Monday, August 29, 2011

Falls Like Lightening...and other books

Falls Like Lightening by Shawn Grady is the latest book I received (free) from Bethany House publishers to review.

Here's a little summary of the novel...

Silas Kent is a smoke jumper with a past. Growing up without a family has had a lasting impact on his life. Now he is a skilled smoke jumper, jumping out of planes to fight fires...without water. It takes patience and skill, and Silas has both. Silas and Elle, a smoke jumper pilot, have a history. When Elle is assigned to pilot Silas' new team, their worlds come together once more. As they head out into a dangerous mission, something isn't right. Sabotage and danger surround them, and when the team has to jump off course and Elle crash lands, will they survive to see what their future may hold? Gotta read to find out! : )

My take...Let me preface my review by saying that I do love a good mystery/suspense/action novel. Back in the day, I loved Mary Higgins Clark and Tom Clancy novels. I must say that my most recent preference is western or some kind of Christian romantic fiction. I really love historicals. I was interested, though, in trying something new with the contemporary "Falls Like Lightening." My initial thoughts are that it was a little distracting for me to deal with the fireman/smoke jumper jargon that I was unfamiliar with. Once I just decided to do the best I could with that, I thought the story had a good level of romance and suspense, although I kind of wanted more. Especially with the romance. I felt like the way Elle and Silas dealt with their past just hit the surface. The suspense/mystery part of the story was also good, and I thought it added a nice twist to the novel. My only critique of that aspect was that the "bad guys" were revealed early on in the story, so there wasn't much mystery there. I think I would've liked to have a little more tension in the story and have one of those...oh, man!...moments where the bad guy is someone I never expected. That would've made it even better, I think. That's sort of how it was with the whole novel. On the whole, it was entertaining, but every aspect needed a little more depth to my opinion.

I know I've mentioned these stories several times, but I must say that I LOVED Lisa T. Bergren's Young Adult medieval series. SO GOOD! I know what you're thinking...young adult? For teenagers? Well, that's kind of what I thought, anyway. As I was reading, not once did I think...this is a teenager book.

In Waterfall (honestly, the titles don't really match the story to me...but anyway), Gabriella (17) and her sister Evangelia (15) are unexpectedly sucked through time by putting their handprints on a wall of an Etruscan tomb. Gabi arrives first, right in the middle of a territorial war between two Italian forces. Thanks to her achaeologist parents, she has all kinds of useful survival skills--sword fighting abilities, knowledge of some languages, and a familiarity with the history of the area. As Gabi is able to find refuge at Castle Forelli (the good guys), she has an instant attraction to one of the Forelli princes, Marcello. Unfortunately, Marcello has been arranged to marry someone else, so Gabi keeps her distance...even though he's "hot". Throughout the story Gabi displays honesty, courage, skill, and so much more. She searches for her sister, fights alongside the Forellis, and helps Marcello's ailing brother. This story is filled with action, romance, and a lot of humor in the form of Gabi's teenage language/perspective. I loved this story so much that I had to buy the next one, Torrent. Gabi and Evangelia return to help Marcello and company fight for freedom. This story is also action packed, with a lot of the same elements as the first book. Except in the second book Gabi and Lia's mother tags along on their trip to the past. I read it really fast. I can't wait to read the third one!

Another Young Adult medieval book is Melanie Dickerson's The Healer's Apprentice. This is a medieval/Christian take on the story of Sleeping Beauty. I thought it was great. Melanie is also coming out with another novel this fall, The Merchant's Daughter. This will be another Young Adult book that is a take on Beauty and the Beast. I can't wait to check it out!

Happy reading, friends!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We're back to school again!

Here are the girls...back to year two of homeschooling! We were all excited to get started again.
Our learning chart...we're studying the different states in the US...among other things.

I had to throw this in. This totally captures his personality. His sister's headband on his head, sunglasses on, soccer ball in his hand, and that signature grin. Love this little guy!

Our first week we learned the verse, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Bethany's big sister, Megan, made us chocolate chip cookies in the shape of the word, "Lord". We tasted and it was good! I thought this was a great way to remember this verse!

Last week we studied Idaho. Our special activity was to do something with Idaho potatoes. On Tuesday we did a painting with potato prints (forgot the camera that day). Then we made baked french fries. First I let the girls taste them raw with a little salt.

As you can see...not a big hit : ).

Then we divided the cut potatoes into two ziplock bags. I put olive oil in both and we seasoned one with a partial pack of Hidden Valley Ranch powder and the other with seasoning salt.

In the oven they went! They turned out so good and everyone loved them! I think we're off to a great start! : ) Keep us in your prayers ;).

God bless~Stacey

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Writing far

It seems a little surreal to me that I'm trying to write a novel. I may have mentioned this before, but looking back on my life writing has played a role...but it was very much in the background. I attended a writing camp when I was in elementary school and enjoyed it. When I was in high school I entered an essay contest with the local newspaper. The first year I tried I didn't win, but the second year I did! My reward for winning--an all expense paid trip to England for 10 days! Yes, it was amazing! It was my first time on a plane and I didn't know a single person on the trip. I still keep in touch with one of the girls I met on the trip and have lots of great memories! When I got to college, I had to learn a new method of writing...not the 5 paragraph method that was drilled into us in high school. It took me forever to catch on, but once I did it made sense. I really embraced it. I think having that experience my freshman year of college helped me in many of my classes the following years.

But, with all that said, writing has not really been important to me until the past year or so. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading over the years, but never considered writing something of my own. I think it all started when a friend of mine asked me to critique something she wrote. It was fun to read her story, but it was also mentally and spiritually stimulating to think about what was being said. When I finished, I expressed an interest in writing something myself, but more along the lines of Christian fiction than non-fiction. She encouraged me to start after the New Year and just do 10 min. a day. That prompted me to start brainstorming on some story ideas. I wrote out some things that interested me and just started writing. Once I started, it just took off. The story seemed to take a life of its own. Twists and turns came about that I hadn't planned. Next thing I knew, I had written over 200 pages! I also felt a sense of mental and creative stimulation that I hadn't felt in a long time. Having this new hobby was good for me on so many levels. Also during this process, I picked up a free book on Amazon. I thought the book was wonderful. At the end there was an email address that allowed you to write the author. I felt led to write her and tell her how wonderful I thought her story was and even included a tidbit about my budding interest in writing. I wasn't expecting to hear anything back. A few months later, I got an email from her and she was so nice and encouraging. She even offered to help me with my writing! That was unbelieveable to me! I started writing her and getting her input on things. She recommended books, blogs, websites, etc. that have been extremely helpful. She even helped me get involved in a writer's group that could help me with research. It pretty much blows me away how many doors God has opened.

Where am I going with this? Well, I'm not sure! I recently entered a writing contest and got some helpful, but critical, feedback. I wasn't at the top of the score sheet by any means, but I know I'm just beginning to learn and have a lot of room to improve. My perspective is that if I want to grow and learn, it might be tough. I'm confident, though, that God's will is going to be done. My goal is to creatively share Christ with others. This is a fun and enjoyable way to do that. One of my contest judges said I was "preachy"--well, amen! : ) I'm going to do all that I can on my end to share the Gospel of Christ...if I can do it through a novel then that will be great! If God closes that door, then I'll try other things. He is in control.

But I really love this writing thing! : ) I also love all of the Christian fiction writers that I've come in contact with through writing notes and commenting on blogs. It seems like a great community of people who love the Lord and want to honor him through their writing. It's a group that I would love to be a part of. Please pray for me as I continue on my journey. I have no idea where it's going to take me, but I have a supernatural peace about it that I know is from the Lord. I know He can give me the skills and knowledge that I need to continue to improve. Thanks for the support! God bless~Stacey

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Taste of Asia

I don't know if it's too soon to have cravings, but they're here. I've been thinking of how good some fresh pineapple, like the kind I could get at any fruit stand in Thailand, would be. That was one of the great things about where I used to live. There was always fresh fruit easily available, fruits that I had never seen before I went to Thailand, and you could walk up to the stand and tell them how you wanted it cut. Then they would put it in a little plastic bag for you, along with a little baggie of spicy sugar and a bamboo skewer that you could use to eat it right them. Yum! I can almost taste it. I've also been craving Thai stir fry with some chicken, kale, cashews...I could go on and on. Yes, it's confirmed, I'm having cravings. Unfortunately, I can't just hop in the car and drive over to the local fruit stand and pay next to nothing for a good treat. I was talking with a friend tonight and she was telling me that there are 3 Asian markets in Warner Robins, GA (about an hour or so away) that sell all kinds of Thai/Asian goodies. I'm thinking there may need to be a trip sometime soon! In thinking of all of this tasty food, I thought I'd pass on a couple of recipes. The first is a great, easy salad that we used to make a lot in Thailand. It's not necessarily Thai, but it's got an Asian flair to it. The other is a recipe for cashew chicken that my American friend who lived in Thailand several years gave me. She's a great cook so I know this probably as close as you can get to what you find in Thailand.

Bok Choy Salad

4 large/6 small servings


1 package Ramen noodles

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or chopped pecans)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 bunches of Bok Choy (lettuce type produce)

3 green onions, chopped

chicken (boiled, grilled, or cooked in a pan)-optional

Dressing ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 red wine vinegar (or plain white vinegar)

2 Tbs. soy sauce


Crumble Ramen noodles and chopped nuts (if using pecans). Spread on a pan and bake at 350 for 10 min, stirring once. Allow to cool. Bring sugar and other dressing ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately and chill in refridgerator. Place cut bok choy and green onions in a large bowl. We liked to fold our bok choy leaves up and cut it into long strips. If you'd like to turn this into your main dish, you can cook some chicken pieces to go along with it. Some rotisserie chicken off the bone would be good on top of this, too! After your bok choy (and chicken if you want) is tossed with green onion, drizzle with chilled dressing. Then add your ramen noodle mix and toss well. Serve immediately. If making ahead of time, make each part separately and chill in the fridge. Toss together before serving.

Cashew Chicken

recipe from Marie


4 chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup cashews-halved (I think we could only get ours raw in Thailand, but the lightly salted kind would probably be ok)

2 tsp. Thai chili paste (may have to visit the Asian market for this!)

1 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. sugar

10-12 peppers (green, red, or yellow...whichever you like!)--you may not want that many unless you really like peppers...I would probably reduce that for my own preference

salt to taste (1/2 tsp)

water as needed

last onion, celery leaves


Stir fry cashews first. Add cut up chicken and onion. Then add water, sugar, butter, paste, salt and peppers. Stir fry until done. Then add green onions and celery leaves. Serve over hot rice (definitely Thai style...every main meat dish is served over hot rice...mmmm!...especially Jasmine rice!)

Hope you enjoy!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to school!

Today was the day! I set my alarm, pushed the snooze a few times, and dragged myself into the shower to try and wake myself up. Thankfully I had everything ready for our first day of school the night before. Except the big breakfast I was planning for the kids. After scrambling around trying to get everyone diaper-changed, dressed, and going, I had to call my friend that we homeschool with and beg for an extra 15 minutes. My kids needed that special breakfast. Especially since we were out of cereal, poptarts, and frozen waffles (that's how it gets around here the week of payday!). But I do have a nice stockpile of pancake mix, so that was my plan. I also have a huge bag of grits that I've been meaning to fix, but who can wait for water to boil?! So...pancakes it was. I love my electric skillet at such a time as this! And, praise the Lord, Sophie finally slept in this morning! I was hoping that she would get more rest last night because she and I have had a rough couple of days. I can tell when she hasn't had enough rest...she's disobedient, irritable, and not her normal self. Today I have my Sophie back--yay!

After I finished up the cancakes (as Isaac calls them) and tried to get the kids to hurry and eat, our homeschooling buddies arrived to start our day. I can't believe the summer has gone by so fast, but it was fun to get started again. We had our little morning routine, listened to Geography Songs, read a Bible story and prayed, and started memorizing our verse for the week. The girls did a great job! It was a great start to our second year and I really think the girls are going to learn a lot! When I mentioned we would do some cooking together, they both got excited. They love to cook and I love to cook with them. I'm already thinking about the fun things we're going to do together and it makes me smile.

On a writing blog I follow, the writer today challenged readers to think about our niche. It's hard for me to describe myself in one certain niche...I have so many interests. I said so on my comment. But, as I write this entry, I can see a little clearer what my niche is. It's right here, being a wife and Mom, homeschooling my child and others. I love it. I feel my creativity come out and I feel joyful. Just like I'm doing what God has prepared me to do. I believe God wants me to disciple others, and I'm able to do that right here in my home. What a blessing! I definitely have lots of interests: reading, writing, cooking, crafting, etc. I'm still going to try and develop and grow in those areas of my life...but...I know I'm fulfilling my greatest calling by ministering to my family. May God grant me His wisdom!

God bless...and happy school year!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh Baby!

Many of you know this by now, but Joe and I found out about a week ago that we were expecting Daniel baby #3! We were very happy and are looking forward to welcoming our newest around the end of March (our due date is April 4th, but we usually have a scheduled c-section before that). So right now I'm dealing with first trimester nausea and tiredness, which leads to some impatience with my little ones. Especially today. When my girlie doesn't get enough rest she can be a bit of a handfull, and as I was not feeling so great, it wasn't our best day. Hopefully she'll get back to her regular sleeping habits (normal wake time=about 9am; away from home wake time=about 7am; =not fun!).

We also found out this week that my first cousin and his wife are expecting right around the same time we are! We're so happy for them and look forward to having little ones around the same time. My other first cousin and his wife are in the process of adoption, so they will hopefully have a little one in the next year or so. Very exciting! We were able to see all of them today at my Grandma's 92nd birthday party. We had a little get-together with family at the nursing home she's at and had a great time talking and catching up. Our extended family has always been close and enjoyed spending holidays, Sunday dinners, and basically any time we can to get together and eat! : ) Today was no exception.

On a slightly different note, I wanted to say, "Oh baby!" after I finished reading "Waterfall: A Novel" by Lisa T. Bergren. This is a Young Adult novel, but I honestly wasn't even thinking about that as I was reading it. This story is also a fantasy...a genre I typically don't just love. But I LOVED this! ; ) It's the story of a young girl of 17 and her sister (15) who are exploring an ancient tomb their archeologist mother is excavating. When they see two handprints that match their own on the wall, they put their hands on top of the prints. Instantly they are transported to hundreds of years earlier in history, but arrive at different times so they are separated. The rest of the story is about their survival during turbulant times, falling in love with some of the young men they meet, and helping others. So many things happen in this story...battles, courage, love, honor, and danger. I couldn't put it down. In fact, I read it in about a day. The end kind of leaves you hanging (it's book one in a series) and I've been trying to figure out how I can get my hands on the sequel, "Cascade". I read the reviews on it and many said it was even better than the first. I can't imagine...but I'd like to find out! When I do, I'll let you know!

Hope you have a wonderful rest of your weekend!


Friday, August 5, 2011

A date with the hubby and some Kindle freebies

I love dates with my hubby. Honestly, at this time in our lives, we're trying to save money so we don't do a lot of movie/dinner dates unless I've got a coupon. If you plan ahead it helps, but we also tend to be a little on the spontaneous side. That's not good if you need a babysitter! : ) I've had in mind that I wanted to go on a date night with the hubby tonight, and I wanted to make it a surprise...but I couldn't get it together. So I suggested that we try to find someone to watch the kids and go to a matinee movie. Thankfully my parents, who live an hour away, didn't mind! We were so happy that we could get away together and see Captain America! Great movie! Had just the right amount of action, tension, a touch of romance, and definitely left me wanting to see what would happen next. We have not paid full price for a movie in ages (we usually only go when I have a groupon or go to the $1.50 movie), but we splurged and had a great time. I would love to pose a question. What are some creative date ideas that some of you have? We tend to stick to the dinner/movie thing, because those are things we enjoy, but it's always good to get some fresh ideas!

On another note, there are several good Kindle freebies right now on! If you don't have a kindle, you can still download the free Kindle books to your PC, Ipad, phone, etc. for free. Most of these are Christian fiction, there are a few mysteries, and some suspense/action. I would suggest that you read the synopsis/reviews to make sure it's the kind of book you would like. I try to be very careful (even though they're free) about the books I download because I want good quality. Then again, if I download something and don't like it, all I have to do is remove it. So here they are:

Revelations by Laurel Dewey

Waterfall: A Novel by Lisa T. Bergren (I read Lisa's "Breathe" a week or so ago and it was so good)

Lye in Wait (murder mystery) by Cricket McRae

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Whitson

The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris (I've reviewed this's great!!)

A Kiss of Adventure by Catherine Palmer

Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman (just finshed this one...very good!)

The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz (I reviewed this one, too...awesome!)

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

Hostage in Havana by Noel Hynd

Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman

Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle

Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry

If you're trying to figure out how to find the free ones, one thing I do is go to amazon and type in the title of a book that I know is free. Below that there is a little menu that says something like "Here are some similar books others have purchased". You can scan through those and there are often some other freebies that are in the same general category. Beware...there are some trashy ones mixed in, too. I've also "liked" a page called "Inspired Reads" on facebook. They list a lot of free and low priced Christian fiction kindle/nook books.

Happy reading!


Monday, August 1, 2011


Dear friends across the United States: I NEED YOUR HELP!

I have a fun idea for us to do during this school year, but I need massive cross-country participation. Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley ( Basically "Stanley", a cutout little guy/girl, is mailed (or nowadays you can just email him...but I like "real" mail) along with a little journal from one classroom to another, with the kids taking pictures with him, mailing little fun things and postcards from the state you mailed it to. Fun, huh? One of my friends in Thailand actually received one once. I thought it was pretty awesome.

This year in school, I've planned for the girls and I to study about the United States. We're going to learn the states and a few little facts about each one. I thought we could also write a few people, maybe try to set up some skype appointments, etc. Then I thought of Flat Stanley. So...we're going to tweak it a little. Instead of sending a Flat Stanley to one classroom and then getting it back, I'd like to make an address chain. I would send our "Stanley" to one family's address and include who they would send it to next. They could send it on to the next address until eventually it would get back to us. My hubby suggested that I send about 4 different ones, starting at different parts of the country, that way the address chains wouldn't be so long. Does that make sense? I think it would be so cool to see how many states our Stanleys would travel to. Especially if each family could include something from their family or state. Hey...this just came to the end of the year we could have a Stanley party! (I love any reason to celebrate!) : )

Please respond to my email address (, to this blog, or facebook if you're interested in being a part of our adventure! If I don't get any responses, I'm just going to start asking people : ). But I would love it if some of you would just volunteer. would only cost a little time and some postage ; ).