Monday, April 7, 2014

Essential Atlas of the Bible

Essential Atlas of the Bible

Carl G. Rasmussen


Take a visual journey through Biblical history with this compact and concise atlas. It's 158 8x10” pages are packed with maps, photographs and illustrations that provide a thorough look at Biblical history. As you read you Bible, you can pull out this atlas to get a visual orientation on locations and people mentioned as you read. It also summarizes Biblical history and concurrent regional history in order to help you to get context for the passages being read.

I have found the atlas useful, especially as I have been reading I & II Chronicles. The charts made it easy for me to visualize the order of the kings of Israel and Judah mentioned in a linear fashion. The charts are colorful and relevant, the photographs are wonderful and the size of the book is great. It isn't overwhelming in size but handy enough to carry with my Bible and other study materials.
Overall, I would recommend this as a study tool, and enjoyed reading it.  I loved seeing photos of places I've been and have read about, and being able to study charts of historical events and people. 
I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to provide a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wedding Cake

Cake... I love cake, and I love trying to make creative cakes, although I am far from great at it.  I was asked by a friend to create a cake for a friends daughter's wedding.  I wasn't sure I could do it.  The theme was a rainforest.  I went ahead and said I could do it, but could I?
I searched online for ideas.. any where from to The Pink Cake Box.  I found two cakes from the Pink Cake Box that inspired me and I went from there.  So here is my first ever, probably only ever, wedding cake......

I spent the a couple of weeks working off and on gum paste flowers and butterflies. These two are my first, although I didn't use them for the cake, they were great starting flowers.

I started off by covering the cake board with Crisco, then wax paper, and finally modeling chocolate that I made at home.


Here is one of the tiers crumb coated.

I used the upside down cake icing  procedure, but even though It's great for clean edges, I had some trouble with it, and I think I need more practice, or just use it only under fondant.

Here is modeling chocolate before and after.

More cake icing.

Now on to stacking.

And finally decorating!
Here it is.

Here is my favorite butterfly.  I like the way it turned out.
I also love the calla lilies, and they are so easy to make, and they are so beautiful.

I also really like how the chocolate looked...!
The most exciting part was adding all the flowers and chocolate.  It really brought the cake to life.  Although Looking at the photo, it looks like the layers are uneven :(...  I should have used a level.... Well, live and learn.  I can't wait to hear what the bride thought of the cake.  She was  on a very low budget, and so had ordered a Walmart cake before her mom asked me, but we went ahead an did this cake.  She is going to be all caked out before her wedding is through!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If I Had Lunch with C.S.Lewis by Alister McGrath

If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis

Alister McGrath

Tyndale Publishers

Sit down, grab a lap blanket, and cozy up with Alister McGrath as he takes us on some interesting jaunts through topics that we all face in life, and explores them from the perspective of one of the most respected Christian apologists of the 20th century. Briefly journey through Narnia, explore the Problem of Pain, consider the Pilgrim's Regress, as reflections of Lewis' life from his abandonment of atheism, into his journey into Christianity, friendship, grief and pain.

This was an engaging perspective on Lewis' life through short chapters that introduce a subject and then proceed to give brief biographical sketches of Lewis' thoughts and experiences. I found each chapter well written and a good length. I do suggest being familiar with some of Lewis' writings since there is an underlying assumption of familiarity with his work.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Lewis, or interested in his work and some of the history behind it all. This book gives a peak into the life of Lewis, and is great for those who may not have time to devote to a full biography.

I was provided a review copy by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Niobrara River, An Old Tractor, and a Horse or two

Here are some recent photos that I have taken... One was even put on a billboard in Kearney, NE

Here it is on an electronic billboard!  I know the color is different, but different monitors will showcase color differently.
It was -12 when I took these photos, and I nearly froze my fingers and ears off!
Here is our horse June.  She will be 2 in June!

Here is our old Farmall tractor.



It's been a while since I've posted, I know... I'm guilty... I do have some photos I'm going to be sharing, but before that I'm going to share a couple of photos of a cake that I made.  I have a friend who has asked me to bake her daughter's wedding cake. So I'm on the hunt to improve my abilities. I'm not a pro cake baker/decorator although I love playing with cakes when a birthday comes around.... and I've been striving to learn to do a better job frosting and decorating.  One of the many things that would keep me from ever becoming a pro cake decorator is that I don't have a pro kitchen, and I prefer to do things that I like and not a photo that someone want or expects me to copy. I look at each cake as an individual piece of art or junk (when I do a lousy job) and they are a self expression more than anything else.
Now to say that I won't copy something isn't necessarily correct, but it has to be something I want to try or fits my artistic dreams.  So the cake I'm making for this March wedding will be a copy of something I would love to be able to create.  In the meantime, I created this simple chocolate cake for practicing my basic icing skills.  Here it is:

Not great by pro standards, and I have a LONNNNNGGG way to go with my cake.  For one thing, I always make too little icing, and then I don't have enough to fill it out and smooth it out as well.  I also didn't have any Viva paper towels to do any of that type of cake smoothing.  But I do like that I got fairly straight sides and crisp edges.  This is also the first time I have tried homemade or any type of modeling chocolate.  I have never made a rose before and this one turned out okay but I needed it smaller and with thinner pieces.  I do think the modeling chocolate band at the bottom turned out nicely. 
I have one month to get this cake decorating thing down.  I have made a few other cakes for this person's children so I know that they will be fine with the wedding cake, and I will put up photos here of that creation. 

BTW, the cake tasted delicious!  I got the chocolate recipe off of for Hershey's Perfect Chocolate cake. 
 I did have some trouble with the cake falling in the center, but I think it was a "me" issue and didn't affect the cake much in the end. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Redcoats Are Coming! The Imagination Station #13 Marianne Hering & Nancy I Sanders

The Redcoats Are Coming!
The Imagination Station #13 
Marianne Hering & Nancy I Sanders
Focus on the Family
Adventures in Odyssey
Tyndale Publishers

Oh how wonderful it would be if there was a real imagination station that I could jump into and travel to places known and unknown.  Until then, audio drama and books will have to be my imagination station.  This book, geared at ages 7 and up, takes us on an Imagination station journey with Patrick and Beth as they experience the events leading to the Revolutionary War firsthand with the likes of Paul Revere, John Hancock,  and fictional characters such as Sybil.  Their mission? To deliver a letter for Mr. Whitaker, and do they accomplish their mission?  You'll just have to read this book.

I found this book engaging and well written for the targeted age group, and my nine year old has his eyes on the story.   It's a good story to engage my children with American history from a Christian World view.  Although I do find myself needing to refresh my history, as I'm a little rusty.  Overall, I would recommend this book.  What's more, I am looking forward to the next installment to discover the continuing story....

I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Andi Unexpectedby Amanda Flower

Andi Unexpected
An Andi Boggs Novel
by Amanda Flower

Andi and her sister finds themselves living with their aunt in a rural Ohio town after the death of their parents.  While fixing up the attic to make a bedroom for herself, Andi find a trunk that hides a mystery, and leads Andi and her friend into a search for a missing child. 

This mystery book is gears to the preteen age group, and will keep them guessing.  Overall, it was well written for the age group, but is no Nancy Drew mystery.  I think more development and  connectedness between the clues and the resolution could be helpful.  I also would like to have the story delve more in to the conclusion/resolution than was done. 

The story did keep me interested in the resolution, which was great.  I love the concept of the story as well.

As a Christian book publisher, I didn't see any real faith demonstrated in the story.  I hope that as the series continues that this will be introduced.  They go to church once, but it was really motivated by the need to interact with another character.

I would recommend this book for preteens and hope that as the author continues to write more stories and grow as an author, that she will develop her  stories further.

 I received this book from the publisher for a review, all opinions are my own.