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Showing posts from January, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~Books #3 and #4

I managed two books this week, mainly because the first one was so short I finished it on Sunday. Read on for details . . .

Having watched the film version of 84, Charing Cross Road many times I was eager to read the book. I reserved it from our local library and was surprised by its modest dimensions when the librarian handed it over. Ninety-seven pages, that was all, and those not very full either. The book consists of letters exchanged between Helene Hanff, living in New York City, and the employees of Marks & Co., a used bookshop in London. Unable to get what she wants in New York, Hanff writes to Marks and Co., and thus begins a long, warm, and even loving relationship between her and Frank Doel, Cecily Farr, and the other "inmates" of the shop. The correspondence lasts for many years, and a real friendship springs up between them, though they never meet. The movie supplies a lot of details that the reader of the book must infer and fills in large dollops of n…

On My Mind

Brenda at Down to Earth has started a new Friday feature called "On My Mind" in which participants share something they are thinking about today. Here's my contribution:

The nice man in the brown truck delivered two highly diverting packages this week. One contained fabric for making dishtowels and dustcloths! The selvedges are finished so all I have to do is cut the length I want, hem both ends, and I've got a nifty new cloth. Girl of the House has some too for her hope chest, and I have more than enough to save for later and for giving. is having a terrific sale. (Thanks to Like Mother, Like Daughter for the link.)

We ordered our garden seeds early to take advantage of another terrific sale at Henry Field's. I plan to plant lettuce indoors in window boxes on our back porch and keep it going year round. Maybe I won't have to buy anymore lettuce. When we want some, we'll just go pick some. Think it'll work?

For Your Reading Pleasure

Some interesting links from around the web:

Are you sure you want a husband who . . .?

Regulation vs. Legislation

Head Start Fraud: It's Worse Than You Think

Leila waxes eloquent on the common dishtowel here and here.

2011 Reading Challenge~Book #2

Last night I crossed book #2 of my reading challenge, Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, off my list of "gotta reads." It was different than I expected but enjoyable. Not amazing, but enjoyable. Reading it was like sitting down with an elderly relative and listening to her stories of her childhood. Mildred Armstrong Kalish reminisces about growing up on a farm during the Depression without emphasizing deprivation, which was a welcome change from other Depresseion-era books I've read (which admittedly are not many). While her young self was far from pampered, she feels blessed to have grown up when and where she did. The amount of work required from the entire family to produce the food that they would eat (very little was bought) is staggering. Yet they all willingly pitched in and never complained . . . well, seldom complained. Their thrift and ingenuity fill in any perceived lack in their lives. They seeme…

From My Commonplace Book

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."~~James D. Miles

"I am afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become currupt."~~Martin Luther

"The feeling that 'if nothing is happening, nothing is happening' is the prejudice of a superficial, dependent and hollow spirit, one that has succumbed to the age and can prove its own excellence only by the pseudo-events it is constantly organizing, like a bee, to that end."~~Vaclav Havel

"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."~~Adlai Stevenson

2011 Reading Challenge~Book #1

Last night I finished the first book in my reading challenge: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. This is the fascinating book I mentioned earlier, and I had actually begun it before starting my reading challenge, but since I wasn't more than halfway through this 450 page book, and some of the books waiting their turn are much shorter, I decided to count it.

Bryson uses his 1851 rectory in the English countryside as a jumping off point for exploring a wide range of historical topics loosely related to domestic life, everything from adulterated flour to the development of the staircase to the rise to prominance of the flush toilet. He hits on archeology, architecture, and agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, insecticides, and infectious diseases, to name a few. The "aha!" moments abound. If you are a fan of British literature and history, then this book will connect a lot of dots and fill in puzzling social and historical background. The author…

2011 Reading Challenge

My reading lagged a bit last year, so I've decided to challenge myself in 2011. My goal is to read a book a week~52 weeks, 52 books. I'm actually a week late getting started, so if I don't make up the time during 2011 I'll let myself lapse into 2012 a bit. I've already got a shelf set up with 15 or so books to tackle for starters. Some are very short (Good-bye, Mr. Chips) and some are much longer (The Pickwick Papers), so if I take more than a week to finish a long one, I can follow it up with a short one and still be on track. I will allow myself audio books as well. Looking at my pile so far, I see I need some more non-fiction and some books older than Dickens. I believe in C.S. Lewis' dictum about reading old books.

You can see what's on the docket in the sidebar, and every weekend I plan to post about that week's book. If I'm not able to keep up the pace, attempting to will result in my reading more books than I would have otherwise, so…

Easy Sewing

MSW Mom Jan asked for pattern specifics in a comment on my last post, so I thought I'd post it here along with a couple other easy patterns I've used with success.

Butterick B4803~~This is the pattern that I used to make Girl of the House the skirt in the last post. I used view E as it was the simplest and most straightforward, but I'm going to branch out into some of the more complex skirts for springtime. NOTE: I didn't use the faux drawstring because Girl 2 didn't like it. I just left the elastic waist plain, but since she never tucks things in, it didn't matter.

McCall's 2450~For making pillows. Some use a pattern; some just have instructions. I have not made any of the pillows that require the pattern, but I have made a couple using the instructions. They were easy to follow and the pillows turned out well. Quite simple to use.

Simplicity 5923~For making pajamas. I made the long pajamas pants for Girl 2. It's the hardest pattern of the three,…


Every day happenings at our house . . .

You know Christmas is over when the seed catalogs begin arriving. We got our first shortly after Christmas Day. It's funny, but as soon as Christmas is over, I begin hankering for spring just a little. Christmas is a mental turning point for me; before that the snow and cold are just part of the season and part of life, but after the Christmas tree comes down, I involuntarily begin looking ahead to spring. I actually like this time of year. The quiet weeks after the Christmas festivities are welcome. School has found its groove and is humming along nicely, there's no gardening or yardwork, and hunkering down with a good book or movie or my sewing machine is a pleasure. We practically ignore Valentine's Day around here, though we do have two birthdays in February. It's the quietest time of the year, and I like it. But behind it all I'm thinking about spring. It won't be here for quite awhile yet, but I will be sub…

Reading Jackpot

I have verily hit the jackpot with my reading lately. I have finished two beautiful and profound books and am in the middle of a simply fascinating book, but I won't tell you about that until I finish it. I will, however, tell you about the other two.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry~Oh! I am in raptures about this book! I had not read any Wendell Berry before, and actually I listened to this one on CD, but I will get myself to the library to get more soon. Berry writes with a beautiful simplicity and straightforwardness that was a joy to my ear. His prose is musical in rhythm and cadence. Hannah is someone I wish I knew. I loved listening to her tell her life story. I felt like I was sitting with a beloved elderly relative reminiscing about her past. Hannah's was a simple life and not very sophisticated, but she shares her wisdom freely and without pretension. This is a late book of Berry's, and so I assume that his fully formed philosophies and beliefs can be fou…

Christmas 2010

For all of posterity, here is a somewhat (in)complete record of our Christmas festivities. This is the first Christmas since Man of the House and I were married in 1987 that we have not traveled for Christmas. We loved being at home! Even more we loved having Girl Out of the House (Girl 1) and That Boy visiting!

Man of the House had Christmas Eve services at two churches. It just doesn't seem like Christmas without singing God's praises and welcoming His Son come in the flesh for us.

A picture of our tree trimmed and stockings stuffed late Christmas Eve . . . or was it early Christmas morning by this point?

Here's the same shot with the flash on so you can actually see everything. With me it's either flash on or flash off. I'm a point and click kind of gal.

I made those stockings for Girl 1 and That Boy! They didn't have anything really nice, so I decided to remedy that. With many dark mutterings, quiet cursings, and a little weeping and wailing and gna…