Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Christ Alone wonderful hymn

Some lyrics from one of my favorite hymns "In Christ Alone", written by Keith Getty (Northern Ireland) and Stuart Townend (England).
I am posting this with love for Judy.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Downton Abbey and The Cazalets

I must say, I am a big fan of Downton Abbey. It achieves close to perfection for a tv drama, in my view and I would love to visit Highclere Castle where it is filmed.
Since Downton Abbey does not run 24/7 (insert sobs here) all year, I was pleased to find another tv series, The Cazalets. We borrowed the DVDs from our local public library and enjoyed watching it. A nice surprise is that the patriarch of the family is played by Hugh Bonneville, also the head of the Downtown Abbey family.
The six episodes were filmed in 2001 for the BBC, and cover the middle/upper class Cazalet family and their estate in Sussex. The time is 1937 to 1942. The house employs plenty of servants but is not at all as grand as the home in Downton Abbey.
I read a recent interview with Elizabeth Jane Howard who wrote the 4 books the Cazalet series is based on, and she is now a vibrant looking 90. The Telegraph shows a photo of her, at 90 she is gorgeous, strong looking, uses a wooden cane and is holding a tiny brown cigarette. Even better, she is writing book 5 which will answer lots of my questions about the people in the tv series and what happened next.
The first book of the Cazalet Chronicles is The Light Years, which I want to read.
Have you read the Cazelet books or seen the shows?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

And the winner of "Tracing Our Footsteps" by Wei Wei is ...

Hi Friends. I went to and it selected the winner, number 9 of the commenters, who is Dee of One Foot Out of the Box blog. Dee, I left a comment on your blog telling you to send me your snail mail address.
The book is a memoir written by my friend Wei Wei and the title is "Tracing Our Footstep."
Thank you to all who left comments.
On about Dec. 1 this year I will give away a copy of the first book I co-authored, "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm the Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday."
Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Memoir I Recommend and Book Give Away

My friend Wei Wei wrote a memoir "Tracing Our Footsteps: 15 Tales of Hope, Struggle and Triumph" that centers on her relationship with her dad and his move to the United States from China following his daughter who attended college in the USA and then moved here. He is a widower and dearly loves China, and Wei reconnects with him when he travels to California and moves in with Wei, her husband, and their young daughter.
Wei will send one copy of her book free to some lucky reader of this blog; to enter just leave a comment on this blog post.
There are 15 chapters and I read one, and then another and another, since her story is compelling and well written. As I saw how big the culture shock was for her dad, I wondered, will he stay in California with Wei or return to his roots in China.
I asked her some questions and I share her answers below.

1. What is your book about?
This humorous, moving, and rich memoir is about my efforts to help my dad to fit into a new environment and to re-establish our relationship. It focuses on ordinary, but profound experiences that a father and a daughter shared, reflecting upon their personal values, perspectives, and priorities during a five-year period and offers the reader insight into the life and struggle of a contemporary immigrant family.
2.   Lots of people say they have a book they want to write, yet you went ahead and did it. What was your inspiration for writing this book?
The idea began with a tribute to my aging father in mind. However, as I continued to write the memoir, I was reminded of similar stories told to me by other people.  I suddenly realized that what I was writing was not just my tale about my family.  It was really a story of a journey shared across various age, race, gender or cultural backgrounds. In a way, it was universal.
3. Anything else you want to share?
I appreciate all those who have helped, including my family, reviewers, friends and my publisher.
Here is a part of what I wrote in a review of Wei's book: Wei is gifted at painting word pictures, like this one about her father's love of eating Chinese noodles: "One cannot try to substitute or improve upon a simple bowl of noodles that is steeped in the sauces of memory and culture." 
The paperback ($14) and kindle are available on Amazon

I will select the winner using on August 20 and the author will mail you your very own copy of her compelling memoir.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Potatoes in a Pail

This potato plant and its handsome green leaves prompts the question from people: what is that plant?
Yep, folks, potatoes are growing in a five gallon pail on our patio.
When the greenery turns yellow it is time to gently dig out the potatoes.
I posted about this a while back and how it makes me feel like a peasant woman when I harvest potatoes, and very connected to the earth.
I did not plant this batch but apparently I left a potato behind when I harvested last year.
For me planting in a pail has several advantages: the soil has excellent drainage and no gophers dine on them!
I also have a small potato plant growing in our garden in the soil, also a volunteer from an overlooked potato from the previous harvest. However, the pail plant is much more vigorous.
Just put holes in the bottom of a big container, I use a 5 gallon pail, and put in 5 inches of potting soil and a few (maybe 5 to8) potato starts. I bought organic Yukon Gold starts two years ago. Then cover with 3 inches of soil and when the leaves push through, add three more inches of soil, and keep doing this till the pail is full. The top layer should be about 5 inches of soil.
The blue potatoes interest me now. Maybe next season I will buy some.
I like with gardening that you can never know it all, and the choices of things to plant are limitless.
In answer to two questions: best planting time is spring or early summer, and in temperate climates with little or no freezes like where I live, you can plant in midsummer for a fall harvest. 
From 4 little potato sprouts in a pail you may get 20 medium to large potatoes, and some smaller ones too. One potato start can yield 20 or 30 potatoes, I plant extra starts to be sure some will succeed. If you plant lots of potato starts out in your garden you can see how you can harvest hundreds of potatoes.