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Saturday, June 25, 2016

One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me preview this book. It is a good one.

Publication Date: September 1, 2016

One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: StoriesOne-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories by Dustin M Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn't normally a book I would have picked up, but I'm loving it. Short stories about working-class men that are bittersweet and memorable. The prose flows with rhythm and is filled with strong metaphors, imagery and interesting descriptions. These are stories about men (and a couple of women) who want to provide for themselves and their loved ones, no matter what the work requires of them. So many people and jobs that you don't think about on a regular basis, telling their stories and sharing their lives between the pages of this book.

Icecream Dream was one of my favorite stories from the book. One of the quotes from the story... "Life is full of lemon givers, and a smart man takes his fate and makes more than just complacent lemonade."

Lots of good reading.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Forgetting Time

The Forgetting TimeThe Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. I would actually probably give it 4.5 stars because of the concept. I read it straight through, in just a few hours. I've always been interested in the idea of reincarnation. I also have a beast nugget of a grandchild (with his own set of quirks) who used to tell us that he had another family before... so it touched me on a deeper level.

It is ultimately a story about wanting to understand ourselves and others. How we connect, how we move in and out of people's lives, how we love and how we search for meaning. And then it is also a story about motherhood. What it means to feel the overwhelming love for a child, and how we deal with uncertainty and loss that can be unimaginable.

The writing was smooth, and the story unfolded in a way that kept pulling you forward, wanting to know more.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Sweet Tooth

This week, I was lucky enough to get two new/upcoming cookbooks to review from NetGalley. Both were intended for baking.

The first, Cake Magic! was an amazing book filled with tons of eye candy and pages that had me drooling over almost every image and description. I gave the book 5 stars because I wanted to drop everything and immediately start baking.

While there are only eight cake recipes in the book, there are enough creative variations and exquisite flavor combinations to keep you in cake for weeks and years to come. There are cakes, syrups and frostings galore! If you can't find several amazing ideas for cake in this book, you are crazy.

I absolutely love the idea of using a syrup to kick up the flavors in a cake. It is an added surprise that goes a long way to make the cake atypical. Not only does it add flavor, but it adds moisture, which is so important to me when I'm eating a piece of cake. Who wants a dry, uninteresting dessert? When compared to a boring, store-bought cake, these are easy recipes will floor friends and loved ones when they taste one of your creations.

My daughter is a bake for a casino, and I can't wait to wow her with the cakes I'm going to be making with this book.

This also has a simple make-ahead mix that you can make and have on hand for the times when a cake is needed. Perfect!


The second book, Sweetness, is a great 4 star book if you are in the mood for some good ol' fashion comfort food.

It goes beyond cakes to cover cookies, cobblers, pies, puddings and more. There are so many recipes that bring back Americana and old family memories. I'm not from the South, but a lot of recipes are familiar and seem easy to whip up.

The Cookie Jar section had to be my favorite, although there were other recipes like funnel cake, pound cake in a jar, and cream cheese divinity that definitely caught my eye and were bookmarked for later baking/making. This book would make a great selection or even a gift for anyone who likes to indulge their sweet tooth on occasion.

Now I'm totally hungry and thinking about baking something sweet to eat.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Oh, To Be Popular

I think it is interesting that we may hear a lot of buzz about a particular book. We may see it mentioned in several different places as a "must read" for the summer. We may end up on a huge waiting list at the library if we can practice patience and not rush to buy it as soon as possible. And then the time comes... to finally settle in and start reading. Does the popularity of the book carry through? Do we ever feel disappointed after reading it?

I had mixed feelings about The Nest. That is one of the books that has been hyped everywhere I look. I was on two different library waiting lists. One of them, I'm number 48 out of at least 96 other requests. But I happened to be *in* the library the other day, and The Nest was proudly standing stock still in the "Lucky Day" section. I snatched it up, brought it home, and started reading as soon as I could. The writing was fine, and the characters have a lot of different personality quirks and interests. I kept getting this nagging feeling that it was sort of a typical Manhattan-family story about a group of family members who are plagued by wealth or the lack thereof. Each of the family members has a different relationship to money and the importance/influence it has on their life. They have all sort of been in a holding pattern, waiting to see the day when they'd get their inheritance. It felt like even though they were adults, none of them had fully grown up. The stories in the book seemed like they took a long time to unfurl. There were a lot of characters and interactions between them. But then, the last forty or so pages, everything just sort of wraps up in a tidy ending... but the action is lost, and there is just telling about each character as the book comes to a close. It put me in mind of a movie or tv show where the last couple of minutes is a montage that has fast forwarded and showed how everyone ended up. So I felt a little bit disappointed. I ended up feeling like I wanted more or that the ending was sort of an easy out or the novel would have dragged on for awhile longer. The climax of the book just wasn't really there for me or felt a little shallow. It was a good quick summer read, but ultimately, I felt disappointed.

On the flip side, I read a book from NetGalley, called The Summer That Melted Everything. I had heard no hype about this book. I hadn't seen any reviews of it or even heard of the title before. But after reading the description, I thought it sounded mildly entertaining. I almost expected it to be humorous. But wow... was I wrong. This was a powerful book, so beautifully written, that is made me wish I could have written it. The language is dreamy and there is a certain rhythm to the words and phrases that adds to that feeling. It is mesmerizing, and it is definitely a book that will stay with me for a very long time. The characters are odd and have quirks like others in a small community, but the writing, scenes and situations are rich and almost have a mysterious/mystical quality to them. Unlike a shallow motivation surrounding money, this book deals with unbelievable tragedy in unusual ways.

Both books have a character coming to terms with being gay. Both have tragedy/loss, but The Nest sort of glosses over it like it isn't as important as the family coming to terms with their ideas of betrayal and financial hardship. The Summer That Melted Everything deals with a lot of darkness and pain, and you feel every bit of it.

Obviously The Summer That Melted Everything isn't a typical mainstream novel, but it is a shame that it won't be seen that way. It should receive the hype and the popularity and have people wait-listing to get it at the library.

Get the book as soon as its released. Read it. Savor it. Cry in the parts that will make you cry. Feel the rage. Let the book carry you on its emotional tidal wave. Let it become part of you. You won't regret it.

Monday, May 30, 2016

May Reading Round-up

May was a busy month of reading. I keep finding books that just beg to be added to my pile. Juggling library books, books on Kindle, and reading at NetGalley, I'm well ahead of my reading goal for the year.

In May, I read some really great books that were extremely diverse.






This is a book filled with designs that are examples of stunning simplicity. The first section is filled with monochrome projects. The line design is creative and filled with so much style. The second part of the book is multi-colored designs. Again, the combination of design and color is really stunning and eye-catching. There is really something for everyone.

The rest of the book is filled with templates, instructions, and patterns that make it look easy enough for beginning embroiderers, but still creative enough for the more-skilled makers.

As I flipped through the projects, I found myself flipping faster and faster to see all of the wonderful designs/projects. I was torn because I wanted to savor every image and plan how I'd tackle each project (and who I'd give the gifts to), but on the other hand, I wanted to get to the end of the book so I could drop everything and immediately start.

This is a book I will use over and over. I can already imagine so many projects coming from between these pages.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

May Scrapping

This was a busy month for all things scrap-related. Part of that is International National Scrapbook Day... the Superbowl of holidays for scrappers. I honestly feel like the luckiest person ever to be able to work with some of the most amazing designers on a regular basis. They are all so talented and create so many wonderful products, it is a creative joy every week!

Here's what I was up to this month. 




Friday, April 29, 2016

Project Life -- Still loving it

I'm so in love with Jaimee's Storyteller 2016: May collection, I just had to share. I am not typically a fan of yellow, but this was just too much fun, and I hope to use this collection again and again.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April Reading

Lately, I've been on a reading jag. It started with the trip to Paris. I was able to read (somewhat uninterrupted) for a few hours, and it was nice to get through some of the books on my to-be-read list. I picked a couple of easier books to get through since I was sitting with a 6-year-old ADHD nugget.


This is one of the recent books. I found myself surprised at how similar this character was to me in many ways. In one instance, she reflects the very same attitude I've espoused about meeting my biological father/family. It felt a little eerie. But it was a quick read and enjoyable. Who doesn't love a little romance now and then? But it was more interesting to read about the relationship between the two women (the main character and the ex) and I was pleased that it ended the way that it did. Maybe a little trite, but pleasant anyway.




Friday, April 08, 2016

More Project Life

I've been slowly getting my pages done. I'm still keeping track of weekly events/happenings, but I'm not working in the "present" time (for some reason), and am working mostly on 2014 and 2015. I started my 2016 in the app, but only have the cover done so far. Being on creative teams makes it simpler to go back in time than to scrap ahead/current.

I can't imagine ever being "caught up," but I was excited because I had the first quarter of 2014 printed in a 8x8 Shutterfly book. Now I'm trying to get the remaining weeks of the second quarter finished, so I can print that as well. I've got several weeks done, but there are gaps in between.

Here are some of the pages I've been working on recently.

This set of Disney pages used Sahlin Studios and Britt-ish Designs' Project Mouse Classic Bundle.





Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Project Life Continues

It is the middle of April, and I have about a million things on my to-do list. At one point, I wasn't even keeping a list because the thought of putting most of it down on paper was overwhelming. But I bit the bullet and started a list so I could try to better manage my time.

I'm also going to try to get into the habit of using a planner. Miss Tiina has a great planner (and un-planner) at The Digital Press. Wishing Well Creations also has a terrific planner for Project Life pages. So I think I need to start using those as well. I've been documenting everything my three-year old composition book, but I don't plan out, per se, just do some bullet listing of what happened each day.

I'm not "keeping up" with my Project Life albums. Yes, albums, because I'm still in-progress on 2013, 2014 & 2015. LOL. But I am still enjoying the process and spending less time on embellishing. I think a simpler look/page makes things go quicker for me. Another thing that I am finding is that Project Life makes me appreciate and love my life more because I'm documenting all of the little things. I did a blog post about it here at The Digital Press.

So I'm working on two different sets of pages today. But here are the latest pages I've done. I'm sharing along with Day to Day Design's linkup.
Storyteller Collection 2015 | Raine by Just Jaimee

Storyteller Collection 2015 | Raine by Just Jaimee