Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Sunday Salon about The Sunday Salon



The Sunday Salon and I go way back. Way, way back. My first blog post was on June 8, 2008; my first Sunday Salon post was on July 6, 2008, not even a month later.

I started my blog for a class that met the requirements for summer inservice hours. I've been a computer person from the get-go. I joined the math club in high school (ugh, math) primarily so that I could play on the room-sized computer that only those in the math club could use. The first real purchase we made as a family was a home computer. (Funny story: I was used to the Apple computers we had at school, but this newly purchased computer was a DOS computer. I had it for a week before I finally, in desperation, called my cousin and told him that I thought our computer was broken; once it booted up, all it would do was sit there and blink C:// over and over again.) I'd joined an online book club as early as 1999.

Becoming a blogger wasn't very interesting at first; I wrote posts, but no one read them or commented on them. Learning about the social aspects of blogging was world-changing for me. That first year of blogging I learned the most important thing: Blogging isn't a monologue; it's a conversation. That first month I blogged other bloggers told me about Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, the Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards), and the Sunday Salon.

It was through these social venues that I began to love blogging. And one of my favorites has always been the Sunday Salon.

The Sunday Salon was started sometime before 2008 by Debra Hamel. She blogged at Typepad and used some sort of complex system called Yahoo Pipes to allow bloggers to share links with each other. It didn't take long for the Sunday Salon to explode. By 2010, the Sunday Salon had 500 participants and could no longer accept new members. Debra moved the Salon to Facebook in 2011 but the intimacy of the original Salon was hard to maintain in this new venue, and by 2019, only a few bloggers were posting links each week.

At the end of 2018, I began to compile information for a post on book blogging memes (see Book Blog Memes: An Exhaustive List for my results). I checked to see which memes were still active, and one of the memes I checked on was the Sunday Salon. Debra assured me she was still the administrator of the Facebook group, but she showed some interest in passing the baton. Would I like to press on with the Salon?

Yes, I would. I am retired now, for goodness' sake, and how better to spend my time than to take this lovely tool and see if I can revive it a bit?

But how to proceed?

I need some input. Could you share your thoughts with me? I am imbedding a short Google Form here and I'm also adding it on Facebook. Could you answer the questions? It's anonymous, though you can certainly reveal who you are in the comments section of the form, if you wish. Please let me know what you think.








Saturday, February 16, 2019

February: It's Spring


Ten years ago, this is what February looked like at my house.





These photos are from today.
My azaleas aren't as lush as they used to be.
But they are over thirty years old.

It's early yet. Let's see what happens.






For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by A Web of StoriesTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at A Web of Stories.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Favorite Couples In Books (The We-Love-Our-Companion-Animals Edition)

Of course we will always love Scarlett and Rhett, and Eleanor and Park, Gatsby and Daisy, Elizabeth and Darcy...and all the other wonderful classic romances novels.

But what about those great love stories of people for our animals? Here are a few of my favorites.


Because of Winn-Dixie
"One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie."



Where the Red Fern Grows
"Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past."



American Wolf
"...in recent decades, conservationists have brought wolves back to the Rockies, igniting a battle over the very soul of the West. With novelistic detail, Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, O-Six, a charismatic alpha female named for the year of her birth. Uncommonly powerful, with gray fur and faint black ovals around each eye, O-Six is a kind and merciful leader, a fiercely intelligent fighter, and a doting mother. She is beloved by wolf watchers, particularly renowned naturalist Rick McIntyre, and becomes something of a social media star, with followers around the world."



The Black Stallion
"First published in 1941, Walter Farley's best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black's first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old."



A Dog So Small
"For months, Ben Blewitt has been thinking about dogs. So he is very disappointed when, for his birthday, he receives not a dog, but a picture of a dog. But Ben's imagination soon gets to work, and then the strange adventures begin."



Gentle Ben
"The Alaskan wilderness is a lonely place for Mark Andersen, especially after the death of his brother. But Mark finds a friend named Ben, who happens to be an Alaskan brown bear. Ben and Mark form a special bond, but the townspeople are determined to destroy it. It is only through the strength of an enduring friendship that Ben—and Mark—have a chance of being saved."



Henry Huggins
"Just as Henry Huggins is complaining that nothing exciting ever happens, a friendly dog sits down beside him and looks pleadingly at his ice-cream cone. From that moment on, the two are inseparable. But when Ribsy's original owner appears, trying to reclaim his dog, Henry's faced with the possibility of losing his new best friend."



Lily and the Octopus
"Ted—a gay, single, struggling writer is stuck: unable to open himself up to intimacy except through the steadfast companionship of Lily, his elderly dachshund. When Lily’s health is compromised, Ted vows to save her by any means necessary. By turns hilarious and poignant, an adventure with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked truths of loss and longing, Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all."



Marley and Me
"Is it possible for humans to discover the key to happiness through a bigger-than-life, bad-boy dog? Just ask the Grogans. John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same."




My Friend Flicka
"The first time that Ken McLaughlin sees Flicka galloping past him on his family's Wyoming horse ranch, he knows she's the yearling he's been longing for. But Flicka comes from a long line of wild horses, and taming her will take more than Ken could ever have imagined. Soon, Ken is faced with an impossible choice: give up on his beautiful horse, or risk his life to fight for her."



Never Cry Wolf
"More than a half-century ago the Canadian Wildlife Service assigned the naturalist Farley Mowat to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. Mowat's account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone-studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves (who were of no threat to caribou or man) and for a friendly Inuit tribe known as the Ihalmiut ("People of the Deer")-is a work that has become cherished by generations of readers, an indelible record of the myths and magic of wild wolves."



Old Yeller
"When his father sets out on a cattle drive toward Kansas for the summer, fourteen-year-old Travis Coates is left to take care of his family and their farm. Living in Texas Hill Country during the 1860s, Travis comes to face new, unanticipated, and often perilous responsibilities in the frontier wilderness. A particular nuisance is a stray yellow dog that shows up one day and steals food from the family. But the big canine who Travis calls “Old Yeller” proves his worth by defending the family from danger. And Travis ultimately finds help and comfort in the courage and unwavering love of the dog who comes to be his very best friend."



Rascal
"Nothing's surprising in the North household, not even Sterling's new pet raccoon. Rascal is only a baby when Sterling brings him home, but soon the two are best friends, doing everything together--until the spring day when everything suddenly changes."



Sounder
"An African American boy and his family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food. The man grows more desperate by the day.  When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down."



The Whale Rider
"Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary "whale rider." In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild--and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, it is Kahu who saves the tribe when she reveals that she has the whale rider's ancient gift of communicating with whales."



The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
"Mark Bittner was down on his luck. He’d gone to San Francisco at the age of twenty-one to take a stab at a music career, but he hadn’t had much success. After many years as an odd-jobber in the area, he accepted work as a housekeeper for an elderly woman. The gig came with a rent-free studio apartment on the city’s famed Telegraph Hill, which had somehow become home to a flock of brilliantly colored wild parrots.  In this unforgettable story, Bittner recounts how he became fascinated by the birds and made up his mind to get to know them and gain their trust. He succeeds to such a degree that he becomes the local wild parrot expert and a tourist attraction. People can’t help gawking at the man who, during daily feedings, stands with parrots perched along both arms and atop his head. When a documentary filmmaker comes along to capture the phenomenon on film, the story takes a surprising turn, and Bittner’s life truly takes flight."


Have you read any of these?
Do you have any favorites I have left off?



Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Classics Club: My One Year Anniversary



A year ago I decided to join The Classics Club.

What is the Classics Club? From the blog:


  • Choose 50+ classics.
  • List them at your blog.
  • Choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles.
  • E-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog@gmail.com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • Write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list.
  • When you’ve written about every single title, let us know.
I compiled a list of the fifty classics books I wanted to read and jumped in:

The Classics Club: Fifty Classic(ish) Books I Will Read in the Next Five Years.



Now a year has passed. What has been accomplished by becoming part of The Classics Club?


  • I have read 33 of the 50 books on my list. 
  • Of the 33 books I've read, seventeen were five-star-reads. That is astonishing. Over half the classic books I read last year were excellent books.
  • Of the 33 books I've read, only one book was a two-star-read. That is astonishing, too. Only one book was a book that I found to be a book I would not recommend to others, a disappointing read.
  • I feel like I am an active part of the book blogging community. I am not a frequent reader of genre fiction, and I've had a difficult time in the last few years finding bloggers who take on challenging books. I've discovered some amazing bloggers through The Classics Club.
  • I feel like I have taken on a worthy challenge. I've read many books I never would have attempted if I had not joined The Classics Club.
  • I feel like I have freedom in the challenge, to choose the books I put on my list initially as well as to modify my list when I start a book and find it is not a book I am deeply interested in reading. I am able to focus on one of my primary interests in reading, to try to read as many classic children's books as I can, as well as also taking on adult classics.



How about you? 
Are you a member of The Classics Club?
If you are, are you pleased with your membership in the club?
If you are not, what are your reasons for not joining?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.




Other posts from last year about The Classics Club:

Let's Spin the Wheel and See What We Read in August




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook


From the time I grew up, started working, and got married, my slow cooker became my appliance of preference for food prep. If you could see the first crockpot cookbook I got (as a wedding shower gift...thank you, Krista) with its splattered and crumpled pages, you would know immediately how much I love a slow cooker.

I was happy to agree when Calisto Publisher offered to send me this book. 

I am glad to tell you that The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook is everything you want in a slow cooker cookbook. The author, Karen Bellessa Petersen, is a busy mom herself, and she has learned the many values of a slow cooker. 

Here are the amazing features of the recipes in this book:
  • Petersen has included only recipes that contain only five primary ingredients, though the recipes may also include a few pantry staples and simple spices. 
  • Each recipe is meant to be a complete meal
  • The recipes require no more than fifteen minutes of preparation time
  • The recipes cook for eight hours, the time one is generally away from home. 
  • There are no processed foods used in the recipes.

I tried two recipes from the book. Both were a hearty success with my family. Here is one of the recipes:

Mexican Corn Chowder


1-16 oz. package frozen sweet white corn
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup picante sauce
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. Put the corn in the slow cooker. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, and cumin. Pour in the broth and the picante sauce. Submerge the potatoes in the liquid. Nestle the chicken thighs in among the potatoes.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. The meat should practically fall off the bones. Discard the cartilage and bones. Shred the chicken with two forks and return it to the slow cooker.

4. Transfer the potatoes to the cutting board. Smash two of the potatoes with a fork and stir into the slow cooker. Cut the remaining two potatoes into cubes. Gently stir the cubed potatoes and lime juice into the slow cooker. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.


For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by A Web of StoriesTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at A Web of Stories.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.




Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Books I’m On the Fence About

My daughter-in-law was surprised when she visited yesterday. "What happened to the books?"

When she last stopped by, I had twelve huge stacks of books along the wall of our back bedroom. Now the books were gone.

"Gone?" she asked.

My face reddened. "No," I admitted. "I put some on the shelf in the closet. I put others on the nightstand. Some are under the bed."

Here are books I'm thinking about reading, but haven't yet. Thoughts?


The Eight by Katherine Neville (keep or give away?)
Before the Fall (keep or give away?)
Courage for Beginners (keep or give away?)


The Tin Drum (keep or give away?)
Round Rock (keep or give away?)
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (keep or give away?)


Dear Mrs. Bird (keep or give away?)
A Little Life (keep or give away?)
Love & Luck (keep or give away?)


Strange the Dreamer (keep or give away?)
Perdido Street Station (keep or give away?)
Battle Magic (keep or give away?)
Before I Fall (keep or give away?)
Cinder (keep or give away?)
The Elite (keep or give away?)
City of Bones (keep or give away?)



Story's End (keep or give away?)
Book Scavenger (keep or give away?)
The City of Dreaming Books (keep or give away?)



The Nest (keep or give away?)
Sous Chef (keep or give away?)



Turtles All the Way Down (keep or give away?)
Salt to the Sea (keep or give away?)
The Night Circus (keep or give away?)


D-Day (keep or give away?)
Yoga Wisdom and Practice (keep or give away?)


I'm ridiculous. Where am I going as soon as I finish this post? A library book sale!


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

I Go to Paris




Let me clarify: I am not literally in Paris; I'm "literally" in Paris. I'm reading two Paris books. Let me share these two books with you, and you can go there, too.


Crêpes by Suzette 
by Monica Wellington

If they only allow me one book about Paris when I go to the nursing home some day, this will be the book I take with me.

Suzette is selling crêpes all over Paris---a street on the Left Bank, outside the Louvre, near Notre-Dame, and many more spots---and, through her travels around the city, she shares with her readers French vocabulary, French art, and even a recipe for crêpes.

After being out of print for some years, Crêpes by Suzette is now, happily, back in a lovely paperback edition.






Vintage 1954 
by Antoine Laurain


Hubert Larnaudie invites some of his neighbors in his apartment in Paris to share a bottle of 1954 Beaujolais. To his great astonishment, he and three others---antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob---awake the next morning in 1950s Paris.

Isn't this fun?



What are you reading today?




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.