Friday, April 24, 2015

The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook {Review}

The following is a guest review from my husband.

This is one impressive book. I highly recommend The River Cottage Curing & Smoking Handbook for anyone even remotely interested in curing and smoking. This is a small book but it is packed with a wealth of knowledge. 

This book would be all you need to get started in smoking and curing meats and would be a valuable resource for the pro. They break down the process into all of its steps, ingredients and equipment and explain in detail why things are done a certain way. 

There is a write up on the different types of salt that can be used explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each. There are tables giving quick reference on subjects like smoke favors imparted by different woods, cured products and where they come from, rub flavoring, marinade flavoring and brine concentrations. There are plenty of recipes and descriptive photos that make the process clear and easy to follow. 

This book even packs in a section on butchering, teaching techniques required to complete the recipes contained in the book. I was so impressed with this book I will probably get others from River Cottage.
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  • Disclaimer: This book was provided by Blogging For Books. All opinions stated here are my own or from my family.

My Aunt's Ravensbruck Release: 70 Years Ago Today

 70 years ago today, my Great-Aunt, Clarin Smeenk was liberated from the Holocaust camp, Ravensbruck by the Swedish Red Cross. She was there for over seven months before her rescue. My Aunt was not a Jew, but helped hide Jews on her farm during the war. No person should ever be forced to endure the terror, hunger and torture that occurred in these camps. I was fortunate enough to meet my Aunt when I was eleven years old while visiting her home in Holland. At that age I wasn't ready to hear of the events of times past and she wasn't ready to share. But, years later she did open up to others so that the younger generations would not be ignorant of what happened.

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp  

Parents. Let us not be ignorant of Europe's recent past. Soon, those who experienced this tragedy will no longer be with us. It is up to us, the next generation to be vigilant, alert and aware. 

Kent Hovind has been trying to warn us about some the warning signs of an unhealthy government that can lead to terrible, sinister acts such as the murder of so many in the Holocaust. One of these signs is the belief of evolution. Did you know that Jeffery Daumer, a well-known serial killer and cannibal in the early 90's admitted that one of the main reasons he acted the way he did was because of the theory of evolution? He knew not of a God in which he was accountable and acted as an animal, which is what he was taught he was through the religion of evolution. 

Hitler was trying to give evolution a push, a head start and thought he was doing the process a favor in killing off the Jewish people. We cannot be ignorant of these lies infiltrating our society and need to stand firm against them. 

Today, I honor my Aunt and hope her experiences are not forgotten so that the next generation can be aware of the signs of the times.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hallmark's When Calls the Heart: Review, Giveaway and INTERVIEW Highlights w/ Erin Krakow

Have you seen the Hallmark Channel's Original Series, When Calls the Heart? Well, if you missed Season One, be sure to tune in THIS SATURDAY April 25th at 8/7c to check out the 2 Hour Season Premiere! I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of this premiere and it's not one you want to miss! Even though I have not yet seen Season One, I didn't feel like I was lost or confused watching the premiere of Season Two. They gave a great recap and it was easy to jump right in and fall in love with the characters. 


As a blogger with Flyby Promotions, I was able to be a part of a LIVE phone interview with actress Erin Krakow who plays Elizabeth in When Calls the Heart. It was a tremendous blessing to be a part of this interview with Erin and other bloggers! 

She certainly sounded as sweet and kind as the character that she plays on the show. She certainly is quite likable. When asked if she thought there were are similarities between herself and the character she plays, she said she hoped so! Both are driven, passionate and followed their dreams. Both appreciate the great outdoors and learning new things. Even though Erin didn't grow up in a large mansion as Elizabeth did, she did have a time adjusting from moving from Florida to New York City to pursue her acting career in college. She saw the similarity here in moving to a new place as Elizabeth had to when she moved from her wealthy home to Coal Valley. 

When asked why she took the part of Elizabeth, she simply answered, "They offered it to me and I said yes." She continued to share that she looked forward to having the chance to play in a world different than her own and working with kids. It was one of the best decisions she has ever made! The most rewarding aspect of working on the set of When Calls the Heart has been seeing how the fans have responded to the show. Since this is a family-friendly show that parents can share with their tween and teenage girls, she hopes that young ladies will take away from the show how to lead with kindness, follow your dreams and not to let fear guide you. 

This series is based on the book series by Janette Oke. Erin was able to meet the author last season. Janette Oke came and visited set and made everyone in the room feel important and special. She went around to every one of the children there and made sure to say hello to each one!

What I gathered from this interview is that Erin Krakow has a sweet spirit and a soft spot in her heart for children! The Hallmark Channel Premiere on Saturday that she stars in shows a kind and generous Elizabeth, a character that Erin fits into very well. Watch this weekend and see what happens to the widows of Coal Valley who lost their husbands to a terrible mining accident. There are plenty of surprises, twists and turns and of course, romance!

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Hands-On Fun!

Have you ever heard of a Maker Faire? I hadn't, until this weekend when Martinsville held it's 2nd Annual Mini Maker Faire at The Artisan Center

If you or your kids like science, then you need to go to the Maker Faire website and see if and when a faire will be in your area! We went this past weekend and let me tell you, none of us were bored. 

The faire is certainly great for kids but it's not just for kids, adults are encouraged to experience the hands-on activities as well. From soldering your own light-up robot pin to making your own tee-shirt, adults were involved as much as the kids were!

The 3D printer certainly caught my eye. Ever since I heard about this revolutionary technology it had intrigued me but I had never seen one in action before! It was pretty amazing. Although, it does concern me that the good old-fashioned artist may be put out of business now that a computer can do all the work, it still was interesting to see how far we have come in technology.

Below, is another 3D creator, a 3D doodler. This is crazy! My son is holding what looks like a simple glue gun but in reality melts plastic onto paper into any shape you desire. You are creating a 3D creation, with a pen, it's pretty wild. He worked on this for quite a while and his finished product was a cool boot!

My other son, over here is creating his own slime. 
Simple, easy and fun!

Inside the STEM lab there were several activities that you could partake in, depending on your age. My four year old worked on a computer puzzle and my two boys put together a solar powered car. I was able to play around with a computer attachment that you could hold up to anything, the fibers on your clothes, hair, anything and you could see what it looked like up close.

All kinds of activities were provided, including making your own NAME magnet out of old computer keyboard pieces.  

My daughter loved making  her own hex bug out of a toothbrush and wires. Let the races begin!

 My husband hung out at the wood turner's demonstration for most of the day while the kids and I spent time at each booth experimenting and learning. Again, if you haven't experienced a Maker's Faire before, I don't think anyone in your family would be disappointed!

Oh, and the best part: IT'S FREE!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Little Bunny's Bible (Review)

Little Bunny's Bible by PJ Lyons is an adorable little book for young readers! When I first saw this book, I fell in love with the packaging. It comes in a plastic little pouch showcasing the sweet, soft, bunny. It appears to be perfect to give as a gift. So that is what I did! It worked great for a baby's first Easter gift. The cover is so creative, soft and fluffy with the lettering on the front that says, Little Bunny's Bible. My one concern is the fact that the words are an iron-on and I wonder if they will wear off over time. Other than that this book is sturdy for little readers! I was surprised how few pages were in this book considering it is labeled a Bible. But, there are a handful of Bible stories such as The Creation and Noah with colorful pictures that little ones will enjoy time and time again!

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the Book Look Bloggers program. 
All opinions stated here are my own.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen (Review)

The following is a Blogging for Books book review from my husband.

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson is a must have in any baker's kitchen. I ordered this book hoping her recipes used in The American Baking Competition, especially her chocolate bacon peanut butter pie, were in here. To my great joy they all were. I like to look through cookbooks for ideas but rarely do I ever sit and read a cookbook for enjoyment. This book is more than just a cookbook. Beside all of the creative mouth-watering recipes from the show she offers many other decadent originals, old family favorites and plenty of entertaining stories of her life. If you are on a diet or ever want to be you should not buy this book. However if you want to treat yourself and loved ones to desserts that add inches to your waist by merely smelling them this is the book for you. In my opinion this book is a necessity were ever a sweet tooth resides.

Disclaimer: This book was provided as part of the Blogging for Books program.
 All opinions stated here are either my own or those of my family.

Precious Moments: God Watches Over Me (Review)

This sweet little Precious Moments book is filled with poems and Scriptures for young readers. Precious Moments: God Watches Over Me is a board book with a thick soft cover. 

At first glance I thought this would make a great gift for my infant nephew but once I looked through it I realized it is geared more towards pre-school aged children. Some of the poem topics include going to school, swimming and pets. All of these topics relate more to pre-school or young school aged children. The pictures also are geared more towards young girls so instead of giving this to my nephew this was a perfect gift for my pre-school aged daughter! She loves it!

Each page includes a sweet, short, poem with a Scripture at the bottom of the page. Then, of course are adorable Precious Moments images that coincide with each poem. One near the verse and then the opposite page is a full color picture that is eye-catching for young readers!  

The book begins by sharing that God will never leave you or forsake you. It continues on with different prayers for activities that your child may encounter throughout their day. It then ends with a kid's version of the Lord's prayer. I would highly recommend this book as a gift for any pre-school young girl!

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the Book Look Bloggers program. All opinions stated here are my own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Backyard Water Rocket


 The kids had a Homeschool Science Fair this week and it took forever to figure out what they should do! Finally, we settled on doing one single project instead of three, which was a good choice, I might add! All three of them were able to partake in the experiment and even shared a little about what they learned in front of other homeschoolers. Even my youngest wasn't afraid to share in front of everyone! Their experiment was seeing if the amount of water in a water rocket would change the height of the rocket launch.

Hypothosis: The least amount of water will launch the rocket the highest.

We launched the rocket nine times. First we started out with eight cups and then decreased each launch by a cup of water until we launched it will no water at all! The rocket did in fact work with just air and no water but the highest height was indeed only one cup of water!

Step 1:
Build Your Rocket Launch Pad

Step 2: 
Have plenty of water on hand

Step 3:
Fill a 2-liter bottle with water.

Step 4:
Using a bike pump, fill bottle with 100 lbs of pressure. 

 Step 5:
Pull cord to release bottle. 

 Step 6:
Watch it go!