DK Publishing’s Preserve It!-Bottled Fruits, Jams & Jellies, Pickles, Cured Meats

Overview: Are you interested in growing your own produce? If you are, then what do you do with it when it comes in? This book is all about the art of preservation. Here’s a shocker: preserving is far more than jerky, pickles, and jellies.

Story Telling: We have a recipe book. The only difference is that most of these recipes aren’t meant for immediate use.

Dislikes: If I have any complaints, it’s with some of the slower preservation techniques. And then it’s more because of a lack of explanation.

Likes: There are several useful grafts to aid both the new and more experienced preserver.

Also, there are several recipes in each section. This makes it so that you have a good grasp on the ideas behind each technique.

Favorite Recipe: I’m looking forward to trying the Hot Pepper Jelly.

Conclusion: This is a good resource for the homesteader and anyone else who wants to have a garden. Enjoy it, and your end results with the rest of your family.

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Virgil’s The Aeneid

Overview: Have you ever wondered what happened to the Trojans that survived Troy’s fall? Well here’s the answer, partially anyway. Aeneas has been given a decree to found a new home for his kinsmen and friends who have escaped both Troy’s fall and enslavement to the Greeks. Will they make it? And are their troubles far behind them? Let’s find out.

Story Telling: We have another epic poem. This one is more of a mythological founding, sort of like Gen. Washington and the cherry tree. And a word of warning: this is an unfinished commissioned work.

Dislikes: Dido wasn’t done right. Her whole part was a warning, I get it, but it still wasn’t right.

Likes: Aeneas was loyal, even if that loyalty was only to his family and friends. Jesus warned us against that ideology.

Favorites: I don’t have any this time around.

Conclusion: I’ll admit that this was a book to be read for educational purposes. But see here, it was read ahead of that purpose, so I was blind to the fact that it wasn’t finished and it was commissioned. Granted Virgil didn’t kiss up to his patron, but still I may have been able to enjoy the book somewhat if that awareness existed. Enjoy the story, you can see why the Sermon on the Mount is so important to our lives.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex-Oedipus the King-Theban Plays 1

Overview: Oedipus has been ruling Thebes since his defeat of the Sphinx so many years prior. Now Thebes is under a pall of plague. According to the Oracle of Delphi, it’s due to an unresolved murder. Can Oedipus solve this mystery? And does he even want to?

Story Telling: This is a rather ancient play, in a form that we aren’t quite used to today.

Dislikes: The subject matter of this story is a bit disturbing.

Likes: Justice is a terrific thing to bring about, as long as you don’t mistake it for revenge. Or the reverse of that idea, mistaking revenge for justice.

And Oedipus showed how much he cared about his family.

Favorites: The only favorites that I have is Merope and Polybius.

Conclusion: This is a disturbing play that just happens to have a good theme. Read it if only because our Founding Fathers probably did.

Homer’s The Odyssey

Overview: The Trojan War has been over for quite some time. But, what could be keeping Ulysses/Odysseus? Telemachus is curious, and then there’s the problems with Penelope’s, his mother, suitors. Will they find the truth? And what does Ulysses/Odysseus plan to do about it all?

Story Telling: This is another epic poem from Homer. You could even call it a partial sequel to “The Iliad.”

Dislikes: King Agamemnon’s wife was pretty treacherous. Today we would be asking if he had a few life insurance policies.

And the serving women did do a bad thing. But does being seduced by a jerk and promised the moon equal the death penalty?

Likes: Penelope was very loyal to her spouse. Too bad her ‘suitors’ caught on to her little trick.

And Ulysses/Odysseus’ inability concerning the truth aside, he was determined to get home.

Favorite Character: It’s Penelope.

Favorite Quote: When Ulysses/Odysseus went down into the underworld and met up with his former colleagues, Achilles had this to tell him. ““Say not a word,” he answered, “in death’s favor; I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead.””

Favorite Scene: It’s when Penelope tests Ulysses/Odysseus with the state of their marriage bed.

Conclusion: This is a good story about hospitality, home-coming and loyalty. Enjoy it, even if you are just looking for an adventure.

Homer’s The Iliad

Overview: Let’s head back to the era of the Trojan War. Achilles, Odysseus/Ulysses, King Agamemnon and other heroes of that war are about to really get into a big quagmire of troubles, passions, egos–let’s not forget the egos–that intends to lay waste to the best made plans of men. Sounds like it might be fun, at least for the readers.

Story Telling: This is considered to be an Epic Poem. You have to hand it to Homer, he managed to write one long poem. It took me three days to finish this one.

Dislikes: Oh boy. Talk about an ego trip. Achilles’ pride causes him to be a bane to quite a few people. I know the poet refers to it as Achilles’ Rage. Pride just seems to be the precursor to it.

And Helen. She seems to be proud of the fact that she’s the cause of all this nightmare of a disaster. Sick woman.

Likes: Nestor and Odysseus/Ulysses gave good counsel.

Patroclus held a lot of courage.

And Hector, while he was reckless, truly wished to protect Troy, his home.

Favorite Character: It’s a toss-up between Patroclus and Hector.

Favorite Quote: It has to be when Zeus/Jove and Ares/Mars had their little conversation. “Do not come whining here, Sir Facing-both-ways.”

Favorite Scene: It’s Book XXIV. That made the whole story worth it.

Conclusion: Read this poem, at least as a warning against letting your passions rule your life. And if you are religious, just treat the old gods as characters in a book. After all, the only way not to learn from a book is to never read it.

Free?

Everyone at one time or another has heard the phrase: “free doesn’t come free.” or some spin on it. Yet, just the idea of something or some principle, of freedom gets our thinking messed up. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the concept.

For our first, and most important example, we have ‘free’ will. We have the “freedom” to make our own decisions about life. This doesn’t mean that our decisions don’t hurt someone. That’s why paternity shows are rising in popularity. One choice made out of carnal desire, and three lives, if not more, are tossed into a metaphorical whirlwind. Is that God’s fault? After all, He gave ‘free’ will-but, can we blame Him, when one makes a bad or carnal choice. Who wants a bunch of soulless robots running the congratulatory committee?

Then we get to our Founding Fathers, and the first Amendment they wished the citizens of The United States of America two of our “freedoms” guaranteed in that Amendment- “Freedom of Speech,” and “Freedom of Religion”- are under an inadvertent attack. People seem to think odd things about these Rights.

When it comes to “Freedom of Speech” we have a large group of those both heading to and coming our of college, that believes that h=this freedom guarantees the freedom from offense. Let’s face it, if our citizens have the right to speak our minds in the medium we choose, some one is going to be offended.

You cannot avoid that fact of life. We’re individuals, we have individualistic tastes. Preventing all offense is about as successful as an injured deer escaping from the wolf pack. The odds are fairly slim.

And then, we come to the “freedom of Religion.”
Now, Christians, and some Conservatives seem to think that this should preclude non-Christian beliefs from coming out in our country. But at the flip side of that coin, the Atheists wish to tell us that religion only belongs in the home–and in some cases–not around any children. Neither of these views are accurate, for much the same reason as mentioned in the Freedom of Speech. The Founders knew the best they could get people to agree to was the Ten Commandments.

What’s really painful for stores, and–in the long run–the customers is the instance on the part of the customers for “free” shipping. With some stores you pay a “membership fee” for discounted or even “free” shipping. That way the shoppers know what they are getting.

Other stores, like Amazon, just offer free shipping period. Yes, the fine print states that there is a minimum order, but that minimum is so low that unless you are just really stingy, almost anyone will reach it. But that’s filtering down to those who utilized the handmade on Amazon and Etsy shops for their home based businesses.

Etsy in order to compete for business against that big business, is encouraging their shop owners of offer free shipping. Some shops will do so only to close later as they aren’t making enough profit to pay for the owner head expenses of materials, time shipping and packing. Some shops, like ours, have a promotion where you get free shipping only after you spend so much money.

There is one other group that’s the one where you don’t get “free” shipping. But even they are a divided group. Part of them are completely honest. The other part, tells you that you are getting free shipping, but the handing fees, taxes, and product prices have been raised to cover their costs.

This is a long article only to say that there is always a price to free stuff. Either it’s as in a gift from a loved one, or the prices the Soldiers and Jesus have paid, or you’ve missed the fine point.

You will not get, in this life, anything free. If you personally haven’t paid for it, someone else has. Even then, you might have to pay with your time, money, rights, but you will pay. Suddenly that promised ‘free college education’ doesn’t look so good now, does it?

Dolly Parton’s Dolly-My Life and Other Unfinished Business

Overview: Dolly Parton is one of the few country stars that is easily recognized across musical boundaries. This could be because of her theme park, her roles in the movies, her television series, or just because of her unique physical presence. This is her story, as it leads up to the early ‘90’s.

Story Telling: We have an autobiography. Don’t mistake it for a memoir. Memoirs are more about feelings, and autobiographies are more about accuracy.

Dislikes: I don’t know if it’s Ms. Parton’s unwillingness to deal with unpleasant situations, or if she was just being politically correct to save her career, but she seemed to be kind of–shall we say–flighty. She doesn’t draw a hard line on anything.

Now, Jane Fonda, also known as Hanoi Jane, isn’t disliked by the patriotic crowd because she ‘spoke out’ against the Vietnam War. It was the fact that she was scolding our boys as a guest of the Vietnam leaders. That’s the best case scenario that I am aware of. We aren’t getting into the worst cases.

Likes: Ms. Parton does encourage her readers to go for their dreams.

And she was willing to help her parents and loved ones to the best of her ability.

Favorite Scene: It was hearing what happened after Ms. Parton felt like she made her mark in the world.

Conclusion: This is an interesting book. Enjoy it for the stories if nothing else. I really enjoyed it.

Jane Austen’s Emma

Overview: Emma Woodhouse would seem to be a very modern woman, complete with the disinclination towards marriage. The thing is, this book is just about two hundred years old. But hey, does that really matter? Emma just wants to play matchmaker. Besides, her former governess has just married, and moved out of Hartfield. But, there’s this pretty, young woman living at Mrs. Goddard’s. She might be fun for an experiment.

Story Telling: We have a classical love story. And one of the first coming-of-age novels that ever existed.

Dislikes: Emma isn’t really a bad person, even at the beginning of the story, but her starting personality just rubbed me the wrong way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Elton were just wrong. No matter how influential, or wealthy, you are, you don’t get to over-run another’s get-together. Plus, if you make the mistake of who is returning your affections, you own up to it. Belittling the innocent is petty at the best, and cruel at the worst. But, what makes Mr. Elton so bad is that he is a preacher. What a hypocrite.

Frank Churchill was pretty sneaky with it came to his aunt.

Likes: George Knightley is one of the best parts of this novel. More on him later.

Robert Martin was tenacious when it came to Harriet Smith.

Jane held a firm personality, and she’s pretty well described as an introvert.

Isabella doesn’t have much screen-time, so to speak, though with her similarities to Mr. Woodhouse, this is a good thing. She was willing to help her sister out of a big mistake.

Favorite Character: George Knightley always tried to bring out the best that Emma could be. It appeared to be a thankless job at times, especially considering how Emma was raised.

Favorite Quote: When Mr. Woodhouse is lamenting on whether the boys will have to go home, Mr. Knightley has the best answer. ““No,” cried Mr. Knightley, “that need not be the consequence. Let them be sent to Donwell. I shall certainly be at leisure.””

Favorite Scene: It’s when Emma tries to make amends to Jane.

Conclusion: This is a great coming of age story. Emma had a lot of growing up to do, and it shows how hard she worked at it.

Melody Carlson’s Hidden History-Tales from Grace Chapel Inn 4

Overview: Meet the sisters who run Grace Chapel Inn. We have Louise–an elderly widow pining for grandchildren–, Alice–an elderly nurse, well part-time anyway–, and then we have Jane, a fifty-something with artistic flair. So what happens when Alice finds a journal of the late Pastor Daniel Howard? And what’s wrong with one of her old friends?

Story Telling: This is considered to be inspirational fiction. One could also call it Christian Fiction.

Dislikes: Grandfather Howard was given a raw deal in this book, even from his own son. Though, Daniel was understandable, as his journal was dated from when he was in high school. But, his daughters didn’t have much consideration for the fact that their Grandfather had lost so many in such a short time. Prohibition was between the two World Wars. One could easily get hooked on booze at the first lost. Besides, God doesn’t forbid booze. He just advises us not to be drunkards.

Both the small town citizens, as well as the former pastor’s family, were shown to be rather close-minded. Oh, sure they both seemed to care about those they saw on a day-to-day basis. But, if the person was an atheist, or having a bad day, then they didn’t show much compassion at all. It used to be that Christians sought out these types of people.

Likes: Creativity wasn’t treated like trouble waiting to happen.

And Grandpa Howard did try to encourage his children. Before you bring up the fact that he wanted Daniel to take up the farm, consider this: he was looking at losing his farm. Many men want their children to follow in their footsteps. As much as he groused about his son wanting to continue school, he did not force Daniel to quit.

Favorite Character: It’s Mark.

Conclusion: It may have been the fact that I don’t really care for Christian fiction, or I may have started with the wrong book, but this story isn’t for me. Maybe you’ll have better luck. Just keep a Bible with you when you read this one.

Rush Limbaugh’s The Way Things Ought To Be

Overview: Rush Limbaugh is better known as one of America’s premier talk radio hosts. Of course, he also happens to be rather conservative in his beliefs. Unabashedly conservative, even, so people either love or hate him. Want to see how Mr. Limbaugh thinks life should be working? It might be a fun trip.

Story Telling: This is a combination of a political commentary and a memoir.

Likes: For the most part, Mr. Limbaugh gives common sense solutions to many of the problems facing mainstream America. Let’s face it, whenever you throw money at a problem, the problem seems to grow bigger. It doesn’t seem like that’s the optimal solution.

Favorite Quote: This is something that we all need to chase away the negativity that life can throw at us. “ This country has not run out of opportunity. Your children can live in an America that is better, safer, more moral, and more prosperous.”

Conclusion: It appears as if Mr. Limbaugh is a controversial figure simply because he does not beat the drum for the DNC. Last time I checked, we should be able to judge all things for ourselves. The true question is: why would anyone be threatened by an opposing view?