Friday, July 22, 2016

Welcome everyone!  I am so glad it is Friday today, you have no idea.   And sorry this is late getting up.  But on to looking for blessings in our past week! 

1.  New flowers in planter.  With almost week long stint of daily thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches (and 1 warning) and the a few bouts or torrential rainfall, and I'm talking Noah's ark type walls of water pouring down, a few of my flowers in the planters did not survive.  But lucky me, everybody's clearing out whatever flowers they've got left over, because summer is almost half over!  I came away 3 really good sized plants and a couple of smaller ones for under $5.  Now that is my kind of deal and makes me super happy.

2.  Raining while the sun is shining.  I don't know why but this occurrence always makes me smile inside and finds me at the window watching it.  It's so peaceful to me and kinda reminds me that while life may be raining down some showers on me that there is sunshine somewhere in the midst of those troubles.  Sometimes the sun comes at a later time when the clouds are blown by but other times there is sun  in the midst of the rain.  It's sorta like a real live FFF happening metaphorically.  Ya like how I wove those two together?  :)

Yes that is rain in this picture not snow.  That is how big the drops were and the sun was glinting off of them in a magical kind of way.

3.  New suitcase.  We had luggage that was given to us as a wedding gift making it 33 years old.  While it was a really great set of luggage, it had an odd pulling systems that was really awkward, one of the original pull luggage systems probably, that tipped the luggage precariously onto tiny wheels on the back end.  A few years ago, Costco had a really awesome price on a set of 2 Heys luggage with the 360* wheels.  So we bought it and I sold my other luggage in a yard sale only to realize that the Heys luggage I had bought did not have a smaller carry on size.  So I've been using an old tapestry style carry one size suitcase that I had to lug around because of course it didn't have any kind of pull system.  I've been looking since then for that carry on sized piece for myself for years now and finally I found one that I really liked with all the pockets and inside storage areas and it was about  2/3 off the original price.  But I still hesitated wondering, if indeed, that was the original price or if they had just jacked it up making it look like a better deal than it really was.  So I left it behind.  While in Calgary, we went to a clearance at a Home Outfitter's store and lo and behold there was the luggage.  Thinking I had scored an even better deal than the one back home, after all this was a close out sale,  I was shocked to find that their big clearance had it on for more than double what it was back home.  So as soon as we got back I ran to Sears to see if they still had it (they had only had the one) crossing my fingers all the way.  Thinking there was no way it would still be there, it was a blessing to find it sitting there.  I made that purchase with a big smile, for sure!

4. Birds singing in the morning.  I grew up with a neighbor who used to raise canaries and finches and we'd hear their song every morning.  So I still love when the birds get singing in the early summer mornings.  The crows and magpies, however I can do with out.  Just saying.  But the ones who actually sing a song instead of waging a battle?  Heaven!

5.  Coffee, book, sunshine, deck.  Put them together and it's one thing that seriously destresses me.  Love going out there and enjoying some time doing nothing.  I miss this in the winter.

What are your favorites from the last week?

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Promise by Beth Wiseman ~ Book Review

As a teenager, Mallory Hammond made a promise to her dying cousin...that if she couldn't help save her life she would save someone else's.   Now an adult Mallory feels adrift in life as that promise hangs heavy on her.  When she starts working for her friend's fiance who is a doctor, she learns of a young girl who is from Pakistan that desperately needs help.  But in order to help her, Mallory needs to get her to the States for treatment and the only way to do that is risk everything and travel to a very dangerous part of the world and do something that will take all her courage.    Flying in the face of all reason and with dire warnings from her fiance, her friend and sister along with government warnings about the area, she decides to do it anyway so that she can fulfill her promise but what she finds waiting for her may cost her more than she ever bargained for.

I ordered this book because I have loved the other two contemporary books by this author that I have read.  Although the back description really didn't draw me at first, I went with the good reading experience I had already had.  And I'm glad I did.  I ended up really liking the book.  But to be totally honest the character of Mallory drove me nuts throughout the book.  Because of the promise she had made and her deep desire to fulfill it, she was totally blinded to what was common sense and warnings from those she should have trusted.  But the story really drew me in and I could feel her fiance's and friends tensions as she determined to make it happen.  At the end, what made the book even more interesting and relevant was reading the author's notes on why she wrote the book.  Based on a good friend's personal experiences, it made the story that much more real.  It brought to light & explained how people motivated by love and sacrifice can be betrayed and how shame or embarrassment keeps them from asking for help until sometimes it may be too late.  She explained which parts and experiences in the story her friend had actually lived through and that she wrote the story hoping to make a difference.   She also wrote the book hoping it would bring closure to their own situation and in an effort to understand her own friend's actions.  It certainly opened my eyes to how a person can get themselves into these kinds of situations beyond their control and moved me from being frustrated with the character to having empathy for the character.  The author's notes are a part of this book that shouldn't be left unread.

I gave this book a 9/10.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yikes! with Update

Well I gotta say sitting under a tornado warning is a tad nerve wracking!!!

Well in spite of the ominous looking clouds no tornado manifested, thank God!  But, boy oh boy, are we getting a downpour with a lightening show.  The north end got some golf ball sized hail but I think the towns around us are getting it a lot worse.  It's been quite the evening

Friday's Fave Five #388

Another week has come and gone...where does that time go???  It's Friday and time to look back over the past week and see what blessings were in our lives that made us glad, encouraged us, uplifted us, brought a smile, gave us hope,  made our day or just plain got us through.  Share 5 of them and join us on the linky!  Then grab a treat and visit around.

1.  This quote.  This week started out great, and I'm not gonna lie, ended a bit tough.  So glad that I have this little outlet that has brought the discipline of intentionally looking for good things in my life so that I don't spiral into the negative!  Because there is good but sometimes the volume of those little, not so pleasant things really tries to drown out what really was a good week and rob me of joy and peace.   This helps me to focus on the good and let them have the upper volume!  I really like this quote from Toby Mac:

And knowing me and my flair for a touch of drama, I can really lean toward the milking of something if I am not careful.  So it's a good reminder.

2.  Finding new bike trails in the river bottom.  We again loaded up our bikes this time taking them down into the river bottom.  We really do have a love river valley park system.  We did the usual paved paths and then in a turn of daring we got off that path and took a skinny (very skinny) bike trail.  It was fun and challenging riding through rocks, the trail, sand, and through the midst of bushes and trees until we came upon a clearing that must have been recessed flood area.  It looked like river rocks and people had built all sorts of river rock scultures.  I couldn't leave without building one of my own.  I did have a pic but I think I accidentally deleted it off my phone.  :(

3.  Celebrating my mom's 84th birthday.  What a blessing to still have my mom to celebrate her birthday.  We took her to the restaurant of her choice and had a delicious bbq rib meal and then back to my house for cake.  Such a special lady and doesn't she look great for 84?

4.  Stop over visit from Kim and Mitch.  The newlyweds popped in on their way to a British Columbia holiday and spent the night.  Nice to see them and catch up a bit.  A 7 hour drive is just too far away for this mom!

5.   Tiramisu.  Oh how I love this dessert.  Enough said!

How was your week?  And what were your favorite blessings from it?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Romanov Sisters - The Lost Live of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

Born to privilege and royalty, they were the 4 oldest children of the last Tsar and Tsarista of Russia. They were greatly loved by their parents who raised them with deep religious and family values. Told from collections of diaries and letters, the story of their short lives is filled with insight into who they were as people, their upbringing by a very religious yet overly protective mother, and their insights and thoughts into what was going on around them. In their short lives they saw a lot, including WWI, the last days of Imperial Russia and the beginnings of the Russian Revolution which effectively took their lives. We learn of their childhoods, their care for their brother who was the only heir to the throne and who suffered horribly from hemophilia and how they handled their mother's sickly constitution which brought long separations from her. We learn of their hopes and dreams, their deep concern and care as nurses and visitors of the wounded soldiers during the war, and their extreme boredom and fear and courage in the face of their captivity and later their murder. We also learn a bit about their relationship to the controversial Rasputin as their mother relied on him more and more to help young Alexy with his bouts of almost dying from his disease. It was all a very sad time period in the history of Russia.

I have always been intrigued with this time in Russian history and thoroughly enjoyed this perspective through the eyes of the 4 Grand Duchesses. It is a sad tale indeed. Refreshing to read was the great love of each other this family had. Insights into their daily, very sheltered lives was interesting as was how they handled everything that came upon them because of the political turmoil of the time. Intelligent yet not worldly, they seemed younger than they were but were so open to people and those around them. They had great responsibility yet the general public were not so open to them as it was so important that the Tsaritsa produce a male heir. Yet when he finally did come, he was born with an incurable disease that ran through royalty, and a lot of their childhood was spent hiding that fact and taking care of their very sick brother. As they got older because they were not exposed to the general public so much, sentiment was against them, and they didn't really know how to behave "royally", if that is such a word. Their story is at first interesting, and heartwarming and then when Nicholas abdicates in the mistaken belief that it would be best for their family and for Russia, it turns heartbreaking as the Russian Revolution brings the nightmare of their captivity and eventual death.

As is usual with non-fiction books of this sort, I find, there were some long run on sentences. And I think this read took me longer than usual because I never did get the hang of pronouncing the long Russian names that were throughout the book. But it was a great read nonetheless.  I rated it 9.5/10

Friday, July 08, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #387

Welcome everyone.  It's Friday wonderful Friday.  And that means we look back over the week to recognize and take note of the blessings in our lives.  They may be big and obvious or they may be more quiet and hiding a bit but it's a good practice to take note of them and be thankful for them.  Please join on in.  If you're new the guidelines are linked in the sidebar.  

This fave five is going to be all about the long weekend because so many of my blessings and favorite things went on during those 3 days.  In Canada we celebrated Canada Day and I know my American bloggy friends enjoyed their 4th of July day off and celebrations.

1.  The long weekend.  Last weekend we enjoyed a long weekend with Canada Day falling on a Friday.   With that holiday landing on a friday, it was so much more relaxing and enjoyable with not having to worry about working the next morning.  An extra day to sleep in a bit, laze around with books and an extra coffee or two.  I even got some chores crossed off the list without being rushed about it.  

2.  Bike rides.  With the long weekend and great weather, Hubby and I actually got in 2 great, long bike rides.   The sky had a mix of sun and cloud so we weren't burning too much and there was a bit of a breeze to cool us off.  We took some great paths, stopped at a coffee shop for refreshments and just had fun together.  

3.  Spontaneous evening with good friends.  We received a spontaneous invite for a bbq dinner with our good friends who are so not really spontaneous.  They are very busy folks with a full calendar so we usually plan our time together quite a bit in advance.  So this was a great surprise.  And we always love getting together with them.  Lots of laughs and always great food.  I had a bbq'd roast for the first time ever and it was delicious!

4.  Another spontaneous invite, this one for Saturday morning breakfast out from my mom.  She likes IHOP so that is where we headed.  Hubby and I don't usually go there but boy they had the most wonderful Banana Macadamia Nut pancakes with butter rum sauce.  Oh my.  Delicious and nice to spend the morning with my mom.

5.  Yummy grilled dinner on Sunday.  I got a great deal on some rib steaks at the grocery store last week.  I never buy rib steaks because they are Expensive with a capital E!  But this was a price that couldn't be left behind.  So I grilled them up for our Sunday dinner.  And I must say they turned out perfect.  I actually didn't over or under cook them, which is a blessing in itself!   So for less than the price of fast food burger dinners out we had the best steak dinner at home.  Gotta love that!

What were your favorite blessings from the last week?

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout ~ Book Review

Loved. this. book!

 Over the years mountaineering and especially the climbs to summit Everest and K2 have fascinated me. Not in the sense that I want to do it, far from it. But the logistics and especially the mind set and obsession of these climbers fascinates me. I've read several books about different mountain climbing exhibitions over the years and have watched all sorts of documentaries and films and I have to say I still don't real get the drive these people have.   Sure I understand the varying reasons, but I don't relate at all for any of those reasons to push me up those death slopes.  In the '90's my family, including my kids, were compelled to watch over and over again the documentary about the horrible '96 Everest storms that took the lives of so many people that year and the miracle return of one man left for dead. The kids called him "Nose Nose" because his nose had totally frozen off and he had reconstructive surgery to grow a new nose on his forehead and then it was flipped over to be set where it belonged. They were totally mesmerized by the whole thing. And then last year in theatres low and behold the movie "Everest" which was based on this '90's expedition was out in movie theatres and it totally stirred up the interest of the mindset nad the amazement of the drive of these climbers once again. To top off all this renewed interest, this spring, a local realtor took on Everest to raise money for the YWCA and awareness against domestic violence. So when I saw this book I was all in.

 This is a historical fiction account of the ill-fated attempt to be the first to summit and map  Everest of George Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew "Sandy" Irvine. Both perished on the mountain in 1924 and only recently has the body of George Mallory been found. Sandy Irvine has never been located but the hunt is continuous for him as he may hold the proof in the camera he was carrying of whether George had actually summited or not. An important thing in history and the world of mountaineering as that would possibly make Sir Edmund Hillary the second man to summit, not the first. The book is an adventure story, a romance, and a study into obsession, sacrifice, love and glory.

 The narration of the story goes back and forth between George Mallory and his wife Ruth with the occasional addition of the voice of Sandy Irvine into George's narration. While George's story is mostly told in real time making this 3rd attempt at conquering and mapping Everest, Ruth's is told in the real time of one day awaiting news of George and in flashbacks of her and George's lives together as she attempts daily living while being left behind for the mountain yet again. While this all sounds like it would be awfully confusing, the author really made it work. I could imagine Ruth as she was trying to live her life and take care of her and George's three children while waiting to see if her husband had made it or not. I could almost palpably feel her tension as news in those times took forever, not like the internet instant reporting of today. I loved how their love story was written in the book through the flashbacks, and though it was hinted at that George had had a brief one night stand, the focus in the book was what made their love strong enough to get through the constant separations and fame that George's attempts brought upon them. I was really interested in the mindset and drive of George to prove himself, both to himself and to others, even at the expense of being separated for long periods from his beloved family.  And I like the interspersion of the viewpoint of the inexperienced Andrew "Sandy" Irvine. While one hears lots of George Mallory, I so far, have not come across what this young man might have been thinking or going through on his final day.

 As the story progressed, I was once again boggled at the bravery, or craziness as it were depending on what camp you sit in about these kinds of things, of what possesses these people to do this. And being the 1920's, there was no technology helping them like there is now. Even their dress of layers of cotton clothing and simple winter jackets, which basically amounted to tweed coats, compared to nowadays high tech clothing, is mind blowing. I thought the author did a great job of describing the danger and the logistics of the climb, and the extreme danger that the mountain presented. And even though I knew how the story ends, the author still did a fantastic job of grabbing a hold of my attention especially in the later part of the book when you know the two climber will disappear.  I couldn't put it down when they were making that 3rd attempt and final push for the summit.

 I really thought this story was breathtaking and entertaining and deserved a 10/10.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

6 Month Update to the Reading Challenge 2016 Running List

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

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin 

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin 

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

Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

The Promise by Beth Wiseman

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

Taken by Dee Henderson

Books Purchased in July 2016

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows