Saturday, March 30, 2013

♥ Happy Resurrection Sunday ♥

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

~Matthew 28:1-7

Going 'Green'

This fun looking green bus caught my eye on a recent hike to South Mountain State Park in Casar, NC. 

Town to Trails is a service based in Winston-Salem NC that provides transportation to hiking, biking, boating and skiing areas in the Southeast. 

I didn't know anything like this existed. It's pretty neat that they provide this service for those who can't drive themselves or for groups that want to travel 

Just click on the photo and it will take you to their website if you're interested in finding out more about 'going green' with Town to Trails. 

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An oldie but goodie ~ Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

I love sharing books with my MIL. After she read Trinity: Military War Dog, she was eager to read the first book in the Discarded Heroes series, written by my all time favorite military suspense author, Ronie Kendig. I do believe my MIL is hooked! And I am so happy to have someone to discuss these awesome books with. Here's her thoughts on Nightshade...

Rapid Fire Fiction

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

Product Details
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Publishing, (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160260777X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602607774

Reviewed by Sharonne Payne
Nightshade is the first book in the Discarded Heroes series by Ronie Kendig.
A former Navy Seal, fighting PTSD, Max Jacobs and his wife Sidney are struggling in their marriage. Running from the anger and the demons that are ruining his marriage and his life, he takes on secret Black Ops assignments.
In the meantime, Sidney is a reporter and a story has surfaced about terrorists killing villagers and a mysterious group that shows up to save them. She is following the leads to find out who is saving the villagers. Suddenly she finds someone wants her to stop looking into this story or else, but she persists in going ahead. This is where I, as a reader, want to reach out and shake some sense into her. Why does she keep going? Where will it lead her? Doesn'’t she realize she could be killed? And, as always, I have to keep reading to see what happens because Ronie keeps dangling the carrot in front of me, which is why I enjoy her books. :)
Will Max and Sidney work out all the problems of their marriage? Will she get the biggest story of her life and get a boost in her career? Will Max learn to trust God?
Well, I know all the answers now, but if you want to know you will have to read the book. My lips are sealed!

Read Excerpt here.
Purchase Link: Barbour Publishing

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A small sign of Spring...

(click to enlarge)

I used Picmonkey to edit the above photo I took on a recent hike to South Mountain of a small cluster of flowers that were peeking out from under a rock. After cropping it, I added the texture as a Hardlight, Saturation at 200%, Fade at 0%, add some text, fade it out and voila! 

 Texture: Skies- Laundry Day by Nancy Claeys 

It's still cold here most days but there is HOPE that soon the temperatures will rise and the days will be balmy and warm.

Have you done anything outdoors yet in celebration of SPRING?

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Rurality Blog Hop #8

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Trailer Tuesday ~ Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White

To celebrate the release of Ring of Secrets, Roseanna has put together a fun giveaway package! 
This one features:
  • A signed copy of Ring of Secrets
  • A signed copy of Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland
  • A signed copy of Jewel of Persia
  • A signed copy of A Stray Drop of Blood
  • A French quill pen and ink set
  • A custom-made cameo necklace inspired by Ring of Secrets, designed by Inspired Novelties
  • A magnetic closure, vintage style journal
  • Two memo pads featuring a skeleton key and a crown and fleur-de-lis
  • A custom-made Winter Reeves doll
  • Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose
This drawing for this giveaway (valued at $150) will be done on Saturday, March 30.

To enter, follow the link below to Roseanna's website:

Monday, March 25, 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley ~ FIRST Wild Card Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!
Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)

***Special thanks to Tracy L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***


Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at


On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.

She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.

But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.

The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.

When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.

“Meticulously-researched, spellbindingly written with luscious prose and compelling and complex characters.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author of Havah: The Story of Eve

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1401686826

ISBN-13: 978-1401686826



I am an old man, and I have seen too much.

Too much of this world to endure any more. Too much of the next to want to linger.

And though I have nearly drowned in the glorious visions of those last days, yet I know not when it shall come, nor how many years I must tread this barren earth before all is made new.

There is a Story, you see. And we are still in the midst of it, ever striving to play our roles, battling on for the freedom of hearts and souls and minds yet enslaved by darkness.

But I have seen a great light. Oh yes, I have seen it. Even now it is breaking through, as it did on that grassy hillside so many cool spring mornings ago, when Moses and Elijah walked among us and my Brother shone with the glory He had been given from the beginning and will rise up to claim again at the end.

You will wonder, perhaps, at my calling Him brother. And yet that is what He was to me. Brother and friend, before Savior, before Lord. In those days when we wandered the land, going up and down from the Holy City, we shared our hearts, our lives, our laughter. Oh, how we laughed, He and I! He had the irrepressible joy of one who sees beyond the brokenness, to the restoration of all.

I loved him. And He loved me.

But I speak of beginnings and of endings, and these are words that have no meaning, for the day of His birth was both the beginning of the Kingdom and the end of tyranny, and that magnificent Day yet to come—it is the end-which-is-a-beginning, and my eyes have seen such glory in that New Jerusalem, my very heart breaks to tell of it.

And yet they come, young and old, to this tiny home in Ephesus that is to be my last dwelling outside that New City, and they beg me to tell the Story again and again.

And I do.

I tell of seals and scrolls, of a dragon and a beast and a Lamb. Of music that makes you weep to hear it and streets that blind the mortal eye. Of a Rider on a White Horse with eyes of blazing fire, whose name is Faithful and True. It is a great Story, and greater still to hear the final consummation of it, for how often we forget that we are living it still.

But I have another tale to tell. A smaller story within the One True Story that began before the creation of this world and is echoed at its end, as all our stories are. It happens here, in this port city of Ephesus but many years ago, when the darkness lay even heavier than it now does upon the people, and their souls cried out for relief from anyone who could give it.

This smaller story does not begin here in Ephesus, however. It begins a day’s sail away, on the sun-kissed shores of the Isle of Rhodes, where the light first began to break upon one woman and one man, even as they walked in darkness . . .

Chapter 1

Rhodes, AD 57

In the glare of the island morning sun, the sea blazed diamond-bright and hard as crystal, erratic flashes spattering light across Daria’s swift departure from the house of her angry employer.

She carried all she owned in one oversized leather pouch, slung over her shoulder. The pouch was not heavy. A few worn tunics and robes, her precious copy of Thucydides. She clutched it to her side and put her other hand to the gold comb pinning the dark waves of her hair, her one remaining luxury.

The bitter and familiar taste of regret chased her from the whitewashed hillside estate, down into the squalid harbor district. Why had she not kept silent?

Along the docks hungry gulls shrieked over fishy finds and work-worn sailors traded shrill insults. The restless slap of the sea against the hulls of boats kept time with the anxious rhythm of her steps against the cracked gray stones of the quay.

She had run once, haunted and guilty to a fresh start in Rhodes. Could she do it again? Find a way to take care of herself, to survive?

“Mistress Daria!”

The voice at her back was young and demanding, the tenor of a girl accustomed to a world arranged to her liking. And yet still precious, still malleable.

“Mistress! Where are you going?”

Daria slowed, eyes closed against the pain, and inhaled. She turned on the sun-warmed dock with a heaviness that pulled at her limbs like a retreating tide.

Corinna’s breath came quick with exertion and the white linen of her morning robe clung to her body. The sweet girl must have run all the way.

“To the School of Adelphos, Corinna. I will seek a position there.”

Corinna closed the distance between them and caught Daria’s hand in her own. Her wide eyes and full lips bespoke innocence. “But you cannot! Surely, Father did not mean what he said—”

Daria squeezed the girl’s eager fingers. “It is time. Besides”—she tipped Corinna’s chin back—“you have learned your lessons so well, perhaps you no longer need the services of a tutor.”

Corinna pulled away, dark eyes flashing and voice raised. “You do not believe that, mistress. It is you who says there is always more to learn.”

They drew the attention of several young dockworkers hauling cargo from ship to shore. Daria stared them down until they turned away, then circled the girl’s shoulders, pulled her close, and put her lips to Corinna’s ear. “Yes, you must never stop learning, dear girl. But it must be someone else who teaches you—”

“But why? What did you say to anger Father so greatly?”

Only what she thought was right. What must be said. A few strong phrases meant to rescue Corinna from a future under the thumb of a husband who would surely abuse her.

Daria smiled, fighting the sadness welling in her chest, and continued her trudge along the dock toward the school. “I am afraid discretion is one of the things I have not yet learned, Corinna. Your father is a proud man. He will not brook a mere servant giving him direction in the running of his household.”

Corinna stopped abruptly at the water’s edge, her pretty face turned to a scowl. “You are no mere servant! You are the most learned tutor I have ever had!”

Daria laughed and looked over the sea as she walked, at the skiffs and sails tied to iron cleats along the stone, easy transportation to the massive barges that floated in the blue harbor, awaiting trade. Papyrus and wool from Egypt, green jade and aromatic spices from far eastern shores, nuts and fruits and oils from Arabia. Her eyes strayed beyond the ships, followed northward along the rocky Anatolian coast to cities unknown, riddles to be unraveled, secrets and knowledge to be unlocked. More to learn, always. And somewhere perhaps, the key to redeeming the past.

They approached and skirted the strange symbol of the isle of Rhodes, the toppled Helios that once stood so proud and aloof along the harbor and now lay humbled, its bronze shell speckled to an aged green, reflecting the impenetrable turquoise sky. The massive statue had lain at the quay for gulls to peck and children to climb for nearly three hundred years since the quake brought it down. Daria found it disturbing.

“May I still visit you at the school, Mistress Daria?”

She smiled. “One challenge at a time. First I must convince Adelphos that he should hire me.”

Corinna’s tiny sandals scurried to keep pace. “Why would he not?”

“It is not easy to be an educated woman in a man’s world of philosophy and rhetoric. There are few men who appreciate such a woman.”

“How could anyone not appreciate someone as good, as brave, as you?”

The child gave her too much credit. She was neither good, nor brave. She would not be here in Rhodes if she were. Though she was trying. The gods knew, she had been trying.

Corinna lifted her chin with a frown in the direction of the school. “I shall simply explain to Adelphos how very valuable you are.”

And how outspoken? Interfering? But perhaps the girl could help in some way.

“Will you demonstrate some of what I have taught you, Corinna?”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “Just wait, mistress. I shall amaze and delight that crusty old Adelphos.”

Daria studied the impetuous girl and bit her lip. But it was a chance she must take.

The School of Adelphos lay at the end of the docks, its modest door deceptive. Daria paused outside, her hand skimming the rough wood, and inhaled determination in the sharp tang of salt and fish on the breeze. Who would believe that such distinguished men as the poet Apollonius and Attalus the astronomer had studied and written and debated behind this door? Sea trade had kept Rhodes prosperous for centuries, but in the two hundred years under Roman control, the Greek island had grown only more beautiful, a stronghold of learning, of arts and sciences and philosophy.

Inside its most famous school, she blinked twice and waited for her sun-blind eyes to adjust.

“Daria!” Adelphos emerged from the shadows of the antechamber with a cool smile and tilt of his head. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was several years her senior, with the confident ease of an athlete, a man aware of his own attractiveness.

She returned the smile and straightened her back. “Adelphos. Looking well, I am pleased to see.”

He ran a gaze down the length of her, taking in her thin white tunic and the pale blue mantle that was the best of her lot. “As are you.”

“I have come to make you an offer.”

At this, his eyebrows and the corner of his mouth lifted in amusement and he gave a glance to Corinna, still at the door. “Shouldn’t we send your young charge home first?”

She ignored the innuendo. “My employ as Corinna’s tutor will soon come to an end, and I desire to find a place here, in your school. As a teacher.” She swallowed against the nervous clutch of her throat.

Again the lifted eyebrows, but Adelphos said nothing, only strolled into the lofty main hall of the school, a cavernous marble room already scattered with scholars and philosophers, hushed with the echoes of great minds.

She gritted her teeth against the condescension and beckoned Corinna to follow, with a warning glance to keep the girl quiet, but the child’s sudden intake of breath at the fluted columns and curvilinear architraves snapped unwanted attention in their direction, the frowns of men annoyed by disruptive women.

Adelphos disappeared into the alcove that housed the school’s precious stock of scrolls—scrolls Daria had often perused at her leisure and his generosity.

Daria spoke to his back. “Do you doubt my abilities—”

“What I doubt, my lady, is a rich man’s willingness to pay a woman to teach his sons.”

Daria waved a hand. “Bah! What difference does it make? I can do a man’s work just as well. And if they learn, they learn!” But a cold fear knotted in her belly.

Adelphos traced his fingertips over the countless nooks of scrolls, as if he could find the one he sought simply by touching its ragged edge. “And you, Daria? Do you want to live a man’s life as well as do a man’s work? What woman does not long for love and family and hearth?”

Her throat tightened at his words, too close to the secrets of her heart. Yes, she longed for those comforts. For a love that would accept her abilities, complement rather than suppress. But for now, for now she had no one and she must assure her own welfare.

She coughed to clear the dryness of her throat and stepped beside him, examined the great works of philosophy and literature, their tan Egyptian papyri wrapped in brown twine, sealed in waxy red.

Adelphos reached past her to a nook above her head, and his muscled arm brushed her shoulder.

The touch was intentional, clearly. Manipulative. Even so, his nearness left her breathless and her usual sharp-tongued wit failed. When she spoke, it was a harsh whisper, too raw with emotion, though the words emerged falsely casual. “And why should I not have both?”

At this, Adelphos huffed, a derisive little laugh, and turned to lean his back against the shelves and unroll the scroll he had retrieved.

“A woman of ambition. Does such a breed truly exist?” His gaze darted to hers. “But what am I saying? You have already wedded a husband, have you not?”

Daria pulled a scroll from its recess and pretended to study it.

“You are interested in the work of Pythagoras? That one is newly arrived from Samos.”

Daria shrugged. “I find his work repetitive. What new has he added to Euclid’s previous efforts?”

“Indeed.” Adelphos pulled the scroll from her hands and replaced it in its nook. “But you have not answered my question.”

“I am a widow, yes.”

“A widow with no sons. No dowry.” He glanced at Corinna, clutching the doorway. “And no employment. Is there anything more desperate?”

Daria lifted her chin and met his gaze. “It seems you are in an enviable position, then, Adelphos. You have found a skilled teacher, available for a bargain.”

Adelphos circled to Corinna, an appreciative gaze lingering on her youth and beauty. “And this is your prize specimen? The pupil of whom I have heard such wonders?”

The girl straightened and faced Adelphos with a confidence borne of knowledge. “Shall I demonstrate the superior skill Mistress Daria has given me with languages?”

Daria silently cheered and blessed the girl. “Corinna has been working hard to master the tongues of Rome’s far-flung empire.”

Adelphos’s brow creased and he opened his lips as if to speak, then sealed them and nodded once. No doubt he wanted to ask what use there might be for a girl who could speak anything but common Greek. As Daria herself was such a girl, the implicit question struck a nerve. She turned a shoulder to Adelphos and nodded encouragement to Corinna. “Let us hear Herodotus in the Classical first, then.”

The girl grinned, then gushed a passage of Herodotus in the proud language of her Greek forebears, the language of literature and poetry, before Alexander had rampaged the world and equalized them all with his common koine.

“And now in Latin, Corinna.”

The girl repeated the passage, this time in the tongue of the Romans, the new conquerors.

Adelphos tilted his head to study the girl, then spoke to her in Latin. “Anyone can memorize a famous passage in a foreign tongue. Few can converse in it.”

Corinna’s eyelashes fluttered and she glanced at her hands, twisted at her waist. When she answered, it was not in Latin, but in Persian. “Fewer still can converse in multiple languages at once, my lord.”

Adelphos chuckled, then glanced at Daria. “She does you proud, lady.”

A glow of pride, almost motherly, warmed Daria’s chest. “Indeed.”

Corinna reached out and gripped Adelphos’s arm, bare beneath his gleaming white tunic. “Oh, it is all Mistress Daria’s fine teaching, I assure you, my lord. I wish to be an independent woman such as she someday. There is nothing she cannot do.”

“Corinna.” Daria smiled at the girl but gave a tiny shake of her head.

Corinna withdrew her hand and lowered her eyes once more. “I have told my father this, but he does not understand—”

“Her father has been most pleased with her progress.” Daria tried to draw Adelphos’s attention. “He saw a superior mind there from an early age and was eager to see it developed.”

He waved a hand in the air. “I have seen enough. You may go.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lazy Birds

American Goldfinches have been more prevalent this week. I was hoping to find a feeder for them and the smaller birds so the food would last longer. The bigger birds (Cardinals, Blue Jays, Cowbirds) are wiping out the food in a couple of days!

I went out and purchased a tube feeder specifically for finches and a bag of special finch seeds but they are not interested in trying to work for their food. 

They like this feeder that is easy access.

Bunch of lazy birds!

My son has been telling me there was this huge bird in the yard. This big guy, a Brown Thrasher, was coming around but I never saw him. My son managed to snag this shot yesterday. It's not great with the bird feeder pole in the way but it was the best of the two before he flew away. He likes to eat the spilled seeds and leftovers from the feeder above.

What kind of feeders do you use? Any recommendations for the smaller birds? 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Review ~ The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

My Review 

~4 out of 5 stars~

Emma Smallwood accompanies her father, former owner and headmaster of Smallwood Academy, to Ebbington Manor to privately tutor the two younger sons of Sir Giles Weston. The two elder sons, Henry and Phillip, had attended and received their tutelage from Mr Smallwood but since then the boarding school has gone asunder.

In this almost gothic-like novel, there is ample distress and mystery surrounding Ebbington Manor. The mood is weighty and dark much of the time. While the characters are likeable for the most part, it takes some adjusting to the time period to understand consequences to certain actions. The two young sons are teenagers and their behavior is quite bizarre at times. Aristocratic families certainly had a different way of dealing with their wayward young. What may seem too lenient to me today, was most likely considered appropriate action back then.

I thought Emma could have been a more dynamic character although she is the epitome of a well bred lady so perhaps she is portrayed just as she should be. From early on, though, I couldn't see what she saw in Phillip. He appeared too soft to me. I was routing for Henry the whole time. Was I disappointed? I'm not telling.

This book is teeming with intrigue and mystery. Strange cries and piano playing in the middle of the night, mysterious notes appear in Emma's room while she's sleeping, and so much more! When it seems so obvious who the villain is, the story line switches to focus on someone else and you are left hanging....and wondering....and plotting. Who is the villain?! I believe it almost drove me crazy that I couldn't be sure. I usually figure these things out by the half way point but I was absolutely in the dark until the very end and completely taken by surprise with who the villain turned out to be.

It's an enjoyable read but not my favorite of Julie's books. I was expecting more of an Austenesque type story and less Bronte. Maybe a bit more romance too. I still recommend it for fans of Historical Fiction because it kept me turning the pages to answer that one question: Who is the villain?

Bethany House provided a copy for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book, which I have done. 

Do you read Historical Fiction? If so, who is your favorite author, past or present?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tuesday {Textures}

While the original photo was ok, I really wanted to bring out the  various tones in the wood and trees. So with some highlighting and application of a texture, I'm pleased with the final outcome. The colors are richer and complimentary, with a softer vintage feel.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of my neighbor's Dogwood Tree blossoming on our first teaser spring day. The skies were absolutely a gorgeous Carolina Blue and the breeze was warm. I love this one just the way it is...

but y'all know by now I am going to give it a go with a texture ;-)  

It reminds me of an old fashioned postcard with a dreamy feeling! I almost can't compare it with the original, there's such a difference to me.

What do you think?

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Short Review ~ A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

 One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues.
But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, attraction, dreams and faith only muddle her mind.
Can the light in the window illuminate the path of true love?

My Thoughts 
A Light in the Window is a charming prequel illuminating the beginning of Marcy and Patrick's romance. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop! I was mesmerized by the sparkling dialogue, the vivid spiritual content, the dazzling rogues ;) Julie Lessman never ceases to deliver a heart pounding, palm sweating, giggle inducing story.

Don't forget to read her other series' The Daughters of Boston(link to Book 1 but there are three in the series), Winds of Change(Trilogy) and the new 
Heart of San Francisco(Book 1). 

Have you read Julie's books? 

Happy St Patrick's Day {Mission minded}

Here are two great articles on the real Patrick:


Patrick: Missionary to Ireland 



Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hard hitting days

Some weeks are just tougher than others. My husband and I have felt an overwhelmingly new sense of sadness this week. It marked 10 months since our daughter, Amy, passed away. I know it's part of the grief process but it hurts. 
~ My soul aches ~ 
Tears flow daily. 

I am clinging all the more to the cross of Christ! 

Psalm 28:7 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
    and with my song I give thanks to him.

Our family deeply appreciates all of you who have held us up in prayer. 
You are a blessing to us.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Simply Delicious

Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; 
in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Textures used: 
Organic Paper 1 by Nancy Claeys
Downton Abbey Collection, Anna by Kim Klassen
Downton Abbey Collection, Edith by Kim Klassen

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To {Texture} or Not

The sky is a gorgeous Carolina blue with a few puffy white clouds and the rusty barn roof stands out against it. Couple that with the golden hues of the hay bales and the slight green tones in the grass and it makes a pretty picture.

Once the photography bug hits, it's impossible to be satisfied with just a plain old photograph, though. Not that this one isn't pretty. It's just not edited. Maybe it doesn't need editing. I'm no expert, so I can't really say. Sometimes, the simplicity of the shot is enough. 

But I am addicted to playing with textures now and every available (free) feature on Picmonkey. Soooo...for this week's Tuesday Muse at A Rural Journal, I am using the Desperado texture created by Nancy Claeys, and some of the cool features at PM to alter the above photo into the below photo :)

I'm undecided as to which one I like best. The top photo is appealing to me as it is full of light and life. But I like the edited version too. It has a nostalgic, vintage feel and that appeals to the historical lover in me. Plus, I think Nancy's texture adds some great dimension to the sky, almost making it roll, like in a storm.

What do you think? Just remember...I'm sensitive so be nice ;-)

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Review ~ Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can’t keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can’t help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

Author website:  Regina Jennings

Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

Along came Rosa; an unexpected pleasure to everyone around her.

Beautiful, sensual, vulnerable, and loyal; she bedazzles an upstanding widower upon meeting Westin Garner. And what a meeting it was! How many people could catch the eye of an eligible bachelor while wrestling an errant ewe to the ground? Rosa did.

As a recent widow, Rosa and her also recently widowed mother-in-law, Louise Garner, travel back to Texas from Rosa’s homeland of Mexico; both women determining to put sadness behind them and establish a new beginning on Garner family property; property that was left behind when Louise’s family followed the mining boom to Mexico. Unfortunately upon arrival, they discover that their renters have vanished and property taxes have mounted. The two Mrs. Garners have three short months to generate enough income to save their only means of livelihood.

Extended family comes to the aid of the two widows; giving them manpower and resources, but in spite of Rosa’s hard work and good business sense, the deadline arrives without the money being properly secured. In a moment very reminiscent of “Ruth and Boaz”, Louise sends her daughter-in-law to Westin Garner for help. The ensuing midnight encounter in a hay-filled barn has misconstrued results; sending a reluctant bride and determined groom to the altar. In spite of their growing friendship and obvious physical attraction to each other, the result is nearly disastrous. It takes a case of mistaken identity and Rosa’s near drowning for the new Mr. and Mrs. Westin Garner to acknowledge that their relationship is more than just “sixty acres and a bride”. It is a miraculous gift from God.

This is a well written book with many memorable scenes. The prologue in and of itself is fabulous. Those few, short paragraphs alone sent me spinning with curiosity. I was drawn into the story by page two. Rosa’s “la mariposa” dance in front of the Garner farm hands is both humorous and insightful. The sultry, teasing movements incite Westin’s embedded amorous feelings and his emotional eruption nearly brings them to “blows“. There are also tender moments which will bring a reader to tears; quiet, honest conversations by the river bank, soft declarations of desires, and Westin’s renewed vows to his wife, are all masterfully woven into the fabric of this understated romance.

Factor in unwanted advances from a neighbor, incessant jealousy from a would-be suitor, cruel discrimination towards Louise’s “dark-skinned” daughter-in-law, constant reminders of a loveless marriage, deep grief over the death of a spouse and an equally clever ending to a well-written beginning and . . . . . . . . . “Sixty Acres and a Bride” adds up to be quite an impressive debut novel.

Additional Comment: Congratulations Regina! I’ve also just read, “Love in the Balance”; what started as a “lightweight read” quickly turned into a “heavyweight story” and the ending will have me in tears just thinking about it, for months to come!  

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend Visitors {Unwelcome}

The weekend brought around a couple of unexpected and unwelcome visitors.

This crow, while not fully grown, was big enough to intimidate and frighten away the pretty birds that usually visit our feeders.  

Kim Klassen's Downton Abbey 'Anna' texture

And while I was taking this beautiful sunrise photo this morning...

Kim Klassen's Downton Abbey 'Violet' texture

I heard a noise in the trash can. Assuming it was a cat, 
I peeked over the edge of the deck and what do my eyes behold?!

An Opossum!!!

I don't like opossums. They kill my chickens. 
I ran inside to get my husband. No way was I messing with this ugly dude! 
The funny thing is, he didn't have enough room to flop on his side but he did stick his tongue out, fix his eyes on me, and stayed perfectly still! I guess he thought I'd fall for his wily trick of playing possum. *hehe* 


My DH kicked the trash can over and we let him go. Now to set the "real" trap, catch him and call Animal Control :-)

Life is never dull in rural NC.

How is it where you live? 
Anything exciting happen over the weekend?

Have a blessed day in the Lord!