Sunday, January 15, 2017

Temperature Blanket-Week 2

I realized that I was thinking that I was working my blanket from the bottom up like with other blankets I've made, when in reality it was starting with the top, because--January 1st, right?? It should be the top of my blanket, not the bottom! Not a big deal, I just have to flip it, so what I was thinking as the bottom is now the top and the back is now the front! I also decided to mark when the kids have a snow day from school (since we had 3 of them this week)

This week's high temperatures:
Jan 8: 18
Jan 9: 26 with snow from ~8:00 - 3:00 (and overnight)
Jan 10: 45 (Snow overnight until ~5:00 am) Rain from ~1:00 - ~10:00 *Snow Day*
Jan 11: 41 Rain from ~4:00 pm to midnight *Snow Day*
Jan 12: 33 snow from 9:00 am to 10:00 am  *Snow Day*
Jan 13: 21
Jan 14: 30

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "Never Forget" by Jody Hedlund

Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?
Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.
Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.
Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.
The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?

My Thoughts

"Never Forget" is the fifth book in the "Beacons of Hope" series. I did not read any of the other books and didn't feel like I was missing anything. I don't know if any of the characters were introduced in any of the previous books, although by reading the book description, I think that Nathaniel must have at least a small role in the fourth book. I think I'd like to go back and read the earlier books in the series. Abbie is strong and tough, but also scared and alone. I liked watching her fall in love with Nathaniel is not a very likeable fellow when we first meet him and it was encouraging to see his transformation into a man of God who desires to do what is honorable. While Abbie and Nathaniel kiss quite passionately, they do not go further than that physically. This book had twists I did not expect and kept me wanting to keep reading and to not want to put it down.

About the Author

jody-hedlund-web-copyWinner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award,  best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Which Do You Prefer: Series or Standalones?
By Jody Hedlund
Readers usually have strong opinions about whether they like series or standalones.
Some readers refuse to read books that are inter-related. Others can’t get enough books about their favorite characters.
I see the pros and cons of both.
For series, I don’t like feeling lost as I try to wade through previous characters along with their backstory. I recently started a series by a well-known author and was disappointed to realize the first book was connected to a previous series she’d already published. From the get-go, I felt left out as though I didn’t quite know who all the characters were or their significance.
On the other hand, for standalones, I sometimes feel as though I would like the story to continue. I’ve invested in the setting and characters and so enjoy when I can return to that place and continue to glimpse the characters I’ve fallen in love with—even if from a distance.
My favorites are books that fall in the middle between standalone and series. I like to think of them as standalones within a series. Becky Wade’s Porter brother series is like that. Each of the books centers around one of the brothers (and a tomboy sister). While characters from other books make an appearance in the stories, each plot is separate and complete without any reliance upon another book.
My Beacons of Hope lighthouse series falls in the middle too. The books are related in that they all take place at lighthouses and share a symbolic “cross of hope” that is passed on from one book to the next. A minor character in a previous book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. But each book can be read by itself without having read any of the others.
In other words, readers can pick up my newest release, Never Forget, which is the fifth and final book in the series, and they wouldn’t be confused about who the characters are or what their history is. The plot starts with a bang and ends with a satisfying sigh. It is complete story unto itself.
And yet, for those who’ve read other books in the series, they’ll get to see the happily-ever-after of a character from a previous book. And they’ll also get to find out where the cross of hope finally ends.
If you’re not a fan of series, I encourage you to give the Beacons of Hope series a try. It might satisfy the need for standalones and series all in one neat little package.
To that end, I’m giving away all FIVE books in the series as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour to one lucky winner!
Tell us: What is your preference: Standalones, Series, or Standalones within a Series?

Blog Stops

January 10: Karen Sue Hadley
January 10: Bookworm Mama
January 11: Faithfully Bookish
January 11: Inklings and Notions
January 12: Smiling Book Reviews
January 12: Genesis 5020
January 13: The Scribbler
January 13: Bibliophile Reviews
January 14: Daysong Reflections
January 14: Blogging With Carol
January 15: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 16: A Greater Yes
January 16: Bigreadersite
January 17: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
January 18: Book by Book
January 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts
January 19: Carpe Diem
January 19: A Bakers Perspective
January 19: Splashes of Joy
January 20: Christian Bookaholic
January 20: Stuff and Nonsense
January 21: Radiant Light
January 21: cherylbbookblog
January 22: Neverending Stories
January 22: A Path of Joy
January 23: Henry Happens
January 23: Onceuponatime


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

"Never Forget" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Beacons of Hope (Book 5)
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Northern Lights Press (January 4, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692770879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692770870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3962 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Northern Lights Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2017)
  • Publication Date: January 4, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01MTK39PB

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 in Review and Goals for 2017

2016's goals:

  • Write at least 9000 words/month (averages to 300 words/day)
  • Sculpt at least 12 babies
  • Tat at least 12 crosses
  • Sew at least 12 sock monkeys
  • Knit 9 hats
  • Exercise at least 20 days/month
  • Read at least 5 minutes a day in the Bible, plus in devotional books
  • Write up at least 4 backlog book reviews a month
  • Post more than book reviews on my blog and within 2 weeks of the event I'm blogging about happened
So how did I do?
  • I wrote 6191 words (which is only about 516 per month)
  • I sculpted 4 clay babies
  • I tatted 3 cross bookmarks
  • I sewed 3 sock monkeys
  • I knit 4 hats
  • I exercised most days until summer and then fell off
  • I read almost every day in my Bible and a devotional book
  • I wrote 16 backlogged book reviews (I honestly forgot that I had planned on doing this!)
  • I was posting things to my blog quicker, but then got bogged down again. It seems that the more pictures I take at an event, the less likely I am to blog about it in a timely manner because I have to label/date all the pictures, then pick which ones I want to use, resize them all, and then write the blog post.
My goals for 2017:

For 2016, I'd like to keep most of my goals from 2015, with a few changes

  • Write at least 3000 words/month (averages to 100 words/day)
  • Sculpt at least 12 babies
  • Tat at least 6 crosses
  • Sew at least 6 sock monkeys
  • Knit 9 hats
  • Exercise at least 20 days/month
  • Read at least 1 chapter a day in the Bible, plus in devotional books
  • Write up at least 4 backlog book reviews a month
  • Post more than book reviews on my blog and within 2 weeks of the event I'm blogging about happened

Temperature Blanket - Week 1

Now that the new year has started, it was time to start my temperature blanket. I found 2 sites that told the high temperature for my city and neither agreed with each other, so I decided to go with Weather Underground.  I used a chainless single crochet starting foundation row and boy, did that make it so much easier! I originally started with 225 stitches, but when I laid it on my bed and held up a tape measure for the projected length of 365 rows, I decided to go with 250 instead. When I was working on the row for January 3rd, I decided I needed to mark the half-way and quarter points. I started counting groups of 25, and realized it didn't work out right. It turns out I only have 241 stitches! Not sure how that happened, but it actually made it easier to mark as this gives 10 stitches per hour (not counting that extra stitch!) When I first thought of marking the precipitation, I just thought I'd add the precipitation-marking-thread for the whole row, but when we had rain just in the evening/night, I realized I had to be more specific in marking when it rained/snowed. IF I do another one of the temperature blankets, I will leave off the precipitation marking, but still denote the holidays (as they last all day long). It takes about 10-15 minutes to crochet the one row for the day.

The high temperatures for each day were:
Jan 1: 39
Jan 2: 39 with rain in the evening/night
Jan 3: 36 with rain in the afternoon
Jan 4: 32 with snow
Jan 5: 14
Jan 6: 12
Jan 7: 15

The green yarn bow is to mark the front of the blanket and the colored clips mark the 3-hour increments

close up to show the "sparkly" threads for the precipitation

My project bag has the yarns for the most likely temperatures
If I had used the color chart I showed at the beginning of my original post, my blanket would have had 3 colors instead of the 4 mine has (not a big difference, but does give a little more color)

When I first was deciding which website to use for the high of the day, I noticed that Weather Underground had two spots that gave the high for the day--one near the top and one near the bottom. The temperature at the bottom given for January 1 & 2 matched the temperatures my parents had at their house (about 10 minutes from my house) which is why I decided to go with that site. I had continuously noticed that the two highs for "yesterday" differed slightly between the two listings, but continued to use the temperature given at the bottom of the page. Today I was looking at the history and discovered that the temperature at the top was for a site "5 miles west" of my town whereas the one I'd been using was for a town about an hour southeast of me! So that gave me another dilemma of whether I needed to start over and use the temperatures that where for the place closer to me. I called my dad and he told me that their high for yesterday was 15, which exactly matched the temperature that I had been using. So I guess I will continue to use the high temperatures listed for the more distant (but apparently more similar temperature-wise) city.

The differences between the temperatures was as follows:
 (temperature I used / temperature for closer site)
Jan 1: 39 / 40.6
Jan 2: 39 /41.2
Jan 3: 36 / 37.2
Jan 4: 32 / 34
Jan 5: 14 /12.6
Jan 6: 12 / 14.4
Jan 7: 15 /14.2

Using the 2nd set of temperatures, the first two rows would have been green instead of blue, the next 4 days would have been the same colors I used and yesterday would have been the same color as the day before rather than the darker purple I used.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book List for 2016

"Friends and Enemies" by Terri Wangard
"Island Hope" by Kimberly Rose Johnson
"Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho" by Angela Ruth Strong
"The Forgotten Recipe" by Amy Clipston
"The Wedding Chapel" by Rachel Hauck
"Step by Step" by Candace Calvert

"Whispers in the Reading Room" by Shelley Gray
"Shattered Memories" by Debbie Lynne Costello
"On Lone Star Trail" by Amanda Cabot

"Heart of a Cowboy" by Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Yvonne Lehman & Vickie McDonough
"You're the One That I Want" by Susan May Warren
"Finding Love in Tombstone, Arizona" by Miralee Ferrell
"The Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson

"An Amish Market" by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Vanessa Chapman
"The Reluctant Duchess" by Roseanna M. White
"A Love to Treasure" by Kimberly Rose Johnson
"A Daring Sacrifice" by Jody Hedlund

"No Neutral Ground" by Terri Wangard
"The Beautiful Pretender" by Melanie Dickerson
"Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter" by Carrie Fancett Pagels
"The Quieting" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

"An Unbroken Heart" by Kathleen Fuller
"Shattered by Death" by Catherine Finger
"Whispering to Horses" by Thomas Nye
"The Amish Firefighter" by Laura V. Hilton
"In Love and War" by Miralee Ferrell, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Debby Mayne, & Trish Perry
"Anchor in the Storm" by Sarah Sundin
"Escaping Reality" by Rachel Skatvold
"What God Brings Together" by Melissa Wardwell
"A Christmas Wedding" by Melissa Wardwell

"Dance and Be Glad" by Melissa Wardwell
"Starlight Serenade" by Debra E. Marvin
"A Change of Heart" by Rachel J. Good
"To Soar on Eagle's Wings" by Renee Blare
"Through Raging Waters" by Renee Blare
"Tokens of Promise" by Teresa Pollard

"Love's Harvest" by Linda Shenton Matchett
"Fateful Fall" by Erin Unger
"Twice Redeemed" by Mimi Milan
"Beauty for Ashes" by Carol E. Keen
"Monstrous Beauty" by Carol E. Keen
"Sweet as Honey" by Jennifer Beckstrand
"A Bee in Her Bonnet" by Jennifer Beckstrand
"Like a Bee to Honey" by Jennifer Beckstrand
"The Blueberry Cupcake Mystery" by Naomi Miller
"Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana" by Angela Ruth Strong

"Kiss the Bride" by Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, & Kathryn Springer
"The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook" by Jennifer Beckstrand, Tearsa Daines, & Alicia Johnson
"No Greater Gift" by Teresa H. Morgan
"A Lady Unrivaled" by Roseanna M. White
"A Mother in the Making" by Gabrielle Meyer
"A Christmas Homecoming" by Kimberly Rose Johnson
"Mattie's Pledge" by Jan Drexler

"Avalanche" by Gayla K. Hiss
"The Devoted" by Suzanne Woods Fisher
"Trust my Heart" by Carol J. Post
"Aboard Providence" by Keely Brooke Keith
"A Week of Werewolves, Faeries, and Fancy Dresses" by Nicki Chapelway
"Wild Montana Skies" by Susan May Warren
"The Flaming Sword" by Heather L.L. FitzGerald
"Where Two Hearts Meet" by Liz Johnson

"Love Found in Sherwood Forest" by Linda Shenton Matchett
"Love in the Seams" by Jodie Wolfe
"Hearts Tightly Knit" by Jodie Wolfe
"Finding Margo" by Jen Turano
"Christmas Lights" by Vikki Kestell, Cathe Swanson, April Hayman, & Chautona Havig

"To Have and To Hold" by Betsy St. Amant, Kate Ganshert, & Becky Wade
"Giver of Wonders" by Roseanna M. White
"Soar Like Eagles" by Terri Wangard
"A Royal Christmas Wedding" by Rachel Hauck
"Unbroken Spirit" by Kelsey Norman
"The Amish Christmas Kitchen" by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, & Lisa Jones Baker
"Buried Memories" by Carol J. Post
"A Family Arrangement" by Gabrielle Meyer
"Never Forget" by Jody Hedlund

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review: "A Family Arrangement" by Gabrielle Meyer

Charlotte Lee arrives in Little Falls, Minnesota intending to take her 3 nephews back to Iowa City to live with her. Her brother-in-law, Abram Cooper, makes a deal that if he doesn't have the town up and running in 10 months, she can take his sons with his blessing. Will Charlotte come to see that Little Falls is the perfect place for a Family Arrangement?

At first, I felt that Charlotte was being unrealistic in her fears about Abram and his character. As I read the book and came to know more of Charlotte's motivations and background, her fears became easier to understand. It was interesting to think that this was how many of the pioneer towns were started. I hadn't ever really thought about it, I guess I just figured people moved to where other people were living and carried on with their particular business or trade. I was glad for Abram and Charlotte to work through their issues and make changes in their lives. I didn't want to put the book down once I got started with it. I liked watching Abram and Charlotte interact with each other and wanted to give them a shove towards each other. "A Family Arrangement" is in the "Little Falls Legacy" series, so I look forward to visiting Little Falls again.

"A Family Arrangement" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Little Falls Legacy
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals (December 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373283881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373283880
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.6 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2960 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals (December 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01F1RGC6C

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received.

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "The Amish Christmas Kitchen" by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, & Lisa Jones Baker

Kelly Long
Newly married, Clara Mast and Daniel Kauffman have little to give but love during their first Christmas season together. But generous hearts are always willing to be creative in this “Gift of the Magi” inspired story.  

The "blurb" on Amazon (above) about this book is incorrect. This story is about widowed Clara Loftuz and her late husband's best friend, Daniel Kauffman. Seth's dying wish was that Daniel marry Clara and take care of her. Daniel botches a wedding proposal and now, two years later, longs for nothing else than to make Clara his bride. Using his skills as a baker, Daniel goads Clara into a bake off to get her off the mountain. I enjoyed reading Daniel and Clara's story and watching their love unfold.

Jennifer Beckstrand
When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .

I love Jennifer Beckstrand's Huckleberry Hill books. Anna and Felty are adorable and you never know what to expect with them, but like Felty said, Anna always makes her match. I really liked Titus and his willingness to think of others first and do whatever he could to help them. I felt sorry for Katie being put in the spot that she was and angry at Adam and his arogance. I liked this quote from Felty: "Everyone thinks all I do is read the newspaper. You learn a lot when no one knows you're paying attention."

Lisa Jones Baker
A charity auction, an unexpected friendship, and a stubborn spirit combine in an unusual courtship. But for Emma and Jonathan, overcoming obstacles is just one of the lessons to be learned about special blessings this holiday season.

I haven't read anything by Lisa Jones Baker before so I didn't know what to expect. The book kept rehashing the same thing about Jonathon and why he opposed the auction. I also felt the "throwing frustrated hands in the air" and calling their parents "role model" all the time was over done. I wish that this story had been first so that the other two would be the last ones to read. I did like how the characters prayed and sought God's direction.

About the Book


The Christmas Bakery at Huckleberry Hill
When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .

About the Author

jennifer Beckstrand 1Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.

Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.
 Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand
What do you get when you combine Anna and Felty’s earnest grandson, Titus, with a pretty girl who’s practically engaged to someone else, a sleigh full of Christmas bakery orders, and two mischievous Christmas goats?
 A wild, wacky, and wunderbarr Christmas, that’s what.
 Anna and Felty Helmuth are determined to make this the most romantic Christmas ever on Huckleberry Hill, but have they bitten off more than they can chew trying to match their slightly scatterbrained grandson Titus with timid Katie Rose Gingerich? Titus tends to be a little thick in the head when it comes to love, and Katie Rose is too shy to open her mouth. It might take every potholder Anna can knit plus a determined goat and a little Christmas magic to bring Titus and Katie Rose together.
 Titus would do anything for his Mammi Anna, even eat her very bad cooking and learn how to knit, but why does he have to be the one to care for Mammi’s new goat? Goats give him the willies. But when Titus meets the pretty girl staying with his grandparents for Christmas, he doesn’t mind the goat so much. The more he sees of Katie Rose’s gentle ways and loving spirit, the more he wishes he were the kind of boy she would bake a pie for. Can he convince her to love him without offending her boyfriend? And will Mammi notice if he gets rid of her goat?
 After I wrote Huckleberry Hearts, I just knew there had to be someone special out there for Titus Helmuth, Anna and Felty’s lovable grandson. Christmas is the perfect setting for “A Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill” because Titus is one character who seems to have the spirit of Christmas in his heart all year long. When Katie Rose is homesick, Titus does his best to make her feel welcome and comfortable on Huckleberry Hill. He delivers her Christmas goodies, writes poetry for her, and sings Christmas songs. When he finally realizes he loves her, he’s going to have to use both Christmas goats and every trick in the book to convince her to marry him. It’s a fun, heartwarming, wonderful-gute Christmas romance.
 “A Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill” is in The Amish Christmas Kitchennovella collection, and it will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Blog Stops

December 15: Daysong Reflections
December 15: cherylbbookblog
December 16: Karen Sue Hadley
December 16: Jeanette’s Thoughts
December 17: Quiet Quilter
December 17: Moments Dipped in Ink
December 18: The Power of Words
December 18:  A Greater Yes
December 19: Christian Bookaholic
December 19: Lighthouse Academy
December 20: Neverending Stories
December 21: Autism Mom
December 22: Bigreadersite
December 22: Splashes of Joy
December 23: Blossoms and Blessings
December 25: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog
December 27: Bibliophile Reviews
December 27: Donna’s BookShelf



To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away three copies of Huckleberry Christmas. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

"The Amish Christmas Kitchen" is available in paperback:
  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (September 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496705912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496705914
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 1192 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (September 27, 2016)
  • Publication Date: September 27, 2016
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01A4ANX5O

I got a free digital copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are given voluntarily. No compensation was received.