Friday, May 20, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

I spent several hours on Sunday taking pictures at the local lakes.  

These geese in flight was taken at Lois Hole Centennial Park.  My first time there this spring.  The water levels are decent but not a lot of ducks.

The black birds were in good numbers and the geese were making their presence known with much honking.

There were a few skirmishes among them and furious protection of nests.  Goslings should be around very soon.

It was a great morning with beautiful weather.

On Monday, I took a trip north to visit Mom and take her to medical appointments.  

I stayed overnight at my sister's place and we went Tuesday morning to final the details for Dad's funeral next week.   He passed away May 12th in his sleep as he had wished.

I stopped at the honey farmers and picked up a pail of honey.  I have purchased my honey from these folks for years.  We had a bit of a visit and caught up on life.  I guess the winter has been hard on the beehives and some have been lost to temperatures.  Very distressing for the farmers.

I use mostly only honey for sweetening.  In my tea always.
Another book finished this week.  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  This is my third book by this author and I just loved it.

It is set in Scotland.  In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in a small cottage in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors Sophie and starts to write.

She seems to be very connected to Sophia. She writes then when researching discovered that what she has written is true.  How can that be?  Ancestral memory from Sophia maybe. 

The owner of the cottage she is renting has 2 sons who take an interest in the woman writer who moved into the cottage in winter.  One is a history professor in Aberdeen who visited his Dad most weekends.  These two connect over their common interest in the past.  This was a very good book and I would recommend it.

On Thursday, I dropped off another 10 blankets for Project Linus.  

These blankets were all made by my sister as I have not sewn a blanket since my health issues in 2020.  

Now with trying to sell my place I cannot have the place uprooted with a big project as it must be tidy most of the time.

I send these off with blessings to those who receive them in their time of need and distress.  May they be comforted by a warm blanket.

With a bit of rain the flowers have just opened up.

This was taken in my neighborhood.  They have a beautiful front lawn filled with red and yellow tulips.

It is a blessing to have such neighbors.

It is so uplifting to see flowers blooming, blue Alberta skies, and the temperatures rise.

We had a full day of rain yesterday which I am sure bring more green and spring flowers.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

The spring flowers are starting to show up.

This is the Siberian Squill.  It is a beautiful blue color, quite small, close to the ground and perennial.  I have several places in my neighbourhood where it grows.

I was very happy to see it because yesterday morning again I woke to snowflakes in the air. Really!

These will open up into bell shaped blooms.

One of the first projects I took on when the sewing machine came back working well was the mending of my wheat bag.

I have owned this wheat bag forever.  I paid a lot of money when I bought it but it has paid off.  

The cotton outside cover has been sewn back together several times.  The inside sack that holds the wheat has had several repairs.  

As you can see the kernels of wheat were falling out and I was finding them all over the place.

Next time I will have to make a completely new bag and inside sack.   I will put fabric on the list for that project.   I am amazed this cotton is still hanging in.

This is the book I finished this week.  A Grace Disguised - how the soul grows through loss by Jerry Sittser.

It describes a very tragic event in this man's life and how he chose to live is life after losing 3 members of his family.

The good, the bad and the ugly are covered in this book.  How God works in our lives to help us survive the very difficult challenges we face.  How we can grow through them and how life can have bright spots again but never be the same.

This book provided encouragement to me to be patient in this time, be consistent, and hang in there.  

Stay positive and wait.

I am collecting some new Big Sky photos again.

We can have some wonderful blue skies here with amazing cloud formations.

It's a matter of not taking them for granted and looking up every time I am outside.

And taking the pics that are worthy of capture.

Flickr Macro Mondays challenge this week was Battery.   Of course, they come in every size, color and description.

Here I have placed 2 D batteries aligned in front of each other.  I like that they had this blue plastic layer around the edges.

I lit them with a flashlight from above.

My highlights are not blown out and the shape repetition works well along with the black background.

You can check out my Photostream by follwoing this link (SMDPics).

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mom's Day Card

I painted a blue daisy flower for my Mom's mother's day card.

Her favorite color is blue.

I used a piece of 140lb rough water color paper measuring approximately 4.25 x 5.5 inches.  I sketched it lightly with a pencil and then painted it with my Stampin Up Wonder Watercolor  Crayons.  Using Marina Mist as the main color with some Night of Navy and some Not Quite Navy.   The leaf colors were Always Artichoke and More Mustard.  The center is More Mustard.

Once completely dry I traced around the flower and leaves with a black permanent marker. 

I mounted the flower onto a half sheet card of Marina Mist card stock.   I added white and medium blue seam binding below the flower by punching a slit in the fold then wrapping them around the card front and knotting in the front.

A white insert was added to the inside.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

I found this little chipmunk on my walk the other day.   

Spring green is slow to come so I hope they have enough to eat.

I have not seen many yet this year so I don't know if the population is down.  I generally see quite a few.

It may been that some have decided to stay in their little warm homes for a little longer sensing that things have not warmed up a lot.

I finished this book this week.  Fireside by Susan Wiggs.  The title does not seem to match the story to me.

Bo Crutcher is a baseball player hitting his stride a bit later in life and has achieved a place on a pro ball team.  Just as things are turning around a call sends his life into a spin.  Heading to Texas to pick up a boy he has never met.  He knew he had a son but the mother had not allowed him to be involved.   Now she is in trouble and turns to Bo to help out.

Being a father is a huge learning curve.   He does his best and makes slow progress in gaining AJ's trust.

In the meantime he met a girl quite by chance as her life was spinning out of control.  Later, they meet again and she is able to help prepare him for his professional career and still be a Dad.

All works out in the end but the ups and downs are challenging.  A good book.

The hiccups with the sewing machine have been sorted out.  I can say the servicing as restored all the functions and it purrs!

These machines are real workhorses.  So despite being 50 years old it just keeps on sewing like a dream.   I will make sure that I oil it more regularly.

It was out of commission for a month with the back and forth visits.  I guess I needed time to design my tote and purchase the fabric so it all worked out.

You will see that I have already put it to good use on a Tote project.

Here's the bespoke tote I designed and sewed over the weekend.

I needed a bag to carry my camera, my purse and my everyday bag.

You can read about all the details in this post.

I have used a couple of times already and I am very happy with the result.

Of course, the color combo is perfect.

This is a small books as far as the size of books I normally have been reading.  True Believers by Linda Dorrell.

It was a quick read and very compelling story.  Set in the mid 1050's in the southern states it deals with racism, ignorance, and social expectations.  She is a single white woman of privilege who bucks the tradition when purchases a church with her inheritance.

She is led to ask a black man ,Otha Lee which she has known most of her life to work on the restoration project. He is a handyman, a bit of a farmer and a preacher.   He has no building to worship in so his congregation has been meeting under a large tree.  He agrees to take on the project and as luck would have it a younger man, Joseph has recently come to town looking for work. Perfect!  

They make a great team but the very hot summer makes progress slow.  The project is a success once Peggy, Otha Lee and Joseph address their pasts to reveal that this was the perfect project for them.  Excellent read.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Sewing Project - A Bespoke Tote

I decided that I needed a bag to carry my purse, my small everyday bag and my camera which I pretty much carry every time I leave the house.  It needed to be much shallower than the one I currently use.  Just big enough to put these things in with a bit of extra.  The items would stay in place and be easy to access. In the bag I use now the purse and camera bag straps get all tangled, its deep so I can't see everything which does not work well. The inside is also black which does not help.

Despite wanting to keep the sewing area tidy I decided to tackle this project.   Originally, I thought I would create a lining which was sectioned to add more definition but I have decided not to go that route for now.  It took 2 days.

This is the bag at the front door filled and ready to go.

The fabric is light denim and a beautiful yellow and white pattern piece of 100% cotton fabric.  

The bag as a boxed bottom with large pockets on both ends.

The fabric cost me $5.00 at the thrift store.  The denim was a large pillow sham and the yellow has a baby dream tag but was flat and was about a yard of fabric.  
I did fill the bobbin a couple of times.  

It's quite floppy when not full but that is okay.

I wanted the straps to run the full length of the height of the bag to distribute the weight.  I see that I twisted the front strap but it will stay that way as it is very well attached.

The buttons indicate the front and is helpful for using the zipper.

I put 2 large patch pockets on the bag - both ends of the bag.

These are about 8" square and provide a quick place to put something I need to take with me.  They hold my travel mug of tea for sure.  

A nice hem at the top and the edges ironed over and then just sewn on to the denim.  They are quite flat.

They are large enough for a book, or cards that need to be mailed. 

I used white thread through out the project.  It is quite unnoticeable on the yellow and more so on the blue denim.

The bottom has the box ends sewn down on the inside of the bag.  This provides a bit of stiffness to the bottom but it may need a piece of corrugated cardboard or plastic to help it out. 

I brought the ends of the straps to the underside but not really enough to work well.  I just did not have enough denim to make them longer.  On hindsight I should have just brought them down to the bottom edge.

Live and learn they say.

This recessed zipper was a very good idea that my sister shared with me.  It allows you to add a zipper to any bag. You can check out the video tutorial by Crafty Gemini here.

I chose the yellow to be very visible.  Upon checking my stash of second hand zippers there was blue one that was long enough.   The zipper insert measures 23" tab to tab. 

The buttons are the same sunflower yellow which you find in the fabric.  

I chose 3 different ones and sewed them on with yellow thread.

They help to make sure I am coming from the right direction to open or close the zipper.
Yes, my decorative stitches are back now that the sewing machine has been serviced.

This is just a curvy stitch that is adjusted by the stitch length and the zigzag measurement.  This is quite tight and I like it a lot.

I used this to attached the recessed zipper insert to the bag.  It goes right around the bag so provides a decorative element at the same time.

Here's the inside of the bag filled with its purposed contents.

The purse, the every day bag and the camera bag.  You can check this post for the details on the small every day bag I made.  It is still perfect, a couple years on.

There is nothing like a bespoke item that fits the exact purpose you need.

I encourage you to get a perfect rather than settling for "it is just okay".

Exchange Card - May

These cards are for my card exchange partners. 

I started with the aqua handmade paper flowers then chose the Stampin Up Fresh Prints designer paper then the pink card base.  

This card has a Stampin Up Pretty in Pink card base with a designer paper layer featuring the color of Coastal Cabana which matches super well.

I layered a white flower sequin, a yellow handmade paper flower by Prima, then a white silk flower, the large handmade paper flower and lastly a large white card stock daisy punchie onto a white tiny brad.  Once aligned I pressed it into the DSP and press the prongs apart on the back.

The card base was scored at 1.5 inches then 5.75 inches and folded to the front to create an offset fold.  

The flower accent layer was adhered to the card front with double sided tape just on the left hand side so the Coastal Cabana DSP would overlap the small flap.

The card on the right has the same accent layer of die cut flowers and DSP in Coastal Cabana as the one above.

The card base for this one is Pink Passion which is a deeper version of the one above.

These are headed off to my card exchange buddies.

I added a white quarter sheet insert and a white envelope.

Christmas Card Challenge - Watercolor - Bethlehem

I was going to use salt to create the stars in the sky but when I looked for the coarse salt it was no where to be found.  I had to settle for Pearl White Acrylic paint.

This is the first one which I used Silver Sharpie for the star which did not do what I wanted.  I did the others in a fine tip Black Sharpie.

I added a tiny silver star brad in the center of the star to adhere to the card stock and repeat the star shape.

I used several colors of watercolor - a deep blue and a blue red so I achieved some purple backgrounds as well. I taped down the watercolor paper to the board to ensure they would dry flat.

Once dry, I placed them on the light table and traced my Bethlehem drawing in black marker.   They were spattered with the white paint and allowed to dry overnight.

I had cut the water color paper with extra so I could  could trim them to the 4.00 x 5.25 inches I needed. 

I chose card stock color to coordinate with the background.  I adhered them to the card front with double sided tape and the brad and pressed them over night.  I then added a seasonal insert and white envelopes.

I used 
Brilliant Blue,
Night of Navy,
Rich Razzleberry and 
another purple which was not Stampin Up for the card bases.

I still would like to try the salt technique so I will pursue the supplies for that.

Happy with cards.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

I took my first trip of the year to the Heritage Hills Wetlands yesterday.  The winds were high, the water was choppy and the streets were being cleaned so I could not leave my car parked on the street.  That meant a quick visit. 

The ducks and gulls were on the pond.  The water is very low and there are now islands of mud in the middle.   I guess it provides a safe haven for wildlife but makes for not the prettiest pictures.

I captured this adult male Mallard Duck with it's mate feeding.   I don't know if they have eggs yet.  It has been so cold that I hope not.

I will return when I can spend more that a few minutes.

I finished Memories and Stories by Aaron A. Lehman this week.  I chose the book because it had an Alberta connection.  This fellow was a teacher in our province for many year.

He came to teach in one of our communities way up north.  The accommodations were not the best but he and his wife made the best of it.  She was pregnant with their first child and it was his first year of teaching.  Being a new Dad, setting class lessons and being in a remote communities were all growth edges for this couple.

They made it through.   It is interesting to read about coming into Edmonton which is the big city.  Travelling on the train from the United States, then by bus north and being hosted by kind strangers.

His wife was a nurse so there was no lack of work for her.  They raised their family, stayed connected with their US relatives and contributed to the young people of our province.  

I'm glad I read it.

To get the machine back into it's desk I needed to take the spider plant off of it.  I wanted to hang it back up on the hookr but needed a prettier hanger than a pink shoelace to keep it in place.

I had limited resources at my disposal so I checked my yarn box and found some yellow that would match the pot.  Great!  Very skinny so I braided 2 strands together then tied on end to the spout and the other to the handle.  Added a metal ring at the center to keep the two lengths going down. 

Yes, that will work nicely.  I added a few knots to shorten it a bit 

The plant is very happy in the north window and now I can put the sewing machine back in the desk.
The sewing machine went in for servicing a couple of weeks ago and it was ready to pick up on Thursday.  A general servicing was all it needed to get the decorative stitches to work again and the pick up of the bobbin thread. I brought it home and let it sit till the weekend.  I set it up on Sunday with a project already in the planning stages.

I spend some time in the living room working on design and when I returned to the machine it was whirring, smelling and very hot.  I unplugged everything and let things cool down.  I have no idea what's up.  I was so looking forward to sewing.  It is back in the shop waiting for a diagnosis.  They assured me they would not make me wait the standard 2-3 week serving time.  We shall see.  If I have to start looking for another I will be really bummed.

I typically don't pay hard earned cash for pens.  I get free ones where ever.  I picked them up at the ReUse Center.   But I was getting really tired of trying pens in the holder and they no longer making marks.  I went through the holder and chucked all the one which no longer worked.

I took at trip to the office supply store and actually bought some pens.  I prefer blue ink to black.  I like to have a red one when I want to highlight changes or check off done items on the to do list.  The green one was a bonus.

These then to blob ink at the very beginning so they need to be brushed on scrap paper before I start writing on the good paper.  It is what it is.  

I'm glad to be able to write as soon as I pick up a pen rather than to find it does not have ink it or it has dried out.  Yes, I did check that item on my list with the red pen.

Just finished this book - Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber this morning.

Four women at different stages of life and in various circumstances meet at the writing workshop.  They decide to continue meeting after the classes end.  They meet at a cafe Thursday mornings at 8am.  

They bring their hopes, trials and challenges and find support, comfort and reassurance that things will be all right amongst this group of friends. 

Made me miss my Welcome to my Kitchen friends more than ever. 

My niece was here last week to visit and see Mom before her treatment.   She brought a small DVD player so that has allowed me to get back to aerobics.  With some help from my other niece I got the TV set up to access the internet.  I have been watching a bit of new shows.   The green USB stick holds music so that I can play music on the TV and no longer need a stereo to play my CDs.  It turns out the DVD player will play my music CDs.  Great@

I am sharing with Mersad who hosts Through My Lens #334

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Exchange Cards - April

We are starting a new session of card exchange.  I've decided to get my cards ready ahead of time so I will not disappoint folks when I am busy moving.

I had these silver chrome metal earrings in my stash so I off the hanger and mounted them with brads.

I chose Striped designer paper by SU in Rose Red and cut it to about 4x3 inches. I adhered it to a piece of sold Rose Red card stock measuring 4.75 x 3.5 inches. I placed pink and silver brads into the holes in the larger flowers in the metal accent.  

I strung a piece of silver cord through one of the flowers and wrapped around this layer and knotted it on the right. This layer was then adhered to the front of a Pretty in Pink card with 3D foam tape.  I added the round greeting in the bottom right hand side again with 3D foam tape.

On this card it the same layout with different colors.  The card base is Chocolate Chip.  The designer paper seems to have pink and brown lines so I chose those colors for the brads in the metal accent.

I cut the designer paper larger this time to 4.00 x 5.5 inches.  Attached the silver cord in the same way.

The greeting is punched with the Modern Label Punch in color printed in Chocolate Chip with an offset of solid card stock same as the card base. It was adhered with 3D foam tape.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

After three days of ridiculous and constant wind we got a skiff of snow over night.  Others in the province did quite a bit of the white stuff.

The temperature this morning was -11C which is very cold for this time of year so the snow could have been much worse. 

Despite that, the hares are getting brown so we will get through this.  I was very glad to see this big guy in the back yard this morning.

I finished this book - The Waymaker by Ann Voskamp this week.  I believe I have read all her books and I own quite a few.

This is her latest released recently.

The lesson in the book is that we must maintain our connection to God - Jesus as He is the Waymaker.  He knows what we need and he knows what is next for us.

I bought the book because I am having to practice patience for the time being.  I keep the house tidy at all times and await calls for viewings with the hope of the right offer.

Mom & Dad have both experienced health crisis and that requires trust that the best for them will come to pass.  

As a planner, living with uncertainty is very difficult but I guess that is the lesson to relax and trust that was is right will come.

I replaced my TV recently.  I have had the old one for nearly 10 years I think and I bought it second hand.

It was not working well for quite a while and I thought it was just the antenna but it was the TV.

There was a sale in March offering a generous discount so I just made the decision to move forward. 

I love that I can put my music on a USB stick and play it in the living room - just like that.

I have not been able to connect it to WIFI yet so I will need help with that.

The DVD player is packed so that will have wait as well.  Very happy so far!

The challenge on Flickr Macro Mondays this week was - Bulb.  The electric kind not the garden kind.

This is one of the shots I took for the challenge.   You can check out my Photostream (SMDPics) to see the image I submitted.   There was a good variety of images to see.

I bought myself a new Basil plant last week as well as the other I purchased last April was getting gangling and not very pretty.   I am very happy to say that I now have 5 plants growing in my place.  My windows face east and north.  I have given up on African Violets for now.

The Aspargus fern I bought last year is doing well.

The Dracena I got from aunt fall of 2020 continues to grow.

The Greek Oregano that my sister gave me is a bit stretched out but I take leaves it about once a week to keep it in check.

The spider plant my niece gave me last year has been moved to the north window and is making babies for the second time which I take it is quite happy there.

The Devil's Ivy has been moved further from the east window not sure how happy it is.  Just for a little while longer, I say.

I am sharing with Angie who hosts Mosaic Monday #173 and Mersad who hosts Through My Lens #332

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

Cool Water by Dianne Warren.   Another Saskatchewan story.
Juliet, Saskatchewan, is a blink-of-an-eye kind of town -- the welcome sign announces a population of 1,011 people -- and it''s easy to imagine that nothing happens on its hot and dusty streets. Situated on the edge of the Little Snake sand hills, Juliet and its inhabitants are caught in limbo between a century -- old promise of prosperity and whatever lies ahead.

But the heart of the town beats in the rich and overlapping stories of its people: 
the foundling who now owns the farm his adoptive family left him; 
the pregnant teenager and her mother, planning a fairytale wedding; 
a shy couple, well beyond middle age, struggling with the recognition of their feelings for one another; 
a camel named Antoinette; 
and the ubiquitous wind and sand that forever shift the landscape. Their stories bring the prairie desert and the town of Juliet to vivid and enduring life.

It was a different kind of book and a nice change of pace.

The sun is shining this morning and the place is bright and wonderful feeling.

I am learning a new way of living where everything has a home and it is returned there at the end of the day.  That I have only enough stuff for the space I have so that this practice can continue.

Big projects are on hold.

It means having to discern my very top priorities and concentrating on those.  

I have learned that in the past I have not cleared the stuff from one past time before moving onto another so stuff accumulated and sat around taking up precious space.

This place has space to breathe, relax and live a quieter life.   Is that what I want?

I did manage a few photo challenges this week.  Macro Mondays was Reflections so these were a couple of the shots I took.
This is a very old book which has fallen apart and I kept some of the pages to print cool stuff on them.  It's been sitting for about 6 years - am I really going to print on them?  And if I do what will I do with them?  I am no longer going to craft markets so supplies destined for those projects have to go. 

I love the depth of field I acheived in this shot.  The texture of the old book signatures are wonderful.

To me books are precious and should not be thrown away.  The ReUse center is now open so that is likely where it will go to be found by a teacher, student or other creative person.

This Y is for Yesterday book is the last of the Alphabet Series of books by Sue Grafton because she died before she wrote the Z book. 

This starts with high school antics which turn bad and I was not sure I was going to finish it.

It was better once we were with Kinsey Milhone the detective in the present.   

Crimes are committed by teenagers, some are held accountable, others are not.   Once prison sentences are done and the dues to society have been paid, one should be able to move on but those who have not paid drag those have paid down with them again.

Kinsey of course is in the middle trying to figure out the players, who did what and why things don't add up.

I did finish the book and it was okay. 

Books Books Books

 I have been reading a lot.  With as much packing as can be done for now and having to keep all the surfaces clean and tidy reading works well for this waiting season.

I think this is my second Kinsey Millhone Mystery in the Alphabet series by Sue Grafton.  She has written 26 books starting with A and ending with Z.  

"G" Is for Gumshoe is the seventh novel in Sue Grafton's "Alphabet" series of mystery novels and features Kinsey Millhone, a private eye based in Santa Teresa, California. In "G" Is for Gumshoe, Kinsey Millhone meets fellow investigator Robert Dietz when someone hires a hit man to kill her.

Good and bad things seem to be coming in threes for Kinsey Millhone: on her thirty-third birthday she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of ex-con Tyrone Patty's hit list. It's the last that convinces Kinsey even she can't handle whoever's been hired to whack her, and she gets herself a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-driving P.I. who takes guarding Kinsey's body very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into her case. And before it's over, she'll unearth the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal and, in the process, come fact-to-face with her own mortality. . . .

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed.  
Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.

Zorro by Isabel Allende is the 4th of her novels I have read.
The cast of characters includes everyone you’d expect in a swashbuckler, from gypsies, pirates, and swooning maidens to the token villain. The women in this novel, as in all of Allende’s work, are exceptionally well drawn. The men are also vivid, from the traumatized, silent Bernardo to the honorable, justice-driven Zorro. The Fox Allende has created is slightly conceited, while at the same time chivalrous, entertaining, and likable. The characters are familiar rather than stereotypical, and Allende wisely avoids falling into the cliché trap, primarily through the tongue-in-cheek narration. Set in the chaos of Napoleonic Spain and the Alta California of the hidalgos, the backdrop adds depth and drive to the story with its social mores and shifting political tides. Allende has crafted a swashbuckling tale, with just a hint of the magical realism that will be familiar to readers of her other works. I really enjoyed this book. 

Nicholas Sparks novels can be counted on to have some interesting characters, good story lines and no bad language and explicit sex scenes.  They are a good read but becoming a bit predictable for me.

Denise Holton has no family, both of her parents have died. She is alone and a single mother of a child with severe learning disabilities by a former one-night stand. She was a school teacher for many years but now she doesn’t teach anymore; she spends all her time trying to teach her son how to speak. She has a part-time job as a waitress and makes just enough money to get by.
Kyle Holton is the 4-year-old son of Denise Holton. Kyle has severe learning disabilities
Brett Cosgrove is Denise’s former one-night stand, leading up to Kyle’s existence. He was engaged at the time and wants nothing to do with Kyle.
Taylor McAden—is a volunteer firefighter for the Edenton Fire Department, owns his own carpenter and contractor job. He was the person who found Denise’s son the night of her car wreck. Taylor has had problems in the past with commitment, but that all will change throughout the book.
Judy McAden is the mother of Taylor McAden; she came to the hospital to spend time with Denise while her son was out looking for Kyle.
Mitch Johnson is Taylor’s best friend and a volunteer firefighter for the Edenton Fire Department also. Mitch and his wife Melissa often provide Taylor with advice about his romantic life. Mitch and Melissa are the closest thing Taylor has to siblings, and Taylor is the godfather of the Johnsons' oldest son.

This was new author for me and I enjoyed this book. Case histories by Kate Atkinson.   I did not realize that these have a TV series produced from the books.

Case Histories (2004) is a detective novel by British author Kate Atkinson and is set in Cambridge, England. It introduces Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector and now private investigator. 

The plot revolves around three seemingly unconnected family tragedies – the disappearance of a three-year-old girl from a garden; the murder of a husband by his wife with an axe; and the apparently motiveless murder of a solicitor's daughter. 

I seem to be reading more detective type stories recently.  That is completely by coincidence as I am getting my books from small library at the park and it is totally random as to what will be there when I drop by.

It is nice to run across authors I have read before though.