Friday, April 30, 2010

Where I've been

Since I blogged 10 days ago, I . . .

Was completely celebrated on my birthday, which deserves a post all its own, but suffice it to say, my husband and kids really put together a fantastic family dinner including cleaning the house and even decorations.

Had dinner with Kathy.

Watched Up In the Air on DVD.

Officially retired and cleaned out the office. I emptied all the file cabinets and boxed up files. Cleaned out the desk, took all the cutesy cards off the bulletin board, gathered up the fun-colored post-its and my favorite pens, and moved all my stuff upstairs to the loft where my new desk is. Then I vacuumed and dusted and prepared the old office for its new occupant, my husband, who will have the place all to himself, as it should be.

Found a new desk on clearance at Target, for a steal.

Found a loveseat for the master bedroom for an even bigger steal.

Cleaned my son's room and found enough spare change under his bed to treat myself to Starbuck's.

Shopped with my 13-year-old daughter. It's amazing how my sense of fashion has suddenly improved. She couldn't get over how many cute outfits I kept bringing into the dressing room. The same things I've been trying to get her to wear for the past two years. You know, style basics like collars and buttons and belts and things that fit. Instead of sweats and her brother's t-shirts. "Mom," she exclaimed, "You're finding the cutest things!" There is a God. He's at Kohl's.

Watched lots of baseball. Watched it rain, snow, rain, snow and games were canceled. So, this week there are five games in five days, including makeup games.

Went to the eye doctor. Gave up on progressive lenses and ordered bifocals.

Realized the dogs trampled or dug up all the Columbines I planted last spring. Argh!

Provided 30 meals for 5 people.

Went for walks five out of the last five days!

Missed blogging and visiting all of my favorite blogs! So nice to be back:)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Raining cats and dogs

It's bad enough that I have two wet dogs at my feet right now. I can't imagine how an entire sky full of them would smell. (Phew).

Abby & Lilly

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday musings

April19, 2010
Feeling: Content
Hearing: Dream Walkin' (Toby Keith)
Outside today . . . blue skies, warm temps, trees are starting to bud. There's a crew of guys working in the back yard, rearranging our sprinkler system. The puppy is going nuts because she wants to be out there "playing" with them.

Around the house. . . looks like a Frat house on Monday morning, after a party weekend. OMG. We had a busy weekend.

Baseball . . . will be a regular part of our lives from now until September. On Saturday, we went to Luke's game, where he was the closing pitcher and we lost the game because of a horrible call that gave the opposing team a walk in run in the bottom of the ninth. (Note to my brother: No, this is not the observation of a disgruntled parent, it was a baaad call!) However, Luke is over it, so I guess I should be, too.

Last week, Luke and I saw the Rockies beat the Mets in extra innings at Coors Field. (Much to Luke's dismay. How it is that a native Colorado boy became such a devoted Mets fan, is beyond all of us.)

The puppy. . . is growing leaps and bounds. She would like nothing more than to be "helping" the guys on the sprinkler system right now, just like she "helps" Dan build the deck (I need to get a picture up soon, but right now it's still a bunch of boards.)

What's cookin'. . . Yesterday, I made another round of meals, from this cookbook. It's where I cook for half a day and get enough meals to get us through a few weeks. This time, however, I had a sous-chef, who did most of the chopping and prep, and made four quarts of spaghetti sauce all on her own. I wish I had a picture of Emily, chopping half a dozen onions, tears streaming down her cheeks!

I am now counting the days until I'm "retired" . . . I figure I'll have everything wrapped up at the end of the week. And then I can get back to working my "other job" full time. When I told Em that this morning, she asked, "What job is that?" "Taking care of you goofnuts," I replied. "Well, you'll never retire from that," she said.

I am reading...Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

On the calendar this week. . . Dan is in Columbus for the week. I miss him already:( I need to make an appointment for the eye doctor for myself. My reading glasses have become a permanent fixture on the top of my head. And I still can't find them when I need them.

I'm looking forward to . . . my birthday on Saturday;) I don't care for the getting older part, but I do love birthdays!

Quote for the Day:
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
~Samuel Ullman

Monday, April 12, 2010

Creepage

If it weren't for book giveaways, I wouldn't have many posts here at the Backyard Fence the past couple weeks. It has been c-r-a-z-y busy in our household and I'm not sure why.

It might be that I'm closing up my business of 10 years.

It could be that baseball season has started which means three games a week (the last one requiring a one hour drive each way) and nightly practices for my son. Shopping for cleats for son and daughter -- she'll start softball in a couple weeks -- because heaven forbid that their feet should stay the same size from one season to the next.

It could have something to do with the new deck and screened-in porch going up in the back of our house, so that every.waking.nonworking.moment there is the sound of saws and screwguns and hammering.

Maybe it's because I'm so far behind with my desk work that I answer the phone, "Hello, it's in the mail."

It could be that the laundry is taking over our house. It makes its through the wash cycle, dryer and into a basket, and from there it gets waylaid before reaching its final destination, and is strewn throughout the house. My husband's term for this is 'creepage.' As in, "we have creepage" when my shoes start spilling over to his side of the closet or when sports equipment or one of my projects works its way over to his side of the garage. Creepage is when things start crawling out of their places, usually in the middle of the night or when no one is looking.

That must be what's happening to my blogging time. Creepage. Too many things are creeping in, leaving me little time for things like blogging, finishing books that I've started, painting my toenails and -- I really feel bad about this one -- cleaning my house.

I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, I'll blog my way through as best I can. In the meantime, to all of my readers -- all 10 of you -- thanks for putting up with me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Secret Sisters

I just finished the most delightful, amusing and entertaining book by Tristi Pinkston.

In Secret Sisters, Tristi introduces us to the character of Ida Mae Babbit, president of the Omni 2nd Ward Relief Society. Ida Mae and her lively cohorts, the other ladies in the Relief Society, learn about a family who is struggling and needs help, but won't reach out to others. So, the ladies with their very big hearts and good intentions, set out to get to the bottom of things. With the help of Ida Mae's nephew, they set up an elaborate spy network with cameras and bugs, in an attempt to find out what is going on in the life of the little family with a big secret.

I enjoyed this book on so many levels. First, it has been a long time since I've read a hardback book of this size, which fits nicely in my hand and reminds me of the Nancy Drew books I read as a child. (And that alone makes me giddy, knowing that Ida Mae's adventures won't end here and I'm in for a delightful series!) But other than the fun, light mystery and the compelling characters, the similarities end there. Woven into the hilarious story are messages for young moms and more experienced moms alike, about how to use our gifts and how to recognize our limitations and ask for help if we need it. It would make a wonderful gift, along with a new mug and a box of tea, for a stressed out mom!

Tristi's books are always a treat and I'm guaranteed a good read. This is the first fiction/mystery of Tristi's that I've read. She's an accomplished writer of historical fiction and those will continue to be among my favorite books. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, but this light and amusing story provided me with an enjoyable few hours. I'm glad for the chance to review it and be a part of the Blog Tour for such a charming and refreshing read.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This and that

Just poppin' in to announce the latest winner of the book giveaway, give you a weather report and a weekend update. I'm so busy, still closing up shop, that I thought about taking a blogging break. But, then I thought 'Naah.'

So. . . the winner of the book giveaway for An Absence So Great, by Jane Kirkpatrick is. . . (drumroll) . . . Renna, at Finding My Knitch! Renna and Sherri, I just mailed both of your books this morning. Just got back from the post office not 20 minutes ago! So, you should have them within a week. Enjoy!

This morning, we woke to the sound of thunder, which is a bit unusual for early April. It was booming far in the distance, so cozy to be warm in bed, listening to it rolling in. Then, the hail started. It poured for a good 10 to 15 minutes. An hour later, I drove Em to school and much of it had melted on the streets, but the grass and gardens look like they've been frosted with icing.

On Sunday, we spent the day with my brother, Mark, and his wife Jenny. They live in the mountains, and it's always a treat for us to visit them. There's always something different to do, boating in the summer, snowmobiling or skiing in the winter. On Sunday, my aunt rode up with us, and we celebrated my niece Elsa's, 17th birthday. We were served a feast with the main course being pheasant fixed a variety of ways -- barbequed, stuffed in chilis, wrapped in bacon, swimming in cream sauce. Delicious does not even begin to describe it!

We took Lilly with us, at Mark's request, and we were lucky to bring her home again. She loved romping with his dogs, two German short-haired pointers named Sam and Jake. And Mark loved her, thinking she would make a fine addition to his pack of hunting dogs, and graciously offered to keep her. Actually, he pleaded with me to keep her.

But, of course, I said, "No!"

She was one tired puppy after all that play, and slept peacefully, all the way home, on Auntie Ann's lap:)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another Book Giveaway!

I am snowed under in paper work this week, as I am working hard to close my business. But, I just have to pop in and tell you about my next book giveaway!

I am loving this book! I'd like nothing better than to put work aside and get lost in it. As it is, I've only made it about halfway through.

From the publisher:
While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.

I'm enjoying Jessie's story on so many levels. So much is happening in 1910 America, not just the advent of the industrial revolution which is changing lifestyles at a rapid pace, but in women's lives as well. Jessie is a young professional, and through her reflections, author Jane Kirkpatrick explores the lives of career women in the city of Milwaukee. We're given a glimpse into women's issues such as health and diet, and the changing social graces.

Most of the characters in this book are actual historical figures. Ms. Kirkpatrick is careful to point out those who are not. The book is further enhanced with historical photographs of people who are included in the story.

This book is rich in the history of photography and the men and women who were dedicated to the art and science of it. I was in awe of the pure physical labor required of hauling and operating equipment, and have a new appreciation for my wallet-sized point and shoot! The early photographers were true artists, working in black and white, and using shadows and light to create a flattering portrait. Equally important were the assistants who were given the task of touching up portraits, unknowingly putting themselves at risk by the use of lead paint and toxic chemicals.

All of this is woven in with the delightful story of a young woman coming of age and growing in faith, during a dynamic time in women's history. I'm eager to explore Ms. Kirkpatrick's other books, which include sixteen historical novels and three non-fiction titles.

Now for the good news! I have an extra copy of this book to give away! To be included in the drawing, just leave me a comment by Sunday, April 4th, 6 p.m. mountain time.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.