October 31, 2007

Done: RIP2 Challenge

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Hurray! I just finished Great Irish Tales of Horror a few minutes ago. A perfect read for Halloween. Lots of spooky stories from great writers. Arachnophobia was a particularly good one. There's a story for every taste, from the realistic to the silly.

So I'm officially done the RIP2 Challenge. Here's how I did:

  • The House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier
  • The Thirteenth Tale (was an alternate for 20th Century Ghosts) by Diane Setterfield
  • Don't Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne DuMaurier
  • Great Irish Tales of Horror edited by Peter Haining
I loved this Challenge. Carl is an amazing host. And I even won something! So fun! Can't wait for next October.

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2007

Love in the Time of Cholera

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My book club recently finished Love in the Time of Cholera by Garbriel Garcia Marquez and quite a few of the members think it's the best thing since sliced bread. So, I wonder what the heck is wrong with me?

Florentino Ariza falls in love with the icy Fermina Daza, wooing her through letters. Love is the wrong word: obsessed is more accurate. He makes himself sick with longing for her. She finally succumbs to Florentino's relentless pursuit and agrees to marry him. But Daddy Daza steps in and sends Fermina away where she continues a correspondence with Florentino. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder for Fermina and she throws him over, marries a doctor and lives a comfortable life for 50 years. In the meantime, Florentino replaces his romantic love with a succession of floosies, married women and pretty much anything in a skirt. Until one day the patient Florentino hears of the death of the doctor and takes it from where he left off more than 50 years ago.

I enjoyed the beginning. The characters, the atmosphere, everything was so well written, but Florentino turns into such a dirty old pervert that I was quite disgusted with him. I got tired of reading about all his humping around. He's the male Moll Flanders. I never really warmed up to Fermina, although I did love her stubbornness in a time where women were second class citizens.

I can't pinpoint exactly why I feel the way I do. It's totally personal and in no way reflects the beautiful writing. And you all will probably love it too. I'm the weirdo.

I also hated Wuthering Heights when I first read it. It's a favorite of mine now, so maybe I'll grow to love Love in the Time of Cholera.

3/5

Also Reviewed By: Chris @ Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
Marg @ Reading Adeventures
Nymeth @ Things Mean a Lot

Karen E Olson: Blog Tour

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During the week of November 5-11, Karen E Olson will be running a blog tour to promote her new book Dead of the Day. On November 9 (Friday) she'll be here, guest hosting on my blog! I've never had a guest blogger before, so I'm pretty excited. Also, during that week, I'll be posting my reviews of a couple of her books. I hope you'll all pop in.

If you don't know, Karen writes mysteries and Dead of the Day is the third in the Annie Seymour series. Here's the list of appearances for the blog tour on Karen's website.

Also, you can buy Karen's books on Amazon:

October 28, 2007

Don't Look Now and Other Stories: Review

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I finally finished this book of short stories by Daphne DuMaurier for the RIP 2 Challenge. She's become one of my favorite authors since starting the challenge.

The short stories are actually fairly long, most being 20 pages or so. As I read each story over the last few weeks, I reviewed each in their own post. You can find them here:

Don't Look Now
A Borderline Case
The Breakthrough
The Way of the Cross

The final one for me is Not After Midnight. In this story, a teacher at a boys' school leaves his job because of an 'ailment' that haunts him. He developed this disease after a trip to Crete to indulge in his only hobby: painting. After he's disappointed by the view from the chalet he's renting, he convinces the staff to open a vacant chalet far from the main building- one in which a man who recently drowned was staying. He witnesses the unusual comings and goings of an apparent drunk and his deaf wife. By the end of the story, the bizarre couple, the island's mythology and the dead man all come together in the most confusing conclusion of the collection. I only have a vague idea of the teacher's disease and was left scratching my head over this one. It had great potential but fell short of what I thought it should be.

Overall, the stories were hit and miss. The cast of characters were ordinary people with various annoying personalities, like real people. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. DuMaurier is a great story teller and this one is worth reading. You're sure to find at least one gem here.

4/5

Also Reviewed by: Puss Reboots

October 27, 2007

Anne of the Island (#3): Review

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Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery is the third of the Anne of Green Gable series. Anne has put off teaching to pursue university life. Anne, Prissy Grant, Gilbert Blythe, and Charlie Sloane head to Redmond College in Kingsport, Nova Scotia to study for their B.A.'s. Being Anne, she finds more than her fair share of adventures.

The title really should be Anne of the Many Proposals. She's proposed to six times by my count! Some of them quite funny. Poor Anne has all her illusions shattered in the romance department. But in the end she finds out what love really means.

Anne of the Island is a series of vignettes that range from the touching (the death of a friend) to the humourous (the Baking Powder short story or Davy's letters). It spans the whole three years she spends at university with visits to Avonlea. I enjoyed most of these scenes although the whole "how to kill a cat" incident didn't do well with age (don't worry. The cat is fine). It's definitely a story of it's era. It was a pleasant visit to a more innocent time.
4/5

October 25, 2007

Meet Gourdie Poppet

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I'm so excited! My poppet arrived in the mail. At first, I was going to name him Pumpkin but he's so tiny I'm naming him Gourdie instead. Isn't he cute?


And he arrived with all that you see here. I'm very impressed.

Booking Through Thursday: Read With Abandon?

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Booking Through Thursday

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader
I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


I don't like to abandon books. Occasionally one will suffer from neglect though. If I don't finish it, I truly believe I'll come back to it someday. So, they end up on the shelf with a crumpled bookmark sticking out of the top, gathering dust and looking oh so sad. Sometimes I pick them up again but mostly I think, "Some other day." My neglected books include:
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James: I found out later after reading "The Wings of a Dove" why I gave up on it. I don't like James.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: I have no idea why I put this one back. I have to pick it up soon.
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte: I don't think I was in the mood for it at the time.
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George: I gave up after Ceasar died. It really didn't grab me.

I can't think of any I've abandoned completely. Luckily, I haven't found one that bad yet.

October 24, 2007

Go Outside Already!

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Scribbit continues her Halloween theme during her Winter Bizarre. Today my suggestion is Go Leafing! Not so Halloweeny but timely. I'm lucky. Fall goes out in a blaze of oranges and reds where I live. Just today my island was mentioned in this travel article: Canada's Top Fall Foliage Spots. If you're lucky enough to have that spectacular change in your area, take advantage. Those colours don't last long! Walk around the neighbourhood, or you can do like I do and plan a day trip.

Taking a drive in the country is the easiest way but you can also hike. Throw the kids in the car, fill up the tank and head out. Just bring plenty of snacks and tunes. For a more adventurous outing, take a hike. I've done this and it is possible with little ones. Even babies (if you're up to it, there are those baby backpack thingies!). Pick an easy trail, though if you have preschoolers. Here's a Mom's survival guide:
  • Know the trail. How long is the trail? How difficult?Are there outhouses? Picnic tables? A goal to reach like a cavern or waterfall? Any hazards? Local bookstores sell guides or look online for tourism information.
  • Bring sunscreen and bug spray. Usually, this isn't a problem in fall, but you never know.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Bring water and/or snacks.
  • Make sure everyone pees before you go!
  • Wear good walking shoes, preferably waterproof them.
  • Bring a camera for pics of the foliage and camera hogs.
  • Keep an extra pair of socks, pants, etc in the car, because you never know who's going to take a tumble.
  • Be prepared to carry someone. If the trail is long, you will hear that familiar whine, "I'm so tired. Carry me!"
  • Carry a cell phone just in case you have an emergency.

I love Fall Hikes! It's a great opportunity to teach the kids about nature. Have fun!

October 22, 2007

Short Story Monday: The Way of the Cross

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Short Story Monday


The Way of the Cross by Daphne DuMaurier is the last in her book of short stories Don't Look Now and Other Stories. I think I enjoyed this one the most. A group of Brits travels to Jerusalem on a tour organised by their Vicar. Before landing, the Vicar falls ill leaving an inexperienced parson, Rev. Edward Babcock, in charge. Babcock doesn't want to be in charge of this group of people he doesn't even like. They are tourists, not pilgrims, and all suffer the sin of pride, even the Reverend. Colonel Mason loves to tell stories of his glory days in the army. His wife, Lady Althea is vain and self-important. Jim Foster is a sexist businessman. His long suffering wife likes to make people feel guilty about the poverty in the world although she wears a fur coat. The Smiths are a newlywed couple with bedroom problems. Miss Dean is a spinster with a very different idea of Jerusalem than the bustling city of pilgrims and shopkeepers. Joining the Masons are their precocious nine year old grandson, Robin. He's the only one who's enjoying himself, taking in the sights and the history, while the rest think about themselves and their own disappointments. Unintentionally, they overhear things about themselves they never wanted to know. On a day trip, to the Way of the Cross each one experiences a humiliating event that humbles them and draws them closer as people.

This story is different than the others. There is no hint of the macabre. Everything that happens to the tourists is something that could happen to anyone of us. Each of these people, believing themselves to be above others in the human race end up having very human experiences. The pilgrims humble themselves in the Holy Land. The tourists become humble. The writing reminds me why I enjoy DuMaurier so much.

John from The Book Mine Set invited me to host this week's Short Story Monday. If you've reviewed a short story this week, please leave a link:



Note: Grr! Mr Linky is acting flaky. If he's not working leave a link in the comments. Thanks.

October 21, 2007

All the Bunnies are Sleeping

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The Read-a-thon is over and everyone is probably in bed. Check The Hidden Side of the Leaf for all the highlights, contests, etc. Give a big shout out to Dewey for the great hosting job!

October 20, 2007

Give me an R....

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Here's some encouragement for all you Readers!
Give me an R...
Give me an E...

Give me an A...


Thanks Dewey for mentioning my hosting Short Story Monday. If you'd like to leave a link here now, I'll make sure I post it on Monday.




Give me an D...
What's that spell? Read! Read! Read!
Hurray!


Whew! Read-a-thon

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My pompoms are getting tired! lol! I don't know how anyone could read with all the blogging going on. I think I've visited everyone though I couldn't comment on a couple of sites. I hope everyone is having fun. I think I might do some of my own reading now.

Readers of the Hour

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A mini-challenge from Dewey: Readers of the Hour.


Athena at aquatique.net is reading First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. I read the Eyre Affair. What a fun read!

Becky from Becky's Books is reading An Unlikely Friendship: A novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. Unfortunately, there is something on Becky's page though that my computer doesn't like. I'm having problems with it.

Read-a-thon Day

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Today's the big day. The 24 hour Read-a-thon has started over at The Hidden Side of the Leaf. Already some readers are up and at it. I'm a Cheerleader so I'll be visiting blogs throughout the day.

Good luck to all Readers!!!

October 18, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Typography

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You may or may not have seen my post at Punctuality Rules Tuesday, about a book I recently bought that had the actual TITLE misspelled on the spine of the book. A glaring typographical error that really (really!) should have been caught. So, using that as a springboard, today’s question: What’s the worst typographical error you’ve ever found in (or on) a book? Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I've seen a few hear and their in books. Sometimes it gets on my nerves, but usually I can get over it. My local newspaper is notorious for it though. I once saw 'weather' used for 'whether' in a headline. Since I don't have a lot to say about this, watch this: The Impotence of Proofreading.

October 17, 2007

Halloween Tree

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Scribbit continues the Winter Bizarre. If you have a Halloween project on your blog, give her the link.
Here's my contribution, Halloween Tree.



It's not hard to do but has several parts. First, what you need:

From the Dollarama (or other dollar store):
  • a plastic pumpkin pail
  • mini spider webs with spiders
  • foam cutouts
  • plastic skulls
  • Halloween scrapbooking supplies (ribbon, paper, stickers, etc)

From the Hardware Store:

  • insulating foam
  • black spray paint
  • glitter spray paint
  • sphagnum moss

From Around the House:

  • Tree branch (don't use birch- too fragile)
  • cardboard
  • mod podge
  • foam brushes
  • photos
  • rocks
  • candy corn

What You Do:

(The Tree) First, spray the branch black. It may take several coats. Let dry thoroughly. Place heavy stones in bottom of pail. Put the branch in center of pail. Secure (so it won't tip over). Fill pail with foam. The foam will expand so you may have to tidy it up later. Let dry completely. Place sphagnum moss over foam. Toss candy corn on top.


(Ornaments): Glitter Spray foam cut outs on one side. Dry. Make a hanger with ribbon. Mod Podge foam cut outs on unglittered side. Sandwich ribbon between 2 (of the same) foam cut outs. (See pic on right).

Mod Podge scrapbook paper, stickers, photos of Halloweens Past on to one side of several 2-4 inch square pieces of cardboard. Let Dry. Glue 2 squares together, sandwiching ribbon hangers between them.

Finishing Touch:

Hang handmade ornaments, skulls. Spread webs and place spiders in web. Find somewhere safe to display.

Happy Halloween!!!!

October 16, 2007

What Time Is It?

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It's Carnival time! This is the Life is hosting this month's Bookworm Carnival, all about spooky things. If you're in the mood to be scared, check it out. Next month John at The Book Mine Set is hosting. If you have a short story post send it his way.

October 14, 2007

A Borderline Case: Short Story Review

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Yet another short story from Daphne DuMaurier. In this one, Shelagh, a young actress is witness to the sudden death of her father. As if waking from a nightmare, he calls her name, his face a mask of horror. She is shocked and disturbed by this reaction and goes over and over his last few minutes. What had she done? Why did he look at her that way?

Her father in his last moments makes an offhand comment about trying to make amends with an old friend in Ireland. They had a falling out after he refused to recommend the man for a job. Shelagh impulsively travels to Ireland to find the man, a man her father called a borderline case. She finds out more than she ever wanted to know.

This story is much better than The Breakthrough. It's suspenseful and mysterious with a twist at the end. Shelagh is a Daddy's girl and the way it all plays out is quite brilliant (and icky).

October 11, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Live and In-Person

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I said in August, when we talked about fan mail, that I planned on expanding that to live meetings when the time was right. Well, that time is now!
  • Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph?
  • How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to?
  • How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

This question makes me blue! No, I've never even been to a book signing. I feel so lame. The closest I came to it was when the local weather man was signing his new book at the mall. He looked so sad and lonely, sitting and playing with his pen waiting for someone to talk to him. I felt bad but didn't want his book so I snuck into the bookstore without him seeing me.

I wish I could meet my favorite authors though!

October 10, 2007

Colour Me Stupid

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Through the Smart Bitches I found out the crazy book burning lady from Friday's post was a hoax by the Lemony Snicket publicity people: Art Science. My only defense is that I didn't check out the crazy lady's website which is too cheesy to be real. Apparently, many newspapers were taken in as well. I was appalled by the idea of book burning. Considering we just had Banned Books week, I think they went too far. Banning and burning aren't something to treated lightly and I think a story like this takes away from the real stories of people trying to keep To Kill a Mockingbird and Where's Waldo? out of the hands of children.

October 9, 2007

The Canadian Book Challenge

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Whew! I'm recovering from all that turkey yesterday. I hope my fellow Canadians had a great Thanksgiving weekend. For me, it's one of my favorite holidays, since it doesn't involve crazy shoppers at the mall.

Anyway, I had a look at my bookshelves for The Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John at The Book Mine Set:

Ok, there's only 10 but A Fine Balance has to count for 4. It's huge! And what scientific method did I use to chose these books? The What-Ever-I-Saw-Was-On-My-Shelf Method. 5 are from Ontario, 2 are Atwood's and 2 are about India in some way.

This should be fun!

Oh, and here's a little geography lesson from Bob & Doug MacKenzie (I'm glad they remembered the Maritimes). I figure it's appropriate for the challenge. (hehe)


October 7, 2007

The Breakthrough: Short Story Review

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The Breakthrough is the second short story in Daphne DuMaurier's Don't Look Now and Other Stories. Stephen Saunders is an engineer who is sent to work on a secret experiment. The experiment involves a computer that hypnotises a dying boy in hopes of finding out what's on the other side. It's like Flatliner's but lamer. I do enjoy DuMaurier's writing style but this one didn't do it for me. Maybe it was a bit dated.

My Heart's In the Highlands

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My family went leafing this weekend. Leafing is basically driving around looking at the fall colours. It was a great day Saturday even though it was very windy. I always forget how harrowing the drive up Smokey is, especially for a passenger. One mistake and you'll very quickly meet the ocean. I held my breath the whole way up.

On Top of Cape Smokey. The look-off from Cape Smokey gives a spectacular view.

Did you ever feel really, really small? That's a whole lot of ocean!


The rocks below. The wind is so strong it's pushing the waves back out to sea.

The Keltic Lodge from Ingonish Beach. I'd need to be a lot richer to stay there.


The kid on Ingonish Beach.

There was quite a bit of traffic, a lot of tourists, in the Highlands. The Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to "do the trail" (the Cabot Trail) and look at the changing leaves. I saw plates from all Maritime provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and states like Florida, Ohio and Maine. We passed a lot of tour buses and RVs. We only did a part of the trail ourselves. I suspect a lot of the tourists are also here for the Celtic Colours Festival.

October 4, 2007

An Infamous Army: Review

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An Infamous Army is the first book I've read from Georgette Heyer, the historical novelist. First published in 1937, Heyer's novels are now being released by Sourcebooks.

The Infamous Army of the title is led by the Duke of Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo. Much of the novel revolves around Lady Barbara Childe (Bab to her friends). She can best be described as the Paris Hilton of her day. Everything she does is scandalous, but she does it with such style that the other ladies are envious of her boldness. She flirts her way through the young officers stationed in Brussels awaiting war with Napoleon. She breaks hearts until she meets Colonel Charles Audley and finds she's met her match but of course things don't go as planned.

A complete 180 from the romance and glitz of the balls is the gore and carnage of the war. On June 15, 1815 right in the middle of a party, war is declared and the ladies are left wondering if their sweethearts, sons and brothers will come back to them alive. I've read both War & Peace and Vanity Fair but neither described the battles with as much bloody realism as Heyer does. Sometimes, for my own taste, Heyer went into the description of the battle too much. I couldn't follow who was where and what manoeuvres were done when. I'm not big on war stories. But the sights and the sounds of the battlefield brought me there with Wellington and his men.

The research for this novel must have been phenomenal: the clothes, the manners, the battle, very vividly written. I had trouble with all the Lord So-and-so's and Lady Who-what's-its but figured them out eventually. Plus, all the Brits were so heroic, I had a moment of irritation with them all. But I suppose the novel is a product of it's time.

This was a big book at 485 pages but all in all I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of her novels.

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Marg @ Reading Adventures

Booking Through Thursday: Decorum

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Booking Through Thursday

Do you have “issues” with too much profanity or overly explicit (ahem) “romantic” scenes in books? Or do you take them in stride? Have issues like these ever caused you to close a book? Or do you go looking for more exactly like them? (grin)

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


Great question and very appropriate for Banned Books Week.

I don't think I have a problem with either of those. I have never said, "Oh the horror!" and closed the book. I have rolled my eyes and said, "Oh come on now! No way you can do that" over some more silly sex scenes. Sometimes an author can give a little too much information in that area though and it gets a little icky. But if done the right way it can add a lot to the reading experience.

Some authors are magicians at not saying anything and it still gets yucky. Take Lolita, for example, no profanity, but the subject matter is very controversial. Nabokov writes so vaguely that you get a hint of something indecent but you really can't say for sure. Great book, by the way.

As for swearing, it doesn't really bother me because people swear in real life. Sometimes a character is upset or angry and it's understandable. I don't like 'a swear' for every second word. They're like adverbs and adjectives: use sparingly. Too many and it's just filler, doesn't add to plot or character development, and is tedious to read.

For me, it's not a matter of decorum, I guess, but good writing.

October 3, 2007

Halloween Decorating

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Scribbit is hosting a Winter Bazaar for which she asks for posts related to a monthly theme. This month it's Halloween. Just yesterday afternoon, I came up with this outdoor decoration. It's not rocket science, but here it is:
  • the planter, previously filled with summer annuals, is filled with soil
  • a couple of bamboo stakes are in the center for support
  • 6 corn stalks are tied around the stakes with twine and stuck into the soil. The twine is hidden by corn leaves
  • a tree branch is also pushed into the soil
  • garlands of leaves are twisted around the stalks
  • the ghosts: small styrofoam balls are covered with plastic kitchen bag (cut into 4 squares) held by twist ties
  • a garden glove stuffed with grocery bags is stuck into the soil by a bamboo stake (Dead gardener just couldn't let go!)
  • finally, gourds and pine cones finish it all off!

October 1, 2007

Feeling...October-ish

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October is here! It's one of my favorite months. Some of my favorite people were born in this month (lucky ducks!) I love the chill in the air and the colours...oh, the colours here are spectacular. The trees tart it up in October before the November winds strip them bare. The oranges, reds, yellows. We're so proud of our fall colours here we have a music festival in celebration: Celtic Colours.


October hadn't even started, but I just had to make the annual trip to the farm for pumpkins. As usual, we picked out our pumpkins, straw bales, corn stalks and then did the corn maze. I don't think we've made it through the whole thing yet! It's a lot of fun. This year, on the way to the farm, I spotted a fantastic Pumpkin U-Pick and let the kiddie pick her own. The lady there had the best variety: white (ghost) ones, Cinderella pumpkins, blue ones, tiny ones. I was in pumpkin heaven.



Now I have to make my pumpkin display. I've been going through all my Martha Stewart magazines to get ideas. I share my love of Martha with Carl. Martha knows Halloween!




In Canada, Thanksgiving is next Monday. My husband and I love Thanksgiving. It's the one time we enjoy making a big, complicated meal. I've bought my turkey and hubby will make pumpkin pies. I'm thinking of making a spice cake too (thanks Martha). I've already made ginger cookies in the shape of pumpkins and ghosts. Today I bought black and orange sugar for the kid to decorate them.


And since it's also Breast Cancer Awareness month, I had to buy my pink M&M's to support the cause. Check out their Pass the Pink campaign.


Does anyone else love October as much as I do?! I hope you get inspired to do something fallish this month. Before you know it dreary November will be here.