Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #547

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five .  We're looking for blessings in our lives in a purposeful way.  By taking some moments to take note of those things that bring joy or lift us up we are cultivating a grateful attitude and training our hearts to look for the hand of God in our everyday routines.  Feel free to join us if you are new.  The more the merrier.  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar.  

1.  Dryer fixed.  I had been without a dryer for a month.  Wow, you don't really realize how much you rely on an appliance until it's taken away from you.  I was washing my clothes at my house and then taking two wet loads at a time to my mom's to dry each week.   So thankful for that but it did add so much more effort compared to just throwing it in a home.  And the huge blessing is we got it fixed for free even though it's off warranty.   After expressing shock and dismay that they would make me pay any part of what was  faulty circuitry (or whatever it's called) and that they were lucky they didn't burn my house down the company acquiesced and agreed to pay the whole shot.    Very thankful for that because last week my car's steering decided it was going to put up a protest!

2.  Car fixed.  As mentioned above my car's steering decided to join the dryer in mutiny.  We took it to our mechanic who ordered the part.  Unfortunately when the part came it came with a huge warning sticker that it must be programmed by the dealership.  So then we had to book into a dealership.  And then the weekend came so I was without a vehicle for almost a week. I finally have it back and I'm so grateful.

3.  Pool replaced.  I had bought the dayhome kids a new pool for the summer in July.  It's the same one I've bought for years and they usually last me 3-5 years which is good considering how often it's set up and taken down.  This one, though, lasted me 3 uses.  I was going to start the repairs on it (good ol' shoe goo and duct tape are miracle workers) when I thought I should phone the store and ask for a replacement even though I no longer had the box or receipt.  I did that and within a few minutes of being passed to a couple different departments I was told to come in and get a new one.  Very thankful for that.

4.  New favorite lip balm.  Caramel Creme by Chapstick.  I think it's a seasonal one (Christmas, maybe?) but still loving it in the summer.

5.  Favorite bookmark found.  I had misplaced a favorite bookmark given to me by my daughter which had a sweet picture of Winnie the Pooh on it.  Winnie is a favorite nostalgic character from their childhood so the fact that she gave it to me makes it very special.  I had lost it and now have found it again.  Makes me happy everytime I look at it in my book.  :)

Bonus:  Loving this quote:

Goes very well with the goals of Friday's Fave Five, don't you think?

Just a note:  My internet server has had a major issue this past week that has affected the receiving and sending of emails.  As in I can't do either.  So if you've wondered why I might not have answered something you might have emailed me that is why.  They've set up a temporary email online and I can now receive my emails but I still cannot send any.  It has also messed with me posting pictures from my phone.  Has been very frustrating but I know it will eventually get back.  Learning a little lesson in patience.

What were your 5 favorite blessings from the last week?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Lost Daughter by Gil Paul ~ Book Review

In 1918,with the Bolshevik's taking control of Russia,  the Romanov's are moved to a small house in Ekaterinburg and remain living in captivity.  Maria is a friendly 19 year old with a fun personality but has a times felt that she is not loved by her parents as much as the other Romanov children are.  As time drags on in the house their days drift back and forth between mind numbing boredom and heart stopping fear.  Through it all  Maria manages to still be friendly with a couple of the younger guards.  Little does she realize in her naivety that her innocent flirtations will reap consequences that will have a profound effect on her life.

In 1973 Australia, Val Doyle has struggled all her life in her relationship with her harsh and abusive Russian father.  When the nursing home calls her with some strange & disturbing things her father has said, Val breaks her long time estrangement to go see him to try to decipher what he means.  But while there he is distraught and repeats to Val what the nurses heard:  "I didn't want to kill her".    Stunned, Val can only surmise that he is referring to her Asian mother who disappeared without a word when Val was only twelve years old.   When her father dies, she tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of her mom, Val finds there is more to the story than she ever imagined and it all centers on an odd collection of photographs and a Faberge box found in her father's safety deposit box.

This book is a prime example of why I love historical fiction.  It was so well researched and written.  I've read quite a bit about the Romanovs, both fiction and non-fiction and still it taught me pieces of Russian history I didn't know a lot about and yet managed to involve my emotions every step of the way.  This novel takes historical events and supposes a different outcome.  The demise of the Romanov family came with some speculation that some of the children had survived the brutal murderous event.  This fictional story supposes that Maria had survived.  It follows her life as she tries to survive, remain hidden and get over the horrible, heartbreaking events she witnessed.  As she finds love and builds her family Russia is once again in turmoil.  The author takes us through Leningrad when Stalin took over and built communism.  It takes Maria's family through the heartbreaking siege of Leningrad when Stalin basically abandoned his people to starvation.   It was hard to put the book down and had me on the edge of my seat as the author wove the historical and the contemporary stories together.  All my emotions were involved.  It was fascinating, captivating and I cried my way through several parts of the story.  It is a story of survival, courage and love.

I will put a warning out for domestic abuse within the story and ,of course, the violence of the Romanov murders for those that would be triggered by that.

I rated this a 10/10

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #546

1.  Emergency Meeting.   But not the kind you suppose.  It actually goes back to last week but I had forgotten all about it.  But I just have to list it as a fave because it's so neat.   Turns out my daughter is not just a "twin" but a "triplet".  Let me explain.   When we took Tamara to emergency last week to check the ankle injury we got a nice surprise.  After we passed the triage desk and moved into the wait area the girl who had been behind us in line came over to us.  She apologized for overhearing a few things one of which was my daughter's birthdate.  When she heard it she just had to come over.  My daughter was born Christmas Day, 1994.  Well turns out so was this girl!  So she came to ask what hospital.  Turns out it was the same one as us.  What an amazing coincidence.  To meet someone born on Christmas is rare.  To meet someone born that day and the same year is even rarer.  But to meet another baby grown up and quite by chance that shared your hospital corridor, well that's just on another level, especially when apparently there was only 3 babies born that day.    I was so happy she had come over and said something.  The lovely lady who was my roommate also had a Christmas Day baby and we have kept touch all these years.  The girls grew up celebrating their birthdays together for many, many years until they moved to China to be missionaries and they always called themselves "twins".  So now it was fun to find out they were "triplets".  It was a lovely coincidence to brighten up where we actually were.

2.  New Mani.  I have to say I feel thoroughly spoiled and hope the day does not come soon when Tamara will no longer be doing esthetician work.  This past year I've actually had nice nails when normally they are not so nice  horrible.  I will enjoy them while I can.  Thanks Tamara!  I'll put up a picture when my mail server decides to quit messing with me.

3.  Fresh seasonal produce.  The fresh peppers are in from B.C. and we have been enjoying them.  We make a Hungarian dish called lesco, a pepper stew, and it calls for mild yellow Hungarian peppers.  This is the basic recipe.  We also add sliced Kolbassa or Ukrainian sausage and a hot Hungarian pepper.  Yes, it can be made from regular sweet bell peppers too but it's just not the same.  Depending on the region of Hungary that your heritage is from some add an egg stirred in at the end of cooking too.  We serve it with rice or just yummy fresh bread for dipping.

We also enjoyed Taber corn this week.  It was especially tasty knowing that it was our first and last tasting of the season.  Just into it's second week of the season the farms were hard hit with a wicked storm that saw Hurricane force wind and hail level the crops.  I don't know what it is about Taber corn but it's amazing and makes it the corn capital of Canada.

4.  Back into the reading groove.  I don't know why but this year my favorite hobby has been in a bit of a slump.  I'm reading much less and much slower than is normal for me.  But it seems over the last couple of months I've started to get my mojo back and have been devouring books once again.  Maybe I just needed to have a good run with some great books to get me going again.

5.  Anti-biotics.  No I don't like to take them for every little thing and we are very careful to take them only as instructed and for the length of time we are instructed but I am thankful for them when we do need them to get rid on a infection.

What are the things you are most grateful for this week?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Thing We Keep by Sally Hepworth ~ Book Review

Anna Forster is only 38 years old when she notices signs of forgetfulness occurring way too often in her life.  Watching her mom suffer through the same diagnosis she knows what's coming.  Soon she quits her beloved career as a paramedic not wanting the forgetfulness to manifest itself in an emergency.  But when her sweet nephew is injured as a result of a lapse in her memory, Anna gives in to her brother and allows him to take her to an assisted living facility called Rosiland House.  With only a dozen residents, it's more home like than institutional, but at her age it's still hard thinking she will be living with all seniors.  But when she gets there she meets another person her own age also with early onset dementia.  In an impossible future, the two find friendship and love...much to the dismay of her family.  As her brother fights to keep them apart, Anna finds empathy with the new cook and cleaner hired by the home.  Eve Bennett has taken the less than ideal job at the Rosiland House putting her chef's career on hold so that she can keep her daughter in the school where she has found friends.  Recently widowed and betrayed Eve is moved by the relationship that Luke and Anna share.  But she must decide if her job is worth the risk of helping them keep their relationship.

This story is very different from the well known "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova but in it's own way is also a very insightful and touching look into early onset Alzheimer's.  While those of us who have never lived through a loved one diagnosed with this horrible disease and will never really know exactly what the heartbreak is like, this story gave us another layer of it that Still Alice started.  It takes a peek into life inside an assisted living facility and explores  the emotional bonds that young sufferers might face and how they and their families and caretakers cope.  It also explores the implications, pros and cons of decisions made by facilities and family and the loss of control of one's own life.   It's a bittersweet love story that is eye-opening and made me think what I would have done in both the family's and the cook's viewpoint.

I gave it an 8.5/10

Friday, August 09, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #545

Welcome to a hot and toasty Friday's Fave Five.  Won't you join us as we find blessings in our everydays from the last week and share five of our favorites?   It's not a competition, it's not to compare.  It's an exercise in intentionally being aware of the good things in our lives, those gifts from God whether they be big or small, obvious or a little more hidden and an exercise in becoming grateful for what we have been given.  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar if you are new.

1.  Fresh tomatoes.  The fresh tomatoes have been coming around and they are tasty.  This is the first year in many that I have not planted tomato plants and yet we still seem to be blessed with a nice amount for eating.  We've been enoying them in salads, sandwiches and just as a quick bite of goodness.  I love fresh tomatoes.

2.  Night Out with friends.  This summer was a staycation for us and one of the fun things we did was have a night out with good friends of ours.  We went to the movies  & saw Yesterday (which was enjoyable except for way too many instances of using the Lord's name in vain).   Then we went out for supper to a local brewhouse restaurant that none of us had been too before.  It was a fun evening, spent in great company.

3.  Air conditioning.  We switched out our dinosaur of an ac unit a couple summers ago and boy is this new one so much more efficient and cheaper to run.  So grateful for it this week as it's been a hot week here and then evenings haven't cooled down much.  It also has allowed us to keep our windows closed through the night which is most appreciated when some young people don't get that other people have to work and are playing basketball at the nets across the street sometimes until 1:30 in the morning!  

4.  Mother/Daughter movie date.  Tamara and I decided to go and see Toy Story 4 on Monday afternoon and am so glad we did.  I love the Toy Story franchise.  Though I must admit I was wary at first thinking they might be pushing it with continuing on with the story, they did a good job with the 4th in the series.  We really enjoyed it and had quite a few good laughs throughout.  We haven't done a Mother/Daughter thing in a long, long time and it was wonderful getting to spend that time with her doing something fun.

5.  Just a sprain.  Monday morning found me in emergency with Tamara to find out if her ankle injury was just a sprain or something more serious.  She'd been hiking the day before and lost her footing and heard her ankle snap.  It was quite swollen and bruised.  Unfortunately because it was a long weekend, no clinics were open and we'd don't have urgent care type clinics here which left only the emergency department.  Which was not an appealing option but what could we do?  But we were in and out in less than 45 minutes (a miracle in these parts) and that was with an xray and everything.  It was just a sprain.  Grateful for the super quick experience and that it was not something worse.  

What were you grateful for this week?

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Bay of Secrets by Rosanna Ley ~ Book Review

Spain of 1939 just came out of a civil war which saw a military dictator take over power from a democratically elected government.  The country is treading in fear as anyone who sympathizes with the Republicans are under suspicion and could be arrested.  Julia and her family live in poverty and fear.  In order to survive and to keep the three girls safe, plans are made.  Seventeen year old Julia is to be given to a convent in Barcelona to become a nun and one of her sisters is to marry a much older man who can take care of her.  Julia is devastated but obediently goes along with her father's wishes.  Once she becomes a nun she takes an assignment to work at a maternity clinic in Barcelona led by Dr. Lopez.   As a nun, Sister Julia quietly does what she is told, never outwardly questioning authority, but inside she is grieved at the way things are handled at the clinic.

In England in 2011, Ruby Rae is trying to get over the sudden death of her beloved parents.  After months of avoiding it, she has finally found the courage to go and deal with their home.  With the help of her friend, she starts to pack up her parent's belongings in order to sell the family home.  But when she finds a box in her mom's closet, it's contents reveal a secret her parents kept that will change Ruby's life forever.

I found this book at a Little Library in town and it looked very interesting.  It was described on the cover as "a must-have summer read" and a "gorgeous dream of a holiday read".  So I grabbed it and I'm really glad I did.  The story follows three women:  Sister Julia, Ruby and Vivien (Ruby's Mom) and also a young artist named Andres.  At first glance, it would seem that it would be way too many stories to follow and I admit it was a little bit hard to get into but once it hooked me I couldn't put it down.  It is evident the author has done her research well into historical facts and built a lovely though heartbreaking story around them. Each timeline is an interesting story in itself and the author wove them together so well.  Her descriptions of Spain, the Spanish Canary Islands and England are beautiful.  The characters are so well written, I empathized with them all as they worked through their situations and all the emotions it involved.  It's a story of love, courage, forgiveness and finding one's self.   I found writing this review hard as this is one story where you cannot give too much away, even naming the historical event, would give spoilers.  This book is why I love well written historical fiction.  It taught me about a piece of history I knew absolutely nothing about going in and made it interesting enough that I had to look it up after I finished the story.

Small warning of some language by one of the characters in case you are sensitive to that.

I gave this book a 9/10

Friday, August 02, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #544

Welcome to Friday and Friday's Fave Five.  It is a brand new month and a great time to look for favorite blessings from the last week.  Thanks for coming by.  Please join in with us if you haven't already.  Cultivating an outlook that intentionally looks for the good things from God in our ordinary everyday is what we are trying to do.

1.  No kids week!  This is my maintenance week where no kids come to child care but I get things done that are next to impossible with 6 kids here all day.  Things like carpet cleaning, painting, sorting and repairing toys, etc.  Still working but I also get some time to do relaxing things too.  The work week is more relaxed because it's not dictated by the clock which is really nice.

2.  Day trip to Waterton.  On Saturday Hubby and I took a spur of the moment trip to Waterton, one of our favorite day trips.  Spectacular mountain views and a glacier lake with trails and a mountain village are all only and hour and half drive away.  It's always relaxing and mountains are our happy place.  Unfortunately not many trails were open yet still because of the fires from 2 years ago.  We did start to hike one that we enjoy but ended up turning back because of reports from other hikers that a bear was feeding just off the trail up ahead a ways.  The bears are coming farther down to feed as the fire has forced them to source their berries closer to busy trails.  We had the dog with us so didn't want to take a chance on spooking the bear.  So instead we took the dog for a swim in the lake and enjoyed a sit on the water's edge and just soaking up the sunshine and the views.

3.  Shopping trip to Calgary.  Our son came down for the week and so on my daughter's day off we all piled in the car and went on a shopping trip to Calgary.  We had fun just wandering the huge Cross Iron Mills mall.  We picked up some great deals on a few things we needed and on some we totally didn't.  Because we are not taking a long distance holiday this year this was a nice compromise and still makes us feel like we got away somewhere.  I'm so thankful my adult kids still like to hang out and do things like this.  A great supper at one of our favorite spots, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and we headed home tired and full.

4.  More biking.  With the lazier starts to the day we've taken advantage of the beautiful mornings and have gotten several more bike rides in and this time our son was able to join us.  So fun and such great exercise.  And again soaking up the beautiful days we are getting right now.

5.  Good reading time.  With the time off, I've gotten some wonderful reading time in this week.  I've finished two books this week both of which were really good (reviews to come).  That more relaxed start to the day affords some extra time to get in some reading with my morning coffee and then little breaks throughout the day have been really nice to pick up my books.  I get a little work done and then reward myself with a 20 minute to half hour read.  I could really get into this kind of work day but alas it's just for this week but I'll take it.

What have been your favorite blessings from the past week?