My Favorite Things

Letters ... as a Genre, and Other Things

Small letter mo

Here we are, mid-month in the Month of Letters challenge.  I'm keeping up . . . sending out cards and little notes every day so far.  And although I'm not really writing any letters this month (I'm more apt to do the quick note and card variety of correspondence these days), I am thinking about letters quite a lot.

And I have these random letter-related thoughts to share with you today:


As you know, I read a lot.  And I've discovered, over the years, that I really enjoy epistolary novels -- or narratives told through a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc.


I think it all started with Flowers for Algernon, a book I first read - and loved! - in seventh grade.   I think there's just something fascinating . . . with peeking into other people's diary entries or private letters . . . even if it's just fiction.  For me, that format just brings a sense of connection and "realness" to a novel.    Over the years, there have been many, many epistolary novels I've loved:  Carrie, Dracula, The Screwtape Letters, The Stone Diaries.  And, more recently, Where'd You Go Bernadette? and Frances and Bernard.

How about you?  Do you enjoy epistolary novels?  What are your favorites?


What do you do with all the fun cards and lovely notes you receive in the mail?

I usually display a few favorite cards on my bulletin boards at home or at my office (because I really like to surround myself with lovely images and special notes).  And then, I save the rest by making little "card binders."


I just gather my cards, punch holes in them with a hole punch, and thread them on little binder rings I pick up at the office supply store.


Sometimes I group the cards by theme (if there's a big "event" that has generated a lot of cards, for example), but mostly I just assemble random cards together.  It's easier to save special cards when they're bound together in a manageable way, and I'm much more apt to take a look at them when they're in tidy little groups.


How do you keep track of cards and notes?


I have a "thing" for stationery.  Somehow, I'm always drawn to the paper goods at any store, and my supply of greeting cards and note cards far exceeds my letter-writing habit!


I keep a little basket stocked with notecards, stamps, and return address labels so I'm always prepared when the letter-writing bug bites me.

I even use an old-school address book that I've had for nearly 20 years!


I think this is why the Month of Letters is always so appealing to me!  I like to read letters . . . and keep letters . . . and collect stationery and addresses to write letters.


Close Encounters. . . of the Eiffel Kind

As many of you will remember, last April my sister and I took a little trip to Paris.


I had wanted to visit Paris since junior high . . . when I started taking French in school.  I was always so intrigued by everything Paris, and dreamed of seeing the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, la Tour Eiffel.  I wanted to sip a café crème on the Champs-Élysées. 

Actually being in Paris was fabulours.  All the sights were wonderful -- just what I'd always dreamed they'd be.

But what I really loved most . . . was the Eiffel Tower!


I was absolutely enchanted from the very first glimpse . . . out our hotel window, over the rooftops and between two chimneys!  It simply . . . delighted me!

And now, nearly a year later, I am still charmed.  In fact, it's kind of like the Close Encounters of the Third Kind . . . only instead of "seeing" the Devil's Tower monument, I'm "seeing" the Eiffel Tower.  Everywhere.

I find myself strangely attraced to the Eiffel Tower.  And I'm surrounding myself with its image.  I carry it with me on my keychain.


(You can even see its image on the calendar page on the wall. . .)

My current journal features the Eiffel.


The opening screen on both my phone and iPad are photos I took of the Eiffel on our trip.


I keep images of the Eiffel Tower in my "inspiration areas" . . . the bulletin board near my desk.


A table in my sewing room.


On the shelves in my library, where I can see it from my "knitting spot."


For me, the Eiffel Tower is a visual reminder of a wonderful trip I shared with my sister.  We send each other little Eiffel mementos now. (She is having a similar "close encounter" experience.)  It's easy to find cards and books. . .


coasters. . .


magnets. . .


notepads. . .


even nail files!


I'm surrounded by images of the Eiffel Tower . . .

and I love it!

Steeped in Tradition: The Christmas China

It all started with this little candlestick holder. . .


back in 1984.

Tom and I were living in Austin, Texas at the time.  He was doing a post-doc at the University of Texas, and I was working on my accounting degree.  We were very poor.  We didn't have many "nice" things.  (But we were really, really happy.)

I never dreamed of owning Christmas china.  (Shoot, at that point, I didn't even dream of owning ANY china!)  And, although I already loved blue transferware, back then I had never even heard of Spode.

So I was surprised when I opened my Christmas gift from Tom that first year in Texas and discovered this little Spode candlestick holder.  Apparently, he'd been shopping in a mall department store, and the candlestick had caught his eye.

The next year, he bought me a second candlestick holder.

And, with that, my collection of Spode Christmas Tree china began!


Each year, he chose a piece for me.


Now, I have a full "service for 8."


A tea set.


Various serving pieces.


Even a gravy boat!


I love getting out my Christmas china every December, and setting it up in my china cabinet.  We use it daily -- not just for special meals -- throughout the holiday season.   I love remembering how Tom "discovered" the pattern -- and how he liked it so much that he splurged on a piece for me . . . way back when.  But I especially love using the candlestick holders.  They will always be my favorite pieces.  I think their candlelight glows brighter and longer than any other candlelight. . .


Mom Update:  Surgery tomorrow.  She is comfortable . . . but miserable.  I thank you all for your kind words of support.  They mean a lot to me -- and to my Mom, as well!  Many thanks!

A Little Gloomish

The weather has taken a distinct turn for the gloomish.  It is too dark to take photos of my new yellow sweater.  It is too wet to take pictures of roses (which are blooming like crazy).  It is too cold to go looking for yellow.

This week, my Project Spectrum post can still feature yellow.  Just . . .yellow you can eat!


(My favorite.)

Enjoy the weekend.


ReThink. . . Pink!


A new calendar month brings a new Project Spectrum color . . . PINK.


Pink?  I'm not a huge fan of pink.   I mean. . . I don't mind it.  Really, I don't.  But it tends not to be my first choice.  Pink?  Where am I even going to find it around me?

Not in my closet. 

Except for . . . oops!  A nice pop of bright color here and there.


(My current favorite handbag.)

Not in my house.

Well. . . except for some colorful touches to soften the edges.


(Like in these embroidered throw pillows.)

Not on my toes.

Ummmmmm.  Except that my latest pedicure is "cupid pink."


Not in my garden.

Except for that nice shell pink begonia. . .


and some interesting foliage. . . and maybe even a few other blooms here and there.


Not on my needles.

Well. . . unless there's a new baby on the block!


(All the details Raveled here.)

Maybe I'm going to have to re-think. . . PINK!


Thunderbolt City!*

This week, Carole has us thinking about our Ten Favorite Romantic-Comedies.

I'm not much of a movie-goer or movie-watcher -- but I do have a few favorites.  And I'm not sure if there's really a clear "definition" for the genre "romantic-comedy"  -- but I do think that some of my favorites might fall into the rom-com category.

Before we get started - and to get us in the mood, let's watch one of my favorite movie lines (from the ever-adorable Hugh Grant):


Perfect, non?

And, now.  My Ten Favorite Romantic-Comedies, which may or may not technically fit into that movie genre -- but do tend to be about love, and are also comedies.

  1. Amelie
  2. High Fidelity
  3. Four Weddings and a Funeral
  4. Something's Gotta Give
  5. Love, Actually
  6. Bull Durham
  7. Spanglish
  8. When Harry Met Sally
  9. Notting Hill
  10. Groundhog Day

How about you?  What are your favorites?

*Can you name the movie with this quote?  And who says it?



Honk If You Love. . .


This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is the Ten Best Bumper Stickers we've seen.  Hmmmmm.

I must admit. . . I'm not really a fan of bumper stickers.  Sometimes I see them, and I laugh.  But mostly, I see them and I get kind of sad.  Because I can't believe some of the hateful things people stick on their cars. . .

But I digress. 

Anyway, I have seen some really great bumper stickers in my time. . . but, of course, I can't remember them today.  I don't have any bumper stickers myself, but if I did -- here's what I would stick on my car:





















I guess my best bumper sticker might read HONK if you love Kalamazoo, gardening, knitting, reading, dogs, yoga, and Paris!

What's the best bumper sticker YOU'VE seen?

A Big Day and Lots of Cool Stuff

Last week, I celebrated my birthday.


When I was a kid, I loved having my birthday.  As an adult, though, I just kind of let my birthday slide into the background of life.  I wasn't all that excited about getting older, and I was never all that comfortable being in the birthday limelight.

Not anymore, though.

The whole cancer thing has changed my way of thinking.  Now. . . I embrace my birthday!  I want more birthdays.  Because that means I'm still around to celebrate!  And there can never - ever - be . . . too many candles!

This year's celebration lasted several days.  Lunches out with friends, dinner out with Tom, a family party yesterday (we missed you, Erin!), and it's about to last several more -- my sister arrives later this week!  I've had a great time.  And you know what else is fun about birthdays?  Cool Stuff!  Like. . .

Plants . . . from my sister


and my pal, Sandie.


A great bag (made of woven, dyed grass made by Baskets of Cambodia) from my Mom and Dad.


This bag is so cool!  The details are perfect


right down to the inside!


And Tom got me a rain barrel!


(This is not my actual rain barrel; this is the photo from the Gardener's Supply Catalog, where he ordered mine.)

It's good to have birthdays.  Bring 'em on!