Book Review – Ben Hur

The only thing I knew about Ben Hur before reading the novel was that Chalreton Heston starred in the movie and there was a chariot race. I thought the race was the climax of the story…hardly! I have never seen the movie, so I was interested in reading the book.

Ben-Hur was originally published in 1880, so it has an older style of writing, not as loquacious as Charles Dickens, but the descriptions are definitely detailed, very pre-tv!

Les Wallace was a major-general during the Civil War, and actually wrote 70 different books, with Ben-Hur being the most famous. It was a very unusual way to tell the story of Jesus, and Wallace took up the challenge even though he was somewhat apathetic about religion in general. Through his research for the book, he made his own decision about faith. Ben-Hur was originally adapted for the stage in 1889….consider that undertaking as you read this novel!

The story is divided into eight sections, called books,  allowing for years to pass between the them. The characters’ lives crisis cross each other throughout, and the drama is quite compelling. I found myself turning pages and reading very fast in some places, to find out what happened before I had to do another round of canning, not content to let the story go while I dealt with vegetables that wouldn’t wait. At the same time, I would not call this a fast read. As is typical of this era, there is much on a page to digest, and a precursory read will get you lost! It is the type of book that will give you more on the second or third read.

I would guess that Ben-Hur would not appeal to some, but I would encourage you to give it a go, if you persevere, I think you will find it a long and satisfying read, Christian or not.



Fantastic Bake Along-Oatmeal Cookies

I am late in joining the fantastic bake along this month, because I have been out of town the last part of this week. I was thrilled when Kate suggested her Grandmother’s Oatmeal cookies, because DH and I had just been talking about making some! Why not try the new-old recipe provide by Kate at Life Tea and Everything .

Of course, it seems I can’t make a recipe without meddling, and this month was no exception! I didn’t put in the nuts this time, and I substituted cranberries for the chocolate chips. This batch had dehydrated cranberries we picked up during the after Christmas sales last January. I wasn’t sure how they would work, because they had no added sugar like craisins, but I wanted to give it a try.


They looked beautiful in the oven, though sometimes dried fruit doesn’t fare very well when baked….


The exposed cranberries did darken, but they did not burn! Hurrah! The cookies have a delightful tang to them, to balance the sweet. I really loved the crunchy texture on the outside, with a softer middle. Yummy!

Next batch I’ll have some walnuts to throw in as well!  Do go see how the other baking adventures went. We post our experiences, whether we think we were successful or not, so you get a good feel for how things go.

One more thing, adding the baking soda to the boiling water was a hoot! Had no idea it would react! I’ll have to ask Girl #1  (the chemist) why that is so.

Check out the rest of our baking friends:

SAL Update September 17

I am pretty sure that this month I get the prize for the latest posting! It was a crazy week, getting Girl #2 on the plane for Rome, then finishing the orchestra tour, canning,  piano students, canning, MIWW contest followed by a weekend trip to Minneapolis for a Suzuki class!

There’s not been much progress, mainly because I had to frog…it happens in hardanger, there is no escaping it, for me at least.

So, here was my progress last time….


And here is where I am now. I know the lighting is pretty terrible, but sometimes that makes it easier to see the stitching.


And, a closer view of the corner:


I have worked out my troubles now, so I think things will again move along. I just need to sit down to THIS project everyday for just a bit.

I encourage you to go look at what everyone else has  been up to, I know there are several finishes today, and the pieces are quite wonderful! Enjoy a stitch blog hop at these wonderful sites! A warm welcome to our new member, Jackie!


This pattern is a more tailored rendition of the typical shirt dress. Instead of a straight line, it has a gentle princess cut, allowing it to be worn with or without a belt. Girl#2 had a few requirements for this dress. It needed to be breathable, have sleeves, a modest top and the hem must be at the knee, preferably just below. We call it cathedral approved. She’ll need it on the days she is taking groups to visit the area cathedrals.

Because of the changes, we had to guess a bit about the yardage. A longer version had long sleeves, the three quarter sleeve version had the shorter hem. Once I had the yardage home and washed, I discovered the collar pattern had gone AWOL, so had to draft it. In the end I was short on the facing, so did it in white, but was able to add the belt tie as an extra. It looks OK, but I was disappointed in myself for misjudging. Live and learn, I guess!

The pattern, McCalls 5847 was a perfect fit pattern, not needed in this case, but nice if you happen to be bustier than my family…(we would never be able to illustrate that word!) My only complaint is that the topstitching was done at the beginning, and I think it would have been nice to include the facing in the topstitching, instead of hand stitching down the entire length of the dress–twice! 

I also think it really needs the belt. It has a bit too much ease to look stylish without something cinching in the waist. It was Saturday afternoon before I finished everything, but I had already determined that I was topstitching the hem, so everything was ready to pack by supper time! Girl#2 says it will work as a long coat jacket when unbuttoned, which is very much the thing now. It does look better on the girl than on the hanger!

I still think I may try a version of this for myself, if I have need of another dress sometime. It does have a timeless quality to it, being pretty classic in style.

Well That was a Surprise!

I took quite a few things over to our county fair. I had very high hopes for my Peace Sweater, and thought a few other things might do well. It was mid week before Girl#2 and I got over to see how things did

Over in knitting the two charity hats, and the Peace and  Skaugum sweaters all did well, receiving blue ribbons, but no rosettes. My last minute entry, the Splendid Sampler quilt got a 2nd place (red ribbon),  which was a welcome surprise, since the quilt competition is small but extremely tough, especially for a novice like me.

It was over in the embroidery section that I had a big surprise…
There’s my hardanger pillow with a Best of Class ribbon, and over yonder on the wall, the barn cross stitch with a Best of Class and the Judge’s choice! That is probably the simplest cross stitch I have ever turned in…

Next stop was the Sewing area, where I thought my linen dress would do well with its new hand picked zipper, and it did, receiving another Best of Class. I also had a skirt and a men’s shirt in sewing.

I had another big surprise over in the wool sewing, where I had the skirt and messenger bags I made using last fall’s MIWW challenge fabric, as well as my 49’er jacket.

You can just see the navy blue messenger bag on the lowest riser on the left. It got best of class for the accessories and bags division! This fair was a big surprise, the things I expected to wow did fine,while the things that I added on a whim won rosettes! Well, there’s the promised report. I’ll leave you with a look At some of the spectacular quilts on display. If you look close, you can see the bird on my Splendid Sampler lap quilt on the bottom left.

I really loved this miniature appliqué quilt, it was so tiny and the stitching was incredible!

This was the Best of Show quilt, and it was just gorgeous!

There were some lovely things on display including rosemaling, wood carving, spinning and weaving to name just a few.

Transition Land – I Choose B.

For the past 10 years I have spent the last weeks  of summer on the run, a weekend at the State 4-H Dog Show, followed by a week of 14-16 hour days at the State Fair, another quick run home to exchange loads before heading out for another weekend away at the state 4-H Shotgun competition. By now it was mid September, time for our annual (required) Extension conference, annual reports and the closing of the grant year just in time for Naional 4-H Week and the Western Junior event the first weekend of October. This was the finale after 7 or 8 weeks of camp. Needless to say, by mid October I was usually pretty tired, cranky and wishing for a vacation instead of cleaning out my office, which now looked like a bomb had gone off! I loved my job, but I admit, after 30 years, these seasons were getting longer and more draining.

So what was this late summer like? I sewed all of last weekend, and last week began a tour with all the orchestra teachers to visit the 4th graders! We will visit 15 schools in 8 days.  I do two or three schools each day, playing the piano for a 40 minute program. It is a hoot, and I am having a ball, and I even get paid! Yesterday I started teaching piano, and will be meeting half of my 21 students for the first time. I am so excited to get to know them!

It hasn’t been all play, though, canning season has finally started. This week I have cooked down two large pots of tomatoes, processed turnips, carrots and corn for freezing, 2 batches of dilled green beans, a batch of plum jam and a batch of grapes. I’ve been tired in the evenings, but certainly not dreaming of a vacation. My only serious deadline is helping Girl#2 get her stuff finished up before the big move to Rome this weekend. 

Hmmmm, which life would you pick, A or B? Now I’ve experienced both, and I choose B! Sure, I expect a glitch here and there, even a sad day or two yet to come, but I believe the transition is nearly complete. A big part of the credit goes to those who have walked this road with me, providing encouragement and virtual hugs, so I say THANK YOU. Your kind words, prayers, friendship and good wishes have sped this process, and I am so thankful for all of you. ♥️

Adventures are on the horizon, I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings! I found this quote the other day, and it might be a little melodramatic, but what a great reminder for every morning!

And this one too,

Happy Tuesday everyone!