Sep 292016
 

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It would seem I’m on a Panini kick. Today I made a peanut butter and Nutella panini. I spread one slice of bread with  peanut butter, another with Nutella, and then put them together and placed on the panini press. Simple, but oh so delicious! The mix of peanut butter and the chocolate are amazing! And I loved the crunchiness of the bread.

Sep 282016
 

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The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Crown (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101903678
ISBN-13: 978-1101903674

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska
Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days
They are looking for Ruby’s father
Travelling deeper into a silent land
They still cannot find him
And someone is watching them in the dark

Thoughts
There was so much more to this book than I thought there would be. I loved reading about Alaska, one of the places on my “to visit” list. The writing was good, at times comforting, at times informative, and of course, there is the anxiousness from their journey and wondering if they will find Ruby’s dad.

The story is good, but a few things happened that were just weird. I don’t want to give anything away, but one incident with Ruby and her laptop seemed strange.

The ending was not what I expected, but it was a good ending, and I’d read more from this author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Sep 282016
 

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1. Have you ever been to and/or lived near the desert? What did you think? Travel and Leisure lists the ‘coolest’ American desert towns as-
Palm Springs CA, Virgina City NE, Bend OR, Winslow AZ, Marfa TX, Grand Junction CO, Silver City NM, Moab UT, Taos NM, Yakima WA, Borrego Springs CA, Terlingua TX, and St. George UT, and Tubac AZ

Have you been to any of these? Would you like to visit a desert town? Which on the list would you most like to see?
I don’t really remember the names of the desert towns I’ve been to/through, but I once moved from Ohio to California, and then from California to Florida. The state I most remember is New Mexico and the desert town we stayed in on the way. I loved the town and the desert and would love to go back one day.

2. What’s a plan or project you’ve deserted in the past year?
Moving before October

3. Desert-dessert? Share two or three words you find yourself having to think twice about when it comes to spelling.
Spelling was one of my favorite subjects since I first started school, so no words are popping to mind that I have to think twice about. I’ve been called the “spelling police” more than a few times.

4. High and dry, like watching paint dry, dry run, dry as dust, not a dry eye in the house…which phrase can you relate to currently? Explain.
Not a dry eye in the house. It was one year ago today that I lost my babydog Patches.

5. How often do you frequent the dry cleaners? Starch or no starch?
Me, never. My son does take his suits to the dry cleaners.

6. What’s a food or beverage you enjoy that’s named for a place?
My favorite meat is chicken, so I’ll go with Chicken, Alaska . And I love love love Brussels Sprouts!

7. Do you need solitude?
A little solitude will do you good

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I miss my dog Patches so much. She was my shadow for 17 years. It seems so much longer than just a year that I held her. I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing her. Hug your pets. Tell them you love them. Rub their bellies. Give them treats and play with them. Losing a beloved pet is like losing a best friend.

Sep 272016
 

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Here are my steps from the last week:
Tuesday~ 8/20: didn’t track
Wednesday~ 8/21: didn’t track
Thursday ~ 8/22: 7,049 steps
Friday ~ 8/23: 8,136 steps
Saturday ~ 8/24: 8,056 steps
Sunday ~ 8/25: didn’t track
Monday ~ 8/26: 8,218 steps

Last week I did about 6 hours of strength training.

How do you track your exercise? I’m trying to come up with a new plan for October. I know I want to keep tracking my steps. I’ll probably start keeping track of how many times a week I do specific cardio, stretching, deep breathing, strength training, etc., either by days or hours.

I’m still eating a few things I’m not supposed to, like pizza.  I usually don’t eat a lot of the crust because of the carbs and most of the crust I try, I don’t like much. Saturday night my son and I went to a new pizza restaurant in a nearby town with my oldest son and his family, and I ate two pieces of pizza, and the crust was really good, I think I have a new favorite pizza place. It’s about a 30 min. drive from where I live, but when we move it will only be about 4 min.

My menu for the next week is:
Smoky Adobo Chicken Tacos with Mango Slaw and Lime Crema

Jamie’s Beef Kofte with Herby Couscous Salad

Bayou-Spiced Rockfish with Southern Succotash and Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Pork Dumplings with Quick Pickled Veggie Salad and Soy Dipping Sauce

Deconstructed Ratatouille with Balsamic Tomatoes, Feta, and Garlic Ciabatta

Sep 242016
 

I signed up for Hello Fresh about a week and a half ago, have made two of the recipes so far, and really liked both. I like that you can choose from 3 different plans, Vegetarian, Classic or Family. I chose Classic, 5 meals, for 2 people. You can click on their link and check out the plans and recipes.

Some of the recipes are not what I would try on my own, but so far both my son and I are enjoying them.

The first recipe I made was Dukkah-Crusted Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Lemony Greens. I loved everything, but my son isn’t a fan of lemon and thought the greens were too lemony.

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The second one I made was Rockfish Piccata with Sautéed Spinach, Israeli Couscous, and Lemon Caper Sauce. We both liked it all, and since I don’t like fish much I was surprised that my favorite thing was the fish.

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I like that they include prep and total time to prepare, allergy alerts, cooking level, and nutritional values. As far as I can tell for the classic 5 day plan, they give you six different recipes a week, and you get to choose the five you want.

Giveaway:
I have two codes, one each for two winners, for a free box of Hello Fresh. If you’d like to try a box, leave your email info in a comment below. In a few days I’ll pick two of you and email you the code for the free box.

 

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Sep 212016
 

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My son Anthony brought this tiny kitty home because they found 4 of them abandoned where he works. The other three were taken home by his co-workers, so they all have homes. Although I didn’t want another animal, she has grown on me, especially since we have to bottle feed her. Isn’t she cute?

ABC Wednesday

Sep 212016
 

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1. Thursday (September 22) is the first official day of autumn in this part of the world…how will you welcome the season? I know some of you have been celebrating way too early, but it’s official now so permission granted. House Beautiful recently listed ten ways to make your home smell like fall (you can read the list here) What’s a scent you love this time of year and how will you add it to your home?
I don’t really change anything when autumn comes because our weather is pretty much the same all year round and we don’t really have changing leaves. I do like to ride my bike more since it’s not so humid. To make the house smell like fall I melt scented wax cubes, and love cinnamon, apple and pumpkin. I also burn incense.

2. Apple pie or pumpkin pie? Apple cake or pumpkin bread? Warm apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte?
Pumpkin pie, both apple and pumpkin cake, neither

3. Do you suffer from what is sometimes referred to as an afternoon slump? What helps ward it off before it hits and/or tell us what helps you shake it off once it’s here?
Sometimes I do, and what helps me is to simply get up and move around.

4. Ladies-how have your friendships with women inspired you or made you a better person? For the men here today- how have your friendships with men inspired you or made you a better person?
Friendships are very important, and they’ve shown me that true friends will be there for you no matter what, and that inspires me to do the same. I’m still friends with girls I met in elementary, jr. high, and high school. We’ve helped each other through loss of parents, boyfriends, husbands, children, divorce, and so much more.One of my lifelong friends from Ohio is coming to visit me the end of Oct. We try to get together every year or so. I can’t wait to see her again.
I used to be a big people pleaser, but the older I get the more I’ve realized that sometimes it has to be about me.

6. The seasons are a-changin’…share a favorite song relating in some way to change (not necessarily seasonal change, it could be change of any kind).
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

7. What do you wish would never change?
Nothing, change is good

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I love this quote:

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Sep 202016
 

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Ham, Turkey, & Sharp Cheddar Panini
2 slices bread
2-4 slices each of ham and turkey
1-2 slices deli sharp cheddar cheese
butter

Butter one side of each of the bread slices
Place one piece of bread butter side down on a panini press
Layer the ham, turkey and cheese on top of the bread
Top with the other bread, butter side up
Close the Panini press and let grill until bread is golden brown

I enjoy a good Panini once in a while, and this is a good one for when you don’t have a tomato or avocado on hand. I definitely would have added them if I’d had some, but this was still a yummy Panini. Sometimes it’s good to go simple.

 

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Souper Sundays is hosted @ Kahakai Kitchen
Sep 202016
 

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I’m still loving my job, but it sure can make my wrists, hands, and shoulders ache. I think I need to buy some pain relieving gel.

Here are the steps from the last week:
Tuesday~ 8/13: 7,653 steps
Wednesday~ 8/14: didn’t work/didn’t track
Thursday ~ 8/15: 8,160 steps
Friday ~ 8/16: 6,823 steps
Saturday ~ 8/17: 7,284 steps
Sunday ~ 8/18: 6,788 steps
Monday ~ 8/19: 7,415 steps

Last week I did 12 hours of strength training and other cardio. Still no yoga or tai-chi :(

Eating is a mix of healthy and non-healthy. I haven’t been tracking my water very good, so I need to work on that this week too.

Sep 142016
 

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1. What’s changed in your life, home, or community since your last birthday?
My son rescued an abandoned kitty a few days ago. She isn’t even weened yet. Our cat Boots who we’ve had for 7 years (since she was 8 weeks old) is not a fan. She wants nothing to do with the kitty. My dog Kaiyo is a little more accepting.

2. September is Classical Music Month. Do you like/listen to classical music? If so what’s a favorite piece and/or who is a favorite composer?
I don’t listen to classical music, although I should since it’s supposed to have a calming effect.

3. Besides The Bible, what’s a book that has positively changed your life, relationships, career, or perspective? How so?
There are three books that I’ve never gotten out of my head. The first was a book I had to read in Jr. High. It was Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Even after all these years I remember that book like I just read it. It gave me a huge respect for anyone in the military. The second book is Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. It opened my eyes that not everyone had loving parents like I did, and that there are children who suffer painfully at the hand of their own mom/da. The third is Zoya by Danielle Steele. It made me grateful that I live in America.

4. I read (here) these ten hobbies will make you smarter…play a musical instrument, read voraciously, meditate regularly, work out your brain (puzzles, sudoku, board games, etc), exercise often, learn a new language, write your feelings down (blog, journal, just write), travel to new places, cook different kinds of meals, participate in sports actively
Are any on this list your current hobbies? Which hobby on the list would you be most inclined to try?
I love to read, meditate, do puzzles, sudoku, board games, excercise, travel, experiment with new recipes. The one thing I’d love to do that I haven’t followed through with is to learn Spanish. I’ve started a few times but always get sidetracked by something else. I need to make it a priority.

5. What sports traditions does your family have?
My oldest son and grandson are big into Jiu-Jitsu, so that’s what I’m interested in now.

6. In a few words, weigh in on the current football/National Anthem brouhaha. Keep it family friendly please.
Shameful, anti-American.

7. Where do you have loads of patience, and where do you most lack patience?
I have a lot of patience with my loved ones, but not with something that doesn’t work/go the way it’s supposed to.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I love lighthouses. I love visiting them, especially if I can climb to the top, and I have a huge collection of them. So here is my lighthouse fact for this day in history:
1716- 1st lighthouse in American colonies lit (Boston Harbor)

Sep 132016
 

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Here are the steps from the last week:
Tuesday~ 8/06: didn’t work/didn’t track
Wednesday~ 8/07: didn’t work/didn’t track
Thursday ~ 8/08: 7,363 steps
Friday ~ 8/09: 9,045 steps
Saturday ~ 8/10: 7,455 steps
Sunday ~ 8/11: didn’t work/didn’t track
Monday ~ 8/12: 8,753 steps

I also did 2 1/2 hours of strength training and other cardio on the days that I worked.

Sep 132016
 

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The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1503936074
ISBN-13: 978-1503936072

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

Thoughts
Each chapter is told from alternating characters point of views, but it’s not hard to keep them straight because a few of their names are really unusual like Bryte, Zell, Cailey, and Jencey, and the others were names that weren’t are familiar, but not so popular, like Everett and Lance.

I love chapters that are short because it makes it easier to stop when you need to do something else, and this book had shorter chapters. The book is a quick read at only 288 pages, and I liked that too. It may be short, but it’s packed full of a lot of story and emotions.

It’s hard for me to say much more without giving away a few things, so I’ll just say that this is a great story, and I would highly recommend it.

Connect with Marybeth

Website | She Reads | Facebook | Twitter

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Sep 102016
 
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This article showed up in my email and I thought it was worth sharing. I think anyone who cooks has burnt a pan or two over the years.
Here’s the link to the article @ Apatrtment Therapy. I don’t live in an apartment, but since I’m moving to a house that’s only about 800 sq. ft., I subscribed to this because they have all kinds of information for living in a smaller place.

 

What You Need:
1 cup of vinegar
2 tablespoons of baking soda
1 cup of water (give or take depending on the size of your pan)
A burnt stainless steel pan that was left empty and unattended on a heated hot plate. oops!.
A scourer, because I can’t find any way to avoid it entirely

1. Fill the bottom of the pan with a layer of water.

2. Add the vinegar.

3. Bring the pan to the boil. It should be looking a bit cleaner already.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. Expect fizz!

5. Empty the pan and scour as normal; if necessary add an extra bit of dry baking soda.

6. If there are any super stubborn marks that don’t come off with scouring, make a paste of baking soda and a couple of drops of water. Leave the paste on the marks for a while and return to clean as normal.

7. Ta-da! Now you can put your feet up and enjoy the many hours you saved yourself standing over the sink.

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads
Sep 082016
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

 

Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman
28594365 A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

 

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
24323739 Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with Southern Oral Tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.

These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter. “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”

Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.

The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.
 

Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman
28818826 Bertrand Court is a captivating novel told in story form, intertwining seventeen luminous narratives about the secrets of a cast of politicos, filmmakers, and housewives, all tied to a suburban Washington, DC, cul-de-sac. Linked through bloodlines and grocery lines, they respond to life’s bruises by grabbing power, sex, or the family silver. As they atone and forgive, they unmask the love and truth that hop white picket fences.

Sep 082016
 

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Lowcountry Stranger by Ashley Farley

Series: Sweeney Sisters Series
Paperback: 282 pages
Publisher: Leisure Time Books; 1 edition (May 28, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0986167266
ISBN-13: 978-0986167263

There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.

The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year- old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity.

Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

 

Thoughts
I love books about friends and/or families, and this book was a wonderful read. Jackie, Sam, Faith and Lovie were great characters as were all the characters in the book. There’s a lot of different aspects to this book and it keeps your interest until the end.

This is the 2nd book in the series, and I think you should read the first book first. This is a short book, but it’s packed full of family drama and will still be with you long after you read the last sentence.

 

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Purchase Links

Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Ashley Farley

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

Ashley loves to hear from her readers. Feel free to visit her on Facebook or Twitter.

Visit her website

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Sep 072016
 

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Beach Blues by Joanne DeMaio

Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 17, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1532874693
ISBN-13: 978-1532874697

Celia Gray finds herself house-sitting a silver-shingled cottage at Stony Point. She arrives with her guitar, a few staging jobs … and a bit of summertime sadness. That is, until an unforgettable group of beach friends draws her in like a breath of salt air.

Sal DeLuca heard the words in a dream: Take me to the sea. So after a decade of demanding work, he takes his first vacation in years. Trading in his suit and tie for blue jeans and boat shoes, Sal unexpectedly arrives at his mother’s shabby inn on the Connecticut shore, winding his way into the lives and hearts of the close-knit beach community.

When Stony Point’s two wash-ashores, Sal and Celia, meet, some say it’s a match made in beach-heaven. And so begins a sweet seaside summer … forging friendships, adventures and new love. But all is not at ease in the gentle sea breeze as a dark secret turns the tide for the Stony Point crew.

Beach Blues is a novel bringing you right to its secluded fishing shack and weathered boardwalk, to its wooden rowboat and lantern-lit porches. A novel that welcomes you, as much as it may break your heart.

Thoughts
This book is a more emotional read than the author’s previous books. There’s love, loss, secrets, humor, suspense, romance and much more. It has characters from previous books, and some new ones too.

I love the cover, and the descriptive writing makes you feel as if you are right there in Stony Point with Celia, Sal, and the rest of the gang. I loved reading about the sea, bungalows/cottages, boardwalks, sea gulls and everything else to do with being at the beach. The story line will keep you turning pages, the story flows easily even through the sad parts.  The book was a bit longer than what I usually read, but when it ended, I wanted more.

This book is excellent!

This is DeMaio’s 7th book. I’ve read them all, loved them, and would 100% recommend each of them. I can’t wait to read the next book, Wishing on Snowflakes, which has an expected publication date of October 4th.

Many many thanks to the author and her publicist Mary for sending me a copy of this book  and for their patience in waiting for my review.

Sep 062016
 

I’ve loved incense since I was a teenager. I’ve bought so many different burners and packs of incense over the last 40 years, and still buy them. I love that there are so many different types of smells. I love finding a different, new to me burner.

A bit of info about incense:
In the Revelation of John, incense symbolizes the prayers of the saints in heaven – the “golden bowl full of incense” are “the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8, cf. Revelation 8:3) which infuse upwards towards the altar of God.

Incense is used for a variety of purposes, including the ceremonies of religion, to overcome bad smells, repel insects, spirituality, aromatherapy, meditation, and for simple pleasure. It has been used successfully to alleviate respiratory illnesses, muscle tension, rheumatism, pain, and insomnia.

The two most common forms of incense are a stick or cone shape. I prefer the stick.

Here is a photo of my most recent burner purchase. It holds both a stick (in the flower) or a cone.

purple incense burner

Do you burn incense?

ABC Wednesday