Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

I just finished the second book for my 2013 Reading Challenge hosted by Good Reads.  The book is "Birmingham Rose" by Annie Murray, a British author new to me.  First off, let me say that this book would make a wonderful movie!

This novel, for me, was a page turner.  It began in 1931 in Birmingham, England and revolves around the Lucas family.  They were a poor family living in a poor area and sharing all the problems of a family in those conditions.  The main character is Rose -- the eldest daughter  of the Lucas family who dreams of "getting out" and strives to do just that.  In the process she endures a personal attack, an unwanted pregnancy that  ends tragically, the loss of her mother, the remains of her family pretty much falling apart.  After the start of World War II, she joins the British military and ends up in Italy where she falls in love with a person that was destined to be linked to something else -- the Catholic Church.  After the war, Rose returns to Birmingham, has a less than wonderful marriage, a child and a dream.

Yes, the dream comes true in the end but I have given you enough information.  I am not sure if the book is available in the US as I borrowed it from a British friend.  It is a definite recommend, however.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finally--A Finish

I finally finished "The Bobbsey Twins" for my first book in the 2013 Pre-1960 Classic Childrens Book Reading Challenge (  The book is 65 pages in length and published in 1902.  The books depicts daily events of the Bobbsey family over the course of a year.  The language is a bit stilted and formal but, aside from that, the childrens adventures were no different than those of children at any time.  It was interesting to see what life was generally like the year my grandmother was born.  I have to say that it seems like the children in the book werent quite as protected as the children of today.  A definite recommend.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Musing Mondays  21 January 2013

Musing Mondays is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading.  Each week you are asked to answer one of three questions.  This week I will be writing about what I am reading and my opinions of it.  It will be a long post as I am currently reading three things at once -- a virtually unheard of thing for me.  So, here goes.

Annie Murray is a British author that is new to me.  My daughter's mother in law brought this book with her during a recent visit and left it behind for me to enjoy.  As is a usual occurrence when I try to read more than one book at a time, one takes over and the others sit around waiting for me.  Well, this is the one that has grabbed my attention at the moment.  It is a story about Rose, a little girl growing up in an unsavory area of Birmingham, England.  It depicts her living conditions in a very graphic manner, sometimes a little too graphic for me.  Her story progresses as she gets her first job which she is thrilled about so that she can help her family, her attack by her boss and the subsequent tragedy resulting from that and, her new life in the British army during World War II.  That is where I am now, about half way through the book and,  at this point, it seems that her tragic life is somewhat behind her and things are looking up a bit despite it being in the middle of the war with the very soul being bombed out of Britain.  I have left off where she has left boot camp and is being transferred to another base.  I am pretty sure her misery is not behind her but maybe it won't be as bad as what she left behind.  I will let you know.

The next book I am reading is the first Bobbsey Twins book by Laura Lee Hope.  I downloaded it to my Nook -- I would love to have the lovely first edition pictured above and I even  went to my local antique mall to look for it -- they have a huge children's section -- but couldn't find it.  I am reading this in participation of the children's book challenge I have joined -- each book has to be at least 60 pages and this one is 65 and for the life of me I can't get through it.  Shouldn't 65 pages only take about an hour or so?  Not in my world, I guess.  Anyway, I am enjoying the book and honestly, except for a bit of word usage, you wouldn't readily realize that his book was written in 1902, the year of my grandmother's birth -- it seems much more contemporary than that which contributes to the enjoyment of reading it.  I have to say that the dialogue of Dinah, the family cook, is  stereotypical and definitely NOT politically correct and is, actually, a bit difficult to understand. I don't find it particularly offensive, just typical of the time and when I read it I see Hattie McDaniel who was always one of my favorite actresses.  I am enjoying the book as it takes me through the daily life of the Bobbsey family.  Being interested in family history and knowing when the book was written, I like to think about my grandmother as I am reading it and learning about life during what was her childhood.  By the way, this isn't my first Bobbsey Twin book as these books were a staple on my bookshelf -- my mother bought many of them and I inherited a few from JLSHall (did you know that?).  The ones in my personal library tell a bit about MY childhood as well as JLSHall and I would play "library" and we make checkout card packets and stapled them into the books and they are still there.  Really?  How many kids today play library?  Well, we did only have three tv channels at the time.

The third book I am reading is "And Furthermore" by Judi Dench about Judi Dench.  I am a huge fan of this actress and I have loved reading about her career and her life.  However, most of all, I like looking at the photos and there are many.  This is one of those books I can pick up and read a bit and put it down -- not like  a novel where you have to keep going -- it is much more relaxed.  I have been interested in reading some biographies lately and this is my first.  My next will be about Coco Chanel.  You would think with my interest in these very stylish ladies I would have more style! Hmmm.  I need to think about that.

Anyway, that is what is on my reading table and Nook this week.  Hopefully by next week the list will have changed.  I am a slow reader but this is ridiculous.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Do I Do Of A Morning?

Do you ever wonder about other's days?  How they begin, I mean.  I am certain we all do  pretty much the same thing -- go to work, take care of kids, grocery shop, yard work, etc., but the morning time holds a special sort of personal private time.

My mornings used to begin with a lot of activity -- out of bed, grab a cuppa, haul kids to school, haul laundry to the washer, haul groceries into the house -- my younger years involved a good deal of hauling, it seems.  Now, not so much.

I begin my days very early these days.  I am generally out of bed by 5:30 a.m. even though I could squeeze in an extra fifteen minutes of snoozing and still get to my appointed destination on time.  However, I have learned that it isn't a good idea to drive while still dozy.  It is much better to give myself the extra time to completely wake up.  How do I do this?

I dress immediately out of bed.  I have very short hair so a quick run of the fingers through it generally does the trick.  I often forego the makeup -- just a bit of moisturizer if I feel much like a mummy emerging from the crypt.  Into the kitchen I go -- the kettle is on, the computer is booting up and I am settling on whatever I am going to eat.  Most times it is cereal but lately I have been having a love affair with frozen waffles.  Yep, the kind in the yellow box, probably chock full of no-no's but at 5:30 a.m. they seem very much like a yes-yes to me.

Then I sit and delve into my guilty pleasure -- blog reading.  I love, absolutely love, reading blogs.  However, it does produce a good amount of blog envy because I don't have particularly clever posts, I don't live in a particularly photogenic place, I don't have over the top adorable pets -- you see where I am going here.  My posts pale in comparison to the ones I read.  I tried very hard to participate in Jane's  weekly post of photos of our changing gardens but after the first several months I realized that mine doesn't change.  Ever.  I used to  have lovely little bunnies that visited every evening and then they tore down the vacant lot behind me and built a condo so no more little bunnies.  Now, all there is to see in my garden is the same ol', same ol' and, if you venture into the side yard -- a good deal of dead grass.  I guess I should say dormant  grass -- hopefully it is just sleeping and not dead.

So, I sit for about a half hour in the morning and just indulge in blog reading.  I read the blog lists of MY blog list.  There are some very clever writers out there and some very talented photographers, as well. The book reviews I read are always enlightening.   I get inspiration for needle crafts and quilts from these blogs.  This morning I was teased with the idea of making holiday greeting cards for next year.

However, now it is time for me to get busy on some projects of my own.  Photos to follow,  hopefully.  Maybe one day my little blog will grow up to be an interesting blog as well. I think, in order for that to happen, it is going to have to become independent of ME!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hair -- Again

Ah, yes, the ever present quest for the perfect haircut.  I have had short hair since I was 15 years old.  I won't go into  how long that has been -- it isn't important.  However, when I initially cut my hair at 15, I cut it from shoulder length, lank, unhealthy,  abused, teenage hair.  I loved the short hair and only grew it out once, when I was expecting my son.  Those prenatal vitamins are powerful things!  For the majority of the time since the 15 year old haircut, I have cut my own hair.  Sometimes it was good, sometimes not so much -- not a lot different than salon cuts.  However, I got tired of having to clean up the mess in the bathroom and decided to find a salon and have been going ever since.  That was about 10 years ago.  I have been through a lot of styles in that 10 years and have sort of settled on a pixie.


It looks great for the first week.  By the second week it is getting a bit raggedy.  By week three it is out of control and by week four it doesn't even resemble the original cut.  I really need it cut again after week 2.  At $50 a pop that really seems like an overkill.

So, I am sitting here listening to the media reports on the flu and wondering if I could go back and cut my hair myself again.  Since we are in the middle of a flu epidemic I am not crazy about going to the beauty shop as I have to go on a Saturday and it is usually very crowded.

I am also trying to figure out if I could cut it myself so it doesn't grow out so wonky.  As I am running my fingers through my hair I am realizing that one side is really longer than the other.  Maybe I should grow it out long and pin it up?

How about that news story this morning about the woman who gave up makeup for a year.  She went to a barbershop for a haircut.

I don't know but the idea of $100 a month to get my haircut like a guy isn't making me feel too  good or too smart.  Must be another way.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Keep Austin Texas Weird

Ok, the popular slogan of our capital city should actually read "Keep Texas Weird" -- I mean this is the nicest sort of way, in regard to the weather.

Over Christmas we had all manner of weather changes from spring-like temps to snow -- some of it in a matter of hours. This week has been equally strange.  Early in the week we had monsoon like rain.  We have been assured we needed it and we did need it but it sort of came from nowhere and made the usual disaster out of the traffic.  Yesterday it was like early summer and today it is dense fog, cold temps and the possibility of rain, possibly "wintery mix".  Trust me, there is  no idea of packing up seasonal clothes around here -- it can change seasons in a matter of minutes.

I don't even need to mention the pollen count.  I am walking proof that the pollen is alive and well and thrives in all sorts of weather conditions.

As for my day, it will involve laundry, working on my family tree and my least favorite activity -- grocery shopping.  Yay.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Well, hello Wednesday --

It has been a rainy day.  I am tired and I almost didn't realize it was Wednesday!  But, it is so it is time for another offering from Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Each Wednesday it is time to answer three questions so here I go --

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading "And Furthermore" -- Judi Dench, "Birmingham Rose" --Annie Murray, and "The Bobbsey Twins" by Laura Lee Hope.

What did you recently finish reading?

I think it was "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters but, you know what, I don't remember -- the holidays have happened since then!

What do you think you will read next?

Not sure -- I might be up for another in the Aunt Dimity series -- I am half way through the series and haven't read one in a while so I am thinking that might be good.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Each Monday you have the opportunity to choose one of three questions to answer.

I usually answer the question about what I am reading and how I feel  about it and so forth.  However, today I am going to answer a different question because it is so timely being right after Christmas and all.

The question I will be answering is "tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else and why you chose that/those book(s).

I am a great gifter of books.  I usually try to fulfill others requests but sometimes I go out on a limb and just surprise a person with something I particularly enjoyed.  This Christmas was a big book year for me.

My son received two books about Bishop Sheen.  My son is a devout Catholic and genuinely enjoys reading religious writings.  These are the books I bought for him.

My daughter in law received the following.  She didn't request them but  I had  read"The Forgotten Garden" and really enjoyed it so I coupled it with a title that I intend to read and hope she enjoys them.

My daughter requested this--

My son-in-law asked for a couple of tutorials on digital photography and photoshop but I can't remember the titles.

Grandson Nathan got four little beginner readers -- one being the classic "Frog and Toad are Friends".  Granddaughter Kathryn received "Angelina Ballerina" and Granddaughter Bean received Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks  and Things that Go" because she enjoys finding Goldbug.

I have recently purchased a copy of "The Bobbsey Twins" for my Nook.  I am reading it for the children's book challenge I am a part of.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Come Along With Me To My Little Corner of the World

My world in chaos -- front view
More chaos from behind

Little World Being Reinvented

Lovely coaster made by my daughter

My Grace Internet Radio over which I listen to many interesting things -- mostly "The Archers".  It has a lovely headphone jack so I can listen during the never ending football games

Coaster with a lovely cuppa

Headphones which allow me to listen to Hulu, the radio, all manner of things and not disturb

My link to the outside world of books

My top -- a gift from my husband who makes them -- it makes me smile and keeps me from getting bored

A needle case made for me by my husband -- he is very talented 

My organized needlework drawer -- handy for keeping sewing things closeby

Sewing stuff all hidden away

So, this is where you will find me a lot of the time.  Welcome to my little corner of the world!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

Does anybody remember that show of a couple of seasons ago?  It was a product of Ancestry, the genealogy website and featured celebrities researching their family history.  I really enjoyed the show because I have done genealogy for years and years and visit the Ancestry website on a regular basis.

I was intrigued a while back when I learned of the Ancestry DNA program.  I was quite interested in learning more about my father's side of the family -- there are some mysteries there -- but I was not able to participate in any of the DNA programs available since I was not male.  In fact, there was only one male left in the family that could be tested and he didn't seem to be interested.  Unfortunately, before I could press him, he died unexpectedly a year ago.  So, when the Ancestry program came about I was excited because it is an autosomal test which would show both sides of a females DNA -- it just can't tell you what ethnicity comes from which side.  I ordered the test, provided the sample and sent it off.

About three weeks later I got the results.  I was simultaneously overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I was overwhelmed because I thought it was so cool to have actually participated in such a program.  I was underwhelmed, not because of what it showed me, but by what it didn't show me.  I know I have some American Indian ancestry and it didn't show up at all, even in the "uncertain" category.  I was most interested in finding out if my father's father was actually from Irish Jewish heritage, which we suspect, yet, nothing "Jewish" showed up at all.  I understand the test is shallow but wide which may show a lot of heritage but maybe not so far back so possibly what I am looking for was too far back for it to show up.  They say the results can change as more people participate -- I am not sure how that would affect my personal DNA, I guess I need to do more research as to what the results mean and how they are compiled.

 At any rate it was an interesting thing to do but I have to say that I am a bit put off by the fact that I paid $129 to take the test and they are having a New Year's special and the test is now $99 for a limited time.  Figures.

So, here are the sought after results -- no surprises.  Maybe that is a good thing.

British Isles -- 86%
Central European -- 6%
Scandinavian  -- 8%

I tried to post the actual page -- it is pretty -- but it wouldn't work so you are just going to have to take my word for it!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Let it Snow -- NOT!

I am pleased to say that it is not snowing this morning.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me since I have a lengthy commute this a.m. over many bridges and over passes.  It is well above freezing is Friday.

Looking forward to the Cotton Bowl tonight.  We are an Aggie family so this is  a big deal to us -- more to some of us than others -- I will probably be asleep half way through! It should be an exciting game, however, so I will do my best to see it through.

I am currently reading three books which is huge for me.  I don't usually read more than one at a time because I usually get involved in one and sort of abandon the rest.  However, this time, they are three different genres so it is easier.  I am reading the Judi Dench autobiography And Furthermore,  the children's book The Bobbsey Twins, and a novel that I borrowed from my daughter's mother in law -- Birmingham Rose by Annie Murray, a contemporary British author.  It is this Murray novel that is monopolizing my attention right now but I am doing a fair job of splitting my reading time between the three.

Ok, time to pack lunch and head out.  Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

3 Jan 2013

It is a cold and dark morning here in North Texas.  It is early yet I am up, dressed, fed and gathering my things.  Today my DD goes back to work from her Christmas holiday and I go back to babysitting the Bean.  Neither of them are going to be happy.  My DD misses being a stay at home mom and Bean misses her mommy.  I wish I could do something to make things different but all I can do is help by providing child care.  Everyday I go there I am thankful that I was able to stay home with my children but times were different then, weren't they?

I am hoping the cedar fever attack I have been fighting is winding down although I won't be right until March. From January to March I wish I lived someplace besides Texas.  Any place but Texas.  The mountain cedar is an evil weed which is not useful for anything and we should try to do something about it but nobody even tries.  I am so "lucky" that the builders of the condo behind us paid so close attention to our request that they not plant cedar as we are all quite allergic to it -- they only planted about 150 of the wretched things around the property and lined my back fence with them.  That alone would make me leave my beloved house and search for something a little more cedar free.

I really have nothing for an interesting post.  I look forward to my day with the Bean but I know she isn't going to be happy.  I am glad it is a short week.  She is such a clever little thing.  The other day DD told her that she "loved her to pieces" and Bean looked at her, frowned and said "don't take me apart -- I not a puzzle".  She has a vivid imagination and has started relating her dreams.  They are pretty elaborate but not scary.  She plays so well and has such a long attention span that taking care of her just requires tending to her needs.  She spends a lot of time "reading" her books -- another reading addict in the making.

Well, time to run.  I will check back later.  Have a wonderful day, all!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I Give Up

Ok, the voices in my head can quit shouting at me now!  I give up! I give in!  I have joined the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  I know I said I wouldn't but I have.  I suppose it was meant to be.  I had pretty good luck with the same challenge in 2012 and, even though I didn't meet my goal, I came very close so, this year, I lowered my goal to 20 books.  I am sure that is quite do-able since reading and cross stitching are  about the only things I do anymore! However, between this, the classic children's challenge and babysitting,  I think that is all that I can handle.

I have to say that my decision to join was made  this morning when I was reading JLSHall's blog, A Little Reading.  It seems that she has signed up for twelve -- 12 -- 1-2 -- challenges.  Needless to say I felt quite the underachiever so I decided to forge ahead and sign up for one more.

For those who don't know, JLSHall and I are cousins.  I like to refer to us as sistercousins because were raised more as sisters than cousins and  our  relationship dynamic has always been more sisterly than cousinly.  She is a couple of years older which means she got to experience "life" first.  I found myself following in her footsteps.  Whatever she did, I had to do and my mother used her as sort of a parameter of what I could/could not do.  I was sort of like a puppy following her around and I am sure that became very annoying.  Over the years, however, our differences emerged and we became our own women -- each having strengths and weaknesses that  the other doesn't have.  However, we are more alike than different and I still look to her as a role model and I still follow in her footsteps although not quite so "in her face" as I used to.  That would explain my foray into the book challenges for this year.  Not as committed as she is but, as it has been all my life, if Joy is doing it then it must be a  good thing and I shall do it as well.

So, that coupled with  my opinion that one of the best things that a person can do in life is learn to read and do it was gusto, I will persevere.  I believe that reading is the most basic, most important skill a person can learn because if you can read, you have the world in your hands.  I thank JLSHall for all those reading lessons while playing "school" and for introducing me to the books that I hold dear now (Star Girl will be one of my choices) and, for that matter, writing such compelling reviews now that I go to when looking for new reading material.

With that, off I go, to Lakeport to join the Bobbsey Twins and back to Old Vic with my new BFF Judi!

The Bobbsey Twins

I have decided on my first book for the classic children's books challenge that I signed up for after saying I wouldn't.  I have decided to read the first book in The Bobbsey Twin series which was originally published in 1904.  I won't go through the whole series because there are 72 books and a number of them were originally published after the required date cut-off of 1960.  However, the last Bobbsey Twin book that I ever bought was The Bobbsey Twins Go To London Tower and it was published in 1959 so I will probably re-read it.  I remember when it was purchased.  My mother was Christmas shopping -- for me, I might add-- at Toudouze Market in San Antonio and I found the book and wanted it.  She asked if I wanted it for Christmas or right then  and I remember looking at her as if she were speaking in a foreign tongue -- I wanted it right then and I wanted to read it right then, in the store.  In fact, I had the thing half read before we ever got home from that shopping excursion.  I was a voracious reader at age 9.  I remember enjoying all the Bobbsey Twin books that I read and, so far, I am enjoying this one.

I will return with a review after I am done.  I doubt many of my bloggy friends will be too interested in my reading children's  books but I am such a sucker for them that I really couldn't pass up the challenge.  I read many children's books, on a daily basis, to Bean -- Granddaughter the Second.  None of them fill the challenge requirement because they are too short (must be at least 60 pages) but I do have my favorites and maybe I will start doing reviews on those!

At any rate, this is my first choice.  I have loaded it on my Nook and have already begun to read. If I really like it, I will probably head to my local antique mall and try to find a copy -- they have a huge children's book section so it isn't out of the realm of possibility.   What a contrast -- Judi Dench and The Bobbsey Twins!  Nobody can accuse me of not being diverse.

More later as I progress with this challenge.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

What a Way to Start a New Year

Yep, I lied.  I said no more reading challenges yet, as I was reading JLSHall's blog, I learned of the Pre-1960 Classic Children's Books Reading Challenge and I was, well, challenged.  I love children's books, especially the children's books of my childhood.  I have quite a few to choose from and I have no idea where I will start -- more on that later.

So, if anybody would like to join Joy and me as we embark on this challenge, you can find the rules here.  So now I have to decide -- Bobbsey Twins?  Nancy Drew?  Honey Bunch?  Blue Willow or Strawberry Girl?  So many choices and a bit disturbing that I have so many in my personal library! I guess I am a child at heart so I should enjoy this challenge.

Join me?
Happy New Year!

I didn't stay up last night to ring in the new year.  I tried to go to bed early but I got involved in watching the latest episode of "Sister Wives" which I had DVR'd.  I am not sure why I watch that program from time to time but right now I am interested in the houses they are building and completely in awe of how the husband affords to keep four families -- and drive really nice cars! At any rate, I hit the sack about 11:30, fell asleep, and woke up about fifteen minutes later itching.  I have a dry skin issue in the summer and the winter and it really drives me crazy sometimes.  I know, TMI, but while awake, I heard one, lonely little firecracker.  I didn't look outside to see if I could see more.  I just went back to bed hoping I could get back to sleep.  I did and the rest of the night was uneventful.

I hope the first day of the new year is going to be nice as the last several have not been.  Over the last two weeks we have seen unseasonably warm temps, cold temps, rain, sleet, snow, wind, hail and very little sun.  I realize this is Texas and we are well known for our variable weather but this is sort of ridiculous.  We have needed the rain badly so it was welcomed especially with everybody off work but now we need a little normalcy.  The thing that was so good about yesterday, however, was that with the rain, the cedar pollen was grounded and almost not on the chart at all!!! What a nice reprieve.  However, it is back up into the med-high range and I have to go grocery shopping.  Bummer.

The book that I am starting out the year with is one I got as a Christmas gift from Hubs.

I have always, always been a big fan of Judi Dench and have enjoyed seeing her on tv and in movies and have always found her to be such a class act.  If you want to analyze her, it isn't hard to see that she doesn't fit the mold of a typical American actress or celebrity ( I don't think we have many great actresses here anymore -- Meryl Streep is our greatest right now, I think).  She isn't tall, she isn't exotic and she isn't outrageous  I recently watched a you tube video of Dench on a comedy show being "interviewed" by the comedic host -- I am not familiar with who it was as he was British and it was in the 60's and we didn't have much access to British media back then.  She was very Mia Farrow-ish at the time -- small, blond with her signature pixie hair cut and dressed very well -- gorgeous and modest dress.  It was clear she was a stage actress rather than a film actress and she was very on top of her  game.  Her confidence, her comedic timing and her appearance was just so refreshing.  She exudes a sense of confidence and, at the same time, a vulnerability that makes her seem to real to me -- and probably approachable.  I like her enough to have copied her hairstyle!  I am about a quarter of the way through the book and I am totally enjoying the stories she is relating about her time at Old Vic and all the antics of her peers.  It takes me back to a time that is very dear to my heart -- my childhood and teenagehood and it is so interesting to see that time from another point of view much different than my own.

My New Years Day is going to be spent getting back in the groove.  It has been a very relaxing Christmas vacation, despite being sick.  I need to catch up on laundry, grocery shop, finally cook dinner again and try to get back to my usual routine.  The one thing we are going to have to do today is try to deal with our new issue -- ants.  We have ants all over the house and we don't know why.  I guess I will spend some time today trying to figure out a natural solution to the problem -- I have been bitten so many times now and I am a little tired of it.  So, New Year, new challenge -- who knew it would be such an annoying one!

So, with that said, I am off to get back to normal.  Have a wonderful day!