Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Christmas - A Book Review

Cranberry Christmas from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine may be a short book but that doesn't hold it back any. This little treasure is packed full of holiday traditions, recipes, history, stories, decoration ideas, and a few poems! Yes! This book is full of heart!

I enjoyed this book from the word "Go!" As a lover of all things historical, I truly enjoyed the bits of history intertwined throughout the beautifully written stories.  Did you know that the cranberry used to be called a craneberry? Or maybe you know what grapes, blueberries, and cranberries have in common?  We found out that they are some of the only fruits that are native to the North America. Well, this and more can be learned as you read through the pages of Cranberry Christmas.

Ever year I host our family Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration that we have affectionately deemed "Thanksmas." There are printable pages for napkin rings and placecards that will be a part of this year's celebration thanks to this lovely book. My girls and I enjoyed  the time we spent together creating place settings for our holiday table. As we created our "masterpieces," we had the opportunity to talk about the stories included in the book. These stories are easy to relate to and fun to read at any age.

The recipes in Cranberry Christmas are simple and delicious. With Thanksmas just around the corner, I have picked my favorite recipes to try out on the family. Not only will my table be absolutely beautiful, I will now be able to serve some delicious cranberry treats that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. My absolute favorite recipe that we tried was the Colorful Slaw with Cranberries. Not only is it simple to make, it is delicious and absolutely beautiful.

It is a cinch to use this book as a unit study during the holiday season. There is something for every age. If you have elementary age children the poems and stories can be used as copy work or memory work. I found the recipes and printable resources useful when it came to my teenagers. They love both projects and cooking, so this gave us the tools necessary to prep for our holiday celebration. We also enjoyed the games inside, who doesn't enjoy a holiday word find now and then? Cranberry Christmas also goes into some detail describing how this versatile fruit is harvested, and gives a lot of ideas for hands on projects to reinforce the learning process. Cranberries can be used to dye cloth, make homemade paper, color food naturally and much more.

The most beautiful thing we created after reading this book was the Cranberry Garland. It takes a little time, but is completely worth it. Since we have dogs that were interested in making it an afternoon snack for themselves, we will use it as a centerpiece on the table instead of garland on the tree!

The thing I love the most about this book is the way that God's love shines through the pages. Not only did the author make sure to give glory to the creator of this bouncy fruit through the historical information, but the short stories show the love of God and the true reason we celebrate the holidays.

I am confident that you will enjoy this book. There is something for every age and every stage in life.

This post is a review for Schoolhouse Review Crew.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Road Rage Gone Wrong!

Have you ever met a negative person? I'm sure you have....we all have. You know what I'm talking about....the person that never has a good day, and only has negative things to say about absolutely everything. If we're going to be honest with ourselves, sometimes we have been that person! OUCH!!
Just the other day I had one of "those" days. You know what I'm talking about. It was a day that didn't go right from the moment I rolled out of bed. It began with a migraine that kept me from sleeping much that night. If that were it I would have been happy, but my computer wasn't working right, my dryer quit, my stomach was upset and horror of all horrors.....I realized I had a hole in my pants. As if that weren't enough, it seemed that as the day progressed, I met every person in the entire city that was in a bad mood! I wanted to stop the day so I could get off!!  Have you ever had anything like this happen to you?
Positive thinking is always greater than a negative mindset.

 It's days exactly like these that  put our patience to the test. It's days like this that we must remember that it is so important to remember the blessings in our lives.
One morning, when I was a young mom I had not quite learned this lesson. My first born was only three at the time and on this particular day I was on my way to her gymnastics class. It was an icy, cold and windy day and we had a 30 minute drive from our home in a little farm town in Illinois to class in the next town over. I was running a little behind and the roads were not in great shape. There was ice everywhere, and I knew that the going would be slow.  That is when I got behind the slowest driver around! For what seemed like an hour, I tried to with no success to get around the car in front of me. The longer I drove behind this vehicle the more angry I became! When I finally was able to swing my car out into the other lane to pass the car once and for all, I was in a complete state of "road rage." I wanted the driver to know how disgusted I was at their inability to drive their car appropriately. When I pulled alongside the driver and looked into the vehicle, I noticed that it was my Great Aunt in the car.  What?! My aunt.....ugh....
I knew a few things about my aunt. I knew that she was elderly. I knew that she had health issues of her own. I knew that she traveled weekly to the nursing home to read to the residents that could no longer read for themselves. I also knew that the book of choice was the Bible. Oh how I wanted to take it all back. All the rage, all frustration, all the looks and sighs that had filled the car ride!
Talk about a wake up call!
I can honestly tell you that this moment fixed my road rage problem once and for all!
Philippians 4:8 says: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
It is up to you what you think about. Choose to ponder this verse, but better yet....choose to put it into practice in your life! You'll be very glad you did! (You will be especially glad if this story saves you from making nasty faces at your sweet aunt.)

Friday, November 14, 2014


My girls
Not a day goes by that I don't find a reason to be thankful for my family! I am a mom of three girls ages: 20, 16 and 13, and everyday I feel truly blessed that God has entrusted them to me! I am one proud momma! 
Although the word sister is a common part of my life now, I grew up with not one, but three brothers.... and NO sisters.  I often wondered when I was younger what it would be like to have a sister. As I got older I always listened closely when people talked about their relationship with their sisters. I've heard ladies talk about the bond they have with their sisters....about sharing clothes, shoes and purses. About how sisters stay up all night talking, getting advice, giving advice, and how your sister can know you so well she finishes your sentences for , and I couldn't help but feel like I was missing out. Although I have great relationships with my brothers, it isn't the same as having sisters. Those of you with sisters are probably nodding your head right now!
Sisterly Love

I had the honor to spend several hours with some ladies from my church family. I love these sweet ladies and our time together!  We talk, we laugh, we swap stories and recipes, and share wonderful ideas with each other. Our times together are so special to me! Some of you may understand exactly what I'm talking about....
Tonight all the ladies from church were invited to meet at a local restaurant and eat dinner together. After we ate a great dinner, one of the ladies shared her testimony. She shared with honesty and vulnerability about the transformation that God did in her life, and it moved me. I wasn't moved just by her words, but by the fact that she trusted us enough to share it.
After she spoke, we all took turns sharing what we were thankful for, and as each person took their turn she shared with the same type of honesty and vulnerability....that is when I realized that God has blessed me with a room full of sisters! How exciting!
All of us ladies have different backgrounds and histories. Some were raised in church and some were not. Some have children and some do not. Some are married and some are not. Some have sisters......some do not. But tonight, the common denominator was our relationship with Jesus and the fact that He saved our souls. That was the common starting point and in that we were forever connected. God saw to it in His perfect plan, to bring us all together and placed us in a family of sisters!
As I think about my evening with my sisters I can't help but smile. Each one is different in her own right, and amazingly beautiful with a wonderful story to share, and I am blessed with the opportunity to glean biblical truths and practical lessons from these ladies I call sister!

Me and two of my sweet girls

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Creamy Potato Soup

With winter biting at our heels, I have been craving soup. I tend to be a bit of a soup snob. When I was little I hated soup, then I grew up and started making my own soups and fell in love!

 I am so excited to share my potato soup recipe with you guys! It is one of my all time favorites and a favorite of my three girls!

This recipe is made without meat, but my guy believes that it can't be considered a meal if it doesn't have meat in it, so we tend to make this when it is just me and the three girls at home!  If we do make it for a meal that my guy will be eating with us, I just add some sausage to it.  You can add breakfast sausage and brown it and add it, or you can use smoked sausage and slice it into the soup. Either way, it is a wonderful addition to this soup!

Let's get started crafting some incredibly yummy soup!

Peel and dice 10 to 12 ;medium sized potatoes and place them in a soup pot and cover with water. For richer flavor, add chicken broth.

I am an onion lover, so I diced a medium sweet onion and added it to the pot so the flavor could cook into the potatoes!  YUMMY!

I also added minced garlic, crushed black pepper and sea salt.

The potatoes are getting happy! 

My girls have already started coming downstairs to ask what I was cooking!  They are hovering like little hawks ready to pounce. These potatoes need to cook up quickly, I have some hungry girls on my hands! 
Once the potatoes are cooked I add the cream!

And 2 packages of softened cream cheese. I chop it into cubes the best I can and work it through the soup to make sure that it melts completely. While the cream cheese is melting in the pot, I cooked up some bacon to garnish the soup with.

 Then I add some crushed red pepper and parsley. I like to add dried to this soup so that it doesn't try to take over!
Last I add the shredded cheese! My mouth is now watering and I can't wait to dig in! 

Dinner Time!
I hope you love it as much as we do! 


10-12 potatoes
1 medium onion
2 T minced garlic
1 T crushed black pepper
1 T sea salt
2 T dried parsley
2 t crushed red pepper
2 pkg cream cheese
1 qt heavy cream
3 cups shredded cheese
1 lb. bacon


Peel and slice your potatoes. Try to keep the pieces small enough to fit nicely in your mouth!
Add the potatoes to a soup pot along with diced onion. Cover the potatoes and onion with water and cook until the potatoes are soft.
Add the cream, cream cheese, parsley, and crushed red pepper and let it cook until the cream cheese is completely melted.
While the cream cheese is melting, cut the bacon into 1" pieces and fry in a skillet.
Once the cream cheese is melted add the shredded cheese and stir well.
It is ready to serve. Garnish with crispy bacon pieces.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What is Your Favorite Soup

Winter has started reminding us that it is right around the corner.  With that is "Soup Season!" If you're like me, you love both making them and eating them!

What is your favorite soup to make?  What is your favorite soup to eat?

I will be making my potato soup and will post the recipe in the next couple days! By far, it is my favorite soup to eat!  My family loves it too. They got so excited when they heard I would be making it.

I can't wait to hear from you about your favs!