Monday, January 22, 2018

My Book Rating System

Five Stars

I know that everyone's taste in books is different, so I don't expect my five-star rated books to be the same as anyone else's. I've started tracking the books I read on Good Reads, so I need to figure out what deserves five stars.

Here is my rating system going forward:

* One Star - I abandoned the book before I began reading it

** Two Stars - I abandoned the book between pages 50 and 100 because life is too short

*** Three Stars - I enjoyed the book enough to finish it, but nothing stood out as spectacular. I would not recommend the book to anyone. The book would be promptly donated to the next library book sale.

**** Four Stars -  The book kept my interest to the end. It was very well written, and I would recommend it to friends and family. I might donate it to the next book sale or pass it along to someone who might enjoy it as well.

***** Five Stars - The book gripped me emotionally. I could not put it down. It was a real page-turner. It was extremely well-written. I will think about it long after I finish it. I may re-read it even though life is short. It will remain on my bookshelf forever. I will tell everyone, "You have to read this book!"

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Christmas Card from Carol

 We received a Christmas card this year that initially stumped us. Neither Don nor I knew anyone named Carol Kyle.

She did leave us a clue: She made us breakfast.

A day later, we still didn't know who Carol Kyle was. Could we have received the card by mistake?

Then it dawned on me. 

The third B & B we stayed at on our Bike the Gap trip in August was at a little place in Meyersdale called the Trailside B & B.

We had the place to ourselves, but in the morning, an older woman named Carol showed up to cook breakfast. After breakfast, she has us sign our names and addresses in a notebook, and she said she would send us a Christmas card. 

Well, she kept her promise! Nancy and Jim got one too. Probably Greg and Merry as well.

Nancy said she probably does this to drive people crazy trying to figure out who she is.

But really,  I think she is just a sweet lady who likes to remember the guests who stay at the B & B. 
So cute!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Texas Snowman

Holly's kids in Austin had the day off from school yesterday (a snow day?)
SO the boys made a Texas-sized snowman from the snow they gathered from their yard.

I think this is the most adorable snowman I've ever seen!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, is a memoir of the author's years growing up in the 1960's and 1970's with rather unconventional parents.

This book ranks among my top 10 all-time favorites. An amazing story of love, hardship, resilience and pain. I give the author a lot of credit to tell her family's story in such a raw and honest way.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. Five stars.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snow Days

Happy Snow Days!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Year of Magical Thinking

I am trying to read a lot more this year than I did in 2017, and I'm off to a good start. I usually have two books going at once: one audiobook that I listen to when I'm in my car and a print book I read at home.

I'd been wanting to read something from Joan Didion (now age 83), and I decided on The Year of Magical Thinking. I love Memoirs, and this book is the story of the first year after her husband of 40 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly of a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003. What made the grieving process even more difficult was the fact that their only daughter, Quintana, was in an intensive care unit battling pneumonia and septic shock at the time.

Joan becomes obsessed with researching the grieving process, trying to understand why she thinks John is going to magically come back. For instance, she won't give away his shoes because she irrationally believes he will still need them.

I was amazed at how many details of their life and relationship she remembered and was able to weave into the story. Joan is a fantastic writer, and I am looking forward to reading some of her other books. Slouching Toward Bethlehem, a collection of essays on American life in the 1960's, and Blue Nights, the story of losing her daughter, Quintana, are at the top of my list.

Monday, January 8, 2018


 For Christmas, I made a blanket for my niece, Rachel, who came back from a semester abroad in the UK. I bought this soft fleece fabric in a pattern named "London Calling" from Spoonflower. It was so cute, I had to do something with it. There was even a video on the website with instructions on how to make this no-sew throw blanket from one yard of each design. I made it in an hour.

(The back of the blanket had a London taxi cab print).

Spoonflower has hundreds of unique fabric designs that can be printed on fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper. The fabrics come in fleece, cotton, knit, lycra, canvas, suede, velvet, and more.

The reason the prints are so unique is that anyone can create a design by uploading it to their website. I searched for shelties, and 84 different designs came up. There are pages and pages of vintage designs.

There are many DIY videos including how to make the above blanket, an apron, a decorative pillow cover, pajama bottoms, wall hangings, and a custom tea towel from a handwritten recipe.

So much fun! I can't wait to create another project.