Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Stack of Books: September 2015

Linking up with Anne!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the books I have read in the last month.

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
This was one of my top reads of the summer.  I am an absolute sucker for anything WWII-era, and set in London, no less. 

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
Post-WWII, set in London.  I'm not sure how this book ended up in my library bag, and I think I'll get more out of this one on a re-read.  So many heavy themes in here--love, hate, faith, God, life, death.

Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety
This was the second Stegner novel I read this month.  Anne raves about it so much--and it didn't disappoint.  It's about not much and everything all at the same time.

Secrets of a Charmed Life, Susan Meissner
At the end of this book, there is a reading group guide or something, and in that section, Meissner mentions Life After Life as an influence--so that's how I got to Life After Life.  Again, this book is right in my wheelhouse.  The descriptions of life in London during the war are so heartbreaking.

The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner
My "starter Stegner" because Crossing to Safety wasn't available at the library at the time.  After finishing the book I learned that this is the third novel to feature the main character.  I would recommend Crossing to Safety over this one.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
I've seen this one everywhere and finally got around to reading it.  Entertaining. I love stories where you get a chance to see an opposing character's point of view--Liane Moriarty is good at that, too.  This was entertaining.

David Lodge, Therapy
This was a re-read.  I first read this about 20 years ago, and Anne had mentioned David Lodge in a post recently, so I sought this one out.  Toward the end of the story, the characters go on a pilgrimage in Spain.  That stuck with me from 20 years ago, and it still sounds like something I'd like to see and maybe do...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goals: Around the House

One of my perennial goals is to hang family pictures in our home.  When we first moved into this house ten years ago this week, I was stuck.  I wanted to badly to have this house feel like home, and yet we had just gone through the psychological trauma of de-personalizing our old home so that we could sell it.  I was afraid of nails!

I have improved over the years, and there are a couple of places in our home where I have put up a gallery wall.  Command adhesive strips have really helped--if I want to move the pictures, they don't leave any holes in the wall!

Last summer (as in 2014) we finished our basement.  We had some shelves built into one wall, and last year, I put in most of these pictures.
 It was a good start, but other than that, the walls were left blank.
And that's a lotta wall space!
On our California trip, I brought home cards to frame as souvenirs.  Once we got home, I chose some pictures and ordered enlargements from Snapfish.  I have used Snapfish since back when I used film in my camera--I have pictures from when my son was born on their cloud.  (That son just turned 12 over the weekend.)  And then I took advantage of all of the great coupons at Joann and Michael's last weekend.  And today I used every last command strip in the house for this--the start of our new basement gallery wall.

Here is how it looks next to the bookcase.  There is plenty of room to the left of the frames to add on as we go.  We have many years of past vacations I can add.  In fact, I ordered some prints from our 2014 vacation just today.

I am learning that "slow and steady" is the way to go when making a house into a home!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trip Pictures (Mike, this one's for you!)

As I mentioned in my last post, we took an epic family trip last week.

Entering Yosemite from CA-140
Our first stop--Tunnel View

The kids seem to be enjoying the day.

View from Yosemite Valley

Can you hear me yelling at the kids?  Especially the one with the camera?  There were signs posted all over about how some fleas (that live on squirrels and other small rodents) have tested positive for plague.  For PLAGUE.

Pictures really don't do it justice--to come into a park and see all these massive granite mountains.

In years past this was probably a riverbed with dangerously rushing waters.  Not so this year.

I'm 98% sure this is Sentinel Dome.

Half Dome.  One of the coolest things I've seen.  Haze in the picture is actually smoke from a wildfire that is about 3 hours away.

At the top of Sentinel Dome.  Not easy to walk up a big rock at 8000' elevation. But we're smiling anyway.

 A couple of days later, we were heading north to Muir Woods.

Again, pictures don't do it justice.

Sausalito for lunch.

We spent hours (and hours) in the car:  Three hours from SFO to Yosemite.  At least a half hour from our hotel in Yosemite to anything in the park.  Three hours back to San Francisco.  Two and a half hours to Monterey. Another two and a half hours to Hearst Castle.  And then four hours back to SFO in time for the red-eye home. The silver lining to that is that Rob realized that he does NOT want to take a family trip where we drive cross-country.  I'm pretty pleased about that development.  I prefer family vacations where we're in one spot (like the beach) and we generally eat in and just relax.  I don't particularly enjoy trips where we have to unload and reload the suitcases and the car every couple of days.  It's hard enough to get everyone packed up the first time, and to have to worry about re-packing and making sure nothing gets left behind and keeping the dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes...well, it's almost too much.

So that was our summer trip.  Pretty grand.  I'm sure the kids will look back on that one as pretty awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What I'm Into: August 2015 (and a welcome back)

I'm linking up with Leigh for the first time in a long, long time.  Life took me in some different directions over the past year or so, and being here couldn't be a priority.  I have decided to come back, to resume linking up and posting here, because I have missed the conversations.

Today was the first day of school for the kids, and I was very relieved about that.  I started a new job in April, and Rob started in a new position at his work shortly after that.  We've both been adjusting to increased demands on our time, and there have definitely been some growing pains.  We just took an epic family vacation last week, and we are all still suffering from jet lag.  This first week back will be extra challenging!

This blog has had many flavors over the years, and I've decided that as I move forward, it will reflect the things that interest me: kids and parenting, looking good and feeling good, meal planning, and of course, reading. 

But enough with the catch up, let's see what I've been into this August:

Not much watching went on this August.  As a family, we tried an episode of In the Wild with Bear Grylls.  We saw the Kate Winslet episode.  We enjoyed it, but due to a DVR programming failure, we haven't seen any more.  Next up for family viewing: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!  We had missed the Sharknado hoopla of previous summers.  This was so bad, it was hilarious.  Very bloody--a little too much gore for my taste.  But very campy.

As for personal viewing, I have been watching Doc Martin.

 I discovered this on a British channel when Rob and I were in France.  Rob doesn't get why I like it so much, but it's full of quirky characters and is set in a beautiful seaside town in England.  I think that's all the explanation needed.

Fawlty Towers: One of the waiters we had last week recommended this series.  It's an old British series starring John Cleese.  I admit, I tried watching the first episode on Saturday (after we took the red-eye home from California).  I couldn't stay awake.  I will give the rest of it a shot, but I feel like what was so groundbreaking back then may just be the way it's done now, so it won't feel so new and fabulous to me.  I had a similar experience when I finally saw Annie Hall--25 years after it came out, it didn't feel original because so many rom-coms follow the Annie Hall template now.

I go into major meal-planning mode every September, and this year is no different.  I will share more on this soon.  I also discovered many new cooking blogs through Pioneer Woman--and she has a new book coming out this fall.

I read a couple of the Madame Chic books this summer, and I just loved the 10 Item Wardrobe idea so much that I have given it a shot.  It's more like a 20 Item Wardrobe, but it has made getting dressed for work so much easier.

I had a summer reading plan.  I called it "Three Classics and One New One."  The classics: Middlemarch, War and Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The new one: Go Set a Watchman.  I got three-fourths of this plan done.  I abandoned War and Peace about 40 pages in.  So many names!  So many people to keep track of!  I decided that this might be better winter reading. 

But!  There were many other classics that I read over the summer: Howard's End, Crossing to Safety, Persuasion, and The Spectator Bird, among others.  And there were plenty of titles from Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading List. It has been a very good summer for reading.

So there you have it--August.  It's good to be back.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Stack of Books: August 2014

I'm linking up with Anne again.  I have finally hit my stride with the summer reading.  We have about two weeks left before the kids go back to school, but I have no intentions of slowing down!
I'm feeling lazy this month, so no reviews, only pictures:

See you in September!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Stack of Books: July 2014

I'm linking up with Anne again.  Now that school is out--we ended on June 20th, so we really haven't hit our stride with summer yet--I am able to ramp up my reading.  Evidently I'm in the midst of a unit on the thirties and forties!

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
Another fine installment in the Maisie Dobbs series.  I believe there is one more after this (so far).  I know Winspear has just published a new, non-Maisie, novel--thus my reading list grows again!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
More like un-put-down-able.  One thing after another that this man endured!  I found myself wondering about our world now--we are so accustomed to getting a trophy just for playing, could any of us endure what Zamperini (or his entire generation, for that matter) endured?  There are so many lessons to be learned from his generation.  This book should be required reading for everyone.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Set in Seattle in 1942.  A friendship between a Chinese-American boy and a Japanese-American girl.  This book is on the reading list for my ninth-grade daughter.  She didn't want to read it, so I did.  A nice counterpoint to Unbroken.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
I read this on Anne's recommendation.  It started slowly for me compared to Unbroken, which just pulled me right in.  Nevertheless, the more I read, the more I wanted to read it.  Again, another great story about resilient people.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Stack of Books: June 2014

I'm linking up with Anne again.  This month has been crazy busy.  We are in our last week of school, and I am very much looking forward to afternoons and evenings full of reading time.  As you will see, not many books were finished over the last month.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I loaded this on my kindle before our Texas trip, and I read 90% of it on the flight.  I really enjoyed this.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
This one I read in the mornings while eating breakfast.  Good ideas.

I am off to make my summer reading list!  See you next month.