What Caught My Eye This Week

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Photo: Susan Braun

My friend Susan at Girls in White Dresses, made this beautiful keepsake pillow!

Read the how and why of it here.

 

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Printable Harry Potter Book Covers

 

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Where was this when my son was a Tony Hawk-obsessed little dare-devil?

Skateboard Swing

 

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Cool Video on Making Four Yummy Kinds of Sliders!

Sliders How-to

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 Pretty Use for a 1950’s Wedding Gift

Scent Organizer

 

Two Adorable Homemade Games

Matching and PBJ

 

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Lovely fall decorating in non-traditional colors. Love it!

Fall decor

 

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Moroccan Tea Glasses

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Scrabble Message Board

 

Liberator: A GI’s World War II Journey

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When I read the blurb on this book I knew I’d like it. This was my Grandfather’s war for the most part. He, too, was put with a National Guard Unit at the beginning–from Louisiana though he was a Hoosier who, at the time, had never left Central Indiana.

But this book is about an officer named Felix Sparks. Though he, too, was under General Mark “Wayne” Clark, he was a lot higher up the food chain than Grandpa in his truck. This is also the story of his unit–of ordinary soliders almost all of whom today would be diagnosed with PTSD. Then they got famously slapped by General Patton for cowardice. (Well, two did–the others got better, if primitive treatment.)

Felix Spark’s story is typical of the so-called “Greatest Generation.” The Depression changed everything and the depression also made him a leader. Like many today, he needed money for an education so he joined the army. Then the war reached America and he was in the thick of it up Italy and all the way to the end of the war in Europe.

The experiences that haunt me include, obviously, the arrival at Dachau–no film can capture the horror of that moment. The “chicken shit’ antics of a higher-up defy belief, but only for a minute. Only until we remember that this is still a bureaucracy. Someone has to get a medal, a headline, a promotion.

Dachau is beyond the ken of anyone who didn’t liberate it. To a lesser extent, so too is the stress and cold the men endured. The noise. The terror. The psychological destruction of good men–the parts old history books leave out. These images haunt me, too.

Then there’s the “cognitive dissonance” of trying to tally the behavior that made this the “Greatest Generation,” with the absolutely staggering v.d. and gonorrhea levels of our troops.Where were those stolid, strong, quiet men who made the world safe and then went home to their wives and girlfriends to raise families? It wasn’t just the single 19 year-olds who were chasing every skirt available. A wife who was unfaithful was revieled and could expect instant divorce in most cases (not all), but from the beginning of time wives have been expected to overlook sexual antics committed by soldiers of all ranks. From the public humiliation of Dwight Eishenhower’s nearly estranged wife, Mamie, to the teenage wife of a 19 year old G.I., all were supposed to smile and go on and pretend it hadn’t happened.  Such is war.

Alex Kershaw is an author who can truly spin a story. I’ve enjoyed two other books of his: The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter–both on other soldiers in World War II. This is well researched, well written history. His books read like good novels, but pack the punch of a Sherman Tank.

Liberator by Alex Kershaw.

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Fall! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I can’t lie–I love Fall. I love the visible changes that herald the arrival of this season. Where I live the tobacco comes in to the barns, the corn gets turned into mazes, the leaves become all sorts of beautiful colors. But the big thing to me is RED! I’m a red leaf freak! Love red leaves. I’ve always wanted my driveway to be bordered by bushes that turn bright red in the Autumn.

 

These are some of the great NEW Fall things I’m looking forward to this season.

Food and Drinks

In the Autumn you are either a pumpkin freak or an apple fan. I’m the latter. I don’t dislike pumpkin, it’s just not enough to build a life around. And, nutmeg just doesn’t do all that much for me. I even feel free to skip it, or greatly reduce it, in most apple recipes. Autumn is a time for root vegetables and squash; for soups and stews.  If you tailgate or host parties fall drinks become crucial–both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. And who doesn’t enjoy ribs? Or desert? Or nibbles? Even salad is delicious this time of year!

 

Crock-Pot Apple Butter BBQ Spare Ribs Harvest Cobb SaladAutumn Infused Water; Carmel Apple SangriaHearty Italian Chicken and Autumn Veggie SoupPumpkin, Spinach and Walnut SpaghettiAutumn Brittle; Cookie Sheet Apple Pie  (OK, I slipped in ONE old favorite!)

 

Memory Keeping

While I don’t do so much anymore–well, let’s be honest. How many duck-faced selfies do you want to take time to preserve? I know, right? So, suffice to say that the teen years aren’t as much fun to document and embellish for the scrapbooks–or even the photo book! SMASH books–yes, I could SMASH some duck faces, LOL. Here are some lovely scrapbook pages you can use for inspiration.

 

 

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Fun Stuff

Bucket lists can be fun–or stressful, depending on your take. Remember, many of these things–like Corn Mazes, Hay Rides, Pumpkin Patch trips can really add up. Look for freebies. Churches often do these as an alternative to scary Halloween. A donation maybe requested. Just because Pinterest says its great, doesn’t mean it is! Do what your family enjoys. These are merely suggestions. Plus, Mom’s who love to Scrapbook need these activities to fuel their hobby!! So, to do Snapchat and Instagram addicted young girl friends (sorry, guys)!

 

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Do you enjoy Fall? What’s your favorite Fall food or drink? Activity? Football–yes or no? Leave me a comment or link to your own Fall favorites or other fall-themed post.

And then there’s …… Football…

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…and, all the men (and a surprising number of women) said AMEN.

Top 5 Characters I wouldn’t trade places with

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When picking for this post, obviously, there are some sources that would be demeaned by their inclusion here. The Holocaust comes immediately to mind. So, the non-fiction choices all have had a positive outcome, though against great odds.

 

Non-fiction

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I’ll just let the moldy ham be my reason for not wanting to be one of the kids in this family. The other reasons are too traumatic to endure again. This is a terrifying roller-coaster of a memoir. The proof of “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” and then some.  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

 

 

 

 

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I wouldn’t trade places with Joe Rantz, the young man abandoned by his family to fend for himself in Boys in the Boat. While I regret that we’ve seemingly lost the sort of resiliancy that Joe and so many others in the so-called Greatest Generation had, I don’t think we should bring back unprocesuted child abandonment, either. Boys in the Boat….

 

 

 

 

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I can’t think of anyone in this book that I’d change places with–even the author himself, who finally escapes. He had to live thru it first. Angela’s Ashes.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction

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I would not want to be the poor little sister in this family. Where the heck where the parents and why the heck wasn’t big brother in massive amounts of therapy? Fabulously told story, but I never understood how such well-off parents skirted the whole idea of therapy for archery-obsessed son. We Need to Talk About Kevin.

 

 

 

 

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This one is probably too obvious. I’d not want to be the second Mrs. Maxim De Winter, though the set-up, pre-arrival at Manderlay would have been just my thing. A charming, handsome older man and an apparently beloved second wife. But then……… Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you do a Top 5 post this week? Do you have a character you’d never want to change places with? Leave me a comment! You can join the Top 5 Wednesday Fun at the Group’s headquarters on Goodreads.

Remember, links to buy books or other links, are purely for your convenience. I do not earn any money if you click.

 

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Eating in nature and food in Seattle: Two Book Reviews

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At 34 author Elizabeth Bailey is struck with a mysterious illness that leaves her bedridden.

“Ss the months drifted by, it was hard to remember why the endless details of a healthy life and a good job had seemed so critical.” (p.10).

During a “strong” day she finds a small snail and brings him/her (snails are both) into the house to live in her potted plant. But, these are just the facts. The story, …well the story! Oh my! What a story! I loved every word! I felt her absorption in this tiny being’s world. I felt the wonder, the worry and the joy. This is a true introvert’s delight. The snail gives her something to go on for–something her size (the size of her strength at that time) to inspire her.

Gradually, though, Bailey gets better, stronger. The snail, whether lonely or due to some innate need to continue the species, reproduces–this part has a few magical sentences. Observing the tiny eggs, the caring parent–is a revelation to Bailey–she very well may be the only person to observe this. But one snail is a lot when you are bedridden. It’s enough. The 100+ offspring….that’s another story. (FYI:They were humanly released back to the wild).

“The previous spring, when I could do almost nothing, spending time with a snail had been pure entertainment. But as my functional abilities improved just a bit, watching a snail began to take patience. I wondered at what point in my convalescence I might leave the snail’s world behind.” (p. 152-152).

Finally, Bailey is well enough to return home. Her dog is back with her. But the love of the snail has made her delve into real research about the snail–both while ill and after. The product of her observations, her fascination and her research is this incredible little book. If you only read one nature book this year, let the Sound of a Wild Snail Eating be it.

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Chef Renee Erickson is a mover and a shaker in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her cookbook, A Boat, a Whale & A Walrus showcases the cuisines of her restaurants. In among the amazing seafood menus and recipes are fun stories of her climb up to the top as a chef, of enjoying food with friends, and of the people who sell her the super-fresh, superb-quality food that stars in her restaurants. I must admit, though, I had little sympathy for “having” to eat crab because it was so cheap where she grew up! I’ll swap you all the pork chops or poached eggs on toast you want for those childhood crabs!

As a chef she does something I’ve not read much about before–she serves many meals at room temperature. Interesting, but it sounds like it works very well. I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle and, appropriately, I found this book in the recommendations of Seattle’s fabled Elliot Bay Book Company

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Now, the food….Can you imagine swirling a glass with a martini involving preserved lemon and an anchovy stuffed olives while munching gorgeous artichoke leaves dipped in velvety mayonnaise (a passion of mine) then being called to this lovely table (left) to  enjoy great conversation while indulging in a dinner of the freshest seafood, vegetables, breads and fruits available–all paired when appropriate with superb wines and  prepared by someone who says: “I can cook ’til I’m blue in the face, but if no one’s around to eat it, to form a community around it, it’s just a bunch of food” (p19)? Sigh. Swoon. Foodie Heaven.

And then, there’s desert! Oh my, my, my, my, my! She does have a somewhat distressing affinity for both rhubarb and fennel, but I imagine I’d like them fine the ways she works on them! And, if not, there’s desert–right?

Seattle has moved up several notches on my Bucket List. A Boat, a Whale & A Walrus by James Beard Award Winner, Renee Erickson

 

Top Ten Tuesday: My favorite audios and favorite podcasts

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I spent 1 hour and 15 minutes in the car each way to/from work, five days a week. That’s a lot of time to listen to great books! I have series I LOVE on audio and one that was ruined by the change of reader. Series are a great deal for commuters–they’re like spending time with old friends after a while.

Series

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Several years ago I binge-listened to the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and have loved them ever since. Precious and Grace and Mr. J.M. Matekoni, Fanwell, Charlie–the whole gang are like friends now. And Lisette Lecat IS the voice (well, voiceS) of this series. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alexander McCall Smith writes several series these days. 44 Scotland Street is the other one he writes that I love. Poor Bertie, stuck with that Mother and Olive and therapy! And his poor father, too, always losing the car. I also love Domenica and Angus and dear Cyril. Those are my favorites in this large ensemble cast which grew out of the adventures of the residents of a block of flats at 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh.

44 Scotland Street.

 

 

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I used to LOVE this series! It’s another one I started after I found this job. I binge-listened to Stephanie, Joe, Ranger, Lula, and Grandma Mazer and had a fabulous time as cars were blown up, Rex trotted out of his soup can, and Grandma wrecked havoc at the funeral home. But then, … BUT THEN, C. J. Critt  was replaced [maybe it was her choice? I don’t know] and I couldn’t stand listening another minute! C. J. Critt  WAS this series. The new person turned Grandma Mazer into a dim-wit and made other unforgiveable changes. So, now I have to read these. Stephanie Plum One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

 

Favorite Singles

loving-frankNancy Horan makes famous people come alive! I fell passionately in love with Loving Frank–so much so that it became my Must Read recommendation that year at my old blog. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney were a WOW couple. They broke society’s rules, loved, lusted, lived and did it all while he created beauty. This story has it all. While it is fiction it is based on real events in real lives. Just writing about it makes me want to listen to it all over again. Loving Frank.

 

 

 

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Everyone was raving about this book, but when I picked it up in hardback I couldn’t get it going. I switched to the audio and it became one of my all-time favorite novels. This is later-in-life romance at it’s very best. It is modern day Britain at it’s best. An elderly widower and widow discover they have more in common than people think. One is British, the other is Pakistani, but people are people the world over as we’re told and it is true. This is a love story to be savored for the ages. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

 

 

I don’t listen to podcasts on my commute–instead I enjoy these at home. Here is a link to my recent podcast post. Please click and read the short list of my faves. Podcasts I Enjoy.

 

Have a favorite audio? Favorite podcast? Leave me a comment with the titles or a link!

Better yet! Join in the fun of Top Ten Tuesday by posting your own list and linking it up at The Broke and The Bookish.

 

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What Caught My Eye This Week

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Cute Doodle

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I want pillowcases embroidered like this!

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Papafragas Beach

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Pet Lover Tea Towels

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Note: Clicking links on this blog does not earn me anything. They are just for your convenience.

 

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Tiny Journal

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Vintage Fridge

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Outdoor Living: Table With Built-in Beverage Cooler

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Chair Socks

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Homemade Game:

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Cute Painted Chairs

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81f7e20d0b9cc523d804f1792a41ad52Cute Embellished Jeans

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Did anything cool catch your eye this week? Leave me a link! I love to window shop!

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Have You Tried Serial Reader?

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For a few years now I’ve been starting classics and abandoning them with some regularity. I’ve been hearing good things about an app called Serial Reader and decided to try it. When blogs were the new thing I tried a few classics on a day-to-day basis. Walden was one that had it’s on blog. Each day a bite sized portion of the book was posted. Serial Reader does the same sort of thing but delivers it where I (and many others) seem to live these days: My phone.

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Les Miserables

Recently, one of my Goodreads online book clubs chose Les Miserable  for September–that stalwart once known to Civil War soldiers as Lee’s Miserables. The book is daunting–I’ve gotten as far as Chapter VI on my kindle. I can assure you there is no way I will finish it in September 2016! I tried to get it on audio, but it’s only available in e-audio and I always mess up my place in those trying to fix the volume. So, I decided Les Mis was the perfect trial run for this new app. I’m trying out the free version. There is an upgrade for about $3.00 that allows you to read ahead. I’m pretty sure I’ll pony up for that. For example, as it is, I’ll have to wait a few days to get where I stopped on Kindle. That could knock me right out of the mood to conquer the book!

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A big thank you to Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies for tipping me off to this app!

Do you use Serial Reader? What do you like or dislike? What books have you enjoyed via this app? Leave me a comment.

 

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 Want to buy this? It’s currently on Etsy.

I do NOT make any money when you click on links to items for sale on Etsy or anywhere else!

Reading Around the World: Ghana

To my mind, the fifth volume, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, is the best of all the volumes of Maya Angelou’s autobiography. Set in 1962 (the year I was born) this book tells of the author’s journey to Ghana with her 17 year old son. Now part of a racial majority, she still encountered another sort of prejudice as an American. Her 17 year old son, too, found things out when he enrolled at the University of Ghana. Ms. Angelou married a Ghanaian who is described as a “freedom fighter.” I read this book just after I came home from Peace Corps in Malawi. All those years later (29 years) I had watched as the sole African-American in our group was rejected on our village visit–the locals wanted a “real” American (i.e. white) and how she struggled for acceptance. After two years of hard work she succeeded and stayed on after we went home to take an independent job. Ms Angelou,  with her high status and profile and her extensive contacts among actors, writers, etc, had quite a “journey” in this book.  I highly recommend ALL the volumes in her autobiography, but this one even more so.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, by Maya Angelou

Shelf Control: An Office Fit for A Writer and a Darling Monster!

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Last month I did a Top Ten Tuesday list of books on my shelf that I haven’t read. Then it became obvious that my daughter really had fled the nest for good so I reclaimed her bedroom as my home office.

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In the process of moving my books from the dining area (the three matching bookcases) and from two bookcases in my bedroom (not shown) I was able to take time and sort books and reshelve them in a  way that makes my librarian’s heart sing! Previously they new ones were just where ever I could make or find space. I weeded a few as well. Hello Half Priced books for a few of them, hello library book sale for others. The white bookcases and the chair now hold mostly fiction and the white bookcase is double-shelved (books behind those you see). As you can imagine, I found even MORE books I hadn’t read! Mind you, some I buy as a collector. I don’t imagine there’s that much new on Churchill, the Roosevelts or the Royal Family that I haven’t already read somewhere. So, even, ignoring those bought just for those collections, at my current non-audio reading rate I could probably get thru a year or two without ever buying a book or getting one from the library!

So how to pick just one for this post? I first consulted the old post I mentioned above. Then I looked at the books in progress but set aside for some reason–after all I hadn’t really read them. Then I thought of my current manuscript–I woudln’t want to end up plagiarizing now would I? So, I settled on this one.

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The title told me pretty much what I’d imagined–Diana Cooper wasn’t just any upper class mother. She had style! Darling Monster,  indeed! In my Amberleigh books, Julia always calls her husband Clive a Horrid Old Monster, but like in this book, Monster is a term of loving endearment. (He calls her a Beastly Little Girl in the same fashion–I thought you’d want to know that. It’s called piquing your interest in a hopefully, someday forthcoming fiction series, ok?).

So check back soon for my review. Rest assured though, soon means sometime before next year. Just so we’re straight on that point.  Darling Monster by Diana Cooper.

 

Want to join the fun? You can do your own Shelf Control post by visiting Bookfantasies and reading Lisa’s post. Then join the fun!

NPG x132041; John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich; Diana, Viscountess Norwich (Lady Diana Cooper) by Yvonne Gregory
by Yvonne Gregory, half-plate glass negative, mid 1930s

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