Two Scottish Mysteries

Summer reading — isn’t it just the greatest? Trying to find books set in Scotland in anticipation of our fall vacation has been interesting, though. I’m surprised at how little I’ve found; beyond M.C. Beaton’s Scottish mysteries featuring Hamish Macbeth and Diana Gabaldon’s massive Outlander series, there’s not much. Okay, I know there are books but maybe my library doesn’t have them. Here’s Wikipedia’s list. Anyone have any suggestions for me?

Death of a Travelling Man (Hamish Macbeth, #9)Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have gotten hooked on the Hamish Macbeth series, and while this wasn’t my favorite of the few I’ve read, it was cleverly plotted and full of excellent character development. I found it interesting that the villain is a “traveling man” — another word for hippie or drifter — and the author distinguishes this from the Roma travelers common in Europe. As with all of Beaton’s smysteries, our hero solves several cases throughout the course of the book, and I also learned more about Priscilla, Hamish’s fiancee. I really need to go back and read these in order.

Death of a Village (Hamish Macbeth, #18)Death of a Village by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the reasons I like the Hamish Macbeth series is its seeming back-in-time plots that turn out to be very modern indeed. This book was no exception. I’m not going to give away the solution to the mystery, but I loved how a modern invention is used to terrorize a community.

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Thanks for commenting and sharing ideas with me. I love you guys!

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Shadows and Reflections Photo Essay

I’ve got a new camera and I’m in love! More on that later, but today I’m sharing my photos from Fathers’ Day, with a theme of shadows and reflections in a photo essay.

As I’ve been learning about my camera and lenses, I’ve also learned that choosing a theme for the day helps to organize my creativity and my output. My relatives and friends will tell you that there’s only so many flower photos they can stand in one day!

My day started with church and the beautiful light that comes in through side windows in our altar area. That set my theme for the day.
Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

We went to the Art Institute of Chicago in the afternoon specifically to see the exhibit America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. This collection will be shown until September 18, 2016, and I highly recommend it. The show includes well-known works by Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and Thomas Hart Benton. While resting on the chairs outside the exhibit, I noticed that the glass wall of the exhibition hall was reflecting both the outdoor garden and the people walking by.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo EssayAfter we viewed the exhibit, we visited some of the other art galleries in the Modern wing of the museum. There were some winners, but I have to admit, I don’t get a lot of what is called modern art. I wasn’t the only one; every now and then we would encounter another visitor laughing quietly at a piece of “art”. The following two pieces caught my eye due to their three-dimensional nature that caused shadows and reflections.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

Five Blues (Punj Neelay) by Rasheed Araeen

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

We escaped to the cool basement rooms to see the treasures from Iran, and encountered beautiful tiles and artifacts.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

After we had our fill of art, Music Man asked for a pint of dark beer for his special day, so our daughter chose the Beer Bistro for our dinner. The beer list was wide-ranging, and the food was fresh and well-prepared. Of course, the camera came out to pick up a few interesting images.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

Mirrors make the best photos, and turning it into black and white highlighted all of the interesting architecture in this pub.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

There was some sort of metal tower out in the courtyard between the buildings, and the late afternoon sun caught its shadow.

Shadows and Reflections: Photo Essay

The metal tower again, framed by the barred window, a troll and a wine bottle inside the pub.

So what’s the new camera? It’s a 4/3 mirrorless Panasonic Lumix G7, and I bought a 14-140 zoom lens to use as my walking around lens. I am also borrowing a 100-300 zoom lens, which I’m pretty sure I have to buy from my friend. This camera fits in my purse, is lightweight, and takes lighting fast photos. I’m hooked!

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Book Review: Death of a Poison Pen

Death of a Poison Pen (Hamish Macbeth, #19)Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hamish McBeth is a wonderful character, and Beaton has surrounded the likable policeman with intriguing Highland characters. This mystery was pretty complex, with new twists and turns popping up everywhere, all clothed in wit with a gentle author’s touch.

If you haven’t started reading this series, start with this one. It’s a goodie!

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Foodie Friday: Fabulous fresh fish at Boston Fish Market

People have been telling me about the extraordinary fresh fish at Boston Fish Market in Des Plaines, Illinois, but I had no idea what I was going to encounter when my friend and I went to lunch there recently.

A Chicago business that moved to the suburbs in search of a bigger facility, Boston Fish Market has been in business for a long time and are experienced fish processors. They claim to process hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish each week from around the globe.

Boston Fish Market sign Continue reading

Spring Flowers in the Garden

As soon as it is reasonably warm enough to walk safely and comfortably, I like to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden at least once a week. I am lucky to have this amazing public garden practically in my back yard — it’s only about a 35-minute drive and as a member I get unlimited entry.

With the promise of a perfect day and glorious spring flowers in bloom, I headed up to the CGB with my camera, set on manual mode. I was determined to get some practice using manual rather than program or automatic modes.

IMG_6554-001

I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

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Foodie Friday: Via Roma in Des Plaines, Illinois

We have been frequent visitors at a little hideaway in Des Plaines for many years.  It’s a small restaurant with big Italian flavors, and worth the wait on busy weekend nights.

Entrances are on both busy Lee Street (one-way north) and off the municipal parking lot at the rear of the restaurant.

Entrances are on both busy Lee Street (one-way north) and off the municipal parking lot at the rear of the restaurant. Image Credit

Chef Alessandro Forti (formerly of La Strada and La Donna) and his wife Lisa Leslie offer simple, uncomplicated Italian food in this BYOB gem.

Via Roma is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, with its 10:30 opening time perfect for an early lunch after a morning of coffee — to make room for the good food that awaits you. My friend and I arrived at 10:30 and were the first ones there. We benefited from fresh bread, wonderful aromas, and a welcoming staff. Chef Forti was very present — writing the specials on the board and greeting customers. Continue reading

TBT: My first ever blog post about my father and France

Dad

See why I tell people I look just like him? Cause. I. Do.

I wrote this post in October, 2009, the first entry on my fledgling blogging site, Sentimental Journeys, and it seems amazing now that I was planning my first trip to France. Since then, we have been to France twice, and I long to visit again soon.

Because this post is mostly about my father, and yesterday would have been his 93rd birthday, it seems appropriate to bring it back into the light on Throwback Thursday.

Dad, we hope you are dancing and singing and gardening and cooking happily in heaven. Continue reading

The Book I Haven’t Written Yet

I was at the library the other day, and hidden among the travel guides was a charming little book written by author, artist, and traveler Susan Branch.

Click on link to see Susan Branch's web site

Click on photo to see Susan Branch’s web site

It sat on my TBR pile for a few days, but since it’s from the library, I knew I needed to get cracking on it before it was due. To come clean, I have a bunch of other books that I SHOULD be reading but this one was speaking to my soul. What a wonderful title!

Imagine my amazement, delight, and honestly, my chagrin, when I found that Susan Branch has actually written the book I was born to write. It’s kind of a good thing/bad thing. Written in the form of a journal and memorializing her 25th anniversary trip to England with her husband, the book abounds with quotes from songs and authors, hand-painted illustrations, and photos and stories from her travels. Continue reading

Looking for the light revisited

Hey, friends! It’s nice to see you again. Thanks for sticking with me. I’ve been busy taking photos!

GotMyReservations Reflection

In photography class we are working on using natural light to illuminate our photos — to “see the light” is the hallmark of a good photographer. As bloggers, we know that a striking photo is important to our work. It’s also easy to use simple items to boost the light in your photos — try using a piece of white posterboard as a reflector. In this photo of a crystal punchbowl, I had a white foam core board over on the right, and the mirror also gave more reflected light. You may remember this mirror from a previous post about creating vignettes. I also posted another photo the last time I took a photography class. I’m very consistent. 🙂 Continue reading

Pinterest Sort

If you are like me, your Pinterest board is a mess and you can’t find things when you want to add pins.

After three weeks in Europe, I have a lot to add to my travel boards, but I was despairing of how to easily access boards and also to clean up duplicates.

I discovered this Chrome extension and it works magically. I can’t believe I never did this before.

How to Arrange Your Pinterest Boards in One Easy Step

Try it. It’s a life changer.

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