Browsing Archives for Books & Letters

A few days ago I decided to reward myself for catching up on laundry and being a good little garden center worker and for taking care of little boys for thirteen years in a row and for not murdering my husband in his sleep for FOURTEEN years in a row and for Sunday School coming to an end for the year and for my Zumba class taking a summer break and just cause…. So I bought myself some used books from Alibris to celebrate.

During this book shopping spree I couldn’t help but think about my blog and all the people who read it and how they tend to be people that are kind of like me though probably smarter and much more organized with better hair and hopefully not so many paint stained pairs of shorts, but still… kind of like me and maybe they would like the same books that I like, so I decided to chuck a few more into my “shopping cart” while I was stocking up on Beverely Nichols books. 

But you know how it is, one book leads to another and another and another. I started scanning the shelves in my study to remember the titles and authors of my most beloved tomes, even though you would think I would have them memorized because I have read them so many times, but I don’t because of the four holes in my head where the babies came out.

So I started adding a few more books and a few more and a few more and by the end of the night I looked at my shopping cart and at the total cost of my shopping cart and OH DEAR I am afraid I had to go back and get rid of quite a few. The problem is not the price of the books themselves, but rather that Dad Gum shipping!!!

Finally, I whittled the cost down to a manageable amount and pushed the “send” button and here we are at The Country Doctor’s Wife’s Summer Reading Program Book Giveaway Number One. How’s that for a catchy title! Can’t you see it on T-shirts and bumper stickers and wooden plaques for your kitchen walls! ?! 

The first books arrived today! It is kind of exciting to open them as they come from bookstores all over the country. Alibris has it’s own warehouse, but it also is a place where used book stores from all over the world can post their inventory and get their books to the people who want to buy them. When you shop at Alibris, you are not just supporting Alibris, you are also supporting wonderful little bookshops all over the world!

Isn’t that wonderful!

Doesn’t it just make you want to open a wonderful little bookshop!

And even though this post is turning into a post about Alibris and not at all about my Summer Reading Program, I have to tell you that perusing the choices of copies at Alibris is half the fun of finding your book. You will have to decide between the dog eared copy with a few underlines on page 25 from Bob’s books in Bangor Maine and the other copy with minor shelf wear that had a flower pressed in the middle and an inscription that says to Mom with love, Jerry which is located in New Mexico at Martina’s Book Shack. I had to buy the pressed flower copy of course.

The first book I am giving away is one of my all time favorites. Betty MacDonald author of the timeless tale, “The Egg and I” which eventually led to the movie “The Egg and I” which featured two characters from her book, Ma and Pa Kettle, who went on to become part of the fabric of American culture, wrote the book, Onions in the Stew that I am giving away. You may have to read the previous sentence about seventeen times before it starts to make sense.

But Betty MacDonald is far more than the woman who actually lived down the road from the original Ma and Pa Kettle. Betty MacDonald is also the woman who made a tired, overwhelmed, lonely woman with three little boys who’s young husband had disappeared into medical residency, laugh so hard that her gut split wide open and she had to have emergency surgery and got to spend two weeks in the hospital with no-one to care for but herself and her young husband was forced to look in on her at least once a day or look like a cretin to all his co-residents.

Um… yeah – I made that last part up, but Betty and her indomitable spirit did see me though some tough times. She is tough as nails, more resilient than a cast iron skillet and as funny as only a divorced, chain smoking mother of two living on an island off the Seattle coast can be.

Oh yes, she also lived in a great house.

Oh yeah – she also loved to garden.

Onions in the Stew is from the period in Betty’s life after she left her first husband the chicken farmer, moved back to Seattle, married her Scotsman, and found herself living on Vashon Island with a daily commute that involved a pre-dawn ferry boat ride.

This is a picture of Betty. Look at the lawnmower and those bangs! 

I think I will stop complaining about my hair now.

So if you don’t win the book, promise me you will go check it out in your library. Betty deserves it. And so does Don, the bellowing Scotsman. And so do her two girls, Anne and Joan. Go read her. You will laugh yourself silly.

To win Onions in the Stew tell me what you favorite book is in the comments. I will draw a random winner. Contest ends at 8 PM Sunday.

This contest has come to an end.

I have to blame Jean over at Renovation Therapy for my obsession with Grey Gardens. Several months ago she wrote something on her blog about Grey Gardens and it made me want to know more.   Eventually, I had the presence of mind to place both of the Grey Gardens documentaries in my Netflix queue.   A few weeks later, the two Grey Gardens films arrived.  I made a cup of tea and sat mesmerized through both films.

Firstly, Grey Gardens is about two crazy women… a mother and daughter… relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, living in squalor in a crumbling shingle style house on some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.  Secondly, Grey Gardens is about the house and the gardens and I can’t ever resist a movie about a great old house surrounded by a overgrown, abandoned garden.

In the film, the house is a wreck, with raccoons coming in and out the walls, but you can still see the faded glory of what once was. The mother, confined mostly to her stained mattress of a bed with feral kittens on her lap, eating carton after carton of ice cream, while her daughter… her fifty six year old daughter… completely steals the show with her dramatic outfits and head scarves and bathing suits and dance steps,  exhibiting the same faded glory of the house, she dances, she sings,  she talks… and talks and talks and then she talks some more.  Everything Edie says is crazy and also astonishingly erudite.  She eats ice cream and goes swimming and it was all captured on film by two documentary film makers who would go down in history for capturing a slice of American life… madness and blight… spirit and independence… squalor and valor in one amazing film.

After watching the two films I had to rush to my computer and see if I could find out what had happened to the women and to their house.  I found a link to a story about the renovation of Grey Gardens in 2005, House voyeurism at it’s finest.

I also found an interview with one of the film makers.  This interview gives you a great overview of what the films are about and why Edie was such a watchable character.  Every time I see pictures of her, it is so clear to me how much influence she has had on fashion today.
Would Anthropologie even exist without Edie?

We ordered several cabinets in our house in paint grade poplar in an attempt to hold costs down.

Ha ha ha heee hee ah ha ha ha ho ho hee hee hee ho ho ho har har har har.



Where was I?

Oh yes… saving money.

Can I just say that this tiny little cost saving measure in no way compensates for the thousands of “surprise costs” and “last minute changes” and “hidden expenses” and YOU BOUGHT WHAT!?!?! and HOW MUCH DID YOU SAY THAT EXTRA STEP ON THE SIDE PORCH COSTS???!!!???

So getting the paint grade cabinets was not only a very minor savings, in the grand scheme of things, it also gave us one more task to do ourselves which I have just been too weak and shaky to even think about…


The Country Doctor took all the boys on a camping trip last weekend. I decided to use that precious, golden, holy, sacred, blissful, gift of time alone to paint the stinking… not cost effective… not saving us any money… %$*#*#%^& mudroom cabinets.

I decided to make the cabinet doors into a chalkboard.

No mom, I did not use the magnetic/chalkboard paint. I could not find any magnetic/chalkboard in my small town hardware store and I was not about to drive 20 miles to the bigger town just for a can of magnetic/chalkboard paint. My family is just going to have to suffer and subsist on chalkboard only cabinets! How will they ever face another dawn?

Here is the dreary aftermath.

Here is where I started to paint the mudroom cabinets in the high gloss Killim Red paint that I bought right before Thanksgiving in order to have the mudroom cabinets painted by Christmas.

Ha ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hee hee hee ho ho ho har har har heh heh ho ho hee har ho.

Here is where I started to have serious misgivings about that high gloss Killim Red paint on my mudroom cabinets. Here is where I started to think that my mudroom cabinets were beginning to look like they were painted with left over fingernail polish from the Dollar store. Here is where I started to wonder if I was completely cracked out on cranberry sauce when I bought that high gloss Killim Red paint.

Here is where I thought about toning the cracked out glossy red paint down with a pale yellow interior on the inside of the cubbies.

Here is where I considered repainting the cabinets in Ralph Lauren Sun Washed Blue.

Here is my son Calder running in a local track meet on a Killim Red Track.

Here is his little brother Jack drinking a Ralph Lauren Sun Washed Blue Gatorade.

Here is where I received the sign and went ahead and finished off the cabinets in Killim Red.

Can you see the sign?

This very, very cute sign!

I  ordered this custom sign from one of the artisans at our hometown Tulip Fest.

When I walk in my mudroom, I try very hard not to look at the glossy garish killim red cabinets and I focus all my energy on this cute sign.

I am giving away one $60.00 gift certificate for a custom made sign for your own garish glossy mudroom…. or for any other room in your house. Your sign can say whatever you like! Cindy at Cindy’s Signs and Such will make it for you and I will ship it out.

Just tell me what your custom made sign would say in the comments. I will have a random drawing on Saturday to find the winner. Contest ends at noon CST on Saturday. Thanks for dropping by!