Friday, December 02, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #408

Welcome to the first Friday's Fave Five of December.  Did I really just type that?  My goodness I can't believe the last month of the year is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner.  With all the parties and festivities and extra chores and to do lists that characterize this month, it's an especially good time for me to purposefully push the pause button and reflect on the blessings of the week.  Won't you join me and share 5 of them?

1. Cheesy Christmas movies.  Bring them on.  I don't know why I like them so much.  I don't watch movies like that any other time of year, but a couple times a week during the Christmas season, I just really like them.  

2.  Christmas music.  Having Christmas music playing and in the background as the kids I play is really nice.  And it's been fun doing a little singing with them.  Love the Christmas music.

3.  Hot Cocoa and Cream candle.  Oh my goodness, it smells so delicious.  I grabbed it on a whim when it was on sale at Bath and Body because they didn't have another favorite:  Sugar Cinnamon Doughnut.   And I'm really, really liking it!

4.  And speaking of Bath and Body Works...their sales!  From the candles that were only $13 to Signature Collections on for 6 for $30 plus an extra $10 off when I spent $30 I was able to get stocking stuffers and gifts for friends and the Ladies Study Christmas Party at wonderful prices.  I love to give and this makes it super affordable.

5.  Grabbing moments to rejuvenate.  So I don't get too stressed I've been trying to be in the moment more and enjoy what is going on around me instead of stressing through it thinking about everything that needs to be done.   What gets done will get done and what doesn't, c'est la vie.  I've also tried to just make sure I take moments of down time, even if it's it only a few minutes, as the opportunities present themselves.  

What are your favorite blessings from the week?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Taken by Dee Henderson ~ Book Review

Matthew Dane, a former cop, is now a private investigator.  When he attends a conference, he finds a young woman outside his hotel door looking for help.  Shannon Bliss has purposely sought out Matthew's aid.  Shannon was kidnapped at age 16, and now 11 years later, after carefully planning for years she has found a way to escape the life forced upon her but she needs Matthew's experience.  Matthew's daughter was also kidnapped, at age 8 and was found years later, so he knows the ins and outs of helping a victim to ease back into a normal life and to regain a sense of themselves.  But Shannon is determined to do it at her own pace and will only release information as she is ready which means her life could once again be in danger.  She has enough information that could put away some people for a very long time but the information also requires that they find hidden evidence.  Matthew needs to hold back his natural inclinations to solve the kidnapping at a fast a pace as possible and let Shannon feel comfortable in revealing everything that has happened to her.  But her re-entry into society is made more complicated because her brother, who has never stopped looking for her, is also running for governor and is only a few months from election.  Could her reappearance ruin his chances at his dream?  And could all the information that gets revealed also implicate people she thought loved her?

Dee Henderson is always an author I know I can go to for a very good story with flawed characters who never the less try to walk out their faith even in the midst of the criminal circumstances surrounding them.  Taken was a bit different for me.  Rather than an edge of your seat crime drama where one wonders whodunit, it more explored the victim trying to bring their life back to normal and all that would involve.  But because of the description on the back cover I was expecting the fast paced crime drama where I kept waiting for something big to happen and it never materialized.   Instead it was a very honest look at what crimes like this might leave the victim to deal with even when they are "rescued". It didn't make the read bad, just not what I was expecting.  I really liked the strength of Shannon's character in hanging on to her faith even in the midst of years of disappearance and how determined she was not to lose that in her life no matter what was happening.  There is a very good discussion between her and Matthew in the story concerning evil and free will that felt woven in very well and not at all just stuck in there.  It would make a great discussion point if the book was read in a book club.  

I gave the book an 8/10

Fridays' Fave Five #407

Hi everyone!  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  I'd like to wish all my American friends a very happy Thanksgiving weekend.  I know most of you have feasted yesterday and are now possibly  in the throes of Black Friday shopping or in the very least recovering from food coma.  But seeing it is Thanksgiving we will join together and find our blessings and be thankful!  Please join us!

1.  Celebrating my hubby.  It was birthday time for Hubby this week so Sunday we took him for a yummy dinner of his choice which was Tony Roma's for some melt in your mouth ribs and steak.  Then we just let him do whatever he wanted for the afternoon.  The kids from out of town called him on his actual day and sent cards and gifts.  It was really nice to honor the good man who leads our little family.

2.  Good laughs with friends.  I'm very thankful to have a couple of friends who I can really have some good laughs with.  I so appreciate that.  Sometimes life is so hard and serious that to just spend a half hour with these friends and just be able to let loose with some good laughter is good for the soul and a real stress release.  Very thankful for friends like that.

3.  Good discussions.  We've been having some really good discussions at our ladies study.  My group is a wonderful bunch of ladies who come from all sorts of walks of life, are at all sorts of stages of life, and different levels of Christian maturity.  Add to that that they are all willing to participate and share their ideas and thoughts because we feel safe with each other and some really good discussion always happens.  I really like this.  It grows me as a study leader and it's lots of fun and I learn lots from these amazing ladies.

4.  Candle scents.  Bath and Body had a great sale on their candles yesterday so I splurged on a couple.  There were so many great new scents but I came home with Fresh Balsalm, my hubby's choice, and Hot Cocoa and Cream which was my choice.

5.  Cooking accomplishment by my two who don't live at home.  My oldest girl made her favorite Hungarian dish all by herself this week, Paprikash Chicken and Nokedli (tiny dumplings).  It's the first times she's given it a try and from all reports it was quite successful.  And my son made cabbage rolls for him and his roommates.   And again reports were it was delicious.  So proud of them for trying to cook well for themselves.  I just wish I could have tried the dishes for myself.  Maybe I can talk them into cooking while they are here for holidays?!

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #406

Hi to a late start today.  I'll put up the linky and join you later in listing my fave fives!

My goodness, this has been quite the couple of days.  But back to normal now, at least for awhile, I hope.

Welcome to Fave Fives...a little reminder and discipline to pause in our busy lives and intentionally look for good things no matter what we are going through.  As we make the discipline a habit it becomes easier even in the hardest of weeks to find some blessings.  Please join us.

1.  Pizza.  Oh how I love this wonderful invention of food.  Hubby took me on a date to the original pizza restaurant in town here.  They opened when I was a kid and they are still around.  They are more expensive...none of this 2 for 1 stuff but they are so good with really good, quality ingredients so it's a special treat to go there.

2.   Caramel Creme Brulee Lattes and other Christmas drinks are back at Starbucks.  The Creme Brulee Lattes are my favorite of the year.  Since cutting way back on my sugar intake however they have become an extra special treat only enjoyed a couple of times in the season and always 1/2 or 1/4 sweet which is still plenty.

3.  Operation Christmas Child boxes packed and delivered.  I was a procrastinator this year and didn't pack mine until the last minute but it was still fun to put them together.  Sunday was our collection Sunday and it was so nice to see the back of vehicle packed up with those red and green boxes knowing that children were going to blessed and find a little joy in the midst of their very difficult circumstances of life.  Delivering them to the collection centre is always a blessing and makes me happy.

4.  The extra long weekend of last week.  I wish they would always tag Rememberance Day onto a weekend.  It was so nice to have that extra day not floating in the middle of a week but making three days together to get caught up, though I must say I was super lazy and mostly got caught up on reading and drinking coffee.  Ha.

5.  Texts from my grown kids.  Now that two of the three have definitely flown the coop getting unsolicited texts from them makes my day.  I love the gift of texting that technology has's makes keeping in touch so easy.  Of course I love even more when they phone but for the everyday the texting is definitely a blessing.

What were your favorite blessings from the week?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows ~ Book Review

Not sure how this happened but I finished this book way back at the beginning of October and have just not got around to writing a review.  So this will be a less indepth look at the story as well as I can remember my thoughts on it but I like to remember the gist of how I felt about a book on record for myself.

This book is written by Annie Barrows who co-authored The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I enjoyed.  The story is set in 1938, a time period which has drawn me as of late, and in small town West Virginia.  Layla Beck is the daughter of a senator who refuses to bend to her father's wishes in choice of marriage partner so her father forces her to take a job that her uncle finds for her.  She is given the job of writing the history of small town Macedonia for the Federal Writer's Project, which incidentally was a real government project of the 1930's that employed writers and attempted to preserve the stories of small town America.  Room and board is set up for her in one of the prominent families in town, the Romney's, who's father used to own and run the sock factory in town which was a major employer.

Jottie Romney is the strong female head of the family and in her 30's and unmarried is considered a spinster in town.  Under her charge is Willa, a precocious 12 year old who belongs to Felix, Jottie's divorced brother.  Since Felix is almost always out of town on business it falls to Jottie to raise Willa and they enjoy a close relationship with Felix moving in and out of their lives at intervals.  But the arrival of Layla, whom Willa doesn't trust or like, throws the family into chaos and both start to uncover some startling secrets that certain members of the family have long tried to hide.

I enjoyed this story and it's exploration of how personal and historical truths are sometimes changed so that they are more palatable to remember.  The Romney family had a strong history in the town and they identified strongly with that history but the history  was a bit fluid depending on who told it so was it considered accurate depending on who was doing the  telling?  As Layla starts to dig into the town's history which is also wrapped up in the history of the family she begins developing a relationship with Felix who is not exactly known for his loyalty.  But as the truths start slowly revealing themselves she finds more than she bargained for as Felix will do anything to keep certain things hidden.  The mystery of that kept the pages turning for me as did Willa's part in the whole thing.  She also is doing some digging of her own.  One had to feel for a little girl who's Mother was not around and her father was basically missing in action.  There were, however, lots of characters and stories to wrap one's head around and so the story definitely was not fast paced but more of a slow burn to get to the end.

I gave this story a 8.5/10

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #405

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada so we pause to take a moment to reflect and remember all those who have served and given their lives in the fight for freedom.  We also remember those veterans who are still alive and say "Thank You" for your service.

In that light, it is especially meaningful to look for my blessings and make my thankful list this week.

1.  Democracy.  In watching what unfolded in the U.S. this week, and in spite of it being an ugly battle to the presidency, I am thankful for democracy.  Even the very fact that we can publicly speak against whoever we don't agree with is something we should never take for granted.  Others are being killed or imprisoned for their voices in countries where harsh dictatorship prevails.  I hope my U.S. friends can now move forward and work together instead of continuing to tear down.  Cause people, I'm tired of politics dominating my facebook feed!  Bring back the cute puppies!  ;)

2.  Bike riding wearing capri pants and a tshirt.  Is it really November?  We have been enjoying  every warm moment we can eek out of this fall.  There have been some really gorgeous days this week.  Around here in fall to get that warm weather we usually put up with a lot of wind and chinook arches that block the sun in the fall but there have been some wonderful days such as last weekend where it was warm (21*C!!!  69.8*F  unbelieveable), sunny and no wind!  So take advantage of that we did and pulled the bikes out of storage and went for a glorious bike ride!  Now today is supposed to be 22*, so if there is no wind off on bikes we will go again!  Now before there is a bunch of climate change comments, never fear, the farmer's almanac apparently is predicting an especially cold winter for us, so it's coming.  But until then, outdoors fun here I come!

3.  Spontaneous chinese food dinner invite at good friends.  We have a set of dear friends who are career minded folks and are very busy.  But Saturday they spontaneously invited us for dinner for chinese takeout.  So we jumped on the chance for great company and very delicious food.  I love doing spontaneous things with friends.  Keeps one young.  Ha.  We had a lovely visit and they ordered enough food to feed an army, not even kidding, and it was some of the best chinese takeout we've ever had.

4. Extra sleep time.  Hence the late FFF.  Last weekend was Daylight Savings time where we turned our clocks back one hour.  Now at first glance, that sounds wonderful, an extra hour to sleep on that night.  Yay!  Except it didn't go that way.  After enjoying way too much of the good food mentioned above I was wide awake at 2:30 a.m.  And had to be up early for church so I couldn't sleep in.  Then I have been waking at 5 a.m. every morning because my body thinks it's 6 am and time to get up. It has been brutal!  I am exhausted so sleeping in this morning was especially nice.  Hopefully now my body is in rhythm with the darn clock.

5.  Learning to let go.  I am learning this in lots of different areas of my life, from the big to the small.  It has been easier in some areas than in others but all in all I'd say that releasing my tight grip on certain things has definitely been for the better.  Of course, in letting go I am also learning to lay it at God's feet and in that process learning that God cares about every aspect of my life.  And in leaving it with God I am learning to experience joy and peace even in the midst of hard situations whereas before I would have been running around in a tizzy like a chicken with it's head cut off, as my mom used to put it.  :)

What have been your favorite blessings this week?


Friday, November 04, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #404

Welcome to a gorgeous Friday Fave Five.  It is supposed to get to 19*C (66*F) today.  That is amazing for November!  Suffice it to say, we will be spending time outdoors today.  But meanwhile, while it is yet early, let's take a moment and look back over the past week and focus in on finding some blessings.

1.  A totally relaxed Sunday.  Though it's supposed to be a day of rest, most times I find Sundays to be busy.  Between getting ready for church, being at church (and extra running around if I am serving in some capacity that week), making lunch, and some kind of chores or grocery shopping it definitely has not been a day of rest for me.  But this last weekend I determined to get everything done by Saturday night.  I made a list and knocked it off one by one giving myself some reading and coffee time in between chores.  And Sunday was wonderful.  I was able to put on a movie for my mom after lunch and enjoy it, read and not have to worry about getting prepped for work Monday.  It was wonderful.  I'm going to try and have a repeat performance for this weekend.

2.  A nice cup of herb tea.  Now that it's a bit cooler and dark in the evenings, I am once again in the mood for tea.  So now instead of reaching for snacks in the evening, I'm instead brewing a nice cup of tea.  From Market Spice to Pina Colada to Chocolate Truffle Mint, I've had some pretty tasty cup fulls.  It's also helping to get hydration into me, something my massage lady is always telling me I need more of.  

3.  Christmas shopping started.  Another thing I'm trying to remove stress from is Christmas shopping.  I am determined that come December I am going to be much more relaxed so that I can actually live in the moment of the festivities of Christmas, focusing on the One whom it's all about.  I've been keeping my eyes out for deals and nabbing them when I see them.  I ordered the dayhome kids books on bookoutlet and got a great deal so they are done.  Hubby's birthday is this month and I got him what he wanted, well he ordered it online and I paid for it, LOL.  My sis's birthday present for the beginning of December has been bought months ago when I saw something I knew she'd like and a couple of the family's Christmas gifts are purchased.  I'm determined that once I have the items I am staying out of stores in order not to get caught up in the vortex of seeing something else and then doing the returns and exchanges craziness that sometimes I get caught up in.  

4.  Crockpot meals.  The crockpot has been seeing the light of day more at the house now that grilling season is starting to wind down.  Though we did grill some wonderful steaks on Sunday because the weather has been good this week, fall always speaks to me of those comforting foods such as soups and stews that simmer along all day making the house smell wonderful.  I love how you just throw it all into the pot and then leave it alone and you get a yummy, flavorful meal.  I've made chili, an all in one pork chop meal, and a couple of soups already and am looking forward to more cozy meals.  

5.  Avon peppermint vanilla bubble bath.  Not to bathe in but to clean with.  Yes, avon bubble baths make a wonderful cleaner for cupboards, floors, countertops and even the bathtub and shower.  It makes everything sparkle, especially granite countertops and this particular smell is nice and fresh.  I also like the apple one in the fall and the peach one in the summer.   And no, I do not sell Avon but I sure like the shiny results for little effort I get with it.

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Update to the Reading Challenge 2016 Running List

updated:  November 1, 2016

Well, this should have seen a nice little update at the 9 month mark, meaning the end of September, but that didn't happen.  So it is now the beginning of the 11th month...yikes.    

A reminder:  the challenge is to read all the books I buy in the year 2016 and as a bonus to read some from the ones that didn't get read going back to June of 2015.  I chose the 60 - 80% category to try and accomplish.  

Right now I am sitting at 58% of 2016's purchases being read but I want to be up closer to the top end of the goal by the end of the year.  As for going back to June 2015, the story is a little bleaker at this point dropping my score to  40%.  (I kinda went nuts with some really good sale books at my library and on bookoutlet last year apparently.)  This count includes the couple of books I didn't finish.  I'm just at a point in reading where if I'm not into it by a certain point I'm moving on.

So hopefully I can finish off the last couple of months here with a really good push especially on finishing the books purchased this year.

updated:  July 3, 2016

So as of July 3, 2106 I'm not doing quite as well as I had hoped with getting these
books knocked off the list and out of my closet.  
I chose the 60 - 80% category to accomplish.

There was this little thing happen with my daughter
called "Let's get married in a month"
that stole a good month and a half of reading time.
And then I hit a bit of a slump with two DNF books and
one that was started but just couldn't get into at the time...
I'll try that one again later.
And then the darn library got me with a chunker 
of a non-fiction I'm now trying to wrap up.
But next week I'm hoping to be right on track
and crossing a whole bunch more books off this list.
And I am now on a book buying ban
until I finish the ones I've bought so far this year!

I best get a move on!

Back at the beginning of January I decided this year I wanted to really read through the piles of books that I already own.  They are forever growing and I seriously need to make a concerted effort to knock the pile down.  In perusing different challenges on pinterest I finally decided on the Read the Books You Buy Challenge.  Perfect because it was to set a percentage goal on not only actually reading the books you purchase in 2016 but it allowed you to go back to June 2015.  

I decided I would just post a little update each month or so adding any new books I buy and also crossing off the ones I finish.  I'm hoping this helps me to stay motivated.  I'm trying hard not to drop by the adult section of the library too often as that always tends to throw out the window all my good intentions of trying to make the piles of books in my closet a little smaller.  I cannot resist bringing home more from the library and then my books take a back seat as there is a deadline on the library books.  But not this year.  Nope.  I'm determined!

Books purchased June 2015 - December 2015

Bathseba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt      (reviewed here)

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister     (reviewed here)

The Titanic Enigma by Tom West    (reviewed here)

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg     (reviewed here)

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen    (reviewed here)

Man Alive by Mary Kay Zuravleff   DNF - could not get past the language though I did try to continue twice.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan   (reviewed here)

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin 

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin   (reviewed here)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  started but just couldn't get into it...will give another try sometime later

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Chatharina Ingelman-Sundberg

 Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

 The Offering by Angela Hunt

 The Truth Teller by Angela Hunt

 The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

 The Aloha Reef Series (book 1, book 2, book 3, book 4)  by Colleen Coble

 One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

 Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty

 The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Books Purchased January 2016

-The Lake House by Kate Morton    reviewed here

-Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt    reviewed here

February and March 2016

No books purchased as it was all things wedding around here

Books Purchased in April 2016  (great sale at  50% off scratch and dent books making these books any where from under $2 to no more than $5) 

 Above All Things by Tanis Rideout     reviewed here

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant      DNF due to graphic content and too many liberties taken with the actual biblical story

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

The Promise by Beth Wiseman   (reviewed here)

Malice by Keigo Higashino

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

Books Purchased in May 2016  (I really need to stop now!  Yikes!)

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas    

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn    reviewed here

Books Purchased in June 2016

The Dog Who Saved Me by Susan Wilson

Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax    (review here)

Taken by Dee Henderson

Books Purchased in July 2016

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows    (reviewed here)

Books Purchased in August 2016

Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Books Purchased in September 2016

Books Purchased in October 2016

Books Purchased in November 2016

The Ringmaster's Wife  by Kristy Cambron

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner