Thursday, November 27, 2014

Change How You Look at Being Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! For today's blog post, I was hoping to share with you a bunch of responses from my Facebook friends on what they are thankful for this year. Instead, I only got two responses to my Facebook post:

"Thankful for the health of my family and a fun work environment!"

"My family. Don't know where I'd be without them!"

(Great responses, by the way!!)

At first I thought, "Well, maybe people aren't thankful for anything this year!!" Then I thought, "Well, maybe people are having a hard time feeling thankful due to certain circumstances in their lives." We all go through hard times. Some of those hard times are longer than others, and it can be difficult to find the good.

But I recently read something online that made me change the way I look at being thankful. No matter what is happening in our lives, we can always be thankful that God is near. This post from Relevant magazine is all about about redefining gratitude and it totally spoke to me:
Most of us have been there. Sometimes, when I was down about things, someone would say, “Be thankful. There are so many people who are worse off.” I know it was well intended, but it made me feel guilty and ashamed, so I hid those parts of me that suffered. 
That doesn’t sit right with me anymore. In my journey to heal, I’m experiencing a new freedom and intimacy with God that comes from confiding in my wounds and fears. 
I don’t think God wants to guilt us into feeling better about our struggles because others are suffering more. 
Jesus didn’t say to the blind man, “Be thankful you can walk.” Jesus had compassion for each person’s plight and condition, never comparing.
If you're feeling sad or scared about something, but you don't feel like anyone around you understands, you can be thankful that Jesus lets you feel those emotions. You can be thankful that Jesus loves every part of you, even those parts that are sad and broken. You can be thankful that you can always turn to Jesus to carry you through the hard times, no matter how long it takes you to get through them.

Hopefully reading that article will change the way you think about "thankfulness" and realize that you do have some things to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How to Use Laser Cut Scrapbook Overlays

I don't usually use what I think are called laser cut scrapbook overlays, but my mom gave me one a few months ago for scrapbooking the pictures I took at last year's Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze. It looked like there was space for two pictures, but I had lots more pictures to showcase, so I wanted to share with you how I turned one laser cut scrapbook overlay into a two-page layout.

I just traced the overlay onto another piece of scrapbook paper, and then ever so carefully cut it out. This is definitely something that is easier to do if you have small scissors!

Here's the first original page:

And then here is page two, the page that I traced:

I actually wanted it to be the mirror image of the first page, but I realized I didn't trace it the right way, and then I was just too lazy to go back and do it again.

I added some Martha Stewart Halloween stickers as embellishments. Kind of fitting seeing as how Martha Stewart endorses the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze!

Have you guys used scrapbook overlays like this before? How did you use them?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Power of God's Names - Review

God has many names. Did you know that? Reading the Bible in English, you don't really get a sense of the variety of descriptive words used by the original authors. But Tony Evans' book The Power of God's Names introduces you to 14 of these names and what they mean for taking your relationship with God further.

Understanding who God is - creator, provider, healer, master - helps us trust in God no matter what our situation. God is multi-faceted. There's a lot we don't know about Him. But there's a lot we do know based on the words the writers of the Bible used to describe Him.

But it's more than just recognizing these aspects of God. It's about embracing them and using them to draw closer to God and accepting His help.

To paraphrase Jay-Z, you've got 99 problems, and there's a God name for each one.

The Power of God's Names is published by Harvest House Publishers and is on bookstore shelves now. I picked up a free review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - November 24

Time to eat! Thanksgiving (or Turkey Day, as some like to call it) is in just a few days! I'm prepared (and hoping) for more leftover stuffing so we can make more stuffing fritatta! I'll definitely be sharing that recipe with you later!

Sunday: tacos

Monday: grilled cheese and soup

Tuesday: pancakes and eggs

Wednesday: on our own


Friday: pasta

Saturday: out

Friday, November 21, 2014

Euphoria - Book Review

In the 1930s, three anthropologists, Nell, Fen, and Bankson, are exploring the indigenous tribes of the Territory of New Guinea in Lily King's novel Euphoria. Nell and Fen (an American and an Australian) are married and trying to have a baby in the midst of living in the jungles and studying and befriending the native peoples. Bankson (a Brit) is exploring and studying on his own, which makes him want to kill himself, but meeting up with Nell and Fen revives him. He is eager to have their company, Nell's in particular.

Unfortunately, tensions among the three of them begin to arise. Fen resents the success of Nell's books and how easy she and Bankson seem to get along and think alike. He has his own idea of how to achieve published success, but he doesn't take into account what it might cost him.

This is a really beautifully written story about love and passion (passion for people and for knowledge) in a remote and sometimes unknown setting. The story is told through the eyes of Bankson and through Nell's diary entries, which is a really nice juxtaposition.

While a work of fiction, the story is inspired by the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead and her few months together with Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson in 1933 on the Sepik River of what was then called the Territory of New Guinea. Definitely makes me want to read more about these real people.

Euphoria is published by Atlantic Monthly Press and is on bookshelves now. I picked up a free review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top 10 Gifts for Book Lovers - Holiday Gift Guide

How could I, a book reviewer, NOT include books in my holiday gift guide? So far this year, I've read 67 books. (Not my best year, actually.) I decided to pick my top 10 books for book lovers out of all the books I've read in 2014. Hopefully, my list contains something for every type of reader. Check it out and see for yourself!

(Links take you to my reviews of the books on GoodReads. If we're not GoodReads friends already, let's be friends!)

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Perfect for: people who have the patience to get through 550 pages, people who saw the movie, all people

2. Before I Go to Sleep - S.J. Watson
Perfect for: people who plan on seeing the movie (Nicole Kidman! Colin Firth!), people who like thrillers

3. Bringing Up Bebe - Pamela Druckerman
Perfect for: new parents - moms especially

4. Returning to Shore - Corinne Demas
Perfect for: teen girls who aren't into all that mushy romance nonsense, real girls

5. The Final Silence - Stuart Neville
Perfect for: people who like thrillers, people who like detective novels

6. Soldier of Change - Stephen Snyder-Hill
Perfect for: activists, gay rights supporters, people on the fence about supporting gay rights (if you're feeling bold in your gift-giving)

7. Falling from Horses - Molly Glass
Perfect for: people who appreciate great literature, a grandparent who might remember the 1930s

8. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe - Chris Taylor
Perfect for: Star Wars fans, of course, and anyone who enjoys reading about how movies get made

9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain
Perfect for: introverts, people who need to understand how introverts can contribute even though introverts might not be talking

10. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Perfect for: people looking for a good book club discussion

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2-Page Layouts & Kit Copying

I decided to try my hand at copying another scrapbook kit. This time I went for another Scrapbook & Cards Today kit. Here is the fall 2014 kit:

And here is my kit: 

This time, I didn't look through my stash. I actually went to my local Michael's because at one time, that particular store had an amazing selection of scrapbook paper. But I found putting this kit together very difficult because the selection just wasn't there. I did find some good stuff, though, and for about $12 cheaper than ordering the actual kit. (Next time I might attempt using I'm all for experimentation.)

Here are the 2-page layouts I made using this kit. "Gravesites of the Rich & Famous" is a bunch of pictures from the self-guided tour my husband and I took of the Sleepy Hollow cemetery last year. We saw Washington Irving's grave! (It's picture No. 2.)

And "Headless" has the map of the cemetery on it along with some of the Headless Horsemen stuff in the cemetery and in the area:

I still got to use up pieces in my stash, including some excess embellishments, which is always nice. Are there any kit clubs you like to copy? Any kit in particular that you want to see how to copy? Let me know, and I'll do a blog post about it!