Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The joy of browsing a used book store...

Have you ever spent time browsing through a used bookstore?  There's something truly wonderful about it, especially if you're a bookaholic like I am.

Last week, my daughter and I were able to spend a little time in Babbit's Bookstore in Normal, IL.  Not enough time, of course.  We had some time constraints, or we would have lingered.  But it was so enjoyable.

I knew I wanted to get a book about Ireland, and I found quite a few to choose from.  Although not garage-sale cheap, the prices were very reasonable.

I had to take a picture of these Beverly Gray books for my sister Beverly.  Her name isn't all that common, and I was pretty sure she didn't know there was a series of books based on a girl named Beverly.  I may see if I can find some of these at the library.

My daughter was enchanted with this book.  Books were once so lovely, weren't they?

Elizabeth was looking for Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, but she was unsuccessful in that quest.  She did, however, find a book that had been on her to-read list:  Peggy Noonan's biography of Ronald Reagan, When Character was King, at a very good price.

The book about Ireland that I ended up getting turned out to be fascinating.  Although this appears to be a much more recent edition, it was written in 1925! It was interesting to find Ireland captured at that moment in time.

There are tons of photographs, but of course all of them are in black and white.  Travel literature has come a long way since then!

Before we left, my daughter commented that visiting that bookstore made her realize that although she gets many books online, she'll never abandon reading the printed word.  Neither will I.

Below is another used bookstore where I spent some time a few years ago...the Book Pride store in Georgetown, Texas.  Compared to Babbit's, it was wonderfully spacious and included several reading nooks.  I loved it!

Are you like you love used bookstores?  Do you have a favorite one...or even just a favorite bookstore?  I'd love to hear about it!

I'm linking up today with Thursday Favorite Things, hosted by Katherine's Corner!

katherines corner

Monday, March 18, 2013

Visible Monday: Emerald Eye Shadow Tutorial

Did you know the fashion and make-up Powers That Be have declared emerald to be the color for 2013?

With yesterday being St. Patrick's Day, I decided to go all everything, including my eye shadow.  Yes, the Make-up Powers That Be often tell you not to match-matchy your clothes and eye make-up, but I chose to ignore them.  Above is the finished look.  If you'd like to know how I accomplished it, read on!

This ELF palette has been may go-to palette since I got it for FIVE DOLLARS--yes FIVE DOLLARS--half-price at Walgreen's right after Christmas.  For my festive emerald St. Paddy's look, I chose to build the look around the emerald shadow that's in the fourth row up from the bottom, three shadows over.

Prep for the look:

I started out with a clean, moisturized face.  Before beginning with the shadow, I shaped my eyebrows with a dark brown shadow and a tiny angled brush...used ELF eyelid primer all over the lid...and a neutral skin-toned shadow all over the lid, all the way up to the brow.

Why, you ask?  I know it seems like a lot of steps, but if you're like me and want your eye shadow to stay put all day, it's worth it.

Now for the color:

Step 1:  I applied my emerald shadow all over the eyelid itself.

Step  2:  This is one step in which I deviated from ELF.  I love the gray in my Lancome eye shadow palette so much, and that's what I used in the crease and as a contour on the edges of my lid.

Step 3:  I blended it out with a brush, and even used my finger a little.

Step 4:  I used Estee Lauder black eye pencil above and below my lashes.  (I don't put liner on my water line, because I think it makes my eyes look smaller.)

Above my eye, I smoothed ELF black eye shadow over the eye pencil for a slightly more smudge look.
Beneath my eye, I smoothed the emerald eye shadow over the black pencil.  (As you can see, it doesn't look crazy-green.)

Step 5:  You can't see it very well in the pic, but I used eyelash primer on both sets of lashes.  I'm convinced it makes my lashes look a bit longer and thicker, (although naturally they're neither.)

Step 6:  In the center of my eyelid, I put a small smudge of a much-lighter green and blended slightly.  I think the little bit of bright in the center of the lid makes you look more wide-awake somehow.

Step 7:  I then put 2 or 3 coats of Estee Lauder black mascara on my upper and lower lashes.

Below:  I put a light shade of neutral with the tiniest bit of shimmer right below my brow.  You have to be careful with this, especially if you're older like me.  Too much shimmer, too much light stuff below the brow can end up looking tacky.  Use a very light touch.


The finished look.  Hope you like it!

I'm linking up today with Visible Monday, hosted by Not Dead Yet Style!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

These are a few of my favorite Irish things!

Note: Yes, this is a repeat from the archives, but it sums up a lot of how I feel about all things Irish!

"Ireland is a land of poets, story-weavers and dreamers -- all of which I can relate to. The tiny island has gifted us with writers like Jonathan Swift, W.B. Yeats and Maeve Binchy; musicians like U2, Van Morrison and the Chieftains; actors like Daniel Day-Lewis, Pierce Brosnan and Richard Harris; and a host of noted Americans of Irish descent, from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. Thanks to my husband, I have a Swedish surname, but the green in my eyes reflects the green in my soul. I'm proud of whatever Irish flows in my blood."--Cindy Swanson (my quote that was included in a 2004 St. Patrick's Day feature in the Rockford Register Star)

Maeve Binchy...B.J. Hoff...Frank Delaney's "Ireland"

It took me years to realize that a lot of people use St. Paddy's Day as an excuse to party and get drunk. The day still has happy connotations for me of being a kid in school and making sure I was wearing my green so I wouldn't get pinched. Just in case you forgot to wear green, though, you could also pin on a green construction-paper shamrock!

Now, I use it as an excuse to reflect on my Irish heritage, dream about visiting Ireland someday, and think about some of my favorite Irish-related things.

Scroll down for my review of a wonderful book about Ireland...

Favorite Irish author: Maeve Binchy
I believe I've read all of Binchy's books to date, and there's not one I haven't enjoyed. Her breezy, humorous and casual style gives the reader the feeling that you're chatting with a good friend, but don't be fooled--her storytelling ability is impeccable. Among my favorites: Circle of Friends, Tara Road, and Light a Penny Candle.  Update: Sadly, Maeve Binchy passed away in July of 2012.  I have yet to read her final work, A Week in Winter, but you can bet it's on my to-read list.

Favorite author who writes about the Irish: B.J. Hoff
It's no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I'm a major B. J. Hoff fan. Her Emerald Ballad series hooked me, and I've continued to be impressed by her absorbing tales which often feature Irish immigrants. When asked why, B. J. replied, "Well, who’s more interesting than the Irish, after all? There’s no danger of ever running out of stories about them!

"Seriously, I love writing about the people who built our nation—our ancestors—and there’s really no way to do that without writing about immigrants. And since the Irish immigrants played such a hugely important role in settling America—and since my own family tree is exceedingly 'green—' I chose years ago to focus on Irish characters."

Check out B.J.'s All Things Irish page on her website for some interesting facts.

Book that started my fascination with the Irish:

The Red Knights from Hy Brasil, by Christine Savery. I blogged about finding this beloved childhood book recently. I fell in love with mysterious and charismatic Shane O'Coghlin, one of the book's main characters, and in fact the book began my lifelong love affair with all things Irish.

My review of Ireland, by Frank Delaney

I've been saying most of my life that I love Ireland, but the truth is, I've had only a rudimentary knowledge of that nation's history. Now, after having read Frank Delaney's Ireland, A Novel, I can say that I learned a great deal about Ireland's history while enjoying an absorbing fictional tale at the same time.

The story begins when a traveling Storyteller--perhaps the last of a long Irish tradition of "seanchais"-- comes to the home of 9-year-old Ronan O'Mara in 1951. As he weaves his tales of ancient Ireland, Ronan feels convinced that he and the Storyteller are somehow connected. When the Storyteller is evicted by Ronan's cold and distant mother, Ronan devotes the next several years of his life to trying to find him.

As we follow Ronan's life during the next few years--his successes and heartaches and the startling revelations he eventually faces--we are treated to more stories, as one reviewer says, "seamlesssly interwoven" into the novel. The stories reach Ronan in various ways--through radio, television, even letters from the Storyteller himself, never signed or with a return address.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying the stories even as Ronan's own story propelled me forward. Tales of St. Patrick, of Brendan the Navigator, Conor of Ulster, the legendary Finn MacCool,the Battle of the Boyne, all the way up to 1916 when the Easter Rising led by men like James Connolly and Michael Collins set the stage for the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.

If you have a yen for all things Irish, I definitely recommend this book. It's a rich, fanciful, imaginative retelling of Irish stories, as charming and appealing as the Irish themselves.

By the way, I kept thinking all along that this would make a wonderful movie. It would have to be sized down, of course, and all of the stories probably wouldn't be included. But I picture it along the lines of The Big Fish...a series of fanciful tales linked together by an ongoing contemporary story.

Gabriel Byrne

I can really picture Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, with a bit of age make-up, as the Storyteller. (They would have to get a younger actor to play the Storyteller as a young man.) And there would be choice roles for actors to play Ronan, his father, his aunt and his mother, and many characters in the tales. Hey, I have it all planned. Is anybody listening?

Have a happy St. Paddy's Day, everyone!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Rich Mullins and "The Color Green"

As a way of celebrating my Irish heritage and making St. Patrick's Day about so much more than partying and getting drunk, I've dedicated my Tumblr blog to Ireland (both the Republic of and Northern), all things Irish, and the color green, through March 17th.

I was mentioning this to my daughter and she said, "Rich Mullins had a song called 'The Color Green.'"

We looked it up on YouTube and were delighted to find that it was filmed in Ireland and has an unmistakable Irish flavor.

I posted it on my Tumblr blog and added this text...

"…I was thinking about this old man going to a meeting and realizing on his way that he’d already been in a meeting. It’s just he hadn’t been in a corporate meeting. He’d already been surrounded by the presence of God. And he looks out, and of course he’s a farmer, and has an appreciation for seasons - has an appreciation for that kind of thing. And all of a sudden he realizes that God invented green.--Rich Mullins
“ …certainly “The Color Green” was an Irish song and the Chieftains I know influenced that, and he played the hammered dulcimer I’ll bet like the Chieftains would if they’d ever seen a hammered dulcimer.—Rich’s friend Steve Stockman

Wonderful singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, “The Color Green,” filmed at and around the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
Rich was of Irish and French heritage.  I love the part in the video where he’s standing next to a sign that says, “Mullins.”
His  father was raised in Appalachia, and as a way of connecting with his dad’s heritage, Rich learned to play the hammered and lap dulcimers and the Irish tin whistle.
Rich died in a car wreck in 1997.  If you aren’t familiar with his incredible, poetic songs, I highly recommend them.

My friend reminisces about Rich Mullins

My friend Randy, who I worked with in Christian radio for many years, got to meet Rich several times.  I was the one who had to give him the bad news about Rich's death, and he was devastated.  Randy wrote in his blog  about one of his encounters with Rich:

I remember about seventeen years ago I had Rich Mullins in the studio and he had his hammer dulcimer with him. He played for us live. I was amazed. I told him what a gift he had. He taught me a valuable lesson that day. He said, "Randy, don't underestimate your gift. There's no way I could get behind that control console and flip all those switches, look at the clock for timing and all the other things that people don't see." That always stuck with me. We all indeed are gifted in different areas.
Referencing Rich's biography, An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, Randy writes:

 "...You see, I knew Rich at least well enough to know the wonder he saw in this world and his total abandonment to the call of Christ. He was a lover of God!

A cool reaction to the video...

Ben Whitmire, who posted this video on YouTube added this:

I used this song in a presentation in my Humanities class around 2004, and the general reaction from the class was a collective "wow," "whoa," and stunned silence -- Which is the reaction I expected.
This is a pretty heavy song and video to digest the first time around, and in a class that was mostly full of non-Believers, the stunned silence gave me an unusual sense of satisfaction :)

Friday, March 08, 2013

My life lately on Instagram

This past week was memorable mainly for the big almost-spring snowstorm we got here in Northwest Illinois.  I captured some images on Instagram...enjoy! (And if you live in a warm climate, be glad you didn't have to shovel snow.  Well, I didn't awesome husband uses a snow blower...but I'm just saying! :))

The road to where I work (my husband was driving)

The view out the back door at work (and yes, people brave this to smoke cigarettes))

This is a "latergram"--a picture that you actually took earlier, but you post on Instagram.  This was taken during my last visit to Texas.  My little grandson Josiah was watching cartoons in my mom's bedroom.  He was soooo sleepy and ready for a nap. :)

I had a lot of fun with an app called Sketch Guru, that can take a photo and turn it into a pencil sketch, a colored-pencil sketch, or even a watercolor--as in the pic of myself below.  Above is another "latergram," this one of my oldest grandson, Payton.

This is the watercolor option in Sketch Guru.  So much fun!

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I've been tinkering around with Irish calligraphy.  This is an Irish blessing I did.  I love the look of the Celtic lettering.

A Loch Ness "snowman"? I saw this on my way home from work and just had to snap it.  (It took some doing to take a pic that fits into Instagram's sizing parameters.)

Are you on Instagram? Do you enjoy it? Do you use it quite a bit? Let me know in my comments section!

I'm linking up with Home Sanctuary today for Company Girl Coffee!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

It's National Cereal Day! What's YOUR favorite cereal?

Today is National Cereal Day...and this is one holiday I can really get behind. I love cereal!

This is from the Punchbowl website:

Cereal is the most popular breakfast food in America, but that wasn’t always the case. Up until the 1860s, most people ate eggs, bacon, and sausage every morning. Cereal emerged as a healthier alternative at the end of the 19th century.

The invention of one of the most famous brands of cereal was an accident. In 1877, two brothers named John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg were experimenting with food made with boiled wheat. They left a batch out overnight and returned to find it stale. Instead of throwing it away, they rolled it out and discovered that each wheat berry formed its own flake. They tried the same process with corn, and created the first dry breakfast cereal, which we now know as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes!

Today, 49% of Americans start their day with a bowl of cereal. Wholegrain cereals are an excellent source of fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Celebrate National Cereal Day with a bowlful of your favorite brand!

When Cereal is TOO Yummy

 When my kids were growing up, I had to walk a fine line when it came to cereal purchases.  If I got something really good--like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, or even Lucky Charms--well, I would be lucky to see those boxes of cereal survive until breakfast the next morning.

On the other hand, if I got something that was really good for them, like Cheerios or Raisin Bran,--or really cheap, like Corn Flakes--the boxes would go untouched for weeks.

So I had to get something that was good for them and tasted OK, but not so delicious that they felt that had to raid the box during distinctly NON-breakfast times of day.

Better to get something like Life or even Honey-Nut Cheerios.  Something that tasted good, but not so good that it wouldn't stay around a while.

And OK, I admit it.  I've been known to reach for a cereal box when it isn't breakfast time.  And when you've eaten all the cereal in your bowl, and there's still a sizable amount of milk left, of COURSE you have to put more cereal in the bowl, right?

As for my favorite cereals, I think I'd have to say Grape-Nuts Flakes and Grape Nuts are at the top of the list, followed closely Kashi GoLean Crunch.  And in cold weather, I do enjoy oatmeal.

So, what's YOUR favorite cereal?  Or do you usually just bypass cereal altogether?

I'd love to know.

And I leave you with a chuckle..from College, this from "If Boring Cereals Had Mascots":

I'm linking up with Katherine's Corner today for Thursday Favorite Things! Click on the icon for more info:

Thursday Favorite Things
Photo credits:

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Have a Grin on Me

Hi everyone! I'm joining up with Oh How Pinteresting today to bring you a chuckle or two...posting some of the funny things I've seen on Pinterest lately..

I'm linking up with Oh How Pinteresting, hosted by the Vintage Apple!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

My love affair with Ireland began with a book

This is the book that began my love affair with obscure little book that I bought as a 9-year-old with allowance money at a little bookstore in Beirut, Lebanon.

This is the description on the flyleaf.

I had no idea that this book would set me on a lifelong path of fascination with Ireland and all things Irish. 
It was only in later years that I realized how much Irish blood was actually in my family.  
My dad had often mentioned that his family, the Garretts, were "Scotch-Irish," but I didn't know what that meant...I thought it was just a mix of Scottish and Irish. 

I found out later that the Scotch-Irish were people who had originally lived in Scotland, but migrated to Northern Ireland at the behest of King James (yes, he of King James Bible fame), to try to be  good influence on those crazy Irish.

Instead of that happening, all kinds of troubles began that continue to this day.  But I digress.

I found out later that through both the paternal and maternal sides of my family, there were strong strands of Irish blood...not just the Scotch-Irish kind.

Shane O'Coghlin

But I really didn't know all that when I fell in love with this book...and through it, the mystical, magical country of Ireland.


Although the book is about the Knight family--a group of red-haired English children whose parents are missionaries--the real focus of the story is Shane O'Coghlin.

Shane became my first literary crush.  I think the character was only 14 or so, but he was fascinating.
For some reason, Shane and all the people who lived around him thought he was the second coming of the Irish folklore hero, Cuchulain (roughly pronounced Koo KULlen or Koo HULlen.)

Shane's pride and belief that he's the natural heir to the role of Cuchulain keep him from giving his life to Christ...until the example of the hapless Knights, who are always doing the wrong thing but with the best of intentions,  helps change his heart and mind.

I somehow lost my original copy of this book, but several years ago I found another copy online that was pretty much EXACTLY like the one I had lost.  And that's a whole 'nother I found out who this book had belonged to, and a stunning tragedy that took place in his life.

I Dream of Ireland

After reading this book, my fascination with Ireland took root and has never left. Finding out that I have Irish in my ancestry only sealed the deal.  

My lifelong, abiding dream is to visit there one day.

Two interesting asides:

Oh, and through St. Patrick's Day 2013, I'm celebrating my Irish heritage on my Tumblr blog with all things Irish and the color green.  Check it out if like me, you're a lover of all things Irish!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Do you love peanut butter?

Peanut butter favorite kind! 

Today is National Peanut Butter Lovers' Day...and count me in!

I'm a devoted lover of this wondrous food. I always have to have a jar on hand (Skippy's Natural is my fave), and sometimes just a spoonful will satisfy a craving...but I love just about anything that's made with peanut butter, too. And sometimes just a good old PBJ hits the spot like nothing else.


And as long as you don't overindulge...or mix your PB with a ton of sugar...this is one food crush to feel good about.

Consider this:

It helps you lose weight
Calling peanut butter a diet food, with 180 to 210 calories per serving, may seem counter-intuitive. But it has the enviable combination of fiber (2 g per serving) and protein (8 g per serving) that fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer, so you eat less overall. Plus, there's nothing more indulgent than licking peanut butter off a spoon--and indulgence (in moderation) helps dieters fight cravings and stay on track.
It's packed with nutrition
A serving of peanut butter has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. Research shows that eating peanuts can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 1 ounce of nuts or peanut butter (about 2 tablespoons) at least 5 days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%.

So thank you very much, ancient Incas, George Washington Carver, and John Kellogg, who share kudos for grinding peanuts up into a wonderful paste!
Peanut butter is a food crush to celebrate!

Do you love peanut butter? Hate it? Got any favorite recipes involving PB? Let me know in my comments section! 

I'm participating today in Company Girl Coffee, hosted by Home Sanctuary:

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