Wednesday Wanderings: Ireland and the UK

We took a big trip last year. We had big reasons. A niece who lives in Ireland we wanted to visit. A 40th anniversary to celebrate. History to learn about.

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In front of the manor house at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Village, near Castlebar, Ireland. Sept. 7.

We didn’t go without some serious planning and talking. Stud Muffin, being former law enforcement, was concerned about terrorist activity abroad. I understood, but thought it was a small risk in proportion to the potential payoff.

We checked our budget, contacted the fantastic Cheryl at Hey Wanna Go, and renewed out passports. We left our home September 4, visited family on the way to LA, and flew out September 6. Stud Muffin had traveled overseas before, but this was my first time. I was unsure how I’d handle the long flight, but it wasn’t too bad. It helped that we had a layover in Chicago, so what could be a twelve-hour flight was divided up into a five-hour and an eight-hour. Not bad at all. We won’t mention the layover was supposed to be about 90 minutes but ended up at four hours. So we were tired when we boarded the second flight. And tired when we arrived in Ireland.

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A quote from a display inside the museum.

I’ll be blogging some about the trip, posting pictures, and sharing memories for the next few months. This will help me get my thoughts and memories in order so I can compile our scrapbook.

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A better view of the manor house.
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Book Talk Tuesday: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

I’m a huge Kristan Higgins fan. I love her romance novels and her women’s fiction novels have been even better.

Higgins.NTYMINow That You Mention It is about Nora, an ugly duckling from a small Maine island who has turned into an amazing swan/doctor/aunt/human being. After getting hit by a truck and waking in the ER to hear her boyfriend flirting with a nurse, she decides it’s time for some changes and moves back to her island to recuperate with her mother and niece.

Nora’s backstory about what brought her to this place in her life is carefully dribbled out, a little at a time. There have been some awful things happen to her. But she not only survived, she learned to thrive.

I loved this book. The characters feel like people I’d hang out with. As Nora heals and as spring turns to summer, she learns a lot about herself as well as her hometown and her family.

I highly recommend this one!

Book Talk on a Thursday: Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters is the fourth in Susan May Warren’s Montana Rescue series. There’s also a prequel novella and a mid-series novella. Whew! She’s a busy writer. And an excellent one.

Troubled Waters is Ian and Sierra’s story. We’ve been following them and hoping for them to work out their issues in the previous books. Finally, this is their time.

Warren.TWIan Shaw is a billionaire. A driven and focused billionaire. Sierra Rose started as his assistant, became his friend, and then he fell in love with her. And she with him. But they couldn’t get past the secrets between them. She knew his niece ran away with her boyfriend and didn’t tell him. He spent millions of dollars searching for his niece, intent on finding her and bringing her home. In the previous books, Ian and Sierra’s relationship devolved and when Troubled Waters begins, they’re barely speaking, barely friends, and definitely not working together.

Now, Sierra has another secret: she found Ian’s niece. She agrees to keep the young woman’s location private for another month, to give her a chance to call her uncle.  In the meantime, Ian is facing huge governments fines for a drilling accident that decimated a town. He needs cash and decides to sell his properties and holdings, including his Montana ranch and his yacht.

Sierra’s working for the PEAK Rescue team at their base. A helicopter crashes and there’s no money for repairs or a new chopper. She appeals to Ian and some of his wealthy friends and they head to the Caribbean for a “three-day cruise,” so she can convince them to donate funds for a new helicopter. Just like Gilligan’s “three-day cruise,” Ian’s and Sierra’s trip ends badly, hence the troubled waters of the title. I won’t give away what happens, except to say it’s gripping and not-put-down-able.

Pete and Jess’s story has also been slowly evolving through the three prior books, and they continue in Troubled Waters. When we get to their story, it promises to be a doozy. I can’t wait!

I love Troubled Waters and I highly recommend it! Another winner from Ms. Warren’s smoking keyboard.


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in return for an honest review. I honestly loved it!

Book Talk Tuesday: THE UNSEDUCIBLE EARL

I love love love this book! The attention to historical accuracy and detail makes it a cut above most historical romance. The Victorian mores and attitudes are captured perfectly. But instead of being dry or superficial, The Unseducible Earl is full of emotion, poignancy, and heart.

UnseducibleEarlVictoria Thorne is a Nightingale nurse recently returned from the Crimea and hired by the Earl of Cheriton to nurse his brother, also a Crimea vet, back to health. As Victoria cares for Jamie, she is also able to deal with her own issues that linger from living and working in a war zone. At Cheriton Court, she expected to work hard, to help patients with her skills, and to face some opposition. She never expected the intense attraction she feels for the earl–the betrothed earl.

Robben Merrick is betrothed to a woman who is perfect for him. On paper. He doesn’t love her, but he expects affection will come. It is time for him to marry and produce an heir. He’s grateful his fiancee is willing to postpone their announcement while his brother is still battling for his life, even though he’s out of battlefield danger and safe at home at Cheriton Court. His growing feelings for his brother’s nurse are not part of his plans. And he cannot act on them, even if it feels like he is sentencing himself to a loveless marriage and a broken heart.

Humphreys is a wonderful writer. I felt every bit of Victoria and Robb’s attraction and brokenness.

There are a couple of sub-plots that added to the depth of the story and made the ending even more satisfactory.

Monday Musings: Good-bye to an Era

My favorite local quilting store is closing. (Cue the violins.)

Quilters Paradise in Old Town Clovis is where I took my quilting classes. I bought lots of fabric there. Which reminds me, I have some reward cards I better redeem quickly!

QPIt’s rare to find a shop so focused on customer service, quality products, and value.

The owners are always helpful. The dog hanging around the back classroom was calm and never demanding, but always grateful for an ear rub or tummy scratch.

 

Employees are knowledgeable. My first quilt top that I made in the Quilting 101 class turned out great, but I knew I would need help with the backing choice. So I toted in the Quilt toptop, laid it out and pleaded for advice. I walked out a few minutes later with the perfect fabric. (Don’t ask me if I’ve actually finished that quilt yet. Please.) I love the blue and gold with the cream, but I wasn’t sure if the backing should be dark or light. We ended up going with one of the medium golds for the backing fabric. I think it will look stunning when it is finished. Which I hope will be next year. I’m committed to not beginning a new project until I finish the three or four I have in progress.

There are a couple other quilt shops near me that I’ve never shopped at. And of course we have a Jo-Ann’s. So it looks like my quilting fabric loyalty is up for bids.

Do you have a local favorite shop? Or a favorite you make sure to visit on your travels?

 

Book Talk Tuesday: MRS. OSWALD CHAMBERS

I finished this book two weeks ago but I needed some time to absorb it all before I talked about it.

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I’ve read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers many times. Sometimes it’s my daily devotional for the year. Sometimes I just pick it up and read random days. But there’s always a copy nearby that I can easily get my hands on.

I had no idea the work, the calling, the sacrifice that went into making copies of this book so readily available to readers.

Michelle Ule has crafted a story that is part biography, part history, and part devotional in its own right.

Mrs. Oswald Chambers is, on the surface, a biography of Gertrude ‘Biddy’ Chambers, Oswald Chambers’ wife and widow. It starts with her early life, moves to meeting Chambers, falling in love, and their decision to marry and minster together. They married in 1910, had a daughter in 1913, and he died in 1917. A short marriage, but one with lasting and far-reaching impact.

Biddy trained as a secretary and took shorthand at 250 words per minute. She wrote 301838_MrsOswaldChambersUle_Posts11down all of his sermons, homilies, lessons, and talks, then transcribed them. After her husband’s death, she began to compile various selections and released them as books under his name.

I loved Mrs. Oswald Chambers! Michelle Ule crafted a story that is compelling, humbling, and thought-provoking. If I’d been widowed with a small child, while living in a foreign country near a war zone, I don’t think my inclination would be to continue to serve God while living in poverty. Biddy did that, not only willingly, but with a faith and a calling that never faltered.

I highly recommend this book and I suggest you run and grab your own copy. It will change you.

 

Monday Musings

About a year ago, I decided to shift this blog in a slightly different direction. Mondays went from talking about media (movies, television, podcasts, etc.) to mostly about quilting. But I quickly found out that being a quilter with limited projects done, I ran out of things that I felt were interesting enough to talk about. I kept book reviews on Book Talk Tuesdays. Wednesday’s became about travel. And Food Talk Friday went bye-bye. Sigh.

Wooden bowl with spa stones and candles on wooden  table, on flowers backgroundAfter some thought and talk, I’ve decided to do a course correction with the blog. Again.

Mondays will be Monday Musings. This may be about quilting or about art or crafting or media. Basically whatever I’m currently fascinated with. Tuesdays will continue to be book reviews (and I’ve got a great book up for tomorrow). Wednesday will be Wonderings or Wanderings. My thoughts and feelings about an issue or a travelogue of sorts. And since I’m still enjoying memories and pictures of our Ireland/UK trip in September, I have some material to keep posting weekly for quite a while.

Thursdays will stay either a day off or I may use it to spotlight an author, do a cover reveal, or post a second review if it just can’t wait until the following Tuesday.

Food Talk Friday will be back. Restaurant reviews, recipes, or food memories.

Please come back tomorrow for a review of the amazing new book, MRS. OSWALD CHAMBERS by Michelle Ule. You’ll be glad you did!