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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crisp Fall Days and Autumn Poetry

These photos are linked up to Saturday Snapshot, a super fun meme hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Head on over and check out some great photos!

The leaves in our part of the state are just beginning
to turn to shades of amber, russet, and gold.

The Autumn
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn and autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth

That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,

When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which one refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

I hope everyone is having lovely fall weather and enjoying the new season.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner

Book Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to Sim of Chapter 1 - Take 1 for winning 'The Red Tent' giveaway!
Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon!

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Art of Journaling

"The art of writing is the art of discovering
what you believe."  ~ Gustave Flaubert
Do you keep a journal? As a youth, I was an avid journal writer but as the years passed, I found it more difficult to take the time to quieten my mind and put my thoughts, concerns, hopes, and ideas into words. In June, I began to journal again, this time with more success.

I previously wrote about Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way: A Spritiual Path to Higher Creativity here: If you haven't checked out this book, it is a great resource to help you begin journaling. In The Artist's Way, Cameron suggests that we write "Morning Pages," three pages of stream of consciousness writing to help us cleanse our minds before setting out on our day.

Personally, I have found that writing in the morning is difficult for me. I am to pre-occupied and don't enjoy the writing process because I am too focused on getting the task done so that I can be out the door in time for work. Many journal writers prefer to write at night, including a daily gratitude list. Regardless of the time of day you write, or whether you write every day or just when you feel like it, I encourage you to pick up a pen and a notebook and put your thoughts onto paper. What do you see? Do you feel differently reading back the descriptions of your emotions? Does it change your way of thinking about a certain situation or individual?

A quick internet search can provide you with many journal prompts to get you started if you are feeling writer's block. Get writing...and begin your discovery of you!

"Fill your paper with breathings of your own heart."
                                           ~ William Wordsworth

Happy Reading...and Writing!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What Are You Reading this Week?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a meme hosted by Sheila from Book Journey where readers share what they are currently reading, recently read, or plan to read next.

Just Finished: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This was my book club's latest selection and I enjoyed it much more than I had originally thought I would and plan to read the next one in the series.
Coming Up: After seeing the stunning movie trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley, I am going to attempt to read this Tolstoy classic. Many years ago, I read the first 200 pages of War and Peace, only to put it down and never pick it up again. I'm hoping to have more success with Anna Karenina.

If you have not seen the trailer yet, it is available here at

There is still time to enter the new giveaway: The Red Tent

Simply leave a comment on this post (or the original announcement) by September 21, 2012. This is a copy I picked up at my local library's used book sale. I have bought many copies of this book the past few years to share with others. Read more about it here:
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Banned Books Week is
September 30 - October 6
"30 Years of Liberating Literature"

From the American Library Association:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week. Click here,, for a list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009.

Take part in Banned Books Week: Read a book from the Banned Books list and share your thoughts with others. Celebrate Your Freedom to Read!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nature Photography: Roses

These photos are linked up to Saturday Snapshot, a super fun meme hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Head on over and check out some great photos!

"I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday sweet and fragrant, between its leaves."
               L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

These images are from the rose garden at Ritter Park in Huntington, W.Va. As autumn quickly approaches, the roses are beginning to fade away but will return in the spring to delight visitors with their grand color and fragrant blooms. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the last days of the summer season and taking time to smell the roses!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Titles for Book Clubs and a New Giveaway!

New Giveaway: The Red Tent

Enter to win a copy of The Red Tent by leaving a comment on this post by September 21, 2012. This is a copy I picked up at my local library's used book sale. I have bought many copies of this book the past few years to share with others. Read more about it below.

The following books received high ratings in my reading group and offer a lot of topics for successful discussion:

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
This book was a favorite of my group. This title easily resonates with female book clubs due to numerous, strong female characters throughout the story.

Book Description from amazon
     Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber

This book is part of the Blossom Street series but each one stands independently so you don’t need to have read others previously. In this title, the characters each make a list of twenty wishes or a bucket list. At our discussion for the meeting, each member was asked to construct their own list of things they would like to try or accomplish in the upcoming year. Several years later, many of our members continue this tradition and make a new list each year to share with the group as well as highlights of experiences they have crossed off their previous lists. Your group could even create a reading list- books that you would like to challenge yourself to read next year.

Book Description from amazon
     What Anne Marie Roche wants is to find happiness again. At thirty-eight, she's childless, a recent widow, alone. She owns a successful bookstore on Seattle's Blossom Street, but despite her accomplishments, there's a feeling of emptiness.
On Valentine's Day, Anne Marie and several other widows get together to celebrate…hope. They each begin a list of twenty wishes—things they always wanted to do but never did. Anne Marie's list includes learning to knit, falling in love again, doing good for someone else. When she volunteers at a local school, an eight-year-old girl named Ellen enters her life. It's a relationship that becomes far more involving—and far more important—than Anne Marie had ever imagined.
     As Ellen helps Anne Marie complete her list of twenty wishes, they both learn that wishes can come true…but not necessarily in the way you expect.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

This book revolves around the affair of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney and their life together following the demise of their marriages. It is fiction based on real occurrences and offers a lot of topics for discussion. For my group, this also provided the opportunity to learn more about architecture and we created a visual board of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work for our meeting. I love when you can further enhance the reading by learning about subjects that are detailed within the pages.

Book Description from amazon
     "I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current." So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.
     In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.
     Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.
Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This was a popular title when it was released so your group likely has read this one. If not, you will definitely want to add it to your list. This memoir offers plenty to discuss and is an encouraging view of looking back at an unpleasant past and not letting it interrupt your present or future. The author does not bear any grudges toward her parents for their lack of care. She accepts her childhood with grace and understanding and does not let it define who she is or will become.

Book Description from amazon
     Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
     Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
     What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Visit my sidebar for a complete listing of books my group has read.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Homemade Pet Treats

We often make homemade treats for human family but what about our animal family? The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook by the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company is filled with items to treat your pet. All ingredients used in the recipes are safe for your four-legged friends and by making them yourself, you know exactly what products the item contains. Everything I have made out of this book has been a hit with Chloe, my three-year old Sheltie. Pictured above are The Elvis Pupsleys, a muffin that is a combination of peanut butter and banana, the King's favorite. I generally cut all of these recipes in half because they tend to make a large amount if you have only one pet.

The Elvis Pupsleys
2 c. oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. carob chips
2 eggs
1 c. bananas (mashed and pureed)
1 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. honey
1/2 cup safflower oil (can be substituted for olive oil or canola oil)

Preheat oven to 350. Peel, mash and puree bananas in a food processor. Combine all ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Place cupcake papers into a mini muffin pan. Spoon mixture evenly into the papers cloes to the top of the papers (the mix will not rise very much). Bake 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.
You will feel good about giving your furry family member a delicious, wholesome treat, and your pet will love eating them!
Happy Reading (and Cooking)!

This post is linked up to Weekend Cooking, a weekly meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.


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