January 31, 2007

The Dinner Fix Update

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I've had The Dinner Fix for a few weeks now and managed to try a few things.



  • Ginger Beef with Egg Noodles and Snap Peas (twice)

  • Salmon with Ron's Maple-Grapefriut Sauce, Mushroom Rice and Broccoli (twice)

  • Tomato-Cranberry Glazed Pork Chops with Couscous and Kinda Greek Salad

  • Quesadillas with Cold Veggies and Dip

The best one so far was the Pork Chops....Mmmmm...pork chops! It was sooooo good. I even liked the couscous. I tried the salmon one with salmon the first time, then the next with tilapia (a fish I never had before) and that was good too. The Ginger Beef, I wasn't sure about the ginger, but I liked it a lot and it's so easy.


The only drawback has been that I've bought a lot of stuff like sauces and spices that I wouldn't usually have and the grocery bill shows it. But I think it's been worth it.


So, if I had to give this cookbook a rating, it would be 4/5.

January 29, 2007

A Fun Book Meme

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I've never memed. I didn't know what a meme was until today. How lame is that? Anyway, I thought this was cute and fun for all you book-folks. I found it on The Daily Meme website. Here we go!

Another (5) Book Meme

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:


My books: The Mill on the Floss, Master & Commander, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Mansfield Park, Shoot Me


Fanny was silent- and Miss Crawford relapsed into thoughfulness, till suddenly looking up at the end of a few minutes, she exclaimed, "Ah here he is!" She couldn't have been more boring if she had just been declared brain dead. Totally, completely and with great skill. "I am heartily sorry for your embarrassment, Doctor. Why, last 'ear, the meadows was all one sheet o' water, they was."

Not very coherent but kind of funny!

Book Quiz

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I stole this from Stephanie's blog. Very cute.




You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.




I haven't read Watership Down yet, but I have it on my bookshelf.

January 28, 2007

One More Addiction

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I didn't read a lot this weekend. I used my free time to catch up with my scrapbooking. I finished a New Year's page and a "winter fun" style page. I got the urge after I received this month's issue of Scrapbooking, Etc in the mail on Friday. I always get inspired by the people, who are so much more creative than I am, that contribute to the magazine. I'm amazed at what they come up with!

Now that I think of it, I love to get magazines in the mail. I always get so excited to see a shiny new 'zine coming out of the mailbox. I have it down to three current subscriptions: Scrapbooking, Etc, Martha Stewart Living and Family Chronicle (genealogy). Plus, I'm a sucker for home decorating magazines at the grocery store.

It must be an extension of the Book Addiction. "Words! I must have them!" I wonder of any of you other Bookaholics are like me in this. Do you have a subscription? More than one? Does the checkout counter lure you to buy more magazines?

January 26, 2007

The Big Reveal

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Ok, unless you live under a rock or in a cave or are training for a mission to Mars, you probably know by now that Oprah's new Book Club selection is The Measure of a Man by Sydney Poitier. I didn't watch the show but checked the website until it was online. Now I think Sydney is a great man and his life is probably very interesting but I'm not really an autobiography reader. I would have liked a classic book. I have found lately that her book club shows don't really talk about the book like she used to do. But she love, love, loves Sydney Poitier so I imagine she'd do a whole hour with him. Gazing in admiration, no doubt!


Well, I have a mountain of books to read already, so I better stick with that.

January 25, 2007

Farewell "Farewell to Arms"

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Farewell to Arms is a semi-autobiographical account of Hemingway’s experiences during WW1. Lt Henry (wink-wink) is a hard drinking American who has volunteered as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army. Italy is deep in the war with Austria and as the war progresses the danger to Henry and his men escalates. During the lulls, Henry meets an English nurse named Catherine Barkley. Whether through desperation or loneliness, the couple fall in love and seek out ways to be alone together, despite the obstacles.



The novel often has beautiful descriptions of the countryside, as well as scenes of horrific violence. As grim and awful as some of those scenes are, Hemingway’s beautiful prose made it worth reading. However, I never really felt attached to Henry and Catherine. The relationship is written from Henry’s rather distant point of view. I felt the relationship was based on lust and fear from how I read it. I never really felt much emotion from him until the very end. I guess I’m a very emotional reader. I like to get into characters heads and know their motivations. It didn’t seem possible here.



The writing technique is very interesting. It’s terse and to the point: we only know what is going on through the words and actions of the characters. Hemingway does, however, drift off into a stream-of-consciousness style every once in a while when he thought of going to bed with Catherine.



The futility of war is a big theme in A Farewell to Arms. Some of things that happen seem pointless and, if it wasn’t so terrible, ridiculous. Not only did I feel that Hemingway felt war was pointless but life as well. Often he says “they get you in the end”. No wonder he had the life he did.



So, I’m not a big fan of Hemingway and I only read this with my book club. I’ve never liked him since grade 10 and The Old Man and the Sea so I guess I’m biased and you shouldn’t listen to me. If you like the guy, have at it. It’s apparently his best work.




2/5

January 23, 2007

The Votes Are In!

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My online bookclub, The Classics Club has just voted for our March, April and May selection. And the winners are:







  • Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe


  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


  • Vanity Fair by William Thackery




I've read Vanity Fair at least twice. It's one of my favorites so I'm looking forward to sharing it with my Book Friends. I love to hate Becky, what a character.





I've seen the Moll Flanders movie. I kind of remember it. It will be interesting. The full title is, get this, "The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who was born in Newgate, and during a life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums." Whew! What's left to say?!





I'm curious about Lolita. The subject makes my skin crawl but I want to see what the fuss is about. I keep hearing that line from The Police song, "Don't Stand So Close To Me": Just like the old man in, That book by nabakov. And of course the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. It might make sense to read Lolita first.





Right now we're reading A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway and next month The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, which I read last year.





January 22, 2007

The Robber Bride TV Movie (CBC)

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By total fluke, I watched "The Robber Bride" on the CBC last night. When I saw that it was going to be on, I thought, "I'll see what this is all about." I ended up being glued to the TV.

The movie is based on the 1993 Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. I bought that book (and it was signed) for 50 cents at a library book sale (Yah! Me!). Sometimes you just get lucky- I have yet to read to though. I might now have to move it up the TBR list. Anyway, the movie stars Mary Louise Parker as Zenia a devious yet charming liar who appears to have been murdered by her boyfriend. John Grismer (Shawn Doyle) is an insurance investigator, and friend of the alleged murderer who is trying to get to the bottom of things. (BTW, Grismer was never a character in the novel). His snooping leads him to three of Zenia's friends who appear to be celebrating her death, all who have been betrayed in different ways by her. In true Atwood style, nothing is as it seems.

I thought the acting was terrific, especially for a made-for-tv movie. Mary Louise Parker was absolutely gorgeous, and sympathetic while being completely Evil. I did have a few questions that might be answered by reading the book, for example, why did the women in this story do what they did for her for so long? Was it really because as Wendy Crewson puts it "is my friend"? And where the heck did that finger come from?

January 21, 2007

Just Discovered Book Trailers

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I was web surfing (aka wasting time) when I came across something interesting on a book store's website. The site was The Inside Story which had "book trailers" for some of their books, including The Birth House by Amy Mckay. I never heard of such a thing before! I was impressed, actually, by the one for The Birth House, a book I would like to read this year some time.

A little more searching and I found this article: On a screen near you... from The Observer. Apparently, it's the newest thing in book publishing, although some authors debate it's effectiveness. It got my attention. Now I want to see a trailer for everything, lol!

So, do you think you would buy a book based on a book trailer?

January 20, 2007

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She's Baaaackkk!

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To her book club anyway. Oprah will be announcing her lastest addition to her book club this coming Friday. I have no idea what it might be. Another Classic like Anna Karenina? A new author? Probably not a memoir- epp!




I haven't read all her books. Some of the subject matter is rather depressing. The ones I enjoyed were:




  • Anna Karenina


  • Where the Heart Is


  • Tara Road


  • Poisonwood Bible


  • Open House


I have "Cane River" somewhere is the pile but haven't read it. I can't believe the number of books there is! I was surprised at the list on her site . There are a few I forgot about and would like to read. Man, that TBR pile just keeps getting bigger.

January 17, 2007

Literary Lovers

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What's a good story without a good hero? Sometimes a fictional man is all a woman needs. Afterall, they don't leave dirty underwear all over the floor. So, I thought I'd list the literary heroes that I love:


Jamie Fraser (The Outlander Series, Diana Gabaldon):The Outlander Series is the thinking woman’s romance. Our Highland hero is brave, noble and sexy. He’s so good looking both women and men desire him. An educated man, he is at home in places like King Louis’s court, when he’s not swinging a broadsword. And that accent! No wonder Claire would cross time just to be with him.




  • Dr Stephen Maturin (Aubrey/Maturin Series, Patrick O’Brian): Why do I like the good doctor and not his particular friend, the heroic Jack Aubrey? I’ve always liked an intelligent man and he’s smarter than most. Not to mention, he has that International Man of Mystery vibe- spy, outlaw, philosopher and naturalist. He’s an excellent surgeon, although his bedside manner needs work. He can do much better than that Villiers chick.


  • Mr Edward Fairfax Rochester (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte): The ultimate Byronic hero, the dark and brooding Edward Rochester lives alone just waiting for a woman like Jane. Rich, intelligent, he might have a face like a brick, (“Do you think me handsome, Miss Eyre?”) but when he tells Jane he loves her and gives her that kiss… well, hello!


  • Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen): Oh, Mr Darcy! How we love him. At first, misunderstood, in fact we think he’s a jerk, but he fully redeems himself at the end. He sees that Elizabeth is a special woman, even when no one else appreciates her. He’s the kind of guy, who rides in on a white horse to set everything right.


  • Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte): Like Cher, he only needs one name. Ok, so he’s a little evil, but you got to admire his devotion to his one and only true love, Cathy.

    Who makes your list? Is the poetic soul of Dr Zhivago your guy? The roguish Rhett Butler? Or do you just want a good time with someone like Tom Jones?

Snow

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January 16, 2007

A Change Will Do You Good

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You may have noticed that I changed the template for my page. I didn't like the look of the old one, after I saw it on another computer- or maybe I got bored of it! Oh, well. I like this look (at least for now). And like a woman, I reserve the right to change my mind.

January 15, 2007

Monday Musings

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Let's see....

  • Child has a cold so I kept her home from Preschool. Still have to pay $17.50 for the day but I guess it was better than worrying about her. Of course, that throws off the plans for the day and it took some juggling to get it all done.
  • Snow is coming tonight and the grocery store was crazy! You'd think no one had ever seen snow before. I guess I was there too so I'm just as bad. (But I needed those things). Sometimes I think I'm there everyday!
  • Made Ginger Beef with Egg Noodles and Snap Peas from The Dinner Fix. Very good, but next time I'll add more water (the noodles were a little hard).
  • Made a trip to storage to get my books on the weekend. I think dh has conspired against me. I only found one box of books by accident- I was standing on it- the rest are stuck in the corner, behind and underneath everything. At least, I assume they're there. Despite marking all boxes carefully on 2 sides, the marked sides somehow all face the wall. They might have anything in them. Oh and Note to Self: bring flashlight next time. I wasn't very pleased but dh doesn't understand my need for my books. I'll have to make do with what I found for now: O, Pioneers!, Vanity Fair, and Mansfield Park.

January 13, 2007

The Handmaid's Tale: Not For the Faint of Heart

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Hurray! I just finished my first book for the Challenge: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is a multi-award winning novel that was made into a movie in 1990.

It is a dystopian (anti-utopian) novel set in Gilead, the former USA. Congress has been murdered, the constitution thrown out, by religious zealots. Women no longer have any rights, even reading is forbidden. The current “government” has divided women into groups. The Wives are the wives of the elite. Marthas, the maids, and Handmaids are for breeding. Pollution of the planet has caused high rates of infertility and birth defects. Young women, especially mothers, are prized for their fertility, and are held captive by elite males hoping to have children. But what is worse is to be an Unwoman, either old or infertile, who end up working in “The Colonies” disposing of bodies or toxic waste. This is the horrifying world Offred lives in.

Offred is a Handmaid, it is her tale. She tells of her life before the coup, with a husband, a daughter, a mother and a career. She relives the night she was captured and her retraining at the Red Center. This is her second try at being a Handmaiden, if she isn’t pregnant soon she fears what will happen to her.

It’s written like a diary, so we only know what Offred knows, which isn’t much, and we can only speculate if what she sees and hears is truth or rumour.

There are going to be people who hate this book, I know. It is a big question mark, there are many unknowns, even though Atwood does answer some later. But I know that a lot of readers like things to be wrapped up at the end and that isn’t really the point of the book. We’re supposed to question how this happened and could it happen to us. Of course, all over the world things like this have happened and will happen again. It scares me to think you could wake up and suddenly you are without rights, hardly even a human. Atwood seems to say that this has happened slowly over time, with hardly anyone noticing at first, before it’s too late to do anything about it.

Another thing I noticed was how the leaders used the women’s fears against them to say that this was a better way, they would be protected now, from the rape and other crimes against women. They justified the horrible things they were doing.

This novel was often hard to read, for me especially when she talked about her child, who was the same age as my child when she was taken from her. It often felt hopeless and full of despair. The women’s own attitude towards each other was also aggravating. They were hostile to one another, blaming each other for their situation instead of banding together (unfortunately, true now). Still, the writing was engaging and poetic, it helps that Atwood is a poet as well as novelist.



For me, I can say that this book will stay with me for a while. I know I will see echoes of it on the news and in the newspapers. I will think about it when I go to the store, put on lipstick, hug my kid, read a book…

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Wendy @ Caribousmom

January 11, 2007

Read Any Good Cookbooks Lately?

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Yesterday, I received a new cookbook I ordered: The Dinner Fix by Sandi Richard. My sister-in-law swears by this woman. I think she'd start a fan club, if she had the time. I thought I'd buy this new book and try it out.

The reason why my very busy, working-mom, sister-in-law loves these books, is the same reason Sandi Richard wrote them. Sandi was a frazzled mom of seven (yes, I said seven) who used frozen meals and take out to feed her family. She felt guilty about it, but could she do about it? Who has the time? She had an ephipany at the doctor's office and decided to go about solving the problem of stressful supper times. She started her own business making meal plans and writing cookbooks. Now she has her own show on Canada's Food Network.

So, why are her books different? Just like the Boy Scouts, it's about being prepared. The book is broken into Weekly Menus- five meals a week. This way, you don't have to wonder at 5 pm what you're going to have for supper. At the back of the book and on her website, she has grocery lists for the weekly menu. She says to print them out- laminate them- and take them to the store, so shopping is easy. The directions are simple; the ingredient list is written to the right of instructions. Most meals take 15-20 to prepare, are healthy, and easy to make.

My sister-in-law warns that most of the meals are spicy. A lot of the recipes in this book are Indian, Mexican and Thai. I'm willing to try something different. Menu Week 10 looks interesting. Mmmmm...Chicken Spring Rolls! I'll give them a try over the next few weeks and let you know what I think.

Here's Sandi Richard's website:

http://www.cookingfortherushed.com/index.htm

So, does anyone have a favorite recipe book that they couldn't do without?

January 10, 2007

Finally!

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So, I finally got started on my first book of the TBR Challenge: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's not light reading even though it's hard to put down. The setting is the near future, the planet is polluted and the birth rate has dropped. The solution? Divide women into groups: Wives, Marthas and Handmaids. The Handmaids are for breeding. It's told from the point of view of a Handmaid named Offred (Of- Fred). I'll give more info after I finish it.

It's giving me strange dreams!

Anyway, I'm not much in the writing mood the last couple of days. I can hardly write a Post-It. I'm not really sure why. Just not in the mood, I guess. Hopefully, I'll get over it.

January 8, 2007

The Boleyn Inheritance: A Review

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I finished reading The Boleyn Inheritance on Saturday night. I found it hard to put down.



I’ll try to explain briefly what the story is about. Rotting on his throne, Henry the 8th has formed an alliance with Cleves by agreeing to marry the innocent, young Anne: the second Anne, the first being Anne Boleyn beheaded for treason, adultery and other crimes. Anne of Cleves is anxious to leave her oppressive mother and brother, unaware of the dangerous situation awaiting her in the Tudor Court. Spies and plots are everywhere and she is unequipped to deal with them. The Duke of Norfolk, puppet master of the Howard family and King, has sent his spy, Jane Boleyn, to watch for any opportunity to break up this marriage and throw another “Howard girl” under the feet of the lustful King. He doesn’t have long to wait. Anne is not pleasing to the king with her frumpy gowns and lack of charm. His eye falls on Katherine Howard, a pretty, empty headed fourteen year old child. The Duke uses the three women ruthlessly for his own gain, making promises and threats to position himself as the most powerful man in England.



The novel is narrated by the three women. We get to see their own points of view, their ambitions, fears and doubts. Anne is seen as a fool, but through her eyes we see how everyone has underestimated her. Jane, the sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn, is haunted by the memory of her disgraced family and her part in their destruction. Katherine is a silly thing but she knows just the right things to say to the deluded king.



Gregory paints Henry as an self-absorbed fool. Although he claims that he can see all things through God’s will, he is so easily distracted by flattery he cannot see he is being conned. His courtiers who use him are also in fear of his unpredictable temper and love of the axeman. He has become a paranoid madman.



The Duke of Norfolk is a truly evil villain and I shudder to think that he was a real person. If I was a Howard mother with a daughter, I’d send to a nunnery before he could get his hands on her. They are all disposable to the Duke. You would think the Howards had children just to throw them at the king. I’d like to see Gregory write a novel from the Duke’s point-of-view. I’d love to see her take on why he was so awful.



Even though The Boleyn Inheritance is over 500 pages, it’s a quick read. It’s suspenseful to the end, where we find out what the inheritance really is. Having read the whole Tudor series, I’d rate it second to The Other Boleyn Girl but way ahead of The Constant Princess and The Virgin’s Lover.



Definitely a must read for Gregory fans.

January 5, 2007

Banished Words

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I found this funny list of words people want banished.

http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

Can't help but agree will a lot of them, like the celebrity names. If I hear "Brangelina" one more time, I'm going to scream. The last one "Boasts" is my favorite though. As someone who just sold a house, this is so timely. No, you don't see 'bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum' very often!

One that wasn't there but drives me crazy is 'bling'. At first, I thought it was cute, I even used it myself, but now it's so overused. I swear one of these days I'm going to turn on the news and some reporter in a pink suit is going to be saying, "A local bling store was robbed last night. Thousands of dollars in bling was reportedly stolen." Like fingernails on a chalk board...

Do you have a suggestion for the banished word list?

Oh and thanks to everyone who posted comments the last couple of days!

January 4, 2007

False Start

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Ok, so I found out that The Boleyn Inheritance doesn't count toward the challenge b/c it hasn't been on my TBR list for 6 mths (D'oh!). Oh well, I'll finish it first and pick something else later. I'll have to update the list too.

I've added Lady of the Sea by Rosalind Miles. It's the last in Tristan & Isolde trilogy. I wanted to read the books after I saw the movie "Tristan & Isolde". I loved that movie. The books, however, are a bit disappointing. Now I feel like I have to finish them since I started.

I also put Willa Cather's O Pioneers on the list. I saw a documentary about her on PBS. She was an unique person to say the least. I'm interested to see what her writing is like. I know I have that book packed away in a box somewhere, along with half the others! I'm going to have to make a trip to storage.

Some of my books I physically own but others I just have written down on a piece of paper crammed in a drawer. Mostly, I scribbled the titles down after a friend has mentioned it or I saw it online or on TV. I either have to buy them or get them from the library.

So, if anyone is reading this, what counts as your TBR read? Is it one of those books on your shelf you can't find the time to read or one of those books you meant to pick up after your Mom or Oprah recommended it? A series you never finished? A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't? Let me know.

January 3, 2007

Out of the Gates

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I've started my first book for the challenge: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. It's 514 pages long but I'm hoping it will be a quick read. I've read all the others in the Tudor Court Series. The Other Boleyn Girl was the best. The rumour is that it is being made into a movie with Scarlett Johannsen. I'm sure it will be beautiful.

The Boleyn Inheritance is pretty good so far. It's about three women in Henry the 8th's court after the fall of Anne Boleyn: Anne of Cleves, the future wife of Henry, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn, her maids-in-waiting.

I feel very sorry for Anne who has to marry the disgusting king. Katherine seems like a 16th century bubblehead and I'm not sure about Jane yet.

January 2, 2007

Blogging?

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Hello, I'm a newbie to the blogging world (can't you tell?). Please have some patience as I get the hang of things.

My purpose for blogging is to join the TBR challenge a fellow bookie mentioned. The challenge is to read 12 books on your To Be Read (TBR) pile: books you always wanted to read or just never got around to reading. Being a compulsive book buyer (or hoarder), I have a mountain to read.

What can I say about myself? I'm a stay at home Mom to an active 4 year old girl. Obviously, I'm a big reader. The last book I read was "The Shadow of the Wind", a great read. It's a book about a book and some serious bookaholics! It's a great mystery, if that's what you're into. I belong to an online book club: The Classic Club. We read one Classic a month. Right now it's
"A Farewell to Arms". I also love to Scrapbook.

Right now, I'm "between houses". I sold my last house and am now living with my mil- in her basement anyway. It's...umm...cozy. I can see a lot of reading getting done through the winter!