Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: "Mine is the Night"

When you think of the origins of the story of "Cinderella", the book of Ruth may not be your first thought. However, this lovely little book, buried within the Old Testament, is one of the greatest stories of all time. It has a terrific climax, lots of action and the hero gets the girl. What more could you want-not to mention it is all true?

I had no idea when I picked up Liz Curtis Higgs' latest Scottish historical romance that she is even more enamored of the story than I am. "Mine is the Night" is the story of Ruth placed in a Scottish setting in the mid 1700s. And it does that amazing story no disservice. I have long loved Higgs' effortless writing style; 400+ pages is not a daunting prospect when I know that she will keep the story flowing.

Elisabeth Kerr is the Ruth of the tale. She is a widowed outsider who has followed her mother-in-law, Majory, back to Majory's hometown. It may seem difficult to picture a seamstress in Scotland in the 18th century as Ruth, but the book is part history lesson, part Bible teaching and completely entertaining. Even though I "knew" how it ended from the beginning I was more than willing to see how Higgs' would bring it all together. I was not disappointed.

Of all of Higgs' historical Scottish novels, I liked this one the best. It is a sequel to "Here Burns My Candle", which I have not had the opportunity to read. But it is not necessary to understanding or enjoying this novel. I did not feel that I was missing anything. I felt that I could connect to all the characters based solely on the information presented in this book. I developed a quick and easy connection to each person, I immediately grasped what Higgs' was conveying about them and they seemed real and likable.

Part of the fun of her books is the use of historical details, such as clothing, behavior and settings. She is a master at preparing a stage and moving her characters along. Knowing the story of Ruth well only made me appreciate this book more, it in no way diminished the drama of the tale. In my humble opinion, this book is perfect for a history lover, a Bible student, a romance enthusiast-or just anyone who reads!

Disclosure:I was provided a complimentary review copy of the book by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.

Please use the tool below to quickly and easily rank my review!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Update

We had a fun (and busy!) weekend. On Friday, we met up with some friends who are moving to Cheyenne for a last hurrah. I am bummed that they won't be able to just drop in on a Sunday night anymore, but we are planning fun get-togethers in Denver, and since they still have family in the area, hopefully we will get to see them more than once a year! On Saturday, Jocelyn was invited to a special birthday party-it included a visit to the American Girl store in Denver and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory! My sweet sister, Lisa Dawn, loaned Jocelyn her Samantha doll so that she would have an American Girl to take to the store. My mom was terrific and made sure it got here on time! Jocelyn was thrilled to get an ice-skating outfit for Samantha. We are planning on getting Josie her own doll for her 6th birthday, so I was very glad to see how much she loved everything. She has been playing with it non-stop since Saturday!

Next up was lunch. Josie thought the little doll highchairs the Cheesecake Factory had were so neat. Is she not the prettiest little girl ever? Her manners were impeccable, and I was so proud of what a sweet, charming little conversationalist she is. She is such a blessing and getting to spend some special time with just her was wonderful. Then on Sunday we celebrated another baby shower! I already showed you the mobile, and her are some not-so-great photos of the rest of the decor:

Sarah and I worked together again, and we make a really great team! She brought adorable cow patterned balloons that I don't have a photo of, but they were tied into a great garland with twine. We brought lots of farm themed animals, books and puzzles to help set them scene.

You can't read it but since the baby's name is Jacob, I printed out part of Psalm 24 that talks about the "God of Jacob"- I thought that was fitting. The vases are Starbucks frappachino jars- don't they look little milk bottles? The felt farmhouse and pig were from the Dollar Spot at Target! Love that place....

A really bad photo of all the food. I also forgot to take a photo of the great vintage tractor and wagon the hostess provided for the tea. Too cute! Sarah wrapped the forks in napkins and tied them with twine.That is what is in the little pails. I think it is the little touches that make it special.

The cupcakes were a huge hit! Thanks again, Family Fun for the great instructions! I only changed a couple of things from the original instructions- I used Twizzlers "Nibs" for the pig nostrils (sounds gross to say that about cupcakes, doesn't it?) and I didn't want to have to buy three rolls of Mentos to pick out the pink ones (which is what Family Fun suggested) so I swapped them out for white ones. I threw those together in 1/2 hour on Sunday afternoon and I was pretty happy with how they turned out. I think the guests of honor were pleased with our efforts and I deemed it a success.
This week is pretty hectic, too. We are squeezing in VBS planning sessions, playdates and car repairs before we leave for Washington. I actually think that being at my parents' will be relaxing after this whirl of gaiety! Oh wait, we will be working on my Dad's birthday party...maybe I can relax in July.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Merry Mobile

Never fear, if it ever seems that I do not have enough to do, I will find something else to put on my plate! This week I was already pretty busy, but our Sunday School class at church decided to have a last minute baby shower for one of our members. Well, after our success with the tiny baby shower in November, Sarah and I decided that (even with the extremely short notice) we could tackle this one.

I knew I wanted to make a banner, because I really loved the look of the other one. I also decided that it would be fun to do a "farm animal" theme- all the baby animals, and also the shower is for a boy. I really don't like traditional showers themes or colors (pale pink or baby blue). My initial thought was to go with a primary scheme again, but Sarah and I talked about it and we decided that going with red, black and white would make it feel a little more modern and tied together.

Other than the banner and the colors though, I wanted to have something that would be a focal point. For the tiny shower we used little pom-poms, but I didn't want a copy cat party. I was searching high and low on the 'net when I saw the perfect thing: a mobile! I can't remember where I saw it, and it was pretty simple, just circles hanging from a hoop. I thought, "I can do that". And I did!

First I went online and googled "farm animal coloring pages". I couldn't find animals that were more similar in size, I decided that it kind of added to the whimsy, right? As you can see, I cut the animals to make the silhouettes more simple. Also, I cut the chicken's beak out and moved it to the side, so you could really tell what it was. I did some trimming to the pig's ear, too.

I love the black, white and red! Supposedly those are very good colors for babies, because of the stark contrast. Since he has already arrived I thought this might be fun for him to look at after the shower is over. I used my print-outs to make templates out of cardstock. I initially thought it would be easier to print them straight onto the cardstock, but since I modified them it was easier with the paper (and a tiny bit cheaper!). I decided on doing 6 animals, two each of the cow, the pig and the chicken. I used 6 different scrapbook papers: three black and three red. I purchased all but one in the 6/$1 bin at Hobby Lobby. I also bought the embroidery hoop there that I used to hang them on. I forgot to take photos but I just used the inner ring of the set (the solid one) and painted it white. I used my 40% off coupon on that, so it was about $2. Total I spent $4 ($1 for paper, $2 for the hoop and $1 for the ribbon). Super thrifty, right?

I used my cardstock templates to trace the animals on folded scrapbook paper. I used it "wrong side" because it was easier to see the outlines, and I doubled the paper so I could cut out both sides at the same time and the animals would match up perfectly.

Then I glued ribbon to one piece of cardstock and covered the wrong side with rubber cement. Then I sandwiched the ribbon in between the two pieces of paper.

I decided that I wanted something to contrast with the animals so I cut out three different sizes of circles. I made 6 each of the 3 different sizes and I ended up using 17 of them! Like my lovely circle stencils? Make do or do without! They worked really well. Then I randomly glued the circles onto ribbon in sets of two or three. I ended up with seven strands of circles, and six strands of animals. I took three pieces of ribbon and glued them equidistant apart on the hoop to form a hanger.

My ingenious husband had the idea of hanging the mobile from a hanger on the fan so I could tie the strands on to see how they fit. When I was happy with the arrangement I got out my trusty glue gun (Joel set up an extension cord so it reached to the middle of the living room!) and glued them on. I also covered the outside of the hoop with black ribbon so it looked more polished. When I was setting up the strands I realized that using my 7th strand of circles put two circle strands side by side. That looked funny. Joel suggested hanging it from the center and I loved it! I also embellished some of the circles by gluing buttons to them.

The finished product! It actually is cuter in person. It is so cheerful and it really looks modern. I am thinking about making one for the kids' room. It is just paper but it really gives a great three dimensional aspect to things. I even like it hanging in my living room! Just kidding...

This is a closer picture of the top, you can see how I covered it with the black ribbon. Also, you can see a couple of the buttons on the circles.
You can see all the animal shapes here.

This is a close-up of one of my favorite cows. I would say that this took me about 4 hours total, but it was really worth the effort. Besides, it was so inexpensive to purchase the supplies I didn't mind spending a lot of time on it. I really hope the guests of honor enjoy it. I will post pictures of the shower after Sunday!


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