tasha tudor book finds

DSC_1487 1“When I’m working in the barn or house I often think of all the errors I’ve made in my life. But then I quickly put that behind me and think of water lilies. They will always eradicate unpleasant thoughts. Or goslings are equally comforting in their own way.”  ~Tasha Tudor

Jacob is doing fine in Vermont, he is so busy we don’t hear from him very often but all his texts end in that happy LOL face — yellow circle with a big grin and laughter-tear eyes.  He’s very busy with football; conditioning, practices, and meetings.  I read the group text this morning in which he confessed that he finally put the sheets on his bed…after three days.  He read the blog post I wrote and had to text me and say “great I’m crying right before my meeting, Mom.”  oops.  He’s coming back home next Sunday to get Ethan but Rich and I will be in PA getting Grace settled so we will miss seeing him.  Vermont is an easy state to visit from Connecticut, I honestly LOVE the drive to the college because I pass several very nice antique stores and the Vermont Country Store, which is an amazing place to shop for unique items, including food.

So anyway, back to when I visited Aunt Colleen two weeks ago now.  We had an afternoon just the two of us.  Her girls babysat Seth and Sarah (they are the best babysitters).  I wish I had taken more pictures with Colleen that day.  We stopped first at an antique store that was inside of a big huge old house.  We had just as much fun seeing the inside of that house as we did searching for treasures.

Then, we found a consignment shop basically in the middle of a very quiet shopping plaza, one of those places that you hesitate going inside because they don’t seem to have much business.  However, we entered the store and had a simply delightful time prowling around and I was very excited to find Seth a Derek Jeter tshirt for only 2 dollars AND……..(this is most exciting)…..on a shelf of children’s books I found……


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This was the one I was most amazed by….because when I opened the cover I saw….


….that it was signed!!!  (swoon)

My friends, it was ONE DOLLAR.  ONE DOLLAR.

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The first one was published in 1971, and this one was written in 1997.


“But then Caleb thought his end had come:  He tripped over a taunt rope in a clump of hemlocks where he had thought to conceal himself.  He fell flat, giving his chin a nasty whack.  He just managed to retreat, undiscovered, to the shelter of some rocks that were covered by bushes.”  

Naturally, the fact that there is a CALEB in the books makes them even better, as that is the name of my own dear fourth son, who is currently 12 years old.


The third book I bought (they were each one dollar) was a copy of Tasha Tudor’s Fairy Tales, and as it was very similar to the Bedtime Book (already tucked away on a shelf at my house in CT), we promptly left it with Aunt Mary, on her porch, with a note.  She loved Tasha before I even did (as did my Mom).

When I got home I pulled all my books out of their various places in the house to take photos of them.  It’s been too long since I last READ them (I’m currently reading Harry Potter #3) so I plan on doing that very soon, while wearing a long skirted old fashioned dress, a kerchief on my hair, while turning off the electricity in the house, seated next to a huge dollhouse I made myself, with lit candles, a stuffed owl, and tea that I brewed also myself in old English chinaware!  Oh and I cannot forget the big vases of flowers from the garden, using homemade goat fertilizer to make them bloom extra lushly.

(dreams, only dreams)

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This book is a treasure for lovers of old fashioned gardening.

“Daffodils are an optimistic flower, and foolproof. You know what Shakespeare said:
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.”

…I plant them in big clumps with a trusty shovel. I make several large holes all around and put quite a few in. That’s why it makes such a spectacular look when they bloom.”  ~Tasha Tudor


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Mother Goose book (of which I have two copies). . . . .

(all these books have been found in my wanderings through library book sales and second hand shops)

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(She passed away in 2008 at 92 years of age)

“You should see my corgis at sunset in the snow. It’s their finest hour. About five o’clock they glow like copper. Then they come in and lie in front of the fire like a string of sausages.”  ~Tasha Tudor


Another page of her delightful drawings.  I have a print which I really need to get framed one of these days…..its of a small girl holding a chicken.


This newsletter/catalogue was tucked inside one of the books.

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Joanna gave me this cookbook for Christmas in 2001, she is also a fan.  All the cool girls are.  (wink)  If you haven’t seen her work, I challenge you to find her books at the local library and enjoy a quiet hour or two turning the pages, you will be whisked away into another world for a time, and come back gently with a soft smile on your face, determined to maybe try a few of the things she loved so much; her pets, cooking, gardening, drawing, creating.


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This huge hawk sat at the top of our old dead pine tree for well over an hour early yesterday morning.  As soon as I woke up I found myself down by the pond, in a soft rain, trying to get a good photo.

It’s beautiful.


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(Sarah was wearing her sister’s glasses).  These three were cute yesterday, visiting on the porch, so I had to get a photo.


They brought me my camera, “We took pictures outside,” they explained, “he’s in the trash can.”  ooooookay…….


Apparently they were pretending that he was Bugs Bunny (which explains the teeth) and because they didn’t have a proper rabbit hole, they used the almost-empty garbage bin.  Yuck!

“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionnaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren’t stupid because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.”  ~Tasha Tudor

my problem with fiction; and the solution


I bought a book recently based on the recommendation of an author I thought I could trust.  She raved about the book Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, and consequentially, as soon as it came out, I bought it and read it.  It was terrible.  The best thing about it was the cover and that’s saying something.

This is just one example of what usually happens to me:  I pick up a fiction book because it says “bestseller!!!” on it and then wonder why I can’t get into it.  I thought maybe I wasn’t intelligent enough to understand the deep and hidden meanings/ideas that made a book a bestseller.  (this still could be the case, I suppose)

When I read I want to get lost in the book.   I want to get that feeling like “I cannot put this book down.”

If I get the sense that a book is trying too hard to be a book, I can’t read it.

The book has to be a book!!

My mistake was made when I subconsciously lumped *all of fiction* into one category…decided I wasn’t cut out for fiction….abandoned it….. and resorted to reading mainly memoirs.  I have the best time with memoirs.  I’ll always love memoirs.  (For a while I thought I had a problem with fiction because it was “made up”….after all, memoirs are for the most part true, or based on, truth.)

I watched the movie “The Age of Innocence” and watching the movie provoked me to read the book (free with kindle).  Ahhh, here was fiction to respect!  The Hunger Games?  Bah!  Yawn!  Sneeze!  (actually, truth be told, I did like the first book, it was the 2nd and 3rd I couldn’t read.)

But why?  Why did I enjoy The Age of Innocence and not Catching Fire?   And how?  How could I find these books, the fiction books, that I could read and respect?  Certainly not by walking aimlessly around the fiction section at the library!


The answer came to me just the other day when I was in the depths of reading a most wonderful book which I had selected at random from a used bookstore.  How on earth can I be enjoying this fiction story, I asked myself.  It was written in 1942, perhaps that was the answer.  Perhaps I have a problem with modern fiction.  After all, I hated Commonwealth (for example) and that JUST came out.  Perhaps the internet/online world destroyed the creativity and seriousness of the written word so that fiction works are no longer respectable?  How very depressing!

Not at all.  As I thought and thought about this problem, I finally realized and came to the conclusion that I was wandering around in the wrong type of fiction……

I realized that fiction isn’t just “fiction”. It’s divided up into different categories within the genre.  HELLO!  Now we’re getting somewhere……..

(I’m sure I should have realized this years ago, but whatever, I was too busy having babies.) I’m excited! what’s the point, you ask?

Look to the Mountain, as I researched it online, was a Pulitzer prize nominated book, and that was my light bulb moment.  What could be more literary than a Pulitzer prize book?  I quickly searched for the Pulitzer prize winners list and realized I had only read a few of them.  Right then and there, in front of the fire place, I realized I had a lot of reading to look forward to.

The point is this;  I am going to read all the Pulitzer prize fiction winners and not in any specific order because I’m going to search and find them all in second hand bookshops.

(insert squeals of joy here!)

I may even read all the runners up, as well!!

There is an awesome little used bookstore in Rutland, VT.  My son Ethan’s college is nearby and when we drove him back on Sunday I went inside to look for my books.  My Pulitzer books.  I quickly found two: The Good Earth, by Pearl S Buck, and Ironweed, by William Kennedy.

But first I had to finish Look to the Mountain.  Which I did, last night.

I just want to say….I highly recommend this book.  It was the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it was reminiscent of another long time favorite, Hannah Fowler, by Janice Holt Giles.  There is a special place in my heart for early American pioneer stories.  Reading them makes me want to make stew over an open fire and put on a long full skirt.  I often sighed to think, “I wish I could find another book like Hannah Fowler.” And I did!  This one is even better!


410 pages of wonderful words…..woven together into a meaty, rich, beautiful book.

She stood at the top of the rise and she watched to the eastward….guessing between which two treetops would be the place where the sun would come.  Then the sky grew too bright there to see the tree branches.  
     The true gleam of the sun, it the first instant she saw it, was of the sun itself—and a long ways away from her.
     Then across all that distance it came into her eyes…and her eyes had to turn from it.
     She threw back her hood, and on her face was the morning.  pg. 107



connecting (quote)

God gave me a book on Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for it.  I went into the thrift store and aimlessly browsed, I chose the book (and a few others, too) after briefly flipping through it.  I started reading it at home and instantly I was mentally thanking and praising God and underlining everything with a nice sharp pencil….this book is solidifies some important things I’ve been thinking about in regards to kinship, belonging, and organized church.   At just at the right time, God gave me more words, more ideas, and in the form of a book (He knows how I love to read because He made me).  (I payed one dollar for five books and a little box for Grace).   So this book cost me about 20 cents.  I love it, I love how He operates.


An acquaintance of mine tried to commit suicide.  What he did should have killed him, but he survived.  I was asked to help.  For more than six months I worked with this man in therapy.  Even now I recall the session-I think it was the tenth-where I came up with an insight that put so much of his pain into new perspective.  I remember him saying, “How on earth did you figure that out?”  I humbly shrugged and said, “Hope it helps.”
     In the middle of our work together, I happened one spring day to be driving through the local college campus and saw my depressed client sitting on the grass with a friend.  They were laughing.  I’m not clear why, but I felt a strong desire to join their good time.
     Every reason why I shouldn’t join them ran instantly through my head–too much to do, it would be awkward, even unprofessional, to socialize with a client–but the words of my friends over breakfast came back to me.  Was I afraid to just be with this man, to take off the Dr. Crabb white coat, to stop being an expert, and offer myself as a person?
     On an impulse, I stopped my car, walked over to where they were sitting, their backs toward me.  When I got close, they heard my footsteps, and turned.  I greeted them both, then said to my client, “How are you?”
     Picture what it would be like to have your therapist, while you’re in the middle of treatment for suicidal depression, walk up to you in a casual setting and ask, “How are you?”
     He wrinkled his face into  serious expression, coughed a few times, then said, “Well, maybe a little better.  Still really worried about…..”
     I interruped.  “I don’t mean, ‘How are you doing with your struggles:’  I’m just sociably asking how you’re doing.”
     He replied, “You mean, like, ‘Fine, thanks’?”
     “Yes, exactly!”
     “In that case, fine, thanks.  Can you join us?”
     “Sure I’ve got some time.”
     For the next thirty minutes I didn’t say one intelligent thing.  I just enjoyed two friends.
     Three years later I met him for coffee during a trip to the town where he was then living.  He was doing well.  At one point in our conversation he thanked me for my influence on his life.  I asked what he remembered that had helped the most.  There was no hesitation.
     “It was that half hour you sat on the grass with me and my friend and just chatted.”  He was warmly smiling.
     I was indignant.  “Don’t you recall that life-changing insight I came up with in the tenth session of therapy?”
     “Uh, no, I don’t.  Can you refresh me?”
     I believe that the work we did in therapy was important.  But I also believe that the time I most clearly led with my heart rather than my head was the time of greatest power.

page 35 of Connecting, by Larry Crabb


my new garbage disposal


“There is often more wisdom to be found at the edges of life than in its middle.  Life-threatening illness may shuffle our values like a deck of cards.  Sometimes a card that has been on the bottom of the deck for most of our lives turns out to be the top card, the thing that really matters.  Having watched people sort their cards and play their hands in the presence of death for many years, I would say that rarely is the top card perfection, or possessions, or even pride.

“Most often the top card is love.”

My Grandfather’s Blessings, by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.


Good morning, friends.

When I first woke up this morning, I sat in my bed with a cup of hot coffee and listened to the wind.  It was a lovely autumn wind, yellow leaves were flying past the windows.  Wind chimes were loud enough to hear and their music was saying, “It’s a windy morning!”

It has died down some, and the rain of yesterday is past, leaving clean fresh air and a brilliant blue sky.  It’s hardly 50 degrees and feels invigorating but chilly.

I’m eating lunch as I type; vegetable soup.

The children are home from school for Columbus Day.  Sarah Joy had a dentist appointment at 9, which I was not looking forward to after her year of kidney stone adventures.  She was so sweet and brave until the last when the tears came…..she was worried that the dentist would pull her loose tooth out right then and there.  The dental hygienist was sweet and understanding with Sarah.  As a mom, that meant the world to me.


On Saturday we spent the entire day at the football field.  Rich, myself, Sarah, Seth, and Caleb.

Rich officiated Seth’s game.  Seth made several good plays as a quarter back (at his level, the boys take turns trying different positions).  I was able to get this series of photos showing an impressive pass to his teammate, who did a great job at catching the ball.


Seth with the ball……


…..ball in the air……


…..with a catch and first down!   Not bad for 6 and 7 year olds!

We had time to leave and eat dinner before Caleb’s game, which they won brilliantly.

It was raining on and off the whole day and we were soooooo ready to be home afterwards.


I love this little girl with all my heart.


And this one, too.  Rich took Grace with him to go get a new garbage disposal.

The other day I was tired and grumpy but trying very hard to not say anything.  Zak was here and he played a prank on Jacob in the kitchen.  Jacob had left his cup of coffee on the counter while he went to the bathroom, and while he was gone, Zak put coins and butter in his coffee.  I was in the kitchen, working, saw everything, and became annoyed.  Jacob came out and dumped his coffee down the drain, and into the garbage disposal went the coins.  I continued to be annoyed and I said to Jacob, “YOU put your hand down there and get the money out.”  I assumed he did and the next day when I used the disposal it of course made (along with me) a terrible noise of distress and woe.  I instantly knew what had happened and was mad this time.  I put my hand down there and retrieved two almost unrecognizable pennies.  I got the broom and used the end of the handle to try to get the disposal moving again, but no.  I sent Jacob a text saying *no friends this week* (it was last week now) and he was still saying things like “It wasn’t me, it was Zak”…. like I cared WHO it was, which I did not—as long as I was not the one to have to deal with the messes of teenagers.  “It was only one penny” they insisted.  Rich was alway on a business trip and now my garbage disposal wasn’t working at all.  As a homemaker, this was very unsettling.  I called the plumber and he fixed several things (like a drippy faucet in the bathroom) but said he would have to get to the disposal in a few weeks.  When Rich had time to look at it on Sunday, he discovered a QUARTER stuck so tightly in the disposal that there was nothing to be done but buy a new one.  Thankfully, the disposal was old anyway and honestly needed to be replaced or I would still be annoyed at this moment.  (I am over it and Can Now Laugh).

Rich and Grace came home with a garbage disposal so quiet I don’t believe it’s even working because I’m used to my old one that was as loud as a chainsaw and dripped gray water into a bowl under the sink each time I used it.


While they were out shopping for the disposal, I had asked Ethan *which would he rather take back to college with him, brownies or cookies* and he picked cookies and said, “Thanks Mom” which completely melted my heart.  He kept coming in the kitchen to eat the dough.  My kitchen was a mess because the disposal wasn’t working.  True!  Really!  🙂


I made the best chocolate chip cookies ever and even snuck in some wheat flour.  I pressed pumpkin seeds on top of a dozen (kids won’t eat them, of course).  Ethan took about a dozen with him to school.


This is an easy snack for the kids….buy a loaf of garlic bread at the store and bake it according to the package directions.  Then, open up the loaf and put some sauce, cheese, and dried basil and bake it again until it’s done.  Glorified french bread pizza.


I watched David play the piano.


And noticed Gentleman Gray sleeping in an odd place with his leg sticking out.  🙂


We ended up sitting on the floor in the corner together, petting the cat.


Jacob made the trip to Vermont yesterday with his brother.  They took Grace and Tessa along, and Zak, too.  Although it was sad to have to say goodbye to Ethan again, I heard this morning that they had a very nice time together on their little road trip, listening to music and stopping for coffee and a buffet for dinner.


The view from the porch yesterday evening was stunning.


“Blessing the life in someone usually requires a deep respect for their uniqueness, an openness to allowing them to uncover who they are rather than shaping them into who we want or need them to be.  Innately, blessing life confers a greater freedom on those we bless.”  ~Rachel N. Ramen, M.D. 



I shut my laptop after the last blog post,
took a shower, got dressed,
went back on the porch……..


…..and discovered a new monarch butterfly.  Our first to emerge, out of the four caterpillars we had collected.

I sat and watched it for a long time, thinking about how much life is growth, so much growing and changing.  Butterflies only get to do it once, we get to do it over and over.  There are dark times when we are in our little stuffy cocoons, lonely, maybe perfectly willing to be all alone, needing *something* but not really knowing what it is.  It is a waiting time.  Then comes the “break through”.  Suddenly we have had enough of cocoon time and find that it’s time to get out from the covers, get out of bed, get out of our own minds, oh how it hurts to start breaking down walls but it feels so good at the same time….new air, new sights, drying wings…….freedom.


After the struggle to emerge comes the strengthening time…….those who are waiting for us almost lose their patience, we ourselves often lose heart, forget that God does indeed have a purpose for everything, but our Father knows, He understands, His children are ready (not in our time, not in their time) but in HIS TIME……..

He has made everything beautiful
in its time.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men.
Matthew Henry

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When we are finally strong again.

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We can enjoy life.  We can fly.


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Yes, the family and I have been spending a lot of time by the aquarium, watching & waiting for the butterflies to hatch and fly away.  Three of them have gone now, but the fourth seems to be stuck in the cocoon.  We think maybe it died inside.  We can see the wings through the (now clear) casing, but it should have come out a few days ago.


morning glory leaf

It’s been so fun to see my flower garden become a butterfly sanctuary AND a bird feeding station.

The most darling little goldfinches come to get a sunflower seed, but they are shy and at any hint of my eyes watching them they fly away making a chirping distress sound.

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As we have morning glory vines twirling up the sunflowers, it makes for a very lovely photo opportunity.  I had to take these photos from inside the house through the glass and screen doors……..

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my darling (while mama sits on one end, oftentimes they will be on the other end playing with their little toys).

I find myself watching butterflies, birds, and children every where I turn.

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Hosta flowers


currently reading:  Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow, by Dr. Jan Pol (good book, I love animal stories)

plans for today:  Grace and I are going out with David.  We are picking up her ring from Tiffany (left for cleaning) and then have to go to Target to get things for camp next week.

I just want you guys to know that I love you all and that you are so special.  I’m thankful for the friends I meet and greet along the way.  Friendship and connections of all kinds make life sweet.   

look around and be distressed
look within and be depressed
look at Jesus and be at rest

blown away by grace (book recommendations)


More than anything, my mind is opened up and my soul is refreshed by the written word.  This list of books is for any of my friends here who like to read and would benefit from a good dose of grace.

Call the Midwife, series by Jennifer Worth

At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar Lond’s East End slims.  The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies illuminate a fascinating time in history.  Beautifully written and utterly moving, Call the Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone.  ~From the back of the book

Those who perform a service well must do so without judgement.  The women in this book who serve their community as nurses and midwives do so in a way that will leave you breathless because they value and learn from those they serve.  These are stories of true need, heartache, and love.  Squeaky-clean Christians would do well to read these messy-beautiful humble stories that will make you laugh and cry.

“Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.”  Jennifer Worth

(also a great TV series on PBS!)

Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, it also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

“I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home”  Denver Moore

Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily P. Freeman

What would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us?  If we dared to talk about the ways we hid, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing?  Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. ~from back cover

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen

No one should leave church feeling manipulated, controlled, shamed, or condemned.  But places of shelter and encouragement can become abusive if spiritual leaders begin to use their authority to meet their needs for importance, power, or spiritual gratification.  Here you’ll discover how to identify an abusive church and also how to break free from its destructive legalism.  Insightful, practical, and solidly grounded in Scripture, this book has what you need to recover a grace-filled relationship with God and His church.

Families Where Grace is in Place, by Jeff Van Vonderen

Here is a message about how God’s grace can transform relationship within a marriage and family.  The first step is learning the simple difference between God’s job and ours.  God’s part is to fix and change.  Our responsibility is to depend on the Holy Spirit, serve our families, and help to equip them to be all they can be.  ~back cover

Freedom From Performing, by Becky Harling

My aunt read this book and knew my heart needed the message, too.  I will always treasure her copy of the book that she gave to me, full of her underlines and notes.

For years, author Becky Harling lived for the rave reviews of others, until God directed her from performance-driving theatrics to a leading role as a grace-motivated follower of Jesus.  She only needed to be herself, and so do you.  ~back cover

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

The late Lewis, Oxford professor, scholar, author, and Christian apologist, presents the listener with a case for orthodox Christianity. This is definitely not the shouting, stomping, sweating, spitting televangelist fare so often parodied; Lewis employs logical arguments that are eloquently expressed.  ~quote from Michael T. Fein on amazon.com

I love Lewis’ honesty as he writes in a logical way regarding Christianity.   The words he writes about “religious” people and their pride make me want to shout “Amen!”  There is good reason that this book is considered a classic.  I learned much from Mere Christianity at just the right time in my spiritual journey.

What’s so Amazing about Grace?  by Philip Yancy

Recommended to me by my friend Christie,  years ago.  This is one of the first books I read that showed me the practical ways grace is lived out.

In What’s So Amazing About Grace? award-winning author Philip Yancey explores grace at street level. If grace is God’s love for the undeserving, he asks, then what does it look like in action? And if Christians are its sole dispensers, then how are we doing at lavishing grace on a world that knows far more of cruelty and unforgiveness than it does of mercy?

“Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported saints, I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the “saints” put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the “saints”, not the “sinners”, who arrested Jesus.”  Philip Yancey

 101 Cups of Water, by C.D. Baker

My friend Kathy discovered this book a few years ago and bought me a copy.  It was a much needed dose of real grace for both of us.

For every time you’ve tried too hard, fell too far, or struggled too much, the refreshing cups in this book–or reminders of God’s infinite grace and mercy–will renew you like cool, clear water after a long, dry walk on a dusty, pitted, uphill road.

“I’ve been a believing Christian since childhood,” author C. David Baker explains, “but it’s my personal failures that have led me to the deep well of Grace.”

David poured his dashed hopes, broken dreams, haunting doubts, and paralyzing fear down that well and found all that’s collected here, all he, like you, needs for living with peace, joy, and purpose: cool cups of relief, comfort, revival, and sustenance.

Because Water Is Life  ~from amazon.com book description

He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen

My friend Hannah read this one first and sent it to me.  She knew I would benefit from Jacobsen’s words, too.

“So many Christians believe God’s love is fickle: when they sin, He turns away in disgust and anger. They vacillate between “He loves me” and “He loves me not” because of their behavior. That reasoning, writes Wayne Jacobsen, is as flawed as pulling petals from a daisy. Rather God’s love is sturdy, enduring, and undisturbed by people’s failings because God loves humankind not for what they do–but who they are. They are God’s beloved creation.”

Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Greg Boyle

The latest book in my journey of discovery regarding God’s grace and love, this book was so gripping that I immediately sent a copy to a kindred spirit friend.  It blew us both away.  Why?  Because this man LIVES out grace.  The book he wrote is rich-full of his thoughts and stories as he works with and learns from the gangs in his neighborhood.

For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.

Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.
These essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love and the importance of fighting despair. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.  


As I write about these books, I am struck by how they all came into my life at just the time I was ready to read them.  That’s God for you!  I hope that they are a blessing to you, as well.

Happy  Grace-Full Reading!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.  Zeph. 3:17

I want to read allllll the books


I would be most content

I dropped of David at school after an appointment and went to the library to return books.

I wandered the aisles and realized…..I wanted to read all the books.  I imagined being stranded and locked up, in a library and I didn’t mind the image.  So many books.  It’s amazing how many have been written, how many are contained at the library, free for the borrowing.

if my children


a stack of my own books by the bathtub

grew up


what we listen to in the car

to be the kind of people


reading in a coffeeshop

who think decorating consists mostly of


currently reading:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hamelin  This book is the published diary of a German Jewish woman who began writing it at the age of 44 in the year 1690.  She was compelled to write because her beloved husband had died and it gave her something to do during the long lonesome nights.  She had 14 children and she wrote the diaries for them.  In it, “She tells how she guided the financial and personal destinies of her children, how she engaged in trade, ran her own factory, and promoted the welfare of her large family.  Her memoir, a rare account of an ordinary woman, enlightens not just her children, for whom she wrote it, but all posterity about her life and community.  Gluckel speaks to us with determination and humor from the seventeenth century.  She tells of war, plague, pirates, soldiers, the hysteria of the false messiah Sabbtai Zevi, murder, bankruptcy, wedding  feasts, births, deaths, in fact, all of the human events that befell her during her lifetime.”

building enough bookshelves.

~Anne Quindlen

a cat, Ethan wrestling, Grace’s friend, & my books



We can’t keep kids or cats away from our beautiful Christmas tree!  And it makes me smile.

Hello my friends.  Rich and I are together today.  We went downtown for breakfast and then to the mall to finish up our shopping.  We are home now.  He has his feet up on the coffee table and my feet are on his lap along with his laptop.  And, I have my laptop, too.  Parker is next to me licking his leg loudly and Gentleman Gray is curled up on a blanket at the end of the couch.  It’s dark and pouring rain outside.  Poor Caleb will not get snow for Christmas this year, I’m afraid.

Have I mentioned that Rich is the head coach for our school’s wrestling team?  The first tournament was on Saturday and I got right up at the crack of dawn with him and rode with the team on the bus to the location, which was an hour away.  Seth and Sarah came, too.  Grace came along because she’s the team manager.  It’s a family affair.


Here is a picture of Ethan after he won a match.  The assistant coach is talking things over with him, his name is Jim.  Little brother Seth is hanging around wanting to say “good job” to his big brother.  ‘Cause that’s what you do.



Ethan is pretty intense so it’s nice when he cracks a slight smile.




Later on, Ethan got bloody and lost a match.  There’s his Dad in the background, and Coach Jim is about to take his arm and lead him to the trainer to get cleaned up.  Oh and there’s Seth again.


Here is a picture of Ethan right after he won another match.  All in all, he did very well.  He wants to do nothing but win, his heart is in the right place, but this time he lost 2 and won 2.  Ethan is a senior this year and we have high hopes that he will continue to do well in wrestling, and then he will move on to baseball.  Before we know it he will graduate, and I hate to say this but it looks like he’s heading for the service after graduation.  I’m trying not to think about it but stay tuned because by God’s grace that blog post will eventually be written.


THESE TWO ARE SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Grace and her suitor.  I took their picture from clear across the gym because I can’t help myself.


I hope your Christmas plans are all coming together.  I have decorated the house.  I have bought and wrapped the gifts.  I have planned a Christmas Eve brunch.  I have made cookies….but they have all been eaten so I plan on making more if I can gather up enough interest…I feel as though I don’t really need to eat anymore cookies.  I’ve been reading books instead of baking.  One of my favorite authors is Janice Holt Giles, who wrote books in the 1960’s.  “Pre internet” fiction is my favorite, it seems less spoiled and more sincere.  I read her book, Hannah Fowler years and years ago–many times, and finally got around to reading several more of her books which I picked up at library booksales.  I finished Tara’s Healing yesterday and then started Savanna.  I would be interested in knowing if there are anymore Giles fans out there!

David’s bus will arrive in half an hour so I have just enough time to read a few more chapters before the late afternoon rush of children/homework/wrestling practice/dinner begins.

You are loved.  ~Shanda

If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me. ~Author Unknown



(song that Grace played while on our road trip)


The Norman Rockwell Museum is one and a half hours away from our house, the perfect distance for a little road trip with Grace.

Grace has been busy at school.

I was beginning to miss my daughter.

Getting in the car and driving away from it all was the perfect solution.


We hit a detour which turned out to be pleasant because it took us right past a wonderful apple place, all situated on someone’s private property with a big old white house with mossy steps, dark red barns and charming little out buildings.  One building was a bakery and we each picked out a pastry and hot apple cider.


Another small building contained for-sale items like crafts and antiques.


There were apples, pumpkins and fall decorations.  There was also an ice cream window and charming places to sit all over the place, with homemade benches by the trees.

Less than fifteen minutes from our house, we wouldn’t have made this discovery without the “inconvenience” of a detour.


After a stop at the outlets, where Grace bought a purple dress and this sweater, we headed on down to Stockbridge, MA for the museum and oh my, what a lovely day we had for it.  An early fall day, the air was clear and warm and scented with the smells of late-season trees, grasses, flowers, and acorns.  I drank in the breeze like fine medicine.


Studying Norman Rockwell’s paintings never fails to warm my heart.  I just love the stories he told in his work, simple sweet stories that he observed from small town life.  The paintings are set within his time period, but still hold the familiar messages and tug on the heart-strings.

We began our visit by watching an educational video, much to Grace’s alarm because it was rather too much like school.  But I think she enjoyed it nonetheless.  The video was narrated by Norman’s son, Peter, which we thought was special.  It was shown in a room filled with all the covers NR painted for The Saturday Evening Post.

After the video, we slowly walked through the gallery, studying each painting and looking at some of the pieces under glass, like Rockwell’s paint sets.


Commonplaces never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative.  Norman Rockwell


Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American. I am a story teller.  Norman Rockwell



We walked down to his last art studio, which was moved from Rockwell’s private home through the streets of Stockbridge, to it’s place on the museum property.


We stood in a group of people, listening to a lady speak informatively and fascinating about Norman and the things in the studio.  For instance, he was a workaholic.  There was a green sofa in the studio that he took naps on when he finally got too tired to continue painting.  There were scratch marks in the wood floor from him cutting his canvasses.  He loved drinking Coca-Cola and would have served you some if you stopped by to say hello…….



We walked around the grounds together.

There was a small self-serve refreshment area with drinks and snacks for sale, so she got a lemonade.


An appropriate message for the day.


I enjoyed a small coffee.


When we paid for admission to the museum, they gave us a little clip to wear on our shirt.DSC_1158

DSC_1150…my favorite part of the day is so simple yet always a delight to my heart….this quiet girl who doesn’t talk much to me at home (perhaps because there is so much competition for my attention from 6 siblings) opens up and talks and talks in the car when we are alone.  There is nothing in the world like it.  Listening to the stories as we travel along, just the two of us.  And by the time we headed home the words were all used up and she played us songs from youtube, played on my phone through the speakers in the car and we sang….”Stand by Me”  “Under the Boardwalk”  “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” “The Wind beneath my Wings” “Count on Me” “Delilah” and so on…..



We left the museum and parked on the side of main street in Stockbridge to explore the town.


Our favorite place (you’ll never guess) was a little used book store/coffee shop.  Grace never wanted to leave.


She quickly found a book and sat down to read while I browsed the titles.



“N A T U R E”


We left with tea in our hands and a bag of books.

The one I am reading now is almost impossible to put down.  It’s a memoir entitled The Tender Bar, written by J.R. Moehringer.

A magical day, one I will not soon forget.  We headed back toward home, stopping at Costco on the way, listening to Grace’s songs.

And all of us who turn our eyes away from what we have are missing life.  Norman Rockwell

meatloaf and a book

I made a new recipe last night from the Saving Dinner cookbook and it was really good.


I doubled the recipe and we ate one whole meatloaf, plus a quarter of the 2nd.  The boiled potatoes weren’t a big hit but I will be making a small batch of Aunt Colleen’s fabulous potato salad with the leftovers.  I peeled and sliced dark orange organic carrots for a side dish, too.

M A K E   M I N E  M E A T L O A F

1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
4 ounces corn kernels, drained and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350.

Sprinkle chili powder, salt, and pepper over ground beef.  Add corn, onion, bread crumbs, eggs, bell pepper, and barbecue save, mixing thoroughly.  Using your hands, shape beef mixture into blobby loaf and place it on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (so it doesn’t swim in grease).  Bake for 1  1/2 hours or until cooked through.  Cut loaf into slices and spoon salsa over each serving.

NOTE* I used extra lean beef so I did the traditional method of baking in a loaf pan.  I let the children use their own topping; ketchup, BBQ sauce, or salsa.


The timing may be a little off, but I am currently reading this book and am enjoying it very much.  Enough that I’ll probably read it again in February.