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3.17.2011

Back in Wisconsin and Missing California

I'm back to work after a trip to the Sacramento, CA area for a week. I'm having a terrible time getting back into the groove for working, but I'm trying. Seems like it's always easier to transition to vacation than it is to transition back to reality.

I had a fabulous trip and took over 400 pictures. Lots of them were pictures of flowers, since all we've seen here is snow for months. But some were of some cool salvage items for my Trash to Treasure decorating blog. And of course I took pictures of family as we visited.

Here's a peek at how I spent my vacation.
 I rode a gondola to the top of a hill on a winery tour in Napa Valley and then had lunch at a quaint deli named Napa Style in Yountville owned by TV chef Michael Chiarello.

I visited the Conservatory of Flowers in the Golden Gate Park, which is like the Central Park of San Francisco. I saw just a portion of this fabulous park.
 I saw the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach near Seal Rock in San Francisco.
 I watched the sun go down from the cliffs above the Golden Gate Bridge. Battery Spencer is a former military security point and the abandoned site serves as a scenic overlook now. Where once military guns focused on arriving ships, now tourists snap photos of the bridge and the city.
I finished off my visit with a trip to Sonoma wine and olive country. However, I didn't visit a winery this time. I visited Cornerstone Gardens, a fun salvage shop named Artefact Design & Salvage, and the town square at Sonoma. Of course it wouldn't be complete without a stop at Basque Boulangerie Cafe, a french style deli and bakery, as well as a chocolate and olive oil tasting at North Bay Made. The chocolate merlot ganache that they put in their truffles was out of this world.
It was amazing to see ripe olives just hanging from the trees all over the place. I wanted to take them all home!


Thanks for joining my brief tour of California!

3.08.2011

The Chasm by Randy Alcorn

I just finished reading a book for review and I wanted to share it with you.

The Chasm, might be called a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. Nick Seagrave has come to a vast dark chasm in his journey, but he can see the bright city of Charis (Greek for Grace) on the other side. The problem is that he has to figure out how to get there. This book is a visual allegory that represents the gospel in a way that some readers will connect with.

I had a difficult time following at first, as if I were dropped into a story and trying to figure out the characters. Then, I realized that this is part of another of Alcorn’s works titled “The Edge of Eternity”. The end of the book tells the reader that he or she can read the rest of Nick’s story in the novel.

This book is a good tool for getting discussion going with anyone who isn’t familiar with the gospel. I think it’s a good conversation piece. I found parts of it very predictable, but of course it would be since it borrows concepts from scripture. I found it a bit confusing at times. It seemed like there was such a big jump into the crux of the story. People who know the biblical account of Jesus will understand without question the concept of angry people nailing “The Woodsman” to a tree. However, this would be a stronger evangelistic tool if the story eased into it a little better. I felt a bit emotionally disconnected from the nailing part and that should have had a great personal impact in the story.

Readers who enjoy allegory will likely connect with this book. It’s short, which makes it a lot easier to read than some other allegories. Also, Alcorn is great with detail and description. Other readers will enjoy the pen and ink illustrations throughout the book that make this book unique from others.

I received this preview copy of the book free from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.


 Have you ever read any of Randy Alcorn's other books? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And remember, your comments make you eligible for the monthly drawing.

3.02.2011

Seasons of Hope

I've had so many Kindle freebies to announce lately that I've hardly had time to post any inspiration! Now that we're in March, I can finally see the end of winter approaching. Oh, I know, we'll have a few more snow storms to contend with- one coming tomorrow in fact. But, I can see the end approaching and the promise of green grass and warmer temps lures me with the promise that winter does really turn to spring, eventually.

Have you ever been in a situation that is like a change of seasons? Sometimes, we're gripped by a time of discouragement that seems to last so much longer than we'd ever hoped. But then, a small sign of hope comes when something in our circumstance changes and suddenly we can see a new season approaching. Like a single blade of a crocus leaf pushing through the snow, a small change can give us the hope we need to persevere.

I'm so thankful that winter isn't forever. And I'm also grateful that my seasons of discouragement aren't forever either. 

Are you in the midst of a trial? How do you cope? Have you seen the promise of a new season coming, or does it seem there's no end in sight for your struggle? I'm praying that those who need some encouragement will find it amid their difficulty.

3.01.2011

Thomas Nelson Announces Prize Giveaway

I thought you might be interested in an e-mail I just received from Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. Here's what they had to say:
We just wanted to let you know about something really exciting going on at Thomas Nelson! We have launched our "On The House" Sweepstakes! You have the chance to win one of thousands of prizes!
 
Stickers have been placed randomly inside the back cover of our books that are shipped to bookstores across the United States. Each sticker is a winner! Customers who purchase a Thomas Nelson title with a sticker in the back will win one of thousands of prizes, including Electronic Tablets, eReaders, a Thomas Nelson Library, and eBook downloads. A free mail-in entry option is also available and winners will be randomly drawn to receive the prizes.
 
For “On the House” entry forms, rules, and prize redemption visit http://www.thomasnelson.com/onthehouse. Sweepstakes ends April 30, 2011.
 
Thomas Nelson, Inc. is a leading provider of Bibles, products, and live events emphasizing Christian, inspirational and family value themes. For more information on the company and titles visit http://www.thomasnelson.com.
 
We wanted to let you know about this exciting opportunity! So visit your local book store, look for the House, find a sticker, buy the book, and win a prize!
Guess this gives me a good reason to pay a visit to my local Christian book store. 

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