Thursday, 23 February 2017

Product Review - Microwave Egg Cooker - Pampered Chef

Microwave Egg Cooker
Pampered Chef
Item Number: 1372

Sometimes you just come across a product that is just so great you keep telling people about it. That is how I feel about the Pampered Chef Microwave Egg Maker. I love eggs, almost any way. But I have not made poached eggs since I lived with my parents and we had a special pot that could be used just for poaching eggs. Now to be honest we a have a number, maybe even a large number of Pamper Chef products, but we do not sell it. In fact we have about 15 stones and bakers. But other than the bar pans this product has been used more often since we got it than any of the others.

I have had this for about a month now. For the first week I used it every day. It does exactly what it says it will do. Perfect poached eggs, excellent round fried eggs for sandwiches, great scrambled eggs. Now to be honest it was much bigger than I expected. It is 12 inches long. You can cook 1 or 2 eggs per well at a time. I found that poaching is best just to do one. But scrambled or friend two come out perfect. You can make breakfast sandwiches with meat and melted cheese in about 3 minutes.

This is one of those gifts that will be used over and over again. If you love eggs, it is quick, easy and clean-up is fast as well. This is one of those products that I would state is excellent value for the money.

There are even recipes to make cakes, whoopie pies and other fun deserts using this tool featured on their site.

One of my favourite breakfasts the kids call fire eggs. Scrambled eggs open face on toast, then covered in franks hot sauce so the whole thing is red. With this tool prep and clean-up is super easy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

20 Answers - Mary - Tim Staples - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 13

20 Answers - Mary
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 13
Tim Staples
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663684

This is the first book in this amazing series that I have read. This series comprises 20 Books, 20 Topics, and 20 Questions on different aspects of Catholicism or Catholic answers to other religions. I recently read a challenge to read all 20 books in this series over lent. I was originally planning on reading them over a year, but after reading this volume I am up for the challenge. To read them all over lent would be about 25 pages of reading a day. But let's take a look at this specific book, Tim Staples book about Mary.

I have read a number of books on Mary over the years but this short concise volume has a lot of great information. It has information for Catholics to better understand theology surrounding our Mother. It has the answers to key questions that protestants raise regarding Mary and her role in salvation history. Tim Staples as a convert has a very different view of Mary then many cradle Catholics or even those who have come home to the Catholic Church. For Tim started out completely opposed to Mary specifically, and Catholicism in general, but in studying theology to refute Catholicism was convinced of the validity and converted.

The chapters and topics that Tim tackles in this book are:
1. Who is "Mary of Nazareth"?
2. What is the Immaculate Conception?
3. How could a mother be a virgin?
4. What is the Assumption of Mary, and what is the biblical evidence for it?
5. What does it mean to say that Mary is "Mediatrix"?
6. What does it mean to call Mary "co-redemptrix"? Isn't Jesus alone the Redeemer of the world?
7. Is there a queen in the kingdom of heaven?
8. How can God have a mother?
9. How can Mary be without sin?
10. If Jesus had "brothers," wouldn't that mean that Mary had other children?
11. What other arguments do Protestants make against the perpetual virginity of Mary?
12. Doesn't the Bible condemn the idea that Mary was assumed into heaven?
13. Doesn't the Bible condemn the idea of a "Queen of Heaven"?
14. How can Mary hear and answer our prayers in heaven?
15. Isn't it blasphemous to say Mary "redeems" or "saves" us?
16. What did the Fathers of the Church say about Mary?
17. Does the bible condemn praying to Mary?
18. But didn't Jesus condemn "repetitious prayers" like the rosary?
19. How do you know alleged "apparitions" of Mary are of God?
20. Why do I need to have a relationship with Mary?

Tim draws his answers predominately from scriptures, then from the Catechism, and also church history. He also draws heavily from early sources. He also dives into the Greek and Aramaic meanings of words and how they came to be translated or used the way they were.

This book was eye opening and as I mentioned I have read a number of books on Mary over the years. And I love that with the size of this book I can go back and reread it quickly as a refresher any time I want or need. This was an incredible little book, and I really look forward to reading the rest of the 20 Answers series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

20 Answers Series:

20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll

Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

My Home Parish - Saint Agnes Waterloo, ON

This is my home parish, Saint Agnes Waterloo, Ontario.

This short video is pictures every time I went to mass from November 13th 2016-February 19th 2017. I Plan on doing another at the beginning of Advent with a full year of Sundays.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Skill of Our Hands - Steven Brust and Skyler White - The Incrementalist Book 2

The Skill of Our Hands 
The Incrementalist Book 2
Steven Brust and Skyler White
ISBN 9780765382887
eISBN 9781466889736

I have been a fan of Brust's writing since I first started buying my own books. One of the things I love most about reading Steven Brust is you never know where he might take a story. And this one began in a way I really did not expect. Having love the first book The Incrementalists and both of the short stories set in this world, I can state I did not expect such a shakeup, or change in format. For The Incrementalists was told in alternating first person chapters. 

One thing that remains consistent through the majority of Brust's works is that he moves fast, throw curves at the readers, and is always willing to upturn the table. And he does all of that in the first few paragraphs of this book.

The Incrementalists, a secret society of around 200 people worldwide, have found a way to cheat death. They have found a way to transfer their memories into a recipient, and to remember their pervious lives. And they hope and try to use that skill and that experience to try and make things better. Now better is a nebulous word, and sometimes the group does not always have the same ideas of which way they should try and shape or influence things. 

This story begins with Phil being shot, actually being shot three times in the back. As his body is dying he is trying to save some memories in the garden for the other Incrementalists to use and to save his last memories. And soon the core leadership team of the Incrementalists are gathering in Arizona to find a replacement for Phil and get a handle on what he was working on. For they have realized that he was working on something to do with immigration, vigilante's and a militarized police force. (Sound familiar?)

This book was a race from the first page until I had finished it. It was a little hard getting comfortable with the new format. I really like the alternating chapters told in Phil and Ren's voice from book one. It also made it harder to know who wrote which parts of the book Brust of White. There is a saying that the sins of the father will visit the sons, in this book we must determine if Phil's sins of the past are being repeated now. And it comes down to a question of is it ok to kill?

 This book deals with a number of very serious issues the world faces today. But it does do in a fictional story that helps you to look at some of the issues from different angles. Yet with that being said it is a still a great piece of fiction. And really leaves the readers wondering where White and Brust will go next if there is a book three. If you are into speculative fiction this book and series will be great reads so give them a try.

Books by Steven Brust:
Vlad Taltos Publishing Order:

Jhereg (1983)
Yendi (1984)
Teckla (1987)
Taltos (1988)
Phoenix (1990)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Dragon (1998)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Jhegaala (2008)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa (2011)
Hawk (2014)
Vallista (TBD)

Vlad Taltos: Chronological Order:
Taltos (1988)
Dragon, main chapters (1998)
Yendi (1984)
Dragon, interludes (1998)
Tiassa, section 1 (2011)
Jhereg (1983)
Teckla (1987)
Phoenix (1990)
Jhegaala (2008)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Tiassa, section 2 (2011)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa, section 3 (2011)
Hawk (2014)

The Khaavren Romances:
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Five Hundred Years After (1994)
The Viscount of Adrilankha, published in three volumes:
The Paths of the Dead (2002)
The Lord of Castle Black (2003)
Sethra Lavode (2004)

Other Books:
Brokedown Palace (1986)
To Reign in Hell (1984)
The Sun, the Moon & the Stars (1987)
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (1990)
Agyar (1993)
My Own Kind of Freedom (2008)

Co Written:
The Gypsy (1992) with Megan Lindholm
Freedom & Necessity (1997) with Emma Bull

Incrementalist (with Skyler White):
The Incrementalists
The Skill of our Hands

Incrementalist Short Stories
Fireworks in the Rain - Steven Brust
Strongest Conjuration - Skyler White

Short Stories:
An Act of Contrition - Liavek (1985)
An Act of Trust - Liavek: The Players of Luck (1986)
A Dream of Passion - in the convention chapbook for Ad Astra (1986)
An Act of Mercy - Liavek: Wizard's Row (1987, with Megan Lindholm)
An Act of Love - Liavek: Spells of Binding (1988, with Gregory Frost and Megan Lindholm)
Csucskári - Excerpt from The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: First Annual Collection (1988)
A Hot Night at Cheeky's - Liavek: Festival Week (1990)
Looking Forward: Excerpt from Athyra in Amazing Stories, March (1993)
Attention Shoppers - Xanadu (1993)
Abduction from the Harem - in Timewalker Issue 14 (October 1996)
Drift - Space Opera (1996)
Valóság and Élet - in Sandman: Book of Dreams (1996)
Calling Pittsburgh - in Lord of the Fantastic: Stories in Honor of Roger Zelazny (1998)
When the Bow Breaks - The Essential Bordertown (1998)
The Man From Shemhaza - in Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune (2004), reprinted in Year's Best Fantasy 5 (2005)
Klava with Honey - Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #4 (2005)
Chapter One - in Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #6 (2007)
The Desecrator - on tor.com (2011)
Fireworks in the Rain - on tor.com (2013)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent
St. Francis de Sales
TAN Books
ISBN 9780895552600

Over the last few years I have been reading more and more by and about St. Francis de Sales. This volume the third in this series of collected sermons focuses on Lend. These specific sermons in this collection were given in the year 1622. This series was originally published in 1987 and the eBook editions were released in 2015.

The topics for these specific sermons are:

 1. Fasting
 2. Temptation
 3. Faith
 4. Eternal Happiness
 5. Election and Reprobation
 6. Mutual Charity
 7. Proper Conduct in Illness
 8. God's Spiritual Providence
 9. Proper Fear of Death
10. Hearing the Word of God
11. Humility and Obedience
12. The Passion of our Lord and What It Means

These sermons were compiled from the Saints working notes, tests. And this collection highlights the Saints dedication as a Bishop to preach. We see his preaching style, and the sound presentation of theological truths. As a Bishop St. Francis de Sales preached 20 series over lent, and those in this collection were given to cloistered religious. But any reader today will see their value and how applicable they are to the life of any Christian. And this collection was taken from and translated from the Annecy edition of his sermons volume X.

In the introduction Rev. John A. Abruzzese, S.T.D. states: "The Lenten sermons which follow, translated by the Visitation Sisters and edited by Fr. Lewis Fiorelli, O.S.F.S., were obviously meant to be heard, not read. Therefore, a great part of St. Francis' "heart to heart" preaching which made them so effective is undeniably and regrettably lacking. However, the fact that these sermons result from the loving efforts of persons intimately living St. Francis de Sales' spirit, as his spiritual sons and daughters, can be perceived as something issuing from his own heart. If it were not for their labor of love, very few indeed would have even this opportunity of experiencing the personal charism of the saint." SO I took his words to heard and worked through this book twice. The first time I read through the book. The second time I used text to speech in the Kindle application to listen to the sermons. When reading the sermons there was an immediate impact, but when I took time and listened to the same sermon, I found it even more impactful. A few of the sermons I went back and listened to a second time after about a week because of the impact it had on me.

A few quotes from the sermon on Fasting  as samples of some of what you will encounter in this book.

"To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner."

"The first condition is that we must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely."

"It is thus reasonable that, in order to make our fast complete and meritorious, it should be universal, that is to say, practiced in both body and spirit. This is the first condition to be observed in order to fast well. The second condition is never to fast through vanity but always through humility."

This book was a wonderful read. It challenged me personally and I know it will do the same for you. I am thankful for having read and to be slowly applying the lessons from this Saint and Doctor of the church. And I look forward to the other three volumes in this series. I highly recommend this book and the series of 4.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Sign of the Cross
The Art of Loving God
Roses Among Thorns
Finding God's Will for You

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales:
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas