Saturday, 24 June 2017

Product Review - Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea

Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea
Pure Leaf

I have had a few of the Pure Leaf Iced Teas over the years so when I had a chance to try some of their bagged tea, I was very excited. The excitement did not last. The first time I tried this tea it was so weak it had next to no flavour at all. The second time I steeped it for twice the recommended length of time, with almost no improvement. The third time I double bagged for a single mug and it made a pretty good cup of tea. I experimented and to get a nice strong flavourful cup of tea I had to use 4 oz of water and steep a long time for a single bag to be effective. With either very little water or double bagging it makes a fairly nice chai, but that makes it almost $1 a mug. So I would not likely buy the bags again, but I might try the loose leaf.  I had this experience with both the Chai and Vanilla Black.

This Tea is made from black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chicory root, pink peppercorns, cloves, black peppercorns and marigold petals. It has a nice scent. But just too weak a portion in the bags for me to recommend them.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Why We're Catholic Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn

Why We're Catholic:
Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570240
eISBN 9781683570264

I read this book right after reading Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too) by Brandon Vogt. In some ways there is a number of similarities, and both speak specifically about the example of Saint Damien of Molokai. This was also the 10th book by Trent Horn that I have read this year. With each of his books that I read I am more impressed with his writing, his faith, his knowledge and his love of sharing these three things. Now having read a number of his books in such a short time, there were a number of times where I felt like I had read this passage before. He uses some of the same examples or arguments as his other books. But to be honest this book was a wonderful read.

The chapters in this book are:
Introduction: Why We Believe . . . Anything
1. Why We Believe in Truth
2. Why We Believe in Science
3. Why We Believe in a Creator
4. Why We Believe in God
5. Why We Believe God Conquers Evil
6. Why We Believe in Jesus
7. Why We Believe in the Resurrection
8. Why We Believe in the Trinity
9. Why We Believe in the Bible
10. Why We Aren't Bible-Only Christians
11. Why We Belong to the Catholic Church
12. Why We Have a Pope
13. Why We Have Priests
14. Why We Go to Mass
15. Why We Baptize Babies
16. Why We Believe in Spite of Scandal
17. Why We Believe that Faith Works Through Love
18. Why We Believe in Purgatory
19. Why We Pray to the Saints
20. Why We Honor Mary
21. Why We Protect Life
22. Why We Cherish Our Sexuality
23. Why We Defend Marriage
24. Why We Believe There's a Hell
25.Why We Hope for Heaven
How to Become Catholic
How to Go to Confession
Common Catholic Prayers

Two sections in the book immediately struck a chord with me; first the section on Saint Damien or Molokai, of whom I have been reading about and researching for over a decade now. And second Father Emil Kapaun, whom I only discovered last year. Both of these men have inspired me and finding them both called out as examples in this book hit me. But let's go back to the beginning, in the introduction Trent states:

"I don't look at people who've left the Catholic Church or who aren't Catholic as potential "customers." They're just people. They have things they love and things they hate. They may differ from me in lots of ways, but they almost certainly have one thing in common with me: they don't want to be ignorant and they do want to be happy. I became Catholic in high school because 1) I thought it was true, and 2) finding answers to my deepest questions about existence and purpose made me happy.
It would be selfish of me to keep to myself the peace and joy I receive from being Catholic, so I share this "good news" with others. My aim in this book is simple: to explain why Catholics believe what they believe. I haven't given every explanation I can think of, because most people aren't in a rush to read a book that is so thick it can double as a step stool. Instead, I've presented the reasons that made the biggest impact on me during my conversion to the Catholic faith."
This book is designed to strengthen your faith, and help you be able to explain it and defend it. It is not all encompassing but it does a great job of covering many of the basics. Throughout the book there are 'side boxes' pieces that explain deeper, or give examples of what is being talked about in that section of the book. Another great feature is that each chapter ends with three or more bullet points reinforcing what Catholics believe from the topic of that specific chapter. One of the most powerful side boxes is:


  • Calvary Chapel, 1965: Chuck Smith
  • Mormon church, 1830: Joseph Smith
  • Disciples of Christ, 1809: Thomas Campbell
  • Baptist church, 1609: John Smyth
  • Presbyterian church, 1560: John Knox
  • Calvinist church, 1536: John Calvin
  • Lutheran church, 1517: Martin Luther
  • Eastern Orthodox church, 1054: Eastern Patriarchs
  • Catholic Church, 33: Jesus Christ
And at the end of the book is a mini prayer book of common prayers. These eight prayers are the basis of so many popular Catholic devotions, or parts of a plan of life. And then there is an extensive section of end notes with quotes, and sources to go deeper.

I have read just shy of 200 books so far this year, of those 200, 105 were Catholic and this is one of the best out of all of that reading. Another incredible book from Catholic Answers, and written by Trent Horn. Pick it up you will be challenged, become more firmly rooted and prepared to answer hard questions about your faith!

Books by Trent Horn:

20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn

Other Books:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity
The Mystery of God Study Guide
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love

Books Co-Authored by Trent Horn:
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue (with Fr Frank Pavone)
From Creation to Catholicism: The Story of Salvation History (with Patrick Coffin)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Product Review - Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll

Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll

With three children 10 and under we have been through our share of strollers. Between strollers we have owned, used with our friends children before we had our own and now with friends beginning to have their own children. In that time we have had a couple of high end strollers, but to be honest nothing we have used compared to the Chariot Lite from Thule.

We got this in order to review it, and for friends who are expecting their first child. From opening the box to having it fully together was under 5 minutes. To assemble and take down this stroller was easier and felt sturdier than any I have used before. This model weighs 12Kg, for the whole stroller, but the main body with no wheels or attachments is only 7.4Kg. After setting it up, we tried it on various terrains. When we gave it to the expectant parents they were thrilled, after showing them the features, it was assembled and taken down a number of times.  It also collapses so nicely it fits even in small cars. It is very compact when the wheels are off and it locks in the collapsed position.

The Top Five Features of this Stroller:
1.    Double locking wheels.
2.    Out of the box comes with stroller and bike kits
3.    High quality construction
4.    Easy to set up and take down
5.    Great Value for the quality

Now let’s look at each of those in a little more detail.

1.   Double locking wheels.

This feature really impressed me; there is a cable lock that when you lock one wheel it automatically locks the other back wheel. This is a great feature for safety. And also ease of access. It is a pin locking system not just pressure lock pressed against the wheel. When you engage the lock, pins extend from the hubs and actually engage both wheels making them immobile.

2.   Out of the box comes with stroller and bike kits.

Most strollers we have owned or even looked at, you buy the stroller and then everything else is an add on. It is fantastic that you get two of the most popular kits right out of the box and there are three others available as well. And the stroller wheels click in when in bike mode so it can be used to ride somewhere and then as a stroller.

3.   High Quality Construction.

Overall I believe this is one of the most soundly constructed strollers I have ever used. I was very impressed with the materials and functionality.

4.   Easy to set up and take down.

My 10 year old could put this together and take it apart. But the wheels or bike add-on lock into place so easily and so securely. Great for a busy parent with their hands full or loading the car to head out.

5.   Great Value for the quality.

There are strollers on the market both a lot cheaper or a lot more expensive than this one. To be honest it is in the top of the middle third for price range. But considering how well made and how easy it is to use, I consider it more than worth the cost. Better to invest in something good that will last and you can sell or pass on when you are done, than to get something cheaper and end up replacing it before the first child has outgrown it.

The other add-ons that are available currently for this model are:

Thule Infant Sling-Cross/Lite
Thule Chariot Jog Kit 1-Lite/Cross
Thule Cross Country Skiing and Hiking Kit

Overall this is an amazing product and I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Courageous Faith - Lillian M Fisher - Encounter the Saints Series

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: 
Courageous Faith
Encounter the Saints Series
Lillian M Fisher
Barbara Kiwak (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9781306806428

eISBN 9780819872852

This is the 11th book in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media that I have read this spring. It was also the second book on Saint Kateri Tekakwitha that I read back to back, the other a fictional story by Lisa Hendey, The Sign of the Carved Cross, Chime Travelers Book 2, led to our reading this book now. After reading Hendey’s book about a young girl who goes back in time and interacts with this Saint my oldest and I wanted to know more about her. Therefore this book jumped to the top of our reading list. And we are both so thankful that it did.

This book had a huge impact on my daughter and I for a number of reasons. First it is about a saint who died young. St. Kateri was only 24 when she passed away. Second was the Canadian connection, when Kateri was traveling to the settlement in Montreal, my daughter became very excited. And my daughter was also really excited about a young woman of deep faith. Also I can relate to a family that is not encouraging or supportive of a committed faith. We devoured this book, we each said more than once 1 more chapter and could just not put the book down. 

The example of love and service that Saint Kateri Tekakwitha lived is incredibly inspiring. He hunger and thirst for God and relationship is impressive. Her commitment to serving is an example to all of us. This story chronicles her life, from her mother’s capture by the Mohawks for she was an Algonquin; to her death and transformation at her time of death. This young girl lost her parents, her sibling, and lived the house of her uncle. She was not treated well in that situation because of her poor eyesight, and she was treated harshly. Once she came to express her faith this situation even worsened. But she loved Jesus and her faith more than the persecutions she experienced. She was a quick learner and loved learning about the Catholic faith and loved teaching about it also. Her greatest love was Jesus, and he life is an example to all of us.    

This book is a little different than others in the series that I have read to date. It is adapted from another book, currently available as Kateri Tekakwitha by Lilian M. Fisher, but originally published as Kateri Tekakwitha: The Lily of the Mohawks from the Saints and Holy People series. The book was adapted for children by Emily Beata Marsh and Jaymie Stuart Wolfe. Emily wrote one of the other books in this series, and Jaymie has written numerous books But reading it you cannot tell that it is a modified or abridged and edited version of another book. 

This book was the 31st book released in the Encounter the Saints Series, and this series is marketed for tweens geared for 9-12 year old readers. But I am finding that it is an excellent series for even younger children, if it is read to them, and that each book has challenged and motivated me and my faith and I am pushing 50. This book was an incredible read, and it is part of an amazing series. I highly recommend both the book and the series, I am sure that as you read the examples of these saints will inspire you to grow your own faith. A wonderful read.

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

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux The Way of Love
Saint Thomas Aquinas Missionary of Truth
Saint Thomas More Courage, Conscience, and the King
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima
The Saints Pray for Us

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Single Bead - Stephanie Engelman

A Single Bead
Stephanie Engelman
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819890542
eISBN 9780819890573

This book took me completely by surprise. It is a wonderfully written story. I really did not know anything about the book other than that it was on a recommended list. The list highlighted 30 Catholic YA books in 30 days.  I first say this list posted by Susan Peek, she posted a list of Catholic Teen Fiction a day for June, I believe that the list originally comes from Theresa Linden. Of the 30 books in the list I have already read and reviewed over half. And have picked up a few more. But to be honest I was drawn to this book. All I had put together was that it was about a rosary in some way, shape or form.

This is a story that deals with faith, family, loss and mental health. That is a lot to pack into 208 pages but Engelman does it and does it well. I found that the writing especially around an extended family was very intriguing. I also really appreciated the parts of the story when one parent is not Catholic, but supportive of the family's faith and traditions. The book begins at a memorial service for the matriarch of the family. She had passed away the year before in a plane crash, and the family had gathered on the anniversary in the field the plan went down in. Katelyn Marie Roberts, who is 16, is struggling with the event, and the impact the last year has had on her family. She wanders off to the edge of the woods when the family decides to pray the rosary. She finds a small bead; it is a rosary bead from her grandma's rosary. She knows this because it has her initials on it.  And so begins the adventure. Soon Katelyn and her cousin Evelyn are trying to track down the beads.

And that is where it gets really interesting. They start hearing stories of miracles. Each person who found a bead or the person who they gave it to has had a miracle happen. A young girl healed from cancer, a man freed from addiction, a girl saved from a car accident. In each case a woman came and helped the person. But when Katelyn's mother finds out what they are doing and why, her depression gets worse, soon she needs to be hospitalised. This makes Katelyn desperate to find the bead with her mother's initials on it so she can experience a miracle again. But as in most of our lives things do not always go as planned.

This book is very well written. Before I had finished it I searched to see if the author had other books available. Unfortunately not yet! The weaving of faith, hope, hardships and family in this story makes the book hard to put down. I look forward to reading it with my oldest soon and my youngest when she is a little older. A wonderful faith filled Young Adult Story.

Books by Stephanie Engelman:
A Single Bead