our book club reads happy books!

Pardon for the delay…I was cleaning up the glitter…

Yes, this week was Book Club/ Holiday Craft Fest! Read about last year’s craft fest here.

Business out of the way: There was a book: “Wishin’and Hopin”” by Wally Lamb. We liked it – “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” for grown ups!

On to the food:

Brownie ice cream Pie and Cookies

Brownie ice cream Pie and Cookies

Tea Sandwiches and Petit Fours

Tea Sandwiches and Petit Fours

I don’t know what it is: I’m really bad at remembering to take pictures, or we were all starving. Probably both.  Either way, all the pictures I took were of half empty plates! And everything was delicious. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of everything: Candy Cane Oreo Truffles, veggies & dip, spinach dip, hot cider. I’m sure I forgot something. And how cute are these:

Christmas trees made of peanut butter cups and Hershey kisses!

Christmas trees made of peanut butter cups and Hershey kisses!

On to crafting! The glitter and paint were flying!

Decoupage plaques

Decoupage plaques

Balloon painted snowmen!

Balloon painted snowmen!

A good time was had by all! Thanks Stacy, awesome job as usual! We missed everyone who couldn’t  make it! Happy holidays all!


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Soup to Nuts

Last week was book club again and this was an extra special night – it was soup night! Thanks to Beth for hosting the night and making three delicious soups: Chicken noodle, Cream of Potato, and Carrot Ginger. I must admit my favorite was the Carrot Ginger. (or was it Ginger Carrot?)


This is not Beth’s actual soup because I am so bad at remembering to take pictures, but looking at this picture makes me want to eat that soup again, especially on this rainy day!I would be soup-er excited if Beth shared this recipe here, but I understand if it is a “secret recipe”. (I don’t have any secret recipes, do you? I guess I’m so excited if someone likes something I make  enough to ask for the recipe that I give it to them! It is a rare occurrence.)

I’m not sure which “nuts” the title of this post refers to: was it the cocoa coated nuts we munched on or was it our nutty selves for not discussing the book too much? I admitted that I did not like the book (And I just realized that I still have I not mentioned the title!) The title of this book is “Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?” by Rhoda Janzen. When we read a book that some people like and some people don’t, I think it is an opportunity for an interesting discussion.


So here is my review: I read Janzen’s previous book “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” and enjoyed it. For some reason I had a very hard time getting into this book. I enjoy reading non-fiction, especially memoirs, but reading this book made me realize that, fiction or nonfiction, I like a story when I’m reading. This book had very little story, although some pretty big things happened. Rhoda got breast cancer and got married. I found myself wanting to hear more about this, especially about how she met her husband, who seemed so different from her. There was a lot of philosophical writing about religion, which I found kind of boring. I guess I am not a deep thinker!

I would love to hear what the people who liked the book have to say!

The busy holiday season will be upon us soon – I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah if you celebrate)! My holiday season got off to a great start yesterday! Stay tuned – more details to follow!


It Should Have Been My Arm!!!

Catchy title brought to you by Lauren – thanks Lauren!

This month’s book was “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty.


And here’s a hint: the husband’s secret isn’t that he’s  bought a beautiful bouquet of pink flowers for his wife!  This best seller is an over the top story of murder, betrayal, infidelity, a (super!) creepy mother in law, and of course, maternal guilt.  The book examines the secrets we keep and those that we reveal, the grudges we hold and the grudges we let go of,  the guilt we live with, and the forgiveness we choose to extend (or not!) to ourselves and others. In short, it has it all. So many things to discuss! We all agreed that we would have read that letter in a heartbeat (what took Cecilia so long!) and the secret Tess chooses to keep at the end was the right secret to keep.

There were no  hot cross buns to munch on, but the delicious baked goods Kathy provided were even better. Thanks Kathy!

One thing we didn’t get to discuss at book club, this description of Cecilia i found on Shelfari: “The perfect mom, homemaker, volunteer, Tupperware sales rep.”  Take out the word Tupperware, and I think we can all think of a certain book club member who fits this description! I’m sure her husband has no gruesome letters tucked away for her, though!

I  don’t consider myself that much like Cecilia, but one scene in particular I could relate to. When Cecilia feels her life crumbling around her, she goes into her super organized Tupperware filled pantry to try to relax.

My house is a mess and I have the opposite of a super organized pantry, but I couple months ago, I did this:

Pat's Iphone 810

and this:

Pat's Iphone 809

And this:


and this:

Pat's Iphone 812

This is all my quilting fabric that previously was stashed in various boxes, bins, and closets throughout the house. I spent the weekend sorting and folding while watching TV. (Can’t remember what I was watching, but I have a feeling it was something inspiring and intellectually stimulating – Like Season 1 through 4  of “Arrested Development”!) I won’t say it was best weekend ever, but I will say I enjoyed it a lot! And I find myself going in there occasionally, opening the drawers and admiring my handiwork. So I guess I do have a little bit of Cecilia in me after all!

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Say Yes

We’re entering that cozy time of year: autumn. But over the past couple months I’ve found myself reflecting over my summer and thinking about how much difference the word “yes” can make.

I did not go on a big extended vacation, but I had a pretty fun summer. I will be the first to admit that I am a homebody. When you’re favorite hobbies are reading and sewing, you have a tendency to not get out much. But at some point this summer, I made the conscious decision to say “yes” when people invited me somewhere. I’m not sure where this inspiration came from. Was this one of the steps in “The Happiness Project“? (I don’t remember – but if it’s not, it should be!) Is this an adaptation of the  “yes, and …” Rules of Improv Tina Fey described in “Bossypants” ?  (I must admit, the older I get, the more I want to be Tina Fey!)

So what did I gain by saying “yes”? It started out with a concert at the local amphitheater, which led to a couple more with my fellow book club pals, Janet and Stacy. It would be hard to beat the 1st concert where there was free water ice and blood on the stage, but we shared some good laughs. I was glad I pushed myself to go out, which is hard for me to do after work!

Saying yes also led to a reunion with a high school buddy, an awesome trip to Shenandoah National Park and a couple of weeks ago, a trip to the Walnut Street Theater to see “In the Heights”.

I’m sure there are other things I did  that I can’t think of right now, but I know that all these things i mentioned above were things I would have instinctively said “no” to in the past. I’m not sure why. Sometimes we get into a rut and it is easier to stay in than to venture out. But the effort was definitely worth it. I can’t say I have completely changed. There are still times when the lure of staying home wins out. But I hope to continue to try to say “yes” more than “no” when it comes to fun.  I already have another outing planned and am looking forward to more!


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Fin and Lady

About two weeks ago we gathered at Janet’s house for a discussion of “Fin and Lady” by Cathleen Schine.  While  the book was not quite what I expected, everyone who read it seemed to like it at least a little. I could not relate to the character of Lady, but some enjoyed her free-spirited hippie character. We got a laugh out of Fin’s crazy school and Lady’s various “suitors”.  The unknown narrator created a little suspense in the novel.

One perk of this novel is its setting on the island of Capri. It  inspired Janet to serve Italian snacks. Chocolate chip cannolli filling and caprese salad – yum! It makes me want to find another novel set in Italy for the next time we meet at Janet’s house! (“Beautiful Ruins” anyone? Also partially set in the 1960’s and on the Italian coastline)


“A Hundred Summers”

Wow! it’s been 3 weeks since book club and I’m just getting around to blogging!

And sadly, I had to look at my Good Reads account to see what the title of the book was!

I do remember that it was at Lauren’s house though! (and that’s good, because I couldn’t remember where the July meeting was and it was at MY house. Oh well.)

I thought this book was ok, but not great. It gave us a lot to discuss, given the choices that all the characters made. It was interesting reading about the historic storm to which the title refers. And we all agreed that “the right people died”, which in some books,  is all you can ask for in a happy ending.

A problem I ran into while reading this book was the fact that I had recently read “Tigers in Red Weather”. That book was also about 2 friends and yearly visits to a summer-house. I had a little trouble keeping them straight in my mind, but I admit I enjoyed “Tigers” more.

Also, I feel the need to apologize in advance for September’s book club selection. When I suggested the title “Fin and Lady” I did so because of an excellent review and the fact that a quote on the back cover which called it a “clever, frothy novel”. About half way through the book I wasn’t getting the clever or the frothy so I re-read the back cover to realize the book that was being described was “The Three Weissmanns of Westport” by Cathleen Schine. (Which I have also read and which fits the description of ‘clever & frothy” much better. it is a modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”.)

I hope everyone brings suggestions to book club this week – I feel like I am striking out lately.  How do you choose books to read? I used to go to the library and just browse. Now I read book reviews, blogs, and rely on recommendations. Every once in a while a patron will return a book to the library and feel compelled to tell me how good it was. When they do I always give it a look. I recently listened to “The Last Original Wife” by Dorothea Benton Frank on a patron’s recommendation (good! clever & frothy!) and I just checked out “The Forgotten Waltz” by Anne Enright (haven’t started it yet).

Library Reads is  a new resource to learn about upcoming books. Each month a list is posted of   the top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.


October’s #1 pick is “The Rosie Project” bt Graeme Stimsion

I’ve had this book on hold for a while. I couldn’t resist this description:

The feel-good novel of 2013, The Rosie Project is a classic screwball romance.

Don Tillman is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet.

But he has designed the Wife Project, using a sixteen-page questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent and beautiful. And on a quest of her own to find her biological father—a search that Don, a professor of genetics, might just be able to help her with.

The Wife Project teaches Don some unexpected things. Why earlobe length is an inadequate predictor of sexual attraction. Why quick-dry clothes aren’t appropriate attire in New York. Why he’s never been on a second date. And why, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love: love finds you.

‘…the overall effect of The Rosie Project will be, if anything, to increase genuine understanding of Aspergers (or, as it will soon be called, the autistic spectrum) and to refute some common myths. It’s great fun, too.’ Jo Case, Australian Book Review

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Beatriz Williams

Thought I would share this link, since it is next month’s book club author.


Have a great day!

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One Post, Two Books

  I don’t know what it says about my life they I never got around to posting about the June Book club meeting. Some people might say they were too busy, but I know it is closer to the truth to say I haven’t given enough priority to the right things.
And how bad is it that I had to look at my calendar to remind myself of not only what we read in June, but also what we read in July?!
June: “Seating Arrangements” by Maggie Shipstead. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the discussion. I do remember sitting on Kathy’s beautiful patio enjoying delicious refreshments and fun conversation. And really, isn’t that what book club is all about? I do remember that I didn’t really like this book. Didn’t like or care about the characters and was kind of bored by the story.
July: “Looking for Me” by Beth Hoffman. I really like this author and the book had very interesting characters that were fun to talk about. Beth Hoffman’s characters and settings are so vivid.

I was disappointed that I didn’t follow through with my idea to have a craft component to the evening, especially after everyone commented how the book gave them the urge to paint a piece of furniture!
In the spirit of craftiness, I will share a project my husband and I completed over the 4th of July weekend:

Awesome thread holder!

Awesome thread holder!

In truth, I can’t remember what valuable contributions I made to the construction of this besides saying, “hey, do you want to make this for me?”. Well, I did pick the color…

As someone (Stacy!)said to me recently, “Pinterest is the devil”. I think my husband wholeheartedly agrees! But I really need to clean and organize my sewing room. So far my thread is organized! Baby steps!

In spite of the mess, I have been plugging away at my goal of finishing some quilts. For all you BHS Drama fans, here’s a quilt I started a couple of years ago – finally completed!

BHS Drama Quilt Front

BHS Drama Quilt Front

I used the back of the T-shirts with the cast lists on them for the back of the quilt:

BHS drama quilt back

On to the next project!

Since it has been so long since I posted I am making this post extra long. Here are two books I read recently that I really enjoyed:



If you are a fan of Lauren Graham from “The Gilmore Girls” and “Parenthood” (I am!) you’ll enjoy this fun, optimistic book about a young woman struggling to make it as an actress in New York.

“Tigers in Red Weather” is definitely not as light-hearted,but it is a good story, beautifully written. And how great is that cover?This book  made me want to sit on a hot beach with a cold martini – a good summer read! What good books have you read lately?

Hope you’re all having a great summer!


Book Club and other Fun Things

Well, for the first time since starting this blog, I missed blogging about a book club meeting.

I'm red in the face!

I’m red in the face!

March’s book club was at Pat’s house and we discussed Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”.  I already blogged about the book in this post, so I won’t discuss it too much here. I will say I re-read the book for the meeting (actually, listened to it) and while I still liked it a lot, I think the element of surprise was a big part of my enjoyment of this book, and of course you can only experience that once. (Maybe that’s what makes it so enjoyable!) I will also say it was fun hearing everyone else’s reaction to the book and the refreshments were delicious. And serving nuts was completely appropriate, because that certainly explains Nick and Amy – in a nutshell!

This month’s book was “Another Piece of My Heart” by Jane Green. 14303313_121101165853

I had a very hard time reading this book, and this is the first (book club) book I actually skimmed. I felt like I could read a sentence or 2 on each page and get a gist of what the endless whining was about in that particular chapter.  I will say, it did make for a good discussion because we were not all in agreement about the  book. And I will also say, I do feel like a hypocrite for the phrase “endless whining”, because I myself have been known to enjoy some heartfelt whining. (and let’s face it, people do enjoy whining –  why is that? No one enjoys hearing it!) And as I’m writing this, Janis Joplin’s masterpiece “Piece of My Heart” is playing in my head. A tour de force of whining. Now that whining I don’t mind listening too.  Love it!!

I think part of my problem with this book was I found myself in the middle of an uncharacteristic reading slump. In recent months I had started several books and had found myself unable to finish them. The culprits: Cloud Atlas, Discovery of Witches, The Casual Vacancy.  I was beginning to worry about myself: was I succumbing to candy store syndrome – if you work in the candy store you no longer crave the candy? Had working in the library finally made me immune to books?

Happily, no. I went for something tried and true. Jennifer Niven’s most recent novel, “Becoming Clementine”, about the further adventures of Velva Jean, girl adventurer. A very satisfying read!

How about you? Have you ever been in a reading slump, and what did you do to get out of it?

Thanks Noreen for a fun book club night – delicious food, canine companionship, and the inspiration of your beautiful powder room!!

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Engaging Company

So I was watching the Oscars the other night, and a clip featuring the late Nora Ephron caught my attention.  Nora commented, “I think the hardest thing about writing is writing.” Who am I to argue with Nora Ephron? It made me realize that my procrastination last month had nothing to do with lack of time, and everything to do with lack of motivation and ideas. So I took it as a verbal kick in the pants to “just do it.” Of course it still took be another two days to sit down and write, but at least it has been less than a week since book club – much better than last month.

For our February book club we decided to get back to our “happy” roots and, in honor of Valentine’s Day, read a romantic comedy, “The Sleeping Beauty Proposal”, by Sarah Strohmeyer. I thought it was a great choice. It was a quick, happy, funny read and I think everyone enjoyed it. We all agreed that the perks of being engaged were kind of unfair – why do only brides and pregnant women get to register? Although I have been seeing a commercial for registering for a Dodge Dart. Sign me up – now I only have to convince those near and dear to me to finance my next car! Not very likely! If you want to try your luck, here’s the link:


We also enjoyed some delicious refreshments, thanks to our first time hostess, Debbie. In honor of the setting of the novel she went with a “Boston” theme for the food, which included Boston Creme cupcakes and a bean dip which I forget the name of, so I will just call “Boston Baked Bean Dip Deliciousness”. Yummy – thanks Debbie!

Try to keep the good feelings going as you read next month’s selection, “Gone Girl”. While it is a very dark book, I found a lot of it very funny, in the tradition of “War of the Roses”. (Am I convincing you this book belongs in our happy book club? I’m trying!!).

If you need a break from Nick and Amy, go out and register for something – remember to take your brand new engagement ring with you!

What a Rock! Does this mean we're all engaged to you , Pat?

What a Rock! Does this mean we’re all engaged to you , Pat?

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