MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY INTERIORS TO YOURS…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

As I sip my morning coffee and plan for the day ahead, I send happy thoughts out to all of you.  Hoping for a wonderful day.

Yesterday I finished reading The Adults, by Caroline Hulse, and it was a story that kept me turning the pages, even as I kept shaking my head at the so-called “adults,” who were behaving badly. (Click title for my review).

I didn’t find any New Book Releases for today.  That’s probably a good thing, as I still have older books tucked away on Paige, just waiting patiently.  Last night I started reading The Affliction, by Beth Gutcheon, a favorite author.  This book is the second in her clever romp of a mystery series combining social comedy and dark-hearted murder—a novel set at a girls’ boarding school in a picturesque Hudson River town with more than its share of secrets.  I enjoyed the first book, Death at Breakfast.(Click title for my review). 

I didn’t love the first outing as much as her other books, and as I read my review again, I noticed that my only complaints were the numerous characters that added a bit of confusion.  The boarding school aspect was another negative for me.  I’m not a fan of those.  But because Beth Gutcheon wrote the book, I decided to give it a try.  Which is why I am now reading the second book in the new series.

What I love best from the author are some of the older books, one of which was made into a movie:  Still Missing became the movie Without a Trace.  I watched it again this week.

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I love watching old favorite movies during the holidays.  This movie came out in 1983, so not “old” in the sense of Katherine Hepburn and her crowd, but old to millennials.

The newest version of the book Still Missing was published in 2005, but it first came out in 1981.

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What are you planning on this Christmas Day?  Movies, books, games, and food?  Enjoy!

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REVIEW: BEACH BLISS, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

 

Blue skies and smooth seas return to the coastal community of Stony Point. Until a new arrival in this little New England beach town sets forth a competition like no other. As the temperature rises beneath the summer sun, so do the antics and good-natured fun.

Join Jason Barlow, Maris, Kyle, Elsa and the rest of the gang for another unforgettable season at the shore. The sound of gulls and lapping waves are calling you to the page … for a summer read that’s purely Beach Bliss.

My Thoughts: I love joining in with familiar characters who feel like friends, and in Beach Bliss, the crew is all there at Stony Point Beach.

This time, we are watching as Elsa finishes renovating her cottage into Ocean Star Inn, with the help of architect Jason Barlow. Jason’s wife Maris is Elsa’s niece, and is trying to finish writing Neil’s manuscript. The accident that killed Neil seriously injured his brother Jason, and Jason still struggles with the after-effects, both physically and emotionally.

Elsa’s son Sal died the year before, and his fiancée Celia was pregnant at the time, and now has a baby she named Aria.

Everyone in the community has taken the two under their wings…and even organized a series of “godfather contests.” Funny and poignant moments carry us along. I especially enjoyed how the old Foley’s Back Room remained intact in the inn, as part of their past and their history.

The godfather contests were the least interesting aspects to me, but I did smile when the women set out to find their own way to enjoy a piece of the godfather action. As the rest of the novel picked up and carried us along to Aria’s christening and Jason’s attempt to find out more about a mysterious cottage, I was once again glued to the pages. 5 stars.

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COFFEE MORNING: FAMILY BONDING….& MEMORIES

Good morning, and let’s grab a cup of coffee and chat.  Above, I’ve set my cup down on my Baker’s Rack so I can check out my figurines, like the Wizard of Oz collection that remind me of the journey.  Below, another view of my Wizard of Oz characters that have become a logo for my creations.

 

Coca Cola bears join an assortment of books, mugs, and other bears, like the ones on the bottom shelf.

But…before I get off track, today I’m going back in time, to the place where I grew up.  A place now belonging to my younger brother, who recently enjoyed a visit with his grandchildren there.

Left to Right:  Luc, Gavin, and America, his grandchildren, in the almond orchard:

 

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A close-up of the almond orchard…I recall many walks among these trees….

 

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My brother, Eldon, his wife, Marie, and three grandchildren:  Gavin, America, & Luc…By the big tree that has been there since I was a kid, and before….

 

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Luc is enjoying a ride…in the background, notice the old barn that was there when I was a kid.  It looks like it hasn’t been painted since then, either, but I know it has been.  It used to be red.

 

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Gavin is taking his turn…

 

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Inside the barn, you’ll find my brother’s shop where he creates Signs by Eldon…and his crew of fans:  Luc, Gavin, America, and wife Marie.

 

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Gavin, playing the piano that was also in this home when I lived here, sometime in the mid-20th Century!

 

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A bonding moment between Marie and America, her youngest grandchild…(and only) granddaughter…

 

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Three generations of females:  Marie, Amy, and America….

 

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I think it might be time for a visit IRL….so I’m planning for a getaway to the Northern Central Valley soon.

What do you love about your family moments?  Do they tell a story?  Remind you of the past?

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COFFEE & FAMILY MOMENTS: SAVORING THEM…

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Good morning, bloggers!  Do you have some coffee nearby?  Let’s lift those mugs and celebrate reading, coffee, mimosas…and special family memories.

Today I found some photos from the past…they are a bit blurry, but that’s okay.  Like the velveteen rabbit, they have been LOVED a lot.

First…

My second son, Brett, cuddling with his three kidlets, whom we called the A-Tots, back in the day.  L to R:  Aaron, Alec, and Aubrey.  Alec will be 22 in June; Aubrey will be 20 this month; and Aaron will reach 19 in June.

 

 

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In this photo, they are a little bit older:

 

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A photo of my eldest, Craig, and his lovely wife Gabi, when they were still living in Berlin.  This shot was snapped in 2010…so they weren’t yet married.  The wedding took place in 2013, and now they live in Prague.

 

 

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I found a more recent photo of Gabi:

 

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My youngest son and his wife (left and center) live in beautiful Crescent City, CA…and here they are, with a friend:

 

 

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Check out their beautiful surroundings:

 

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Back in the Central Valley, my granddaughter Fiona and her mom played with some face goop:

 

 

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In our nearby mountains, my youngest grandson is enjoying Nature…

 

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In a world that seems to have gone mad in recent days, I cling to the family moments…and hope that our lives (and our dreams) will survive.

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And I take pleasure in my books.  My current read:

The Bad Things (e-book), by Mary-Jane Riley, a darkly compelling psychological thriller, full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of THE WICKED GIRLS by Alex Marwood and THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer.

 

 

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I’m enjoying it so much, that last night I downloaded Book 2:  After She Fell.

 

 

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As you sip your coffee, reflect on your moments…and let’s share!

I’ll be linking to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshots.

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LOOKING BACK ON COZY MOMENTS: A JOURNEY

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2016 has been a year of disappointments, struggles, and family moments that helped keep my eye on the future.

Check out some recent images from the year.  Before Fiona left town to attend college, she and her mom enjoyed a cup of brew in the mornings.

 

 

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A snow day in North Dakota…step-great-grandchildren Maddix, Bella, and Lilly…and their mom.

 

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Christmas morning in LA, with Aaron, Aubrey, and Alec…home from their various universities.

 

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Those same three with their dad at a Laker’s game.

 

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My niece Amy and her husband Rick, left two in both versions.  A Then and Now moment captured with friends.  Amy and Rick were married in 1997!

 

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Amy and Rick’s three tots:  Front row, center, Gavin; right, America; top row, right, Luc.  The other three are cousins.

 

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Just for fun, I’m sharing something new in my bedroom:  the curtain that separates my room into sleep area and ensuite bathroom.

 

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Fiona’s cozy clutter looks almost like an artful arrangement.

 

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A cozy reading day…with a drink.

 

 

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That’s it for today…this post will be linked to West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshot.

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HUMP DAY THOUGHTS: FROM THE FOOTHILLS TO THE CITY…

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Welcome to Hump Day Thoughts….check out the mimosa above.  That was Sunday, but I think I still have some of the ingredients (champagne, orange juice).

When I first brought out my bins with Christmas decorations, the tree above was still hiding on a shelf, so one night, I dragged it out and borrowed some ornaments from one of the other miniatures.  It is a tree that doesn’t require much, so it’s all good.

The little A-frame cabin was one my youngest son sent to me three Christmases ago, and it is reminiscent of the house I had in the foothills for thirteen years….except that A-frame house had a coat of green paint in the photo below.

 

 

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Surrounded by oak and pine trees, it created a feeling of respite from the urban world.  And it brought my four children together on several occasions.

Nowadays, they are all over the place, from Prague, to LA, and to Crescent City.  One remains here in this city, and so do two of the grandchildren.  But we all stay in touch, and sometimes, they come back.  The photo below was taken in 1994. (I think).

 

 

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While we were living there, we hosted some Thanksgiving events, and I enjoy remembering the grandchildren playing on this Tree Fort:  Left to Right, Alec, Aaron, Fiona, and Aubrey.  They are all grown up now (legally, anyway).

 

 

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This photo (below) depicts one of our last Christmases there.  I loved that view from the dining room window, and to the left of what you see here was my computer station, where I created five of my novels.

 

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Creative Corner, way too crammed with STUFF!  LOL:

 

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I like my current creative station:

 

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Reading has gotten off to a slower start this week, but I did finish a short story and one fairly short novel.  My current reads:  The Mothers, by Brit Bennett, and The Sleepwalkers, by Chris Bohjalian.

 

 

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Visiting blogs this morning, I found a book that I had to add to my list…and promptly requested it from NetGalley:

The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls which I loved this past summer.  The new book is coming in May 2017.

 

 

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Synopsis:  In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls—a “fiendishly plotted thriller” (Publishers Weekly)—a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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My morning thoughts have swept me from the past, with memories in the A-frame house, to the present, in my new little office nook and all the books I love…and those I want.

What are your thoughts today?  Christmas plans?  Upcoming reads?

I’m linking up to West Metro Mommy Reads for Saturday Snapshot.

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MY INTERIOR THOUGHTS: A GLIMPSE OF THE PAST

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When I sorted through some photo folders this morning, I found this one, (above), taken a while ago, as I read that book in 2010!  How is it possible for so much time to fly by, and the memories can only be affixed to a specific book read at that time? (I checked on Goodreads!  LOL).

The patio also looks very clean there, compared to how it looks today.  I don’t think I dare show you what it looks like today…it’s been windy, then rainy, and…well, here it is: 

 

messy patio in april 2016

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I have avoided going out there, primarily (I tell myself) because it has been raining so much, on and off, so it is futile.  And also…I am highly allergic to the outdoors.  LOL.

I started taking a new allergy medication that may work better…just like my new doctor is going to be better for me, too.  Some of you may recall my struggle over the meds. the previous doctor insisted on…well, another story, right? (My Day in the Life post).

Now for some more hidden treasures from my photo folder.  Here’s my oldest, Craig, with Heather, in 2001, just before he returned to Prague after a visit.   Heather and I spent a few days with him in Sacramento, where he’d been staying; this one was snapped in Old Town:

 

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And a few years later, here in Fresno:  Brett, my second oldest, with Heather, just before one of our reunion lunches.  (2009?).  I could tell when this was captured by the glimpse of Fiona at the end of the table…she was 12 there.  LOL.  The adults don’t change much.

 

Brett & Heather - a few years ago

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More photo memories.  Here is one of Noah, at around one (late 2003), with Heather and his great-grandmother, Mary:

 

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Wow, that tour of my life a while ago has been a whirlwind of memories.   Movies do that for me, too, especially the one I watched last night, full of music that takes me back.  It was Ricki and the Flash, with Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline…and Meryl’s daughter Mamie Gummer.

 

 

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That’s it for my walk down memory lane today…I’m reading A Fatal Grace, Book 2, by Louise Penny, but so far it hasn’t really grabbed me.

 

 

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What has your week brought you so far?  Memories, books, movies, thoughts?  I am sharing this at West Metro Mommy Reads, for Saturday Snapshots.

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MORNING MOMENTS: EXCERPTED FROM “INTERIOR DESIGNS”

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Morning brings titillating thoughts…and reminders of bad choices in the past.   Excerpted from Interior Designs.

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When her alarm clock shrilled, Caroline Jansen jumped out of bed immediately.  She was hard-wired for efficiency, and everything about her day was pre-planned, from the coffee pot timed to start at 5:30 a.m. to her alarm set for 5:45.  She could grab her first cup of coffee even before her shower, just to make sure she was completely awake.

 
Now she stood in the efficient kitchen of her condo sipping from her mug, still wearing the long shirt that reached her knees.  She’d grabbed it from her boyfriend’s closet one morning after a sleepover and had never returned it, not even after they broke up.  Not that she wanted any reminders of him, but it was the perfect size to totally cover her comfortably.

 
Carrying the coffee upstairs, she approached her shower, turned it on, and then placing the mug on the counter, slipped out of the shirt and stepped under the spray.  Closing her eyes and enjoying the beginning of her day, she thought about the tasks ahead.  And naturally, she thought about Martha and how off-track she seemed lately.  Not that her work had suffered, but something wasn’t right.  The divorce could be at fault, but those two had been apart for a couple of years, hadn’t they?  She knew they’d been married for nine or ten years, and before that, they’d dated several years, too.  So she could understand the connection.  But wasn’t it time to move on?

 
Martha wasn’t aware that she knew about Zach Lowenstein.  She thought she’d been so discreet, but Caroline had picked up clues.  And she’d seen them together once, when their eyes had glommed onto one another, like something magical was happening.  So when he didn’t show up anymore, Caroline wondered…And decided that maybe her boss’s aborted relationship might be as much to blame for her mood as the failed marriage.

 
Toweling off, she dressed carefully before applying makeup.  Her look was efficient, just as she was.  Simple A-line styled hair, a bit of eyeshadow and blush, a touch of lip gloss.  Satisfied, she tucked her shirt into the slim skirt and stepped into her sandals.  Tossing her glossy brunette hair and leaning in to study her dark eyes, she smiled at her reflection.

 
She loped down the stairs, ready for her second cup of coffee and the newspaper.  Her day had begun.
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When the alarm went off, I was not ready to jump out of bed.  I groaned, turned over, and glared at the clock.  Why did I have to wake up so early, anyway?  I was my own boss.  I could certainly change those hours for myself and for Caroline, too.  Or maybe she could start at 8:30 and I could meander into the office an hour later.

 
But then I remembered Meadow.  School would not be out for another couple of months.  Since when had I been marking time this way?  Once upon a time I used to revel in each day and look forward to the moments with Meadow.  Or had I?

 
Maybe the secret in my life was how much I had always hated the obligations and the pretense.  Maybe I, too, wanted to be a slacker, or even run off to the city to experience life.  Perhaps I would like to find myself, too.  Enjoy decadent nights and love affairs.

 
Well, I had done that part, anyway.  That thing with Zach, who, by the way, hadn’t called me back.  I’d left the message for him days ago.  What was up with that?

 
Before I could allow myself to go there, though, I stumbled out of bed and into the shower.  I could already hear Meadow stirring in her room.  Sometimes she actually read or watched TV in there before she came to my room.  I enjoyed the time to begin the day without the pressure.

 
When had I started feeling stressed and pressured by my own daughter?

 
Guilt slid over my shoulders along with the shower spray.  It sluiced across my body and covered me like a thin skin of doubt and shame.  In moments like these, my mind traipsed along memory pathways again, and I was back there, plotting evil with Miranda Templeton.  And that had turned out very badly.

 

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