National Book Festival 2016


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2016 National Book Festival poster by Yuko Shimizu

Yesterday I had a fabulous day downtown at the National Book Festival 2016. I went with 4 friends, who are all kindred souls when it comes to love of words. We arrived downtown ready to look around the festival, hear a speaker or two, and do a little shopping. Amazingly, at least to me, within the space of a few hours we each heard three authors speak and had multiple signed books.

Keep reading for highlights of the day and lessons we learned!

Artist: Yuko Shimizu.  Downloadable pdf from

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Fall Book Club Treat


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I thought it would be fun to add some book club related tablescapes and recipes to help with hosting your own book club parties.

The above image is from my book club meeting a week ago. We read and discussed Fall of Giants by Ken Follet and the hostess offered this cute and yummy fall treat. Continue reading

Textured Concrete


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After – stamped concrete walkway

Our driveway and walkway needed replacing. The driveway was cracked asphalt and the walkway was made of large stone pavers which had settled and were no longer safely situated. Our railings were cited in the home inspection report for being rusted at the bottoms and I really wanted them gone, but couldn’t because there were three steps up to the entrance. Three steps or more requires railings.



BEFORE…Uneven Stone Pavers and ugly railing

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Trill Hill, Part Two


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A date to Trill Hill…see part 1 here

Out of the blue the gentleman who had picked her up from the train station and driven her to the youth convention 8 months earlier phoned. He invited her for a drive on Trill Hill, followed by a picnic lunch. She accepted the date, and as she looked forward to it and prepared for this intriguingly romantic date, this is what she imagined:

Video from YouTube.  Uploaded by Sue Prida. Words by George Vaugh Horton

He was to arrive at 11, but her Uncle, whose family she was living with at the time called out, “someone is coming.” Continue reading

Trill Hill, Part One


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This is a short story from our paternal grandparents about how they met…

It was September of 1939, and in a spurt of good will and benevolence he  volunteered to pick up someone from the train station in Mitchell, South Dakota, for a Christian youth convention he and some friends from Bonesteel, SD were attending.

The day had a hectic start for her, as her car ran out of a gas before she made it very far. A neighbor was kind enough to drive her to her point of embarkment, and she made the train to Mitchell on time. The convention was to be at her alma matter Dakota Wesleyan University.


Image of her on her Uncle’s farm 1939

With his girlfriend in the front passenger seat, and two friends in the back, he arrived on time for the prearranged pickup. She climbed into the back seat and away they went bouncing and jouncing along in his old jalopy, which he had bought with the money he saved from running the milk route for his parent’s farm.


Image from  Hair slicked back for a family photo. Not sure of the date of photo,  circa 1936

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Moving a Mail box


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Melanie showed you how to revamp a tired mailbox here, but what if your mailbox does not work in the spot the builder dropped it? Consider moving it.

Our house has a grassy strip between our driveway and the neighbors driveway. On this curb is where we have both been putting the trashcan on pickup days, but we have both been having a problem with our mailboxes, which are on the other sides, being blocked by cars.


Old spot and unpainted, therefore non HOA compliant post


The builder will usually drop the mailbox on opposite sides of neighboring driveways rather that putting them together. For our court that was a problem. We have a large number of teenagers on the court, so for a few years will have a larger number of cars that need to park there. If you do not leave enough clearance for the mailman you will get a notice reminding that you must do so, even if the car blocking the mail truck access is not one of yours.

We talked to our neighbor and asked how they would feel about moving the mailboxes to the center strip. She asked her sister-in-law who is a postal supervisor of some type and we checked the property platte. The first 2 feet of the grassy strip does not belong to either of us, it is set aside for utilities etc. Perfect!  As their post needed to be replaced and ours was non-compliant with HOA covenants regarding paint when we moved in, we opted to get two new posts and paint them the designated HOA green.


We plotted out how we wanted the new area to look by arranging bricks that would provide the separation between lawn and post area. The bricks will be sunk into ground for ease of mowing. you can see their mailbox there. Usually there is a car parked right in front of that mailbox too. Continue reading

The Lantern – Book Club


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Image source:

If your book club is planning selections for fall already, you might want to consider The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson. It is a gothic tale best read when the days shorten and summer days are only just beginning to fade to memory. We read this in one of my book clubs for our October reading several years ago; in my view, it was the perfect book for that month. Continue reading

The Stolen Firetruck


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firetruck image from: (although grandma said their town’s truck was yellow)

This story from our Grandmother is a circa 1932 memory about life in an oil boom town, known as Crane, Texas.

The fire station had a shiny new firetruck with a siren!  This was big news and of great fascination for all, in particular the teens of the town. The town did not have a garage for the truck so it was left parked behind the fire station with the key in the ignition. Continue reading

West With the Night – Book Club


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West With the Night by Beryl Markham

“A lighted ship- the daybreak- some steep cliffs standing in the sea. The meaning of these will never change for pilots. If one day an ocean can be flown within an hour, if men can build a plane that so masters time, the sight of land will be no less welcome to the steersman of that fantastic craft. He will have cheated laws that the cunning of science has taught him how to cheat, and he will feel his guilt and be eager for the sanctuary of the soil.”

An amazingly free spirited woman, Beryl Markham was a bush pilot, horse breeder/trainer, and the first person to fly across the Atlantic from East to West. She is also the author of her own memoir of growing up in East Africa, and piloting experiences flying from remote corner to remote corner of Africa.  She wrote West with the Night in the early 1940s, but it disappeared from publication after just a few years.  A reference to the book was discovered in Earnest Hemingway’s letters and memoirs, and after some research, this book was re-released in the 1980s. It has been enjoyed by new readers ever since. Continue reading

Mailbox Makeover – Instantly Upgrade Your Curb Appeal


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$500 for a mailbox and post! No way! Do it for next to nothing. It’s really very easy to do.

Every time I would go to get the mail the entire upper portion would shake as I struggled to pull the plastic mailbox door open. Each time I was nervous that this faded box with peeling stickers was finally going to fall off and come crashing to the ground. It had one small rusty bracket attached to the backside that was preventing this from happening. There was also some old caulk between the cross beam and the upper post that was dirty and worn, but was also just barely doing it’s job. Continue reading