Yes, I know it has been two months since I dropped by. I’ve been busy with getting the new book polished up for submission and then I caught Covid. Thankfully I am fully vaxxed and double boosted so it wasn’t too bad, but it still knocked me back for two weeks with really staggering fatigue. But now I am all recovered, ready for new adventures and have collected Five Things I’ve been dying to share with you. Enjoy.
Laine and Meg of Plot Trysts always make me laugh. Full disclosure: they’ve reviewed and discussed a number of my books, which you can find on this handy dandy episode guide. Of you can give all the episodes a listen-I’m telling you, these two are delightful fun.
You can find their podcast on Apple or wherever you download your favorites to give them a listen, as well as on Instagram.
The Offer on Paramount Plus. This limited series about the making of The Godfather, is wonderful—I loved it. I liked seeing the juxtaposition of creativity and business and just the wonder of making movies.
But I also have to also say, I had never seen the movie. Nope. Never watched The Godfather. Ever. And yet I loved the series.
So after watching all 10 episodes, we popped the corn and sat down for 3 hours of Brando making magic. Amazing film, and knowing some the behind the scenes made it even more entertaining. You can also see The Offer via Amazon Prime.
You know I love Georgette Heyer, so recently I treated myself to yet another one of her engaging romances. Discovering Heyer is like finding a treasure trove that you hoard for rainy days. Well, we’ve had our fair share in Seattle this spring, so I read Black Sheep.
Like any good Georgette Heyer, the characters steal your heart and the ending is so perfect and so romantic. I adored it.
I have to share this: my new, absolute favorite dinner, this Cooking Light Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice. First of all, you want to lick the pan so you get all of it. And secondly, you are going to say: But Elizabeth, where am I going to find Ginger Preserves? Don’t send your husband to the store to find them as I did (poor man), just order them online. Or you can sub in Apricot Preserves.
Photo Credit: John Autry
Frog Frenzy. No, it is not a new game. It is when I spend way too much time on Ravelry and find some whimsical baby blanket and just have to make it. Hence, Frog Frenzy. This will be headed off to my niece’s new baby when the little dickens decides to arrive.
I am such a sucker for whimsical. Watch for Owls in my near future.
Until next time, have a great beginning to summer!
I keep getting anxious emails from all of you—am I writing, am I going to have a new book out soon, and why is this taking so long?????
All good questions.
I want to be honest with all of you because you are my readers, my dear friends, so here is how it is.
I finished the book last fall. After a bit of a delay, my agent and I decided to part company. I had suspected for sometime that this new shiny book wouldn’t be her cup of tea, and that would be her reaction, so it wasn’t a surprise. But it did leave things hanging.
Finding a new agent and selling a book just as the holidays are beginning would have been a disaster. Agents and editors are trying to clear their desks, so I had to pause for a few months. But in mid January I began my search and after 8 weeks of querying I found my perfect agent.
And she LOVES the book. I mean
, she LOVES it. In all caps and gushing all over it. So I knew it had found the perfect champion. It still needs some work, which I am close to finishing up and then it will go out into world of publishing to see if it can find a home as welcoming.
Keep your fingers crossed and I promise to keep you in the loop.
Now, onto this week’s list:
Looking for a lovely and wonderful read that will whisk you away? Try A Cup of Silver Linings by Karen Hawkins. It was just the fresh air of spring I was looking for.
I was going to talk about salads—yet again—but realized I’ve kinda overstated the point as I looked at past Five Things
, (like here and here) so I thought you might like something more fun. So I present Chocolate Mug Cake, because you can’t live on salad alone. Well, you can, but . . . you know what I mean. This is quick and delish. And most likely you have everything you need right in your cupboard. At least I hope so. Because, yum.
Photo Credit: Tastes Better From Scratch
In the last newsletter I asked for pictures of your TBRs and here is Sandy’s lovely and enviable TBR! Just take a moment and enjoy. Sigh. Thank you, Sandy!!
There but for the grace of God go I.
I have said this to myself for the past month as I watch the news every day. So I help where I can—though I think it is always hard to know where to help and where the money will go the farthest. So I found this list vetted by The Today Show.
After reading through, I donated to World Central Kitchen who are helping feed the refugees coming across the border. Every time I see the news and all those children coming across the border, I want to bake cookies for them. Sending in a donation to WCK is as close as I could get. There is more about their work here as well.
Let’s finish on a lighter note. Here is a quirky list of classical art that has been turned into memes. Just something to bring a smile to you on a Friday. Here is my favorite:
Part of me wonders–do I post this sort of trivial list when the world is on the fire?–because I don’t want anyone to think I am not scared spitless about the state of things right now. Especially since I’ve been reading a lot of WW1 history lately and the parallels are like blinking billboards with spotlights. But perhaps five things that touch the normal, that place we can all agree upon, are also necessary. The more we can reach out and all find common ground, maybe we can see our differences without the harsh rhetoric.
Here a pic of the TBR that is in my office. I’ll share pics of the other TBRs *snort* scattered around my house another time. As you can see I am an eclectic reader. Currently I am reading research books as I move into my next project but I keep looking longingly at these books and trying to decide which to read first. Share a picture of your TBR and I’ll pick some to share in the weeks ahead.
I have a salad nearly every day for lunch. I just like making sure I get all those veggies and such in. And this battered copy of Salads by Sue Quinn shows all the evidence of how much it is well loved and well used. I haven’t got a favorite recipe (though I love the dressings in the back) but rather I use the book as a jumping off place for ingredients I have on hand and then go from there. Do you have a favorite salad recipe book?
I asked a while ago about your favorite childhood reads and Geraldine shared the following:
“I loved going the library as a child and teen. When I got old enough to ride my bicycle
, I’d spend the day. For Christmas, our parents would include a stack of books (from the used book store) on the fireplace hearth – books for all ages and interests.”
Sound familiar? We were too far out in the country to ride our bikes to the library, but my mom would take us every week, and later, when I was in high school, I worked afternoons and evenings shelving books at our local library. Libraries are a haven and books a treasure.
1. “Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators” series, initially written by Robert Arthur – interestingly, decades later, when I met my now husband, I discovered those were his favorite books as well!
2. The Black Stallion Series
3. The Chronicles of Narnia
4. Anne of Green Gables series – I bought my first book at a bookstore on Prince Edward Island, in 1973 (EB jumping in here: I am so jealous!! PEI is on my bucket list of places to go)
5. The Wizard of Oz series – as an adult, I moved to central NY state – and now live about 20 miles from Chittenango – the birth place of L. Frank Baum.
I love Geraldine’s list because so many of these were my favorites as well.
Bullet Journalers—are you out there? Here is one of my favorite creative/writer/journaler and her wonderful YouTube channel about writing and journals. Rachael Stephen offers fun videos–she’s an interesting soul and I always learn something from her
, and if you are a writer, she does a video class on her “Story Toolkit” process that is fascinating. Sign up for it!
Photo credit: Rachael Stephen
My 90 year old mother-in-law sang the praises of Reacher on Amazon Prime, so we settled in for a binge and loved it. Warning: it is violent, but I loved the characters and the story line.
As for my MIL? She’s a diehard thriller reader, and she was adamant that this version of Lee Child’s character was SO much better than the horrible Tom Cruise version. As you might have guessed, she has opinions.
Then again, my MIL is also a huge fan of Rip on Yellowstone. Should I be worried if she offers to take me to the train station?
And finally, in my ongoing PSA about staying safe, I got this email from FTFF reader, Susan and she asked me to share this:
Thank you for your timely reminders, especially the CO tips. I’ve one to add to that. For those of us whose homes are heated with natural gas, and who live in snowy regions, it’s important to make sure that the furnace vent to outside is not blocked by snow. Sometimes we get lots of snow, and then a wee melt makes snow slides off the roof into a pile. And sometimes that pile blocks or partially blocks the vent. (Or sometimes a neighbour might shovel their walkway and inadvertently make a pile that can block the vent.) Same goes for the dryer vent.
I’m in Toronto, Ontario. Lots of snow here right now, and more expected.
All the best, Susan C.
I really love how much you all want to take care of each other. It warms my heart and gives me hope in such bleak times. Please, continue to send out the love and hope.
So last Friday I snuck out and had knee surgery.
I tore my meniscus last summer when we were remodeling the house. I’ve been limping along ever since and it has been painful. It turned out to be more complex than they thought
, but it is all fixed and I am doing great. Looking forward to rehabbing it and by summer getting back to all the things I love.
, there’s been a lot of Pi helping me mend and knitting. I cannot recommend two stranded knitting while taking pain pills. I think I frogged more than I knit last weekend. LOL.
So onward to this week’s Five Things.
This weekend is the Super Bowl!! And I am celebrating two things: The Bengals!! and it being Tom Brady free. Thank you very much.
As you can tell, I am a diehard football junkie, and I have been on the edge of my seat the entire playoffs. I picked every winner in my playoff lineup–really should have bet money on it. LOL. Still, even without all that, the playoffs were amazing games. And if you don’t believe me, here is Peyton Manning to sum it all up in hilarious Saturday Night Live Fashion.
And by the way: Go Bengals!
In our house
, the Super Bowl means Super Nachos!! They are quick and easy and if you chop and shred and cook the meat beforehand, they come together quickly and easily so you don’t miss a single commercial.
I just take a bag of tortilla chips and toss them on a sheet pan covered with foil. Who wants to miss a single play cleaning up a mess? No way.
Then add taco meat (I make mine ahead of time with either ground beef or ground chicken or turkey and this seasoning recipe), chopped onions, tomatoes, peppers, whatever strikes your fancy and combine it with a LOT of shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar and Jack, or again, whatever I have on hand)
Bake it at 400 until the cheese is melted and it all looks crispy and great (about 5-10 minutes or so) and then dig in with a homemade salsa or your favorite dip.
P.S. On the seasoning recipe—I quadruple the mix and then store it in a small canning jar so I always have taco seasoning on hand and am not wasting money on that horribly expensive and overpriced packaged stuff.
If you haven’t heard about Dillon Helbig, he’s a little boy from Idaho who 1) wrote and illustrated his own book, 2) inserted it into his local library and 3) made it one of the most popular books in the stacks. He’s a delight. And he’s hard at work on his next book.
Please take a moment and meet one imaginative little boy. You can read his story here or watch him here.
Photo credit: The Seattle Times
If you have to quarantine, a private island with a five star hotel isn’t a bad way to isolate. I love how these wonderful folks made the best of their isolation and their story is a vacation all in its own.
On the off chance that you aren’t going to spend Sunday watching commercials and football, you might need something to read. And I happen to have some great recommendations from all of you on books you’ve read over and over. And as I was thumbing through these yet again—yes, I’ve been hoarding them—I found a list I can heartily endorse, from Five Things reader, Shaleah K:
Beauty by Robin Mckinley
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Anything by Ilona Andrews
Have a great week and I hope this list brought a smile to your weekend. And P.S. Thank you, Shaleah!! You have great taste in books.
It’s inevitable, but I am going to repeat myself. I’ve tried hard not to. I even maintain a list–but the list only works if you update it, which I did last week and discovered I have repeated myself. The Expanse! The Vanished Days! With over 220 Things and counting, it is going to happen.
But happily as much as I keep thinking I’ll run out eventually
, and I always seem to find more. Let’s take a look at this week’s list.
But for the record, I don’t think updates should count. Do you remember the Thing I did a while back about Prancer the Chihuahua? The demon chihuahua who was stuck in a shelter because of his personality and quirks? I was scrolling through the other day and discovered that Prancer found the perfect forever home and now has a his own Instagram account and is living his best life. Give him a follow!
Wow! You all had thoughts and suggestions about learning how to jump a car. Didn’t read last week’s Five Things? Here’s a quick link back.
Tammy and Geraldine wrote about cables that come with chargers so you don’t need another car. Once charged
, they will hold that charge for about a year. Ginny wrote in and recommended a Halo Bolt. The Halo Bolt also has a plug in for charging phones and laptops. I haven’t tried one, but I will definitely be checking them out.
I was also reminded that in addition to jumping a car, pumping your own gas, and changing a tire, you should also know how and where to add oil. Add those to your car-wise list of expertise.
As an aside to all all this, I once went on a date and his car tire went flat and he didn’t know how to change it. So there I was, in heels and fancy dress, changing the tire so he could take me home. Note: there was no second date and not because he didn’t know how to change the tire, but because he wasn’t interested in learning how.
Looking for a light fun read? Try The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling. I spotted this book before Christmas at the bookstore, and much to my chagrin, forgot to grab it that day and it was gone by the next time I went in, so I had to order it up on my Kindle. It’s a cute story of a reluctant witch who accidentally cursed her summer fling a decade earlier and now he’s returned. A fun read for a cold day.
Have you watched The Gilded Age yet? It’s very Downtown Abbey light. I’m not invested yet, and I wish the characters had a little more depth, but having just finished the second episode, I’m with Mrs. Aster in saying, “we’ll be seeing more of them.”
I’ll stay for now, because the costumes are amazing and lush and beautiful. That, and watching Christine Baranski sneer at everything is always a delight.
One of you marvelous Five Things readers wrote and asked me to share a PSA on CO Poisoning. I then promptly made a note to do so and now I can’t find the email to thank them. But we should all thank them because it is a timely reminder. She asked that we all be mindful of shutting off our cars, especially if they are parked in an attached garage. And make sure to remind the elderly as well. Her elderly mother had a brush with CO poisoning and thankfully she is doing better.
A few years ago, an entire family in our neighborhood was lost during a power outage when they brought their gas grill inside the garage to use to cook and heat. All five people in that house perished from CO poisoning.
So please be mindful when parking your car in an enclosed garage and making sure your car is shut off immediately. And in light of the bad weather sweeping across the country
, never use a gas grill or any other propane/gas powered thing inside a residence.
And CO monitors aren’t a bad investment. We have one in our house.
Count this as a Thing I hope I never have to repeat. Have a wonderful and safe weekend.
Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan 29th) I will be taking over on Instagram for Romanced By the Book. Megan and Marielle are a dynamic duo of romance loving readers who post about books and authors and sponsor read alongs–most recently diving deep into And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake. Drop by and leave a comment
, or make sure to include them in your follows.
They will also be posting a zoom interview with yours truly. Please promise not to horrified of live me. LOL.
Now let’s get to the list. We have a Friday ahead and a weekend in front of us. I hope both are wonderful.
I recently left my car lights on when I went to help out a friend. And went back outside a few hours later to find I had a dead battery. My friend was ready to call for help, but I got out my jumper cables and we got the car started with a jump from her car. Easy peasy. But I was surprised that not only did my friend not know how to jump a car, she didn’t even own jumper cables. So we went over the basics so now she knows, and let me tell you what not so fancy gift she is getting for her birthday.
When I was a teen and wanted my driver’s license, my dad required two things (well other than proficiency at driving): How to change a tire and how to jump a dead battery. Really, every driver should know how. But as women, we shouldn’t be at the mercy of just any random stranger. So this weekend, please, learn how to jump start your car and keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk.
Car battery with jumper cables, close-up.
We’ll discuss changing a tire next week.
So now that we’ve gotten our hands dirty, I offer this little bit of delightful spa wonderfulness. These Salux exfoliating washcloths are the bomb. The same friend who can now jumpstart a car gave me a set of these for my birthday last year and I wore them out. Having just ordered a new set, I realized I needed to share these with all of you.
Warning: the first few times you use these, go gently. They will really buff the skin. But oh, how lovely you feel after.
Periodically I just have to read a Georgette Heyer. Haven’t read her? Oh, a Regency universe awaits you. I’ve been slowly working my way through books for years
, savoring them slowly, rereading favorites in between–looking right at you The Foundling and/or The Grand Sophy–both excellent gateway books into all things Heyer.
Don’t be fooled by the demure miss on the cover. Sophy is a riot!
This time up, I read The Quiet Gentleman, a romance/mystery about an earl who returns from years at war only to find that someone in his peaceful home wants him dead. It is more mystery than romance, but has a slow burn of a spark that brings a smile at the end. The mystery isn’t too hard to figure out, but it is Georgette Heyer, so you just love the entire journey to the end.
Have you got a favorite Georgette Heyer novel?
So early in the pandemic, I bought a small, straggling lemon tree off the discount/dying plant shelf at Home Depot. I nursed it back to health and it grew a very large, wonderful lemon. I knew I had to do something very special with it, and so I made Lucy’s Lemon Squares.
I’ve had this recipe ever since I was a kid, from my own copy of The Peanuts Cookbook that I bought using my allowance from one of those Scholastic flyers that they used to send home from school.
So you could say, Lucy Van Pelt was the inspiration for my love of cooking. Do you have a favorite cookbook? Or just a unique sentimental favorite?
Have you watched The Expanse? This scifi thriller series is based on the James S. A. Corey books, beginning with Leviathan Wakes. I wish I’d read the books first, but now I am more curious to see how they stack against the show. We really loved watching this series (I simply adore Amos) but were disappointed that Amazon cut the final season from 10 episodes to 6 due to costs. My husband wanted to know if Amazon Prime was going to cut its streaming costs by 40% as well. Snort.
Have a great week!
So to all of you who have checked in on me of late, Thank You! And hugs to Joan G. and Diane M. who wrote me in the last two weeks to nudge me into bringing the Five Things newsletter back to life. So cheers to the pair of them!
What have I been up to? Facing my challenges and bringing all the attitude, of course.
“Life is about challenges and how we face up to them and the attitude we take into every day.” ~ Martina Navratilova
Recently I posted Martina’s wise advice on my desk. That’s because I’ve finished my next book. Cause for celebration in and of itself. Hurrah!!
However, I also amiably parted ways with my agent, and now am shopping my big hug of a book around to new agents. It is not an easy process, and this story has some strikes against it (Hello! It is LONG.) But I believe in this book with all my heart, so I am bringing the attitude to the challenges ahead to see it published.
Keep your fingers crossed for me.
But you aren’t here to hear all my blathering on. Let’s get to those wonderful Five Things I’ve collected for you.
When we remodeled last summer, I lost the spot where I had a coat rack on the wall and had all my scarves and extra bags hung up. Searching for a solution, I found this: A combination of a hanger and shower curtain rings. But instead of using it for tank tops like this ingenuous soul did, I’m using mine for scarves. So if you are looking for an easy way to have all your scarves in one place, this is a neat trick.
Over the holidays I was looking for a quick and easy gift for friends and came up with doing a homemade cocoa mix and marshmallows. The cocoa mix is behind a paywall (but if your library has Overdrive and magazine access
, get the December issue of Cooks Illustrated and you’ll find the recipe on page 17 without all the headaches).
The marshmallow recipe is available to everyone.
If you are thinking to yourself, “Elizabeth, have you lost your mind?” you might be right, but also, homemade marshmallows are divine. And they will make a cozy and unique Valentine’s Day gift.
Also, I’m telling you this now so you can make a few batches ahead of time. You know, for practice.
Image Courtesy of Svetl
I am nearly done with the monster crochet project I started a few months ago: The d’Histoire Naturelle CAL (Crochet Along). First of all—I don’t crochet. Not very well. But I got obsessed and decided that I could learn along the way.
This CAL comes with an amazing series of YouTube videos by a master of the craft, Esther, of It’s all in a Nutshell Crochet. Her YouTube channel is an amazing master class in crochet. And she is so soothing. I got so I just turned YouTube on to listen to her calm encouragement and to watch her crochet.
So I guess what I am getting at is two fold. Dig in and try new things that scare the pants off of you. AND there is probably a YouTube channel that will show you how.
Okay, I’m probably already telling you all about the latest craze, but just in case you’ve been baffled, you need to try Wordle. You’ve certainly seen the posts:
If you haven’t figured out how to play, it is very easy. Type in any 5 letter word. Wordle tells you if your guess is wrong (gray boxes), right letter/wrong place (yellow)
, or spot on (green). From there you continue to guess words using your scrambled letters.
And if you worry about getting addicted and wanting to play all the time, never fear. There is only one word a day. But it can be a doozy. Which happens to be 5 letters…..
Suzanne Enoch just posted the cover for her September 2022 book, Something in the Heir. I think it’s delightful and am so glad to see publishers doing something new with historical covers. What do you think?
If you love this post, please feel free to share it with friends and if you aren’t getting my weekly newsletter, sign up at the top right hand side of this page. See you next week.
Well, clearly you all missed me and I was warmed and awestruck at all the nice emails I got about my return. So I certainly couldn’t miss this week. Especially not with this list on hand.
So here are this week’s Five Things:
When you are reading a great Regency, have you ever wanted to just hang out in those houses for like, well, the rest of your life? Well, here is a way to spend 15 minutes tromping about and Exploring a Regency Town House.
Photo: Bath, 2006
I’ve said this before, I’ll most likely say it again. If you are a writer or have always wanted to write a book
, the last day to register for the Surrey International Writer’s Conference is October 15th.
This is, bar none, the best writing conference out there, and it is once again, virtual, making it accessible to anyone in any time zone. Also, if you can’t make that weekend
, when you register, you get access to the recordings for 30 days.
So don’t wait, sign up and start your writing life.
Every once in a while I stumble across something on Twitter that is just brilliant. And this thread of knitting patterns by Sasha Devlin is just that and a bag of chips. So many fun bits to create, or to bookmark and use for your holiday wish list to send to your favorite knitter. Start with this hat!
I almost sent this out without the Ravelry link, so I am saving myself from answering a hoard of anxious emails. This is the Horseshoe Cable Hat by Manon Drolet. I’m fond of green. LOL
Once again that intersection of American and British English can cause confusion.
So you Brits call these cookies, Flapjacks. I would be expecting a pile of pancakes, just as Smitten Kitchen says. But I think I would be pleasantly surprised if I was served these instead of a pile of pancakes. With the chocolate topping, of course.
And yes, I have Lyle’s golden syrup in my cupboard. I get it from, where else, Amazon. Will be baking a tray today.
Photo credit: Smitten Kitchen
A group of writers I belong to are always singing the praises of Brene Brown (looking right at Liza Palmer) and have roped me into reading and discussing her book
, Rising Strong. I gotta say, I am not a self-help, nonfiction reader by choice, but giving myself a push.
What have you read lately that was a push/stretch for you that you enjoyed?
Yes, I am okay. To all of you who have sent me emails and DMs asking what’s happened, where have I gone, well…. I’m great and I’ve been living in a tent. By choice.
So . . . about mid-July we packed up about 75% of our house and put it into storage and started remodeling. Like everything around here at Chez Boyle, we do most of the things ourselves. We packed.
We did some demolition. Here is the point where my husband said, “you’ll never get all that in your car.” I did.
Then we patched things up and handed off the house to a floor refinisher
, a painter and got fancy closets. The second picture is my revamped and updated office. My husband even put in USB ports in the wall plugs.
In the meantime, the husband and I glamped it up in the backyard in our tent. Yes, you can fit a king sized bed into a tent if you are of a mind to do it. And three people to help fold the mattress to get it through the flap.
And through all of this, I was WRITING. Big capital letters because I was determined to finish this book before October 1st
, and just last Friday I wrote this:
Yes, there it is, my next book. It hasn’t been sold. It will probably need a bit of massaging after my beta readers get through it. But it is, done.
So, to make a long story short, I’ve been up to my neck busy, but I haven’t forgotten all of you. And thank you to everyone who wrote, concerned about my dropping off the face of the earth. I love you all!!
And it wouldn’t be Friday without Five Things. After all, I made you sit through my remodeling slide show. Snort!
I have a scene in the aforementioned book, (Did I also mention I finished? In my delirium, I might have forgotten) where the characters have a taffy pull. Of course that means googling all things saltwater taffy and taffy pulls and I came across this video on Buzzfeed that is as fascinating as it is mesmerizing. I could watch that taffy go round and round all day.
And I just found out, with more help from Google, that Salty Road Taffy is sold at a grocery store not far from my house. I shall report more once I score a box. You do know I do these things just for all of you?
Because I am a sucker for feel good videos, I also melted all over the place over this wonderful news story about a friendship between a little boy and a 100 year old lady. I just adore them both and kudos to Mary for still living on her own at 99. She is my new favorite heroine. Watch with a tissue.
I collect stickers from all the places I go and all the products and such that I adore and stick them in my bullet journal as a sort of mementos of my year in progress. So I’m always on the lookout for new ones, and there are some amazing and pretty stickers to dress up your world at Redbubble. After I ordered recently, they sent me a coupon that gives you $15 off your first order.
There are a lot of stickers there, people. Lots of pretty ones. And looking ahead toward Christmas–yes, I said Christmas before Halloween–it might be fun to order now for stocking stuffers. You can access your coupon here.
I bought this stand for my iPad, but just recently realized it works perfectly for my bullet journal–I felt like I’d come across the coolest hack ever: I can stand my bullet journal up and open
, and then type from my notes instead of bending over and squinting. Don’t you love it when something for one thing works for another?
Susanna Kearsley’s new book The Vanished Days arrives next Tuesday. I was lucky enough to read an early copy and loved it!! As always, Susanna combines this wonderful depth of history with such real, compelling characters. Don’t miss this book.
Until next week. And thank you for hanging in there for me.
I’m just going to get right to it. There’s a lot of great things this week.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I don’t know if you subscribe to A.Word.A.Day by
Wordsmith.org but if you do, the usage citation was probably familiar… yes, that was Confessions of a Little Black Gown being used to represent the word
, “Woolgathering.” I was, and still am, over the moon.
Here is a clearer view of the post. If you don’t get this daily email—and why wouldn’t a group of dedicated readers
, aka lovers of words, not want a daily word?!—you can subscribe here.
A dear friend of mine who READS everything declared she was “sick and tired of World War II books.”
I’m still unable to resist—probably because I grew up begging a steady stream of stories of WWII from family friends and relatives. My favorite: Rody, please tell me again how you escaped from the POW camp!
(Which, btw, is a thrilling story of how a young Rody, dodged being given over to the Russians, got aided by ordinary German citizens, and found his way back to the American lines.)
So clearly I’ve digressed, but this week, I picked up and read The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan. She also wrote The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. which according to Amazon I have on my poor, overburdened Kindle.
The Spies of Shilling Lane is more fun and emotional than thrilling and dark danger. Our middle aged heroine, Mrs. Braithwaite, has been drummed out of power in her small village after her husband divorces her, and now an outcast, she goes to London to find her missing daughter. As they say, hjinx ensue.
I thought it sweet and tender at times, as Mrs. Braithwaite, so sure of herself and her standing in the world, comes to see herself with new eyes. We all need a little bit of Mrs. Braithwaite in our life.
After our sweltering heat wave in Seattle—did I mention it was 108?—we’ve all been looking for new ways to stay cool. Mine? I reached back to my childhood for homemade popsicles. I bought a set of molds, and now when I make smoothies and there is a bit left, I freeze it for another day. Such a treat!
If you have a favorite popsicle recipe, send it along. I’m looking for some to try out.
And speaking of the heatwave, just as we were about to have a bonanza crop of raspberries, the heat cooked them on the vine. I lost about 40% of my berries. Sadly, so did all the commercial growers. Did you know that most of the raspberries in the United States come from my corner of the world? So if you find some, eat them up, because they will be scarce this year and next year as well.
As I said last week, you all outdid yourselves providing reading suggestions, or rather, books you love to reread. So here are more of your favorites:
Cerese confessed a love for Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. I have to agree. And a great summer read.
Michelle suggests that if you like historical fictions, try Conn Iggulden’s novels. She likes his War of the Roses books. (Great, an entirely new author with tons of books to read. My Kindle is groaning. That’s not really a complaint, but you knew that, didn’t you?).
And Shaleah sent me a great list of books she loves to reread:
- Beauty by Robin McKinley, a YA retelling of, you guessed it, Beauty and the Beast. (Which by the way, is one of my favorite tropes! How did you know??)
- Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. (I think this was my first Kleypas as well. Oh, so good.)
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Yes. And YES.)
- Anything by Ilona Andrews. (Elizabeth Bennett would add that this is a universal truth that always bears repeating. LOL)
Last month, we went to Chicago for a family wedding and to spend time with our oldest son who just graduated from college. While there, we made a trek to the Field Museum of Natural History and got to see the wonderful exhibit Becoming Jane, on the formative years of Dr. Jane Goodall.
(Those dinos! Always right there ready to photo bomb a selfie!)
At the end of the exhibit, they ask everyone to take a pledge to do better by our planet by taking one simple step a day, such as taking a walk outside, and avoiding products that harm our environment. So I did.
I pledged to use less single use plastics. It was something I’ve been trying to do for a number of years, but I got serious and ordered a roll of Bee’s Wax Wrap.
Photo credit: Bee’s Wax Wrap
I got the roll so I could cut my own pieces and so far, I love it. It keeps food so much nicer than plastic wrap does. I should have done this years ago. If you have questions about it, Bee’s Wrap has a thorough FAQ that will answer all your questions.
And yes, I did just share a picture from the inside of my fridge. We’ve gotten to that point in the newsletter relationship.
That’s it! See you next week, when I’m probably going to ask your help in deciding what color to paint my office.
Also, the winners from last week’s contest for the autographed copies of Sonali Dev’s books are Jenne of Denton, TX and Jo of Little Rock, AK. Watch for your books—they are in the mail. If you haven’t heard, Sonali’s newest book, Incense and Sensibility is out now.