Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book review: Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

I have a friend who lost quite a bit of weight using the Trim Healthy Mama plan. And I have not lost the baby weight after baby four... So when I saw the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook as an option for a book to review, I snatched it up!  It has not disappointed either!

  This copy is a paper back, but it has such a quality feeling to it! The cover is sturdy with a matte feel and the binding has blue strips with a different texture on it that just feel great when you hold it.  This is not some scrawny cookbook either! It is over an inch thick, with 511 pages! Flipping through, you notice that the pictures are beautiful.  Not every recipe has one, but they are quite liberally scattered through out the book, both full page photos and inset ones. If I had to guess, I'd say that well over three quarters of the recipes have a photo with them. If you had handed me this book without showing me the cover, I'd never have guessed it is a cookbook for weight loss!

The book is nicely broken up into one-pot meals, hearty mains and sides,  sunrise eats, sweet treats, beverages, and all things smooth and crunchy. It includes crockpot meals, skillet meals, soups, salads. Each main category has several subcategories and many include both family size meals and single portions. The crockpot section has instructions to prep "from freezer to crock" which I LOVE. This is my favorite way to freezer cook. I think my first to try out of this section will be the Cilantro Lime-burst Chicken Thighs. Cilantro and lime are my absolute favorites! Scattered through with explanations of why they are healthy, or chats about the recipe's origin or a little story about the author's family.  There are so many recipes I want to try immediately. How about cashew chicken or Blackened Chicken With Mango and Black Beans? Chicken Alfredo or Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup? I feel like I'm gaining weight just looking at this book! Pancakes, waffles, french toast?! Donuts?! I feel like this may be an easy plan to give a go...

The authors also include a section of Sweet Treats! Volcano Mud Slide Muffin, anyone? Again they include single serving sweets as well as family sized ones. Now these desserts look amazing, and I have to keep asking myself... "in a diet book?" When you look closely at the ingredients however, you'll  notice that they aren't your typical ingredients.  Things like coconut milk and coconut flour, flax, and sweetner help make these desserts a bit healthier. 120 pages of sweetness people.  Cheesecake! Ice cream, creamsicles, ice cream sandwiches.  This book is LOADED. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?  Found my favorite section...which may just be why I've not lost the baby weight...

Another favorite section is the Beverages!  It has options for healthy all day sippers, like Good Girl Moonshine (it gets its kick from apple cider vinegar!), a Singing Canary (tumeric!), Pumpkin or Apple Pie Sip. A whole section on shakes and smoothies... sigh. Key lime. Strawberry cheesecake. How am I supposed to lose the weight again? Frappacinnos! And then there's the hot drinks... Ginger Cream Trimmy...Chai Trimmy...Salted Caramel Creamy Oolong. There are cold drinks as well, like Iced Tea, Iced Coffee and Root Beer Float.

The last section is snacks like Swiss Crackers, Crunch Puffs, and Apple Dip. There are also quite a few dressings, as well as jelly, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup and ketchup.

Wow.  I feel I talk way too much about cookbooks, but man, I wanted to list tons more recipes! As a cookbook, I'd say this is a must if you are already trying out the Trim Healthy Mama plan. Even if you have no interest in losing weight and just want to have a great cookbook filled with some really amazing recipes filled with healthy, nourishing ingredients, it would be great for you!

Now, with regards to the plan. This book does not give you a whole lot of information about the plan, but suggests that one read the companion book. They do say that there are no "Spartan diet foods" because "Food Freedom is our mantra!"  They say that many of the sweets work great for breakfast (yay!). And most of the recipes are quick and easy (Yay, yay!). They share that you will learn to "tune in to your own hunger and full signals". And as I said, they do very much recommend their companion book Trim Healthy Mama Plan for the complete explanation behind the plan to help you be successfull. There is a very short explanation in the back of the different types of meals and suggested foods, but I still think it would be difficult to follow the plan only based on this information. I have to tell you, after seeing the recipes in this book, I'm off to find a copy of the THM plan! 

There is also a very nice section in the front that goes over the items that are helpful to have in your kitchen, and some of the newer, different ingredients in the book. What I love about these authors is that they don't set out to make you revamp your kitchen or spend a lot of money at the kitchen store on new appliances.  They will tell you what is helpful, but they will also tell you if it is necessary and whether its a big deal to go for the fancy expensive model or the yard sale special!  Similarly with the ingredients, they detail the ingredient, the healthy benefits and where you can find them (some items are found in their Trim Healthy Mama store, but most are available and most local stores as well), but they'll also tell you what you can substitute. I appreciated that this wasn't a cookbook written to sell their products or tools. The authors seem to genuinely want you the reader to be successful in this plan, regardless of your access to the specialized ingredients.

So in summary, if you love the Trim Healthy Mama plan already, then I'd definitely tell you to pick this book up.  But even if you've never heard of it, or you don't need to lose weight but just want to be healthy, full of energy and choose better ingredients, then it's for you too!

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review: Ragamuffin Gospel

"Many of us believe in grace, yet we live as if we still have to earn God's love."

I've heard about this book since college and never got a hole of a copy until now.  This book is a must read for all. Brennan Manning reminds us that we all come to God as ragamuffins.  There's no scale, some aren't better than others. We are all ragamuffins , yet He loves us and shows us His love.

In full disclosure, I am only about half way through. I sit down to try to buzz through it for review purposes, and find myself unable to. There is so much good Godly truth in each page, I want to savor and enjoy and let it marinate.  Growing up in the church, its hard not to try to do it on my own. This book is a beautiful reminder that what I do doesn't matter at all.  I can't ever be good enough. Praise God that He accepts me as I am, and loves me.

Definitely recommend this book to all who want to know more about the freedom of God's grace.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: Forgiven, The Amish School Shooting, a Mother's Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace

Forgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable GraceForgiven: The Amish School Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace by Terri Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

T his book... Wow. I thought when I chose this book to review that it would be difficult to read. I spent probably 90% of my reading time in tears. This book is authored by Terri Roberts, the mother of the man who shot ten girls in an Amish school house and then shot himself. I grew up and still live (after a few detours) in another area in Pennsylvania with a large Amish population and I remember when this happened. We were shocked. Having grown up seeing the Amish daily, I couldn't imagine why anyone would choose to do this to them, and especially to a schoolhouse full of children. Also difficult was hearing that several of the girls shot were 7 years old: the age of my own oldest daughter now. So this part of the author's story definitely brought me to tears, the horror of the experience. But what also brought me to tears repeatedly were the expressions of grace brought to life. I remember hearing about the gracious response of the Amish population in Lancaster, but this book just brings it so vividly alive. It is amazing what a representation of Christ's grace these Amish families, the same Amish families who lost daughters, or watched their daughters suffer as the recuperated, or continue caring for daughters to this day who may never walk or talk or be as they were, what grace they extended to the author and her husband as well as the perpetrator's wife and children. I don't know that it ever crossed my mind, even once, how his parents would feel knowing what their son had done. She writes this story so transparently and beautifully. She shares her struggles of being a mother of faith who prayed fervently for her sons almost every single day of their lives and her anger at God for not stepping in and answering her prayers and changing the story. This story is full of grace, forgiveness, healing and God's love. If you have struggled with your circumstances, please pick up this book. It spoke to me as a mom of a boy born without part of his brain, who is severely developmentally delayed. It spoke to me as a mom who gets frustrated with her children and struggles with showing grace. No matter what your situation, this book is excellent and moving and beautiful.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Testing! Women's Ascent Pullover

I finally sewed something for myself!  

I was lucky to test the women's Ascent Pullover by 5 Out Of 4 Designs! I love that these are great versatile everyday patterns. My absolute favorite part of her patterns is that she takes the time to make them nursing friendly!  
Sorry, this one was a quick kid shot for a fit picture!

The only downside is that I'm finishing up nursing my last baby of 4... where were these patterns when I started?!  This is an awesome pattern for a nursing mama in the fall! You can make this pullover all one solid color, or add contrast panels like mine. The sleeves can also have the contrast panels, but as I ran out of the butterfly so I just added piping instead.
You can see the tab for the hidden nursing zipper above the pocket! 

The pattern also includes the option for these great hidden zippered pockets.  The pattern directions and line drawings are clear and helpful and the designer always adds helpful hyperlinks to help you jump quickly to the options in the pattern that you need without wasting time flipping through pages.  Another favorite thing is the no trim pages!  The patterns are so quick to put together since you don't waste time cutting off strips. The PDF sizes are also layered so you can only print the sizes you need. 
This pattern is great with just plain, cheap antipill or blizzard fleece (which is what mine is) or you can make it with microfleece, french terry or other snuggly fabrics.  One tester made one with cotton lycra (sized down) for a super cute top.  I think you could easily add a full length zipper for a great fleece jacket.  Tons of options and a great layering piece for fall and winter! 

Make sure you check out 5 Out Of 4 Patterns for this and other great patterns for the whole family. She already has the men's version for sale, and a kid pattern is in the works.   I LOVE her work out top, the Agility Tank and Dress, which I used to make a nursing swimsuit which was amazing to have during our week at the beach! 
Please don't laugh too hard at my swimsuit and jeans look... I was comfy. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book review: Murder Freshly Baked

Murder Freshly BakedMurder Freshly Baked by Vannetta Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another fun, simple, clean mystery. I enjoy this series more than other Amish books I have read. The main character is Amber, who runs the tourist town, and her friends including Tate, her husband, Pam her assistant, and  her Amish coworker Hannah help solve the mystery of the murder of a young man from the community, as well as the "Poison Poet" who has been leaving pies along with poems about the poisons that are supposedly  lacing the baked goods. I think I have said about the first book, and I feel the same way about this one: these books are not for deep thinkers, they aren't going to change your life. They are easy to read, fun clean mysteries. Entertaining and enjoyable (And recommended) if that is what you are looking for!

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

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Samantha Sanderson, Off the Record

Samantha Sanderson Off the Record is another addition to the Faithgirlz series. This is the third book in the Samantha Sanderson books about a middle school girl who wants to be an investigative journalist. 

This is an entertaining mystery for young readers as Samantha tries to find out who installed a virus that changed grades in the school's system.  Along the way, she struggles with following the Bible's directive to love you neighbor, which she chose as a New Year's resolution at the encouragement of her youth leaders.  

It's great to have clean faith based books for my daughter to read without having to worry about what themes or values she's learning from them.  The main character Sam and her friend Macayla have lots of fun together and and strong and savvy girls, without all the typical middle school drama.  

I really enjoy reading kids' books and young adult books, however this is one that is aimed a little too young for adult readers to enjoy.  It is however great for younger kids, and I can definitely see my 7 year old advanced reading daughter enjoying this book and this series!  Recommended as a good, faith based, entertaining mystery for young girls. 

I recieved a copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: The Hiding Place

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is such an excellent book. I enjoy reading historical fiction, especially about the holocaust. This is one of the best in terms of how Corrie's and Betsey's faith colors their time in the camps. For those who aren't familiar with Corrie Ten Boom's story, it begins before the war has reached Holland and tells the story of the family's faith and how it is shown in all aspects of their lives. As e story progresses, effects of the war begin trickling down. For example, their business contacts in Germany become "out of business" and all of them are Jewish. As time goes on, Holland is taken by the Nazis and the family puts their faith into action by become part of the underground which hides the Jews.

I loved this beginning part, getting a peek into Corrie's lovely family and her life before the war. However, for me, the best part of the story begins when members of the family are taken into custody and sent into the camps. Most books on the Holocaust are so interesting to read, yet leave your heart aching at all the injustice and hate the Jewish people, and other minorities, endured. This book tells of Corrie and Betsey's amazing faith in God and how that affected their time in the camps. Corrie struggles at times, but ultimately follows her sister's example and they become such a light for Christ in the darkness of the camp. The stories of God's faithful response to their love for him are numerous. They show such grace in their journey, and frequently talk of how difficult and painful it must be for their captors! They share the light of the gospel with so many of their fellow inmates as well as with their guards.

The whole story is so inspirational to me. I think is how easily we are distracted from our faith by our silly problems and difficulties, and it is humbling to read of their faith in light of the terrible situations they went through. They did not become bitter or hateful, but showed so much love to fellow inmates and guards, even after the war.

This is the abridged young readers edition, and I felt it was very well done. These themes are so difficult to read in any book for young people, but I would definitely say this is an excellent first book for a young reader to jump into books on the war.  The focus is definitely less on the death and mistreatment and more on Corrie and her family's faith in action. That said, it is still a book about concentration camps so there are mentions of death, including brief mention of few instances of mass murder that we know to have happened in those times. They are not graphically depicted however, for example, they hear the waves of gunshots and then it is stated how many men were killed that day. Parents will have to gauge how ready their child is for these themes but the cover recommends it for ages 9-12. I would say that's a good starting range, though I would add that it is an excellent book for any age over that! It's been too many years since I have read the original to be able to compare, though I may have to look it up now! This is definitely a book I recommend to all readers who are ready to read about the war.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.