Friday, November 23, 2012

Giveaway! Win a free item from my Etsy Shop!

 PenguinPlace Christmas Giveaway! 

Have you had a chance to visit my Etsy Shop yet? I've been having a lot of fun making up hats, mittens and scarves for my Etsy shop. All items sold until the end of the year benefit my daughter's missions trip to South Africa.

Now you can enter to win one item ($15 and under) from my Etsy shop. You can enter TWICE per day. Once by leaving a comment on which item in my shop is your favorite, or what kind of hat you would like to see me add to my shop next. Would you like a sock monkey hat in a different color? Do you like the Alien Hat, but would like it in an adult size? Let me know! I love experimenting with sizes and styles.

 You can get in a second entry each day by liking one of my items on your Facebook page.  Just click on the Like button circled above (make sure you're signed into your Facebook account first).

I'm adding items to my shop a couple of times a week. I look forward to comments from my readers to give me inspiration for new hats!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: Until We All Come Home

I received a free copy of the book, "Until We All Come Home" by Kim De Blecourt in exchange for my honest review. I was quickly drawn into the story of how the De Blecourt family went to the Ukraine, thinking that in a few months, they would be able to come home with one more child in their family. The Ukrainian spokeswoman from the adoption agency  said it would take a week to choose a child, then four weeks for the paperwork to clear and court date to be set, and then you return with your child.

The road to adoption did not run that smoothly, however. They ran into one dead end after another, just finding a child who would be a good fit for their family. They finally found Sasha and were able to get their paperwork approved to the point where they could remove him from the orphanage and shower him with love, affection and good care. He flourished... the adoption process languished. 

The corrupt court system delayed the case to the point where Kim's husband and daughter returned home, and she stayed in the Ukraine with the little boy they had re-named Jacob, working her way through the complicated web of paperwork and court appearances necessary to finalize an international adoption.

One aspect of the De Blecourt’s story that stood out for me was how God's love flowed through Kim. She stood firm through so many trials that would have made a person with weaker resolve turn around and hop on the first plan back to the States, with empty arms. Her love for Jacob and her resolve to "care for...orphans in their need" (James 1:27) was evident to people throughout the Ukrainian court system.  

This is the kind of book that really touches your heart, and I pray that it will be the final confirmation to families across the country that they have room in their homes and hearts for an adopted child. The road may not be easy, but the final reward is worth it! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Moving my heart to get my fingers moving

There’s something about the cooler weather of fall that makes me want to pull out the knitting needles or crochet hook, root through my yarn stash, and make something. I scour the internet for patterns for new projects, I look at items in the store and think “I could make that”, and I look at my bins of yarn and say to myself, “I really need to use up some of this yarn!”

This year was no different. Well, maybe it was a little different, as I actually finished up a project and used up quite a bit of scrap yarn. I made myself a Granny Square jacket, and got past my usual reticence about sewing things together. I had it put together at the end of September (although every time I wear it, I’m finding yarn ends that still need to be tucked in).
Finished for Homecoming 9/29/12

Then it was on to other projects: another crocheted sweater for myself, a trapper hat for my daughter, a chemo cap for a friend. I found a book at the library with patterns for sweaters knit from the neck down with no seams (my favorite!). I started looking more closely at "Trapper Hats" in the store, since they're so popular right now. I started playing around with hat patterns and came up with a “monster hat” that made a little guy’s face light up. I figured out how to alter the pattern to make it fit an adult, and started playing with colors and patterns.
Projects, projects, projects!

Going through my yarn bin, looking for just the right color, I found an unfinished pair of fingerless gloves that I started last year. I added those to my list of projects to work on.

As I was sitting and knitting last night, I thought about how working on a project that will bless somebody else lifts not just their spirits, but mine. I thought of how I was working on a chemo cap for a friend. As I watched it taking shape, and felt how soft and cuddly it was, and how it would meet a need in her life, it lifted me out of the gloomy mood that I had found myself in. I experienced the same thing with the little boy’s “Monster Hat.” It was a green earflap hat with teeth on the front edge and eyes on the front. As I put the finishing touches on his hat, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought “He’s going to love this!” (He did.) I thought of other hats I could make: that brown yarn would make a cute bear hat, if I added ears and eyes. I could skip the eyes and do a hat in rainbow colors, with a rainbow braid for the tie string. I could make an orange hat and put jack-o-lantern features on it, with a green pom-pom on the top. So many ideas…

So, as I was knitting last night, I was thinking about how I can use my knitting & crocheting projects this fall for a greater purpose. Then I got it. 

My daughter Connie is going on a missions trip in early 2013. She and about ten others from our church are going to the Bethesda Outreach in South Africa, a home for children orphaned by AIDS (Bethesda Outreach). Connie is not doing traditional support-raising for the trip. Her share of the trip will come to about $1,600, but she is not sending out support letters. She let her friends know about the trip through Facebook, asking them to pray, and letting them know how they can send in financial support. Whatever doesn’t come in, she will cover herself. I’d love to send in a big, fat check to support her on her trip, but the money’s just not there right now. So, as I was working on a purple monster hat last night, I thought, “What if I sold these hats on ebay and put all the money I make from them towards Connie’s support?” 
Connie's 2010 Trip to Uganda. She can't wait to go back to Africa!

So, for the next few months, I hope to have a steady stream of hats and fingerless gloves on ebay, starting with today’s “purple people eater” hat (shown in the picture above). Hopefully by the time Connie leaves for Bethesda in late January, I will have cleaned out a good portion of my yarn stash, and made a significant contribution to her trip!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review & Giveaway: American Bible Challenge

I love game shows. I love to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. When I heard about a new game show called "The American Bible Challenge," I was intrigued. Unfortunately, there weren't any casting calls in my area to try out for the show.

The show premiered on GSN this week. I had a chance to see a video about the making of the show. It looks like a great, fun show. They even have an official Gospel choir that does upbeat versions hymns as entertainment during the show.

Teams of three will compete for charities: food pantries, hospitals and cancer research, Samaritan's Purse, and so many more. They go through lively rounds of multiple-choice questions with Jeff Foxworthy adding humorous commentary.

Watching the video about the making of the show, I was impressed with the way the producers worked at making a show that would be entertaining, but not irreverent. The teams start out with easier questions, work their way through harder questions, and eventually are told the subject of the final round. Here's an interesting twist: after Jeff Foxworthy reveals the subject of the final round, the teams are dismissed for twenty minutes of Bible study. They have time to quickly research and review Bible passages they think will be relevant to the final round. I thought that was pretty neat.

All in all, I think this is a great show, and I hope you'll tune in to watch it. Check out their  website or their Facebook page. Or, if you'd like a little bit of a behind-the-scenes look, here's a video about the making of the show.

I like the quote Jeff Foxworthy uses to close the program: "If you don't know your Bible, you don't have a prayer!"

About The American Bible Challenge

Comedian and author, Jeff Foxworthy hosts this studio-based game in which contestants compete based on their knowledge of the Bible.  Utilizing current as well as historical references, questions will be drawn from the rich, dense narrative found in the world's best-selling book.  The contestants will share their compelling back-stories and each team will be playing for a charitable organization. The American Bible Challenge is produced by RelativityREAL for GSN, with RelativityREAL’s Tom Forman (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) and Embassy Row’s Michael Davies ("The Newlywed Game," "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire") serving as Executive Producers on the project.  Nick Stuart and Maura Dunbar of Odyssey Networks are Consulting Producers.

About Host: Jeff Foxworthy
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy® Award nominee and the best-selling author of 11 books. Widely known for his redneck jokes, his act goes beyond that to explore the humor in everyday family interactions and human nature. 

And now... drumroll, please... the giveaway! I have a American Bible Challenge T-shirt and a Zondervan Quest study Bible to give away to one of my readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services 
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I 
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: The Forgiven Duke

It's been a while since I've done anything with my blog. Life has been hectic. Items on my to-do list have been ignored. I have a long list of topics, recipes and reviews I want to get posted here, so I'll jump back in with a book review and giveaway!

A few months ago, I got to review Jamie Carie's book "The Guardian Duke." It was a fun read, but really left the reader hanging at the end, with Alexandria Featherstone sailing away from Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, caught up in a rash promise to marry Lord John Lemon.

I was delighted when I got the chance to review the next book in the series, "The Forgiven Duke" before its July 1 publication date.

The second book in the series did not disappoint me. I had a hard time putting the book down, as I waited to see how the plot would play out. In the first book, Alexandria has a lively correspondence going on with the duke, but she has never met him face to face. She pictures him to be a rather withered old man. When Lord John Lemon showers her with attention and gifts, and offers to accompany her on her quest to find her parents, she impetuously agrees to marry him. As their boat sails away from the dock, the Duke of St. Easton arrives, just in time to see her on the deck of the ship. Alexandria realizes that "her duke" is not the doddering old man she imagined, but a young and handsome fellow.... Will she cut herself loose from John Lemon and embrace Gabriel, or is she still too afraid that he will keep her from her quest of finding her parents?

About the book:
Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon - the path of least resistance - Alexandria Featherstone sets off toward Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. A glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton - the path less traveled by - on Dublin’s shore still haunts her.

Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able,” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.

The powerful yet wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love.

I don't want to give away any of the story line, but this book was very entertaining, with plot twists, adventure, humor, and romance. And once again, Jamie Carie leaves the reader hanging at the end, eagerly waiting for the final book in the series, "A Duke's Promise" to be published September 1st.

Jamie Carie has a Facebook Page for this series, or you can check out this website. You can pre-order The Forgiven Duke at Amazon and they will ship it as soon as it is available! 

You don't have to wait until July 1st to get a copy of "The Forgiven Duke". One lucky reader of my blog will win an advanced reader copy. Just click on the Rafflecopter drawing below!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Lilies in Moonlight

I had a chance to read the book Lilies in Moonlight by Allison K. Pittman through Waterbrook-Multnomah's Blogging For Books program. Set in 1925, it's the story of a "modern woman" trying to make her way by selling Dalliance cosmetics door to door after being kicked out of her home by her mother. She crosses paths with a confused elderly woman named Betty Ruth.

The book was an entertaining read, as Lilly, Betty Ruth, Betty Ruth's son Cullen (a former baseball player who was burned by mustard gas in WWI), their housekeeper and their driver head from Florida to Pennsylvania on a mission to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play in the World Series.

This book had some great lesson on forgiveness, acceptance, family and new beginnings. Lilly and her mother need to work out their differences and forgive each other. Cullen needs to learn to accept himself, despite his limitations and disfigurement, and both of them need to figure out how to deal with Betty Ruth's slide into senility.

While I really enjoyed this book, there were a few items in this book that might raise an eyebrow with some. Lilly definitely isn't a role model through most of the book: drunkenness, parties, references to her past involvement with men, etc. While she does change over the course of the book, returning to the faith of her youth, there were a few scenes in the book that I thought were a bit too "edgy" for Christian fiction.

The Woodcarver Review & Giveaway

I had a chance to review the movie "The Woodcarver" over the weekend. It's the story of a troubled teenage boy, Matthew, who takes out his anger over his parents' broken marriage by vandalizing a church. When Matthew is assigned the task of repairing the damage he's done, he crosses paths with "Old Ernest," a talented woodcarver who has retreated into a world of loneliness since the death of his beloved wife. 

As Matthew and Ernest work together to carve the wood needed the church renovation, Matthew learns more about love, family, hard work, and Jesus. He changes from a rebellious, angry young man to one who focuses on "What Would Jesus Do?" It was touching to see how the changes in Matthew's life rippled out to change the lives of those around him. 

Even though this movie touched on subjects like divorce, death of a spouse, a workaholic attitude, corrupt business practices, and arson, it still managed to be a great "feel good" movie, one I have no qualms about donating to the church library to share with others.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Movie Review/Giveaway: Three Hearts

I had a chance recently to watch a movie call "Three Hearts". It's the story of the Children's Heart Project, a division of Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse, and how they bring three children from Mongolia to the United States to have life-changing heart surgery. 

I had heard about Samaritan's Purse before, thanks to their "shoebox ministry." The church my daughter attended in Erie, PA had an annual drive to fill thousands and thousands of shoeboxes with small gifts for children around the world. I had never heard of the Children's Heart Project, though, and this movie was a wonderful introduction.

About Three Hearts:
A passionate team of people work to save the lives of three Mongolian children with life-threatening heart defects.
Graduating college senior, Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham, takes on an internship at Samaritan’s Purse working with the Children’s Heart Project. This project is dedicated to saving the lives of children by providing medical procedures that aren’t available in many countries. Cissie is charged with supervising the arrival and surgeries of three Mongolian children suffering from fatal congenital heart defects. 
But the task is not easy and filled with unexpected challenges.  Cissie balances responsibilities as a newly married wife to a professional football player and her tasks with the internship.  Meanwhile the Children’s Heart team turns to a Texas family who travels to Mongolia for the adventure of a lifetime to help bring the children to San Antonio for their surgeries.  In Texas, two host families make sacrifices to care for these children and their mothers, while a team of doctors and nurses volunteer their time only to stare directly into the face of life and death. How far would you go to save a life?
It’s a fight for survival, a fight of faith, and a fight for a new life for these three hearts.

The movie is about such a serious topic: children who would probably not live past their twenties without heart surgery...and that heart surgery just can't be done in their country. The movie Three Hearts presents the stories of the three children (two teenage boys and a young girl) with warmth and humor. I cried with the families, laughed with them, paced while waiting for the outcome of the surgeries, and rejoiced with them. Cissie was supposed to go to Mongolia to meet the patients and bring the families back to the United States, but decided that, being a newlywed, she shouldn't make a commitment that would separate her from her husband for three months. She came up with a plan to send a young boy from Texas and his family in her stead, since the boy had heart surgery as an infant. Watching him and his family experience life in Mongolia (including fermented camel milk!), encourage the families of the Mongolian heart patients, and support them in their travel back to the United States was both entertaining and heart-warming. 

I would highly recommend this video for families and church libraries! I think that churches all across the country should become aware of the Children's Heart Project. The more churches, doctors and hospitals we can get to support this project, the more children they can help, physically and spiritually.

The Giveaway! 

I have the chance to give away a copy of  "Three Hearts" to one of my readers. 

There are two ways to enter: 

1. By leaving a comment below (leave your e-mail address if it doesn't show up in your Google profile, so I can contact the winner)

2. Or, if you would rather not post your e-mail on a public blog, you can send me an e-mail at - with the subject line "Three Hearts"

Giveaway ends on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM. Limited to U.S. residents only, age 13 and up. Limit one entry per person per day.
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services 
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I 
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Two more gluten-free recipes

Last week, a friend posted on Facebook that a cold shower (thanks to her children using the hot water at the same time) sapped her SuperMom superpowers. I thought of that yesterday as I took my shower right after the biggest hot-water-hog in the house: the dishwasher. Fortunately, when I finished, I was able to warm back up again, since these delicious Gluten-Free Apple Streusel Muffins were just coming out of the oven.
Gluten-Free Apple Streusel Muffins
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c gluten-free oats, pureed to flour in the blender
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp Apple Pie Spice
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 egg
1/2 c vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 c chopped walnuts
1/4 c water
Combine cornstarch, flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and apple pie spice in large mixing bowl. Mix well. Grate apple into flour mixture and stir to coat. Add egg, yogurt, oil, nuts, and water. Mix until combined. Spoon into muffin cups lined with cupcake liners.

2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp chopped nuts
1 Tbsp sorghum flour
1/4 tsp apple pie spice
1 Tbsp butter
Combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over tops of muffins. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-27 minutes. Makes 9 muffins.

I've been experimenting for weeks with recipes from the "Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" cookbook. Most of her recipes start with a four-flour blend that contains garbanzo bean flour, which I prefer not to use in breakfast breads because I think it has an aftertaste. I have been adding unflavored gelatin and egg replacer to my breads to add some more protein. I buy the unflavored gelatin from

So, after several tries, I made a gluten-free bread this week that worked out really well. With some sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds tossed in there, along with some whole grain sorghum flour and ground gluten-free oats, it tastes like a whole-grain bread, too. When I made it with dinner the other night, Ron asked for seconds... the mark of approval! It made great French Toast, and great garlic bread... so now, this is my new favorite recipe!

New Favorite Gluten-Free Bread
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c sorghum flour
1/2 c gluten-free oats, blended into flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)
1 tsp egg replacer
1Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1tsp flaxseed
1 tsp chia seed
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 c warm water (divided)
Put yeast, brown sugar, lemon juice and honey in cup with 1/2 cup water. Let stand while you mix up the dry ingredients. Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, gelatin, egg replacer, sunflower seeds, flax seed, chia seed and sesame seeds. Add yeast mixture, eggs, and oil. Mix until combined. Measure out another 1/2 cup water (use it to rinse the last of the yeast out of the cup) and add it to the dough. Mix for three minutes. Dough will be very soft and sticky, like a muffin batter. Spoon into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Smooth out the top with a wet spoon or wet fingers. Let rise for an hour. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: "The Guardian Duke"

When I was offered the chance to review the book "The Guardian Duke" by Jamie Carie, I figured I'd probably like it, even though historical fiction set in the Regency era isn't usually my cup of tea. Sometimes the story line gets lost in descriptions of their apparel or surroundings. This book sounded intriguing, so I decided to give it a try. A young woman's parents have disappeared, and she is notified that The Crown has declared her parents dead, and assigned the Duke of St. Easton as her guardian. Alexandria feels that her parents must still be alive, and need her to rescue them, so rather than submit to the Duke (who, she decides, must be a shriveled-up old man), she heads off on her own to rescue them.

The book actually had much more action and humor than I expected from a Regency romance. Alex travels from town to town, country to country, following clues she hopes will lead her to her parents, while Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, does his best to follow! The ending left me hanging... and marking July 2012 in my calendar with "Watch for The Forgiven Duke to be released!" This was an enjoyable, light-hearted read, and I look forward to reading more of Jamie Carie's books!

About the Book:
The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet.
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.
When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 The Giveaway! 

I have the chance to give away a copy of  "The Guardian Duke" to one of my readers. 

There are two ways to enter: 

1. By leaving a comment below (leave your e-mail address if it doesn't show up in your Google profile, so I can contact the winner)

2. Or, if you would rather not post your e-mail on a public blog, you can send me an e-mail at - with the subject line "Guardian Duke"

Giveaway ends on Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM. Limited to U.S. residents only, age 13 and up. Limit one entry per person per day.