About Me

Learning to Listen: A Sermon about How I Became a Nurse

I have given three sermons in my life so far. The first was in October of 2007 when I gave the annual Laity Sermon for my church on the topic of becoming an oncology nurse. My wonderful husband tracked down the audio on an old computer. It was originally recorded on CD.  The audio of the sermon is at the bottom of this post, under the photo. The sermon itself is about 18 minutes long. The audio continues after with the hymn and the benediction. You can listen to my two other more recent sermons via links in this post.  I am really proud of the effort that went into all three of these sermons and feel that they are the best things I have written. It was actually wonderful to re-listen to the sermon from 2007 and find it really held up for me, although part of me wanted to reach out to younger me and give her a hug for all that was in store for her future. I hope they speak to you. If you haven’t listened to any of them yet, I would start with the most recent, Making Peace with Uncertainty from 8/30/2020, then listen to 2007 and then listen to 2019. A lot happened between 2007 and 2008. The sermons from 2019 and 2020 are in the blog post just before this one. You can scroll right down or link here. I have written so many posts since I started this blog back in 2015 to track my sewing projects and books I have read, but if you are here for the non-sewing writing, this post is one that about sewing but really about life-is one that is really meaningful to me-I a really proud of it- and if you are interested in my Unplugged Sundays project, I wrote about it here and here.

About Me, unplugged

Making Peace with Uncertainty

Hello friends,

I am trying to take a social media break but wanted to share that today, I gave a sermon in my lovely church (socially distanced-church is remote) and it was on the topic of dealing with uncertainty.

It is pretty ecumenical and not too preachy (thanks to my daughter for her edits and feedback).

If you want to listen, click on the link and go to minute 25.

I wore my favorite me-made outfit of the year, my Made by Rae Emerald top in white double gauze and Rose linen pants.

A funny thing was that just this morning right before I went in, I learned that I was also doing the prayer, which I hadn’t prepared. I tried googling pastoral prayers. No help! I ended up writing something inspired by something Tsh said about feeling surrounded by fog. I have followed her and loved her writing for years. If you don’t know her, you should.

Also, the Lent Devotional that I used and loved is called Every Broken Thing. It is the work of Erin Moon and her work with the bible binge podcast is bringing me joy right now. I miss seeing her posts on instagram but am finding that I really need to stay away, at least until after the election.

This is the third sermon I have given. The first one I gave was in 2007 about becoming a nurse. You can listen to it here.  I gave one last year on navigating hard times. It is a bit of a tear jerker but ultimately uplifting. Maybe not what you want to listen to right now but if you are interested in listening, you can find it in this post here.

Hope you are all safe and well!


About Me, unplugged

(mostly) analogue April

For the month of April, I took a break from social media. It was just what I needed.

I read a lot of books. These were my favorites.




I finished some sewing projects including these Made by Rae cotton knit Jade tops. They have become wardrobe staples.





I have been mixing and matching them with my many Cleo skirts that I made in 2016.



A big highlight of the month was the weekend my husband and I spent in NYC celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We stayed in Red Hook, a neighborhood on South Brooklyn waterfront that I had always wanted to explore. We had a great time. We walked everywhere, rode Citi Bikes, ate great food and enjoyed the first really sunny weekend of the spring.










On Sunday afternoon we explored beautiful Greenwood Cemetery.


I finished my analogue month catching up on some letter writing.

Snail mail takes time but it is so much more satisfying to write and receive. I usually start out writing on a postcard and run out of space so the postcards end up in an envelope with several written pages.

I am partway through my list of people to write so if you haven’t gotten a letter, you may still! I wanted to draw a little map for our kids when I wrote to them about our trip but I am not very good at drawing so I had the idea to print a picture of a map (very low tech, I screenshot a picture from mapquest) and then I drew in some of the places we went. I used the blank side of the paper for my letters. It worked great! A fun idea that I will do again. (I love these New Yorker postcards-they make letter writing more fun.

With May Day tomorrow, I have total spring fever. My bulbs are blooming and I am ready for warmer weather.

I am thinking that one month on and one month off may be a good plan for me as a way to manage social media. This little break was just what I needed. Happy Spring!

About Me, Quilting, Sewing

Birds in Flight

Almost 22 years ago, my brother got married. I had been a quilter for five years and loved hand quilting best of all and I decided to make a quilt as a wedding gift for him and his wife Amy. My brother is an ornithologist and has loved birds since he was a child so I decided to find a block that evoked birds. It is so many years ago now that I am not sure of the original source of the block I chose. I had thought it came from “The It’s Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book” by Mary Ellen Hopkins but now looking through it, I am not finding it so I must have found it in another of my many quilting books. I decided to make a queen sized quilt. I am nothing if not ambitious. I had just moved to a new old house and had three children who were adjusting to a new home and neighborhood  and one of the children was an infant. I am pretty sure I started this either right before the wedding or right after (the wedding was in September of 1995 and we had moved to our new old house in June of that year.) In my mind at the time,  it would be fine because you have a year to give a wedding gift and still be within acceptable rules of etiquette (not sure if that is actually true.) And so I started piecing blocks using mostly blues and browns and reds.

Meanwhile, two children were starting a new school, one infant refused to sleep under any circumstances and systematically, things broke and needed replacing and repairing in our new old house. Since I had stopped working to be home with my kids, we were pretty tight for money so I was stripping wall paper and painting and shoveling while the baby napped. It snowed a lot. That winter the first 18 inch snowstorm was before Thanksgiving and there were many more significant storms that cancelled school so I had to find ways to entertain three kids. I baked a lot. I was getting nowhere fast on this quilt. So I arranged for my amazing quilting teacher and professional quilter to machine piece the top, figuring that the hand quilting which is what I was best at and enjoyed most would be doable.

I sent Judy the blocks I had been able to finish, all of the accumulated fabric that I thought would work and instructions to fill in where necessary, apply her own creative vision and do her best. She sent me back the top beautifully pieced, basted and with the bias binding sewn and ready to go and so I started quilting. I like to juxtapose straight line piecing such as triangles and squares with curved quilting. I love the look and feel of traditional cotton batting (as did Judy) so the top was pieced with Blue Ribbon cotton batting which recommends quilting no further than one inch apart. I decided to quilt the center of the quilt with a traditional fan pattern using a template I owned and to then quilt the borders with another pattern to be determined later. I had quilted a large lap sized quilt with a similar traditional design using a clam shell pattern for the main center portion of the quilt. I found doing that quilt that it worked best to quilt from back to front because it was so much easier to mark and see the chalk lines so I decided to do that in this case as well. First I quilted a rectangle of stitches along the main lines that enclosed the central design by eye from the front to back. Then I determined how I would orient the quilt and chose a corner to start in and then quilted the first fan and then quilted it in rows in an L shape. The fan template has a center corner fan that is larger than the fans that spread off in two directions so after completing the first L I then would start the next L shaped row working my way diagonally across the center rectangle of the quilt.The corner that you see in the picture above is actually the last corner to be quilted. The corner that I started on is at the top right hand corner of the picture.

The quilting was very slow going. I continued to work on the quilt when I had time but as a stay at home mom to three kids, I had trouble making very quick progress and missed my one year wedding gift deadline. I think I sent something else as a gift in the meantime. I certainly hope so. A couple years after moving to Connecticut and starting the quilt, I joined a new quilting group. This was a great joy to me as I had missed my Brooklyn quilting community. I worked on the quilt every time we met and sometimes in between and in my mind, I think I decided that if this was a great wedding gift, it would also be a great 5 year anniversary gift so I relaxed a bit and kept quilting. I took it with me on vacations to Maine. I even took it on a vacation to London and Paris. I took it to Arizona and Massachusetts. Four years in, I probably had completed about a quarter of the center area and thought I would power through and get it done in year five. And then in the early part of 2000, I had a heart attack. This threw me and my family for a loop. I kept quilting but I wasn’t powering through much that year. Later that year my quilting group disbanded when a member moved away. I kept on working on the quilt but I was being pulled in many directions as many of us are and my progress was slow. I might have thought I would focus on the ten year anniversary, I am not even sure now but in 2005, my children’s father and I separated and life became really quite difficult for the next ten years. Many things happened and I did many things from 2005 to 2015 but sewing was not one of them. We moved several times and I moved the quilt along with us. In my heart of hearts, I feared that I would never finish the quilt and I felt bad because of all the effort that Judy had put into creating something beautiful but during those ten years I was in school and working two jobs, 7 days a week and trying my best to parent my kids with the limited time I had and that is the way it was.

But in 2014, I moved to another new old house that had a small room that I converted into a sewing room and started sewing again in the little bits of time I could find after work and on days off. I took out the quilt and bought more quilting thread since I had lost or misplaced many things during the many moves. I couldn’t find my fan template so I searched online and had to buy two before I found the right size but I found a match and started back on my rows of fans. In 2016, I made a commitment to stop working Sundays and spent many Sunday afternoons quilting and listening to audio books. At the beginning of this year, I had about 75% of the center portion of the quilt done and I decided to aim to finish it this year. The picture below was taken this May with the center fans completed when I was working on the borders.I also made a plan to visit my brother and his family in South Carolina where they have lived for 18 years and where I had never been due to time and money constraints. I finished the center portion of the quilt just about a month ago and then quilted all of the borders during the month of May. I had planned to take some days off from work and basically spent almost all of my free time quilting. My fingers were very sore but after so much time, I was very focused on finishing the quilt in time to bring it to South Carolina myself rather than mailing it. The photo below was taken on May 18th which shows you how much more I had to do at that point.I finished the center fans around the second week in May and quilted another row of fans around the outer border of the quilt, I outlined the triangles in the pieced border (quilting from the right side just visually, not marking the lines) and quilted another inner border between the triangles and the center fans with another template seen below. When I was done, there was a bit of a gap between the triangles and the outer fans border so I added a line of stitching between. The triangles are outlined in navy rather than the gold thread that I used for the rest of the quilt because I spent several hours demonstrating hand quilting at a quilt show at our church probably about ten years ago and left my gold thread at home and used what I had in my bag. I ended up liking the look so did all of the triangles in the blue.Starting the corner of the outer fan border below. My stitches above are not as neat and tiny as they were 22 years ago (see below) but I had a goal in mind and speed and finishing was my priority at this point. I think 22 years of life teaches you that sometimes done is better than perfect. My current motto is “Good enough is good enough” which has worked well for me these last ten years.At one point I realized that I was quilting the final stitches very close to the first stitches I ever sewed. I thought about my 34 year old self who had started this quilt and all that had gone on in those intervening 22 years and all the ups and downs that this quilt had accompanied. It was really something to consider. So many things have happened to me and my family and many I never anticipated. Sort of like a marriage. It is one thing to make the leap into marriage but another to get up each day and show up and be present and stick through the good and the bad and the completely unexpected. So in the end, I think this quilt may be almost 22 years late but possibly it is right on time. My brother and his wife have created a beautiful family over these 22 years and I am sure a lot of work went into it.

I found that when I got to the corners of the inner border that there was no good way to start and stop the border at the corners. I also noticed that at one point, I might have thought a row of blue stitches was a good idea or maybe I just sewed them during the quilting demonstration expecting to take them out after. I just left them. I hadn’t even seen them until I looked up close.My brother has two sons and that is when I realized that this was really a family gift rather than a couple gift and I quilted each of their four initials into a corner of the border. Here is an S for one of the boys. (reversed since you are seeing it from the back.)Binding and finishing below.

It was quite something to sew the last stitch.

A close friend who is a long time quilter brought over champagne to celebrate the completion of the quilt and then it was off to South Carolina in my carry on bag.

I was not about to risk checking it after all these years.

About Me, unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: Welcoming 2017

I am not someone who chooses a word for my year, although I respect the thought that many give to this and I learn from their choices. I did have some plans/goals/intentions for my new year and most of them revolved around health-daily yoga, less sugar, etc. On January 1, 2017, I worked a day shift at the hospital and walked out into sunshine-a rare thing because this time of the year it is usually dark when I leave work. So I decided to start my year with a walk on the beach. I am so lucky to live within driving distance of Long Island Sound. I love the late afternoon light. It is truly the golden hour.

In 2016, I made a resolution to have unplugged Sundays. What this meant for me was that I did not sign up to work any shifts at the hospital on a Sunday and I tried to stay off social media. The work part of this was actually a big shift for me. For almost ten years, I have worked 6-7 days a week which was a financial necessity. This has been challenging and so making the commitment to keep this day free was a huge positive shift. Working Sundays kept me away from regular church going which I missed and in 2016 I was able to return to this which truly fed my soul-for me it is my weekly re-set button. I had thought that my unplugged Sundays would enable me to sew more, read more and do more of the things that I enjoy, and it did. But what I didn’t appreciate until I was actually living these days and documenting them (I posted a weekly picture on instagram with the hashtag #myunpluggedsundays) is how much keeping the day totally unscheduled and unplanned and having time to just think and be spontaneous would be healing for me and would inspire new ideas. This was probably the best part of keeping this commitment to myself. This and having weekly early morning quiet time to read.

2017 started off so beautifully. I was still pondering my resolutions and had jotted down some ideas. I wanted to take time each day for yoga since I have neglected my physical body amid work and other priorities. So after my beach walk I came home and did Day 1 of Yoga with Adrienne’s Yoga Revolution series. I did about half of her 30 Days of Yoga earlier in the year and loved it. We had a nice family dinner with my husband and the three children who were home for the holidays and I went to bed feeling excited for a day off on January 2nd and the time and space to start the new year right. And then life happened as it so often does. I got up and went for a short walk and started to feel worse and worse and went home, went straight to bed and stayed there for 2 days with fever, chills, sweats, nausea. My daughter was sick as well.

I had to laugh. Whenever I try to strongly impose my will on life, life pushes back and reminds me that I am not in charge. A bit of a spiritual re-adjustment. But interestingly what this next week of not avoiding sugar, (all we could do was drink ginger ale), not doing yoga (ha!) and not doing all those things on my to do list (take down the tree, finish some sewing projects, write my new years resolutions) did for me is to give me time to think. And what I thought about is that the best thing that my 2016 unplugged Sunday project did for me is to help me see that creating space in my life for thinking, creating, following my spontaneous idea in the moment-whether it be to take a walk, cook a nice dinner, sew up an unplanned project-was way more valuable than I had realized. The phrase “create space” is something that many yoga teachers I have studied with use and in 2016, I learned that it is something that I need to be intentional about because I reap tremendous benefits when I do it. In 2016, I got some ideas for writing pieces, one of which is going to be published next month, that came to me as I went on a spontaneous walk after church. I made connections about relationships, my own life’s goals, ways I want to grow. Life is so full of great ideas, images, content that is coming at us from all directions. I love it all. I love the books I read, the bloggers I follow, the photographs and amazing projects and ideas I see on instagram and the great conversations I have at work and at home but I know now that I also need quiet. I need space to think. Even when I don’t think I do. So in 2017, my resolution will be to Create Space for myself in a systematic way by scheduling it into my week. These are some ideas I am going to try out to make this happen.

I am going to continue to keep Sundays unplugged from work, media and plans whenever possible. In 2016, I did this for about 6 months straight and then work got busy and I ended up going in most Sundays to catch up on paperwork. Part of the challenge to keeping Sundays unplugged for me is to be more time efficient during the week so that all the paperwork gets done and I don’t have to go in on a Sunday. This also applies to other chores, errands etc. I try to get them done on the weekdays so I don’t have to do them on Sunday. I have found that this is really worth doing. I should mention that this blogger who I follow religiously recently talked about the concept of a monthly think day on her podcast. I think many of us are trying to figure this out.

I am going to try to have a Quiet Hour each evening before I go to bed to read, write, think. I have trouble sleeping and I have found that if I get into a big conversation with a family member as I am getting tired, it works against my ability to fall asleep. I also am going to try to keep that hour free from media. I also plan to read this book to see if I can gain some insights into improving my focus. It was recommended by this book whisperer who I have written about so many times before and whose podcast I listen to religiously.

I am going to try to do yoga daily and do some form of physical activity outdoors most days. I need to get outside and I need to make that a priority.

I am going to try to find time to write a couple of times a week. What that looks like for me could be blog posts, handwritten letters to people who live far away from me, maybe another piece for publication. When my children were little and we spent summers in Maine, I started a weekly letter writing night. I was inspired by a book I read. It might have been this one by Elizabeth Berg but I am not sure. Each Tuesday evening after dinner, each child wrote one letter to a family member and one letter to a friend and could write more if they chose. I made it fun by buying a bunch of postcards and other pretty stationary which I kept in a box. This was before email was a big thing and in any event we were intentionally screen-free all summer. They could walk the stamped mail over to our big mailbox at the end of the driveway and were very happy when they got mail back. It was one of the things I did as a parent that I am so glad I did, along with family dinners, quiet reading before bed and nature walks/hikes. So much of the time you are a parent to young children, you are trying so hard to do all the things right and it isn’t for years in many cases that you can look back and think about what really made a difference. Letter writing night was definitely one of those for me.

Other goals/intentions: to finish some unfinished sewing projects, to write another piece for possible publication, to eat more healthfully, to read books recommended to me by my daughters, to make zucchini noodles (!) with the spiralizer my daughter got me for Christmas.

Things I am excited for in 2017: trips already planned (tickets purchased!) to see my daughter and son who live in other states, a planned long weekend away with my husband for the first time since we were married almost nine years ago (omg), a planned road trip to see my brother this spring, sewing, reading, life.

I love a new beginning and today, on January 7th, as I watch beautiful snow fall on a rare Saturday when I am not at work, I am full of hope. What are you excited for in 2017?img_4479-1

About Me, Reading and Books, unplugged

Nursebean Reads: October 2016-100 books and counting

I wrote earlier this year here and here about how in 2016,  I have been reading quite a bit more than is usual for me and earlier this week, 286 days into the year to be exact, I read my 100th book of the year. Thank you Goodreads for keeping track!

My 100th book, The Mothers,  was the wonderful debut novel written by an incredibly talented 26 year old. The novel started out as her senior thesis. I loved it and read it in two evenings. Interestingly, leading up to #100 are several lighter reads. Sometimes, particularly when I am tired, I can’t focus well enough to tackle a weightier book and will read lighter things-cozy mysteries, YA, chicklit-until I get my focus back. I also read less when I sew more; and I did a lot of sewing this year. I have learned to take it in stride.

The day after I reached #100 was almost more momentous because 2+ months after I started listening to it, I finished all 35 hours and 40 minutes of this audio book read by Maggie Gyllenhaal which I purchased from audible on sale for just a few dollars. Totally worth it. Sadly no longer on sale.  I started it back in August when I had the idea of Power Reading the Classics.  I listened to it to and from work and occasionally while cooking, sewing or going for walks. My Classics challenge didn’t work out as I planned but I am trying to incorporate more classics interspersed with my other reads.

Reading this many books is kind of a big deal for me because my normal number of books read has averaged about 30 for the last several years.



While it is still quite a lot, more than 2 per month, my former speed was not a pace which made me feel as though I would ever make a dent in the long list of books I wished I had read. And now, even though the list is growing at a much faster pace than it ever did thanks to my book whisperers:  Catherine, Lindsey and Anne, I am confident that I will find the time to read many, though certainly not all, of the books I want to read.

Most of the books I read this year I have loved or liked a lot. I only have a few in the 2 or 3 star category (I haven’t really read something I couldn’t like at least a little bit). You can see a few of them below. The less than loved books are things I picked up on impulse from the library or on sale on kindle. I don’t regret reading them but I am trying to be more intentional about my book choices since there are so many wonderful books I know I want to read-many of them recommendations from the WSIRN podcast-can’t recommend it more highly.

The podcast, which I listen to religiously every Tuesday morning, asks guests to name a book they hate. I can’t say that I hated anything I read, but I didn’t love one title, which you can see hanging out all alone in the two star line on my Goodreads YTD summary. Part of the summary is above and part is below since there were too many books to screenshot and capture them all. The ones below are all 4’s and 5’s and were all great reads.

I tend to alternate more literary reads with murder mysteries and the occasional chick-lit and this year I read some great YA books that I found via Modern Mrs. Darcy. Memoir is my favorite genre and I have read almost 20 memoirs and more than 25 non-fluffy novels so far this year, all of which have been terrific. I read 3 classics (although AK should count for at least 2 all by itself) and want to read more. I have listened to 23 audio books out of a total of 102 books read this year, most of which really enhanced the experience of the book because of the wonderful narration. The main thing that has helped me read more has been devoting a couple of hours in the early morning each week to read. I have missed one or two Sundays due to work but that unplugged time is what gets me on track, helps me finish something I have started or get a good start on a new book. I find that once I am into the story, I want to keep going and having that time really makes the difference. Right after finishing the Mothers, I started Commonwealth, the new book by Ann Patchett. I read it in a night. So so good.


My current reading list features two great new novels, a lengthy but so interesting non-fiction book about genetics by one of my favorite authors and Jane Austen. On audio, I am listening to the new Flavia DeLuce mystery. What could be better?

You can link to my other posts on books and reading here, here and here.

About Me, Maine, unplugged

Maine Minibreak


img_3119I have written here before about Maine and how much summers there meant to me and my kids as they were growing up.

Time and finances are in much shorter supply now and so trips to Maine have been less frequent and much shorter but I still try to make the time count. In a funny way, even the short trips end up being very powerful emotionally because of all the memories.

Last week, my daughter and I took a quick two and a half day trip to some of our old haunts. We left Connecticut feeling grateful to have missed a big storm since Hurricane Hermine turned out to be much less of a storm than anticipated. We got to the island around 5:30 on the Tuesday after Labor Day and headed straight to my favorite watering hole.img_3238 Amazingly, I was the only person there. I dove right in. After not having swum in fresh water for over a year, it felt like a baptism of sorts.  My daughter captured it in her photos. I want to hold onto this feeling all winter. The best.img_3185We had lobsters on the pier that evening and did a brief drive around the island to some of our favorite spots the next day. A beautiful spot where we used to go to watch the sun set:img_3249The big rock that we would walk to along a huge pond/lake and swim off of (I swam there this trip too. Delightful!)img_3303


img_3307I love the late afternoon light through the trees.img_3301You don’t really get a sense for how big this rock is unless you see it from the water. All of the stone formations were created by glaciers.img_3308Walking back along the lakeside path.img_3309At the pond’s end, the water framed by the mountains. In previous summers, my kids and I climbed all of these. Such wonderful memories. We didn’t have time to hike this trip but hopefully next year.img_3310We made time for ice-cream. Bay of figs = awesome. My first experience eating fig ice-cream but hopefully not my last.img_3268We ate our ice-cream peering out from behind a wall made of several rows of long window boxes. A really beautiful idea for framing a small patio. I loved seeing the sunlight through the leaves.img_3277The next day we got sandwiches from our favorite bakery and ate them at a beautiful butterfly garden. Despite many trips to this place, I had never gone to this spot. It was just lovely and we had it all to ourselves. One of our traditions with the kids was to try something new each trip and this short trip, we managed to do several new-to-us things. Really fun.img_3294The garden looks out over the water to the peninsula where there is a pool club that we belonged to when the kids were small. img_3297Many wonderful afternoons were spent there swimming in the salt water pool. The water above is cut off from the ocean by a bridge/ causeway and my kids used to jump off the bridge to the ocean side when the tide was coming in and be whooshed under the bridge carried by the incoming tide. You had to time it just right. Thrilling!

The next day I had a wonderful visit with a good friend who took me to a private garden (she had tickets). So beautiful. I loved these feathery flowers in the woodland setting.img_3315And the pattern that these stems make. Like a ladder or a braid.img_3320My absolute favorite flowers were the Japanese anemones. The bees agreed with me. There were so many buzzing around these flowers. I love the little round globes that are the buds. Such beautiful shapes. Zoom in to see the bees!img_3331


img_3333After about two and half days, it was time to head back to reality. The morning we left was a bit foggy and so beautiful. That sky!img_3356Until the next visit!img_3178


About Me, Made By Rae Patterns, Reading and Books, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, unplugged

Nursebean Takes a Minibreak


Getting ready to sew on day 1 of my mini-break.img_2259Summer can sometimes be a challenging time for me. Social media is flooded with vacation photos of beaches and mountains and faraway places (the pictures of Norway and Sweden are amazing) but probably the hardest pictures to see are pictures of cabins in the woods on beautiful clean lakes. It makes me want to just jump into the picture. This one is from a real estate listing is exactly the kind that gives me pangs.maine lake imageBut it turns out that being at home can also be wonderful. I used to spend summers in Maine. I was incredibly lucky and I will always treasure those summers. But that is just not my life right now. I work two jobs and I don’t have the money or time off to travel. But one benefit to not having a lot of time off is that when you finally do take a break, you appreciate it so much. I recently had 5 days off in a row. I didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t really do anything fancy or extravagant but I had a great time. Here is what I did.

I read several books-all of which were engaging summer reads that did not require much from me. The stories drew me in and carried me along. I got most of the book suggestions from Anne Bogel. The graphic novel was a book club read. Sort of Roz Chast on steroids. Weird but funny. I particularly enjoyed reading in early morning. Here’s what I read:

I spent a lot of time on my front porch-reading and eating simple meals both alone and with some of my kids who were home for part of the weekend. Lunch on the porch below:img_2279I made a nice breakfast with home made berry muffins for my family, most of whom were with us. It was great to have a big group around the table. I used the pretty china and picked wild flowers from the garden. I love big family gatherings centered around a nice meal and my kids live far away so this was a treat for me. We also had a taco night with part of the group the night before and a dinner out at a favorite restaurant with my two daughters and son in law. It is a place we had gone to many times when they were younger so that was a special evening.

Staying on the topic of food, I ate a lot of tomato and fried egg sandwiches-both separately and together. If I had to pick one favorite food it would probably be fresh summer tomatoes. I remember reading this book as a child and not really getting why the main character ate tomato sandwiches every day for lunch but I get it now. I could be perfectly happy doing that. Or alternating with a fried egg sandwich with avocado on good bread. These are my new favorite meals. Quick, inexpensive, delicious. My husband bought this mayonnaise by mistake one day and it turns out to be the secret ingredient.

img_2261I sewed, sewed, sewed. But I didn’t treat the sewing as a chore. I did a couple of hours of sewing every day. I listened to music while I sewed.  When it started to feel like a chore, I switched gears and read or did yoga. I completed three garments:  a Ruby Dress for myself and a Ruby Blouse for a friend:

and a new pair of Luna pants for me in a fun print.img_2350and I started work on a baby quilt for a friend. img_2386I decided to make a whole cloth quilt and hand quilt it. It was fun to make and not having to piece the top ended up making it less stressful. It also made the hand quilting much easier since there were no seam allowances. While I quilted, I listened to this audio book which is really terrific. Each of the sewing projects were things I had made before and which weren’t super complicated. This meant that I was able to complete a new garment in a day which was really fun. While I love trying new patterns, there is nothing like the tried and true pattern that you know by heart and which fits you well. Cut, sew, wear, repeat. Boom! 

I went to a great yoga class with my daughter and I did yoga on the porch the rest of the days. I am loving  30 days of yoga with Adrienneimg_2291I had a diner breakfast with my daughter and son in law and then my daughter and I got our toenails painted in summer colors before they flew back home to the mid-west. I miss her already. New Luna pants in the wild below. And then it was back to reality.img_2196At least I had a new dress to wear my first day back.img_2408

About Me, Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: August Classics Power-read

imageThis has been a great year for reading for me. After many years with not enough time, I have taken advantage of quiet weekend days and weekday evenings and all those little snippets of time waiting in line and in the morning when I drink my coffee and I have read a ton of books-80 so far this year to be exact. Here are some of my favorites:imageand also these:image

and these:

I have written before: here, here and here about what a huge impact the podcast What Should I Read Next? has had on my reading life. As the format is quite simple, I often imagine what I would answer to this question Anne asks her guests: What would you like to be different about your reading life? And generally I would answer, nothing. I am really happy with my reading life right now. But then, as I thought about it, I did have one nagging thought: there are a lot of books I feel I should have read and haven’t. Particularly since I am the daughter of an English professor. Yikes!

During the years I was in graduate school and busy with kids, I didn’t dwell on it because I had so little time to read that I wanted to just read what I liked-which was often a chick-lit or mystery book that would not require much of me. But now, with all the books I have found time for this year, I feel as though there is no excuse. And I am sure that if I make the time, I will be glad I did. They are classics for a reason right?

So I decided to create a little challenge for myself. I am going to devote one month, the month of August, to reading as many of the classics on my To Be Read list as I can fit in. I am preparing for this by downloading them onto my kindle because I find that when I read on my kindle, I read faster and I also toggle back and forth between my kindle and my phone so all those little extra 5 and 10 minutes waiting in lines etc become reading opportunities. Luckily, most classics are less than $1 and many are free on kindle. I bought all of Jane Austen earlier this year for 99 cents.

I will probably listen to at least one book on audio and I may splurge for an audible version to be able to toggle back and forth from written to audio using whispersync-something I learned about from Anne Bogel which seems genius to me. I am thinking Middlemarch might be the one, given its length.

I have started several of the books on my list multiple times and it is frustrating to feel as though I need to start over again but I think I will need to just do it to be able to get into the flow of the stories. I think that by not being tempted by library books, mysteries and beach reads, I will be more likely to make progress. Although I usually have about 5 different books going at once, I am going to try to read sequentially and see if that works better for me since I find I lose the thread of 19th century fiction when I don’t read the same book consistently.

I have six books on my list but I will just start with Persuasion on August 1st and will report back on how far down the list I get by the end of the month and what I loved/didn’t love about the books and the project.

I like the idea of having a defined time frame. It is sort of a whole30, only for books. Deciding to only read classics will take the guesswork out of book choices and will eliminate the temptation to pick something up from the new books section at the library. Knowing that I was able to make so much time for reading this year makes me confident that I will not be missing out on the the opportunity to read other books-I will just save them for September. Knowing that I plan to start this in three weeks is giving me the impetus to finish the books I am currently reading, including this one which is quite long but excellent so far.

How about you? Do you have books you are secretly embarrassed that you haven’t read? What would you put on your list for a month-long classics power-read? I would love to hear your thoughts.


About Me, Reading and Books, unplugged

Summer Sunday Unplugged


My jobs keep me at work 6 days a week but I have continued my New Year’s resolution and have kept Sunday free of work and scheduled activities and with only minimal screens. Yesterday was a wonderful day. Reading and having the time to finish a great book in the early morning quiet while everyone else slept, a wonderful yoga class with my daughter who was home for the weekend, salads on the porch for lunch, a bit of needed weeding for the garden and a long stretch of reading outside on the porch during the sunny, breezy day, topped off by a dinner of summer treats: guacamole, fried fish with a fruity salsa and strawberries for dessert outside on the porch with my husband and daughter (and our sweet dog Sadie).

Some days I miss the long days at the beach when my kids were little and our wonderful trips to Maine but a day like yesterday reminds me how enjoyable staying home can be.  It helps that I don’t plan any tasks and don’t really try to accomplish anything and it makes all the difference in the world that my new house has a porch and my neighbors have several big trees. It can feel a bit like being in a tree house, especially when the wind rustles through the leaves.

I love having long stretches of time to get into a new book or finish one I have been reading, both of which I was able to do yesterday.

Here is what I am reading:

image image

And The Abundance, essays by Annie Dillard. Fabulous books all.