Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: The Secrets of Mary Bowser

Title: The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Author: Lois Leveen
Format: Kindle
Reading Dates: May 8, 2013 - Jun 23, 2013
Rating: ***1/2

The Secrets of Mary Bowser imagines the life of a former slave, freed and educated in the North, who returns to Richmond right before the Civil War as a spy for the Union. I ran across the book as a Kindle Daily Deal, and I had to admit that the premise intrigued me especially since it was based on the life of  a real woman.

The first and second parts of the book chronicle Mary's life as a slave and as a freewoman gaining an education in Philadelphia. I found both a bit slow, but was fascinated by the description of the life of free blacks in the north and their interaction with white society.

The story really picked up when Mary moves back to Richmond to spy for the north. Leveen's account includes richly drawn characters living through a treacherous time for all. I found Leveen's arguments among the characters most enlightening as each struggled to define what it meant to be pro-Union and anti-slavery in a place where being both could be fatal.

Good book. Recommended.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I've Got Sunflowers on a Cloudy Day

I've already written about how great this book is.

Now look what I can make!

Did you know the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas? I learned that when I went to first and second grade in Kansas.

I'm a baseball mom. I like to eat sunflower seeds. These seeds look almost real.

Dictionary sunflower deliciousness.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Books and Circumstance

It's graduation time, and that leads me to constant reveries

You heard right. Hair.

I mean here I am getting ready for my high school graduation, and I can't contain all that hair under my hat. See that big curl sticking up on the right? By the end of the night, there was another one on the other side, and I looked like a wannabe devil as I crossed the stage.

Four years later there was even more hair and the cap is struggling to keep from slipping down my back as I shake hands with the dean. (And please nobody tell Mrs. Burns that my cap was not parallel to the floor.)

When I finally got my master's degree seventeen years later, I had chopped off most of my hair, but what was there still did its best to dislodge that mortarboard off the top of my head.

But enough about hair. We all know what graduation is really about.

That's right. Folded books.

Here are two that I folded for some of my favorite girls--Melanie, who recently graduated from college and Hannah, who graduated from high school.
I love the very cool retro design on these endpapers... 

and the vintage deliciousness of this design.
One of my new favorite things to do is to add a library pocket and card to the inside cover of a book, like this one I did for Hannah's book.


The library card is a perfect place to stuff a sweet sentiment...and a little sumpin-sumpin, if you're so inclined.

The book pages hide the pocket, so you can't see it when the book is displayed on a shelf. See?

Hidden away. Unlike my hair.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Adventures in Estate Sale Book Hunting: Mid-Century Wow!

I snagged this book recently at an estate sale. Its bright turquoise color (it's a lot brighter and turquoisier in real life) caught my eye. I thought it would make a great book vase.

And then I opened it.

Copyright 1956.

In pristine condition. (Check out those chairs!)

Mid-century wow!

Did you know gray can be contemporary? My house has gray walls. It's as if the mid-century gods have smiled on me and given me their blessing.

Did you know that you can start your scheme with a wallpaper pattern? Look for one steam engines and men on horses.


Well, maybe not everything the mid-century gods recommended was so Mad Men cool.

Case in point.

Or this beauty that in our family is known as an "Oh honey" house, because that's what my grandma said one time when she walked in and saw the flame-stitch wallpaper I had just hung in my kitchen.

On the other hand, there's this very stylish game room with built-in bookcases. I love bookcases

And do you see those books on the left? I'm pretty sure my mom and dad had that same set.

Of course they've got ideas for decorating bathroom in there, like this one.


Or these pink ones. If there's one thing I can say for the present, I think our bathrooms beat their bathrooms hands down.

That being said, this is a pretty cool sink.

Hey look! There's Rudy's g-g-grandmother!

And a shout-out to my very famous brother, Steve. Look! A built in puppet theater!

And a shout out to my mom and dad...Why didn't we have a popcorn machine like this one?

And a shout-out to my grandmother who use to have a wrap-around dining bar in her very mid-century cool home in rural Oklahoma in the 1960s.

This looks like an ad for West Elm. Check out that triangle glass table.

So did I make a find at that estate sale? Oh heck yeah!

So now the question is...vase or no vase?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cave Drawings

Sometimes they deceive you. They want you to think they are best friends. Nap-taking buddies.

But the rug in my TV room tells a different story...or maybe that's smells a different story. Rudy and Oreo have each claimed the room as their territory--several times each, if you know what I mean. So it's out with that old rug and... with new hardwood floors. Wahoo! But that meant removing that built-in entertainment center on the far wall.

What to do with all those shelves? Well, put 'em in the garage, or course. 

See them there on the right? And while we were at it, we moved the couch out there, too. Can you say man cave?

But wait! Look how much storage I have now for extra RDCBs!

All lined up with a different color on each shelf.  Sigh... Can you say woman cave?