not as they seem, they have secrets on a scale Errol can`t even comprehend that will throw the fate of the kingdom, and Errol`s own life, in danger. Errol discovers that he is a Reader; a being both blessed and cursed with magical abilities. He is forced to flee and begins a journey that will take him to the other end of the kingdom. He is pursued by a Malus, an evil demon who feeds on pain, and Ferrals, savage wolf-men who are bent on his death. Errol struggles to overcome his addiction to ale and abandon the pain and grief of the past.  Over the course of the book, Errol matures and gains confidence in himself. He learns wisdom, courage and hope.  The knowledge he has gained and his unnaturally powerful abilities as a Reader place him in danger. Errol has unearthed dangerous secrets, now his enemies will do anything to silence him. He must learn to fight and discover who he can trust in this world of lies and treachery.
                 Overflowing with vivid description, intense action and even humor, The Cast of Stones is a literary masterpiece filled with inconceivable detail and depth, yet imaginative and lively. The novel is realistic in every aspects of life, if you ignore the magical abilities of a Reader and the fell monsters hunting him. It gives an extraordinary mindset of Errol, exposes why he does what he does, showing him weighing out every decision. The novel shares all of Errol’s fears and hopes, his opinion of every situation he`s in, what brings him joy and what revolts him. The first chapter has a member of the Watch stalking him through treacherous terrain and shooting poisoned arrows at him: every chapter has a sword duel, an intense chase, a poisoning or a mystery in store for Errol. Each character has his own distinct personality, his own habits and attributes; even minor characters are given depth. Patrick W. Carr has envisioned a detailed fantasy world with its own religion, government and different people groups. He uses literary devices, emotions, well-developed characters and powerful word choice to create a brilliant novel.
Victor Penner, age 12

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