Friday, July 29, 2011

No time...

to do a proper post today.  I am up early, off to a doctor's appointment, then home to make some yummy pasta salad, then pack, then head out for one last travel weekend of the summer.  This is the last weekend of a busy but beautiful July filled with fun travel around our beautiful state.  August is going to be a lot of enjoying the lazy days of summer around home.  I love both!
I saw this online and I loved it so much I just had to post it.  Ta ta for today!  Be back soon with picks of my Can-O-Rama!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prayers and Projects


It is hard to think about, but life can change in an instant.  I have been reminded of this in a big way through three different family tragedies.  These people all need our prayers.  Two are families in my church and one is someone who is close to my husband and his family.  Please pray for Steve DeYoung and his family.  Mary DeYoung, wife, mother, Hope College professor, and an all-around wonderful person died after a shocking diagnosis and brief battle with cancer.  Please pray for her family to find comfort in the face of this terrible loss.  Please pray for Chloe Holland-Anderson and her family.  Four-year old Chloe was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment at DeVos Children's Hospital.  Please pray for Chloe's recovery and for strength for her mom and dad and siblings, doctors, and nurses as they battle along with her.  Please pray for Dr. Coroneous and his wife.  Mrs. Coroneous recently suffered a fall which resulted in a severe neck-spine injury.  She is miraculously not permanently paralyzed (she was temporarily) and continues to recover at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.  Please pray for her full recovery.

Life changes in an instant.  I pray that I can remember to live each day to its fullest, to be grateful for all that I have and enjoy in my life, and that God will continue to guide me to do what is right and good.


Projects are part of summer for me.  It is part of being a teacher.  Summer means time off, and time to get things done!  One of the projects that has been on my list for a few summers was to paint the downstairs half bathroom in our house.  The room had originally been painted a dark red color.  Not a bad color, but they chose a flat latex paint (why???) and so every water spot showed, and then when I tried to scrub the walls, they ended up streaky and chalky looking.  Sounds attractive, doesn't it?  I wanted to paint it a bold, dark color, but I couldn't decide.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I was reading a home decorating magazine and there was a section of paint palates that decorators were recommending.  I found my paint color: Old Navy, by Benjamin Moore.  I LOVE Benjamin Moore paints, and this color was perfect.  I raced to the paint store and started my project.



It is REALLY hard to take a picture of a room this small.  I don't know how they do it in magazines.  I guess that's why they are called "Professional Photographers."  A special thank you to the Darling Husband for taking down the mirror, towel bar, and toilet paper holder as well as taking the tank off the back of the toilet, and then for moving the mirror, installing a new light fixture (I couldn't get a picture of that, as I am not a "Professional Photographer" but trust me - the old one was hideous and the new one is quite cool.) and reinstalling the towel bar and toilet paper holder and for putting the toilet back together.  I couldn't have done it without him!  Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Up next: CAN-O-RAMA
I am canning Holiday Cherries and Peach & Cilantro Salsa.  Both recipes come from this sweet new book I ordered.  I will let you know how things turn out...
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry [Book]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Reading

I have read a couple of really good books this summer that I want to tell you about.  It was May and I was in Barnes and Noble, perusing the mystery section (my favorite genre!) and I saw a book with an interesting cover.  (I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but I totally do.  If I ever write a book, it had better have an AWESOME cover.)  I picked it up because of its cool cover.  I liked the way it felt in my hands. (Another reason why I will never have a Kindle unless I become a world traveller and cannot carry all of the books I want with me...)  I read the comments on the cover.  It was a New York Times Bestseller.  It was an Edgar Award Winner.  It got a great review from The Washington Post.  It was published by Penguin. (I am partial to their books.)  I checked out the back cover.  More awards.  Brief description sounded good.  I bought it.  This was at the end of May, and since school was still in full swing with senior grades due right around the corner I knew I wouldn't be able to start it until school ended.  I read it in June and it was AMAZING!

The plot was intriguing, the characters were beguiling, and the writing was excellent.  Two thumbs way, way up for In the Woods.  I stayed up late to finish it, and then I raced out the next morning to buy the second book in the series.  I devoured it as well.

Tana French does something interesting with these books.  While they are a series, each book has a different narrator.  In the first book, Rob and Cassie are detectives in Ireland on the Murder Squad.  They are investigating the murder of a 12-year old girl.  Rob is the narrator.  In the second book, Cassie takes an undercover job to investigate the murder of a young woman and she is the narrator.  The story in The Likeness is very different from In the Woods.  Each is a stand alone novel.  There are a few references to things and characters from the first book in the second.  If you had not read the first book the references in the second would just seem vague; if you have read the first book then the references are filled with meaning.  While you can read the second without having read the first, I think it is better to read them in order.  (I am a devoted in-order-mystery-series-reader for the most part.)  I finished the second book on the 4th of July sitting on the beach and then read the first chapter of the third book which was printed at the end of the second book.  Love the teasers!  I raced out the next day and bought the third.

The narrator in the third book is Frank, an undercover cop who was a character in the second novel.  I decided that I love these books so much that I didn't want to race right through the third.  Sometimes I appreciate an author more if I haven't read her in a bit.  So, I put The Faithful Place on the shelf and started another old favorite, a Martha Grimes Chief Inspector Richard Jury novel.  Oh, do I love these books and Richard Jury.  Now, having just told you that I like to read mystery series books in order, I am reading this one - the latest by Martha Grimes - out of order.

I started reading Martha Grimes' Inspector Richard Jury books back in 1992.  Back then I didn't have kids and I worked in retail (no papers to grade), which meant I could check out six mystery novels from the library each month and read them all.  Sigh.  Those were the reading days!  I read a lot of the Richard Jury novels, but then fell away from them.  I am not sure where I left off in the series.  Reading The Black Cat has reinvigorated my love for the Richard Jury series.  I went to a used book store today and bought all of the Richard Jury books they had, which included: The Five Bells and Bladebone, The Blue Last, Jerusalem Inn, The Anodyne Necklace, and The Stargazey.  Each of the books titles is the name of a pub in England and plays a role in the novel.  I am pretty sure that I have read The Anodyne Necklace before, as it is nearer to the beginning of the series, but it has been so long since I read it and I got buy two get the third free, so I figured I could read it again.  The Black Cat is number 22 in the series.  I want to read them all again! (Go here to see all of the titles and covers.)  I also picked up two non-mysteries, Between, Georgia, by Joshlilyn Jackson (love her Southern Gothic style books) and The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad, which I know nothing about.  It is described as "The most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist..."  Because I know so little about Afghanistan, and because it is so important in our current world picture, I thought this sounded interesting.

As I write, it has clouded over a bit.  The Oldest Son is at work.  The Tiny Dancer is with her dad.  The Youngest Son is at his mom's house.  The Darling Husband is on his way across Lake Michigan on a sailboat to prepare the boat to race in the Chicago to Mackinac race.  All is quiet here.  I think it is time for a glass of iced tea and a little Richard Jury.  Happy summer reading!

Yikes!  Just as I was about to post this I heard a huge thump on my deck outside the kitchen where I am sitting writing this post.  I jumped.  As I said, it was very quiet here.  All of a sudden a big black dog came clomping up my deck steps.  By the time I started to get up and say hello, he clomped off again.  Now I hear some voices calling for him.  If you are looking for a black lab mix with a blue collar, he just ran thataway...