Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: Brave Beauty

When the publisher offered me the chance to review Brave Beauty, Finding the FearlessYou 
by Lynn Cowell, I jumped. 

This is a lovely hard backed devotional for girls. Each devotional is just a few pages long, and ends with reflective questions, quizzes and prayers. I love the modeling of confident real prayers in the section they call Courageous Call. The devotions use engaging real life stories, Bible verses and Bible stories to help our girls grow into brave, courageous young women. 

There are three main sections: I am Loved, I am Brave and I am Confident. Those are broken up as well with four devotions in every subsection. There is a regular topical index in the back, but I love that the Table of Contents was also written so clearly with the themes of each devotional so that it becomes quick guide to finding something to speak to a specific struggle. 

I'm excited to hand this over to my (almost) ten year old daughter. I remember being excited for a new devotional as a young girl that would speak to my needs in that stage of life and I think this will definitely do that for her. I'd recommend it to young girls entering the Tween phase. 

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review: the NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible

I was lucky enough to be offerered a review copy of a the NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible.  This is a beautiful Bible I can't wait to pass on to one of my children.  

This is a beautiful hardcover book with an attached ribbon bookmark and beautiful colorful pages.  The Bible text is in one column per page and along the outside edge of each page, is a colorful strip where extra notes are found near the relevant verses.  I love this part, they are so easy for the young readers to find more information on the culture. There are maps, photos, illustrations and explanations. Each book begins with a simple, easy to read chart explaining information such as author, why it was written, what happpens, what we learn about God, key people, etc.  These are simple 1 to 2 sentence descriptions, not long overwhelming paragraphs like some Bibles. Perfect for young readers. There is a simple table of context, alphabetical list of books and a short preface (aimed more at the adult reader detailing the translation) in the front, and then it jumps right into the book of Genesis. In the back are colorful maps and a simple index. 

Here's the publishers description: 
The NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible, for ages 8-12, brings the Bible to life in four-color illustrated splendor. This study Bible includes a spectacular full-color interior featuring over 700 illustrations, photos, infographics, and maps on every page that visually represent key Bible information. Each page also features important facts located near the relevant verse. Intriguing facts; colorful, engaging maps; photographs; and illustrations make this a Bible they'll want to explore.

Features:: Over 700 four-color photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps throughout:: Full-color design:: Book introductions, including important facts and an image to orient the reader:: One-column format with side bar study notes for ease of reading:: The complete text of the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible:: Beautiful cover featuring gloss 
I would recommend this Bible to any young reader.  It's a perfect first full Bible.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pattern testing and RELEASE! Escapade by 5 out of 4

I had the chance to test again for one of my favorite pattern companies, 5 out of 4 Patterns. I love these patterns so much, Jessica designs patterns that are excellent for active moms to wear everyday or to dress up!

This pattern is an excellent staple for summer, the Escapade Top and Dress. It can be a bra, bikini, top, summer dress, swim top, swim dress... So many things!

I tested the dress and the top options. 5 out of 4 patterns are always easy to follow, with great links to help you hop right to the options you need. You can print only the sizes you need and my favorite part, NO TRIMMING necessary!! They go together so quickly and easily.

My dress is super comfortable for summer heat, I'm anxious for it to warm up!  I prefer skirts and dresses in the summer (rather than shorts) so this is perfect!

I also was able to test a swim top. A swim dress has always been at the top of my list for swimsuits, so I was planning to try one out for my final test. As I was rummaging through my swim stash I found a swim bottom I had never made a top for!  This is a perfect swim top pattern.

I will say that this suit is a perfect example of why the tutorial says DO NOT STRETCH YOUR FABRIC! You can see how it ripples below the bust. Lesson learned.

This is a very comfortable top and dress and I look forward to wearing it this summer! I may even wear it around when I'm not swimming!

Straps are another area that is versatile with this pattern. My suit I left as a halter, the dress I took down into a V (sorry, no pics...). You can also take them straight like traditional spaghetti straps or cross them.

I'm looking forward to playing more with this pattern! I have not tried using the optional bra cups, though I think I'll try those soon!  I'd love to sew my own bras!

(Links included in this pattern are my afiliate links!)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: The Artist's Daughter

The Artist's Daughter: A MemoirThe Artist's Daughter: A Memoir by Alexandra Kuykendall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the memoir of Alexandra Kuykendall, mother of four girls on staff at MOPS International. This follows her journey living abroad with her single mother, eventually meeting her Spanish father, meeting her future husband, and having her girls, all the while dealing with her feelings about her absent father. This is a really sweet book, I enjoyed reading her story. I especially identified as she struggled in her mothering to respond the way she wanted to rather than instinctively in a negative way. I loved her story of praying "change me", rather than "change my kids" or "change my husband". This is a great read for a mother or anyone else who enjoys a gentle memoir of love. I did hope for a little more at the end, it seemed a bit anticlimactic, I wished for a little more to this or all together. It was a lovely story.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

DVD Review from FishFlix!

The people from reached out to me and offered to send me a DVD to try out. Have you heard of FishFlix? It is a great online store of Christian Movies, DVD's's and Blu-ray discs and is full of great films for kids, families and adults. I browsed around a bit on their site and found lots of options including the "What's In the Bible" series for kids, God's Not Dead, and all kinds of other movies. There's a whole section of love and romance movies, a great kids section, a lot of movies on biblical characters, and wholesome family shows like Little House on the Prairie. If you are looking to bring Bible based, and family friendly entertainment into your home, this is a great way to do it! The pricing is competitive and there is a great selection.

We were lucky to review "Theo, Teaching Children God's Word." My kids enjoyed this story which is split into 3 lessons on saving faith, loving obedience and forgiveness. The teaching and story are told by Theo, an elderly gentleman and illustrated by his humorous mouse friends. He tells a bible story to help teach the concept. The animations are well done and colorful. My kids really enjoyed it. I love that they are entertained by something that is teaching them solid biblical truths! 

There is a whole series of these and you can see them here on Several of the dvds are only $5! The remaining ones are $7.97, or you can buy the whole set for $31.99!

I received this free DVD for my family in exchange for an honest review. You can find Theo DVD  and hundreds of other Christian Movies at

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Review: Better Than Before

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday LivesBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book. The author works through what she calls the four tendencies, or types of people with regards to habits. She describes each and includes lots of examples to help the reader discern which they are. There is also a chapter on distinctions that further separate different types of people within the tendency framework and discusses other ways people are different. For example morning person (lark, according to her terminology) or night "owl". Marathoner, Sprinter or Procrastinator? There are others, and she maintains and gives examples to support the theory that these further disctinctions shape the way we state and pursue our habits. She then steps into different strategies to establish or change habits, for example, monitoring the habit, or accountability. There are some interesting strategies that make sense as you read them, but I doubt I could have come up with!

So overall, I feel like with some time spent on introspection, this book could be helpful in choosing and following through on new habits. I enjoyed the book, but would definitely need to read it again and do some homework in order to really implement it well. It was easy to read, and engaging, but my style is not to deep dive on the first read, especially when I'm trying to read quickly (for a review.... ahem). I'd suggest reading through the tendencies and further distinctions and doing some journalling or thinking and applying that information, and then maybe identifying a few potential habit areas before jumping into the next section and figuring out how to best implement them.

I do wish she had maybe added a chapter to guide one through the process, but perhaps that will be so different for each reader that it isn't possible. I think this is an interesting concept and could be a helpful book to read and keep around.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trim Healthy Mama Plan

After receiving and reviewing the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook and seeing the delicious looking recipes, I quickly snagged up a copy of the Trim Healthy Mama Plan.  The introduction of this book is so refreshing. It seems that most diets completely box you into certain rules, do eats and don't eats and are so frustrating to comply with. I love that the THM program is more of a lifestyle theory. The writing style is so easy to read and down to earth.  The authors are open and honest about the flexibility in the plan, for example, with regards to whole foods vs. convenience foods. I LOVE that they say "you don't have to get this down perfectly on your first day." It takes so much of the stress out of learning and starting a new program.

This guide is very complete and clear. The writing is so easy to read. Pearl and Serena write as though they are having a conversation with a good friend.  There is a bit of advertising in it for Trim Healthy Mama products, though what I very much appreciated was that the offer of their own products was always quickly balanced by the statement that you do not need to buy their products to be on plan. You can find these things in other stores as well, they offer their line as a convenience as they control the quality of the products.

The book addresses many different types who may be interested in the plan, pregnant and nursing mamas, men, working moms etc, and discusses how they might implement the plan differently. The plan stresses that the plan will work differently for each person and while offering suggestions and sample meal plans, they strongly encourage each person to make it their own.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to lose weight or even just feel better and be healthier. Its a big book, but is very easy and enjoyable to read.  I plan on trying this plan to see how it works for me!

Update 3/11/2016:  Just a quick update, I am really loving this plan. I love that there is such a variety of things you can have including sweets and shakes!  I don't feel deprived at all, if my family is having pancakes, I can whip up a single serving for myself with a plan approved recipe, or throw together a muffin in a mug recipe that tastes like a sneaky treat!  The shake recipes are delicious and I love having those quick recipes to for a quick breakfast or snack on the go. I have not bought a lot of the specialty ingredients, and there are still a lot of recipes you can use just with the things from the grocery store.  And if your budget doesn't even allow for those, you can still do the plan with very basic things. I have lost about 20 pounds so far in about 2 months. I'm sure it all won't drop this fast but it is so motivating to see the scale drop!

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.