Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Secret of Chimneys - Book Review

I am trying to read through the novels of Agatha Christie in the order in which they were written and write a review on each one.
  



The Secret of Chimneys. 

1925.  
A Novel involving Inspector Battle.


Shelfari Description
A bit of adventure and quick cash is all that good-natured drifter Anthony Cade is looking for when he accepts a messenger job from an old friend. It sounds so simple: deliver the provocative memoirs of a recently deceased European count to a London publisher. But the parcel holds more than scandalous royal secrets. It contains a stash of letters that suggest blackmail--and lead to the murder of a stranger who's been shadowing Anthony's every move. Discovering the dead man's identity means retracing his steps--to the rambling estate of Chimneys where darker secrets, and deadlier threats, await anyone who dares to enter.



My Thoughts

This is the sixth book by Agatha Christie.

I read this over a period of weeks and not days so I think that this gives you an immediate indication of how this one did not hook me in quickly.

Overall I found that there seemed to be too many characters for me to keep track of, yet in another way there weren't that many but some seemed too similar or well just confusing me so that when some were mentioned I had to think hard about who it actually was.

Normally I almost visualize the characters I am reading about but in this one this was not the case and having immediately got mixed up between the two guys at the start of the book I think I continued to get mixed up the whole way through.  
Perhaps however a good deal of this was due to not reading this book in consecutive ssessions but picking it up every 3/4 days and not reading too much in each sitting.
Then again maybe this was the way I read it because I was not so interested - not sure which way to fall on this.

The story was a bit far fetched for me, too many leaders/politicians and upperclass talk.

I would liken myself to Lord Catheral who is the owner of the grand house the book is named after when he expressed the desire to get away from all these people because they were not interesting to him and were more of an intrusion in his home, but then to each of them he would be the ever congenial host and friendly Lord.  Yes I was quite happy for the book to be finished and not have to read all the conversations.

Question I have to ask myself is:

Did the fact that it did not have Poirot or Miss Marple affect my enjoyment?




 Here is a link to a list of her novels on Shelfari
Books by Agatha Christie








Friday, 27 February 2015

Decluttering My Kitchen in February - Housework/Funwork 49


365 in 365 stands for 

Decluttering 365 items in 365 Days

It is a Facebook Group I joined and it means I would have a whole year to get 365 things out of my house,   I started this properly in January see  365 in 365 for January - Housework/Funwork 47


So now two months in to 365 in 365 how have I been doing?


In my yearly Housework/Organising Schedule  this month was set to see the overhaul of the Kitchen.

This has been such a busy month that I have not even written as many blog posts as usual and I had to tackle my kitchen too.

There are some things I just love about my kitchen but keeping it tidy is something I am not good at so the careful consideration of how we use the kitchen and the decluttering of it really is important.



The Kitchen 

The inventory was done last year but I still thought about a few changes to the contents of some of the cupboards this year so the inventory would have to change a little as well as just being checked over.

On different days I did seriously try to think about what could GO from the kitchen and then one day my husband helped get rid of two things.



Yes he dropped a mug and a small plate so I was immediately down by 2 items without me having to think about them.


As for the REAL Decluttering

I did manage to decide to throw out 5 small plates that I have had for more years than I care to remember and they are so faded now that it made sense for them to be thrown out.

Along with a granite chopping board that has sat on the worktop for a few years but hubby refuses to use.  These 6 items had to go to the dump.





Then I continued with all the plates and bowls etc. of different sets and sizes and stood strong and courageous and decided on 32 plates to go to the Car Boot Sale our church does in aid of the Water Project in Zimbabwe.


Yes I really did have a lot of plates but we had always used a lot of plates for entertaining before.

Then a top cupboard gave me another 2 items more for the car boot sale



So a total of 42 items for this month.
Not bad for the 28 days in February.


So running total gives me
January   29
February 42
TOTAL    71  items  in  59 days

Some Reorganising 

I did reorganise 2 cupboards in the kitchen

One of the cupboards held a really large seagrass basket that was used to hold packets of crisps.
Now Fred & I do not eat as many crisps as we used to and the kids are all off living in their own places now so I decided I could take this away and use it elsewhere - not sure exactly how yet.



The bottom section of the cupboard needed a good cleaning and then I was able to put in some of the larger items that were sitting out before.




Another of the cupboards was rather underutilized so now I have some of my large plastic containers and empty tins that are not used so often in the back of the bottom shelf of it with still room for the bread to sit in front and there was also room for the few crisps we have to go on the top shelf.

Forgot to take a before picture of this one.





Unfortunately definitely not much Funwork instead of Housework again this time but I did a good lot of Decluttering and acquired some more space in a few of my cupboards.


Rather happy however to be ending February somewhat ahead of my goal for the year in the 365 in 365.

Decluttering & Reorganising the kitchen with 365 in 365



If anyone is interested in this facebook group to encourage you in your decluttering just click on 365 items in 365 Days 
I know my friend Hilda will welcome you to the group.


Thanks to Asheritah Ciuciu over at "One Thing Alone" for the free monthly calendar printable used above.  Head over and grab one for yourself each month.



Linking up with
METAMORPHIS MONDAYS

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Chatting on the couch - A Dose of Encouragement 61

So I was sitting beside my husband the other day on our new couch and oh how happy we both are that we changed our suite a couple of months ago (but that's another story).


Ok where was I?

Yes sitting on the new couch happily chatting away with the TV on in the background because we had just watched an episode of one of our favourite series.  I said something to him and knew immediately from his response that he hadn't heard what I had said.

Instead he had just presumed what I was going to say.

I stopped and turned to look at him because -Yes, as is quite usual we were both on our ipads at the time.




I accused him of not paying attention to what I was saying but he was adamant that he had been paying attention.

No you weren't 

I replied


because I can tell from your comment to me after I said it.

But he said

you were telling me what you had told me before, you know I do remember!


But that was the problem

Yes he remembered what I had said the previous time I had talked about that subject 

BUT

 not what I had just said.


I suppose I had started off talking about it in the same way as before but I did want to consider a different idea this time and he had just heard the start and presumed I was repeating my same previous thought so he really did think he had listened to me and heard what I had said.

This is very annoying for anyone and not just me.

We all like to be listened to and listened to in full.

So I was rather annoyed at him.

In a way it seemed to me like he didn't want to bother talking about the subject again or listening to anything else I had to say on it.

So I definitely was annoyed at him.

Later when I was working on the Sunday School Curriculum for our church I was once again at one of those passages we will often refer to as being very familiar.

You know those ones that when we hear or read the start we are so tempted to skim over because we have read it or heard it so many times.

Well as I always tell people

I can learn something new every time I prepare for a Sunday School Class

BUT

 I need to be prepared to do so.


If I decide not to bother reading it because I have read that Bible passage so many times before that I know all about it then I will not learn anything new.

If I decide to skim over it then again I will not learn anything new.

If I decide to read it but not keep my full concentration on it then how can I learn anything new?

Notice that word in each of those last 3 sentences?      Decide.

It is a decision we make to actually pay attention when we read.

It is a decision we make to actually listen properly when God is trying to speak to us.

Most likely if we decide not to bother reading and listening attentively we will end up having to depend on our memory of before and our memories are not usually perfect.





Let's not be annoying to God.

Let's not depend on our memory of the last time.
Let's not start talking before we have listened.
Let's not presume we know it all already.
Let's not have the attitude that we don't need to hear from God again even if it is the same subject.

Let's make the decision to read and listen and pay attention.



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

10 Gift Ideas for your Brother-in-law + TIP

I have no brothers but I have a really great brother-in-law.

He met my older sister when I was only 6 years old and he's been part of the family ever since.

As the years come and go we women are always complaining that the husbands leave us to do all the gift buying and isn't that true ladies?

So TRUE!!!!!

But it is not just the buying it is the thinking of new gifts to get all the time that causes us the headache.


Well I thought I would share 10 of the ideas I have had in the past for gifts for my Brother-in-law but listen you have to keep him away from this blog post because there may be some ideas here that I have not actually used for his gifts yet.





NOTE:  In our family we do not usually spend a lot of money on gifts so none of the things listed below will cost ££££s


10 Gift Ideas for your Brother-in-law 


1.  Groupon Voucher  (or Living Social etc.)
   
A couple of years ago I got him one for a free lesson with a Golf Pro.
This was for his birthday in February and he decided to use it a month or so later.
So he and my sister came to stay with us for a few days and we dropped him off for the morning for his lesson and picked him up when he was finished and then we all went and did a bit of shopping together.
Keep an eye on the offers and if one of them makes you think of your brother-in-law then it could be his next gift from you.



2.  Dvds of old Western Films or other types of movies.

He is a fan of old westerns but my sister is not  -  so it's a great gift which is just for him.
I have actually used this idea a few times now.



3.  Amazon Voucher so that he can get books or ebooks.

Yes I know we often say that guys are hard to buy books for so if you have a problem with thinking of suitable books let him choose his own books or ebooks.

My brother-in-law and I and my husband have a somewhat similar taste in detective novels so sometimes when we have found a good one we will then get a copy for him but then there are other times when it would be nice for him to pick his own.



4.  An Interesting Box

Now this is an idea I had a couple of years ago.
I like boxes and at different times I have bought nicely decorated boxes - see Storage Bargains
But  I also found this box one time which I just adore


 it is not a very girlie box so it gave me the idea of looking for a similar type of box and putting in a few small things that my brother-in-law might appreciate and then he could use the box for keeping odds and ends in, which he did.



5.  Mugs 

My brother-in-law loves tea and we always tease him about drinking it all day long.
In the past I have bought him funny mugs or large mugs  -  so that he doesn't have to keep refilling them too quickly.

A packet of a special tea or coffee would go well inside a big mug oh and a biscuit too.
I love the great pics and phrases we can get on mugs these days and we can even design our own.

Credit to Fotofunia



6.  A Guy's Night in Selection Pack

Didn't I mention how he likes Western Movies?
Well my sister doesn't, in fact she isn't very keen on sitting watching a movie at night so she would go to another room to read and my brother-in-law would settle down and watch a movie himself.
So this is where the selection pack would come in.
A nice drink, something savoury to snack on like pringles or popcorn, something chocolatey, and maybe a bag of wine gums all to enjoy while watching his movies on a few different evenings.

Of course we'll not wrap it up in a basket - guys don't do baskets!



7.  Treat him to a night out at the theatre for a comedy.

Now this is the one you definitely have to keep him from seeing because this is one I'm hoping to use soon.  He enjoys a comedy and so do the rest of us so all four of us can go out to this together.



8.  Book of Good Jokes

Most guys enjoy a good joke and think they can tell a good joke, and my brother-in-law and husband are no exception (even though my husband always forgets them).
In our family of course it would have to be a book of good clean jokes and probably the same in yours too.



9.  Gift Voucher for his favourite shop

I know that we always think of girls as keen shoppers but men do usually have a favourite shop whether for clothes or gadgets.
My brother-in-law is a keen walker and he is always looking for thermal lined coats or waterproof items.  Just have a little think about which shop your brother-in-law might prefer to go to depending on his interests.



10.  Sweets (preferably something in Chocolate)

Well my brother-in-law and I may not share the same tastes in drinks  -  I am definitely a coffee drinker and NOT a tea drinker but we both DO LIKE Chocolate.
In the past I have got him some form of chocolate and probably will do so again.

Honestly not many people will not appreciate chocolate and it is the ideal thing to enjoy with your mug of Tea/Coffee, while watching a Dvd or reading your book of jokes.



and the TIP?


Well just DO NOT buy him hankies.


My Brother-in-law and I have a thing about hankies as presents and it goes way back, yes way back to a certain Christmas over 40 years ago.

Some day I just might share that story with you all.


Oh and 


HAPPY BIRTHDAY VICTOR

because someone is bound to direct him to this blog post



Sunday, 22 February 2015

Songs for Worship #8



Last year from January to June I wrote a series on
Why We Worship  where I considered an attribute of God each Sunday.

At different times people mentioned to me about a song that a post reminded them of so I thought that I would now go through those attributes again with a song for each one.


So I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and I hope you will follow along with me.
(Just head over to the side bar and join up if you would like to receive a reminder of my posts)



                         Looking today at 








Faithful One


Faithful one, so unchanging
Ageless one, you're my rock of peace
Lord of all I depend on you
I call out to you, again and again
I call out to you, again and again

You are my rock in times of trouble
You lift me up when I fall down
All through the storm
Your love is, the anchor
My hope is in You alone


If you would like to see the post from last year that this is based on please click on the graphic below




Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What are You Putting into Your Mind? - A Dose of Encouragement 60

Are you a book lover?

Have you ever been involved in a Book Club?

When we lived in Belgium I joined a Book Club organised by mothers from the school our daughter was attending.

I really enjoyed meeting up once a month, having snacks and discussing the book we had all read.
In fact several times I was pleased to have been in the club because I was introduced to books I would normally have not particularly thought of reading.

For example

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

The Time Traveller's Wife.

Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.


I am also the type of person who seldom leaves a book unfinished even if it does not always keep my attention and takes me months to actually finish it because I will go off and read other books in between spurts at the boring one.

However during my time in that book club there were two books which I did not finish.

The Life of Pi.

This just seemed to me to be rather boring.
My daughter's then boyfriend was also an avid reader and we would talk about the books we were reading when he would be round at our home finding that we enjoyed a lot of the same books but we just could not agree on this one.  He kept telling me that I had to persevere and get to the second half of the novel and then I would enjoy it.
I could not see the point in that because I did not anticipate any more of my interest being grabbed when it was so dull so far, plus I had heard about an imaginary tiger in a boat so no it was not my scene.

I have still never read the book and don't believe I ever will as there are always more books I want to read than there is time to read them.


The Kite Runner

To me this one was just simply disgusting.

I got to a certain point in the story where I knew I would never finish this book and at that precise moment I was in a Tram from Brussels to Tervuren with my daughter (who also adored The Time Traveller's Wife).  I closed the book and told her I was not going to read any more and also told her that I hoped she would never read that book.
Then when I was about to throw it into the bin at the tram station I stopped and took it on home with me.
Had I changed my mind?
No, I decided to take it home to dispose of rather than have the chance of being the person responsible for someone else coming along and picking it up to read.

I have still not read the book and I know I never will.


When I told the others at the Book Club that I had not finished the book and never would because I felt disgusted by what I had already read their attitude was one of complete amazement.
I was immediately told that the purpose of reading this book was to be able to recognise the mentality, attitudes and behaviour of people in Afghanistan at that time.  It was stated that I would not be able to understand the culture and what it is like to live there.  It was even implied that I was burying my head in the sand and did not want to know what was happening in the world.

These women were wrong.
I knew more about the country than they thought as I knew people who were actually working there.


From that Book Club I learnt that I don't have to finish a book.

If that book doesn't really interest me or is poorly written or is about a subject that I do not want to read about then I can just close the book or even destroy it.

It is my decision what I read.



What we put into our minds affects our thoughts and words and actions and emotions.

It is better to put good wholesome things into our minds.

I have a choice as to what I ALLOW to go into my mind.

Yes the word allow is exactly the word I mean here, it is my mind and I need to take responsibility for what enters it.

I want to take good care of my mind 
and I am sure you want to take good care of your mind.

What you allow into your mind affects your thoughts and your words and your actions and your emotions.



God has given us the responsibility to take care of every aspect of our lives and our minds are important to Him as well as our bodies.

You have a choice as to what you ALLOW to go into your mind.

Let's be encouraged that we can make a difference in our thoughts, words, actions and emotions by taking the responsibility for what we allow into our minds and seriously consider what we are reading or looking at or listening to or talking about on a daily basis.










Linking up with  GRACE & TRUTH Linky




Sunday, 15 February 2015

Songs for Worship #7



Last year from January to June I wrote a series on
Why We Worship  where I considered an attribute of God each Sunday.

At different times people mentioned to me about a song that a post reminded them of so I thought that I would now go through those attributes again with a song for each one.


So I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and I hope you will follow along with me.
(Just head over to the side bar and join up if you would like to receive a reminder of my posts)



                         Looking today at 


God is Eternal







Everlasting God 



Strength will rise

As we wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord



Strength will rise

As we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord



Our God, You reign forever

Our hope, our strong deliverer


You are the everlasting God

The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary



You're the defender of the weak

You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles



Strength will rise

As we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord



Strength will rise

As we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord



Our God, You reign forever

Our hope, our strong deliverer


You are the everlasting God

The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary



You're the defender of the weak

You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles



If you would like to see the post from last year that this is based on please click on the graphic below






Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Memories of Love - A Dose of Encouragement 59

I have been thinking about memories on and off for a while because I have been sorting out old photographs and scanning negatives. (A long, long job)

I have found at different times that my memories don't always match up with the photographs.

Have you ever discovered that or is it just me?

For example when I was 12 years old I went to Barcelona and because that was a very long time ago I only had a few photos and they were in black and white.

I had not looked at them for a couple of decades and unfortunately when I came to the packet the photos were missing and only the negatives remained.  Perhaps later I will find the photos mixed in with some others and perhaps I will never find them but at least I could scan the negatives.

How surprised I was while scanning to find that one of the pictures seemed to be the opposite way round but on checking the strip of negatives I confirmed that I really did have the strip the correct way in the scanner and was not now looking at the reversal of the photo.

I had always remembered that Monte and her mother were standing to the left hand side of the doorway and facing to the right

but in reality

they were standing in the centre of the doorway and facing left.


In the same strip of negatives there were two pictures of the Cathedral in Barcelona,
one of the top




and one of the bottom



Yet I had always thought I had a photo of the full front of the cathedral.

So it just proves that my memories are not always accurate.

Then just this past Saturday Fred and I went for a walk beside a Lake not too far from where we live and at one point we took a path that was rather steep so laughingly Fred got behind me and pushed me up the slope.

As he did so he said         "Does this remind you of anything?"

I immediately answered        "Slieve Donard"


Now a quick summary is in order here:

I met Fred in the early 70's but we were just friends.
A few years later we were both at a Christian Summer Camp.
One of the days we all went to a town called Newcastle to walk up a mountain
called Slieve Donard.
Without going into too much detail, 6 of us were walking along together when we came to a steep part and the 3 girls laughed and said we were too tired so the boys would have to push us.  They said they wouldn't but in the end
Fred did push me up the steep part.

On the slope of Slieve Donard I'm between the two Freds
the one in the centre of the picture is the one I married

So Saturday's reference was to that event in 1975 which will be 40 years ago in July this year.  (I have written about the same summer camp in a blog post last year called    What a Face )

Now back to Saturday.

We both laughed and probably both thought I was a lot lighter when he pushed me up Slieve Donard but at least he didn't say it.

Then I asked him  

 "Do you actually remember pushing me that day or do you just remember me
 talking about it throughout the years?"

And his honest answer was
     
"I think I remember a memory that I have formed because you have talked about it"


Now I had two choices here.

I could have taken the "huff"and been annoyed at him for not remembering something that I had from all those years ago.

OR

I could just accept that we had different memories from that day.

I chose the latter because I know that Fred does not always remember things the same as I do because he doesn't always see things the way I do and vice versa.

Yes even though so many of our memories have been formed together over all these years we each remember some things the same and some things differently.

Even things to do with our relationship?      YES!

Even things to do with our love?    YES!

Does this matter?     NO!  but sometimes Yes.

It shouldn't matter because it is just the way we were made; we are both different people and each day is different to each of us even if we share all the events of that day.

We have to accept that each of our memories of our love are different.
We have to accept that each of us will forget certain things about our relationship.
We have to accept that each of us will notice things in our lives differently.

Why?     Because our memories and our love are not perfect and neither are we.

However there is a love that is perfect.

The love of God is perfect because God is Perfect and God is Love.

God remembers every single part of our relationship with Him and his memories are perfect.

God will not forget about us, He will not forget how much He loves us.

God's memories of us will be perfect and when He reminds us of something it will be true.

God also knows exactly how we remember things and how we have felt through all of our life.

God knows how we feel right at this very moment.


God's memories of Love are unforgettable and you know what 

to God you are unforgettable too.




Is this not the way you want to be loved?

If you don't know this love of God please take a little time to watch the 3 2 1 video on the sidebar.




Sunday, 8 February 2015

Songs for Worship #6


Last year from January to June I wrote a series on
Why We Worship  where I considered an attribute of God each Sunday.

At different times people mentioned to me about a song that a post reminded them of so I thought that I would now go through those attributes again with a song for each one.


So I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and I hope you will follow along with me.
(Just head over to the side bar and join up if you would like to receive a reminder of my posts)



                         Looking today at 

God is Faithful






Faithful God 


Faithful God, Faithful God.
All sufficient One I worship you.
Shalom my peace,
My strong deliverer.
I worship you
Faithful God.


If you would like to see the post from last year that this is based on please click on the graphic below