Soldier On – Review and Giveaway

Reading is always a good idea. But in the busy-ness of life, it often gets pushed to luxury status. I’ve got too much “important” stuff to do, too many “real” issues to deal with. And when I do sit down to read, I’ve got a mission: solve a problem.

My TBR (to be read) list has grown remarkably over the last year – as parenting issues and ADHD have moved to the forefront of my mind, my bookshelf reflects my real-life stresses. For the last year, you could always find me with nonfiction, delving further into our reality and attempting to learn and apply.

I didn’t know I needed an intervention.

I got it.

For the past few years, my friend-since-middle-school Vanessa Rasanen has been working on a novel. I’ve watched her wrestle with the plotlines, create these characters, and change her entire schedule to write more. So when her “baby” was finally born, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Turns out, it was exactly what I needed.

Instead of being caught up into my own reality, I was transported into the lives of a military couple as they navigated another deployment, personal tragedy, and a crisis of faith. I couldn’t put it down!

Vanessa has the gumption to tackle reality without sensationalism. She artfully weaves real-life issues in the storyline with humor and authenticity in Soldier On. The characters leap off the page, so I felt like I was curled up eavesdropping on two friends or choking dust and bad coffee alongside the troops.

The reality of our hope in Christ is woven throughout the storyline on a practical level. Yes, this is a book with a Christian worldview. I’ve avoided mainstream Christian fiction for a long time due to the unbiblical emotional drivel that it’s usually filled with. Who knew that independently published, military themed, Lutheran fiction would be more up my alley? :)

My return to fiction is a welcome respite from daily life, even if it involves explosive devices and weighty secrets. Especially if it involves humor and coffee.

Speaking of coffee… Vanessa has put together a fantastic prize pack for two lucky winners:

  • 1 “rest” mug from MudLove
  • 2 wood coasters from Rush Creek Rustics
  • 2oz Rainy Day soy candle from Mitten Candle Co.
  • Rise and Chai tea from The Tea Spot
  • Campfire Roast coffee from Snowy Elk Coffee Company

Visit the Rafflecopter link for all the info!

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Or here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e368d67a2/

Pick up your own copy of Soldier On in these convenient spots:

AMAZON–  http://amazon.com/dp/B07J1H6FKV

NOOK–  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soldier-on-vanessa-rasanen/1129617353

ITUNES– https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/soldier-on/id1437109314

KOBO– https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/soldier-on-3

And check out some other blogs featuring Soldier On and more chances to win!

October 30 – Review – Mary J Moerbe
October 31 – Review – Grit & Grace
November 1 – Review – Cammo Style Love
November 2 – Review – Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife
and First Line Friday – Faithfully Bookish
November 3 – Interview – The Nap Time Author
November 5 – Guest Post – Christian Shelf Esteem
November 6 – Review – Pure Joy Creative
November 7 – Review – Lights in a Dark World

 

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Vegetarian for a Week – And My Family Didn’t Notice

I had a secret.

There’s nothing unusual about me meal-planning, but one week I had an undercover theme. All my dinner plans had something in common. Or rather lacked something in common.

Meatless Mondays are trendy, and our family already lands way below the national average for meat consumption. But I wanted to put myself and my family to the test and see if I could cook family-pleasing vegetarian meals all week.

I have vegetarian, vegan, and reducitarian (love that word) friends, so cooking meatless is hardly an innovative concept to many who might be reading, but I wanted to do this to encourage families who might think this isn’t possible or who want to cut back on meat for health, budget, or treatment reasons and think their families will protest.

Maybe they won’t notice. Mine didn’t.

Here’s what I did.

Monday: Loaded Fries

These are homemade roasted potato wedges that everyone got to top with their choices. I did sautéed peppers and onions, pickled jalapeños, cheese, and sour cream. Sour cream doesn’t photograph well as it knocks off the color balance, lesson learned.

Tuesday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

These were my personal favorite of the week. I loving using Trader Joe’s Wheat & Corn tortillas for enchiladas because they don’t crack apart like corn tortillas but have a better texture than straight flour tortillas. I roughly adapted this from my go-to enchilada recipe from Good Cheap Eats – used roasted diced sweet potatoes, black beans, and pepper jack cheese. Hit the spot on a cold, rainy night, though the kids thought the sauce was too spicy. No objection to the weird filling, just the heat level, haha.

Wednesday: “Sausage” and Veggie Pasta

Did you know Aldi carries a lot of vegetarian and vegan products? Their meatless Italian Sausage is quite tasty, with good texture and flavor. I have one girl who won’t eat sausage, but I get some protein in her by whispering to her that it’s not actually sausage. ;) This was probably the kids’ favorite. I added diced tomatoes, butternut squash, spinach, and basil. Served with Caesar salad mix.

Thursday: Thai Peanut Butter Tofu

This was the only one this week that I actually used a recipe. (I’m not a great food blogger, and this post is intended more for inspiration than instruction) Thai Pra Ram Tofu was Brett’s favorite of the week. It was easy to make, and my kids like Thai dishes with peanut butter. Served with Thai cucumber salad, brown rice, and broccoli.

Friday: Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

This was a gamble for me because my kids didn’t like any recipe with spaghetti squash last year. But this was a good start to fall squash season 2018! I think I won them over with the black olives. Served with garlic bread. I used my usual recipe for spaghetti casserole and just substituted cooked spaghetti squash.

Are we turning vegetarian? No. But this week showed me it’s not as hard as I thought to come up with meatless meals, and they were better-received than expected by the five other mouths I feed.

There are a lot of benefits to cutting back on meat consumption. Budget is a good place to start. Health is another one as meatless meals have more vegetable servings. Very few people get the recommended daily amount, and this is an easy way to get more.

(Keto people, don’t send me hate mail.)

Meatless Mondays are a great place to start as a mindful way to introduce change. And I admit I’ve gotten in a rut! This was a great way to find some new recipes and experiment with new family-friendly meals.

What are your favorite meatless meals?