Monday, March 31, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - March 31

Today is the last day of March! This week celebrates April Fool's Day and Opening Day of MLB, and hopefully it will also celebrate warmer temperatures! But we'll see about that last one.

Here is what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Italian Sausage & Potato Roast

Monday: chicken, pasta, spinach

Tuesday: turkey burger stroganoff (instead of hamburger)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: on our own

Friday: out

Saturday: out

Friday, March 28, 2014

The People Factor - Book Review

I'm sure many of you have relationships in your life, whether at work or in your personal lives, that are just bringing you down. But for whatever reason, you keep that relationship going as it is. Well, that doesn't make much sense!

The premise of The People Factor by Van Moody (published by Nelson Books) is that good relationships will help you grow in your God-given purpose, while bad ones will hinder you. So why are you still holding on to those bad relationships?

In this book, Moody takes you through the 10 Critical Laws of Relationships: being real, mutual benefit, agreement, letting go, selectivity, sacrifice, no secrets, true value, loyalty, and constructive transition. Reading through what each of these laws mean makes you take stock at your current relationships to see how each one measures up and to see how you measure up. It's not just all about the other people. Don't forget that you have to follow the "laws", too.

One thing that really stuck out to me was the notion that relationships don't have to end, but it's okay if they do change. This is what Moody calls "constructive transition". Moody gives the example of Jesus and Peter. They were best buds, BFFs, bros. And then Peter becomes, in Jesus' words, "a stumbling block". This is in response to Peter not understanding or wanting to accept that Jesus is going to suffer and die.

You might think Jesus' words are kinda harsh, especially to someone he was so close to, but Jesus knows that Peter "is not in agreement with what God is requiring Jesus to do. He can no longer occupy the place he once did in Jesus' life; he has to step back so Jesus can move forward" (Moody, 172).

Jesus and Peter still had a relationship, but it wasn't the same as it was before. And this is what happens in many relationships to this day. You are constantly changing and evolving, and certain relationships may need to adjust. Not end. Just adjust.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eat Like Locals on Mackinac Island

I don't go on vacation for the food, but I do like to eat at local places as much as possible while on vacation just to experience the local cuisine and local businesses. Because my husband wasn't on this leg of the trip with me, I didn't have to worry about finding gluten-free restaurants. (And believe me, it would have been
difficult to do on this trip.)

Aside from our McDonald's stops and eating breakfast at the hotel every morning, we managed to eat a delicious pizza dinner on Mackinac Island at Island Slice Pizzeria.

My mom and I both got the special deal of one slice, one breadstick, and a fountain soda. I don't remember how much it cost, but it was a good deal. And man, the pizza was good and the breadstick was SO GOOD. Definitely hit this place up! It's casual, which was perfect for us because we were wearing our biking outfits.

The second awesome local place we visited was Clyde's Drive-In in St. Ignace. This place doesn't have its own website. It's old school. And it really does operate like a drive-in, although you can go inside and eat in the teeny tiny (and crowded) restaurant area or take the food to go. We did the drive-in. This place has your standard burgers and fries along with milkshakes and other stuff. I would recommend the cheeseburger with a chocolate milkshake. Pretty good!

In terms of eating gluten-free, there weren't many options in St. Ignace or on Mackinac Island. I did see one restaurant in St. Ignace with a gluten-free sign on it, but we didn't eat there.  If you search for "gluten-free Mackinac Island" on Urban Spoon, you get this list of three restaurants.

I have to say, there was a little grocery store in St. Ignace that we walked to one night from our hotel. We got sub sandwiches from the deli at the grocery store, and while we were waiting for our sandwiches to be made, I noticed a HUGE gluten-free food section. So, if you're staying in St. Ignace and you want gluten-free, you should hit up that grocery store for some essentials.

What are some favorite restaurants you've discovered while on vacation?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

YA Book Giveaway WINNERS

Thanks to everyone who entered my YA Book Giveaway. Yesterday was the last day to enter, and this evening I tallied up the entries and used Random.org to help me pick the winners.

The winner of the book Liv, Forever (and the only entry for that book) was Kat!

oooh...nice! I love your book giveaways! ;-) I think I would like t o put my name in the hat to win a copy of liv, forever! :-)

And the winner of the book Half Bad was bn100!

Half blood

Congrats to both winners! I have sent you emails to get your mailing addresses. If I don't hear from you by April 9, I'll have to pick new winners.

To those who didn't win, don't worry! Keep reading Cook Scrap Craft because you never know when I'll have random book (and other fun stuff) giveaways!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Twelve-Fingered Boy - YA Book Review

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Shreve Cannon has been in juvenile detention for six months and already has a reputation as the go-to guy for illegal candy purchases. He's making the most of his time in juvie, but all that changes when he gets a new cellmate. There's something different about Jack, and it's not just that he's quiet or cries himself to sleep at night. Jack has six fingers on each hand, and when he gets angry, bad things happen. Think The Incredible Hulk.

A man named Quincrux periodically visits Jack in juvie, and from what Shreve understands after eavesdropping on the conversations, Quincrux is very interested in Jack's physical abnormality but wants more than Jack is willing or able to give. The only way to escape Quincrux is to escape juvie.

So Shreve and Jack team up and use Jack's "angry" power and Shreve's newly discovered mental powers to break out and go on the lam. They're not sure where they're going or why they're the ones with these mysterious powers, and staying one step ahead of Quincrux is easier said than done.

This is the first book in a series from author John Hornor Jacobs. The second book, The Shibboleth, recently came out, and I'm eager to read it to see what happens next. This first book answers all the questions it can, but there's still so much more for the readers and Jack and Shreve to discover. The ending definitely leaves you wanting more, and I have a feeling that this is a series where all will be revealed at the very end.

This is for kids in grades 9-12, so ages 14/15-18. I think that's a pretty appropriate age range. The main characters are 15 and 13, and there is some language throughout the book as well as parts toward the end that get a little violent.

The Twelve-Fingered Boy is published by Carolrhoda Lab and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - March 24

Alrighty, here it is. Another week, another meal plan Monday!

Sunday: Land o Lakes Saute Express chicken and potatoes

Monday: Udi's gluten-free bagel pizzas

Tuesday: gluten-free chicken tenders and fries

Wednesday: Trader Joe's rice pasta mac & cheese

Thursday: bacon and eggs

Friday: chicken, pasta, and spinach

Saturday: out

Friday, March 21, 2014

Returning to Shore - YA Book Review

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When 15-year-old Clare's mother weds for the third time, Clare is shipped off to spend time with her father while her mother and new stepfather go on their honeymoon. The only problem is that Clare hasn't seen her father since she was 3.

All these years, Clare has thought that her father didn't want to see her. But living in such close proximity to her father in his small cottage on Cape Cod's Blackfish Island, Clare begins to question much of what she thought to be true. 

I really liked this book. It deals with some deep stuff but in a not-too-complicated way. It's nice to see Clare evolve not only in her relationship with her father but also in her understanding of herself. In the beginning, Clare isn't really sure who she is and who her family is. The only father she's truly known is her first stepfather, and she's a little devastated that he's no longer married to her mom and confused about what to do now that he's not. Is he still her dad? And in terms of her real dad, well, he doesn't feel like a real dad because Clare hardly knows him.

This is definitely a coming-of-age story that shows readers, girls especially, that they can stand up for themselves and be comfortable in their own skin. This book is age-graded for 12-18, and I think that is a very accurate age range.

Returning to Shore is published by Carolrhoda Lab and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Colonial Michilimackinac

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our visit to Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island. Well, there's another fort nearby that also has a lot of history. In fact, it was the original Fort Mackinac!!

I'm talking about Colonial Michilimackinac.

It's the "First Fort", as I titled my layout, because Fort Michilimackinac was built by the French in 1714-1715. It eventually changed hands to the British, who moved the whole thing over to Mackinac Island during the American Revolution and changed the name to Fort Mackinac. 


Much like Fort Mackinac, Colonial Michilimackinac features re-enactments of musket firings, cannon firings, and old-timey games. You can also take walking tours to learn about specific portions of the fort's history. (If you take the tour about the Native American attack on the fort, beware. Depending on your guide, it can get kind of graphic. Our guide registered the look on my mom's face and knew to turn it down a notch.)

If you purchase a three-park ticket, you get admission to Fort Mackinac AND Colonial Michilimackinac. It's a pretty great deal. Plus, you don't have to visit both parks on the same day, which is convenient because while Fort Mackinac is on Mackinac Island, Colonial Michilimackinac is in Mackinaw City, Michigan. So after we finished our two days on the island, we spent the next day driving down to Mackinaw City for the lighthouse and this fort.


I've still got lots more to share with you from last year's summer vacation. If you've been following along with my Mackinac Island posts and you're thinking this sounds like a good vacation for you this year, then get planning now!! It's a pretty popular tourist destination, and the good hotels will start selling out. You can see my hotel recommendation here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Young Adult Book Giveaway

Alright kids! I'm feeling generous! I've got two YA books that I've recently reviewed, and I want to give them away. Two lucky commenters will receive a copy of either Liv, Forever or Half Bad.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me which of these two books you'd most like to read. Easy! You have until March 25, 2014 to enter.

On March 26, I'll randomly select two winners, one for Liv, Forever and one for Half Bad. The book you choose in the comments will be the one you are eligible to win.

And now for some important stuff:

 - If you don't leave your email in the comments or have a valid Google+ account, I will not be able to contact you if you win, and therefore, your comment will be ineligible.

- This giveaway is only open to residents of the contiguous U.S. - no Hawaii, Alaska, or international entries.

- Once I contact the winners, they will have two weeks to send me their mailing addresses. If I don't hear from the winners within two weeks, I will pick a new winner/winners.

Good luck, everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - March 17

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I am not Irish, but my husband is. Even so, we don't really celebrate this holiday. My husband brought home Irish Soda Bread that one of his student's parents had made. That was good!

And here are some more good things to eat:

Sunday: chicken parmesan with spaghetti and gluten-free Brazilian cheese buns

Monday: mac and cheese with green beans (Trying a new gluten-free boxed macaroni and cheese for this...)

Tuesday: grilled cheese and Amy's Cream of Tomato Soup

Wednesday: Gorton's Tilapia with rice and corn

Thursday: bacon and egg cups with hash browns

Friday: on our own

Saturday: out!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Storm Inside - Book Review

I guess I've been reading a lot of books about how to push past things that are holding you back in order to be the best God-centered person you can be. The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh is one such book.

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This book was written as a way to help Christian women move on from the storms within us, the chaos and emotional pain that bogs us down. Through Sheila's motivational speaking, she's come in contact with many women and has found that Christian women are not immune to certain issues and burdens. There are 10 big ones that Sheila has identified:

Heartache
Disappointment
Fear
Bitterness
Unforgiveness
Anger
Regret
Abandonment
Shame
Insecurity

Each chapter deals with one of these burdens and offers ways for women to take it to God and free themselves of whatever is beating them down most.

This would be a great book for an all-women church group to read together, especially because, as Sheila writes, Christian women tend to not share their emotions. Everything gets hidden away because of a false belief that "if you're not strong, then you're not relying on Christ." But nothing could be further from the truth.

The Storm Inside is published by Nelson Books and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fitness Flower Bathroom Begonia - Review

If you're anything like me, it can be hard to find time in your busy schedule (or long commuting schedule) to find time to exercise. But did you know that there are several things you can do right in the comfort of your own bathroom to help you improve your health and strength?

That's the idea behind the Fitness Flower Bathroom Begonia. I got a chance to try out this cool device for free in exchange for reviewing it.

This cute little flower shows you six different exercises and stretches that you can do in your bathroom while you're also getting ready in the morning or getting ready for bed at night. It includes a 2-minute timer, and it suction cups to your bathroom mirror. Just spin the flower around as you go through each exercise. Exercises include squats while brushing your teeth, wall push-ups while drying your hands, and tricep dips while swishing your mouthwash.

These are all really easy to do and not only help you get some exercise in your daily routine, but also help you remember to do important steps, such as brushing your teeth for a full two minutes and flossing. (Although, I still am not coordinated enough to floss and do leg lifts. I'm trying.)


Plus, this includes several exercises and stretches that you can do while you're in bed!! IN BED!!!!

This does require discipline, and I must admit, there have been nights when I'm just too tired to even try. But, as with all exercise routines, don't beat yourself up if you don't do the routine one day. Just do it the next day!

Fitness Flower is available for $19.95 online or in select stores in California, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Arkansas, and Georgia. You can find out more about Fitness Flower, purchase the product, or find which stores carry it at FitnessFlower.com.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Liv, Forever - YA Book Review

http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/01/23/liv-forever-trailer-amy-talkington/4791547/

Today I'm participating in a blog tour for the new YA novel Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington. This book is like the movie Ghost for teenagers.

Olivia (Liv) Bloom is excited to receive an art scholarship to attend the prestigious boarding school Wickham Hall. She loves art, but she's also happy to be getting away from her adoptive parents. Liv hopes that maybe Wickham Hall is where she can finally fit in. Even though she's not as preppy as the other students, Liv does find a friend and maybe more in Malcolm, a handsome "Wicky" with a family legacy at Wickham Hall. Malcolm and Liv bond over art and music, and things seem to be going well for the two of them despite protestations from Malcolm's preppy friends and Liv's work-study partner, the outcast Gabe.

But then Liv dies.

She doesn't leave Wickham Hall, however. Her ghost remains, and Liv must depend on Gabe, who can see ghosts - and yes, there are many at Wickham Hall, and Malcolm to help figure out who or what killed her and uncover a legacy of death at the school.

This was definitely an entertaining whodunit. For teens who like the supernatural and unconventional love stories, Liv, Forever delivers.

You can watch the trailer for this book by clicking the image at the top of this post or by clicking on this link.

Liv, Forever is published by SOHO Teen and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - March 10

We're experiencing some warmer weather this week. I am so ready for spring! This cold stuff is getting me down. Plus, I'm tired of paying high gas bills!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: loaded baked potatoes and salad

Monday: on our own

Tuesday: sloppy joes & fries

Wednesday: chicken caesar salad

Thursday: smoked sausage and rice

Friday: on our own

Saturday: out

Friday, March 7, 2014

What's for Dinner?

Does your husband, kid, or other family member ever ask you repeatedly "What's for dinner?" even after you've already told them? Well, we can't expect everyone to have super amazing memories like us, now, can we?

But instead of having to repeat yourself, just direct your loved ones to the kitchen menu board.






I first saw this on a fellow scrapbooker's blog, and I loved the idea so much that I pinned it to Pinterest! And it has taken me FOREVER to finally get around to making it. You can see the pin by clicking on this link.

Did you know that you can write on glass with a Dry Erase marker? You can! And then just wipe it off when you need to write something new. Because of that fun fact, you can also create your own menu board using a simple picture frame, Dry Erase marker, and scrapbook supplies!

I went to The Dollar Tree and bought a $1 picture frame, took it home, broke out my scrapbook stuff, and decorated a background. Then, I put my background into the frame and wrote on the glass with a Dry Erase marker. I used blue because our black one is running low on ink, but I think a darker color will show up better.





Our kitchen has not been remodeled (and probably won't be for quite some time), but I still went with my dream kitchen color scheme: light blue and brown. Actually, I want some red and white in there, so I might go back and add a red and white element to this.

You can see my dream kitchen color scheme in my My Kitchen Pinterest board.

I haven't yet attached a Dry Erase marker to the frame itself, but I think I will do that just so that there is always a marker at the ready.

How do you keep track of your weekly meal plan?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Make Your Own Boot Tray

What's a boot tray? I saw this on Pinterest, and it really sparked my interest. (Ooo, that rhymed!)

You know those old stained baking sheets you have in your kitchen? They look kind of beat up from all the cooking you've done with them. Well, what if you purchase yourself some nice new baking sheets (or have a family member purchase you new ones for Christmas - thanks, Mom and Dad!) and turn those old baking sheets into a tray to keep your dirty, snowy, rainy boots off your nice, shiny floors?


The original post didn't really give much direction, but it's so easy to do. I found these river rocks in the craft section of The Dollar Tree. (I don't know if they have them at other dollar stores.)

I used three bags per baking sheet. You don't have to adhere the rocks to the baking sheets. Just dump them on top of the baking sheets, and then place your snow and rain boots on top. Easy peasy!


This was one of the things I wanted to get done as part of our entryway remodel. I plan on purchasing a small side table that will go over these boot trays and keep our car keys and mail somewhat organized.

But first, I need to remove the wallpaper!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Half Bad - YA Book Review

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Nathan's family are White Witches, so that makes him a White Witch, too, right? It would if Nathan had the same father as his siblings, but he doesn't. His father is the powerful Black Witch Marcus. That makes Nathan half White and half Black. That also makes Nathan an enemy to the Council of White Witches.

Because of this, Nathan grows up an outcast and is eventually imprisoned for what and who he is. The White Witches are training Nathan to be used as a weapon against his father. But Nathan doesn't want to kill anyone. He just wants to know his father and escape his captors.

Not only is Half Bad the first book in a new trilogy, but it's also the debut book by author Sally Green. This book is getting some early praise, being called the next Hunger Games. There are some similarities, but this book also draws from the magic/fantasy/dystopian world that so many young adult authors are creating nowadays. It's a good book and definitely kept my attention. There are a lot of characters, and some of them you only meet briefly, so it can be hard to keep everyone straight. It can also be hard to understand what is going on in this magical world because you're kind of learning different things about the witches as Nathan learns them. Things aren't always clear right away, leaving you to wonder if maybe you missed something a few pages back.

I wasn't given an age recommendation for the book, but I think it's safe to say that it's going to appeal to teens and adults who enjoy similar book series, such as The Hunger Games.

Half Bad is published by Viking and is available to purchase today. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - March 3

We're having another snowy and cold week this week, but I think once we reach the end of this week, the super cold spell will be over with. Can you believe how excited I am for 40 degrees?

Here's what we're eating while we wait for slightly warmer temps:

Sunday: Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops with Spinach and Baked Potatoes

Monday: BLT Chicken Pasta

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: on our own

Friday: Udi's Bagel Pizzas

Saturday: Gorton's Tilapia and White Rice

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Clout - Book Review

Before reading Jenni Catron's book Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence, I had no idea there were so many things I was doing that were holding me back, what Catron calls Clout Killers: fear, comparison, jealousy, scarcity, insecurity, pride, and control. This book definitely makes you take a hard look at your own actions and offers positive actions to replace the negative all in the hopes of making you a better God-influenced leader. It's all about understanding our spiritual gifts and talents and how to more effectively use them.

Obviously, this topic is really helpful to those in leadership positions in the workplace or those who aspire to those positions. Most of the examples deal with workplace scenarios. However, I think that all of us can really benefit from reading this book because it helps open your eyes to how you're spending your time and focus. Do you spend all day on Facebook comparing yourself to others? Break free from these traps, and when you do, you can live your best God-influenced life and inadvertently, maybe, influence others no matter what the setting.

I marked up so many pages of this book, and I wish I had read this as part of a Bible study or something. It has kind of inspired me to create an online Bible study to facilitate discussion with others who are reading this book. I've got to figure out the logistics of how it will go down (Facebook page? A series of blog posts?), so stay tuned!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”