After reading the following list of words, would you conclude that this list of words includes: a. medical terminology for nursing school; b. choices for a challenging crossword puzzle; or c. my child's spelling list?
If you guessed that this bizarre list of words is from my child's spelling list, you guessed correctly!
No, I'm not offering spelling studies as cruel and unusual punishment, though at times one of my children may complain that it is so. :)
Actually, my girls finished their spelling curriculum several years ago, so we began having them study for our community's annual spelling bee. Our oldest daughter, Kelsi, came in 2nd place at the county spelling bee two separate years; 6th place one year; and in her final year as an eligible participant in the spelling bee, she won! Along with a giant trophy, she also won a laptop computer and many accessories to go along with it. With her two other second place wins, she also won a iPod Shuffle, an iTunes gift card, and a Kindle. Nice!
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In a large saucepan (I use a 6-quart pot for a single or double batch), melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute celery and onion until tender. Add diced potatoes and broth. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Using a hand potato masher, gently mash some of the potatoes in the pot; leave some chunks whole. Stir in seasonings and milk. Add the cheese and heat only until melted. Garnish with croutons, if desired.
**If you find that your soup needs more potatoes to firm it up a bit, you may consider adding 1/2 cup to 1 cup organic instant mashed potatoes and stirring until the soup is thicker.
What's your favorite "go to" soup recipe that you enjoy making in the cooler weather?
I was feeling unsettled about our Thanksgiving plans for this year, for some reason. And then, about a week ago, I came across Ann Voskamp's Thanksgiving family activity called The Thanks Giving Tree. If you're not familiar with Ann, she has written One Thousand Gifts, a book that has remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for over a year - and not because it's filled with nastiness that shouldn't be discussed in public or private. It's a beautiful book, I've heard from friends. I hope to read it soon.
Anyway, after reading about Ann's Thanks Giving Tree, I decided that we should give this a try for our Thanksgiving dinner. In years past, although we are very grateful to the Lord Jesus for blessing our family, our demonstration of gratefulness wasn't much more than a prayer of thanks before we ate our turkey dinner together.
This year, I felt the whisper of the Holy Spirit to be more intentional about showing our thanks to the Lord. And so we did. Ann offers some pages of beautiful, free printable leaves that contain Bible verses of thanksgiving on one side, and are blank on the back side so people can write down things that they are thankful for.
I printed these out, bought some new eucalyptus stems - and that was a joy in and of itself! I don't usually buy anything except groceries, stamps, and a few odds and ends for our homeschooling, so it was delightful to browse through the stems of greenery (a.k.a. "fake" plants) at our local craft store and find something that would match our table. Of course, the aroma of eucalyptus is absolutely intoxicating to me, too, so it was an easy decision.
Such a wide variety of answers, from "chicken" to "my husband's provisions for us so I am able to stay at home with our children."
We loved how these turned out, and we're currently working on some new Scripture printables for Christmas - so, stay tuned!
The foam "Give Thanks" pilgrims sign was something my girls made when they were quite small! Oh, did that bring back memories!
I also printed out free printables and directions to make some cute turkey placemats. The girls cut out all of the feathers, waddles, beaks, and feet, and I put them all together to make these darling placemats. We hadn't done a craft together in quite a while, so this was fun...although time-consuming. (I'm going to laminate these this next week, so we can reuse them in the future! They took too long to make to just throw away!)
Another adjustment I made to our Thanksgiving day together was that we decided to not make a ton of side dishes. We decided to simplify our menu! After all, for my family, the thing we look forward to the most is the turkey, homemade gravy, and Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. Instead of having several salads and vegetable side dishes, we stuck with a more simple menu. I cooked the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie. My parents brought over a new brussels sprouts dish with dried cranberries in them (yum!), and a pumpkin pie. My mom helped out while I was finishing up the food; she made her delicious homemade gravy for us. Our friend, Marge, brought over butterflake rolls to share with us.
See? Simple. It was the first Thanksgiving Day that I didn't feel rushed or overly stressed.
And when everyone left to go home that evening, my heart rhythm wasn't all messed up, so I didn't need to take a nap on the couch.
It was a beautiful day!
I feel especially blessed to spend most Thanksgiving Days with my parents. They aren't getting any younger, ya' know, and I treasure each holiday or Holy Day I'm able to spend with them.
It took extra time to be intentional about handing down our faith and thankfulness to our children and our guests...but I'd say it was completely worth it! The day was so much more peaceful. We all worked together to help prepare the food, and it was a joy to share the day together.
Have you ever intentionally planned activities, decor, or other things to share your faith with others on holidays or Holy Days?
A new book by Vannetta Chapman: Material Witness
Tragedy strikes on the opening night of the Fall Crafters' Fair when a woman is killed in the parking lot of Daisy's Quilt Shop, and the only material witness is one of Melinda Byer's boys. The investigation takes a more bizarre turn when detective Shane Black becomes convinced the killer was actually after Callie. This time, it's a madman loose in the largest crowd of the year, and he's looking for something or someone. If they can't figure out what, one of Deborah and Callie's close circle of friends may be next. Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, an Amish boy whose handicap makes him stronger, one brave dog, and a possible hidden treasure ... read more for nonstop action, danger, and a dash of romance!
Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines and has received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. She published a novel with Abingdon Press called A Simple Amish Christmas in October of 2010. Her first Quilt Shop Murder Mystery, Falling to Pieces (Zondervan), released in September 2011. Falling to Pieces is the first book in Vannetta's Amish mystery three-book series. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
Joy In Our Journey's review:
However, it is true in Material Witness, the third book in a new series by Vannetta Chapman called A Shipshewana Mystery. And a very intriguing story it is.
How all this works out as the Englisch and the Amish work together to not only find the criminal, but to solve a years-old mystery, is a delightful read. I must warn you, before you begin reading this book, you need to make sure you have enough time to finish it, or you will loose some sleep. It is a book you can't put down!
I appreciated the way the author made each character not only true to their heritage, but to also work together in order to live as friends and neighbors, and to solve the mystery.
I have read many Amish books, but this book series - A Shipshewana Mystery - has become one of my favorites.
I received one copy of Material Witness from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for Joy In Our Journey's honest review shared here with you. No other compensation was provided.
Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles...
Email subscribers may want to click back to the original post to view all of the graphics and any other media that may be a part of this blog post!
Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow's Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.
Joy In Our Journey's review:
Celia needs to learn to love again, and to accept the help she desperately needs to repair her boarding house. Mark needs to find his father, and learn to forgive both his father and God. What Celia doesn't need is two other batchlors who enjoy her cooking and each would like to make her his permanent cook. What Mark doesn't need is to be tied down with a family and not to be able to search for his father.
But God has a better plan for both! How ever can these two young people find what they really need, and forgive their past? Christmas Roses is the answer, but to find their heart's desire, each will have to give up what they think that they want.
Amanda Cabot is a new author for me, but I will be looking for more of her books, like Christmas Roses.
I received one hardbound copy of Christmas Roses in exchange for Joy In Our Journey's honest review of the book. No other compensation was provided.
I've placed Scripture verses on these leaves for you to print our and decorate your home. What a blessing to be able to share with your children and your guests the wonderful words of the Bible and how a grateful heart is so pleasing to the Lord!
I printed my set on cardstock, and then cut out the leaves to place up on the walls in our living room and dining room.
There are 8 pages of leaves, so you may print out all of them...or just the ones you want.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving week with your family!
Congratulations to our new winners of Joy In Our Journey's latest giveaways!
Marc R. (D.) has won the beautiful, new Christmas book: The Sparkle box!
LaRee W. is the winner of the Father of Lights DVD. I know she will enjoy the blessings this DVD has to offer.
What does your spice cupboard look like?
Are salt and pepper the main two items you use to "spice up" your foods? Or do you have a few basic "go to" spices in addition, like cinnamon, basil, Italian seasoning, or crushed red pepper flakes?
Or are you a spice fanatic like me, with over 65 spices and herbs in my cupboard at any given moment?
Who would want to have to deal with so many spices in their kitchen? Um, me! :)
For over 20 years now, I've mainly used a lazy Susan to organize my spices in my kitchen cupboard. About 8 years ago, I expanded and added one of those tiered stairstep shelf systems that sit in the cupboard - about $10. That worked for a while, until one day I realized my spices were not "in order", not ALPHABETIZED very well anymore...maybe because we now have four "chefs" in our kitchen, ya' think?
In some discussions with friends on Facebook and the internet in the last year or so, people have been surprised to learn that some of us actually ALPHABETIZE our spices.
Or maybe it's just my twin sister and me that do this?
Why in the world? Are we majorly OCD and must alphabetize everything in our home?
Um - no. But since I have so many spices in one location, I don't want to spend more than 3-4 nanoseconds to look for the specific spice I need at the moment. I want to be able to grab it and get on with making dinner!
I pulled out all of the spices and herbs and set them on the kitchen counter in little groups, alphabetizing them as I went along.
I decided to try to organize the spices without the lazy Susan two-tiered rack...because when I brought down the stairstepped rack from the cupboard, I realized that I had only been using half of it! The other half was neatly tucked inside it. I do remember now that there were two long sections of it, but since I only needed one of them at the time, I "hid" the other half underneath to keep it out of the way.
After thoroughly cleaning the shelves in that cupboard, I looked closely at the spice bottles. There were a few spices and seasonings where I had more than one container of each spice...thus, one of the reasons it was time to reorganize the spices. In a few cases, I was able to pour the contents of one spice into the second bottle, so I could recycle the empty bottle and give myself more room in this cupboard. Yeah!
Then, I placed the spice bottles back into the cupboard, onto the stairstep rack, in alphabetical order.
Remember the 3-4 nanoseconds? Good. Because that will keep you from thinking I'm completely insane.
After admiring my handiwork, I realized that because most spice labels are toward the bottom of each spice jar, they're not easily seen.
Uh-oh! Now it will take more than 3-4 nanoseconds to find the spice I need! Gulp!
So I decided I'd get out our little labeling machine, an older Brother PT-66 P-Touch Home & Hobby tape label do-hicky. I printed out labels for almost every spice bottle and placed the label near the top of each lid or bottle.
Maybe that is a little bit OCD, but I still want to be able to grab the spice and get busy with it, not have to pick up 10 jars to find the one I want.
1. I'm not a brand loyalist. I've got spices from Penzey's (mail order), from a favorite restaurant (Hungarian paprika from Europe), organic spices, non-organic spices, Spice Islands, McCormick, Private Selection from Fred Meyer (store brand), and others. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person, but it helps to prove that I'm not completely OCD. :)
2. Sometimes, I'll spend more money on spices (saffron from Penzey's) or not pay much at all (refilling spice jars from bulk spices at the grocery store).
3. I'm not completely OCD...because you'll notice that some of the labels went onto the jars a bit crooked - and I'm okay with that. :)
There were a few types of jars that had curved necks and flat, thin lids that wouldn't hold a label, so I had to press the label onto the neck of the bottle. I didn't like the way it bubbled up as I pressed the label down, so the next time I need that particular spice, I'll go ahead and purchase a new bottle with a better-shaped neck and lid.
And in the future, I'm going to attempt to replace some of my old plastic spice/herb bottles with glass jars, since we're trying to use less plastic around our foods.
I also noticed that those spice/herb plastic containers that are half the size of some of the other spices? Well, they're not possible to read at all, even with labels near the lids. They're just too short to be seen above the next row of spices. So, in the future, I'll be replacing those small herb containers with the regular, taller spice jars.
Just to dispel any incorrect assumptions about the way I cook: no, I don't use every spice regularly. There are many that I do use regularly, but there are some that I use infrequently or even rarely. But without their unique flavors, the foods I enjoy cooking just wouldn't taste the same!
How have you chosen to organize your spices? Are you a 1-2 spice kind of cook, or do you have too many to count? Or do you think to yourself, "What are spices?" :)
Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all.
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, The Jerk Magnet, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books in 2010 and won the award in 2011. She and her husband live in central Oregon. For more information about Melody visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.
Joy In Our Journey's review:
My sweet and thoughtful 12-year-old daughter, Brittany, read The Christmas Pony last week as part of her weekly reading for school, and she kindly wrote our book review this time!
this Christmas. Her mother has assured her in no uncertain terms that
asking for a pony is the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the
only extra mouths they need at their boarding house are the paying
kind. Then an interesting pair of strangers come to town, and Lucy's
world changes forever.
The Christmas Pony is an easy and quick feel-good Christmas book by
Melody Carlson. It follows the story of a very young girl named Lucy
Turnbull and her mother, Miriam, as well as Lucy's grandmother, who
lives with them. Ever since Lucy's father died, her mother and
grandmother have been taking in boarders at their house for extra
money. However, taking in boarders does not earn as much money as they
This Christmas, Lucy really wants a pony for Christmas called Smoky.
Although Lucy really wants him, her mother says they don't have enough
money for him.
When a beautiful lady named Veronica, and George, a man who is taking her to
California, board at their house, Lucy is really excited. Lucy thinks Veronica is really pretty and nice.
Here's the ending of the story: George and Lucy's mom fall in love
(and it is implied that they get married), Veronica ends up being
really vain and rude and leaves for California without George, and
Lucy finally gets the pony she wished for.
Overall, I really liked this book. It was very cute, and a very easy
read. I got through with this one in about two days, but I could have
easily finished it in one. The one thing about this book that I don't
really like is that when George and Miriam only have known each other
for about a week, they're already really in love and he mentions to
Lucy that he might want to propose. It just seems a little rushed to
However, this is a really good book, and I recommend it.
Thank you, Brittany!
I received one hardbound copy of The Christmas Pony in exchange for Joy In Our Journey.com's honest review posted here for you to read. No other compensation was provided.
Michigan, 1883: In her darkest hours, is he the man she needs?
Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.
Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.
Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?
Joy In Our Journey's review:
Lily’s greatest concern was for her sister, who sent her a note saying she also was going out on her own and asking Lily not to search for her. Daisy had succumbed to the world of prostitution, and Lily was determined to “rescue” her and others like her, who felt they had no choice of earning a living than to live in the brothels of their time and be cared for by those who earned a living from their misfortune. Once inside a brothel, there was little chance of ever escaping. Those who tried to escape endured horrible punishment, even death.
Lily’s only friend and companion was Oren, an elderly photographer, who along with his now deceased wife, Betty, provided a loving home for Lily for the past few years. Oren and Lily traveled the logging camps, photographing the young loggers for income. They arrived at Harrison and ended up in the Northern Hotel, a place for the “shanty boys” who worked the logging camps and spent their nights and received a hot meal at the end of their long work day. Unfortunately, most of these young men also spent much time and most of their hard-earned money in the nearby taverns, drinking and spending time with the in-house prostitutes. It is an extremely sordid environment for a young Christian girl, but Lily is determined to continue her work as a rescuer and refuses to fear any of the men who admire and lust after her.
One young man who stepped in to protect Lily many times, Connell McCormack, turned out to be the son of the local lumber baron, who actually lived in a small city several hours from Harrison. Connell had been raised by a very strict father and obediently attempted to please his father with his hard work and industrious efforts at building up his father’s wealth. The logging industry left in its wake a barren and ugly landscape, which Lily noticed and grieved over, almost as much as her girls she attempted to rescue. She surprised herself by being extremely attracted to Connell and finding he was likewise attracted to her, in spite of both of them resolving to avoid the opposite sex!
Between rescuing the fallen women and attempting to change Connell’s mindset to that of wanting to improve the environment his logging business has destroyed, this novel is filled with many exciting adventures. Lily was an adventurous and brave young woman, but very foolish in some of her head-strong attempts at her rescues. Connell, because of his love and admiration for this woman, risked his own life many times in order to preserve hers. Lily learns she can trust God to guide her and lead her through her chosen path and help her accomplish her goals, but she had many lessons to learn along the way.
The events in this novel are based on a number of historical events occurring in Harrison, Michigan, as well as some of the characters of that time.
Here are the first 3 chapters:
Q & A about Unending Devotion:
Jody has written novels for the last 20 years. After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).
Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride, became a best seller and has won multiple awards. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released in September of 2011, and her third book, Unending Devotion, was released in September 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!
Jody has five children ranging in ages from 15 to 6, with a set of twin daughters in the mix to make things more lively.
She spends the major part of each day teaching her children at home. When not teaching, she’s either writing or folding laundry and wondering why there are so many missing socks. Her theory? A sock monster lives under the kids’ beds and steals them when no one’s looking. The alternate theory? The dog eats them.
Readers' Group or Book Club Discussion Questions:
- Before reading Unending Devotion what were some of the stereotypes you had about the lumber era? What problems during that era did the story bring to light?
- In the beginning of the book, Connell had the philosophy that there's not much he can do to change the social ills around him so why even bother trying. What are some ways we fall into the complacency trap today? Why is it so easy for us to think that because others are fighting against the problems we don't need to do anything?
- While some of us tend toward complacency, others of us are more like Lily, wanting to save the world. What are some causes or organizations that you've been a part of or helped? What would you recommend for someone wanting to know how they can get more involved in helping others?
- Lily thought she had to help God along in His plans and efforts. She took control of the situation instead of waiting for His leading. Why do we so often make our own plans without consulting God on His?
- As Vera said, we don't always know the bigger picture that God is piecing together of our lives. Ultimately His ways are higher than ours, and we can't always understand what He's doing. Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't know what God was doing, but then later it became clear what He was up to?
- What did you think of Connell's self-restraint when he was around Lily? In our modern culture, do you think we're teaching boys to use enough restraint with girls, or do you think respect has largely become a characteristic of bygone eras?
- In the end when Daisy returned, Lily was quick to forgive her sister for leaving. How does that illustrate God's forgiveness of us when we return to Him?
- If you could write the next chapter of the book, what do you think would happen to Daisy? Will she have to live with the consequences of her sin? Will she find hope and healing? Or do you think she will struggle to stay pure?
I received one paperback copy of Unending Devotion in exchange for my honest review of this book. No other compensation was provided.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
You'll find me in the kitchen
trying new Trim Healthy Mama recipes, loving God, and carrying out that love as I bless my husband and teen daughters.
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