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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sugar Bean Bakers has Sweet Treats!

I "met" Tina online about 11 years ago, through a scrapbooking message board.  We've shared many of life's ups and downs over the years, and watched each other kids grow up in pictures.  She's such a great lady -- SUPER funny, SUPER creative in digital scrapbooking (she's a designer at the Digital Scrapbook Place), an awesome photographer, a youth group leader, and she rocks at coming up with creative baking ideas!  She has a blog, Sugar Bean Bakers, where she posts lots of creative food ideas, and all things yummy -- from cupcakes, cookies, and cakes, to smoothies.  The following is a recipe she posted for a peach banana smoothie.  I tried it, and it's delicious!  Now I just have to wait for peaches to be in season, and I'll be making this everyday!

Peach Banana Smoothie 
Recipe by Tina @Sugar Bean Bakers

1 peach (or nectarine)- peeled, pit removed & sliced
1 banana (also peeled ;) 
1/3 cup yogurt*
1/3 cup of milk**
1 Tablespoon honey
splash of vanilla
4 ice cubes
(mine are the 1/2 moon size from my ice maker)

In a blender/processor that can chop ice:

blend until you stop hearing the ice clink around. Usually about 1-2 minutes.

Taste, you can add more honey if you need.

 *for this recipe you can use plain yogurt, peach, vanilla, or honey
also note if you use Greek Yogurt, you may need a little more milk as it is thicker

**use any milk you like, Fat Free, Skim, 2%, Whole, soy, etc.
I actually used Almond Milk for the one in the photo.

You can adjust the ratio of milk/yogurt for the consistency you like, this is how
the Bean prefers his. It's not too thick, not too thin.

This makes one large smoothie or 2 small smoothies.
Tina has lots of sweet treats that she shares at her site, so be sure to check it out.  I think you'll enjoy it, and be inspired!  You can also find her link in my sidebar.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Monday: {I Choose Jesus} by Moriah Peters

I was driving home on Wednesday, listening to KLOVE, when I first heard this song.  I was instantly struck by the beauty of her voice and the message!  I didn't recognize the voice, so I did a little research and found that this beautiful song is by Moriah Peters.  Her debut album will be available on April 17, 2012, and needless to say, it will quickly find it's way to my iPod!  You can find a link to a free download of the song at her website,

This first video is the official, recorded version of the song, I Choose Jesus, with lyrics.

This second video is the live acoustic version, which is truly amazing! Her voice is so beautiful!

This last video is Moriah talking about her inspiration for the song.

You can read more about Moriah Peters at TodaysChristianMusic.

As always, I pray that this song will bless you.

Sweet Blessings, Michelle

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

{Why does God allow me to experience difficulties?} by Charles Stanley

Charles Stanley is one of my favorite Bible teachers.  I glean so much wisdom and insight from his sermons, and I always come away with a better understanding and knowledge of God and His word.  The following sermon deals with one of the biggest questions that believers, and even non-believers have -- why does God allow me to experience difficulties?


Follow this link to watch Charles Stanley's teaching on Why does God allow me to experience difficulties?

Click to find Podcasts

And if you're not familiar with Charles Stanley and InTouch Ministries, you can find more information here.   You'll find radio broadcasts, podcasts, and video archives, as well as information on receiving the free InTouch magazine.

I pray that this teaching by Charles Stanley will bless you.

A Book Review: {A Lasting Impression} by Tamera Alexander

About the book:  To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.

My Rating:  5 Stars

My Review:  Tamera Alexander is one of my favorite authors!  Her writing is stellar, and she is to be commended for creating a story that draws the reader in, making you feel completely immersed in the story.  When I finished reading A Lasting Impression, I felt as if I had just returned from a trip to the Belmont Mansion, and spent a wonderful time with Claire, Sutton, Adelicia, Cordina, and the entire splendid cast of characters.  I also appreciate the fact that the story line is so unique; I don't believe there's another story like it in the area of Christian Fiction.  It's certainly a stand-out story -- one that I won't soon forget!

When I wasn't reading the story, I often found myself thinking of Claire and Sutton, and longing to get back to Belmont.  Even though I had a hunch how the story would turn out, I still wanted to experience the journey of how Claire and Sutton would resolve their issues.  As the book progressed, I found it harder and harder to put the book down.  I was happy to see how everything played out, but I was also sad to leave Belmont, and the characters that I had grown to love.  Thankfully, there are more books in this series, and I can't wait to pick up book two in 2013!  I have no doubt that it will be just as captivating as the first!

With rich, colorful descriptions, Tamera brought the Belmont Mansion to life.  The characters are likeable, real-to life, and ones that you come to care about as the story progresses.  It was a joy to watch Claire's character change and grow, as she was so easy to relate to.  I laughed and cried with her as she came to terms with her past, and through her determination to press on into the future that God had planned for her.  The spiritual thread of the story was so well done, and was effortlessly woven into the story at a gradual and realistic pace.

The romance between Claire and Sutton was incredibly sweet and heartwarming!  The romantic elements truly came to life because Tamera made me "feel" what the characters were feeling, without simply "telling" me.  The love story was beautifully written, without being rushed, or forced.  The romantic scenes were so well done, and there was just enough "heat" to take my heart skip a beat, and take my breath away. 

I highly recommend this book with two enthusiastic thumbs up!  Tamera has truly left  "a lasting impression" on this reader, and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series!  

You can read the first two chapters of A Lasting Impression by following this link.   You can also get more information about Tamera and her books at her website.

**Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy of this book for review, in exchange for my honest opinion.***

Monday, March 19, 2012

Music Monday: {What a Savior} by Laura Story

Happy Music Monday!  In thinking about what song I'd post today, I had a few of my favorites in mind, but then I thought I should aim for more variety.  I've posted a lot of Kerrie Roberts, Britt Nicole, and Kari Jobe, so . . . . who should be on the line up for today?  I didn't know.  Then it came to me as I was emptying the dishwasher, and singing Laura Story's, What a Savior.  That's it!  Apparently, I really LOVE this song!  And who wouldn't?  It has a great sound, and the perfect message, and it's a perfect song to sing to praise our Savior!  Every time I hear it I can't help but turn it up . . . LOUD!  It's one of those songs that you can't help raising your hands heavenward -- which can be a problem when you're driving!  And if I can get past the lump in my throat, and the stink of tears in my eyes, I'll even sing along.  : ) 

I pray that this song will bless you.  Have a great Monday!

"You are my joy and my salvation . . ."

Friday, March 16, 2012

{How to Make Perfect Rice}

I know that rice isn't something we usually get excited about, but THIS rice is a completely different story.  It is my hope that you will be inspired to make this easy and delicious side dish, that is the perfect accompaniment to most entrees.  : )

In all of my 18 years of cooking, I've never been able to get rice to turn out.  I've always used plain, long grain rice, followed the bag instructions, but never achieved good results.  It would turn out mushy, pasty, etc.  No one really like it, and hubby would ask, "Can't you make it so it's not all stuck together?"

Well, thanks to this video we found on youtube, I can now make perfect rice every time.  Really.  It's that easy.  It's made with Basmati rice which is absolutely delicious!  It has such a unique flavor.  If you haven't tried it, well . . . you're missing out.  I don't want to twist your arm or boss you around, but please try it.  It's SO GOOD!  I really think you'll love it.  Let's face it, if I'm posting about rice on my blog, you know it's something special.  ;-)

Basmati is a variety of long grain rice, notable for its fragrance and delicate flavour. Its name means "the fragrant one" in Sanskrit, but it can also mean the "soft rice." Pakistan and India are the largest cultivators and exporters of this rice - primarily grown through paddy field farming in the Punjab region. The grains of basmati rice are longer than non-basmati varieties. Cooked grains of Basmati rice are characteristically free flowing rather than sticky. Cooked basmati rice can be uniquely identified by its fragrance.
Basmati rice is available in two varieties - white rice and brown rice. Basmati rice is authentic Indian long grained white rice, which has unique nutty flavor. Basmati rice is very popular in India and all over the world. A wide variety of rice dishes are made with Basmati rice like plain steamed rice, pulaos, pilafs, biryanis or just different types of fried rice - which include meat, vegetables, nuts, and even fruits sometimes. Gourmet cooks prefer to use Basmati rice for its fragrant flavor. Special occasion rice dishes are mostly made with Basmati rice.

If you follow the instructions in this video, you'll have perfect rice on your plate in about 30 minutes.  We've made this about 6 times in the past two weeks, and it's turned out perfectly every time, with no problems.

Be Blessed, and Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

{You Are the Apple of God's Eye} Stationery & Recipe Pages by Karla Dornacher

I just love Karla Dornacher's work!  These stationery/recipe pages are new in her Etsy shop.  They are beautiful and oh, so sweet!  They make me wish I had a piece of apple pie to bite into!  The pages say, "You are the apple of God's eye!"  You can purchase the download for just $4.95, and then you have the option of printing out five different versions of the design (pictured above).

Inspiration for the artwork comes from Deuteronomy 32:10 . . .

In a desert land he found him,
   in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
   he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 

Karla has so many beautiful things in her Etsy shop, I highly recommend checking it out!  I've ordered a few of her items, and have been very pleased with everything.  It's always a bright spot in my day when I use her bookmarks and stationery!

You can also visit her at her blog, Karla's Korner.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Music Monday: {My Hope Is In You} by Aaron Shust

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 My hope is in you lord
all the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes
understanding is my song and I sing
My hope is in You alone

Thank you, Lord, that you are the God of ALL comfort, and that our hope can be found in You!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thanking Him for His Love, Provision, and Favor!

For those of you who don't know, I'm a substitute teacher.  Long story, short -- I graduated from college in 1994.  The plan was for me to be a teacher.  I changed my mind and took a detour.  I worked as an infant/toddler director for three years, then ended up being a stay-at-home-mom for 10 years.  When my little guy went to first grade, I had a lot of free time on my hands.  A close friend of mine suggested that I substitute teach.  Um, no, I don't think so.  The thought never crossed my mind.  It wasn't something that I wanted to do . . . at all.

I gave it some thought, and it turns out it's really the only thing that I could do with my degree, and I didn't want my degree to go to waste.  Right?  So I looked into it, and the rest is history.  I'm currently in my third year of subbing, and I love it!  And you know what?  I can't help but think that God's fingerprints are all over this situation.

Every time I think about it, I'm truly amazed how God used my friend to lead me right where He wanted me to be, because teaching of any kind was not even on my radar screen.  Bottom line, I had some bad experiences when I was student teaching, and the thought of being a teacher really scared me . . . we're talking major anxiety.  But I faced my fears and my anxieties with God right there by my side.  He is my strength.  He is my confidence.  The only reason I can do what I do is because of Him.  It's ALL to His glory!

Believe me when I say this, I am not in my natural comfort zone when I'm teaching, especially when other adults are in the classroom.  But the more I do it, the easier it gets, and I actually enjoy what I'm doing!  Not just for the joy that I get when I'm teaching, but the opportunity to be a light to each and every child that I come in contact with.  Without a doubt, I believe that God has placed me exactly where He wants me . . . as a wife, as a mother, and a teacher.  He has blessed me so abundantly, and every time I turn around I feel like He pours out His love to me, and lavishes me with His favor.

The other night, I got a text message from the Special Ed teacher that I often sub for, asking if I was available the next day.  Thankfully, I was, because I just love working in her class!  A few minutes later, I truly had a moment that took my breath away.  God is so good, and I felt completely  overwhelmed by His love.  With tears in my eyes, I thought about how He cares for me.  He's concerned for me.  He's a loving Father that sees to my needs.  It's hard to explain, but I just couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of GRATITUDE for His love and provision.  He's given me favor like I've never known would be possible.  It's truly amazing!  He. Loves. Me. 

He has taken a part of my life that I had turned my back on, and He has restored it.  He's given me the opportunity to contribute financially to our family, which has been such a blessing in these unsteady economic times.  He's a kind, gracious, and loving Father, and I'm so thankful that I belong to Him!

Praise the Lord that He saves, redeems, and restores!

Monday, March 5, 2012

KLOVE FREE Music Download: {Our God's Alive} by Andy Cherry

Here's an addition to the "Music Monday" post!  If you enjoyed the song Our God's Alive by Andy Cherry that I posted on February 6, 2012, you can now download that song FREE on KLOVE!  Cool deal!  Gotta love GREAT music for FREE!  Just click here to get this song on your iPod or other MP3 players in just minutes.  Enjoy, and have a great day!

Music Monday: {A Thousand Little Things} by Point of Grace


Point of Grace has a new album coming out on May 1, 2012, titled A Thousand Little Things.  I've always loved their music with their beautiful harmonies and message, and this new song is no exception!  A Thousand Little Things speaks to all of the things that we have to be thankful for, and to our God who makes all of these things possible . . . we can see His love all around us, in A Thousand Little Things.

"As one of the biggest names in Christian music, Point of Grace returns with their signature chill-inducing harmonies, anthemic choruses and powerful lyrics that poignantly capture life’s simple yet vital messages. The two-time Grammy nominees have sold more than 6.5 million albums and earned 24 consecutive No. 1 singles (27 total including radio staples “Steady On”, “The Great Divide” and “Circle of Friends”), a feat unmatched by any artist in any genre. They’ve won 10 prestigious Dove Awards, including Country Recorded Song of the Year in 2008 for “How You Live” and Country Recorded Song of the Year in 2009 for “I Wish.” In conjunction with their new album, they are releasing a new cookbook, Cooking with Grace, featuring personal photos and stories to help raise money for an African orphanage.
While remaining true to their contemporary Christian roots, Point of Grace is now poised to reach a new audience with No Changin’ Us (produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Nathan Chapman, known for his work on Taylor Swift’s Fearless), allowing the female trio to share their message of love and positivity with more people than ever."  ~ From

From the Point of Grace newsletter (February 29, 2012)
"Point of Grace is launching a new lifestyle and music radio show entitled “Graceful Living" on March 3. The 3-hour, music intensive family-friendly radio show will be launched to Contemporary Christian and Country stations and will include helpful tips that can be used in everyday life. The inspiring show will feature Shelley, Leigh and Denise sharing their lives as moms, wives, sisters and friends, and will include occasional celebrity guest appearances with Point of Grace’s friends from music, movies and TV."

For more information, visit Graceful Living Radio