Thursday, December 27, 2012

What's on My Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

With everything that's happened in the month of December (my husband being gone a weekend, a two day trip to Phoenix, Christmas, couch shopping, etc), I'm surprised that I finished so much. Most of the reading was fairly light because I was trying desperately to finish The Brothers Karamazov by the end of the year. Success!

As always, links are to my full reviews on Goodreads.

Bible Reading
  • Hosea
  • 1-3 John

Christian Fiction
  • A Time to Heal (Quilts of Lancaster County, #2) by Barbara Cameron - 3 stars. An easy weekend read.
  • Ten Thousand Charms (Crossroads of Grace #1) by Allison K. Pittman - 3.5 stars. Similar to Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, though not as well written.
  • The Missionary by William Carmichael, David Lambert - 2 stars. Maybe a guy would like it better? Tons of action and no character development.
  • She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell - 3.5 stars. Another solid read by Mitchell. So far, all of Mitchell's books have been good.
  • Courting Cate by Leslie Gould - 3.5 stars. An Amish setting of a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.
  • Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard - 3.5 stars. A Jane Austen style read, though not as good. Very clean period romance.

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Unrated for now. I finished this classic last weekend and am still putting together my thoughts. I didn't really enjoy the story but I thought the author included some timeless observations about morality, society, and everyday life.

General Nonfiction
  • Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett - 4 stars. A great cat care book.
  • The Older Cat: Recognizing Decline & Extending Life by Dan Poynter - 1 star. A horribly written and poorly organized book on caring for an older cat.

Secular Fiction
  • The Giving Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini - 4 stars. Finally! I was wondering if Chiaverini had written too many books in this series but this was a fun read, way better than the last two.

Currently Reading
I hope to finish the Christmas collection and possibly one more book before the end of the year. I have fun plans for my 2013 reading and can't wait to start!

Happy January reading!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Movies

We watched a few Christmas movies this season! Just for fun, I kept track of the movies we watched and how we liked them. It's hard to find quality Christmas movies but there were a few fun ones scattered throughout. The italicized descriptions are attributed to Netflix but the ratings and notes are my own.

12 Dates of Christmas
Unwillingly set up on a blind date with handsome Miles on Christmas Eve, Kate gets 12 chances to relive the date over and over again until she sets things right. At first reluctant to give Miles a shot, Kate learns acceptance from a holiday miracle.

2 stars - It felt reminiscent of Groundhog's Day (Bill Murray) but with none of the charm. I felt sorry for the romantic interest!

All She Wants for Christmas
A small-town woman with big business dreams works as an efficiency expert at the local Christmas ornament company. But there's trouble in store, including financial struggles for the factory and a charming stranger who may not be what he seems.

2 stars - I dropped it when the main character starts following her would-be boyfriend around and acting like she's in high school. I couldn't handle the fake drama! It wasn't realistic for her to be so suspicious and clingy about a guy she just met.

Christmas Angel
While writing an assignment for school about Christmas wishes, Olivia Mead begins to notice strange things happening around her. As her wishes start to come true, she becomes convinced that they are miracles linked to a woman she thinks is an angel.

3 stars - This movie barely earned a three star rating as the main character was a know-it-all fifth grader who never really seems to learn her lesson. The message of the movie is a solid one, that we need to leave certain things to God and allow ourselves to admit when we are weak so that He can demonstrate His strength. Too bad the mediocre acting/plot/soundtrack got in the way of the message.

The Christmas Orange
Incensed to discover that Santa Claus has left him only a single orange for Christmas instead of the hundreds of presents he requested in a long, detailed list, 6-year-old Anton Stingley decides to sue Santa for breach of contract.

2 stars - What an odd little animation! I had to look up the significance of a Christmas orange, as the movie didn't provide any enlightenment.

Christmas with a Capital C
This Christian family film follows the residents of Trapper Falls, Alaska, as they try to mount their annual Christmas celebration despite the interference of a Scrooge-like lawyer who objects to the town's public displays of Christianity.

3.5 stars - One of the first holiday movies we watched this season and one of the best. It was a very interesting look at religious freedom (or freedom from religion) versus the desire to celebrate a Christian Christmas celebration.

Crazy for Christmas
A single mother is forced to chauffeur a wealthy man around town on Christmas Eve while he gives away cash to strangers. When a reporter pursues the story, a new romance blossoms and the single mother learns the true meaning of Christmas.

3 stars - This was one of the more unique plot lines out of the bunch. The romance between the reporter and single mother didn't ring true but the relationship between the wealthy man and the single mother was cute.

Dear Santa
When she finds a letter mailed to Santa by a little girl asking for a new wife for her daddy for Christmas, twentysomething Crystal sets out to find the man and his charming daughter, hoping to make the girl's wish come true.

2.5 stars - A cute story about a ditzy rich girl who discovers that it means more to give than receive.

Holiday Engagement
Hilary's plan to hire a good-looking guy to act as her boyfriend backfires when she brings him home for the holidays to try and fool her family. The joke ends up being on her when the fauxmance invites real complications.

3 stars - Run of the mill rom-com. Cute but not memorable.

Holiday Favorites: Vol. 4
When a cigar-smoking Santa takes a break from his duties, playful toys emerge from their cheerfully wrapped boxes in "The Christmas Visitor," one of the six vintage Christmas cartoons and live-action shorts that make up this volume from the Holiday Favorites series. Other titles in the collection include "The Christmas Visit," "The Candle Maker," "The Night Before Christmas," "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" and "Christmas Journey."

3 stars - It seems odd to mention a cigar-smoking Santa Clause but I remember this animation from my childhood and loved it. It was a trip down memory lane to see the Santa take everyday items from an orphanage and create new delightful toys for the children.

Holiday in Handcuffs
When her boyfriend dumps her just before the holidays, aspiring artist Trudie desperately kidnaps a handsome stranger named David. Intending to present him as her new boyfriend at Christmas, she finds instead a genuine bond forming with her victim.

1 star - Terrible acting, terrible plot, unbelievable romance. I want my 90 minutes back!

Midnight Clear
Stephen Baldwin and K Callan star in this heartfelt tale about despair and the life-altering power of kindness. On Christmas Eve, five small-town residents face loneliness and suicide. But as their lives intersect, they find hope through one another.

3 stars - A depressing but surprisingly believable movie that only offers hope in the last ten minutes. The message that God can bring hope through the actions of a stranger is overpowered by the despair. The characters were depressed and had a reason to be. Not a very uplifting Christmas film.

The Polar Express
A young boy's faith in the holiday spirit is revived after he makes his way by train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve in this warm-hearted computer-animated tale inspired by Chris Van Allsburg's award-winning children's book.

2 stars - I'm curious why this movie was rated so high! We had high hopes but thought the character design was a bit creepy, that the movie is not very appropriate for young children (the scene with the train hobo slamming into the top of the tunnel and disintegrating into snow was disturbing), and the story was a hodgepodge of adventures with no real reason why these select children were chosen to ride the Polar Express. I was hoping a different character would be chosen for the first gift of Christmas! The one thing I enjoyed about it - the gorgeous backgrounds. The scenery was beautiful!

The Santa Clause
A bizarre twist of fate transforms a divorced dad into the new Santa.(Description from

4 stars - A nostalgic visit to a movie from my childhood.

Nick Snowden (Thomas Cavanagh) is next in line to take over the duties of Santa Claus. When the bumbling trainee loses his prized reindeer three days before Christmas, he undertakes a journey from the North Pole to California to bring it back.

3 stars - It sounds silly but it was actually a rather cute movie!

Snow 2: Brain Freeze
This sequel to the hit TV movie finds newly minted Santa Nick Snowden in trouble just days before Christmas. When a trip through a magic mirror leaves him with no memory, his wife, Sandy, tries to help him recover in time for his midnight ride.

2 stars - I should have known the sequel wouldn't be as good as the original!

With two months of mediocre holiday films, it was nice to watch our all time favorite Christmas movie yesterday.

My husband and I both love this movie. It's our tradition to watch it on Christmas day and this year was our third viewing of it. The movie teaches such wonderful life lessons about working hard, putting family and friends first, and staying true to your moral beliefs. Out of all the Christmas movies I've seen in my lifetime, It's a Wonderful Life is my top recommendation!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

My all-time favorite Christmas song...

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Slowly but surely!

On September 24, we bought a bed. Since then, we've been saving our money and waiting.



At 11:30am...

Our very empty living room

At noon...

Bruno wonders what has changed

"Is that for me?"

Our Aries cat claims it for his very own

We are very blessed! We finally have a couch and it was paid for with cash. I have to admit, it is hard to not be tempted to finance our furniture purchases. So far we've been able to purchase a bed, a folding table, folding chairs, an executive office chair for my husband's work at home job, and a couch. Not bad for six month of saving and shopping around. We're slowly furnishing our house and are avoiding debt.

God is so good!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In which we talk about... books.

A. Larry Ross Communications contacted me about reading and reviewing Midnight in Aisle 7 by Jay Lowder. I might have liked the book more if I hadn't read it immediately following A Big Life. When I finished reading A Big Life, I was hungry for more missionary stories. Midnight in Aisle 7 is about people meeting God in everyday places in everyday America.

I tried to like it but couldn't immerse myself in the book. I'm not familiar with the author and don't want to make any assumptions about his ministry or his spiritual life. But the book was disjointed and I couldn't really see how people were "experienc[ing] an encounter that brings significance to life" (from Amazon's book description). It felt more like the author had an idea for a book, realized that these types of stories sell well today, and threw something together. Each chapter was separate from the rest and read more like a short story or a written version of a story shared at prayer meeting. There wasn't anything remarkable about the book, unfortunately. I was really hoping to read something special but the book fell short.

The Fall into Reading challenge ends tomorrow. I have finished half of the books I set out to read. North and South is the only book I have completely finished. I am still working through The Brothers Karamazov, currently at page 571 of 776. I am determined to finish before Christmas! And I was never able to locate the Bill Clinton autobiography, despite searching several times. My library catalog shows they own it but I was unable to find it on the shelves. Even though I didn't finish everything on my list, I did push myself to read two books that I had been procrastinating!

I currently have 42 books checked out at the library with another two on hold. At the end of the year, I'm going to return everything and start over. It bothers me to no end to constantly feel like I'm "behind" with my reading because I have a number of books due back with not enough time to read them. As much as I love browsing the stacks and coming home with a HUGE number of books, I think I need to limit myself to only what I can actually read within the loan period. I visit the library almost every single week anyway so I can always pick up more books.

That's probably enough book talk for now. I have two more review books to read as soon as I'm done with The Brothers Karamazov. Then it's time to look forward to 2013 and all the reading it will hold!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So good to be home!

I am very glad to be home again. We've had a very busy December already and there are still two weeks left!

Two weeks ago, my husband flew to Michigan for three days to see his parents. They had a good but very rushed trip. I wish it would have been possible for him to stay longer, even though I was lonely at home without him.

This past weekend, Jeff and I flew down to Phoenix. Very early Sunday morning, we headed to the airport. When we landed, we were very quickly reminded of why we had left. Even though the weather was warm enough to just wear a sweater (as opposed to a sweater AND coat here in Seattle), Phoenix is so very brown. It was depressing.

Locale notwithstanding, we had a great trip. As soon as we landed, we picked up our rental car and headed over to my mom's house. We spent several hours playing games with her and then checked into our hotel. We primped a bit and then headed to my husband's company holiday party at Maggiano's Little Italy. The best part of the meal was the chocolate cake (From their website - chocolate cake layered with sambuca chocolate mousse, iced with chocolate frosting and dusted with cocoa powder). YUM!

On Monday, I spent the morning with my mom at her house. Then she dropped me off at Jeff's office where we went out for lunch with the boss and his wife. After lunch, we went to the Data Center and I got to see where the company's lifeblood is located. It was very cool! We dropped a coworker off at the airport, picked up a Redbox DVD to transfer from Phoenix to Seattle, and then went back to the airport ourselves. We ended up having an extra hour to kill so I got a lot of reading and knitting done.

The flight home was a bit turbulent but the ending made up for it. I thought we would fly into the airport from the south but we actually ended up far enough north that we flew over the Space Needle and the Pike Place Market ferris wheel. That looked awesome lit up at night and I wish I could have taken pictures of it.

Now we're back home and life can return to normal. We're determined to not travel more than 10 miles from home for at least a month!

My mom and I

Friday, December 14, 2012


I feel so old for saying this, but what is this world coming to? I don't usually follow the news; it's too depressing. But this morning I found out about the school shooting in Connecticut. What a tragedy. All those elementary aged children dead. Adults dead. And for what? Why?


I know that the Bible says that things will get worse before Jesus comes.

I know that Jesus IS going to come back and children will get a new chance at life, a much better life than they could ever hope for.

But why the heartache? Why the pointless killing? Why the wars? Why the pain? It hurts too much.

I want to do something. I want to help. I want to make something right. And all I know to do is pray. The affected families are across the country from me and there's nothing I can do for them. My heart aches.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2013 Reading to Know Book Club

Reading to Know

I'm so excited! Carrie at Reading to Know asked if I wanted to lead the discussions on one of the 2013 books! I had the opportunity to choose between adult classics and children's classics. My immediate thought was that I wanted to revisit Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. We're reading it next November!

Want to join the bookclub? You can pick and choose which months you want to read and there are some really awesome options. Here is the schedule!

January - Any title of your choosing by L.M. Montgomery
February - The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
March - Any title of your choosing by Maud Hart Lovelace
April - No Name, by Wilkie Collins
May - Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell
June - Through Gates of Splendor, by Elizabeth Elliot
July - The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
August - Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
September - The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
October - The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
November - Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
December - A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

I have grandiose plans of reading them all but we'll see how they fit into the schedule next year.

I hope you'll join us!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Auntie Times Three!

I am an auntie again!! Adam was born this afternoon. Isn't he gorgeous?

Welcome to the world, nephew!

Friday, December 7, 2012

My husband - the most important relationship

Reverb has another really good prompt today. I can't resist answering it.

Considering the idea that nothing lasts forever: what was the most important relationship that you fostered in 2012?

How will you continue to nurture it in 2013?

My husband is the love of my life. We've been married for over seven years and I am so incredibly grateful to God for bringing us together. The first couple years of our marriage were tough as I battled some old abandonment issues. But my husband meant what he said in our vows - he has stuck by me no matter what has happened.

This year, I spent over two months in Michigan helping my husband's parents. Before that trip, we had only been apart for a week. By the end of my stay in Michigan, I was desperate to get back to him. Even though I knew that I was needed in Michigan and happy to help, I missed my husband something fierce.

Every so often, I have to remind myself what it felt like to be apart. It's so easy to take my husband for granted because he works from home and we are around each other almost 24/7. Sometimes my selfish nature emerges and I want things my way. I can be short tempered and take advantage of my husband's very giving nature.

In 2013, I want to continue to deepen our relationship. I know that I have flaws, that human nature is to be selfish, but with God's help, I hope to become a better wife. I love my husband more than I could even think possible and want to be the best wife possible.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 - What have I learned?

Reverb has a really good prompt today.

Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

I've learned a lot this year, both in the form of new skills and about life and God's leading.

Here's a look back at what I've learned...

The importance of missionary work.

How to make a fantastic pizza sauce. So many people volunteered favorite recipes and we had a wonderful time testing them out.

That we have been financially blessed by God and have learned how to manage these blessings well enough to move across country and start buying furniture without credit. We also paid off our last credit card earlier this year.

While in Michigan, my mother-in-law taught me how to knit. I've started and completed several projects since March.

I have learned how to rely on God so much more than before. It's been a crazy year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and I spent nine weeks in Michigan helping the family. My husband was given permission to move his work from Arizona to Washington. Our male cat was traumatized from the move and had some serious issues that resulted in almost $1,000 in vet bills. In all of this, God has provided and guided and is teaching me how to trust Him regardless of what is going on around me.

I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Autumn leaves

I love fall! It's the perfect season. Not too hot; not too cold. It's the perfect weather for a knitting or quilting project, a good book, and a cup of hot cocoa.

We've had rain most of the day and I came home to find this on our front walkway.

It's one of the last leaves in front of our house. The trees are pretty bare now, but for a few weeks we enjoyed a tree full of red leaves. It was gorgeous!

A sneak peek at what I'm working on. Shhh... it's a Christmas present.

I know it's almost December but I want to hang on to fall just a little bit longer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Big Life - a book review

For the last several months, I've been trying to challenge myself when it comes to my reading choices. Too often I default to fluffy Christian novels and miss out on some really good deeper reads. When the opportunity arose to read and review A Big Life by Peter Hone, I jumped at the chance.

From the back of the book:
A Big Life: Ordinary People Led by an Extraordinary God tells the story of how thousands of believers, from suburban America to the jungles of the subcontinent of India, Pakistan, and beyond, were brought together in a phenomenal work of God.

No Christian was more ordinary than John Heerema, but he was obedient. God took him on an extraordinary, emotional, and often painful journey, shaping him to be a new kind of missionary on a new kind of mission. It was a simple strategy, a strategy not new after all, but ancient, because He had first shown it to us two thousand years ago.

The book shows how God can use ordinary people to reach other ordinary people with the gospel message. How? By sharing one on one, by training other ordinary people to share, and by spreading the message. These believers are using the model in Acts to reach thousands of people in India. This strategy enables the gospel to spread exponentially and is based on 2 Timothy 2:2.

"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

To be quite honest, I've been trying to review this book for a week. I keep sitting down to write the review but don't have the words to describe it. The power of the book is not in the writing style or the organization. I actually found some of it hard to follow because it was written from the perspective of three believers and changes every few pages.

In spite of its flaws, this book touched me in a deep way. I keep thinking about missionary work, about the book's description of one person dying every second without hearing about Christ. Every second! While I sit watching a 90 minute movie, 5,400 people die without ever hearing about my Lord. It's a staggering thought, extremely sobering.

What does that mean for me? How does that change my life? With the knowledge that so many people are dying without the opportunity to hear about Jesus, what am I doing with my life?

My husband does not feel the call to missionary work. Not everyone is called to be a missionary in another country. But that doesn't mean that we have no responsibility to spread the good news. If we're not called to be missionaries, what is our part to play? What can I do to make a difference, to look outside of myself and help spread hope?

I don't have the answers. I just know that A Big Life opened my eyes to something beyond myself, my local church, my community. Americans seem to know about God, to have the opportunity to choose or reject Him. But what about those who have not yet heard?

A. Larry Ross Communications sent this book for me to read and review. I give it a positive recommendation not because it was free but because it truly made me think, pray, and have some very long discussions with my husband.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday

I've been wanting to link up to WIP Wednesday for awhile! It was only recently that I purchased an iron and an ironing board and was thus able to return to my quilting. I've been alternating between knitting and quilting, enjoying my time with both. Quilting takes place when I have a large chunk of time availiable and knitting is done while watching tv.

My ironing station

What I'm currently working on...

Last night I finished this denim quilt top and now need to add the flannel backing.

I'm also starting a Christmas project. I am so happy to have an entire pile of fabric! Everything is washed, ironed, and ready to go.

And, of course, my kitty decided he had to help. "Fabric? I have to lay on it!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's on my nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

Most of November was spent finishing up the Bible in 90 Days. I finished, in chronological order:
  • John
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • Galatians
  • 1-2 Thessalonians
  • 1-2 Corinthians
  • Romans
  • Acts
  • Ephesians
  • Colossians
  • Philemon
  • Philippians
  • James
  • 1 Timothy
  • Titus
  • 2 Timothy
  • Hebrews
  • 2 Peter
  • 1-3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

All month long, I kept thinking I wasn't reading much outside of the Bible. But now, browsing through my Goodreads reviews, I realize that I finished way more than I thought. Links are to my full reviews.

Christian Fiction
  • The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden - 4 stars. Another great read by Camden. If she continues to publish great books, she'll make my short list of favorite authors.

Christian Nonfiction
  • Midnight in Aisle Seven: Sometimes God introduces Himself outside of church by Jay Lowder - 2 stars. I haven't finished the review yet but will this week.
  • A Big Life: Ordinary People Led by an Extraordinary God by Peter Hone - 4 stars. I am still working on the review for this book as well but I highly recommend it.

  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - 4 stars. A thorougly satisfying classic with great themes.

General Nonfiction
  • Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat's Behavior Problems by Pam Johnson - 3.5 stars.
  • Psycho Kitty? by Pam Johnson-Bennett - 4 stars. A fantastic cat book that helped us curb several behavioral issues in our four year old male.

Secular Fiction
Currently reading
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I was sure this was going to be a difficult book to read. It's taking me a long time to read but doesn't require nearly as much effort as I had expected.
  • Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett

Overall, it was a pretty good month. I can't wait to see what December brings!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things you might not know about me

Carrie over at Reading to Know suggested that we answer a few questions to get to know each other better. Sounds like fun!

1. Do you attend church and, if so, what denomination are you a part of?
I am a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, both born into and raised in the church. I was first baptised as a pre-teen and rebaptised shortly after my marriage. My husband and I do not attend church on a regular basis but are trying to be more faithful about attendance. We are still searching for a home church in the Seattle area, trying to find a group of believers who are excited about their faith and want to share it with others.

2. What social issue are you the most passionate about?
Religious liberty. I attend church on Sabbath (Saturday). This is one of the major differences between my denomination and most others. I believe people should be allowed to live according to their convictions and that the government has no business telling people how to live their lives. I will add a caveat that this freedom should never be allowed to infringe on the rights of others, thus the need for civil law.

3. How long have you been married? How many kids do you have, or want to have? Have you ever thought of adopting, or have you?
My husband and I have been married for seven years and have no children. Hopefully we will be blessed with children in the future but that is yet to be determined. Adoption is definitely an option.

My nephew and I

4. What is your greatest personality strength? Weakest?
Hmmm... I believe my strongest personality trait is the strength of my convictions. Sometimes it takes me awhile to determine what I believe is Truth and how God wants me to live. But once I figure it out, there's no looking back. On the flip side of this, I struggle most with being judgmental of others, mostly when I feel people are being hypocritical. But I don't know what God is doing in others' hearts and it's my job to love, not condemn.

5. What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
It changes all the time! Yesterday I was studying this passage:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19:1-3

I think it's amazing that God tells us about Himself through nature. There's beauty everywhere and it all testifies to what a powerful Creator we have.

6. Are you a bold and trendy dresser, or are clothes "not your thing?"
Somewhere inbetween. I want to be fashionable but modest, something that I find incredibly difficult to balance. Sometimes I end up looking frumpy because either my options are limited or I don't know enough about fashion to come up with my own look.

7. Are you a foodie? What makes you love food so?
I LOVE to eat, I love to cook, and I hate doing dishes. I grew up with a rather traditional American diet. My family ate a lot of pasta, hamburgers, meat loaf, etc. Nothing too out of the ordinary. Then I met my husband. He was shocked at how limited my palate was and decided to change that. He started introducing me to Chinese food, Thai, expensive chocolates, and a host of other things. All of a sudden the food world opened up to me and now I love trying different dishes.

Now that I've browsed through some of my food pictures, I'm getting hungry...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday


Last week had some successful meals and some not so successful meals.

The successful:
Sloppy Joes

The unsuccessful:
Veggie Red Curry

As far as the Veggie Red Curry is concerned, I think it's the red curry paste we don't like. The rest of the recipe was quite good. We're going to visit the Asian market next week and find a new curry paste to try.

This week's menu:

Pitas with hummus, spinach, tomatoes, and fresh basil
Avocado sandwiches
Leftover Thanksgiving

Homemade pizza
Breakfast burritos
Green Curry
Orange-glazed Tempeh (new recipe, didn't get to it last week)

I plan on posting my Sloppy Joe recipe this week. It's simple and really tasty!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A finish!

I finished knitting my kitty blanket! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to catch a photo of the cats actually laying on it.

Close up of the knitting

Here is Fiona checking it out right after I weaved in the ends.

Next up on the knitting queue - a Christmas present for my mom. I will be visiting Joann Fabric this weekend to purchase the needles I need. Thankfully I already ordered and have received the yarn!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday


We are officially back from vacation and I decided to kick off the week with a menu plan. I haven't joined this link up since January!

Morningstar Farms Vegetarian Riblets
Pitas with hummus, spinach, tomatoes, and fresh basil
Sloppy Joes
Avocado sandwiches

Spaghetti & Garlic Bread
Mexican pizza (new recipe)
Veggie Red Curry (new recipe)
Orange-glazed Tempeh (new recipe)

We are most excited about the Mexican pizza. It sounds really yummy! Hopefully I'll have some successful meals to report back about.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012


My husband is FINALLY on vacation after working 70-95 hour weeks for the past several months. Nine days of bliss and it's all comp time!

We have a few plans... exploring Seattle. A bit of shopping. A bit of eating out. And a whole lot of relaxing at home. Vacation!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

North and South

I finished the first title of my Fall Into Reading challenge!

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - 4 stars

Goodreads description - When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

One analysis I read said that North and South is an industrial Pride and Prejudice. Looking back on the story and the character development, I can definitely see that the comparison is valid. Margaret seems perfect but struggles with pride, believing that her way of life (the south) is better than that of Mr. Thornton's (the north). People look at Margaret's outward appearance and assume she is prideful and cold, not bothering to look beneath the surface.

I love that religion was an integrated part of Margaret's life, not something she was converted to or something that she only practiced on Sundays. She has to learn to lean on God instead of her own strength, especially as her life is turned upside down and she begins losing things and people dear to her.

  • To do the right thing no matter how hard.
  • To learn to walk in others' shoes.
  • To lean on God because your own strength is not enough.

Overall, I thought this was a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to tackle a thoroughly satisfying classic.

Next up - The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Posting Every Day?

I had meant to write a blog post every day this month, even though there were a few things going on like our anniversary, my husband's birthday, and my birthday. Plus, we're still progressing through the Bible in 90 Days reading schedule and that takes a good deal of time. Overall, I don't think I did too poorly with my posting. This will be post #22 in 30 days.

The past few days, I've been too busy living life to have time to blog about it. I've come to the realization that I spent too much time online and need to control that. I've cut out a number of my blog subscriptions, unsubscribed from a ton of email newsletters, and only check Facebook once a day.

I think the biggest change, though, is how I've been handling my email. I love emailing with people, reading their responses, and staying up to date with friends. However, my email takes up so much time every day because it's always open on my computer and I check it every time my email notification dings. Last week I read an article about how humans actually aren't very good multi-taskers and how this relates to our use of email. The author suggested that we schedule a set time once or twice a day to check email. Deal with it at those times and only deal with it once. Read it and then delete it or reply. If you need to reply later because the response will take time, file it away but schedule a time to write a lengthy reply.

I must say, since I've started doing this, my email time has dropped dramatically. It's so much easier to filter through junk mail once a day and delete/unsubscribe as necessary. It's a bit harder to respond right away, as I have a tendency to read emails and then respond a week later. But my attempts to get my inbox down to 0 messages is forcing me to write more timely responses. I think this will make me a better time manager as well as a better friend.

Of course, I've only been implementing this new habit for the past five days. We'll see how it pans out in the long term! But so far I've really been enjoy the newfound time. I've been using that time to catch up on some much overdue tasks, like organizing my recipe book and filtering through that never-ending pile of junk mail. Right now I only have two emails left in my inbox to respond to and that will happen tomorrow. The day is late and my brain is tiring. If I responded now, they would be less than satisfactory. Until tomorrow!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bible in 90 Days Update

I am currently three days behind schedule of the Bible in 90 Days reading plan. I have been consistently three days behind for the past week, each day completing a full day's reading but making little effort to catch up.

Today I finished reading the Old Testament! I started reading on August 20, so it's taken me just over two months. What a ride! I've done this once before but I forgot what a whirlwind it is to read the Bible in only three months.

I can't wait to dig into the New Testament. The reading schedule is going to involve a lot of flipping back and forth through the Gospels, since I'm reading through the chronological plan. I can't believe how many passages are included in each day's reading, most of them only a few verses each.

Even though I understand the benefit of reading the Bible this fast, I can't wait to finish so that I can spend some time studying something specific. I haven't decided what I need to study, but I want to really dig into a text and spend time learning as much as possible about God. Less than a month left!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthday present

Last night we went to Joann Fabric and picked out my birthday present. Both my mother and mother-in-law gave me some cash and it was burning a hole in my pocket. I really wanted to go fabric shopping but decided there was no point when I am still missing some vital quilting tools.

Instead, I picked up this beautiful rotary cutting mat.

Of course, my cat decided he needed to "help" with the cutting process.

I don't have a table large enough to cut on so I have to use the floor. Good enough for me!

This afternoon I cut out the remaining squares I need for my denim quilt. I want to add a second additional row to make it even longer, but the flannel backing I have isn't long enough to allow for that. Now I just have to figure out how to iron without an ironing board...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's on my Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

I'm still working through the Bible in 90 Days Chronological Reading Plan so my "other" reading has gone down a bit this month.

  • Jonah
  • Amos
  • Isaiah
  • Michah
  • Proverbs
  • Psalms
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Lamentations
  • Obadiah
  • Ezekiel
  • 2 Kings
  • Jeremiah
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Daniel
  • Haggai

As always, links are to my full reviews.

Christian Fiction
  • The Quilt by T. Davis Bunn, Davis Bunn - 4 stars. A heart warming story!
  • A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman - 1 star. For a book titled A Passion Most Pure, there is a lot of passion. Way too much for my taste. I cannot recommend it.

Christian Nonfiction
General Nonfiction
Secular Fiction
  • Time and Again by Jack Finney - 4 stars. Fantastic time travel story with NYC as the main character. I wish they'd turned it into a movie!

Currently Reading Last month I added three books to my list due to the Nightstand posts. I read two off my to-read list. Not bad! Of course, we'll see how many get added this month...

Happy reading!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pity Party - Want to Come?

Earlier this afternoon, I threw myself a pity party and invited my mother. She was sympathetic and let me cry for awhile. Then we started talking about listing our blessings. I told her I would write a blog post tonight and list some of mine...

  • My husband, who brought home a pizza tonight so that I wouldn't have to cook
  • The freedom to worship God
  • Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Pay Day!
  • A cat who hasn't sprayed since his neuter last week
  • Peppermint Mochas
  • A well-stocked library
  • Thirty years of life

I do have a lot to be thankful for. I suppose my pity party should be turned into a thanksgiving prayer meeting instead. Thank you, Mom, for reminding me to be more aware of the blessings God has bestowed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New colors!

I learned something new and I am really excited about it.

I learned how to add a second color of yarn! Way back when I used to crochet, I didn't know how to add a new skein or a new color of yarn. I just tied the two colors together and continued crocheting. This resulted in color changes in the middle of a row.

Thanks to the Mighty YouTube, I discovered a tutorial showing how to add a new color.

This opens up so many more options in my knitting. I can't wait to learn more!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So tired

Bruno has been letting us sleep all night since he came home from the veterinarian. It has been lovely! But for some reason, both hubby and I are really tired tonight. It's not even 6:30 but we're going to bed. We're going to read for a bit and then sleep. Hurray!

I was going to post about a new knitting technique I learned today, but oh well. There's always tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Organization and frugality - groceries

Today has been a fairly productive day. I ran out of yarn on my kitty blanket so I'm again without a knitting project! If hubby is able to get off work at five, we'll be visiting Joann's to buy more yarn and some knitting needles for a baby hat.

Kitty blanket - in progress

This morning, I went grocery shopping at Safeway and picked up most of our groceries for the week. We literally eat week to week at our house, running out of groceries at the end of each week. It's crazy!

I've been collecting receipts for the past six weeks and today I started my spreadsheet. We shop at Whole Foods, Safeway, the Asian market, the farmer's market, and occasionally, at Target and Trader Joe's. I'm compiling a list of all the staples - things like refried beans, pasta, jarred tomatoes for our pizza sauce, coconut milk, etc. Most of these stores carry the same products, so I'm recording which store has the lowest regular price for each item.

My plan is to take this list with me each week. When I see that something is on sale, I'm going to stock up. It's frustrating writing down the same basic shopping list. Since most of our meals are the same from week to week, I'd like to have two months of pantry ingredients on hand. And I'd much rather pay sale prices!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Good news!

I didn't post yesterday because it was my husband's birthday and our seventh wedding anniversary. Yes, on the same day. It was not intentional! We eloped and happened to have that day off work. But my husband likes to tease me and say that it's "all Cassandra, all the time." He says our anniversasry overrode his birthday. Plus, my birthday is only six days after his. We have all of our fun at the same time!

The vet called today with the results of Bruno's urinalysis. Everything was normal! So far, Bruno has been an angel, no marking. I know it's still too early to tell if it will be permanent, but I am cleaning like crazy to avoid him marking places he used to mark. Hopefully that will help. Our house is slowly starting to look less scary under the blacklight.

Not much else is going on. Since Bruno doesn't have to go back to the vet anytime soon, maybe we'll be able to afford an ironing board out of our next paycheck. Then I can start quilting again! Oh how I miss it.

Hub's is working so I'm going to reply to a few emails. Ta-ta!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sabbath rest

Today was a lovely day. It rained, sprinkled, misted, and rained some more. I'm not sure I'll still be saying this after several months in Washington, but I love this weather!

We stayed home today and relaxed, watching over Bruno to make sure he's ok after his surgery yesterday. One of the beautiful side effects of his pain medication is sleepiness. His sleepiness allowed us to sleep more than normal, since he wasn't trying to get us up at 4AM. I think I slept almost 11 hours straight last night and needed every minute of it.

I continued on the Bible in 90 Days reading plan. Today I read a large chunk of Ezekiel. I have some thoughts on this session but I'm not sure I'm ready to write a post about it. It's a lot of reading every day and I am looking forward to finishing. Then I can spend more time studying something in the Bible rather than racing through it.

And, this may be crazy, but I am contemplating participating in National Novel Writing Month. I haven't decided yet. It's next month and I won't be done with the Bible in 90 Days reading until right before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if I should add writing a novel in 30 days to my plate but I am tempted. Still pondering that one...

Well, I'm off to give Bruno his pain meds and then to read for a bit before bed. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cat Saga: Home Again

Image Source: Cheezburger

Bruno is back from the vet, a bit altered. My poor baby! He's shaved on both his front legs and at the surgery location. He's still groggy but the procedure defintely did not affect his appetite. How are we supposed to keep him from eating everything in the house?

Hopefully this helps his behavior. The vet said it could take a couple weeks before he stops marking. I guess we will deal with that if/when it becomes an issue.

In the meantime, I am waiting for a phone call from the vet on Monday. He said there were some concerning abnormalities in Bruno's urinalysis and he'll let me know what's going on once the full results are available. I will be praying all weekend for my beloved kitty.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cat saga continues

Today I called the veterinarian and asked when we could schedule Bruno for being neutered. They said tomorrow morning! We are supposed to drop him off at 8AM, no food or water after 10 tonight. I'm sure that will be fun, as Bruno is used to having his food dish available. We measure his food but he rarely polishes off the bowl before the next meal.

This afternoon, I drove over to PetsMart and picked up a black light. Boy oh boy. I have a lot of cleaning to do. If you want to believe your house is truly clean, don't buy a black light. Gross.

I really hope neutering him either eliminates or lowers his need to demonstrate inappropriate elimination. Another gross. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Why don't they stay this cute?

Cat Troubles

Even though it's technically Thursday... since I haven't gone to bed yet, this counts as Wednesday's post, right?

I'm wondering if anyone who reads my blog has experience with cats spraying. Our cat is getting neutered next week but we're struggling in the meantime. He sprays when he gets stressed or feels ignored. He gets plenty of one on one interaction with both of us but he's extremely clingy since he was hand raised.

I know we've got some training to do after he gets neutered. Right now, my issue is what to do when I can see that he's getting ready to mark something. Spray him with water? Distract him with a game? Ignore him? It seems anything I've tried results in a very temporary distraction and he's back to the initial marking attempt within 10 minutes.

He's not letting us sleep at night because he constantly wants attention. My husband is working on an intense project right now and has been up until three or four in the morning lately. So the cat is already really confused about when it's nighttime and when it's daytime. If I go to bed while Jeff is working, Bruno comes downstairs and makes noise or sprays until I get up. But if Jeff goes to bed and I get up to keep Bruno from making noise, he lets Jeff sleep. So frustrating!

I love this cat, won't get rid of him, but need to figure out a solution to the spraying. I have a feeling we'll be hiring a feline behaviorist for a consultation if neutering doesn't fix the issue entirely.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Experiencing Fall

In Arizona, fall means pumpkin lattes at Starbucks and pie pumpkins at the grocery store. That's about it! The temperatures don't start dropping until well into the season and the palm trees don't change color.

In Washington however, I'm starting to learn what fall really means.

Changing colors...

Lower temperatures...

And learning best how to stay warm...

I love fall!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

One Step Closer

I am one step closer to quilting! My wonderful husband bought me an iron. Woohoo!

And of course, since it has to do with quilting, one of my cats had to come check it out.

Now I just need a new rotary cutting mat and an ironing board. I cannot wait to get back to my quilt!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Teapot Vegetarian House

Recently, my husband assisted a coworker with a very challenging issue. As appreciation, the coworker sent us a gift card and told us to use it at our favorite restaurant. Well, we're still fairly new to Seattle so we've only tried a few places. We decided to make a second visit to the Teapot Vegetarian House. Last time we visited, I tried a Mandarin style tofu on rice that was fantastic and couldn't wait to taste other entrees.


"Traditional Northern Chinese dim-sum made of fresh diced vegetables and spices hand wrapped in an envelope of flour." - Yum, yum, yum!

My dinner - Stroganoff

"Our interpretation with nuggets of compressed mushroom blends to perfection with a savory creamy sauce of mushrooms and onions." - It was pretty good! I enjoyed their "beef" stroganoff over jasmine rice. I probably wouldn't order it again simply because there are so many other options to try!

Hubby's dinner - "Duck" Chow Mein

"Udon wheat noodles stir fried with "beef", "chicken" or "duck" mixed with seasonal vegetables in a savory brown sauce." - I did not like the "duck" as it was very thin and crunchy. But the chow mein and vegetables were good!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before we dove into the best part of dinner: dessert. We had their vegan cheesecake. "Our cheesecake, made from tofu and fresh fruits, is said to be the best our clients have ever tasted, even better than the real thing." Oh boy. My husband said it was the best cheesecake he's ever tasted, vegan or not. I thought it was incredible and very high on my list of favorite cheesecake. Tonight's cheesecake included mango and another berry I couldn't identify. I don't even like mangoes but I thought the whole thing was absolutely delish. It's worth going back just for dessert!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pizza night!

Saturday night is traditionally pizza and a movie night. We've been trying various pizza sauce recipes that people were kind enough to leave on my fabric giveaway post. We found the perfect sauce!

Pizza before baking

1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup onion
4-5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups tomatoes (from a jar, NOT a can)
3/4 t. oregano
1/8 t. salt

1. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet.
2. Add onion. Cook until almost translucent.
3. Add garlic. Cook until lightly browned.
4. Add tomatoes, oregano, and salt.
5. Simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Baked pizza

Tonight's pizza has mushrooms, fresh basil, and Daiya "cheese" on top. It was really, really good.

The movie? Not as good. We watched The Day After Tomorrow as my husband hadn't seen it. In his opinion, and mine, 2012 was much better.