Friday, April 30, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Possum Hunter?

So. In case you don't know 23 very well, let me just say that she's very open to quirky ideas and finding fun ways to do the mundane.

Her latest adventure is riding her bike to the coffee shop. First she had to buy the bike. Of course, she bought the sweet retro looking model. Gotta look the part of quirky if you are quirky, after all.

Before she punctured her tire and put the bugger out of commission for a week she was able to ride to and from work and enjoy every second of it.

Well. Most of them anyway. Seems that six in the morning can be dark in spots. And the night creatures aren't all tucked away in their beds yet. She nearly ran over a possum. With her sweet new bike. You just don't experience that every day. Ha.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Crossing Oceans ~ Review

Crossing Oceans
Gina Holmes
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414333056

Product Description:

Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But being told you’re dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank–toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything—to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings . . . even overcome the impossible. A stunning debut about love and loss from a talented new voice.

My Review:

I am always hesitant to review a book written by a friend. Can you imagine how much more apprehensive I was reading the debut novel from not only a friend but a critique partner? A critique partner lives to rip and shred work to point out what's wrong and what needs to be changed to make the work readable.

Though I've critiqued Gina Holmes for years, I had just glimpses into Crossing Oceans and I knew it was a very different style from her previous suspense novels. Her suspense is strong. But how well would her voice translate to women's fiction?

Once I opened her book and began to read I can say that her voice translates with a poignant grace that is rare in a debut novelist. And Crossing Oceans is a story that Holmes was meant to tell.

Holmes tackles a heavy story line with a touch of whimsy and deep, deep melancholy, sometimes in the same paragraph. A young mother, emotionally orphaned when her mother died and father cocooned himself in a cloak of angry grief, finds herself forced to return to the home she had escaped. Jenny has Stage IV metastatic cancer and must reunite with the family she fled for the sake of her little girl's very near future need. With less than a year to repair and restore relationships Jenny tackles the past and the future, the present and the pain, all while attempting to give her daughter, Isabella, memories and love and what life she has available to give.

This is a novel that quickly overcame the author and my relationship with her. The story told itself in a realistic and three-dimensional tale of life and death, sorrow and fear, choices and consequences, pain and beauty, loss and hope. Holmes voice is similar to some of my favorite authors in the Christian fiction genre, Siri Mitchell, Charles Martin, Susan Meissner, Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson and Bonnie Groves.

Crossing Oceans is not an easy read. It is haunting and beautiful and raw. Expect to cry and expect to remember this family long after you turn the last page.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles - A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Flower

So far April is dry but whether we have April showers or not, May is coming and with it, flowers.

I am particularly fond of daisies. There is just something about the simplicity and the cheerful little "countenance" of a daisy. I'm not drawn to them because of scent, that's for sure, because if they actually have one, it's not pleasant.

I'm also drawn to lilacs for completely different reasons. The season for lilacs is short and imitation lilac scent makes me queasy. But standing between purple festooned
lilac bushes and breathing in that unmistakable scent is one of the great pleasures in life.

Why did God take the time to give us an abundance of flowers? I suppose we could say its for the bees and the birds. Sure. But why would He make the fragrant lilac that lasts three weeks, the peony, the poppy and the hyacinth, all vibrantly colorful and vastly different?

I'm going to suggest that the flowers He created, in all their glory and difference, are for our pleasure. And His.

Each type of flower has a growing season, soil and sun preferences and a maintenance need that
differs from others. And each of us has our own flower preferences. Roses are beautiful but come with thorns. Daisies are hardy, cheerful and scentless. Lilacs and peonies are here today and gone tomorrow and the scent of each can't quite be captured in a bottle. Some flowers grow shallow, some crave sun, some can grow without soil, some need shade.

A garden can be sculpted and neat or unruly and wild and both can be gorgeous. Flowers even have their own language. A gift of yellow roses means something entirely different from a bouquet of carnations or lilacs. And a gift of flowers from a special friend is not like receiving a token flower at a banquet.

Aren't we also very much like a garden? God's own garden, created for His glory and His purpose and His pleasure? And for the needs and pleasure of those around us? Som
e of us will be drawn to the human roses, others will be drawn to the wildflower garden. Those who come in contact with us, those whom we pray for, those who don't know Jesus, yet, are drawn or repelled by the scents and the sights and the garden that we are.

What type of flower are you? Functional? High-maintenance? Fragrant? Can we help cultivate our particular human flower? Can we offer our soil some help? Maybe do some self-pruning? Any dead-heads that you are aware of that might be hindering new growth? Could your soil use a little more time in the Word as preparation for some new seed or seedlings? Maybe we could try to stop striving to be roses if we are wildflowers and we can accept that wildflowers are beautiful and valuable just as they are.

And while you are pondering all of this, don't forget to stop and smell some flowers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Life, Fruit and Blessings

I fell in love with my husband again last night.

Not that I was out of love, not at all.

But I saw him through an unusual lens.

His father is ill. Very ill. As we sat and talked with his dad, I was able to observe a different level of their relationship and to experience a hint of the depth of the love between them. My husband served his father his dinner and he sat down, grasped his dad's hand and mine and prayed for his father.

My father-in-law is a kind and generous man. He has been quietly providing for his children and their families in so many ways, many we were unaware of, as long as I've known him. And seeing my husband's kindness and gentleness toward this special man reminds me that life is so much more than the day to day things we do to get through to the next day. And that I'm blessed that the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

A blessing beyond words.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Thought for Monday

Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Groceries and Other Internet Experiments.

Note to the one reader who knows who she is. Yes. Or else. Two days have passed and my muscles hurt. I'll be asking you. Prepare.

Now. Back to the story of my grocery goodies.

So far my journey into $500.00 worth of groceries was problem free and chugging right along. But I was running out of options and had to dig into the fine print. (All of the offers had fine print.) I clicked on several, read the details and backed out.

Finally, I clicked on a face cream trial but repetitive-clicking-exhaustion had rendered me momentarily (yes, opening myself up to nasty comments here) clueless and I didn't read all the details. This one was the only negative experience. Because I didn't read the fine print very well I ended up missing the deadline for the inexpensive trial and had to buy the face cream. I got the second shipment canceled before having to buy a second one but the one I purchased was pricey....$78....pricey. The face cream is great, actually. But really, not $78 great. And the really, really frustrating thing was that the company didn't click clear me as participating so when it came down the final week before my completion deadline I had to find one more offer to participate in. This one cleared me right away and I ended up getting some great bargains through them so I ended up being okay. But. If you participate with any of these, learn from the fine print.

With all eight of my offers completed, my gift card quest reached the next level. I filled out paperwork, mailed it in and waited. And waited. And waited. All the time I waited I wondered if I had purchased the equivalent of a bumper sticker or T-Shirt emblazoned with a bright orange "SUCKER."

Would I actually get my card? And if I did, would it work?

I did and it does.

Free lunches usually have strings but if you can work within the strings, that free lunch can be a tasty, tasty little meal (or many).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Jingle -- uh Groceries in My Pocket

Note to someone specific, if you are not that person you may check out for just a moment, I did my Wednesday workout, did you? And since I won't see you today, you have one more day of grace. Use it wisely and I'll ask you about your workouts on Friday....

Okay. Back to the regularly scheduled post.

I posted a link to Freebies VIP last week. And mentioned my awesome deal and said I'd share about it later. So. Looks like later. Here goes.

In early November, shortly after I realized that legitimate freebies were something I could find on the internet I checked out the Freebie VIP offers and one in particular jumped out at me. It was for a $500.00 gift card to various grocery stores. One of which was Whole Foods. I was understandably skeptical but decided to trust that what was said was true. In order to get the card I had to participate in several offers via other companies. Eight of them to be exact. I had seen other listings that mentioned participation was required and had read about another blogger who'd gotten some real satisfaction through one of the companies that was participating.

I went through all the options and there were many. Several seemed safe. Two no-brainers were Netflix and Blockbuster at home. I clicked and joined both intending to keep one and lose the other after the low-cost or free trial. I had been toying with Netflix for months so that was an easy choice. Another easy choice was a birthstone ring for a total of $7.00 and Silkies for about the same. I joined both, got my goods and canceled upon meeting the requirements. So far I was pretty pleased.

I joined two different on-line savings groups. One offered a free $25.00 card and the second offered two $25.00 gift cards. So I stayed with them both for the free trial and one month paid membership to get the additional freebies. If I was a big on-line shopper they might have been really beneficial but I'm not so I can't say much about the benefits there. I also joined a free music site that offered free songs. I downloaded the songs and canceled before the monthly charge kicked in. The only issue with any of the above was that the songs didn't download onto the I-Pod like they were supposed to. Each of the things I had signed up for were very easy when it came time to cancel and well worth trying out and cost very little.

Now comes the oops.

And maybe I'll leave you hanging. I'll share my oops tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thankful For Grocery Stores, Modern Medicine and Multiple Rooms

Wow. We've been enjoying documentaries and creative reality television via Netflix for the past few months.

Lately, Frontier House has caught our attention.

Watching this particular five-month experiment/project has been eye-opening.

Lord of the Flies, the tale of young, civilized boys finding themselves on an island embracing animalistic survival-of-the-fittest mentality and becoming something altogether different than civilized, fits the experiment results in Frontier House pretty well. One family resorted to "trading" with modern families a walking distance away (with the teen girls watching MTV while the trading was in process), then making moonshine to supplement their income. Another family is on the verge of divorce and man oh man the dialogue/interaction between two bitter adults is an ugly thing to watch.

That said, I am thankful that I live in modern times. The lack of cleanliness, the hard, constant, physical labor, the close quarters would be a challenge I don't know that I could survive let alone thrive in. Fascinating place to visit via television, wouldn't want to go there.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~ What's Cooking Clara?

This little lady is too cute.

If you want cooking lessons from someone with a little history under their belt (or bloomers) check this out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Stretch Marks ~ Reviewed

Stretch Marks: A Novel
Kimberly Stuart
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448921

From the Back Cover:

Mia is a granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing, carbon footprint–conscious twenty-something living in a multicultural neighborhood in Chicago. Her mother, Babs, is a stiletto-wearing Zsa Zsa Gabor type who works as an activities hostess on a Caribbean cruise line … and if you guessed there’s some tension there, you’d be right. Factor in an unexpected pregnancy and Mia’s idealistic boyfriend—Lars is such a visionary he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage—and the mother-daughter relationship is, well, stretched very thin. As is Mia’s sanity when Babs shows up to … help.

My Review:

With a healthy dose of wit and a touch of whimsy Kimberly Stuart takes on the challenge of a prickly yoga enthusiast who inadvertently ends up pregnant by her tree-hugging, commitment/job-phobe live-in. This alone is enough to challenge Christian fiction readers. But that's not all this novel is about. Toss in the estranged mother who is opposite in all ways and pushy about it. Add a touching teen Juno situation and a will-they, won't-they romantic scenario and, well, you get the general idea, lots of drama and opportunity for change.

This out-of-wedlock pregnancy from a live-in arrangement is a plot enthusiastically brought to you by David C. Cook who seem to have heard the cry of those who are looking for realistic fiction with a bit of heavenly hope tossed in. I applaud the decisions being made at David C. Cook. Not only are the recent novels edgy, but they are well-written.

The scenario of Mia and her unraveling life leaves a lot of opportunity for Mia to come to terms with reality. She is forced to look at the world a little differently since she is carrying a child. The Christian elements in this novel are light. You won't find verses at the beginning of each chapter. Sensitive readers may find a bit to squirm about as Mia and company aren't exactly embracing a Christian walk. There was maybe a bit too much story which hindered some development of a couple of relationships and some timing issues popped up now and again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Thought Well Said

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Free? Now You're Talking...

What do cat litter and Sunchips have in common?

I don't think I want to spend a lot of time thinking about that. But I do know I've gotten free coupons for both of those items after seeing their free offers here.

I tend toward skepticism after being burned more than once, but the draw of free gets me more often than not.

So far, in the past few months, I've gotten four or five free coupons. Not bad for a few clicks on the computer. Some offers require participation of some sort. Keep that in mind. The bigger the offer the more you will likely have to participate in...but....that can be worth it big time as I've recently found out.

I'll tell you about my big, BIG, freebie later. That one caused me to nibble my fingernails a few times while waiting for my prize. But in the meantime, go check this out. Who knows what you might find.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Crossing Oceans

You will be seeing this book popping up all over the internet.

And in your local bookstores.

I will be reading and reviewing it soon and this is one novel I can't wait to jump in to. Gina is talented.

Here is an opportunity to get to know her and an opportunity to get a copy of her book.

Go visit Nora and she'll tell you the rest of the story.

Serials and Scenarios ~ She Walks in Beauty ~ Siri Mitchell

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)

Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.


For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.


Siri Mitchell's historicals have been some of my favorite books. She Walks In Beauty is not an exception.

With poignancy, grace and beautiful prose, Mitchell, takes the reader back to the late 1800's. In a time when women had few choices and society had many expectations, Mitchell introduces us to Clara Carter, a young lady who must debut and must catch the most eligible and desirable bachelor in the city.

The story is full of rich details of the gloss and glitter of the affluent and powerful and stark glimpses of what lies beneath the glitz.

If you love historicals or Siri Mitchell, run , don't walk, to a bookseller.

Other Mitchell reviews and

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Another Brownie Tweak O Yummish

Ready for the next weird recipe?

I didn't believe my friend.


Well. As odd and tweaky as I'm willing to get, I just couldn't wrap my brain around this one.


Black Bean Brownies.

Okay. So you are likely gone and no one is reading this, but on the off chance that you are, they are stinking (no pun intended) good.

One brownie mix
One can of black beans (oh, please check as I almost DIDN'T, that it's just black beans and bean juice, not spices and bits of pepper!!!!)

That is the entire ingredient list. (my friend used the normal sized small can of beans and a small brownie mix, I used the big brownie mix and the same size can of beans...both worked)

Take can of black beans and run them thru the food processor till pasty. (Juice and all)
Add brownie mix and blend til fully combined.

Grease a pan. (whichever size your brownie mix calls for). Dump in the stuff. Bake as directed. Note: I had to add about 10 minutes to mine to set up the middle. So watch the time.

These are chewy and you seriously can not taste or feel the beans. I'm going to try it with a scratch brownie recipe and see if I can't cut some of the sugar, just because I can't leave well enough alone. But til then, these are pretty tasty and full of fiber. : ).

Friday, April 02, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lookin to Make a Statement?

This could definitely make one.

Tom's Shoes is a cool organization that 23 and friends support. Cute shoes with an awesome bonus that makes a difference.

I probably won't participate in this, but eventually will buy (and share) a pair of Tom's.

Let me know if you do participate in the event. Something about the doctor's office setting and walking around barefoot makes me a little squeamish.