Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Afghan Update

I am so mentally exhausted right now - too much going on with work and church responsibilities - I'm having to brain a lot. There's only so much brain to start with... Anyway, as promised, here are the four blankets with the squares I've done so far (except for the ones in the last post). One has two colors, one has three colors, and two of them have four colors. There will be 24 squares per blanket once I'm done - sometime next December. It's been a lot of fun so far!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2015 Project 365 – Week Fifteen

This week had some grim & stormy bits, but ended up being glorious. It’s my favorite time of year & I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. Which is why this post is going up so late (and might not even get posted until Monday evening – we’ll see how far I get – ha!).

Sunday, April 5th     
Happy Easter!

It was a nice day so I went for a walk along the river.

Monday, April 6th  
Things Dr. M saw today.

The moon!

I felt poorly all day Monday – I was afraid that I was getting the flu (it’s been making the rounds at church). So I wore my Christmas jammies while I gazelled to make me feel better. And I was fine on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 7th         
Saw our “puppy” Tuesday morning – sorry for the terrible low light through the door iPhone picture. Silly groundhog.

Fat cardinal on a gloomy day.

I was laughing because I researched something & emailed it to Dr. M while I gazelled – it’s fun to be able to multitask while nagging :) – ha!

Wednesday, April 8th  
Dr. M pretending to nap at school. I love his tiny owl earrings.

I took these at choir practice. The Easter flowers are really opening up.

Thursday, April 9th    

I laughed and laughed at this picture Dr. M took – ha!

My daily walk – after a thunderstorm.

I finished a new afghan square – this one took me FOREVER! It took a while for me to figure out how to start, and then when I finished it, it was too big so I had to rip out two rows. Sheesh.

Friday, April 10th    
I was going to do the 10 on 10 today, but these were the only two pictures I took. Oops.

I made two more squares – it took less time to do these two than it did to make the one from yesterday. Nice to know that I can learn from my mistakes :)

Saturday, April 11th            
Beautiful day! Dr. M & I worked around the yard, cleaning up the raised beds and mowing. Dr. M also painted the fire pit.

We have quite a variety of wildlife in our back yard.

Made the 4th square of this pattern (remember, I’m making four different blankets, so these squares don’t actually go together). Later this week I'll post pictures of the other squares I've made so far. You've seen some of them, but I finally have enough so that you can see what each blanket might look like.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review Tuesday (continued)

If you'll recall, last week I told you that I wasn't going to inflict my review of 14 books on you in one post. So here are the remaining seven (um, plus the couple I've read since last week...).

8. The Informationist (Vanessa Michael Munroe #1), by Taylor Stevens. Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back. Until now. A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.

The Bug Says: Well this was a ripping good read! I liked (VERY MUCH) that the lead badass character was a woman, and I enjoyed reading about her past & what shaped her. I gave it 4 stars, and I have book 2 in my queue…

9. Innocent in Las Vegas (Tiffany Black Mystery #1), by A.R. Winters. Cupcake-loving croupier Tiffany Black is determined to leave her job at the casino for good. She's one small step away from acquiring her Private Investigator license, and has her eye on the prize. Accepting her first real case - investigating the murder of casino-mogul Ethan Becker - should be exciting. Instead, things spiral out of control and Tiffany finds herself in over her head, as she confronts secretive suspects, corrupt casino henchmen and her mysterious, ex-Special Forces bodyguard. Tiffany's poker-hustling Nanna and pushy parents want her to find a nice man and settle down, but Tiffany just wants to track down the real murderer before he finds her first...

The Bug Says: This was the Kindle freebie for March book club. Absolute total Stephanie Plum knockoff. It was light & fluffy, and I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been saying, “Oh yeah, that’s just like Stephanie,” every other page. I gave it 3 stars.

10. Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1), by Kate Atkinson. Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape. Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

The Bug Says: I had read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson & loved it so much that when I saw this book on my book a day calendar I decided to give it a whirl. I really enjoyed it. She’s an excellent writer, and this genre is right down my alley. I gave it 5 stars.

11.  Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1), by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence — and the patronage of her benevolent employers — she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind. 

The Bug Says: My cousin recommended this book to me when we were in NC earlier this month. Another strong female lead with a fascinating set of skills. I thoroughly enjoyed it & can’t wait to read the next one! I gave it 4 stars.

12. The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1), by Graeme Simsion. Narrator Don Tillman 39, Melbourne genetics prof and Gregory Peck lookalike, sets a 16-page questionnaire The Wife Project to find a non-smoker, non-drinker ideal match. But Rosie and her Father Project supersede. The spontaneous always-late smoker-drinker wants to find her biological father. She resets his clock, throws off his schedule, and turns his life topsy-turvy.

The Bug Says: This was our “real” book for March book club. At first I was a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, but after a bit I realized that the main character was pretty much in charge of his life in the way that he found acceptable, so I relaxed my PC vigilance. It was a lot of fun, and we’re going to read the second book in the series for April. I gave it 4 stars.

13. The Escape (John Puller #3), by David Baldacci. John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller takes on the burden of bringing his brother in to face justice.

The Bug Says: Oh David, David, David – why can’t I just quit you? Your men are ridiculously honorable and manly men (when they’re not sniveling weasly men), and your women, while capable, are formulaic. I started out listening to the audio version of the book, but oh man the narrators are terrible, so I switched to the Kindle version. The story is actually pretty interesting, but even so I gave it 2 stars. And you know I’ll read John Puller #4 if there is one. Sigh.

14. A Very Sad Letter: The True Story of an American Pioneer Woman and the Abosolute Despair She Endured - In Her Own Words, by Paul Kroeze. Read the heartbreaking true letter sent in 1876 from aunt Sara Olds to her niece Matilda Ann Hoteling describing the sacrifices she endured in trying to save her young daughter. Learn what Sara Olds did when another child took ill on a wagon trip from Colorado to Kansas. Also follow Madilda Ann Hoteling and see how she used a teaching certificate to explore and become one of the earliest teachers to settle in the American Northwest. These were two amazing women, both set on different paths who both touched on American history.

The Bug Says: This was my Kindle freebie for April book club. And I just noticed the typo in the title (yes, it does appear that way on the book cover too). The pretty much holds true throughout the whole (16 page) book. The author (a descendant of Aunt Sara) says that he added punctuation to her letter, but I couldn’t really tell. Then he rambled on a bit about the niece Matilda – who actually was a fascinating woman. The excerpts from her writing were the most well written parts of the book. I gave it 2 stars. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 Project 365 – Week Fourteen

Happy Easter!! All day I’ve been singing (mostly in my head, but sometimes in the car): Lo in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior. Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord. Up from the grave he arose! With a mighty triumph o’er his foes! He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign…” And then I just sort of hum because I don’t know the alto & the soprano gets out of my range and then I get all nostalgic about this soprano (Murial, called Merle because I guess we couldn’t say Murial?) in my home church who could knock this out of the ballpark… You get the picture. :)

Anyway, this week we made up for the lack of pictures last week! There’s lots of wild (& not so wild) life. It was also Holy Week, which kept me quite occupied all week.

Sunday, March 29th     
Papa cardinal.

Yes, that is a totally kaput bracket.

Monday, March 30th  

I took a walk outside today.

Tuesday, March 31st        
Back yardigans…

I met another Alter Guild lady at church today & we set things up for the Maundy Thursday service.

The moon! (To see other pictures of the moon, including the eclipse, check out Dr. M’s post here).

Wednesday, April 1st
I sat outside on our new swing and crocheted for a while.

I love the series of pictures Dr. M took of these ducks. Go here to see more of them.

Cows, and a goose that would have appreciated being able to groom itself in peace. Ha!

Dove at the cement pond…

I walked around the neighborhood. The Easter Bunny wasn’t quite ready for action yet.

Thursday, April 2nd    
Our Maundy Thursday service was this evening. I made Charoset (using this recipe) for the meal prior to the service (we have Seder items along with soup & bread).

The moon!

Our back yard just gets sillier every day.

Friday, April 3rd   
Dr. M named our new “puppy” Ulysses Everett McGill. Heh.

Good Friday – stripped altar and elements awaiting communion…

I came home from church & gazelled. While eating Easter candy. You got a problem with that? Ha!

Saturday, April 4th            
Dr. M said, “Oh Downy Boy, the seed, the seed is calling…”

It was an elegant presentation of Easter candy, but I have to tell you that the glass is already empty again :)

The moon!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Waste Not Want Not

The other day I was filling the ice trays & got annoyed because two of them are different from the other two, so they won't stack neatly on top of one another. Plus a couple of them are cracked. I had this radical thought: I could toss these four trays and get four new trays that fit together! I know, I sort of lost my head there for a moment. Because usually I'm this person:

This is the cream I use for my rosacea

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review Tuesday

Boy I haven’t done this for a while! I was just telling Dr. M that these posts require my brain & I don’t have one on Monday nights, so I’m writing this on Saturday. On Saturdays I have half a brain :)

In the 8 weeks since I last posted I’ve read fourteen (14!) books. Granted, some of them were pretty short, but still… I do recall some late night reading. A number of the books were recommended on my book a day calendar from last year – I had saved up the ones that looked interesting for times when I wanted something different. So there’s a little more variety than usual.

[Editor’s Note: I can’t inflict 14 books on you at once! I’m just going to post 7 today & the rest next Tuesday. You’re welcome.]

1. The Cypher (Guardians Inc. #1), by Julian Rosado-Machain. This book is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies … guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales. The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn't be aware of and dangers he shouldn't face, but that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity's future. The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology, but every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we've driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

The Bug Says: This was my Kindle freebie for book club for February. The story was pretty interesting – although it was yet another case of a boy saving the world. Don’t girls ever get to be heroes too? Unfortunately, being self-published, it was full of typos & such, so I gave it 2 stars. I’m reading the second book in the series right now. I’m going to try to power past the typos & enjoy the story. We shall see how it goes.

2.  Sycamore Row (Jake Brigance #2), by John Grisham. Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

The Bug Says: I listened to this one on audio – I loved the southern accent of the narrator. And I really really wanted to love the book. It’s the first Grisham book I’ve read in a while. The main character was in the very popular A Time to Kill (you might remember that Matthew McConaughey & Sandra Bullock were in the movie version). But this book was very formulaic. I just was never really drawn in by the characters. And, I can’t believe I’m saying this, it was just too feel-good for a Grisham book. I gave it 3 stars.

3. Obsession in Death (In Death #40), by J.D. Robb. Eve Dallas has become the object of one person’s obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her — again and again...

The Bug Says: I can’t believe we’re 40 books into this series! A few books ago I was wondering if the magic was fading, but the last several have been great (to me anyway). I gave it 4 stars.

4. What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles. Kyle Kirby has planned a cruel and unusual revenge on Cass McBride, the most popular girl in school, for the death of his brother David. He digs a hole. Drugs Cass. Kidnaps her. Puts her in a box-underground. He buries her alive. But Kyle makes a fatal error: Cass knows the power of words. She uses fear as her weapon to keep her nemesis talking - and to keep herself breathing during the most harrowing 48 hours of her life. 

The Bug Says: I found the book interesting, although by the end of it the only character I really liked was David, and since he was dead… The older brother was self-centered & slightly psychopathic, and Cass was what (I imagine) most teenage girls are like. By the end, neither of them had much of my sympathy! I gave the book 3 stars.

5. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay (Illustrator), Siobhan Dowd (Conception). The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

The Bug Says: What an interesting way to tackle a very painful subject! I won’t give away what the monster is after, but I will say that it was a really good look at all the emotions involved when a teenager goes up against something he thinks he can’t handle. I gave it 4 stars.

6. Gods and Beasts: An Alex Morrow Novel (Alex Morrow #3), by Denise Mina. It’s the week before Christmas when a lone robber bursts into a busy Glasgow post office carrying an AK47. An elderly man suddenly hands his young grandson to a stranger and wordlessly helps the gunman fill bags with cash, then carries them to the door. He opens the door and bows his head; the robber fires off the AK47, tearing the grandfather in two. DS Alex Morrow arrives on the scene and finds that the alarm system had been disabled before the robbery. Yet upon investigation, none of the employees can be linked to the gunman. And the grandfather—a lifelong campaigner for social justice—is above reproach. As Morrow searches for the killer, she discovers a hidden, sinister political network. Soon it is chillingly clear: no corner of the city is safe, and her involvement will go deeper than she could ever have imagined. 

The Bug Says: Oh I love me some Alex Morrow! So much more than a police procedural. Denise Mina is one of my new favorite authors. I gave it 4 stars.

7.  The Uninvited Guests, by Sadie Jones. One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honour of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savoury survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels. Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking. 

The Bug Says: It took me a minute to figure out what the heck was happening in this very charming book. After I finished it I decided that it was a cross between Pride & Prejudice & Rocky Horror Picture Show. A LOT of fun! I have it 4 stars.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Project 365 – Week Thirteen

There aren’t very many pictures this week, & once again we very nearly missed getting a photo on one day. I’m just glad I took a random selfie (I have NO IDEA why I took the picture, except maybe to demonstrate that my hair is kind of out of control with static these days).

Sunday, March 22nd    
I had a very busy day today – church, taking communion to a sick parishioner, and then book club! I was laughing because we’re all about digital books in our book club (that thing that sort of looks book-like is the menu for the café – ha!).

Monday, March 23rd
Dr. M saw some canvas-backed ducks today!

Isn’t this the saddest sight you ever saw?

Tuesday, March 24th        
Apparently Tuesdays are getting to be a problem – last Tuesday I had to use pictures from Dr. M’s university’s website. Today, you get me.

Wednesday, March 25th
Canada geese on the move…

And a random racing pigeon that just showed up in our neighborhood! Dr. M did some research & thinks it belongs to a racing club in Illinois. I think it was just a bit off course!

Thursday, March 26th   
I ran out of lettuce, but I was determined to have a salad anyway. Heh.

Dr. M got some great pictures of a blue heron in flight. Go to his blog here to see more.

Friday, March 27th  
Tree, or Ent – you make the call.

Fish & Chips Friday – yum!

Saturday, March 28th            
I didn’t have anything I needed to do today – such a nice feeling! So I spent some time watching spring training baseball & crocheting.

Well, we did have one thing to do – we attended a play at Dr. M’s university. It was very well done – and educational. Go here to read about the Living Newspaper type of production. Interesting!

The moon!
Hope everyone has a great week!