Become an Organ Donor through the Taylor's Gift Foundation

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

{Christmas in July WINNER}

The winning number selected by was number 10!  Congratulations, Janet, you're the winner!  I'll be sending you an email soon, so check your in box!  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter!

A Book Review: {Submerged} by Dani Pettrey

About the book:
A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.
One single clue.
Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a town that doesn’t forget. She’s returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.
Cole McKenna can face dangerous rescue dives. He can face the fear a murderer may be threatening his town. But facing the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart…but doesn’t seem to be the same girl who left Yancey ten years ago. And he’s not the same guy she left behind.
Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Bailey and Cole must move beyond the hurts of their pasts to work together until the truth of what is hidden in the depths finally surfaces. 

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Review:
For fans of romantic suspense, Dani Pettrey's debut novel, Submerged, fits the bill!  It's not often that I read half of a book in one sitting, but that's exactly what happened with this novel!  In book one of the Alaskan Courage series, Dani Pettrey has crafted a unique plot, unlike any other book I've read in the Christian fiction market.  It held my interest from the very beginning, and kept me turning pages into the wee hours.

There is a great cast of characters, and I like the fact that you get a good introduction to them here, since they'll play a more prominent role in future books in the series.  There is a strong sense of family, and I love the fun, easy, and natural dialogue that takes place throughout the book.  The characters are believable and easy to relate to, as well.

The story is packed with action, suspense, mystery, and intrigue!  Once things really get going about half way through the book, there is never a dull moment, and several moments that had my heart racing a bit.  I was never able to figure out exactly what was going to happen next.

There is an incredible amount of detail throughout the book relating to Alaskan and Russian history, that I found very interesting.  Pettrey has definitely done her research, and done it very well!

The faith message is woven into the story beautifully, and I enjoyed seeing Bailey grow and change through the story, as she worked to come to a place where she could completely accept God's forgiveness for her past mistakes . . . and forgive herself.

I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and I'm really looking forward to Shattered, Book 2 in the Alaskan Courage series that releases in February 2013!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Monday: {Should've Been Me} by Citizen Way

Here's another great song that I've been hearing on KLOVE lately, and wouldn't you know, it meets the Music Monday criteria . . . it has a awesome sound, and an amazing message!  I love it, and I hope you do too!

For this heart you changed
This soul you raised
My God for taking my place

It should've been me
It should've been us
Should've been there hanging on a cross
All of this shame
All of these scars
Should've been stains that were never washed
Why do I hide
Why do you try
Over and over and over again
I guess it just leaves saying thank God
It leaves me saying thank God, thank God
For the should've been

While Chicago natives Citizen Way are a new band to most people, the two sets of brothers Josh (keys) and Ben Calhoun (vocals/guitar) and David (drums) and Ben Blascoe (bass) grew up in the church and have been playing together as a band since 2004. Their debut single "Should've Been Me" speaks of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and how we can now live because of his selfless act of love. 
’Should've Been Me’ is one of those songs that was already written before I wrote it," says Ben Calhoun. "I was leading worship at a summer camp and the leader asked the students to sum up what they learned that week. One of the students said ‘Well, basically I learned that.., it should've been me.’ A melody and lyrics hit me like a freight train and I sang this song for everyone 20 minutes later. It's a reminder of what the Lord has done, and what He is doing in all of us whether we recognize it or not. It still humbles me and continues to change my heart.”
With a catchy sound and touching lyrics, the band has a way of connecting with listeners that is refreshingly genuine and heartfelt. The meaning behind their name reiterates how important it is to Citizen Way to find their identity through Christ. As described by Ben Blascoe, “Jesus said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' The book of Hebrews speaks of a 'new and living way' that Jesus opened up through His sacrifice on the cross. In the book of Acts, early Christians were called 'followers of the Way.' The name reminds believers that following Jesus grants us citizenship into something bigger - God's kingdom - where true worth is found.”  ~From KLOVE's Website

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Funny: {Chonda Pierce} The Insurance Claim

It's time for another Friday Funny, and you know I love Chonda Pierce!  Enjoy the laugh, and have a fantastic weekend!  : )

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{A Quote to Inspire You} Elisabeth Elliot

I discovered this quote last year, and loved it so much that I put it on my refrigerator.  It's been a wonderful encouragement to me as a mother, but it can certainly apply to any job that God places before us.  I pray that it blesses you today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

{Christmas in July} Book GIVEAWAY!

Can you believe it's only 5 months until Christmas?  I thought it would be fun to have a little "Christmas in July" celebration  here at Sweet Treats & Inspiration . . . where the gifts are for YOU! 


A Girl Like That by Frances Devine (Historical)  HP #847

Katie can’t wait to get on stage.

Katie O’Shannon is excited to finally be in Chicago, working with her father in show business. And when she’s given the opportunity to perform on stage herself, she’s sure her dreams are coming true. But then God awakens her to the plight of the immigrants, and she realizes the spotlight may not bring her what she truly seeks.

Sam Nelson works diligently to make partner in his father’s law firm. He is thrilled to receive an important case. . .until he discovers the client may be using unethical means to win. Now Sam must decide what true justice is.

When Katie and Sam meet, sparks fly. But as Chicago ignites around them, will they turn to God for guidance or will their dreams—and love—burn to ashes?
“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

 A Wealth Beyond Riches by Vickie McDonough (Historical) HP #747

On Sasha Di Carlo's eighteenth birthday, her mother, a famous actress, abandons her for a new beau. So when Sasha discovers she has family in Indian Territory, she leaves the theater world behind. She travels west searching for family, a sense of belonging, and unconditional love. Jim Conners, former soldier and carpenter extraordinaire, finds himself wandering the West, also looking to define himself. Building a house for Dewey Hummingbird brings him satisfaction-until Sasha arrives, claiming to be Dewey's niece. Jim finds himself torn between protecting the old man's interests and growing attracted to this lovely young woman. When Dewey is threatened by unscrupulous men wanting his land, can Sasha and Jim work together, or will the deceptions surrounding them destroy their chance at love?

Cotton Candy Clouds by Janice Hanna (Contemporary) HP #845

Candy Carini has always had her head in the clouds, even while working in her family’s candy store. Now, at Newark’s Eastway Airlines, where she lands both a piloting job and a pilot, her dreams are finally coming true. When Eastway pilot Darren Furst meets Candy, he can’t help but think she could fill his empty home and arms. Then union troubles arises, and Darren finds himself caught between the woman he loves and his fellow pilots. Are his plans for their future now grounded? Or will Candy cotton to Darren—for better or worse?

Entry Instructions:

To be entered to win, please leave a comment with your email address -- if you don't leave your email address, I'll have to choose another winner. 

For an EXTRA ENTRY, be a follower of this blog, and leave a separate comment.  It's that easy!  Thanks for stopping by to enter!

Contest ends July 31, 2012 at 9:00 PM (PST).  Winner will be announced on August 1, 2012.

Prizes are in new condition, and provided by me.  Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited.  Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is drawn from a non-biased third party-  I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday: {Steady my Heart} by Kari Jobe

Kari Jobe truly has that special gift of sharing God's message through her incredible voice, and an anointing that brings you into a beautiful place of worship.  Kari's latest release, The Acoustic Sessions, released on July 17, 2012 -- and like her previous two albums, this one is a winner!  I don't usually like live, acoustic versions, but Kari's talent shines through on each and every track of this album.  Kari shares her heart and the message perfectly, and puts words to the thoughts and feelings that we have as believers.

Steady my Heart is such a beautiful song, and I pray that it blesses you today.  It's amazing to think how He is the only one that can truly steady our hearts in all the craziness of this world.

Have a blessed week, friends!

 Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Peach Freezer Jam}

Photo Credit: Michelle @Sweet Treats & Inspiration

The peaches on our peach tree are starting to ripen, and it's one of my favorite times of the year!  It's time to make freezer jam, cobblers, smoothies, and so much more!  Freezer jam is so easy to make, and takes no time at all -- it's definitely a great way to go, since you can avoid the canning process, if you're short on time, or just looking for ways to simplify things.  It's also a great gift to share with family, friends, and neighbors. 

Photo Credit: Michelle @ Sweet Treats & Inspiration

The following recipe can be found at Christy Jordan's Southern Plate, where Christy gives a step-by-step tutorial.

Peach Freezer Jam

  • 2 lbs peaches (enough to make 3 cups of mashed peaches)
  • 4 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1 Box Sure Jell (can use other brand but check their instructions)
  • 2 T Lemon Juice
Peel and slice peaches. Mash up with potato masher or fork. They will be lumpy but that is okay. Measure out sugar in large bowl. Measure three cups of peaches and add to sugar. Add lemon juice. Stir well and sit aside so sugar can dissolve.
In sauce pot, place 3/4 C Water. Add fruit pectin (Sure Jell). Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Pour into fruit mixture. Stir well until all sugar is dissolved.
Pour into clean 8 ounce jars (or plastic containers of choice) and leave 1 inch head space (instructions on package say leave 1/2 inch but most recipes say leave one so I go with tradition here). Using a damp paper towel, wipe around rim and sides of jar to remove any residue. Place lids on jars and let sit at room temperature for twenty four hours. After that time, place in freezer until ready to use. Store opened jars you are using in the fridge.

NOTE:  Freezer jam cannot be stored at room temperature.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday: {When Mercy Found Me} by the Rhett Walker Band

There I was cleaning the kitchen, listening to KLOVE -- you know how I like to do that?  Anyway, this song comes on, and WOW!  The voice, the country/southern rock sound, and the message!  I'm thinking, "Who is this?!  I have to know who this is, because I just found my Music Monday song!"  Have y'all heard of the Rhett Walker Band?  Until five days ago, I hadn't either!  I. LOVE. THIS. SONG.  Their sound is unique, and unlike anything I've heard on Christian radio.  It's so awesome to see musicians like this using their talent to bring glory to God.

I really think you're going to love it!  If you do, be sure to let me know.  I'd love to know what you think.  Have a fantastic week!

In one moment, everything changed.
Who I was got washed away,
When mercy found me.
My Savior's arms were open wide,
And I felt love for the very first time,
When mercy found me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Homemade Banana Pudding} Christy Jordan's Southern Plate

Christy Jordan's Southern Plate
Homemade Banana Pudding?  Yes, please, and yes ma'am!  Christy Jordan, from Southern Plate, has a fantastic recipe for Homemade Banana Pudding!  I made this for the first time today, and it is D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.!  If you are a banana pudding fan, I think you'll LOVE it!

I was so happy when I found the above photo -- not only does it showcase homemade banana pudding, but it also showcases my "dream truck."  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a truck just like this!  I suppose because I love all things vintage, old-fashioned, and "country," . . . and if it's possible for a truck to be charming . . . I suppose this would be it.  : )

So how about you?  Are you a vintage truck fan?  Or a banana pudding fan?  Or both?  ;-)

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar (or Splenda)
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1 box Nilla Wafers
  • 5 bananas
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • dash salt
  1. Place a layer of Nilla Wafers in the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl. Slice a banana over the top. Repeat two more times with another layer of wafers and remaining bananas. In sauce pot (or double boiler) on medium low heat, add all ingredients except for vanilla. Stir well with wire whisk. Allow to cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until thickened - about fifteen minutes. Add in vanilla and stir. Immediately pour over wafers and bananas. Let sit for about five minutes or so before serving, to allow wafers time to absorb pudding. Top with meringue, if desired.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Grammy's Pancakes} by Sugar Bean Bakers

Good Morning!  What's for breakfast?  How about these delicious pancakes from Sugar Bean Bakers?  Mmmm . . . don't they look delectable?  You and your family are sure to love them!  Thank you, Tina, for sharing this fabulous recipe!  Be sure to visit Tina at Sugar Bean Bakers for more great recipes!

Oil for frying pan
Large frying pan 

1 Egg
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Oil

Whisk together until smooth.

Pour 1/4 inch of oil into your pan and let heat. Drip a drop of the batter into the oil. When it begins to sizzle, add your pancakes.

When bubbles form on the cakes, carefully flip them over.

Test center by poking a small hole in it. If batter comes out, cook another minute or so.

Place on a paper towel just for a second to absorb any extra oil, then place on plate and serve!

This recipe makes about 6 medium sized pancakes.

For my family of 3, I made 2 recipes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music Monday: {Jesus, Friend of Sinners} by Casting Crowns

I love this song by Casting Crowns -- such powerful words!  So many things I could say, but I'm going to let the song speak for itself.

Thank you, Lord, that You love us and made a way to redeem us!  Thank you, Jesus, that You've set the perfect example!

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: {Coming Home} by Karen Kingsbury

About the book:
Coming Home is a novel about tremendous victory and unprecedented loss, a story of faith and a forever kind of love, love that will stay with you long after the last page. This stand-alone novel will serve as either a grand introduction or a beautiful conclusion in the saga of the Baxter Family. The Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, a celebration like they haven't had in years. But before the big day, the unthinkable happens. As the Baxter Family rallies together, memories come to light in the grief-stricken hours of waiting and praying, memories that bring healing and hope during a time when otherwise darkness might have the final word. In a season that changes all of them, the brilliance of family love overshadows even the valley of heartache as the Baxters draw closer to God and each other. Along the way, secrets are revealed and the truth about the Baxter Family history is finally made known. Ultimately, in this portrait of family love, the Baxters cling to each other and to God's promise of forever.

My Star Rating: 3 Stars

My Review:
Since the Redemption series by Karen Kingsbury is one of my favorites, I thought it would be only fitting to read the conclusion of the Baxter family saga. I originally hadn't planned on reading it, but thought I'd go ahead and give it a go.

The first nine chapters catch everyone up to speed on the lives of the Baxter family, up to the point where they are coming together to celebrate their father's 70th birthday. I appreciated the "refresher" of the previous books, and I found myself saying, "Oh yeah, I remember that. That was a really good story!" For those that haven't read the other Baxter books, I can see where this would be really helpful, so you don't feel so lost with the characters. BUT, if you haven't read the Redemption series, I highly recommend you at least read that series first, so there aren't any spoilers for you, if you do plan on reading that series. It's a GREAT series (my personal favorite of all of Karen's books!).

I didn't have any idea of what would happen in the book, but as the story progressed, things did take a turn that I wasn't really expecting. The Baxter family is faced with an unimaginable tragedy, and through it all the Baxter's faith is tested. The family takes a pretty big hit, and we get to see the family work out their faith as they question God.

Is the story completely realistic? No. Is the reader able to glean some biblical truth and insight from the story? Yes.

While I didn't love this book as much as the first books, I did like it, and thought that is was good. It held my interest, and even brought a few tears. While not Karen's best work, it's worth reading.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

{A Quote to Inspire You} #10

Photo Credit: Pinterest From Beth Moore's Breaking Free

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday: {Be (my heart, my hands, my voice)} by Selah

WOW!  Talk about an incredibly powerful message!  This song is amazing, and so worth the five minutes to watch and listen!  I was so blessed and moved by the testimony and the words of this song, and I pray that it's exactly what you needed to hear today.

We've been called to a life that is more amazing than anything this world can offer!  It took me a long time to get to the point where I knew my purpose, but now, it's just like the young lady in the video describes, "After becoming a Christian, I felt that I found that lost, missing piece of the puzzle." 

To know why you're here, and to know that you've been created for a relationship with the God, and to live a life that brings glory to Him . . . it's amazing!  Truly amazing, and I continue to be awestruck that He loves me, He saved me, and redeemed me.  There's a reason that we're here, to follow Him.  Take up your cross, and follow Him.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 NIV

Enjoy, and be blessed, my friends.  Praying that you have a wonderful week.