Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Love Letters - By Beverly Lewis - an Amish Fiction Book

My review of The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis.

Marlena needed time to let things sink in. It was beyond her how all this could possibly work out--adding the care of an infant to her daily routine. Fortunately, it would just be until Luella returned home from the hospital and was stronger. 
No more than a couple weeks, surely.
Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby. Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.

My Review
Beverly Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and being a big fan of Amish fiction books I always enjoy her novels. Her characters are always so well described I can picture them, their mannerisms and their personalities in my mind. I really love it when a book comes alive like that!
This book was no different. Marlena is a character you want to both love and shake some sense into! Caught between joining her parents in their new found faith that brings them so much joy, and the old order Ordnung ways of her beau, it's so nice to see the way she develops through the story, becoming more of a woman, less of a girl.
The story with the baby is a wonderful one too and literally had me in tears at the end of both sadness and joy.
As always, this one was hard to put down and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The characters, settings and problems all came alive, as did the stories that intertwined them all. A really great, clean read that you can enjoy and feel okay putting on the bookshelf for your teen to pick up too :)

You can get a copy for yourself in paperback or an ebook copy on the Bethany House website here, or by visiting Amazon here

Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#Free #Minecraft Charts for #Springcleaning Chores!

Awesome Minecraft Deals!
Get some FREE Minecraft printable chore charts
Seriously - what better way to get your kids to clean :)
Maybe use some extra Minecraft time as incentive...

if that wasn't enough Minecraft for your kids - get them to do some extra reading too!
Check out this great Minecraft book deal from Educents - my son has one of the chapter books and I think he's read it about 5 times already since Christmas!
You can get the whole set for 37% off

*psst - this post contains some affiliate links! 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Super Simple, Super Moist Chocolate Fudge Brownies Recipe

If there is one thing in this world I cannot resist its chocolate. Oh, and coffee! Mmm, and maybe some nice, fresh date squares too - just to complete my favorites list :) But chocolate is certainly at the top. Along with chocolate comes brownies - one of my favorite desserts! And I just love those super dense boxed brownies from the grocery store - you know, the ones with all the bad kinds of ingredients ! They are sooo good!

But whenever I set out to make my own batch of brownies at home, I always find that they come out too fluffy, like a cake more than a brownie. So after trying loads of recipes over the years, I came up with one myself that I think takes the cake - or at least takes the cake out of the brownie :)

If you love those little brownies that I'm talking about, then you're going to loooove these as much as I did! They are dense, choclatey, moist...

and best of all, easy to make! Plus I have a super simple frosting recipe to go with it! Follow the recipe below and make sure to let me know how they turn out :) I've made them twice now but am trying not to make them too often - shorts season is right around the corner.


To print recipes, just right-click the images below and open in a new tab :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Things to Never Stop Doing With Your #Kids

5 Things to Never Stop Doing with your Kids (even when they're grown)

Kids grow up fast!
We all know the saying, and we as parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and more live it every day - we see the children in our lives grow up all too quickly. 
My son will be turning 13 this year - a teenager! - when did THAT happen?!

But as our children grow, it's important to keep our relationships growing along with them. From toddler tantrums to the doldrums of adolescence, our job certainly doesn't get easier, but it does get less involved. We don't need to watch them every minute, and they don't our hands to hold them up on walks anymore (sniff sniff!)

So how do we keep nurturing that all-important relationship? Even as both we and our children change over the years, there are always ways to keep the proverbial door open. If you want to develop lifelong relationships with your children, it takes work just like any other relationship - but it is well worth it in the end when you are gifted with grandchildren, a legacy and knowing that you brought some really awesome people into the world.
And so, here are 5 things you should never stop doing with your kids (even when they're grown!) to keep that connection alive.

Saying 'I Love You"
Yes it seems like a given, but as kids get older it often gets said less and less. But just like it's important to remember to feed your kids nourishment (food) for their bodies to grow, it's important for them to be fed emotionally too. Saying those three little words, even when they're met with eye rolls, will all add up like coins in a bank. After all the dramatic years, you get to cash them in with great returns!

Trying New Things
It's fun to show your little baby the world and help them experience all new things, like a first snowfall or discovering the joy of gliding own a slide. But as they get older they will inevitably want to make new discoveries with their friends - great restaurants, movies, music. But it is still possible to share fun experiences with them, and make great memories. 
I love it when my parents or my in-laws include us in great experiences. Next time you go somewhere fun, why not make another trip and invite your (adult) kids? It's a great chance to catch up and be together in a different environment, and keep the fun part of your relationships alive.

Laughing Together
If there is one great thing about social media, it's the ability to share everything - and I must confess that I am totally guilty of (over)sharing funny posts or videos I find on my Facebook feed everyday. I often find things that I think my family would find funny and share it - and I love it when they do the same! This is not only a fun way to relax for a few minutes, but could be a great opportunity to connect with your teen. Share a funny post there, a funny childhood story in person, or play a silly board game that makes you all laugh.

Sharing the Things you Love
When our children are little it's fun to let them in on the things we love to do. Afternoons spent doing crafts, reading on the couch or digging around the garden are all fun to teach and enjoy together. But that doesn't have to stop once they get older! Activities change of course - I don't think there's many adults who still want their Mom to read them a bedtime story ;) - but teaching your kids favorite recipes, handy skills like woodworking or needlecraft, and even just general how-to-run-a-household lessons you've learned over the years, can all be wonderful ways to share with your older child. You'll be making great memories and passing on a legacy of love, openness and patience to future family members!

Just Saying Hi!
Calling someone even just a decade ago was the way most people chose to communicate. Today with so much technology lying around that allows us to communicate through texts, e-mails and instant messages, we tend to forget how nice it can be just to hear a loved ones voice! 
As your children get older and start living their own lives, they will lean less and less on you for advice and insight. Instead they will more often turn to their friends or spouse. And while this is a natural and happy progression, sometimes it's a comfort to hear Mom or dad's familiar voice. 
Maybe they're going through a tough time and are just too tired or stressed to call you themselves, or they don't feel like they should bother you with their seemingly small problems. But taking that ten minutes to make that little call (or Skype!) could make all the difference in their day, week, year or even life! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

$250 #Amazon #GC #Giveaway: Winter Weight Loss Giveaway

Here is a giveaway I thought you would all like! A chance to win a $250 Amazon Gift Card, plus two other winners will get a $50 gift card!

Good Luck!!

Debbie Jean 


Enter the Winter Weight Loss Giveaway sponsored by Weight Loss Experts for a chance to win one of 3 prizes totaling $350 in Amazon Gift Cards!

One winner will receive a $250 Amazon Gift Card with two additional winners receiving a $50 Amazon Gift Card each!
WOW! What would you buy if you won one of these incredible prizes?

Weight Loss Experts is a group of highly skilled coaches who help people achieve long-term weight loss results.
Follow Weight Loss Experts on their social media sites to get connected and receive helpful tips on staying motivated to reach your goals in weight loss, fitness, health, nutrition and wellness!
Portrait of male coach timing runner in a park
Check out this great post about the benefits of working with a weight loss coach and sign up to receive a Free 30 minute weight loss coaching call!


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Sponsor: Weight Loss Experts

Host: Rebecca at Love2EncourageYou Blog
*Special thanks to all the bloggers sharing this exciting giveaway with their readers! You rock!
Prizes: One winner will receive an e-gift card for $250! Two additional winners will each receive a $50 e-gift card! Prizes being distributed during this event total $350 in all!
Location: Open to Worldwide. Void where prohibited.
Age: Must be 18 years of age or older.
Date: Starts at 1am February 26, 2014 and ends at midnight EST on March 17, 2015.
How to enter: Using the giveaway form below, follow the directions in the mandatory entries to sign up for the email newsletter at Weight Loss Experts and tell us which blog you are entering the giveaway through. All other additional entries will be unlocked once you complete the mandatory entries.

Disclosure: Love2EncourageYou received renumeration for organizing and running this giveaway. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site. Only one email per person or one ip address per household may enter the giveaway. Love2EncourageYou and the other participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsor prize fulfillment. Please note: We verify entries before declaring winners.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teach Kids to Mod Minecraft - A Great Homeschool Course Deal

My son is obsessed with Minecraft! In fact, it's one of the reasons we started adding coding to our homeschool curriculum this year - he wanted to learn to make his own mods. 
So when I discovered this deal I was so excited to get it for him! I bought a membership and he has been starting his courses this week. They're really neat.

The site teaches to make Minecraft mods using actual JavaScript coding - no pretend 'baby coding techniques here like I've seen on so many other courses. Kids get to use a server to test out their mods that they can even invite their friends to play on. The course teaches by playing an instructional video right alongside a code editor. Besides writing the actual code, it teaches them to memorize it and actually absorb it with neat puzzles (like putting code into proper order) and quick games that make it fun to learn. Your child can learn how to mod and eventually come up with their own creative creations too.

You can grab this now on educents for $5 off too using my promo link below! It is really a great price at $24.99 - most coding courses cost WAY more!

Monday, February 23, 2015

#Free #Kindle Books : Clean #Romance Reads to Cozy up With!

Here are some great free Kindle reads to cozy up with this week! Enjoy :)

Courting Cate
Leslie Gould

Courting Cate

In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

But the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: older Cate must marry first, before younger Betsy can even start courting. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor--until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.

Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate's hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?

I actually just finished reading this one, having read another book in this series as part of a blog review Becoming Bea. I love her writing and would highly recommend it - in fact I've also bought book #2, Adoring Addie!
Get it here for FREE on Amazon

Home is Where the Heart Is
Kimberly Rae Jordan

Ten years ago, Violet Collingsworth left the town founded by her family, eager to escape a domineering grandmother and a past filled with hurt. Finally able to pursue her own dreams, Violet has spent the last decade traveling and enjoying adventures in the outdoors she loves so much. But now her grandmother's death has brought her back to Collingsworth and to the conflicted familial relationships of her past. Settling down anywhere, let alone Collingsworth, was not part of her agenda, but a run-in with the town sheriff has her reconsidering. 
Sheriff Dean Marconett has heard plenty about the Collingsworth sister who loved to travel, but he never imagined he'd be so drawn to her when they finally met. Hoping to win her heart, he keeps secret the one thing that might scare her away. Will he be able to convince Violet to consider settling down in the town she fled from so long ago before his secret is revealed? Or will her adventuresome spirit and the hurts and fears of her past, along with his secret, drive her away from a chance at love?
Another great one I have also read and loved!

Daughter of Twin Oaks
Lauraine Snelling
Will the Wounded Soldier She Rescues From Certain Death be Able to Break Down the Walls of Bitterness That Surround Her Heart?

Seeking to fulfill the promise she made to her dying father, eighteen-year-old Jesselynn Highwood determines to take her little brother and the family's remaining Thoroughbreds from Twin Oaks plantation in Kentucky to her uncle's farm in Missouri, where they will be safe for the remainder of the Civil War.

Jesselynn is also fleeing a cruel man in Confederate uniform who has pledged to take revenge against her for refusing his hand in marriage. No longer safe at Twin Oaks, she embarks on a perilous journey, taking on the momentous responsibility for the lives and welfare of all who go with her.