Saturday, June 21, 2014

Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Book Review


Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Book Review

Book Summary:
Caroline Lang is an undercover investigator whose most recent assignment is to go undercover as a factory worker at Dinsmore's World-Famous Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas. A suspicious accident has occurred at the factory and Caroline wants to figure out what really happened. While Caroline is undercover as a factory worker she is also compelled to help children be free of heavy adult responsibilities and have the opportunity to pursue their own educations. This stems from Caroline's fervent faith, difficult childhood, and compassion to make a difference. 

The heir to Dinsomore's World-Famous Chocolate Factory, Oliver Dinsmore, has his own investigation to conduct. Oliver poses as a common factory worker known as "Ollie Moore", to find out all he can about his family business before he takes it over from his father. 

Caroline and Oliver become fast friends until they realize they have different opinions about the role of children working in the factory. When three children are in desperate need of help, Caroline and Oliver find it very difficult to continue to keep their identities hidden. They feel as though fate may have brought them together, until all is revealed. 

My Review:

I was really looking forward to receiving a copy of Echoes of Mercy, by Kim Vogel Sawyer in the mail. The story sounded intriguing and I love the time period in which the story takes place.
Echoes of Mercy did not disappoint. I really loved the characters in the story. Each character was so believable and as I read the book it was if I was watching the characters unfold on the big screen in a movie theater. I was such a big fan of Caroline and Oliver throughout the story, and not once did they disappoint. 

The parts of the book that talked about child labor really pulled at my heartstrings. I love teaching and working with children. I know how important and education can be. My heart went out to all of the young children who spent their days working hard labor for literally pennies,  at such a young tender age, missing out on learning how to read and write, and the joys of childhood. 

A part that I loved from the book is when Oliver asks a minister a few questions because he feels inadequate to be praying to God. In regards to communicating with God, the minister said, "The more we talk to Him, the closer our relationship with Him grows, just as with any earthly relationship. So don't worry so much about how you speak to Him, son. Just talk to Him (Echoes of Mercy, pg.133)." What a beautiful reminder. God loves us all no matter our circumstances and he wants to hear from us. 

I love that this book has a mystery, a sweet romance, it can tug at your heart strings, make you gasp, smile, and leaves you feeling happy. It has all of the story elements that I enjoy. Echoes of Mercy is a nice easy read, and the perfect book to lose yourself in on a warm summer's day. 

To purchase your own copy of Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer you can CLICK HERE to be taken to Amazon, CLICK HERE to be taken to Barnes and Noble, or CLICK HERE to shop at Water Brook Multnomah. 

Want to find out more about Kim Vogel Sawyer's books? You can CLICK HERE to go to her Twitter page, CLICK HERE to see her on Facebook, and CLICK HERE to go to her website.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions expressed in my review are unbiased and reflect my honest judgment and opinion of the book. 

This "Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer's Book Review" first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on June 21, 2014. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World Book Review



How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World - A Modern Book of Hours to Soothe the Soul, is a book written by Sophia Stuart, the creator of teamgloria.com.  Sophia lived a crazy life with no true relaxation. Soon Sophia found herself in front of a surgeon who told her that she had three tumors in her throat that needed to be removed, and that she needed to take at least a month of medical leave to recover. This is when Sophia's world seemed to come crashing down on her. 

My Review:

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World gives us a little glimpse into Sophia's life, her journey, her struggle to get through her trial of heath issues, as well as tips on how to take care of ourselves better. Sophia also shares her beautiful photography of photographs taken during her day to day life as well as her travels abroad. The photographs are absolutely beautiful, calming, and relaxing. 

Sophia's book, How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World, is broken up into three sections. The first section, "Morning" the reader is given ideas to inspire us for the day ahead. The second section, "Afternoons" we are given fun tips on how to enhance our lives and find more joy in our journeys. In the last section, "Evening" we are given ideas on how to exhale, unwind, and leave the day behind.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the lists in the back of the book that give you ideas on how to make yourself your own "Kindness Kit", movies, music, and book suggestions to help you while recovering from an illness or to simply help let life slow down for a while. 

At the very beginning of the book the author says, "During the Middle Ages women of noble birth would have a book of hours, a devotional object that gave them room to pause, to take a moment, to become spiritually refreshed." While pondering this idea the author thought that "perhaps a modern book of hours was needed: some beautiful images and a few carefully chosen words to inspire and soothe a troubled soul."

I also like how the author said, "Please take time to look after yourself. Find the gloriousness in your everyday life. Relish the delightful sparks of inspirational magic. You are important. You matter." Sophia then encourages us to not wait until we get sick like she did to start taking care of ourselves. 

Overall I enjoyed this book and I thought that it was unique in its contents and structure. I appreciated the thoughtful ways that the author shared with us on how to better take care of ourselves. When I received this book to review in the mail I was going through my own health struggles. I went four months, from December to April of this year being incredibly ill, going from doctors appointment to doctors appointment, seeing specialists, having several major tests done, and being confined to a bed while my husband had to take on being Mr. Mom to our two young daughters. 

To say this was a trial would be an understatement. I had many moments of sadness and frustration as doctors couldn't figure out what was going on with me. I didn't like seeing and feeling my body deteriorate. I didn't like hearing my sweet daughters ask if I was ever going to get better. I didn't like seeing the extra stress it caused on my husband as he was trying to take care of me, the girls, the house, and still focus on his work. I felt bad and helpless having to just take a step back from life and watch it move on without me. 

So, reading this particular book at the time I read it couldn't have been more perfect timing. It made me realize that I didn't have to feel so guilty about basically having to check out of life for a little bit, that sometimes we have to take care of ourselves, sometimes we have to focus on our own well being not just the well being of those around us. That is not being selfish or self centered, it is taking care of the beautiful gift God has given us called life. 

I am happy to say that I have almost made a full recovery from my illnesses. Some of my health issues will be an ongoing battle the rest of my life, but to have a light  back in me again, as well as hope, and happiness emerge, I will take that any day.

My only thing I would like to have seen a little more of in How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World would have been more of Sophia's writing, a little more substance to balance the gorgeous photography. The author has such a wonderful writing voice that I would have loved to have heard more of it. 

With that said, I do think that this book is a sweet book, full of positive affirmation, encouraging thoughts, and wonderful tips. 

Want to find out more about Sophia Stuart? You can click here to go to her Pinterest page, click here to go to her Twitter account, and click here to go to her website.

To purchase your own copy of How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World - A Modern book of Hours to Soothe the Soul  you can click here to go to Hay House Publishing or click here to be taken to Amazon.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment and opinion of the book. 

This "How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World Book Review" first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on May 25, 2014. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Retro Orange Pyrex Painting and Vintage Pyrex Teal Dish

I am excited to share with you my watercolor painting I painted of vintage Pyrex. Oh, how I love vintage Pyrex and it was so much fun to paint this painting. I particularly chose this orange pattern since I painted this painting for my sister. My sister went to Culinary School and is an amazing chef and she loves the color orange.
 
Here is an up-close picture of the vintage Pyrex pattern I painted. This particular pattern I believe is called the "Friendship Pattern". You can see some real examples of this lovely vintage Pyrex for sale HERE on Etsy.  
Here is another up-close picture of the top nesting bowl. I really loved how this painting turned out in person and I hope that my sister loved it as well. I definitely want to paint a lot more vintage Pyrex. I absolutely adore all of the colors and patterns that they came in. Plus, I love all things vintage!
I own one vintage Pyrex piece that belonged to my later grandmother. It is a large glass mixing bowl that is yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I need to take a picture of it for you. We use it all of the time. While looking for treasures in thrift shops I have been on the hunt forever to find another piece of vintage Pyrex. Up until now I have had no luck. Well, I am happy to say my luck finally changed. Look at the darling piece of vintage Pyrex I found above. Not only did this cute little serving dish contain one of my favorite patterns and all time favorite colors (or maybe it is a butter tray?), but I scored this little beauty for only $1.00. Yes, one dollar. Can you believe it? It is in perfect condition.
I know that this picture is hard to read but I wanted to take a picture of what the writing on the underside of the dish said. So, all of my Pyrex lovers, can you tell me what pattern this is and maybe more specifically what this darling dish was used for?

I have more pictures of amazing vintage Pyrex collections in my "Vintage Loves" Pinterest Board HERE.

Want more exciting news? I just added prints of my Vintage Pyrex Painting in my Artistically Shauna Etsy Shop to purchase. My poor little shop has been neglected for too long and I can't wait to start adding some more artistic items to it. This print is going to be very limited, so if you are interested in a copy make sure to grab one before they are gone.

I am also thrilled to be linking up to Paint Party Friday's Link Party. It has been a while since I have had a chance to participate.
Have a fabulous weekend!

This "Retro Orange Pyrex Painting and Vintage Pyrex Teal Dish" post first appeared on my blog, Artistically Shauna, on May 22, 2014. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dogs Have a Way of Finding the People Who Need Them


I absolutely love the quote on the picture of my dog Lily above: "Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them. And filling and emptiness we didn't even know we had."

When my two sweet dogs, Buddy and Maddie, passed away within a few months of each other I was devastated. They both passed away from different kinds of cancer and they were brother and sister. We had Buddy and Maddie for 10 years, ever since they were 6 weeks old, and losing them was like losing two of my children.

I knew I would eventually want another dog, because I adore dogs too much, but the pain of not having my other two dogs around was too close to my heart.
Then along came Lily. Lily our sweet rescue dog that had a very rough start in life. Lily who needed to be rescued and shown love, and trust, although in the end I think that we were the ones that were rescued.
Lily has brought so much joy into our lives in the year that we have had her. My daughters adore her, my husband adores her, and everyone who meets her adores her. Our family needed our Little Miss Lily Bean, and some of the emptiness that I didn't even realize I was still holding onto, has been replaced with happiness and love. I still think about my other two dogs daily, but this little doggie has helped my heart heal.
Our dogs are not just pets, they are a part of our family. If you have a dog, or any animal for that matter, please make sure to be kind and gentle, and treat it with love and respect. Animals love us unconditionally, and they deserve our love back.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Don't Ever Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle Quote

"Don't ever let anyone dull your sparkle!" I thought that this quote went perfect with my daughter's sparkly and bright Easter Eggs.