Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What Have You Gotten Me Into?

My big sister wouldn't steer me wrong, right?  So signing up for three readathons in the next 4 months must be a good idea.  Every summer, I make myself a Summer Reading List - usually new releases with pretty covers.  Last year I chose seven books and only read four of them so, when Teri @ Henningsen Happenings challenged me to step up my reading for the summer I hesitated.  But it sounds like so much fun, that I gave in.  

The largest of the challenges is Summer Reading, hosted by Katie's Book Blog.  Summer Reading runs for four months - May 1 to Sept. 1.  You just set your own reading goal - minimum of 5 books - and read.  There are prizes throughout the summer and a grand prize drawing for those who reach their goal.  Just like being a kid at the library again!  Picking that magic number of books is the tough part.  There are 17 weeks in this challenge (+ a couple days), so I've settled on twelve as being a reasonable goal.

Read-a-thon #2 is the Bout of Books Read-a-thon, hosted by Amanda and Kelly.  BoB, as the hostesses call it, runs from May 12 through May 18, with daily challenges and giveaways, and three Twitter chats during the week.  Since that is the week that two of our children graduate from college, I'm not setting a goal other than to participate as much as my schedule allows.  
Readathon #3 is the Library Read-a-thon hosted by Rachael Turn's Pages.  During the week of June 9th-16th, read as many library books as you can.  Sounds simple.  And I usually have a stack sitting around collecting overdue fees.  The timing on this one is perfect.  All of the graduations and family reunions will be over and I'll be ready for some down time with books.

This is my starter stack.  Lighthouse Bay, The Engagements, and Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble are the three leftovers from last summer that STILL haven't been read.  The Help is on loan from a former co-worker and needs to be returned soon.  The last two, The Bookstore and The Invention of Wings, are recent purchases that I'm excited to read. There are a lot more options on my shelves, plus an excellent city library, so finding the other six books to reach my goal should be easy.

So there you have it - a summer of books with my sister.  And if it doesn't work out, I'm telling Mom!

Books Read:
1.  Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
2.  Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Needlework Tuesday

Dave and I traveled to visit out son over Easter weekend.  While we were there, things took an unexpected turn and Son chose to call off his engagement and upcoming wedding. Naturally, it was an emotional time and there were lots of details to be tended to.  With Son busy finishing his schooling (graduation is in 2 weeks) I volunteered to stay with him a few extra days to help out and give emotional support.

The up side to my unexpected week away was that I had plenty of time to knit.  If you got back to April 15 - the last time I participated in Needlework Tuesday - you'll see that I was making a shawl from some beautiful aqua yarn, and that I had used up all I had and was waiting to get to the store for more.  No such luck!  The brand - Yarn Bee - is evidently out of business and, while they still had a large stock of some colors, there was no "robin's egg" to be found.  I couldn't even find it on line.  So - plan B.

I decided on a lovely red shade and bought 6 skeins this time.  The two skeins of aqua got "un-knitted" and saved for another project - except for the bit I used to add stripes to my shawl.  I love the red and aqua combination.  

This was knitted using the Figure 8 Stitch on my largest round loom, and a #6 (chunky) yarn.  It is so soft and snuggly - I can't wait for an evening to wrap up in it by the fire pit.
Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Readathon Roundup

Readathon is over for another six months, and once again I didn't get nearly as much reading done as I hoped.  But I'm claiming extenuating circumstances. 

I spent last week at our son's house, helping him through a tough week, and returned home less than twelve hours before start time.  There were a lot of chores that had been neglected and needed to be done before starting a new work week, so my plan was to accomplish them in 10-minute intervals throughout the day.  Some of them proved to be more of a distraction and required more time than I had anticipated.  Phone calls also ate into my reading time.

In spite of the distractions, I managed to read for at least part of 14 hours - 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.  I took an intentional break and tried to come back at 1:00 a.m. to finish out the twenty four hours, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open.  

Here are my stats:

Books read:  I read portions of four books, but completed 0.  I find that switching back and forth keeps my mind more alert.

Pages read:  Approximately 275.  Nothing to brag about, but considering everything else I got done, not bad.

Book Titles:  Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
                     The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
                     Snow Melts in Springtime by Deborah Vogts
                     Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl

Mini-Challenges Entered: 5 - I tend to enter challenges that don't require too much time and/or that are out of the ordinary.  Kudos to the challenge hosts this year for a great lineup.

Blogs visited:  5 - I'm embarrassed to say.   But my plan is to make the rounds soon.  After being gone last week, I will be working overtime to catch up this week so it may be a bit, but I'll get there.

New Twitter friends to follow:  4.  I don't know how to assign a statistic to the fun I had in Twitter conversations.

Readathon Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10) :  10!!  Thanks to Andi, Heather and all the other wonderful bloggers who work so hard to do this every six months.  It is one of my most anticipated days.  Eventually I will get a system that allows me to do more reading but still enjoy the social aspects.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Your Name In Lights . . .

Well, not quite.  But, Felicia at The Geeky Blogger's Book Blog is putting our name in book titles.  Her challenge is to spell your first name using the first letter of book titles.  For once, I'm glad to have a short name.

Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline
Ancient Puzzles
Murder for Christmas by Agatha Christie
Inferno by Dan Brown

Dave thought it was such a fun idea, he would put his own name up in book titles, even though he's not participating in the readathon.  He even used David instead of Dave, just for a little more challenge.

Drinking with George by George Wendt
Alice Cooper, Golf Monster by Alice Cooper
Vietnam War Paintings  (all painted by Jim Nelson, a friend of Dave's)
Illusion by Frank Peretti
Don't Hurt People by Matt Kibbe

Mid-Event Meme

1.  What are you reading right now?  "Bellman and Black" by Diana Setterfield

2.  How many books have you read so far?  I haven't completed any books because I jump around a lot.  I have read from 3 books, and I have several more lined up for later into the night.

3.  What book are you most looking forward to in the second half?  The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

4.  Did you have to may any special arrangements to free up your whole day?  Since my children are grown and out of the house, I don't usually have to make many arrangements.  However, this year it turned out that I got called away for a family crisis and was gone all of last week.  I was worried that I wouldn't make it home in time.  I arrived at 8:00 last night.

5.  Have you had many interruptions and how do you deal with those?  Poorly!  :)  Having been gone for a week, there are lots of household chores that need to be done and I have been trying to work on them in small doses, but they have taken up more time than I anticipated.  I have also been interrupted by phone calls, but not much I can do about that.

6.  What surprises you most about the readathon so far?  How quickly time flies!

7.  Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the readathon next time? If Andi and Heather could figure out how to insert more minutes into each hour so I have time to do all the things - that would be great!

8.  What would you do differently next year?  Hire a maid beforehand and take the phone off the hook.

9.  Are you getting tired yet?  Nope

10.  Do you have any tips for other readers?  Don't try to do everything.  If you try to do all the challenges, visit all the blogs and chat on Twitter, you won't have time to read.  And don't be intimidated by readers who are posting huge numbers of books and/or pages read.  They are the exception.

Hour 10 Mini-Challenge: Shelfies

Thanks to the ladies at The Book Monsters for a fun and quick mini-challenge.  Just take and post a picture of your book shelf, a portion of your book shelf, you and your bookshelf . . . and post it on your blog, then link up.  Easy Peasy! So here are shelfies of two of my favorite shelves:

Some of my favorite mystery paperbacks - I love the colorful covers.

Some classics and some fun vintage books I picked up at auctions and library sales.  Haven't read any of them yet, but soon . . . hopefully.

Hour 9 Mini-Challenge: On Food and Books

For hour 9, Caro @ A Girl That Likes Books  wants to hear about our favorite "book inspired" recipe.

One of my favorite series of books is "The Cat Who..." series by Lilian Jackson Braun.  Food is mentioned frequently in the stories so the author published a cookbook of all the food items mentioned in the books.  My favorite recipe from that book is "Mrs. Cobb's Meat Loaf".  I've never been a meatloaf fan, but the cranberry sauce adds a bit of sweetness that is unique, and I love this version.  I'm not sure this actually follows the rules of Caro's challenge, since I didn't create the recipe myself, but it tastes better than anything I could invent on my own!

Mrs. Cobb's Meat Loaf

1 1/2 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. cranberry sauce
2 eggs
3 T. onion
1/2 c. milk
1/4 t. thyme
1/8 t. sage
dash nutmeg
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2/3 c. bread crumbs
1 1/2 lb. ground beef

Combine all ingredients thoroughly, form into loaf and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour - depending on how thick your make the loaf.  I serve it with my grandma's sweet chili sauce that I can each summer (you can find that recipe here), but it's also good with BBQ sauce or just plain.  

Hour 5 Mini-Challenge: Book Puzzles

Books and puzzles - is there a better combination?  Melissa over at One Librarian's Book Reviews must agree.  She is hosting the Book Puzzle challenge:  " this is a series of pictures, graphics, or photos that you put together that will describe a book title."

Here are my entries:



Hint:  Two titles by the same author

I'll post the answers later this afternoon.

Update:  Sorry - I forgot to post the answers.  The two books are:

1.  BELLe (from Beauty and the Beast) + stick MAN + BLACK square = Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

2.  A Baker's Dozen (13) + Tail = The Thirteenth Tale - also by Diane Setterfield.

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon:

Good morning!  I'm up early and ready for twenty-four hours of guilt-free reading, blogging, challenges, prizes and snacks.  

As always, we kick things off with the traditional opening meme:

1.  What part of the world are you reading from today?  - I'm reading from the little spot we call "Green Acres", just north of beautiful Salem, Nebraska (population 111 people, 17 dogs, 32 cats and 5 pigs.  The pigs are against village regulations and in the process of being evicted, but that's another story.)

2.  What book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

This is my Planned Reading Stack, carefully chosen because they all have one thing in common . . . I have already started reading them.  Yes, I have reading commitment issues.  I am easily distracted from my current book by the newest, shiny book that crosses my path.  My plan is to start with Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield - my most anticipated read.

3.  What snack are you most looking forward to?  I'm trying to keep my snacking to a minimum and limited to healthy options, but my big splurge for the day is Jolly Time Corn-on-the-Cob flavor popcorn.  Oh-my-gosh, the deliciousness!  And the calorie count isn't awful.

4.  Tell us a little something about yourself.  Empty nest mom, ex-librarian, quilter, crafter . . . you can get all the details on the "About" tab above, if you are interested.

5.  If you participated in the last readathon, what's one thing you'll do different today?  I would have to look back through the blog to be sure, but I think this is my 8th readathon, and I'll be sticking to my standard readathon plan: 45 minutes of each hour devoted to reading, and 15 minutes to entering mini-challenges, getting snacks, etc.  However, since I have been gone for the past week to visit our son, I will occasionally be skipping the hourly challenge and substituting in 10-minute housework sessions to get caught up.

It's time . . . so here we go!  Happy reading!

There's still plenty of time to join the fun.  Go here for all the details.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Late...I'm Late...

“How did it get so late so soon? 
It's night before it's afternoon.
 December is here before it's June. 
My goodness how the time has flewn. 
How did it get so late so soon?”
               - Dr. Seuss

Or maybe I should just say "Second verse, same as the first . . . "  I keep whining about how working full time is messing with my blogging time, but whining isn't helping.  I'm going to have to come up with a plan to balance, work, family, housekeeping, crafting/sewing and reading.

In the mean time, here's last week's Tangled Thursday post and today's Needlework Tuesday post - all wrapped up into one delayed display.

The Tangled Thursday challenge was to tangle "Easter" - in whatever form you chose.  I made a couple of attempts that didn't end well, so had nothing to post last Thursday.  But since it's not quite Easter yet, I completed the challenge ... belatedly.
One "non-traditional" Tangle  based on a stained-glass cross I saw on-line,
combined with a "how to draw a lily" lesson.

And one traditional Tangle tile.
Moving on to Tuesday (which is almost over).  I started a new project I'm really liking.
This is the first 1/4 of a shawl, made from some beautiful, chunky yarn I picked up with no specific purpose in mind. The picture doesn't do justice to the lovely aqua color.  This is knitted on a 11 1/2" circle loom, using the Figure 8 stitch.  It is temporarily on hold until this weekend when I can get more yarn.  While I wait, I worked on the knitted baby blanket I posted about a week or two ago, and on my "book" quilt, and . . .

I had a Martha Stewart moment and decopaged my Easter eggs  I saw this idea, which is based on an idea from Martha's web-site, on Pinterest.  It was so simple and I love the results.

If you decide to try this, I would recommend cutting the napkins into smaller pieces and overlapping them.  That method reduces the bulk of paper on the back side.  I did a few each way.   It took them a lot longer to dry (over night) than I expected, but once they did, the finish is very durable.  I have mine out on display so, obviously, they are no longer edible, but if you return them to the fridge to dry and store, you can crack them open for lunch later.

And speaking of LATEr... back to the drawing board for that time management plan...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Desires of your Heart

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4

When I read that verse a few days ago, it stuck in my head.  I kept tossing the words around in my head.  I've read those words many times, but never stopped to ask myself, "What ARE the desires of my heart."

Without getting into a theological discussion of what it means to "delight in the Lord", or the context of the Psalm, my answer would be that my heart desires a time machine. I don't care if it's a Delorean with flux capacitor, Dr. Who's TARDIS or just a swirling hole in the space-time continuum - I desire to go back in time.

Back to when my best friend had not succumbed to cancer; back to before my parents became categorized as "aging"; back to when there was a world of possibility before us; and, most of all, back to when two toddlers depended on me.  Back to Lincoln Logs on the living room floor, sticky kisses on my cheek, and the fifth viewing of Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day in a row.

You may have guessed, but I'm feeling a bit nostalgic these days.  In one month, Mitch and Amanda will both graduate from college.  In three months, Mitch will get married.  Their lives are filled with questions about where to live and where to work - that great big world of possibilities.  And it's amazing to watch them!  I can't begin to say how proud I am of the people they have become.

But I miss the people they used to be.  Not the moody, rebellious teenagers - don't think I'll ever miss them - but the adorable little creatures that climbed on my lap to read a book or napped on my shoulder.  

But, you know - if you had asked that young mom what her heart desired, she probably would have answered, "Time for reading or sewing, a bit of privacy, and to never have to tie shoes again."  Hmm...that sounds an awful lot like my life now.  Maybe some hearts are never satisfied.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: What Goes Up . . .

... must come down.  Or, more appropriately, "What gets knitted, gets unknitted."  I spent a large part of my weekend undoing progress.  I've been learning to loom knit - and loving it!  I spent the week working on two projects.  The first is a shawl for myself, made from a tweed-look chunky yarn.  The finished shawl will require four panels and I have one completed and waiting to be blocked.  Hopefully there will be pictures next week.

The second project is a baby blanket for my great-nephew, who is due to arrive in July.  I'm using Bernat "Baby Blanket" bulky yarn.  The pattern requires two 15 x 36 panels (the multi-color) and one 4 x 36 stripe (solid blue) down the center.  I began the project with a regular knit/purl stitch, but this heavy yarn needed something looser.  After a lot of experiments and unraveling, I finally settled on the Figure 8 stitch, which is tight enough for warmth, but loose enough to wrap easily.  

If you haven't used Baby Blanket yarn, at least touch it the next time you're in your favorite yarn shop.  It is so soft and snuggly!  I may need a blanket of my own. :)

I also made progress on my book quilt - 2 "shelves" completed, 6 to go.  I ordered the brown fabric for the sashing and backing - a coordinate of the beige I'm using for the negative space above the books.  It arrived this week, and I also spoke with the lady who will be quilting it on her long-arm machine.  Everything is going well and I'm excited to complete my very first full-size quilt.  Hopefully there will be photographable progress by next Tuesday.

Thanks to Heather for hosting Needlework Tuesday.  Visit Heather at Books & Quilts and see what everyone's stitching up.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Where Have All The Blog Posts Gone?

... long time passing"   Sorry if you now have Peter, Paul and Mary stuck in your head, but I thought you might be wondering where I've been lately.  The answer is "nowhere".  Even after ten months, this full time work is still wearing me out.    After looking at a computer screen all day, blogging doesn't seem appealing in the evenings.  So here's a few snapshots of how we've been entertaining ourselves.

After being  home with the flu for three days, my Nutrisystem order arrived, complete with dry ice.  I couldn't resist doing my Bill Nye, Science Guy, impression.

Dry ice in a sink with hot water running over it is a homemade fog machine.  The dishes in the right-hand side of teh sink aren't in the water - they WERE drying in the drainer until the mysterious fog overtook them.  (Just ignore the dirty dishes on the left side.  They didn't enter into my science experment.)

According to my son, the science nerd, dry ice "sublimates" - which means it goes from a solid state directly to a gas - do not pass liquid, do not collect $200.  That process makes your sink boil, even though it's not even close to hot.

Balloons are another fun way to entertain yourself.  Dave and I (mostly Dave) blew up balloons, inserted rolled up $1 and $5 bills . . . 

filled a box and shipped it to our grandsons in New Mexico.

A co-worker thought we had lost our minds - 'You're shipping air?"  Dave's response was, "No, we're shipping fun!"  The boys thought it was a lot more fun than receiving a card with money inside.  We questioned if the balloons would still be inflated after exposure to cold air and a dramatic change in elevation - but they arrived in tact.

Now - aren't you glad I haven't been posting?  :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.
Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year.  It's not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing  Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand . . . until one last chance at family knocks on her door.
Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. 
One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place:  love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended.  Lost Lake illuminates the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.              (Condensed from publisher blurb)

In 2007, I decided to present my own "Book of the Year" award, although - since that was pre-blog - no one knew about it except my sister who was sharing "favorite things" lists with me.  That premier award went to Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  In 2008, Ms. Allen's Sugar Queen took top honors - hands down, no contenders!  In 2009, she didn't make the cut - but only because she didn't publish a book that year.

In 2010 I blogged my first top ten list, and of course The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by guess who, was on the list.  As was The Peach Keeper in 2011.  2012 and 2013 were long, fallow years for her fans.  Unbeknownst to me, Ms. Allen was using that time to battle breast cancer.   Hallelujah, she is now two years cancer-free and has returned to writing.  

When I reviewed Peach Keeper, I wrote, "Every time I read {a Sarah Addison Allen book] I struggle for words to describe her writing other than "magical", but no other word captures her stories."  She has not lost her touch.  She once again weaves bits of magic into the story so seamlessly that you never question them.  

The setting of Lost Lake will appeal to other children of the 60's who spent family vacations in cottage-style motels like Lost Lake.  It added a nostalgic touch for me.  Lost Lake is another 5-star, enchanting tale from Sarah Addison Allen.  May she write many more!