Monday, March 12, 2018

A Farmyard Birthday

One of the birthday traditions I started a few years ago with my first grandchild was making birthday banners and birthday cards.  So far I have been lucky that each birthday there has been a certain theme.  This time it is a farmyard theme.  I found this cute idea on Pinterest.   

This is the birthday card I made for my little man.  I enjoy this tradition a lot.  I love making a special card for the little kids.  My husband and I compose a little note for the inside together which I can write.  My hope is that someone saves these sweet cards for them so when my grandkids grow up they have some handwritten notes from their grandparents.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

February 2018 Reading Log

This month went by fast and I seemed to be struggling to find time to read.  I got a bit carried away with L. Penny stories.  My plan was to read one book a month but I am completing got caught up in the stories.   I just need to find out what is happening with the biggest question is why and how?  I am not so interested in the murders that take place.  I am more interested in the relationships between the characters.  My favorite book this month was hard to pick again!  But I will have to go with L. Penny's, How the Light Gets In, because I couldn't stop reading this book.  I almost finished it in one day.    

L. Penny did not disappoint in the seventh book in this series, A Trick of the Light.  We find Armand Gamache back in Three Pines solving another murder that occurred in Clare’s garden.  The victim was Clare’s childhood friend.  Lots of twists and turns in this story and a bit of a surprise as Peter and Clare decided to separate for a year.  This is a great ****/5 star story. 

I had to read book number eight right after I finished book seven because they came together on my library holds.  I generally like to space them out a bit but I didn’t have a choice this time.  I was mesmerized in L. Penny’s book, A Beautiful Mystery.  There was so much going on.  There was the murder in the monastery that was hidden deep somewhere in the wilderness of Quebec.  The only people there were the 24 monks who lived in silence except during prayer, they sang beautiful chants.  They lived an isolated life growing their own food, raising their own animals no contact with the outside world.   Then there is the tension between Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir.  The ending left me speechless.  This is one of the best Three Pines stories yet.  It earned *****/5 stars in my mind. 
It is so cold here that I had to take a quick beach break.  So I found Elin Hilderbrand’s, The Identicals, on my bookshelf. The story takes place on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.   Harper and her twin sister Tabitha haven’t spoken for more than a decade.  They each live on different islands.  After their father passes away Harper reaches out to her sister and her mother to let them know.  After the funeral, their mother falls, and Tabitha needs Harper’s help to watch her daughter.  They change islands and life begins to change for each of them.   This book is a light and fun read, ***/5 stars. 

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a spiritual book I purchased years ago that just sat on my bookshelf.  I started reading it back in January and read a section a day whenever possible.  It has A LOT of information in it.  I still need more time to absorb everything I read.   However I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.  I need to spend some time rereading sections and journaling about it.  However, that will be perfect for the rest of Lent.  This is a *****/5 star book.  A must read for all Christians. 
I couldn’t wait for next month to read book 9 in the Three Pines series so I jumped ahead to, How The Light Gets In.  I was just left with this sad feeling in my stomach for Chief Inspector Gamache.  I just had to read the next book.  WOW!!!!!!  It was even better than the last couple of books, which I thought were amazing.  Again there are two different story lines going on in the story:  1.  Myrna Landers, from Three Pines, sends Armand Gamache a message; her friend did not arrive for Christmas and she is worried.  Her friend turns out to be a famous person in Quebec.  2.  Chief Inspector Gamache is dealing with his Homicide Department being dismantled and the continue assaults on his character.   He is getting closer to finding out who leaked the video and corruption with in the Surete of Quebec.  

This book was just awesome.  I just could not stop.  I finished the whole book in a day and a half.  I just had to know more details.  I don’t want to seem like I am over-rating these books but I love them!  *****/5 stars AGAIN!!!!

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, is an absolutely adorable story.  It has everything loss, love, mystery, personal struggle, friendships, and standing up for yourself.  It’s hard enough to be in high school but Jessie has to start all over in a new school her junior year two years after her mother passed away because her dad decides to remarry.  Jessie has to move from her home of Chicago to California where she knows nobody. She now lives in the home of her dad’s new wife and her son.  Jessie is now the new girl and it’s not easy to make new friends when you are different.  Jessie ends up making a friend online, Somebody Nobody, who helps her navigate her way through her new school.  ****/5 stars

I know a fourth L. Penny book is obsessive, but honestly when a library hold comes available you have to read it or go back to the end of the line.   So when I received The Long Way Home, it was back to Three Pines for me.  The story begins as Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Surete du Quebec, as he settles down in his retirement with his wife in Three Pines.  Gamache is enjoying the peace and routine he is establishing in the town.  However, Clara is troubled, her husband Peter did not return on the anniversary of their year separation as promised.  Together Armand and Jean-Guy reunite to help Clara track down Peter and they all go on an adventure to search for Peter.   The story focuses a lot on the relationships between the friends and their healing from previous events.  As they put the pieces together they begin to understand themselves and their friends.  L. Penny will not disappoint you, she saves a few surprises for the heart-breaking end.  This is another ****/5 star book. 

In The Library at the Edge of the World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, Hanna Casey has moved back to the small Irish town she grew up in with her daughter after she found out that her husband was having an affair.  She is now the local librarian and drives the book mobile around the Irish countryside to the little villages.  When the town councils wants to close Hanna’s library she must rally the town and help the community pull together to stand up to be heard and fight for what is important to them.  This is a wonderful story about a creating new friendships and a community working together to make a difference to help one another.  I am giving this book ***/5 stars. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Grandma's Playroom

There is no doubt that my grandchildren have taken over the family room.  It helps that I have several books and toys left over from my years of teaching kindergarten.  The train table pretty much takes up much of the room, however it is a huge hit with the kids.  My grand-daughter loves it the most.  The boys can almost reach it.  I put swim noodles on the legs for the little boys because of the rough edges.  Underneath the table is the jingle-ribbon tunnel.  The little boys love it.  They spend a lot of time shaking the bells and it was so easy to make.  I just used scrap ribbon and shipping tape.  I did purchase a bag of large bells to tie on the ribbon. 

 It took me awhile but I cut my children's book collection in half and saved only my favorites to share with the grandchildren.  It is so hard to decide what you want to save, there are so many amazing children's books.  As you can see I still have a bit of simplifying to do yet.  

My hope for my grandchildren is that they grow up to love reading or at least have fond memories of reading with grandma and grandpa.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

January 2018 Reading Log

The Bookshop on Water's End, is the story about Bonny Blankenship as her life falls apart.  She asks her friend Lainey and her daughter Piper to join her as her family's summer home in Waters End, South Carolina.  However the mysteries from the past help Bonny and Lainey work through some of their personal struggles.  This is a wonderful summer book and I will give it ⭐⭐⭐/5 stars.  

This was my favorite book this month.  It's Winter Carnival in Quebec City during Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead novel and Chief Inspector Gamache is on leave after a terrible attack on his fellow officers and himself on their last case.  Gamache stumbles across a murder at the Literacy and Historical Society.  In order to solve the murder he must undercover a 400 year old secret in Quebec's history....AND Gabriel is sending him letters daily stated Olivier didn't do it.  It doesn't make sense. Chief Inspector Gamache is starting to second guess all his decisions. This is a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.    
In the book, How to Find Love in a Bookshop, Emilia is trying to keep her promise to her father, to keep his bookshop going after his death.    Emilia is struggling with bills her father left behind while a property developer is aggressively trying to buy the bookshop from her.  Nightingale Books  seems to be the center of the community and Emilia quickly makes new friends.  Many of her customers rely on her for advice for books and life.  At times there seems to be so many different story lines/characters to keep straight but they all fall into place by the end of the book.  I enjoyed reading this book and would give it ⭐⭐⭐/5 stars. 
Commonwealth begins when Bert Cousins shows up uninvited to Beverly and Fritz Keating house for the baptism party of their daughter Franny in Southern California.  Bert has his eyes set on Beverly and from there the two families are forever changed.  The story is mainly told from Franny's point of view.  She describes her life growing up in a blended family far away from her father.  The novel deals with family relationships as the family goes through different transitions throughout life.  This is a ⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.  
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is a not your typical bookstore book.  Lydia works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver and tries her best not to be noticed.  She was involved in an violent crime as a child that she still struggles with emotionally.  So working in the quiet bookstore with the "BookFrogs" and shelving books quietly each day helps her make it through each day.  Until one day when Joey, one of the "Book Frogs" commits suicide in the bookstore leaving lots of questions for Lydia.  Like, why does Joey have one of her childhood birthday pictures in his pocket?  Why does Joey leave her all kinds of books with holes in them?  Lydia is forced to rethink and remember everything she can from her childhood including that violent night.  This story made me feel uneasy at times but I was constantly motivated to read what happens next.  I think this is a ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 star book. 
The Cafe by the Sea, by Jenny Colgan, is a charming story.   Flora has to go back to the island she grew up on to represent a client. Flora comes home to her brothers and father who like Flora and still struggling with the death of their mom.  Once back on the island everyone wants to remind Flora how wonderful the island is, but Flora's heart is with someone else, her boss.  This is a cute and charming story.  A reminder that it is important to be part of the community.  This is a ⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.  
 A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman is a wonderful story about an old man who has lived his life working hard and following the rules.  After the death of his wife he is struggling with the purpose of his life and how to move forward.  Ove's neighbors help him find his way and develop new friendships.  The book is very humorous.    This is a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.   
 Ann Bogel's book, Reading People, is one of those books that you wish you would have read years ago when you first got married and your kids were little. The ability to understand and label certain personality traits can help you put into perspective why someone else is doing something  and that could help you understand your husband or child's way of thinking.  This is a ⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes begins with Jennifer Sterling, in London.  She doesn't remember anything from the car accident she was in.   She doesn't remember who she is, who her husband is, or her friends, or who was in the car with her.  Her husband is acting very nervous and not answering all her questions. She comes upon a love note signed B, however Jennifer does not know who B is.  The first half of the book is about Jennifer's struggle trying to figure out who B is?  The second half of the book is about Ellie, a writer, who comes across the letters in the newspapers' library. She wants to write a story about Jennifer's love story.  While writing the story she begins to make comparisons to her own life.  This was a great love story, I give it ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars. 

I loved the book Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so much I decided to listen to Ajax Penumbra 1969 on Audible.  It was a cute short story.  In 1969, Ajax Penumbra is sent by the university that he works for to San Fransisco to look for a very old book.  Ajax stumbles upon an 24 hour book store and there he finds the answers to his questions.  He finds a whole new group of friends and a new purpose for his life and never returns to the university.  This is a ⭐⭐⭐/5 star book.    

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Practical Bullet Journal for 2018

I am in awe over all the fancy bullet journals and fancy layouts I see on Instagram and Pinterest.  They look so beautiful I can hardly believe that is someone's day to day notes.  Some of the people take such care to draw, illustrate and paint to add  character to their journals.    My bullet journal looks like a scribble mess each week.  

This year I am trying to make an effort to add color and a bit of style to my journal.  But to be honest my journal is my day to day list of things to do, that will always be a hot mess I am afraid. 

 In the front of my journal I added a new section to create lists of things I LOVE this year.  It can be anything: memories, books, songs, foods, ideas, anything that I felt really was something special to me.  
 I also put my goals and project list for the year in the front of my journal so each month when I am mapping out what I want to accomplish I can use these pages as a reference.  
 I made a list of house projects separate from my other goals because these things take more time, money and planning to accomplish.  I am created a Monthly Challenge Page.  I am hoping to come up with a challenge each month to help me work towards creating a healthy and simpler lifestyle.  

 I have two Save The Date pages.  One in the front for 2018 and one in the back for 2019.  This is a great way to organize long range plans. This is new this year as well as so far I love the it.  I am constantly adding things and checking each month.   
 Once again I created a visual book shelf for myself for the year to keep track of how many books I read.  I think this is just a fun way of recording the titles I read. I am challenging my self to read 100 books this year.  Last year I was just shy of 100, I read 91 books.   
 I am participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Challenge this year so I have printed out the sheet and wrote down the titles I want to read for the challenge.  Then I started my January Dates,  each month I write out a quick monthly view of appointments, birthdays and other events.  
 Each month I try to write out monthly goals that will help me accomplish my yearly goals.  I am not very good at accomplishing these goals but this is a new year and maybe I'll do better.  This year I am keeping track of my health goals as well.  So I can visually see where I am doing well and what I need to improve each month.  
 Then I have my blogging pages....blogging has been a challenge for me the last half of 2017 and now into 2018.  I have ideas, just not the time to do them or the time to type up the projects.  
 This is what my To Be Read list/checklist looks like.  My goal is to read 9-10 books a month.  My checklist helps me record if I took a picture, posted on Instagram, completed a write up for the blog and Goodreads and copied everything over to my reading journal.  
I added a monthly budget page this year.  This is a goal of mine to get my spending under control.  Wish me luck with that!
Finally my weekly layout, which you can see is a mess.   It is more of a checklist of what needs to get down.  I don't have time for artwork so I use stickers to add color and fun to my journal. I have my menu listed on the left side each day and then a list of to-dos.