Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #487

Happy Summer everyone.  I wasn't paying attention and lo and behold it came the same as it does every year.  And I for one am really glad.  This week was a real mixed bag with some great blessings and celebration to help offset the harder stuff.  And that's what FFF is all about...being able to find some good things even on the harder weeks when life seems to be coming at ya from every angle.

And just as a follow up, the comment moderation seems to be working so far.  I just have to figure out if I can email a reply if you are not in my email contacts so hopefully I will know that soon.  I just have to remember to actually publish the comment and not just delete it in my email after I read it.  So let's get to the fave five.

~celebrating Father's Day~  This year was kept real simple as my Dad was in the hospital.  And only one of my adult children was able to be here.   My hubby and wonderful father to our 3 great kids chose a family walk on one of his favorite trails, then he chose a Chinese food buffet at a new restaurant he's been wanting to try.  Then we came home and relaxed a bit.  The other two kids called later in the day and chatted with their Dad which he really loved.  When he had his Father's Day snooze I went up and saw my Dad with a card and a good cup of coffee as I knew he wasn't enjoying the hospital stuff too much and he's like me...we like our coffee.  It wasn't a huge or boisterous day like we've had in the past but it was a good one and we celebrated the two men who deserved to be celebrated.

~ celebrating 35 years of marriage ~  Monday my Hubby and I celebrated 35 years of marriage.  Wow I can't believe I typed that.  35 years of special moments, companionship, memories, laughter and tears, giving and forgiving and being there for each other.  Love my guy and always will.  Again we didn't do a whole lot.  It was a work day so we just had a lovely steak dinner out and enjoyed being with each other.

~celebrating milestone anniversary~  we also celebrated Hubby's sister and brother in law's 50th Anniversary!  What a milestone!  Their daughter threw them a lovely open house and many people came and congratulated and wished them many more.  It was nice to be included into their special moment.

~ simple home made salad dressing ~  made with equal amountsTuscan flavored olive oil and Lemon Balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper to taste.  So good on tossed salads and marinated salads or even just cut cherry tomatoes.  So simple, healthy and delicious.

~ fun tv series~  While scrolling thru the channels the other day I found a show that caught my interest and found out it was a 6 week series.  It's called "Back in Time for Dinner".  It's a Canadian show on CBC and the premise is they've taken a modern family of 5 and each week they take them back in time through each decade starting with the 1940's.  They live the way families did in that decade, wear the clothes, eat the food of the decade, take on the roles.  It is very interesting not just to find out what they ate at that time, but why and what was going on in society and how women's, men's and children's roles in the family were at that time in Canada.  It's also very interesting watching the kids (and adults) cope without all the technology  that so takes our time nowadays and all the fancy appliances we have now.  It has really opened my eyes and I must say just seeing 2 episodes I really feel like I understand my mom in law a whole lot better.  Even though she is now passed away I totally have a new appreciation for her.  My mom and dad did not move to Canada until 1956 so I'm sure I will relate and learn from the next episode which will be the 1960's.

~new cookie find~  I don't usually ever buy pre-packaged cookies.  I find them way too sweet and let's face it, they are full of not so good things.  But when I saw the Chips Ahoy Chunks Coconut and they were on for a good price I caved and bought one.  Oh my they were so good.  Dunked in coffee even better.

What were your favorite five blessings of the week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:
Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . . Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love. But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all. Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

My Thoughts:
Oh boy where do I begin.  I finished this book yesterday and my mind and heart are still mulling it over and dealing with all the emotions it evokes.  This story is so relevant to this day and age where so many families are devastated by the chaos that marital and family betrayal brings.  It dealt with some heavy duty topics:  adultery, marriage break up, loss of a child, suicide, guilt, worthiness, forgiveness.  The family in this story was facing some major issues.  Tragedy, that instead of drawing them closer, was driving them apart as they tried to cope.  There were some light moments, some heart breaking moments, some very, very difficult moments and yet the story was infused with hope.  I felt the reactions, emotions and struggles of the each of the characters was written very real.  I loved that the author didn't try to pretty up and skirt around the pain and not only showed the heartbreak and raw feelings of the parents but also of what the teenager and young adult child were going through.  I was the young adult  many years ago and this story resurfaced many, many feelings that I went through so I know they were written very honest and legitimate.  The characters and their reactions were very real and not perfect as they struggled to make sense of what happened and how to move forward and to face the grief that they had never really dealt with. I loved the symbolism of the broken down, seemingly dead green house and how that became a place of hope and looking beyond the obvious for Savannah.  In real life, I think the characters would have had to take much more time to work things through but for the sake of the story the timeline did move quickly.  (Otherwise you would end up with a very long tome).  There is some physical feelings  between husband and wife that are added for those who are sensitive to that in their reading material but I felt they were done tastefully and it is definitely part of what a couple experiencing this would go through.There is great questions in the back and this whole book would make for a great book club read, both Christian and non-believer, as there is so much that could be discussed.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for sending this book free of charge for my honest review.  All opinions and thoughts are my own and I am not required to give a positive review.

I gave this book a 9/10 rating but for BookLook Blogger purposes they rate out of 5 and don't have 1/2 point ratings so I bumped it to the 5 on their site because of it's honest portrayal.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Summer of Joy by Ann H. Gabhart

This is the 3rd installment in the Hollyhill series.   It continues to follow the story of Jocie Brooke and her family.  Jocie is now 14 and looking forward to finishing school and enjoying summer.  Everything is going great for everyone in the family...her Dad and his girlfriend Leigh are becoming closer, her sister is doing well and still living with them along with her adorable little baby.  They are all enjoying doting on him and the community seems to have accepted his chocolate colored skin in spite of last year's racist upheaval.  Everything is fine except for the turmoil that one of Jocie's teacher's is causing her.  He is new, stepping in for the regular English teacher on leave.  And according to Jocie, he is just plain mean and has it in for her.  But as the end of the school year approaches Jocie will have more on her plate to deal with than a frustrating teacher as a shocking appearance by the one person she never wanted to see happens and another stranger comes to town who could just ruin one of her most cherished relationships.

I enjoyed this wrap up to the coming of age story of Jocie Brooks and the people of Holyhill.  It was a satisfying ending to their storylines and their character arc and growth throughout the series was very interesting to me.  The author continued in the vein of good storytelling though there was one phrase that I thought was used way too much throughout the story and I found myself sighing everytime it was brought in.   I thought the author was very skillful in treating the storylines of a stalker, a teacher who was picking on a student, and small town community attitudes with the 1960's feel.  She really was able to convey the attitudes and approaches to those kinds of things from that era's viewpoint.  We would definitely not approach things that way today.  Though this was my least favorite of the 3 books it wrapped everything up nicely.

The other two books are reviewed here and here.

I gave this one an 8/10

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #486

Hi everyone!  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Please join in as we look back over the week and  look for blessings in our lives, things that made us smile, uplifted us, helped us to take another step.  They may be big or they may be small, they may have big impact or just be something that may have slipped by had you not paused to think about it.  Whatever they are they are helping us to cultivate a grateful attitude.

Of note, I have put my comments to being moderated in the hopes that I will know that people have commented.  Once Blogger gets it together and gets this thing figured out, then I'll put it back.  Unless of course this doesn't work and then we'll be back to square 1.  I have been checking the Blogger comments in my account once a day but I'd rather get the email.  And hopefully it will let me email back.  We shall see.

So this week has gotten away from me with interviewing families for work to fill some spots for the fall and my Dad's health issues.  So today's Fave Five is going to feature my five favorite flowers in my garden or flower pots this year.  I notice that they bring me a lot of joy.  The splashes of color and all the variety of shapes just make me happy.  I don't know the names of them all but maybe the pics will bring a smile to you too.

~ Nicotiana ~ otherwise known as Flowering Tobacco.   I tend to choose this lovely little plant quite often in my rotation through the years.  I just love them.  They usually come in a variety pack so you never know what number of what colors you will get but that's ok, I love them all.  They are beautiful in their simplicity with their trumpet like flowers clustered together on their stems.  This is my favorite color one this year, but they also come in red, a yellowy-white, and dark pink.

~ hostas~  I love me a lovely hosta.  They are so gorgeous, loving those shady spots where you just don't what to put.  I can get really carried away in the hosta section.  They come in so many varieties with lovely leaves of different shapes and sizes and variations of green, yellow and white.  This baby is doing quite well in the spot in the backyard that used to house the wooden garbage can bin that is no longer needed.  It is a hosta that has done well, due to one fact and one fact only... I've basically left this one alone!  I tend to rearrange my garden and so things don't grow so big, but because of how this beauty is doing I am learning to leave them be!  Look at the size of those leaves.  This hosta is about 4 years old now.

~ Verbena~ this is a staple I put in my deck pot every year.  This year I found this lovely "Candy Cane Stripe" variation.  So pretty.  Love how these flowers drape and hang.

~??~  I can't remember the name of these lovely, dainty little flowers at all.  I nab them whenever I see them for my pot on the deck because they are so delicate and lacy looking and they remind me of a little mini daisy which to me is a cheerful flower.  

~ wishbone flower ~ these delicate little things are new to me this year and I just love them.  I got the last pack of 4 left at the greenhouse, they were just sitting there looking lonely so I grabbed them and added this great green nesty thing into the middle.  I have no idea what it's name is.  It has these great curly cue things and is pretty unique.  Yes it's real and not plastic or wire though it looks and feels like it.  

So that is my favorite blessings, garden version.  What were your favorite blessings this week?

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #485

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Intentionally looking for the blessings of the past week is what we do.  Cultivating a grateful attitude and life is our goal.  Please join us.  If you are new to FFF, guidelines are linked in the sidebar.  Please read through them and then just join on in.

In no particular order here are 5 of my favorite blessings from the week:

~mama duck and all her littles~  On Sunday, hubby and I took a stroll around the lake.  As we were walking a mama duck and about 10 babies came swimming by.  If was so adorable.  The were all clumped together and turned as one following their mama as she kept them a safe distance from us.  Unfortunately no picture because I didn't take my phone on the walk.  Darn.  I gotta start taking that thing with me, even though I want to unplug and enjoy nature, just so I can get these awesome pictures.

~golden bleeding heart replaced~ Last year, I really wanted a golden bleeding heart bush for my empty space in my shade garden.  I was gifted one, but I think they had it labeled wrong.  Golden bleeding hearts have very light yellowy green leaves on peach colored stems with light pink hearts. That's not what the one I was gifted looked like.   I planted it anyway but it didn't end up growing at all and then winter kill did it in this last winter.  So I headed to the garden store to try and see about replacing it.  They are a rare variety, imported from England, so I didn't have much hope.  But I found me one.  And it was more the color that I knew it should be.  It's planted and growing, so hopefully it will thrive.

~strawberry coconut refresher~ In the summer I have loved the lime refreshers from Starbucks but I don't get them often because of the sugar content.  This year they introduced a strawberry refresher made with coconut milk.  Some stores call it a Pink Drink.  Oh yum.  Still a bunch of sugar but a girl has to treat herself sometime! I have found a new summer favorite!

~visit from Jeremy~ Our son and his girlfriend made it down for a visit this weekend.  I had a really nice time catching up with them and spending some time with just me and his girl getting to know her better.  Anytime my kids make it home is always a favorite.  And in true Jeremy tradition, like the queen flying the flag when she's in residence, Jeremy also let's us know when he is in residence by mixing up my photos in some way.  I never quite know what combination I will get.  This time it was a new one I hadn't seen before.  And what's funny is it always takes me a day or two to notice.  I oughta know better.  Ha.

Jeremy in residence

How it's supposed to look

~my hero, the wasp hole filler~ Some nasty wasps decided they were going to start building a nest under our back door where the cement was starting to deteriorate.  And these weren't little guys, they were huge wasps.  The kind that require pilot's licenses due to size.  I am scared of them to begin with but have learned to somewhat control that fear around the kids.  But when they are holding me hostage at my back door, I call on the Hubby.  He cemented it up in no time and give a couple days when those nasty things get the hint and quite hovering around the door frame, I can again use my back door without being buzzed.  My SuperHero is very much appreciated!

What were your favorite things fro the last week?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

A Time To Stand by Robert Whitlow ~ Book Review

Adisa Johnson is an up and coming attorney at a huge law firm in Atlanta working in the corporate take over division.  She thrives on finding traps in multi-million dollar business mergers and purchases and putting together major corporate deals.  But when her aunt, who raised her and her sister, has a stroke and will need some help, Adisa heads home to small town Campbellton.  When she arrives she finds her home town embroiled in a huge controversial case that is pulling her town apart.  A white police officer has shot a popular and athletic black high school student.  The youth's life is hanging in the balance as all wait to see if the youth will survive and the officer will be charged.  He claims he had justifiable reason and that he heard a gun shot before he discharged his own weapon, that he is not a racist.  But the black community is not buying it and claims that he used his weapon simply because the youth was black.  Embroiled in the escalating controversy is a prominent black pastor who leads a very large church in the community.  When she comes to town, the pastor assumes which side she will take and wants her help in whatever way she can to prosecute the police officer to the full extent of the law.  Pulling her in the other direction is her old mentor who wants her to defend the officer.  Just when she has made up her mind and wants to get into the fray by helping prosecute, the young black youth's grandmother does something totally unexpected and Adisa finds herself challenged to look at the case with new eyes and with the town becoming more and more divided she finds herself being drawn to do the unthinkable at great cost to herself.

I really enjoyed this very timely story.  It drew me right in and made me think of these issues from other angles other than what might seem obvious.  It challenges perceptions about assumptions, consequences, justice, forgiveness and solutions to the seemingly insurmountable and unsolvable issues of race and profiling and policing.  I loved the character of Adisa who was a strong black woman but also felt the affects of racism in her life but was open enough to have her own perceptions and assumptions challenged.  I loved her bravery in doing what she thought she was being called to do.  With the lines drawn in the sand for the townspeople, I found the aspect of the story which had both sides believing God for victory very interesting, because that is what happens with life.   The story drew me to see how the author would handle that dilemma of which prayer God would answer and how.  Though once in awhile, I found some of the conversations a bit stilted I really enjoyed this book because of how it opened up my own thinking and would be excellent, I think, for a book club to discuss.

I gave it a 9/10.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #484

Hello and welcome to Friday's Fave Five.   I cannot believe it is June the 1st.  This month has just flown by.  It's a good thing this FFF exercise forces me to take a pause and take note of good things or else they would just escape me.  Please join me in sharing five of them.

~short but sweet visit with a friend~ I had been thinking of my friend who I haven't seen in a long while even though we live in the same city and lo and behold she texted me to set a date for a coffee and visit.  It was so nice seeing her again.  We have one of those precious friendships where we just pick up as if we are together all the time and we can be ourselves with no pretense.   How I miss get together more often.  We left with promises of setting dates that are not so few and far between .

~ flowers all planted ~ this year I have been so unmotivated with the whole outdoor flower thing.  I got my deck planter done as I mentioned in last week's FFF but the rest just wasn't happening.  But one evening this week I determined to get it done and I went and bought some flowers and got them put in.  Now I'm so glad it's done and wonder why I wasn't motivated.  Silly how that is.

~ very much needed rain ~ yesterday it started to rain and it is continuing today.  Though it made it much colder out, the rain was so needed.  And it's a nice rainfall that is getting absorbed which our area is desperate for.  It has been so dry that they've already had a fire ban in the river valley.  Which is totally bizarre because we had a crazy winter which saw record snow.  But it melted so fast that a lot was run off and didn't get absorbed and we basically skipped spring around here and have jumped straight from winter into summer weather.  So yes, rain away!

~ fresh cut lawn ~  My hubby is so faithful to keep our grass mowed on a regular basis.  I just love when he does it.  The fresh cut grass smell is so wonderful, and it's so nice for the kids to play in a nicely cut lawn.

~ lilacs ~ The lilacs have been blooming like crazy around here and you can smell it when you are outside.  So beautiful.  Of course a nice vase full on the table is lovely too, though daughter and I both found the smell of them a bit too strong this year for some reason.  Nevertheless we stuck it out cause they are gorgeous!

What have been your favorite blessings from this past week?