Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Life is what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans."

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

A quote from John Lennon.

That's so true, we're busy planning this, doing that, and we need to grasp the moment, be content, enjoy the small things of life. A cup of tea by the fire, reading, writing in one's journal, little things that make you smile. Family, friends and a good bed at the end of a long day.

Well that's me done.

Good night,


P.S. I always smile when I see the above photo.

Persona Non Grata, by Ruth Downie

This will be my last book review of the year and I was going to get together a very humble little tally of the books I have read this year.

Ruth Downie has two previous books in this series, both were New York Times best sellers, Medicus and Terre Incognita.

Based around the main character, a career military doctor, Gaius Petreius Ruso, who is stationed in Roman Britain, near Hadrian's Wall and lives with his companion Tilla a tribal native of the isle. He receives a letter summoning him back to his family in the south of France.

On reaching the family home and vinyard, nobody owns up to sending the letter. All is in turmoil. The family are on the edge of bancrupty, their creditors are breathing down their necks, they could all be out on the street. Gaius's sister-in-law's brother, has drowned mysteriouly on a sea voyage.

Gaius has not told his family he will be bringing Tilla and has not told them of their relationship.

As if this isn't enough their main creditor comes to visit and drops dead of poisoning in front of Gaius.

How is his younger sister mixed up the the gladiators.

Gaius is now expected to sort out the family fortunes.

What did I think?

I was truthfully expecting more. Knowing that Ruth Downie's two previous books were New York Times best sellers. It was a good read, a not in depth read. Interesting research on Roman Life. I enjoyed it, and probably I should go back and read the two previous books.

I studied Roman Britain for my final exams, so had some background understanding of this period in history.

I felt it was an OK book that benefited from it's period setting. I will hold judgement until I read the previous two books.


My 2009 Year End Reading Summary from Christy

  • How many books read in 2009? 24
  • How many fiction? 14
  • How many non-fiction? 10
  • How many biographical or auto-biographical? 8
  • How many travel books? 2
  • Female authors? 16
  • Male authors? 8
  • Most favourite? Someone at a Distance, by Dorothy Whipple
  • Least favourite? The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, by Colleen McCullough
  • Any I simply couldn't read all the way through? The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet. I was amazed that the writer of Thornbirds could write such a dreadful book.
  • Oldest book read? The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery
  • Newest book read? Persona non Grata, by Ruth Downie
  • Longest read? The Lost, A search for six of six million, by Daniel Mendelsohn
  • Shortest read? The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery
  • How may books from the library? 18
  • Translated books? 3
  • Most read author of the year? Dorothy Whipple
  • How many by that author? 3
  • Any re-reads? No
  • Favourite character? Charlotte Gray
  • How many countries were visited, through the read page? Australia, USA, Canada, Russia, Poland, Germany, Monrovia, France, United Kingdom, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Kenya, South Africa, Botswana
  • Which books would you not have read without a recommendation? The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Someone at a Distance, Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Little Boy Lost, Facing the Lion.
  • Which author was new to me, and I want to read all that author's works? Dorothy Whipple
  • Read any books I always meant to read? The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
  • Any books I'm annoyed I didn't read? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
I have never kept a statistical record of the books I have read. And I don't think this was my best year for reading books. I averaged two books per month. I think I'm going to try for three books per month next year. But I read for the love of it, so what takes my fancy or comes to my attention, will be read.

I seem to especially like books fiction or biographical, that are set in the first or second world war time period, but I'm not stuck there.

I have sorely neglected our library, book reading club and every time I run into someone they say "when are you coming back?" Just life gets in the way. So will work harder to keep up and participate in that.

Reading, what a joy, what a transportation, through time and distance from ones own fireside.

Well signing off from my American fireside reading.


P.S. Found this meme on Paperback Reader

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BBC Radio 4, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

BBC Radio 4, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built.

If you enjoyed reading this book, or haven't read it, but would like to listen to it, go to BBC Radio 4 on the internet and listen to the two episodes. They are only there for seven days, so make haste. I think you will enjoy it, especially the accents and the opening music. It will transport you to Botswana. Plus at the very end are the chimes of Big Ben, before they cut off.

I'm listening to it while writing this post.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Giveaway at Irish Rose Creations

Irish Rose Creations

Kimberley at the above blog. Is having a giveaway, Romantic Airloom Afghan Giveaway , it ends Dec 31st, so go on over and take a look.


A Movie and Dinner with Friends

Before dinner we all went out to a movie, 'The Blind Side' a great movie. A truly feel good movie and it's true.

When we got back from the movie, I made Chai Lattes for everyone. Several of them I made with Soy Milk and they came out just as good. They really hit the spot as it was a cold miserable rainy day.

Children grow up so quickly. Rob with friends, he looks happily ensconced. They're looking at my book on the Isle of Skye.

My contribution a salad. I didn't have all the veg for the recipe, so thought I would adapt it. It called also for pasta and salmon. I was going to do pasta and albacore tuna. But then when almost everything was in I remembered I hadn't put the pasta in, so change of plan, just make it all vegetable.

After dinner we played games and all had a great time.


Fireside Reading

Treasured boy, reading by the fire. A quiet winter evening.

I love winter evenings when the house is still and we just sit cosily by the fireside reading.

We use that lamp all the time and it is very handy when doing needlework, but boy do I wish I could come up with a lamp like that, with a manifying glass, but more stylish, or antiqued, suitable for my house.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tesco's Grand Opening in BB's Home Town

Monday the day before my flight left, is a day spent around my sister's. Packing and getting in a visit to the grand opening of a Tesco's store in her home town. Cake and wine, plus bag give aways. I was hoping for a Kath Kidson bag, since I have heard they sometimes can be bought at Tesco's, but to no avail. They did have the town brass band playing outside the entrance.

Tesco's bought the old builder's yard, plus re-routed a main road to build this Tesco's. There was a whole row of terrace houses that sat right on the road, but had very long back gardens. So they bought all their back gardens, leaving them a little bit. Re-routed the road behind their houses and made the front of the terrace houses where the road used to be, a pedestrian area with trees and flower boxes. Plus these house have their own gated car park. So all in all I think the people are pretty happy, paying off their mortgages with what they got.

The new Tesco's is certainly giving Sainsbury's a run for their money. As Tesco's is in town, but Sainsbury's you have to drive to. Sainsbury's was closed for two weeks while I was visiting, for a hasty revamping; which of course they would never have done it, if no competition. Another big food store in town was needed. But maybe I shouldn't say that because of all the smaller shops in town, although many of those are chains.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's being served in our winter kitchen?

Italian Panettone sweet bread, delicious with butter on, toasted or just on it's own

Dumplings cooking in chicken soup

Plus you must serve it in a favourite bowl. I bought a set of seven of the above bowls at the thrift. I think they are quite old, there are no markings on them at all. But the colour of the china and style, makes me think they're German or Czech.

On the rack, up top wheat biscuits, in the centre, chocolate chip cookies and on the bottom an apple pie, ok that wasn't made from scratch.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Star Wars Concert

The drive down through Philadelphia to the Star Wars Concert at the Wacovia Center

This is a belated posting as the boys went to the concert in the middle of November. It was a laser light show, movie clips and a full orchestra.

When the first Star Wars film came out I was visiting California with my girlfriends and we got to see the movie at Grauman's Chinese Theater, it's something you never forget. The visual effects in that movie were so different from what went before. And to see it on Hollywood Boulevard. We all loved it and now my boy loves it.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Jewish Banana, Apple Cake

I took my Jewish Apple Cake recipe, and only having one apple but quite a number of bananas, decided to use the one apple and the bananas. It tastes great.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Portree, Isle of Skye, Third Day

I'm starting off with a beautifully colourful shop, Skye Batik, because outside was very grey.

Here, BB and I bought very nice silver hair clips with wooden pins that hold them.

Outside the day had become very overcast.

So here are some scenes of Portree.

The road to the left leads down to the harbour.

This is the High Street,views of it from each end.

Portree town square

One of the most frequented shops for us, was the bakery, because instead of eating in a restaurant, we would buy something here, hot meat pies, sausage rolls, quiches and make them into a picnic lunch. Taking it down to the harbour and picnicking there.

My Kitchen Sink, Today, a Snowey Sunday


Is posting kitchen sinks from around the world. I was going to send my photos in, when I figure our how to send them in. In the mean time I thought that I would do a posting here.

I took these photos today. The kitchen is bright, because of all the snow outside on a sunny day.

Our home is from the mid 1920's, and is Dutch style Colonial. Downstairs all our window sills are deep as you can see from the kitchen sill. Our kitchen window faces a neighbours, so not wanting to put up curtains or blinds, I opted for the stained glass panels; which I do so enjoy.

We put new crank out windows in a couple of years ago, as the old ones were terribly drafty. The kitchen window is the only piece of painted wood in my house, everything else is stained. My husband sanded them down for me to paint, but I just loved all the old paints showing through, especially the light green; which was a very popular color in the states in the 1920's, so I think it represents a little cross section of the history of our house.

On the far left of the sill you can see my lighthouse tile; which my sister bought for me on the Isle of Skye and in front of that is my Japanese tea making set, from Candyce. The rest is just a collection of jugs and the teapot sits on an old candle heating stand.

To get to my sink. To the left hanging on the tile work is a pottery soap and sponge holder; which I picked up at a charity shop in England and to the left of that is my Port Merion pot, where I put all my scraps before putting them in the garden.

To the right of my sink is a little Indian drawer set, where I keep bits and pieces.

This photo was taken by Rob a few evening ago, when he was on the floor taking photos of the cats. So you could say this is a Tink and Tuppy view of the kitchen sink.

Even as small as our kitchen is, we still have a fish tank, to the left. Rob wanted one, but where to put it? So yes mum gave up even more of her counter space. What you do for your kids!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Edinbane Pottery, Isle of Skye

Is a lovely pottery shop in Edinbane. My sister BB and I love pottery, well any kind of china. In fact a friend came to our house one time and said 'it's a good job you don't throw plates at Bo when you get angry because you would never run out.' And that's about the truth. I have so many sets of beautiful china, and some pottery.

I would have bought something here, but to be honest it was super expensive. For instance a cup was eighteen pounds and the matching saucer fifteen pounds. My sister and I are pretty thrifty. He had some buttons, not even glazed in different colours, and not an inch in diameter and wanted three pounds per button; which BB and I thought was excessive. If he'd of had something small like that and cheaper, we would have bought a set.

If you had the money though, some lovely pieces.


Chai Latte

Start off with some Chai Tea, and make a pot of tea

Take a milk frother as you see above

Fill with whole milk up to the line

Froth the milk

Pour about two thirds of a mug of Chai Tea add your sweetener of choice, I like honey

Add the frothed milk and Voila! a mug of Chai Latte

Candyce took me out to lunch at Cosi, and along with that I had a Chai Latte, now I'm addicted. I went home Friday night and made one each for Rob and I, and tonight I made one each for Bo and I and even he liked it. So now I'm addicted to them.


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