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Archive for December, 2009

With all the Christmas festivities winding down, I’m in the mood to curl up with a good book.  So I thought I’d share the books I read in 2009 with my dear readers who might be looking for a good story.  You’ll notice that I liked pretty much every book I list here.  That’s because if I start a book and it’s really awful, I can usually put it down.  If I force myself.  Also I just had really good luck with books this year.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney.  Okay, I read this one last year but I loved it and had to include it in this list!  It’s probably one of my all-time favorites.

If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny by Lucy Adams.  I reviewed this one for Mama Lit and it was pretty dang cute.  Adams writes funny essays about her life with 4 kids.

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman.  This follows the lives of the residents over a 200 +- year span.  I was intrigued and could not put it down.  I hated for it to end – she could have written another 200 pages and I’d be happy.

Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs by Dave Barry.  The usual hilariousness that is Dave Barry.

The Last Girls by Lee Smith.  I’m not sure I’d recommend this.  It was okay but certainly not Smith’s best work.

Mary – A Novel by Janis Cooke Newman.  This is historical fiction told from the point of view of Mary Todd Lincoln.  An excellent book.

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson.  A story about love.  Love of parents, children, friends, grandparents.  It was a really sweet story.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  Steinbeck is one of myfavorite authors.  This book didn’t disappoint.  I’m sure I’m one of the 4 people in this country who didn’t read it in high school though!

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff.  This is technically a young adult book but it was still pretty sweet.  A little slow for me, but probably the right pace for a young lady.

Are You There, Vodka?  It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler.  Funny, funny, funny.  But what else would you expect from Chelsea?

North and South by John Jakes.  The first in the trilogy.  I loved it and I have a crush on Orry Main.  This was my favorite one of the three.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.  I have to confess this one sat on my shelf for a couple years before I read it because I thought it looked weird.  But it was really good!

Garage Sale America by Bruce Littlefield.  Littlefield writes about his garage saling adventures.  It sounds dull, but it was really interesting.  And it put me in a garage sale kind of mood!

Love and War by John Jakes.  This is the second in the North and South Trilogy.  Very good.

Soft Landing by Laurel Hermanson.  This was another one that I didn’t want to start, but once I did I was pleasantly surprised.

If Life Is A Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing In The Pits?  by Erma Bombeck.  This is probably my favorite Bombeck book.  Totally hilarious.

Fatherhood by Bill Cosby.  Hilarious.

Heaven and Hell by John Jakes.  This is the third in the North and South Trilogy.  Also good.

When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home by Erma Bombeck.  Very funny.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez.  I had a hard time getting into this one, but after the first few pages, I was hooked.  It starts in the present and works its way back to the past and I didn’t want it to end!

Gods In Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson.  A pretty good story.  It moved a little slow, but wasn’t bad at all.

Savannah: A Gift for Mr. Lincoln by John Jakes.  It was okay.  It was kind of unrealistic though.

Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck.  (I went through an Erma phase this year.)  Erma has a rare mix of sentimentality and hilariousness that really drew me in to this book.

Wyoming by Dana Fuller Ross.  Part of the Wagons West Series.  It’s fluff reading, but I like it.

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.  Great book about friendship and its fragility.  The ending was melancholy though – as Steinbeck will tend to be.

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather.  Very dry and I never got the point of the story.  I wanted to shout, “Great story, Jeopardy contestant!”

Charleston by John Jakes.  Not bad but some of the conversations and stories are recycled from the North and South Trilogy.

Family – The Ties That Bind … And Gag! by Erma Bombeck.  hahahahaha.

The Glory Cloak by Patricia O’Brien.  A fictional account of the life of Louisa May Alcott as told through the eyes of a cousin.  Very interesting read.

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle.  I couldn’t put this one down!

Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton.  If you’ve never read anything by Clyde, I highly recommend you do.  He’s very funny but in a subtle way.  His stories are ridiculous but never so ridiculous as to be implausible.

Aunt Erma’s Cope Book by Erma Bombeck.  I told you I went through an Erma phase!

1776 by David McCullough.  Excellent.  But not light reading by any stretch of the imagination.

You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start In The Morning by Celia Rivenbark.  Celia is a southern writer who is also a hoot!

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.  Very melancholy but also an excellent story.  I couldn’t put this one down either.

The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck.  See previous comments.

The Sands of Pride by William R. Trotter.  There were too many half-baked plot lines and then it just ended.  It was like Trotter just got tired of writing one day so he stopped.

The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton.  Hilarious!  And sweet.

So there you have it.  Pick up any of these books and you probably won’t go wrong.  If you’d like more detail about the plots, just let me know!

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Here are a couple more easy handmade Christmas gifts.

The first is an altered artists’ canvas.  It’s 5 inches by 5 inches.  All I did was mod podge the background paper on and then glitter a snowflake that I cut out with my Sizzix machine and glued that on.  I finished the edges with some pretty ribbon.

It makes a lovely wall hanging (or shelf sitter) for Christmas!

The second project I have today started out as something completely different.  I was going to make wooden signs that said, “Joy to the World.”  And my friend was nice enough to cut out the letters for me on her Cricut.  Well, as my projects often do, it evolved and become unrecognizable from what I first set out to do.

The plate is about 9 inches square.  I found it for a couple dollars at Old Time Pottery.  Wal-Mart has them for about $10.  Then I mod-podged a snowflake (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of that snowflake Sizzix Die) and the word “Joy” to the plate.  My y is a little crooked but I love the plate nonetheless.

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As a paper-crafter, I have about 3,482 pounds of paper scraps.  So I figured I could make some Christmas tags with those scraps and my trusty Sizzix.  And some of them actually turned out pretty cute.  But this … wow.  I loved this paper and thought pink glitter polka dots would be so cute on a snowman!  When you have glitter and polka dots together, what could possibly go wrong?  Yeah, not so much.  He looks like he has some sort of pox disease.  I’m a little afraid to touch him too much lest he’s contagious!

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So I’ve been going through the bank take-over from hell.  Have you ever tried Christmas shopping with no debit card and no checks and no ATM card?  It’s kind of a pain.

But I won’t bore you with that.  I was ordering checks and came across these gems.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Peeps as much as the next person (probably more).  But this seems like a little much even to me.

I ordered 3 boxes.

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You may have heard that I’m sick.  I’m sure you have because I’m one of those people who never gets sick and when I do “get sick” it’s mostly that I just feel puny for a couple days then I’m fine.  So I’m really awful sick right now and have complained about it to the whole universe.  I’d like to find the person who went out into public with his or her disgusting germs and have a little Come To Jesus Meeting.

But that’s neither here nor there.  The whole point of telling you that is so you will understand why I have done nothing but watch TV for 3 days.  It turns out that I was really fortunate to be able to do so.  There’s some awesome programming out there these days!

After watching “Should I Smoke Dope” (twice), I have come to the conclusion that, yes.  Yes I should.  Hopefully, it will regenerate some of my brain cells that BBC America killed off.  Now if only I knew how one would go about procuring and smoking dope …

But right now I’m going to go eat some Doritos and take a nap.

P.S.  Just kidding.  I didn’t really watch that.  Maury’s paternity tests are far more interesting.

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Shelby and I made this Shrinky Dink Christmas Tree this week.  Well, the tree came from the store.  We made the shrinky dinks.

First we colored on some shrink film and some pieces of number 6 plastic with permanent markers.  You can get shrink film from any hobby store and number 6 plastic is the clear plastic that you buy cookies in at your grocery store deli.

The number 6 plastic doesn’t shrink as much, but it makes a very pretty creamy white.

I hope it’s okay that I drew the Baby Jesus on Shrinky Dinks…

After we got all the plastic colored, we cut them with my Sizzix machine.  There were a few scraps that were too small for my dies, so I just cut them into squares.  I also cut out the little birds with my trusty scissors.  I tried to do mittens, but I didn’t have a pattern and, as it turns out, I can’t draw!

If your kids are older, you’ll probably want to cut the shapes and then color them.  But Shelby is 2 so it made more sense for us to color first.

Once you have your shapes cut, put them on a piece of cardboard on a cookie sheet and bake at about 250-300 degrees until they are shrunk.  Don’t panic if they curl, they should flatten themselves out as they continue to bake.  If they don’t you will have a few seconds to work with them after they come out of the oven.  Just be sure not to touch them with your bare skin because they will be hot.

I used my Crop-A-Dile to punch the holes in the ornaments after they were cooled.  Then I tied a ribbon through them.

Because these are so hard after they shrink (the number 6 plastic doesn’t get as hard), if you don’t have a Crop-A-Dile, you’ll probably want to punch the holes before you bake your shrinky dinks.

You can do so much more with these than make ornaments.  They make great wine glass charms (or, if you’re like me, beer bottle charms), gift tags, jewelry charms, zipper pulls … the possibilities are endless!

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