Laudable Linkage

Here are some interesting reads rounded up from the last couple of weeks:

Dr. George H. Guthrie has been publishing a series dealing with Bible translations that I have found very helpful, especially these (HT to Challies):

6 Reasons We Shouldn’t Freak Out over Word Variations in our Modern Translations

6 Surprising Ideas the KJV Translators Had about Other Bible Translations. The preface to the KJV is pretty fascinating if your Bible contains it and if you can read it. A couple of the fascinating ideas: they used and endorsed other translations and never claimed that theirs was the only one that should be used.

4 Interesting Facts about the Production of the King James Translation

Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety.

What the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Miss About Simone Biles

Top 10 things I Wish Worship Leaders Would Stop Saying and Top 10 Things I Love That Worship Leaders Do

With Love, Your Single Daughter

10 Things to DO Instead of Asking, “What Can I Do to Help?

A couple about writing:

Avoid These Sneaky (But Deadly) Point of View Mistakes.

A Quick Lesson in the Writing Process.

And finally, this is just adorable:

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

friday fave five spring

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s been a great week in these parts! Here’s why:

1. My birthday. My husband made his famous Grilled Chicken Teriyaki, everyone contributed to the rest of the meal and set-up/clean up, and Mittu made the GF Texas Sheet Cake. Yummy! Plus they took me to Cheddar’s the night before! It wasn’t our best experience at this restaurant, but the food was great. And I loved everyone’s thoughtful cards and gifts.

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2. The rest of our stay-cation. I wrote about it more here, but it was a nice blend of activities and relaxation. I enjoyed the time with the family so much. My oldest son headed back to RI Monday – that seems so long ago already! I think this is the first time I have adopted the mentality that I’m on vacation, too. Usually I don’t feel that way because I still have my regular tasks to do. But really, the housework was done before my son came, and besides dealing with meals and dishes, which others helped with, and a bit of laundry and occasional crumb sweep-up, I was pretty much “off,” too. I enjoyed a lot of reading and resting when we weren’t doing other things.

3. 4 days off from cooking. Between my birthday, getting meals out, and other people cooking during the ten days or so everyone was here, I think I had about 4 days in a row that I didn’t cook. It was nice to have such a break!  And that helped me feel a little more like I was on vacation, too.

4. Learning that the print could be enlarged on my phone. I was lamenting that I couldn’t make out much on my phone without whipping out my glasses, and my husband told me I could enlarge the text. On the iPhone you go to Settings, click General, click Accessibility, then Larger Text, and you can manage how big you want it. That has helped a lot!!!

5. The car starting – after it didn’t. I had just loaded a huge supply of groceries into the back of the van and got in to start the car, and it just clicked. I tried several times and the  tried to call and text Jim. I was just getting ready to call my youngest son, Jesse, to come and rescue the groceries and me when I decided to try one more time. It started rather weakly, and I gave it a little gas, and it did fine. Jim took it to have the battery tested when he got home (it started fine for him!), and found that was the problem. It had a two-year warranty, and we’d had it four years, so it was about time to replace it. It was a relief to know it was fixed and not fear to drive it in case it wouldn’t start again. And though I was distressed (not to mentioned drenched in sweat in a hot car in August), it relatively was short-lived.

That’s my week. How was yours?

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Book Review: The Green Ember

Green EmberThe Green Ember by S. D. Smith is a children’s story about rabbits. Brother and sister Heather and Picket live a normal (for storybook rabbits), almost idyllic life with their parents and baby brother until one day when a mysterious stranger comes to talk with their parents. Heather and Picket are shooed out to pick berries, but while they are gone, their home is attacked by wolves and burned. Not knowing where their parents are and being spotted by wolves, they try for a harrowing escape, being rescued at the last minute by an uncle they didn’t know they had and his adopted son, Smalls.

Their uncle, Wilfred, and Smalls take them to a community of rabbits hidden away. They see and hear evidences of other wolf attacks. While rabbit forces are training to fight the wolves, rabbit artisans and workmen are keeping their skills honed for a time when the heir of their fallen king will rise up and claim his place and lead them to a season of peace. When injustices or suffering occur, they comfort themselves with the saying, “It shall not be so in the Mended Wood.” Meanwhile discord threatens the community, and Heather and Picket struggle to find their place, especially when they learn their family’s history with the king.

My thoughts:

I don’t read children’s stories other than classics often, though I agree with C. S. Lewis that a good children’s story should appeal to adults, too. I follow The Story Warren, where Smith is a regular contributor, so I saw all the announcements there when the book came out, but I still wasn’t particularly inclined to read it. But when it came up for sale as an audiobook, I figured, why not?

I was expecting to be wowed, and maybe that’s the biggest problem with why I wasn’t. I think when expectations are so high, that can actually set one up for disappointment. I’ve seen it compared to Narnia, and though there are similarities, I think such a comparison helps set up those lofty expectations and the resulting letdown.

It’s not a bad story at all. It has a lot of great elements. I tend to enjoy “coming of age during adversity” type stories generally. I bought and looked back through the Kindle version after listening to the audio, and the things that bothered me while listening didn’t stand out so much while reading. I am not sure if that’s because it lends itself better to being read than listened to or if I was already familiar with it, so certain things did not then stand out.

I think mainly the writing just needs to be tightened up a bit. For instance, in a boat ride with Heather, Picket, Wilfred, and Smalls, Wilfred tells the children, “How about I give you the quick and almost unsatisfactory version” of what was going on. Heather agrees. Then Wilfred says, “So how about I give you a bit of the rundown on things?” And I am thinking, “OK, you just said that, but yes, go ahead.”

There’s a lot of he said, she said, Heather said, Picket said, Wilfred said, etc. That stood out more in the audio because the conversation tags are read with a different voice than the conversation. I don’t think that many are needed, but some variance would help.

Then there was the case of a confusing pronoun: “The oars bit hard into the water, and they shot forward.” Makes it sound like the oars shot forward rather than the boat. The very same mistake occurs at the beginning of the next chapter: “Then he dug in with both oars, and they shot forward.”

A few other examples:

“With one hand he unsheathed his blade, launching it from its sheath toward Uncle Wilfred, who caught it by its hilt.” “From its sheath” could have been left out, making it a much stronger sentence – unsheathing it means taking it from its sheath. Perhaps Smith didn’t think young readers would know what “unsheath” means. But if he can trust them with words like salination, sagacity, and discomfiture, I think they can handle unsheath.

“They looked angry, or most of them did” could have been stronger simply as, “Most of them looked angry.”

“‘Kyle?’ Heather asked, surprised. ‘Yes, and I see this surprises you.'” Seriously? Better would have been something like, “Heather asked, eyes wide and eyebrows raised.” Then, “Yes, and I see this surprises you.”

“Heather stood on tiptoes and dodged back and forth to see over the shoulder of the tall, swaying rabbit in front of her. She wanted to see Mrs. Weaver” who was speaking to the group. Instead of “show, don’t tell,” this is like telling us after showing us. I think the second sentence is unnecessary, but if it really needs to be spelled out, it could have been tucked into the sentence rather than added as a weak passive sentence: “Fervently trying to see Mrs. Weaver, Heather stood…,” etc.

There is a lot of repetition, sometimes within the same paragraph, such as the earlier sentences about the oars and about Wilfred sharing the situation. Here’s another set, at an assembly of different factions: “Behind them, as if separate from the Cloud Mountain community, stood most of the lords, captains, and soldiers who had come from the secret citadels.” And just three sentences later: “There was a large gap between the last of the Cloud Mountain rabbits and the citadel warriors.” Those could have been incorporated into one just by adding “far” in front of the first sentence. In-between these two are the sentence about most of them looking angry and an unnecessary explanatory sentence that the citadel people “appeared to resent this assembly and were making it clear by standing apart.” I think the latter is another instance of unnecessary telling – the rest of the paragraph shows this without spelling it out.

Do I sound horribly nitpicky and critical? I don’t mean to. I really don’t read or listen to books with an editing pen handy, ready to pounce on any little infraction. But when there are a lot of these kinds of things, they’re like speed bumps to the story, slowing down the progress and making me stop to think, “Didn’t he just say that?” or “Did he say what I think he said?” I doubt Mr. Smith will ever see this, but I’m pointing these things out just to encourage writers to be better writers. I think the arc of the story, the characters, the conflict, and most everything else is fine: it’s just these little things that could be tightened up to make it stronger, or at least provide fewer distractions.

To be fair, let me share some of the great quotes that stood out to me:

“If you aren’t angry about the wicked things happening in the world all around, then you don’t have a soul.”

“Why not just apologize to Smalls, to everyone, and move on? But he couldn’t do it. It would feel too much like surrendering ground he felt entitled to.” Thought that was quite insightful – that’s exactly how one feels when not wanting to apologize.

“All of life is a battle against fear. We fight it on one front, and it sneaks around to our flank.”

My place beside you,
My life for yours,
‘Til the Green Ember rises
Or the end of the world!

I like the way the community is not just surviving, but also focusing on and preparing for the time to come: “Here we anticipate the Mended Wood, the Great Wood healed. Those painters are seeing what is not yet but we hope will be. They are really seeing, but it’s a different kind of sight. They anticipate the Mended Wood. So do all in this community in our various ways. We sing about it. We paint it. We make crutches and soups and have gardens and weddings and babies. This is a place out of time. A window into the past and the future world. We are heralds, you see, my dear, saying what will surely come. And we prepare with all our might, to be ready when once again we are free.”

The story ends rather abruptly, obviously setting up for a sequel, which is due out in September: Ember Falls. Between these two a prequel was published, The Black Star of Kingston. There’s even talk of a movie version of The Green Ember.

It’s not an overtly Christian book, but there are spiritual parallels, mainly of a fractured, hurting world longing for its king to come, and many spiritual truths along the way. A good discussion of this aspect is in this review.

The illustrations by Zach Franzen are gorgeous. I was glad the Kindle included them.

If you’d like to read a much more enthusiastic review, see Carrie’s – or the great majority on Amazon or Goodreads.

Genre: Children’s fantasy
My rating: 7 out of 10
Objectionable elements: None except for those who might be very sensitive to the fighting. But it’s no more graphic than the Narnia or Tolkien books.
Recommendation: Yes, I gladly recommend it.

(This bit at the end is new to me – I’m borrowing and adapting it from what Rebekah does.

(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

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Odds and ends

Today marks the first day back to the ol’ routine after about an ten-day “stay-cation.” My oldest son’s birthday is in August and he usually takes a week’s vacation then to come and visit. My birthday is 6 days after his, and this is only the second time in six years that he has been able to be here for mine as well. My husband took off a week and two days while Jeremy was here, Jesse was laid off a few weeks back, so he was home, and though Jason had only one day off besides weekends, he and Mittu and Timothy were able to be here quite a bit. It was a great time with a good blend of activities and outings as well as quiet times at home. We went to the Ripley’s Aquarium one day, bowling another day, to Jason and Mittu’s house for lunch another day, and the kids went out out various times on their own. We talked and played games (I particularly enjoyed Telestrations and a game Jesse found called Drawful that involved using our phones to draw pictures of silly sayings that others had to guess), napped and read and ate. In fact, I had to laugh when the auto-correct on my phone kept trying to convert “stay-cation” to “starvation.” Nope, we definitely didn’t starve.

I seem to operate best with a certain amount of structure, so in that vein it’s nice to get back to the regular routine, but it’s sad as well, especially with Jeremy leaving to go back to RI until Christmas.

Timothy seemed to do well with the change in routine. He hasn’t seen Jeremy except in FaceTime since last Christmas but didn’t seem shy around him at all. If any of the family wasn’t in the room he was in, he asked where they were or looked for them – Jeremy noted he was like a little sheepdog trying to herd his people into one room.🙂 I think he might be going through a little bit of people withdrawal now.

When people are here, even family, I have a hard time knowing how much to be available to them and how much to give them time to themselves. I’d hate for a hostess to feel like she needed to be with me 100% or have activities scheduled all day – in fact, a little down time and solitude are welcome when staying with people for a day or more. So I try to be generally available and not off doing my own projects, and if everyone seems content I don’t try to conjure up things to do. But we do try to have an activity or two scheduled out of the house just for fun and variety.

Is it odd that in the middle of middle age I still get excited about my birthday?🙂 I get excited for all the family’s birthdays. My family does a great job in making those days special for me. The day after Mother’s Day or my birthday always feels a little like Cinderella the day after the ball, though.🙂

When I first told people I was going to be a grandmother, many of them asked me what I wanted my grandchildren to call me. I wasn’t sure: I knew there were a couple of names I didn’t like and didn’t want, but nothing really stood out to me. I kind of just wanted to see what Timothy came up with himself. Lately he’s been calling us Mom and Dad (his parents are Mommy and Daddy), I guess because that’s what he hears everyone else call us. We figured we’d just work on the “grand” part later. But just recently he’s been saying Mom-mom. I like that.🙂 We’ll see if it sticks.

In other news….we have a hummingbird feeder just outside the kitchen window. It seemed to take them a while to find it this year, but once they did, we started seeing them often. Recently, though, a wasp has claimed the feeder, and several times we have actually seen him shoo the hummingbird off, flying at it until it flew away, one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Jason remarked that if a wasp sting hurts us so much, it would probably prove fatal to a creature the size of a hummingbird. Lately they seem to have called a truce, though, and have occupied opposite sides of the feeder at the same time.

Some time back I saw my cardiologist just for a routine visit to discuss how my heart rhythm issues were going, and after listing several options (do nothing; increase medicine; try a different medicine; investigate other procedures), he said what I am sure meant something like “The decision is in yours” or “The ball is in your court.” But he is Indian, and the metaphor he used was, “The trigger is in your hands.”😀

I enjoyed watching a bit of the Olympics most evenings, but I wish there had been more variety in the prime time coverage. Some nights it seemed like it was just race after race, and there were a multitude of sports we never saw in the evenings. I know there’s too much going on to cover everything, and they try to show the events that are happening live. If we turned the TV on during other times of day, we’d see a few different events. But it’s impossible to  watch all day. I didn’t really investigate the viewing options on NBC’s site – might look into that next time.

I thought the closing ceremony was a little underwhelming – too many segments taking a very long time with no changes. But my favorite parts were the film segment after the hand-off of the Olympic flag to Tokyo, especially the prime minister as Mario, and then the montage of highlight clips at the very end.

I’ve forgotten to take pictures of a few cards I made earlier in the summer, but these were for Jason and Mittu’s anniversary and Jeremy’s birthday:

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And finally, I just saw today that someone is thinking of making a new Anne of Green Gables TV series for Netflix that’s supposed to be “edgier,” and this article says it will “integrate new adventures into the beloved story, tackling issues of ‘identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.’” Seriously, can’t anybody write an original series without remaking an old one that was excellent? I don’t think anyone can improve on the Megan Follows’ Anne. And to “integrate new adventures” into a classic just shouldn’t be allowed. Go write your own story rather than hijacking someone else’s characters!

Well, I don’t want to end on a negative note, so I’ll share a couple of photos of Timothy with me on my birthday and Timothy’s first time bowling:

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I could look at his little face all day.🙂 For now I guess I better stop rambling and go finish the laundry.🙂

 

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Friday’s Fave Five

friday fave five spring

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s been a great week! You’ll understand why from the favorite parts of it listed below:

1. My oldest son is home! His flight was delayed due to weather, which caused him to miss his connection, which bumped him to a flight the following afternoon. But he finally got here last weekend, and we’ve so enjoyed having all the family together again. Lots of talking, eating, and a little bit of playing games. That’s also why I have been mostly absent from the blog this week, except for a post about bookcases.🙂

2. His birthday was this week!

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3. A family outing. My husband had found a deal on tickets to the Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg, so we all went to the aquarium on Monday. The best part was following Timothy around and seeing his excitement. Then we stopped at a Mellow Mushroom in Pigeon Forge for lunch on the way back. It’s almost become a tradition to stop there since some years ago we got caught in non-moving traffic on the way to that area to look at Christmas lights and finally gave up and stopped to eat.

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4. Finding a frame. I’ve had this Karla Dornacher print for a long time, planning to pair it with a piece I had cross-stitched a couple of years ago. I just recently found a frame that goes in the family room perfectly and got it hung up.

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5. Rearranging. I don’t rearrange furniture much, but every now and then as I look at the decorating, I realize something would work much better in a different place. I had several such light bulb moments recently, and it helps me appreciate what I have all the more and see it in a new light.

Sometimes I can get into a “poor me” attitude when thinking that everyone else gets a vacation from their regular duties, but I don’t except in small doses. But, really, I do in some ways: one afternoon when thinking that I should be doing something productive, I thought, You know what? It’s vacation week: I can just relax until the next meal time. And we do tend to have a few more meals out when all the family is here, so there’s a break in that regard as well. Even though it’s been a busy week in some respects, there’s been time for relaxation, naps, and even curling up to read in the middle of the afternoon, a rarity.

Happy Friday!

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Bookcases

When I visit someone’s home and see an assortment of books, at some point during the visit I like to meander over and see what books my host has. I’ve been thinking for some time about sharing my own bookcases. Someone mentioned a long time ago that she thought it would be interesting to see blogging friends’ book collections, and then recently Melanie shared her own, which brought the idea to the forefront of my thinking again and spurred me on to share my own.

So these are the main two in the living room:

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My husband made one in the early years of our marriage, and then as my collection grew, he made a second one to match. But he says we don’t have any room for more.🙂 And we truly don’t, unless we get rid of something else which we’re not ready to do yet. He doesn’t quite understand my penchant for keeping books except for reference. He figures once you know the story, you don’t need the book any more.🙂 But he tolerates my obsession as much as he can. To me, most of my books are treasured friends, and some I do read over and over. Others I might not read as often, but I’m still not ready to let them go. But I have had to purge my collection when we moved here and have had to delete a few here and there as I have added others and needed a space.

Above the couch is most of my Boyd’s Bear figurine collection. I like having them behind glass where I can see them but they don’t get dusty, but they do seem a little farther removed than when they were out and around the room. But not having to dust wins.🙂 To the right you can see a bit of Timothy’s corner, where we keep toys for when he’s here.

On the bookcase on the left I have Christian fiction and classics and some assorted others along with some photo albums at the bottom:

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The carved wooden box was a gift from my middle son, Jason, from a mission trip he took with his youth group to Cameroon. The bears were gifts from my kids: Timothy plays with these sometimes now.

The one on the right holds biographies, assorted Christian nonfiction, and college yearbooks.

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This got cut off in the above picture, but on the left is a special Valentine from Timothy, and on the right is a special photo from Jason and Mittu of my husband and Timothy when he was in the NICU. My reflection is blurring it a little, but not the essential part.

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Some of you may remember that the book with the wedding photo was one our kids put together for our 35th anniversary, and it’s one of my treasures.🙂 I have a set of Matthew Henry commentaries on the bottom shelf that were given to me 35 or so years ago by my former youth pastor when he left that position to go to Mexico as a missionary. I used them some, but the commentary on each verse is quite long, so I just don’t dig them out often unless I am really puzzling over something. I keep thinking I should sell them online or give them to someone, but then I am reluctant to do so in case I just might want to use them again.🙂 I know you can find some of them online: they probably have the complete set online somewhere, but so far when I have looked, I’ve found condensed versions which were  a little easier to read but didn’t make quite as much sense with what was left out.

This one is in my sewing/ craft room and holds mainly craft-related books or Christian non-fiction relating specifically to women. I just got rid of a number of old “how to save money and live frugally” books because I figured they were out of date now, plus you can find a lot of that kind of thing online these days.:

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On top are several sets of cassette-taped messages, some from women’s conferences, some a few special sermon series.

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My mom gave me the little girl on the top left: she’s designed to hold thread and notions, but I don’t want to leave my thread out to get dusty. But I think she’s cute.🙂 The hearts in the vase on the right were leftover from a ladies’ luncheon a few years ago. The girl in the photos was me in college.🙂 I think my husband had those in his dorm room when we were dating, and I just rediscovered them recently and stuck them there for now. I have a few Dee Henderson and other books there partly because there was no room elsewhere and partly because this room doubles as a guest room, and someone might like to read them while visiting.

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The little pile there is cards, notes, mementos that I need to figure out what to do with.🙂

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I admit I cleaned up this last one pretty extensively before taking a picture.🙂 It’s a small one in my bedroom, and I plop my purse there on top. When I go out again, I usually clean any receipts and papers from it and just leave it in a pile until I decide whether I need to keep them. Plus any new books or books I’ve just finished but haven’t decided whether or where to keep end up in piles here. So I sorted and organized all of that. This is kind of a hodgepodge, but it’s mostly humor, women’s books, child-rearing books, and writing books.

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The pile on top is To Be Read books (and this doesn’t include the bunch on my Kindle and a few in a drawer in my nightstand!

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In addition to these, I have, I think, three boxes in various closets. I do need to go through them and probably give most of them away: they’re not doing anyone any good in a closet. When we first moved here I just wasn’t ready to get rid of them yet, but it’s been 6 years now…so probably most of them can go.

I’m sorry some of these turned out a bit blurry – they looked clear when I took them, but enlarged they are not very crisp.

What’s on your bookshelves? I’d love to see!

Friday’s Fave Five

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

How did it get it be two weeks into August already?!  Here are a few favorites from the last week:

1.My son and daughter-in-law’s 7th anniversary. Jesse and I had fun dropping in over at their house to deliver flowers, a card, and some chocolate.

2. Baby-sitting Timothy so his parents could go out for their anniversary. I wasn’t sure how he would do being away from them, but except for asking about them several times, he did fine. I’m glad he enjoys being here. They celebrated early on Saturday, going out for the morning and then out for lunch. Then they came to our house and made nachos for dinner. Trading baby-sitting for dinner sounds like a good deal to me!

3. The Olympics. I don’t watch athletics much, but there is something about the Olympics! I just wish they wouldn’t show the parts I like best late at night.🙂

4. Spray paint. In addition the the cart mentioned last week, I painted this button decoration for my sewing room. I’m getting better at it! I’ve had the blue and white/beige one for a while, trying to decide where to put them up. They only other color they had was red, which I didn’t want, so recently I got another of the white-ish ones and painted it pink. I may paint that white/beige one a purer white at some point, though I do like the shading. Once again, on sale 40% off and purchased with gift cards.

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By the way, I did have the opportunity to use both Cricut machines on their new cart this week, and the set-up worked great!

5. A preview of gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake. Texas Sheet Cake is probably my favorite cake. Last year for my birthday we got a Coca-Cola Cake from Cracker Barrel, which is pretty close to it, but it was humongous and my gluten-sensitive daughter-in-law couldn’t eat it. My birthday is coming up later this month, and I found a couple of GF TSC recipes to see if anyone wanted to try their hand at it for my birthday, and if not, the Cracker Barrel cake would be fine again. Mittu did a practice cake this past week to test it out, and they happened to have it the evening I dropped in, so I got to try a sample. It turned out really well! A lot of GF cakes are kind of heavy, but this turned out just right. I am looking forward to more later in the month!

And a bonus for this week: anticipation! My oldest son is coming to visit from RI soon!

Happy Friday!

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