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Twenty-two-year-old Militine Scott is in training at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle, yet she has no intention of pursuing marriage. What respectable man would have her? But she has found the school provides the perfect opportunity to keep her unsavory past hidden.

Thane Patton, though fun-loving and fiercely loyal to his friends, hides a dark secret, as well. He finds himself drawn to Militine, sensing that she harbors a haunting pain similar to his own.

Will they allow God to make something new and beautiful from the debris of their past?

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Militine is hiding. Getting married is the last thing on her mind, but to stay safe, she takes refuge at theย  Madison Bridal School. And she’s not the only one dead set against marriage. Abrianna, “niece” of the owners of the school, has no intent to marry if she can help it.

As similar as their mindsets are about not marrying, their reasons couldn’t be more different. Militine can never trust; not even God. Plus, she needs to stay hidden, so no one learns about her past. Abrianna, on the other hand, is too busy doing God’s work to worry about making a marital match.ย  refiningfire

While the book description centers on Militine and Thane, this story is really about two very different couples: one couple struggles to find faith and each other; the other is busy working God’s plan together, and surprisingly has their feelings for each other revealed in a hodge-podged way.

Add in a splash of deception, human smuggling, and a fire, and you have the makings of a page turner! Tracie Peterson is an author I really enjoy. While this is the second book in the series, I hadn’t read the first book and didn’t need to.

5 out of 5 stars for this title. My only complaint is that the print edition has a wee tiny font, which made reading more time consuming and tedious than I prefer, due to old, tired eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚

I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers (www.bethanyhouse.com) for this review.

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In modern day England, Professor Felix Guichard is called in to identify occult symbols found on the corpse of a young girl. His investigation brings him in contact with a mysterious woman, Jackdaw Hammond, who guards a monumental secret–She’s Dead. Or she would be, were it not for magic which has artificially extended her life. But someone else knows her secret. Someone very old and very powerful, who won’t rest until they’ve taken the magic that keeps her alive….

In Krakow in 1585, Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan Alchemist and Occultist, and his assistant Edward Kelley have been summoned by the King of Poland to save the life of his niece, the infamous Countess Elisabeth Bathory. But they soon realize that the only thing worse than the Countess’ malady, is the magic that might be able to save her…
As Jackdaw and Felix race to uncover the truth about the person hunting her, it becomes clear that the answers they seek can only be found in the ancient diary of John Dee’s assistant, Edward Kelley. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying.

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Two stories; one problem.ย  As Jackdraw and Felix race to solve their problem and save a second teen, so did Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley race as well, to save their lives whilst not falling prey to the evil magic surrounding the Countess.ย  thesecretsoflifeanddeath

It doesn’t take long to understand that a “borrowed timer” is essentially a vampire. And, if you’ve had your ear to the historical ground, you might have actually heard of the **Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Jack and Felix race against not only time to protect Sadie from two sets of threats, but also struggle to help Sadie understand what she is and what she must do to stay alive-ish. Jack struggles to trust Felix; Felix seeks understanding.

Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley struggle to save the Countess, despite the releasing of the evil needed to do so, as well as protect their own lives. If the Countess dies; so too, will they lose their lives. If the Countess lives……..

I think this is the first I’ve read by this author. Initially off to a slow start, the connection between the two stories wasn’t readily apparent for a bit. For the first bit, I found myself thinking, “Get to it already!”ย Once it got going though, whew!

5 out of 5 stars for this one. I especially love the historical element to this book. The author shares a bit of the actual history at the conclusion, which I appreciate.

I received this book for free from WaterBrookย Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

**The Countess is known as the most prolific female serial killer. The official record stands at 80 victims, as the witness’ recorded total of 650 victims could not be authenticated. Yes, this is the lady who killed and then allegedly bathed in the girls’ virginal blood. She was eventually tried, and walled up in her castle with small slots for ventilation and food. It took her 4 years to die in this solitary confinement. Her 4 other cohorts were summarily punished: 2 burned at the stake after having their fingers ripped off by hot pincers; 1 beheaded and body burned; the last one was imprisoned for life. She was later known as the ‘Lady Dracula’.

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*sigh*

You may remember my most recent running shoe conundrum….. if you can’t bring yourself to read the blather, here’s the nutshell: My Vibram Five Finger Bikilas got a hole, and it was time to replace. I hemmed and hawed, eventually getting two new pairs; the See Ya Lses and the KMD Sport Lses.

Back in March, I had posted that the See Ya Lses were not wearing as well as I hoped, and to stay tuned. So. Here we are. :/

Much to my dismay, I have had to change to my backup pair after only 500ish miles. I’m disappointed. I was only about 100 miles in when, after washing, one of the toe pockets was sporting a small tear. As time progressed, the hole got bigger. But I still ran.

My last visit to Hunny, I seriously debated about whether or not to take my backup pair, leaning heavily to leaving them home. Boy, was I glad I took them! I don’t know if it was a combo of the hilly terrain and temperature, or just the high road heat, but they are trashed. My last day, the one toe was all bruised, not to mention black from the road grime. BOOOOO! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Since I had to retire the See Ya Lses, I’ve moved into the KMD Sport Lses. It’s a heavier shoe, which I could do without. But if it wears better, it might end up being ok. I’m hoping the toe pockets will stretch a wee bit, because a few toes hit the end more than I’d like.

Anyhow. That’s that, and now I know.

Bottom line= ok if you don’t mind replacing your shoes earlier than you want to. Lightweight= yes. Durable= not really. Would I buy again= probably not. I find myself really wishing they hadn’t changed the Bikilas…… meh.

At least Queen rocks on {even though Freddie can never be replaced!}!

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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away {like Washington state; the opposite side of the country from where I actually live} an old lady went to visit her hunky muffin {don’t tell him I called him that!} who was working far away. This was not the first time the old lady had gone to visit, as she was lonely without the man she conned into marrying her over 20 years ago…….

When the old lady goes to visit, she takes 3 necessities with her: her magic slippers, her magic portal she lovingly named Kindle Fire, and her magic makers and accessories. Although, to be fair, this time she was traveling light, and dragged her man hither and yon until she found what she had in mind.

Ok, no, really, she found the magic threads first, and then her plan was borne.

Whatever.

Anyhow. The old lady worked day and night; night and day, until lo, the fruits of her labor were realized. Thrilled beyond measure, she did the unthinkable.

She posted a selfie onto Facebook. ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

Poked and prodded by he-who-shall-remain-nameless {you know who you are! ๐Ÿ˜‰ } to smile, the old lady posted several such “selfies,” much to the utter chagrin of her eldest girl child.

“This day,” she declared, “I am ruined! My mother hath posted the selfie, and lo, I am much a ruined! My life is over! Wahhhhhhh!!!!! “ she wailed.

 

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True story, that. ๐Ÿ˜†

I had flown out to visit Hunny, determined to travel light. And then we went to Walmart. I forget what we were even looking for, but if you know Hunny, it has to be to the pain of death before he’ll go in that place. Somehow, I managed to get him to go in. And then I found the only other thing outside of chickens {and maybe ducks and guineas} that sets my heart all a fluttering and raises my heart rate; quickening in anticipation-YARN!!!!!!!

I am a total yarnie. Hopelessly addicted. My stash is all over the place; some unpacked in the totes; some still packed and somewhere upstairs. I just stole one of my youngest daughter’s organization cubes last week. I moved it into my bedroom and filled it with my working yarn- projects I have lined up right now. I was tired of the piles of bags, so this is much easier.ย  yarn2

But I digress.

Anyhow, we were in Walmart, and I found the reflective yarn I had been looking for but was unable to find! I seriously squeeeeed!

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What on earth would I need with reflective yarn? Well, winter was coming. That means running in the cold. And that means a need for warm running gear, like hats and arm warmers and things.ย  So, I got my yarn, found my patterns {yes, the frustrated hunt for circular patterns again}, and got to work.

The first thing I did was make my standard ear warmer. Toasty; cute; super easy.ย  There are lots of times when you want your ears to stay warm but it’s not cold enough for a hat. The bonus is that, like a hat, the ear warmer also keeps the sweat out of your eyes. earwarmer1

Next, I knew it was time for arm warmers. When I run, I like to layer, so that as I get hot, I can take the layers off as I need to. Again, my biggest issue was finding a circular pattern. You’d think it would be no big deal, but sheesh! Frustrating!

I did finally manage to find what I was looking for. I did not want a thumbed arm warmer pattern. I like to easily be able to slip my thumbs out once I start getting warm, and having the knit thumb would be just too much. The slouchable knitted arm warmers were just the ticket, and pretty easy to make.

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If memory serves, I went for the hat next. Oh, nope, it was the cowl. I found a spiral cowl that I really liked. I am not 100% sure this is the pattern, but it’s the only spiral cowl I have saved, so I assume it is.ย  One thing to note is that it’s not unusual for me to tweak a pattern. In this case, I had left my interchangeable circular set at home, so I was using what I had on hand, as opposed to what the pattern called for. And then I made it length I wanted it to be.cowl

Another easy project. I packed it in my saddle bag on the last fall ride, and I’ll tell you, it saved my butt. Had it not been for the cowl, I would have spent the entire ride shivering.

Finally, it was time to make the hat. By this time, I had gotten home and knew I’d need one sooner than later. My Leisure Arts Hats & More book came in handy again. This was the Reversible Cable Duo hat. Toasty!

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I’ll spare you the selfie. You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€

I will, however, try once again to ruin my daughter’s life by putting pictures of her in her Halloween costume, “Mother Running Down the Road in the Morning,” here for all of y’all to see. You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€

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While I adore the reflective yarn, bear in mind those reflective fibers are not what I would call soft. There’s a whole line of reflective colors to choose from, but I kept it simple and mixed some non-reflective Day Glo yarn, even though they were different weights. It’s very cool stuff!

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Or winter of the hat, at any rate. Fast forward a year, and most of the ear warmers have gone missing by the time we wanted to wear them. Since I knew they’d get found at some point {and I think they all did get found eventually}, I was loath to make another set of them, even though they were ridiculously fast and easy to make.

This time, I decided to go for hats. I got frustrated looking, to be honest. Yes, I’m on Ravelry, but man, is that place a serious time sucker! I like to try to search the old-fashioned way to start, before I give up, dig around there, get frustrated some more, and then head back to the WWW. *sigh* My primary point of frustration was finding a really cute pattern, only to discover that it was a flat knit and then needed to be sewn up the back.

Honestly, that should be take-you-to-jail illegal. It’s just so unnecessary! {This is why I love Devin, even though she moved from WP to that-site-that-shall-remain-nameless…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ – she converts the patterns so you can choose!} It makes me want to pull my hair out!

It took me a while, but I did manage to find a really cute pattern for the younger girls. This is called the Sweetie Pie hat.

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Next, it was time to make my oldest daughter a hat. At some point, I actually bought a book {gasp!} called Hats & More. It’s a Leisure Arts title from the Best of Knitting series.

 

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We found it while browsing for yarn and stuff and thought it would be fun. This was another really fast hat to make. Because she’s a girl, she wants another hat in the pattern I used for the younger girls. ๐Ÿ˜† Go figure.

I made our good friend and hay-mover extraordinaire, M, a beanie. Because he helps shuttle hay in the snow and in the rain without complaining, I figured the least I could do was make him something to cover his head. I have no idea where I found the pattern, but it might have come from one of the other books I have on hand.

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Another circular, super, super easy pattern. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. It’s not my fault. Really, it’s not.

It all started last year, when hunting season was approaching. As you know, we have horses. And we like to ride them.

But I was worried about getting shot during hunting season. Truly, I was worried about us outside during hunting season, hunting for eggs and generally doodling around out there, seeing as we’re surrounded by fields and woods.

So, it seemed logical to me to make sure we were all wearing something orange. And, it was getting cold. But not cold enough for a full hat.

Thus, the idea for ear warmers was born. Because I have a house full of girls, it also made sense that we each have different colors to keep them apart.

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These were really fast and easy to make. In the event you are thinking you want to try these, you can find them here. What I really like about Devin’s patterns is that she usually has them in both flat and circular. I am not a fan of knitting something flat when it can be done on circular needles. That’s my two cents, anyhow. More yarn stuff on the way!

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2014


Alrighty then. Clearly, I’ve been slacking. It seems the combination of farm life and absent Hunny kills my motivation for writing. Here’s my lame attempt to get sort of caught up….

My mileage stunk for last year. I was trying to bribe myself to finish the painting before I allowed myself to run. {snort) At some point, I said, “Screw it!”

Last year, I only managed to run 332.21 miles. Seeing at I’m already at 108 and some change for this year {which is still sort of dismal} you can see that running was more or less ‘meh’ last year.

And I was dealing with some leg issues. Seemed like I’d get over one sore spot and find I had another. I finally broke down and got some compression calf sleeves, which really seems to have been a huge help. Hopefully, I can ditch them completely before summer hits, because I HATE HEAT.

You may remember that I logged over 1,400 miles on my previous pair of VFFs and had to get a new pair. I’ve gotten just over 304 miles on the new pair, and they are not wearing nearly as well as my others.

While I have the spare pair, they are heavier. Heading into the heat of the summer leaves me wondering if the See Ya Lses will get me through so I don’t have to wear the others when it’s hot. We’ll see. I’d really rather not have to order another new pair, seeing as the Vibram website got hacked and my information was compromised. {Yes, I know there are other places to buy them; I just always start there- and they were on sale!}

Not only are the soles starting to wear, but several months ago, one of the toes got a small hole in between the toes. I don’t think these are nearly as well made as the Bikilas. If they ever go back to the original sole {and not the beefed up one for transitioning folks}, I would be inclined to buy the Bikilas again.


Did I mention I had to get new ear buds? AGAIN?! If memory serves, this was right around the time I had to get new shoes, so that piece of stunning news might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Anyhow. You know I’m seriously picky about what goes in my ears when I run…… I was nearly distraught when I discovered they no longer were offering my Nike Vapor ear buds. I nearly gave up running. *sigh*

But, because I am a trooper and decided I needed to deal with this horrible, life-altering news, I bit the bullet and got myself a pair of YurBuds. Because I was a former behind-the-ear fan, I got the ones that go behind the ear. You are shocked, I know.ย  focus-100-for-women

Did you see that ^^^^^ there? You know, that part where I said a FORMER fan? What changed my mind?

The YurBuds. I hate the over-the-ear model. HATE. THEM.

Sure, they swivel. But they also come completely apart. And trying to get them in and over the ear without popping them off requires a mirror and tweaking, etc. Seriously? I want to put them in and GO.

What I have discovered, however, is that I don’t need the over-the-ear feature. Nope. I don’t. YurBuds actually stay in the ear like they are supposed to, so the next pair will not have that boat anchor feature. Besides that issue and the one ear piece cover trying to come off all the time, I am actually quite impressed with them. They are ok. And they actually don’t fall out, which is good.

Fortunately, I don’t need to use them a whole lot, courtesy of my new treadmill, which has an mp3 port. My old one finally died after almost 20 years and thousands of miles. Given how much it rains here and that summer is coming {eventually}, I knew it was time to pony up and make that investment. I don’t have a non-blurry picture of this stunning piece of equipment, but I found a good NordicTrac with the same size motor as my old one. Motor size does matter, kids. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Lest you think all I’ve been doing while non-writing has been avoiding painting and running, I will let you know right now, mister, that I HAVE NOT. Well, ok, I have been avoiding painting. BUT. I’ve done a lot of knitting. And, I have more peeps. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, let’s recap. Running in 2014 was pretty sucky. Not a total loss, but this year will be better in that regard. Unless my man comes home, it will likely be as stressful. I am not a good single parent, I’ll tell you. But running will be better, and darn it, there really is stuff outside that has to get painted soon, nevermind everything inside……. stay tuned. Or don’t. ๐Ÿ˜†

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