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Today I sign the papers on our new house! I'm excited and exhausted and feel completely out of my element. I have so much still to do. I should've been finishing up the packing or cleaning the apartment before the movers arrived. But no. Instead, I sat down and began to knit. What was I thinking? Actually, knitting was exactly what I needed to do. Knitting always calms me, and at this point my nerves are frayed. I haven't moved in years and I'd forgotten how stressful it can be. Usually, I'm organized and in control, but today I'm not (even if I look as though I am). On the inside—and I don't mind admitting this—I'm a mess.
Mostly, I'm worried about Ellen. My ten-year-old has already had so much upheaval in her life. She feels secure in our tiny apartment. And it is tiny. It was just right for one small dog and me, but I never intended to stay here so long. When I moved into this space above the bookstore it was with the hope—the expectation—that Robert and I would reconcile. But the unthinkable happened and I lost my husband to a heart attack. After his funeral I remained here because making it from one day to the next was all I could deal with.
Then Ellen came into my life and it was obvious that two people and a dog, no matter how small, couldn't live comfortably in this minuscule space, although we managed for more than a year. I did make an earlier offer on a house but that didn't work out.
After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Ellen had ended up with her grandmother, who died when she was eight. So Ellen needed stability. She'd endured enough without having a move forced upon her so soon after the adoption.
In retrospect, I'm grateful that first house deal fell through, since it would've happened too fast for Ellen—although I was disappointed at the time. Even now, Ellen feels uneasy about leaving Blossom Street, although I've reassured her that we aren't really leaving. Blossom Street Books is still here and so is the apartment. The only thing that'll be different is that at the end of the workday, instead of walking up the stairs, we'll drive home.
Sitting in the office of the Seattle title company, Anne Marie Roche signed her name at the bottom of the last document. She leaned back and felt the tension ease from between her shoulder blades. As of this moment she was the proud owner of her own home. Today was the culmination of several months of effort. She smiled at the two sellers who sat across the table from her; they looked equally happy.
"Is the house ours now?" Ellen whispered as she tugged at the sleeve of Anne Marie's jacket. "It is," she whispered back.
A few years ago Anne Marie had merely been going through the motions. Robert, her husband, had died, and she'd found herself a widow at the age of forty. She had no one in her life who loved her, no one she could love. All right, she had friends and family and she had her dog, Baxter, a Yorkie—admittedly a special dog—but Anne Marie needed more, wanted more. She'd craved the intense, focused, mutual love of a spouse, or a child of her own. Then she'd met Ellen through a volunteer program and they'd grown close. When Ellen's grandmother, Dolores, who'd been raising the girl, became seriously ill, Anne Marie had stepped in—at Dolores's urging. She'd taken over as the girl's foster mother and, after Dolores's death, adopted her. Dolores must have known she was reaching the end of her life, and when she saw how attached Ellen and Anne Marie were, she'd been able to die in peace, confident in the knowledge that her granddaughter would be safe and, above all, loved.
"You can cross finding a house off your list of twenty wishes," Ellen said, referring to the list Anne Marie had compiled with a group of widowed friends the year she'd met Ellen.
The child's straight brown hair brushed her shoulders, with a tiny red bow clipped at each temple. Her eyes were wide with expectation—and a little fear. Anne Marie hoped Ellen would quickly adjust to her new home and neighborhood, although Ellen kept insisting she liked her old one just fine.
"We want you to be as happy in this home as we've been," Mr. Johnson, the previous owner, said. With a great deal of ceremony he and his wife handed the house key to Anne Marie. The Johnsons, an older couple who'd lived there for more than twenty years, planned to move to Arizona to spend their retirement near friends.
"I'm sure we will," Anne Marie said. She'd looked at a number of places and this was the first one that felt right, with its large backyard and spacious rooms. Ellen would be able to go to the school she currently attended, which Anne Marie considered a bonus.
She would do whatever she could to ensure that the transition would be a smooth one for her daughter. Ellen had made friends on Blossom Street, people she visited almost every day, and she could continue doing that. Her favorite stop was A Good Yarn, Lydia Goetz's store. Both Anne Marie and Ellen had learned to knit, thanks to Lydia.
"You promise I'll like the new house as much as Blossom Street?" Ellen asked with a skeptical frown.
"You're going to love having a big bedroom."
"I like my old bedroom," she said, lowering her head.
"Yes, but you'll like this one just as much." This was a conversation they'd had a number of times already. "And Baxter's going to enjoy racing around that big backyard, chasing butterflies."
The hint of a smile touched Ellen's face, and Anne Marie put her arm around the girl's shoulders. "Everything's going to be fine," she said. "You'll see."
Ellen nodded uncertainly.
Now that the paperwork had been completed, Anne Marie thanked the title agent, who'd been so helpful.
With the house keys safely inside her purse, she stood and reached for Ellen's hand. "Mel's taking us out for a celebratory lunch," she said on their way out the door.
"What's celebratory mean?"
"It means we have something to celebrate, and that's our brand-new home." New to them at any rate. She raised her voice to show how pleased she was that this day had finally arrived.
"What about Dad?"
"We'll see him later." Over the past few months, Anne Marie's relationship with Tim Carlsen had become complicated. He was Ellen's biological father and hadn't known he had a daughter until after Anne Marie had adopted her. Tim had connected with Ellen through a long and indirect process. Anne Marie had reluctantly—very reluctantly—granted him permission to visit Ellen. Thankfully, Tim, who'd acknowledged his problems with drug and alcohol abuse, was now clean and sober. He'd turned his life around several years before, unlike Ellen's biological mother, who was still incarcerated. She'd surrendered her parental rights, which had made it possible for Anne Marie to adopt the child. It was only after Anne Marie saw how much Tim loved his daughter that she'd softened toward him. All too soon, a rosy, and completely unrealistic, picture had formed in her mind—the three of them together, as one happy family.
Then Tim had dropped his bombshell and that dream had been blown to smithereens. He was engaged to Vanessa, a woman he'd met at his AA meetings. Anne Marie had felt incredibly foolish even entertaining the notion of the two of them as a couple.
Shortly afterward she'd met Mel through her friend Barbie. He was a widower, the same age Robert would have been—close to twenty years older than Anne Marie. Mel was a comfortable person, easy to be with, unthreat-ening and undemanding. He got along well with Ellen, too. They'd been dating for a few months, and while it wasn't a steamy romance or an exciting one, she was content.
Mel's attention had helped soothe her ego after the letdown she'd experienced with Tim. The ironic part was that shortly after she'd started seeing Mel, Tim and Vanessa had parted ways. After her disappointment with Tim, Anne Marie wasn't willing to make her heart vulnerable to him again. She'd made that clear and he'd accepted her decision. She let him see Ellen, however. Her daughter loved being part of her father's life and looked forward to spending time with him.
"Where's Mel taking us to celebrate?" Ellen asked as they rode the elevator down to the ground floor. There was a light drizzle outside, not unusual for April in Seattle. It wasn't heavy enough to warrant an umbrella, but damp enough to curl Anne Marie's naturally wavy hair.
"We're meeting him in Chinatown," Anne Marie answered.
"We're having Chinese?"
This was Ellen's all-time-favorite food. "Can I order chow mein with crispy noodles?" she asked.
"I'm sure you can." How thoughtful of Mel to remember Ellen's preference for Chinese cuisine. He really was a good man; she doubted there was anything he wouldn't do for her if she asked.
"What about almond fried chicken with extra gravy?"
"You'll need to discuss that with Mel." Once out on the sidewalk, Anne Marie took Ellen's hand again, and with their heads bowed against the cold and the wind, they hurried toward the restaurant.
Mel was already there and had obtained a booth. A large pot of tea with three small ceramic cups rested in the center of the table. Anne Marie was grateful Mel had thought to order it.
He stood as they approached and leaned forward to kiss Anne Marie's cheek.
"Hello, Pumpkin," he said to Ellen.
"Hi, Punky," she returned with a giggle. Where Ellen had come up with that name for Mel, Anne Marie had no idea. Maybe her version of "pumpkin"? In any event, Anne Marie appreciated their relaxed, friendly relationship.
When the waitress arrived, they ordered far more food than they'd ever manage to eat.
While they waited for their lunch, Mel made conversation with Ellen. "This is perfect weather for Baxter to wear that sweater you knit him," he said.
Ellen had made her own list of twenty wishes, and learning to knit was one of them. Fortunately, Lydia's yarn shop was only a couple of doors down from the bookstore, and Lydia had encouraged Ellen's first efforts. With practice, Ellen had improved to the point that she was able to complete a sweater for Baxter.
"After lunch, would you like to show Mel the house?" Anne Marie prompted. She wanted Ellen to feel good about this move. Ellen had gone with Anne Marie to view various houses and had found something wrong with each one. It finally dawned on Anne Marie that Ellen simply didn't want to leave Blossom Street, which she should've realized from the start. The little girl wouldn't say so directly but she came up with convenient excuses to reject every home they'd seen—until this one. If Anne Marie had been more experienced as a parent she might have caught on earlier. But Ellen's resistance was the main reason she'd put off the search after the first deal fell through.
"Do you want to see the house?" Ellen asked Mel, sounding hesitant.
"I'd enjoy that, especially if you'd give me a personal tour."
Ellen glanced at Anne Marie. "Mel would like you to show him around," Anne Marie explained.
"I can do that," Ellen said, revealing her first enthusiasm for their new home. "I know every room. Did Mom tell you I have a big closet of my own and my bedroom faces the backyard, so I can look out my window and watch Baxter? He likes to chase birds and butterflies and bugs. I won't have to take him for walks anymore because there's a fence . I can just open the door and let him go out."
"True, but it's still a good idea to keep an eye on him," Anne Marie reminded her. "And to take him for walks."
"I'll bet there are lots of kids your age in the new neighborhood," Mel said.
Anne Marie hoped that was the case, although she hadn't seen any.
Ellen toyed with her fork and plate, moving the fork around the plate's circumference. "I like my old neighborhood best," she muttered.
"But it's a retail one," Mel said.
Ellen looked quizzically at Anne Marie. "He means there are shops on Blossom Street instead of houses."
"I like shops. I have friends there. Susannah lets me help her with the flowers in Susannah's Garden. Last week I stood out front of her store and gave away pink carnations. Baxter was with me."
"That was fun, wasn't it?"
Ellen nodded again. "And Alix sometimes brings me leftover croissants from the French Café across the street."
Laughing, Anne Marie brought her head close to Mel's and added, "That doesn't happen often because they sell out of croissants almost every day."
"I like them warm so the jelly gets runny on them," Ellen said. "Mom puts them in the microwave for me in the morning."
"I'll have to try that," Mel told her. "Sounds good."
"Lydia and Margaret are my friends, too." Ellen continued to list her favorite people on Blossom Street.
"Lydia owns A Good Yarn," Anne Marie pointed out to Mel.
"Yeah, I remember," he said.
"Lydia and Mom taught me to knit, and we knit every day, don't we, Mom?"
Before Anne Marie could respond, their food arrived. The conversation lagged as they passed around the serving plates. Mel asked for chopsticks, but Anne Marie and Ellen used forks—although Ellen proclaimed that she wanted to try chopsticks next time. She was just too hungry today.
"You have lots of friends, don't you?" Mel asked
Mouth full, the girl nodded eagerly.
"But they're all adults. Do you have any friends from school on Blossom Street?"
After a short pause, Ellen said, "Cody and Casey, but they're older and they go to a different school than me."
Anne Marie could see that Mel was trying to help Ellen see all the possibilities that awaited her in her new home. She thanked him with a smile, and he clasped her hand beneath the table.
Half an hour later, when they couldn't eat another bite, Mel asked for the bill. Carrying their leftovers, Anne Marie and Ellen walked to the parking garage for their car. Mel drove to the house on his own.
Anne Marie and Ellen got there before him and after parking in the driveway, Anne Marie unlocked the front door, conscious that this was the first of many times. The inside looked different now that it was empty of furniture. The Johnsons had left the house meticulously clean, the floors scrubbed and polished and the walls freshly painted and unmarked.
Mel showed up soon afterward. "What a lovely house," he commented, stepping inside. He paused in the doorway to survey the hall and the living room.
"Come," Ellen said, grabbing his hand and tugging him toward the hallway. "My bedroom's this way."
"What about your mom's?" he asked, looking back at Anne Marie over his shoulder.
She nearly burst out laughing.
"Mom's across the hall from me," Ellen told him.
Posted March 26, 2011
This book is a collection of short stories about three women that love to knit and how it impacts their lives.
The Twenty First Wish by Debbie Macomber
Anne Marie Roche and her adopted daughter Ellen from Debbie Macomber's previous book Twenty Wishes are in this short story. I love this story about Anne Marie coming to terms with her feelings about Ellen's biological father Tim.
Reading about all of the people on Blossom Street brings me back to all the wonderful previous stories by Debbie Macomber. Can't wait for the next story to be told.
Unraveled by Susan Mallery
Robyn Mulligan comes home to Georgetown, Texas to help her grandmother Eleanor run her yarn store named Only Ewe. Eleanor needs knee replacement surgery. It is at the store where Robyn meets T.J. He was in an auto accident a couple of years earlier. His wife and baby son were killed. He came to Only Ewe to take up knitting to help with his fine motor skills.
Watching their relationship grow by overcoming their fears and their past is great reading.
Return to Summer Island by Christine Skye
Caro McNeal is a senior advocate living in Chicago. Knitting kept her sane when life was tangled and work was very grim. Crossing a street on her way to work she is hit by a van. She has torn ligaments and several fractures in her right arm and hand. Her grandmother, Morgan McNeal comes to Chicago to take care of her. Four weeks after her accident Morgan takes her back to Summer Island.
Gage Grayson, a Marine home on leave from Afghanistan comes to pick up a painting Morgan has done for the wife of a friend. Caro is there and feels a connection to him. He has his dog, Bogart and his cat, Bacall with him. After a picnic lunch he leaves to bring Bogart and Bacall to a friend. On the way he finds out that his friend is sick and has to be hospitalized. He returns to Summer Island and finds the local animal shelter run by Peter Lindstrom. Peter is a local vet and a good friend of Caro's grandmother. He takes Gage's animals for him.
Caro finds out the animals are there and forms a bond with them. Gage and Caro start e-mailing messages to each other.Their friendship grows and they become very close.
This is a wonderful story about the strength and resiliency of people. Hope there are more stories about Summer Island soon.
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Posted June 15, 2011
I found these three stories to be delightfully written and well presented. "The Twenty-First Wish" is a great story and a follow up of her book "Twenty Wishes". The story continues and so does Anne Maries struggle to balance common sense with love. "Coming Unraveled" by Susan Mallery finds a disappointed Robyn Mulligan forced to return from New York an unsuccessful actress Telling the truth to her grandmother and those she loves is a difficult transition. This story does have one slightly steamy scene. "Return to Summer Island" by Christina Skye was a good read. Caro McNeal, for medical reasons, comes back to the small town of Summer Island Oregon and her grandmothers' home. When she least expects it, her heart reaches out and reason is ignored. Perfect reading for a day at the beach or an afternoon in the park.
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Posted April 13, 2011
Posted June 3, 2011
Posted April 16, 2011
Posted February 21, 2011
The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber. Ten years old Ellen and her adopted mom Anne Marie write down a wish list consisting of twenty items each. However, Ellen conceals one additional wish from her mom that she wants her biological dad Tim and her adopted mother to marry and stitch together a family with her. --------
Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery. Although she had dreams of Broadway, Robyn returns to Texas to manage her grandma's knitting store. However, angry T. J. is very unwelcoming of her though they are attracted to one another. ---------
Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye. The car accident left Caro with severe damage to her hand and arm. She goes to Summer Island, Oregon to heal, but is unprepared for the warm welcome by a knitting colony and the passion in an exchange of letters with Gage the marine serving in Afghanistan.---------
These three charming uplifting yarns combine the passion of the heart with that of knitting.-------------
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Posted February 2, 2011
Sometimes I love these anthologies! This one was great. The authors all have similar yet different styles and each story made to want there to be more! Now while I don't knit, I have zero patience, I like that this is what links the stories.
The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber
I was most excited about this section of the book. I have read all of the other books about the women on
and have fallen in love with their story. This book start with Anne Marie Roche signing papers on her new home. She is both excited and worried, as she is concern about her daughter, Ellen, and how she will adjust to the new home away from
. Anne Marie adopted Ellen in a previous book which also brought Tim Carlsen, Ellen's father, into their lives in an expected turn of even shortly after the adoption was complete, but Tim had lied to Anne Marie and things were tense between them. Anne Marie has been dating Mel for a few months, but doesn't know what she makes of it. Tim and Mel had a dislike for each other with Anne Marie and Ellen in the middle. Ellen reveals to Anne Marie that she has added a twenty-first wish to the list that Anne Marie, Ellen and their friends on
put together one Valentine's Day. Her wish - for her mom and dad to be a family. Can this happen?
I love how this story is written from both Anne Marie and Ellen's point of view. This is a fun loving story that just sucks you in. I finished this section wanting to know more about what was going to be happening in the lives of the friends on
Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery
I had never read anything by Susan Mallery prior to this book and I was pleasantly surprised. I like her style of writing and that she had the foresight to hid an important part of T.J.'s life from us.
Robyn has arrived home to her grandmother home and knitting store after failing to make it big on Broadway. Right away, T.J., a quiet stranger to her, yet taken in by her grandmother and her friends, feels that Robyn is back to take advantage of her grandmother since he did his homework and realizes that Robyn never made it on Broadway. There is tension between them until T.J. realizes that she actually has a plan. But what is T.J. secret that has hid from everyone in the store.
This was a well written story. I would love to see another book that tell us more about the grandmother in this story and her friends got to where they are today. I loved T.J. secret and who he really is.
Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye
After Caro is in a devastating accident in Chicago, she returns to Summer Island under her grandmother's care. She is frustrated and hurt. She meets Gage, a marine, who is headed back to war. As he is rushing out of town, his departure bumped up, he gets Caro's email address and requests that she write him. He plans to leave his beloved pets with a friend, who ends up being very ill as he is drop them off. With no where to turn, he ends up at the pet shelter, where is pets are taken in and promised to be given a good home until he returns. Caro finds his pets there and builds a relationship with them. She writes with Gage and one night she wakes up with the horrible feeling that something is wrong. Has something happened to Gage?
I think that this was a perfect fit for what is going on in our world today. There are so many people separated by the war in the Middle East. I love the st
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Posted April 11, 2014
I've read many books by Debbie Macomber and Susan Mallery. Christina Skye was new to me. All three wrote a very fun book divided into three separate stories. I crochet, but I love stories having anything to do with yarn, so even though the stories had threads of knitting throughout, it was still very enjoyable. The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber was an extension of her Blossom Street Books. Ellen is a ten year old girl adopted by Annie Marie after Ellen's grandmother dies suddenly. Her biological father comes into the picture after the adoption not having known about Ellen. Ellen's wish is for Anne Marie and her dad Tim to get married but there are complications of course, one being Anne Marie's boyfriend Mel. Do they ever get together? Ummmmm......
Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery follows Robyn, whose dreams of becoming a Broadway star fizzle out. She goes back to her hometown and stays with her grandmother to help her as she recovers from knee surgery. Robyn takes over running her grandmother's knitting store along with her grandmother's two friends. They are very close friends who have taken a very handsome and hot-tempered T.J. under their wings. He has a tragic past to overcome but also hides some secrets from the ladies and Robyn too. How will the secrets get revealed and what will be the outcome?
Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye begins with Caro McNeal working in the big city helping victims of tragedy through her job. She loves her job but misses her coastal hometown and her grandmother, who raised her after her parents were killed. Rushing to meet a client, she is hit on the sidewalk by a runaway car. She suffers tremendously from injuries and goes back to stay with her grandmother to recover. Knitting is one of her favorite things to do but her hand is unable to hold the knitting needle anymore. She meets a soldier, spends an afternoon with him then finds out he is headed to Afghanistan right away. Follow Caro as she fights to get back to her old self and as she reconnects with the soldier.
Posted March 23, 2013
Posted March 2, 2013
Posted November 2, 2012
Posted July 18, 2012
Posted June 29, 2012
Knitting Diaries by Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and Chritina Skye
Knitting is a comfort to all and you can always strike up a conversation with one who knits.
Love that this book is actually 3 different stories from 3 different authors, who also happen to knit.
The Twenty First Wish by Debbie Macomber
After the book 'Twenty Wishes' this follows along the same lines, like a bucket list of sorts.
Helen has her own 20 wishes book and shares it with her mother: Ann Marie knows Tim is still recovering from his addiction.
Tim is the real father of Helen who Ann Marie has adopted.
Helen has started to knit and wants to make her mother Ann Marie a purse to hold when she marries her father. She has a knitting diary.
Ann Marie also added her 21st wish to her list...
Comes with a knitting pattern of wedding purse.
Coming Unravelled by Susan Mallery
Knitting Hand Puppet included
Robin was back and brought gifts to the others who ran the shop. Adeline and Marion and Eleanor were the recipients.
The knitters were in the corner working on their projects. TJ was the new man sitting there knitting his project.
Her dream was to be on Broadway as a dancer. Her mother had died before the same dream had come through.
TJ thinks she is there to get money out of the woman and finance her dancing career. He's gonna stick around to make
sure she doesn't get any of the older womans money.
Robin is there to help her grandmother recuperate after her surgery.
TJ leads a class with men who need help in concentration.
She has a confesstion to tell them that she knows won't be easy.
She has found her diary where she wrote of her dreams of dancing and knitting.
They spend a lot of time together with her grandmother after her surgery and she finds out who he was in his previous life.
Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye
Caro's wristlet pattern.
Her knitting diary reads that she's leaving Summer Island forever.
Her parents had died and her grandmother raised her on the island where the whole community was her family.
She is now old enough and had to move on. Has a new apartment, new job and there is a yarn store nearby.
She is a senior advocate. The accident left her in the hospital for a week. She was most concerned about her knitting bag.
She overheard that she might never knit again.
She goes back to the island to recuperate Morgan her grandmother has set up Peter the vet to come visit with an animal in hopes Caro will get her spark back.
Gage is there to pick up a painting from her grandmother and she's just broken the family heirloom teapot. He's a marine and on his way back to the war, just there to see his sister through some cancer treatments.
They lose contact with one another on his travels back to Afghanistan.
Posted April 10, 2012
Posted January 11, 2012
Posted October 10, 2011
Posted May 31, 2011
Posted April 19, 2011
Posted April 6, 2011
Posted March 15, 2011
"The Twenty-First Wish" by Debbie Macomber. Anne Marie Roche is worried about how her adopted daughter Ellen will adjust to their new home. She also worries about how much she should allow Ellen's biological father Tim Carlsen into the child's life. To ease the move, mother and daughter make a twenty wish list, but Ellen has added one more to her desire; that her dad and mom marry and with her become a family.-----------------
"Coming Unraveled" by Susan Mallery. After failing to make it under the lights of Broadway, Robyn Mulligan comes home to Georgetown, Texas moving into her grandma's home and taking over the Ewe knitting store. She feels the stranger her grandmother and her senior friends "adopted" is going to rip them off; ironically T.J. Passman thinks the granddaughter will do likewise with the senior citizens.-------------
"Return to Summer Island" by Christina Skye. In Chicago, Caro McNeal is severely injured in an accident. She returns home to Summer Island, Oregon to heal with her beloved grandma who raised her when her parents died. There she meets marine Gage Grayson as he is leaving town. Gage and Caro exchange emails. When she learns that his pets are staying at a shelter until he returns, Caro befriends them. However, Caro wakes up in the night fearing something bad happened to her beloved email pal.
These are three warm well knit romantic family dramas with strong characterizations and the bonus of a stop on Blossom Street.----------
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