"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

15 January 2017

2017 Book Review #2: Three Wishes


I discovered this author a couple of years ago and read 2 of her books.  This one seems to be one of her first novels.  I borrowed it from my sister who likes to buy all kinds of fiction.  It was a good read about the lives of triplets, set in Australia, which happens to be where the author lives.

The story is told from the view of spectators as well as from all three girls.

STORY SUMMARY

Gemma, Cat, and Lyn are triplets.  Cat and Lyn are identical. 

 Gemma is the one who doesn't have a steady career, just lots of different jobs.  She used to be a teacher and she used to have a fiance who died after being hit by a car just before their wedding.  Gemma was relieved.  She has recently begun dating a guy named Charlie whom she thinks could finally "be the one".

Cat is married to Dan and trying to get pregnant. She works for a chocolate company. She has also just discovered something about her marriage which leaves her wondering if life is worth living.

Lyn is married to Michael, who used to be married to a woman named Georgina and has a teen daughter whom he has custody of, named Kara.  Lyn and Michael have a baby girl who is about to turn 2, named Maddie (Madelaine).  Lyn owns her own catering business and is a type A personality.  She makes "to do" lists and has goals stretching far into the future.

The Kettle triplets, as they are known as, have parents who've been divorced since they were about 6 years old.  They are in their 33rd year of life and the book actually opens on the evening of their 34th birthday.  It then goes back a year to where we learn about their lives at age 33 leading up to that birthday celebration in a restaurant that really is the climax of the story.

During their 33rd year of life, we learn about their sibling rivalry, their secrets, and their various relationships.  We learn about someone's unfaithful husband, and someone's unthinkable decisions.  We also get a glimpse into life full of frivolity, frustrations, and family.....and what it is like to be forever part of a trio.

MY THOUGHTS

This book is humorous.  It is just full of funny anecdotes but it also has a sad side and a serious side.  There is some drama in it, mainly centered around Cat and Gemma.

My favorite sister was Gemma but I am more like (in life style and personality, Lyn).  The sister named Cat drove me crazy but towards the end I warmed up to her.  I really don't want to reveal too much in case you read this book.

This book is wonderfully refreshing.  The humor is just perfect.

I love that the author had short anecdotes throughout the book told in the voices of various spectators who have known the triplets throughout their lives.

This book also touches on emotional and some physical abuse from Gemma's finance.  I found it interesting that the author chose to have Gemma keep this secret from her sisters.  It is important to note it, because it gives a clue as to why Gemma lives her life the way she does.  Again, I don't want to reveal too much.

This book touches on other real life problems like infidelity, infertility and miscarriage, and divorce.  It also touches on the effect of divorce on children, both the triplets and the character named Kara (Michael's daughter).  It also touches on panic attacks, which I found interesting, especially because of which triplet was experiencing them.  It teaches that sometimes we do need to make changes to our life styles.

This book has a great deal of tension in it that resolves itself in numerous ways. 

I loved trying to guess what was going to happen and at one point I thought Dan would come back to Cat...when that doesn't happen, you realize just what Cat needs to do to become emotionally healthy.

Each sister goes through something of a transformation and you will be delighted with how the humor carries this novel to break up the heavier issues the author brings to light.

I highly recommend this very quick read.  I would love to see a movie of this book...it would be awesome!  Especially if Hollywood stuck to the plot as written.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.





13 January 2017

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Rice Bowls



So, living with a vegan daughter has made life very interesting.  I'm finding that it's fun to cook and discover new and good for us recipes. This one is just that!

This recipe comes from the latest Simple and Delicious magazine but I've tweaked it a bit for our preferences.

BLACK BEAN & SWEET POTATO RICE BOWLS

1 c. uncooked rice blend
(I use Rice Select's Royal Blend which is a mix of texmati white, brown, wild, and red....it is a legit non GMO product, too)
1/4 tsp garlic salt or garlic powder
1 1/2 c. water
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 c. red onion, finely chopped
2 c. fresh baby kale or spinach
1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp pineapple salsa or sweet chili sauce 
(I use the salsa)
1 c. sweet corn, cooked 
(I use frozen corn, microwaved for about 3 min)
2 tsp lime juice
lime wedges, optional
tortilla wraps
(we use spinach wraps)
tortilla chips, optional

  • Cook rice according to package directions with the garlic and water.
  • Meanwhile, saute the potato in 2 Tbsp of the olive oil for about 8 minutes and then add in the onion.  
  • Stir often and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the baby spinach or kale.  Stir and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the beans, stirring and cooking on simmer for another 1-2 minutes.
  • To the rice, add the lime juice, salsa (or chili sauce) and the remaining olive oil.
  • Add rice to a large bowl and pour the potato mixture on top.  Stir well.
  • Add in the cooked corn and stir again.
  • Top with lime wedges.
  • Serve in crisp tortilla shells (baked in tortilla baking bowls on 425 for 7 minutes) OR simply put in warmed tortilla and roll up.
  • Serve corn chips on the side or for dipping.
TIPS:  You can use regular minute rice but the rice blend is a healthier option.

Also:  if you don't have tortillas in the house, you can simply place the rice mixture in deep cereal bowls.  If you are not vegan, you can add shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

MENU

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Rice Bowls
Fresh cut mango, kiwi or strawberries for a side dish

ENJOY!!



PLEASE NOTE:  as with all recipes under the "faithfixes" label, you do have permission to copy and print this recipe.

Wacky Weather Faves



It's Friday already, and for me it flew by....I had Wednesday off which broke up the week for sure.  That was an added bonus!


I'm sharing FIVE of my fave moments from the past week and linking up with others who pause to give thanks to God for our blessings.

FIVE FAVES




  • FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT:  Saturday evening was bitter cold. It was only about 12 degrees F.  No one felt like going anywhere so we decided to watch the first Harry Potter movie.  Of course both my daughters have seen it many times and my oldest owns her own copy so she popped it in for us and we had loads of fun.  My husband and I had never seen it before and it was actually very well done!  Several of the characters were exactly as how I pictured them in the book.  It was a fun night....we all drank hot tea or coffee and just enjoyed the time together under fleece blankets and candle light. I'm thankful our daughters still enjoy our winter evening family nights.

behind the Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, MA
  • GIRLS DAY OUT!  Sunday, although very bitter cold with a high of 19 degrees and only 11 degrees on the mountain pass we had to drive over in the Berkshires of MA, the girls and I decided to take advantage of this art museum's free Sunday admission. It's only about a 55 minute drive for us. The museum is featuring a Japanese art exhibit for a few months.  I hadn't been there since our youngest was 2 and she is now 18! My oldest went during a French class field trip a couple years before leaving for college and it was my youngest daughter's first time. We all enjoyed the day. The town had about 2 inches of snow on the ground which is 2 inches more than in our town! We enjoyed walking in it from the car to the museum. Once inside, we warmed up with hot coffee from the cafe and then enjoyed the art, taking our time in the Japanese section. It was truly a Sabbath day for me. I'm thankful God has given us art. 
my childhood pastor, "The Rev" and my self
11 January 2017

me and Nancy, the Rev's 4th daughter
  • VISIT NORTH:  Wednesday was a day off for me, so I drove north to a town where I often hike and swim in the summer months.  I wanted to see my childhood pastor...the one who prayed with me at age 15 when I first accepted Christ as Savior. He and his wife are in their mid-80s, a couple years older than my dad.  The two families have been friends since about 1952 when my parents got married.  My folks had 4 daughters and they had 5.  Their youngest, Jean, was one of my best friends growing up and we ended up rooming together one year at RWC. Of course we have all remained good friends our whole lives.  Nancy, pictured above, happened to be up from her home in Georgia so that was a bonus. I went for a visit because Rev (we always have called him that...his real name is Richard, like my dad!) had just had some surgery and I wanted to bring him a little gift and visit him.  The drive is only about an hour away so it made for a nice visit with time to get home to the evening routines.  How I thank God for this family. There is nothing like long time friends in Christ.



  • SERVICE OPP:  Dave and I are on a service project team at church with some of his fellow missions team members.  We are going to be doing a special evening for young children in a trailer park just a bit north of us here in town.  We have decided to do a cookie decorating contest as the main activity with stations set up  around the community center that feature board games and a coloring activity.  That will be happening the end of this month and I'm excited that everything is coming together. Even our teenager is going to help out!  I'm thankful we get to serve some needy children and start to develop some relationships with them.



  • MILD WEATHER!  For the last week, we have gone from single digits at night, to temps of almost 55 degrees f the last couple of days. Here in eastern NY, we still do not have snow!  The town I was in on Wednesday, mentioned above, had a FOOT of snow.  It's just crazy around here lately.......we call it wacky winter weather.  I'm actually thankful that it's another mild winter (so far).  The snow is pretty but I am NOT a fan of everything that goes with it.
What are some blessings you discovered this week?  Please do share!

HAPPY WEEKEND!!



08 January 2017

2017 Book Review #1: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire



I'm reading through the Harry Potter series which I began last year and although my daughters have read them all, I just finished book 4 in the series. I'm not reading them back to back as I find I just can't read fantasy continuously.  Most people I know, who like fantasy, have already read all of these books.  Our oldest was only in 3rd grade when they first started appearing here in the USA and we had her wait until she was in junior high before we allowed her to read them, for a variety of reasons.

Once she convinced me they are more like "good vs. evil" along the lines of Chronicles of Narnia (which I LOVE) without all the Christian symbolism, I decided to start the series last spring.  I'm glad I did but I just can't read fantasy back to back so it will be awhile before I start Book 5.

So far I am really enjoying these children's books and I see why they are so popular!

STORY SUMMARY

Harry is now 14 years old and in his 4th year at the Hogwarts School.  He continues to spend most of his summer with his aunt (his dead mother's sister) and uncle and cousin Dudley.  The Dursleys allow him to spend a month with his best friend Ron Weasley and his large family.  Ron, his twin brothers Fred and George and little sister Ginny are all at Hogwarts as well.  Ron's older brothers also went to Hogwarts and are working in various areas.

All Harry wants to do this summer is go to the International Quidditch Cup games with Hermione, one of his best friends and a very smart girl, and the Weasley family.  He also wants to get to know Cho Chang, the girl he has a crush on.  He wants to find out about the mysterious event that will take place at Hogwarts during his 4th year of school, starting in the fall.

The event will include two other rival schools of magic and a competition that hasn't taken place for 100 years!!

Basically, Harry just wants to be a normal 14 year old wizard........but he is anything but normal.....sometimes, his life can be downright deadly!

Harry's name has been entered into the Goblet of Fire which means he will be competing against 3 other older students, one from each school, for the TriWizard Tournament Cup.  There will be 3 tasks they have to complete before they can earn the Cup.  Only one competitor will reach the Cup.

Harry has many dangerous tasks ahead and the mystery to solve about just who entered his name into the Goblet of Fire.....he is too young to compete yet his name appeared and Dumbledore says he must compete!

Will he take the Cup?  What happens when he enters the maze during the 3rd task??  Will Harry confront his worst enemy, only to find out that he is stronger than he thinks?

Read the book to learn the answers!

MY THOUGHTS

This was, in my opinion, the most exciting of the series thus far.

The story of Harry Potter, his dead parents, Sirius, and Voldemort the most Evil One a.k.a "he who shall not be named" really comes together in this 4th book.

We learn many things about the various professors at Hogwarts.  Some of those things were most surprising to me.

The most action packed chapters were centered around the entire premise of "good vs evil" and love vs hate.  This book is very well written to point the way to true friendships, love, and bravery. The very beginning of the book does have a connection but at first I was very confused.  It all does come together, especially if you go back to the first chapter after you get to the ending.

As usual, the character development of new characters to come into the story line is exquisitely done.  The author is very gifted at describing these characters to give you a very accurate picture.  Last evening, I watched the first movie, which is based on the first book in the series and almost all of the characters were just like I imagined them to be, so Hollywood definitely got this right.

Although this book is the longest one so far in the series, it was very fast-paced except for one section.  But I managed to get through that one section and then enjoyed it again. There is a lot of humor in this book, especially in regards to the quill which some time is spent on but it moves fast and is funny so definitely an attraction for children.

In this particular book, the main characters, Hermione, Ron and Harry, along with 2 new characters, each from the other schools, Viktor from Drumstrang, and Fleur from Beauxbatons, are beginning to notice the opposite sex.  They all go on what is essentially their first date (I won't give details so I don't ruin it for you).  But, the way the author does this is still ok for an 8 year old to read.  It is all done marvelously innocently and with good humor with the normal teen angst regarding dating and friendships.

Overall, with the themes of good, evil, loyalty, bravery, friendship, lots of touches of magic,  and love, you can't go wrong with this series.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 8 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.







06 January 2017

NEW YEAR FAVES!



HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my blogging friends!

Last week, we were away in Plymouth County, MA so I missed the FFF.  I'm happy to be back here to share five of my fave blessings from the last couple of weeks.  How about joining in and linking up with us at Susanne's site? 

 It is GOOD to give thanks to the Lord and find the blessings in this busy life.

  • COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE!  Claire received her first college acceptance letter in the mail on Xmas Eve!  The University of New Hampshire/Durham has offered her a place in their Honors Program and the Presidential Scholarship.  We were so happy for her!  She was very excited.  (she's still waiting to hear from another one).  UNH has everything she wants:  Russian and Sociology (Both are very good depts there) with a minor in International Affairs and a chance to continue ballet!  We are thankful for this acceptance and give God all the glory.

  • FAMILY VISIT:  We visited my dad the day after Christmas and he was so happy to see all of us.  We gave him his gifts and spent time talking with him.  Sadly, he couldn't remember our names but he did know the girls were his granddaughters and that I was his daughter. He seemed to remember Dave.  It was a good visit.  Then a few days later, we traveled in the other direction to Plymouth County, MA where we did a quick overnight visit with Dave's folks to exchange gifts with them.  It was a wonderful visit full of good food and a fun board game.  Family is something I never want to take for  granted. I'm so thankful we still have my dad and in-laws.

  • GOOD BOOK!  I just started the book pictured above.  Oh my goodness what a treat.  I was so surprised when Deb from this blog messaged me that she wanted to send it to me.  She had read it and enjoyed it.  I am loving it!!  The topic of keeping a Sabbath...even if it is not on a Sunday, has always been important to me. God tells us we need REST! I'm savoring it and most likely will end up either keeping this book and letting friends borrow it, or I will "pay it forward" and give to a friend and then go and buy my own copy!  Thanks again Deb for this awesome book!!  I'm reading it during my evening quiet time which is something I am also thankful for....long winter evenings with time to read!

  • K-CUPS:  yes, this is just a small blessing.  But I am thankful for them because it means I can come home, pop one in the Keurig for a late afternoon coffee on these colder winter days without having to deal with the coffee maker.  We have all different kinds of flavors and my current fave is the Green Mountain French Vanilla. YUMMY! 

  • STRESS FREE DENTAL VISIT!  Yesterday I had a dental appt after work because I had lost a small piece of enamel from my right front center tooth.  No one else could tell it was missing but I was petrified that my tooth was structurally damaged and would need a crown.  Hallelujah!  My dentist (who knows I am "nervous nelly" when it comes to my teeth) said there is NO decay there, (never had to have a filling in that tooth) and NO damage to the actual tooth.  He quickly bonded it, polished it and I'm good as new.  Whew. SO thankful for dental insurance through my husband and a good family dentist!
That wraps up my FFF.  

What were your faves from the week?

I hope you have a restful weekend from work......HAPPY WEEKEND!


02 January 2017

A Prosperous Life

 

So it was a few days after Christmas, but before New Year's Eve.

I was reading from the You Version Bible app's Spiritually Fit devotional.  It was centered around how Psalm 1 talks about that if we delight in God and meditate on His Words, whatever we do will prosper.  It went on to outline various ways we can "meditate" on the Scriptures.  I was taking notes in a little journal my oldest daughter had given to me a few years ago.....for this last year, 2016, I was keeping devotional notes in it....as I turned the page to continue to write, there was my life verse at the very top of the page!

The funny thing is............I had been mulling over and over in my mind, what word I wanted to "chew on" for the new year 2017 since the middle of December.
 See, about 4 years ago, I learned of this concept of having a "word of the year" and for the last 3 years I chose "Still" based on being still and knowing HE is God, "Liberty" was for 2015 and "Simplify" was for 2016.  I kept thinking I wanted the word "Trust"......it's power packed and something I still struggle with....trust.......in God alone, in others, in my self and decisions....although it has gotten easier over the years.  And there was my life verse smack dab in my face at the very top of my journal page!



So....

TRUST it is.  My word of the new year.

I have always loved the words from this Scripture.....especially the last part about God making straight our paths.  It reminds me of the photo I posted at the beginning of this anecdote.  That trail is in a state park very close to our home north of Albany, NY.  That was a clear path to take away from the Mohawk River and across the island.  However, just another half mile from that clear path, was another trail that was difficult to see......the leaves were all down in that area and the entire  trail was covered with the fall foliage.  

A


If it wasn't for the trail blazes (markers) on the trees showing us the way to go, one can quickly become turned around or lost. The path was difficult to see......we had to rely on those markers.

And this is so like God...........He wants me to embrace this word this year.  TRUST.  He wants it so much for me that He had me writing on a page with my very life verse with the word "trust" in it....talk about confirmation!

TRUST.  A total reliance on Him and His plans and purposes for my life, for Dave's life, for our daughters' lives.  For the whats and wheres of life.

Life is a journey.....and like in hiking, we do need a  clear path...a clear direction.......by trusting God to lead us, He will bring joy, peace, and delight. 

And those are the things that make up a prosperous life.