Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Moving

Yet again, not so wordless, but it's my blog after all.  =)

Last week...

This week...

Oh, and this one just makes me laugh.  Poor McQueen (Cory was napping or he would have had a heart attack!)

And someone loves boxes... he'll go for them wherever they are and try to chew on them, I know not why!

Oh yeah, I'm trouble now mom!  (Six months, 2 weeks, and mobile on all fours.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Whole Lot of Nothing

It's been another one of those days.  I know I did stuff today, stuff like laundry, dishes, feeding and playing with two small boys.  But I get to the end of the day and I wonder where it went.  What happened to all the minutes in between?

I've been doing stuff lately.  Canning and planning and going hither and yon.  We went to Seattle last weekend for a doctor's appointment, staying with an old friend we hadn't seen in awhile.  It was good to catch up, but it's never long enough.  We could have talked all night I'm sure.

That's done and now I'm planning, what are we doing this weekend, next weekend, next month, November, then it's Christmas.  It seems I am always in planning mode and once it's there then it's gone and done.  Over so fast you blink and you've missed it.  Perhaps that's why I always want to take pictures of everything.  To document for myself that it actually happened.  To be able to look back and remember that I was there and the little things about it.

I have a million projects I want to get done, mostly sewing (curtains, Christmas vest, new purse, pajama pants), but other things too.  Pictures to sort and edit (yeah summer), baby clothes to put away and the next size to get out.  Carrots in the garden that need to be picked, washed, and frozen for later (they went crazy all at once).  Paperwork and more paperwork that I seem to be drowning in.  I feel like a rat on a wheel and it's never ending.

Thoughts in my head and with no one to tell them to they are as fleeting as a breeze.  Thinking in the shower to be interrupted by a little boy that I'm trying to teach privacy to...  All a little bit like this post I suppose. 

Some days I guess I just feel like this: When it rains it pours...

This picture was taken a week ago Sunday when we had a crazy thunderstorm come through.  I don't think it lasted more than half an hour, but we had inches of standing water around our house and since then our yard has come back to life and is somewhat green.  That's how much water (and hail) came down.  Notice that the rain is blowing sideways in the background...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with an Author: Julie Lessman (and Giveaway!)

Whoever thought the advent of the internet and blogs would allow just about anyone to interview famous people? I feel just a little bit out of my comfort zone interviewing an award winning author! But Julie Lessman is very personable and I've enjoyed emailing with her! Read on to find the answers to my questions... and I bet if you left your pressing questions in the comments she just might answer!  (that will count as entry in the giveaway too so please do!)

These questions have mainly to do with her new book, A Hope Undaunted, which I reviewed earlier this week, as well as the first series, Daughters of Boston, which starts the story.

1.) The characters you create are so real (especially after 4 books!) that I have a really hard time sometimes with the downright "stupid" things they do.  I know it's human nature, but you so rarely read books like this where even the good guys do some really bad things...  1) How easy or hard is it for you to write like this and 2) does it ever make you uncomfortable to write about these painful situations.  I'm particularly thinking of Mr. O'Connor in the 3rd book, but it's there in all the books.

Grin … “stupid things,” huh?? Gosh, Krista, if you knew how close to home that hits, you would cringe. I’m going to go on record right now and say that a large majority of the situations I write about in my books are taken from some personal experience of my own. Yep, you heard me!

For instance, the fight between Marcy and Patrick in A Passion Most Pure, where Patrick comes home from the bar with beer on his breath, resulting in a pretty tense (and eventually passionate) fight/love scene??? Take out the part about the bar, and you pretty much have a real-life scenario from my early life with my husband. In fact, one time a good friend came for dinner and was talking to my husband about that scene in particular, stating that it seemed a little hard to believe. My guy calmly sipped on his Diet Coke before looking my friend straight in the eye with a droll smile. “Believe it,” he said.

So honestly, it’s VERY easy for me to write like this because I write from a wealth of personal mistakes where God opened my eyes and made me a better person for every “stupid thing” I ever did. When He said “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes,” He wasn’t joking. God has taken the minefield of my life and taught me lessons that I try to pass on to my characters and then hopefully, to my readers.

And, no, it never makes me uncomfortable writing about painful situations because I rejoice that I can take a hurt that I have experienced and turn others to God through it. For instance, in A Passion Denied when Marcy goes through such grief over Patrick’s rejection—I’ve been there, done that, and it was the most awful thing I’ve experienced in my marriage. BUT it opened my eyes to just how precious my husband is to me and what a gift from God he has been from the beginning. If my mistakes can help just one person out there realize how powerful God’s intervention is and how obedience to His precepts are the answer to a healthy marriage, than I consider myself a blessed author.

2.) How did you come up with this story arc? Have you known the outline of all the stories since you started the first one or have they kind of grown? Do you create the characters or do they create themselves? :)

Well, the “story arc” originally began when I read Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve. From the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was hooked, and my “romance-writing career” began with a 150 single-spaced manuscript that today is the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. As a young pre-teen girl I knew I wanted an Irish family, a war, and a love triangle just like GWTW, so that’s what I did.

The completion of the story came almost 40 years later while I was sitting in a beauty shop reading a July 2001 Newsweek cover article about how Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. Something in my spirit said, “Now is the time to finish your book.” So I started my novel the next month, and as a seat-of-the-pants writer, the story—and the characters—literally took me where it and they wanted me to go. Ironically, when I wrote book 1 A Passion Most Pure, I had NO plans for a series, but the characters would not let me go, and so I started book 2 A Passion Redeemed soon after, which was a good thing because my agent sold me in 3-book deal on the manuscript for A Passion Most Pure alone. Once the O’Connors were in place from book 1, then, each daughter’s story just seemed to flow from one book to the next with little or no effort.

3.) Why do you always seem to have two guys that the girl must ultimately choose between? In my personal experience and with my friends it rarely seems we get to choose between men! Even one who is the "right" choice and one who isn't.

You’re right, although I will tell you that although I wasn’t much to look at in my late 20s and didn’t date a lot before I got married, I did have to make a choice between my husband and another guy I was dating at the same time (we did that in my day, unlike girls today who only date one guy at a time), so it is possible!

But … you have to keep in mind that this is romance here, not women’s fiction. I am a “Calgon, take me away” type of gal (i.e. my obsession with Gone With the Wind is certainly proof of that), not a “slice of life” type of author, so when I write the way that I do, I am being true to my passion and my imagination, which every author MUST do or they will not be successful. From the moment I fell in love with Rhett, Scarlett and Ashley at the age of twelve, I have been crazy about love triangles because let’s face it, they make for great conflict and emotional angst, which—surprise, surprise—I thrive on as a writer.

So, yes, my situations and the movie-star looks of my characters are not always the norm, BUT the spiritual truths they learn along the way ARE true to life—my life, to be exact—and the lessons learned are VERY real. So if a reader is looking for more true-to-life stories where everything doesn’t always work out nice and neat and the heroes aren’t necessarily hunks, then they are probably looking for women’s fiction with an element of romance, not your typical romance like mine where readers long for a romantic escape into the world of what-if.

4.) How do you write? ie, time of day, location, pen and paper or computer, etc?  How many stories are going to be in this second set of the series?  Do you have ideas for a completely different story that you might write next?

During the summer months (basically May through October), I sit outside on my lower deck that runs the length of the house, overlooking a lush, green wooded area that has sunlight dappling through the trees. It's GORGEOUS, and I always have my feet up on this cushy lawn furniture we have (like now!), cinnamon hazelnut coffee by my side and a fan gently blowing while I sit with my laptop on my ... where else? Lap!! I am usually out there from about 9:00 a.m. (to read my Bible and pray first thing after the treadmill/worship music) till about 8:00 p.m., stopping only for coffee breaks, powder-room breaks (where I manage to read up to four books a month, believe it or not!) or to make lunch and dinner.

The “Winds of Change” series is a trilogy that continues the O’Connor saga from the first series, “The Daughters of Boston.” Book 1 A Hope Undaunted just released this month and is about the fourth O’Connor daughter Katie. This book was a lot of fun to write because Katie is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean (and guess who … Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2!!), and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you know, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables? I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for some of the other character couples and enough plot surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

As far as what I plan to write next, I’m hoping to write a prequel about Marcy and Patrick O’Connor before they were married as well as a new trilogy I am calling “The Cousins McClare,” a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins amid the Irish-political landscape of 1920s San Francisco, prohibition and the Barbary Coast.

Thank you, Krista, for hosting me on your blog. It’s been fun! And I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my Web site at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. It's chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots”, which is a very laid-back, almost-daily journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication. Thanks again, Krista, and God bless!

No, thank you, Julie, for answering my questions!  I love to read, but could never be an author so it's fun to see how it all works behind the scenes!  
And friends if you would like to win an autographed copy of Julie's latest book, A Hope Undaunted, just leave a comment (or a question for Julie!) here and I'll pick a winner on Tuesday evening (the 28th).  - US addresses only.

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose”underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction”.  She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her website.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things I Love: Santa Cruz Organic

So, I'm hopping on the bandwagon over at The Diaper Diaries this week with her meme called Things I Love Thursday.  And what I'd like to highlight is a new product line I recently got to try.

Santa Cruz Organic sent me a box of their products to try out... and all I have to say is, yummy!

No, actually I have a lot more to say than that, but that's the overall consensus at our house!

You all know I've recently started becoming more and more interested in the things that we eat, put on our bodies, and use in our home.  So naturally I'm reading labels and trying to buy foods that don't have a lot of ingredients in them that I can't pronounce!  (well, actually I can pronounce most of them with my chemistry background, but that doesn't mean I know what they're doing in our food!)

When I read the labels on the Santa Cruz Organic products?  All recognizable food names, and no high fructose corn syrup either!  The peanut butter?  Organic roasted peanuts and less than 1% salt.  All goodness!  We've already eaten two jars of it and Brian was rooting in the cupboard for more, asking me where the dark roast was.  Their creamy peanut butter is dark roast and it simply has the best flavor of any peanut butter I've ever had!
You do have to mix the oil in, but I found that it mixed easily and they left enough room at the top of the jar that you don’t lose that oil over the edge while mixing.

We were sent two of the fruit sauces flavors and I definitely like the apple peach best.  It’s a little bit tart and tangy with just a hint of sweetness.  It’s the perfect dessert that’s actually good for you!  I could eat more than one of the sauce cups, but they’re a good size for a kid’s lunch bag!  *hint hint moms*

The tropical fruit sauce was good too, it’s just not a flavor I care for.

And finally their all new product, fruit spreads.  We got to try all four of these flavors and I really couldn’t pick a favorite!  They have organic sugar in them (of course), but aren’t as sickeningly sweet as many of the jams and jellies you buy in the grocery store – no high fructose corn syrups here!  At first I was surprised they were so runny, but then I realized that would be why they’re called a fruit spread.  Silly me!  The only other down side I could see would be the fact that we’ve already used up three of these jars.  I wonder if they would consider selling them in larger sizes???


On the green side of things all these products are manufactured entirely with renewable energy from a variety of sources, including on-site solar energy and renewable energy certificate purchases.  Finally, a company that cares about how it makes it's products as well as what goes into them!

Their website has a handy store finder so you can find them in your area.  Unfortunately they aren’t carried at any of our regular grocery stores so I will have to make a special trip to stock up.  Find out if you can buy them in your area... It’s worth it! 

Products were provided for me to review through The Family Review Network.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Books: In Every Heartbeat and Love's First Bloom

These are the last of the books that I'm reviewing for the CFBA.  It has come to the point that many look good, but few get read and I have an entire shelf of unread books waiting for me.  So, these last two have not been read either, but I have read other works by these authors and enjoyed them, and obviously the premise looked good or I wouldn't have chosen them!

In Every Heartbeat

As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a cherished dream.

Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible.

But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. And when Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Every Heartbeat, go HERE.


Love's First Bloom

Ruth Livingstone's life changes drastically the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her to a small village in New Jersey under an assumed name. There Ruth pretends to be a widow and quietly secludes herself until her father is acquitted of a crime.

But with the emergence of the penny press, the imagination of the reading public is stirred, and her father's trial stands center stage. Asher Tripp is the brash newspaperman who determines that this case is the event he can use to redeem himself as a journalist.

Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River--a place where she can find a measure of peace in the midst of the sorrow that continues to build. It is also here that Asher Tripp finds a temporary residence, all in an attempt to discover if the lovely creature known as Widow Malloy is truly Ruth Livingstone, the woman every newspaper has been looking for.

Love begins to slowly bloom...but is the affection they share strong enough to withstand the secrets that separate them?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's First Bloom, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book: A Hope Undaunted

Today I've got a new book for you, one I have a love/hate relationship with!  And one I've been waiting quite awhile to read.

Julie Lessman is a relatively new author, this is just her fourth published book, all in the same series, but she's already won awards for each of the first three.  I've read them all and plan on keeping them as part of my permanent collection - something that I don't do as much of these days as I read way too many to keep them all.

The stories are set in the early 1900's in Boston and revolve around one Irish family with six children.  Each book so far has featured one daughter and the twists and turns of her story to love.

Here's the synopsis for this fourth book, A Hope Undaunted. 

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and head-over-heels in love with her. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

You could read this as a stand alone book as it takes place quite a few years after the first three, but there is so much back story (and really, they're so good) that I would highly recommend reading the first three first!

Things I love: Each book is at least 400 pages so there is plenty of time to actually get into the story and feel like you know the characters, yet they don't drag on forever either.  While each story focuses one just one girl and her "love story" the rest of the family are still a main part of the book so you get to continue hearing about the previous girls and their new families.

Because the stories are long and there is good character development the characters actually have real conflicts and do things that normal people would do, including making really stupid decisions and living with the consequences.  There have been a number of times when I've actually identified with a character and felt rather convicted!  Not something that normally happens with a romance novel!

The setting of the stories are well developed, from the First World War to the stock market crash in 1929, the stories don't float outside of time, but are directly tied to the things happening in the world around them.  I always appreciate authors who take time to do this because it makes the stories that much more real.

Things I don't really love: Apparently in the genre of romance you always know who the heroine will end up with and the story is how it happens.  I guess I'm not such a complete fan of this and while there are twists and turns, I sometimes wish the heroines would end up with the "other" guy.

Also, how many of us really get to pick between two guys??? :)

But I'm getting ahead of myself... I have the fun chance to interview Julie and I've asked her some questions about this... so you'll have to come back on Friday to read her answers and have the chance to win an autographed copy of this book!

Also, be sure to friend Julie on FACEBOOK - she's launched a contest and is giving away a KINDLE! She's announcing the winner at a FACEBOOK Party on October 7th! All the details will be announced on her Author Page!

A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party

Yada yada yada: I was provided with a free copy of this book for review, but all opinions are strictly mine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Six Months

Hi! I'm Noah and I'm six months old!

My mommy likes to take pictures of me!  in case you haven't already figured that out already
Last month I had 2 teeth, but this month I have 6 and 2 more that are trying to come in.  I am kind of cranky and want to chew on everything.  I have a stuffy nose and mommy calls me her Snuffle-ufagus.

I can hold the things that I want to chew on, but I have a hard time remembering to keep holding them.  Thankfully my big brother, Cory, is there to pick them up for me!

He has to keep his toys out of the living room now unless he wants me to chew on them.  I'm not exactly crawling, but if there is something I want I can go get it, inchworm style!  Last night I got to mommy's plant stand and pulled the spider plant down and made a big mess!  They have to move up to the next shelf now.

I roll from tummy to back, but I'm still kind of a turtle once there.  Just last week I rolled over a few times onto my tummy, but mostly I just get frustrated and scream.

I scream a lot.  Mostly because I'm just a social guy and don't like to be put down!  Everyone thinks I'm such a happy baby because I'm smiley and interacting with them.  Just don't leave me alone and we'll all get along fine!

Mommy's trying to feed me some baby cereal, but I'm not having it.  It makes me choke and gag.  I'd just rather make mommy get up every 3 hours and feed me.  I'm cranky and it soothes me.

I went to Children's in Seattle on Saturday so they weighed me.  I weigh 18 pounds and 11 ounces.  I have a regular doctor's appointment tomorrow so we'll see if it's the same and how long I am!  Regardless I'm wearing pretty much all 9 month clothes now and some 12 month ones!  My cloth diapers affect that a little bit, but I'm just too long for the 6 month clothes!

Mommy has to ban Cory from the room to get pictures of me because I follow him with my eyes wherever he is.  He really likes me though and wants to be in pictures with me.  This is good because most of the time he doesn't want to be in pictures anymore... except this one!

This is me at the park last week showing off my moving skills. I really wanted to get to the grass at the edge of the blanket, but mommy kept moving me. Something about the grass being dirty, but it just looked so interesting to chew on!

That's my life right now!  Come back next month to find out if I've figured out how to really crawl, or even pull myself up!  'cuz Mommy caught me with both hands on the rail of my crib last week too!  Look out world!

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Know You Live in the Country When...

I think I'm going to start a new occassional (and maybe learn to spell ocassional while I'm at it...) feature here.  I've noticed a few things lately that have me realizing I don't live in town anymore!  I can't even call it the city because it's not a big city, but we are certainly not there now!

A few weeks ago I walked around the corner to get the mail... which is right next to the little gas station and mini-mart.  I looked up and realized there was a tractor getting gas at the gas station.  I almost took a picture, but thought it might be a little rude!

We have bugs.  Have I mentioned the ants?  Oh, my bad, I guess I have, only about 5 million times already!  Yeah, they're still here and we've just kind of learned to keep all food put away and sealed (even the honey bear now lives in a plastic bag).  But we came home from church this week and found a very large praying mantis on our front door.  That was kind of cool!  We also have a resident cricket somewhere outside the front and he plays music for us every night!

And finally... on my way to Bible study on Wednesday I was in a rush (I'm always late) and heard this funny noise outside.  I didn't think too much of it, kind of thought it was a kid or something... and then herding the boys outside I looked up and realized we had 2 turkeys and a chicken in our front yard!  I think they belong down the street a ways because they certainly weren't scared of us.  I knew the guy had a goose and a rooster, but didn't realize he had turkeys too!  That was fun!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Going to the Fair

Ah, it was fair time again last week! We went on Friday, Kid's Day, and I must say I was super impressed by the entertainment this year, about 100 steps above last year's foul mouthed entertainer. We were drawn to the stage when we first walked in to find a "magician" doing fun tricks and silly stunts punctuated with witty sayings that had all the parents laughing too.

We visited all the animals again, but had a scare when my friends middle child wandered off. He was found and announced on the loud speaker in the building, but not before she practically had a heart attack.

After that Cory wanted to know what these "balls" were and upon closer inspection he decided he would like to try it.

After Nana shelled out the $5 and he got in he pretty quickly decided he didn't really like it. I think he was scared.  Much more appropriate for kids about 5 and up.

My friend's two boys, notice the older one on the right is actually really getting into it.

When they went to get him out they spun the ball and flipped him, which he loved.  The weight limit was 240 pounds so it would be fun for a lot of adults too.  I wanted to try, but with Noah and everything I just didn't have the right opportunity.

We met the Wild wolf from our local hockey team.  Cory was super excited to see all the characters in costume this year, unlike last year when as close as he would get was to give Sparky high five.

He even climbed up in the wolf's lap in a tractor.

After a fun presentation on the light spectrum from a local PUD guy, we ate lunch, checked out the kids' exhibits, and then found the line for the balloon animal guy.
Cory was very patient and then asked for a...


I'm not sure if he'd seen one already or if he just came up with that on his own though.  Super cute!  Unfortunately it didn't even last until we got home.  FYI, balloon animals aren't made to be kid-handled, they come apart easily!

The weather was perfect, we met lots of friends, and that was our day at the fair!

Friday, September 10, 2010

PSF: The Many Adventures of Noah

Since Noah can't talk yet, the adventures are best described in pictures...

My big brother loves me!

The following pictures are in chronological order, pinky swear!

Brother's toys are way more interesting than mine and I will go get them!  Even when I have them and then put them out of my reach, I will get them again!  (that's exactly what happened!)
And Cory wasn't anywhere around or he might have had a fit that Noah was chewing on his "Mater and McQueen from the cake" as he calls them, since they came on his 3rd birthday cake!
Also please note the corner of the box in the first picture that looks a bit ragged... yes, I wasn't paying close enough attention and my baby was teething on a box.  Whoops!

Yesterday Cory was at Nana's house so Mama could get some things done, especially some curtains that our windows are still (after six months!) lacking!  The sewing machine is right next to Noah's crib...

Let me out Mama!

That's a little better!

How come you're not picking me up???

Alright, I can watch!

It was pretty fun having him right there next to me while I worked!
(Please excuse the weird coloring, my camera was having a heck of a time with the auto white balance what with 2 incandescent bulbs in the room and the shaded sunlight coming in the window!  Hey, a girl's got to have light to sew by!)

Today's adventure: Going to the county fair!  Pictures later!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Book: The Thorn

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Thorn
Bethany House (September 7, 2010)

Beverly Lewis

Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."

Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives.

Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop's foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose's sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings.

Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding? Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband.

Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?


This book literally came yesterday so I haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I've read one other book by Beverly Lewis (The Secret) and really liked it.  I've read a lot of Amish fiction and Beverly Lewis is one of the best when it comes to this genre in my opinion!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Thorn, go HERE.  

P.S. I've finished Pearl in the Sand if you want to read my updated review!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: In My Backyard

These are called Iron Cross and the flowers are actually about the size of a quarter, if that.  They are the only of the 6 types of bulbs my sister-in-law gave me that have really bloomed this year.  I do have 2 or 3 of the gladiolas that have a couple of flowers, but for the most part I think I planted them all too late!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Of Times Gone By

This past weekend was an all time staff retreat at Camas Meadows, the camp where I spent every summer from the time we moved until I graduated from high school.  I have a LOT of memories there.  But it's also been about 12 years since I spent any significant time there.  The summer staff now were campers of the kids who were my campers way back when!

The people have changed, and sadly most of my friends did not show up.  But the place, the atmosphere, the feelings that camp brings up haven't really changed at all!  Oh sure, there are a few remodels here and there, the carpet is a different color.  But I can still find my way around in the dark!  (the camp runs on a generator which literally gets turned off at lights out time!)

After some getting to know you time on Friday night I needed to put my boys to bed (we were the only ones with children so we got the speaker's cabin - a little weird right there since that was always forbidden territory!).  I heard a ruckus start up downstairs and when I came out to the balcony here's what I saw.

At first I thought my worlds were colliding as my first thought was a Bruin Brawl from college!  But then I remembered that we used to do this as well and it's not exactly a brawl.  It's all the guys making a human knot and then the girls having to pull them off one by one.  From my vantage point I was unimpressed with the girl's teamwork.  As you can see there are plenty just standing around.  And from above I could also see when a guy's grip was tenuous, but I don't think they could see that.  And yes, that is my husband on the lower right, the flip flopped feet hanging out. (no girls would grab his feet because he started yelling that they smelled bad, so he was safe for quite awhile until they went and found some paper towels!)

 Inspiration Point

On Saturday after lunch I hiked my boys out to Inspiration Point.  I think this might have been the first time I'd ever been out there with really little people who we had to keep from "looking" over the edge!  It's such a cool place at any time of the day or night and not really that much of a hike either.

There wasn't a real set schedule for this camp, mostly we hung around and talked to friends we knew and made some new ones.  We enjoyed the fabulous camp food (you think I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not, it really is awesome!  and I didn't have to cook it so double awesome!)  Finally a couple of guys that were my age showed up!  Sadly, just before we were ready to come home.

Indy, Yogi, Gilligan, and Me

Indy and Gilligan were pretty much inseparable back then.  All the crazy antics that were pulled and stories I could tell... :)  Yogi is Gilligan's older brother and we actually see quite a bit of him around as he and Brian play games and do Bible study together (incidentally his name is Brian too).

And yes, camp really does bring out the wild side in me!  I was "impersonating" myself from a staff picture I'd seen earlier in the day.  Notice that on the edge of my shirt is my camp nickname... yeah, I got it for a reason!

Some day I hope my boys have as good of summer memories as I do!  Maybe not at this particular camp (I can hope though!), but some where making lifetime friends!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Book: Pearl in the Sand

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pearl In The Sand
Moody Publishers (September 1, 2010)

Tessa Afshar


Tessa Afshar was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her mid-twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDIV from Yale University where she served as co-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full and part-time Christian work and currently serves as the leader of Women’s and Prayer ministries at a church in Connecticut.

Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes. At the age of fifteen Rahab is forced into prostitution by her beloved father. In her years as a courtesan, she learns to mistrust men and hate herself. Into the emotional turmoil of her world walks Salmone, a respected leader of Judah. Through the tribulations of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth in God and find healing from fear and rejection.


While I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, I have high hopes for it.  I really enjoy books that take a character from the Bible that usually has very little written about them and creates a story about their life.  If it is well done it makes you re-think your preconceived notions of who that person was.  Like the story about the Samaritan woman at the well, which was one of my favorite books last year.

ETA: This is one of those books that will stick with me.  It was really really well written and the sub-story of Rahab learning to let go of her past is relevant to all ages.  I really appreciated that Tessa included bits of the story of the Nation of Israel in her narrative so that I had a feel for the setting.  Rather than just have it be in a desert camp there was also the story of Achan and the day the sun stood still.  It helped me remember that although this was a fictionalized account these things really did happen.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pearl In The Sand, go HERE

Boy Quotes #4

Cory says, "I want to go play at the (local) Park!"
I say, "What do you want to do there?"
Cory says, "I want to play on the jingle bells!"

Gone to the pool with Papa when they come home we asked what he had done.  He said he was diving under water for the colored seahorses.  Nana asked where the seahorses came from and he said, "They kill the seahorses and then turn them into plastic and then they color them."  And then he squirted Papa with the seahorses.  I think I'm glad the world doesn't actually run according to a 3 year old!

And yesterday at my parents the following sequence was repeated at least a dozen times while we were canning peaches...

Cory's Dog Obedience School. from Krista on Vimeo.

Sorry for the poor quality on the video, I didn't realize until I uploaded it onto the computer that the settings were set to low resolution on the camera.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Monsanto Strikes Again

Oh, I'm so all fired up right now I don't even know if I can write a coherent post.

In case any of you haven't heard, here's a little background.  Monsanto is originally a chemical company (they make Round-Up) that now also produces most of the genetically engineered seeds for our food and rBGH (also known as rBST) the artificial bovine growth hormone.  Their business practices are horrific. (I highly recommend this link - this was my first introduction to them two years ago)

Today I've come across an article in the Huffington Post talking about ice cream.  How are the two related you may ask?  Well, ice cream is made with milk, no?

I already avoid milk and butter with rBGH, but it never even occurred to me that other dairy products are made with the same milk, duh!  Thankfully I usually buy Tillamook and Lucerne brands which state directly on the label that they do not use milk from cows treated with rBGH.

So what's the big deal about rBGH?  Well, first off it has been documented as being bad for the cow.  It increases the chances of mastitis (and from a nursing mother standpoint, that's incredibly painful) as well as the cow's overall chances of becoming lame.  I'm not sure why, I just know that this is one of the side effects.  So from an animal health/cruelty standpoint this is not good.

Now, from the human standpoint there is the basic stance of, why would we want to put unknown chemicals into our bodies?  Just to "see what happens"?  I don't know many people who would willing sign up for that.  But studies have also shown a correlation between a by product of rBGH that cows produce called IGF-1 and the chances of humans then developing breast, colon, and prostate cancer.  Cows produce double the amount of IGF-1 when injected with rBGH.  Even slight increases in IFG-1 in women showed up to 7 times the risk of developing breast cancer!

This rBGH chemical is banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the entire European Union.  Once again the US is behind the curve (or perhaps being lobbied?) in outlawing a chemical that is simply a profit producer at the expense of our collective health.

Do a simple google search on Monsanto and you will find plenty of sites out there simply bashing on Monsanto.  But dig a little deeper and you will also find things like I've linked above.  Plenty of sound reasons to be skeptical of anything Monsanto claims is for the "good" of humans or the earth.

Some days all I want to do is stick my head in the sand.  (Don't even get me started on the genetically engineered seeds!  Yes, there are benefits, but there are also some major risks!)  It seems like every time I turn around there is another thing to remember to avoid.  Some are easier to remember than others.  This is one that I'll definitely be remembering! 

Non-Toxic Kids has a great post this week on how you can contact the ice cream manufacturers that are still using milk laced with rBGH.

Let's stand up for healthy living!

Ice Creams to avoid currently:


Breyers - includes:
  • Good Humor
  • Klondike
  • Popsicle
Dreyers - includes:
  • Edy's
  • Nestle
  • Haagen Dazs

Thanks to Stephanie at Metropolitan Mama for getting me started on these links today!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010