Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's a Brand New Year!




First Book of the Year 2016:  Everything Everything

Hope you will join in and post the first book you are planning to read in 2016.
Link up here at Sheila's Book Journey.

What is your first book of the year?



I'd also love to see what books you plan to read in 2016.
What books are you hoping to read this year?



My word for 2016: Play.
With a capital letter.
What's your word?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Learning to See...Creatively


Learning to see creatively. Wow. Think about that. What a huge and bold title for a book. Is seeing creatively something we can teach? Or learn? And, if so, how?

Bryan Peterson takes on this task. But he doesn't seize the reigns of teaching-to-see-creatively lightly. After all, this is the third edition; Peterson has been grappling with the ideas in this book since 1988. Peterson is no novice to photography, to creativity; his website reminds us that he has been a successful commercial photographer for over thirty-five years. He has lots to share with those of us who have just come to this world. And he does so.

Peterson shares his secrets of how to see creatively in three ways. First, in a didactic, left-brained way, he provides the design, color, and composition rules for photography, some of which, one hopes, we have intuited for ourselves through our early successes and failures. Second, he shows lots of beautiful examples of his struggles to try out the rules. And, third, he offers exercises to build personal knowledge of those rules.

Some books can be read in an hour; this book is a book I've lived with for several months. That, for me, is the mark of a good book: I don't just read the words, but I reread the words and try out the ideas.

It's the trying out of the ideas that is most important, I think, in a book like this. So I thought I'd share some of my results.





For a true test, you'd really need to see some before-pictures, but take my word for it, these are much improved.

What do you think? Does this sound like a book you should read?







Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Cookies, My Secret Santa Box, and a Holiday Selfie


If you know any teachers, you know we live for Christmas break. School events pile on top of each other day after day during the school year until we can't remember when we have taken a good deep breath.

Last week I did lots of deep breathing. Happily.

Selfies are harder than they look. Especially if you are trying to include two non-social-media types and a sleeping baby. But, somehow, everyone was smiling. 


I only wish our Chicago tribe could have stuck their heads into the shot, but maybe next Christmas. 



My sweet daughter-in-law came over one day and we baked and decorated cookies. (The blue are coconut, the yellow lemon, the red peppermint, the orange are orange, and the green almond.)


We made up some of my Super Secret Prize-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies, too. (Back when I was a stay-at-home mom, my recipe won second prize in a contest at Wal-Mart. I won a mixer.)

I also baked some pumpkin bread, some homemade cinnamon rolls, and the aptly-named Angel Biscuits. We shared a delightful Christmas morning brunch with family. For the first time, I used my mom's dishes. The table was lovely, I think.


My Secret Santa box arrived. Did I get the best Secret Santa of all? I'm pretty sure I did. Coffee, toffee, three wonderful books, and, yes, that's a real Eiffel Tower from Paris. Thank you, JMill at JMill Wanders!


Believe it or not, both my husband and my son and daughter-in-law got me books for Christmas. 


Here was another surprise. My husband is a gem cutter, and he cut a gemstone for me from one of the bigger garnets I found in Montana last summer!


Lots of other wonderful surprises, too. Gifts from the children at school including a homemade book. A rosary from Jerusalem. A handmade beaded cross. Beautiful scarves. 

But the best gift this year, of course, is my darling Annie. 


Merry Christmas, everyone!



What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Walk-a-Mile: 6 Churches, 1 Mile

The world often feels divisive to me, and one of the worst culprits, astonishingly, is religion. It would be bad enough if it was just the usual schoolboy-ish "My church is better than your church" rant, but some misguided fanatics demonize other churches and some even kill in the name of religion.

Whew. Just typing these words deeply saddens me.

But hope for me can come in small ways. 

In my town, for an amazing forty years now, churches have come together to host Walk-a-Mile. People begin at one church and travel church-to-church-to-church on what is traditionally the first Monday night in December. At each church, people hear part of the Christmas story from Scripture and sing a carol or two. Each church is dressed in its Christmas best. More and more people join in the walk as choir members and pastors from each church are added as it progresses. The police ride along on bicycles to keep us safe and people carry flashlights to light our way. 

I've walk-a-miled many, many times and it is always a happy experience. Over the years, I've visited largely black churches, churches that sing acapella, traditional mainstream Protestant churches, contemporary Christian churches, Hispanic churches where we sang in Spanish, Catholic churches, huge churches, and tiny churches. Every single church I've visited was filled with the love that means Christianity to me and, happily, I have been able to take a bit of that with me to share with others. 

Here are some photos from recent years on Walk-a-Mile.

United Methodist Church of Alvin


Scripture and songs are shared in sign at the Methodist Church.


Guitar accompaniment at the Methodist Church.


Alvin Church of Christ


First Christian Church-Alvin



First Presbyterian Church of Alvin


The choir at the Presbyterian Church.


Grace Episcopal Church of Alvin with Templo Cristo Para Todos (Christ for All Temple, Assembly of God)


Pastors from Templo Cristo Para Todos and Grace Episcopal Church alternately read the Christmas story in Spanish and English.


New Hope Church in Alvin


National Oak, a huge live oak tree, lit for Christmas, just outside New Hope Church.



Thank you to Sprite of Sprite Writes for reviving the Virtual Advent Tour this year and for including me in the tour. I hope you will visit all of the participants in this year's tour and, in doing so, will feel, as I do, a little more hopeful about the world.



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Leaves Under My Tree

Santa, are you listening? 

I've been a good girl this year.

Here's what I'm hoping you bring me this year:

The Monks and Me: How 40 Days in Thich Nhat Hanh's French Monastery Guided Me Home

The Dust that Falls from Dreams

Dear Reader

Word Catcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words

Deep Dark Fears

Baklava to Tarte Tatin: A World Tour in 110 Dessert Recipes

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It

I'll Give You the Sun


Fates and Furies: A Novel




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sunrise Over My School



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Best Books I Read in 2015



It's that time of the year.

No, I'm not talking about Christmas; I'm talking about the time of year where I take a close look at what I read last year.

I read a grand total of 397 books. Pretty amazing. But, before you get too amazed, consider that 250 were children's fiction picture books. 

So let's look at the remaining 147 books for a minute:

Fiction: 65
Nonfiction: 82

Conclusion: This was a nonfiction year for me.

Add the 250 children's fiction picture books back in, please. Add in the additional 43 other children's books read.

Adult: 104
Children: 293

Conclusion: This was a year for reading children's books

Finally, let's separate all the books by some of my favorite genres. 

Travel: 3
Poetry: 3
Memoir: 7
Classics: 2

Final Conclusion: I read a lot of children's books and nonfiction this year, but I didn't read much of my other favorites. I'd really like to read more literary fiction, more classics, and more travel in 2016.


Finally, without further ado, here is the list of the books I loved reading this year...

Now I'm off to visit your blog. Please, please share your thoughts about any of these books or offer suggestions for me for 2016. 




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Riding Her Bicycle to the Little Library




For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Authors I Read for the First Time in 2015



Some are famous. Some are not-so.



Brian Jacques




Ann Weisgarber





Anthony Horowitz (not to be confused with Tony Horwitz)








Joan Aiken





Thomas Hardy





Walt Morey





Tim Parks





Charles Portis



Jon M. Sweeney





William Faulkner



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.