Blogs that I love – Homemaking

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Last week, I talked about a blog that I just recently started following. Today I want to share a blog that I have been reading for about five years. It’s a blog by a mother and her daughters called Like Mother Like Daughter. I don’t remember how I found it. It was probably from another homemaking blog as I was always looking for more inspiration and wisdom on how to make and keep my home.

The mother, Leila, has a terrific sense of humor and her mantra of “if I can do it, so can you” is very encouraging. I’m pretty sure I started around about the time she talked about the importance of meals and laundry. She then proceeded, over the course of a couple of years, to outline exactly how to plan meals, cook on a budget, get your laundry under control, and keep a reasonably clean house (Don’t you love that idea! Who has time for a perfectly clean house, and how is that possible when you have children under your feet all of the time? I’m telling you, this woman is a gem. She gets the reality of what our lives are really like rather than the Pinterest perfection lives which we all aspire to and feel guilty about when we fail miserably to achieve them).  She also talks about raising children, marriage, families, and books.  Every once in a while she will post an “Ask Auntie Leila” post, answering a reader question.  I think most of her regular readers think of her as Auntie Leila. I know that I do.

Over the years I have learned much from Leila’s wisdom, enjoyed “watching” her daughters get married and have children, and laughed over her wintertime woes, the crazy DIY projects, and her wry sense of humor, and generally have enjoyed  myself every time a post lands in my inbox.

Leila is Catholic, and her faith is evident in most of what she writes. Although I attend a different church, I can still appreciate so much of what she includes about her beliefs and how they impact her every day life. In fact, she often inspires me to think about how my own faith can and should influence my days, even though they are often different than hers.

You can literally spend days reading her blog and all of the back posts, but here are some of my favorites, the ones I go back to again and again for inspiration, wisdom, and comfort:

Beginnings: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2009/01/can-your-new-years-resolutions-take/

Homemaking: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2014/07/housewifely/

Dinner: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2009/01/make-dinner-every-day-and-like-it/

A reasonably clean house: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2010/01/reasonably-clean-fairly-neat-and/

Order and Wonder: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2009/03/order-and-wonder-or-most-frequently/

Affirmation: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2013/11/affirmation-in-thick-of-things/

Bad Days: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2012/10/10-survival-tactics-for-rescuing-bad-day/

Sundays: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2009/03/let-me-tell-you-one-thing-about-order/

The Library Project: http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2013/06/the-like-mother-like-daughter-library/

I could go on and on and on, but I instead I will let you go dive in for yourselves.  When you lift your head in a couple of weeks, hopefully you will thank me for sending you over there.

Book Review – The Splendour Falls

Chinon, France – with Château de Chinon on the hill

 

Emily Braden has been convinced to go on vacation with Harry, her charming but unreliable cousin.  Harry is going to the town of Chinon in France to look for the lost treasure of Isabelle, one of the Plantagenet queens, and he arranges to meet Emily in Chinon.  Unsurprisingly to Emily, Harry fails to show up on the agreed upon date.   So begins another of Suzanna Kearsley’s wonderful romantic historical mysteries.  

At first Emily thinks nothing of Harry’s absence, but as the days go by without hearing anything from him, Emily grows concerned that perhaps Harry’s failure to appear is more than just his usual forgetfulness.  As she gets to know the other guests in the hotel in which she is staying, she becomes entangled in not only the mystery of Queen Isabelle’s lost treasure, but also the more recent mystery of another Isabelle, who supposedly hid a treasure before taking her own life in World War II.

The cast of characters include a charming Frenchman and his delightful child, two Canadian brothers, an American couple, and an old retainer with secrets of his own, all of whom draw Emily further into the mysteries of Chinon.  Ms. Kearsley’s delightful descriptions of Chinon gave me the sense of being there, and I admit to spending an evening looking at photographs of the French town and reading more about this historical little gem of a city in the Loire Valley in France.  

I was alternatively entranced and dismayed by the unfolding events and kept reading “just one more chapter” until the wee hours of the morning.  The ending was eminently satisfying–the mystery of both of the Isabelles is resolved as is Harry’s disappearance.  My only disappointment is that I would have liked a bit more detail about the two Isabelles and their times.  However, all in all, it was a satisfying read for anyone who likes historical thrillers set in an exotic locale with a bit of romance thrown in, too.

 

A new Mary Stewart?

 

Reading Clipart Image: Girl or Young Woman Reading a Book While Laying on the Floor

Girl Reading

When I was a girl, I loved reading gothic-type romances by authors such as Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Madeleine Brent.  Historical novels were also favorites so when I first read a book by Mary Stewart, I was overjoyed that there was history as well as romance and suspense.  I read all of her books, which our small town library contained, and then reluctantly moved on to other authors.

Last year I happened upon a wonderful website:  https://openlibrary.org/ On that site are digital copies of many older books that were published too recently to be in the public domain but are old enough that they aren’t in the library anymore.  Much to my delight, they had most of Mary Stewart’s books.  Over the next several weeks I was able to borrow and reread my old favorites:  Nine Coaches Waiting, My Brother Michael, This Rough Magic, and others.

As I read, I kept thinking of how much fun the suspense and romance are and how many historical facts, geographical descriptions, and literary allusions there are in her books.  I don’t often come across an author who not only writes well but also includes all of these details which give the novel depth as well as educates the reader in history and geography.  Plus, they are just plain fun to read.

One such writer today is Susanna Kearsley.  I read a couple of her books last year and enjoyed them, but when I picked up The Splendour Falls last fall and started reading, I realized almost immediately that here was a writer who could just about fill Mary Stewart’s writing shoes.  History, romance, adventure, suspense–it had it all.  I could hardly put it down and, for the first time in years, read past midnight to find out what would happen next.  I went on to read Season of Storms and was reminded of the gothic thrillers I enjoyed so much.  Her book, The Winter Sea, took me back to Scotland in the 1700’s during the Jacobite uprisings while Every Secret Thing was a thriller set in modern day Canada as well as Lisbon, Portugal in the 1940’s.

In each of her books there are elements of suspense and romance, but the amount of historical research that has obviously been done gives her books a depth which is often lacking in other romantic thrillers.  Like Mary Stewart, she includes a plucky heroine, an exotic locale, and a mystery to be solved.  There are usually charming and/or quirky secondary characters and a man with whom the heroine will develop a friendship, even if he doesn’t seem her type at first glance.  While Ms. Stewart sometimes included a smattering of history and atmosphere in her novels, Ms. Kearsley takes it further and often gives a more in depth historical background to either her place and/or her heroine’s story.

I am so glad to have discovered Suzanna Kearsley’s books and I look forward to many more happy years of reading to come.

The summer has flown

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I had good intentions about doing lots of writing on the blog this summer, but, alas, the summer flew away without me realizing it had gone.  Sigh….

It started with several days away with my husband, just the two of us, with time for reading, thinking, walking in the woods, and general relaxation.  However, as soon as I returned, I immediately needed to read for school, read for work, and help my son with his summer school work so that was about my only down time this summer.

I am aware of my need for more disciplined writing time and that is on my agenda for this coming school year (creating and sticking to a schedule of reading/thinking/writing time).  So hopefully I will be more present this Fall.

How do you carve out that kind of time?

Palm Sunday

When I was a child, one of my favorite parts of Palm Sunday at church was receiving a real palm leaf when I entered the sanctuary for worship and waving it as we sang this hymn:

All glory, laud and honor

Refrain:
All glory, laud, and honor
to thee, Redeemer, King!
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David’s royal Son,
who in the Lord’s Name comest,
the King and Blessed One. Refrain

The company of angels 
are praising thee on high;
and mortal men and all things
created make reply. Refrain

The people of the Hebrews
with palms before thee went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before thee we present. Refrain

To thee before thy passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted
our melody we raise. Refrain

Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King. Refrain

Words: Theodulph of Orleans (ca. 750-821), ca. 820
Trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1854,
as altered in Hymns Ancient and Modern

As we enter Holy Week,  let us be like those little children and glorify Jesus for all that He has done for us.  It is so easy to be too busy to think about the significance of this week, but let us be like the angels and the little children and sing to our Savior, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

New goals for the New Year

Knitting

One of the things I most love about New Year’s Day is the fact that it is the start of a brand new year.  2015 has not yet been lived and it is inviting me to dream about what my life can be rather than regret what I’ve not accomplished this past year.   Part of the New Year’s holiday for me, like so many others around the world, is to think about goals I would like to accomplish this coming year.  Here are just a few that are I most want to accomplish in the upcoming months:

1. Have a life that truly reflects faith and trust in the Lord.  I have noticed a lack in my closeness with God and my ability to follow after Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength this past year. I’m sure it is tied to my neglect of the disciplines of daily Scripture reading and prayer.  This year I want to re-establish those disciplines as I know that a rich spiritual inner life leads to the same richness in my thoughts, feelings, and deeds.

2. Work on my fitness routine.  A few years ago, I had a great routine going but when a bunch of new (and good) changes occurred, my routine fell apart.  A friend has started walking with me two to three days a week and we plan to continue walking this year.  We try to go 2.5 miles every time we walk.  I plan to add in some pilates, too.  My goal is to be a few pounds lighter and in much better shape by the end of the year.

3. Build writing time into my daily routine.  Ever since I read this article on writing for 20 minutes a day a few weeks ago, I realized that if I spend just a few minutes every day, I will get in the habit of writing daily.  I am reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott in which she says to sit down every day and you will eventually develop a habit of writing.

4. Reading goals for 2015.

I have a few smaller goals as well but these are my main goals.  Do you have any goals for this year?