Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Burn Over

BURN OVER: a novellaBURN OVER: a novella by R.D. Byron-Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At its core this is a romance novella about a young bride named April and her Husband Kyle who is a firefighter in California. They are building their dream home in the foothills of California when it becomes threatened by a massive wildfire burning in the area. However, the possibility of a “burn over”, where the wildfire jumps and overtakes the firefighters, forcing them to take cover in their suits, is forefront on Aprils mind as she worries about Kyles safety. This story is partially based on a true story and the journalistic background of the author is seen in his writing style. He has crafted a gripping story around the tender love between these two main characters and their friends. The addition to the terror this Wildfire creates brings a havoc into the pages that as a reader you are almost spellbound to keep reading until the end. I enjoyed this book maybe a little more than I should have, I certainly finished it in one sitting.


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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Review: The Miracle Journey

The Miracle JourneyThe Miracle Journey by Abdirizak Omar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The miracle Journey is a book that takes multiple tales from many people across Somalia and fuses them into the adventures of one main character. Gulled is that man who we follow from birth, through the beginnings of the civil war on Somalia, to his time in the USA and his homecoming several years later. He is accompanied at various stages by many friends, Mahad, Ibrahim, Gaanie and Geedi are at times helpful, willful, comic relief and sources of frustration for Gulled.
I was surprised at some points in the story to see just how strong the kinship bonds are between people of Somali descent and how willing they were to help out a complete stranger (I am talking about the example of Hanad and Kayse).
Overall though, this book and the experiences all of the characters have, showcase some of the difficult times that displaced people who end up resettled as refugees have. I say some because even though there are some scenes described within this book that may not be for the faint of heart, I am sure that the author could have included many more of the gruesome and heartless atrocities that have been and continue to be committed to this day. I would recommend reading this book to get a sense of what goes through someone's mind while they are in this volatile time in their life trying to get settled in a country that isn't their own and where customs may seem backwards to them.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: The Power of Time Perception

The Power of Time PerceptionThe Power of Time Perception by Jean Paul Zogby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever wondered about how when you are having fun the time seems to fly by? Or when you are at work and those last thirty minutes are dragging along? This book helps explain that phenomenon and so much more. It is a great book that helps us first understand time and how we subconsciously perceive it and then helps us with effective time management. At times, full of scientific information and at others philosophical anecdotes, this book bridges a gap that many others don’t.
Chock Full of good and thought provoking information, the author clearly has spent much time researching how the power of our mind can influence our perceptions of time. I liked this book and there are certainly ideas and practices that can be put to good use. I think that to be truly successful with it we will have to exercise willpower and stick with them, not just try them once and give up.


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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Movie Review: 13th

It’s 12:30am and I cannot sleep. I just finished watching the Netflix documentary, 13th by Ava DuVernay, and so much of this movie has shaken me. I’m by no means a politically or socially ignorant person, however, my awareness and self-education in the two matters has largely taken place over the past 1/2 years. Watching this movie, I must come to terms with the fact that I (along with the rest of the US population) have been brainwashed into thinking that slavery was truly a construct of the past. That we live in a time, where there certainly are racial issues, but overall, we have overcome the fundamental issues of slavery. And we have not. We have revised the system many times and given it new names, the newest which is the mass incarcerations, the prison construct system. 1 in 3 black men will see prison in their lifetime. Will my husband, or my son be one of them?
As a white Muslim women, I have the privilege of taking off my Hijab, of taking off any garment that marks me as “other”, and can blend into the crowd of humanity in our nation. My gender might set me apart, but racially, I would not be viewed as a threat. My husband, not only has the strike of being a black man against him, he has a double strike against him as a Muslim black man. He does not have the luxury of taking off his skin color so that he does not immediately appear to be a criminal. Our children, while able to pass as white, would more than likely be identified as Latino or Hispanic of origin and therefor still carry some racial/ethnic stigma or burden that I myself as their mother would not have.
The problem that arises with this realization is: What can and should I do about this? Is confronting racism and discrimination whenever I encounter it truly enough? Can a Stay at home Mom of three children under 5, Full-time college student really make a difference? How much time do I have to devote to this issue to truly make a difference? If the world is run by (To quote my Sociology Teacher:) “old white men”, then can I as a white middle class woman really do much? There is so much hatred in this world, so much systemic discrimination, a complete us vs. them mentality that it is hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

But we must believe it is there. We must hold out hope, that even our tiniest actions, from teaching our children to love everyone equally, to helping that old Black/Hispanic/Asian lady with her groceries, will sprout the seeds of change that we need in our country right now. Only by picking up the phone and calling our representatives, by emailing them will our voices be heard. If there is a protest rally in your city, maybe you should contact the organizers to see if they need any supplies, a few cases of water? Might not be a bad idea of you can’t put in the hours of being there in person. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Jukebox

The cover and the synopsis drew me in and this author doesn’t disappoint. Her novel Jukebox is full of old-world charm, set in London where you can just feel the character’s confidence and ruthlessness mingled with the British accent in a unique combination. When you think of mobsters, you typically think Italians, but open your mind because these London leaders of the seedy underbelly are going to take you for a ride, along with tea and crumpets. Nick, the lawyer but aspiring record label owner, Mel, his benefactor and Avery a spunky journalist all collide together and have a rip-roaring adventurous time. When things look to good to be true, they often are Nick is finding out, and Avery is pure determination to uncover the story she has sniffed out about Mel. For humor, originality, plot twists and overall great command of the English grammar I highly recommend this book.

Book review: Echoes of Paradise

Echoes of ParadiseEchoes of Paradise by Deanna Kahler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Celeste is undergoing a midlife crisis, her job and her marriage make her feel trapped and lack the passion they once had. As an artist, she’s lost her zest in life, add to that fact that her secret true love Connor passes away, leaves celeste devastated. Once odd things start to occur around her, she sets out to find out if Connor is still here, desperately trying to tell her something.
This is a book I would set on the quasi paranormal with a twist of fantasy shelf, it deals with love, fate, the power of the human mind, questions of the afterlife and how our preconceived notions of all might be expanded a little more with some faith. If you read this as a simple romance novel you might not like it too much, but I think it was a good story. There were no grammar errors or sentence structural issues which was a nice touch compared to some other books I have read; so great job editing team!


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Review: Trickery

Trickery (Curse of the Gods #1)Trickery by Jaymin Eve
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I almost wished I hadn't stumbled upon this book... Almost. The only downfall is I have just finished this book and the next isn't out yet. Willa was a breath of fresh air. As heroines go, she was not tripping over her feet in servitude (at least not for long) and she was not a female that simply rolled over at the first "smoldering" look a male gives her. Her antics were hilarious and entertaining and the mystery of the Abcurse brothers kept me turning page after page to figure it out. Emma was the perfect best friend, popping into the story to help in sticky situations and the popping back out, leading her own life.
This was a great new discovery and I will be keeping my eyes open for the next book in the series!


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Book Review: Peach

Peach: An Exceptional Teen's Inspiring Journey for Universal AcceptancePeach: An Exceptional Teen's Inspiring Journey for Universal Acceptance by Jenevieve (Peach) Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peach, is truly an inspirational person. She suffers from a life altering disease, one that is not easily treated and will be with her throughout the course of her life. And as human beings go, we are not the greatest overall, but every now and then you stumble across someone who will stay on your mind long after they are no longer there in your presence. This book is an accounting of such a person. Peach see life as half-full, she does not lament her condition and go through life crying woe me as so many of us do if we do not get every single little thing we want right when we want it.
Written beautifully and in an engaging style, this story is a coming of age tale in ways. We follow along as Peach grows from being the “invisible girl” on the side lines to a young adult who is using her condition to teach us all about the meaning of our lives. This book is one of those that is worth picking up and then passing around to all your friends and family.


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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Review: Molding my Destiny

Molding My Destiny: A story of Hope that takes one child from surviving to thrivingMolding My Destiny: A story of Hope that takes one child from surviving to thriving by Patrice M. Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, or if you suffer from depression, then I think this book is a good read for you. This isn’t a self-help book, touted to make all your problems go away with easy step by step instructions. This is a memoir, a story of life, and how we can all learn valuable lessons in overcoming our hardships. This book takes the dream of America, and pits it against the sometimes-harsh realities of life in America and how the author and her siblings fought to overcome them. The abuse, and suffering that the author suffers was especially hard to read, but I think we all need to face the realities that many people face on a daily basis. An Eye-opening memoir full of hurt, but also and more importantly, a success story of how the author was able to fight and turn her life around to live a happier life.


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Book Review: Devil's Divide

Devil's DivideDevil's Divide by Jeffrey M. Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Devils divide is a Post-apocalyptic novel in the vein of “Dies the Fire” by Stirling. I think that Mr. Anderson, has done a superb job in revitalizing this genre and putting his own stamp on it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find this book will end up being the first in a series. I enjoyed the authors writing style from first page to last: it is witty and humorous at times but also gritty when needed. He was able to paint the picture of a financial meltdown which grinds the whole world to a full-stop in such a way that I could see it happening today and fully believe it.
In our story, we are introduced to Clay and Madeline, a couple who is testing out a “trial separation” by Madeline moving across the country to Boston. Meanwhile, Clays Firm undergoes a costly and crippling litigation process. When the world stops, Clay makes it his mission to find Madeline and so he bicycles along the nation’s highways and through nature to try and reach her. He meets many colorful and some dangerous characters along the way. And one encounter that will ultimately decide the fate of the nation. A great, spellbinding page-turner!


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Book Review: Summer of Change

Summer of ChangeSummer of Change by Martha Passel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summer of change reminded me of the song summer of ’69. Even though it is set in 1973, the story is the accounts of a young girl, back when things seemed to be simpler and life was good before things changed. Matilou is a joyful character, she loves her home surrounded by nature and all it has to offer. Being an only child, Matilou dreams and wishes to have a sister and one day during the summer, she gets just that. In the form of PerryAnn, the granddaughter of Grandma Waters who is their neighbor.
This story is a coming of age tale, perfect for teens and young adults. The topics are varied (Bullying, environmentalism, peer pressure, courage and trust). It was written in an easy to understand and clear style which I enjoyed. I think that no young adult would have issues understanding just what is being talked about in this book.


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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: Seasickness

SeasicknessSeasickness by Peter Tate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peter Tate, gives us a delightful autobiography of himself and his experiences as a young doctor. You might think that this would lead to a boring read, but Tate’s writing style and wry humor help guide the reader through a delightful set of characters and locations. With the host of characters, this book has a slight edge of the fantastical about it as well. The 1970’s were an impressionable time for the young doctor Tate, and although he did not choose this profession (his father did), he made the best of his cards and applied himself to learning the cure for ills that his medical texts did not cover.
The many flashbacks do make this book a tad bit more complicated in the beginning to read and orient yourself within the story, but around the 6th chapter, I had the author’s rhythm down and was zooming through the pages. Well written, articulate without any editing errors make this a good read.


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Book Review: Ash in the Blood

Ash in the Blood (Poison World Book 2)Ash in the Blood by Lyn Forester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the Poison World Series and I loved it! I wish I hadn't stumbled upon this series yet, only because I now have to wait for the next book!
In a world where Halions and Humans live in a symbiotic co-existence, We meet half bloods, Reagan and Drake. Reagan, having re-invented herself in a new city is only trying to look out for herself without attracting much notice, but being saddles with Drake of the Black Corporation Mob is shattering her existence along the fringes of society. The unlikely pair continue to pursue leads in their Ash (think illegal drugs like Heroin) Investigation until things get heated. Also, a person from Reagan's past shows up and we get treated to some juicy morsels of background on her and it opens up so many possibilities.
Sci Fi and fantasy are a great blend here, and this story has a great plot and flow. No grammar errors or such to detract from this story.


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Book Review: Love in a Cave

Love in a Cave: A Mediterranean Romance NovelLove in a Cave: A Mediterranean Romance Novel by Carla Prince
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read her first book, and loving that one, I of course had to pick up Love in a cave, another romance set in the Mediterranean Sea. The author, Carla Prince doesn’t disappoint. We are given a hot and steamy tale of love and fate, intertwined so well that our two reluctant lovebirds never stood a chance! This book is perfect for light, summer readings, and the story flies off the pages before you know it, you are done. Mrs. Prince has a great editing team that leaves no grammatical or sentence structure errors behind and the pace of the story is at a genuine, believable pace.
Christy, is stranded and Connor ends up as her rescuer. Connor, being a celebrity is not supposed to get himself entangled in a relationship, and Christy, is not looking for one, happily lost in her work. When their paths cross however, there is some chemistry and one thing leads to another. Another great read in the series!


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Reviews: Crossroads from Damascus

Crossroads from Damascus: Mississippi HeadlightsCrossroads from Damascus: Mississippi Headlights by Jason Akley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crossroads from Damascus is a genre spanning, chronicle of how pot addiction can influence a person’s everyday life. Humor, self-reflections, even a murder all make their presence known within this book. The author lays open with his personal accounts how his interactions with pot and the resulting industry have shaped his life. Some of the stories, which are presented in Diary Format, were extremely touching and poignant. Free Bird for example, reminded me of myself with an uncanniness that was at times a little frightening. I wasn’t a big fan of the poetry, but then it usually is not my thing, so anyone who is a poetry fan might find them nice. The only thing I would change is the flow of the sentences in some stories. The paragraphs come off the page a little disjointed but other than that I didn’t see glaring grammar errors as some reviewers noted. It seemed to me the author took his diary and published it without going over it to “polish” up his writing. Even so, if human interactions, emotions that are not forced or staged is your thing, then this book may be for you.


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Book Review: Sassy Gal's Recipes

Sassy Gal's How To Lose The Last Damn 10 Pounds or 15, 20, 25...RecipesSassy Gal's How To Lose The Last Damn 10 Pounds or 15, 20, 25...Recipes by Sharon Helbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have already read the previous book by this author with the same title, but it did not have any recipes in it. I was at first a little skeptical about the recipes since the description mentioned reducing animal products and I love me some good meats. However, I was pleasantly surprised that with these recipes I did not have to cut that out completely. The recipes that I’ve tried so far were fun, easy to follow and most importantly tasted delicious! This is a great addition to my cookbook collection and I foresee that it will be getting much usage in the coming days/weeks and even months to come. One of my favorites is the Tortilla soup with chicken. It was savory and my husband who is a picky eater even like it. Other recipes I’ve tried that I liked were the Portobello Mushroom Steak and the Sassy Gal’s Chocolate Cake.


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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book Review: Rick's Place

Rick's PlaceRick's Place by Jason Akley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This books synopsis was intriguing and confusing at the same time for me if that makes sense. I didn’t have anything better to do so I figured I’d give the book a shot. The writing style is a little wandering, the author tends to go off on tangents that may have nothing to do with what is going on in the story, but he does bring it back eventually. The book was well edited; I did not see any grammar or sentence structure error that would detract from the story. The author, Mr. Akley does not hand you a plot, but rather he favors a writing style that makes you think for yourself and you should think for yourself to allow you to see what the book is about. This book is as much about Rick’s Place as it is about its patrons, as regulars and visitors alike, get their due and a chance to tell their tales. You as the reader are as much part of the story as the characters and the author does a good job in trying to get you immersed in their stories. However, I personally didn’t like the long-winded writing style and it seems as this author is either someone you love or don’t.


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Book Review: Sister Jaguar's Journey

Sister Jaguar's JourneySister Jaguar's Journey by Judy Bisignano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sister Judy Bisignano, a Dominican nun is the focal point of this book. It follows her life’s journey as she searches for meaning in life, meaning that will help her overcome her self-doubt and self-rejection. She ultimately finds what she was subconsciously looking for in the unlikeliest of places: the Amazonian Rainforest among a remote tribe of natives. They helped her learn about compassion, self-acceptance, about the stewardship towards the earth and the inner peace that we all possess.
The first parts of the book detail her journey through the difficulties of becoming a nun as well as the abuse suffered in her personal home life. The fact that Sister Judy still managed to eventually put all this behind her and strive to work to help children and others is an amazing feat. She did not let her past weigh her down and even struggling to overcome it, she managed to do good. An empowering story to read during International Women’s month, or any day of the year. Well written, not too many glaring grammar errors.


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Book Review: In Black & White

In Black & WhiteIn Black & White by Catherine  Lavender
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is engaging, gripping and gut wrenching at the same time. I am married to an African American man and we have three beautiful children together. I tore through this book and the history it represents gripping each page in the hope of finding a better past than the one provided. The past is the past you might say, but read this book again, and then tell me you do not see the echoes of our past going on right now. Interracial marriage is still taboo for many white folk in 2017 as it was not too many years ago.
Micah is a beautiful young girl who knows next to nothing about her father until after his death. Her mother finally opens up about him and Micah struggles to piece together a picture of a man she glimpses through her mothers Alzheimer’s. A romantic and emotional tale, I think was well written but could use some more editing for grammar and minor errors in the sentence structure.


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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Recently Finished a CAL

I just finished this beautiful CAL C2C blanket and it was a blast.

This project marked a few to-dos off my list for this year: Learn and new stitch and participate in a live CAL or KAL. It also helped me blow through some stash yarn so Win-Win, right?

You can find the complete CAL instructions over here: at Left in Knots Website as well as Ravelry.

Here are the pictures of my finished Blanket:





Book Review: My Nazi Nemesis

My Nazi NemesisMy Nazi Nemesis by Rich DiSilvio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Rich DiSilvio has written a good book here. He takes a much written about era, WW2 and give us a twist we haven’t yet seen: A CIA, but former OSS agent, who decides to reveal all about his past to his teenage daughter, Jack Goodwin is your quintessential Good guy. He is trying to raise his daughter, be a good patriot and when an old enemy rears his head, Jack dutifully goes on the hunt again to find and thwart him. Only this time, Jacks daughter tags along. A smart and sassy young woman, Eleanor is able to help her father gain new insight from old data and helps him when he gets a little too close and emotional.
This book was well written but could use some more editing for grammar and minor errors in the sentence structure. This thriller is fast paced and exciting as well as unpredictable in the amount of twists the storyline takes. A great book for someone who loves Thrillers or WW2.


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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Lingering with Diamonds

Lingering With DiamondsLingering With Diamonds by Graham Rippon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a set of two short stories, one a story about two diamond thieves named Alfred and Squidge and a story about police Constable Bobby Nickem who is stationed in a sleepy, quaint little town called Lingering-in-the-Marsh. The two Thieves are your typical diamond thieves, who are trying to perform heists, or are cooking up plans to perform them. Think of them as a version of Harry and Marv, the “wet Bandits” of Home Alone, devious and hilarious at the same time. Constable Bobby is for me closer to a combination of Angel and Butterman from Hot Fuzz.
These two stories although short, are great introductions to the author and made me almost wish that they were longer. The characters are a hoot, the relationships between them are plausible and realistic and there is enough British humor to tickle your fancy. The writing style was superb, and engaging and free of grammatical errors. The story flow for both was smooth and steady, I was not skipping pages to get to the good stuff, there was plenty there in each page.


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Book review: American Nights

American NightsAmerican Nights by Gerrie Ferris Finger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this story, it had many layers, almost like an onion, as soon as you think you have an handle on what exactly is going on, who is behind the kidnapping and their motives, the author peels back another layer that changes so many things. The Twists in this book are delivered in subtle and climactic ways and it truly leaves you on the edge of your seat as you are devouring pages.
A Saudi prince whose wife and daughter were abducted, a set of parents who are not overly upset that their daughter and grand daughter are missing and then themselves are found dead, an PI who is mistrusting (with good reasons) of all involved parties and tries to do her best to unravel this mystery quickly and racing against time to recover the wife and daughter. This book is in a series, but like most mystery novels, you do not necessarily have to read the other books to get a grasp on what is going on. The author does a good job with background info on our PI Moira and I wasn’t left feeling out of the loop with the character relationships.


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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Review: Montpelier Tomorrow

Montpelier TomorrowMontpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Montpelier Tomorrow is not the type of book that will talk in sweet tones, where everybody loves and likes everyone and there are no negative emotions anywhere. This book deals with the searingly painful and gritty reality of seeing a love one suffer from an incurable life threatening disease. In this case it is ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
This story is told through Colleens eye as her son-in-law is diagnosed with ALS and she rushes to her daughters (Sandy) house to attempt to help be a caregiver to her husband and the kids. Her efforts are not always appreciated and there is a palpable resentment towards Colleen as well as a feeling of complicated family dynamics throughout the story. We find the answers out as to the why for some of these feelings, but it doesn’t seem like enough of a reason I think. This is a hard book to read as the characters are not always likeable and through their actions in this story they seem to lack basic compassion and human decency. However, the fact that it highlights this horrific disease and helps showcase the hardships placed upon the family means that it is worthwhile to read.


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Book Review: Zaven's Destiny

Zaven's DestinyZaven's Destiny by Bedros Margosian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book about the Armenian Genocide from 1915 to around 1917 could have been written so much differently. This is not to say that the author shied away from the gruesomeness of historical accuracy. But instead of writing this novel highlighting this atrocity and the subsequent despair, destitute and defeat, the author chose instead to focus on the other side. The side of humanities courage, strength and perseverance in the face of danger and hopelessness. This book will move you and touch you emotionally in ways you might not have known.
The story follows a boy named Zaven as he gets swept up in the marches that drive him and his fellow Armenians from their homelands. He watches horrors every day and uses them to educate himself on the capabilities of his fellow humans. He uses this knowledge to strengthen his resolve and courage as he comes of age. The characters in this book feel as if they were real people within this time and that we are reading about their plight as it unfolds. This was an excellent book!


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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Upcoming for this year:

So what I want to focus on (besides work and school) are two blankets, a sweater for myself and maybe for both of my girls...:




Finished projects:

What I have finished recently on the creative/productive side of the house: