Friday, July 01, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #386

Well I'm a little late to the party, aren't I ?  I had totally forgotten what day it was .   Today we are celebrating Canada Day and having a stat holiday and day off on a Friday has sort of thrown me for a loop.  But nevertheless, it's Friday and still a good time to look over the week and remember blessings even though the posting of them is late.

1.  Canada Day.  Of course this tops the list this week.  So many things to be thankful surrounding this day.  I'm always thankful for an extra day off, though in this day and age, not everyone gets it off just because it's a statuatory holiday.  And that's kinda sad.  But anyway, for me, I'm very thankful that I do get it off.  And Canada Day is all about celebrating the birthday of this great country.  Such a beautiful place that I am privileged to live in.  A country who helps others, who reaches out, who affords freedom of worship and has opportunities galore.  Home of the free because of the brave.  Yes, I am very thankful for Canada.

2.  Tea made tastier in a lovely tea pot and cup.  My daughter gave me this for mother's day and it just makes me smile whenever I use it.  It's  not only cute but to me it represents her thoughtfulness because it has bikes on it which I love, the color green which I love and she knows I like to drink tea.  So she choose a gift that she knew represented a lot of me.  How can I not smile having a sip of tea out of this?

3.  Great reading.  After a few "DNF's" (did not finish) books, I'm so glad I found one that grabbed my attention.  Grabbed me from the first pages, and though I knew the ending because it's a fictionalized account of a true story, it was still gripping right through the whole story, maybe more so because I knew what would happen.  Loved the writing and the telling of the tale.  It was a 10 out of 10 for me.  I'll do a full review in a few days time.  Finding a great read always is a favourite blessing for me.  Such a privilege to be able to have access to any kind of book I could desire basically at any time.  Not everyone has that. 

4. Surprise visits of friends.  Even though we live in the same city, I don't get to see my good friend very often.  So when she popped in yesterday, starbucks in hand, it definitely made my week!  So nice to have a visit with her and catch up with what's going on.  We have just learned to grab those smaller moments rather than always trying to carve out chunks of time like a whole evening.  And they all add up to big blessings of friendship!

5.  The Amazing Race Canada!   I love this show.  It's a weekly tradition that I can hardly wait for when the season is on.  I've watched the Amazing Race for years and it has always been a secret little dream of mine that my daughter and I would do it or that any of my kids would do it, but it was always just American.  Well a couple of years ago they started the Canadian version.  Love how it showcases a lot of Canada.  And this year there is a team from my city running!  Now it's 10x more exciting to watch.  There has only been one episode so far and I have to say the camera work has been stunning in it as they have gone from Northwest Territories to Jasper, Alberta.  Next week they'll be in Calgary.    Go Team Lethbridge!!

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn

Amy Dowell lost her beloved husband to cancer and if that was not enough stress and grief now she has lost her home to debt and she finds herself and her 5 year old daughter homeless, living out of their old camper and truck. Struggling to find work and having to be constantly on the move, Amy fears losing her most precious thing in the world, her daughter. On one of her stops at a church that offers breakfast and daycare, Amy tries to "sneak" through the line unnoticed but the center director finds her. Thinking she will be kicked out Amy instead finds a compassionate heart in Lucy who discerns her desperation and offers her an apartment and childcare so she can find a job. When she lands a job with a car dealership who's owner goes to the church Amy thinks she has finally had a chance to turn things around, but then she comes upon a discovery at her job that will find her having to deal with the very people she was trying to avoid, the police.

 This was inspired by a true story. It's an easy read but yet brings out the plight of the homeless we sometimes don't think about. We so easily associate homelessness with those who are substance abusers or certain groups of people but don't always realize or think about the homeless who are in that situation simply because of hard circumstances that have hit and are struggling to get back to some sense of normalcy. It is a vicious cycle of sorts and this book really brings that to light. It also explores the church's place in the fight against poverty and homelessness.  It's got a bit of mystery, a bit of romanace. You really realize Amy's plight and desperation as she is yet again faced with decisions through no fault of her own that could very well land her in a worse off place than she was before.

 A takeaway thought or quote from the book that I really liked was found on page 127:

 "...Paul knew the real mark of courage did not come in being unafraid but in not allowing fear to dominate" 

 This was spoken in regards to his job as a police officer and live action in that job, but it can very well be related to anything in life in general, I think.

I rated this 7.5/10

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #385

Hello and welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  I can hardly believe we are one week away from the end of June already and this is the last FFF for the month of June.  Half the year is just about spent!  Things would just fly right on by me if I didn't have FFF to slow down and take intentional notice of the blessings and good things of life.  Join me in remembering our blessings from the last week and sharing 5 of them.  If you are new, the guidelines are linked in the sidebar.

1.  Celebrating 33 years of marriage!  

Wow, who are those sweet, innocent young things?  Hard to believe that was 33 years ago!

And this is us now at our daughter's March wedding.  Not so young, not so innocent but still sweet on each other!

On Saturday, hubby and I celebrated with a day trip to Calgary.  A little shopping and a nice dinner afforded us the time to just let the stresses of the week disappear for the day and give us time to focus on us as a married couple.  We've had our ups and downs over the years but no matter what we've remained steadfast to our committement so many years ago, we've kept our eyes on the Lord and enjoyed the good, embraced the everyday, tried to remain thankful in all things and practiced forgiveness.  We've worked hard, made a few mistakes, brushed ourselves off and kept going, raised a family and launched our kids into adulthood.  Now we look forward to the new things God would have for us as a couple once again.  We both love this saying and I think it perfectly describes our time together as husband and wife and our life motto:

When we let go of trying to be perfect and expecting perfection from each other we could relax and let it be wonderful.   So thankful for this man that is my life partner, my friend and my love!

2.  Father's Day breakfast with my dad and sis.  This year my Sis and I decided that instead of a big get together with all our families, the two of us would just take my dad out for breakfast to his restaurant of choice.  It was quiet and intimate and we had a lovely time reminiscing about our childhoods and celebrating him as our Dad!  It was different way for us to do Father's day and I think my Dad really enjoyed it.  It's sometimes a good thing to depart from the usual way of doing things

3.  The best sign shaker around.  Right by my gym is a takeout pizza restaurant that employs young persons to stand by the very busy street and hold up and shake their sign, getting the attention of hungry, supper time traffic.  The last few weeks there has been a young girl who always makes me smile when I see her.  She is hard at work smiling and  dancing away with that sign to the music she has plugged in her ears.  What a joy it is to see a young person happy in even the most menial of jobs.  

4.  Beautiful couple of days.  

The last few days have had wonderful sunshine.  So we've been outside all morning, the kids and I, soaking it up.  Wednesday we turned on the sprinkler and yesterday I put up the pool and while they cooled off and splashed away, I put my feet up and got in some extra reading time!

5.  It's Friday.  This week was extra busy so I'm just very thankful we are at the end of the work week and the weekend is here.

What have your favorite blessings been this week?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #384

Here we are at Friday already.  Time to reflect on the blessings from the last week.  Please join us in sharing 5 of the good things.

1.  Surprise visit.  Hubby and I were chatting about my work, well it was more like he was listening while I was venting, but at any rate the front door flung open and in walked our son.  Gave me a start, but boy it was wonderful to see him.  He was just stopping for a few minutes, had driven with a friend all the way here to pick up a vehicle the friend had bought and they were heading right back, a long 6 hour drive.  So I hugged him up and off he went.  Fifteen minutes later he was txting asking if they could stay the night.  Of course they could.  So nice to have him home if only for that short period.

2.  Father's Day crafting with the dayhome kidlets.  I'm not a super crafty person but I peruse pinterest and see what I can come up.  It's always fun when the kids craft because they like it so much especially when it's something for their parents.  Of course, they never turn out quite as perfect as the pinterest pictures but it's the process, right?

3.  My sweet hubby bringing me lunch.  Such a nice treat when he does this for me.  And nice to be able to have lunch with him in the middle of the week.

4.  Dinner out with friends.  It was a spur of the moment thing, and miraculously these very busy people were actually free to join us.  What fun we had, laughing and enjoying a great buffet, then going to a coffee house to have a lovely end to the evening.

5.  Wonderful Sunday.  It started with a friend (and member of my lady's bible study group) being baptized in church, then a nice simple lunch with hubby and my daughter and then we just hung around and watched a movie. The evening ended with lots of reading time.  Sundays sometimes are just so busy and it was really nice to just be with us and not have to be anywhere, putting our feet up.

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen ~ Book Review

The front cover of the book described this as " unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions."  I think because of this I had certain expectations going into the story.

Mary Beth Latham is happily married, has a thriving landscaping business and is mother to a daughter and twin sons.   The daughter is a popular high schooler who has been dating the same boy for years and one twin is a star athlete while the other is more to himself and into music.  When one son develops depression Mary Beth naturally starts to put more focus onto him.  Then tragedy strikes and she faces the biggest challenge of all navigating through grief and the unthinkable to find hope and courage to go on.

Because of the front cover description, I approached this story constantly waiting for this violent event to occur.  I think because of this it skewed the story a bit for me and I almost put it down.  I could not get engaged with the narrative in the first half of the book.   Every page turn kept me looking for this event, and I found myself getting quite bored with the ordinary life of a family with teenagers. The fact that the story building was a bit choppy or disjointed didn't help to draw me in either.   I also found it difficult to really like any of the characters and so they didn't grab me.  So this was almost a DNF for me had it not been for someone encouraging me to keep plugging away.   After the horrific "event", of course, the story does pick up.  This was where I finally started to if not like, at least sympathize, for the characters.  It was heartbreaking and I found myself really hurting for Mary Beth and cheering her on as she tries to get their lives back on track to some semblance of normal.   As the story moves on things are revealed that are just sad and maddening and the exploration of how seemingly small choices later turn into big consequences starts to take place.  I, as the reader, was left thinking what could have been done differently to have avoided the whole thing, as I'm sure the character of Mary Beth lived with.    How many things do we do or say unthinkingly, or stupidly, or with an "I don't care" attitude, or not realizing that it will later affect the course of our lives and the lives of others?  How often are we so caught up in the obvious that we miss things elsewhere?  I found the exploration of this eye opening and while it drew sympathy out of me and made me think, it honestly did not make me like the characters any better.   That said, I couldn't help but root for Mary Beth to find the courage to face that and find some kind of  hope to move on with what life now was for her family. I thought how the author handled the aftermath was well done.  I must say, though, that because of the nature of the story, it is a tough and heavy read in the second half tackling a tough subject and it definitely left me needing something light and airy to read next.

I give it a 7.5/10 because the author took on a very hard subject and I do like how she handled the second half of the story and the challenges the characters had to face in just making it through their days.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #383

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Time to look back over the week and take notice of the blessings and good things in our lives and share five of our favorites.  It's not about a competition to see who had the better week or the better life or more stuff, it's not about trying to outdo the other person.  It's about learning to live a grateful life and being thankful in the moment and developing a discipline that can help to see us through the harder times of life.  

No idea where this quote came from but if it's yours please let me know 
and I would be more than happy to credit it.

Please join in with us!

1.  Finding courage.  I can't go into specifics for all the world to read, but there was something in my job that threw me for a loop and caused a whole boatload of stress.  For weeks, the burden was overwhelming and the confusion on my part was great.  But in conferring with two different trusted people and have them basically say the exact same thing, it's like a lightbulb went on and I knew what I had to do.  Had I just have taken a deep breath and remembered why I have policies and ways of doing things I could have saved myself a whole lot of worry and headache.  But I got hung up in one of my biggest fears (which I pinpointed when our ladie's group did the study "Fearless" by Max Lucado), and that is the fear of disappointing people.  But once I was reminded and my mind refocused, I knew what I had to do and then it was just a matter of courage to carry it through.  Once I did it was like a thousand pound weight off my shoulders.   Thank God for good people who speak the truth, even when it's difficult, and who encourage and lift up when you need it the most.

2.  Air conditioning.  We were exposed to a heat wave, complete with heat warnings from environment Canada, this week.  Now it is all relative as I know blogging friends like Anne and Willow get way hotter temps but the thing with Southern Alberta is that we seem to go from one extreme to the next without any acclimatization.  At any rate,  super hot mid summer type weather for us this week at 32*C (89.6*F) called for turning on the air conditioning.  Now I know a lot of people do not have it here, but I am most grateful that when we bought the house back in the 90's it already had it and I was able to turn that baby on this week.  

3.  Trees to give shade.  The west side of our yard is a line of towering aspen trees.  Tall and skinny they form a wall against the afternoon sun.  We have wonderful cooling shade in the backyard in the afternoon and evening.  I am most grateful for this as for very many years we didn't have one tree whatsoever in the backyard and it was a roasting oven back there.  

4.  Naturally flavored sparkling water.  I've really gotten hooked on ice cold refreshing sparkling waters.  In the last year and a half or so I have drastically reduced sugar consumption in my life and with that I really never drink pop anymore.  I used to love an ice cold coke on really hot days but now find them sickeningly sweet but still crave that cold "sparkle".    Enter the naturally flavored sparkling waters that contain no sugars or sweetener whatsoever.  My latest favorite is lemon but I do love the black cherry one and the mandarin also.  

5.  Bike riding.  This last weekend we partook of a couple of bike rides.  I love getting on my bike.  Fresh air, pedaling through the different streets, it clears my mind and lifts my spirits.   It takes me away from the stresses and worries as I concentrate on being in the moment and enjoying what I'm seeing and feeling.   I'm shooting for a goal of riding at least 3 times a week this summer.

pinned from

What was your favorite blessings this week?

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016 Running List

updated:  June 4, 2016

Back at the beginning of January I decided this year I wanted to really read through the piles of books that I already own.  They are forever growing and I seriously need to make a concerted effort to knock the pile down.  In perusing different challenges on pinterest I finally decided on the Read the Books You Buy Challenge.  Perfect because it was to set a percentage goal on not only actually reading the books you purchase in 2016 but it allowed you to go back to June 2015.  

I decided I would just post a little update each month or so adding any new books I buy and also crossing off the ones I finish.  I'm hoping this helps me to stay motivated.  I'm trying hard not to drop by the adult section of the library too often as that always tends to throw out the window all my good intentions of trying to make the piles of books in my closet a little smaller.  I cannot resist bringing home more from the library and then my books take a back seat as there is a deadline on the library books.  But not this year.  Nope.  I'm determined!

Books purchased June 2015 - December 2015

Bathseba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister 

The Titanic Enigma by Tom West

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg 

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Man Alive by Mary Kay Zuravleff

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin 

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Chatharina Ingelman-Sundberg

 Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

 The Offering by Angela Hunt

 The Truth Teller by Angela Hunt

 The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

 The Aloha Reef Series (book 1, book 2, book 3, book 4)  by Colleen Coble

 One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

 Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty

 The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Books Purchased January 2016

-The Lake House by Kate Morton

-Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

February & March 2016

No books purchased as it was all things wedding around here

Books Purchased in April 2016  (great sale at  50% off scratch and dent books making these books any where from under $2 to no more than $5) 

 Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant      DNF due to graphic content and too many liberties taken with the actual biblical story

Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

The Promise by Beth Wiseman

Malice by Keigo Higashino

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

Books Purchased in May 2016  (I really need to stop now!  Yikes!)

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn

Books Purchased in June 2016

The Dog Who Saved Me by Susan Wilson

Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax

Taken by Dee Henderson