The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory and Book at the Door Winner

And the winner is…

Rosie Amber!

Rosie is none other than the wonderful Rosie of Rosie’s Book Review Team, of which I’m proud to be a member. Her blog ( is full of book reviews from all genres and you should certainly stop by if you are looking for your next book to read.

Rosie will need to be on the lookout for a package in the mail with a copy of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory as well as these beautiful prints by Amy Maranto!

Now that you have seen these photos again I’m sure you would like to go visit Amy on her blog Photography Journal Blog  ( where she shares her thoughts on her photography and photo editing journey!

Rosie she says she hasn’t read any Philippa Gregory books yet, which is a terrible problem to have and I am so happy to be able to help her solve that problem with my favorite of Gregory’s books!

The White Queen takes you back in time to before the Tudors came to the English throne when the Plantagenets are fighting for the crown.

And by fighting I mean not only out right battles, but also betrayals, and tricks and backstabbing.  This is all done by a group of people who share remarkably similar names and is all told from the point of view of a strong woman with a hint of magic flowing in her blood. It’s mind boggling-ly awesome.

If you have already read The White Queen I bet you agree with me that these photos are a perfect eerie reminder of what now remains of all that bloodshed and tragedy.

And if you, like Rosie,  haven’t already read any Philippa Gregory books, even though this isn’t chronologically the first of The Cousins War books, I highly recommend you start with this one as well!

Book at the Door winner was chosen using a random number generator from 

Artists of all kinds (Yes, you photographers and you who says you can’t draw and you who just wants to practice hand lettering and you who is selling paintings online and…all of you!) if you are interested in providing a small piece of work that includes a first sentence I would love to hear from you!  

Authors, have I read your book and tagged it as a recommended read? Would you like to donate a hard copy? Let me know! 


Grandpa Knew

In his ninety-eight years Grandpa learned all sorts of things.

He knew Finnish and English, cattle and crops and engines of all kinds.  He knew fishing and hunting, woodworking and welding and would talk bees with me whenever I started asking questions.

Just a few years ago Grandpa had a bad spell that put him in the hospital. My Dad and I headed north to visit, worried what sort of state we would find him in. After his usual welcoming smiles were delivered from the hospital bed, conversation quickly turned to current international news and how events in Russia might affect his stock prices. I was out of my league. It was clear that Grandpa still knew his finances and he was feeling better.

Grandpa’s eight children eventually brought him fifteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren, all of whom made their way onto his lap. As he bounced those babies of the family on his knee, played giggling games of peek-a-boo and made funny faces, it was abundantly clear that Grandpa also knew babies. By the time Ivy showed up in the world as great-grandchild number six, he also knew all about mothers.

One day while we were visiting, Ivy was Unhappy. It wasn’t the first time he and Ivy met, but it was the first time he met Ivy while she was teething.  At his request I passed her over anyway and while Grandpa bounced her on his knee she cried. He made faces and she whimpered while chewing on her fist. Then Grandpa stopped, dug in his pocket and pulled out his old pocket knife. Small, brown and worn, he held it out to me for inspection. All babies love chewing on this he told me. See, he demonstrated rubbing his thumb across it, it’s nice and smooth, nothing to hurt her. And then, after I nodded my consent, he handed his knife to Ivy. She gratefully grabbed it, stuffed it in her mouth and set to work gnawing, no doubt just as those of us who came before her had. My grumpy girl was back to happily bouncing on her smiling Grandpa’s knee.

If you’ve never been a new mother, or it’s been a long time, let me remind you of the uncertainty that accompanies it. Everything your baby does is new, and it’s either amazing or worrying or both. At the same time it seems that everyone who talks to you already has had kids and they are  neither amazed or uncertain. Most all of those same people seem happy to not only tell you what to do but start doing it for you without so much as a by-your-leave. But not Grandpa. Grandpa knew babies and new mothers. That extra moment he took to show me his knife touched me so deeply I remember how the tears welled as I sat on the sofa across from him.

He gathered knowledge and used it well for ninety-eight years and the tears have done more than well in my eyes in the days since he’s been gone.

Edwin J. Eloranta



Clap Along!

I can read music.

I took piano lessons as a kid.

I played the clarinet for more years than a person who is mostly tone deaf should, because it kept me out of the choir room – I wasn’t welcome there.

I still play the piano.

Now I, due entirely to the fact that capoeira has bewitched me beyond what is sensible, have started to learn to play instruments no one has heard of like a berimbau, pandeiro and atabaque. I’d describe this mysterious capoeira activity and it’s associated instruments to you but I’m sort of afraid that it will enchant you too. And then, even if you are also a natural music-less hermit, you will find yourself preforming this martial art in front of people, while singing and clapping and it will be all my fault and I’m not ready for that kind of responsibility.*

I know this because I would be the hermit who has absolutely no sense of rhythm (a word I just found out I can’t even spell)  and so I sing and pretend to clap in front of people because clapping is hard.

Those of you who just reached out to mentally pat me on the head with a slight roll of your eyes because we are talking about the thing we teach our babies to do before they even walk, I congratulate you.

You have rhythm!

Take a bow! Your musical life, as well as any concerts you attend will be enhanced. I hear with practice one can even sing and clap, or tap a foot and play an instrument at the same time. You are going places and you are doing it on the beat!

I, however, will be watching.

In fact if you could manage to clap so that it is easily visible to those around you that would be great. I, and others like me, need to watch your hands so that I can make my hands make the noise at the same time yours do.

Because clapping is hard.

Last night John told me, “When I get behind on the beat I just clap faster,” and then I dissolved into hysterical laughter.


A) I don’t know when I’m behind. I mean I know when I’m the only person in a room clapping at a different time than the other people, but behind? Ahead? How do you even?!?

B) He just “claps faster”… I’m not even going to tell you the things I do to try to get back on beat. It’s too embarrassing. Let’s just say “clapping faster” would be a heck of a lot easier if I could figure it out how on earth one does that.

And now, because I’d really prefer to minimize the comments that tell me I should just practice more I’d like to refer you back to the top. I have played instruments and read music since I was ten years old. I have been regularly practicing clapping, as well as clapping and singing at the same time for two and half years. Despite the fact that my brain refuses to acknowledge how it works, the concept of rhythm is familiar to me. I just don’t have it.

Of course I’m not saying that practicing doesn’t help, I have improved! I can now sing and clap at the same time so long as one of you wonderfully blessed persons is standing where I can see you clap and all the syllables fall on the beat. I figure at this rate I’ll be successfully clapping and singing at the same time in another ten years… as long as I’ve got someone next to me to watch.

So please, if you’ve been blessed with rhythm, clap nicely.  Those of us who aren’t are watching!

*  That’s a lie. I’m totally ready for that responsibility, come to class with me, it’ll be terrible and the most fun ever all at the same time, trust me… I know…


Book at the Door Giveaway with Maranto Photography

I’ve got a book, would you like it?

This month I’m giving away a paper back copy of a book that’s been gently loved by others. I’m sure it must have been loved by others because not only was it written by my favorite historical fiction author but, of all her books, this one is my favorite.

Now, because I love to read the first page of a book over the back cover or any other available excerpts and reviews, I’d like to tell you the first line of this one. In fact that’s all I’m going to tell you, but I’ve got help.

This month Amy Maranto of Maranto Photography has worked her photo magic to help me share the first line of this book.

“My father is Sir Richard Woodville, Baron Rivers, an English nobleman, a landholder, and a supporter of the true Kings of England, the Lancastrian line.” (Author name has been smudged to preserve the fun!)

Unfortunately I have a little problem. She worked her magic more than once…

“My father is Sir Richard Woodville, Baron Rivers, an English nobleman, a landholder, and a supporter of the true Kings of England, the Lancastrian line.” (Author name has been smudged to preserve the fun!)

…and neither of us could decide which photo should go to the winner of the giveaway. That’s right, if your name is drawn you will not only get the book mailed to your door but one of these haunting pictures as well.Book at the Door

All you need to do is leave a comment below, tell me the name of the book we are giving away this month (Go ahead Google it!)  or which of the photos is your favorite and you are automatically entered.

But before you leave that comment, make sure you visit Amy’s online haunts and check out her other beautiful photos! You can find her on her blog Photography Journal Blog  ( where she shares photos she’s taken, often with before and after editing pictures and a discussion of where her editing process took her. And, being that it’s photography we are talking about, you probably also want to find her on Instagram ( ).  If those aren’t your social media haunts of choice, she is on Twitter, or Flicker and certainly check out her portfolio on Picfair (  where you can purchase her images!

Leave a comment below, you’ve nothing to lose and a great book and photo to gain!

Giveaway is open worldwide through March 21st.

The winner will have the honor of receiving Amy Maranto’s photo in the mail as well as the book.

Artists of all kinds (Yes, you photographers and you who says you can’t draw and you who just wants to practice hand lettering and you who is selling paintings online and…all of you!) if you are interested in providing a small piece of work that includes a first sentence, I would love to hear from you!  

Authors, have I read your book and tagged it as a recommended read? Would you like to donate a hard copy? Let me know! 

The March of Dandelion

He marches through the orchard at a slow and stately pace. Head held high, he rocks sternly from side to side as he passes by. Often covered in mud but too proud to acknowledge that he may be anything less than feathered perfection, he carries on. Occasionally he trips over something that didn’t bow to his greatness and move out of his way. Sometimes that thing is a stick, or a log, sometimes it’s a duck. No matter, he marches on, ignoring anything rude enough to get in his path and expressing his disdain for them by refusing to acknowledge anything that creates a bump in his road and simply walks through it. Occasionally he falls down, but his head never bows, and I wouldn’t dare laugh for I suspect he thinks he’s the king of the orchard.

But, I have news for him, I’m the queen. And while he’s been an exemplary gander, he would do well to remind all his subjects that when I say “Off with their head!” nobody gets a trial.

Our pair of geese are just about a year old and we are hoping to hatch babies this spring. They have such different personality and attitudes than the chickens or ducks and I am so glad I was finally convinced to add them to our place. Don’t worry, I truly have no intention of getting rid of my gander. However my orders were carried out this past weekend on a few extra male ducks… It’s advisable to be on your best behavior when you are living under the reign of The Queen of Hearts.