Saturday Supper & S’More


Too Stressed Cookbook

About book stressed

Feeling overwhelmed by life’s daily demands? Could you use some encouragement and inspiration in the kitchen? The Too Blessed to Be Stressed Cookbook to the rescue! Each of the 100-plus recipes can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, plus you’ll encounter some fabulous tips and suggestions as well as funny foodie quotes, scripture selections, humorous stories of cooking misadventures, and more, along the way. Recipes are arranged into 4 categories–Heart-Healthy, Soul-Fed, Time-Wise, and Company-Happy–and are accompanied by appealing full-color photographs. You’ll cheer as you soak up the joy Debora M. Coty brings into your life and home!

My review stressed

Too Blessed to Be Stressed is a great cookbook for those of us so busy we seem to meet ourselves coming and going.

Debora Coty has divided the book into four basic sections that include:

Time Wise

Soul Fed

Heart Healthy

Company Happy

There is also an introduction at the beginning and menu suggestions and grocery lists at the end.

The recipes are easy to read, follow, understand and most importantly, they are quick, using food items most people have on hand already.

Scattered throughout the book are notes about the recipe, handy hints, photos, Bible quotes and cute/funny stories titled Chuckle Breaks.

I really enjoyed the book (except for the Kindle formatting, which won’t be a problem for others as it is available as a hardback copy only).

Some of my favorite recipes are Deb’s Famous Chicken Salad (I love any chicken salad with grapes and nuts in it), the Chocolate Brickle (which has a surprise ingredient), Sweet Potato Home Fries-OK, who am I kidding, I pretty much like all of them I’ve tried so far!!

If you are looking for a way to streamline and de-stress mealtimes, Too Blessed to Be Stressed is definitely a book you want to check out!

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday’s Tale


Blue Ribbon Trail Ride (Horses and Friends Book 4) by Miralee Ferrell

Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.

But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.
My-Review-Blue-2As we meet again with Kate and her friends, excitement and mystery abound. The teenagers have decided to have a horse scavenger hunt. However, things don’t go as planned and solving mysterious happenings rule the day.

I was caught up in the frustration the teenagers felt when Kate’s mother’s antique jewelry box disappears. I rooted for them as they devised ways to capture the thief and felt their disappointment and irritation when it didn’t work.

Throughout the series, of which this is book 4, the reader is privileged to watch how the friends have grown and matured in their friendships and faith. Along the way, we have also been able to see how they interact with, and come to love, Kate’s younger brother, who is autistic.

A heart-warming story of friendship, rising to the occasion and ultimately of forgiveness, Blue Ribbon Trail Ride will become another favorite for readers, both young and old alike.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday’s Mention


When it comes to strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much we can learn from the Amish. Just how do they establish such strong family bonds, such deeply held values, and such wonderful family traditions? In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shares the secrets of Amish family life. In this inspiring and practical book, you will meet real Amish families that are a lot like yours. Through their stories you’ll discover how to

slow down
safeguard family time
raise children who stand strong in their faith
prioritize what’s truly important

Amish values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy–without selling your car or changing your wardrobe.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has written a gem with Amish Values for Your Family. The book is divided into four sections:

Section One:   Children Are Loved but Not Adored

Section Two:   Great Expectations

Section Three: Daily Bread

Section Four:   Letting Go

Plus an Introduction and Epilogue. Each section has 9 or 10 short stories that begin with an Amish Proverb, followed by a true story illustrating the chosen value, a section called, Road Map: Getting There From Here, and ending with an anecdote entitled, In their own words.

The format makes it easy to read a story or multiple stories quickly or like a devotional you take time to savor. Even though the book can be read quite quickly, you will want to slow down and absorb all the truths presented.

The stories are sure to stir your heart and leave you wanting to adapt and implement many of the values illustrated into your own life and that of your family’s also. As Suzanne says, “. . . there is much we can learn from these gentle people about raising our families well: to help prioritize what’s truly important, to simplify decision making, to slow down as a family, to safeguard time together, and when age-appropriate, to let go.”

A sweet and endearing look at the Amish with practical lessons we can all learn from, Amish Values for Your Family will remain a book you will not easily forget and are sure to refer to over and over.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday’s Frustration

Today and all week this week, in fact, I am deviating from my normal routine of book reviews.

Recently, I heard that a well-known Christian writing conference was going to be nearer my home this year, and was excited to think I may get to go. However, before I had gotten very far in my planning, I heard something very disturbing regarding the conference.

The conference will have an early speaker that is notorious for his “colorful” language. I’m not a prude, I know people use all kinds of words when speaking, but I do feel that the “f-bomb” is just a little too much, especially for a Christian conference.

This, to me, is the equivalent to the following scenario:

A local new car dealership sells Fords. Now, the dealer has heard many people say they like Toyota’s better. He thinks to himself, I’ll just slap a label of Ford on a Toyota and sell it as a Ford. The problem, of course, is that the people going to a Ford dealership want a Ford, not a Toyota-EVEN if it says FORD on it.

When marketing there are some venues where you can expect every range of product available for example, BAM or B&N offer ALL types of books, even some considered porn. However, if you go to Lifeway or another Christian bookstore, you don’t expect to see a non-Christian book and especially not porn.

You can rationalize, explain and trivialize it all you want, but the fact remains, this is a venue for Christian writers. There are LOTS of other venues for writers, to include the different writer’s groups the speaker is affiliated with, such as Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and several others.

There is even a paragraph in the intro portion of the Christian writers conference page stating that every year hundreds of veteran authors and new authors (and I’m also assuming, want to be authors) gather together to learn the craft of Christian fiction. My question is, “How can you learn the craft of Christian fiction from someone who most people would be offended listening to and would either sit there in uncomfortable silence or walk out in disgust?”

To say I’m disappointed is putting it mildly. I’ve read books by and interacted with most, if not all, of the board members, and I feel this is a stab in the back to those trying to stay true to the craft.

I don’t think I would be as upset if this person had not been there before and/or people weren’t aware of his propensity to vulgarity. But, he has been a SPEAKER for this same group before (and most people walked out of his speech).

If you put a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it’s still a wolf!

Wolf-in-sheeps-clothing (3)

Monday’s Musings

After much thought, discussions with family, friends and authors, and much consideration (though kicking and screaming almost all the way), I have decided to change my way of rating a book.

In the past, I railed against the current system because I felt there was no way to accurately denote an OUTSTANDING and PROFOUND book, especially if all books, for whatever reason, were deemed to be great i.e. 5-star. However, I have come to realize this isn’t fair to the authors and their hard work (not to mention, my feeble attempts at swimming against the stream weren’t making ANY difference, except in some cases to hurt the author and/or their ratings.).

So, with all these thoughts swirling in my head, I reached a conclusion. I will give ALL books I enjoy a 5-star rating. The only way there will be a lesser rating is if there are grammatical and/or spelling errors. If I feel I can’t give a book at least a 3-star rating, I won’t review it. If I give a 3-star rating I will give a detailed reason.


Friday’s Fiction


A Christmas Carol Meets It’s a Wonderful Life

A letter for Sonja’s deceased friend arrives at the post office in Michigan, and with it a proposal. With her father threatening to kick her out of his home, Sonja impulsively responds, offering to travel west to be a substitute bride. At the same time, Louis’s railroad promotion sends him back to Michigan, the one place on earth he’d hoped to never return—where Christmas past was full of pain. A mysterious stranger leaves him marked copies of “A Christmas Carol” as he considers romancing Sonja in Christmas present. Will Louis discern the best choices for Christmas future? Does it include the Poor House, again? Even so—will God bring healing and love to him this year?

Sonja Hoeke is the last daughter left at home, and her father never lets her forget it either. Sonja works hard as a substitute mail carrier for her father when he is ill, and you would think he would appreciate her help and assistance. Instead, he humiliates her by announcing to the townsmen that he wants her married and telling her he will kick her out if she’s not married by his deadline.

Louis (Smith) Penwell has been a pen pal with Sonja’s best friend, Cora. However, unknown to him when he proposed to her by letter, Cora had passed away.

Reeling from her father’s cruelty, Sonja impulsively sends Louis a letter offering to be a substitute bride.

Carrie Fancett Pagels has written another delightful and well researched novella, this time centered around Christmas in 1891. She has brought to life the horrors of the “poor house,” the restrictions imposed on young women and the beauty and the majesty of the snow-covered city of Shepherd, Michigan.

The Substitute Bride can be read quickly. However, the story of forgiveness and God’s grace will stay with you much longer.

Wednesday’s Writings


Sabotaged Christmas

Toni DeLuca, the Italian owner of DeLuca Construction, finds herself confronted with doubts about her father and his possible deceptions—all because of the mysterious pink notes she’s been receiving.

Relations with Perrin Douglas who has a troubled history—but the first man in years who’s interested her—is building to a peak. Yet Perrin‘s own personal problems and his doubts about women and God, keep getting in the way.

Gossip, a Spanish proposal, an inheritance, and a sabotaged construction business may ruin Christmas for Toni’s employees as well as her own happiness.

Will a mysterious person succeed in pulling off the biggest scam Appleton, West Virginia has ever seen? And will this culprit destroy Toni’s last chance at happiness with the man of her dreams?

Toni DeLuca, single and owner of DeLuca Construction, is a sharp, competent employer. However, a recent spate of construction site sabotage and mysterious pink notes have her assessing everything in her life, including her recently departed father.

Perrin Douglas, a widowed father, recently moved to Appleton, West Virginia, and hired Toni to renovate his older home. He is a reclusive writer with a troubling past that causes Toni to question whether he is really who he says he is, leaving her hurt and confused. In addition, Perrin’s son, Blake, really likes Toni and is constantly trying to get them together-something Toni wouldn’t mind-since she’s falling for him. If only she could be sure Perrin wasn’t the saboteur.

Carole Brown has written a phenomenal romantic mystery with just the right amount of danger and intrigue to keep you on your toes.

I especially enjoyed this story, having a background in construction and renovation management/ownership myself. The anger and trepidation Toni exhibits, along with her concern and empathy toward her employees, is real and believable.

Sabotaged Christmas is a great book to curl up with in front of the fire and read. It is easy to become completely engrossed in and savor. From its romance and mystery to its interwoven messages of faith, you will enjoy this novel. (A sequel, Knight in Shining Apron, with characters from Appleton, is set to release this year. Chapter One is included in the back of Sabotaged Christmas-I can’t wait to read it!)


Monday’s Mention



Amish Christmas at North Star by Cindy Woodsmall, Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark, Amanda Fowler and Katie Ganshert

One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania.
Rebekah’s Babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, a possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert

Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world?

Mourning Star by Amanda Flower

Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac. Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jesse, an angry Englischer, or someone else?
In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall

Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love. But when he is unexpectedly called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.
Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark

Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower’s life.

One eventful night in late November, at her home, Rebekah Schlabach helps four young mothers deliver their babies: Anna, Eden Hochstetler, Savilla Beiler and Andy Danner.

Chase Wellington works as a construction manager but is a reporter for the North Star Tribune as a side job. One day while helping his mother move he sees an article about four babies born during a record- setting blizzard in his hometown of North Star.

Intrigued, he decides to find out who and where they are.

Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert is the story of little Anna. Anna’s mother, Ruth, left Rebekah’s home before anyone – her husband or parents – were able to come for her. In the 25 years since she disappeared, no one has known where Anna went.

Eden Hochstetler is understandably upset when her good friend, Isaac, dies. Even though she should be helping her family with their fudge shop, she can’t let go of the feeling that there is more to her friend’s death than meets the eye. Mourning Star, by Amanda Flower, is a romantic mystery full of twists and turns that keep you guessing. (I love the play on words in the title, too!)

Cindy Woodsmall introduces us to Kore Detweiler and Savilla (Savvy) Beiler in her story In The Stars. Savvy broke up with Kore and broke both their hearts. However, she won’t tell him why. Kore left North Star vowing never to return, but when his grandmother is injured, he does. While there Savvy needs his help with a neighbor’s children and he can’t bring himself to turn her down, even though she hurt him.

The mother and daughter team of Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark wrote Star of Grace, about Andy Danner and his ex-girlfriend Nellie Umble. Nellie left North Star, and the Amish way of life shortly before she and Andy were to be married. Heartbroken, Andy leaves North Star for a job in Mississippi. However, his baby brother keeps pestering him to come home, something he emphatically does not want to do.

The epilogue written by Katie Ganshert completes the four stories in a wonderful and satisfying way.

Amish Christmas at North Star is an intriguing set of stories filled with forgiveness and acceptance for the individuals in the stories, even when under difficult circumstances.

I received this book from NetGalley and Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.