March 31, 2010

Book Review - An Absence So Great

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


Inspired by the engaging stories told through her grandmother’s photographs taken at the turn of the century, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick provides a portrait of the tension between darkness and light in the soul of a young woman pursuing her professional dreams.

Despite growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is still at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing on her dream to one day own her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep those painful memories from seeping into her heart, and the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

My Thoughts:
The story of a single young woman struggling to prove to herself that she can accomplish what is not acceptable in 1910.  Jessie has moved from Minnesota to help out a couple that owns a photography studio.  They have mercury poisoning and are not able to see to the studio.  She struggles with the problems of proving to herself that she can be a photographer in a "man's world" and own her own studio one day.  Set in 1910, the struggles are so majestically written that you feel as if you are also going through these same emotional woes of a young woman.  A forbidden love comes back around and causes much distress in her mind and life.  The emotional struggles felt by Jessie and the other characters in the book are portrayed in a way that you truly feel the pain of what it must've been like in those days.

Kirkpatrick has based this story on her grandmother.  She does a great job with research by interviewing her grandmother and recalling those great memories.  She also documents actual photographs that were taken by her grandmother in the book.  Looking at these old photos and feeling that you are seeing into the life and souls of these people is very intriguing.

I did not realize that there was a book before this one in a series.  I do believe I could have followed along a little better if I would have read the first book and known a little more background.  All in all, I do believe this story can still stand on its own and I would recommend reading this book.

Author Bio:

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning author of sixteen historical novels, including A Flickering Light, the first part of Jessie Gaebale’s story, and three nonfiction titles. Known for her unique insights into the exploration of community, family and faith of actual historical women, the Wisconsin native and her husband have called their ranch in Oregon home for the past 25 years.


I have one book (courtesy of to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. Please leave me a comment and I will do a random draw for this wonderful book!! Can't wait to see who wins!

March 30, 2010

Mother/Son Cake Decorating

We had our annual cake decorating contest this past weekend at church.  Here's what we did:
We made a Chemistry Flask.  There was even smoke coming out of the tube.  It turned out soooo much better than I ever thought it would.  I was very proud of my son - he did a great job (with MUCH of my assistance)!

Here's a look at some of the other creative ideas that were there:

How creative is everyone!  I hope you enjoy.  This is  always so much fun for the kids and we raise money for BGMC. 

March 26, 2010

Book Review: Here Burns My Candle

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.

A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.

Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland , Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

My Thoughts:
I love every book I have ever read of Liz Curtis Higgs and they are truly masterpieces!!  Here Burns My Candle is no exception!!

Liz Curtis Higgs does a phenomenal job of telling the modern day story of Ruth and Naomi set in 18th Century Scotland.  The way she writes and documents in this particular book truly makes you feel that you are right there with the Kerr family, feeling every struggle and every emotion!  The struggle of trying to decide if they should side with Bonnie Prince Charlie or remain loyal to King George II.

The love story that is told between Lady Elisabeth Kerr and Lord Donald is sure to stir up your emotions.  Does she stay with the man that seems to truly love her but has a wandering mind and eye?  The rumors and ill speaking from the towns folk do not make that an easy decision.

There are so many secrets to unravel in this book and way too many family dynamics to go into here.  I highly suggest you get this book and read it for yourself!  You will be transported back to the year 1745, walking along those cobblestone streets with the folks of Edinburgh.


Author Bio:
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist. Visit the author’s extensive website at

I have one book (courtesy of to give away to one lucky reader of my blog.  Please leave me a comment and I will do a random draw for this wonderful book!!  Can't wait to see who wins!

March 22, 2010

This Oklahoma Weather!!

Well another weekend has come and gone and what a CRAZY one it was!!!

This past week was spring break so my daughter was cramming in every moment she could to be with friends.  We had several "come to Jesus" talks.  One referring to why we don't let our friends bust out our screens and climb out the windows of our bedroom when we have 3 perfectly good doors that lead outside.  The second was why we don't let our 12 year old friend drive us around town (WITHOUT MOM KNOWING OF COURSE!!).  This spring break has been a truly trying time for me with my daughter!  Good times!!  Good times!!

The second crazy event that happened was having a 75 degree Friday and then waking up to 6 inches of snow on the ground Saturday!  WHAT????  Can't help but love this Crazy Oklahoma weather!  While growing up I always heard the older generation say, "Used my heater to go into work and my air conditioner to come home from work"  OR "stick around a while...the weather'll change". 

Because of the SNOW CRISIS, they had to cancel and postpone the Mother/Son cake decorating contest.  Bummer!  I was kind of relieved to tell you the truth because I was uber prepared and got down to 5pm Saturday evening and realized I had forgotten something that I can't purchase unless it's M - F.  (more details to come later!   I Promise!!)

I did get my son's bedroom half way painted.  I was soooo proud of myself.  We are painting his room bottom half red (OU crimson) and top half white and then using aluminum flashing as a border.  It's going to be so industrial and cool when it's done!  I can't wait!!  I've taken before and during pics.  As soon as I have the completed pics, I'll post all of that.

Have a blessed week!

March 19, 2010

Well, I officially missed Thoughtful Thursday.  I must admit I missed it because I have a HUGE problem with my pictures.  As previously mentioned, I went to a scrap retreat this past weekend.  I do all digital scrapbooking.  While I was there, my external hard drive began deleting everything.  YES, DELETING!!!!  I was beyond anxious all weekend about this problem.  I am now waiting on Geek Squad to see if they can recover everything.  I hope and pray fervently they can.  This hard drive had every piece of scrapbook upload from the past two or three years.  It also has ALL of my pictures ever taken.  I am extremely worried about this!

Anyway, maybe I'll have good news soon!  I now will be backing up my external hard drive on the home external hard drive.  What a pain!  But I guess it's worth it in time of trouble huh? 

Learned from my experience!

March 17, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up Part Deux - The Scrap Gatherers

What do you get when you take this group of ladies....

and mix it with this lovely scenery?

You get a three day scrapbook retreat!

Here's a highlight of what we did for three days.

The entire weekend was soooo much fun!  A relaxing time was had by all.  ENJOY!

March 16, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

I just returned Sunday night from an absolutely wonderful weekend.  Myself and eleven other women all piled up in a few cars and headed ourselves to Rogers, Arkansas to a very large home right on Beaver Lake.  We took off on Friday morning and didn't think about home until we crossed into the Oklahoma border on 4 PM Sunday. 

We - The Scrap Gatherers (as we've named ourselves) - had sooooo much fun doing nothing all weekend but scrapbooking and eating.  How wonderful it is to get together with women and have no worries in the world except what color should go with this picture and how should I arrange this page...

The stories that were told - HILARIOUS!!  The food that was eaten - DELICIOUS!!  The memories that were remembered and new ones made - PRICELESS!!

It was definitely a time away that will never be forgotten!

Tonight, Andrew and I are going to practice our cake for the upcoming Mother/Son cake decorating contest.  Can't wait to report what we did and show you pictures.  That will have to wait until next week...can't give away my secrets!!  ha!

March 11, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Every year our church hosts a Mother/Son cake decorating contest.  2008 was our first year to start this.  I thought I would share a few pictures of our first experience.

Here is Andrew and I with our cake.  It's a hot dog and fries made out of pound cake and twinkies (iced in red)

Andrew taking a bite of the "hot dog"!  Too cute!

He won second place in his age group.  I was so proud of him.  2009 we didn't do so good and I didn't even take a single picture.  In two weeks, we will be having our 3rd annual Mother/Son cake decorating contest.  We already have a plan and we will be posting about that after it's done.  What fun have you had with your kids lately?

March 10, 2010

Proud Momma!!!

Oh y'all!!!  I am sooooo excited and such a proud momma at this time.  Just thought I would update everyone about my daughter's first track meet yesterday.  (I'll have pics to post later)

She ran in four events and placed in two of them.  She came home so excited and loving the track world!!  YAY!!  She placed third (bronze medal) in the 1 mile relay and second (silver medal) in the 200 meter dash.  She ALMOST got first in the dash.  Her time was 29.29 and the girl who beat her was at 29.28 - super close race.  Now I wish I could have been there to see it.

As mentioned before, she was sooo excited last night and also exhausted.  I'm so proud of her and can't wait to see what will come in the near future from other track meets.

March 9, 2010

Java After Jammies

Last night the ladies of OFA had a very intimate little late night coffee/dessert gathering at the local Cracker Barrel.  It was a very laid back relaxed gathering and we laughed and laughed and laughed!!  Thanks Deb!!

We forgot to bring a camera so I took a few pics with my phone.  They're not the best quality but they're still fun to look at.

We all enjoyed a wonderful dessert!!

Fun, Food, and Fellowship!!

Kerry's dessert was the hit of the evening.  IT WAS HUGE!!!!!

It was such a wonderful evening.  I enjoyed being with you lovely ladies of OFA.  Can't wait to see what we'll be doing next month!!

March 8, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

This past weekend was so peaceful and laid back.  The weather was FABULOUS!!!  I forgot how wonderful it was to be outside with the sun shining. 

I must take a moment to brag really quickly.  I have never had a "star" in any type of sport in our home.  Looks like that might be changing a little though.  My daughter (12 yrs old) started running track this year.  Her coach can't say enough about her.  It makes me soooo excited to know that my child is good at something!!  Her first real track meet is tomorrow and she's a little nervous but excited at the same time.  The coach told me on Saturday that she feels it is highly possible for Hannah to make all-state track by the time she's a freshman.  WOW!  Sooo exciting.  Anyway, I'll have to follow up later this week and tell you how that went.

Saturday was spent at a "mock" track meet.  Hannah spent about three hours with the coach and the team getting prepared for the track meet this week.  The hubster and I just kind of relaxed all morning.  I did a little laundry, drove Hannah to track practice and Jeff and I went to Wal-Mart for a few items.  All in all an easy day.

Friday night we had the family over for Taco Night.  It was soooo yummy!!  It was nice to have everyone around and enjoy the fellowship.  Jeff's two boys and their families and his mother came.  We had a total of eleven including kids.  We missed my husband's sister and her husband.  Things just went wrong with their schedule.  We had so much fun eating and playing a new game called "A Game of Things".  It was soooo much fun!  I highly recommend anyone to purchase this game to have in your game closet. 

Sunday was church day and lunch and another sunshiney day.  I got out in the yard and cut back my monkey grass.  It was so nice to be outside!!  I made my kids get out and play, too.  They wanted to coop up in their rooms and watch a movie...typical!

This week is full of lots of fun things!  Tomorrow night is my monthly Bunco, Wednesday is church, Thursday is open for WHATEVER!!!! and Friday I am leaving for a two night scrapbooking weekend on Beaver lake!!  SOOOOOO EXCITED!  What did your family do over the weekend??

March 5, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday (A Day Late)

Well, I successfully forgot to post my Thursday post. I thought I would do it today (even though it's a day late). I actually started the post yesterday and go to feeling bad and left work to go rest. As the night progressed, I just felt worse and worse. Sooo, here's my Thursday post:

I thought I would share a photo of the "other beings" that lurk around the corners in our home.

These are my darling kitties!!! The grey one (Ashes) was given to me by a neighbor about 6 years ago. She was a tiny little scared lost kitty when I got her. The black and white one (Oreo) was one that wandered up onto our back deck about 4 years ago. I have a super soft heart for lost animals. I started trying to pet the cat immediately and fed him a little....I know, BAD!! My husband was not very happy with me. I eventually wound up letting him come into the house. He never left!!! AND guess whose cat this is.....YEAH - the hubby's cat!! AND you don't mess with HIS cat. He's very protective.

Anyway, Oreo is tall and long and walks like a jaguar. Ashes is short and fat and wiggles when she walks. They are both HUGE kitties but we all LOVE them soooooooo much.

They both lounge around ALLLLLL day long so they can run around chasing each other all night long.

Ashes likes to lay on her back and rub around.

She also finds a lot of time to take a little "cat nap" when we're all watching TV.

This is how she looks when one of the children has her forcing her to take pictures.

And here's typical Ashes lying on the floor waiting on someone to rub her belly.

Oreo likes bags, shoes, suitcases, laundry baskets and anything he can get into.  Here he managed to get into a walmart sack that was in my bathroom.  He got the handle stuck around his neck and his feet inside the bag.  It was hilarious to watch him try and figure out how to get out of that one.

Such a poser.  He's in hubby's shoes.

America's Next Top Model!!

And another pose!

Sorry to bore you with my feline family!  Share some of your pets pics!!

March 3, 2010

Cheap Dinner

Well, the kids and I had a night last night without hubby home.  I decided I wasn't going to cook & we would go out to eat.  I was thinking about how I could get a great meal at a bargain price.  I am here to report we did it!!!!!  We did REAL GOOD!!  Here's how it went down:

Lonestar (where we live) offers a "Kids Eat Free" on Tuesday night.  You can get up to two free kids meals with one adult entree purchase.  I decided that would save us a bundle of change.  Then I sign up with every restaurant club known to man so I can get coupons and free items at my birthday time and anniversary time.  I just happened to have a coupon from Lonestar offering me a free appetizer.  Cha-Ching!

We started the night off with a FREE appetizer of Cheese Fries (savings of $7.99) - YUMMY!  I ordered a fabulous chicken sandwich for $7.99.  It came with a side of my choice.  Being I had fries already, I chose to have a house salad.  The kids ordered a chicken tenders dinner (savings of $4.99) and a steak medallion dinner (savings of $6.99).  We all ate and ate and ate until we were so full we rolled out of there.

When our waiter brought the bill, I was astounded at the price I saw!  I only owed $8.67!!!!!  WHAT?!?!?!  We had saved almost $20.00!!  Our sweet waiter did not charge us for any of our drinks either.  I only paid for my meal (the cheapest on the menu byt he way).  I was so excited to walk out of there feeding all three of us for under $10.  I did leave him a hefty tip!

I look forward to finding more great deals like this!  What are some of your ideas on saving in restaurants?  Do you have a story to share?

March 2, 2010

A New Favorite

I have a new favorite in my life!!  After reading a post on my friend Lori's blog (read her post here) about her UGG experience, it got me thinking.

I have always HATED the way UGGS looked.  I've thought they were clunky and fat looking.  I've never wanted a pair and never looked into the cost or comfort of them at all.  Recently, my daughter talked me into purchasing her a pair of the UGG look-a-like boots that are EVERYWHERE!!!  I began sneaking them out of her room and wearing them with my skinny jeans.  What a terrible mom!!  It's actually kind of sad when you're sharing shoes with your 12 year old daughter.

I began really enjoying the boots and looking to get me a pair.  Reading Lori's post made me definitely realize that I was going to have to splurge and get me a pair of UGGS. 

Look what I got yesterday!!!!

I about had a caniption fit when I got to looking into purchasing a pair of the UGGS and saw how much they were.  OH MY!!  I am an avid bargain hunter and want the best deal out there!  I got on ebay and found these lovelies.  They are chocolate brown cardy UGGS.  I only paid $51.00 for them - BRAND NEW with tags!!!  WOW!

Here's me wearing them today.
These are definitely the MOST comfortable shoes I have ever had on my feet.  NO socks and NO sweating!!  YAY!  I saved almost $100.00 by buying them on ebay and waiting.  Patience is not my virtue!!

Anyway, I was given strict orders to post this (from Lori).  Soooo, here ya go!!  ENJOY!

Please folks, invest in a pair of these UGGS.  They are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn in my life.  And really really cute with the right outfit.