Book of the Week – visions of key west

With my dad’s history and Key West on my mind, I went looking for this weeks book and I found “visions of key west – the folk art of ronny bailey” by Ronny and Stephanie Bailey. Here is what he said about his book:

This book presents a unique style of Folk Art. Ronny recycles salvaged wood and tin from century old Key West houses into miniature replicas of these same old houses. These 3-d houses fool the eye. Thru Ronny’s use of the original patina on his salvaged materials and great detail it is hard to tell what is a real house and what is his miniature reproduction.

I love his work. It is a wonderful way to keep the history of Key West and the lifestyle of the past. His sculptures are amazing. For more on Ronny Bailey click on the links below.

Do you or your family have folk art like Ronny’s that reflects the history and stories of your family? My grandma learned to paint in her later years. She mostly did landscapes and still lifes. Not sure if that qualifies but it shows me that I have creativity in my roots.



Book of the Week – Birthday Boy

Since birthdays have been on my mind, I decided to look for a book this week about birthdays. When I found “Birthday Boy” by Tom and Marianne O’Connell, I couldn’t resist choosing it. Here is what the authors have to say about their book:

Marianne and Tom love celebrating all holidays and Skippy’s birthdays were always the best! Skippy partied at home in Sausalito, the “fake” house next door, at his beach house in Pajaro Dunes and Las Vegas.

Skippy biggest birthday was his 10th and he enjoyed it with 35 of his canine pals and their families. Marianne and Tom rented the Marin Humane Society dog park and Skippy worked the crowd like the champ he knew he was. The park’s life size bronze statue of Skippy only added to the festivities.

Tom and Marianne hoped and dreamed Skippy would live to be 17 but sadly that didn’t happen. But for every dog they say there is an angel and you can be sure Skippy and his angel will paint the town every October 21st for all the years to come.

Even if you aren’t into dogs this book has some great ideas that can be applies to other projects. I really like how each year lists some important events in the world and in Skippy’s life. It is amazing how a few photos and two short paragraphs for each year can tell so much about what is important. Even applied to a life history this approach would make a very doable history project.

Take a few moments and ask yourself if you have a project that this format would work well for. I bet most of us do. I’ve just thought of one. I want to put together a book for the dogs that we’ve raised when they retire. This would be a good way to do that. I know, another dog project, maybe that isn’t such a great example but I do think it would work well. Hopefully it will be many more years before any of our pups retire. But I could start each of their books now and add to them each year on either their birthdays or the anniversary of their graduation. Then they would be ready when retirement comes around.

Have you thought of a project? I’d love to hear about your ideas. Maybe your ideas will inspire someone else too.

Book of the Week – face Book

I love the simple concept and layout of this book, described on the title page as “a week in the life of a branch library,” by photographer Keith Pattison. I wonder if this same idea could work well for a family reunion or another type of family gathering. Which makes me think, could I do something like this for my mom’s 90th birthday? I love the continuity that the gray backdrop and square cropping for all the photos. I also like how there are three basic page layouts; full bleed, white border and white border with four photos. This gives the book some variety but keeps the focus on the wide variety of people who come to the library in any week.

I also really like the idea of using a simple note-book for writing a message. This would also work for my mom’s 90th birthday. I could let each person write a short note to my mom. The book would then be like a birthday card. I hope I can figure out how to pull this project off.

Do you have a project that would work well with this type of layout?

Book of the Week – The Story of John Alexander Moncur

I really like how Joe Sisco organized this book “The Story of John Alexander Moncur.” Each spread covers a ten-year span. This seems like a very doable way to cover someone’s life history. I also like how the bottom of the page shows significant events in the world each year. This is what Joe had to say about his book.

The idea for this endeavour evolved from the simple concept that people’s life story’s need to be told. Life by the Decades Incorporated allows people to create lasting memory books filled with photos, mementos, and many interesting facts about a life well-lived. With our help, you can share your story with your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. All of your loved ones can share in the experience of a life of love, laughter, loss and a tapestry of memorable moments. Intended as a celebration of life, our memory books provide a chance to bring loved ones together through the process of gathering photos, sharing stories and recounting the great memories unique to your life.

While it looks like the business attempt did last, I’m going to file this idea away for future reference. It has lots of possibilities. He also did another book showing the life of a couple.

Book of the Week – “That’s My Daddy”

I came across this book while doing research for a book I’m working on about my dad’s years in the Navy. That’s My Daddy by L. Douglas Keeney is full of great images and just a little text. The preview only shows the first 15 pages, which makes me sad. I wish I could see more of the book. Guess that is more reason to by it. Here is what the author said about his book:

A visual feast for those who love modern military aviation — and a tribute to the airmen and aviators of the United States Air Force, Navy and Marines.

Originally intended as a best-of-military-flight-photography book for my friends, this book instead became a portrait of American heros, a portrait that answers the timeless question — “what does daddy do?” — with the timeless squeal of delight — “that’s my daddy!”

For the author of Secret Messages (Simon & Schuster) This is Guadalcanal (Wm.Morrow), The Doomsday Scenario (Zenith Press) and No Easy Days (Doubleday).

Thank you Douglas Keeney for this inspiring project!

L. Douglas Keeney Books on Amazon



Book of the Week – “One Owen-A-Day”

This is a fun little book with one photo each day of a little boy from his second birthday to his third. It is neat to see how much of his personality and his family’s culture comes through. I think the idea could be shifted to a photo a year or a photo a month as a way to tell the story of someone’s life. There are lots of ways to share your story. You don’t always have use words.

Here is what author/photographer Ben Udkow said about this project:

I’m taking a photo-a-day of both Maya and Owen. Maya’s daily photo is called My Maya-A-Day and Owen’s daily photo is called One Owen-A-Day. Every day since they were born 

In addition, any photos that don’t make the cut as My Maya-A-Day or One Owen-A-Day will be posted under the month they’re taken in Monthly Maya and Owen. All three of these collections, as well as photos of firsts, movies, etc can all be viewed under Maya and Owen in the main The Udkow Family Photo Gallery at

Book of the Week – “The Significant Lineage of Miss Lottie May Pataw”

This is a quirky little book about a rather dysfunctional family and town, but I think I like it.  There is a short paragraph about each person along with a rustic illustration drawn by the last surviving member of the Pataw family. The stories were compiled and edited by Lindsey Marie Fenderson. I especially like the way it tells the story of this family in a very approachable and interesting way. How could this book be an inspiration in telling one of your family’s stories? I’m filing this idea away for future reference.

Book of the Week – “Waiting to Go Home”

I was touched by the drawings and the story of this book. “Waiting to Go Home” by Thomas Payne Miller, III features portraits of his father as he looses his battle with Alzheimer’s.

I have been building fires for my father this winter. I have also been doing portraits of my dad as he sits and watches the fires. He is living and leaving this life with Alzheimer’s disease. The painting sessions last about two hours a day. He sits with his feet up under a cozy blanket in his den of thirty-three years but does not recognize it as his house. Every once in a while he asks my mom, “When are we gonna go home?”
–Tom III

I love the portraits and how they show so much of his end of life journey. I like the way Tom weave so much of the story of who his father was into his text. I was intrigued by the depth of their relationship. It isn’t a long book and I hope you appreciate it as much as I did.

Book of the Week – “Take Paws”

When I found this book while looking for this week’s choice, I couldn’t resist it. It combines great photos with a simple but powerful words. It is a pattern that could inspire a great book about one of your family stories. The preview only shows the first 15 pages but it is enough to get a feel for the book.

What do you get when two dog-loving ladies put their minds together? A heart-warming tale of course! (Pun completely intended!)

Liz Bradley of Elizabeth & Jane Photography and Laura L. Benn of Pawsh Magazine have brought their love of storytelling and dogs together in a gorgeous 56-page photography book, entitled Take Paws: Whiskered Wisdom About Life & Love. Specially designed to give back to the dog community, this book promises that for each copy sold until March 31st, 2013, $4 will be donated to Humane Society International in an effort to make a difference in the lives of pets in need.

Take Paws is a narrative interpreted through canine expression about slowing down and appreciating the fleeting moments that make life a wonderful, ridiculous and unexpected adventure. The tone of the book, although powerful enough to inspire adults, is also simple enough to be enjoyed by children, especially little ones who have a best friend with four legs and a waggy tail.

Come face to face with a moving collection of photographs that showcase genuine canine personalities and portray a fresh whiskered wisdom about life and love.

Take Paws by Laura L. Benn

Book of the Week – “Grandmum”

As I was looking for this weeks book and trying to decide which one I wanted to share, I came across this book, “Grandmum.” And new that it was the right book. This is what the author, Jennifer Glantz said about her book:

The book came to life from the fact of my love for my grandma. She’s really very important to me. She’s my best friend, my mentor and the one I can talk to about absolutely everything.She has been my neighbour for the past 22 years, my entire life. I moved away from home for studies about 2 years ago. Since then I have missed being able to walk over to her house and talk with her everyday.

One weekend when I came home for a short visit the two of us sat down together and looked at some old photos of her and the people that have been important to her in her life. It was a wonderful feeling to see these photos while she told me the history behind them. There and then I realised and saw the real life she had lived. The people, circumstances and surroundings that have formed her into the wonderful woman she is today. I saw the people that once had lived with here, the people that she had loved, they who not live anymore. So there I sat, realising that this is what life is about. Memories. Her memories and those pictures is as close I can come to being there with her, when the photos was taken, some of them almost 80 years old.
So here it is, my book about my best friend, my mentor, my great Grandma.

What a labor of love. What a very doable project. She did a great job of sharing the story of her grandmother your her choice of photos and the order she put them in. The simple format works great. Do you have someone who you could do a book like this for?