Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday: Reader's Dilemma


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weekend Reflections 8/27

Looking outside...it's sunny and hot. 89 is cooler than it has been, but it's still hot. I am so ready for fall.

Listening...to silence. The Boy and The Doctor are at work and The Artist is sleeping. It sounds like a normal Saturday.

Loving...my family. They are my world.

Thinking...that The Artist started school this week. It's hard to believe he's a sophomore. He's had a great first week as far as classes and school go. 

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. I'm not sure about dinner.

Wearing...purple pajamas. It's my standard summer sleep wear.

Hoping...that we will finally get the Trailblazer back next week. The warranty will cover a new engine, thank goodness and it should be fixed next week.

Reading...To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

Today...We have a funeral for a dear friend who passed away suddenly this week. I love this man and his wife. He was my son's scout leader at church and I worked with him for several years when I was the Advancement Chair for scouts. He was kind and considerate and a truly good man. He looked out for The Artist on activities and encouraged him. Most of all he loved him and The Artist knew it. The Artist had a difficult week because he found out about this man's death at school. A friend's mom texted and the boy proceeded to tell everyone what happened. The Artist immediately texted me asking if it was true. I hadn't even heard about it yet and I had to confirm it. I was livid that he had found out in such a casual manner with no one to explain or comfort him. He has handled it well and we have talked a lot about it and shared our memories. We will take him to the funeral tonight and we have tried to walk him through what will happen. This is the first time someone close to him has died where he is aware of it.

Quoting...“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two"

Feeling...My heart has been heavy this week as I have remembered our dear friend and prayed that his wife and family will find peace and comfort.

Planning...we are acquiring and shopping and crossing off lists as we prepare for The Boy to go to school.

Gratitude...for my family, for my faith in God, for good friends.

From my world... 

My kitchen table has become the collection point as we keep adding to it. We have been shopping and collecting and organizing all that the boy needs for his first college apartment. Some things are new, some things are from my kitchen that we no longer use anymore. Fortunately, he's fairly low maintenance.

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

5 Books I Want to Read...Autobiographical

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2547. 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 is sort of autobiographical.


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

Blessed with enormous talents and the energy and ambition to go with them, Franklin was a statesman, author, inventor, printer, and scientist. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and later was involved in negotiating the peace treaty with Britain that ended the Revolutionary War. He also invented bifocals, a stove that is still manufactured, a water-harmonica, and the lightning rod.

Franklin's extraordinary range of interests and accomplishments are brilliantly recorded in his Autobiography, considered one of the classics of the genre. Covering his life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, this charming self-portrait recalls Franklin's boyhood, his determination to achieve high moral standards, his work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, experiences during the French and Indian War, and more. Related in an honest, open, unaffected style, this highly readable account offers a wonderfully intimate glimpse of the Founding Father sometimes called "the wisest American."

Columbine by Dave Cullen

"The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror . . . " So begins a new epilogue, illustrating how Columbine became the template for nearly two decades of "spectacle murders." It is a false script, seized upon by a generation of new killers. In the wake of Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.

What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme

In her own words, here is the captivating story of Julia Child’s years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found ‘her true calling.’

From the moment the ship docked in Le Havre in the fall of 1948 and Julia watched the well-muscled stevedores unloading the cargo to the first perfectly soigné meal that she and her husband, Paul, savored in Rouen en route to Paris, where he was to work for the USIS, Julia had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken gal from Pasadena, California, who didn’t speak a word of French and knew nothing about the country, was steeped in the language, chatting with purveyors in the local markets, and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu.

After managing to get her degree despite the machinations of the disagreeable directrice of the school, Julia started teaching cooking classes herself, then teamed up with two fellow gourmettes, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to help them with a book they were trying to write on French cooking for Americans. Throwing herself heart and soul into making it a unique and thorough teaching book, only to suffer several rounds of painful rejection, is part of the behind-the-scenes drama that Julia reveals with her inimitable gusto and disarming honesty.

Filled with the beautiful black-and-white photographs that Paul loved to take when he was not battling bureaucrats, as well as family snapshots, this memoir is laced with wonderful stories about the French character, particularly in the world of food, and the way of life that Julia embraced so wholeheartedly. Above all, she reveals the kind of spirit and determination, the sheer love of cooking, and the drive to share that with her fellow Americans that made her the extraordinary success she became.

Le voici. Et bon appétit!

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Nine years before the Senate campaign that made him one of the most influential and compelling voices in American politics, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego.

Obama opens his story in New York, where he hears that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has died in a car accident. The news triggers a chain of memories as Barack retraces his family’s unusual history: the migration of his mother’s family from small-town Kansas to the Hawaiian islands; the love that develops between his mother and a promising young Kenyan student, a love nurtured by youthful innocence and the integrationist spirit of the early sixties; his father’s departure from Hawaii when Barack was two, as the realities of race and power reassert themselves; and Barack’s own awakening to the fears and doubts that exist not just between the larger black and white worlds but within himself.

Propelled by a desire to understand both the forces that shaped him and his father’s legacy, Barack moves to Chicago to work as a community organizer. There, against the backdrop of tumultuous political and racial conflict, he works to turn back the mounting despair of the inner city. His story becomes one with those of the people he works with as he learns about the value of community, the necessity of healing old wounds, and the possibility of faith in the midst of adversity.

Barack’s journey comes full circle in Kenya, where he finally meets the African side of his family and confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life. Traveling through a country racked by brutal poverty and tribal conflict, but whose people are sustained by a spirit of endurance and hope, Barack discovers that he is inescapably bound to brothers and sisters living an ocean away—and that by embracing their common struggles he can finally reconcile his divided inheritance.

A searching meditation on the meaning of identity in America, Dreams from My Father might be the most revealing portrait we have of a major American leader—a man who is playing, and will play, an increasingly prominent role in healing a fractious and fragmented nation.


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: Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation, The Maiden's Court, A Bookaholic Swede, Flashlight Commentary.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

#CoverCrush: My Bookstore

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.

The little bookstore surrounded by books instead of buildings caught my eye. It's bright and cheery and a perfect complement to the softer, muted colors of the rest of the cover. 

A book about books and favorite places to "Browse, Read and Shop"? How can you not love it? This is on my wish list. 

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 CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesindieBRAG.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Conversation at Our House...Elephants

The Brother has always loved animals. Especially elephants. Even now, as a teenager, he still loves elephants. He is self taught in all of his knowledge and can spout details on a whim. He's really fun to take to the zoo.

J: “I wish I could be an elephant.”
M: “Where would you live?”
J: “Down here, in the living room.”
M: “Wouldn’t you want to live in Africa?”
J (indignantly): “Mom! I wouldn’t have a herd in Africa, I’d be by myself. I’d get eaten by a lion.”
M: “Well, you can stay here then and we can be your herd.”
J (indignantly): “Mom! People don’t live in herds, they live in groups. Other animals live in herds. Humans live in groups, you know, like baboons.”

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weekend Reflections 8/20

Looking outside...it's sunny and hot. Our high today is supposed to be 92. Is fall coming soon? Because I am so ready for cooler weather.

Listening...to silence. The Boy is playing pool at Nonna's. The Doctor is at work. The Artist is playing Minecraft.

Loving...my husband. He is such a good man. I am blessed.

Thinking...that the boys need to do some room cleaning.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. Not sure about what to do for dinner.

Wearing...purple pajamas.

Hoping...that I can find that elusive motivation somewhere.

Reading...um, yeah...

Today...I'm not quite sure.

Quoting...“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough” ― Walt Whitman

Feeling...I am tired. That's pretty much my life right now.

Planning...we are getting everything organized for The Artist to start school on Monday. We went to the school this week to walk his schedule, talk to teachers and pick up his school-issued tablet.

Gratitude...that the Trailblazer gets the new engine it needs and that new engine is covered by the warranty. Woot! It just took two months to get there.

From my world... 

Quarterly shipments of Boudin sourdough bread. My mom, my sister and I all take turns ordering. It freezes well. There is no better sourdough than Boudin's. Even adequate sourdough is impossible to find in Idaho. So, we order it from San Francisco and pay exorbitant shipping prices. But, it is so worth it!

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Mary Stetson Clarke

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.

Mary Stetson Clarke is an author I discovered in elementary school. Her books were wonderful historical stories that I devoured over and over again. Historically these books are incredibly sound. When looking up the Saugus Iron Works, which is the setting for The Iron Peacock, I discovered that Mrs. Clarke used actual historical figures and experiences in the book. The Glass Phoenix also uses the Sandwich Glass Works as a setting as well as real historical figures. They are fascinating and even now, I love to re-read them. As a college student, I was able to find used copies of my favorites.

The Iron Peacock. When the English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, many Scotsmen were captured and brought to America as indentured servants. Many of those men were sold to the Saugus Iron Works as servants for a period of 7 years. The Iron Peacock fictionalizes the historical account of the Iron Works. Joanna Sprague and her father flee England aboard a ship taking indentured Scots to America. When her father dies aboard ship, Joanna is unable to pay the rest of her fare and is also sold as an indentured servant to the Iron Master. She meets Ross McCrae, a young Scottish piper, also indentured.

Piper to the Clan. Is a prequel of sorts to The Iron Peacock and tells Ross McCrae's story before he's forced to leave Scotland.

The Limner's Daughter. Forced to return to her father's childhood home in Massachusetts after he suffers an injury, Amity Lyte struggles to discover the secrets that drove her father away in the first place. Set in 1805 Massachusetts, depicting the introduction of the Baldwin apple, the construction of inland waterways, and patriotic prejudice, this novel reveals the struggle of a sixteen-year-old girl to understand and clear the mystery of her father's reputation as she strives to build a home for her family.

The Glass Phoenix. Set in the mid 1800s at the Sandwich Glass Works. Ben Tate has always been fascinated with glass and the miracles of glass pressing, the formulas for achieving different colors. Accidentally acquiring a previously unknown formula for making red glass, Ben triggers an unimaginable chain of events.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

#CoverCrush: The Colonel's Lady

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.

I adored this cover the minute I saw it. I loved the book too. But the cover is breathtaking. The muted shades of blue are perfect, the woman is looking away as if she hears something. She's wearing a gorgeous dress. It's just the kind of cover a beautiful historical romance novel should have. 

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 CommentaryA Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, indieBRAG.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Flashback Friday: Women of Glory...Review


When I was in college, I read romance novels voraciously. I was an English major taking Russian classes, so I had a pretty heavy workload with scads of required reading. Since reading was also my love, I needed a way to still read for fun and enjoyment. Enter the romance novel phase of my life.

My roommate and I discovered a used bookstore not far from our apartment that would do trade for credit. We'd walk over there about once a week with our bags stuffed full of books, trade them in for credit and walk out with refilled bags. We'd then read those books in our free time and return to the bookstore the next week.

Romance novels were cheap and easy to read. The Harlequin and Silhouette novels are still short and can be read in about an hour to an hour and a half. They required little thought or effort and it was never necessary to write an essay!

I quit reading romance novels in general years ago when the sex scenes became more graphic. I read the occasional romance novel now, but it is not my favorite genre.

My mom had kept some of my old favorite series' from years ago and I pulled out a set to reread last weekend. I think it took me about 3 hours total to read all three books.

Dana Coulter, Maggie Donovan, Molly Rutledge--three daring, valiant women of glory. Fighting for life and country against impossible odds, in the name of friendship, honor--and love.

U.S. Naval graduate Dana Coulter had one dream: to earn her wings. Yet from the moment she clashed with her handsome new flight instructor, she felt hopelessly grounded. Lieutenant Griff Turcotte bullied, browbeat and awoke a hungry passion in her that was impossible to deny. But the jaded fighter pilot was convinced Dana didn't have what it took to make it in the tough Navy world. Until the day she risked her life in an act of heroism that captured his heart for all time....

Family tradition deemed Molly Rutledge should excel in the Navy. Yet sensitive Molly was all at sea when faced with the competitive jet jocks at flight-engineer school especially steely Captain Cameron Sinclair. The sexy widower and the lovely ensign were drawn together like magnets, but Cam doubted Molly would last...still, he couldn't help taking her under his wing - even though putting her through her paces was making his heart run the gauntlet.

Brash, independent Navy pilot Maggie Donovan never dreamed her career --- or her heart --- would come under fire. But when she teamed up with sinfully sexy Wes Bishop, Maggie had met her match. From the first, Wes was enraptured with the fiery Maggie ... and he suspected there was a wealth of womanly tenderness within her just waiting to be tapped. Yet when heart-stopping danger put them both to the test, Wes realized that Maggie's courage and passion reached beyond his wildest imaginings ...

This 1991 series by Lindsay McKenna was fun to reread. I know the books were reissued a couple of years ago and have new covers of just shirtless men, but I don't know if they were updated in text/context.

Even though they are formulaic, I loved revisiting these stories. Dana, Molly and Maggie are strong women, pioneering the way for women fighter pilots in the Navy. In the early 1990s, this scenario was completely plausible. There is a lot of sexism and too many stereotypical women-haters in the books. The three must go up against sexist, bullying men in order to overcome and gain their dreams of flying. Each woman meets a man who, while at first being convinced that a woman is too soft for the job, eventually comes to love her and see her potential. None of them immediately jumps into bed. The dialogue is cheesy and the clothing descriptions are dated. But, problems are easily overcome, families are reunited and love conquers all.

This was a fun way to spend a few lazy weekend hours. Reviewing these from my original 1991 perspective, I'd give them all 4 stars. Not knowing if the books are updated or not would affect a review from today's perspective.

What about you? Do you read romance novels? Do you have old favorites from years ago?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

#CoverCrush: The Whiskey Sea

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.

The ocean calls to me. It is on the coast where I feel the most at home. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent much time on the beach. The northern Pacific Coast isn't warm water. But, the beaches are rugged and magnificent. I love nothing more than sitting on the beach, watching the waves crash.

This cover immediately captured my attention. The rugged beach, the woman walking along the beach in a warm coat and hat. She's alone, looking out at the ocean. Why? Is she sad? Happy? Is she just taking a stroll or is she pondering and searching?

I'm going to have to read the book to find out. And at the moment, I'm fighting a wave of homesickness for the ocean.

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 SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

People Reading...Woman on the Subway

NEW YORK CITY—A woman reading on the subway, 1957. © Inge Morath © The Inge Morath Foundation / Magnum Photos --

Thursday, August 4, 2016

#CoverCrush: To Capture What We Cannot Keep

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.

I love Paris. Have I ever mentioned that on this blog? I loved hiking up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and looking out over Paris. It was February and so it wasn't clear, but it was still gorgeous. 

I love this book cover. I actually have the book in my TBR, but I haven't gotten to it yet. The cover is so intriguing though. It's a bit mysterious. The tower is fading upward, the soft edges could evoke loss or a passing. It's stunning

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 CommentaryA Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, indieBRAG.

Monday, August 1, 2016


About the book:
17-year-old Hannah is losing her grip on reality, which is affecting not only her but her friends and family too. She wrecked the car when bugs crawled over her hands, but were the creepy things even real? Now someone is moving Hannah’s possessions around in her room, or is she imagining that also? Why does she feel like she isn’t in control of her own brain anymore? Hannah is terrified she’s headed for a horrible life in and out of the mental institution, just like her dad.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Her boyfriend, Manny, doesn’t believe her wild stories, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah discover the truth, but even he can't help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever is taking over. She'll have to do that on her own, especially if she wants to save her friends, her mom, and herself.

After letting herself be hypnotized at a county fair, Hannah at first thinks it was unsuccessful. But soon, she finds herself hallucinating and doubting her own thoughts. When she learns that her father had a history of mental illness, she becomes frightened that she could end up like him.

As she struggles to discover what exactly is happening to her, the people she thought were her friends treat her like a pariah and she is forced to find new friends. Fortunately her new friend Eugene believes that there is something going on other than mental illness and he alone is willing to help her find herself and discover what exactly happened at that fair.

YA isn't my usual genre, but occasionally I find YA books that capture my attention. Unlocked didn't just capture my attention, it demanded it. This was one book that I couldn't put down. The suspense, the wonderment at what was happening to Hannah and why, the friendship conflicts, everything just captivated me.

As she showed us in her debut novel Who R U Really, Margo Kelly has a solid grasp of what it's like to be a teenage girl. I don't anymore and I have a house of boys. But, Hannah's frustrations with friends and her mother and the situation read as real and believable. Her fear of losing control of her own mind was palpable.

The supernatural elements helped move the story along smoothly with enough twists that I did not anticipate everything that Hannah went through to find her answers, and the story kept me enthralled until the end.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Merit Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Margo Kelly on her website or on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars