Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #435

Welcome to the first FFF of summer 2017.  Did I just write that?  Wow the first 6 months of this year have just flown by!  All the more reason to pause and remember the blessings of the week lest they pass right on by unnoticed.  Please join in.  For first timers the guidelines link is in the sidebar.

1.  Celebrations.  This year our anniversary and Father's day coincided so we went out for a lovely steak dinner on Friday night to celebrate our anniversary saving Sunday to do Father's day.  I can't believe it's already been 34 years but I talked about that last week already.  :)  Sunday we celebrated the Dads with my side of the family going to another restaurant of my dad's choice.  My out of town kids gave their Dad a nice phone call and then later Hubby and I just relaxed together and took a nice walk to Starbucks.  It was a wonderful day all around and I'm very thankful both for hubby as a husband and father and for the other Dads in the family.  

2.  Hot sprinkler day weather.  It's been hot enough for most of the week to turn on the sprinkler and let the kids have some water fun.  Our favorite day was when I just sprayed them with the hose as they ran around screaming and hiding and laughing.  So much fun.

3.  Coconut Curry Chicken.  Over the last year or so I've really developed a liking for Indian food.  Friends of our introduced it to us via local restaurants and the odd taste of something here and there.   I find it wonderfully fragrant and spicily delicious.  Costco has carried this brand of butter chicken cooking sauce for awhile.  I've been using it awhile  because I love the flavors of butter chicken and I thought it would be nice to make a quick meal adding cooked chicken and rice and veggies.  When I went to pick it up last shopping trip I noticed they now had a coconut curry sauce.  So I grabbed that one too (though they don't as of this date have it on their website yet).  Oh my goodness, it was delicious and didn't taste like a jarred item at all.  It was spicy, though it only rated the heat at 3/5, but a really good spicy.  Every one really loved it so it's going to definitely be a go to on the meal plans when I need something quick.   It's nice to have something other than spaghetti sauces to make a quick meal on those busy work days when I don't have time to cook something that takes a long time.  

4.  Study wrap up and resources.  I combined this fave because they kind of go together.  First, Tuesday was my small group's last official study night before summer break.  The last few months we have been studying the book of Jonah using the Right Now Media study resources.  It has been such a great study.  Who knew that there was so much to learn from the book of Jonah?  Not me before this study.  The insight from the lessons was so good and the discussion the questions initiated so rich.  I love that my group participates so well.   And I'm thankful for this resource that adds so much to our studies.  We've now done two of them and I'm looking forward to starting yet another in the fall.  

5.  Clutter clear out.   Hubby and I tackled one of our dresser drawers.  It has been a drawer that has driven me crazy for years and we finally got to it.  And just determined to do a quick sort, make quick decisions on stay or go.  Hubby said looking at it was overwhelming and that's why it's been ignored for so long but once we got rolling it was actually easy and we got rid of a good 1/3 of the stuff clogging it up.   I let go of another 3 pairs of shoes that I finally realized I don't really wear because I either don't like them or they aren't comfortable.  If you know me and shoes you'll know that is a big deal especially in light of all the ones I let go a few months ago too.  Why is decluttering so hard to get too yet feels so good when it's done?

What were your favorite blessings from the last week?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin

I am having a hard time doing a small recap on what this story is about.  There was so much depth to this story that it is hard being brief and not giving things away.  As all of this author's stories, it has many layers.   It is about searching for the truth and where one belongs, it's about secrets and lies and truth rising to the surface, abuse, compassion on the lost and hurting no matter where they've been,  it's about brokenness, forgiveness and redemption, it's about life and death and loss and finding one's self, it's about what you do with the life and circumstances you've been dealt and ultimately it is a story of placing value on people no matter where they've been.

The main characters lives are interwoven through the contemporary story line and through a previous history story line of one of the characters.  Chase Walker is a reporter who grew up never knowing his family but raised in a loving foster home where he was eventually adopted.  But the drive to know who his father was and the truth about his abandonment has driven him his whole life, even to the choosing of his profession which he figured give him access to information to help him find answers.  Willie, or "Unc", as he's referred to by Chase, is a man who is compassionate towards children who have had a hard life.  He too has had a hard past with loss and betrayal but it has only made him more of a loving person, even as the town and members of his own family look down on him.  The other main character is a small boy who has suffered horrific abuse.  He is unable to talk but can draw with great skill in order to communicate.  They nickname him Sketch no one, not even the boy himself seems to know his real name.  As Chase and Willie try to unravel the mystery that Sketch is and where he has come from and to whom he belongs, they must both confront their own issues of brokenness, abandonment and pain.

I'll not lie, the prologue and some parts of the story that involved the young boy were absolutely heartbreaking and not easy to read.  Nor was the story line of a secondary female character who is a longtime friend of Chase and niece of Willie.  Her story line is also a painful one.  But the story is one of redemption and of love standing strong in the face of the worst of what life throws at some people.  All the characters are well written and relatable but Willie especially was wonderful.  His southern sayings bought a levity to the story that brought smiles even in the midst of their truth.  As always Charles Martin's words and story telling ability drew me right in.  His phrasing and pacing were right on target and every emotion was drawn out of me, the reader.  This story was sad yet beautiful and filled with hope.

I gave it a 9/10

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #434

Welcome everyone to Friday's Fave Five.  It's been a bit of a panic to get this post up as for some reason the Blogger site would not load onto my computer for a really long time.  But now it seems to working so I'm trying to get it done before anything else can happen.  Thanks for joining in with me on this weekly exercise of stretching our thankful muscles by looking for the good things in our lives from the week.

1.  Snacks.  I'm always happy when I find fairly healthy fun foods to snack on that don't taste like cardboard.  My daughter introduced me to these sweet potato crackers she found at Costco and I have to say I'm hooked ... they are delicious.  She also introduced me to this fresh salsa found in the cooler section  that I've gotten really hooked on.  Pair the two together and voila!  Susanne's new favorite snack food!  And I am going to try those beet crackers next!  Keeping my fingers crossed that they are good too.

2.  Surprise lunch.  Yesterday my Sweetie surprised me with lunch from a favorite Thai Fusion place with a bento box lunch.   There is so much food in one of these things that it fed me lunch and supper out of it.  It was a sweet surprise from him and made my day.

3.  Father's Day crafting with the dayhome kids.  They get so excited to make something for their parent and giving it to them.   Sometimes though, Father's Day crafts are a bit stressful as they are usually not so easy as Mother's Day but this year I found a couple that the various ages involved in a dayhome could all do.  Thanks again, Pinterest!

4.  Book Find.  One of my favorite books, The Mountain Between Us (by Charles Martin) , is being turned into a movie and coming to theatres in the fall.  I am so excited and can hardly wait for it.  I was telling my oldest, who is a reader, about it.  She knows it's one of my favorite authors and she was surprised at the the big name stars heading it up.  Not even an hour after our conversation I found the book at the Value Village second hand store.  I couldn't believe it.  I have never ever seen this author's books in any used book store that I have looked in.  And it was hard cover to boot!  Score!  She's excited she'll now have it to read this summer.

And just in case you're interested, here's the trailer:

It's looking really good but I hope they do the book and it's story justice and don't go changing a bunch of stuff.

5.  The weekend is here.  I am so happy the weekend has arrived.  It's been a busy week with the funeral prep, a doubled up bible study to study and lead, Father's day activities amongst other things that I am very ready for this weekend.  It's not only Father's Day but my most wonderful hubby's and my 34th wedding anniversary.  We're going out for dinner tonight at a favorite steak place to celebrate and I'm looking forward to it with him.  I can't believe it's been 34 years already.  It's hard to wrap my head around it.  And I wouldn't change our life together for anything.
What were you're favorites from the week? 

Friday, June 09, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #433

Hi everyone.  Welcome to another Friday of setting our focus and looking for things to be thankful for.  Please join with us if you haven't already.

1.  quote on gratitude...this from Max Lucado's fb page and his new book

Along with FFF I love these kinds of little reminders and definitions of gratitude and what cultivating it in our lives does.  Makes me mindful and intentional.  And it's true, gratitude does make you look at the good things in our lives rather than placing our focus onto everything negative.

2.  First butterflies of the year spotted.  As the kids and I were outside playing this week we spotted at least 3 different kinds of butterflies within a couple of hours.  The small, fluttery white cabbage butterflies, some beige-y peachy colored ones and our swallowtail is back.  The lovely swallowtail didn't land so that I could take a picture but here's one from a couple years back.

3.  Movie date with hubby.   Saturday afternoon my favorite guy and I went to the movies to see the last installment of Pirates of the Caribbean.   Hubby loves the 3D and there was a showing in the afternoon in that format so off we went.  We like going in the afternoon as opposed to the evenings because it is not as crowded.  I must say both of us really enjoyed the show.  We were going with a bit of trepidation because the Pirates franchise has been hit and miss for us.  We loved the 1st, really disliked the 2nd and 3rd, liked the 4th.  I thought it was a nice wrap up.  And sheesh, I even shed a few tears.  Who would have thunk.

4.   Gift of spaghetti squash.  An old friend whom I haven't seen for many, many years out of the blue private messaged me on facebook and asked if I wanted spaghetti squash.  They were given way more than they could eat and she remembered from eons ago, I'm talking about 30 years, that we had first tasted spaghetti squash at their house and loved it.  When I arrived she gave me 4 big squash.  But what made this most special was the fact that she remembered that.  Gave me the warm fuzzies, it did.

5.  God's grace extended in the midst of tragedy.  There was a very sad tragic death in our church body this week.  And in the midst of the pain, what is a blessing is to see the congregation gather around the family in support and love, being there for them in whatever way they can even though they do not know most of them.

What were your favorite blessings and what are you thankful for this week?

Monday, June 05, 2017

We grow them tough and fearless here in Alberta!

Photo CreditPhoto from Mail Online

These pictures were taken when a tornado touched down in Threehills, Alberta this weekend.  The wife was taking a pic of the tornado to send to her family in South Africa and caught her husband casually mowing the lawn.   But before you all think we're nuts around here, in all fairness, they did say the tornado was farther away than it looks in the picture and moving away.

Photo from Central Alberta EMS facebook page

"Great Picture taken today by Paramedic Thijs Vogelzang while staging in Threehills for a possible disaster response!"


Friday, June 02, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #432

Oops forgot to auto post, so sorry everyone for the lateness!

"Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy...
But watch out!  Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!
And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren!
Deuteronomy 4:5,9 NLT

This scripture above is pretty much why I started and continue on with Friday's Fave Five.  Memories are such a powerful thing in life, and I want to have good memories of the blessings that surround me on a daily basis.  Especially for those times that are tougher, so that I can have something to draw on to get me through.  When I write down the good things in my life, it's so much easier for me to remember.  Please join in with us as we list our five favorite blessings from the week.

1.  Weekend bike rides.  Saturday was absolutely gorgeous so hubby loaded up the bikes and we went on a 2 1/2 hour bike ride on the lovely trails around the west side of the city.  It was so good getting out on the bikes enjoying the fresh air.  We toodled around a couple of new sections and checked them out, had a coffee at Starbucks and later a lunch at Freshii.   We really enjoy getting out on the bikes and I'm looking forward to a great summer of biking, maybe even taking our bikes to other cities or parks to ride.

2.  Gifted Tomato plants.  A friend of ours again gifted us with 7 tomato plants!  I get so excited when this happens because there is nothing like a homegrown tomato.  The store bought just doesn't compare.  So I planted two into planters for the deck so that I can have easy access to it and the other five I put into my mom's garden.  My mouth waters already at the thought of all those lovely, delicious tomatoes!  So grateful this sweet senior gifts me with these plants.

3.  Grilling.  With the nice weather, we've been grilling a lot more.  So far burgers, smokies and steaks have made their way to our plates from the grill.  And the steaks turned out perfect!  Usually I'm pretty nervous with those as I find it hard to get them right and it takes a few times at the beginning of each season for me to get in the groove, but by some miracle it happened first time out this time.  I hope I can continue the momentum of that.  Ha!  I want to try salmon this year so if any of you have tips or recipes for that let me know!

4.  Referrals.  In my business, this is absolute gold.  I've know I'll be having to fill a spot for September and was waiting for June to start advertising and the very day I was going to do that I get a call from a lady who had 3 different people mention my name to her.  Those interviews usually go so much easier as the family already has a good impression before they even come to check me out.  I'm so very grateful to my parents who appreciate what I do and give my name to friends and people they know looking for care.

5.  Sweet gifts from my dayhome families.  This last week a sweet Grandma of one of the kids gifted me with a plant I had been wanting to get my hands on.  She works at the garden center and was keeping her eye out for me.  When they came she bought it and then gifted it to me, not letting me pay her.  These little gifts of appreciation make my heart melt.  So grateful for those!

Well those were my 5 favorites though there was lots more to be thankful for this week.  What about you?  Was it a week where it was easy to find 5 or more of a careful digging for, and inspecting of days to find them?  Either way, developing a thankful attitude is a key to happiness, living a grateful life and making it through the tough times.  So glad you joined in with me!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What an insane kind of month it has been. So much has come up and needless to say the blogging has kind of gone by the wayside. But now that I finally have some breathing space I did want to take some time to do a little post and have discussion about something that I've been thinking about lately. It just seems that in the past while I have been coming across little quotes, things friends say, topics of at bible study, or bits of sermons at church that has really got me mulling over the kinds of things I read and watch. I'm the first to admit that I have sometimes let my guard down in this area. It's so easy to do. At the end of the day, when I'm tired and just want to veg it's so easy to be scrolling around the tv menu and there are all sorts of shows and movies to choose from. I tend to use it as an escape, and while I don't get into any "R" rated kinds of stuff, in all honesty, some of those choices on regular tv leave me feeling dragged down with all the violence, sexual innuendo, swearing, etc . Not to mention that when the kids were growing up it was hard to find good shows to watch as a family. We usually ended up watching stuff from way back when I was a kid.

 I don't know if any one has noticed but in the last year, there seems have been a whole lot of faith-based and inspirational shows hitting the major movie theaters. Shows such as Risen, Miracles From Heaven, God's Not Dead 2 and most recently The Song and The Shack just to name a few, have all been shows that I attended.

 This has absolutely thrilled me. While I do enjoy a good blockbuster, I also realize that within in them is pure fantasy and a fantasy based way of handling situations. Totally unrealistic and impossible to implement to real life. And that is why I also really love  to balance that with movies and shows that take real life kinds of characters that are believers and put them into situations that they may never have thought they would be in, situations that really test their faith and core values. Kind of like real life. And what I especially love about inspirational and faith based shows is watching how they use their faith and values to walk through the situation in a realistic way. That always speaks to me. I draw encouragement from finding that in both books and movies. Even though characters may struggle or be confused these kinds of shows and books always leave me with a sense that God is in control. The messages are wholesome, encouraging, and offer hope and sometimes I learn a thing or two. I can walk away feeling uplifted. And when the kids were younger I always loved using inspirational movies like these to use as starting points for discussions with them. I think that made it so much easier to talk to them about certain issues that maybe weren’t easy to bring up otherwise.

 Usually on tv there hasn't been much options in finding faith based movies or tv programming. Yes, here in my area, there are inspirational and faith based channels but a lot of it is biblical teaching programming and not movies and shows. In times past I was happy that my library carried a lot of these kinds of movies and I rented them often. But they always had to be back within a week and I had to take the time to get them and then return them. I was thrilled to find that there is now a movie resource on the internet called Pure Flix that fills this void. Right at my fingertips. And they are available 24/7. How great is that?

 If you're interested in uplifting stories, family friendly shows, or faith based movies then go ahead and check them out!

The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler ~ Book Review

A young woman named Lily Azerov is coming to Canada from a war torn Europe. Her finance, a man whom she has only communicated with through letters, is to pick her up at the Montreal train station. But when Sol lays eyes on Lily, he turns and leaves. His brother Nathan, sees Lily and has compassion on her and decides right then to marry her. As they try to build a life together, Sol starts to regret letting her go. But Lily has some secrets she has brought with her and she finds fitting into the family difficult. Even after she has a baby, she can't quite shake the depression and guilt that has hounded her so she decides to leave without telling anyone.

 As Lily and Nathan's daughter, Ruth, grows she has many questions about the mother she doesn't remember. The only clues she has are a diary and an uncut diamond. But no one seems to have any answers, not even her Dad who has never spoken a negative word against Lily. But as she starts to dig and connect some dots she finds that life intertwines families in more ways than can be seen just from the surface.

 This book was not what I expected but it was a really good read. It was written by a Canadian author, which I didn't know when I picked it up. It was most enjoyable to me because of all the mentions of Canadian cities and places. It even mentioned the river that runs through my city. I also enjoyed the references to the cutting of diamonds and the subtle comparisons of that to life. It's a tale of survival, of starting anew, of how hidden secrets change the direction of lives other than the secret keeper's, of the desire and need to know one's roots, of the ties of family.

 The mystery of Lily is embedded in World War II and moves itself into the Jewish community of Montreal, Canada. It offers the reader the hope that out of devastation, one can still have love and family. It is not a fast paced read but more of a study of character and the events that shape us into who we are.  I gave it a 8.5/10