Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Grandmother, A Woman of Valor

Clara Frank 11/10/17- 8/20/10

I haven't been able to dedicate much time to my blog lately as I've been focused on spending every moment with family. My grandmother Clara was an amazing lady, she lived a long and wonderful life and she passed away last week at the age of 92. This is a beautiful picture of her with my son Andrew at her 90th birthday celebration, less than 2 years ago. We celebrated her life at her funeral yesterday, it was sad and bittersweet as we miss her tremendously but treasure the memories that we have of her. She was an amazing lady and one that we are proud to call a Woman of Valor. The scripture from Proverbs 31 describes A Woman of Valor and my grandmother exemplified these traits beautifully:

I spoke during her eulogy yesterday at her funeral and wanted to share some of my thoughts in remembrance and honor of my wonderful Grandmother:

It would be impossible to express the depth of who my grandmother was in just a few words. She was the glue that held the family together, there was nothing more important to her than family. She set the foundation for us all and gave us unconditional love so that we could have strength to find our own ways in life. As a child I felt her warmth and love and as an adult I grew to understand the depth of her love and caring spirit. And when I finally became a mother it was then that I began to understand the many facets of my grandmother‘s character.

She was proud of her family, always there for them in so many ways, she would go out of her way to spend time with everyone. She was there when my son Andrew was born and when he was in the hospital the first week of his life. There was nothing that would take her away from being by our side.

My grandmother showed me the importance of staying strong even in tough times. She shared with us how she grew up through the depression, her mother made her clothes, her brothers showed her how to line her shoes with cardboard so that they would last longer as their parents could not afford new shoes for 7 children. She let us know that her parents showed their children great love even when they didn’t have much financially. My grandmother gave from the heart and with great love. As she got older and moved back from Florida, we spent a lot of time with her as she loved getting out going to lunch, shopping and wanting to know what was going on in our lives. My son Andrew was blessed with a beautiful relationship with his great grandmother or “GG” as the great grandchildren liked to call her.

I will forever treasure the memories I have of growing up with a special grandmother who was always there for me and understanding. Clara was a woman of strength, courage and determination. When she made up her mind she would do something she found a way to accomplish it. She surprised us all over the years as she endured health problems and continued to remain independent. No matter what, she would find a way to get her hair done, her clothes washed and iron even when she was getting around using a walker. Her doctor in the nursing home she lived in referred to her as the Phoenix, she was able to rise above the ashes and persevere. Her strength and tenacity were amazing to all of those who were touched by her life and fortunate to know her. She was an amazing woman and there is no other like Clara Nagel Allenick Frank. I am honored to call her my grandmother and blessed to have had her in my life for so long. I will miss her and treasure the moments that I had with her.

I read this poem in her honor:

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


I love you Grandma and will miss you,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday ~ August 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a fun meme that was created by Marcia of The Printed Page and is now on tour – the host for this month is Chick Loves Lit. I haven't posted a Mailbox Monday post for a few weeks. Here are some of the books that arrived in my mailbox the past few weeks:

RadianceJack Blank and the Imagine Nation (Jack Blank (Trilogy))One Flight Up: A NovelRussian Winter: A NovelA Scattered LifeSunset Park: A NovelThe King's Mistress: A NovelSaving Max


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Salon: Summertime

This has been a busy summer for me and my family. I haven't been blogging as much as some of you may have noticed, my postings have been less frequent. I haven't been reading as much as I usually do but the books that I have read have been wonderful. Even my book club seemed to take a mini hiatus due to our schedules and we had a wonderful friend move out of state. It just won't be the same without her and we have to regroup our book club now.

My son is transitioning to the middle school (6th grade) this year so that will be a whole new experience. He was in a local theater camp this summer and had a great part as the Evil Stepfather in Twinderella. It was a whole new experience for him as this was the first time he had a speaking part and had to learn lines, music and he had a solo. He had his share of nerves and we hope the stage jitters will ease a bit as he does this more often. He has announced that next year he wants to mainly focus on technical theater. He may be more comfortable behind the scenes.

I will be starting a new part time job in a new to me area as a school based Occupational Therapist. I've been going to conferences this summer,  studying and preparing myself for the transition. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I read a quote yesterday on author Claire Cook's Facebook Wall and it hit home for me:

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." - 
                                                                      ~Georgia O'Keeffe
I found this to be inspiring that someone as successful as Georgia O'Keefe could work through her fears and not let her feelings stop her success.

I'll continue to maintain my blog as I transition to a new routine but I may be blogging and reading a bit less. I've cut back on my blog tour and review committments as it was too stressful to meet so many deadlines. I'm focusing on catching up on the books I've accepted for review and ones that I want to read. I haven't been visiting my blog friends as much this summer and commenting on your posts and I miss keeping up with everyone. I plan to work in more time to visit and comment.

I'm currently reading The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier and it's a wonderful story and the character is the same age as me but we are at different stages of our lives. I'm enjoying this book! I'm also listening to The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith on CD. This is the 9th novel in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I enjoy this series as it follows the same characters and their adventures and especially the narrators authentic dialect. This is a perfect cozy mystery series to indulge in.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Paula Deen's Savannah Style by Paula Deen and Brandon Branch

About Paula Deen's Savannah Style:

In this gorgeous, richly illustrated book, Paula Deen shares a full year of Southern living. Whether it’s time to put out your best china and make a real fuss, or you’re just gathering for some sweet tea on the porch at dusk, Savannah style is about making folks feel welcome in your home. With the help of decorator and stylist Brandon Branch, you’ll learn how to bring a bit of Southern charm into homes from Minnesota to Mississippi. For each season, there are tips on decorating and entertaining. In the spring, you’ll learn how to make the most of your outdoor spaces, spruce up your porch, and make your garden inviting. In the summer, things get more casual with a dock party. Sleeping spaces, including, of course, the sleeping porch, are the focal point of this chapter. In the fall, cooler weather brings a return to more formal entertaining in the dining room, and in the winter, attention returns to the hearth, as Paula and her neighbors put out their best silver and show you how they celebrate the holidays.

My Thoughts:

I'm thrilled to be hosting a book tour stop for Paula Deen's newest book, Savannah Style. Paula Deen is a positive example of Southern living and I love her spunk, humor and positive outlook on life. I'm a Northerner and I enjoy the slow and gentle calmness that the southern lifestyle represents.

Savannah Style is beautifully illustrated from cover to cover, inside and out. It is filled with rich and vibrant photos that depict a full year of Southern living in the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia. Paula and  Brandon Branch, her decorator and stylist, share how to bring Southern charm and specifically Savannah Style into any home. There are tips on decorating and entertaining based on the four seasons and the focus is on making yourself and others feel comfortable and welcome into your home. There are photographs from Paula's homes as well as other homes throughout Savannah.

In the Spring, my favorite sections were learning about porches, courtyard gardens, the beauty of wrought iron and wicker in Savannah. In the summer, my favorite sections were about eat in kitchens, sleeping porches, Tybee Color and especially Family Memories. Paula has a "memory table" where she displays favorite family photos in a variety of frames. In Autumn, I enjoyed the sections on Comfort rooms where Paula emphasized making a living room one that is comfortable, filled with favorite items and for "livin!'". I loved the section on Book Nooks and ways to display and share collections of books. In Winter, I enjoyed reading about Flea Market treasures and appreciating that  something old and weathered is just as special as something new.

I am a Northerner, I am decorating challenged and I have never visited the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia. I found Savannah Style to be a fabulous way to convey the beauty of the Southern Style of Savannah. I appreciated that Paula shared the more formal aspects as well as the comfortable styles and even ways to save money decorating. It has challenged me to find my own style and express that in my home beyond the off white walls that the builder painted when we built our home. My husband and I have some projects and ideas ahead of us and this book helped me get an idea of ways to express our own style.

This is a beautiful book to read by Seasons or by the sections within the seasons. It can be read leisurely or even in one sitting, add a pitcher of sweet tea by your side and that would be a nice treat! It would also make a wonderful gift for anyone who is a fan of Paula Deen, Savannah, the South and/or  decorating.

Check out this video of Paula talking about Savannah Style and decorating:

About Paula Deen:

She is the quintessential American success story, a best-selling author and a television show host, a tastemaker to the stars and to the everyday housewife and family. She is Paula Deen, a down-home, strong willed mom who overcame personal tragedy, long odds, financial and physical challenges to carve one of the most effective and wide ranging entertainment brands that exists today. A brand that is idyllic, inspiring, fun and very much American.

Visit Paula's website, HERE.

Paula Deen is virtually touring the blogosphere during the month of July on her virtual Book Tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can visit Paula's other blog stops and find out more information about this delightful and fun book and talented author, HERE.

Disclosure: A copy of this book was sent by the publisher as part of a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour. I am an Amazon and Indiebound associate.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway with Margaret Dilloway for How to Be an American Housewife

Yesterday, I reviewed How to Be an American Housewife a captivating debut novel by Margaret Dilloway. This novel highlights the conflicts between cultures and how to adapt to them, the challenges between Japanese mothers and their American born daughters and coming to terms with hidden secrets and family discoveries. Personally, I loved this novel, the main characters were full of strength and character and I enjoyed the focus on the mother daughter relationship. That is something that most women can relate to and for me I could especially relate to the experience of having a foreign born mother. As I shared in my review (you can read it HERE), my mother was German born and raised and came to America after marrying my father who was stationed there in the Air Force. She barely spoke English and had to learn our culture and ways and adjust to a new family of different background while leaving behind her family of origin. Mothers who come from different cultures have their own experiences and beliefs to share with their daughters and families. I didn't appreciate everything when I was younger, especially when my mom served soft boiled eggs in egg cups for breakfast. Later, I learned to appreciate more of  the cultural differences, but I still don't care for soft boiled eggs. Although, I do love German Goulash and German potato salad.

I'm thrilled to welcome Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife to share a wonderful guest post with everyone today. Margaret will share her thoughts about parenting.


My mom taught me not to use processed foods. She was proud of making things from scratch and always had to serve a vegetable and grain with the family dinner; she taught me not to serve two starches together. Everything from a birthday cake to mashed potatoes had to be homemade. I am not quite so strict, especially since boxed foods have improved so much, but I definitely hear her saying in my head, “Mash your own potatoes! It won’t take much more time.”

She was also very conscious of waste, and taught me how to save rainwater for later use (not that there’s much in San Diego), how to hang laundry, how to compost. It made me aware of conservation as a thing to do because it’s responsible and frugal.

In terms of interaction with children, I am really not much like my mother, and that is a fairly deliberate choice. I heard on the radio the other day that in Japanese culture, the mother will criticize the child because success is expected and shortcomings must be overcome. I remember the criticisms stinging more than helping, though, so if I have to correct my child, I tend to explain why more than my mother did and be gentler with my words.

                                                    ~Margaret Dilloway

Thanks to Margaret Dilloway for sharing her thoughts on parenting and how we can learn from our parents but we can also deliberately choose to be different than our parents. Visit Margaret's Blog, American Housewife, HERE.


I am excited to tell you that you have the opportunity to win your own copy of  How to Be an American Housewife! Thanks to the publisher, Penguin and TLC Book Tours, they have offered to send a copy of the book to One lucky winner!

All you have to do is leave a comment, make sure to include your email address so that I can contact you if you are a winner. Otherwise, I won't be able to include your name in the drawing. Open to US & Canada only, No PO Boxes. Books will ship directly to the winners from the publisher.

Enter by August 14, 2010.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

Description of How to Be an American Housewife:
A lively and surprising novel about a Japanese woman with a closely guarded secret, the American daughter who strives to live up to her mother’s standards, and the rejuvenating power of forgiveness.

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn’t been what she’d expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.

My Thoughts:

How to Be an American Housewife is a captivating debut novel by Margaret Holloway. The story begins as Shoko, a Japanese woman, tells us the story of her turbulent life as a child growing up during the invasion of Japan and the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. She marries an American soldier, Charlie, at the suggestion of her father so that she could make a new life in America. Shoko tells her story in flashbacks as she is now an older woman suffering from a heart condition that may have resulted from radiation exposure from the bombings in Japan. Her greatest desire is to return to Japan and mend her relationship with her brother Taro who has not spoken to her since she married an American man.

Shoko's new life in America is a hard one to adjust to. She is married to a Navy man and they move every three years. She has a child, Mike, within the first year of her marriage and a girl, Suiko, many years later. It is hard for Shoko to find friends as she is different culturally and her English is not well refined. She must learn the ways of being an American housewife which is a challenge as the cultures are so different. Her husband Charlie, gives her a homemaking guide, a book called The American Way of Housekeeping which ends up being a wonderful resource for Shoko. At the beginning of each chapter the author shares an excerpt from this fictional guide which were fun to read. Here are a few excerpts that I found interesting:

"When you marry and integrate with Americans, it is only natural no to have friends. Most American women will dislike you. Perhaps looking for other Japanese women will be possible, but probably not. Expect to be alone much of the time. Children help relieve this melancholy."
-From the chapter Culture for Women," How to Be an American Housewife (Pg.37 ARC)


Spaghetti Sauce is the easiest American recipe to make, as long as you remember all the steps and do it far in advance. Letting it sit overnight in the refrigerator is best for developing its flavors. Add sugar if the sauce is too acidic.

Your Husband will be amazed when he comes home to a big pot of spaghetti sauce. It is also a crowd-pleaser. Even little babies and Japanese people like spaghetti sauce.

-From the chapter, "Cooking Western-Style" How to Be an American Housewife (Pg. 110, ARC)

The novel shifts in the second half as it is told through Shoko's daughter Suiko also known as "Sue". Shoko and Sue have their challenges as mother and daughter over the years. Much of it was due to cultural differences as Shoko was raised in Japan and Sue is being raised in a much different cultural environment in America.  Sue is now an adult, a struggling single mother of a daughter Helena, who is 12. Shoko asks Sue to travel to Japan in her place and to find her brother Taro. Sue is hesitant but her daughter Helena convinces her to go together. Their trip to Japan is life changing for them all and opens the hearts of many family members which allows them to let go of past secrets and embrace the future.

HHow to Be an American Housewife highlights the conflicts between cultures and how to adapt to them, the challenges between Japanese mothers and their American born daughters and coming to terms with hidden secrets and family discoveries. I enjoyed this book immensely and felt that it is a story that anyone will enjoy but especially those who are daughters of foreign born mothers. My own mother was foreign born and raised, not from Japan but from Germany. She met my father, an American stationed in Germany and she spoke very little English when she came to America. We didn't have the issue of appearances being different but culturally there were differences. Food, holidays, religions were different just as Shuko and Charlie were of different backgrounds and religions. Melding families of different backgrounds and being a parent in a culture that is different from the one you've been raised in is a challenge. I can see that as an adult now, looking back and I have great respect for my mother and for women who face these challenges when they integrate themselves and their families into a different culture. They are leaving behind their immediate families and past to start anew. It is not easy and takes great inner strength and determination to make it work. I found that Ms. Dilloway did a superb job through her writing to express this point and so many others throughout this book.

I especially enjoyed reading that the author, Ms. Dilloway, based this book on inspiration from her own Japanese mother's experiences including her heart condition. Sadly, Ms. Dilloway's mother died when she was in her 60's and Margaret was just 20. This novel is fiction but there are several stories included that were directly from her mother's life. Ms. Dilloway's father did give her mother a copy of a book called The American Way of Housekeeping which was a guide written in Japanese with English translation and inspired the writing of How to Be an American Housewife. The book was actually written for housekeepers but was often used as a guide for housewives because there was nothing else to guide them. You can read more about The American Way of Housekeeping, here on Ms. Dilloway's website.

About Margaret Dilloway:

Margaret Dilloway was inspired by her Japanese mother’s experiences when she wrote this novel, and especially by a book her father had given to her mother called The American Way of Housekeeping. She lives in Hawaii with her husband and three young children.

How to Be an American Housewife is her first novel.

Visit Margaret’s blog, American Housewife, HERE.

Reading Group Guide for How To Be An American Housewife, HERE.

I read How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway as part of her book tour with TLC Book Tours. You can check out other tour stops and reviews, here.

Disclosure: Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book. I am an Amazon and Indiebound associate.