Friday, 17 October 2014

Book Review: Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

About the book: 

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?

My Thoughts: I like romance, and historical fiction, particularly war time history, and have long been a fan of both Tricia Goyer and Sarah Sundin (Cara Putman was new to me) - so this was looking like a sure thing.  I was not disappointed.

Three novellas centered around three different siblings written by three different authors was a great concept, and one that worked well.  Though there was a slightly different feel to each story, they still felt cohesive.

If you're looking for a book to read to put you in the Christmas mood, look no further!

My favourite?  Tough one, but I'd say I'll Be Home for Christmas by Sarah Sundin.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Book Review: Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

About the book: Children ages 4-8 will be delighted by these rhyming Bible stories pairing spiritual truths with playful illustrations.
Featuring lyrical stories full of lighthearted moments, this colorful collection of Magnificent Tales is perfect for reading out loud. As families read these stories night after night, they will make memories together while learning about the Bible.

My Thoughts: I love Bibles, especially children's Bibles.  We have several and The Jesus Storybook Bible is likely my favourite, but this one is quickly becoming a close second.  

The first time I read this to my 6 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter, I literally read over 100 pages and they still weren't done - but my voice was!

It's difficult to rhyme, nevermind rhyme with accurate theology, but this storybook Bible pulls it off.  There's even a list of animals from a-z in the creation story which I thought was a tremendous feat on it's own, but even more so with the rhyming verses.  

The artwork is completely engaging and fun as well.

This Storybook Bible will be well used in this household, that's for sure!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

From Pinned to Practice - earring display

Finally, another episode of "From Pinned to Practice"!

I've always had a major earring sensitivity.  Nickel free doesn't cut it, it's gold or white gold only for this girl, which makes for some expensive earrings and not very many of them to choose from.  I even tried stainless steel and sterling silver, to no avail.  One day I emailed a local jewelry maker and asked her if she had any ideas of another material I could use that wouldn't break the bank.  She had two ideas and so I purchased two pairs of earrings from her, hoping one of the options would work.  Turns out, they both did!  The titanium was the best so I decided to stick with that.  I then proceeded to send her all of my cheap earrings and replace the hooks with titanium ones - I was so excited to get them back and have earring options!  But then the problem was - how to display them?!  Especially the longer ones that get a bit tangled if you just throw them in a container.

So, I turned to Pinterest.  And found this.....


Click Pic for 33 Creative DIY Jewelry Organizers | DIY Jewelry Storage Ideas - Dangling Earring Organizer  | DIY Storage Ideas for Small Spa...

and this....
Jewelry Organizer Pegboard
and this....


I was recently out on a girls weekend with my best friend and I had mentioned this idea to her.  With a little bit of prompting by her, along with a generous offer to use her just purchased blue burlap, I picked up a cork board (Hobby Lobby) and 3 charm necklaces (Joanne's Fabric).  When we got back to the hotel we decided to do a bit of crafting!  I asked the guy at the front desk if I could borrow his scissors and we quickly cut the right amount of blue burlap.  When I returned the scissors I thanked him for lending them to me, he thanked me for returning them, and I asked to borrow a stapler!  After completing the project, I returned the stapler and he asked if we needed any paper clips! Ha ha.

When I got home, I mounted it on the wall (came with double sided "tape"), hung up the necklaces with a few tacks, inserted the earring hooks into the chains, and voila!


I love it!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Review: Before Amen by Max Lucado

About the book: We all pray . . . some.

We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.

But wouldn't we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?

Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.

We aren't the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.

And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn't we use the same?

In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.

My Thoughts:  Like all Lucado books, I found this to be a quick, yet thought provoking read.  Somehow Lucado is able to hit home with solid truth, without coming across as a heavy book on theology (not that those don't have their place!). This is a book written to a large audience, to anyone who simply wants to talk to God as a child does with his dad, because that's what prayer is.  Nothing in this book is revolutionary, or even anything new, but it's a simple reminder of things we know but have maybe forgotten.

Lucado sums up, and then unpacks, the Lord's prayer into short, pocket-sized prayers.  Father, you are good. I need help.  Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book....

If prayer depends on how I pray, I'm sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, and if the One who hears the prayer is my Daddy, then I have hope.

The storm was bad, but the pilot was good....everything changes when you know the pilot.

The moment you sense a problem, however large or small, take it to Christ.

Jesus will heal us all ultimately.  Wheelchairs, ointments, treatments, and bandages are confiscated at the gateway to heaven.

Confession is not a punishment for sin; it is an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted.

More than a hundred times, either by imperative or example, the Bible commands us to be thankful. If quantity implies gravity, God takes thanksgiving seriously.

Prayer changes things because prayer appeals to the top power in the universe.....The phrase "In Jesus' name" is not an empty motto or talisman. It is a declaration of truth: My cancer is not in charge; Jesus is.


Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A Simple Woman's Daybook - August edition


Outside my window...
The sudden afternoon rainstorm is over, giving way to blue skies with some white fluffy clouds.

I am thinking...
That I am overwhelmed by how much I have not yet accomplished for this summer that I had originally planned.

I am thankful...
For family visiting from the West.

In the kitchen...
Couple things still need to be handwashed, and my island is rather cluttered, as usual.

I am wearing...
Workout gear - black capris and coral tank top

I am creating...
Three hair do's for three girls and a video they're making.

I am going...
to relax and watch some TV tonight - Bomber game, Amazing Race Canada, and possibly Castle.

I am wondering...
how long it will take to catch up on my office work

I am reading...
way too much instead of working

I am hoping...
to find my motivation

I am looking forward to...
going out tomorrow with Emma for our annual mother/daughter day - optometrist, dentist, lunch, shopping

I am learning.....
John 1-3.  Memorizing it in moral support of Emma as she's memorizing it in order to go to the youth retreat for free.

Around the house...
let's not go there

I am pondering...
the sadness of suicide (with the recent news of Robin Williams death).  What I find the most sad is that he likely ended his life thinking nothing could possibly be worse than what he was currently experiencing, but (unless he cried out to God in his final moments) he has just discovered how much worse it can actually be, except now it truly is never-ending.  So sad for the families of everyone (whether well-known or unknown) who has lost a family member this way. Thankful for God's mercies which are new every morning - great is His faithfulness.

A favorite quote for today...
Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

One of my favorite things...
relaxing by our pool in this beautiful summer heat

A few plans for the rest of the week:
day out with Emma tomorrow, more swimming, a niece's birthday party, Tinkertown and other get togethers with out of town family

A peek into my day...


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Book Review: Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

About the book: 


His mission.
His team.
Captain Dean Watters keeps these parts of his life in laser-like focus. So when hackers threaten both his mission and his team, Dean's Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Ten military super-secure computers are missing-which if opened, would give America's enemies a blueprint of US military intelligence. Failing to stop the hackers isn't an option.
Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. She's also a target. Her expertise in quantum cryptology makes her an unwitting pawn in the hackers' deadly game. They're coming for her, and Dean and his team must stop them.
Before the team can get to Zahrah, she disappears. Now Dean must race to rescue her and stop the hackers from unleashing terror on millions across the globe. But to do so, Dean will be forced to crack open the steel box around his heart-a move that might come at the highest cost.

My Thoughts: Along with historical, romance, and drama - I also really enjoy action movies and books.  Especially when it combines suspense and action with faith and even a little romance.

The realities of military life are not glossed over in this book, neither are the faith struggles that can go along with this reality.  Though this is a work of fiction, it still pays tribute to the sacrifices made by our military heroes.

I enjoyed the story line, the characters, the relationships, the suspense (the mole!), the writing - everything!   This was my first read by Ronie Kendig but it won't be my last.


Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy

Book Review: Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett

About the book: 

Abby's shattered faith in both God and man is challenged when the terrible earthquake hits 1906 San Francisco.
While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn't expect, however, is for God's answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby's feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?

My Thoughts: I really love reading historical fiction, especially when the author does her job well and you feel transported back in time as though you were there yourself.  Barnett achieves this and more in this great read.  

I also enjoy it when books explore theological issues such as, in this case, God's sovereignty throughout the good and bad in our lives.  Barnett addresses this but does so in a way that doesn't make it feel like a heavy or ponderous read.  God is with us, He is good, and He is faithful.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Flexi-Clip Winner!

The winner of my Flexi-Clip giveaway, courtesy of independent Lilla Rose consultant Emily Anne, is....

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Congratulations Dana!  I will email you to let you know, and forward your email address to Emily Anne.  Have fun picking your prize!

And, more good news for the rest of the participants in the contest - Emily has generously offered a 10% off coupon to everyone who participated - thanks Emily!  To use it you'll have to contact Emily via Facebook and arrange the order with her, citing coupon code TAMMY10 - happy shopping!  Coupon is valid for 30 days.


Friday, 13 June 2014

Book Review: All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti

About the book: A new life and a new identity can't protect Becca from a past that refuses to go away.
After spending years running from the shame her father put on her family, Jayne is determined not to let him steal her future in the same way he stole her childhood. Changing her name to Becca Morrow, she moves to California and settles into a new life and new job caring for ailing mother of handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes.
But just as she's wondering if she and Isaac are headed for a relationship, Becca's patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage threaten to destroy all sense of home and all hope for love.

Even if she could clear her name, a phone call wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her estranged father needs her help. But can Becca open her new life to the man who ruined her past?

My Thoughts: As far as I can recall, I've never read anything by Cynthia Ruchti before, but after reading this novel, I'll definitely be looking for more of her books.  This was just such a well-written story and I could not put it down - I was so swept away by the storyline and completely invested in the character's lives and how things would play out.

I particularly appreciated how sensitively the author handled the topic of dementia, and the importance given to the value of all human life.  She wrote in such a way that made the characters seem completely authentic as we watched them grapple with numerous issues including adoption, faith, healing, euthanasia, forgiveness, responsibility, and the struggle to find out what it is that makes us who we are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.



Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lilla Rose Flexi-Clip Review and Giveaway

An online friend of mine recently became an independant Lilla Rose consultant.  When she offered me two of the clips to do an online review and a giveaway, I jumped at the chance!

We have many different hair types in our family, so it was interesting to see how the flexi clip worked with our girls' hair.

She sent me both a medium and an extra-small flexi-clip (sizes range from mini to mega) - the sizes are engraved right onto the clips, which is convenient.

The same day the clips came in the mail, I tried the medium on Emma's hair in a tails up hairstyle - doesn't it look great?!  Emma's hair is thick, curly, and has a coarse texture - the flexi-clip worked great.


I wasn't so sure the clips would work in my hair.  I general don't wear clips because my hair is quite fine and slippery, so they just don't work - at least not to secure the hair (I do wear clips as accessories, but they're not what holds my hair in place).  Well, the Lilla Rose flexi-clip works! The clip has kept my hairstyles secure all day long - with no sliding or flopping.

I've worn the XS in a half up....

  
And also to hold a twist.....

I think I'm going to have to get myself a size S yet as well - the XS is just a little small for a full pony tail in my hair.  And this is such a quick and easy way to turn a regular old ponytail into something a little extra.

Olivia's hair is thicker and curlier than mine, but also quite slippery.  Flexi-clip works for her hair too!  Here is the XS in Olivia's hair....


Check out my friend Emily Anne's Facebook page or her website to check out all the amazing styles available.

I prefer simple designs in either silver, black, or white - but they have lots of colourful options for those of you who are more adventurous!

They have several other products including headbands, bobby pins, and more.  Check them out! (Click on the "Go Shopping" link to see specific products)

That leads me to the giveaway portion of this post!  Yes, Emily Ann has graciously allowed me to host a giveaway.  The giveaway is open to new Lilla Rose customers (so as not to steal clients from other consultants) who live anywhere in the US or Canada, and the winner will receive a product of their choice from Emily's site, up to a $16 value.

How to enter?

Normally, when I do my own giveaways, I simply have you comment on my page and that's it, because I want the winner to be one of my regular blog readers.  However, for this giveaway, the purpose is to spread the word about Emily's new business, so we're going to go that route....

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the contest.  You can get up to 3 entries....
1) One entry for commenting on this blog and sharing which one of the items on Emily's page is your favourite.  This is not written in stone - you can pick something else if you end up winning the giveaway. I just want to make sure you've taken a bit of time to browse her site.
2) One entry for liking Emily's Facebook page.
3) One entry for sharing this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (only one of them, whichever is your social media outlet of choice) with a link back to this blog.

The contest will be open for 1 week.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for providing me my complimentary clips Emily!  Now to figure out what I'd like to get next....

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