May Staycation 2018

May was lovely here in my corner of the world. Yes, spring has past and we're into the high 90's most days but it still cools down during the night. I count my blessings because as summer is here, it soon won't be doing much of  that!  

I had a two week staycation mid-May that was spent enjoying home, family, friends and full of wonderful projects and outings. I was able to relax and catch up on some very much needed reading time and also ended up watching a few really good movies.  

Most of the books I read this month were ARC's that I'll be posting about very soon. I added in some re-reads of past favorite books as well. 

Movies I Enjoyed Watching:

All movies currently running on Prime Video 
at the time of this posting

This movie just tugged at my heart strings.  It's a long one that I watched over two afternoons and all I can say is that it is SO worth the watching!

A really good adaptation from Hallmark on the Swiss Family Robinson theme. Excellent actors, well written dramatic script, gorgeous scenery.  
A real pleasure to watch!

As I love anything to do with Christmas, this movie was right up my alley.
  It was delightful,  heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time.  
Overall, a movie I truly enjoyed and highly recommend!

Books Read this month: 

  • Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber
  • The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer
  • Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels
  • A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green
  • The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
  • The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck
  • The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
  • 223 Orchard Street by Renee Ryan
  • Together Forever by Jody Hedlund
  • No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens

Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment In Relishing the Season by Alexandra Kuykendall

  • ISBN-10: 080107536X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801075360
  • Publisher: Baker Books (September 5, 2017)


The Christmas season is a particularly difficult time for women to slow down and relish what's right in front of them. An annual marker for many, it is a holiday that can often remind us how life is not going as we'd planned. Our family relationships remain strained, our finances stretched, and our schedules stuffed with too much to do in too little time.

Following the formula of her successful Loving My Actual Life, Alexandra Kuykendall shares with readers her own personal experiment to be completely present in her life as it is during the holiday season. Addressing the themes of Advent and Christmas, she reflects on hope, love, joy, peace, and relishing the season, with practical pullouts on common Christmas stressors, such as finances, schedules, and extended family. Kuykendall's signature candor helps women go easy on themselves, remember what truly matters, and find joy in their imperfect Christmases.

Source Unknown

Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall is well written and a refreshing, practical guide on how to experience and find joy in the Holiday Season no matter where you are in your life and what is going on in your life. 
It's a call to remember the "reason for the season" and how to avoid sabotaging  yourself and those around you during the Christmas season. 

Ms. Kuykendall's advise and steps of her "experiment" are clearly defined, practical and at times a bit unnerving as she asks you to do a bit of soul searching and stepping out on Faith. 

Overall, a book I will be reading and applying not only to the Christmas holiday season but to other areas of my life as well. I highly recommend this book!

4 Stars!

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms.  Kuykendall as well as Bakers Books and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

  • ISBN-10: 0800722701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800722708
  • Publisher: Revell (September 5, 2017)

From the Publisher

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby's father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant's paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don't know that she--or their grandson--exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma? 

Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson is a delightful romance read for the holiday season! This moving story is well written, engaging and full of emotions. It's an easy read that will relax as well as sweep you away for that well deserved break we all need during the enjoyable but sometimes chaotic holiday season! 

I fully enjoyed The Christmas Blessing and the only drawback was that the ending happened a bit too quickly. I would like to have had the ending detailed a bit more. Still, this book is a feel good Christmas story and as such - definitely worth the reading.

4 Stars!

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms.  Carlson as well as Revell Publishers and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Hand Made: The Modern Guide To Made From Scratch Living by Melissa K. Norris

  • ISBN-10: 0736969675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736969673
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2017)

What it's all about ... 

Homemade Shouldn't Be Hectic
Do you wish you could slow down and create a home you and your family love and enjoy spending time in? Melissa K. Norris, author of The Made-from-Scratch Life and voice of the Pioneering Today podcast, offers down-to-earth tips and guidance to help you learn how to...
  • bake old-fashioned recipes (everything from biscuits to shepherd's pie) with quick, stress-free steps
  • grow, harvest, and preserve culinary and medicinal herbs (with DIY tutorials for soaps, salves, and balms)
  • make your own cultured and fermented foods at home following simple instructions for buttermilk, sour cream, sourdough, and more
  • simplify your routine and declutter your home with room-by-room guides and Depression-era wisdom
Open your heart to God-given rest and discover practical and tangible ways you can craft your home into a refuge for yourself and the ones you love.

Home Made is chock full of practical advise that has something for every lifestyle  be it living in the country, the city, apartment living or Tiny Home living. This truly is one of the most practical, informative and delightful books I have read in a long time!

The author's focus on finding balance in all areas of life (home, work, family, faith in God) is inspirational. She's a regular Mom, wife, woman trying to juggle a family, full time work while providing a home that lovingly supports herself, family and nurtures her faith in God. 

My favorite Things about this book? 

Ms. Norris' writing style ~ it wasn't preachy ... she shared her triumphs and failures, the lessons she learned on the way and her faith in God so openly that I honestly felt like I was at my kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee and chatting with a friend!

I love her stories and references  to the Great Depression era. That generation sure knew how to improvise, make do, go without the extras and make things stretch as far as they could possibly go.  Each tip  from that era and the stories that go with it touched my heart and inspired me.  Here's an example of one tip that I would  never have dreamed of ...       

Starchy potato water can be substituted for milk when making bread. Who knew? You'll find so MANY more of these wonderful tips and "how to's" throughout this book! 

Home Made is one of the BEST books I've read on going back to the basics and blending "the old fashioned ways" with today's life.  The tips are fantastic and there is such a wealth of knowledge with in his book that I  know I will be using it for a lifetime. I plan on gifting this book to some of my friends who have wanted to get more back to the basics. I know they're going to love it! 

5 Stars!

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Norris and as well as Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley  for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Another Great PBS Show ~ Secrets of the Six Wives

So much has been written about Henry the VIII, his reign and his wives ... what could one more documentary share anything new?  

How about the King's reign from the perspective of his six wives! 

{From PBS}

Historian Lucy Worsley time travels back to the Tudor Court to witness some of the most dramatic moments in the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives. Combining drama based on eye witness accounts, historical sources and Lucy’s own contemporary historical comment, Lucy moves seamlessly from the present to the past. In a world run by men where the king had ultimate power, each queen (as well as their ladies in waiting) found their own unique methods of exerting influence. For the first time, it is these women’s stories that Lucy wants to uncover, witness and explore, as well as offering her own take on Henry himself. 

{My Thoughts} 

The film production of this documentary is excellent. Lucy Worsley, the narrator has such a passion for history and it shines through.  Her modern day perspective and in-depth research make this period of history just jump off the screen and come to life! I was so captivated I couldn't stop watching it. 

Visit here for a closer look at this wonderful documentary. 

Continuous Granny Square Blanket

Continuous Granny Square Blanket

I had a lot of fun creating this blanket and truth be told, it was so easy - just one large continuous granny square! I was pretty excited to see the colors blend so much better than I anticipated.

The yarn I used was Red Heart's Super Saver and I just picked out colors that I liked.  For the pattern, I loosely based this blanket on The Crochet Crowd's continuous granny square pattern but I wanted to use multiple colors so I adapted his pattern a bit. 

 Colorful Granny Square Blanket Pattern

Color 1 - 2 rows

Color 2 - 2 rows

Color 3 - 4 rows

Color 4 - 2 rows

Color 5 - 2 rows

Repeat the above pattern until you reach the size that you want for your blanket.  To finish it off, I did a row of single crochet for the border. 

A Man Called Ove {Book to Movie Review}

A Man Called Ove

I kept seeing the book A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman around various blog sites and the internet.  I read the book synopsis and added it to my wish list thinking, "this sounds like a great read!"  
Then I came across it in on Amazon (Prime) and decided to give it a go. I don't often watch movies with subtitles but as I had some free time and this book/movie really sounded so good  I thought I'd watch it.  

This movie is amazing! 

The story is stunning, the actors are excellent and the subtitles did not detract at all from the movie. It's charming, inspiring, endearing, hilarious at times while poignantly sad at others.  Overall, a truly good  movie!  

The concept of the movie's underlying theme bothered me a bit until I understood it was a way to connect Ove's past to his present and how his life shaped him to be the man he is now.  A life where his present is fraught with new and old neighbors that drive him batty and a stray cat that won't take no for an answer.  

The theme of this movie is one of depth but the movie builds around this, presenting Ove's past in a unique way shedding light onto who Ove really is. It's amazing to see how one man's life can touch and affect so many others.   

While I would not recommend this for a family movie for those with younger teens or little ones, I do recommend this for older teens and adults. Why? Some of the sub-themes could be emotionally disturbing or misinterpreted by younger teens/children.  

I'm now heading off to get a copy of the book to read, as I find that I usually enjoy the book versions much more than the movie. I'm pretty psyched since I loved the movie, I'm hoping to really love the book!