venturing bravely into wider seas

At The Shore Of A Wider Sea by Mark Reep  I just discovered this brilliant artist today. Bless his skill with coin and words of gratitude, will you, if you can do so?
Disturb us, O Lord, when we are too well-pleased with ourselves when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, O Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the water of life when, having fallen in love with time, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim. Stir us, O Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas where storms show Thy mastery, where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes and invited the brave to follow. Amen - Sir Francis Drake

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This. This is the very invitation I've been waiting for all week. My invitation to be disturbed and daring and brave; to walk farther, to dream bigger, to be bolder; to drink living waters that will quench this desert heart of mine. Am I at fault? Having fallen in love with the comfortable secure, and gladly watching time and my dreams stand still in vain. I have been graciously invited to follow the Eternal One into this greater unknown in search of a more beautiful heaven-seeking and dream-seeking life every day. Today I am overwhelmed and undone. Have I just been waiting for new horizons to appear? Too afraid to jump; chest pounding with the knowing of this new path to be forged, to be fought for. So, with rippled breaths and quaking bones, I step off of this comfortable shaded cliff and venture out into the dim uncomfortable blinding light in search of these hopefully-non-mythic wider seas where the storms show His mastery. I stagger and stumble amid these uncertain waves. And though I may clasp onto my lifeless lungs in human fear, I feel the Spirit as it envelops me in my rawness - breathing into me deeply, providing every ounce of life-breath and faith that I need to make this called upon journey. I seek to become unafraid, unafraid of losing this sight of land, in favor of glimpsing the blessed unknown up ahead. And we cannot forget the stars.

Why, yes, everything will be okay. I am made brave-heart. 

one year wed

our one year wedding anniversary was exactly twenty-two days ago. and i haven't reflected back on those 365 married days yet, so this, my friends, is an attempt to do so.

i'll only share some of our marital mountain highs and valley lows, because a lot happens in a whole year and sometimes you just can't bring yourself to write about every precious love-growing moment.

right after saying i do to the best and most handsome man on earth on november second twenty-thirteen we had a perfect-for-us kind of honeymoon: low key, mountain views, good food, books and geeky things. afterwards we loaded up my car back at my parents place, said goodbye, and then i finally moved across the state into our very first little apartment with my husband. i must say that it's truly amazing living with your best friend, getting to see them every single day, and not worrying about being nearly five hours away for once. november also saw me tackling a brand new job just before thanksgiving/black friday/christmas hit - which in essence was crazy, thankfully though i had previously worked a similar job and was able to jump right in unscathed.

around this same time i had my first "wife scare" when i couldn't get a hold of my husband via his cell, and he was almost two hours late getting home from work - turns out my DH's phone had died, it had started snowing and his car battery had died at work which meant someone had to give his car a jump and he had to make it to the station to get it fixed pronto. i may have cried a tiny bit, then he got home. we took a deep breath and then we both laughed because we just knew it would make a great "once upon a time" story for our future children some day down the line.

at the end of november, just before thanksgiving we found a water leak and a ton of black mold in our apartment. the mold battle has been an on again off again battle throughout our entire first year of marriage. honestly? i'm thankful for our first apartment together; our very first home; though i will be happy when we can move to a newer place that has no mold and less leaks and problems. we've definitely been schooled in mold removal and learning how to count our blessings in the midst of not-so-fun circumstances.

due to working retail i worked throughout most of the usual family get together times for my family last year, but i was able to make it to my husband's family thanksgiving, christmas and christmas eve celebrations. it was such a wonderful feeling, this being immensely loved by my new family, even though i was terribly homesick. my favorite christmas memory was of Jared's cousin and his pappaw playing the guitar and harmonica while we sang along with one another on christmas eve - 'twas magical and felt like a huge warm welcome hug that enveloped everyone in the room. another favorite memory goes to watching my father-in-love taking a hat and wearing it a dozen goofy ways on christmas day; we also laughed our way through Cast Away and Forrest Gump. we surely laughed a lot this past christmas, and i hope we all do so again this year, despite being apart.

jumping over to the new year . . . in january twenty-fourteen brave-heart showed it's fearless face and declared itself my One Word. i also learned how to let my Jesus and my husband hold me in an even more intimate holy way than ever before. 

we also saw snow three times in our first year of marriage. i got caught out driving in the nasty stuff twice. and you should know that no one in the south is ever prepared for the stuff. it's no fun, even though i do know how to scrape out my car from ice and snow and drive in the beautiful yet terrible stuff like a champ now.

come march i found holiness in basil and sloppy word tripping.

in april i learned how to bravely weep. and yes, i managed to cry an ocean full of tears my first year of marriage. sorry, not sorry. we also celebrated my hunk of a husband's twenty-fourth birthday by taking a trip to the zoo. i love that my husband is happy with only just a day trip to the zoo.

may had me surprised by a dear-heart friend on my twenty-fifth birthday, and celebrating the one year of our engagement, plus six months of marriage alongside mother's day with my momma. i also found my heart and lungs reeling, wandering and wondering, as i entertained every thought of beginnings and endings and the what-after-thats. 

june found me trying my utmost to bloom where i have been planted for this first-year season of marriage. i traveled down to little town south to celebrate my best friend's college grad and twenty-second birthday party. we also went on a family beach trip during this month - the place we stayed at was amazing, plus we made some awesome memories with my new family.

july i was reading, a ton, hence the silence. this was the month the husband and i also had to clear out our savings account due to vehicle repairs . . . golly gee wiz whatever blech . . . we're just so thankful that the Lord kept on providing for us throughout the next few months, the whole year, really.

in august i celebrated five years of blogging.  and started my business up full force with doTERRA essential oils.

september was, again, quite the quiet month for us.

october came and went by with only so much as a whisper to be heard on the blog. but the epic part about october was that the stair-step writerly sisterhood joined forces for their second IRL meeting. we had a wonderful time, even if a nasty glutening hit me hard and almost made me consider an ER visit. i loved making memories with rachelle and meghan.

and now here we are. finally at the threshold of our first year of marriage closing as we enter into our second year of marriage. though nothing really ever closes, does it? life just keeps on blooming, opening like rose petal after rose petal until more beauty and thorns are relinquished for viewing pleasure.

how did we spend our anniversary? well, to be completely frank most of it, for myself, was spent in the bathroom and on the couch (no i am not pregnant) due to my digestive system and body fighting itself after the dastardly glutening of twenty-fourteen. my husband was so amazing. he was patient with me, took care of me, wasn't upset at changed plans - in the end we just spent time with my family (and his grandparents) up in the mountains while they all loved on me through every pain and sleepless night i endured. now that is true love lived out.

marriage most certainly has its ups and downs. it is hard and amazing and it comes with terrible unforeseen circumstances and showers of unforeseen thirst-quenching blessings. i'm so happy with the man i chose to marry, mostly because he is not afraid to grasp this woman's hand tightly and to walk onward through every mountain high and valley low we face in life and in our marriage together.

i love him and our life together so much it hurts.

i know that life is about to get crazy for us, as we were both just informed today that my husband will be losing his job soon.

so. prayers for us as we step bravely into our second year of marriage, dear-heart's?

all is love and grace and blessings and trials, but the greatest of these is becoming enveloped in the ever-abounding depths of His greater love for us.

peace and love unto you.

signed sincerely, the mr. and the mrs.

portals of water and wine by r.l. haas // a celebration + cover reveal

Title :: Portals of Water and Wine
Author :: R. L. Haas
Release Date :: December 1st, 2014
Cover Artist :: Megan Mahen of Megan Mahen Illustrations 

// I am so grateful that I get to be a part of the cover reveal team for Rachel's debut fantasy novel today. She is the most genuine and beautiful writer, folks. I absolutely adore her and her brave heart-strung words, truly I do. So with a round of applause I welcome R.L. Haas' novel Portals of Water and Wine to the world's stage. Enjoy the cover and be sure to pre-buy a copy for yourself, dear-hearts. <3 //

Portals of Water and Wine Book Description :: 

Naya lives in chaos. Her family is shredded, with only bare threads of her long-dead mother and her absent father still lingering in her house. 

And then she hears the name -- Alonthiel -- spoken as a promise of freedom and escape, if only for one fleeting summer. And so she goes, hand in hand with her two best friends, allowing herself to slip into a new world of ancient origins, magical and sacred. 

Inside the gates of the hidden Fae city, Naya finds more than she could have ever dreamed. So much is waiting for her: magic, strength, and answers to the secrets kept from her since the death of her mother -- all lingering mere miles from her doorstep. 

But when a dark force threatens to raze her newfound home, leaving only rivers of blood in its wake, she must harness her fire -- or watch Alonthiel fall.

Exclusive Excerpt ::

The war had waged for nineteen years. Alonthiel had been overrun with the Fledgling Armies, the children of Ash and Iron. They were the sons and daughters born once to Alonthiel, now so twisted and dark that their former Fae heritage was barely a drop flowing through their veins.

There had been a treaty, but it had been broken…somehow…no one could even remember the reason anymore.  They had come in the night, with their feathered manes and glowing eyes the color of boiling blood and their fingernails set with iron. They had no need for swords, save the ones that grew from the ends of their hands. They were a deadly force, led into battle by their captain Flail, the son of the Fledgling King.

            The sounds of children laughing had been replaced with widow’s wailing. The smashing and splashing of men’s glasses and bar-house celebrations had turned into the sound of metal on metal, metal on flesh.

            The music was gone.

            King Aboras had been crowned for only six days, a rushed ceremony without much pomp or fanfare. He was the fourth King since the war had begun. There was no separation of monarch from common man in the eye of the sword. He crouched in his tent, eyes fixed on the maps splayed on the table in front of him but there was no focus or direction there.

            He knew that this would be the last night. His armies were exhausted, running on little sleep and handfuls of food they gathered from the nearby woods. The supplies were sapped, and their powers were dwindling down to sparks. This was the end.

            And so, in the darkness of the night with only the stars to provide light, Aboras gathered his people together, every last one that still lived. They circled around their king, loyal to the end. He could not lie to them. He told them of the losses, of the depletion of stores and the draining of magic. The end was coming; they should gather their families and run to the mountains, over the river that the Fledglings could not, would not, cross.

            No one moved. Not one child tried to run, not one husband left his family. They all stood. None would leave their king. 

About the Author ::

R. L. Haas is one of the wild ones, writing Faerie stories from her little self-declared cottage surrounded by Midwestern cornfields and never enough coffee. Her nonfiction work has appeared in such online publications as SheLoves Magazine and Literary Orphans. She lives with her beloved husband and equally wild daughter, along with their oversized Great Dane. They are ruled over by two fluffy cats. She blogs about her faith, her heart and her ever-growing literary obsessions at

Author photo by Jennifer Upton of Photography by Jennifer Upton.

one small phrase

photo via pinterest

If my soul were only able to whisper one small phrase to your own, I would speak to you swiftly, and you would know all at once that 
"you are loved."


In Its Time

1. Favorite fall fashion/clothing item? I'm a cardigan and leather boots sort of girl. Whoops, that was two things not one. ;)

2. Favorite fall drink? I'm all about some apple cider and spiced wassail. We served apple cider in beautiful glass jars at my wedding reception last autumn. Needless to say, my love for all things apples runs deep in my veins.

3. What's something on your fall bucket list? Taking a photo in the exact spot we were married exactly one year ago to the day on November 2nd. So, yeah . . .also, celebrating my first ever wedding anniversary with the one whom my heart loves in the same place we honeymooned on our anniversary weekend. I cannot wait! 

4. Favorite fall recipe? I'm a soup loving girl, so a hot bowl of baked potato soup topped with cheddar, and a piece of gluten free bread, would be my first choice-of-soup. Secondly, I'd take a good spicy bowl of chili.

5. Halloween candy or Pumpkin Spice Latte? Pumpkin Spice Latte - made by my baby sister - hers is undoubtedly better than Starbucks. And I am not fibbing on that one. My sister is the Lil Latte Lady!

6. Favorite fall scent? Hazelnut, Cinnamon, Clove, Patchouli. I will not choose one. I just can't.

7. Favorite fall holiday? I'm partial to Halloween. I usually watch a Tim Burton movie marathon, pig out on chocolate covered coffee beans, and snuggle up under a quilt with my loved ones with a hot beverage in hand. Halloween is my choice over Thanksgiving, but only because its the day my husband (then just friend) first came to visit me 5 years ago after our summer together at fuge camp . . . and it was then on that day that I knew I wanted him to be my something more.

8. What is fall (weather) like where you live? Well, the first two days of fall have been in the 60's and rainy and grey thus far. My husband and I love this sort of weather. It reminds me of when he first came to visit me . . . but enough about me and my husband. The trees haven't changed colors here yet, but hopefully by the end of October we'll see those glorious leaves show us their color-peak-glory!

Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders

by Ella Frances Sanders

Back Cover Blurb: Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there's a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest? 

Lost In Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don't have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese words for running your fingers though a lover's hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee. 

In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you'll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation.

image via book's Amazon page
What I Loved: This book is the perfect hand-held sized art book, and the front cover copy isn't too shabby either. What lies nestled just in between this book's beautiful pages? Stunning untranslatable word-studded illustrations. Gorgeous, silly, surprising, swoon-worthy, untranslatable words - some words I've never heard of, and one or two I've seen lurking around literary fringes of the web. Lost In Translation is a book that can be read in a single sitting, however it's also a book that you'll want to hang onto for years to come, so you can look back at all those words that don't translate over into English, but are delightful and beautiful to truly know, nevertheless. 

In other news: Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book? Because I do. I love your work Ella Frances Sanders(Ahem, pretty please, say there's a volume two in the works?) 

This book will happily take up residence on my apartment coffee table. And I'm looking forward to sharing it with all of my dear word-nerd friends too. What were my favorite words? Komorebi and Hiraeth and Waldeinsamkeit, and those are just 3 of them. Purchase the book, or look them up to find out why . . . I know, I'm like that. Forgive me. But if you're desperate and want to take a peek at some the illustrations that made it into Lost In Translation beforehand, I'll understand. You may find them here.

What I Didn't Love As Much: My only qualms with this book are 1) occasionally some of the typography in the illustrations were hard to make out, and 2) there were only 50 words and I desperately wanted to learn more. Overall? The typography didn't keep me from enjoying this book at all though, and I'm an eternal optimist for more untranslatable words in our nearing future. ;)

Would I Recommend Lost In Translation . . . If you're a word-lover, a big time reader, a world traveler, a seeker of knowledge, or just want to be pleasantly surprised by the unknown, this book is for you.

About The Author: Ella Frances Sanders is a writer and illustrator who intentionally lives all over the place, most recently Morocco, the UK, and Switzerland. She likes to create books with real pages while drawing freelance things for charming people, and she is not afraid of questions or bears.

Find Ella at her website:

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I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis

Story Blurb via Goodreads:

Best-selling Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis reveals the comic book writing secrets behind his work on The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New X-Men, and more.

One of the most popular writers in modern comics, Brian Michael Bendis reveals the tools and techniques he and other top creators use to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stories of all time.Words for Pictures shows readers the creative methods of a writer at the very top of his field. Bendis guides aspiring creators through each step of the comics-making process—from idea to script to finished sequential art—for fan favorite comics like The AvengersUltimate Spider-ManUncanny X-Men, and more. Along the way, tips and insights from other working writers, artists, and editors provide a rare, extensive look behind the creative curtain of the comics industry. With script samples, a glossary of must-know business terms for writers, and interactive comics-writing exercises, Words for Pictures provides the complete toolbox needed to jump start the next comics-writing success story.

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Since I got this book for my husband to review primarily I'll let him tell you more about the book - though, you should know that I did read quite a few sections in this book myself and loved it! There is a whole host of great advice for writer's and artist's alike, even if you only fall to one side of that spectrum. 

What We Liked: // Jared // As a novelist caught, like many, in that strange, harrowing limbo called 'seeking publishing,' managing discouragement and finding your confidence can become routine, perhaps even daily tasks. We've taken classes, we've submitted drafts for review, and we've heard all the answers there are to hear about how to get in the door and stay there. Most how-to books all contain the same information as the last six, and yet we keep buying them in hopes of gleaning that one elusive tidbit of golden knowledge that will allow us to finally ascend to the literary summit. 

I don't know about the rest of you, but Words for Pictures is about as close as I've come to finding that book so far. The sad thing is I probably would have skimmed it right over if not for the name on the cover. Bendis is perhaps one of my greatest inspirations as a writer working today, and this book truly carries that same in your face, honest way with words he wields like a master craftsman. 

I would definitely point out to everyone that this book is specifically for comic book writing and art, which is a perfectly valid medium but not the one I am currently pursuing. That said, I'd still pay full price just for excerpts from a couple of the chapters. The advice in this is timeless, and anyone working in a creative industry is better off soaking up all the information in these pages like a sponge. The first and last chapters focus primarily on writing and the middle chapters tend to stick with the more industry-specific needs such as what sort of manuscripts talent scouts work best with and how the artistic collaboration between writer and artist works best, and the answers for that are, much like in any creative field, endemic to each person. 

In summation, the advice inside of this book is invaluable to anyone seeking a living in a creative industry. But I think, most of all, the best thing for me that I got out of this book is the central message that you are at your best when you write honestly and when you write what you yourself would want to read. I needed that bit of advice right when this book crossed my path, and I believe it may very well impact yours too.

// Sarah // That first and fifth chapter though! So much great advice for writers, and comic book artists alike. It's simple and short, yet profound passages like this one that really blew my mind: "Write true. Write honest. That in itself is success." A lot of the writing advice that Bendis presents in Words For Pictures was just what I needed to hear . . . that success is a fickle mistress, that fame isn't what writing and making comic books is all about, and that your writing and art should be made for you and only you first and foremost, not the general populace because its what is the hot ticket story item and genre of the moment.

I'm not very familiar with script writing myself, as I usually stick to poetry and fantasy fiction, but I was quite impressed by the chapter on script writing. The art in the book was great too - though the chapters on writing and business were a bit more to my specific tastes.

What He Didn't Like: Try as hard as I might, I had a very difficult time finding flaws in this book, it really nails everything it sets out to do and comes with advice from the best in the business.  If I had to nitpick,  I could point out that it was penned by a Marvel comics author and that does mean that it takes from primarily Marvel and 3rd party publishers such as Dark Horse Comics. So, if you are a DC lover by heart, you may be disappointed by the lack of representation here. Also, it does cover a wide range of subjects and may not delve as deeply as desired into the particular one you yourself might be interested in, most only get a chapter and an excerpt from a guest writer involved in the field being discussed.  Outside of that I can find little in the way of flaws or nitpicks.

Would We Recommend This Title? Most definitely. We both agree that we think an assortment of comic lovers, geeks, writer's and artist's alike will all be able to have a great takeaway from Words For Pictures

About the Author: A comic book writer and erstwhile artist. He has won critical acclaim (including five Eisner Awards) and is one of the most successful writers working in mainstream comics. For over eight years Bendis’s books have consistently sat in the top five best sellers on the nationwide comic and graphic novel sales charts.

Though he started as a writer and artist of independent noir fiction series, he shot to stardom as a writer of Marvel Comics' superhero books, particularly Ultimate Spider-Man.

Bendis first entered the comic world with the "Jinx" line of crime comics in 1995. This line has spawned the graphic novels Goldfish, Fire, Jinx, Torso (with Marc Andreyko), and Total Sell Out. Bendis is writing the film version of Jinx for Universal Pictures with Oscar-winner Charlize Theron attached to star and produce.

Bendis’s other projects include the Harvey, Eisner, and Eagle Award-nominated Powers (with Michael Avon Oeming) originally from Image Comics, now published by Marvel's new creator-owned imprint Icon Comics, and the Hollywood tell-all Fortune and Glory from Oni Press, both of which received an "A" from Entertainment Weekly.

Bendis is one of the premiere architects of Marvel's "Ultimate" line: comics specifically created for the new generation of comic readers. He has written every issue of Ultimate Spider-Man since its best-selling launch, and has also written for Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men, as well as every issue of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Ultimate Origin and Ultimate Six.

Brian is currently helming a renaissance for Marvel’s AVENGERS franchise by writing both New Avengers and Mighty Avengers along with the successful ‘event’ projects House Of M, Secret War, and this summer’s Secret Invasion.

He has also previously done work on Daredevil, Alias, and The Pulse.

*Disclaimer: We received this book for free from Blogging For Books with the sole purpose of reading this book and of providing an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are our own. Thank you again, Blogging For Books Team! - The Fisher's

for such a time as this: five long years of self discovery

I've been blogging for over five years. Note that I said for over five years because I'm not writing this post on the exact to-the-day fifth year anniversary of my blog. Why? Because I forgot my own blog's birthday. What can I say? Life just demands to be paid attention to more attentively during certain seasons of our lives, and especially in this one . . . this brave-hearting season for myself. I'm okay with this, oddly enough, because this simply means that I have successfully accomplished what I set out to do at the very beginning of this yearlive more, and do it bravely.

And in case anyone is wondering . . . my actual five year blogging anniversary was on July 11th. About a month ago to be precise.  

I'll confess to you and myself right now that somewhere along the way I feel as if I've lost and found and found and lost my writer's voice here on this blog. I'm not even completely sure what this means for myself at the moment. I'm quite disheartened at the moment because I feel as if I've lost my writer's mojo or something, but I still desperately want to continue writing here because I truly do love this blog and I really don't want to give up on it, or you, my faithful readers.

So what does this all mean?

After much hemming and hawing I've decided to keep writing here at Oh, Restless Bird, even though I've often doubted my ability to continue doing so many times already this year. I think I must continue to write though, because it's the brave-hearted thing to do. And brave-heart . . . that is the One Word I boldly chose to cling to in twenty-fourteen, is it not? So then I must actively pursue this life of brave-heartingThe writing must also carry on, as it has and will continue to do so, because it challenges my deep-seeded fears and elevates myself to the status of brave-hearted seeker instead of just being the restless identity-seeking girl.

Therefore I gladly welcome this new reinvention of self once more. I am a woman who is now fiercely declaring brave despite the fear that has taken up residence within herself. I’m also not afraid to admit that every step – both good and bad   have lead me to a place where I’ve come to realize just how proud I am of who I was in the past, who I am in the now, and who I have still yet to become. Even though my earlier blog posts still make me cringe a little when I read back through them. I am still proud that they’re frozen in time here, because without every single blog post that was painstakingly written I would not be who I am today. I would never have known this voice of mine. And for that I am eternally grateful.

So, thank you, dear-heart. Thank you, endlessly, for following me for five long years. Thank you for following my journey from the discovery stage, to the restless stage, and finally to the roaring (yet taking time to live outside of the blogosphere) brave-heart woman stage. It means the world to me – and just so you know, the silence as of late should be no indication that I am giving up on me or you or this blog, okay?

I am privileged to accept the task of writing here for however many more years God allows me to share my messy brave-hearting adventuring ways through embracing this life of mine alongside all of you.

With all the gratitude I possess, 

The Blender Girl by Tess Masters // A Blended-Cookbook Review

I was really excited when I learned that the Blogging For Books Community would be expanding their horizons, and extending their listed book choices to many new genres, including cookbooks.

Tess Masters’ cookbook The Blender Girl had actually been on my Amazon wish list since I learned of its existence through the foodie blogging community. Needless to say, I was really happy when I saw that this book was up-for-grabs on the newly designed Blogging For Books website for review.

The Blender Girl is a collection of 100 gluten-free and vegan recipes, by the blogging blender-maven sensation Tess Masters herself. This book was on my top list of cookbooks to try because I myself am living a gluten-free lifestyle. And it isn’t always easy for me to find great-tasting , made-from-scratch recipes, that choose to use wholesome naturally GF ingredients to create easy blender-friendly culinary masterpieces that taste just as good as they sound in recipe form.

Let me break down the loves, and the likes, for you about this particular blended-cookbook . . .


On Book Design: The photography (by Anson Smart) in The Blender Girl cookbook is airy and divine and flawless. I nearly drooled when I cracked open the book’s cover and flipped through its gorgeous food-filled pages for the very first time. Every page and recipe in TBG is well thought out and well laid out, clean, and has an artistic precision and flair about it that makes this book healthful eye-candy to its ready-to-blend reader.

On The Layout: Tess Masters’ doesn't just give you recipes here. Tess shares with us, in her section of The Blender Girl called “The Lowdown,” her large wealthy knowledge base of blender tips (pg. 9), the health benefits of adding in certain raw foods to your diet (pg. 15), and extra tidbits about grains and such for soaking and sprouting purposes, and how to make your own nut milks from scratch that I never would’ve thought to make at home (pg. 24), etc. Assuredly all of these extra bits of info will quantify the health benefits of the recipes you pursue in your blending adventures. So, really, you aren’t alone to make culinary blunders with your blender. Tess has you, and your blender, too.

On The Recipes Themselves: My favorite recipe (so far) is the Dark Chocolate Pudding on page 164. I mean . . . It’s avocados and cacao powder and maple syrup for crying out loud! And it’s kind of my new favorite pudding recipe. Even my non-vegetable-or-fruit-eating husband loved this recipe for dark chocolate pudding, and yes, I told him what was in this recipe before he took his first bite, and he still gobbled it up.

I’m really looking forward to cooking my way through some of the more savory (think dinner-time) recipes in the near future.

* Overall I’d give The Blender Girl  4 out of 5 stars, for its ease in readability, its vast knowledge-imparting base (in chapters 1 and 2), its healthful and well balanced gluten-free and vegan recipes, and the overall design and layout of the cookbook itself. Well done Tess Masters and 10 Speed Press.

For More Information on The Blender Girl by Tess Masters, please check out this page on her website.

About Tess Masters:

Australian-born Tess Masters is a cook, writer, actor, and voiceover artist. She shares super easy recipes on
Tess's easygoing approach has made her a go-to personality for discerning eaters looking for healthy fast food that is easy, delicious, and fun.
As a presenter and recipe developer, Tess collaborates with leading food, culinary, and lifestyle brands. She has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Vegetarian Times,, Chow, Epicurious, and AllRecipes, among other publications and websites.
Away from the blender, Tess enjoys a diverse performance career. She has toured internationally with stage productions, worked in film and television, and lent her voice to commercial campaigns, audiobooks, and popular videogame characters.
Tess and her partner, Scott Brick, live in L.A with their West Highland White Terrier (and blender-cuisine maven), Cookie.

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A great big thank you to Blogging For Books for providing me with a free copy of Tess Masters'  The Blender Girl to review and cook my way through – seriously, you guys, thank you for expanding your book genre horizons. You guys rock! 

And to Tess Masters: You really are a Blender Maven/Healthy GF Ninja if you got my husband to actually eat avocados and like them! Thank you for providing me with a fantastic addition to my GF cookbook shelf!

the stone collective // b l o o m


photograph & artwork by me 
dearheart, may you seek to bloom where you are planted, too.
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The Stone Collective is a community making much of Jesus as we create art, photography, prose, poems or music that commemorate the wonderful things God does in our life. Based on the passage in 1 Samuel 7:12-14, each month we will collect Ebenezer Stones as a regular practice in the art of worship via our creativity. 
 Want to join in on The Stone Collective? Create your own Stone and link up to LIVE IT OUT! Blog. Link up on Twitter as well with #TheStoneCollective

moments that take our breath away

photo via

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, 
but by the moments that take our breath away." ― Maya Angelou 

today has been an instance where my breath has been stolen from my lungs, my heart found pumping to a heavier rhythm on this day, than it was just yesterday.

early this morning maya angelou, poet, civil rights activist, feminist, among other things, passed away from this earth, and entered into the next life. i don't even know how to hold this moment, as her words changed so many lives for the better; her light has now gone onward to light another sphere, another place. i shake my head in disbelief, and thank the lord she lived a full, long, well loved and well lived life. she was such an awe-inspiring, beautiful, warrior-poet of a woman. the world needs more women and men like her, as she was utterly fluent in the language of love and the human soul, as we should all hope to be. i know that as a writer myself i hope to someday reflect maya in some small way.

i am reeling, wandering and wondering, as i entertain every thought of beginnings and endings and the what-after-thats. and i am strangely light of heart, and yet still feeling like there is a lesser beating, a collapse of heart in my chest. i can see both sides of this circle of life, like i always do. i see light and dark and old and new. i see a purpose beyond my comprehension or human reckoning, and oddly i do not love or hate this feeling. it's just sort of there, and i'm just sort of here today. and i'm doing what i feel like i can do. i can write, and reel, and heal, and speak words of comforting love to myself and you and whoever else is reading this and is struggling with an unknowing heart.

this is for you. this is for me. in a way, this is for maya angelou, and it's for a few other beloved ones, too.

mary and snuggles
it's also about those that have been loved a short time and lost, like my sister's beautiful grey fuzzy bunny named snuggles, who also passed this morning, after having lived the best week of her life. that bunny was loved dearly by my sweet, brave, caring baby sister. mary, it will be okay, even if its not okay, okay?

it's a day that has me reflecting upon my eighty-four year old grandfather, the man who after just having had two mini strokes and having had to have been hospitalized a few weeks ago right before my twenty-fifth birthday, has started smoking his cancer sticks again, even though he'd said to me and my husband "it scared the hell out of me!" nothing can keep my grandfather down, but he is smoking again, working out in the yard doing what he loves, which is gardening and mowing and watering the lawn religiously, despite the doctors and my grandmothers orders to live his remaining days in a more sedentary way, in his recliner. he is currently writing out his last wills and testaments, for my grandma to sign as witness. and this shatters me with disbelief, that someday, perhaps soon, he won't be here anymore to tell us about gardening, farming life during the Great Depression, or about the wars in Vietnam and Korea.

and then i think about my husbands grandmother. she is becoming encased in her own body, by a disease that sounds like some cruel man's name (Lou Gehrig's disease) and it is no joke. and it's unsettling to see her this way, tubes and machines and a wheelchair . . . her playing word charades with us, to her discomfort between breaths, gasping to speak. i grasp my husbands hands tightly these days, and reassure him that he'll make it through, but it's still not fair for her or for him. and my husband's father goes to see his mother as often as he can . . . five hours up the road to the mountains, in between all of his many responsibilities as a pastoring shepherd over his own flock. we don't know how much more time we have with mammaw. months, days, hours? so we cherish every moment we have with her, and pray her though her pain. that is all we can do, but somehow i feel as if its not enough.

it's not really fair that we lose those that inspire, those who breath life into our lungs, those who, had they not been born, neither would we have been, and yes, it's not even fair when we lose the precious animal lives we love. yet somehow death is supposed to be fair, but try telling that to the person who is thick in the reckoning and grief of it all, to the person who sees death coming for the person they love and has to declare it purposeful, God's will, beyond our understanding. it is not easy saying goodbye, even when you know another hello is in your distant or maybe, possibly, unknown near future.

death is just another mystery we cannot yet comprehend. so today i sit here, just me and my jesus, struggling to breathe in the mystery and unknowingness of it all. and i look for another grand moment to take my breath away. in the end this circle of life and death, beginning and ending, well, it's really sort of a tragically beautiful creature in its own way.

for those we lose in death are the ones who teach us how to live.