“A Green Tree….”

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“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. “Martin Luther

I can’t claim credit for this idea.  Like many good ideas, I saw some amazing book trees on Pinterest, and we decided to try our own at the high school where I work.  I think it turned out really well, don’t you?  I probably should have taken some time to post this before the holidays, but, oh well.  We already have some ideas for improving our design for next year, so I hope you’ll check back in about 11 months or so!  It’s New Year’s Day, so, technically, I can still say, “Happy Holidays!”  May lots of green trees and good books await you in 2013!
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It’s Finally Here! Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas: The Christmas Issue

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I am so excited to announce that the Christmas issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas has finally been published!  If you’ve never had a chance to experience her beautiful, inspiring online publication, it’s time to head on over to her website to take a peek!  Once you start looking at this issue, as well as back issues, you will become enamored and will want to read them all! This publication is a unique mixture of craft ideas and tutorials with a vintage feel that is strong on whimsy.   Christmas is right around the corner, and I know you will be heading to the craft store right away so you can whip-up an adorable vintage mesh stocking (just like the one you got as a kid!), some shiny tin ornaments for your tree or perhaps a miniature deer mount as a gift for the friend who has it all!  All of the directions, along with fantastic pictures, are provided to make it a piece-of-cake to create something delightful to get into the holiday spirit!

I was thrilled to contribute to this issue by reviewing some heart-warming holiday reads.  Furthermore, I served as the editor of this issue, and was able to lend a scrutinizing eye for typos and other small nit-picky details that perhaps only someone with an English degree would even bother to notice!

To experience some unique craft ideas and be introduced to some adorable new products — and of course, read my inspiring book reviews — hurry over and take a look! If you read (or have read) any of the book titles that I recommend in my article, I sincerely hope that you will stop back and leave me a comment with your thoughts.  It’s so much fun to talk books!

Happy Holidays, happy crafting, and happy reading!

For the Creative Book Club: “The Thirteenth Day of Christmas”

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“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”  –C.S. Lewis

(This is a quote from the book.  Marva gives Charlee’s dad his own special apron with this saying to honor his penchant for storytelling.)

“This new Christmas novel by New York Times bestselling author Jason F. Wright is filled with laughter, tenderness, and of course, hope as these delightful characters watch an old Christmas favorite turn into a  true Christmas miracle.”  Shadow Mountain Press

I recently reviewed this book for my upcoming article in Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  It’s not too early to start thinking about a good book for your book club’s holiday gathering!  This book is a fast read, and would be perfect for the busy season when many of us are caught up with holiday preparations.  So, if you want to make your next book club gathering extra-special…. here are some fun ideas!

Food: 

One of Marva’s favorite aprons from her collection was embroidered with the quote, “If life gives you lemons, throw them through the candy shop window and grab some taffy.” That’s not the only reference to candy in the book! Charlee’s father describes her hair as the color of “Hershey’s Kisses.”  Miss Marva fills her advent calendar with gumdrops (except for the 26th day, of course). Oh, and Charlee receives some yummy Milk Maid caramels as one of her secret gifts. Why not fill some sweet little candy dishes with saltwater taffy, Kisses, gumdrops and caramels and place them around the room for your guests to enjoy?

If your plan is to just serve munchies, don’t forget to fill some big bowls with popcorn.  After all, Marva and Charlee spent a beautiful afternoon decorating for Christmas which included stringing, and eating, popcorn!

If you want something more substantial, and you don’t want to try to recreate Miss Marva’s entire Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings, perhaps you would like to make “Anything Goes Nachos” that the Alexander’s they enjoy when Charlee comes home from the hospital.

Decor:  This one’s easy!  Since the book is a Christmas story, it’s fitting to decorate for the holidays. However, in the book, it’s important for Marva to have Christmas lights and her nativity, so you won’t want to forget these.

In decorating for this book, you absolutely MUST have an advent calendar.  Can you find one with 26 days?  If so, that would be the ultimate tribute to Marva and Charlee!  If you don’t have one, perhaps you might want to splurge and give yourself an early gift.  The one pictured here is available from WilliamMarie Designs on Etsy.  Check it out!

Any decorations that pay homage to the “Twelve Days of Christmas” would also be appropriate.  I might not be able to resist this set of drinking glasses from The Sisters Pick on Etsy.

Finally, Miss Marva is very proud, both of her apron collection, and also her habit of hanging her clothes on the line to try.  How about hanging a string or wire across an open area, and using clothespins to display a collection of vintage aprons, or perhaps some cute ones made with lovely scrapbook paper.  Better yet, have each guest come to the meeting wearing an apron of her choice – with a prize for the one that Miss Marva would have appreciated the most!  Like this one from CreativeMama213 on Etsy….

Or this one from Sweet Magnolia’s Farm

Discussion:

* Let everyone in the group share a special holiday tradition.  Each of us has such unique and special ways to honor the season.  Why not share them with others?
*Talk about the ways you can, or already do, extend the attitude of Christmas beyond December 25.
*Tell about a special adult mentor or friend who made a difference to you when you were young.

Activity: 

In Charlee’s family, it was a birthday tradition to gather after dinner, and before cake, to say something that they had learned that year from the person celebrating his or her birthday.  This would be a fun, easy activity for book club.  Have each person choose another member of the group and share something they learned from her this past year.

Ask each member of the club to bring a gift inspired by the Traveling Elves during the “Thirteen Days of Christmas.”  Gather these gifts and deliver them to a children’s Christmas charity in your community.  What could they bring?  Rubber ducks, stuffed toy dogs, kazoos, a Big Bird stuffed animal, purple gloves, or perhaps even a stuffed monkey like Charlee’s beloved Melvin.

Gifts/Favors:

I’m sure everyone in your group would be honored to receive a lovely apron with a cute or wise saying on it.  Each time they put it on, they would be reminded of Marva and her selfless acts of kindness.  Or, you could create some of these mini-aprons from the blog Hostess with the Mostess in Christmas fabric and they could be used as little favors.

Feeling Crafty?  I’ll bet you could make something simple and special with these charms from Etsy shop Jewel Be Charmed.

Final Thoughts:

I hope your book club will enjoy this heartwarming book during this holiday season.  Ideally, each person who reads it will be inspired to do something kind for someone in need, and if it leads to your own version of the “Thirteen Days of Christmas”  all the better!  Perhaps a new tradition will begin this year — as a tribute to Marva Ferguson!

I hope you and your book club will enjoy this sweet, holiday story.  I would love to hear from you about your group’s discussion, and whether or not any of these creative ideas worked for you!  Happy Reading, and Happy Holidays!

Photo Credits:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/veggiefrog/2145862702/”>veggiefrog</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/unprose/67242158/”>unprose</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastian_bergmann/334297130/”>Sebastian Bergmann</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/375042268/”>Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mukumbura/4180968389/”>Mukumbura</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Book Review: “World of Pies” by Karen Stolz

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“The main facts in human life are five:  birth, food, sleep, love and death.”

–E.M. Forster

This E.M. Forster quote is fitting to accompany my review of the novel World of Pies by Karen Stolz, for each of these elements…. birth, food, sleep, love and death,  plays a role in the life of the main character, Roxanne Milner.

This novel is a quick read that takes the reader on a journey to Annette, Texas, and spans the turmoil of racial tensions in the 1960′s to the scars of those returning from the Vietnam war.  Although larger social issues are present, the real story is the very normal journey from childhood to adolescence, and eventually adulthood, experienced by Roxanne.  Each chapter paints a picture of an important period of time in the life of the extremely likeable main character.  The reader is granted a glimpse into the small moments that formed Roxanne into a caring, sentimental, and supportive wife and mother.

From her first experience with racism at the  town’s first pie-baking contest, Roxanne learned from her mother the importance of holding true to one’s convictions.  When she gets to meet her mother’s first high-school boyfriend, she sees her mother as a person with a story that is more complex than she ever imagined.  When her beloved cousin returns from Vietnam injured and addicted, she learns the importance of family and how time can heal wounds.

These experience, and many more, are framed by the Milner family’s love of food, and each chapter is concluded with a down-home recipe–one of which is sure to inspire the reader to roll up her sleeves!  Doreen’s Frozen Fruit Salad is sure to evoke nostalgia and making it will surely connect you to the daily ritual enjoyed by Roxanne and her father at the local lunch-counter…swivel-stools and all!  I’m sure if you indulge in Christina’s Lemon Meringue Pie, each bite will thrill you with tangy sweetness and remind you of her courage and conviction in a time when the color of one’s skin seemed to prompt exclusion.  We’re all familiar with the power of food to heal, and Aunt Ruthie’s Lemon Pound Cake did just that when Roxanne’s mother had surgery, and she was faced with the reality of her mother’s mortality.

If you’re in the mood for a coming-of-age story that will make you laugh and cry…this is it!  The recipes are a bonus!  Happy reading!

“The Art of Reading” with Mitzi Curi

The Art of Reading

“Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I am so excited to introduce you to a wonderfully creative lady with an eye for all things vintage.  Her blogs showcase an endless array of time-worn treasures that take me back to yesteryear, and her ideas for using found objects in craft projects are simple and delightful! One of my favorite posts of Mitzi’s was a recent one in which she highlighted many of the trends and items that became popular in the 1970’s (a very inspiring decade!) I am a huge fan of antique malls and consignment shops.  When I don’t have time to go shopping in my real life, I can get a little “fix” by visiting Mitzi’s blog. She takes the most wonderful pictures of the best booths in the business!  I’m also anxious to try one of her recent craft projects…. Aren’t these decoupaged plates adorable?

And really, have you ever seen anything so cool and classy?  This amazing necklace is made from vintage wallpaper and can be found at her Etsy shop.  I love it!

Name:  Mitzi Curi

Blogs: www.mitzismiscellany.com  AND www.mitzimadeit.com

Etsy Shop:  www.mitziscollectibles.etsy.com

What creativity do you share with the world:  I’m an antique dealer specializing in affordable wares that can be used to add vintage style to home interiors.  I feel antiques are the ultimate way to “go green” and avoid buying poorly made furniture and home décor from the superstores.  I enjoy crafting with vintage materials and up-cycling pitiful old objects that might otherwise be thrown away.  My passion for my vintage world shines through in every blog post!

  •  Book OR e-reader? Books
  •  Buy OR lend from the library?  Buy
  • Hardcover OR paperback?  No preference.
  • One book at a time OR several?  Several.
  • Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait?  Be patient.
  • Bookmark or fold over the page corner?  Bookmark.
  • Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what?  Abandon.  Time is precious around here!
  • Laugh OR cry?  Laugh!

How do you acquire the books you read?  Bookstore.

How do you choose the books you read?  Often through a book review in a newspaper or magazine.

Do you have a book that you love so much that you re-read it periodically?            I used to read Gone with the Wind nearly every spring.  I loved the romance of it, plus the historical aspect.

Do you have a childhood favorite?   Starting around third grade, I began reading biographies of famous women such as Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.  I think these books inspired me because they told of women who overcame hardships and difficulties in their lives to become successful adults.

Who have been your reading role models, mentors, or companions over the years?  My whole family reads a lot, especially my brother, who also writes.  In fact, he is currently writing a book on art pottery that should be published within a year.

Do you have a favorite genre or genres?  I have always loved non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies.  I love learning about how people lived long ago.  It kind of fits with being an antique dealer.

Do you have a favorite author or authors?    Lady Antonia Fraser.  She’s written several books on “royals” that I’ve enjoyed, such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Here are my top ten favorite books of all time:

  • Helen Keller:  A Life by Dorothy Hermann
  • In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
  •  The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Lady Antonia Fraser
  •  Edie by Jean Stein
  • No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman
  •  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  •  Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

How do you fit reading into your busy life?  It’s getting harder and harder the busier I get.  I find myself reading more magazines than books, I’m sorry to say!

Do you have any books that are special keepsakes?   If a book is given to me as a gift, I keep it forever.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I have actually read……. “Vox” by Nicholson Baker.

Reading is important to me because….It keeps your mind sharp, you can acquire new information, and it gives you something to talk about with others.

I love to display my books…. I display some of my older books in an antique “barrister’s bookcase”.

 If I could step into the setting of a book, and experience it first-hand, it would be…The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I love the era, the fashions, the decadence of the roaring twenties!

One of the most memorable characters I can recall is….Scarlet O’Hara, of course!

This is what I remember about learning to read…. I don’t remember learning to read, it seemed to just happen.  I feel bad for kids that struggle so much with reading.  It must be so frustrating!

Thank you Mitzi for sharing your reading “history” with us!

For the Creative Book Club: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

I just finished reading a book that has left me transported, moved and hesitant to start a new book because I don’t want to break the spell I’m under!  Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in you life?  Well, that’s how I felt when I started this magnificent novel.  This book is about so many important things…. family relationships, loyalty, overcoming grief, and especially the important connections we form with our pets.  Having just said good-bye to our beloved seventeen year old Aussie, and adopting a puppy really connected me to this book in a meaningful way.

Unable to speak from birth, Edgar is a special boy who has found a way to feel completely normal helping his family raise and train the unique breed of dogs that they sell.  When tragedy strikes their family, Edgar must rely on his keen instincts, as well as his unshakable bond with his dogs, to seek the truth and find his own way in the world.

Favorite quote from the book:

“So much of the world was governed by chance… Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed… You swam in a river of chance and coincidence.  You clung to the happiest accidents– the rest you let float by.”  (p. 457)

Creative Book Club Ideas:

Food:  Edgar’s beloved dog, Almondine, is his best friend and protector.  Their bond goes beyond the ordinary.  So, why not choose an almondine recipe to share with your book club members? Simply put, almondine means “Garnished with almond slices.”  If your club enjoys a full meal together, there are numerous almondine recipes for chicken, vegetables or fish.  This one for citrus glazed swordfish almondine looks amazing!  If your club traditionally serves a dessert, try this delicious Strawberry Almondine treat!  OR perhaps you want to recreate the meal that Henry used to “lure” in Edgar and the pups while they watched from the field:  Root beer, baked beans, barbecued brats, potato salad, and lemon meringue pie.  Yummy!

Decor:  One of Edgar’s jobs is naming the new pups.  He relies on his dictionary to help him choose such important names as:  Baboo, Forte, Essay, and Tinder.  For a creative table decoration, take pages from an old dictionary and either remove them from the book or make photocopies to make simple place mats and/or coasters.  Check out this table runner for inspiration!  Or perhaps make some cute candle holders with canine inspired pictures and/or words.

Activity:  Take inspiration from this poster that illustrates different dog breeds and create your own display of dog pictures.  Give a prize to the guest who can identify the most breeds correctly.  OR  Ask guests to bring a picture of their dog  or a special dog they once had and put them on display.  This post from “How Does She” gives some really great ideas!  Be sure to give guests the chance to talk about their special dog(s) and tell a fun story.  Of course, don’t forget to take a look at the author’s website for background information and discussion questions.

Our beloved Hondo enjoying a high mountain lake

Gifts/Favors:  Edgar communicates entirely through sign-language and written notes.  Why not honor this part of the story by giving your book-club friends a token inspired by sign-language such as this charming pendant necklace.

  If you’re crafty, you can order a digital print of these charming images and make your own sign-language charms as favors.  This Etsy find is also a sweet, affordable gift idea – a Scrabble tile pendant that says “I Love You” in sign language.

Final Thoughts:  If you choose this title for your book club, please send me feedback on your discussion and if any of these ideas worked for your group.  I know you will have a lot to discuss, and your members will have several ideas to debate!

Book Review: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life”

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“At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”    –Dame Rose Macaulay (1881-1958)

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life:  How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. (Rizzoli New York)                                     by Mary Randolph Carter  

Have you ever read a book, and thought that perhaps it was written specifically for you?  This lovely book is likely to strike a chord with many of us who live with: collections, memories, children, pets, clutter, work and lots of creativity. Mary Randolph Carter, author of several books dedicated to “junk,”  has written a book that provides much-needed affirmation for those of us who experience a love-hate relationship with our houses.  We hate the burden of keeping them clean and tidy all of the time, but we love to bring lovely things into them, and fill them with the items that speak to us and bring us joy.  Somehow these two desires create a conflict.  Carter’s solution?  Give up the idea that our houses have to be perfect, and simply live in them in a way that brings comfort and joy not only to you, but perhaps more surprisingly, your guests as well!

Seriously, think about the houses you enjoy visiting.  Are they the stark homes in which you feel nervous to set foot inside?  The homes where not a picture frame or throw pillow is out of place?  If you’re like me, you much prefer your friend’s house where you can admire the refrigerator filled with family pictures, paw through the stack of books on the ottoman, tuck your feet under you in a cushy chair, and delight in the creative vignette of collected whimsical items on the mantel.  A little dust?  Who cares.  A friendly dog giving you a friendly greeting?  All the better!

This book is a treasure-trove of lovely photography that gives readers a glimpse into the collected items and lovingly “lived-in” homes of not only the author, but a host of other diverse folks.  These are the kind of homes you want to sneak into and peer into every nook and cranny admiring the chipped vases, distressed picture frames, frayed quilts and stacks of books.  (Take a look at the picture on page 114-115 and you’ll see what I mean!) Truthfully, when I look at the homes featured in many decorating magazines, I say to myself, “No way!  Where’s all of there STUFF?”

Take Away’s:

1.  There really are other people out there who have a compulsion to bring something home from the side of the road or from a junk shop.  They don’t NEED this item, they just love it for some unexplainable reason, and it makes them happy to look at it.

2.  For many beauty lies in the imperfect and the informal.

3.  It’s okay to embrace your home less with the “housekeeper’s broom and more with the homemaker’s heart.”

5.  On page 131, Carter shares her practice of keeping a personal welcome book… a place for friends to jot down their memories of visiting your home.  This idea stuck with me and it is my intention to purchase a simple blank book and some colored pens to encourage my guests to chronicle their time at our cabin in the mountains.  Isn’t that a fun, simple idea?

6.  There’s a fine-line between living with our treasures and being on the next episode of Hoarders.  Be mindful that you don’t cross the line!

7.  It’s okay to have a “purposeless room!”

Favorite Quotes:

“At times you may think you’re crazy to own all these things or else brilliant for finding these treasures so many other eyes missed!”— Liza Carter Norton (p. 27)

“Clutter is the poetry of our homes.  It is a fingerprint of an experience, a souvenir of our childhoods, an expression of our humor, a collection of things that we just can’t live without… Embrace it, make peace with it, take control of it, share it, reorganize it, and when the time seems right, bid it farewell.” (p. 51)

“Never stop to think, “Do I have a place for this?” (p. 259)

Happy Reading! I hope you will pick up a copy of Carter’s book soon.  I found mine at my local library, of course!  Sit down in a comfortable chair with a glass of ice-tea  (Be sure to bring the sticky-notes so you can mark all of the pictures and quotes you will want to re-visit!)  and spend a few quiet hours honoring your creative, imperfect home.  After all, you can dust later!  (You might also like my review of Dottie Angel: the Peachy Crafty World of Tif Fussellhttps://kerriemore.com/2011/10/06/dottie/)

Aside:  On more than one occasion, I have mentioned my favorite magazine Where Women Create created by Jo Packham –  which is a quarterly gallery showcasing the creative spaces of a diverse group of artists.  If you are a fan of this publication, you will know what I mean when I say you want to slow down and savor each picture, admiring each lovely item in these creative spaces.  I felt the same way about Carter’s book. On more than one occasion,  I would put the book right up close to my nose to try to figure out what lovely item was tucked on the corner of a shelf or under a table.  That’s how I enjoy each lovely issue of “Where Women Create”!

(Photo CreditsA Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter published by Rizzoli New York.)

The Art of Reading with April from Flourish Cafe

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“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

Okay, it’s no surprise that I am passionate about books and reading, but I am also a huge fan of art and great quotes.  I have a journal where I write down all of the best quotes I come across.  I love looking at it from time to time for a little inspiration.  That’s why I absolutely fell in love with the designs of April Starr from her Etsy shop, Flourish Cafe.  Take a look at her stunning artwork, photography and sweet quotes, and I dare you to choose just one that you can’t live without!  All it takes is one visit to her shop to tell that April is also a lover of books.  I’m sure you will enjoy her interview as much as I did!  Happy Reading!

Meet April….

Find April Here:  FlourishCafe: a place for those who love food, books and art

What creativity do you share with the world? I love to create illustrations and graphic design pieces based on things that inspire me – especially food, cooking, books, writing and reading. I sell these art prints in my shop, FlourishCafe.etsy.com, along with some recipes and select vintage items. On my blog, TheFlourishingAbode.com I share a wide variety of creative projects, from upcycling old records into side tables, to recipe ideas for serving tea, to my free illustrated planner printables. Basically, I like to explore a lot of different areas of creativity! Some day I hope to share my fiction writing with the world … but I’m not quite there yet.


  • Book OR e-reader? Book!
  • Buy OR lend from the library? Library, unless it is a book I or my family will read multiple times.
  • Hardcover OR paperback? Hardback all the way!
  • One book at a time OR several? One fiction at a time, but I may be reading one fiction, plus some non-fiction.
  • Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait? Wait!! As a writer myself, I know the work and skill it takes to craft a story leading up to the end and I want to enjoy the story as the author intended it. Don’t take a shortcut, the joy is in the journey!
  • Bookmark or fold over the page corner? Hm, does random scraps of napkins count as a bookmark? Anything but bending the pages!
  • Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what? Abandon. There are too many other worthwhile things to accomplish and other great books to read to stick around in a book that I have no more desire to read.
  • Laugh OR cry? Laugh!
  • Cover Love:  I love the cover of antique books by just about anyone.

What is your favorite place to read? When I was a kid I came across an old poem that I simply fell in love with (and have since made into a print in my shop – it is my single most popular print, in fact) that I think answers this question pretty well:

“Oh for a book and a shady nook,
Either indoors or out,
with the green leaves whispering overhead,
or the street cries all about.
Where I may read at all my ease
both of the new and old,
For a jolly good book whereon to look
is better to me than gold”
-John Wilson 1785-1854

Do you have a book that you love so much that you re-read it periodically?  I don’t really re-read books very much, personally.  Much of the reason I like to read is the discovery of the journey of the characters. Once I read their journey, I rarely go back and read it again.  It’s not that I don’t love the book, it just feels rather like going to visit a friend and having the exact same conversation with them that you had the last time you visited.    This is probably why I am so drawn to books that are in a series, so that I can “visit” again with the characters, without repeating. So that being said, when I DO re-read a book, it has to be a very special book. One that I have read at least 2 or 3 times is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Marianne and Col. Brandon remind me very much of my husband and me.

Do you have a childhood favorite? Oh, I had so many childhood favorites. Perhaps my very favorite was Anne of Green Gables. Anne (with an E) is probably the literary character I have identified with the most. I loved her vivid imagination and her ability to have great intentions but still be able to make a complete mess of things. I seemed to do that type of thing a lot, too. I also have a very special place in my heart for Dr. Seuss. I still remember that the first book I ever read completely on my own was Green Eggs and Ham.

Do you have a favorite genre or genres?    I tend to dance around through a few different genre phases.  Every few years I seem to go through a stage of reading a lot of mystery, especially Agatha Christie.  Then I might go through a while where I read a lot of young adult novels, especially fantasy or dystopian pieces.  Then I’ll have period of time where I prefer to read classics and historical fiction. But usually I’m in one of those three categories, and they don’t really overlap much while I am in each one.

Do you have a favorite author or authors? In terms of fiction, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Edward Lear, Louisa May Alcott, O. Henry, Lewis Carroll.  What I love is how they can vividly take you into their imagination, simply and cleanly.

I’m stranded on an island, and I get to have five books.  They are:

The Bible

How-To-Survive-Being-Stranded-On-an-Island (or some such similar title)

How-To-Build-a-Raft-and-1001-Other-Ways-to-Escape-an-Island (or similar)

– A blank book (so that I can write)

– Something lighthearted and humorous to keep up my spirits, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I vividly remember being read aloud to… My Dad used to read aloud to our whole family in the evenings.  One of my favorites was when he read to us from the “Little Britches” series.  It’s very similar to the “Little House on the Prairie” series in that it is based on a true story of a child in the wild west, but this series is about a boy, and happened about 50 or 60 years after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time. It’s a well written and fascinating series about hard work, adventure, family and history. Plus my dad is really good at doing great voices for the different characters!

One of my favorite quotes from a book is:   Ahh, this is so hard to choose. My shop is full of prints I have made from different book quotes!  But perhaps one of my favorites is: “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

I love Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking Glass. For my senior project in high school, I adapted the book into a script, and directed and acted in our simple production of the book.  It may not have been ground breaking, but it was a lot of fun!

Thanks April for sharing your beautiful artwork and your love of words and books with us. Happy drawing, happy writing and of course, happy reading!


Summer Reading List, Oh How I Love Thee!

More Books

“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”  –Maud Casey

Okay, I’ll admit it…. I’m spoiled.  I have an amazing job in public education, and while teachers don’t go into education for the money, we do get some other enormous perks = SUMMER!  The two months that I have off are filled with many activities which include a lot of “catching-up” with home tasks, chores and the little things that I neglect during the school year.  However, it is a huge priority for me to sit down and read as often as possible during my time off.  As an avid list-maker, I have made several summer lists, but the most important one is my reading list.  Here it is!  I would love to hear your feedback on my choices!

First of all, I LOVE magazines!  I will be reading many!  My favorites:

Of course, I have more books to read than I can count, but these have risen to the top of my stack!

Wicked by Gregory Maguire has been highly recommended on a couple different posts from “The Art of Reading” series that  I publish on this blog (Katie and Jennifer), and it’s time to see what the buzz is all about!  I have not seen the play version, so I am going in completely “blind.”

I can’t believe how long I have been meaning to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski!  It has literally been “on the stack” for years.  A few of my good friend really loved it, and I hear it is a dog story, so I’m anxious to finally enjoy it!  The time has come!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley was a thrift-store find, and the title is so enticing! I don’t always read mysteries, but every once in awhile I really crave a good one! This is apparently the first in a series of mysteries featuring a young sleuth named Flavia de Luce.  I’m hoping that I love it, so I can get lost in the rest of the series.

It’s won several accolades and has turned up on recommended lists for both adults and teenagers, so I want to read Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward for its potential for my high-school library.

A fellow co-worker told me that The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff was one of her best reads last year, and I love Meg Rosoff.  I see on her blog that there may be movie-rights in the future…  I love to read books and “cast” them in my mind with the actors I would see in the roles!

I have a new puppy!  In my mind, this should probably be the first book I read!  I have never read a Cesar Millan book, but I figure, he must know what he’s doing!  I have high hopes that after reading this book, my little Arlo will be sitting-up, rolling over, and sleeping through the night!

I am going to be taking a stitching class via Big Picture Classes from the talented Amy Powers, and I spotted these two books at my local library the other day.  The class is called “Happy-Go-Lucky Stitchalong.”  Doesn’t that sound fun?  These books are full of inspiration and published by my favorite craft book publisher Lark Books!  I have already found some great inspiration for my project with Amy!

Have you made your summer reading list, yet?   What was the best “summer book” you can remember reading?  I would love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by… happy summer, and happy reading!

My Adorable Distraction

More Miscellaneous

“My little dog, a heartbeat at my feet.”  – Edith Wharton

Meet Arlo.  So, I’ve been a little distracted from my creative pursuits, and this is the reason.  It’s all his fault!

As a result, reading books, writing book reviews, dreaming up creative book club ideas (and waiting for publishers to contact me about writing articles and book reviews for their publications) have been at the back of my mind.  Right now I’m a tad sleep-deprived, but covered with wet puppy kisses.  Bliss!