Wednesday, July 24, 2013

IGIATL: Atonement



by Ian McEwan


I wish I would have picked up this book earlier.  I've looked at it many times before but didn't grab it until I saw it in the Staff Picks shelf at my local library.  Even after I grabbed it, I still thought it would be a story I would have to slog through.  I was actually pleasantly surprised and was drawn in immediately.

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house.  Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper's son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony's sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.
By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever.  Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they  had never before dared to approach and will have become  victims of the younger girl's scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime,, the guilt for which will color her entire life.

I wish I could elaborate more on the plot but it would give so much away.  This story spans years from 1935 to 1999.   It begins with the crossroads of lives that happens all on that one summer day.  It then moves to Robbie as a soldier on the retreat to Dunkirk.  The third section of the book shows Briony during her nurse's training in London and the regret she feels over the mistake she made five years earlier.  The final section is set in 1999 and shows Briony about to celebrate her seventy-seventh birthday with family.  

The first part of Atonement is told in alternating narratives from Briony, Cecilia, Robbie, and others.  Normally I'm not a huge fan of this as it makes things hard to follow but in this book, it was nice to see how the characters came to decisions they made.  I was a little disappointed by the ending because I became invested in the characters. 

I highly recommend this book.  It's a great selection for book clubs.  It isn't something that is so exciting that you stay up till four in the morning to see what happens next.  Even if those are the kind of books you like, this one will still hold your interest because the characters get under your skin in a very good way.  I'll leave you now because I want see if this is on Netflix.  Of course, the movie is never as good as the book.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pulaski Polka Days

I had good intentions to get things done this weekend.  In reality, I had a much better time relaxing with my husband.  Saturday was just a nice morning.  We sat outside because it was finally cool.  We grilled hot dogs for lunch and just  lazed about.

That afternoon, we headed out to Pulaski Polka Days.  I know.  It sounds like something only old people would go to.  Even Ken was not too keen on going.  That may have been more because he is dealing with sciatica right now.  He's been in a lot of pain lately.  But polka music is a lot like Mexican music.  It's not the oompah bands like most people think.  It's very lively and fun to dance to.  When I was growing up, all my cousins had polka bands at their weddings.  The dance floor was always full at those weddings. 

Back to what we did.  When we arrived, we walked down the street and looked at what people were selling.  The stuff we could afford, we didn't want or need and the stuff we loved we couldn't afford.  We did find a vendor who was selling handmade wooden toy cars for $1.50 each.  That is an amazing price.  I wish we had little people to buy them for.  We did get grilled corn on the cob and root beer floats.  Delicious!

We headed down to grounds and headed to one of the tents to listen and watch.  It is almost impossible to be unhappy when listening to polka.  I loved watching the dancers the most.  It is amazing how much energy it takes to dance.  If you think you are in shape, dance the polka and find out how wrong you are.  It was wonderful to see all ages out their dancing from little kids and teenagers to little old married couples.  People who you wouldn't think could dance all day were out there doing it.   My favorite was this very elderly couple.  He was so tall and she only came up to a little above his waist.  They were out dancing most of the evening.  So cute!  I wish I had video of the dance floor when it was full but I never think ahead like that.  The video below gives a small idea of what it is like. 

I got a handful of pictures of the full dance floor but they didn't turn out very well.  I'll let you see them anyway.  It gives you an idea of how crowded it was. 

Sadly, I only got to dance twice.  Even dancing slowly is a bit vigorous, so Ken couldn't dance with me.  So when our older son and his friends stopped by us to chat, Ken asked one of our son's friends to take me out on the floor.  He is an excellent dancer and I am not so it was a teaching moment for me.  We basically promenaded around the floor while I learned the basic steps.  I was winded after one dance so I had to take a break.  A few songs later, this man from Minnesota asked me to dance.  I only danced twice all night but still had a great time.  We were ready to head home a little after 10:00 because of my honey's poor back.

We will definitely head back next year.  We'll even dance.  We may even enter the dance contest because with a little practice, we could definitely smoke most of the contestants that were out there this year.  I'm just saying.  Except for one couple, the others were lumbering drunks. 

If you have anything like that near you, you should definitely check it out.  For now, I'll just leave you with a little video of one of my favorite songs to sing along to.

Friday, July 19, 2013

We're Having A Heatwave, A Tropical Heatwave

I wanted to put up a post today on the desk I bought at a rummage sale for two dollars.  I haven't even gotten to it at all this week.  It's been too dang hot.  There is no way in Hades I will be outside sanding when the temps are hitting the low nineties.  I live in Wisconsin because we are only supposed to get a week of super hot weather a couple days out of the year.  I've been kicking back, laying on the bed with a fan blowing on me (that's right, no AC), and watching Netflix for the last three days.

I picked up a piano off the street over the weekend and I have the feeling this is going to be a HHHUUUGGgggggeee  project.  My husband is not happy since I pushed it home while he was at work.    It needs to be refinished.   And tuned.  And it also needs two new caster wheels that cost twenty dollars a piece.  You know what they say.  There's no such thing as a free piano.

I'm working on finishing Atonement by Ian McEwan. I can't wait to finish it.  Not what I expected at all.  I also have a few books on hold at the library that are waiting for me right now.  I have no idea why the books all come at once.  And usually when I have five others that I just checked out a few days earlier.    I believe it is an evil plot to make sure I can't finish my books.

Since I'm kind of on the subjects of libraries, you should check out this website

Have a great weekend everyone.  It's going to cool off here so I'm sure I will.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Got It At The Library: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at The Bottom Of The Pie 
by Alan Bradley

I chose this book because of the cover.  It looked like an older book from the sixties.  It was in a Staff Picks section in my local library and I usually trust their picks.  Although someone did put Twilight in there.  I suspect it was the new girl.  She'll learn.  I hope.

I was not dissappointed one bit by this book.  The book is set in 1950 and centers around eleven year old Flavia de Luce.  She lives in a big old English manor with her father and two sisters.  After overhearing an argument in the study late at night between her father and a stranger, in the moring she discovers a man in the garden who dies shortly after breathing out his final word.  

Flavia sets out to find out if this was the same man in the study.  She finds herself digging deeper into royal theft, the stamp collecting world and a death at her father's school.  She uses her intense interest in chemistry, especially poisons, to finally solve this mystery that happened at her doorstep.  Oh, and she mixes poison ivy in her sister's lipstick.  

I loved this book.  It was refreshing to have a young heroine who doesn't care about boys and is smart and into science.  It's a fun read and there are enough twists to keep it interesting.   The ending was not a disappointment.  It wasn't obvious and it didn't fizzle out as some mysteries are wont to do.  Flavia is a believable character and I loved that she was just a bit sinister herself.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a fast, challenging read.  I had to pick up the dictionary a few times and the story is not dumbed down.  I would say it's best for anyone over the age of ten, especially if you have a geeky teenage daughter.  

It is another great beach read but I personally think it's best for those nights when a summer thunderstorm pops up.  Go to the library and check it out.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Blog Title Warned You There Would Be Cats

I have cats.  I love my cats.  Sometimes their behavior completely baffles me. 

I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Master Bedroom Redo: Carpet and Chevron

I have always wanted my bedroom to be an oasis.  Someplace to get away from everything.  I also wanted it to look pretty.  I am soooo not good at making things pretty.  Thank goodness Google and Pinterest exist.

Last fall, our older son moved in with his mother.  We (of course, meaning I) decided to take over his bedroom as our own.  He had no motivation to pack up his stuff because he has another complete bedroom at his mother's house.  After three days of long, back-breaking work, I got everything cleaned and packed up.  I ripped the carpet out.  The nasty, NASTY pink carpet that had been in there since the dawn of time. My son was in charge of cleaning his own room so he didn't... at all.  I didn't care because I didn't have to look at it or live in it.  This lack of cleaning left the carpet in a state.

First, there was a huge black spot under his bed.  I thought it was a stain.  It wasn't.  When I ran a vacuum over it, the "stain" started to disappear.   Our cat frequently slept under his bed.  It was a big gigantic spot consisting entirely of cat hair.  Ew!  Secondly, the carpet was full of sand and dirt and who knows what else, even after a couple of runs with the vacuum.  I gave up on it.  When I started to pull the carpet up, the pad underneath was completely disintegrating.  When I finally had it rolled up and carried out to the driveway, there was a thick coating of carpet pad dust heading down the stairs and out the door.  A little bit of sweeping, vacuuming and mopping took care of that.  I pulled out a few nails and caprt tacks and we now have a hardwood floor that is all set for refinishing someday.

The walls, however, could not wait.  They were also pink.  A baby pink that the starter wife had picked out 18 years earlier to match that terrible, awful carpet.  One of the reasons my husband was hesitant about moving into this room was because it was the master bedroom during his first marriage.  I convinced him that it wouldn't look anything like it did before.  For one thing, we don't own a waterbed.  I told him a coat of paint and different bedding would make a huge difference.
I have liked the look of chevron stripes for quite a while.  I found this pin and used its web link and another site that I don't have for a link as a guide.  It took ages to do.  I hated the prep work.  I painted the cream color first.  Then I marked the lines and taped them off.  This took me half a day and I wanted to scream because I was getting frustrated.   I then painted along the edge of the tape with the cream color so that would be the paint that seeped under the edge.  Let it dry.  Then I painted the grey stripes.  It felt like it took forever.  In actuality, it only took me about two and a half days to finish painting the entire room.  It would have taken less time if I wouldn't have gone to a baseball game that weekend.  Also, having a level, preferably a laser level, would have helped a lot.  I measured with a ruler and marked all my little points that way.

Here is the finished wall.
You can see the color of the walls before.  Not exactly a color that I wanted to associate with my marital boudoir.  I don't have any before pictures of the room with the carpet or mess.  This was done about nine months before I started this little old blog.  I also suck at taking pictures.  Seriously.  I never have a camera in hand and we don't have cell phones to take pictures.  Here's the other picture that I have of the wall, except with furniture in front of it.
You can't tell from this photo but the door is just propped up in the frame.  I had not hung it yet.  There is also a fat cat named Buttons trying to sneak out before I could use her as a photo prop.

We (again, I) plan to do this room in purple, grey, and yellow.  Since I've painted the room, nothing else has been done.  That's one of the joys of having no extra money.  I would like to paint the headboard but my husband comes from a woodworking family and painting wood is a cardinal sin.  I'll prevail in the end.  I always do.

If you want to see some of the ideas I have for finishing up this room, check out my bedroom board on Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Got It At The Library: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

I Got It At The Library: A Book Review


Let's Pretend This Never Happened

by Jenny Lawson


I should just be honest right now.  I read this about a month ago so I may have forgotten a lot.  I suck like that.  I'll just have to go based off what I can remember.

I love Jenny Lawson.  I have been reading her blog, aptly titled The Bloggess, for a few years now.  It really is a look into a crazy (but in a fun-I-want-to-go-to-dinner-with-her sort of way), strange mind.  This woman bought a giant metal chicken because her husband didn't want her to buy towels.  She and a boar head named James Garfield orchestrated a Christmas miracle with the help of her many devoted readers.  She also paints a pretty honest portrait of what it's like to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Of course, when I heard she was writing a book, I was excited.  Yet it still took me a year to check Let's Pretend This Never Happened out from the library.  It came the morning we were about to leave on a fishing trip and I read it before the weekend was over.

I honestly could not stop chuckling.  I want to say I laughed but my father-in-law was around and I don't want him to think I was crazy.  If you don't like her writing style on her blog, you probably won't like this book.  If you are already a fan, you will definitely enjoy this.

There are a few stories that she has shared on the blog with some added details.  The book includes the infamous tale of Beyonce the chicken.  There are also some gems from her childhood.  Believe me, her childhood was not that of a typical child.  I loved the story of the turkeys.  

I wish I could tell you more but I have read about four books since then and I can't remember offhand everything in this book.  I loved it.  I am trying to convince my darling husband (who doesn't like to read) to pick this up.  I have yet to convince him.  

I know summer is half over but this makes a great vacation read.

Get this book from your local library.  Or, if you're feeling generous, purchase it to add to your home library.  I kind of, sort of promise it will make you laugh.

Monday, July 8, 2013


So this is one of my many attempts at writing a blog.  I've only ever regularly posted on one of them but no longer add content.  It was for a stage of my life that has been put behind me.  You are supposed to write what you know.  Write what you are passionate about.  Well, there aren't really many things that get me all in a twist.

What am I passionate about?  I have a house that we have very little money to fix up.  I'm no good at DIY but I try.  I have had some success and some failures.  I also have three cats (only one is mine) that get spoiled.  My husband doesn't encourage this but he is an enabler.  As you may have inferred, I'm married.  We walked down the aisle four years ago and still feel like newlyweds.  I'll try not to gush too much about how great he is. We also have two teenage boys (from his first marriage) that you will see very little of here.  This blog is my thing and they deserve their privacy.

The thing that I'm most passionate about is books.  I love to read.  I read so much that my husband forbids me from purchasing books unless I'm absolutely in love with them.  Seriously, we have a tiny house and it can only hold so many books before it becomes a fire hazard.  I'm lucky to have a great public library in my town.  It feeds my addiction.

I'm sure you guessed from the title that this will be about my house, cats, and books.  My content will cover whatever I feel like writing our home improvements, the odd story about our family, and book reviews.  I may even finally try out my Pinterest projects that are virtually piling up and show you what a mess I made of them.

Anyways, welcome.  Sit a spell.  And welcome to my little corner of the world.