Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Well this was an interesting month for reading.  I had some bummer books and some really fabulous reads!  After some reader suggestions, in this months reading list you will see a few changes.  First, I will give a little blurb about what each book is about.  Secondly, I will rate each book on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars.  Please keep in mind though that we all have different opinions and you may love something that I hated.

If you have any suggestions for books you would like me to read and review please leave a comment or email me.  If I can find the book at the local bookstore or my library I will give it a try.

**1/2 Drowning Ruth – Christina Shwarz

Drowning Ruth was an interesting and quick read.  Taking place in 1919 this book tells the story of a woman and her sister and the secrets that bind them together.  Love, death, lust, sorrow and happiness spin throughout this story and keep you wondering until the end what really did happen.  The story will keep you on your toes. 

I found the constant switching between characters to be a little confusing at times but it was an interesting story.


* While I was Gone – Sue Miller

Jo Becker has every reason to be content. She has three dynamic daughters, a loving marriage, and a rewarding career. But she feels a sense of unease. Then an old housemate reappears, sending Jo back to a distant past when she lived in a communal house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Drawn deeper into her memories of that fateful summer in 1968, Jo begins to obsess about the person she once was. As she is pulled farther from her present life, her husband, and her world, Jo struggles against becoming enveloped by her past and its dark secret.

I did not enjoy this book much at all.  The story was long winded, predictable and just did not hold my interest.  I struggled greatly to get through this book.

****1/2 My Antonia – Willa Cather

The moving portrait of an orphan boy and immigrant girl who find hardship — and love — on the American prairie.

That really describes it well.  I can not believe I have not read this book before!  I love books about this American Prairie yet for some reason it never before occurred to me to read this American Classic.  The story is refreshing and well told.  Being told from the male perspective offers a different twist to many of the pioneer tales out there.  I loved this book and read it cover to cover in a day!


*** Stone Creek – Victoria Lustbader

In the small town of Stone Creek, a random encounter offers two lonely people a chance at happiness. Danny, a young widower, and Lily who has left her workaholic husband back in the city meet and find solace and respite in each other upsetting a precarious balance between joy and despair, between what cannot happen . . . and what must.

A well written and interesting story, although somewhat predictable.  I enjoyed this book as a fun summer read.  There were a few sexually explicit scenes and some language that I found unnecessary.

****1/2 Still Life with Chickens – Catherine Goldhammer

In this beautifully written and frequently funny memoir, Catherine Goldhammer, newly separated, along with her twelve-year-old daughter, starts life anew in a cottage by the sea, in a rustic town where live bait is sold from vending machines. Partly to please her daughter and partly for reasons not clear to her at the time, she begins this year of transition by purchasing six baby chickens—whose job, she comes to suspect, is to pull her and her daughter forward out of one life and into another. An unforgettable story filled with hope and grace, Still Life with Chickens shows how transcendent wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places.

I found this book very charming!


***** Little Heathens – Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Little Heathens offers a loving but realistic portrait of a “hearty-handshake Methodist” family that gave its members a remarkable legacy of kinship, kindness, and remembered pleasures. Recounted in a luminous narrative filled with tenderness and humor, Kalish’s memoir of her childhood shows how the right stuff can make even the bleakest of times seem like “quite a romp.”
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! I think this was my favorite of the month and one of the best of the summer!  The stories were quick, cute and captivating.  There were so many great tips, recipes and ideas all mixed into this beautiful memoir.  The ONLY drawback was that the author assumes that the reader has never tasted home-grown veggies, used an outhouse, or slept in a bed made with sheets that hung on a clothesline.  I think with the current green/sustainable living trend a lot more people have done these things than the author gives credit to.  That being said it was a very lovely book.


***** MaryJanes Farm Magazine

MaryJanes Farm magazine now comes out 6 times a year!  Each issue is jam packed with all kinds of green living tips, sewing and crafting projects, gardening ideas and etc.  This months issue even has plans to build a fantastic green house for less than $150!

Click the picture to find out how you can subscribe or to order back issues.

Read Full Post »

The Calling of Emily Evans – Janette Oke

 Julia’s Last Hope – Janette Oke

 Roses for Mama – Janette Oke

 Big Stone Gap – Adrianan Trigiani

 Big Cherry Holler – Adrianna Trigiani

 Wish You Well – David Baldacci

 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

 Julia’s Chocolates – Cathy Lamb

 MaryJane’s Outpost – MaryJane Butters

 The Quilter’s Homecoming – Jennifer Chiaverini

This was my reading list for the month of June.  MaryJane’s Outpost was an excellent book full of crafts, projects and recipes.  My favorite read would have to be the Quilter’s Homecoming.  My least favorite was the Memory Keeper’s Daughter. 

You can purchase the books listed above through my Amazon store by clicking here or by clicking on the individual pictures above. 


Read Full Post »

MaryJanes Outpost was my most recent read and it was fabulous!  Just released last week I have ooh’d and ahh’d over this book since Wednesday.  This book is all about enjoying the great outdoors!  If you like camping, fishing, hiking, or just enjoy being outside than you will truly enjoy this book.  It is filled with ideas, how-to’s, recipes and all kinds of helpful information.

In the year 2000 after I spent my first summer in Arkansas I thought I was going to die! Having been raised in New England where the days may be in the 90’s with no humidity and the nights often got into the low 50’s this deal of the temperature NEVER dropping below 75 about did me in.  But the truth is I have come to love the summers here and spending time outdoors is something I love to do. 

Earlier this summer I built a chicken coop and started a compost pile.  Currently I am working to build a fairly good sized raised bed garden for next season.  I should have it ready enough to plant some garlic this fall and put in a good crop of lettuce before years end. 

I have also really become interested in the concept of “outdoor living” where you create spaces outside that are just as comfortable and enjoyable as your own living room.  One concept that never really crossed my mind until I read “Outpst” was that of bathing outdoors.  Not until I came across the Instructions for an Outpost Bathtub anyways!  I’m not gonna share the directions-you’ll have to buy the book for that-but here is a picture of what I want to make.

I have an old cast-iron tub in the barn that will be just perfect for this little project.  It needs some major cleaning and some refinishing but by fall I will have an Outpost Bathtub!

To purchase this book please click here!

Read Full Post »

I just finished this most amazing book that my friend Dee lent me. 

This book is a compilation of some of the stories told in the booths of the StoryCorps project.  The idea behind StoryCorps is to preserve American history through the spoken word of common everyday Americans.  StoryCorps has several permanent booths and several travelling booths around the country.  You can take someone to a booth and for 40 minutes you get to share your story, whatever it is!  The booth is equipped with microphones to record your story.  At the end of the time you get a CD copy of what you recorded.  A second copy is placed in the Library of Congress.

The stories in the book are funny, emotional, heartbreaking and heart warming.  This is truly one of the most inspirational books I have read in a long time.  This book will make you want to preserve the memory of your own family.

The stories can also be heard every Friday morning on NPR or you can link to the podcast from the StoryCorps website.

In the back of the book are some questions for you to consider that will help you preserve the memory of you and your family.  Look for me to answer these questions in several of your upcoming posts.

Read Full Post »

I am a few days late on this post. (You know how life gets in the way sometimes?) But I couldn’t go on without posting a special Happy Birthday message to “Pa” also known as Charles Ingalls and his first daughter Mary! 

Charles and Caroline Ingalls 

Charles Ingalls was born on January 10, 1836 in Cuba, New York.  When Charles was still a boy his family left New York and moved westward to the Campton Township which was just west of the area that is now know as Elgin, Illinois.  This move instilled in “Pa” and “itching foot” that kept the family moving.  His marriage to Caroline Quiner in 1860 began in Wisconsin and they lived there about 8 years before moving to the Indian Territory in Kansas.  Unfavorable circumstances in the Indian Territory kept the family moving and they moved back to Wisconsin, to southern Minnesota, to Iowa for a year and then back to Minnesota.  The family was struggling in Minnesota and a job opportunity in the Dakota Territory presented itself.  Caroline was supportive but asked Charles to promise this would be their last move.  She was fearful her children would not receive a proper education.  Charles agreed and the family settled in De Smet, South Dakota where Pa eventually died and was buried in 1902. Charles Ingalls died of heart disease at the age of 66.

Mary Ingalls

Mary Ingalls, the first child of Charles and Caroline shares her fathers birthday! She was born on January 10, 1865 in Pepin, Wisconsin.  Mary lived the life of a typical child on the Prairie until the age of 14.  Laura’s books describe an incident where Mary became quite ill with “scarlet fever” and “stroke”.  The illness eventually caused permanent blindness in Mary.  Mary and her family, who supported her love for education, saved money and she attended the Iowa College for the Blind from 1881 to 1889.  After graduation, Mary returned to South Dakota where she lived with her parents until their deaths.  The television series Little House on the Prairie depicted Mary as having married a blind man and eventually opening a school for the blind.  This was a fictional representation as the real Mary Ingalls never married.  She died at the age of 63 from pneumonia and a stroke.  She is buried near her parents in De Smet, South Dakota.

Prairie life certainly was not an easy one.  Fortunately, Laura Ingalls Wilder realized that the nation was changing and prairie life was becoming a thing of the past.  Laura’s journals, books and extensive collection of letters have helped to preserve the memory of not only the Ingalls but of the many brave and courageous settlers whom, against all odds, participated in Westward Expansion. 

Images taken from www.wikipedia.com.  Information stated was gathered from www.wikipedia.com, the Little House on the Prairie Books, and personal research of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s memoir, letters and biographies.

Read Full Post »

My friend Tina and her husband Paul are producing a WONDERFUL on-line magazine called Small Town Living.  This magazine comes out every other month and is full of all kinds of wonderful stories, tutorials, travel information, farming news and so on.  This months edition contains articles on pumpkin carving, the benefits of bats, making natural dyes and much much more!

If you have not yet had the privilege of reading this great magazine I highly suggest that you do.  You can view it at www.stliving.net and best of all it is 100% FREE!  Paul and Tina would really like to go to a print version within the next year. If you like what you read, PLEASE pass it on to a friend, blog about it, talk about it, do what you can so we can help them make their dream a reality!

 P.S. Just as a side note – I wrote an article about my parents bed and breakfast, the Orchard House, and it appeared in the Dec 06/Jan 07 issue of Small Town Living.  So check it out while you are reading all of the other really great issues.

Read Full Post »


Zines are like magazines only a little smaller and they are usually independently written and published. CROQ zine is probably my favorite! It is ” For Crafter. By Crafters.” and every issue is chock full of crafty goodness.  At only $4.00 these little issues are well worth the price. Each issue contains article on relevent issues for crafters, tutorials for craft projects, recipes, funny stories and lots of other stuff.  You can order CROQ online at www.croqzine.com or www.croq.etsy.com .   The new October issue should be out any day now. All back issues are also available for order.  

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »