Sunday, June 23, 2013

Born and Raised in a Small Town

As John Cougar Melloncamp sang, I was raised in a small town. People valued Main Street, with Woody’s grocery, Odell’s drugstore, the library, bank, you get the idea. We even had a men’s clothing store and a fabric shop. Mom knew if I walked downtown after school for a scout meeting, my friends and I were safe.

My work in progress is set in the fictional small town of Turtle Creek, Ohio.  The town’s growing in size and acquiring a taste for arts and crafts, college kids and coffee.  I’ve enjoyed researching and visiting small towns as I pieced Turtle Creek together.

One of the villages I considered is on my route to and from work. The street corners host huge planters of pink petunias accented by purple and green. The sidewalks have a terra cotta brick trim. The drug store window invites the shopper in with an eclectic array of gift items. They even have a donut shop, florist and antique store, that make you want to stop and visit. Yet, the sites I enjoy most are not stores or eateries, but murals. This little town boasts a painting that invites the passerby for donuts or pizza. The other rings out the history of the town. If you’re familiar with Williamsburg, Ohio, you know what I’m talking about. A small town treasure.

Do you have a favorite small town? If so, where?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review-The Face of the Earth: A Novel

By Deborah Raney

Mitch’s wife, Jill, calls to say she’ll be home for dinner. Except, she never arrives. It’s as if she’s disappeared into thin air. His neighbor Shelley wants to help find her best friend, but she’s not sure how close she should get to Mitch. Life needs to move forward, but how, when someone you love is missing?

I lost some sleep over this page turner, filled with questions, suspicions and the perfect thread of tension. This story opens the door to speculation and understanding of what it must be like to wait on the missing person to come home. Do they put life on hold for months or years at a time? Or do they move forward as they hold on to hope? Faith is tested and prayers are flung at God as Mitch, Shelley and their teenage children search for Jill.

Deborah penned a beautiful story of characters with real flaws, broken dreams and faith that carries them through.

Do you like characters with 'real' flaws? If so, who's your favorite?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Going to Summerfair

What do the buttery smell of popcorn, fiddles, harmonicas, a women’s barbershop quartet, and row after row of vendor’s booths filled with colorful art have in common? They are all a part of the annual Summerfair in southwest Ohio.

Early Saturday morning, my daughter and I trekked through one of the largest art and craft shows in the country. We enjoyed meeting the artisans and seeing the work of their hands. I appreciated that many of the artist’s found a way to capture God’s creation on canvas or some other creative form. Photographers, painters, jewelry makers, fiber artists found a way to bring the beauty of the world into focus.

Every vendor invited to participate went through a juried system. Of the one hundred plus artists, I’m posting my top ten favorites, so you can have a taste of Summerfair, too.

Top Ten (You’ll want to see them all):

Is there an art and craft show near you, which you enjoy?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Needle in Hand

I’ve had some kind of needle in my hand since I was five years old. I started with an embroidery needle and floss. I’m sure my early stitches mimicked scratches on a hieroglyphic wall. As my eye-hand coordination improved, I took time to perfect my skills. With practice and interest, I moved on to a quilting needle, sewing machine, crochet hook, latch hook, and a failed attempt at knitting needles.

A few years ago, one of the professor’s in the art department at the local college offered a class on felting wool. I thought I’d give it a shot. This class did not involve a needle, just the gentle motion of my hands in warm water and wet wool. I gave my best attempt to move the materials around in the water at a slow, easy pace. That lasted about ten minutes. My patience wore thin and so did the wool. I finished the project and then walked away. Not long ago, this same teacher offered a workshop on needle felting. Note the word needle. I loved it. Since then, I’ve created a few items myself and plan to make more. I guess I just needed a needle in my hand in order to create.

To integrate this new hobby into my life I:
  • ·         Set aside a box to keep the supplies in
  • ·         Found venues to purchase supplies
  • ·         Looked at needle felting books
  • ·         Sketched out ideas
  • ·         Let my imagination roam
  • ·         Put the needle in hand and felted away

I enjoy learning new crafts, but I’m limited on time. Finding a way to incorporate my new hobby into my life adds an avenue for creativity and relaxation.

Do you have a creative outlet? What do you do to relax? If you do needle felting do you have any tips to share?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hope - Four Week Mini Bible Study

Click to go to Amazon
Heather’s life was secure, and she trusted that everything would be okay, until doctors diagnosed her husband with the rare disease, achalasia. As she clung to her faith, her husband reassured her of God’s continued care and prompted her to seek out the hope she knew she could find in God.

In order to refocus her hope, she journeyed through the scripture and discovered that she needed to stop praying for God to give her what she wanted, “and instead pray for what He wanted.”

As a result, Heather created a four-week study on hope. In each study, she offers scripture and thoughts, plus life applications and discussion questions.

Heather’s honest approach, spiritual insight, and conversational writing style welcomes readers to the joy of hope in Jesus. I recommend this Bible study to anyone who seeks spiritual renewal or a better understanding of the peace you find in God’s hope.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I've Been Reading - Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle

The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle

Jessica MacAllister is content to run her business and raise her son all by herself. That is, until life’s turned upside down by the return of her son’s substance addicted father. Concerned about her beloved Uncle George, she heads to Santa Cruz, California to help him move and to avoid the man she dreads seeing.

Widow, Evelyn Sweeney, wonders what happened to her first love. Should she try to find him? Or stay put and live out her life without knowing.

Nick, a firefighter, enjoys his single life, but hopes to meet someone special someday. Sooner would be better than later. But before he can focus on himself, he needs to help a troubled friend.

Like a fine weave, Sherry Kyle threads the stories of her characters together as they search for peace and love. Jessica, George, Evelyn, and Nick share more than one mysterious bond as they are drawn together. 
Through faith and hope, the characters struggle to seek God’s guidance and follow his path.

The author tells a beautiful story of hope and redemption. She creates a lovely setting and believable
characters who will steal your heart. This would be a great beach read as well as a good book for a book club. Anyone who enjoys women’s fiction, with a touch of romance, will enjoy the twists, turns, and tale of true love.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Visit to the Forest

 My husband and I drove south to visit our youngest daughter. I enjoyed the area she lives in, including the local coffee shop. The Forest Coffeehouse, aptly named due its proximity to the Smokey Mountains, offered just about any caffeinated drink a soul might crave, including Snow Leopard, Coconut Chai, Mate' Latte', Dirty Dirt Black Cat Chai, plus several decaf delights. They served scones filled with fruit and lots of other treats. But, as much as I enjoyed the coffee, that’s not the best part of the adventure.

I loved the atmosphere, laid back with a dose of ecstatic energy. Creativity and the desire to learn saturated the air. A man journaled, at a round table, beside the picture window.  Students worked on laptops and studied for finals. A group planning the local Strawberry Festival gathered and tossed ideas around. They even reserved a spot to sell local crafters' wares. 

From the art of the barista making a drink to the inspirational juices that flowed from the customers, a trip to The Forest Coffeehouse injected me with a hearty dose of excitement to get back to editing my novel. 

Where do you go to plug in to creative juices?