Scrapbooking: September 28-October 4

The first Saturday of October was Digital Scrapbook Day!!! There were lots of fun celebrations all around internet-land. I really didn’t get to participate much as we had a full day of work at our church mulching and afternoon preparing to celebrate Grace’s birthday on Sunday. I did get a little bit of scrapping in throughout the week and that day though!

Be A Super Awesome Photographer: A Net Galley Review

First of all, I adore the title of this book! Who wouldn’t want to be super awesome at what they love? I am definitely not a professional photographer by any means. I am not looking to become one either, but I am always looking for ways to improve my hobby. 

The reason I want to improve is so I can continue to record our family’s history. I love to scrapbook and have come to a point where I want to improve my photography skills. 

This wonderful title has helped me look at things with some new perspective. When my girls were little, I did a good job of getting on their level, but beyond that, I really didn’t have much change in how I took pictures. Recently I have been more mindful of my position in addition to the camera. This book definitely gave me the insights I was looking for!

The photo challenges are much like taking a class! Once a new concept is introduced, a new challenge is given to the reader. Here are a few of the photos I have taken after reading this title. Some are with my phone and others with my camera. 


Used the room lighting creatively

Getting up close to my subject


Capturing light sources


Patience with animal photography!


Create a scene! (Rose did this one!)


This is my favorite!

With this last photo I sat for over an hour under a tree in our front yard and patient waited, taking picture after picture until I finally captured this! 


If you are looking for a way to casually improve your photography with ease, check this out! 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament


I’m becoming an advocate for combining art and faith. I am learning how the Lord has given us artistic creativity to express our praise and worship of Him. Everyone naturally accepts that of music and even of creative writing, but artistic rendering through brush and pen are sometimes neglected. I’ve been a fan of Karla Dornacher for a while and was super excited to check out this collaboration she is a part of! 

Studying how Christ has been a part of history from the beginning fascinates me. This wonderful way of looking at Scripture brings new life and insight into the Old Testament as well as helps us to understand the redemptive nature of our Lord and Savior. I have heard sermons which traced Christ through the Old Testament, but have never completed a Bible study which solely focused on this. I really liked the simple format as well as the artistic application as well. 

Each of the 12 chapters is divided into 5 daily readings. There are also artistic activities to go along with each chapter. These would be so very fun to do as a group! The projects should not be overwhelming to beginners (just like me!) and will open up lots of opportunity for discussion during creating. I love the coloring pages at the end which are great no matter your age. There are also beautiful bookmarks to correspond with the chapters as well. 

The reader is encouraged to find their own creative outlet as well. There is a spring-board list of fantastic ideas in the appendix to get you started. I found this to be helpful to think outside of my personal creative box. 

I plan to have my daughters work through this study this year. It is deep enough to challenge them, but not so academic that it will become drudgery. This would make for an interesting group study as well. I’ve been excited to read this title and look forward to working through some of the art activities as well. I think it would be fun for a high school girls study or young women too. I really see many applications for use! 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Finding Lady Enderly: A Net Galley Review


I love a good mystery with a bit of humor and romance. This wonderful story had all three and was one of the most creatively written novels I’ve had the privilege to read. The author was new to me and I enjoyed this so much I am already exploring some of her other works. 

The basic premise is a bit of a Cinderella story. A poor young lady is given the opportunity to live a life of opulence for a time as she pretends to be someone she is not. The enticing presentation of a solicitor, who guarantees there is no harm nor illegal act, is too much for her adventurous curiosity. Since she learned of the death at sea of the young man she loved, she has been looking for a way to escape her life and this seems to be the opportunity. Soon, however, she realizes there must be something awry in spite of all the fine promises of the solicitor. 

Two things struck me as I read this novel. The first was the way in which the author presented the story. Current trends lead novelists to write in 3rd person limited fashion with usually two lead characters (one male and one female) giving us insight into their perspectives, but not from the personal perspective of I. In this novel there was a shift in perspective, but one used 1st person (the heroine) and one used 3rd person limited (the hero). I was initially surprised by this style but ended up absolutely loving it! It kept the writing fresh and alive and my attention was completely held from page one. 

The second was the setting. I loved that the mansion our heroine arrives at is actually a abbey which was once used by monks. Its history and beauty shone through the author’s pen and made me want to live there myself! Not because of the opulence, but rather because of the meaningful spiritual context. 

Finally, I loved the complex plot and unexpected twists throughout the narrative. I was continually surprised and ready to learn what would happen next. 

I highly, highly recommend this novel! I can’t wait to read more by the author.
Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Amazing Loom Knits: A Net Galley Review


When I was young my great-grandmother taught me to knit the traditional way. I have a faint memory of how to knit, but I was never very good at it. I loved the idea of loom knitting and bought a set for myself from a local store. I have made a simple hat and scarves using the looms, but that was all I thought they were for. Little did I know just how many amazing creations could be made with either round or square looms! 

This book is full of simple instructions to follow for each of the 30 patterns. Everything from hats to scarves to mittens to socks is represented here in beautiful detail. I was thrilled to discover a wide variety of simple stitches can be used! 

The fiber arts can be daunting and feel overwhelming when you first begin. The author, Nicole F. Cox, does an excellent job of giving precise yarn types as well as the specific supplies needed. Special stitches are clearly explained, even if they may take some time to master.

I am personally excited to try my hand and making the Highland Ear Warmers. I am definitely a beginner, and this simple pattern seems to be one I could manage. I also get very cold ears in the winter! I like that there are several color patterns shown as well as the optional flower adornment.

There are many fun patterns to choose from. If you are like me and have had some looms stashed away without much understanding of how to use them, this would be a great book to pick up and give a try. 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

A Song of Joy: A Net Galley Review

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Lauraine Snelling has been one of my favorite historical novelists for quite a number of years. I was first introduced to her through the Blessings Series, which I eagerly awaited new titles as soon as I completed one! Dakota Treasures and the Secret Refuge Series were both compelling sets as well. It has been a while since I picked up one of her novels, so I was really excited to start turning the pages in A Song of Joy, the fourth title in Under the Northern Skies. 


As with many of Snelling’s titles the story centers around a Norwegian immigrant. I love the setting and time period for this particular title. Set in 1911 in Minnesota, it is a time of simplicity and new innovations all at the same time. Nilda, originally from Norway and most recently from a small farm near Blackduck, MN, works alongside Mrs. Schoenleber. The older woman completely trusts Nilda, who acts a sort of personal assistant. She is also quite altruistic around town and with those whom she encounters, much to the consternation of her brothers who are more miserly and greedy with funds from the family business. It becomes increasingly apparent that these brothers are conniving. Nilda, meanwhile, is struggling with memories which haunt her of a man who attacked her. He is no longer living, but even in death he makes her life a nightmare.

I love how Snelling weaves truths from Scripture throughout the pages. We see the very real struggle of what it is like to live with the darkness which comes to someone who is attacked. I appreciate her ability to empathize and guide the reader through what the experience is like. I also appreciate the advice given by Nilda’s family and employer to help her through this time. 

I also find the struggle some of the characters have with English a truly beautiful thing! We learn a few Norwegian words along the way, but are reminded that those new to our country may need some help, not to mention patience and understanding, when they come to this country. It is easy to take our native language for granted. 

There are three novels previous to this which I have not yet read. Although I greatly enjoyed the book, I would recommend starting at the beginning of this series in order to fully appreciate the family structure and know the background of the characters. I myself intend to go to the beginning of the series and read them all!

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

A Noble Guardian: A Net Galley Review

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Quality, clean historical fiction is my favorite genre. I don’t mind a little mystery as long as it isn’t too intense. Neither some romance, as long as it remains clean. A Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep filled these requirements well! 


This is the third title in The Bow Street Runner Trilogy. I have not read the first two titles, but this story stands alone and it is not necessary to have done so. I love that it is a pretty lengthy book! I love reading long books where there is plenty of time for character development. 

This particular title was peril-filled! Lots of action and adventure follow the heroine and hero along the way. I did have some trouble getting a good feeling for the setting, but I think this may have had to do with the nature of travel in the book. The heroine is traveling to meet her fiance and in the process the hero must accompany her for safety reasons after she is attacked. I do think if I had read the previous novels the setting would have been a little easier to grasp. 

I did like the heroine of this story. She is plucky, but also naive in many ways. At times I felt her reactions didn’t match other parts of her expressed character, but then I remember none of us is able to be exactly predictable in our natures. 

Like most romance stories there is a lot of will-they/won’t-they play back and forth. I appreciated that it was handled well and with tact. The more “romantic” descriptions were very tasteful, but were still a little deeper than I would have my daughters read until they are older, maybe college age. They aren’t interested in romance yet anyway, but I do keep that in mind as I am reading. 

I was pleased with the closure. There was miscommunication and misunderstanding, not all the fault of the characters, but it was cleared up eventually and everything tied up nicely. I do not like cliff hangers or unresolved endings and I was quite satisfied with how things tied up with both of the main characters as well as the young child who plays a significant role in their story. 

I would highly recommend this title, but I think going back and reading the first two in the series might be beneficial to getting the most enjoyment out of this one. 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

The Hashimoto’s AIP Cookbook: A Net Galley Review

NetGalley

In July of 2013 I had thyroid surgery after a nodule was felt and then seen on ultrasound. This picture is from about 2 weeks after. You can still see my bandage! Although my thyroid labs always came back with the numbers within the normal range, the surgeon observed that I absolutely had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which my body attacks my thyroid. I had never heard of this nor did I know what it meant for me! I was put onto thyroid medication shortly after surgery and my health began to improve dramatically, but not fully. 


Over the years as I have researched symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis I began to see many of my health problems were most likely related to this disease. It was a mom of 3 young kids and so I chalked up my exhaustion to that. Moms are always tired, right? Finally, in 2018, I read about the connection between food an thyroid function, especially for those suffering with an autoimmune disease. Since my stomach has nearly always given me trouble off and on over the years, my husband encouraged me to make some diet changes to test and see if it would help. WOW! I first stopped eating gluten. Then I began to limit dairy and found out just how healthy I could feel! 


This cookbook is an excellent resource for understanding how to help your body heal from and stay healthy in spite of Hashimotos Thyroiditis. The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet is encouraged for several autoimmune diseases, but this cookbooks focuses specifically on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and the foods known to trigger problems. This book is based off the paleo diet as well. I’m personally not a promoter of this type of diet just for the sake of eating this way. It is excellent, however, if you are faced with an autoimmune disease and need to figure out what foods are causing more harm than good. 

There are some wonderfully delicious recipes throughout this cookbook. If you are already used to cooking for yourself, they are quite simple and easy to manage! The ingredients focus on remaining free of gluten and grains, dairy, eggs, legumes, nightshade veggies, nuts, seeds, sugar, alcohol, and processed oils/artificial sweeteners. At the same time these foods are eliminated, foods such as blueberries, turmeric, sweet potatoes, and zucchini, known for anti-inflammatory properties, are added in.

If that sounds a little overwhelming don’t worry! The idea is to eliminate these from your diet for a time, then introduce them one at a time to see if any of these trigger your symptoms. This means you are not looking at long term deprivation of these foods. I have found that gluten and lactose are triggers. I can, however, have dairy as long as it is lactose free or I use lactose pills. I consider myself quite fortunate in that my diet is not so restrictive. 

I have found that stress due to busyness, illness, or travel tends to cause my Hashimoto’s to flare up. Earlier this month I experienced this after having a week at summer camp, a week’s worth of illness, and then a week traveling to Florida. For me the symptoms come on all of a sudden and it often takes me by surprise because I will feel fine one day, then the next day I won’t. When a flare up happens I am very strict with what I eat focusing on veggies and meats to help me heal faster. 

Some the recipes I’m excited to try from this cookbook are: 

Baked Herb Zucchini Boats
Sauteed Zoodles in Alfredo Sauce
Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

There are soooo many recipes in this book that sound amazing! What’s even better is even though you are eliminating certain foods, the ingredients are still easy to find and use. I also think it would be fine to use ingredients that do not bother you (like lactose-free milk for me) as a substitute for the coconut milk once you have added those foods back in. 

If you are like me and had not yet found a way to fully heal from your Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis consider giving this cookbook a try. It might just be the answer you are looking for! 
Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

A Perfect Silhouette: A Net Galley Review

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It’s been a while since I picked up a title by Judith Miller. I have always enjoyed her writing and I was not disappointed with A Perfect Silhouette! 


One of the things I enjoy about Judith Miller’s storytelling is the constant theme of redemption. No one is ever beyond forgiveness or repentance and this is beautifully represented in her novels. 

The main character, Mellie, is a sweetly innocent girl thrown into the necessity of working in a mill town. She’s used to living a comfortable life, but she finds must help her sister meet financial needs because of her brother-in-laws misdeeds. Morgan, the hero, is not who he presents himself to be. Things become quite complicated faster than Morgan is able to deal with them, especially as the two begin to realize their feelings for one another.

I love how their innocence and honorable behavior is portrayed. We need more pure love stories that stir the emotions without leaving the reader blushing. Judith Miller does a wonderful job of this in a way I would be completely comfortable allowing my daughters to read her writing when in middle or high school. 

I also admire the progression of her characters. Even though both begin with high moral standards even in the beginning, they grow in their faith and maturity throughout the chapters. 

*Slight spoiler…but not too much!*
My favorite part of this books is as I mentioned before, no one is beyond forgiveness or repentance. Two characters in particular show this played out. One is Mellie’s roommate. I love how forgiveness leads to a repentant heart. I know it doesn’t always work out this way, but seeing this gives hope for a real-life answer to prayer such as is given in the story. 

The second character who shows this example is Morgan’s mother. I honestly was surprised at the turn of events at the end of the novel and it was nice to be surprised in a pleasant way! It is lovely to read a story where there not true villains in the sense of most literature, merely souls who need to be reminded of the love of the God most high. 

This is again and excellent read and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something to capture your heart and give a happy ending. This is one I would love to see created into a television series or movie! 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

The Captain’s Daughter: A Net Galley Review

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New books and new authors are like a treasure to me! I always have authors I love, but finding a new one to admire and enjoy is always a treat! The Captain’s Daughter, by Jennifer Delamere, is definitely one of those treats!

Image result for the captain's daughter jennifer delamere

I’m always a fan of historical fiction and especially of the time period of this novel, the Victorian Era. I was also intrigued by the premise of following one of the residents from George Muller’s orphanage. This was a new spin on this particular setting and I couldn’t wait to settle into the title!

I loved that this particular series would follow a set of three sisters who depart from the orphanage. Being a mother of three girls myself I found it fun to see their various personalities. This first title focuses on the oldest of the three sisters, Rosalyn. 


I found the characters in this story to be intriguing and compelling. I appreciated the personal journey Rosalyn moves through and how she grows as a person. This historical atmosphere and background including George Muller was a wonderful bonus! 

The hero of the novel, Nate, is another enjoyable character. The author effortlessly flows between the two character’s perspectives in a lovely example of 3rd person limited as is used in modern literature. He is a young officer who has earned the respect of his commanders. I appreciate the he was never presented as perfect, but definitely as honorable. 

If you enjoy historical fiction and a good, clean romantic historical story, this is a good one for you! 
Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.