Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly blog post about five things that caught my attention this week. It's been all about Christmas this week- mailing our Christmas cards, and wrapping gifts.
1) In February our local Papyrus store was closing, so I popped in to see what they had left and found these terrific Christmas cards with a New York City theme. One is of St. Patrick's Cathedral, where we have spent time at masses there, and the other is Yankee Stadium, where we have also spent a lot of time at and jokingly refer to as "the Cathedral of Baseball." I got them 70% off, a great deal, and even better, I remembered where I put them seven months ago when I needed to send them out this week.
2) This year I placed a big Christmas gift order order with Bookshop.org (it's like Amazon for independent bookstores). I chose my books, placed my order, and my books arrived in time for me to wrap them and send them out this week. On Bookshop.org, the books ship from a warehouse, but you can designate a specific bookstore you would like to receive your portion of the sale. They have raised over $9 million for independent bookstores since the pandemic began, and my local bookstore received a nice chunk of money from my purchase. Here are some of the books I ordered, wrapped and ready to go. You can order digital gift cards too if you need last minute gifts. Who doesn't want a book for the holidays?
3) On Saturday I received my medal and t-shirt from the 4th virtual bike race I completed- Manhattan to Montauk 180 Mile Challenge. This one was fun because two of my friends joined in, one biking, one running. Doing these challenges is a great way to keep me on track and on the bike everyday. Race number 5- Winter Quest, The Snow Belt Challenge- is next. We have to bike 300 miles, the distance between Niagara and Albany, the snow belt in New York State, between December 1st and February 28th. The link is here if you want to join. Thank goodness for Peloton, because it's too cold to bike outside.
4) Last night I watched a special on NBC- One Night Only- The Best of Broadway, a salute to Broadway shows that we miss so much. There were wonderful performances from Broadway shows, including Jersey Boys, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, and Mean Girls. The highlights for me were "All That Jazz" from Chicago, a searing performance of "You Oughta Know" from Jagged Little Pill, and surprisingly gorgeous performance of "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma sung by country artist Brett Eldridge. The show was a fundraiser for Broadway Cares, and since they missed their annual red bucket fundraiser this year, I donated the $20 I usually put in the bucket after a Broadway show. You can help here if you wish, and watch it on NBC.com if you missed it.
5) I got back to reading this week, with three stellar books. The first is Christina Baker Kline's historical novel, The Exiles, about women prisoners in England in the 1860s sent on a convict ship to serve their sentence in Australia. It's powerful and the twist in the middle is a stunner. I love how she writes a different book every time out. If you liked her novel The Orphan Train, read this one.
The second book is a fascinating novel, The Talented Miss Farwell, by Emily Gray Tedrowe. Becky Farwell is the comptroller of a small midwest town with a fascination for the art world. She invents a new persona, Reba, for her forays into the art scene, buying and selling artworks by up and coming artists. The only problem is that she uses money she stole from her town to do it. Tedrowe took her inspiration from a real life event and I was sucked right into this book from page one. I could not put it down. It's gripping, and somehow you like this character. The title is an homage to Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Continuing my quest to read more Christmas-themed books this year, I picked up Christina Lauren's
In A Holidaze. At an annual Christmas vacation in Colorado, where four families have gathered for twenty years, Maelyn makes out with Theo, someone she has known since she was a child. The only problem is that she pines for his brother Andrew, who sees them kissing. On the way to the airport to return home, the car Maelyn is in is hit by a truck. When Maelyn wakes up, she isn't in the hospital- she is on the airplane with her family on the way to their annual holiday. Maelyn finds herself reliving the entire vacation. Can she fix things this time? It's a sweet, charming, romantic tale, and a great way to wind down from hectic holiday chores.
I hope you are all safe and healthy- wash your hands, wear a mask and stay socially distant.