The Bridge Builder {Review and Giveaway}

I am fascinated hearing from people…about their lives, their travels…what makes them tick. I was very interested to read this book when I first heard about it! I looked around on social media a bit and came across the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews  YouTube channel. He talks about the moment he decided to do what he is doing, bringing Christians and Jews together. It was a very simple moment.

The book is called The Bridge Builder and it was written by Zef Chafets who is the bestselling author of fourteen books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary. He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and is a former columnist for the New York Daily News.

zev chafetsThis is an authorized biography of the life and continuing legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who is founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Israel. He has devoted more than 35 years to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews and broad support for the State of Israel. He is recognized as the world’s leading Jewish authority on evangelical Christians. Rabbi Eckstein received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination for Yeshiva University in New York. He holds master’s degrees from Yeshiva University and Columbia University, where he also completed studies for his doctorate. Rabbi Eckstein has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Sminary. He currently serves on the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

the bridge builder book coverThe International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and other shared concerns.  Their ministry’s vision is that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation.  Among the many things they do as an organization, they also create materials for teaching about the significance of connecting Israel and Christianity through such resources as A Woman of Valor: Celebrating The Proverbs 31 Women In Our Lives, A Man Of Faith: Reflections On Godly Leadership From The Ancient Shepherds Of Israel (both devotionals by Rabbi Eckstein), and Seven Fruits of Israel: Recipes And Devotions From The Holy Land (by Yael Eckstein).

The website is very informative. They even have a Hebrew word of the day! I love stuff like that! You know, us homeschooling parents are giddy about something new. :D

international fellowship of christians and jews

The book starts out in 1989 and continues the story of Rabbi Eckstein and his family, travels and works trying to bring two religions together. In the book are included photos that show a little about all of these things. It was a very interesting read! I will definitely be holding on to this book to read again in the future. It is nice reading about people wanting to fix things rather than tear them apart…

If this book seems interesting to you too, you are in luck! You can enter the contest below to win your own copy! :) If you enter but don’t end up winning, feel free to purchase your own here on Amazon!

The Bridge Builder {Review and Giveaway}

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
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Thursday Things

Another week is on the books!! That seemed fast…as usual!

I have been kind of frustrated today, so it is good for me to think about the things that were good about this week. ;)

Let’s get right on to this weeks Thursday Things shall we?

that's it fruit barFirst thing is this little bit of yumminess. I looked for the ingredients on this package and it is literally JUST apple and blueberries. I have tried the pear and apricot as well and it is the same thing! I didn’t realize they had strawberry, but if I find that, for sure I will buying it!

solarcaineNext up is this little guy. I got a sunburn from the pool and this stuff takes the edge off. I used to use the aloe from the actual plant when we were in AZ, but well, we don’t have that here, so this will have to do. It feels good for a little bit anyway… :)

private selection panko crumbs parmesan herbWe make baked chicken with bread crumbs and I always try to have these bread crumbs on hand. I haven’t gone to Kroger in ages…but was on my way home from the dentist the other day and knew we were planning on chicken this week so I picked some up. It has such good flavor and since they are Panko break crumbs, they are a little lighter than regular bread crumbs. :)

watermelon lemonade bath and body works soapOh goodness…this soap is the best smelling thing! I was on a Method brand of soap forever…and then their scents just started not appealing to me as much. I am still holding out hope that they will win me over with new scents again, but whatever. So, a few months ago I placed an order for a big ‘ol box of their soaps. From the internet it can be hit or miss on what it actually smells like in person, but I just clicked on the things that sounded good. I have been about 50/50 on the soaps so far, but this one was pretty dang good. I wish I had gotten more! I do need to order more soaps, but I know it is all about the fall now….which I really don’t mind either….hmm….

I know this is kind of old, but I found myself showing it to Ryan while he was waiting for Kyle to get his haircut. I love going on Smule and seeing the combinations of people singing together. That one guy with the high voice?? Dude… I just like this combo though.. ;)

So, that’s it for this week and yeah, I feel better thinking of good things from this week. :) Y’all should make sure you take time out at least once a week and think of all the good things! Let me know some of them, I like to know what makes other people happy…

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Hawk release

Around-NCThis past weekend I was happy to check my email and see that a local organization, CLAWS, was doing a hawk release. We had no plans, so Jeffy, Lauren and I took our Saturday morning to check it out! These are hawks that needed to grow, get healthy, or fix any other problems they  may have in order to be released.

They met at a park that was only 15 minutes away which was nice.. They started out talking a little about what they do, showing some of the birds that they use for educational purposes. This guy only had half a wing. But I think he liked my camera. :)

CLAWS hawkCLAWS hawk

Then we moved over to the dog park for the release. They had four hawks that were being released! I took photos of all four, but I figure I will just show some pictures from the first one. This one just wasn’t sure that it wanted to be released. It was fun to watch it being raised…and then lowered…raised…and then lowered…and then raised one more time.

CLAWS hawk release

CLAWS Hawk release

CLAWS Hawk releaseI don’t think anyone was ready for when it actually did take off! It was a wonderful sight to see though, it flying off…it went toward the trees that surround the park. Another hawk flew real low over the dog park and that was kind of funny too..the dogs were very interested!

All of the hawks ended up in the trees, probably just wanting to hang out and observe their surroundings a bit.

Now, even though hawks are things that we don’t like to see around our birds that we have…I still think it is wonderful that there are people out there that take their own time and resources to help these hawks. CLAWS deal with other animals too! All out of their home! They do educational shows around town too…I attended one previously and we learned plenty of new things!

They could always use donations, or, if you are local, there are some wants lists for some of the animals. Some are simple like nuts…or even baby rattles for raccoons! Check out their wish list here and see if you have any of these things to help them out! :)

If you are local in the general Durham/Chapel  Hill area, feel free to check them out! The show I went to was in Carborro and this hawk release was in Hillsborough. I am looking forward to keeping up on their facebook page for any more programs and/or releases!!

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Five Minute Friday

It’s Five Minute Friday time again! The word for this week is: FIND

If you are interested in joining in on FMF in the future, you can click here for more info or to read what other people wrote about the same word theme for this week. :)

<GO>

Do you ever have one of those days, or even weeks, where nothing seems to go right…you are busier than normal, you get sick, things just end up a little crazy? I would imagine we all do.

That was my week this week. My throat is on fire and that seems to double the feeling of everything else. AND…I was reading this book all month that was just reallllly hard to get through. I wasn’t going to give up on it, but…oh my word…

I was totally ready for the weekend. A day to get caught up, to not have to wake the kids up early for school (really, 8:30 isn’t all that early, but whatever) and to just veg if I want to. I like when Jeffy comes home on Fridays. We usually have a little somethin’ and just chat or do whatever, all calm like.

With my whole week being so messed up I just gave up on the weekend…I got a bad attitude and that is just not like me at all!!

This evening while doing the bird chores (because the birds don’t care if your throat hurts) I was scuffling about and saw something colorful in the dirt. It was a feather. From one of our peafowl.

peafowl feather

I only had my phone on my so I snapped a quick pic. But it was just nice, finding something like this in the middle of the dirt. My attitude changed, a smile came to my face and I was able to enjoy the rest of my evening. My throat still hurts, but you know what, that’s ok, I know it will get better soon enough. :)

<STOP>

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Thursday Things

Getting back into it y’all!

I do love remembering the good things about my weeks. That’s why I had started Thursday Things. I can still look back and see different products and things that were going on in my life, and I love that! Kind of like an extended version of Timehop! :D

So, let’s get into this weeks Thursday Things shall we?

college homeworkLast Friday I was able to get Ryan registered for two college courses. Talk about last minute..it was the last day to register! He was able to get into math and English for this semester. He can choose some other things next time as long as he gets a ‘C’ or better in both of these classes. He will have so many college credits by the time he is done with high school, that is so awesome that they offer this for high school kids. There are some tweaks to our schedule that has to be made, since he doesn’t have his drivers license, but it is all worth it! :)

balm chicky balm balmOk, I HAD to get to get this just because of the name. I mean….Balm Chicky balm balm?? Who cares if it is $8…sorry eos… ;)

Back to Nature Fudge Mint Cookies… Ahhh, these are so tasty! Much better than the kind that come out only certain times of the year. :ahem: Now, where can I stash these so that nobody eats them all before I do?

Burt’s Bees honey throat drops…Our family had been hit by a sore throat bug. It’s weird because that’s all it is, a sore throat. I think I am on a honey kick because I saw these in the store and thought they would be just what I was looking for. It took a little bit to get used to the flavor, but I think they are great! :)

If Still It Can’t Be Found by Joe Pug – I don’t know, I just keep listening to this song lately. It’s not hard on the ears and has nice lyrics I suppose…

Welp, that’s my Thursday Things! What have you enjoyed about this past week? :)

 

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I tried out Home Chef…

So, I know I have mentioned these recipe/food/meal box delivery services in the past. I have tried almost all that I have heard of! One of them had good food, but there is no way my family would eat any of it… Sensory family struggles.. There was another one that had great food…but not much selection and I found myself not wanting to order.

I heard of Home Chef and thought I would give it a try too. This isn’t a sponsored post, they didn’t give me anything for writing about them…this is just me passing along information. :)

home chef logoI decided to order a box. I loved the selections right away! There were things my family would eat AND you could choose from like twelve different things!! Everything I ever wanted…

Then, something strange happened. You know how you are looking around the internet at those new shoes that someone sent you a link to and then bam, you get ads for that same pair of shoes in your facebook feed? Yeahhhh, that’s what happened. A free box! Score!! I ordered it instantly!

I was so excited to get the box! I have mentioned this before, but when we get one of these boxes, there are usually three meals so I have each of the kids cook each meal. It works out so great.. They get experience in the kitchen, they get experience trying new foods and they aren’t playing video games! ;)

Day of delivery came…..and went. Apparently the delivery driver didn’t want to deal with the nasty construction on my street so he marked the package as undeliverable that day and scheduled it for the next day. Next day came….and nothing. And again. Apparently that time he didn’t feel it was safe to deliver the package. My thinking? He was afraid of the turkeys in the yard. I don’t know, maybe it was the bully ducks or our little rooster Chickie Bird. Anyway, it FINALLY got delivered on Saturday and everything was pretty warm. You know, fresh meat and all only lasts so long…

This whole time I was communicating with Home Chef’s customer service. They were amazing! They couldn’t believe what was happening either. I am happy that they could follow along with the delivery attempts so they would know I wasn’t lying, because a story like that, it was just so unbelievable…ha! They ended up letting me get another box on them since that box wasn’t useable.

Enter in our first real box!! We made the first dish and it was gone before I could even take a pic of it. It was so good… The other two meals were just as yummy but I made sure I told everyone to pause so I could get my pics… Those I think I posted on Instagram. But I thought I would take some better pics of our next box and share with you all! :) I am so happy I tried out Home Chef…

The first meal we cooked was Pan-seared Chicken Bruchetta with Heirloom Baby Tomatoes, Parmesan, and Microgreens. Ryan made this meal and he did great! It was very tasty! Here is what ours looked like! Looks yummy, right??

Home Chef Chicken Bruschetta

Our next meal was Teriyaki and Sriracha marinated Flat-Iron Stead with Wasabi Whipped Potatoes and Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms. Now I will have to say that I am open to trying a lot of foods, but I just couldn’t eat the mushrooms. I had all intentions to, but I just couldn’t. AND….there was no way I was going to add wasabi to perfectly good potatoes…ha! But, the meal was still lovely! :) The boys in the household were happy, you know, meat and potatoes and all. Kyle cooked this meal, steak is his favorite! Here is what that meal looked like!

Home Chef Teriyaki Sriracha steak

And finally it was Lauren’s turn! She was doing the Italian Pork Chop with Mozzarella Baked Tomatoes and Asparagus meal. This was pretty simple of a recipe, which was nice for her. These tomatoes? Oh my word, they were so good. I need to make them like that again! Why haven’t I made them like that before?? Anyway, here is how that meal turned out for us…

Home Chef Italian Pork ChopSeriously, I was so happy with this entire box! Ryan is ready to order one every week, ha! I don’t know if we can do that, although I would love to! I like that there are so many options to order from and that you have until Friday the week before to order. You can specify what dietary guidelines you would like to follow when you sign up. The recipe cards are big and three hole punched so that you can keep them in a binder! It tells you on one side what you need for the recipe and on the other side it breaks down nutrition info and mentions what drinks would pair well with each meal.

I found the service I will be using from now on and I am quite excited!! :) Have you tried Home Chef before? What was your favorite meal?

 

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Saturday Snippets

SaturdaySnippets

Woah… Saturday is almost over! Had a great time hanging out with friends for a bit today, I think we all needed that!! Three years of living here and not really knowing where I fit in and I think I found my people…lol.

I found some nifty things on the internet this week! Let me know what cool things you have found on the good ‘ol www recently! :)

1. There have been so many things running around my head lately. I try and put them into words and I just can’t seem to. This blog post has totally hit some of what I have been thinking. About kids and simplicity and saying no and having to say no. It is such a great read…

2. I saw this on facebook the other day and shared it with a friend that lived in AZ when I did. We are both in completely different states and a little out of our element, but she gets it. I think so many of my friends with older kids should read this blog post.

3. Arizona.. Nothing like it..

4. These photos just..make me want to go sit in a corner and hum to forget that I saw them…ha!

5. Some of these words could really be legit… I mean….

6. I am not a fan of roller coasters and I know I have seen a few new ones popping up here and there, but the first drop on this one pretty much guarantees that I won’t be going on it…

7. This was a little old as I remember first seeing it a while back, but it popped back up in my browsing so I thought I should include it. Yeah, sometimes it just helps knowing that people have bad days too. lol

8. I love cats. Especially silly cats.

9. This kid is pretty awesome. And fun to watch.

10. I love kids and I love art. Put them together and amazing things happen. :)

Ok, that was my Saturday Snippets for today! I hope you enjoyed a break from the real world for a bit!

 

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Five minute Friday

It has been a while since I have done a five minute Friday.. I figured today was a good day to do it since it marks a year since it has been hosted by someone new. Kate Motaung. I haven’t done it since she took it over…since it was hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker.

five minute friday

If you don’t know what five minute Friday is, you basically write for five minutes straight on the given theme. It changes every week. There is no overthinking the theme word. I usually look at the word at the last minute. There is no going back and fixing punctuation, changing what you wrote or any other editing. You just write for five minutes and hit publish. You can read more about it here.

This weeks theme is: here.

Starting my five minutes NOW:

It has been so frustrating lately reading anything on the internet. Sure, there has been some good stories… but a lot of it has been awful. People are treating each other so badly. Both physically and mentally. With words and with fists. Or worse. Mistreating animals, neighbors…kids.

Everyone feels so strongly on why they feel the way they do, but they don’t seem to want to listen to any other point of view. It is their way or nothing. It is showing as hate and it is ugly. It all comes out so ugly.. Words are said that cut like a knife…or a knife comes out and does even more damage.

Our world is in trouble. I know people see that. And there is no change, in fact I think it is just getting worse.

We need a change. We are all here. We can all do something. The more people that do something, the more that will help others do something. The something HAS to be good. Do Good! We are all here for such a short time… but we are all here. We can all do good.

STOP

Ok, well, that was five  minutes, kind of a bunch of nonsense, but there you go. I was a little frustrated at my internet, we have been having the worst time lately! Let me know if you join in with me on some Friday! I hope to do more of these as they help me just type away randomly. I need that every so often. :)

 

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What I read in July

Wellll, lookee here, it is already August! Crazy how that happens! And I haven’t blogged as much as I said I was going to. After this weekend, I am thinking life will get back to normal and I will be good to go again. :)

Since I am counting books that we read in school, I am thinking I should up my books read challenge number. Some of the books are pretty small. I enjoy them though! The boys are frustrated that they have had mostly girl main characters lately, but I think our next book that we are going to start on Monday has a boy in it…

Anyway, here is what I read in July and again, let me know any good titles of books! I haven’t gone to the big library much so I am dependent on the small library, but any titles are great!! :)

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Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel – Thirteen year old Callie is accused of bullying at school, but Rebecca knows the gentle girl she’s raised must be innocent. After Callie is exonerated, she begins to receive threatening notes from the girl who accused her, and as these notes become desperate, Rebecca feels compelled to intervene. As she tries to save this unbalanced girl, Rebecca remembers her own intense betrayals and best-friendships as a teenager, when her failure to understand those closest to her led to tragedy. She’ll do anything to make this story end differently. But Rebecca doesn’t understand what’s happening or who is truly a victim, and now Callie is in terrible danger.

This raw and beautiful story about the intensity of adolescent emotions and the complex identity of a teenage girl looks unflinchingly at how cruelty exists in all of us, and how our worst impulses can estrange us from ourselves – or even save us.

What I thought – This book was kind of hard to follow for me. And it was pretty depressing too. I don’t think this was a good month for me to read this book. It definitely didn’t go the way that I thought it would, which is interesting…

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Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison – Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.

The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.

So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

What I thought: I liked this book a lot! It had a great story line, although I think the general idea has been done often before…the characters were developed nicely. It was an overall enjoyable book!

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The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare – He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. –from the Song of David (2 Samuel 22:35)
The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel on page 224: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.

What I thought: Even though this book was one we read for school, I really enjoyed it! There was a great storyline and a lot of things happened that you didn’t expect. I totally recommend it!

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Lost and Found by Brooke Davis – Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam.

Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.

What I thought: I had no idea what was going on in this book half the time. It started out interesting, got a little crazy and then I got completely lost…and the ending was just a big ‘huh?’. Ah well…

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The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen – A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

What I thought: I am so glad the kids book club decided to read the next book in this series! We enjoyed the first book so much and this one was great too! Lauren said she heard the possibility of them turning it into a movie, I think that would be a great idea! I totally recommend this for kids and for adults who don’t mind a younger book. Great humor in the author’s writing!

The Sweetness of Life by Paulus Hochgatterer – A German bestseller, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature, and longlisted for the German Book Prize in 2006, Paulus Hochgatterer has created a chilling psychological thriller a group of damaged people living in a pleasant and seemingly tranquil Austrian village. It’s the Christmas holiday, the presents have been opened, and a six-year-old girl is drinking cocoa and playing with her grandfather. The doorbell rings, and the old man gets up. The next time the girl sees her grandfather, he is lying by the barn, his skull broken; his face a red pulp against the white snow. From that time on, she does not speak a single word.

Along with Detective Superintendent Ludwig Kovacs, Raffael Horn, the psychiatrist engaged to treat the silent child, reluctantly becomes involved in solving the murder. Their parallel researches sweep through the town: a young mother who believes her new-born child is the devil; a Benedictine monk who uses his iPod to drown the voices in his head; a high-spending teenager who tortures cats. With his background as a child psychiatrist, Hochgatterer draws back the veil of normality and presents a disconcerting portrait of a winter-held town filled with unsavory inhabitants.

What I thought: When characters switch around quickly in books, I have a hard time unless it is done the right way. I was pretty confused with these characters. Who was the cop, who was the psychiatrist…etc. It was a tough read as well as a lot of German words, so…that just made it difficult. And then the ending? I totally didn’t get it. I see where the story was going but….it’s just not my cup of tea in the way it was done..

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All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor – It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters – Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!

What I thought: This was another book we read for school. Obviously I think, lol. It was a cute story, or little scenes throughout a book I guess. I liked reading about life in simpler days. When kids would get excited for a penny. Cute book!

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I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda – he true story of an all-American girl and a boy from an impoverished city in Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. All the other kids picked countries like France or Germany, but when Caitlin saw Zimbabwe written on the board, it sounded like the most exotic place she had ever heard of–so she chose it.
Martin was lucky to even receive a pen pal letter. There were only ten letters, and forty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through letters. Their story will inspire readers to look beyond their own lives and wonder about the world at large and their place in it.

What I thought: Ohh how I loved this book. When I first saw that it was about penpals, that totally got me. I was curious how they were going to do it. The story line was great. I read this book very quickly because I wanted to see how it ended. I love that it is a true story and there are photos in the book as well! Fascinating.

Well, that’s it for this month! I am glad that it ended on a good note, I am reading a book now that is pretty difficult, hopefully it doesn’t take me all month to read it, lol.

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Chicken and Pasta with Nello’s Marinara sauce

Yay, a normal post from me again! I am feeling healthier and am also done traveling and all of our visiting guests have gone home so I should be back to a normal blogging schedule again! :)

First up is a yummy meal we had a while back that I could never blog before! Ohh, I have quite a few posts that I need to get caught up on you guys…lol.

This is a Chicken and Pasta with Nello’s Marinara sauce. Remember I am a Nello’s Sauce Mombassador, so I am having fun with trying new recipes and sharing some of my old time favorites… This was a new recipe for me! I was in the mood for chicken parmesan, but it was kind of late to start making that, what with all of the breading and such…So I came up with just a chicken and pasta dish.

Here is the sauce I used for this meal..the original marinara.

NellosMarinara

And you guys…since I haven’t been able to blog lately, I have to update you! Next month they are coming out with a Biodynamic Marinara Sauce!! It is a first in the history of U.S. Agriculture and it is grown and crafted right here in NC! Woohoo!! I am looking forward to trying that one!!

Anyway, back to the recipe..

  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into two inch cubes
  • Nello’s Marinara Sauce
  • 8 ounces pasta(I used shells, because Jeffy likes those best)
  • 18 cup parmesan cheese

Now, you can add herbs and seasonings if you’d like…but I really love the flavor of the Nello’s sauce and have found that I really don’t need to add anything to it. I do like a little garlic though, when cooking chicken.

In a skillet, heat olive oil, making sure it isn’t too hot. Don’t want it to burn! Ew. Add the garlic and saute’ until golden brown, just a few minutes, it doesn’t take long. Add the chicken and cook thoroughly, maybe ten minutes or so. Add the marinara sauce and simmer.

While that is simmering, cook the pasta to the package directions. Drain pasta..do I even have to say that, really though?  :)

Now, you can either put some pasta down and scoop up the chicken/sauce mixture and put that on top…..or you could mix the whole pot of pasta in with the chicken/sauce mixture and just serve it all up together. It is up to you! I mixed mine all up together.

Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and you are good to go! My boys all love bread…so there is always bread with our meals, and with pasta even more so…

Here is what it looked like when it was done! A yummy fast meal!

NellosChickenPasta

Now, for my Arizona family and friends, I don’t see Nello’s in your area, but I am hoping that they will be there soon! I see them in NM and Las Vegas, so…..we will see! :) I am telling you, it is worth the wait, it is so flavorful!

 

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