Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Spotlight - The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns

The Settling Earth is a Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns.

Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant - The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers' attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities - these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

Amazon Links:

The author's website:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift - Book Spotlight, Interview, and Giveaway

About The Book
Title: Shadow on the Highway

Author: Deborah Swift
Genre: Historical Romance

May 1651. 

England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. 
The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army. 

Abigail Chaplin, a young deaf girl, has lost her father to the parliamentarian cause. 

But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to work as a servant at a royalist household - the estate of Lady Katherine Fanshawe. 

Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. 

The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night. 

Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? 

How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? 

And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Silent Highwayman? 

‘Shadow On The Highway’ is based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the highwaywoman, sometimes known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. It is the first book in ‘The Highway Trilogy’. 

Praise for Deborah Swift: 

‘There is no greater compliment than “Give me more!”’ - Susanna Gregory 

‘realistic dialogue, an author’s obvious love for history, and characters that leap off the pages’ - Romance Reviews Today 

‘genuinely engrossing… with characters you can get interested in’ - The Mum Website 

Deborah Swift lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District. She teaches classes and courses in writing, and is the author of three other historical novels: ‘The Lady’s Slipper’, ‘The Gilded Lily’ and ‘A Divided Inheritance’. You can find out more about her on her website, 

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

UK link:

Author Website:

Author Interview:  

I enjoyed the opportunity to interview Deborah Swift about Shadow on the Highway.

What inspired you to write about Lady Katherine Fanshawe?

I was researching something else and came upon Lady Katherine's picture on the internet. I could not quite believe she was known as 'The Wicked Lady' - she looked so innocent.

Katherine’s aunt, Ann, wrote a diary too which features her and is still available four hundred years later. When I investigated further I found the legend surrounding Lady Katherine, which included ghosts, buried treasure and highway robbery. Who could resist such a story? Lady Katherine was a real person, but it was interesting to consider that the real history probably bore little relation to the legend. Of course the legend is very appealing. Who can resist the handsome farmer’s son, Ralph Chaplin, who lures a noble lady into the ways of highway robbery? The only trouble is, history can’t verify his existence. In the book I have tried to provide valid historical reasons for the myth, and use as much real material as possible, without losing the exciting parts of the legend.

What was the research process like? 

I used the diary I mentioned, and also a lot of research on the English Civil War. I visited the locations, including Markyate Manor, the old house featured in the book. It is very atmospheric, but in private ownership now, so I could not go inside. But I visited the interiors of other similar houses to give me the sensory detail I needed. Oak panelling, old mullioned windows, the particular ornate plastering of the period. It is always a peculiar experience walking in your character's footsteps, standing where they stood, looking at the same unchanged view. It brings you much closer than internet research ever can.

What is your daily writing schedule?

I’m quite disciplined, I need to be to get the words on paper, so I have a routine and try to stick to it – mornings I write, afternoons I do research, publicity and promotion and blogging.(oh yes and housework and my other job!) Some days the writing goes better than other days, but I try not to need 'inspiration' as such. I try to choose a period I am passionate about because I will spend a long time alone at my desk with my chosen period and characters, so I need to really love them.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I like lots of tea and biscuits, and enjoy writing with my black cat nestled at my feet. My desk veers from massively untidy and chaotic (middle of a book) to pristine and organised (beginning of a book). My office is stacked high with research books and papers and people wonder how I find anything, but to me everything is just where I need it.  

Who are your favorite authors?

Some of my favourite historical writers are Barbara Ewing and CJ Sansom. And I love historical blockbusters such as Ken Follett’s "Pillars of the Earth". I like Jojo Moyes, Jodi Picoult, Marcus Zusack - the list goes on and on!  

What is your next writing project?  

I am working on the second part of this trilogy, called Spirit of the Highway. It tells the next part of the story from the point of view of Ralph Chaplin, Lady Katherine's lover. It is a thrilling storyline to write as it features the last battle of the English Civil War, alongside his highwayman exploits.

Book Giveaway:
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This spotlight is in association with Enchanted Book Promotions.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Aprons

When people learn that I sell vintage treasures, they often ask what I collect.  The answer, truly, is "not much."  The longer I work with vintage items, it seems the less I actually collect myself.  However, there are a few things that will always catch my eye, little vintage treasures that I have to bring home.

Aprons are one of my vintage favorites.  I love them.  They remind me of spending time with my Granny in her kitchen, seeing my Mom wear pretty hostess aprons while entertaining, and making aprons in home economics class.  My mother gave me this little piece about aprons;  it brings back a lot of memories for me.

Grandma's Apron

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath.  Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears…

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

* * * * *
Vintage aprons make me happy.  I especially like aprons that are red and white (for my red and white cherry kitchen), Christmas aprons, and aprons with dog motifs.   Here are a few from my house:

Hand appliqued cherries:

Christmas - I love this Mid-Century print:

An embroidered chef carries food in on a tray (is that a plum pudding?):

Cocker Spaniels sit in baskets in this cheerful red print:

One of my personal favorites - cute little pink gingham dogs and rick rack trim:

A red and white Valentine theme apron - how could I possibly resist?

Do you remember aprons from your childhood?  Do you ever still wear an apron?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - Amazing Deals on e-Book Bestsellers! ($25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway too)

Ignite Your Book is THE place for readers and authors to get amazing deals on fantastic eBooks!

If you're a reader: 

Ignite Your Book for readers showcases great deals on today’s top eBooks. View all the books on our site and sign up for a free newsletter to ensure you get notified as soon as the top books are discounted or made available for free. 

These discounts are available for a limited time so we make sure you never miss a great deal! Plus, all our newsletters subscribers are automatically entered into regular drawings for Amazon gift cards! 

If you're an author: 

Ignite Your Book for authors is an easy to use platform that ensures your book gets noticed by avid readers and eBook fans. And while many eBook promotions sites have have raised their rates we've stayed very affordable. With both free and paid feature options there’s guaranteed to be something for every title. Plus there's no limit on the number of titles you can submit and because we have such a big database, our quotas aren't as strict as the other guys. We even give you free author tools to help you on your book promotion journey!

So whether you’re a reader, or an author, you can’t afford not to check out Ignite Your Book and sign up!

Ignite your book and fuel your passion for great eBook deals at:

For a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, write a post like this one about Ignite Your Book to help us spread the word, and then enter the link to your post's URL in the giveaway.

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Here are our participating blogs. Thank you so much for posting!

Library of Clean Reads
Essentially Italian
The World As I See It
Man of La Book
Back Porchervations
Deal Sharing Aunt
View From the Birdhouse
Celtic Lady's Reviews
Celiticlady's Book Recommendation
Storeybook Reviews
JBronder Book Reviews
Katie's Clean Book Collection
Bound 4 Escape
Bound 2 Escape 
Pinky's Favorite Reads
One Frugal Girl
Story Matters
This That and the Other Thing
DeDa Studios
Nighttime Reading Center
So, I Read This Book Today
A Madison Mom
A Bit Bookish
Pure Jonel: Confessions of a Bibliophile
Sincerely Stacie 
Lovely Reads
WOrkS of FiCTioN
Words and Peace
Coffee, Books & Art
Svetlana's Reads and Views
Clean Romance Reviews 
Seaside Book Nook
Mary's Cup of Tea
Rockin' Book Reviews
Melina's Book Blog
Chronicles...An Avid Reader and Indie Author
Working Mommy Journal
BlueRose's Heart
2 Kids and Tired Books 
Bookroom Reviews
Life With Katie
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing
Girl With Camera

Monday, January 26, 2015

Music Monday - "Blue Rondo à la Turk" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959)

Dave Brubeck is my favorite jazz musician, and Time Out is one of my all time favorite albums (of any genre).   "Blue Rondo a la Turk" appeared on the album Time Out in 1959.  Dave Brubeck was inspired by an unusual song he heard some Turkish street musicians playing.  He asked one of the men about the rhythm, and the musician replied "This rhythm is to us what the blues is to you."  Hence the song title.

This video is fun!  The Dave Brubeck Quartet plays the song on a magic carpet as they fly above a Los Angeles freeway.   Stick around for the motorcycle cop at the end of the video.  This was filmed for "The Lively Ones" television show first broadcast July 25, 1962.   Enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 4

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

This episode highlighted relationships between men and women.  Rose's father came to Downton with news of his upcoming divorce.  Tension built between Robert, Cora, and Simon Bricker, as Bricker continued to flirt with Cora.  Violet looked for her Russian Prince's lost wife.  Edith worried about Michael's disappearance after he was bullied by brownshirts in Germany.  Isabelle received a proposal from Lord Merton, which she is considering.  Mary flirted with Charles just before she tried to turn down Tony's proposal.  Tony refused to accept her rejection.

In other news, Barrow took a mysterious drug, as Baxter worried about him.  Anna visited Piccadilly, where John Green was killed.  Robert had problems with modernization, including a discussion with Tom and Mary about building houses on the property and a conflict with Sarah Bunting.  During the dinner conflict, he called Daisy and Mrs. Patmore to the dining room to quiz Daisy about Sarah's tutoring.

On a happy note, Isis appeared in several scenes.  Downton needs more Isis scenes!
Character Of the Week

I am not a great fan of Robert -- I find him stodgy and stubborn.  But he was the focus of a lot of attention and conflict this week, so I will give him the Character of the Week title.

Line of the Week

As part of her search for the lost Russian princess, the Dowager Countess learns that many Russians moved to Hong Kong and worked as servants, taxi drivers, milliners, or prostitutes.  Violet sniffed, “I will not suggest which of those callings the Princess Kuragin was most suited.”

Most Striking Visual

Mary chose a statue of Peter Pan in the park as a meeting place to break off her engagement to Tony.  The juxtaposition of the happy childhood statue and their conversation was striking.

"Oh My" Moment

Tony's refusal to accept Mary's rejection surprised me.  He has been such a little puppy dog with her up to this point.  

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

I hope Daisy will continue her education (go, Daisy!).  I hope that Mary will continue to flirt with Charles -- they have great chemistry!   I hope Tom will stay at Downton and turn away from Sarah.  I hope Edith will stop moping and tell the truth about Marigold.

How about you?  What did you think of this episode?   What should happen next?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

International Book Giving Day Is Coming February 14th

International Book Giving Day is coming up on February 14th.  I think it is wonderful that this day coincides with Valentine's Day.  What better way to share love than to share a book and the love of reading?   This day is designed to promote childhood literacy and to put the gift of a book into the hands of children around the world.  The website is lovely:  just click here.   You can download a Gus Gordon designed bookplate to print, or an Anna Walker designed bookmark.

Of course, if you are shopping for children's books, I hope you'll visit Birdhouse Books.  I have a lovely collection of books for children -- mostly vintage but some new editions as well.  Birdhouse Books on eBay:  click here for nostalgic children's books.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inspiring Quotes from Maya Angelou

Last night I could not get to sleep, and I went looking for my favorite Maya Angelou quote.  I found it, and others as well.  They inspired and uplifted me, and I thought you might find the same thing.  I love the way her words combine wisdom and poetry.

“When someone shows you who they are believe them, the first time.”  This is an important quote for me.  At one point I had it posted several places in my house.  I think I may do that again.

"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option."   I love Dr. Angelou's words of wisdom about relationships!

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change
your attitude. Don’t complain.”   This is the same idea as the Serenity Prayer, and I am a wholehearted believer.

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can
decide not to be reduced by them."

"You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody."

"You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten,
smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of
us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are
positive."  I am such a believer in this -- positive thoughts and images in, and positive out.

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

"My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you
are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness."   I love this quote.  It has such power!

"Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances."

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

I have always found Maya Angelou so inspiring as a writer, a woman, and a person of faith.  I would love to hear from you in the comments below - any thoughts on Dr. Angelou, favorite quotes by her?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 3

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

Lots happened!  Mary and Tony chatted at the hotel as she prepared to leave for Downton.  He said he wanted to observe all her routines since they would govern his life.  After Tony left, she had a forlorn expression.  Mary was found out by the Dowager Countess, who was not at all pleased.  A London bobby investigated the death of Mr. Green, and Bates came under suspicion.  Drew's wife decided not to share Marigold with Edith.  Cora's admirer, Simon Bricker, caused conflict in her marriage.  The Dowager Countess met with an old admirer - a Russian prince.

Line of the Night

"You have to take control of your feelings before they take control of you." (the Dowager Countess to Lady Mary)

Character Of the Week

The Dowager Countess has a past!   This was particularly interesting after her umbrage at Mary's behavior.

Most Striking Visual

The moment where Violet saw Prince Kuragin was perfect, classic Downton.

"Oh My" Moment

A tie between Mary being found out by the Dowager, and the Dowager reuniting with her Russian admirer. 

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

I hope that Mary painlessly breaks things off with Tony.  I hope Tom drops the awful Sarah Bunting.  I hope that Edith is reunited with her baby.  I also hope that Isobel finds happiness, since there was a hint of a big scene with Lord Merton in the trailer for next week.

What did you think of tonight's show?  What would you like to see happen next?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Faves - Podcasts: Beyond Serial

My Friday Fave this week is podcasts.  I love them!   I work at home and often have projects like photography or packing where I want something to listen to as I work.  I listen to SiriusXM radio, audiobooks, and podcasts.   Although I have listened to podcasts on my phone and computer, I usually tune in through the Podcasts app on iPad.  It just works so well.  For that reason, I am always looking for fun podcasts that are available on iTunes.

Serial was the big podcast that made news this past year.  I missed the big buzz about Serial.  I heard about it soon after it started, but didn't tune in because I'm not a fan of crime related books, movies, tv.  Several of my friends were avid listeners and big fans.

Here are the podcasts that are on my iPad -- and I recommend them all:

Completely Uninformed with Janette and Pete - A chatty NYC based show by an unlikely pair of friends - a 60 year old cat person and tv producer and a 32 year old father of three young children.  I first heard Janette and Pete on Rosie O'Donnell's old SiriusXM radio show, and they are funny and often thought provoking as well.

eBay Radio - Everything eBay related, with lots of guests and information.  The hosts are Griff (Jim Griffith) and Lee Mirabel.  If you sell on eBay, this show is a must listen!

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast - Gilbert Gottfried (yes, that Gilbert Gottfried) interviews retro pop culture figures like Henry Winkler, Adam West, Bill Persky, Frankie Avalon, Micky Dolenz, and more.  These shows run around an hour each and they are great fun.

NPR:  Fresh Air - My favorite NPR show.  I love the arts related segments.

Scavenger Life - A couple living in rural America, scavenging for unique vintage finds (free to very cheap) and selling them online.

That Kat Radio - eCommerce information, hosted by one of my online friends, Kat Simpson.  Kat has a couple of guests each show, with lots of great information about selling online.

The Mom Squad Show - Fun and funny chat with radio personality Christine Eads and CNN host Kyra Phillips.  I listened to Christine's SiriusXM radio show Broadminded for years.  I absolutely love this podcast, and only wish it aired more often!

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor -  Short daily segments about the day in history, with a short poem or two.  I love Garrison Keillor as a radio personality, and he has one of my all-time favorite voices.   Garrison Keillor + poetry = perfection.

This American Life - The NPR show is available in podcast format.  Quirky, thought provoking, never dull.

Do you enjoy podcasts?  I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments, below.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Betsy McCall Paper Dolls

Do you remember Betsy McCall paper dolls?   When I was growing up, McCall's magazine featured a paper doll page in every issue.  The paper doll was Betsy McCall, a little girl who had everyday experiences like Girl Scouts, painting, making Valentines, decorating for Christmas, and more.  Betsy had a little Dachshund dog named Nosy.  As a lifelong "dachshund person," of course I love the Nosy paper dolls most of all.

I used to cut these paper dolls out and play with them.  Since they were on magazine paper (thin), I sometimes mounted them on cardboard. 
I purchased a few McCall's magazines not long ago, and plan to frame the paper doll pages for my study.  

Do you remember Betsy McCall paper dolls?   Did you play with any other paper dolls as a child?   I would love to hear from you in the comments, below. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Giveaway: Vintage Valentine (Ends Fri. 1/23)

I have always loved Valentines.  As a little girl, I remember Valentine boxes in school and little envelopes with colorful cards from friends.  I also remember being fascinated by beautiful older Valentines at antique stores.

When I first opened an eBay store, it was all vintage children's books, which I love.  Eventually I added in vintage holiday cards (especially Valentine's Day, Christmas, and Easter).  I really enjoy working with vintage holiday cards at Birdhouse Books.  Buyers love them because they are fun to frame, great for unique crafts, and a sweet, unique gift tucked into a greeting card.  I offer combined shipping for all my vintage cards, and have a huge assortment:  Vintage Valentines at Birdhouse Books.

I am hosting a vintage Valentine giveaway ending Friday, January 23.  Entry is easy with the Rafflecopter form below.

The prize is one vintage Valentine of your choice valued under $10. I will notify the winner on January 23 by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to email.  

You will see all the cute Valentines under $10 at Birdhouse Books by clicking here.

Entry is easy with the Rafflecopter form below.
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Music Monday - "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

Because it's a drizzly January day, "Mr. Blue Sky" seems like a perfect Music Monday song.  "Mr. Blue Sky" was a 1977 rock song by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).  It was written by ELO and has an almost orchestral feel.  It has always reminded me of the Beatles, especially their bigger songs like "A Day in the Life."  I have loved this song since first listen.  The 2012 animated music video is fun too;  look for the singing chorus of flowers near the end of the song.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 2

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

Mary, assisted by Anna, plans an assignation with Tony Gillingham.  Charles Blake realizes Mary has chosen Gillingham and comes to Downton so they can talk.  (Picture of Mary and Charles, above.)   Edith steps in as a sort of godmother to Baby Marigold, so she can stay in her life.  Isobel and the Dowager Countess visit with Lord Merton.  A policeman comes to the Abbey with news that there was a witness in Mr. Green's mysterious death. 

Character Of the Week

Lady Mary boldly moves forward in her plans to have a tryst with Lord Gillingham, checking into a Liverpool hotel on her own and meeting him in an adjoining room.  She plans birth control (with Anna's help) and moves forward in secret, trying to plan her own future and happiness.  This is the most determined we have seen her to move forward since Matthew's death. 

Most Striking Visual

The wireless comes to Downton Abbey.  Not surprisingly, Rose advocates the wireless radio, while Robert and Carson oppose the idea.  The family and staff are amazed by the wireless - progress before their eyes.  Daisy comments:  "Why is it called a wireless when there are so many wires?"

"Oh My" Moment

It was truly surprising to hear that there was a witness in Mr. Green's murder.  Mrs. Hughes looks shocked - and troubled - by the news, since she suspects that Mr. Bates had something to do with the murder.

3 Day After Downton Thoughts

1. Maybe if Thomas found love, he would be a nicer person.  I actually felt for him in this episode, as he seemed very lonely.

2. I do not think Mary should have asked Anna to pick up the birth control, when Anna was clearly uncomfortable doing so.

3. Although I have liked Tony so far, I did not like his thoughts to Mary on how to lie successfully.   Now I am wondering if he should be trusted.

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

The trailer for next week's show teases the appearance of a man from the Dowager Countess's past (!!).  Mary is moving forward - hopefully toward happiness.  I hope that things move smoothly for Edith with baby Marigold, but Drew's wife does not seem as amenable to the plans as her husband.   And what of the new arrival, Simon Bricker?  He seems interested in flirting with Cora.

What did you think of tonight's episode?  What did you consider the "oh my" moment?  And what would you like to see happen next?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 Memorable Books

Every month or so on Facebook there is a thread that goes around about 10 memorable books.  You are to post your books and share the thread with your friends.  As a lifelong book lover, I participate every single time, and always find my book choices change a bit.  I thought it would be fun to share my list with you and ask for your 10 memorable books as well.   I may have to revisit this list again later with a new one.  Reading is like that!

1 The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace - These are my desert island books! This series tells the story of 3 girls from age 5 through their 20's, in turn of the century Minnesota. 

2 The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Childhood favorites. I love everything about these books.
3 The Keeping Days series by Norma Johnston - Another series with a turn of the century setting. This series tells the story of a family, a young girl who wants to be a writer, and her friends.
4 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - Two sisters, one practical and one romantic, seek love.
5 The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I love the way this series has given a love of reading and imagination to a new generation.
6 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Perhaps the Great American Novel.
7 The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - A noir detective story set in Los Angeles. For years I reread this book every summer. 
8 Time and Again by Jack Finney - Time travel, love, history, old New York. 
9 Possession by A.S. Byatt - Poetry and poets, romantic passion and a passion for words. A beautiful book.
10 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - A twist on The Wizard of Oz, and a wonderful fantasy world on its own.
I would love to read your 10 memorable books in the comment section, below. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Faves: All About Movies

Happy Friday!   This Friday Faves edition is all about movies.  It's funny;  I love movies but will go for some time without seeing any (schedule!) and then I end up seeing several in a short time.  This past week has been like that.

Fiddler on the Roof
I saw this movie first as a child with my family.  I was young and mostly remembered the daughters' love stories and all the music.  After reading the play for a book review last month (link here), I really wanted to see the movie again.  I'm so glad I rented it!  Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of Tevye, who drives a milk truck in Russia in the early 1900's, his wife Golde, and their 5 daughters.  The 3 oldest girls are interested in love and marriage, and the story is about their lives, but also about the changes in tradition within the family.  This 1971 movie was directed by Norman Jewison and stars Topol as Tevye.  It is a beautiful, sprawling musical epic.  I found the gravity of the story moving as an adult, although I still loved the light moments, and of course, the music.  It is 3 hours long - a time commitment, but well worth it.

Into the Woods
I've wanted to see Into the Woods since I first heard it was being filmed.  I saw, and loved, the play a few years ago and only imagined how it would translate to the big screen.  The movie adaptation far exceeded my expectations.  Into the Woods is an imaginative retelling of several fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, interweaving plots:  Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel.   It is beautiful, with fanciful set design and costumes.  The Stephen Sondheim music was amazing.  Standout performances included Meryl Streep (the Witch), Emily Blunt (the Baker's Wife), and Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood).  It is a family friendly movie, produced by Disney, and I recommend it very highly.

Big Eyes
I love Tim Burton's movies, and am fascinated by Mid-Century pop culture, so this movie intrigued me.  Big Eyes tells the story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams).  She was a single mother in 1956 California, working as a struggling artist, when she met Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz).  Walter Keane was all bluster and schmooze, and he claimed to also be an artist.  Walter ended up taking credit for Margaret's work, and marketing her iconic "big eye" paintings of children and animals as his own.  The film has a spectacular 1950's setting, including a glimpse of the jazz club where Cal Tjader played, galleries, the New York World's Fair, and the breathtaking Mid-Century home where the Keanes lived.  Tim Burton had a less stylized look than usual for this film, letting the MCM design and setting stand on its own.  I think this was a good choice.  I found Margaret a compelling and ultimately inspiring character and have enthusiastically recommended this film to friends.

I won a year's subscription to Netflix.  Hooray!  I've wanted to try their streaming service for a while now, and am so excited to finally check it out.  Although I may end up watching more classic tv shows than movies via Netflix, I had to add it to my Friday Faves list this week as well.  (I'm sure some movies will sneak into my play list there!)

Have you seen any of these movies?  I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section?  Are you a Netflix fan?  Any recommendations there?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Fizzies

This is my first Throwback Thursday post here.  I love retro nostalgia, especially 1960's - 1970's, and am excited about adding a blogging day dedicated to memories from the 1960's, 1970's, and probably 1980's, too.

Do you remember Fizzies?   This was a candy tablet that you dropped into a glazz of water.  It fizzed and made a carbonated drink.  I never was a huge fan of soda, but for some reason I loved Fizzies as a kid.

Fizzies were first created in 1956 by the Emerson Drug Company, the inventors of Bromo-Seltzer.  In the 1960's, they were sweetened with Cyclamates.  Cyclamates were banned by the FDA in 1968 and they were no longer produced, although they were still on store shelves until the 1970's.  I remember Fizzies as a little girl in the late 1960's.  I recall liking orange and grape.

I had no idea that Fizzies were still around, but they are still made:  Fizzies site.  Who knew?!   I enjoyed visiting the site and remembering this childhood treat.