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.
So I should probably warn you, this week’s list might break your TBR. There you are warned. On the good side there is no violence, bad language, or strobe lights in the paragraphs ahead. Just books, some ideas to make your life easier, an awesome salad and a GIVEAWAY.
Have a great 4th of July weekend. And to those of you outside the US, have a great weekend.
Have you heard of Newsletter to Kindle? This is a service you can sign up for that sends the newsletters you subscribe to directly to your Kindle, so they are right where you like to read. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is on my To Do list.
Let me know if you try it and like it. Or hate it.
Remember how I asked you about your favorite books to reread and your childhood favorites. I should have known you all would flood my inbox with suggestions and stories of books that you LOVE. Of course you did. We are all readers first.
And Five Things reader extraordinaire, Robin Brock, sent me huge and equally delightful list of “Some of my more recent loves (that definitely deserve a re-read)”. Take a deep breath, then dive in:
ALL of the historical mystery series: Lady Darby by Anna Lee Huber
ALL of the historical mystery series: Sebastian St. Cyr by C.S. Harris (warning: there are 16 books in this series. Oh, who am I kidding? This isn’t a warning but a horn toot that All. Those. Books. Await. You.
ALL of the historical mystery series: Verity Kent by Anna Lee Huber. I can see Anna and I are going to become good friends.
ALL of the historical mystery series: Amory Ames by Ashley Weaver.
ALL of the urban fantasy series: Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews and Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs. Full disclosure: I love Ilona Andrews–both the books and the couple (Ilona and Gordon) who write them. And double bonus: Ilona knits, so she is uber cool.
ALL of the historical mystery series: Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas. If you are a regular Five Things reader, you already know I love Sherry’s take on Sherlock Holmes. And Sherry. She’s a delight.
ALL of the historical mystery series: Veronica Speedwell by Deanna Raybourn. Once again, ditto. And I just realized I haven’t read the latest. Excuse me, I need to go order a book….
ALL of the historical mystery series: Wrexford & Sloane by Andrea Penrose. I actually have the first one on my TBR, because Regency AND Mystery. That’s like peanut butter and jam. Murder on Black Swan Lane is now moved up the queue.
Goodness, Robin, when do you sleep? And this isn’t even half of what she sent me. I’ll share the other half once you have a chance to get these all read. Would next week be okay? LOL!
As it is, I’ll keep sharing the lists of books you all sent in over the next few months. Yes, months.
We need a break from reading and something nummy to eat, right? Well, if you were in Seattle over the past week or so, there was no cooking being done. It was all about salads and cold foods. When you don’t have AC, the last thing you want to do on the third day of 100+ heat is turn on your oven. (Or your dishwasher or the dryer . . . )
So how about this:
Strawberry Spinach Salad. Which I ate every day. I’ve fed this to friends, my mom, the boys. It is that delish. I think the candied pecans are the secret weapon. But it is just so good. It is now in the rotation and should not be missed.
Photo credit: Cooking Classy
During the hot spell here in Seattle, I decamped to the basement, where it was only 85 degrees and binge watched, Shadow and Bone. I have not read the books, so I have to imagine I might have gotten more from the show if I had read them, or probably (as is usually the case) been annoyed at what was different or wrong. Do you do that?
Then again, I kept rooting for the Darkling, so clearly my priorities were a little skewed. But he is rather hunky. And he could be a hero. He could be, with the right heroine.
Near hero/evil villain aside, I enjoyed it–once I got the hang of all the story lines and the fast moving plot and all the characters–and look forward to Season Two on Netflix.
Recently I was in Chicago for a family wedding and got a chance to catch up with my dear friend, Sonali Dev. Her bright smile and thoughtful ways always make my day. And after all this time apart from friends, having coffee together was such a joy. (Thank you, everyone who brought us vaccinations)
And so I wanted to bring that joy back to share with all of you. I had ordered from my favorite local indie, Three Tree Books, copies of her first two Jane Austenesque stories, Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors and Recipe for Persuasion, and asked Sonali to autograph them.
And since we’ve been talking a lot about series today, (did you READ Two?) the third book in Sonali’s series, Incense and Sensibility will be out on July 6th. I’m clearly out to break your TBR this week.
(Me on a very hot day in June in Chicago. I won’t even show you what I looked like when it got to 108 here in Seattle.)
Anyone else seeing light at the end of the tunnel that has been the past year +? Yeah, me too. A huge shout out to everyone volunteering and who have dedicated their time and talents to getting shots in arms. Look out world, here I come!
I know we all aren’t there yet, so in the meantime:
I’m going to start this off with something you have to see to believe. A Lego Typewriter. I kid you not. I don’t want to even know what it would be like to step on one with bare feet. (All moms with kids will get this.)
But I have to admit, it’s really a thing of beauty and oh-so-fun and quirky. And Querty. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Photo Credit: Lego (Yes, it is made of Legos!!)
I hit the Farmer’s Market yesterday with two things in mind: the cherries are in season and the Rainiers must be in.
Winner, winner on both counts.
When I was a kid, my best friend’s grandfather had a cherry ranch and he was one of the first to plant Rainiers. Before they even came to market, I was eating way to many of them, as she’d bring bags of them home from Oregon. Oh, I love them.
And yes, I got two pounds of them. And yes, they are nearly gone. And yes, I know what happens when you eat too many cherries in one sitting.
What is your favorite fruit to come into season?
5 Things newsletter reader, Michele Stegman, loved the request for favorite books to reread, but she had a different take: What are your favorite childhood reads?
OMG! That just makes me all warm and cozy. I’ll start—anything by L.M. Montgomery, especially the Anne books and the Emily books, with The Blue Castle as my favorite book from childhood.
So break my inbox: what were your favorite childhood reads.
I have been a thrift shop, vintage shop, garage sale shopper always. I once famously wore a $9.95 cast off I got at the Goodwill to the RWA Awards Ceremony. Yes, I had to do a bunch of repair work on it, yes, I cut off the bows, but it was velvet and very pretty and while everyone bemoaned having to spend a bunch of money on a dress they would wear once, I got to be all smug. $9.95, people.
But there are also those times when you find that t-shirt that fits perfectly or is in a color you love and you want three more but can’t get them anywhere else, well…
There is hope . . . Thred Up. It is a great place to find familiar favorites and give them a new home as well as a fabulous way to move clothes you may no longer want off to a new life. It is a monster of a tag sale.
Recently, I bought t-shirts and a lovely dress for the summer from them. So thank you whoever recycled these pieces! And in return, I sent Thred UP a big box of clothes and handbags that were just wasting space in my closet.
A few years back I read the Rebel of the Sands series by Alwyn Hamilton.
I thought it was great fun and so when I spotted Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand I was hopeful it would have similiar roots. And yes, I am happy to report, I loved it. If you are looking for a YA that is a bit different and a great adventure, give this book a try.
I already have the second book, Realm of Ash, queued up and ready to read.
There is it is. This week’s Five Things. Remember to send me your childhood favorites. Next week, I’ll start sharing the reread list I’ve been compiling from your suggestions. Believe me, this is going to take more than one Friday….
First off, I would like to say a huge Happy Birthday to my mother. She turns 85 today. And I love her fiercely. She is my rock, my champion, and my strength.
I could go on and on about her, but I’ve got a great list today and we have a lot to cover. So…
I got one of those emails the other day—an author you’ve read has a new book up for preorder. I sort of glanced at it, but then I saw who.
Susanna Kearsley. I had that button clicked in nothing flat.
You all know I love her books, (The Winter Sea, A Desperate Fortune, sigh)and come this fall, when The Vanished Days appears on my doorstep, future me is going to send a warm hug back to past me for being so thoughtful. You’ll thank me as well.
Really, this is a book you don’t want to miss. Then again, you could say that about any of her books. (The Firebird . . . )
So I asked you what movies and shows you loved and boy did you fill my inbox. So wonderful. And now I have to share.
I think I know what we are all going to do this weekend….
Hint: make a BIG bowl of popcorn.
Last Holiday. Because what could you do if you were fearless?
Mulan (animated) same theme, roughly, plus one of the best scores ever.
A Night at the Opera- funniest movie ever made.
Love, Actually Because I love clever plots and romance
Pride and Prejudice (Ehle/Firth version) – do I really need a reason?
When Harry Met Sally. Can never get enough of that one for laughs and love.
Death Comes to Pemberly
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Making of A Lady
Love and Friendship
Beauty and the Beast
Last of the Mohicans
Dances with Wolves
The Dark Crystal
Merlin (tv show)
The Sound of Music
Now, I know I am putting my inbox in peril—but what are the books you read over and over again? I have my favorites, but I want to know what yours are…
In my quest to find the perfect sauce, I recently tried and loved this Yakisoba sauce. I’m still working out the kinks of making the perfect Yakisoba, but this sauce is pretty darn good all on its own or for throwing in with a stir fry. Give it a try.
And if you have a recipe for the perfect yakisoba, I would love to try it.
Photo Credit: Wandercooks
This past weekend was my 28th wedding anniversary. I know one is suppose to get all worked up over the “big ones”, but we both felt this one was a milestone for some odd, inexplicable reason.
We had a romantic weekend moving gravel and weeding. Because that is how we roll.
We’ve had our ups and downs, but stuck with each other and if there is one thing we always know for certain, we have each other’s back. If you’ve never the read the story of what he did to make sure my first book got published, go read My Favorite Hero. I’ll wait here.
See, told you. Through thick and thin.
I still like kissing him…
Every year I tell everyone who has aspirations to be a writer, go to the Surrey International Writer’s Conference which happens every October.
Once again it will be virtual and while I realize everyone has Zoom Fatigue—I know I do—if in the future, getting to British Columbia for a four day conference feels like an impossibility, go this year virtually.
The speakers and Master classes are out of this world. And it is the friendliest place you will ever find for writers no matter your skill set or interests.
Best of all, they have a sliding scale and the recordings will be available for 30 days after the conference. So there really is no excuse….
You’ll find all the conference information and registration here.
Have a great weekend. Hopefully you have some sunshine, a chance to sleep in, and a good book.
Wow! Fridays come so fast. At least this week it did. What are you up to this weekend? Or better yet, what are you reading? More on that below in this week’s Five Things:
Do you rewatch movies, like over and over? I found myself watching Captain Marvel again this week, and not long after I put it on, suddenly the entire household had gathered and we curled up and watched it.
I can’t even count how many times we’ve done this.
Why this one? I like the theme of self discovery and the power within that others can keep locked away—if you let them.
It got me thinking about the movies/tv series I turn to when I just need to be in the familiar, hear a message that resonates and I guess I am not alone in this. So I want to know, what are your favorite movies to watch over and over?
My agent asked me to find “comps” for the book that I’m finishing up. Comps are books that have the same feel, audience, or would be shelved in the same spot. Sigh, I have to go find more books.
Note: that was sarcastic, as if you didn’t know. I love finding new books.
But my search led me to NoveList – a database that is like speed dating for finding books. I accessed this through my public library since it is subscription based.
Having this sort of access makes my public library the unsung hero of finding all the things. Just dig around your library’s website or ask a librarian if they have NoveList.
What book did I find? Jojo Moyes, The Giver of Stars.
Now I have to read it, which is one of the hardships of being a writer. Again with the sarcasm. LOL.
Speaking of treats, when I was a kid, the lunch ladies would make these Chocolate and Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies and I thought they were heavenly. I have to admit, I still love them.
Besides being super easy, they are a quick and easy treat. Also, when you make them at home, they come with no lunchroom drama of having to find a spot in a crowded cafeteria full of mean girls.
So last week I had this handy diagram for writing book reviews—which a number of you do already and some of you wrote me and said you were going to give it a try—hurrah!!
Anne J wrote me and said she’s been writing reviews for a while and loves to share the books she reads. She has found that writing less is actually more—just let people know what they might like about a book you loved.
Here is her review of At the Pleasure of the Marquess by Sofie Darling.
My garden is coming alive (as are the weeds, but that is another story) and as always, what comes in first? The Rhubarb! Which I love.
Which I also share with everyone because I have a big patch, but my favorite is making Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp—which I made last weekend for a get together with friends. This recipe is quick, easy, and delish.
I even caught my bestie putting the last serving in her fridge for her Sunday breakfast. And since she is my BFF, I didn’t blame her in the least for sneaking it.
I will add, I never peel my rhubarb, but that’s up to you. Though sometimes it just peels itself. LOL.
BTW, can I say, having a bunch of fully vaccinated friends is the best thing ever. I had nearly forgotten how wonderful it is to gather, share good food, and just laugh. Get vaccinated so you can spread the joy and not Covid.
Have a great weekend and feel free to send this post along to friends and family. After all, sharing is what we do here. And if you haven’t yet, sign up for my newsletter at the top right hand side of the page–that way you will never miss a Five Things For Friday.
One of the rituals of spring is the return of the house sparrows next door. These little winged cuties have found a particular spot in a crevice in the neighbor’s roof and it’s there they make their annual nest.
The babies have hatched and this morning I watched Mama Sparrow shove them out of their third story home. It’s sort of horrifying at first. Out comes this little ball of fluff and they plummet toward the ground, but somehow they manage–always at the last moment–to begin flapping their little wings and begin their new journey.
I realized in many ways, we are all like those little birds. We’ve spent the last year holding ourselves so close and now, as we get vaccinated, find ourselves having to roust ourselves back into the world. At least I am. I’ve had both my shots and now am free to roam about, and yet . . . I’m that little bird who doesn’t want to be shoved out of the nest.
Just not yet.
In the meantime, I have some delightful treasures to keep you happily nesting. Or to take with you as you find your new wings.
Have you ever written a book review and posted it online? For some of you this is old hat. You love sharing your opinions, alerting friends and strangers alike to the stories you’ve loved. But if you haven’t written one, well, here is a wonderful cheat sheet to give you a start.
If you prefer, take a look at on @RomancedbytheBook‘s Instagram account. She got it from @jassilvera –author Jasmine Silvera–and so the sharing continues here.
I love what she says–that a review can be a few lines, and even just a helpful comparison to another book, or what you enjoyed specifically. So, if you are up to the task, take the last book you adored–or an old favorite– and share it somewhere online. And if you do, send me a snapshot and I’ll share some of your reviews next week.
How do you find new books to read? My all time favorite spot has been the Choice Reads shelf at my local library. It was always right there as you walked in and filled with new books from all the genres. I’ve found tons of new to me authors there. But with covid and my branch library closed to inside patrons, I’ve had to find new book haunts.
Some of my favorites: authors and librarians on Twitter. The book I am currently reading (down below) is from Mary Robinette Kowall’s recommendation on Twitter.
The wonderful book bloggers on Instagram are another source, (@Pinkcowlreads comes to mind) and the various Bookbub newsletters. Did you know, when you follow an author on Bookbub, you not only receive notices about their next book, but also emails when they recommend novels.
Where do you find great book recommendations?
My son showed his girlfriend the movie, That Thing You Do, the other night–and, of course she loved it. But how could she not, it is wonderful. But how was it, she’d never seen it? And my son said, “Mom, you’d be surprised how many people have never see it.
Time to fix that. If you are looking for a delightful, funny, heartwarming movie, with a smart and elegant Tom Hanks and just the right sort of catchy music from the 60s, please do yourself a favor and watch, That Thing You Do on any number of streaming platforms.
Fascinating book report: I present, The Heiress, The Revelations of Miss Anne deBourgh by Molly Greeley. This book is an alternative history for poor, misunderstood, Anne de Bourgh. You remember her from Pride & Predjudice–the daughter of Lady Catherine and the heiress of Rosings Park. I know I like a book when I catch myself stealing time to keep reading it. And now I am rooting for Anne.
Sometimes I just want to make a quick stir fry and be done with the matter. But then comes the question: How to sauce it. I have a few quick concoctions but none of them are quite as good as this one that I recently found: Chinese Garlic Sauce.
The family sat up and took notice. The glorious part about it? Once you have it on hand, whatever you throw together for a late week clean out the fridge stir fry will taste like you labored over a hot wok for hours.
Be ready for adulation and high praise.
Photo credit: SauceFanatic.com (Check out this site if you are looking for other sauces—it is a veritable saucy treasure trove!)
Hope you find your wings this weekend. Or at the very least, a great book to read and review.
Yikes! My weeks are getting away from me again. I am working really hard to finish my next book and the days are spinning past me. I look up and it’s Saturday and I’ve forgotten everything else. But this week I made sure to get it into my schedule: Five Things.
And here they are:
As the weather warms here in Seattle (we actually had a very dry and warm April) it is time to fill pots with annuals and I am all in. I have more pots than a woman should be allowed and I fill them every year.
And right now, while the plants are all little, I have to hold onto that gardener’s hope that very soon they will be overflowing with colorful blossoms.
But then again, all I have to do is look around my garden where the lilacs and calla lilies are all madly blooming and know that very soon it will be their turn.
Sunday is Mother’s Day here in the United States and if you are like me, you might be trying to find the right gift. Might I humbly suggest my Brazen Trilogy?
It is perfect if you are still social distancing and can be sent in a flash. For mom, grandmother, aunt or even yourself.
P.S. If you are a Kindle Unlimited reader, you will find it there for your enjoyment.
It is also the beginning of graduation season, and I am thrilled that my oldest is graduating from Loyola University Chicago.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, we would be traveling there for the ceremony, gathering with family and watching him pick up that hard earned diploma. But it is all virtual and so . . . we are home and making the best of it.
So here’s to all the kids and adults who have worked hard and have to make do with a virtual event—your dedication and perseverance in these trying times are a testament to your desire to see our world be a better place. Congratulations!!
Note: Nick hugging a very indifferent Pi. But he keeps trying!
And because we live in such an upside down place right now, I give you the Chicken Chase, if only to remind you that sometimes you are the dog and sometimes you are the chicken.
Watch the lower one–it has the perfect music.
And finally, this wonderful Scallion-Ginger Beef & Broccoli because it has moved into the steady rotation of favorites around here. We love it and I think your family will as well.
Photo credit: Eating Well Magazine
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend. And to all the moms, who have been putting in double and triple duty over the past year, hugs and all the love to you. I hope you get to put your feet up and be spoiled.
P.S. If you can get your vaccine, go for it. And if you can’t, mask up. We aren’t through this yet. But together we will be very soon.