Friday, July 11, 2014

Surviving Hitler - The Unlikely True Story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman

Doesn't that title just pull you in?  It sure did for me.  How could a Nazi soldier and a Jewish woman ever fall in love?  But it happened!

This is an amazing story about two individuals that were greatly affected by WWII.  It turned their lives upside down.  With death and destruction around them all the time, somehow Agnes and Gustav survived.  And not only did they just survive, they married and had children.

This book is so interesting.  It dives into Agnes' life who was a Jew by descent and not by religion.  She was actually a practicing Catholic living in Hungary.  I had no idea that they were sent to concentration camps as well!  Because her grandmother was Jewish, Agnes was considered a Jew and was sent to Auschwitz with her parents.  

Gustav was a farm boy in Norway who got wrapped up in the big talk of socialism.  I thought it was so interesting that no one ever told him the right people to follow.  He was young and had to choose his own path.  After being told by the National Socialist Party that he could be a police officer, he was actually taken to boot camp and made into a guard to a prison filled with mostly Jews (which he didn't know at the time).  He hated the job, but the only way to get out was to become an SS Soldier and fight on the front lines which is what he did.

It's amazing to hear their stories and how many different times they were individually protected and saved from death.

One of my favorite things about this book was that it wasn't too gruesome and horrifying which I know WWII was definitely both.  Some details were mentioned, but nothing that made me not want to read the book.  I know really bad things happened in the war, but I just can't read about it.  This book was very well balanced.

I love that this story was about hope and Agnes found ways to serve others even while being a prisoner.

I also love that this story is told from the memories of Agnes and Gustav and told in first person (who are both still living!).  It also shares facts about the war to supplement and give a little more background about the war.

This book is definitely worth reading.  You can learn about the lives of these two amazing people and all that they had to overcome to eventually leave the war behind them 
in Surviving Hitler at Deseret Book!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe

I love salads in the summer.  So light and fresh!  We had BBQ chicken salad the other night and it was awesome!  I also have a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette recipe  to share with you to go on top.

Here's what you need for the 

BBQ chicken
green onions
and anything else you want on it

For the chicken, I put 2 chicken breasts in a crock pot and covered them with BBQ sauce.  I also added a little water at the bottom because my crock pot cooks really hot.  Cook the chicken on low for 5 hours.

You can also use fresh corn or frozen corn.  Mine was frozen and I cooked it according to the package.  Then dice up your other veggies and shred the cheese.

Fill your bowl with lettuce and add as much of the veggies, cheese, chicken, and croutons as you like.

Now for the 
adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1 tsp Gourmet Garden garlic (or 1 garlic clove minced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Whisk in the vinegar until smooth. While whisking, pour in the olive oil and mix until fully combined.  The salad dressing will keep in the fridge for about a week, but it may separate so just shake before using it again.

Drizzle over your salad, mix, and serve!


And make sure you check out Gourmet Garden!  They are a company that packages fresh herbs and spices in convenient tubes.  They are organic herbs that are washed, chopped, blended, packaged, and sent to your local store!  I love this because when I buy fresh herbs, they go bad pretty quickly.  But these are packaged and long lasting so you can use them for all the recipes you need!  You can find Gourmet Garden products at stores like Smiths (Kroger), Walmart, and Fresh Market.

They also provide different recipes on their website to help you find ways to use their great products. They have herbs like basil, garlic, ginger, oregano, and parsley!  Perfect for your cooking needs!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mountain Camping with Toddlers

I grew up camping with my family.  But being in California, we went camping at the state beaches.  
So camping to me = the beach. 

My husband was raised in Utah.  There are no beaches in Utah.  And no, lakes don't count.  So camping to him means = the mountains.

Since we live in Utah, if we wanted to go camping it was going to be in the mountains.  This is a new adjustment to me, but I've liked it.  There are some great things about camping in the mountains and some fun things to do with little kids.

For our first camping trip this summer we decided to just stay one night.  I think it's good to start small when you have small children.  We got there in the afternoon and set up our tent - which by the way, setting up tents has become way easier since I was a kid.  No more huge metal poles.  Now they bend and pop up easily!  

Then we had hot dogs for dinner and s'mores for dessert over a fire pit.  Make sure you talk about safety with your children about being around a fire pit.  We make sure our kids stay away from them and don't throw things in them.

The nice thing about camping in the mountains is you can go on walks and hikes.  We took the kids for a fun walk and pointed out the flowers, trees, bushes, water, birds, and even found a caterpillar!  They loved looking at nature and noticing all the little details.  Make sure you pack sunscreen, hats, water bottles, and bug repellent!  Because you'll need them all!

We also just let the kids play in the dirt around the campsite.  There's something about rocks and dirt that just seem to pull at kids and they have to play in it!  So bring lots of baby wipes and hand sanitizer.  Because you'll need those too. 

The kids had a blast!  Even little Nate enjoyed it.  And since the mountains are a bit cooler at night, we made sure we bundled the kids up extra well with sleeping bags, blankets, and sweaters.
Have fun camping!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Cake

I love fresh berries!  And lemon.  And breakfast cake...
Which is why this recipe is amazing!

This is the perfect cake for breakfast and brunches and really any time of the day.  The fresh blueberries mixed with the lemon zest is amazing!  There's just something about warm cooked blueberries.  I could seriously eat the whole pan in one sitting.  And it isn't too sweet...which is why you can eat so much.  This beats cereal in my book any day of the week. :-)  

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Cake
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks


½ cup butter
zest from 1 large lemon
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk (or 1 TBSP lemon juice in 1 cup milk)


1, Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
2. Cream the butter, lemon zest, and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. 
4. Carefully mix the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour.
5. Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
6. Add the flour mixture to the batter alternating with the buttermilk. Remember to only use 1/2 cup of the buttermilk! 
7. Then fold in the blueberries.
8. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking pan with butter (or Crisco) and flour. Spread the batter into the pan. 9. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if it's done.  You may need to return it to the oven for up to 10 more mins (Mine did!) 
10. Let it cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

And here are some more great blueberry recipes from #foodieextravaganza!

Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza!  

We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food!  And each month we all incorporate one main ingredient into a recipe.  This month the ingredient is blueberries.  We hope you all enjoy our delicious blueberry foods this month and come see what next month's new ingredient is.  If you would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you!

Make sure to check out these great recipes from our group! 

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Cake @ We Like to Learn as We Go
Blueberry Banana Bread @ Pantry Friendly Cooking
Blueberry Orange Muffins @ Forty Eighteen
Homemade Blueberry Poptarts @ Our Thrifty Ideas
Blueberry Cheese Cake Pastries @ Summer Scraps
Lemon Blueberry Sandwich Cookies @ From Gate to Plate
Panna Cotta w/a Blueberry Compote @ The Freshman Cook
Strawberry Vanilla Blueberry Ice Cream @ Food Lust People Love
Blueberry Pie Ice Cream @ Love in the Kitchen
Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake @ Keep it Simple, Sweetie

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Huckleberry Summer - Another Fun Amish Love Story

I had the privilege of reading the second book of a three book series -  
Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill - called

And if you love Amish romance stories, you are going to enjoy this book!

This is a love story about an Amish woman - Lily - who finds herself having to choose between two men.  Both good men.  But one has the approval of her father and the other definitely does not.  Tyler is the good boy who makes a picture perfect Amish husband while Aden has had a more rebellious past and has even been in prison.

Lily is extremely cautious and very obedient.  She has had life experiences that have made her so.  She has to choose which man is the right choice and you really aren't sure who she is going to choose until there are only pages left in the book!

I really like Jennifer Beckstrand's writing.  She provides great imagery which allows me to envision what it's like to be in Amish country.  She also doesn't make her books too cheesy which is a must for me if I'm going to read a love story.  :-)  I like cute, but not overly cheesy. I also love how clean it is and such a feel good book.  I love that I feel happy after I read Jennifer's books.

 I also love how these books are connected in her series.  A sweet grandmother wants to find a match for her grandchildren and although she has to meddle a little to get things on the right path, Annie seems to know how it's all going to work out and is extremely patient through it all.

If you haven't read Jennifer's first book Huckleberry Hill, make sure you read that one first.  Also very good!  And then head to Amazon and check out Huckleberry Summer!  Then get ready for her third book coming out in the fall!  I can't wait to read it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Patriotic Flower Centerpieces

I love fresh flowers!  Any time of the year.  They bring color and life to any occasion and who can resist the wonderful smells?  Fresh flowers are great for decorating in the home and for centerpieces when entertaining.

Do you have a BBQ or picnic coming up?  Then I have a great Patriotic centerpiece for you!

Last week we had a family BBQ and with the 4th of July just around the corner, red, white, and blue flowers are perfect!  Everyone loved the flowers!

To make this arrangement, grab some mason jars or vases and fill them with water.  Then use food coloring to dye the water blue and red.  I bought a few roses, stock, and carnations.  And did you know that they can spray paint carnations the color you want?  They didn't have any blue options so spray painting them was perfect!  I also bought some pinwheels and glittery stars to add to the bouquets to add some fun!  The stars are attached to straws to give them a little more length.

Aren't they beautiful? 

And I love that after you use them for your centerpiece, you can continue to enjoy them at home for a little longer.  Mine are in a vase on my kitchen table.  I love walking by them and smelling them.  They just make me happy!  The trick is just keeping them away from my kids because they love them too.

So where can you get beautiful flower centerpieces?  My Australian friends, you need to check out Fresh Flowers.  I am loving these great summer arrangements!  Plus they have membership discounts and same day delivery!  

These are perfect arrangements to brighten any gathering.  And I know Australia is getting into winter (I have a sister-in-law in Kalgoorlie - shout out to Annie!) and having fresh flowers really helps me endure winter just a little bit longer.  :-)

Make sure you check out the Fresh Flowers Facebook page for updates and pictures of their 
gorgeous flowers!  I just learned from their page that the birthday flower for June is a Rose.  I had no idea!  One of my daughter's has a June birthday so this will be good to remember.

Friday, June 20, 2014

4th of July Star Banner

I have a fun 4th of July decoration to share with you today!  Can you believe it's almost July?!  The summer always slips away too fast.

What You Need:

3 wooden stars (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)
Red, white, and blue fabric
White Paint
Spray adhesive
Mod Podge
Hot glue gun
Paint brushes and scissors

I started by painting one of my stars white.  The fabric I used on the white star was actually wide clear tulle with glitter polka dots so I needed a white background.

Then I traced the star on the blue and red fabric and cut them out.  I attached the fabric to the stars by using spray adhesive.  After allowing it to dry, I painted mod podge over all of the stars.

Once the stars were dry, I hot glued the stars onto one long piece of ribbon.

  Then I cut strips of the remaining fabric and tied them between the stars.  I used two of each color fabric and tied each in a knot along the ribbon in between each star.  I also made a loop at the top of the ribbon to make it easier to hang.

And that's it!

Don't forget to check out some other great 4th of July ideas from my blogging friends!

America Banner from Summer Scraps

Red White and Blue Fruit Salad from Keep It Simple Sweetie

4th of July Star Banner from We Like to Learn as We Go