Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When Was Your Last Check-Up?

Did you know that May is Woman’s Health Month? Me neither.  Good timing though, because I just got in to see my doctor this month for my three-year well-check up with my doctor. To be honest, I’d never even met this doctor before because I’ve only see my OB or midwife over the past 7 years. This past November my regular check-up came due and I put it off until now….because who really wants to go in for those exams? No one, right? But, now that I’m in my thirties, I feel like it’s really important to pay attention to my health and staying healthy. Keeping up on these routine exams is one way of doing that.

Lucky for me, I don’t currently have any risk factors and all my tests this time around came back normal (hooray!). Getting regular check-ups are so important though, so that you can catch any potential problems early or maybe even be encouraged to make some lifestyle changes before they become a problem at all!

The past few months, I’ve been working on getting out at walking for some exercise on a regular basis and I’ve started an exercise program to help strengthen my core muscles to help with back pain. I’m hoping that by living a healthier life now, I can stay that way longer.

I want to encourage all the ladies out there to learn something new about women’s health this month. Here is a little graphic to help you know what you need to do and how often to get it done. =)

I want to encourage all the ladies out there to learn something new about women’s health this month. Here is a little graphic from Oscar Insurance to help you know what you need to do and how often to get it done. =) Oscar offers health insurance in the New York and New Jersey areas and concentrates on providing technology to help make these check-ups and their entire healthcare an easier process. Their new type of health insurance plans offer services with the Oscar app such as the Doctor on Call tool that allows their members to speak directly with their doctor through the app without having to make an appointment or take a trip to the office.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Book Details:
Title: A Love Like Ours (A Porter Family Novel #3)
Author: Becky Wade
2015, Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764211096
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction

Book Summary:
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My Review:
Becky Wade is becoming one of my favorite authors. I think I've enjoyed every book I've read by her and this one was no exception. This book is set in Holley, Texas and is told from the POV of both Lyndie and Jake.

Who doesn't love a novel with a setting surrounded by horses? And not just any horses - a Thoroughbred ranch! Lyndie's family has moved back to Holley,Texas after about 20 years of living in California. A lot has changed. Lyndie's once best friend, Jake Porter wants nothing to do with her - and is a shadow of himself. Lyndie is determined to make Jake like her even if they can't be friends like they were before.

This was a really interesting book. The author tackled both a main character with PTSD (and did a very admirable job, I thought) and gave Lyndie a sister with severe cerebral palsy. Each of these on their own are difficult subjects, but the author wove them together into a beautiful story of healing, coping, love and restoration.

Jake lives with guilt everyday over the IED that went off and killed his fellow soldiers under his command in Iraq - he being the lone survivor. Can Lyndie's gentle way finally bring him to a place where he can forgive himself and God?

Excellent story, well-written characters and a wonderful message. This book kept me entertained from cover to cover and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Etsy Shop Re-Opened!

I've FINALLY put some new stuff in my Etsy shop. Head on over there for some lovely bags of vintage trims to use for your projects or a pretty vintage apron!

See LittleSproutBasics here! =)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: When Grace Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Details:
Title: When Grace Sings (Book #2 -The Restoration Trilogy)
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
2015, Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0307731333
Genre: Christian Amish/Mennonite Fiction

Book Summary:
When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion?  
Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren’t what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk.
But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths. 
Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

My Review:
This is the second book in The Restoration Trilogy. If you haven't read the first book, you will be very, very confused.

This is an excellent series. This book is told from four POV's. The setting is a modern day Old Order Mennonite community. We have Alexa, her cousin, Anna Grace, the reporter Briley and Anna Grace's fiance, Steven. This book picks up soon after the first one ends. 

Alexa is living with her grandmother and has opened her B&B. She has learned she is not her mother's biological daughter and is struggling to feel like she really fits in with all her Mennonite family members. She is constantly trying to do what is right so that they look past the fact that they are not her blood family and accept her.

Anna Grace is our next character. We briefly met her in the last book, but this time she is a main character. I found Anna Grace to be a little sickly sweet - a little too perfect. But as the book went on, I liked her more. She became more realistic to me as her perfect world crumbled a little.

Steven and Briley were both new introductions. I enjoyed both. Steven was a little bit of a frustrating character because he was never telling anyone what is real dream was... to be a teacher, not a farmer like his father. I felt like Steven really created a lot of his own problems and at one point wondered if he should even be getting married to Anna Grace, but he redeemed himself to me eventually also.

Briley was a bit different because he was a total outsider. He was a rather jaded man with a very dysfunctional past who was going to dig up dirt on the Plain community. I liked him because he was a very charismatic character, but he was very unhappy with life. I won't give away what happens, but I'm wondering if his character is done for this series or if he'll be back...... 

Of course this book also catches up with some of the other characters through their interactions with these four. Just like the first book, this book is about family, God's grace and the restoring love of Christ. The characters are well developed and the stories are interwoven into each other. I am excited to read the third book and see how all the loose ends are tied up!

Learn More:
Book Info
Author Bio

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review. No other compensation was given and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Together With You by Victoria Bylin

Book Details
Title: Together With You
Author: Victoria Bylin
2015, Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764211539
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction

Book Summary
Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...
When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

Book Review
This is the first book I've read by this author and it was a very emotional, well-written book. Told from the perspective of Carly, Ryan and sometimes Penny, this book takes it's readers on a story of love, guilt, confusion, and ultimately redemption and forgiveness. 

Carly becomes the nanny for Penny, a 5-year-old girl who has recently lost her mother to an accident and is living with a father she has just met. Penny also suffers from Fetal Alcohol Effects. Ryan also has his two sons from his failed marriage living with him for the summer - boys he barely knows because he's been such a workaholic in the past. Ryan is hoping Carly can help him with his SOS list to connect with his children over the summer. Carly is a believer, but Ryan is not... and he has no interest in God.

This was a very good book. The characters were deep and their struggles were real. Ryan and Carly were both very broken people. Even Carly with her faith in God has a lot of very real struggles. My only real issue with the book was the love story between Ryan and Carly. On Carly's side, I was frustrated with how attached she allowed herself to become for a man who was not a believer. She just couldn't let it go no matter how wrong she knew it was and I just got really annoyed by it. 

Other than that, I enjoyed the way Ryan tried so hard to connect with his family and right his past wrongs the best he could, how Carly was so awesome with the kids and how Carly and Ryan conducted themselves with integrity throughout (even though I was annoyed with her far-gone interest in him, I could appreciate that she didn't ACT upon it.)

Definitely worth the read and gives the reader a lot of food for thought about FASD and God's grace.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter!!!

Malachi and I have been enjoying the Easter Holy Week. I wanted to be a bit more intentional about talking about the Easter story with him this year and it just happened to be half days all week at school, so it was the perfect opportunity to do some Easter projects.

On Monday we made Restoration Eggs. This is something I just happened to come across on Pinterest and thought it would be a great way to remind us to talk about the Easter story each day. You are supposed to start 12 days before Easter, but since we just made them the Monday before, we've been doubling up and doing two eggs each day.

The idea behind the eggs is that each of the 12 eggs is filled with a symbol from an event of Holy Week. Each day we open an egg (or two) and then talk about that symbol and read a passage from our Bible.

Malachi helped me collect all the symbols for the eggs and then we have been enjoying reading all the passages each day. I think it has given him a better understanding of the sacrifice Jesus made for us at Easter.

(We used a couple examples from different people on Pinterest, but here was one of the examples we pulled from.)

We've also made several trips to the library this week for some good Easter reading. Some fun and some religious. I really enjoyed The Story of Easter by Aileen Fisher which explains how our current Easter has come from a combination of old Spring Festival holidays and the Christian story of Jesus.

We also really enjoyed The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt and a book I bought off Amazon Benjamin's Box by Melody Carlson which ties in with our restoration eggs.

Of course, Zach has enjoyed Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells and A Tale of Easter by Tasha Tudor.

We also decorated Easter eggs this week... because that's the thing Malachi wanted to do the most obviously. He also had apparently forgotten how good egg salad sandwiches are and so I had to re-introduce that to him. =)

And our final project of the week was making Resurrection Rolls. This is something I've seen around for a few years and keep meaning to do with the boys... but... I just never do. Oops. So I made sure I did it this year.

Crescent rolls (the tomb), marshmallows (Jesus' body), spices and butter (oil and spices) all wrapped up in a cocoon and baked for 12 minutes (3 days) was a great illustration for the resurrection when they came up hollow inside... and really yummy too!
(Here is a link to the recipe we used for our Resurrection Rolls)

I hope your week was great and you and your family have a wonderful Easter celebrating Jesus' resurrection tomorrow. =)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden

Book Details:
Title: The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden
Author: Karen Newcomb
ISBN: 978-1607746836

Book Summary:
  To accommodate today's lifestyles, a garden needs to fit easily into a very small plot, take as little time as possible to maintain, require a minimum amount of water, and still produce prolifically. That's exactly what a postage stamp garden does. Postage stamp gardens are as little as 4 by 4 feet, and, after the initial soil preparation, they require very little extra work to produce a tremendous amount of vegetables--for instance, a 5-by-5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables. 

When first published 40 years ago, the postage stamp techniques, including closely planted beds rather than rows, vines and trailing plants grown vertically to free up space, and intercropping, were groundbreaking. Now, in an ever busier world, the postage stamp intensive gardening method continues to be invaluable for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a whole lot less yet produce so much more.

My Review:
This is a very handy gardening book. No color photos included, but there is a lot packed into this book. Planing seasons, different examples of plot sizes and shapes, and explanations on different kinds of plants are all in there. There is also instructions on how to prepare your soil and keep it nutritious for your plant.s I enjoyed a few of the small sections included on things like moon phases and how they might affect your crops.
There seems to be very detailed sections of rotating crops and how to get your postage stamp garden to thrive. This method reminds me a lot of the Square-Foot Garden method where you are doing more intensive gardening rather than having your crops all spread out in rows. This is nice for obvious reasons and perfect for someone with a small space to still have a great vegetable garden. The author seems very knowledgeable and the writing is easy to read and understand. I will definitely be using this as a reference for years to come.

More Info
Author Bio

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.