Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A complication.

Sewing is slightly more difficult when there's an adorable/obnoxious cat sleeping on the cutting mat.

I found this adorable Paris printed canvas at the fabric store the other day. I'm planning a new bag sometime soon...like the dark one in the bottom right corner.

I've also got a new cross stitch pattern to try- a Jane Austen inspired one. And this adorable Mary Poppins doll pattern! :)

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Wilder Life.

When I heard that there was a book being written about Little House on the Prairie fandom, I got really excited. I think I even mentioned it here on the blog, months before it was released. I'm not sure why I got so excited, because as a kid, I wasn't a huge fan of the Little House series. I read two or three of them, and I loved those, but I never read the rest of the series, for whatever reason.

I think I was just drawn to the idea of someone being like me. Someone loving children's books and being a huge fan of a certain series (for me, it's the Chronicles of Narnia). And actually visiting all of the places related to the books.

So I decided to read the entire Little House series before I read this book. I gradually collected them all from Goodwill and read them {you can read my reviews for the first two here and two more here...the rest will be briefly reviewed next week in my "What I Read: May" post}. And I fell in love with this sweet little series. As soon as I finished reading These Happy Golden Years, I grabbed The Wilder Life from my to-read shelf and got started.

I love this book. It's one of my favorite books that I've read so far in 2011. The author writes in a random, meandering style, but it works really well. I found out so much about the real life Ingalls family and how it compares to the books. And I realized that the 70s TV series is even more bizarre and different from the books than I thought (I'm just a casual viewer). I loved reading about the author's trips to visit all of the Laura Ingalls-related sites, and how she attempted pioneer-type experiments: she churns butter, bakes recipes from the series, tries to make a straw "stick" like the ones that the Ingalls family had to burn during the Long Winter, etc.

The Wilder Life is a humorous, loving tribute to the Little House series. If you're a fan, you'll probably love this book. It made me want to learn more about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, so I'll probably be searching the library for some of the books in the recommended reading section at the back of this book. I found myself taking this book pretty slowly, because I didn't want it to end.

Two little qualms I had: there's mild language sprinkled throughout (I'm learning that's common in modern writing). And the author pokes fun at some of the Christian people she meets along the way, including homeschooling moms who use the Little House books as part of their curriculum and a church group who is learning homesteading skills to be prepared for the end times (she and her boyfriend are "freaked out" by the "End Timers," as she calls them).

Until next time,

The Nutty Professor.

I really don't even know where to begin with this movie. The first time I watched it, I intended on posting a review, but I could never quite think of what to say. I'm not sure that I'll be able to now, but I'll try. :)

Professor Kelp is an accident prone, awkward nerd who is constantly bullied by his students. He decides to start visiting the gym to bulk up a little, but when his work-outs don't show any results, he creates a special formula. This formula, after a Jekyll/Hyde transformation, turns him into the suave, obnoxious Buddy Love.

The Nutty Professor is one of the strangest films I've ever seen. :) It's a perfect example of a 60s movie: slightly off-beat humor, everyone smoking cigarettes and ordering drinks. And it's filmed in gorgeous, bright Technicolor at its best.

You can't help but like, and feel sorry for, Professor Kelp.

And Buddy Love. He is, in the words of Stella, a "rude, discourteous egomaniac." (To which he responds: "You're crazy about me, right? And I can understand it. Only this morning, looking in the mirror before shaving, I enjoyed seeing what I saw so much I couldn't tear myself away.") He is seriously the most arrogant jerk you can imagine. Some people thought that he was based on Dean Martin, but Jerry Lewis denies it and says that Buddy Love is based on every jerk he ever met during his life (he doesn't say it quite like that, but I'll give you the profanity-free version :) and also on his "bad" side.

And yet...Stella is drawn to him. A lot of people are drawn to him. And while you're watching, you can't help but be drawn to him as well, in some bizarre way. Of course, it might have something to do with the little speech he gives Stella when they're leaning against the car before he has to make his escape. :) One of my favorite Buddy Love scenes is the one when he meets the president of the college.

Some of my favorite scenes: the transformation scene. It is seriously creepy, especially for a comedy film. And I love Howard Morris' scenes- he plays Prof. Kelp's father, and it is hilarious. In case you didn't know, Howard Morris plays one of the best TV characters ever: Ernest T. Bass, the rock-throwing nut in The Andy Griffith Show. Also, the prom/dance scene. Especially Professor Kelp busting a move when he's overcome with the music and his speech at the end. I love the whole ending. :)

This is the only Jerry Lewis film I've ever seen, I think. I've heard it's his best, but it always makes me want to watch more of his movies! So, have any of you guys ever seen The Nutty Professor? What other Jerry Lewis films do you recommend?

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strange little secrets.

When you're blogging, the best version of yourself is what you tend to present to the world. :) I'm just being honest here...you tend to focus on the good aspects of your personality and avoid the not-so-good parts. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who does this.

So...I thought that it would be kind of fun to, every once in a while, do a post about some lesser-known facts about myself. I wanted to call it something involving "confessions," but that makes it sound bad. :) So maybe I'll take a cue from Katy and call them "secrets." It's little things about myself that are silly and maybe even slightly embarrassing.

I am a seriously quirky, imperfect person, but I'm hoping that some of you guys will relate to these things. :)

So, deep breath. Here we go...

I'm obsessed with odd numbers. I don't know why, I just prefer odd numbers over even. I always want 3 pieces of ice in my water (I have a perfectly logical reason for this- I want the water cold but I don't want the glass full of ice because then a clump of ice rushes at your face when you drink it and you end up with water all over your shirt, *cough* not that I know this from personal experience). There are 5 secrets in this post. When I use the microwave, I punch in odd numbers. Want to warm up a roll? 15 or 17 seconds, please.

I've watched You've Got Mail three times in the past week. Whenever I see a movie for the first time ever and like it, I feel the need to watch it again shortly after that, so I can notice anything I might have missed before. Well, this one I loved so much I watched it an extra time. :)

Swearing is one of my biggest pet peeves. It drives me crazy. I hate to hear people using cuss words (and I hate to read them, too. Good grief, why do modern authors feel it's necessary to use swear words?).

I think, deep down (or not so deep), I have hoarding tendencies. But thankfully I also have some obsessive organizational habits that balance out the hoarding tendencies. I am a collector. It started out with sticker books (I loved me some stickers) and TY beanie babies as a kid. Now I collect books, DVDs, records, Elvis-related stuff, I Love Lucy-related stuff, Eiffel Tower-related stuff, vintage/antique stuff, and anything related to my favorite old movies or actors/actresses.

Plus, as a crafter and someone who has been trained to be a preschool teacher, I feel the inexplicable need to save everything. Because I might need it someday, you know? But...I have to have my room neat and organized, so every once in a while I do a purge of all the stuff that I *probably* won't need someday and throw it away (or donate it to Goodwill).

Last week, I did a major room clean-up (except my closet. Which will probably take a whole day in itself. Because when I was cleaning and came across something that I didn't want sitting around in my room anymore but I didn't want to get rid of, guess where I stuck it?). And I realized that instead of holding clothes, the majority of my drawers hold...movies? Loosely organized by genre, of course.

These are just the VHS tapes. Besides the two drawers of tapes, I also have 10 shelves of books, 1.5 shelves of CDs/records, and seven little shelves or areas where I store DVDs. Things are getting a little out of hand.

I finally broke down and bought Downton Abbey. See what I mean about being a collector of stuff? As if I needed another mini-series, or another DVD period. But besides two inappropriate scenes, this is an incredible show. Ever since I saw it on PBS, I've been thinking about how much I wanted to see it again. And I've seen it several times in Target and almost bought it...and today I caved.

I felt like I needed to tell on myself about this one because at the beginning of the year, I promised that "contentment" was my goal of the year. I was going to cut way back on buying DVDs and books, right? Well...to be honest, that hasn't been going so great so far.

It would probably help if someone blocked Amazon.com on my computer and refused to let me enter Target, Sam's Club, or Goodwill. :)

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A graduation, a concert, and a film.

I've been meaning/trying to write this post for days. It started off simple and has had a lot of extra things tacked on, so please excuse my randomness. :)

Friday night was my college graduation. Yay! Technically I'm a "summer graduate," which means I won't actually get my physical diploma/degree until sometime in August. I have to take two more classes before I complete my associates degree in early childhood education. Thankfully these two classes are online, and I'll be finished with them by the end of July.

{I'm not too thrilled with posting these photos, but the "professional" ones aren't any better. Darkness + nervous smile + frizzy hair from the humidity = not so swell pictures}

So I was really nervous about graduation. My homeschool high school graduation was very small- we had about six graduates. The community college had somewhere around 516 graduates this spring, so there were thousands of people there. Under a huge white tent on the athletic field. It was a little unpredictable. Some examples:

-The sky was black. I was sure that it was either going to start pouring down rain or that we were going to have a scary thunderstorm. Or both.

-Since we were under a tent held up by giant metal posts, a thunderstorm would have meant that graduation would have to be postponed, for the first time ever in the college's history, until the next day.

-Because of the pending storm, people there (graduates and family/friends) were very anxious for the ceremony to get sped up. There was lots of hollering and cheering when someone mentioned being quick, and lots of impatient murmuring and outbursts when someone rambled on.

-Apparently air horns are a common occurrence at graduations? Someone mentioned them at rehearsal, and I was very sceptical at the thought that someone would actually bring one. Well, they did. I'm not sure if this is normal or if it's just the fact that this was a graduation in a small southern town? :)

-Who in the world designed graduation hats? Isn't there a better way? I had approx. six bobby pins holding that hat on, and it still felt like it was going to blow away with every breeze.

Honestly, though, I enjoyed it. The ceremony made me feel proud of our little community college and of the early childhood education program. The past two years have been good for me, though I was usually too stressed out to realize it at the time. :) But, let me say that I am so relieved that it's {nearly} over and I'm ready to move on to whatever God has planned for me next! I usually don't like change, but I'm ready for this change. Though it will be a little weird to go from seeing people several days a week for two years to not seeing them at all.

{The graduates of the early childhood education program at our reception before the ceremony. Please ignore my lack of a smile- there were lots of photos being taken and my face needed a rest. :) }

The thunderstorm and the rain held off, in case you're wondering. We got through the ceremony much quicker than I expected. After some photos, we hurried out of the parking craziness and hit the Dairy Queen (I got a Reese's Blizzard). We sat and ate on those concrete tables under the umbrellas and watched traffic. :)

{After the ceremony. My dad, my grandma, me, and Marmee. :) }

So...that was our big Friday night on the town. :) Then we read in the paper that the local symphony orchestra was having their spring concert Saturday night. They only have four concerts a year, and the spring concert is where they usually play Broadway-ish music (as opposed to classical, Christmas, or patriotic at the other concerts). The concerts are free, by the way! This time they were having big band hits, as well as some songs from Broadway. And my mom knows that I love that type of music, so we made plans to go.

It was really amazing! Some of the songs played were: In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade, and medleys of Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington songs. Plus they did medleys of songs from Porgy and Bess and Guys and Dolls. This was our second time attending, and I knew a large majority of these songs, which was so much fun. The last time we went featured classical music, and I only knew one or two of the songs.

There was something so cool about hearing some of my favorite songs like In the Mood played live. Of course, it didn't sound as "brassy" as big band music usually does- because of the large number of string instruments it sometimes reminded me of old movie scores. Most of the couples there were elderly, so I imagine that maybe they danced to these songs as teenagers and young adults. :) If I closed my eyes and just listened, it would almost be like one of those dinner and dancing clubs that are always shown in old movies.

 {This is not my picture, but it is the town symphony orchestra.}

So that was our big Saturday night out on the town. :) By this time, we were getting pretty exhausted. We're not usually so busy on the weekends. But I love that our town (we don't live in the city I mention. It's about 16 miles away, but it's probably the closest one to us) has fun stuff like this. People, especially young people my age, always complain that our town doesn't have anything to offer. But it does, if you're willing to look! We have lots of history and there are always interesting things to do. And if people would just stay here to look for and make opportunities instead of moving away, we would have even more to offer. Rant over. :)

One more random note. I've been wanting to see You've Got Mail for quite some time now, ever since I learned that it is based on two of my favorite classic movies: The Shop Around the Corner and its musical remake, In the Good Old Summertime. Well, today I finally got to see it. I loved it!

First, a little disclaimer: this film is rated PG, and while that's generally safe now, it seems that in the 90s you could get away with more in a PG rating. I could do without the language (especially the gym scene which is where a lot of the movie's language occurs) and other unappropriate content scattered throughout the movie. I do not like the fact that the main characters are both already involved with someone when they start corresponding (or that they both seem to be living with the boyfriend/girlfriend, and they're not married). And I don't like that this movie seems to endorse getting involved with someone you met online. I know it was just their way of trying to "update" the story from letters to email, but things could be a lot more dangerous this way.

But the movie is really sweet. I think it'll be even better when I use my DVD language blocker next time. :) I love the way the movie echoed and referenced The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime in big and small ways. I loved that the scene where they are supposed to meet for the first time borrowed some lines word-for-word from the old movies. I love the focus on bookstores (independent vs. chain stores). I love that they talk about Pride and Prejudice! I loved the music- it fit perfectly. And I love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together! They make such a cute couple. Although I cannot hear Tom Hanks' voice without immediately thinking of Woody. :)

Until next time, 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lizzy and Gene.

Emily over at Grace Like Rain is hosting a blog party! Emily's blog was one of the first ones I ever came across, back before I even started blogging. For the blog party, you answer some questions and link up, and then you're entered for some great giveaways. :) Sounds fun, right?

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?
A true heroine is godly, kind, clever, humble, etc. Basically, all of the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman. But most importantly, she is an imperfect human. How else would we be able to relate to her?

Share (up to four) heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.
1. Lucy Pevensie. She always has a childlike faith, even when she's all grown up. She trusts Aslan completely and is always the first to see him.
2. Elizabeth Bennet. I want her cleverness, but also the ability to hold my tongue when necessary. :)
3. Elinor Dashwood. I probably relate the most to her. We're both quiet introverts who tend to be listeners instead of talkers.
4. Anne Elliot. I love that she's loyal and constant. And even though she was easily persuaded and misled when she was younger, she recognizes her mistakes and makes an effort to change.

Five of your favorite historical novels?
1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
2. Emma, by Jane Austen
3. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
5. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Out of those five books, who is your favorite character, and why?
Probably Lizzy Bennet. She's witty, kind, loyal, and honest. She speaks her mind when necessary (I'm talking about you, Lady Catherine) and won't do the "proper" thing when she knows it isn't the right thing (I'm talking about you, Mr. Collins). She loves to laugh, especially at ridiculousness. And she gets Mr. Darcy, right? :)

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?
I would go on a tour of Europe. Most of my vacation would be spent in England, but I'd also want to go to France, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy. I would plan on visiting all of the places associated with my favorite books and movies. The country houses where my favorite Austen adaptations were filmed, Jane Austen's house, the room where C.S. Lewis and the Inklings met, places where Roman Holiday scenes were filmed, etc. And I would visit all of the gorgeous places I've only seen pictures of- the Yorkshire moors, English gardens, castles, the Eiffel Tower, etc. This vacation would likely take several months. :)

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?
Not necessarily to read about, but my favorite time period is the 1930s-1950s (sometimes 60s). Especially the 40s.

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?
Ha. Nothing. I am terrified of doing anything in front of a crowd. I can't sing, do comedy, or recite. The only thing I can do is play the piano, and I don't like to do that in front of anyone other than my family. :) Maybe I could help with some behind-the-scenes stuff?

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?
Maybe Elinor Dashwood, just because she's the Austen heroine I relate to the most.

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?
I'm addicted to it. If I got my hands on Aladdin's genie bottle, one of my three wishes would be that chocolate, even in excessive amounts, would be healthy for you. I eat chocolate {nearly} every day of my life.

Favorite author(s)?
Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis. I enjoy many different books and many different authors, but these are the two that I consistently love.

How would people describe your personality? (If they could only use ONE word.) Are they right?
Probably "shy" or "quiet," at least until they got to know me really well. I am quiet, but I open up once I know you better or if you get me in a conversation involving sewing, old movies, classic TV shows, or Frank Sinatra. So people who know me would probably say "unique." I don't like that word, but it sounds nicer than "unusual." I might describe myself as "quirky."

What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging?
I don't really snack while blogging, but sometimes I might munch on some Goldfish while I'm on the computer. Reliving my childhood, I guess. :)

Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?
I don't think so? Actually, I do wish I could dance. Ever since the first time I saw Gene Kelly, and he made it look so incredibly fun, I've thought that it would be awesome to know how to dance. Not ballet or whatever style is popular now, but like Judy Garland-or-Ginger Rogers-dancing. It's not that I never had the chance to learn- I never wanted to take dance lessons as a kid. I don't want to take lessons now. I just love to watch people dance (like I said, old-fashioned dancing. Even Jane Austen-style dancing. Not modern dances).

Describe your ideal dwelling place.
An beautiful old farmhouse. There's a long driveway leading to it, lined with trees on each side. The house is two stories, with a wrap-around porch. There's a little orchard off to one side, and a tire swing hanging from a tree in the front yard. The inside is decorated in a vintage style, with a library and lots of windows. Can you tell I've put a lot of thought into this? :) Anytime I see something beautiful about a house, I store the idea away for later.

Apparently I love "plantation" style houses, with the porch downstairs and upstairs and the tree-lined driveways. Like this, only a little less...extravagant? :)

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer?
Reading, sewing, watching old movies, and eating ice cream.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
College graduation. Yay! More on that in a later post. :)

Until next time,

Two years.

Two years ago today, I wrote my first ever blog post. {I almost didn't put the link to that post, because it's a little...dull?} I wrote about my homeschool graduation that was happening the following Friday night. Is it a little ironic that my college graduation is happening this Friday night? :) 

I sewed all day today. Tomorrow I have graduation rehearsal, which I'm not looking forward to. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to the actual graduation ceremony on Friday, either. I don't like formality, long speeches, and big crowds. I also don't like the idea of walking across a stage in front of hundreds of people. But as a precaution, I'm wearing flats instead of heels. :) Parking at the community college is already terrible as it is (there's not nearly enough of it), and for this I'm sure it'll be even worse. But, oh, well. It might be kind of fun. 

I never expected to have 101 blog followers. It was months and months before I had my first comment. :) Thanks to all of my readers, especially those of you who have followed from the beginning. I hope my posts are a little more interesting and polished now? :) Anyway, your comments make my day!

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thrift store scores.

Today me and Mom had a few minutes of waiting in town, so we ran in the Goodwill. I think I've mentioned this before, but our Goodwill has a huge book section- it's pretty much a little used bookstore inside the store. (This was the town's only bookstore ever since B. Dalton closed...until a few weeks ago! A new used/bargain bookstore opened in the mall. I've only been in once, but I can't wait to go again).

I rarely look at anything else in there because I'm always drawn into that part. Which also contains a section of records...

-That's Entertainment! two album set: $3

-How to Steal a Million movie score/soundtrack album: $2 {No, I haven't seen this movie yet! But I want to so badly. I've heard such good things about it...Sometimes you just know that you're going to like a movie before you even see it, right? That's how I feel about this movie.}

-The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne: $3.50 {Contains the complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner stories with gorgeous color illustrations. I've been looking at this book for weeks and finally bought it.}

-1936 Mother Goose collection: $1.50 {The pages inside are in perfect condition, though the cover is a little worn. It is not upside down in the first picture above, but the name on the spine is printed upside down- strange? Adorable illustrations, black and white and color. In the bottom left corner in the photo below are two of the three blind mice. :) }

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sewing day.

I don't think I've mentioned this, but Monday was my last official day of "real" college classes. I thought I was going to have to go back today and possibly next Monday during exam times, but I ended up not having to. Graduation is next week.

So even though I still have to take two online classes this summer to finish my degree and I might have to go to the college occasionally over the summer, I will never again have to spend all day in town for classes. Or eat crackers for supper in an empty classroom. Or drive home from class in the dark, hovering my foot above the brake pedal because I'm worried about hitting a deer (I know it's incorrect, but I drive with two feet- one for the gas and one for the brakes :). Yay!

Today I spent the whole day sewing. I haven't done that since...February, maybe? Or March? It felt amazing to get to do something creative. I have so many ideas for projects and things I want to do. I finished two wallets (one is an order for my teacher's daughter) and an iPod/cell phone cozy. I don't have pictures yet, because the sun wasn't out much today, especially by the time I finished everything.

Apparently my crafting skills are really out of practice. Today I managed to cut myself three times with the rotary cutter and decoupage my hands, the legs of a stool, a large spot on the carpet, and the outside of the ModgePodge container when I knocked it off a table and it splattered everywhere (the lid wasn't on tight).

It was a cool and breezy day, so I opened the windows and got plenty of natural light at my sewing table. I watched the leaves turn upside down like they were waiting for rain and shared the table with my brother's nosy cat, who was stalking a butterfly that was resting on the bush outside. And listened to a variety of music, including this song, this song (I've never seen the movie. And since when did I start liking bluegrass-tinged music? I think it started with the Avett Brothers and the Civil Wars), and this song (the original Broadway version, though). My likes in music vary like that. :) There was also a little swing and Bing thrown in there.

And I finally painted the frame my grandma gave me to put my embroidery piece in. The yellow turned out a little brighter than I expected (I had to do three coats to cover up the dark wood), but I'm sort of liking its tackiness. And it's not really as bright as the picture makes it look. It's actually about the same color as my car. :) And my wall is really light blue (not grayish white like it appears in the picture), so it looks pretty against it.

And now I leave you with a picture of Jack and my brother's cat, Oliver, watching out my window a few nights ago. Jack cracks me up. He looks like a chubby little kid leaning on his elbows.

P.S. Did you know that Cary Grant's daughter wrote a book about him that came out yesterday? Or that Dick Van Dyke's new memoir was also released yesterday? I can't wait to read them both! They're on the way from Amazon. :)

 Until next time,

What I Read: April

You guys might have noticed already, but I now have an account on Goodreads. I keep track of the books I read on there and post short reviews, so I'm going to generally use those same reviews in my monthly book post here. So if you read my stuff on Goodreads, please forgive the repetition. :)

Stargirl and Love, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

I wrote about these two books here.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I enjoyed this one. It was a little slow at places, but I loved reading about Almanzo's childhood after reading the first two books about Laura's, and being able to compare the two. The end made me oddly emotional, with how everything worked out. :)

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale
This was a very unusual book. Reading it was pretty much an emotional roller coaster! :) It covers a span of about 10 years from beginning to end. There were so many unexpected happenings that I couldn't put it down, because I truly had no idea how things were going to work out. I loved the relationship between Becky and her husband and her family. And I loved the banter between her and Felix. This is one of those books that most people either love or hate. Though I was originally uncomfortable with the basis of the plot, I ended up enjoying this book a lot.

A Heart Most Worthy, by Siri Mitchell

I reviewed this book here.

On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I thought that I hadn't read this Little House book before, but apparently I did when I was little. As I started reading it and seeing the illustrations, the story started coming back to me. Some parts I remembered quite vividly, others not so much. Anyway, this is another sweet addition in the Little House series. I loved reading about living in the dugout (this was one of the parts I remembered). I also liked the fact that the Ingalls family is pretty settled down in this book, and the girls go to school for the first time and have other children nearby to play with. I find myself getting more interested as the girls get older. Can't wait to read the next one!

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

A unique, very honest little book about writing. I've read reviews talking about how negative this book is, but it didn't really seem that way to me. Brutally honest at times, but hopeful and full of tips for writing. I enjoyed it, though I could have done without the language.

A Tailor-Made Bride, by Karen Witemeyer
I was drawn to this book because of the cute cover and because one of the major characters is a dressmaker. Usually it takes me a while to ease into a story, but this one drew me in right away. I enjoyed the characters and the plot. I liked the whole conflict between the two main characters about whether beauty was a good, God-given thing or something that led to sin, greed, and destruction.

My Jane Austen Summer, by Cindy Jones
I wanted so badly to like this book...It has a gorgeous cover, the blurb on the back sounded very promising, and it's a sort of spin-off of "Mansfield Park," one of Austen's less popular novels. But honestly, there were quite a few times when I was tempted to just stop reading it. I couldn't relate with the main character or any of the other characters, and I didn't even like any of them very much. The plot was so-so, and sometimes it would wander off in odd directions. I think most Austen fans would enjoy this book, but something about it was just not to my taste.

Heist Society, by Ally Carter
A very quick, enjoyable YA read. Kat comes from a family of thieves, but she's tried to leave that behind and start over. But when her father is accused of stealing five paintings from a private collection, the owner starts to threaten the safety of those she loves. I liked the plot and the European settings- it seemed a lot like a movie.

 Until next time,