Friday, January 21, 2022


The Downton Abbey Exhibition

I still love Downton Abbey as much as ever. So much in fact, that over the Christmas break, I conned Mr. Woodbank into traveling to Atlanta for the exhibition.

The exhibit was set up just as mentioned on the flyer: the history, the fashion, the house. 


I know it looks like I cut off half their faces, but I didn't. This is how the banners actually looked. 


And my favorite, THE HOUSE. 

I was amazed at the reality created in the downstairs area. 

The kitchen...

Lady Mary's room...

The dining room...

I hope you enjoyed the view of a few parts of Downton Abbey. And in case you haven't heard, there will be another movie out this March, Downton Abbey: A New Era. I'll leave you with the trailer. :-)

See you guys next week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


Good Tuesday to you, friends!

Today I'm sharing four books I've been able to squeeze in a midst two weddings, lots of wedding parties, work, and Covid. They were four extremely different novels. As I started each of them, I knew almost nothing of their story lines. I tend to pick and read books that repeatedly show up on other peoples' list. I'm also in a group on Facebook called Tuscaloosa Page Turners. I've gotten lots of suggestions from it. Ordinary Grace came from that group. I'll start there.

Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger - This one is first because it was my favorite of the four. It pushed all the right buttons for me. The coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1961, introduces us to a family living the small-town life in New Bremen, Minnesota. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is tied together by past experiences or relationships. The town suffers several earth-shaking losses over the course of the summer. It's the summer of multiple murders. These deaths disrupt the lives of all the main characters, but especially Frank. We see the impact this summer has on Frank even some forty years later as he is the narrator. Frank's family, unfortunately, will not be spared from tragedy. Frank's father is a Methodist pastor, his mom and sister are both musical talents, and he has a younger brother who surprised me in the end. The power of family, forgiveness, second chances, and the gift of ordinary grace made this one of the best things I've read lately. 

Between Two Kingdoms - Suleika Jaouad - This one was like nothing I had read before. "A Memoir of a Life Interrupted." Suleika Jaouad is a twenty-two year old writer who has her entire life in front of her. The only thing holding her back is an intense itch that she nor the doctors can figure out. She's met a great guy, has a plan, moves to Paris to put it into action, and then she gets the diagnosis of leukemia. The novel is her cancer journey and her life journey, filled with ups and downs, and love and loss. While in treatment for the cancer, she begins chronicling her story for the the New York Times. "Life, Interrupted." She meets so many unique and special people along the way. Because of her article, people from all over write to her. When her condition improves, and she is able, she treks across the country to meet some of the people her story has impacted. While the book was not full of rainbows and sunshine, I still enjoyed it immensely. So much in fact, that it made me stop and really think about what makes a book "good" to me. I've decided when I feel, not just relate to, but when I can actually feel some of what the character feels and what the character is going through, when I'm slightly changed thanks to a main character, to me, that's it. These first two books did just that. 

The Bone Jar - S W Kane - Okay, to be fair, I was reading this book at the end of the summer when I was in the throws of the final stages of planning my daughter's wedding. I can't give this one high ratings. It wasn't bad, and I probably would have liked it better if I wasn't reading it at night, half asleep. The setting is a run down asylum. The body of an older women turns up in one of the rooms of the abandoned asylum, and the main character Detective Lew Kirby goes to work. I actually liked him. The character who kept me engaged is a former, somewhat odd employee who lives on the grounds of the asylum. He knows much more than he lets on during the investigation. The book has many twists and many characters and wraps up nicely. I should probably read it again and give it another chance. It has good reviews! But for me it was just a three out of five stars. 

Verity - Colleen Hoover - This one caught me a little off guard. Tons of people were talking about it and everyone seems to love Colleen Hoover books. So without checking into it much, I downloaded it. The book has one of the best "hooks" I can remember. It starts with the main character, a writer, witnessing a horrible accident on her way to a meeting. After accepting an unusual, unconventional writing job, Lowen Ashleigh discovers the family she's working for is living in a disturbing situation. Lowen becomes involved in all aspects of the family's life, and eventually uncovers truths that are hard for her to make sense of. I can't say that I loved the book, but it was hard to put down. The story line was fabulous, just not what I usually reach for when picking my next book. If you enjoy a thriller, this one should probably be on your list. But FYI, if it were a movie, it would probably be between a high PG-13 and low R rating. 

Right now I'm in the middle of The Midnight Library. So far I love it. 

Your turn! What are you all reading? Leave me a list below in the "comment" section. :-)

Monday, January 03, 2022


Life Around the Lane: December 2021

No doubt like your December, our December was crammed full of people, activities, and places.  Unfortunately though, it was topped off with a case of Covid. My mom missed Christmas for the first time ever. She's recovering well, and I'm so grateful for that. I've been getting the house back in order, and preparing to go back to work for the spring semester. I'm halfway finished with my 25th year in the classroom. That seems CRAZY! (and makes me sound old. Ha)

Here's how we finished up 2021...

I snapped the camellia picture in the courtyard of my high school before leaving the for the Christmas break. Isn't it gorgeous? The jury is still out on whether or not we will have a winter here. As I'm typing this, it's 75 degrees out. (Edited to add: It snowed last night! #onlyinAlabama)

I'm terrible during the holidays to shop for myself as I'm shopping for others, so I ordered two of these. It's a new favorite for gathering inspiration. 

There are lots of December birthdays around here! My mother-in-law was first, then Mr. Woodbank, then me, and last but not least, my daughter-in-law. 

One of the two grandpuppies spent a little time with us! Always a treat and lots of exercise. 

I did a little baking. I made this cookie and baked these for my office staff at school. So yummy. 

Christmas came and went just as quickly as it always does, and then we decided to take off for a few days. Mr. Woodbank and I went to Atlanta to regroup and get ready for the new year. We stayed in a groovy hotel in midtown. Based on the design of the this hallway, I guess they knew I was coming. :-)

We visited three venues while there: the Downton Abbey Exhibition, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the High Museum of Art. I'll devote a full post to Downton Abbey later in January, but here are a couple of pictures for now.

The College Football Hall of Fame - the helment of every team. 

The High Museum of Art - it was worth every penny of the price of admission.

Most of my Christmas is taken down now and packed away. My real wreath-believe it or not-is still alive and looking pretty good. It'll stay up on my front door a little longer, and I'm leaving my tree up a few more weeks. But other than that, things are looking back to normal. Are you team "take it all down immediately" or team "let it linger a while"? (You can answer below at the end of the post.)

I finished a book and started this one. I'll have a book post to share this month also. 

We watched this limited series and although it was not your regular "who done it", I enjoyed it, and it's based on a true story. 

Now moving on to January... I'm hoping for a slow month. :-)