Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Independence Day

I love dressing up for holidays, and July 4th is no exception. After 9/11 when patriotic furvor was so high, we were having dress-up days at the school where I teach quite frequently. Around Thanksgiving of that year I stumbled upon this pretty pin in a second hand store.
It isn't missing any jewels, and I paid $2.00 for it! From the little research I did, I believe it is from the 1960s. It seems to be a replica of a pin Jackie Kennedy wore, and thousands of copies were made of it.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't share some vintage postcards with a patriotic theme!I don't think many people these days know the song mentioned on this card, but I remember singing it in elementary school.
This pictures takes me back to my childhood, making newspaper hats with my dad. Not for the 4th or anything, just for fun. Then we would paint them with out watercolors. Maybe we only did the painting part once, I'm not sure, but it's definitely a memory that's strong in me.
For more vintage goodies you can visit Suzanne @ ColoradoLady, our Vintage Thingies Thursday hostess.
Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Farm Fatale by Wendy Holden

Wendy Holden has done it again! With Farm Fatale: A Comedy of Country Manorsshe had me cracking up as well as worrying about her heroine Rosie, and her semi-unfocused life. Illustrator Rosie lives in London with her boyfriend Mark, an ambitious reporter. Desperately wanting to move to a country village, Rosie is able to pull her plan together when Mark is given the opportunity to write his own column. They will find a country cottage and Mark will write about their experiences as Londoners learning the country way of life. A cottage built in 1649 with an overgrown garden becomes their home, surrounded by quirky yet friendly neighbors and visited daily by the nosiest postman in England. Rosie adapts well to their new home, bringing the garden back to life, finding the perfect illustrating job to complete in her rural world, and making friends all over Eight Mile Bottom. Mark is having a more difficult adjustment, unable to find topics worthy of his column, holing up in the cottage, and worrying about the criticisms of his editor.
Rosie and Mark grow apart, and Rosie grows close with a local farmer while Mark begins questioning the wisdom of staying in the countryside. A large social occasion in the village brings their relationship to a head, and in the days following Rosie and Mark begin building their separate lives.Farm Fatale is filled with funny characters and situations, including a wanna-be starlet and the local publican, who runs the village hen races.  Wendy Holden gives us more thoughtful moments as Rosie contemplates jumping from one relationship to another, and she learns that the person the world sees is often not the person one is inside. I greatly enjoyed Wendy Holden's Farm Fatale, and would love another story about all the interesting characters of Eight Mile Bottom. I can't recommend this book more as a great example of fun, summer time beach reading!
I've linked this review to Cym Lowell's Book Review Party where you can learn about many more great books for reading this summer!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson

Students of English literature learn of poet Rupert Brooke through his famous works The Old Vicarage, Grantchester (1912) and The Soldier (1914), written on his way to war. Brooke never made it to the battlefield, dying of sepsis from a mosquito bite, on a French hospital ship in the Aegean Sea in 1915, yet he is considered the first of the famous WWI poets. Dying at the age of 27, Brooke led an adventurous life from the South Seas to North America, leaving trails of heartbroken women, and some say men, in his wake. Jill Dawson's The Great Lover covers a period of about five years in Brooke's life, beginning in 1909 when he rents rooms in the Orchard, a popular tea house that takes in boarders, mostly students from nearby Cambridge University.
The story opens in 1982 when elderly Nell Golightly receives a letter from a stranger in Tahiti. The letter has been addressed to anyone living who might know of events at the Orchard when Rupert Brooke was a resident, and has been passed on to Nell because she was a young housemaid there at the time. The author of the letter claims to possibly be the natural daughter of Rupert Brooke, conceived during his visit there in 1914. Because her mother did not know Brooke for long, she did not have many stories to tell her daughter, and all she wants now is to get to know him through others before she dies.
Thus begin Nell's stories of her memories of Brooke, sharing her feelings as a girl from the mind of a woman who has experienced the world. A sensible seventeen year-old, she has taken the job of housemaid at the Orchard to bring in money for her five younger siblings now that both of their parents are gone. The world of philosophizing university students waxing poetical over their ale and lounging about for hours is totally foreign to Nell, and she begins to fall under the spell of the dashingly romantic Mr. Brooke.The Great Loveris known for his publicized romance with the actress Catherine Nesbitt, and engagement to Noel Olivier, but could this man of the world have loved a housemaid, and was he even capable of love at all?
Told from the points of view of both Nell and Brooke,The Great Loveris interesting historical fiction that gives a perspective on the daily life and possible thoughts of man often in the limelight during his lifetime.
Many other bloggers are sharing their thoughts on The Great Lover through a TLC Book Tour. Sit down and have a relaxing drink while reading more about this fascinating man who lived several lifetimes in less than 30 years.
You can also find other great books being reviewed at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Introducing...New England Bloggers

The New England Bloggers are celebrating the beginning of summer with a blog carnival introducing our readers to someone who is a New England Blogger. The link-up to everyone's posts is at the bottom. I hope you get a chance to visit some and maybe make a new bloggy friend. I thought I'd share two with you.
I'd like to introduce you to Kelly from This Vermont Life. Kelly lives in a rural area, although I think there are many people who consider all of Vermont rural, and has some hilarious comments about the mud she experienced back in March. She wrote a wonderfully funny poem about mud, but her son's song is the best of all, and his shoes show his love of this gift from nature!  The Gift of Mud
Cindi is a NEB with THREE blogs! Her most recent, Great Finds and Giveaways, just launched last week. You'll definitely want to visit her to try and win a Keurig B60 Special Edition coffee maker! If I don't win it, I sure hope one of my readers does.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Featured Blogger: Beaded Tail

My EtsyBloggers colleague, Sharla, of Beaded Tail, makes beaded jewelry for animal lovers, with a portion of all her sales going to support animal awareness causes such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Human Society of America.
A little bit of animal print is just right whether you're getting dressed or decorating a room. The mascot of the school where I teach is a jaguar, so I will probably be scooping these earrings up for myself, even though they're technically leopard. Ha! She has tiger stripes, lions, and all sorts of other animals; think what a great gift this would be for your child's teacher or someone who attends a school with one of these animals as a mascot.
Don't you just want to take a cuddly puppy like this home? Or at least the silver and wood bead earrings?
Got a big yard? How about a panda? Or maybe just some fun earrings to help everyone remember our endangered friends.
This gorgeous pink cat's-eye bracelet has a delicate paw-print awareness charm.
When you visit Beaded Tail, you'll notice that all of the jewelry is not animal specific, and the workmanship on Sharla's jewelry is exquisite; just look at the delicate swirls of silver on her multi-colored polymer clay earrings.
Sharla even makes something for your dog or cat! A little ruff that fits over their collar; how cute!
My "nephew" Cooper, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel needs to be sporting one of these; much more unique than a bandanna!
Thank you, Beaded Tail, for giving us an etsy shop that lets us show our love of all animals, and contributes to making their lives better at the same time!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Happening!

Every week the EtsyBloggers Team has a carnival with the theme suggested by a member. This week, Rainy Day Art has asked us to write about an accomplishment or goal reached. I am going to share with you a long story that will lead up to a goal I have had since September 28, 2006.
I haven't written about my health lately, so if you are a newer visitor, you can read all about my Cancer Journey in these older posts. Here's a quick re-cap, and a picture of me with my donor's bone marrow cells. After a bone marrow transplant a patient no longer has an immune system. This has to be rebuilt, just as it is in a newborn child. Even all of the standard childhood vaccines have to be given again. Something that delays this process is the side effect of certain medications which halts the growth of the immune system. So for almost 4 years, any small germ, could have become a catastrophic illness for me, and larger ones could have killed me.
Being a teacher has been my passion since I was a small child, so being unable to work, and the possibility that I would never teach again has haunted me more than any fears of long-term chronic illness or even death. Children are major germ carriers, so a school is no place for a bone marrow patient. Long-time readers know how I love to teach something in my Vintage Thingies Thursday posts!
For these 4 years, my world has shrunk to my townhouse, where I live alone, the television, and the internet. I have friends and family who would come by, but I pretty much went nowhere except to the doctor every two weeks. Side effects from the transplant and various medications caused me to be on oxygen, develop cataracts, have constant shaky hands/feet, and my face became a giant prednisone pumpkin-head. I was even using the motorized carts if I absolutely had to go to a store. (The picture above was taken November 2008, 18 months ago.) Almost everything I bought was online, including groceries and prescriptions. However, in the last 9 months my world has become larger. I have the strength to do my own errands, I can see to drive and read, my hands no longer shake, and I am able to breathe so that I can actually walk and talk at the same time! (That's not a joke.) You may even notice that I do not post as often, nor do I get to all my blog visiting, because I'm out in the real world. I have even returned to working, two days a week at the school department's central office.
I still take 29 pills a day, 2 liquid doses, and 2 injections, but I have not used my oxygen tank for 2 months! And, because of the breathing problems I've lost over 100 pounds in the last 18 months!
To the world I look fabulous, a new woman with a slightly pumpkin-face, but inside I am still vulnerable to any germ out there, until I get my full round of vaccines this autumn. My mom took this picture 3 weeks ago.
September 28, 2006 was the last day I was in a classroom. Since I was 4 years old, I have only missed 4 "first day of school". I am excited, nervous, and thrilled to announce that September 1, 2010 will be my 36th First Day of School!! Maybe I'll even take a dorky picture with my lunchbox to share with all of you! So, thank you Rainy Day Art, for choosing  a topic for this week's EtsyBloggers Team carnival that fits perfectly into my life right now!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vintage Father's Day

From the title, I bet you're not certain if I'm writing about my vintage father or a vintage gift! Vintage Thingies Thursday is falling very close to Father's Day, and I won't be seeing my dad, the famous hoarder, from whom I get most of my VTT treasures. I thought I would share something fun, and taunt my dad at the same time. This week's items DID NOT come from his basement. They came from my friend Paul's basement! He wanted me to give them to my father, but I didn't! HA!
My dad used to collect McDonald's Happy Meal toys. When the toys all started being part of movie promotions he pretty much stopped, unless it's something really special. Remember the Inspector Gadget where all the small toys could be put together to make Inspector Gadget? That was a really good one. Dad prefers the McDonald's-themed toys, such as the McNuggets that come with Halloween costumes that can come off. So this batch of stuff is a gold mine, and I don't think he owns any of these. They are all transformer-type foods, manufactured from 1987-1990.
No trip to McD's is complete without a shake. I'm a big Shamrock Shake fan.
You might like to start your day with an egg McMuffin, which looks a little gray and unappetizing to me. I've never been a Big Mac fan, they always fall apart on me. But, I can still sing the Big Mac jingle!
Many people like to debate which fast food fries are the best. Personally, I'm a Wendy's gal, but there isn't a Wendy's convenient to my home.
Remember the Styrofoam boxes that the big sandwiches used to come in?
McNuggets were introduced when I was in high school.
And you can finish it all off with a cone! If you've never tried it, their hot fudge sundaes are excellent. Very thick, chocolate-y fudge!
I know my mom will bring my father over to the computer so he can see this post. He's probably laughing and complaining that I didn't give him the toys, and thinking about running down to the infamous basement to see if he has any of these. He'll be riled up all day reminiscing about the good toys and telling my mother all about them.
Have a great Father's Day weekend, and be sure to visit all of the other Vintage Thingies Thursday participants that are listed at ColoradoLady!
For those who are too young, or who have forgotten, here's the Big Mac commercial!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne

The first book I ever reviewed for a publisher was The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne. It was a wonderfully sweet story that I greatly enjoyed, so I was thrilled to be asked to review his most recent novel, Sweet Misfortune, the story of chocolatier Sofie Jones.
The trauma of losing her parents at the age of nine has followed Sophie into adulthood, where she has extreme difficulty trusting people, preferring to be alone rather than be hurt if someone leaves her. She spends most of her time with her best friend, Evalynn, with whom she was raised by their foster mother Ellen. But things begin to look up as Sophie opens her heart to Garrett, and the two plan a life together. When Garrett calls off their marriage just days before the wedding, Sophie retreats again into her solitary world, pouring all of her time and effort into Chocolat' du Soph, inventing wonderful confections, including the wildly popular Misfortune Cookies, a beautiful, bitter chocolate cookie filled with a handwritten misfortune such as, “You will soon fall in love. Caution: when people fall, something usually breaks.”
When Garrett walks into Chocolat' du Soph a year later wanting to talk to Sophie, she puts him off by setting him the task of finding 100 people who can describe true happiness. If he is successful she will meet with him and listen to what he has to say. A local news station hears about Garrett's ad in the Seattle Times, and letters start pouring in, but few meet Sophie's standard of true happiness. However, one letter in particular touches her, and sets Sophie off on a quest to find the sender, which opens many doors in her heart, as well as to information about the tragic accident that took her parents and grandmother.
Sweet Misfortune attempts to answer the question, "Are coincidences really fate in disguise?" as Sofie finds many connections to the tragedy of her ninth birthday, and comes to realize that an accident is just that, accidental, a series of unfortunate actions which, when put together, bring about a horrible outcome for all involved. I definitely recommend Sweet Misfortune to everyone who enjoys a story of hope and redemption, with a nice serving of chocolate on the side!
FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than an uncorrected Advance Reader Copy of the book.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Life After Yes: a Review

What happens the day after the wedding? Aidan Donnelley Rowley tries to answer that question in her debut novel, Life After Yes.
From the Publisher: This is the story of Quinn—born Prudence Quinn O'Malley—a confused young Manhattan attorney who loses her father on that tragic September morning that changed everything. Now, at an existential crossroads in her life, Quinn must confront impossible questions about commitment and career, love and loss. Her idealistic beau desperately wants a wedding, and whisks her away to Paris just to propose. But then Quinn has a dream featuring judges and handcuffs and Nietzsche and Britney . . . and far too many grooms. Suddenly, her future isn't so clear. Quinn's world has become a minefield of men—some living, some gone, and traversing it safely is going to take a lot more than numerous glasses of pinot grigio.
While everything around Quinn seems to be perfect, inside she is still struggling with the recent death of her father on September 11, 2001. As a New Yorker, she has been touched both as a daughter and an individual, and the impact of those events have left her questioning every decision she's ever made.
Quinn's an associate in a great law firm, starting to realize that this may not be the career for her. If this choice wasn't right, who's to say that her choice of dress, wedding menu, or even husband will be right? Throughout Quinn's story, the idea of prudence, the name given to her by her parents, follows Quinn in every decision she makes.With an atypical ending in which Quinn begins to realize that some endings blur into beginnings, readers are left to wonder exactly where Quinn will end up in both her career and personal life, but we know she learned to use prudence in her decision-making.
Aidan and Life After Yesare touring the blog world courtesy of TLC Book Tours. Next stop: Book Club Classics! Get to know Aidan and her wonderful family on her very funny blog, Ivy League Insecurities, or become her friend on Facebook!
More great books are being shared this week at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party!
FTC Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review, other than an uncorrected Advance Reader Copy of the book.