Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #490

Good morning, everyone!  Sorry this post didn't get up on time.  I was in the mountains on a road trip with friends and I just totally forgot what day it was.  But late or not, it's still a good time to look back over our week to find some blessings to be grateful for, right?  So here we go.  Please join in.

~friends~ I am very grateful to have some good friends in my life.   Not only friends to do fun things, but friends who share the hard, nitty gritty of life.  Having a being a friend like that takes work, time and investment and I am very grateful for the few I have like that.

~ good books ~ I am grateful for books to begin with because we are so privileged in the country to have such unlimited access to reading material but also for those authors who take hard subjects and build stories around them that capture my heart and make me think and reflect where my own heart is.  I read such a one this week and haven't been able to pick up another for a couple days as the story keeps coming back to mind.

~ access to medicines ~ in having to help my Dad and deal with his on going medical issues, and fighting something myself this week, it has made me thankful that we have such availability to different medicines, both prescribed and herbal non-prescribed variety.  What do people do in countries where there is no medicines available or doctors to prescribe or change them up as needed?  And though we oftentimes grumble about our Albertan healthcare system, in reality when we compare it to some other countries we are very blessed indeed.

~ road trips ~ yesterday we went with some good friends and took one of my favorite day trips to the Going on the Sun road and across Logan's Pass in Glacier National Park.  It is absolutely breath taking and I highly recommend it if you are able.  The many, many vista pull offs and views and the walking and hiking trails can keep one busy for days.  We find something new everytime we go.  One must bring along nerves of steel though as the drive on the narrow roads right along the side of the mountains is not for the faint of heart.  Especially when you are on the side of road that drops off with nothing but a foot and half stone wall keeping you from the edge of the cliff.  But oh so worth it.

In the picture above you can see the line of the road above my shoulder leading into a little black hole which is a tunnel and in the other picture it is the horizontal line etched across the green covered mountain to the right.  

~ cameras ~ and of course I am most grateful for cameras to capture special days and moments, especially cameras that you can fit into a pocket.  I only took my phone for these pictures because I don't want to lug my big camera around when I'm with other people.  And yet I still got wonderful shots to remember the day.

What are you thankful for from the last week?

Friday, July 06, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #489

Welcome to a very warm Friday's Fave Five.  Sunshine and heat is the order for the day so it's definitely going to be a lazy day of summer around the Living to Tell household.  And to start off we are going to take note of some blessings from the last week.  Please join on in.  If you are new, please take a moment to click over in the sidebar to the guidelines.

Here are my top 5 in no particular order:

~Canada Day~  Sunday was Canada Day celebrating this great country's 151st birthday.  I am so very grateful to be born here and living here.

~ beauty fro the ashes ~ Canada Day we made a spur of the moment decision to make the trip to my happy place, Waterton Lakes National Park.  In September of last year, the Kenow wildfire ripped through Waterton and they had to close the park due to the devastating damage.   It was a miracle and a lot of hard work of dedicated firefighters from all over the region but they saved the town and the historic Prince of Wales hotel.  Waterton town and a couple of trails were able to be open this Canada Day, a far cry from all the trails that are usually available.  It was worth it to go see the area.  Even in the midst of the devastation there was such beauty.

Fields of gorgeous colorful wild flowers
even brighter because of the charred ground underneath

Amazing charred trees are almost artistic in appearance
and a lone deer that we saw enjoying the new green growth for lunch

Trail to Bertha Falls
You could tell hot spots because it was all black and grey ash with no new growth.
This forest had a sign that says it renews itself indefinitely...unless it is devastated by fire.  :(

And the lovely greenery that surrounds the wet areas of Bertha Falls and the creek that it feeds all the way down to Upper Waterton Lake.  

~ manicure ~ I usually never get a manicure preferring to keep my nails short and maybe just a clear polish because of all the hand washing I do but now that my youngest girl is an esthetician I  slurge once in a while.  She gave me a lovely gel manicure with a pink pearl finish.  

~ some good reading time ~  this week allowed some extra reading time which is always a nice blessing

~ hot summer weather is back!~  after a week of colder, cloudy rainy days the heat is back so it allowed me to pull out the pool for the dayhome kids which is always popular.  (Hence the extra reading time for me in a lawn chair while they splash away).  Win - win!

What were your blessings from the last week?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love wakes up on the floor of her gym staring up at a bunch of strangers who seem to know her quite well.  Apparently she fell of the spin cycle and had a bump to the head.  But wait a minute, Alice hates the gym.  And that is not the only thing that is strange.  Very worried about the baby she is pregnant with, her and Nick's first child, Alice is baffled when the hospital insists she is not pregnant at all.  And not only that, she is not 29 but 39 and her three children are waiting to be picked up at school.  And her world just keeps getting stranger as it is apparent that she has totally lost 10 years of her life out of her memory.  Now as the hospital releases her she must go to that life she has no memory of and try to put the pieces together so that she and her family can function in some way.  But her family is broken and she is in the midst of a divorce and she has no idea why, she barely has a relationship with the rest of her family and apparently she is some super mom at her kid's school organizing a huge fundraiser that will get them in the Guinness Book of World Records.  And who on earth is this "Gina" that everyone doesn't want to talk about?  This all is an Alice that she does not recognize at all and now she must figure out either how to go back or how to go forward.

This was a very interesting premise that really made you think how you would react if you lost the last ten years of your life.  As Alice tries to function in her daily life, she has many surprises arise as to what her life and she as a person has become and she is shocked and not happy about a lot of it.  But she can't remember what led her there and nobody seems to want to fill her in.  A paragraph that I thought perfectly described Alice's dilemma was on page 98 and is a quote from Alice herself:

""How long have you been married for?"  Alice interrupted.  The terror of not knowing the facts of her own life gripped her again.  She was on one of those amusement park rides that slammed you left, then right, then turned the whole world upside down, giving you unfamiliar glimpses of familiar things.  Alice hated amusement park rides."

I could actually feel her uncertainty and fear.

The story examines looking at the blessings of your life and what might be important and what isn't.  It explores the workings of family relationships and what interferes with them.  The story is told from 3 voices:  Alice, her sister Elizabeth who has desperately been trying to have a baby and can't, and that of her beloved grandmother.   The story was thought provoking, funny in a lot of places and also sad in some.  For the most part I enjoyed the story and really wanted to find out what happened to Alice and if she would settle within herself who she had become if her memory didn't return.  The author gave enough vague references to Alice's former life that kept you turning the pages to find it all out along with Alice though a few sections of the book did drag on a bit.   

I rated this an 8/10

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #488

Hi everyone!  Friday's here and that means another opportunity to intentionally look for those things that were blessings and good things in our lives from the last week.  Please join us.  If you are new just click the FFF button in the sidebar, read over the guidelines and then just jump right in.  We'd love to have you!

And here we go with my favorite five blessings from the week:

~Dad out of the hospital~  Finally!  After 11 days in the hospital they discharged my Dad.  That was one long, scary, frustrating event.  At 87 this was very stressful for him.  His blood sugars have finally stabalized enough to let him go home.  When admitted his numbers were literally off the chart.  And then they would drop scary low.  After having diabetic training and having to learn to give himself insulin injections it's going to be a learning curve at home too.    But hopefully he'll make the transition.

~Ladies small group end of the year party~  At the end of June our ladies' group always has a wrap up party.  This year only 4 were able to attend which was really sad but us four had such a lovely evening.  Usually we go out but this year one of ladies offered to bbq at their home.  It was amazing.  They rotisseried a prime rib.  It was sooooo delicious.  Everyone added a  yummy side and I have to confess I ate entirely too much.  Then we chatted over strawberry shortcake and lemonades.  The weather even co-operated.  It got cloudy but no big wind or rain.

~ and yes, I must make the strawberry shortcake a fave ~ Oh my goodness it was delicious.   It was cake, not a biscuit.  So moist and not sickeningly sweet.   And very strawberry.  Yum.  A new favorite dessert to take to pot luck type dinners.

~ dayhome kids that make me laugh ~ I have one little 22 month old who is just hilarious.  She's an absolute tease and a stinker and soooo much fun.  This week she had me in stitches several times.  I wish I could post some of the great pictures that I've captured of her at her best.

~perfect timing ~ a library book I had on hold came in fairly quickly.  It came in right as I'm finishing up another book but before my review book has hit the mail box.  I have so many great books awaiting reading for the summer.

What were your favorite blessings of the last week?

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