Friday, March 30, 2012

Faith filled Friday- my confessions

It seems lately I've been just drawn to learning more and delving more into my faith. It's great how God works.
I love Christian music. Most people don't openly admit such things, but I'm not ashamed as there are some pretty decent artists out there. I love the emotions I feel while thinking about the words and listening to the music. I just love the lyrics focused on something other than myself and problems in the world. Those that deal with problems are focused on redirecting those problems to the One who can fix them, making it a positive song. Yes, I know in life, not all things are hunky dory. Please, don't go there with me. I've got you. I hear you. No, life isn't easy and it isn't grand. It's hard. period.   I just know that when it's hard, I need to change my focus. Enter praise and worship music. There's just something about it.
 Oh yeah... maybe that's the focus on something other than the problem- it's on the Solution.

What is it about music that can move us? Add to that music about Someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine or dream and what He's done for you? Whew! Talk about overcome and overwhelmed. This is why on Sundays you'll find me in my pew, hands up or clapping to the beat and tears streaming. I'm not crying tears of sadness. I'm crying tears of joy, gladness, hope, love, gratitude.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seeing the blessings/Refocusing

Lately, there have been a lot of tears as friends are losing their jobs. Friends, acquaintances, doesn’t matter who you are or how I know you or how often we speak to each other, if we do at all. Please know I’m thinking of you and praying for you.

I think about what I would do in this situation, how devastated I would be and how in a way, it can be a blessing- a tremendous, awesome blessing! You may think I’m crazy because you’re wondering what will you do? How will you pay the bills? What’s going to happen next?  Please do not think I’m being flippant, I’m simply trying to see the positive- something I try to do often.
I see this as a blessing because I know Who I have put my trust and faith in. I know Him who controls all things and will work this situation out for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28). I know what HE did for us when hubby lost his job a few days after our son was born (and, yes, we are DEFINITELY a 2 income family).

While you can’t see it now, it is a truly awesome time in your life. You get to grow and develop, start fresh (which is a blessing and bother at the same time at times). You get to see God’s plan for your life work itself out. (Jer. 29:11) How cool is that?

This time is a bittersweet time. Bitter because at the moment, it stinks- hardcore stinks. Sweet because it allows God to work out His purpose for you (Jer. 29:11) and for you to let Him lead you and guide you, showing you His awesomeness, grace, mercy, and goodness. There is excitement in the unknown as He opens doors and shows you new things about yourself, your abilities and character, and most importantly Him – His Providence.
Yes, it’s hard, but it’s also fantastic. Praise God for what you have and what He’s going to do for your life. Don’t forget to praise Him every day and thank Him for working out what He will.  During this time of turmoil and upheaval, seek Him, praise Him, thank Him. (Jer 33:3, Phil 4: 4-8, 11-13, 19). Let Him work in you to prepare you for your future work.

Col. 1:11-12 is my prayer for my friends/coworkers/acquaintances/anyone going through this time. I love you all.

I’m giving you a playlist in this post to help in troubling times. It’s amazing! J

To help with worshipping and praising, I’m giving you a playlist in this post to help in troubling times. It’s a compilation of some of my favorites that help me refocus and realize it's all gonna be okay- not easy, but it will be okay.
1. Sovereign over us- Aaron Keyes
2. Because of Your Love -Phil Wickham
3. Blessed be the Name of the Lord - Matt Redman (what helped me when hubby lost his job a few days after our son was born. He was jobless for 2 years.)
4. Be My Everything - Tim Hughes
5. How He Loves- David Crowder Band
6. One Thing Remains - Jesus Culture
7. Mighty To Save- Hillsong
8.  Our God is Greater - Chris Tomlin
9. Your Love Never Fails- Jesus Culture

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cheap finds for the dining room.

We have a huge blank wall... yeah, you know the main focus wall... It's empty (aside from the 75 gallon aquarium). I've been looking for things to go on it.

   I was going to make a large artwork on canvas and still may, but I'm not sure. I have a few other ideas that may work. I kind of would like a paint chip piece, a painted piece, a focal piece and some random objects. I'm funky like that. This one I love!
Pinned Image
Image credit

Anyway, I was shopping at Marc's one day and got stuck in Aisle 1... you know, the junk aisle. I'm glad I did! I found this:

The kicker: It was $9.99. The dimensions are 36 x 36. Decent size, but not big enough. I'm off to find what else will work- Maybe make a mini wall art from paint chips. I'll let you see it all when it's put together... :)

Don't you love when you find deals like that?! We all know I do!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Pretzel Cookies

I've been working my way through the PW cookbook, but also through my list of goodies I've pinned on the joy/addiction that is Pinterest. This past week was my birthday and we had a meeting at work on my birthday. Since I knew I wanted to bring in a treat to share and celebrate with, I decided I would try the sweet pretzel cookies.
Image credit

The recipe was easy. I was surprised that it called for melting the butter instead of softening. That was a little different for me with a cookie. I must admit that I'm not the biggest baker, so I'm sure many others have made cookies like this. The flour and salt needed sifted, again, something I haven't done in a while and I don't even own a sifter! I simply used a metal collander to sift with.

For the pretzels, I very lightly crushed them so there would be pretty good size chunks. I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this aspect.

The one change I made was to forego adding dried fruit. I just didn't have any raisin or craisins in the house (which is rare). I should have added more chocolate chips, but instead, I added a few more pretzel chunks. Next time, I'll add more chocolate chips too.

At first, the dough was a little rough to work with after adding the pretzels, but part of that was because I added the pretzels after chilling it because hubby had eaten the pretzels I was going to use for this- resulting in an unexpected trip to the store for more pretzels. (Isn't that the worst?!)

It was also a little annoying to have to rotate the baking pan after 5 minutes of baking, but it made a difference.

This recipe was so delightful! It was tasty- the ultimate for that salty/sweet craving. Everyone who tasted one raved about how delicious they were. Totally amazing. Click here for the recipe.

I'm joining up with 33 Shades of Green-Tasty Tuesday. Jump on over to check out other great recipes!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dining room progress.... or lack thereof!

I haven't given up on the dining room yet. I just have to get my act together to get things on the walls and "git r done". Despite the fact I hate that saying, I just used it. The goal is to have a mostly complete dining room by the end of spring break. The only things I'm thinking that will not be complete will be the pieces of artwork on the big wall. I do have an idea for all of that though.

I've focused a lot on curtains and what color to paint the trim. I haven't decided on the paint color, but tomorrow hubby and I are going to Ace for the free quart of paint so decisions MUST be made.

My cousin works for a fabric shop, so I perused the website to find some cute fabrics. Here are some I found:
Hanging on the window... which to choose....

Don't forget the pretty white one!

A Dena Designs print... so many colors, so pretty, so easily dirtied by lil mans' hands.

Kind of cool.

How I love this Amy Butler print. So pretty.... So bright....

Another Dena Designs. Really calms the paint down.
So, those are what I've been looking at for a week. I think I've chosen. You'll find out soon enough!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Good Surprise???

For the past few weeks, my husband has been talking about putting the TV up on the wall instead of using the TV stand we bought from Ikea a few years ago.  I must admit- I am not a fan of TVs on the wall. UGH! They are not very attractive hanging there. Of course, they're not attractive on a TV stand either, but at least there aren't exposed wires and such.

One night last week, my husband decided to call up a friend and rearrange the living room to mount the TV to the wall and open up the room. I'm all for opening up this room. It's a long skinny rectangle and can be hard to work with.

There was a large hideous nonworking fireplace in the room a few years ago. It was literally about 3.5 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 4.5 feet tall. It took up a LOT of the room. I really wanted to keep it and fix it up to work with it, especially if we could get it working. I called out some chimney guys and we found that there was no way to get it working without spending $1500. I'm not spending that much on something I'm not fond of. So, hubby and I knocked it out and put up shelves to change up the room. (I know, many of you are screaming, but really, if you had an ugly brick nonworking fireplace that took up 1/4 of the room, you would have made a similar decision (I think)).  Here it is after we finished it.
The fireplace took up where the TV and half the chest are in this picture. It was up to the bottom of the top picture.

This is the view of the room from the shelving.
 Anyway, as I was saying before I ventured through a time warp, hubby on a whim decided he wanted to change up the room. I'm all for change, just hate the fact that the TV is possibly going to be hanging on the wall. Yes, it makes sense and everyone's doing it, but I go against convention at times.

So, the guys came over and they started working... and they worked and worked and worked. I didn't think it would be so much work, honestly. I woke up at 1:30 to the sound of drills. Yes, 1:30 A.M. The house was a MESS (notice the capital, bold, italicized letters). I peeked down the stairs (as you see lil man doing in the pic above). I almost fell down them in shock at how big of a mess there was. Mind you, lil man was asleep upstairs. If he would have woke, I'd have been pretty doggone ticked. Yes, I get that way in the middle of the night when I'm woken up by noise only to find a mess everywhere.... (breathe, breathe)... I'm okay now...

I figured they were done. The TV was on the wall and surely all they need to do is clean up. Right? Imagine my surprise on Sunday morning when I wake up to a kid with a fever and a downstairs that looks like this: (Needless to say, I wasn't pleased and this wasn't a good surprise)
AHHHH! no place to sit and cuddle lil man!

Be careful walking on the open floor! Parts everywhere!

Oh boy!

Then to see it spill over to the dining room (which needs finished)!!!

 It was clearly a mess. However, I know it often takes making a mess to make something better and more organized -right? I mean, you can't organize a junk drawer with the stuff in it- or can you??? Not the the living room was a large junk drawer.

After a week of working off and on on the project (It's hard to get everything done in a day when you work full-time), this is what it looks like:

View from loveseat and old fireplace wall.

Removed some shelves (for under TV) and lowered these. View from entry/stairs

My favorite things: those awesome green chairs- more on those later.
This is a much better surprise to come down to. A nice, clean, organized living room.... Ahh....
As you can see in the pic above, there are still exposed wires we need to fix. Hubby's working on it. The majority of what we have in the room are things we had, found thrifted, were given or got a great deal on. I loved that we were able to reuse the shelves in other places. Now to just clean up a little of those wires and darker things. Maybe I could make a cool TV cover/artwork like Maria at John's Journal did with hers.

Image from John's Journal

Although, I'm not sure what would happen with that painting when the TV was on, which is every night. It might get to be a pain to remove and replace all the time. Still considering it though.

So, what are your thoughts- pleasantly surprised/none-to-pleased?  I'm curious! :) Leave a comment below. 

Oh! I do know it seems weird that I tagged this in 2012 goals, but we are getting organized through this project- Now to tackle that ugly Little Tikes toy box into something else.

All Tangled Up!

Remember how I said I was going to take a Zentangle class at the library? Remember how I was nervous I would be the oldest there? Also remember how I was nervous I wouldn't be able to do it? If not, go here; however, I did it, I made a fun Zentangle, I wasn't the oldest!

So, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I headed over to the library for the class I registered for. I was excited (kind of bummed for being inside on a nice day for an hour). I walked in and introduced myself. Only to find I was the only person there up to 3 minutes before class began. Eventually, 2 other women walked in. Both were older than me and seriously creative and artistic people- something I'm not, but I'm trying to tap into these abilities.

I was certainly not the oldest. In fact, I was the youngest! Yippeeee!!

The instructor, Carole Bailey-Floyd, was such a delightful and unique soul. She was so encouraging and optimistic about my ability to complete a Zentangle.  I was seriously afraid that I would disappoint her.

In the class description, it stated to contact her for registering for the class. I did. There was no mention of a fee for materials or anything, so I brought what I thought I would need- pen and paper. Imagine my surprise when I get to the library cashless and Carole passes out the materials we'll be using while collecting the class fee. Insert sheepish grin here as I mention that I do not have any cash (or checks) on me, which is my MO. Carole was fantastic about this. She simply gave me the materials, said don't worry about it just send a check in the mail to her sometime. How gracious is that! Then she told me not to fret and just relax and enjoy myself.

The materials were wrapped up in these cute little purple boxes. When you opened, there were 2 purple business cards, a small pencil, pencil sharpener, artist's eraser, 3 Zentangle tiles (9cm square piece of paper), and a cool micron 02 pen. What a beautiful presentation. Then she passed out step by step instructions for 8 patterns.

I heeded her advice and had a TON of fun while creating a fantastic little diddy. It's not perfect, it's not supposed to be. It's simply something I made and had fun doing. In one hour, I learned the history of Zentangle, history of the teacher, history of other students, and created my first Zentangle.
My first Zentangle.
At the end of the class, we ccombined our creations and stated what we liked about each one. I was so glad that they found things they liked about mine, especially since one was a graphic artist and the other was a painter or some kind.

I didn't get enough time to finish coloring in what I wanted, but easily completed that at a restaurant that night while hubby was playing a game of pool with friends. The unfortunate thing was I lost the lid to my box! It was accidentally thrown away when I went to the restroom and the waitress cleared the table. Now, I'm in search for a new little box to carry in my bag and pass time while waiting for things. This is a great way to pass time if you don't have a book or simply want to do something other than read.

If you want to learn more about Zentangle, visit

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Photography- What I'm working on

Let me begin by saying this is not a photography blog and I am in no way a professional photographer! No way! However, I've been slowly working my way through the 2010 31 days series through Life with my 3 Boybarians and am trying to apply the things I'm learning to my experience with my little point and shoot camera. I'm stuck on aperture, but revisited shutter speed and some different settings on my lil camera. Here's what I have from the park the other day.... Enjoy!

Playing with texture. I love this and it's simple wood chips in the playground.

Can't remember what I was playing with.... oops!

Playing with shadows...

Playing with shutter speed - obviously I left the shutter open too long. I'll get it eventually, but I love this pic. Look at the brilliance of those blue eyes!

I love pics like this- kids walking away. I don't know why, but it's appropriate as they age and mature- each day they take a step further from dependence upon us.

I can't remember what I played with here. I think just a new setting. He's so cute!

Playing with shadows- lil man swinging....

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Time Flies!

Wow! I can't believe it's been so long since my last post! That's not like me. This is my creative outlet and I usually like to spend at least 1-2 days a week writing. For some reason it just hasn't happened as it normally does. Maybe it's because there was a rampant illness in our house with our 2 year old, stress at school, a lot of work, the fact we rearranged the entire living room (pics coming soon) and have been hunting for decor for the dining room. Not to mention is was hubby and my birthday this past Wednesday. Fun fun! Yes, we share the same birthday and it's the same day as Pi day and Einstein's birthday!

Another thing I've been up to is finding classes to take that would allow me to create simple artwork at home for free or very cheaply.

I'm not a creative person. Most of the crafts I do are from things I find on Pinterest. I'm definitely not an artist. That's just something that I thought I did well in in high school until a teacher cut down my favorite piece of work. :( I'm slowly bringing myself into this freedom to try things even if they are not widely accepted, known, or appreciated. With the help of a dear art teacher friend, I'm mustering up courage to try things I've never done and would never think of... like Zentangle.

The story behind my interest here is because while I was in the library one day, I saw a poster with Zentangle written on it and some cool drawings posted around it. I was curious, but didn't think anything of it other than "that's cool". Time goes by... like I said, it flies... I look at the library schedule to see what kind of events are coming up to see that there is an actual class people can take through the library for free that is about how to create a Zentangle. This piqued my interest further. Let's face it, I'm a total nerd for all things- cooking, sewing, crafting, art, reading, anything really- I was really interested. I decided that I would do this in March.   Guess what? It's March... not only is it March, but tomorrow is the third Saturday in March, which means it's Zentangle day!

Tomorrow I will set foot into an area where I have 1% confidence ( I can't say 0 confidence because I wouldn't take the class if there weren't some smithering of desire to learn and try). I'm hesitant for a few reasons:
1. what if I'm the oldest person there? The ages say 7 and up.
2. Seeing a blank anything freaks me out. What am I supposed to put on that blank canvas when I'm not uber creative or able to draw a doggone thing???? Now I'm really wondering what I'm thinking (other than it will be fun to hear about and attempt).
3. .... okay so those are my biggest concerns.

Overall, I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping all is well as I was supposed to register for this class earlier; however, I just registered 24 hours in advance via voice mail. Hopefully she gets my registration and I don't need to take anything with me when I go... or else I may be in trouble!

Other things I'm thinking of trying: scarf dying (next Wednesday), learning more about oil and acrylic paints, pottery for lil man, and photography for me. (Stay tuned for what I'm working on through my online photography tutorial - you know the 31 days series I told you about but I've turned into 90 days right now???? That's the one!).  I just like to learn and take advantage of free things. I just can't believe how quickly things are coming up on me though! Time really does fly. Whew, before we know it, I'll be on summer break and hitting up those garage sales!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tasty Tuesday Italian Wedding Soup

I love soup in the winter. There's nothing like it. We generally have it once a week between September and March. No lies there. Hubby has learned to love soup because of this. Shoot, some days, he comes home and asks for a certain kind of soup. Finally, something we both agree on for dinner!

I wanted to make a new soup. I saw this recipe at Tracey's Culinary Adventure for Italian Wedding Soup. I decided to try it. It has some of my favorite things in it: kale, garlic, pasta and carrots. I'm good with that!
Italian Wedding Soup

The recipe was easy to make. The most time consuming part of it was making the meat balls, which really wasn't that bad. They are made with ground pork. I had never heard of such a thing or worked with such a thing, so it was a new experience for me.

Overall the recipe was easy to make and pretty tasty. It didn't take long to make.  Hubby and my Italian sitter loved it. They couldn't get enough of it. I, on the other hand, felt it needed something more to it. I don't know what, well, I think it could have used onion, more garlic, and possibly a little finely diced sauteed celery. Toss in some parsley and life would be grand. I must confess that I was also under the spell of a sinus infection and therefore had issues with tasting things. Lil man liked it and ate it- that's a bonus.

If you would like to try it, click the link here or above to find the recipe. She also took that beautiful picture above.

As always, I'm joining up with 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday. Come on over and see what others are making!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saving Myself in the Kitchen

Many of you know me as a couponer. I have a confession, I'm not couponing as much as I used to. Whew, did that feel good to get off my chest. I feel slightly guilty about it, but I haven't stopped altogether, I just don't let it take as much time as I used to. Not that it was that long, just that while working, I can't do it all any more. Another reason is because my lil man has food allergies which encourage us to eat more fresh foods and foods that are allergen free. Let's face it, it's not frequently that you get coupons for organics (yes they are out there but not in abundance) and fruits and veggies.

My life changed when a friend introduced me to a great cooking blog by a chef in this area. I started to peruse her site to get ideas for meals for kids with allergies. There weren't a ton, but there were many recipes that I wanted to make despite the fact that they are not E friendly. So, I did. In the process, I stumbled upon her posts about meal planning and how it helps her keep her budget down, organized, etc. I decided I would try it because I was sick of getting home and not knowing what I was going to cook. (Anyone else feel me there?) I mean, I have 2 boys (hubby and lil man) who want meat and potatoes, not a bagged salad with frozen Tyson chicken on top. Not only that, let's face it, going out to eat gets boring and expensive.

Meal planning revolutionized my kitchen and cooking experience. Where I wasn't excited about being in the kitchen before, I was now getting excited. I knew what I was doing and made sure I had all the ingredients (imagine that! Some days I still miss something- hubby will testify to that). Everything is beautiful and efficient with meal plans. The meal planning not only made me more organized in the kitchen to know and have everything ahead of time, it also started to change my shopping routine. Instead of buying a myriad of things that I may not need but seem interesting, everything had a purpose. I was actually saving money because I was buying what I needed for meals instead of just what was on sale but I couldn't make a meal out of. I still clipped coupons and still do, I just don't make it the number one priority anymore.

Meal planning has made it to where when hubby asks what's for dinner, I can easily spout it off or simply say "look at the calendar". I love it! Oh! Yes, I write the meal plan on my shopping list then transfer it to the calendar that hangs in the kitchen by the fridge so I know if I need to put anything out to thaw or not.

How often you plan for is up to you. I plan for 7- 8 days (just in case I don't go to the store on my regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon trip). You save more money when you plan around the sales at your grocer. You'll be more prepared for pot lucks (at least if you know in advance). There are a lot of pros to it. You don't have to feel like you have to make something new each week, but if you want to, this allowes you to. You could even do themed nights (Taco Tuesday, Meat free Monday, Free Friday (left overs, pizza, etc), Wacky Wednesday (new recipe night)). I don't really do it this way. My cheat days are Fridays and Sundays for the most part. Definitely Sundays. I don't really cook that day with preparing for the week.

The one thing I learned in the past 5 months I've been doing this is that it's best to leave at least 1 day for left overs and 1 day for an easy meal (grilled cheese and soup, breakfast, whatever). You'll be eating out less often by meal planning and feel good about what you're doing. Give it a shot for a month and see what you think.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My meal plan go tos

I love to cook- most days. Some days, I'm not into it. Lately, I'm having more of those not into it. It could be because I'm super busy with work and just want to spend time with my lil guy. I don't know. I'm just low on energy lately and that may play a role in it as well.

Anyway, on those weeks/days when I'm not so into it, I turn to a favorite thing- crock pot chicken. Yep, a whole fryer chicken that I simply place into the crock pot and let cook for 9-10 hours. It's simple and easy. All you do is get the chicken, remove the innards and neck, rinse, place in crock pot and put a lil water in (if you like- otherwise, spray the pan and you get more of a roasted chicken according to things I've read). Be sure to turn it on and allow a lot of time to cook.

Once this chicken is done, I simply take all the bones out- which they usually the meat falls off the bones with no problems and serve with whatever. Then, after dinner, I take what is remaining and divy it up into freezer bags. I can freeze it or save if in the fridge for the rest of the week. By the way of meal plans, here's what it looks like:

Day 1: Crockpot chicken with sides
Day 2: Chicken enchiladas (boy do I have a go to recipe for you guys for these. It's the only one I use- time consuming if you let it, but doing it this way is easier and less so).
Day 3: chicken tortilla soup
Day 4: left overs- there is sure to be some!

Usually, it lasts 3 days and we have left overs on those days. Now, if you have a larger family, this may not work as well, but you may be able to get 2 days of recipes out of it especially if you use it in chicken spaghetti or soups.

Now, I could go buy a rotisserie chicken which may be a little cheaper in perspective, but it doesn't always have as much meat on it and I don't always want to have the rotisserie flavor in my chicken recipes. I've actually had a few that were dried out. Plus, it requires another trip to the store. I confess, I'm lazy.

Pork roast lends itself to similar set ups.
Day 1: put in crock pot for shredded pork sandwiches. I use Pioneer Woman's recipe because it's versatile instead of just bbq.
Day 2: Pork tacos or pork with rice
Day 3: Use in soups
Day 4: left overs.

These are the easiest meal plans I make. Simple, use up what I have in the house and not too time consuming. On a night when you don't want to cook but want a decent meal, this is an easy go to (okay, aside from breakfast for dinner (brinner as I like to call it)).

I make sure to stock up when I see both the fryer chickens and the pork roasts on sale or BOGO. Definitely worth buying and tossing into the freezer for later use. By the way, my confession, I do this set up at least once a month.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: The Forgotten Garden

Last month,a friend and I started our first book club. It was sooooooo much fun. At our initial meeting, we just simply discussed our reading backgrounds and got to know each other. We put titles of books into a jar and pulled one at the end of the night to see what our first book would be. It was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
Picture from here

What a terrific book to start our book club with. This is a truly beautiful work. I loved everything about it. At times, I wanted it to move out of the garden more, but by then end, I was glad the author spent as much time as she did in there. Afterall, Cheri, the book is called the Forgotten Garden. Duh!

This is a tale about 4 women and how their lives were connected. Rose, Nell, Eliza, and Cassandra. The story spans over 100 years. It starts with Nell, as it should. She is an interesting character and I'm not sure I agree with her choice when she finds out that she was taken from a ship. Taken, as in, stolen when no one came to claim her on the ship dock. Ya see, Nell is placed on a ship by a mysterious woman and told not to move. The ship sets sail and lands in Australia (from England) in 1914. The dock worker sees the girl sitting on the dock long after the passengers have left. She is, of course, abandoned. He takes her in. He and his wife raise her as their own only to tell her at the age of 21 that she was taken and they are not her real family. She sets off on a course to find her real family. I can't tell you if she does find it or not- for to do so gives away too much of the plot in my opinion.

Nell passes (in the first 2 chapters) and Cassandra is left to pick up the pieces in 2005 to find out what was up with Nell. Cassandra is Nell's granddaughter. I enjoy her story as much as I did Nell's and Rose's and Eliza's. Cassandra goes on an adventure and finds out the truth to the whole story about Eliza and Rose and their connection to Nell's story and Nell.

Oh, the book is amazing. It weaves such a beautiful tale. What you should know is that Mrs. Morton writes each chapter from a different era; therefore, each chapter is about one of the 4 women and in a new setting. At first, I wasn't sure I liked it, but in the end, I wouldn't change it at all. It helped to keep up the suspense and "What!!! You gotta be kidding me" factor.

If you like Victorian era/historical fiction, scandal, mystery and drama, as well as a beautiful story that is exquisitly written, this is definitely a book to check out. I'm in love with it. Yep, it's in my top 20. Go get it, read it, relish it, and fall in love with this fascinating tale.
If you want more information on the author or the book, visit her site:

It certainly set the bar high for our next pick!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thanks for making a difference

While on my way in to work today I was listening to a radio station that gives out a website of the day. Today’s website was about mentoring teens. I haven’t checked it out yet, but the plug for it made me think.

In light of all that has happened in our Northeastern Ohio area (Chardon school shooting), people are finding ways that they can make a difference and help out- to come together as one unit/community to help those in need, hurting, or seeking answers. There is no doubt that the student who chose to do such an act of insensitivity and violence surely needed a mentor or someone to help him with whatever issues he may have had. It’s possible that maybe he simply needed someone to talk with to help him feel at ease with all he is going through. Teen years are hard. Certainly not a time in my life I would want to relive. However, despite this tragedy, people are trying to reach out not only to his family, the victims’ families and the community, but to other teens like him through counseling, support, mentoring, whatever they are able to do.

  The plug for the website shared this sentiment. While it may be a little late for helping this teen make a better choice and those affected, it’s not too late to start to make a difference with others in your area that you can influence. The broadcasters mentioned a book by Denzel Washington, A Hand to Guide Me. In it, short stories about people are told related to people who made a difference in their lives and how it helped them to become they person they are today. They continued by saying that at some point or time in our lives, we all have a mentor to help and guide us. It made me think “Who were my mentors?” Yes, I’ve had more than 1 as I’m sure you have!

At this time, I would like to thank those who helped me become the person I am today.
First and foremost, my mom and grandma. Without them, I don’t know where I would be. They helped me see the importance of family, as well as all the responsibilities that come with being a mom and that it’s truly a joyous job regardless of how much heartache, frustration, and work it may seem as you go through it. They are filled with unconditional love, wisdom and guidance. Let's face it, in a time of need, who do I call? One of them. They are amazing women who have shown me not only that mothering is a lifelong job, but also the heart of a wife. That love is shown in all the menial jobs we may do: scrubbing the toilet, tub and any other surface in the house, the never ending dishes that need constant washing, the love that goes into cooking a meal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Next, Pastor Bob Brubaker. Without him, I don’t think I would have grown in Christ as I have. I certainly doubt I would have the faith I do today without him teaching me about how immensely Christ loves us. It’s definitely more than we could ask or imagine. Before meeting Bob, I had given up on church. Stopped going. Stopped everything related to church and religion. I still believed in God, I just didn’t get it. Choosing to go back to church with my every praying and faithful mom let me meet Bob, which lead me to my life today. Bob didn’t really do this, but in showing me that God has a purpose to my life that I can find if I seek it, he brought me to a relationship with God that allowed me to listen and follow what I felt was my calling in life. God did it, not Bob. Bob was the messenger and I’m forever grateful for that.
 His wife, Jan, thank you. You taught me the importance of hospitality and being a gracious hostess. What a gift God has given you!
There are more, but I'm saving some of those for a later post as well. I would go on for a while if I didn't.
Thank you to those of you who have made a difference in someone’s life. It really could mean the difference between a fulfilled life and one of just living. As parents, we all have to remember that we are not only parents to our children, but also role models and mentors. We need to make sure that we do the best we can for our family in order to help each member feel valued, secure, and loved unconditionally. If we all were granted this, imagine what our community/world would be like. Take time to invest in someone- your children, a teen across the street, someone at church. Let them know there are people who care and are willing to help. Hopefully, with such actions, foolishness and folly will fall by the wayside over time.