Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Books that I read for fun in January 2017 (with mini reviews)

Over the last 2.5  years, I have been documenting the books that I read for fun (and not just for review purposes).  I have decided that I need to continue that as reading is important part of how I relax. Books that I read for fun are books that I have not been asked to review and that I have chosen to read, well because I like to read. In 2015, I read a total of 49 books! In 2016, I read 58 books.  While I don't have a goal in mind for this year, I will continue reading as it is something that I love to do and I like to document the books that I read.  (Please note that if a book looks interesting to you, you can click on the picture of the book and it should take you to it's page on Amazon.com. I am an associate through them.)

So....What did I read in January 

I received several new books for Christmas and so I took the opportunity to read a couple of them throughout January.

The first book I read was Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks. I LOVED this book. I laughed. I cried. It was wonderful. I would highly recommend it (and make sure you have a box of tissues next to you as your read. Just a fair warning!).


I also received and read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Chip and Joanna are the hosts of HGTV's Fixer Upper show. I have watched it a few times. I love to hear stories of how people succeed in life and this book fit the bill in that. It was interesting to read their backstory and also get some motivation to succeed in things that I am trying to do. It was also to note that Chip Gaines seems to have the philosophy of "Just Do It" that I am trying to implement this year. This is another book that I would recommend.

I have a new series by Nora Roberts ready to read in the next month or so for fun, so I am looking forward to that!

I didn't do a lot of recreational/fun reading this month as I had several books in line that I needed to read for review. I reviewed The Cottage by Michael Phillips, Love Unending by Becky Thompson, Holy Bible for Girls: Journal Edition , and Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig this month.
Here are the books I read for fun in:
Books from 2016
Books from 2015
Books from 2014

                                                 Have you read any good books lately?
Any books you would recommend for me to read in 2017

Little Stingers Wrestling Tournament

Over the past 2.5 months, Jacob has been involved in our area youth wrestling program. It is called the "Little Stingers" program. (Our high school mascot is the Yellow Jackets, so that is where that comes from.)

Jacob has really enjoyed his time wrestling. He loves the coaches and it does help to keep him active. The season consists of two practices a week culminating in an end of the season tournament. That tournament was this past Sunday.

Jacob had to be at the gym by 9am to be checked in. He weighed in at 68.1 pounds and was placed in the 71 pound weight class. He would be wrestling against 3 other wrestlers in his weight class.

The tournament began with them warming up and getting ready as a group.

Then all the wrestlers were taken in the hall and then processed in.
Then we all stood for the National Anthem.

Then it was time for wrestling. They went through weight classes...finally it was Jacob's groups turn. The first person he wrestled against was the best in the group, as he comes from a line of wrestlers (his family is known in our community for being top of the line in wrestling).

The next 2 matches, Jacob did much better. He did a great "bridge" move, which is basically where he has the guy on top of him and he is on his back and he has to use his hands behind his head to push his back off the ground. It takes a lot of strength to do that.

Jacob unfortunately lost all 3 of his matches. However, he had a ton of fun. I love that this program, stresses that wrestling is about having fun. The coach told the kids he didn't want any one coming off the mat with tears. There would be a winner, but then there would be a learner (someone who wasn't as good but that means that they are still learning).

Jacob came in 4th in his weight class. At the end of the tournament, they handed out trophies for each weight class, and Jacob got called up to receive his trophy.

He was one happy boy! And I am proud of how he took to wrestling and how well he did in his tournament.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday (1/30/2017)

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a good weekend. We had a good weekend here. Saturday, Rebecca played really well in her basketball game. She is showing improvement every week she plays. Sunday we spent most of the day at Jacob's end of the season wrestling tournament. He did well and wrestled his best yet. The rest of yesterday was just spent relaxing and not really doing much of anything. I felt so guilty but it has been a really long time since I really didn't do anything on a day. My husband kept telling me not to feel guilty.

Now we are back to another beginning of another week. I will be joining in with the lovely Sandra over at "Diary of a Stay at Home Mom" in her Happy Homemaker Monday meme. So let's get started: 

Today it is cold with off and on snow showers. The sun keeps trying to sneak out so that is always a welcome sign. The beginning of this week is supposed to be full of snow showers and just icky weather.

I am trying to decide if I should read In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donovan and Caren Zucker (that I have next on my review pile) or if I should start Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts that I got for Christmas that I haven't read yet.


On Friday nights, we typically do pizza and a movie for the kids. This year I would like to try to remember what movies we have watched, so I will be recapping here. This past Friday we watched Finding Dory. We have seen this a couple of times before, but it is one of the kids' favorites.

On Sunday, we spent time watching the NFL Pro Bowl game. Not really worth watching but there was nothing else on. We also had the NHL All-Star game on at one point and I think there was also some NBA on as well. LOL


MONDAY: meatloaf, julienne potatoes, peas
TUESDAY: Fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, homemade applesauce in the crockpot
WEDNESDAY: lasagna soup bake, homemade garlic bread
THURSDAY: hot ham and cheese, green beans, fruit
FRIDAY: Pizza grilled cheese and fruit salad
SATURDAY: smoked sausage bake, salad and green beans
SUNDAY: Super Bowl Sunday dinner: Chicken wings, chicken fries, veggies with ranch, chips

Monday: take kids to school, bank, mail rent check, pick Bill up from work, take Bill to get van, Ben has speech and OT, tutor, laundry (at least 2 loads), trash and recycling to curb
Tuesday: kids to school, workout, tutor, Rebecca has AHG 
Wednesday: kids to school, walk, grocery store, tutor
Thursday: kids to school, tutor, work out to dvd, Rebecca has basketball.
Friday: kids to school
Saturday: Rebecca has a basketball game, walk
Sunday: PSR, church, Rebecca has a sports day program at Kenyon, Super Bowl Sunday
And each day has the daily housework that needs to be done.

It isn't too bad. The kitchen is cleaned. I was able to get to the piles in the dining room this weekend so that looks much better. There are a few things out in the living room. Our bedroom (which is the decluttering room for February) is a disaster.   


I have on jeans, a beige/ brown cowl neck sweater and brown knee high boots.
Watching my kids play sports that they enjoy.


So there you have it. A little peek into my life on this Monday. Hope everyone has had a great day and let's see what this week will bring! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (new recipe #4 of 2017)

One of the things that I would like to get done in 2017 is to try to expand our menu items. I want to try at least 2 new recipes a month. I have decided to share the recipes that I try so that maybe I can help a few of you out with some new menu ideas. I know that I get inspiration from other bloggers so maybe I can help.

Last week I mentioned that I didn't have any new main dish recipes planned, but that I might make a new dessert or something like that. Well,20 I ended up finding and trying a new recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip muffins. My inspiration was 5 very ripe bananas that I had on my counter that I did not want to go to waste. (We have been really good about eating all the bananas before they get too ripe, but these ripened REALLY fast this week for whatever reason).

A quick google search, and I found the perfect recipe to try. This Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffin recipe called to me because it uses a lot of bananas (the recipe called for 6 bananas, but I used the 5 I had). Most of the recipes I have seen use 2 or 3 bananas, but I needed something that used more.

The recipe itself was fairly simple to put together and I had all the ingredients in my cabinet. The only changes that I made were that I only used 5 bananas, I added a tablespoon of vanilla to the mixture and I scooped out half to one muffin pan so that I would have banana muffins, before I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to the other half. (I am not a fan of banana and chocolate mixed together, but I knew that my kids would love them- so I did half and half.) I got 24 large muffins out of the recipe.

They turned out really yummy. Rebecca said they are her new favorite. Rebecca and Jacob have been snacking on them for snacks. I will definitely make these again.

So overall, I am doing well with the recipe choices. Next week, I am planning on doing something new for Friday night pizza night by trying a new recipe for pizza grilled cheese. So look for my review of that next Saturday! 

Pork Chop and Scalloped Potato Bake
Tex-Mex Tilapia
Baked Chicken Parmesan

Friday, January 27, 2017

January Decluttering Project: Closet of Doom (Final results)

Of one my goals for 2017 is to give our home a deep decluttering. As I mentioned in my New Year's Goals post,  I want to take a room a month and really give it a good cleaning and decluttering. 

For January, I have chosen my nemesis-- the room/closet off of the bathroom. There is a small room off the bathroom that has become a catch-all storage room. It is a disaster so I have dubbed it the Closet of DOOM

Just a reminder, here is the before (taken from the bathroom door looking in, as I could not even walk into the room):

After spending an hour cleaning it during week 1 of January, the closet had transformed to this:

After week 2, the closet looked like this:

After week 3 the closet was looking great. However there were still totes to go through in the corner. There were 5 or 6 totes that were behind the door that hold memorabilia and maybe more clothes.

So that was my starting point. I had about an hour and a half free on Wednesday so I decided to tackle it and get it done. The first thing I did was clean out the top blue tote that didn't have a lid. There were things in there that the kids wanted to keep as keepsakes and needed to be sorted into their totes. So I did that first.

Then I went through each child's tote. I will admit that I didn't get rid of very much in their totes. I did get rid of some artwork that wasn't special and I got about half a bag of blankets and things that I will donate to Goodwill. I am okay with that.

Then it was time to go through the last tote and box that had my stuff in it. The box had cards and pictures from my parent's house. I think my mom saved every card I ever got. I took those to my bedroom to sort through. I threw out almost all of the cards-- I only kept a couple that had notes from my deceased Grandparents and Great-Grandma. I I got a whole diaper box full of papers and cards to recycle. Everything that I wanted to keep out of the tote and box, fit into the box. :-)

There was also a box in the closet that I had Bill go through as it was his hats he has collected over the years, and ties that he used to wear for work. I was extremely proud of him as he only kept a small fraction of the hats and ties and we now have a full box of them to go to Goodwill.

So I can officially say that the Closet of Doom is completely decluttered. It was a process, but one that I am glad that I undertook. All in all I got rid of so much stuff...either through donation or trash.

Here is the final result:

I know everything that is in the closet. I can't believe how much stuff was in there. I knew that it was a lot but I never imagined that it was so much. We took 2 van loads to Goodwill and I still have another box and half a trash bag from this week's final push.

It feels so good to be done with it. I look in the room and I just smile!

Now it is time to plan for the next room....

I have decided for February, I am going to focus on decluttering the Master Bedroom. This should get interesting...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig (book review)

Book Description:::
Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole "Tox" Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that's fine--he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers--and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they're not just fighting a plague--but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem--but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

I will say that I usually am not one to read action packed, terrorism centered, military type books. However, I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone in reading and I will say that this fit the bill. Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig, fit the bill perfectly and kept me engrossed in the story despite some negatives in the book. 

The good things about this story include a complex storyline, that keeps the reader engage and rooting for the main character Tox to really be the good guy that Kasey believes he is. There is fast paced action scenes and suspenseful scenes that make the reader want to keep reading. For women, it is not only about action packed suspense, but there is also an underlying romance brewing that you really want to pull for. 

The bad things about this book are that the story line is very complex and intertwined with Biblical history of codexes and leaves (pages) of historical writings that somehow have unleashed a plague. It was confusing at times, and I found that I had to re-read sections to make sure that I truly understood what was happening. The other major point of confusion to me was in Kendig's tendency to use several names for the same character depending on who is talking to that character. It took me several chapters in to realize that that was what was going on and I had to keep reminding myself that certain names were the same character. 

The plot itself was well written, fast-paced and action packed, with just the right amount of relationship building among the characters. I did feel that some of the plot was far-fetched, however in this day and age really anything is possible. 

I was glad to have experienced reading this book and look forward to reading the next installment of the Tox Files stories. 
DISCLAIMER:::I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.