Monday, February 25, 2013

Apple and Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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Apple Coffee Cake Recipe

This Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake is a wonderful breakfast treat, and the recipe actually makes two pans, so you can freeze one and eat one!


  • 1/2 cup butter {can also use butter flavored shortening}
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour {we use whole wheat pastry flour}
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream {8 oz.}
  • 2 cups chopped and peeled apples {we use Gala}

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans {optional}


  1. Cream together the butter and the sugar until mixed well. Add in eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in flour mixture into wet ingredients.
  3. Stir in the chopped apples.
  4. Divide the batter between two greased 8x8 baking dishes.
  5. To make topping, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly and then add nuts. Sprinkle the topping evenly over both dishes.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes {or until cooked through}.
  7. One dish can be covered and frozen to use another week – just thaw it overnight in the fridge!

Note: We use the Glad Ovenware 8x8 pans with lids to freeze and store. They are also great to use when sharing dishes with other families!


Printable Meal Planner monthly meal plan calendar

Need help meal planning? Don’t miss the editable main dish menu planner and the monthly meal planner ~ both FREE downloads.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

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The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Emma’s father seemed to lose his enthusiasm and joy for teaching following his wife’s death. Determined to see her father happy again, Emma convinces her father to accept a private tutoring position for the two young sons of a baron. The older two sons were students at their boarding school years before and Emma is sure that some time away from home will be beneficial for both of them.

The manor holds many secrets – strange noises at night, odd behaviors from those living in the home, things disappearing from Emma’s room – all difficult to explain.

The older sons of the baron, Phillip and Henry Weston, are no strangers to Emma but with all that is happening in the house, Emma isn’t sure who to trust. Her past experiences with Henry make it even more difficult to trust him. During the time Henry attended the boarding school, he played endless tricks on Emma and the current happenings at the manor seem to mimic many of his pranks.

Emma’s emotions are conflicted though. Even though her past experience with Henry has been difficult, their present conversations and interactions tell her heart that he cannot be behind all of the secrets currently happening. She is torn between the friendship she holds with Phillip and the growing friendship with Henry.

When Emma stumbles onto a huge family secret, she believes all of the mysterious happenings in the manor will cease – but instead things grow even more difficult. Who should Emma trust for her safety and her heart?

My Thoughts on The Tutor’s Daughter

In a sense, this book reminded me of a cross between an Austen and Bronte book. The mysterious happenings in an old English manor, the troubling family secret – all combine together to make The Tutor’s Daughter a wonderful book from Klassen. Out of all of the books that I’ve read by her, this is one of my favorites {close behind is The Apothecary's Daughter}.

The relationship history between the main character Emma and the two brothers adds to the mystery behind the story, especially since there is a time difference and the reader knows there is some skew in perspective based on the ages of the characters. The development of the various relationships is fun to read and

Out of the entire story, I truly appreciate the big ‘family secret’ – which in that time frame would have been something that was very misunderstood and hidden. Klassen handles this situation well and even provides further explanation of the issue during that time period at the end of the book to help the reader understand it. {I can’t say more without spoiling some of the plot line}.

Add in a lot of suspense, several other parallel story lines that will intrigue you, and you have another great book from Klassen that you will want to add to your shelves {or your Kindle library}. Here are a few more books by Julie Klassen that I have also enjoyed: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall,  The Girl in the GatehouseThe Silent Governess, The Apothecary's Daughter, and Lady of Milkweed Manor. If you enjoy period fiction, you will really enjoy her books!

Find Out More

~ The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen is available on Amazon in paperback and also as a Kindle download.

~ ~ Visit Julie Klassen’s website or Facebook fan page.


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This book was provided for review by Bethany House. All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What Word Defines You?

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awake charm

It hangs as a charm on my bracelet, a daily reminder of the word that has been on my heart for this year.

The last few years, I have chosen a word as my theme for the year. For 2012, it was the word ‘gifts’ based on the book Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. This year, the word that really resonated with me was the word ‘awake’. 

Since last May when I traveled to Africa with Compassion, ‘awake’ has been the only word that accurately pinpoints everything. During my time there and in the months to follow, something broke in me – and there really aren’t words to adequately describe what impact everything had in my heart and mind.

Other than an awakening.

When I was traveling last week, I began listening to three different albums during my flights, and all three of them had a song titled ‘Awake’ on them. One song on Burning Lights, the new album from Chris Tomlin, has fast become one of my favorites…



My prayer for this year is to be fully awake – and alive.

Have you ever chosen a word for your year? I’d love to hear it!


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Monday, February 11, 2013

(in)RL from inCourage ~ Community #inRL

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Want a girl’s time away – with no packing. Just fun. Laughter. And community?

For those of you that live locally, I would love to open up my home to you and connect (in)RL - in REAL LIFE.

(in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.


The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.

Here’s a look at the agenda for the weekend – but Saturday is the only time that we will meet together in person.

Friday, April 26th – Tune in at home for an hour on Friday for the community keynotes. Then connect via Twitter using the hashtag #inRL with everyone else who is watching as well.

Saturday April 27thJoin a meet up in your area to make new friends {or have fun with old ones}. You’ll have a mini-retreat where you don’t even have to pack a bag! There will be women all around the world getting together to connect in real life! (in)RL will provide video content for us to watch together, all with the focus of staying connected in real life. We’ll plan on spending at least 3 hours together – so get ready for some fun!

The best part? Registration is FREE. You can register here. Then find your city location and join a meetup nearby! If there isn’t one – start one yourself!!

(in)RL is also sending everyone who registers a free copy of our eBook, “Best of the Beach House 2012: A Collection of Your Favorite Posts from the Writers of (in)courage.”

If you are nearby to me, I’d love to have you join up with us! My cousin will be visiting from the Netherlands and I’m excited to have her join with us as well.

Let me know if you are planning to come – you can rsvp online. Hope to see you in real life, otherwise be sure to join up with a group in your area and connect with women locally!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Best Tea and Teapot

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With the cold weather in full swing, the nights getting chilly, and a need for NO caffeine before bedtime, there have been two things that have just kept me happy and warm every day – a new tea and teapot. While they aren’t anything super fancy, the tea is delicious and the small teapot makes two perfect cups for me, and that I love so very much!

Pickwick Caramelised Pear tea

The Pickwick Caramelised Pear Tea was a gift from one of my cousins in the Netherlands, and I was very worried that I wouldn’t be able to get any more until she visited us this May. Needless to say, I was THRILLED to find it on Amazon – and in bulk. 

Hues 'N Brews teapot

A few years ago I picked up this cute little teapot on a whim. It’s a Hues ‘N Brews teapot. I can use looseleaf tea with the little wire mesh drop in or just drop a tea bag in instead.

Those are my two winter favorites – what are yours? Curious too – what is YOUR favorite tea?


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