Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Old Fashioned Way - A FlyBy Promotions Book Review & Giveaway

Earlier this month I shared with you a review of the DVD Old Fashioned and asked you to stay tuned for an awesome giveaway.  Well, the time has come.  Are you ready?  This is an awesome giveaway, and you could be the winner!

In addition to the DVD there are two books associated with the movie.  There is a novelization of the movie under the same title written by the author Rene Gutteridge based on the screenplay by Rik Swartzwelder.  Also available is a devotional titled The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance written by Ginger Kolbaba based on the same screenplay.  These three resources are put together in one nice little package and are a wonderful resource for anyone with a concern for the dating scene, modern romance, old traditions, pure lifestyle, and redemption.

Very few of us in today's society grew up with traditional values.  We dated.  We didn't court.  It's possible we don't even know what chivalry is or even have a clue what the traditional roles of man and women were just a couple of generations ago.  The books based on the screenplay help us to take this journey of discovery just a little further.  When you've finished the movie you will likely find yourself pondering over a lot of thoughts and questions.  The Old Fashioned Way is a 40 day devotional written to help you take these thoughts and questions to the next level.  Just like the movies some things may seem very foreign or strange, but the devotional helps us to sort those ideas out for ourselves.

If I had it to do over again, I would have read the book first.  That's just my personal preference.  I think it would be wonderful to do with a group or a book club.  Read the book, watch the movie, and then work through the devotional.  I have felt a gentle prodding in the area of family ministry.  Learning about every aspect of relationships of all sorts and how they work, or don't work, fascinates me.  I feel this would be wonderful for churches to have on hand as part of their available resources in a lending library or something of the sort.  There is lots to learn here and lots to think about.

Softcover - 303 pages

"Turning his back on his reckless lifestyle, former frat boy Clay Walsh has settled down to turn an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town....and to purse lofty and outdated theories on love and romance.  But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can't help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.  Amber also finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay, but his ideas about relationships are unusual to say the least, and they bring to light her own deep wounds and fears about love.  They say opposites attract, but can Clay and Amber move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an "old fashioned" courtship?"

Softcover - 222 pages

"Contrary to popular opinion, being "old fashioned" doesn't mean you're dull or unromantic.  In fact, a true old fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you've ever experienced!  So what does it mean to do things the old fashioned way?  Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow.  But a true old fashioned romance goes much, much deeper than that.  Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it.  Regardless of your past mistakes, where you've been, what you've done, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime!  As you work your way through this forty-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you'll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old fashioned way.  And before you know it, you'll be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages." 

S O C I A L • C O R N E R

Twitter: @OldFashionedVow

If you'd like to enter for your chance to win this awesome giveaway package, just leave me a comment below.  Make sure you comment with an i.d. that I can use to contact you in the even that you win.  I've had a few this year that have won, but I was unable to contact them and had to choose someone else.  Don't miss out!

"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, June 29, 2015

Putting Up the Harvest: Strawberries

Last year I made a decision to put up as much food as I am capable.  In my perfect world I would grow everything I preserve.  In reality very little of what I preserve this year will come from my own soil.  It seems homesteading is filled with way many more bumps and hurdles than I could have possibly anticipated.  My perfectionist side goes crazy trying to deal with everything, and my desire to stumble upon a magic wand grows greater each passing day.  However, at some point I have to come to grips with reality, and that means ANOTHER year without any real designated garden beds to grow food.  It means ANOTHER failed attempt at starting seeds inside.  It means ANOTHER year of supporting my local farmers in my effort to put up and preserve as much produce as I possibly can.  It also means ANOTHER year of not putting up as much as I desire.  After all, I am indeed only one person.

I am one person with high ideals and even higher standards.  I am one person traveling a major detour with no clear sight around the bend limiting my ability to even see the ideals let alone reach the standards.  I am one person shifting gears, dodging potholes, cautiously braking, gingerly steering my way through this uncharted journey that we call life.  I am one person trying to figure out how to live as simply and graciously as possible given my own unique set of circumstances.

And, then there are strawberries.

One thing I've learned over the last couple of years is that eating in season requires determination, flexibility, and a lot of work.  You have to be determined, because it is time consuming.  Making any amount of homemade jam is A LOT more work than buying a jar at the store.  You have to be flexible, because when the item to be preserved is at its peak all life stops to preserve that specific food item before it passes its peak and begins to rot.  It doesn't matter what needs doing.  If you bought one, two, or ten flats of strawberries you darned well better get them processed within a day or so, or you can say goodbye to all those berries, the time you already invested, and the money you spent on them.  It's a downward slope that goes VERY quickly.

Then, there's the work.

It requires work processing your own food.  That's why there's such a huge market for already prepared food.  In our current culture there generally isn't time afforded to women, or men for that matter, for caring for their families like there used to be.  Unless we make a conscious effort to set up our lives to allow the time for the work involved in growing and preparing our own food it just cannot happen.  Not only does it take work, but it takes time, and it takes way more time than we would actually think.  Oh, and yes, your arms can and will get a workout hulling and processing strawberries.  Putting up food is repetitive work, and you have to be committed to the end product in order to see it through.

The reward.

I didn't mention that it is rewarding, very rewarding.  Nothing tastes so amazing as anything you put up yourself, unless of course it's something your grandma put up.  There is nothing more satisfying than opening up a jar of jam that you processed yourself.  You know every aspect of the food you are about to consume; its origin, the process in which it was prepared, etc.  Feeding your family can be done with the confidence that they are eating real, quality, nourishing food.  It can't get much better than that.

So, since I just processed two flats of strawberries for the first time I thought I might share with you what we did with them.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the finished products, but I can assure you that they are beautiful and delicious.

What we did with our strawberries:

Homemade Strawberry Yogurt Pops

1 quart Homemade Plain Yogurt
1 quart Fresh Strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1/2 cup Local Honey
2 Tbs. Pure Vanilla

I did this in two batches.  Using a blender, mix half of ingredients until well blended.  Pour into freezer molds and freeze until solid.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

That's all there is to it!

Homemade Strawberry Yogurt Drink

Use the same recipe as above.  Only, this time pour into mason jars and refrigerate instead of freezing.  The kids love to drink this with a straw.  Super yummy!

Strawberry Syrup

I just took some of my strawberries and blended them with some local pure maple syrup and put it in jars in the refrigerator.  I didn't make a lot of this, less than a quart, as it's just a special treat, and it needs to be refrigerated.  It's awesome, though!  (You can make a cooked version as well that is super simple.)

Puree'd Strawberries

I really wanted to make Strawberry Jam, but time would not allow.  With a grandson over for the weekend and a hubby at home on vacation, my time was short when the strawberries were ready.  So, I just pulsed them through the blender and poured them into sandwich bags.  I laid them out on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer.  After they froze, I removed the cookie sheet and stacked them up.  As time allows I'll use them to make jam, throw them in smoothies, or add them to pancake batter.  No matter how we consume them I know we'll love them, especially in the dead of winter.

Fresh in the Refrigerator

I cleaned up the last two quarts and let them dry.  Then I put them into one of those cool bags you can buy for keeping produce fresh in the refrigerator.  We plan to use some for Strawberry Shortcake.  The rest will just be eaten like they are or put on top of yogurt or cereal.

Do you have a favorite way to use fresh strawberries when they're in season?  I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media - A Review

SmartKidz Media Review
Our family has had the fun privilege of reviewing an up and coming digital media resource library in our homeschool for the last several weeks.  It has been a highly enjoyable experience for the kids and myself.  SmartKidz Media. is an ever growing digital collection of videos, e-books, games, study guides, and more.  The wonderful thing about this collection is that it is custom tailored to meet the needs of homeschoolers.

The video collection at SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is constantly expanding.  In addition to the vast collection currently available there are many new ones on the horizon.  With my children being on the younger end of actively learning students they especially enjoy the animal and wildlife videos.  Of course they LOVE the games too!

As a parent there are a few things that I just love about this resource.  At the top of the list is the fact that there are ZERO advertisements, ZERO commercials, and ZERO pop-ups.  We've been living cable free for nearly four years now, and I cannot emphasize enough the positive impact on our life having removed our exposure to so much advertising.  It really adds to the quality of our life.  SmartKidz Media fits right in with that standard.  It's refreshing to give my children freedom to explore the content and not have to worry what they may be exposed to.  Rich content with no adverts is a HUGE plus in my book!

Another big bonus is that SmartKidz is compatible with any computer or mobile device that has internet access.  How awesome is that?  So many times we find something we love, but we are limited as to how we can use it due to compatibility issues.  We find and app we love, but we can't use it on the computer, or we find something we like online and can't access it on a device.  This resources crosses the boundaries.  We've even enjoyed it on our television via our blu ray player.  That is awesome!

Avery practicing his mouse skills with the Find the Hidden Treasure Game.

I also love the vast array of topics covered within the video collection as well as the variety of other media collections aside from video content.  SmartKidz has done a wonderful job of creating a place for homeschoolers to really enrich their learning experience.  Right now my children spend most of their time in the Fun Zone playing games and doing puzzles.  However, in the future they will highly benefit from the Quick Find Study Guides.  There's fun to be had in the Mighty Ebook Collection and the Animated Karaoke collection in Ready Set Sing.  The 10-year-old and I are very much looking forward to the Living Skills Program that is being prepared for launch.  There really is something for everyone here to enjoy as well as anticipate for the future.

All three kids playing the Dress the Divas! game.

SmartKidz Media has such potential for use within the homeschool.  It's like having access to an ever growing library of media resources right within your home.  Since I've been thinking ahead to the fall and the plans we have for focused learning within our homeschool I am always thinking of how I can use the content on SmartKidz, and I get excited.  Having a resource of this quality at our fingertips is a huge blessing.  It brings learning alive and feeds all of our excitement about the new subjects that lay before us as well as adds to the passions we've already been feeding.

Get social with SmartKidz Media on Facebook and Twitter.

SmartKidz Media Review

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, June 19, 2015

An Afternoon at the River Walk

We are blessed to live in such an interesting area.  There are so many places within 20 or 30 minutes of our home for us to visit, and they're all free.  Can't shake a stick at that!

This past weekend another one of our daughters tied that knot.  Unfortunately I have no pictures to show you, but rest assured my hubby looked quite dashing in his tuxedo.  The bride wasn't too shabby herself.  (wink-wink)

Even though I left the wedding without one picture in tow, I did take several pictures when the kids and I took Andrew, our Navy son, and his new girlfriend, Vaedin, to explore the new River Walk in Port Huron.  It's a fun place to go when you've never been to Michigan.  Black River meets the St. Clair River which opens up into Lake Huron after traveling under the Blue Water Bridges, and you can see Canada right across the blue.

We walked and talked and visited Vantage Point for a snack.  We all had a great time.  Then, we drove up the coast enjoying the rest of the boardwalk and up under the bridges.  It was a nice time.  Here is some of what we saw:

Vaedin, Harmony, Andrew, Avery, and Bella.

Exploring along the way.

Never been this close to a Great Blue Heron before!

One of the cool sculptures along the way.

Lots of fun watching these goslings.

Lots of new life on the river.

More goslings.

Parent and children.

Mom and dad, a few babies, and some ducks.

Lots of Mallards in the Port Huron Area.

The kids love this sculpture.

Another water bird.

The ships are always exciting.

Andrew clowning.

Avery had to give it a try.

The kids love to sit and read with this little girl.
If you've never taken the time to explore the area where you live you just might be surprised what you find.  I highly recommend visiting your local visitor center if you have one.  If not, request information from you local chamber of commerce.  You never know what you might discover.  We're working on becoming experts on staycations and touring our home state.  There's no place like home!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Old Fashioned - A FlyBy Promotions DVD Review

Until this review popped in my inbox I had honestly never heard of the movie, Old Fashioned.  However, reading the synopsis I quickly realized that this Pure Flix DVD brings to light a subject that's been heavy on my heart since we became responsible for ushering two more youngsters of the female persuasion into adulthood.  Yes, we have a youngster of the male persuasion as well, but somehow the girls posed the greatest challenges for us along the way.  They require a different kind of guidance than boys.  For some reason we're a little more female challenged so to speak when donning our parenting hat.  Our experience has formed the opinion within us that boys are less complicated, more simple, easier to relate to, and just generally more laid back.  Don't get me wrong.  They had their phases too.  Maybe it was that the boys were out numbered two-and-a-half to one.  That's a lot of estrogen in 1600 square feet.  Never mind that you have to include me, the dog, and a cat in that mix.  The boys didn't stand a chance.

After combining two families, raising five girls, and two boys the three that are traveling this journey with us at the moment are doing so with different parents than the seven that went before them.  We have the benefit in some regard to hind sight.  We've been there, done that on a lot of issues.  It is our hope that we've learned to relax on some issues that just aren't that big of a deal and to be more mindful in other areas that require a little more effort and finesse.  For me at least one of those issues encompasses the ideas of self-respect, determination, commitment, purity, physical and mental health, respect for others, commitment to God, developing an internal, moral compass, and making conscious, educated decisions as opposed to being led by emotions like a boat tossed on the ocean.

Old Fashioned takes us there.  It touches on the heavy subjects; digs into the tough emotions.  It models commitment, standing firm, and living with intention.  We are reminded that it's never too late to change our ways, stand for what is true and pure, and that we can stand alone when we need to.  Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.  On the flip side there is a cautionary tale about taking ourselves too seriously and missing out on the gifts of living.  Chivalry is not dead, and courtship is beautiful, even in these contemporary times.  A wonderful reminder for us all.

A romantic-drama, OLD FASHIONED centers on Clay Walsh, a former frat boy who gives up his reckless carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. There, he has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance as well as for his devout belief in God. When Amber Hewson, a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul, drifts into the area and rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his strong faith and noble ideas, which are new and intriguing to her. And Clay, though he tries to fight and deny it, simply cannot resist being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. Ultimately, Clay must step out from behind his relational theories and Amber must overcome her own fears and deep wounds as the two of them, together, attempt the impossible: an "old-fashioned" and God-honoring courtship in contemporary America. 

Watch for my followup review on the noveliztion and the devotional both based on this feature film.

~ Social Corner ~


"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.”

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Best Chili Yet!

I've been experimenting making chili for years now.  I pretty much make it different every single time I make it.  I mean, I used to have my "tried and true" method, but as I've grown I've gotten a little more daring and have ventured out for a long time now trying different variations.  The same ol' thing gets boring after a while, right?

Well, I have to say that my family loves this version of chili so much that we actually wrote down the ingredients and the method so that we can remember how to do it again.  I think I know the secret of why it's so pleasing to everyone...bone broth!  That's right.  I made homemade broth, or stock, or whatever you choose to call it, a while back.  Something possessed me to add it to the chili instead of water.  OH...MY!  SUPER YUM!

Besides being super delicious it was super filling.  This is a VERY satisfying chili.  It seems weird to be sharing a chili recipe in June, but we live in Michigan.  It's only been a few days since the last frost.  When we made this chili a couple of days ago it was in the 50's and rainy.  Perfect chili weather!  Today it's in the 80's.  I did tell you this was Michigan we're living in.  You never know from one day to the next which season it will be.

If you give this recipe a try I'd love to hear what you think.  How do you make your chili?  Do you do something out of the ordinary?  We'd love to hear about that too!


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