Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: "Leah's Choice" by Marta Perry

Pleasant Valley Book One

Leah's Choice (Pleasant Valley, Bk 1)

Book Description:

All of Pleasant Valley seems to think the newcomer from Lancaster County is the perfect match for Teacher Leah. After all, so few new families come to their separate Amish community, and fewer still unmarried men. Daniel Glick is a widower with three young children to look after-clearly he's in need of a wife.

Daniel's past haunts him. Though he cannot miss the beauty in Leah's bright eyes and patient ways, he also sees a reminder of his pain-filled marriage. Leah, too, has a burden to bear. Years ago, she was engaged to Johnny Kile, and she was heartbroken when he decided to leave the Amish community. Since then she has immersed herself in teaching, forgetting any hopes of having her own family. When Johnny returns, seeking reconciliation, Leah must decide between two pathways, either of which will completely change her life.

My Thoughts:
When I looked at TBR pile trying to decide what I was in the mood to read, I decided on an Amish book.  I narrowed my choices down until I decided on "Leah's Choice".  It is the first book in the Pleasant Valley series and I have the next two books already on my shelf.
I enjoy reading the first book of a new series because I anticipate learning the new place and the new characters.
The author did a great job of introducing both in this new series.
I fell in love with the people and Pleasant Valley.  I might be a bit partial being a Pennsylvanian myself and I've visited Amish country many times.
My heart went out to Leah, Daniel and the Glick children and I hoped for a happy ending for them all.  I was not disappointed.  The road was rocky, bumpy and windy but I was well please with the ending.
I'm looking forward to reading "Rachel's Garden", the next book of the series.

Pumpkin Brownies

I came across this recipe in a recipe link-up.  The original recipe came from .

I tweaked it a bit.  I didn't have cinnamon chips so I used chocolate chips, I added walnuts, used only the egg whites and the only applesauce I had was individual sized "Country Berry" applesauce so that is what I used.

Pumpkin Brownies

1- 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
1 cup applesauce
2 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1- 10 oz bag chocolate chips (or cinnamon chips)
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine pumpkin, applesauce, egg whites and brown sugar.

In a small bowl combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Stir flour mixture into the pumpkin mixtuer.  Mix well.

Stir chocolate (cinnamon) chips and walnuts into batter.

Pour batter into a greased 13X9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


I took these brownies to our fellowship dinner after Church yesterday.  They were wiped out pretty fast.  I, personally, thought they were delicious!  Very moist and so full of flavor.

I liked the chocolate chips but I might try it again with cinnamon chips if I have a chance.  But for me, usually everything is better with chocolate!

Adding the walnuts definitely gave it more texture and added to the flavor.

The "Country Berry" applesauce gave it just a very tiny hint of berry flavor.  Very subtle but very tasty.  I wonder if I would be able to tell the difference if I used plain applesauce?

These Pumpkin Brownies turned out great and I was asked for the recipe by a few different people.  I told them I would have to compile the recipe with all my tweakings.

If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Bible Study Update ~ 1/30/11


1st Place for Health.  
"God's Best for Your Life". 
Week 2 ~ "God's Best for Your Spiritual Life".

God's Best for Your Life  -     
        By: First Place 4 Health
Memory Verse:  "Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from My decrees and have not kept them.  Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty."  Malachi 3:7

Day 1:  Changing From the Inside Out
Day 2:  Dressing for Battle
Day 3:  Confronting the Enemy
Day 4:  Freedom Through Repentance
Day 5:  Enjoying Your Relationship with God
Day 6:  Reflection and Application
Day 7:  Reflection and Application

I stayed current on my 1st Place studies this week and I'm really enjoying this particular book.

This week it focused on Salvation, Spiritual Armour, Scripture Memorization, Repentance, Praise, Confession, summing up with Our Spiritual Relationship with God.

As the memory verse states, "Return to Me, and I will return to you," requires us to make the first move.  God is waiting and watching.

From the Week 3 Introduction:
"All God has ever wanted from His people is for us to honor, respect, trust and love Him above all earthy things, the same way He loves us.  Everything--physical, emotional, relational, spiritual--stems from our devotion to Him.  Nothing in our life will be right until we get it right with the Lord."
"Walking With Women Through the Word" with Wendy Pope
One Year Chronological Bible in the New Living Translation.
January 23- January 29, 2011

NLT One Year Chronological Bible, Large Print Softcover  -

There were 2 days this week that instead of reading my passage for the day in the night, I waited until the next morning.  But I am current and on track!
This week has been alot of back and forth between Job and his friends.  I love when Elihu comes into the picture and gives them, as Wendy Pope titled her post that day, a "Holy What For!"

Elihu was younger and therefore kept his mouth shut until he could no longer stand it then he let them have it.  He defended God and His authority, power and abilities.  I love, love, loved it!

I am enjoying this "class" so much!  I look forward to reading the daily passage as well as watching Wendy's vlog and reading my classmates' comments.

Come join us.  You can start anytime.

 "Made to Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst.  
Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.
Chapters 4-6

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food  -     
        By: Lysa TerKeurst

Chapter 4:  Friends Don't Let Friends Eat Before Thinking
Chapter 5:  Made for More
Chapter 6:  Growing Closer to God

Our key word for this week was "DETERMINATION" and, boy, did I need it.  Determination to stick with the exercise and food plan got me through the week.

Traditionally, the third week for me is where it gets the hardest, so I ask for prayers for me to continue with my efforts and not give-in to temptation.  Temptation to eat food that isn't on my food plan and tempation to not exercise.

Chapter 5 has really made me look at myself in a different manner.  Most times we only see our faults and then define ourselves by them.  We then automatically think that is how others see us.  It is a vicious cycle that is false.

I am a child of God.  Forgiven, set-free, accepted, holy, made-new, loved, close, confident and victorious.  All through Christ.  And I am made for more than a cycle of failure ruled by my body's desires.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:13-14


Have a great week everyone!

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scripture Memory Verse ~ 1/31/11

Memory Verse ~ 1/30/11-2/5/11

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Hide these Words in your heart and they will be with you always.

Please see my sidebar to see all the wonderful parties I'll be linking up to.

TSMSS ~ "You Are" by Jason Castro

The new season of American Idol has started.  I don't usually enjoy the tryouts very much because I hate how they make fun of people.  I feel really bad for some of the contestants.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the former AI contestant Jason Castro has become an Inspirational Christian Artist.  I love that!  I just might have to look for his CD.  I really liked him for his uniqueness on AI.  I'm very proud that he has made a stand for his faith.

Movie Review : "Downton Abbey ~ Part 3"

Downton Abbey

Synopsis as per

Episode 3:

 The fair has come to town, and with it comes romantic hopes for several Downton Abbey inhabitants. In a triumph of the absurd, Violet asks a baffled Matthew to use his legal acumen to dissolve the entail — the very document by which he is to inherit Downton Abbey. Matthew's findings and his hopes for Downton cement his growing closeness with Robert, and a new warmth suffuses his encounters with Mary. But Mary's thaw doesn't extend to her sister Edith, as their competition becomes crueler. Cora simply wants Mary married, but newly circulating rumors may hinder that aspiration. Meanwhile, Violet's power struggle with Isobel moves from the hospital grounds to the annual flower show as Isobel casts her democratizing gaze upon Violet's prize-winning roses.

A kind gesture by Bates is not lost on Anna; but he cryptically professes to not being capable of more. Sybil discovers the politics of gender and class, with the help of the socialist chauffeur, Branson, and Carson discovers that several valuable bottles of wine have gone missing. The vulnerable kitchen maid Daisy, under increased pressure and ire from a fretful Mrs. Patmore, possesses a dangerous secret that she learned upstairs.

My Thoughts:

I think this was my favorite episode so far.  I'll be really sad when this mini-series is over.  I'd actually liked to have seen it be a regular series.  TV needs something a little different.

I'm really growing to like Matthew and hope that Mary does also.  There is a hint of it in this episode but she blows it by flirting with another man.

Whoo!  That Edith is very vengeful.  She got the dirt on Mary and is actually writing to the Turkish Ambassdor to rat her out!  Very bold!

Thomas is really getting on my nerves so is O'Brien.  They are just plain hateful and vindictive.  Poor William.  He likes Daisy and Thomas knows and is doing everything he can just to spite William.  Creep.

The love story between Bates and Anna is just heartbreaking.  I wonder if he is still married or just doesn't think he can love her because he isn't worthy in some way.

One of my favorite moments is when the Dowager gives up the Rose Trophy to the father of Matthew's butler.  I can't remember his name.  He was so happy!  I almost cried!  It actually made me like Violet a bit.
Have you been watching this mini-series?  What have you thought about it?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Feel Good Friday ~ 1/28/11

"Just make a list. List 5 things that made you really happy this week. No matter how bad or boring you think your week was, I bet you can find 5 things."

1.  I've maintained my exercise, eating and Bible study plan!

2.  The Steelers are going to the Superbowl!!!

3.  Everyone has stayed safe in this snowstorm we've had!

4.  I've got some great books in the mail this week from Paperbackswap!

5.  I watched Part 3 of "Downton Abbey" in my room on my laptop!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

{this moment} ~ Snow, Snow, Snow!

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Book Review: "LFYI Sister, Oregon" by Melody Carlson

Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon

Book Description:

Hope Bartolli has avoided Sisters for years -- both her hometown of Sisters, Oregon and her two sisters who live there. But when the 32-year-old corporate lawyer returns home to attend her beloved grandmother's funeral, she's surprised to learn that she has inherited Nana's old house, her little dog Andy, and an unexpected friendship with Nana's attorney, Lewis.

If she had any hopes of burying the hatchet with her sisters, these gifts from Nana aren't going to help. But the more Hope is reacquainted with old friends and the charming town she once loved, the harder, she realizes, it will be to return to her fast-paced city routine.

She wants more out of life -- but is she willing to take the risks to get it? And can she trust her family to stand by her side?

My Thoughts:

I was really excited to read this book because I know there is a huge quilt show in Sisters, Oregon and it is mentioned along with lots of other fun things that goes on there.  I wish I lived closer and could go to some!

The story between Nona and Hope really touched me.  Although I can't imagine going 10 years without see my grandmother.  Hope had her reasons I guess, which do come out in the book.

Most of the book is about the family dynamics.  The sisters do not get along at all.  Hope does, however, get very close to her niece and nephew which complicates matters even more.

As they worked through their issues one-by-one, it seemed like another would pop up.  Such is the way in family.  At least mine and I'm guessing lots of others.

There is a hint of romance between Hope and Lewis through the book but I was surprised at how fast it went from being something casual and on the next page it is a full blown romance.  It seemed a little fast to me.

But I was OK with that because I think the true love story in the book was about the sisters finding love for each other and uniting as a family again.

Just want Nona wanted, I think.

Chocolate Streusel Cake

I based this cake on a recipe I found at http://www.monstermama-montermama.blogspot/

I switched up a few things to make it lower in fat and sugar.  Oh and I left out the coffee granules because I'm not a coffee fan.

Chocolate Streusel Cake

1 box Devils Food cake mix (reserve 3 Tbsp for top)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/4 c veg oil (I left this out to lower the fat content)


3 Tbsp cake mix
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tbsp quick oats
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I just used about a tsp of reg sugar to lower the sugar content)

Heat oven to 350 and grease 9X13 cake pan.  You can also make these into muffins.

In medium bowl combine cake mix, cinnamon, (& coffee if you'd like).  Mix well.  Add water and eggs (& oil if you'd like).  Mix until well blended.  Pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl or small food processor, combine 3 Tbsp cake mix, oats, cinnamon and sugar.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 until toothpick comes out clean.  Sorry I didn't time it.  I'm a check and see kind of baker.  I'd say it was about 30-35 minutes.


I enjoyed playing with this recipe to suit the needs of those who it was made to for.  I'm trying to do the low-fat and my dad has to do low-fat/low-sugar and there are others at Coffee Break who need low-sugar.

For all my improvizing, it really tastes yummy.  Especially the streusel topping!  Yum!  My dad was so excited to try it.  He got to the church first and was impatiently waiting for me to get there with this cake.  He was at our house and had smelled it baking.

It was very rewarding to go through the extra effort to make something that I could share with my dad.  He's been sick but is definitely getting his appetite back.

Let me know if you try and variation of this recipe.  I know it was a bit confusing with all my "options".

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Queen of the Castle ~ Week 4

Week 4 ~ Delighting in the King:
Building Healthy Spiritual Habits
You can find the previous weeks HERE.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  II Timothy 3: 16-17
Spending time reading our Bible is on of the most important things we can do for ourselves in the course of the day.  No matter how busy our lives our if we carve out time to spend in the Word, we and are families will benefit. 
Those minutes with God can give us the nourishment we need for the day, especially those days that seem like everything is going wrong.

Ray Stedman, Secrets of the Spirits, says,
"There are Christians who think they can live a Christian life without ever reading their Bible, but it is impossible.  Our memories do not retain and maintain what we need to know.  We are built in such a way that we need refreshment and reminder--again and again."
LBW's experience taught her that drawing near to God doesn't depend on big, flashy gestures, but on the small, daily choices we make.  We can drink in God's Word even if it is choosing to read only a verse or two at a time.  Repeating that choice over and over, day after day, will transform our lives.

Do you attend a weekly Bible Study?  It is a great way to stay motivated.  We have our weekly meeting on Wednesday nights for prayer and Bible Study.  It is a great time spent with other Christians in fellowship and discussion.

There are also online studies, I've posted about some that I'm involved in already.

LBW also points out that we need to look for opportunities to share God's wisdom with our children.

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when your rise up."  Deuteronomy 6:6-7
But first, WE as parents, need to know the Scriptures so that we can share them with our children.


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Cloche Hat and Fingerless Mittens

Kaylee wanted me to crochet her a hat and picked out the pattern.  It is "Floral Cloche" from Crochet Today, but she didn't want the flower.  I had to add a few extra rounds due to the previously stated big-headedness of my girls.  lol 

The yarn she picked was Red Heart Super Saver in "BonBon."

It actually comes down farther over her forhead and ears.  She has it pushed back a it in the picture.

Next, she wanted some fingerless mittens to go with it.  No problem.  I'd been wanting to try making them anyway.

I used the pattern found at Bethany Sew and Sew.  Except we decided we liked them better without the "thumb".

Next, this is one of Kaylee's BFF's, Brianna.  She's such a sweetie!  When she saw Kaylee's mittens, she asked Kaylee if she thought I would make her a pair.  Of course!  My pleasure.

Kaylee said that Brianna's favorite color is blue and then helped me pick out the yarn to use.  She decided Brianna would probably like the Red Heart "Ocean" best.

This is Kaylee modeling Brianna's mittens.  She hasn't given them to her yet.  Today is a "Snow Day".

Little Sis had to get in on the action.  She's a little droopy-eyed on this picture.

It so much fun making things for others.  Very rewarding.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A Little Victory Dance!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Bars

I had some Rice Chex left from the Peanut Butter Chex Bars and decided to try a chocolate variation.  Yum.

I found the recipe for the original bars at

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Bars

6 cups Rice Chex cereal
1/2 cup party peanuts
1 c. honey or corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
Handful of Chocolate Chips (for good measure!)
Line a 9 X 13 pan with wax paper.

In a large bowl, mix cereal, chocolate chips and peanuts; set aside

In a small saucepan, hear corn syrup, cocoa and sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Stir in peanut butter until smooth.  Remove from heat.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixter; toss until evenly coated.

Press firmly in pan.  Cool 15 minutes. (if you can wait that long!)


Although I loved the peanut butter, I love-loved the chocolate peanut butter.  Sometimes I feel like just peanut butter.  Sometimes I feel like the choco-pb combo.

These were so good.  I took them to Coffee Break at Church and they were gone in no time.  Only crumbs left.  Crumbs taste great too you know.
Here's a close-up.

Let me know if you give them a try!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Bible Study Update ~ 1/23/11


1st Place for Health.  
"God's Best for Your Life". 
Week 1 ~ "God's Best for Your Physical Life".

God's Best for Your Life  -     
        By: First Place 4 Health
Memory Verse:  Then Jesus declared, " I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35.

Day 1:  Your Boday ~ God's Gift
Day 2:  Heavenly Bread
Day 3:  Health Watch
Day 4:  Being Fit for Life
Day 5:  Home, Sweet Home
Day 6:  Reflection and Application
Day 7:  Reflection and Application

I managed to stay up-to-date on this study all week!!  Aren't you proud?!  I'm writing this post on Saturday night and our group will be meeting first thing tomorrow morning.  I'm looking forward to a great discussion.

This week focused on our body being a gift from God that we should treat with the utmost respect and care.  (very convicting.)  Sleep, exercise and healthy eating were emphasized.

The ending prayer for Day 6 really  touched my heart.  I have written it in the front of my journal and also on my "Empowered" sheet hanging on my wall.

"Dear God, my Creator, motivate me, guide me, sustain me, rebuild me.  In Jesus Name, Amen."
"Walking With Women Through the Word" with Wendy Pope
One Year Chronological Bible in the New Living Translation.
January 16- January 22, 2011

NLT One Year Chronological Bible, Large Print Softcover  -

I stayed current on my reading this week except for one night, but does it really count if I'm reading a day ahead anyway.  I guess it should because it meant I read 2 days worth of reading in 1 day.  Not bad though.

This week's reading was mainly about Joseph's rise to power and his brother's coming to Egypt because of the great famine.  Finally, Jacob and all his family come to Egypt to be with Joseph and lived in the land of Goshen.  Jacob (Isreal) and Joseph both pass away during this week's reading.

Because this is a Chrono Bible, we skip to Job which is traditionally thought to have taken place around the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jacob is tested with his possession and then with his health.  Through the end of the week's reading, Job is going back and forth with his "friends" about his situation and the cause of it.  The last days reading is about Job wanting to argue his case with God and asking how he had sinned.  In my notes I wrote about how very bold this was of Job.

I've really, really enjoyed watching Wendy Pope's daily vlog.  It is quickly becoming one of my activities of the day.  Sometimes, I grab my crocheting and sit back and watch.

 "Made to Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst.  
Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.
Chapters 1-3

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food  -     
        By: Lysa TerKeurst

I was so glad to finally get my book on Tuesday, but that meant some catch-up.  Melissa actually has scheduled one day to read the chapter and the next day to do the questions.  To catch up I've done both in one day.  I'll try Melissa's schedule this week and see how I like doing them on separate days.
Chapter 1:  What's Really Going On Here?
Chapter 2:  Replacing My Cravings
Chapter 3:  Getting a Plan

I'm really enjoying this study.  We've discussed our cravings and how to resist the temptations of food that is not in our eating plan.

I like the verse "Everying is permissable'--but not everything is beneficial" 1 Corinthians 10:23.  I keep reminding myself of this as Lisa suggests.

Replacing the cravings is a hard thing to do.  I went grocery shopping and got lots of healthy snacks because that is were my downfall is most of the time.  That and eating out/fast food.  The other day I took a protein bar along when I knew we'd be on the road over lunch and ate it instead of getting McD's like the rest of the vehicle did.  I managed but smelling those fries made it a little harder.  It's a good thing my protein bar is really yummy.

I've already had my plan figured out and have actually put it into action this week especially after the grocery trip.  Lisa uses the example of planting a beautiful garden.  First you have to plan it and then you have to do the work to get it "bloom".  I'm now in the "doing the work" phase.  Lord, help me!  Really.  That is my prayer.


Well, there you have it.  It isn't too late to start any of these studies.  I'm having a great time with them and am learning alot.  It seemed like everything coordinated this week.  Funny how that happens.

I hope everyone has a good week.  Next Sunday, I'll let you know how I do with my studies this week.

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Scripture Memory Verse ~ 1/23/11

Memory Verse ~ 1/23/11-1/29/11

"Ever since the time of  your forefathers you have turned away from My decrees and have not kept them.

Return to Me, and I will return to You," says the Lord Almighty" 

Malachi 3:7

Hide these Words in your heart and they will be with you always.

Please see my sidebar to see all the wonderful parties I'll be linking up to.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie Review: "Downton Abbey ~ Episode 2"

Downton Abbey

Synopsis as per

Episode 2:

As Matthew and Isobel, the newly-arrived Crawleys settle into life in the village, Isobel offers her experience with modern medical techniques at the hospital, to the considerable consternation of Violet. Both Matthew and Mary bristle at the prospect of being matched to one another; still, Matthew indulges Mary's clever barbs even as a suitor in the form of Evelyn Napier is invited for a foxhunt, accompanied by the handsome attaché at the Turkish Embassy, Kemal Pamuk.

Downstairs, secrets reflect the ambitions, shames and desperate hopes of the servants, as housemaid Gwen tries to hide the contents of a heavy box set atop the wardrobe in her room; Carson abandons his customary dignity as he skittishly raids the pantry; and Bates refuses to share the source of his debilitating pain to his co-workers. Their concern and camaraderie markedly contrast the festering discontent of Thomas and O'Brien.

A sinister stranger barges into the house, demanding to speak to Lord Grantham, and an attractive stranger captivates Mary before setting into motion a chain of events that put the fate of Downton Abbey on even less stable ground.

My Thoughts:

OK, the second episode I found myself more drawn in because I wasn't still trying to figure out who was who.

There is a lot of interaction between the staff.  Both friendly and unfriendly.  There was one occurance with Bates that was just plain hateful.  I love how Anna always wants to help him.  Anna is probably my favorite staff member.

The schemes of the staff become apparent as do their hopes and dreams.  Some want a life other than service and otherS just want to climb their way to the top stepping on whoever gets in their way.

As for the "Family", Mary has 3 suitors at her house at the same time.  Matthew, the heir, and then two visitors one of which is a handsome foreigner who captivates Mary.  Even, dare I say, compromises her.  gasp!

I won't tell what happens but I bet you will never, ever in a million years guess.  Unless you've seen it already and then of course you already know.

Meanwhile, Edith the middle sister, is casting her hook toward Matthew Crawley.  I don't even think he's aware.  Poor girl.  I'm always a sucker for the underdog.

Well, Episode 3 is on tomorrow night and I already have it set up to DVR.  I can hardly wait.

Of course it will have to wait until after the  Steelers vs. Jets Conference Championship game that is also on Sunday night.  GO STEELERS!

Have you been watching this mini-series?  What have you thought about it?

Movie Review: "Downton Abbey ~ Episode 1"

Downton Abbey

Synopsis as per

Episode 1:

It's 1912, and life in the Edwardian country house of Downton Abbey is idyllic and bustling for the Crawley family, aided by their cadre of servants. Robert, Earl of Grantham, his American heiress wife Cora, and their three daughters, along with Robert's mother Violet, have lived largely uncomplicated lives. But the sinking of the Titanic hits home in an unexpected and dramatic way — Lord Grantham's heir, James Crawley, and his son Patrick have perished. It's personally agonizing (momentarily) for daughter Mary who was supposed to marry Patrick. On a grander scale, suddenly all the predictable succession plans have gone terribly awry, and unheard of questions now loom large — Who will be the new heir to the earldom? And what will happen to this distinguished estate, now in jeopardy? Mary's grief is short lived as she sets her sights on another suitor, the Duke of Crowborough.

As the drama unfolds among the aristocrats of Downton Abbey, changes are happening amidst the servants as well. John Bates has arrived as a new valet for Robert, but he has a pronounced limp, potentially making him unfit to perform his duties. Also, Bates seems to have some previous link to Robert, and a murky past. And, someone else in the servant's quarters is darkly entangled with the fortunes of the family he serves.

Despite much angling and consternation, the course of action emerges — a new heir presumptive will soon arrive at Downton. As Matthew Crawley, the heir presumptive, and his mother Isobel arrive, the emotions of the onlookers range from anxiety to outright antagonism. But in crisis there may be opportunity, and Matthew is considered as a suitor for Mary. Yet, nothing is quite as it seems in the changing landscape and shifting fortunes of Downton Abbey.

My Thoughts:

I've been seeing blog posts about this mini-series and it looked like something I would enjoy watching.  By myself, of course, because there's no way Doug would sit through a movie such as this.

I missed the first 2 episodes but found that I could watch them online at .  I hadn't planned on watching right then, but I couldn't help myself.  I will say that I made my menu and grocery list while watching and also got out my crocheting and worked on Kaylee's legwarmers while watching.  But, needless to say the rest of my to-do list for the day didn't get done.

The first episode I did a lot of figuring out.  Figuring out who was who, the family dynamics, the history and current events of the time period.

I enjoyed watching the differences of the "above-stairs" and "below stairs" characters.

The three sisters could not be more different and I find that I like the youngest best, the middle second best and the oldest is just plain snobby and arrogant.  I'm looking forward to seeing their stories unfold.

I DID NOT, however, like the homosexual scene.  It was nothing overly graphic but to me even a kiss is too much.

I watched the 1st and 2nd episodes back to back.  But I'll save my thoughts about Episode 2 for another post.

Have you been watching this mini-series?  What have you thought about it?

TSMSS ~ "Love Me" by JJ Heller

I've heard this song a few times this week and really liked it.

I just made a quick trip to the Post Office and was thinking about what song to feature today.  I turned KLOVE on and this was playing.  So here it is.  "Love Me" by JJ Heller.