Thursday, December 31, 2009

my bookshelf 2009

here are the books i read in 2009. i have highlighted in red my favorites of the year. those with a (+) are books i enjoyed and would recommend; with a (-) were disappointing.

(*) The Help by kathryn stockett ~ this was a fabulous way to end my year of books. i loved this book! what a fresh and interesting look at race relations in the south during the volatile years of the emerging civil rights era. tragic and sad and yet with glimpses of love and respect. her characters were real, memorable, and brave.

(+) Three Cups of Tea by greg mortenson ~ great story of perseverance. i loved the message of respect and relationship building. this story would be a true winner in my list if mortenson had an element of Christian faith to his mission instead of bowing to allah in order to gain entrance into a closed culture.

(+) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by barabara kingsolver ~ enjoyable book about eating fresh and locally grown food. now i am itching to plan and plant my spring garden!

(+) Crazy Love by francis chan ~ very thought provoking and challenging.

(*) The Book Thief by markus zusak ~ this author has an incredible way with words. he has crafted a very unique story told from a surprising view point.

(*) The Patriot by pearl s. buck ~ for some reason i am just taken with pearl s. buck! it is not that i have a fascination with asian culture, because really, i don't. i just love the way she tells a story and draws the reader into the lives of her characters. this historical fiction is set in china during the communist revolution and contrasts old ideas with new; china with japan. a very interesting read.

(+) Seventh Day by bodie thoene ~ some in this series are better than others, but over all, i recommend the "a.d. chronicles" and its insight into the culture and biblical figures during the time of Christ.

(*) Girl in Hyacinth Blue by susan vreeland ~ an interesting collection of short stories which work backward in time all tied together by a beautiful masterpiece.

(-) A Bridge for Passing by pearl s. buck ~ a nonfiction account of the author's grief after the loss of her husband. i did not enjoy it as i enjoy her fiction.

(*) Agnes Grey by anne bronte ~ i love those bronte girls. :o)

(-) Letter from Peking by pearl s. buck ~ one of the few titles from buck that is not set in china. this particular book did not touch me the way her others have.

(+) Straight Up by lisa samson ~ i have enjoyed every one of lisa samson's books!

(+)Tiger Lily by lisa samson

(+) Sixth Covenant by bodie thoene

(+) Fifth Seal by bodie thoene

(-) The Other Boleyn Girl by philippa gregory ~ i was not impressed with the morals of the royals. this was a little too trashy for my taste.

(-) A Respectable Trade by philippa gregory

(*) The Church Ladies by lisa samson ~ i reread this favorite of lisa samson's and enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

(-) Where You Once Belonged by kent haruf ~ i like the author's style and really enjoyed his other books Plainsong and Eventide, but this story was not as good, in my opinion, and i hated the ending.

(*) Home by marilynne robinson ~ robinson has such a gentle and thoughtful way of examining relationships. the plot is rather slow, but the character development is excellent.

i have also been perusing some interesting cookbooks this year! i find they make good reading as well as good eating. Nourishing Traditions by sally fallon and Hearth and Home by karey swan are two books which have been shaping my views on food and healthy eating.

happy reading everyone. feel free to pop in with a comment and give me your recommendations for my 2010 bookshelf!

everyday gift: my bookshelf

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a shepherd's Christmas

you know your husband loves you when he will give up his saturday to drive an hour and a half to pick up your Christmas gift... a ram! this is our new shetland. isn't he a beauty? his fleece is very nice, actually a pearly taupe color if you were to look beneath the lighter tips. he is very tame and hopefully, will give our ewes a springtime of new lambs.

since i have become a shepherd, i have fresh outlook on the Christmas story. so after church on Christmas eve, i had an inspired idea. we'll all go out to the barn and read the story of Jesus' birth by lantern light with the sheep. i imagine the sweet smell of hay, the warm glow of the lantern light, and the gentle presence of our woolly little sheep. i had it partially right. the kids and hubby go along with my plan even though it is pouring rain, cold, and windy. we can't find the camping lanterns so we use our largest flashlights. the wind is blowing out of the south right into the 3 sided shelter of the shed.

yes, the shed smells of the sweet hay... and other things. the animal shelter is not quite as cozy and romantic as i imagined it would be on a Christmas eve. the animals look at us as if to say, "what in the world are you doing here now?" the wind blows damp and cold and the kids say, "hurry! read the story!" they are anxious to get back into the house, next to the fire with a mug of hot cocoa. so by flashlight i read the familiar story in luke,

"...and she gave birth to her first born, a son.
She wrapped him cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn. ..."

i was feeling a little bit disappointed. it was not exactly the lovely Christmas memory maker i had hoped for... but then i realized, that must have been what mary and joseph felt as well, thinking, "was this the way Messiah should enter the world?" and all of Israel looking for a regal king of military might to come and rescue them from rome instead of the gentle savior who grew up to die in our place; to rescue us from the ultimate enemy: sin.

we have made the manger of luke chapter 2 a little too comfortable. the truth is, animal sheds are drafty and smelly, filled with more than sweet smelling hay. it reminds me a little bit of my own heart... where you'll find more than just sweet smelling love, and yet Jesus humbles himself to dwell there as well.

Jesus humbled himself and set aside his deity to become human with all that goes with it.

"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death - even death on a cross."
Philippians 2:6-8

the miracle of Christmas ~ God become man ~ for my sake.

oh, my soul. kinda makes my ridiculous pride so... so... well... ridiculous.

forgive me, Lord Jesus. make me humble like you.

perhaps our Christmas eve outing was, in fact, very appropriate after all.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you!

everyday gift: the Christmas manger

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

hand spun christmas

a basket of handspun skeins by members of the guild

B and i belong to the local weaving and spinning guild. i joined several years ago when we began raising sheep. these women have been such a wealth of knowledge, teaching me to spin and reintroducing me to weaving. B is a jr. member and is eager to learn to spin as well. i am so tickled that i have a daughter who shares so many interests with me.

(these pictures were taken on the day we helped decorate a room in the historic home where the guild meets. this mansion is kept open to the community for meetings and events. and at Christmas time the halls are decked for an open house. it is a lovely setting for our meetings.)

B learned to make these adorable little yarn doll at a swedish festival
and she has gone into production!
this one is made with my hand spun wool.

a miniature skein of hand spun shetland wool to decorate the tree

everyday gift: hand spun ornaments

Monday, December 21, 2009



1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

cream butter in with an electric mixer and add the sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar. beat in egg and vanilla until combined. mix in flour. cover dough and chill about 1 hour.

combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture to coat. place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

bake at 375* for 10 minutes. transfer to a wire rack to cool.

everyday gift: baking Christmas cookies with B

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


when it comes to decorating i'm a "natural" or mark might say i am a little bit "off the beaten path", to put it nicely! but i don't care. i love my branch window covering with its little nest.

everyday gift: a bit of the woods brought into my kitchen

wintery view

one of the things i love about living in the country
is the view from my window.
i love to watch the seasons change as God changes
the colors on his pallet
and paints everything new.

everyday gift: admiring the snow from the warmth of my home

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

a peek into B's room

cotton clouds over dancing green meadows
and dreams of horses decorate B's room

B loved sponge painting the clouds on her wall

everyday gift: a room of her own