Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog Tour: A Heart Revealed (Review)

What happens when the past shackles you from moving into the future?

Can a person's devotion to faith and family become distorted and even un-Biblical at times?

These are just two of the questions Julie Lessman explores in the second book of her Winds of Change series.

In A Heart Revealed, Lessman unpacks the story of Emma Malloy, who fled Dublin for Boston - from her abusive husband and more.

Emma's life carries a lot of shame and agony. When she starts to fall for Sean O'Connor, her past threatens to stop the future before it even begins.

Lessman has an interesting writing style. She manages to create a strong stand-alone novel, that is still linked to the previous four novels. The lives of each character, big or small, are unpacked a bit more.

Through the interaction with the main characters - Sean and Emma - we learn more about everyone else, and see how the friendships and kinships shape all of their lives.

It's truly a "snapshot" of life in Boston in the 20s/30s. If you like this time period, then this novel is definitely for you!

More About The Author
Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted, which was one of 2010's Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners.

Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She lives in Missouri.

Online Resources
Julie Lessman's website: http://www.julielessman.com/
Learn more about the entire series (and the pre-series, Daughters of Boston) here.
Buy A Heart Revealed At Amazon
My Review of Lessman's first book: A Hope Undaunted (Review)

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blog Tour: Lancaster County Christmas (Review)

What happens when the world of two women, one Amish, the other English, collide during a Christmas snow storm?

Can the two women, searching for different things find the answers they need, all while building a relationship together?

These are but a few of the questions that swirl around the small, but packed Christmas novel - Lancaster County Christmas - by Suzanne Woods Fisher.

This is the first Christmas novel for Fisher, who writes Amish fiction drawing on her family background (her grandfather was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church).

The novel, simple on the outside, is complex in its layers.

Mattie and her husband (characters from previous Lancaster County novels), desperately want to have another baby - but life and  health seem to be conspiring against her.

Jaime wants to fill the void left after her mother's death - and is trying to figure out if that void can be filled while staying married to her husband.

Truly, through the story, both couples are striving to find out if they can weather - not only the snow storm blowing outside, but the storms brewing in their marriages.

Fisher has captured the magic of Christmas - and the simplicity of being with people you love during the holiday season.

More About The Author
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.

Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine.

Fisher is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom, and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.

Online Resources
Read an excerpt of Lancaster County Christmas
Buy It At Amazon.com
Find out more about Suzanne on her website!  

More From My Blog!
The Choice (Review & Interview) 
Amish Peace (Review & Interview)
Amish Proverbs (Review & Interview)
The Search (Review)
The Waiting (Review & Interview)
Amish Values For Your Family (Review)

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.
 
Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's another contest opportunity, open to blog readers!

Sheila Walsh is excited to announce her new series for little girls and she is celebrating Gabby’s arrival with a fun KINDLE Giveaway and an Angel FB party on October 4th!

Meet Gabby for yourself here. Help Sheila introduce Gabby - be sure to check out her video trailer promotion here!
(Or watch it here!)


In Gabby, God’s Little Angel, Gigi fans will fall in love with Gabby and learn about God’s love and provision and a little about His invisible creation, the angels.

Read what people are saying here.

Enter today - Sheila and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have put together an “Angel” prize package worth over $150.00!

One lucky winner will receive:
  • A brand new KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • Gabby, God’s Little Angel 
But wait! There’s more …
On October 4th join Sheila at her Author Page on FB for the Gabby, God’s Little Angel Party! She will announce the winner of the KINDLE, host a chat and give away a ton of fun products from the Gigi and Gabby line! RSVP today and then be sure to stop by on October 4th at 5:00 PM PST (6 PM MST, 7 PM CST, & 8 PM EST).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
As a freelance book reviewer, I was provided the following information with only the same chances that the average reader has, of winning these amazing prizes.
(Just in case anyone was worried that I might have an unfair advantage.....sigh....)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Couple of Fun Contests!

It’s Christmas in September!
(Pst. I'll have a review of this book soon!)

To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway!
The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).

Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway! 


Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at more than $600):
  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas

To enter, click one of the icons below. But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.

But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

But Wait.... There's More!
Win a custom made period dress
... and a KINDLE from Rosslyn Elliott!
Enter 9/1-9/20!

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Fairer Than MorningRosslyn Elliott is giving away two fabulous prize packages. The first is brand new KINDLE in her Fairer Than Morning Kindle Giveaway.

Then on September 20 she's giving away a $200 gift certificate toward a Custom-Made Historical Reproduction Dress (from Recollections) during the Fairer Than Morning Book Club Chat Party on Facebook! Sigh...romantic.

Fairer Than Morning is receiving wonderful reviews - Library Journal said, "A well- written historical series debut…". Read more reviews here.

Be sure to join the fun and enter the Kindle contest - 

One winner will receive:
* Kindle with Wi-Fi
* Fairer Than Morning (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/19. Winner will be announced on 9/20 at Rosslyn's Book Club Facebook Party. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Then be sure to RSVP for Rosslyn's Facebook Party! During the party Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, hosting a book chat about Fairer Than Morning (don't worry if you haven't read the book yet - you could win a copy!) & historical Fiction, testing your trivia skills. She'll also be giving away that $200 gift certificate toward a FABULOUS custom-made period dress from Recollections!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

As a freelance book reviewer, I was provided the following information with only the same chances that the average reader has, of winning these amazing prizes. (Just in case anyone was worried that I might ahve an unfair advantage.....sigh....)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Biog Tour: The Queen (Review)

A multilayered, techno-thriller - Steven James has crafted a page-turner with his newest book, The Queen.

The fifth in the Patrick Bowers series, The Queen continues the story of Bowers, his stepdaughter Tessa, and a host of other characters.

While it is piece in James' bigger literary puzzle, The Queen can be read as a stand-alone novel, because the primary case (or plot) of the book centers around a series of murders and events in a small Wisconsin forest.

Graphic at times (but truly nothing that you won't see on CSI or Criminal Minds, or read in a James Patterson book), James fills his thriller with sub-plots of redemption, grace and real life situations.

Bowers is not a "squeaky clean" main character. His flaws are there, for the world to see - along with his vulnerabilities and his attempt to live life not only as a FBI agent, but also as a Christian.

I found this book hard to put down. In fact, I read it over the course of less than three days. As a "late-comer" to the series, I would like to go back and read the first three books, just so I could understand the continuing storyline a bit more.

I believe this is a strong series, and definitely one that you could hand to someone who loves James Patterson, as an introduction to Christian fiction without fear.

Judging from the last chapter, this series - and Bowers' tale - is not over. I look forward to the next installment, even though I know I'll be waiting a full year for its release.

More About The Author
Steven James has penned 30+ books spanning the genres of psychological thrillers, prayer collections, dramas, monologues, a nine book series on creative storytelling, YA fantasy, and inspirational nonfiction.

He has received wide critical acclaim for his work including four Storytelling World Honor awards, two Publishers Weekly starred reviews, and 2009 and 2011 Christy Awards for best suspense. His latest thriller, The Bishop, was named both Suspense Magazine's and The Christian Manifesto's 2010 Book of the Year.

Steven earned a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from ETSU in 1997 and is an active member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime Writers.  He is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest, and has taught writing and storytelling principles on three continents.

He lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. When he's not writing or speaking, he's rock climbing, playing disc golf, or (shh....) slipping away to a matinee.

Online Resources
Read An Online Excerpt Of The Queen
Read More About the Bowers Series
Visit Steven James' Website
Buy The Queen at Amazon.com
Follow Steven James on Twitter
Like Steven James on Facebook
Read my review of The Bishop (Book 4 in the Patrick Bowers series)

Watch a book trailer about The Queen 

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blog Tour: Deadly Pursuit (Review)

What happens when a mysterious stalker threatens everything you know - including your very existence?

That's a question the main female character faces in Irene Hannon's newest book, Deadly Pursuit, the second book in the Guardians of Justice series.

Set in St. Louis, Hannon focuses this book on Alison (the lone girl in the Taylor siblings - the driving force behind the series), and her work as a child protection caseworker.

Alison has a passion for protecting children - ultimately that passion puts her into the cross-hairs of an angry, drug-addicted man, who feels like she is the source of all of his angst.

In Deadly Pursuit, Hannon has crafted a tale full of intrigue and suspense. Full of twists and turns, it will definitely keep you on your toes, trying to guess what happens next. You will also feel the tension surrounding Alison, as she struggles to live a normal life, under not-so-normal circumstances.

Once again, it's easy to recommend this book. Hannon is a strong suspense writer. The sub-plot, a budding romance between Alison and Mitch, does not dominate the story, and is written in a realistic way. (You won't feel like it's a romance book with a touch of suspense.)

So if you are looking for a weekend read, check out this book. It's well worth the time. (Pst... sometimes books in a series say they stand alone, but really don't. This truly does stand alone. Some aspects from the first book appear, but the heart of the story is new and fresh. - However, I do recommend reading the first book, Fatal Judgement, because well, it's just as good as this one!)

On a side note...(slight spoiler alert)  I was intrigued by her reference to a bridge in Times Beach, Missouri - a town that no longer exists outside of St. Louis, due to dioxin contamination. (It's now a state park, in honor of Route 66). I of course, had to google the bridge to see what inspired those scenes. Just an interesting thing that tugged on this Missouri Gal's heart.

About The Author
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way.

Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and two Reviewer's Choice Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.

Online Resources
An online excerpt of Deadly Pursuit.
Buy Deadly Pursuit at Amazon
Buy Deadly Pursuit at Barnes & Noble
Visit Irene Hannon's website
Follow her tweets on Twitter
Read my Review Fatal Judgement (the first book in the Guardians of Justice Series)

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blog Tour: The Second Messiah (Review)

What happens if a newly-discovered ancient document identifies another messiah. Is Jesus a victim of identity theft or is something else at work?

What would people - both religious and political leaders - do to keep it's discovery and contents hidden?

Those are just a few of the questions addressed in Glenn Meade's newest novel, The Second Messiah.

"Numerous references and warnings exist in scripture regarding false prophets and false messiahs," explained Meade. "Jesus himself made some of these warnings."

In this novel, Meade's main character, archeologist Jack Cane, discovers a manuscript near the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls recovery.
 
As the novel twists and turns, Meade travels throughout the Middle East, and ends up at the Vatican, all in the search of the truth.

The Second Messiah  is a cross between Biblical fiction and Indiana Jones, is 479 pages of intrigue and subterfuge. At times its a bit clunky and hard to track exactly what happens - but it definitely full of many layers. (With so many layers, sometimes it's hard to decide who are the villains and who are the good guys.)

If you like historical Biblical fiction with a dose of political intrigue - with a dash of Indiana Jones tossed in, then Meade's book is right up your alley. I'd give it a strong three stars on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.


"Sometimes, stories find the writer and not the other way round. I think that happened with The Second Messiah," Meade continued. "Archeology and religion have always interested me -- I've written about both before, though in a minor way -- but I guess mulling over my own life kick-started combining both subjects in a novel."


More About The Author
Glenn Meade was born in Finglas, Dublin in 1957. His novels to date have all been international bestsellers, translated into over twenty languages and have enjoyed both critical and commercial success.

He worked in the field of pilot training for Aer Lingus for many years and as a journalist for the Irish Times. He now writes full time.

Online Resources
Find out more about The Second Messiah from the publisher.
Download a reading guide to The Second Messiah
Browse inside The Second Messiah
Find The Second Messiah at Amazon
Find The Second Messiah at Barnes & Noble

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by The DeMoss Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

AIC: The Pizza That Became A Casserole

So Today's Adventures In Cooking (now known as AIC for short) called for making Deep Dish Pizza.

Basically a creation made using a refrigerated pizza crust, hamburger, tomato sauce with Italian spices, and mozzarella cheese.

In theory, this should have looked like a regular pizza in a 9x13 inch pan.

Sometimes theories go out the window.... when the pizza crust came out of the can ripped - and wouldn't roll out, I was left with having to improvise quickly.

So I poured the meat and sauce into the bottom of a pie pan, added a layer of mozzarella slices (not sure why they had me buy slices, instead of shredded cheese, and then "dropped" the dough on top like biscuits.

Actually, mom reminded me of her "bubble pizza" (after this was finished) which consisted of those refrigerated tube biscuits, cut into fourths, and dropped into the bottom of a pan, and baked with the meat, sauce and cheese on top.

So, subconsciously, I must have been channeling mom when I started trying to fix it.

For the record, it doesn't look great, but it's pretty tasty. I'll probably keep the recipe, but change it up for those refrigerated biscuits and maybe toss in some more cheese (can't get enough of cheese) and if I feel really jazzy, add some pepperoni.

Just another post in the adventures in cooking......

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!
A note from a friend - sliced provolone cheese would make this taste lie the former Pizza By Stout pizza (a Joplin landmark that didn't make it through the May 2011 tornado.... ahh... just one of their many secrets to amazing pizza!

Blog Tour: Out Of A Far Country (Review)

In just under 250 pages, Christopher Yuan and his mother, Angela, tell a griping tale that puts a modern spin on the Biblical story of the prodigal son.

Written in tandem, the this book marks Yuan's journey as he struggles with his sexuality, becomes a drug dealer while in dental school, embraces the gay lifestyle, ends up in jail on serious drug charges and eventually discovers his HIV+ status.

It also highlights, simultaneously, the process his mother takes as she struggles to give up control (of uncontrollable situations) and instead rely solely upon God.

Sometimes in books where the "voice" jumps between two individuals can seem, well, jumbled. However, this book, written so you get both Yuan and Angela's perspectives for each time period, is written so smoothly that the dialogue is easy to follow.

This book doesn't read like a simple memoir, but rather is a  written testimony to what God did (and continues to do) in both of their lives. Through their narratives, it shows how someone can get to the bottom - in Yuan's case, landing in prison and an HIV+ diagnosis - and find redemption and grace through Jesus. It also shows how a mother simply refused to write off her son, and instead found a way to rely upon her faith and prayer, to see her to the end of the journey.

This book is not preachy, it is not a "bash gays over the head" with a Bible. Instead it's simply the story of how God worked in the life of one man, and his mother. It's good, it's powerful and it's honest, which is all you can ask for in a book like this.

It does includes an eight session study guide on prayer, redemption and holy sexuality - which Yuan says everyone should strive to have, regardless of attraction.

More About The Yuans
The Yuans Introduce The Book

Christopher Yuan's Testimony

Author Bios
Christopher Yuan
What many would consider their worst nightmare has become a reality for Christopher Yuan. While attending dental school, he began living promiscuously as a homosexual and experimenting with illicit drugs. Within a few years, he was expelled from dental school, imprisoned for drug dealing and discovered that he was HIV positive.

But God has turned his nightmare into an exciting and inspiring story of redemption, grace and transformation. Christopher has an understanding heart for and a desire to minister to those working through issues of sexuality and to those living with HIV/AIDS. He speaks locally and internationally to youth, on college campuses, in churches and in prisons.

Christopher graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2005 and Wheaton College Graduate School in 2007 with a Master of Arts in Biblical Exegesis and is currently pursuing a doctorate of ministry at Bethel Seminary. He now teaches at Moody while continuing his speaking ministry which has reached four continents around the world. Christopher has spoken at both Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church in America and at many conferences including InterVarsity's Urbana and the Moody Pastors' Conference and Men's Conference.

He is featured in the award-winning documentary, "HOPE Positive: Surviving the Sentence of AIDS" and has co-authored with his mother, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope (forthcoming May 3, 2011 by WaterBrook Multnomah a division of Random House).

Angela Yuan
Angela Yuan has experienced much heartache in her life; absentee parents, a broken marriage and a prodigal son who was hopeless and unreachable. But on the brink of despair, Angela found a God who knew her deepest need and she began a journey with Jesus which carried her through the valleys and mountain tops of life.

Born in Szechuan Province, China, she immigrated to the United States in 1964, later marrying Leon Yuan and raising two sons.

Angela has spent countless hours volunteering as the founder and president of I-CARE (Illinois Chinese-American Residence for the Elderly). In addition, she has been highly involved with Bible Study Fellowship International, serving in leadership for more than thirteen years, and was a part of the pioneering team invited by the Chinese communist government to start BSF in Beijing.

Angela is considered by many to be a prayer warrior, interceding for her children and countless others. Angela's experience comes from years of trials and knowledge gained from her failures and mistakes.

Through all of this, God has given her the grace to rely upon His power to change the unchangeable and focus upon her own daily renewal and transformation. It is this familiarity with the storms of life and her sensitivity and compassion for mothers that attracts many to seek the comfort and counsel of Angela Yuan.

Online Resources
Learn More About Yuan on his Website
Follow Yuan on Facebook
Find Yuan on Twitter
Read an online excerpt of Out of the Far Country
Buy Out of The Far Country on Amazon
Find Out of The Far Country at Barnes & Noble

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blog Tour: A Confident Heart (Review)

Confidence is defined as:
1) having strong belief or full assurance; sure: confident of fulfillment.
2) sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one's own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold: a confident speaker, and
3) excessively bold; presumptuous.

In A Confident Heart: How To Start Doubting Yourself & Live In The Security of God's Love, Renee Swope tackles a topic that plagues many women - regardless of age - doubt.

She strives to help women exchange their doubt for confidence, hope and more.

Swope's writing style flows off the page, almost straight from her heart. There's an honesty that is intriguing, and warm and inviting.

Each chapter includes a section inviting the reader to pray God's promises, as well as an assortment of questions to encourage reflection and discussion.

I think this book could be completed both both personally and within a close small group setting. In fact, her "Seven Day Doubt Diet" - available free, as a seven-day, emailed resource - might give you the taste you need to dive into the entire book. (I signed up to start it over this long, holiday weekend.)

Sign Up For The 7-Day Doubt Diet
Do you want to join me in losing the weight of discouragement and self-doubt? Renee Swope, from Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering a FREE “7-day Doubt Diet.” Just click here to enter your information in her sidebar, and you’ll receive a week’s worth of devotions from her new book, A Confident Heart.

If you start it, let me know - so we can encourage one another on this journey from doubt to confidence.

More About The Author
Renee Swope is a popular national women's conference speaker, radio show co-host, and the executive director of radio and devotions at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

She's also a contributing author to three additional books, including a Gold Medallion finalist and a People's Choice Award finalist, as well as several online and print magazines.

Swope is featured writer for Encouragement for Today online devotions that currently touch over 450,000 lives each day across the world. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.

Online Resources
Like A Confident Heart  on Facebook
Read an excerpt from A Confident Heart Here
Find out more about Renee Swope on her blog.

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Adventures in cooking (take 2)

I went grocery shopping.

Friends who know me are now picking themselves up off the floor, laughing (or from the shock).

It's not that I don't eat - but until recently, it's been easier to "grab and go" because well, I couldn't find most of my kitchen amidst the boxes.

But even before I moved, my grocery shopping skills were, well, lacking.

But, let's face it. A healthy person cannot eat out constantly (or exist on air popped popcorn.)

So, I bit the bullet and did two things today, well three.

1) Decide to take time for me today.

2) Subscribed to www.e-mealz.com. Click on the link below for more details.

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

3) I printed off a week's worth of recipes - and the corresponding shopping list - and went to Wal-Mart.

Note: If you aren't familiar with e-mealz, then here's the 411. This is a weekly meal plan, that works for small families (one to two people) to large families (four to six people). They offer everything from low fat & low carb options, to customizable lists for a variety of grocery stores.

This is the meal plan that Dave Ramsey has endorsed, through his show.

Since they haven't started offering a Kroger for the one to two people plan, I subscribed to the Wal-Mart plan.So I bit the bullet and went shopping.

The meal plan told me the groceries would cost about $43 - but it was a bit more, because I added a couple of extras (like milk and fresh cherries) and had to buy every staple on the list, since I'm re-building the pantry from the move.

This week's selections include: Chicken Curry Salad,  Deep Dish Pizza, Thai Peanut Noodles, Super Bratwurst Supper and Marinated Grilled Steak.

The first recipe - Chicken Curry Salad (chicken, apple, raisins, curry and mayo) - pictured above -  was ok. I'm wondering how it will taste after it sits in the fridge overnight (it did say to serve it chilled).

So we'll see what happens. I'm hoping to accomplish two things: 
1) Stop eating out or eating the wrong things (carb overloads aren't all that great.)
2) Make wiser food choices (see number one).
3) Have a low-thinking plan to do this. Let's face it, my brain is pretty dead when I finish a long day at the church. This will let me make a plan, shop once a week, and then follow the plan.

I think E-Mealz is probably me, cooking with training wheels.... for the next three months, the "plan" will hold my hand and guide me back into the land of cooking.

So welcome back to the adventures in cooking. I'll keep you posted as I try new recipes and experience sticking to the plan. I wish it was as glamorous as trying to cook through Julia Child's cookbook in one year, or making the wonderful things on the Pioneer Woman's website.... (probably more realistic for my world than Julia Child), but well.... you have to start somewhere right?
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