happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

Leap!

First things first – I missed last month’s book club. Boo me! (and there’s a very good chance I will be miss this month’s meeting to – I have to work, I think. Boo me again!)

Last month’s book was “The Divorce Papers” by Susan Rieger. I had  a very hard time getting into this book and the details of it just didn’t stay with me. My biggest recollection about it was skimming (and when I say skimming ,I mean skipping) through all the boring (to me) legal documents. I am really curious to see how everyone else liked it – what was the consensus – thumbs up or thumbs down?

So on to unfinished business. In my last (long ago!) post, I hinted that I had picked a word for 2015. For about 6 months or so, I have had this postcard propped up on a shelf in my sewing room.

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The  postcard is an advertisement for a fabric line and  was included in a package I received of fabric purchases.

I must admit, when I first read it my initial thought was, “that’s not true!” A picture of an empty swimming pool and disastrous consequences of leaping  popped into my mind! But I knew that wasn’t the intent of the card and it really gave me food for thought (especially the fact that my mind had instantly gone to that dark place!) At the time, I was working (struggling!!) with designing this quilt:

hot mess

I was really feeling like giving up. I didn’t have to complete it, I  had been inspired by a particular fabric to create a wall hanging for my office. No one would know or care if I never finished it. But I got that postcard in the mail and I propped it on my shelf and it began to give me the message: try something, eventually something will work. And eventually I came up with this:

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So, I have changed my attitude about this little postcard and it still is propped up on shelf. I no longer see empty swimming pools! Now when I’m not sure how to get something done, I just start, and work it out as I go. And it has made me more aware of the many people who always are there, willing to help. So that is why I decided to make my word for 2015 “Leap”. And that is why, in addition to book club books, this year I will be reading books like this:

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I started classes to get my Masters. It feels like a big leap for me, but so far, exciting and good. I have leapt,and so far, the nets have appeared!

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New Year, Old Business

We’re well into 2015 and I realize I never wrote about our December/Holiday/craft/book club extravaganza.

As in past years, Stacy did not disappoint!

There was good food, good book talk, good crafts, good fun, and good friends.

As usual, the quantity and quality of my pictures are poor. I thought about making it a new year’s resolution to get better at this, but I know it probably won’t happen – I’ve never been a picture person. I’ll just say, I’ll try to do better.

In the meantime, one picture of the crafts we did.

xmas craft

(Not shown, all the laughter and fun involved in putting these masterpieces together.)

The book we read was “The 13th Gift” by Joanne Huist Smith.  It was the perfect book for the season, reminding us that the smallest of gestures can make a big difference in a person’s life.

Have you made any reading resolutions for 2015? Maybe you want to take part in a reading challenge like this one:

http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2015-36071458

I was tempted, it would help  to get more variety in my reading. I’m going to pass though. I decided I don’t crave variety as much as I do reading books that I really love. Someone asked me recently for the title of a good book to read, and I struggled to recall one I had been crazy about lately. Before I worked in a library, one of my favorite pastimes was taking a looong time in the library, browsing books, not worrying about what was popular or other people’s recommendations. I just read book jackets and what home with a stack of promising books. So that’s my reading challenge  for 2015: seek out books that I really want to read and I really like.

 I’m happy to say, I found my first one:

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I’m having a hard time putting it down. it’s so good, so moving, and yes – so sad.

I guess I will always like sad books!

How about you? Have you made a resolution for 2015? Have you picked a word for 2015? I have, but I think  I will save it for another post.

Happy reading and happy 2015!

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A Thankful Week!

Welcome to Monday!

Today wraps up a very busy week for me – probably for you too.

Of course it all kicked off last Sunday with Book Club and our traditional November soup party at Beth’s house.

Our book was China Dolls by Lisa See.china dollsThis was a fascinating book about a subject I knew very little about. We had a very interesting discussion.

Another highlight of course was Beth’s soup! She went with a dual Autumn/Chinese theme, so there was  Butternut Squash soup and Chinese Chicken. I had the squash and it was delicious – I heard the chicken was great too.

As always, the fun and food was excellent.

Onwards to Thanksgiving!

I must admit when I think of Thanksgiving my heart is with my entire family. I grew up with Thanksgiving being a minimum of 11 people. Anything smaller never feels Thanksgivingy enough to me. The Thanksgiving in 2009 at my  Mom & Dad’s Northeast Philly twin home with 32 people kind of was the pinnacle. Fun for sure, but no one wants a repeat!

Here’s why:

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If it looks like every one had to sit down and stay there until everyone got up, and if it looks like we were jammed in there so tight some of us could barely move our arms to lift our forks to our mouths, you’ve got the idea!

So when Trish decided that she didn’t want to brave this kind of crowd with baby Nadia, I completely understood and pulled out all my Thanksgiving recipes and started to cook.

Things I’m grateful for:

1. Our band of four has increased to six- more than halfway to eleven!

2. I get to buy cute outfits like this:nadiath3. A husband that makes things like this awesome cranberry jalapeno sauce.

cranberry4. That I remembered to not put the potato peels in the garbage disposal, even though they are garbage and it is called a garbage disposal.

potatopeelsWe have changed the garbage disposal twice after Thanksgiving due to potato peels, and I would rather be jammed into a small room with 32 people and try to eat a turkey dinner than do that again! I will just call it the “water that is a little bit grey with a couple of  teeny tiny pieces of garbage in it disposal”.

On Saturday we celebrated my baby sister’s 50th birthday. I have two sisters that created beautiful scrap/memory books for each of the siblings 50 birthdays. On Saturday all 11 of us and our spouses got together to present the final scrapbook. It felt like a milestone and another thing to be grateful for: that my Mom, Dad, and all 9 children could be together to celebrate this event.

On Sunday, we celebrated yet another milestone: Nadia Clair was baptized.

She wore the christening dress her Mom wore (another little girl in a white dress):

christening dress

Such a joyful day!

baptismchr1chr2chr3

 

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One Good Dog

Our book this month was “One Good Dog” by Susan Wilson.

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This was a very nice story about how a mistreated dog helps a man heal. Traumatic events from childhood has led to the loss of everything Adam March values in his adult life. Of course, everyone knows the love of a good dog can fix just about anything! Well, it may not fix everything, but unconditional love is always nice and by learning to love and take care of a dog, Adam learns to take responsibility for his actions and to make a new life for himself.

The meeting this month was at Kathy’s house, so we all knew we could look forward to delicious bakery treats. We were not disappointed!
And they were adorable too:

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Thanks Kathy for the delicious treats and being such a great hostess!

I’ll leave you with a picture of my “One (pretty) Good Dog” I loved the depiction of retrievers in the book, because their lovable nature and eagerness to please is why I love having labs. Feel free to tell me about your good dog too!

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We All Scream for Ice Cream

Well, I wanted to scream anyway, while reading this book!

 

Or I should say, avoiding reading, falling asleep while reading, skimming. All these are more accurate. “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” by Susan Jane Gilman was our book club selection for this month. This was 512 pages of misery. Which I normally don’t mind, but I found the main character so unlikable I wasn’t interested in her story.

The one good thing about this book: its large size ensured that I did not even consider taking it with me to Jamaica to read on the beach!

jamaicaI’m glad nothing spoiled this view! And when I visited the resort’s self-serve soft serve machine (daily!) I didn’t think of Lillian Dunkle once!

Why did I bother to finish this book you may ask? One reason is because I do like to finish book club books so I can contribute to the discussion (perhaps this is really something that is imprinted on me forever – I always did my homework when I was in school. Always. I know. Obnoxious. I blame my parents.) The other reason I finished the book was so I could get to the happy part of the book where she received an operation so her leg was miraculously healed. And she could wear semi-cute yellow shoes. Like I was promised on the cover of the book. I know there is a saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but nobody is ever actually talking about books when they say that, are they?

So…other than the book, book club was great!! Norene had delicious refreshments. We had something from all four food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, and M&M’s. And of course, ice cream for dessert. Reminding us, in spite of what we had just read, that ice cream is indeed, a good thing.

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Goodnight June

A couple of weeks ago was Book Club. Our book was Goodnight June by Sarah Jio.

Everyone seemed to enjoy this fanciful account of the origins of the classic children’s book, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown.

I thought Norene’s email summed up the night perfectly, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I add an excerpt here:

“You all missed a great book club meeting last week … a few of us traveled all the way (haha) to Philadelphia, PA in the Northern Liberties section.  It literally took us maybe 20 minutes to get to Trish’s house and she made it a great night!!  We also planned to hopefully get together when the movie Gone Girl releases and have a Girls Night Out at the movie theater, which is scheduled to hit the theaters October 3rd.”
The refreshments were yummy! In keeping with the Italian restaurant theme of the book, we had some antipasti and delicious biscotti from Termini’s bakery. Sometimes its worth it to make the trip to the big city!
We also had a Book Shower for Trish, which was fun. The new baby already has  a good-sized TBR (to be read) pile!
I’m only bummed that I forgot to bring this little gift that I bought months ago, specifically for an occasion like this:
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Oh well, she’ll get it eventually. I better get on the ball and  get better at this Grandma business!! It won’t be long!
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“The Blessings”

Book Club was at my house this month. The book was “The Blessings” by Elise Juska.

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I really enjoyed this book. As I noted at book club, it reinforced for me how much I love a depressing book! Although, I did not find this book as depressing as most other club members did. While the Blessings face many challenges in the course of the novel, doesn’t every family? And I found the way the family supported and accepted  each other inspiring. I found many of the relationships moving, particularly the one between the matriarch and the young widow, Lauren. I also loved the style in which it was written. Each chapter is told from a different family member’s point of view. Other book club members wanted the details that were missing from each person’s story, but I feel like all the snippets came together beautifully to tell the story of the whole family.

One thing we all agreed on: we loved that the setting was Philadelphia. Although all but one of us live in the ‘burbs, I still consider myself a Northeast Philly girl. The details of the story were very different, but this family felt very much like my own. And while I have never actually ate pink fluff, I know exactly what it is and have avoided it on many occasions. I actually considered that it would be the perfect refreshment for book club, but decided to have something that people would actually want to eat! I decided to go with some classic Philly food: pretzels, Federal donuts, and Goldenberg Peanut Chews. And a little fruit salad just because it’s good for you.

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So we had a good book discussion and good food, but something else that caught my attention was Janet’s fun Birthday project. To celebrate a milestone birthday, she has set a goal to do 50 fun things this summer. It has been fun seeing what she has been up via her Facebook posts!

It got me thinking about having fun too! So even though I don’t have a specific goal in mind, here are some fun things I have been up to:

1. Booked a vacation to Jamaica! As we know, anticipation is half the fun.

2. Made plans with my friend Mary to attend Quilt Odyssey again this year! I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to hear about all Mary’s quilting accomplishments since I’ve seen her. I know she was as  inspired as I was last year and she got busy with her quilting too.

3. Went to see the movie “Jersey Boys”. What made it even more fun was my son asked me to go with him. It was nice to go with someone who wasn’t just going because he owes me for “Edge of Tomorrow” (and he still does!). It brought back nice memories of seeing the Broadway show together and we both really liked it way more than we thought we would. I must say I was never a Clint Eastwood fan and when I heard he was directing and producing it, I was nervous. But I’m happy to say I was wrong. He did a great job translating a fun show into a fun movie. Music, the mob, and merriment! What more could you want? Go see it!

3a. I saw the trailer for “Gone Girl” before “Jersey Boys”! I had seen it on the internet before, but seeing it on the big screen got me excited all over again! Creepy and amazing! I must admit, when I saw “opening October 3rd”, my immediate thought was, “I hope Trish holds off having the baby till after this date”.  She is the #1 person I want to see this movie with (even if she has to leave the theater 10x to go the bathroom!). She’s the one I know will enjoy seeing what kind of movie they make of the wonderful novel. And she will enjoy bashing it with me if they wreck it. (Hello, “Time Traveler’s Wife!) But I have high hopes for the movie. David Fincher who directed “The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, and “House of Cards” is the director. Hopefully he will do his usual brilliant job. And while I initially had my doubts about Ben Affleck as Nick, the idea is growing on me. He has the right look, and the one-facial-expression-for-every-occasion acting style he displayed in “Argo” may work for portraying  a dazed man who is the prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife.

Watch the trailer! And do fun things  this summer!

 

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Me Before You

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May’s book club selection was “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes. I had heard great things about this book at the library and that is the main reason I suggested it.  I was so happy that other book club members enjoyed it more than I did.

If you go over to Goodreads, it is amazing the amount of 5 star reviews this book got.  Most of them claiming that the reviewer cried their eyes out. I must confess, no tears were shed by me. I agree with the 2 star reviewer “Litchick”.

Beth, as usual, had lovely refreshments. Tea, cake, and scones  so we could pretend we were having tea in a small English town with a castle in it!

Next month’s book is “The Blessings” be Elise Juska. This is what LibraryReads has to say about that:

“This finely-crafted story is told through a series of Blessing family members’ points of view over a two-decade span of time. A deceptively small book with very big themes, this novel is gentle and wise. It made me look at my own close and extended family with new eyes; now I see the ways in which we are alike, not the ways in which we are different. A transformative reading experience. Highly recommended.”

I’m preparing to be transformed – well at least my house is! Well, transformed from dirty to clean – book club is at my house next month. So I’ll start cleaning soon. But not yet – it only stays clean for half a minute – wouldn’t want to have to do it twice!!

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Hey! I Wrote a Blog Post!

I’m happy to be back blogging after a short hiatus. The main reason for the absence  is because I missed the March meeting – for the first time! (Except for the very first meeting, but I hadn’t joined the group yet.)I was so bummed that I had to miss the meeting , because the book was “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Stinson.rosie projectI had read the book back in October, so I wanted to re-read it to refresh my memory. I mostly hate re-reading because I feel like it takes away  time I could be spending reading something new. So I listened to it on CD. To be honest, I think I loved it even more on audio. I never heard how everyone else liked it – please leave a comment and let me know!

 

This month’s book was “Drama High” by Michael Sokolove.

drama high

This book seemed like a no brainer to me because our book group is composed of former “drama mamas” and high school drama participants. And the story is very local – it is about the drama program at Truman High School and its drama teacher Lou Volpe. I may be exaggerating a little when I say Bensalem High School considers Truman its arch rival, but I was interested to see how everyone responded to the book. Some of our members have met Lou Volpe and seen the productions chronicled in the book. Most of the members seemed to enjoy the book. The two members that really hated it were members of BHS drama not so long ago. I understand why they were irritated – BHS has a great drama program and teacher also. But it was a reminder that there are great teachers everywhere and they make a big difference in children’s lives.

I can’t resist posting a memory quilt picture of my great times at drama high:BHS Drama quilt frontThe most fun I had at book club was sharing this piece of news I received right around Valentine’s Day:

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I can’t wait to be a Grandmom! Here’s how I’ve been practicing:

When I see a brand new baby, I do not say, “That baby needs a hat!”        I’m not sure why I get the urge to say the phrase  that irritated me the most when I was a young mother. (And what was I thinking – that baby probably did need a hat!!)

 

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Don’t Mess with Mr. Darcy!

I feel like I’ve been neglecting book club with all the recent quilty posts, so I thought I would catch up with book club news today!

Unfortunately, I missed January’s meeting. The book was – wait for it – “The Book Club” by Mary Alice Monroe. I don’t have much to say about this book. I found it not very interesting and the characters kind of unlikable. Not sure how everyone else felt about it, so leave a comment and let me know!

February’s book was “Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding. I admit I was disappointed in this book, which is sad, because I love Bridget Jones. My first disappointment was the death of Mr. Darcy. (see post title above!). “Bridget Jones” is an homage to “Pride & Prejudice”, specifically the BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth. Was there ever more brilliant casting than Colin Firth as Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones’ Diary”?

The two Mr. Darcys:

Colin Firth in “Pride & Prejudice”

Colin Firth in “Bridget Jones’ Diary”

Jane Austen was smart enough never to write a sequel to “Pride & Prejudice”, especially one without Mr. Darcy. “Mad about the Boy” lost me once I realized Mark was dead. The brief mentions of him in the novel just made me miss him more.

The other problem I had with the book was its style. Which is a shame, because Helen Fielding was cutting edge when she wrote Bridget Jones in diary format. But it’s been done so often since, it seems kind of dated. I was looking for something more original.  I struggled all month to read this book and in the end, just skimmed. But it was nice to make it to book club and hear what everyone else had to say and have some delicious treats!

In other reading news, on January 14th I  wrote this post, about putting “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt on hold. I got it from the library on February 28th. Actually, it didn’t take me as long as  I thought it would to come in (I still have the eBooks on hold: I’m 104 out of 473 in Philadelphia and 46/116 in Bucks County). It’s a big thick book and it is riveting right from the start. I’m in the middle of it now but so far it certainly doesn’t meet the “happy book” criteria. I’ll keep you posted!

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