July 27, 2015

  • SOLITARY PLEASURES ~~ WHAT'S YOURS?

    I'm going to be away from my computer in a few days for about a week so I decided to post a blog now.   As usual, I opened up the SIMPLE PLEASURES DAYBOOK by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  Today's essay is entitled SOLITARY PLEASURES.

    "Remember a long time ago when we knew how to play?  Travel back to your childhood and look for clues.  Did you love to play alone?  What were your favorite extracurricular activities in high school or college?  Nothing in our past lives is wasted.  Nothing that made us feel happy and fulfilled is ever lost.  There's a golden thread that runs through each of our lives.  We just need to rediscover it before the joy of living is gone."

    Have a brainstorming session on paper.  Quickly list 10 pleasures you had or still have.  Don't give this a lot of thought but don't be surprised if it takes you a few minutes to think of ten.

    Here's some help.   What were your favorite childhood games?  What was your favorite sport?  What about your favorite movie?  And a favorite book?  Favorite singer or movie star?  What was the best time you had as a child?  Favorite vacation or meal or clothing?  If you could instantly acquire three skills, what would they be?  What about three outrageous things you would do if no one else could find out ~~  swimming naked, belly dancing, singing in the rain?  What about three daring things you have always wanted to try ~~ Sky diving, riding a motorcycle, stand-up comedy?  Do you like to work with your hands?  Have you tried needlecraft, crocheting, painting?

    "Get the idea?  There's a fabulous world out there just waiting to be explored.  We simple have to be willing to experiment.  A hobby affords us a marvelous opportunity to awaken our natural talents.  It does require a shake-up in our every day world and maybe...some bravery too.  Figure out what you might like to do and then carve out some time to try.  Alice James said "Truly nothing is to be expected but the unexpected. "   Search for and find a solitary pleasure that would make you jump out of bed every morning to pursue and then see what happens."

    I'm changing up my every day world this week.  One of my sisters is coming to visit for a few days.  Then I am riding back to her home in Texas for about a week.  I will be visiting another sister while I am there.  It's the first time I have left home since my husband passed away.  And the first time I am living my cats alone.  My son will be checking on them but they will be alone most of the time.

    This past week, I discovered my indoor cats had fleas.  OH NO!   I got some Advantage II serum for both of them and some flea collars and a flea comb.  I have been washing up all the places they have been sleeping and I just scrubbed the kitchen floor, vacuumed several times and so on.  The youngest cat seems to be doing well.  No flea or eggs in her fur this morning.  I couldn't find any on the bigger cat either but he continues to scratch and seems grouchier than usual.  I am going to give him another dose of the Advantage II today since it has been 8 days...(the instructions said I can).  I am hoping they both be flea free before I leave in a week.

             

    I'm still using colored pencils to color every evening as I watch TV.

         STEAMPUNK GIRLMANDALA OF FISH

    I also read a couple of books.

    22535513      I especially enjoyed this book. The main character is a nurse. She has come back home in the hopes that bringing the doctor she used to work with will give them a chance to live more comfortably. They have no money and it is in the early 1930's. Of course, once they arrive, nothing goes well. The doctor has been showing signs of dementia and the nurse is doing everything she can to care for him. She is asked by a midwife to assist in the area and tells stories about the various births she handles. She also finds work anywhere she can to get a few pennies to buy food. As she works, she takes the doctor who is mute most of the time with her and he slowly starts to come back to his former self.

    The descriptions of the times makes me realize how fortunate we are now. I can appreciate the hard work of our ancestors who did whatever they could to make a living.

    Here's the book description...The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit

    The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.

    Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.

    But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

    Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series.

    And another reader's review...

    This is a book that once you turn the first page, you will not be able to put down. We are transported to the 1930’s in America, and back to West Virginia, the Great Depression. West Virginia is at 80% unemployment, and nurse Becky Meyers finds herself homeless and also the caretaker of her former boss Dr. Isaac Blum.
    I felt myself walking in Becky’s shoes, looking at the bread lines, and having feelings of doubt as a baby is about to come into the world. I was holding to tooth brush as we brushed Dr. Blum’s teeth. I had a lot of admiration for this woman, and what a hard lot in life she had been given, but she rolled with the punches, and came out a winner.
    We also walk in Dr. Blum’s shoes, and sometimes, we wish we didn’t, such pain he kept locked up in his silence. What a blessing Hestor is to him, and even if he is stoic he seems to respond silently to help.
    I feel blessed to have never lived during the Great Depression, but the author has painted a picture of that time that will linger a long time with you. This is a book not to be missed!

    15799339      I don't think the title goes with the book well but that isn't important in the long run. This story is about 3 grown children (2 women, 1 man) who return home because they can't seem to get their lives in order. The mother, "Weezy" Louise Coffey is very happy to have them all back home. She worries and frets about each one and does everything she can think to encourage them. The title refers to Weezy because HER parents always said she was the smart one and her sister was the pretty one. They expected her sister to do much better than Weezy ever would.
    As the story goes on, we learn who really was the smart one. Who married well. Who loved her children. Who knew what was important. And Weezy's children finally find their way and figure out what is best for them too.

    Here's the book description....

    With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses, Jennifer Close captured friendship in those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. Now, with her sparkling new novel of parenthood and sibling rivalry, Close turns her gimlet eye to the only thing messier than friendship: family.

    Weezy Coffey’s parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. “Maureen will marry well,” their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose—thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.

    But now that Weezy’s own children are adults, they haven’t exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy’s middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment—leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.

    As the Coffey children’s various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.

    And another reader's review...

    The Smart One is a wonderful story about the Coffeys' (and, by extension, those connected to them: relatives, girlfriends, best friends, friends from high school, colleagues) and the ups and downs in their lives. Each chapter by each POV is absolutely wonderful, drawing the readers into the lives of this family and the perspective of each character in focus. The author does a fantastic job is really bring their perspectives to life, understand what it means to be a mother worrying for her children long after her children had left home, what it's like to be an absolute low psychologically. The book's also a gem because of its take on life.

    The Smart One is a lyrical and poignant novel about life, family and growing up. It's amusing, it's frustrating (like family can be at times), it's ultimately endearing; I was sad when I reached the last page of the novel because I wanted to continue hanging out with the Coffeys. I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for something new to read.

      

July 18, 2015

  • HOW DO YOU FIND CONTENTMENT?

    Oh NO!   It's been a month since I wrote a blog!   I can't believe how quickly the summer is passing by.

    So, of course, I opened up the SIMPLE ABUNDANCE DAYBOOK by Sarah Ban Breathnach to see what words of wisdom she had for us.  She has an essay about carving out time for personal pursuits that bring contentment.  Very appropriate for today, I think.  She mentioned how many famous actors and writers and explorers often use other means besides their life's work  to find contentment.  Some writers like to cook while thinking of the next plot of their stories, some like to garden or knit or fill sketchbooks with beautiful drawings that bring them joy.

    "We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations." writer Toni Morrison has observed.  "I'm not sure we deserve such a big A-plus for that."

    Sarah Ban Breathnach writes "But the house calls to us.  The children call to us.  The work calls to us. When, then, does the painting or the poem call to us?   It probably calls every day.  We are too busy listening to everybody else instead of our  authentic selves.  Maybe we have convinced ourselves that we really don't have the time for personal pursuits that bring us contentment if they take longer than 15 minutes.  Perhaps we don't hear the whispers of authentic longings because we don't want to hear.  If we do hear, we might have to acknowledge, even respond.  We're afraid to hear the promptings of the woman who wants to learn how to draw, dance, raise orchids, re-upholster furnitre or cook.  We might have to take a class or buy a book, a pad and pencil, a leotard, a plant, a fabric or special ingredients.   There's no time to be passionate, we have to be practical.  Essential, uncompromised longings will have to wait until there's more time: when the children are back in school, when our parents are feeling better, when things let up at work."

    "How about a different answer that we haven't heard before?  How about: My authentic passions will have to wait until I'm ready to admit that pursuing them is essential for my happiness?  How about: "I haven't learned yet how to put myself on the list of priorities?  You don't have to be the first on the list but you DO have to be ON the list."

    The Victorian writer Mary Ann Evans knew how to be practical about her passion for writing.  She assumed a man's pen name, George Eliot, so that her novels MIDDLEMARCH, SILAS MARNER, and THE MILL ON THE FLOSS would be published in an age that discounted the authentic longings of women.  This is what she said about master passions. "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive.  There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good and we MUST hunger after them."

    "Space and time to nurture our creativity may be one of our authentic hungers.  Perhaps we think that only food, drink, work, sex, shopping or pills can reduce the gnawing to a dull throb.  But maybe if we took an hour a day to paint, to write or to make something ~ we wouldn't be in pain ~ physical or psychic.   JUST MAYBE."

    I have been thinking about this essay since I read it this morning.  I know I have pursued some different passions for myself this summer.  My husband was the yard person.  He excelled in making our lawn look like a golf course.  He weeded and mowed and weed-whipped and manicured our lawn at the big house.  When we got here to the downsizer, he was already ill so he hired someone to cut the grass.  He didn't take much interest in how it looked at all.  For the past 2 summers, I have planted a few bulbs and plants.  This summer, they are starting to grow well.  I wanted to make the backyard look nice.  With the help of my neighbor, we dug out a flower garden.  I have been buying perennials and we have put down sheeting to keep the weeds down and mulched.  It really is looking nice.

    The next  two photos are before the mulch was added...

      

    Getting the backyard looking better has taken a lot of time and effort...but it has been worth it.

    Another interest I have been pursuing is coloring with colored pencils.  I seem to spend hours coloring in the evening.  Here's a few examples...

                 

    And I also managed to read two books.

    22535513    I especially enjoyed this book. The main character is a nurse. She has come back home in the hopes that bringing the doctor she used to work with will give them a chance to live more comfortably. They have no money and it is in the early 1930's. Of course, once they arrive, nothing goes well. The doctor has been showing signs of dementia and the nurse is doing everything she can to care for him. She is asked by a midwife to assist in the area and tells stories about the various births she handles. She also finds work anywhere she can to get a few pennies to buy food. As she works, she takes the doctor who is mute most of the time with her and he slowly starts to come back to his former self.

    The descriptions of the times makes me realize how fortunate we are now. I can appreciate the hard work of our ancestors who did whatever they could to make a living.

    Here's the book description....
    The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spiritThe Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.

    But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

    Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series.

    and another readers's review...
     This is a book that once you turn the first page, you will not be able to put down. We are transported the 1930’s in America, and back to West Virginia, the Great Depression. West Virginia is at 80% unemployment, and nurse Becky Meyers finds herself homeless and also the caretaker of her former boss Dr. Isaac Blum. 
    I felt myself walking in Becky’s shoes, looking at the bread lines, and having feelings of doubt as a baby is about to come into the world. I was holding onto the tooth brush as we brushed Dr. Blum’s teeth. I had a lot of admiration for this woman, and what a hard lot in life she had been given, but she rolled with the punches, and came out a winner.
    We also walk in Dr. Blum’s shoes, and sometimes, we wish we didn’t ~ such pain he kept locked up in his silence. What a blessing Hestor is to him, and even if he is stoic he seems to respond silently to help. 
    I feel blessed to have never lived during the Great Depression, but the author has painted a picture of that time that will linger a long time with you. This is a book not to be missed!
    15818107    I really enjoyed this story based on the history of the orphan trains in our country. Between 1854 and 1929, trains filled with orphaned children traveled from the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, bringing children who needed homes. Some of them were quickly chosen...some to become farm hands or mother's helpers, some to be treated harshly and some were lucky enough to find a good home and people who loved them. In this book, a young Irish girl travels across the country. She is taken in to help a family with their children but she is not treated well. She is then given to another family or two until she finally finds a place where she feels welcome. After she has grown up and is in the latter stage of her life, she meets a young girl who is in trouble. Somehow they become friends and their individual stories are shared.
    Here's the book description...
    The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

    Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

    The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

    Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

     

    And another reader's review...
    When I was 16 my Great Aunt Pauline told me the saddest true story. I asked her about her background, she was of Polish decent in a completely German town in Washington State. She told me that when her family came over from Poland her mother had pink eye, and was sent back to Poland to try again. She was pregnant and when she got back, she had a child that was not listed on the papers. She put the baby in a suitcase to keep the officials at Ellis Island from finding her and separating her again. That baby was Pauline. They went out west, and her mother died several years later in child birth. Pauline remembered being set out on the porch with her younger siblings, the babies in a laundry basket, and her father standing on the porch as people came by to pick out who they wanted. She was older and chosen last and by a couple with a different language and moved to this area she ended up in. She said, "They picked us out as if we were puppies in a basket. I am not a puppy in a basket." I am crying just remembering the pain in her voice when she told me this. She told me she didn't see any of her siblings until she was an adult, and that the couple trained her in how to be a good worker. What a childhood for one of the sweetest women I ever knew. I wish I had recorded her story, asked more questions, there is never enough time. This book told a similar tale, and I could not put it down. It rang so true. Read it! 
    SO HOW WILL YOU FIND CONTENTMENT....?
        

June 18, 2015

  • ARE YOU BLOSSOMING?

    You are correct...it's been several days since I last blogged.  Once again, time seems to be sucked out of my computer room once I am inside of it.  I have great intentions or is that...  GREAT EXPECTATIONS... of blogging and then days go by and I am nearly at the end of another week without any accomplishment that I care to mention.

    Since I last posted an entry...no one has visited my page.  I am wondering why?  If you are reading this...there is another blog before this one that you might enjoy.  I've continued using colored pencils and coloring books to relax in the evening.  I have to say I have become a bit obsessed with it.  I just ordered a few more coloring books and it didn't cost me a cent because I used some DISCOVER REWARD points.

     

      

    I also used some online survey points and got some gift cards for restaurants.  I decided since I had not used many of those points, I should get something out of them.  Restaurant gift cards are nice.

    ****

    I opened up the SIMPLE ABUNDANCE Daybook by Sarah Ban Breathnach for inspiration once again.  Here is what I read...

    AFFORDABLE SPLENDOR.

    "There never has been a house so bad that it couldn't be made over into something worthwhile." by Elsie De Wolfe.

    Many of us live in homes that could use some encouragement....we could and would like to make it look fresh and interesting. It might make us excited to open the door to see what we have created.   Sarah Ban Breathnach said when she was poor, she lived in one room in an old Victorian house.  One day she bought a bolt of fabric that was on sale.  She spent her weekend fashioning a bedspread, table cover and covering the walls and ceiling with the fabric.  It was like her own little palace.  She found a book by Diana Phipps titled AFFORDABLE SPLENDOR and read how Ms. Phipps did much of the same thing.  She couldn't sew, couldn't afford new furniture so she got a bolt of fabric that she loved and used it to cheer up her space.  She didn't use professionals because of the cost.  "Instead she does it all herself and the stunning shortcuts she has devised are aimed for people whose purse, like hers, fall short of having it done by others."

    Sarah Ban Breathnach believes "we are all just as clever as Diana.  We just  haven't accessed our authenticity to the extent she has, because she trusts her "eye" and creative impulses.  She acts on her instincts.  We hold back, hesitate, halt ourselves --and end by snuffing out the spark.  Today, please be convinced that you can find a room in your home that can be transformed by using fabric, paint, a saw or hammer, staple gun and your own imagination, time and energy."

    In her next essay, Sarah Ban Breathnach asks "How much time, creative energy and emotion we expend resisting change because we assume change will be painful.  Personal growth is uncomfortable, especially learning to set boundaries in relationships.  When we choose to nurture our authentic selves, people who are close to us start noticing that changes are taking place.  This is the season when growth in the garden, is now accelerating.  It's that season for us as well as we are six months into the year.  "It can be difficult to express your authentic needs by saying "Sorry, I can't" when everyone assumes that you can.  But it's worse to thwart the growth of your authenticity.  The day will come--maybe  it's now--when it is more painful to remain still than to blossom."

     

           GO FORTH AND BLOSSOM....

    ****

    In other news, I have read some books.

    22609470       3 of 5 stars  bookshelves: familyfriendsmothers-and-daughters   Read on June 05, 2015

    This is an autobiography by Candice Bergen. It was hard for me to get into the book at first. A lot of famous names and places were mentioned and discussed. Once Candice started talking about the television shows of MURPHY BROWN and BOSTON LEGAL, the pace of the writing picked up. She was married for a very long time to Louis Malle, a famous French Director and the father of her only child, Chloe.

    After a few years, she met and married again. She has quite a sense of humor and adventure. She seems like someone who would be wonderful to know as a friend in real life. She admits that growing older is not for the faint of heart and never takes herself too seriously.

    Here's the book description...
    In the follow-up to Knock Wood,her bestselling engaging, intelligent, and wittily self-deprecating autobiography, Candice Bergen shares the big events: her marriage to a famous French director, the birth of her daughter, Murphy Brown, widowhood,  falling in love again, and watching her daughter blossom.A Fine Romance begins with Bergen's charming first husband, French director Louis Malle, whose huge appetite for life broadened her horizons and whose occasional darkness never diminished their love for each other. But her real romance begins when she discovers overpowering love for her daughter after years of ambivalence about motherhood. As Chloe grows up, Bergen finds her comic genius in the biggest TV role of the 80s, Murphy Brown, and makes unwanted headlines when Dan Quayle pulls her into the 1992 presidential campaign.

    Fifteen years into their marriage, Malle is diagnosed with cancer, and Candice is unflinching in describing her and Chloe's despair over his death. But after years of widowhood, she feels the sweet shock of finding a different kind of soulmate. Candice takes us through the first years of her new marriage and shares the bittersweetness of watching Chloe leave home and flourish; and the comedy of a losing battle against those damn wrinkles and extra pounds.

    A natural writer, Candice is hilarious, brutally honest, down-to-earth, and wise. She may be a beautiful Hollywood actress with a charmed life, but Candice is someone who can talk frankly about extraordinary events. Readers who pull up a chair will feel like they've just made a best friend.

     

    And another reader's review...
    I would give this book a 4.5.  I have been a fan of Candice Bergen for a long time. I read her first book "Knock Wood" years ago. A Fine Romance picks up after Knock Wood. She spends a lot of the book discussing the three loves of her life. Her first husband Louis Malle, Her daughter Chloe, the child she had with Louis Malle, and her second husband Marshall Rose.
    She is very candid about her life. I like that she did not paint herself as "flawless".She writes about the fifteen years she was married to french director Louis Malle up to losing him to cancer in 1995.  Leaving her with a young daughter to raise.
    I was glad to see her write about the years she spent on Murphy Brown, one of my favorite shows during the time it ran  .I only wished she had shared more about her experience on this terrific show. I also wished she had written more about the movies she was in instead of a few brief paragraphs.
    Another part of the book is finding new love and marrying her second husband, a wealthy businessman Marshall Rose. Of course a large part of her book is about her daughter Chloe. She had a baby later in l life at 39 .and found she loved being a mom to her fabulous daughter. there are some name dropping about all the famous people she has known. and talks of her mother, and brother Kris. I liked this book. I was glad she wrote a second book about her life. If anyone is a fan of Candice Bergen they may enjoy reading her latest memoir. I did.!!
    22318578  3 of 5 stars  bookshelves: self-improvement  Read on June 07, 2015

    This is a small book but it is filled with good advice. The author is Japanese and uses many illustrations which relate to the Japanese culture. She thanks her home and her clothes and her other possessions for doing a fine job. While this is not what I do, I did incorporate a few of her suggestions already. She insists that having lots of storage containers does not unclutter the home. Instead it just keeps the extra things you don't need in the home and as a result, your life is filled with too much. First, she says, you must unclutter your space. Pull all the clothes out of all the closets and pile them together. Then decide on keeping, donating or throwing away. After you have completed that task, then fold the clothes into squares or rectangles and put them in drawers upright...Yes, that's right. You can easily see every color and pattern and make a selection. You actually have more room in your drawer. Of course, there are hanging clothes for closets. She suggested putting them in categories such hot or cold weather clothing, color, and so on.
    For the most part, I think her plan is very good. Having a space for everything and putting it away after you use it works so easily. It saves you time, frustration, prevents duplication and makes your life easier.
    Here's my sock drawer and underwear drawer after folding and storing per the book suggestions
      
    Here's the book description...
    Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

    With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

    And another reader's review...
    Though this book can be a little woo-woo and a little repetitive, I have to give it five stars for the impact it has already had on my life. I love collecting stuff and have a very hard time letting go. The author's techniques allowed me to graciously and gratefully bid adieu to things I no longer love, and I felt *amazing* when I did both my clothing and book purges. (My sister asked if I was high!) I still have much more to do, but I'm trying to do one step a week. HIGHLY recommended.
    22716194  3 of 5 stars  bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage  Read on June 15, 2015

    This book really hits close to home for me. My husband was a police officer and his family has had Huntington's Disease for several generations. In fact, his family is part of a study in Indiana because so many of the members of the family have passed down the gene, suffered and died from it. Fortunately my husband did not have the disease so our son is safe. This story really educates the reader on the disease and how it affects the entire family...those who get the disease, those who have the gene and those who are lucky enough to live without HD. It's the most horrible thing to see your brothers-in-law and sister=in-law, mother-in-law and other relatives go through this course of illness...knowing there is nothing you can do but be supportive and loving.   The book also brought forward how depression and worry and other factors can make such big changes in everyone's life.
    Here's the book description...
    From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

    Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

    As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

    Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.

    and another reader's review...
    Huntington's Disease is a cruel disease. Once you're gene positive, there's no way out of it. The symptoms are terrible and will worsen over time. I can only feel sympathy toward people who have this merciless disease. As a future doctor, it only pains me to see how hopeless this disease is right now, but I have faith that one day there will be cure for this. It's only a matter of time.While there are hundreds of books regarding romance with health resulting to death incorporated, I believe that this novel aims to inform. It's not supposed to make you feel light hearted, but rather to inform you how serious this condition is. There's a chapter in the end that provides a link wherein you can donate to help develop a cure. I honestly don't think that was meant to be a gimmick, because the author seems to exude genuine concern toward this matter. It can also be seen in the acknowledgments.

    So enough with the disease awareness, I'm now going to talk about the novel itself. The perfect way for me to describe it would be that it was completely immersing. The plot was very interesting, and the characters are genuine and life-like. This novel is about a family with a father who has HD and a 50-50 chance of his children inheriting it. It was interesting to read about the family's way of coping with the disease. If the author was true to his word that he really did research on this (interviewing actual victims) then this novel was fantastic. I don't want to spoil anything but all I can say is that I hated and loved the ending. I want more of this book. It should've been longer. I didn't want to part ways with the characters. It feels like I still need time to read about their journey with HD. I'll surely remember them for a very long time. This is the only novel that truly made me feel like shit after reading. Anything medicine related is a plus point for me, in terms of enjoyment.

    So....that's all for this time, kids.
             

     

June 3, 2015

  • MAY I ASK A QUESTION, PLEASE?

    Once again, it has been weeks since I last posted a blog.  Honestly, I really don't know where the time goes.  I think I remember going to the blood bank to have my blood drawn, getting a mammogram and seeing my doctor.  Everything was just fine and I don't go back to the doctor until November of this year.

    Then I know I spent time on Facebook...too much time... but I love to play some of the games like Criminal Case, Candy Crush and Words with Friends.  I think it keeps my mind active.  I've coloring more pages too.  I'll put a sample on here for you to see.  I can lose 2 or 3 hours coloring...to be honest.  Then there is television programs that I record to watch.  And somewhere in there I find time to sit down and read a book or magazine too.

    And in-between all of that, I do a little work in the yard with my plants and go to the grocery store, take care of my cats, clean the house, do laundry and those sorts of things too.

    So, I got out my book of SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach to see what wisdom she has for me today.

    The entry for June 3rd is ASK, ASK, ASK.

    This seems appropriate because I don't like to ask for help.  I want to be independent but as I get older and since I live alone now...there are times I need help.  

    "When was the last time you felt comfortable asking anybody for anything--for advice, for help, or even for directions?  Sarah said she discovered something that brought a sense of adventure into her life.  It's so simple, it's scary.  It's ASKING for what we want.  Help. Advice. Wisdom. Guidance. Information.   Sarah decided to risk it all and asked a friend, who always was dressed so beautifully where she shopped.  The woman gave her great advice including the name of a store where sales is often going on.  ASK to get on a store mailing list. and you might get unadvertised notice of sales."

    "We want, we need, we desire but often we don't just ask.  Longings cross our mind but we don't commit ourselves enough to ask the questions.  We don't ask because we are afraid someone will say NO!  But who? It doesn't matter.   It could be your spirit, a higher power, your spouse, your boss.  When wishful thinking doesn't bring what we desire, we feel we have been denied.  So the next time, we choose not to ask but just continue to wish and getting nowhere.  It's no wonder we feel discouraged."

    "Asking comes with no guarantees.  But it you don't ask, you haven't got a chance of success.   So today, start asking for what you want.  If you see someone with a great haircut, ask them where they got it done.  If you have a good meal, ask for the recipe.  Ask someone to take your kids for an afternoon and promise to take their children on another day.  Ask your children to pick up their toys."

    ..ASK THEM AGAIN!!!. LOL

    "Ask for a day off when you just need some time for yourself and can't face a day at work.  Ask for a raise too! Ask your favorite store when the next sale is planned.  Ask for higher power or spirit guide for some grace.  Some answers .  Ask your guardian angel for some insight,  And while you are in the asking mood, ask for a miracle."

    "Ask for what you need and want.  Ask to be taught the right questions to ask and how to accept the answers when they are not what you expected.  Ask for the Divine plan for your life to unfold in a way that  you can understand and accept it.  Ask politely and sincerely.  Ask with a grateful heart and you will be heard."

    JUST ASK...

    ***************************

        

    I did read a couple of books since the last time I posted too.

    22841065     3 of 5 stars - Read in May, 2015

    This book is only 145 pages but it tells the life story of an Irish woman from her 7th birthday into her 60's. She has many changes in her life throughout the story. She travels from Ireland to the United States and back again. She seems to always feel like there is something else that she is searching to find. I thought the story was interesting but very sad. This is a very quick read, obviously, but it packs in a lot of story-line.
    Here's the book description...
    Academy Street is the heart-breaking and evocative story of one woman’s life spanning six decades. Tess’s childhood in 1940’s rural Ireland is defined by the sudden death of her mother. Later, in New York, she encounters the ferocious power and calamity of love, and the effects of catastrophic fate. The novel resonates with the rhythms of memory and home as well as those of America’s greatest city.  This is an intimate story about unexpected gifts and unbearable losses, and the perpetual ache for belonging. It is exquisitely written and profoundly moving.
    And another reader's review...
    Mary Costello's debut novel Academy Street is a short novel spanning four decades and tells the story of Tess who emigrates to America from the West of Ireland in the 1960s. 

    The blurb of this novel really had me excited about this book as it was described as....."Joyous and heart-breaking, restrained but sweeping, this is a profoundly moving story that charts one woman's quest for belonging amid the dazzle and tumult of America's greatest city"

    Unfortunately I found the book neither joyous or heart-breaking. I really found no emotion in the story and felt I was reading a diary of Tess's life over the years and I failed to get a sense of the person that Tess really was. I possibly connected better with the first half of the novel and liked the feel of 1940s Ireland. I wanted to be moved by Tess and her sad life but I just couldn't relate to this character. I finished the novel and felt no emotion or for the events on Academy street and think perhaps there was too much going on in this little novel.   However the prose in this novel is good and many of my friends have loved this story and the characters.  It was just not my favorite.

    Lost Lake       4 of 5 stars - Read in May, 2015

    This was an interesting book based on going back in time and place to a lake campground that one of the main characters had run with her beloved husband. Just as she thinks she may have to sell the land, a niece returns with her own daughter to the place where she spent her favorite 2 weeks years before. As the women meet other old friends, they work together to try to figure out what it was about Lost Lake that was so very special. This book has a happy ending and brings everyone together once again. It's a good weekend book to read and enjoy.
    Here's the book description...
    Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?  Sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again.
    And another reader's review...
    I don’t really know what this it with this author, but every book of her leaves me with a smile on my face and this book was no exception. 
    The stories have always some magical aspects, and backgrounds so sweet and perfect, that makes impossible not wanting to be a part of these book-worlds. 
    This was a beautiful story about a mother and a daughter, about a small town, about friendship and loyalty. About healing, and forgiving and romance and the magic that surrounds all of it.  I can’t say anything else except that I loved it. 

     

    I    

    And finally, here are some of my favorite colored pages done with colored pencils.

     

    ....Aren't you glad you asked?

May 16, 2015

  • DO YOU NEED A CLUTTER FAIRY? HMMM?

                                            

    I was looking at my book by Sarah Ban Breathnach (SIMPLE ABUNDANCE) today to get some inspiration for a blog.   It was interesting to read that her essay for today was Clearing Out What Isn't Useful or Beautiful.

    According to her ..."Our authentic decorative deliverance arrives when we begin to appreciate and put to use the rule of ridding ourselves of anything we do not believe to be beautiful or useful--as we restore order to our homes and simplify our lives."

    "Beginning this week, with a pad and pencil, browse through the rooms of your home meditatively.  Let the Divine spirits of simplicity, order, harmony and beauty accompany you.  Really LOOK at your surroundings--your furniture and decorative accessories.  Give thanks for your home exactly as it exists today.  NOW...begin the inquiry.  Ask each possession, Are YOU beautiful?  Useful?  Is it time for you to move on?  You will undoubtedly come to an object that is neither beautiful or useful but has sentimental qualities.  You can create a new category on your list but have restraint.  Does it really tug at your heart?  Would you mourn if it disappeared?  Be truthful.  Listen to your authentic self.  Write it all down and think about it before you take action."

    The next step is to make a commitment in writing, on  your calendar to go through one room a month.  On that day, plan to spend a few hours.  Be sure you have plenty of boxes available.  Now, start to sort: if it's not beautiful, useful or sentimental ~~ it goes.  One pile for items to be given away to charities.  One pile for perfectly good objects that no longer make your heart beat faster.  These might be recycled for others who would enjoy them."

    "There's an ancient metaphysical law that says if we desire more abundance in our lives, we must create a vacuum to allow ourselves to receive the good we seek.  How can more good come into our lives if there is no room for it?  The way we create the vacuum is by giving away what we no longer need or desire but what can still serve others."

    We all change as we grow.  This includes our personal style.  If you no longer love Fiesta dishes and want to collect another china or if the fancy china doesn't match your casual style, give them away.  Deciding to simplify our lives and bring order to our homes by sending on the objects we no longer love to a new happier life with people who will genuinely appreciate them is the way to open ourselves up to receiving an abundance that will more perfectly suit us."

    So, I guess I need to heed my own words and do this.  I have been saying that it's time to go through the house again.  I have many things that are stuffed into closets and storage areas that I haven't used or even wanted since my husband passed away.  I think it is time to move it on to someone else who may need it.   Since I've lost about 23-25 lbs, I have some clothes that are too big.  I've given some away but I need to clean out the closet once again.  No need for all those blankets and dishes and coffee mugs that I have stocked away.  I have bookcases full of books that I need to read and then donate.  And stacks of magazines that I need to get read too.

         

    THIS IS NOT MY HOME......

    AND NEITHER IS THIS.....

        

     

    AND THEN YOU CAN DO THIS.....

          

    Well, now I am exhausted!   I need to go read a book.  I recently ordered a book from the library entitled THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo.  I'll let you know if it has some good ideas.

        

     

    I did just finish     22522170

    This is an autobiography that Brooke Shields wrote about herself and her relationship with her mother. Most of us probably have heard how Teri Shields drank to excess and was Brooke's manager for many years. They had a loving yet difficult relationship. Teri always wanted to be in control and yet she would allow Brooke to do "her own thing" as well. Brooke was always searching for the perfect mother-daughter relationship and yet she didn't ever want to leave her mother.
    Brooke also wrote about her relationship with Dean Cain and Andre Agassi. She was married to Andre for about 5 years. They were dear friends but didn't seem to do well as a married couple. She has been married now to the father of her two daughters for several years. She even mentioned that Tom Cruise was a friend over the years even though he had made remarks about Brooke taking antidepressants when she had her first daughter. She had quite a difficult time conceiving her first child but was finally successful. Brooke had quite an interesting life. Most of it wasn't easy but she still holds those memories dear.
    Here's the book description....
    Actress and author of the New York Times bestseller Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields, explores her relationship with her unforgettable mother, Teri, in her new memoir.Brooke Shields never had what anyone would consider an ordinary life. She was raised by her Newark-tough single mom, Teri, a woman who loved the world of show business and was often a media sensation all by herself. Brooke's iconic modeling career began by chance when she was only eleven months old, and Teri's skills as both Brooke's mother and manager were formidable. But in private she was troubled and drinking heavily.

    As Brooke became an adult the pair made choices and sacrifices that would affect their relationship forever. And when Brooke’s own daughters were born she found that her experience as a mother was shaped in every way by the woman who raised her. But despite the many ups and downs, Brooke was by Teri’s side when she died in 2012, a loving daughter until the end.

    Only Brooke knows the truth of the remarkable, difficult, complicated woman who was her mother. And now, in an honest, open memoir about her life growing up, Brooke will reveal stories and feelings that are relateable to anyone who has been a mother or daughter.

    And another reader's review...
    Being a woman of a "certain age", I grew up with Brooke Shields and always loved her. I knew of her alcoholic "momager" through all of the gossip mags of the time. Brooke recounts so much of her childhood and how the co-dependency shaped her career and life. It's hard not to feel sorry for the little girl who felt that she had to take care of her mother. However, Brooke does a good job of painting both sides, the pain and the pride that her mom felt as she watched Brooke succeed.
       

May 9, 2015

  • IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I LAST POSTED.....DID YOU EVEN NOTICE?

     

    I'm sorry it's been so long.  Once again, time has rushed by and I don't know where or what I have been doing.....Did you miss me?

    So what has kept me so busy....I have no idea!   I have been working in my backyard with the help of my duplex neighbor.  She is such a good person and we share our gardening tools and other items.  She does some lawn care on the side to make extra money.  Some of her customers give her plants they don't want any longer.  She has been sharing them with me.  She recently got a chokecherry tree and planted it in my yard.  It's only been about a week and it has gone from some bare branches to having leaves!   I bought some other plants and  have been putting them in.  She still wants to dig up more of my yard for planting so it is an on-going process.  Next year, the yard should look even better once the plants take root.

    I've also been on Facebook quite a bit. Trying to keep up with some games I play.  And I have continued to do colored pencil coloring pages every evening  too.  It's quite relaxing.

    My book reading time has really suffered.  I have returned more books that I didn't even open this year.  I need to make reading a priority once again.  I am determined to get back to it.

     

    My son and daughter-in-law just made a purchase of a used 1999 5th wheel which is permanently installed in a campsite about an hour from here.  My son took me to see it last week.  It's really nice.  I know they are going to enjoy their little getaway place for a very long time.  They are right next to a lake too.  The campsite is in Amish and Mennonite country.  I love hearing the clip-clop of the horse drawn buggies.  We saw farmers with their teams of 4 to 6 horses pulling plows to get the fields ready for crops.  Such a lovely area to drive through.

                  

                    These are some of my favorite pictures on that life style.

     

    I decided to check into SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach once again to see what she wrote on this date in her book.

    The essay title is GETTING YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER.    She talks about how most of us let our housework go as long as possible because we are so busy with our lives.  "Many of us approach housework as unrelenting, repetitive, exhausting and unproductive until it reaches the point of no return!"   What she discovered is that "ORDER is the third principle that needs to be embraced on our path in life.  Although we often fight it....the virtue of ORDER seems very old-fashioned, unimaginative and uninspired, dreary, cheerless and well...A CHORE!"   But as she reflected on the simple, uncluttered serene lives of the Amish, the Quakers and the Shakers, she was struck by their seamless stitching together of life, work and art of living.

    "Order shapes every part and nurtures every nuance of their lives, from their daily schedule of tasks to the way they express themselves authentically through their surroundings.  Mother Ann Lee who founded the United Society of Believers in the First and Second Appearance of Christ in 1774, told her followers to remember that "order was  heaven's first law.  "there is no dirt in  Heaven." she counseled.  Members of the Shaker Society were to keep their personal belongings and tools in such perfect order that they could be found at a moment's notice, day or night.  The Shakers elevated ORDER to a sacred art: just to gaze at the exquisite beauty and brilliance of Shaker built-in drawers and cupboards is to know that in the House of Spirit a pine cubbyhole awaits with your name on it.  The Shakers believe that their daily work, including  housekeeping, is a personal expression of worship."

    "Prayer and housekeeping--they go together.  They have always gone together.  We simple know that our daily round IS how we live.  When we clean and order our homes, we are somehow also cleaning and ordering ourselves." Gunilla Norris tells us in her book, BEING HOME.  How we care for our home is a subtle but significant expression of our self-esteem."

     

                                    

     

     

    And then there are always the cats to amuse me and take up my time.....

     

           

April 7, 2015

  • SPRINGTIME AND OTHER THINGS...

    I do believe that Spring is finally peeking into Northern Indiana to decide if it is safe to appear!  One way I know is because my eyes have been itching and my nose is twitching and I have a slight headache which usually means ALLERGY SEASON!    Nevertheless, I am happy to see some green grass and even some rain to make the plants grow.  I don't know if anything I planted last year is going to make it so I am interested in watching whatever comes up in the yard.

    I was checking to see what the Spring 2015 colors are this season.

    The lead color for women for the Spring/Summer 2015 season, according to PANTONE  ~ Aquamarine is an airy blue with a dreamy feel. Cool and calming, ethereal Aquamarine is a shade with a wet and watery feel. Open and expansive, this restful blue also acts as a stress reducer.

    It looks like the usual colors but lots of patterns, polka dots, stripes and flowers.  As a coincidence, I opened up SIMPLE ABUNDANCE to check on what Sarah Ban Breathnach has to say for these current days and she also wrote about THE COLOR STORY.
    "ADORNMENT IS NEVER ANYTHING BUT A REFLECTION OF THE SELF." Coco Chanel

    "Usually the fashion story at this time of year is what is the color story.  One season, it could be Neons such as watermelon (hot pink) and key lime (bright green) and the next season could be earth tones such as aubergine (blackish purple) and saffron (golden yellow).  You could spend a small fortune trying to be "in style."

    "In Europe the two groups of women who stand out on both sides of the runway are those who work in or cover the fashion industry who mostly dress in black and those whom the industry is courting ~ wealthy women who dress in classic colors.  The moral of the story is: fly-by-night colors may dazzle but the real people know that the classics are best."

    If you are rethinking your wardrobe and your personal style, consider the role color plays in your life.  To build a wardrobe with standing power, invest in the classic colors ~ black, white, navy, gray, beige, ivory, and the "reds" including wine and russet.  There are 100s of hues to choose from and gradually your wardrobe expands with these classics.  Then picture  your personal style with accent colors that are "in" right now."

    If you don't know what colors are good with your skin, experiment with the many books that are available to help. If you see a scarf or purse that you absolutely love, make it your signature accent for this season.  You will never go wrong if you love what you have selected.

    You can come alive with color.  Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about her childhood when her mother painted their living room red....long before the color became popular.  Sarah didn't realize what a statement it made until she was outside one day.  Her house was white with black shutters and accents and seeing that bright red room framed by the black and white made it stand out in the neighborhood.  I believe everyone has colors that really speak to them.  If so, you should paint rooms in your house in the colors that make you feel good.  I choose new wall colors by sitting in my family room and looking into the kitchen and living room to find colors that were compatible.  I have not been disappointed in my selection.

    Sarah goes on to say "the colors you wear don't have to be the same as the colors you live in.  You might love bright colors that stand out to wear but feel comfortable living in a pastel home.  Go to a store and look at the paint sample cards.  What colors really speak to you?  How can you incorporate those colors in your home or in your clothing.  Maybe wrap a pillow in a color or pattern that you love.  Find a scarf to tie around your neck or on your purse to see how it makes you feel.  Find some paper napkins in a bright color to perk up your table. Perhaps some postcards at an art museum that  you can post on your refrigerator or in a frame on your desk would make you happy."

    In keeping with this idea of color, I have taken up a new hobby.  I have been coloring with colored pencils.   Just 24 of them on pages I have copied off the Internet.  Here are some samples....

     

    I also have my latest book for sale on Amazon.com.   INDIGO MEMORIES.   I've sold about 10 copies and have some reviews on Amazon.

    And that, of course, brings me to the books that I have read recently.

    22208282   1 of 5 stars   ~~    This is a short novel of 207 pages. I read 100 pages before I gave up. This was described as a book about the aftermath of a fire at an ice cream store that killed 3 young female employees. The premise of the book was to tell how the people left behind including the suspects, parents and friends in the community lived their lives.  I couldn't keep anyone straight in my mind. The time periods jumped around continuously and I never really knew what was going on. Maybe it was just me but this writing didn't work for me.

    Here's the book description...
    2.86 of 5 stars  ~~  A riveting novel about the aftermath of a brutal murder of three teenage girls, written in incantatory prose "that's as fine as any being written by an American author today." (Ben Fountain) 
    One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. See How Small tells the stories of the survivors--family, witnesses, and suspects--who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous.Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls. They watch over the town and make occasional visitations, trying to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart," they say. A master of compression and lyrical precision, Scott Blackwood has surpassed himself with this haunting, beautiful, and enormously powerful new novel.
    And another reader's review...
    A hard book for me to write a review for as the concept and the structure in non linear. The beginning grabs  you right away, three girls killed in an ice cream parlor, abused and then set on fire. No, this is not graphically nor emotionally displayed.The book is about this only as it relates to those involved. What happens to the people affected after the event. The author does a great job of describing the grief of a lost child, or children as two of the three were sisters. The sisters sometimes make an appearance in spirit form, sort of like a Lovely Bones type of scenario, but not as often.The book is very well written, but in the beginning is was hard to keep track of who was who and their relation to the story. Also it jumps around, memory flashbacks which one would expect in a book of this kind. The chapters are short and this was my biggest hurdle, the short chapters made it next to impossible for me to connect to the characters. Yes, I felt horrible for all those involved, except the killers of course, but this was only a surface emotion not a deep felt one that I should have had. So while the story was good, I just expected and needed more

    ***
    .22545426  5 of 5 stars ~~  bookshelves: dramafamilymarriage

    Read in April, 2015

     

    This book was excellent! It starts out with the main female character, Bailey, coming to and realizing she is in the hospital. She doesn't remember what happened but she is very frightened. Everyone keeps pushing her to remember. There was a murder, missing women, gossip about her husband and his first wife, lots of mystery. The reader follows along with Bailey (the second wife) and slowly starts to learn what happened to her. But, who is the culprit? Who is behind all the many incidents? And why?   It takes nearly the entire book to find out what really happened. This was a very fast-paced and good story. I would recommend it to everyone.
    Here's the book description...
    3.62 of 5 stars   ~~  An idealistic young woman marries a man she barely knows only to discover his first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As a child, Bailey Browne dreamed of a knight in shining armor swooping in to rescue her and her mother. As she grew older, those dreams transformed, becoming ones of a mysterious stranger who swept her off her feet and whisked her away from her ordinary existence; then, suddenly, there he was. Despite the ten-year difference in their ages and her working class upbringing and his of privilege, Logan Abbott and Bailey fall deeply in love. Marriage quickly follows.

    But when Logan brings her home to his horse farm in Louisiana, a magnificent estate on ninety wooded acres, her dreams of happily-ever-after begin to unravel. A tragic family history Bailey knew nothing about surfaces, along with whisperings about the disappearance of his first wife and rumors about women from the area who have gone missing, and when another woman disappears, all signs point to her husband's involvement.
    And another reader's review...
    I loved this book.   it was different then I thought it would be but still amazing.  Bailey went on a vacation to grieve her mother's death. She never thought that she would meet the man she would want to spend the rest of her life with. But little did she know the secrets that are hidden within the family.
    Bailey and her new husband wanted to move forward in their marriage but when she wound up in the hospital with a bump on the head ~she tries to get her memory back and solve all of the questions in her head.
    Throughout this book there was a complete mystery of who done it. There were the usually suspects but not who actually did it. I was a little shocked on who the murderer was.
    This author did a wonderful job of keeping the readers guessing. She sucked the reader into her world from the very first page. You wanted to keep reading to see who would be next or who would be found guilty. 
    19286669    5 of 5 stars  ~~  bookshelves: dramafamily

    Read on April 04, 2015

     

    I always enjoy a novel by Diane Chamberlain. This one was especially good. Throughout the entire story, even when the reader finds out some of the truth, the reader doesn't know until the very end everything that led up to the mystery. There were a few different twists and turns in this story too. Very fast-paced and engrossing to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a mystery, and a story about a family. I read this 343 page book in one day.
    Here's the book description...   3.91 of 5 stars ~~  In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her new-found reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. 
    Another readers's review... 4 of 5 stars ~~  Riley MacPherson has lost her entire family in one form or another; she heads back to New Bern, NC to wrap up things after her father's death. She discovers a shocking secret, things aren't always as they appear in her family, and her sister-- who committed suicide 20 years ago-- comes back into play...

    Can't say too much more without giving away the book! I will say Diane Chamberlain's writing always leaves me wanting more, and I flew through this book because (once again) I HAD to know what was going to happen. She does an amazing job of creating cliffhangers and leaving the reader wanting more. For this point alone, I'm giving it four stars. The hesitation for giving a full five, was that the second half of this book was a little choppy, not as seamless and believable as some of her other books. I also predicted the ending, not Chamberlain's fault per se, but I do enjoy a good shocker!    Definitely worth reading!
    20828370    3 of 5 stars  ~~  Like many of us, I had heard and read and even watched the movie about Chris McCandless who had gone to Alaska and died of starvation there several years ago. There was always the hint that he had mental problems and there was no explanation on why he choose to move there. This book is written by his sister,Carine. She and Chris were extremely close throughout their childhood. She was in hopes that the shock of his death would change her parents. Change them into accepting that their harsh treatment of Chris andCarine was probably the biggest reason why Chris left home after college.Carine also suffered throughout her adult life as she struggled to find some redeeming qualities about the parents. This story tells about their childhood, what lead up to Chris going to Alaska, the parents who never seemed to "get it" and whyCarine felt she finally had to fulfill her brother's belief in the TRUTH.   There are also plenty of photos to show the family dynamics.

    Here's the book description...  3.57 of 5 stars ~~  "The Wild Truth is an important book on two fronts: It sets the record straight about a story that has touched thousands of readers, and it opens up a conversation about hideous domestic violence hidden behind a mask of prosperity and propriety."-NPR.org

    In the more than twenty years since the body of Chris McCandless was discovered in the wilds of Alaska, his spellbinding story has captivated millions who have either read Jon Krakauer's iconic Into the Wild or seen Sean Penn's acclaimed film of the same name.
    And yet, only one person has truly understood what motivated Chris's unconventional decision to forsake his belongings, abandon his family, and embrace the harsh wilderness. In The Wild Truth, his beloved sister Carine McCandless finally provides a deeply personal account of the many misconceptions about Chris, revealing the truth behind his fateful journey while sharing the remarkable details of her own.Exposing the dark reality that existed behind the McCandless's seemingly idyllic home in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Carine details a violent home life, one where both parents manipulated the truth about a second family--a deception that pushed Chris over the edge and set the stage for his willing departure into the wild. And though he cut off all family ties, Carine understood--through their indelible bond and some cryptic communication--what Chris was seeking.

    This understanding, kept under wraps for years as Carine struggled to maintain a relationship with her parents, now comes to spectacular light in the pages of The Wild Truth. In the decades since Chris's death, Carine and her half-siblings have come together to find their own truth and build their own beauty in his absence. In each other, they've found absolution, just as Chris found absolution in the wild before he died.

    Beautiful and haunting, told with candor and heartbreaking insight, The Wild Truth presents a man the world only thought they knew--and the sister who has finally found redemption in sharing the rest of their story.

    Another reader's review....One of the frustrations I felt with Into The Wild was that it clearly wasn't the whole story. It was clear that he did not have the happy childhood people on the outside thought he did, but it wasn't clear why. I figured 'strict' meant some abuse and I could tell Chris' parents had very little insight to him. I wondered did that go both ways? What this book showed me was that Chris had plenty of insight into his parents--enough to sever ties and walk away. Reading this book made me want to rewrite Chris' life. This time help would come in time, weakened and exhausted, Chris would return to the world.....not to his parents, but to his brothers and sisters. That even if he chose a wandering, solitary lifestyle, he would come home once in a while and learn, as Carine has, that families can include the people who support you.This is a story of survival: surviving a childhood and decades of dysfunction, and the loss of a beloved brother and of a woman trying to build her life, making mistakes, and trying again
    So That's my week.   I hope you enjoy some color in your life too.
       

     

March 28, 2015

  • IF IT'S SPRING, IT MUST BE TIME TO CLEAN THE CLOSETS...!

    I am just about ready to move my winter clothes to one closet and bring out the summer clothes.   I don't want to jinx the warmer weather coming along so I am being very, very "quiet" about the move!  I expect I have some clothes that might be a wee bit too big this time around.   So, maybe I will give myself another incentive and get rid of some of those clothes so I have to keep on my eating plan.

    I got an on-line order today in the mail and the company put in a pair of jeans that were not my size.  They were not charged to me and it would cost me to send them back.  So I found someone who can wear them and will be sharing my good fortune with her.  I think I should also check on some of my other clothes to see if she could wear them as well.

    I brought out my SIMPLE ABUNDANCE book by SarahBan Breathnach today to get some inspiration.  Coincidentally, the subject is CLEARING; PARTING WITH FASHION MISTAKES.

    She talked about "finding your true authenticity by parting with your fashion mistakes so you can unclutter your mind.  Most of us have to be psyched up to go through our closets.  It's hard work once you get into it.  There are some  pieces that bring back wonderful memories or something you used to be able to wear and keep telling yourself that "someday, I will fit into it again."

    According to Sarah Ban Breathnach, "there is nothing as satisfying as bringing order to a closet in which chaos once reigned.  A change of seasons provides the perfect opportunity to get to work too.  Find two hours on a Saturday afternoon.  Gather some boxes or bags ahead of time.  Play some good music. Take a deep breath.  Take EVERYTHING out of the closet and put it on the bed.  Now, you can work."

    "Try things on if  you are not sure and look at yourself honestly in a full length mirror.  Edit your fashion accessories as well; jewelry, scarves, purses, hats, and shoes.  Keep ONLY the things you love--things that make  you look beautiful or feel fabulous.  This is  simplicity at work.  If there are some items that  you still love but they don't quite fit, only save the ones that are only ONE size different from your current size.  It's a realistic goal to lose one size and something to work towards."

    If you have a few sentimental things and the room to store them in the hopes that someday your own daughter might want them, that's just fine.  Otherwise give them away to someone who might really enjoy the outfit right now.  "Take the plunge and give the items away.  You will feel a sense of grateful abundance when you realize how much you can give up.  This positive attitude will help attract more prosperity into your life."

    Every woman has made fashion mistakes that clutter up her closet and her life.  She might be tempted to whine about her wardrobe. Clearing the closets of past items provides the space and freedom for us to choose clothing in the future that reflects the women we are today."

    Image result for CLEANING closets + cats      

     

    My own personal preference is to organize my clothes by color and group.  For example, all slacks go in one grouping by color, all tops go in another grouping by color, all sweaters and so on.  It helps me find something I am looking for when I want it to wear.

    This photo is NOT my closet.  I would have to reorganize right away!

     

    Image result for CLEANING closets + cats

    In others news, I finally got my latest book back up for sale on Amazon.com.  I hope you will check it out there along with the other books I have written.    It's on Amazon.com.  The title is Indigo Memories.

     

     

    I also read some books this week.

     

    17857396        bookshelves: familymarriage

    Read in March, 2015
    This story is about an affair. The couple have been married for a few years and have a young son. She writes from home doing columns about food. He is a successful magazine publisher, and handsome and smart and everything one would expect him to be. The other woman is young, preparing to launch a new magazine and eager to please. The young woman and the man meet and have an instant attraction. Then, the real story of what can happen starts playing out. The story is told from the experience of each of the three main characters.In the ending, things seems to work out but not in the way any of the three ever expected. I think this story shows that everything that seems to work in a relationship doesn't always have a happy ending...or does it?

    Here's the book description...
    3.4 of 5 stars
    In the internationally bestselling author Sarah Rayner's The Other Half,  Chloe, bright, hip and single, is a feature writer with ambitions to launch a magazine of her own. When she meets James, her potential new boss, she knows she shouldn't mix business with pleasure, but finds it impossible to resist...Maggie appears to have it all.  She's beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something's not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn't come home at all...

    Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love.

    Who,  if anyone, comes out unscathed?

    In writing that is lively, sexy and sharp, the international bestselling author Sarah Rayner explores modern-day relationships and age-old moral dilemmas.

    And here's another reader's review...
    4 of 5 stars

    A perfect beach read for my Jersey vacation. A smart take on wives, mistresses and cheating husbands. Chloe (the mistress) and John (the cheater) think they're being oh-so-discrete, but the reader is privy to all the stupid 'mistakes' they make and how their smoothness is anything but smooth. You also get to watch as Maggie (the wife) ever-so-slowly comes to the (rather obvious) realization that her husband is a weak, immoral man. Then she deals with things in her own way. Even though this is a classic story of infidelity and its consequences, and even though the reader knows exactly where things are headed, it's a fun read that keeps you turning the pages. It's a clever book, well written, and very British. I recommend taking a copy along on your next trip to the Jersey Shore!
    ****
    21853667

    bookshelves: dramafamilyfriendsmarriagemothers-and-daughters

    Read on March 22, 2015

     

    This novel started out with a married couple who appear on the surface to be happy. But as the reader gets into the story, we learn that Grace was bullied by her mother and now seems to be bullied by her husband, who is a successful writer. As things start to spiral out of control, a young woman comes into their lives. She appears to be everything they need..an excellent assistant to Ted, the writer, and a huge help to Grace with her busy life as well. But there is just something about Beth that doesn't seem quite right.As the story unfolds, Ted and Grace's marriage starts to fall apart. Grace has lost her way. She doesn't cook the gourmet meals she is noted for. There is gossip about her mental health and she starts to lose herself.   It is only when she finally relies on some old friends that she figures it out and overcomes what has happened to her.

    This is a fast paced book, full of twists and turns. I enjoyed reading how just one person can be so uncaring and mean that she can change everything.

    Here's the book description...
    Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.
    Here's another reader's review...
    On the outside Grace and Ted Chapman  look to be the perfect couple to everyone they know, but behind close doors that isn't the case at all. As a stay at home mom Grace has been the perfect wife taking care of her husband in the best of times as well as the worst (which seem far more frequent). Ted's standing in the literary community seems to be going down hill book by book and Grace seems to be the one that receives the brunt of his anger. 
    When Ted's assistant needs to leave for personal reasons, their lives seem to crumble. Grace begins to worry little by little that she is falling apart and becoming her mother.
    Then out of the blue, the perfect assistant comes along. Beth comes into their lives and looks to be a savior that is sent to help turn their lives around and help them before they are ruined.
    Soon Grace realizes though, that Beth is not what she seems and Grace needs to fix herself before she loses everything from her family to her life and even her sanity.
    This book will have you guessing what will happen at each turn and wondering how someone that seemed so perfect for the family could be the worst thing that ever happened to them till the very end.
    ****
    15793222

    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    Read in March, 2015

     

    This novel was quite a departure from what I usually read. It's the story of 2 women, both of whom desperately want to have a child. Each of them had some serious medical issues and feel this might be their last chance to become a mother. As they explore IVF options, their lives become connected, although they never meet. It's a good story and I will be looking for the other books this author has written.
    Here's the book description...
    A memorable and moving page-turner about two very different women, each yearning to create a family of her ownWhat if the thing you most longed for was resting on a two week wait? From the author of the international bestselling One Moment, One Morning, comes a moving portrait about what it truly means to be a family. After a health scare, Brighton-based Lou is forced to confront the fact that her time to have a baby is running out. She can't imagine a future without children, but her partner doesn't seem to feel the same way, and she's not sure whether she could go it alone. Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Cath is longing to start a family with her husband, Rich. No one would be happier to have children than Rich, but Cath is infertile. Could these strangers help one another? With her deft exploration of raw emotions and her celebration of the joy and resilience of friendship, The Two Week Wait is Sarah Rayner at her best.

    And another reader's review....
    Heartbreaking and life affirming. Two words I used to describe Rayner's first book about the Brighton based women Lou, Karen and Anna 'One Moment, One Morning' and they could easily be used again for the review of 'The Two Week Wait'. Sarah Rayner once more reminds us that ordinary lives are filled with extraordinary events and once we are able to connect the dots an amazing story is unfolding right before us.I love her no fuss way of telling a story. Written in present tense the events of the books seems to be happening around you - and the story is filled with characters that feels as real as were they truly a part of your everyday. The women of the book don't live perfect lives - and they certainly don't make perfect decisions - and the story is sad and joyous - terrible and perfect - it is filled with life as we all know it and love it.

    ****
                            

     

March 17, 2015

  • WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

     

    Here it is, the 17th of March, 2015 already.   Where does the time go?  The good news is that Spring does appear to be on its way at last!  The snow is gone ( for now) in my area.  The grass is starting to look greener.   There are dead leaves all over so I expect I need to locate my rake and get them out in the next few days.  Yesterday we had temps in the low 70's ~ it was so nice to be outside without a coat.  I took advantage of the good weather by going to the library, shopping at Penny's, getting my hair cut and going to the grocery store.  A busy day for sure.

    On my shopping trip, I only planned on buying a pair of good black dress slacks.  The last pair I got from Penny's have lasted a very long time.  I've worn them for many years...some years they fit better than others!  Now that I have lost 20 lbs ~ they are just too baggy.  So I was thrilled to find another pair, IN A SMALLER SIZE that fit AND were on sale too!   I also found 2 heavy turtlenecks shirts (Liz Claiborne) on sale for $10 each and another shirt on sale for $8.    The total was $70 and I saved over $50!   That is the type of shopping I really like.

     

        When I saw this photo and caption, I had to laugh.  My cats both do this when I am in the bathroom.....

     

    I've had quite the time of it trying to get my latest book online.  When I was writing, you may recall that I lost the entire manuscript after loading it to Create space.  I rewrote it and continued to have so many problems.   Even when I finally got it on Create Space and they approved it AND I edited it online and approved it for sale, the format got wonky.  A couple of my friends who bought it let me know the chapter numbers had disappeared, the page numbers had disappeared and the font had gotten small.   I immediately took it off of Amazon.com, recorrected everything and sent it in.  Then Create space said I had to change the sale price.   I did that and once it was approved again, I re-edited it again.   I found a few small errors but knowing that if I try to correct it and resubmit, something else is going to be wrong...I just approved it.  It is for sale again on Amazon.com along with my previous 3 books.

                  

    This is the front and back cover.

    I hope you will check it out and buy it.

     

    And speaking of reading books.

    Here are the books I've read recently...

    10644930            I know this novel has been out for a long time but I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now.

    bookshelves: dramafamilyfriendshistory

    Read in March, 2015

    I used to read Stephen King years ago. Then I didn't like the creepy monsters and evil spirits so I stopped. I had heard about this book about going back in time and trying to change the outcome of Jack Kennedy's assassination. I finally checked it out of the library and I loved it! So good, no creepy monsters but plenty of plot twists and turns. I could hardly put it down. I really loved the main characters and so wanted it to have a happy ending. It didn't quite turn out as I expected but it was really, really good.

    If you haven't read it, give it a try. I am sure you will enjoy the story very much.
    Here's the book jacket description...
    Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
    And another reader's review...
    What did I think? I think I lost a weekend and there is no way to go back in time to get it because I don't know where the rabbit hole is! But would I? Would I change having read this book? No way!

    I was a huge Stephen King fan in high school and gobbled up all of his books. Until ... they went from cool weird to over-the-top weird. Suddenly coke machines were your worst enemy and there seemed to be a less emotional element mixed with the macabre (think Pet Cemetery) and it was just a bunch of words filling up pages talking about near nonsense. I stopped following King. Plain and simple. But over the years I have meandered up his path from time to time ... and found The Dome was along those lines of his original work. But this? This was FANTABULOUS! Right from the get-go the premise draws you in. Who wouldn't want to know what the world would be like if John F. Kennedy hadn't been shot? But this is Stephen King, and he's not taking you to bed for good without a boatload of foreplay. I was snagged from page one, and I too was greatly concerned about what happens to the future if you mess up the past!

    I guess it couldn't end any other way ... and I was a little confused as to the events that supposedly would take place if Kennedy hadn't died ... but I don't want to say anymore. You must read this book and you must understand you will have no other desire to do anything else until it is finished!!

    22212838          

    bookshelves: familyfriendshistorymarriage

    Read in March, 2015

    I never watched Little House On The Prairie on a regular basis. I did read some of the books that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote. This huge and heavily detailed and researched autobiography certainly filled in a lot of the blanks. I enjoyed reading her words and seeing some side notes on what had happened. She wrote with such great description that the reader could almost believe they were there too. I loved the old photos.

    It made me realize, once again, how hardy and determined those pioneers were. They walked for miles. They constructed homes out of nothing, scrambled for food and the basic needs and often went without any of those things.  This book required taking the time to sit down and get lost in the history of our country.
    Here's the book jacket description...
    Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family's journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory with sixteen years of travels, unforgettable experiences, and the everyday people who became immortal through Wilder's fiction. Using additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources, award-winning Wilder biographer Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and leads readers through Wilder's growth as a writer. Do you think you know Laura? Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will re-introduce you to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions. 
    And another reader's review...
    The books of Laura Ingalls Wilder were my best friends growing up. I read & re-read them constantly most of my life. I received my boxed set when I was about 8 or 9 as a reward for helping my brother who had been laid up with a broken leg. To this day, when I open one of them, I will inhale deeply for its scent which I find only in these books.A couple years later while vacationing in Pelican Rapids, at a small bookstore on main street, I saw the book, Laura, by Donald Zochert, and thought I had died & gone to heaven. The really-real story of Laura with photographs. I read & re-read it many times as well.

    Now to the book in hand, once I was past the introduction and background, deeply ensconced in Laura's words and story, I felt like I was enjoying a beautiful afternoon with an old friend, I had not seen in years, and may not ever see again. Laura is responsible for a great deal of who I am. It is satisfying to spend one more day with her to rediscover those lost treasures.

     

     18404283

    Read on March 16, 2015

     

    This is a sweet story about 3 sisters who grew up with a grandmother who had a "knowing". One of the three women also had the same ability. She would get the idea of some type of meal or food and be compelled to make it, not knowing the reason until later on.This is a fast-paced story with a love interest in it to make it extra special. I'm sure if you have a few hours on a lazy afternoon, you will enjoy it too. And the titles of the chapters will make your mouth water. Happily the recipes are in the back of the book.

    Here's the book jacket description...
    Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan... and never cook again.But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.

    The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

    And another reader's review...
    I really liked this story.  Portia, like her grandmother, has the 'knowing'. Out of the blue, she will get the urge to bake something, or make a specific meal and its always because someone needs it for whatever reason. She ignored it for a few years to be the 'perfect politicians wife' but that didn't  last. She moves to NY to live in 1/3 of a townhouse that her aunt left her, only to find that her sisters sold their thirds and a single dad of 2 girls bought it. The story develops quickly and naturally after that and there are a few surprises along the way. I thought it was a great story and would make a great book club book. I also really liked the recipes that were included at the end. I just may have to try a few.
    *****
    So, on with the month of March.   I'm hoping by the time April arrives, Spring will have settled in for good.
              

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.

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    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.​