Thursday, January 20, 2022

{ Her Secret War by Pam Lecky - TLC Book Tour }

• Publisher: Avon (January 4, 2022)
• Paperback: 384 pages

A life-changing moment

May 1941: German bombs drop on Dublin taking Sarah Gillespie’s family and home. Days later, the man she loves leaves Ireland to enlist.

A heart-breaking choice

With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah seeks refuge with relatives in England. But before long, her father’s dark past threatens to catch up with her.

A dangerous mission

Sarah is asked to prove her loyalty to Britain through a special mission. Her courage could save lives. But it could also come at the cost of her own…

A gripping story that explores a deadly tangle of love and espionage in war-torn Britain, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn and Kate Furnivall.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency. From an early age, Pam had a particular fascination with all things historical, from food and clothes to architecture and social history. Patiently awaiting the invention of time travel, she must be content with giving her novels a historical setting instead.

Find more about Pam on her website and Instagram.

This was my first ever read of Pam Lecky and wow she did not disappoint.  Historical fiction aside, which by the way is my favorite, Pam Lecky tells such a vivid tale of war torn Britain that will leave all the history enthusiasts longing for more.

Her Secret War follows the life of Sarah Gillespie.  She is in her home in Dublin, Ireland, when a bomb is dropped sending the whole country into disarray.  The german bombs decimate her home.  She really only has her love interest left, but he too is taken from her when he decides to enlist to fight for Britain in the war.

Sarah is left alone, not knowing what to do but feeling a tug at her heart, to jump in and help with the way, in any way she can.  She makes the decision to head to England and to do whatever she is able to, to help Britain in the war effort.

Unfortunately things don't quite go as she had planned, when her duty and loyalty is called into question.  Seems her father had quite a dark past that none were aware of and his political views and opinions, may just put her life at risk.  She is approached and asked to gather information on a possible German spy.

I wasn't quite sure how this would play out, Sarah has a bit of a temper to put it mildly, and she is not exactly the kind of girl I would see tasked with such an important matter, but I do end up enjoying her character as the story develops.  

There is action and moments of fear, but also some romance thrown in too.  All I know is that by the end of the book, I wanted it to continue.  I wanted more, and wasn't quite ready to turn the last page.

Luckily for me and many others who enjoyed Her Secret War, Pam Lecky is already working on the next called Her Last Betrayal.  I am really looking forward to that reading that one too, and I'm hoping we get to see more of Sarah in it as well.

Thank you TLC Book Tours and Avon for providing me with a copy of for review.

{ Count it all worship }


Good morning sweet friends. How are you all doing? 
First can we just talk about how cold it's been?  I am currently sitting on my bed, under a warm blanket, and listening to the wind blowing outside.  The temperature is 20 degrees, the real feel however?  5 degrees!!!
I can't complain too much because some of you have had some crazy snow storms, blow into your area.  Sure hope you're staying warm and cozy.
It's been a while.  The past 3 weeks I've just been posting the Happy Homemaker Monday and then nothing else.  It's what I've been able to do.  Thankfully, Curt and I are finally turning the corner, and are basically 90% better.  Still some lingering congestion, and some lingering coughs as the sickness works its way out.  For me, I have the added wind storms which kick up the asthma as you know, so it takes a little longer than usual.


Many of you asked if we had been tested for Covid, and yes we did and no we didn't have Covid, just a the flu that is going around.  Our sense of taste and smell has already returned, thank the good Lord.  For a girl that loves her coffee and her food, that is one of the most annoying symptoms right?
Thank you all for the prayers, they did help and I'm sure they played a big part in our recovery.
So what have I been up to the past 3 weeks?  
Well, reading, a lot of reading.  I finished my two books for the month of January, which I'm so proud of myself for doing.  I love reading but there are years I tend to get into a funk and not read as much, actually find it so hard to sit and read.  But, I seem to have that mojo back and I'm fully taking advantage of it.

I've read Sold on a Monday and Lilac Girls, both really good.  I am not on my third book which is March by Geraldine Brooks.

I just realized as well I never told you my list of books, which ones I am reading in what order, so I'm going to do that right now.

I promised myself I wouldn't change any of the books, but then I kind of broke that promise because I know myself, and I know that if I force a book that I really don't want to read, I will just set it aside and next thing I know, months will go by without reading.

So, what did I do, I simply removed the one non fiction book I had on the list, and replaced it with a fiction one.  I am not in a non fiction mood, and those are usually harder for me to get into, I have to really be in the mood.   My list is now, just fully fiction.


I just wrote down 24 numbers and then put them all in a bowl and pulled one at a time. I had written down the books I had in order on a piece of paper, and as I pulled the numbers, I pulled the corresponding book. 
Here's my 24 books for 2022.  Also keep in mind, again, that these are my own books, I'm not adding in any of the review books that will come in throughout the year.  Those will be separate.
#1  Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris
#2  Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
#3  March by Geraldine Brooks 
#4  Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (I just realized two Geraldine Brooks one after the other lol)
#5  The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
#6  Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
#7  The Tale of Hilltop Farm by Susan Wittig Albert
#8  The Factory Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes
#9  One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
#10  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
#11  Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
#12 Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory
#13  Prayers for sale by Sandra Dallas
#14  The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella
#15  October Song by Beverly Lewis
#16  Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
#17  Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar
#18  Tidelands by Phillipa Gregory
#19  The King's Witch by Tracy Borman
#20  The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
#21  The Pioneers by David McCullough
#22  The Two Princesses of Bamarre Gail Carson Levine
#23  The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
#24  The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick
I've striked through the two I've already read.  You've read any of these yourself, let me know what you thought.

I've also been cooking a lot, especially meals from my childhood.  Even on those days that I was the sickest, I still made my way to the kitchen and got a meal on the table.  It wasn't easy, there was actually one day that I was in so much pain physically, that I cried my eyes through the dinner prep, but I thanked God all along that I still cooked for my family.

I always find that it's those special home cooked meals, that are most appreciated and also the ones that seem to make you feel better.
I haven't been watching as much TV as I used to, but I'm still squeezing in some favorite shows and youtube videos.  1883 has become my favorite at the moment, it's is beyond what I would expect it to be.  I've always been very vocal about how I feel that England seems to make all the good historical period series and movies, and I wish America would too.

When 1883 came out, I was hopeful but wasn't really expecting much.  I am so glad I was proved wrong.  It is a fantastic show and I'm learning quite a bit about the wagon trains and the things that happened during those difficult drives.  

Through these past 3 weeks, I have also learned to count everything I do as worship.  

It's easy to get caught in the moment, to feel so incredibly sick and to not think of anything that we do, as worship.  But it all counts.  If it's done to honor God, to think of Him, to praise Him, it is worship and He absolutely loves every minute of it.

The housework, the cooking and cleaning, the mountains of endless laundry.  Whether you are singing a praise song, saying a prayer, reading a devotional or the Bible, or cleaning a toilet, it is all worship, every part of it.  Now it may seem a bit strange to say that, but just remember that the work we are given as homemakers, is given to us by the Lord.

So I think of everything I do as giving it back to Him.  He charged me with being a homemaker, and that includes everything that is contained within these four walls.  So whatever we do, with do with joy and all for His glory.  Does that make sense?

Just wanted to share that with you all.  I love sharing what I learn or what I experience on this journey of life we're all on.

I don't have a lot planned for today, it is cold, dreary, windy which means I have to stay indoors as much as possible, so I don't aggravate my lungs.  I will however work on a book review that needs to go up today, plus one for tomorrow.  Actually made some licqueur which I'm quite excited to try and share with you all.
I have 3 books I need to get to the post office and mail off, they were requested from my paperbackswap, but I'll wait until tomorrow and then get all my errands done in one day.

Taking Jasmine to work (yes she's still practicing driving, but hasn't been able to much lately with my car constantly breaking down), grocery pick up at Walmart, and post office, is on the agenda for tomorrow morning.  

In the meantime, I am watching a show on Amazon Prime, called America's Hidden Stories.  It is quite good and each episode is about a certain period of time in the USA, or covering a well known iconic historic moments in this country.  

Episode 1 was about the Salem Witches, the second episode was about the target and attempted assassination of Jefferson Davis who was the President of the Confederate States between 1861 and 1865.

The current episode I'm watching, Episode 3 is about the Spanish Flu of 1918, which is quite interesting for the day and time we find ourselves in.  

And that my friends is basically what I've been up to the past 3 weeks.  I'm just thankful that I'm turning the corner and feeling much better.  I am definitely ready to get back to normal day to day life.

The rest of the day I will be reading my book....this one below:

For lunch, I have leftover chili from last night which I'm very much looking forward to.  Dinner will be Bacon Spaghetti, with some veggies and homemade garlic bread.

I still need to sit and read my Bible for today, I need to read Genesis 19 and 20, and also do my devotional for this morning as well.

I sure hope you're all doing well, staying warm and healthy.  Oh, I'll come by and visit the Happy Homemaker Mondays from this week, sometimes this afternoon.

For now, I am out of here, need to go fold some laundry and do a quick pick up in the living room and dining room.

Have a wonderful rest of Thursday.

Monday, January 17, 2022

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 01/17/2021

Good morning everyone, and welcome back to my little blog.
Well after typing up this post last week, and telling you that I was pretty much done with my cold, I took a nose dive.  All thanks to my husband getting sick, and since I was not yet 100%, it hit me again and knocked me on my toosh.
This past week has been quite bad for us both, and thankfully today we are starting to come out the other side, but I still can't smell or taste completely.  Doesn't help that everyone around here seems to be sick as well.  If you're down with this cold/flu, my prayers go out to you as well.  Hope you start feeling better soon.  
Right, let's get on with today's post.  I'm sorry it's going up a little later than usual.

:::: The Weather ::::
Pretty cold this morning at only 20 degrees, though we do expect to go up to 64.   Seems a bit of a cooler week coming up.   
:::: How I am feeling this morning ::::
I'm ok, thankfully feeling much better.  I am a bit tired, as Elliott barged into the bedroom at 430am and didn't want to let me sleep the rest of the night. 
:::: On the breakfast plate ::::
I am having a cup of coffee and some homemade artisan bread, with a slather of butter.   
:::: On my reading pile :::: 
I said I wouldn't change any of the books around on my reading list for this year, but I had to.  I decided to remove Having a Mary heart in a Martha world, and set it in my non fiction pile instead.  I am in the mood for fictional and if I force myself through this one, I'll just not want to read at all.
I just moved this one out of my 2022 book goal list, and substituted in a different one.  So, I've moved on to the next on the list, which is Lilac Girls.

:::: On my TV ::::
Last weekend, the family and I watched Encanto.  It was such a sweet movie.  Today we are hoping to sit down and watch The Eternals as a family as well.  With such busy schedules, we've been trying to do family movie days, when everyone is home.  
I've also been watching 1883, matter of fact just watched the new episode yesterday and cried my eyes out.  My goodness, what a good show, but ugh, I was not expecting what happened yesterday.
Still watching my two Portuguese soaps, Quero e Viver and Para Sempre.
Also as usual, been watching some true crime channels on Youtube as well as homemaking vlogs.

:::: On the menu this week ::::
We've been enjoying the Portuguese meals I've been making, there's something so comforting about home cooked meals, especially those that you grew up eating yourself.  
I do have to start working on the next meal plan this week, not really sure what to add on there, I seem to be drawing a bit of a blank, but I want to use what is in my pantry and freezer, so will be going through those first to see what I can come up with.   

Monday - Galinha de Fricasse (chicken fricassee), Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Tuesday - Tiras de carne (beef strips), Buttered Rice, Fried Okra
Wednesday - Arroz de Salsicha (sausage rice)
Thursday - Pumpkin Soup, Grilled Cheese and Ham sandwiches
Friday -  *grocery shopping*
:::: From the camera ::::
Super yummy creamy bratwurst, that I made last week.  It was one of the family's favorite meals.  The recipe is up on the food blog, if you want to check it out.  

:::: Looking around the house ::::
Elliott was playing earlier, so there are foil balls all strewn throughout the living room.  I need to pick those up and place them back in his toy basket.
There is a blanket on the couch that needs folding up and the pillows also need fluffing and setting back up on the couch.  In the kitchen, there are a few dishes in the sink that need to be moved to the dishwasher and I need to give the floor a quick sweep.
::::  To do List ::::
♥ Kitchen - dishes and sweeping
♥ Start working on menu
♥ Take out chicken for dinner

:::: Today's devotional :::: 
I'm again taking today's quote from the New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. 

To think today, when your life doesn't work as planned, that it's out of control is to forget that Jesus reigns for your sake and his glory.

Friday, January 14, 2022

{ Big Mountain Foods Recipe Contest - Cauli Crumble and Cheese Rangoons with Onion Chutney }

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Big Mountain Foods. All opinions and recipe included are my own.  


Our Story:

Big Mountain Foods has been proudly family-owned since 1987. Our Mission is to make food that we would proudly serve our own family. In other words, real food that tastes good. Food with no additives, no subsitutes and no names that you cannot pronounce. That is, unless your mouth is full. Which we guarantee it will be once you make a meal of our veggie patties, veggie links, bites and crumbles.
Big Mountain Food products are all certified vegan, gluten free, soy free, cruelty free, certified kosher, nut free, common allergen free, dairy free, non-gmo verified, women owned company, keto friendly and made in Canada.

For more information, or to check out the products available, you can head to their website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

I was sent a few products to try:

But they have many others that are sure to be a hit with your family. 

I want to start by saying, I am not Vegan, my family is not Vegan, but we love food and we love trying out new products.  I have been wanting to steer away from meat a bit more and delve a little deeper into some Vegan recipes, and this was the perfect way to kick that off.
For someone who is used to meat, the thought of a product that is supposed to be like meat but is plant based, is quite fascinating and very intriguing to say the least.  I don't know how that is possible, but I am willing to try and give you my honest and humble opinion.
I will be trying the rest of the products over the next few days, and will let you know what I think.  Really, my plan was to try them over the holidays but there was so much going on, and then sickness hit our house and we are still trying to get over this second bout.  

So for my recipe, I wanted to create something for the holidays, a quick appetizer that I could throw together and that everyone would enjoy.  Of course the holidays are gone, but there are still plenty of get togethers coming up through the year, and I really think this is a great appetizer to serve to your family and friends.

One of our family's favorite appetizers, are rangoons, whether cream cheese or crab.  Of course cream cheese is a dairy product and not vegan, but I still wanted to create something similar.  A delicious bite of dough with a yummy filling dipped in some sweet chili sauce.

I raided my fridge and pantry, and quickly realized that though I had what I needed to throw these together, they weren't vegan products, so I made a trip to the store to remedy that issue.

What I came up with, are the delicious Cauli Crumble and Cheese Rangoons with Onion Chutney.  SO GOOD!!!!

Cauli Crumble and Cheese Rangoons with Onion Chutney

1 pack Vegan Wonton Wrappers
Vegan Cream Cheese
Onion Chutney
Sweet Chili Sauce for serving, dipping

These couldn't be easier to throw together.  Cut the wonton wrappers into squares.  If you have the rectangle pack, slice them in half, if you have the big square pack, cut wrappers into fourths.

In a skillet, warm up the veggie ground, turn off heat and add the vegan cream cheese.  Stir well to combine.

In the middle of each square of wrapper, place one teaspoon of the veggie ground and cheese mixture, and then top with a bit of onion chutney.   

Dab a little water on the edges of the wrapper, then bring up two sides and seal, then bring the other two sides opposite to each other, to create a little pouch.  

Place on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil.  

You can fry them at this point, but I wanted to keep them light, so I gave them a quick spritz of olive oil to help with browning, then baked them in a 375 F oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with sweet chili sauce.

These turned out so delicious.  My 22 and 18 year old, devoured them.  

I have to say the Cauli Crumble Veggie Ground on it's own, is absolutely delicious.  It completely blew my mind just how delicious it was, but when you add in the vegan cheese and the onion chutney, it takes it to a whole new level.

They are seriously addictive and dangerous, I could eat the whole shebang on my own.  

Thank you again to Big Mountain Foods for providing me with these delicious Vegan products.  They may have just set me on a whole new journey, eating healthier food.


Monday, January 10, 2022

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 01/10/2022 }

Good morning dear friends, come on in out of the cold.  It is a bitterly cold morning, 20 degrees and the real feel is just  15.  Sure cuts to the bones doesn't it?
Well, it is Monday morning, a start to a new week, and I just realized that last week, the only post I managed to get up was this one.  Goodness!!!  I don't know why the week got away from me.
The colds seemed to be making their rounds, I'm pretty much done with mine, except for the lingering cough which doesn't get a chance to get better with the high winds we've been having.  They kick up my asthma and it's just a vicious circle that never seems to end.  
Anyway, it's life and it's normal for this time of the year.  The weather certainly doesn't help, we had 20 degrees two days ago, and then the next day the high was 80.  How?  Why? Crazy!!!!

I enjoyed visiting you all last week, and I can't wait to go by again today and say hi, and see what you're all getting up to.  
Have a blessed week my friends!!! 

:::: The Weather ::::
A bit of a cooler week, at least there doesn't seem to be many flip flopping days from cold to hot and back.  

:::: How I am feeling this morning ::::
My chest feels a bit tight and I have the little cough going on, but I've already taken my allergy pills.  I take Singulair for asthma, which is induced by the allergies.  *sigh* 
:::: On the breakfast plate ::::
All I've had so far is coffee, however, I will be making some Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats soon. 
:::: On my reading pile :::: 
I am now reading Having a Mary heart in a Martha world by Joanna Weaver.  I've already read one book so far this January, it was called Sold on a Monday and it was really good, read it in two hours. 

:::: On my TV ::::
I am loving, and I mean LOVING the new 1883 show, on Paramount.  I don't usually have that channel, but I do have Amazon Prime, and I got the 30 day trial, with the 99c for two months after, deal.  I normally wouldn't do it, but this is such a good show, and well worth subscribing for.
Aside from 1883, I've started watching Yellowstone, since the shows are connected.
I am also watching 2 Portuguese Soaps, Quero e Viver and Para Sempre.  And that is basically all the television I am wasting any time watching.  The rest of my time, I've been reading.  

:::: On the menu this week ::::
The next two weeks, I am making primarily Portuguese meals.  I've been craving my food, my heritage, the meals I remember eating in Portugal.  Most of the recipes are already on the blog, and those that aren't, I'll be taking pictures so that I can get the recipes up. 

Monday - Pasteis de Massa Tenra, Salad (I have some leftover sausages that I'll be using)
Wednesday - Frango Estufado com Espargete (Skillet Chicken and Spaghetti)
Thursday - Almondegas da Bio, Batata Frita, Salada (Greatgrandma's Meatballs and fries)
FridayGalinha com cenoura e Arroz (Dad's Favorite Chicken)
:::: From the camera ::::
Every Christmas, we get a real tree.  When it's time to get rid of it, I always cut some of it's branches and place them in a mason jar and label it.  It's something the kids started doing when they were still little, I actually have a jar from 2012.  It's just so much fun to keep and it's amazing how they still smell like pine after all these years. 

:::: Looking around the house ::::
I need to carpet clean, yet again.  I wish I could convince my husband to get rid of the carpet in the dining area/den, because it's a high traffic area and I just can't keep it clean.  Looking at it, you would think it never gets washed.  It's frustrating to me as a homemaker.  
I opened my back door for a few minutes this morning, just to let in some fresh air, but that was about 3 minutes before I closed it again since it's so cold.  
The curtains have been opened however, and the sun is streaming the most beautiful rays, through the windows.
::::  To do List ::::
♥ Laundry - remove the last load from the dryer, fold, and put away
♥ Take my car for a drive - started giving me issues on Friday and it turns out, it was almost empty on the coolant.  I keep an eye on these things, but it had just been to the dealership to get repaired, and I figured they would have checked it as well.  Guess not.
♥ Fix bathroom wall - our master bathroom has a half wall between the tub and toilet.  Since we've moved in, there is an area that gets wet from the shower, and has been falling apart.  We've fixed it a couple times but it continues to deteriorate.  We need to patch it again today.
♥ Make some French Bread rolls

:::: Something fun to share ::::
I was thinking this morning about how much I miss the feature I used to have, many years ago, called The Greatest Places on Earth.  
I used to share a beautiful place somewhere on earth, and even shared a recipe from that area.  It was so much fun, and I had quite a few homeschooling moms and littles following along.
I would love to bring that back to the blog, however, I know that at the moment, I am not very good with keeping up with anything on the blog, so I won't even attempt to do that.  But, I can certainly show some of these amazing places, here on our Happy Homemaker Monday.  
So, this morning, I actually want to share with you a place that I visited on a school trip in Portugal.  We traveled from Povoa de Santa Iria (where we lived), to Evora, which is about an hour and 20 minutes.  

They took us to visit the Capela dos Osso which in English is the Chapel of Bones.  I was fascinated and a bit scared to be honest, I was only 5 years old so this was quite intimidating  Hahaha

The Capela dos Ossos was built in the seventeenth century by three Franciscan friars, a building that used to be a dormitory and a reflection room for them. The idea was to create a space for reflection that would convey the ephemerality of human life and, at the same time, to free some space occupied by the cemeteries in the city. This was a creative solution, but at the same time, very sinister!
 They decided to remove the skeletons from the earth and give them a new home, the Chapel of Bones, which was then decorated by various skeletons. There are probably more than 5000 human skulls arranged by the walls, columns, and the ceiling of this building. But let's focus on the message we found before entering this chapel. 
 - Source Living Tours

If you want to see more of the chapel or read more about it's history, you can head on over to Wikipedia or just google the chapel.  There is a ton of pictures and interesting information.  

:::: Today's devotional :::: 
Today's devotional comes from the New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.  A short sentence but it makes you stop and think of just how truthful it is.
The DNA of joy is thankfulness.  Have you noticed that entitled, complaining people don't happen to be very joyful?
Wow!!!  Short but to the point.  The author also tells us to read Psalm 107 to go along with this message, so I'll be doing that shortly. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 01/03/2022 }

 Good morning, good morning, good morning sweet friends.  

Welcome to the very first Happy Homemaker Monday of 2022.  I feel strange saying that, but also quite happy to be leaving both 2021 and 2020 behind.  Honestly, they were both so difficult for us all, and many like us suffered tremendous loss, but I have to also say that the growth I went through as a woman, as an individual and most importantly, as a Christian, has been phenomenal.  So I'm thankful for that!

As we go into the new year, many like resolutions and *WORDS*.  I don't, never did make resolutions, did try a word for the year and didn't always follow through.  So, I'm not picking a word or a resolution, but rather  I would really love to be more like my ancestors.

I want to learn new skills (new to me, old from the past), I want to sharpen old ones, I want to continue thriving for a simpler life, I want to cook more homemade food, listen to older music and read a ton of books. 

If anything the past two years have taught me, is to stop relying so much on others, and to rely more on my Lord and the tools and skills He has equipped us with.

My wish for you all, is that you have an incredibly blessed and abundant 2022.  I decree and declare peace, love, favor and blessings over your finances, your health, your homes and your families.  

Now, let's get our first Happy Homemaker Monday off the ground...... I even made a new graphic to start off the year.  Hope you enjoy!

:::: The Weather ::::
This weekend our temperatures plummeted down to the teens, and brought us a snow storm.  It is still pretty cold at the moment, only 22 degrees, with a high of 54.  We are looking at a cooler week, with a pretty cold day on Thursday again, guess we are finally seeing Winter weather here in Texas.

:::: How I am feeling this morning ::::
Still fighting the cold I had, still have a lingering cough which gets worse and kicks off my asthma from the allergies.  Woke up with a lot of sinus pressure, to the point where my eyes hurt when I look up or to the side.  So sick of being sick and it doesn't help that the weather is all over the place.
:::: On the breakfast plate ::::
I just had a cup of coffee about an hour ago, but haven't eaten anything.  Starting today I am watching my weight, easing back into exercising and really focusing on what I put into my body.
:::: On my reading pile :::: 
I shared my reading list for 2022, in the post just below this one.  If you're interested in what I plan to read, or maybe you're looking for some new books yourself, go on and give it a read.

:::: On my TV ::::
I am hoping to cut back a bit on TV viewing this year and rather get more reading done.  I doubt I'll give up television completely because I do enjoy watching vlogs and there are quite a few period series and movies coming out that I want to watch.  Rather, instead of just watching TV, I am trying to organize my day so that I get reading in as well.

Currently I'm watching 1883 on Paramount, which is absolutely fantastic.  I didn't know Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were such good actors, and the show itself is just wonderful, especially for those of us who enjoy shows set in the past.

Also watching vlogs and lately I've really gotten into book vlogs, book hauls, recommendations and so on.

:::: On the menu this week ::::
I need to work on the new meal plan throughout the week, so that I can get groceries on Friday.  Lately, I've been craving Portuguese food, and I think the new plan will be mostly centered around some of our favorites from home.

Monday - Sausages in a cream sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies
Tuesday - Garlic Black Pepper Chicken, Basmati Rice
Wednesday - Pork Roast, Garlic Spaghetti, Salad
Thursday - Sausage and Potatoes Skillet, Fried Okra
Friday -  *Grocery Shopping*
:::: From the camera ::::
Jasmine got Elliott this window seat, for Christmas.  He absolutely loves it.  He loves laying in the sun, watching the birds and the deer outside the window and just getting some good naps in.

:::: Looking around the house ::::
The sun is streaming in through the big windows in the living room.  I opened the back door for just a few minutes to get fresh air in, but it's quite cold so closed it again.
There are some dishes in the sink from last night, that couldn't fit in the dishwasher, just a pot that is soaking and a serving dish.
::::  To do List ::::
I don't know what I'll get to today, but hopefully I'll be taking some pics for a Day in the Life blog post.  Other than that, the usual homemaking.
♥ Laundry
♥ Dust
♥ Meeting my great nephew Dalton today, and taking some photos
♥ Clear out my emails, reply, delete and so forth
♥ Plan out my review and recipes for upcoming blog challenge

:::: Something fun to share ::::
This morning I am bringing you a pretty short video, but I just wanted to share with you all.  I think it's important to remember just how easy we have it nowadays, and yet we still find time to complain about a particularly busy day, having to prepare a meal, or head to the grocery store to pick something up.
Sometimes, all we need is a reminder that we have it quite good.....though I will admit, I would still rather live back in these days than in today's day and age.  Just my preference.

:::: Today's devotional :::: 
I just started a new devotional book by Paul David Tripp, it is the one I showed in my Christmas gifts post.  I've had many devotionals over the years, but I am loving this new one.  It is so good, soooooo good.  It's called New Morning Mercies.  I thought I would share a little of it today for you all.

Think about this:  if God has already granted you a place in eternity, then he has also granted you all the grace you need along the way, or you'd never get there.  There is grace for our fickle and easily distracted hearts.  There is rescue for our self-absorption and lack of focus.  The God of eternity grants you his eternal grace so that you can live with eternity in view.

Wow!!!  I read that and immediately regretted all the times I sit and worry about how I'm going to get through my day, how to deal with trials and tests, or how to get through this broken world.  The answer is and always has been God's grace, and he freely gives it to us.  Sure puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 02, 2022

{ Reading List for 2022 - 24 books from my TBR pile }

It is that time of the year.  We look at our bookshelves and see shelf upon shelf, filled with books of every genre, color and size.  
There are worlds awaiting us, stories of all sorts written upon pages and pages.  I often imagine the words just sitting there, quiet, waiting, as if behind a curtain listening for the call to spring forward and start the show.  Then you open the book and it comes to life in your hands.

To some, a book is just a book.  To me, it is a world of possibilities, of endless adventures, of learning and reaching places we never thought we would.  That is how much I love books.

But having the time to read them is sometimes a bit rough.  With all the book reviews I do during the year, I tend to give those priority which doesn't leave me much time to go through my own.  I am hoping that this year, I do more reading than tv watching, so I'm going to try very hard to spend more time in my books than in front of the television.
I have set myself a goal of 24 books for this year, 2 a month.  I don't quite know yet how many review books I'll get in, but I think it shouldn't be a problem, although I am not putting the pressure on myself to finish this goal.  If I read them all, great, if I don't, that's fine too.
So, without further ado, let me show you my picks for this year......I don't know which one I'm reading first, because I can't seem to decide.  What I'm going to do is put them all in a pile, and number them from 1 to 24, then I'm going to throw all the numbers in a bowl, and start pulling one at a time.
I hope that makes sense.   Just think it will help me decide because I can't seem to, they're all so good and I can't wait to read each one, which makes it really hard to pick.

Ok, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and get comfortable, we have a ton of amazing books about to flood our computer screens.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The two princesses of Bamarre couldn't be more different. Princess Addie is fearful and shy. Her deepest wish is for safety. Princess Meryl is bold and brave. Her deepest wish is to save the kingdom of Bamarre. They are sisters, and they mean the world to each other.
Then disaster strikes, and Addie—terrified and unprepared—sets out on a perilous quest. In her path are monsters of Bamarre: ogres, specters, gryphons, and dragons.
Addie must battle them, but time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and Barmarre's fate—hang in the balance.

March by Geraldine Brooks
Acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks gives us the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN - and conjures a world of brutality, stubborn courage and transcendent love. An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured. A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.  

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows is a classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.

Prayers for sale by Sandra Dallas

Hennie Comfort is eighty-six and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado since before it was Colorado. Nit Spindle is just seventeen and newly married. She and her husband have just moved to the high country in search of work. It's 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country and Nit and her husband have suffered greatly. Hennie notices the young woman loitering near the old sign outside of her house that promises "Prayers For Sale". Hennie doesn't sell prayers, never has, but there's something about the young woman that she's drawn to. The harsh conditions of life that each have endured create an instant bond and an unlikely friendship is formed, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed. 
The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
This debut novel is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock. During the Civil War's Battle of Franklin, a five-hour bloodbath with 9,200 casualties, McGavock's home was turned into a field hospital where four generals died. For 40 years she tended the private cemetery on her property where more than 1,000 were laid to rest.  

One Thousand White Women:  The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women begins with May Dodd’s journey into an unknown world. Having been committed to an insane asylum by her blue-blood family for the crime of loving a man beneath her station, May finds that her only hope for freedom and redemption is to participate in a secret government program whereby women from “civilized” society become the brides of Cheyenne warriors. What follows is a series of breathtaking adventures—May’s brief, passionate romance with the gallant young army captain John Bourke; her marriage to the great chief Little Wolf; and her conflict of being caught between loving two men and living two completely different lives.

The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

The Factory Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes

1940, Liverpool: Alice Turner and her best friend, Millie Markham, work for the war effort at Rootes munitions factory, making shell caps and Halifax bombers. Alice’s sweetheart Terry is home from the front for a brief period of leave. She’s been in love with him since school, and the women are excitedly planning a whirlwind wedding.

But the honeymoon is soon over. Terry must go back to the dangers of Nazi-occupied France, and the ever-present air raid sirens quickly bring Alice back down to earth. When a terrible explosion at the factory leads to a tragic death, Millie receives devastating news, and a loved one is announced missing in action, the heartbreak of war is suddenly all too real.

Alice must believe Terry will make it home to keep up her strength. Her mother and Millie need all her support, and morale at the factory is at an all-time low.

Can Alice and Millie help one another make it through these dark times, even as the war stretches on with no sign of an ending?

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. 

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris


The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. 
Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales. 

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history.  

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

October Song by Beverly Lewis
From newlyweds Katie and Dan living in the shadow of the shunning, to Rachel and Philip embracing parenthood even as

he acclimates to Amish life as an outsider... From the courtship of Lydia Cottrell and her betrothed, Levi King, to Sarah Cain, now a wife and mother struggling to bridge her own life with that of the People... October Song is overflowing with the simpler things of life that make a Lewis novel an unforgettable journey into the depths of the human heart.  

The King's Witch by Tracy Borman

England, 1603. Nursing Queen Elizabeth through her last days, court healer Frances Gorges dreams of her parents’ country estate, where she first learned to use the medicinal secrets of flowers and herbs. Frances is happy to stay at home when King James of Scotland succeeds to the throne of England. His court may be shockingly decadent, but his intolerant Puritanism sees witchcraft in many of the old customs—punishable by death.

When her ambitious uncle sends Frances back to the royal palace as a nanny to the princess, she is a ready target for the twisted scheming of the Privy Seal, Lord Cecil. As a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament gains momentum, Frances is surrounded by danger. She finding happiness only with the King’s precocious daughter, and with Tom Wintour, the one courtier she feels she can trust. But even he has secrets to hide…

The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

As the nation moves toward civil war, one resident of Creek's Crossing, Pennsylvania, has her life irrevocably changed. Dorothea Granger is asked by her uncle, shortly before his violent death, to stitch an unusual quilt. When she learns that the quilt contains hidden clues for the Underground Railroad, Dorothea makes a brave decision. She will put her own life at risk to continue the work that cost her uncle his life.

The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella
It’s been over two years since Effie’s beloved parents got divorced, destroying the image of the happy, loving childhood she thought she had. Since then, she’s become estranged from her father and embarked on a feud with his hot (and much younger) girlfriend, Krista. And now, more earth-shattering news: Greenoaks, the rambling Victorian country house Effie called home her whole life, has been sold.
When Krista decides to throw a grand “house cooling” party, Effie is originally left off the guest list—and then receives a last-minute “anti-invitation” (maybe it’s because she called Krista a gold-digger, but Krista totally deserved it, and it was mostly a joke anyway). Effie declines, but then remembers a beloved childhood treasure is still hidden in the house. Her only chance to retrieve it is to break into Greenoaks while everyone is busy celebrating. As Effie sneaks around the house, hiding under tables and peeping through trapdoors, she realizes the secrets Greenoaks holds aren’t just in the dusty passageways and hidden attics she grew up exploring. Watching how her sister, brother, and dad behave when they think no one is looking, Effie overhears conversations, makes discoveries, and begins to see her family in a new light. Then she runs into Joe—the love of her life, who long ago broke her heart, and who’s still as handsome and funny as ever—and even more truths emerge.
But will Effie act on these revelations? Will she stay hidden or step out into the party and take her place with her family? And truthfully, what did she really come back to Greenoaks for? Over the course of one blowout party, Effie realizes that she must be honest with herself and confront her past before she’ll ever be able to face her future.  

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

An invitation for every woman who feels she isn't godly enough... isn't loving enough... isn't doing enough. The life of a woman today isn't really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord's feet... but the daily demands of a busy world just won't leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him... yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, right into the midst of your busy Mary/Martha life-and he extends the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters of Bethany. Tenderly he invites you to choose "the better part"-a joyful life of "living-room" intimacy with him that flows naturally into "kitchen service" for him.

How can you make that choice? With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story and its creative, practical strategies, Joanna shows how all of us -Marys and Marthas alike- can draw closer to our Lord, deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

 The Pioneers by David McCullough

McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect, and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. “With clarity and incisiveness, [McCullough] details the experience of a brave and broad-minded band of people who crossed raging rivers, chopped down forests, plowed miles of land, suffered incalculable hardships, and braved a lonely frontier to forge a new American ideal” (The Providence Journal).

The Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar
August 1942. Jacob and Moses Stein, two young Jewish brothers, are staying with their aunt in Paris amid the Nazi occupation. The boys’ parents, well-known German playwrights, have left the brothers in their aunt’s care until they can find safe harbor for their family. But before the Steins can reunite, a great and terrifying roundup occurs. The French gendarmes, under Nazi order, arrest the boys and take them to the Vélodrome d’Hiver—a massive, bleak structure in Paris where thousands of France’s Jews are being forcibly detained. 
Jacob and Moses know they must flee in order to survive, but they only have a set of letters sent from the South of France to guide them to their parents. Danger lurks around every corner as the boys, with nothing but each other, trek across the occupied country. Along their remarkable journey, they meet strangers and brave souls who put themselves at risk to protect the children—some of whom pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees of war. 

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

A country at war
A king beheaded
A woman with a dangerous secret

On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.

England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands.

Wideacre by Philippa Gregory

Beatrice Lacey, as strong-minded as she is beautiful, refuses to conform to the social customs of her time. Destined to lose her heritage and beloved Wideacre estate once she is wed, Beatrice will use any means necessary to protect her ancestral name. Seduction, betrayal, even murder—Beatrice’s passion is without apology or conscience. “She is a Lacey of Wideacre,” her father warns, “and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting.” Yet even as Beatrice’s scheming seems about to yield her dream, she is haunted by the one living person who knows the extent of her plans...and her capacity for evil. 

As I was typing up this post, and adding in the summary for each book, I got even more excited.  I also noticed there seems to be a bit of a pattern or theme going this year, most of the books are historical fiction and are either set in early England, or Civil War time in America.  I don't think I will get bored with any, or find one or two boring.....but, you never know.
Do you have a reading list for 2022?  Is is something you usually do, or will you give it a try this year?
Oh and before I forget, I WILL be reading the Bible again from the beginning.   So there's that going on as well, I think I have a lot to keep me busy and away from the TV.