28 July 2023

Christmas in July, Week 4 - The Last One!


Hello! Well, it's the last week of Christmas in July for 2023, which is kind of sad, because I do enjoy this. But like Christmas Day itself, it doesn't last forever, right?

Anyway, this week is something a little bit different - leaving a comment will enter you into the giveaway for this prize:

OK this was a stock photo, you will not actually receive a box that looks like this, in the interest of full disclosure. 😂 

BUT, it gets the point across - this week's prize is a mystery. I always like to end the month with a mystery, you know, kind of like a grand finale. I can guarantee you that it is knitting-related, and that there will be more than one thing in the package. But otherwise, my lips are sealed. 

And what do you need to do in order to be entered into the giveaway? Well, I thought about all kinds of different questions to ask, but decided to go with something that relates to the box above:

What is/was one of the best surprises in your life?

Please comment on this post ONLY, by midnight EDT on Tuesday, August 1 (YIKES, July will be over!); I'll announce the winner the next day. 

My answer harks back to one day when I was in the fifth grade. I came home from work, and my mom was already home, which was odd since she was usually at work until 4:30. But anyway, she was home and when I asked why, she said, "Well, I took a half day of vacation today, because I had to pick something up for you. It's in the kitchen." And I went into the kitchen, and there was a PUPPY!!!! It took me a while to even be surprised, since I didn't actually believe what I was seeing. He was about 8 weeks old, and we named him Toby. A friend of my mother's had a dog who'd had puppies, and she had decided to get one for me, because unlike my sisters, she knew I was responsible and would actually walk him and feed him. He wasn't a tiny puppy but oh he was wiggly and sweet. He was a poodle-Airedale mix, and just such a great doggie! My sisters and the cat were disgusted, because he was "drooly" (my sisters), and a dog (the cat). Oh how he loved the cat - we decided as time went on that he thought she was his mother. My dad's only comment was, "Look at those feet - he's gonna be big." But within a few weeks he was just one of the family. We had him for six years before he was stolen right out of our backyard (he was really friendly, and would happily go with anyone). I even saw him once and yelled his name, and he was so excited to see me, but his new owner came over, grabbed him, put him in the car and drove away. (I have no idea if it was the person who took him, or if someone took him and gave him to someone else.). So, yeah, the ending of Toby's story with us is not happy, but he will always be one of the best surprises ever for me. And I hope he lived a happy life wherever he ended up. ❤

This morning I got all of my chores done really early, since I knew it was going to be a miserably hot day. I'm glad for once what I thought I would do and what I actually did were one and the same! So now I'm hoping to finish the actual knitting part of my Stripey Summer Sweater, saving the weaving in of ends and blocking for another time. But getting the knitting finished while it's still July would please me.

Other than that, I am on the foot of one of the socks I'm knitting, and it's time to add a third project - I think I'll start one of the holiday gifts I want to knit. Since tomorrow is going to be another stay-inside-or-you-might-die day, I think I'll probably get a good amount of knitting done this weekend. 

Now it's time to go and take a look to see what I can fix later for dinner that will not require a lot of kitchen time or turning on the oven. Then the rest of the day is MINE!

Have a good weekend and take care to stay safe. See you next week!

26 July 2023

Christmas in July Week 3 Winner!


Wait, what? Why is there a fall photo in the post announcing the winner for Week 3 of Christmas in July???

Because, the winner is:


You may or may not recall the question, which was:

Pretend there are no holidays at all (THE HORROR!), and you get to create one. Here's what I want to know:

1. What would it be called?
2. When would be?
3. What would be the 'official' way it would be celebrated?
4. What food(s) and/or traditions would be associated with it?

Dee's holiday was all about Fall:

My holiday would be Peak Day (or Peek Day if you prefer).

1. The date would vary depending where fall leaves are at peak for your area.

2. You would have a lovely chili supper with plenty of sour cream and cheese. There would be a salad made with fresh greens, roasted beets and sweet potato with a topping of goat cheese and white balsamic dressing. You would have leaf shaped, frosted butter cookies.

3. It would be required that you go outside at golden hour (which would also vary depending on where you lived) and observe the beauty of fall.

That's my holiday and even if it isn't real (yet), I intend to observe it this year, hopefully by a river.

I don't know about you, but I think this sounds like a pretty darn perfect way to spend a perfect fall day, I would be completely on board with this. Dee, as with some others, I know I had your address before my computer issues, but I don't have it now, so please send it along when you have the chance (I know you know my e-mail address, since we are always back-and-forthing). Congratulations!

I really loved all of your holiday ideas, and think perhaps our group should be in charge of decreeing any additional holidays ever under consideration; in lieu of that, what the heck, let's start observing them ourselves, anyway! Who's with me??

Stay tuned for this Friday, which will be the grand finale for this year, so to speak. I want to make sure that the prize is an especially good one, and that I come up with a good question. 😊


And now, allow me to regale you with a tale of the knitter who worried she would run out of yarn. Sigh.

You may recall that I was zooming right along on my Stripey Summer Top. Well, when I started out, I already one of the yarns because it had been in my stash for umpteen years, and I finally decided this was what I would use it to make. Said yarn was already wound into cakes, so it was ready to go.

It took me a ridiculously long time to decide what other yarn and/or color I would use, and I finally decided. I bought two skeins since I knew that is what it would take. But I only wound one skein into a cake and put the other away. Because at the time, that seemed the reasonable thing to do. (??)

So in my project bag, I had two skeins of the one yarn, and one skein of the other. And I was knitting, knitting, knitting, and time went by, which means my brain moved on to other things happening, and all of a sudden, I was nearing the end of the cakes of yarn I was using. Of course, one cake was already there in the bag, wound up and ready to continue.

But, I kept wondering how I had already gone through both skeins of the other yarn I had purchased, and still needed some for the top? I thought to myself in the most annoyed way possible, "$%#%^ - the pattern acted like I'd only need two of the other color, and now I'll need three!" So I special ordered another skein at work, but knew it would be a while before it arrived. So I did as much as I could and then had to stop because I was out of the one yarn, at least temporarily.

I'm sure you are way ahead of me here. The other day, I was getting something out of one of the cubbies of yarn I have, and VOILA! - there was the second skein I had purchased but never wound. I had in fact purchased enough yarn, I had only would one of the skeins ... but since I had two of the others, my brain apparently decided I must had wound both of the purchased yarn and used them up. Dumb**s. 

Now, if six months had elapsed since I had started, I would think, Oh well, it's taken so long, no wonder I forgot. But *maybe* six weeks had elapsed

Now, as yarn/knitting tragedies go, this is not one. It's more stupid and annoying than tragic. I wound the second skein, and when the special ordered one comes in, I can either bring it home to use for portions of socks, or return it for a store credit. So no harm done, really.

But I may have actually finished knitting the top by now, if I'd only remembered that I'd only wound the one skein out of two. 

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas, right?

That's it for now, I've got some knitting to do ... 

21 July 2023

In Which I Am Clearly Confused; And, A Friday Funny

As you may have noticed, the post for Week 3 of Christmas in July went up yesterday instead of today, when it was supposed to happen. Whoops! Not that it's a problem, since it just gives anyone interested an extra day to enter the giveaway, but it is just another case of me confusing the days of the week.

When I originally started my part-time job, the days I worked were Sunday and Tuesday. Then Wednesday was added, and that was easy enough to keep track of, since it was just an add-on after my regular days.

Then last month, my schedule was changed again - now I work on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Which is nice because then I get four days off in a row. BUT, I'm still not there in my brain. So every Wednesday, I think it's Thursday, and every Thursday, I think it's Friday. Inevitably, at some point on each of those days, I'll remember that I'm just getting things confused, but clearly it's gonna take a bit longer until it "sticks" in my brain and I am clear on what day of the week is actually happening. 😉

What can I say, I'm a creature of habit!

Anyway, it gives me a chance to share this cartoon that I saw the other day. I really like it, but I have to admit that it took me a minute to "get" it. Enjoy, and remember if you want to enter the giveaway, it's on yesterday's post.

20 July 2023

Christmas in July, Week 3

Here we are in Week 3 already of Christmas in July!

This week I have a challenge for you as the question:

Pretend there are no holidays at all (THE HORROR!), and you get to create one. Here's what I want to know:

1. What would it be called?
2. When would be?
3. What would be the 'official' way it would be celebrated?
4. What food(s) and/or traditions would be associated with it?

This week, the prize is this one:

This really lovely project bag (or I guess you could use it as a purse, but whatever), and a pair of needle gauge earrings from Katrinkles.

The bag is very nice - it has a bottom that can make it stand up, and there is a lining you can bring out with a drawstring closure if you have it really packed with goodies.

Please comment on this post ONLY, by midnight EDT on Tuesday, July 25; I'll announce the winner the next day. 

This is my answer, in case you were wondering, or even if you weren't, because hey, my blog, my rules!

The holiday I would create would be for my birthday which is in March. The actual day of my birthday, March 14, would be in the middle - so the holiday would encompass March 13, 14, and 15, and businesses, schools, etc. would be required to be closed so people could enjoy it. With a three-day holiday, people can enjoy the day before, the day of, and the day after! I would call it  Marchtime.

It would be celebrated by allowing everyone to have at least one shelter pet come and live with them,*; and on the main day of the holiday (March 14), anyone and everyone who didn't have enough food would go to a church, recreation center, etc., and receive a voucher for one year's worth of food from anyplace they like - if they want to spend it all on junk food at McDonald's or someplace, fine; if they would rather spend it on buying groceries, also fine. It's their voucher, no one else can decide what they should do with it. But it is only good for that year, so they can't be hoarded. 

The main food associated with the holiday would be chocolate in any form - candy, cookies, cake, beverages, etc.  Not to say others couldn't have things their own way - I know everyone doesn't like chocolate (I know it but I don't get it), but that would be the original tradition. Also, on the main day - the 14th - the holiday dinner would always include mashed potatoes.

So there you are. I'm sure I could/would make many adjustments to this given more time and more thought, but I know I at least would enjoy this! 😃

I'll be curious to hear your responses!

*People who don't like animals would not be included in this practice; people who are allergic, etc. would be exempt from having a shelter pet live with them, but people who don't like animals would probably not want to observe this holiday anyway. They could be the ones who had to go to work instead ...

The weekend is upon us - we have no specific plans, as far as I know, but the weather is actually supposed to be somewhat agreeable, so I know for sure that I'll take a walk at some point to actually enjoy being outside. Most of my family is gathering in NYC this weekend, and I'm sad to miss it, but I couldn't find someone to take my shift on Sunday at work. Maybe just as well - staying home will definitely be cheaper, LOL!

I hope you have a good weekend and hopefully a break if you are also somewhere with extreme weather. 

19 July 2023

Week 2 Winner!

OK, if I had really given thought to the question I posted last week for the giveaway, I would have realized that unless all of you answered "liver and onions," the foods you chose would make me feel hungry! 

The question was:

What is your favorite holiday food?

Not necessarily for Christmas, but for any holiday throughout the year.

So many wonderful answers, and stories that came along with them, and I was sometimes surprised (Dee, I've never heard of Strawberry Pretzel Salad), and/or further intrigued (Valerie, do you know I've never ever had Mince Meat Pie?). Fortunately, choosing a winner wasn't up to me, because I only had one prize and I liked all of the responses. 😊

Once again, though I was able to tell the random number generator to choose, and so I am here to tell you that the winner for Week 2 of Christmas in July is:

🎉🎈Meredith MC!!!

Which seemed particularly appropriate to me, since one of the things in the giveaway is something she has apparently wanted to have:

My favorite holiday food is Christmas cookies. Not the eating of them, but making them. They remind me of my mom, and the best parts of being a kid.
I’ve always coveted one of those wrist rulers. It seems like such a knitting meets punk rock type of accessory.
I hope you’re staying cool!

Congratulations, Meredith! Please send an e-mail to baclancyATverizonDOTnet with you full name and mailing address, and I'll get the package ready to send.

Thanks everyone for participating, I'm glad at least some of you think this is as much fun as I do. 


How has your week been? Mine has not been awful, but it could also have been a lot better too. So, I'm gonna say it's been fine, but uninspiring. Plus, my throat has felt scratchy all week, which is just annoying. Oh dear, my life is such a trial, isn't it???😝

Since I finished my market bag and am so close to finishing my stripey summer top, I've been trying to decide - well, at least narrow down - what to start next. I considered starting another summer top, but then again, given my slow progress on garments, I thought it might be good to start on something that could be worn in the fall, since I don't have a ton of transitional things. Also, I want to get started on a couple of things I know I want to make for gifts for the holiday season. I think I'll work on Tim's socks and my stripey top, and then once the top is really and truly finished, see what I want to do. Who knows, there may be something shiny and new that will distract me from everything else ... OK, I kinda hope there isn't. I already have too many things in my brain that want to be next!

Anyway, that's it for today. I hope all of you are doing well. Meredith MC, I'm looking forward to hearing from you, and for everyone, our next giveaway will show up this coming Friday, so stay tuned!

14 July 2023

A Monday FO Post

I've never been a fast knitter, and this year - especially this summer - I've gotten even less knitting done. Partly because of the weather, partly because on the days that I work at the yarn store, I knit for part of the day there, and depending on what I'm knitting there or what I'm knitting at home, too much knitting can cause my hands to hurt. 

But nonetheless, I have my projects going, and I can finally announce an FO!

You may remember that in June, I showed you the beginnings of a market bag I was making:

(The bottom with a bit of the sides going)

(A little bit more of the sides knit)

Project: Splashy Ilene
Pattern: Ilene, by Hannah Mason (free on Ravelry)
Yarn: Berocco Splash, in the Key West colorway (I used 2 full skeins and a small amount of a third)
Needles: US sizes 4 and 6
Notes: This is a very straightforward, easy pattern. It's also very forgiving - as in, if you mess up the count on one round, you can fudge/fix it in the next round and there is no real way to tell as you continue.

The hardest part of all of it is the picking up the stitches once you have knit the bottom. But to a certain extent, that can be fudged as well to get the right count after one or two rows.

I decided to make this because I wanted to try the yarn. But the skeins don't have a lot of yardage, so making a top or something would have been prohibitively expensive for me, even considering that I get an employee discount. So I thought I'd try this, since I knew it would be something I could still use.

Modifications: The pattern calls for you to do the pattern repeat until you have 50 rows of the mesh; I kept going until I had 72 rows. And the pattern is written for a certain yarn, so when you are doing the handle, it says to knit until you have approximately 36 inches of yarn left, and then do the three-needle bind off. I just knit the handle until I had 17 inches, and then did the bindoff, and it rests comfortably on my shoulder without being right up into my armpit.

You can cram a lot into this bag - the mesh makes it very stretchy! 

If you have some cotton, linen, whatever kind of plant-based yarn and am wondering what to do with it, this is a good project. At least here in Philadelphia, plastic bags are longer allowed to be given out in stores, and most places charge a fee for a paper bag. So you need to remember to bring your own bag along with you. This bag is very lightweight, and could easily be balled up and put into your pocket or into a purse. Win-win!


Don't forget - to enter the giveaway for Week 2 of Christmas in July, leave a comment on this post by midnight tomorrow! And read the comments even if you don't comment yourself or enter the giveaway - so many interesting foods and dishes. Plus a taste of the New Zealand-Australia rivalry as a bonus! 😊

I hope this week is a good one for you. Sounds like our area is staying in the horrible heat, though I know other areas of the country are suffering even more. So take care, everyone and keep safe!

P.S. We might all need to start buying these shirts!

Christmas in July, Week 2

Hello - here was are again, in the second week of this year's Christmas in July! I had so much fun reading everyone's responses last week, and choosing a winner, so let's see what we can do this time around. 😊

The prizes for this week are below.

First up, a gray leather wrist ruler. (Sorry I didnt' get a better photo!).  I received this in a goody bag, and am unlikely to ever use it myself, so I thought I'd share the wealth.

Next, a cotton project bag, with sheep, flowers, and polka dot handles. It has enough room inside for a shawl project, or even a small sweather's worth of yarn, and zippers along the top.

Here is your question:

What is your favorite holiday food? 

Not necessarily for Christmas, but for any holiday throughout the year. 

This was a hard one for me, because I have so many favorites, but I have decided if I absolutely had to choose just one (and I hope I never do!), it would be stuffing at Thanksgiving. Yes, we could make stuffing at any time of the year, but we don't. And it has always been one of my favorite foods, to make, to eat, and to enjoy smelling as it's prepared.

Please comment on this post ONLY, by midnight EDT on Tuesday, July 18; I'll announce the winner the next day. 

I have a feeling that reading your responses are going to make me hungry ...


Ugh, this week has been problematic the whole time, what's up with that? I had so much planned to do and to accomplish on my days off, and that all got thrown out the window almost right away. So annoying. I keep telling myself that next week is another week, but you know how it is - you get a plan in your brain and you're ready to go and then NOPE.

Anyway, have a good weekend, hopefully doing what you would like to do and/or have planned to do without any problems. We have no specific plans, and at least as of today, it's supposed to be kind of rainy, so we'll see what works and what doesn't. Take care, and enjoy!

12 July 2023

We Have a Winner!

Thanks to everyone who responded for the Christmas in July giveaway! I so enjoyed reading all of the comments, it was fun to see what everyone had to say. Sometimes you read something, and think to yourself, "Well, OK that's true," because you just never thought about it that way. 

The random number generator has been consulted, and the winner for the first week is:


I think that makes it extra fun, because Alison lives in the Southern Hemisphere, and as you recall, I said I knew nothing about what the summer months would be there. But now I know, and I so enjoyed her response.

Living in New Zealand our summer is December January February. December is too busy with end of year parties, the rush to Christmas etc. Then comes January….we all heave a collective sigh of relief that “It” is all over, the weather settles into balmy long days, people flock to the lakes and beaches, the laughter of kids on trampolines wafts through the air in the early evenings, and we just enjoy chilling out. There is no rush to do anything, the gardens are having their mid summer break from growing so are content with a splash of water now and then. The days stretch out and with a huge amount of.folks on annual leave there is a calm happy buzz in the air. It is languid and oh so peaceful. Then comes February, school is back in with all the costs of supplies, uniforms, fees etc, the Christmas credit card bills have arrived, there seems to be a gritty look on people’s faces, and it gets HOT.

Alison, I know I had your address previously, but since then my computer has died several times, and the backup files were corrupted (Oh technology!). So, if you could send your full name and address again to baclancyATverizonDOTnet, that would be most excellent. 

And guess where I'm saving addresses now? In a PAPER address book. So suck it, AI!


In other news, I am making slow but steady progress on my summer stripey sweater. I'm nearly through the body, and then only have the short sleeves and neckline to complete.

I stalled on this for about two weeks, but since technically I have until the last day of summer to call it a summer sweater, I think I'll make it. 😊

And I'm on the strap of my market bag, which is currently impossible to photograph, so you'll just need to take my word for it. 

Today is one of my non-work days, and I plan to knit and read most of the day. I am incredibly tired, I think because of the heat, and so today I have decided to make it a true day off and save laundry, etc. for tomorrow and Friday. I need to take a walk to the market for some milk, and water the flowers, but otherwise, I'm staying inside - even the health department said to avoid going out!

Wherever you are, and however your weather is, take care. Things seem so extreme everywhere around the globe, it seems like we all need to pay more attention than usual to the weather reports. (Me, at least once a week to The Tim: "Why couldn't I have lived during the Ice Age??")

10 July 2023

On This Day ...

OK, if you know me at all, you know I love learning little facts, or being reminded of historical events, etc. So I was taking a look at "This Day In History," and came across this:

Telstar 1 launched

Telstar 1, the first communications satellite to transmit live television signals and telephone conversations across the Atlantic Ocean, was launched this day in 1962, inaugurating a new age in electronic communications.

You do realize, 1962 was only 61 years ago? In our everyday lives, it seems like these devices we use have been around for so long, and sometimes it's hard to think about life before they existed.

I'm six years older than Telstar 1's launch. 😂


Don't forget to comment on this post by midnight tomorrow (Tuesday) if you want to be in the giveaway for the first week of Christmas in July!  

Have a good Monday and rest of the week. My goal for the week is to try my best not to completely melt ...

07 July 2023

IT'S BACK! Christmas in July, Week 1

Hello! I didn't mean to be gone all week, but nonetheless I'm here right now, to tell you that Christmas in July is back! Last year at this time, I had Covid and could barely function much less post to my blog and/or run a giveaway. So it all got skipped - but now it's back, baby!

If you are not familiar with this, I will ask a question for anyone interested in receiving the giveaway of the week. Then I use a random number generator to choose a winner, and notify them and then we go to the next week. So this week, these posts will be up today, then also on July 14, 21, and 28.

The "contest" such as it is, is available to  anyone interested, regardless of where they live. I have a little fund of cash that I keep all year long (random change from things, cash from my own yarny-related purchases where I didn't use all of it, etc.), so I'm happy to send packages anyplace.

OK, so let's get going, shall we?

This week's prize is this group of items:

There's a really sweet winter-y project bag, probably large enough for some socks or a small shawl; a set of US5/3.75mm wooden Lantern Moon double pointed needles in a little bag (I know, hard to see, sorry!); and a really wonderful book that I want to pass along. I received it in a little care package from Kym a while back, and it's a collection of little sayings, stories, etc. that keep you feeling upbeat and hopeful without being sappy. I decided that it would be only fair to share the joy.

So how can you win this set of prizes? Well, here's your question for the week:

June, July, or August?

Those are generally considered the summer months in the northern hemisphere (where I live). I want to know - which one is your favorite and why? Should you be someone living in the southern hemisphere, please answer using the months are considered summer months where you are (note I am not 100% sure so I'm not committing ...).

Please comment on this post only, by midnight EDT on Tuesday, July 11; I'll announce the winner the next day. 

For me, I did love June this year because it was actually still spring-like weather; but in general, I have to choose August. Not because I love what can be the hottest time of the summer, but because I know that when August ends, September begins, and we start moving into fall - meaning cooler temperatures and cozier weather overall. 

Now it's your turn. 😊


I hope you have a good weekend. I have no specific plans, but I'm looking forward to it because The Tim will be off work, and I enjoy it when we can all be together, even if he mostly naps and I end up on my own anyway! We had a quiet July 4th, since he was working, but I felt inspired and made a yummy picnic dinner, if I do say so myself. Some dumb*ss in our neighborhood thought it would be a good idea to shoot off fireworks all day and evening on July 5th, so I guess their celebration continued, whereas everyone else was really annoyed. Other people, right?

Take care, and if you are anyplace where it's too hot, I hope you can stay cool. It's pretty deadly here - hot, humid, and really hard to breathe. Summer has decided to arrive in style ... 

See you next week!

03 July 2023

Book Report - April, May, June

Hello everyone! Here are the things I read during April, May, and June of this year. I had spells when *all* I did was read, and then others where I'd be a week between books because I couldn't decide.

But here you go, in no particular order.

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, by Lori Gottlieb. This was an interesting and well-done book, in my opinion. 

Lori Gottlieb is an therapist herself. But when her boyfriend - who was making plans to get married with her - informs her that he doesn't see himself as someone who has to be a parent for 10 more years (her son is eight years old) - her world is turned upside down. And guess what? She turns into someone who needs a therapist to work through it! 

The book works because she tells the story of not just her own experience as a client of a therapist, but her work as a therapist, using "case studies" of some of her own clients. (No real names, etc. used - she is a professional.) As a result, we get an idea of what therapists actually do, and the careful road they need to follow in order to help people with intimate life problems, while also managing to keep a professional and clinical distance. But she also shares how she behaved much like her own clients when visiting with her therapist, Wendell, who is unlike any of the other colleagues she is used to being around. 

I liked this book because it was honest, sometimes funny, and showed how therapy is designed to actually help people, but not solve all of their problems. More it is to bring people to realization of their own behavior and how changing or adjusting it can make a difference. But it not only guides people to help, it gives them tools to make it work.

Gottlieb is not unwilling to admit that she was often a difficult person for her therapist to deal with, and that there were plenty of times she had unrealistic - and somewhat immature - expectations of what he could/would do for her. The inclusion of herself as a recipient of therapy makes the book both more readable, and more relatable.

Eggsecutive Orders, by Julie Hyzy. This was an interesting and entertaining Easter mystery. Olivia Paras, the Executive Chef at the White House, is excited for two reasons: her mother and grandmother are coming to visit her in DC from Chicago, and the White House Easter Egg Roll is coming up. But her plans are interrupted when an NSA official dies after eating at the White House. Olivia and her staff are sent home when it is suspected that it someone in the kitchen was involved.  

As Olivia tries to both get her staff back in the kitchen and entertain her guests,  she also tries to figure out what could have happened.  

This was entertaining to me because I have some personal experience with what it's like to work in the government at higher levels, and also because I recognized a lot of the locations.  I completely got it wrong trying to determine the killer, as usual, and there were some funny moments as well.

The Group, by Mary McCarthy. Oh boy, I can certainly understand why this book was considered so shocking when it was first published!

The story follows a group of women who were friends and/or roommates who graduated from Vassar in 1933. Mostly from well-to-do, "respectable" families, they have ideas of who they want to be, what they want to do with their lives, and how the world should be. There are of course, the marriages to young men who have good families and bright prospects, but there is also gender politics, premarital sex, socialism, Communism, lesbianism. And of course at the time of publication, these were not things that were a) discussed much, if at all, in polite society, and b) certainly not things that "good" girls with good educations thought about, much less participated in! (As far as most of society was concerned.)

Reading it now, it's actually kind of quaint but also sad. Women - at least on paper - have so much more in life to expect, do, and be now than what was considered acceptable back then. But some things have not really changed, maybe they are just more subtle in presentation. 

I'm glad I read this book, having heard about it for most of my life, and knowing it was a cultural and literary touchstone.

The Foundling, by Ann Leary. This book was inspired when the author learned that her grandmother had been a secretary at the kind of institution in the book. 

Mary Engle is excited when she is hired to work as a stenographer at a women's institution in rural Pennsylvania. Spending her early years in a Catholic orphanage before her father took her to live with an aunt,uncle, and cousin in Scranton. The Nettleton Home is advertised as a safe haven for "feeble-minded women of childbearing age." From what the public sees, it's a place that rescues women who have made mistakes due to hereditary factors. Once the women are past childbearing age, they can be released,  since they can no longer pass on their bad genes to pollute society.

Yes, the institution is all about eugenics. 

At first, Mary thinks she has landed in a perfect place with a perfect job; until she meets Lillian Kraus, one of the inmates who was also at the orphanage with her as a child, and who she recalls as being smart and quick-witted. 

The longer Mary works for the institution's director, the more she thinks something might be wrong. When she realizes others have doubts, she decides go try and help Lillian.

A story about eugenics, social pressure, muckraking, corruption, and the Prohibition, based on the author's research on the time and place where her grandmother had been employed.

An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, by Helene Tursten. Maud is a woman in her late 80s who lives by herself in a rent-free  apartment (part of a family inheritance) in a lovely part of the city. The other tenants in her building know her, but she mostly keeps to herself. Others think her a quiet, perhaps doddering old woman.

In this book of five stories, Maud faces several different dilemmas. But we immediately learn that when Maud comes across someone she thinks or knows will give her trouble she ... deals with them. As in, killing them. And because she's an old lady, people seldom suspect her at all.

These stories were really entertaining. Maud is quite the character - she does not suffer fools gladly, and is completely unapologetic about all of it. I loved these stories, they were amusing for all the wrong reasons.

The Librarian of Burned Books, by Brianna Labuskes. I really wanted to like this book, but several chapters in, I'm just not interested.  So at least for now, it's a did-not-finish.

Apples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty. This one was a disappointment to me. Usually Moriarity gives us a compelling story with a twist that surprises at the end. This one just didn't seem to land that way for me.

Joy and Stan Delaney have sold their tennis academy and are retired after years of success in the tennis world. Their four adult children are out on their own and though they are a close family, everyone is surprised when Joy just completely disappears. As time goes by and they hear nothing, it looks more and more like Stan may have killed her - but is that even possible?

And what about the young woman who appeared out of nowhere months before and was taken in by Joy and Stan? Where is she and what is her story?

I was expecting more from this book.

Buried In A Book, by Lucy Arlington. When Lila Wilkins is let go from her job as a journalist, she worries that finding a job at 45 years old will be impossible. When she applies for a job at Novel Idea,a literary agency, she is pleasantly surprised to get it, and decides she will work extra hard to become a full-fledged literary agent. 

But when a homeless man dies in the reception area on her first day, and a coworker suspects it was murder, Lila begins to try and piece things together. Then she receives some threatening letters,and things get pretty intense. Is she the next victim? 

This was interesting and a good start to a series.  I'll definitely read the second book to see how things continue.

Every Trick In The Book, by Lucy Arlington. I don't usually read series books right after the other, but this was available at the library,  so here we are.

Lila Wilkins us now a full-fledged literary agent at Novel Idea, with her dream house and feeling pretty lucky and content.  She has been working extra hard for the inaugural literary festival, and is looking forward to it. 

But when a Lila is nearly attacked by a threatening man attending the festival, things take a downward turn. And when a visiting agent is murdered, Lila is convinced the same person is responsible. 

I have to say that I thought this was another good story, with multiple layers. The secondary characters are interesting enough that you pay attention,  and though this is basically a cozy mystery,  a lot of the story is more "regular" than in some cozies. not worry though, there is still a lot that requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief!

Crowned and Moldering, by Kate Carlisle. Shannon Hammer and her crew are getting ready to start working to renovate the Lighthouse Mansion, now that the Historical Society has given their approval.  When they go on location with the new owner, a mystery writer who is also Shannon's possible boyfriend, they discover bones which prove to be a human skeleton. 

Worse yet,the skeleton turns out to be that of Lily Brogan, a popular and well-liked girl who went to school with Shannon, and was the sister of one of Shannon's crew. Lily disappeared suddenly, and the police at the time assumed she had run away to get far away from her abusive father.

As the investigation goes on, more and more suspects emerge, and Shannon learns some learns some secrets about quite a few of her friends and acquaintances.

I enjoyed this read.

The Cracked Spine, by Paige Shelton. This was a book I'd put into the category of fine. Not really good, not really bad, just fine.

Delaney Nichols uproots herself from her home in Wichita,Kansas after she is a victim of spending cuts at the museum where she had been working. She accepts a position at The Cracked Spine, a bookshop in Edinburgh, Scotland. Besides adjusting to a whole new place and co-workers, she also tries to figure out her new boss. And when his sister is murdered, things just get weird.

Like I said, this book was a decent read, and I could see things picking up as the series goes along. I did like the premise, it was just hard to feel a lot for the characters right away.

Vera Wong's Unsolicitied Advice For Murderers, by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Vera Wong owns a tea shop in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, where she has one regular customer and fond memories of running the shop with her husband the years. Her son is grown with his own life and career, and seems to ignore all of his mother's advice, much to her annoyance. 

But life takes on a whole new angle when Vera comes downstairs to her shop one morning and finds a body. When the police seem to not do their job properly (which of course Vera knows, being a fan of detective shows and CSI), she decides to take matters into her hands and solve the murder. 

Vera is great. She does her thing, confident in the knowledge that her way is the right way. People get really frustrated with her antics, but end up doing her bidding. The way she collects suspects and is able to change their lives for the better is a really fun read.

This book kept me reading,  wondering, and entertained.  The characters are a good mix, and even those of us who do not have Asian mothers know someone like her. I highly recommend this book for a fun and engaging visit to Vera's world.

Five Tuesdays in Winter, by Lily King. A really nice selection of ten short stories, all different. I have to say that the first and the title stories were my favorites.

The Tobacco Wives, by Adele Myers. When Maddie Sykes' mother drops her off at her Aunt Etta's and leaves to find a man to love, Maddie has no idea what is ahead for her. Before her father was killed in World War II,  Maddie used to spend a month every summer with her aunt in Bright Leaf, NC. Etta is a seamstress, well-respected and the go-to person for the Tobacco Wives - the wives of the tobacco company bosses, who are the social leaders in Bright Leaf. Maddie loves her time with Aunt Etta who has taught her all she knows about sewing and design.

But in 1946, when Aunt Etta gets the measles right before her busiest time of year- The Gala - it falls to Maddie to take care of all of the work involved. At fifteen years old, Maddie isnotsureshecan handle it. Arrangements are made for her to stay with the Winston's- considered the top of the social ladder. Mrs. Winston - Mitzi - is thrilled to have Maddie stay with them, and even creates a sewing studio where she can work. Mr. Winston is the head of the tobacco company. 

When Maddie inadvertently comes across documents detailing the negative effects of tobacco on human health, she realizes that Mr. Winston, with the assistance of the town doctor, plan to ignore this information and promote smoking. She has to decide what to do, considering the ripple effects it could have on the town, and most importantly on her family.

This was a good book and a great story. I gave it only 3 stars because the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that something was missing. I'm still not sure what, but I couldn't feel like the story was whole.

Here's To Us, by Elin Hilderbrand. I have this feeling that every summer I should read a book by Elin Hilderbrand; I'm not sure why, but such is my life. 

This book takes us to a few days when Chef Deacon Thorpe's family members come to the beach house on Nantucket Island to scatter his ashes. Deacon was a larger than life figure, married and divorced three times with three children - one with each wife.  He was among the first of the TV celebrity chefs. Sparks fly, since most of them never spend time together,  nor do they wish to. 

Thebook is interesting,  since the characters are being forced to be together at a time when there are very heightened emotions, znd they are receiving bad news besides Deacon's death. 

I've enjoyed other books by this author more, but thus one was still very readable.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, by Sangu Mandanna. Mika Moon is a young witch living in England. She never knew her parents who died in India when she was young. She was brought to England and raised by an older witch named Primrose. Well, Primrose was her legal guardian, but governesses,tutors, and nannies raised her. And so Mikahas never felt that she fit in anywhere.

When she sees an ad looking for a tutor to three young witches, she decides to take the chance,  and ends up at Nowhere House,with her three young charges and an assortment of other interesting characters who live and work there.

Mika finally starts to feel like she belongs somewhere when she learns something that throws everything into doubt. So she needs to decide if it's worth taking a chance or if she should leave again.

This is a lovely story about making your own family, as well as understanding how those who cared for you in the past may have been trying their best. I enjoyed mostly everything about this book.

This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett. This is a group of short stories, most/all previously published. But they are lovely altogether,  and there a a couple that will stay with me for a while, I'm sure.

Well worth reading.

The Stone Circle, by Elly Griffiths. When a recent set of bones are found at an archeological dig where ancient young bones are found, it seems mysterious. When both Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson both receive cryptic notes resembling ones that arrived in the first case they worked together, how can it be a coincidence?

This is a pretty good installment in this series,though I think I'm beginning to find some of the other characters more interesting to read about than the main characters.


So there you go. Let me know what you've been reading these days, I love suggestions of things I may just not know about.