Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter in Western New York

I heard a local news broadcaster say that we haven't had a winter as cold as this since the late 1880's. That must be why I can't remember anytime this cold. (Although one of my son-in-laws likes to joke that I'm old enough to have known Moses.  HaHa dear SIL, I sometimes feel old but NOT THAT OLD !!)

When we visit our daughter , who lives down south,  some of the locals will sometimes remark that it's usually not so chilly (this usually means it's in the 50's).  We in turn respond with "We're from WNY, we're used to alot colder than this!"  This winter has made that statement more appropriate that ever before.  I will admit, it's pretty 'out there', as long as I can stay 'in here'.  The snow sparkles and shines and the wind has blown little snow drifts across the yard.  When I actually venture out, it is sooooo cold that the snow crunches.

I'm really ready for this cold snap to be done!  We're supposed to have a warm-up this weekend (30's), but only for a day or two, then we're back to the deep freeze.  Now, I know, there are many places in the world that are as cold or colder, but I don't live there.  I live here.  I'm done with this cold.  I'm done with frozen pipes.  I'm done with watching Netflix, snuggled under two blankets.  Well, maybe I'm not done with that, that's kind of nice. I know this isn't going to last forever and eventually, spring will come.  It really will!

Here are some pics I snapped last weekend and this morning.

 This is what our themometer showed for our front porch this morning
 This is what the weather channel showed.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson - a book review

I need to preface this review by restating my views on book reviews.  I review books based on my likes and dislikes, my personality, my emotions and my faith.  You may read the same book and end up with an entirely different opinion of it. That being said, I’ll get on with my review.

The publisher, Zondervan, had this classified as Christian fiction.  In my opinion, it’s not.  I was deeply disappointed when within the first three pages, I was already offended by the language.  It was not what I expected to read in what I thought was a Christian book.  I managed to read about one third of the book before I realized I just couldn’t finish it.  Still, I skimmed the remainder of it, hoping that it would redeem itself and make reading it worth my while.  It didn’t. 

I think the author’s underlying theme is a good idea but I wish she had not been so secular in her presentation.  The main character is a former oscar winning actress who, after suffering sexual abuse, withdraws from society. She surrounds herself physically with a lot of junk, a representation of her life.  Her relationships are weird and uncomfortable.  She supports herself by being a paid escort.  It’s never really clear what that entails. We’re left guessing.

There is very little romance.  I’m still not sure about the outcome of her relationships. The only resolution in the story is her relationship with her mother, who she feels turned her back on her.  She in turn, turns her back on her mother.  I wish the character had been able to forgive her which would have been more in keeping with Christian values.

The writing style of this book was also not my cup of tea.  It seemed random and disjointed.  It didn’t flow.  I found myself having to re-read many portions to make sure I understood what it was about.

I don’t like writing a review like this, but when I signed up to do this, I promised I would be honest.  I’ve heard it said that while you can put the word Christian in front of anything, it doesn’t make it so.  That’s what I feel about this book.  The only mention of God in this book is when His name is used as a curse word.  My apologies to the author, but, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook and Thomas Nelson and Zondervan  through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen - a book review

This book is one of the best I’ve read in a while.  Julie Klassen weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue full of twists and turns and surprises. It’s a tale of secret rooms, hidden treasures, mysterious letters and hooded figures darting around in the dark.  The romantic aspect of the story is almost secondary to the mystery, but it’s always there, an unobtrusive foundation.  Her characters are interesting, believable, quirky, and flawed.  It’s very refreshing to read a story where the characters are imperfect, like the rest of us.

I also appreciated how the author presents sound Biblical principles via the curate’s sermons.  She balances the mystery, romance and faith aspects of the story like pieces of a puzzle that all fit together very nicely.

It’s very obvious that Klassen researched the time period thoroughly.  Her descriptions of the fashion and architecture of that day draws the reader back in time.

This is how the publisher describes it:

“Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
 Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...
 The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.
 Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?”

This book will keep you guessing to the end!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, December 07, 2014

An Amish Second Christmas - four novellas - a book review

This is a collection of four novellas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller,  Ruth Reid,  and Tricia Goyer all centered around the Amish tradition of the Second Christmas.  Christmas Day is reserved for remembering Jesus’s birth and the Amish try to keep it low keyed and faith centered.  The next day is what they call Second Christmas.  This is the day they ‘let loose” and celebrate.

Each novella is a stand alone story, long enough to be interesting and short enough to be a quick and easy read.  You’ll find smatterings of mystery, forgiveness, love, surprises, unexpected romance and most of all,  the thought that God always knows what is best even when it’s not what we expect.

At the end of the collection there is a section of recipes that are mentioned in each of the stories and at the end of each story there are questions for discussion groups.

This is what the publisher says:

"Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances. 
“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.
“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.
“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.
“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait."

This is a perfect book to read during this busy holiday season.  You can read one novella then come back later and read another one without feeling like you’ve been interupted.

You can purchase this book here or on Amazon by using the search box on the right side of this page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman - a book review and blog tour

Julie Lessman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  Her writing is imaginative, insightful and thorough.   This is the third book in her Heart of San Francisco series and focuses on the lives of the McClare family.  This story is basically a story about two women, Megan and her mother, Cait.  Each woman is wooed by two men and has to make a choice between them.  Lessman does a very good job of involving the reader in all the emotions that these women feel.  She develops the characters so completely that we feel we know them.  At the half way point in the book she has presented each man in a way that we are left to wonder who each women will choose.  At this point, each man, while imperfect, is likeable and a reasonable match for them.  I’m not going to tell you which man each woman chooses.  You’ll need to read it to find out.  The publisher says this:

She can turn the head of the man who spurned her--but can she turn his heart?

When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the exciting opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

Bram Hughes is the best friend to whom Megan has always turned for support and advice. But when she seeks his counsel about working with Devin Caldwell, Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man? “

The story is set in the early 1900’s and it’s obvious by the descriptive passages, that the author researched the time period. She even goes into detail about how an early automobile is started.  I will definitely be reading the first two of the series.

I encourage you to go HERE and read an excerpt then look around Lessman's blog and learn more about her other books.

You can buy this book by going to the Amazon search box on the right of this page or by going directly to the publishers website.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and Baker Publishing Group through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

How I turned and old window frame into a kitchen pot rack

I've always loved the look of those kitchens with the hanging pot racks, showing all their shine-y pots and pans.  Unfortunately, with the type of ceiling we have in our kitchen, a hanging one is out of the question.  So I've been 'racking' my brain (pun intended)  to come up with a solution for my cast iron pans.  They have lived on my stove top forever lately and I wanted them off but still handy. Those suckers can be heavy and awkward to lift the older I get.  I also wanted my fourth burner back! Here's what I came up with.  I started with this:
An old window frame with the broken glass removed.  It had been stacked outside behind our garage for several years but was still in good structural shape.  It just needed the old flakey paint brushed off.
My next step was to give it a coat of paint.  I wanted to use latex indoor semi-gloss but I couldn't find my can. (I know it's here somewhere)  So I used an interior/exterior latex enamel high gloss.  I love the high gloss finish.  I had originally bought this paint to use on the doors and trim in my kitchen but after painting 2 doors with it, I went out and bought the aforementioned, mysteriously missing semi-gloss.  The enamel was more difficult to work with, it's much thicker than semi-gloss and builds up on the paint brush very quickly.  It does, however, leave a glass like shine and a finish that is really easy to clean.  I like the look of weathered shabby you can get just by rubbing the paint on the wood leaving an irregular finish, but since this is an old  piece, it more than likely has lead paint in it and I wanted to completely seal it.
I covered my dining room table with newpapers and got to work.  I figured I'd also paint the paper towel holder while I was at it.  They required 2 coats and probably could have benefited from a third but I was ok with how they looked after 2.
My husband kindly cut me two pieces of peg board to fit in the spaces.

The picture on the right above shows how I used nails to hold the pegboard in.  I used about 3 nails on each edge. I just hammered them in on the back side at an angle and then wacked them flat.  
Almost done!  See those two little holes at the top?  There was some sort of locking mechanism there that I removed when I painted it. I liked the look of it so I ended up putting it back on.

The next step was to finally hang it on the wall.  I made sure the screws I used were long enough to get a good hold, since cast iron is pretty heavy.  My wall is plywood,  (yep,  plywood) so I didn't have to worry about finding a stud to screw it into.  I bought a variety of peg board hooks to use but ended up just using a couple types of them.  The ones on the left are what I used for the pans.  I also used another type that isn't pictured.  I don't know why, but I'm really intrigued by the ones in the center but I couldn't think of how I would use them.  I bought the screw in ones to use along the sides for pot holders or small utensils but as of now, I haven't needed them.

Are you ready???

Ta-da !!!
And, because I'm so happy with it, I took more pictures.......

I still need to paint over the dark screws in the corners but that will only take a few minutes.
What do you think?    I LOVE it!

I'd love to hear about your latest projects.  Leave me a comment and let me know.

I'm linked up here:

My Turn for Us
City Of Creative Dreams
Creativity Unleashed link party!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten - a collection of Christmas cheer

Where Treetops Glisten is a collection of three charming novellas centered around the Turner family. Each story is a heartwarming telling of the Turner family at Christmas time in the WW2 era told by authors Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin. Each author focuses on a different member of the family and tells their Christmas story. They take us on a nostalgic journey back in time, with all the stress and heartache that accompanied that time in history.  Through all the loss that war brings, we’re also reminded of the love and connection that family brings, especially at Christmas.  You’ll laugh, cry and rejoice together with the Turners as each of their stories brings them together in love and in faith. If you like the old movies form the ‘40’s, you’ll really like this collection.  Here is what the publisher says:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?”

Each one of these stories as just long enough to engage you in the character’s story but short enough to fit into your busy holiday schedule.  So turn off the TV Christmas romance movie. You know the ones I’m talking about.  It will be on again anyway (wink, wink),  DVR it or if you still have a VCR like I do, tape it for later. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and settle in for a touch of Christmas spirit.  You’ll be blessed!  Merry Christmas !

You can purchase this book from Amazon by going to the search box on the right side of this page. 

 I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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