Children’s Book Giveaway

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The book that is up for grabs is I Love You Just Because by Donna Keith. It is a faith-based book that tells children they are loved no matter what. Three different bear siblings are featured: a polar bear, a brown bear, and a panda bear. The bears consider how they are different from one another — for example, the little panda wants bamboo instead of fish for supper — but each bear is reassured that love does not have to be earned. They are loved just because. I think this book would be wonderful for a family with adopted children, but I also like it for my son because I think it’s good to start teaching children young that people can come from different cultural backgrounds. I also want to express to him that I will always love him no matter what. My son, Carson, especially likes the part when the bears go fishing together. The picture at the top of the post shows my son’s “reading rocker.” The rocker is an antique from my parents’ attic, and my mom put Carson’s name on it with wooden craft letters that we painted to match the rocker. As soon as the book came in the mail, Carson sat down in the reading rocker and wanted to re-read it three times together.

Want a copy of the book? Click the link…  A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Publisher’s Description: Through adorable, cuddly art and fun rhyming text, I Love You Just Because will help little ones understand their parents’ love for them and that it doesn’t have to be earned.With playful artwork and the same friendly bear family you already know and love from Donna Keith’s first two books—I Love You All the Same and I Love You Even When—the sweet story of this book will touch you and your family and will remind you that family members love each other– just because. Parents will gravitate toward the felt need and fun messaging of this book as it seeks to help them explain to their little ones that they are truly loved just because. Here is the book’s link on Amazon.

The giveaway is only for residents of the continental U.S. and Canada. Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Enter the Giveaway

An Independence Day Hike

My Sheltie and I took a gorgeous hike through the forest today. It was quiet, misty, and so peaceful. It’s rare that I get to go for a walk without pushing a stroller, so this was a special morning for me. Happy 4th of July!

Slice of Life

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WENT: We’ve gone on lots of little day trips — the Baltimore Aquarium, The National Zoo in D.C., a lazy river water park, Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine, and a quick day trip to the beach. I love little summer road trips. We aren’t going to do a big vacation this year, but we are still packing in a lot of fun.

COOKED: I chopped up red peppers from the farmer’s market and roasted them, and then I added cooked corn, roasted cherry tomatoes (halved), a smidge of olive oil, and some salt, pepper, and paprika. It made a yummy lunch.

I also made a concoction in my crock pot using pantry items that I thought came out pretty good. I used two cans of cannellini beans, two cans of chopped tomatoes, some chicken thighs, a generous sprinkle of dried rosemary and dried onion, and enough chicken stock to just cover everything. I cooked it on high for four hours (you might need to adjust this for your crock pot and take the meat temperature), and then I put out blue cheese to sprinkle on top. You could use goat cheese if you like something more mild, or omit the cheese altogether. It came out really delicious. Most people would probably want to serve this over mashed potatoes or rice, but I wanted to go more low-carb.

READ:

  • Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher — This book was recommended to me by an English teacher, and I thought it was full of great advice for teaching about writing.
  • None Like Him: Ten Ways God is Different from Us (and Why that is a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin — I thought this book was intelligently written, and it looks at God in a way that inspires awe and honor. It has a lot of spiritual depth, but it is also a relatable book.
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama — I read this to my son at Barnes and Noble and thought it was just adorable.
  • My Mother’s Quilts by Ramona Richards (review)
  • A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock (review)

SURPRISED BY: Little “coincidences” that were meaningful this month — in other words, God moments.

LISTENED TO: Lake Street Dive in concert. Also found a neat record shop in Virginia Beach that sold an old Linda Ronstadt album that I adore. Linda Ronstadt is one of my favorite singers to listen to on old records, second only to John Denver, whose voice soothes me like no other – and followed closely by Elvis, just because he is the Big E.

ADVENTURES: Went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) at Virginia Beach during our day trip. They’re doing a Hi-Fructose exhibition right now, and if you like art that stretches your imagination, makes a social commentary (and feels a little out-there), you should check it out. I was really impressed.

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One of the artworks in the MOCA exhibit: Martin Wittfooth, Incantation, Oil on Canvas, 2014.

I’m also planning on hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail with a friend if the weather cooperates with us soon. It has been raining a lot again.

WISHED: Summer would last several more months (lol).

BOUGHT: A Fitbit and the faux gold Nate Berkus stapler from Target that for some reason kept beckoning me in a way that seemed almost silly but absolutely necessary.

FELT: Wistful. This is going to be my last chance to spend time with my son before I go back into the work force. I’m feeling nostalgic and thankful for the freedom of the past several years at home with him. Being a full time mom takes sacrifice, but there is also a huge amount of freedom in deciding how the day will go and in taking cues from my son to make the day the best it can be. Life is going to become a lot more structured now, but I think it’s going to be a new adventure too. It will be a sacrifice to not witness every moment of my son’s days – seeing every milestone is something I treasure – but at the same time, I will need to trust that God will be where I cannot physically be and that the people I’ve entrusted with caring for him during the day will do a wonderful job. I am so thankful that, after earning my master’s degree in May, a job already opened for me.

Happy July!

xoxo Teresa

 

Linking up with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer.

Quilt Giveaway + Review of My Mother’s Quilts

fc3755_625389e815f443ec934fd5b62a1bffdb~mv1thumbnail_Win This Friendship Quilt!

Win one of the quilts featured in #MyMothersQuilts by Ramona Richards! Also up for grabs: loads of other prizes including quilting hand warmers, coloring books, and 25 signed copies of Ramona’s book. Winners will be emailed after the contest ends on June 30, 2016. Click the image to the left to get started!

 

Mama Muse Me’s Review My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith by Ramona Richards is a beautifully printed book, filled with vibrant color photographs of intricate quilts owned or created by her late mother (a master quilter), along with the historical and personal stories behind each one. The pages are thick and glossy, so reading it feels like a treat, and the patterns are beautiful to see. Learning the stories behind each one is fascinating. The book also includes biblical connections, Bible verses to reflect upon, and prayer starters. The way Richards lovingly describes each quilt makes the reader feel like part of her family.

I was really drawn in by the story of a North Carolina quilt from the 1830s or 1840s that had to be buried in a trunk in a barn to keep it from being destroyed. The original colors of the quilt, a bright red and green, had faded to orange and brown — but the colors were still so pretty that I wouldn’t have known they weren’t the original if the book had not explained it. The history nerd in me was also intrigued by how it was determined that the quilt was from the 1830s (wool batting, the handwoven back piece, and a square that appeared only in that decade). Quilts really do tell a story, and they are comforting too.

The book is set up as a devotional, but I recommend taking it to a porch swing, with a cup of tea nearby and reading the short chapters while you take in the summer weather. I like the short passages because I can usually read a few pages before I’m interrupted by my son. This book would also be fun for a car trip.

What drew me to this book? I have always been fascinated by quilts and sewing in general, even though I can barely sew a straight line on a sewing machine myself. My grandmother used to sew proficiently and even worked in a sewing factory at one point in her life, so I feel the connection to my female roots when I read a book like this. I’m also someone who is drawn to the aesthetic beauty and patterns in the quilts. I love stories, and quilts are full of history and stories. I may not have the skill myself, but I have a strong appreciation for the women who do. I took a quilting class when my son was about a year old, and I produced a quilt that I am really proud of. It still hangs on my wall. Honestly, I probably will never attempt to make another quilt again (lol). Though my quilt is not intricately patterned like the quilts in this book, it still gives me a sense of “I did it” and brings me back to memories of when my son was that age.

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The quilt I sewed when Carson was one year old.

About the Book’s Author: Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten. Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online at ramonarichards.com. She does a beautiful job at honoring her mother’s legacy in this book.

To my wonderful readers, thank you for stopping by my blog again, and have a wonderful summer! Don’t forget to enter the quilt giveaway:) xoxo Teresa

Soul Tunes

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Energetic joy pulses through Phil Wickham’s new CD, “Children of God.” Ever since the CD came in the mail this week, I have been listening to it three or four times a day — and that says a lot because I am picky about my tunes. The first morning that I played it, my three-year-old son started dancing to “Your Love Awakens Me.” I took a break from folding the laundry to dance along with him. What a good way to start the morning!

For me, this CD has a great combination of upbeat enthusiasm and of worshipful reverence. The praise band at the church I attend sings “This Is Amazing Grace,” from a previous album of his. I highly suspect that praise bands around the country will be inspired by this new CD too.

I typically listen to pop, country, indie, classic rock, and occasionally Christian music. When I do find a Christian CD I like, it stays in heavy rotation. The last Christian CD that I played this much was Erica Campbell’s “Help.” I  also really like Rend Collective. When someone recommends Christian music that sounds amazing, I take note, and I would say this CD ranks right up there with my favorites. In terms of sound and songwriting, “Children of God” is a substantial album.

It has been three years since Wickham has put out a CD. In fact, in 2014 he didn’t know whether or not he would ever be able to sing again. His dependence on God through that period of struggle led to some beautiful music. I was sent this CD in return for my honest review. If you would like to check out the new album, it is available on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify.

 

:) Groove on…

Teresa

 

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately

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This has been the rainy view from my front porch for about three weeks. So thankful the sun is shining this morning!

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EXCITED ABOUT: My husband ordered me a trike as a graduation present for earning my master’s degree this month. I rode it for the first time last night and had a great time once I found a spot that was mostly flat! I never learned to ride a bike, and I had scoliosis surgery when I was 12, so I have rods in my back. If I fall off a regular bike, it would probably have to go to a doctor – so this is my way of having the freedom of riding a bike without worrying. Coasting downhill is pretty awesome on this, and my son even rode in the back basket for a little bit. Going uphill with this bike… not so easy (lol). I want to look into getting some gears put into it sometime, but for now, I really like it.

COOKED: My go-to healthy recipe right now is cauliflower soup. I saute a couple shallots with olive oil in my dutch oven for a few minutes, add a head of cauliflower broken into florets, and continue to saute for about four minutes. Then I add homemade bone broth (I make mine in the crock pot overnight) or a box of chicken stock if I don’t have time for bone broth, along with a good sprinkle of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne, nutmeg, and s&p. I bring the pot to a boil and then simmer it for about 20 minutes. Next, I put the soup into the food processor in batches and puree until smooth. I top my bowl of soup with dried chives, tarragon, red pepper flakes, and a few croutons. I eat this for lunch pretty often.

My favorite recipe that I always recommend to people is engagement chicken. Also, I came up with a burger concoction that my husband likes recently. I make grass-fed burgers, top them with sauerkraut and melt muenster cheese on top. I serve that with a toasted bun and thousand island dressing. It’s a riff on a Reuben.

DRANK: My favorite thing to drink right now is Blackberry Tea from Logan’s Steakhouse. It has lemon, lime, and blackberry in it. It’s really good! It would be pretty easy to duplicate at home.

BIBLE JOURNALING:  I am reading along with 10 Minutes a Day for God. Here’s the link to the first day’s email if you would like to read along too. I’m taking a break from posting my journaling on my blog each week for awhile because I want to focus on God rather than meeting a certain quota. I promise I will post more Bible journaling later though!

READ: I’m currently reading an inspiring, refreshing Christian book, Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Haley Morgan, on my Kindle. I’m going to be posting a review on my blog soon. I am definitely being blessed by the wisdom in this book. I was also really happy with the Women’s Fitness magazine with Gina Rodriguez on the cover this month (love her). Mary Oliver’s new book of poetry is wonderful too.

LISTENED TO: I thought this podcast of The Simple Show about spiritual practices was excellent. I’ve been listening to Steve Martin and Edie Brickell a lot. I saw their musical, Bright Star, at the Kennedy Center in December and fell in love with it.

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ADVENTURES: We went to Medieval Times for Mother’s Day and cheered for the red knight. Moms got in for free for Mother’s Day this year. My son loved seeing the horses and the falcon, and he was obsessed with the little flashing star sword that we bought him to wave.

WISHED: For a pair of wide-calf rainboots. I still have not found a pair that I like, and it seems like none are getting great reviews on Amazon.

ENJOYED: Our library is offering Quigong classes, and I tried a free one this week. It’s sort of like Tai Chi, but I think it’s easier. While I did the Quigong class, my husband played with my son in the children’s section of the library. It was a fun evening for all of us. Since I have rods in my back, I’ve always felt left out by all the people doing yoga, but this is something I can do with my back, so the class was affirming.

MADE: I’m catching up my Project Life scrapbook with lots of photos and memories. Project Life is a quick and cute way to do memory keeping.

WORKED ON:  Potty training. Enough said.

BIG GOAL: I am walking 20 miles each week with the Leslie Sansone 5 Mega Miles DVD. I think this is one of Leslie Sansone’s best DVDs, and I own several of her others. She incorporates HIIT training and resistance bands. I can always do all the moves on Leslie’s DVDs without having to modify them for my back.

pete catBOUGHT: A swing so that my son and I can swing outside together. I also bought a cute board game called “Pete the Cat” that I’ve modified so that my son and I can play together. He likes to use the spinner, count the right number of buttons to put in his jar, and tell me what colors the buttons are. When he gets a little older, I figure I will teach him how to play it the right way. The game looks like an artwork.

FELT: Inspired by this image of planets that NASA found. The article is here.

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DISCOVERED: The phrase “choose joy” has been meaningful to me lately. It is a choice to make daily.

Hope your spring is off to a good start.

xoxo Teresa

What I'm Into

Reflecting

I’ve enjoyed sharing my Bible journaling journey with you over the past four months. Hopefully you have been encouraged through the winter. It has been fun to express my faith in this way; Bible journaling has brought me comfort and challenged me at the same time.

As summer approaches, I’ve decided to take a break from my weekly Bible journaling posts. I want to enjoy the warm days with my son, cherish our time together, and Bible journal just for personal reflection as the spirit leads. I plan on writing some posts and doing book reviews over the summer, so you will still hear from me. In the meantime, looking back, here are a few of my favorites from the past four months.

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On a personal note, I am just wrapping up my master’s degree, so this summer will be a much needed break. After church yesterday, my family went out for Thai food and then saw a new Mucha exhibit at a local art gallery, which was definitely inspiring to me. My favorite piece in the exhibit was the magazine cover below. It depicts Literature as a woman in red and Journalism as the woman in white, with her writing supplies propped on a globe. What a beautiful concept.

1909 'Cover of 'The Literary Digest'

 

Have a lovely Monday!

Teresa

This is Joy

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6


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This is my first ever abstract painting. For a first try, I think it came out pretty good. At times I wasn’t sure if it was going to look right or be a muddy mess because I really do not know what I am doing (haha). The Bible verse I chose for this week is a reminder to have joy in the chaos. God began a good work, and he will see it through.

xoxo Teresa

Hope.

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Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This entry in my Journaling Bible is short and sweet, but I think simplicity can be a good thing. I used watercolors and a marker to make the feather. I tend to gravitate toward verses with the word “hope” in them, and this is a good one!

If you are interested in Bible journaling, I encourage you to check out a new Tuesdays to Create Bible Journaling Challenge . You don’t need a Journaling Bible to do this, by the way, even though it is really fun to have one. Any notebook will work as long as you have access to a Bible or a Bible app to look up the verses. I’ve signed up for Tuesdays to Create, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great Monday.

Teresa

A Fine Imitation: Book Review

urlSet in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.

Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus–the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.

Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera’s curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan’s warmth and passion, Vera can’t suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too–and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.

When the dangerous mysteries of Emil’s past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice–whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.

When I originally heard that the novel would be set in the 1920s, I pictured flappers and a fun, carefree plot. Instead, A Fine Imitation focuses on a young socialite who is very caught up in society’s expectations and whose lifestyle and fashion are nowhere near flapper-like. The main character, Vera, complains a lot about the boorish company that she has to be around all of the time, but the constant lamenting makes her seem as boorish and boring as the people she criticizes. On one hand, the author’s decision to portray people who are elite, rather than flappers, was unexpected and intriguing for a 1920s story. On the other hand, the characters just were not as interesting as I had hoped. Vera’s best friend at the beginning of the novel has the right spark and sets a jovial tone, but when Vera is separated from her friend, she seems one-dimensional, other than the fact that she knows a lot about art and has a great appreciation for it. The painter who sweeps Vera off of her feet is not particularly likeable throughout the story because the reader feels suspicious of him until much later in the novel. By the end of the book, I was curious to find out what would happen to Vera and Emil; they did grow more likeable. As a person who appreciates art, I enjoyed all of the descriptions of art and how the descriptions revealed the way Vera saw the world. Vera is a character who is deeply moved by art. Overall, the novel did keep me curious until the end, but if you are a person who enjoys plot-driven writing, I would not recommend this novel for you. It definitely takes a slower, more self-examining pace. The amount of social rules are stifling, and the reader roots for Vera to break free. I received this novel from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review.

xoxo Teresa

Wild and Free

240_360_book-1939-coverAt first glance, wild and free seem like two words that do not describe my season of life. As the mom of a toddler, wild involves play dates, potty training, and dancing to the Chuck-E song at Chuck-E-Cheese, and free involves trying not to spend money on a tight budget. I’m also on the shy side. So yeah, wild and free are not the first words that come to mind when I describe myself (honestly, I love this stage of life, even if it is not wild or free in the way society might define the word). Yet, I was drawn to the book Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan because I wanted to hear more about how wild and free can be reclaimed as part of a Christ-centered outlook.

Book Description:

For all the fullness of God available to His daughters, we often feel limited by two defining insecurities: “I am too much,” and “I am not enough.”

Co-authors and best friends Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have felt the same, until one essential question turned the tables on it all: If God is wild and free and he created women, what does this mean for us today?

Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.

Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t have to try so hard to button it up and hold it together. And you certainly don’t have to quiet the voice that God gave you when he created you to sing. Wild and Free will help you shake off the lies of insecurity in your life, and step forward to maximize your God-given influence for his glory and the world’s good.

In terms of self-talk, I typically fall on the “I am not enough” side of the fence. I may feel like I’m not enough in certain situations — but I’m reminded that Christ is. The book encourages women to be wild and free in terms of following the direction of Christ in their lives, looking to Him for guidance instead of seeking the world’s approval. The book provides a lot of much-needed biblical encouragement, even for someone who might not initially describe herself as wild or free.

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Book Look Bloggers provided an e-book to review in return for my honest opinion. Have any questions about the book? Feel free to ask.

Teresa

Curious about Acrylics?

I took a few art classes in high school and an art appreciation course in college, but one of the ways I keep learning about art is through books like this one. This is my way of vicariously going to art school  (wink).

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Summary: School of Visual Arts instructor James Van Patten draws from years of experience to show you how to use acrylics to achieve a variety of results—from watercolor-like transparency and the flatness of tempera and gouache to the buttery quality of oils. He presents an insider’s look at the most up-to-date tools, materials, and techniques used by top painters in the medium to produce highly expressive art. Van Patten offers guidance on materials, processes, balance, and composition, and focuses on effectively using color in painting. Replete with detailed step-by-step technical demonstrations and a catalog of inspiring works by notable past and contemporary artists, as well as the author himself and his students, The Acrylic Painter provides a complete, classic art instruction manual for painters of all abilities in one of today’s most popular types of paint.

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Forever by James Van Patten

My thoughts: For me, the fun part of the book starts when Van Patten writes about color theory, various schools of art, and basic techniques to get started. His advice about painting still life, landscape, and modern art provided a few “aha” moments, especially because I’ve been intrigued by abstract art lately. The way Van Patten explains how color theory and other elements are used in classical paintings, as well as in his own paintings, is instructional and interesting. I understand the importance of quality products, but getting through the in-depth description of the various brushes and paints at the beginning of the book was tedious and uninspiring for a beginner on a limited budget. However, that section could become a good reference for purchasing supplies in the future. As a beginner, I appreciated the techniques portion and thought it could have gone into even more depth. Blogging for Books provided a review copy of this book in return for my honest thoughts.

Have an artsy day!

Teresa