Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Whatever is Lovely- a beautiful adult coloring book with faith at its core

Usually I try and steer clear of all things "trendy", but the current adult coloring book is too fun to pass up! Coloring was defintely a favorite childhood hobby of mine and one I felt like I probably held on to for too long! But now coloring is the "cool" thing to do and there's even scientific evidence to prove its a stress relieving activity. I am not artistic at all (like really, truly-not at all) so having a beautiful  picture that I didn't have to draw but can still "create"- thru my own interpretation of colors- is really appealing. I printed out a few free coloring pages to color alongside my boys this fall, but hadn't seen any coloring books I just had to have. Until this one came on the scene-

Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship. An absolutely gorgeous and very high quality coloring book collaborated by many of the finest and favorite Christian illustrators of the Internet. One of my very favorite illustrators- Jenny Stewart of French Press Mornings- has a couple beautiful offerings in this awesome collection. I will say, a couple of the pages seem a little "kiddish" to me, but I suppose you can expect that in a coloring book. For the most part, the pictures are lovely and varied in style. I can't wait to get some good quality colored pencils and have some "artwork" to hang on the fridge next to my kids'. ;) 

There's also a music playlist you can access online with a code found inside the book that is designed to correlate with the restful experience of using the coloring book. I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening to get the full experience - playlist and all! 
If you've been wanting to give adult coloring a go- Whatever is Lovely coloring book is a great launch pad! 

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

What my Baby Boy got for Christmas: the Perfect Bible for Little Hands

Well, Christmas came and went in went seemed like an instant! We enjoyed a slowed down, intentional Christmas season countdown and somehow, the actual day went by in a blink! But it was still a joyful mad dash of chaos :) Now we're in the strange week of transition from Christmas to a brand new year! We've been slowly taking down Christmas decor and enjoying our new gifts. In one of my last posts, I told you that one of our Christmas gift traditions is to get each of the boys a bible book of some kind. My baby boy who is (already!)  11 months old received The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Little Ones.

This is the perfect, little bible for little hands! It has a padded cover and great quality boardbook pages. It covers 9 of the most beloved bible stories summed up in 4 pages each. The illustrations are whimsical and friendly and the rhymes are engaging and lyrical. I'm so happy to have this sweet bible addition on the shelf for my littlest reader. 

I received this book in exchange of my honest review.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Eating well truly is about balance, not sacrifice

I have always loved good food-not just sweets or comfort food or a certain ethnic variety. I love well made food in almost every category. I savor fresh ingredients, complex flavors and unique cooking methods. I also have a deep love for cooking- for preparing the best dishes I can for my loved ones and yes, myself as well! As a young, single woman I would think nothing of spending a decent amount of my paycheck on gourmet ingredients for the best looking dish in my latest issue of Bon Appetit. A relaxing evening in meant curling up on the couch and watch the Food Network.
 But after marriage and 3 kids later, I find I don't have the time, energy or finances to cook my beloved gourmet way. On top of that, I don't have the metabolism of my teen self to indulge daily without feeling the consequences on the scale. Having done my nutrition research and choosing what sort of diet would be the healthiest and most sustainable for my family, I feel I can adapt most recipes to meet both our tastes and needs.
I was excited to delve into a beloved Food Network star, Giada De Larentis' newest cookbook-Happy Cooking:Make every meal count....without stressing out. That sounds like my kind of cooking! I wasn't disappointed; Giada's style really resonates with where I am when it comes to life in the kitchen. She is a busy mom, juggling hectic life with a desire to provide her family with real, good food. I loved the introduction she wrote explaining her philosophy on cooking and her desires for this book. I stole one line and used it as the title for this post. ;) That truly is the words I try and follow when it comes to food. Good food is a huge pleasure in life for me so I refuse to completely sacrifice that love. But I do try hard to find a healthy balance between clean, low carb style meals most of the time to allow for some true foodie indulgences every once in awhile!
 I am the most naturally uninspired when it comes to breakfast dishes, so I was very excited to see the varied and delicious breakfast recipes in the book. I will definitely be trying the American Breakfast Rice Bowl! This cookbook has a diverse and fun selection of recipes for every kind of meal and occasion you could imagine. I am excited to jump and get to cooking some of Giada's offerings. I especially love some of the unique, fun appetizers and dishes that would make great "company's coming for dinner" food. And I appreciate that being balanced out with very healthful, personally minded recipes scattered through the book as well.
 I have a feeling this book is going to become very well loved in my kitchen. In fact, I'm already planning on making these delectable looking Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze as my holiday giving cookie of choice!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

You can never have too much Good News!

I have become a minimalist in so many areas of my life, particularly when it comes to material belongings. I have culled thru my closet, my kitchen, even my favored home d├ęcor items. Less is (usually) more. But what category I can't seem to cut down on is books, specifically children's books. I just LOVE books; a quality book feels like a treasure in my hands. And the book I know to be a very literal treasure is the Bible. I view the Bible as a the most life giving source of words ever written and try very hard to pass this reverence and love for the "Good Book" to my boys. So out of all books, I feel you can never have enough copies of the Bible around. We have several different versions of children's Bibles on our shelves and I have no intentions of stopping adding to that collection! I try to buy each of the boys a new Bible book of some kind for Christmas. This year my middle boy is getting the God's Good News Bible Storybook!

I love the large format and great quality of this Bible storybook, making it very accessible to little hands. I also appreciate that it's pretty straightforward: There is a selected text straight out of the bible, an engaging illustration of said story and a short devotional message from Billy Graham. I have always loved Billy Graham's heart for the gospel and making it simple and clear for All. I can trust that a Bible book from Billy Graham won't be watered down and will give my kids the true gospel message. I don't know of many other kids books from Billy Graham so I am excited to have this one on our shelves. I love knowing there is some Good News wrapped up in a pretty package under the tree for my little boy this Christmas!
 I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A book that addresses the problems and power of the church

Church has been a big part of my life from the very start. I grew up in Sunday school and vacation bible school programs and with a Deacon for a father. My family always tried to be good friends to the pastor's family and my dad was involved in the governing of the church. We saw the nitty gritty of what makes a church run and what causes a church to flail. We ended up leaving my childhood church when I was 18 due to  long term, unhealthy attitudes and actions taken by the leadership towards the pastor there. We saw a lot of drama and hurt- the kind of stuff that causes people to be leery of churches or leave them behind all together. But my parents knew a truth- the Church is a diverse group of people, sinners, who are united under common beliefs and hope but still run into contentions and hurts between human beings. We now attend another small community church that we love and brought me some very good friends and even my husband! We love this little body of believers but you know what? We've also been hurt by other Christians there and seen some ugly issues happen here as well. No church, until Christ's return, is immune from human error.
 Unstoppable Gospel: Living Out the World-Changing Vision of Jesus's First Followers is a jam packed resource of a book that does a very through job addressing the issues that the church runs into and more than that, the power of the church. Gregg Matte maps out the history of the first church and the foundational beliefs they anchored their faith in and found their mission through. He stresses the importance of intense prayer and reminds us of our mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (and how amazingly possible that is in today's modern world!).  Matte brings us back to the core truth that a successful church isn't measured by how many ministries there are, attendance numbers or how relevant the service is. A successful church is all about Jesus.
 Unstoppable Gospel goes on to give some great advice on how to find a balance in tithing, to slow down and spot opportunities to minister to searching hearts, and how to find the true measure of the sacrifice required of following Christ. Matte finishes out the book with a challenge to consider the higher disciplines of a life in mission work and fasting. I feel this book covers a lot of bases when it comes to what the church was created to be, is in reality at times and can be thru the power of the gospel.
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.