Natural Talent

One of Kate’s friends was joining a basketball team this year and they asked her if she wanted to join.

She has been practicing for a few weeks and just played in her second weekly game. So far basketball does not seem to be a sport she takes to naturally, but she has made a bunch of progress over the past two months!

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She has dramatically improved her dribbling, and is working on her basket-making skills. She’s getting there.

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To Be Read: 2016

I went through my bookshelf and separated all the books I haven't read yet into a To Be Read shelf...or two. 2016 resolution- here I come!

As part of my New Year’s Resolutions, I am working through my To Be Read shelf and tracking the books I read in an effort to be more mindful. I separated the books in the living room by categories: decoration, interviews, music, etc, and pulled out 33 books that I haven’t yet read. These are paper copies only- we are not counting the 80 something unread books on my Kindle or the unread books upstairs, in the nonfiction category or in the kids’ rooms! The goal here is threefold: to be more mindful about my reading by tracking and recapping the books I read, to clear out some more space on my shelves as I am not sure that all these will be books to keep and to get back in the habit of reading “real” books, instead of spending so much time mindlessly on my phone.

As I went through the books, arranged on the shelves in alphabetical order by author, I noticed a few themes: Jane Austen, pretty covers, stories about women. I’m not sure in what order I am going to tackle them: maybe by theme, probably by length and ease of reading (especially during those crazy crunch times). As I finish each book, my goal is to write a short post that captures my impressions or feelings about it, then link to the post here so that I have an a somewhat complete record of the year.

I say “somewhat complete” because these probably won’t be all the books I read this year. I have a bunch of unread books on my Kindle, quite a few preorders that will be coming, a whole slew of holds at the Library, not to mention reading club. What a difficult problem to have!

  • The Truth About Mr Darcy by Susan Adriani
  • 52 Loaves by William Alexander
  • Mr Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston
  • I Love You More than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  • The Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley
  • The Weed the Strings The Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley
  • Exiles in America by Christopher Bram
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
  • Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch
  • The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
  • Under Wildwood by Meloy Ellis
  • The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
  • Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink by Kim Gruenenfelder
  • Mrs Kimble by Jennifer Heigh
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  • Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
  • Land Girls by Angela Huth
  • The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo
  • Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James
  • The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James
  • The One I left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
  • The Ladies Auxilliary by Tova Mirvis
  • Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  • What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
  • The Frog Prince by Jane Porter
  • Mrs Perfect by Jane Porter
  • The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley
  • French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
  • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
  • The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester

2016 Garden Plans

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I’ve been thinking and planning (and pinning!) ideas for the yards this year. Carolyn, Wonder Gardener, also has a bunch of ideas, and I’m looking forward to really tackling the back yard this summer. In addition to the driveway side yard and putting in the steps in the other side yard, I wanted to do some work on the back patio…in fact, redo the back patio. Eddy and I (and the kids, but let’s be honest, probably mostly Eddy) can do a lot of the manual labor, but we will need some help designing and working through the steps of the project.

The goal for the patio is to make it a more comfortable place to be outside. It’s a little small right now, disconnected from the rest of the yard and it drives me nuts that I can’t sweep it clean. I’d like to enlarge the patio to curve around in front of the deck stairs and get rid of the awkward bit with the rose bush and strange ground cover. I’ve seen some beautiful ideas for concrete planters, and would love to have a big one that doubles as a seat as the dividing area between underneath the deck and the patio. I’d love to rebuild the pond with a proper pond liner, put steps in between the house and the pond and make it less beachy in general by using concrete or brick pavers instead of gravel. Basically, I want something that is smooth to walk on when barefoot, large enough to entertain and that won’t get torn up when Stella goes running through it chasing after Penelope.

I’ve also been considering the area where the berries used to be, and the side yard on the north side of the house. Eddy built one raised garden bed last year and I want to build a few more this year. We had planted some flowering shrubs (azalea, heather, rhododendron) on that side, but I would move them to the other side of the yard, more in the shade as a nice counterbalance to the area next to the pond. Once we redo the pond, we will probably need to recreate the overflow area. We have a ton of rocks that could be used for a rock stream bed, and will have even more once the patio is redone. This will make a nice border and overflow area for the plants next to the pond. I’d also love to beef up the area under the tree where we have the hostas and heucheras that kept getting eaten by slugs last year. Finally, I’ve been reminded of how much I love gardenias by the pins that keep popping up when I go on Pinterest, but I don’t know if they would be suitable for the space. If they are, though, I would love to have some!