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Monday, February 28, 2011

March Goals

This year I started setting monthly goals and tracking them on the right side of my blog.  That's been working out really well.  So let's check in and see how I did on February's goals.

February Goals
1.  Celebrate my 40th birthday! - I definitely did!  We had a great trip to Key West and I got to celebrate with friends and family!
2.  Remodel 2 bathrooms - have you ever worked with a contractor?  This spills over to the next month again, but I understand this is actually starting on Wednesday.
3.  Work on 2 room painting projects - no, I have put these projects off for the time being
4.  Finish spring cleaning the house - more or less, I've got a few areas to finish up but I feel like I accomplished a ton on this goal
5.  Hang our new kitchen curtain - no, but I've got it and am ready to hang it
6.  800 minutes/exercise - Yes!
7.  Experiment with new photography tips - Our trip to Key West gave me lots of opportunities to read a little more and practice using different settings on my camera.  I've been happier with my results lately.

Four out of seven ain't bad!  It was a tough month for all of us and am ready to kick off March with new goals.


March Goals
Remodel 2 bathrooms
Enjoy Spring Break with family
Continue great exercise program I've started
Read 2nd Digital Photography book
Clean and seal main floor tile grout
Hang Kitchen Valance
Decide on Bathroom Window Treatment

Happy March!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Year of the Hare" Give-Away

Ricki Jill and I hosted our first "What We're Reading" Linky Party on February 20th and it was a ton of fun to host!  Ricki and I both received a number of messages from followers and friends who plan on participating in March's party but were not ready yet with their books for February.  Great!  We'd love to have you join us!

For the first party I hosted a give-away of one of the books I read in February - Year of the Hare.

Using random.com, the winner is Sharon from Miles to Grow!  Congratulations Sharon!  Please send me your address and I'll get the book in the mail to you next week!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wine Club - Champagnes

Last month we kicked off a Wine Club with 9 other couples.  It was so much fun and we're so glad the rest of the group wanted to keep the tradition alive.  This month Jeff and Robin hosted the group and the theme they chose was champagnes!

Because our hosts own a restaurant (how nice!) they decided to have our Wine Club attend their Sunday Brunch.  The food was delicious:  fruit, salads, egg dishes, crepes, omelets, sweets, frittatas, and beignets.  Just wonderful!

We ate in the bar and then Robin and Jeff served one champagne at a time.  Again we went with a double blind tasting.  The bottles were in a bag so no one could see the brand and we did not show the bottles to everyone before starting the tasting. 


Our table especially enjoyed the blueberry sauce for the beignets - another table was hogging the chocolate sauce :)

And the winners, in order.  Because really, they were all winners. 

Our group's #1 choice was the Prosecco.  #2 and #3 were by G. H. Mumm. 

#4-#8 can be seen here, in order of our preferences. 

Mike and Mary were the big winners, receiving the Little Black Book of Wines from the hosts.
A wonderful brunch!

Monday, February 21, 2011

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Battlefield

A Battlefield

On our way home from Mississippi on Saturday the boys and I decided to stop by the Shiloh National Military Park which straddles Mississippi and Tennessee.  I've visited battlefields before but was surprised at how large this one is - 4,000 acres.  We saw a lot of bikers and hikers throughout the park.  We also saw two large Boy Scout Packs hiking and spending the day exploring the grounds.

The Battle of Shiloh was a two day battle in April of 1862.  Approximately 109,000 troops were involved in the battle and 24,000 troops were killed.  The battle is named for the Shiloh Methodist Church that still stands near the battlegrounds.

The park has a wide variety of monuments, tablets, and historic markers throughout the battlefield and grounds.  We could have easily spent an afternoon here and really should sometime.

More than 3500 Civil War soldiers are buried in the National Cemetery.  2,359 of them are unknown. 

We were interested in the original Methodist Church which still stands today.  The surrounding area is where some of the bloodiest portions of the battle were fought on Sunday morning at sunrise.   

While a very somber place to visit, we were glad we did and would love to take Dad with us sometime when we are traveling to visit family and have the time to stop and visit.  And this was our 40th 101 Places!  You can read about the others here.

From the Book:
#41 - A Battlefield
The air was filled with smoke, the sound of gunshots and cannons, the clash of swords, and cries from the wounded.  It's quiet and peaceful here now, but long ago, history was made in this place.  Men fought and killed one another; were brave or overcome with fear; became leaders or just struggled to survive.  They fought for causes they believed in and were willing to die for, to protect their culture and tradition, or just because they had no choice.  Seeing a battlefield can make your heart ache, but it's important to remember those whose lives were changed there, and the reasons they went there in the first place.

Trip to Mississippi

We took a quick trip to see family this past week.  Unfortunately this was not one of our relaxing vacation trips but to attend the service for David's dad, Don.  Since this blog is a family archive as well as a creative outlet for me personally, I want to share more about Grandpa Don here.  One day soon.

The service was beautiful and we were happy to see family.  I didn't take many pictures on this trip but wanted to share a few.

We stayed with Grandma Nan and got to visit with Dumpster, the cat.  The boys were woken up one morning by his sweet meowing and then him jumping on their bed.  I've never seen Thomas get out of bed so quickly (we don't have a cat so it's all new).  They loved playing with Dumpster.

The cousins decided to watch a movie together.  So sweet. 

As you can imagine, family and friends sent so many beautiful plants and flowers to the service.  I tried to capture a few but am still working on improving my photograhpy!  Here are a couple that turned out.  This bromelaid came home with us.  It's beautiful but I understand from my sister-in-law they're rather finicky.  

On our way home on Saturday the boys asked if they could go to the cemetery once more to say goodbye.  This is their first loss and it was all new and terribly sad for them.  Being with family though and being able to say good-bye was healing.

Looking forward to our next trip home where we can relax and enjoy our time with family.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What We're Reading Party and a Give-away!

Welcome to our first What We're Reading Blog Party!
Ricki Jill and I will be hosting this party every month. 
We hope you'll join us because good books and good friends make for a great party!

Because we were on vacation earlier in the month, I had a chance to do some serious reading.
I picked up some great airplane/pool reading this time around.

I've mentioned the Stone Barrington series before.  Good mysteries, engaging stories, pretty predictable, but that's OK.  This was probably one of the best that I've read in the series, taking place on an insland in Maine.  It was great action/mystery right up to the last page.

At the library this one caught my eye and I snatched it up too.  Better to have too many books on a trip than too few, right?
I started this book on the airplane on our way to Key West, and lo and behold this one took place entirely in Key West!  We ended up seeing several places that are mentioned in the book.  We even had the conch fritters at the Raw Bar (where Stone and his buddy Dino ate throughout the book).

I believe I've read all of Dan Brown's other books, like The DaVinci Code, but had yet to read The Lost Symbol.  I have to say I did not like this one as much as I liked the others.  I did like the historical elements, the enlightening facts about D.C., and the fast pace mystery style of the book.  But there were more parts that I had a hard time with.  The "collective consciousness" theme felt preachy and pretty repetitive.  I had a hard time suspending belief with this story.

David heard about this book recently in the Wall Street Journal and got it for me for my birthday.  While vacationing we both read it.  It is a book from Finland, written in 1975, and has become somewhat of a cult classic in Europe.  It's about a man who is stumbling through a rather unhappy life and completely leaves that life when he clips a hare while driving down a country road.  It reads like a fable and was entertaining. 

It's been a long time since I've read a John Grisham, so I had to catch up, starting with The Associate.  I enjoyed this story a lot - reminded me of The Firm which I read in grad. school when I desperately needed some reading-for-pleasure time.  David gave me The Firm and I loved the break from reading only for school.  Anyway, The Associate is about a Yale law student who is blackmailed into taking a corporate law position in order to help rig an important trial.  It was such a fast read and I was hooked from the very beginning.  I like John Grisham's writing style a lot and this was a nice return for me to his books.

And, now the Give-away!
I would love to share The Year of the Hare with one of you!  If you are interested please leave a comment and I'll randomly draw a name on February 25th.

So, what are YOU reading?  Leave us a comment and link below!
We'll leave the link open until February 25th.

Happy Reading!
~~Bonnie and Ricki Jill

What We're Reading

My most recent book recommendations:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Beautiful Flowers

With temperatures in the 60s today and beautiful flowers in the kitchen, it feels like spring is on its way!
These Indiana winters are tricky though - it's lulling me into thinking icy weather is behind us.

I received some beautiful flowers from friends at my birthday cocktail party last week. 
They're just gorgeous and I love having them in the house.

We'll Miss You, Grandpa Don

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Memory from Key West

 When we were bike riding in Key West last weekend I spotted some pretty oil paintings on Duval Street and David let me stop and take a look.  I knew when I saw this one by local artist Jeanine Moes I had to have it.  Luckily, the price was right!

It's an oil of Hemingway's House.  I loved the colors and am thinking now about framing it (or not) and where to hang it.  For now, I'm going to put it on an easel in the kitchen while I think it through. 

We have a lot of pretty prints and water colors in the house, but lately I've been getting into oils.
I think I first got interested when our friend Janet in Mexico had an art show at my favorite local restaurant.  We bought this one of Real de Catorce, Mexico. 

And I really liked this one that I bought on our trip around Lake Michigan last year when we stopped for a day on Mackinac Island.

Here's me with the artist.

And I've mentioned how much I love Ricki Jill's artwork.
Speaking of, don't forget about our Reading Blog Party on February 20th!
Grab our button here with Ricki Jill's beautiful art!

What We're Reading