Monday, 17 October 2016

Book Review: Teaching Others to Defend Christianity by Cathryn S. Buse

Teaching Others to Defend Christianity comes from NASA engineer Cathryn Buse. Buse noticed that many of her colleagues had deep doubts and criticisms about Christianity. Searching for a way to communicate God's love to the logic minded, Buse wrote Teaching Others to Defend Christianity to fill a gap she felt lacking in most ministries. Eventually, Buse founded Defend the Faith Ministry to help others learn how to better explain their faith in Jesus.

In Teaching Others  Buse moves the critical thinking reader from a belief in an absence of any god to belief in the Christian God and the redeeming love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ in six logic based lessons. Buse expertly applies the laws of logic, philosophical principles and  scientific facts to lead the reader down a path of realizing the Christian truth. She breaks down proven or everyday sceanarios using logic principles and then applies those same principles to faith. A lesson I found particularly interesting was lesson 5 which proves the validity of the New Testament through internal evidence, external evidence and bibliographical evidence. At the conclusion of each chapter is a series of thought provoking questions designed to further reinforce the lessons learned in the chapter.

The book is designed to be a teaching tool to for those wanting to teach people how to lead their friends and colleagues logically from atheism to to belief in Jesus. However, I think it is a great tool for those wanting a better understanding of the "whys" and "how comes" behind their faith or deal with the questions and criticisms presented by the media and/or atheist friends.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Book Review: Finding Father Christmas/Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Gunn richly paints the story of Miranda Carson's search for a father who doesn't know she exists. Miranda travels to England at Christmas time with only a photo and the name of a photography studio. She meets a cast of characters who help her along the way, one of which follows her into the next novel as a love interest. In both novels, Gunn uses delightful imagery to pain quaint and cheery Christmas scenes and lovable characters. It is easy to see why her books were chosen to become a Hallmark movie. I thought both stories were lovely and I have high hopes for Kissing Father Christmas, although it doesn't star Miranda as the protagonist.

I was glad that Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas were bound in the same volume. It makes a lovely stocking stuffer. Also, I think I would have been disappointed if  I had to purchase the novels separately as I believe they were originally attended. Separately, I feel as they are more like novellas than novels. I think Finding and Engaging work together perfectly as one story.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

ATM Favorite Cookbook: Victuals by Ronni Lundy

I was thrilled the moment I unearthed this book from its packaging. The cover is beautiful. The recipes are delicious. The research is well done and the stories beautifully told. It wonderfully explains the food of the past and present NC mountains. Can we just say that I am in love with this book?

This is one beauty that will not be leaving my shelf. Victuals is what you get when a well written history books and a delightful cookbook come together as one.

I made a huge list of recipes that I wanted to try from this book but thus far I have made:

Remembrances of Jerry's Past Chili- This chili was fabulously meaty. I can see why it inspires memories. My husband would have preferred more heat but I think it can go either way.

Doorbell Pork with Hominy and Greens. I subbed spinach for this but it turned out just as I imagined. My pork chops looked pretty much like the picture. This recipe is a prime example of how well written the recipes are and how simple they are to follow.

Cornbread- My cornbread turned out gritty. This is most likely user error. It smelled heavenly, thanks to the bacon grease.

Cornbread Soup- I thought this soup was a brilliant idea but I didn't really care for it. I thought the combination of buttermilk, leeks and celery was just too tangy for my liking.

Chipped Ham with Bigger Isn't Better Buttermilk Biscuits- The gravy is delicious. The biscuits are superb and simple and I will definitely be adding them to my repertoire.

Chicken and Dumplings-These are all the way from scratch y'all. And they are banging. Good flavor and the chicken was so juicy. I didn't have a lemon so I used an orange. Perfection. I'd make the roasted chicken again as a standalone main. It was so easy! I still can't get over how tender and juicy the chicken was.

I think I loved this book so much because, I, too, am from the porch sitting people that Lundy shares stories about and I dream of being a porch sitter in the hills of North Carolina. Victuals has inspired me to check out Mr. Lundy's other books.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Opinions are 100% mine and 100% honest.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Try the World Box 3: Italy

My 3rd Try the World box came last week!

For those new to Try the World, it's a subscription service where each month you receive a box with 7-8 products from that month's featured country. Boxes cost $39 a month. You can read about my other Try the World boxes here.

This month's featured country was Italy. I was so excited when I made this discovery as I love to eat Italian food but don't cook it very often because...nerves!

Here's what came in this month's box:

From left to right: truffle zest (retails at $12.90), balsamic vinegar, hazelnut cream (retails at $10.50) and pesto (retails at $8.90) 

From left to right/back to front: pappardelle (retails at $8.00), coffee, amaretti (retails at $6.90), and mushroom risotto (retails around $13.00)

I didn't search prices on all of items and we already hit over $40 in value. I have gotten more than my money's worth with every box. Also, I love that Try the World sends items I may not think to try on my own.

This is my 3rd box and each box has had a healthy mix of ready to cook items (risotto), pantry staples (vinegar) and treats (amaretti).

Out of this book, I think I will make:

  • Pesto pappardelle (pesto and pasta)
  • Risotto (risotta and truffle zest)
  • Tiramisu (with the coffee)
  • Hazelnut Zabaglione (hazelnut cream)
If you'd like to give Try the World a whirl, you can sign up HERE. I will get $15 store credit for anyone who signs up with that link.

Any questions? Or recipe ideas?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Mila's Story

When we were in Korea we came across a Facebook ad trying to find a home for a Husky. An American sailor was being deployed to Spain and huskies are on the aggressive dog list there so he couldn't take his dog with him.

We debated and we agonized but we eventually send the sailor a message. We agonized a bit more and then they brought Mila to see us.

My husband met the sailor at the McDonald's and they drove back to our apartment together. He said as soon as Mila saw him, she licked his face.

When they got to our apartment, Mila strode right in and plopped down on a chair. Like she'd been there all along.

We adopted Mila and slowly adjusted to a routine with her. She loved going for walks at the track in the park. Children loved coming up to her. They thought she was a wolf but once they realized she would play they were delighted. Mila was too, she loves children.

Once, we came across a toddler wearing squeaky shoes and Mila couldn't decide what to do! She couldn't decide if the wee one was a child or a giant squeaky toy.

Some adults and older children were mean to her, throwing stones or trying to kick her. Pets are still are relatively new thing in Korea and most people saw her as dirty and scary.

Mila was very well trained. When we first adopted her she was trained to ring a bell when she wanted to go out to pee. We quickly ended that ritual when we realized she was ringing the bell when she wanted to go play outside.

She would play with a giant tug of war rope, she'd "dig" in her giant blanket and play keep away. She had a tiny stuffed giraffe that we called her baby. She couldn't sleep if the giraffe was in a different room and she was always trying to take it out to pee with her.

Mila came at the perfect time as my husband and I were both struggling with different issues. Mila taught me about love and about sacrifice and I'm sure she taught my husband some things too,

One morning we woke up and our electricity was off. I walked the dog and left Mike to sort it out. When Mila and I returned, I let her off the leash. Mike took me out into the hallway to show me the fuse box and to explain what had happened to the electricity (long story short on that one- we lived next to a divorced women whose drunk ex husband would show up late at night and bang forever on the door. We think he shut off our electric, thinking it was hers.)

During this process, Mila came and stood in the hallway with us.

And in the blink of an eye, she was down the stairs and out the door to the apartment building (Another long story short: our downstairs neighbor liked to go crank his car and then  go back inside to wait for it to warm up. He always left the apartment building door open in the meantime. Between me going up and Mila coming down, he'd gone out, started his car, came back in and left the door open)/

We searched, we papered, we called. We posted. We hiked around the river with her treats, her toys, her bells. My husband hiked with one of our flyers posted on his back.

We cried and we searched some more. Our dear Korean friend, Vanessa, drove us for hours around the city, around the river where we'd gotten a report of sighting.

A military friend reported that the security guards at her apartment complex had tried to catch a female husky but she was too fast. It had to be Mila.

And then Animal Rescue called Vanessa. They had received a call from someone who reported that their neighbor was keeping a husky locked in an outdoor closet. The man was famous for eating and selling big dogs for meat.

We went to his house with Vanessa and Animal Control. They yelled at each other.

He had another dirty, big dog chained up outside. The dog flinched whenever the man approached.

The man showed his empty closet. Vanessa translated that he did have Mila but that one day when he opened the closet door she bolted and he couldn't catch her.

My Mila. My sweet, smart Mila. I hope he was telling the truth. I hope she ran. I hope she ran and ran until someone kind found her and helped her. I hope someone with children found her and took her home. And that she has beautiful children to play with.-children who don't have  squeaky shoes.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Book Review: Everything is Possible by Jen Bricker

Wow! What an encouraging read.

Jen tells her story in her debut book, Everything is Possible. Jen's life is a living embodiment of Philippians 4:13. Born without legs, and abandoned by her birth parents Jen found a way, to not just survive but to thrive. Jen lives a very full life with Christ at it's foundation.

Jen doesn't think of herself as handicapped and has never let her missing limbs slow her down. In fact, she seems to prefer moving around without her prosthetics better than with them. Jen learned to play sports and drive just like any other child. Now, she's an aerialist who toured with Brittany Spears! Jen published a portion of her dream list inside the book and I believe she will accomplish it all. She lives fearlessly and tries to teach us how in her book.

I breezed through reading Everything is Possible because it was just like chatting with my best friend. It's tone is bubbly and conversational. It's easy to fly through, soaking in bits and pieces of Jen's story and  attitude as you go. Although it is an "easy read" it contains great "meat" and is a book I anticipate coming back to again and again and taking away new lessons each time-just like spending time with an old friend!

I'm truly thankful that Jen was inspired to write such a book and have followed her on Facebook to see what she does next!

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Book Review: Successful Women of the Bible by Katata Washington Patton

Successful Women of the Bible takes us through the lives of both well known and lesser known women in the Bible. It explores the lives of women like Miriam and Deborah as well Lois and Eunice and the values that can be derived out of their words and actions in order to teach us how to successfully live as biblical women.

I found this book really refreshing. It was approachable, not preachy. I liked how Patton told each woman's story, give each woman a modern "voice", explained the woman's story and the importance of her life and actions and then follows up with an "action plan" or "mission statement" for how we can try to live like the role models she discusses. I've read other books that venture to give Biblical characters fictionalized voices but push the limits of either belief or scriptural credibility and Patton's account does neither.

I think Successful Women of the Bible is a great jumping off point for a study focusing on women of the Bible. It's a book that encourages us to read God's Word and grow in Christ.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.