Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Old Letters


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Reflections 4/22

Looking outside...it's gorgeous and sunny. Currently 59, with a breeze.

Listening...to the washing machine and a fish tank. The Doctor is using the new steamer to clean some carpets. The Artist is asleep.

Loving...that The Doctor is home. We haven't had a lot of Saturdays together over the last 10 years because he always had to see patients and while it was only supposed to be a couple of hours in the morning, it always ended up being most of the day. 

Now, he is able to schedule as he pleases and see patients when he wants to. He stayed late to see a patient last night and I didn't mind, because it was his choice and his patient.

We are together so much more now because I am able to work in his office with him. I love it.

Thinking...that I should probably get moving.

In my kitchen...Not sure yet. Last night I did a Deconstructed Pizza. So good and Keto friendly. It's basically a pizza casserole of all the pizza ingredients minus the crust. Amazing!

Wearing...purple pajamas, black slippers and a gray cardigan.

Reading...I am a reading slacker. Truly, it is pathetic.

Today...I'm not sure. Definitely some stuff around the house, but we also want to take advantage of a beautiful day.

Quoting...“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we're related for better or for worse...and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.” ― Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters

Feeling...Missing The Boy.

We took him back to school for spring semester last weekend. We had a great weekend in Utah seeing friends. Lots of laughs, love good food and even better conversation. I love how my family blends so well with my girlfriends' families. Saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Music and the Spoken Word Easter program on Sunday before driving The Boy back to Rexburg. 

I love that he has opportunities like school, but his absence leaves a big gaping hole in our home. The music isn't quite tuned well when one is missing.

Planning...this next week and prepping a Sunday School lesson for tomorrow.

Gratitude...for texting, so we can chat with The Boy, answer questions and just connect.

From my world... 

Take the life you've been given and make it incredible. 

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Childhood Favorites...Catherine Woolley

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

Catherine Woolley was a prolific writer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I discovered her Cathy series in the early 1970s when I was in about the 4-5th grade. I checked these books out of our library, repeatedly!

I loved Cathy, who was precocious, who had a vivid imagination and who always considered herself older than she was. She had an annoying little sister who adored and annoyed her. I could relate to Cathy. In many ways, I was Cathy.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cover Crush...To the Farthest Shores

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

It's the ocean. Need I say more? A woman stands at the edge of an outcropping next to crashing waves. She's looking out to sea. Why? For what or whom? Is she missing someone or waiting? I love the contrast between her bright blue dress and the somber ocean weather.  

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, A Literary Vacation, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Пятница Ponderings: Parenting via the Internet

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian


I read a blog post this week that was all about the things you MUST do with your daughter before she's grown. Now, I have sons, not daughters, but I was raised in a family of all daughters. And I'm not linking to the specific blog post I read because I am not slamming it or the author. Truly. Her points were good for her family. What I have a problem with is people who think they have all the answers.

The reason I saw that particular blog post was because my sweet mother shared it on Facebook with the caption: "I did some of this with my girls. Wish I had known to do more." That caption bugged the hell out of me and I hated that post for making my Mom feel like she wasn't an adequate mother. She is a fantastic mother and grandmother.

For everything I like about social media, there are things I hate. And I absolutely hate that social media just makes our self-worth plummet. Social media is all about extremes. It's either "my life is perfect" or "my life is a train wreck". People overshare and only put up things that make them look perfect or they overshare and all we see are the troubles and drama.

Reality television has made living your life in front of an audience appealing and it gives people the impression that their lives and opinions are important to strangers. And it leaves the viewers or readers believing that their own lives are so much less than the lives that they see on the screen. The reality is that reality television, honest true-life reality, wouldn't get very many viewers.

All of these lifestyle/family/mommy blogs are great, but the idea that anyone has the best way/style/whatever for raising children grates on me.

"Hi! Look at me! Here's my perfect little family, documented in thousands of perfectly-styled and posed pictures. Listen to us as we tell you how you can raise perfect little angels in a perfectly decorated house just like ours."

I started this blog to remember what books I read. I keep my family life fairly private, but I share things here and there. I try to be honest though and I would never presume to tell you how to think or feel or parent. Heck, I didn't even tell you how I voted or who you should vote for. If you're a regular visitor, you know I'm snarky and opinionated, but I'm never cruel.

So here's my two cents about the parenting thing: parent what works for you just don't presume to tell the rest of us how we need to do it.

If you have suggestions or want to share your parenting styles and tips, go ahead. But in this case, wouldn't a better title be: "The things WE want to do with (or teach) our daughters before they're grown" instead of "you MUST do"? And, how about asking readers to share the things they think are important in raising their own children?

This was what I commented on the post my mother shared:

You did just fine! You excelled at the reading, the cooking and the traditions thing! 😉 We didn't go to the Nutcracker until we were all adults, but you did manage that one, too... 😉 And, my childhood wasn't ruined because we didn't make mailboxes together. You talked to us face to face and I still have notes that you and Dad wrote to me. We didn't need to have special days out in nature, because we played outside all the time and we went camping. I don't remember visiting BYU or USU as a child, but guess what? We all went to college anyway! You and Dad gave us a great childhood and raised 4 pretty awesome daughters, quirks and all, who contribute and serve. I think that this day of over sharing and social media comparisons only serves to make us all feel inadequate. Kudos to this woman for choosing 12 things she thinks are important. I have my own ideas of what things are important in raising two boys and that list does not include manufacturing little vignettes of perfectness. I think that knowing you're loved is the most important thing you can give your kids and you and Dad certainly did a wonderful job with that. 

Our boys don't have scrapbooks full of picture-perfect experiences. I bribe them not to go trick or treating and we see a movie on Halloween instead. They've only each had one actual birthday party with invited friends and decorations. When I have joked before that our Family Motto is rule #5 from Alcatraz, I am not kidding. They can quote it to you. They vacuum the floor and clean the bathroom. I send them outside to play. Their rooms aren't decorated. Honestly, The Boy's room? It still has the floral border around it from when we first moved into this house. He just put up his posters over it. He sleeps on our old futon and loves it. The Artist? He sleeps on an old queen mattress on the floor of his room. No kidding. He likes it. His room is decorated with his art work and is still the original paint color it was when we moved in.

I'm snarky and often say things out of frustration. I forgot to take a new school picture of them at the first of the school year and even when I do, it's not color coordinated and posed. (Those of you who do that? Kudos. They're gorgeous.)

I worked full-time when my boys were little, because The Doctor was in Chiropractic school. From the time they were 3 months old until The Boy was 6 and The Artist 4, they were in daycare. And guess what? I have no regrets for doing that. I didn't miss out on anything important with my boys. It worked for us and our situation in life. They were in a fantastic home; The Boy has good memories of being there, The Artist doesn't and we are still close friends with the family who cared for them.

I make the boys talk to their teachers themselves about their grades and assignments. When they were little, we even took them out of church when they cried and were disruptive, rather than disturb everyone around us. And we made them sit quietly in the foyer and not run around when other toddlers did. We were so mean. We still are. Seriously. They don't even get to have overnighters with friends unless it's a scout camp out.

And horror of horrors: They. Have. Never. Been. To. Disneyland.

I should be locked up.

You want to know what our parenting style is? The Doctor and I want our boys to know they're loved. We think that is the most important thing we can do as parents. We have worked for 18 years at having relationships with the boys that ensure that they talk to us. We also say, "Yes" as much we can. Sometimes our humor might be questionable, but we laugh. A lot. They know that we love them. They know that they can ask questions and they do. We have some great discussions.  They know that home is a safe place. They're 16 and 18 and they're not afraid to say, "I love you" to us and to each other. They're not afraid to hug us or each other and show affection.

We have created traditions. Some have come about by accident, some by design. A tradition is simply something that becomes important to you and your family and something you want to do more than once. Some of our traditions have come about because the boys wanted them. Like this weekend. Last year we were in Utah visiting friends over Easter and we went to Music and the Spoken Word on Easter Sunday. The choir did selections from Handel's Messiah. It was awesome and the boys decided that we needed to do that every Easter. So, we're going to Utah this weekend. We didn't contrive a tradition, it happened naturally. We created other traditions like new Christmas ornaments every year and snuggle nights with Dad where they sleep out in the living room. When The Boy learned how to drive, they created their own brotherly tradition of ice cream runs (which is going out together to get ice cream shakes because after 8:00 they're only $1.00).

We took our boys out to dinner and to museums at an early age and taught them how we expect them to behave in those circumstances.

I read to them when they were little and they've been surrounded by books all their lives. While they like books and like reading, things like games and streaming came into the world and so neither one is the ultimate bookworm I had hoped to foster. I'm surprised at how little that bothers me, although I cherish the moments I catch them reading.

They know how to work hard. They can still fight with each other like tiger cubs (giant tiger cubs), but they're kind and they help others. We're incredibly proud of them and I think they just came to us good and we have managed to not screw them up too terribly, so far.

So, parent the way you think is best. Parent what works for you. And what works for one child, might not work the same for another. Do your best. Parenting is such an individual thing. I personally believe the most important thing is that your kids know they are loved and will talk to you and that is more important to me than color-coordinated birthday parties or manufactured vignettes of perfectness, but to each his own.

Make your own lists of what you think is important as parents, don't worry about someone else's.

Keep doing what you're doing if it's working for you, and stop comparing yourself to others, because you're all fantastic parents. Don't let some anonymous person on the Internet let you feel differently.

What is your parenting style or philosophy? What's worked for you?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cover Crush...The Little French Bistro

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

Anything that reminds me of Paris is good. Although, without the title, this book cover could evoke France, Italy or the Mediterranean. Obviously from the title, the story is set around a bistro. Who owns it? Where is it located? What stories can be told of those who visit?

The bright bistro table and chairs just call for a spring brunch, taken outside on the street, perhaps with a friend and a cup of espresso or hot chocolate. Can you imagine a better setting?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Literary VacationA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Trimming the TBR

Today, I have 2891 books on my Goodreads To-Read list. Some of those have been on there since I first started tracking my reading on Goodreads. I periodically purge that list and remove books and I thought it could be a fun exercise to share here.

So, among the first purge are the following:

Where the Heart Is... Liked the film well enough, don't feel the need to read the book.

Eat, Pray, Love... Too much hype, it no longer interests me.


good enough mother... While it is likely a terrific parenting book. I haven't picked up a parenting book in years. 

Square Foot Gardening... As much as I'd love to do this at some point, I'm not going to be looking at my To-Read list for books about it.

The Work and The Glory... There was so much hype about this series when it came out years ago that I was completely put off by it. That hasn't changed. Still have no desire to read or watch it.

A Year of Reading... Yeah, a book about what to read sounds good in theory, but with 2800+ books already on my To-Read list and more getting added weekly, I don't need a book giving me suggestions on what to read.

Eat, Shrink & Be Merry... I don't even remember what kind of diet this is. With The Doctor so successfully doing Keto, I'm not cooking the way I used to and I'm not looking at diet plans or cookbooks any more.

Coming Unglued... I read two others in this series and while they were ok, I didn't enjoy them enough to seek out the rest.


I ended this purge with 2855 books, which means I eliminated 36 books from my To-Read shelf. Not bad. Obviously I didn't list every single book here. But it's a start, right?

What about you? How many books are on your TBR? Do you ever go through and clean it out?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekend Reflections 4/8

Looking outside...it's gray and overcast and spitting rain. Quite dreary to look at actually. Temp is 48. We've had a variety of temps and weather this week: near freezing nights and nearly 70 during the day. A typical Idaho spring. The Boise River is high and there are flood warnings, which isn't good.

Listening...to relative silence. A clock ticking and a fish tank filter running. The Boy is at work. The Doctor is at a seminar and The Artist is asleep.

Loving...that there are a few lilac blooms on my lilac tree. We cut it back hard last year and while it's mostly just leaves this year, there are some off shoots that are blooming. I love violets.

Thinking...that I can't believe The Artist is old enough to drive. We signed him up for Driver's Education/Training this summer and spent time at the DMV trying to get his permit. There's an issue with his social security number though, so I have to make calls about that on Monday.

In my kitchen...Our ward is doing their annual scout fundraiser. Dutch Oven Dinner and auction. I was asked to make French Silk Pie for the auction. Those are in the fridge, waiting for their whipped cream crown this evening. I'm drinking my Crio Bru at the moment. 

Wearing...purple pajamas, gray sweater and black slippers. It's not quite cold enough to turn on the heater again, but there is a definite spring chill in the air.

Hoping...that the sun decides to peek out at some point today.

Reading...Still working on that. It's not going too well.

Today...I have to pay bills and do the finances. Not my most favorite thing to do.

Quoting... “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Feeling...tired and a bit under the weather.

Planning...we take The Boy back to school next weekend. I'm not looking forward to having him gone again. We've enjoyed having him home for the last 3 months. His brother especially. But I love that he has these opportunities for learning and growth.

Gratitude...for my home and a comfortable recliner and blanket. 

From my world... 

Kev gets it. Best thing on the Internet this week. And dead-on accurate.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cover Crush...The Baker's Secret

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

This cover is incredibly simple. But it's the simplicity that makes it so evocative. Who is the baker? Why has he/she left a bike parked with abandoned baguettes? Is it a delivery? Who is the baker meeting? Are these fresh baguettes? Because fresh baguettes are amazing and just looking at these makes me hungry for fresh bread.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, indieBRAG, A Literary Vacation.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I found that I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!


Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd 
3/5 Stars

"Definitely chick-lit. Light and fluffy with very little depth or substance. Lexi is a college graduate going from job to job. Her degree is impractical, having something to do with French culture and literature. She moves back home, only to find that her parents are in the midst of preparing to sell their home and move to a retirement community. Predictably, Lexi's choices disappoint them. However, Lexi loves all things French and is determined to find employment that will indulge her.

When a casual conversation with the manager of a French bakery leads to a job offer, Lexi jumps in only to find that the pay is inadequate and the staff are difficult. The story is fairly predictable, but Lexi is likeable. She's real, there is nothing fairy-tale about the story. She says the wrong things at times and makes mistakes. Her family is annoying, but whose isn't at times? The story is Christian, without being preachy or religious.

Overall, a light, enjoyable read."

Well, it's obvious I liked it, but I remember nothing about this book!

Your Roots are Showing by Elise Chidley
4/5 Stars

"Lizzie Buckley has what appears to be a perfectly wonderful life: a lovely home, a handsome husband and two beautiful twin toddlers. But, as so often happens to tired young mothers, she suffers from exhaustion, some depression and a decreased desire for sex. She writes an email to her sister, venting about her frustrations and, unfortunately, sends it to her husband by mistake.

What follows is a charming novel about life and love, and family and friends, and what happens when two people who really love each other forget how to communicate. After her husband leaves, Lizzie must pick up the pieces of her life and put it back together. As she does this, she finds herself again.

A funny, enthralling novel set in contemporary England. Lizzie's voice rings true and while you both cringe and laugh at her antics and misjudgments, you cry with her frustrations.

Elise Chidley captures what it's like to be a wife and mother. A terrific debut novel. I can't wait for more."

No memory of this one. I wish I still had my copy, I'd reread it.

 Doesn't She Look Natural? by Angela Hunt
2.5/5 Stars

"After a painful divorce, Jennifer Graham finds that she has inherited a small-town funeral home from an elderly great uncle. Needing a fresh start, she and her children move from Virginia to Florida. The Fairlawn funeral home is in need of remodeling and repair, much like Jen's own life.

As Jen embarks on this new journey, she meets new people, makes new friends and learns about herself and her relationship with God along the way. The Christian theme is subtle throughout the book.

The story is light and predictable. Jen decides to keep Fairlawn, and run it, rather than sell it. There is very little depth and minor character development. It's a nice little story that had potential. I liked Jen. I loved Gerald. I thought the ex-husband was a cad, but there was also very little backstory and the conclusion was just a little too convenient for me.

My big complaint with this story is the narration. Jen's story is told in first-person, which I rarely like. The chapters then alternate between Jen and the other characters like her mom, Gerald, and her son. These supporting characters aren't written as first-person, but are an awkward present-tense third-person narrative. It was actually quite annoying and very distracting. The story would have been much stronger had the author maintained the same style throughout it.

I'd give this 2.5 stars. It's a good, not great, story that had a lot of unfulfilled potential."

Reading the review made me remember my frustration with the narration, but I recall nothing about the book itself.


What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Friday, March 31, 2017

5 Books I Want to Read...Letters

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2815. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

This month, it's letters. I love letters. I enjoy emails and they're a great way to keep in touch, but there is just something special about handwritten letters. I have letters that my dad wrote to me while I was in college. He often traveled for his job when I was younger and he would send my sisters and me postcards or leave us little notes before he left. I cherish those notes and letters now.

My husband and I had a long-distance courtship because he was in England and I was in America. This was pre-internet so I have cards and letters that are precious to me because of the things we shared with each other.

Handwritten letters are tangible proof that someone is or was thinking about you. We need to write more of them to people.


The Wedding Letters by Jason Wright

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wednesday Letters comes the completion of one family's journey to survive their past and forge their own future. With no more secrets...

When Noah Cooper bumps into Rachel, it's love at first sight—at least for Noah. Rachel isn't so sure. But Noah's charm pays off, and he introduces his bride-to-be to a special Cooper family tradition—the wedding letters. Family and friends of the happy couple are invited to send letters of advice on love, life, and happiness.

However, when a dark secret from Rachel's past surfaces, will Noah and his parents, Malcolm and Rain, be able to help save the wedding from disaster? And what about the scrapbook of wedding letters that have already been gathered? Could a single letter really provide the answer that will bring Rachel back?

Set against the backdrop of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, The Wedding Letters will remind you that sometimes, no matter the secrets of years' past, two hearts can still be one. And by the final page, you might just want to create your own book of wedding letters for someone you love.

Béla's Letters by Jeff Ingber

Through personal narrative and letters preserved for decades, Béla’s Letters tells the remarkable story of a large Eastern European family torn apart by war and the Holocaust, the extraordinary circumstances that each family member endures, and the survivors’ struggle to come to terms with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them.

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation..."

It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I’ll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women.

If Heaven had a Mailbox by Jill Telford

Seventeen years after the death of her mother, a woman thinks about what would happen if she mails a letter to her mother in Heaven. She takes out a pen and starts writing. She doesn't put a stamp. She sends the letter off with only faith that it reaches it's destination. She prays for a response but the response received is the most unbelievable , most incredible, and perhaps the best thing to happen in her life. The response comes with one promise. Not to tell anybody. This is a short story kicking off the book series: If Heaven had a Mailbox.

The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

Katerina inherits a scented, wooden spice box after her grandmother Mariam dies. It contains letters and a diary, written in Armenian. As she pieces together her family story, Katerina learns that Mariam's childhood was shattered by the Armenian tragedy of 1915.

Mariam was exiled from her home in Turkey and separated from her beloved brother, Gabriel, her life marred by grief and the loss of her first love. Dissatisfied and restless, Katerina tries to find resolution in her own life as she completes Mariam's story – on a journey that takes her across Cyprus and then half a world away to New York.

Miracles, it seems, can happen – for those trapped by the past, and for Katerina herself.


What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary and A Literary Vacation.