Sunday, May 20, 2018

Life: It Goes On - May 20

Happy Sunday from grey, wet Omaha. I suppose I'm meant to be happy about the rain; we need it. But it's the weekend and I'd really liked to have been able to spend at least some of it basking up the sunshine on the patio!

Ah well, I have a lot to get done inside this weekend so I suppose it's just as well that I can't play outside. My whole family will be here for an extra long weekend this week. To avoid them needing to wear flip-flops in the shower and being able to write in the dust, I need to get this place cleaned up. So, of course, the first thing I did this weekend was deep clean my laundry room. Because that makes sense, right?

Last Week I:

Listened To: Started listening to Cranford. It was time for a classic and I needed something completely different from what I'd just finished. Thanks to errands, I'll be about half done with it by the end of today.

Watched: Once in a while I have nights that I just do not sleep well. Friday night was one of those nights. Just before five, I stopped fighting it and just got up...just in time to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I'm was quite taken by how happy they both looked.

Read: The Women In The Castle for book club this week. I have no idea what I'm going to pick up next. I did notice the other day that I've read almost no nonfiction this year so maybe it's time to pick up something in that vein.

Made: Pork tenderloin, Cuban sandwiches, bbq chicken, naked pasta - but we've spent almost as much time eating out as eating in this week.

Enjoyed: Watching the election results on Tuesday night. My friend who is running for office, was the winner in her district and will move on to the general election in November. Very excited for her!

This Week I’m: 

Planning: Meals for this coming week. I need to have things that will work as people are around to eat and it might not be all of us here at the same time for a meal. It requires a different kind of meal planning but I do love the challenge.

Thinking About: Our summer calendar. Trying to plan some weekend trips and thinking about a trip to South Carolina.

Feeling: Sassy. I had my annual summer chop off of the hair yesterday. Every time I do that, I wonder why I let it grow out! We even opted for a violet glaze so I'm feeling a little less middle-aged!

Looking forward to: Book club Tuesday and having all of my siblings together.

Question of the week: 'Fess up - did you get up early to watch the wedding? Or spend a chunk of yesterday watching it run over again? I just can't get enough of it, the fashion, the pageantry, and those hats!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller
Published April 2018 by Little, Brown, and Company
Source: my ecopy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My Thoughts:
A relatively minor character in Homer's The Odyssey, Circe comes into her own in this story that draws on both Homer's work and Greek mythology. Miller has everything you'd expect in a story about gods and witches - terrifying power, horrifying creatures, impressive magic, and even more impressive temper tantrums. In a book that spans hundreds of years, there's a lot of action, a lot of characters to track, and you'll definitely find yourself reacquainting yourself with Greek mythology. All of the is terrific but it's the more human aspects of the story that really make the book shine.

Circe grows up the unloved, black sheep of her family who is constantly told no husband will ever have her. When she falls in love for the first time, her heart is broken. Her revenge goes terribly awry leaving her with a guilt that will not end. Left on her own, Circe, learns to care for and protect herself and turns into a serious badass. Which is a good thing, because her family is not done making her life difficult, there will be more trouble with men, and she will have to go to the ends of the earth for her child. In the end, it's her humanity that is what is most appealing about her - the heartbreak she suffers, the desire to be someone other than who she is, her love for her son, her sorrow. I seriously loved this character.

Kudos for my daughter-in-law (after almost a year, it still seems strange to say that!) for bringing this one to my attention and to NPR for bringing it to her attention some months ago. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. And since I'm going to have to buy a copy to pass on to my daughter-in-law, I might just read it again.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Life: It Goes On - May 14

Better late than never, right? I woke up feeling super productive yesterday and couldn't stop long enough to post. That's what spring does to me! I cleaned, I did laundry, I gardened. The perennials are finally coming along and the annuals and herbs are all planted. I've planted mostly mosquito deterring plants this spring - lavender, geraniums, catnip, marigolds, and lemon geranium (aka citronella). We've got a major ground cover/shady area project yet to do - we'll move a lot of stuff we already have including lily of the valley, hosta, and bleeding heart. My backyard is my happy place again!

Last Week I:

Listened To: I'm about 70% through Seating Arrangements and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it.

Watched: Westworld and The Voice (although this may be my last season of this one - starting to feel too much like a judge popularity contest). I can't remember anything else we watched, although I know I didn't watch nearly as much as I normally do.

Read: Loving Madeline Miller's Circe; I'm going to be sad to be done with it tomorrow. Then I move on to this month's book club selection, The Women In The Castle.

Made: Champagne cupcakes, dipped strawberries, and a cranberry/pink lemonade punch for the bridal shower we hosted on Saturday. Strawberry rhubarb pie and rhubarb sauce from the first harvested crop of 2018. Cooking with rhubarb always wraps me up in all the  mommas I come from - my plant came from one grandma, my pie recipe from another, and my mom taught me how to make rhubarb sauce.

Enjoyed: Dinner with friends, happy hours on our friends' deck on Friday evening, making a bride happy with the shower, and Mother's Day with my kids (well, Mini-me via a long, long telephone call).

This Week I’m: 

Planning: On a lot of cleaning this week. My family will be coming for a long weekend next weekend and every last bed will be put to use.

Thinking About: Sunny days on the patio, tomatoes on the vine, fresh foods at dinner.

Feeling: Tired bu accomplished.

Looking forward to: Voting tomorrow then heading off to my friend's (she is running for office!) campaign party.

Question of the week: We have been so busy the past couple of months; spring is flying by. Have you found time this spring to enjoy the season?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hello, Sunshine by Laura David

Hello, Sunshine by Laura David
Published July 2017 by Simon and Schuster
Source: bought this one

Publisher’s Summary:
Sunshine Mackenzie has it all...until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

My Thoughts: 
The other day I found myself waiting somewhere and without a book (shocking, right?). Fortunately, this book was on my phone and I figured it was just the thing for the situation. It turns out it was just the thing for my mood, too. Hello, Sunshine falls somewhere on the scale between chick lit and women’s fiction - not too heavy on the drama, not too light and frothy. I sometimes wanted to bop Miss Sunshine upside the head (do you ever worry that I have anger issues, as often as I threaten that?!) and there were parts of the book that didn’t seem very plausible to me. Also, there’s a betrayal that I found unforgivable but David leaves the door open for forgiveness which didn’t work for me. But I found myself racing through it, enjoying Sunshine's journey.

One of the things that saved the book for me was that David kept me guessing. Just when I thought David is going down a predictable path, she stopped short. You know that all chick lit (and a lot of women’s fic) includes the handsome guy who steps in and gives our leading lady a new romance. He’s in this book, too. Sort of. But David doesn’t make him the perfect guy and it’s not a foregone conclusion that he and Sunshine will end up together in the end. In fact, nothing is a foregone conclusion in this book which is what really made this one satisfying for me. The learning curve is slow, the easy out isn’t necessarily the choice made, and everything isn’t tied up with a bow in the end. But there is hope. And I liked Sunshine a whole lot more in the end than I did in the beginning.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Task It Tuesday

Welcome to Task it Tuesday, created by the fabulous Geeky Blogger and adopted first by Because Reading and now by Bloggiesta!

What is Task it Tuesday? Task it Tuesday is a weekly meme dedicated to the list makers of the blogging world 🙂 It’s all about being productive and organized – on your blog and in real life (if you so chose). By sharing our lists we get instant accountability partners and also get ideas of things to add to our lists (or sometimes ways to tackle tasks more efficiently). We hope you’ll join us!

One of the reasons I started my bullet journal almost two years ago was because I like to make lists. I live by lists - if I don't have a list, I'm lost so I'm pretty excited about Task It Tuesday.

For my first Task It Tuesday, I'm actually pulling a list I posted here five years ago. It's not a task list, specifically, but in listing out the things that make me happy, I'm looking to remind myself to work those things into daily life, to work into my everyday lists. I've already got a couple of them worked into this coming week. I've made a few tweaks - there were some things I forgot, there were some things that I've learned I love in the past five years.

100 Things That Make Me Happy

1. Family
2. Friends
3. Chocolate
4. Coffee
5. Gerbera daisies
6. Fresh cut grass
7. Fields of wildflowers
8. Beaches
9. Blue
10. Sunshine
11. My cats
12. Homemade ice cream with homemade chocolate syrup
13. Vanilla
14. Lavender
15. Books and everything about them
16. Movie theater popcorn
17. Being silly
18. My faith
19. Office supplies
20. Candles
21. The perfect pillow
22. Smiles
23. Laughter
24. My kids being friends
25. The smell in the air just after a rain fall
26. A few hours of quiet
27. Being surrounded by the things my ancestors touched
28. Head massages
29. The perfect haircut
30. My favorite necklace
31. Refurbishing furniture
32. Musicals
33. Nebraska sports
34. NPR
35. Fluffy snowflakes
36. Lightning
37. Nebraska sunsets
38. Pouring rain
39. Chives
40. Homegrown tomatoes
41. Cheese
42. Newborn babies
43. Memories of my grandparents
44. High school football on a crisp fall evening
45. Sitting around the firepit on a beautiful summer evening
46. Hugs
47. The internet
48. Organizing supplies
49. Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue
50. Walks in fall leaves
51. Daylight savings time
52. A perfectly clean room
53. The possibilities of a full pantry
54. A toasty warm house on a cold day
55. Watching my kids succeed
56. Resting my head on my husband's chest
57. Old wooden boxes
58. Frogs - NOT live ones!
59. Going bare-footed
60. Taking care of my family
61. Finding the perfect gift
62. Watching people open gifts from me
63. Music - in general
64. Johann Sebastian Bach in particular
65. Crossing things off my to-do list
66. Being in control
67. Learning
68. Playing the piano
69. Swimming pools
70. Sitting on a bluff over the Missouri River valley with a glass of wine
71. Flea markets
72. Turning up the music and dancing
73. Volunteering
74. Gardening
75. The sound of waves crashing
76. A blank journal
77. Noodles
78. The afghan my mother-in-law made for my husband
79. The sound of mourning doves
80. Cookie dough
81. Breckenridge, Colorado in the summer
82. Champagne
83. That a-ha moment
84. My postcard collection
85. Fast boats
86. Truth
87. Rearranging furniture
88. Exploring new towns
89. White
90. A good day dream
91. Sarcasm
92. Movie nights
93. Inspiration
94. Girls' nights
95. Writing
96. Old movies
97. Boudin's sourdough bread
98.Crawling into bed at night on clean sheets
99. Waking up and realizing it's Saturday
100. Finishing things

What would you put on your list?