Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday | Oranges.

...in honor of Georgia Tech's appearance tonight (vs Mississippi State) in the Orange Bowl.

We're having a few friends over to watch the game. Very casual with just sandwiches and snacks. I'm glad I left up the twinkle lights (and somewhat revived the poinsettias...at least it will be dark when guests arrive!). Of course I have a sparkly gold sweater to wear with my jeans and flats (is a Georgia Tech alum thing or a me thing - do y'all have sparkly gold sweaters too?)

The chex mix cooking in the oven smells very much like a party.

Hopefully I'll feel like one, too - after a short nap!

Wishing all of you the very best New Year's Eve... certainly one that's not as stressful as I fear ours might be Mississippi State is a 6.5 point favorite - yeah, it's gonna be tough.

Until next year....

 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | My 2014 Book Report.

...today's topic is about books. Carole's asked us to share our ten favorites from 2014. But first, I want to talk a little about what my reading year was like overall because it was a great one!

snagged from Goodreads - you can see all the details (including bigger book covers!) here
Not only in terms of quantity - I read more books in 2014 than in the previous two years combined. It helps being in two bookclubs (eight books - actually it surprised me the number wasn't higher, but a few of the selections were ones I'd already read and I didn't re-read them) and joining Books on the Nightstand Summer Bingo (24 books read from Memorial Day to Labor Day, including three for bookclub). I think the Book Bingo really got me excited about reading. I certainly didn't keep up the pace for the rest of the year, but I did continue to read two books at once. And I explored genres I wasn't even familiar with (fantasy?) before the summer.

But also quality. In addition to new genres, I seemed to read better books. Or at least I thought they were. I had a record twelve 5-star books and a whole lot that earned four stars (with only one, my most recent finish getting only two stars).

This morning I tackled "favorites". I'm glad I got to choose ten - I don't think I could've come up with  a shorter list!

I added them to a new shelf - and through the magic of Goodreads can share them here interactively (I only wish my html skills were this good... and note I cannot figure out how to get my entire review to show up here - if you're interested, you can click through to read the rest.) Note that these are sorted in date read, from first to last. Interesting that only one preceded Book Bingo, but four followed it. Maybe we always tend to have more recent books as "favorites"?

Mary's bookshelf: 2014-favorites

The Rosie Project
5 of 5 stars
I loved this! laughed out loud and even teared up a few times. highly recommend. I also loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. something about the way the characters see the world and can stay so focused fascinates me.
The Sparrow
5 of 5 stars
whoa. I finished it over an hour ago and I'm still...spent. This was an amazing story, beautifully told. ...and now I need someone to talk with about it. desperately!
The Invention of Wings
5 of 5 stars
I was going to give this book 4-1/2 stars until I listened to the author tell about how she came upon the story and the parts that are true ... and I loved it that extra half star. I've lived in the South for over 30 years and I am kind ...
The Garden of Evening Mists
5 of 5 stars
oh my this was a wonderful book - one of my favorites in a very long time. it was a beautiful story about love and loss and choices and the writing was beautiful, too. I listened to this and then went back to read favorite passages. I'd ...
Rebecca
5 of 5 stars
I was completely and totally captivated. I know I'd read this at least twice before - once as a teenager and again when I bought the late 1990's edition paperback that still sits on my bookshelf. yet somehow, I'd managed to forget how th...
Life After Life
5 of 5 stars
I've just finished listening to this (and btw, I give Fenella Woolgar 5 stars for her fabulous narration, too) and I have this wonderful happy/sad feeling that only accompanies a really great story, well-written...that I've finished. I f...
The Lies of Locke Lamora
4 of 5 stars
I really loved everything about this book. Great story - I gasped out loud as a few of the plot twists were revealed. Truly, I had no idea where it was going to end up. Great characters, including a really lovable main character (who is ...
Ordinary Grace
4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this one (funny, I'm now getting into "boy" stories...maybe because I have new grandson?). Parts of it evoked that wonderful movie from a few years back, Stand by Me. And the straightforward "faith and grace" that I lo...
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
4 of 5 stars
I tried to read this years ago; I don't think I even made it 50 pages before I returned it to the library. But on Kym and Margene's recommendations, I tried again. This time I got the audible version and I LOVED it. There were two differ...
The Bone Clocks
5 of 5 stars
wow. I finished the last little bit yesterday morning and I'm still getting my head around all of it. early on, I described the book as a "hot mess of a story" and it is (all in a very good way). The plot is a wild and crazy ride (I don'...

goodreads.com
I'm hoping to continue the reading momentum into 2015. I've joined another challenge, Bookriot's ReadHarder. This one is also 24 books, and the topics are going to broaden my horizons even more. You can see more about the challenge here, and the books I'm planning to read here (note that I still have to decide on a graphic novel and a guilty pleasure... I've got plenty of time for both!) I'm looking forward to trying new authors and genres. I've talked a few friends into joining me and I'd love more company; I don't think you have to "do" anything official to join...just start reading!

I can't wait to see what books everyone shares today. These topics always add at least a few books to my queue!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014.

Christmas morning toast
...was a most festive affair. We drank and ate and even managed a few photos. mostly of Charlie!
with his dad, smiling at his Poppa

and with his mama and his new alphabet letters - he especially loves C and T!
I actually awoke with a start Saturday night thinking I didn't have a single photo of Sara and then I remembered Friday's lunch. Girls only (we were going to make an exception for Charlie, but he and Katie were detained at the pediatrician's ... big boo!) at our favorite Bistro VG.


I have no photos of food, so you'll have to imagine lobster and burrata flatbread, fried calamari, wine, mussels, salmon, scallops, smoked chicken salad, beignets and a pear brown butter tart.
me, Sara, Lydia (my sister-in-law), Jillian (my niece) and Karen (my sister)
The rest of the weekend flew by. Sara and I saw Wild on Saturday. I'm determined to see all the best picture nominees for this year's Oscars and she promised this would be on the list. It's certainly deserving. I'd read - and enjoyed - the book and the movie is just as good. Reese Witherspoon is a very believable Cheryl Strayed and Laura Dern is wonderful as her mom.

My other memories are about cloudy skies and rain. It was actually beautiful for a few hours Saturday afternoon (I told Sara to enjoy it, she wouldn't see weather like this again until March, she said no, more like May :-) but most of it was black and white.
from Saturday morning's walk
Thank goodness for twinkle lights!
the entrance to my neighborhood on last night's walk
Today the house seems really empty. I thought it might, so yesterday, when I got back from the airport, I told Marc I was going to leave Christmas up until after the New Year. He didn't argue. Really, everything except the poinsettias are doing great. I think they're suffering from so much dark. Just like me. I pulled all the pots up to the front windows and as I type this, I see bits of sunshine starting to peek through the clouds. Hopefully they'll perk up. They only need to last a few more days!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Around Here.

...we're feeling grateful to be here. It's been three years since the airport figured into our holiday plans and it threw us a curve ball early this morning. Marc's flight was supposed to arrive about ten minutes before Sara's and they'd drive home together. He finally took off four hours late and her flight was on time. So as much as I said I was glad I didn't have to make that drive to the airport...I'm glad I did. It's pretty awesome to be one of those standing in the arrivals area waiting for...and finally greeting...someone special.
We stopped at Whole Foods on the way home. I'm not sure Sara was quite as thrilled as I'd hoped but we got what we needed (and a bar of Mast Brothers chocolate that wasn't even close to being on my list!). We had enough time back at the house to get two holiday drinks underway (winter sangria and Fairytale NY - the photo above is the Winter Warmth simple syrup...I think it's going to be great with bourbon, gin and champagne...pretty much the perfect mix-in, right?) before a quick visit with Charlie (and his parents). And finally home...just a few minutes after Marc (over four hours late, he needed a nap...I would too...and a cocktail!)
Anyway, I've been hoping for over a week that the sun would come out to share a real look "around here." But now it's Christmas Eve and it's still dark out...at least the twinkle lights shine. Here's what it looked like around here earlier this afternoon.
Since then, Sara has transformed that mess of dairy on the kitchen counter into cranberry cheesecake.
Now it looks like Christmas and smells (and sounds - yep, those are real jingle bells on Holly's collar) like it too!
Wishing you warm smells and jingle bells...xo.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | To Do.

...this week Carole's asked us to share our to-do lists. I'm thinking mine is a lot "less hectic" than many. Mostly because I'm not giving any knitted gifts this year (well, at least not wrapped under the tree)! Here's a peek at what I'll be up to for the next 48 hours or so:

1. Clean the kitchen.

2. Finish the laundry.

3. Pay bills and file paperwork.

4. Pickup giftcards for our girls' lunch out on Friday.

5. Wrap Charlie's gifts.

6. Total Wine.

7. Make Mexican Soup for tomorrow's lunch.

8. Settle on menus for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas brunch.

9. Whole Foods for whatever else we need (...or don't - I can't wait to show Sara my new favorite store).

10. KNIT! that photo above is the back of Ondawa, bound off last night. It's my "winter" gift to Katie. I never planned to have it finished for Christmas, but I know she'd like to wear it...soon! I've got a front (just like the back), two sleeves and a few seams to go. I need some good TV (the last two episodes of Homeland lasted for 2+ inches of twisted rib yesterday), good podcasts (I'm missing Serial already!) and a good book or two to keep me company.

Totally do-able, right? especially since #10 is completely open ended.

Hoping your lists aren't overwhelming either; it's more fun that way!

 

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Best Accessory.

...I wore my just-finished Christmas beret to our family holiday gathering yesterday, along with the cowl that my dear friend Penny knit for me. I asked Katie to take photos.

And this morning I texted that first one to Penny to show off the cowl. I wrote "...it's warm and sparkly...the best kind of accessory for dark cold winter!"

She replied "I think Charlie is the best accessory - period." She's right!

 

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Currents | December 2014.

...new traditions and making lists!

Loving: twinkle lights.

Embracing: new holiday traditions (Sara's moved away, Katie has her own family, a new baby... it's time!)

Reading: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I'm about halfway through it, and sadly, it's at best a 3-star book for me. I can only hope the second half is better! I did, however, just finish what might be my favorite book of 2014, David Mitchell's Bone Clocks. It was amazing.

Laughing: out loud while listening to Cabin Pressure (thank you, Bonny, for the recommendation!)

Listening: to the Serial podcast (well, not anymore I guess, until Season 2) and Spotify Radio.

Splurging: on wine clubs. This fall, I've teamed up with Katie, my sister and another friend to join three new clubs, all shipping wonderful reds from Paso Robles.

Craving: pizza (ha! if I'd posted this yesterday morning like I'd planned, this was it - but Marc took pity on me and we had pizza for dinner last night). in a completely different vein, now I'm craving an epic, meditative knit. I'm thinking about the Churchmouse Two-tone Twill Scarf, following the suggested modifications to knit a tone-on-tone square in lace-weight.

Hoping: I can get a photo of me and Marc to send out New Year's cards.

Planning: one thing for 2015... I just need to figure out what it will be!

Wearing: cowls and hats.

Knitting: Ondawa for Katie. planning to start Deephaven for myself (a KAL with Katie) this weekend. also house socks for the girls.

Enjoying: planning menus. making lists.

Remembering: Christmases past.

Anticipating: Sara's arrival on Wednesday ... and Charlie's first Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One Thing for 2015.

...I've been watching Elise's Make29 project from the sidelines all year.  And now, with just two more months to go, I'm excited to finally join in. Her December project, which goes live on Monday, seems just the thing for 2015.
image from Elise's blog
You can read her post for the full story, but the big idea is to do one thing every day next year. I love having the whole picture on one page. I love boxes to check. and I'm totally buying into the idea that "progress is better than perfection".

So...now I have to pick the thing. I want it to be meaningful, worthwhile and doable, but a bit of a stretch.

Some ideas that I've considered in the past hour include:

  • 10,000 steps
  • learn something new
  • spend time with my journal
  • and/or a devotion
  • read
  • knit
  • connect with a friend

I'd love your input - what would you suggest? (and if you know, what would you choose to do for yourself?)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Watercolor Wednesday | Looking In.

...hope your Wednesday was full of warmth and twinkle lights!

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | The Christmas Letter.

...I'm thinking this won't surprise anyone who reads my blog, but I don't regularly send Christmas cards and I've never sent a Christmas letter. The few years that I have mailed cards, I've written a short note on each one before signing our names, but a short personal note is miles from the "Christmas card letter". 2014 has, however, changed much about our lives and maybe it's time to start sending that letter (or then again...maybe not*)
from Sara's graduation - Marc, Katie, me, Sara, my dad, Rob - three generations!
But Carole's asked us to share what we'd include in our letters... and I'm going to play along. Here's what you might (not!) read in a letter from us this year:

  1. blah blah blah...it was a busy year and full of changes. all good!
  2. Sara graduated from Georgia Tech in May with three generations of Georgia Tech grads cheering her on. It was really special to have my parents (my dad is our first generation grad - BChE '61) there. We win no points for higher education diversity in this family (and I'm ok with that).
  3. Sara & I spent ten days in Paris and Florence celebrating that milestone...and not worrying one bit about what Sara might do next.
  4. Two weeks later, she landed a great job. in Madison, Wisconsin. I'd never been there and Marc might've visited once on business. Over the next six weeks, she found an apartment, started work...and moved. (as of this writing, the jury's still out on Wisconsin winter.)
  5. Meanwhile, Katie & Rob are settled into a lovely home...only four miles away. And in September, they welcomed little Charlie Clay - our first grandchild. We love being Marmie & Poppa - Charlie is real charmer!
  6. Marc works. Suniva opened a second factory in Saginaw, Michigan this fall and celebrated their 100,000,000th cell production a few weeks back. A hundred thousand anything is a huge deal, and I'm really proud of what they - and Marc - have done.
  7. ...and plays golf. When the weather allows. Which is most of the time, but not all of the time. He still needs a plan for what he'll do when once he's retired and it's cold and rainy.
  8. I'm still knitting. and teaching knitting. And loving them both.
  9. I'm also active in my church. Our Prayer Shawl ministry has grown to supply shawls for a local infusion center and Georgia's Presbyterian Homes and baby items for a local single parent ministry. 
  10. Georgia Tech beat Georgia (30-24) and we're making New Year's Eve plans around the Orange Bowl. 

Like I said - a very good year. and I'm glad I won't have to actually send this letter!
it's going to be very hard to beat last year's card!
*I am hoping to get another fun photo of me, Marc and Holly sometime over the "holiday" to send out festive cards for the New Year. (but they won't include a letter. promise!)