Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GeospacePlay Jumparoo Boing! JR Pogo Stick Review

It takes a lot of concentration to pogo.
We received a GeospacePlay Jumparoo Boing! JR Pogo Stick free to facilitate this review.

I try to have lots of options for my kids to stay active and busy especially in the summer when the weather is nice and they can get their wiggles out outside. We all love the outdoors! Summer is a blur of camping trips, hiking, biking, playing water sports, building outdoor forts, gardening, etc. We visit a lot of parks, fairs, festivals, zoos, museums, etc. during the summer. When we are home my kids get bored easily, but I try to keep it fun with a variety of activities they can always turn to when they can't think of something else.

GeospacePlay has a bunch of cool toys that were engineered to be awesome and just for kids. They have flying toys, sports and active play, remote control, water toys, novelty and more. They have: foam rockets, water rockets, water cannons, stilts, pogo sticks, hopper balls and LED jump ropes, just to name a few of their neat looking toys. These are all great for summer vacation gifts to keep your kids active and make summer a blast!

We just received the new GeospacePlay Jumparoo BOING! JR Pogo Stick and it is a great outdoor activity for smaller kids. It is just the right size for my son Jaedan at the moment, although I'm sure he will grow out of it soon and then it will be handed down to his sisters. It is sized shorter for smaller kids from 40-80 lbs. This pogo stick is perfect for smaller children and beginners. It bounces up to 24" with practice. Like the entire Geospace family of BOING! Pogos, the rugged metal spring is completely encased within a steel housing for safety. This pogo stick has comfortable foam grips on a T-handle and rugged rubber type non-slip tip and non-slip foot rests. Ages 4 & Up. Dimensions: 37 x 10.25 x 2.75

You can also use this pogo stick with their 99 cent app called Boing-O-Meter for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It measures max air time, scores how many bounces, and shares with friends.

This was our very first pogo stick for the kids and my oldest, Delbin, was a bit jealous because he has been wanting one for a while now and is too big for this particular one. Jaedan has had a lot of fun on this pogo stick and loves to take it out on the pavement to bounce. I made a short video of him bouncing on it :)

Here, see it in action...

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Calbee Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps and Lentil Snaps Review

 We received a package of each flavor of Harvest Snaps free to facilitate this review.

When my lovely daughter Tatiana was still with us she loved to eat salty snacks. In fact salty snacks were one of only a small handful of items she would eat. She had a condition called Diabetes Insipidus a.k.a. Water Diabetes, among other things. This condition made her crave salty things. We would try to find things that she would eat that were also moderately healthy and one of the items she loved was Calbee's Snapea Crisps. She just couldn't get enough of them. I can just hear her cute little voice saying, "more!", and see her red ringlets dancing around her big blue eyed grin.

Fast forward to now and Calbee has re-branded to include more of a variety with the name Harvest Snaps and along with peas they now also offer lentils. The packaging has also gotten a makeover. These baked, not fried, salty snacks are better for you than a lot of other salty snacks out there and they now come in 6 delicious flavors! These are sourced from US & Canadian farms and are made with non-GMO Canola/Sunflower oil. Made of 70% pea, the Snapea Crisps have 4 varieties: Lightly Salted, Caesar, Black Pepper and Wasabi Ranch. Made of 65% lentil bean, the Lentil Snaps have a total of two flavors: Tomato Basil and Onion Thyme.

Compared to regular potato chips these have:
  • less fat and sodium
  • higher levels of protein and fiber
  • gluten-free (Harvest Snaps are made in a facility that also manufactures products containing wheat, milk, soy, shrimp and fish.)
  • lower glycemic index
  • more vitamin B
I love that these are super crunchy and guilt-free. My favorite of the Snapea Crisps are the original Caesar flavor and the new Wasabi Ranch! I also love both Lentil Snaps. I hope they come out with more flavors! These are so yummy and sooooooooooooo addictive. My husband's favorite was the Black Pepper and the Wasabi Ranch ones. My kids loved all of them, but seemed to like the Black Pepper one the least. They are a bit greasy too and the salt sticks to your fingers when you eat them, so have a napkin nearby. This salty, crunchy snack definitely satisfies my munchies. These make an great addition to lunch boxes and after school snacks! They are also wonderful thrown in a salad for an extra crunch or dipped in dressing or plain yogurt.

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DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weight Watchers Smart Ones Fajitas Meals Review

We received 3 Weight Watchers Smart Ones Fajitas Meals free to facilitate this review.

The Smart Ones Weight Watcher meals have the PointsPlus values right on the packaging so it is easy to know what to watch for. With the PointsPlus program you are encouraged to use those points wisely by maximizing your point allowance. By eating more foods rich in protein and fiber like whole grains and lean meats you will feel full faster and still have all the healthy benefits of a nutritious meal. You are also encouraged to eat more fruit and non starchy veggies. These are low in calories and high in nutrients.

The Principals of Weight Watchers: 
  1. Portion control so you can eat the foods you love.
  2. Don't skip breakfast! It will start your day out right and manage hunger.
  3. Eat a variety of protein rich foods.
  4. Whole grains, fruits, and non starchy veggies can help you stay full longer.
  5. Choose smarter snack and dessert choices.
  6. Have support and knowledge at your fingertips.
I received 3 different Weight Watchers Smart Ones Fajitas: Chicken, Steak and Portobello Mushroom. I wasn't sure how to prepare the Portobello Mushroom one because it had a blank box with a sticker on the side that said what it was and the ingredients, but not the other information. I looked at the other two boxes and they had the exact same preparation on them, so I figured I would also follow these instructions for the Portobello Mushroom ones. These are microwaved meals and the directions were very easy to follow. You even cook the tortillas for 25 seconds to get them warm and yummy to wrap the meat and veggies in. One of these is supposed to be a portion controlled meal. If I just ate one of these meals I would not feel full. I cooked all of them and shared them each with my husband so that I could taste them side by side and see which I liked the best. All of these I think need more tortillas with them because I ran out of tortillas and had to eat the rest with a fork. These were also all very drippy, bring napkins.

The Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chicken Fajitas were the best tasting in my opinion. I loved the grilled chicken flavor. These have grilled white meat chicken with seasoned peppers & onions and a side of rice and beans. Two tortillas are included. This one has 290 calories, 5g fat, 5g fiber, and 16g protein. It is a 7 PointsPlus value.

The Weight Watchers Smart Ones Portobello Mushroom Fajitas turned out too runny in my opinion and weren't cooked all the way through. The juices didn't get properly soaked up in the mix. I zapped them in the microwave for a minute longer and then the veggies, mushrooms rice and beans looked better. The mix was a little tasteless and could have used some extra spices. These have Portobello mushrooms, bell peppers. onions, black beans and corn served with rice and beans. Two tortillas are included. This one has 300 calories, 5g fat, 7g fiber, and 10g of protein. It is a 7 PointsPlus value.

The Weight Watchers Smart Ones Steak Fajitas were really yummy, but I would have liked more steak with the meal. These have beef steak with seasoned peppers & onions and a side of rice and beans. Two tortillas are included. This one has 300 calories, 7g fat, 5g fiber, and 16g of protein. It is a 8 PointsPlus value.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Broken Circle: Yarns of The Knitting Witches (Potluck Yarn Trilogy, Book One) and Pattern Book Review

I at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon
We received these books free to facilitate this review. There is also affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Sometimes I come across (or rather it finds me) a great book that combines a few things I love together. In this instance it is my love of yarn, knitting and fantasy that has been intertwined. I have recently been learning to knit because I love to make beautiful things and fiber art of all kinds fascinates me. I also love the fantasy world and find myself there a lot with a good book, movie, or fair/festival.


The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches Book One of the Potluck Yarn Trilogy hit the stores June 3rd. This novel weaves together knitting and fiber arts with fantasy. It is about these knitting witches that are trying to save their world from evils. They are trying to bring their circle of 12 witches together again after 20 years of living their own lives scattered from the flock. Summoned by the Potluck Queen, Aubergine, their journey is a long, difficult one fraught with danger. The yarns they brew are fused with enchanted colored crystals and made into things that have different magical powers, but magic has been outlawed in their land. They need to stay on guard being aware of the possibility of being caught using their magics and thrown into Burnt Holes, the place where it is said there is no return from. They also have other things to contend with while trying to get their circle back together: a traitor (once one of their own) that has broken away and has her own plans for the other 11, a lost crystal, and a war between the men of the Northlands and Southlands. Some of the original 12 won't make it back to the fold, but there will also be newcomers that play their own parts in the plot as well.

This is a fantastical story with wonderful twists and turns. It is very well written and not at all boring. I love how the story unfolds and flows like the colored freshnet rivers, lakes, and streams of the Northland Glacier. On the cover and throughout the book are wonderful illustrations by artist Frank Riccio. At the end of each chapter a knitted item is briefly mentioned with a website to purchase the individual patterns for each. The author, Cheryl Potter, creates a complete new world of extraordinary characters and creatures that come to life through the grand pictures she paints with the words within the pages of the book. The main characters are women who each have their own complex backgrounds. They all have their own flaws and strengths. Some I could relate to better than others, but they all play a necessary part in the saga that develops. The ending I had foreseen before it happened, but because of a cliff hanger it leaves you wanting more.

In my opinion, this book is worthy of being compared to classics like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia or to more recent tiles like Harry Potter. I am excited to read the second book of the series now that I have read the first, cover to cover. I would also love it if this series gets a large following and becomes epic movie trilogy as well. It is a very good read that both knitters and fantasy readers will love. You do not have to be a knitter to enjoy this book.

The Broken Circle: Knitting Patterns inspired by Book One of the Potluck Yarn Trilogy, is a companion book of featured patterns to knit that are mentioned in the chapter book. These patterns are similar to ones that the characters wear in the story, There are patterns for a: cowl, cloak, hat, socks, scarf, mitts, etc. I might have to learn how to read patterns better just so that I can make some of the gorgeous things in this booklet. This booklet has very lovely full color photographs and charts to help with the making of the garments. It also has a wonderful map of The Middlelands in the front with the Introduction. For each pattern a paragraph or so from the chapter book and detailed description with skill level, size, finished measurements, materials, and gauge accompanies the pattern.

I just was a little disappointed that it says there are 21 total patterns when there are really only 20. It mentions the last pattern on the back of the cover, but says you need to sign up for the Potluck Yarn newsletter and participate in a Knit Along (KAL) in order to receive the last pattern and I am fairly certain once you do the pattern still costs extra. When I went digging on the Potluck Yarn website I found this description they give of the missing pattern, "The Fire and Ice Shawl is the transition piece between Companion Pattern Book One and Companion Pattern Book Two."

Download a free Book 1 Student Workbook to go along with the book. This is especially awesome for teachers and homeschoolers!

Be Social:
Fan Potluck Yarn on Facebook
Follow Knitting Witches on Twitter
Add to Ravelry

Purchase The Broken Circle: Yarns of The Knitting Witches (Potluck Yarn Trilogy, Book One) on Amazon for $15.99 and the Pattern Book for $16.99 (cheaper for Amazon Prime users).

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review. There is also affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Farm Home

Our Farm Home.
We recently purchased a farm property with 2 houses, a barn, a chicken coop/shed, and a lean-to. These were built in the 1920's and have a cute cottage look to them. There is also a tiny building that houses the well on the side of our property. They sit on 5 and a half acres and are nestled in between a gorgeous canopy of trees.

The pasture, large barn, mailbox, chicken coop/shed, well house, and wagon wheel gate.
My favorite structure on the property is the barn. It is a large barn that was used previously for cows and loose hay. I also love the gorgeous wagon wheel gate to the larger pasture and the large mailbox.

The many flora of the farm.
Along with the shade of many trees (walnut, apple, pear, cedar, pine, mock orange, lilac, magnolia, smoke, tulip popular, etc.) there are other flora as well. There are rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, columbine, clover, dandelion, lilacs, daffodils, peonies, violets, ferns, yucca, wildflowers, etc. There is also a lovely grape vine loaded with it green grape leaves right now. We made grape juice from the harvest last year as well as dried pears and apples from the fruit we picked. My daughters planted a petunia in the front flower bed and I have since planted a fuchsia there also. We are planning on growing more fruit trees and having a large edible garden too. We want to keep the property park like.

The mini pony, horses, wild deer, bunnies, and a frog Jaedan is holding.
We would love to own chickens, quail, a goat, and maybe a llama or alpaca someday very soon. We also keep two bunnies and some bees. Right now we rent pasture to three amazing horses. They are so sweet! The large spotted Appaloosa gelding is named Blueberry and he loves me. He comes up to me and nuzzles up against me. He was in my picture for my Renaissance Fair costume review. Then there is a gorgeous Cremello filly named Skittles that looks so much like a unicorn it is otherworldly. Last but not least is a Palomino mare named Dreamer. She is a bit shy, and loves to stand out in the rain. Our mini Shetland pony, Gizmo, is there as well, but since he is a stallion he is in his own separate paddock. We occasionally see other wildlife: deer, owls, bats, cranes, osprey, hawks, eagles, squirrels, birds, skunk, raccoon, lizards, snakes, frogs, etc.

Our plan is to become more sustainable and live in harmony with our surroundings. This is the first time we've owned a farm. We are learning as we go about being farm folk. I am planning on doing a lot more posts about our critters and farm life. Stay tuned and I'll try and keep you posted.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rawlings Vertical Sports Organizer Review and Giveaway

We received a Vertical Sports Organizer from Rawlings free to facilitate this review and one to also giveaway to one lucky reader.

Rawlings is the leader in baseball and football equipment. They produce gloves, bats, helmets, protective gear, baseballs, bags, apparel, footballs, etc. They also make organizers to put your sports equipment into.

My boys love to play sports. They are fans of the cooperation, camaraderie of playing with the team, learning good sportsmanship, and gaining lasting friendships. We have ended up with a lot of random outdoor sporting gear and really didn't have a good way of storing it. We were asked to review and giveaway a Rawlings Vertical Sports Organizer and it helped us with our organization.

The Rawlings Vertical Sports Organizer is great for bats, balls, sticks, gloves, helmets and more. Holds up to 6 bats and a total of 25 lbs. It comes with 6 hanging screws, 3 cinches and 2 helmet hooks. The ball caddy of this organizer is especially great for baseballs, tennis balls and lacrosse balls. The cinches are great to cinch up longer items so the won't fall over while being stored. With the helmet hooks you can easily hang stuff from the organizer. The two mesh pockets that are above the long handled storage and ball caddy you can put any other outdoor toys that will fit. These are made of mildew and abrasion-resistant durable vinyl and mesh, making them perfect for the garage, shed, basement or closets. Actual product size 18" wide X 48" high X 9" deep.

I put my sons' knee and elbow pads, Frisbee, Nerf football, bad-mitten set, jump rope, horseshoe set, a tent frame, base ball, base ball mitt, etc. in it. We enjoyed filling it after it was installed on the wall and it made the clutter of some of their equipment go away. It comes with clear installation instructions. We decided to put it outside on the garage because the product has a California Proposition 65 warning that it contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. I do not want this product inside my home knowing that information. I also told my boys to wash their hands well after touching it.

Prize: 1 winner will win a Rawlings Vertical Sports Organizer for their very own.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review and one to also giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chewy.com True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts Chicken Tenders Dog Treats and Beef Bully Stick Dog Chew Review

We received a 4-oz bag of the True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts Chicken Dog Treats and a 6 in. True Chews Beef Bully Stick Dog Chew from Chewy.com free to facilitate this review.

Chewy.com is a great place to find items for your dog or cat. They have a great selection of food and treats, bowls and feeders, health and wellness products, flea & tick products, toys, cleaning and potty training products, grooming products, leashes and collars; beds, crates and gear, litter, etc. They conveniently ship 200+ brands of pet food and other stuff direct to your doorstep, anytime of the day. They have competitive prices and offer free shipping on any order of $49 or more. They have 24/7 customer service, just call and ask your question(s). Through their referral program, customers receive a discount on their next order and Chewy.com donates $10 to Best Friends Animal Society.

True Chews are 100% natural dog chews and treats. They contain no fillers and are rawhide-free. All are made in the USA in Independence, Iowa.

The True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts Dog Treats are made with real chicken and contain no artificial flavors in addition to the above items. These are a great source of protein. Prince really loved the tender, chewy smoked jerky flavor. They have a yummy aroma that dogs love. They are a good size jerky treat and the bag has recommended daily treat chart for different sized dogs. They are easy to tear for treating convenience and come in a convenient re-sealable bag for locking freshness in. For Prince, since he is a large dog and is over 50 lbs, they recommended 4 treats daily. I only gave him 1 per day when he was behaving because I wanted them to last longer and he really loved them.

The True Chews Beef Bully Stick Dog Chews are slow-roasted to lock in natural smoke flavor and chewiness. If your pooch has problems with rawhide these are great alternative chews for your dog. These are also great for dental care because chewing will help scrape the tarter and plaque off the teeth and helps toughen gums so your dog will have a prettier, whiter smile too. Prince loved this chew stick and it kept him occupied and happy for hours.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welmedix SunBurnt and FirstDegree Sunburn and Burn Remedies for Summer Review

I received these products for free to facilitate this review.

The summer season means lots of family fun with: BBQ’s, fireworks, going to the beach, vacations, outdoor sports, outdoor activities and more time at home with family and friends. With all of the festivities, little ouches also come with the territory, such as cuts, scrapes, sunburns and the common household burn. We all should know that we need to wear sunscreen before going outside, especially in the hot summer days. Sometimes though we forget or the day doesn't go as planned. If you've ever gotten a bad sunburn you know that it doesn't feel very good. It hurts and you really need something to sooth the skin and make it feel better.

Welmedix has made two homeopathic products: SunBurnt after sun gel and FirstDegree burn cream that are great for sunburns and minor burns. These products are great for use this summer and throughout the year. These are essential for families to have in their first aid kits at home and on the go. I am so glad to have them in my first aid kit so that I can treat my family's minor burns that can occur and make sure my family is well taken care of. I certainly like to be prepared.

SunBurnt is an after sun gel that is great first aid for sun burns. It temporarily relieves symptoms of mild to moderate sunburn. Great for burning, redness, stinging, rawness, itching, dryness left after a sunburn. It helps reduce skin peeling, soothes and hydrates skin and cools overheated skin. It has Aloe, Calendula, Echinacea and other ingredients to help burns, sunburns, skin itching, burning, and dryness. It goes on as a clear gel and is Lidocaine free.

FirstDegree is a burn cream that is great first aid for minor burns. It aids in the healing of minor epidermal burns and temporarily relieves associated symptoms like: rawness, itching, minor infection. It has Aloe, Calendula, Echinacea and other ingredients to help wound healing, reduce the appearance of scars, soothes pain, cools the burn and/or scald, and antiseptic to prevent infection. Great for burns from stovetop/oven, grill, curling iron, clothing iron, tools/auto. It goes on as a cream and has Shea Butter in it to make it creamier. A portion of the proceeds from buying this product go to providing care to victims of critical burns.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

AMF Summer Unplugged Free Bowling for Kids

What are your favorite summer activities to stave off boredom?  I don't know about you, but I really never thought bowling would be one of my choices. My family loves to go bowling though. It is a great activity with kids. Especially great because it gets you out of the hot sun. My family doesn't bowl too well, but it still is all in good fun and we play to have fun not compete. Although we could always use free advice on how to bowl better if you have any tips :)

We wish that AMF was closer to us, because we have to go to Portland to participate in this promotion, but I wanted to get it out there to my readers because I am sure that you would want to know about this!

You can sign up for free bowling for kids all summer long! Kids registered in the AMF Summer Unplugged program can bowl two games per day, every day, all summer long from open until 8pm!* (*Based on lane availability, Shoe rental not included.)

Who says a summer break is just for kids? Now you can get in on the fun as well. An AMF Summer Pass is just $34.95 and includes two games per day for you and up to three guests ages 16 and up, from open until 8pm.* (*Based on lane availability, Shoe rental not included.)

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated in this post are my own.

A Wedding for Julia by Vannetta Chapman FWCT Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.


Julia Beechy’s dream of opening a café is shattered when her mother says she must marry or move to live with distant family upon her mother’s imminent death. Caleb Zook thought he would never marry, but can he help this beautiful, sad woman? Is this God’s plan for his future?

Product Details:
List Price: $8.79
Publisher Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2013)
Language English
ISBN-10 0736946160
ISBN-13 978-0736946162



Pebble Creek, Wisconsin


Julia Beechy stood next to the open grave and prayed the wind would stop howling for one moment. Next to her, she could feel her mother trembling. Ada Beechy had turned seventy-eight the previous week, two days before Julia’s father had passed. It would have been perfectly acceptable for her mother to sit, especially in light of the mist, the cold, and the wind.

Ada Beechy had no intention of sitting.

But Julia did shuffle one step closer to her mother, so that their sleeves were touching, as the bishop began to read the words to the hymn Ada had requested—“Where the Roses Never Fade.” Ada had stared out the window of their kitchen, her attention completely focused on the rosebushes, which had yet to bud, while members from their church sat beside Jonathan’s body in the next room. She’d gazed at the bushes and made her request.

Bishop Atlee had nodded, ran his fingers through his beard, and said, “Of course.”

Julia tried to focus on the bishop’s words as the men—the pallbearers—covered the plain coffin with dirt. How many shovelfuls would it take? Would Bishop Atlee have to read the hymn twice? Why was she worrying about such things?

David King stepped back, and Julia realized they were finished. Bishop Atlee bowed his head, signaling it was time for them to silently pray the words from the passage in Matthew, chapter six, verses nine through thirteen—their Lord’s prayer. Julia’s mind formed the words, but her heart remained numb.

“Amen,” Bishop Atlee said, in a voice as gentle as her mother’s hand on her arm.

The large crowd began to move. Words of comfort flowed over and around her. There had been a steady coming and going of people through the house to view her father’s body for the entire three days. Julia had become used to her privacy as she cared for her parents alone. The large amounts of food and the people had surprised her. Some of them she saw at church, but others came from neighboring districts. Those she barely knew.

She and Ada turned to go, for their buggy was marked with a number one on the side. The white chalk against the black buggy caused Julia’s heart to twist. They had led the procession to the cemetery. They would lead the gathering of friends away from the graveside.

But Julia realized she wasn’t ready to leave.

She pulled back, needing to look one more time. Needing to swipe at her tears so she could read the words clearly.

Jonathan Beechy



83 years, 4 months, 3 days

Now she and her mother were alone.

Chapter 1

Tuesday morning, six months later

Julia glanced around the kitchen as she waited for her mother’s egg to boil. Everything was clean and orderly. Why wouldn’t it be? It was only the two of them. Except for the days when she baked, there was little to do. Julia was hoping that would change soon, and she meant to talk to Ada about it. Today would be a good day. She’d put it off long enough.

The water started to boil, and she began counting in her mind. Three minutes made for the perfect egg, at least for Ada it did. There were few things her mother could stomach on the days she wasn’t well, but a soft-boiled egg was one.

Julia walked around the kitchen as she counted, and that was when she noticed the calendar. She’d failed to flip the page to September. Where had the last six months gone?

Six months since her father had died.

Six months of Ada’s health continuing to fail.

Six months that Julia had continued to postpone her dream.

She flipped the page, smiled at the photograph of harvested hay, and vowed that today she would speak with her mother. Returning to the stove, she scooped out the egg with a spoon and placed it in a bowl of water to cool. Slicing a piece of bread from the fresh loaf she’d made yesterday, she laid it on a plate and added a dab of butter and apple preserves on the side. She set the plate on a tray, which already held a tall glass of fresh milk. Picking it all up, she turned to walk to her mother’s room and nearly dropped the tray when she saw Ada standing in the doorway.

“I’m not an invalid, and I don’t need to eat in my bedroom.”

She weighed a mere eighty-nine pounds. Julia had brought in the scale from the barn last week and confirmed her fears. Her mother was losing weight. She was also shrinking. Ada now stood a mere five foot four inches.

Why was it that the body shrank as it grew older? It was almost as if it needed to conserve its energy for more important things. Her mother had attempted to braid her hair and tuck it under her kapp, but the arthritis that crippled her hands made the task difficult. The result was snow-white hair sprouting in various directions and a kapp tipped slightly to the back of her head. She also hadn’t been able to correctly pin her dark green dress.

In spite of her appearance, the blue eyes behind her small glasses twinkled with good humor and complete clarity. Her mother’s health might be failing, but today her mind was sharp. Julia was grateful. Some days sporadic bouts of dementia robbed her even of that.

“Mamm, I don’t mind bringing it to you.”

Ada waved her hand, dismissing the notion. “When I’m too feeble to get out of bed, I’ll be praying the Lord sees fit to take me home.”

Julia didn’t think it was a good time to remind her she’d stayed in bed three days last week. Ada remembered well enough. She simply chose to ignore the bad days.

“Let me help you.”

Setting the tray on the kitchen table, Julia was relieved to see that at least her mother was using the cane Dr. Hanson had provided. He’d suggested a walker, but Ada had insisted “the Lord was her strength.” The cane was a compromise.

Julia inwardly winced as she looked at her mother’s hands. Some mornings the crippling arthritis was better than others. This morning her hands—wrinkled, and spotted with age—resembled claws. She wondered how her mother would be able to pick up the utensils to eat. She was tempted to offer to feed her, but the last time she’d suggested that had earned her a twenty-minute lecture on self-sufficiency.

Ada must have noticed her staring. Patting her daughter’s arm, she murmured, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”


She bowed her head as her mother prayed over her breakfast. While Ada thanked God for her food, Julia prayed for strength and wisdom.

Was today the right day? And how best to broach the topic? Why were her palms sweating?

She waited until Ada had finished the egg and eaten half the bread. Some part of her wanted to believe that if her dream came true, Ada would improve. Another part knew it was only a matter of time until she’d be left alone in the big two-story house beside Pebble Creek.

“My baked goods have been selling well at Lydia and Aaron’s shop.”

“Ya. That’s wunderbaar.”

Julia nodded but vowed in her heart to push forward with her plan. She’d thought perhaps she should wait until her mother’s health improved, but after the visit with Doc Hanson last week, she knew that wasn’t going to happen. It was imperative she not wait until winter. The tourist crowds came during the summer and stayed through the fall foliage. If she was going to do this, she needed to do it now.

“Mamm, I’d like to expand my cooking business.”

“You don’t have a business.” Ada fumbled with the glass of milk, and they both reached to settle it. “You have a hobby.”

Rising and walking across the room, Julia fetched the herbal ointment the doctor had recommended. When she opened the jar, the smell of mint balm filled the kitchen. Pulling her mother’s left hand across the table, she worked the cream into the skin, rubbing gently with her fingers to massage the muscles until they were straightened.

“I’d like to make it a business, though.” She looked up, peering directly into her mother’s eyes.

Why was this so hard? Why was she so afraid Ada would say no?

She was thirty-seven years old, and she was still worried whether her mother would approve of her plans. “I’d like to open a café here in the house.”

Ada didn’t speak as Julia reached for her right hand and began rubbing the ointment into it. When she’d finished, her mother touched her cheek, leaving the faint scent of mint and summer.

“Dear Julia, how can you open a café in these rooms if you won’t be living here?” Behind the glasses were blue eyes filled with calmness, sadness, and determination.

“I don’t understand—”

“Do you think your dat and I would leave you here after we’ve gone on? Leave you alone?”


“Nein, Julia. It wouldn’t be proper. It wouldn’t be right.”

“What…” Julia’s heart was racing so fast she felt as if she’d run from the creek. She didn’t know which question to ask first. “How…”

“We always hoped you might marry. Your father spoke to you about this on several occasions.”

“Ya, but—”

“I know your reasons, and I even understand them. The fact remains that you can’t live here alone once I’m gone, which according to Doc Hanson will be relatively soon.”

Julia jumped up from her chair, walked to the kitchen counter, and glanced outside. Her gaze fell on the rose bushes. They still held some of summer’s blooms—a deep, vibrant red.

“So you’re deciding I have to leave? Just like that? I have no say in it at all?” Her voice rose with each question.

“You’ll go to Pennsylvania. Back to live with my family.”

“I don’t even know those people.”

“They’re family, nonetheless. You’ve exchanged letters with them for years.”

“This is my home, mamm. You would kick me out of my home?”

Ada bowed her head. She didn’t speak for the space of nearly three minutes—long enough to boil another egg. When she looked up, her words were gentle, but they still made Julia want to scream. “God is our refuge and strength, dochder.”

“The Psalms are not the answer to this!”

“Always you can find the answers in Gotte’s Word.”

Julia closed her eyes and forced her emotions to calm down. When she looked at her mother again, she saw the same quiet, loving woman who had been beside her every day of her life. What she recognized, in her mother’s eyes, was kindness—and it confused her as much as the decree she had just issued.

“There’s no changing your mind?”

“Nein. The papers were drawn up before your dat passed. It’s why we agreed to sell the pastureland to Mr. and Mrs. Elliott. This home will be sold when I pass, and the money will be put in a trust for you, to help support you the rest of your life—”

“Support me.”

“On the condition you live in Pennsylvania with my family.”

“Why are you telling me this now?” Julia’s voice was a whisper. How could her life have taken such a catastrophic turn? When she’d slipped out of bed this morning, she never would have imagined that her days in this home, her days living beside Pebble Creek, were numbered.

It was true she hadn’t been overly social. She couldn’t remember the last singing she’d been to, but then she was not a girl. She was a woman.

Instead she’d waited. She’d done what a good daughter should do, followed all the rules, and waited. For what? So she could be turned out of her home. So she could be told once more what to do.

It wasn’t fair.

And she hadn’t seen it coming. She had never expected such an answer. She had never dreamed her mother and her father—she mustn’t forget he had agreed to this plan—would betray her this way.

No, she’d been busy designing a café in the bottom floor of their home. Where should she put the tables she would purchase from David King? What type of sign would best attract customers? What would be the best location for it? Should she advertise in the Budget? What design should she use for the menus?

None of those things mattered if she would be living in Pennsylvania.

“Why now?” she repeated.

“Why? Because you asked.” Her mother stood, gripped her cane, and shuffled out of the room.

Leaving Julia alone, staring out at the last of the crimson roses.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Everfree Northwest: My Little Pony Convention - My Experience

My 2002 collection of My Little Ponies, plus some other items.
I have always been a fan of My Little Pony (MLP). When I was very little I received my very first MLP toy and I remember watching the episodes and movies on TV with my sisters. Later when I married my husband he let me collect some of the ponies off of eBay. I had quite the collection while I lived in Ohio, but had to sell some of them because money was getting tight so I opted to keep all of the ones with sea or ocean related cutie marks. I still have those and two I purchased that were made custom for me with dolphins on them. I also have a few cute plushies I couldn't part with.

We all absolutely love the new series Friendship is Magic (FIM). The writing is incredible and the show has great moral endings. The writers even tuck in easter eggs into the shows that only fans like myself would get: like similar A-Team themed music or references to Doctor Who and Terminator...even Discord, one of the bad guys in MLP FIM, is modeled after Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation (John de Lancie is both the voice actor for Discord and the actor of Q).

The fans span generations: from little kids to grown adults. We call ourselves Bronies or Pegasisters. The fan base is amazing and so supporting. It has given many charitable contributions over the years spanning the fandom. There are also tons of us that do MLP themed artwork and music. It is astounding how much great stuff comes out of the fans.

My whole family just went to Everfree Northwest in Seattle, Washington on Friday. Everfree NW is a My Little Pony Convention for fans of MLP. As with most TV/Movie/Comic based conventions, people can and do dress up as their favorite character(s).

I love to dress up, cosplay (costume play), and roleplay. I threw together a makeshift costume at the last minute because I didn't have the money to buy anything for it. My costume was representing one of my favorite characters, Fluttershy. Fluttershy is a Pegasus pony that is yellow with pink mane and tail and has three pink and blue butterflies on her flank as her cutie mark. I had a splash of pink hair attached to a barrette to go in my hair with a pink flower clip. My mother had given me a yellow t-shirt that had a butterfly in sequins on the front for my birthday and I thought that it was a great Fluttershy butterfly shirt. I dawned some white fairy wings too. I also had some jeans that had three white embroidered butterflies down the side so I chose those to wear. While at Everfree NW I decided I also wanted to make a pair of ears. There was an arts and crafts room that was set up to make your own ears, horns and wings plus you could color pages out of a coloring book of ponies or make your own art out of felt, construction paper, string and cardboard. I made some pony ears out of the cardboard and construction paper supplied.

We listened to fan made MLP themed music while drove to Seattle. When we arrived we parked in the Hilton Hotel Parking garage. We saw some Bronies there that had taped their car so that it could be drawn on with sharpies with pony themed artwork and then found our way to registration. The lines were really long, but apparently if you have kids you get to go straight to the front of all lines (foals: fillies and colts, are treated really well because hey, the show wouldn't be here without them). So we got first priority and that was really nice. Everypony that was anypony was there.

After registration we headed to the vendor room. On our way there we picked up free Derpy trading cards from the Enterplay table. The vendor room was so packed we were having trouble seeing everything and there were Brony traffic jams everywhere. We wove our way around the tables trying to take it all in. There was a lot to see. We showed off our newest item from Pony Feathers to some of the venders that were there...wooden wing shaped headphone cups. I loved ChaoticBrony's jewelry, Equestria Rags' Celestia, Luna, and Cadence Plushies, Firefly's Farm and her awesome Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon and Princess Celestia leather corset she had up for sale. I ended up buying three Patchwerk mini prints: Princesses of Night and Day and Call Upon the Sea Ponies. There were so many other things that I saw too that I loved. Maybe next year we can have more money to purchase some other things. The kids received free MLP stickers, fake tattoos from different vendor tables and apples from the Sweet Apple Acres table (Zari got a small gift bag full of apple candies and an Angel Bunny eraser instead of a free apple). They also got their pictures taken with different plushies that they were selling.

Next we went to the Opening Ceremonies. Opening the ceremonies was the Convention Chairman (Royal Coat), DustyKatt, and Mic the Microphone. They crowned Royal Coat this year as prince and he received a sash and a crown. They also announced "Dear Princess", where you could write letters to any of the princesses, not just Celestia and I guess they would be reading them off later. They had some of the features guests come on stage as well to say a few words. They also did a skit where the Mane 6 and Spike found 3 kids (foals) to become members of "The Royal Court" and be changed into Alicorns (Princess/Prince ponies with both a horn and wings). These foals had already been chosen previously by receiving a special invitation from Princess Twilight Sparkle in their registration bags to join her to learn the magic of friendship themselves. We also sang Winter Wrap Up and Smile at the opening ceremonies.

We then found lunch at 7Eleven and brought it back to eat at tables in the hotel foyer. In the hall of the hotel they had a small concessions stand that sold refreshments including..".mmmmmm muffins!" and I bet the lady that worked there heard that phrase every time a brony passed.  Later we went back to the vendor room to have another look at stuff and I had to scout out a new badge for Zari with registration because she lost her first one. We headed to the Art Display and that was disappointing. We thought we would see tons of artwork on display for attendants to look at, but there was hardly any. We were used to seeing a lot because we had previously been to AnthroCon and they have a fabulous display there. Jaedan decided to enter his picture he drew of his pony character, Wolf. Across the hall was the arts and crafts room, so we headed over there and the boys made themselves ears, tails, horns and wings. The girls colored pictures from coloring books. Somepony had made an Art Castle out of boxes, cardboard, and artwork and Jaedan posed with his drawing and handmade ears.

I took a bunch of pictures of people dressed up. I got Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Apple Jack, Twilight Sparkle, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Nightmare Moon, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, Cider Brothers (Flim and Flam), Vinyl Scratch/DJ Pon-3, Photo Finish and the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I saw all kinds of great costumes! I wanted to get more, but I didn't have time to. There were some pictures of cosplay I didn't get the chance to take. I saw some great costumes of Rarity, Spike, Rainbow Dash, Discord, Zecora, Derpy, Doctor Hooves, Granny Smith, Big McIntosh (Big Mac), Cheerilee, Trixie, Queen Chrysalis, Spitfire, The Wonderbolts, Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, Snowflake, etc. that I wanted to, but never got pictures of.

Last we went to Ponystock and they had some great musicians presenting. Among them were: Michelle Creber (she does both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle singing voice), Living Tombstone, Odyssey, Alex S., Mic the Microphone, AcousticBrony, etc. I sat outside in the hall with the girls because it was really loud and also because we had a slight mishap. Teela had ingested a penny she had found and got a stomach ache from it. She said she put it in her mouth because she didn't have any pockets and then ended up swallowing it after she had eaten her dinner. From what I heard of the concerts Ponystock was awesome! Michelle Creber took center stage and rocked the house most the night. On Saturday I also watched Ponystock from home on the the live feed Everfree NW had and all the musicians were awesome! Saturday's performances went on longer than Friday's and I ended up staying up well past 3am to watch them all.

Before we left on Friday for home we doodled on the car that the Bronies had taped and then exited the parking garage with pony music blasting. We wished we could have stayed for all three days, but we needed to get home to our dog, Prince. I did get the chance to see the Costume Contest, Meet the Voice Actors, Whose Line is it Anypony?, Charity Auction, and Ponystock on Saturday...along with a little bit of Guys of MLP with Peter New (Big Mac) and Andrew Francis (Shining Armor) on Sunday at home from the Live Feed. I will enjoy watching more of the panels once Everfree Radio uploads them to YouTube later. I also believe that they really need a larger venue next year or at least larger rooms to host things in. All in all it was a very good experience and we are definitely going to try and make it again next year.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: No compensation was received for this post. This post is a personal post written by me.