Thursday, February 22, 2018

Book Review: A Song Unheard

It seems like a good amount of 20th century European historical novels take place during World War II.  Somehow, World War I doesn’t get the same amount of attention, so I was interested in Roseanna M. White’s novel, A Song Unheard
This novel takes place in 1914. Willa Forsythe is a talented young woman--in both playing the violin and thievery-- in London at the outbreak of the War. To help support her “family”, a close knit group of other street dwellers, Willa has begun to take on “jobs” that require the use of her thievery skills from the shadowy Mr. V. 
               When we meet Willa, she is about to take on another job, this time to Wales, to get close to the famous violinist Lukas De Wilde. Lukas’s father was a renowned cryptologist and Lukas has the key to his father’s work. Willa is supposed to find and steal the key, but she is not the only one that wants it. Neither does she know for sure who Mr. V is, and who stands to benefit from the key.
               Lukas was nearly killed in the German invasion of Belgium but has managed to escape to Wales. His mother and sister, however, are unaccounted for. He longs to reunite with his family, but doesn’t know if they are alive or dead but he will stop at nothing to find out their fate. 
               As Lukas and Willa meet, they begin to realize that things aren’t always what they seem, and that danger is around every corner.
               A Song Unheard is the second book in a series, and since I didn’t read the first book, I can’t comment on the continuity, but I enjoyed learning about the characters, and Europe in the time of the First World War, and while it started out a bit slow, it ended up being an enjoyable read with no shortage of adventure.
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in anyway.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


This is a test of my new site

Monday, February 9, 2015

February's Monthly Menu

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Last month I experimented with a monthly menu plan rather than my usual weekly menu plan. It actually worked pretty well--better than I was expecting, so I decided to plan a monthly menu for February as well. I know it's already the 9th, but we were gone all last week (more on that in another post), so I'll start with today and have 3 weeks to plan instead of 4.

I try to clean out my freezer regularly so I always keep things fresh, and here's what I plan to use from my freezer this month:

Pork Roast
Stew Beef
Salmon Filets

Fruit and Vegetables
Assorted Frozen Fruit

Homemade Precooked Meals 
Spanish Brown Rice
Spaghetti Sauce

In addition, we are getting about 18 eggs a week from our chickens, so I have one meal every week that uses eggs as the main protein. I just purchased some organic chicken breasts, organic ground beef, and bacon at Costco. What I don't use this week, I will put in the freezer for future meals.

Since I like having options, I've been planning 6 meals for the week, and choosing which day gets which meal depending on what I feel like, time, appointments, etc. One night a week I either prepare something simple (sandwiches, frozen pizza, leftovers, etc), or have take out.

February's Monthly Menu:

Week of 2/9-2/15

Week of 2/16-2/22
  • French Toast and Fresh Fruit
  • Spaghetti, French Bread, Green Salad
  • BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw, Chips
  • BBQ Shredded Pork with Coleslaw over Corncakes
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits (this is always better the next day!)

Week of 2/23-3/1

Sunday, February 1, 2015

11 Super Awesome Perks of Homeschooling

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I love homeschooling. I really, really do. We have chosen to homeschool our kids for several compelling reasons, and I'll admit it is a lot of work, but there are also some super secret awesome perks to homeschooling! Here's my list:  

1. No School Traffic. It's a little known fact that each time you get stuck in school traffic it takes approximately 47 seconds off of your life. I'm reducing my stress and my risk for a school traffic induced cardiac event by homeschooling.

2. I Have a Realllllly Good Excuse as to Why My House is Never Clean. (They're always with me...when would I have time to clean!?)

3. We Can Take Vacations in the Middle of the School Year. Since school started in our district last year, we've been to Connecticut, New York, San Francisco, and will soon take a road trip to Zion National Park. Traveling when other kids are in school is a huge benefit, and means cheaper hotel rooms and flights (not going during peak season), and less crowds.

4. We Can Sleep In. Waking Tater up out of a deep sleep is like waking up a hibernating bear. It starts the whole day on the wrong foot. Letting her sleep until she's ready to get up ensures no Tater Bear and we all live in harmony.

5. No Make Up Work. If Tater is sick, we wait until she's healthy enough to do studies. No racing against the clock trying to make up worksheets, and no risk of missing out on something.

6. Feeding My Book Addiction in the Name of Education. When I see a really cool world atlas at Costco, well, I have to buy it. You know, for school. Same thing for craft supplies. I have a craft supply problem. But it's for art class, so it's okay.

7. We Never Get an Email That Says: "The Whole Class Has Lice". My kids have good immune systems and are exposed to plenty of germs from doctor's offices (Junior has SO many appointments), playgrounds, neighbor kids, and sports, but we also have the option to isolate if we need to.

8. I Don't Have to Ask "What Did You Learn Today?" And, if she says "nothing", well, I'm more than happy to add some more work =)

9. We Can Do Schoolwork Outside. Or at the Beach. Or Basically Anywhere. We live in San Diego. If we want to sit outside on Wednesday at 10am and soak up the 74 degree sunshine, we can, and we can still get all our work done.

10. Field Trips. Legoland? Sure, let's talk about engineering. The Zoo? Okay, we'll talk about the habitats of animals. The park for a picnic? Help me measure out ingredients for our pasta salad...water boils at what temperature? Even with all the structured curriculum we use, there's still plenty of time for fun, educational outings. And I don't even need to sign a permission slip.

11. I Get More Time To Spend With My Babies.  As much as they exhaust me, I genuinely enjoy spending time with my kids. They're growing up so fast, and I'm grateful I get to spend my days with them.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Steadfast Heart

Cover Art 
You know when you go to your favorite restaurant, and you know exactly what you're going to order? You get your taste buds all primed and you start looking forward to eating your favorite dish. Then the waiter says "Sorry, we're out." So, you order something else, but because you were looking forward to the dish they were out of, the alternate meal just wasn't as satisfying?

This is how I felt reading Tracie Peterson's new book, Steadfast Heart which takes place in 1880s Seattle. The official synopsis speaks of Lenore Fulcher, a young socialite whose father wants to marry her off to a man nearly 20 years her senior. But, when Chicago lawyer Kolbein Booth wanders into town, Lenore realizes she has feelings for him and must convince him to court her so she won't be subject to her father's arrangement. This was supposed to be the main point of the book. But, alas, Lenore and her courtship took up a small percentage of the novel, which was more about the differing social classes within the city than about the young woman's protest at arranged marriage.

Steadfast Heart, while an easy and entertaining read, was more like 3 books in one, and none of the substories wrapped up in a satisfying way. There were many loose ends. The main character was really not Lenore Fulcher, it was red-headed orphan Abrianna, whose adoptive aunts run the bridal school that Kolbein happened into while searching for his runaway sister. Abrianna has a heart for the poor, and wanders out among the hardest streets in town ministering to the homeless and bringing them food. I liked Abrianna's character; she was funny and intelligent and the author's writing style allowed me to feel like I was there with Abrianna as she wandered through the streets.

I was frustrated that there were so many loose ends. For example, a character was importing sex slaves from China, but there was no resolution or justice, and no hint that he would ever even be caught. I understand this is the first book in a series, but you can't just write about something that serious and have nothing resolve by the end of the book. At the end of Steadfast Heart, Abrianna is starting to hope for a man to love, but there was no hint to the connection I was expecting. She was just left hanging. Lenore and Kolbein's relationship also left me wanting. There was no real character development between them, and their story seemed like a bit of an afterthought. 

I liked the writing style and the ability Ms. Peterson has to relay a character's personality and deep character through his or her words, but I was distracted by what I was expecting the book to be about and what the book was actually about, and also wished for more resolution on some of the loose ends.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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