Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Blueberry Pancakes – The lost Boys Vol. 1 – The White Raven

Happy Wednesday! I have a delicious breakfast recipe for you all today and a few new books to share. I woke up this morning and had a taste for blueberry pancakes!

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So the original recipe is titled “Fluffy Pancakes” and it’s from Allrecipes.com. I’m making this recipe exactly how it’s listed below, except I’m tripling the recipe ingredients to cook for the eight people in my house. The original recipe you see below serves four.

Fluffy Pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Sausage:

I’m using this all natural sausage I picked up from Costco. It’s made by Jones Dairy Farm. We’ve been buying this sausage for years and it’s the only link I like to buy because it’s nitrate and msg free. I’m not big on eating meat, but my family is, and I like to pay attention to the ingredients I’m feeding them as well. The ingredients are pork, water, salt, and spices. There are no antibiotics or hormones and it’s pork raised on a vegetarian diet. This company makes chicken and turkey sausage too, which is equally delicious. You can click the link above to visit their website.

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This sausage is brown and serve. I just add it to my preheated cast iron pan.

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Cook them on medium heat until they’re browned and cooked through.

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For the pancakes…

I like to make my pancake batter right in my Vitamix because there’s less mess, it’s easy to mix, and it’s simple to pour out the batter.

First, I add the milk and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to sour up.

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After 2 or 3 minutes, it’s ready. I added in the eggs and melted butter.

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Turn it on low and start adding all your dry ingredients.

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Turn it up to medium or so to get a nice thick batter. You don’t need to mix it much.

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Grease and heat your pan over medium heat. Pour the batter evenly, roughly 1/4 cup at a time into the pan. Immediately add the blueberries.

 

You can even use chocolate chips, nuts, or other fruits.

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Cook lightly on each side until cooked through.

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I served ours with butter, syrup, and sausage.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Blueberry Pancakes – The lost Boys Vol. 1 – The White Raven”

This Week’s Children’s Books – Winter Candle – This House, once – Behind the Legend: Bigfoot – Nutik, the Wolf Pup – We Forgot Brock!

I have five new children’s books to share with you this week!

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Winter Candle

by Jeron FrameStacey Schuett (Illustrations)

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Blurb: When each family at the diverse Juniper Court apartment complex needs something to light up the dark of winter, the stumpy, lumpy candle provides a glow brighter than the fanciest taper, revealing the true spirit of each holiday it illuminates.

  • Age Range: 4 – 11 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 6
  • Hardcover: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Creston Books (November 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939547105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939547101

My Review

Multiple residents at the Juniper Court Apartment complex are celebrating their family traditions during the holidays. As each family begins their celebration, they realize they are missing an important component- a candle. As the candle is passed from family to family, children will learn about Havdalah, Saint Lucia Day, and Kwanzaa.

We enjoyed the vivid and detailed illustrations. The authors note at the end explains these traditions and what each holiday means as well as why they are celebrated. It’s an interesting and educational book for elementary readers. 4****

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Find Winter Candle on Amazon


This House, once

by Deborah Freedman

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Blurb: Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

Before there was this house,
there were stones,
and mud,
and a colossal oak tree—
three hugs around
and as high as the blue.

What was your home, once?

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 28, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481442848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481442848

My Review

This beautifully illustrated book is a powerful and poetic story about a house that was, at one point, only stones and bricks. Children will discover that every piece of the house came from the earth. It’s a thought-provoking and beautiful story.

We especially enjoyed the illustrations including all the little animals pictured all around in nature. This is a very simple read and I appreciated the note to readers at the end which provokes discussion. 4****

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Watch Emily Arrow sing the song “This House, once” in this video:

 

Find This House, once on Amazon

 


Nutik, the Wolf Pup

by Jean Craighead GeorgeTed Rand (Illustrations

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Blurb: In an Eskimo village at the top of the world lived a little boy whose name was Amaroq. Named for the great wolf leader who saved the life of his big sister, Julie, Amaroq loved wolves as much as his big sister did.

One day Julie brings home a sickly wolf pup named Nutik for Amaroq to feed and tend. “Don’t fall in love with Nutik,” Julie warns, “or your heart will break when the wolves come to take their pup home.” Amaroq feeds and cares for Nutik, and soon the fuzzy little pup is romping and playing and following Amaroq everywhere. Amaroq and Nutik become best friends, but soon it’s time for Nutik to rejoin his wolf family. Will Amaroq be strong like the great wolf leader he was named after and be able to let Nutik go?

In this adventure-first told in Julie’s Wolf Pack, the sequel to the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George brings the Arctic world of Julie and her family to a picturebook audience.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (January 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060281650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060281656

My Review

A boy named Amaroq is introduced to a wolf pup named Nutik after his sister finds the sick pup and brings him home for care. Amaroq is responsible for caring for Nutik and his sister tells him from the start not to get attached because he’ll be leaving to return to his old pack once he’s stronger. Amaroq can’t help himself and Nutik becomes his best friend. Follow along in the story to see if Amaroq can remain brave when the time comes for Nutik to move on.

This book is part of our curriculum this week as we’re learning about wolves in the wild. The illustrations felt so authentic to us and it’s no wonder after reading that the illustrator, Ted Rand, traveled to Alaska to observe the arctic tundra first hand. It’s visually stunning and the story is powerful and emotional at the same time. 5*****

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Find Nutik, the Wolf Pup on Amazon

Here’s a program that we are watching below on BBC.


 

We Forgot Brock!

by Carter Goodrich

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BlurbThe importance of imaginary friends is very real in this picture book adventure from the author of Say Hello to Zorro! and lead character designer for Despicable MeFinding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.

Phillip and Brock are best friends. Everyone can see Phillip, but only Phillip can see Brock.

A night at the Big Fair is all fun and games until Phillip gets sleepy, heads home, and forgets Brock!

Brock misses Phillip. And Phillip misses Brock. Will they reunite? With the help of another pair of pals, they just might. Because even imaginary friends get lost sometimes. Finding them is part of the adventure.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442480904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442480902

My Review

A little boy named Phillip enjoys spending time with his imaginary friend named Brock. They play together, eat together, and pretty much do everything together. The strange thing is that nobody else can see Brock, so when they visit the fair, Brock accidentally gets left behind. Follow along in the story to see if Phillip will find Broch and if his parents might make an amazing discovery themselves.

The imaginary friends are drawn which gives them a different look from the other realistic characters. This is a really fun book but also scary and emotional. It’s the worst nightmare for Phillip, but we enjoyed the story and conclusion. 4****

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Find We Forgot Brock! on Amazon

Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Books – Winter Candle – This House, once – Behind the Legend: Bigfoot – Nutik, the Wolf Pup – We Forgot Brock!”

Music Monday: Chris Cornell “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart”

Music Monday

This meme was created by Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday! I’d like to thank Drew for creating this meme because it’s unique and I love it.

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This week’s song pick is…

Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart

by Chris Cornell

I chose this song for today because it’s been on my mind a lot lately and comes from one of my most favorite albums of all time “Higher Truth” which was released in 2015.

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The song is great and lyrics too, but the controversy now is the music video. It’s since been removed from YouTube after Chris Cornell’s death due to the content.

In the video which takes place in the old west, Chris Cornell and Eric Roberts play prison mates soon to be executed. Right before Chris Cornell is to be hanged, a lady in watching distracts the hangman and the assistant sabotages the noose so that it’ll break when they hang him. She saves his life and he is forced into marriage with her. Afterwards, another prisoner is to be hanged, and the story starts all over again. Chris isn’t the only one to escape death, but what is the meaning of it?

An interesting fact is that the blonde boy in the video is Chris Cornell’s 10-year-old son.


Lyrics

Every time I stare into the sun
Trying to find a reason to go on
All I ever get is burned and blind
Until the sky bleeds the pouring rain

When you came along the time was right
Pulled me like an apple red and ripe
Wasn’t very long you took a bite
And did me wrong, and it serves me right

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It’s taking me miles away,
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again, again

Every little key unlocks the door
Every little secret has a lie
Tryna take a picture of the sun
And it won’t help you to see the light

Every little word upon your lips
Makes a little cut where blood pours out
Every little drop of blood a kiss that I won’t miss
Not for anything

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It’s taking me miles away,
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again
Every single feeling tells me this is leading to a heart
In broken little pieces and you know I need this
Like a hole in the head

Every single feeling tells me this is leading to a heart
In broken little pieces and you know I need this
Like a hole in the head

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It’s taking me miles away,
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It’s taking me miles away,
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again

Here we go round again
Here we go round again
Here we go round again

Continue reading “Music Monday: Chris Cornell “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart””

Meet the Reader Series with David Huff

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I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.

Meet the Reader Series

Today’s Featured Reader: David Huff

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(Links provided for all books and authors)

Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

A: I absolutely loved reading as a child. I was an adopted only child, and was reading at quite a young age. The most enormous influence on my reading was my paternal grandmother. I had cousins that lived near the water in another part of the county; when we went to see them, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, mostly because I didn’t learn to swim until I was older. But along the dirt road that led to their house, my grandmother lived in a little square house, a few hundred yards before theirs. She had floor to ceiling bookshelves, which were full, and most every time my parents visited the cousins, they would drop me off at her house and then pick me up at the end of the day. It was paradise! She gave me my first book: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (a natural choice for a young grandson). I still have that book, and it still contains some notes, in my 7-year-old handwriting, on the inside cover.

Some other favorites I recall from my childhood: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, The Red Badge of Courage, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Aesop’s Fables, Old Yeller, The Call of The Wild, White Fang, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I’m sure there were lots more!

Q: What are some of your favorite books this year or last?

A: That’s a tough list to narrow down … A few 2016-2017 favorites would be Pride and Prejudice, The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire (definitely a monster bucket list project), Words on the Move, David Copperfield, Paradise Lost, and The Cardinal Turns The Corner.

Q: What are your favorite book genres?

A: History, Biography, Theology, Classic Novels, Poetry, Motivational and Current Events (which would include Politics Economics, Law and Social Issues). I also enjoy books on Music, and a variety of the Great Courses (on Audible). 

Q: What are some of your favorite authors?

A: David McCullough, Russell Kirk, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, John Steinbeck, Peggy Noonan, Ray Bradbury, and Shakespeare, among1cd98ba3ea152109d37e00cb2bbf234c--reading-lists-reading-books others. I should also add one of my sons, Matthew Huff, a great book lover and teacher of literature. He is the author of The Cardinal Turns the Corner (#2 above), a collection of poems, and can be found on Goodreads and at his blog, edenbabel.com

Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?

A: On the official Goodreads shelf, there are presently five. If I allow that list to get too long, it overwhelms me! On my mental list for the next several years, I’m not sure I could count them all!

Q: What’s an emotional book, or one you won’t forget that you’ve read this year or last?

A: I think probably the most emotional book, to me (and not just this year or last, but all time), is also my very favorite novel, Les Miserables. I remember reaching the part where Valjean and little Cosette were carrying the bucket back through the woods together; that was one of many places where I literally had to put the book down and recover for a while. Such an incredibly complex, wonderful and great story.

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In the past couple of years, some books I definitely won’t forget (all of which were emotional, in some way) were David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, and The Underground Railroad (a very emotional and powerful book).

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Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?

A: We probably all try, to one extent or other, to not invest time in books we think we may not enjoy – though there may be some bold adventurers out there who will take a shot in the dark on an unfamiliar book. I’ve done that myself . A couple that come to mind in this category, over this year and last, were Who Rules The World, by Noam Chomsky,

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and Lectures on the Philosophy of History, by Hegel.

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Chomsky is a very prolific author, whose intellect and career accomplishments I greatly respect; but my views and his are so radically different that it was tough for me to truly enjoy the book. As for Hegel, I think I just need more brain cells! The latter parts of the book were manageable – sort of – but the Introduction (for which the book is most well known) was pretty much impenetrable in places. For me, anyway!

Q: What are you reading now?

A: I’m currently reading, with a Goodreads Group, The City of God, by Augustine.

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We have a leisurely timetable on that one, for which I’m grateful. With my son Matt (mentioned earlier), I’m reading Dante’s Inferno. Just, wow.

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On Audible, I’m listening to a Great Courses writing course, on Analysis and Critique, taught by Dorsey Armstrong.

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Finally, on Kindle, a fascinating book entitled C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing. 

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The last book being a candidate for the world’s longest subtitle!

Q: How important is the book cover to you?

A: Not particularly important, usually, in choosing to read a certain book. In part, because I read more on Kindle and Audible than actual books. That said, I appreciate a well done and interesting cover for the aesthetic value.

Q: Do you have a blog? Have you ever thought about starting one?

A: I don’t have a blog presently, but I have definite plans to start one in the next few months!

Please continue reading…

Continue reading “Meet the Reader Series with David Huff”

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review

I’m working on getting caught up with my NetGalley books and this one has been sitting on my shelf for months. I finally started reading it a few weeks ago. You can read my book review below.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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“Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away.” —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

Blurb: In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802126596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802126597

My Review:

I was so excited to start this book because I love retellings and honestly didn’t know the whole story behind the accusations of Lizzie Bordon murdering her parents with an ax in 1892. I decided to get online and read about the true story so that I would have an idea about what really went down that August morning in 1892.

The book starts with an introduction to that morning the ax murdering took place in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie’s father Andrew and her stepmother Abby were both found axed to death and the only person in sight when someone finally arrives to help is Lizzie. Everyone wants to know who the perpetrator is. Who could commit such horrible acts of crime and why would they want to hurt these people?

tenor.gifFor me, the first half of the book was not intriguing at all. I felt like the characters were flat and boring and the narrative was confusing at times, mainly because of Lizzie’s thoughts with the jumping back and forth between reality and what was going on in her head. I wasn’t enjoying the writing style at all. Then, when I got to the last half of the book, I became very interested in who the real killer was here. It could be Lizzie, but she’s not reliable and her thoughts are all over the place. Is she being honest? What about Uncle John and Benjamin? There are clues and accusations along the way, but the reader is left to wonder until the very end what actually happened.

Overall, The author has spun her own version of the tale and it’s spellbinding at times. I’m happy that I stuck with it and didn’t give up. Some people say that the book is gruesome, but I didn’t think it was too gory on the details. I really appreciated the timeline the author provided in the back of the book. If you’d like more true information on the events that took place, you might want to watch “Histories Mysteries: The Strange Case of Lizzie Bordon.” This is truly a compelling mystery.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review.

My rating on this is 3.5 stars

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Continue reading “See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review”

Shabby Sunday: The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some vintage books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.

Today’s shabby share is:

The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain

by Mark TwainCharles Neider (Editor, Introduction by)

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Growing up in my grandparents home, we had books from wall to wall. My grandfather was a teacher and loved the written word. We had plenty of books to keep us busy. One of the only books that I have left in my collection that belonged to my grandfather is The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain. I can still remember him reading it when I was just a young child. Something I love about Mark Twain’s writing is the memorable characters.

To me, this is a must-have for any Mark Twain fan. Mine is the 1957 edition hardcover. A few of my favorites are- A Dying Man’s Confession, A Day at Niagara, A Ghost Story, A Dog’s Tale, and Luck. I love that I can now share this with my kids as well.

Definitely a keeper!

My rating for this one is 5*****

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain”

Lessons from Grandpa #4

 

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Me & Grandpa – November 1980

As a child, growing up with my grandparents wasn’t always easy. My grandmother was very strict and old school, while my grandfather was equally strict and expected my brother and I to respect our elders. We knew the boundaries and sometimes we would get in serious trouble for just saying little things that really weren’t all that bad compared to some of the things our peers were saying. Simply making a joke would often get us in serious trouble. Any time at all that one of us said something that my grandfather didn’t approve of he would say,

 

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I can still remember sitting at the dinner table one day with my grandfather while he opened up a can of sardines to eat. Those sardines smelled so bad and being young and naive, I didn’t think before I spoke about how gross I thought they were. It was explained to me that it’s wrong to even say anything negative about what someone else was eating. It was drilled into our heads every single day. We were never allowed to make fun of people or say anything negative about others. We also learned to be kind to others at a young age and we weren’t even allowed to use the word hate.

imagesHere lately, the internet, news, and radio have been nothing but nasty. Social media has been completely covered with negative ads, tweets, rants, and news containing everything from racism, people bashing the President of the U.S., nuclear issues with North Korea and countless negative information that I don’t want to see or read. With our young generation spending so much time online, I fear that they are witnessing too much hate and internalizing it. I worry that it’s going to get worse. Here lately I’ve been wondering, when did it get this bad?

Then, a few days ago, I had to call in to request a repair for our garage door which was recently struck by lightning. The man that came out was African American and is just an overall nice guy. I remembered him because he’s been here before and he’s just so kind and positive. As I stood out in my garage chatting, we got to talking about our kids starting school, summer flying by, and how he got lost trying to find my house. We laughed and carried on as my little ones were running around and my two older children were standing there listening to our conversation. As he explained what he repaired and got ready to leave, I offered him some freshly baked pumpkin bread to take with him. Then we got to talking about different breads and dieting. It was fun, but it was at that moment that I realized my kids were learning a lesson. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or how different we are, we are all human and we are all unique in our own ways. At that moment, they were witnessing a positive social connection and they were witnessing this from an adult they love and respect. As we waved at the repair man leaving, my youngest son said, “He’s such a nice man.” I agreed and explained that it pays to be kind and makes you feel great inside. We went about our day.5260c1c8ae8f68017692a4b7a09a323c

This event got me thinking about how powerful we are as parents and how we are in control of our children’s minds. We have the power to mold them and lead them in the right direction. We can teach our kids while they’re young about caring for others and help them to understand that people have different colors, shapes, sizes, and cultures and that’s okay. Children learn ethical values from us, just like I learned from a young age from my grandfather. If we outlaw trash talking and teach our kids how to be considerate, we can help fight the hate. If people could just think before they talk and refrain from using words that hurt, so many problems could be fixed.

Here’s a beautiful song by Tim McGraw titled “Humble and Kind.” It says so much.

Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #4”

Award: Growing Self Blogger Award

A few weeks ago I was nominated by the one and only Jay@thisismytruthnow for the Growing Self Blogger Award. I’d never seen this award and was very touched after reading about its meaning. I’d like to thank Jay for the nomination as his words mean so much to me. I’d also like to thank Roda@growingself for creating such a meaningful award to share with this wonderful blogging community.

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What is the Growing Self Blogger Award? 

“The Growing Self Blogger Award has been created to acknowledge and celebrate amazing individuals, in the blogging community, who are persevering through life’s challenges not only to GROW as individuals,  but to reach out and help others GROW as well.” ~Roda

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda @ Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Give 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

 

I would like to nominate the following blogger:

Stephanie @ StephaniesNovelFiction

Your gifts to me…

Stephanie, you are most definitely a favorite sister blogger and friend and you have inspired me in more ways than you can imagine. Like me, you strive day in and day out to meet your goals and you are always willing to share your thoughts with me, plus you take the time to support so many other bloggers as well. Your reviews are amazing and inspire me to write better and to strive for literary excellence. I feel extremely lucky to know you and look forward to chatting with you every day! I want to say thank you for being there and supporting me along the way. ❤

Noriko @ DiaryofaBookFiend

Your gifts to me…

Noriko, your posts are so inspiring to me and you make me want to be a better reader and reviewer on everything that I read! You’re a sweet friend and make me feel great about the posts that I share and I’m always so excited to see what you have going on in your life too. I appreciate you sharing your culture with the world and can’t wait to see your posts every day. Your reviews, tags, and awards are always so detailed and interesting and I love the kind comments that you leave for others as well. Thanks for always being there and for all your wonderful thoughts and interest in what I’m doing as well as others! I appreciate you and I’m so very glad that we connected. ❤

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Continue reading “Award: Growing Self Blogger Award”

Throwback Thursday – Our Guys – August 17th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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-This week’s Pick-

Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb

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I had to read this book for a college sociology class and I had zero expectations in enjoying the book given the content of it. It’s true that it’s difficult to read at times, but the writing pulled me in and I had to know what was going to happen to the group of people responsible.

What’s no surprise to me, even after reading this years ago, is that this behavior is still relevant today. There are people willing to overlook their child’s behavior and they’ll do whatever it takes to protect them. In this case, it was an entire community.

They did make this into a lifetime movie which can be seen on YouTube, but the book is way better. The book also contains real pictures of the people involved.

I would recommend not even reading the blurb on this one. Just jump in and read it…My rating on this one is 5*****

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Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – Our Guys – August 17th”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Cottingley Secret – Toasted Coconut Mocha Smoothie

I have a new book and recipe to share this week!

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When I was a teenager, I worked at Orange Julius and always loved their Mocha smoothie. It was always so creamy and delicious. Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things and this is what inspired me to make this smoothie. If you enjoy ice coffee, you’ll love this!

-Toasted Coconut Mocha Smoothie-

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup coffee

1/4 cup toasted coconut

1 TB honey or sweetener of your choice

1 TB cocoa powder

Dash of vanilla extract

1 cup of ice (Frozen banana is an option!)

Directions:

The first thing you need to do is have some coffee, cold and ready. I usually make the coffee and either freeze it in ice cube trays or chill it in the fridge. Today I’m using chilled coffee.

You can use canned coconut milk, but I like to just make my own with shredded coconut. You can see how I do this on a previous post by clicking here.

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Toast your coconut in a pan on the stove. Be careful, because it burns easily. Use low to medium heat until it’s just browned.

Add in the ingredients to the blender in the order listed above, saving a little of the coconut for garnish. Blend until smooth.

This smoothie is actually on the thinner side, but so delicious! I’ve seen variations that add ice cream which make it more like a shake which is even more delicious. You can mess with the ingredients to suit your taste. You could even add in some protein powder or other supplements.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Cottingley Secret – Toasted Coconut Mocha Smoothie”

The Girl In The Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) Book Review

I read The Bear and the Nightingale earlier this year and fell in love with the story within the first few paragraphs, so when I heard that there were two more books coming out, I watched and waited patiently for the release of the second book. Sure enough, I found The Girl In The Tower on Netgalley and was approved for it. You can see my review of the book below.

The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden

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Blurb: The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop. – Goodreads

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (December 5, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101885963
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101885963

My Review

Brave Vasya, older and wild as ever, is faced with a choice to either marry or live in a convent as a nun. Neither choice seems applicable to her and she would rather die riding in the frozen wintry forest than be stuck living a life that doesn’t fit her. She’s been deemed a witch and questions still loom regarding her father’s death. Vasya needs to discover who she is and as she embarks on a journey alone with her horse Solovey against Morozko’s wishes, she takes risks, experiences danger with violent bandits, witnesses burned and destroyed villages, meets the Grand Prince, and even reunites with family. Only time will tell if she’s made the right decisions and the commitment may be more than she can bear.

This second installment has more action and adventure, the addition of new characters, and clues that offer insight to some of the events in the first book. It’s just as enchanting and a little darker than the first. I enjoyed the characters and relationships, especially Vasya’s relationship with Morozko and her horse Solovey. When I first began reading, I felt as though I was right back in the first book again and had to remember a few of the characters. It doesn’t take long to pick up and as Vasya’s traveling begins, there’s no telling what will happen next and the book is far from predictable.

The Girl In The Tower is written in the same enchanting prose as The Bear and the Nightingale and I did enjoy it, but it didn’t captivate me as much as the first. As this book closed with an unexpected ending, I’m even more excited for the third. 4 ****

I’d like to thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book to read and review.

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Continue reading “The Girl In The Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) Book Review”

Music Monday: Band of Horses “The Funeral”

I just saw this meme over at Claire’s blog BrizzleLassBooks.com and was instantly hooked. This meme was created by Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song and share it on Monday. Please check out both of these blogs if you haven’t already.

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I’ve had this song on my mind for some time. I started listening to the lyrics on Pandora and instantly it reminded me of my dad. Those of you that follow my “Lessons from Grandpa” posts might have heard about my dad’s story. Well, in a nutshell, I don’t know where he is any more or whether or not he’s alive. He’s been an alcoholic his whole life and never really had much use for me, my brother, or his grandkids. My brother and I just live our lives and it’s like we are in some sort of waiting and wondering if we will ever hear from him again. We’ve also had conversations with each other on whether or not someone will notify us if and when he dies. It’s an eerie thought that crosses my mind often, but I know that he will never stop drinking and has tried to take his life more than once.

This song reminds me of him because of the lyrics and the music video. In the video, you see people drinking, specifically a man. He then gets into a car and drives. I guess you just have to watch it and read the lyrics to get an idea where I’m coming from.

After doing research, I learned that the song meaning is written from a totally different idea, but it resonated with me.

Band of Horses “The Funeral”

 

Lyrics

I’m coming up only to hold you under
And coming up only to show you’re wrong
And to know you is hard; we wonder…
To know you all wrong; we warn.

 Ooooooooh Oooooooooh
Ooooooooh Oooooooooh

Really too late to call,
So we wait for morning
To wake you is all we got
To know me as hardly golden
Is to know me all wrong, they warn.


At every occasion I’ll be ready for the funeral 
At every occasion, once more, it’s called the funeral 
At every occasion, oh, I’m ready for the funeral 
Every occasion, oh, one billion day funeral


I’m coming up only to show you’re down for
And coming up only to show you’re wrong.

To the outside, the dead leaves lay on the lawn
For they don’t have trees to hang upon.

 Ooooooooh Oooooooooh
Ooooooooh Oooooooooh


At every occasion I’ll be ready for the funeral
At every occasion, once more, it’s called the funeral
At every occasion, oh, I’m ready for the funeral
Every occasion, oh, one billion day funeral

 

Continue reading “Music Monday: Band of Horses “The Funeral””

Nerd Alert: Reading is Good For Your Health

Another wonderful post from ourbetterhealth.org. Great to know that something we love doing is very healthy for our brain and body!

Our Better Health

Clients who seek solace by pouring their hearts out in Alison Kerr Courtney’s office don’t get rewarded with a Xanax or Prozac prescription. Instead, they walk away with a reading list.

The founder of  BiblioRemedy isn’t a licensed therapist, nor is she currently an English teacher, although she did work as one for 10 years in France, and has spent years shelving books at the library and in bookstores.

Courtney is a kind of book whisperer.

For as long as she can remember she’s had a knack for matching people with books that fit with their intellectual interests. But some clients want more when they make an appointment with her at her office in Lexington, Kentucky.

What they seek is a kind of bibliotherapy. It’s a growing trend where people tell empathetic listeners like Courtney their goals or problems. Courtney then suggests books that can help them clarify their…

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Pup Treats: Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies For Your Pups!

Hello friends! I’m excited to share this wonderful homemade dog treat recipe with you today! I’ve been making this one for years and my dogs always love them. They’re super easy to make and all natural!

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the store buying dog treats and the treats that I want to buy include ingredients I don’t want to feed my dog. Not only that, they are expensive. This recipe is a great alternative to buying store treats and it’s quite versatile. They’re cheap to make and you can switch up the ingredients if you’d like by using beef liver or even peanut butter.

Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies

Ingredients:

  • Roughly 5 cups of oat flour
  • 1 Container of Chicken Livers – about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Roughly 1/4 cup cheese (Parmesan or Mozzarella, whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 TB Olive Oil

Continue reading “Pup Treats: Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies For Your Pups!”

TAG: Summer Book Tag

I was tagged this week by sister book blogger Alex@coffeelovingbookoholic for the Summer Book Tag. I’d like to thank her for nominating me! As I’ve said before, please check out her blog as she has tons of content including awards, challenges, book reviews and more! I’ve never done this tag and it looks like fun so let’s get started!

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-Click the covers to add to Goodreads-

What book cover makes you think of summer?

It Starts With L by Cassandra Fear

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Much of the plot was in summer and just look at the cover!


What book has brightened your day?

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

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Jim Gaffigan makes me laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. I love his books and stand up shows. Much of what he talks about resonates with me.


Find a book cover with yellow on it.

Barkley Five Oh

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This is a short story by Logan Keys about a robot’s journey. You just have to read it…


What is your favorite summer beach read?

The Wing Man by Natasha Anders

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Yup. A fairly steamy romance that I enjoyed.


What action book had you running for the ice cream man?

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

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Another favorite by Jodi Picoult. This one I devoured and couldn’t put down…


(Sunburn) What book has left you with a bad and/or painful ending?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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I loved this book, but painful end. Period.


(Sunset) what book gave you the happiest feelings when it ended? 

Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson

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I enjoyed the ending with this one. I loved reading about May’s journey throughout the book and I was elated with the ending…


What book cover reminds you of a sunset?

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

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This book is so twisty and even hard to read at times. It’s one of my cherished books by Jodi Picoult despite the content. She’s definitely a favorite author.


What is one book or series you hope to read this summer?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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We read the children’s book this summer and I just purchased this a few weeks ago. I’m hoping to buddy read it with my oldest daughter…

Continue reading “TAG: Summer Book Tag”

Throwback Thursday – August 10th

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. If you’d just link back to her@It’s Book Talk she’d so appreciate it!

I’ve been seeing this one around for a while now and became inspired by my friend Noriko@DiaryofaBookfiend this morning after she picked a book that really brought back some memories. I thought it would be fun to bring back a book from last year that I enjoyed. This is my first Throwback Thursday and I chose a book that will always be a favorite. I hope that you might find an interest in it as well.

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Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Blurb: The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

  • Series: Beautiful Disaster Series
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original ed. edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476712042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476712048

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – August 10th”

Q&A With David R. Dowdy – Author of The Pull and Kick Murder – Includes Book Review & Paperback Giveaway!

I discovered David R. Dowdy’s book The Pull and Kick Murder on Goodreads a few months ago and couldn’t wait to read it. I was able to get a Q&A with the author and have included it below for those who’d like to learn more about this book and the author. I’ve also included my book review for The Pull and Kick Murder below.

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The Pull and Kick Murder by David R. Dowdy

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Blurb: Woodward High’s annual contest to determine the captain of the swimming team has come again. When a star swimmer is found murdered in the pool, an unlikely pair are thrown together to find the killer. Follow the story as a shady Detective Lieutenant and a highbrow philosophy teacher tries to solve the case. How far will the detective go? What drives the teacher to work with the detective? – Goodreads

My Review:

I’ve had my eyes on The Pull and Kick Murder for some time and was lucky enough to receive a copy from the author. I was hooked by this book just after reading the first few pages as the story unfolded.

The book begins with Mr. Haynes, a well-respected philosophy teacher who teaches at Woodward Highschool. Aside from reading Socrates and discussing morals in class, some of the students are involved in the high school swim team and it’s time for the new team captain competition. Jack Harrier and Harry Dawes, two of the swim competitors, aren’t interested in a fair tournament and they’ll do whatever it takes to stop a fellow student from winning the competition. Jack wants to be the new team captain and he’s not taking no for an answer. Not long after the race, a student is found murdered and two unlikely partners will be put to the challenge of solving the case. The book becomes a whodunit mystery with clues, twists, and turns that grip you until the surprising end.

The character development was spot on. The writing is profoundly descriptive and with such a strong plot and characters, it felt like I was immersed in a captivating episode of “Law and Order.” I had people envisioned in my mind for each character as I read along. The story is very convincing and felt remarkably true to me. I enjoyed the banter between Mr. Haynes and Detective Sparrow who must work together against Sparrow’s wishes to find the perpetrator. As more clues emerge, Haynes might have a lesson or two of his own to share. This was one of my favorite components in the book.

I haven’t read a whole lot of crime fiction, but if I can find similar books in crime fiction, I’d make it a favorite genre for sure. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime and mystery books. 5*****

 

stars


 

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My Q&A with author David R. Dowdy

Could you tell readers a little bit about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

One of my earliest jobs was caddying for old rich guys at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Township Michigan. I went to the stand where the golfers drove up and dropped off their clubs. My guy had one of the worst no-name sets I’d ever seen. The woods were worn and dull and the irons dinged. So, I was thinking, there’s no big tip coming.

I carried the bag to the first tee and there was just one other caddy and “his” set of clubs were beautiful. We talked a bit and the golfers came up. Would you believe it? The one who came up and introduced himself to me was Ernie Harwell, the legendary, preeminent radio announcer for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. The one I listened to every ball game day. The one who announced the World Series the Tigers won in 1968.

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Ernie Harwell

No set of clubs would ever be that light. I practically flew around the course. The best thing was hearing his folksy, smooth, Southern voice. It was just like he sounded on radio only not transistorized! His playing matched his worn out, amateur clubs, but it didn’t matter. This man, to me, was a giant. It turned out, the tip was typical. I took it, shook his hand, and thanked him. Inside I was giddy and still am.

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

For some reason, I was academic in high school. Not always the best grades, but I had a yearning to learn. Unfortunately, I was torn between arts and sciences. I loved Chemistry, Economics, and Physics, and somehow hated Math. On the other side, English, Mythology, Philosophy, Investigative Paper beckoned me.

author_ecourse.jpgJournalists were gods at the time. They’d turned the political world upside down. I read everything in the news and I felt writing had something going for it. So, that’s when I knew I wanted to write. But, the volcanic forces of basic needs erupted and I turned to engineering as a career path. Hanging on barely was the desire to write. Even though I went on to become an engineer, I still found time to write short stories and poetry. Nothing monumental because I hadn’t put enough time into them.

How does writing make you feel and does it come easy for you?

Writing makes me feel in control. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction and power when I’ve created something unique and solved a problem. It has become easier in the sense that knowing story structure and the mechanics of writing means I take less time planning and editing. But, I wouldn’t say easy because creating something in fiction that sounds plausible takes time and a lot of thought.

What are your writing plans for the future and is there anything you’re working on now?

*This answer contains spoilers*

I plan to keep writing mysteries featuring Haynes and Sparrow who solved the case of The Pull and Kick Murder. If I’m lucky, I’ll keep writing until my mind gives out, so that could be a long time. Currently, I’m planning and doing some early sketches of a mystery with my investigative duo and a high school female teen protagonist.

What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?

As I went directly to self-publishing The Pull and Kick Murder, I have no idea what it’s like to work with a publisher. Maybe I’ll have the chance someday. For now, writing a novel and making it available on Amazon and all the other online outlets is enough for me. If a publisher wanted to pick me up, I wouldn’t be against it. As for marketing, I have Goodreads and Amazon author and book pages. I have done giveaways on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m fishing for reviews!

Who are some of your favorite authors and were there any that heavily influencedfavorites.jpg your writing?

James Joyce showed in Dubliners how important characterization is and how personality affects everything. I learned from Patricia Highsmith the brilliance of how evil can infect a person without them realizing it. Graham Greene writes about the nasty people who inhabit our world. To Hammett, there’s always a quick bon mot. And Salinger understands how inner dialog is often the story if not the theme.

What is your favorite childhood book?

The Cat in the Hat. Wrecking the house on a rainy day was something I enjoyed as a kid and TCITH showed me that it was OK if one tidied afterward. I also enjoyed the Bible Stories and the oversized illustrated dictionary we kept.

What do you consider literary success?

Having my work read by thoughtful readers who generously provide feedback through reviews. Whatever comments, I will churn them back into my writing.

What would you say are the hardest tasks when it comes to writing?

Creating a lush plot (sounds like a garden!). The Pull and Kick Murder is linear in my opinion and I would like to use it as a springboard to a more complex novel.

Finding the correct voice for characters.

Showing characters coming to terms with what they thought they believed, throwing away the disbelief, and embracing the truth.writing-center-1024x692.jpg.jpg

When it comes to writing, what tools do you use? (Pen, type writer, or computer) Do you outline?

First, I outline with a pen in my notebook, usually by creating a premise and drawing a sketch or two of how the story should proceed. Then I graduate to Microsoft Word and begin to write intensively. I cross things out of my notebook as I use them. Although I may write the first chapter first, my writing does not go from start to finish. There are times when I have five pots cooking on four burners.

What inspired you to write The Pull and Kick Murder?

Someone close to me in my childhood suffered a suspicious death and the truth never came out. I asked myself ‘why?’ for many years. Then, when I realized the power of mysteries, my appetite grew. I realized that writing was something I needed to do and the genre was familiar. The Pull and Kick Murder offered a chance to right a most evil wrong in a purely fictional book.

How long did it take you to write this book?

From writing initial ideas in a notebook to reading and correcting the proof, a little over two years. I’ve had some of the story in my head for years. Often, ideas linger in a writer’s mind over their lifetime and I know that was my experience.

What was the most difficult part for you when writing this book?

Creating the suspense when writing the twists and climax. They were also the most rewarding and memorable times. It was difficult writing about the devastation that occurs following a murder.

How much research did you do for the book?research-definition-iStock.jpg

Quite a bit as I’m always concerned about being precise and getting all the details right. For example, I had to learn how to swim the breaststroke and put myself inside the swimmer in such a way that a true swimmer would believe it to be true. I hope I’ve succeeded, but we’ll see!

Also, I had to learn how an investigator goes about his or her job, especially how they read suspects and use follow up questioning.

Did you make any major edits to it?

I’m not afraid to write something and rewrite or even delete it. It’s just necessary to become clear. Often, I would read something later and find that it wasn’t good. As for major edits, yes that happened several times. An unfinished story is in flux so there’s always an opportunity to improve it.

Are any of the people, places, or events in the book based on any truth?

Definitely! My high school philosophy teacher is there front and center and nearly everything about him is true. The high school, Natatorium, and the city are from my youth. Of course, The Pull and Kick Murder is entirely fictional.

How did you come up with the character names in the book?

*This answer contains spoilers*

Lew Haynes: Lou Hayner was my philosophy teacher in high school. Altering his name was easy.
Ian Sparrow: Sparrow’s don’t fear much and they’re always looking into their surroundings. Ian is my son’s first name.
Billy Touraine: He’s renamed after a great friend, Bill Tourville, from high school who was on the swimming team. Bill, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you had to fictionally die and I hope you’re in good health!

To go into the other main character’s names might reveal too much. Secondary characters come from people I know. Alex is the nick of my son’s middle name Alexander and the male protagonist from a novel that I couldn’t complete. Kunta is a great name from someone I worked with. Yolanda is a wonderful lady from Peru who cleaned at my previous job.

The ending was such a surprise for me! Did you have any other alternative endings for the book?

Yes, because my characters weren’t cooperating and they were keeping things from me. At times, I had envisioned two other characters each as the culprit. But, the more I wrote (I had a plan and it morphed on me), the more I loved their flaws and everything. I had so much invested in them, they were innocent. To have used either one would have been asinine.

After reading your brother’s review for the book, readers will learn that your book was kept secret from your family until after it was published. What made you decide to keep the book a secret and what was your family’s reaction when they found out about it?

It wasn’t as much secret as it was risk avoidance. I felt if I had let on too early, my book would have become a weight of questioning when I would ever finish. Towards the end I told a few people at work who I had become close to, but only when I knew the book was inevitable. You may have read the first review on Amazon where my brother Jeff was surprised that I had kept the book secret. The second review is from my brother Mike. I was so happy to get those reviews!

Who designed the cover and did you have a part in it?

I get full blame or credit for the cover. Create Space provides the dimensional specifications. I chose one of the stock layouts. Later I realized that I could have done better. I searched for a stock photo and when I discovered the one at the top of my final cover, I was enthralled. The guy is coming up and taking a deep breath and his hands are outstretched. I imagined in that half-second he’s offering something spiritual in himself. Immediately, I purchased the photo and stuck it over a blood red swatch where I put the title. That’s the current and last edition.

If The Pull and Kick Murder were adapted into a movie, which actors would you choose for the main characters?

Haynes: Ben Affleck

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Sparrow: Samuel L. Jackson

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Damon: Dane Dehaan

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Evelyn: Sigourney Weaver

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Beth: Angelina Jolie

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Alex: Christian Bale

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Jack: Zack Effron

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Billy: Robert Pattinson

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Mykayla: Selena Gomez

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How do you feel about e-books vs. print books?

To each his own. However, e-books have never appealed to me.

When reading The Pull and Kick Murder, I couldn’t help but think about some of my favorite crime shows like Law and Order and CSI. Do you have any favorite TV shows or movies? Anything that inspired the book?

I have only Netflix for TV and even so I avoid crime documentaries. I would rather read about human chemistry, motivation, and criminal tendencies from fiction and biographies. Among others, I watch Midsomer Murders and Inspector Morse for entertainment. For movies, I like film noir. Radio mystery such as Suspense is very inspiring.

 

 

Continue reading “Q&A With David R. Dowdy – Author of The Pull and Kick Murder – Includes Book Review & Paperback Giveaway!”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. I have two new books to share and an interesting recipe for dairy free biscuits and gravy that’s quite delicious! 25-Inspiring-Happy-Wednesday-Quotes-To-Share-6338-9.jpg

This is a recipe that I can eat any time of the day or night. I’ve even made biscuits & Gravy for dinner recently and it’s always so delicious!

Let’s get started…

I learned how to make biscuits & Gravy from my Stepmother Laurie. Just a few weeks before she passed away, she told me she wanted to show me how to make her biscuits and gravy recipe so that I would always know how. I’ve made this recipe ever since and my family loves it. I’m going to give you both recipe versions so that you can choose which one you’d like to try.

Laurie’s Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

My Stepmom loved using Grand’s Butter Tastin’ Biscuits with her gravy. Her gravy recipe is as follows:

1 – TB Bacon Lard

1 tube of hot ground sausage

1 tube of regular ground sausage

1 cup of whole milk

1/2 cup of flour

Salt and Pepper

Additional milk for thickening

So, my version of the recipe is made the same way as Laurie’s biscuits & gravy, but using almond milk. I used to make this with traditional cow’s milk, and in my opinion, it does taste best with real whole milk and even a splash of cream. I’m always searching for dairy free versions when it comes to cooking because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not supposed to be eating dairy and do much better without it.

My dairy free version…

Ingredients:

My favorite biscuit recipe which you will find HERE. (Omit the butter and use Crisco for dairy free! Also use almond milk which works great)

1 TB oil or lard – whichever you like

2 tubes of ground sausage of your choice (I like Farmland MSG Free)

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1 cup of almond milk (or milk of your choice)

1/2 cup of flour

Salt, pepper, and a dash of ground cayenne pepper to taste (Farmland doesn’t make hot sausage that I can find so I use a little dash of cayenne pepper)

Additional milk to use with thickening

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Directions: 

Heat your pan to medium and begin breaking up the sausage while frying until cooked through. I love using cast iron for this…

As the sausage is frying, prepare your milk by adding it to a jar or bowl. I like to shake my milk and flour in a jar because it makes it easy. You can also whisk it.

1 Cup of Milk

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1/2 Cup of Flour

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Shake it up real good!

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Once the sausage is cooked through – Drain the fat

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Now you’re ready to add your milk mixture to your drained sausage over medium heat. Pour it in and start stirring it up until it gets thick which is almost instantly.

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Add in more milk. I don’t measure on this. I just add a little slowly over time until I get to the desired thickness.

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Just keep stirring and adding in small amounts of milk over high heat. Once it starts to boil turn it down to a simmer. Don’t forget to add in your spices!

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This is why I love cast iron – It’s naturally non-stick as you can see in the picture below.

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After simmering for roughly 10-15 minutes, it’s done.

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Serve with your fresh biscuits!

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Delicious!

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Continue reading for this week’s books!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy”

Tag: What Makes You Happy Tag

I was recently tagged by two very awesome blogging friends Noriko@bookfiendsite and Claire@brizzleassbooks for the What Makes You Happy Tag. I’d like to thank both of these beautiful ladies for tagging me. They both have wonderful blogs so please check them out if you haven’t already. I feel lucky to know them both.

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I was super excited to get tagged for this because I’ve been seeing it around and it looks really fun.

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Let’s get started!


List 5 Things That Make You Happy:

  1. Family: My kids are like sunshine to me and brighten my days like nothing else. They consistently make me laugh, surprise me with new and amazing things, and make my life complete. My husband and my mom are my best friends and I’m lucky to have them as well.
  2. Music: I think many people relate to music in some way, but for me, music is a lifeline. Is it crazy to say that I wouldn’t exist without music? Music has made me who I am. It’s a part of me that cannot be taken away and integral to my existence. It’s motivating, mood-lifting, healing and nostalgic at times. I simply can’t say enough about it…
  3. Reading: I haven’t always loved learning, but I always loved to read and appreciate learning all that I can now. Reading soothes me, relaxes my body, stimulates my mind, and takes me places. Traveling through time, imaging life in someone else’s shoes, learning, escaping and enhancing my mood are all some of the reasons why I love reading.
  4. Having my health: I’ve said before how important it is to have your health, because if you don’t, you can’t live a very happy life. This is true for me and I appreciate the fact that I’m in control of my health. When I’m healthy, I’m happy and I can live my life fully.
  5. Freedom: I feel really lucky to have my freedom. I appreciate that I have the freedom to do what I want to do and it makes me very happy to have a choice to read what I want, eat what I want, sleep when I want, and pretty much be myself. I think these are things that we easily take for granted.
  6. Bonus! My Pups! 

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List 5 Songs That Make You Happy

Like Claire mentioned, this is a hard one. A lot of my music is also depressing, but surprisingly makes me happy. It’s way too hard to pick just 5, so I decided to pick songs that REALLY lift my mood and make me want to dance around the place…

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INXS – Need You Tonight

It’s sad that Michael Hutchence took his own life because his music was some of the best. He was an amazing person and I wish he could’ve received the help he needed.  I loved nearly every song they came out with and never get tired of listening to this song.

Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance

This one reminds me of when I was just a wee little one sitting in front of MTV. I loved this video so much and can remember skipping around to it. It’s songs like this that influenced my love for music in the first place…

Far East Movement – Like A G6

I don’t know what to say about this song, but it really gets me moving. It reminds me of New Year’s Eve…

Lorde – Tennis Court

Love the beat and lyrics…

Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know – Radio Mix

I love this song, but the radio edit was probably the best version for me. I love the rhythm of it…

Continue reading “Tag: What Makes You Happy Tag”

Meet The Reader Series With GRH

I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others, so I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.

Meet the Reader Series

Today’s reader: GRH

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Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

A: Yes. The Rev. W Awdry’s Railway series was the earliest I can remember; The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh are amongst my favourites.

Q: What are some of your favorite books this year?

A: Never Let Me Go’; ‘The Circle’; ‘Keep The Aspidistra Flying’ and many others.

Q: What are your favorite book genres?

A: Reference; philosophical; spiritual; investigative; psychology; technology and anything that grabs the attention of my interests.

Q: What are some of your favorite authors today?

A: I like George Orwell, G K Chesterton, Dostoyevsky, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Pullman, George Monbiot, John Pilger, Naomi Klien.

Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?Bookshelf.jpg

A: 19 and as I reduce those I will add more.

Q: What’s an emotional book you’ve read this year or last?

A: I’m not sure how to answer that; I think most books stir some emotion even if it is throwing the book in the bin in disgust; but if a book gave me pause for thought then I would say ‘Never Let Me Go’ – so far.

Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?

A: No, I think most books are pretty much curate’s eggs and I approach them as such.

Q: They say to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?

A: Not at all; I like to look at the book covers because I like typographical and graphic design, but they have no bearing as to whether I read it or not.

Q: What are you reading now?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard

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Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

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Q: Do you have a blog? If so, what is the name? If not, have you ever thought about starting one?

A: No and no.

Q: Have you written anything? If not, have you ever thought about writing your own book?

A: Yes. I co-wrote and co-illustrated a children’s book, which is not yet published.

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The Frightened Little Flower Bud – Publishing in Progress

I have thought about writing a book, but the thought floats away like the clouds across the sky.

Q: Which do you enjoy more, ebooks or physical books? How about audio books?Old_Books_Chemistry_Behind_It

A: Real books without a doubt. Anything else has no soul. Holding a book that is over 100 years old or more is an experience you will never get from your ebook-reader or tape. The smell, the tactility, the finding of a pressed flower, an annotation in the margin or ‘to Mary, 1879’ written in copperplate. Wonderful stuff.

Q: Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)

A: Second hand bookshops, online, friends.

Continue reading “Meet The Reader Series With GRH”

Stump The Grown-Up Book Review

Stump the Grown – Up

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In June we made a trip to the book store searching for some fun summer reads. My kids picked out this book titled Stump The Grown-Up and I was instantly intrigued. It’s chock-full of questions regarding math, science, food, history, reading, pop culture and more. The book is so much fun to read with kids because they ask you the questions to see just how smart you are! They are learning and they don’t even know it. This isn’t just fun for the kids, it’s fun for the whole family.

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Some questions are multiple choice, whereas some are matching. There are regular questions that offer no hints at all. A few examples are:

  •  What was the first food grown in space?
  • George Washington Carver discovered more than 300 uses for what food?
  • In Tuck Everlasting, what secret power does the Tuck family possess?

Other matching questions ask fun facts regarding fast food catchphrases and even cover the 50 states and capitals of the United States! Answers are on the bottom of the page and appear upside down so they’re not easy to read.

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This is a great read for anytime of the year. It’s been fun keeping our brains stimulated over summer vacation and I can still see us reading this book throughout the school year. Hands down it’s one of the most fun and best educational books we found. 5*****

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Continue reading “Stump The Grown-Up Book Review”

TAG: The How I Choose My Books Tag

I found this tag over at coffeelovingbookoholic.com and thought I’d give it a try! If you haven’t checked out this blog yet, please do. There’s a lot to read including book reviews, awards, tags, top books, wrap-ups and more!

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This tag was originally created by the bookish underdog. Please also check out this blog if you haven’t already…


Click the covers to add on Goodreads

1. Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?

Wintersong

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I really loved this book and the cover has to be one of my favorites. The cover baited me from the moment I saw it, but the fact that it was a Labyrinth retelling is what sold me.


2. Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

Our Guys

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I had to read this for a college sociology class and given the content, I didn’t think I would like it. It was actually really good and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to discover what was going to happen. It’s hard to believe, but it’s a true story.


3. Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book? 

Half Broke Horses

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I picked this up from a book sale for .50 cents along with The Glass Castle. It sounded interesting and I plan to read it this year. I still have to read The Glass Castle too which is now a movie!


4. Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

A Monster Calls

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Wow, when I first read this, I was so emotional. It wasn’t what I expected, but I still rated it 4 stars because it was good. I went back and read it all over again a few months later and ended up giving it a higher rating because I felt that the book deserved 5 stars. I personally just had a hard time with some of the events in the book.

Continue reading “TAG: The How I Choose My Books Tag”

Magic Numbers – A Short Story By Anthony Jones

I found this beautiful story on Goodreads this evening. It’s a short story titled “Magic Numbers” written by author Anthony Jones. I hope you enjoy it…

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Magic Numbers
By Anthony Jones 

Terri sat at the desk in her finest evening gown and opened the center drawer. The sweet odor of the cigar box arose like a warm hug from her father. She could hear Jim’s footfalls on the tile floor as he approached the den.

“Are you ready to go?” Jim asked in a stern voice.

“I’m ready, but we can’t leave yet. You know what day it is.”

Jim’s eyes fell to the cigar box on the desk, and his heart sunk. “Yeah, today is the day the Association is honoring me at the annual awards dinner and it happens in eighty minutes. Let’s go!”

“Who do you think your talking too? If you’re in such a hurry to leave, just go. I’ll meet you when I’m done.”

“Done? With what? An OCD ritual created by a lunatic? I have had it with this!

Terri looked up from the desk, eyes filled with hurt and anger. “Why don’t you calm down. Why are you acting this way?”

“Don’t turn this on me!” Now Jim was on a roll and was powerless to stop. This was the last straw. Even his ears burned hot with rage. His words cut her like a razor.

“You drug that damn box to Hawaii last year and we missed our anniversary dinner cruise. And for what? So, you can carry on a stupid tradition of your dead father that is ruining our lives?”

The tears she was fighting back began to stream. Jim didn’t understand. This was her time to remember her father in her own way. Terri’s first memory was sitting on her father’s lap at age three while the weekly drawing played on television. He would take out the box, where he kept every ticket he ever bought. The tickets were meticulously filed chronologically dating back to the beginning of the lottery. He even had a special pen to circle each of the numbers that hit. Then he would number the ticket at the bottom in small print and hand the pen to Terri to draw the sad face indicating another loser. He always played the same numbers and bought the ticket at the same mom and pop bait shop in Rio Vista and never missed a week. He died in a head on collision seven years ago returning from that very store. After the funeral, when her mother asked if she wanted any of her father’s things, she chose the cigar box. For seven years, Terri has never missed a week playing her father’s magic numbers.

“Please Jim, you know how important this is to me, go on and I will catch up.” Terri said trying to compose herself, dabbing at her eyeliner with a tissue.

“Don’t bother! I don’t want you there! I’m done!” Jim slammed the door on his way out.

Terri used her small mirror to assess the damage her sobs had done to her face. Black lines traced the tracks of her tears. She took out her make up kit to complete the repairs; then she put it away and laid her head on her folded arms and cried again.

The tall grandfather clock’s chimes brought her back from her sobs and she took the remote from the desk drawer and turned on the weekly drawing. She opened the cigar box slowly and allowed the aroma of tobacco mixed with her father’s spiced cologne to scent the air. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. She felt a smile on her lips as she imagined her father playing his magic numbers. Terri opened her eyes, picked up the special pen and began to circle the numbers as they appeared on the television screen. She printed, not this week at the bottom of the ticket. Then she numbered the ticket 1,507 and drew a small sad face on it and placed it meticulously in the box with the others. When she was done, she returned the pen to the box, placed the box in the drawer and turned off the television. It was seven twenty, she had plenty of time to make it to the awards banquet, but the sting of Jim’s words would not leave her. Instead she went to her room, curled up on her bed and cried some more.

The next morning, Jim was gone. Terri remembered this was his annual training conference in Los Angeles. In their eight-year marriage she thought their boundaries were fully tested, well defined and set in stone. They had never separated for any extended period while angry with each other or without saying goodbye.

***
It was Saturday when Jim left his hotel for the airport. Why hasn’t she called? Jim tortured himself all the way to the airport replaying the awful things he said about Gabriel. Did I really call him a lunatic? Jim asked himself. Truth be known, Jim really liked Gabe and missed him deeply. He was like the father he never had. Jim even made the trip with Gabe to Rio Vista on occasion and enjoyed chatting about the Forty-niners and fishing in the delta. And now, he was not speaking to his beloved because she wanted to carry on her father’s rather benign tradition.

After processing through security at the airport Jim found a seat at his terminal and took out his cell phone. He scrolled through his photos finding dozens of selfies of him and Terri. When he came across the Hawaiian anniversary vacation he stopped on a photo of Terri in her sexy bikini on the beach with her arm around his neck. The love and adoration in her eyes was priceless. What was it I said to her about the cruise we missed because of the lotto thing?

Now he remembered it differently. It was he who suggested they skip the dinner cruise that night. He hated pre-ordered food and the pretentious on-board jazz band that would expect them to dance as the boat cruised the blue haired old ladies a mile off shore. It was him who insisted on ordering room service and using the in-room spa. Jim remembered it was Terri who rocked his world so passionately that night, he measured all other romantic encounters against it and nothing in his life has ever come close.

By the time he landed in Sacramento and collected his luggage, Jim was contemplating what he would say when he got home.

Where do I start? He thought as he pulled out of the long-term parking lot. When he reached the freeway, he noticed his gas gauge was on empty. At the Chevron, Jim thought about texting Terri with something sweet to test the waters but chickened out fearing it was too impersonal after a week of the silent treatment. No, he would have to do this one in person. He simply had not figured out how to apologize so she would know he is sincere. I am such an idiot, he thought as he entered the store to pay for the gas. He wandered to the cold drink section and selected a water and approached the counter.

“Hello, my friend” the clerk said as he rang up the water.

Jim took out his wallet. “Hi, I got forty on pump seven.”

“The lotto is at a record three hundred and ninety million, would you like to add a ticket to your purchase?” The clerk said pointing to the lighted sign.

Jim looked at the sign and shook his head, then noticed fresh cut roses on the counter beneath it.

“You know odds of hitting the lotto are higher than being struck by lightning; how much for the roses?”

***
Terri was halfway to Rio Vista to get her weekly ticket when her phone rang. “Hello,” she said.

“Mrs. McLain, this is Sergeant Thomas with the California Highway Patrol, I’m sorry to inform you your husband has been in an accident on the causeway.”

“Oh my God. No!” Terri cried into the phone, “Is he ok?”

“I’m afraid not ma’am; he has been life flighted to UC Davis Medical Center and listed as critical.

Terri’s stomach clenched. UC Davis is where they took her father before he died.

“I’m on my way!” She said and turned her car toward Davis.

When she arrived at the hospital, the nightmare started all over again. The same faces at the counter, the same elevator, the same smell of iodine and disinfectant mixed with a pasta aroma escaping from the cafeteria. The same nurse Jodi that tended to her father before he passed.

“I’m sorry Mrs. McLain,” Nurse Jodi said, “your husband just came out of surgery and must spend some time in intensive care, no visiting. Come with me and I will show you where you can wait.”

Terri followed the nurse to the emergency room waiting area. “Can I get you anything while you wait?” Nurse Jodi asked. Terri shook her head and sat down.

For five hours, she sat, not wanting to believe it was happening all over again. She thought about all the things she wanted to tell Jim. She wanted to tell him she was sorry and would put her father’s box away forever, and that he was far more important than a silly game. She would choose another way to remember her father, perhaps visiting his grave from time to time like normal people. She prayed for a second chance to talk to her beloved, a chance she never got with her father.

As she sat contemplating the worst, she noticed the nurses chatting about the lottery being at a record high.

Today was the last day to get a ticket. The drawing was coming up in two hours and would forever break the living chronological chain in the cigar box. And it was ok, if only she could speak to Jim once more she would give anything. She felt ashamed for the way she acted last week. The awards banquet was an important night for Jim and she made it all about a stupid game. “Please let him be ok.” She whispered.

“Mrs. McLain, your husband was moved to another room. You can come in now. The doctor said he is going to be just fine,” Nurse Jodi said.

Terri welled up as she looked at Jim sleeping peacefully. “Thank God!” she whispered and sat beside him. She took his hand and pulled it to her lips and kissed it softly. She sat quietly thinking of all the things she would say when he awakes.

A short time later, Nurse Jodi came in the room. “Mrs. McLain, would it be alright if I turn on your television just for a moment, I want to watch the lotto drawing. It is at a record high and we all went in on tickets,” she whispered
Terri nodded, still holding Jim’s hand.

When 16 came up Terri smiled and thought, one of father’s magic numbers. When 15 and 4 came next, she started to laugh. Then 42, 8 and finally 23. Now Terri was laughing hysterically, then crying a little bit, then laughing again.

“Are you ok Mrs. McLain?” Nurse Jodi asked.

Tears were tracing her face as she said, “You did it daddy.” When she reached for the tissue she noticed the roses.

“They’re for you, the EMT said your husband refused to let go of them, so I put them with his personals,” Nurse Jodi said, pointing to the small table with her chin.

Then Terri noticed something else. The distinct color of an orange lotto ticket was poking from Jim’s wallet. When she opened it, and saw that Jim had played her father’s magic numbers. Her tears returned and she placed her hand over her mouth.

Nurse Jodi left the room shaking her head.

Jim awoke to Terri’s sweet kisses on his face.

Continue reading “Magic Numbers – A Short Story By Anthony Jones”

Award: Liebster Award #3

I was nominated by Heidi@BookLoverBlogs.com for The Liebster Award. Have you been to her blog yet? If not, please check it out. She has amazing reading goals with booklists! I was so impressed and inspired. I’m very glad to be connected with Heidi and hope that more will discover her blog. I’d like to thank Heidi for this nomination. This is my 3rd Liebster Award and I’m very excited!

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The Rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 11 blogs
  4. Notify them of the nomination
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer

11 Facts About Myself:

  • I have one sibling, an older brother.
  • Some of my favorite music artists of all time are: Alice in Chains, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Audioslave, STP, Faith No More, Neil Young, Creed, and so many more. 🙂
  • I graduated a year early from high school in an accelerated program.
  • I have a book addiction and can easily spend hours in the bookstore! Not only that, I have way too many books.
  • Denzel  Washington is one of my favorite actors all the way back to “Glory”, one of my favorite movies of all time. Also: Philadelphia, The Equalizer, Man on Fire, Training Day, Eli, Déjà Vu, John Q and so many more.

If you haven’t seen Glory, I highly encourage you to watch it. Here’s the trailer…

  • I love fried chicken so much; I wish I could eat it everyday.
  • I’m a mother of 5 wonderful kids.
  • I’m my children’s sole educator and have been a home educator since 2005.
  • I don’t like to fly in airplanes.
  • I really enjoy swimming.
  • I’m addicted to sweets,  especially birthday cake.

Continue reading for Heidi’s questions…

Continue reading “Award: Liebster Award #3”

8 Mental Habits That Suck Happiness From Your Life

So very true! Reblogging this from ourbetterhealth.org

Our Better Health

There are different personality traits people possess which pretty much map out how their lives unfold. Each of you have developed certain habits and emotional masks that determine how you deal with your life and the people in it. You may not even notice it, but certain habits have the ability to keep you happy while the others can make you downright miserable. Here are 8 habits that can suck happiness out of your life.

1. Not Forgiving Yourself

Let’s face it, everyone has regrets. You are allowed to feel guilty about certain life choices you have made, the blunders you committed, the promises you have broken, and the lies you have told. Nobody is perfect and no one is completely free of regrets. But that doesn’t mean you have to be entangled in your regrets forever. Everyone makes mistakes. Cut yourself some slack, learn to forgive yourself.

2. Holding…

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