Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Reads of 2008

In descending order of how much I loved them. These are my favorite reads of 2008, though not necessarily published this year.
10. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Sweet fairy tale with just enough humor, romance, creative detail, and sarcasm for me to fall in love with. 

9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A remarkable combination of wit, wisdom, innocence and hatred. This novel entertains as it reveals profound truths about humanity. A treasured classic that I loved infinitely more in my adulthood reading than my adolescent reading.

8. Birdwing by Rafe Martin
A thoroughly engrossing and well-paced fantasy. I enjoyed all the coming-of-age angst, magic, betrayal, and triumph. There is a just a hint of romance, a lot of adventure, unexpected twists in the plot, and several quiet, tender moments.

7. Peony In Love by Lisa See
A beautiful, haunting love story set in 17th century China. I loved how all the hurts and injustices of the past were finally washed away by the end of the novel and Peony finally finds redemption after all those long years! Absolutely recommended.

6. Katherine by Anya Seton
Lovely piece of historical fiction with a beautiful, timeless romance as well. This novel is highly emotional, epic in scope, richly detailed with some of my favorite themes in literature: the enduring quality of love, redemption, personal growth.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Collins gives it to us all: compelling plot, smart writing, strong female character, a great balance between horror and hope, brutality and tenderness. I could not put this book down and nearly had a coronary when I read the words "end of book one". (You're killing me Ms. Collins) I can't wait to see what happens next. A thoroughly entertaining read, with the beginnings of a devastating love triangle, and no end to the suspense. Well done!

4.  Anything written by Shannon Hale
Shannon is better known in our house as the Writer Who Can Do No Wrong. I love anything she has written. If you are just getting started, I would recommend The Goose Girl. It is the first of a delightful, loose series. Or possibly you might enjoy a contemporary romance Austenland, or her Newberry Honor book Princess Academy or her book published last fall Book of a Thousand Days... anything she writes I love.

3. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
Intensely emotional story of a father's unconditional love for his son. I could not put it down. It was raw, yet tender and achingly familiar. I loved Sheff's use of words, as well as all the many quotes from many resources--Shakespeare to Cobain and the way he weaved them into his story. I grieved for Sheff as I grieve for myself, my drug addict brother, my entire family, and every family whose lives are ripped apart by the insidiousness of addiction. This book was validating, motivating and fascinating. (Reader beware: high use of profanity)

2. These Is My Words by Nancy Turner
The characters lived, laughed, struggled, loved, breathed, and died around me while I read. The detailed historical authenticity and voice of the novel seemed so real I could not believe it wasn't coming from an actual diary. I instantly fell in love with the main character, Sarah, for her courage, child-like innocence, and down-and-dirty-spunkiness. I could not get enough of Captain Jack Elliot! What a great hero–ranking right up there with Rhett and Gilbert as my all time favorites. Their love story was so beautiful and true to life from beginning to end. This book was so funny, so exciting, so tender, and at times so sad I thought I would find a whole in my chest for the aching I felt (as well as the laughing I did). A COMPELLING, BEAUTIFUL read. I will read this one again and again. "A nice girl should never go anywhere without a loaded gun and a big knife."”

1. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
Best book I've read about Nazi Germany, and one of the best books I've ever read OF ALL TIME. Heart wrenching, beautiful, creative prose, vivid detail, rich characters. Although it is written about one of the most tragic events in human history, the story itself leaves one feeling hopeful and very satisfied. A MUST READ.

Friday, December 26, 2008


"The music teacher came twice each week to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin." -George Ade

"That fearful gap is seen everywhere by all of us. It's the gap between what is, and what we think would be better." -Steve Chandler

"Gaps are a fundamental mortal condition, and thus the process of closing those gaps is a fundamental mortal exercise. In fact, there is reason to think of conversion–which is rarely something that happens as a blinding, stunning, single event, or as a moment we can mark in time–as the process of narrowing and eventually closing gaps.  True conversion takes a lifetime, and perhaps longer." -Sheri Dew

I love my gaps. They have kept me on my knees for a lifetime, and I am assured they will continue to do so. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 Top 10 Favorite Things

As a way to say goodbye to 2008, I thought I'd post a few top 10 lists this week. Up first: a list of favorite things I discovered in 2008.

1. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer
A kiss of color and pearlized shine perk up their world famous 100% natural lip balm, while natural ingredients like vitamin E and coconut and sunflower oils moisturize and soothe your lips. Tastes like mint. My favorite shades: Cocoa andGuava.

2. Greek God's Honey Flavored Yogurt
Sweet, smooth, and creamy with a delicious honey taste. The only ingredients are milk, cream, sugar, honey, pectin and live cultures. Just don't read the label for the fat content.

3. Rusk Calm Nourishing Shampoo
If you have fine, thin hair like me, you will love this shampoo. It smells great and you can get it at Target. The best shampoo I've ever used. Formulated with protein extracts it gives hair a healthy, natural shine and helps maintain natural moisture and sheen. Ginger extract helps to maintain hair's moisture balance.

4. Shade Printed Cap Sleeve Herringbone Print
Too bad you can't see the print online. You'll just have to take my word for it. Great pattern in an unexpected medium, and on sale now for $9.99

5. MP3
mp3s for 20 cents, albums for 2 bucks. And they are not protected like mp4s from iTunes. Try it, you'll like it.

6. Progressive Auto Insurance
Friday I decided to play bumper cars with the minivan and had TWO car accidents. Progressive Insurance was not only $100 (!!!!) cheaper per month than Geico, I actually have a claim adjuster making calls all day long to get things rolling on an accident that wasn't even my fault. Awesome.

7. MÅLA Ikea's White Easel
For $24.99 you just can't find anything to compare. I cannot wait for Emma to get this from Santa this year. It has a chalkboard, white board and dowel for a paper roll. Killer deal.

8. KangaROOS
In third grade I had some ROOS with a zipper pouch. Now I am kicking it in these. One of the few styles from the 80's that I will support. I wear these almost everyday. They are cooler than your shoes. 

9. Icebreakers Restore Lemon-aid Pomegranate Mints
Don't let the word "mint" fool you. These are a delicious, tangy treat that I pop one in my mouth whenever I have a craving for something sweet. I have 15 boxes of them in my food storage. They have Zinc and Vitamin C in them and a rad container.

10. Spoonflower
Now you can print custom fabric on demand for only $18 a yard. Perfect for those super picky people like me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Birdwing by Rafe Martin

Welcome to my first book review. As you may know, I read a lot. As a matter of fact, I just finished reading my 139th book of 2008. Have no fear, I will not burden you with a review of every book that I read. That is what shelfari is for. Only my most favorite, 5-star reads will earn a spot here. 

Birdwing by Rafe Martin is based on the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale The Six Swans in which six brothers are turned into swans by their wicked step mother. Through a great sacrifice of their sister, they are all eventually turned back into humans. Unfortunately, there is a small mishap with the youngest brother, and his left wing never changes back into a human arm. This is his story.

I found Birdwing to be a thoroughly engrossing and well-paced fantasy. I enjoyed all the coming-of-age angst, magic, betrayal, and triumph. There is a just a hint of romance, a lot of adventure, unexpected twists in the plot, and several quiet, tender moments. 

I wish the author would have delved a little deeper into the relationships, and it seemed like the resolution happened a bit too fast and easily, but overall this is a wonderful read. I loved it because of what it meant to me personally. The idea that something we think of as a weakness or curse can actually lead us down a path that will bless our lives. This book spoke to me at a time when I really needed to have that message. Highly recommend for grades 6 and up, who love fantasy or fairy tales.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A short story, kindly told as a caution to dear friends

On Wednesday I went to pick up Micah and Emma from a neighbors' house. It was early evening and I was feeling rather rundown. I was actually out of breath from walking from my van to their front door. Since getting sick three weeks ago I have not quite got my mojo back. I've felt weak, tired, breathless. Actually, I've felt like I was pregnant, only without the throwing up. Hhhhhmmmm...

Oh, where was I?

Ah yes. So, I haven't had the energy to get things done. Like cleaning the toilets, making my bed. You know, those kind of things. Well, said neighbor also happens to be a P.A. and generally an awesome person all around. When I mentioned my health woes to him, he whipped out his stethoscope (which was sitting on his kitchen table), took a listen to my breathing, and diagnosed me with Walking Pneumonia. Bless his heart.

Apparently, Walking Pneumonia is what people get who must carry on regardless of how they feel. You're body is thinking about getting really sick, but just not doing it yet. I think you could call it Procrastinator's Pneumonia. Also, You're not sick enough to deserve sympathy, because you are still functioning, but you would still like a little help around the house. If you can forgive my language, you could also call it Half-Assed Pneumonia.

So, he gave me some medicine (which was also sitting on the kitchen table). Perhaps you've heard of it: LEVAQUIN. Again, bless his heart.

I took the medicine before going to bed. That's when the trouble began. Because this is a short story, I will just copy the possible side effects listed on the medicine, and you can get an idea of what happened.

The most common side effects caused by LEVAQUIN, which are usually mild, include nausea, diarrhea, itching, abdominal pain, dizziness, flatulence, and rash. Quinolones, including LEVAQUIN, may also cause central nervous system stimulation which may lead to tremors, restlessness, anxiety, lightheadedness, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, nightmares, insomnia, and rarely, suicidal thoughts or acts.

I'll be taking them in the morning from now on.

The End

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I love Anna Marie Horner's Drawing Room fabric collection. Look at these lovely pillows I found on rubystella's etsy site. I think I will make three pillows for my bedroom in these three fabrics. Hope this gives some inspiration to my sister Angela, who is creating some artwork for above my bed. More on that later.


**postscript** Angela, the names of the fabrics are: Sketch Book-Ivory, Pressed Flowers-Rose, and Nouveau Bouquet-Teal. Here's some swatches:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Retro Spective

Welcome to my Retro Thanksgiving. What follows is a collection of memories and gratitudes I gathered throughout the day.

I am grateful for my eternal perspective. It's good to know that I won't be judged for the stylishness of my couches, pillows or lamps. I am, however, accountable for how I nurture those little bums that have worn holes in my couch, and those sticky fingers that left smudges on my lamps.

I'm grateful to be a wife and mother. Nothing else in my life motivates me more to do better, to try harder, to change more often. I often notice the painful size of the gap between who I am and who I want to be. Fulfilling my role as wife and mother has allowed me stretch and grow to close that gap like nothing else could. 

I'm grateful for the Twilight Series. What? Are you serious? Yes, I am. And I included it here because I went and saw the movie for the third time today. Thanks to Stephenie Meyer, I met my peeps, reconnected with my inner child and remembered what having fun was.

I'm grateful for alpalcas because sometimes life can be stressful and painful and they help us forget.

I'm grateful for my heritage. Not long ago I attended to the temple and did an endowment session for an ancestor. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of what this woman had sacrificed. For her children. For her posterity. For me. Someday I will meet her face to face and we can both tell each other thanks. I tell you what; there will be no words.

These pictures speak for themselves here. Have you ever loved something so much it almost hurts? Look at those smiles. I get to see those all day long.

I am grateful for patience. Specifically for Heavenly Father's patience in me while I work out my salvation. 

I'm grateful for the parable of The Prodigal Son. There is no more hopeful or humbling story.  I have played several of the characters at one time or another. Don't we all? Aren't we all the recipients of undeserved mercy? We had a great visit with Steven today.  It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. -Luke 15:32

H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G
from ours to yours.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear Santa Claus

For Christmas I would like just three things. I am asking you because you are my last hope [with the economy being slow like it is, and Mr. Coleman being employed in the slowest of slow markets right now]. I feel great just knowing that these are the things I would purchase for myself had that letter from the Publishers Clearing House not been a hoax. Ahem. 

First Thing: This personal embosser. I can already see my own personal library growing to gigantic proportions, and it would just be lovely to have a clear, crisp, embossed emblem on each title page of every book.

Next Thing: These awesome boots by Kenneth Cole Reaction. They are quite beautiful, and since I have moved to Utah [think 1995] I have told myself every winter that this would be the winter I will splurge and buy myself a great pair of boots. Well guess what? The most I have spent on a pair of shoes since 1995 is [well, let's just exclude my running shoes, because that really throws off the numbers] $50. So, I think I deserve these.

And finally, I would really love a new camera, but not just any camera. I want this one. The new Canon XSI, and I'll also need a couple of lenses, if you don't mind. My Canon, while I love it dearly, has just not been the same since it spent the day in a plastic bag swimming in warm, flat root beer. You can't really blame it, but still, a woman with an eye for beautiful things needs a nice camera. So...

Thanks so much in advance and have a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moving underwater

Have you ever had a dream where it feels like you are moving under water? That's how I felt today. All day. And I seem to have those days a lot, like a depression without being sad, a deflated balloon. "Why?" Mr. Coleman wants to know.

So do I. 

It could have something to do with being sick for twelve days. I am getting better, I have most of my voice back. I am just so tired. I feel drained, but I haven't done any draining for days. 

 So here, for my own benefit is a list of things I accomplished today [even though I felt like lying in bed all day]:
washed dishes
unloaded dishwasher
quick-cleaned kitchen
drove kids to elementary school
bought deli turkey for preschool thanksgiving feast
dropped daughter off at preschool
watched Mimi while her mother is getting chemo at the hospital
played games at to cheer up Mimi
picked up daughter at preschool
dropped off Mimi at kindergarten
answered emails
washed and put away four loads of laundry
taught two piano lessons
made fried rice for dinner
made candy popcorn for FHE treat
played game for FHE
bathed the babies, brushed teeth, combed hair and put to bed
posted to my blog

Okay, I feel a little better all ready. Even if my list did not include showering, exercising or being amazing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

They don't make 'em like they used to

I like something new and shiny just as much as the next girl. BUT, there are some things that you just cannot buy today and get the same quality as you used to. This is an ode to those few precious objects I have inherited from my mother (and mother-in-law), that I would never, ever buy new.

Object Number One: The Magic Mill

This is my stone grinder that I use to grind my wheat for my homemade bread. (More on that another time). It has a hardwood cabinet and lovely stainless steel detailing on the knobs. When is the last time you admired the intricacies of an appliance knob? My mom got it when she was first married. In 1971. Still good as new. It is made to last a lifetime. I saw one on Craig's List for $295. Seriously! The super-fine, warm, freshly-ground wheat is one of several secrets to great tasting bread. I use it with a grateful heart about twice a week.

Object Number Two: 1894 Mathushek and Sons Piano
This piano is a beauty at the tender age of 114. My mother-in-law taught thousands of piano lessons on this piano, and now I am doing the same. Original ivory and ebony keys. With a duplex (meaning double, or TWO!!) sounding board still in excellent condition, this piano sounds better than any upright piano you can buy today. It needs a restoration, which we are saving up for, but in order to get the same quality of sound from a piano today, I would  have to buy a Steinway, and they can cost more than my house. I feel so lucky.

Object Number Three: Bernina 830

Perhaps you have tried to sew and thought that it was too difficult, or you didn't have enough patience. Well, that is because you haven't sewed on this Bernina 830 from 1973. These machines are still in high demand and can sell on Ebay for about $800. 100% metal mechanical parts. Twelve different original, metal feet. No-jam bobbin. I have sewed curtains, pillows, English-smocked dresses, button holes, endless denim patches, and upholstered ottomans with it. And it purrs.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Can I tell you how much I love this guy? ^^Just got back from our Monday family visit. Here's how it goes:

We head down to the basement and find a cushy couch in a quiet corner. We let the kids wrestle while he brings out all his notebooks, study guides and books. I listen as he explains his recovery process to me. I read his lists, his definitions.

He flexes his biceps for me and asks if they look bigger. I concur. Much, much bigger. (He's up to 180 pounds–from 145)

I hear his growth. I sense the need for my own recovery. I silently commit to take my own inventory tonight. I feel hope. It dangles cautiously, but by the time I leave the feeling is too large to be contained inside my body and out it pours.  I weep. Because I finally feel it. I allow myself to feel it. I am pierced by the brilliance of it.

Hang in there little bro. I promised not to give you any advice. Just allow me this moment to say: Keep it up. I'm so proud of you.

"HOPE... is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn." --President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Monday, November 3, 2008

Smörgåsbord-ish Smattering

I'd like to title this picture: Why I Haven't Started A Blog Until Now. Look carefully. See what Lucas has in his hands? That's right, my most favorite Christmas present ever (thank you Ryan and Kathryn). Our razor sharp J.A. Henkels knife. What better way to pass the time on a beautiful fall afternoon while Mom is figuring out how to create a blog. Can you chop the carrots and potatoes for tonight's chicken noodle soup while your at it, son? Thanks. Mom will be right up to supervise you.

Well, welcome to my blog anyhow. This first post will be a smorgasbord-ish smattering of events and thoughts from the past month. Enjoy, but plan on future posts being sporadic and disjointed. That's just how I roll.

Hope your Halloween was as frightfully delightful as ours was (complete with an 18-inch-high Best Child's Costume trophy for Micah at our ward's Trunk-or-Treat)

This is my brother and I. If we could talk him into getting some highlights and waxing his eyebrows, people may start mistaking us for twins. I've always felt like we shared more DNA than anyone else, and here is the proof.

Mr. Coleman and I went to visit Mr. SPM at his rehab two weeks ago. It was scary/emotional/exciting/hopeful. I could recognize a tiny spark of who he really is, inside the shell that we have known for the last several years. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Miracles are occurring.

Five years ago the Coleman family welcomed a tiny, delicate 5 pound baby girl during a dark and wintry period of our lives. She has been the special sparkle that has brightened uncounted moments since then. She celebrated her birthday with friends. They danced, ate cake, played games and LAUGHED.