Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: September 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jumbled Mess

Looks like a jumbled mess of boards in our back yard, right? 

Maybe right now it does, but by the time hubby is finished with these wooden slats, you won't believe they came from those pallets.

So what's he going to do with the jumbled mess?

After seven years of living in our house, we finally decided to add a cover to our deck. Here's a snapshot taken on a late September afternoon.
That flimsy umbrella doesn't do much to prevent the sun from continually beating down on the deck for most of the day, which means it really isn't pleasant for lounging except early mornings or late evenings. Plus, hubby wanted an outdoor space to house the smoker so he wouldn't have to lug it out of the garage every time he'd like to crank it up.

If that means smoked ribs more often, I'm all for that. :D

Well, you know how it goes. Suddenly, our plans mushroomed from just a cover to a total outdoor kitchen, complete with one of those fancy gas grill inserts, an outdoor sink and mini-fridge. 

We finally found a contractor with a bid that we could swallow, and we decided to go ahead. But the high price of the cover meant cutting costs on the outdoor kitchen. Even switching from the fancy gas grill insert to modifying a regular one to fit and chunking some of the components like the outdoor sink and mini-fridge, didn't help the cost too much. We decided to stick with the original plan. A cover and some type of bar/counter to store the smoker.

"Honey, you know, you could build something that would look just as nice as any of these. And it would be exactly what we wanted," I said, smiling sweetly.

His brows narrowed, and his head began a ferocious wag back and forth. He'd heard these exact words before. He doesn't consider himself a good woodworker. But I know better. Check out a couple of his DIY projects...

Along with my father, he built these two goodies, a desk and a cubby-holder:
my office
And this work bench for the garage, even including sliding drawers and pull-out organizers:
garage work bench
What do you think?For now this may be a jumbled mess of boards, but it won't be that way for long. I'll keep you posted. Bring on the ribs! 
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

I is for Incredible

We're baaaack!

Hubby and I just returned from our cruise through Europe, and that's the only way I can describe it...incredible! Plus, I needed an I word to make it work for this week's blog. :)

Mind if I share a few pictures? No? Phew! That's good because I planned to anyway. lol

As is the case with most European flights, we flew all night. After a two hour bus ride from Heathrow, we sailed from Dover, just outside London. We didn't suffer too much jet lag this year. Last year, I was down for the count, but this time, I was more prepared. 

Our first four ports were in Norway. For some reason, I anticipated quaint little towns, but that wasn't the case with these ports, as you can see. Still incredible scenery.

Alesund, Norway
A Bookstore in Bergen, Norway (couldn't resist!)
Stavanger, Norway

Our first glimpse of Oslo, Norway
Check out this stunning sunset as we sailed away from Hamburg, Germany. Incredible, isn't it?
Hamburg, Germany
Amsterdam, one of my favorite stops.
Bruges, Belgium
And what a way to end the cruise ~ touring Paris. You cannot imagine the magnificence of the Eiffel Tower until you're standing close. Wow! 
Hubby at the Eiffel Tower
We spent an extra day touring London since we didn't have time before the cruise. Hubby's idea. He figured if I was going to spend an entire day sleeping away jet lag, we might as well do it on the ship and save the extra day to take in the sights when we returned. Have I mentioned how smart he is? :)
Tower Bridge (And I always thought this was the London Bridge!!)
Incredible. The only thing that would have made this cruise any better was if my parents had been able to join us. Next time!

Where did you take your last "incredible" trip?

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Friday, September 13, 2013

H is for Hanging

It's been loads of fun hanging out with new friends on the AtoZ blog hop and checking out their blogs! I'm still with limited Internet access, so I can't link up, but if you'd like to hop on, you can do so here

This week's letter is...H....for ... Hanging

Not as in dangling from a rope, but as in being left hanging. Or leaving things hanging, suspended, or unfinished.

During my auditor years, I visited schools on a daily basis to ensure they followed safe accounting practices. For each of the three different types of audits we performed, I knew how to schedule my work week. Some audits lasted days, some weeks, but for each, I enjoyed the satisfaction of wrapping up an audit and turning in the report.

When I switched to working special audits, my calendar might be blocked out with the same task for months. Although I adjusted, I never really liked this aspect of my job. You see, I value accomplishment, and I appreciate checklists and enjoy checking tasks off as I complete them. 

Since writing a book takes months, to help me overcome this negative vibe, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track my forward progress for every book. Not only does the spreadsheet offer me a sense of accomplishment by entering my daily word count, it also gives me an ending date, something tangible so that I don't feel as if I'm hanging forever.

Sometimes leaving things hanging is unavoidable. Like now. We booked our cruise months ago, not knowing our son would accept a job in Washington DC, about 10 days before our sailing date. We promised to help him move his stuff to DC when we return.

As a writer, sometimes I leave my characters hanging, whether it's in a particularly intense scene or, like now, because I couldn't give them their happily-ever-after before I hopped on that airplane. I tried, I really did, but life got in the way. That, and latching on to every available minute with my son. My characters will be there when I return home. My son won't.
Our son and grandson
What about you? How do you feel about being left hanging? Or leaving things hanging?

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Friday, September 6, 2013

G is for GRAND...

This week's letter is G...for Grand!

As in...

Our Little Man
that grow up to be grandsons
Playing ping-pong against Uncle Scott
Summer fun

Precious Granddaughters
Fun at the Latta Equestrian Center
Honor Roll Lunch
Grand times...
Our younger son's UNC graduation

Celebrating with our family
Great Grandparents ~ My hubby scared me when he mentioned that's a possibility for us in just a few years. Yikes! How can that be? Here we are discussing the joys of grand parenting with my parents. Love that we can still share this journey with them.
My parents and us

Grand trips
The Carnival Breeze, from our European tour in 2012
This year we're on the Carnival Legend

What about you? What "grands" can you share?
I've been participating in the AtoZ blog hop, but since I have limited Internet access over the next couple of weeks, I'm unable to link up. If you'd like to hop on, you can do so here

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Thursday, September 5, 2013


The Cowboy's Christmas Courtship
by Brenda Minton
About the book~
With her mortgaged farm, rebellious brother and two jobs, Layla Silver is struggling to keep afloat for the holidays. But does she need Gage Cooper riding to her rescue? Back in high school, Gage was nobody's hero. Now he's an injured bull rider home for Christmas to make amends for his checkered past. And something about the stubborn, beautiful Layla has him wanting more than forgiveness. Can a wandering cowboy turn a Christmas courtship into an everlasting love? 

Meet the Characters~

"When a guy looked death in the face, in the form of a one-ton bull, it made him think about how he'd treated the people in his life." 

Injured bullrider Gage Cooper headed back home to Dawson, Oklahoma, to recover. While he was recuperating, he intended to make things right with a few people, starting with Layla Silver. But, with his large family and a granny intent on marrying him off, he didn't plan to stay home long. Besides, he couldn't look at his blind brother without being angry at God.

"She was not a good judge of character. She was the person who kicked the dog out of the house for chewing up the shoes and then let him back in, thinking he wouldn't do it again."

Layla Silver had learned from a young age not to allow people to get too close. Her mother always hid her black eyes, and Layla assumed that's what people did: hid behind closed doors. So when her parents were killed in a car accident, she gave up dreams of college and a family of her own and assumed responsibility for her eight-year-old brother. Now he was a rebellious fifteen-year-old and she was worn out from working two jobs and feeling incredibly alone, but that didn't mean she could allow herself to fall for Gage just because he flashed that dazzling smile at her. She knew he hid a lot of anger behind that cocky grin. And besides, he never stuck around long.

"Layla was the kind of woman a man married. He made a habit of staying away from the marrying kind."

Sharing my thoughts~
What an intense opening scene between Layla and Gage. You know there's a history between them, but the author doesn't offer many details and that's just the way I like opening scenes. Gage stops to help Layla, and sees her like he hadn't before: strong, quiet, and never accepting help. Initially, he wants to help her because he feels he owes her, but somewhere along the way, his motivation changes into something deeper, something longer lasting. 

What a love story! I enjoyed the progression, from Layla's high school crush and Gage's feeling that he had to right a wrong  into something powerful and beautiful. Gage does such sweet things for Layla, and she can't help but fall in love with the changed man.

"...he wondered why all of a sudden, his life no longer fit. It felt like a favorite pair of boots that were suddenly too small."

I always like it when a romance runs deeper and treads into serious territory, and this one didn't disappoint. Gage found himself asking tough questions, like why his brother was blinded and Layla could never catch a break while he skipped through life with hardly a care.

Although this book has a holiday setting and title, I'd recommend The Cowboy's Christmas Courtship as a great read for anytime of the year!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Harlequin Love Inspired and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy of The Cowboy's Christmas Courtship. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Have you read The Cowboy's Christmas Courtship? 
Do you agree with my review? What were your thoughts?

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