Sunday, July 12, 2020

Book Reviews | Christian Nonfiction

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes several Christian nonfiction selections.

Christian Nonfiction
Christian nonfiction books share real life applications that help us integrate our Christian faith into our everyday lives.


      

Clinging: The Experience of Prayer by Emilie Griffin has been in my personal library for many years and I've read it more than once. This lovely read does not share how to pray or when to pray or what to pray, it simply shares the act of praying and how it affects us. It's beautifully written, and I highly recommend it.

Healing the Soul of a Woman by Joyce Meyer has been on my to-read shelf for a while. The author has shared her personal story of healing many times over the years, in books, magazine articles, and speaking engagements. "Now, with the passage of more time, this book delves deeper into Joyce's story and the journey of healing for all women. Each chapter guides you through whatever obstacles may be holding you back to find your true destiny as God's beloved. God can heal all pain, and He wants to do this in you." This is a good read from a seasoned Christian who continues to grow and serve and walk out her faith in ministry now well into her seventh decade.

I picked up Becky Tirabassi's book Let Prayer Change Your Life when I heard her speak at a Women of Faith conference in 1999. I've read this book several times and always feel inspired to be more diligent in my prayer time after reviewing the author's stories of answered prayers and her commitment to spending one hour a day in prayer. She created a prayer notebook to help her keep this commitment. While I was rereading the book a couple of months ago, I pulled out the notebook I created back in 2001 and was filled with wonder and gratitude at the answers to the prayers I recorded there as a newlywed.

If memory serves me correctly, I received the book Who Does He Say You Are by Colleen C. Mitchell free from the author as part of a Facebook group challenge back in 2016. So, it's obviously been on my to-read shelf for a while. I finally read this book and then added it to the box of books we sold at Half Price books before the pandemic closed everything down back in March. Here's a little from the book's blurb: Catholic missionary and speaker Colleen Mitchell captures the confessions of twelve more women from the Gospels, and shows how their stories answer this crucial question of identity: “Who does he say you are?” Holding up Mary as the ultimate example of intimate, transforming union, Mitchell weaves together moving anecdotes of her own search for identity as a Catholic woman along with twelve accounts of women in Scripture that are at once fresh yet familiar.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional Christian nonfiction books.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Book Reviews | Book Series

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes a couple of my favorite book series.

The Sweethaven Circle

    

The Sweethaven Circle 3-book series was written by Courtney Walsh and centers around an old scrapbook. In the first book, A Sweethaven Summer, we meet Campbell Carter as she discovers some of the pages from a scrapbook her recently deceased mother created with a group of friends when she was a teenager. The pages had been divided between the group of four girl friends years ago. As Campbell reaches out to these women, she visits Sweethaven, the little town where her mother spent summers as a teenager. There she finally learns who her father is and forms new friendshipsThe story continues in A Sweethaven Homecoming with these same enjoyable characters and several intertwined story lines and themes of reconciliation, forgiveness, and friendship. The final installment, A Sweethaven Christmas, is a wonderful romantic conclusion to the series as we see these friends preparing for Christmas.

The Mitford Years


When I re-read The Mitford Years Series a few years ago, I thought I had the complete 8-book set; however, it turns out several additional books were written and there are actually 14 books! After re-reading the original 8 books over the past couple of months, I splurged and bought myself the remaining 6 books. These stories center around Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, who is surrounded by wonderful characters in the small town of Mitford - "an American village where the grass is still green, the pickets are still white, and the air still smells sweet." This is a great series if you're looking for something wholesome, uplifting, and entertaining. (Note: Book 6 is the story of Father Tim's wedding and chronologically falls in between books 2 & 3, so I read it in that order this time & highly recommend it!)

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional book series.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Book Reviews | Creative & Inspirational

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes books to inspire you in life and creativity.

Scrapbooking
I have quite a few inspirational books about scrapbooking, art journaling, and crafting. These books reside on a shelf in my craft room where I can pick them up and thumb through for inspiration and ideas. I'm currently re-reading through these books as I decide which ones to keep and which ones can be passed along or donated. The two I'm sharing today are definitely keepers.

  

The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey is a beautiful book with ideas for organizing all your scrapbooking supplies. Reading through everything is a little monotonous as each chapter has a similar format, but it's a keeper for the inspiration and variety of ideas for storing and displaying supplies in a way that work for your crafting style.

From the book's description: Creative chaos can overwhelm and frustrate scrapbookers, and this book is a dynamic tool designed to help individuals fit the hobby neatly and beautifully into their homes and lifestyles. Tips, quizzes, and up-close looks at the workspaces of successful, productive scrapbookers will help anyone discover and embrace their unique approach to memory keeping; use this understanding to organize everything from photos and memorabilia to products, tools, and reference materials; find storage solutions that work; and surround themselves with inspiration that energizes and sustains.

The Big Picture by Stacy Julian is a compilation of scrapbooking ideas including page layouts and mini-albums. Stacy shares a page or project and explains the story or other inspiration for creating it. Once again, reading through is not as inspirational as simply flipping through for ideas. While the pages were created in the early 2000s, and thus reflect the scrapbooking styles during those years, the ideas and why behind the pages are still relevant and inspiring.

From the book's description: If you've ever looked at your piles of pictures and felt overwhelmed, behind or uninspired, you'll find a true friend in Stacy Julian. The Big Picture is all about helping you discover your potential, not only as a Scrapbooker, but as a creative human being.

Inspirational
Inspirational books are specifically designed to uplift and entertain.


This was my second time to read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindburg, and I thoroughly enjoyed this small volume of thoughts again before passing it on to a friend.

Here are the thoughts I shared after my first reading in 2018: I really wasn't sure what to expect when I began Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I had picked up a copy of the book after reading the The Aviator's Wife a couple of years ago. I knew that Anne had spent time at the seashore and written this book in the 1950s, and someone at our book club meeting mentioned that it was a beautifully written book. I was pleasantly surprised with this short book and the thoughts on simplicity, solitude, contemplation, creativity, etc, that are still relevant to our lives today.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional creative and inspirational books.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Book Reviews | Fiction Genres

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes an eclectic mix of fiction.

Fiction
Fiction stories are ones that come from a writer's imagination, as opposed to being based on fact. These books can be divided into several different sub-genres or categories like romance, science fiction, crime, fantasy, historical fiction, etc. I've read books in several of these genres in recent months.

            

Romance: I discovered the Netflix series Virgin River earlier this year and enjoyed all of Season One before learning that it was based on a book, which Robbie promptly ordered for me. This story follows a young nurse practitioner as she moves to a small town after the death of her husband. The town, Virgin River, is filled with great characters, including Jack Sheridan, an ex-marine and the town's leading bachelor. There's lots of chemistry and intrigue. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I like the series better and recommend it over the book. (Note: I only read book one of the series.) Evvie Drake Starts Over is about another recent widow who ends up renting the apartment at the rear of her house to a former Major League Baseball pitcher who needs a break from big city life. I picked up an advanced reader copy of this book at our library last summer. This is an easy and entertaining read with a happy ending.

Historical FictionDaisy Jones & The Six is classified as historical fiction because it is set in the past; however, the story centers around a fictional band. I'm saying this right up front because you'll be tempted to look up the band and try to find their songs - the book is so well-written, it's hard to believe it's fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I ordered after Ruth highly recommended it on her blog last year. The story is written as an oral history of one of the biggest rock 'n' roll bands of the seventies. The book is being turned into an Amazon mini-series that (I'm assuming) is delayed due to the current pandemic.

Crime Thriller: John Grishman is the king of the criminal thriller novel, and The Whistler does not disappoint. Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and works on cases involving judicial misconduct. Here's a look at a portion of the book's blurb: A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout United States history. And now he wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. When the case is assigned to Lacy, she immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else. Robbie and I both enjoyed this book.

Domestic FictionThe Farm follows the life of Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, who is recruited to be a "host" (surrogate mother) for a wealthy client of The Farm, a luxury retreat with all the amenities designed to help produce a healthy baby. The caveat is that the host cannot leave the grounds of The Farm for the entire nine months of the pregnancy. When Jane begins to worry about the daughter she entrusted to a cousin for the nine months, she is faced with a choice of leaving the campus to check on her own child and forfeiting the final fee she'll receive upon delivery of the client's child or staying put and trusting that her cousin is taking care of things outside The Farm. An interesting read that sheds perspective on how far individuals will go to earn money and secure their future. The book I read was an advanced reader copy that I picked up at our library last summer.

Science Fiction: Robbie and I heard about Recursion on the What Should I Read Next podcast. This story focuses on time travel and begins with a woman killing herself by jumping off a building because she is having memories of a past life that seems so real she can't forget them. After this dramatic opening, this page-turner focuses on a New York City detective, Barry Sutton, and a neuroscientist, Helena Smith, who hold the key to the mystery of what's actually happening. Despite jumping back and forth in time, the story is easy to follow and has a nice conclusion (after bogging down some in the final chapters).

Apocalyptic: If you've been around my  blog a while, you may have seen a previous review of Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon. This is one of Robbie's all-time favorite books, and we've both read it numerous times. I read it again hoping my twin nieces and my sister would join me for a "book club discussion" about it, but with all the changes and uncertainty with the pandemic this spring, they did not complete it. I found it refreshing to read a book about a group of people who survive in an isolated area after a nuclear holocaust. Despite the hardships, they came together and worked to keep everyone healthy and feed without the many commodities and amenities that we take for granted. I highly recommend this classic novel!

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your favorite genre of fiction books.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Book Reviews | Self-Improvement & Narrative Nonfiction

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes three self-improvement guides and one narrative nonfiction.

Self-Improvement
A self-improvement (or self-help) book can be defined as a book written with the explicit intention of helping its readers change or improve some aspect of their personal or professional lives. 

    

Sink Reflections is a look at Flylady's (Marla Cilley) plan for maintaining a clean and decluttered home. It is written for people who need help and simple directions for getting and staying organized. I consider myself one of the Born Organized people that Flylady says probably don't need her system, but I enjoyed the re-read before placing it in the box of books we sold at Half Price Books right before the pandemic closed everything down back in March.

Feel the Fear ... and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers shares "dynamic techniques for turning fear, insecurities, and anger into power, action, and love." This was a good easy read to help us discover what we fear and why, how to silence the negative chatterbox in our minds, and ways to create more meaning in our lives. This book was recommended in an entrepreneur group I participate in and has been on my to-read shelf (partially read) for a couple of years.

I purchased Ruth Soukup's newest book, Do It Scared, when it first came out last May. This is a really good book that encourages us to take the Fear Archetype Assessment and discover what fears are keeping us from moving forward and making changes in our life.The book is divided into three sections: (1) a description of each of the Fear Archetypes, (2) details on the Principles of Courage, and (3) implementation strategies for Courage in Action.

Narrative Nonfiction 
Narrative nonfiction is sometimes called creative nonfiction and is a true story written in the style of a fiction novel. This is my favorite way to read history because I find it easier and more enjoyable to read than a textbook style book.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote reconstructs the investigation of the murder of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in November of 1959. They were killed by a shotgun held just a few inches from their faces in their home, and there was no apparent motive and almost no clues. This book, which I purchased and had on my to-read shelf for a couple of months, is extremely well-written and provides the suspense of a thriller novel.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional self-improvement and narrative nonfiction books.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Book Reviews | Memoir & Biography

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes several memoirs and a biography.

Memoir
A memoir is a collection of memories written by an individual about an important part of their life.

  
     

The Alpine Path was written in 1917 by Lucy Maud Montgomery. She shares the story of her writing career from its beginnings when she resolved as a child to become a writer through the success of the Anne of Green Gables books. She chose the title to refer to the long climb she had on her way to success. This thin volume, which I purchased earlier this year, is a quick look into the life of this famous author.

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, the twin daughters of former US President George W. & Laura Bush (and, therefore, granddaughters of former US President George H.W. & Barbara Bush), is a delightful read about growing up in a political dynasty. The twins were in elementary school when their grandfather became president and had no idea how important he was in our country at that time. Barbara recounts the story of his inaugural parade and how she wondered when all the other children's grandfathers would have a parade. Jenna shared how she was so impressed with all the six graders who lined the hallways (along with all the lower grades) when her grandmother came to visit her school. I've read several of the Bush family autobiographies and thoroughly enjoyed this candid look into their lives through the growing lens of the twins.

Letters from Lillian is a small book put out by the Assemblies of God sharing letters written by missionary Lillian Trasher who founded the first orphanage in Egypt in 1911. These letters chronicle her life and God's faithfulness throughout her 50-years of service to orphans, widows, and the blind. I've had this book for many years and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it this spring.

We first heard about the book Being Caribou when we visited Alaska in the summer of 2018. The author and his wife spent their honeymoon following a herd of caribou from their winter feeding grounds to their summer calving grounds. "For five months, they traveled an uncharted course on foot over mountains, through snow, and across frozen rivers, with only three semi-scheduled food drops for support." I have to admit that this sounded much more intriguing than it turned out. This was a very slow read - part memoir, part attempt to stop oil exploration on the portion of lands that are currently unprotected, and (small) part education about the caribou.

We picked up several of Ryan Leak's books after hearing him speak at a church service a couple of years ago, so Chasing Failure has been on my to-read shelf for a while. In this thin book, the author asks the question, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" He then chronicles his experience of chasing his dream of playing for the NBA. This was a quick read, but it fell short of being motivating. While his premise of removing excuses to pursue the life you want to live is a good one, I felt his example was meaningless because he approached it knowing he was going to fail, even presenting his request to try out for an NBA team as a research project for this book.

The Five Silent Years of Corrie ten Boom was written by Corrie's companion, Pamela Rosewell Moore, who traveled with her and cared for her during the final years of her life. Corrie suffered a stroke and lost her ability to speak, "but the ministry that had touched millions continued as Corrie communicated through her eyes, through elaborate guessing games with those around her, through silent intercession for people God brought to mind. For those five silent years of imprisonment, Corrie's spiritual depth offered mute testimony to her ongoing trust in her heavenly Father." If you've been around my blog for a while, you already know that I am a huge fan of Corrie ten Boom and count her as one of my spiritual mentors. This book was a Christmas gift from Robbie that I'm thrilled to add to my collection of books by and about this beautiful woman of God.

Biography
A biography is the life history of an individual, written by someone else.


I think I first heard about The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King on Stacy Julian's podcast. I had it on pre-order, so it arrived in our mailbox on the date of publication last September. This is a very well-written biography about a man who devoted his life to children and taking their questions and feelings seriously. I honestly did not know much about Mr. Rogers other than that he was the host of the TV show (Mr. Roger's Neighborhood) I'd watched some as a child. Not only did I learn more about him and his life, I also learned a good bit about the beginning of the television industry and the public broadcasting service. I'm especially glad I read this informative book. I was also glad I read it before we watched the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which portrays one story from this book to illuminate the character and life of Fred Rogers. With the background of the book, I had a better understanding of some of the seemingly insignificant details in the movie.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional memoirs and biographies.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Book Reviews | Christian Fiction

It looks like many of us around the world will continue to spend a good bit of time at home in the coming weeks as we see spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases. During the past several months, I've been reading through the books on my to-read bookshelf as well as re-reading books from our personal library here at home. So, this week I'll be catching up and sharing reviews of the books I've read this year with the hope that you'll find one or two of interest to keep you inspired or entertained in the days ahead. Today's offering includes a batch of Christian fiction.

Christian Fiction
Christian fiction can be defined as a story that has a Christian worldview in the plot and/or characters. These books portray Christian views, theology and ethics in a positive light. All the books I'm sharing about today are re-reads from our personal library - some of these will remain in our library, others are not "keepers" and have been moved to the sell/donate box. I'm including a description from the book's blurb as well as my thoughts/recommendation for each book.

            

The Princess by Lori Wick - a beautiful read with a lovely ending, highly recommend.

In the Land of Pendaran, Shelby Parker lives a humble but good life. Her special qualities are eventually noticed by the king and queen of the House of Markham, who seek a new wife for their widowed son, Prince Nikolai. To uphold the tradition of their country, Shelby and Nikolai agree to an arranged marriage. But while Nikolai is a perfect gentleman in public, he remains distant at home, leaving Shelby to wonder what is in his heart. Will the prince ever love her as he did his first wife? Can the faith they share overcome the barriers between them?

White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick - a really good read with a happy ending, highly recommend.

After losing her parents, Arcineh Bryant lives with her grandfather as a girl. But growing up without her family causes her to hold resentment toward the man who took her in. Years later, when she meets a man she thinks she may love, she doubts whether she can trust her own heart. A character-rich journey leads Arcineh back to her grandfather's home where there are surprises, questions, and for the first time in her life, an answer to "who will love me forever?"

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson - a suspenseful read with a horribly unsatisfying non-ending, not a keeper.

The sheriff of Justice, Illinois, is hunting a killer. Women visiting town are being murdered, tourists in nice hotels, money still in their billfolds, jewelry still on the dresser. Quiet kills—they go to sleep and never awaken. The sheriff is not pleased to find the new detective in town, Rae Gabriella, working the case on behalf of one of the families. She's staying in the same hotel as one of the victims—and her looks suggest she could be the next victim.

Ice by Shane Johnson - a great read with a fabulous premise, but about halfway through (when it veers off into the pre-flood Earth), it becomes more difficult to follow, glad I read it again, but not a keeper.

It is February, 1975. Apollo 19, the last of the manned lunar missions, has successfully landed. Exhilarated and confident, Commander Gary Lucas and Lunar Module pilot Charlie Shepherd set out to explore a vast, mysterious depression at the lunar south pole. There, in the icy darkness-where temperatures reach 334 degrees below zero-the astronauts search for the fragments of crystalline bedrock the scientists back home had hoped for. But when tragedy strikes, the men are driven deeper into the lethal realm, where they find much more than they bargained for, including a strange machine that seemingly transports Lucas back to a pre-flood Earth, and startling evidence that could transform mankind's perspective on all creation and its Creator- if only the men could miraculously make their way back home to earth to reveal it.

The Martyr's Chapel by D. J. Delffs - great mystery with several suspects, definitely recommend.

When playwright Gentry Truman is found dead in the Martyr's Chapel, Father Griffin Read, who discovers the apparent suicide, also encounters several individuals who had a motive for killing the writer.

Love and Glory by Robert Funderburk - 1st in The Innocent Years series, quick easy read, recommend, passing this on to a friend.

After the war (World War II), Lane and Catherine Temple are forced to move to Baton Rouge in hopes of establishing his law practice, but corruption and local politics force them to make some ethical choices.

These Golden Days by Robert Funderburk - 2nd in The Innocent Years series, quick easy read, recommend, passing this on to a friend.

Jessie Temple moves to Hollywood to begin a career as a singer, while her father rejoins the Marines during the Korean War and her mother copes with her husband's absence.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments, along with your suggestions for additional Christian fiction books.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Random Thoughts | Turning Negatives into Positives

I like to keep things upbeat and positive and creatively interesting here on my blog; but, let's be honest, this has been a tough year! 

It seems like it just keeps getting harder and harder to turn those negatives into positives, although I'm willing to give it a try.

Travel: If you know us at all, you know that Robbie and I enjoy traveling and typically take several vacations a year. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we put a halt to our travel plans, cancelling a week-long road trip we had planned with our nephews in May and giving up dreams of flying to Hawaii early this fall. 

However, we did actually see a bit of the Sahara Desert in a dust plume that lifted up in Africa, traveled across the Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico, then arrived in north Texas in late June! I didn't even know that "Dust" could be a forecast until I woke up to this prediction on the weather app. Of course, this dust has caused terrible air quality and sinus issues, but we can at least say we've seen a new part of the world this year, right?


Staying at Home: When President Trump's initial 15 Days to Slow the Spread was initiated in mid-March, we curtailed all activities outside our home with the exception of Robbie's once-a-week outing to buy groceries and household necessities. Over the past 4+ months, we've continued this process with only one day trip out to visit my parents, a quick stop at our local scrapbook store, and two appointments to drop our cars off for needed maintenance, repairs and detailing.

The upside of all this is that we love being together and have truly enjoyed all this time at home. We've completed several home projects - pressure washing the patio & staining/sealing the outdoor furniture, cleaning out & reorganizing the pantry, setting up and displaying the collectibles in the toy room, organizing and culling my scrapbooking supplies, and cleaning out the garage. 

Working from Home: During this time, Robbie has been working full-time from home. He has a workstation set up on Grandma's old sewing table in the room at the end of the hallway, which works well for audio and video calls whether it's 8:30am or 11pm!

We are fortunate that he has been able to continue working as so many are currently unemployed. And, despite a 10% pay reduction due to a downturn in the economy, we were able to follow through on our plan to pay off our home mortgage!

Meals: Before Covid-19 shut everything down, we had gotten into the habit of ordering in or picking up or eating out several times a week. We weren't eating as healthy as we needed and had fallen into the habit of eating lots of prepackaged snacks.

Now that we are home all the time, we have both enjoyed getting back in the kitchen, cooking and baking and planning meals. In fact, we haven't eaten any meal that we didn't prepare here at home (with the exception of the meal Mama made when we went out to visit) since March 15! After an initial run of creating the same few things, I've gotten out my recipe books to make some old but forgotten favorites and Robbie's been inspired to create new versions of other favorites. We don't miss eating out at all.


Looking Ahead: I am a planner by nature. I enjoy setting up my calendar and making plans and figuring out the details of what's coming up. Unfortunately, there's really no way to plan ahead right now - our current plan is to continue to stay at home. It will be a while before Robbie's office will reopen at full capacity, so he'll continue his work duties here at home.

In the meantime, my plans will center around completing more scrapbook projects and possibly cleaning out and reorganizing the closets.

Current Events: Have y'all seen the number of new Covid-19 cases growing here in the states this past month? And the protests and riots taking place due to civil and racial unrest? And the massive changes being made by governments and companies and sports franchises? It's pretty scary really; what is happening to our country?

Honestly, these situations are not anything that I could have imagined when this year began, and I'm having trouble envisioning what the end outcome will look like. So, I'm working at just taking it one day at a time and finding the positives in the everyday aspects of life at home.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July Y'all

As we enjoy a quiet Independence Day, just the two of us here at home, I thought I'd share a look back at past celebrations.








Happy Independence Day Y'all!


Friday, July 3, 2020

Scrapbooking | June 2020 By the Numbers

This year, as I process each month's photos, I'm creating a digital layout featuring six photos and journaling "by the numbers." I'm using a digital template and various papers from my stash. My plan is to include a photo of me and Robbie and a photo of my mantel display as the top line of photos each month.

Here's how the numbers add up for June.


* 22 days Robbie worked from home.
* 1 visit to Mama & Daddy.
* 4 face masks custom made by Mama.
* 3 haircuts for Robbie by Melissa since pandemic began.
* 14 hours of old home movies transferred from VHS to DVD.
* $ to pay off mortgage after 13 yrs & 2 mths in our home!
* 5 weeks spent (finally) unpacking, organizing & setting up Toy Room.
* 59 books read by Melissa & 25 books read by Robbie the first half of 2020.
*10% pay cut due to economic downturn attributed to Covid-19.
* 2 nephews here to visit.
* 6,975 new coronavirus cases reported in ONE DAY in Texas!
* 3 movies watched: Superman The Movie, Superman II, Arsenic & Old Lace.
* 19 layouts completed, 1 art journal page created, 1 card made, 2 Bible pages illustrated, 15 blog posts published.

We only watched three movies last month. Superman: The Movie and Superman II are the original movies from 1978 & 1981 that feature Christopher Reeve as Superman. I don't remember actually ever watching these shows & thoroughly enjoyed them both. Arsenic & Old Lace debuted in the 1940s and is just plain FUN to watch. A dramatic critic, played by Cary Grant, discovers that his two spinster aunts are poisoning lonely old men their gentlemen house guests and burying them in the basement. It sounds bizarre and gruesome, but in truth this movie is just comedy gold.

How did the numbers add up for you in June?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

SPSH 2020 | The Toy Room

I knew when Mary-Lou posted this year's Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt list that I was going to do something I've been wanting to try for the past couple of years - find all the items in Robbie's collectible toy room!

The room has been in disarray since we swapped the original toy room space with my craft room several years ago; however, we spent the past five weeks getting everything unpacked, organized, and on display. These scavenger hunt finds will give you a peek into this FUN space.

1. A favorite piece of jewelry: The vintage Blue Goddess Gene Doll is wearing a multi-strand necklace that perfectly matches her dress.


2. Something with or in a knot: The gold tassel at the end of the maroon heart nestled in with the stuffed animal collection has a perfect knot.


3. Something with the colors of your country’s flag: There were quite a few red, white & blue options, but I couldn't resist Superman holding the US flag.


4. A toy you play with: Robbie picked up this vintage Showboat stage a few years ago. It came with several scripts, character stands, changeable sets, and chipboard figures that can be used to act out the plays!


5. Something you have more than one of: Robbie's all-time favorite TV show is Lost in Space, so it's no surprise that we have quite a few Robots.


6. Something in the shape of a triangle:This triangle shaped pendant and medal plaque is an actual prop that was on the fictional USS Nathan James in the TV series The Last Ship


7. Something that displays a rule(s): Tinkertoys are definitely designed to Build Big Fast!


8. A leaf longer than your hand: If you look closely, you can see that Treebeard's leaves are definitely longer than (dressed in red) Mork's hands!


9. Something that starts with the initial of your name (first or last): Minions, lots of them!


10. Something smaller than a paper clip: The crank shaft on the Munster's Koach is very small!


11. Something you need to throw away: These quarterbacks need to throw the ball away from themselves and into the arms of a receiver to score a touchdown.


12. Something that holds your favorite beverage: A few of Robbie's favorite bottles from our travels.


13. A rubber band/elastic in use: It's in the back, but Barbie's hair is definitely held back by an elastic band.


14. Something with wheels: There are LOTS of wheels in the toy room!


15. Something inherited: This farm set belonged to Robbie's dad.


16. Something with rough texture: Lots of interesting texture on Sanda the Gargantua.


17. Something naturally round: The Magic 8 Ball might be manufactured rather than naturally round, but it supposedly has all the answers.


18. Something that can go in the water: The Batboat is Batman's favorite way to travel on water.


19. A stone/rock/pebble with some color in it: A reddish rock, a white rock, and a black rock (all picked up on our travels) are on display with The Incredibles.


20. Something with the number 7 in it: The Starship Enterprise and the Galileo shuttle craft both display the number 7.


Alt A. An animal statue: This giraffe statue from Africa is nestled among the super heroes.


Alt B. Something heavier than your shoe: Robbie's childhood riding horse is definitely heavy! A stuffed Russian Winnie-the-Pooh and Kermit are enjoying a ride.


Alt C. Something with four sides: This Wall-E is not only cute, he is voice activated and has realistic expressions, light-up eyes, and movements.


I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of finding all the items in this one room! Sending a huge thanks to Mary-Lou for hosting and curating such a FUN list! Are you participating in this year's Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt