Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book: Scraps of Evidence

Scraps of Evidence

Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those few nights a week she spends with her quilting guild. Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home, and the woman acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan is attempting to communicate a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together, or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Scraps of Evidence, go HERE.

Super bummed I haven't had time to get to this one yet.  It's another in the Quilts of Love series.

Barbara Cameron is a CBD, CBA, and ECPA bestselling author of 35 books (including new series upcoming for Abingdon Press in 2011/2012) including fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers.

I sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and am the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.

My two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW).

Paris: Legos and Montmartre

Thursday, Boxing Day, the day after Christmas was an absolutely gorgeous day. After super high winds and rain earlier in the week it was so nice to see the sun!

Grandma and Grandpa took the boys to a Lego exhibit at the Hotel de Ville that we'd seen on a sign earlier in the week.

I'm sure it was nothing compare to Legoland, but seeing as how we've never really seen ANY Lego exhibit they thought it was pretty cool!

There's a dragon in the picture below...

After visiting the Legos there was a little ride out in the courtyard.

It's really fun how much Paris really does Christmas.  There was a Christmas market near the Eiffel Tower, one by the Sacre Coeur (see below) and others of our group found various ones in other places as well.

After that they took the boys to a gluten free bistro for lunch!  Yes, we actually had quite a hard time finding gluten free food in Paris...

Bethany and I set out that afternoon to the northeast part of the city in search of Helmut Newcake, a specifically gluten free bakery.  We found it, but... they were closed.  Sadly they had said on their facebook page they would be open, but when we got there we found a hand written piece of paper in the window that said closed for Christmas and the day after.  Of course the one day we tried to go...

So we continued on as planned to Montemarte... only to have our metro train give an announcement in French that had all the passengers around us chattering.  We didn't have a clue what was going on, but thought we heard the name of the next station.  When we got there the train stopped, all the lights went off and everyone got off to a very crowded station.  Guess that train wasn't going anywhere soon!  Thankfully there was one connecting train that would take us a bit nearer our destination, albeit to the side rather than the front.

We stopped in at a regular bakery for some fresh croissants, had about 5 police cars come wailing up the streets with the very European sounding sirens (and quite loud in those narrow streets with tall buildings on each side), and then walked up hill.  And uphill some more!

  This was the view from the top, looking out over Paris.

Turn around from the view and you were still looking up at the church called the Sacre Coeur.

There was a huge long line to get in and someone told me it wasn't that spectacular inside so we instead wandered around the Christmas market set up in the courtyard.

I bought a couple of pretty ornaments from this shop and chatted with him for a minute while Bethany was looking at something else.  It was interesting to hear about his life in Paris and that he was running this stand for his father while all his friends were out partying, but he had too many bills.  Sounded pretty responsible to me!

We wandered the market as we waited for the sunset.  We were not disappointed...

Sunset from Montemarte

This is the more typical view of the church when you come up from the metro station that is closest.  There is also a little cable car off to the left so you don't have to climb all.the.stairs like we did to get there!

And then we walked back through the VERY touristy street to the metro and went home.  Only an hour later than we thought we'd be back.  Whoops!  But it was a very nice day out!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book: The Dancing Master

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul---and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master---a man her mother would never approve of---but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.


Sometimes I really dislike book summaries.  This one doesn't really do it justice as Alec and Julie have their own paths of discovery while learning more about each other.

I've read pretty much all of Julie Klassen's books and for the first half of this one I thought that I was just one step ahead and knew what was coming next.  But she pulled it all out and surprised me in the end.

I do enjoy reading books about this period of time and all the crazy ways life was different then than it is now.  The little details really bring this story to life.  Suffice to say, I am thankful that I do NOT live back then, even as a high society lady.

I highly recommend any of Julie's books!


Read other reviews and purchase your own copy here.

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane---Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Twenty-two months

Where do I even start?  I guess I shouldn't have been calling them my little monkeys these past few months because they are starting to live up to their names!  I got only a couple of even half decent photos with the bunny this month so I present you a random snapshot of life with twins from the last couple weeks...

They know they're not supposed to be in the kitchen... but they come in all the time.  And how can you resist little girls in tutus who want to see what's cooking?

When you say it's time to eat (and sometimes when you don't) they run in, climb up in their chairs, and buckle themselves in saying "buckle, buckle" if they need help or if it's not meal time and they are now stuck!

This was a non-meal time buckle and then big brother decided to read them a story!

Another forbidden location is the laundry room (through the kitchen), but since they have learned how to open doors now (help me!) and that was the first one, they are quite keen to help me and Noah with his job of collecting the dirty laundry for me to wash.  Although in this case it's clean laundry going onto my bed to be sorted.

They have discovered that if the boys door is open they can run in and flip themselves over the rail into Noah's bed.  They lay down and demand "banket" to be covered up so they can pretend to sleep!  Here's hoping they like that idea just as much when we let them have big girl beds... which is probably coming soon considering how well they have mastered climbing... they just haven't figured out that they CAN get out of their cribs yet!


They love books, but won't sit still through much reading right now.  Hope for some reason loves this little Elmo book and carries it around with her all the time and gets very upset when her sister picks it up pointing and yelling "Eh-mo!"

On reading: We had (yes, it got over loved and is now gone) a counting book.  On page 2 there are two piglets eating apples.  On page four there are four fish.  For some reason when we get to page four and I ask what they are the girls like to say "apple!" and laugh hysterically.  Now when you want them to name something and they want to be silly they call it an apple.  It is of course adorably cute.

They will finally let me put tiny ponytails in and leave them alone.  Not so much any other hair clips, but at least they aren't brushing their hair out of their eyes every 10 seconds anymore.

I sort of got their attention by asking them to point to all the parts of bunny's face.  Then I tried bribing them with chocolate (mini M&M's).  That only lasted so far as they could ask for more... that's the finger motion here.

And then Hope was done.  Joy was willing to climb up again and put the bunny in the right place, but she wanted to sit in her sister's spot!

They do play together and when they aren't fighting over the same toys or hitting each other with them I will find them like this.  Or hear them giggling and find they are having a tea party and feeding each other out of the tea cups with the spoon.

When we are sitting anywhere we must have a "banket" to stay warm!  I think they got that from me always needing a blanket in the morning when I would nurse them, coming from my warm bed to sit on the couch!  And, in another milestone I have decided that we are done nursing.  Twenty two months is a good long time and it was starting to hurt a little again.  I don't miss that, just the snuggling.  Although Joy did come up to me tonight and say "nuggle?"  Of course she needed a banket to keep us warm!

As you can tell the girls are talking more and more although they often swap out the first consonant of one word for another so you need a bit of context to know what they are saying!

Joy - "Nammies" for Jammies and "Shoo-ha" for Shoe and other words that she can't quite pronounce get an extra "ha" on the end!
Says I love you - the only way you know is that she matches your inflection and says it when you say it because it really sounds like "I ya ya"
I often say "there you go" when we're done with something or I get them something and she will sometimes say it if I don't "aye ya go"

Hope - "Pockle" for Pretzels
Is a little bossy and will say "Shhh, quiet!" when her sister is screaming and also tell her to "get down" when she's climbed up somewhere she shouldn't be... like on top of the filing cabinet in their room!
Says "ah, man!" just like Cory
Says "happy" when you give her something she wants/likes.  Usually in reference to food.
Hope loves "truck!"s and points them out all the time.

Both make some animals sounds, the cutest being "foof foof" for dogs! Others - meow, quack, ribbit, moo, and of course the trains go woo woo.

We've also discovered the joy of "sticker!" in the past week.  Although they still like to chew on them and that renders them un-sticky!

Speaking of climbing above... the other night I was painting a little in their room and Joy pushed the rocking chair (the lighter one) up to the dresser next to me.  She then climbed up, put her fingers on top and her toes on one of the drawer edges and was up at eye level with me checking out the top of the dresser.  Oy!

The sisters are outgrowing their 18 month clothes and wearing a lot of 24M and some 2T clothes, but of course not in pants.  Those just fall off.  They like undressing themselves and trying to "re-dress" themselves.  Hope is better at it right now often getting her shirt back on with head and arms in the appropriate holes, but sometimes inside out and/or backwards!

And there is a dress that is in my mom's family... her cousin has it and we were going to have the girls take photos in it while we were gathered after New Year's, but I got a little sick and we forgot.  So she mailed it to me and I just managed to squeeze the girls into it.  I wore it at 18 months so I'm lucky they are a little small for their age!

Here's me...


and Joy...

My sister in law got me a reflector for Christmas so I used it to take these.  I love how it changes the lighting, but I need a little more practice to not get hot spots!  Should have used the white side rather than the silver I think, but I have limited time to mess with things when it comes to two wiggly girls!

Each weigh just under 27 pounds and I think they're right around 32 inches based on measuring them in Old Navy last month on the wall chart.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Paris: For Christmas!

This is actually a photo from when we first arrived. The boys were having a boys convention by the fire place!

This one was in the evening after our long day at the Eiffel Tower.  Our new baby cousin Cassia that we've just met who was born in July!

We didn't do much on Christmas Eve, but hang out, sleep, and then half the crew went to a Christmas Eve service in the local area.  It was cold and very very windy and I knew my children would not sit nicely so we didn't go.  I volunteered to make dinner instead so I got a turn at the industrial oven...

First, 4 pounds of shrimp in France is 4 pounds of cooked, but whole shrimp.  Yes, even the heads.  I don't mind as we used to go shrimping when I was a kid, the only problem is they are WAAAAY more difficult to clean and de-vein when they're already cooked.  Brian spent quite a few hours that afternoon.  I then managed to completely burn my first batch of butter and garlic in the oven because it went from solid to burnt in about 3 minutes!  Whoops!

Sadly, when dinner was all ready I had rice... because I had gotten sick.  On Christmas morning I enjoyed the brunch... which was also a mistake.  So I sat in one spot on the couch and took photos of everyone else opening their gifts (mostly the kids really) and then I went back to bed and missed Christmas dinner.  Bummer.

Singing is very much a tradition so we sang a lot of Christmas carols.  ALL the verses!

It's so much fun for me to see my niece and nephew wearing clothes that our kids wore! (both the pj's here)  William got lots of fun gifts brought along from Joel's family.  New books!

I forgot.  On the morning of Christmas Eve Brian, Grandpa, and the boys went out in search of a toy store.  I got to visit it later in the week... it was maybe as big as two small bedrooms with doorways in between.  Crazy!  But they found some fun stuff...

Grandpa with a wind up music box.

Cory checking out something.  Seriously, can you believe how tall this kid is?

This is how my children move when they're opening presents... no dawdling!

The boys had picked out wooden dragons.  Very fun.  And very random, they each picked the other's favorite color.

Noah helping sister, Joy figuring it out on her own.  And my fabulously wonderful friend Bethany who came along as our nanny.  Especially as I spent a lot of time in bed she was a great help.

Enough with this paper, what's inside???!!!!

Joy found the prize, a new book!

More lovely family photos, for the benefit of family here who doesn't get to see them!

A very nice blanket for William from his other grandma.

So, that evening we had planned to take half the crew out to the Eiffel Tower to see the light show.  It goes for 5 minutes at the top of the hour so you don't want to be late.  Brian stayed back with the girls - who would have been extra cranky since we aimed for the 8pm show - but I think everyone else went except Grandpa and maybe Grandma.

Here's Cassia on the Metro checking out the other passengers!

When we got there it was a bit windy, but alright.  There were lots of vendors throwing these LED lit toys way up in the sky so the boys were enthralled by that.  Unfortunately as we were waiting it started to rain, and it was windy.  Not so pleasant.  But we did see the lights.  Don't bother with the sound unless you want to hear poor William wailing, but you can get the idea if you watch this short video!

Eiffel Tower Light Show from Krista on Vimeo
 We also saw this advertisement every time we walked back from the Metro.  I took a photo on the first night so we could look it up.  Grandma and Grandpa ended up taking the boys to see it later in the week!  (I would love those photos Grandpa if you want to send them to me!)

Legos in Paris, what fun! 

And thus ends Christmas Day in Paris!