Thoughts for Tuesday, February 5th

Outside my windows… it was crazy-warm today at over 50 degrees! We had to keep reminding ourselves that this does not mean that winter is even close to over.

Inside my house… I gave in an used bleach to clean my dishwasher. I’ve tried every dishwasher cleaner out there, and every DIY trick suggested by Google. No amount of citric acid, vinegar, or baking soda cleans my dishwasher, but bleach works every time. Much as I dislike bleach, it’s the only think that works for that application.

Counting 1000 gifts… the opportunity to write.

Prayers of the heart… thankful for safety when traveling.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin made spaghetti for dinner, which has become sort of her specialty. Her brothers all approve, and I’m thankful to have extra help when it comes to making meals!

From my playlist… Chlorine by Twenty-One Pilots. Yeah, I have pretty weird, eclectic music tastes.

From my reading list… Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner.

From my needlework basket… I’m working on a couple of sweater projects. One is for me, and one may be for someone else…

In the learning room… Little Guy has been practicing reading to me from one of his Frog and Toad books. I remember reading them when I was his age. Camo borrowed my copy of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel a few nights ago. Yes, it’s absolutely my book, and I bought it long before I had kids because it’s still my favorite kids book of all time. I love Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne!

Random ramblings… Are you telling me that with all of the short story ideas I have percolating, that none of them feature a hero that saves the day? How did this happen, and how fast can I come up with an idea and write it up for submission?

Profound ponderings… “I’ve been tested like the ends of a weathered flag that’s by the sea.” — From Chlorine by Twenty-One Pilots

Caught on film…

Book Review: 30 Days to Understanding the Bible

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, I liked the idea of brushing up some of the basics that I’ve learned over the years in a way that put the bits and pieces together into a well-ordered overview. Second, I thought this could be a great resource to use with some of my older kids in their studies.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible is part book, and part workbook. I’m not typically one who writes in books very often, but this is one book where you really should do the exercises and the self test at the end of each chapter. Because of this, if you’re using the book as part of a group study or homeschool class, you’ll ideally need a separate book for every participant. (I preferred FriXion pens for the exercises because they are erasable and didn’t bleed through the pages.)

The chapters are short, and you really can go through them in about 15 minutes on your own. If you’re going through the chapter as part of a group though, there’s easily enough material to discuss in a chapter to make a longer session though! In addition to the 30 chapters, there is a section with extra information, teaching helps, and several bonus chapters. (The one comparing the four gospels is interesting!)

Starting out with a list of the books of the Bible and what genres they can be grouped into, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible truly does start with basics and build from there. Even though I’d memorized the books of the Bible and knew the key events and people of the different time periods, I appreciated seeing those things brought together in this manner. I’m also glad that he included geography as part of the book. It’s never been my strongest suit, and going through it in this book finally gave me a better grasp of exactly where things happened.

Whether you’re completely unfamiliar with the basics of the Bible, or you’ve been in Sunday School all of your life, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible is worth going through. I definitely plan to add it to our curriculum plan for homeschooling!

Thoughts for Tuesday, January 15th

Outside my windows… it’s crazy-cold, but that means that the night sky has been spectacular these past few nights.

Inside my house… I’ve started sifting through books and packing some to give away. I know, that sounds crazy for someone who adores books as much as I do! But, there are some books that I enjoyed, or helped me at one time, but I don’t need them any longer. I’d rather pass them along to someone who would read them than let them sit on my shelves never to be picked up again.

Counting 1000 gifts… sunshine on the snow. It may be bitterly cold, but it’s still a pretty view.

Prayers of the heart… for upcoming work stuff and good decisions.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… There’s a mix of art projects and trying out a new game that Grandma sent home for them to borrow for a bit!

From my playlist… The main theme to “The Right Stuff” is my track of choice right now because even if you’re just writing a blog post, you still need an epic soundtrack.

From my reading list… Leaving Legalism by Kendra Fletcher. I just finished it and I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so much of a book in my life. I may have just finished reading it, but I’m reading through it again because it was that good.

From my needlework basket… socks for me, because I only knit for myself at the beginning of the year!

In the learning room… Getting back into our post-holiday routine has been good, and challenging, but maybe more challenging for me than for the kiddos!

Random ramblings… I have some baggage, and I’ve said more than once that Aaron (my IT Staff!) is practically a saint for all he’s put up with and for helping me unpack so much of that baggage. In spite of everything, I have a family I adore, and a home that’s a place where I feel safe. I don’t think think I realize how much of a treasure that is nearly as often as I should.

Profound ponderings… “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.” — J.R.R. Tolkien (Still think this is the most romantic line I’ve ever read, about my favorite literary couple ever.)

Caught on film…

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Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

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Thoughts for Tuesday, January 8th

Outside my windows… it’s been snowing again today. It’s dark but still snowing, so I don’t know how much has accumulated so far.

Inside my house… my waterbed sprung a leak today. It’s not as bad as it sounds. No sudden tidal wave or anything like that. Just enough work to be a bit of a frustration. At least Amazon offers one day shipping options.

Counting 1000 gifts… online ordering and overnight shipping!

Prayers of the heart… for folks going through tough times, and for my own still-sore back.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… they are working on some perler bead projects. They’ve all been such a huge help while my back is healing, and I’m so thankful for their good attitudes towards helping out!

From my playlist… I’m not listening to music at the moment. Can you believe that?!

From my reading list… I have been listening to an audiobook after the kiddos go to bed though. The Magic Art of Tidying Up. I listened to it first a few years back and go through part of my paring down when life happened. With the kids help, I’ve gone through my clothes, and my IT staff’s and pared those down a bit, though neither of us had a huge amount of clothes to begin with. Some of the stuff in the book is a bit out there, but it is the book that made me finally understand that Mom wouldn’t want me to hold onto stuff that was hers that I didn’t like or use just because it was hers. That was a tremendous shift in how I was thinking about the things I kept!

From my needlework basket… switching off between socks, a sweater, and a shawl. All of them are things I’m knitting for myself. After all of the gift knitting during the last part of the year, I usually start off the new year working on projects that I can wear.

In the learning room… It was back to school last week, and the kids did really well getting back into the groove. It’s sort of nice to be back to a regular routine.

Random ramblings… There’s a cool app for my tablet called ISS HD Live. I’m mesmerized by the live video of Earth as seen from the ISS, and always sad when I check the app and there’s no live stream up at the moment. It’s so beautiful and peaceful to watch. Maybe sometimes we just need a bit of distance from the up close of our daily lives to realize just how good God’s creation is.

Profound ponderings… “There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Caught on film…

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Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

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The Best Laid Plans… And Grace

I had plans.

This was a rare 4-day weekend where I didn’t have to work, and the kids didn’t have school, and I had plans.

Of course, taking down the Christmas tree was at the top of my list. I was going to go through the clothes closet for the adults in our house and get that sorted. I was going to drop several bags of clothes off at the thrift shop. Grocery shopping was definitely in my plans. I would finish my Powersheets goal setting for 2019, maybe do some writing.

Saturday morning, I picked up a bag of coal just like I have about a thousand times since moving into our house. The only difference is that I threw my back out. To the point where, on Tuesday, it still hurts and brushing my teeth is a bit weird since I can’t exactly bend far enough to spit toothpaste into the sink. I do feel better than I did initially, but it’s becoming apparent that this is going to be slow going before I’m back to normal. Let’s just say, I’m not the most patient person ever.

I can sit on my yoga ball office chair the most comfortably, so at least I’ll be able to work on Wednesday. It also means that I’ve been able to sit at the dining room table. I discovered that I enjoy this new diamond art thing, and I have just about gotten my Powersheets prep done. I’m writing a blog post today, so that counts as writing. I feel a bit more productive, but still somewhat grumpy that I’m going to be stuck asking for help and relying on other people to do the heavy lifting for a bit longer.

It’s a little ironic. One of my goal for 2019 is to take better care of my own health. I’m very good at ignoring my health and picking up habits that are less than helpful in this area. I have a tendency to skip meals, get through the day on too much caffeine and sugar, quit exercising because I keep getting interrupted, and pretty much ignore how I don’t feel great until I can’t ignore it any longer. As Mom used to say, “You’re your own worst enemy kiddo.” Mom was usually right about these things. I guess all of those stretches and strengthening exercises that I’ve been neglecting will be going to the top of my to-do list.

I know that it can seem selfish to take time and energy to work on things like your own health, and your own personal and spiritual development. Most of my 2019 goals have to do with these things, and I’ll admit to feeling more than a little guilt! It’s not selfish though. My family will benefit if I’m healthy, if my faith is strong, and if I’m growing as a person. I know we all hear the comparison about putting on your own oxygen mask first, and if you’re like me, you roll your eyes at that point. It’s true though. If I’m not healthy, it not just me who suffers, it’s my family too. If I don’t invest in my faith, I can’t encourage my family in theirs. If I’m not actively pursuing the things that will make me grow and become more like the person God created me to be, then what sort of example am I setting for my kids? I can’t sit here and tell them how important it is for them to deepen their faith, take good care of their health, learn new things, or grow in character if I’m not doing those things too.

All of these “selfish” goals about my health, my faith, and my personal growth are not just about me. They’re about being a better wife and mom too. There’s a reason why Jesus told His followers to get the beam out of their own eye first! How can we build up others in their faith if ours is withering from neglect?

2018 was an interesting year. Hard in some ways, but sometimes you have to face a few of your own dragons to be ready to grow a bit more. I will say, the older I get, the more I realize how much I still have to learn! My desire for 2019 is that it will be a year where I get a little closer to being the version of myself that God has in mind. I’ve spent too many years trying to be the version of myself that will make people happy, and it’s taken me a few decades to understand what an empty pursuit that is. I’ve chased a lot of things looking for peace and fulfillment, and none of them have brought more than a fleeting taste of either. Part of me is ashamed because I know better, but I guess the stubborn part of me just has to learn some lessons the difficult way. Thankfully, there’s grace even for stubborn idiots like me!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? What happened in 2018 that still stands out to you? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

There’s something about a fresh year that makes me want to start a new journal, and a new devotional book! All three of these Devotional Journals are softcover with beautiful cover art and coordinating color artwork throughout the book. Each one features a ribbon bookmark and elastic to keep the book securely closed. The Devotional Journals feature a short devotional for each day of the year, and lines for journaling your reflections. They are dated, but you could still begin using it at any time by simply flipping to the current date.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus may be my favorite out of the three! The floral cover art is a watercolor style and I like the hint of floral art in the corner of each daily page. The devotionals are based on a concept from a hymn or Christian song, and so each day starts out with a line from the song.  A short devotional reading follows with a suggested scripture passage to read. The bottom half of the page consists of blank lines for journaling. The paper is a nice, thick quality with a smooth finish, and should hold up well to most pens. As much as I enjoy music, I love the idea of the daily entries being based on hymns and songs! This one would be ideal for the music lover on your list.

Peace Begins With Me starts right out with a devotional titled “A Promise of Peace”.  Many of the devotional readings have to do with finding our peace in God, and resting in His promises. Each page begins with a scripture passage, devotional reading, and short prayer. The bottom part of the pages is ruled for easy journaling. The cover art for this one is more of an abstract watercolor of varying shades of teal, and the page edges include the same design. The paper quality should hold up well to pen ink. This would be a nice option for someone who struggles with worry, or for someone who prefers a less floral artwork option.

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It is the Devotional Journal with a nature theme to the entries. The cover artwork featuring peacocks is just beautiful, and it’s carried throughout the book. Each page begins with a scripture, devotional reading, and a short prayer before the lined portion for journaling. All of the devotional readings have the theme of seeing God reflected in His wondrous creation. The paper is the same heavy quality as the other two journals. Nature lovers will appreciate a devotional journal that ties into their love of creation!

Any one of the Ellie Clair Devotional Journals would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys journaling and devotional books. Pick the theme that fits best for your recipient, include some nice pens, and maybe a box of tea and you have a gift basket ready to go! 

Top 8 Books for Gifting

I love books! I love receiving a book as a gift, and I love giving them too! If you’d like to purchase any of the books mentioned, just click on the book cover! Here’s my list of top 8 suggestions for books to gift this year:

I’m starting off with a 3-book Space Drifters series by Paul Regnier. Reading the series was the such a fun adventure! It wasn’t just me who loved the books though, my geeklings all thought it was a hilariously good series. Captain Glint Starcrost has become one of our favorite spaceship captains. Nothing ever goes quite to plan for Glint, but one of the things I love about his character is how he just rolls with it when everything goes wrong and tries his best to talk his way out of anything. He has mixed results with this approach… Speculative Fiction Comedy isn’t a huge genre, but this fits in with things like the TV series Eureka and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fans of sci fi who appreciate something that can make them laugh will read this series over and over. Since it’s a clean read, I’m find handing it off to my tweens and teens for them to read. (Even my 7-year-old liked it when I was reading the first book aloud to the kids!) If you do pick up any of the Space Drifter books as a gift, be sure to include a pair of red checked pajama pants. Trust me on this one!

Another 3-book series that just released the final book this year is Joshua Johnston’s Chronicles of Sarco series. The worldbuilding and the fascinating cultures created for the story pulled me in, and I was hooked! This reminded me in many ways of Star Trek, with various planets and people working together, and spaceships crewed by a diverse cast of characters. Naturally, the series starts with a new threat to the people of the universe… or is it an ancient threat? Uncovering the details of a nearly-lost religion that may hold the answers adds an element of mystery to the series too. If you have a Star Trek fan on your gift list, pick up the Chronicles of Sarco trilogy for them! This one is also a clean read, so I’d be comfortable handing it off to teens. I think it may be a little advanced for some tweens, but as always, parents should use their own judgement since they know their child better than anyone else.

Morgan Busse’s Soul Chronicles series is a set of just two books, but these stories pack a lot of punch! This series is what made me fall in love with steampunk stories. I’d never read anything from that particular genre before, since I’m usually more of a space opera fan, but Morgan did such a fantastic job with these books that I couldn’t put them down. Kat Bloodmayne is the main character, and my heart went out to the girl who wanted to be noticed by her father. Unfortunately, Kat has a secret that she must hide from everyone – especially her father! There are twists and turns aplenty, and who doesn’t love a story that involves airships? If any of the adults or teens on your list are fans of all things steampunk, then Soul Chronicles is perfect for them! This is another clean read that I wouldn’t hesitate to give to a teen, but some of the concepts explored would be a bit too much for tweens in my opinion.

For someone who prefers action with a futuristic twist Man Behind the Wheel by Steve Rzasa is a great pick! It imagines a future where not only have automated vehicles become the norm, but where few humans are even allowed to drive a vehicle themselves. Roman Jasko is one of the few authorized to drive because he’s one of the people who keeps an eye out for unauthorized drivers on the road. The story takes an interesting twist when a gang of criminals starts to rob people while they are “safe” in their automated vehicles. I thought the imagining of a time when folks no longer do the driving themselves was interesting, and it did make me ponder whether it would drastically reduce instances of serious car accidents. Still not convinced that I’d be OK with the idea of my car driving itself! While Man Behind the Wheel is technically speculative fiction, I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys action stories and thrillers, even if they don’t usually go for spec fic. There are a few mild swear words, but they are infrequent and pretty tame.

I’m not typically a big fan of YA books. I do like Jason Joyner’s new book Launch though! It’s the first book in a series, and currently the only one that’s out. If you have a young person on your list who loves superhero stories, then this is exactly the kind of book they would enjoy! I’ve read some YA books whose teenage characters only annoyed and irritated me. That’s not the case in Launch! I’m finding the characters to be believably imperfect humans, but still interesting and likeable. The mystery surrounding Alturas Collective and Simon Mazor adds an interesting angle to the story. I appreciate how faith is definitely present in the story, but fits seamlessly into it. This is a very clean, Christian story, and I would be completely comfortable with a tween or teen reading it. Honestly, Launch would make a nice family read aloud. The only real downside is that there’s just the first book out, but if you gift it to someone and they love it, you could always gift them book 2 next year!

No list of recommended books would be complete without the Firebird series by Kathy Tyers. It’s absolutely my favorite space opera series, and I’ve read it over and over. The first three books follow Firebird and the last two continue the story with her children and grandchildren. This is a brilliant example of Christian speculative fiction because the story is well written, and the elements of faith absolutely belong in the story. I own a few editions of the books in both print and e-book format. (Basically, if they publish a new edition of any of the Firebird books, I’m going to buy it!) Enclave Publishing released the first three books in the series with new covers a while ago, and now they are re-doing the covers of the last two books to match! Those will definitely have a place on my bookshelves! This series is ideal for Star Wars fans, and good for adults and teens. While there’s nothing objectionable in the books, some of the themes and topics touched on are a little more mature, so I wouldn’t recommend it for tweens, and suggest caution with younger teens.

In a similar vein is Anne Wheeler’s Asrian Skies series. It’s a two-book set, and a lovely space opera story. Avery Rendon is the main character, and since she’s a pilot, I liked her immediately! The story includes intrigue, political plots, betrayal, twists that I didn’t see coming, and a good romance to boot. While not explicitly “Christian” there are faith/religious elements that I appreciated and made me think at bit. There was one character that I just didn’t know whether to like or hate until the very end! Asrian Skies is a clean read and overall appropriate for teens and adults. One caution though: there is a character who is imprisoned and tortured. It’s not depicted graphically, but use caution when determining if your teen is ready to take on what is a somewhat more mature issue.

The last book in my list is the only one that doesn’t fit into the speculative fiction genre, but I loved it anyway! I enjoyed all of the books in Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series, so I pre-ordered the first book in her Age of Conquest series: Merciless. It’s set in medieval England during a time period that I honestly don’t know much about the history of it. It’s set in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of England, and does a good job showing the conflict between the Norman and Saxon people. I had no idea the prejudice that both sides held for each other, and Merciless does a good job of showing characters on both sides without vilifying one or the other. Most of the medieval stories that I’ve read are set during the later years of that time period, so this book makes me want to do more reading about the earlier years and learn more of the history behind it. As always, Tamara created memorable characters and did a fine job of making me feel like I was in the middle of the story. It is a romance, but a clean read with elements of faith throughout.

All of the books mentioned are ones that I bought or won freely in a giveaway. I received no compensation in any form for including them in my list, so rest assured that all of the opinions I’ve written are my honest views on the books. I compiled this list based on newer books that I enjoyed reading, and I think that other spec fic fans would like them to! (OK, so Firebird isn’t exactly new, but it’s still awesome, and if you haven’t read it, you should go read it now!) Just click on the book covers to follow a link to Amazon and purchase. It’s not an affiliate link, so I receive no compensation if you buy via the links on my blog.

Beloved Book Review

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Today’s book review is a collaboration with my favorite blogger – my 13 year old daughter! Munchkin writes over at The Gerbil Keeper, and she’s brand new to blogging this year. Since the devotional book I’m reviewing, Beloved by Lindsay Franklin, is targeted towards young women, I thought I’d get an expert opinion:

Are you a teenage girl who needs a Scripture-based daily devotional that encourages you to be your best? Then Beloved by Lindsay A. Franklin is the book for you! Every day begins with a Bible verse and then discusses it on page that only takes 5 minutes at the most to read. The page ends with a few lines of journal space. It even has a ribbon bookmark!

I love the flowery theme and pink colors. I’m also glad it includes an extra day in case of a leap year. I like seeing how far along I am and the numbered days do just that. The ribbon bookmark is a nice touch, and so is the journal space. It’s cool how every day begins with a verse. The patterned page edges add a touch of elegance.

I wish the ribbon was pink instead of red; it would have matched better. I also think more journal space would have been helpful. Other than that, I love it!

If you’re a teenage girl who’s confused about who you’re supposed to be and how to act, and also loves Jesus, you’ll love this!”

Books are always a great stocking stuffer in my opinion, and if you have a teen or even tween girl on your list this year, then Beloved is worth a look!

The hardcover binding makes it durable enough to hold up to being tossed in a backpack, and the compact size won’t take up too much room in her bag. Each day contains a scripture, short devotional reading, and four lines for journaling. The color theme of the book design is definitely pink, but it’s the floral print along each page is pretty and fits the target age range well.

Being a girl today can be hard and confusing, and being a Christian girl even more so! Even as an adult, I still struggle to figure out my place in the world and what it means to be not just a woman, but a woman of faith. Lindsay uses the stories of women in the Bible to delve into this topic in Beloved. 365 numbered devotionals will carry your teen girl through a whole year of quiet time, and since the entries are numbered rather than dated, she can start any time of year, and not just on January 1st.

If you do pick up a copy of Beloved for your daughter, you may just want to take a peek at some of the devotionals yourself. There’s some good stuff in there for girls and women of any age!

Book Review: Ellie Claire Art Journals

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

One of my favorite things to give (or receive!) is a great journal. Ellie Claire has released three unique journals that might be perfect for someone on your Christmas list!

The Faith and Lettering journal is the one that caught my daughter’s eye right away. The hardcover is beautifully embossed with foil accents. The journal includes step by step instructions for artistic lettering, with plenty of room to practice, and room to journal too. The paper is heavy enough quality to hold up to most pens and some markers. The journal includes a pen loop on the spine and a ribbon bookmark, and my daughter appreciated these little details. The interior includes ruled pages, graph pages, and dot grid pages, so there are plenty of options for both journaling, and practicing your creative lettering techniques. The heavyweight paper has a smooth finish that would work well with most pens. There are plenty of beautiful full-color art lettering examples for inspiration, as well as “pro tips” scattered throughout the journal. This would be ideal for someone who is interested in art journaling in their Bible, or their journal.

My middle son has been learning about illuminated manuscripts from medieval times, so when the Illuminate Your Story Journal came out of the box, he was quick to claim it! This one also has an embossed hardcover with foil accents. There’s a pen loop on the spine, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold the journal closed when not in use. There’s a heavyweight paper pocket in the back for storing small keepsakes. The introduction in the journal gives a nice overview of the history of illuminated letters, which we found interesting! The instruction pages do a great job of breaking the intricate letters into easy steps, with room for practicing. These pages have a dot grid background on both the examples and the practice spaces which is very helpful! Interspaced with the instructional pages are ruled pages with inspirational quotes at the top of the page. My son has had a wonderful time replicating some of the illuminated letters, and has decided to use the journal for his daily copywork assignments. He’s used both pens and colored pencils in the journal, and both have worked beautifully on the smooth paper. This would be a wonderful gift for artists, or anyone with an interest in medieval history and art!

The Illustrated Word Journal is the one that I kept for my own use! The hardcover is embossed with foil accents like the other two journals, but this one does not include a pen loop or ribbon bookmark. The ruled pages are accented with real examples of illuminated medieval art and every few pages is a line drawing replica of the featured artwork that may be colored. I tried a couple of different pens, two kinds of markers, and watercolors on the line drawing to test out the various mediums. Only one kind of marker had much bleed-through, but this brand is one that I’ve had bleed through cardstock, so I was not surprised that it did bleed through the pages a bit. The watercolor didn’t bleed through at all, nor did the page wrinkle from the wet paint. There’s a bit of texture to the pages that works well with the watercolors, and that was my favorite medium to use in this journal. Colored pencils would also work nicely with the paper’s texture. It was a little too textured for my fountain pen, but I didn’t have any ink bleed-through, so the paper is a good weight for most inks. I enjoyed seeing the small full-color photos of medieval artwork throughout the journal, and there’s a good balance of art, coloring pages, and ruled pages for writing. Anyone who enjoys intricate coloring designs would likely appreciate this journal!

All three journals are excellent quality, and I’m very picky about my journals! The price point they are offered at makes them a great value. Because of that, they aren’t just the kind of journal that you’d give to an adult or older teen, but is affordable enough that they would be a thoughtful gift for an older child or tween who enjoys journaling and art. Put any one of these in a gift bag with an assortment of pens or pencils and maybe some tea or hot cocoa and you’ve got a lovely gift basket!

Just click on the title of any of the journals to find them on Amazon. Thanks to Ellie Claire for sending me the journals for review!

Thoughts for Tuesday, November 6th

Outside my windows… it’s dark so early since the time change this weekend! Can’t say I love that result.

Inside my house… a candle is burning and the hamburger for tonight’s tacos is defrosting in the microwave.

Counting 1000 gifts… houseplants blooming on the kitchen windowsill, despite the cold outside.

Prayers of the heart… for people traveling, and that I’ll write the things I need to this month.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… hanging out in the living room playing games, reading, and working on projects while I type and make dinner.

From my playlist… Main Theme from “The Right Stuff”. I’ve got a thing for epic soundtracks…

From my reading list… Reading? But it’s NaNoWriMo month. I’m still chipping away at The Minimalist Home, and you can look for a review in December.

From my needlework basket… Fingerless mitts and a scarf. Both are easy projects that I can work on while watching TV with Aaron in the evenings. Sometimes simple knitting is best because it lets you unwind.

In the learning room… I’m having fun listening in on Munchkin’s Biology and American History lecture videos!

Random ramblings… I wrote 15 words on my NaNo project today. Just 15. My total is still at just shy of 16,000 words though. I don’t think this project will hit the 50K goal, but the point of it wasn’t a word count, it was telling a story that I’d never dared sit down and write out from start to finish. I wrote some hard chapters in the first five days of November. Now, I’m at the chapter where my best friend became my better half. It’s one of the best parts of my story, so you’d think that it would be easy to write. Maybe I just needed a day to breathe before I switch from writing about some ugly things that happened, to writing about someone who still makes me smile. In any case, I’ll pick up writing more tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to have tacos and hang out with my kids for a while.

Profound ponderings… “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” – C. S. Lewis

Caught on film…