Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year, My VTT Friends!

Happy New Year, and Happy Vintage Thingies Thursday! I hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful week of family time, and maybe even some relaxing time. This week I have vintage New Year's greetings, and winter cards with quotes. You may want to copy them to use for your card making or scrapbooking.

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~ Hal Borland

A happy New Year! Grant that I,
may bring no tear to any eye.
When this New Year in time shall end
let it be said I've played the friend,
have lived and loved and labored here,
and made of it a happy year.~ Edgar Guest

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson
For more vintage goodness be sure to visit Suzanne @ ColoradoLady, our Vintage Thingies Thursday hostess.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I had resisted reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova for the past two years, mostly because I wasn't interested in what I thought would be a vampire story. It's a weird situation, in that I've checked it out of the library several times, but never opened it once I got it home. Recently, Hachette sent me Kostova's second novel,The Swan Thieves, which I will be reviewing in January, and I LOVED it. That made me re-think The Historian, and I'm glad I went back and got it from my library. It was incredibly interesting, adventurous, and even had a little romance.
The story spans two generations researching the truths behind Vlad Tepes, known through history as Dracula, son of the dragon. Throughout the research process the characters travel from Oxford University, to Boston, and all over the Balkans, as well as Amsterdam and France. Throughout their travels, Helen, Paul, and his daughter, who is never named, meet many librarians, historians, and archivists who help them in their quest. Holding them back is the bureaucracy of Communist governments during the Cold War, and the disappearance and murders of people who have given them assistance.

They also are being watched by a mysterious man dressed all in black, with extremely pale skin. The book is narrated from several points of view, through letters and journals, and a little straight narration from the daughter, who opens and closes the tale.The Historian definitely was not a vampire story, more of a research and adventure story, although there are a few possible vampire sitings. It would be a good one for spending your Christmas book store gift certificates!
Did you know that Vlad Tepes is considered the original Evil Overlord? Don't worry, I don't put the bodies of my enemies on stakes around my castle!

One World, One Heart

I am planning on participating in the One World One Heart Blog Giveaway Tour again this year. It's a wonderful concept brought to life by Lisa @ The Whimsical Bohemian in 2007. The idea is for blogging artisans around the world to meet and enjoy each other's creations.
You don't have to be an artist or have an etsy shop to participate, just be interested in meeting great people around the world, and maybe win a nifty item or two. Last year I gave away 2 books with earrings that coordinated to the stories and met several artists who I now consider good blogging friends. I also won 5 of the giveaways I entered! WOO HOO! All of the information about participating is available at Lisa's Whimsical Bohemian blog.  Be sure to come back on January 25 to see what I'll be giving away!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mailbox Monday: End of 2009

It's Monday, the day to share What We're Reading with J. Kaye and what books have arrived at our homes with Marcia @ The Printed Page. Only one book arrived this week. Get Luckyby Katherine Center came from Ballantine Books as part of a TLC Book Tour, in which I will participate in April. Here is what Publisher's Weekly has to say about Get Lucky: In her light third novel, Center (Everyone Is Beautiful) tackles sisterhood, but falls just short of poignancy. Sarah Harper is on the New York fast track at a top advertising agency until she grows a conscience overnight and sends out a company-wide e-mail debunking her popular bra campaign. Fired, she flies home to Houston, where she crashes with her older sister, Mackie, and Mackie’s husband, Clive. Turns out Mackie has problems of her own: after years of trying to have a baby, she announces she’s done. In an effort to do something good for a change, Sarah offers herself up as a surrogate. In the nine pregnant months that follow, Sarah juggles unexpected feelings for her brother-in-law and expected feelings for an ex-boyfriend, and instead of the pregnancy bringing her and Mackie closer, it drives them apart. Witty dialogue and likable characters keep the pages turning, but Center glosses over the depth of emotion inherent in carrying your sister’s baby to the point that you forget at times that Sarah is pregnant. It’s a fun, breezy book, but it doesn’t try to get to the heart of the matter.

I got 2 more library books this week, Envy by Anna Godberson, which is the third book in the Luxe series, and Black Hills, the latest from Nora Roberts. I began reading Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods, but put it down because I was so eager to start The Borgia Brideby Jeanne Kalogridis. which I really enjoyed. It was fascinating to me that of all the horrible behaviors in the book attributed to various members of the Borgia family, the most disgustingly outrageous were true and the ones speculated upon by the author were much lesser crimes against nature and the laws of man. Now I'm reading another good historical fiction from the library,Portrait of an Unknown Womanby Vanora Bennett, and then I'll go back to Flowers on Main.
Visit J. Kaye's Book Blog to find out what other people are reading this week, and The Printed Page to see what arrived in folks' mailboxes. I always find great books to add to my To Be Read list.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Re-Cap

Although most of my Christmas photos came out lousy, I thought I'd give a little recap of the last two days with the family of the Evil Overlord. One word: LOUD Although you can't hear me, I'm sure the way I write comes through as loud and chatty, as are all of the Overlord family. As well as the Overlord in-laws Luckily the maximum number of people together at any one time was 12, or I might have had a breakdown. Because I live alone and don't leave the house much, I really notice crowd noises these days, even though I am not a quiet person myself!
On Christmas Eve we went to the early children's mass and saw the pageant. This year they even had some older girls who danced!  After church we went to Kathleen's house where David cooked our traditional Christmas eve meal of bacon and egg sandwiches, each made to order. My sandwich of two hard fried eggs, super-crisp bacon and a little mayo was perfection!

Because it drives Kathleen nuts when I take strange pictures for the blog, I am showing you my sandwich. It's one of the 3 Christmas pictures I took that came out any good! What does your family think when you take these kind of wacky pictures?

To end the evening, the princess read us The Night Before Christmas from the vintage 1953 book that once belonged to my dad.

On Christmas Day my parents and aunt came to my house for breakfast and we exchanged gifts.

I gave my mom a gourd bird feeder that I custom ordered months ago, and my dad a silhouette of a steam engine from Mountainbrook, an etsy shop that does handmade decorative wood. He is a huge train collector.

For Aunt Kakee I had a silver winter bird tassel that I made. She loves things that are shiny and sparkly, just like me. Guess how old she is...86! Doesn't she look amazing?! If you want to guess how old my mom is, I'll give you a hint. I'm 42. Leave your guess in the comments and we'll see who comes closest.

Just for fun, here is one of the many Christmas pictures of me that didn't come out good. As a matter of fact, I think I look a little psycho! I was posing with all the kids for a picture, not just sitting there unaware of being photographed, which would explain why I look so wacky. We all went over to Kathleen's around noon, along with her in-laws for a day of grazing on appetizers and desserts. Everyone was so tired and worn out I was home by 4:00 and took a 2 hour nap! The day after Christmas the out of town guests hit the road at 10:30 and I relaxed with coffee and my mom's awesome coffee cake before coming upstairs to do bloggy business!
I hope you all had pleasant Christmases with your families. Mine was wonderful, like it always is.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vintage Christmas Girls

Christmas Eve and Vintage Thingies Thursday have come together for the first time! I don't know how many people are out making the VTT rounds this week, but you know I never miss a VTT. Here are some pictures of Kathleen and me in our Christmas finery over the years.

My second Christmas, 1968. For my first Christmas both my dad and I had horrible gross colds. Since he is the primary photographer, there are very few pictures from that year.

1969, Kathleen's first Christmas. Check out her adorable velvet booties! She is sitting in my little girl rocker. She got her own for Christmas that year, in black with the colonial tole painting like mine. I vividly remember the dress I am wearing with the embroidery down the front. Even though it was an itchy rayon, probably the dangerous kind that would melt in a fire, I was a little sad the next year when it was too small for me.
1974 we received our Chrissy and Kerry dolls. Remember, they're the ones who's hair would grow? I am wear a dress our mom made. It was a nice heavy wool, but wearing a blouse under it would always ride up and be annoying. I wonder why I never thought to tuck it into my underpants?

1975 was our first Christmas with a pet, Duster. He looks much bigger in this picture than he was. Notice we are both wearing store-bought melt-able rayon dresses with Peter Pan collars, but Kathleen has the cute smocking.
So that's a retrospective of a few of our Christmas outfits over the years. This year I will be wearing yoga pants and a Christmas sweatshirt that I made. Did you have snazzy Christmas clothes when you were a child? What do you wear now?
I hope you have the time to visit Suzanne @ ColoradoLady, our Vintage Thingies Thursday hostess. She and the other participants will have all sorts of great vintage Christmas things, I'm sure.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Packages Playing Soccer

Every autumn my niece participates in a Halloween soccer tournament with each team dressing up and playing in their costumes. This year my sister, their costume designer, decided on Christmas presents. Using those enormous plastic gift bags that are similar to trash bags, she just had to cut arm and head holes and add some bows. The girls all had bows to wear in their hair, also. Notice that Santa and a Christmas tree are their coaches!

They won the costume contest, as well as the tournament; WOO HOO! But, and I don't think this is fair, since they won the tournament the medals for best costumes were given to the 2nd place costume winners, who also happened to be the 2nd place game winners. It wasn't even done to just make the 2nd place team feel better, because it was announced at the little awards ceremony. How lame-o is that?!
I hope everyone is enjoying the final countdown to Christmas! I am at the doctor today, having my final appointment of 2009. Tonight my big Christmas groceries order will be delivered and I will clean and be ready for the guests on Thursday.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lots from the Library

It's Monday, the day to share What We're Reading with J. Kaye and what books have arrived at our homes with Marcia @ The Printed Page. The mailbox slowed down last week, at least in the arrival of books. I have been getting packages of things I ordered for Christmas gifts. I also received my Book Blogger Secret Santa package!  My super Secret Santa, Amanda from The Blog Jar, sent me a copy of The Bell Jar, some tea, and a beautiful jeweled bookmark.
Since all of my ARCs are not scheduled for release until February or March, I was able to get library books last week and dig into my TBR. I have these four left to read.
The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis
House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods
Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett

I finished four library books this past week, and enjoyed all of them.
Rumors by Anna Godbersen is the second in the Luxe series, kind of a Gossip Girl at the turn of the 20th century. A quick and fun read.
Falling Out of Fashion by Karen Yampolsky is a fun read, and a look into the magazine publishing industry. A first novel written by a woman who spent many years as the right-hand to Jane Pratt, it is the story about the birth and death of a woman's magazine, and the life of the woman who founds it.

The Ruby Ring by Diane Haeger is historical fiction inspired by a painting by Raffael called La Fornarina (The Baker's Daughter). It's a passionate story of the love between Rafael and Margherita Luti, the baker's daughter who inspires his paintings of the Madonna. Full of intrigue in the Vatican of Pope Leo X, it is a vivid story of Roman life on many level in the early 16th century.
The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews is the story of a city girl who loses her job and takes on her father's suggestion of fixing up an old family home he has just inherited. I've just started this book, but I know it will be funny, like all of Andrews' books. So far Dempsey has arrived in the small town of and has found the house to be more than a quick fixer-upper, and a crazy old woman is squatting there, refusing to leave.

To see what others are reading or anticipate reading, visit J. Kaye's Book Blog for What Are You Reading On Monday and The Printed Page for Mailbox Monday. You're sure to find lots of great suggestions!


New Author Challenge 2010

I am going to participated in the New Authors Challenge sponsored by Literary Escapism again this year.  I did well in 2009 with this one because of all the great new authors introduced to me with the advance copies I received from Hachette Publishing Group. For 2010 I have added the Mystery and Suspense Challenge, and the Historical Fiction challenge. Hopefully I will have enough overlap to read 25 authors that are new to me and fit into these other categories! I will list my new authors here as I finish their books.
  1. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (January 15)
  2. Get Lucky by Katherine Center (January 27)
  3. Young Bess by Margaret Irwin
  4. The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
  5. The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
  6. The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (February 11)
  7. O'Juliet by Robin Maxwell (February 12)
  8. Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet (February 15) 
  9. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen (February 20)
  10. Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran (February 22)
  11. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (February 24)
  12. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen (March 2)
  13. Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs (March 4)
  14. Beautiful People (March 7)
  15. The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax (March 12) 
  16. Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch (March 19)
  17. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross (March 30) 
  18. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (April 8)
  19. The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski (April 11)
  20. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (April 17)
  21. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (April 27)
  22. The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Walace (April 30)
  23. The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Patillo (May 7)
  24. The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri (May 12)
  25. Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs (May 12)


ARC Reading Challenge 2010

I am participating in the ARC (Advance Reader Copy) Reading Challenge sponsored by Teddy Rose at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time. Participants are asked to choose a level anticipating how many books will be read. I am going to go for the silver and say 24 or fewer. I read more than 50 in 2009, but I am also anticipating returning to work (yay!) and then won't have enough time. I can always move up to gold level if I reach that far!

I will list my ARCs here as I finish them, and link to my reviews.
  1. The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham January 2
  2. They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer January 7
  3. The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halzey  January 18
  4. Get Lucky by Katherine Center January 27
  5. Life Sentences by Laura Lippman January 29
  6. Young Bess by Margaret Irwin January 20
  7. The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles February 11
  8. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen February 20
  9. Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran February 22
  10. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen (March 2)
  11. Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs (March 4)
  12. Beautiful People by Wendy Holden (March 7)
  13. The Dark Rose by Cynthia Harrod Eagles (March 18)
  14. Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch (March 19)
  15. Farm Fatale by Wendy Holden (March 23)
  16. The Exodus Quest by Will Adams (April 4) 
  17. Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell (April 22)
  18. Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne (April 25)
  19. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (April 27)
  20. Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs (May 12) 
  21. For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick (June 1) 
  22. What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen (June 24)
  23. She's Gone Country by Jane Porter (August 1)
  24. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand (August 12)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sweet Tradition

For this last Pink Saturday before Christmas, I'd like to share my nativity set. My mother bought this for herself in the late 1950s. I love it because I haven't seen some of the elements in other nativities. It has a great feather tree and the angels are made of a tulle wrapped around wire. The shepherd is attached to his camel with a reign made of hemp, and there is a woman honoring baby Jesus who is not Mary. I've only ever seen shepherds and kings, so I think she's a neat element. The set is in pristine condition except for a small chip in the baby's manger. You will notice that the woman is wearing a pink dress under her blue robes and one of the kings has a light rose gown under a turquoise robe. And of course most of the figurines have rosy pink cheeks!

As children we had a grand time setting up the nativity. My mother always put out a golden sand-colored tablecloth on top of the hope chest in the dining room to represent the desert. We'd set up the barn and animals right after Thanksgiving, hide Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus behind the barn, and set up the Kings and the shepherds far away, maybe on the hutch or the plant stand. Every day the shepherds would be moved closer. Mary and Joseph came out on Christmas Eve, and Jesus joined them Christmas morning.  Then it ws the Kings' turn, moving closer each day until Epiphany, or the Feast of Three Kings, on January 6.
Here's a little something that many people don't know. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on December 25 and end on January 6.
I wish everyone who celebrates a wonderful Christmas! Be sure to visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for all of the Pink Saturday participants sharing a Christmas tradition with their pink goodies today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Velvety Soft Visit from St. Nick

Only one more Christmas Vintage Thingies Thursday after this week. I wonder what Suzanne and the other participants will be sharing today. Be sure to visit ColoradoLady to see all the goodies!

Those of you who have known me since last Christmas might be surprised with this one. I have ANOTHER vintage Night Before Christmas book. It's getting a little ridiculous how many of these keep popping up in the homes of my immediate family! This one belongs to my sister, Kathleen.

This version actually has a little mystery to it. Last year I shared a 1935 version that my father grew up with, published by Whitman Publishers and illustrated by Keith Ward, famous for creating the Dick & Jane characters. On Christmas Eve we always read Kathleen's vintage Night Before Christmas, that she has had for many years now, that we always were told had been my dad's as a child.

However, upon looking at it carefully last year, it was published in 1954, when he was over 20 years old. So how could that be? The 1954 edition has always been stored carefully with striped red and green gift wrap sort of around it, and part of the family legend has been that it was the paper the book was wrapped in when my dad received it as a child.

Then the questioning began. My poor dad! He couldn't remember either one really, or the story behind which was purchased when. It was finally determined that the 1935 version was his as a child. When he left home during the Korean War, my Aunt Kakee moved all the family things to a smaller apartment and threw tons of stuff out. When my dad returned home, the book couldn't be found and it was assumed that it had been tossed.The 1954 version must have been purchased  as a replacement.

I think the gift wrap is because Kakee bought it for him as a gift. So that's the new story, and I think we'll stick to it.

The book I showed you last year had kind of a creepy looking father, and this one, illustrated by Louise W. Meyers has a child-like father, which is creepy in a different way. The thing both Kathleen and I loved about this book growing up was that all the red is velvet. You can see it really well if you enlarge the pictures.

For those who are interested, here are last year's postings of A Night Before Christmas:
Have a wonderful weekend before Christmas and I hope you will be back next Thursday for a Christmas Eve Vintage Thingies Thursday with our hostess Suzanne @ ColoradoLady. Please stop by and see what she and the other participants are showing off this week.

Support Your Local Library Challenge 2010

I am going to participate in J. Kaye's Support Your Local Library Challenge again in 2010. My goal will be 50 books, because I surpassed my goal of 25 for 2009. I'm a little concerned that I won't make it because I am getting so many ARCs from publishers, but going for 25 would be undershooting.

If you'd like to participate in the Local Library Challenge, the guidelines are pretty easy. It can be any genre or book format, as long as it gets checked out of the library.
I'll list the books I finish here as I read them, and link to any reviews that I write.
  1. House and Home by Kathleen McCleary (January 3)
  2. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (January 13) (audio book)
  3. Dark Harbor by David Hosp (January 15) (audio book)
  4. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
  5. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (January 31) (audio book)
  6. The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin  (February 2) (audio book)
  7. Innocence by David Hosp (February 7) (audio book) 
  8. Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton (February 4) 
  9. Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet (February 15) 
  10. To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell (February 16) 
  11. The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax (March 12)
  12. The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl (March 12)
  13. The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper (March 14)
  14. I Victoria by Cynthia Harrod Eagles (March 28)
  15. The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod Eagles (March 25) 
  16. The Oak Apple by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (April 2)
  17. The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (April 7)
  18. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (April 8)
  19. The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinsky
  20. The Black Pearl by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (April 24)
  21. Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy (April 19)
  22. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (April 14)
  23. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig (April 21)
  24. Light on Lucrezia by Jean Plaidy (May 3)
  25. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allan (May 5)
  26. The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Patillo (May 7)
  27. Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper (May 10)
  28. The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri (May 12)
  29. Beautiful Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (May 15)
  30. The Agency by Y.S. Lee (May 15)
  31. Girls' Poker Night by Jill Davis (May 16)
  32. Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker (May 17)
  33. Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde (May 22)
  34. Inside the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Brown (May 26)
  35. U is For Undertow by Sue Grafton (May 31)
  36. The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser (May 27)
  37. The Devil’s Queen by Jean Kalogridis (May 27) (audio book)
  38. The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth (June 7)
  39. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (June 7)
  40. Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (audio)(June 8)
  41. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (June 8)
  42. Stealing Lumby by Gail R. Fraser (June 10)
  43. Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge (June 10)
  44. Wedding Season by Katie Fforde (June 12)
  45. The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble (June 12)
  46. The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King (June 15)
  47. Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton (June 16)
  48. Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer (June 25)
  49. Point of Honour by Madelein Robins (June 26)
  50. Petty Treason by Madeline Robins (July 13)
  51. Lumby's Bounty by Gail R. Fraser (July 5)
  52. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon K. Penman (July 11)
  53. Goodnight Irene by Jan Burke (July 4)
  54. Desert Noir by Betty Webb (July 7)