Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Kind Note Found In a Book I Bought

I like to buy used books and always appreciate if there is some clue in them to a previous owner. I bought Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis at the near by Goodwill used book store. A blogger mentioned this book and then I read that Amis is compared as a comic writer to my favorite comedic author, P.G. Wodehouse so I grabbed the book. Not out of someone's hands, ha ha.
Isn't this note kind? "Geoff, Thanks for all you do. It's been a stressful year, so I hope you can unwind a bit with Lucky Jim and start the New Year on a happy note. To 2011. Mike."

Below is the snowman on the cover of the note.

Have you found intriguing inscriptions in used books you have bought?

Monday, December 24, 2018

For Unto Us a Child Is Born and my sweet lamb a friend made

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a son is given; And the government shall be upon his shoulders And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Below is my new addition to the nativity scene, a faithful white clay sheep made by a friend.

Isn't the sheep Diane made a cutie? The name I might give him is Happy. Or do you have a suggestion for a name?

At this holy season may God quiet you with his peace, comfort you with his presence, and bless you with his love.

Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho to All.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Do You Have Any Cooking for One Ideas

I can use some ideas for cooking dinner for one. This is new to me after 45 years of marriage and raising a family and cooking for four.
I had a good idea a few days ago; I bought a game hen from Trader Joes. I rubbed it with melted butter, stuffed it with a few lemon slices and fresh rosemary and a couple grapes, and put it in the oven on a baking sheet. It was done in about an hour. Actually I went out and took Bounce on a walk, and overcooked it a bit. The directions said done when temperature reaches 165 degree F, but it was 200 degree F. when I returned from our walk and took the game hen out of the oven. Still, it was moist and tasty.
I had the game hen that evening and the next night too, with asparagus. Bounce had plenty of hen tidbits to nibble on too.
I would appreciate if you have any other good ideas for cooking for one you would share here in the comments.
P.S. 12/12/18 Starting Over mentioned in her comment Hello Fresh. My son comes over after work once a month with either Hello Fresh or Blue Apron and he cooks us gourmet meals for three days. I like these services, but it would be too much food for one person, I think. I like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron a lot. The choices are fantastic, twice now we chose the grilling cheese meal with sweet potato, red onion, tomato and avocado.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas Book I Wrote: A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

"A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" is the first book I wrote. It is available on Amazon here 
A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

This book was a joy to write and it shines through in the words. I met my co-authors online, three of them live in Ohio and two in Texas, and me here in California. It contains snippets of cheer and time savers, recipes, Scripture about the birth of Jesus, family fun ideas, and faith-filled hints. We include outdoor activities, how to create a quiet place in a busy home by having a Santa chair, green thumb tips for Christmas and true stories of our Christmas firsts. One of us shares about the siblings she adopted and their first Christmas in their new home. I share about camping in the Everglades at Christmas.

Here is a review I read posted on Amazon; I don't know the reviewer but love what she wrote about my book:
"When I first saw this book I thought it would be something I would read in a few minutes. Instead I found myself lingering over the stories, enjoying the little known Christmas facts, and promising myself that I would try all the recipes. And yes, there are recipes. Truly a bonus. The pages are filled with personal stories that will touch your heart, and there are interesting facts that will have you thinking, "I never knew that." I've always loved the song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but I didn't know until I read this book that Mel Torme, who originally sang it, also wrote the song in forty minutes during a 1945 summer heat wave. I'll remember that every time I hear the song from now on.
This is a great book for any time of the year, and a perfect addition to any bookshelf."

This is a hardcover book with pretty illustrations on each page. If you buy a copy or already have a copy please review it on Amazon. Your reviews help.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Books that I have recently captured

These book were recently free range books but I captured them with my net and brought them home.
I am looking forward to reading them. I think they also captured me.
This novel "The Travelling Cat Chronicles" sounds charming and I hope it is and that no cat has been harmed and no old man harmed either. Arikawa wrote this novel about an old man in Japan traveling around the country with his cat. That is all I know about the plot thus far, no spoilers please. It is translated from the Japanese and the dust jacket promises Nana the cat and his owner Satoru "will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love." Doesn't this sound good?
This one I captured today at the local Goodwill store: dogs, memoir, disastrous second marriage, and written by the author of one of the best books I've ever read "Enchanted April." Actually I started reading this one, and it seems to be just about her dogs, which makes sense, according to its title "All the Dogs of My Life."
I am glad I found a dog book and a cat book, a balance that will please my dog and cat. By the way, my cat discovered the heated cat house I bought her beginning on Thanksgiving and she finds it very cozy.
I read Anne Perry's first two novels about the Pitts who investigate murders and I like the books a lot. Someone mentioned Perry writes a Christmas novel each year and I bought this one as a Christmas treat for myself. "That clever young aristocrat and budding sleuth Vespasia Cumming-Gould, ... investigates the tragedy that is to darken this lighthearted holiday house party",
For another treat I have no. 21 in the brilliant Rebus series by Ian Rankin. I am reading these in order, as per usual for me with series. Rebus is settling in to an uneasy retirement and is drawn into a long ago unsolved murder case. I  finished reading "Rather Be the Devil" yesterday and give it the five stars I usually give to the Rebus books. I am concerned about Rebus' health problem and will want to read the next book when it comes out. Also Rebus has a lady love, good for him.
Do you want to share any books you are looking forward to reading? Any Christmas treat books?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hope In Shadows and Wavy Mirrors

You might have noticed that I like to take photos of appealing shadows. Here are some from shadows on my patio, from a hanging flower pot and a wind chime.
The word "hope" is what caught my attention and my heart. This wind chime was given to me several years ago by a friend.
Can you see me in my butterfly hat in the mirror reflection? These are two bouquets in my kitchen, one from one of my sons who brought them to my house and one from me, to lift my spirits on the second anniversary of my hubby's death, on November 12. Flowers always get a smile from me. Do they have that effect on you?
I treated myself to the orange roses, an upbeat and unusual choice for me, and my older son surprised me with the gorgeous mixed flower bouquet. There are lavender roses in it, so pretty, and a favorite flower for me, oriental lilies.
The above shows my kitchen table last week with a different bouquet, as I wanted you to see my wavy mirrors. I saw these mirrors in my friend, Barbro's, home and wanted some for my house.
For my friends in the USA can Thanksgiving be here soon? I ordered a smoked turkey to be picked up on Thanksgiving day from the local BBQ restaurant. We had that last year and it was delicious.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fun book, unlikely friends and Heated Cat House

This is the story of Arthur, Mandy and Lucille, as they form a friendship which is surprising to all of them. Mandy is a hurting teen, Arthur is widowed from Nola, the love of his life, and Lucille is his lonely next door neighbor. Arthur, age 85, encounters Mandy in the cemetery where he visits his wife every day and where Mandy goes when she skips school. Arthur looks at cemetery grave stones and thinks he hears clearly glimpses of the buried people’s lives. Mandy playfully changes Arthur’s last name to Truluv, isn’t that charming? Together the three of them find their way forward in life. I am avoiding giving away plot details, but let me tell you, now I know why Berg is read by so many people. There is another book by her, "Night of Miracles" that has some of the same characters in it, and is a sequel, which I want to read.
You won't believe what I just did. I ordered a cat house with a heated floor for my cat who sleeps on my patio. The photo above is what the house looks like. I live in California so it is not all that cold but she is aging, like me, and the heated pad will be comfy for her, I hope. My sons and I think that my dog will take naps in it during the day. The pad only heats when a cat or dog sits on it, a clever feature. An important feature that I learned about when researching before buying is that a cat house needs front and back doors so your cat can not be trapped in it. Both doors are clear plastic and the back door only opens outwards.
I will post photos of my kitty in her new house in future, when she gets in. So far she is not interested or definitely cautious.
What's new at your house, in your life?
P.S. Added Nove. 24. My cat Fluffy discovered her heated cat house on Thanksgiving and slept in it that night and she finds it warm and cozy.

Friday, October 26, 2018

My lion fountain and some eerie lights

My son Lane came over and picked up the four heavy cement pieces for my lion fountain, set up the pump I bought, and voila, there is water coming out of the mouths of four lions.
We bought this fountain 15 or 20 years ago and had it running for years.
We stopped using it about five years ago and our handsome lion fountain has been resting scattered about the garden in the component pieces, and I am happy to have it running again. I love the gentle splashing sound of the water which is very relaxing.
Lane went to the pet store to buy a clear plastic hose for the pump and also surprised me and brought over 6 tiny goldfish who are living in the fountain now. As protection for the wee fishies I set up a dinner plate leaning on the central post, so they can shelter under it. He set up a timer so it goes on and off automatically at the times I chose, so it runs from noon until four. Since we are having a sunny October thus far, I keep my kitchen door open and can hear the water while I am in there, besides when I am on the patio.
For something that can be seen as pretty or as spooky take a look at these lights and shadows in my living room. The light source is the clear stained glass window at the top of my front door.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Pieces of Happiness, a novel

I haven't posted about books in a while, and I am a dedicated book reader, nay, book fanatic. Ha ha.

A book I think many of you would like is Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate, written by Anne Ostby and translated to English by one of her daughters. Five 66 year old school friends from Norway move to Fiji to the cocoa farm where one of them lives. They reinvent their lives and face hard times and fun times together. Will one of the ladies find romance with a local man? Some of the chapters are written with the point of view of Ateca, their all important Fijian house keeper who shows them the ropes of Fiji's customs and each of those chapters closes with a prayer from Ateca for "her ladies" and her teenage son. The author lived in Fiji and it seems very authentic; she lives in East Timor now.

The photo above is of a nearby Little Free Library, I visit these on my dog walks.
I quickly gave "Pieces of Happiness" to a neighborhood Little Free Library, gave 5 other books to the public library and then bought 3 books at the library used book store. All 3 are in series I am reading:
"Enter Sir Robert" by Angela Thirkell,  "Glass Houses" by Louise Penny, and "Dreaming Spies" by Laurie R. King. I can definitely buy books faster than I can read them. I won't even mention my Kindle books waiting to be read! I haven't looked to see how many of them I have.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Nice surprises in September

I had some nice surprises and also joined a new group in September. One nice surprise occurred as I was standing in line to buy two tickets to a local Follies show when a lady walked up and handed me two free tickets. How cool is that! I have attended the yearly Follies song and dance show for five years or so and it was founded 50 years ago.
Two of my friends sing and dance in it so that makes it extra fun. The auditions and rehearsals are very thorough. The song and dance numbers included "Pretty Woman", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Don't Be Cruel", "What Now My Love", "Love Me Tender", "Inka Dinka", "I Gotta Be Me" and many more for a total of forty songs.
All that and we had free seats.
I went to a fund raiser tea on Saturday, Sept. 22 and it was very lively. Some of us, including me, wore hats and one lady looked like a regal Victorian lady in her hat and clothes. Here are some photos of the food tables. There were about 8 tables of food including the traditional cucumber sandwiches and scones and in the first table you can see the delicious home made lemon curd.

The above two photos show friendship and companionship. The fundraiser is for a group that takes home bound seniors out for afternoons of fun and lunch. It allows care givers to have 5 or 6 hours off from their work of caring.
The new group I joined is one for widows that just formed at our church and was created by two widows. We had our first meeting on Sunday which featured a delicious free lunch in the church coffee house and eleven ladies got to know each other a bit. The theme for the group will be that we need not do this life alone. Amen to that. The ages ranged from 60 to 85. I didn't know any of the gals beforehand so I pushed myself to go and am glad I did.
We are looking for a name for the group, do you have any ideas? I suggested "Wild wacky widows" and another gal suggested "Wild wonderful widows." We want to convey widows and upbeat fun times. Ideas for a name welcome.

Monday, September 17, 2018

My garden flowers and gardens as autobiography

"A garden wall without a climbing rose, or a well-trained peach, is as meaningless to a gardener as a blank canvas is to an artist." Daniel Frogg, garden designer, 1955.
Or, I might add, a climbing flowering vine such as my purple clematis.
I planted this two inch tall Jackmani clematis in February 2018 and it is 5 feet tall now.
The same day I planted a periwinkle blue clematis, which remains 2 inches tall and has not had a flower yet. I have hopes for next season for it.
I have long thought that the books on our shelves and the plants we choose for our gardens have a touch of autobiography in them. For example, my gardens and stacks of books are not very neat, which expresses something about me. I prefer the creative and artistic aspects of gardening to house cleaning, which continually needs to be repeated. I have a book in my collection with a title I love, "A Gentle Plea for Chaos".
I have a statue of the Virgin Mary in my garden which I bought years ago with money I earned from my writing, a treat for me. My younger son gave me a Buddha statue so Buddha and Mary reside in my garden in peaceful harmony.

I like plants that birds, bees and butterflies like. Yes I do like all creatures great and small. Except for gophers and snails and slugs. Even garden snakes and bats are welcome in my garden.
Here is a quote to this point: "A garden that one makes oneself becomes associated with one's personal history and that of one's friends, interwoven with one's tastes, preferences and character, and constitutes a sort of unwritten, but withall manifest, autobiography. Show me your garden, provided it be your own, and I will tell you what you are like." From "The Gardens that I Love" by Alfred Austin, 1835-1913.

Above is my orange clock vine, a vigorous vine which quickly reached six feet tall on the fence and ten feet wide, and then spreads along the ground covering an additional five foot square area. I do love flowering shrubs and trees, including my lilac, 3 hydrangeas, 3 clematis, Strawberry tree and Red magnolia, soon to be joined by one or two camellias. I have a large old Cantua, the national flower of Chile, which my friend who moved here from Chile ordered for me. When she was a child in Chile a Cantua bloomed outside her second story bedroom.

I have small sculptures in my garden, yes, I like happy and pretty things. Smiling stylized suns hanging on the fence, including the one in the above photo, with jasmine growing up to it. Of course a bird bath and bird feeders. I could go on but don't want to bore you. Do you think your garden expresses a bit of who you are?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What Bounce and I are doing in September

Do you see Bounce's feet in his new snuggly bed?
I need help; Bounce is chewing up and tearing up his new bed. Do you have suggestions for a new stronger bed for him? I saw K-9 Ballistics and Chew Guard Beds, have you used them or other beds?
Above photo is to show me in one of my many hats, since I mention wearing hats in this post. This was taken in April 2017 with two of my sweet friends, Terry and Wei, celebrating my birthday on the patio of a favorite restaurant.
                                               SEPTEMBER FUN
On another note I realize that September is offering me quite a few events to attend. My church is starting a new group this month, with a luncheon for widows. This is a group no one wants to be in, being a widow, but I am excited to meet some people in the same sometimes leaky boat. These are people I can be honest with and tell them I am sad, which I sometimes/often am.
I signed up to go to a luncheon which is a benefit for a local group that takes seniors who are home bound out to lunch and to events. We can wear fun hats to the lunch, which I like. I am a hat lady. They protect our skin from the sun and I have quite an array of pretty ones.
Bible study is starting again once a week and this session is 10 weeks of reading the Psalms and the book we will use, "Discovering Hope in the Psalms" has pages to color in it. I have crayons and pencils at the ready.
The Senior Follies is this month too, and I have gone about 5 years in a row. Two of my friends sing and dance in it and they are very talented.
Oh, and the local Greek festival at their church on September 7-9, I love the food and music. Plus across the street is a book sale to benefit the public library. How convenient is that? Food and music and words to feed the mind, body and soul.
Is your September busy too?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Poems in my neigbhor's yard and my husband

The photo above is of a poetry holder in my neighbor's yard. Isn't that a brilliant idea? He or she changes the poems about once a month and they are always a treat to read as Bounce and I take our walks.
Below is a favorite poem, not from the neighbor's posting, but one I like. Today would have been my husband Will's 71st birthday and I am thinking of him and how his candle glowed amidst the winds of life.

I know that I have life
​​​​​​​only insofar as I have love.
​​​​​​​I have not love
​​​​​​​except it comes from Thee.
​​​​​​​Help me, please, to carry
​​​​​​​this candle against the Wind.
written by ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Wendell Berry

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cat napping, bureau I painted and star gazer lily, all on patio

Here is my cat Fluffy napping on my patio near a large zucchini from my garden, a star gazer lily growing in a pot, and the bureau I painted. Just things from my days on the patio.
The above photo shows the old bureau which looks fine as knotty pine but heirloom white fits with the bed frame and nightstand so I did a painting project and changed the color to white.

Note in the second photo above the can of Rustoleum Heirloom White satin spray paint for the top coat (I used two cans) and the Zinsser 123 Bulls Eye water based Primer (I used half a quart, with brush and roller and several coats). Both of these dried quickly and the spray paint gave a nice smooth coat. Before I began I used tack cloth which I had not used before and it seems a great thing to use before painting as it picks up tiny things which would mar the paint.
Above is the completed bureau which was knotty pine before.
I have had these lilies several years growing in a pot on my patio, I think they are star gazer lilies.
Flowers always get me to smile, what about you? I hope you like these lilies.
P.S. For you who noticed my previous post about my root canal, the follow up visit was gentle and no pain afterward. With the first root canal appointment when the roots/nerves were removed I was in pain afterward and stayed home for three days. The pain pills were to take every eight hours and they only worked for three hours, ouch. I also could take one or two Tylenol, and in addition took antibiotics for 7 days to prevent infection. The good news is I feel great now!