Monday, January 30, 2012

Blogging For Books: The Scroll

Here is a new feature on my blog! I have the wonderful opportunity to combine two things I love: reading AND blogging. I have been added to the Blogging for Books program through Multnomah publisher's. The first book I requested and read is "The Scroll" by Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky.

So what did I think of this book? On a scale from "ugh" to "awesome!" I would say this book doesn't deserve an "ugh", but definitely deserves a "bleh". I chose it because it looked intriguing: a little bit Indiana Jones and a little bit Angels and Demons. My suspicions were correct: This book is about a Biblical Archaeologist (David Chambers) who has lost his faith completely and is trying to give up Biblical Archaeology completely. You find out that David Chambers is a bit of a tragic character, his mother died with his father off gallivanting in Israel, the love of his life dumped him, and he finds no happiness any more. Chambers is contacted by a long-time friend and mentor Abram Ben-Judah to briefly return to Israel for one last dig. Chambers decides to take up the offer, finding himself on a team with a frienemy (who, as it turns out, ends up just being an enemy) and his ex-finace. The dig is shrouded in mystery, and as the story unfolds you realize (along with Chambers), no one on the team has all of the details.

Without giving away too many of the details, I have two main critiques. The first is the writing style and plot twists. The story was a little bit cheesy with one liners. Aside from that, the story tried too hard to be unpredictable; there were many plot twists that were meant to take me off guard, but they all seemed forced and at times were predictable. Sometimes they were a little too unpredictable. The plot, eventually, is thick with misguided theology about the end times and some of the Old Testament prophecies. I am not prepared to say the authors are wrong, but their interpretation and bias is definitely evident in the story. My last critique of the story is that the end seemed haphazard. It was as if the authors thought to themselves, "Oh no. We're hitting our page count and have too much story left!"

My second critique is with the books character development. It's like the authors wanted to paint this tragic character in Dr. Chambers, but they simply did not give enough detail. They gave some, but it wasn't enough to make me truly feel bad for him. I mostly thought Dr. Chambers was sort of a jerk, not one really deserving of the sympathy the authors were trying to elicit. I'm also disappointed with the transformation of Dr. Chambers. It seems like it was so very anti-climatic and as if it were too little, too late.

Over all, I wouldn't say the book is absolutely horrible. Aside from the weird theological biases, it isn't a terrible story. It was entertaining at times. But this is definitely not a book I would read again. If another came out as it's sequel, I would probably pass on it.

Multnomah publishing gave me this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This review is 100% my honest opinion.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scrappy Friday 1/27/12

Can you believe it's already almost February? I think I say that every month. But really. Life is busy around here. Brad and I have both started classes, so we keep ourselves occupied with school work.

I did manage to make a scrapbook page! It's been such a long time since I posted a page. I have made some, I just didn't post them. This particular page isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it works. I think it's the lettering I don't like. I think it looks like a carnival, now that I look at it more closely. Maybe I'll rip off the lettering and try a different font.

It's still my Australia book. When I finish it, I'm not sure what I'll do next! I'm thinking I might just start scrapping some of the stuff we've done around VA Beach, but maybe not. Hmm, I'll have to think on it. I'm also planning on starting a book with my race stuff in it. That one will be kept current, and right now it would have all of three pages (i've only run three races, if you count the one I'll be doing in march). What do other people scrapbook when they've done all the big events?

Part of me wants to go back and re-do some of my wedding scrapbook pages. I've since gotten my cricut and a some neat cartridges. And I'm really not happy with some of those pages.

But until then... I still have a big number of Australia pictures to get finished!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's for Dinner? 1-25-12

 New Year's Soup is what's for Dinner. I adapted this from Terry Walter's book "Clean Start".

Here's What you'll need:

1 Medium Onion
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Carrots
2 Parsnips
1 bunch collard greens (i had a really big bunch so I used only half of it)
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
2 tbsp fresh oregano
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Chop up your onion, carrots, and parsnips. Then put the onions in some EVOO and saute; I did mine in the same sauce pan that I would put the soup in.

 After a few minutes, put your garlic through the garlic press and saute it all together for a few minutes. Add the carrots and celery; continue cooking until all veggies are a bit soft.
 While those are softening up, chop up your collard greens and add them to the pot. Continue cooking until the greens wilt. Then add your broth, oregano, and black-eyed peas.
Bring it back to a boil; turn it down and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve.

Someone facebooked me this morning to let me know that instead of "add the apple cider vinegar..." I had typed "ass". Oops. I thought it was a great typo, so I just had to tell you all about it.

The verdict? Brad liked it; I wasn't in love. The parsnips were not my favorite. If I make it again, I think I will leave out the parsnips and do potatoes instead.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Style File 1-23-12

 I hit the Jackpot at Target last week. I got several things on clearance. I love when that happens! One of those items is the dress (and the belt!) featured in my style file.
 I love getting knit dresses like this because they're so very wearable. I could pair it with sandals in the summer, flats and a sweater in the spring, and like this for the winter/fall. They're so versatile and comfortable!

 I've been wearing these grey tights a lot. They're a great alternative to wearing the same black pair all of the time and adds a little more texture (which you can't see in the picture. There's a subtle design on them).
 This belt was $3.48. What a steal.
 This is my sock bun. I originally tried it to do sock bun curls, but I didn't roll it correctly it just made my hair wavy. So I re-rolled it in the sock bun. I like it.
I love the texture on the top of the dress. Adds interest. :)

Outfit Rundown:
Dress- Target
Belt- Target
Sweater- Old Navy
Tights- Simply Vera Wang (Kohls)
Shoes- Nine West

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's For Dinner? 1-11-12

Here is another variation on my Lasagna recipe. I made a vegetarian Lasagna that we really liked, but I must not have put it up on the blog. That recipe is on Jen Loves Kev's blog. So I guess this recipe below is a combination of lots of different recipes, but it is on the healthier side. What you'll need:

9 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
1.5 jars Marnara Sauce
1.5 cups diced and peeled Butternut Squash
.5 lb ground turkey
1 15 oz carton fat free ricotta cheese
1 egg
3 cups (ish. Honestly I just eye balled it) Baby spinach
Fat free shredded Mozzarella cheese
Salt Pepper

This lasagna was for Brad because it contained meat. Normally he happily (or at least with out complaining) eats whatever vegetarian meal I put in front of him. We're not vegetarians, but for our health (and wallet!) I tend to not cook a lot of meat. 

Anyway, start by browning the ground turkey and boiling the noodles.  Cook the noodles until they're just about done, but still a little crunchy. While those are cooking put your squash in the microwave. Cook it until it can be mashed up; mash it up. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Add some marinara sauce to the mashed up squash. I like to call this "squash sauce". Strictly speaking, the squash isn't totally necessary, but it is a great way to ramp up the nutritional value without compromising taste. 
Then mix up your ricotta. Add the egg, some oregano, salt and pepper and mix it all up. By now your ground turkey and noodles should be done; drain your noodles.

Spread some marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 9 baking pan. Add three noodles; I trim them to fit. Spread some of the ricotta on the noodles. 
In a pan, combine some olive oil and one clove of garlic with the baby spinach. Cook until wilted (about three minutes). Add the wilted spinach on top of the ricotta. Spread some Squash sauce on the spinach. Put three more lasagna noodles on top of the spinach. Then some ricotta. Then the rest of the squash sauce. Then your ground Turkey. Then some plain marinara. 
I ran out of Lasagna noodles, so I used some rotini on top of the ground turkey and topped it off with some plain Marinara. Bake in the oven, un covered, for about a half hour. Take it out and sprinkle with desired amount of mozzarella cheese. Continue baking until cheese is melted and sauce is bubble (about 15 more minutes).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Goals

I'm not usually one for resolutions. The word "resolution" actually freaks me out a bit. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because it sounds so formal? Haha, I don't know. I prefer making a few attainable goals for the new year instead. So here are mine:

1.) Continue training for the half Marathon, and then run it on March 18th, 2012
2.) Get back to putting up "What's for Dinner?" Posts. Several people have asked me where they've gone, and I don't have a particularly compelling answer.
3.) Scrapbook more. I really need to finish my Australia book. I got 6 new Cricut cartridges, so I have plenty to experiment with!
4.) Do all this, while in school! Haha, we'll see how it goes, but I think I can do it. Honestly, I end up being lazy if I have nothing going on. But if I have to schedule stuff, it usually goes better. It's weird.