The Great Book Chase

Monday, November 21, 2016

My love for used books started about four or five summers ago when my Mom and I started scoping out library sales during the small town festivals in our area. Sometimes I'll see a book at several sales before I finally realize that I'd better buy a copy. That's what happened with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I'm not sure who I have to thank for the hunt that began during the summer of 2013 when I decided to buy that first Harry Potter paperback. I'm thinking it's a combination of my brothers, Amy, and Robyn. The four of them were constantly telling me that I just HAD to read these books. Everyone is shocked to find out that I've never read the whole series.

My Grandma bought my brother and I the first three HP hardbacks as they were released. I read them and then stopped. I mean...Number four is LONG. They were releasing movie versions AND I wasn't sure that I would be able to pass the test to get the points I needed for the Accelerated Reading program at my school. I watched my brothers devour them right along with my Mom, I got just as excited about everyone else each November when a new movie was released. But I never read the books.

So, I bought that first book and The Great Book Chase began. I promised myself (and my brothers, and Amy, and Robyn) that I would look for the books and that as soon as I had them all, I would read them. I wasn't sure how long it would take, but I was determined! My rules were simple, each book had to: come from some kind of used book sale, be paperback, and cost $2.00 or less.

As of October 2016, I officially have the entire HP series in paperback. It took years and if I remember correctly, it cost me about $4.29.

I can't remember where I got the first book. I THINK it was during a book sale in the basement of the library in a town 40 minutes away from where I grew up. I wish I could remember, because it seems so important, but I can't. Once The Chase became "official", I started keeping track. In 2014 I picked up the second book at our town's own big book sale that my family used to help with. I was sooo excited about finding it unexpectedly.

Most of a year went by and I found number four at a goodwill while we were in town for my brother and sister's drama class.

Most of another year went by and my brothers were starting to get impatient. I'm sure both Amy and Robyn forgot alllll about it. But, I was always looking. Occasionally my Mom and I would go out with the single purpose of chasing down another book in the series. Last Christmas she and both of my brothers were super close to buying me a brand new set. I told them to be patient, but I knew that I was running out of time. I HAD to find these books. 

The strange thing about HP is that you'll see TONS of Sorcerer's Stones, quite a few Chamber of Secretses, and every now and then you'll see The Goblet of Fire. But, tracking down 3, 5, 6, and 7 seemed IMPOSSIBLE. They just aren't out there. I don't know if people stopped buying after 1 and 2. I don't know if people that have books 3 and up actually LOVE their books and aren't willing to part with them. Either way, it certainly made the book chase a little more exciting.

So, I put a little more effort in this year...I found numbers 3 and 7 at a thrift store that benefits a local animal shelter on June 14th. It was during one of "The Great Book Chase" excursions. We went to every single store, several yard sales, and looked at EVERY SINGLE BOOK they had. We found them and I scooped them right off the shelf. This store wanted $1.00 each, which was okay with me. I was in for a special treat.

Once I got out to the car I was looking at my copy of The Deathly Hallows. It turns out that it's the UK version and it had a bookmark from Italy tucked in at chapter 5. I snapped a picture and texted it to my brother.

After that exciting discovery, we were pumped. Not only was I getting closer to having the whole set, but I now had one book that seemed to have come from some super interesting person. I kept hoping that I'd run into another one of their discards. Before I knew it, summer was over and we were focusing on getting our house packed up. My little HP obsession was on hold.

Then, a few weeks ago, my Mom and I were out on a Sunday after church looking for "relics" for our church's Reformation Day celebration. I wandered over to the books to do a quick glance JUST IN CASE. I found 5 and 6!!!! They were pretty beat up and I debated on whether or not I should get them. My Mom did what she always does and said that I didn't have a choice (thanks, Mom!!!). Books were 75% off that day and so I got them BOTH for about 29 cents.

My set was complete.

I always thought The Great Book Chase would end when it began, on some unsuspecting summer day. I pictured myself plodding through the books at the pool and the lake and out on the back patio. It turns out, I began my journey with HP on a Sunday evening in November.

Something else exciting happened...My sister (who hasn't read ANY of them) has decided to join me! We read the first chapter last night taking turns after every sentence (we never read this way, but I knew it would be a fun memory to make, so we did this time). During the early days of the chase, I accidentally bought a second copy of the first book because I couldn't remember if I had it. She'll read that copy.

The hunt for my set is complete and after spending so many years chasing these books it seems strange to be "done". Maybe I'll start chasing down a set for my sister.

Have you read this series yet?

Do you collect used books? Which ones are you currently chasing after?

Friday's Letters

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 7, 2015
It's been a while since I've done one of these posts. I've found myself writing this one in my head alllll week. I'm not one to delight in busy-ness, but it's been one BUSY fall. We cleaned up the last of the leaves in the backyard and got the patio ready for winter. The first of the snow came and went and my sister and I both got to put our winter driving skills to the test. McDonald's supplied a hearty breakfast and we made Ghiddu proud with our couponing skills.

Now it's Friday. We're making my Aunt Linda's famous Crunchy Korean Chicken for dinner. After that (they don't know this yet) we're pulling out the first of the Christmas movies (I watched Paper Angel the other night, but that doesn't count). I took a vote and I'm holding off on putting up the Christmas decorations until NEXT Friday.

Now, back to those letters I was telling you about...

Dear Lady In the Ice Cream Aisle,

You made my night last week when I was out hunting coffee ice cream for my Mom. I spied that Fudge Brownie ice cream in your cart and commented on how you knew what was really good. Your quick reply of "With caramel topping!" was perfect. I made brownies the other night and I'm going to have one with ice cream and caramel topping tonight.

Dear Reader Guy,

You were sitting in the living room area of the bookstore last night sipping your coffee and reading from a couple of books. I was wandering around the shelves killing time before our movie started (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them). I peeked at the book sitting on the table in front of you and it was Steinbeck. I never did figure out what book was in your hand. What else do you read?

Dear Plymouth, 

I've been looking forward to the big parade allll year! You really are America's Hometown and your enthusiasm for our history is inspiring. The kids at my brother's co-op have been studying you and I want nothing more than to snatch them up and take them to see you and the many historians you have given us. I'll be tuning in from my kitchen tomorrow morning!

Dear Christmas All the Time Radio,

I owe you a big "Thank You!" too! I've been looking and looking for you and had just about given up. Abbey posted to FB this morning about finding you, so my sister and I looked until we found you on the drive to work this morning. I've got the radio set and it won't be budging until this broadcast is over. I can't wait to turn up all of our favorite songs and I'm especially looking forward to the night(s) we drive around looking for Christmas lights! 

Dear Sister of Mine,

I always seem to have something to tell you. People keep finding this "secret" space of mine because of you. It was a slow trickle for a while there, but it seems that more and more are popping up. I guess I should be grateful since I kept saying that I felt like it was time for me to put myself out there. If you're reading this and you're new here: Welcome! You owe my sister big-time. I probably never would have shared this with you. It's not that I don't like you, it's just that, well....I'm not sure how you'll react to what I do here.

What are you up to this weekend?

Do you have any letters to write today?

If you're interested in watching the parade, it begins at 10:15am EST TOMORROW. You can watch the live broadcast online HERE.

What I'm Into: October 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

October held a little bit of EVERYTHING. Good news, bad news, visits with friends, more plays, a new phone numbers, and lots and lots of rain. There were a few sunny days and I made the most of each one! On one of them, I bundled up to go for a hike with Abigail. She left for MA on Saturday and I'm going to miss her. I keeping meeting MA people. 

Anyway...It's over now, but this is what I've been into lately!

What I'm Watching

My brother and I have been watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. It's strange, but pretty perfect for fall. We like it!

We had a movie marathon Saturday in October. It was cold and rainy and (most of us) had nowhere to go. My Mom and I kicked things off bright and early with Still Alice. My sister joined about half way through. Then we watched Lady Jane Grey to celebrate the fact that I was done writing up the piece on her. Then, we watched Wildfell Hall. It was LONG and I didn't watch all of it. After that, my brother watched Castaway for school. We had watched it the night before with the kids from his co-op, but he had rehearsal, so he didn't get to watch the movie with them.

We watched The Imitation Game one Sunday evening and while there were some weird/inappropriate parts, it was mostly VERY well done.

Now that we're almost done with JS&MR I was really hoping to find a show to get into, but I haven't yet.

What I'm Reading

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon  - This was on my summer reading list and it took me FOREVER to get through. After renewing at the library, I finished it just in time for the final "no renews left" due date. I did enjoy it, I just don't think I was in the mood for THAT kind of book.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner - After my Mitford slump, this was the perfect book to shake things up. In fact, it's THE best book I've read in a while. If you haven't read it, don't wait. There's a reason why everyone was talking about this book when it was published. It's a story full of characters and wisdom that will stay with you for a while. I also read these books.

When I wrote this post, I was reading "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen for the FIRST time ever. I really enjoyed it! I like Fanny even though I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to. I couldn't figure Edmund out. I kept wondering if he was friend or foe.

In the Kitchen

My "special" tea. One cup of piping hot Lipton black tea, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. lemon juice (I use the bottled kind by ReaLemon). I woke up with a sore throat back on the 13th and one cup of this chased it right away.

I made Ina Garten's Skillet Lemon Chicken. I love watching Ina make chicken. She uses the flavor combo featured in this recipe to cook chicken any way she can (in the oven, in a skillet, on the grill...), making it made me feel fancy. It's effortless and I think it will make a great company dinner. I paired it with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans (I boiled them just until they were tender and then sauted them in butter and some garlic powder, I prefer the powder because of the texture that it creates as it sticks to the green beans).

I also made biscuits and gravy, german sausage with funeral potatoes, a loaf of cinnamon raisin quick bread, beef stroganof, and my favorite crock pot pork chop dinner. One night, things got desperate and I made a black bean "taco" salad which involved the dregs of the tortillas chip bag. I took a turkey breast from the freezer and turned it into three meals (chicken alfredo, chicken enchiladas, and chicken pot pie soup). It was good to do so much cooking again, even if I did go nearly crazy trying to come up with meal plans.

My proudest kitchen moment happened when I brined and fixed a really amazing beef brisket following my sister's strict instructions! This four and a half pound beauty fed us WELL for like three or four days. YUM.

I went crazy on the soups in September and then kind of backed off in October....We'll see if I make more of them in November.

It's the wrong season, but I still love these. There are six words hidden in this one.
On the Living Room Floor

We've also been playing more games again. We had Aubry over one day to try out Code Name. It is a TON of fun and seems to be best played with exactly 4 people. Which happens to be perfect.

My sister and I have been playing a lot more Mille Borne again. We also played Monopoly once or twice (we play it for 1 hour and see who is ahead at the end of the hour). She tromps me. She's figured out my strategy.

After the Castaway party we taught our friends to play Empires. That game never gets old! I've got my name alll picked out for the next time I get to play it.

As you can see, October was full. I didn't even mention the rehearsals or the shows that my brother and sister have been at nearly every night. We're here. We're alive. And God gives us many great things to enjoy along the way.

What have you been into lately?

Four October Reads

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

October was a pretty decent month for reading! I didn't read very much, but I really liked everything that I did get to read. How many more times can I say read?

When a month is full of so many good books, I basically HAVE to tell you all about them. So, here are four books with some short reviews for you and yours. These would all make great November reads too.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner // This was a book club read. We all pretty much loved it. It's the story of two sisters and the lives that intersected with theirs during WWII in England. It's written in three distinct parts that work together to answer every single "and then what happened?" question you may have. I'd never read Meissner before, but you can be sure that you'll be hearing more about her from now on! Her writing is beautiful, clean, and it transports you to another time and place. There's a reason why everyone has been passing this book around. It's GOOOOD.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber // Abu-Jaber is a Jordanian American and this is her memoir told through food and recipes. She writes about New York and New Jersey and Jordan and the memories each of those places hold for her and her family. The food is probably pretty foreign to the average American, but it is authentic and the recipes are TOTALLY doable. The beauty of Middle Eastern food is that it's mostly different combinations of the same 10 -15 ingredients. Once you develop a taste for it, there are very few things that you won't enjoy. I adored this book. As soon as I finished it, I recommended it to my aunt and my cousin and tried to get my Mom to read it too. Disclaimer: My Mom is in a bit of a reading slump and she could NOT get into it, so it's not for everyone.

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs  // If you're looking for a cozy mystery, THIS is the series for you. I picked it up because of the cover, the number of books in the series on the library shelf, and Childs's note of thanks to Mary Higgins Clark in the front. I expected it to be set in England, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it took place in Charleston, SC (one of my favorite places). You'll get to know Theodosia Browning, the owner of a tea shop in Charleston, and the people that come into her life because of her role as businesswoman. Theo is young (I'm thinking like 32, if I remember correctly) and I kept having to remind myself that she was NOT an elderly woman. She has a dog named Earl Gray and a penchant for getting herself wrapped up murder investigations. I said it was a cozy mystery and it is. There are descriptions of teas (and the occasions on which each one is called for) and the baked goods that are sold in the shop. And...Theo's investigation tactics are not always plausible. BUT. I liked it so much that I immediately went to the library to check out the next one.

Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs  // This is the second installment in Childs's Tea Shop Mystery series. It contained everything that I raved about after reading the first one and even more. In this book, the groundwork had been laid and so the characters came to life a little bit more. The mystery is easier to focus on because you're not having to keep track of a cast of brand new people. In fact, I was able to solve this one on my own by about the midway point. I'll be reading more of this series in the months to come, for sure! Oh, and Childs includes recipes from the book at the very end of each one.

My book club is reading "The Swan House" by Elizabeth Musser this month. Join HERE.

What are you reading right now?