My Take Away from Summer '19

As most bloggers - I have a content calendar - but, I changed it up to add this post. As a Cancerian I am all about history… be it the larger scope of the world or my own personal history. This week I’m taking a deep dive into how we spent our Summer.

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We’re so lucky to be able to join our local Swim Club and spend most days (although our weather was a bit iffy this year) there. I match my schedule to my son’s in the summer and I don’t work much.

The boys love to take in a Jackals Game over at the Yogi Berra Stadium at Montclair State University.

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We went to Ocean City, NJ and had a wonderful week of sun and sand with our family. We celebrated L’s 8th birthday and Independence day while we were there and we were blessed with stellar weather.


My birthday is mid -July and I had a weekend of fun with family and friends. There was sushi, my favorite cupcakes and fireworks.


The next day was a visit to the most magical place on earth… the Metropolitan Museum of Art followed by drinks at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle and Dinner at Del Posto (after the Mid-Town power outage made dining at The Whitby Bar and Restaurant impossible)

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There was Hockey Camp at Floyd Hall Area at Montclair State University.

We enjoyed a quick trip to Hershey Park, PA.


Any days the weather allowed - we enjoyed the pool. I can’t believe I caught this shot!

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I was blessed to share a lovely evening with my best friend… she lives in Turks and Caicos and was passing through New Jersey. All I can say is thank God for Face Time friends!

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After dodging a crazy pop-up storm I made it into the City without getting drenched a few weeks ago for the Bryan Ferry Show at the United Palace - but, first we popped up on the High Line for a bit before heading to Crave Fishbar for dinner.

Nothing fosters a sense of partnership better than an intense day of moving rocks. My Hubby and I got to enjoy a rare evening out - just us two.

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We closed out the season with a marathon day at the Met. We covered more galleries last Thursday (8/29/19) than I ever have in all the many years I’ve been visiting this amazing institution. Then we had a delicious dinner at Stella 34 Trattoria & Bar on the 6th floor in Macy’s Herald Square. My niece’s office is on 7th so its a great location to meet up and the food is superb along with a wonderful view of the Empire State Building! Of course we had to pop into the Story store before we headed out of Macy’s to the Ferry.



I grabbed this image our last day at the swim club.

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I hope your summer was fantastic! Til next time. xoxo

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Get Your Read On!


As they say Reading is Fundamental but, for me it’s a craving. In the same way some people crave a good cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate or potato chips! I have always craved a long list of great books to read!

I love the smell of the paper and the weight of a book in my hand but, in the last two years I’ve started listening to books. It’s great to do while doing this or that - or walking to and from school - I utilize the Hoopla App through my local library.

I promised to share my favorite reads - here they are in no particular order from my entire life!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: A sweet tale of discovery. What happens when Arthur goes on a quest to learn more about his wife. I loved this story.

Secrets of a Charmed Life: The elderly author Isabel McFarland agrees to be interviewed and after never sharing the true details of her life - give up not only the details but, the secrets. Makes you think about history on a personal level.

A Man Called Ove: Ove is a particular man, he does things in a particular way. The question is - is he willing to change those ways? He pulls you in just as he is pulled in by those around him.

Commonwealth: It delves into how a chance encounter changes the lives of 4 parents and 6 children. Stirs caring for these souls in a profound way.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage: Ann Patchett shares her life; from childhood to present day, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships and charts the work and joy of writing and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore. After reading Commonwealth and now this - I am a true Patchett fan!

Brain on Fire: A riveting true medical mystery.

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love: She lost her best friends and husband within weeks of each other.

The Good House: What can I say… something I loved about this book I learned when I was finished reading it…. which is Ann Leary intended the book to go in another direction and the main character Hilde was not supposed to be the main character - But, Hilde took over the story because she’s quite a character… she likes her wine too much….

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train: What might happen if the Queen wandered off for a day.

The Shoemakers Wife: I can’t express how much I enjoyed these characters. I listened to this on Hoopla and was really sad when it was over.

The Perfume Collector: Weaving through time from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers of an Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

Rare Objects: Mauve Fanning has had a challenging life and starts over by landing a job at an eccentric antiques shop catering to Boston’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. While delivering a purchase to the wealthy Van der Laar family, Mauve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar but, discovers she knows her from before.

Killing Monica: I have always been a Candace Bushnell fan. This book did not disappoint.

White Chrysanthemum: I was unfamiliar with the history of Japans invasion of Korea and of girls stolen from their families. This story is gripping and hit home with me as a sister and a woman.

My Mrs. Brown: Emilia Brown has a frugal life in a small town in Rhode Island. We accompany her on a trip to purchase the dress - an Oscar de la Renta it’s a fun and inspiring short read - focusing on a goal and the reasons for goals.

If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home: I’m a huge fan of Dr. Lucy Worsley is an English historian, author, curator, and television presenter in England.

My Antonia: Is the unforgettable story of an immigrant woman’s life on the hardscrabble Nebraska plains. I read this in High School and still count myself lucky the book was assigned to us.

Younger: Alice has always looked young - now that she’s divorced and her daughter is grown she lets her best friend transform her on New Year’s Eve and at midnight, she kisses a boy and that boy Josh doesn’t ask her age - no one does - now she’s got a new job, a new man and a new life. This book is the inspiration for the television show.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore: Due to the economy Clay Jannon a web designer finds himself working at the bookstore. He discovers the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest.

The Thanksgiving Visitor: Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric elderly cousin Miss Sook love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But this year, there's trouble in the air.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A captivating novel about Truman Capote’s friendship with Babe Paley.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Holly Golightly is pursued by gangsters and playboys, she is so much and so delightful to meet.

Primates of Park Avenue: Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. She used her background in anthropology and primatology to look at her situation with new eyes and bam it all fell into place. Her conclusions are witty, thought-provoking and it’s a great read!

Where ’d You Go Bernadette: Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades and her mom Bernadette who is a shut-in, throws herself into trip planning, but, she suddenly disappears - Bee works hard going through e-mails, school memos and invoices to reveal a secret past that her Mom had been hiding.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: Henry joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, boarded up for decades, the new owner has discovered items belonging to Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during WWII. Henry remembers a girl from his childhood in the 1940s.

The Invention of Wings: Hetty a slave in 19th century Charleston is part of the Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah is given ownership of 10 year old Hetty on her 11th Birthday. We follow their journey over the next 35 years.

Capital Gains: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff: Chip Gaines is a very motivating personality. This book should be shared. So enjoyable.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: One of my favorite books and the film starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy: Mr and Mrs. Blandings design their perfect home and we follow along during their construction issues and the funny workers they deal with.

Ludwig Bemelmans - he did more than write Madeline . I have a copy of To the One I love the Best: Episodes from the Life of Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe) It;s about his friendship with the interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, its a great peek at a specific time.

The House in Good Taste: This great design book was published in 1914 and much of what Elsie de Wolfe said then still rings true. To shun clutter in favor of simplicity and to let the light in and she believed in white paint.

Sister Parish: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Designer: Sister - as she was always called - was born Dorothy May Kinnicutt in 1910 and spent a privileged early life at all the right places. She was compelled to work during the Depression. Sister combined her innate design ability with her upper-echelon social connections and created a successful interior decorating business. The Parish-Hadley firm's list of clients reads like an American Who's Who. I am a huge fan of her work and of the current firms.

Jane Eyre: Jane was orphaned as a child and has felt like she didn’t belong her whole life. She is overwhelmed and nervous when she arrives at Thornfield Hall to be governess to Edward Rochester’s charge Adele. This is quote I want to live by - Jane says “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” I love so many of the Bronte sisters novels but, Jane has a never give up attitude I truly admire.

Harry Potter: I read all the Harry Potter books before I had Liam. I thoroughly enjoyed and simply couldn’t put them down. I am excited to share them with him in a few years.

I love Kate Morton and I’ve read most of her titles. You should definitely read them in order!

  • The House at Riverton: The story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death. It’s told in flashbacks. I love this book - for the time period it shares in the flashbacks and the people you meet.

  • The Forgotten Garden: This is a captivating story full of secrets, family and memory. Cassandra is grieving her grandmother Nell and she receives an bequest that turns her life upside down.

  • The Distant Hours: Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a decaying fortress where the Blythe sisters live and where her mom was sent to live as a child during WWII. Edie will unravel the mystery of her mother’s time there and some then some. This is my favorite Kate Morton book…I was mesmerized by it.

  • The Secret Keeper: During a summer gathering Laurel will watch her mother speak to a stranger and not soon after she will witness a crime. Now, years later Laurel realizes time is running out to find out from her 90 year old mother the truth about that day.

  • The Lake House: The Edevane family is throwing a party in June 1933 and Alice Edevane who is 16 years old and a young writer is terribly excited she’s in love but, by the time this night ends the family will loose much.

I have a deep affinity for novels that take place at the turn of the 20th century - I love the Alienist and The Angel of Darkness both by Caleb Carr. Time and Again by Jack Finney is a magical illustrated novel.

Another from this same time period is E.L. Doctorow - work The Waterworks: One morning in 1871 Manhattan, reporter Martin Pemberton sees in a passing omnibus with several elderly men, one of whom he recognizes as his supposedly dead and buried father. I loved the mystery of this story and how Martin as a reporter can’t stop seeking answers. (I will also share that I read this after my father passed away and I had dreams Jim was back!). The Waterworks becomes, in the words of The New York Times, “a dark moral tale . . . an eloquently troubling evocation of our past.”

Brideshead Revisited: I read after watching the 1981 British Telepic on PBS. It’s the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmain family. It’s a wonderful tale of love and loss and grasping for what you think will make you happy.

East of Eden: I asked my husband to buy me a hardcover of this for a milestone birthday.

A Christmas Carol: Oh Ebenezer needs to learn the error of his ways and boy does he!

Great Expectations: Orphaned Pip lives with his married sister and encounters an escaped convict. While terrified he complies and helps the man. Years later Pip is given a great deal - in possession of “great expectations” he does not realize who his benefactor is.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Fashionable Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

The Great Gatsby: Nick is the narrator of this tale of love and loss. Nick lives next door to the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night. it is revealed that Gatsby knew Nick’s married cousin Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle is simply an attempt to impress Daisy. This is one of the Best American Novels. If you have not read it DO SO!

I want to share some authors: Mary Kay Andrews, Dorothea Benton Frank, Anna Quindlen, Liane Moriarty, Adriana Trigiani, Lauren Weisberger and Daphne du Maurier to name a few.

Some treasures from childhood:

The Secret Garden: Mary a young English girl returns to England alone from India because her parents have died. Mary must live with her uncle; when he's away from home, she discovers a beautiful walled garden which is kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle's vast mansion.

The Christmas Mouse: Mrs. Berry is frightened by a mouse and goes downstairs to sit-out Christmas Eve and is disturbed yet again. This time by a young run-away boy. This lovely tale still enchants me about the best in human nature

The Diamond in the Window: Eddy and Eleanor Hall have always known their family was uncommon and they live in a most remarkable house. But, they would never have guessed just how remarkable the house really is.

Her Majesty Grace Jones: A young Ohio girl is convinced she is an English princess and the true heir to the throne.

I love everything Margaret Bloy Graham illustrated or wrote - the Harry the Dirty Dog series, the Benjy series and I have a copy of the Storm Book on the chair in my hallway!

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Margaret is almost twelve and wants to fit in with her new friends - none of them can believe she doesn’t belong to a religion. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own special relationship with God.

Harriet The Spy: I read this book when I was 11 and appropriated my sister’s copy. I made a lifesize study of myself mirrored after Harriet. Harriet M. Welsch is a spy; she writes down everything about everyone she sees - including her classmates and her best friends - in her notebook. Her notebook ends up in the wrong hands and her thoughts are read - will she be able to fix the damage these thoughts have caused?

I checked out PT109 written by John F. Kennedy at least fives times from my school library.

I asked some special friends what books they would recommend:

My Sister - Noreen: To Kill a Mockingbird, East of Eden, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, The Poisonwood Bible, The Pearl, Slaughter House Five, The Aviator’s Wife and The Things They Carried. She is an avid reader and could have kept easily shared more - but, we’ll stop here.

My Niece - Christina: The Great Gatsby and Rebecca.

Anne: Gone with the Wind and David Copperfield.

Kristin: Any title by Nicholas Sparks.

Sara: The Alchemist

Abbey: Joyful

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a new book. I have always checked out the recommendations section at my Library. I follow Ann Bogel ‘s blog Modern Mrs. Darcy.

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Did you Follow The Great American Read on PBS? It was an 8 part series that took views votes to decide the 100 best. To Kill a Mockingbird was voted the Bests Novel.

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Recently I’ve also discovered BookBub - its a free service that helps millions of readers discover books they'll love. BookBub works with all major eBook retailers and devices and partners with thousands of the industry’s leading publishers and authors to promote their books.

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I wanted to close by noting my three favorite authors:

  1. Charles Dickens

  2. Truman Capote

  3. Kate Morton

    I hope you have found a few new reads!

    If I’ve left your favorite off this list. Please share it with me and leave a comment!

    Til next time! Happy Reading!

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Terrific Titles

Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed the following:

Mary Poppins Comes Back: P.L. Travers - My opinion that Mary is not a soft touch has not changed… but, I enjoyed this story when she returned to the Banks children and 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

Brava Valentine: Andrianna Trigiani - I thoroughly enjoyed this story of the cautious Valentine Roncalli, her family and her family business the Angelini Shoe Company. I am a big fan of this author I loved The Shoemakers Wife. She has a large library of titles. I have a few on my To Be Read list - including: Kiss Carlo and Lucia Lucia.

The Good House: Ann Leary - What can I say… something I loved about this book I learned when I was finished reading it…. which is Ann Leary intended the book to go in another direction and the main character Hilde was not supposed to be the main character - But, Hilde took over the story because she’s quite a character… she likes her wine too much….

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: Margareta Magnusson - It’s a sweet book - it takes you through Mrs. Magnusson’s thoughts on keeping and letting go… This is not Marie Kondo - this is a very practical woman advising you to ask if anyone wants something and if they don’t - just get rid of it!

Every Last One: Anna Quindlen - This is a gripping novel… it went in a direction I never expected but, I was committed to seeing where it went and it left me better for having read it.

Joan Didion:Netflix Bio Pic The Center Will Not Hold.- I chose to watch this documentary of Ms Didion although I have yet to read her. I enjoyed learning about her life as her nephew Griffin Dunne interviewed her. She is a prolific author and I have added The Year of Magical Thinking to my reading list.

Gossip: Beth Gutcheon - I loved listening to Loviah French share the details of her life and her dearest friends since boarding school days (she was there on Scholarship). Now, as the proprietress of a high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side - she sees and knows all!

Pachinko: Min Jin Lee - This is the moving story of one Korean family through several generations - beginning in Korea in the early 1900’s and following them to Japan. Sunja is the lovely daughter who makes a hard choice and ends up in another country in exile. Her family endures much as foreigners in their new land.

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I was fortunate to attend The Friends of the Ridgewood Library 30th Annual Author Luncheon featuring Min Jin Lee on April 3rd. What a wonderful event and Miss Jin Lee was an exuberant and entertaining speaker. If you are local to Northern NJ I recommend getting on the mailing list. It was truly wonderful

If you are unfamiliar with this book and this author I can’t recommend it enough - and also I would recommend a book I read last year: White Chrysanthemum: Mary Lynn Bracht- I was unfamiliar with the history of Japans invasion of Korea and of girls kidnapped from their families This story is gripping and hit home with me as a sister and a woman. Hard to put down.

This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage: Ann Patchet - shares her life from childhood to the current day. I listened to this book through Hoopla and to Ms. Patchet reading it… It makes it all the better when the author reads their own words. I previously read Commonwealth and this book still pops into my brain.

Victoria on Masterpiece: Now, that Victoria on Masterpiece is over for the season…

I started watching quite a bit of You Tube. I love Fake or Fortune the fabulous BBC show that marries art and detective work - is that art on the wall a priceless Renoir or simply a good fake??? Oh and the art friends.. its all so beautiful!

But lets talk about my newest love! I am OBSESSED by all things Quintessence - Stacey Bewkes wonderful creation the Lifestyle Blog, the IG feed and The YouTube At Home Series hosted by Susanna Salk - offering access to the most magnificent designers and tastemakers in their homes around the globe - while Stacey films the beauty and conversation.

I have a way too long To Be Read list that currently numbers 98 titles - and growing daily! It includes Jane Erye, Crazy Rich Asians, the Poisonwood Bible - just to name a few.

I read fiction but, will read a biography - What Remains. I especially love historical fiction… give me New York City around 1900 and I’m there… The Angel of Darkness, The Waterworks but, I’ll share an in-depth list of recommended titles before summer starts - #bookjunkie

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Til next time friends!

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