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

19 February 2017

2017 Book Review #6: Earnest

 
Although I don't own a dog, nor do I care for them all that much (but I don't dislike them either), I have read a couple of  books centered around these animals and this one jumped out at me from the library shelf because he looks similar to my neighbor's dog.  This was a light read, full of humor, a bit of drama, romance, and a little bit of suspense.

STORY SUMMARY

Jeff and his girlfriend Anna share a condo on  Gamble Island, about a half hour ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. They've been a couple for 3 years and in that time, adopted a golden retriever whom they named Earnest.

Jeff is an architect who commutes by ferry to Seattle every day.  Anna owns her own flower shop called Plant Parenthood and runs the shop from the old historic  Victorian house in the downtown area of Gamble, that she grew up in with her grandmother.  Her best friends, Joy, who owns a gift shop, and Lauren, who owns a hair salon, all rent a portion of the house as well.

  Their landowner is a very wealthy but annoying woman named Mrs Blackmoore whom they jokingly call Mrs Scroogemore. The house remains very dear to Anna especially now that her grandmother has died.....it has a lot of memories for Anna and she hopes to continue to run her flower shop from it.  Earnest spends his day with Anna at the flower shop.  He loves Anna and Jeff and all three of them make up a cozy family unit.  Anna and Jeff do plan on getting married and having children one day....as soon as they save up some money.

That dream is threatened one day by something that Jeff does....and now Anna feels she can no longer trust him.  The house has always represented family, home, safety and security to her.

Earnest becomes confused when Jeff moves out after a big fight with Anna about the future of the house.  Anna stays in the condo with Earnest and a mediator helps Jeff and Anna work out a schedule for them to share Earnest.  Earnest becomes depressed and then one day gets hit by a car.

Earnest, unbeknownst to Anna and Jeff, is suffering from their breakup.  They begin to realize it when Earnest stops enjoying all of his favorite things.  Earnest is devoted to both of them and it is through his honesty, stubbornness, and wisdom, that helps Anna come to terms with her past, learn to live in the present, and embrace the future.

Will that future include Jeff?? and what's going to happen to Grammy's house??

MY THOUGHTS

I loved this book!  Earnest is pivotal in this book.  He has a role to play in Jeff and Anna's personal lives as well as in their lives as a couple and the author does a fantastic job with pointing out character flaws in each of the humans, getting them to change for each other.

I loved that while reading this book, it reminded me of how young children feel when their parents go through a break up.  So many similar feelings and actions!  

The dog character teaches the humans what is important in life.....I loved that.  There are funny moments and sad moments.  Dramatic pauses and romantic nuances.  It is all done so well.
This story really shows the devotion of a canine to his humans!

Although I'm not a dog lover, I did indeed fall in love with Earnest.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.




18 February 2017

Slow-Cooked Meatball Soup

In our house, we really like slow cooker meals, especially during the work week and most especially during the autumn-spring months.  Last week I discovered a super yummy meatball soup that I tweaked just slightly (using turkey meatballs vs beef/sausage).  It's easy to throw together before leaving for work.

image courtesy of taste of home

SLOW COOKER MEATBALL SOUP

3 medium carrots, sliced
1/2 frozen peas
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
dash of pepper
1 pkg (24 oz)  frozen fully cooked turkey meatballs
1 carton (32 oz) low sodium beef broth
2 cans (14 oz each) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
2 c. water
3/4 c. dry red wine or additional water
3/4 c. ditalini or other small pasta
4 c. fresh baby spinach
grated Parmesan cheese

  • Place first 11 ingredients into a slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
  • Stir in pasta; cover and cook on high until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Discard the bay leaf and stir in the spinach until it wilts.
  • Place in large soup bowls and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.
DINNER MENU IDEA
Meatball Soup
Cheddar Garlic Biscuits (we use the Red Lobster mix)
or Garlic breadsticks
Fruit cup with melon, grapes, strawberries


ENJOY!!



as with all posts under the faithfixes label, you do have permission to copy and print this recipe.


17 February 2017

Mid-February Faves

Hallelujah!!

It is mid-February and as of today at 1:30 I am officially on Winter Recess and Claire will be on break from the high school as of 2:30.  We have all of next week off which is good because we need to visit my dad in the nursing home 2 hours west of here, then take another day and go Prom gown shopping (!!) and also begin the dorm room shopping as she has a gift certificate and we wanna get started.

Meanwhile, we are pausing to find FIVE FAVES from the week...and linking up at Susanne's to share in the blessings of God.


FIVE FAVES

  • SAFE TRAVELS:  Claire went to a youth group winter retreat in the Berkshires mountains about 2 hours east of us. They left in ok weather on Friday afternoon but came home in a raging snowstorm on Sunday!! Praise God they were all safe.  Early Saturday morning, I had to drive Dave to the airport (think 3:30 a.m.) and the roads were NOT cleared at all....another 3 inches fell between midnight Friday and that hour Saturday.  But again, the missions team all got there on time, and they landed in Guatemala safely late Saturday afternoon.  Praise the Lord for His protection!

2nd major snow storm in 3 days!
part of our backyard as seen from the family room deck door
  • MORE SNOW!  So last Thursday, before the last FFF, we received about 7 inches of snow here in town.  Then very early Saturday morning, like I mentioned above, we had another couple of inches.  Some of that melted a bit when the sun came out.  THEN on Sunday morning around 8:15 a.m. the heavy snow started falling.  It fell until about 7:30 pm and never let up.  Courtney and I shoveled the driveway 3 times and kept the cars (hers and Dave's) cleared off.  By that evening, I had hired a teen neighbor boy to do the end of the driveway (the heavy stuff that the plows dump!).  It was worth paying someone for.  We ended up getting about 10 inches so we have a LOT of snow...thankfully on Tuesday it started to melt with a bit of a warm-up.  I do confess it was very pretty, looking out at it. What I wasn't thrilled with was having to drive in it to church to pick up Claire from the retreat (see above) as they were running 2 hours late.  UGH. The driving was slow but we all made it home!

  • MEMBERSHIP CLASS!  On Sunday, our oldest daughter Courtney, drove in the snowstorm to our church's sister site in the town north of us (a 20 min drive) to take the membership class that was being held and taught by our senior pastor.  Even though the drive was horrible in the storm, she made it safely, meeting her friend there along with about 25 other people.  The thing I praise God for is that she wants to become a covenant member of our church!!  This makes us so happy.  Although we don't expect her to live with us forever, it is fun to still have her at home while she looks for a full time job and see her growing in Christ with her friends who are also still living around here.  I thank God that she heard the Lord speak to her and followed His direction!


Happy Valentine's (in French)


my message from Claire in French!
Can you translate it??


My message in Russian: I love you.
  • VALENTINE SURPRISE!  Tuesday was Valentine's Day and my daughters knew I was kind of bummed that Dave is out of the country on the missions trip.  We've never been apart on Valentine's Day in all 26 years of our marriage. I really wasn't expecting anything.  But Claire totally surprised me....when I walked in from work, this heart and carnation was on the kitchen counter.  She had made Valentines in French 2 class and because she also has taken Russian since 7th grade, and plans on majoring in Russian in college, she wrote part of the message in that language.  Of course I could only read and translate the French!  And carnations are sold at the high school for the teens to buy and give out so she bought me one! This was so special to me! Courtney, knowing I love chocolate coconut, gave me a small piece of dark chocolate with coconut.  Perfect!

Early evening from the deck

  • MOONLIGHT!  Once the storm subsided, this is what our backyard looked like. LOVE the moon light.

That wraps up another week.  By very late tomorrow night, my husband will be back in this country and I'm looking forward to the week off!

Happy Weekend, everyone!




13 February 2017

Pesto Sauce Gnocchi

Mondays around here are usually "meatless" as we are leaning more towards being vegetarian and our youngest daughter is now a vegan. This recipe meets all of our needs and desires.  If you have a vegan, you will need to look for prepared pesto that does not contain Parmesan cheese. I've removed the pine nuts from the original recipe and added red pepper as we love extra veggies!

The original recipe does not call for Parmesan to be sprinkled on top but a couple of us in the family like it that way so I've included it.

image courtesy of taste of home


PESTO GNOCCHI

1 pkg of potato gnocchi (16 oz)
2 tsp olive oil
1 c. diced zucchini
1/2 c. chopped sweet yellow pepper
1/2 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 c. prepared pesto
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan, optional

  • Cook gnocchi according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and then saute the veggies until the zucchini is tender.
  • Add the pesto and gnocchi and stir gently to coat.
  • Stir in the tomatoes.
TIPS:  While the water is boiling for the gnocchi, you can do step 2 as gnocchi only takes 2 minutes to cook!

Place the Parmesan cheese in a small serving bowl for people who desire this topping.  If you don't have a vegan in the group, simply add the cheese to the top of the gnocchi, gently stirring.

DINNER IDEA

Pesto Potato Gnocchi
Field Greens with sliced cucumbers and a dash of Tuscan Italian dressing
Garlic Biscuits or breadsticks

ENJOY!!



as with all of the recipes under the faithfixes label, you do have permission to copy and print out this post!

10 February 2017

Mid-Winter Faves

Well, we are technically past the mid-winter point, but it sure does still feel like winter just began around here! I can't complain too much though as it really hasn't been a rough one this year in eastern New York State.  Most of our days have been snow-free and rather mild compared to 2 years ago!!

I'm sharing FIVE blessings that popped up in my week.....little things that help get me through the winter months.  What are your FAVES from the week?  You can link up here.


image courtesy of Avon
  • CREAMY WASH:  I LOVE this shower gel/creamy wash for the winter months.  The original scent Skin so Soft by Avon (my sister Hope sells it!).  It doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy at all, and rinses off so well and is so creamy you can even shave your legs with it!  I LOVE it and stock up for the winter-late spring months.

  • SCARVES:  I love infinity scarves in the colder months.  This black one is a gift from my oldest daughter...she bought it for me for Xmas.  I LOVE it....I wear it to work or church on very cold, windy days and it really keeps me warm.
                                        


  • STEAMING COFFEE: I love steaming mugs of coffee on cold winter mornings.  And again after work.  And again after dinner!  Seriously, I just love it when my coffee mug is steaming....there's nothing better in my opinion! My current fave is Sumatran Reserve by Green Mountain Coffee.


  • HAND LOTION:  I've been using the Naked Bee hand lotion for a little over a year now...I love it so much that I ended up buying the larger tube for the body. I find it locally in Saratoga Springs. You can also get it in certain health food stores or online.  My absolute fave is the Orange Blossom Honey.  They have several different scents.  I tend to stick to the Orange Blossom.  It's creamy and really softens dry winter skin.
from the front door Thursday morning
  • SNOW DAYS!  Well, yesterday we had our 2nd snow day of the school year and they both happened within 2 weeks of each other! (we have also had 3 delays this school year).  The first time was mainly because of ice.  This time, real winter arrived here in the Capital Region of NYS!  This is the most snow we've had since 2015 at once.  When I took this photo it was about 11 a.m. and my oldest daughter had just found out that the arts store where she works was closing for the day so she didn't have to go in for her shift.  Of course all the schools were closed so Claire and I were already home enjoying our coffee and books.  Dave even worked from home as many of the software engineers were doing the same thing.  He did have a conference call with Europe that wasn't too successful due to some lines being down due to the blizzard.  Apparently, where my in laws live south of Boston, they were getting a LOT more than we did.  They had blizzard warnings!  I love snow days and am thankful for them but it can be done now.  
That wraps up my faves for the week.

Whatever weather you are facing, embrace it.  I love all 4 seasons and can't imagine living anywhere other than the Great Northeast.  

But...I confess...I do prefer the warmer months.....thinking SPRING here.....

ENJOY THE WEEKEND!



09 February 2017

2017 Book Review #5: The Truth According to Us


I discovered this author when I was helping in a 1st grade classroom a couple of years ago with a group of special needs children.  The author has written the children's book series "Ivy and Bean". 

 She also wrote another adult fiction book that one of my sisters read but I never did.  This one I just finished was very entertaining....humor, drama, romance, and mystery.

STORY SUMMARY

It is the summer of 1938 and the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia is about to celebrate their sesquicentennial of the founding of the town.

Layla Beck, whose father is a United States senator, has cut her off from her allowance and is demanding that she go to work.  She has been a child of privelege and very spoiled.  She is in her early 20s and refuses to marry the man her parents desire for her.  Her father arranges for her to work on the Federal Writers' Project which is a New Deal jobs program. She is to write the history of Macedonia which is a very small mill town and quite different from the nation's capital.

She is convinced she will go crazy with boredom in such a backwards town.

No one in the town knows she is the daughter of a senator. Until someone figures it out...who does??

She boards at the Romeyn house which consists of several of the Romeyn family members:  Jottie, the oldest girl and still single,  her younger twin sisters Minerva and Mae (all in their 30s) who live there during the week yet go home to be with their husbands on the weekends, Felix their divorced brother who is father to Willa  (age 12) and Bird (age 9).  Willa and Bird are being raised by Jottie as Felix is always on the go...he is a salesman. And a womanizer.  Jottie, Felix and the twins have a younger brother Emmett who lives in a nearby town and is still single as well.

Once Layla begins to learn about the town's history, she is drawn into the Romeyn family's history as well...and soon discovers that it is very complex.

Meanwhile, Willa is determined to find out all the family secrets.  She begins to snoop around and discovers that her father actually has a mystery regarding his job.  She also discovers the reason her Aunt Jottie has remained unmarried!  And it is quite a story. 

 What parts are truth? What parts are mere gossip?

As Layla begins to uncover the real history of Macedonia and discovers town legends that might actually be true, Willa is peeling back the many layers of her own family's history.....and begins to grow up a little more each day that passes through that long, hot summer.

Everyone involved is transformed in some way.  And personal histories will be completely re-written!

MY THOUGHTS

Oh wow.  This was a very intriguing and entertaining story.

The setting is wonderful.....so descriptive of a small mill town set in the Depression era.

The people are so real you feel like you want to meet them and chat with them.

It is a kind of "coming of age" story for Willa and a story about the bonds of familial love and of the relationship she has with her father and with her aunt.

True love, betrayal, forgiveness and friendship are all themes that run throughout this story.  Add to that mix a whole lot of humor and you have one amazing book.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some mature content).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9. (it was a little long).