Monthly Archives: December 2013

12 favorite books read in 2013

12 Favorite Books Read in 2013 at

Affiliate Links are Used

As I’m in the middle of making a list of books I want to read this next year, I wanted to share some of the ones I really enjoyed this past year.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

loved this book! It’s a completely fascinating read. I didn’t want to put it down and that’s saying something for non-fiction. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’m an introvert. This book should be required reading for all seminary or business students, pastors, business owners etc, in my opinion, especially those that are extroverts. It would really help them understand where the introverts of the world are coming from.

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches
Another read I really enjoyed! Lots of wisdom and ideas but an easy book to tackle.

John Adams

Okay, so I’ve tried a few times over the past many years to read this book. This past year was the time that I started determined to finish. I found it completely intriguing and was shocked at how much I didn’t know about this era in our country’s history. Those that help found the country really gave up so much (and their wives too letting their husbands and sons even be gone for months or years at a time with limited or no communication). It made me realize that much of the fighting, arguing, backstabbing etc going on in the government today is nothing new. 

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together

This and the following book are by the same authors. A story of an unlikely friendship between an art dealer and a homeless drifter. (These are also quick reads.)

The Forgotten Garden: A Novel

This was my first book to read by Kate Morton. It was riveting and different than any book I’ve read. I love mysteries and the intrigue that went along with this story was captivating. I’m hoping to read another by Kate Morton this next year.

The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing

I had the privilege of hearing Jeff Goins speak at a conference this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is an easy read that reminds you to live life where you are. Don’t always be waiting for the next big thing.

Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood

As mothers, we don’t have to be perfect. In fact, we’ll never be perfect. But that’s okay. Christ has forgiven us, and He’ll give us what we need.

In Defense of Food An Eater’s Manifesto

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” Those 7 words are Michael Pollan’s answer to what we should eat. In this book, he talks about how to make wise decisions as to what we eat.

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

What an inspirational story!  Follow a young lady’s amazing journey following a mission trip to Uganda.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

A light-hearted read written in an informal  and personal tone. You will laugh and sometimes find yourself stopping to think.

The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (LifeChange Books)

Another short read (the shortest book on this list) but good one! Randy Alcorn shares how you can learn the secret of joyful living.

What were your favorite books to read this year?
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Menu Plan and Goals

Menu Plan and Goals at From this Kitchen Table

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. Our Christmas Eve was spent at home and church followed by dinner at home. Our daughter was exhausted and was not only in bed but also asleep by 7:19! It was fun experiencing Christmas morning with our daughter who didn’t remember anything from last year. She had a blast opening her presents and handing out the ones she picked out for us and her brother. The day was finished with a game night at a friend’s house. I wish I came in victorious, but nope. At least we gave the winner a slight run.

Menu Plan and Goals at From this Kitchen Table

This week started with a little rocky start. Both kids have been under the weather and just got over a fever and still have a  bit of a cough. But the week is a fun one anyway. We are off of work and get to spend time with family. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy a small break from cooking.


  • Potato Sausage Soup
  • Snacks and finger foods
  • Roast
  • Homemade Pizza

My goals this week are simple:

  • Blog brainstorming
  • Write 4 posts
  • Makes goals for the next year
  • Have fun!!!

Coming up this week I’m sharing some of the favorite books I read in 2013 and sharing a round up of posts to help you with your goals setting for the new year.

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

December Link Love

Here are the links I’ve enjoyed through December.

Can You Read People’s Emotions? For each picture choice the word that you think best describes what the person is thinking or feeling and see how good you are understanding someone’s mental state based on their facial cues.

8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks There are several of these that I think would be a great benefit. My husband needs the “sarcastises”.

20 “Forgotten” Words That Should Be Brought Back

Is It Time for a Clean Sweep If you are feeling overwhelmed it might be time to evaluate what you are doing and just maybe so no to a few things.

Packing Light Challenge A 10 day challenge that might be fun to go through as you begin the new year.

Celebrate What You Already Know “Buy Less, Buy Better and Fix Don’t Replace”

Business Success Won’t Make You Happy “Success makes you more of who you already are

In case you missed it, the most popular post at From this Kitchen Table during December: Ideas for Homemade Gift Baskets

What have been your favorite finds in December?

Linking up to Homemaking Link UpLovely Ladies Link Up, Fellowship Fridays

Christmas Post Round Up

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday and are making memories and enjoying your family. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the 25th and in another week we’ll be entering another year.

Christmas Posts Round Up - Food and Drinks, Gift Ideas, and Thoughts on the holiday

Today I have a round up of my Christmas posts from the last 3 weeks in case you missed them (bottom three in each category) and several other holiday posts divided into three categories: food, gifts, and thoughts.

Don’t think it’s to late to read about keeping Christmas calm, traditions, and our focus during the holiday. Now is the time to start planning for next year!


Gift Ideas for last minute shopping:

Christmas Thoughts:

Linking up to Thriving Thursday Let’s Get Real, Fellowship Fridays, Faith Filled Friday, Mama Moments, TGIM, Teach Me TuesdayBabies and Beyond, Titus 2 TuesdayDo Tell TuesdayHomemaking Link UpLovely Ladies Link Up,  Pin It ThursdayThrifty ThursdayFaith Filled Friday, The Weekend re-TreatPin It Monday, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff

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Menu Plan and Goals

fWhat a week. Wednesday morning we woke our kids up, dressed them and placed them in the car. Our daughter asked if we were going to the local book store, but that wasn’t the reason for heading out at 7am. We arrived at Silver Dollar City when they opened and was it ever a fun surprise. The baby, obviously, could not have cared less but big sister had the biggest smile on her face and skipped her way into the park. Operation surprise was a success.

Menu Plan and Goals @ From this Kitchen Table

We got back Thursday and then Friday evening my husband’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew came for the weekend. Needless to say, we didn’t get a lot of extras done besides cleaning and preparing for company. An ice storm also came through Friday night and most of the churches in town cancelled on Sunday. It made for a relaxing morning yesterday.

Looking forward to a two day work week and celebrating Christmas with my little family.


  • Cinnamon Rolls (we have these every Christmas, but I made them early when family was here)
  • Cranberry Muffins (adapted this recipe a bit for the second morning with family)
  • Yogurt and Granola
  • Sweet Potato Hashbrowns



  • Red Curry Thai Noodles I always add julienned carrots as well (family)
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are still up in the air
  • Soup

Goals (affiliate links):

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

Can you believe that my husband doesn’t like cream cheese (or yogurt or sour cream but that’s an entirely different story). I happen to love the stuff.  Especially when it’s made into a wonderfully creamy dessert. I’m not about to make a cheesecake for myself, though, since I know I would eat entirely too much of it. I indulge when I’m having company that enjoys it as much as I do or we are at friends’ houses who serve it.

My sister, Janna, found this recipe several years ago and adapted it and is sharing it with us today.

This layered pumpkin cheesecake is beautiful and easy and would be the perfect conclusion to your Christmas dinner. Not having a cheesecake pan isn’t a problem with this recipe – it uses a graham cracker crust in a pie pan. Purchase one ready made or check out this recipe to make it from scratch. Now I just need to invite a cheesecake lover over so I have an excuse to make one!

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake. The perfect dessert to finish any meal. Uses a pie pan too - no special pan necessary!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pre-packed graham cracker crust (or homemade)
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • whipped cream to top with
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then blend in eggs one at a time.
  3. Remove 1 cup of the batter and spread into the prepared crust.
  4. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended.
  5. Carefully spread over batter in crust.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is almost set.
  7. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  8. Top with whipped cream.


This week continues all things Christmas at From this Kitchen Table. (Find all the posts here.) You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!

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Losing the Christmas Chaos

3 ideas to help with losing the Christmas chaos

Guest Post by Janna

You ever feel like you have younger sisters that could be your big sister because you learn so much from them? As the oldest of 8, I feel that way frequently. You get to meet another one of my sisters today, Janna. I’m excited to have share what she’s learned about Christmas since she’s been married.

It’s that time of year again! I love Christmas, but I don’t always love the craziness that goes along with it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose our joy when we become swamped with Christmas obligations and festivities (Christmas shopping, family obligations, meal planning and preparing, parties to attend, etc).

My husband and I have found it important to take time before all the craziness begins to discuss how we want to celebrate. While we haven’t figured everything out yet, we’ve found that this helps us to keep a joyful spirit and remember the purpose of Christmas. Each year we learn a little bit more about how we can best celebrate the holiday and create meaningful memories without losing a little bit of ourselves in the chaos.

Here are some things my husband and I have tried to keep in mind as we’ve made our plans.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Don’t feel guilty about saying no to anyone, even family. If you’re newly married, keep in mind that you are your own family now and it’s okay to begin new traditions.

If you’ve been married for many years, it’s not too late to create a new tradition or end an old one. Plus, if you feel like you’re being obligated to participate, or you become overwhelmed when you think about it, it’s probably not going to be an enjoyable memory or event for you or anyone in your family. Don’t let tradition become a killjoy.

Don’t be afraid to start small

Christmas can quickly become about all the shopping and gifts if that is where the emphasis is put. It’s easy to feel pressure to buy more when you compare yourself to peers or the media, but it’s okay to keep things simple and not spend hundreds of dollars on your children or loved ones.

If you’re a parent, try buying fewer gifts and/or put money in your kids’ bank account. That growing bank account will be much more appreciated later than any toys you might buy now.

If you’re married, discuss gifts with each other. You might find that what the other really wants is alone time, a handwritten note, or a weekend getaway. The best gifts don’t always come in packages.

If you find you want (or are able) to give more, you could do it later in the year as a “just because” or “extended Christmas,” or choose to have a bigger Christmas next year; the bonus to doing it this way is that it will be unexpected and won’t create attitudes of entitlement around the holidays. Remember, it’s easier to add on than it is to reduce later. If you have young children, keep in mind that what you do now will mold their expectations for the future.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Instead of falling prey to the commercialized holiday experience, discuss the true meaning of Christmas with your family and figure out what values you want to instill into your children or each other during the holiday.

See if you can come up with some new ways to celebrate and reflect upon these values. The most exciting, fun, and memorable Christmases of my childhood weren’t ever dependent on the gifts I received; it was always the years that my parents challenged us to “give back” a little.

I distinctly remember the years my dad took me and my sisters to a local restaurant where we helped serve Christmas meals and hand out Christmas presents to those who were unable to afford them. I remember my mind widening and my heart softening as I realized how blessed I was; I went from feeling jealous at the sight of a huge box filled with Christmas presents that weren’t mine, to eagerly searching for the next child to wander in so I could give them a gift.

One year, when my husband was in high school, his family opted not to give each other Christmas presents. His parents filled up the kids’ stockings, but the money that would’ve been spent on gifts was instead given to organizations of the kids’ choosing. While these things may not be right or an option for you and your family this season, be creative and don’t be afraid to try something new this year.

Looking back, I can now see how these Christmas experiences my parents provided for me were more valuable to me than any gift my parents have ever bought me. They have helped encourage and shape me in so many different ways, and have opened my eyes and heart to things I never would have seen had I just been given piles of presents. This year, choose to give your children a gift that keeps on giving rather than a toy or a sweater they’ll outgrow in a few years. Gifts and experiences like these can’t be purchased, but the impact they provide can never be taken away, broken, or replaced.

This week continues all things Christmas at From this Kitchen Table. (Find all the posts here.) Be sure to come back this week for a fabulous recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake (in a pie pan) and thoughts on losing the Christmas chaos! You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!

3 ideas to help with losing the Christmas chaos

Linking up to WFMWWelcome Home Wednesday,  Homemaking Link-UpLovely Ladies, Thriving Thursday, House to Home, Thrifty ThursdayFellowship FridaysFaith Filled FridayLet’s Get RealThe Weekend reTreatLink Party PaloozaStrut Your StuffMama MomentsLiving Proverbs 31TGIMTeach Me Tuesday, Titus 2 TuesdayBabies and BeyondDo Tell Tuesday


Gingerbread Latte

Guest post from Kara (one of my wonderful sisters whom you met last week)

I’ve been barista at a quaint, little drive-thru coffee stand for over a year now, and I can honestly say I enjoy a good, tasty cup of coffee anytime. My favorite part of working at a coffee shop around Christmas, is the delicious, Christmas-y latte flavors. You know the ones I’m talking about, peppermint mocha, gingerbread, pumpkin spice, and eggnog; my mouth is watering just at the thought of them. But on my days off, I don’t want to drive all the way there for just a coffee, so with the encouragement of Dee, I came up with my own latte/coffee recipe that I can make at home! That means I can stay in my warm home, in my pajamas, and drink a warm, tasty latte.

This recipe comes in two parts – the cold brew and then the latte. MAKE SURE to PLAN AHEAD for the cold brew – you need 12-24 hours.


Ingredients: (may half, double, triple to whatever amount you would like)

  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup coffee grounds (Coarse or medium-coarse)
  • Coffee Filters


Yummy and perfectly spicy gingerbread latte. Perfect thing to get you going on a cold winter morning.

  • Separate the coffee grounds into several coffee filters and tie with rubber bands
  • Set the little coffee bags into a pitcher and pour the water on top.
  • Let the coffee grounds sit in the water on the counter 12-24 HOURS.
  • After 12-24 hours has gone by, remove the coffee bags and throw away.
  • Get a second pitcher with a strainer lined with another coffee filter. Pour the coffee through the filter.
  • Store in the fridge in a sealed jar. Keeps for about 2-2 1/2 weeks.

Yummy and perfectly spicy gingerbread latte. Perfect thing to get you going on a cold winter morning.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Gingerbread Latte
  • 1⅓ cup cold brew
  • 1 cup milk or half & half (I suggest the half & half or at least a mix of both)
  • ⅛ tsp. ground clove
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3½ tbs. brown sugar
  • whipped cream, optional
  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan on low heat.
  2. Heat to your desired temperature, stirring occasionally.
  3. (optional) If you like foam, use a whisk to beat mixture until you get a foamy surface.
  4. Ladle out into mug, top with (optional) whipped cream and/or cinnamon.
Everyone has their own coffee tastes, some stronger and some weaker, so as long as you start with 2⅓ cup of milk/cold brew, you can easily adjust to meet your taste.


This week continues all things Christmas at From this Kitchen Table. (Find all the posts here.) Be sure to come back this week for a fabulous recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake (in a pie pan) and thoughts on losing the Christmas chaos! You can follow us on Facebook or subscribe by e-mail to be sure you don’t miss out!

The perfect gingerbread latte. Uses a cold brew. Great for the cold winter days.

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