Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review :: NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible

The NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible is a hardcover study Bible for kids. 
At the front of the NIrV Kids' Quest Study Bible is a presentation page, "Table of Contents", "Books of the Bible Alphabetically", "Introduction to This Bible", and "A Word About the NIrV". The text of the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible is laid out in two columns per page, with blue text (including the words of Christ) and orange headings. This is the NIrV version of the Bible (© 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014). 

Each book of the Bible is preceded by an introduction (telling basics like: who wrote it, why, what happens, what can be learned about God, important figures, when did it happen, etc.). At the end of many books of the Bible is a "Quest Challenge" (a real life challenge to live as God desires) and/or a "Quest Clue" (a clue of where to look in the Bible for more information about a given topic). At the back of the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible is a 10-page Dictionary and a 4-page Topical Index (referencing the topics discussed in the "Kids' Questions" sections).

Throughout the Bible (at the bottom of the pages) are questions from kids and answers (from the Questions Children Ask About God series), featuring little cartoon illustrations. There are references to a main verse to check out (found on the page where the question is) as well as related verses (from elsewhere in the Bible). The answers to the questions are short, to-the-point, and informative. Not all questions are directly from the text (ex: "Why Are Nuclear Weapons Even Around?"is asked and answered in Daniel 9), but those are the exception, not the rule.

I found the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible to be informative and a great start in how to study the Bible for kids.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Adventures in Bible art & journaling :: Everywhere that man can be...God is present there

The idea for the art on this Bible page was prompted by the song, "I Sing the Mighty Power of God". 

Too often I just go about my day with my mind on my tasks and getting distracted by situations that arise, but I want to intentionally focus on this idea that God is always with us...everywhere...in every situation...all the time.
{Journaling says: "Everywhere that man can be, You, God, are present there."}

I thought this idea went well with David's words in Psalm 27, so that is where I chose to put it in my Bible.

I'm going to try to keep this idea at the front of my mind today.

Have a great day!
Find all my posts pertaining to Bible art or journaling here.

Bible: Zondervan (NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition);
Stamps: Ink Blot Shop, LLC (This & That, Chunky Alphabet (Solid), Trinity Names, Grace Shines Words);

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review :: Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made The Animals by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by David Walker

Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made The Animals is a board book by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by David Walker. 

Baa! Oink! Moo! follows a mother and her child as they come upon a variety of farm animals. The story is written in rhyme, and includes animal sounds (some in the story text, some just on the page).
Baa! Oink! Moo! is a great companion to Only God Can Make a Kitten (by the same author). Where Only God Can Make a Kitten mainly addresses items in nature that God has made (seed, rain, ocean, stone, tree, etc.), Baa! Oink! Moo! is about various animals that God has created. The animals in Baa! Oink! Moo! are a variety of animals you might find on a farm (sheep, dove, pig, cow, chick, puppy, horse, hens, ducks, goat, bunny).

The illustrations in Baa! Oink! Moo! are cuddly and adorable - definitely a great feature of this book.

I love books that remind us to look around at all the amazing things that God has created, and this is definitely a cute one.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review :: When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow

When God Made You is an incredible book!
When God Made You is a positive, uplifting book that celebrates uniqueness and diversity, all in the context of being created by God. 

The rhyming text in this book feels so unique - it is Dr. Seuss-ish with a poetic flair. It is a literary step above other children's books on the market, in my opinion. I can't think of another way to describe it, but it just feels different from the typical rhyming books for children...and I love that!

The illustrations just add to the incredible text in When God Made You. Our family loves the illustrator's quirky, unique style. (We have another book illustrated by David Catrow: I Like Myself! - also a great one!)

When God Made You is such a wonderful, confidence-building book and I just can't say enough positive about it. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review :: The Jesus Storybook Bible - Keepsake Gift Edition by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago


With the new The Jesus Storybook Bible (Keepsake Gift Edition), there are just a few changes. The cover is a beautiful blue cloth-like textured hardcover with gold foil accents. The book is also bigger and offers larger page sizes (about 1 inch both in height and in width). The illustrations and text are all just scaled up (which means it offers larger illustrations and a larger font size), which is great for reading to a family and/or group. This edition remains the same thickness/page count as the previous editions.  
Our family started out with The Jesus Storybook Bible in the Deluxe Edition (with CDs) - and we have loved it! We keep the CDs in the car at all times and have loved reading the book together.

If you have not yet experienced The Jesus Storybook Bible - it is fabulous! It is a storybook Bible, so you need to keep in mind that this is written as a "story" and the author may take some liberties in descriptions of events, etc. What I love is that every story finishes with a tie back to Jesus. Even as an adult, I have learned from The Jesus Storybook Bible, and I love that my kids have it as part of their foundation. 

I would love to see the larger book size of The Jesus Storybook Bible (Keepsake Gift Edition) paired with the audio CDs as a set - that would be the best combination, in my opinion.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review :: Found (Psalm 23) by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

Found is a new board book from the winning duo who wrote and illustrated The Jesus Storybook Bible: Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago. Found is a padded cover board book, and has been a big hit with our littlest one. 
The wording in Found is taken directly from the story "The Good Shepherd" in The Jesus Storybook Bible when it is paraphrasing Psalm 23. (The whole story of The Good Shepherd is not in here, just the Psalm 23 portion.)

The illustrations in Found, however, are new - and I love them! They are beautifully done in calm colors and just create a very peaceful feeling.

Our littlest one loves to read "Shepherd Found" (as he calls this book) - and he likes to read it often. It's definitely a keeper!
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Adventures in Bible art & journaling :: The Lord Will Provide

The idea for this page was sparked by a conversation a couple weeks ago - during a time when our church family gets together and shares some of the highs and lows of the week as well as where we saw God show up. There were a couple of people that night that talked about how they had experiences or come to a clearer understanding of God always being there for us, even when we might not see it. 
{Journaling says: "Even when we don't understand how...the Lord will provide."}

The story in Genesis 22 is one that talks about God's provision (and even ends up with a place named "The Lord Will Provide") - so that is where I went for my art. I did a little painting, stamping, and drawing/lettering. Nothing fancy, but I love that the focus stays on the ram - the visual representation of the Lord's provision.   

I hope you have a wonderful day!
Find all my posts pertaining to Bible art or journaling here.

Bible: Zondervan (NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition);
Stamps: Ink Blot Shop, LLC (Floral Frenzy, This & That);

Thursday, March 2, 2017

NEW RELEASES from Ink Blot Shop, LLC!

Hello!
I'm so excited to say that I've got two new stamp sets available now over at Ink Blot Shop, LLC!
As a crafter, I love to be able to create unique sentiments for the occasion at hand, so I created some stamp sets that will allow me (and you, too!) to do just that.

Here is a look at Kindness & Thanks (Mixed Greetings):
With this one you can stamp sentiments like:
- Thanks for everything
- You are simply the best
- Congratulations on your big day
- Your kindness is appreciated
- Wishing you joy
- I am so thankful for you
...and a whole lot more!

And here is Comfort & Hugs (Mixed Greetings):
With this set you can stamp sentiments such as:
- Get better soon
- Sending sunshine your way
- You are in our thoughts & prayers
- With deepest sympathy
- Hugs & kisses
- May peace surround you in this time of sorrow
- Never forget that I love you
...and many more!

Both of these stamp sets are large (6x8) clear stamp sets and are packed with words...and have some cute florals, too. Everything is designed so that you can mix and match not only within each stamp set, but between the two sets as well.

I'm so excited about these new sets and I hope you are, too!

Have a great day!
PS - If you'd like to see one of the new stamp sets in action, be sure to check out Jennifer McGuire's newest video on YouTube:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Review :: Noah, Noah, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

Noah, Noah, What Do You See? was an instant favorite in our house. And I mean FAVORITE - a day is not complete if we don't read "Noah, Noah, See" (what my little guy calls it) at least once. 

In Noah, Noah, What Do You See?, we look in on Adam, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Daid, Daniel, Esther, Jonah, Mary, Zacchaeus, Peter, Paul, a little child, and Jesus - and we find out what they "see". Some of the things they "see" aren't exactly visual (ex: Paul sees an earthquake), but that is being nit-picky. You will definitely get a lot of practice saying the words "see" and "me" in this book, but it is such a cute idea that it is worth it.

My little guy loves this book so much that I am considering buying two - one to keep in the car or at church. This one is definitely a must-have in our house!
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Adventures in Bible art & journaling :: Abide With Me

Well, I've done several reviews of Christian books and journaling Bibles lately, but haven't done much actual Bible journaling. I am trying to get back in the swing of things, though, and this page is my "comeback":
I made a weave of washi tape, gave it a little layer of paint to stamp on, and then stamped and did some quick coloring. It was a fairly simple approach, but has kept this idea ("Abide With Me") bouncing around in my head for weeks...which is why I love Bible art & journaling so much. 

Have a great day!
Find all my posts pertaining to Bible art or journaling here.

Supplies:
Bible: Zondervan (NIV Holy Bible, Journal Edition);
Stamps: Ink Blot Shop, LLC (
Floral Frenzy, Chunky Alphabet (Solid)); Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps (Outline Alpha);
Ink: Ranger (Archival - Jet Black);
Tape: Washi Tape;
Paint: Plaid (Apple Barrel - Antique Parchment);
Page Prep: Ranger (Multi Medium - Matte, Clear Gesso);

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review :: NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible, Hardcover

The NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible is both a Bible and devotional in one. (I received the hardcover edition to review, but it is also available in imitation leather.)
At the front of the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible is a presentation page, Table of Contents, "How To Use Your Devotional Bible", and "A Word About the NIrV". The text of the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible is laid out in two columns per page, with all black text (including the words of Christ). This is the NIrV version of the Bible (© 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014). Each book of the Bible is preceded by a short introduction (a paragraph or two). 
Extra "Got It!" devotions are found at the end of many of the books of the Bible.
At the back is a Dictionary and a "Subject Guide" (referencing the topics discussed in the devotions). 

The NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible contains devotionals to read: one per day during the week and one on the weekend, enough for a full year.
The general format of the devotions is:
- a verse (written out) plus a reference to read for the day (weekend devotions have verses for both Saturday and Sunday)
- a short devotion
- a prompt ("Ask Yourself" for weekday devotions) or prompts ("Some Things to Think About" and "Some Things to Do" for the weekend devotions)
- a check box ("I Have Read This Devotion")
- a note telling you where to find the next devotion and where to read more about the current devotion's topic
What I found extra exciting about the NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible (on top of the other things previously mentioned) is the cute line art. As someone who loves Bible art & journaling, I automatically saw an opportunity for this to be used as an introduction to Bible art for kids (like a coloring book) as well. Although the devotional artwork is repeated throughout (Monday's devotions always feature the image of a sun, Tuesday's devotions always feature the paint palette image, etc.), and the book artwork has several images that are repeated, I find this to be a good "dip" into the Bible art waters.
The NIrV Kids' Devotional Bible immediately gained my interest (and the interest of my children), and I think it is a great value for a kids' Bible.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Recipe :: Herbed Cream Cheese, Pesto, and Bacon Chicken (for a crowd...or for your freezer)

This is a recipe I've been asked for many times, so I figured it was time to "officially" write it out. It was inspired by a dinner that our family got once from one of the assemble-your-own-freezer-meal places (I can't remember what it was called), and I messed around with the ingredients until I got the flavor I wanted. 


This is a great option to make in a large quantity and freeze in portions that will work for your family size. For our family of 6 big eaters, this makes 3 freezer meals. (Yay for freezer meals!) It is also very easy to make for a crowd, so I am sharing a crowd-sized recipe. 

Ingredients:
16-18 pieces frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or approx. 6 lbs., depending on the size of the pieces)
52-60 oz. marinara sauce (meat-free)
5-8 oz. cooked bacon crumbles (or substitute with 1 uncooked piece of bacon per piece of chicken)
1/3-1/2 c. prepared pesto sauce
Herbed Cream Cheese (recipe below)

Looking to make this in a smaller quantity? For 6 pieces of chicken you will need approximately 20 oz. of marinara sauce, 1-2 oz. cooked bacon crumbles, 2 tbsp. pesto, and 6 tbsp. herbed cream cheese.

To make the Herbed Cream Cheese:
8 oz. tub of whipped cream cheese (or substitute with 8 oz. softened cream cheese)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried dill

Directions:
For the full recipe: set out four 9x12 casserole dishes.
Tip: If you are using uncooked bacon and want to broil it to get it crispy, make sure you are using metal casserole dishes. I have some from this line. This one might be a good pan option, too.
Pour marinara sauce into the bottom of each of the dishes, making sure the bottom is covered with about 1/4" of sauce.
Lay frozen chicken breasts into the casserole dishes.
Place approximately 1 tsp. of pesto on top of each chicken breast.
Place approximately 1 tbsp. of herbed cream cheese on top of each chicken breast. (If I have some left over, I like to dot it over the marinara sauce in the dish.)
Sprinkle bacon crumbles over the top (or if you are using uncooked bacon, place one strip of bacon on each piece of chicken).

If you are preparing this as a freezer meal, cover your casserole dishes and place them in the freezer.
Tip: If you are using a metal pan, do not cover directly with foil. Use plastic wrap to create a barrier between the metal pan and the foil, otherwise your foil will create a battery and "melt" into your meal. Yikes!

When you are ready to cook your meal, place into an oven that has been pre-heated to 375 degrees.
Bake (uncovered) for approximately 45 minutes or until the chicken (and any uncooked bacon) are cooked through. If you started with uncooked bacon, you can use your oven's broiler to crisp up your bacon (just be sure your pan is broiler safe!).

We love to serve this with rice, making sure to scoop out some extra sauce onto our rice.
It's also great with mashed potatoes.
And don't forget to make some delicious rolls to go with it, too.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review :: Read & Play Baby Bible illustrated by Gustavo Mazali

The Read & Play Baby Bible is a padded cover board book with lots of Bible stories and themes (22, to be exact) to share with little ones. 
The illustrations are cute, with a unique (digital + crayon strokes) style to them. The images are colorful and sweet. 

What I really appreciate about the variety of topics in this book is that there are many stories/themes which just don't seem to get highlighted in many of the books for little ones. Each page opening is a different topic. Here they are:
- God Made Everything (Genesis 1:1-27; Creation)
- The Beautiful Rainbow (Genesis 7:1-12; Noah's Ark)
- A Happy Baby (Genesis 21:1-7; Isaac)
- A Coat for Joseph (Genesis 37:1-3)
- A Baby in a Basket (Exodus 2:1-10; Moses)
- Away Goes the Water (Exodus 14:15-22; Moses/Parting of the sea)
- Ruth Stayed with Naomi (Ruth 1:14-18)
- A Quiet Prayer (1 Samuel 1:9-18; Hannah)
- Who Is Calling Samuel? (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
- David Sings to God (1 Samuel 16:18-23)
- Esther Asks for Help (Esther 5:1-5)
- Daniel and the Lions (Daniel 6:16-23)
- Baby Jesus (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12; Birth of Jesus)
- Jesus is Lost (Luke 2:39-52; Jesus at the temple)
- Jesus Stops the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)
- Jesus the Shepherd (Luke 15:1-7)
- Food for Everyone (Matthew 14:14-21; Loaves and Fish)
- Come and Get a Hug! (Matthew 19:13-15; Jesus loves the little children)
- High Up in the Tree (Luke 19:1-10; Zacchaeus)
- Jesus Is with Me (Matthew 28:20)
- God Always Listens (John 14:13-14)
- Up in Heaven (Revelation 21:3-4)

While I think the images are cute, I must say that this book just cannot keep my little one's attention. (In fact, he saw me looking at it by myself and came over to cover it up with another book.) He has not let me get farther than a couple pages of reading it to him, and he loves to listen to books. It is just not a hit in our house. 

I do appreciate the concept of the book (short stories for little ones with interactive moments to bring the story to life for the child), but think that the stories themselves are lacking. They are so short (just a couple sentences each) and don't have much to them. Some of the sentences just don't seem to flow like a natural conversation and, personally, I feel like they would have more "punch" to them if they had been written in rhyme.

While this book may be great for some, it's just not one for us. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review :: God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrott, illustrated by Estelle Corke

God Made You Nose to Toes is a cute book about the body and how God made each part to do what it does. It is a board book, written in rhyme. 
The little boy and the toucan on the cover of God Made You Nose to Toes are depicted on each page opening. The body parts referenced are: nose, hand, knees, eyes, ear, mouth, teeth, hairs, head, & big toe. The illustrations are big and colorful, and my little guy loves to look at them. I like to have him pick out where the toucan is on each page.

I love that God Made You Nose to Toes focuses on how God made each part of us to be useful. It is a fun, easy book to read with your little one.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review :: I'm Going To Give You A Bear Hug! by Caroline B. Cooney, illustrated by Tim Warnes

I'm Going To Give You A Bear Hug! is a fun book about hugs (& the animals that might give them in different ways). The book is available in both a board book version and a hardcover version. There really isn't much difference (between the obvious difference in page thickness), but there is one additional picture in the hardcover version (the first page of the story). 
The illustrations in I'm Going To Give You A Bear Hug! are really adorable. I think it's a fun bonus that each of the animals has the same polka dot pattern somewhere on them that the mom has on at the beginning of the book. What I love to do while reading I'm Going To Give You A Bear Hug! is to hug my child at the end of each hug description. The hug descriptions aren't necessarily something that will change the way you hug (how can you give a "knock over chairs, chase up the stairs" hug?), but it is fun to read and look at the pictures, anyway.

While I don't think that I'm Going To Give You A Bear Hug! is an "essential" on the book shelf, I really do enjoy it and my little one loves to read it. Hugging the ones you love is a good thing.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.