28 February 2011

The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster, Book Review

Charles Foster describes himself as a Writer, Barrister and Traveler. As a barrister - or criminal lawyer - Charles Foster uses his legal experience but also his faith to present a magnificent case, both for and against the resurrection of Jesus and the empty tomb.
This is a compelling book and you will feel drawn into it I assure you!

The Jesus Inquest, the case for and against the resurrection of the Christ
, offers the reader an in depth look at both sides and facts are delivered in such a way that believers and non believers alike will readily form their own opinions.

Charles Foster's background as a teacher of Medical Law and Ethics allows him to graphically describe much details of the Passion as well as the Crucifixion itself. Using Roman Historians as well as eye witness accounts he skilfully outlines the events that leads to the empty tomb.
Obviously his research was extensive and to be sure he earned my respect in that regard!

I very much enjoyed reading this book, perhaps because arguments, when presented in such a constructive way, are always a great challenge and let's face it, we become too complacent in our faith!
As a writer and a scholar, Charles Foster certainly challenged mine! As a traveler, I would love to have the opportunity to see what he has seen!

Reading his acknowledgments, I noticed the segment regarding the book dedication to his father, in particular the statement the latter taught him some things are true and some are not, and everyone has a duty to try to find out which is which. Amen!

This is certainly in my opinion a must read for anyone!
I give it 5 stars!!

As part of Thomas Nelson/Booksneeze Blogger Review Program I received a copy of this book. I wasnot asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

26 February 2011

Pain Amish, Hot Cross Buns and Kitchen Corgi

So I spent the afternoon baking bread and buns leaving the kitchen only for a few minutes to check on emails and...What happened to that even dozen?

I told MacIntosh I would let everyone know he did not stop the thief! The evidence is here for all to see!

No one could resist those eyes hence I am sure he had a bite too!

I often come across recipes after I needed them...Does this happen to anyone else I wonder? Wishing for Spring, Easter and so on, I thought to share with readers my favourite Hot Cross Buns recipe.

This recipe makes 12 (12 buns MacIntosh, not 11!!!)

You will need 600g of strong white flour (1lb 5oz)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

55 g of butter cut small (2oz)

75 g caster sugar (2 1/2oz)

75 g finely grated zest of 1 orange (2 1/2oz) (please wash before grating!)

2 tsp of fast action yeast
1 medium egg
250 ml warm full fat milk (9fl oz)

100 g mixed dried fruit (3 1/2oz)

and for the topping, 2 tbsp plain flour and 1 tbsp water and for glazing, 1 tbsp honey gently heated!

Note: American measures in parentheses.

Sieve flour, cinnamon and salt in large mixing bowl and rub butter using your fingertips.
Make a well in centre of mixture, add sugar, zest and yeast.

Add egg to warm milk and mix together to form soft dough.

Turn dough on lightly floured work surface and carefully work mixed fruit in dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 to 8 minutes.
Grease a warm bowl, shape dough into a ball and place in oiled bowl covering with a clean tea towel. Set aside in warm area to rise.

After an hour or so, remove the dough and knead again for 6 to 8 minutes, return to the bowl, cover and let it rise for 20 minutes again.
Place dough on lightly floured surface and divide in 12 pieces (12 pieces MacIntosh!).
Roll each one into a bun shape, cover and leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Grease a baking tray, transfer buns onto it and cover loosely with a greaseproof paper before placing the whole thing in a large plastic bag tying the end so it is airtight.
Set aside in a warm place to rise another 40 minutes.

Preheat oven at 190/Gas 5 (375 degrees F).

Make topping as follows:
Add 2 tbsp water to the 2 tbsp flour and mix into a smooth paste, place in a piping bag if you wish or just using a small tea spoon, carefully pipe a cross shape over each bun.
Bake in oven 15 to 20 minutes depending on your particular stove until golden brown.

Brush with hot honey, set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Blessings to all!

Note: This recipe appeared in the Weekend Cooking last April and it is the best I have tried!

I promise to share my Simnel cake recipe for the occasion as well!

Cold Weather and Baking Bread

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This has been a week of challenges...Our ferry broke down...again...sigh...
We have lost so many times the power we have lost count of it!
Despite our 15 mile/hour speed limit a careless driver hit a beautiful buck in front of our property...He was never far from his doe and twin fawns...They must miss him terribly!
We have seen snow...almost unheard of on this island...Cold...it is 5 degrees Celsius - 22 degrees F - and I, like many say...Winter go away!

Yet Spring is not so far...I have seen hints of it (our Jonquils are showing up in the garden) and on wonderful inspiring blogs... Beautiful photos of Snowdrops, the planting of new seeds, even a lovely pair of pumps for Spring outings...

But the postings I felt drawn to were just mouth watering...baked bread!
Here are a few for you too to check out:


Now I feel just a tad better!
Baking is something I love to do and it is a fact our house often smells like a bakery! I am always looking for the "perfect" recipe!
Our Corgi is a "Kitchen Corgi" and even Maira, the Cat is never far. I call my kitchen the "Comfort Zone"!

Anyone who is familiar with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has discovered the wonders of Home Baking the easiest way!
I found a reference to this book just a couple of weeks ago and decided it would be a perfect addition to our library. Ever the practical person my husband suggested I first check out the local library...Luckily the book found its way over to our island within days and here we are...
Tempting it is and yes, I am on my way to the kitchen...

Perhaps I too will be able to post a "picture perfect" loaf of bread! Just dreaming...

And if I fail...well, there is also the version below! (There seems to be an Idiot version of anything these days!) and I am sure our Public Library will help there too!

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Artisan Bread

25 February 2011

Birthday Wishes for a Wonderful Little Girl!

Feliz cumpleaños de Lina
con todo nuestro amor!

I pray this birthday,
Will warm your heart
And may God’s warmth
Not ever depart
For all year round
And the years ahead
May you find in friends
God’s love is shared.

© By M.S.Lowndes.

Today is a very special day...Lina's 12th Birthday!

Dear Lina, we are faraway but we carry you in our heart always!
We pray you are well and remembered by all who love you today!

I learned something else today... A special birthday party will be organized in your honour when you turn 15. It is called the Quinceanera I believe. In your country, much like other parts of Latin America, this party represents the passage from childhood to womanhood for a young woman celebrating her fifteenth birthday.


21 February 2011

It is official!

The Winner of the Book Giveaway sponsored by Tyndale Publishing for
"The Brotherhood"
written by Jerry B. Jenkins

Ron said:

"Book's sounds very appealing to me, being both of faith and in law enforcement, thanks for the review. "

Again Congratulations Ron and I will contact you (as soon as you send me your email) to send you the gift certificate! I sincerely hope you enjoy the book as much as I have.

Note: If Winner fails to contact within 48 hours, an alternate choice will be selected!
Thank you all for entering and be sure to check this book when you have a chance!


Life Ready Woman, Contest Announcement

In celebration of Shaunti Feldhahn’s Life Ready Woman, MomLife Today is giving away 2 Weekend To Remember Gift Packs and much more!

Not only, is MomLife Today helping promote Life Ready Woman, but they are thrilled to announce that Shaunti will be joining MomLife Today as a regular contributor!!!

Weekend To Remember Get-Aways offer marriage-changing principles that you can take home and apply to your daily lives to strengthen your marriage. Whether you are newly engaged or have been married for 50 years, you will find value in the tools provided at the getaway.


Don’t miss this opportunity to receive a conference registration for you and your spouse … and more! MomLife Today will be randomly selecting NINE lucky recipients to receive one of these great gifts:

  1. 2 Weekend To Remember Get Away conference registrations for two. $259 value each pair (Two couples will receive this.)

  2. 2 Life Ready Woman DVD packs. $149 value each (Two different people will receive this gift.)

  3. 5 The Life Ready Woman books. (Book will go to 5 people.)

To enter click one of the icons below then tell your friends. Winner will be announced on March 2nd on the MomLife Today website.

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MomLife Today provides encouragement, advice and resources to help YOU with your daily Momlife! Because…every MOMent counts!

19 February 2011

Rumour has it...Corgi Alert!

Psst... Have you heard the latest tit bit in the Corgi world? Wait! It is official!
Sutter (see photo above) has recently been "elected" First Corgi of California!

Congratulations Sutter!

There are just no words to express our feelings...

18 February 2011

Roses and Seashells and Daydreaming

There are definite advantages in this era of technology I cannot deny (most appreciated since we loose the power often on this island)!

On top of my list is number 1, a washer! Have you ever noticed, be you man or woman, how that laundry pile keeps on growing? There is something absolutely wonderful about filing a washer whilst adding soap and softener (and in my case also Borax as our water is very hard) and just push on that button! Voila!

And if you are wondering if what follows this statement will look like Heloise advices to homemakers everywhere you are wrong!
This simply reflects how lucky I feel to have such commodity - I distinctly remember times when it was not so - and therefore having the time to post on this blog which of course I very much prefer!

Seriously however, I have realized this past year it takes time to think of a specific subject you wish to blog about.
Think of a diary my daughter says...
Does anyone else remember reading Erma Bombeck and her book "If life is suppose to be a bowl of cherries, why am I getting all the pits?" I must admit there has been moments in our daily life that would remind you of her witty comments!

I have learned to "surf" the Net and enjoy reading many posts in "Blogland", again at my daughter's suggestion, and I have come to a few conclusions:

- My name is not Martha and whilst we share a liking for the same colours, I doubt we have any other common points!

- I love baking and yes our home has a distinct smell of Pains in the wee mornings with a subtle fragrance of galettes and scones near teatime! Feel free to stop by anytime! Just remember ferry times and a guest pass, a must since this is a private island...

- There are books everywhere in this house - at the exception perhaps of the bathroom (I dislike seeing reading material in that particular room) and no surprise, this is a favourite pastime of ours!
We read every chance we get and yes I will admit we often read more than one book at the time...Are we the only ones?
Subjects varies greatly but neither of us read autobiographies or political debates!

There is nothing like a good day's work followed by a nice warm shower - the later is a definite number 2 on my list of favourite technological wonders - and sitting in bed with a good book! So soothing before bedtime!
I remember sitting in my rocker in the evening and reading stories to our children... We called it quiet times! There was never any problem getting our children to sleep...

-Everything, and I mean just that, everything stops for teatime! There is nothing like a good cuppa especially during stressful times and be warned, running out of tea would be a capital offense...

- I love knitting particularly layette and there are so many wonderful charities in need of such!

- Ours is an eclectic home with little treasures collected in 60 years of traveling along 6 Continents, 4 Oceans and many countries, some whose borders and names have been shuffled and renamed since! One suitcase, one camera and 2 good pairs of walking shoes is all you need...
A good digital camera is number 3 on my list of technological wonders...I am forever pointing and I marvel at the endless possibilities in such a small item, particularly since I am all thumbs!

- I discovered the computer technology at a later time in my life and I have been trying to catch up since! That would actually be number 4 on the list!
The on/off button part was easy to remember and once I mentally adapted to the "qwerty" keyboard instead of "azerty", I quickly learned you can just press "delete" if you do not like what you have written...

Amazingly I cannot think of anything else we cannot live without it and have not done so. I appreciate a cellphone in an emergency, the entertainment provided by a good movie on the DVD player and the incredible sound of classical and jazz music provided by the stereo system but somehow it does not seem so vital! Time will tell...

- Rocks and minerals find their way everywhere and I have learned to say "Empty your pockets please" before washing the laundry...

- I love flowers in the house and seashells can be found in every room...

I am blessed and will always remain a dreamer...

17 February 2011

A Place of Peace by Amy Clipston, Book Review

A Place of Peace, Book 3 in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series has all the requirements for a good story about the beautiful Amish countryside Amy Clipston so vividly describes for avid readers.

Four years ago heartbroken Miriam left Pennsylvania and the Amish community she belonged to. Believing her fiance Tim Kauffman was not faithful to their love, she breaks up her engagement and leaves without an explanation to live in the English world.

When she is called back following her mom's sudden death, she returns home seeking forgiveness and understanding from her family. She soon realizes they are not ready to accept the past and amongst much hurt and confusion she leaves again, but not before she finds out jealousy was behind the lies she was told about her fiance. Tim however has found someone else.

Back in Indiana, Miriam comes to realize she does not belong anymore there than she belongs with her friends and family and it is a time of much soul searching for her.

Returning to her birthplace for yet another family emergency, she endures more loss leaving her to question her faith in God and her place in a community that shuns her.

With her warm and thoughtful descriptive of the Amish countryside, Amy Clipston lets us discover how Miriam and Tim learn eventually to forgive past hurts and finds peace in the place that means so much to them.
Her refreshing novels gives us a glimpse of a unique order, a "plain" community who has retained their faith in their "Ordnung" in a Century of constant new technology.

A Place of Peace brings you once again the many facets of the Amish life readers enjoys discovering in her books, with lives and daily struggles reminding us that Englisher or Dietsch speaking, God is always by our side and faith can indeed work miracles.

A glossary of the "Dietsch" language is included along with a "wunderbaar" recipe for Apple Strudel!
Once again a heartfelt thank you to Amy Clipston for her detailed acknowledgment list in particular, The Creekside Inn in Lancaster County, PA.
I always enjoy checking out the many sources she delves in whilst writing yet another novel.

Be sure to check out also A Gift of Grace, A Promise of Hope and of course A Plain and Simple Christmas (reviewed here) for more of her stories!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ARC book free from Zondervan Book Publisher as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

13 February 2011

Saint Valentin, Butterfly wings and thoughts

Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.
~Author Unknown

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
~Hans Christian Anderson

I am not sure what happened to yesterday's sunshine but rain is here again...(and lots of wind so I am posting earlier today...just in case we loose the power...again...sigh)

For all Sweethearts all over the World... Live, Laugh, Love...
Happy St Valentine!

Sunday, Stay cation and Sausage Rolls

(Birtsmorton Church - Photograph by M. Davis)

Today is Sunday and whilst most everyone we know seem to face a cold snowy day yet again, we have 8 C degrees - 47 F - and it is quite sunny!

February always brings memories as we usually go home...We miss the Malvern Hills and all that we hold dear!
This year will in fact be a first - a stay cation year! No worries though! Life is good, we count our blessings and remember that tomorrow has yet to come!

I thought to share today a recipe for Sausage rolls, a favourite in our house!
Easy to prepare, perfect for Sunday brunches and I have yet to meet anyone who does not like them.

A quick note for our vegetarian friends: you can easily substitute the filling with veggies and cheese!

Sausage Rolls


17 - 20 oz. ready-made puff pastry dough
16 oz. loose sausage meat ("bulk," or removed from casing)
1 egg, beaten to seal and glaze the pastry


Make an egg wash by mixing the beaten egg with ¼ cup water. Cut the puff pastry into eight, square sections approximately 5"x 4½" (or into twelve, rectangular sections about 5"x 3" for smaller portions for hors d'œuvres)

Season the sausage meat with salt, pepper and any herbs or spices you like (if using unseasoned meat) and separate it into even portions for each roll (eight for large, twelve for the small ones). Place each in a pastry strip. Roll up each and brush the edges with plenty of the egg wash to help make the pastry stick together. This latter step can be a little tricky - if you don't seal those edges together securely enough, they'll come "unzipped" in the oven half-way through the baking process! Place them on a greased cookie sheet, seam side down, one inch apart. Brush the tops of each roll with the egg wash to create a nice glaze and cut two diagonal slits in the top of each roll to vent while they bake. Bake at 350° F. for 35 minutes.

This recipe makes 8 large portions or a dozen small ones. Serve warm or cold, with mustard. Enjoy!

Pssst... Don't forget...Tomorrow is Valentine's Day!

May you have a wonderful day and Blessings to all!

10 February 2011

The Brotherhood, A Tyndale Book Review and Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from the publisher)

Boone Drake has it made. He’s a young cop rising rapidly through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department. He has a beautiful wife and a young son, a nice starter house, a great partner, and a career plan that should land him in the Organized Crime Division within five years. Everything is going right. Until everything goes horribly, terribly wrong. His personal life destroyed and his career and future in jeopardy, Boone buries himself in guilt and bitterness as his life spirals out of control. But when he comes face-to-face with the most vicious gang leader Chicago has seen in decades, he begins to realize that God is a God of second chances and can change the hardest heart . . . and forgive the worst of crimes. A thought-provoking police thriller from New York Times best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins

And now here is my review:

I was absolutely thrilled when Tyndale House Publishers gave me the opportunity to review this book!
Even better, there is a Giveaway tied to this review so please read on!

When reviewing any book there is a fine line betwixt giving the whole summary and telling the reader just the right amount of information to entice him/her the read the entire book!
I admit to have very much enjoyed the Left Behind series and therefore was already acquainted with some of Mr. Jenkins' work and once again, I was not disappointed!

I will begin by letting you know I give this book 4 1/2 stars!

The Brotherhood, an 11th Precinct novel, is I believe, the first of a series about Chicago's PD and the men and women in blue who upheld the law despite all odds in a world too often violent.
But this is also a story of Christian beliefs based on God's love and redemption.

For Boone Drake, life is everything he could wish! He loves his job, has a lovely wife named Nikki, a wonderful son, a brand new home, a great partner.
But as we read on, we soon realize God does not have a big place in it!
When tragedy strikes, his whole life is torn apart and drifting even further away from God, he soon become a bitter man and takes solace in alcohol.

This story grips you very soon as you discover yourself wishing with all your might for Boone Drake to know God is there for you if you only let Him!

And once again Jerry B. Jenkins mastery allows us to read a well developed story.
From organized crime and the violent world of drugs to all the many challenges faced everyday by the police force to keep law and order, we follow a man's soul searching during excruciating challenges.
But life goes on and Boone has much to face.
In his wife's bible he finds a little card titled ' My Prayer list' which includes several names and situations. At the top he sees his own: "Boone - may he become a complete man of God and remain a devoted husband and loving father".
On one of the blank pages at the back of the Bible Nikki had written, My favourite verse: "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart' Psalm 37:4."

This is the story of one man who ultimately, when facing all that he has lost, finds his way again and he is not alone. With the help of friends and pastor and a new direction in his life, Boone Drake learns to accept there are second chances for all of us and forgiveness is possible.

Lesson learned once again: God is always there!

It remains for me to say I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

Meet the Author:

Jerry B. Jenkins (blog)

Jerry B. Jenkins is the most prolific and highest-selling evangelical novelist of our time. He is the author of more than 175 books, including the 63,000,000-selling Left Behind series.
Asked how he is able to write so much, Jenkins says, “I don’t sing or dance or preach. This is all I do.”

And now, allow me to share with you our Giveaway:

Tyndale House Publishers and Jerry B. Jenkins graciously will award one of our readers a copy of the book The Brotherhood.

Please share with us in a comment why you think you should be the lucky recipient!
Don't forget to include your email address so that I may contact you and send you Tyndale House Publishers Free product Award Certificate to redeem at any bookstore!

Giveaway rules: Entry limited to residents of the US and Canada. One entry per household, 18 and older.

An independent party will choose the best comment and
the winner will be announced on the 22nd of February on this blog! Good luck!

As always please note I received a copy of the book for this review from the Publisher. I was not asked to give it a positive review and the opinion reflected is my own entirely.

09 February 2011

An Unlikely Blessing, Book Review and Giveaway

An Unlikely Blessing,a Forever Hilltop Novel!

This is what Guideposts tells us about the book:

An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota . Hilltop Township , a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there.

Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens' land. But can even God's minister help save this rural community?

There are a lot of firsts for the new pastor—the annual Hunter's Breakfast, julebukking (also called Christmas fooling), King Oscar's fish balls, and the melody of the musical saw. And the new, single pastor creates remarkable excitement among the unmarried women in the community. If you could die of hot dish overdose, Alex would be a dead man. Whether performing weddings, counseling his flock, or herding cattle by snowmobile, Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he will teach them. Day by day, he falls more in love with the people of Hilltop Church . People may leave Hilltop, but Hilltop never leaves them.

And now it is my turn:

I will first tell you that Alex Armstrong, the protagonist of this first novel in the Forever Hilltop series arrives with his nephew in the farming community of Hilltop township, his new parish.
The town limit sign says:
Welcome to Grassy Valley, North Dakota.
City Population: 1,254.
A place like home.

Now imagine yourself sitting down on a porch on a hot summer evening, reaching out for a cool glass of lemonade and opening this book...

In An Unlikely Blessing you will meet a Pastor unsure of his first assignment - a sudden change of direction in his well ordered life brings him to the plains of North Dakota - and a collection of parishioners not unlike the many who lived all their lives in any small rural community and just...belong there!

Know that Pastor Alex has in fact two parishes to care for, Hilltop and All Saints, both divided over a feud started long ago and whilst his faith is tested in many ways, he grows to love each and everyone of his parishioners.

Meet Twinkle Toes the pig, Dixon Daniels the farmer, Will Packard, the little boy who cares for his "hoomain shelter", Jonas who could very well lose his family farm, Gandy who works as his secretary in lieu of stipend and so many others.

Albeit growing accustomed slowly to the gravel roads, Alex also soon realize he will have to trade his city car for an all-terrain SUV, then add the never ending supply of covered dishes given to Alex by the well meaning ladies of the parish and his resulting waistline expending and my favourite, Tripod!

...Dixon brings a dog to Alex thinking he will soon need its company...

"Alex studied the dog at his feet. He jumped up and began to wag its tail again. It was only then that Alex noticed that the dog stood with one hip higher in the air and the other lowered as if he were standing on the side of a deep hill. "This poor thing has only three legs!"

"Of course. What did you expect of a dog named Tripod? But if you don't tell him something is missing, he'll never know." Priceless.

I read many reviews of this book but ultimately whilst you wish to grab someone's attention, you do not want to reveal too much of the story.

An accurate description of this book is the perfect recipe made with first rate ingredients and baked at the right temperature. Just inhale the honest smell of country life at its very best, savour it slowly as any good book (meal) requires it, and enjoy! The best!

About Judy Baer:

Judy Baer is the author of over seventy-five books for adults and teens. She has won the Romance Writer of America Bronze Medallion and has been a RITA finalist twice. She lives in Elk River , Minnesota with her husband. Follow the Hilltop characters on Judy’s blog and find out more about Judy and her books at http://www.judykbaer.com

About the Giveaway:

Prolific author of over 75 novels, Judy Baer, is launching her new Guideposts series, Forever Hilltop, with a KINDLE giveaway! The first book in the series, An Unlikely Blessing is available now wherever fine books are sold.

Read the reviews here.

In celebration of the release of An Unlikely Blessing, Judy is giving away a KINDLE prize package worth over $175.

One lucky winner will receive:

  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi

  • A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com

To enter just click on one the icons below and then tell your friends! Winner will be announced on February 21st on Judy's blog, http://www.judykbaer.com/wordpress

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

For more information please visit the Litfuse website, www.litfusegroup.com and click {HERE}!

As usual please note I received a copy of this book from the Publisher in order to review its contents. I was not asked to provide a positive review and this post reflects only my opinion!

08 February 2011

Writing Letters, Notes and Sweet Valentines

I was recently asked why I decided to write a blog... I thought of many answers but the one that came to me first of all was I enjoy writing!

Growing up however I must admit it was not always so. In fact I vividly remember my father drawing lines in a notebook and demanding that I practice my letters over and over again...
I remember only too well the quill and ink well - no bic pen at that time - and my fingers ink stained! I had a little blotter shaped like a Lady Bug too...

Still with the years passing by, I developed my own style and soon enough, I discovered I could put all this practice to good use by writing letters or stories of my own.
And being a dreamer...

Mathematics were definitively not my forte but writing was something I truly enjoyed, the best part of my school years along with History I might add.
A teaser, a flashback or just witnessing the flight of a bird or the playfulness betwixt our Corgi and the Cat, and there I go.
I will never be called an Author of course but it is something I create, something I enjoy and blogging is very therapeutic I discovered as well.
There is something truly satisfying in that tiny key called "Delete" if need be!

Writing letters it is sad to say is not the same as it use to be. Elegant stationery, flowing calligraphy and the pleasure of reading a letter seem to have been relegate to another era! These days you have Emails and E-cards and factory made Greetings cards!

In the not so distant past a Victorian Lady was expected to write letters of many sorts, often to convey the latest news and information, and these handwritten letters were penned carefully.

Letter writing was not just a social obligation you see but a skill a Lady, or a Gentleman for that matter, would be expected to practice if one did not arrive to it naturally, for it indicate fine breeding.
Letters would be judged not only by the elegance of the words chosen but also by their penmanship! These carefully written letters would then be received by a loved one perhaps and tucked away in a drawer, may hap tied together with a special ribbon...
If you are lucky, you might have found such in Grand Ma's hope chest or your Great Uncle's desk...

As Valentine's Day is soon to be upon us I thought of all the wonderful letters and notes written in the past by lovers everywhere!

"The Lovers Letter Writer" for i.e. was a well known Victorian manual containing 66 examples of correct letters writing covering acquaintance, courtship, marriage, friendship, even a formula for a cryptogram meant to be read betwixt the lines! Oh the thoughts that came to my mind...

And if you were a shy suitor you would consult "The Lover's Casket", a 19th Century book of Etiquette to express yourself without perhaps facing potential rejection in person.

Just as in the language of flowers, penmanship and the words it conveyed was very important!
Consider the following to give yourself an idea:

From the poem "A White Rose" by J. B. O' Reilly

The red rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

And less you scoff at the idea to send/receive such lines, remind yourself these very lines are timeless.

Read on!
This poem called "I do not love thee"was written by a lady, Caroline Norton:

I do not love thee! -no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

And in "Sonnets from the Portuguese" Elizabeth Browning wrote:

When our two souls stand erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curving point,
-what bitter wrong
Can the earth do us, that we should not long
Be here contented?

Of course you might pen some sentimental thought in a much modern way but I'll wager the recipient will indeed treasure such a note written on carefully chosen stationery in lieu of a printed card hastily signed...I know what I would choose!

Care to take me on?

04 February 2011

Angels, Help from on High - Book Review

The Church teaches that Angels are messengers of God. Often depicted with wings, these spiritual beings are repeatedly referred to in the Bible, their roles to protect and guide human beings and carrying out God's tasks.

In Angels, Help from on High
written and compiled by Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP, you will find quotes of the Old Testament, the Catechism and the Gospels of Mathew and Luke in the New Testament listing numerous references to these Angels.

Pope John Paul II in his 1986 address titled "Angels Participate in History of Salvation" himself reminded us that we should not ignore the importance of Angels.

So who are these heavenly beings?
And what about Guardian Angels? Do each of us have indeed a Guardian Angel?

Again, we are familiar with the Angels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel!
Why are only these three Angels named in the Bible? We know the feast of all three is celebrated on the 29th of September but what else do we know about Angels, their number or the Joy they bring to us?

Through a collection of short stories and prayers this book shares with us a little of the mysteries surrounding Angels.

For i.e. the Prayer for our Nation in a Time of Great Need tells us:

"Holy Angels, you whom God sent to watch over and guard our nation, we ask for your help and intercession... May we seek to serve one another's needs and so built a Society that will lead to the civilization of Truth and Love, where God will reign over all." Amen.

As you read you will find each chapter of the book underlines how Angels are indeed all around and we cannot ignore their work around us.
But ultimately there is no easy answer and it remains for each of us to open our heart and just have Faith!

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I received a copy of this book but I was not asked to give it a positive review. The views expressed are therefore entirely my own.
You might also visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Angels - Help from on High . They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts

01 February 2011

Handkerchiefs Bonnets, Babies and Sharing

Someone mentioned a "Hanky" Bonnet a while back and I must admit I had never heard of this. Perhaps we have to credit some pioneer Mum for this lovely idea! I am sure you will find it as precious as I did!

First it is a handkerchief designed into a bonnet for Baby. Keep it until her/his wedding day, remove the ribbon and voila, it is a handkerchief once again.

10x10-1/2" square of linen or heirloom fabric or purchased ladies handkerchief
1-1/4 yards of 1" wide flat lace
1 yard of 1/4" satin ribbon
Embroidery thread


Place lace along outside edges 1/4" in from edge. Stitch lace in place along edge. Trim away fabric from behind lace to stitching. Sew a decorative stitch to the edge of the handkerchief 5/8" from hem. To form bonnet, turn back 2-1/2" along one edge and press. Attach ribbon 1" in front of this fold at center and 1" in from both edges. Tack with small stitched heart. On opposite side, turn back 1", press and baste 5/8" from fold. Gather up and secure to form back of bonnet.

Something to treasure always!

And to put with the Bonnet:


I'm just a little hankie
As square as square can be
But with a small stitch or two
A bonnet I will be.
I'll be worn from the hospital
Or on my christening day
And after that be folded
Then carefully put away.
When on that future wedding day
So we've been always told
The well-dressed bride must always
Wear something that is old.
So what could be more fitting
Then to find little me
And with a few fine stitches snipped
A wedding hankie be.
And if perchance it's a boy
Someday he'll surely wed
Then his bride can have the hankie
Once worn upon his head.

Dreaming, always dreaming...