Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WWRW and My Five Favorites Mason Jar Edition

It's been a crazy week here.  I can honestly say the only books I've read this week are picture books for Jill and a free e-book on my Kindle. I downloaded Salads To Go last November, but it sure came in handy this first week of school.


This little e-book has great recipes for mason jar salads, using international flavors to add variety.  As you know, I'm always on a quest to change up the lunchbox scene, trying to avoid the mundane square sandwich.


I've got three girls in high school this year.  (Need any drama?  I'm sure I'll have extra.) We whipped up some mason jar salads for day 2 of school.


I used a Salads To Go recipe for vinaigrette, then we layered red peppers, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, mozzarella (cut-up string cheese), and baby spinach.  The after-school verdict was "delicious" and "maybe a little too much food" for my skinny Spaniard.

The one key point missing from Salads To Go was what size jar to get.  Pinterest led me to this article that revealed the magic size is a quart jar.

I picked up 12 jars for $10 and change and Walmart. Ball mason jars are BPA free and dishwasher safe, not to mention a lot cheaper than the Pyrex my kids (and spouse) been losing at school (and work) for years.

That's my first favorite.

2.

At Peter's graduation party, I used half pint sized jars, $.50 boxes of Crayolas, and all those school pictures I've been collecting over the years for table decor.  We covered the tables with brown craft paper, and the kids, teens, and even the odd adult took advantage.

3.  

I used pint-sized jars, raffia, and Gerber daisies from Costco for centerpieces for Polly's baptism.  Her real name means daisy.  Get it?  Daisies?

4. 

I found this Mason Jar Flower Frog at my local gardening store, but you can get them from Amazon too.


I just stuck a few cosmos from the garden in there.  I'm going to be growing a lot more cosmos next year, they did much better than my marigolds.

5.  

The last way I like to use mason jars is for my favorite beverage.  Unsweetened iced tea.  Made with Lipton.  I'm not fancy.

Anyhoo.  I'm linking this link-up with Heather.  


Also, Micaela is going to link-up a new and fabulous on-line book club today!  Please check it out, I'm in it. You should be too.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

7QT: International Student, Graduation Party, and Boy Bait

1.

A big welcome to our latest addition, Maria!  Maria is from Seville, Spain and will be living with us for the entire school year. 

Maria's family and our family have known each other for some time now.  Peter stayed and traveled with Maria's family when he went to World Youth Day in Madrid and walked the Camino de Santiago.

Peter and my dad in 2012 holding Peter's certificate of completion for the Camino de Santiago.
We are very excited to have Maria here.  It's going to be a fun year!

2.

Saturday, we had a graduation/going away party for Peter.


It rained for two hours before the party.  Thank goodness we rented a tent!


The rain cooled things off, but left our yard a little soggy.

"diplomas"
3.

That didn't stop anyone from having a grand old time.



Maria and some new friends in the bounce house.

People partied like rock stars.  In fact, as I type this on Sunday morning, some of the rock stars are still here, asleep.

4.  This chocolate cake was the flavor favorite.


But our heartfelt sentiments on the vanilla one were enjoyed by all.


5.  Speaking of cake, Lucy and a friend whipped up not one but TWO pans of Blueberry Boy Bait for me this week.


She used the fresh blueberries we picked at Uncle Bill's place in Michigan, and she used coconut oil, the kind that smells like coconut.

The smell while the Boy Bait was baking was out-of-this-world, but I can't really taste the coconut in the finished product.


Wait.

Let me taste it again.

I'm not sure, maybe a hint.

Better taste it one more time to be sure.


Nope.  I don't think so.  I will keep researching this for more data.

We used this recipe, because it uses lot more blueberries than the America's Test Kitchen one.

6.  Overheard:

Patrick:  Wash both of your hands.

Anonymous:  I only got poop on one of my hands.

Patrick:  Wash both of your hands.

7.

Overheard:

Jill:  I got chocolate on my underpants.

Patrick: It's okay, Jessica, it's really chocolate.  Here, smell.

I didn't smell it, but it was chocolate. And That my Friends is why I discourage eating in the bathroom.

Until next week, visit Jen.  TTFN.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WWRW: Heaven Is For Real


It was 2 years ago on July 17th that my sister Mary's passed into eternal life. Wondering what she's up to now, I read Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo.

I had already been told about most of the tales of 4 year old Colton Burpo's experience in heaven, but a few details I found to be of note.

1.  The wounds of Christ.


Colton, a Protestant kid, raised by his Protestant pastor father, mother, and faith community mentions "Jesus' markers" first when asked to describe what Jesus looks like. Colton had likely never seen a crucifix. It is only after further discussion that his father realizes that by "markers" Colton is referring to the five wounds of Christ.

2.  People wear white robes? And different colored sashes?


Um.  Boring.  Lame-o.  Upon further reflection, I wonder if Colton experienced a PG version of heaven.  I mean, Adam and Eve didn't wear clothes in the first paradise, so I'm kind of wondering why we'll be wearing clothes in the second one, what with our glorified bodies and all.

However, if we are going to be clothed in the afterlife, it's going to be way better clothing than white albs and dolmadic sashes like deacons. C'mon. I have often thought that with my sister Mary's embroidery skills, she might be spending some heavenly free time working on some gorgeous robes for The Mary.


3.  Animals.

As I said on Facebook today, Colton says he saw lots of animals in heaven: dogs, horses, birds, and even a lion. Nowhere in the book does Colton say he saw any cats. Make of that what you will.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is light and easy reading.  I'd let any kid read it.  Todd does mention his wife's miscarriage, and how Colton met his sister in heaven, as well as heavenly battle to be fought with swords against Satan and his angels.

I told Edmund that (according to Colton) there are swords in heaven and that Jesus has a sword.  He immediately wanted to know how many and what kind.  That kid.  sigh.


One more thing. I read the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva, and it wasn't nearly as clean, or as good a read as Fallen Angel. The Kill Artist has lots of sex. Allon is still a virtuous man (though he hasn't always been) but the bad guys in this book like to use and sometimes abuse women. Consider yourself warned.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WWRW: THE Paperback Novel

Last year, I shared my favorite grown-up fiction books.  There are numerous spy novels on the list.


Now, I'm going to add Daniel Silva's The Fallen Angel: A Novel (Gabriel Allon Book 12).

Book 12.  You read that right.  I jumped in at Book 12 because my friend, Kris, told me too.

Gabriel Allon is a world-renowned art restorer AND an Israeli intelligence agent.  Artist/Spy.  Are you hooked yet?

The story opens with our hero restoring a Caravaggio. (I adore Caravaggio.  The Conversion of St. Paul is my favorite.) In the Vatican!  For the Pope!

But wait!  A body has been found in St. Peter's Basilica.  Did she jump from the dome balustrade?  Or was she pushed?  Gabriel Allon is called away from his painting to solve the murder.

What starts out as a murder mystery ends up as a race to stop Islamist terrorists focused on attacking both Jews and Christians on Good Friday, in Jerusalem.  And the Pope just happens to be visiting the Holy Land right at the same time!

Patrick read this one first, and he agreed.  It's a great fast-paced novel.  Prime for making the leap to the big screen.

If all adult books were like this one, and the one I reviewed two weeks ago, I'd seriously think about quitting my kid book habit.  As it stands, I've got the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist, on my Kindle from the library.  But don't tell Patrick.

Silva's book is an adult book.  Allon is married, and there are some mentions of bedroom moments.  I'm letting my 18 year old son read it, but I hesitate to say it's appropriate for all teens.

The Fallen Angel is also extremely interesting because it deals with Islamist terrorists, governments, and many problems of the Middle East.  Sound like anything else you've been reading about lately?

"The last time" my friend, Kris, went to Rome, she and her husband ate at La Cave, the restaurant next door to the Art Squad of the Italian Carabinieri, the same restaurant that Gabriel eats at early in the novel.  Fan-girl geeking out, right here!

I am also thrilled with the author's notes at the end of the book in which he thanks "my dear friend, George Weigel" the biographer of St. John Paul the Great.  Patrick has met George, and Patrick's cousin works with George.


So maybe...George, Daniel, Kris, and I (and maybe our spouses) could all have dinner together sometime.  At La Cave.  It could happen.


*I'm updating this post to add the following:
One more thing. I read the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva, and it wasn't nearly as clean, or as good a read as Fallen Angel. The Kill Artist has lots of sex. Allon is still a virtuous man (though he hasn't always been) but the bad guys in this book like to use and sometimes abuse women. Consider yourself warned.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WWRW: Best eBook Bang for Your Buck

Hello!  I'm either on a beach right now...or I'm in a damp cottage playing Ticket To Ride and sipping a Mommy's Little Helper.


My Ft. Worth in-laws came up with the Mommy's Little Helper cocktail, low in calories, gluten-free, yet crisp and refreshing.

LaCroix + Vodka + splash of cranberry juice + lime = Mommy's Little Helper.


I like to call my vodka "Tito" and my chardonnay "Kim" as in Kim Crawford.

You probably want to talk about books.


Before leaving for this trip, I borrowed some recommended reads from my public library through My Media Mall.  That's how I got The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  I haven't read it yet, but Joy did and linked up her review a few weeks ago.


I also went a little crazy over at Amazon, loading my Kindle as though I was going to live on a desert island for the rest of my days.


A girl can't go to a desert island without her favorite (and the greatest and the shortest) Dickens' novel of all time:  A Tale of Two Cities.  Click on the title and you can download it for freeeeee!

Best opening line ever:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

The second sentence is also magnificent.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.
That Sydney Carton.  One of the greatest literary heroes ever.  O, that I could see him played on-screen by Alan Rickman.  Hmm.  Syndney and Snape.  So many similarities.  Much alliteration.  Less drinky, more bloggy.

Back to eBook buying.


Next, I blew $.99 on the best of Willa Cather with The Prairie Trilogy: Novels of the Great Plains (including free audiobooks).  Ninety-nine cents for books AND audio!


Then I thought "I must have The Jane Austen Collection: The Complete Works (Includes Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Lady Susan & more. Plus Audiobooks) on my desert island Kindle."  There went another $.99.


Here's where I went a little crazy.  I spent a whopping $1.99 on Louisa May Alcott Collection 39 Works: Little Women Series (Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men, Jo's Boys), An Old Fasioned Girl, Eight Cousins, Rose ... Mysterious Key, Under the Lilacs, MORE.


I needed Louisa May on there to keep Lucy Maud company.  Back in June I bought Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More for another $1.99.

That's a boatload of good reading for less than six bucks.  And it's a lot easier to carry all the books to the beach on my Kindle.

What have you been reading this summer?  Or tell me about your best Kindle deals! Cheers!


Friday, August 1, 2014

7QT: Such a long to-do list, I think I'll blog.

We are leaving for Michigan in the am.  The laundry isn't done.  There are still groceries to buy (Hello Aldi cheap beach snacks!).  The house is a mess.  But I think I'll cough up seven quick takes and tell the big kids to make brownies, because these things are important.

1.
Those people down there are my people.
Michigan.  It's just like this.  On a lake with a beer and a baby.

2.

We have a new Christian in the house!


Many, many thanks to Fr. Steve Grunow of Word on Fire for coming down to our neck of the woods to baptize Polly and to the many family members who journeyed far and cut vacations short to be with us on this great occasion!

3.  Here are some examples of how Old Scratch tried to spoil the day interspersed with photos that are not related to the text.


My dishwasher broke the night before.  Patrick duct taped it so the tape was barely noticeable and the dishwasher still functioned.


The morning of, in a group effort to get beverages in the coolers, Lucy picked up a 12 pack of beer on the back porch and the box broke!  Broken glass and beer everywhere!


Then after cleaning up that mess, Susan was stirring a glass pitcher of OJ RIGHT BEFORE WE WERE TO WALK OUT THE DOOR, AND THE PITCHER BROKE!  Glass and OJ all over my clean kitchen.

At this point, Patrick, Polly, Jill, and I took off for the church, leaving the oldest four to clean and make their own way.


Polly was a perfect baby for the entire ceremony except for some serious fussiness and squirming during the prayer of exorcism.  But then Fr. Steve called the Holy Spirit down on her, and she settled right down.

4.  The rest of the day was just lovely.  There was no Bacon Cake left.  No ham.  None of the four egg casseroles.  No Prosecco.  It was a great feast!

Then we napped.


My hair looked pretty good too.  Washed it the day before.  Curly friends, you got to get educated in Ouidad.  I read about this nursing friendly dress on this blog.  Thanks, Tess.  Sorry not sorry I got the same print as she did.  It's the prettiest one.

5.  Some of the male party guests were complaining about our gorgeous vegetable garden. I think they were afraid their wives would get ideas.


I'm linking up with Cari's Garden Post. Our harvest has been small so far.  Some lettuce, Swiss Chard, basil, and a total of 2 cucumbers and 9 green beans.  This is our first attempt at vegetable gardening.


Each of those cucumbers cost us about $175.

There are zillions of green tomatoes too.  I'm certain everything will ripen while we are away.  If you live locally, swing by my back yard and help yourselves.  I have a good gazpacho recipe here.


The pepper plants look good, but no peppers.  The watermelon was about the size of a golf ball, but squirrels got it somehow.  It looks like we will do well with pumpkins.  That will save me about $8 this fall.


Next year, I'm growing zucchini and arugula.

Mixing the compost.
BTW, the vegetable garden is all the work of Patrick, Edmund, and Peter.  Any and all flowers are my domain, and they are all dead or mostly dead, which is why they are not pictured.

6.

On Monday, we took our Houston family members to the zoo.  They left from the zoo for the airport, but we stayed and went to the Butterfly House.


Patrick is SKEERED of butterflies, so we have never been there before.

It was gorgeous and magical and I want to live there.  Or at least spend a couple of hours in there with a large iced tea.

7.

Jill is talking about this moment when she says she touched a pig at the zoo.

I suppose that's enough procrastinating.

I will try to keep up with the WWRW posts, but there is a serious lack of internet and even cell coverage where we're going.  Don't you ever think that I'd skip a What We're Reading Wednesday post because I haven't read any books.  Jill would never let that happen.

Linking up with Jennifer @ Conversion Diary and Cari @ Clan Donaldson.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WWRW and My Five Favorites Mason Jar Edition

It's been a crazy week here.  I can honestly say the only books I've read this week are picture books for Jill and a free e-book on my Kindle. I downloaded Salads To Go last November, but it sure came in handy this first week of school.


This little e-book has great recipes for mason jar salads, using international flavors to add variety.  As you know, I'm always on a quest to change up the lunchbox scene, trying to avoid the mundane square sandwich.


I've got three girls in high school this year.  (Need any drama?  I'm sure I'll have extra.) We whipped up some mason jar salads for day 2 of school.


I used a Salads To Go recipe for vinaigrette, then we layered red peppers, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, mozzarella (cut-up string cheese), and baby spinach.  The after-school verdict was "delicious" and "maybe a little too much food" for my skinny Spaniard.

The one key point missing from Salads To Go was what size jar to get.  Pinterest led me to this article that revealed the magic size is a quart jar.

I picked up 12 jars for $10 and change and Walmart. Ball mason jars are BPA free and dishwasher safe, not to mention a lot cheaper than the Pyrex my kids (and spouse) been losing at school (and work) for years.

That's my first favorite.

2.

At Peter's graduation party, I used half pint sized jars, $.50 boxes of Crayolas, and all those school pictures I've been collecting over the years for table decor.  We covered the tables with brown craft paper, and the kids, teens, and even the odd adult took advantage.

3.  

I used pint-sized jars, raffia, and Gerber daisies from Costco for centerpieces for Polly's baptism.  Her real name means daisy.  Get it?  Daisies?

4. 

I found this Mason Jar Flower Frog at my local gardening store, but you can get them from Amazon too.


I just stuck a few cosmos from the garden in there.  I'm going to be growing a lot more cosmos next year, they did much better than my marigolds.

5.  

The last way I like to use mason jars is for my favorite beverage.  Unsweetened iced tea.  Made with Lipton.  I'm not fancy.

Anyhoo.  I'm linking this link-up with Heather.  


Also, Micaela is going to link-up a new and fabulous on-line book club today!  Please check it out, I'm in it. You should be too.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

7QT: International Student, Graduation Party, and Boy Bait

1.

A big welcome to our latest addition, Maria!  Maria is from Seville, Spain and will be living with us for the entire school year. 

Maria's family and our family have known each other for some time now.  Peter stayed and traveled with Maria's family when he went to World Youth Day in Madrid and walked the Camino de Santiago.

Peter and my dad in 2012 holding Peter's certificate of completion for the Camino de Santiago.
We are very excited to have Maria here.  It's going to be a fun year!

2.

Saturday, we had a graduation/going away party for Peter.


It rained for two hours before the party.  Thank goodness we rented a tent!


The rain cooled things off, but left our yard a little soggy.

"diplomas"
3.

That didn't stop anyone from having a grand old time.



Maria and some new friends in the bounce house.

People partied like rock stars.  In fact, as I type this on Sunday morning, some of the rock stars are still here, asleep.

4.  This chocolate cake was the flavor favorite.


But our heartfelt sentiments on the vanilla one were enjoyed by all.


5.  Speaking of cake, Lucy and a friend whipped up not one but TWO pans of Blueberry Boy Bait for me this week.


She used the fresh blueberries we picked at Uncle Bill's place in Michigan, and she used coconut oil, the kind that smells like coconut.

The smell while the Boy Bait was baking was out-of-this-world, but I can't really taste the coconut in the finished product.


Wait.

Let me taste it again.

I'm not sure, maybe a hint.

Better taste it one more time to be sure.


Nope.  I don't think so.  I will keep researching this for more data.

We used this recipe, because it uses lot more blueberries than the America's Test Kitchen one.

6.  Overheard:

Patrick:  Wash both of your hands.

Anonymous:  I only got poop on one of my hands.

Patrick:  Wash both of your hands.

7.

Overheard:

Jill:  I got chocolate on my underpants.

Patrick: It's okay, Jessica, it's really chocolate.  Here, smell.

I didn't smell it, but it was chocolate. And That my Friends is why I discourage eating in the bathroom.

Until next week, visit Jen.  TTFN.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WWRW: Heaven Is For Real


It was 2 years ago on July 17th that my sister Mary's passed into eternal life. Wondering what she's up to now, I read Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo.

I had already been told about most of the tales of 4 year old Colton Burpo's experience in heaven, but a few details I found to be of note.

1.  The wounds of Christ.


Colton, a Protestant kid, raised by his Protestant pastor father, mother, and faith community mentions "Jesus' markers" first when asked to describe what Jesus looks like. Colton had likely never seen a crucifix. It is only after further discussion that his father realizes that by "markers" Colton is referring to the five wounds of Christ.

2.  People wear white robes? And different colored sashes?


Um.  Boring.  Lame-o.  Upon further reflection, I wonder if Colton experienced a PG version of heaven.  I mean, Adam and Eve didn't wear clothes in the first paradise, so I'm kind of wondering why we'll be wearing clothes in the second one, what with our glorified bodies and all.

However, if we are going to be clothed in the afterlife, it's going to be way better clothing than white albs and dolmadic sashes like deacons. C'mon. I have often thought that with my sister Mary's embroidery skills, she might be spending some heavenly free time working on some gorgeous robes for The Mary.


3.  Animals.

As I said on Facebook today, Colton says he saw lots of animals in heaven: dogs, horses, birds, and even a lion. Nowhere in the book does Colton say he saw any cats. Make of that what you will.

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is light and easy reading.  I'd let any kid read it.  Todd does mention his wife's miscarriage, and how Colton met his sister in heaven, as well as heavenly battle to be fought with swords against Satan and his angels.

I told Edmund that (according to Colton) there are swords in heaven and that Jesus has a sword.  He immediately wanted to know how many and what kind.  That kid.  sigh.


One more thing. I read the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva, and it wasn't nearly as clean, or as good a read as Fallen Angel. The Kill Artist has lots of sex. Allon is still a virtuous man (though he hasn't always been) but the bad guys in this book like to use and sometimes abuse women. Consider yourself warned.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WWRW: THE Paperback Novel

Last year, I shared my favorite grown-up fiction books.  There are numerous spy novels on the list.


Now, I'm going to add Daniel Silva's The Fallen Angel: A Novel (Gabriel Allon Book 12).

Book 12.  You read that right.  I jumped in at Book 12 because my friend, Kris, told me too.

Gabriel Allon is a world-renowned art restorer AND an Israeli intelligence agent.  Artist/Spy.  Are you hooked yet?

The story opens with our hero restoring a Caravaggio. (I adore Caravaggio.  The Conversion of St. Paul is my favorite.) In the Vatican!  For the Pope!

But wait!  A body has been found in St. Peter's Basilica.  Did she jump from the dome balustrade?  Or was she pushed?  Gabriel Allon is called away from his painting to solve the murder.

What starts out as a murder mystery ends up as a race to stop Islamist terrorists focused on attacking both Jews and Christians on Good Friday, in Jerusalem.  And the Pope just happens to be visiting the Holy Land right at the same time!

Patrick read this one first, and he agreed.  It's a great fast-paced novel.  Prime for making the leap to the big screen.

If all adult books were like this one, and the one I reviewed two weeks ago, I'd seriously think about quitting my kid book habit.  As it stands, I've got the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist, on my Kindle from the library.  But don't tell Patrick.

Silva's book is an adult book.  Allon is married, and there are some mentions of bedroom moments.  I'm letting my 18 year old son read it, but I hesitate to say it's appropriate for all teens.

The Fallen Angel is also extremely interesting because it deals with Islamist terrorists, governments, and many problems of the Middle East.  Sound like anything else you've been reading about lately?

"The last time" my friend, Kris, went to Rome, she and her husband ate at La Cave, the restaurant next door to the Art Squad of the Italian Carabinieri, the same restaurant that Gabriel eats at early in the novel.  Fan-girl geeking out, right here!

I am also thrilled with the author's notes at the end of the book in which he thanks "my dear friend, George Weigel" the biographer of St. John Paul the Great.  Patrick has met George, and Patrick's cousin works with George.


So maybe...George, Daniel, Kris, and I (and maybe our spouses) could all have dinner together sometime.  At La Cave.  It could happen.


*I'm updating this post to add the following:
One more thing. I read the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva, and it wasn't nearly as clean, or as good a read as Fallen Angel. The Kill Artist has lots of sex. Allon is still a virtuous man (though he hasn't always been) but the bad guys in this book like to use and sometimes abuse women. Consider yourself warned.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WWRW: Best eBook Bang for Your Buck

Hello!  I'm either on a beach right now...or I'm in a damp cottage playing Ticket To Ride and sipping a Mommy's Little Helper.


My Ft. Worth in-laws came up with the Mommy's Little Helper cocktail, low in calories, gluten-free, yet crisp and refreshing.

LaCroix + Vodka + splash of cranberry juice + lime = Mommy's Little Helper.


I like to call my vodka "Tito" and my chardonnay "Kim" as in Kim Crawford.

You probably want to talk about books.


Before leaving for this trip, I borrowed some recommended reads from my public library through My Media Mall.  That's how I got The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  I haven't read it yet, but Joy did and linked up her review a few weeks ago.


I also went a little crazy over at Amazon, loading my Kindle as though I was going to live on a desert island for the rest of my days.


A girl can't go to a desert island without her favorite (and the greatest and the shortest) Dickens' novel of all time:  A Tale of Two Cities.  Click on the title and you can download it for freeeeee!

Best opening line ever:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

The second sentence is also magnificent.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.
That Sydney Carton.  One of the greatest literary heroes ever.  O, that I could see him played on-screen by Alan Rickman.  Hmm.  Syndney and Snape.  So many similarities.  Much alliteration.  Less drinky, more bloggy.

Back to eBook buying.


Next, I blew $.99 on the best of Willa Cather with The Prairie Trilogy: Novels of the Great Plains (including free audiobooks).  Ninety-nine cents for books AND audio!


Then I thought "I must have The Jane Austen Collection: The Complete Works (Includes Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Lady Susan & more. Plus Audiobooks) on my desert island Kindle."  There went another $.99.


Here's where I went a little crazy.  I spent a whopping $1.99 on Louisa May Alcott Collection 39 Works: Little Women Series (Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men, Jo's Boys), An Old Fasioned Girl, Eight Cousins, Rose ... Mysterious Key, Under the Lilacs, MORE.


I needed Louisa May on there to keep Lucy Maud company.  Back in June I bought Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More for another $1.99.

That's a boatload of good reading for less than six bucks.  And it's a lot easier to carry all the books to the beach on my Kindle.

What have you been reading this summer?  Or tell me about your best Kindle deals! Cheers!


Friday, August 1, 2014

7QT: Such a long to-do list, I think I'll blog.

We are leaving for Michigan in the am.  The laundry isn't done.  There are still groceries to buy (Hello Aldi cheap beach snacks!).  The house is a mess.  But I think I'll cough up seven quick takes and tell the big kids to make brownies, because these things are important.

1.
Those people down there are my people.
Michigan.  It's just like this.  On a lake with a beer and a baby.

2.

We have a new Christian in the house!


Many, many thanks to Fr. Steve Grunow of Word on Fire for coming down to our neck of the woods to baptize Polly and to the many family members who journeyed far and cut vacations short to be with us on this great occasion!

3.  Here are some examples of how Old Scratch tried to spoil the day interspersed with photos that are not related to the text.


My dishwasher broke the night before.  Patrick duct taped it so the tape was barely noticeable and the dishwasher still functioned.


The morning of, in a group effort to get beverages in the coolers, Lucy picked up a 12 pack of beer on the back porch and the box broke!  Broken glass and beer everywhere!


Then after cleaning up that mess, Susan was stirring a glass pitcher of OJ RIGHT BEFORE WE WERE TO WALK OUT THE DOOR, AND THE PITCHER BROKE!  Glass and OJ all over my clean kitchen.

At this point, Patrick, Polly, Jill, and I took off for the church, leaving the oldest four to clean and make their own way.


Polly was a perfect baby for the entire ceremony except for some serious fussiness and squirming during the prayer of exorcism.  But then Fr. Steve called the Holy Spirit down on her, and she settled right down.

4.  The rest of the day was just lovely.  There was no Bacon Cake left.  No ham.  None of the four egg casseroles.  No Prosecco.  It was a great feast!

Then we napped.


My hair looked pretty good too.  Washed it the day before.  Curly friends, you got to get educated in Ouidad.  I read about this nursing friendly dress on this blog.  Thanks, Tess.  Sorry not sorry I got the same print as she did.  It's the prettiest one.

5.  Some of the male party guests were complaining about our gorgeous vegetable garden. I think they were afraid their wives would get ideas.


I'm linking up with Cari's Garden Post. Our harvest has been small so far.  Some lettuce, Swiss Chard, basil, and a total of 2 cucumbers and 9 green beans.  This is our first attempt at vegetable gardening.


Each of those cucumbers cost us about $175.

There are zillions of green tomatoes too.  I'm certain everything will ripen while we are away.  If you live locally, swing by my back yard and help yourselves.  I have a good gazpacho recipe here.


The pepper plants look good, but no peppers.  The watermelon was about the size of a golf ball, but squirrels got it somehow.  It looks like we will do well with pumpkins.  That will save me about $8 this fall.


Next year, I'm growing zucchini and arugula.

Mixing the compost.
BTW, the vegetable garden is all the work of Patrick, Edmund, and Peter.  Any and all flowers are my domain, and they are all dead or mostly dead, which is why they are not pictured.

6.

On Monday, we took our Houston family members to the zoo.  They left from the zoo for the airport, but we stayed and went to the Butterfly House.


Patrick is SKEERED of butterflies, so we have never been there before.

It was gorgeous and magical and I want to live there.  Or at least spend a couple of hours in there with a large iced tea.

7.

Jill is talking about this moment when she says she touched a pig at the zoo.

I suppose that's enough procrastinating.

I will try to keep up with the WWRW posts, but there is a serious lack of internet and even cell coverage where we're going.  Don't you ever think that I'd skip a What We're Reading Wednesday post because I haven't read any books.  Jill would never let that happen.

Linking up with Jennifer @ Conversion Diary and Cari @ Clan Donaldson.