Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 2017 Review

Ginger Dawn’s 

Month in Review

The weather.... It has been much warmer than usual and if you don’t want a snowy winter… Purchase a snow blower like we did. I was really looking forward to using it too!

Right now I am...
enjoying a quiet hour after an intense Aqua Boot Camp class at the Health and Wellness Center

about starting a gratitude journal during the month of March

What I read... 

Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick


Favorite blog post this month...


Southern Traditions: Why Did My Grandmas Sweep Their Yards? By Hibiscus House

Something fun to share...

Martin shares Poetry, Music,Useless Facts and Interesting Videos. Martin is a great blogger who write amazing poetry and shares many personal stories.



Special Family Moment



Andrew: Snow tubbing, Winning first place at the Regional Science Fair, Selling his Xbox with the games and purchasing a Soprano Saxophone.

Oj: Creating his first wooden pen, Scout Sunday, and recovering from a terrible flu bug.

Ginger: When Andrew told me on Valentine’s Day that one of the reasons he loves me is when I sing to him every year on his birthday a special song. (Acts of Love) Oj and I had a fun coffee date and purchased wood for an upcoming project. And wonderful talks with those personal close friends on the phone, in person, and in email.

February Scripture Buddy
Catherine Ann Love @ Simple Herbal Home


             Special accomplishments this month....

  • Completed Four Mary Jane Farmgirl Sisterhood badges
  • Made four Stained Glass items
  • Meditated everyday
  • Read Daily devotional with Pam Kruger
  • Page Flutter monthly challenge
  • Wrote Pen Pals and mailed Pocket letters to friends
  • Made a Cross Stitch bookmark for Seasonal Sister
  • Family music and my private music lessons.
  • Attended the gym 4 days a week

What I did not finish...
  • Write in my current novel. (Did not write one single word.)
  • A Cross Stitch that I began in January
  • Scripture Art

Best Deal of the month..
A full tank of gas for less than a dollar a gallon. I earned a bunch of gas points at the market this month. 

Last thought of the month for blog... 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mindfulness Intermeniate Level

Merit Badge Monday

Mindfulness Intermediate
As a member of The MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood, we are each given an opportunity to earn merit badges. It is sorta like scouts for grownups. And, what a great way to learn new things. This month I earned my “Intermediate” Merit badge titled, Mindfulness.

To earn this badge, I needed to

  • Meditate for an additional 21 days. The average length of each session should be at least 10 minutes. Try different types of meditation techniques, such as breathing exercises.

I am very pleased to report that I have been meditating for over 400 days! Wow! First, I want everyone to know that I never intended to meditate or use mindfulness, It just sorta happen! Moreover, it really doesn’t matter how often or how long one meditates. What is important is that you are living fully present in the moment. My practice this month has to not judge myself or others. This all came about when I was meditating after reading a bible verse from Matthew 5:43-44.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

I have to admit that I find it hard to do this. Yet, it is a practice like meditation. Something that you work on each day. So I have been praying and doing a loving kindness meditation for some people that have caused me much harm and have broken my trust. I have realized that by praying, meditating, and sending them warm wishes in thought that I have developed much compassion and empathy for them. At the same time, I do not wish to re-establish any relationship with them. This is part of my boundaries that I have established.

For this badge, I also decided to read a book called Work by Thich Nhat Hanh. Below is my Book Review. I really have found Mindful meditation a positive cultivation for a life filled with more joy and peace. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. 


How to find Joy and Meaning in each Hour of the Day

By Thich Nhat Hanh

A book review by Ginger Dawn Harman

In creating a more mindful lifestyle, I wanted to read some of the teachings for various authors that were listed in my MBSR course book that I attended. Although, I am not a Buddhist, I feel that we can all be mindful and respectful of different beliefs. I often tease that my faith is a bit Potluck since I have learned many wonderful positive behaviors from different religions and faiths over the years. Work by Thich Nhat Hanh will not disappoint you as a reader. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness. He has created a wonderful book titled Work that incorporates mindfulness and healthy choices. In his own words he wanted to give others the opportunity to examine and live a more mindful lifestyle. 

He states “how we deal with workplace scenarios, handle home and family responsibilities, and endure traffic jams and other challenges of modern life. By carefully examining our everyday choices he encourages us to become a lotus in a muddy world.”

I encourage you to read this book slowly and to create an open attitude as to how we can each create a kinder and more compassionate world. We live in such a busy world full of connections and disconnections. Hanh explains that in this business, we often confuse Joy and happiness with excitement or expectations of what must be. My favorite quote from “Work” was,

“Perhaps one of the reasons we don't enjoy all these activities as much as we could is because we think activities need to be exciting for us to enjoy them. Many people confuse joy and happiness with excitement. But excitement is not the same as happiness. With joy and happiness we have a sense of satisfaction. There's a feeling of satisfaction in being in the here and now, when you recognize you have so many conditions for happiness in the present moment, whether you're sitting, walking, standing, or working.” 

I used to go to lunch with a woman and would leave dissatisfied because of the constant photos that must be taken and then the play by play that was then posted on social media. It was as if I was having lunch with a camera. Sadly, it was more about the story of the other person. This book had me shift the focus on not the frustration of the lunch date but to create better choices in my life. How often have I looked at my cell phone while out to lunch with others. This book is a great means to shifting ones perspective.

Part of why I left Facebook and ended a friendship. After all it was with her camera and I was a status update and way for her to gain attention.

Let’s face it, Joy and Happiness is not a “like” icon or is an excited constant posting of look at what I have done. Joy for me the connection with a fully present moment. Experiencing the good food, the smile on the persons face as they share, and the positive reciprocal companionship is what makes a lunch with a friend a “joy.” Not the judgmental, drama, or constantly need to fill others attention. This book goes into detail how to create healthy boundaries in relationships and best of all how to resolve a conflict. I did have a bit of a giggle how even a monk can get annoyed with another monk over something that seems so little such as chewing too loudly.  In every moment of life he emphases, there are infinite reasons to suffer and infinite reasons to be happy. What matters is where we’re putting our attention.

Photo credit http://plumvillage.org

At the back of the book are suggestions on how to continue to create a mindful lifestyle at work, home, and even why driving in rush hour. I appreciate the way that this book is not preachy and gives the reader the choice and what works best for each of our circumstances. I highly recommend Work by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Author Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us
A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

Every month, I look forward to our local library book club meeting. A few years ago, we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and everyone really enjoyed it. Therefore, we were excited to read The Truth According to us. Annie Barrows does not disappoint the reader and offers a tale that entertains, has romance, and a book that I just couldn’t put down!

“In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.”

Please click on this link to read what inspired Annie Barrows

Since, I live in West Virginia, this book caused a bit of conversation. The character development is the best that I have even seen for describing those that live in the eastern panhandle. Although the town of Macedonia is not real. It is very similar to Romney West Virginia. Moreover, It was fun to have the real towns such as Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, and Charlestown that are less than ten minutes from my home. I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite restaurants, The Bavarian Inn was mentioned along with the racetrack. 

The pace of The Truth According to Us is fast and captures the reader’s attention. My favorite characters were Willa and Jottie. I could relate to both of them in many ways. I was surprised at how well the author was able to display the behavior of loyalty between Jottie and Felix. I could really experience how Jottie lost her sense of self. Yet, I love how Jottie’s character develops in the end of the novel. I was equally pleased with the changes that were made with Layla. The romance in this novel is not too over the top and makes it also part of a detective novel as Willa and Layla discover the family secrets.

My favorite line was from the town librarian, “All of us see a story according to our own lights. None of us is capable of objectivity. You must be aware of your sources.”  
I also like, 

“You're right, Jottie, but what good is it? Rightness is nothing. You can't live on it. You might as well eat ashes." I glanced at Father, his bloodshot eyes and the stain on his pants. I loved him so. Once more, I tried to explain. "This is all we can do; it's all we're allowed. We can't go back. The only thing time leaves for us to decide" -- I picked up Father's hand and held it tight-- "is whether or not we're going to hate each other.”

Photo Credit Annie Barrows Website

Overall, everyone including myself enjoyed this novel and it produced a great discussion for a group of bookworms. The only thing that I did not like in this book was that it was choppy in some parts. Especially with the letters that Layla would write. It was almost as they were written but thrown away as they were left unfinished. This was a bit confusing and interrupted the flow at times.  I give The Truth According to Us  by Annie Barrows slightly above average recommendation.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Author Esmerelda Q. Jones

Dinner at the Unicorn Bistro
A Book review By Ginger Dawn Harman

Have you ever wanted to try something new or maybe expand your perspective by visiting a different culture? Imagine the experience and emotions that can be had by a child. Esmerelda Q. Jones has created a children’s book for ages 6 to 10 that takes the reader and the parent on a vivid journey.

“When two rhinos visit the strange, exotic Unicorn Bistro to try something new for dinner, their magical experience is anything but. With food that's hard to recognize and even harder to pronounce, they're beginning to stick out like. . . rhinos in a land of unicorns!

While they struggle through their meal, the unicorns around them aren't so keen on making a good impression. Will the local residents ruin the rhinos' attempt to try something new? Can a kind onlooker change this culture clash for the better?

Dinner at the Unicorn Bistro is an important moral lesson taught through an offbeat wordless picture book. If you like fun illustrations, tales of clashing cultures, and a bit of social commentary, then you'll love Esmerelda Q. Jones' unique picture book.“

I enjoyed this picture book and thought that the illustrations were on mark to capture a young audience. Because there is no words, this book would be better suited to read together with a parent, caregiver, or as a therapeutic opportunity. The pictures give clear examples of emotions, poor behavior choices, manners, and discrimination. I feel that this is a great opportunity to explain to a younger child what is appropriate and mindful. For example, on page three, is it ok to slurp pasta at the table? Moreover, on page four, what does it feel like to be ignored or laughed at because you are different? When one takes the opportunity to discuss and teach children moral values your children learn important skills that will carry them into adulthood. This will affect how they see the world and behave as adults. While it may seem impossible to explain the importance of honesty or compassion to a child, showing your children how good morals affect others can have a great influence on them. While every parent or teacher wants their child or student to be honest, compassionate, kind, respectful, responsible and generous, it may be too confusing for your children to understand the importance of all values. With a picture book it becomes a tool to aid in this discovery. The author does a good job creating this in Dinner at the Unicorn Bistro. 

My only problem with this book is that the author missed a huge opportunity to help the parent or teacher by not including a dialog at the back of the book with discussion topics that could talk about morals, cultures, and society views of those that are different. Furthermore, most teachers and parents want to know more about the author. This book is written by a unicorn named Esmerelda Q. Jones. Even a book written by a character such as Kermit the Frog, has an official website that one can go to that gives information on Jim Henson Company. Parents and teachers want to know a bit more about authors. Much like a cake. We have become a society that want to have available the ingredients of what is inside. With this in mind, I feel that this book needs just a bit more. The author only has a Facebook and Twitter page. But being the type of reader that I am, I was able to find this site on the author! I would encourage setting up a website. 

I do see huge potential with this children’s book and I would suggest to change the meal given to the rhinos to be perhaps a mud pie instead of a picture that looks like poop. Some parents might find that funny and some might find it offensive.  Sometimes, one small factor such as that will take away from the overall theme of the book. I give this book an average rating but could see it revised to a five star children’s book.

Update Feb 21, 2017: The author has added 23 thought-provoking age-appropriate discussion questions to the end of Dinner at the Unicorn Bistro. The updated version is now live and available at Amazon. For this reason I have now made this a 5 star review. And a new website is in the works for adults and children.

Esmerelda Q. Jones is a unicorn who lives in a magical forest on the other side of the universe. Her favorite color is peanut butter. You can find her online in all the usual places.

To Contact Esmerelda

Put your message in a bottle and throw it at the moon. Or I guess try Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Crafts With Love

February Crafts

Stained Glass and Pocket Letters

This past week I decided to do a bit of crafting! I began with making two stained glass crosses where the glass would give an opposite effect depending on the light.

 Next, I wanted to play around with some scrap glass and add a small Valentine's Day plate. I thought that this gave the window a bit of a Victorian effect. 

Since I was trying new ideas, Why not make an agate nightlight!

Meanwhile, My husband made a bolt action rifle pen. This was his first pen than he has created on the lathe.

On Saturday, I decided to make a few Valentine's Day Pocket Letters. Unfortunately, they will be late to my pen pals but they know my heart is in the right place! 

Have you made anything special that you would like to share? Tell me below in the comment section. I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday! 


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