May 2017 - Tianna Holley | Tianna Holley

The Cause Within You Review – Christian Nonfiction

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Book Reviews | 0 comments

The Cause Within You, written by Matthew Barnett, is one of the few nonfiction books I was able to finish within a month. I’m bad to read multiple nonfiction books at a time, just grabbing whichever is closest for a bath or before bed. However, this one kept me interested, and I looked forward to reading it when I had a moment to spare.

It doesn’t read like a self help book, as it basically describes Matthew’s journey in turning an empty church in a drug infested neighborhood into a massive outreach church. Fresh out of high school, his father sent him to transform a dying church in California into a thriving church, and against all odds, he did it!

I often struggle with lack of faith in people. I’ve witnessed multiple generations in the same families ruined by alcohol and drug abuse, and when I see someone in that situation, I often think they won’t change or don’t want to change. I know it’s a flaw on my part–especially after reading this book. I would have given up within a few months, yet Matthew persisted. One night he looked around at the pimps, prostitutes, homeless people, and druggies on the streets outside the church, and he knew he was called to minister to them. He became a servant in the community, and it’s amazing how things began to change.

I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely one of my favorites, and I’ve even started watching some of Matthew’s videos on YouTube. His ministry is extremely uplifting and powerful, and I’m glad this book introduced me to it. He clearly has a love for people and a servant’s heart.

I just handed it over to my husband, and this is one of the few books we would both enjoy. With opposite tastes in reading, we don’t share many books. However, this one is for everyone–even teenagers. Highly, highly recommend!

Read More

Smoothies, Teas & Infused Waters – Using Fresh Herbs

Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Warm weather is here, and the gardens are bursting with flavor! Although I don’t have a green thumb and kill most of the plants I try to grow, herbs seem easy for me. Right now my rosemary bush is thriving and could use a good trimming, and I can see some peppermint leaves in their large barrel. Lemon balm, chamomile, parsley, basil–there’s too many to name!

What do I do with all these herbs? I dry some for teas and aromatherapy uses–which make great gifts–and I freeze some. However, I try to use a lot of them while they’re fresh. That means I throw them in summer salads, smoothies, hot teas, iced teas, cakes, breads, and infused waters. Like the essential oils they produce, fresh herbs have powerful benefits when eaten, and you can easily add them to smoothies, salads, and infused waters without noticing them.

The other night I made this year’s first batch of infused water, and the children are drinking it up. How else could I get them to eat rosemary, cucumber, ginger, and lemon without complaining? I also upgraded my smoothie maker and got a NutriBullet RX a few days ago, and I’m loving it. Yesterday I threw in some fresh greens, almonds, frozen fruits, and some goat milk I found on sale into one of the large pictures for lunch, and I put the leftovers in the fridge for later. All three of my children poured some for their after school snack, and I just smiled, knowing I can sneak all kinds of healthy food into those smoothies.

I’ll have to do a post on the NutriBullet RX later. With a powerful motor, it can do smoothies and drinks, and the large pictures make it easy to keep extra in the fridge. It can even make hot soups. That’s a big change from my old Ninja.

If you don’t think you can garden or even like gardening, I recommend you give certain herbs a try. Many of them are easy to grow, and they come back every year. You can even enjoy some of them year round. You just plant them and let nature do the rest. Just like the essential oils most everyone is raving about, the plants offer health benefits. Just make sure you do a little research on the herbs you plan to grow so that you know how much attention they need. Some will take over your yard if you don’t plant them in containers. That’s where large barrel planters come in handy. If you don’t have much room, you can always use smaller pots. I’m just greedy and love my barrels when it comes to certain herbs.

If you’re new to infused water, I suggest you get some ideas from Pinterest, but don’t be afraid to change the recipes. The drink I made last night originally called for mint, but since my mint isn’t ready, I used rosemary. I also love adding grated ginger to most of my waters. It has a lot of health benefits, and it’s the best way I like to ingest it. I keep the roots in my freezer and cut off a piece as needed.

Certain ingredients need to be organic. They spray a lot of chemicals on lemons, and they’re on the dirty list. Everything I’ve read says to go organic with lemons, and I use a lot of them. I start each day with a glass of lemon water.

I prepare all my infused drinks at night so the vitamins and minerals have enough time to get into the water. Once I drink all the water on the following day, I usually add more grated ginger and fill it back up for another night in the fridge. That way I get two days using the ingredients.

If you have any questions or would even like to share a recipe, be sure to leave a comment below. The drink in the picture above contains one lemon, half of a large cucumber, grated ginger, and rosemary sprigs.


Read More

The Problem with Farmers’ Markets

Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Spring is here, and the weather has been beautiful in the Atlanta area. Last month I wrote a blog post about my first visit of the year to some of the local farmers’ markets with my husband and young son. The following week my two teenage daughters surprised us with their presence to another local market, and we made it a family morning. (I still can’t believe they woke up, got dressed, and walked out the door on a Saturday morning to visit a farmers’ market. I didn’t even force them!)

With perfect weather, my daughters actually let me hold their hands in public, and we walked around tasting samples and filling our bag with fresh goodies. One of my daughters loves cheese, and it’s been causing her some problems. When I spotted a table with goat cheese samples, I urged her and my son to try them with me. I don’t even like cream cheese or cranberries, yet when I took a bite of that cranberry goat cheese on a cracker, I was hooked!

I don’t mean that in a small way either. It’s become an addiction. I HAVE to have my serving of cranberry goat cheese and crackers as a snack every morning. I crave the goat cheese. It calls me into the kitchen–even when I’m not hungry!

Out of curiosity, I purchased some cranberry cinnamon goat cheese I found at the grocery store, but it tasted nothing like the one I bought at the farmers’ market. When I ran out of the two containers I bought from the local farmer, I knew I had to go back for more.

You may be wondering how this is a bad thing. I mean, it’s great that I found something healthier than regular cheese, and I’m also supporting a local farmer. Right? What about the fact that I’ve never tasted anything this yummy, and I now depend on this one supplier for my fix? What if I move one day? What if the farmer stops showing up at the market? I mean, this isn’t a branded item. I can’t get this anywhere else!

So, take this as a warning. Casually strolling around a farmers’ market and munching on artisan samples can be hazardous. One day you’re carefree and got your eating under control. Then you’re suddenly addicted to a food item you never imagined you would even like, and you’re at the mercy of a local farmer to get your daily fix. I’m not going to be able to visit the market this weekend, and I’m already worried about not having this goat cheese next week. This is a problem!

How about you? Leave me a comment below or on the social media post. I’d love to hear about it!

Read More

Review of the Amazon Echo Dot

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I got my husband three Amazon Echo Dots last Christmas, and now that we’ve had them for four months, I’m ready to share our experience. Why three of them? Well, they’re small, and they’re cheap. They usually sell for $49.99, but they often go on sale for $39.99. With three of them, we have one in our bedroom, his office, and our living room/kitchen area. Some people actually carry one around in their purse, since they can be used with any wi-fi. From what I’ve learned online, the only difference between the more expensive Echo and the cheaper Echo Dot is the sound quality. However, you can easily plug the Dot into a speaker. You can spend $179.99 on the Echo for a better speaker, or you can buy a bunch of Echo Dots for the same price and use whatever speakers you already own. That way you can have access to the Echo in more than one room of your home.

I basically needed a gift for Christmas and decided on the Echo Dots after watching a few videos. My husband knew nothing about them when he opened his present, and he didn’t even set them up until a few weeks later, after he did a little research on his own.

That leads us to the month of January, with a new gadget in our open kitchen and living area. With three children, things quickly got annoying, and I learned that voice command is both a blessing and a curse. My nine-year-old son continuously played It’s Raining Tacos and Pen Pineapple Apple Pen. Every time he walked into the room he said, “Alexa, play…” It got to the point I was singing It’s Raining Tacos in my head continuously. And I didn’t like it!

It seems my thirteen-year-old daughter has a wild sense of music style, and she shared it each time she entered the room. My fifteen-year-old daughter just played loud and hard music to annoy me, even though she doesn’t even like it. My husband, who hardly ever listens to music, often played jazz in the background. I like jazz, but we have a different taste in that genre. After a week of listening to his music while in bed at night, I started telling Alexa to play something else. Then I would hear, “It’s my gift. You bought it for me.” Things got pretty interesting each night in our bedroom. I will admit to randomly saying, “Alexa, play whale sounds,” while we were trying to fall asleep. I also learned that my husband likes Marvin Gaye. It’s amazing what happens when you get a voice activated gadget in your room.

Oh, and then there was the night my children tortured me with Barney and Irish heavy metal folk songs. My husband was on a business trip, and later that night, the Dot kept coming on to play a Barney song while I was in bed trying to read. I thought my children had broken it with all the songs they had tortured me with, although that Dot was the one in the living room. However, my husband called, and I learned he figured out how to turn the Dot on while in a hotel room far away. He saw that the children had been playing Barney, so he kept turning it back to that. He would wait about ten minutes before doing it, so it took me a while to get bothered.

Luckily, the newness wore off within a month, and everyone stopped giving Alexa a command every time they entered the kitchen. Since that was the worst of it, we got off easy. It seems one little girl made the news when she told Alexa to buy a doll house and a large box of expensive cookies, costing her parents quite a lot of money. I don’t know if my husband set the Echo up to make purchases from Amazon, but I’m thinking he would use a password if he did.

For me, I love that I can give a voice command to time my tea or cooking while in the kitchen, and I can add to our grocery list when I notice we’re low on something. I also like that I can ask about the weather and set a morning alarm without any hassles. It’s also helped with some of the children’s homework when we’re struggling to find an answer. Overall, it makes life a bit easier, but it still has a long way to go before becoming awesome. The majority of the questions we ask can’t be answered, and I’m considering buying Google Play just to see if that’s better. It’s good for simple things for now, but I predict its capabilities will continue to grow. The future is open to great possibilities.

Oh, and although some people buy the Dot to create a smart home, we haven’t bothered with any of that. That requires extra purchases, and we don’t live in a small apartment. To upgrade our devices, it would cost quite a bit, and we’re not ready just yet.

Have any Alexa stories you want to share? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear 🙂


Read More