Saturday, February 22, 2020

Finally. Sun.

Oh, it has been so gloomy this month. But for a few days, at least, we've had sun and somewhat warming temperatures. I'm not looking for blooms yet, but someone on my FB neighborhood page said they saw a robin, so I'll take that as a good sign. I hope he's as attractive as this one from last fall!

I'm rising on the "get better" scale and pushing full power. It has been a great improvement over the past few days. I felt good enough the other night to get out for the first time and see "Into the Woods," one of my favorite Sondheim shows. It was done by our university and boy, those kids were terrific. This production could hold its own with many a professional musical.

Rick had an especially good workday on Friday and surprised me by an invitation to dinner at a lovely restaurant. So, I took a nap and was ready to roll. What a treat! Tannin moved from the suburbs to into the city (OK, the small city) and with it, their prices came down and I swear their food quality went up. I'd been to the old place and didn't like it much at all but this new one -- which took over an old Kentucky Fried Chicken site -- was great! I think we just about closed the place down!

We splurged with wine, appetizer and wonderful entrees, which we could get as small plates, all we needed after the appetizer. I am beginning to feel that I am re-entering the world again.

Rick is heading north over the weekend to go skiing with Greg, the oldest. I thought I'd make up some cookies to send along for the ski -- and for Greg to take with him. Oatmeal with heath bar and salted caramel chips!

This is the recipe I used (below) from the "America's Test Kitchen TV Cookbook." They turned out quite well, I think.

Although, next time I'd cut the baking time down. I don't think it's the oven; things I've done on familiar times in there have been fine but these got a little too crisp! Still, tasty enough to send along with the guys (and some to keep for a snack!)

I finished a mystery called "Desperate" by Patti Battison while sidelined. I debated whether or not I should start the second in the series because in the first I picked out the murderer in the first by page 19. I kept hoping I was wrong because it's so disappointing to feel you figured out something so early and easily without really having to work at it.

Agatha Christie believed that the clues should be available for the reader to find along with Miss Marple but she does it so masterfully it still is hard for me to detect the villain -- even when I've read the book before! But this writer dropped way too many clues. At least, too many for me. I believe it's a self-published book and part of me would really like to write to her and say "if you hadn't done this, then I probably wouldn't have figured it out." (If she just dropped the first three pages, I might never have guessed).

I figured I should give her another chance so just finished the second in the series, "Obsessed."  It was much better, good twists, some decent character development from the recurring characters in book one. I have a third and will most likely do it next while I'm on a roll. Then it will be time for another biography or memoir, I think.

My absentee ballot for the primary arrived. As I type this, at least seven of the candidates listed have dropped out. I'm not sending it in till after Super Tuesday because who knows who will dump by then.

Pet peeve: Putting ballot tax/millage issues on non-major-election ballots. They always bury them, either in August when no one is in town or in the primary. These might get a little more traction, given that the primary is so lively this year. But otherwise, major taxing decisions tend to be voted on by a startlingly small group of people. It should have at least 50 percent of registered voters voting to pass something like this.

And I finished another felted ornament for next year's sale, along with a couple of special orders. This star makes me happy!

That's a good way to describe me. Happy again!

And the sun is still out!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On the Couch and All Over the Map

Sometimes it's just an effort to keep going forward! The past week wasn't the best. We were both sick; Rick got better faster than I did. I somehow ended up on antibiotics again because they know that if I get infection and it goes in the lungs, that's a serious issue. So I've been spending time on the couch, trying to kick the fever, drinking tea and reading when I could.

I did enjoy the Washington series on History channel, though. I know shockingly little about the Revolutionary War. I know more now!

I finished "When Paris Sizzled." Not bad if you are interested in the decadent lives of people like Cocteau, Ravel, Le Courbousier, Chanel, Josephine Baker and others. I was glad to get it done though and start something a little more fun.

I've been felting too. Earlier this month I finished another Santa. I should have angled him a little more for the photo so you could see his red cap!

This is my first angel. To be honest, I don't think she's that good but a good prototype to refine in future needle pokings! Faces are hard for me!

I've  also been working on some future ornaments -- all still in what I call "undercoating," making the body all white before I start messing with the color. I've stacked up a few. And I finished these two little robins that went off to Rita of Panoply. Thank you, Rita!

It has been cold and wintry here but I find it hard to complain too much. It's so much better than last year, though I confess, I'm very tired of it all and looking forward to walks in the spring.

I've also had some fun genealogy discoveries which I want to write about a bit more. But remember when I showed this photo that just turned up in my basement?

Well, this book was down there too!

It's a year book with loads of photos, including this one -- she is the daughter of the woman above and my third great grandmother! (This is not a good resting face!)

I'd found this book before but after discovering that framed photo, went in search of it. As I was went splunking online to see if I could find out a little bit more on Hannah, I I hit the motherlode!

Part of the online search brought the text of an accompanying book that explains much about the photos which are about people and places in Cleveland, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Oberlin College and so much more. There were even little notes written by someone -- not sure who -- and asterisks on the index pages, so I know I have more looking up to do!

 A note to genealogy seekers -- if you are in Family Search, check the "books" section with the names you're looking for. You'll be surprised what you might find!  I was!

Speaking of books, this is my newest treasure. I swear this book weighs more than Lizzie. Well, not quite, but on the way!

I found it at my favorite market (yes, market -- but they have a book sale section) for -- $4.99! Do I already have lots of books on London? Did I snatch it up faster than you can say $4.99? You bet!

The sections are divided by categories like historic homes, food and drink, places of entertainment, shops, places of worship, Inns of the Court, unusual museums and science and education.

I don't know how I missed this art store when we were in London. It went to the top of the next time list!

The text is good and the photos are so well done, I'd like to frame every one for my walls.

Lucky day!

The therapy cat has been holding her own these days. Acting sweet and not too yappy.

I like that in a cat! I'm sure we'll be back to normal soon.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Valentine's Day - Better Late than Never!

We were ready to celebrate Valentine's Day. We were just a little short on the willing and able!

Cards and present made? Check.

Valentine gifts wrapped? Check.

Dessert cookie baked? Check. (Never mind that I couldn't find my heart-shaped springform pan. I free-formed it pretty well!)

No one told us about the possibility of nasty colds that made the whole prospect of spending a lovely evening together, complete with Rick's wonderful cooking and bread, a less than appetizing prospect! True, we enjoyed some bread and cheese, then said goodbye. Rescheduling a must!

I did get his gift finished. Those of you who have been reading awhile know that each year I make him a book that summarizes our year, complete with bad poetry! This was no exception.

The cover was a collage using dictionary pages, acrylics, leather die cuts and stamps. Inside, a look at our year.

No subject  was off limits, whether in a photo collection...

.... or poem.

Or both.

And of course, the Toddler Twosome made up more than a few pages!

I didn't get a lot of painted Valentines done but here is one...

...and another. I later painted the address of the recipient on the mailbox.

We figured we would try again on Sunday. After a day with minimal sleep the night before and a dishwasher problem at my house (it was overflowing and then dripping into the basement. I think my basement just wants to be wet), I was looking forward to being pampered!

And I was. Only, Rick's sink was having water issues too and not draining. So, he brought over dinner and cooked it here! My favorite, shrimp and grits! (Dishes by hand.)

I came up with a very impromptu table!

It was all delicious -- even the Valentine cookie. (Monique, thanks for idea and the link to the recipe HERE)

After dinner, we enjoyed "Midnight in Paris" before retiring to our respective corners and trying hard not to contaminate the other. We'll see if it worked!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

More About Books

I just loved your comments on my recent post on books! If you enjoyed that post but commented early (or skipped reading the comments) they are well worth a read! You shared so many of your favorites and how you like to read and so much more, some of which I've incorporated here as we keep the discussion going!

One thing is sure and reiterated by almost all of you: You love books. You may find challenges in having too many or what to do with the ones you are done with. You may have special types of favorites (or maybe you love them all). You may be a minimalist who has gone to digital reading -- or perhaps done so because you are clearing out your physical books as you downsize.

Or, you may have special shelves or libraries for your books. They may be stacked on stair steps or in attics or in the basement. I was delighted to know I wasn't the only one who kept books in the bathroom! But you love books, whether they are hardcover, paperback or digital. And I just love you all for that!

I've loved reading since I was a child. And loving books long before I knew my alphabet! Shortly after I learned how reading could take me into stories I might never have otherwise imagined, my parents took me to the Adirondacks on spring vacation. They were both delighted and frustrated that I hardly saw any of this trip as my head was in a book the whole way!

 From the comments, I learned that many of you developed your love of reading as children. You couldn't get enough then, you can't now.

I also learned that we all have lots of ways of tracking our reads, getting our books, storing them and (sometimes) letting them go!

Pat wondered if I got books from the library or purchase them new or used.

It depends on the book. If it's one I think I'll keep and refer to or add to a series, I'm inclined to buy it new (usually online) or possibly get used if it's in excellent shape. I have two friends with whom I trade books (see purging question below!). We'll send books we're done with to each other. Some of those move on again, others stop on my shelf forever. Finally, and this is mostly for a book club read of a current new book, I'll borrow from another Savory Sister (our book club). I did just get a library card (believe it or not -- my first since high school!), so who knows what might change.

I found that a lot of you use the library and three cheers on that! A recent Gallup Poll found that in 2019, more people went to the library than to the movies and I think that says great things for this valuable institution!

And what do you do with them after? How does one purge books when they are hard to part with?

Well, as you might guess, there are a lot I keep and they get shelved (see below). Others I might save for my friends Joan or Suzanne or another friend who might like something specific. (I was thrilled when an MSU theatre student took several boxes of stage bios, plays and more from my theatre library last year!) Our bookstore takes used books in good condition and for those recent ones in good condition that I know I'll not keep go there first. We get either cash or a store credit. If none of the above fly, they go in the donate pile. I have rarely put a book in the trash.

A lot of you have the same problem, I'm happy to say! Many of you said you took books to the library for their sales after and Penny was fortunate in being able to donate a large collection to a senior citizens community for their library or to use as a fundraiser. (That's a great idea I will remember!)

And here's a good question from Joyce F. -- What do you do with an old World Book Encyclopedia? That's a good question -- loads of volumes; lots of the info out of date. I remember doing school reports from those -- but I was in fifth grade then. Six decades later, I don't think my 60s World Book would have much value, at least till it's a little older! (I did once buy a 1940s World Book at a sale. It was only one volume and given the time it was published, fascinating.) Any ideas?

Someone else asked "How do you organize your books?"

The short answer is "badly." I do try to keep the mysteries together by series. And, as many of the England/France books that will fit on the shelf together (there are always strays in this category). The same for the bios on the Royals. (I was relieved when at least one of you said your shelves were double-deep, too!

As for the rest of it, wherever it fits on the shelf!

I'm happy to note I'm not alone in the organizing department! Elizabeth and Mae said they had their books all over the house and in fact more than one of you had books in every room of the house! Erika says there has to be a really good reason for her getting rid of a book, and some of you either have or are hoping to convert spare rooms into libraries. (I'm a little envious!) Others still have part of their book collections at the home of a parent (especially children's books).

How Do You Track Your Reading?

I keep a little notebook with the title, author and number of pages and try to set a goal each year. I've done this for eons. My current paper record goes back maybe 15 years (I should check!) but I remember doing this throughout high school and college. I know others of you track on Goodreads or through your blogs, and perhaps notebooks.

Erin has come up with something interesting in her recent post. She's tracking plenty of things -- titles, challenges, and even money saved by using the library! Check out her post to see how well she did in January -- I was impressed!

Kindle or Paper? 

I don't read well on a screen and I love the tactile feel of paper, being able to take notes if I want. Maybe someday...what about you?

I was glad I asked! I learned that many of you who have let your physical books go are reading on Kindle or Nook. And, as several of you said, that way you never have to worry about running out books when you are finished with one! Rick told me I could download books from the library, which I never knew. Barb says she must read on Kindle, though she prefers the other, due to an allergy to the formaldehyde that is in paper. I had no idea about the formaldehyde in paper. Her story is fascinating. Others read that way because it is portable. .

And others? No way that Kindle is coming into use unless physical circumstances mandate it! I fall a bit into that camp and was glad there were at least some "Kindred Kindle Spirits" out there with me!

Some of you also listen to audio books and enjoy those tremendously, even having favorite readers. I do recall some road trips back during the books-on-tape days where we listened to some good books. I might have to revisit that for travel.

What About Children's Books

Several of you mentioned that you still have some of your favorite children's books -- and wish you had more. Others have picked up children's books as adults, simply because the illustrations are so beautiful.

Storytime at the lake with my Aunt Grace and Cousin David.

Some of you, like Lisa, are building libraries for your children. These (mostly) moms spend a lot of time reading with their children.

And still others are introducing their children to the local library.

The first time I read "Little Women," I was eight and it was abridged. By sixth grade I was ready for the real deal!

I spent a lot of time in the library as a kid. I could ride my bike down to the local library before we moved and then it was the school and city library. What a feast!

And Magazines? How Do they Play Into It?

I didn't ask about magazines in the post but many of you said you had the same problem with magazines as I do -- they are hard to get rid of, for some reason.

I've pondered this. I think probably the best strategy would be to rip out the pages I want to keep and say goodbye to the rest. And I do that -- but not often enough. They grow like tribbles. I have considered, and probably will, take some of more universal interest to my next doc appointment and leave them in the waiting room as an alternative to those who don't want to read "People" or "WedMD" magazine!

Here are some book tips for culling down your stack -- Do as I say, not as I do!

Many of you mentioned you are in the process of downsizing and bidding farewell to books. Some, because of moves, others to get a better handle on space in your home or simply because it's time to let go. Here are a few ideas if you're in that position -- and if you have others, add them to the comments!

  • Share with a friend. Not a loan. Forever. Then it's their problem -- and they get to read a good book!
  • Donate to your local library. But first, check to see what they want. They're not a dumping ground. Trust me on this! (Vivian Swift fans will know what I mean!)
  • Drop them off into Little Free Libraries you might find on the street. (Good LFL etiquette -- ask the owner before you dump 20 books into their stash! They might have preferences!)
  • With thematic books, check with related groups, such as an academic department at a nearby university (such as I did with that theatre student I mentioned above.) I've also passed on many of my astrology books and others that target specific interests.
  • Check with local used book stores. Some will give you half of their used selling price or store credit.
  • Try a yard sale. Not my cup of tea and no guarantees they will go, but if you're having one anyway, give it a shot. Price appropriately! I've found wonderful books at yard sales and more (possibly better ones) at estate sales.
  • Try online sales -- Not my thing either and I've heard mixed results with this but if it's something you're comfy with, give it a go.
  • Pull a few to use for craft projects and/or decor. Consider art groups that might do mixed media for some that may be particularly interesting.
  • And if all else fails, recycle! After all, there may not be a big market for a 40 year old calculus book. 
I do hope if you have a chance, you'll weigh in on some of these points and ideas in the comments or for a lively discussion, check the comments on the earlier book post here. I would love to have included every single one!

Meanwhile, you'll find me reading somewhere! Just don't interrupt me at the good part!

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