July 22, 2014

What's on My Nightstand? {July 2014}

Nightstand sneaked up on me.  Again.  Yet I do love to keep track of what I've read.  So for anyone eager to know what I've read and enjoyed this month, here you go.  These are affiliate links.

Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke.  A good writer makes you think, transports you to another time or Saving Amelie does just that.  Though the beginning chapters were a bit confusing, I felt this book was an excellent read.  It takes to Germany during WWII.  We learn a bit about eugenics and more about the Aryan race and Hitlers' desires with eugenics and the Aryan race.  More than that, I appreciated how I felt for the "regular" German citizens.  They weren't all on board with Hitler's plan, but the SS made it impossible for anyone to stand up and fight against his ideals.  Saving Amelie delights the reader as we get to know the characters and just how a young, deaf girl's life might be saved.   (During the first couple of chapters I had a hard time keeping track of characters, but be sure to stick with it.  This is a top read of 2014.)
place, and makes you care.  HIGHLY recommend.

The Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller.  I read this for the first time several years ago.  I had been paid opportunity to read it again to create a book review for a magazine.  I have yet to complete the review, but suffice it to say that this book is full of practical thoughts and ideas for the everyday Christian.  Paul Miller experiences his own difficulties with prayer, including cynicism and other problems many Christians have.  HIGHLY recommend this book (again) to those who know their prayer life is less than it should be.
wanting to reread it, and had the perfect

Out to Canaan, by Jan Karon is part of the Mitford series.  I listen to the books through my library on CD...and will finish the series this summer or early fall.  I read the series years ago, at the recommendation of Derek's grandmother, and enjoy listening to them now.

I continue to read The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins as part of the Summer Reading Challengehosted by me.  Feel free to join, even if you haven't yet.  This classic is easy to read and very interesting, even if it is a bit lengthy.

I'm still reading 101 Dalmatians with my children.  I haven't started The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe yet.

Up Next
I recently bought Women of the Word.  It comes to me highly recommended.  I also have on my list to read Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full and a birthday gift from my husband, Miss Penegrie's Home for Peculiar Children.

I also read and created a unit study for A Mouse Called Wolf.  My daughter and I worked through thisvocabulary bookmark printable, and tomorrow I will share the first part of the unit study.
delightful book with some critical thinking questions and a few activities.  I already shared the

Now in a bit I'll be off to see what others are reading this month.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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July 21, 2014

Do What You Can, Not What You Dream

Sometimes I dream big.  I get distracted by things that may or may not happen in the future and neglect what I should be doing now.

It is good to be prepared, but it is better to be wise.

Goals are beneficial.  Planning is wise.  But we should be careful.  As we prepare, plan, and even dream for the future, we must take care to be responsible for the now.

As a wife and mom, I don't want to neglect my own family and our needs because I'm planning for something that may or may not happen in the future.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Woodrow Kroll talk when my family and I were at family camp.  He said to the group, "Do what you can, not what you dream."  (I may have paraphrased.  I was not taking notes.)  He really got me thinking about how I spend my time.

Despite my hopes for the future, I know I need to work and play hard now.  I may also work hard now for the future, but I must not neglect my current duties and family.

I must complete the task at hand...even if I am dreaming of the future.

Throughout the Bible, many verses speak of planning for the future.  It is certainly praised.
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?"~ Luke 14:28
We must also work in the here and now.  Our work now often helps us in the future.  The batch of strawberry jam I put in the freezer?  The four quarts of green beans I blanched and froze?  Working now and working hard is beneficial.
"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." ~ Proverbs 6:6-8 
As those verses shows, by working hard now, we are actually planning for the future.

In my own life, I need to be careful to complete one project, as much as I can, before jumping from one project to another.

How about you?  Do you balance working for now and working for the future?  Do you agree with my thoughts or do you think it's more important to plan?

~ Annette
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July 18, 2014

Weekend Wind-Down: July 18

After a week away, it was good to be home this week.  Thank you for all of the birthday wishes.  Thirty-eight feels about like the previous year.  This is a photo from camp; we were about to go to the adult-only banquet.  It began with just my husband and me in the picture, but the girls joined in after a bit- in a clingy sort of way.  (My hair is short again, but I'm not sure how long it will last.)
Big Sister, age 7, attended a Science in the Summer class at our library this week.  Put on by the Franklin Institute, I knew she'd learn a lot about oceanography, and she did.  We've had a lot of the typical thunderstorms this week. One morning, I was about to fill up the pool (kiddie variety) when I heard  distant thunder.  Instead of skipping the idea all together, I waited and listened.  With no more thunder (for a bit), the children played with balls in the pool.

This week I had four new posts on the blog.
This is a peek into my living room.  I don't decorate much, but I really like this.  I wish it was always tidy like this.

July 17, 2014

Double-Decker Brownies Recipe

My mother-in-law bakes terrific cakes and goodies, including our wedding cake.  She introduced the  frosted, double-decker brownies years ago.  I've been making these for at least ten years, though I usually just enjoy the ones she makes.  Double-decker brownies are a perfect dessert to take along to a potluck picnic or as an everyday dessert.

As my readers likely know, I'm not typically a fan of frosting.  I scrape it off cake (or just make pound cake) before eating and fight with it every time I frost a cake (like here and here.)  This frosting is tasty and easy to smooth on the brownies though.  Just in case you wondered.
Double-Decker Brownies with chocolate frosting.

July 16, 2014

Summer Apothecary Jar: Red, White, & Blue

As a person who decorates minimally, even for holidays, I find my simple apothecary jar to be an effortless way to have seasonal decorations without overwhelming me.  During the first week of July, I finally created my simple patriotic apothecary jar using beans.

July 15, 2014

5 Book-Themed Birthday Parties for Women and Girls

In keeping with my birthday theme, today I thought I'd share a few book-based birthday parties from a few friends and myself.  Birthdays and books go together like cookies and milk.  If you missed it, yesterday I shared a few ideas to keep birthdays simple.

I also want to thank you all for supporting This Simple Home.  We've reached 1,000 followers on Facebook!  Thank you!  If you haven't liked us yet, I'd love it if you would.

July 14, 2014

5 Simple Ways to Celebrate Birthdays

Being that I just celebrated my birthday during my little blogging break, I thought it'd be fun to share a few birthday party ideas here on the blog.  How did I get to be thirty-eight already?
Here are a few simple birthday party decorations, cake, gift wrap ideas from our own family.