Monday, December 31, 2012

"The River" Book Review

The River by Michael Neale

Gabriel Clarke was “made for The River.”  Coming from a family legacy of whitewater adventurers, it’s “in his blood,” as the book says.  The River by Michael Neale is a story chock full of life lessons – forgiveness, living life to the full, and overcoming grief.  After a haunting accident on The River leaves five-year-old Gabriel without a father, he finds himself far from the waters of Colorado and deep in a sleepy town in Kansas.  Growing up is a struggle and he retreats into himself with the pain and grief of that fateful day.  As he grows he slowly opens up, but parts of him remain locked, until an unexpected invitation comes his way to go camping in the state where he was born and his father was lost.  He experiences The River on that trip and again discovers the hold it has on him.  He finds himself in love with a girl and before he knows it, he’s working at The River adventure camp for the summer, which her father runs.  It is there that he must face his grief full force in an unexpected way, and make the choice to retreat into his old pain or fight his way to the life he was meant to live on The River.  

I found this book a little slow going at first, but by the camping trip chapter I was intrigued to finish quickly.  I was disappointed that it does not openly mention in any way that Christ is the way to true life, but I suppose it can be argued that The River was symbolic of that truth.  The book contains a Reading Group Guide and interview with Andy Andrews and the author.

*I received this book from the publisher for free (through the BookSneeze program) in exchange for my honest review.

Carpe Diem,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Letter {From Me}

This is the letter that I first wrote back in 2010.  It used to be found in one of the pages {at the top of the blog}, but I am in process of changing & rearranging & didn't want to lose this.  

Here's my letter to you...

Dear Sis,

I wish I could tell you face to face how special you are! That everything about you has been planned out by an awesome Creator & is for a purpose – His purpose. I wish I could look you in the eyes & tell you that God is at work in the times when it seems He’s left you completely alone. If we were face to face, I’d squeeze your hand & tell you that to the King of the universe you are wonderfully beautiful & His princess. I’d take you out for hot cocoa & a sticky cinnamon bun & make sure you knew that you can do amazing things, because God is the doer-of-amazing-things, & He’s at work in you. Afterwards we’d go driving with the windows down & our voices shouting out a BarlowGirl song, & I’d remind you that with God we need not fear or be ashamed. After we park by a green hillside, I’d share that Jesus’ blood was enough for your sins past, present, & future. While we watch a solitary cloud float in the sky, I’d encourage you to share your faith with unbelievers, because that is what God has called us to do & what it’s all about – sharing the unfathomable love of Christ with others. We could pick bundles of wildflowers on the hillside & chat about staying pure - mind, body, & soul - as a gift of obedience to our Heavenly Father & a sweet unopened treasure for our possible future husbands. When dark unexplainable clouds roll in & a heavy rain falls, we could make a dash for the car. And as we listen to the steady drumming on the metal roof, we’d talk about the inescapable storms of this life, & pray that each other hold on to the promise that God will never leave us. When the rain stops & we start back, I’d point out the rainbow in the sky & we'd thank God for reminding us that His promises are always true. When I drop you at your house I’d give you a hug & say, “Love you, Sis! You’re always in my prayers!” Yep, that’s what I would do.

Lots of Love From
Your Sister in Christ,

Friday, December 28, 2012

Free Song: "You're Not Alone"

I just happened to stumble upon this free song download today & wanted to pass it along to you all.  Marie Miller is an up & coming Christian artist & you can get her single, "You're Not Alone" free at Amazon right now!

Happy New Year,

P.S.: It's sorta an upbeat folksy song - I like it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Open House @ Bess'

In the living room...

In the kitchen...

{Remember, I'm no cook.} =)

In the bedroom...

The merriest of Christmases to you & yours!

Happy birthday, Jesus!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Simple Christmas Art {Nest Feathering}

It's almost Christmas Eve eve!  Tonight I finished up this little project I wanted to share.  Here's how to make your own simple Christmas art...

Here's what usually hangs above my fireplace.  Cute, but not Christmas-y.  Let's make it fit for the season, shall we?

Here's What You Do...  

1. Wrap non-Christmas-y art in brown paper {or other paper, if you like}.  This is easiest with canvas art, but can be done with framed art, too.  

2. Use chalk to make it Christmas-y!  

3. Hang back up & enjoy!

4. Er, I Mean: Homemade Christmas Love,

P.S.: Merry {Christ}mas Eve eve, almost!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Peppermint Pretties {A Tutorial}

I've seen these peppermint trays, etc. all over Pinterest & TV, so I thought, "This looks like a good excuse to finally turn on my oven!"  So, I did.  I used the recipe from here.

I found varying recipes with the oven degrees being 310 & 350, so I settled on 335, which worked well for my oven.

Using a metal cookie cutter you can create custom candy canes, gift add-ons, & even ornaments!  Be sure to wait about 30 seconds, after pulling the tray out of the oven, before using the cookie cutter.

I'll definitely be making more trays & other peppermint things soon!  

Merry Christmas,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Oh dear!  I've been sick for the past 5 days!  Sneezing, coughing, dizzy, aching, ugh.  =(  It's awful when you've got all these fun Christmas-y things planned, & then wham your sick.  I feel much better today, but still quite a bit dizzy & sniffle-y.  I hadn't driven my car since I was sick - I was pretty much holed up in my apartment, but today I went out just to take out the trash & visit the mail box {I got a great surprise from someone out there - you know who you are!  I absolutely loved everything!!!  Thank you so much, sister!  P.S.: Yours is coming!}.  Well, I'm thankful to God that I'm better & that I was able to rest the last few days!

Hope you're well!


P.S.: Last night I watched old Disney channel episodes of Even Stevens & Lizzie McGuire - sweet nostalgia! =) 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In the Face of the Unthinkable

In Memory

Yesterday I came in from the store & did what I usually do - flip on the TV, but what I saw was not in any way usual.  There had been an elementary school shooting.  I sat glued to the screen for the next couple of hours, learning the grim & unthinkable details that the majority of the victims were little children.  It seems impossible to understand.  How can we go on?  This world can be such a frightening place.  How can Christmas go on?

It's then I was reminded of other similar tragedies, like the shooting at an Amish school in 2006, that left families grieving over innocent children lost.  Those families made the choice to forgive - though it was not an easy choice.  

God is still in control & those sweet children are now with Him - they will experience no more pain.  They are with their Father.  But it will be a deep valley for those left behind, & it is only through Christ that it will be endured.  Please join me in praying for the families of victims, the surviving children & their families, & that entire community, & our nation.  

Dear God,
We don't understand this unimaginable tragedy.  We know this world is full of evil and the devil is indeed lurking like a lion.  You are still in control, we know.  Please bring comfort & peace that passes all understanding to all those involved.  To those who lost their children please hold them in Your strong arms.  May they know You as their Savior & King, so they can have the hope to see their children once again in the future & to live again in the present.  Help us to react in a way that is pleasing to You & to choice to forgive, as You have forgiven us & for our own sake to not harbor poisoning unforgiveness.  Please be with our nation & restore our safety & let those who seek to do evil be stopped.    
In Jesus' Mighty Name, Amen.        

Here is the powerful movie that was created about the Amish school shooting...    

Strength & Love Through Christ,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Thrifty Girl Gift Guide {Presents for $1!}

I'm a thrifty girl, I admit, but I love giving adorable presents, too!  Here's a few Christmas stocking stuffers & gift ideas that are... wait for it... $1 each!  {All were purchased within the last week.}

So many stores these days have $1 sections.  Here's a list of my favorites:
-Michael's Craft Store
-Walmart {Walmart has a selection of 98 cent goodies}
-&, of course, the Dollar Tree where everything's a dollar-

Here's some other stores that have good gift deals {$1 & up}:
-Tuesday Morning
-Home Goods
-Rugged Warehouse
-Big Lots

Happy Shopping & Don't Lose Sight of the Best Gift {Jesus},

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bess' Easy-Peasy Peppermint Ice Cream

This time of year you can find loads of 
Christmas-y specialty ice creams at the grocery... but they can be pricey!  One of my favorite flavors is peppermint.  Here's an easy-peasy way to make your own! 

-vanilla ice cream
-peppermint candies
-sprinkles {optional}
-chocolate syrup {optional}
-2 plastic baggies

What You Do:
Unwrap peppermint candies.  {I used about 4 per serving.}  Place candies in a plastic baggie & then place that bag in another plastic baggie.  Now for the fun part, using the hammer break up peppermints in small pieces {the bigger the pieces the bigger the crunch (however you don't won't folks to chip a tooth=)}.  I broke them up with the hammer on the carpet {don't mess up your counters or wood/tile floors}.  Then, mix peppermint pieces into your ice cream.  Add sprinkles & chocolate syrup if you like {or not}!  It's delicious either way!


Random Acts of the Season

Random Acts

It's Christmastime - the perfect time to show God's love to anyone & everyone that we can.  God showed His awesome love for us in the gift of His only Son, Jesus {the Christ in Christmas}.  This season, let's show His love to this weary world through any means - what I mean is: let's practice random acts of kindness!

These R.A.O.K.s {as I like to call them} are any kind gestures or offerings you give to another.  You know when you feel that nudge to do something for someone?  Right then & there you have to make a choice - do you put yourself out there & do what God is calling you to do {even if it's the scariest thing ever (in your mind)} -or- do you stay safe in the sidelines, letting the chance pass, & the good left undone?  It's hard sometimes to step out, that's why I'm challenging myself {& YOU} to do just that.  This Christmas let's show the world some love!  

Here's some ideas to get you started:
-smile at others
-open the door for someone
-send a card to someone  
-put a sticky note on a public bathroom mirror/stall with an encouraging note &/or scripture {"God made you beautiful!" is one of my favorites!}
-thank custodial staff for their hard work
-give a candy cane or treat to a cashier or store greeter
-in the parking lot, offer to take someone's cart for them after they've finished loading their purchases - so they don't have to walk it back to the buggy catchall
-pay for the person behind you's order 
-leave coupons for others by items in the store
-call or visit elderly/shut-ins from your church
-bake cookies for your neighbors
-invite someone to your church
-create sacks of food, scripture, gloves, etc. & pass out to homeless standing by the road or at a shelter {be careful if you do this to those standing at the road - go in a car &/or in groups}
-leave a wreath at an undecorated neighbor's house 

These are just a few of the millions of ways!  Feel free to let me know how your R.A.O.K.s go - I'd love to hear your stories!

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
-John 13:35 NIV


P.S.: I'm about to go to the store & I'll have my eyes open for opportunities!  I'll let you know how my R.A.O.K.s are going! =)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Embellishing

I'm so tired tonight {& I'm not even sure why}, but I thought I'd share some pics on how my Christmas decorating is going.  I'm not finished, but here's how it's looking...
"We'll laugh at gilded butterflies."  A William Shakespeare quote I cut out of a magazine.  It fits perfectly with my tree theme: things that fly.
More ornaments waiting to be put on the tree.
I made these simple ornaments out of glass beads this year.

My tree "topper" I created out of 2 bird ornaments & a couple glittery branches.  

I got that green glitter hummingbird at Walmart today for 97 cents!
I put some white stuffing in the bottom of a Ball jar with a couple wire brush trees nestled in the "snow."
My old book paper garland & chain + the decorative blocks I made last year {revisit that tutorial here.}
In some countries Santa places treats & gifts in children's shoes.  I thought I'd recreate this tradition with my wellies this year.  Now for a few more presents!

Ornaments in a bowl are an easy-peasy decorating touch!
Learn how to make your own cake stand here.
Love the blue candy canes in the blue Ball jar.  Have you noticed I have a thing for Ball jars?  I do!  I found this canvas nature art at Goodwill - I put thumbtacks along the sides & added the quote with glitter alphabet stickers. 
I found this adorable sign at Rugged Warehouse for $2.99!  I thought I couldn't create it for that price, so I impulsively bought it.

Christmas Love,