March 5, 2015

  • IF IT'S MARCH ~~ CAN SPRING BE FAR BEHIND?

     

    Sorry for the sad look on this kitten's face.  I recently lost another of my late husband's siblings.  This makes 4 out of 5 brothers and 1 sister.  With the exception of my husband, all three of them died from Huntington's and ALS.   The family has been in a study because of the combination of diseases that seems to  have come from their mother's and grandmother's side of the family.  The latest brother passed away last Friday.  He had been ill for several years and finally his body had enough.  I'm going to the funeral home visitation this afternoon.

    I thought it might be appropriate to see what Sarah Ban Breathnach's SIMPLE ABUNDANCE BOOK might have to say on this date.

    She suggests creating some type of HOPE CHEST.   Back in the"day" many young women started a hope chest and filled it with linens and other items they wanted to use when they got married.  I never could afford one of those beautiful LANE hope chests.    As Sarah Ban Breathnach reminded me, we young girls all poured over those advertisements in SEVENTEEN magazine.

     

             

     

    But Sarah Ban Breathnach says if you are looking for  your authentic self, you can still create a "hope" chest of your own.  She used a big wicker basket filled with projects she wanted to do some day.  As she found lovely things that she wanted to use in her home, she put them inside.  Some people want to redecorate when their lives change due to a divorce or a loss of their partner.  I had our family room repainted and moved furniture around.  I put away most of my husband's collections and brought mine out to display.  I also had the kitchen floor replaced and had some wainscoting put on the walls.    On occasion, when I go to Goodwill, I find some little thing that I like and it is now on display too.

    I decided I wanted to try a new hobby this week.  I used to love to color when I was a child.  I just read an article that says that coloring is a very good way to relax.   I am going to look for some of those intricate designs and get some colored pencils to work on them.  Now that I am nearly done with my fourth book manuscript, I can color in the evenings to relax.

    Geometric Design Colouring Pictures Stained Glass Colouring Pages to Print and Colour - Chaos Star burst       Think how awesome this would be embroidered! Coloring page mandala - img 21902. 

    You can buy pages to color at an art store or you can just go online and print some off for free.

    So, I think you get the idea that Sarah Ban Breathnach was trying to convey.  "Not all of our desires can be immediately gratified.  We've got to learn to wait patiently for our dreams to come true, especially on the path we've chosen.  But while we wait, we need to prepare a place for our hopes and dreams.  Find something to put  your new treasures into and where you can look at them and dream about a brighter and happier future.   And for those of you who have daughters, maybe you will want to start a "hope chest" for them now."

     

    As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to get my latest manuscript into Createspace.  Editing is so much harder than writing the actual story.  I've submitted the manuscript several times.  When I convert it to a PDF file, sometimes it makes the words move around.  I have had some blank pages which Createspace does not accept.  Hopefully I finally got them all out today.  When it is accepted, I will have to proof it one more time because sometimes it also removes the spaces between the words!   Oh, it gets to be so annoying!  But I like my story and I am looking forward to

    having it up for sale very soon on Amazon.com.           

    The time in-between this post and my last gone so quickly.  More snow to remove from the driveway, the death of my brother-in-law,  keeping up with some issues with my computer and trying to read.

    21853633

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmothers-and-daughters

    Read in February, 2015

    I think that sometimes you have to be in the right mood to read some books. Apparently I was not in the mood for this novel. It's the story of the Waverley women in a small town. The women have a reputation for having special gifts. One of them is an excellent cook and decides to recreate some candy that her grandmother made years ago. It was rumored to have special abilities ~ rose flavored recalls lost love, lavender promotes happiness and lemon verbena soothes throats and minds. As the reputation of the candy gets more well known, Claire Waverley is caught up in the overwhelming success of her business and can't seem to find her own happiness. She has to abandon her real love of cooking to keep up with the candy orders.

     Sydney Waverley longs for a child with her new husband. Nothing seems to work out. She gets caught up in trying to help others. Her daughter, Bay, is in love with a high school friend and is trying to figure out where he fits into her life...or does he?Then there is the stranger who shows up in the town who appears to be looking for something. It's a light story and probably one most readers would enjoy. I just wasn't one of them.

    Apparently there is a book before this one titled GARDEN SPELLS. I've read that it was much better and explained how the Waverley women got to this point. Maybe if I read that book, I will feel differently.

    Here's the book description...
    Waverley Candy that soothes throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

    Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

    When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is... First Frost.

    Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

    And another reader's review...
    This was disappointing. While I don't expect much from women's fiction other than some pleasant escapism, this novel had me sighing in exasperation."First Frost" is the sixth book by Sarah Addison Allen that I have read, and it is one of her weakest. It is a sequel to "Garden Spells" and continues the story of the Waverley family in Bascom, North Carolina. All of the Waverley women have special gifts: Claire has magical culinary skills, Sydney has magical hair-styling skills, and her daughter, Bay, has magical organizing skills.

    I will pause here to say that all of Allen's novels contain some magical realism, with varying degrees of success. Her books also have some romance and Southern charm, which can be delightful. In the past I have enjoyed dipping into her stories when I needed a light read, but "First Frost" was too silly and just didn't gel.   I caught myself dreading picking up this book, which should never happen with a supposedly fun read.

    If you would like to try an Allen book, I recommend starting with "The Peach Keeper" or "Lost Lake."

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    bookshelves: familyhistorymothers-and-daughters

    Read in March, 2015

     

    I saw this book and thought it would be a great one to read. I loved GONE WITH THE WIND so I was sure that the story behind Mammy would be good. I have to say that I was disappointed in it. Not because of anything more than the writing style. I found it very difficult to get through. The language was very much like what I expect from that time. Very stilted and formal....which made a sharp contrast with the language of the slaves with mixtures of Creole, French, English and other languages tossed in with no explanation of what some of the words even meant. It was obvious that the slaves were not treated kindly as a rule. Many of them were cruelly handled. It was nothing to take away families, sell the black babies or the mothers and fathers without any hesitation.The book followed Ruth from a very young age throughout her life. She learned to be a mammy and took care of many babies and stayed with the same families for most of her life. Yet, she was often treated unkindly just like the other slaves. The last third of the book finally brought in the O'Haras and Tara and at the end, Scarlett is introduced to Rhett Butler.

    If you enjoy books about the Civil War and the slaves and plantation owners, you will enjoy this book. But remember that the wording is very difficult to get through.

    Here's the book description...
    Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

    What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

    Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.

    Here's another reader's review...
    Who can forget Scarlett O'Hara, Tara, and of course beloved Mammy. Ruth's Journey is a tale of Mammy.Mammy was born in the Caribbean Islands, was the only survivor of an attack on her household, and made her way to Savannah with the Forniers. As their "child" she was treated well, but was sold to another family.

    Mammy Ruth moves from one famous Southern family's ​home to another as we the reader follow her and find out what made Mammy the mammy she was. There are many happy situations, but there are also many sad ones.​ The O'Haras are mentioned throughout the book ​and,​ of course​,​ that is where ​Mammy ends up.

    RUTH'S JOURNEY was very well researched, but unfortunately difficult to follow and enjoy until the book was almost over.​

    I loved GONE WITH THE WIND, but RUTH'S JOURNEY had something to be desired. It didn't get interesting until way into the book, and most specifically not until Mammy got to Tara with the O'Haras. Visualizing Tara and hearing chararacters' names from GONE WITH THE WIND made the wait worthwhile.

    I enjoyed learning about Mammy, but RUTH'S JOURNEY wasn't a favorite read...it was a bit tedious even though the writing was outstanding.

    You will love Mammy Ruth and feel sorry for her, and ​you will love learning about ​her strong will​ and her love and loyalty for the people she cared for and ​kept her going on through all her many losses. Mammy Ruth was an interesting person, and a character​ everyone most likely loved and will never forget especially in her dealings with Scarlett.​

       

February 21, 2015

  • WHO ARE YOU????

    It's Saturday, February 21st.  Where has the month gone besides all the days of cold weather and snow and snow blowing and show shoveling and hibernating in the house?

    So again, I find myself turning to Sarah Ban Breathnach's SIMPLE ABUNDANCE for an idea of what to write about.

    Her essay for today is how to find the real YOU.

    For centuries, women have displayed their innate sense of style to the world in their personal appearance, in the way they decorate their homes, in how they entertain, in their work, and in the pursuit of their personal passions.  The more we learn about ourselves and our preferences, the easier it is to make those choices....and creative choice is at the heart of authenticity."

    "Choice means freedom--the freedom to embrace the new because it speaks to your soul and you are listening.  Today, consider   reviewing the choices you have made in the past as you trace your life.  Have those choices been the right ones?  Do you make choices with your mind, your heart or  your gut?  Are you comfortable with your choices or do you wish to try another approach?  Was there something you didn't try in the past that now, you wonder if it would make a difference in your life?"
    Perhaps a long buried dream still calls to you from a road you chose not to take.  Stop telling yourself that it is too late.  Take comfort in this quote by Faith Baldwin..."Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations."  The delay of dreams does not mean they have to be denied.  Maybe now you have the time or the wisdom to make changes in your dream so it might come true.  Have a dialogue with your authentic self.  Ask yourself about the choices you have made or didn't make.  Listen to  yourself.

    "One way to check in with yourself is to remember your bedroom as a child.  How was it decorated?  Did you like the colors?  Did  you keep it clean or was the door  usually kept closed so your parents wouldn't look in and complain?  Was your mother a good cook?  Did you help her or learn some of her special recipes?  Where did you go on vacation?   Can you remember the visits to your grandma's house?"

    What did you eat when you were sick to be comforted?  Does the smell of Vicks vapo-rub bring back happy memories ~~it does for me.

    Think about your teen years.  Who were your friends?  What was their style of dress?  Did you admire anyone special?  What did you wear to your prom?  What about your first home?  How did  you decorate it?  Do you still have some of those items?  Are you living with family hand-me-downs?  Do you REALLY love them?  "We usually think of the major events in our lives, when really it is the minor moments that resonate in our memory.  Think of one of those special memories today and relive it."

    My husband and I moved so many times during our marriage that we don't have much left of our first home furnishings.  We used to give away things when we replaced them with something else we preferred.  We had some garage sales too.  We downsized from a big house about 3 years ago and sold and gave away a lot of things.  Then when we moved here where I still live, we didn't have much space so many more things were donated to GoodWill or to friends.  When my husband passed away, I gave many of his clothes, tools and other items to family and friends.  I had no use for them and I wanted others to be able to enjoy the items.  I still have too much furniture but I am slowly making my home just for me.

    I sent in my book manuscript to CreateSpace last week and the proof book is on its way.  I know there is a serious editing going to be needed once I receive the proof book.  I may even add more to the story because it isn't as long as my other books have been.

    It's interesting how much my life has changed over the years,  going from a child to an adult, getting married at age 20, raising a child and being supportive of my husband's career, then working very hard on my own career, retiring and then going through the cancer that took my husband's life.  It all was worth it and I would even go through most of it again.  I might have done things differently if I had known what was coming.  Who knows?  Now I am slowly learning to change my life and embracing my own time.

    To go along with that idea, I read some books since I last posted.

     

    18492198

    bookshelves: familyfriends

    Read on February 17, 2015

    For a change of pace, I decided to check out this book. Lara Spencer is the co-host on Good Morning America and is also well known for her decorating style.   This book has 9 different rooms belonging to 8 different families and a small apt. of Lara's in New York City. She has plenty of photos of before and after. She talks about what she looks for at the flea markets. She shows photos of the items before and after they are redone. I liked nearly every room she redid. I would think with a crew that can wire, paint, construct, rebuild just about anything, it would make the task much easier... And apparently white paint is good for floors, furniture, cabinets and so on. It really does look great. I would love to have some of this done in my home.  Maybe I need to check out some flea markets myself this summer.

    Here's the book description...
    Focusing on nine different rooms (including her own recently purchased Manhattan apartment), Lara Spencer shows readers that all it takes is planning, shopping know-how, and a little imagination to create beautiful and comfortable homes that reflect their personal style. She takes readers through the step-by-step process of overcoming the challenges of the room, offering helpful tips and lessons along the way. She identi­fies the design dilemma; comes up with a decorat­ing plan; makes a mood board for inspiration; compiles a shopping list; scours flea markets for furniture and accessories that fit the bill; restores, repurposes, and reinvents the pieces she finds, giving them new life; and brings all the elements together in the gorgeous, finished space. With illuminating before, during, and after photographs of her DIY projects and the room installations, Lara demystifies the decorating process and allows readers to envision endless possibilities for what they can do in their own homes.
    And another reader's review...

    Anyone who loves a good flea market, looking at projects on Pinterest, or up-cycling different things will enjoy this book by Good Morning America's Lara Spencer. Lara walks you through updating different rooms in your house by using different vintage finds in miraculous ways. Along the way, she gives you tips and tricks to help you think about updating a space to utilize its full potential. I could feel my creative juices flowing as I read through the book. She has a lot of ideas I would like to try that aren't difficult to execute. Definitely check this out if you are a DIYer!

     

    1373381

    bookshelves: familyfriendshistorymarriage

    Read on February 19, 2015

    This story is about a group of Australian women who married military men during WWII. In 1946, about 650 brides were on an airplane carrier headed to England with the brides onboard. Four of the brides are the main characters in this story and the reader learns about the background and history of each of the four. As their 6 weeks of ocean travel continue, more information comes out until the ship finally arrives at its destination. Each story was unique and there were plenty of laughs and tears and misunderstandings along the way.

    Here's the book description...
    The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.
    And another reader's review...
    It’s the end of World War II and thousands of Australian women, War Brides, will be traveling to England to reunite with the men they married. Over 600 will not have the luxury of traveling on a ship like the Queen Mary with all of its amenities, but will make the six week journey on The Victoria, an aircraft carrier. The Victoria is ill suited as a vessel for women, outfitted for its crew of men and planes. The book focuses on four of the brides allowing us a window to their hopes, fears and dreams. These four along with the others are leaving all that they know, all who they know behind to start a new life on foreign shores. Even those madly in love wonder at the sanity of their decision. And what of those who mid-voyage receive a sort of Dear Jane letter, one stating You are not wanted, go home.What I really liked about  The Ship of Brides is how it made me think. I started to wonder about the women and ship the book is based on. How much fact, how much fiction? It took me on a new journey seeking answers. If you have any desire to know more about this slice of history three websites provided lots of information, the best being The National Archives of Australia. These also were worth scouting out HMS Victorious,Rootsweb Warbrides. In addition it brought me back to memories of the war and how it affected my family. I am a baby boomer who wishes I asked more questions about their experiences leading up to, during and after the war before I lost all those who could answer.  

    The Ship of Brides held my attention from start to finish. I have become a fan of JoJo Moyes all over again. I'm so glad I haven't read all her books yet. This is something to truly look forward to.
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    bookshelves: drama

    Read on February 21, 2015

     

    I put this book on my wish list with the local library. I thought I would enjoy looking at all the photographs. I realized when I got the book that the title told it all. The decorated rooms were based on novels...but they were all classic novels. Therefore, most of the decor was very old....cluttered and overdone. Not my idea of comfortable decor.If you enjoy Jane Austin and Charles Dickens and that type of novel, you may enjoy all these photographs. They were colorful and rich with plenty of information.

    The book description...
    For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.Lisa Giramonti inspires a new approach to decorating: by teaching us through the lens of worlds we may already know and love. With gorgeous photographs by World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, aspirational quotes, and tailored reading lists, Novel Interiors reveals the essence and details of interiors mentioned in great literary works. This is a stunning, photo-driven book that shares enchanting and timeless ways to live more elegantly

    Another reader's review...
    The premise for this book was promising. Unfortunately, the execution of the idea was passable at best.Don't get me wrong; the pictures were well-done and I even liked many of the tips that author gave. But the actual interior designs were just...meh. They weren't so off that you couldn't see how they might remind you of a certain genre of novel, but it wasn't what I was hoping for.

    I wanted a "Sense and Sensibility" room. A "Great Gatsby" room. A room completely inspired by a Charles Dickens book. Instead I got rooms that weren't hideous, but weren't breathtaking, either. They were just rooms- some appealing, some not so much- that the author tried to make seem novel-ish. A few of them were downright unattractive, but many of them were just shrug-worthy- not terrible, but not amazing, either.

    My favorite chapters were probably the first two; they reminded me of the types of books that they were supposed to, even if they didn't go quite as far in that direction as I wanted them to. The later chapters were not very much like my decorating style at all, and it was hard for me to appreciate them.

    ******

    Well, time to figure out what to make for dinner.  This is Netflix night and I have plenty of Dvds to watch too.

February 13, 2015

  • FRIDAY THE 13TH AND VALENTINE'S DAY

    Since it is Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day tomorrow, I decided to post a blog.   Yes, I know that makes no sense at all but it works for me!   I know I won't be doing anything special tomorrow.  The weather is cold and supposed to be snowy again.  I have done all my outside chores for now, got to the grocery store, filled the car with gas, went to the library so I plan on staying inside.

    I picked up my Sarah Ban Breathnach's book SIMPLE ABUNDANCE to see what she had to say about these dates...

    She started out with an essay about the last time we trusted our own selves.  She suggested finding a photo of ourself when we were about 10 years old.  Make sure you are smiling in it.  She believes that at the age 10, we most trust ourself.  Put the photo in a frame where you can see it every day. Try to travel back in time and think of what you were like at school, at home, with your friends....Where did you live?  What did your bedroom look like?  What did you like to wear?  Who were your friends? What did you like to play with friends and what did  you like to do alone?  Sarah Ban Breathnach says "age 10 was probably the last time you trusted your instincts.You didn't always listen to the opinions of your parents, especially your mother, or your sister or even your friends.  You knew just what you wanted to wear and whether the outfit was "you".  Try to connect with that girl now that she has grown up.   She is your authentic self and she's waiting to remind you how beautiful, accomplished and extraordinary you really are."

    For today, the 13th...Sarah Ban Breathnach says  "Take a deep breath and relax.  The reassuring news is that  you have not completely lived up to  your potential or you wouldn't be drawn to these words and essays.  You are still striving, still dreaming, still yearning and now still doing.  We are on an adventure that is sometimes a bit scary. One of the most important milestones we will learn on our path is that we have our own unique point of view and that it is priceless."

    One of the best and most exciting things you can try to do is take five $5 bills and put them in your coats, jackets  and purses.  Then forget about it.  The next time you wear a coat or a jacket or open your purse, you will find $5 and laugh and let it remind you that each  day that you love, honor, and respect your own unique point of view, you are a step closer to finding a fortune.  Then start treating yourself more generously.  Take that $5 and buy one beautiful flower for yourself, or enjoy a special pastry or a piece of good chocolate.  Buy some beautifully scented lotion or shampoo just because you have found $5.  Do something out of the ordinary that you normally wouldn't do for yourself that will lift your spirits.  "Love yourself first and everything else will fall into line." Lucile Ball said.  "You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."

    And for Valentine's Day, the essay says. "Where there is great love there are always miracles." Willa Cather.

    "It takes great love and courage to excavate buried dreams.  Today is the day set aside for love, a perfect occasion for going within and glancing back with affection and understanding at your real life journey. Once we were going to set the world on fire.  Today, take the ashes along with the memory of a few bright sparks, to show your efforts.  We have buried many a precious dream, layers of naiveté, good intentions, relinquishment, bitter failures, detours, disappointments, rejections, wrong choices, bad timing, bungled efforts, stupid mistakes, and unforeseen circumstances." " We need courage to retrace our steps.  Courage is the price that Life extracts for granting peace"  Amelia Earhart said.

    Someone very wise once said not to be a "would be if I could be or a could be if I would be."        So.....JUST BE!

    These are the days to be with yourself.  Think of those you love, be kind to yourself.  Be quiet and call for the dreams you buried long ago.  The embers are still glowing in your soul.  See it in your mind, hold it tenderly in your heart.  "The dream is always running ahead of one." Anais Nin said.  "To catch up, to live for a moment in union with it, that was the miracle."

    Maybe another way to say it is...

    My life is other areas is going along.  I have to pay Indiana State tax this year because of my change in being a widow and the fact that not enough tax was taken out during the year.  I will be changing that percentage so next year isn't like this.  I have the money, fortunately, so it is not a huge problem but it is disappointing to say the least.

    The winter seems to drag on.  Once we get to February, I think we are all ready for spring to start and of course, in my area, living just Southeast of Lake Michigan means we get a lot of cold blasts and lake effect snow.  We are at 62+ inches to date with more snow expected.

    I did also read some books.  I'm behind in my goal by 2 books so far but the last one I read was over 1000 pages so it should have counted for 3 books in my opinion.

     

    20893377

    bookshelves: familyfriendshistorymarriage

    Read in February, 2015
    This book is based on the lives of Marshall Field and Delia Canton. Marshall Field, of course, is famous for the innovative store in Chicago. He rebuilt that store 3 times and then closed it and opened his own store which exists to this day. Everyone who is from this area knows about Marshall Field's store. It was a huge success. The story between Marshall Field and Delia Canton is a true love story. The author did plenty of research and fully admits that she fictionalized a portion of this romance for the book. I was so interested in the background of each character. This was a very good book and I would recommend it.
    Here's the book description...
    In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair.
    The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.…Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.

    But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

    And here's another reader's review...
    What the Lady wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age by Renee Rosen's  cover of the book is beautiful, iridescent. This is a Romantic Historic Novel. It is based on some factual events.Married Marshall Field, it was commonly known, carried on an affair with married Delia Caton a wealthy socialite for years. The facts surrounding this are unknown and this is why the book is fiction. Delia is depicted as the long suffering wife in a sexless marriage. Marshall Field, founder of the department store, as the spouse of a drug addicted lunatic. They are instantly attracted to one another. Eventually they cannot resist this attraction. And thus the romance begins and dominates the story. The story is told from Delia's point of view.

    I recommend reading the Author's Notes in the back of the book so the reader knows exactly what is fact and fiction. In those notes Rosen states the anarchist's march on Prairie Avenue is depicted in What the Lady Wants as happening on Thanksgiving Day 1881 when it actually occurred on that day in 1884. There is really no reason, nor is one given, for changing the date. Why change a historical fact?

    I am not a fan of Romance Novels. So for me personally this book would only get 2 stars. But it is written in a very readable style and moves along quickly. And I suspect if Romance Novels are your forte it would be an exciting read. For that reason I gave it 3 stars.

    20697408

    bookshelves: familyfriendshistory

    Read in February, 2015

     

    Another Danielle Steel novel. You really can't go wrong with them. They always have beautiful descriptions and lots of information. This novel takes place when Hitler is beginning to go after the Jews. Two old friends who were of nobility in Germany make a decision to help get one of them out of the country. He just discovered he has some Jewish blood and is in fear for his life and that of his two sons. His best friend since childhood raises horses, Arabians and Lipizzaners. Lipizzaners are the beautiful white horses who can "dance" and jump into the air with all 4 legs off the ground. The story continues between Germany and America. Lots of things happen...as they always do...in a Danielle Steel novel. The ending is expected but still interesting.
    Here's the book description...
    This is a story of courage, friendship, and fate as two families face the challenges of war... and the magnificent stallion that will link them forever.Nicolas von Bingen and Alex von Hemmerle, titled members of the German aristocracy, have been best friends since childhood. Both widowers, they are raising their children — Nick’s two lively boys and Alex’s adored teenage daughter — in peace and luxury on the vast Bavarian estates that have belonged to their families for generations. While Nick indulges in more glamorous pursuits, Alex devotes himself to breeding the renowned white Lipizzaner horses that enthrall audiences throughout Europe with their ability to dance and spin on command, majestic creatures whose blood lines are rare and priceless.

    But it is Nicolas’s bloodline that changes everything, when his father receives a warning from a high-ranking contact inside the Wehrmacht. A secret from the past has left the family vulnerable to the rising tide of Nazism: Nick’s mother, whom he never knew, was of Jewish descent.

    Suddenly Nicolas must flee Germany, wrenching his sons away from the only home they have known, sailing across the Atlantic for a new life in America. Their survival will depend on a precious gift from Alex, their only stake for the future: eight purebred horses, two of them stunning Lipizzaners. In Florida, where Nicolas joins the Ringling Brothers Circus, he becomes Nick Bing, with Alex’s prize white stallion — now named Pegasus — the centerpiece of the show.

    Pegasus tells the story of a family reinventing itself in America, while the country they left behind is engulfed in flames and madness, and men like Alex von Hemmerle are forced to make unbearable choices. Alex’s daughter will find sanctuary in England. In America, Nick will find love, his sons will find a future, and their left-behind world will eventually find them. A novel of hope and sacrifice, of tragedy, challenge, and rebirth, It is a brilliant family chronicle that unfolds across half a century—a masterwork from one of our most beloved writers.

    And another reader's review...
    Danielle Steel doesn't write a lot of historical novels these days, but when she does, they are always wonderful. Pegasus is no exception. Set against the backdrop of the 1940's and Nazi Germany, it tells the story of two close friends, and the extraordinary breed of horses that were bred by one of them, and saved the life of the other.Alex and Nick were born and bred to be aristocrats, and not much else. Living on neighboring estates, their days were taken up with riding, hunting, and in Alex's case, training Lipizzaner's, a very special horse breed that is born coal black, and later turns snow white.

    When Nick learns from his father that he is 1/4 Jewish and must flee Germany with his sons or risk being sent to a concentration camp, he is stunned. He had never met his mother, who he had been told had died in childbirth and was someone quite different than who she actually was, so learning that she is not only alive, but 1/2 Jewish is a surprise, to say the least. Having to leave his homeland for an uncertain future with no real working skills is an enormous problem for Nick. And then Alex comes up with a solution that involves two special Lippizzaners, emigration to the U.S., and the circus!

    The book takes us through the lives and loves of four generations of one family, three of the other, and the connection between them that survives over 75 years, originally forged by Nick and Alex, and their very special horses. This was a wonderful read.

    11389875

    bookshelves: historyfriendsfamilydramamarriage

    Read from February 05 to 12, 2015

     

    This book was over 1000 pages. It was the last of the trilogy by Ken Follett and probably the most enjoyable for me. It takes place during the aftermath of the failed Bay Of Pigs, the time of the Civil Rights and Martin Luther King, the Kennedys' assassinations, the Wall in Germany and finished up with the election of Obama. Since most of this history took place during my own lifetime, it was interesting to learn what was going on behind the scenes. I never knew how or why so many of these things were connected until I read Ken Follett's interpretation.My favorites of the trilogy were the first book and this last one. I would recommend them to anyone who would like to follow five families from 5 different countries from the wars over many years. I realized that all governments and people in power are ruthless, cruel, will do anything to "win" and gain control. It makes me see why we are still fighting over land and oil and power. It's a scary world out there and most of us never know what is behind the happenings when they occur.

    The book description....

    EDGE OF ETERNITY is the sweeping, passionate conclusion to Ken Follett’s extraordinary historical epic, The Century Trilogy.

    Throughout these books, Follett has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution – and rock and roll.

    East German teacher Rebecca Hoffman discovers she’s been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for the rest of their lives.…George Jakes, the child of a mixed-race couple, bypasses a corporate law career to join Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department, and finds himself in the middle not only of the seminal events of the civil rights battle, but a much more personal battle of his own.…Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a senator, jumps at the chance to do some official and unofficial espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is a much more dangerous place than he’d imagined.…Dimka Dvorkin, a young aide to Nikita Khrushchev, becomes a prime agent both for good and for ill as the United States and the Soviet Union race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister, Tania, carves out a role that will take her from Moscow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw – and into history.As always with Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew but now will never seem the same again.

    and another reader's review...
    Edge of Eternity is Follett's bookend to his globe-trotting Century trilogy that began withFall of Giants followed by Winter of the World: a strikingly immense multi-generational saga featuring families from Germany, Russia, Wales, England and America, weaving historical world conflicts of the 20th century.In this final installment, we see the grandchildren of the epic WWI story course through the remnants of WWII, the Cold War, and the civil rights movement of the 1960's. Follett's undertaking of the political crises of the next 3 decades, steered ahead by the superpowers of the world, range from Communism, Social Democracy, freedom and civil rights, the threat of nuclear annihilation, espionage and government corruption, weaving them with creativity, astute interpretation and insight.

    The bulky novel is made highly readable by short chapters ending in enough suspense to drive the reader through a labyrinthine historical journey: a bus tour meandering through the seminal events that shaped the world of today. The most compelling of topics unfolded right here in America with the move for civil rights laws: issues which the Brothers Kennedy initially hesitated on while turning blind eyes to the violence waged on black people in the South.

    Follett's mostly plausible characters are involved in real events, interacting with real world leaders; there are unmistakable characters resembling Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 'Hanoi' Jane Fonda and The Beatles. I say 'mostly plausible' since I had one teeny issue with Maria Summers, JFK's mistress: a strong black woman who was one of the Freedom Riders, who stands firmly for equality for black people, goes to bed and falls hopelessly in love with the white American president who refused to sign the bill for civil rights. I had the impression of the black female captive of a white plantation 'massa'. She stood out as a character out of character.

    Finally, this epic fact and fiction heavyweight is a story of victory: of freedom and democracy after a century of earth's bloodshed; the realization that was once a Dream - the attainment of civil rights after such violent struggle, culminating into the making of America's first black President; the failure of communism, the fall of corrupt world leaders and - not to be left unmentioned - the triumphant heralding of the birth of Rock and Roll.

    So with that, I leave you for another period of time.
    I hope you have a very enjoyable Valentine's Day and spent it doing something you love.
         

February 1, 2015

  • FEBRUARY PLANNING.

    WOW!   It's February, 2015...the shortest month of the year.   Here's hoping that silly Groundhog doesn't see his shadow....

    I'm not filled with much new information to share so I have turned to my book, SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach again...  Here's what she posted for February.

    "February arrived cold, wet, and gray, her gifts disguised for only the most discerning spirits to see.  Gentle is our path.  Gratitude is the thread we weave into the fabric of our daily lives this month, giving thanks for our simply abundant lives and asking for the gift of one thing more ~ grateful hearts."

    For this date, Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests "creative excursions as a regular solo rendezvous with your authentic self ~ designed for this purpose.  To give yourself the gift of TIME.

    So what will you do?  Celebrate yourself,  find pastimes that make your heart light and your spirit sing.  Take in a movie (the kind that you especially love), have an early breakfast before work at a new restaurant, cruise the aisles at the Farmer's Market, explore a thrift shop, or a used book store.  When  you embark on creative excursions, your "authentic self " will  lovingly reveal to you the beautiful mystery that is YOU. "

    But Sarah Ban Breathnach goes on to explain that this isn't as easy as it sounds.  "You are not used to having fun by yourself.  It seemed too frivolous, too self-indulgent.  Be prepared for strong, emotional resistance.  Excuses will be plentiful: you are broke, you are too busy, who will take care of your kids, maybe in a week or so.  DON'T GIVE IN!  Creative excursions require an investment of time, not money.  None of us are not too busy to find two hours a week for ourselves.  Find someone to watch your kids for you and you can reciprocate for them at a later time.  Do something for yourself while they are in school or on your lunch hour from work.  There are ways to do it.  This week commit to a weekly creative excursion with your authentic self as an investment you can no longer afford to put off.

    Even in my life, with no one but myself to be responsible for except for my 2 cats, I find that I seem to run out of time.  Of course, I probably waste a large amount of time just playing on the computer but it is an enjoyment for me.  I have considered re-teaching myself to crochet again.  It's been about 40 years since I made my last attempt.  I found a good instruction book at WalMart that I may purchase.  It's less than $10 and have several sizes of crochet hooks and several projects to do.   I'd only have to buy some yarn to start.

    Our area is in the midst of a winter snowstorm.  It started at 11 PM Saturday night and is predicted to last until about 5 AM on Monday.  It's been snowing steadily.  I think there is at the very least a foot of snow so far.  I  won't be using the snow blower until the snow has stopped tomorrow.  I don't have to go out until Tuesday and I can reschedule that appointment if it is necessary.

    I have read a couple more books this past week as well...

    20587777          bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    Read on January 28, 2015...
    I just finished this novel by Jane Smiley. I enjoyed it. The story begins in 1920 in Denby, Iowa on a farm that Walter and Rosanna Langdon have. Each chapter covers one year as their family grows. They have good times and bad times, births and deaths, war intrudes as does drought and financial difficulties and all the other things that a family goes through. The story ends in 1953. The reader gets to know all the characters by the end of the story. It's a good story with a few surprises.  And it is book #1 of a trilogy that Jane Smiley is currently writing.
    Here's the book description...
    On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family's land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who's not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father's heart. Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, Some Luck gives us an intimate look at this family's triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Rich with humor and wisdom, twists and surprises, Some Luck takes us through deeply emotional cycles of births and deaths, passions, and betrayals, displaying Smiley's dazzling virtuosity, compassion, and understanding of human nature and the nature of history, never discounting the role of fate and chance. This potent conjuring of many lives across generations is a stunning tour de force.
    And another reader's review...
    Jane Smiley is a natural born storyteller and she writes characters that are so relatable. The Langdons are such a regular family, raising their children and farming their land in Iowa. The story starts in 1920 and everything we learn of a historical context we learn from the effect it had on the family and their community, such as the great depression, droughts when they had to fight to keep their farm going.We hear from each family member, even the young children. Frankie was such a scamp, always in trouble and his thoughts often made me smile. We follow their sorrows, their joys, their hardships and their successes. As the children get older, finding lives of their own we are shown more history, the war, the threat of communism and eventually the fears of Russian spies.

    The book is divided into yearly chapters, ending in 1953. I felt like I could have been reading the life story of people I know. Her writing is just so natural, flowing, her characters so complete. Generational novels can be challenging, sometimes overstuffed but Smiley gave us just enough of each character to let us know them without boring us with needless details. I will so miss this family and am glad this is the first part of a trilogy. Looking forward to catching up with their lives once again.

    I also appreciate that this story was linear, no going back and forth in time, just from character to character. As you can tell I loved this book.

    22300078

    bookshelves: friends

    Read from January 28 to 29, 2015

     

    Anyone who watches BRAVO TV knows who Andy Cohen is. He has been part of the BRAVO network for many years. I had read his first book about his childhood and how he got involved with television personalities. This current book is a diary he kept in 2013 in which he talks about who he was with that day and what he did. As he said, there were many name-dropping mentions. Sometimes he only used the first name but most of the time the reader could figure out who he was discussing. I especially enjoyed when he gave some background about all the Real Housewives of....in the book. He even talks about some future plans he had been working on for new programs. So, if you like the BRAVO network and the programs, I think you will enjoy this book.
    Here's the book description...
    A year in the whirlwind life of the beloved pop icon Andy Cohen, in his own cheeky, candid, and irreverent words.As a TV Producer and host of the smash late night show Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen has a front row seat to an exciting world not many get to see. In this dishy, detailed diary of one year in his life, Andy goes out on the town, drops names, hosts a ton of shows, becomes codependent with Real Housewives, makes trouble, calls his mom, drops some more names, and, while searching for love, finds it with a dog. We learn everything from which celebrity peed in her WWHL dressing room to which Housewives are causing trouble and how. Nothing is off limits – including dating. We see Andy at home and with close friends and family (including his beloved and unforgettable mom). Throughout, Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks about it. Inspired by the diaries of another celebrity-obsessed Andy (Warhol), this honest, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny book is a one-of-a-kind account of the whos and whats of pop culture in the 21st century.

    And another reader's review...
    I feel a bit embarrassed for having enjoyed this as much as I did. It's really a book version of US magazine, focuses on Bravo's Andy Cohen (how in the world does he have so many celebrity friends?} It makes me a bit curious to read his first book to find out, because a lot of the people mentioned here don't even get last names....they are either THAT close to Andy, or they aren't required. Trust me when I say that Andy sees more of SJP than does her husband and probably her children.)   * Sarah Jessica Parker.Overall it's a year in the life of a weight-obsessed, name-dropping, dog-obsessed (that part didn't bother me at all, except for the fact that he probably mentions that Wacha came from a "kill shelter in West Virginia" and makes a number of rather snide remarks about the Mountain State. Andy is what is he is - fairly shallow and happy to own up to it. I hope he continues these diaries and names even more names - it's trash, but really fun trash (especially if you watch a lot of Bravo). No real recommendation needed - if this is a book for you, you'll know it!

               

January 24, 2015

  • SIMPLE DAILY PLEASURES....

    Most of you know that I try to post a grateful post every day on Facebook.  I've been doing it regularly since my husband became ill and then passed away.  It really does help me focus on all the good things I have in my life.

    So, of course, today I was checking the most recent essays in SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  As it happens, she was discussing acceptance of real life.

    "Accepting and blessing our circumstances is a powerful tool for transformation.  In fact, this potent combination is a spiritual elixir that can work miracles in our lives."

    What is acceptance?  It is surrendering to what is:  our circumstances, our feelings, our problems, our financial status, our work, our health, our relationships...our dreams.   Before we can change anything in our life, we have to recognize that this is the way it is meant to be right now.   When we accept our circumstances, we relax.  We change our vibration, our energy pattern and the rate of our heartbeat.  Once again, we are able to tap into the boundless positive energy of the Universe.  Acceptance illuminates reality so that we're better able to see the next step."

    So, whatever situation exists in your life right now, accept it.  Acknowledge what is going on....your house is dirty, your job is not making  you happy, your checking account is overdrawn.  This is your real life for today.   Let go of the struggle.  And allow the healing changes to begin.

    "Next, we must learn to bless our circumstances.  Usually we don't know why something had occurred, and we won't until there's enough distance to take a backward look.  Blessing the circumstances teaches us to trust.  Then count your blessings.  See how many you can list."  You maybe surprised at the goodness you have in your life.  In the rush of daily living, we fail to notice or acknowledge what good there is.  Writing the blessings down may help you see how much you have in your life, in spite of the difficulties.

    Here's where the daily listing of simple gratefulness comes in.   Most of us think we have to wait until the difficulties are gone before we start to get our act together.  Tomorrow, we will start.  Tomorrow we'll some time to have enjoyment.  Life never calms down enough for us to wait until tomorrow to start living the life we deserve.

    Stop waiting for life to become perfect.  Start working today on what you have already to make your life as satisfactory as you can.  Accept, give thanks, and get going....Begin to call for the riches from your everyday life.  Move from lack of to abundance.  Procrastination robs you of too many precious moments and opportunities.  Call a friend for lunch, begin to read, write a book, organize your desk, try a new recipe, smile at everyone you see, sit and dream about what you want in life, and give joy away.

    Think of one thing that would give  you pleasure today and do it!

     

    Something that often give me a lift is to just change some of the decor in my home.  Put out a different color as an accent from season to season.  Place mats can be purchased very inexpensively and they can make the top of your end tables or dining table look completely different.  Putting out fresh towels and mixing the patterns or colors in the bathroom is refreshing as well.  I have put light blue hand towels with dark brown bath towels and wash cloths.  Or dark green with a lighter green patterned hand towel.  It just makes the area look different.

    The same goes with clothing.  Try adding  a scarf or a pin, or a necklace or bracelets  for a change of color with your basic outfits that you wear all the time.  We all  have closets full of clothes but  usually stick with the same basic 5 or 6 outfits, whether we work outside of our home or stay at home.   Try to make them look different in some way.

    I am not a big shopper at all.  And since June, when I started a new eating plan, I vowed not to buy anything new for myself for 6 months to give me motivation to stay on the eating plan.  I've lost 20 lbs.  So, I have purchased a couple of different tops on sale in the past couple of weeks.  I got a beautiful sheer 3/4 length sleeve blouse at Goodwill for $5 last week.  I don't think it was ever worn.  I bought another top last night at T.J.Maxx for $7.  I looked both labels up online andboth brands had similar tops that went for $48 and were marked down to $25.  I don't often have that type of luck but I did this month.  I also found a 5x7 handpainted-glass-painting of a strawberry plant for 49 cents which I am giving to a friend who features strawberries decor in her kitchen.   And finally I found a beautiful 3x3 foot square of tapestry material to use as a table topper for 99 cents.  I was just ready and open to find some treasures....and I did.

    Our weather has been different this month.  It is still cold but almost all the snow has melted and I haven't had to use the snowblower for a few weeks!  Today the sky is blue and it is sunny outside in spite of being 37 degrees.  I could handle the entire winter if it stayed like this.

    And I read some books.

    12959233

    bookshelves: familyfriendshistorymarriage

    This is the second book in a trilogy by Ken Follett. It is over 940 pages and takes place from 1933 to 1949. The history and information about the wars that Russia, Germany, France, England and finally the USA take part in is brutal. Of course, I studied some of this in high school but I had no idea how long and how involved these wars were. What I did realize was that the world has been fighting since before we even knew what was going on. Some country or group wants to have it all, the power, the gold or oil or coal or control. There is no indication that any country has ever been without struggle. And it continues to this day. The cruelty and disregard for human life and for families or hard work is not taken into consideration when any country wants to be the country in control.

    This book continues following the families from the first novel, their children and grand children. The third and final book of the trilogy will do the same.  If you like to read about a lot of history and get perspective from all sides, these novels might be just what you need to read.
    Here's the book description...
    Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.

    Carla von Ulrich, born of German and English parents, finds her life engulfed by the Nazi tide until she commits a deed of great courage and heartbreak. . . . American brothers Woody and Chuck Dewar, each with a secret, take separate paths to momentous events, one in Washington, the other in the bloody jungles of the Pacific. . . . English student Lloyd Williams discovers in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War that he must fight Communism just as hard as Fascism. . . . Daisy Peshkov, a driven American social climber, cares only for popularity and the fast set, until the war transforms her life, not just once but twice, while her cousin Volodya carves out a position in Soviet intelligence that will affect not only this war—but the war to come.

    These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as their experiences illuminate the cataclysms that marked the century. From the drawing rooms of the rich to the blood and smoke of battle, their lives intertwine, propelling the reader into dramas of ever-increasing complexity.

    Another reader's review....
    I read the first of this trilogy – Fall of Giants. It was excellent. Winter of the World continues in the same superlative fashion. The narrative is quick and absorbing. Through the eyes of interesting characters, you get a front row seat in the most memorable historical events that were really not that long ago. The first book took me inside the world my grandparents experienced. This one transported me into the events that shaped my parents. The book provides in-depth perspectives and describes how people actually felt at the time. There is a handy map of the world on the inside covers. It shows all the cities where events transpire. Ken Follett is a master storyteller. His books are extremely interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. I eagerly await the third in this series. 
    16248251

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    This is a book in a trilogy. I didn't realize that when I started with the second book in the group. Each book can stand on its own, however. Ellie Hogan is living in Ireland with her husband. After losing several babies and then her husband, Ellie can't bear to stay in Ireland. She decided to return to the United States where she had lived a few years before. As she gets settled in the US, she finds a way to help others thereby helping herself deal with her grief. She is reunited with a man she had met the first time she was in the US and thinks she can pick up that life again.  After a few more months, she realizes she wants to go back to Ireland to grieve the lost of her husband and decide what to do about her life next.    I have the last book of the trilogy and will be looking for the first book the next time I go to the library.
    Here's the book description....
    It is the 1930s and when her beloved husband, John, suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York. She hopes that the city's vibrancy will distract her from her grief. But the Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable-gone is the energy and atmosphere of fun that Ellie fell in love with ten years before.
    Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours all her passion and energy into running a home and refuge for the homeless. In return they give her the kind of love, support and friendship she needs to try and overcome her grief. Until, one day, someone she thought she'd never see again steps through her door. It seems that even the Atlantic isn't big enough to prevent the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.
    Another reader's review...
    I wasn’t convinced initially about this book (not sure why) but once the story reached the death of Ellie’s beloved husband, John, I was right there with her. It may not be the way some people would react in grief, yet I could understand how Ellie couldn’t bear to be where her life had been lived so much with John. She simply cannot come to terms with his death and tries to run from the reality. So she sets off for New York where she had lived for a time years earlier.
    In New York, Ellie sets about making a new life for herself. In the process she sees the poverty around her and ends up helping others who are suffering the effects of the Depression and who have been evicted from homes. But as always happens the past comes back to haunt her. 
    While I may not always have agreed with Ellie's behaviour or the choices she made, there is a lot to like about the way the character of Ellie is developed, from someone who flees from responsibility and lack of involvement to a person who reaches out and helps others.This is a real feel good story.
    I hadn't read the first book Ellis Island but didn’t feel it need to have read that to read this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I would have liked a different ending but I believe there is another book to come.
    20604392

    bookshelves: marriage

    This is the third book in a trilogy. I really didn't like it very much. I felt like the main character whose life has been told in the previous two books turned into a very cold and controlling woman. By the end of this book, I was more than glad to not read about her any longer.
    This third book told the continuing story of Ellie Hogan, an Irish woman who had come to the United States twice during her lifetime. She had married and buried two husbands, had 2 adopted sons and a variety of friends. Although she seemed to be skilled in many things, including housework, cooking, starting and making businesses successful and art; she never seemed to be happy with her life.
    Each book can stand on its own and each book does fill in the blanks to let the reader known what happened in the previous stories. Nevertheless, I only finished this last book because it was the last....
    Here's the book description....
    Set in 1940s Los Angeles, the compelling final installment in New York Times bestselling author Ellie Hogan’s sweeping immigrant trilogy begun in Ellis Island and City of Hope—a story of family, love, danger, and ambition in Hollywood during World War II.

    Irish immigrant Ellie Hogan has finally achieved the American Dream. But her comfortable bohemian life on Fire Island, New York, is shattered when her eldest adopted son, Leo, runs away, lured by the promise of fortune and fame in Hollywood. Determined to keep her family intact, Ellie follows him west, uprooting her youngest son and long-time friend Bridie.

    In Los Angeles, Ellie creates a fashionable new home among the city’s celebrities, artists, and movie moguls. She is also drawn into intense new friendships, including talented film composer Stan, a man far different from any she has ever met, and Suri, a beautiful Japanese woman and kindred spirit, who opens Ellie’s eyes to the injustices of her country.

    While Leo is dazzled by Hollywood’s glitz, Ellie quickly sees that the golden glamour masks a world of vanity and greed. Though she tries to navigate them around the dangers of their new home, she will not be able protect them from an even more terrifying threat: war.

    And another reader's review...
    I read this book not having read the first two books in this series. So I expected I might be a little bit lost in the beginning, and I was OK with that. However, that was definitely not the case, since the first 50(!) pages were pretty much a rehash of everything that took place in the previous books...to the point that it got tedious and I was ready for the story to start.

    Ellie is a twice-widowed woman raising her two adopted boys while working as an artist in New York during the early 1940s. When her oldest son disappears from school, and it turns out he's fled to Hollywood to become an actor, Ellie follows him west, to bring him back. However, she ends up staying in Hollywood, bringing her family with her.

    I found Ellie to be a pretty unlikable woman. Harsh, unfriendly, cold, and always thinking she was better than everyone else. She treated Stan, her love interest in Hollywood, pretty horribly. I felt absolutely no connection to her and could really care less what happened to her.

    This book was filled with constant descriptions of things that happened in the previous books. As if the author felt the reader couldn't possibly remember something that we had already been told 75 pages previously. How many times did we need to be told how Ellie came to adopt Tom? Or how Ellie was so wonderful because she founded a woman's homeless shelter in New York?

    For a book that takes place during World War II, there was very little mention of the war! Except for a handful of pages where Ellie's new half-Japanese friend Suri talks about the horrors of the internment camps, and a bizarre side trip to Manzanar, all of which seemed incredibly contrived, as if the author felt she had to somehow shoehorn insomething about the Japanese internment camps to prove her book was set during wartime.

    Overall, I cannot recommend this book, and I don't think I'm going to go back and read the first two books in the trilogy. If you've already read the first two, you may want to give this a try, just to finish the arc. Otherwise, give this one a pass. 

           
           

January 13, 2015

  • JANUARY JOYS ~ 2015

            Here we are in the second week of January....for me....it's the midst of Winter as well.   So, I am telling myself to find the JOY....

    We've had 20 inches of snow in less than 2 weeks.....but today, although it is very cold at 5 degrees, the sun is out, the sky is crystal blue and there is no snow coming down.  I have used the snow blower every day but two since the snow started falling.  I'm grateful, very grateful, to have that electric snow blower too.  Even the maintenance man who plows the streets in our little community co-op managed to get our street fairly clear yesterday without leaving huge piles of snow in front of my driveway too.  I made it out to the library to return some books that were coming due, stopped at the Post Office to mail a package and got a few groceries.

    Sunday was my mother's birthday.  She would have been 90 years old if she were still living!   Her twin brother is still living in Pennsylvania.  I can't believe that she has been gone so many years.  I am older than she was when she passed away which just seems so illogical.   And I am older than my husband was when he passed away 15 months ago.  I'm not sure I like being one of the older members of the family because I just don't feel that old.

    I'm in the middle of another 900 page book by Kenneth Follett.  Winter Of The World.  This is book #2 in a trilogy.  There is a lot of history and a lot of information to take in.  I will do a review when I have finished the book.  I set a reading goal of 100 books for 2015 on Goodreads.  I have read 2 which means I am already one book behind in the schedule!  LOL.  This book should almost count for 3 since it is so big.  And I have the final book of the trilogy to read too and it is also very big.

    I haven't been doing much of interest since I last wrote.  I try to clean up and/or organize something every day.  This morning I cleaned up two cabinets in my family room.  They really were not in bad shape since I don't use them very often.  But I did want to find a couple of things and I located one of them.  I have a list of "would like to haves".  The next time I get out, I will go to Goodwill to see if there is anything of interest there.  Sometimes I do find a small treasure that I didn't even know I wanted!  Imagine that?

    Some more January joys to share.....

    I'm thinking about teaching myself to crochet.  I learned a tiny bit about 40 years ago and I was thinking it might be fun to learn again and maybe actually do well enough to make something.  We shall see how that goes in the weeks to come.

    I've noticed since I am on this different eating plan that going to the grocery store is such a different experience.  I completely avoid many aisles because I am not eating sweets, candy, cookies, ice cream, cupcakes and so on.  I used to like to check out what was new so I could buy it for my husband to try and of course, I wanted a taste too.  I did buy some garlic and sea salt microwave popcorn that was on sale for 70 cents because it was close to the expiration date.  I made a bag last night and ate about 1/3 of it.  I wasn't that impressed so I threw the rest of it out this morning for the birds and squirrels.

    I'm still on Facebook but less enthused with it.  If it wasn't the way I stay in touch with my family and friends, I would quit.  I do play a couple of games to keep my mind active but even that starts to get boring

    I am trying to get back into reading more books because my interest never changes with that hobby.

    So I guess I should review the two books I've read so far this year...

     

    18816603      3 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmothers-and-daughters

    Read in January, 2015
    I generally love books by Jodi Picoult. I think there have only been two of her novels that I didn't care for. One was The Tenth Circle which I believe if I reread it I would enjoy it. This is the second. I did really like the information about elephants ~ it was intriguing. I liked most of this book but the last 30 pages or so I didn't enjoy as much. I thought it was just too quickly changed to an ending that, while it made sense, didn't seem to fit the rest of the storyline. I reminded me of a movie I saw several years ago. I'm not going to name the movie because that would give away the end of this book.*  But,if you are a Jodi Picoult fan, I am sure you will enjoy this story enough to make it worthwhile to read, especially if you like elephants.
    *It was interesting to me to read many reviewers who thought the book used the theme of a well-known movie to end the story just like I did.
    Here's the book description...
    For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubts her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague. Hard questions and answers.
    And another reader's review...

    This newest Jodi Picoult left me a little dazed and confused. Picoult used to be one of my sure bets for a great read and no one quite wrote like her. This being said, I'm not really sure what direction Picoult has been going recently.    Leaving Time was such a mixture of characters, stories and subplots that for me just didn't flow. Maybe if I was an elephant fanatic I would of found it more interesting. To me it was like putting a nonfiction learning experience into the middle of a novel. Throw in a young girl looking for her mother who disappeared when she was a child, a psychic who has fallen from stardom and an ex cop who prefers a drink,not to mention a murder, elephant stampede and dad in the mental institution. Put them all together with the excerpts on elephants, weave a story and the blow it out of the water with an unexpected ending. I almost put this one down halfway through but skimmed through it and I will say I did like the ending as strange as it was.
    I wish Jodi Picoult would just go back to dealing with people and human interest stories and just write a good page turner again.

     

    20707959       4 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: friends

    Read in January, 2015

    I don't know why I forget to check out books by John Grisham. I always like the books very much and this one is no exception. Samantha Kofer is the adult child of two parents who are attorneys. She has a great job with a Wall Street firm. But, during a financial crisis, she and some other co-workers are put on hold and told if they will work for a non-profit for a year, their job will be held and they might be called back. At the very least, their health insurance will be paid.

    Samantha decided to take a job in Brady, Va. with a population of 2,200.  The small town is in the midst of coal country in the Appalachian Mountains. There, she learns how to become a real attorney, filing paperwork, going into court and fighting for her clients' rights. She gets involved in some seriously dangerous work against the big firms that try to take the coal but won't pay for the claims that result.
    Will she stay and work for those poor people who need help or will she go back to NYC?
    Here's the book description....
    The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

    In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

    Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

    And another reader's review....
    I can't remember the last time I read one of John Grisham's books. I didn't mean to neglect them, it just happened. I have always loved John Grisham's legal thrillers, this was no exception, I really liked it.
    When Samantha loses her wall street job as a lawyer, she takes an unpaid internship in the small town of Brady, Virginia. She had no idea what she was getting into, picturing a small town with small problems but she finds herself in coal country and as she becomes part of the town, she learns of the dirty dealings, the lawsuits, the deaths, many being horrendous. She didn't realize the danger she was walking into, even the cases that seemed pretty simple at the start, really weren't. From someone who had never seen the inside of a courtroom, she starts to love litigation.
    This book has a bit of romance, lots of action, and although there was a lot of talk of coal and details about the coal industry, I was never bored, actually fascinated.
    The book was left in a position that there could be a continuation, so much we don't have conclusions to and are left to wonder what becomes of the people, the lawsuits and Samantha herself.
    Well, since I brought up reading, I think I should do just that.  Have a great week.
             

     

January 3, 2015

  • IS IT 2015 ALREADY???

     

     

    The days are already flying by, aren't they?   Here it is the 3rd day of January, 2015 and I just got a blog written!    Please don't think the above photo is any reflection about how I really feel about the new year.  Quite the contrary, I am looking forward to 2015.

    Instead of making resolutions that will, undoubtedly, be forgotten in the days to come.  My sister said making goals might be better.  I agree.  They sound more attainable too.  So my goals for 2015 are:

    1.  Continue to work on losing weight.  I managed 20 lbs in 6 months in 2014 so I'd like to lose 30 lbs in 2015.  I don't use Nutrisystem as often as I did.  I am trying to eat foods based on what I know is better for me.  Besides the cost of Nutrisystem is high and I don't care for all the pasta and spiciness.  I am eating up the Nutrisystem foods and I do have another shipment coming this month.  Fortunately I can backdate the shipments so I don't get them so often.

    2.I want to read more books this year.  Last  year, I managed to read 76 books.  My goal for this year is 100.   In 2013, I read 125 but that was before my life changed with the illness and death of my husband.

    3. I want to continue to be more sociable.  I do get out about 2 times a month with friends.  I need to continue to do that and maybe even take a trip this year. I have many friends who want me to visit them and just need to decide when and where to go first.

    4. Edit and get my latest manuscript INDIGO MEMORIES up for sale on Amazon.com by Spring.  I also want to start thinking about writing a new manuscript this fall.  I have an idea but I don't know for sure if I will follow that idea or if I am ready to deal with it.

    5. Work on my garden in the Spring.  I planted some new plants and vines last fall.  I am hoping they will survive the winter and grow this year.  If not, I will get some new plants and start again!

    I think those are enough goals for 2015.

    And of course, once again, I have turned to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  I seem to select different dates every year and read her essays.

    This time I am going to include her definition of what SIMPLE ABUNDANCE means....

    "Simple, adj. 1: without embellishment; 2: clarity of form and thought; 3: fundamental

    Abundance, n. 1: an ample quantity, profusion; 2: wealth; 3. plenty

    SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, 1: an inner journey; 2. a spiritual and practical course in creative living; 3: a tapestry of contentment

    Sarah Ban Breathnach says..."we already possess all the inner wisdom, strength, and creativity needed to make our dreams come true.  This can be hard for most of us to realize because the source of this unlimited personal power is buried so deeply beneath the bills, the car pool, the deadlines, the work life and the dirty laundry.  When we can't access our inner resources, we come to the flawed conclusion that happiness and fulfillment come only from external events.  That's because external events usually bring some sort of change.  We learn to rely on circumstances outside ourselves for....momentum as we go through life.   There are six principles that act as guides as we make our inner journey over the next year.  There are six threads of abundant living which, when woven together, produce a tapestry of contentment that wraps us in inner peace, well-being, happiness and a sense of security.

    First, there is gratitude. When we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize we are very rich indeed.

    Gratitude gives way to simplicity - the desire to clear out, pare down and realize the essentials of what we need to live truly well.

    Simplicity brings order. both internally and externally.

    A sense of order in our life brings us harmony which provides us with inner peace to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us each day...

    and beauty opens us up to joy.

    But just as in a beautiful tapestry, it is difficult to see where one stitch ends and another begins...

    Pick up the needle and make the first stitch on the canvas of YOUR life.  Invite your spirit to open up your eyes of inner awareness.  Be still and wait, knowing that ....in the tapestry of your own life are...the golden threads of a simply abundant tomorrow."

                                       

    So to continue my tradition of reviewing the books I have read.....

    20663712

    bookshelves: familymarriagemothers-and-daughters

    Read on December 23, 2014

    This was a quick read about how a young Italian woman was married off when she was 14 years old. Her husband went to America and she stayed behind for almost 9 years. By the time he had the money to send for her, she barely knew him. She quickly had 7 babies (one of them died at birth) because she was taught that having babies, cooking and cleaning and catering to her husband was her mission in life. After she met a man who swept her off her feet but had to leave; she became depressed and quiet. The rest of the book was about her children and how the females in the Italian family changed over the years. There did seem to be a lot of attention paid to the sexual part of each female's life. I didn't see the need for that. I won't say it was the best book I've read by Ann Hood but it was certainly interesting.

    Here's the book jacket review....
    From the best-selling author of The Obituary Writer, the stirring multigenerational story of an Italian-American family.An Italian Wife is the extraordinary story of Josephine Rimaldi—her joys, sorrows, and passions, spanning more than seven decades. The novel begins in turn-of-the-century Italy, when fourteen-year-old Josephine, sheltered and naive, is forced into an arranged marriage to a man she doesn't know or love who is about to depart for America, where she later joins him. Bound by tradition, Josephine gives birth to seven children. The last, Valentina, is conceived in passion, born in secret, and given up for adoption.Josephine spends the rest of her life searching for her lost child, keeping her secret even as her other children go off to war, get married, and make their own mistakes. Her son suffers in World War I. One daughter struggles to assimilate in the new world of the 1950s American suburbs, while another, stranded in England, grieves for a lover lost in World War II. Her granddaughters experiment with the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1970s. Poignant, sensual, and deeply felt, An Italian Wife is a sweeping and evocative portrait of a family bound by love and heartbreak.

    And another reader's review...
    Rather than a "typical" novel structure, this reads as a bunch of connected short stories, following an Italian family in America from the turn of the century to the mid-70s. Hood's prose is beautiful, even as she exposes the darkness. If anything, this book seems to be about dreams that die, the disappointments of life. Where the American dream fails. There is a sad beauty there, but as I don't get to spend much time with most of the characters, I have trouble really investing myself in their journeys. Especially as it quickly becomes clear that there will be no happy endings here. There is no even glimmer of hope. I know how it will end. Additionally, most of the disappointments revolve around relationships, especially romantic and sexual relationships. With most of the stories revolving around women, it packs the punch of discontent and unrest at the heart of the second wave women's movement.This book wasn't my cup of tea at the moment. But there is something haunting here, and as a quick read it may be worth it. Just don't expect happily-ever-after.

    18775398

    bookshelves: familyhistorymarriage

    Read from December 20 to 30, 2014

     

    I am not sure why but this book seems to drag. Probably that is because it covered 42 years from before the reign on King Henry VIII and during his time on the throne. I learned much more about him.  Such as he tried to control all things, including the Church, the Pope and other countries. He wasn't a nice man. He married several times and found ways to get out of the marriages ~ either by denying the validity of the vows or by "removing" the woman from the throne. This story revolved around Margaret who was one of the last of the Plantagenets who were rivals of the Tudors claim to the throne. She strived all during her life to keep her family safe. She was the guardian of both Arthur (Henry's older brother) and of Henry when he was a child. She was the closest lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon and of her daughter, Mary. She was often caught between her love and allegiance to the Queen and the King.Margaret watched the deterioration of the Tudors in power. She had the knowledge of an old curse that seemed to come true during King Henry VIII's time. And when her life was nearly over, she finally became defiant and refused to put her head on the block.
    Here's the book jacket review....
    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes the story of lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole and her unique view of King Henry VIII's stratospheric rise to power in Tudor England.Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret's world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and holiest woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

    And another reader's review...
    At first I thought that I may have read too many Henry VIII novels, as everything felt very familiar, but as I got further into the book I understood why Philippa Gregory decided to use Margaret Plantagenet as the narrator. It allows a much wider view of this era, as well as of Henry. Most of her other books tells the story of a specific queen, which obviously only allows us to see what is happening in the court. Margaret is able to do this, but also give us a much bigger perspective as to what was happening in the country and how the king's choices affected everyone. But even more than that, she is able to really show us how shocking the changes in Henry's personality was, as she knew him from birth. I've read quite a few books on Henry VIII, but I don't think I've ever understood how extreme these changes were, and that he became such a tyrant and persecuted and killed so many people. As the Plantagenet's were rivals to the Tudor reign Margaret is once again ideally situated to illustrate this - her father, her brother and her son was taken to the tower and executed. She was Henry's oldest victim, and was executed at the age of 67. Philippa created a strong, engaging and authentic protagonist. At the end of the King's curse I felt I had a much clearer picture of Henry's madness.
    So that is my first blog for 2015.  I hope and plan to blog more regularly this year.  Stand by.

     

December 30, 2014

  • SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD BLOGGERS AWARD - 2014

    Sisterhood of The Bloggers Award

     

    wpid-sisterhood-of-the-world HILTHETHRILL gave me a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!  Oh the honor is almost too much!   But with the presentation of that honor comes so much responsibility. Here are the rules for the game:

    The Rules

    1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
    2. Put the award logo on your blog.
    3. Answer the ten questions they have sent you.
    4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
    5. Nominate ten people.

    So here goes.  #1.  THANK YOU HILLTHETHRILL FOR GIVING ME THIS PRESENTATION.  i AM NOT WORTHY.  I DIDN'T PREPARE A SPEECH BUT I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR PLACING ME IN THE SISTERHOOD.   So, I thank....ME!

    #2.  The Award is there in color at the beginning of this blog.

    #3. Now comes the hard part....answering the questions HILLTHETHRILL has prepared for me.

    **** HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS...

    1. I feel you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat for breakfast. What is your FAVORITE breakfast?

    My favorite breakfast if I can have it is to go out to eat and have two fried eggs over hard, hash browns which are perfectly potato-y and not too burned, buttered sourdough toast with jelly and bacon, Bacon, BACON!

    2. Who are the top three celebrities that want to sleep with you, but don't know it yet?

    Well, if they don't know, what's a girl to do?   I guess I would choose Sam Elliott just to talk to me.  Sean Connery because he is so James Bond-like and hmmmm....and maybe George Clooney because he has a villa in Italy.

    3. Tell me about your favorite hiding spot as a kid, and your favorite hiding spot as an adult?

    I don't really recall a favorite hiding spot as a child except for the old public library in my youth.  It always looked just like a castle to me.  The Children's department was upstairs and there were huge windows with window seats where you could climb up and sit to read.  And a favorite hiding spot now?....probably right here on the second floor of my little home where I can type away and still see out the windows to watch the people, cars and weather.

    4. Do you feel that society is going to hell, or do you feel that we are improving, or staying the same?

    I'm sorry to say that I am losing faith in most of our fellow humans, the government and many corporations.  I just can't understand why we can't all try harder to get along.  I wish people would come together to save our country and our world and stop all the fighting.  Of course, there are some wonderful people out there but we mostly hear about the bad ones.

    5. Do you remember your dreams? Tell me the last nightmare you remember.

    Yes, I usually do remember a great portion of my dreams.  My last nightmare was probably thinking someone was trying to hurt me.  I used to dream about Satan and being lost in a big house in a maze just knowing the devil was behind me.  I won't look into the bathroom mirror at night because I am always afraid Satan is right behind me.  

    6. What's in your pockets?

    LINT!   I don't keep things in my jeans pockets very often.  But the best thing is finding money I stuffed into a jacket pocket and forgot about.

    7. What are you interested in that no one else seems to care about?

    I care about my ancestors and preserving the information about them.  I am always interested in finding old photos or hearing stories about them.

    8. Who is your childhood hero?

    I guess I have always thought very highly of Mother Theresa and of Jane Goodall.

    9. Do you have a lucky talisman, a rabbit's foot or a pair of lucky socks? Or something you always do for good luck?

    I carry a silver dollar from 1976 that the company I worked for presented to every employee on the 100th anniversary of the company's creation.  I also believe 3 is my lucky number and often use the number 3 to decide what to pick or which seat, or door to go to.

    10. What do you like about HilTheThrill, and how can she improve?

    I admire HILTHETHRILL's creativeness, her style, her efforts to make something special out of things that might not seem worth it.  I love how she loves her daughters and her husband, how she is always searching for something to bring simple pleasures.  Her photos are beautiful.  Her wit and humor are delightful.  I think she has grown so much since I first started reading her blog years ago.  She is in a happier place now and I hope she continues to thrive there.

    Leave your answers in the comment section below or send me the link to your post. To those who read or follow my blog it would be interesting hear your answers as well. Feel free to comment below

    *****

    To nominate others to do their own questions and answers, I would love to have anyone do this project.  But I would especially pick LA the Sage, Lavonna Nix, Endless Summer, Pound Head here, Mary Combrink, Bonnie NewComer, Julie Weger and Tonya Weger.

    Here are the questions:

    1. What is  your favorite book and why?

    2. What style of clothing do you wear most often?  Any special outfit you want to describe?

    3. What motto do you try to live by?

    4. What career would you choose if you had a do-over?  Or are you happy with what you do now?

    5. What is the silliest thing you have ever done?

    6. What would the title of a television program about you be called?

    7. What is your favorite holiday and why?

    8. What 3 wishes would you like to have?

    9. What is your biggest regret?

    10. How would  you change your life if you could?

    If you decide to do this project, please send me a link so I can enjoy your answers.

     

December 17, 2014

  • WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME, WILL YOU STILL NEED ME, WHEN I'M.....

    I have a confession

    confession to make..............

    Yep....I hit the 7oth year of my life yesterday!    But I don't feel that I look 70 and I sure don't feel 70 ~~~~~ so I am not going to believe that I am 70! So There!

    I am returning once more to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.   In reading her essay for December 16th, she said...

    ...."I haven't yet gotten to the point where I don't need gold stars: gleaming, golden, five-pointed proof that I've accomplished something that was a bit of a stretch, especially if it was remembering to treat myself with the loving kindness that seems so much easier to give to others."

    I'm sure most of us remember when we got gold stars for doing a good job at school.  Maybe some of us even got gold stars at home that were put on a "chore chart" to show how well we did.

    "But gold star days are very different when we give them to ourselves .  If you give a gold star to yourself and stick it to an empty calendar space, the star twinkles, winks and whispers. "Good for you, Girl!"

    I don't ever give myself a gold star but I do let myself appreciate my accomplishments.  When I allow myself to accept the good things I have done, whether or others or for myself, it does give me a good feeling.

    "Have you ever noticed an actress in a movie or television show and thought to  yourself..."If this gorgeous, high-maintenance, personal-trainer using, spa-attending woman is visibly maturing, what does the low-maintenance, car-pool, suburban mother and stressed out wife and career woman like me look like?

    Have you ever asked someone "How old do I look?"  or "Am I showing my age?"...  And then you held your breath waiting for their answer?  LOL.

    "Now we are entering our Act Two in life.  Act One just sets the scene--who our heroine is, where she came from, the forces that shaped her.  In Act Two the creative tension really begins to build as her story unfolds.  Act Two is teeming with twists and turns as the pivotal moment of choice comes into view.  Act Two reveals the dramatic center of her authentic plot.  What will happen next?  How will our heroine cope?  How will she change? "

    "We can't move into Act Two until we have several decades under our belt.  Hopefully we are wiser, more experienced, self-confident, courageous, and canny.  Suddenly we have more depth to the scripts in our life.  "In middle age, we are apt to reach the horrifying conclusion that all sorrow, all paint, all passionate regret and loss and bitter disillusionment is self-made."

    But now we know how to change that.  Don't we?

     

                                                       

     

    So let's make a list of what I have accomplished in my 70 years of life.

    1. I'm the older of four daughters.  I feel like I am the mother of the group and have a responsibility to take care of my younger sisters

    2. I graduated from high school and then got three Associate Degrees while I worked full-time.

    3. I was married for 48-1/2 years to the same man.  We would be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in April, 2015.

    4. I started working as an insurance claims secretary and worked my way up to Senior Claims Representative.

    5. I've written 4 books.  Three are published and for sale on Amazon.com and the fourth will be editing and for sale by Spring.

    6. I have a few friends from my childhood and from high school that I  still am in contact with.

    7. I learned to drive a car when I was 30 years old.

    8. I have a new computer and a new cell phone that I am learning to use without too much trouble.

    9. I  write on 3 different blog sites.

    10. I am a step-grandmother and step-great grandmother and a faux grandmother for another person's children.

    11. I helped to raise a very intelligent and hardworking son of whom I am very proud.

    12. I read many, many books throughout the year.

    13. I've had over at least 12 cats and 3 dogs in my life.

    14.  I have lost 20 lbs since June, 2014

    15.  I still feel fairly young.

    And I did read a book or  two since my last blog.

     

    19486412       4 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmothers-and-daughters

    Read on December 09, 2014

    I finally finished this book. I had started it about a month ago and had to return it because it was on the "hold" list. I got it again last week and finished it. I enjoyed the story of the various mothers and children who had a connection in the town. Some of them were quirky and some of them were over-the-top. The mystery of what happened and why and how was interjected into the various chapters. The reader never quite knew what was going on until the end of the book. And the circumstances were much different from I had anticipated. It was a very entertaining book. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light mystery and a story that could be relevant to them.

    Here's the book description...
    Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
    A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly? 
    What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
    Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 
    Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
    Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

    And here's another reader's review...

    This one was 480 pages that read like less than 300. I was thoroughly captivated, found this to be brilliant in plot, structure and tone. Gulped it right down.

    On the surface this was about a group of parents whose children were starting kindergarten. We have the typical cliques, the do-gooders and many, many who think their children are oh so special.  Over parenting to a T. Working moms against stay at home moms, fulfillment vs. involvement. Humorously told, there are so many times this book had me laughing, some of these moms were so over the top, absolutely absurd.

    Under the surface was another layers, the author tackles many issues, among them bullying, spousal abuse and others. These women and their marriages all have issues, problems with their marriages, dealing with traumas from the past. Considering everything that was tackled in this book it should not have worked but it did, and that is to the author's credit.

    Everything leads up to trivia night at the school and that will bring revelations, disasters and many will find themselves changed. Loved every minute of this one.

    16131115

    This wasn't the most exciting book I've read. There have been a group of 4 women who are married to medical students who decide one August to go away for a week just to talk and relax while their husbands are busy at the hospitals where they work and learn. As each year goes by, the 4 women continue to rent a beach house and meet for one week. Their husbands move on to get into their specialties and their medical practices. As one doctor's wife is gone from the group, he remarries and the next wife joins. Finally when one wife passes away, the other 3 don't meet for about 3 years. Then there is a new wife so they are invited to her family's island for 2 weeks. The 4 women go and try to figure out the new, much younger wife. There are misunderstandings and squabbles but, of course, they all bond together in the end. This is a light read...one for a long weekend.
    Here's the book description...
    Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.
    And another reader's review...
    Oh my, Anne Rivers Siddons. I hate to say it, but I think it's time to retire. I can't believe I ever used to enjoy and look forward her novels. Granted, it was way back in the 90s when I was a big fan of her work. I loved reading one of her big, family dramas on vacation every year. Have my tastes changed so drastically, or has her work gone downhill so significantly?Whatever the reason, this particular novel was b-a-d. The dialog was forced and unrealistic. The characters were flat and one-dimensional. The plot was dull and predictable; using every classic "beach read" theme possible. Perhaps most bizarre was the strange juxtaposition of the last two chapters. Why were they seemingly reversed? And to what purpose was the BIG ending thrown in at the last (literally, last) possible moment. It did nothing to help move the "drama" (newsflash: there was none) or the story along. It just seemed like ARS had some story notes and suddenly realized she had forgotten a key element and threw it in. She should have ended the book at the end of chapter seven, in my opinion.

    As usual, my question when it comes to poorly written books like this is; where was the editor, and why wasn't she/he doing their job?

    So, once again, it is nearly time for the holidays.   I got all my Christmas cards addressed and sent out last week.  I wrapped and shipped all the out-of-town gifts last week too.  I still have some gifts for the family here in town to gather together into gift bags.  And then we will be nearly done with 2014.   I have to say that I am pleased that I survived my first year of "firsts" without my husband.  I am looking forward to next year too.  I'm hoping things go well for everyone.
    Adorable Christmas Cat - lovely, paws, new year, merry christmas, happy new year, holidays, hat, happy holidays, beautiful, magic, sweetness, animals, christmas cat, cat face, pretty, sweet, beauty, holiday, cats, cat eyes, christmas, magic christmas, kitten, cute, kitty, photography, eyes, cat, xmas, adorable         

December 7, 2014

  • DECEMBER DOINGS.....

    You are probably asking why I have a photo of a goat when I love cats so much.  Well, the short version of this story is that a blogger friend of mine is in deep need of some help.

    She took care of her parents when they were older. She moved them into her home and cared for them through illnesses.  When they passed, she used the small amount of money she inherited and paid it on a house with a small barn.  She put all her money into that home and started to raise goats.  She has one daughter who is now a teenager.  She has worked literally night and day, in snow and in ice, and in rain and heat to build up a good herd of goats.  She lives in the Catskill-Hudson Valley of New York.

    She has made cheese and other by-products from the goat milk.  She sells her products to restaurants and at farmers markets.  You would think her life has been fun and easy.  But it has not and it is just getting worse.

    Unfortunately her husband hasn't pulled his own weight.  He has purposely sabotaged every effort she makes to succeed. He works when he feels like it which is not often but he never gives her any money for the utilities or the bills. He spends his money on alcohol.  He runs off any interns she gets to help her on the goat farm.  He won't milk the goats or give them the correct feed.  He has broken much of the machinery she has to use.  He is verbally abusive and goes out of his way to make her life and the life of their daughter miserable.

    She hasn't been able to afford to get a divorce attorney. She has sold off as many things as she can to keep the bills paid.  She is running out of options.  She just found a young attorney who  is willing to help her but now she needs money to retain the attorney, to keep the goats fed this winter, to pay the utilities and to put food on her table.  Not to mention taking care of her daughter who is still in school.  With the cold weather coming up, heavy snowfalls and the holidays, she doesn't have any leeway.

    I am asking all my readers that if you ever donate this time of year, will you consider donating to this woman and her daughter.  Here is a link.....   http://www.gofundme.com/i5ulos

    And if you would like to order some her products from cheese to soap ~ here's a link.   http://acornhillfarmsteadcheeses.com/PRODUCTS.php

    In other areas, I am slowly working on my Christmas card list and gift wrapping.  I'm still rewriting my book and I have 43,785 words to date.  I am trying to read some books as well.

    Thank you for reading this post.