Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.” -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

It’s that middle point of the summer I love, when the sun shines bright and the weather begs for us to pull up a beach chair, hammock, or a shady piece of grass and enjoy it with a book. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. And I love having my sons around. They’re at such fun ages — I treasure having summers with them, and having some extra time to create. Here are 4 things I’ve been up to lately:

This week at, I’m recommending one of the best books I’ve read in a long time …

Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle

When a friend hands me a book and insists I read it, I know it will be good. But sometimes a great book jumps at me when I least expect it. This is the case with VILLA TRISTE  by Lucretia Grindle. I knew nothing about it when I picked it up, but it is one of the best books I’ve read in many years, for its gripping storyline, lyrical writing, and historical setting.

Villa Triste is woven between past and present, through the eyes of a young woman in Florence, Italy in 1943, whose story is rediscovered by a police inspector in present times. The dual timeframe novel has become my favorite for its richness, for the depth of past struggles and the present need to understand them.

Villa Triste begins as young Caterina Cammaccio tries on her wedding dress at a bridal salon with her mother and sister, though it’s not an ordinary bridal fitting. Her fiancé is fighting in World War II, which they all believe will end soon. But instead of peace arriving as they hope, the German occupation of Florence and of Italy begins. The dress, lavish with seed pearls and silk, is hung to wait. … Read more by clicking here.

My Mid-Summer Reads Stack

And, I’m working my way through a stack of books.


my mid-summer reads pile

The Garden

Our backyard in our new house was a blank slate when we moved in a few months ago (no trees, shrubs, or really any grass), so I’ve been busy planting a garden. For those of you who are successful with food gardens, I’ll share that my tomato plant produced some beautiful tomatoes, but has died. Gone. Kaput. But, everything else seems to be thriving — roses, phlox, daisies, poppies — my backyard is becoming a riot of color.


a garden Poppy

The Big Summer Painting

Finally, I’ve been painting. I have a studio now, for writing, painting, photography, etc., and it is my ultimate bliss place. It even has a small corner for my easel and a large canvas I’m painting of the view from the walls of Siena, Italy, across the surrounding Tuscan countryside.


Jennifer (me) painting

Every season of the year is a time I enjoy creating, but there is something special about summer … How about you? Do you enjoy creating something in summer?