Great Deal on a Laptop

If you have a student looking for a laptop for college, or if you have considered one for home use, here is a great deal from Amazon. We just bought our son the Toshiba model that’s just up from this one (and a little more expensive) otherwise I might have considered this one. You’ll get a $50 gift card to use on your next purchase from Amazon.
How to Take Advantage of the Promotion

 Add the Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5134 laptop for $391.73 (free shipping) and the $50 gift card to your cart. The gift card will be discounted at checkout.
 
Upon completion of the purchase, in accordance with the promotion, the gift card will be mailed to the physical address designated by you at checkout through your Amazon account. 
The promotion applies only to products sold by Amazon.com. It does not apply to the same products sold by other sellers. Offer good from June 20, 2011, until July 4, 2011, or while supplies last.

Facing the Day with Realistic Expectations

Do you have days where you just want to stay in bed and read a book? I do! Don’t worry, I’m not depressed. It’s just that sometimes, I lie there thinking about my to-do list for the day and I don’t want to face it. It’s overwhelming and I’d rather avoid it all.
This morning, I came back to my room to make the bed, and there was the book I’d read before forcing myself to climb out, and the light was still on…beckoning me to slip back beneath the covers. I resisted, and here I am, at my desk getting going on the list. I posted a guest blog last week about being paralyzed by expectations. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by what others expect from you, I encourage you to check out Kathy Carlton Willis’s I’m Living Out Loud blog. And be sure to read my guest post Paralyzed by Expectations.
Knowing God, Knowing Myself: An Invitation to Daily DiscoveryI’m tackling the list one thing at a time today and I’m trying to keep my expectations realistic. Oh, and that book I was reading this morning…Knowing God Knowing Myself by Cecil Murphey encouraged me too. In each chapter, he address one aphorism (succinct statements that express things he has learned or wants to learn). In one chapter, Cec talks about his to-do list and the aphorism of the day is “Today I have time to do everything I need to do today.” In other words, he reminds himself that he only needs to focus on today and not worry about what he can’t get done.
Thanks for the reminder, Cec. I needed that.

Transformation Tuesday- Window Sash Fireplace Screen

I stumbled upon this great project when I was browsing the internet, and I’m thinking this would be a great project for my faux fireplace. It’s great for a real fireplace too!
Diane, from In My Own Style has many wonderful trash to treasure transformations. She turned this window sash into a fabulous fireplace screen. She started with a plain window.
Photo belongs to Diane at In My Own Style
Then, she used shelf brackets to make it stand up. You’ll find the full and fantastically detailed tutorial on her blog post. She used mirror paint (which she shows in the tutorial) to make the glass reflective. Isn’t this great?!
Photo belongs to Diane at In My Own Style
 I think this might be a way to use some of the artwork I’ve made from old window sashes. Thanks for posting your great idea Diane!
Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

Muted Monday – Photo of the Week

Can you guess what this trivet is made of? It shouldn’t be too difficult if you look close. It’s a great T2T project!
Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

Yay! One of my readers won the prize!

Congratulations to Shannon for winning the grand prize drawing from author Laura Hilton. As promised, I drew names using Random#.org and sent the name of one commenter in for the grand prize drawing and Shannon’s name was drawn. She wins all this:
 
1 apple mug
1 apple scented candle in decorative tin
1 small packet of Starbucks coffee
Amish made rose petal soap
Beverly Lewis’ Amish Cookbook
Simple Joys of the Amish Life by Mindy Starns Clark
$5.00 McDonald’s Gift Card
Amish Popcorn
Autographed copy of Patchwork Dreams
Keep watching my review for other opportunities to enter drawings. You never know when your name might be drawn.

Transformation Tuedsay – Before and After Vanity

Last week, Jessica sent me some before and after pictures of a writing desk that she made over into a vanity for her bedroom. She found it at a yard sale for $5 and purchased paint for $14. Then she spruced it up even more with new knobs from Anthropologie for $24. Her grand total was $43 and it fit perfect with her budget for a vanity. Thanks Jessica for the reader mail! I love your project.

Now, the moment you’re all waiting for…the transformation.
Before:

And after:

I love those knobs! They add a lot of character. Here they are on the Anthropologie website Gardening Indoors Knob

Readers, if you’re doing a similar transformation on your furniture and you have an even smaller budget, you might be able to find a little bit of leftover paint in your basement from another project. And you might also find knobs at a salvage store. Sometimes, I live with the existing knobs on a piece until I spot the perfect ones on sale somewhere. Or, some of you may be crafty enough to make knobs using polymer clay and glass beads right over the old knobs.

Michelle

Trash to Treasure Decorating
View the full post at http://www.trashtotreasuredecorating.com

To The Parents of the Class of 2011

We have one more graduation party to attend today, so I thought I’d share with you the thoughts I posted in my monthly column in Wisconsin Christian News last month: 

My oldest son graduates this year and right now, our house is all graduation talk. Photos. Invitations. Parties. Cleaning for our open house. He’s trying to decide what to say in his speech. I’m trying to decide if we should have punch or lemonade. It’s a big event in his life and also my own. In each of his firsts, I’ve experienced my own first. Now, for the first time, I’m about to send one of my offspring out on his own.

At graduation, the speeches are directed towards the graduates, as they should be. However, as I face this first, I’d love to hear a veteran parent give an address to those of us who have a little anxiety about sending our kids out into the world. Something like this…

Parents of the graduating class of 2011, your work is never done, but this phase is. As you enter this transition, your new job is helping your graduate learn how to live as an adult. I know, some of you have counted down to this day, and have already hired a contractor to draw up plans for making Johnny’s bedroom into a home spa. In contrast, others of you would pack yourselves into Suzy’s suitcase when she leaves for college in the fall if you could. But somewhere, in your hearts all of you are probably wondering if you’ve raised a son or a daughter who is ready to face real life. You wonder if you did your job right.

Some of you just want a pat on the back that says well done. But others may hunger for a little more encouragement, something that eases your insecurity. High school hasn’t been a smooth ride for every teen. Kids don’t always behave the way we’d like them to, and some of you grieve over children who have rebelled against nearly every godly lesson you taught them. Some of you wish you could go back and re-do your parenting. You blame yourselves and harbor unwarranted guilt. Yes, as parents, we say and do things we regret. And we make decisions we later lament. However, no one has ever been a perfect parent. We all just do the best that we can with what we have learned.
 
If parenting a teen has been a challenge for you, I want you to have hope in knowing that God can redeem regret and even years wasted in rebellion.

God gives you an example of such redemption in the book of Joel. The people of Israel had lived in rebellion and experienced vast devastation by locusts because of their actions. But in Joel 2:25 God promised to restore the years the locusts ate, the energy wasted in backsliding and sin, and in his grace he would fully restore them. Soon, they would forget the heartache and rejoice, praising God for what he had done. Never underestimate the power of God to turn a life around and make you forget the pain of the past.

It’s okay to cry today, although, it isn’t pretty to blubber too much. Remember, there are cameras everywhere. You have reason to smile too, because you’ve worked hard to get your child to this point. If you had your own mortarboard, I’d beg you to throw it in celebration.

But what about that anxiety you have? Consider the promise in Isaiah 41:10 and imagine it had your son or daughter’s name filled in. “So do not fear, for I am with Sam; do not be dismayed, for I am Sam’s God. I will strengthen him and help him; I will uphold him with my righteous right hand.” Even though your son or daughter is likely leaving home soon, God is fully capable of upholding him or her in his hand.

Parents, your graduate will always need you. Continue to be a good example of active faith for your children. Show unconditional love, even if she changes college majors 4 times. Practice tough love when he begs to move home after he drops out one semester before college graduation and refuses to look for a job. Demonstrate grace when your child messes up and be straightforward about your own shortcomings.

God brought you to this moment, so give him all the glory he is due and thank him for all he has done and will do. Then, let’s eat cake.

Reprinted from the May 2011 issue of Wisconsin Christian News. (c) Michelle Rayburn. No part of this article may be reprinted or distributed without permission from Michelle. 

One More Amish Author to Consider

Last week, I told about a new Amish book I had just reviewed by Laura Hilton. Thanks for the great discussion about your favorite authors. Congrats to Shannon for getting her name picked to go to the final drawing for the gift basket. The winner of the grand prize will be drawn next week from all of the bloggers who submitted names. Good luck Shannon. I hope you win!
Plain Proposal (A Daughters of the Promise Novel)I’d like to tell you about another Amish fiction writer whose book I just finished. One comment from last week mentioned Beth Wiseman. I hadn’t read any of her books, although I know she’s popular, and now I know why. I really enjoyed “Plain Proposal“. Be sure to check out Beth’s website for how you can get updates from her blog, and from facebook.
Beth Wiseman is a master of showing, not telling. She knows how to draw the reader into the story and feel like a participant. As Miriam Raber’s story unfolds, the reader has many moments to assume he or she knows how the story will turn out, but it’s likely the reader will guess wrong. Right up until the last chapter, I didn’t know How Miriam and Saul would work out their situation. I’d tell what I thought was going to happen, but then I’d give away the ending. No spoilers here!
I’ve become a little burned out on Amish fiction lately, but I loved the way Beth Wiseman writes and I enjoyed this story. It’s clear she researches and in the story, she even points out some of the Pennsylvania Deitsch phrases that are commonly misused by “Englishers” who assume the Amish use them all the time. At last, a writer who avoids just copying what other Amish writers use! Instead, Beth consults her Amish friends for accuracy and is shows in her story.
The one thing I didn’t enjoy as much about the book was that it didn’t deviate far from the classic Amish story line of teens in rumschpringe who have to decide between remaining Amish or exploring the English world. Still, the author gave the story her own twists and made it a pleasant read.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys Amish fiction and even more, enjoys authors who write Amish fiction well. There are many authors popping up who write in this genre, but not all do it as well as Wiseman.
I received this book for review purposes from the Amazon Vine program. My reviews are objective and honest.

Book Review- The Fine Art of Insincerity

Have you ever hidden reality from your close friends? How about from your family? Sometimes, we can become so dysfunctional that we perfect the art of insincerity, even with those whom we ought to be able to trust with our feelings.
The Fine Art of Insincerity: A NovelIn the latest book from Angela Hunt, 3 sisters come together for a weekend to clean out their grandmother’s beachfront house. It sounds quaint, except they barely know one another outside of their bond of growing up in a troubled home. Following in the family tradition, Rose and Penny have had multiple marriages and both are restless again. In contrast, Ginger’s 27-year marriage is solid…or is it?
In The Fine Art of Insincerity, the sisters sort through their grandmother’s belongings, and each woman goes through her own emotional crisis, nor noticing how much her other sisters are hurting.  Gradually, the walls begin to break down.
This book deals with some heavy issues. A mother’s suicide, abortion, marriage, divorce, widowhood, family dysfunction, adultery, and much more. It’s an emotion-stirring story. I think readers will find themselves identifying with one of the three sisters. Ginger is the responsible one. Penny is the one in midlife crisis who dresses inappropriately and flirts with every man who comes around. Rose loves her dog to pieces, doesn’t realize just how much her husband loves her, and grieves over the children she’ll never have. If readers don’t relate to one of these three, surely the eccentric grandmother, a cheating husband, or a husband suspecting his wife of plotting to leave will stir some emotional connection.
Angela Hunt writes well and draws the reader into the story well. The one thing I found missing in this story is spiritual depth. Although each sister realizes her own flaws at some point, there isn’t a depiction of God’s grace. Other than Ginger being on staff at her church, there isn’t real spiritual depth here. There were several elements of the story that were morally wrong and characters didn’t arrive at a point where they acknowledge this. I think the story would have been much more powerful if this had been developed more.
I received this book from Glass Road Public Relations for review purposes. My opinions are my own and my reviews are objective and honest.