Wednesday, December 31, 2014

100 books read in 2014!

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy New Year that is filled with many blessings for you and your families.
I was so happy to complete my reading goal of 100 books. Many of them were audio this year but that still counts in my book :)
I will be back with a list of my 5 star favorites for the year. Goodreads makes it so easy to see exactly what you read and what you rated it. Going for another 100 in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


It's been a few years since I have displayed my Snowbabies. The lights look so pretty with the rest of the lights in the room turned off. I can't stop decorating! I will probably still be going right up until Christmas Eve :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snowman White Tree

This is this year's tree for my stamp room, a white tree all decorated in snowmen. Much prettier in person!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our living room tree

Just finished up the living room tree! One more big one to go and then I may call it quits on the decorating. I still need to run a few more strands of outdoor lights around the roof line if it ever stops pouring.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I have been caught up in such a wave of nostalgia lately and have been seeking out some items from childhood Christmases that have always stayed with me. I think it is that I am still missing my Dad so much and it is so much harder that he is gone from our cherished holidays together. I will never forget receiving this Bewitched Samantha doll one morning in the 1960's. We didn't have very much money at all and there were 6 of us, but my parents always sought out the one thing that was really special to us and have it under the tree. The doll pictured here was not my original one, I don't know what became of all of our childhood treasures, they were probably left behind when we moved in 1971. This came from ebay, will have to keep looking for Sam's matching hat :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Second holiday tree complete!

My kitchen tree is filled with bakery related items- gingerbread people, cupcakes, and various other sweets. I added some realistic looking gumdrop ornaments since I took this picture. Rocket is on the case in the second picture, checking out the gingerbread lady to see if she poses any threat to the family :) 

First Tree

Vintage retro aluminum pompom tree with a color wheel. Talk about a blast from the past! We had one of these back in the 1960's and begged our Dad for a real one instead. The color wheel made it slightly more interesting to look at, but not after the first couple of years. I picked this one up on ebay about 10 years ago and this is the first time I have displayed it. The ornaments are Shiny Brite vintage ones as well. Here's to you Dad, miss the good old days and family Christmases.


Jim has just started work at Google, here he is in his Noogle beanie at training in Mountainview, Ca. We came out here to Washington for his work at Microsoft, and he was there for 14 years. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about MS and will always be very grateful to them for the beautiful life that they have provided for us here. The Bellevue/Redmond Wa. area has to be one of the most fabulous places to live in this great country of ours. Even with all of the rain, I am not sure where I would rather be. Well okay, maybe a beach house on the coast of North or South Carolina...
Here is to Google! Looking forward to our time with you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rocket and a review

How can you not fall in love with that sweet little face? This dog has completely captivated all of our hearts. He is affectionate, so intelligent, playful, and well behaved. A total delight is our Rocket :)

The Richest Season by Mary McFadden was a very enjoyable read, four stars.
Joanna is an empty nester, a corporate wife, and a very lonely housewife. Her husband's job as a successful salesman has had them uprooted too many times to count, and he gives all of his time to his career. Joanna finally decides that this is not the life she had in mind for herself and heads down to Pawley's Island, South Carolina, where she becomes the live in assistant of an older woman with a terminal illness. Her husband Paul's life is suddenly and drastically altered and he has more time to come to some understanding of what life has been like for his wife for the past couple of decades. Is it too late for a fresh start since Joanna has begun building a new life and relationships far from him? You can feel for all of the characters here. Somehow people just lose touch with the ones who should matter most to them while they are pursuing what they think should be making them happy or successful, when what really counts has been right there for them the whole time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two of my current favorite Cookbooks

I have a serious addiction to collecting cookbooks and loose recipes. If I live to be 100 I could never make a dent in the accumulated collection. The two cookbooks shown here are my faves du jour. The Back in the Day Bakery has the best baked goods recipes you will ever find. Somehow I missed this little gem of a shop when I was in Savannah but that won't happen again. Everything in this book is just old-fashioned, down home goodness. I only have made some of these things for special occasions since they are somewhat decadent. Nothing low-fat this or light that, we are talking full on splurge and worry about the calories tomorrow.

On a healthier note, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone is phenomenal. Especially the Peach, Tomato, and Burrata Salad. Nothing terribly fancy in this book, just a lot of recipes that you will want to add to your daily menu. Delicious and good for you is a pretty awesome combination!    

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Awesome Amish Baked Oatmeal

This was SO awesome! I found the recipe on Pinterest and followed the link to
Mostly Homemade Mom's blog for the recipe. Try it and see!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Going Bananas

I had an abundance of overly ripe bananas and had to make something with them quick. A use it or lose it situation. The recipe in the back of the cooling rack was fairly gross so I won't share it. The second one uses this delicious recipe which I changed just a bit to make it a whoopee pie instead of a cookie. The frosting was softened butter, vanilla, salt and enough powdered sugar to make it not too toothache sweet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry starts with a grieving and grouchy bookstore owner on a Northeastern island. He lives alone above the book shop where books are his only company. This all changes when a 2 year old girl is left in his shop with a note from her mother begging A.J. to care for her. The mother is found washed up on the beach and Fikry adopts little Maya. His life changes considerably when he finds that his heart is open to loving again and he falls for a publisher's agent. This work taps on the love many of us book lovers have for the feel and smell of a book in our hands, the joy and feeling of being where we are incredibly happy and at home while in a bookstore, and how reluctant we are to cede all of that to e-readers and online book giants. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Happy National Waffle Day!

Today is officially National Waffle Day but Billy has waffles (or the occasional pancake) every day. This was a yummy and very basic waffle recipe from my trusty King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook. The recipe calls for 2 large eggs, 1 3/4c. buttermilk, 2 tsp. vanilla extract for the wet. Dry ingredients are 2c.unbleached AP flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt and an optional 1/2c pecan meal (I used almond flour)  and of course a waffle iron!
I buttered these and ground some cinnamon sugar (from Trader Joe's and very handy to have around) and some powdered sugar. You can leave all that off if you don't like the sweet.

American Idol concert

We went to see the American Idol concert last night at Marymoor Park, Redmond. This was my mother's day present from Jim and Billy.  The show was pretty good, not fabulous, and was the last stop in their tour. Not a really great production value with the big screen in the background showing the same scenes and commercials repeatedly and a recorded music track. Some of the kids sounded and performed much better than they did on the actual tv show, I guess it is easier when the pressure is off. I thought Alex Preston was excellent. What a talented guy. I was expecting a lot more from Caleb, the season's winner, but basically he was just in the last couple of songs, for the ending of the show.
The weather was perfect for this event, such a beautiful, clear and comfortable night.   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was 5 star fabulous. Centered around three very different mothers of kindergarten children in Pirriwee Public School in Australia. There is a dead parent from the school that is cleverly referred to throughout the book in a series of interviews relating to the goings on at the school that led up to this death. So who is it and who did it?
 I felt that I have met most of these ladies in my own school related interactions. There were many really funny lines and lots of heartbreaking situations that kept you caring about what happens to everyone, even the ones you didn't think you cared for all along. I really could not put this book down and I miss Madeline, Cecilia, and Jane already.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two stinkers

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, otherwise known as J.K. Rowling. It is astonishing to me that Rowling could have written such an amazing series of Harry Potter books and then delivered this for the adults. Her detective Cormoran Strike is a wounded veteran from Afghanistan, really down on his luck and not faring so well in the business and romance departments. He takes a case from the brother of a famous supermodel who was believed to have committed suicide by jumping from her balcony. What follows is a series of meandering interviews and an endless parade of characters that you could really care less about, and they never seem to shut up. I thought this book was an absolute torture and will not continue the journey with the rest of the Strike series. Life is too short and these books are way too long.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel. The cover of the book is representative of the polished, perfect lives that NASA expected from the wives of the astronauts. They were real, everyday women with the same issues that all of the other housewives from the 1960's experienced for the most part but they had to portray a sense of well balanced, devoted, All American wifely support to help promote the space race and sell the whole package to the American people. The book does give a little bit of the feel of the 60's, how it was an ever changing world and touched on how the women's movement was gaining voice. It's a shame that the author did not make you feel too much for any one of the ladies in particular. There was such a constant stream of different women, what they were wearing, what kind of house they lived in, etc. It was hard for me to differentiate one from the other after a while. As superficial as the book cover really.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gilner Goose Cookie Jar

I found this cool cookie jar at a yard sale today along with some beautiful milk glass pieces. This is a Gilner, from the 1950's.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mr. Mercedes and The Book of You

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King- A retired homicide detective tries to solve one last case to close his personal book. "Mr. Mercedes" mowed down a group of innocent and unsuspecting folks waiting in line at a job fair, just for kicks. Detective Hodges wants to nail this guy without going through the proper police channels. He is aided by an unlikely duo who put themselves at great risk to help their friend stop this psychopath before he kills again, his last act to be one with massive casualties.
A riveting read! 4 stars
Clarissa has drawn the unwanted attentions of an obsessed stalker. Suspenseful and well written but I found the ending a bit unsatisfactory. 
4 stars

We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy in IMAX and 3d. Totally enjoyably awesome! Excellent 3d effects made it worth the extra $$ and the large screen was fabulously immersive. A Marvel-lous cast of characters with lots of genuinely funny lines and plenty of action. I look forward to the next installment in this series. I always love the little cameos of Stan Lee, very Hitchcockian.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Boys in the Boat

An excellent, 5 star read. The story of the rowing crew from the University of Washington and their journey to the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Berlin. I loved the history of local (to me) Seattle during the Great Depression.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Daring Ladies of Lowell

The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott, 4 stars.
The ladies of Lowell, Massachusetts work in a cotton mill in the 1830's. They have left one life of hardship on their rural farms to try and find a way for themselves in the world as independent earners, but life in the mills presents a whole new world of dangers. Alice Barrow becomes the voice of the workers and falls in love with the mill owner's son. Can these two class crossed loves find a way to be together in a society that deliberately keeps them in their respective places? Can the downtrodden find a voice to help them in their quest for humane working conditions? A murder in this mill community brings all of the issues to the front of the public conscious. Kate Alcott does an excellent job of portraying this period in history with characters that you can really care about.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July Reading List

1. I have had the hardest time this month coming up with a really great summer read. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle received such critical acclaim and was Oprah's Book Club selection and I thought it was an absolute torture. A modern day Hamlet that went on for what seemed like forever with a very unsatisfactory finish. Two stars only because there were some parts that were captivating and beautifully written in the beginning of the book.

2. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline was another 2 star bore. Heard lots of great things about this one also but felt it did not deliver. The history of the orphan trains is fascinating but this one did not stir much feeling in me. Sorry.

3. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich- 2 stars. Okay, Janet. Please make it stop. There was nothing in the latest Stephanie Plum novel to distinguish it from the previous twenty. I keep saying that I am never going to read another one of these so I need to stick with that promise. Kind of like potato chips, it seems good while you are going through them, then after it's done you're like "what did I do that for?" 

4 A Short Guide to a Long Life by David Agus *** Lots of tips for a healthier daily lifestyle. Most of the ideas are common sense 101 but it is always good to get a gentle reminder to get back on track if you feel you have strayed some.

5. The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki **** Highly enjoyable historical fiction about Peggy Shippen, the wife of Benedict Arnold. We all know what happened with him.

6. Somerset by Leila Meachum 2-3 stars- An incredibly tiresome prequel to Roses (which I loved). The narrator had a whimpering, simpering Texas drawled treatment of the reading that made it even more difficult to enjoy.

7. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer 1-2 stars. Okay, enough with the Dystopian stories already. Especially ones that have no point whatsoever.

8. Pearl Harbor by Steven Gillon **** Behind the scenes account of what went down in the White House during the event and how FDR handled our entry into WWII. Very interesting and made more so to me since we just visited Pearl Harbor a couple of months ago.

9. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman 4 stars. Excellent feel for the history of Coney Island, NY and the "freak shows" that were such draws on the Boardwalk during that period. The characters were well portrayed, it was incredibly sad how they were seen as animals with little or no sense or feelings.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


This is our new family member, Rocket Man. Rocket is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, 8 months old. He won first place in his category today at a dog show in Skagit County, we brought him home right after the show. Love how he walks, he is so low to the ground with big basset hound paws. And of course the ears- well, they just won us over completely. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Busy Week

Father's Day celebration, dinner with Jim's Mom on Saturday.

June 18th was a really tough one, the anniversary of my Dad's passing. It is so hard to believe a whole year has gone by without him. I miss him so very much.

June 20th was a happy day with a new addition to the family, little Steven Ray Hillesheim born to Laura and Steve. My new Great Nephew was 8 1/2 pounds and 21", the same exact numbers as my niece Laura. Pictures coming soon!

We went to see Porgy and Bess at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle. Jim and I liked it, Billy not so much. It was the operatic treatment of it and not the musical ballad like the movie. The cast was very good but the audio in this theater is really not that great. The vocals are almost impossible to understand, the same was true with Les Miserables when we saw that. It helped that I knew every single word of Les Miz before I saw it, otherwise I would have been totally lost. Orchestra was fabulous and clear.

Billy started his first job this week at Lincoln Square Cinema. This is a pic of him in the lobby out front on the first day of orientation.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

This is the first Father's Day without my beloved Dad and Billy's Poppy. I miss him every single day and still want to pick up the phone and call him. Love you so much, Dad. Thank you for everything.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mock Orange and Desie

I love the blooms on the double mock orange shrub, now in all of it's glory. Just gorgeous!
Desie is  here exploring her new yard. She got caught up in the ferns and looked at me like "now what?" Very funny.

Friday, June 13, 2014


It has been so long since I have posted here. I am going to make a concerted effort to keep this blog updated even if no one reads it but me :)
I've read so many books since my last visit and I'll try to post a brief review of most of them in the coming weeks. I am more than half way through my goal of 100 books for 2014, many of them are audiobooks and I always seem to have earphones sprouting from my head lately.

The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy is one I just finished about a week ago. Out of the thousands of books I've read The Prince of Tides was in my top five favorites and maybe occupied the number one spot. Read it twice as a matter of fact. The relationship between Pat Conroy and his father Don, The Great Santini, was a very complicated one. I think what made some of the works of Conroy so amazing were products of the pain and horrible situations from his childhood that apparently he was never really able to get over. So sad that the first 18 years of your life can so negatively affect the next 50 or so years. I hope that this book was a catharsis for him and he can finally lay to rest the pain that he feels was caused by his Dad, who by the end of the book I really came to love. May heaven "stand by for a fighter pilot".  I can only say that I am so thankful that I read The Prince of Tides before reading this otherwise I may have come away with a totally different feeling. I think at some point in your life you have to forgive and move on, or you just risk causing your own pain. The ugly seems to continue with the acerbic banter that passes for conversation between the Conroy siblings. They really can't blame this on the Dad, it seems as if in many ways they practice the same behavior they found so reprehensible in their father. Move on peeps, and be kind to each other.
3 star rating. (out of 5)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

3 reviews

A lighthearted story about a computer tech, Lincoln, who's job is to monitor and read flagged company e-mails. He becomes fascinated with the back and forth between Jennifer and Beth and sees their communiques as too endearing to be turned in for further action. He finds himself falling in love with Beth even though he has never seen her. How does he ever have a chance with her in real life after this invasion of privacy?
A fun yet shallow story of a different sort of office romance. 3 stars.

Blockade Billy and Morality by Stephen King. I am not generally a fan of short stories since I never feel as if the story or characters are successfully developed enough for me to really care about. These were fair, I liked Morality a bit better than the baseball story. 3 stars.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. A classic, written in 1953 about a futuristic world where people are basically managed by the government. The firemen have the job of burning all books, no one is permitted to own any or really have independent thoughts or strong opinions. A bit chilling in some ways as I see so many parallels in our society today. Anything slightly offensive, no matter how mild or ridiculous, was not allowed in this dystopian world. Eventually nothing was okay and everyone was to be the same so there would be no conflict. The story holds up after five decades and I would highly recommend it. 4 stars.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year! May the year ahead bring many beautiful blessings to you and your family. I have not made any grand resolutions this year, I just am going to try and live each day a little better than the one before. Little goals are so much easier for me. I've begun a daily written journal to see where I may have room for improvements.

We just got back from the second part of The Hobbit (in 3D). I loved it and was so immersed in Middle Earth, it felt weird walking out of the theater in broad daylight. I read this book back in 1973 and read it about 3 more times after that. One of my favorites of all time and I think they did a pretty respectable job on screen.

The book pictured above I just finished and really enjoyed. This House Is Haunted by John Boyne takes place in the late 1800's in the London area. A governess takes on a new job to care for two children in a very haunted house where the spirit of their dead mother tries to kill anyone that gets near her children. A bit of a mix of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen's styles with a strong heroine and a very well paced plot. Four stars (out of 5).