Good Morning, Friends
Here in the U.S., we are taking a break from the day-to-day busyness of our lives to stop and remember those who have lost their lives defending our country and its values. Many other countries honor their fallen similarly, from Remembrance Day in the U.K. and Canada to Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, and Yom Hazikaron in Israel.
Poppies are the floral symbol of Memorial Day, though not as ubiquitous as in the Commonwealth countries. The poppy tradition is based on this poem by Canadian Dr., Lt. Col. John McCrae, following the Battle of Ypres during World War I.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
new on the blog
For my fellow cast iron devotees out there; do you know which oils are best for seasoning and maintaining your workhorse cookware? Here’s a list of the best oils (and those you should avoid) and why.
from the knit studio
- If you would like to learn how to knit in the round, I’ve got you covered! This post shows how to knit in the round with circular needles and this post teaches how to knit in the round with double-pointed needles. Its good to know both methods.
- On a related note, I’m sharing my system for storing and organizing circular needles.
- Speaking of organization, have you nabbed the free printables for your Knit Journal and Organizer? (I’m working on a crochet version, too.)
- Need a pattern to practice those ‘in the round’ skills? This hat knits up quickly.
from the kitchen
- My cucumbers are coming on strong! Which means I’ll be putting up jars of these Crispy, Crunchy Dill Pickles before too long! Even if you don’t have a garden, you can buy picklers in your grocery store and make your own dill pickles to rival those you buy in the store. If I say so myself, the beauty of this recipe is that you can make pickles when your cukes are ready, jar-by-jar.
- We had mom over for dinner last night; a simple soup and salad kind of dinner (followed by a trip to the ice cream store!). We made this curry salad dressing to top a bed of spinach. It is so delicious and elevates any greens.
- Speaking of curry, marinate chicken breasts or thighs in this curry marinade for delicous grilled chicken.
- Use any leftover chicken you may have to make this curried chicken salad, which is perfect in wraps or on a bed of greens.
- More filling ideas for wraps, which make great picnic food!
from the craft room
- Make macrame votive holders using wire and beads! Aren’t they lovely?
in the garden
- Holy Crabgrass, Batman! Our vinegar weed killer formula is quite popular right now! This is our third year using this formula; I share what you need to make it work and what your expectations should be.
- Do you have your container gardens planted? If you are seeking inspiration and ‘recipes’, you’ve come to the right place. Here are all our container garden posts.
house + home
- How to safely clean vintage linens and lace.
- Easily organize and store table linens.
- If you spend any time in your kitchen, you need to nab this Measuring Equivalents Chart! Not only is it FREE, but it will save you so much time. I laminated mine and keep it tapped on the inside of one of my kitchen cabinets and refer to it multiple times a week.
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a few favorite find
- These BluApple Produce Savers absord the ethylene gas that produce naturally emits and which causes them to ripen quickly in a close space. By absorbing this ethylene gas, your produce can last 2-3 times longer!
- I’ve bookmarked these coin purses and glass cases for unique and charming gift ideas.
on my nightstand
At the end of every month, I share my ‘reviews’ of books I’ve read, as well as where I stand for the year. I’ve set a goal to read 33 books this year. Many of you have written that you enjoy and appreciate my ‘book reviews’ (if you can call them that!), but I always struggle with not giving too much away and am also cognizant that my likes are not everyone else’s likes.
I am doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. Last year I read thirty books, and this year upped it to thirty-three. So with that said, I’ve read nine thus far in 2023. Here is my quick and dirty review with one to five thumbs-up.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Wow, where to begin with this one? It’s a quick read, but it doesn’t feel quick. There is very little ‘feel good’ in the book, which is not a reason not to read it. McCarthy’s spare prose puts you right in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world, where, despite the suffocating hopelessness, a father and son still find hope. McCarthy does such a phenomenal job putting you in that world that one morning after I had read it the night before, I was slightly startled to hear birdsong.
- Howard’s End by E.M. Forster 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 On the other end of the prose spectrum, this was an at times humorous and at times somber satire of the social strata of early 20th century England. I had never watched the movie before and followed the book by watching the Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson movie. The movie takes very few liberties, following the book closely.
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 When I was describing this book to my mom, I read the first paragraph of the book jacket and remarked, “not sure why I choose to read something that sounds so depressing, but I’m glad I did.” It is a historical fiction based on the last beheading in Iceland in the early 19th century. Kent does a brilliant job with her prose of placing you in the stark and merciless world of Iceland at that time. We know how the story ends before it begins, but it is the way that the tale of our protagonist, Agnes, unravels that will keep you totally immersed in the book. It is a rare day that I take time during the middle of the day to sit down with a book, which I did with this one over the weekend. It is haunting, yet somehow lovely at the same time.
- Brain Maker by David Perlmutter 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 A little non-fiction intermission! I am interested in gut health and how it affects our entire body. If this area interests you too, you’ll find this book enlightening. The bottom line, we are what we eat.
- Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Oh my heavens, I am on a roll! I’m afraid to say that out loud for fear of jinxing myself, but this was another gorgeous book! This book is meant to be savored; it is not a page-turner. O’Farrell has an incredibly poetic way with words that creates lush and melodic prose. This is ostensibly the story of Shakespeare, his wife Agnes, and their young son, Hamnet, who died from the plague. I say, ‘ostensibly’ because while Shakespeare is never named, you know it is him. And it is less about Shakespeare and more about his wife, her interests, her passions, and their relationship before, during, and after the death of their only son. Once again, I enjoyed this book so much that I reserved several more of her books from the library.
- The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 There is no ‘half a thumbs up’ emoji…hence the .5. The only reason this is a 4.5 is that I don’t want to be too generous with the 5 thumbs to lose my credibility, and compared to Hamnet, it wasn’t quite as lovely. All that said, it is still a good book! Once again, not a page-turner but a slow unveiling of the relationship between two women of two different eras.
- The Good People by Hannah Kent 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼. Like her Burial Rites, this is based on true events. This time the story is set in early 19th century Ireland amongst a group of people struggling with poverty and a hardscrabble life. The belief in fairies (The Good People) figures heavily in this story, as does the conflict between that belief and the church. This ended completely differently than I expected and has I predicted last month! It is a sad story for all of the characters.
- I’m on a bit of a Maggie O’Farrell bent. I just really appreciate her writing, it is almost poetry. Her book, I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 is my least favorite, but I still enjoyed reading it. A bit of a biography and I appreciate the insight into her life.
- The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Maggie O’Farrell is the story of two women of different generations who are related, but did not know it. The younger character takes in the elder and uncovers her heartbreaking past. The story does go back and forth in time, which didn’t bother me at all. O’Farrell does such a great job making you really care for her characters.
- This Must Be the Place 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 by Maggie O’Farrell. Clearly I am still on my Maggie O’Farrell binge! This was another gorgeous book. At it’s core, it is about love, in all of its forms and variations. I struggled a bit with the back and forth in time and place, but she did bring it together. The story revolves around Daniel and Claudette, their marriage, their past marriages, their children and their past history that has brough them to their inflection point.
- A Ghost in the Throat 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. This was a recommendation by one of our readers and I am so thankful for it! It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll give it a go. It’s a bit of an autobiography by a young mother, also a published poet, who is fascinated (maybe a bit obsessed) by a famous poem written in the 18th century by another young Irish mother, Eileen O’Leary. The author, Doireann, traces the truth behind poem and the poem’s author, which centers on the murder of Art O’Leary. She hooks you with her opening line, “When we first met, I was a child, and she had been dead for centuries.“
- The City of Thieves 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼.5 by David Benioff. I loved everything about this book which was recommended to me by my brother! It is the story of Benioff’s grandfather, a Russian teenager during the siege of Leningrad and another young Russian soldier he meets in jail. Not to be cliche, but it will, in turn, make you giggle and make you cry. You witness the atrocities of the war at the same time you witness the evolving friendship between these two young men. The two main characters are immensely likable and have stayed with me even after finishing the book.
- The Marriage Portrait 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 by Maggie O’Farrell is the story of Lucrezia de Medici who was married at age of 13 to the Duke of Ferrara, 11 years her senior. Sadly, Lucrezia dies one year later under suspicious circumstances. What we know about this event is minimal, so O’Farrell adds much flesh to the bare bones. I’ve said that I am entralled by her style of writing, which remains true in this book.
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 This was a project and hard to summarize in a few sentences. On its surface, it is the story of two cousins in NYC at the beginning of World War II. Between the two of them, they create comic book heroes that tackle the injustices being inflicted on the innocents in Europe. But this story is much more than that; it is the story of one of the young men worrying about his Jewish family that he left behind in Czechoslovakia. Not only does he worry, but he feels immense guilt that he escaped and attempts to use his earning from the comic books to bring his younger brother to safety. It is the story of the other young man coming to grips with his sexuality. Chabon weaves non-ficton into his fiction, featuring Salvador Dali and Orson Welles in vignettes and has a beautiful way with words; having a dictionary handy may be useful! I’ve truly just scratched the surface of the book, which mostly moved along quickly, though I did feel it lagged in a few spots.
- I’ve just started, I am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes. I’m not sure it will remain on my nightstand for much longer, I’m having a hard time getting into it. But I’ll give it a few more days.
Well friends, I hope you enjoy a wonderful day, wherever you are! Wishing for you a day filled whatever it is that your heart and soul needs today!