Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My One Word

I heard about this a couple of years ago - the one word challenge. Rather than making a million resolutions that you won't remember a week later, you choose one word and that is your focus throughout the year. This year there is a book and a website to help guide you on your one word challenge.

I've debated several words and now I finally have it. And it is a tough one - diligence. I am great at starting projects, but not so wonderful at finishing them. The other day as I was cleaning out my closet I found a cross-stitch sampler I started when my son and daughter-in-law were engaged. It was supposed to be for their wedding. They got married in 2009. Can you see how far behind I am ya'll? Maybe they will get in on their 25th wedding anniversary.

My dictionary defines diligent as constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything.

Accomplish something - finish something. I have several goals for this year and diligence will help me attain them. I have a great start, but this is often where I lose my enthusiasm. Through diligent efforts I plan to persevere and finish what I've started.

If you decide to take the one word challenge, I would love to hear what your one word is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Land More Kind Than Home is out in paperback today

Wiley Cash's debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home comes out in paperbook today.

The novel is told through the point of view of Adelaide Lyle, the town's midwife; Clem Barefield, the sheriff; and nine-year-old Jess Hall.

Jess Hall is the younger brother, but he is often responsible for his older autistic brother, known as Stump. Stump does not speak. Jess' mother has found religion. The snake handling preacher, Carson Chambliss claims he can help.

Stump dies in the church and when the sheriff arrives - neither the preacher, the mother, or the congregation is willing to divulge what has happened, but Jess knows - he saw it all - through the crack in the window left by a dilapidated air conditioner.

Evil can be found in the most unusual places. Preachers are supposed to be good. Mothers are supposed to love and protect their children. But in life, people do not always do what they are supposed to do and even those who try - have their own regrets and failures that haunt them.

If you are looking for a good book to read, then this is the one you should choose. It will surely spark hours of discussion if A Land More Kind Than Home is your book club's selection.

And if you have one nearby, be sure to support your local Indie bookstore.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Dinner: The Art of Baking a Cake

This weekend my brother's family is brining dessert. My sister-in-law sent me a picture of her son, Ethan helping make the cake last night. That grin on his face reminded me of my own first cake baking experience.

On Christmas morning I rushed down the steps, pushing my smaller siblings out of the way. Mama was always saying one day they would be bigger than me, but on that day they weren't. Santa thought it funny to put my presents at the back of the tree so as I plowed through baby dolls, trucks, cars, and balls - there is was - just what I asked for - my very own Easy Bake Oven.

I had to wait until the next day to finally use it. Going to Grandmother's and then Grandma's took most of the day and when we finally got home that night, Mama said it was too late.

The next morning I read all the directions - it is just something I do and did even back then. It seemed simple and it wasn't long until I was mixing and placing my first little cake through the oven door to be baked by a light bulb. It only came with a few cake mixes so it didn't take long to go through them.

Instead of spending money buying more little packages, Mama taught me to bake a real cake. We read the directions. We preheated the oven. Greased and floured the pans. Added eggs, water, and cooking oil to the mix and then I got to use the electric mixer. All of the ingredients whirled together until the contents were smooth. Mama guided me through each step letting me do everything. Once the cake cooled, she showed me how to frost it making delightful little swirls with the knife.

Years later when I had grown up and had my own family, Mama also taught my daughter how to make a cake. Amanda spent quite a bit of time with Mama and me. By the time she was ten, she could cook just about anything. During the summer when my kids were home while I worked, Amanda would make fried chicken and mashed potatoes - for one - she didn't make enough to share with her brother. I can only imagine what went on while I was at work. Of course when I was a kid, there were four of us. It was best Mama never found out what happened while she was at work.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Daniel's First Birthday

All boy - balls, trucks, and super heroes
This Sunday we celebrate my grandson, Daniel's first birthday. Being a grandmother is amazing in a way I never understood before. Grandchildren are wonderful - you have all the fun, but you don't have the day to day responsibility. With my children, I was always so worried about making mistakes. Was I doing everything right? No parent does everything right, but new parents are obsessed with perfection.


Not liking the party hat
Grandparents know to do the best you can and enjoy. And Daniel is definitely a source of joy in my life. I love how he smiles wrinkling up his little nose and showing his four teeth when he sees me. He likes to play. His favorite game with me is to run as fast as he can when I say I'm going to get you. He giggles so hard sometimes he loses his balance.

I had taken a break from Sunday dinner for a couple of years after my Grandmother died, but when I learned of Daniel's impending arrival, I knew I had to bring Sunday dinner back. Going to my own Grandmother's for dinner are some of my fondest childhood memories. And now that I've experienced what it is like to be a grandmother, I have a new appreciation for my own.

Today before the birthday party, we'll have meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn, and brown and serve rolls. All just like my Mom and Grandmother used to make. Sunday dinner was a tradition that my Grandmother began, but it was also important to my Mom. During Grandmother's later years, Mom did most of the cooking.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Painting and Writing

Sandy's desktop calendar for 2013
I have a dear sweet friend, Sandy, who paints beautiful pictures. We first met at a women's conference where she was selling cards, prints, and original paintings. I was drawn to her work and I kept coming back to her booth. I was disappointed because I had intentionally not brought any money with me and I really wanted to buy some of her cards. She gave me her business card and we met later that week. She has been such a blessing and a God answered prayer.

Sandy also does artwork for a local company that manufactures candles, sachet packs, and all kinds of wonderful sweet-smelling things. Their products are featured at Christian Supply and I love looking at their display. And I usually can pick out the products, which Sandy has done the artwork for.

B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger,  is the January selection for She Reads. The main character, Claire is focused on technique. She studies the great paintings and she is an expert at copying their work, particularly her favorite, Degas. She learns so much about painting as she is copying the work of others. It inspires her and filters into her own work and the results are amazing.

All the writers that I know are voracious readers. And I wish I could remember which one to credit these words with - Reading good books inspires me to write. And I understand this completely. I find myself using the techniques of great writers. The words are my paintbrush and the page is my canvas.

If you want to see some beautiful artwork, pop over to my friend, Sandy's website. She also has beautiful desktop calendars that she has made for this year. January's features the painting that she did for me, Let the Sunshine In. I am so blessed to have it hanging in my home.

You can also pop over to She Reads where we will be discussing The Art Forger all month long. There are some fantastic giveaways this month too.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: The Art Forger

Mystery, suspense, art, and love fill the pages of B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger.

Claire Roth, once a rising star in the art world, now fills her days working for painting copies of famous paintings. She is renowned for her imitations of Degas, whose work has long been her inspiration. Each day when she finishes the work that pays the bills, she returns to her own painting, her beloved windows series, which she hopes to one day present in her own show.

Technique has always captivated Claire. In her youth, she spent hours in museums studying the works of the great artists on display. She attempted to imitate their techniques first by copying their painting and then by applying to her own work.

Shapiro descriptions of the techniques of painting bringing the art form to life. The act of painting becomes a character in its own right. 

Aiden Markel offers her the opportunity to present her paintings, but first she must copy a Degas for him. The Degas he brings her is the missing painting that was stolen from the Isabella Gardner museum twenty years ago. As she studies the painting, she realizes that something is off. She has spent years painting Degas works. She begins to suspect that the painting always thought to be an original Degas is actually a copy. So why would Isabella Gardner one of the most renowned art collectors of her time, hang a copy in her museum?

The possibility of having her own show is too great, this is an opportunity she can't let slip by. Aiden visits often, and their business arrangement becomes more than business. She is falling in love with him.

Claire struggles with what she is doing, who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be as the mystery of the painting is revealed.

The Art Forger is the January selection of the She Reads book club. Hop on over today and leave a comment there for the chance to win your own copy of The Art Forger.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Remembering Grandmother

Grandmother Rodgers
This morning in church, the last couple of songs were old hymns, "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace." As I listened to the words, I couldn't help but smile remembering my grandmother. These were two of her favorite hymns and she always sang them just a little louder, which meant a little shriller - she wasn't known for her singing voice.

We always sat in the third pew from the front, on the right side facing the pulpit. Grandmother was not a back row Baptist. At some point during the sermon she would reach over and give me a starlight mint. I would unwrap it careful not to let the paper crinkle. Sometimes I would listen to the sermon, but I spent more time studying the stained glass windows.

After church, we would walk the three blocks to Grandmother's house. My Mom would be there finishing Sunday dinner. Grandmother and Mom worked in sync with one another making the final preparations.

Today is my Grandmother's birthday. She would have been 95.