Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #343

Well I cannot believe it is the last FFF of August, which essentially for me is the last FFF of the summer.  I know that summer technically goes until September 21 but for all intents and purposes the end of August is the end of summer for me.  Everything changes.  Kids go back to school, the easy, laid back days are over and the Dayhome takes on more of a purposeful, organized feeling about it, the nights are already cooler and getting dark so fast.  Activities start to pick up once again.  This is a perfect time to look for the blessings in this last week of summer ease.  Please join us.  Newcomers can link in the sidebar for the guidelines.

1.  Coffee Jelly.  Yes, you read that right.  Who knew there was such a wonderous thing?  My sis surprised me with some for taking care of her fur babies while she was on holidays in the Okanagan.Okanagan  They sure have all sorts of delicious stuff there and this Summerland Sweets company has some really unique flavored jams and jellies and syrups.    I'm thinking this is going to be really yummy in some thimble cookies at Christmas time!

2.  A really great weekend.  You know how sometimes things just all fall perfectly and produce a wonderful end result and you just know it was a blessing from God?  Well, last week was like that.  A perfectly wrapped gift handed to us.  It started with a great workout Saturday morning, then a fun matinee movie, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, with good friends.  Next was a wonderful cup of tea shared with said friends with lots of laughter thrown in.  And while we were at the show, another friend txted and asked us over for appetizers.  Another great couple of hours spent later in the evening with them.  Sunday was a great church service and then we just had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a long bike ride on Sunday.  Perfect weather for that...sunny yet coolish air.  Ending the weekend visiting with my mom and my sis's family.  Everybody's company and our activities were just a true blessing that weekend and I'm very thankful we don't have to do life alone.

3.  Getting off work a half hour earlier yesterday.  I know this may not seem like much, but it couldn't have happened on a better day!  I had so much to do, including 2 appointments and a library pick up that needed doing, right after work that day.  That measly little 30 minutes gave me some breathing space.

4.  Dwelling on summer memories.  Just looking through our summer pictures and dwelling on memories has brought smiles to me this week.  Though we didn't have an official holiday where we got far away for a week there were many wonderful day trips and family time and date time with hubby that I am so grateful for.  I can close off this summer with a very contented, thankful sigh.

5.  Vacuuming.  Quite a weird thing, but seriously, giving the house a good vacuum makes me feel peaceful.  Sometimes when the carpets are a mess, I get all agitated and I don't even know why.  And then I vacuum getting rid of those bits of everything and it's like a breath of fresh air.  I know weird, but really it does make me happy so it's a fave.  

What have been your favourite blessings this week?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart ~ A Review

Is what we remember and believe to be the truth in a tragic occurrence really truth or how we perceived it and want to believe?

 This is a story of 5 college friends, Adri who is a conservative young woman and her brother, Will, who were raised by their Christian father, Harper who is the wild child of the group, David who is son of very well to do parents who live in a castle-like mansion in town and for whom there is lots of expectations, and Jackson who is rarely mentioned. Adri has become a nurse and has moved to Africa to work with a charity but is called home after the death of the mansion's matriarch has made her an heir. We soon find out that Adri had been engaged to David and had actually fled to Africa following the death of her fiance and the story then starts to backtrack through Adri and Harper's viewpoints to the time of their college days where they met until the present where they both come back to the place they both swore they would never return to. Adri has not seen or talked to Harper since David's death even though they had been the best of friends in college so there is an air of mystery about that and what had actually happened to David. As the story unfolds there are sad and shocking revelations that play on the reader's emotions as and build up to why Adri and Harper no longer have contact. As they are forced to face their past they are also forced to face their guilt in the tragedy that caused them to go their separate ways.

 I usually love Nicole Baart's stories. Her writing is really good but I have to say this is definitely not my favourite of her books. I found I was just making myself finish the book because I usually do like this author's writing and I wanted to see what she would do with the characters not because I was loving the story or the characters involved. There were moments my attention was totally grabbed and then it would back off and I'd chug along until the next moment that it grabbed me. I didn't really engage or connect with either of the main characters unfortunately and I can't really state why. I found the ending did not reward me like I thought it would which is what I was hoping for in my determination not to put the book down. All that said, just because this particular story was not my cup of tea, I would still read the next book by this author.

I gave this book a 7.5/10

 Reading Challenge Goals Met: A book set somewhere I've always wanted to visit (Georgia), A book published this year, a book by a favourite author I haven't read yet, a book by a female author

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #342

Here's another addition of Friday's Fave Five.  Once again it has crept up on me. I don't know where my weeks are going!  But all the more reason to have a place to intentionally make note of the blessings in life lest they slip by without notice or thankfulness on my part.  Please join in as we take a peek over the week and find what was good.  If you are new the guidelines link in my sidebar.

1.  Homemade spaghetti sauce.  I don't know why I bother with the jar stuff when homemade is so delicious and fairly easy.   It just took a little time to simmer all those wonderful flavors together.  The hardest part was not constantly dipping into the pot to taste.  Add some meat and some cool shaped pasta to catch all that sauce and what a great meal.

2.  Homegrown tomatoes.  A friend gave us tomato plants at the beginning of the season, and the crop is coming in!  Everyday we go out and get a handful of delicious cherry tomatoes off the plant on the deck.  The bigger tomato plants are planted in my Mom's garden and they are starting to get ripe and delicious too!  There is nothing like a homegrown tomato.  Toasted tomato sandwiches, crowning bbq burgers, tossed in salads.  Yum!

3.  Taber corn.  Okay, it totally seems like all I think about is food, but seriously folks, August is corn season here and Taber corn is the best anywhere.  And because it's right in our backyard, we have corn stands popping up everywhere to buy the delicious golden cobs.  We've enjoyed the most tender peaches and cream corn, and this week the sweet golden corn has been knocking our socks off.  It's seriously so good, in reality, it doesn't need butter or salt, but hey, what fun is a cob of corn without being taken to the next level, right?

Photo courtesy of Canadian Badlands

4.  Warm days cooler evenings.  Once again it's been nice  to have nice warm days but the evenings are definitely cooling off which is really nice.  Letting fresh air in to cool off the house is something I prefer to air conditioned cold air.  

5.  Farmer's market trip.  How fun these trips are to pick up some yummy stuff.  There is just so much going on it's fun just to be there.  A quick lunch, Dave at the bbq booth, me at the Ukranian booth, a bag of spices, a couple bottles of gourmet olive oil.  It made for a fun road trip day.  It's really nice to get away a bit and just leave the pressures behind if only for an afternoon.

What were your favorites for the week?

Monday, August 17, 2015

A House Divided by Robert Whitlow ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:
A father's mistakes nearly cost his children everything. Now his children must unite to take on the most important case of their respective careers.

Corbin Gage is slowly drinking himself into the grave while running a small law practice in a small Georgia town. The assistant DA in the same community is his son Ray, poised for a professional breakthrough based on a job offer to work for the best law firm in the area. Roxy is Corbin's daughter, a rising star associate in Atlanta for an international law firm that specializes in high stakes, multi-million-dollar litigation. Against the advice of everyone in his life, Corbin Gage takes on a toxic tort case on behalf of two boys who have contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to an alleged chemical exposure. The defendant, a herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer company, is the largest employer in the area. Because of the lawsuit, Ray's job offer evaporates, forcing him to go to work with his father. Roxy's expertise in complex litigation draws her into the drama. As their investigation uncovers an audacious conspiracy to conceal dangers to their community, Corbin, Ray, and Roxy come to a personal treaty in their pursuit of justice. But they soon discover that burying a problem can have explosive results.

My Thoughts:  For the most part I really enjoyed this legal story that also delves into the issue of alcoholism and it's devastating effects on family.  Corbin is a crusty old lawyer who's law practice is barely treading water.  His relationship with his grown children is tenuous at best and pretty much non-existant at worst.  His son is a little more open to him than his daughter, who really resents his un-involvement in their growing up years due the alcohol and has written him out of her life.  Living in Atlanta she is pursuing partnership in a huge international high stakes litigation firm.  His son, who is also a lawyer, allows Corbin into his life due to the special relationship that Corbin has with his own son, but when Corbin cannot control his drinking even around his grandson, he might lose even that.  As Corbin's decisions start to spin out of control, and once again start to devastate all whom he cares about, he is forced to take a hard look at where his love of alcohol has taken him.  In the midst of all this he has taken on one of the toughest cases of his career and he needs the help of those he is alienating.

I found both the legal case and the personal story very interesting in the book.  This family must face real problems in their lives brought on by the alcoholism of their father and I thought their reactions and behavior rang quite true.  Corbin's journey to facing what his life and decisions had wrought upon his family drew me right in.  The influence of the mother, who was a Christian, on the family was also written well into the story.  Even though her death was a catalyst in the beginning of the story to set Corbin on his journey, her legacy of faith was woven into the lives of her family beautifully.  The only thing I didn't like about this story was the very beginning where there seemed to be quite a bit of  lawyer "language".  Not being exposed to much legal jargon I found it a bit tedious wading through that, but that slowed down as the story went on and then the book really picked up for me and drew me right in.

The book was provided free of charge by Thomas Nelson and the BookLook Bloggers program.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Sweet By & By by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck ~ Book Review

With having hand surgery and not being able to type and be on the computer for any length of time, unfortunately I got behind on my book reviews so there are going to be a few in the next couple of days.

The first book in a 3 book series, it was the last one I read. As I really enjoyed book 2 (reviewed here) and book 3 (reviewed here) I figured I would like to know the beginning of Jade's story. Jade is marrying into a well to do family. The furthest thing from her background. With a father who abandoned her when she was 8, and then having a hippie mom who constantly remarried and followed whatever fancy took her at the time, the only stable thing in Jade's life was her Christian grandmother. So when after college, Jade moved to a new town and became the owner of a antique and retro type store, she left the past in the past. But now with the fancy wedding her future mother in law is forcing upon her, she is confronted with having to invite her mother to the wedding. Which is the last thing Jade wants. Too much hurt and water has passed under that bridge and she will have too much explaining to do to her new family as she has hidden it all from them including her husband to be, granted them both agreeing to keep the past in the past. But when her mother shows up three weeks early with her own news, Jade has to come face to face with her past and hope when it all shakes out and settles she still has a marriage to look forward to.

 I liked this series and it was finally good to read the beginnings of Jade's story. The story is raw and honest in it's feelings. Jade faces many issues from her past that are now resurfacing after she tried so hard to bury them. As each one rears it's ugly head she is forced to resolve them. But her grandmother's Christian roots which she placed in her as a young girl, also come back to the surface and in doing so Jade must also face the hardest questions of why God would let all those things happen to her. Some of the reactions Jade had seemed a little immature for her age but then when one faced as much hurt as she did and then tried to bury it so deep I guess the emotions would also be immature as they were never dealt with. But it was a good story of pain, and redemption.

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  a trilogy (does finally finishing a trilogy count?), a book by a female author (bonus points for me:  it had 2 female authors!), a book out of the bottom of my TBR list

Linked at Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #341

Hi everyone. Welcome to another edition of Friday's Fave Five.  Please join us as we look for blessings big and small in our week.  This has been a bit of a tougher week for me so I'm really appreciating the discipline of this FFF.  I know as I look it will change my focus off the tougher, disappointing stuff and onto the good things.  Sometimes they just get a little buried in the trials of everyday and need a little intentionality (is that a word?) to dig them back out.

1.  A weekday dinner with friends.  Good friends of ours invited us over on Monday night for a bbq.  That is very much out of our norm...but it was actually very nice.  They made it for right after I get off work and cooked us up a delicious chicken dinner.  The company and conversation was wonderful and we were home plenty early enough in the evening that it didn't interfere with our winding down to get to sleep.

2.  Sparkling water.  Hubby and I have cut pop out of our diet but sometimes plain water just doesn't cut it on a blazing hot summer day.  I want a bit of fizz!  I found this Dansani Black Cherry and Nestle Raspberry Lime  Sparkling Waters.  No calories, no sugar, and no phony sweetener either.  So glad I found something that I actually like to fit into that beverage space.  I still miss my Pepsi Lime every once in a while but not as badly as I thought I would.

3.  Road trip to a Medieval Faire.  My sister asked us to go along and we agreed, though with a bit of trepidation.  Hubby and I really wondered how good it would be and what we had got ourselves into.  I'll tell more in another post, way too much for a FFF, but suffice it to say that it was so much fun!  In fact, there was so much that we missed and we will probably go back next year.  A very interesting culture, indeed!

4.  Cutting Board Find.  This might not seem like a big deal to some but I'm seriously pleased with it.  Hubby had bought me a good knife earlier in the summer (and can I say what a difference using a really good knife!!)  but I had such horrible cutting boards (ones covered in laminate) that even though it was a high quality knife it would still lose it's edge.  The guys at the knife store recommended a walnut cutting board, they said bamboo, which is really popular right now in cutting boards, was way too hard, and I couldn't afford the best which is an end grain butcher block type but their regular walnut cutting boards were crazy priced too.  Well, what did I find at the Midieval Faire mentioned above, but a wood craftsman who was selling cutting boards amongst other items!  And for a fraction of the price I got myself a really nice walnut cutting board similar to the pic below.  It is fantastic.  There is a really nice "bounce" to it.  It's really hard to describe until one works on it.  

5.  A good wasp trap.  Yes this makes my list.  I Hate wasps with a capital H.  And there is a myriad of them because of the hot, dry weather we are having.  Last year we found really good ones and in the first week I put it up it is filled.  So glad I bought a couple last year.  And enough talk about those nasty pests.

What have been your favorite blessings and good things this week?

Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #340

Hi everyone! Welcome Friday's Fave Five.  Please join us as we look back over the week and find the  blessings in our lives.   Again it will be short descriptions for me as my hand is still healing from surgery.  

1.  Coffee.  Plain ol' fresh ground coffee.  It's been getting me through the day.  This year was the first time in about 25 years I took 2 weeks off back to back.  It was needed this year due to carpal tunnel surgery.  But I got sooo out of routine, late nights reading and then lazy mornings sleeping in and sitting around took their toll and getting back to work this week was a killer.  That caffeine boost first thing in the morning and again in the early afternoon has been very much appreciated by myself and my foggy, sleepy brain.

2.  The Big Move.  On the long weekend we moved my son to where he'll be going to school for paramedic studies.  It was a jam packed weekend that went smoothly and without incident.  He's got a great condo with two friends who are brothers and have the same kind of values and goals as him.  And they are friends so he doesn't have to move in with strangers.   I'm very thankful that is off his to do list and he doesn't have to worry about housing anymore. 

3.  Family Bike ride in the new city.  Last week I had mentioned a favourite was a bike rack we had purchased.  Well it went with us as J. wanted his bike taken up in his move.  We loaded all of our bikes and took a couple hours Sunday morning to explore some of beautiful trails.  It was the perfect biking morning.  Sunny but not yet too hot.  The trails went through forest and through out a ravine so we went in and out of shade and sun.  We didn't even dent discovering all the trails we have in that city.  I loved it.  It's exactly why we purchased the bike rack.  I'm looking forward to using it even more.  And not to worry, I wore a wrist splint and made sure not to put weight on my right hand.  All went well.  Missing was our oldest, but hey, it was a little hard feeling sorry for her as the girl is in Paris!  Yes,  that Paris, 

4.  Safe travels.  To get my son to Edmonton, we had to drive a highway called the QEII, short for Queen Elizabeth II.  It is the busiest highway per capita in Canada and let me tell you, it is insane.  Drivers drive like crazy people.  It is fast, it is practically bumper to bumper, and it is nerve wracking!!  Getting off that highway always makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief.  I'm sure people drive it without giving it a thought, but coming from the slower paced southern part of the province I just am not used to that kind of driving.  

5. So far so good.  I think.  My appointment isn't till next week but my hand seems to be coming along quite well.  It gets tired and a little weak at times but for the most part if I'm careful to follow the recovery rules, it is doing good as far as I can tell.

What are your favourites from the week?