Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The TRULY Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookie Review

Let me just say that as a mommy with a love for baking I don’t particularly like commercial made cookies, particularly chocolate chip. Mainly because they never have enough chocolate chips and they are sorta bland in taste.
So when I received these cookies in the mail I did not have high hopes for them. I do like a lot of Kroger brands though, but when it comes to baked goods I'm picky. Then I read this on the box:


    *Chocolate chips are the #1 ingredient
    *Made with REAL butter
    *NO added preservatives or artificial flavors
I immediately figured they would be bland. How could a cookie with all these features be any good in taste? I whipped them out of the box and gave them a try. I took the advice on the box and heated them up in the microwave and…oh…my…goodness! Did I just drool on you? Sorry.
They were so GOOD! Seriously they did taste like homemade! I couldn’t believe it and it still leaves me speechless. You can definitely taste the butter and the chocolate chips were plentiful! No scrimping on the chocolate chippy goodness here!



The best part was when my husband walked in and said: “Oh, you made cookies! They smell good” followed by him grabbing one. After tasting one he said: “I like that you used more chocolate chips this time. Is there enough to take some for my lunch tomorrow?” I just laughed out loud and then showed him the box.
Needless to say the cookies were devoured before I could even snap a picture. Between my husband, son, and I they didn’t stand a chance. An added tip if you try these, have a glass of milk handy to really enjoy. Mmmm!

They are definitely going to make a come back to our house. Even if their stay won’t be long.
Sincerely,
Tori

P.S. If you are curious to try these cookies I would love to give you a coupon for a dollar off. They retail for about $2.79. I only have two coupons so it is first come first serve. Just leave me your email address, and I will email you for further info on where you would like your coupon sent via snail mail. :)


Disclaimer:
As a BzzAgent I was provided the above mentioned product for free in hopes of spreading the word. All opinions expressed are HONEST and are mine alone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for Thanksgiving

I will admit that as of now I have Christmas fever. I have been battling this for the last week and a half. I know others may be suffering from this as well. You, yourself may even be inflicted. See the symptoms below:

-The urge to decorate with lights and Christmas cheer
-The urge to throw up your Christmas tree
-The urge to start in on all the old holiday classic movies such as Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph, It's A Wonderful Life, National Lampoon's Christmas, etc.
-You may find yourself singing Christmas carols at random
...And other similar like symptoms.

If you suffer from the symptoms above I will be happy to announce the cure! FOCUS ON THANKSGIVING!

To me it seems like this year more than ever before Thanksgiving is becoming a forgotten holiday. Rather than focus on the thankfulness we should have we are all more focused on Black Friday and Christmas. As much as I love Christmas and am excited about it, not to mention eager to decorate, I won't let myself forget Thanksgiving. I don't want it to become a forgotten holiday. This year stores are actually going to open for Black Friday ON Thanksgiving night! I am kind of astounded at that. I do plan on getting into some of the Black Friday shopping, but not much. I am just going to be getting a few things that I can save tremendously on that I otherwise wouldn't be able to the rest of the year. It IS a good time to put up for Christmas and save money at the same time. We went last year and saved a total of $255.00 which is like half our rent. LOL
However this year I am not going to beat myself to make the deals. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving, and thanks to Pinterest a lot of our Christmas gifts to family will be handmade. Our family, as a whole, has grown so much over the years it has become next to impossible to buy for EVERYONE individually unless we spent about a grand which we just DO NOT have. I plan on sharing some of my handmade gifts on here as I get them done.
But for now I am leaving up my fall decorations, and looking forward to our feast and family gathering on Thursday. I just can't wait to enjoy in our time together, and me and the hubby are going to be cooking the Thanksgiving meal together. I will be making all the sides and he will be in charge of the ham. Our family members who are coming will be bringing desserts, and my mom is making a turkey. Hubby makes a really awesome ham, and even though I have watched him time and again I still haven't mastered it just yet. I have no shame in letting him make this, he enjoys it and so does everyone else.

There are also tons of Thanksgiving movies to enjoy during this holiday. Here's a few of my suggestions:






Our two family favorites are: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

 I will start decorating for Christmas probably Friday or Saturday of this week, until then I'm going to be Thankful for Thanksgiving and enjoy it. It only comes once a year.


Sincerely,
Tori

Here is a bit of background, (as copied from wikipedia), on Thanksgiving for those interested:

History

Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions.[1] Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community.[1] At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season.[1] When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest.[1] Though the origins of the holiday in both Canada and the United States are similar, Americans do not typically celebrate the contributions made in Newfoundland, while Canadians do not celebrate the contributions made in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[2]



In the United States

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth By Jennie A. Brownscombe (1914)
In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. There is also evidence for an earlier harvest celebration on the continent by Spanish explorers in Florida during 1565, as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony. The initial thanksgiving observance at Virginia in 1619 was prompted by the colonists' leaders on the anniversary of the settlement.[7] The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. In later years, the tradition was continued by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623.[8][9][10] While initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed half of the 102 colonists, the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims by providing seeds and teaching them to fish. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival like this did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.[11]
According to historian Jeremy Bangs, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, the Pilgrims may have been influenced by watching the annual services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, while they were staying in Leiden.[12]

Contending origins

The claim of where the first Thanksgiving was held in the United States, and even the Americas has often been a subject of debate. Author and teacher Robyn Gioia and Michael Gannon, of the University of Florida, have argued that the earliest attested "Thanksgiving" celebration in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565, in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida.[13][14]
Similarly, many historians point out that the first thanksgiving celebration in the United States was held in Virginia, and not in Plymouth. Thanksgiving services were routine in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607.[15] A day of Thanksgiving was codified in the founding charter of Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in 1619.[16]

Fixing the date of the holiday

The reason for the earlier Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada has often been attributed to the earlier onset of winter in the north, thus ending the harvest season earlier.[17] Thanksgiving in Canada did not have a fixed date until the late 19th century. Prior to Canadian confederation, many of the individual colonial governors of the Canadian provinces had declared their own days of Thanksgiving. The first official Canadian Thanksgiving occurred on April 15, 1872 when the nation was celebrating the Prince of Wales' recovery from a serious illness.[17] By the end of the 19th Century, Thanksgiving Day was normally celebrated on November 6. However, when World War I ended, the Armistice Day holiday were usually held during the same week. To prevent the two holidays from clashing with one another, in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on its present date on the second Monday of October.[5] Since 1971, when the American Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect, the American observance of Columbus Day has coincided with the Canadian observance of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in the United States, much like in Canada, was observed on various dates throughout history. The dates of Thanksgiving in the era of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln had been decided by each state on various dates. The first Thanksgiving celebrated on the same date by all states was in 1863 by presidential proclamation. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 20th century. And so, in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln (influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale who wrote letters to politicans for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday), to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states, proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November.[15]
It was not until December 26, 1941, that the unified date changed to the fourth Thursday (and not always final) in November -this time by federal legislation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after two years earlier offering his own proclamation to move the date earlier, with the reason of giving the country an economic boost, agreed to sign a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday on the fourth (not final) Thursday in November.

For other facts about Thanksgiving around the world, in other countries, you can visit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving#Observance_around_the_world

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Restless In Carolina Book Review

After reading the summary of this novel I was quite eager to get my hands on it. It seemed like it would be a down to earth, tangible read and I wasn‘t disappointed. Let me give you a little rundown on the summary:

Bridget Pickwick Buchanan has been angry at God ever since her husband passed away. Unable to break herself from her widow’s weeds and move on with her life she decides to stay rooted in the past. She refuses to talk to God, and even goes so far as to refuse to say the words happily ever after when reading a story to her young niece. She views all admirers as “widow sniffers” and refuses to let a man within ten feet of her.
Her family becomes concerned and tries attempt after attempt to get her to move on with her life as the bitterness takes further hold of her, and she stays rooted in her past.
Being environmentally conscious, Bridget needs to secure a buyer for her families estate. One that won’t turn the property into something as terrible as an industrial park. She decides to approach J.C. Dirk who has many green property developments in the hopes that he will keep her families estate environmentally stable. Dare she even hope for a wildlife retreat? But is J.C. Dirk what he really claims to be? Or will Bridget find herself in the middle of a sore mistake, one that could leave her ruined, and crushed?
It started off a bit slow for me as I think some stuff was explained in too much detail. The book did get a bit off track at times, but not so much so that you would feel lost in the story. After the first few chapters I started getting really into it. By close to the middle of the book I was riveted in the entire story as well as the characters. This is actually the third book in the Carolina series by Tamara Leigh. I haven’t read the other two, and to be quite frank didn’t really even know there were two ahead of this one. This is a great stand alone book. You don’t have to read the other two novels to know what is going on. The book pretty much explains everything and I never felt at all lost. I do plan on reading the first two just for the simple fact that I enjoyed this book so much. I really felt comfortable with Bridget Pickwick Buchanan as she tries to guard her heart as well as keep her families best interests in check. She is a tough and yet kind soul whom isn‘t afraid at all to speak her mind. And I particularly identified with her animal loving tendencies and the need to be herself.

The story was comical at many points, particularly the ones where her niece and nephew were concerned, I couldn‘t help but to laugh at loud. I love that the fictitious characters in this novel relate so closely to actual people in the real world. Time and again we have had things happen in our lives that may have made us question God. Whether we are trying to find our way back to God, or just trying to increase our relationship with him Bridget is easily relatable for many of us. It’s easy to get swept up into the Pickwickians world, and I felt sad when my stay with them were over. You will find yourself feeling as if you are in the midst of the characters, and to me, that is truly a wonderful feeling. I urge you to PEEK INSIDE THIS BOOK HERE and read some of it for yourself. You can also check it out HERE

And if your on Goodreads you can read my review by clicking this link
 


Disclaimer:
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
 
 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ky The Butterfly Book Review



This book was awesome! I loved the limericks contained on each page, and my son was riveted the whole time! The pictures are colorful, and the story is easily engaging for small children.

I loved the plot and story line. Ky the caterpillar admires the butterflies he sees fluttering around him. He starts to wonder what he is, and a little butterfly exclaims that he too is a butterfly. Puzzled Ky tries all kinds of ways to become a butterfly, and tries to force the change. Ky tries all kinds of silly things to force the change, but nothing happens. Devastated that he isn’t turning into a butterfly he wraps himself in a cocoon and goes to sleep. Upon awakening he has beautiful silky wings and is so excited. He can’t believe he actually turned into a butterfly!

This is a great story about change, and I think it goes to show children that sometimes we just have to let things happen on their own. Everything happens in due time, and things do change.
This book fits toddler age - elementary aged children. The pictures are colorful, the limericks are engaging, and the story wonderful. Even though it is about butterflies this novel fits both boys and girls and would be a wonderful read for either. I think it would be a wonderful story to read during class story time as well. It’s easy to follow along with, my son and I were both reading along by the end of the book, and he begged me to read it again and again. So I definetely recommend it, and you can check it out at the following…
 
BUY IT HERE
 
Or even get a little peek inside HERE
 
 
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

4th Birthday Parties

Wednesday has passed and gone, and with it my baby boy's birthday. He is now officially four years old. It makes me happy and yet sad at the same time. Time just flies by! While I love seeing him grow and learn and transform into the little boy he is, I also want to wrap him back up in a baby blanket and have him coo at me within the safety of my nestled arms. LOL

We were wanting to do a really big shindig for his birthday inviting friends, family, and his school friends. HOWEVER, last year for his birthday we did that and it didn't end in very good results. Needless to say a house full of three year old's running amok resulted in a broken vase, puke on the floor, and a toilet stopped up with hot wheels cars. Not to mention one kid actually pooped on our kitchen floor and his mother ended up slipping on it in her rush to try to whisk him to the restroom. It resulted in a sprained tailbone for her and a very messy outfit. The house was so packed with people the kids were getting overwhelmed, and due to one of his presents getting broken Lucas ended up crying in his room that he wanted everyone to go home. He didn't even eat a piece of cake last year.
After that huge debacle, we decided to keep things low key this year. He had a Transformers themed birthday party which he was over the moon about. We only invited family and his little cousins, and it went without a hitch. The only downfall was the place we ordered his birthday cake from got it wrong and there wasn't enough time to have it corrected. We let him pick out his own cake this year, and they didn't make the right one. It was still Transformers though so he still liked it. Next year though I will either go with a different bakery or I will make it myself. He ended up having a great time anyway, he ate two pieces of cake, and nothing got broken. By the end of the day he was so tired he went to bed wearing new transformers pajamas, holding some of his gifts, one including a stuffed horse we got him since he is fascinated by the Harry The Helpful Horse book from Nick Jr's. Little Bill. I would have loved to have invited fellow friends with children he could play with, but I just don't think he is ready for that yet. He does awesome in school, but that is a more stern, sit-down environment. He does awesome when we take him to a kids play area like Chuck-E-Cheese because he knows he can just cut loose, but when everyone is crammed in a tiny space and running amok he tends to shy away from everyone.
I do think he will adjust in his own time though, and as he gets older I think a bigger party would hold more fun for him. Right now though I am just gonna stick with low key parties. Every child is different after all.

I am curious to hear others views on the whole birthday party topic. What age do you think it acceptable to have a big party for your child? Or do you start out with big parties at a young age? How do your kids do? Has any of your children went through a shy phase?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Heaven Is For Real Book Review



This was a very emotional book for me to read. I wasn't quite prepared for what lay between the pages, and I am very moved and uplifted by it all. Not only from Colton's description of Heaven, but of his families strength and faith through it all.

At only three years old Colton Burpo was repeatedly mis-diagnosed with a stomach flu. The family had trust in their local doctors and hoped for the best. In reality his appendix had burst and poison had set in his body. As Colton got sicker and sicker to the point where death was looming around him, his parents decided to get a second opinion. Doctors didn't have much hope for the young boy and hospital staff was instructed not to give the family any encouragement or hope.

During his surgery Colton claimed to have went to heaven. He could name exactly what each of his parents were doing during the time he was under, when there would be no way for him to have known their whereabouts nor activates.

Colton describes meeting "Pop" the great grandfather that died well before Colton was even born. He claims to have met his baby sister, whom his mother had lost in an unfortunate miscarriage. Colton was never told about the loss of an infant in his family, and was able to describe this sister in great detail.

If that isn't astounding enough Colton describes heaven, and Jesus. During the three minutes he was in heaven he did many things, met many people, and even describes sitting on Jesus’ lap while the angels sang to him.
                                                                                     ~

An astounding story of one boy's journey to heaven and back will have you riveted, emotional, and utterly without words. I know from having two young boys myself that there is no way for children of that age to know things that Colton describes about heaven, Jesus, and the events that took place. This is just not the stuff taught in any Sunday school class, and even having a pastor as a father a three year old would not be able to go into detail about the things Colton does. Colton even knows things that are to come and that happened in the past before he was even born. What really gripped me about this story is that, as humans ourselves, we often think that our prayers are unheard. We don't even realize that God DOES hear our prayers and He is always there for us and our loved ones. One thing that I loved also that many of us forget is that we don't HAVE to have fancy prayers, and we need to just let go of our pride sometimes. This book reminded me of one saying that I have heard my entire life, and something in which I continuously try to remind myself: "Sometimes we have to learn to Let Go and Let God". It's very hard for us to do because we always want to be able to control situations, but we just can't. And I think this novel can turn almost any skeptic into a believer. As I mentioned before it was a very emotional read for me, but at the same time it was just beautiful. The descriptions of Jesus, God, and Heaven. And the fact that during this harrowing time Jesus was with Colton, and when his parents couldn't hold and comfort him Jesus WAS! And their prayers were heard, a miracle happened, and God's love for them prevailed. I can't wait to share this novel with as many as I can. I think this is a book that should be read by all. I am so glad I had the privilege to read it, and I urge you to check it out as well. Happy Reading! :)


Check this book out HERE


DISCLAIMER: I was provided this book for free through Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review. Opinions expressed are mine alone.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Mom

New mom

Guest written by our friend Katie Callahan

We had our first baby last month and I am so thankful we got satellite internet from http://www.satellitestarinternet.com/hughes-net/new-york/ because I have no idea what I am doing. I get weekly email newsletters that include tips and summaries of what my child should be doing at each age. I always find myself wondering if our baby is “normal” because I have had no experience with babies until now. I was really excited when I found out I was pregnant and had so many dreams and ideas of what life with a newborn would be like. Little did I know that I would be so sleep deprived and worried about every little thing my baby did or did not do. My mom keeps telling me that no baby is “normal” and that every baby is different. The pediatrician tells me that as long as the baby is getting enough total sleep during the day and night and gaining weight that the baby is fine. I guess I just need to relax and trust that what I am doing is right.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November's Arrival

It's officially November and with it comes excitement, and nostalgia. This month my oldest baby turns four! How the time has flown by! It seems like I had him just yesterday! I am a bit sad over this turning of age, but he is so excited for his birthday that I can't stay sad when I see that sparkling excitement light up his eyes. LOL

We are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner at our place this year for the family. I'm a bit anxious. It's been awhile since we have had a large holiday dinner at our house. Last year we had planned on it, but I was largely pregnant and uncomfortable so we all decided it would be best to do it at the sister in laws. However this year she is in the process of moving, out of town at that, so it would just work out better to do it here. I am nervous, but excited as I have a whole slew of recipes I can't wait to try out as well as make some of our traditional ones. :)

I'm excited about Black Friday. We contemplated not going this year because seriously it is the most hectic of times. It's worse than a department store on Christmas Eve if you ask me. BUT, it is the best time to get some great deals. I found a kid tough camera last year for my son, original fifty dollars-got it for twenty five. He still plays with that thing to this day, and he is getting better at picture taking. Plus I will admit that was one toy where money was well spent. It has faithfully upheld through all the slings and drops. It hasn't fazed it a bit. Plus it's a great time to buy for everyone's Christmas gifts. For the readers of the family I do plan on making some handmade fabric bookmarks as a little bonus.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween last night! In our neck of the woods it was very nippy and we didn't stay out as long as planned. It was getting much to cold for the kiddies, and since we are all still overcoming colds I didn't want everyone to get worse once the chill hit. There was a get together at my aunts house that was very fun and more than made up for the children's loss of trick or treating time. The family gathered and ate great food, passed out candy, and had a great time. Adults talking, kids playing. My son didn't seem that much interested in trick or treating anyway this year. He hates the majority of chocolate candy, and the only candy bar I've ever known him to eat is Kit Kat bars. He will also eat whoppers, but that's about as far as it goes. He was a very polite little man though and when he got the chocolate bars he said "Thank You, Happy Halloween", although when we were leaving each house I did catch him sneaking a peek in his bucket probably trying to estimate how much skittles/gum/twizzlers he had compared to chocolate bars. The littlest babe is eight months old today and he was just excited to have people ooh and ahh over how cute and adorable he was. LOL. I was a bit suprised at how many people this year did not pass out candy though.
However, all in all it was a very fun night.

I have some upcoming reviews to come soon, hope you'll stay tuned and check those out. One book I'm reading right now is just extremely emotional for me, and I can't believe how fast I am reading through it, it's hard to put down. Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Also if any of you fellow bloggers are interested in me placing your button on my blog site just leave a comment with the link where I can go grab the button. I would be more than glad to post your button on my site for a couple of weeks, and maybe it will gain some more traffic. We bloggers have to help each other out after all. :)
Till next time!

Sincerely,
Tori
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