Monday, 29 June 2015

The Big Four - 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 Big Four. 

1927  
A Poirot Mystery.


Shelfari Description


It is a few years after the First World War, Hercule Poirot is preparing for a voyage to South America at the behest of a wealthy American. Captain Hastings has returned from South America on business and his arrival causes Poirot to cancel his trip. Poirot has discovered the existence of four immensely powerful individuals who together plan world domination. A Chinaman, An American, A Frenchwoman and an Englishman. An investigation is in order. Fortunately, Poirot has the faithful Captain Hastings at his side as he plunges into a conspiracy of international scope -- one that would consolidate power in the deadly cabal known as "The Big Four". The book contains several chapters which are almost stand alone cases as the Big Four and Poirot, Hasting and various police forces progress towards the final outcome a year after the first contact Poirot has had with the Big Four.


My Thoughts

This is the 8th book by Agatha Christie and the 5th for her sleuth Hercule Poirot.

I read this in one day.  Started it at the hairdressers in the afternoon and then read again in the evening and then finished it in bed that night.   I really did want to read it quickly as it was holding my attention well and I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next and who Number Four was, but it also helped that I had been unwell for the four days before this and still not back to fighting fit form so I did not feel guilty about reading so much in one day.

A very different storyline to her last book The Murder of Roger Ackroyd  with this one not being about a specific murder and the household of suspects.  Instead we had different events in different locations and always the feeling of having to look over your shoulder no matter where we were.  Also the ever present threat to Poirot was part of the suspense.

Was the fact that Hastings had returned and was the narrator a great addition to this book?  For me I believe yes and for others who have not read any Poirot novels and met his friend Captain Hastings I still think yes, as I believe the narration comments he makes just endear his character to any reader.  One thing that I feel is misleading about the Shelfari description above is that Hastings did not cause Poirot to change his mind about his trip at the start of the book.

I really did not remember this book even though I know I have read it many many years ago and even though I had seen the TV adaptation about a year ago there was such a difference from the original story that I felt I was reading something completely new as I went through it.

Some parts of this book may seem a bit dated nowadays but as with all Christie mysteries the main storyline can be ageless.  But maybe we could also say that some of this book seemed even more suited to this day and age because of our world powers, wealth and prestige.

So even though it is not a straightforward murder mystery that I love from Agatha Christie you can tell by how quickly I read it that I really did enjoy it.


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





Sunday, 28 June 2015

Songs for Worship #26


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

Now I've been following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and sharing a song which I feel links in with that week's attribute.

Today we come to our last post in this series.



                         Looking today at 



God is the Great "I AM"








Holy



What heart could hold the weight of Your love
And know the heights of Your great worth
What eyes could look on Your glorious face

Shining like the sun


You are holy, holy, holy
God most high and God most worthy

You are holy, holy, holy
Jesus, You are
Jesus, You are



Your name alone has power to raise us
Your light will shine when all else fades

Our eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You, God?



You are holy, holy, holy
God most high and God most worthy

You are holy, holy, holy
Jesus, You are
Jesus, You are


Who shall we say You are
You're the living God

Who shall we say You are
You're the Great I AM
The highest name of all
You're all You say You are



You are holy, holy, holy
God most high and God most worthy

You are holy, holy, holy
Jesus, You are
Jesus, You are



And You shall come again in glory
To judge the living and the dead

All eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You, God?





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




Thank you for joining with me for this Songs for Worship Series and I hope you have enjoyed the songs as much as I have.



Friday, 26 June 2015

Organised Bookcases - Housework/Funwork 57


I was still working at organising the study this week and I finished the Bookcases there.


Now I know I have a lot of ebooks on my kindle but I still have loads of ordinary books and that is one area I really find hard to tidy up and organise because I take ages to decide whether or not to get rid of some books.


The bookcases were really out of hand, completely cluttered and such a messy sight that I had to cut down on the number of books and move off a lot of things that should not really be there.



I love these 4 bookcases which we bought over 20 years ago when we were living in America and they are still in good condition after the move back to Northern Ireland and then the move to Belgium and finally back to Northern Ireland again.

Even though I decided to geta white desk 2 years ago I could have been tempted to paint these white to match but either I'm too lazy or I still love the type of wood in the bookcases and I think it truly is the latter.

The 2 bookcases on the left are full length shelved and the other 2 are shelved on top and have a cupboard on the bottom.

So taking them one at a time I decluttered and organised the bookcases and the cupboards.

Working from the left


This is the bookcase which contains our Christian Novels on the first 5 shelves.
They are in alphabetical order by author (yes I'm a bit fussy and like to be able to find my books easily - and now it is even easier without the clutter in front).

The bottom shelf is the hardest to get at so it contains all the bible study books we have had over the years working with youth groups and homegroups and personal ones too.

The second shelf has all my Davis Bunn physical books and then my kindle has the rest.  I have practically every book he has written and was also privileged to be part of his launch team for one of his books last year and got to review it on my blog - The Strait of Hormuz

The ornaments on the shelves are mostly little personal items and from previous blog posts you will know that I love Arks, and I love Bears, and I love Boxes.





The second bookcase continues on the Christian Novels in alphabetical order again for the first 5 shelves.

The bottom shelf this time is full of nonfiction Christian books.

If you look closely at the fifth shelf you can see a thick book (black & white cover) by Elizabeth Elliot who died very recently.  Sorting out these shelves made me want to read a lot of my books again and this is definitely one of those to reread soon.

Also on the 4th shelf are all my Penelope Stokes novels (as far as I know I have all the novels she has written plus her book about writing novels and her book about faith).
My favourite is The Blue Bottle Club which was the first book I reviewed on this blog.




The third bookcase has the top two shelves devoted to Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries and information books on the Bible.

Then the third shelf contains all my Agatha Christie books.
The red hardbacks are my complete Herron Collection of her books including the Who's Who and then there are two paperbacks of the two books that for some reason were not included in the Herron collection.  As you can see they are in two rows - 37 of them with two books in each.

I love to sit with these hardbacked books to reread the Christie stories before I review them on this blog.




The last bookcase has some photo albums of the kids (someday I might tell the story of those and why Linda always goes on about how you can tell she is the third child).

Then it also has some cookbooks and other miscellaneous books that are special to me, my journals from when we lived in America and in Belgium and some Dutch Novels.

The Bottom shelf just has some ornaments for now but I bet that later on it will be filled with other books because I just could not make up my mind about all of my non-Christian books yet.


Then there were the two cupboards under the shelves of 3 and 4




This is what was in cupboard 3 - Stationary but rather mixed up.

At least it wasn't as bad as cupboard 4 where lots of things tumbled out unto the floor when I opened the doors.



There were obviously too many books shoved in badly to the top shelf of this cupboard.

But then of course as Fred always says - I need to make a mess when sorting things out and that is what I did here because I pulled everything out and sorted it all there on the floor and replaced more than half of it.

It is now so much neater and better organised



with the top shelf dedicated to the books that I use to do the Sunday School Curriculum and the bottom shelf for all our Dutch notebooks and grammar books and exercise books.

Notice there is also some extra space on both shelves - wonder how long that will be there!


Well I also got everything out of cupboard 3 and sorted that into piles on the floor as you can see here when I remembered to take a picture half way through the job.




We love notebooks and files and folders as you can see above.

And the finished cupboard didn't end up completely full either.



Now I can see better what notebooks and journals I still have and can get at all the envelopes and files better.

You may have noticed something on the inside of the left doors of both of these cupboards too.

Gripping Stuff:
It is sticky on both sides so it sticks to the door (or other surfaces and then paper or card can be stuck to it.



It comes in sheets which can be cut to any size and I had cut two pieces just a little smaller than A5 size for the two cupboards a couple of years ago.

Then I had used 2 pieces of A5 card and written on them the contents of the cupboards with the intention of marking off things as we used them so that I would always know how many we had of things and where they were but I started that and then got lazy or forgot and after a while it was no longer accurate.  So not too sure what to do about this but that can be a decision I make when the Study is nearing completion.

Besides that small ongoing thought I am really happy with my




So how did I manage this month with my decluttering for 365 items in 365 days this month?

I did really well!

30 items Thrown Out

15 books
3 plastic folders
1 ornament
3 Puzzle magazines
4 old cds thrown
some old floppy disks
some envelopes &papers
some old craft stickers
some old craft papers

27 items To Car Boot Sale
20 books
2 ornaments
1 pair of craft scissors
2 notebooks
2 small framed prints


So running total gives me

January     29
February   42
March       31
April           8
May            0
June          57
TOTAL    167 items  in  181 days  










Linking up with  METAMORPHIS MONDAY

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Goldfish from the Fair! - A Dose of Encouragement 78


Everyone in our family loves babies.

Everyone also loves cute little animals like small cuddly puppies, tortoises, ducklings

Everyone loves other larger animals even if we each do have our distinct favourites.

But

        we had never had a family pet!

Well before Fred & I got married I had always wanted a dog but Fred grew up on a farm and so his attitude was
        "a dog is a working animal!".

Then when the kids were young I was working as a Mathematics teacher and Fred's job meant he did a lot of travelling so it did not seem like a good idea to have a pet.

Yes you probably guessed it - I did not want to have to take all the responsibility for it and who would look after it during the day when we were all out at work and school!

Then we moved to live in America for 3 years and as we were moving we did talk about how it was a good thing that we had not had any pets.

So you will understand too that knowing we were only in the US for a few years we were not going to even consider having a pet there.
Not until we decided to take a day out to the State Fair - and we ended up coming home with not just one pet but 4.



Yes four Goldfish that the kids won at some event - I don't even remember what event now all these years later.

They were in a small plastic bag so on the way home we stopped off and got some fish food and then at home I let them use my large clear glass mixing bowl.

We set them on the table and just watched them swim around and around and said how cute they were and then gradually one by one we got bored watching and went on to making dinner etc.
We thought they should have a little something to eat too so sprinkled a little of their food into the bowl.

Of course when you have a pet you need a name but we needed 4 names - if there had been 5 goldfish we could have used our five names but because there were only 4 we decided to name them after the kids so the largest became Jonathan, the next largest became Daniel and the next became Linda leaving us with the smallest one whom we called Tiny - oh how imaginative we can be!!

So off to bed we went that night.

Down for breakfast in the morning and someone glanced at the bowl and we heard the cry

"one of the fish is just floating in the water"

We all looked into the bowl and true enough 3 were swimming around and 1 was just lying there - it was Tiny.

Now they definitely had all been ok the night before




as this second closer up pic shows,  but overnight poor Tiny had died.


We felt very sad, we could not even look after a fish for one day!


Fred talked to the kids about how hot it had been at the fair and how the goldfish had been in that small plastic bag exposed to the sunlight for a long period of time and Tiny had been the smallest of the four so probably he had suffered the most from the heat on the water.

So we mourned the death of Tiny but at least it hadn't been Jonathan, Daniel or Linda.

Later that day we sprinkled a little food into the bowl again and every now and again we would look at the 3 goldfish swimming thinking how it must be boring to do that all the time.

Next morning at breakfast we realised that we had another death on our hands yes Goldfish Linda was now floating on top of the water.
The next day it was Daniel's turn to float and the following day it was Jonathan.

One after another our four pets had died - what kind of people were we!

All we could think of was the fact that we had not had them very long so the children had not got very "attached to them", thank goodness!


Well I want to encourage you that God is not like us.


Have you become a child of God?

Do you know that even from before you were born He has been "attached to you".



He is the one who Created you in the first place and He is the one who Loves you at all times.

God knows you better than anyone else does.


We found out some time later that we had fed the goldfish too often.

Although we had got the right food for them we had not fed them properly.


So if you feel smothered by others,

        or if you feel neglected by others,

                or if you feel like you are not sure where to turn at times

                        or if you feel that there is just too much to read in God's Word

                                or if you feel there are too many different people telling you what to do

                 

Remember God is not like us


God knows the best way to look after you as part of His family.

God will feed you in the right way.
God will love you in the perfect way.
God will lead you in the way of righteousness.


God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.


I am thankful that He will not neglect us or kill us by accident as we did with the goldfish.

We are safe with God.



Sunday, 21 June 2015

Songs for Worship #25


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

Now I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and sharing a song which I feel links in with that week's attribute.

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 God the Most High God








Our God is greater, stronger, higher than any other and no-one or nothing can stand
 against us as we are hid in Him.

There is none like unto Him.




Our God



Water You turned into wine
Open the eyes of the blind
There's no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

[Chorus]
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome In power
Our God, Our God... 

Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no One like You
None like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 

[Bridge]
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who can ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God... 
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...


Our God is God the Most High God

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







Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Flamingos in Philadelphia! - A Dose of Encouragement 77


Every time we hear the word "Flamingos" we think of a certain person.

Every time we see a flamingo on television we think of a certain person.

Yes "flamingo" = Fred.


It all stems back to many years ago (in fact 20 years ago) before we returned to Northern Ireland from living in Delaware, USA.

We went one day to visit Philadelphia Zoo and had a great time as we all liked to visit Zoos to see the animals.

The kids were between 7 and 12 years old so you can imagine some of the excitement they showed especially when they saw what they considered to be their favourite animals - cheetahs, turtles etc.

Fred and I don't particularly have favourite animals although I do like elephants and pandas and definitely do not like snakes (which you might remember if you read "I Don't Want to Pet a Snake!"  from April this year).


Well after this visit the kids just loved to tease Fred that the "Animatronic Pink Flamingos" were his favourite animals.

Animatronic?

Walking around the Zoo we had come to a large pond or lake where there were many flamingos and you have guessed it they were Pink.


As you may know about flamingos they can stand very still and this is exactly what they were doing when we arrived at their location.  We stood and watched and then a few of them moved very slowing and gracefully but did not move very much.

Fred could not resist telling the children that these flamingos were not real ones but were actually animatronic ones.  Immediately we all said "no they're not" a few times but Fred stood there looking very serious and proclaimed "Of course, they were" and then went on to explain why he thought so.

Well we had been to some Theme parks and the kids were familiar with this word "animatronic" and they just stared at the flamingos and the longer they stared the more unsure they became and did not know whether to believe their dad or not.

Still to this day Fred will just laugh and say that he was right but of course we all know he wasn't.

So that is how hearing about flamingos or seeing flamingos always makes us laugh and think of Fred and generally one of the kids will say "Are they animatronic dad?"


That animal is now associated with Fred and we cannot get that association out of our heads.

It's not bad, in fact it's a nice association; bringing up a reminder of the happy shared memory we have as a family.




Other associations are not so nice and can bring back hurtful memories or angry memories and once the association is in our minds we may never be able to get rid of it.

Sometimes our associations can even come from our first impressions of people because of the words we heard or the action we saw even if those were taken out of context or not heard or seen in full.

Or sometimes an association can suddenly be forged after knowing someone for a long time but some action or word now conjures up bad thoughts about that former friend.


We need to be careful to not throw away a friendship.

A friend can end up no longer being a friend because of some small thing that you just cannot get out of your mind about them but about which they may not even know.

We may have overheard/been told something that was not the full information or was almost a complete fabrication and now a relationship is destroyed.

We need to be careful to not throw away a friendship or alienate a family member because we have changed in our opinion of them due to some association we now have in our minds.

The only way to do this is to ask God to help us keep our minds pure and to not jump to conclusions.
Always stop and think.


The only way to do this is to ask God to help us keep our minds pure and to not jump to conclusions.

Let's ask ourselves why our friends would suddenly seem to be almost the opposite to what we had already known them to be.

Does one thing mean that they have changed?

It should take more than one incident, sentence or thing to change the character of a person, and it would take a period of time for a major change.





Then what about how we perceive the incident?

We can let that change us instantly - not a thoughtful, Godly way of behaving is it?

So should we believe that our friends would change so quickly?

Maybe we are the ones in which the change is taking place and not our friends.



Sunday, 14 June 2015

Songs for Worship #24


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

Now I'm following the weeks of Why We Worship from last year and sharing a song which I feel links in with that week's attribute.

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 The Trinity







Fountain of Goodness


Fountain of goodness, beauty, ever-streaming love,
Pouring out every blessing on your perfect Son;
Father, before all things, your joy was found in him.

Radiant light of heaven, ever-cherished Son,
Knowing such perfect closeness, with your Father one;
Jesus, you came to us, to share all that was yours.

Our God is good! He's shown such love.
Now adopted in the Son, to you we come,
And we delight in you our God. 
You loved us first and now our hearts are yours.

Giver of life, for ever resting on the Son,
Bringing the joy of knowing all the Father's love,
Spirit, you've made us Christ's; now we're as loved as him 



God is the Trinity


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







Friday, 12 June 2015

An Organised Craft Armoire - Housework/Funwork 56


While we lived in Hockessin in Delaware, U.S.A for 3 years we we very fortunate to find some very useful good pieces of furniture which we still have after 22 years and are still in great condition even after being relocated to Belgium for 6 years in between.

One of those items is my Craft Armoire.

Now when we bought it originally it was a Computer Armoire and that is how we used it during our 3 years in America.

Of course it suited well as a computer armoire for then because of the large computers and keyboards of the 1990s, the fold out desktop was great and the ability to close the doors and hide everything was a great asset but later when computers did not take up as much space I was able to take it and use it for my crafts.

Again the doors were great for hiding the mess within but eventually it really was time to organise it successfully



because even though I tried over the years it never really got much better than this




Yes I had containers and bags and tubs to keep things in but they were shoved in tightly together most of the time and so it was not very inviting to actually use the crafts.

Still there was the fact that I could just shut the doors and try to forget about the mess and that is what I would do until the next time I needed something.

So last September I decided it was going to get the proper overhaul it needed and it did which you can see here in Too Many Places!

Over the past year it has remained the same - so it must have been a pretty good job and today I thought I would explain more about how it is organised.


How to organise a craft armoire




CONTENTS:

A.  Top Left Shelf

Embellishments - some wooden, some card, some plastic in containers with compartments and handles for easy lifting out and in and taking to the kitchen table when I need a large surface to work on as in Easy Kids Heart Banner
Small items like this have to be kept separated for ease of use - no point in having to hunt through a box of mixed up items every time.



Punches - these are in two boxes, one for the smaller individual picture punches and one for the larger corner and edging punches.




B.  Second Left Shelf

Wooden Stamps - various pictures, words and sizes kept in compartment boxes and can clearly be seen through the clear lids.  The smaller purple boxes are double sided so hold two lots of stamps.



Clear stamps - various designs and the holders to put them on for stamping.

Stamp ink - various colours, clear for embossing, and cleaners






C.  Third Left Shelf

Plastic Lidded Containers - variety of craft materials for making projects for Christmas and other times of the year.


Two black & White Lidded Cardboard Boxes - I keep larger rolls of ribbon in one and coloured string in the other.  Although these were made especially for the purpose of storing ribbon I think I would like to get something better in the future.



D.  Fourth Left Shelf

Embossing Trays & Stencils 

This shelf is not as deep as others so it is a good choice for these larger or longer flat stencils which would get pulled and twisted if they were mixed in with other heavier objects.




I have the large Fiskars Embossing tray that will hold up to 12x12 sheets and also the smaller Fiskars card embosser.




E.  Fifth Left Shelf

Paper Cutter

This shelf pulls out so is ideal for the paper cutter to have a place of it's own.




F.  Second Bottom Left Shelf

Larger containers fit better on this shelf


Blue cantilever style container - double sided sticky tape, velcro dots, glue dots, craft scissors etc.



Blue tool box style container - lollipop sticks large & small, glue sticks for glue gun etc.





G.  Bottom Left Shelf

Deep Scrapbooks

Boxes of Papers & card 

Because it is at the bottom I thought it more natural to put some heavier things there and things I would not want to lift out so often.



H.  Large Castors

I know this is not storage and not crafts but this is a great thing that my husband decided was needed very shortly after we got the Armoire all those years ago.

We do laugh and say that Fred would like everything to be on castors but definitely in this case it made such a difference for all the times we have moved the armoire as we moved house and also makes it so much easier for cleaning around, behind and underneath it.



J.  Armoire Doors

These doors are great in that they have those special hinges so that the doors will open right back beside the actual sides of the armoire.
(you can see what I mean better on the left side)



K.  Top Right Shelf

Magnetic Memo Pads - these are also items that I have made and materials for making more

Magnets - these are laminated card magnets that I have made and also materials for making more





Bags - a box containing a variety of cellophane bags






L.  Second Right Shelf

Cards & Envelopes - these are ones for use with the kids in church



Greeting Cards - some cards that I had made previously




Black Roll-up Cases for Calligraphy Pens and Markers





M.  Third Right Shelf

Blue Expander Files  - sticker, paper embellishments, cards & envelopes
(I hope you like the labels.  I love to label things even if others laugh at me!)




Various Boxes of Special Themed Embellishments - ones that I have got for special scrapbooks I intend to make




N.  Cubby Holes

I keep some rulers, hole punches, long stapler, staples and odds and ends in these. 

This is the one area of the armoire which is under utilised and I should rethink it better.



P.  Fold Down Table Top

This is so handy as an extra workspace when sorting out things for our Sunday School and of course it is right beside where the paper cutter is kept! 




Q.  Bottom Right Shelf

Scrapbook Albums - these are ones I have bought over the last 5 years and intend to work on when I get some more time!!!!
(guess if you had frequented my blog before you will know how much I Love Arks)



Clear Plastic Box - a box for storing 12x12 scrapbook papers flat.






R.  Filing Drawer

This is the one part of the armoire which is not used for my crafts.

It still contains files for various things from over the years but may be changed later.



I do like to be able to open this armoire and see something that is properly organised

Now just need to get the rest of the things in the study organised like the bookcases, desk, printer unit etc.









Linking CUp with  METAMORPHIS MONDAY