And One More for Good Measure

The Elegance of the Hedgehog-by Muriel Barbery---This book had words upon words in it that I didn't know. I liked the feeling of being back in Honors Lit in college when I did my reading with my trusty American Heritage College Dictionary at my side. I was just getting really involved in the storyline when it abruptly ended with a twist I did not care for. Although, I am still thinking about the twist two days later, so perhaps it was better to have ended in a way that I didn't like than with the cliche happy ending I was hoping for.


#100! 12 24 10

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi--Ellen and Portia are one of my favorite Hollywood couples so I knew I had to read Portia's book when I heard Ellen talking about it on her show. It was heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. The story of battling her weight and struggling with being gay in Hollywood was intense and I am impressed with her ability to tell the most private of struggles with so much detail and honesty. I buy very few hardback books; this one is a keeper.

Getting to 100 books in 2010 has made me realize that I read for more than just the simple love of reading. It is a form of escapism and has helped me get through some of the parts of 2010 that I don't care to relive, namely my ever-present struggle with infertility. Here's to hoping 2011 doesn't require so much reading material.


#99 12 21 10

The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen--another Eve Duncan book; might actually be the original Eve Duncan. I can see how the character has developed and will have to find some of the middle books to figure out how Joe got rid of his wife and finally got Eve to commit. One more...


#98 12 20 10

Quicksand by Iris Johansen--another Eve Duncan forensics thriller, this one better than Stalemate. I do wish they had titles that were a better match for the actual story. This one had precious little quicksand in it. Two more to go and more than a week left in 2o1o!

#97 12 19 10

Ford County Stories by John Grisham--I usually hate short story collections because they read too fast and each story seems to lack development. These stories were better-than-average and there was also a quick visit from Harry Rex, one of my favorite Grisham characters.


#9612 16 10

Stalemate by Iris Johansen--Love Eve Duncan, although Colombian drug lord storyline was a tad farfetched.


#95 12.15.10

New York by Edward Rutherfurd--860 pages of yummy historical fiction. This book, although fictional, could be the textbook for teaching a US History class through the lens of the most American of cities. I loved every bit of it!


#94 12 12 10

Body of Lies by Iris Johansen--I've accidentally stumbled upon a romance/thriller series with the same basic set of central characters. I have a bit of a literary crush on Sean Galen. I'll be going promptly to the library in the morning to get the rest of them.


#93 12 11 10

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant--I've been fascinated lately with Renaissance Era nuns and the women that became nuns for a variety of reasons, especially those that were sent to convents against their will. This actually took me a while to read, but was very worthwhile. I'll probably find Dunant's other Renaissance books to read.


#92 12 10 10

Dead Aim by Iris Johansen--I'm a sucker for the Grade B kind of romance/suspense hybrids.. This one had some pseudo science explanation for thermal vents and creating weapons of mass destruction using the power of the earth. Not real believable, but good characters who predictably fall in love under stressful circumstances.


#91 12-6-10

Transforming School Culture by Anthony Muhammad--the district's read for this year. It's a quick, easy read. While I agree with his observations, I wish it had more of the practical suggestions that I've heard him make in training sessions and have heard second-hand from people who have heard him in person.

#90 12-6-10

When Kids Can't Read by Kylene Beers--this has been our faculty book study at school and I've actually read it front-to-back twice this year. I love how practical it is and how well it fits the students I've taught.

#89 12-6-10

Marley & Me by John Grogan---I laughed and cried. I saw myself and my puppy in this book. I avoided reading it only because it was so popular and I thought it would have to be trite. It was actually well-written and funny. Now I'll probably watch the movie, right after I watch Eat Love Pray.


#88 12.5.10

The Queen's Soprano by Carol Dines--kinda like a knock-off version of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, enough said.


#87 11.29.10

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton--I love Morton's period novels. This one takes place mostly in the WWI/1920s. I have one month left in the year and 13 books to read to get to my goal of 100. Will I make it??


#86 11.26.10

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert--I resisted reading this book when it first hit the bestseller list because I thought it was some sort of self-help book and I generally don't read those. Not that I think I'm perfect and not in need of help, I just don't usually like touchy-feely make everyone happy kind of books. I really didn't decide that I would probably like it until they released the movie advertising version with Julia Roberts on the cover. Love Julia and actually liked the book quite well. I could use some quiet time in an ashram.


#85 11.24.10

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin--another cheating story, although this time I had a bit more sympathy for the mistress. The husband, predictably, returned to his wife in the end and the mistress's heart "slowly began to mend." I like the author, but this is not my favorite.


#84 11-4-10

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese---I still don't understand exactly what the title means, although I do understand much more about Ethiopia and more about surgery.


#83 10-30-10

sTORItelling by Tori Spelling--Yep, I'll admit it, I love Tori Spelling. I was in elementary school when 90210 was on and never really watched it. I'm a late bloomer and did not discover Tori Spelling until Tori and Dean was randomly on my tv one night.


#82 10-24-10

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver--- who would have thought that someone who doesn't particularly care for the great outdoors (me) would love a book about caring for the great outdoors? I just can't get enough of Kingsolver's strong female characters.


#81 10-19-10

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen--domestic violence causes a woman to flee with her son and create a new life. Husband shows up and takes the boy. Ends abruptly shortly thereafter.


#80 10.17.10

Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag--Hoag is my absolute favorite murder mystery writer, followed closely by Sue Grafton. This book almost seems like a collaboration between the two. It is set in 1985, a time period Grafton writes about with ease, a time before DNA was widely accepted as scientific, a time before every professional in America had a computer sitting on his/her desk, and a time before criminal profiling was used widely. A great way to reach the milestone of 80 books read in 2010. I have 20 books left and approximately 10 weeks left in the year. We'll see.


#79 10.15.10

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver--the sequel to #78 and one of the few sequels that I like better than the original. The same distinctive voice that I liked in The Poisonwood Bible is alive and well in the female characters of this book.


#78 10.14.10

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver--I'm pretty sure I found a copy of this at school several years ago that one of my kids was reading for his/her English class and read it one afternoon. Nonetheless, I (re)read it tonight and enjoyed the story. I have always gotten a little thrill reading books that mention places I've been. This Kentucky author mentions Kentucky Lake and I think that's swell. I'll be trooping off to the library tomorrow to get the sequel.

#77 10.14.10

The Likeness by Tana French-another Irish mystery involving one of the two main characters from In the Woods. I actually liked this one better, likely because Cassie Maddox reminds me just a wee bit of Lisbeth Salander.


#76 10.12.10

The old post about the books I've read was getting long and unwieldy so I decided to switch to a new post per new book read. #76 is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. As a child I would often start a book and stay up until the wee hours to finish it. Last night, about halfway through the book, I went to bed and layed awake thinking about the book and getting up to finish it. A sure sign that this is a great book. Double bonus that it takes place in England and Australia, both places that I love. Love British lit!


Baby Names!

My thyroid issues are causing me some problems with getting pregnant so, in the meanwhile, I've been occupying my time by daydreaming about all things baby-related. One of my favorite things to think about is baby naming! Since middle school, I've kept running lists of the baby names I like. They've changed (thankfully) over the years but I thought I would start keeping the list on here since this has become a list of the lists I keep.

  • Ada--DH's grandmother's name
  • Amelia
  • Arden
  • Beatrice/Beatrix
  • Brynn/Brenna
  • Camilla
  • Carys
  • Claire
  • Darby--means "free man" and my maiden name is Freeman
  • Della
  • Ellery
  • Evangeline
  • Evelyn---current fave is Mary Evelyn, who would be called M.E.
  • Gemma
  • Hadley
  • Harper--DH both like, but is becoming trendy
  • Hazel
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Landry
  • Liesl--might be a little too German with our last name
  • Lucille
  • Lydia
  • Maggie/Margaret
  • Maren/Marin
  • Marianne/Mariana
  • Miller
  • Palmer--as in Palmer House, where we got married
  • Perri--DH is orginally from Perry County, Indiana
  • Phoebe
  • Piper--might have too much of a music connection to be cool
  • Rose
  • Tess
  • Violet
  • Vivian
  • Wallis--my grandfather's name was Wallace
  • Willa/Willow--DH's unused first name is William and he doesn't like any of the boy versions


  • Atticus--gets a little too Mockingbird combined with Harper on the girls' list
  • Bennett
  • Carter
  • Charlie
  • Ezra
  • Finn--one of my current faves
  • Fletcher
  • Gabriel/Gabe
  • Henry
  • Jamison
  • Max
  • Miles
  • Miller
  • Milo
  • Oliver
  • Palmer--can't decide whether I like this as a boys' name or girls'
  • Quinn
  • Rider
  • Sawyer--one of my best friend's last name is Sawyers
  • Silas--love Silas Marner
  • Simon
  • Sutton
  • Tate
  • Theodore/Theo
  • Vincent
  • Will--I like it, DH doesn't
  • Wyeth


Crate and Barrel Idea Shopping

While we were in Indy, I spent an afternoon wandering around Crate and Barrel idea shopping. I think this white table will be perfect for the eat-in kitchen in the new house. I like the clean lines and think that it would would look good on the dark hardwood/bamboo floors that I have in mind.

This collection caught my eye. I like the colors and the patterns. I think they could be reproduced with some of the square album frames that my husband has but isn't really doing anything with and some antique wallpaper. Too bad I don't know where to find antique wallpaper...

This orange chair doesn't really fit into the furniture collection we have, but would be perfect for my friends Richard and Ginny, who have just bought an older home that has total retro potential. The upstairs is a denim blue color that would be perfect with this orange.

Peach Pie and Other Summer Fun

How yummy does my peach pie look? And how cute is my new owl dishcloth? The pie was supposed to be in celebration of fresh summer peaches, but I couldn't find any in my lame little town, so it's made with canned peaches. I had some extra crust after making a very simple lattice, so I got out my music note cookie cutter in an effort to make Dear Hubby like a dessert that doesn't include peanut butter or chocolate. The dishcloth came from a cute little home store in Murray. I was replacing an old favorite that met an untimely (puppy related) end.

We had a nice 4th of July visit with the Thomas family in Indianapolis. Aunt Kim and Ava get along smashingly. She's smart, likes books and is a great big sister to Bash. We also decorated the entire driveway with sidewalk chalk while I was there. Cute, aren't they?

Summer's winding down and I'm getting that panicky feeling I get any time a vacation is almost over and I'm not sure I've gotten everything done I'd like.


Recent Domesticity

I've been feeling rather domestic lately. I started my spurt of crafty-ness with a Mother's Day brunch for my mother and grandmother. Yummy breakfast casserole, fruit, homemade blueberry muffins and cute take-home centerpieces with kabob/scrapbook paper "Happy Mother's Day" cards. My best friend Amanda is having her second daughter this week. Eleanor Elizabeth will be joining older daughter Charlotte Caroline and has an equally cute monogram. I found a tutorial for freezerpaper stencils on Mmmboppin's blog and was amazed at how easy it was.
So, like anything I do, I went freezerpaper crazy and made a whole slew of personalized gifts. My cousin Jason and his wife Kristy (also the recipients of monkey burp cloths from an earlier post) had a son on May 20. Bashlin (named for a brand of lineman hooks/belts and a former pet) and big sister Ava got two coordinating sets all made my new favorite font...Badaboom!

Last night my friend Ginny (who got wine bottle holders in an earlier post) was picking out a bottle of wine to give as a gift and I volunteered to make a bottle holder for it. I used this grey floral fabric and it was so cute, I decided to bust out my One Yard Wonders sewing book. The professor for one of my summer classes requested that we bring our laptops for class. I've never found a laptop case that I liked well enough to buy, so I made my own. This also counts as my first attempt at machine quilting. The layers of flannel and floral fabric are quilted together with a very simple line pattern.

This will be perfect for packing up my laptop and throwing it in my school bag. Plus, it was made entirely out of things I already had at home, therefore fitting into the PayOffTheLot plan!

Nothing elaborate, but I have enjoyed making gifts for others (and for myself)!


Inspiration Board

I keep seeing people who have inspiration boards online and would love to make some myself for the rooms in next house. I have at least a year to plan, so I want to be ready when it really comes time to start making decisions. I've been saving pictures that I see online to my computer forever. I will give proper credit for where I found them when I remember/have it saved. I promise I'm not trying to pass any of these off as my own or trying to profit from them in any way. No one I know even knows I have a blog, so I'm pretty sure no one reads this regularly...

This picture is saved on my computer as "Best Room Ever." It's from Meg Duerkson's blog "Whatever." I love the letters and the book jackets. It makes me want to curl up on this bed and read stories to some little kids. I will just die if my kids don't love to read. What do you think---is a love for books nature or nurture?

This next picture is on Design Mom's blog but originally came from the Real Simple website. DH has promised that I will have a room to do with as I please. It will be an office/sewing/crafting/ reading/gift-wrapping room and I may never come out of it. I love everything about this. The color, the furniture, the light. The next one is a kitchen from what I believe is the High End Design blog on blogspot, sorry if I didn't get the name exactly right. I have looked at hundreds of pictures on Google Images for "white kitchen" and keep getting glimpses of kitchens that are kinda like the magic black and white kitchen I have in my mind. This one gets most of it right. The cabinets and countertops are perfect. I'm leaning toward white subway tile for the backsplash, but want some color. This one offers color (yellow wouldn't be my choice) in the form of dishes in open shelving/cabinets. I like the idea but wouldn't want so much of my storage to be exposed. My accent color of choice is granny smith apple green. Love the table and chairs.

This is the kitchen of fashion designers Bagdley Mischka. I own 1% of the cookbooks it would take to pull this off. I'm a sucker for books, organization by color and white kitchens. What's not to love? I also like their subway tile, but not the grey grout.

Ohdeedoh has a article about reading artwork and this was my favorite. It's from the Keep Calm Shop. I kinda want this for my own now. Maybe I could put it in my office at work...

This is from Elle Decor and is from a spread about the interior of the house that was used as the outside shoot for the tv show Full House. The style is much more traditional than anything I could pull off, but I love the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

More storage. Sucker for storage. And baskets. And white. I think these are Expedit shelves by Ikea. No idea where the picture came from.


Build a House!

My husband and I bought a lot today. I'm rather excited, as it means we are now fully committed to the idea of building a house. We love the house we live in now, but it's getting a bit snug. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms just don't offer quite as much room as the two people and one dog in my family need, especially as we consider adding on to the family.

The lot is exactly across the fairway from where we live now, a short move. The plan is to finish paying for the lot and then start construction. So, to celebrate our new plan to lively more simply and pay more quickly, a list of the things DH and I agree on to date.

1. We need more space.

2. Lots adjoining a golf course need a golf cart garage, even if said family does not own a golf cart.

3. DH needs a room/office/place far away from me from which he can listen to his (loud) music without fear of bodily harm.

4. Pink-ish/Coral-ish brick is awful and is to be avoided.

5. People get jealous when you start talking about building a house. Haters, all of them.

6. We need to aim for spending an amount comfortably below what we can afford to leave room for budget-busting.

7. All rooms will not be the same color.

8. Bedrooms will have carpet.

9. We will never again attempt to share one measly bookcase.

10. Rugs are best without bold geometric shapes.


Yearly Reading List-updated 10.3.10

I do so dearly love to read. I'm always on the look-out for a new author, new releases, and old classics that I've never read. I've never attempted to track just how many books I read in a year, although I'm often asked. I bought a snazzy red and black notebook last fall in a half-hearted attempt to track what I ate but gave up after a few days. Why not track something that makes me happy and makes me feel good about myself? So here it is: What I've Read So Far This Year!

I'm just going to list them, unless I really loved or really didn't love them. Feel free to help me find new things to read or share your thoughts on what I've read.

1. Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

2. U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton--I love this series and am eager for the next at the same time I want them to slow down so that we don't reach the end of the alphabet.

3. Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

4. The Year of Pleasures "

5. The Art of Mending "

6. Open House "

7. Until the Real Thing Comes Along "

8. Range of Motion "

9. Never Change "

10. Dream When You're Feeling Blue "

11. Say When " If I read a book I like, I tend to read everything else the library has by that same author. Home Safe was a gift from my hubby for Christmas from my Amazon wish list and I really liked the main character. The library had several more of Berg's books so I read them in two batches over Christmas break. I was sadly disappointed to find that the main character I'd really liked in Home Safe was merely renamed and given a slightly different life story in every other book. She likes Snickers bars, Neruda's poetry, tends to be abandoned by a spouse (death, divorce, etc.) has mother issues, likes the retro housewife image and works in some sort of writing/book-related field. The one book I read about a man was essentially the same character, but with a masculine name. Not bad books, but, having read them, I now can't remember what distinguishes any one from the others. Grrrr

12. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

13. Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark--I accidentally came home with a few of Clark's books last summer because they were mixed in with the Mary Higgins Clark books I was checking out at the library. Several of her books center around the members of a tv news team and are interesting, easy reads. I found two more newer ones at our local library and enjoyed them both.

14. It Only Takes a Moment by Mary Jane Clark

15. Run by Ann Patchett--very interesting story by the author of Bel Canto

16. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell--assigned reading for my administration graduate class

17. Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay--a collection of the stories recorded by the StoryCorps project, a non-fiction book I found on a clearance table at Border's and bought for my dear hubby because I had heard him listen to a few StoryCorps podcasts in the car. We both enjoyed the stories.

18. Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls--my favorite book that I've read this year. I loved Glass Castles by the same author and ordered this when I bought a book for class from Amazon to get my free shipping. Love, love, love these two books. Read them both.

19. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

20. Blessings by Anna Quindlen

21. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See--have always been fascinated by Asian culture. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and liked the focus on women's history in a time and place when women were not highly valued and this one is in the same vein. It takes place in the 20th century and partly in the US, so I liked this one even better. There's another Lisa See book in our library and I will be checking it out.

22. My Antonia by Willa Cather--a classic I'd never read until it was referenced in another book I was reading and I realized that I had no idea what it was about.

23. Envy by Sandra Brown

24. Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

25. Peony in Love by Lisa See

26. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy--picked up at the supermarket the night before leaving for Little Rock to have something to read in the car. Totally wasn't about what I thought it was going to be about based solely on the fact that I knew there was a Streisand movie version.

27. House Rules by Jodi Picoult--If this was the first of her books I'd read, I'd be raving about how great it was. It's well-written, about an unusual topic, and made me think about the legal system in a new way. Since I've read every single one of her books, I was left thinking, "My, isn't this familiar?" My number one complaint about most authors who have written more than two books is that they tend to repeat themselves. Too bad Jodi Picoult fell into this same trap. This book is about a mother who fiercely protects her child (someone misunderstood by society) from a legal system that doesn't take shades of gray into account and finds a little love along the way. I'll keep reading her books because they are very well-written and include interesting perspectives. I just wish she'd branch out a little. Some of her earlier books (before she was uber-popular) are more creative.

28. Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd--teen lit, found it in the library at school, kinda crazy...wouldn't recommend

29. The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber--wow, he's smart and I feel smarter by reading and pondering his choice of words. This might make it onto the long list of favorite books ever!

30. Bound Feet & Western Dress: A Memoir by Pang-Mei Natasha Chang--love that it was non-fiction and an account of a real family struggling to find their place in a modernizing China and then in the US. Of couse, fed my fascination for Chinese culture. Probably time to reread The Joy Luck Club.

31. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger--this book kept popping up in random places and I have been trying to read the classics that make regular appearances in pop culture. I guess I should have read it ten years ago because I couldn't get past thinking that Holden would diagnose me a phony adult and that I wouldn't really be devastated by it.

32. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd--not sure why I didn't read it before now. The story's a bit far-fetched, but I like the unique Southern voice. I'll probably watch the movie and like it too since I didn't love the book so much it would make any movie pale in comparison.

33. Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger--chick lit, blends in well with the target big paperbacks that I love so much, perfectly acceptable way to spend a rainy Saturday morning.

34. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann--This takes place in NYC in the 1970s and is described as the first great 9/11 book. It's so deep, I read most of it twice. On the surface, it is the story of the day Phillipe Petit walked on a tightrope suspended between the twin towers and the lives of a handful of people who were on the ground that day. It reminds me of the movie Crash because of the very interesting way that all the people end up connected in the end. On a deeper level, it is the story of the people of New York and how they are connected to the ideal of the city. Made me feel smarter, which is becoming a goal with selecting books. I'm trying to read less "trash" and more that will teach me about something new or expand my vocabulary and understanding of the world.

35. The Alienist by Caleb Carr--my uber-smart friend at work recommended this book to me but cautioned that it was a bit "dense." Nodding like I understood what she meant by that, I had to read it to see what it was about. A serial killer that targets cross-dressing underage male prostitutes...that's dense. Because it's set in NYC at the dawn of the 20th century, includes TR, Jacob Riis and Lincoln Steffens (figures from a time in history that I've always been interested in) and was a murder mystery thriller, I actually liked it quite a lot. I have a new reading buddy at school!

36. Little Bee by Chris Cleave--I love books set in Britain and have to remind myself not to speak with a fake British accent as I'm reading them. I picked this book up at Borders because I think the cover is beautiful and I do occasionally read books solely because of a great cover design. As it turns out, the title character is a fascinating Nigerian refugee seeking asylum in GB who has an amazing story to tell which is intertwined with the story of a successful magazine editor with an unhappy marriage and child who thinks he's Batman. I really, really liked this book and wanted it to keep going when it ended.

37. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner--I have read (and liked) Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Little Earthquakes by the same author. I've always wondered if her last name is really pronounced like the hotdog...I digress. This book is the follow-up to Good in Bed, a book I loved and lost. Literally. I have had hoarding periods in my life, at least where books are concerned. I try to be one of those people who shares and passes along books, but secretly I like them best when they are lined up on my bookshelf, spine un-broken, pages un-bent. A co-worker borrowed Good in Bed and never returned it, thus giving me a mean feeling in my heart anytime I thought of this author. Probably why it took me so long to read this book, which was decent. I almost always read the sequel to a book I liked and almost as often don't like it as well.

***The year is a little over 1/3 through. I've been toying with what a goal should be for how many books to read. Maybe 100? I'm afraid, however, that if I set a goal, I will speed-read crap books in an effort to get the quantity of books I need to meet my goal and will sacrifice the quality.***

38. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris--Everyone else seems to be obsessed with Sookie Stackhouse, so I checked at the local library and, finding one giant book with the first three of the series, decided to get with the times and read them. I like them. I don't love them like everyone else seems to but I will read the rest of them from the library.

39. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

40. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris--this one's my favorite so far. Alcide's my pick. Kinda like I was Team Jacob instead of Team Edward...

41. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson--I've been slowly reading this one because I was sad to be reading the last book in the series. Lisbeth Salander is probably my favorite fictional character ever. This is one of the very few series that stayed good until the end. I loved it.

42. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris--Sookie Stackhouse #4

43. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris--Sookie Stackhouse #5

44. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell--His books fascinate me. He makes the very complex seem obvious. Hockey players succeed because of their birthdays; Asians are good at math because of their language and rice paddies; it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something.

45. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris--Sookie Stackhouse #6

46. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris--Sookie Stackhouse #7

47. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris--Sookie Stackhouse #8

48. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline--interesting idea-woman sees her adopted son's picture on a kidnapping flier and struggles with what the "right thing" to do is. Got a bit far-fetched in the last 100 pages, didn't love it.

49. Southern Lights by Danielle Steel--hello, old friend. I started reading DS books when I was in middle school because I thought it was scandalous and, for many years, I had read every single one of her books. I got away from them when I discovered the world of Target chick lit, but was happy to note that this book was as sweet and predictable as the dozens of others I loved as a child. I know, it is wildly inappropriate for a middle schooler to read Danielle Steel. I turned out okay, in my mother's defense.

50. A Touch of Dead, Sookie Stackhouse: the Complete Stories--random short stories that fit into the series. Not very good. I wish I hadn't wasted milestone book number 50 on this particular choice.

51. Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts)--I would have never started this series had it not been for a snowstorm that happened Christmas 2004. A coworker that I often traded books with gave me a Kroger sack full of the first dozen or so books. I left them sitting in the bag for a while, thinking that anything set in 2060 was probably not something I'd like. Then it snowed and I was trapped in my apartment for part of Christmas break with nothing else to do so I started the series and loved them. Eve Dallas is one of my favorite characters and, now that I think about it, reminds me of Lisbeth Salander from #41. I wish these books had numbers in the title or some better way for me to keep track of which ones I've read and haven't, but that's not a complaint about the contents of the books.

52. Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb-this one is my favorite of the 20-something in this series that I've read. I cried. Twice. It's the first book of the year that made me cry. After reading Kindred in Death (one of the most recent), I went to the public library and looked for any of the other new-ish ones I might have missed and found three. I need a running list of the titles to keep myself straight...

**June's almost over and I'm over the 50 mark, so it looks like I'm making good progress toward my goal of 100 books in 2010!**

53. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb--good to see that Nora Roberts is exploring the outer reaches of NYC to find new ideas for stories. This one in Spanish Harlem is a unique depiction of gang violence intersected with Church dogma.

54. Promises in Death by J.D. Robb-I think I may be caught up through book 29 now. Love these books. I'm ready for Dallas and Roarke to have a baby, if you're reading this, Nora Roberts!

55. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus--I took care of two sweet boys while I was in college and had the complete opposite experience. The parents were fab and made me feel like part of the family while paying me a more-than-adequate salary. This book is very well-written and I'll read (of course) the sequel.

56. Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus--this one didn't seem to be as smartly-written. Oh well, about what I expected...

57. Born in Death by J.D. Robb--this one's about babies and I might have already read it. I'm still counting it, as I (re)read every word.

58. Somewhere Inside by Laura Ling and Lisa Ling--this is the account of the five months that Laura Ling and Euna Lee spent captive in North Korea. I had a lump in my throat the whole time, even though I knew how the story ended. Very well-written.

59. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen--smartly written, not sure why I've avoided her books before.

60. Memory in Death by J.D. Robb--oops, found another one I hadn't read.

61. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen--I avoided reading this because I thought the title was some wacky metaphor. Then I read the dust jacket and realized it's actually about a circus so I checked it out from the library. I really liked it. It's one of the top five best books I've read all year.

62. Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz--an Oprah selection, though not one of my favorites. It is about Lutherans who make kuchen, so I like the resemblance to my husband's family.

63. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd--there seem to be several books about people falling in love with monks and nuns and even more books about middle age people having affairs and then realizing that they just want to be with their spouse. This is another along those lines. I always root for the cheater to see the error of their ways and go back home. Predictably, this one did.

64. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris---Sookie Stackhouse #11--This one came open on the library waiting list, so I read it before reading 9 and 10. I didn't have any trouble catching up. I think Charlaine Harris must be trying to sex up the books to match the overly sexualized HBO version. I'll keep reading them, but only from the library. I did like the addition of another real-life character in this one. Nothing like a little Bolshevik Revolution to spice things up...

65. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory--This book comes up often among people who like the same kinds of books that I like. I really liked the story and was reminded of all the European history that I've known and forgotten. My only complaint? It was a giant hardback book from the library and my hands are tired from holding it for two days. I went back to the library and checked out several more Philippa Gregory books and started a couple of them but couldn't get interested. I suppose there's a limit to my interest in reviving my college love of European history.

66. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond--According to the Library Journal review on the front cover, this book is recommended for fans of Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard. I can see that. It's a very well-written book about a woman who looks away from her fiance's daughter for a split second on a foggy beach and the child disappears. She spends a year looking for the child, in every nook and cranny of San Fransisco to the beaches of Costa Rica, eventually finding her and returning her to her father. I like that the book doesn't end with that happy reunion. The relationship goes south and the narrator realizes that the memory of the "year of fog" is too much for their relationship and that she will move on. The book is interspersed with short chapters that detail memory research through the years.

67. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich--It's official; I'm over this series. They just aren't as funny as they used to be.

68. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb---This is an epic of a book. Seriously, it's almost 900 pages long. I picked it up because it has a picture of twin babies on the cover, not anticipating the complex tale of twin brothers trapped in a constant state of dealing with one brother's schizophrenia. The surface tale was engaging and full of real emotion. However, the book was interweaved with a flasback-style manuscript describing the life of the main character's grandfather. I could have done without the pages and pages of repetitive description of the "sins of the father." I read She's Come Undone by the same author years ago and vaguely remember it also including mental illness. A bit much for me.

69. Leap of Faith; Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor--this is my first on-purpose repeat read of the year. I am fascinated by Queen Noor of Jordan, who grew up in the U.S. and married King Hussein when she was in her 20s and has since been an influential figure in the Middle East. I cried as much this time when Hussein died as I did the first time I read this book several years ago. I stumbled across a pristine copy of this book at the local library book sale and happily paid $2 to have it on my shelf.

70. Smash Cut by Sandra Brown--her murder mysteries always have a neat twist at the end. Didn't see the father daughter connection coming. Probably shouldn't have paid $8 for a random paperback, but hadn't read anything in awhile and this sounded interesting.

71. In the Woods by Tana French--this book was on my Amazon wishlist for awhile until I finally bought it at Target. I started reading it and then forgot it in my husband's car for several days, making this the first book I've started in a very long time that I didn't finish within 24 hours.

72. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson--love this book so much I bought it (along with #2) and re-read it in a day. I'll probably end up reading the other one tomorrow. I'm not sure what it is about these books that I like so much. Maybe it's just the different-ness from everything else I've read lately.

73. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson---have I mentioned lately how much I like Lisbeth Salander?

74. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver--I love that this book is told in alternating perspectives by the wife and daughters of the central character. I love the time period, the setting and the unique voices of the sisters. I'll even admit that I like Rachel the best...

75. Beach Music by Pat Conroy--Conroy is the author of The Prince of Tides and a master wordsmith. I don't feel like my measly words do justice to this story. Including stories from the Holocaust, Vietnam and the 1980s South, the family at the center of this story is flawed, messy and lovely. I will be reading more of Conroy's books. This year will be over in less than three months and I've slacked off on my pace to get to 100 books. Oh well, I've read more books this year than some people do in a lifetime.


Sewing Bee

I've had a sewing machine for years and have used it sporadically, mostly for hemming other people's pants. I have had the occaisional spurt of domestic want-to. My know-how is based on a few sewing lessons given to me in middle school by my friend Amanda's mom, who is a world-class seamstress.

Since getting hooked on the world of blogging, the blogs that I enjoy the most are the crafty moms who make things for their kids and other people's kids. Since I don't have any of my own, I've been itching to make homemade gifts for the forty million people I know that are having babies.

I went on a sewing shopping expedition yesterday and came home with enough fabric, notions, and ideas to last a good long while. The key find was a book that I'd looked at on Amazon. One-Yard Wonders is an amazing collection of projects that require only one yard of fabric. Leafing through it, the projects mostly seemed like things I could do so I bought it. I also bought several different kinds of fabric, including some yummy flannels that I thought would make good baby gifts.

So far, I've made two sets of teal and brown monkey burp cloths for the two baby boys who will be born this year into jungle-themed nurseries. Levi is due soon and is the son of one of my work friends. Bashlin is due in May and is the second child of my cousin Jason and his wife Kristy. I also made two wine-bag-holder-things. Mostly I made those because the pattern seemed simple enough for me and they are the perfect gift for my friend Ginny. Black and white polka dots and hot pink ribbon ties. I love it!
I also love feeling like I can create something with some fabric (which was on SALE!) and some thread. I would love to be making baby treats for my own baby, but maybe all these gifts are practice for the real thing. One can dream...


my favorite things

I love fresh starts, lists, and making resolutions. This comes to a head in January of each year when I try valiantly to remake myself into something new. Not because I dislike my former self, I just like the effort. This year's amended-once-already resolution is to be 'classier.' I haven't decided just yet what that really means, but I like the ring of it. I'm not un-classy, I just think the world would be a better place if we were all a little more so. In an effort to define for myself what I mean, I'm going to compile a list of my favorite "classy things."

1. Painted Nails--I've already started by buffing and clear-coating my fingernails. My toes are a delightful OPI shade called "My Private Jet," which sounds classy. It's the exact same shade of gray as my puppy's feet plus a little sparkle.

2. White Kitchens--This probably isn't going to happen for me in 2010 unless we win the lottery or one of us gets an unexpected raise/promotion. However, it still makes the list of classy things because I can picture guests gathered around creative meals prepared for a spur of the moment party in this kitchen.

3. Dogeared Jewelry--They make lovely necklaces and other jewelry items for special occasions, gifts, or just because. I wear this infinite love one, a gift from DH for my last birthday. Check them out.

4. Thoughtfully Designed Rooms--This picture from Spearmint Baby makes me want to have a baby just so I can start collecting letters for a display just like this one. There are a few other reasons I'd like to have a baby, but decorating a nursery sounds like nine months worth of fun.

There are more favorite things, but getting the pictures and text to cooperate has hijacked too much of my Last Day of Christmas Break, so I'll pick back up later. One of these days, I'll be a master blogger. Until then, no one's reading anyway.

Elsie Louise Mroch

Elsie Louise Mroch
the puppy who changed my mind