I got this book from my favorite book-swap site, Paperbackswap.com.  Novels set in the Middle Ages normally do not appeal to me, but this one did.  Here’s the first two sentences from the synopsis on the back cover: “Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages — The daughter of a paper maker in a small French village in the year 1320–mute from birth and forced to shun normal society–young Auda finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word.”  This sort of intrigued me, so I dove in.  I would say I enjoyed about 3/4 of this book, maybe a bit more.  It was interesting to read about life in the 1320’s and also I feel like I learned a lot about the history of paper making.  There was a lot of brutality going on at that time, particularly related to supposed heretics of the church.  The burning at the stake and other unpleasant goings on were disturbing, but since they really did happen back then, I plugged along.  Unfortunately, the ending was quite predictable and weak.  That said, it was still interesting and brought to light a period of time that I personally was very uninformed about.

A few of my favorite things — of late

I thought I’d post a few very random things that I’ve been enjoying this past month.  Why? Well just for the fun of it, I guess :)


Have you tried this Chobani Greek Yogurt with oats?  It is SO good!!  I particularly love the apples and cinnamon flavor, which I believe is “limited edition” and won’t be around forever.  Oh well, I’ve tried other flavors too, and they’re all good.



Then there’s this yummy Pumpkin Spice Chai tea latte mix from Trader Joe’s. We went to Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago and they were having “Pumpkin Palooza”!  There were so many pumpkin-flavored items that I was overwhelmed, trying to decide on one item to try.  Hubby is NOT a big pumpkin fan (for some reason, the love of all-things-pumpkin in autumn seems to be reserved for native-born Americans, not transplants from England!) so I knew I wouldn’t be indulging in a lot of the pumpkin products.  There were pumpkin waffles, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin cheescake, pumpkin bagels, and on and on and on.  So anyway, I grabbed the chai latte mix.  It’s really yummy!  One caveat: This drink mix really needs some milk or cream mixed into it.  They say “just mix with hot water” but the addition of a creamer makes it SO much better.  I’ve even stirred some of the mix into my morning cup of coffee, and oh my, that’s delicious too!



One of the lovely things about autumn is the cooler, definitely crisp weather that encourages a more “cozy” atmosphere inside the home.  I so enjoy burning candles this time of year – they just add to the homey, cozy ambiance inside my little home in the forest.  My favorite candles come from Bath and Body Works.  They actually smell just like whatever the label says – and this one smelled good enough to eat!


Seriously, this smelled like a warm caramel apple, just waiting for me to take the first bite out of it!!

I also got a room spray from Bath and Body works, which again smells good enough to eat —-


Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin.  Perfect Fall Scent.

On to another random favorite – Rachel Ray’s natural cat food, “Nutrish”.


Our cat, Jinx, loves this stuff.  That is actually saying a LOT because Jinx has been a terribly persnickety eater for a couple years now.  He has turned his nose up at all dry cat food, until our neighbors brought a sample of this over for him to try.  He is now on bag number two and still loving it.  He also likes the Nutrish wet food, which is quite pricey (99 cents per small container) so we have to ration those out a bit.  Of course he still eats his Fancy Feast, but I’m just so happy he’s regained an interest in dry cat food.  Maybe he’ll put a little meat on his skinny frame.

TV SHOW:   I’m not a huge fan of regular TV.  I watch a few shows on the network channels, but not many these days. I watch a few shows on cable too, but again, not many.  Heck, I guess I don’t watch much in the way of TV.  On second thought, that’s not exactly true.  We do watch the news quite regularly and then there’s the sports.  Between my Seattle Seahawks football, Seattle Sounders soccer, and all of John’s favorite sports like English Premier League soccer (“football” over there) and Formula One racing, we do have the TV on quite a lot.  Too much, probably.  One show I really enjoy watching is “Nineteen Kids and Counting“.  Hubby will NOT watch this program, so I have to DVR it and watch it when he’s not around.  That’s fine.  We don’t have to like everything with the same passion.

19 kids

Recently, they have been showing the courtship, engagement, and just last night, the wedding of one of the girls, Jill.  I could write a LOT about the program – the pros and the cons – but I’ll try and keep this short.  I’ve always liked the Christian values portrayed on the program.  I can’t imagine having 7 or 8 kids, let alone 19.  Their “courtship” rules fascinate me {You can’t hold hands till you’re engaged; you can’t kiss until you are married}.  None of the kids have strayed at all from the values instilled in them by their parents [so far].  These are just things that keep me watching and keep me intrigued in their show.  Seriously, I could write a whole blog post on my thoughts on this show.  Mostly, I like it.


I love to cook (and eat) – I think everybody knows that by now.  I also love to save a buck when I can, and I found a recipe recently that is SO good and so reasonably priced, that I’ve made it twice so far this month.  The recipe is for Balsamic Steak using a very reasonably priced cut of steak called “flat iron”.  I bought a chunk of flat iron steak for $12 and will get two meals out of it.  That works out at about $3 per serving!  For a delicious steak, that’s just unheard of!! Click Here for a link to the recipe.  Note, you do NOT have to make the zucchini along with it!  It’s the steak with the balsamic glaze that is so darn good!!  The recipe calls for “skirt steak” but I used the Flat Iron and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. And simple? Honestly, Jinx the cat could prepare this! :-)




Yes, I shop online.  When my hip was SO bad, I did most of my shopping (other than groceries) online.  My favorite website lately is Ebates. This company pays YOU a percentage back of things you purchase online.  It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not!  I’ve received real, honest, old-fashioned paper checks in the mail from this company – rebates from my purchases.  The percentage of return varies from store to store, and yes, there are some stores that aren’t connected with Ebates…. but truly, most online stores I go to – from Amazon to Ebay to Bath & Body Works, to Old Navy, to Target – all get you a percentage back.  Anyway, if you are interested in signing up, it would be great if you used my referral link:                                                                    http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=U5stD54WdGVjOXp61HcfWg%3D%3D&eeid=26471



Next month we are hosting a wine tasting party!!  I’m so excited to get friends and neighbors over for a blind wine tasting, with everyone bringing a bottle.  Of course every bottle will be in one of those brown paper wine bags, so we won’t know what we are trying.  We’ll rate each wine with our “scoring sheet” and the person or persons bringing the best scoring bottle will win the “Grand Prize”!!  Ha!  Oh heck, there will be a prize, but how “grand” it is may be up for debate.  :-)  More about the party – possibly with some pics – on another post.

Hope you’ve enjoyed perusing a few of my favorite things!!

Someone by Alice McDermott


This book recently jumped off the shelves of our local library and into my hands.  What could I do?  I took it home and read it, not having for even one moment, either heard of this book or or read anything at all by this award winning author.  One might say this is a book about “nothing”…. and yet, it’s a well written chronicle of an ordinary woman living an ordinary life, starting in pre-WWII Brooklyn, New York.  I loved how the author recreated what I am quite sure were very realistic scenes of those years in Brooklyn, and possibly (probably) just about any other mid-sized town in the USA.  I love going back in time… to simpler times — however many of the problems that the main character, Marie deals with are still around today.  I won’t go into a plot on this one – I knew absolutely nothing about this novel, refusing to read the inside cover beyond the first two or three sentences.  I was glad to NOT know what was going to happen, and just let the book flow.  At first it was a tiny bit of a struggle getting used to the vacillating between the early years and the years with Marie as an adult woman…. but it all fell into place and I really enjoyed this book….. this book about nothing but ordinary life.

All The Light We Cannot See

allthe light

I recently finished this exquisite library book, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – a Northwest author from Idaho.  Published in May, this novel is getting accolades from all around the literary world, and I can certainly see why. First off, I love the setting(s) in France and Germany – and the time period – before and during WWII. “Unique” is a good way to describe the way this book is written.  It runs parallel between two main characters, a young blind French girl, and a young underweight but brilliant German boy.  This is not, repeat NOT, a romance story in ANY way.  One of the unique things about this book is the way it’s written – in short but to the point chapters.  This does not mean it was a short book – it’s over 500 pages.  Going back and forth between Marie-Laure and Werner, we see how different their lives are, yet how each is affected by the coming of war, and the war itself.  I hesitate to write more about the plot, but suffice it to say that this is one heck of a satisfying read.  To ANYONE who enjoys WWII history, you will thoroughly enjoy reading this amazing book.  For a full synopsis, click here for a great review from the New York Times.

September empties, a fave, and a fail

This month I saved my “empties” to share on the blog.  I enjoy watching “empties” videos on YouTube, but since there is NO way I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I’ll share here :)   So, lets get started with a group photo of all the goods….


For me, it’s always a great feeling to finish something off!!  Let’s briefly discuss each item.  Starting from the left and working right, the first is a small bottle of Bath and Body Works “Into the Wild” lotion. This smelled so nice and I liked it a lot. Would I repurchase? Well, I have such a big back up right now of body lotions, that I’d be crazy to buy more right now!  Next are two Origins products.  I love Origins, and these two items are both in the “Grapefruit” scent. The top one is “Body Buffing Cleanser” which I used in the shower.  It’s really nice, thick, and has little micro-beads that help scrub. The Origins tub is Grapefruit “body souffle”. I got both of these as a Christmas gift a couple years back.  I loved the body souffle SO MUCH that I hoarded it and didn’t use it, except for “special occasions”. Dumb, dumb, dumb!  When I opened this tub a short time ago, ready to lather myself in it – I was shocked to smell instantly that the product had gone off.  It smelled so icky.  I am ashamed to admit there was still about 1/4 of the lotion left. It really hurt to throw this out, but heck, I’ve learned a lesson!! EVERY DAY is a special occasion! Use the lotions and potions you love EVERYDAY!  Next to the Origins, in the back, is a Bath and Body works cologne in “Moonlit Path”.  I’ve had this for years and finally finished it off.  Loved the scent, so soft and slightly flowery and a bit musky.  Okay, I’m terrible at describing scents, but it was nice!  In front of that is a Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater shower gel.  I got this as a gift last year and decided to USE IT NOW – before it went off too!  Smelled great, but then I do love roses.  Next to the shower gel is Victoria’s Secret small spray perfume in “Amber Romance”. I know I’ve raved over this scent before, so I won’t do it again, except to say, I love it and will definitely repurchase – someday! The last bottle on the right is Arbonne’s “Phyto Prolief” Natural Balancing Cream. I may be wrong, but I think this cream helps to somewhat reduce the symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes. I’ve repurchased this stuff numerous times, and will keep on doing it until I get through this “phase” of my life :)  Just for the record, I don’t buy this from Arbonne, but off Ebay for a much more reasonable price.

Next, a fail:  Maybelline Color Tattoo in “Barely Branded”.  I got this a bit over a year ago after watching some of my favorite YouTubers sing it’s praises.  It was a bit too shimmery for me, but I did use it on occasion.  Last week I grabbed it and when I opened it, it didn’t look anything like the photo below.  It was totally dried up!!!  Impossible to use.  So, it went directly into the trash.  What a disappointment.  I do have other shades of Color Tattoo and really like them.  Here’s hoping they don’t dry up as well!


The next item – EOS lip balm in “Melon” also ended up in the trash this past month.  I’d been using this, mostly at bedtime for quite a while. It too started to smell funny, so it joined the Color Tattoo in the trash!  I’ve replaced it with a similar EOS balm, in “Sweet Mint” – love it!


Now for the Fave!  First off, I love autumn – my favorite time of year!  I’m particularly fond of the Fall colors, in clothing, lips, and nails!  I recently picked up a gorgeous new lipstick by Maybelline in their ColorSensational Matte line, called “Touch of Spice”. Matte lips seem to be all the rage this season, so I went to WalMart and spent the $5.50 on a tube.  This is the creamiest, most wearable matte lipstick I own!! It glides on effortlessly!  Here’s a pic of me, sporting “Touch of Spice”:


It’s just a really nice color for Autumn!!  I’ll be wearing it a lot!  Funny thing, I realized I have a lot of lipsticks that are similar in color!  Here’s a swatch:


Yikes!  I guess I REALLY like this color!!  The Plum Rum is the sheerest lipstick, and the Rum Riche is almost exactly the same as the new Touch of Spice, except it’s NOT matte.  Then there’s the Revlon lip butter in “Sugar Plum”.  I love that stuff too – so much that I bought a back up the other day!!

I guess that’s it for this time. Happy Autumn, everyone!!

Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor



It took me WAY too long to finally listen to this engaging novel, the latest in Dr Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country” series.  I should clarify and say that he does have another new edition coming out next month entitled “An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War”.  For now, this is still the newest addition to this entertaining series, and I’ve had it for nearly a year!  As is the case with all the other books in the series, I listened to this one on CD.  Again, I was enthralled with the fabulous narration/reading by the talented John Keating.  I know I could have read all these books, but once I started listening, I can’t imagine “reading” one of these any other way.  I probably should say that “anyone would love these novels” – and possibly that’s true…. but to be totally honest, I think a person must have at least some interest in medicine, to thoroughly enjoy this book.  I had no problem following the dual story lines… one set in the late 1930’s and the other in “modern day” –  for this book is the mid 1960’s.    I’m completely attached to all the quirky characters, and feel like I know them all!!  Can’t wait for the next installment!

Memoirs of a Geisha


Okay people, I will fully admit that I may be the last person on the face of the earth to finally get around to reading this iconic novel.  It’s been in my “to-read” pile (which actually encompasses two huge bookshelves) for several years, and I was ready for something different from my norm.  I do love my WWII books and other historical fiction – and in a way this certainly does qualify under the Historical Fiction category.  However, it’s definitely out of the norm (for me) in the setting – which clearly was/is Japan.  I found this novel very interesting, fascinating, and hope that the author really did do impeccable research, as this is all I know and what I believe to be true about life as a Geisha.  In the rare case that you haven’t read this one, I do recommend it! While it’s not exactly riveting reading, it certainly did keep my interest, all the way through to the end. It piqued my curiosity enough for me to look up YouTube videos on Geishas, their dances, and instruments.   Read this if you’d like to be transported back into the 1930’s Kyoto Japan and learn about a lifestyle that still exists, albeit in MUCH smaller numbers. As is often the case, I now would love to see the movie!