“The Essential Amish Cookbook” by Lovina Eicher

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Taste the goodness of Amish life.

Bestselling cookbook author and food columnist Lovina Eicher brings together the best of Amish cooking in The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry. Join Eicher as she shares traditional Amish recipes along with her own kitchen tips and secrets. Growing up, Eicher learned to cook and bake at an early age alongside her mother, longtime columnist and Amish cookbook author Elizabeth Coblentz, and has put those skills to use in her own Amish kitchen as she cooks for her eight children.

The easy-to-follow, authentic recipes you’ll find in The Essential Amish Cookbook are prepared every day in countless homes in Old Order Amish communities across North America. Many of the more than 100 recipes are richly illustrated with step-by-step photographs to help you learn Amish cooking just as if you were in Lovina’s kitchen. From hearty main dishes to substantial sides—plus a generous sampling of scrumptious cakes, pies, cookies, and other delectable desserts—learn how to make the hearty, simple dishes that the Amish cook together and serve at home, church services, and weddings.

In a fast-food, digital world, the book’s colorful photos and conversational tone provide a real taste of Amish life and invite you to slow down. Your family will come to love her Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread, Rhubarb Juice, Roast Beef with Veggies, Oven Crusted Chicken, pickles, jams, and so much more. Experience the simple joys of Amish life—food, faith and family!

Lovina Eicher

The Essential Amish Cookbook is the go-to guide for anyone wanting to make basic Amish foods or to learn more about the Amish way of life.  With recipes that match every type of dish and specialty foods besides, there’s something for everyone in this book.

There are many recipes that I’m excited to try.  The Swiss Roll Bars sound amazing, and that’s definitely going to be the first one I make.  There are lots of others that I want to try, though, too:  Breakfast Pizza and Egg Dutch are both up there, and Peach Butter will be made as soon as peaches come into season.  There are too many yummy-sounding pies to list, and My Big Helper has her own wishlist from this book, so it’s going to keep us busy for a while.

As exciting as it is to see all these delicious-sounding recipes gathered into one place, my absolute favorite part of the book is the photographs.  They’re definitely far above what you find in your typical cookbook, and they’re not all of food, either. With artistic shots of many aspects of Amish life, The Essential Amish Cookbook is more than a recipe book – it’s the perfect coffee table book for someone who loves beautiful country photos.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

“Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom” by David Neilsen

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When the mysterious Dr. Fell moves into the abandoned house that had once been the neighborhood kids’ hangout, he immediately builds a playground to win them over. But as the ever-changing play space becomes bigger and more elaborate, the children and their parents fall deeper under the doctor’s spell.
 
Only Jerry, Nancy, and Gail are immune to the lure of his extravagant wonderland. And they alone notice that when the injuries begin to pile up on the jungle gym, somehow Dr. Fell is able to heal each one with miraculous speed. Now the three children must find a way to uncover the doctor’s secret power without being captivated by his trickery.

David Neilsen

Neilsen’s Playground of Doom is an afternoon of creepy fun for any middle-grade student!  Full of foreshadowing and subtle context clues, you’ll know that something’s up – but not exactly what.  Dr. Fell’s story is as full of twists and turns as his illustrious playground.

Dr. Fella nd the Playground of Doom is a good-versus-evil story on steroids.  It’s not exactly scary, but it will definitely make a tender reader shiver with the knowing that something bad is on the way.  With unidentified monsters and danger around every turn, pages will fly as readers impatiently fly toward the ending.  Nielsen sprinkles in enough whimsy and fantasy, however, to keep his younger readers from being truly scared. 

While the story is pure fun, there are definitely good talking points within.  Dr. Fell’s Playground causes readers to ask questions like:

  • What should you do if you see someone get hurt?
  • Should you ever enter a stranger’s house?
  • What do you do if an adult makes you uncomfortable?
  • Name calling:  What can you do about it?

These are, unfortunately, issues that children need answers to in this day and age, and Dr. Fell’s Playground provides a fun, fantastical way to introduce – or continue – your conversation about these topics. 

Fans of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle might find that Dr. Fell is her evil counterpart, and they’ll delight in comparing both stories.   Kids will revel in the fantastical people, creative solutions, and unusual dwellings of both books.

If your child is ready for a different kind of fantasy, challenge them to play on Dr. Fell’s Playground of Doom.  If s/he dares.

I received a free copy of this book from the author.  All opinions are my own.

Armed with Truth: Scripture Tattoos Review & Giveaway

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I have never been good at memorizing stuff.  Passing those math fact quizzes in second grade was stressful.  Having to learn and recite entire ballads in middle school was awful.  Science vocabulary quizzes in high school were horrible. 

Over the years, both as a student and as an adult, I’ve practiced nearly every educational trick I know.  I’ve written stuff on flashcards and taped them all over the house.  I’ve written things in different colors.  I’ve used pneumonic devices.  I’ve set facts to music, drawn pictures in place of words, and been quizzed by my mom, even as a high school student.

My memory isn’t any better when it comes to memorizing scripture.  I have scripture flashcards taped around the house.  I write things in out different colors and types of writing, I write them over and over, and my daughter has even helped me practice at times.  Memorizing stuff is really hard for me.

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That’s why I was so excited to find out about the Armed with Truth scripture tattoos.  It’s like those little cartoon-like pictures that kiddos often paste onto their arms, but way, way better.  These are scripture verses in a blackish ink and simple font that you can stick anywhere on your body – but, of course, the arm is a great place, because then you can easily see it throughout the day and work to memorize it.

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The Armed with Truth tattoos come in thematic packages of ten.  There are all sorts, but I chose the ‘comforted’ package because we’ve had a lot going on this year, and I wanted the opportunity to really dig into these scriptures.

It is well

There are also single words or phrases in neat, artistically-designed fonts, too.  I chose the ‘It is well’ design for that one.

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My Big Helper and I each chose the scripture we wanted to apply first.  We studied the directions closely, because we’ve never done anything like this before – not even those little kiddie tattoo-stickers.  It did take us a few minutes to figure out, but it turned out to be really easy – put on skin, wet, wait, and peel off. 

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My Big Helper was immediately excited about her scripture tattoo. 

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I found that the first benefit of wearing it was an unexpected one:  I found myself thinking about different phrases of the verse on my arm.  The second line especially caught my attention:   “Who created all these?”  Too often, I think, we take for granted the beauty around us.  I forget that these rivers and mountains and trees and clouds weren’t always there – that Someone purposely created them, and they’re intricate and interdependent and beautiful.  I can’t wait to journal this verse.

I haven’t done that yet because we’ve been having the craziest, busiest week ever.  I thought the tattoo would help me memorize scripture, but I’ve most enjoyed the ability to take it with my physically wherever I go.

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On the second day, we took a field trip to see the Durham Bulls play ball.  Several people asked about the words on my arm, and I was able to explain about this cool product and how I was using it.  It looked great, and while it’s not looking super crisp or clear in this picture, this was the best I could do with the chaos around me.  I could easily read it in a glance.

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Day Three was a work day at home, and we were moving all day. I remembered to take the photo just before bedtime, and despite several showers and hot, humid days, my tattoo still looks great.  Armed with TruthWe had major, huge homeschool events on Days Four and Five.  I barely remembered to breathe and took both photos in the same place, shortly before heading off to bed.  Looking back at the pictures, I can’t tell which was which – my scripture tattoo was holding up beautifully.

My Big Helper had a revelation on this day.   We thought that her verse would have worn off her arm by now, but instead, it was still there, crisp and clear, as she headed off to the NC State History Day competition.  She was nervous and scared as she prepared for judging, and she decided that she was happy to have Isaiah 41:10 on her arm. 

Armed with Truth

Day Seven.  My scripture tattoo has begun to lose a bit of its crispness, and with tiny bits of some letters missing, I need to focus on it just a bit more to read it, but as you can see, it’s still there and still looking good.

Day Eight – My Big Helper rubbed her arm after her shower while it was still wet, and she found that her tattoo came right off.  Since the company claimed that it would last for 3-5 days, I think 8 is pretty amazing.  With much of her tattoo now washed off, My Big Helper was able to easily wash off the rest, and she can’t wait to choose her next one.

Scripture Tattoos

I’m super excited about this new product.  I love the versatility, the ease with which I can keep scripture in front of me all day long, and the help it provides mem in both memorizing and praying through scripture.  If you’d like to try Armed with Truth products for yourself, you can use code anest to get a 20% discount off your purchase.  You can also use the widget below to enter the giveaway happening now.

 
Armed With Truth Emboldened Giveaway! (Contest on Hive.co)

Hop over to Armed with Truth.  Which one is first on your wishlist?

I received a free package of these tattoos in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

Living History: The Roaring ’20s

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It was the era of gangsters, Prohibition, and all that glitters.  It’s known as the Roaring ‘20s, and our living history club brought the era back to life.  We love holding this special events each semester, and this one was definitely the glitziest.

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The day kicked off with a photography session, as the dressed-up students were dressed to the nines as flappers and mobsters.  After that, they introduced themselves, as each student had studied a particular person from history and had come dressed as that person.

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Next, My Big Helper shared some popular slang of the time and asked the students to incorporate as many of these terms as possible into their conversations throughout the day.

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My Little Man explained the history of a Hamilton Beach fruit juicer that was patented during the 1920s.  The particular machine in question used to reside in a local pharmacy, and following his speech, he  demonstrated how to make the perfect fresh lemonade.  While lemonades were made for each student, another mom taught the students how to play table games.18056996_10212172736616620_7481163634049384896_n

Another mom taught the students about the characteristics of the art deco style.  Each student then chose a quote from a celebrity of the era and created their own unique art piece with art deco-inspired fonts and colors.

Living History

Living History

A dad shared the silent movie A Trip to the Moon.  Following the show, the students lined up to feast from a variety of foods popular in this decade.  With the advent of refrigerated transportation and the popularity of parties, many new foods came onto the scene, including peanut butter cups, chow mein, Coca-Cola, Crush, cheeseballs, Jell-O parfaits, and tuna wraps.

 Living History

After lunch, the students returned to the year 2017, concluding that the Roaring ‘20s might be fun to visit, but that they wouldn’t want to live there.

If you’re studying this era, you might also want to check out my post about our book club event for Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter.

Some resources that we loved for studying the ’20s are:

 

 

Living History

Encouraging Heart & Home Blog Hop – April 26, 2017

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We’ve had a lot going on, and I can’t wait to tell you about it – but all of the special events going on are keeping me from sharing too much with you.  Stay tuned, though – there’s lots coming!

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Monday Meal Plan #30.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

13 Easter Activities for Kids

20 Garden Themed Activities for Children

Six Easter Unit Studies You Can Download and Use

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 



The most clicked posts of each week will be featured on all of our hosts’ blogs! So, be sure to share the link to Encouraging Hearts & Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Growing Up & Joining the Church: A Confirmation Decision

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We’ve had a really big weekend around here, for several reasons, but one of the biggest was our Big Helper’s decision to join the church.

Confirmation

Our Big Helper’s faith journey is a simple one, but it’s strong.

When she was 18 months old, we were sitting on the kitchen floor, carving a pumpkin and doing the pumpkin parable devotion with it.  I was rather mentally rolling my eyes as I read the scripture, wondering how my little tiny tyke was supposed to be getting anything other than “pumpkins have slimy guts” from the exercise and the complicated passage in Revelations I was reading (according to the devotion’s directions), when she said she wanted to be clean, too.  I sat there in shock as she said she didn’t want to be dirty like the pumpkin.  We prayed together, and she was very excited – as only toddlers can be – and life continued.  I recorded the event and we continued life.

A few years later, something similar happened.  As a young child, she had continued to participate in our family devotions, to memorize Bible verses at dinnertime, and to pray with us.  The topic of salvation had come up again in another devotion, and she again indicated that she wanted to follow Jesus.  We asked her questions, including if she remembered her first pumpkin experience (she didn’t) but was quite sincere, and so she prayed, and again life continued.

Our Big Helper was never really not following Jesus, in that she never consciously tried to go against the ways of faith.  She has, however, over and over, indicated that she is intentionally choosing to follow Jesus: to love Him, love others, to study His Word, and to serve wherever possible.

For years now, our Big Helper has looked at life through a faith lens.  She often questions how life events compare to scripture, or the other way around – what scripture says about what she sees happening around her.  She studies her Bible, asks lots of questions, and has been working for years to earn enough money for a mission trip to Haiti with the Hands and Feet Project.

It came as no surprise that she jumped at the chance to be confirmed, or to study to join the church.  As United Methodists, this means completing the work begun at baptism and making a public, informed, conscious choice to follow Jesus and to join his earthly Church. 

She began classes weeks ago, meeting with our pastor and the other confirmand, studying church history, theology, the creeds, and what it means to be a full church member.  They met for a retreat, where they continued their work and did some service projects.

And then yesterday was the big day.  My Big Helper was up early, dressed in her new confirmation dress, excitedly twirling to see her skirt flare out and chattering nervously about the ceremony to come.  She’s at an age where the child and the adult she’s one day going to be both manifest themselves, sometimes both in minutes, and it’s odd and amazing to see.

Suddenly it was time.  It seemed somewhat surreal as family members all trooped up front to stand with her in support of her decision.  She answered questions confirming her faith, smiling all the while, standing and kneeling as instructed by our pastor. 

Then, as her first act as a full member of Warren’s Grove United Methodist Church, she was (with our other onfirmand) invited to serve communion to the congregation.  Her smiles continued as she passed out the bread to each in turn, excited to be serving in a real and tangible way.

Confirmation

When church was over, we headed home.  Friends and family joined us to celebrate our Big Helper’s decision, as well as our Little Man’s tenth birthday.  We had a fun afternoon with everyone, and we’re very thankful for the support and encouragement they give our children.

For me, it was an emotional day.  I’m excited about the decision she’s made, but it’s also a sign that she’s growing up, and that’s always a little bittersweet.  I wouldn’t want this decision to be any other way, of course, but her need for discipleship is far from over.  I feel the weight of the responsibility to guide her well; to provide answers, examples, and resources to prepare her for full adulthood.  While she’s now an adult in the church, she’s also only twelve, and still needs much guidance from people further along in their faith journeys.  I pray that she can be surrounded by those people, and by people to whom she can turn with her questions, and by those who will provide strong, faithful examples for her.

Have your children made decisions for faith?  What resources have you found to support them along the way?

These are a few of our favorites:

 

Suggested Title: Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘A Fragile Hope’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

When your life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages, what happens when your own marriage begins to fall apart? Find out what happens to Josiah Chamberlain in Cynthia Ruchti’s new book, A Fragile Hope. Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia’s Sign of Hope Giveaway!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

“A Fragile Hope” by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
 Ruchti has written a sweetly dramatic story of forgiveness and love in her newest novel A Fragile Hope.  Josiah reads as fully realistic and completely clueless.  This combination works well as a vehicle for exploring the roles that we play in marriage.
Ruchti shares important insights about marriage throughout the story, but you’ll never feel preached at or taught.  Instead, I read the book in a single afternoon, never once picking up my phone or putting down the book – I read it straight through.  I was completely caught up in Josiah’s story:  his care of his wife, the trauma he endured as he struggled to figure out his wife’s actions, and the pain he felt as he reconciled those with the role he played in their marriage.  I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons, and Josiah’s insights would provide provocative discussions.
I can’t imagine writing an entire story in which one of the main character is unable to communicate, but Ruchti not only did so, but she knocked it out of the park. A Fragile Hope is quietly introspective.  It’s a journey through the lowest depths of marriage and the faith required to rebuilt it, and it’s one everyone should take along with Josiah.
 

 
About the author:
 
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.
 
One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
 
Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti

Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog Hop – April 12, 2017

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Spring has sprung, and it has been beautiful here this week!  I can’t wait to start planting my gardens.

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was The Day My Daughter Said She Liked Math: A Mr. D Math Review.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

13 Easter Activities for Kids

20 Garden Themed Activities for Children

Six Easter Unit Studies You Can Download and Use

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 


Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be featured on all of our hosts’ blogs! So, be sure to share the link to Encouraging Hearts & Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Easy Strawberry-Cheese Danish

Breakfast

I’ve loved breakfast pastries for years, and especially cheese Danish.  Although I don’t remember ever eating the cream-cheese variety until an adult, they fascinated me immediately.  I enjoy the sweet, rich cream inside flaky, buttery dough, and I’ve always wanted to try to bake it.

I didn’t, though.  It seemed quite intimidating, and while I’ve pinned lots of recipes, I never went ahead and tried it.

Until this week.  I had some extra strawberry filling on hand and decided to throw some stuff together and see what happened. 

The result?   This is the best picture you’re going to get, because we fought over every piece until it was gone.  That didn’t take long.

Of course, the rich creaminess is my favorite, but in this Danish, it’s complemented by the sweet, full flavor of the strawberry sauce.  We’ll definitely be making these again – and soon!

Easy Strawberry-Cheese Danish

Ingredients

  • 1 tube crescent rolls
  • 1 8-oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. strawberries, washed, capped, and mashed
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 3 T. water

Instructions

  1. Butter the bottom of a 8" baking dish.
  2. Spread 1/2 of the crescent rolls across the bottom.
  3. Soften the cream cheese. Mix in the powdered sugar.
  4. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the crescent roll layer.
  5. In a small saucepan, stir together the strawberries, cornstarch, and water.
  6. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for two minutes, then chill.
  7. Spread the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese layer.
  8. Spread the last crescent rolls on top of the strawberry layer.
  9. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.
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