Sunday, December 23, 2012

Charlie Brown Christmas

Perfection is overrated.  We try to be the perfect parent, give our children a perfect childhood, go to lengths to look perfect, decorate our homes perfect, and seem to do it all perfectly.  All that striving is exhausting.  Maybe we should just go out of our way to embrace imperfection. 

My Christmas decorating centers heavily around the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon.  When I was a child (and those of you about my age will remember) they only played CB Christmas once a year in December and if you missed it, you missed it.  My brother and I would scour the tv guides to make sure we knew when it would be on so we weren't one of the unfortunate ones.  I always felt so sorry for Charlie Brown but it did seem like a real childhood life we could all relate to. 

When I married I found that my husband would still eagerly wait every year to watch Charlie Brown at every holiday.  It became a family event when we had our son.  We would get some popcorn and all cuddle up on the couch.  They are some of my favorite memories.  Soon they would come out with the lighted vignettes and then recently the lit houses.  Now everywhere you look in my house at Christmas, Charlie or Snoopy are somewhere in sight. 




Over the years we have tried fake trees and real.  They all have their limitations, from storage and dust to pollen and dropping needles.   Now, due to our storage limitations and the realization that a stored tree is just as allergy prone as a real, we go with a real tree.  This year when we went out to find a tree, I just knew I wanted something small and sweet.  A real Charlie Brown tree.  We visited several centers--at one place the trees were dried out, at another they were very expensive, but at our third try we found our new tree.

We walked into the store and started rummaging around.  At first I was dismayed.  There were fat full trees, tall trees, long needled trees, but nothing was right.  Halfway through the store I thought maybe we should just turn around and leave but as I was losing heart I spied a spindly group of tiny trees.   I knew the moment my eyes lit on him.  He was a misshapen, bedraggled, sad little balsam fir sitting in a lonely little spot.  In an instant I made my decision.  No one else would take him home, he needed to fulfill his role as a Christmas tree.  I could feel that he was yearning to hold ornaments and be the center of our Christmas cheer. 

Two men walked past and I indicated my choice.  I could see them holding back a smile,  "You sure?" one asked.  "Yes." I firmly replied.  They carried it to the back to put the net over it and then to transport it to our vehicle.  My husband could have carried it out in one hand but I enjoyed the joke. 

Carrying it into the house, we set it on a little table in front of our window and started decorating.   Adding decorations we had gathered over our 25 years together was a walk back into the history of our lives.   My husband indicated a large hole in the branches - "What are we going to do about this?"  he inquired.  "I have just the thing."  I answered pulling out a large Charlie Brown ornament that played music.  I hung it from a branch.  A light from the tree dangled above the ornament bathing it in a light glow.   Perfect.

We took a step back and looked at the little tree.  It was perfect--in all it's imperfection. 


 

So now I wish you a merry imperfect perfect Christmas. 

...and as always Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some of My Favorite Movies

I don't know anything more enjoyable than watching an old movie on a wintry, Sunday afternoon. 

Everyone loves lists, right?  I read them to see if they match what I might choose.  Sometimes I learn new books, movies, or restaurants to try.  I thought I would share a list of favorite old movies with you.  There is nothing scientific about my list.  No one voted, no one is talking about them in an intellectual way.  They are just light, fun entertainment. 

We sometimes look back at history as a kinder, gentler time but I realize that wasn't always the case, so watch out for the occasional politically incorrect situation or cringe-worthy moment!  But, it's the fashions, the funny lighthearted stories, the settings, the songs and cinematography-- these are the things I love in old movies.  I hope you try them out and enjoy them as well.


(In no particular order)

1.   How To Steal A Million  -  Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole
2.   Bundle of Joy - Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher
3.   Indiscreet - Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman
4.   The Big Sleep - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
5.   The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison
6.   The Long Trailer - Desi Arnaz, Lucy Ball
7.   Mr Smith Goes to Washington - Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur
8.   The Quiet Man - John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara
9.   Two Weeks With Love - Jane Powell, Ricardo Montalban
10. Gigi - Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier
11.  The King and I  -  Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr
12.  Charade - Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant
13.  Inn of Sixth Happiness - Ingrid Bergman, Curd Jurgens
14.  Dark Passages - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
15.  The Mating Season - Gene Tierney, John Lund
16.  Yours, Mine and Ours - Lucy Ball, Henry Fonda
17.  The Prisoner of Zenda  -  Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr
18.  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -  John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart
19.  Father Goose  -  Leslie Caron, Cary Grant
20.  Brigadoon - Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse
21.  The Inspector General - Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak
22.  Move Over Darling  -  Doris Day, James Garner
23.  Roman Holiday  -  Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck
24.  My Six Loves  -  Debbie Reynolds, Cliff Robertson
25.  That Touch of Mink  -  Cary Grant, Doris Day
26.  Key Largo - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
27.  Anastasia -  Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner
28.  Without Reservations  -  John Wayne, Claudette Colbert
29.  Tammy and the Bachelor  -  Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Nielson
30.  On the Town  -  Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra
31.  The Shop Around the Corner  -  Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullivan
32.  Breakfast For Two  -  Barbara Stanwyck
33.  To Have and Have Not  -  Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
34.  In the Good Old Summertime  -  Judy Garland, Van Johnson

While going through my list I find there are a lot of the same actors--like now, actors tended to be in similar films when they were successful.  It's always fun when you recognize a supporting actor from one movie appearing in a different one.

I'm sure I've forgotten some gems--please leave me a comment here about any old movies you enjoy!!  Thanks for reading!! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Accompanied Jaunt

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  This year when we found out our son, Nathan, wouldn't be able to make it home for the festivities because of a new job, we were faced with a choice--go to him or go to our family celebration without him.  As a mother, all I could picture was our boy accompanied by his girlfriend, Kelly, sitting in Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner.  It didn't end up being a choice at all. 

I knew from past experiences of my own that young people often embrace the weird new holiday things you do when you can't go home.  (My husband and I recall several Christmas Eve's we spent at McDonalds when we were first married and he was in the army.)  But even though I knew he would be okay without me, I was reluctant to be without him. 

Our son goes to the University of Minnesota-Duluth so it wasn't really a hardship to think of visiting him there.  Duluth is a beautiful city nestled on the shores of Lake Superior.  We stayed in the quaint Canal Park.

As we arrived I noted with joy the Caribou Coffee across the street from our location.  As coffee is one of the reasons I pull myself out of bed, this was a neon sign of good things to come.  (pun intended)  We checked in and went up to our room.  The room was lovely and the view was better than I even expected looking out over the lake.   We opened the window to hear the water lapping at the rocks on the shore. 




Planning to incorporate a romantic getaway with our visit we pulled out a bottle of red wine and had an elegant glass before heading out to explore our surroundings.  Oops, next time we'd better pack glasses. 

 
 

We took the boardwalk down to the Maritime Museum (US Army Corps of Engineers).  It was a cool day but the lighthouses and lift bridge were worth the walk.   Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful state. 






We wandered along the pier and then headed in toward the shops.  Quaint boutiques, an antique store, the waterfront sculptures, and art galleries were all worth seeing.   Strolling along the sidewalks hand in hand is a relaxing beginning of a holiday weekend.  (hint, hint--guys this would be a wonderful surprise getaway)

We strolled through old warehouses made into interesting galleries and stores.   Everywhere we go I try to find some local art.  If possible I purchase a piece.  While walking through some of the shops we came to a studio of local award winning artist Kate Whittaker.  I fell in love with her work.  Her pieces truly spoke to me--the textures, colors, themes and images.  Although I was unable to take home any of her pieces, I met the talented lady.  Warm and gracious, she told us about her work.   Her compositions of acrylic on panels are haunting.  A few look as if they are viking ghost ships.  Although that may not be her intent, that is why I loved them.  Soon, some of her pieces will be accompanying a book of poetry by poet Kyle Elven.  (I will update you when their website is up.)  Her work is worth a visit if you ever get to Duluth.  See her studio online at www.katewhittaker.com.   (Thank you Kate for allowing me to post your calling card)  Now--to start saving for a special piece of art!




We walked down to the famous Grandma's Restaurant for dinner.  It was a quiet night at the restaurant because most people were likely with their families. The food was excellent and the wait staff was really friendly even though they were working the holiday eve.  They were making the extra effort to make it feel like they enjoyed having you visit.




Our Thanksgiving dinner at Fitger's (The Midi Restaurant) the next day was very enjoyable.  The food was delicious, the wait staff friendly, the view beautiful and no dishes to clean at the end made for a relaxing day. 

 
 
 
It can be difficult when you change the way you celebrate holidays but you have a choice.  You can either regret the change, or you can embrace the change and try to find something to enjoy and appreciate in the new situation.  I'm choosing to make it a wonderful new jaunt. 



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Betty Crocker's Vintage Cookbook

One day recently I decided I needed to find some new recipes.  Our menu plans were getting tired and similar.   I pulled down my vintage Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book, the one my mother used for some of the meals she served to our family when we were growing up.  Usually I turn to the index to find something specific but this time I decided to peruse the book from the beginning. 


This book was printed in 1961 and it was a charming if amusing jump back in time.  It started right out on a page on kitchen know-how.  "Write meal plans for the week."  Well, I felt I could follow that advice--it seemed like solid logic.  Then we started getting into the real differences between 2012 and 1961.  It read, "If you have a freezer, make several cakes, pies, cookies and main dishes or sandwiches at a time and freeze some for future use."  Really?  Several cakes, pies and cookies?  My family is lucky if I make just one of these items once a month. 

Then I was amused by the general life guidance that you wouldn't normally find in a cookbook.  "Refresh your spirits.  Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply makeup and a dash of cologne.   Does wonders for your morale and your family's too."   Makeup before coffee?  In what alternate universe?

"Think pleasant thoughts while working and a chore will become a 'labor of love.'"  I guess that's just another way of thinking positively but, really, what positive thoughts could I have about some chores?  I'm so pleased that I am going to start the day with my husband's dirty underwear and I happily encourage him to wear a clean pair each day.  Three loads of laundry later, wasn't it lovely that my cat vomited on the hardwood floor instead of the rug?  She's always so thoughtful that way.

"Have a hobby.  Garden, paint pictures, look through magazines for home planning ideas, read a good book or attend club meetings.  Be interested and you'll always be interesting."  Yes, I can see how that would make me so much more interesting.  I'll get right on that. 

There is a lot of good information in the book -- how to measure, equivalent weights and measures, substitutions, how to prepare vegetables and garnishes.  At the beginning of each chapter is a page on "historical significance" to quick breads, cakes etc.  It has a charming chapter on menus-- Eisenhowers Enjoy Life on Gettysburg Farm, United Nations Leader Chooses Dinner Favorite of Many Men, Supper Party at Mount Vernon, or Alaskan Salmon Stars in Governor's Menu.  Who knew?

I loved the part about table service.  "The most suitable for the average family--The first course such as fruit juice or soup is on the table when the family is seated.  For a change of pace, you might like to serve this first course in the living room or on the patio."  First course?  Of how many?  I do understand eating in the living room as we enjoy having meals in front of the TV.  As I read on I became aware this might not be what they were referring to.  "When ready for the main course, the meat and potatos are placed in front of the host."  Main course?  Again with the courses.  There is only one course at my house, and I'm lucky if I just get it on the table, let alone in a specific location.

My husband loved the piece about appetizers that I read to him.  "The thoughful wife has a simple beverage (cold in summer, warm in winter) ready for her weary husband when he comes home at night."  My husband's exact quote was, "I think you need to start doing that."

There are many more little tidbits scattered through the book.  Little notes to the reader -- "A good company vegetable (stuffed eggplant)."  "One of the earliest pies (mince)."  "They may not make your hair curl, but they will protect your health (carrots)."  "For a glamorous touch, Mrs. So-and-So adds 1/2 cup brandy (cherries jubilee)."  "The chosen dessert to top off a mountain trout luncheon at that charming, steeped in tradition resort, the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado."


While parts of the book are quite the hoot, I did actually find some recipes that I am going to try--waffles, quick buttermilk rolls, savory meat pie, and Yankee Doodle Macaroni.  Sorry, Betty, I won't be making any of it in my pearls and pumps. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving

It's natural to look around and see the inequities of life.  Someone else always seems to have it easier or better.  I think the reality is far different from this view.  The person we put on our facebook page sure seems to have it together.  We post our best photos, vacations, accomplishments of ourselves or our children.  How often do we see someone say...Well, my life sucks today--had a fight with my significant other, my kid is driving me crazy, I broke everything I touched or I'm sad, lonely and afraid? 

We all go through difficult times whether we broadcast them or not.  I think we should remember that when we are envying a friend. 

This time of year for me is difficult.  Holiday season is always a little lonely since my mother is not with us anymore.  But instead of focusing on that I am going to remember what I'm thankful for --

  • I am still happily married to my best friend after 23 years. 
  • My beautiful child is on his own and I get to watch him become a lovely independent being.  (standing up on his own with struggles we all must face)
  • New friends and old who share their lives with me.
  • Laughter and tears of joy and sorrow, both build a full life.
  • Memories of days gone by and people who've loved me.
  • An unexpected warm day in fall.
  • A sweet cat sitting in my lap on a cold afternoon.

I could go on and on.  My happiness has outweighed the sadness in my life and for that I am grateful. 

To all of you, I wish you joy, happiness and friendship.  All the material possessions we have can never equal those things.  You never know how much time you have with those you love, so enjoy every moment you can. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Small Spaces, More Organizing

It seems like we could all use more room to organize.  How do we create more space to organize?  I was faced with this problem in my small extra bedroom. 

First I put risers under the four posts of my bed.  I worried they would make the bed unstable but surprisingly, they didn't.   I've even gotten on the bed and jumped on it and it remained stable.  It is a tad high so everyone may not like that but I think it's kind of fun.




By adding the risers I can now hide larger, plastic storage bags that now fit under the bed.  I liked this one because not only does it slide easily but the sturdy handle makes it super easy to pull out.   I purchased several so now I can put extra sheets, blankets, and other items in an accessible place, leaving more space in the closet.


 
 
Another storage solution I found in my extra bedroom is these wooden trunks.  In the top one I store my camera and all my charging cords that I need for all my electronics.  In the bottom I store items I don't use often that I don't need to worry about infusing the old smells of the trunk like unused Cd's, a box of buttons and frames not in current use.  The trunks are a cute way to add that badly needed space in an attractive way. 
 
 
 
It may seem like simple ideas (and they are), but any time you can reclaim more storage space in your house, it's a win for the organized home.
 

Friday, November 2, 2012

$ .99 container, so many uses

So, time for another--How many ways can I think of to use. . .



Today, we have a small screw top container from the container store although I have seen them at Michaels and various other places.  I like the screw top because I have trouble occasionally with the dexterity in my hands. 


This idea is obvious and I'm sure it's the first thing everyone thought of.  My omega's are a bit large so I like this size of a container for them to carry with me. 



Pins in my sewing room.


 

A couple of chocolates I can carry in my purse without worrying that they will melt.


I actually carry an empty container with me when I travel so when I have to remove my jewelry it doesn't end up falling behind a dresser or getting lost in my purse. 




I keep a container with some change in my car.  When I go have my hair cut I have to park at a meter and I never seem to have change in my purse. 


I always travel with Epsom salts for soaking minor cuts and bruises. 




Coffee is a huge part of my day and I can't live without my creamer, so if I don't know if someone will provide it I bring it myself. 


 

Perhaps not everyone will like this one but I travel with a small candle.  You never know when you want to create that romantic moment and I think a candle always helps. 

The ideas seem endless really -- cough drops, nails, paper clips, hair binders and even guitar picks.  (I need to thank my husband for the last idea.  He says his picks are always all over the house.) 

You can start your organizing small.  Pick up an inexpensive container and start collecting items that can go together in it.  Every time you see another one during the week you can add it to its new home.  Before long, you'll have one more thing that you know you'll always be able to find!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Letters...A Lost Art

Every time I go out to the mailbox, I am filled with anticipation.  Granted, usually it turns from anticipation to disappointment quickly.  Before I pull down the door I can imagine a letter, note, card, maybe even a package.  Now most of the cards I actually get in the mail for my birthday are from people who are hoping to sell me something. 

I keep a lot of the cards I receive, at least for a period of time.  I have a memory card box I slip them into after displaying for a while in my kitchen.  This way I have a certain sized box that I will go through when it's full and discard the ones I decide not to keep.




 Some letters and notes I've received over the years I have tied a ribbon around and I keep them in a special place to take out and read at intervals; an unexpected letter my father wrote me years ago saying he loved me, a newsy letter from my grandmother, a picture my child drew for me, and a poem my husband gave to me on an anniversary.  These items are worth far more than money and it helps me to remember what is really important.  I wish I'd saved the notes my mother wrote me when I lived in Texas but they are gone.  These are the type of things I regret. 




Sometimes we forget how important those notes we jot down for another are to them.  A sick friend, a lonely grandparent, or a soldier far away from his home.  Geo saved almost all the cards and letters he received while he was gone.  During the first Gulf War (Desert Storm) we weren't connected by computers.  I would send a card or letter nearly every day, and by the time I received Geo's notes to me they were three weeks old.  He would call home around every three weeks so during the interval I had no idea how he was or what was happening.  Fortunately for us the war then wasn't like the present war.  Mostly our forces had the elements more to contend with than the enemy.  Loneliness was a way of life and the only thing I could do for him was to write letters with the small incidentals of my day.  I mostly tried to keep the tone light but I was far from my family as well as not having him with me.  I would write the letters during my lunch break at work or at night right before bed.  It didn't take much time but I knew he didn't have all the comforts of being home around him.  A few meager possessions and then the letters and little gifts from home were all he had. 




I read the other day that people don't write notes or letters anymore.  Email and facebooking is so much faster and easier.  I think we've lost something though--the ability to hold those pieces of paper in our hands and sit quietly for a few moments in a comfortable chair connecting with something someone wrote us about their lives.  So for myself, I am going to continue writing letters to dear friends and send them off in the post.  Hopefully they will be filled with the joy of getting something unexpected in the mailbox.  Take some time to think, is there someone in your life who can no longer get out, someone who needs some encouragement, or just someone you would like to know you are thinking of them?  Ten minutes to write a note would be a great way to spend a few minutes and might mean more to them than you know. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Girls Love Tools Too

I have a confession to make.  One of my favorite stores is...Lowe's.  That's right and it's not just to plan new floors, cabinets or light fixtures.  I love tools.  I go and look through the tool section to plan how best to go about a new project.  I have a lot of female friends and family who feel the same way.  We put up our own pictures, fix furniture, and plan remodels.  Unfortunately, the truth is that I plan way more projects than I do.  Some of it has to do with time, part of it is money, and the other is my ability--but I'm working on the last item.

I think every woman should have her own tool box.  The container she goes to when she needs to fix something or just put up a framed picture.  This is my new case.  The tools are mine and really I don't share.  ("You have your own tools, leave mine alone," is often heard within our walls.) 


 

The following are what I have found to be essential--I opted for the smaller versions because 1) they're easier to use and 2) they're easier to store.  I started with my own screwdriver with multiple bits, a hammer and saw, and a measuring tape.  As I thought of more things to have handy, I added a pencil, super glue, chair pads, hangers, box cutters, and other miscellaneous items that have been needed for various projects.  I store it in a kitchen cupboard to keep it close at hand.

Not only do I like the smaller tools but as I've learned to be more independent I have learned to love and use larger tools as well.  The most important thing I've found is to remember not to be afraid of a tool, but to learn to respect it.  Now I look on it as a great adventure.  We recently put paneling up in our basement and I learned to use a belt sander, cut off saw and a nailer.  When we finished I was filled with a satisfying sense of accomplishment. 


 
 
One of my most recent purchases was an electric stapler which I used to refurbish my dining room chairs.  They were black for about 20 years.  Now they are freshened up with bright new colors.  I think they really turned out great.  The new stapler was so easy to use it made a daunting project seem like fun.  


 
 I just finished redecorating my extra bedroom, and now I can add to my resume the use of a power drill, cordless screwdriver and stud finder ("Don't tell me what I can't do!").  I'll show you the result in a future blog.  
 
 
I'm not sure what's next on my list but whatever I come up with, I hope I get a new tool!!
 
 
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Organizer Six Different Ways

I found this organizer and decided to see how many ways I could use it.   I spent the afternoon going from room to room trying to find things to fill it with. 


 
 
Sewing Room -
 


 
 

 
Office -
 
 
Bathroom - 
 
 
Bathroom - Make up 
 
 
 
Bedroom Jewelry -
 
 
 
Displaying a Collection -
 
 
 
It's such a pretty way to organize or display many items.  You can add as many of the additional boxes as you need.  The possibilities are endless...
 
 
 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christmas Organizing

There are only 88 days until Christmas!!  This thought may induce panic, nostalgia, joy, or dread.  For me it's joy.  I love Christmas.  I love decorating, snowy days, wrapping presents and picking a present I think is perfect for someone I love.

I used to dread Christmas -- the fuss, the bills, the planning--but then I found a way to make all that easier. 

I started what I call my Christmas box.  In it I have the cards I received from the year before, thank you's, stamps, extra envelopes, a few gift cards in envelopes, a pen and a book to take notes in.   The box I picked is attractive so when I have it out all season it is pretty as well as functional.




The book I keep in my box is a blank hard backed book and it helps me to stay organized and have a record to look back on in following years.  I put tabs along the side to earmark the year.  The first pages under each year are a record of all the presents I purchase and the prices I paid for the items.  This way I have a budget for the following year and I can keep from duplicating gifts.  I can divide the total by number of paychecks in the year and save a certain amount each month.  By Christmas time I can pay for the items I want and don't have to dread the January bills! 




On the next pages I write out a list of individuals I send Christmas cards to.  This way I remember all my friends and I know how many cards to purchase for the present year.  I go through all the cards I received the previous year to again enjoy any messages I received. 

I display my cards in various ways but the most recent is to hang them in my living room from a ribboned streamer.  This way I can enjoy them and think of all my loved ones through the season. 




It's never too early or too late to start planning for Christmas.  Happy Holidays Friends!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pantry Redo...Finding more space

Although I love the size of my kitchen, my pantry really leaves a lot to be desired.  Tiny and cramped, I'm always piling things in front of other items I need and soon it becomes a jumbled mess.  Tired of trying to find my supplies to cook with, I recently decided to carve out another space to add to my storage capability. 

My pantry in the kitchen;



Looking through my back closet, right off my kitchen-- I realized that half the closet should be ample space to hang coats for just two adults.  Unfortunately, one of those adults are consumed by coat mania, so an intervention needed to be performed before I could move on with my organizing.  After Geo intervened I cut back my collection and put some coats in the goodwill pile. 

Before the redo--


 

I added a shelving unit that I already owned, placed a tray and boards across the metal wiring and viola --  Extra pantry. 

 

I decided this would be a great time to go through all my dry goods and cans and use up whatever was old.  (I did use some of the expired items.  My father, who grew up in a time where you waste nothing,  insists the dates on cans are only put there to make you throw everything out and buy more.)

Being the decanting Queen, I put everything I could in pretty containers that I have been collecting for quite some time.  No need to do it all at once.  Every time I visit The Container Store I have a list of items I would like to decant next. 


 

I know these aren't revolutionary ideas but I hope it inspires you to try new ways to organize, making your spaces into someplace where you want to spend time.  After all, we all have to make dinner sometime.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Books, Books, Books Part Two

As promised, this blog is about some of my favorite male authors.  The first author is from one of my favorite genres--mysteries.  Many of you have probably read the books of Dick Francis.  My mother introduced me to his books years ago.  Unlike the other mysteries I have read these are set in the horse racing world.  It's not a world I saw myself being drawn in to but surprisingly I love all the details about the races, the horses and the other aspects of racing life.  I started with his book Banker but another more recent book that is a good first read is To The Hilt. 


 

A softer, gentler mystery series is Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  I found it difficult to get through the first half of the book but then really loved it thereafter.  Once you get used to the voice of the narrative and cadence of the writing you will be hooked.  This set was made into a TV series so you might not be new to the name but if you haven't read these, give them a try.  The common sense and morality in this series is something the world could use more of. 


 

I never thought to find a book about the Civil War riveting, so I was pleasantly surprised when someone encouraged me to read The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara.  His fictional account of Gettysburg was written based on historical documents.  It brings to life the battle and men of this event.  I felt like these men were my relations, and the senselessness of war is heartrending.  Afterward his son Jeff Shaara went on to write amazing prequels and sequels to the series, as well as chronicling other wars.  I believe these ought to be required reading in high school.




My husband has introduced me to the science fiction/fantasy genre.  These are books I would never have picked because I didn't think I liked either genre.  However, I decided to give it a try and the first fantasy book I read was by Terry Brooks.  This experience has opened up a different, amazing world of books to me.  The novel Magic Kingdom For Sale Sold is a fun, magical ride into a world of fairy and magic.  Who wouldn't buy a Kingdom if you could afford the $1,000,000. price tag?  I was very fortunate to meet Terry Brooks this evening, and he is a warm, gracious, and funny person.



The Science Fiction author I started with was the master, Isaac Asimov.  The Robot Series is actually a series of mysteries although the setting is the future where space colonization is a reality.  A lead detective with his Robot partner is an exciting change to the familiar formula.  I, Robot, the movie, was an imagining from Asimov's robot short stories.  If you liked the movie, you'll love the robot novels, beginning with The Caves of Steel. 






 
 
I believe it's really good for a person to move out of a genre they read a lot and try something they aren't sure they will like.  It gives you a different perspective and makes you think differently.  I hope you give these authors a try and enjoy them!
 
Next week, I'll tell you all about my recent pantry redo.  It involved a few bruises but you always need to remember organizing can be dangerous.