Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real Artists Don't Starve, a review

In this latest book by Jeff Goins, subtitled "Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age", the author opens with new research that breaks apart a myth.  That being that Michelangelo was not a starving artist.  In fact, the new research shows he became quite wealthy in his work as an artist.

This is just the beginning as he challenges other myths creative people tend to believe.  In story after story, he shares how creatives from all over the world were able to make a living doing what they love.  Whether we use a pen or a paintbrush, whether we sculpt or we make jewelry, whatever talent we have been given can be an occupation.

This book is one you will probably want to read through quickly and then keep on hand for inspiration, perhaps marking favorite sections to come back and reread later.  The sections include:

Part 1: Mind-set
You Aren't Born an Artist
Stop Trying to Be Original
Apprentice Under a Master
Harness Your Stubbornness

Part 2: Market
Cultivate Patrons
Go Join a Scene
Collaborate with Others
Practice in Public

Part 3: Money
Don't Work for Free
Own Your Work
Diversify Your Portfolio
Make Money to Make Art

Conclusion: Join the New Renaissance

I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs inspiration, whether to read stories of people with your same passion or just the reminder that making art is a real career.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a review

The subtitle of this book by Eugene Peterson is, "A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed By the Words of God", which drew me in immediately. I had appreciated past books by the author but this one caught my attention when I found out it was a compilation of sermons. 

If Peterson, who has mentored so many pastors throughout the years, has put together a book of his hand chosen sermons, I was curious just what these sermons were about.  I wasn't at all disappointed. In fact, it could easily be said that this book has a place on the shelves of any serious Christian who wants to know not just more about God... but to understand how knowing God helps him relate to the world around him.

This is not a book most people would pick up and read through at one time.  I had already decided to read one sermon from each section to be able to give a good review.  I started reading the first sermon from the 1960s and found it necessary to read again, and again, and didn't make it to another sermon in that reading.  For the content was so rich with answers to current questions that it needed some serious attention.  Yes, this book had me at the first sermon.

The contents are divided as follows, with each Part containing seven sermons:
  • Part 1: "He Spoke and it Came to Be", Preaching in the Company of Moses
  • Part 2: "All My Springs are in You", Preaching in the Company of David
  • Part 3: "Prepare the Way of the Lord", Preaching in the Company of Isaiah
  • Part 4: "On Earth as it is in Heaven", Preaching in the Company of Solomon
  • Part 5: "Yes and Amen and Jesus", Preaching in the Company of Peter
  • Part 6: "Christ in You the  Hope of Glory", Preaching in the Company of Paul
  • Part 7: "In the Beginning Was the Word", Preaching in the Company of John of Patmos

I have noticed this book seems to be marketed to pastors but it should be for everyone.  If anyone needs to hear and read good sermons, it is the person in the pew.  The writing is rich and deep and I'll be keeping this book out to read a sermon at a time for many weeks.

This book was provided by the publisher through Blogging For Books but the opinions are my own. 

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Standing on the ancient paths

Thus says the Lord: stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, 
where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  
Jeremiah 6:16

My sister recently picked up the antique container, admiring the greenery and "berries" it now holds.  She looked at me and asked if I realized this container is probably the oldest object in my house?  I knew it was old but not that old!  The container looks like wood but it is made of multiple layers of paper using a pressing process which is at least from the 1800s.

She had given it to me many years earlier and to be honest, it had been stored in a dark corner as I admired it but wasn't sure what to do with it.  I love primitive items and she had come by this one when she was still an antique dealer.  It wasn't until I saw some photos in primitive decorating magazines that I knew exactly what the container needed and wallah... something old and honestly not that attractive was turned into Beauty and now sits in a place of honor in my living room.

I do love old things... old furniture, old accessories, old books, old houses.  I love places to visit such as Old Sturbridge Village and Colonial Williamsburg.  I love learning about history and books by people who lived long ago.

If you read this blog on the Home Page, you will have often seen the Bible verse which is shown above under the photo.  For each and every day it has a place on the sidebar, one of my life's verses I live by.

Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and what will happen?  We find rest for our souls.

When I was a young Christian, I kept most of my non-Bible study reading in the Old Testament.  Having not been raised in a Christian home and vaguely knowing the Bible at all, I was fascinated with the old old stories.  With the people who lived and worked and loved and hated and went to war and made peace and sinned like everyone else... and they were in the Bible!  Amazing.

It was during this time in my life that I had to make a decision.  Did I believe the Bible was True or was it just a bunch of stories told through the millenia, not unlike the fairy tales I had read in my childhood.   I decided it was Truth from Genesis verse one to the Maps.  Truth.  That, my friends,  has made all the difference.  I chose to follow the Ancient paths.

For many years, I read mostly books and heard lectures by modern Bible believing authors.  They were just what I needed as I learned about the basics of the Christian life.  For we do begin with the milk of the Word and slowly grow deeper as we build that foundation of Truth.  We need the basics before tackling the meat of the Word.

It wasn't long before I realized that I wanted to read what those people I respected were reading.  God had blessed me with very good teachers who read deeply and well.  I read Francis Schaeffer and understood a little.  I read Edith Schaeffer and understood a lot.  As I grew older and matured in my thinking, I have almost caught up with Francis and can now understand most of what he writes.  Not all.  He is gifted in areas which I am not.

Many of the author's names I am sorry to say I have forgotten but I do recall reading Paul Tournier, whom my pastor admired very much.  I think I even met him when he was in the U.S. and spoke at our church.  You must understand, I was in my late teens at the time and now I am... older. I know there were some questions about his theology later but he certainly blessed me at the time (and I can't recall what the questions are at the moment).

I read less theological and more practical authors who taught me how to live every day as a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother.  Women I've mentioned before such as dear Edith, Emilie Barnes, Elisabeth Elliot, and Catherine Marshall.  Later I read Elizabeth George's inspiring books about living for Christ, beginning with A Woman After God's Own Heart.  Once again, as I read I paid attention to who these women admired and had learned from... and sought out those books.

There came a time when I was introduced to C. S. Lewis and perhaps he, more than any other writer, caused me to realize that our Christian life did not appear out of nowhere at the time of our salvation.  For it is built on the shoulders of those who have walked with Christ for centuries upon centuries.

When Lewis talks about the Ancient ways... he means the a.n.c.i.e.n.t. ways.  He taught me that those who lived long ago built the foundations that the Church stands on today and it is a good idea to read their works.  It was also through Lewis that I came to understand one can learn just as much through reading fiction than in books about theology.  Perhaps more.

As I find new authors, I tend to also come face to face (so to speak) with even more who have lived and worked and written long ago.  For instance, it was through reading books by John Piper that I learned about Jonathan Edwards, one of my very favorite people to read about.  I had heard of Edwards before, briefly in one or two paragraphs of history books.  However, in those pages he was nothing like the person I discovered.

As I wanted to learn more about this amazing man and his family, Noel Piper's book Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God recommended Marriage to a Difficult Man (an all time favorite biography) and I learned so much about him and his family.  Through learning about him, I came to know more about George Whitefield and the affects of the First Great Awakening upon the events that led up to the American Revolution.  Something, of course, I never read about in high school history books.

Through books by Eric Metaxas, I learned more about how faith inspired Bonhoeffer, as well as Wilberforce.  Through learning more about Wilberforce, I learned about Hannah More and the biography of her life called Fierce Convictions (also an excellent biography).  Mostly everyday heroes of the faith doing great things for Christ.

There are so many people who have walked before us that we can learn from.  Just last night, I was reading sermons by Eugene Peterson and found in a sermon he wrote in the 1960s, a truth that was needed at the moment.  Peterson, who has been influenced by those who walked before him, who has been a mentor to many in the ministry through the years, and now is in old age... inspiring me.

We need to grow quiet, away from distractions, and look to the Ancient Paths. In the stories of the Patriarchs in Genesis, the poetry of the Psalms, the writings of the men who walked with Jesus and turned the world upside down before becoming martyrs, to the first and second and third and thereafter century pillars of the Faith, to the men and women today who write Truth.

Mentioned in this Post
A Woman After God's Own Heart... info here.
Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God... here.
Marriage to a Difficult Man... info here.
Fierce Convictions... info here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Slowly restocking the basics

A few months ago, I moved some cookbooks and the wheat grinder from the bottom shelf of the bookshelf (shown above) to other places in order to store more of my basic cooking and baking items all together in the red bookshelf.  This set of shelves was first in my husband's boyhood room holding books, then in our various homes holding books or homeschool supplies, and now for over ten years it has been in our kitchen.

This is where I store basic grains, baking items, beans, etc. that I use all the time.  I like the way I can see when I need to restock most items when they are about half full.  I do have extra flour in a bottom kitchen cabinet and extra oats elsewhere because I use so much of both.

Oh, off to the right are the two containers that contain wheat and a Rubbermaid style container that photo bombed the post only because I had washed the lid and was waiting for it to dry.  The gallon size glass jar on the bottom right shelf holds a Sam's Club size bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the half gallon size Ball jar next to it holds a Sam's Club size bag of milk chocolate chips. 

I have to budget each month for pantry basics, rotating purchases according to need.  This month I refilled the milk chocolate chips jar as I wanted to make a batch of my favorite cookie dough.  All of the cookie dough is placed on cookie sheets, two to bake for immediate gratification.  (I wanted to make some ice cream sandwiches with them.) The remainder scooped out and placed close together on a parchment paper covered half sheet and flash frozen to be transferred into Ziploc bags to have ready for baking.

One of the unexpected benefits of having the glass jars where I see them all the time in the kitchen was realizing what I was not using.  It's easy to forget a bag or two pushed to the back of the pantry but now I see the items and either use them or discard after awhile and use the jar for something else.  For instance, I had bought Jasmine rice for a recipe last year and it has been on the shelf untouched since then.  I need to either try that recipe or give valuable shelf space to another item.

I do still keep backup items in large Rubbermaid style containers in the garage.  For instance, I have two large bags of converted rice in such a container, extra pasta, noodles, etc.   I'll be honest, I haven't looked at the pasta for awhile so I'm thinking it is time to begin throwing away and replace what wasn't used with what I actually need.  Once again, Hubby brought it home from the food pantry when he used to go and these were all kinds I didn't use.  Sigh.  That was a lesson learned.

This week, I also looked through the antique yellow "pantry" in the kitchen, throwing away a few items I knew were way past date.  I can't believe it has been a few months already since I went through them in late winter.  

When I looked on the lazy Susan where I keep spices and jars of baking powder, extracts, etc., for baking, I realized I'd forgotten to buy baking soda since I last looked and there wasn't much left.  It goes on the grocery list.  I checked the date on the baking powder last time so I know it is still good but it will be replaced in the Fall. 

Last month, I purchased extra cans of organic tomatoes and a few kinds of organic beans when Kroger had them on sale.  So this month I could purchase other items at Sam's Club.  Next month I will check what is most needed at that time. 

My "little at a time" way of doing things even works in the kitchen!  ;)

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe which I tweaked from two other recipes when the kids were at home... here.

This is a very interesting article about America's Food Supply (and why it is important to have a home pantry!)... here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Talk: May to Mid-June

Book Talk posts are a place to chat about my recent reading, not including review books since I have written about them already.  Today I make one exception as I include The Turquoise Table, it has remained on the coffee table with the rest of my current reading.

Due to a heavy review schedule, there are only three non-review books to chat about but they are all great books.  All are highly recommended additions to your reading list.

The Broken Way is the new book by Ann Voskamp.  The subtitle is "A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life".  Like Ann's other writing, this book is full of personal stories which talk to us about the subject of suffering.

As usual, Ann shares her own stories of suffering and the trials good friends are going through.  It is a conversation about God and knowing Him through the very hard times of life.  I have found it difficult to follow her writing when it is quite poetic (for some reason, my brain doesn't process some poetry, either) but I like the way this was more of a "telling of stories".

As I was reading it, I thought of many people who would benefit by this book.  It does not answer why God allows trials and suffering but it does share the stories of how God has used suffering in real life situations.

I wasn't sure if I'd like At Home in the World, Tsh Oxenreider's new book about their world travels with the kids, for I have never enjoyed traveling.  Getting there... yes.  Traveling... no.  However, I knew I had to read it.  First, because I had followed their travels on her blog and second, because readers I trust raved about it.

What I didn't expect was that this book will definitely go on my Favorite Books of 2017 list!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading each chapter.  Tsh's writing made me feel I was on the trip as she came to doubt beginning their travels in Beijing because it was such a culture shock, experiencing unusual food, arriving many late nights to a guest house that could be a surprise or a delight, and the people they met along the way.

The countries traveled were China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Germany, and England.

While this book did not make me want to pack my suitcase and leave on a jet plane, it did make me feel like I had traveled with them as they saw new sights and met with both old and new friends.  I highly recommended it for good summer reading!

A Year of Picnics is subtitled "Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors".  I already had this book on my Amazon Wish List before it was published because I have loved other books by Ashley English.   I was going to add it to an order eventually but something happened to make that decision sooner.

If you follow Ashley on Instagram (@smallmeasure), you will have been following the story of their second son who was born three months early and has spent the past 70 days in NICU.  His birth was the day after the publication date of this book and when asked what people can do to help, Ashley said that purchasing the book would be a huge help to the family.

My first son was born too early and lived only half an hour so I have a special place in my heart for preemies.  I'm thrilled at how far technology has come and this little guy is doing great.  It was also a good excuse to move the book higher up on my priority list.

First of all, the book is filled with beautiful photos, ideas, and recipes for various kinds of picnics.  One thing she does well in her similar books is to provide enough ideas and recipes for each theme that almost anyone can find ideas.  They can be helpful even when the closest you come to a picnic is to throw an old quilt on the floor.

Chapters include: Breakfast Picnic, Bird-Watching Picnic, Table to Farm Picnic, Into the Woods Picnic, Children's Picnic, Waterside Picnic, Lunch Break Picnic, Sacred Tree Picnic, Ephemerals Picnic, Afternoon Tea Picnic (my favorite, of course!), Romantic Picnic, Movie Night Picnic, Falling Leaves Picnic, High-Altitude Picnic, Coffee Break Picnic, Tailgate Picnic, Rooftop Picnic,
Around the World Picnic, Twilight Picnic, and Winter Picnic.

If you should choose to purchase this book, I believe you will enjoy it very much and you will be helping the English family as they face rising medical bills.  It is a win-win!  This book remains on my coffee table.

I am including The Turquoise Table, even though it was a review book I've written about already.  It stayed on my current reading stack as I would pick it up and reread sections from time to time.  I love the idea of building community in a neighborhood by putting a picnic table in your front yard (whether it is turquoise or not).

While it wouldn't work where I live in the country, there are enough ideas in the book to inspire ways even I can show more hospitality and build community.  It also has good recipes.  Another reason to love it.  I'll eventually send this on to my daughter but in the meantime, it is still on my coffee table.

I already have two new review books to read but I'll definitely be sharing some favorites next month!


The Broken Way... purchase info here.

At Home in the World... purchase info here.

A Year of Picnics... purchase info here.

The Turquoise Table... purchase info here.
Original review... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible, a review

Although this study Bible has kids in the title, it could be appreciated by anyone from late elementary age children to their grandparents.  The Bible will provide an excellent addition to a child's resource library or a good start to a collection of resource material.

Each page has study notes on the wide margins, which are easy to read.  These wide margins do make the font of the actual Bible text to be very small by necessity.  That is my only problem with this Bible.  However, I wouldn't advise using it as a primary Bible, anyway.  There would be too many distractions for simply reading the text but as an addition to an easy to read Bible, this is invaluable.

The features of this study Bible include:
  1. Over 700 four-color photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps.
  2. Book introductions, including important facts and an image to orient the reader.
  3. One-column format with sidebar study notes.
  4. Index to maps and infographics.
  5. Full-color design.
  6. Presentation page.
  7. Ribbon marker.
  8. Complete text of the New International Version translation of the Bible

I would definitely recommend this study Bible as a resource for any child who is a good reader, as well as their parents and other adults.  It makes learning more about the Bible enjoyable.

The NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further purchase information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.