Saturday, January 30, 2016

Soji

Soji – A brief period of mindful work; temple cleaning


I am not a Buddist.  However, I am housework challenged.  There was an article on Facebook yesterday discussing the practice of Soji -- a brief period of mindful work.  

Apparently after morning prayers, Buddists have Soji -- a period of approximately 20 minutes which is spent in mindful work.  Quietly.  No talking.  Each day each monk is assigned a task to be worked on for that period of time without the anticipation of completion, the goal is just doing the task rather than completing the task.

The article was giving tips on how to apply this practice to housework.  No, you don't have to become a Buddist.  However, what the article proposed is that you take a task that is distasteful to you or problematic for you and spend 20 minutes tackling it and then, at the end of the 20 minutes you walk away.  It never said when you should walk back to finish said task.

I have to be honest, my kitchen is an issue with me.  It is never truly clean like I would like it.  Why?  Am I lazy?  Well, yes, but that isn't the main issue.  In part it is because there is activity in my kitchen All. The. Time.  Hubs is retired.  Hubs likes to make coffee every couple of hours.  Hubs grinds his own beans.  Hubs is oblivious to the fact that coffee grounds go everywhere.  Hubs likes snacks.  Hubs could change his mailing address to that of our pantry.  I cook.  I use a crock pot which means, in mid morning, I might be prepping something for the slow cooker and two hours later I might be making bread.  Our kitchen is an active place and we have an open floor plan so it is, well, open in the middle of everything.  If I stopped to clean up all the time I would never get out of the kitchen.  Hence, the problem.

So, this morning I decided to try the 20 minute thing.  Amazingly I got the dishwasher emptied and reloaded.  I got most of the pots and pans washed, dried and put away and the dish drainer emptied.  Another article I read a day or two ago suggested that you start your morning with an empty dishwasher, an empty sink filled with warm water and an empty dish drainer.  When prepping a meal wash and clean as you go.  Makes perfect sense.  

I know, if I would spend as much time cleaning the kitchen as I do reading about cleaning the kitchen I would never have a messy kitchen.  That logic is not lost on me.  I need to mend my evil ways.  Maybe 20 minutes at a time.

And, some thoughts on Marie Kondo's method of tidying up.  I am not sure my jeans are happy folded in their drawer.  Yesterday I was looking for a pair of slacks and couldn't find them anywhere so I looked in the jean drawer and there they were.  They had slipped from their folded slot under the jeans and in the process of digging them out all the jeans came unfolded and flew out of the drawer.  Now the whole drawer needs to be tidied.  I am thinking my jeans would be happier on hangers.  

Oh, and did you know that Samsung washers can blow up?  If they do Samsung will reimburse your money and pay for any repairs to your damaged house.  Good to know.

Have a happy Saturday -- I need to go tidy the jeans.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Home to Harmony by Philip Gulley



When I finish a book I usually pick another right up -- I always need something to read, it seems.  I just finished "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Jan Karon and I was shopping my own bookshelves for something to read.  Trust me, I could have a mini - branch of B&N I have so many unread books.

As I was looking through my own books I began to bag up some that I had either read and just didn't want anymore or that I just knew I would never read.  I picked up "Home to Harmony" by Philip Gulley and stood there weighing the decision -- sell or keep and read.  It is a very short book -- 237 pages -- so I thought I would give it a go.  One review said "In a League with Jan Karon's Mitford series...Gulley's work is comparable to Gail Godwin's fiction, Garrison Keillor's storytelling and Christopher Guest's filmmaking.

I have to agree with the review -- to me it was a mix of Karon's Mitford series with a little more humor and Garrison Keillor's stories.  However, with that said, I went into it more or less comparing it to those two authors which wasn't fair.  Early on I decided I wasn't enjoying it.  But I read on.  An on.  And, before you know it, I liked it.

What is not to like about a small Quaker community in a small North Carolina town?  It was hysterical.  I can't pick out one part, it was all just funny with great characters.  I have to say that some of Pastor Sam Gardner's musings were the same as some of my musings at times.  It was a very comfy book to read.

And, as usual, I hated to see it end.

So, I did a little research on the book and what do you know -- it is a series! Right up my alley.  I will probably read more of them -- I think there are five.  However, I will probably be reading them as e-books as I am really trying to get the library under control -- really.

I would recommend this book.

Throwback Thursday

Social media has a little activity called Throwback Thursday where people post old photos.  I decided to bring this to my blog today.  So, here you go.



Meet my great-great grandmother, Dorietta Bierschwale Giles.  She was born 24 February 1849 in Hanover, Germany.  She married my great-great grandfather John Isom Giles 23 February 1869 in Kendall County, Texas.  Together they had 11 children.  She passed away 6 June 1919 in San Antonio, Texas at age 70 and is buried in the family cemetery in Harper, Texas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Some of My Favorite Places



My plan to "tidy" and "declutter" has sort of gone awry. Sort of like this--

It all sort of goes along with my natural tendency to "clean when I see it".  Well, yesterday I saw this --


What a disaster

 So  set about doing a major tidying up -- such a mild, civilized way to put it.

This is where I store my laundry and cleaner making supplies as well as my emergency lighting
The battery drawer -- relocated to a more logical place than a drawer in the living room where they had been

And this is what it looks like this morning -- now, I can't get rid of all the trappings of a laundry room but it is a major improvement, don't you think?
 Now possibly the laundry room can be one of my favorite places to go -- maybe.

Some of my other favorite places to go are hardware stores.  We are regulars at Lowes, Home Depot, Westlake Ace and Jabo Ace.  They all have something different to offer and a lady can have a jolly good time shopping at these places as well as the husbands.  When I go to a hardware store I am either shopping for kitchen-y things or yard things or I am walking laps around the perimeter of the store to up my step count for the day.  My knees and feet hurt too much if I have to stand still too long waiting for Hubs to look at every little bit of whatever it is he looks at so I walk.

At our last trip to Lowe's I decided to try this --






I have a Reveal mop that works sort of like this but it has an attached reservoir that allows you to use any cleaner you want in it.  I really like it but it tends to be heavy and my shoulders seem to hurt these days so I thought this would be a good alternative.  The dust mop is good but the mop is so easy and the spray doesn't leave your floors sticky like the Swiffer stuff does.  I am finding this to be so easy, it is non-toxic and probably more expensive that I would like but my shoulder is worth it.  Now if my elbow would quit hurting I would be just dandy.




At our last visit to Westlake Ace I was looking for this --





I had run out and haven't been able to find it at any of the usual places but I found it at Westlake Ace.  As I was browsing the home keeping area I found these -- I scooped them up as they are quite sturdy and my silicone mixing spoons are turning a very strange color and I am growing suspicious of their safety. So, I brought these home.


New wooden spoons
And then there was this little diversion to my day.  Awhile back I had purchased a little needlepoint kit for Bean similar to this--

She seems quite interested in needlework and Sunday when she was here she asked if I would teach her to cross stitch.  Hmmmm......well, I told her I couldn't because I needed to get some special fabric for her.  It was the truth, I don't have any 14 ct. aida in my stash and I think anything smaller would be too hard for her.  I have heard of youngsters learning things like this to use large, even weave dish clothes and burlap and things of that nature to learn but I decided to just do this -- I had two good coupons at Joann's so I took a break from the laundry room to run across the street and pick up these things --


I thought this would make a perfectly adequate sewing box


And sewing stuff

She has some aida and floss, a little pair of scissors, REAL needles with REAL rules, a child's apron with an iron on to learn to embroidery, some muslin and buttons to learn how to sew on a button.  I think that should keep me busy for a while, don't you?

So, yesterday was a busy day and today I am looking forward to going to the used bookstore around the corner to sell some books and pick up the next Elm Creek Quilts title in my queue.  I love buying books used -- they are almost like new for the most part -- especially the hardbacks -- and it just feels like such a deal. 

Oh, yes, my lesson learned for this week -- don't ever buy whole chickens again no matter how great a price they are going for.  I took a whole chicken out of the freezer on Saturday morning to cook on Sunday.  Sunday it was frozen solid so I had to go to the store to buy more chicken.  Yesterday I checked, still frozen so I just left it in the fridge.  This morning, determined to cook that chicken I took it out of the fridge, unwrapped it and by golly, that thing is still frozen! However, I didn't care -- I sliced up an onion and put it on the bottom of the crock pot and that little chicken is now sitting proud on her onion throne and I may have to cook her until tomorrow but for certain we are going to eat this chicken and I will never buy a whole one again!



Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Cannot Tell a Lie

I didn't make it to Mass today.  There was no particular reason.  We were planning to go to early service which now, in our old age, is seeming to be too early.  We could have gone last night but last night we had full intention of getting up and going early.  Sigh.  At any rate, we didn't.

However, I distinctly heard a rather stern voice in my head saying "Well, if you aren't going to get yourself to church you better get yourself off your sassy ___ and get something good accomplished. 

So, I did.  I finished a load of laundry.  I did another two.  I cleaned both bathrooms and mopped them.  I changed our bed linen.  I dusted some of the furniture.  I vacuumed the floor in the living room.  I baked bread.  I cooked dinner.  I went to Target and to the grocery store.  I didn't buy more than I needed and only what I went for. 

Then I sat down and every bit of energy just drained right out of me.  I have done something terrible to my elbow -- I think it is the elbow equivalent of housemaids knee -- and suddenly I was just spent.  The momentum was broken.

My daughter and son in law came by to drop off GS cookies so we visited for a while and had some coffee and, what else, GS cookies! I got my second wind.  I have now cleaned up a lot of the kitchen, folded laundry and am settling back to watch tonight's episode of "Downton Abbey". 

I hope I did enough to atone for missing Mass because I am surely tired now.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Well, You Can't Say I Didn't Try

I have been doing very well with my new "non-meal planning" approach to our dinners.  It has been very relaxing and unhurried. I bought enough ingredients at my last grocery shopping to allow me some flexibility.  The meals have been simple and I have somehow been able to get past making enough food for a small army and just have dinner for two.

The crockpot is slowly becoming my friend.  One of my favorite things to make in it is taco meat.  I have decided that I need to adjust my seasonings though because cooking it as long as I do, the spices become a little more intense than I think we need especially if we intend to use salsa.
 Speaking of salsa, we recently found this at our neighborhood Sprouts and definitely recommend it.








 Last night we had spaghetti with caeser salad and garlic bread.  I had enough spaghetti and sauce left to make two small portions for lunch today.  I surprised myself when I actually thought ahead to do that. Thinking ahead is not my strong suit, especially where food is concerned.
 
Tonight was supposed to be pizza night and it was but not without drama.  Hubs is the one who is the pizzameister.  He is quite good at it but he is quite busy today with a Sunday School project.  So, I decided to take on the task.  Since Hubs couldn't tell me what his dough recipe is I looked up one on Pinterest.  It went together well although I thought it was awfully sticky.  However, this is what it looked like for the second rise.





 I chopped up our favorite vegetables for pizza -- basil, black olives and mushrooms -- and there was pepperoni, too.




 I opened the Pomi tomatoes only to discover that I bought the wrong thing -- I needed peeled tomatoes, not strained tomatoes.  Oh well, I will just have to improvise, I thought. And I did.


 Then I pulled out the peel, sprinkled the cornmeal on it  and set about patting out the dough.  I decorated it with the vegetables and cheese and it looked like a work of art! And then, it happened.  Yes, the drama.

The pizza stone had been heating and was just waiting for the sizzle of that dough and .....I couldn't get it off the peel.  I tried three times and each time a little bit of it fell into the oven.  I finally tried to put it on a pan and the whole thing just collapsed.  Hubs walked in asking "how is it going" just in time to see me throw the whole mess in the trash.

It was a good thing there was a second one.  This time I put it on a pan -- I didn't have any more fresh basil so I had to use dry.  I put it in the oven and this was the final result.

  
 It tasted ok, it was better than frozen but the second one wasn't nearly as gorgeous as the first one.  I was pretty miffed and said I just didn't understand why I couldn't get it off the peel and it was then that Hubs said I couldn't pat it out on the peel - I had to roll it out on a floured cutting board and then transfer it to the cornmeal covered peel and then it would slide off.  Well, who knew.

For a moment I was quite deflated but it tasted it ok, the dough was ok -- not thick (I don't like thick) and not so thin as to be crispy.  So, after some thought I decided that we would have pizza again next Saturday night and I would try again.  I will not be done in by pizza dough!

However, Hubs doesn't have to worry about losing his title of Pizzameister any time soon!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Meal Planning Experiment

I spoke in an earlier post about trying to feed the Hubs and I like my mother fed us when I was a child.  I decided this week that I would employ her method of shopping so on Wednesday, Hubs and I visited our neighborhood Sprouts

This is a photo of our actual neighborhood Sprouts
to see what I could do.  So, I had some things in my head -- should have been on paper -- but I managed to pull together about a weeks worth of meals.  I even managed to check my freezers to see what I had on hand -- enough meat for about four meals and a few frozen veggies.  So, starting with that I purchased a nice roast, some chicken thighs for soup, some pepperoni for pizza that will be having tomorrow night, some bacon to put in the zucchini I bought to make calabacita.  Tonight we will be having spaghetti to use up the left over spaghetti sauce that I had from Monday's pesto chicken.

When I decided to try my mother's approach to shopping it seemed easier to me.  Meal planning is not my forte! Of course, the bill rose a good deal because I had Hubs with me and he had to have his snacks and cheese.  He doesn't like Kerrygold cheese though because he says it tastes like grass.  Imagine that.  Anyway, he chunked a few things in the basket but I can't begrudge him as I chunked in a new Mineral Fusion lipstick so it all evened out.

Of course, the day of the shopping ended with us going out to dinner! Muaaahhhhh (she laugh maniacally).  But, we were in the vicinity of his favorite hamburger place -- Chaps -- so I decided to indulge him and stop there for dinner with the idea that we would eat the tacos the next day that I had been cooking the meat for all day in the crock pot.  So, last night we did just that and I heated my tortillas a new way (well, for tacos, anyway) and it all turned out just fine. 






So, tonight it is spaghetti, tomorrow night homemade pizza and Sunday it will either the roast or a chicken I have squirreled away.  I have sides to go with all the meals and I think I did a pretty good job! Maybe doing it this way will make me dread grocery shopping less.  I can only hope.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Come Rain or Come Shine




  

I just finished reading the new Mitford novel by Jan Karon, "Come Rain or Come Shine".  This book is the latest in a long series of books about Father Tim Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest in North Carolina.  This series has followed Father Tim through many life experiences and chronicles life in a small NC town.  I discovered the books in the mid-1990's at Book Stop (remember Book Stop?) and asked for the boxed set of the first three for Christmas.  I was completely taken in from the beginning and have read, and own, each and every book.

The latest book, "Come Rain or Come Shine" chronicles the wedding of Dooley Kavanagh and Lace Harper.  Dooley and Lace were both "lost" children until they found love and nurture with two of the towns families.  Coming from such dire backgrounds and being old enough to know what was happening with them, they grew to adulthood with strong ideas of how they wanted their lives to be and they set out to make them that way -- together.

In this latest work, Karon takes the whole crew to Meadowgate Farm for the wedding of the year! There are kids, cows, chickens, the Flower Sisters, Choo-Choo, Harley's teeth, strong winds and the threat of rain.  There is music by the Ham Biscuits and dancing on the porch -- a pot luck reception in the barn.  It actually sounded, to me, like the perfect venue!

There were nerves, tears, fears, apologies -- accepted and not accepted -- and bride hysteria over the dress.

And there was Jack Tyler.

Enough said -- read the book and draw your own conclusions but I found it to be completely charming.  I will add that it is helpful if you read the series from the beginning because as this series progresses there are many references to prior books that you almost have to know in order to put the pieces together.  So, if you haven't read them, start at the beginning. These aren't long reads but so satisfying.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Keeping House Like Mama Did

Bette -- 1923

Bette and Pat -- 1940's

Meet my mama.  She was born in San Antonio,  Texas in 1923 to Madge and Jim Davis and lived there all her life until 1990 when she and my dad relocated to Ft. Worth with us.  My mama was a driving force in my life.  I was an only child so I had her undivided attention -- sometimes not such a good thing! However, I pretty much adored her and decided early on the best way to do things was her way -- she seemed to accomplish so much with what seemed like so little effort.

We lived in a small house so the caretaking wasn't as laborious as it is today in McMansions.  Also, my dad worked from 3 p.m. until midnight and she couldn't sleep if he wasn't home so she spent her days with me and then after I was asleep she would do the housework.  Our house was always squeaky clean and smelled of bleach and Lysol.  I know now that probably wasn't great with the chemicals and all but it always felt so clean.  She didn't have a particular routine that I know of -- she just cleaned up all the time! I remember her cleaning up before we went to bed -- I asked her why -- she said that way she didn't have to get up to a messy house.  Made sense.  Wish I could do it. Our house was always really clean, my mother wasn't frantic and overworked and I don't know how she did it -- must have been magic.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was cleaning house.  When we were first married and I was working I had a routine.  We also had a small house and it was so easy to get things done.  Somehow, along the way, the routines have been lost and I am now more of a "I clean it when I see it" sort of gal.  I don't like that -- maybe I should try to re-establish those routines of early marriage.  My house is much bigger now -- it is harder to clean -- too much floor to mop -- too tiring.  I think the folks on the minimalist/smaller house (not TINY house, oh no) have it correct.  I even read an article in the San Antonio newspaper that the neighborhoods that were made up of mid-century houses are booming again after a period of decline.  People are flocking to them and refurbishing them because they like the lower ceilings and the closed floor plans.  I can understand that.  I think those mid-century houses were easier to keep.  I digress.

I think that my mother had the right idea about cleaning.  It isn't something you can ever finish -- it is an ongoing process and I think  where I personally get bogged down is thinking that I am going to clean house all in a day (not going to happen) and then it will be done.  It won't be done.  It will never all be done -- at least for very long -- and so I think an attitude adjustment is in order.  I read this on Rhonda's blog "Down to Earth" and she is right -- quit trying to "finish the housework" -- there is no such thing.

Today is grocery shopping day for me.  Again, a departure from my youthful routine when I would grocery shop on the same day of the week.  I was much better at it when I was young -- now I just sort of go when there isn't anything in the house to eat.  That is not good.

So, I decided to take a step back in time and look at how my mother did it.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mother grocery shopped every two weeks and she didn't really plan meals -- as in sitting down and writing out menus.  What she did was go to the meat counter and buy enough meat for two weeks.  She hit the produce for whatever produce she was going to buy for the two weeks that would stay fresh.  She did the same with the canned goods, frozen things and starchy items like rice and noodles and such.  She made sure she had enough for two weeks -- like two cans of green beans and maybe a big bag of fresh carrots.  I have decided that is how I am going to approach the grocery shopping this week.  To me that is easier than sitting down and trying to plan meals because when I try to do that all I can think of is tacos and then I go brain dead.  So, I think if I have the ingredients in the house for a decent number of meals then I can move forward and not be so intimidated by dinner!

I have been doing a sugar detox -- fancy talk for "dumping the sugar cold turkey".  It is going well.  I am tackling any "added" sugar, like cookies and ice cream and stuff like that head on and then I am trying to cook more from scratch so I know what is in the food.  I have had a couple of interesting meals that Hubs actually ate.  Now, he didn't say he liked them but he ate them.

Night before last I had pesto chicken with spaghetti squash and a wedge salad.  I don't like blue cheese but Hubs does so if I take some lettuce and dump some blue cheese dressing and some crumbles on it he is happy.  It turned out ok except my chicken was tough.  I hate tough chicken.

Last night I had pork chops with onions and apples cooked in the crock pot.  I pan fried some sweet potatoes and had some green beans.  It was pretty good and I have figured out that I like the plain, old, bone in pork chops better than those thick, butterflied ones that are so popular these days.  He ate all of it and I am finding that he does better at eating my dinners when I don't try to make portions big enough to feed a farmer or somebody who does lots of physical labor.  I think I am getting the hang of it.

Tonight I am having those tacos.  I have developed a recipe for crock pot taco meat that I am going to start in a little while.  I am going to make mexican rice so I can reheat it later and then mix up my salad.  Then, when we get home from babysitting I will be done and it will be ready.

I guess I should take pictures of the food, shouldn't I?  I will try to remember.

So, that is what is occupying my thoughts today. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
TeaserTuesday-ADailyRhythm
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
 Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Ok, I am currently reading "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Jan Karon.  Here is my teaser from page 87.

"Do not remove your dentures outside your room at any time."  She felt like a schoolmarm with a ruler."

Ah yes, it is Harley again -- but he is such a lovable old coot. 


Monday, January 18, 2016

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays (Jan.18)

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
Musing Mondays at ADailyRhythm
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you have any particular “quirks” when it comes to reading? (eg. taking notes while reading, etc)


Here is my Monday Musing response to "I blogged about _________ this past week".


I blogged about a lot of things this week -- nothing earth shattering or particularly interesting but things that were impacting me personally. 

I remember when I first learned about blogs.  My son's friend, Mundee, had a blog.  I asked him what that was, he told me, and I immediately decided I wanted one as well.  I was intrigued.  I like to write so I decided this would be a perfect outlet for me.  I discovered almost as immediately that some days there was just nothing to write about.  I also discovered that was ok.

Then came Facebook and I got hooked into that.  It is fun and yet it is just a bit evil.  It allows me to keep up with family and friends that I don't see often.  It also allows me to waste lots and lots of time.  I find it depressing a lot of the time because there is so much sadness and anger expressed there.  That might work for some but not for me. 

So, I have come back to my blog and I have discovered that I need to write something, anything, every day.  I try to do pictures.  I try to do memes like this when nothing is going on but I do try to be present every day.  I have a very small following and that is fine with me.  I correspond with my followers on a regular basis and call them friends.  So, while my writing doesn't span the vast horizons, it has allowed me to create my little corner of the world with like minded people and I can escape to this corner whenever I want and it brings me comfort and joy.

With that, I invite you to join me at boyett-brinkley.blogspot.com.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Suggestions, please

Before the holidays I read several suggestions for putting together bags for the homeless. I read about buying purses second hand and filling them full of necessary items for homeless women. There were generic suggestions of things to be put in ziplock bags for either men or women. All of these were good ideas. The idea behind it is, you fill whatever receptacle with whatever items you think are good, add a little bit of cash or a gift card and put them in your car to have at the ready so if you are in the situation to have the opportunity to help someone you are prepared.

Well, ok, my problem is that I can't necessarily identify homeless people.  Some are obvious but I am sure many aren't.  However, on our way home in the late afternoon we regularly encounter a handicapped gentleman who is soliciting handouts.  I am usually very skeptical about people who appear to be "begging" -- I know for a fact that some of these people are scammers.  However, this man is missing limbs and I fear he is one of our veterans that needs help.  I can't tell if he is homeless or just needy.

So, I have been thinking about it and have thought about the suggestions that I read about over the holidays and am thinking of putting together a ziplock bag with some things in it but not knowing his situation I don't know what to put in the bag! I don't know if he needs toiletries or food or what.  I was appalled not long ago because the person in the car threw money out he car window at him -- like they didn't actually want to get close to him.  Granted, he doesn't look very clean but I felt it was so demeaning.  He is sitting on the curb with a prosthetic leg and he is missing an arm and it was hard for him to try to catch the money that was blowing around.  I felt so bad for him.

Any suggestions would be welcome because I feel drawn to help them man -- I am sure he isn't scamming anybody but I don't know how to help.  I won't throw money at him -- I believe he deserves better treatment than that -- but I would want to include things that would be useful.

Thoughts?


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reading in the New Year and Brussels Sprouts

As I posted a while back, I am really trying to wean myself from Facebook somewhat and concentrate on my blog more as well as the blogs I read.  I have also wanted to pay more attention to Goodreads as they really have good information on there for new reading material.  That is causing me some stress as there are so many good books being shared.

Due to the moving of the MIL I am a bit behind on my reading but I did start my new Jan Karon book -- "Come Rain or Come Shine". 




I have only read a bit of it but I can tell I am going to enjoy it as much as I have Karon's other books.  It isn't terribly long so I imagine it will be a quick read which I will hate because I don't like good books to end.

However, I have been introduced to another title that has caught my eye -- "The Children's Home" by Charles Lambert. My cousin, JLSHall is reading it now and





and gave a good review.  Another review compares it to Shirley Jackson's works
 which intrigues me because I am a huge Shirley Jackson fan -- well, except for "The Lottery". Don't read that.  Scary.  And depressing.  In any event, this title might be my next.





I added "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell from my daughter's to read list.
Sometimes YA things are good and I like to read them from time to time.  I will have to get back to you on this.  But, I like the cover.

Earlier today I was doing some surfing on the internet about the Paleo diet.  I am sort of interested in it as it is a good diet for diabetics, it seems.  My husband is diabetic and he is having a blood pressure problem right now so I am thinking that we both need a change in our diet.  I need to break the sugar habit in the worst way.  I was sugar free for a while -- well, added sugar.  Heaven only knows how much sugar is hidden in our food and the only way to get past that is to cook from scratch at home.  So, I am going to give it a go. 

A friend of mine suggested a website called dr.axe.com for news and recipes on health and diet and such.  In order to access it you have to leave off the "." after dr but draxe.com takes you right there.  I found a recipe for roasted brussels sprouts with apples and pecans and it sounds delightful.  I think I will be trying it for sure.  It makes a lot so you might want to cut it down but that is easily done.  I think it would be good with pork.

And, right on schedule, the cedar pollen has arrived and blown up my nose so raging allergies coupled with the side effects of a difficult med, I am not feeling great.  However, when emptying my MIL's kitchen, I fell heir to her new bread machine and I think I am going to give it a try.  It is smaller than mine and I think it makes a horizontal loaf of bread which is what I have been looking for.  So, I might be doing that this evening.  I will let you know how it goes.

The cookie sale did better than I thought it would at my house.  We had two people come by and buy several boxes.  I was surprised because I didn't really think I would have anybody so I was pleased.  Our HOA doesn't allow any solicitation -- even adorable 5 year old girls with cookies -- so I had to do it from my house.  That is why I was surprised that we had anybody.  We are doing it again tomorrow, though, so we will see.  Maybe my neighbors have had time to think about the cookie goodness and are now realizing what they missed!I have been good and not eaten any.  Really.

So, that is it for Saturday! Back to my book and my tissues.




Keep Calm -- We Have Them

So.....we have roasted turkeys, decorated trees and wrapped gifts, shot fireworks for the new year ... so what is next?  Valentines?  Any retail store will say that is true but there is something that comes before that.  An event that is much awaited.  And... it is here!

Yes, it is cookie time.  Not great for my sugar detox and I am certain that I will have a freezer full of them by the end of the day but our little Daisy Scout is very enthusiastic about it so we will support her.  This sale is very important to these girls as they get a portion of the proceeds for their troop to allow them to do activities and have meaningful meetings.  I was a Brownie and I remember enjoying the time spent.  I even remember the cookies.  I remember my mother being the leader -- it was a good time for us.  So, if one of these sweeties knocks on your door or rings your bell be generous -- this means a lot to these kiddos.

Keep calm -- the cookies are here!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life Changes

Life changes are just that -- changes that occur all through your life.  Some are natural and gradual -- like going from being a baby to being a child to being a grownup.  Some happen with intent like going from being single to married.  Some happen suddenly like when ageing physically changes your ability to function and, of course, the ultimate change which is death.  I won't be talking about death today because while there are preparations to be made for that eventuality, those are well documented.  I am talking about taking care of business for everybody in every stage of adult life - everyday sorts of things.

Recently we had reason to seek out assisted living accommodations for my mother in law.  Fortunately they had just opened an assisted living unit at the retirement community that she was already in so it was just a matter of a whole load of paper work to secure a new apartment and then the moving of her belongings.  The new apartment is half the size of the old apartment so it goes without saying that there was a lot of paring down to be done.  I learned a lot along the way so I thought I would share some tips.

1. Emotions

My MIL and I were never close -- we were too different to ever forge a tight friendship -- she would never be my "other mother".  So, I was very surprised to find myself becoming emotional over going through her stuff.  So, if you are in the position to be dealing with another person or if you are thinking ahead to your own family dealing with your stuff, take steps to make it as easy as possible because it will make your life easier in the here and now as well.

2.  Logic

Store your things logically.  Have things where you can find them -- important papers should go in a file cabinet, drawer, or safe deposit box where you can get your hands on them.  Photos should be put in albums, photo boxes, or stored electronically where they can be located.  Clothing should be stored with like things together.  I never want my children to have that quizzical look on their face when they fish through my underwear drawer and find a lone, glittery, fish Christmas ornament. 

3. Reasonable Wardrobe

Keep your clothing current, well tended to and stored logically.  If something is too small just toss it -- if it ever does fit again most likely it will be out of style or have lost its shape from hanging.  If something needs repair then repair it or get rid of it.  Have what you need to appeal to your sensibilities so you don't feel TOO minimal but seriously folks, if you have twelve pair of white slacks -- unless it is a uniform of some sort that you wear daily -- that is too much.  Reading some articles on minimal wardrobes would be helpful.  You can have too much of a good thing.

4.  Household Goods

Assess your needs and look at your household.  Do you really need 40 towels?  Some families might and that is fine but if it is a small family be logical about your needs and your space.  Recently (like just as we started doing this with my MIL) I looked in my linen closets.  I chose two sets of sheets for each bed, appropriate blankets and quilts and two or three towel sets for each person.  That is what fits in my linen closet. Even if all of it were dirty it would still be a reasonable laundry load.  Don't fill your linen closet to overflowing and then start stuffing the excess in dresser drawers or the top of the closet just to keep it.  Have what you need an no more.

The kitchen seems to be a dreadful place for excess.  We all have that one kitchen junk drawer and yes, I do too.  My husband seems to love to collect twist ties.  Remember, my husband is the first born child of the MIL who likes LOTS of stuff and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Again, assess your needs.  If you bake lots of muffins you are going to want tins.  However, if you rarely bake muffins then maybe six tins of various sizes is just a wee bit too many.  Have what you need, keep the best and get rid of the rest.

5.  Cleaning Products

Cleaning products seem to multiply on their own in the dark.  Lots of people seem to think they need duplicates in each bathroom and the kitchen.  You don't.  While it is convenient, I suppose, it takes up valuable real estate under cabinets and just creates excess.  Buy a plastic caddy of some sort and keep your products to a minimum.  Tote it around the house and then store it away in the designated place.  It is a well known fact that I don't like chemicals and keep them to a minimum so my caddy would probably have baking soda, vinegar, and some microfiber cloths in it.  You don't need a lot of stuff but if you are going to have a lot of stuff in each area of the house be sure to discard the empty bottles and don't buy more until something is truly empty.

6.  Cosmetics

I have a problem with cosmetics -- I love to look at it and buy it but I don't wear much of it.  So,  a few days ago I purged my makeup drawer, bought some new organizers so I could actually find what I do use and I won't buy more until it is gone.  Here is the thing, people, cosmetics spoil.  You can't stockpile.  By the time you get done with one item the three or four that you have squirreled away might be on the edge of spoiling and you can't mistake it when it does -- the stench is terrible.  The thought of actually using something like that is just gross.  So, buy what you need and use it up.  You don't save money by buying ahead -- in fact, in most cases you lose money because you have to throw so much away.

Also, don't keep empty bottles and jars.  What are you going to do with them.  Toss, toss, toss.  Cabinet space and counter space is prime real estate -- use it wisely.

7.  Food.

Ok, now this is a touchy subject.  Most of us don't go to the grocery store daily like our great-grandmothers did.  We like to keep food at hand.  I like that too.  I have even done some reading on "prepping", like for disasters.  The truth of the matter is that shopping to "prep" is totally different.  Storing up a lot of food "just in case" doesn't work because it isn't packaged for that sort of storage.  My mother used to grocery shop every two weeks except for milk which she would buy at the corner store when needed.  She had a freezer for meat and vegetables and a small pantry.  When she planned her meals, loosely, we used the food and we were ready to replenish at the next two week interval.  I remember her method -- we had our "rich meals" at the beginning of the two weeks -- roasts, chickens, etc, and our "poor meals" - beans and cornbread, stew, stuff like that, a day or two before grocery shopping.  When we had our poor meals she always had a pie or cake so those beans didn't seem TOO poor!  I still love those bean and cornbread meals and have them often myself.  When you have so much that you don't need, that you buy just because it looks good or to have on hand, you waste so much money.  I do pay attention to expiration dates on things and I don't hang on to anything past that date.  That is why scratch cooking is really preferable to buying processed foods -- it is easier to store, less chance of spoilage and less waste.  I mean, who is going to stock up on three months worth of cabbage? 

8.  Gifts

When we were at my great-grandmother's 100th birthday party I remember a conversation between my mother and my great-aunt on what would be an appropriate gift for Granny.  The answer was nothing.  Apparently Granny had so many gowns and robes they couldn't get the closet door shut and the top shelf of her closet was piled to the ceiling with boxes of bath powder that she wouldn't ever use.  So, be thoughtful when giving gifts.

My daughter (a true minimalist) has always said consumable gifts are the best and I agree.  She likes to give me soap and I like to get it.  We routinely give gift cards for meals and I really like that.  I have gotten gift cards to buy books for my e-reader and I like that.  When you give somebody a gift, a good deal of the time, they feel obligated to keep it even if it has outlived it's purpose so be mindful of that.  While it may seem to be bad manners or gauche to give money, sometimes that is the best thing.  For instance, my mother in law doesn't need another THING in the world.  Because of all this activity at the holiday season we owe her a birthday gift and a Christmas gift.  We will be giving her money.  The new apartment place has a beautiful new salon and she is a beauty shop kind of gal -- she has the "standing appointment" mindset so she can always use cash for that.  She has a girl that takes her shopping so she always need some dough to grab them some lunch or something like that.  I don't see a problem with that but I do see a problem with adding one more knick-knack or piece of costume jewelry to the mix.  Not. Going. To. Happen. 

So, at the end of the day, I will have to say that what I have learned from this experience is to THINK.  Don't blindly store things away, don't buy more than you need, don't clutter your life or your space or your mind with too much.  I wish I had had the time to keep a running list with a dollar value of everything I threw away or donated from that apartment.  I am sure that what I unloaded out of the pantry would have been at least $500 worth of expired food.  Trying to put a value on the durable goods that were given away would have been in the thousands.  When I think of the money spent just to be, in essence, thrown away, it almost makes me scream.  There is no dollar amount to be placed on the effect that living with clutter has on you emotionally.  It steals your joy.  It steals your serenity.  It steals the confidence that you have control of your environment and your needs.  Clutter is just about as serious as stress in my book.  It is insidious and can be actually harmful. 

Hopefully my experience can help others.  I know it will help me.  As I look around my own house I see so many ways to make things better.  When my life changes happen I want my husband or kids to be able to walk in and identify where the family photos are, to look in my pantry and find it to be viable and healthy.  I want my family to be able to move my things or discard my things and not have to worry about throwing out my high school diploma with the 25 year old bank statements which are all shoved in a Christmas bag.

Yes, people, think about it.  Be logical.  Stay on top of things. Be reasonble and rational and I guarantee you that life changes, while sometimes upsetting and overwhelming, won't have to be worse than they need to be.

And, in closing, if you have a "shopping problem" -- get help -- it is a REAL problem!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

And...It is Finished!

The apartment has been duly vacated.  Everything is in a new place.  I even vacuumed the floors.  I am tired.  I am dirty.  I am a bit emotional over this -- probably because I am tired but I have learned a lot from this -- different things than I learned from dealing with my own parents life changes.  My perspective of things has changed somewhat -- the things that matter and the things that don't.  I have seen people in a different light as well as the value of material goods. 

Hopefully after a good night's sleep I won't be waxing quite so philosophical.

The End Is Near

No, not what you are thinking -- the end of The Monumental Move of 2016! This has been more gruelling than our move, 25 years ago, from San Antonio with two kids in tow.  I am happy to say, however, that most everything to be dealt with today is trash and we are going to make short work of it.  All cabinets and closets are empty.  The important stuff has found a new home.  I am completely exhausted as is my husband.  We have been out of our regular routine for almost two months now and it is taking it's toll. 

Seriously -- I haven't even watched last weeks episode of "Downton Abbey".  That is what I am talking about -- routine shot.

However, I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe tomorrow will be a lovely blog about SOMETHING ELSE!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Minimalist Wardrobe

I have learned a lot from this ordeal experience of moving another persons belongings. I have learned that we are all products of our generation. I have learned that personal taste in clothing and such is as personal as our fingerprints.

My MIL is a product of the depression era.  She was born in 1921 so she was old enough and impressionable enough to be affected, even if not personally, by the depression.  She was raised on a central Texas farm that they owned, the child of Czech immigrants, and she always said that they, as a family, never really felt the full on force of the depression.  They grew their own food, they went to the community school which was worlds away from the big cities and the big city problems, they sewed, knitted, and dresses and shirts got passed from the bigs to the littles -- regardless of the state of the economy.

However, I am sure that she wasn't completely oblivious to the plight of many people and maybe it was the depression or maybe it was the immigrant mindset but this lady can save things for decades after their purpose has been served.  She also, clearly, has always had the feeling that more is better.

I was raised differently.  My mother was also a depression era child and because my grandfather worked for the railroad he always had work.  In 1928 they, as a family, bought a new house, a new car and had a new baby -- not too shabby in the time when the world was falling apart financially and the time between wars was way too short.  However, my mother didn't cling to material things. As I was growing up in the 1950's it was a common occurrence to come home to the furniture all being rearranged, new drapes and linens bought and installed, things painted and everything smelling of Clorox bleach and Lysol.  My mother didn't like things to stay the same for too long! We routinely cleaned out closets and discarded all manner of things.  We lived in what would today be called a tiny house so there was no place to store multitudes of things so out with the semi-old and in came the new. I don't remember my mother ever actually wearing something out.  Breaking things, yes, but wearing it out, no.

Both of these ladies have shown clear evidence of a shopping problem. One is a hoarder, the other a tosser.

Both of them are, in my humble opinion, wrong.

There has to be a balance and I have been doing a lot of thinking about this.

As I said prior, we are all products of our generations.  I was a child of the 50's and a teenager in the 60's.  We all loved Twiggy, Carnaby Street and we all tried to be anorexic.  In my case that didn't work and I am still dealing with it.  I regress.  At any rate, when I was a teenager, it seemed that we thought in terms of outfits -- we would buy a dress (many granny dresses or baby dresses), buy the tights, the shoes, the hair decoration and we had an outfit.  I still think that way.  I buy outfits.  However, today's mindset is toward capsule wardrobes where everything is in a color scheme to go with everything else and mix and match.  I simply can't get my head around that -- I still think in terms of outfits.

So, this is my plan.  I am going through my wardrobe and toss virtually everything.  I am going to plan and purchase six outfits to wear every day of the week -- a uniform so to speak.  It is probably going to be jeans and button down shirts as that is what I pretty much live in.  Then, I am going to find a couple of outfits (shopping my own closet for this) for church or dressier occasions.  I have a new winter coat that I bought from TravelSmith -- it is a khaki trench coat with a button in liner -- raincoat or heavy coat and it is warm.  I have two sweaters.  I am going to be able to put it all in one place in my closet and I will be able to get the laundry done in a couple of loads.  I am going to arrange these outfits on a hanger -- shirts on top of pants -- and that way I will have a minimal amount of hanging stuff.  Everything will be folded a la Marie Kondo and I am going to be done.  I have enough shoes to do me except for a pair of summer sandals which I will purchase in a neutral color -- ONE pair of sandals.

This is my plan.  I don't know if it will work and I am going to try to purchase these things with the new trend in mind that it is preferable to buy to own forever which means the quality would need to be as good as possible falling within financial restrictions.  My closet isn't over crowded right now but I do need to replace some things that are getting worn out and I think this would be a good way to approach it rather than just buying things willy nilly.

I will let you know how it goes and maybe even snap a photo.  Maybe.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Moving Day Number -- oh who knows anymore

Moving my MIL to an assisted living apartment is like the never ending project.  It took us the entire day to move her clothes from one the old apt. to the new apt. which is just across the parking lot -- she had to look at each piece and determine whether it would stay or go -- she had to pare down because she just didn't have as much closet space.  It. took. all. day.  She has two closets in the new apartment and they are now full to the brim.  We are toting six medium size (18 X 18 X 16) moving boxes full of clothes to the charity shop tomorrow.  In the process of clearing out one closet we found six more boxes and one bag full of clothes that we didn't know was there.  We are about to lose our minds.

I have learned so much about minimal living from this experience.  Much more than I ever learned from reading books or blogs or articles.  At one point this afternoon I was musing about how Marie Kondo would handle this situation.  I am sure she wouldn't have felt like running away -- she probably would have enjoyed the experience.  I did not. 

So, when I get finished dealing with MIL's possessions I am moving on to my own.  I am not ever going to have my kids go mad going through my junk.


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Oh My Goodness --

Moving Day 2

Oh my gosh -- I am so tired.  I wish we had had more time for all of this -- it is more than a two day job.  Going through another person's belongings is a difficult process -- especially since the person is still living and is probably not going to be happy about all the changes although she asked for all the changes.

This move is going to be better for my mother in law but I am afraid that we are all going to be in deep you-know-what when she can't locate all her stuff that just isn't in her possession anymore.  I know we are going to go through that awkward period when she is angry with us for doing what she asked us to do.

This is definitely one of those "can't win for losing" times.

Sigh.

Moving Day 1

Clearly I survived the first day of moving.  The day was spent moving the large pieces of furniture that were to go to the new apartment.  A few smaller things were moved but the bulk of the day was spent with the big stuff.

The day started roughly at 8 a.m. and ended about 13 hours later with lunch and dinner breaks.  My main job was to observe so that nobody got hurt.  I mean, after all, these guys (my husband and brother-in-law) aren't teenagers anymore -- just sayin'.  You wouldn't think that moving things across the parking lot would be so tiring.  Well, it is.

Today we face the hard part -- trying to figure out how to pare down clothing and sort paperwork and stuff like that.  MIL doesn't have a full kitchen in the new place so kitchen stuff will be minimal -- some plates, glasses, cups and bowls.  A bit of silverware, a couple of cup towels.  And the microwave.  Can't forget the microwave.

I have done pretty well until last night.  I had a totally freaked out episode, almost a toddler melt down and all over a pair of tweezers.  My MIL had been pounding into my head to get a small dish with a special pair of tweezers.  I don't see anything special about these tweezers but beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.  So, my last trip from Apt. 1 to Apt. 2 I decided to just grab the dish and hand carry it over.  All was good until I got into the elevator with two ladies on scooters and one bumped me and sent the tweezers flying.  I just knew they fell through the gap down the elevator shaft.  I went back to each floor just to check and by this time I was having a fit.  I got to Apt. 2 and my partners in crime tried to calm me down but I was frantic.  This was the ONE thing my MIL said we had to get without doubt! So, I dumped out my purse and by golly those tweezers never hit the floor but ended up in my purse.  I couldn't believe it! After that incident, I was done and just need my bed and a nice cuppa.

So, today we start again.  Yay!

I am just glad I wasn't a part of MIL's move from SA to FT. W 7 years ago when she broke up housekeeping in the house she had lived in since 1953.  From what I understand, that purging was a bear!  I am just glad I had to deal with tweezers.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Moving Day

Not for me but for my mother in law.  Several months ago my MIL got sick. All manner of tests were done to no avail.  She was on the decline -- "adult failure to thrive" was the diagnosis.  She was hospitalized with malnutrition and dehydration -- not something you would expect to see in a first world woman of above average means. 

It seems she was just quitting.  Everything.  Including eating and drinking. 

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas she was hospitalized twice in a week.  At the end of the second stay she was being released and wanted to go home but the closer it got to actually going home she was having doubts so the doctor arranged for a three week stay at a nearby rehabilitation center.  While there we broached the subject of her moving from her apartment in an independent living retirement facility to an assisted living apartment in the same place.  It is a new wing -- all shiny and bright -- and she agreed completely.  She even asked if we could make it happen before she was released from rehab so she could just go to the new place.

So, for the last three weeks my husband has been jumping through hoops to make this happen.  The new apartment has been chosen and secured.  We have two old men (my husband and brother-in-law) and one old, decrepit lady (me) to help and we have a day planned for sure.  Hopefully this will be mostly taken care of today and tomorrow to be finished up on Sunday.  Looking for MIL's release from rehab to be Monday or Tuesday. 

If you don't hear from me in a couple of days just check at the rehab -- after all this moving I might be occupying the room that is going to be available.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Chalking the Door -- I will be doing this if I can find the chalk -- and climb high enough

Chalking the Door: An Epiphany House Blessing 2016

| January 1, 2016
Epiphany.ChalkBlessing2016
Every year the Carmelite Pre-novitiate Community at Carith House in Chicago on the Feast of the Epiphany blesses their home.
We invite you to adopt this custom in your family. The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.
A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 16. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2016 is the year.
Blessing the Chalk

V. Our help is the name of the Lord:
R. The maker of heaven and earth.
V. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in:
R. From this time forth for evermore.

Let us pray.
Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Instructions for Blessing the Home

Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 16 while saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

Then offer the following prayer: Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen

“Chalking the door” is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”
Daryl Moresco, OCarm.
Daryl Moresco, OCarm.
Br. Daryl Moresco OCarm. is the Director of Vocations and the Pre-Novitiate formation program for the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary (Chicago) Province.

The House on Fortune Street








 

I am a voracious reader.  I am also well known for choosing books for their covers.  I think that is why I still prefer physical books to e-books - the covers.  A while back, while perusing the sale tables at B&N I picked up a copy of "The House on Fortune Street" by Margot Livesey.  It was put on the shelf  to wait its turn in the TBR queue.  My daughter came over one day looking for something to read and she took several books off the shelf, this one being one of them, and it resided at her home for a long while.  Recently, it came back into my possession, was thrown in the back of the car and brought out one day when I was needing something to read while waiting in the kindergarten pick up express line.

I always liked the cover so I assumed I would like the book.  For the first time in forever, that didn't happen.  It was a slow go.  It was a chore to get started and keep the momentum going.  It just didn't grab me but I was determined.  After plodding through the beginning and suffering through a story line I didn't enjoy it started to get better.  Around the middle of the book it started to grow on me -- the overlapping of the story lines was intriguing.  It was almost a mystery without actually being one.  And now -- at the end -- I found I couldn't put it down.  What clever writing it was.  What complicated characters they were.  To see the story unfold for each of the character's viewpoints was enlightening.

It is the story of Abigail and Dara -- friends from college days.  They were different yet so much alike.   They were best friends and their individual stories ran parallel to their story.  Through the whole book, through parents and families and lovers and friends, their relationship remained until the end.  And what a sad end it was.

Would I recommend this book?  I am not sure.  It was a slow start, it was a sad end, the writing was excellent, the characterization and the setting were top notch and I have really enjoyed it, surprisingly.  However, it is a sad book and a depressing read so I would have to withhold my recommendation.  A reader would have to decide for him/herself.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

RIP Poor Dead Camera

My camera died.  I didn't realize it was on the brink of demise -- I thought it was only missing a few screws and needed a good battery charge.  I thought that replacement screws and a good while on the charger would fix everything and that we could be friends again.   Seems not to be because when I took it off the charger and walked outside to photograph the sun, it wouldn't work.  It had a brand new battery purchased just a few months ago and the front was properly secured again but it wouldn't open, it wouldn't do anything.

So, off to Best Buy I go to replace my friend of several years now.  This is the new camera I adopted.

I comes in other lovely colors but there were none left from the holidays.  I am fine with basic black, however.  Not such a change from my little Kodak whatever-it-was.  I prefer little point and shoot cameras that I can carry in my purse to the large, dramatic, impressive equipment that all the men in the family carry.  They all tote around these impossibly large cameras with larger lenses and we seem to have very few photos! I, on the other hand, happily snap away with my little camera and I like it that way.

I am not sure how this is going to go -- the relationship is too new, too untested.  Right now the camera -- I haven't even decided on a name yet -- is asleep on the desk charging.  As soon as it warms up a bit outside I will be taking her on a trial run to see what she can do.  She is WiFi enabled -- whatever that means -- not sure how that will help me.  I guess I can connect the camera directly to the computer and download the pics to the hard drive -- hmm..my netbook doesn't have a hard drive.  Ok, maybe I can download them to Shotwell.  Seems this is going to take some time spent with the manual -- I hate manuals but it least it actually came with one.  One of my other options didn't have a manual but rather you had to download it from the computer. 

So, there you go -- a new year, a new member of my purse family and a new learning curve.  Hopefully this little camera will last as long as the other one did and that we will learn to live together peaceably. 

Hope -- is that a good name for a camera?

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
TeaserTuesday-ADailyRhythm
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser comes from "The House on Fortune Street" by Margot Livesey, page 199.

"For all her many visits to Abigail's house, Dara ha never seen the ground floor flat.  As she bicycled over, she pictured it as similar to the upstairs:  light, beautifully proportioned, tastefully decorated."

Hmmm..the upstairs sounds like something out of House Beautiful and it makes you wonder if the downstairs flat is somewhat of a dungeon.

This is where I am in the book at the moment.  It has been a slow read, started in November and will be the first on my Goodreads challenge list for 2016.  It is picking up and I am anxious to see how all the pieces fit together because it is truly like a puzzle.

 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Musing Mondays

I used to love to do memes but have somehow gotten away from them.  They were always useful for the blog when I didn't have much going on to talk about.  I miss doing them so I thought I would start up again and this is one of my favorites! Please join in if you feel so inclined. 

 

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you do when you finish a book? Do you immediately start another one?

Here are my answers:

I am currently reading "The House on Fortune Street" by Margot Livesay.

Up next I think I will read "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Jan Karon.

I bought the following book(s) in the past week -- uh, none.  I am trying to read from my own library full of unread books.

I'm really excited to tell you about the new independent bookstore that is opening here in Fort Worth.  When Borders closed up and Barnes and Noble downsized to only two stores in a vast area, we were left with only Half Price Books for a book store.  Now, not to downplay Half Price -- they are really good -- but still only one choice.  So, I am looking very forward to the opening of "The Last Word" in the downtown area.

I am really upset by -- the fact that I am not enjoying my current read but refuse to give up on it since I am so close to being done.  It was a slow start, picked up for a bit and is beginning to all come together -- which is good and holding my interest a little better -- but I don't care for the subject matter and I think that is what my problem is.

I can't wait to get a copy of -- well, nothing at the moment.  I was asking for the new Jan Karon title for Christmas and I got it so that is the most recent book I have desired.  I am sure something will catch my fancy soon.

I wish I could read more but life seems to be getting in the way at the moment.

I blogged about very little of any great importance this past week. I never have much important to say but I feel like I have let my blog slide in favor of Facebook and, while FB has it's place, I suppose, it is getting very depressing and sad and one of my goals for the new year is to concentrate on my blog more.  I can't give up FB because that is how I keep up with family and distant friends but too much time is spent THERE and too little time spent HERE.  Must. fix. that.

This week's random question --

What do you do when you finish a book? Do you immediately start another one?

Yes.  That is exactly what I do.


Have a wonderful Monday everybody!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

January's Thoughts Lean Toward

Resolutions -- you thought I was going to say resolutions, didn't you?  Well, I guess that is what most people think of -- losing weight, being a better person, making more money.  No, that isn't what I am thinking about.  I am thinking about sheets and white sales.

One of the sets of sheets I have for our bed is terrible.  There is just no other way to put it.  They are thick and heavy -- some ridiculous thread count and I think their purpose would be better served as a drop cloth for painting.  So, I decided I needed to find those sheets another home (Goodwill) and procure another set for my bed so I got to thinking about the sheets of my youth.

Our sheets were always white.  They were fairly heavy but they breathed.  They were cool.  I especially remember the sheets on my grandmother's bed.  They were soft and substantial and cool.  I remember my grandmother (who could be a little snooty when she wanted to be) always said to never buy muslin sheets, they were awful -- you should always buy percale.

So, I decided to look at some nice percale sheets available online.  Coyuchi I think was the name.  They were lovely.  Then I looked at the price and they immediately lost a bit of their luster.  So I went across the street to Target to look at what they had to offer.  They had percale but the sample felt like plastic.  I just couldn't get my head around these new percale sheets feeling like the sheets of my youth.  However, I did find some "organic" sheets that felt closer to what I was looking for.  I did the brave thing and bought them.  Brought them home, washed them, put them on the bed and was very glad to discover that they were quite close to what I remember the sheets feeling like when I was a kid.  I am thrilled.  Now, if Target has a good white sale, I might buy a set of the percale to see what they feel like but right now I am really pleased with my purchase.

This is the first step in my Marie Kondo attack on my house.  My linen closets.  No more towels or sheets that are old, don't match, don't have a complete set -- whatever.  The next thing on that similar list is cup towels. I asked my husband how many cup towels a self respecting home should have and he said four -- two in use and two in the drawer.  I think that is just a tad sparse but I am going to narrow down my two drawers full of cup towels to probably just a half dozen.  It is two of us here, I don't think we need more.

It will probably take me until next New Years to accomplish this but I am going to declutter every nook and cranny in this house -- starting with the linen closets -- it looks so nice to open the door and have my sheets in nice stacks all straightened up.  I feel so accomplished.

I hope I can keep up the momentum!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Friday Fill-ins

1. Right now I'm _____.
2. _____ is my well known quirk.
3. Are you _____?
4. _____ first, then _____!
5. That's why _____.
6. _____ is one of my favorite tv shows ever!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _____, tomorrow my plans include _____ and Sunday, I want to _____!



1. Right now I am resting from decluttering!
2. Not being able to sleep with the closet door open is my well known quirk.
3. Are you sleepy?
4. Family first, then everything else!
5.  That's why I don't like crowds.
6.  Days of Our Lives is one of my favorite tv shows ever!
7.  And as for the weeken, tonight I am looking forward to some moving watching with my granddaughter, tomorrow my plans include seeing my son, daughter in law and grandchildren and Sunday, I want to crash!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I do not believe in resolutions but I do believe in goals.  Here are a few of my goals for 2016, not in any particular order.

1.  Break the sugar addiction -- starting today.  So far so good but I have only been up for an hour and half and I have to make cookies.  Yikes!

2.  Increase my step count -- I walk for exercise and I average about 5000 steps a day -- half of what I should -- so that is a goal. 

3.  Become Fort Worth's answer to Marie Kondo -- after trying to facilitate moving my mother in law to assisted living, I am adament about getting my own clutter under control -- her "stuff" is causing me great stress.

4.  Read more.

5.  Blog more.

6.  Visit Facebook less often.  Who knew that scrolling through pages and pages of peoples opinions on things could be so addictive and such a waste of time.  Apologies to my facebook friends but seriously --

7.  Sew more.  I love Irish Chain quilts and I would really like to try my hand at hand piecing one.  In blues and turquoises.

8.  Only join one reading challenge

9.  Cook at home more -- poor hubby.

10.  Take more photos -- which reminds me -- I need to buy a new camera like today!

So, folks, that is my year in a nutshell.  I will start dismantling "Christmas" today even though it is still Christmastide and I still have one more gathering but I am anxious to get on with the new year and see if I accomplish the goals I have set forward.  We will see.

Have A Wonderful New Year and see you back here much, much more often.