Saturday, October 31, 2009

And The Winner . . .

. . . of the Progresso soup pack is . . . . . . . . . The Butler's Wife! Yay Becky! Please email me your address and Progresso will have your package in the mail. Enjoy!

Chuck picked the winner this time. I told him to pick a number between one and seven and he picked three.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's a Good Time of Year for Soup

So recently I have signed up to do reviews on my blog for a couple of publishing companies and an advertising company. I thought I would try it out - mostly because they send me free stuff. This works for me really well because 1) I like getting packages in the mail, and 2) I like getting free packages in the mail.

I am a tad bit worried about it though because I don't want to turn my readers off. I don't want you to click on my blog and say something like, "Oh great, another advertisement." And then you might never come back again. And that would make me sad. Very sad. And it would not be worth even 10 packages of free stuff in the mail on the same day.

Therefore, if my reviews don't meet your taste, feel free to tell me. Or don't read them. But please come back because I promise I won't always be an advertisement. And one fun thing is that you might be a winner and get a free package in the mail too. Like today. At the bottom of this post. And another thing - my reviews will always be the honest truth. If I like it I will tell you. And if I don't - I will tell you.

Today I was invited to review a new soup from Progresso Soups. They are introducing a new line of "high fiber" soups and want to know what people are thinking. So they sent me a can of their new Chicken Tuscany soup with two fun soup mugs with matching spoons.

They didn't know this, but they had me at the words Chicken Tuscany. Doesn't that sound just so, so eclectically Italian? I love it!

My youngest daughter happened to be home scrounging through the pantry looking for something to eat and something to take back to her dorm to stock her cupboards with. She found the can of soup and the first thing she noticed was the words "high fiber" on the label. She follows a low-carb diet and she is a label reader. She made herself a bowl and after she finished it her exact words to me were " this is good. If you have any coupons for this you should buy some more."

I was never prouder. I am teaching her to be a good couponer and it sounds like she is catching on.

I brought the rest of the soup to work with me today in my lunch. Along with a tuna sandwich. And I will just be honest with you and tell you that it was very good. Very, very good. The first thing I noticed was that it had a nice thick broth. I don't care for thin broth soups. It also has lots of white beans in it. I'm not huge on beans - it's a texture thing - but these beans were very soft and they didn't bother me a bit. I also noticed and liked the spices in it - it had a very robust flavor that held true to its name - Tuscany.

I will definitely buy it again. When I have a coupon. And there are three other kinds of the new high fiber soup that I will look forward to trying as well; Creamy Tomato Basil, Hearty Vegetable and Noodles and Homestyle Minestrone. But none of those sound as good as "Chicken Tuscany" does. I think you should aslo know that these soups have 28% of the recommended Daily Value of fiber per serving (7 grams).

Now - here is the fun part for you. Progresso would like to send one of my readers the same gift pack they sent me -soup, soup mugs and spoons. So all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what you very favorite soup is and I will draw the name of a winner on Saturday.

And then it will be you who gets a package of free stuff in the mail. And you don't even need a coupon.

Progresso provided me with the free product, information, and prize pack through MyBlogSparkTM

Getting Closer. . .

The paper chain before:

The paper chain now:

Be still my heart!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Felted Acorns

If there is one thing I have been reading on everybody's blogs this month, it's how much we all love autumn. I think if we took a poll, autumn would definitely be on the top of the list. I love it best for so many reasons and one of those reasons is there is just something about it that brings out the domestic side of me. Cooking, cleaning and decorating my little nest become priorities to me again after a long and hot summer. I had fun this weekend making these sweet felted acorns. They are really easy, although you do have to know how to knit. Nothing fancy, just simple knitting. And it's really quick and easy.

I saw these little acorns on Susan B. Anderson's blog. That Susan, she is something else. I don't think there is anybody who can come up with such sweet little ideas like she does. I have both her books and I hope I'm getting her newest one for my birthday. (Chuck - this is a hint!)

When she made these acorns, she ordered the felt beads from a company. But I wanted to make them this weekend and I figured they would have to be pretty easy to make, so here is what I did.

I have had some 100% wool yarn tucked away for a while. This yarn was Manos del Uraguay, but any wool yarn will do - as long as it not to be washed or dried. I chose a few colors and cut approximately a yard from each one.

I then cut the 3 yard piece into smaller 3 inch sections so it would be easier to handle.

The next step takes the longest. You have to "unspin" the yarn. Just pull it apart until you have a pile of fluff. I know you can buy wool like this, roving it is called. But I didn't want to go shopping to find some. I wanted to work with what I had on hand.

Now the fun part. Fill a bowl with very hot water and add just a drop of soap. I found it worked better to just do one at a time - don't put all the fluff in the water.

When it is all wet take it out of the water and roll it in your hands like playdough. What begins to happen as the water squeezes out is that the wool turns into felt. And it shapes into a ball as you roll it. You want the balls to be about 2 cm so you might have to experiment with how much fluff you start with.

I had a little helper. Do you see her little pigtails? I could eat this little marshmellow up I tell 'ya.

When you are finished shaping the felt balls, dip them int some ice water to "shock" them.

Then set them out to dry.

You can find the simple pattern to knit the acorn tops on Susan's blog right here. They are so simple and take maybe 15 minutes to make each one. I just love them and plan to make a few more.

Wow, as I am sitting here the wind just started blowing about 100 mph and the leaves are blowing so hard there is hardly any visibility. There is a front moving in and there is even talk about some white stuff being on the ground in the morning. What a perfect evening to hunker down and knit some acorns!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Excellent News

So I haven't yet shared my excellent news on the blog. I have been so happy and excited since I found this out.

Last week Michelle gave me an early birthday present and told me that instead of only being able to be home for two weeks in November, they will be staying until January!

I couldn't believe it as this means that they will be here for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. And sweet Tyler will actually get to know us and we will actually get to know him. He will learn that we are not just people that live in a computer. (He talks to people on the tv too because in his little world, these people are all talking to him!). We will get to hold him and snuggle him and read to him and play with him. He will get to play with Ava Claire and how fun will that be to watch those two together?

And the paper chain - the paper chain is down to 17 links. 17!!! I ♥ paper chains.

I am beyond excited as you can probably imagine. So I am in the midst of planning. Planning menus, planning activities, planning room arranging so we all fit comfortably in our home, planning family get-togethers, planning Christmas gifts, planning, planning planning.

It is a good place to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kiss Me Again

Today is a blogging book review day. I am reviewing "Kiss Me Again" by Barbara Wilson. This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

I have been our church's wedding coordinator for several years and have had the pleasure of assisting my husband in performing weddings both in and out of our church. Mostly it is fun and exciting. Always it is a lot of work :)

But I have noticed a trend over the years that bothers me. It bothers me as a woman, as a wife, and as a Christian. I have noticed that there has been a huge attitude shift towards living or sleeping together before marriage. It just isn't that big of a deal to people anymore. I realize that this is something that has always happened, but it used to be that even though people did it - they still knew it was wrong and felt guilt over it. Nowadays there are many people who either don't care or don't think that it is wrong. Some women get pregnant and wait to get married until the baby is born because they still want a big wedding someday - it's all about the beautiful dress and fancy party. Much more thought and planning is given to the wedding than is the actual marriage. This is happening out of the church and sadly it is happening in the church.

God designed the sanctity of marriage for many reasons. It doesn't matter if we agree with Him or not - it is God's decree. His requirement that we wait until marriage is actually a loving form of protection He has provided for us. He desires to protect our hearts and our spirits. God isn't just making up a bunch of rules for us to live by because He wants to be a tyrant. He knows us and He knows how we work. He knows what will damage us and He desires the best for us. But somehow when our society thinks of "laws" and "rules" we think of oppression and submission. We want to do it our own way, our own situation is "different" and we go on our own way not even realizing how we are inviting all kinds of harm and hurt into our hearts. We choose to only live in the moment.

Barbara Wilson, in her book "Kiss Me Again" addresses all the issues that intimacy before marriage bring after the marriage. She shares how she has counseled many women who now in marriage relationships have lost their desire for intimacy. This book is also a "workbook" that teaches you how to break free from the invisible bonds our past choices/experiences have placed upon us.

Barbara Wilson has vast experience in this area. She has also written The Invisible Bond and is the former director of sexual health education for the Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center in Sacramento. She speaks nationwide to youth and adults with her message of sexual healing, and she teaches frequently in the women’s ministry at the multi-campus Bayside Church in Northern California.

While this topic isn't one that is easy to talk about, there is a great need for it. This isn't a light read. If you struggle with your past se*x*ual history you will find this book helpful. Perhaps this book would be a catalyst to opening conversations within women's Bible study's and prayer groups. Every church library would benefit by having this book available. If you would like to purchase it for yourself or your church library you can go here, here, or here.
Waterbrook press has also given me a copy of this book to give away. If you would like a copy of this book, email me a rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu. The first email I get will get the book and I will not announce a winner on my blog. Confidentiality, you know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And We Have A Winner

Actually you are all winners. But the random number generator could only pick one of you to win the book, "The Sound of Sleighbells" and that winner is . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Karen at Over the Backyard Fence!

Congratulations Karen. Email me your address and I will pop it in the mail on Monday.

And there will be more book reviews and prizes to come.

The Sofa Pony

The other day Poppa came bursting through the front door all excited. He had found a "great buy" and he couldn't wait to share it. Hearing all the ruckus, I came into the living room from where I had been in the kitchen just in time to see him plop a saddle (yes, the kind you put on a horse) on to the sofa.

"Um....what is that?" Even though I knew what it was, I just couldn't think of any other words to say.

"It's a saddle. A kid's saddle. A grandkids saddle. It is perfect for Ava Claire and Tyler." He stood back with his hands on his hips as he surveyed his proud acquisition with a grin.

"Well yes, I guess it would be perfect for them. What'cha gonna do with it?" I asked him rather half-heartedly as I already suspected the answer.

"I'm going to leave it right here because Ava Claire will be here tonight and we can try it out." And they did.

I'm not sure I have ever seen a barefoot ballerina riding a sofa pony in a tutu before. It was a sight to behold. The fun lasted for quite a while and eventually Miss Ava Claire had to leave to go home.

"So, now I suppose you are going to move this saddle out to the tack room, right?"

"Well, no. I thought we might leave it here for a while. For, you know, when Ava comes over. And Tyler will be here next month. No sense just moving it in and out."

No, I suppose he is right. It makes NO sense to put the saddle in the barn. It makes PERFECT sense to leave the saddle on my sofa balanced on my two sofa pillows.

The saddle has sat here for days now. Never mind that it takes up a whole seat. Never mind that it does not match any decor. Don't worry that it is crushing my pillows. Poppa was right, Miss Ava Claire loves her sofa pony.

I think we have come to a compromise. Poppa finally got his workbench completed in the garage and has been looking for his first wood project. He has decided to build a large rocking horse that will look nice in the living room. He intends to build it in such a fashion that the saddle can be stored on the rocking horse.

He is excited.

I am dubious.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Perfect Weekend and a Giveaway at the End of This Post

It is Monday and I am back at work. Usually I come back to work and recover from my weekend. Life in the ministry does not ordinarily come with relaxing weekends. But this weekend......this weekend was different. It was perfect. Here is how it went:

Friday night I went to dinner with a girlfriend. We spent hours just talking about girl stuff. What fun! Do you know how long it has been since I have gone out with a girlfriend? I can't even remember - that's how long it has been. I am determined to change that. We had a great time and it made for a perfect Friday evening.


No alarm clock.

Three cups of coffee with my husband in front of the fireplace.

Prayer time together with my husband.

I went to my sewing room to work on a baby quilt. He went to the garage to build a workbench- a project he has wanted to do for 10 YEARS.

Coffee break together.

Back to our corners. I finished my baby quilt. He finished his workbench.

Celebrated our accomplishments over coffee with cookies this time.

Gave one of the dogs a bath and a quick hair cut.

Ran to the store to buy dinner at the deli.

Knit the rest of the evening while watching tv.

A perfect Saturday.


Coffee and prayer in front of the fireplace again.

Put a roast in the oven.

A great church service.

Dinner with the kids.

Played with Ava Claire.

Cut out coupons.

Played with Ava Claire.

Baked some cookies.

Played with Ava Claire.

A perfect Sunday.

Somewhere in there I also found time to finish a book. Awhile back I received an email from Waterbrook Multnomah Press wondering if I would be interested in receiving some free books. There was a small catch - I just had to review the books on my blog. Oh, and then if I wouldn't mind, would I give a free book to one of my readers.

It took all of about 10 seconds to make up my mind about that. So here we are. Oh, and excuse me a minute while I take care of a bit of legal business.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Okay, on to the business at hand.

The Sound of Sleighbells by Cindy Woodsmall Amish life, tragedy, mystery, mistaken identity and the angst of love are all a part of Cindy Woodsmall's latest novel, The Sound of Sleighbells. Beth, a young and beautiful woman who is living in grief long after what is deemed the appropriate amount of time following the death of her fiancee', has a secret. And this secret is about to do her in. At least that is what her spinster aunt believes. So she takes matters into her own hands. In another Amish community a young man, Jonah, is slowly recovering after a tragic accident in his own life. His gift of wood carving has brought much healing into his life. But he never imagined it could be used in the healing of another as well.

I have always loved Christmas books. In fact I have a collection of Christmas stories that I pack away with all my ornaments and I bring them out each year to enjoy again during each Christmas season. Cindy Woodsmall's book is the type that can be enjoyed sitting in front of the fireplace while drinking a mug of cider. It is a light read with a storyline that is rather predictable, but nonetheless it leaves you with a satisfied feeling. It's Christmas-y conclusion is just right to enjoy during the holiday season. If you enjoy reading books of the Amish genre - you will enjoy this story.

If you would like to purchase this gift, perhaps for a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, just click here, or at CBD or Amazon.

Or even better, if you would like to win a copy of The Sound of Sleighbells, how about if you leave me a comment telling me what your favorite Christmas book is. Or movie. What book or movie do you have to read or watch every December before the season feels just right to you? I will add your name to a random drawing that will take place on Friday, October 19.

Monday morning. Basking in the memory of the perfect weekend. Talking to my blog friends. Giving away a book. So far, this has all the markings of a perfect Monday!