Sunday, December 27, 2009

TSS: Thank You, Santa!

Here we are... the final Sunday Salon of 2009!

Christmas was wonderful, but this weekend is all about relaxation. We hosted Christmas Eve dinner for my family (a much-modified version of the traditional Italian Seven Fish Feast), went to Midnight Mass (which now takes place at 10 PM!), then came home for a champagne toast and 'Santa business'.

Gone are the days of the 5 AM present frenzy! I was the first one up Christmas morning, and enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee while waiting for the girls. When two of the three are up, the third one is awakened (along with my husband) for stockings.

Next comes our relatively new Christmas Breakfast tradition. This year we enjoyed Nan's Baked French Toast. You can find her recipe here. I used a combination of strawberries and blueberries - it was delicious!!

Finally, it was time for presents. Everyone was delighted with their gifts. The biggest round of applause and laughter came when Daughter #1 opened her Jane Austen Action Figure! There were lots of books under the tree this year.
Here is my stack:
From the top:
What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller - a recent addition to my wish list, thanks to Claire
The Women by T.C. Boyle (signed!) - Boyle, one of last year's 'discoveries', is fast becoming a favorite. This is his most recent novel.
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (signed first edition!) - Erdrich is one of my 'discoveries' this year. My daughter found this signed copy at her college bookstore.
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson - both Eva and Staci loved this, and Santa must have heard me complaining about our library system not having a copy
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - I guess Santa got tired of hearing me whine about the non-renewable library copy due back January 2nd!

Later, it was off to my sister's for more gifts and Christmas Dinner.

A beautiful stack of new books, but you'll never guess what I chose to curl up on the couch with yesterday afternoon.... Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf!

I was feeling very relaxed and stress-free, and figured that was the perfect frame of mind to attempt Virginia Woolf. I just fluffed the pillows, threw the afghan on my feet, and let the words kind of flow over me... and do you know what? It's working!!

There are at least a couple of failed attempts at Virginia Woolf in my past, but I think this time will be different. And just in time for Woolf in Winter, too!
Did you receive books for the holidays? What are you reading this week?

I'll be posting a year-end wrap up, my list of favorites, and a few resolutions later this week. But now, I must return to Mrs. Dalloway...


  1. Hi, JoAnn!

    I thought I'd give you an update on your Jonny Flynn! The Wolves are improving, and Jonny is doing wonderful! I thought of you last night while we were at the game, because a bunch of people seated by us were chanting, "MVP! MVP!" every time Jonny took a free throw. :-) Someday!!!

    Have a great New Year!

  2. Oh, that's wonderful! I love the Jane Austen action figure, the E.A.Poe one was on my wishlist! I envy you on your copy of The Plague of Doves. I absolutely adore her. This is a treasure!

  3. I'm doing Mrs. Dalloway for Woolf in the Winter too. And I also got six great new books for Christmas!

  4. I don't think anyone was up this year until 8am! Which is fine by me! You have a nice stack of books there...very impressive! We were at my parents' house in IN this year, so we all got alot of gift cards. There's going to be some serious shopping going on next week! I've been curled up reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which is perfect for a cold snowy day!

  5. I had the same experience with Woolf...tried reading her in my 20s and just didn't click but this year I tried her essays and loved them. I am so glad she is working for you this time around and look forward to hearing more. I cheered when I saw the Wolf Hall knowing you were torn about having to return it. Santa just seems to know these things:) Makes me smile to know your Christmas is going along so merrily. Happy reading!

  6. Sounds like you've had a great Christmas!Good luck on the Woolf. I've tried her before and gave up. I'm also signed up for the Woolf in Winter so this would be the perfect time to start reading Mrs. Dalloway. Happy reading.

  7. When did you hear about these literary action figures?! Somehow they totally missed my radar -- but i am mentally filing away ideas for next Christmas.

    Your book pile looks wonderful - and Mrs. Dalloway does sound like the perfect book. I have not heard of Woolf in Winter, but look forward to checking out the posts.

    Enjoy the rest of this holiday break with the girls.

  8. Santa knows you well! :D Wonderful haul. I haven't had much luck with Woolf's fiction either, though I love her non-fiction. But I plan to try again with Orlando for Woolf in Winter.

  9. Now that is a beautiful stack of books! Embarrassingly enough, I own most of them but am envying you that Plague of Doves.

    Can't wait for Woolf in Winter! Thank you so much for reading along. Mrs. Dalloway is the perfect entry poitn for this too. Happy reading!

  10. Everything sounds great. I received Wolf Hall and Little Bee. Started Wolf. Happy reading.

  11. What a wonderful collection! I have been looking and looking at that Jane Austen book for ages now so I am keen to hear what you think of it. I have to start Mrs Dalloway soon too...

  12. sounds like a great holiday. I'm so happy you got great books (especially Wolf Hall so your library copy can go back..LOL) Enjoy

  13. Lezlie - Hurray for Jonny! We all expect big things from him in the future. Happy New Year!

    Ivana - I love the Jane Austen figure, too... so much that I almost got one for myself! Can't wait to read Plague of Doves. I think the first time I visited your blog there was a post about Erdrich.

    E.L. Fay - I'm looking forward to Woolf in Winter. My plan was to read only Mrs. Dalloway, but we'll see.. New books for Christmas are the best!

    Sandy - Those merchants will cheer when they see you coming with the gift cards! Fingersmith is a perfect book to curl up with this weekend - a real page-turner.

    Book Psmith - I surprised myself when I chose Mrs. Dalloway for Saturday, but I figured that if I couldn't read it in that frame of mind then I never would! Wolf Hall under the tree had me cheering.

    Vasilly - I've given up on Woolf at least twice before. Maybe that old saying about 'third time's a charm' is really true in this case! Hope you have better luck this time around, too!

  14. Molly - The action figures first appeared on dovegreyreader's(?) blog about a year ago, and I've wanted one ever since!

    Nymeth - Santa and I go way back ;-)

    Frances - You shouldn't be embarrassed about owning most of them! Did I hear about the Austen book from you?? I'm looking forward to Woolf in Winter.

    Anonymous - Little Bee was great as as audiobook! I can't wait to really get into Wolf Hall.

    Karen - The Austen book was my biggest surprise. I didn't think 'Santa' even knew I wanted it! Glad you're participating in Woolf in Winter, too.

    Diane - Santa really came through with Wolf Hall! I had visions of paying overdue fines so high I could have bought the book - lol! Now the pressure is off...

  15. What wonderful presents! I also enjoyed Notes on a Scandal. I was surprised many blogggers don't agree. So I'll be curious to see your review on that one.

  16. It looks like many people got Wolf Hall for Christmas!

    I checked out the baked french toast recipe - it looks great! I made it for Thanksgiving but mine had 3 cups of cream in it, and I really wasn't happy about that! I like yours much better!

  17. Your Christmas sounds very relaxing and fun!! I would love to see the Jane Austen action figure!! I'm so glad that your approach to Woolf is working..she intimidates me!!!

    Have a great week and a safe and Happy New Year!

  18. What a wonderful stack of books, JoAnn. I look forward to seeing what you think of Plague of Doves. And I must try the Baked French Toast. Happy reading!

  19. Such great book loot!

  20. Love the Jane Austen Action figure!! Wonderful books; Santa never brings me books :( but occasionally a giftcard will turn up :) I hope you enjoy Mrs. Dalloway!

  21. A Year in Japan is such a beautiful book. And I just bought Wolf Hall with one of my Christmas gift's definitely not a book for racing through!

  22. Mrs. B. - I haven't seen many reviews for Notes on a Scandal, so didn't realize there was such a variety of opinion. Makes me even more anxious to read the book!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - This recipe was delicious, but I had to bake it a little longer... still soggy after 40 minutes. Three cups of cream is a lot!!! I even used skim milk and this one was still a hit!

    Staci - Woolf has always scared the heck out of me... probably because of my previous failures. It's nice to know that several others are reading her right now. You can click on the link to see the JA action figure, but it's not anywhere near as good as seeing the real thing...

    Readerbuzz - Santa did a great job this year!

    Gavin - The only problem with receiving such a great stack of books is that I can't decide where to turn first! Am really excited about the Erdrich though.

  23. Saveophelia - Thanks! I was very happy to receive actual books.. it's usually gift cards.

    DS - We sure had fun with the Jane Austen action figure Christmas morning! The books (other than Wolf Hall) were actually a surprise - I usually get gift cards, too.

    Softdrink - You're racing through Wolf Hall. So glad I don't have to worry about the library due date any more. A Year in Japan IS beautiful - all my blogging friends were right (no surprise there!)

  24. Such a lovely Christmas JoAnn! I'm sure the Jane Austen action figure will have pride of place somewhere on your daughter's desk. R bought me a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife as I absolutely loved Her Fearful Symmetry by Niffenigger and yesterday I treated myself to a copy of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. Very much looking forward to reading your 'favourite book(s)' for 2009!

  25. I just finished Mrs. Dalloway, picking it up early as you did. It's going to be such fun discussing it all together for Woolf in Winter! I can't wait, because I have some things I want to say about it already.

    Don't you like the early mornings without the 'Five a.m. Frenzy"? I sure do! We, too, had a quiet Christmas morning. With all the snow outside it was just beautiful.

    You received some wonderful books; how good that your family knows you.

  26. Darlene - You're going to love The Time Traveler's Wife! I'm sure the Jane Austen action figure will have some interesting collegiate adventures - most of which I will never hear about...

    Bellezza - I'm really looking forward to the Mrs. Dalloway discussion. Hope to finish it this week and collect my thoughts. A peaceful, relaxing Christmas morning is such a blessing! I'm happy you enjoyed one too.

  27. I'm so pleased that you received a copy of Wolf Hall!

    I love my Jane Austen action figure :)

    Mrs Dalloway was my first Virginia Woolf novel and I have never looked back; I'm going to read To the Lighthouse for Woolf in Winter.

  28. I'm glad you had a good Christmas JoAnn! Looks like you got a lot of good books there. I'd love to get Wolf Hall one of these days. I wish you health & happiness in the New Year.

  29. Paperback Reader - I was so happy to receive Wolf Hall, and the library copy has already gone back so the next person can get started. Mrs. Dallowy is going much better this time...guess I just had to bein the right frame of mind.

    Dar - Now that I own Wolf Hall, I can relax and enjoy it - no more due dates - hurray! Happ New Year to you, too!

  30. Aren't readers the easiest people to buy gifts for? Especially when they have a wish list. Love it!

    I haven't heard of any of these books. I tried reading Mrs. Dalloway once, just couldn't do it -- and it's a short book, too.

    Thanks for stopping by -- I've been on a blogging break this past week.

  31. You got such good books! Plague of Doves is fantastic. I just bought Wolf Hall and I have The Women out from the library right now!

  32. Kim - This is actually my third attempt at Mrs. Dalloway! I remember trying once in my 20's and again in my 30' that I've reached "a certain age", it seems to be going better.

    Reviewsbylola - I think our taste in books is very similar!

  33. Wow! You had a great bookish Christmas! I only received one book :( But at least it came from my wish list :)

  34. Stacybuckeye - This is the most books I've ever received for Christmas... quite a surprise. I'm glad the book you received came from your wishlist! Happy New Year.


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