Archive | November, 2012

What I’m Reading Wednesday

28 Nov

I definitely judge books by the cover. Since I tend to favor historical fiction set during the 1920s-1950s, I look for art from that time frame when searching through books.

When I walked into the library a couple of weeks ago I noticed “Tigers in Red Weather” right away because it was on display. The cover resembles a 1950s-era photo that could have easily been used in Vogue.

I picked the book up and read about the author Liza Klaussmann and learned she is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville and was a journalist at the New York Times for more than a decade. This book is her debut and was released in July. I was sold!

The novel takes place post-WWII at an old family estate called Tiger House in Martha’s Vineyard. Klaussmann writes the novel from the perspective of its five main characters. It centers around two cousins, Nick and Helena and their marriages and children. It’s interesting to re-read scenes of the book from all the different perspectives especially because a murder-mystery is weaved into it.

The novel is definitely dark and at times creepy as you get to learn more and more about the characters and the truth of a murder comes to light. It’s difficult to like some of the characters as I felt like they were all about to snap at one point. There was seriously only one happy person.

After my Nancy Drew days I don’t read much from the mystery genre, aside from Jacqueline Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs series. But this was good and I look forward to whatever may be next from Klaussmann.

How do you pick out your books?

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What I’m Reading Wednesday

21 Nov

One of the many reasons I love the Pierce County Library system is its “Lucky Day” section. They display new books and movies that you are unable to reserve or renew. Sometimes a book, such as “The Hunger Games” can have about 80 holds, but you never know when you walk in you could see it available on the Lucky Day shelf. It really makes you feel like it’s your lucky day!

Last week I stopped by the library and spotted Mitch Albom’s latest release The Time Keeper.” The book was released in September and has three holds on it, but lucky for me I was able to read it right then and there.

For those familiar with Albom’s style, he often writes inspiring. heartfelt stories. My favorite of his novels is “Tuesday’s With Morrie.”

In his latest novel, he uses his creative imagination to write about the inventor of the world’s first clock, and how God punishes him for trying to measure the gift of time.

“But man invents nothing God did not create first.” — The Time Keeper

The tale follows the time keeper through his inventions to banishment to being sent back to Earth to teach two people the true meaning of time. The story includes a dying man who wants more time and a teenage girl who wants time to speed up.

While it’s a work of fiction, The Time Keeper still made me think about how often we keep track of time. Thinking of my own life I live by a schedule monthly, weekly, daily. I live by pay checks, bill due dates and deadlines. I know I worry about not having enough time, and I know it’s senseless to worry about it to begin with.

On my drive to work this morning Tim McGraw’s song, “Live Like You Were Dying” came on the radio.

“And he said, ‘Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying. Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity to think about what you’d do with it? What could you do with it? What did I do with it? What would I do with it?'”

I appreciate Albom’s novel in that for me it served as a reminder to not watch the clock, but to live in the moment. And to be thankful for every second I get to be in that moment.

Liebster Award

15 Nov

Thank you Jessica from More Than A Military Spouse for my Liebster Award nomination!

Here’s how it works. There are four steps to receiving this award:

1. List 11 things about yourself.

2. Answer your nominator’s 11 questions.

3. Choose up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and ask them your own questions.

4. Inform your nominees of their award nominations.

11 Things about me:

1. My husband and I share the same birthday, but he is one year younger than me. He reminds me of that often.

2. I am almost done watching all eight seasons of “24” and am not sure where to go from there. Jack Bauer has become my favorite fictional character.

3. My paternal grandmother is Japanese. Sadly I did not learn the language.

4. When I was a teenager a Jeep Grand Cherokee was my dream car.

5. I am a big fan of singing reality TV shows, especially “The Voice,” but I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

6. I was a girl scout for nine years.

7. My dream as a kid was to be a professional beach volleyball player.

8. We have been University of Washington football season ticket holders for four years. I am a graduate of Washington State University and feel like a traitor when I wear purple. Go Cougs!

9. I often make up songs randomly. My husband teases me for this.

10. If I could live anywhere it would be England.

11. My favorite collegiate/professional basketball player is Stephen Curry. My fantasy football teams are named after him.

Jessica’s questions:

What sparked your blog idea?

I often have random things in my mind and heart that I think are important, but don’t really have a place in a publication. I started this blog to write about whatever I want whenever I want.

What’s been the most difficult part about blogging?

Consistency! When organizing guest bloggers it’s difficult to remain consistent because it depends on when they submit their post. It’s been a challenge to remain consistent with a blog series when there is nothing to post.

What have you learned in the process of blogging?

I think it’s so neat how a blog can gather a community of people with similar interests. I might not personally know the people who communicate with me via my blog, but it’s cool how we can chat about our common interests.

If you’re on Twitter, who’s your favorite person to follow?

I love Ellen DeGeneres’ tweets! I also am a sucker for Twitter contests! I won Harlem Globetrotter tickets and a DVD via Twitter!

What is your favorite food?

I could eat sushi every day of my life.

If you could only make one trip, where is the one place you want to visit in the world?

Londontown.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

This will only be my third Christmas with the hubby, but I look forward to continuing the traditions we have started. Beginning with buying a tree from Home Depot and strapping it to the top of his Camry.

What is the last book you read (for fun)?

“Blackberry Winter” by Sarah Jio. I love everything she writes.

What do you think about Pinterest?

That it’s one of the best inventions of our generation.

What’s your favorite magazine?

South Sound Mag

Holiday cards: a do or don’t?

A definite do. And the funnier the better!

Here is a list of the winners!

Let me introduce you to some of the blogs I follow. They include friends, coworkers and peeps I’ve met via this blog.

1. The Brilliant Quill

2. The Consulting Adventurer

3. one dress. one year. for freedom.

4. The Good Life

5. The Social Eater

6. ResNovae SF

My questions for these bloggers:

1. How did your blog come about?

2. What is behind the name of your blog?

3. What are some challenges you face as a blogger?

4. What is your favorite topic to blog about?

5. What are you reading right now?

6. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

7. Where is your next trip/vacation going to be?

8. What is your favorite TV show?

9. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

10. What is your dream job?

11. What is your favorite movie?

Thank you again, Jess for the nomination! Fellow bloggers, enjoy!

What I’m Reading Wednesday

14 Nov

When the Pacific Northwest was hit with an ice storm last year we were one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose power (except for a couple of hours the first day). We were snowed in for a few days and passed the time with movies, a puzzle and lucky for me, reading!

I was snowed in with Sarah Jio’s first novel, “The Violets of March” and read it in a day. When I was finally able to escape the house and make it to the library I checked out her second novel “The Bungalow” and again, read it in a day. Both of the novels take place during one of my favorite eras (1930s-1940s). The author, who lives in Seattle, also writes her hometown into her novels.

I was so excited when Sarah’s third novel “Blackberry Winter” was released in September. Staying true to form, the haunting novel flips back and forth to 1933 and present day in Seattle. Another element that Sarah always includes in each novel is a mystery. I couldn’t put the book down because I couldn’t wait to figure out what happens!

The story of Blackberry Winter is told through two characters, Vera in 1933 and Claire in present day. Claire is a journalist for a Seattle newspaper and uncovers a mystery involving Vera and her abducted 3-year-old son. The author herself is also a journalist and I enjoyed reading about a features writer on the hunt, following leads and trying to solve the story. The novel paints a glamorous lifestyle of a journalist who takes frequent and long lunches and escapes on ferries to visit with friends (sidenote, characters from The Violets of March made an appearance, too!).

I follow Sarah’s blog and am already looking forward to her fourth novel! She’s already working on her fifth, which takes place on a houseboat in Seattle. She rented a house boat for four months for research and to serve as her office. What a cool gig!

I highly recommend picking up any or all of Sarah’s novels. It’s the perfect book to have on hand if you do get snowed in this winter.

What book would you recommend to read if you were snowed in?

What I’m Reading Wednesday

8 Nov

Before I realized it was a show on PBS, I picked up “The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times” by Jennifer Worth for last week’s read. The memoir is written by a woman who trained as a nurse and moved to London to be a midwife in post-war London’s East end slums. Half-way through the book I discovered “Call The Midwife,” and am super hooked! I would be totally OK with it if Chummy had her own spin-off from the show (just sayin’!). “Call The Midwife” has filled the void left from “Downton Abbey” until it airs in the U.S…

But back to the book! This memoir was so fascinating because of the crazy experiences Jennifer had as a midwife such as helping a woman deliver her 25th baby (that is not a typo), helping a pregnant 14-year-old prostitute escape slavery, and meeting a wide array of interesting souls.

But what I found even more interesting is the midwife’s spiritual transformation throughout the book. When she first began work as a midwife in a convent she wasn’t sure of her religion. When asked she responded, “Methodist, I think.”

She writes, “I would not have described myself as a committed atheist for whom all spirituality was nonsense, but as an agnostic in whom large areas of doubt and uncertainty resided.”

The midwife goes through some harrowing experiences and through working alongside nuns, the power of prayer had an effect on the young midwife.

When faced with the scary task of helping a woman deliver a premature baby one of the nuns told the midwife she would pray for the mother and child.

“All the tension and anxiety left me, and I felt calm and confident. I had learned to respect the power of prayer. What change had come over the headstrong young girl who, only a year earlier, had the whole idea of prayer to be a joke.”

“…All my fears vanished, and the calm certainty that all would be well flooded my mind and body.”

Wow.

The memoir’s closing paragraph: “These three small words, ‘Go with God,’ were for me the beginning of faith. That evening, I started to read the Gospel.”

How cool is that? I loved reading about this young woman’s experiences and see her slowly begin a relationship with Christ.

A valuable lesson I learned through reading this memoir and watching the show, that no matter how crazy a situation may be, there is always time for a cuppa!

Princess Fiona Ramona

7 Nov

The day I brought Fiona home.

Beginning Nov. 1 many of my friends on Facebook have been listing what they’re thankful for in 30 days of thanks. I woke up with a very heavy heart Nov. 1 because our 2-year-old pug, Fiona, had passed away the night before.

Through this last week of grieving I’ve been giving thanks for the brief time we had with her. I’m thankful for all the memories we made and all the laughs we have from such a special dog.

We knew when we adopted her that she was born with a heart murmur. When I went to meet her and pick her up I felt like I totally scored because she was a super cute pudgy pug that seemed perfectly healthy. It didn’t take long to see that we couldn’t treat her like a normal dog. When she ran around too much, played too hard or was too excited she would collapse while her heart tried to catch up.

At the vet we learned that rather than hearing a typical heart beat, Fiona’s heart made a swish, swish sound. We knew at the very beginning that we would love her, spoil her and give her the best life we could. We became her protectors who monitored her exertion and babied her like crazy.

I feel so blessed that we passed the first birthday mark and then the second birthday mark this past July. Even the vet was a little surprised when I brought her in for her annual check up this summer.

We knew any day could be the last but nothing can prepare you for having to say goodbye. When we got home from a church event Halloween night Trevor found she had passed in her sleep. My heart broke.

I have found comfort this past week in people who understand the grief that comes with losing a  pet. I was with Fiona every day for two years and she wasn’t just a pet, she was my best friend and a member of our small family. It’s weird to come home to a quiet house. My routine for the last two years is thrown off. Every day Fiona would wake up with me, we’d go downstairs to go outside, then she’d eat her breakfast while I made coffee. She’d go back upstairs with me while I got ready for the day and when I was about to leave she would be tucked back into bed with Trevor for her first nap of the day.

Every day we’d come home she’d be so happy to see us! She would get up on her hind legs so we could pick her up. She was so cute! In the kitchen she was glued to my leg willing me to drop some food on the ground with her big eyes. She told me she needed to go outside by nibbling on my fingers and if she was cold she would paw at the blanket to tell me she wanted to crawl under. She loved to sleep on our heads and she often fell asleep with her toy in her mouth.

Today we picked up her dog collar and ashes from the vet. Bringing her home kind of put some closure to having to say goodbye so suddenly. When I come home from work and pull into our driveway I still look at our back door to see if her little head is poking out, waiting for me to come home. I miss her so much and know there can never be another dog like her. I feel so blessed that I had the time that I did with her and am thankful that I had such a great best friend. Love you, Fiona Bear.

Pug mug.