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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: "The Life We Never Expected" by Andrew and Rachel Wilson


I am reviewing a book today that has blessed me and helped me to the utmost in exploring how to respond to suffering Biblically. Andrew and Rachel Wilson  Sometimes life throws you a curveball.
Andrew and Rachel Wilson share their journey as husband and wife living a life they never expected becoming the parents of two children with special needs. They reflect their deep joy along with deep pain along their journey as special needs parents and I appreciated the raw honesty they share about their experiences.
They explore responding to suffering through four steps, drawing heavily from the format of Psalm 130, through weeping, worshiping, waiting, and witnessing.

About "The Life We Never Expected"

"The Life We Never Expected"is 148 pages in length and I feel it shares powerful wisdom in a quick read. I love that it is written to be geared toward busy adults and each tool the authors share are broken down into five short cycles, so I like that they are quick and easy to read.

The Wilsons explore the four steps broken into five “cycles” of each of the four steps. In each cycle, the Wilsons share their experiences of coping and thriving in difficult times.
I highly recommend this book not only for parents of autistic and other special needs children, but anyone who is struggling with suffering and loss. 

About the author:

Andrew and Rachel Wilson are the authors of The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs and have two children, Zeke and Anna. Andrew is the teaching pastor at King's Church London and a columnist for Christianity Today

Giveaway:

One of you will win a copy of ""The Life We Never Expected" (ARV $12.99).

To enter, please leave a comment below to let me know you would like to win. Giveaway closes Monday,  July, 11 at 5:00 pm EST. Open to US and Canada residents only. 

If you are not able to leave a comment on this blog post, please e-mail me at angelaskitchen@rocketmail.com with "Giveaway Entry" in the subject line and that will count as your entry.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July and No Bake All-American Apple Pie

Happy 4th of July, y'all! Our family is celebrating our tradition of the 4th at the family beach house on Long Beach Island.

This is one of my most requested recipes for the 4th of July holiday. It is a perfect lightened-up, no oven needed treat for this hot weather and it is diabetic-friendly. 


"Angela's No-Bake Amazing Apple Pie” 

5 medium apples, peeled and sliced

1-3/4 cups water

1 package (4-serving size) sugar-free Jell-O lemon gelatin 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 package (4-serving size) sugar-free Jell-O cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix

1 reduced-fat graham cracker crust (8 inch) 

Optional: 1 cup Cool-Whip Lite whipped topping, thawed

In a large saucepan, combine sliced apples, 1 1/2 cups water, gelatin, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 minutes or until apples are tender. Combine dry pudding mix and remaining ¼ cup water. Stir into apple mixture. Cook for 2 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Pour into crust. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish each slice, if desired, with heaping tablespoon of whipped topping. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: "None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and why that’s a good thing)" by Jen Wilkin


"None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and why that’s a good thing)" is 163 pages in length, paperback bound with a beautiful cover. I highly recommend it for both individual study a well as for group study. I love that each chapter begins with an attribute of God that pertains only to Him and then discusses the Biblical truth along with real-life examples. We are able to see how these attributes can be made visible in our lives and are given examples of how we try to become like God in those ways. 

Here is one of my favorite reflections from this book:



I enjoyed that they have several blank pages in the back of the book to write personal reflections and you can also answer the questions asked throughout the book. I feel it is very important subject matter to explore, especially for this day and age we are living in: "Our limitations are by design. We were never meant to be God. But at the root of every sin is our rebellious desire to possess attributes that belong to God alone."

About the author: 

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies. During her fifteen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. In this book, she invites us to celebrate the freedom that comes when we rest in letting God be God.She is also the author of "Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds"

You can find out more information about this book by going to the website here and you can purchase the book here

Giveaway:

One of you will win a copy of "None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (and why that’s a good thing)" (ARV $12.99).

To enter, please leave a comment below to let me know you would like to win. Giveaway closes Friday, May 20 at 5:00 pm EST. Open to US and Canada residents only. 

If you are not able to leave a comment on this blog post, please e-mail me at angelaskitchen@rocketmail.com with "Giveaway Entry" in the subject line and that will count as your entry.


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Special Kind of Mother's Day Reflection with guest blogger Heather Von St. James

Today in celebration of Mother's Day, I am celebrating the spirit of mothers with a guest blogger, my friend Heather Von St. James. Heather and I had become friends through our blogging and had the opportunity to meet in person last summer, when I traveled to Minneapolis. It was a very special visit I enjoyed with her that day. 

This is a special kind of letter Heather wrote to her young daughter Lily as once my late mother wrote me, which I treasure. Heather's letter to her daughter touched my heart to the core, so I want to share it with you today. It is a letter Heather describes as, "The Mother's Day letter I never thought I'd write".

In November of 2005, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, and in her words the doctor said the word, “cancer”, but what she heard was that she might not be able to raise her three month old daughter, and her husband might become a widower after just six and a half years of marriage. She fought to live, to survive and is celebrating 10 years of receiving the amazing words every person diagnosed with cancer hopes to hear. She chooses to celebrate on the designated day each year in an amazing way, and I will have her share another guest blog post about this special way of celebrating.

The following picture and letter is re-printed from Heather's original post on her blog with her permission to share with you on this day celebrating the special women in our lives. Thank you, Heather, for being an inspiration in my life.



My Dearest Lily,

Every day, as I watch you play and grow into a big girl, I can’t help but think: this isn’t the life we had imagined for you. I can’t say we had everything planned out, but any plans we did have went out the window the minute I was handed a cancer diagnosis.

We planned on raising you and being there for you every step of the way, day after day, month after month — cancer changed that.  We had to make so many sacrifices when you were a baby, hoping our actions would save my life so I could be here to raise you. It wasn’t fair. You were so tiny, so serious. All you needed was your family to love you and take care of you.

You didn’t know that our lives were in turmoil — we made sure of that. When I held and nursed you, I would study every detail of your face, your pudgy little hands. Tears would slip down my cheeks as I silently begged God to not take me away from you.

I was so afraid I might not get to raise you, nurture you, teach you. It’s why we had to make the hard choices we made.  I’m so thankful for our families, who so selflessly stepped up when everything came crashing down. They dropped everything to come to our aid. Your Mae Mae and Papa took you in and raised you while your dad and I had to go to Boston so I could fight the cancer that was growing in my body.

You were just 6 months old when I had my surgery. I still remember the day we left for Boston. Our flight left at 11a.m.  Your flight with my mom left an hour later. Before we boarded, I held you close, not knowing if that would be the last time we would see each other. My heart broke that day, but we knew it had to be this way.

The surgery was a success, and as I healed in the hospital, your Mae Mae sent me emails every day with pictures of you. I watched your 6th month of life from a hospital bed. You looked so happy. Everyone loved you. How could they not? I know you don’t remember it, but you made a lifelong impact on many people.

I will never forget our reunion. After a month of being away from you, you looked at me like you didn’t know who I was. I was heartbroken. I put you on my lap and watched you watch me. I started to sing the song I used to sing to you to help you sleep, and suddenly your eyes widened, you smiled, and rested your head against my chest. It felt like you were telling me, mommy, it’s you! Everyone in the room cried tears of joy.

The rest of that year was a blur. You were the reason I had the courage and strength to get through the chemotherapy that left me bedridden for a week. When I didn’t feel well, it was as though you knew. You didn’t complain when different people would come take care of you while I had my treatment. You brought joy to your daddy while he watched me struggle. You were the bright spot in a very dark time.

When I tell you that you saved my life, I mean it. Your laughter, your smile — everything about you got us through.

We’ve never hidden the fact that I had cancer. It’s a part of our lives , it has shaped you and us as a family. You never knew me as anything other than what you see today. Sometimes, I wish you had known the old me, the me who worked hard and had endless amounts of energy to do things. But that isn’t the case.  Instead, you have a mom who was able to be with you, raise you, do things at your school with you. I’m the mom who gets phone calls from patients all over the world. Who cries because someone she was talking to passed away. I’m the mom with the crazy hair who just wants more than anything for you to live your life to the fullest and become all you want to be. I’m the mom who loves you fiercely and whose heart hurts when you hurt. But more than anything, I’m the mom who was saved by this impossibly tiny baby 10 years ago, who has turned into the coolest kid I know. I’m so proud to be your mom, and so proud of who you are.

I still see glimpses of that serious baby from 10 years ago, but mostly I see an amazing kid who loves animals and has a heart as big as the world. I’m so happy that I’m here for you, to be with you, to raise you. You make my life complete. I just need you to know on this 10th Mother’s Day of being your mom, I can’t thank God enough for giving you to me, and me to you. You are my everything and it’s my honor to be your mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Derby Day and Mint Julep Cupcakes

Derby Day is here, y'all! The 2016 Kentucky Derby will be underway this evening in Louisville's renowned Churchhill Downs. The first Kentucky Derby race occurred in 1875 and is a 1.25 mile race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses. Nearly 100 of the horses that have won the Kentucky Derby were actually born in the state of Kentucky, making horses from the Bluegrass state the most likely to win the race.

The event is also known for its fashion parade by a number of both females and males in the grandstands and a renowned "Derby Hat Parade" consisting of a throng of unique, colorful and in some cases truly one-of-a-kind hat creations.

The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint, and a sweet syrup and is traditionally served in a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass. Churchill Downs expects to serve 120,000 mint juleps today! Here is my recipe tribute in cupcake form to this legendary derby drink. Today for our Derby watch party, I am serving these mint julep cupcakes while we watch the race widely-known as "The Run for the Roses". 


"Angela's Mint Julep Cupcakes"

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup "Maker's Mark" Kentucky Bourbon 
1/4 cup Creme de Menthe liquor 


Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F, and grease or line 24 cupcake cups. In mixing bowl, add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In separate bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, and extracts and mix at medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add milk, bourbon and Creme de Menthe liquors to the batter, then the remaining 1 cup of flour. Stir lightly, only enough for batter to combine. Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cool before frosting..
"Angela's Mint Delight Frosting"
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon mint extract  

In large bowl, cream butter with mixer on medium speed. Add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, mixing between additions. Add mint extract. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until frosting reaches creamy consistency. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: "Five High School Dialogues" by Ian Thomas Malone

Today I am sharing my review of "Five High School Dialogues" by Ian Thomas Malone. I think the book cover is a fun, attention-getting illustration with bright colors that perfectly matches the vibe of the stories within its pages.



This book is a 253 page journey across a wide spectrum of experiences known as the high school years. It is the third installment in his series, “The Dialogues”. The first two installments are "Five College Dialogues" and "Five More College Dialogues".

Within these five dialogues, I feel the author has done a wonderful job of bringing to life for the reader a wide spectrum of high school personality types and experiences. My perspective as the reader is as an adult reminiscing about my own high school years as I read the pages and I highly recommend this read for an age range of high school through adult readers for this reason. High school students in this generation will be able to relate to this book on a level that encompasses the feelings and experiences they encounter in this day and age, along with the technology and other advances they are familiar with. Adult readers will recognize the universal themes of youth which draws the reader to recall your own experience, as it very much did me. The "modern" technological advances referenced in the book of our social media age create a discussion point for the adult reader to say, "When I was in high school, we didn't have that.", words my own mother said to me at the time, and that brought a smile to my face.      

My favorite dialogue involves the high school rite of passage known as "group work" assignments, which invoked much laughter to me as I recalled some of the dreaded high school assignments involving relaying on others in your group to accomplish for what would be a team grade, which also did a great job showcased the wide spectrum of personalities encountered with high school youth.

About the author:

Ian Thomas Malone is an author and a yogi from Greenwich, CT. He is a graduate of Boston College, where he founded The Rock at Boston College. He is the grandson of noted Sherlockian scholar Colonel John Linsenmeyer. Ian has published thousands of articles on diverse subjects such as popular culture, baseball, and social commentary. His favorite things to post on social media are pictures of his golden retriever Georgie and his collection of stuffed animals. Ian believes firmly that “there’s more to life than books you know, but not much more,” a quote from his hero Morrissey. When he’s not reading, writing, or teaching yoga, he can probably be found in a pool playing water polo. He aspires to move to the Hundred Acre Wood someday, though he hopes it has wi-fi by then.

You can find out more about the book and a link for purchasing a copy here.

You can find out more about this author and his books by visiting his website .  
His novel "Courting Mrs. McCarthy" (Limitless Publishing) will be available June 9th from all major booksellers. 

I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids"

I am reviewing a book today that I now have in my resource library for the day when my husband and I become parents. 

"8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" is 208 pages in length and I feel it shares powerful tips for healthy parenting. I love that it is written to be geared toward busy adults and each tool the author shares is broken down into five short chapters that are 3 pages in length, so I like that they are quick and easy to read.


About "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids"

Although written with busy parents in mind, this book is a wonderful resource book for grandparents caring for grandchildren, aunts, uncles, teachers and all adults who have children in their lives. It shows you the nuts and bolts of developing a healthy relationship with a child and the words build an illustration of how we influence the young people in our lives. He shares and discusses 8 simple tools: talking, listening,  influencing, connecting, teaching, encouraging, correcting and leading. A big message I took away from this book was using the tool he shares in this book not only applied to the children in my life, but to my own adult life regarding other adults I interact with.




About the author: 


Dr. Todd Cartmell is a child psychologist who has been working with children, teens, parents, and families for the last 18 years, most of that in a group practice in Wheaton, IL. He has been married for 24 years to his wife, Lora, and they have two young adult sons who are currently attending college. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Wright State University at the Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. He has written five parenting books (faith based) and presented many parenting workshops at mom’s conferences (Hearts at Home, MOPS International), MOPS groups, churches, and schools. He recently developed a skill-building game for kids called The Flexible Thinking Game. In his free time, he enjoys doing anything with his wife, spending time with their boys whenever possible, reading, running, and playing jazz piano. His Christian faith is an important part of his life and thinking, and he is continually thankful for God’s grace.

You can find out more information about this book by going to the website here and from April 15-May 15, you can purchase the book with 50% Discount Code by entering the code GREATKIDS16. 

Giveaway:

One of you will win a copy of "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" (ARV $12.99).

To enter, please leave a comment below to let me know you would like to win. Giveaway closes Sunday,  April 17 at 5:00 pm EST. Open to US and Canada residents only. 

If you are not able to leave a comment on this blog post, please e-mail me at angelaskitchen@rocketmail.com with "Giveaway Entry" in the subject line and that will count as your entry.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”