{Worldview} Book Review: A Gal Named Jo by DeeDee Hall

Today's selection is a book written by one of my Mom's friends from her hometown of Dyersburg, TN. The book is:

A Gal Named Jo
by DeeDee Hall

The story is pieced together from letters written between Hall's artist parents, Dick and Jo Flowers, during World War II. Dick was away in the War, Jo was staying with an artistic couple who mentored her as she prepared to enter art school in the fall. The story is well-written, entertaining, and sweet.

There were several things I liked about this read. First of all, it's the story of two artists who don't let unfortunate circumstances - like separation due to war - get in the way of their relationship or their passion for pursuing their dreams. It was also fun to read about the lives of people my Mom grew up around (Mom remembers having her picture made as a child in Dick's photography studio that he opened after returning from the War). I also appreciated the spiritual insights and parallels that Hall subtly weaves into the story. For instance, Jo, whose attempts to earn her keep and repay her hosts for the summer often are thwarted or completely flop, eventually realizes that some gifts - like salvation - can never be earned or repaid.

Overall, it's a well-written, enjoyable, and thought-provoking read, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in art, World War II, or the lives of members of "the greatest generation."

What are you reading?


Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good...


Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.
- Psalm 100 -

Happy Thanksgiving!



{Worldview} Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Who would think that a book about punctuation (of all things) could be hilariously funny? Well, maybe not everyone, but if you're a word nerd like me, you will.

I'm referring to today's selection:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves:
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss

If you've ever gritted your teeth through church services or school lectures because of spelling and grammar mistakes in the PowerPoint slides, smirked when you found typos that editors missed in books or magazines, or even returned a friend's letters with spelling and punctuation mistakes corrected in red ink , then this book is for you.
I mean, the chapter titles themselves will crack you up (if you're a dork, that is). How can you not chuckle when Truss compares commas to sheep dogs, herding and organizing words and phrases into comprehensible English in the chapter hilariously entitled, "That'll Do, Comma"?
But the book isn't just funny: it's also informative. Truss walks you through tricky subjects, such as the subtle nuances of when it's appropriate to use a semicolon vs. a colon, for instance. If any of what you learned in your college or high school grammar classes has gotten a bit fuzzy (and let's be real here - it has), this book will be an educational and entertaining refresher course. And if you've ever felt alone in your Grammar Nazi manic frenzy noble quest to right all of the atrocities committed upon the English language by poor grammarians, then this one's for you. You are not alone. Check it out, because punctuation matters....
{The funny pictures were found on Pinterest.}
What are you reading? 


{Worldview} Book Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

2012 will be remembered as the year I discovered Bill Bryson. What a treat. This is the third of his books that I've finished this year, and - true to Bryson form - it succeeded in being both incredibly informative and hilariously entertaining as well. The book I'm referring to is:

A Walk in the Woods:
Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
by Bill Bryson

When it comes to spending time in the great outdoors, I am all for going on a robust hike - provided at the end of the day, I've got a hot shower, tasty meal, and warm bed to go home to. Basically, this is me:
However, reading this book almost made me want to devote the next several months of my life to hiking (and camping) the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Almost.
Bryson's description of his own attempt to hike the AT is informative, sobering, inspiring, and downright hilarious. I found myself laughing-out-loud all throughout the book. For instance, in Chapter 4, Bryson discusses the possibility of encountering bears on the trail. He has just described how even nature-loving Henry David Thoreau was unnerved by the wild savageness of the Katahdin wilderness in 1846, and follows it with this gem:
But even men far tougher and more attuned to the wilderness than Thoreau were sobered by its strange and palpable menace. Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as "so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror." When Daniel Boone is uneasy, you know it's time to watch your step.
The entire book is filled with hilariously dry commentary such as this. I also enjoyed hearing what he thought of Gatlinburg, TN, which is near my own stomping grounds. Good stuff.
Following Bryson along the trail is quite an educational experience. He shares the history of the Trail's formation, along with ecological information, tips for safety and survival, and fascinating trivia about many points of interest along the way. Reading along allows you to experience the AT from the comfort of your armchair.
My only reservation in recommending this book, however, is this: Bryson writes from a secular worldview, and his writing includes everything that comes with that. In his discussion of the formation of the mountains, he refers to the theory of evolution as if it's fact. In addition, this book included several incidents of foul language and some crass "guy talk," which easily could have been left out. Bryson's hiking companion was a rather rough (but likable) character, and most of the crassness and language comes from him. So, consider yourself warned about that aspect of the book.
Overall, it was a great read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in the outdoors, hiking, or the Appalachian Trail. Who knows, it may even inspire you to attempt hiking the AT and become a "mountain man" yourself!
What are you reading?


{Home and Art} Soaking Life In, and a Sale

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately. Projects and blogging are taking a back seat right now to spending time with people and enjoying fall in Tennessee before we leave for Spain. I'm trying to soak in as much time enjoying the people and places I love here before we move.

A couple of weeks ago we went up to the lake for a few days with some friends. Here are some photos that I thought you might enjoy....

a nice view to wake up to...

a furry friend who was happy to be there...

a cedar waxwing, just hanging out...

fall colors and feathered friends...

mysterious coves...

beautiful, hazy light...

time to reflect...

hikes to magical places...

dappled light and textures...

a little fishing...

climbing out on the rock without falling in...

raccoon tracks....

faux leaf fossils...

the trees' last hurrah....

BEAR tracks! Eek!

=  one fine day...

In other news, I will be closing my Etsy shop down about a week before Christmas, and it will remain closed until after we have moved, settled into our new digs in Spain, and I've had a chance to figure out all of the legal issues associated with running a home business on a military installation in a foreign country. This will also make my bookkeeping easier for my long-suffering accountant/friend.

Therefore, if you've been meaning to order something from me but have been putting it off, NOW is the time to do it! You can get a jump on your Christmas shopping, and help make my packing a little easier.

Incidentally, I have a lot of new necklaces, brooches, and magnets that are not yet listed, as well as greeting cards featuring my "Proverbs 31 Woman" series. Although they're not yet visible in the shop, they're certainly available to purchase! If there's a piece you are interested in but can't find, send me a message, and I'll check my extra inventory - chances are, I do actually have what you're looking for. I'll be happy to reserve a piece for you.

In the spirit of thanksgiving, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of you, my lovely readers, for following along on this blog, ordering items from my shop, encouraging me through your comments and "likes," and sharing my work with your friends. It means a lot to me personally, and I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for you! As a little thank-you gift, I am offering 10% discount on your purchases between today and when I close down for the move. Simply enter the coupon code: GIVETHANKS when you're checking out. Click HERE to start shopping.

Hope you're having a happy week!


{Worldview} Book Review: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Today's review will be brief; partly because I've got a lot on my mind and to-do list, and partly because I finished this particular book a while back and no longer have my initial reaction fresh in my mind. The book is:
Jayber Crow
by Wendell Berry

This is the second of Berry's books that I've read. Jayber Crow shares many of the same themes, characters, and beautiful writing that I so enjoyed in Hannah Coulter. Berry is an artist with words, and his writing is poignant and moving. He makes you nostalgic for the old ways and a simpler life, even if you've never even really experienced those things yourself. That's good writing.
While I didn't enjoy this story quite as much as Hannah Coulter or find as many "quotable" lines, I did appreciate the fact that Jayber Crow is all about finding a simpler life, becoming part of a community, and remaining faithful to the people you love, even when that love is not reciprocated. It's well worth reading. Go check it out!
I'm sorry for the brevity here - getting ready for our move to Spain has me pretty preoccupied lately, and I haven't had much time for blogging. Thanks for sticking with me!