Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review: Noah by Mark Ludy

When I received an invitation from Handlebar Publishing to review Mark Ludy's new book I jumped at the chance. I personally love the story of Noah and I was disappointed at the poor reviews the newly released movie had, that I chose not to watch the movie.

When I first opened the book I was surprised that it was a wordless picture book. Immediately though the pictures drew me in and I could hear the story forming in my mind as I flipped the pages. The pictures also surprised me because they seem much more modern then I normally picture Noah's story. For example, the pages where we see Noah in his house specifically in his study/library type room with with windows and a desk. That is not how I envision Noah's home looked like but something about the depiction in those pictures still stays true to the character of Noah. Even though I never pictured him in a study I can picture him going alone to a place where he could clearly hear what the Lord was telling him. I love the drawings of the ark that he draws based on the dimensions God gives him. 

The lush beauty of the woods an the vibrant colors Mark utilizes totally captivate the imagination. Although, the place I imagined Noah lived in should have been more wild. 
Mark creates a feel of a paradise lost. There is order, growth and life. Everything flourishes there all is vibrant and alive! 

I can see  this book becoming a favorite for my son. He loves books that he can look at for hours finding new things in the pages every time he turns them. The depiction of the animals is great. They look as they would in real life. The different ones illustrated here make us realize it was all the different species of animals not just the easy ones to imagine in the ark. 

This book gives us glimpse into the beauty of an imagination created by God. I love catching glimpses of everyday life for Noah and his family because then we are able to relate with the characters. God's promises are depicted in beautiful illustrations that cause your imagination to soar enraptured in the beauty of a Creator that made this world and is faithful to us even when we are not.


Disclosure: I received a free book in exchange for this review all the thoughts are my own. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shortbread Love

The cookies were pictured on an apron I made for my friend Marie over at Baking Chic

I remember very well when I fell in love with shortbread.
 At first our encounters were few and far between, a treat for a special occasion.
 Then I realized this could become a normal part of my life. Not only could I buy shortbread but I could bake my own! It did not need to come out of box, which held shortbread that was rarely intact, I usually found more pieces than whole cookies. Because these few encounters turned into a full fledged love  connection, I am on a quest to find and create awesome shortbread. Check out my Pinterest board here. 

These beautiful cookies were inspired during Valentine's Day this year. I know, fall is here and I am just now sharing with you but this year is going too fast and I am barely keeping up! These cookies scream tea time with your favorite girl friends! I used one of my favorite shortbread recipes and just tweaked it a bit to create a soft, buttery, and sweet explosion in your mouth! Believe it or not these shortbread cookies are also great for the fall, with the chai tea spices and the sweetness of the dulce de leche they are perfect for a brisk fall afternoon tea time.

Chai Tea Alfajores 

(Chai Tea Dulce de Leche Sandwich Shortbread Cookies)

Ingredients for the cookies:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2 tea bags of Spiced Chai Tea

Ingredients and Supplies for the Dulce de Leche:

(note: you can also buy a can of Dulce de Leche)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 16 oz canning jar with lid. ( you can use smaller ones but I wanted to leave a little space in the jar.)
1 Crock Pot (make sure to choose your jar size based on the size of your crock pot so your lid can close securely.

Directions for the Dulce de Leche:

Make sure to start the dulce de leche either the night before to cook over night or early in the morning. This is to ensure that your dulce de leche will be ready when you are ready to spread it between the cookies. 
open your condensed milk and pour it into the jar or jars. place the jar in the crock pot and fill the crock pot with water just below the rim. Cook the jar or jars for 8-10 hours on low. The longer you cook the it the thicker the milk will become. The glass jars make it easy for you to see how dark the milk is getting. 

Directions for the cookies:

In a bowl whisk the flour and salt. Cut open the tea bags and whisk into the mixture of flour and salt. In the bowl of your mixer beat the butter until creamy (about 1 min.). At this time add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 min.). Then beat in the vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until the dough is mixed well and it turns crumbly. At this time I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Taking two sheets of wax paper I put the ball of dough in between the two sheets and roll  out the dough flat but a little thick. You can put the flattened dough on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes. When I take the cookie dough out of the freezer I cut out the cookies and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Because the dough is slightly frozen it helps the cookies hold their shape better. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes. After I take my cookies out of the oven I let them cool on the cookie sheets which allows them to brown just right without getting over cooked.

After your cookies are cooled and your dulce de leche is ready spread the dulce the leche on a cookie and place another cookie on top creating a dulce de leche sandwich or Alfajores as know in Spain and Latin America. Check out this recipe too.

Now invite your favorite girl friends over for tea or coffee! Or do like I did and take this treat on a girls weekend getaway and make your friends super happy! I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know if you try it!

Gracefully Daisy

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Flamingo Birthday Party

This picture sums up the feeling of Giselle's first birthday party. 
We are in awe of this baby girl and the fact that she was entrusted to us.
 Just last night my sweet husband said, " thank you for giving her to me." 
We both looked into each others eyes and thanked the Lord for entrusting her to us. 

Oh my heart be still...
Life speeds by too fast. 
I pray that I can slow down and enjoy the little moments 
that make up our wonderful life. 
Oh that I don't let busyness steal the joy of spending time with these little souls.
That motherhood continues to transform me into the woman I am to be. 
Because these littles are an extension of me but also shape and mold my character. 

I love to celebrate them-these two gifted to us. So their birthday parties are a gift that I 
thoroughly embrace. I love thinking about them, planning all the little details, and mostly watching them enjoying the time with friends and family. 

It was a beautiful time and we so enjoyed celebrating and loving this beautiful little girl as she takes our hearts by storm.

Sweet Sam and I went to the store and bought a gift for Giselle. I loved this moment with Sam having him completely focused on Giselle and struggling as we all do to not focus on what he wanted to buy for himself. Once again I stop baffled that I am gracefully becoming the mom I am supposed to be for the children that the Lord saw fit to give me.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Gracefully Daisy

Friday, August 29, 2014

Flamingo Inspiration for Giselle's First Birthday Party Part 2

This  darling book was a perfect inspiration for a flamingo birthday

I shared about the flamingo inspiration for our little Lady's first birthday party here
Here are a few more elements that led me to create this sweet event for Giselle. 
I totally judged this book by its cover! I am so glad I did because I was blown away by the beautiful illustrations when I opened it! This wordless picture book is a bout a little girls and her graceful flamingo friend that together explore friendship through synchronized dance. 
 Find a way to get your hands on it you will love it! 
The flamingo printable came from The Tomkat Studio. She has the cutest birthday party ideas!

Looking for an invitation can be daunting because there are so many and you could spend a fortune! Of course on Pinterest the ideas abound. Check out my Pinterest board
 I wanted something classy and simple and I was able to create this one on picmonkey based on an invitation I saw on Pinterest. I love picmonkey and the awesome projects I am able to create on this website for free!
I loved how this invitation turned out. It was so fun getting to share it with our friends and family!
Party post coming soon! Thank you in advance for following along on this fun adventure!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Now on Bloglovin'

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Gracefully Daisy

Flamingo Inspiration for Giselle's First Birthday

I love how sometimes the story of our life interweaves and catches us by surprise. 
The picture below was taken on our honeymoon. We sat in a hammock swinging in the breeze on a private beach that captivated us. A flock of graceful flamingos inhabited the island only adding to the charm of this beach. 
Aruba- Dec 2007
Fast forward 2 years after this scene became a part of our happy memory bank. I was pregnant with our first and attended a class for work that was about restoring our spirit of care. We were taught many ways  on how to rediscover the reason we were nurses. One of the activities was to draw our happy place. A drawing that we could use to go to and escape or just draw strength from. So you guessed it I drew this happy scene. it became my happy place and I took it with me to my delivery and displayed it in my room while I labored; drawing strength and peace from it.

 3 more years pass. I didn't take this picture to my second delivery, not sure why. But we are blessed with sweet Giselle and way too fast her first birthday approached. As I looked for inspiration for her first birthday I was drawn to pink and gold. In come these cute mocs by Faas Design I couldn't pass them up and I bought them way before her birthday and again thought maybe for her birthday I can do something with gold. Now, as the summer approached I began seeing pink and gold everywhere and decided yes, pink and gold it is! Then on my IG feed I saw this sweet deal for the cutest pink flamingo shorts and head band and then it all started to come together in my head. I envisioned baby Giselle wearing this sweet outfit to experience her birthday cake and to hear all her family loving her as they sang Happy Birthday. I could see the colors coming together to create a special atmosphere in which this sweet baby would love and be loved- for first birthdays only happen once.

head band littlebigdreamers * Gold Mocs Faas Design* shorts Lil Sugarlamb
Ok, maybe I'm getting a little sappy, sorry. But then it hit me this theme fits right along with our little family! Flamingos have been inspiring our sweet little family since our honeymoon. How perfect that my mind even gravitated to these flamingo shorts because they carry the tune played 7 years ago sitting on that hammock swinging in the breeze of joy. So our little family celebrated this beautiful baby and praised God for allowing these little surprises add to our happiness bank. ( I will post her birthday party post soon.)

Gracefully Daisy

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

(in)RL Virtual Conference 2014

(in)Courage has been such a blessing to my life since I discovered them online!
Last year I signed up for the conference online and attended by myself at home.
I had a great time being encouraged on my own but
this year I was yearning for some girl time with friends. 
So I sent out an invitation and prayed for the Lord to meet with us!
And He met with us because He is faithful!

My friend Leah said, "I had a great time. It was refreshing and encouraging."
There were a total of 4 and that was perfect. The Lord promises that when there
are two or more gathered in His name, he is there. We were able to personally 
share our stories a little bit a time, creating a beautifully safe place that challenged us to 
act out our faith. 

Here is a glimpse of our night and the yummies we shared!

I loved hearing this quote, " God puts the extra in my ordinary and makes it extraordinary." 
I also love how Lisa Leonard defined community, " True community is when we come together and we're real with each other. " And this is in fact what happened we were in true community and it was beautiful, refreshing and encouraging. We are planning to meet again soon and complete the craft together. One of the Hosts on Facebook shared this idea- to have everyone write down one thing they took away from the conference and then mail it to them! We did this and I can't wait to mail them! We are looking forward to next years already! thank you (in)Courage for blessing us with a place to share our stories!

Gracefully Daisy

Friday, February 14, 2014

A dreamy valentine's day

Our little family woke up today in all smiles and wishing each other happy Valentine's day! 

I woke up before everyone because I had a dreamy breakfast planned. It all started with a picture of these cute crispy Kreme donuts! 

Then I got in the mail Giselle's mobile pieces and they were perfect to display.

One thing led to another and when the boys came out of the room they were welcomed by this sweet breakfast table. 
We exchanged valentines and read the book I gave Sammy.
Sammy picked the heart shaped donut with sprinkles and then told us which donut he wanted each of us to pick.

These are the sweet valentines Sammy handed out this year paired with Swedish fish- aren't they adorable! 

I hope your day was sweet and dreamy too! Hugs and kisses! 

Here is Giselle holding the valentine Sam gave her- so cute!
Our little family just loves each other as they only know how but today it was even sweeter! So blessed to have them! "We love because he loved us first." 1John 4:19

Monday, February 10, 2014

Little lady chic styling

So I recently discored and her awesome online boutique. This week she is running a contest  for styling her lace spring dress and I am having way too much fun! Of course has so much cute stuff to work with as well!