Archive for January, 2009

25 Things

My sister sent me this thing on Facebook where you are supposed to list 25 random things about yourself.  Well I am a dork and can’t figure facebook out so I am posting it here.  If you are a facebooker and want to play along, feel free.  If you are a blogger, play along too!  Just post a link back here if you do so I can check out your random things!

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I am claustrophobic.  Sometimes I get the heebie-jeebies from wearing shoes to long.

2. I say “GOLLY MOLLY” real loud after I sneeze.

3. I killed a copperhead snake all by myself this past fall.  It was by my foot and I didn’t like it.

4. I have 3 english mastiff dogs.  The smallest is 115 pound and the biggest is 180 pounds.  They all sleep inside.

5. I’ve been married for 8 ½ years to Richie.  He’s a goofball.

6. My cat Eggnog is like my child.  Every time I meet someone new I want to whip out the pictures and start bragging on him.

7. I have 4 chickens.

8. I built my hen house all by myself! I even designed it!

9. My idol is Laura Ingalls Wilder.

10. I LOVE to read!

11. I probably have come dangerously close to pushing my sister in the Quechee Gorge more times than my mother would care to know while exploring the woods and property around my childhood home in Vermont. (HEHE – just kidding! I couldn’t resist!)

12. My sister is my bestest friend.

13. I know that “Funions” look like nasty worms if you float them in the pond and then come back a day later.

14. My husband and I were supposed to go to China – FOR FREE – but I freaked out and cancelled the trip at the last minute.  I don’t regret it.

15. I had a fetal shark in a jar until Friday when one of my kindergarteners dropped it and it broke.

16. I like to dip oreo cookies into cream cheese frosting and then eat them with milk.

17. I dip my french fries in mayonnaise.

18. My husband and I like to sing really loud to old songs on the radio.  Especially when we have kids from school with us.  Then Richie never knows the words so he just makes them up.  The kids think we are freaks!

19. I LOVE to cook and would like to go to culinary school someday.

20. I handmade almost all of the Christmas presents I gave this year.  Next year I am doing 100% handmade. (I’ve already started).

21. I am constantly counting in my head.  I count everything I see.  I think I have a problem.

22. I too have kissed Ryan Gagnon.

23. I would like to open a store called “50 States” and sell cool products from all 50 states.

24. I HATE eight graders.  Not the kids themselves, just the fact that they are 8th graders.

25. I once saw a dead body on the side of the road but it turned out to be a naked lady that was alive and then chased my car down the road when I told her I had called the cops for help.  The strangest part was that when I told people about it they asked if it was Penny, Susan, or the “old” lady.  Apparently it is all the rage in my town, population 198, to run around naked!

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Candy Coated

 I sometimes miss the frosty windows of my childhood with the little leaf-like, jagged cliff shaped designs on them.  Jack Frost never seemed to miss an evening of painting little pictures on to the cold glass.  Some mornings, after a particularly wet snow, the tree branches would bend and droop seemingly with the weight of the world on their shoulders.  The air was always cold, so we got used to it.  Mittens, gloves, and heavy coats layered over sweaters and long underwear was the uniform of the season.  The jangle of ski-lift tickets hanging from a zipper pull was the song of the season.  Wet socks, boots and melty puddles of ice and snow on the mudroom floor was the sight of the season.  It was winter after all!

When winter layed her blanket of white over Vermont you knew it was there to stay a while.  Sure there would be the occasional glimpses of brown and broken grass beneath the snow but then the clouds would once again roll in carrying more of the fluffy covering.  There was no turning back once Winter arrived in all her glory.

In Arkansas, Winter very rarely visits.  There are times when her distant cousin will give us a glimpse of the fairy tale creature that is Winter.  A dusting of snow, a spattering of ice, a chill in the air that your jean jacket can barely block out.  Yet when Winter’s cousin makes her appearance, the whole world seems to stop.  A single flake of snow sends small children to the moon with excitement.  The mere threat of ice closes schools and causes endless lines at the grocery.

I sometimes miss the frosty windows of my childhood but there is something to be said for the candy coated foliage following an Arkansas Winter storm.

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December Reading List

About two years ago I came across a Book Journal.  Basically it was a notebook with spaces to list the Title, Author and plot of a book along with the readers thoughts or reactions to the book.  I thought this was a really interesting concept.  I love to read.  I have read countless books in my lifetime many of which I probably don’t remember.  When it comes to journaling I just am not real good at it.  To pick up a notebook and a pen and write stuff down just isn’t fun for me.  However, blogging is something I enjoy.  It is reflective and also allows me to keep up with my family which is spread across the country.  My blog became the perfect place to start a book Journal. 

Back in June I made my first reading list post.  Since then I have read 37 books and I will be adding 10 books today.  It is really neat to be able to look back and see all of these books I have read.  Reading is a wonderful hobby.  Reading is an active mental process that helps to improve vocabulary, memory and concentration, and creativity.  It can decress stress and aide in relaxation.  Reading can also give you a glimpse into other cultures and time periods.  It gives you something to talk about.

I hope that you find my book lists interesting and helpful.  I hope you find something you can enjoy reading.  I also encourage you to start keeping a reading journal or to blog about the books you read.  Share what you learn.  If you do happen to blog about reading, please contact me with a link to your blog.  I would love to see what you have read.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this months reading selections.

*****   A Courier & Ives Christmas

The artistry of renowned lithographers Currier & Ives captures the beauty and nostalgia of simpler days and Christmases past. Yet, while a picture may be worth a thousand words, there are times when even the best illustrations leave viewers with a yearning to know more. Inspired by the classic American art of Currier & Ives, these seasonal love stories delve deep inside the artists’ portrayals to imagine and illustrate the untold tales behind each wintry scene. Look beyond the art to discover the heartwarming stories of holiday love of yesteryear in A Currier & Ives Christmas.

I truly enjoyed this collection of 4 short stories.  All the stories were set in the 1800’s and investigated different walks of life.  The stories were romantic and heartwarming.  All four stories were based around the Christmas season but would make a great read on any cold wintry night.

 *** The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories by Joan Aiken

This is the first complete collection of Joan Aiken’s beloved Armitage stories—and it includes four new, unpublished stories. After Mrs. Armitage makes a wish, the Armitage family has “interesting and unusual” experiences every Monday (and the occasional Tuesday). The Board of Incantation tries to take over their house to use as a school for young wizards; the Furies come to stay; and a cutout from a cereal box leads into a beautiful and tragic palace garden. Charming and magical, the uncommon lives of the Armitage family will thrill and delight readers young and old. Includes Joan Aiken’s “Prelude” from Armitage, Armitage, Fly Away Home, as well as introductions from Joan Aiken’s daughter, Lizza Aiken, and best-selling author Garth Nix. Illustrated by Andi Watson

This book was enjoyable and the stories were cute, funny, strange and interesting.  Some of the British slang was a little confusing at times.  Because the short stories are able to stand on their own I found it difficult to keep coming back to this book.  Though well written, it didn’t captivate me.

  *** Cassandra’s Sister: Growing Up Jane Austen by Veronica Bennett

Young Jane — or Jenny, as she is called — is a girl with a head full of questions. Surrounded by her busy parents and brothers, Jenny finds a place for her thoughts in the companionship of her older sister, Cassandra. Theirs is a country life full of balls and visits, at which conversation inevitably centers on one topic: marriage. But the arrival of their worldly-wise cousin disrupts Jenny’s world, bringing answers to some of her questions and providing a gem of an idea. Veronica Bennett invites us into a society where propriety and marriage rule hand in hand, a milieu in which Jenny finds inspiration to write the masterpieces PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY — a world where a clever young girl will one day become the beloved Jane Austen.

I picked up this book because I had loved reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice a few years ago.  I thought it would be interesting to read another authors take on the life of Jane Austen.  Again this was a book that I just had a hard time getting into.  The story just didn’t grab me from the beginning.  After I was able to get into it more the book was enjoyable.  I prefer however to be involved in the book right from the beginning.

 **** The Christmas Theif – Mary and Carol Higgins Clark

The folks who picked a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce from Stowe, Vermont, to be Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree don’t have a clue that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, hid priceless diamonds in it more than twelve years ago. But when Packy learns that his special tree will be heading to New York City the next morning, he knows he has to act fast.

What Packy does not know is that Alvirah, everyone’s favorite lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and savvy private investigator Regan Reilly are visiting Stowe with their friend Opal, who lost all her lottery winnings in Packy’s scam. And just when they’re supposed to head home, they learn that the tree is missing . . . and that Opal has disappeared.

I found this to be an enoyable although predictable read.  The book was able to keep my attention but the ending was pretty easy to figure out.  It was a cute story centered around christmas, snow, money and greed.

 **** The Shack – Wm. Paul Young

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

This book was really interesting and thought provoking.  I didn’t know really anything about the book before reading it except that it had become very popular.  I read this book in a little less than a day.  The story was so strange and fascinating that I couldn’t put it down.  I needed to know what was going to happen next.  In the end I still can’t say that I “liked” the book but I also know that I want to share it with other people.

  ***** The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight “misunderstanding” at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost. Equal parts hilarious, poignant, suspenseful, and thrilling, David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischiefand shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.

Quite different than the thrillers Baldacci is know for this book was an amazing read.  It was fast paced and romantic with a little mystery and suspense added in. This was one of my favorite reads of the month!

  **** Finding Noel – Richard Paul Evens

Finding Noel is about how people come into our lives for a reason. It is a love story about Macy and Mark, two young people from different worlds.

This is a heartwarming story about love, loss and family.  You won’t want to put it down until you are done. 




 *****  The Locket – Richard Paul Evens

After the death of his mother, Michael Keddington finds employment at the Arcadia nursing home where he befriends Esther, a reclusive but beautiful elderly woman who lives in mourning for her youth and lost love.

Michael faces his own challenges when he loses his greatest love, Faye. When Michael is falsely accused of abusing one of the Arcadia’s residents, he learns important lessons about faith and forgiveness from Ester — and her gift to him of a locket, once symbolic of one person’s missed opportuninites, becomes another’s second chance.

This was one of the heartfelt and romantic stories I have read in a long time.  The book was filled with romance mixed with drama and mystery.  This is a truely touching story.

*****  Hattie Big Sky – Kirby Larson

Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle’s homesteading claim.
For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie’s been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends–especially Charlie, fighting in France–through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a “Loyal” American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie’s determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

This pioneering story is loosely based on the story of the author’s great-grandmother.  Set during the War time this story touches on some of the prejudices of the individuals of the time who viewed themselves as “real” and “loyal” Americans.  I found myself cheering with Hattie throughout the entire book as she works to stake her claim in the American west.

  **** Dakota Born – Debbie Macomber

Buffalo Valley, North Dakota. Like so many small Midwest towns, it’s dying. Stores are boarded up, sidewalks cracked, houses need a coat of paint. But despite all that, there’s a spirit of hope here, of defiance. The people still living in Buffalo Valley are fighting for their town.

Lyndsay Snyder is a newcomer. She’s an outsider, even though she spent childhood vacations here. Now she returns to see the family house again, to explore family secrets and to reevaluate her life.

To her own astonishment, she decides to stay, to accept the vacant position of teacher. Her decision marks a new beginning for Buffalo Valley and for Lyndsay, who discovers in this broken little town the love and purpose she’s been seeking.

I picked up this book on a whim when I saw it in Walmart.  I had heard of Debbie Macomber before but I had never read any of her books.  Labeled as “Women’s Fiction” I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I found was a cute story about love and small town politics.  As the first book in the trilogy I feel as if some of the characters were not quite fully developed.  Perhaps in the next two books?  I really enjoyed this read and have already ordered the second and third installments.

Well, there you have it!  I hope you consider reading some of these books in the near future.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these books you can buy them from my Amazon store by clicking here or by clicking the pictures of the books listed above.  Until next month, happy reading!

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