Sunday, February 11, 2018


Hello Friends,
Yes.  This is another book review but WAIT.  This one is rather unique, so please hang in there ((smiles)).
This book was sent to me by a friend.  We became friends about a year ago on a mutual FB page all about sharing Operation Christmas Child ideas.  So this book was too perfect. 
Josif’s family fled Serbia when he was just 5.  He’s now 30, living in TN and running his family’s hotel. Apparently, his mother’s best friend did not escape and her daughter, Mirela has remained in her prayers all these years; until today.  This morning Mama Sesely has seen a newspaper from a town just 45 minutes away and she is certain the young woman in the article is her best friend’s daughter. Twenty-five years ago the two best friends promised each other their kids would marry each other.  But wait, Josif is dating Sabrina who works at the hotel with him and he has grown content with over the last 3 years.  He does not have any interest or time for a modern day fairytale.
Mirala received a Christmas shoebox when she was a little girl.  She was told all about the love of Jesus and she was adopted by missionaries.  She is constantly thankful and kind to the point of allowing a co-worker, in the daycare she works at, to walk all over her.  She is best friends with her adopted sister Ivy and dearly loves her adoptive parents, though it has been 5 years since her father passed. 
This story is an adventure of God bringing this couple together, growing each one's faith individually, various characters overcoming misunderstandings, fears and assumptions and all of it for His glory. 
I would give it 4.5 stars because there is one teeny part of the story with some side characters – Emily and her 2 kids: Bella and Benny that did not get resolved.  I guess there is more ministry work that needs to be done there, but the indication that it was a serious situation should have had a wrap-up. I really, really enjoyed reading it over an afternoon into early evening.  God is so present throughout the story and I got choked up several times.  It makes me look forward to shoebox season again.  
I have been privileged to pack shoeboxes, with my kids, for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry (click here) for over 20 years now and have volunteered at one of the inspection and distribution warehouses several times.  See my previous post about the fun here. This ministry is led by Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse if you would like to know more. 
Additionally, my dear friend who introduced me to the book creates Joydorables; the cutest, little stuffed animal friends to go into her shoeboxes which she includes an Operation Christmas Child patch on when she can!  You can find those here on FB.  I really do get excited about this ministry and am so glad Jennifer Collins Johnson thought to include shoeboxes in a romance novel!
Find the eVersion here or here 
It's like 2 bucks! ;)
*Modern day setting* © 2011 Heartsong Presents by Barbour Pub*170 pages Only 19 chapters + epilogue

I received a copy from a friend and this is my honest review.
Read: 2/10/2018 - Reviewed: 2/11/2018
4.5 stars

CBD / GOODREADS / / My Pinterest  / Author’s FB page  

Hugs and a cup of tea to you dear friends.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by.  Would love a wee comment if you have the time!

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Spudtacular Valentine Craft

Last night I had a random thought: "Wouldn't it be fun for the kids to trace potatoes?" Well, that evolved into Valentine Potato Banners!

Small potatoes worked well for this craft.

First I designed a 2x3 column grid
on MS Word.  I added triangles to the bottoms as a
cutting guide for the banner. Then I added 3 potato-themed
phrases in cute fonts.
A toothpick might help hold the potato steady.

a little kitty love!
Walked into the bedroom last night to find
these two cuddling  & holding paws just
like when they were kittens, nearly 10 years ago!

He totally stole the bed from one of the
Littles, & if you look close you can see
he is very aware I am looking at him :)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Valentines Crafts Etc

EEEEEEEEK!!!! That's supposed to be ruBBer bands! :/
Put 2 colors of paint in various blobs on the canvas. We used white & red.
Wrap one piece of saran wrap longways, folding over the ends,
then wrap a 2nd sheet sideways folding over the sides. Squish, smear, slide in
various directions.  Be careful of kids with long nails scratching through the wrap.
When done, carefully remove and let paint dry.
When done stamping hearts, allow to dry.
Pro tip: include a piece of tape across the top so child
starts UNDER it, leaving room for the binder clip later.
And yes, I figured that out AFTER one kid wrote really close to the top!
Glitter glue can run and smear.  Be sure to lay flat and allow to dry completely.
Note: when I wrote the rest of the scripture, I did it backwards
to ensure I could fit each letter that was left of the word
I found the flat canvases in a 3-pack at WalMart in the craft
section.  Oddly there were two brands. One was on a shelf with several
other sizes/packages and was higher priced. However, I then
discovered a cheaper set hanging up along the same wall. I think I paid around $2
for the 3-pack and they are about 8x10.

The Tradition of St. Valentine's Day
Valentine was a good and holy man who lived long ago. Because of his great love for God and others, Valentine is honored as a saint on February 14. We celebrate St. Valentine's Day by sharing our love with family and friends through cards, candy, flowers, and gifts from the heart.
"Love one another as I have loved you." -John 15:12

Valentine’s History (what I would call the "adult version")

In the 3rd century, Emperor Claudius II was faced with defending the Roman Empire from the invading Goths. He believed single men made better soldiers so he temporarily forbade marriage. He also forced the Senate to deify the former Emperor Gallienus, including him with the Roman gods to be worshipped. Legend has it that Valentine was a bishop in Italy who risked the Emperor's wrath by refusing to worship idols and for secretly marrying young couples. Saint Valentine was dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut off, FEBRUARY 14, 269AD. While awaiting execution, it is said he prayed for the jailers' sick daughter, who miraculously recovered. He wrote her a note and signed it, "from your Valentine." In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as "Saint Valentine's Day." Signing an X for a kiss began in Medieval times where those who could not write marked a criss-cross or "Christ's cross" in the presence of witnesses and kissed it to show sincerity. The X, or Chi symbol, was the Greek letter used to represent the name of Christ, as X-Mas for Christmas, and was used as a written form of the oath "So help me God."

Credit: AMERICAN MINUTE written and copyrighted by William J. Federer. Permission is granted to reproduce with acknowledgment. AMERICAN MINUTE™ is a registered trademark.

A Valentine From Jesus:

I love you. You are mine. Your name is written upon My heart. Your prayers are precious to Me. Your life is in My hands. I am always with you, nearer to you than your own heart. I gave My life so that you might live forever with Me. All I ask in return is your love.
Be My Valentine, Jesus

P.S. You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.   
--Isaiah 43:4

May you enjoy a lovely Valentine’s with your family & know how much God loves You! 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Shadows of Ladenbrook Manor book review.

Shadows of Ladenbrook Manor by Melanie Dobson

•°o•:*:•.HEAVY SUBJECT MATTER .•:*:• o°•
I found this book extremely frustrating. The book jumps from the past to the present throughout the entire story.  It’s in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, and then present day with iPods and cell phones.  Whenever it’s in the past, it clearly tells you the date, but in the present it never does.
The POV (point of view) switches back and forth from character to character:
Maggie / Walter / Libby / Heather / Mrs. Wescott / Christopher
When Christopher finally learns why his heart was broken, he says nothing and takes a phone call instead.
When Heather learns a huge secret, she says nothing and the story just switches to the past.
Both very unrealistic acts.
Additionally, the story is very heavy, involving THREE different times teenage girls give up their virginity to boys and suffer all the consequences that can come from that choice.
Although faith and forgiveness along with interesting detail about places and an autistic girl are also in the book, the story was so heavy with the rest of it, that I could not enjoy it.  A good reminder for me to check the label for the publishing company first.
I did NOT enjoy this novel and do not recommend it.

© 2015 Howard Books, div of Simon & Schuster
336 pages
Read: 1/30&312018 - Reviewed: 2/2/2018
2 stars
I received a purchased copy from a friend. My opinion is my own for no compensation.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Sorry about the huge font! It was either that or teeny tiny. Blogger is being weird today! :/
Hearts Entwined – A Historical Romance 4 Novella Collection © Jan. 2018 Bethany House
Thanks to the author, Melissa Jagears, I received a copy from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.

The Love Knot – A Ladies of Harper’s Station Novella by Karen Witemeyer
May 1895, Harper’s Station, TX
Claire Nevin has received vague word that her younger sister, Polly, is in trouble.  She is sending Claire more information through a friend who will arrive soon on the train. The last person she expected to step off of the train was Pieter, who broke her heart less than a year ago.  But, Pieter is determined to win her back.
Ch. 7 Dressed in a cotton nightgown and wrapper, with a pair of thick stockings on her feet, she laid the Bible she’d brought with her on the table before padding over to the stove. She moved the kettle to the left side of the hob, where the stove emitted the most heat, then pulled out a chair and slid onto the sturdy wooden seat. No single day in the entire course of her life had brought as much change and emotional upheaval as this day. Not leaving Ireland. Not abandoning school to work in the embroidery shop. Not even that dreadful day in Rochester. She felt as wrung out as an old petticoat on washing day.
Read: 1/25/2018 - 5 stars

The Tangled Ties That Bind – A Kincaid Brides Novella by Mary Connealy
June 20, 1883 Rawhide Colorado
Connor Kincaid is heading home after 5 years away to finally be reunited with his family and  Maggie, who he has loved and pined for while gone making his mark/becoming a man. The opening reunion of these two was fantastic. It involved an angry buffalo in the tree-filled Rockies.
Unbeknownst to Connor, Maggie is moving away, to his complete shock. She waited years for him to return, and when he didn’t she deiced to get busy living and go to Denver to go to school.  After his ire subsides, he decides to follow her, and prove his love.  Together they are a strong team and I really enjoyed what they learned.  You can definitely see the impractical side of youth and snap decisions sometimes, particularly with Connor, but when push comes to shove he is a strong young man and quite smart as well.  Maggie is rightfully cautious with her heart, but smart and determined in her own right. Good story.
Side note: Apparently (according to my files) I read book one in this series way back in 2014 when it was a free download.  And the © date is actually 2011, so I find it interesting to be revisiting these characters all these years later.
Read: 1/26/2018 - 4 stars

Bound And Determined – A Fort Reno Novella by Regina Jennings
August 1885, East of Ft. Reno, Indian Territory
Once again Private Bradley Willis, has made a snap decision that has landed him in hot water.
For retribution, he will be sent off to help a former cavalry officer, Captain Herald, move his heard across the plains and back home to Texas.
However, when he arrives he is stunned to learn the heard is camels!  In addition, he will meet his match in gumption with the officer’s daughter, Ambrosia Herald.
Ch. 3. His mouth twitched. “I’m not your father ma’am. It doesn’t matter a whit to me if you get riled up, if you pout, or if you threaten to run away from home. I specialize in reckless, dramatic gestures, and I doubt any of yours would impress me.” I enjoyed this adventure very much, especially since I just read book 1 a few ago.  The camels add a lot to the story and I enjoyed getting to know more about the interesting animals.
Read: 1/23/2018 - 5 stars

Tied and True – A Teaville Moral Society Novella by Melissa Jagears
September 1908
While David Kingsman travels to Teaville in book 2, this charming story takes place back home in Kansas City, MO.  Marianne Lister is David’s childhood friend and his perfect future mate.  That is according to his father and her parents as well.  However, Marianne has been drawn to Calvin Hochstetler; the kindest, most hardworking man who makes her laugh and feel special.   She believes making tea and playing hostess to high society types is the only thing she is good at.  But helping him with his Widows and Orphans ministry gives her purpose, albeit she is still making tea.
Calvin finds Marianne to be bright, charming and lovely. AND certainly out of his league.  He does everything he can to convince her to wait for David since a life with him would be one of struggle.  In turn, she devises new ways to convince him she is up for the challenge a life with him might offer, and more than willing to leave comfort and class behind.
This story takes a peek at the life of female factory workers, including children and the hardships they faced.  It also reminds us to find value in ourselves and trust the plan God has for us.
Ch. 1 The pounding of hammers above them ceased. Marianne Lister put down her tea and smiled at the widow whose roof was being reshingled by men from their church.
“We’ve got your roof finished, Mrs. Danby. And none too soon…”
She waved her age-spotted hand to encourage him across the threshold. “Why don’t you come in more for tea?”
Marianne picked up the nearly empty teapot. At least making tea was something she was good at. Even if this would be the fifth pot of tea Mrs. Danby plied on the men.
Read: 1/21/2018 -  5 stars

Again, sorry about the huge font! As I said, it was either that or teeny tiny. Blogger is being weird today! :/

Friday, January 26, 2018


I have been looking forward to sharing this family heirloom with you for a few weeks now.  When I was first told by my Aunt Flora (or Flower as I like to call her) that she wanted me to have it, it brought tears to my eyes.

Helene with big bow on the right

It had been given to her by her mother; my daddy’s mama who was my grandmother, Virginia Helene (she went by Helene). I knew her and loved her.  
She passed on when I was just 10 years old.  
Me (lower right) and my siblings just a
few months before Grandma passed.

It was her 73rd birthday party.

I remember having trouble comprehending it when my dad told me.  I have warm memories of staying with her, and cups of coins saved in her cupboard for whenever grandkids came to visit, so we could go to the store and buy a treat.  She had a kind smile. 
Spunky and Smiling!
She was born in June 1907 in Iowa and one of 9 children.  Her older sister, Bertha was born in 1886 and married in 1907. 
Bertha had decided to send her littlest sister this sweet demitasse cup and saucer for her 7th birthday in 1914.  The mark on the bottom is Bavaria #620. 
Presumably, it is older than 1914 since it would have made its way from Germany to Spokane, Washington where Bertha lived at the time. It was a treasure to be sure because receiving something new for her very own was unusual.  And the fact that a much older sister thought of her made it even more special. Sadly, less than two months later, Bertha passed on. She was only 28.  

My grandmother cared for this wee cup and saucer all of her childhood and into her adult life. 
Later, her daughter Flora always admired it and eventually, her mama gifted it to her.
Now, in the older stages of my loving Aunt’s life, she has gifted it to me, knowing my love of all things tea.  It is over 100 years old and gets me all choked up and mushy to think about.  I have carefully photographed it to preserve and include on our family ancestry pages, but I hope it survives for many years to come and is passed down throughout the generations.  
I plan to drink a wee cup of tea from it and toast my ancestors, saying a prayer of thanks for family.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. [Ephesians 3:14-19 KJV]

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Song Unheard Video and Book Review

Book2 in Shadows Over England series by Roseanna M. White

A Song Unheard – Shadows Over England, Book#2
by Roseanna M. White

London 1914
I really enjoyed book 2.  The vimeo video is a lovely 1-minute place to start before opening the book {click link above}.
Willa is a big “sister” in a gang of orphan thieves.  There is nothing more important than family, and they will do anything to survive and protect each other. Including, taking jobs from the mysterious Mr. V.   Willa is a talented violin player, thanks to a violin she retrieved from the garbage and a guarded woman with a chip on her shoulder.
Lukas is a well-known and gifted violin player in his own right, who has recently arrived in London to escape the Germans who invaded his hometown in Belgium.  He is desperate to find his mother and sister, and protect his family code breaking key.
When Mr. V approaches him, Lukas turns him away.  So instead, the intriguing Willa is sent undercover to gain the key.  Lukas is so taken with her abilities, he offers to tutor her, giving her the perfect entry into his world.  But that world quickly turns far more dangerous than any job she has accepted before, and it might just cost her everything.
Neither of them has any real use for God, so their faith journeys were enjoyable to watch unfold.
I especially loved the way God’s voice was unique to Willa, as well as Margot.
Margot: little sister to Lukas and stuck in Belgium with her mother.  She is brilliant and wise, but currently under the same roof as a German Generalleutnant trying her best to survive and go unnoticed.
Barclay Pearce is Willa’s older “brother”. I really like this character.  He is everything you want a big brother to be, and I hope we learn more of his story in book three.
Note: The Author’s dedication is lovely: To my childhood piano teacher, Joanne Peto, who taught me that a D# could weep, an E* could sing and a melody could be Jesus to a hurting heart that would never listen to words.
Tea Quote: Ch. 17 Will you have dinner with me?... Or tea – you English love your tea, n’est’ce pas?
I have seen tearooms, with young couples coming and going without chaperones. This is appropriate here, I assume?

I recommend using Google Translate for some of the words in the book.  I found it useful for pronunciation as well.

It is my privilege to be included in Roseanna M. White’s Influencer List and I received this copy for no compensation from BETHANY HOUSE PUBL.  My opinion is my own.
Read: 01/16&17/2018
© 01-02-2018
Pages: 398

SERIES: Shadows Over England
A Name Unknown –  Book #1 July 2017
A Song Unheard – Book #2 January 2018
An Hour Unspent – Book #3 September 2018

(5 stars)

Until next time,
Hugs & a cup of tea!

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Natl Hot Tea Day as well as The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen a book review

So, almost one year ago, I wrote on this blog about National Hot Tea Day in America; January 12th per the Tea Council of the USA.

In honor of its 3rd year, I served tea to a group of 3-7-year-olds.  However, first I had my own cuppa just as the kids were arriving.
The 3-year-old little boy told me, "I like tea! I like tea! I like tea!" 
"Would you like a sip of my tea?" I offered. "Did you add caffeine?" he asked :-)   I laughed, "No. It's decaf." "Ok", he said and happily took a drink.

We practiced manners (saying grace, please and thank you, napkins on laps, sipping not slurping, sharing and passing, asking not grabbing, etc.).  We had tea in the morning and tea in the afternoon. 

The Littles truly enjoyed it, as did I.  I love passing along the gift and joy of teatime.

During the past week, I also enjoyed reading book 2 in the exact same series I posted at this time last year, which I thought was a fun coincidence.

Birthday flowers I received from 2 of the Littles :)
Along with the book sent by the publisher in exchange
for an honest review.
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage – Book #2 Tales from Ivy Hill
Julie Klassen

•°o•:*:•.BUSY VILLAGE LIFE.•:*:• o°•

Ivy Hill, Wilshire, England, September 1820

So much is happening in this second installment of Tales from Ivy Cottage. On the author’s character page found on [talesfromivyhill dot com] I counted over 100 characters! That’s a lot, but it makes for a very interesting series; one in which you can imagine yourself stepping back into time to visit the quaint village life.
Jane Fairmont runs The Bell and had a starring role in the last book. 
Mercy Grove, schoolmistress and spinster, living with Matilda Grove (Aunt Matty).
Rachel Ashford, currently being pursued by Nicholas Ashford, a distant second cousin who inherited her home after her parents were deceased.  She now lives with Mercy and Matty and hopes to learn where her place in society is through attending the Ladies Tea and Knitting Society.
James Drake, charmer/recent owner of The Fairmont hotel, shows interest in Jane, as well seeking information on a long lost acquaintance.
Mr. Ainsworth, old sexton/gravedigger, is one of my favorite background characters.  He has a deep respect for all things living, and a special scene with Jane which really yanked my heartstrings.
Sir Timothy Brockwell, baronet, and former love interest to both Jane and Rachel during their youth, yet now 30 and never married.  He is very kind but trapped by what’s expected and proper.
These are just a handful of the interesting characters whose lives are woven together with day-to-day events, celebrations, losses, hopes and worry for the future, and faith. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and TEA, oh the tea… it is woven throughout time and again. Sigh.
The author has some lovely pictures, character directory, map of the town, etc. all found under Tales From Ivy Hill dot com.
internet photo from Art of Tea

Book #2 © December 2017 Bethany House, 442 pages with discussion questions

Book 3 – Book 3 – The Bride of Ivy Green, due out Dec. 2018 , due out Dec. 2018
5 stars
(Reviews Posted to: / Amazon.CA, Amazon.Co.Uk  /  Barnes And Noble / BooksAMillion / CBD / DeeperShopping  /GoodReads / Google Play /Indigo.CA / Kobo / / My FB page / Author’s FB page / My Pinterest)

I hope you enjoyed my review and teatime with the Littles.  Incidentally, January is also known as Natl. Hot Tea MONTH so you are not too late to join me in celebrating!

We certainly have been partaking A LOT this month since school does not start back up until Tuesday, Jan. 16th.  It has been divine. Lots of poetry tea times as well.
my own photo with RWE quote. 

adorable google image

Hugs and a cup of tea to you friends!