Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies...Review

About the book:
The Juice Lady, Cherie Calbom, provides all of her most popular recipes for juicing, smoothies, shakes, soups, and sauces, in one complete volume.Juice and smoothies are sweeping the nation! Why? They’re fruity, delicious, easy to make, and packed with powerful nutrition. It’s no wonder everyone is enjoying the convenience and great taste of these healthy meal and snack alternatives. Bring your blender or juicing machine into the twenty-first century with the most updated versions of Cherie’s recipes to be found anywhere—more than just refreshment, these recipes enhance your energy and boost your mental and physical health.Enjoy simple, tasty recipes for:
· Healing juices and smoothies that will help fight the flu, infections, and aging skin
· Low-carb juices and smoothies that will help you lose weight
· Green smoothies that pack a powerful punch of phytonutrients and antioxidants
· Recipes that are perfect for kids and moms on the go
· Workout and body-building drinks
· And more!

Being one who juices on a regular basis, I was curious about this book.  And, as a recipe book it's great.  There are tons of juice and smoothie recipes.  There were many fruit and vegetable combinations that were new to me and I appreciated that.  The author also includes a chapter with juice recipes that are focused on specific health issues.

One thing I would have appreciated was an index.  It would be nice to look up a recipe by specific fruit or vegetable.  Still, it's a book that is loaded with recipes and information on juicing.  Perfect for a seasoned juicer or someone new to the game.

Thanks to First Wildcard for the opportunity to review this book.  You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies...Wildcard

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Siloam (January 8, 2013)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***


Cherie Calbom, MS, is the author of The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet, The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, and Juicing for Life, which has nearly two million books in print in the United States. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, Cherie has taped HealthWatch for CNN and scores of TV and radio shows and has appeared in Shape, First for Women, Women’s World, Men’s Journal,Vogue, Quick & Simple, Marie Claire, and Elle Canada. Cherie earned a master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University, where she now serves on the Board of Regents, and has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Visit the author's website.


Juice and smoothies are sweeping the nation! Why? They’re fruity, delicious, easy to make, and packed with powerful nutrition. It’s no wonder everyone is enjoying the convenience and great taste of these healthy meal and snack alternatives. Bring your blender or juicing machine into the twenty-first century with the most updated versions of Cherie’s recipes to be found anywhere—more than just refreshment, these recipes enhance your energy and boost your mental and physical health.

Product Details:
List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162136030X
ISBN-13: 978-1621360308


The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies


MORE AND MORE celebrities, athletes, and people of all ages and walks of life are turning to juicing and green smoothies to lose weight and to improve their overall health. Why? Because they have found that juicing is changing their lives—giving them more energy, better sleep, stronger immune systems, brighter skin, and a younger appearance. It’s even helping their bodies heal from a variety of ailments. Below is a testimony I received recently from someone who has read my books and come to me for counseling.

It’s been about a month since you last spoke with me. You may not remember me because you talk with so many people. But I will never forget you. I told you about the more than fifty pounds of fluid I had retained. Using both natural and medical prescriptions, I had not been able to get rid of that fluid. I have also not been absorbing my food. You told me not to worry about my diet because I already had a healthy one but to add a green juice drink with every meal. About three weeks before I spoke with you I started drinking pure cranberry juice every day, and that was helping with the fluid. Over the three weeks I lost fifteen pounds, but I would bounce back and forth with my weight. When I added the green juice drinks, it put my body in high gear. I have lost thirty pounds. The water weight is literally just falling off of me.

You have no idea how much better I am feeling. I have energy and can physically work. I have not had energy or felt good since my last baby was born twenty-five years ago. I have not been able to push my body to work for the last five years. Now I am splitting firewood and stacking it. I  shoveled rock for our drainage system in our yard. I can  clean my own house again. Yesterday I cleaned house and stacked two cords of firewood. If you haven’t stacked  firewood, let me tell you, that’s a lot of wood. And I can walk again. For the last two years I have been fighting just to walk up and down my short driveway, feeling totally exhausted  and in pain afterward. Now I am easily walking a mile and have energy to burn. I feel great and have no pain when I’m  finished. And my fibromyalgia pain is almost gone.
For the last five years I have been fighting to stay alive.
 Now for the first time in years I feel alive. I am no longer on Lasix and have cut back most of my nutritional  supplements. I was taking over $500 worth of supplements a month, and it was bankrupting us. Last year my doctor told  me to apply for disability because my body was dying. I  could no longer function. The naturopathic physician I used  to work for told me that my husband and I needed to accept  the fact that my body was dying. He told us to purchase  better health insurance and prepare for the worst. I wish he  could see me now.

Long story short, Cherie, I am so grateful to you for taking  the time to talk with me. I know you probably hear stories  like mine all the time, but for me it’s new and life saving.  Thanks for pointing me to the path of life. You have been  one of God’s blessings and a lifesaver in the most literal  sense of the word.

 I hope her story encourages you to juice every day. With more than four hundred delicious recipes, The Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you change your life, just as juicing has changed the lives of thousands of people who have adopted this plan for themselves—people just like me. My life changed years ago when I discovered the healing, vitality-producing power of freshly made juices and raw and whole foods.

Sick, Tired, and Completely Toxic

I sat by the window in my father’s home in Colorado staring at the snow-topped mountains in the distance, imagining that people were enjoying the hiking trails; perhaps someone was climbing the mountain that day. It was early June and a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. I wished I had the strength to just walk around the block. But I was too sick and tired—I could barely walk around the house. I had been sick for a couple of years and just kept getting worse. “Would I ever be well again?” I wondered.

I had to quit my job when I turned thirty. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia that made me so sick I couldn’t work. I felt as though I had a flu that just wouldn’t go away. I was lethargic and constantly feverish with swollen glands. I was also in nonstop pain. My body ached as though I’d been bounced around in a washing machine.

 I had moved back to my father’s home in Colorado to try and recover, but not one doctor could tell me what I should do to improve my health. So I browsed around some health food stores, talked with employees, and read a few books. I decided that everything I’d been doing was tearing down my health rather than healing my body. When I read about juicing and whole foods, it made sense. So I bought a juicer and designed a program I could follow.

I began my health program with a five-day vegetable juice fast. On the fifth day my body expelled a tumor the size of a golf ball. I was totally surprised that in five days this amazing result could take place. I never did have the tumor tested because I was too taken back and overwhelmed by the event. I just flushed it away.

I then continued to juice every day and ate a nearly perfect diet of live and whole foods for three months. There were ups and downs throughout. On some days I felt encouraged that I was making some progress, but on other days I felt worse. Those days made me wonder if good health was an elusive dream. I didn’t realize I was experiencing detox reactions—no one had told me about them. I was very toxic, and my body was cleansing away all the stuff that had made me sick.

But one morning I woke up around 8:00 a.m., which was early for me, without an alarm sounding off. I felt like someone had given me a new body in the night. I had so much energy I actually wanted to
exercise. What had happened? This new feeling of good health and vitality had just appeared with the morning sun. Actually, my body had been healing all along; it just had not manifested fully until that day. I felt such a wonderful sense of being alive! I looked and felt completely renewed.

With my juicer in tow and a new lifestyle fully embraced, I returned to Southern California and my friends a couple weeks later to finish writing my first book. For nearly a year it was “ten steps forward” with great health and more energy and stamina than I’d ever remembered. Then all of a sudden I took a giant step back.

The Night I’ll Never Forget

The Fourth of July was a beautiful day like so many others in Southern California. I celebrated the holiday with friends at a backyard barbecue. That evening we put on jackets to insulate against the cool evening air and watched fireworks light up the night sky. I returned just before midnight to the house I was sitting for vacationing friends, who lived in a lovely neighborhood not far from some of my family members. After such a full day I was in bed shortly after I arrived at the house.

I woke up shivering some time later wondering why it was so cold. I rolled over to see the clock. It was 3:00 a.m. That’s when I noticed that the door was open to the backyard. “How did that happen?” I thought as I was about to get up to close and lock the door. That’s when I saw him. Crouched in the shadows of the corner of the room was a shirtless young man in shorts. I blinked twice, trying to deny what I was seeing.

Instead of running out the open door, he leaped off the floor and ran toward me. He pulled a pipe from his shorts and began beating me repeatedly over the head and yelling, “Now you are dead!” We fought, or I should say, I tried to defend myself and grab the pipe.

Finally it flew out of his hands. That’s when he choked me to unconsciousness. I felt all life leaving my body. In those last few seconds I knew I was dying. “This is it, the end of my life,” I thought. I felt sad for the people who loved me. Then I felt my spirit leave. It felt as though it just popped out of my body and floated upward. Suddenly everything was peaceful and still. I sensed I was traveling through black space at what seemed like the speed of light. I saw what looked like lights twinkling in the distance.

But all of a sudden I was back in my body, outside the house, clinging to a fence at the end of the dog run. I don’t know how I got there. I screamed for help with all the energy I had. It was my third scream that took all my strength. I felt it would be my last breath. Each time I screamed, I passed out and landed on the cement. I then had to pull myself up again. But this time a neighbor heard me and sent her husband to help. Before long I was on my way to the hospital.

Lying on a cold gurney at 4:30 a.m., chilled to the bone, in and out of consciousness, I tried to assess my injuries, which was virtually impossible. When I looked at my right hand, I almost passed out again. My ring finger was hanging on by a small piece of skin. My hand was split open, and I could see deep inside. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled off to surgery. Later I learned that I had suffered serious injuries to my head, neck, back, and right hand, with multiple head wounds and part of my scalp torn from my head. I also incurred numerous cracked teeth, which led to several root canals and crowns months later.

My right hand sustained the most severe injuries. Two of my knuckles were crushed to mere bone fragments and had to be held together with three metal pins. Several months after the attack I still couldn’t use my hand. The cast I wore, which had bands holding up the ring finger that had almost been torn from my hand and various odd-shaped molded parts, looked like something from a science fiction movie. I felt and looked worse than hopeless. The top of my head was shaved, and my eyes were totally red and swollen. I had a gash on my face, a weird-looking right hand, terrorizing fear, and barely enough energy to get dressed in the morning.

I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep at night—not even a minute. It was torturous. I was staying with a cousin and his family, so there was no need to worry about safety from a practical point of view, but that made no difference to me emotionally. I’d lie in bed all night and stare at the ceiling or the bedroom door. I had five lights that I kept on all night. I’d try to read, but my eyes would sting. I could sleep only for a little while during the day.

But the worst part was the pain in my soul that nearly took my breath away. All the emotional pain of the attack joined with the pain and trauma of my past to create an emotional tsunami. My past had been riddled with loss, trauma, and anxiety. My brother died when I was two. My mother died of cancer when I was six. I couldn’t remember much about her death—the memories seemed blocked. But my cousin said I fainted at her funeral. That told me a lot.

I lived for the next three years with my maternal grandparents and father. But Grandpa John, the love of my life, died when I was nine. That loss was very hard. Four years later my father was involved in a very tragic situation that would take far too long to discuss here, but to sum it up—it was horrific. He was no longer in my daily life. I felt terrified about my future. My grandmother was eighty-six. I had no idea how much longer she would live. The next year I moved to Oregon to live with an aunt and uncle until I graduated from high school.

As you can probably imagine, wrapped in my soul was a huge amount of anguish and pain—it felt like gaping holes in my heart. It took every ounce of my will, faith, and trust in God; deep spiritual work; alternative medical help; extra vitamins and minerals; vegetable juicing; emotional release; healing prayer; and numerous detox programs to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. I met a nutritionally minded physician who had healed his own slow-mending broken bones with lots of vitamin-mineral IVs. He gave me similar IVs. Juicing, cleansing, nutritional supplements, a nearly perfect diet, prayer, and physical therapy helped my bones and other injuries heal.

After following this regimen for about six months, what my hand surgeon said would be impossible became real. My hand was fully restored and fully functional. He had told me I’d never use my right hand again, and that it wasn’t even possible to implant plastic knuckles because of its poor condition. But my knuckles did indeed re-form primarily through prayer, and my hand function returned. A day came when the surgeon told me I was completely healed, and though he admitted he didn’t believe in miracles, he said, “You’re the closest thing I’ve seen to one.”

It was a miracle! I had a useful right hand again, and my career in writing was not over as I thought it would be. In the end it seemed my inner wounds were the most severe and the hardest to heal. Nevertheless, they mended too. I experienced healing from the painful memories and trauma of the attack and the wounds from the past through prayer, laying-on of hands, and deep emotional healing work.

I call them the kitchen angels—the ladies who prayed for me around their kitchen tables week after week until my soul was restored. It seemed I cried endless buckets of tears that had been pent up in my soul. It all needed release. Forgiveness and letting go came in stages and was an integral part of my total healing. I had to be honest about what I really felt and be willing to face the pain and toxic emotions confined inside, and then let them go. Finally, one day after a long, long journey—I felt free. A time came when I could celebrate the Fourth of July without fear.

A New Beginning

When I look back to that first day in the hospital after many hours of surgery, it’s amazing to me that I made it. My hand was resting in a sling hanging above my head. It was wrapped with so much stuff it looked like George Foreman’s boxing glove. My face had a big cut running down the left side, and my eyes were red—very little whites. A maintenance man came into my room for a repair and did a double take. He asked if I’d been hit by a truck! He was serious. I felt like I had. As I lay there alone with tears streaming down my face, I asked God if He could bring something good out of this horror. I needed something to hang on to.

 My prayer was answered. Eventually I knew my purpose was to love people to life through my writing, juicing, and nutritional information— to help them find their way to health and healing. If I could recover from all that had happened to me, they could too. No matter what anyone faced, there was hope.

Juice Recipes for Health and Healing

In the pages that follow, you’ll discover a wide variety of juices for every possible need and occasion. I have basic juice recipes for those who are getting started and want something simple. There are yummy fruit juice recipes for those with picky palates who want the sweet taste of fruit. Green juices are my favorite and offer the most nutrition; you’ll find a big selection of green juice recipes to choose from.

Check out the chapter on juice remedies and rejuvenators for juice combos that address what ails you. And I think you’ll really like the gourmet juice chapter that has a lot of unique combinations and delicious drinks. There’s also the green smoothie chapter with one hundred smoothie recipes and great combinations. And I also included my old favorites from The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet and The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution. Have fun trying some new and unusual combinations. There’s a lot to choose from with more than four hundred recipes.

And if you’re struggling with your health, there is hope for you, no matter what health challenges you face. Never, ever give up. There’s a purpose for your life, just as there was for mine. You need to be healthy and strong to complete your purpose. To that end, The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you live your life to the fullest. My hope is that this book of delicious recipes will truly inspire you to juice each and every day and that you will experience firsthand the healing, rejuvenating power of fresh juice and green smoothies.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday 1/28

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Lori's Reading Corner.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This is what showed up at my house this week.

Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson (for review, from Baker Publishing)
When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey (for review, from Baker Publishing)


What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Lori's Reading Corner.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Reflections 1/26

Looking outside...it's still cold, but the sun is shining!  We had a snow day on Thursday and the ice was so bad that 88 miles of freeway was shut down as well as the airport runways.  Today's high should hit 34°F and it feels warm!  The rain last night washed away some ice, but it's still pretty slippery outside.

Listening...silence. I love early morning silence.  Although the toaster just popped so The Boy is up.

Loving...that I'm caught up with Downton Abbey, but I hate that I have to wait for more.  Sigh.

Thinking...it's early.  I'm not really thinking yet and this cold, combined with lack of decent sleep has me rather muddled and foggy.

In my kitchen...homemade bread and cinnamon honey butter.

Wearing...purple pajamas

Needing...to do some tidying up.

Reading...still reading The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen.  It's been a long week and this one is taking me awhile.

Today...I'm not sure.  It's open and we have no fixed engagements, which is nice.

Hoping...that this cold will go away.  I'm tired of being sick.

Planning...for the next week.  Menus, calendar, appointments, activities.

Gratitude...for decongestant and humidifiers and to see the sun shining after a cloudy, snowy week.

From my world...the birds love the berries on this tree each year.  We like watching them enjoy it.  At one point, I think there were near 100 birds in the tree.  It is now stripped bare.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Heat Wave...Review

About the book:
Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

I watch very little television.  Seriously.  Especially in comparison to people who watch tons of shows.  But, I adore, absolutely adore the show Castle.  I love what ABC has done with the Richard Castle character and that the Nikki Heat books are real.  I just wish I'd loved this as much as I love the show.  The book is entertaining and it's easy to see the character comparisons between book fiction and the fictional 12th precinct.  But, it just shows me again that murder mystery isn't my favorite genre.  Sometimes I get lucky with it and this one wasn't bad, it just won't ever be my favorite.  I prefer watching Rick and Kate go at each other rather than reading about Rook and Heat.

Best part of the book?  The acknowledgements and author interview at the end.  Hysterical and so true to the Castle character.

I read my personal copy.  You can learn more about Richard Castle here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Booking Through Thursday...Soundtrack

Do you ever try to pair music with the book you’re reading? Play the movie soundtrack while reading the original book? Find mood music that fits with your story?

In a word: No.  Some songs might bring to mind a book that I'm reading or have read, but I don't consciously try and find music to go with my reading.  I don't necessarily love listening to music while I read anyway.  I can tune out background noise so music doesn't bother me unless it's loud, but I don't put music on while I read either.  I've seen where authors will list the music that inspired them while writing or that goes along with their book, but rarely does that same music inspire me.

What about you?

Go here for more BTT posts.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow...Review

About the book:
The whole world is coming to Chicago. Charlotte's whole world is coming down around her.

While the rest of Chicago focuses on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow's attentions are entirely on one small boy--her boy--whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.

When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child's fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life's struggles determine her path?

This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.

I really liked Charlotte when I met her in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and I was excited to see that she had her own story.  Charlotte wants nothing more than to be a good mother to her son, but life in service doesn't lend itself to motherhood.  When the woman who has been caring for Henry leaves him at the Banning home, Charlotte can't admit that he's hers and must let the household believe he's an abandoned baby.  A woman staying with the Banning family wants Henry for her own and when Charlotte's past interferes with her present, she believes that giving up Henry is the best thing.

Charlotte is strong, brave and spunky.  Her story isn't quite plausible, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I like Charlotte and I loved Archie. I hated Sarah and I really hope that hers isn't the next story in the series because she has no redeeming qualities and I can't imagine ever liking her.

The historical setting is again terrific:  the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Chicago's affluent Prairie Avenue and the disparity between the privileged and the working class.  Second in the Avenue of Dreams series, the book stands alone well but, as always, is richer if you've read the first one, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Olivia Newport here.You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day...Review

About the book:
What if there was one book that could help you do nearly everything in life cheaper, better, or faster?

Make gourmet coffee without the gourmet price. Remove hairspray baked onto a curling iron. Clean just about any stain off of just about any surface. Keep your cat out of your houseplants. Get the best deal on your next car. And thousands of other helpful tips and tricks.

Cheaper, Better, Faster is all the best advice you've ever heard (and plenty you've never heard) collected into one handy volume.

Every tip is short, to the point, and helps you make the most of your money and your time, making everyday life less hectic and more enjoyable. Collected over the years by financial expert and Debt-Proof Living founder Mary Hunt, these little nuggets of advice are sure to make your life easier, one tip at a time.

I've always liked Mary Hunt and I'm always looking for ways to do things cheaper, better and faster, so I was curious about her new book.  It's an updated version of Tiptionary that was first published in 1997.  The book is literally just tips, nothing else. Generalized chapter headings house page after page of tips, tricks and hints.

For the most part I liked the book and I'd liken it to a print version of Pinterest.  Unfortunately for me, the chapters are fairly generalized and while there is a Table of Contents, there is no Index.  So, you can't go to the Index if you're looking for a possible answer to a specific problem.  Like Pinterest, this is a book where you read it and little light bulbs go off and you think, "I can do that" or "That would work" and then you mark that page with a post-it note and hope you can remember it.  Much like Pinterest boards.

Easily recommended for fans of Mary Hunt and those who are always looking for ways to be more efficient.

Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Mary Hunt here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday 1/21

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Lori's Reading Corner.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This is what showed up at my house this week.  My TBR stack is in serious danger of toppling.

5 Days to a Clutter-Free House: Quick, Easy Ways to Clear Up Your Space by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims (for review, from Baker Publishing)
The Emperor's Conspiracy byMichelle Diener (giveaway win from Passages to the Past)
Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate (for review, from Litfuse Publicity)


What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Lori's Reading Corner.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Reflections 1/19

Looking outside...it's cold.  Last night it was -1°F.  Today our high will probably be around 12°F and tonight it's going to be 0°F.  I don't mind the cold.  I prefer the cold over the heat. I love turtlenecks and sweaters and fireplaces.

Listening...to blessed silence.  The boys are sleeping in after a late night waiting for their Grandma's flight to get in.

Loving...that my mom is here for a quick weekend visit.

Thinking...that I need to get more jeans for The Artist. Suddenly his are a size too small.  They grow so quickly!

In my kitchen...since Grandma is here, we will probably eat out.  I'm thinking we haven't had Tepanyaki for awhile.

Wearing...black slacks and a pink turtleneck.

Needing...to fold some clothes.  I got most of the laundry done yesterday and won't have to do it again until Monday.

Reading...The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Today...some errands and adventure with my mom.

Hoping...that it would rain so the ice would melt or at least snow again so we'd have some traction while driving.

Planning...to watch more Downton Abbey.  The Doctor discovered it and got me hooked.  It's seriously a soap opera, but one I can't seem to get enough of.  Hugh Bonneville is just adorable.

Gratitude...that my mother is able and willing to travel and come and see us so often.

From my world...Jack Frost does beautiful work.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Booking Through Thursday...Winter

It’s the depth of winter here where I live right now … what books do you like to read when it’s snowy and white? What books do you read to evoke a real feeling of winter (good or bad)?

It's definitely the depth of winter where I live too.  I think that the highest temp we've hit in the last two weeks hasn't been above 25.  It's been in the single digits many days and every night.  The snow won't melt and our street is really iced over.

I don't think the seasons really matter in regards to my reading.  Obviously I read Christmas books at Christmas time but, other than that, I really don't read particular books in specific seasons.  Now where or how I read is definitely affected by the weather.  In the winter, I curl up under a blanket and often have a cup of cocoa with me.

What about you?

Go here for more BTT posts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker...Review

About the book:
In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.

I was so excited to see that Jennifer Chiaverini has finally branched out from her Elm Creek series.  I've enjoyed most of that series, but I don't think every single character in a series needs her own story.  When I learned about this book, I was fascinated by the Lincoln subject matter and anxious to read Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.

The story of the relationship between Elizabeth Keckley and Mary Todd Lincoln is impeccably researched and very historical.  Unfortunately, it fell short for me.  It was a book that took me an inordinately long time to get through and there was much historical telling about the time period.  Honestly, I finally just skimmed over the historical narrative and moved to the portions that were about Elizabeth and Mrs. Lincoln.

I loved the portrayal of President Lincoln.  He seemed like such a good, kind man in these pages.  Mrs. Lincoln, unfortunately, was a truly unlikeable character.  I didn't like her and I had no compassion for her and I wish I had because I think her time in the White House was difficult.  Elizabeth was good, almost too good and I wanted to be able to see more of her life before she became a free woman.

Well researched, fans of historical fiction and Jennifer Chiaverini in particular will likely enjoy it more than I did.

Thanks to Dutton, Penguin Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jennifer Chiaverini here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/13

* * *
3/5 Stars


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Waiting for Spring...Review

About the book:
After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But when a notorious robber believes she knows the location of a long-lost treasure, she flees to Cheyenne and opens a dressmaker's shop to lie low and make a living. When wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry enters the shop to visit her best customer, Charlotte feels drawn to him.

If Barrett is to be a senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming, he must make a sensible match, and Miriam has all the right connections. Yet he can't shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.

Soon the past comes to call, and Barrett's plans crumble around him. Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?

After her husband's death and learning that he was involved in less than scrupulous activities, Charlotte leaves Fort Laramie with her infant son and finds herself a new identity and new life.  She wants nothing more than the ability to provide for her son.  When she meets Barrett Landry, she is attracted to him even as she believes he will marry her good friend.  When a man from her husband's past discovers her whereabouts, Charlotte's secrets collapse and she fears that Barrett won't accept her once he knows those secrets.

Amanda Cabot has such a wonderful way with descriptions and strong, compelling characters.  I loved Charlotte and Barrett. I loved how Charlotte learned that she needed to trust her family and friends and that she didn't need to accomplish everything on her own.  This was a story I didn't want to put down.

Second in the Westward Winds series, the story stands alone just fine, but I prefer to read series' in order.  I look forward to the next two books and I was thrilled to learn at the end, that Gwen will get her own book as well.

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Amanda Cabot here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars