Monday, December 31, 2007

75 books

This picture shows 44 of the books that I read this year.

Here is how I would classify some of the books of 2007. I haven't included all of them, but you can also see that some of the books made more than one list.

Books Good for Anyone
  • The End of the Spear by Steve Saint
  • Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • Bible
  • It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh
  • Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper
Best Nonfiction
  • The End of the Spear by Steve Saint
  • Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
  • Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam
  • It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh
Good Books for a Book Club
  • A Song I Knew By Heart by Bret Lott
  • The Last Juror by John Grisham
  • All in One Place by Carolyne Aarsen
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin
  • The Will of Wisteria by Denise Hildreth
Books that I would read again
  • Ghost Writer by Rene Gutteridge
  • Ever After by Karen Kingsbury
  • A Mile After Sunday by Jo Kadlecek
  • It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh
  • All in One Place by Carolyne Aarsen
  • Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin
  • Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
  • Snitch by Rene Gutteridge
  • Bible
  • Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper
  • The Will of Wisteria by Denise Hildreth
  • Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam
Books that I would not recommend
  • Saving Alice by David Lewis
  • Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
  • Cassidy by Lori Wick
  • Adelaide Piper by Beth Webb Hart
  • One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Robinson Crusoe

I finally finished reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. It took me about a is not short (over 400 solid pages) and it was the unabridged version. I decided to read the book because my dad was talking about it. He read an abridged version of it and thought it was a good story. As I read it I did figure out why he liked it. Anyway, about halfway through I almost gave up and seriously considered giving up reading because it felt a lot like a homework assignment. I am glad that I read the book, though if you aren't an avid reader, I would not recommend it. Now I am going to find something easier to read that doesn't feel like work.
I am surprised at how much more there was to the story than Robinson being on the island. He had more adventures in the Africa, South America and Asia.
Has anyone else read the book?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

handmade gifts

Some years for Christmas (and other occasions) I have made handmade gifts for people instead of buying them. While I couldn't sleep last night, I wrote down all the handmade things that I could think of that I have either given or gotten as a gift. They include...
  • address labels
  • apron
  • baby blanket
  • bath mat
  • bath salts
  • bed skirt
  • canned salsa
  • cards
  • Christmas cookies
  • cinnamon rolls
  • cookie mix
  • dill pickles
  • dress for a little girl
  • fleece hats
  • hot cocoa mix
  • ornaments
  • pen/pencil holder
  • pillowcases
  • pot holders
  • purse
  • quilt
  • rag rug
  • tote bag
  • t-shirt decorated with pictures
I love getting handmade things. A few of the best ones have come from my sisters. One year Amanda made me over 100 handmade cards, and Kevin made address labels on the computer to go with them. Anita has made me a rag rug (one of the first ones she ever made) and a crocheted bath mat that matches my shower curtain.
Gifts that I have liked giving (though not always making) are pillowcases, little dresses, quilts, and cards.
What are some neat handmade gifts that you have gotten from others or that you have made to give away?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Christmas Bus

The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson is the latest book that I read. It takes place in a small town where Edith and her husband live. One year her children decide that they cannot come home for Christmas, and the story tells how she and her husband make the best of that situation and reach out to others at the same time. It is a quick read (less than 200 pages) which is probably why the characters didn't seem well developed. If you looking for a story about Christmas, you might like this book. It was not the best book by Carlson that I have read, but I did finish it because I was interested in what happened at the end.

Giveaway winners are Robin and Andrea. Each will get 4 handmade cards in the mail. Thanks to all who entered.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I finished reading Maggie by Charles Martin this past week. It is the sequel to The Dead Don't Dance. It was another good book but I did not enjoy it as much as the other two that I have read by this same author. Maybe it is because I stumbled across a review by someone on the web and they gave out too much information about the story. Knowing too much ahead of time spoils the book for me. Of the three books by Martin that I have read, I would recommend Chasing Fireflies.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Dead Don't Dance

The Dead Don't Dance is the second book by Charles Martin I have read. It is another novel by Martin where he does a good job of developing the characters. Dylan Styles is real and likable. When things started going wrong in his life, I wondered where it would take him. It was not a funny book by any means, but it does take a look at one way people can choose to deal with the heartaches they encounter in this messed up world. In some ways it is a love story, but it is much more than that. When I was looking for another book by Martin to read I discovered that he has a sequel to this book called Maggie. That is now on my list of books to get from the library.

I am enjoying the books by Charles Martin. He may soon be added to my list of favorite authors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boo Humbug

Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge is the latest book in the Boo series. It is shorter than the first three-Boo, Boo Hoo, and Boo Hiss. This book takes place at Christmastime and Lois is inspired to have a big Christmas theater production. I think that I liked the first three books a lot better overall. Boo Humbug is not as funny...and it doesn't seem to develop the characters anymore. If you want to read this book, I suggest you read the others first.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

two quilts

I am not a crazy quilter like my sister, but I did finish two quilts in the last month or so. It is amazing how much I get done when I have a deadline.

The first one is for my newest nephew Adam. He was born last Wednesday. I did not know if the baby was going to be a girl or a boy, so I chose something that would work for either. I like the bright colors of the quilt.

This quilt is for my friends Emili and Nathan. They are getting married on Saturday, and I finished this quilt last Saturday. It is a twin size quilt that they can use as a throw.
One of my favorite parts of quilting is when I have a finished project to give as a gift. No one has ever complained about such a handmade gift.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Off the Record

Off the Record by Elizabeth White is about Judge Laurel Kincaid. She is running for a judge position in Alabama. She is young and hopes to be able to be able to make a difference in the court system. Things get complicated when Cole comes to cover the story for a New York newspaper. They knew each other in college but have not seen each other for eight years. This is an interesting love story that makes you want to keep reading, even though parts of it are farfetched and unbelievable. The plot did include some unexpected twists and turns. This book by White did not have the humor that I found in her other books Fireworks and Fair Game.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chasing Fireflies

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin is about journalist Chase Walker and Uncle Willee. Chase lives in Georgia and was raised by Uncle Willee and his wife. The story is actually two-one of a foster child that was left after an accident, another of Chase and his growing up. Chase is assigned to do a newspaper story about a mute boy who has no identity. While the story of the boy is not the same as Chase's own life, there are parallels and as Chase is working on the story, the book also explains his earlier life, as well as that of Uncle Willee.
Uncle Willee is a man of character that is willing to love even when it hurts and stick up for those that are in his care.
This book gives you plenty to think on and it would be a good choice for a book club to read and discuss. Some topics that it covers are justice, truth, and doing what is right.
It is a book I may read again sometime, though for now I am going to read more of Martin's other novels.

FYI-My sister is giving away a handmade purse and a quilt on her blog. Her blog is at

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

10 things I like

About two months ago I got a letter from my aunt and she asked me what I liked. I thought about it a long long that she ended up sending me a birthday present before I answered. But here is a long thought out answer. IF you know me, at least some of these things should not be a surprise.
  1. books
  2. paper
  3. snail mail
  4. postage stamps
  5. decorative boxes
  6. music
  7. lists
  8. bath and body stuff
  9. food
  10. names

What things do you like?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Millie Waits for the Mail

Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier is one of my new favorite children's books. It is about Millie the cow and her favorite pastime...scaring the mail carrier. The mail carrier and Millie's owner are not happy about this and decide it is time to intervene. The end result is a surprise to Millie, the mail carrier, and her owner. It is a fun story that I enjoyed because of the story, the subject, and the well done illustrations. My nephew and niece enjoyed the story and I plan to read it to my students soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes by Brian P. Cleary was a fun book that I came across this month at the library. It is a new book to add to alphabet books to use each September with my studetns. The colorful and bright illustrations are great and it would be a fun book to read to any child. My students liked finding the things on each page that begin with the different letters.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Old Testament

I finished reading the Old Testament this week. Don't think I have read it straight though for a long time. Anyway it does give you a different perspective than just reading bits and pieces. I noticed several things...
  • Zechariah is longer than Daniel but I rarely hear sermons or mention of it.
  • There is a lot of geneology and some is repeated. It must be important but sometimes it seems lengthy.
  • The people were slow learners. So am I.
  • Lots of worship songs are taken from scripture. Probably more than I realize.
Anyway, now I am on to the New Testament. I think that my goal of reading through the Bible this year will happen.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saint Ben

I haven't read any books for awhile but I thought I could write about one of my favorite books. Saint Ben by John Fischer is one of my favorite novels. I have read it several times, own a copy of it, and would recommend it to anyone. The story takes place in 1958 in Pasadena and is the story of two boys, Ben and Jonathan. Jonathan and Ben become friends when Ben's father becomes the pastor of the church that Jonathan and his family attends. This story about friendship, faith and growing up. John Fischer does a great job telling the story. If you want to know more about the story you could look on John Fischer's website.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

abc books

Now that school is in session, I am on a little different mindset as far as books are concerned. For the past couple of years I have gotten a bunch of alphabet books and done a variety of things with them for my students. One I really like is So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton. Does anyone else have some favorite alphabet books that I can look for? It is always fun to have a few new ones since I have been doing the project for a couple of years.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

six and a half years later

I finished my quilt. I started it in February 2001 at a Strawberry Patches when I lived in Bakersfield. I got one block done a month, finishing the blocks a year later. Then I kept the blocks and collected fabric to finish it. It was part of my summer goal to get this done. I like it and will use it on my bed. I love blue and yellow.

I like the back a lot. And it is probably the best I have ever done on quilting. Amanda and I taped the back to the floor and then we layered it and used bent safety pins to baste it. What fun to be all done.

Monday, August 27, 2007

summer is over

Summer is over for me. Not weather wise, but I went back to work today. Not a bad day-it was a lot of sitting, but it was also good to see some of my coworkers.
So I had 10 goals for this summer...I accomplished 6 of them.
The ones that I met are...
  • Make 2 or more sets of cards for the card exchange I am part of-I got three sets done.
  • Finish the blue and yellow quilt. I have been working on it for a long time.
  • Go somewhere new. I have been lots of places I have not been, including Jamaica, and a bunch of towns in northern Minnesota.
  • Memorize a chapter from the Bible. I memorized Psalm 121. If you see me in the near future, ask me to say it for will help me keep it in my head.
  • Clean out all 7 of my closets. I still have to find my other pair of scissors and my handheld solitaire game.
  • Read less than 20 books. Here is a list of the 17 books that I did read.
    1. Tristan's Gap by Nancy Rue
    2. The Recital by Robert Elmer
    3. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
    4. The Sound of My Voice by Jo Kadlecek
    5. Tisha by Robert Specht
    6. Feeling for Bones by Bethany Pierce
    7. Adelaide Piper by Beth Webb Hart
    8. These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson
    9. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    10. tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
    11. The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis
    12. The Englisher by Beverly Lewis
    13. The Brethren by Beverly Lewis
    14. The Penny by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford
    15. fair game by Elizabeth White
    16. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
    17. The Last Juror by John Grisham
All the books were good-some were sad-Tristan's Gap, Adelaide Piper, Feeling for Bones, tuesdays with Morrie, The Poisonwood Bible, and The Recital. The funniest one was fair game. And the most suspenseful was The Last Juror.
Has anyone read/liked any of the above books?

The goals I didn't make were three craft related projects and learning more Spanish.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fair Game

Fair Game by Elizabeth White is a book about hunters and animal rights people. Jana moves back to where she grew up to be closer to her grandpa. She is a veterinarian that hopes to do some research on wild animals. Life gets complicated because she runs into someone from her growing up years that is also an avid hunter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The OK Book

The OK book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is one of the books that I got at the library last week with my nephews and niece. I like it because the pictures are clever-OK is the character on each page doing a different activity. The sentences are simple, so it would be fun for a beginning reader. Having read another Rosenthal book, Little Pea, I am curious to see what her other children's books are like. I think that even older kids would enjoy the book despite it's simplicity.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tuesdays with Morrie

tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is what my book club is reading for August. It is a quick read and it should give our group plenty to talk about. The topics covered include loving, living, and dying.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Poisonwood Bible

Today I finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It is the first Kingsolver book I read and I was intrigued by it. It would be a good book for a book club because there would be plenty to discuss regarding Christianity, missionaries, and US involvement in foriegn countries. The book is not a short one, though, with over 500 pages, so it would take some time to read. It took a bit to get into the book, partly because each chapter is from a different person's point of view, but it does flow fairly well despite that. The family (parents and four daughters) move from Georgia to the Congo in Africa in the 1950's and have some serious cultural adjustments to say the least.

Friday, July 6, 2007


My summer has been busy...I have only read 5 books since school got out, and I don't know when I will get a chance to finish another. This summer so far I have...
  1. gone camping with my brother
  2. had my niece and nephew (Mariah and Mark) overnight
  3. attended two grad parties (for my cousins Greg and Christy)
  4. gone to Michigan and drove back to Wisconsin with my sister, Zach, Parker, and Abby
  5. made a lap size quilt for my friend in CA that got married
  6. celebrated my birthday with the Jamaica group, my family at the farm, and then at the Mexican Village in St. Cloud, and lunch on Friday with Emili at Griff's
  7. went to Patrick and Tricia's wedding reception
  8. went to 11 Jamaica meetings (I think)
  9. made chalk drawings on the Nybergs' cement in Michigan
  10. packed a van very full of my sister's (and her family's) stuff

This is not in order, but this gives you an idea of what I have been doing. I am leaving for Jamaica on July 7 and will be back on July 18 if all goes well.

If you look at my sister's blog, you can see the quilt I made her two years ago when she turned 30. Her blog is at

Monday, June 11, 2007

book ideas

Does anybody have any suggestions for books that I should read this summer? My goal is to read 20 books or less this summer so I get other things done as well.

Monday, June 4, 2007

It's All Too Much

It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh gives a person that wants to organize his or her home some great ideas. It starts out with some general tips on getting rid of surface clutter. Before Walsh has you go through each room, he advises you really think about what you want your home to be, as well as what function you want each room to serve. Walsh thinks that this is best done as a family, not just one person. He then goes through each room or area in a house and gives specific ideas for room. The end of the book talks about maintaining the changes that you have made. Below are some tips I really liked.
1. Keep flat surfaces clean (counter, table, desk, etc.)
2. Buy one color of wrapping paper and a few colors of ribbon for gift wrapping. (My sister has done something like this and I got a bunch of the gift wrap she was getting rid of.)
3. Don't have a junk drawer.
4. In the kitchen, get rid of cookbooks you absolutely do not use.
5. Spend 5 minutes a day in maintenence.
6. The in/out rule for clothes, toys and books. Every time you get a new item of clothing or a new book or toy you find something to get rid of that you do not use anymore or cannot be fixed.

Warning: This book may take some of the fun out of your shopping.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Snitch is another book by Rene Gutteridge. She is one of my favorite authors. This is the second book in the Occupational Hazards series by Gutteridge(Scoop is the first). The story is about Mack Hazard, a twenty something woman, that works in law enforcement in Las Vegas. She gets a chance to be part of an undercover operation with an unlikely group of people. The storyline has enough twists and turns that I didn't know what would happen next. Her books are often funny, but this one didn't really make me laugh.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Mile from Sunday

This is the latest book I have read. Jonna is the religion reporter for the Denver Dispatch. She runs across some strange things in her job that makes it rather interesting and unpredictable. This was a quick read and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. A Mile from Sunday would make a good book for a book club to read and discuss together because of the topics brought up in it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

things to be happy about

  • 9 days of school left
  • My sister is moving to Hudson, Wisconsin (from Michigan) this summer. This is SO MUCH CLOSER.
  • shorts from last summer that fit great
  • spring flowers
  • ice cream
  • cute children's books- I read a couple by Mo Willems that made me smile. They are My Friend is Sad and Today I Will Fly!
  • an inexpensive commute to work. I walk, and with gas prices at $3.29 a gallon, I am thankful I don't have to fill my tank often.

Friday, April 13, 2007

National Library Week

April 15-21 is National Library Week. Visit your public library.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Revelations of a Single Woman

Revelations of a Single Woman by Connally Gilliam is a book I would recommend to any single woman I know. Gilliam discusses some of the things that she has encountered in life as a single Christian woman in this crazy world. It is an easy book to read and covers the topics of family, friends, work, and faith. Anyone who is single and sometimes or often wishes that she was married would identify with at least some of the stories in the book. This would be a great book to read and discuss with a friend or group of friends.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Did you know that you can have 250 items checked out from the Great River Regional Library system? That is a big fine if you end up with overdue fines. Imagine a picture of me carrying all those books home (for those of you who don't know, I walk to the library since I only live a block away).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ghost Writer

Ghost Writer by Rene Gutteridge is another book that I finished this week. I actually read it all in one day...this is possible when I don't have AWANA on Wednesday night and I am on a bus for a field trip with students. Maybe I like mysteries more than I realized, because this is a mystery, like the book I posted about yesterday. The story has a little bit of an eerie feeling at first because Jonathan Harper is getting an anonymous manuscript bit by bit that tells a lot about his own life. He really has no idea who is sending it to him and it makes him quite paranoid as the time goes on and on. Besides the mystery that, Harper is also dealing with family issues that he is unsure how to deal with. This does not have as many humorous moments in it like other books by Gutteridge, but she does make the story interesting and at times unpredictable.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones is Susan Meissner's newest book. It is a mystery and Rachael Flynn is the main character. Rachael wants to help whoever is writing her notes about a very old crime, but she really has very little to go on. Mysteries are not my favorite genre, but I liked this book really well. This is the second book by Meissner in this series. She also has another book coming out about Rachael. The books all take place in Minnesota, so it is fun to read about places that are familiar and even places that I have been to, like Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Horse Dreams Series

I read these three books by Stephen Bly and really enjoyed them. Memories of a dirt road town is the first, followed by the Mustang Breaker and Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago. The story takes place primarily in Wyoming. A forty-something schoolteacher from Indiana, Develyn Worrell, decides to spend her summer in Wyoming to get a different perspective on life and relax. She had gone there as a child with her family and had great memories of the trip. So she drives halfway across the country looking for the small town that she had spent time in without even knowing what it is called or exactly how to get there. While in Wyoming, Develyn has quite a few adventures that surprise her and make her summer vacation rather interesting. She makes lots of friends and acquires a horse AND a donkey. The stories are a mix between adventure and romance and make living in a small town seem like a great place. All three books made me laugh. They also made me wish that my life was filled with a little more adventure.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The reason I picked up this book is because the public library is having a winter adult reading program and you are supposed to read 5 books that have been made into movies. So this is the second time that I have read this book, though the first time might have been ten years ago. A good book that is definitely worth reading once or twice or even more than that. It of course makes me wonder how people could treat people of another race so poorly, but I still see a lot of that. Maybe racism has not changed much in America, even though people would likely say it isn't as bad as it was. Here where I live people still are wary of people that are not Anglos. And often that includes me, despite my education and experiences with people that are not the same as me. Has our culture not allowed us to really change? Or is human nature that way?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Glass Castle

I never heard of the book The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls until my sister mentioned that her book club had read it. It is Jeannette's own story of growing up with parents that are definitely not average. Her parents loved her, that you could tell, but they had unique views of getting along in our society. The story was a bit graphic at times, and the ending was not tragic but still sad. It made me wonder how many more unusual families there are in the world where children are treated so poorly that they cannot adjust to a "normal" life in our country. Her story did make me more thankful for growing up in a fairly normal family. This isn't a book for everyone, but it did make me think.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

End of the Spear

This is the latest book I read. It is the first book that some friends and coworkers are reading for the book club that I am starting. Last February I saw the movie. The book has a different feel than the movie. It starts out in the 1990's and goes back and forth from about ten years ago to the time when Saint was a boy. The book focuses a lot more on the more recent past than the movie ever did, and I would say the book and the movie are not extremely similar. If you have already watched the movie, I think that you might still enjoy the book. If you read the book first, you will understand the movie much better.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Song I Knew by Heart

I had not heard of Bret Lott until I saw this book mentioned at the end of another novel I read. The book has characters named Naomi and Ruth (with husbands Eli and Mahlon) to remind us of the story from the book of Ruth in the Bible. It had a slow beginning...I was on page 50 or so and decided that I would read to page 100 before choosing whether I would finish it. I don't know if I would recommend this book to others, as it had a lot of description and a lot of introspection by the main character. The main character, Naomi, is struggling with forgiveness...not having to forgive another person as much as having to forgive herself. She also cannot fathom the forgiveness given to her by another person. The end of the book (the last 50 pages of 300) were the best. One of my favorite lines in the book was "To live was to receive love, and to give it away."
Another focus of the book was the importance of extended family. Sometimes family can really fill a need that you have to belong somewhere, and family can come through, though imperfectly, in difficult times.
I don't know if I will read other books by Bret Lott, but this could be a good book for a book discussion group if they wanted to talk about things like family, grief, and forgiveness.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

a resolution

well, I am not always good at sticking with something, but I figured that a resolution is better than not trying. Last year I read 68 books. So this year, in addition to reading library books, I am trying to read through the Bible. If I can find time to read that many books, I can hopefully read through the Bible. I started thinking about it because the leadership at my church decided to purchase a bunch of one year Bibles and encourage the congregation to get one and read through the Bible. I didn't get a one year Bible cause I figure I don't need another one...I have a I just started in Genesis and am reading some each day. And the things that they did back then are not much different than today. Abraham tried to create a family by sleeping with his wife's servant. Jacob tricked his father to get a blessing (with the help of his mother). Jacob was then tricked by Laban because Laban wanted Leah to be married because she was the older daughter. Then all the trouble with Jacob's children is almost too much to figure out. Doesn't sound much diffferent than all the stuff that happens today. Yet God chose to use these people to be remembered in His Word. I guess I can hope that somehow reading it is going to help me it understand God better.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Ever After

I just finished reading Ever After by Karen Kingsbury. It makes you think a lot about why we have troops in Iraq and other countries. It also made me realize how much having troops in Iraq affects so many lives. I stayed up late to finish this book that made me cry. So if you don't have anything else to do and want to read something that makes you cry, go pick up a copy of Ever After and start reading.