Amber tackles

small, simple steps towards a bigger, fuller life

Chase The Lion


This is my first time reading a book by Mark Batterson despite the fact that I have had The Circle Maker on my bookshelf for nearly a year, a fact that I am now regretting, as I am really enjoying Chase The Lion.

This book is a call to obedience. It asks you to follow your dreams for the glory of God. It encourages you to search the scriptures for the truth and to be a light where you are, while also working hard to get where you want to be.

In Chase The Lion Mark links quotable one liners with scripture, with personal anctedotes, with historical and contemporary stories of both success and failure… and somehow makes it all work. (I really want to know how he came across some of the more obscure stories in his book! As it’s hard to believe he could have found them just by searching for things related to the point he was trying to make.)

And even though I may have some doctrinal differences with him, his words in Chase The Lion make me want to get up and do something. I want to pursure those projects that I have felt were “too big.” And I want to do it in a way that glorifies God. So I think this book succeeded in it’s objective.

My criticisms: I wish the beginning of the book was less quoteable one and two liners and more in depth stories. I loved what Mr. Batterson was saying, I just wanted a little more meat to start.


I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher but the opinions in this review are completely my own.

How To Tackle Making Pumpkin Pie

 How to Tackle Making a Pumpkin Pie like Amber –
Step One:
Plant and grow an awesome, but possibly excessive pumpkin patch. (The excessiveness is still being debated.)
Step Two:
Wait, somewhat impatiently, for pumpkins to ripen. (Or you can just wait till pumpkin season and go to the store and buy a pumpkin.)
Step Three:
Pick a medium size (about 5lbs) Sugar Pie pumpkin.


Step Four:
Decide medium size pumpkin may not be big enough and pick another small (about 2.5 lbs) pumpkin.
Step Five:
Wash pumpkin exteriors, cut pumpkins in half, scoop out stringy interior and seeds.
Step Six:
Search multiple recipes for pumpkin puree. Spend way too much time deciding which cooking method to use, then just put the pumpkins cut side down in a baking dish.


Step Seven:
Cook pumpkins at 400° for about 40 mins until easily pierced with a knife.


Step Eight:
Wait for, what seems like, EVER for pumpkins to cool after baking. Run out of time and put them in the fridge overnight.
Step Nine:
Start “Project: Pumpkin Pie” again the next morning. Forget about taking pictures of the messy pumpkin scraping/puree making process.
Step Ten:
Use a big spoon to scrape the flesh from the pumpkin shells into a bowl. Let pumpkin sit on paper towel to remove excess water
Step Eleven:
Realize fresh pumpkin flesh is WAY stringier than the pumpkin puree from stores. Google to make sure something didn’t go wrong. Realize it’s fine and keep going.
Step Twelve:
Don’t own a good food processor. Regret that fact.
Step Thirteen:
Attempt to squash the pumpkin through a collander to puree it and make it less stringy. Give up, and just smash the pumpkin in a bowl with a potato masher and a silicone scraper.
Step Fourteen:
Search multiple pumpkin pie recipes.  Spend way too much time looking at recipes.
Step Fifteen:
See that most recipes call for evaporated milk. Search for substitutions for evaporated milk.
Step Sixteen:
Decide on a recipe to use as a base but then alter it to work with what you have on hand.
Step Seventeen:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Gather ingredients:
Refrigerated pie dough (or make pie dough)
3 smallish farm fresh eggs (or 2 large eggs)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 can store bought pumpkin)
1 cup whole milk (or 1 can evaporated milk)
Step Eighteen:
In mixing bowl slightly beat eggs together. Beat in sugar. Add salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Mix in pumpkin puree and milk.


Step Nineteen:
Think you probably should have done this step before you made the pie filling. Then put premade dough into ungreased pie pan. Pinch edges so your pie looks somewhat presentable.


Step Twenty:
Bake crust at 400° for 10ish minutes until lightly brown.


Step Twenty-One:
Turn oven down to 350°. Pour pie filling into crust. Place pie in oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Step Twenty-Two:
Post pictures of finished product on social media, then let your husband dig in.
Step Twenty-Three:
Get a request for the recipe and decide it’d be fun to blog about it. Start labeling your steps and then regret it by step twelve. Decide there is no turning back, continue labeling the steps, and publish a blog post.
Step Twenty-Four:
Go back and update your blog to say that a 5lb pumpkin would have been more than enough…A 2.5 lb would have been enough.
Step Twenty-Five:
Have your husband take the pie with him to work so you don’t eat it all. Freeze excess pumpkin puree.

Mid Month Books

Mid Month Check In!

I can’t believe we are already more than half way through September! I have managed to finish a few books on my To-Read list…plus a few that weren’t. 🙂

*This post contains some affliate links. If you click the link and buy something I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you*

The books on my list that I finished are –

Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely – I skimmed through this and then reread the last couple chapters just to catch back up before moving on to the next book in the Elizabeth Parker series.

Murder on the Bride’s Side by Tracy Kiely – The second book in the Elizabeth Parker series. There are 2 more in the series. (I have the 3rd on its way to me right now) They are toted as “Cozy murder mysteries” and they are fun, fast, funny reads with endings that I didn’t predict either time. They do contain some language and innuendos but nothing strong enough to personal stop me from reading. I was given the first book and have now bought the 2nd and 3rd because I enjoy them so much. The victim in each book is rather unlikeably so they are not a depressing, grief enducing reads at all.

A Woman of Strength and Purpose by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias – Was not my cup of tea. There was too much emphasis on how you feel about something then on scriptural truth or logical decisions in pursuing a goal. If you believe God has a specific purpose for you and will guide you to that purpose if you listen for his voice you may enjoy this book but I lean more towards the Bible being my source of direction. (Maybe I am a Holy Spirit squasher, but that is my belief at this time.) I received a copy of this from Blogging for Books in exchange for posting a review to their site.

Blogging For Books –

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – Loved it. Confusingly fun. It is almost like a good tv sitcom where the characters quirks are exaggerated enough to be funny but not so some much that it becomes completely unbelievable. It was a mix of drama, mystery, and comedy.

Books I finished that weren’t on my September list –

Smarter, Faster, Betterby Charles Duhigg – Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and it shows in his books. They are well researched and combine science with stories and his personal observations. This is his second book and it focuses on productivity and how to make your work “smarter, faster, better.” I thought this book was entertaining and educational. I got my copy as ebook from NetGalley.

NetGalley –

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – This was my first from Book of the Month club. I had wanted to read The Woman in Cabin 10 as my thriller for the month but couldn’t get my hands on it for cheap so when I saw book of the month was having a deal and that this was one of the book options I thought it’d be a great alternative. The language and sexual content were a little stronger than I would like but they were always used in passing not in any drawn out graphic scences. I was definitely in suspense the whole way through so the book accomplished what it set out to do.

Book of the Month –
Use code BOTM5 to get your first month for $5 or FRIEND50 for 50% off a 3-month membership.

168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam -I listened to the audio book of this on Audible. I had listened to it once before and found it helpful and I have been working on fixing my schedule lately so I thought it’d be good to listen to it again. Laura Vanderkam’s style is similar to Charles Duhigg’s in that she combines stories with research and I really enjoy that. The first couple chapters are a bit hard to get into though because her stories and advice come off as only being relatable to people with plenty of expendable income and strong support systems. The practical advice gets better as you get into the book though so I am glad I kept listening.

Audible –
Get 2 free books when you sign up for a 30 day free trial.

I’d love to know what books have you read so far this month? Did you enjoy them or feel like you wasted your time? What is up next on your To-Read list?

NetGalley Challenge

2016 NetGalley Challenge

Reader’s Legacy


Hey guys, if you haven’t joined yet you need to go join Reader’s Legacy! For real.

Reader’s Legacy is a social media site for book lovers, similar to Goodreads in that you can review books, get recommendations, connect with your friends, but the coolest part for me is that you can earn FREE books.
Free, brand-new, physical books!

When you sign up you get 40,000 Litcoins which should be enough to get a book that retails for around $12. You still do have to pay shipping on books and I have found that if you order 1 book at a time it is about $5 shipping, but if order 2 or 3 books atba time shipping is only $6-$8.

I have ordered and received 5 brand new books from Reader’s Legacy using the Litcoins I earned from signing up, adding books, liking reader and author’s pages, and from referring new users.

I just put in my latest book order and paid $7.34 shipping for 3 books that retail for a total of $50.85. I could get those same books new on Amazon right now for $37.74, or used for $23.66. But anyway I crunch it it is a good deal to get my books from Reader’s Legacy.

Also, did I mention that they are donating thousands of dollars to children’s literacy programs? It’s an all around win from my point if view.

Check it out!

Small steps to change the world around you.


How can I make a difference? How does one person change the world? My life is full of responsibilities. I have a family to take care of, a property to pay off, mouths to feed, peoples wellbeing to look after, animals to care for, a garden to weed, schooling to do, a business to run, a farm to tend to, relationships to build and to keep intact… How do I even make time for saving the world or making an impact on issues that are much bigger than me, issues that I can’t see up close, issues that I don’t know the answer to…. What can I do?

Well I can take small steps toward improving the world and…

I can be kind.
I can be generous, with my posessions, but also with my time and my energy.
I can be grateful, and let others know of my gratitude.
I can be positive and optimistic, and not bog others down with my negativity.
I can be loving to all I encounter.
I can be happy and joyful.
I can be calm and not escalate situations with my anger.
I can be patient and understanding, and try to look at things from another view
I can be disciplined and work on my small corner of the world day by day.
I can be determined and not give up, or give in.
I can be self controlled and not let my feelings determine my actions.
I can be gentle with my hands but also with my words.
I can be compassionate. I can be merciful.

I can be quiet. I can shut my mouth and not say a word until I know the facts and the feelings of a situation. I can keep my negativity to myself when I am feeling sad, or angry, or scared. I can keep my newsfeeds quiet. And I can talk people I know, and love and trust about my thoughts and feelings instead of throwing them out there to just rile up strife in those that don’t know my heart.
I can love. I can wish for and work for the best for people. Whether the know me or not. Whether they love me or not. Whether they hate me or not.

I can be kind. Whereever I am at, to whoever I come across.
I can be kind.

#tacklethat #bekind #smallsteps

Feel free to repost if you too are feeling small like me, in the middle of a big mess and want to do something, ANYTHING to make a little dent in it all.

20 Simple Things Almost Anyone Can Enjoy Today

20 Simple Things Almost Anyone Can Enjoy Today:

1. Running through hanging laundry…or watching kids run through hanging laundry…or just hanging out laundry and then enjoying the scent of it once it has dried. Basically I am just saying “Hang up some laundry!”
2. Watching a seed turn into food. If you don’t have seeds in the ground now, go and get a pack and plant some today!
3. Digging in the dirt. Combine this with #2 and it is 2 birds with 1 stone.
4. Hugs: Giving and getting.
5.  Playing in mud puddles…kind of like digging in dirt only messier. Which some would argue is even more fun.
6. Watching baby lambs. Don’t have baby lambs near you? Contact local farms to see if they do open houses, or go to an animal shelter and see if you can play with the animals there, or just watch for animals out in your yard.
7.  A quiet backyard. Or a quiet park. Or a quiet room. Sometimes you just need to enjoy some quiet.
8.  Volleyball.
9.  Dandelion wishes.
10.  Merry-go-rounds.
11.  Rainbows! Can’t find a rainbow? Make one!
12.  Walk around barefoot. (Someplace it’s safe to do so! #sketchless)
13. The sight and smell of lilacs. They are dying out here but plenty of other flowers are just as easy to enjoy.
14.  Soft horse noses. I don’t recommend just randomly petting horses, but if you have one, or can get permission to pet one, pet it’s nose. They are so soft!
15.  Sunsets. They usually come once a day. 😃16. Photographs. Take some pictures, or look at old pictures. Whatever floats your boat.
17. Play on a playground. (Even if you are “too old”)
18.  Find flowers that are your favorite color. Mine is purple. 💜
19.  Curls…okay maybe only I can enjoy this today and everyday.
20. Swinging. Just do it! It might make you feel silly, or a little dizzy but it’s also guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

Follow me on Instagram to see the rest of my #100daysofsimplejoys challenge.

Happy Tackling!- Amber


100 Days of Simple Joys

2 weeks ago I started posting #100daysofsimplejoys on a whim.

Day 1

Day 1

My kids were loving when I hung out laundry because then they could pretend that the hanging clothes were a monster and the monster was eating them #kidsknowhowtohavefun. And I was enjoying watching them take so much pleasure out of something that many people would consider a mundane and maybe even unnecessary chore. I snapped a pic of my youngest running through my flapping laundry and I went to post it on Instagram when I remembered a video that I saw on YouTube where the Vlogger mentioned how she had done a #100daysofmakeup challenge and it clicked for me that I could do the same with my simple joys. I didn’t really think it through, I didn’t plan it out, I just spontaneously posted a picture of my Little Red under the clothesline….Then came day 2.

I knew I had to finish what I started so I was on the look out for simple joys throughout the day and actually found many things worthy of the hashtag #100daysofsimplejoys. I still thought it would be easy.

Then it rained…and rained and rained. I don’t know about y’all but my mood is easily affected by the weather. Maybe it’s the vitamin D but I need sunshine, or a whole lot of willpower, to keep a sunny disposition when it is not sunny. So, I confess, I used some of day 2’s simple joys over the next few days. But then, even while the days were dreary, my mind was so focused on finding small, simple things that made me happy that I was finding them in places I hadn’t seen them before. I was stopping and appreciating my quiet and peaceful backyard then just a few days later stopping and appreciating my noisy, full of life ball field.

I was and am feeling more thankful for the small moments. I am savouring the little things. I am finding that things I normally overlook I am stopping and seeing. And more than anything else I am finding that there are so many things that aren’t “instagram worthy” that ARE worthy of my attention and my gratitude.

So what about you? Do you want to join me in noticing the small moments? Do you want to appreciate the little things that don’t take much time, effort or money to enjoy? They are just there waiting for us to find them! If you want to take part just start looking around then share pics or posts of your simple joys on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #100daysofsimplejoys and #simplejoys, or just post in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear about all the simple things that make you joyful!!!

Happy Tackling! – Amber



Getting Free Sunscreen!

If I had a dollar for everytime I was told that I am the “whitest white person” that someone has ever met I would be one rich lady.

My fair skin (and the comments that come along with it) doesn’t bother me at all…that is until I go out in the sun. Then I BURN, and burn quickly. “How quickly?” you ask. I will tell you how quickly – When I was a teenager, living in Texas, I had marching band practice for 2 hours everyday after school and if I did not put on SPF 40+ sunscreen at least twice during practice I would be red hot burned by the time I got home. NOT…FUN.

Oops! I forgot to put sunscreen on my knees.

Oops! I forgot to put sunscreen on my knees.

So I think it goes without saying that I go through a lot of sunblock.

When I was younger I would use whichever sunscreen was cheapest but as I had kids, 2 of which are redheads and even fairer than me, I began to learn about the chemicals that are in conventional sunscreen. My oldest had sensitivities to fragrances, dyes and other chemicals in any and all soaps, detergents, lotions, etc. practically from birth so I was definitely cautious about the products I put on her.

In my research I came across information about the 4 types of sun protection

1.SUNSCREENS – Uses ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate to filter or absorb the suns raditation.

2. SUNBLOCKS a.k.a. Mineral Sunscreens – Uses ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide to create a physical barrier on your skin that blocks the sun’s radiation

3. Formulas that use a mix of both sunblocks and sunscreens.

4. Physical Protection – Things like long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses to block the suns rays.

I usually opt for options 2 and 4, sunblocks and physical protection, for me and my family. (The reason I avoid sunscreens is that the chemicals used to protect against UV rays can also cause skin irritaions, allergic reactions, and some studies show that they may cause hormone disruptions. )

So we stay out of the sun during the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. if possible, stay in the shade, wear items to physically block the sun rays, and use mineral sunblock and lots of it.

The “greener” sunscreens are all pretty pricey so I wasn’t too excited about having to buy an entire bottle in order to try it so I started contacting all the companies who had highly rated sunscreens on the Environmental Working Groups Guide to Sunscreens Best Sunscreens List and requested samples. I figured I would get a couple samples and at least one of the sunscreens would work well enough for me to want to buy a full bottle. But boy was I surprised when I recieved samples from not just 2 or 3 companies but 18!

Basically I had enough sunscreen for an entire summer just by contacting companies and requesting samples!

How To Tackle Requesing Sunscreen Like Amber –
1. Go to the company’s website and find their “contact us” page.

2. Use the contact form on their page or the email provided to send a message with what you are requesting, why you are requesting it, and your name and address.

(I wrote about how my kids are fair skinned and sensitive and that I was trying to find the best sunscreen for my family. If I had used a product by the company I would include a note about which products of theirs I already enjoyed. If I had never used their products I wrote about why I wanted to try something of theirs.)

3. If you can not find contact info on their website use their Facebook page and contact them through direct message.

4. Get emails back saying “Yes, your sample is on the way!” “No samples, but here is a coupon!” “Sorry, we don’t have samples at this time.”

5. Email all those people back saying “Thanks! You are awesome.” or “No problem. Thanks for taking the time to respond!”

5. Get a bunch of sunscreen samples in your mailbox over the next 6 weeks!

Easy Peasy!

I will get of the list of the companies that sent me samples or coupons up as soon as I can!

Happy tackling! – Amber

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