Friday, July 29, 2011

Crop Circles from the Drought

OK, so these aren’t like the REAL crop circles.  But when I went outside to fill the bird feeder and saw my front yard I couldn’t help but laugh.



So what really happened was that I chose the cheapest sprinkler that the store had and apparently the factory didn’t do a  lot of testing before they deemed worthy to sell.

There’s a nice green circle in the center where the sprinkler sat, which I’m assuming meant that the silly thing leaked water.  Surrounding the green circle is a nice ring of dead grass where no water at all landed.  Then it’s all wrapped up by a beautiful green circle around that where the water actually fell.

Then if you look closely at the top of the photo you’ll see the rest of the dead yard.  ~ sigh ~   Not a good year for grass around here.  And now I’m hoping that any aliens that fly by overhead will not misinterpret the crop circles as an invitation to land!!!


Consider the many special delights a lawn affords: soft mattress for a creeping baby;
worm hatchery for a robin; croquet or badminton court; baseball diamond; restful
green perspectives leading the eye to a background of flower beds, shrubs, or hedge;
green shadows - "This lawn, a carpet all alive/With shadows flung from leaves' - as
changing and as spellbinding as the waves of the sea, whether flecked with sunlight
under trees of light foliage, like elm and locust, or deep, dark, solid shade,
moving slowly as the tide, under maple and oak.  This carpet!
-   Katharine S. White, Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979

Review–Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson









Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
by Melanie Dobson
310 pages
Summerside Press


With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.

The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.

Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancĂ©e, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.

The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.


MY REVIEW:  The “Love Finds You” series of books are always a delight.  Honestly when I see that a new one is out it reminds me of the excitement I felt many years ago when I would get a new Nancy Drew book!  These books are stand alone novels written by a variety of the greatest in Christian Fiction authors.

In Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa we are introduced to Amalie Wiese, an Inspirationist who is travelling across the US during the Civil War to join the rest of her group in the Amana Colonies.  The author obviously researched the Inspirationists extensively in order for us to learn so much about them and their faith.

When Amalie travels to the Amana Colonies to join her fiancĂ© she is in for quite a surprise to see that he is not there.  Shortly thereafter the story turns into a love triangle and I found it interesting to see that from the Inspirationist point of view.

A great read and one I give 4 stars to.



Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011. 

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.
Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


**My thanks to CFBA for furnishing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homemade Weed Killer

I know that some people won’t get nearly as excited about today’s post as what I did, but then there will be those of you that get it and for YOU I post this!

Weeds growing through the cracks in our sidewalk have never been a look I’ve particularly wanted to pursue, but try as we might they always persist.  We used to buy so much Round Up that I swore we should own part of the company!

So when I saw the recipe for Natural Weed Killer at Full of Great Ideas blog I couldn’t wait to try it.  I knew that Keith wouldn’t be as excited because to be honest almost every homemade anything I’ve tried has been a bust.

But this stuff WORKS!  And dare I say it might even work BETTER than the uber chemical stuff!



Here it is posing pretty as can be in the backyard next to a weed (um…just to be clear, the weed is in the bottom right hand corner).  And while we are looking at my sad backyard, let me remind you of the 28 days in a row of over 100 degree heat we’ve had.  Sad smile



I did change up the recipe somewhat so that I could use what I had on hand. If you’d like to see the original recipe click on the link above.


* 24 ounce spray bottle (I bought mine at the Big Box Store for only .99)

* Distilled Vinegar

* Sea Salt (mine was the cheap version that comes in the container that looks like regular iodized salt)

* Dishwashing Liquid (I used Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay because that’s what I had)


Fill your spray bottle mostly full with vinegar.  To that add  1/3 cup of sea salt and a squeeze of dish soap.  Hold your finger over the end of the sprayer and give it a very good shake to dissolve the salt.

That’s it!  The original directions said it works best to spray during the heat of the sun, but I’ve done it at all times during the day and it always works very well.



Another great photo of my fabulous grass. But I wanted to show you just how well this stuff works so that you don’t go outside spraying it willy nilly all around!  See the whitest part right in the center?  That’s what was sprayed!  The weeds – or grass – that get sprayed will lose all their color and then curl up.  So be very, very careful on what you spray.

I’m thrilled this works so well because this version is tons cheaper than Round Up AND is so much better for the environment and my family.  A win/win I’d say!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review–Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn








Canary Island Song
By Robin Jones Gunn
284 pages
Howard Books Publisher

ABOUT THE BOOK: When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.

    The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.

    Is it too late for Carolyn to trust Bryan? Can Carolyn believe that Bryan has turned into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago on a balmy Canary night?

    Carolyn is reminded that Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492 on his voyage to discover the New World. Is she ready to set sail from these same islands to discover her new life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Canary Island Song, go HERE.

MY REVIEW: Robin Jones Gunn’s Sisterchick books remain some of my absolutely favorites. Because of this I am thrilled every time I see a new book from her and I am never disappointed.

This book is no exception – and I honestly think I like it even better than the Sisterchick series! One of the reasons might be that the main character, Carolyn, and I are at a similar stage in our lives with daughters about the same age. I also loved watching how close she was with her mother and daughter.

As Carolyn steps back into life several years after the death of her husband she’s not greeted by marching bands and fireworks. Instead it’s the quiet love of her family that is there for her, along with showing her the way back to her faith.

“And for a single moment twice each day her mother was blind to everything except God and her deep and abiding love for Him.”  page 115

This is a beautiful book and easily deserves the 5 stars I give it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin's awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.


* My thanks to CFBA for furnishing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baby It’s Hot Outside….

I really wasn’t going to post about the impossible heat wave we’re having in North Texas, but….

I’m one of those silly people that really does like weather statistics.  When the news is on I’ll be the one shushing everybody so that I can hear what the weather guy is saying.

And right now they are all saying that we’re on track to be one of the hottest summers on record. My theory is that if it’s going to be really, really hot we might as well break a record and give ourselves something to high five over!

Today was Day 26 ….. 26 days in a row with over 100 degree temperatures.  We hit 106 yesterday.  That is just not right.  Winking smile

Now the email pictures have started being forwarded and I find them very amusing.  Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:


Ice Cream Truck

It’s so hot outside the ice cream trucks are melting!


Dog In Ice

Would this be considered the Dog Days of Summer?




Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Pedi With My Daughter–OPI Polish

Today Keith had to work (praising God for work blessings…even if it meant the two of us didn’t get to play today!) so I called Lynne’ and asked if she’d like to meet for a pedicure. I got a resounding YES and a time was set.

The place we go is so much fun!  In addition to the regular pedicure and polish they also slather ‘stuff’ on your calves, wrap in plastic wrap and then a hot towel.  I always get the Milk and Honey and Lynne’ changes hers up, but got the Strawberry Margarita today.  They let us sit for a while and then come back for a wonderful leg and foot massage.  Worth every penny I tell you!

I won’t shock anybody with pictures of our feet, but I am going to share our polish colors.  Partly for my own benefit and partly because I just know that everybody is on the edge of their seats wanting to know!


Be A Dahlia

This is what I got – Be A Dahlia Won’t You!  It doesn’t show up great in the photo but it’s even got some glittery sparkles in it!  When I chose this color Lynne’ told me this is absolutely the most perfect for me color I’ve ever gotten.  Smile



This is Lynne’s color – Congeniality Is My Middle Name!  Very pretty and would be a choice I’d make for fall.  Her toes were happy too!  Smile


We had a great time sitting next to each other and chatting.  This was followed up by some light shopping and then lunch at Corner Bakery.  It really was one of the best mother/daughter days we’ve had in a very long day.  Very special!

A mother's love for her child is like
nothing else in the world. It knows no
law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes
down remorselessly all that stands in its path.
~ Agatha Christie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grandma Loves Dora Cereal!

(first let me assure you this is not a sponsored post….)

Dora Cereal

When we were all together for the 4th of July weekend I impulse bought a box of Dora cereal for just in case Brooklyn didn’t like whatever we cooked for breakfast. Turned out to be unnecessary as she ate anything we did, so I had this box at the house.



Well lo and behold, I tried it and liked it!  I’ve always LOVED the uber sugar sweetened cereals, but don’t get them since I know they’re so bad for us. But it turns out this sweetened cereal is actually about the same carb level as my Cheerio’s!

And it makes me smile and think of Miss B every time I sit down to a bowl of Dora cereal.  Because really Grandmas are just little girls at heart.  Smile

Monday, July 18, 2011

Muffins on Monday–Blueberry Streusel Muffins

I was so excited to get a pint of blueberries on sale since I’ve been craving blueberry muffins.  Ran home, hit the internet to find a recipe and unfortunately most of the recipes I found contained something or another that I didn’t have.

Finally I found this recipe and got them right in the oven. They were really quite good, but I’ll confess that streusel wasn’t really what I had a taste for right then. However, Keith absolutely *loved* these and has since asked me to make them again.

So if streusel is what you’re wanting, these muffins are definitely a winner!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins


Originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper liners.

Streusel topping - Mix sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon with a fork, set aside.

Muffins - In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and milk.

Add flour mixture and stir until just combined (do not overmix!). Gently fold in blueberries.

Use an ice cream scoop and put one level scoop in each muffin liner. Sprinkle with streusel topping.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 min, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins


** Linking to Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays At The Table

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brooklyn’s Felt Bat Man Mask

There’s no secret that I love the internet. I love all the inspiration and ideas that can be found and sometimes, something will strike that I have to make right that minute.

That’s what happened with the Bat Mask – the minute I saw it I knew I had to make one for Brooklyn.  It didn’t even matter that she might or might not know who Batman is – the mask should be fun!


Batman Mask

Since the pattern was downloadable at Living With Punks I’m going to say it took 20-30 minutes total, start to finish, to make this mask.  The part that took the longest for me was finding my thread since my sewing area isn’t quite organized yet.  Winking smile


Batman Mask

She put it right on and thought it was rather grand.  The cutest part was that she insisted on cleaning her nose first (maybe that’s only super cute if you’re the grandma???)!



I loved that she was this tickled … and that the mask was upside down!



Batman Mask

We did manage to get it on the right way so that we could get a picture.

And then she took it off and scampered off to play with her cars.  I had started out with visions of making several masks in different shapes as part of her birthday present, but she wasn’t really impressed so I don’t know.  But she did look quite darling and they are super fast to make, so I highly recommend this easy project!


** Linking to Sew Cute Tuesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, We Did It Wednesday, Look What I Made, Hoo’s Got Talent?, What I Made Wednesday, Inspired By You Wednesdays

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brooklyn Loves 4th of July at the Lake!

We had such a tremendously grand time at the lake for 4th of July this year!  Family and friends filled the cabin with I think more than have ever spent the night before – so awesomely blessed. And any time you come out of a big weekend like that and wish you’d had more time it’s a great indication of how well it all went.

Hold on for a picture heavy grandma bragging post!



Brooklyn had so much fun in the water this year! Last year she was still kind of iffy about the whole thing, but the last few weeks she’s been in swimming lessons and they are obviously worth every single penny.  She loved jumping off the back of the boat, mostly to mommy, but you know that Papa is always there for her as well.



She also enjoyed just kind of hanging out and floating in the water. It’s one of our favorite things to do as well, so we were happy to see that it was fun for her too.



I never realized just how important “noodle” selection is!  However, my goofy family loves to get the noodles with the hole down the center, push it under water to fill it, then aim and blow the water at unsuspecting friends!  Brooklyn got the hang of this very fast and her laugh is sweetness to this grandma’s ears.



Papa and Brooklyn swam over to the shore and she got a lesson on skipping rocks. She came back so excited and telling us about it and Papa confirmed that she actually skipped a rock for one bounce!  Hey – that’s better than grandma does!!!   Smile



I gotta confess though that before we headed out on the boat she was a trooper and helped do the breakfast dishes. Actually, it was all her idea and she had FUN messing around in the water!  Papa was right there to be sure they were actually clean, but do you know she stood there and did them all – and even laughed while she did it?



Washing dishes is really quite a serious thing that requires great concentration!


“GRANDPA - so simple even a child can operate!” – unknown