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For Her & Him: Cooking Up Love (part II)

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  Even though Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I still have a few great ideas and giveaways for the whole family that I want to share with you.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?  For every giveaway featured prior to February 13th, all drawings will still take place on February 14th.  However, all giveaways featured February 13th or later will have draw dates on February 28th.

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I am SO excited to share with you some of my most favorite items for Valentine’s Day that focus on the heart of the home, the kitchen.  With, loving hands, I prepare delicious and hearty meals for those whom I cherish.

My new go-to place for ideas for kitchen adventures is Kitchen Kapers–a family-friendly kitchenware store that’s been inspiring a little homemade fun in kitchens since 1975.  With 14 locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Kitchen Kapers specializes in quality kitchenware at affordable prices.

Kitchen Kapers has so many great options for Valentine’s Day. 

Are you and your spouse coffee drinkers or tea lovers?  Kitchen Kapers’  his and her asian mug set ($19.99) is a fun way to enjoy your weekend tea time for two (or it’s a great gift for a couple celebrating an anniversary in a keepsake box).  By the way, today is Chinese New Year!

Want something more daring and romantic?  Think of plump and ripe strawberries dipped in fondue chocolate in this electric fondue set from Cuisinart available at Kitchen Kapers for $59.99–50% less than listed retail price!

This cœur a la crème “cream of the heart” mold is perfect for making your own sweetened cream cheese covered in wild strawberries. Yum!  And, a 4-inch ceramic mold retails for a mere $4.99–hosting tea parties with cheese and crackers will never be the same again.

Besides carrying great kitchenware online, Kitchen Kapers flagship store and culinary academy, located in Moorestown, New Jersey, is where foodies can find an extensive range of cooking classes from knife skills to learning the art of French cooking or creating beautiful cakes.  Foodies can develop an international cooking skill set from Sicilian, Tuscan, Cuban, or Sexy Szechuan in the couples cooking classes–that’s the kind of date night I would LOVE.

For the younger set, Kitchen Kapers has classes for children (ages 5-12) and teens (ages 12-18).  I love that they have a class just for young boys to create fun and boy-inspired foods in Emma’s Boy Brigade.  Some of the other classes are aptly titled, “How to Cook Better than Your Parents.”  When my son is older, we may need to visit Morristown to acquire a family culinary adventure.

For Valentine’s Day, it is this passion-red porcelain enamel on cast-iron Le Creuset heart-shaped casserole dish that makes me smile every time I walk into our tiny kitchen.  This sweet little dish looks like it’s reaching out to give a hug with the little red handles on the sides.

See?

The tight-fitting lid seals in the flavors and creates a blanket of heat for gently cooking food.  The enameled surface allows for even heating, longer heat retention, and it doesn’t react to acidic foods.

I can make perfect sticky rice every single time.  Stir-fry bell peppers?  Simple.  Deep frying chicken thighs for chicken cacciatore?  Easy to do, easy to clean.  I essentially created every part of a chicken cacciatore all in this one little 2 quart casserole (just for the cooking experience), and then I served the rice along side the chicken cacciatore for dinner.

Tonight, I used the “heart pot”, as my son so tenderly refers to it, to prepare a berry crisp with hints of cinnamon and cocoa.  The heart-shaped casserole dish from Le Creuset retails for $200, but it’s $50 less on the Kitchen Kapers site.  My little family can celebrate Valentine’s Day every day with this passion-red beauty.

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Gluten-Free Berry Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic strawberries
  • 1 10 oz. bag of frozen organic blueberries
  • 2 T of cocoa powder
  • 1 T of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup of sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
  • 2 T sukenot or turbinado sugar or honey or brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1 can of organic coconut milk (optional)

Directions:

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Next, grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or use an ungreased porcelain enamel cast iron oven–the Le Creuset 2 qt heart casserole dish is perfect.

Pour thawed and drained blueberries and strawberries into baking dish, and mix the 2 T of sukenot into the berries.  Then, dust with cocoa powder.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat or other gluten-free flour with the 1/3 c. honey/sukenot/brown sugar/turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and cut with a knife or pastry cutter until crumbly.

Then, Layer the flour-cinnamon-sugar mixture over berries in dish.  Note that buckwheat flour is already earthy brown, even more so when mixed with cinnamon and brownish sukenot.

Bake about 30-35 minutes uncovered and try to distract yourself with something else like eating dinner.

Remove it from the oven and the cinnamon-cocoa-berry smell will bring anyone within wafting-distance standing within two paces of you…or closer.

See how the finished crisp is only a slight shade darker than before it went into the oven?  I love the bubbly berries peeking through the crisp!

This dessert should be served warm. It can be drizzled with coconut milk and a little more honey, or topped with ice cream, whipped cream. It makes 6-8 servings.

Gooey berry goodness.

Note: if you haven’t worked with coconut milk before, here’s a little tutorial.

First, never. ever. NEVER. buy the lite coconut milk.  It’s a waste of money and nutritional value.  All the good stuff is in the rich and fat of the milk (medium-chain mono-unsaturated fats…good for you!).

Second, open the can and use a spatula to pour the coconut water and the milk into a mixing bowl.

It’ll be a chunky and congealed mess. So, take your trusty whisk and beat away until the chunky congealed goop becomes a smooth white liquid.

There, now you can use it!  Take a spoon and drizzle it over your gluten-free berry cobbler.

Store the remaining coconut milk in a sealed glass container.  It will last in the refrigerator up to 7 days.

I love to use it in smoothies, soups, and sauces.  In fact, for Valentine’s Day, I’m using coconut milk to make thai chicken and peanut sauce from the New Intercourses cookbook.

For more “Cooking up love” ideas, read part I of this post series.

*I received samples from Le Creuset  and Kitchen Kapers for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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For Her & Him: Cooking Up Love (Part I)

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  Even though Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I still have a few great ideas and giveaways for the whole family that I want to share with you.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?  For every giveaway featured prior to February 13th, all drawings will still take place on February 14th.  However, all giveaways featured February 13th or later will have draw dates on February 28th.

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Do you need ideas for preparing a romantic, home cooked meal?  First, let me tell you that I have been pouring over this creative and poetic cookbook ever since it arrived in my hot little hands.

I’ve got strawberries on the brain.  But, this cookbook helps get something else on the brain.  Note: this is not a family-friendly cookbook, but it is perfect for couples who want to remember that they are first and foremost, a couple–secondly, they are parents of small children. Sometimes, we need a reminder and a little inspiration…and the 10th anniversary edition of The New Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge is a valentine for couples everywhere who love and cherish food as well as one another.Every married couple who loves to cook would safeguard a cookbook treasure that entices you with sumptuous recipes that create a mood for love.  The New Intercourses Cookbook delivers and completely surpasses my expectations.

This playful cookbook covers 19 sensual foods, ranging from traditional favorites like oysters and strawberries to lesser-known but just as potent foods such as pine nuts and asparagus. Including histories of aphrodisiacs and uses of the featured foods, humorous and smoldering couples’ anecdotes, this beautiful and innovative cookbook features over 135 couple-tested recipes as well as edible massage oil recipes.

The photography is just gorgeous.  Beautiful foods are photographed in artful and provocative arrangements on human bodies.  There is nothing utterly inappropriate, however, if a bustier made entirely of pine nuts (and nothing else) is too steamy for the eyes in your home, then this may not be the choice cookbook for you.

While featuring some of my favorite foods, it opened my eyes to the lush and aphrodisiac nature of cooking for my husband, or preparing food together.  Most of the recipes are fairly simple with only a few ingredients.  Some of the more involved recipes include the baked artichoke and crab dip, grilled vietnamese gingered beef rolls, spicy ginger shrimp, and black bean shepherd’s pie with corn pudding.

By involved, I mean those recipes may require more ingredients, but not necessarily more time or high skill.  In fact, the beauty of this cookbook is in the attitude of cooking.  You’re invited to become emotionally engaged and creative throughout the process, and the end result isn’t always about gastronomic satisfaction.

Even if the goal is to prepare a romantic dinner for two, these recipes are sure to please at dinner parties or even adventurous family meals.  My little guy enjoyed the tomato basil soup paired with a grilled cheese panini.

You don’t have to spend a full day sweating in the kitchen–there are several simple recipes for main courses and desserts.  In fact, for Valentine’s Day, I’m making the thai chicken with peanut sauce followed by easy strawberry empanadas.  Easy. peasy.

With more snow on the way early next week, we’re going to settle in with the Mexican hot chocolate and snuggle on the couch.  There’s seasonal recipes, and ideas for pick-me-ups at any time of day.

This cookbook is my new go-to gift for my bridal friends entering wedded bliss since it’s bound to inspire many romantic cooking exploits.

Check out a few free sample recipes from the New Intercourses Cookbook online.  It retails for $29.95, and you can purchase this cookbook directly from Kitchen Kapers, the Intercourses shop, or Amazon.com.

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We’re going to return to wellBEing weekends soon enough, but I wanted to share with you the health benefits of sex via WebMd.  It may surprise you to learn that aside from burning calories and relieving stress, having sex once or twice a week can also boost immunity, improve heart health, decrease cancer risks, increase self-esteem and intimacy, decrease pain, and improve sleep.

For more “Cooking up love” ideas, read part II of this post series.

Bon appétit!

*I received a sample from Terrace Partners for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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For Her: Pretty Paper, If You Please

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  From now until February 14th, you’ll find great Valentine’s gift ideas for the whole family.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?

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Do words like letterpress or charcoal thermography make you giddy?  Are you a collector (or hoarder) of all things beautiful related to the craft of writing?

If so, you don’t have to be a bride to fall in love with these thick, textured and personalized cards embellished with water color flowers.  Wedding Paper Divas sent me the most gorgeous cards I have ever owned.  Ever.

And…they’re personalized in a pretty pink, script font with loops and swirls. I. LOVE. THEM.

See that yummy color-burst of flowers with the dainty details of a watercolor brush?  These are the floral watercolor thank you cards in raspberry (they’re also available in eggplant and luxe turquoise).

When they arrived in the mail, I squealed and twirled around the living room hugging them to my chest.  I couldn’t wait to show them to my husband who doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm about pretty paper.

The very next day, I planned to write out my list of thank you card recipients.  I placed my lovely cards on the dining table, so I could admire them, and think about the words I wanted to scrawl on them.  Stamps and fine point Sharpies were stored with the cards so everything was ready to go.

And then, another day passed, and another day, and another day.  I just couldn’t bear to part with these cards.

I know. The point of having pretty stationery is to share it with others.  I KNOW!  Since I could first write, I composed the most heartfelt letters to my dear grandmother and aunts who lived thousands of miles away.

Yet, when I received a gift of pretty stationery, stickers, pens, or pencils.  I just wanted to keep them perfect and pristine.  It was much easier to scrawl a note on my Big Chief notepad than to use up my cherished Lisa Frank or teddy bear stationery.

And, here I find myself in the same predicament.  I want to have lovely paper as an inspiration to write meaningful notes of gratitude and cheer to others, but I also want to keep the lovely, untarnished notes all for myself.

Isn’t that the most selfish thing you’ve ever heard?

I will admit, I haven’t been much of a stationery hoarder since I left college.  My husband wasn’t about to put up with an endless collection of cute cards, and still allow me to purchase more–especially with military relocations every few years.  So, I used up my stash.  every. single. pretty card. (sniff)

Part of me wants to collect pretty paper again because the lovely cards from Wedding Paper Divas are truly treasures.  Is it the weight of the card in your palm?  Or is it the warm personality of the textured paper?  Well, maybe it’s the vibrant colors, or all of these things combined to mark these cards as incredibly beautiful.

However, I acquiesced.  After opening the sealed package of sharp and crisp cards, I tenderly folded two of them.  Then, I proceeded to write out love letters to the two most important people in my life: my darling husband, and my dear son.

Somehow, it’s a little easier to continue sharing thoughts of appreciation and gratitude with others now that I’ve already started.  So, if you happen to be one of the lucky ones to receive one of my few and cherished Wedding Paper Divas cards, you’ll know how much you really mean to me.

Just a note, Wedding Paper Divas is having a sitewide sale…just in time for Valentine’s Day.  $15 off orders of $99+ (and other sales if you’re stocking up on pretty paper).  Use code FEBSALE (expires 2/16 at 11:59 PM).

*I received samples from Wedding Paper Divas for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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For the Whole Family: Green Batteries

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  From now until February 14th, you’ll find great Valentine’s gift ideas for the whole family.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?

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Did your family end up with holiday gifts that require batteries?  Thankfully, we did not, but during my son’s first year, he received multiple gifts that sucked down batteries faster than we could keep up!  Not only was I concerned with proper disposal of the batteries, but I was also concerned about the environmental footprint they’d leave behind.

I’ve tried rechargeable batteries in the past, but they just don’t last as long nor pack the same power punch as traditional batteries.  So, when I heard about Fuji’s new Enviromax batteries that are branded as environmentally friendly, I thought they were worth a try.

Compared to conventional batteries, they work just as well and last just as long.  I asked about the composition to understand just how environmentally-friendly these batteries are.  I learned from Fuji that they’re comprised of “iron, nickel, zinc, electrolyte-manganese dioxide, bronze and paper. Unlike most batteries, they do not contain lithium.”

Features:

  • mercury-free
  • cadmium-free
  • PVC-free

My step-dad has worked with battery recycling for close to 24 years.  I asked him what he thought about these new environmentally-friendly batteries from Fuji, and this is what he said,

Iron-nickel batteries are a very old technology (over 100 years).  Nothing ground breaking here, but maybe there will be a new appreciation for them given the relative environmental friendliness of the materials in them.  The batteries are relatively heavy, expensive to make, and have poor charge retention.

I love that Fuji is taking the lead on green batteries, even if it is re-marketing old technology, and I hope other manufacturers will follow suit.  Meanwhile, if your holiday gifts are running low on battery juice, the Enviromax batteries by Fuji are a great way to re-charge while being kind to the earth.  When a 2-pack of Cs or 4-pack of AA’s run $5.99 they’re comparable to conventional batteries in cost as well as power, at least in my experience.

WIN IT!

One (1) winner will receive a 2-pack of Fuji Enviromax batteries in size C (retail value $5.99) and 4-pack in size AA (retail value $5.99).

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to February 14th at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

Extra Credit

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide or this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Tweet (include @drdolly) about this giveaways or the Valentine’s Day gift guide, then leave a second comment telling me that you did with a link.

FOR A FOURTH ENTRY: Enter another contest on the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, and leave a comment telling me which one you entered.

*I received a product samples of Fuji Enviromax AA and C batteries for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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*UPDATE* Congrats to #19 LauraB!

For the Kids: Musical Valentine Fun

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  From now until February 14th, you’ll find great Valentine’s gift ideas for the whole family.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?

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Are you interested in wild and raucous sing-along fun with imaginative creatures and quantum physics for preschoolers?  Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s punky-folksy-bluesy-rockintainment album Rise and Shine is educational and creative for the kinda kid that wants to rock out at playtime.  Oh, and parents, you may find yourself singing along with these catchy tunes, too.

I Had a Little Dog describes a house full of pets that acted and sounded atypically from a gluttonous cat that acted like a pig to a swimming donkey that acted like a fish, this is visually-rich and entertaining song.

The quantum physics reference is in the fast-to-faster The Rattling Can song that describes how objects enclose others down to the quantum physics level–even if it’s just a vocabulary lesson with some fun references to sizes, it’s rip roarin’ fast and fun.

More than just a CD, it comes enclosed in a full color-illustrated board book for reading fun.

Dr. Dolly’s Favorite Track: #2 I Had a Little Dog

Calvin’s Favorite Track: #6 The Rattling Can

Note: If you play this album all the way through, your child may dance around the living room non-stop for all 11 tracks until he’s plumb exhausted and ready for a nap.

Get your own album plus board book for only $10.98 on Little Monster Records and Amazon.com.

WIN IT!

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Rise and Shine CD and illustrated board book (retail value $10.98).

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to February 14th at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide or this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Tweet (include @drdolly) about this giveaways or the Valentine’s Day gift guide, then leave a second comment telling me that you did with a link.

FOR A FOURTH ENTRY: Enter another contest on the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, and leave a comment telling me which one you entered.

*I received a product sample of Rise & Shine for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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*UPDATE* Congratulations to #7 Henria O!

Enduring a Flood

Very quick and brief interruption in the fun Valentine’s Day Gift Guide that’s currently in progress…

If you’ve been following my updates on Twitter/Facebook, then you may already know that we got a lot of rain on Sunday evening.  I mean, 2 inches isn’t a ton of rain, but considering we’ve already had the leftovers of 23+ inches of snow recently melt means there’s not a lot of other places left for rain to absorb into the ground or drains.

Add all that to the fact that we live in a basement apartment means that we woke up to completely soaked floors Monday morning.  The floor was sooo wet that a few of the blankets on our bed were draped over and touching the ground—acting like a sponge and absorbing the moisture leaving me with wet sheets and blankets.

Calvin woke up and when his feet touched the ground, he was completely weirded out.

“Mommy!  Floor messy.  Feet wet.”

Later, he stomped around the muddy indoor puddles while wearing his shoes over his pajamas.

My husband and I dealt with the mess by moving furniture around and doing a ridiculous number of loads of laundry. Not only did our sheets and blankets sop up water, but so did our dirty laundry hampers, rugs and mats.

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We’ve been juggling duties at work and dealing with this upheaval at home.  All the while, Calvin’s handled it with extraordinary resolve and resilience…I admire his adaptability!

He knows his room is off limits since his bed is covered with his soft toys and an industrial strength fan blows the carpet in roiling waves.  So, he just keeps to our room and pages through books on our bed or flips through them on the couch.  Those are the only two places in the entire home where he has the liberty to play.

More than half of our dining table and chairs are covered with stuff that needed to be kept off the wet flooring.  So, we’re down to one chair at the table where Calvin sits at meal times.  Meanwhile, I’ve been sitting on the hard plastic beverage cooler, and Steve cleared off room for 1 person to sit at the couch.

Home, sweet home.

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It’s truly by the grace of God that I’m not freaking out.  When things get absolutely ridiculous beyond belief, all one can do is completely roll with the punches.

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After spending a full day at the office on Monday, we came home where I wanted to relax.

But wait!  I had to make the bed that had been completely stripped and used as Calvin’s reading area throughout the day.

Note: It is extremely difficult to make a bed when 1) you have a freshly bathed child sitting on it who can’t go anywhere else without getting his feet soaked with muddy water and 2) you have no where to put the clean bedding while you’re in the process of putting different parts of it on the bed.

Making the bed is usually a task that doesn’t require much thought nor take much time…Monday night, it probably took me 30-45 minutes to figure it out and deal with a young child who made a bit of a mess on one of the freshly washed blankets.

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It’s Tuesday night and we still have the loud fans blasting and whirring beneath the carpets–dehumidifiers and heaters working to absorb the excess moisture.  We’re still down to 1 seat at the dining table, but the entire couch is cleared off where the three of us can fit.

Apparently, we’re hosting a group Bible study on Sunday afternoon as well as a week of visiting in-laws.  Yet somehow, I really won’t feel bad if we have to reschedule Bible study and post-pone receiving guests for a few more days.  It’s not exactly a hospitable and relaxing environment. I mean, it smells like the inside of a sweaty gym shoe in here.

But ya know what?  We’ve been through a similar indoor flooding experience before…about 8 years ago.  So, going through it a second time isn’t quite as unnerving, although still just as inconvenient.

On the bright side, 1) we’re all safe and healthy; 2) we have a warm and dry bed; 3) it isn’t the middle of summer where mosquitoes and mold multiply by the nanosecond and 4) our blessed son is handling all these changes so well that it’s really making things very easy on us.

Truly, God is good to us.

He’s blessed us with beautifully kind friends who’ve even offered to open up their homes to us.  I’m so grateful for their compassion and hospitality!

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For Her: Created to Be His Help Meet Book

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day Gift Guide on Traveling with Baby.  From now until February 14th, you’ll find great Valentine’s gift ideas for the whole family.  You’ll even have the opportunity to win some of the products featured on the Gift Guide–isn’t that lovely?

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Last fall, my sister gave me a copy of Debi Pearl’s incredible book on marriage–for women, Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover how God can make your marriage glorious.

I’m half-way through this book, and I started reading it a week ago.  It’s THE best book on marriage that I’ve read to date.  Since my husband and I said our vows 9 1/2 years ago, I’ve read several books on becoming a godly wife, an excellent wife, praying for my husband, etc.  Through them all, I’ve gleaned bits of wisdom that have helped me learn how to flex and grow into the wife and woman I was created to be.

Yet, Pearl’s Created to Be His Help Meet is by far the most piercing, eye-opening, revealing, and biblically-consistent book on marriage I have read.  I can’t wait to get this book into the hands of every married woman I know.

It’s serving as the basis for my personal Bible study time…I’m using it along with a Bible, and (just because I want to) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

If you need encouragement in your marriage or desire for your marriage to be as loving and strong as the day you first said “I do,” or if you know of a woman who does, this book is one of the most loving valentines you can find.  It’s available for $8.64 on Amazon.com.

*There are affiliate links contained within this post. Read my full disclosure policy.
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