Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Mystery Lovers Contest & HOPE!



"Hoards" of my blog fans are crossing their fingers and breathlessly awaiting this announcement.  ;)  So I shall delay no longer.  WHO is the winner of the Chocolate Mystery Lovers Contest?




Sweet hubby picked a random number from 1-10, and our very own Kate, of AnxiousDog fame, won the coveted Chocolate Mystery Lovers Contest!   She receives this fun book, Knit, Purl, Die that I reviewed in a previous post, and a few other surprises I shall throw in just to make her smile.

Now my plan was to include a deliciously, decadent chocolate gift in that package but I'm not sure if Kate's low carb way of life allows for that.

Kate has transformed herself since I've known her.  She has always been beautiful, smart and a good friend with a great heart.  But she has now added skinny super model to the list.  Well, to be honest, I don't know if she is modeling professionally but she COULD!  She is an inspiration to me to continue my quest for LESS of me.  So... Kate... drop me a line and let me know if it's okay to include chocolate?

Thanks to everyone who participated.  Truly.  It's much more fun to have a contest when people actually enter to WIN!  And I plan on hosting more fun giveaways in the future so stop by again to see what amazingly fun thing might be next.  (I LOVE giving away prizes!)



I've cut this post short to make room for something that is weighing heavy on the minds of Missourians today.  It's been in the news but I don't know how widespread that news has been so I will share this.  Joplin, MO is just a little over an hour away from me and they were hit very hard with a deadly tornado this weekend.

Convoy of Hope is an organization based out of Springfield, Mo.  They have provided very real help to people in need around the world, and they are now working in their very own backyard providing much needed help to survivors of this disaster.  

I'm sure many at Convoy of Hope and the other rescue workers have connections to people in Joplin, which makes the relief effort that much more heartbreaking.  

If you would like to help, please give whatever you are able to Convoy of Hope or any of the other organizations listed in the ABC News article provided in the link above.  Most of all, please PRAY.  Many families are still awaiting news about the welfare of loved ones in Joplin.

To everyone who has faced or IS FACING life shaking events...

 1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
    2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,
    3Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
Psalm 46 Amplified Bible
   
My friends, God is VERY present in your life.  He is not just mildly interested in your hurts, needs, troubles or disasters.  He's really HERE with you and His track record for helping in times of trouble is "well-proved."  He is committed to help you with every bit of who He IS... holding back nothing.  He is here with you at the epicenter of your need.  You can trust Him to help you in your time of trouble.  I'm trusting in God today.  I hope you are too.

With Love,

Linda/Stoneybrooke





Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Knit, Purl, Die!





The sun is yawning bright in the heavens.  
God's most pure azure blues sleepily stretch across sky.
And a cashmere soft breeze whispers... "come play"


I'm ready to dig my bare little piggies
into warm grains of sand,
 settle myself into a secluded spot,
with an ice cold glass of tea,
and escape into one of my
 favorite guilty pleasures.


Most everyone I know reads literary works or self help books found on... New York Times Best Sellers, Oprah's Book Club, and College Reading Lists... I prefer what I call chocolate mysteries.








No need to equip yourself with a tablet and highlighter, the pages of chocolate mysteries are best turned with care-free, chocolate stained finger tips.  You don't learn anything from them.  You are not a better person for having read them.  You really can't gather quotes from them to amaze your friends or paste on Facebook.


However, you CAN escape to distant places.  Meet interesting people.  Match wits with really smart people whilst solving a classic "who-dun-it." AND goodness and justice always WIN! 


Two fun books I just finished reading are classic CHOCOLATE MYSTERIES.  But these books by Anne Canadeo, have a few little extras that make them a really fun read for knitters.  They are called Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries.  The common location they share is a seaside community (reminds me of my roots in Sunny Southern California) which is home to the bustling yet homey knitting shop and hangout known as the Black Sheep.  


The members of the local knitting group seem prone to awfully bad luck, though, having already had several murders and I'm only two books into the series.  lol  


What I love... 


There is no bad language and the murders are NOT graphically described in vivid detail.   And there are no lurid sex scenes.  Not everyone is a saint though.  Obviously, or else there wouldn't be a mystery to solve, or any interesting characters to implicate.  


This is not the quality of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, or Hercule Poirot but it is a fun read for those who enjoy matching wits in a story that won't keep them up at night or give them nightmares.   It's just fun, light, entertainment. (If you find murder mysteries entertaining.  lol)


Brownie Points... 
(Brownies are a favorite of this chocolate lover.)


I've given this book extra brownie points for the patterns and recipes in the back which allow you to knit the projects and taste the food they enjoy in the book.  How fun is that?! 


Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries


I suggest starting with #1  While My Pretty One Knits (Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries)


While My Pretty One Knits (Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries)This one showcases a notorious rivalry between knitting shops that ends in murder.  


People are falsely accused.  Red herrings are thrown out to confuse you.  But we knitters are not to be fooled with!  We figure out the solution before the police do, whilst knitting complicated patterns with fabulous yarns!   


Of course we do!  

I just closed the book on Knit, Purl, Die (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery)

Knit, Purl, Die (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery)I started this one on a get-away I shared with my hubby last winter.  It was a charming bed and breakfast.  Just an overnighter, but both hubby and I enjoy reading on vacation, so I bought this book just for the title!  Love it... Knit, Purl, DIE!  lol  


I must admit that I didn't get very far in reading it, only having one evening and all.  I actually ended up getting the ebook version to finish reading on my phone.  I always forget to bring a book along but I usually have my phone with me.  


This charmer brings the evil doer even closer to the safety of the Black Sheep knit shop.  I don't want to spoil it for you but I did change my mind a few times as to who the guilty party was.


I only have one complaint ;)  


The central character in Knit, Purl, Die is described as "a cougar" having scored a much younger husband and she seems to have undergone all sorts of cosmetic enhancements needed to keep her AGE from showing.  I pictured this woman as MUCH OLDER than the 52 year old woman we discover her to be.  REALLY?!  52?  Is that really OLD now?!!! 


Well I put aside my bruised pride and determined to enjoy the story anyway.  It proved to be a fun read too.  


A Contest!  You could be a winner too!!!


IF YOU READ THIS REVIEW CLOSELY, you'll notice that I ended up with BOTH the ebook and the paperback copy of this book.  So I thought I would have a...


CHOCOLATE MYSTERY LOVERS CONTEST


In 1 WEEK, MAY 24th, I'm giving away my paperback copy of...

KNIT, PURL, DIE!

Knit, Purl, Die (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery)

to 1 lucky winner!

You do NOT need to be a knitter to enter the contest or to enjoy this book.  All you have to do is leave a comment here on this post and you will be entered to win.  (The winner will be drawn randomly by my sweet hubby.)





What's next?


A Stitch Before Dying (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery)I think I shall follow this fun group of knitters on their next adventure A Stitch Before Dying (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery)

















Today I leave you with a thought from my Bible reading yesterday.  I was reading from the Amplified Bible and I came across this verse in Psalm 97 vs 11.  (Emphasis is mine.)


LIGHT is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and JOY for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection].


These are rich rewards for pursuing a godly life.  


* No matter how dark or evil the world around you may seem, no matter how difficult or impossible or bad your situation may appear, when you belong to God, HE is in control.  Your job is to concentrate on living right, WITHOUT COMPROMISE, and God will get you through safely.  You will find your difficult path strewn freely with light (direction, hope, insight, wisdom, comfort.)  You will clearly see the goodness of God in your difficult situation that others often miss.


* Having an upright heart to me means having a clear conscience.  It means, being a person who seeks to DO what is right in God's eyes, not just outwardly for others to see, but from the center of who you are.  Yet, that same person acknowledges her failures humbly and promptly asks for forgiveness and receives it freely.   That is a person who is able to live in unfettered JOY!  No hiding in shame or feelings of deserving misfortune.  Instead, the person with the heart that is right with God KNOWS, CONSCIOUSLY KNOWS, that she is the blessed recipient of her Heavenly Father's FAVOR and PROTECTION.  He has her best interest at heart.  And she KNOWS God is worthy of complete trust, like a newborn knows nothing but trust for the mother who gave her birth.


My prayer for you and for me is that we will daily live that good and godly life, marked by LIGHT and irrepressible JOY!


Thanks for stopping by my cottage.


Hugs


Linda/Stoneybrooke

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm a WINNER!... Part 1



It's not often that I hear 

"YOU WON!"

But that's EXACTLY what I heard

just a few short days ago from 

the Queen of Yarn herself, 

Kathy Elkins 
of 


I'd like to say it was because of some amazing skill or personal quality, but I simply twittered about a crochet project...  THAT'S ALL!  

Quick diversion to a flashback...  traveling back in time with Stoneybrooke!
I was just a wee thing and convinced that I would never win anything because Hobo Kelly NEVER chose me as the recipient of amazing toy prizes.  I always felt so rejected every time she called out another name that was NOT mine.  



It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that it wasn't that Hobo Kelly liked ALL the OTHER kids best.  She simply couldn't draw my name as a WINNER because I never sent in a contest entry.  Lesson learned!

Well Kathy Elkins has changed all that!  Because my prize package arrived on Wednesday and I'm ready to share my loot with y'all.  (And remember, Kathy likes ALL of us just the same!)

It was such a great gift assortment that I decided to post about them separately, hence the "Part 1" label on this post.  


PART 1... Chic.a Zipper Pouch!




There are so many things I like about this gift!

The pouch has the zipper on the front.  It's nicely constructed so things don't fall out.  Always a plus in my book.  

I also love that it has a clear viewing window in the front so I don't have to remember what is inside because I can see without even opening it. 

The fabric that it is made from is a stiffened, perhaps laminated fabric?  It holds its shape and melty chocolate bits won't ruin it... not that I ever snack on chocolate mind you... ;) 

It's darling!!!!  



I'm not sure how I prefer to use it?

It was made for tossing in your knitting bag to keep important accessories close.  Did I mention that it sure looks like a random needle, pin, or scissor tip will be safely contained INSIDE the pouch.  I love that feature.

  

But look how great it is for holding makeup!  My current makeup bag is spotted with random bits of lipstick and liner.  And my old bag is NOT washable.  I wouldn't throw this in the washing machine but it would wipe down easily with a damp cloth.

Did I mention the cute patterns it comes in?  Black toile, Cherry, Strawberry, and PINK are favorites!

And it comes in a larger 9x6 size too!

So my heartfelt thanks to Kathy Elkins for this lovely little gem.  It looks just as ready for Summer as I am!

And my heartfelt thanks to all of you for stopping by Stoneybrooke Cottage.

----------------------------------------------
As we part, I'd like to leave you with this thought...

Don't let the disappointments of this life rob you of the truth of just how special you are to your Heavenly Father.  You are not defined by prizes, gifts, successes, looks or money.  You are the beloved child of your Heavenly Father.  His pride and joy.  He loves YOU best of all.  :)  (And that's okay because He loves ME best too!) 



Linda/stoneybrooke

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Changing the crowd I hang out with!





When I embarked on this path to the new "Stoneybrooke-lite" version of me, I received some very wise advice from my friend Tabitha's Heart.  She told me...


"Fruits and Veggies Are Your Friend."


 I must admit that I found that hard to swallow.  I know they are "health food" and what every "child" should eat to grow healthy and strong, but FRIENDSHIP?!!

My best friends are all, cookies, cake and ice cream!  WE don't hang around with the cool kids on campus.  Fruits and veggies are wasted calories that are to be saved, like the DIET SODA I order, so that I may spend quality time with my REAL FRIENDS... DESSERT!
I mean... CAKE really knows how to PARTY!  ;)



But... I'm beginning to have a change of heart.  Shocking, I know!

On Weight Watchers Points Plus program, most fruits and veggies are FREE!  Even if I have spent my points for the day, if I'm hungry I can always treat myself to fruits and veggies, guilt free!!!  I still love an occasional treat, but I've come to realize that Tabitha is right.  My REAL FRIENDS are fruits and veggies!

Hanging out with this new crowd of friends has made me 24 lbs lighter so far.  


Granddaughter Ailish and
Stoneybrooke-lite
We have such fun together!

I still have a long way to go but I'm learning that fitting into my clothes is much more fun than growing out of them.  I've also learned that I have less pain when I have less weight to carry.  

But to keep up the good progress, I have to keep hanging out with the "RIGHT CROWD".

So I've treated myself to a few goodies to make it easier for me.  Maybe they will help you too?!




Welcome to the new addition to my cottage...  


Stoneybrooke's Favorite Things!


Here's the story:  Those of you who know me personally, or on Ravelry, or Facebook, or Twitter, know I'm an enthusiastic FAN of fabulous things. 

(Hey, everyone has to be good at something, right?  lol) 

So I decided to begin sharing some of my favorites right here on my blog.   

What's helping me to lose weight or live healthier?
What inspires me in my relationship with God?
What crafts am I enjoying?   
What fibers am I playing with?   
What knitting or crochet projects am I lovin'?  
What vintage treasures have I found?  
Or, what simply fabulous new idea have I heard about?   

You you will find ALL the things that I use and LOVE RIGHT HERE! 

Today I have 2 great Favorites to share with you.



THIRTY-ONE THERMAL LUNCH TOTE


This is a thermal lunch tote from the trendy new company thirty-one.  They have so many wonderful bags for organizing every area of your life.  You can even get them personalized!  

Side note:  I have "Phyllis", the bag you will see when you click on the link above.  She is a light, but ample Summer bag with supple, comfy handles and a lean silhouette.  Hugs for Phyllis. :)  (Every bag should have a name don't you think?)

Another side note:  I saw someone on Ravelry who got a tote with lots of pockets, then personalized it with their Ravelry username and uses it as a knitting bag.  I didn't find that clever idea in time, but I still love my bag.  

Back to the topic.... Yaay for my new cheery lunch tote!  It makes me happy just looking at it.  It holds a bottle of ice cold water, and lots of healthy snacks and lunch fixin's so I'm not tempted to hit the drive-through when I get hungry.  It also has a pocket on the back where you can place a few napkins or a love note.  I try to remember to fill it and take it with me whenever I go out, even if I think it's just a short trip.  And it has an easy wipe clean exterior and thermal interior.  

FYI:  I bought my bag from Brooke.  She is a young Mom and great Nixa, MO neighbor to my own Brianne.  



RUBBERMAID
GLASS STORAGE CONTAINERS
with
EASY FIND LIDS! 



also treated myself to these Rubbermaid Glass containers with easy find lids!  

A few weeks ago, I threw a tantrum whilst trying to find a matching lid for my aged and yellowed plastic ware.  To restore my inner calm and encourage my new healthier eating habits, I decided to invest in a few of these containers.

I have been a BIG FAN of AMAZON for many years now.  I use their Amazon Prime program to get FREE SHIPPING! 

I love being able to read the reviews before I purchase and who wouldn't want someone to bring your purchases right to your front door?





How do I love thee?  
Let me count the ways!

* RED:  Luscious Red lids.  I love red.  :)

* OVEN and MICROWAVE SAFE: Use the bowl in the oven up to 425 degrees.  Lid may be used in the microwave but it should be cracked open a bit to prevent excessive pressure in the container.  My son Jared had an unfortunate experience with microwave pressure cooking.

* DISHWASHER SAFE: If I were going to cook in this container, I would give it a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray first and then throw it in the dishwasher when I was through.  Though I must confess that I use these more for fresh fruits and veggies and reheating food in the microwave. The lid washes in the top rack of your dishwasher (separate sturdy grey gasket from lid before washing for best results)

* STORING and SERVING:  The 4 cup capacity bowls are glass.  (Though I noticed that the smaller, mixed size set is what Amazon now has available on Prime. I've seen these too and think they would be handy.  They do carry the 4 cup but not on Prime right now.)

These little beauties can go right from your fridge to your table and back without dirtying more serving dishes.  They would be great to take along to potluck dinners too!  I fill them with fruits, veggies and healthy dips, and set them out at every meal for healthier eating.  I encourage seconds of these!

*  EASY FIND LIDS:  The tops are sturdy BPA FREE plastic with a clear viewing window on the top so you can easily see what is inside.  They are designed with an extra sturdy, removable gasket, that is not the flimsy, frustrating gaskets I've used in the past.  These lids nest together and clamp lightly to the bottom of the container, removing all doubt about "will this lid fit?"

* STACKABLE:  The containers and the lids all nest with one another, creating an orderly look in your cabinet or refrigerator.  They aren't likely to topple over either.  What's not to love about that?


Juicy pineapple chunks, kumquats, and lean ham... yum! 
Things just LOOK more appetizing in them. 


* HELPFUL FOR DIETERS:  If you are really organized like my son-in-law Bryan and my daughter Brianne, you will prepare all your fruits and veggies when you come home from the store so they are ready for snacking whenever you are hungry.

* GIFT WORTHY:  The set would make a thoughtful and affordable gift for a newly married couple.  (Beats giving them plastic baggies!)



What's NOT to love?!!!

* PRICE:  These are more expensive that disposable plastic ware.  I think they are worth it but if you are on a budget you may want to pick them up one or two at a time.  I bought 2 at a time and now have a whoppin' 4!  Woot!  The pack Amazon is featuring has 3 graduated sizes with lids for UNDER $20!  

* HEAVY:  This is not a thin thrift store glass but a sturdy and thick, quality glass product.  But glass is heavier than plastic.  It is also breakable.  I wouldn't send these to school with the kids or lug it around in my purse all day.  I also wouldn't throw it on the floor and expect it to stay intact. 

So those are my favorites for the day!  And be sure you always read directions and safety precautions for yourself. 

I hope YOU have been hanging out with a better crowd.  Your friends, Your family, and YOU need you to be your healthiest so that you can enjoy this life God has given you, to the fullest.  

WHAT'S COMING?  Look for upcoming posts on a new, soon to be released pattern I'm knitting from Tabitha's Heart named the "Green Chic" bag!  LOVE! :)

Thanks for stopping by!


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