Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Darn Good Yarn Subscription Box

Subscription boxes... you hear all about them, but are they worth it? Some are, and some aren't -IMHO. I have tried quite a few and will discuss them in future posts, but I really need to share one that I'm currently subscribed to now. It's called the Darn Good Yarn of the Month Subscription Box from Darn Good Yarn. When I subscribed to it, there was a code that made the first month free. At the time of this post, I see the code is still active. It is at the top of the page in large white letters on a blue header. If you're interested in trying this out - now's the time! The normal price for each month is $10 plus shipping. The cost of shipping will depend on where you live, but for me here in the US, it is about $4.

What separates Darn Good Yarn from other yarns? Their yarn is made from reclaimed silk that would have been normally just thrown away! I love the idea of making something useful out of something that would just become more landfill. The yarn is interesting. I've used three different skeins of their yarns and have enjoyed each one of them. They are, of course, silk and they are a lot of fun to work with.

The subscription boxes contain a pattern, a skein of yarn and a surprise. The pattern has both a crochet version and a knit version of a project, so you don't have to worry about choosing one that is for your favorite craft. I love the versatility of the kit. Sometimes I like the knit version of the project better than the crochet version, and vise versa.  My first kit allowed me to add a surprise item for $5. Of course, I had to add it to the box! When my first kit arrived, it contained a pattern for a cowl, Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk in the Rainbow colorway, a set of knitting needles and a crochet hook, both in size 5.0mm (their surprise) and the $5 surprise was a skein of Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk in the colorway Crimson Fire.

Since both skeins of yarn were the same type, I worked up both versions of the pattern. The crochet version is called Ripples Neckware by Victoria Dorn, and it was the perfect design to use the Rainbow colorway with.  This cowl worked up so quickly and in the round, so there was no seaming and just ends to weave in.  I love how bright and cheery this cowl is. Although you cannot really see it in the photo, this is done in a ripple pattern.

The knit version, called Snow Big Deal Cowl by Darn Good Yarn was knit using the Crimson Fire colorway of the Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk. Both cowls turned out nicely. The directions are easy enough for a beginner and each uses one whole skein. I did have a very small amount left from the crocheted version, but used the whole skein with the knit version.

My second box contained a pattern, a skein of Darn Good Yarn Fancy Twist Silk in the colorway Pink Flamingo and a needle bag. The bag is the perfect size to hold the needle set included in the last shipment. Each month, a few items are offered at a special price to subscribers and you can add 1 or all of them to your shipment if you want. With this box, I chose a handcrafted yarn bowl. I had expected my shipping costs to go up with this added item, but it didn't! So no only did I get the bowl at a great price, but there was no extra charge to add it to my order.

The second box contained directions for an adorable bag called "Treasure Keeper Pouch" by Darn Good Yarn. It comes in both a knit and crochet version. I did the crochet version because the dimensions were a bit larger and the bag would be more durable. I followed the directions with no modifications and found I didn't have enough yarn to make my tie the length that was specified on the directions. I was off just a bit, but still had enough to make a decent size bow when I tied it.

I am enjoying the subscription so far and will continue it. So far, each skein of yarn has been 50 grams and the patterns are designed for the yarn you receive. I like that you can pause the subscription if you need to take a break from it for a bit. I find the yarns different and fun to work with and the patterns, so far have been useful. This bag will be used as a gift bag.

The hand made yarn bowl was an add on.
The needles, crochet hook and case were the surprise gifts
from shipments one and two
I'm looking forward to next month and can't wait to see what yarn and pattern I will get - as well as the surprise. There have also been a few nice offers of exclusive add-ons that I'm mulling over. I'm sure at least one will be added to my next shipment.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Handwriting On the Wall

~Author Unknown

A weary mother returned from the store,
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son,
Anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.

“While I was out playing and Dad was on a call,
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den.
I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow,
“Where is your little brother right now?”
She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride,
She marched to his closet where he had gone to hide.

She called his full name as she entered his room.
He trembled with fear–he knew that meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved
About the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.

Lamenting all the work it would take to repair,
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got,
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught!

She headed for the den to confirm her fears.
When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul with a dart.
It said, “I love Mommy,” surrounded by a heart.

Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it,
With an empty picture frame hung to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all,
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hearts Set Free

Hearts Set Free
Author: Jess Lederman
Publisher: Azure Star, LLC
Paperback, 398 pages
ISBN: 9780998603018
Genre: Christian Fiction

About the Book:

Hearts Set Free weaves together three tales of men and women who journey from the darkness of doubt to triumphant faith and from the ache of loneliness to everlasting love:

In 1930, the rag-tag riffraff of a railway stop called Las Vegas need a fighting man to shepherd their tiny church after their pastor is murdered. Might David Gold, a washed-up boxer and Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin' Preacher, be the answer to their prayers?

At the same time, Luke, a native Alaskan boy, is on a quest to find his father, who has abandoned his family for a beautiful woman his mother vows to kill. Little do mother or son imagine that their journey will take them to a small town in Nevada where demons and angels walk among men.

In 2011, Science Cable T.V. producer Tim Faber is determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his lover, Joan Reed, strives to regain the faith of her youth. They're bound for Las Vegas to meet with 99-year-old Luke, who holds the key to a mystery they must solve--and answers that will forever change their lives.

Hearts Set Free is a coming-of-age story with strong female characters and historical figures who interact with an unforgettable fictional cast.

My Thoughts:

I will admit, when I first started this book, I really wondered what I got myself into. I had a hard time at first with the time jumps and I abandoned it for a couple of weeks. At that time, I was down with the crud, and I probably had issues of concentration because of feeling so absolutely miserable.

I gave it a second try, and I'm happy I did. The second time, I was mesmerized by the characters and how everything unfolded and linked together. These stories of going from doubt to faith are amazing and just what I not only love to read, but needed to read!

Usually after I finish a wonderful book like this, I pass it on to someone else. This time, I've given it to a family member with the request that it comes back so that I can read it again. I am sure I've missed a number of things that I'll be catching the next time I read it.

Hearts Set Free is a historical/current time Christian fiction book that is worth reading - and reading more than once. It has some fantastic and strong well developed characters that I ended up loving. Make sure to add this one to your must read list this year!

About the Author:

JESS LEDERMAN graduated with a B.A. in music from Columbia University in New York, and a lust for expensive pianos drove him to an unexpected career in finance. As a young man, Lederman gained much that the world had to offer and became a gambler, womanizer, and arrogant atheist. Then the writings of Francis Collins, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald transformed his life, inspiring him to become a follower of Christ.

Lederman is the founder of the website The Works of George MacDonald and is well known worldwide to fans of the much-loved Scottish minister and novelist. He published over forty anthologies on the global financial markets during his business career and now devotes himself to writing fiction. Lederman remarried after his first wife’s passing and lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two young sons. To keep up with Jess, visit his newly designed website: .

I received a copy of this book from JKS to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students - Review

The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students: Study Guide with Leader's Notes
Author: Kristen Hatton
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press; 2018
ISBN: 978-1948130066

About the Book:

The first in a series of small group studies for teens and young adults that traces God s story of redemption through the whole Bible, The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is a twelve-lesson resource written by Kristen Hatton to teach students how to study God's Word and connect it to their lives.

As students come together to read and discuss they will discover that, just like the ancient Israelites, we all need a Redeemer. As the Israelites grumble, complain, disobey, worship false gods, and try to be their own Savior, teens and young adults will see that they too do those same things. But they will also see how God gives grace to the guilty and over and over again comes to the rescue, pointing to the deliverance of God s people that is later fulfilled in Christ and the gospel.

With each easy-to-use, self-contained lesson that requires no outside work and can be completed in just one hour, teens and young adults will find and meet Jesus in unexpected places and see the pattern of redemption present even in the Old Testament. As they learn that the entire Bible is one unfolding story about Jesus, and that the same God who spoke to Moses also sent his Son to redeem us from our sins, study participants will better learn how to read Scripture and view it as the manna needed for their daily life.

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, I won't be able to comment on the scriptures or how doctrinally correct they are. I have had some issues with blood clots and my eye, so had to put things aside, causing me to become seriously behind on reading and studying. My notes were separate as I was using a egalley instead of a hard copy, and for the life of me, I cannot find those notes! So, this won't be the indepth review that I had originally planned. My sincere apologies.

First, it appears The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is a combination of both leader guide and student study guide. That may be a plus or a minus, depending on your needs and your personal preferences. This also does not use the KJV, so, I'm not recommending it. The book focuses on Exodus and how it pertains to teens, life and Christ. It is supposed to get them focused and interested to dive into group discussions and hopefully will lead them to study more on their own.

This is one of the few studies on the market geared towards teens and it had some good points as well as some things I wasn't so sure about. I just wish I could find those notes to discuss it more. If I find them, I'll make another post and will post a much more indepth review.

I received an egalley of this book to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel - Review

Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel
Author: Drew Hill
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press; 2018
ISBN: 978-1945270895

About the Book:

Alongside is a much-needed resource for both parents and those in youth ministry. In this transformative book, Drew Hill unpacks the challenges teenagers face and how youth leaders and parents can share the gospel with them at this crucial age. Full of practical insight and biblical knowledge, Alongside is an invitation to love teenagers well with the hope of the gospel.

Our teenage friends are full of questions and longings. They're trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and if they matter during this pivotal time of development all while facing new realities of loneliness and isolation, despite their social media followers.

Teenagers want to be chased, and Alongside brings Scripture to life and helps parents and those in youth ministry practically connect the life of Jesus to the lives of their adolescent children and friends.

Through Scripture and captivating personal stories from years of experience working in youth ministry, Hill pulls back the curtain and invites readers to step into the unfiltered world of teenagers.

How do we start meaningful conversations with our teenage friends? How do we build trust across the dining room table? What would it look like to prayerfully cultivate a group of leaders or parents with a shared goal of seeing Christ transform the lives of teenagers in our communities? What does Jesus have to say about caring for our middle or high school friends and how can he use us in his plan to rescue them?

Alongside offers practical application and biblical truths to highlight the complexities of relational youth ministry, address the needs real teenagers encounter in their daily lives and engage their hearts rather than just their behavior. Hill explores what it looks like to not only share the love of Jesus with our teenage friends but to share our very lives with them as well.

My Thoughts:

Alongside is definitely a book written by someone who knows teens and how to communicate with them. Drew Hill does a remarkable job of illustrating how to work with teens and connect with them. I promise you, that reading this book will give you much needed insight - no matter how much you think you know about talking to this age group. Kids need you to be on their level and believe me, this book will show you how to get there.

This book is a must for anyone who has a teen, knows a teen or works with a teen. It will change not only how you communicate with them, but will open a great door of understanding towards them. This is the secret to success to pass on the Gospel without them shutting down on you.

I received an egalley of this book to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Patchwork: A Memoir of Love and Loss

Patchwork: A Memoir of Love and Loss
Author: Mary Jo Doig
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publish Date: October 23, 2018
Paperback: 344 pages
ISBN: 9781631524493

About the Book:

Tightly wrapped in a lifelong protective cocoon, Mary Jo has no idea how wounded she is until one starless night following the death of a relative, she has a flashback that opens a dark passageway back to her childhood and the horrific secrets buried deep inside her.

Like a needle stitching together a quilt, the memories she recovers reveal why she feels invisible, stupid, and different. Shattered by these revelations, overcome by depression, hopelessness, and a loss of trust in others, Mary Jo embarks on a healing journey through the underground of her life that ultimately leads to transformation.

My Thoughts:

When I first started reading this memoir, I felt like I was sitting in my living room with Mary Jo Doig and listening to her tell her story. I was captivated from the start and unlike many memoirs I have read, this one was truly interesting - like listening to your mother tell her life story. I picked my mother, because if she were alive, she would be almost the same age as the author.

Her story begins from childhood and this is told as she tells about her quilt that she has been working on. It's captivating and told so well - you feel an immediate connection with the author. As the story proceeds, one finds something is off, and as Mary Jo continues, you will find yourself holding your breath and possibly finding it so difficult to read, you'll have to set the book aside.

Mary Jo's journey to truth and healing is a powerful, powerful story. It will awaken feelings inside you and make you want to deal with those that had made her hit bottom and lose hope and trust. This woman is amazing and her story is well worth the read. Be warned it is difficult at times to get through and may even awaken old memories of friends and family members in your own past. Just know that when one hits bottom - there's only one way to go - UP - and that's what Mary Jo did.

Please note - This book contains abuse - sexual, mental and physical and may not be appropriate for younger audiences or those sensitive to this type of material.

About the Author:

Mary Jo Doig is a life-writing enthusiast who has been coaching women to tell their truth for twenty years. She is a book reviewer, editor, and facilitator of women’s writing circles and legacy workshops.

Her stories have been published in Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories and Kitchen Table Stories. Mary Jo writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she treasures quilting, cooking healthy food, hiking with her rescue dogs, and spending time with family and friends.

Patchwork is her first book.

Visit Mary Jo at:

I received an egalley of this book from the publicist. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life

Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life
Author: August Turak
Illustrator: Glenn Harrington
Publisher: Clovercroft Publishing
Publish Date: October 21, 2018
ISBN: 9781945507946
Hardcover: 48 pages

About the Book:

The Templeton Prize winning story of a magical encounter between the author and a Trappist monk. Brother John becomes our guide to the redemptive power of an authentically purposeful life.

Recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, Brother John is the true story of a meaningful encounter between a man going through a mid-life crisis, and an umbrella-wielding Trappist monk. This magical encounter on Christmas Eve eventually leads the author, and us all, to the redemptive power of an authentically purposeful life. Uplifting, deeply moving, and set in the magnificent Trappist monastery of Mepkin Abbey, Brother John is dramatically brought to life by over twenty full color paintings by Glenn Harrington, a multiple award-winning artist. Brother John's inspirational message takes place at Christmastime, and its inspirational message and rich illustrations are sure to bring the reader back again and again throughout the year.

My Thoughts:

What is the purpose of life? A simple question that has no simple answer - or does it and we just make it complicated?

This amazingly beautiful book focuses on the author's time spent at Mepkin Abby on Christmas Eve with the Trappist monks. His writing is meaningful with a message that is powerful and interesting. He focuses on one of the monks, Brother John, and uses him as an example of love, peace and grace. Brother John is the author's stepping stone to an answer to his most pondered question.

This is a book that you will need to read at a slower speed than a regular "story book" as there is so much to absorb with the author's observations and realizations. I personally had to go through this book a few times, as I was completely distracted by the GORGEOUS illustrations. This is a book that will be a part of my permanent library. Although it takes place on Christmas eve, the message and the beauty of the book will have you returning again and again and not just at Christmas time.

The one thing I did miss was the lack of a message about God and Jesus. It is somewhat implied but never really mentioned. For me, I found more credit to the monks than God and I'm not totally sure how I feel about that - especially if one that may not be a Christian were to pick up this book and read it from a secular point of view.

About the Author:

AUGUST TURAK is a successful entrepreneur and award-winning author who attributes much of his success to his 20-year stint as a frequent monastic guest of the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey. As a monastic guest, he lives and works alongside the monks sometimes for months at a time.

I received a copy of this book from FSB Media. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.


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