Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Challenge Wrap-up and New Challenges for 2013

I participated in two challenges this year:  War Through the Generations Reading Challenge, which had World War I for the theme, and The Sketchbook Challenge, which had a different theme each month.  I am very pleased that I met both challenges.  My goal for the reading challenge was to read 4-10 books, and I actually read 11 books.  My goal for The Sketchbook Challenge was to complete and post at least one sketchbook page per month, and I did this as well.

I will be participating in the same two challenges in 2013.  The War Through the Generations Reading Challenge theme will be the American Revolution, and The Sketchbook Challenge will continue to have a different theme each month.

I have moved the 2012 challenge pages to the Previous Years' Challenges page and set up new pages for 2013 challenges.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dragon House by John Shors

This book has been on my shelf since 2010, when the theme for the War Through The Generations Reading Challenge was the Vietnam War.  I had trouble finding books I wanted to read that year (at least, books other than those written by Tim O'Brien, whose books I loved).  I didn't get this one read during the year of the challenge, but I finally decided to read it this month.

Iris travels to Vietnam with Iraq war veteran and childhood friend Noah to finish building a center for street children that Iris's father had begun.  Iris's father had fought in the Vietnam War when Iris was a child, and right before he dies, Iris promises him that she will go to Vietnam to complete his center.  I had read Beneath a Marble Sky by the same author and really liked it, but I was disappointed in this one.  I didn't think it was as well written, the story was a bit too predictable, and the characters were flat.  I rate it 2 out of 5.

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

Eighty-six year old Hennie Comfort moved to the rugged mining town of Middle Swan, Colorado, as a young widow, shortly after the end of the Civil War.  It is now 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, and 17 year old Nit Spindle has just moved here with her husband.  They form an unlikely but close friendship almost immediately.  I found the story, and the writing, to be mediocre.  I rated it 2 out of 5.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

Our holiday card this year (2012).

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin

This is the second book by this author that I've read; the first was Mistress of the Art of Death, which I reviewed here.  I really enjoyed the first book, which is why I decided to read this one.  And while I liked this book fairly well, I didn't think it was as good as the first one.  It might have been because I'm not a huge fan of mysteries, and this was more about the mystery and less about the characters than the first book.  Adelia (who is the mistress of the art of death) is commanded by King Henry II to find the murderer of his favorite mistress, Rosamund Clifford.  Henry's estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect.  I rate this book 2 out of 5.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Spice of Life

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites - especially using my mother-in-law's recipe. It seems the perfect entry for November's Sketchbook Challenge theme of Spice of Life.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

I've read several good WWI books for my reading challenge this year (The Light Between Oceans, The Summer of Katya (WWI was a small part of each of these books), and Birdsong to name a few), but this ranks right up there near the top.

John Hilliard has been wounded and spends some time recuperating at home.  He finds that he can not bear to be at home where no one understands what it is like at the front.  When he returns to the front, he knows very few of the officers left in his unit; most have been killed or disabled in the fighting.  He must share space with a newly arrived officer, David Barton.  At first Hilliard is angry about this; he wants to be alone.  But Barton and Hilliard become very close friends, even though they are very different.  Hilliard is very proper and straight laced and has never had a close friend, while Barton is very friendly and outgoing and everyone likes him.  There are scenes of life in the trenches and of fighting and even of the boredom in between the action.  But mostly it is about the friendship between these two men.  I enjoyed the writing style very much; it was easy to read and lyrical without being overdone.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

I like books that start with a historical event, change something about it, and then build a story from it.  This book is based on the premise that Jewish refugees created a temporary safe haven in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, after the Holocaust and the collapse of Israel in 1948.  Now, 60 years later, the District will be reverting to Alaskan control.

Meyer Landsman is a homicide detective whose life is a mess. He and his partner, Berko Shemets, have quite a few unsolved cases they are trying to wrap up before Reversion.  And to make matters worse, a murder occurred in the fleabag hotel in which Landsman currently lives.  The story was interesting and enjoyable enough, but it was overwritten.  There is a review on Goodreads that puts it very succinctly:

"You know that fashion rule where, before you leave the house, you're supposed to quickly turn to a mirror and then take off the first accessory that catches your eye? Well, I feel like Chabon should have done that with his prose, which is sometimes so ridiculously overwritten and boastful that it ruined an otherwise pretty interesting story."  Edan Lepucki

Overall, I rated it 3 out of 5.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quilting Retreat

This small pumpkin was part of the table decorations for our retreat.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Taking a Break

Journaling reads, ". . . from shopping. Since I was at Food Pyramid, I could get a mocha from Starbucks and sketch this pepper, which is for the chili we're having for dinner. Oh, and cornbread. Yum!" Sketched straight to pen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Cabinet of Curiosities

I don't have an actual cabinet in which to store my curiosities, so I use a wooden box (which I guess I need to sketch too). Sketchbook Challenge October 2012 theme.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Big Adventure

I didn't even know what this piece of equipment was as I was sketching it. It was much more rusted than it looks in my sketch, but I didn't have a lot of time - I was just glad to get as much of it done as I did.

Devils Den Trees

So pleasant sitting outside to sketch.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Devils Den Fireplace Cabin 9

Sketching fireplaces and floorplans is becoming a habit. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Devils Den Door Cabin 2

After a long day, I wanted to sketch something - anything. I started with the door handle, not intending to fill the page with the door, but that's what happened.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

When Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia after World War I, he takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island off the western coast.  He hopes the isolation will help him to heal from the war.  While on leave back to the mainland, he meets Isabel Graysmark.  The two fall in love and marry.  One day, very shortly after Isabel has had a stillbirth (following two earlier miscarriages), a boat washes to shore with a dead man and a live baby.  Isabel convinces Tom, against his better judgement, to keep the baby and claim her as their own.  This lie has devastating effects on everyone involved.  The book is a reminder that there are many shades of gray between right and wrong and there are no easy answers in life.  It was very well written and I rate it 4 out of 5.  The moral dilemma reminded me of The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold

The subtitle of this book is A Novel Inspired by the Life & Marriage of Charles Dickens.  I've actually never read any Charles Dickens, although I've seen several movies based on his novels.  I really enjoyed the book, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had.  There were many references to his writings with names changed.  This made it a bit of a guessing game for me, but the story was strong enough even without knowing all of the references.  The book is narrated by Dorothea Gibson, estranged wife of Alfred Gibson, and begins with Alfred's death.  Dorothea looks back over her life, both with and without Alfred.  It was this author's first book, and I thought it was very well written.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

Another book I chose to read after reading several reviews of it on War Through The Generations blog.  I didn't like the book as much as the other reviewers did.  It was a re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice, set in Texas right after the end of the US Civil War.  This is the first retelling of Pride and Prejudice that I've read (there are a LOT of them), and it's been 4 years since I read Pride and Prejudice (which I've only read once and really liked).  I wanted to like this book, but I didn't think it was very well written.  There were cliches and colloquialisms and the dialogue didn't ring true with me. The story was all right, but not great.  Overall, I rate it 2 out of 5.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Summer of Katya by Trevanian

I decided to read this book because of a review posted by Semicolon at War Through the Generations blog.  It is set in France in 1914, right before the start of World War I.  Dr. Jean-Marc Montjean, a recent graduate of medical school, works for the only doctor in the small village of Salies.  He falls in love with Katya Treville, a beautiful young woman, after treating her twin brother's injured arm.  Katya's brother warns Montjean to stay away from Katya, but Montjean is convinced that Katya returns his affections.  He soon realizes that the Treville family has been running from an old secret.  It was a well written story that was part mystery, part love story, and part psychological drama.  I didn't think that World War I was either a primary or secondary theme of the novel, but since a review was posted on the War Through the Generations blog, I'm counting it for my reading challenge.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

I finished this a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting around to writing about it. It was the story of four Englishwomen who spend a month's holiday together in a beautiful Italian villa. They didn't know each other before their holiday. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but instead it was a sweet story; a little too sweet for my taste actually. It was too much like a fairy tale with everyone living happily ever after.  I rate it 2 out of 5.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Pattern

My DH brought me this pine cone to sketch so I had to sketch it - I want to encourage that behavior! It is also the perfect subject for the current month's sketchbook challenge theme of pattern. This is the first page in a new sketchbook I made a couple of weeks ago, so I'm also trying out a new (to me) paper - Arches En-Tout-Cas. It is cold pressed on one side and hot pressed on the other side. This is the cold pressed side. So far so good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Round and Round I Go

I finished all of my decorative stitching on the little quilt I started in Jane Sassaman's class. Now I just have to quilt and bind it.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Reflections on Sunflowers

I used fabric from Jane Sassaman's line and a pattern from her newest book, Patchwork Sassaman Style. I hurried to finish it because I'm taking classes from her in a few days at the Oklahoma Quilters State Organization's Fall Retreat.

The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey

I decided to read this book after reading reviews of it on the War Through The Generations blog.  In order to count towards the reading challenge, WWI should be a primary or secondary theme.  While parts of the book occurred during WWI, it really didn't seem like either a primary or a secondary theme to me.  But since both hostesses of the challenge (Anna Horner and Serena Agusto-Cox) counted it, I guess I can count it too.

The book is a historical novel set in early 20th century Northern Ireland.  I didn't know much (or any) Irish history, so I learned a lot about Ireland's struggle for independence from Great Britain, the formation of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and the partitioning of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The main character, Eileen O'Neill, was a very strong, opinionated, and defiant young woman.  I sometimes got tired of how angry she was much of the time, although much of her anger was justified.  The love story portion was a bit too predictable for me, but otherwise I enjoyed the book.  I rate it 3 out of 5. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

I had heard of this book for a long time, and decided to read it for my WWI Reading Challenge after watching the PBS movie.  As usual, I enjoyed the book much more than the movie, although I thought the movie was good when I saw it earlier this year.

Part one begins in1910 when Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, is sent to France by his company to learn more about the manufacturing process of textiles from Rene Azaire, the owner of two factories.  Stephen and Azaire's wife Isabelle fall in love and have an affair while Stephen is staying with the Azaires.

Part two jumps to 1916 and Stephen is an officer fighting in France during World War I. Like another reviewer mentioned, I didn't know about the tunneling that was done in the war. WWI really was one of the most brutal wars ever fought, and I've never really understood what it was about. This book didn't get into the reasons for the war, but it certainly did an excellent job of describing the horrors of it.

Part three jumps to 1978 where Stephen's granddaughter Elizabeth is trying to learn more about her grandfather. While this part of the story was not as interesting or compelling to me, there was one scene that I thought justified having this section in the book:  Elizabeth visits a veteran who had been a soldier with Stephen.  He'd had his left leg amputated and still suffered from shell shock and had lived in a veteran's home for almost 60 years. His only visitor had been his sister who had died almost 30 years earlier. There was also a parallel between Elizabeth and Isabelle Azaire that I won't say any more about so I don't give away too much of the story.

I thought the book was very well written and I rate it 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Shelter 1 - Silent Spring Resort Cabin 4

I wanted to sketch our cabin and almost forgot. I started it Friday evening and finished it Saturday morning. Then I added the sign Sunday morning before we left - I just penciled it in and added ink and watercolor in our hotel room Sunday evening (the cabin was done straight to pen - no pencil). This is also for the August Sketchbook Challenge theme of Shelter.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Melodrama

I sketched the Gunnison Arts Center from our car across the street. I added the title (torn from the program) and the journaling the next day in our cabin. My right wrist was getting better and I was tired of painting with my left hand, so this was done with my right hand again.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cabin 4 - Silent Spring Resort

I drew the floor plan of our cabin last fall when we went to Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas. I liked the record, so I think it's going to become a tradition. I did this left handed again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Gebhart" Mountain

Our second day in Colorado, we hiked the trail leading to what we named Gebhart Mountain the first time we came to this area 27 years ago (it didn't have a name on our map). My DH fished while I sketched - again, mostly left handed.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


We spent a week in cool Colorado getting away from the plus 100 degree heat in Oklahoma. Our first morning there, my DH went fishing and I went along to sketch. I painted the flowers and wrote the journaling with my left hand (I'm right handed) because I was trying to protect my right wrist.

I learned yesterday what is wrong with my wrist:  I have what is called Ulnar Impaction Syndrome, which basically means that the ulna bone is about 1/4 inch longer than my radius bone, and this causes wear and tear on the structures in my wrist.  I had a cortisone injection in the wrist yesterday, but the most successful treatment is to surgically shorten the ulna bone.  Needless to say, this doesn't sound appealing to me at all; I will have to weigh the risks of surgery against my level of pain.  I got a new wrist brace which is more comfortable and more protective than others I have; and the pain has eased somewhat with rest.  So I'll just have to see how it goes over the next few months.  No decisions have been made.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

True Believers by Kurt Andersen

This is a memoir of sorts of fictional character Karen Hollander, who grew up in the '60's. She becomes a high power attorney and is even considered for the supreme court, but then removes her name from consideration when she becomes concerned that a big secret from her college days could come out. I, too, grew up in the '60's (although I'm a few years younger than Karen's character), so I found this story very compelling. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Circle 1

July Sketchbook Challenge theme is circles. I have a new palette with paints I've never used before (Winsor Newton Cotman Watercolors - I've always used artist grade paints but I wanted the palette).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

I really enjoyed this historical novel set in the 1660's in Martha's Vineyard.  It is narrated by Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a Calvinist minister who has made it his life's work to convert the native Wampanoag to Christianity.  She becomes friends with Caleb, who eventually becomes the first native American to graduate from Harvard College.  It is a very well written story about the clash of cultures and the difficulties for women who were intelligent and interested in learning.  This is the fourth novel by this author and I have read all three of her previous novels:  Year of Wonders (my favorite), March, and People of the Book.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

Clarissa Granville is almost 17 years old when the story begins.  She has just spent an idyllic summer at her family's country estate, Deyning Park, where she meets and falls in love with Tom Cuthbert, son of the family's housekeeper.  But then the Great War (World War I) begins, and everything changes.  Clarissa's 3 brothers (Henry, William, and George), Tom and many of their friends all go off to war.  Many don't return or else are so physically or emotionally damaged that life is never the same afterwards.  I really wanted to like this book, and I did like a lot of it.  But it is narrated by Clarissa, and I thought she was such a ninny!  I know that I'm seeing an early 20th century woman through the eyes of the 21st century, but she could be so exasperating at times.  She claimed to have this all-consuming passion for Tom, but when it came right down to it, she let the opinions of others (especially her mother) control her.  I kept thinking of the rather crude expression, "sh*t or get off the pot."  Anyway, I debated how many stars to give this, and finally settled on 3 out of 5.  It is my 7th book for the World War I Reading Challenge.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Urban Sketch 2

Dinner with my mom at her favorite restaurant. She was amazed when I pulled the paints out of my purse! Sketched straight to pen. June Sketchbook Challenge theme of urban sketching.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

The book opens with this paragraph, "They've gone now, and I'm alone at last.  I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won't waste a single moment of it.  I shan't sleep it away.  I won't dream it away either.  I mustn't, because every moment of it will be far too precious."  What follows are Tommo Peaceful's memories of his childhood with his mother, brothers Charlie and Big Joe and friend Molly, and how he became a soldier in World War I at the age of "nearly sixteen."  You know something terrible is going to happen when the night is over, but you don't find out what until near the end of the book.  This is by the same author as War Horse, another World War I young adult book, and it is very well written (you can see my review of War Horse here).  It is my 6th book for the World War I reading challenge, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I read this book for a read-along with War Through the Generations blog, which sponsors the reading challenges I have done for the past 4 years (World War II in 2009, Vietnam in 2010, US Civil War in 2011, and now World War I this year).  I had never read any Hemingway before, so I thought this would be a good chance to read something of his.  It is the semi-autobiographical story of American Lieutenant Fredric Henry, who is serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, and the love affair between Henry and the British nurse Catherine Barkley.  Henry is the narrator of the story, and he is a very stoic character; we really don't learn much about him.  According to the blurb on the back of my copy of the book, "Hemingway wrote in short, declarative sentences and was known for his tough, terse prose."  This made it easy enough to read, but I can't say I enjoyed it much.  I rate it 2 out of 5.  It is my 5th book for the World War I reading challenge.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Journaling reads: "I’ve always loved waterfalls, so I’m glad we went to Yosemite in the spring when we could still see them. Above is Upper Yosemite Falls; upper right is Bridal Veil Falls; lower right is lower Yosemite Falls."

Joe's Journals - The Art & Tales of a Sojourner by Joe Miller

I'm reading A Farewell to Arms for a read along with War Through the Generations blog.  I don't want to get ahead of what we're discussing each week, because it's harder for me to discuss if I've read ahead.  I don't like to read more than one novel at a time, but I want to read something when I'm caught up on A Farewell to Arms.  So at those times, I've been reading Joe's Journals, which is a look into Joe Miller's (of Cheap Joe's Art Stuff) actual journals.  He is a watercolor artist who paints what he sees around him, and I found the book to be delightful.  He has a fun sense of humor and a great philosophy about his art.  On a page where he's sketched some boats, he states:
If you're a lobsterman, you probably cringe at my lobster boats.  If you're a fly fisherman and tie your own flies, you may cringe at my flies.  But all your cringing won't keep me from painting them.  They may not be accurate but they are mine.  My point is, don't let your inability to draw accurately keep you from enjoying art.  I do and so can you.  I love to watch children make art.  They don't worry about anything -- they just attack, and boy are they proud of their results.  We should learn from them.  (page 147)
  I love looking at other artists' journals.  I rate this 5 out of 5.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Urban Sketching 1

The current month's theme of the sketchbook challenge is urban sketching, so I took my sketchbook with me when my husband and I got our haircut. I sketched this while he had his hair cut. Perspective is off, but I sketched straight to pen, so it is what it is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Mile Bench

There were 13 of us who attempted the hike to the top of Black Mesa, a 4.2 mile (one way) distance. Eleven people made it all the way; two of us (my husband and I) stopped at the two mile bench and then turned around after resting (and sketching). Here is a photo of me sketching this scene.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Mesa B & B

We spent two nights here. Black Mesa, in Oklahoma's panhandle, is the highest point in the state at 4,973 feet. It shares borders with Colorado and New Mexico. This was the view from the front porch.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift

This is a travel journal of the artist's honeymoon in France in September of 2005.  It's a delightfully quirky book in which she compares travel and love:  "Anticipation.  In love and travel, getting there is half the fun.  The lustful impatience, the passionate daydreams, the nerve-wracking waiting . . . lovers and travelers are all alike when they find themselves on the brink of a new adventure." page 2. 

The book is filled with her wonderful illustrations of her trip and lots of fun information.  For example:  "The beagle rolling in the grass, celebrating being a lucky dog who lives in Paris, is named Benedict.  'Oh, yes, he is a happy dog,' his owner tells me; "Not very intelligent, but very, very happy.'  Travel Tip:  Ask Parisians about their dogs -- it's the only time they will gladly talk to you."

And in chapter 5, "The Going Gets Tough," she includes a number of "Survival tips for love and travel," including this one on page 113:  "Each morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say:  'You're no bargain either.'" 

I rate this book 5 out of 5.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

National Bison Range

Digital layout of a few of our pictures from our trip last fall. Journaling reads: "One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the National Bison Range on 9/20/11. We got amazingly close to some of the animals shown here. It's very unusual to actually see bucks fighting like this."

Glacier National Park pg 2

Digital layout of a few of our pictures from our trip last fall.

Glacier National Park pg 1

Digital layout of a few of our pictures from our trip last fall. Journaling reads: "We started our first morning in Glacier National Park with sunrise over St. Mary Lake. After breakfast we hiked the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail. We had lunch at The Park Cafe, then we hiked the Hidden Lake Nature Trail as far as The Lookout. After all that hiking, we saw a mountain goat in the parking lot for the Hidden Lake Nature Trail!"

The picture of the mountain goat is on the next page of this layout and can be seen here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - The Day's Harvest

I sketched this for the current month's sketchbook challenge, which has the theme of Fruits & Veggies.

Mimosa Tree

I took a few minutes to sketch our mimosa tree recently while it was still blooming.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

It's 1940 in the small Cape Cod town of Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris James is the postmistress ("Postmaster," Iris corrected her. "There's no such thing as a postmistress. Man or woman. It's postmaster." page 296). The townspeople believe she is watching over them. Frankie Bard is a radio reporter in London, trying to get America to pay attention to the war that is already being fought in Europe. The story moves smoothly between Franklin and Europe and it's about passing along information - how and when and why and whether you can keep someone from being hurt by not passing it on. I really liked this book - it was well written and a very compelling story and I rate it five out of five.

Friday, May 25, 2012


We flew through Los Angeles on our way to Yosemite on May 7th, so I spent some of my layover time sketching. I didn't end up doing much sketching in Yosemite; we were there for a photography workshop so I spent most of my time photographing instead.

Palm Tree

We flew through Los Angeles on our way to Yosemite on May 7th, so I spent some of my layover time sketching. I didn't end up doing much sketching in Yosemite; we were there for a photography workshop so I spent most of my time photographing instead.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Thia was a well written but disturbing story by the author of The Remains of the Day. Kathy lived at Hailsham, a private boarding school in England where the students are sheltered from the outside world. When she is reunited with two of her schoolmates when she is in her early 30's, she begins to remember and relive her years at Hailsham and the dark secret behind the seemingly idyllic life there. I rate it 4 out of 5.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

I had planned on reading this book earlier on my iPad for a read along with Book Club Girl.  I THOUGHT that I had downloaded the book before we left on our trip to Tennessee (it was on sale for $1.99).  But when I tried to read it, I learned that I had only downloaded the preview, not the book.  And of course, by then, the sale on the eBook was over.  So I requested the book through inter-library loan, and just finished it yesterday (and now the read along is over, so I didn't participate after all).  I enjoyed it much more than I expected - I don't usually read mysteries, although I grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries (didn't all girls?).  It's the first in a series, so I may just have to read more.

Bess Crawford is a nurse serving on a hospital ship during WWI.  She gets close to a dying soldier and promises to take a message back to his family:  "Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right."  When she is finally able to deliver the message, they react as if the message has no significance.  Through a series of events, she decides to try to learn what the message means and set it right herself.  This is my fourth book for the World War I Reading Challenge, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

This is the story of an English soldier who returns home with partial amnesia after an injury.  He doesn't remember his wife and believes he is in love with an innkeeper's daughter he hasn't seen in 15 years.  It is a quick read - only 87 pages - and a good story.  It was written in 1918, which may explain why I wasn't too fond of the writing style.  But I still enjoyed it overall and rate it 3 out of 5.  It is my third book for the World War I Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year; the other two books were All Quiet on the Western Front and Warhorse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Open

I used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to sketch from the tv this afternoon. This is supposed to be Brian Williams, NBC News Anchor. It doesn't look very much like him, but at least it looks like a person (and I'm new at this!).

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I really enjoyed this well written book.  It was somewhere between a series of related short stories and a novel.  Each chapter was told from a different point of view, but the same characters kept appearing over and over again.  It went forward and backward in time from one chapter to the next, but I didn't have any trouble keeping track of the action.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Moving Day

My mother decided she wanted to move from her upstairs apartment to a downstairs apartment at the assisted living center where she lives. It was a trying few days, but it helped to write it out and add some watercolor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Pair of Pears

Practicing my pears for Pear-ology, a class from Martha Lever. Learning to glaze.

Monday, April 23, 2012


This would be considered a mixed media piece; I used nail polish on the nails.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mimi's Cafe

We went to Tulsa to see the NatureWorks wildlife art exhibit, where I bought a hand colored etching from Melanie Fain. We ate lunch at Mimi's Cafe before seeing the art exhibit. My friends were quite impressed with my little Altoid tin of watercolors and my waterbrush!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Skipping Class

One week, my watercolor instructor didn't show up for class. The next week, he was there, but he had the flu. I didn't wait around to find out where he'd been the previous week; I went to Panera instead. And then I dropped out of the class.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

I rarely read non-fiction, and after reading this book, I'm reminded why.  It was the April selection for the book club I visit when we visit our friends in Tennessee each year.  While the book was somewhat interesting at times, I didn't really enjoy it.  It was very tedious reading for me; I'm actually surprised I finished it.  I rate it 2 out of 5.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund

This is the third book I've read by Naslund.  The first, Ahab's Wife, was definitely my favorite, but this one was a  close second.  It is set in Birmingham, Alabama, during the early 1960's, the site of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963.  The church was an African-American church, and four young African-American girls were killed in the bombing.  The book follows several fictional characters through this violent time in our history; blacks and whites, men and women, racists and civil rights advocates.  I enjoyed the book and rate it 4 out of 5.

The Keep by Jennifer Egan (Audio Book)

We listened to this audio book on our way home from our visit to our son a couple of weeks ago.  From Amazon:
In Jennifer Egan's deliciously creepy new novel, two cousins reunite twenty years after a childhood prank gone wrong changed their lives and sent them on their separate ways. "Cousin Howie," the formerly uncool, strange, and pasty ("he looked like a guy the sun wouldn't touch") cousin has become a blond, tan, and married millionaire with a generous spirit. He invites his cousin Danny (who as an insecure teenager left him hurt and helpless in a cave for three days) to help him renovate an old castle in Germany. To reveal too much would ruin the story, just know that The Keep is a wonderfully weird read--a touch experimental in terms of narrative, with a hefty dose of gothic tension and mystery--balanced by an intimate and mesmerizing look at how the past haunts us in different ways. --Daphne Durham
I enjoyed the book and rate it 4 out of 5.

B Is For Beer by Tom Robbins (Audio Book)

Our son gave us this audio book for Christmas since he knows we often listen to audio books when we travel.  We visited him recently, so that seemed the perfect time to listen to it.  It was short (just 2 CDs) and very quirky.  It is described as "A Children's Book for Grown-ups" and "A Grown-up Book for Children."  It was read by Laura Silverman and was very enjoyable to listen to.  I rate it 4 out of 5.

Letter Love: Whimsey Grid

I really liked doing this one! Flowers are watercolor; background is pan pastels.

Letter Love - Play

I signed up for another lettering class, and this is one of my first assignments. I think it's going to be fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Flowers

It was a warm (80 degrees) sunny day, and our peach tree has been blooming for several days, so I sat outside and sketched this afternoon. When I came inside to add the title, for some reason I wrote pear tree instead of peach tree, even though I knew it was a peach tree. And there wasn't room to change the R into a CH. LOL!!

I sketched this for March's Sketchbook Challenge theme, Flowers.


I was quite impressed with this built-in sideboard in my son and daughter-in-law's new apartment. I've blurred part of the address for privacy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Read Along with Book Club Girl

I'm joining a read along hosted by Book Club Girl of A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd.  It will qualify for my WWI Reading Challenge, and it's available as an e-book for just $1.99.  So I'll be reading it on my iPad, which I've never done.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


For lesson 1 of Watercolor Pencil Workshop with Dion Dior at Joggles. In Strathmore Visual Journal - Mixed Media.

Fabric Inspiration

For Watercolor Pencil Workshop with Dion Dior at Joggles. In Strathmore Visual Journal - Mixed Media.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Stevens, a very proper English butler, takes a holiday near the end of his career of working at Darlington Hall.  He spends much of his holiday looking back over his years of service, reassuring himself that he served a "great gentleman" with "dignity."  He reminded me of Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey, only even more so.  While I don't remember much about the movie version, I do remember that his part was played by Anthony Hopkins, who was the perfect actor for the part.  Now I want to see the movie again.  I really enjoyed the book and rated it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Close Up

The design on my new t-shirt, which also came with the large round sticker.  Also done for this month's Sketchbook Challenge theme - Close Up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Tool

Trying out my new Sketch and Wash Pencil.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon

This is not one novel, but a short story (Lord John and the Hellfire Club) and two novellas (Lord John and the Succubus and Lord John and the Haunted Soldier).  I really enjoy Diana Gabaldon's writing (the Outlander series) and Lord John Grey is an interesting minor character from that series.  This was an enjoyable read, but not as good as the Outlander series.  I rate it 3 out of 5.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

I really don't know how to review this book.  I never could decide whether I liked it or not; I liked parts and disliked other parts.  So I'll quote the description of the book from Goodreads:
"With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal,and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightening."
I even had trouble deciding on a rating and finally settled on 2 out of 5.

NOLA Collage Pages

Collage Page 1

Everywhere we went in NOLA, we collected business cards, tickets, brochures, and menus. I had intended to include more of them on my sketch pages, but often got so involved in the sketching that I forgot to leave space for them. Then I saw Leslie Fehling's Ireland Sketchbook on her blog, and her collage pages inspired me to do something similar with my ephemera.

Collage Page 2

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Fifteen year old Alfred receives Joey, a beautiful horse, from his father.  Alfred loves Joey and trains him to work on the farm.  When the family runs short of money, Alfred's father sells Joey to the cavalry at the start of World War I.  Alfred is too young to join but promises Joey he'll find him.  Joey experiences many of the horrors of war.  Joey is the narrator of the book, and that works better than I thought it would.  The book is written for children aged 8 and up; I don't often read children's books, but I wanted to read this before seeing the movie.  It was a quick read; I'm a pretty slow reader and even I finished it in 2 days.  I thought it was well written and I rate it 3 out of 5.  It is my second book for the World War I reading challenge.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Doodles

I don't doodle a lot, but the Sketchbook Challenge theme for the month of January is Doodling, so I decided to give it a try. I started with the idea of trying to come up with some free motion quilting designs; the leaves are something I like to quilt in a border. But below the leaves are just some random doodles.

And here is a second page of doodles.