Monday, September 18, 2017

Rhys Bowen Mystery Books Review

So What Have You Been Reading Lately?

(Not a sponsored or gifted post)
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I can answer that question. Evan Evans Mysteries written by Rhys Bowen! These books have become my new reading obsession and I have devoured quite a few in the last six months!

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If you haven't tried any of the series written by Rhys Bowen, I urge you to give them a try. She writes three different series; Evan Evans Mysteries, Molly Murphy Mysteries and A Royal Spyness Mystery. I've read books from all three series but my two favorites of her series are #1 Evan Evans and #2 A Royal Spyness. Nothing wrong with Molly Murphy, but it just hasn't captured my attention so much as of yet.

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I had read a couple of the Royal Spyness books in the last couple of years and enjoyed them. This series, set in the 1930's, is based on the life of Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a young woman who is 34th in line to the English crown and has no money. She is usually called upon to do some task by the Queen and ends up in a mystery of some sort in which she is typically irritated by her cheapskate brother, Binky, and his wife, and is assisted and rescued by her valiant love interest, Darcy. I find this series to be more lighthearted and funny than the other books Rhys Bowen writes.

My true reading obsession over the summer, however, has been the Evan Evans series. Set in present day Wales, the series begins by introducing the reader to Evan Evans, a policeman in the village of Llanfair. Evan lives in a local boarding house and does his best to take care of the crimes, large and small, in his quaint village. You meet wonderful characters that reoccur in each book such as Evans-the-Meat, Evans-the-Post, Evans-the-Milk, Betsy, the buxom barmaid who keeps her eye on Evan, and Bronwen, the local schoolteacher who captures Evan's heart. The books in the series cover serious topics while still injecting humor and a little romance. I especially enjoy the ongoing "feuds" between the two local churches played out by the scriptures displayed on the church front signs each week. Tidbits of Welsh language is also strewn throughout the books and adds a touch of realism to the setting. I have been making trips regularly to my public library to get these books in the series and I am sad because I think I may have read them all at this point! Hopefully, she will write some new titles. 

If you are interested in reading books by Rhys Bowen you can read about each series at the following links:

http://rhysbowen.com/the-evan-evans-series/
http://rhysbowen.com/the-royal-spyness-series/
http://rhysbowen.com/the-molly-murphy-series/

So, what have you been reading lately? Hope you'll leave me a comment!

Until Next Time,
Debbie


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday Scriptures: Dealing With the Shoulds of Life

Letting Go Of The Shoulds 

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Does anyone else besides me have trouble letting go of the "shoulds" in life? By this, I mean letting go of guilt over things we are doing rather than things we think we "should" be doing. As in...I should be sweeping the floor instead of reading this book. Or....I should be taking a walk instead of eating a cookie. And my personal favorite....I should be writing a chapter of my book I keep intending to finish instead of working on the blog. I could keep going, you know. There are lots of "shoulds" in my life. How about yours? Usually my list of shoulds have something to do with my doing something that I actually enjoy and that comes easily to me instead of doing something that is less interesting....or scary.....or hard.....or thought provoking....or boring....or....well, you get the picture. 

Sometimes, I wonder where my list of "shoulds" comes from. Some of them come from society. As in, "to be healthy you should get 30 minutes of exercise daily." Hence, my guilt over that extra cookie I just ate. And over my lack of desire to exercise, even though I really do want to be healthy. (Sigh)

Sometimes, we get shoulds from advertisements. They may be subliminal, but they are there none the less. Like when you see the kid getting ready to cut his sister's hair with a smirk on his face and his Mom just smiles and grabs her dusting mop and within seconds the floor is immaculate and shiny. That dust mop just took care of everything didn't it? (No mention of disciplining the child by the way). Wouldn't it be great if we could just dust mop life's problems away? According to that commercial, that's what we should be doing. Who knew all it took was a dust mop?

Let's face it. We get "shoulds" from all over the place. Television, magazines, groups and organizations we belong to, our families, books. We read or observe or hear about something and suddenly we realize that is the thing we should be doing, or eating, or buying, or listening to, or participating in...

To be honest, I'm not entirely certain where I'm going with this post. But, it seems to be a topic that is on my mind today. Perhaps it is because I am debating some "shoulds" and trying to make up my mind about how to proceed. It sometimes feels like a tug of war within ourselves, doesn't it? 

Not all "shoulds" are bad, of course. Some are there to protect us and keep us safe. We were taught as children that we should look both ways before crossing the street. If we don't, we can get run over. Likewise, we are told that we should wash our hands before eating. If we don't, we risk getting sick from germs. These are some pretty basic shoulds, of course, but you get the point, right? Some shoulds are important. 

In Luke, Chapter 10, Jesus arrives at the home of Mary and Martha. He is made to feel quite at home by Martha, who worked busily in the kitchen. I'll bet Martha had a whole list of "shoulds" don't you? They didn't have those dust mops back in Biblical times, but I bet if they did, Martha would have had one! I picture her house as immaculate and her meals to be perfection. Martha thought she knew what her sister, Mary, should be doing. And that was helping her in the kitchen. Scriptures tell us that she said the following: (from The Message version)

"Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tall her to lend me a hand."

Don't you just hate it when other people think they know what you should be doing? And don't you just hate it when you yourself are struggling to decide between doing something you think you should be doing and what you really want to be doing? Do you suppose that Mary had any of these feelings as she sat at the feet of Jesus instead of working in the kitchen? And, was Martha really happy cooking and being the perfect hostess? Or did she just think that this is what she should be doing while, secretly, she really wanted to be in there listening to Jesus herself? Here is how Jesus replied to Martha.

"Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it-it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."

Sometimes, when I read this scripture, I like to remove Martha's name and put in my own. "Debbie, dear Debbie, you're fussing far too much and getting worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential...."

It sounds to me like the only true should is the one where we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.

What do you do about the "shoulds" of life?

Blessings,
Debbie





Friday, September 15, 2017

Leggings or Jeans and a Tote Bag Trick

Styling A Checkered Shirt

When I decided to do a photo shoot of this checkered shirt on the blog, the plan was to style it with leggings as you see above. However, after taking several photos and looking at them I decided....no, maybe not, this is not a good look. I felt that the shirt didn't come down quite far enough to hide the top of my legs and I felt that the look was unflattering. Luckily, in this photo, I am holding the clutch bag strategically, so my upper leg is covered. So, I changed my plans and my clothing.


At least, I changed part of my clothing. Instead of leggings I went with skinny jeans and added tennis shoes and my new tote bag. More on the tote bag later. 


Since the shirt doesn't have the length of a tunic it needs the structure of a heavier pant in my opinion. I like this look better on me. I also decided to belt the shirt to emphasize my waist. It's a very casual look, especially with the tennis shoes, but even though it is casual, the look is still polished. I really like this shirt and have been wearing it like crazy. I also bought the shirt in a pink/tan check pattern. 


Now, let me share my tote bag trick. For awhile I have been trying to move to smaller purses that don't hang off my shoulder causing pain. Those shoulder bags can get really heavy and hurt, especially if I am walking around with the purse on my shoulder while I shop or run errands! The problem was, though, that the smaller purses/clutches didn't have room to carry all my things. What to do?


So, I simply carry a smaller purse/clutch that I toss into the tote bag with the other things I need such as my snacks, hairbrush, book to read, water bottle, etc. The tote bag stays in the car and I can remove the smaller purse to carry with me into stores for shopping. I'm loving this solution and I have a variety of totes in various colors that I use for this purpose. Problem solved!

Checkered pattern shirts seem to be trending this season. Have you jumped on board with one? And have you tried carrying a tote? Hope you will chime in and share your thoughts. I love hearing from you!

*By the way, after writing this post, I was trying to figure out which term to use....checkered, checked or plaid for the shirt. I discovered all could be used fairly interchangeably, although the size of the pattern might need to be more uniform to say plaid. Just an interesting tidbit!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Linking With:

Marilyn's Treats-Over the Moon

Monday, September 11, 2017

Repurposing A Sewing Basket for Jewelry Storage

Giving Second Life to An Old Sewing Basket


A few months ago, I found a larger sewing basket at Goodwill that better suited the amount of sewing paraphernalia I have accumulated. But, I couldn't bring myself to part with my older, smaller sewing basket.


This smaller basket had been a gift many years ago from my oldest sister and I couldn't bear to give it away. So, for these last months it has sat empty on a shelf in our spare bedroom. 


A couple of days ago, it dawned on me that this would be an excellent place to hold some of my costume jewelry that was sitting either loose on my dresser or in a couple of containers. This is much more organized, with room to see what I have.


There's even room on the lid to hang earrings, hair clips and tuck a bracelet in the pocket! 

Have you found different ways to use a sewing basket other than for sewing supplies? Can you think of some new ways? Hope you'll take a moment to share.

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #32-When The Storms of Life Are Raging

Getting Through The Storms

As I am writing this, we are anticipating that Hurricane Irma will hit the Florida coast tomorrow. It has already caused much damage in the Caribbean and is called a "monster" storm. Texans have already felt the ravages of Hurricane Harvey and are trying to recover from that storm. It seems every day different "storms" are announced on the news. Sometimes these storms are weather related. Other storms are related to immigration issues, threat of war and people's inhumanity to others. Each of us can probably think of personal "storms" we are going through in our own lives. It seems that storms of some kind are always imminent.

There is a hymn that we sing frequently at church, that is on my mind today. I am going to share the first line with you as I feel it is relevant to all we are facing today. The words and music to *"Stand By Me" are by Charles Albert Tindley (1906).

"When the storms of life are raging, stand by me;
When the storms of life are raging, stand by me;
When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea,
Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me."

I pray that we all can take comfort in remembering that, no matter what storm we face, God rules over the wind and water of life. May God's blessing and safety be with us all today.

Blessings,
Debbie

*Source of hymn lyrics, The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989 edition. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My September Foyer Decor

Just A Touch of Fall In The Foyer


How can it possibly be September? Does anybody else besides me think the summer went really fast? There is a crisp Autumn coolness in the air now. Today, when I went out to run errands it was only in the 50's! I'm definitely ready to add some Fall decor, but I'm not ready for lots of orange yet. So, I was pleased to come across these sweet pumpkins in creme and green. 


I think they add just the right touch to my September foyer table display. You may recognize the placemat from my Summer Tablescape post I did recently. And, I thought the deco pear coordinated well with the look. Sort of a nod to September harvest time. The whitewashed pumpkin in back is wooden. I'm really starting to like the white/creme color decorations and am considering more for Christmas and Winter decorations. 


I found this sweet lamp on sale on the clearance rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond at the waterfront while I was in the Pittsburgh area. One of my sisters already owned one so I knew how pretty it is. It is great for adding ambient light to a dark corner.


This is what it looks like with the lights on. Each light is a flower shape. The branches are bendable so they can be arranged in a variety of ways. I think this tree will work well not only for Fall, but also at Christmas and then afterward for Winter decor. 


Now, this is what I'm using for a simple Fall wreath. I picked up two pine cone and leaf garlands on the $3 shelf at Target the other day. I simply interwove the two garlands together and shaped them into a circular shape, then hung it on the door. I think this looks OK, but it would probably be better if I bought a plain foam wreath, covered it with fabric and then wove these garlands around it. But, I'm OK with this as is for now.


Finally, I want to show you this pretty quilt I picked up at a shop I love to go to when I visit my hometown in West Virginia. The store is called Mulberry Lane. I was attracted to the pretty quilt pattern, but also to the bear figures and paw prints. I just knew how lovely this would look hanging over the banister in my foyer. However, a certain cat (Cassie!) decided to play with it and seemed interested in even wanting to jump up on the banister to explore it. So, this lovely quilt is now a topper on our bed. It's not a full size quilt, it's more of a throw, measuring 50"x60", so it is only a topper on the bedspread. I really liked the way it looked in the foyer but, alas, I don't want my sweet kitty to get hurt by falling off the banister, so to the bedroom it goes! 

Are you doing any Fall decorating at your home? Hope you will take a moment to leave a comment. Your comments make my day! I'll be pinning these foyer decor pictures to my pinterest page. Feel free to pin them, as well, and point others to debbiethisandthat.com!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My Little Blue Dress....and an Introduction

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Hello readers! Did you have a good Labor Day? Ours was very low key which was nice after all my travels. In fact, I just finally got my suitcase fully unpacked and laundry finished this past weekend. Should I even admit that?! It always takes me awhile to get things back to normal after a trip. I want to share another LBD with you today. But, this time, it's a Little Blue Dress that I bought while I was traveling. 


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I saw this dress at a Walmart in West Virginia and it was offered in an assortment of colors. Since I had recently purchased a little black dress, I decided to go with blue this time. Although the dress is similar in style to my black dress, this one stands out because of the faux turtleneck collar. I really like that feature. The material is a little thinner than the black dress I purchased at Stein Mart. But, the price was also much less. This little blue dress cost $9 and some change which is a wonderful price point! 


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Blue is such a favorite color of mine, that I decided to accessorize with blue as well. There's a whole lot of blue going on in this outfit! The loafer style I'm wearing (or maybe it's a moccasin style?) is by Aerosoles. It says "StitchNTurn" on the inside of the shoe. When I bought these quite awhile ago at DSW, I was attracted to the blue suede color and the silver buckle and tassels that add that "something extra" to the look. These shoes are very comfortable. The link I'm providing doesn't show the tassels. 


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I've had this handbag for a long, long time. Sometimes, when I am on a clean-out binge, I have considered not keeping it but I always decide to hang onto it. I like the blue and white colors, the zipper opening (which opens extra large) and the carry handles. It's a perfect match for this outfit! The brand, for anyone who is interested, is VR Classic. I found an Etsy link that shows a rare VR Classic purse which sure looks similar to mine. Told you I had this purse for a long time!!


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I love the way this dress feels against my skin and the swing style is flattering and comfortable. The dress is a little longer in the back than the front which is nice. I think blue is one of those colors that can be mixed and matched with different blue shades and it looks good. You can see different shades of blue with the dress, my jewelry, my handbag and the shoes...and yet all of the shades work together well in this ensemble. 


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So, if you like this look you might want to head on out to Walmart and see what they have in this style. Like I mentioned earlier, they had this dress in different colors. And you can't beat the price! This isn't a sponsored or gifted post. I just like the dress! OK..are you ready for an introduction???


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I would like to introduce you to our new cat, Cassie!  We've actually had her as a member of our family for several weeks now, but due to the tragic loss of our Frisky and out of respect for him, I waited until now to introduce Cassie Cat. She is a joy to have in our family. She looks so much like my first cat, Morris, that it is uncanny. But, she certainly has her own personality and has quickly been teaching us the ropes of being her humans! It was very sad and shocking for us to have lost Frisky after only 10 days and this loss came after losing Gracie, Groucho and Annie in the past three years. So, it is wonderful to, once again, have a young and healthy cat who is rambunctious, playful and, most of all, loving, in our home once more! I'm sure you will be hearing more about her (and possibly from her) in the months and years to come!

Hope you'll take a moment to let me know what you think about the little blue dress and anything else you would like to share with me! And for those of you who are wondering, the Prayer Breakfast went very well this morning. It was well attended and it was a blessing for me to be with those lovely ladies. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Until Next Time,
Debbie