Monday, February 28, 2011

Blue Monday

I have never done a Blue Monday before but it looks like fun.  Blue Monday is hosted by

Blue English skies and two of my favorite people

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Melissa's Musings

It has been a while since I have mused so I thought this morning seemed like a good time to do so.  I have been awake since 5 a.m. -- not my choice but rather an allergy stricken nose.  I finally had to get up and have a cuppa.  I have been going through some of my pics and realized that I hadn't posted any  of my own endeavors in quite some time so I thought I would do that now.

It seems that each Christmas I end up giving something hand/homemade.  This Christmas was no different.  My mother- in-law made the comment, a while back, that I had made everybody a quilt but her so I was looking through my collection of charm packs and decided to make her a disappearing nine patch  out of a cheery peach and turquoise  pattern.  I took photos of the process but, unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  I will have to take a photo the next time I am over there.  In any event here are the pictures of that project:
Charm squares used in Granny's quilt 

Backing fabric
The quilt turned out really cute -- I will post a photo later, and I am in the process of making another out of a completely different colorway and it is going to be lovely, if I do say so myself.

Seems the new year has found me with a new interest in sewing clothing.  I haven't embarked on anything for myself yet but it will come.  I have a hard time finding things I like so I might have to resort to doing it myself.  But, in an effort to ease back into the construction of actual clothing -- not quilts you just wrap yourself in (although that may be an alternative) -- I began with a little jumper for Beanie.  I had purchased a really cute piece of corduroy a while back with no real purpose for it so, when winter came, I decided to try this little jumper pattern.  I had made a number of these button on the shoulder garments for my children so I know they are versatile so I gave it a whirl.  This is the finished product and I have to say that my machine makes really good buttonholes -- this being the first time I ever tried.

Voila! Baby jumper!
Cute babywale corduroy fabric
So, that is what I have been doing in the sewing world.  Well, all that I have photos of.  I need to take more pics and I need to remember to capture the finished products for all to see!  My cooking efforts will have to be for another blog. 

I am in the process of creating some special Christmas items but that will have to wait for another post, like after Christmas, because it is a surprise! More on that later.  So, have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

I have always been a fan of historical fiction although I haven't read much of it in recent years.  I happened upon The Kitchen House and added it to my Nook library not knowing when I might be in the mood to read it.  After reading the incredibly light novel A Piggly Wiggly Wedding I decided to read something I could get "in to" and this book filled the bill.

It is the story of slavery in post-Revolutionary War Virginia.  It is about Lavinia, a young girl who was traveling to America from Ireland with her parents and brother to engage in a life of indentured servitude.  Her parents expired while on the journey and, when they reached America, the boy was sold and Lavinia was taken home to the ship owners home to become part of his household staff.  Lavinia was white.  It is also about Belle, a young slave woman who was part of the same household.  Belle became a mentor to Lavinia and Belle became part of her family.  This is the story of Lavinia and Belle with each chapter alternating between the two -- each telling the story from their perspectives.

This is a story of human strength, weakness, determination, family bonding and a glimpse of the lives of the people during that time.  This is the story of family and not the one you might think.  It is a gripping tale and even though it tackles the subject of slavery of all sorts I couldn't put it down.  It was a sad book but then I guess there are probably millions of sad stories about the time when our country was just being born. I think this one would make a great movie.

I recommend this book with out reservation but you should know that it is somewhat graphic and it is sad.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jumping on the Band Wagon -- My Ten Favorite Movies

Following the lead of Brianna over at LoneStarPrep, I am going to attempt to list my ten favorite movies.  This is difficult for me because my family has always been "into" movies.  I remember going to the drive-in with my parents at a very young age and I even remember being collected from school and driven back to the movie theater where my folks were enjoying a late afternoon matinee.  My cousin and I were movie buffs, bought all the movie magazines and would sit through our favorites multiple times -- "Westside Story" and "Lawrence of Arabia" both come to mind as well as "The Longest Day".  So, since I am of a certain "vintage" and can safely say I have seen many, many movies, it is going to be difficult to name just ten but I will make an effort.  Please note that these are in no particular order except the order they popped into my head.

I went to see "The Haunting" with my friend Sarabeth when I was in junior high school.  I have to say it was the scariest thing I had ever seen.  When you see it in the theater, it is completely different than when you see it on tv and completely different than the new version with Liam Neeson.  Although I am quite fond of Liam, I didn't like his version of this movie.

What can I say about West Side Story?  I saw this movie multiple times when it was first released and I never miss the chance to watch it on tv even though I own a copy of it.  This is the movie that we bought the soundtrack to, learned all the lyrics (I can still remember them) and we all wanted to be Natalie Wood and we all loved Russ Tamblyn.  There is no intro like the one to West Side Story, it still send chills up my spine to see those colors change and art fade to reality.  I think I will watch it tonight.

"Imitation of Life"  was a fantastic movie that covered so many topics and it did it with sensitivity and grace.  It is a rare movie that can deal with divorce, unwed mothers, domestic violence, rejection, and neglect without scaring the child in the audience! I loved this movie and still watch it everytime I run across it and yes, I still cry.

I guess "The Bells of St. Mary's" has to be my all time favorite movie.  When I was a child, after we had Christmas Eve celebrations with my family, I would watch this movie and then midnight Mass.  I was a pain in Santa's patootie because I just would NEVER go to bed on Christmas eve until my viewing had been completed.  This was very strange behavior for a non-Catholic child but after watching this  movie for a few years, I toyed with the idea of being a nun.  More odd behavior from a non-Catholic child but Ingrid Bergman was just so gorgeous and I thought it would be great to be Ingrid Bergman.  Of course, none of that happened but I still watch the movie every Christmas and still get teary eyed and still think Ingrid Bergman was gorgeous.

Next to "The Haunting", "Bunny Lake is Missing" has to be the most frightening movie! Black and white movies just lend themselves to this genre.  My hubby, when he was still my boyfriend, and I sat out for our usual Saturday night movie date.  We had scoured the paper and decided on something but when we got there, what we went to see was being replaced with a "sneak preview" and this was the movie.  I was disappointed at first but once it started I was entralled.  In fact, some of the best movies I have seen were "sneak previews".

I am from Texas.  My father dabbled in film making and ran with the local film making crowd, most of which was involved in making this movie.  The soundtrack is fantastic.  I watch it just to listen to the music.  It reminds me of my dad and it makes me cry. 

The Hubs and I saw this movie not long after we were married.  It was a strange movie -- plot within a plot sort of thing.  This is the first I had heard of Meryl Streep but I thought she was one of the best actresses of my generation I had ever seen.  You have to watch closely to follow it but it is worth watching.

Oh, how I loved the musicals of my youth.  "Funny Girl" is no exception.  The Hubs, while still the BF, sat through this more than once and endured the soundtrack numerous times.  It might not have been such a trial if I hadn't insisted on singing along.  I still enjoy this movie and the sequel "Funny Lady" is probably the only sequel I have really liked.

I first saw  "The Diary of Anne Frank" when I was about 14 years old.  What can I say -- about the saddest thing  I have ever seen.  I am still moved when I watch it.

"The Dungeon of Harrow" -- probably the worst movie in the history of the cinema (well, next to "Bucket of Blood") but, my father -- the one who dabbled in film making -- made it.  It was made in San Antonio, Texas and the surrounding areas.  The budget was like zero.  The acting pretty much the same as the budget but it is my Daddy's movie and still watch it and remember all the work he put into making it.  It was fun for me and I was glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it is still a really bad movie.

So, those are probably my ten all time favorites -- the ones I would watch over and over.  Even though they are from my youth, I have many favorites that are more contemporary.  I love almost anything with Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, and Meg Ryan.  I love contemporary romantic comedy and I always enjoy the British offerings.  "Titanic" is a favorite way to spend time and I am always up for a good mystery.  So, you see, it is pretty near impossible for me to pinpoint a favorite  -- I guess once a movie lover always a movie lover.
Booking Through Thursday

All other things being equal -- do  you prefer used books?  Or new books? (The physical specimen, that is, not the title.)  Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather bound copy.

Well, this does require a bit of thought, doesn't it.  Do I prefer used books?  It depends.  If I am looking for a title that is out of print I obviously  have to prefer it used, don't I?  In that case, I would go for a hard back copy.  The most recent purchase of this type has been The Bumper Book, a children's book from my youth that I have bought copies of for my grandchildren.  Both copies that I have bought have been a bit worn and a bit musty but very tight and intact and I was pleased with my purchase except for the ridiculous price tag that was on them.  

I guess I would say that for current reading I prefer new books.  I like the larger paperbacks over the standard paperbacks but, above all, I prefer hardbacks.  I go against all decor suggestions and leave the dust jackets on them because I like to look at them -- remember, I am the one who chooses books by their covers -- not a great idea but my style, for sure. 

This then brings us to the question of e-books, doesn't it?  Can't leave that new technology out of this conversation, can we?  I have an e-reader that I have a love/hate relationship with.  However, after the latest updates, our relationship seems to be mellowing out and we are working much better together.  The idea behind me wanting an e-reader is my inability to quit buying books.  We have run out of room in our house.    We have no more bookshelf space and no more wall space to put more bookshelves so something had to be done besides purging all the books.  I have begun purging some of the books and I have made the decision  that almost all new books will be bought for the e-reader and if I want to a hard copy to add to  the library here I will but I will no longer  enter a bookstore glazed-eyed, without direction, and run willy-nilly past the bargain bins to the new releases gathering up enough books to run a small lending library.

So, in my case, I guess there are no hard and fast rules as to my preferences.  It depends on the situation, the price and the importance.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For my teaser this week, I am using an excerpt from The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  When I finished A Piggly Wiggly Wedding last week I knew I wanted to read something less "light"  so I chose this book from my ever growing Nook library.  I have to say that so far, this book as been a page turner.

"There are times after she's taken exercise in the yard -- the mad yard, they call it -- when she appears to have some recognition.  But then she pleads for the baby, or for our sister Isabelle.  I feel I must be honest, yet she grieves so when I tell her they are both dead." This is taken from page 173.

Really good book.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window I am seeing the absence of the temporary sales office to our spanky, new co-op condo that they have been building behind my house.  The temporary office has been there for a year, looming over our fence and blocking our view.  I am glad it is gone.

I am thinking that there was something else I needed to do today but I don't have a clue what it is -- ah, the joys of the aging brain.

I am thankful for today and the fact that the aforementioned temporary building is gone.

From the learning rooms I am learning about cross stitch fabric.  I have been doing cross stitch for years and am still learning new things.  One new thing that I have learned is that I am not sure I like linen.  I am stitching without a  hoop and maybe it would be easier with a hoop -- guess I will learn about that later.

From  the kitchen I am figuring out that I am not great at just concocting dishes on my own -- the "thing" I made a couple of nights ago I liked but the Hubs didn't.  He did like the chili I made during our "blizzard", however. 

Chili! By my Mom's recipe!

I am wearing an old t-shirt from a quilt shop hop that I did a few years back -- I love this t-shirt even if it is dingy and waaaaaaay too big but it is comfy and reminds me of a great time the Hubs and I had together.  Oh, and I am also wearing gray athletic shorts -- yes, shorts but it is Texas and the weather has been gorgeous.

I am creating some handmade Christmas gifts.  I decided this year would be the year that I didn't get to December 1 and wish I had started earlier!

I am going on a small vacation soon.  The details are not set yet.

I am reading The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  It is a really good book that I am having trouble putting down.  I acquired my e-reader when I decided that something needed to be done about the copious number of books I buy since I was running out of space.  I decided that I would purchase e-books and if I really wanted to add something to my personal library I would purchase the hard copy -- preferably a hardback.  I think I will be adding this book to my shelves.

I am hoping that the weather  stays good and that I can stay on the roll I am on with my purging and organizing our excess "stuff".

I am hearing, on some news program, that not everybody needs to eat breakfast -- in some people it just piles on extra calories.  I never had a weight problem until I started eating breakfast as an example to my children and it seems that once I eat in the morning, I am hungry all day.  So, for me, this is good news!

Around the house things are getting more organized and "leaner" in regards to our "stuff".  The older I get, the more I dislike excess -- clothes, kitchen items, magazines, weight -- is that normal?

One of my favorite things is waking up early and taking my morning tea outside on the patio to drink it.  After a year of not being able to do that compliments of the offending building, I am looking forward to doing that again.

A few of the plans for the rest of the week include babysitting, sewing, crafting and reading.

Here is a picture thought for you

Love me some bright and perky Starbucks art!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Piggly Wiggly Wedding by Robert Dalby

I just completed "A Piggly Wiggly Wedding" by Robert Dalby.  I had used this book as a Tuesday Teaser a while back.  I used to read books like this when I was younger and enjoyed lighter reading and it has been a while since I had enjoyed something of this nature.  It took me longer to read it than it should have but I don't seem to stay with my reading like I used to. 

At any rate, it is  a light- hearted book about Gaylie Girl Lyons and Hale Dunbar Jr. -- a middle age+ couple who had been a couple as teenagers, had gone their separate ways, had separate lives and came together again after the death of Gaylie Girl's husband.   The book takes place in the little town of Second Creek, Mississippi.  It begins as Gaylie Girl arrives and takes up residence just prior to her wedding to Mayor Dunbar.  She is introduced to the Nitwitts -- the ladies group of the town and is embraced with open arms and becomes an active  member of the group.  Sound dull?  Think of "Golden Girls" doubled.  Gaylie Girl has a wonderful future ahead with a wonderful man, she is going to be the First Lady of Second Creek and she is going to be renovating a vintage home -- but her euphoria is squashed by her two children from her previous marriage who are not at all excited about the prospect of a step-father in a town called Second Creek.  After all, their mother had been the wife of a very wealthy, prominent businessman in Santa Fe -- how could she be happy and....what about their inheritance.  In the end it all works out but the children create the conflict in the story.  As in many "small town" books, the residents of the town make up the colorful characterization and I think my favorite was Whittsie.  You will have to read for yourself to see why.  It is so interesting to see how the residents of a small community work to bring culture and sophistication to their lives and these characters do just that in a big way.  There is nothing "hickish" about these folks, just charm all around.

I would recommend this book for light reading.  It is pleasant, the conflict is not all that conflicting and it is humorous.  The descriptions are such that you can completely see this little town and put faces to the residents -- we have all had neighbors, friends or relatives just like these people -- universal characters.  It was a bit superficial, could have been deeper in areas but overall, a good read.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Booking Through Thursday

It has been a while so I thought I should post another BTT today.  The question is which authors have we been following since they first started their career.  I guess I have two and that would be Brunonia Barry and Jennifer Chiaverinni.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays 8 February 2011

Since I am still reading the book that I teased you about the last two times, I am going to go to the new book I bought this evening and share a couple of lines from it.

"But months later, as I looked through Maira's photographs, one in particular -- of my sixteen-year-old daughter; Aki: adnd me -- actually changed my life.  In that instant, sandwiched between my blond daughter and gray haired Aki, I saw myself for what I truly was:  a forty-nine-year-old mother with a much too darkly shellacked helmet of hair.  I clearly was not some faintly with-it older pal of my daughter's, but neither did my hair make me look like a contemporary of Aki's.  It was like I was some spectral person floating in a non-man's-land, neither young nor old.  I felt as if I didn't know who I really was."

An excerpt from "Going Gray" by Anne Kreamer

Monday, February 07, 2011

For Today 7 February 2011

Outside my window I see blue skies, sunshine and just a tiny bit of ice in the shady part of the driveway.

I am thinking how quickly the beautiful day that was yesterday transformed into a cloudy, cold, rainy mess in the blink of an eye and know that it is going to do it again tomorrow. It makes me sad but I am trying to remember that it is winter, after all.

I am thankful for the fact that the powers that be decided it was too dangerous for people to be on the roads last week and schools and businesses were closed down to make it a safer place.  Not to mention that I enjoyed the entire week with hubby home!

From the learning rooms I am playing with my accuquilt cutter and enjoying cutting out quilt fabric.  I am going to try another "Disappearing Nine Patch".

From the kitchen I have discovered that we prefer bread made in the bread machine rather than store-bought which is a good thing because our store didn't have any bread yesterday after all the snow/ice and Super Bowl parties.

I am wearing -- uh, you don't really want to know.

I am creating some cross stitch ornaments for next year.

I am going to complete the project that I have started today even if it takes me all day -- which it might.

I am reading "A Piggly Wiggly Wedding" on my Nook which is named Tinklepaw.

I am hoping to get a number of things organized before the next winter event which is scheduled for Wednesday!  Hopefully I can read my way though the next storm!

I am hearing the aquarium behind me.  When we no longer have fish, we are taking it down and then I don't know what I will be hearing -- nothing probably!

Around the house I am in purging and organizing mode.  I am usually pretty good at this when the mood strikes and the mood has struck, thanks to my Dear Daughter who did the same thing last week and, honestly, I would rather be at her de-cluttered house right now than my own!

One of my favorite things is the feeling of accomplishment -- and a brushed kitty. That would be two things -- my bad.

A few plans for the rest of the week include a marathon dental appointment, watching the snow and probably babysitting the Bean.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing

Friday, February 04, 2011

Should We Revisit the Good Old Days?

The last several days have been a bit unusual and more than a bit stressful here in North Texas.  Ice, snow, bitter temps, and the Super Bowl have given us more than a small amount of grief.  One of the hardest things to deal with was rolling black outs, intentionally designed to take the stress off the utility system.  It worked and nobody really lost power for huge amounts of time but we were asked to try to conserve which required us turning things off, unplugging, putting things on hold, like laundry.

This made me think about what we used to do before technology took over our lives.  How did we accomplish things without electricity?  When I started making my mental list it was astounding how our use of electrical power has changed.

One of the first things that came to mind was hair styling.  Now we use blow dryers and curling irons or straightening appliances.  When I was young we used dryers occasionally and it became popular to have lovely hooded models that were portable and you could talk on the phone while you dried your hair.  However, many times we just rolled our hair on curlers and let it dry.  It took a really long time for the Dippity Do to dry, though, but I think our hair was healthier.  I might try it again -- wonder where I can find some Dippity -Do?

The way we wake up has changed a lot, too.  We used to use wind up alarm clocks that sometimes had glow in the dark hands so that you could see the time without turning on the light and they clanged like a fire bell with no snooze!  The only downside to these is that if you let them run down you had to call for the time to reset them.  They are guaranteed to wake up a stubborn teenager though -- ask my son!

Our morning java was prepared differently as well.  While many people used electric percolators, they were pretty new.  People still used percolators and tea kettles that they heated on their gas stoves -- again, no electricity.

Long before we were able to just slide a switch on our central heating, we heating our homes by turning on the natural gas jet to which a space heater like this one was hooked up to.  They were scary and probably not too safe but still, no electricity.

We swept our floors with brooms instead of vacuuming and we read books instead of Nooks and Kindles which have to be plugged in to use.  We now read our newspapers on a computer, again electrified, and we are entertained by more and more electronic equipment every day.  We used to hang our clothes on a clothesline to dry instead of using a dryer and we sat outside on a hot summer evening to try to cool off.  Things were a LOT different then -- we actually knew our neighbors.

 Would I want to go back to the "old days"?  No.  I. Love. Technology.  But, I have to say that reverting back to some of these things -- namely the broom and hand washing the dishes--for a while was actually relaxing and  felt good.  It made me think of my mother and a time when life was simpler and not so hectic and chaotic.   In fact, it made me feel so good that I might actually employ some of the old ways of doing things.  Hair curlers come to  mind but I am going to have to think long and hard about Dippity - Do.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

LOL!  Looks and thinks like G. Rollie!
My Favorite Blogs

Hmm...that sounds like an old 50's television show  like  I Married a Witch or  I Remember Mama.  However, blogging is thoroughly modern and goes a long way to making our world even smaller.  It seems that blogging has replaced the cute little pink vinyl diaries of the 50's and probably even the multi-subject notebooks of the school crowd and possibly even the moleskine journals of the traditional academics.  It is sad, on one hand,  that pen, paper, penmanship, and all that goes along with writing has been replaced by a computer but, on the other hand, using a computer, ipad, itouch, ereader, whatever, to blog allows us to write on the go, write what we see, capture the moment, seize the on and so forth.

I use the word "diary" synonymously with "blog" because that is what it is.  However,  when we think of a diary or a journal we think of something private  to be shared with only a select few, if anyone.  It is something to be hidden from parents, siblings, or anybody with prying eyes.  It is almost revered as it contains our most private thoughts put into words.  A blog differs in that it is public, for the most part and the ability to share photos opens up new worlds and new ideas.  Blogs allow knowledge to be imparted across the globe and friendships to be formed like pen pal lists of years gone by.  So,  while we mourn the lost art of letter writing, good penmanship, good spelling and the ability to find really nice stationery it is hard to not be taken in my the allure of all the lovely blogs available for us to read. 

I have been reading blogs for quite some time now and I have acquired quite a blog roll on my own blog.  I do have my favorites, however and I would like to share them here.

My Mark Designs  ( is written by Monique Keylon, a needlework designer.  Her blog links to her website and her Etsy store.  There are loads of needlework posts as well as life events and photos.  I am always cheered when I visit her blog.

Mary Kathryn has a fantastic blog at  She is also a needleworker and has a great online store called ehandcrafts.  You can link to the store from her site.  She includes lots of photos from the area she lives in and I have to say they are gorgeous -- nothing like reindeer strolling around a parking lot!

Amanda S over at Amandas Adventures in Sewing ( is a great little blog for home sewers.  She is young, interesting, takes great photos of her projects and shows us that home sewing is still a viable activity. Plus, she is from my home town, San Antonio, Texas!

The next few blogs take us away from the crafty side of things and more into the world of reading, thinking, ideas, religion and food -- tea to be exact.

Joysweb ( hosted by JLSHall is a blog full of all sorts of interesting things.  She is a book lover  and shares her favorites  with lively reviews.  She also shares photos of all sorts of things so when you visit her blog, you never know what sort of treat she has posted -- from her doll collection to interesting shadows to photos of her home, Alexandria, VA.  Her site links to several of her other blogs and to blogs that reflect her wide array of interests.

Another spot for thought provoking posts is  Michael reviews classical literature, shares his thoughts on the cyberworld, his travels and his career.  Even though many of his posts are way beyond me, I love to read them because he is just so darn smart!

Brandon's Notepad ( is a blog by a young man  who has a wide variety of interests.  He delves into the cyberworld, shares his journey of faith through his Roman Catholic beliefs and, one recent post, he reviews various teas.  This young man doesn't blog enough for he has a lot to say.

Last but not least is a new offering that promises to be very enlightening .  Lone Star Prep ( is a new blog that reveals and reviews the preppy side of Texas.  I think this blog has huge potential as  it opens up the side of Texas that defies the stereotype.  The young woman hostessing the blog is off to a great start with a link to a shopping site that takes the reader across the state to visit a number of unique venues. I think that Lone Star Prep will give the world a glimpse of the depth of Texas -- it isn't all spurs and tumbleweeds!

So, that is my list of my favorite blogs.  I hope that you will enjoy a few of them as well and will share the links with your friends, too.  And with that, I am going to go enjoy of the wonder of the sun shining through snow flurries and be thankful that I don't have to go out in the 50 mph winds.

I have been pretty busy over the last several days.  I can't exactly say doing what but I haven't been reading too much -- except for some magazines.  So, I am still reading what I was reading last week but I will include a teaser anyway.

This is from "A Piggly Wiggly Wedding" by Robert Dalby.

"It was ten past five at the Victorian Tea Room.  Vester Morrow was in the midst of overseeing the exclusive cocktail party he and the Nitwitts had planned as the first step in the evening's progressive dinner for Petey and Amanda.  Only customers held in such inestimable esteem by the veteran restaurateur could have convinced him to close down his pride and joy or an hour or so on a Saturday night -- prime time in Second Creek."