Monthly Archives: January 2014

Canvas print giveaway for my readers!–WINNER ANNOUNCED

Giveaway is now closed!

I used the random number generator to pick a number. I did not count duplicate comments from people, or my own replies, so it was between 1 and 20. results


And the 12th (different) commenter was (badoom badoom) . . .

. . . Jenny from Words on Wendhurst!

Congrats, my sweet red-headed friend. I’ll be emailing you the code to redeem the print shortly.

Love you all and thanks for participating!


Hey guys!

So . . . I don’t think I’ve ever hosted a giveaway. And considering I’ve been blogging for going on 4 years (!?), that’s kind of . . . a crime. So when the folks at Printcopia offered to send me a canvas print in exchange for a product review, and also offered to give my readers the chance to win a free canvas print, I was really excited. I had actually been thinking about getting some family pictures printed anyway, so the timing was perfect.

For my canvas print, I decided to order one of the family pictures that our good friend Zane took of us last November, right after Alice turned 1. Their website is pretty easy to use–basically I just uploaded the image I wanted and chose a color for the wraparound part of the canvas.

It just arrived, and I am super pleased.

Alice helped me investigate.


She was quite thorough.



Hey . . . it’s Dada!


Here’s how it looks on our bookshelf . . .


. . . and a living room shelf. I’m not sure where to put it yet.


By the way, I love the brick color I picked for the wraparound part of the canvas.


I made the decision to veer away from black or white without being sure if I’d like the results, but I love how it turned out.

The only thing I didn’t like was that I did have to pay extra to include wall mounts. So I paid $1.60 to have that included . . . and then it turns out that they come in a little baggie instead of being already attached to the canvas. I guess not the biggest tragedy in my life. But there you have it.

So now on to the good stuff! Printcopia will give one of you lucky people (U.S. only–sorry to my internationally located friends) a free canvas print the same size as mine, 8×10 (or 10×8–you can change the orientation, as I did). In order to enter, just answer the following question in the comments below:

What do you do to combat the post-Christmas blues? Or do you even get them? If not, what makes you so awesome?

See, I managed to elude the blues until now. I had a trip to Arizona last week to visit my sister Erica after the birth of her new little one, Joshua Richard, and then I was on a women’s retreat for church, so those two big events kept me emotionally propelled forward after the New Year. But now that the excitement is dying down I’m like, “um . . . what? Life? Work? Cooking meals on a regular basis? Huh.”

But enough about my emotional blahitty-blah and back to the giveaway thingy. On Monday I will use a random method (TBD) to determine the winner. I will announce the winner here and also contact them by email with the code to redeem their print.

Good luck, my peeps!

Tales of the Otori

otoriLet’s just say that since having a tiny tot in my life, I haven’t been devouring books at the same pace I used to.

Correction–I’ve been reading more books than ever. Sometimes up to a dozen a day. But they have titles like “The Best Mouse Cookie” and “Rosie’s Walk,” “This Rabbit, that Rabbit” and “Good Night Moon.”

I mean, I’m all about the cow jumping over the moon, the light and the red balloon–even, in fact, the bears on chairs and the kittens and mittens. But the main pleasure there isn’t as much the stories as the small fuzzy head leaned against me and the small fat hand turning the pages, the little index finger pointing enthusiastically at the trendy rabbit and the bendy rabbit . . . aaaah.


Anyway, for a walloping good story I need to go elsewhere. One of my coworkers recently recommended a series called Tales of the Otori. Since this was the same guy who had recommended Gail Tsukiyama and Peace Like a River (which are a-mazing), I knew this series had to be good. Starting with “Heaven’s Net is Wide,” within a matter of chapters I was drawn into an incredible world. Set in something like medieval Japan, the author Lian Hearn has made a rich, fully encompassing backdrop for an epic story which I do not want heronto ever, ever end. The details are vibrant, the language poetic, and the plot surprising. Many times I thought, “oh, this is where she’s taking the character.” And then I was wrong–oh so wrong.

The basic story: Otori Shigeru is the heir to his kingdom. However, after the cruel ruler of the country to the East conquers him in a battle won by treachery, the Three Countries are submerged in a dark, violent time. Shigeru adopts an attitude of defeated submission and waits patiently for many years until the time when he can reclaim his inheritance. As he secretly plans his revenge, he adopts a youth named Takeo, who has been brought up among the Hidden, a spiritual people who denounce killing of any kind and worship a God whose name they do not speak. But Takeo also has Tribe blood in his parentage. The Tribe is a clan of spies and assassins with extraordinary skills, who hire themselves out to the warlords and embrace lives of violence and betrayal for their own gain. With these two conflicting identities battling in him, Takeo becomes the key to Shigeru’s plan to rescue his people from tyranny and kill the man that brought about his downfall, Iida Sadamu. Sadamu, in fear of assassination attempts, has surrounded his chambers with a nightingale floor, constructed to sing at the fall of every human step.

There are elements of fantasy–people of the Tribe with super-acute hearing, the ability to become invisible for minutes at a time and that type of thing–but in a restrained manner so that you find the whole thing totally believable. There is love, revenge, beauty and squalor, and the story carries you through multiple generations of the Otori family. There is some sex but it’s never (in my opinion) gratuitous. There’s some violence too, but also not gratuitous as I sometimes found it in books like The Pillars of the Earth.

I’m just beginning the final book in the series, “The Harsh Cry of the Heron,” and I’m already mourning the end.