Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Little Word for 2013

This year's word snuck up on me. I wasn't expecting it. It took a while for me to recognize it, to acknowledge it, to accept it. It sounds so....not me. And then I thought, "maybe that's the point". The One Little Word that has chosen me for 2013 is ACTION.

Here's the post that really got me thinking this word was choosing me.

I still need to spend some time with this word to discover what it really means to me. Maybe that process will take all year. I don't know. So far, I know it means moving my body and exercising (a continuation of HEALTH, my OLW for 2012).  I know it means finishing some projects around the house. It means doing more than watching TV in the evenings. It means following through with some expectations for my kids (think chore chart, from 2011's OLW- CALM).

...see how these words never really go away, how they complement and bolster each other? I just love that.

I can't wait to find out what else ACTION will come to mean to me this coming year.
Do you have a guiding word or make resolutions for the New Year? I'd love the hear about it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday 12/27/12

the last Thursday in 2012
I haven't blogged in over a month
I'm still in my PJ's and it's 2:30 in the afternoon
shopping for a car just stinks...

these are just random thoughts as the year wraps up

but here are my gratitudes for the week, the day, this moment...

I am thankful my kids got to play in some serious snow yesterday and today!
I am thankful hubs made it safely to and from work in said snow.
I am thankful for neighbors who will give me a lift when needed.
I am thankful for friends who are just there when I need them, for problems big and small.
I am thankful for hot chocolate.
I am thankful for forgiveness, both giving and receiving.

Enjoy the last few days of 2012!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday 11/1/12

Just a hodgepodge of thankful thoughts today...

I am thankful that all we got from Sandy was a little wind and rain. My heart goes out to all those on the east coast.

I am thankful to live in a country where I am allowed to VOTE! My husband and I exercised our right to vote early on Monday.

I am thankful for a little pill called Relpax. It (most of the time) nips my migraines in the bud.

I am thankful my oldest daughter is learning to cook a few simple things. Tonight she is making soup and grilled cheese, and I get a break!

Thanks for stopping by. What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday 10/25/12

We just got back from "Math Night" at my kids' school. There are lots of math-related activities. Tonight we estimated the weight of a pumpkin, graphed different varieties of candy corn (white chocolate and green apple- who knew?) and launched tennis balls at targets.

I am thankful for my kids everyday...just look at these faces!


Tonight I was reminded how thankful I am for their school and their teachers. These men and women are so creative and patient, and I know they truly care about my children. Tonight my youngest daughter's teacher, Mrs. N, told my husband and I that we need to have two more kids so I can send them to Central. When I asked her why, she said, "Because the two you already have are so awesome!" What a compliment!

I am thankful for the adults in my life who care about my kids, teach them, and keep them safe. They really are partners in raising my daughters.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankful Thursday 10/11/12

As I mentioned a few days ago, reinstating my Thankful Thursday posts is one way I can work towards my goal of health, my One Little Word for this year.

I am thankful for our neighbors. It is so nice for my kids to have so many friends living next door, and the hubs and I have made new friends, too. We all end up hanging out or doing something together at least once a week!
 
I am thankful for my Kindle Fire. Seriously, I just love that thing. Everyone else in the house loves it too- I barely have a chance to use it these days!
 
I am thankful that my youngest daughter is discovering a love for Harry Potter! She's been an avid reader for quite a while now, but I think it's exciting that we'll get to have discussions about some of my favorite characters ever.
 
I am thankful that my husband was able to buy a new guitar. He's patiently waited for one for over a year, and I love listening to him play in the evenings.

I love the sense of fulfillment and gratitude this practice cultivates. Definitely good for my mental health!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Update on One Little Word 2012: Health

I didn't follow through with my One Little Word album this year, but I have been reflecting this past week on what I have accomplished toward my goal of health. Some things were deliberate, and some just luck. What else can I do in these last few months of the year?

Physical health- Through some rough medical treatments, time, and a little luck, I am now in remission from Meniere's disease and Relapsing Polychondritis. I returned to work in December of last year. I have worked hard to lose over 50 pounds so far, and have been able to discontinue two of my medications. Good progress here!

Mental health- Feeling good physically has definitely helped my mental outlook as well. I can't think of anything I've really put into practice to help in this area. To do: re-establish weekly "Thankful Thursday" posts. This is such a great way to keep perspective.

Relationship health- I think I've done a great job here this year. My family and I took a long-anticipated vacation to Disney World this past spring, and we all had a great time! We made some great memories that will last for years to come. I (only partially willingly) took a new position at work, and I've worked for months to accept the realities of my new job. Some of the benefits are that I am able to establish a different sort of relationship with the families I support, and build new professional connections as well. My husband and I just celebrated our 12 year anniversary with a quick get-away. We considered various locations, but in the end we consciously spent our time at a secluded cabin. This trip was about US, not about doing stuff.

Financial health- I admit, the report is not so great here. Sure, we're paying all the bills and afforded a couple of vacations this year, but our savings is still stagnant. To do: make a plan to boost up that account a little- E-bay? Making and selling cards or crochet projects? Yard sale?

I have three more months to focus on health, and I'm looking forward to what I can accomplish. I hope that health continues to linger in my mind, as calm (my One Little Word from 2011) has thus far. A few ideas are percolating pertaining to next year's word, too! Some seem obvious to me, but one or two words caught me by surprise but are persistently creeping into my conscious- one of these words keeps popping up in my blog posts. Can you guess what it is?

Do you have a special word or quote that helps move you forward?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Lone WolfLone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most people either really love Jodi Picoult or really don't. I am generally a neutral party- some of her books I love, some are just so-so for me. This book definitely fell into the "love" category.

The whole story just feels so raw. Painful family relationships are juxtaposed with close encounters with wolves, both in captivity and in the wild. I know this sounds like a strange combination, but it works.

Luke is a father of two and a wolf activist. He not only leaves his family for almost two years to live in the wild, he also maintains a pack in captivity. He has dedicated his life to preservation and education.

Luke's daughter, Cara, moves in with him after her parents divorce. Edward, Cara's older brother, packed up and left the country when he was just 18. The estranged siblings are thrown together when tragedy strikes and Luke is in a coma.

I won't give away the rest of the book, because the major drama and emotion in the book comes from the siblings' differing views on end-of-life decisions.

This was touching and heart-wrenching, at times even painful. But beautifully done!

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Procrastination?

For most of my life, I have been a doer. Get it done now. No time like the present.

Then I hit my mid-30's and something changed. I slowed down and relaxed my sense of urgency. While that's really just a nice way of saying I'm now a major procrastinator, it is true that letting go of, or at least putting off,  not-so-important tasks has helped me cultivate calm.

Today I realized something equally important. Letting go is only good until the undone tasks start to create stress instead of relieve it.

Case in point:
We painted our living room several months ago. I bought new furniture and lamps, and had a vague plan for the wall space over the couch. This is what that area looks like today:

Yep. Still bare. This has been really bugging me for the past few weeks. So much so, that every time I look at that wall I scowl. Not good. The time for procrastination is over. Today I started painting some things I know I want on the wall, and put out a call to Facebook friends for a couple of other items I want. Action feels good.

To maintain my momentum, I am returning to one of my favorite organizational techniques, list making. I am trying something new and making my list time-sensitive by putting my to-do tasks on our family calendar. Everything won't get done at once, but I have a visual prompt to keep chipping away, and a reference that assures me there is light at the end of the tunnel. To maintain calm, I am admitting up front that my schedule may need tweaked now and then to accommodate changes to the kids' schedule (think extra dance practice before their parade in November), and the unplannable, such as my niece who is due in a week or so! Notice I said tweaked, not abandoned!

Are you a procrastinator? If so, are you good with that, or do you find ways to keep yourself going?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Around Here, September 2012

Around here, my girls are deciding on Halloween costumes, changing their minds, then changing them back again.

Around here, we are enjoying spending time with our neighbors- driveway tailgating and backyard bonfires. Lots of kids running around.

Around here, we are amazed that Justin's accident happened two years ago this month.

Around here, Morgan is struggling with homework. I hate to see her dislike school so much, and it is very stressful for her and me.

Around here, Justin and I are getting ready to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary with a little trip to a secluded cabin. Can't wait!

Around here, both girls are taking dance lessons. That makes for one long night of classes!

Around here, we all fight over the Kindle!

Around here, we are having a lot of discussions about autism. We finally sat the girls down and told them that Morgan has Asperger's Syndrome.

Around here, school papers are already stacking up and multiplying. I just signed my first permission slip of the year.

Around here, Vivian is really caught between wanting to be a big kid, and still needing to be the baby. She has decided it is hard being the little sister.

Around here, I am enjoying the cooler mornings and evenings.

Around here, we still seek patience, simplicity, and forgiveness.


Other "Around Here" posts: 2011, 2010

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Losing my Passion

As I was sitting on my front porch today watching all the neighborhood kids run around, relishing these last few weeks of outdoors time, I found myself being a little jealous of their joy. Their energy. Their passion.

I have had a lot of good things happen this year. I moved into a new position at work. I've been healthy. I've lost weight. Took a great family trip to Disney World. But I seem to have lost my passion for a lot of things I once treasured. Some of those things I can live without, and chalk it up to "people change". But some things I don't WANT to let go...taking photos, scrapbooking, blogging about more than book reviews, my role as family memory-keeper. I dropped Project 365 and only got two months in to my One Little Word project. I have only scrapped through September 2011, and have not yet printed any photos from 2012. What gives?

While I feel a tinge of disappointment, mostly I feel an awakening. A welcoming of possibilities. An excitement to recommit to these things I love. I've enjoyed browsing for some new products that might help me simplify my memory-keeping, like Project Life. I'm gathering up supplies to start prepping my December Daily project. I've ordered last year's pictures for my girls' school albums. I have two meaningful blog posts written and scheduled.

Action feels good.

Have you had a similar experience? Lost your passion and joy for something you truly love? How did you re-ignite that spark?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is in the air...

Can you feel it?

I love all the sensory experiences of fall...

crunching leaves
Pumpkin Spice lattes
football games
bonfires and S'mores
crisp air and sweaters
 
I also love Halloween. I'm finally getting last fall's photos into scrapbooks. Here are the girls' pumpkins from 2011.

 
Supplies:
Paper- Me and My Big Ideas, misc
Stickers- Creative Memories; Martha Stewart
Alphas- Basic Grey; Scenic Route
Other- Stickles

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dark Tower (Dark Tower # 7)The Dark Tower by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I began my quest alongside Roland in September of 2010 with The Gunslinger. I was sitting in a hospital room with my husband who had suffered a terrible accident at work. I got an email from my local library on September 8, 2012, telling me that my reserved copy of The Dark Tower was ready to be picked up. Two years TO THE DAY of my husband's accident and the day I turned to page one in this entire series. Ka.
In this final installment, Roland and his ka-tet are broken apart, over and over. It's really quite devestating to read. Through all the loss and pain, we get to witness a bit of honesty, a bit of doubt, and a bit of love...all from the bold and single-minded Gunslinger.

I honestly can't say I loved the entire book. Some parts were pretty slow, as in the previous books. I can't say I loved more appearances by Stephen King. I, as a lot of other Constant Readers, found this to be too self-indulgent. After reading the Coda, I am content with his explaination. I can't say I loved the ending, because it was almost too unfair to be true.

I can say I loved the journey.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review: Trace by Patricia Cornwell

Trace (Kay Scarpetta, #13)Trace by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just don't know. This is the second Scarpetta book I have read (admittedly out of order), and there's something I'm just not getting.

This one begins promisingly enough, with Kay and detective Pete Marino heading back to Virginia to help solve the mysterious death of a 14 year old girl. We meet some creepy people- the new chief medical examiner, for one, and our real bad guy, Edgar Allen Pogue.

"Trace" centers around trace evidence found at three seemingly unrelated crime scenes. One of these, of course, involves Kay's niece Lucy. Lucy has a wicked intellect and is about as self-absorbed and destructive as a PMSing teenager.

The story surrounding the crimes is actually pretty good- but there is too much distraction for this to be a really good book. The CME is thrown in as kind of a red herring- he has some skeletons in his closet, but we never reslove anything with him. You can feel Kay and Benton (her, what? Boyfriend? Husband? I'm not sure what he is at this point) struggling to bury their hurtful past, but no one talks about it and there is no confrontation. Some opportunities for real drama are just skated over.

I've heard the earlier Scarpetta novels are better, but I think I'm done.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: The Scarpetta Factor

The Scarpetta Factor (Kay Scarpetta, #17)The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit I had never read a Kay Scarpetta book before this one. I will be reading more! It reminds me of Bones, without the social awkwardness.

Kay is a Medical Examiner for the city of New York. The cast of (I'm guessing) regular characters is long, but includes Detective Marino, her computer whiz niece Lucy, and psychologist-husband Benton.

I thought this book was a nice mix of technology, medical terminology, and detective work. The crew is hunting the truth about what happened to Tori, a woman found murdered in Central Park. We learn through example that it's best to let the fact tell the sotry, instead of fitting the facts to a convenient theory.

There was not as much suspense as I had expected, but other than that, a good read.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Love UnfinishedLove Unfinished by Darian Wilk
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Wow, I can't believe so many other readers gave this 4 or 5 stars...

IF (and that's a big IF) you can get past the terrible editing and e-book formatting, the characters, plot and dialogue leave so much to be desired.

The story emerges as somewhat hokey, but sweet- a young couple is killed on their wedding day and arrive in a sort of limbo, with a chance to find each other again through reincarnation.

From there on in, the story is a confusing mix of plot angles and choppy phrasing. I get the gist- Emma (the reincarnated Carol) finds herself in a loveless marriage to a dishonest, manipulative politician. Through a series of seemingly coincidental events, she falls in love with James, a quiet, earnest antique dealer. It comes as no surprise that he is actually her former-life love, Ted.

What really got to me were these random plot points- Emma's jerk of a husband becomes abusive out of the blue. She has this crazy, alcoholic, bitchy best friend who seems like the same sort of person Emma loathes. At one point James discovers an old gold brooch and a photo of Carol/Emma wearing it on her (first) wedding day, and seems to get the connection...but instead of this being a major turning point in the story, it is glossed over and never fully explained. Emma herself has a personality that goes where the wind blows...desperate for the love of the ass she married, strong and determined, disgusted with herself for loving a man who is not her husband, snarky and catty.

I found this book to be boring, lacking in fully thought-out scenes, and grammatically excrutiating. Recommended for no one!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review: Dead is the New Black

Dead Is the New BlackDead Is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lauren is a fashionista turned amature sleuth. As a patternmaker in New York City's garment district, she gives us a close look at how high-end clothing is made, from cutting on the bias to picking the right thread to sew on a button. Think along the lines of "The Devil Wears Prada" or "Project Runway".

The story begins about a week before a major fashion show. Her whole office is in a whirl preparing. Hardworking Lauren comes into work on a weekend, only to find her boss (the dashing gay man she's crushing on) standing over the dead body of his financial backer. Talk about a monkey wrench!

The list of potential perps gets a little confusing, as the number of minor characters is long. A few side trips into Lauren's relationship with her sister, a beat-down by pseudo-mobsters, and a kiss from her long-time pal Stu add to the confusion.

As Lauren and her sister chase down one lead after another, she gets closer to the surprising truth, and danger.

This was a cute story, and I liked the fashion industry backdrop. However, the plot lines were too complex for such a simple idea, and the various characters/motives were too plentiful to really make sense.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Then and Now

What a difference a year makes!


Last year about this time, I was sick. Really, really sick. Dizzy and in pain, on tons of steroids, unable to work. Felt terrible, looked terrible. Back then, I wrote about the Face of Prednisone, about how cruel life-saving drugs can be. I was on the medication from about May 2011 to April 2012. Here's what I looked like in November of last year:
 
Since I went back to work in December, I have been working hard to lose the steroid weight and get in shape. After losing about 20 pounds on my own, I got serious and joined Weight Watchers Online. I know it's not for everyone, but it has worked for me in the past, so I jumped on a sale they ran at the end of April. So far, 51 pounds gone! Here's me, this past weekend:



I am a work in progress. I still have a lot of weight to lose. Next up is adding regular exercise into my life. But I am feeling stronger and healthier every day. I can carry a load of laundry up the stairs without pain- I can take a walk at the park without being dizzy- I can drive myself to work- that's such a great feeling!

What a difference a year makes.

This post was inspired by The Bug's post about her own then/now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Review: These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

These GirlsThese Girls by Sarah Pekkanen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These girls- namely Renee, Cate and Abby- are all young women who have come to New York City and are struggling to make it. And these girls have some problems with a capital P!! Dropped out of college after an affair with a professor, diet pill abuse, the nanny who sleeps with the married father of her charge...can they have any more drama?

Despite the drama, you still end up rooting for them (after you roll your eyes at some of the stupidity). You get a real sense of their personalities and how they navigate relationships. And NO ONE ends up with the guy. That's refreshing.

While it wasn't a super-exciting page turner, it was a nice look at female insecurities, work conflicts, and friendship.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny

The Book of Madness and CuresThe Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Set the in late 16th century, our protagonist and female doctor Gabriella goes of in search of her errant father. She travels with two longtime servants across Europe and northern Africa. Then NOTHING HAPPENS.

Danger and suspicion of women are hinted at, but are never really close enough to threaten. The prose is so even-tempered, that even when the good Dottor almost drowns in a lake, I didn't realize it until they found her dead horse, who did drown.

The most interesting part of this book was the descriptions of some incredible diseases (mostly mental or emotional in nature) and their cures that were described. Imagine contracting "Porphyria: An Abborrhence of Light that Causes One to Suffer Cankers and Grow the Fur of a Beast"...no known cure.

These little gems were bright spots in an otherwise melancholy and tepid read.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my favorite King novel, but I'm still kinda surprised I had never picked this one up. My main motivation was reading about Pere Callahan in the Dark Tower series...he figured in the latter half of this book pretty heavily.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's forward, as I often do. I love hearing SK describe his childhood, the books he read growing up, and a book's backstory- why or how it came to be written.

So, the story itself-- vampires. Not much else to say. King sticks close to common vampire lore and kills off some likeable and sympathetic Not quite as creepy as I had imagined, but still a good read.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel by Christopher Tilghman

The Right-Hand Shore: A NovelThe Right-Hand Shore: A Novel by Christopher Tilghman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this book took a few chapters to get in to, by the middle, everything seemed so real and NOW that I forgot it was told as a series of flashbacks!

Beautifully told, history (late 1800's-early 1900's), race relations and economics are viewed through the lens of the Mason family in the northeast United States. There are too many memorable characters to name, both good and bad. There's enough heartache, triumph and drama to make you beleive the Masons are a real family, and live on a real farm.

My favorite aspect of the book concerns a forbidden love between a young white man and his childhood friend, who happens to be a black woman. Although many stories are told in this novel, this one stands out to me. The two involved families try in vain to separate the couple, knowing they have nothing but pain ahead of them. The young people even try themselves to forget their love and move on. In the end, they cannot stay away from each other, and a daring plan is devised that offers some hope.

At its core, this book centers on race division and its effect on the inhabitants, both white and black, of the Mason Retreat. Take time to enjoy this book, the conclusion is well worth it!

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg

The Memory of You The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Even though overall I enjoyed this book, I had to rate it as just "OK" because so much of it was unbelievable. This book was recommended for fans of The Lucky One (Nicholas Sparks), so that's why I picked it up for my Kindle. They are both about war veterans searching for healing and love, but that's really the only similarity.

Matt is a Vietnam vet who has lost his memory of everything in his life prior to becoming a POW- his name, his childhood, his wife. When his identity is finally discovered, he tracks down his wife, Abby, to make sure she is happy. He intends on letting her live her life as it has become, and go about his merry way. So far, so good. Sad, but believable.

Upon seeing her with their son and a new man, Matt's resolve falters. He keeps his identity a secret, calling himself Mac, and convinces Abby to let him move in as a handy man. This is where you really have to suspend belief... a single mother lets a total stranger move in, develop a close relationship with her son, and talk her out of marrying her fiance. Wow.

I will admit the passion and connection Matt and Abby rediscover is beautiful to witness, as is Matt's bonding with the son he never knew. The build-up to Abby realizing who this stranger really is ends with a disappoiting revelation- it just lacked the drama I thought was sure to happen. The characters themselves are likable-mostly. Abby's huge, trusting heart borders on stupidity, and Matt clings to his made-up name and motives just a little too long to be considered selfless.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Lovely (A Layout)

Once again finding older photos and finally getting them scrapped. Today's page features two of my beautiful nieces, and a hidden flap...


Supplies:
Paper- American Crafts, Bazzill
"lovely" card- Kenner Road
Rub ons- Doodle Bug Designs
butterflies (unknown)
Helmar Scrap Dots adhesive
ribbon (unknown)


Two smaller portraits hidden under a flap!

Love how Scrap Dots add just the right amount of dimension.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'll Run Away! (A Layout)

I ran across these pictures and a scribbled story about my oldest daughter (3 years ago), who threatened to run away from home. When I told her how much I would miss her if she did that, she patted my arm and said, "Mommy, you can run away with me".
Definitely a moment worth scrapping!


Supplies
Paper- My Mind's Eye
Creative Memories alpha stickers
Top Note Sizzix die
Tea Dye Distress Ink
Misc. buttons and thread




Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book review: In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel

In the Midnight RainIn the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly got sucked into this mystery/romance story set in Texas.

Ellie is a novelist, researching the dual mysteries of the disappearance of Mabel Beauvais, a blues singer, and the identity of her father, which was never revealed by her now-deceased mother.

The romantic relationship between Ellie and Blue develops with great tension and passion. That they don't immediately fall into bed is a great bonus, in my mind. Blue has his own demons to conquer, which throws roadblocks in front of Ellie's galloping heart.

The southern details ring true, as well as the references to small-town America in during the Vietnam War. If the secondary characters are a bit numerous, this tiny flaw is more than made up for by the richness of the core players.

By the end of the book, all questions are answered and everyone gets a happy ending. *Sigh of contentment*

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Larsson is as wordy as ever in the third and final installment in the Millenium series. Wordy, but certainly intertaining. Even though the title obviously refers to her, our Lisbeth Salander is conspicuously absent from most of the book. Understandable, since she was shot in the head and buried alive at the end of the second book!

Crack journalist Blomkvist, along with some new police-type friends, scurries to uncover the truth about Lisbeth's father, who is smack dab in the middle of a decades-old government cover-up.

Spy-like behavior abounds, complete with surveillance equipment, safe rooms, and a smuggled computer tablet. As usual, Blomkvist and anyone unfortunate enough to be near him is in almost constant danger. Good stuff.

The trilogy resolves satisfactorily, if not necessarily happily. Highly recommended, you won't be sorry you sat through book 2.

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Finally Scrapping!

Wow, it has been way too long since I've spent any quality time in my craft room. I remedied that yesterday and completed 7 pages! I was especially excited to start the dance album for my youngest daughter, so I'll share those pages today.

Spring 2011- Rehearsing for the recital finale, "Firework" by Katie Perry.
Supplies- Paper (My Mind's Eye, Reminisce, Prima, Creative Imaginations, Basic Grey); Martha Stewart punch; Top Note Sizzix die; Zapdots; misc. ribbon

Popped up the title panel

Had fun layering papers, punches, and ribbon!

"More Rehearsal Moments"
Supplies- Paper (My Mind's Eye, Creative Memories); My Mind's Eye brads and flag

"Dazzling Darlings" professional portraits.
Supplies- Creative Memories Dance paper pack, metallic silver cardstock; CM star punch; Stampin' Up stamp (Baroque Motifs); Staz On Black ink; Studio 18 rhinestones; Funky Brush Sizzlet alpha dies

I love how Staz On ink allows you to place your stamped images on multiple surface types!

The perfect amount of shine...


Thanks for stopping by today!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI (XVI, #1)XVI by Julia Karr
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. All I knew from the jacket was that in this version of the future Chicago, something terrible happens to girls when they turn 16. The book annoyed me from the first couple of pages with terms that didn't make immediate sense... vert, PAV, tier-two, FeLS, trannies. Seriously, some of these things weren't spelled out until well into the book.

Annoyance number 2 was the characters. Dull and sterotyped. Nina, the good-girl main character. Sal, her brave and mysterious boyfriend. Sandy, her sex and fashion-obsessed best friend. Wei, the smart and tough Asian, complete with martial arts skills.

My third annoyance: the plot. It was just bad, boring and predictable. Even the chase scenes and other dangerous moments were tampered with lackluster dialogue and character reactions.

The abrupt ending, with NOTHING resolved, begs a follow-up. Which there is, called Truth. The truth is, I won't be reading it.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This almost qualifies as historical fiction, if it weren't for the classic supernatural SK bent. Published in 2011, this may be my favorite recent work from King.

Our protagonist Jake (King sure likes that name, huh?) is a humble schoolteacher who finds himself on a time-traveling quest to thwart the assassination of John Kennedy. Jake orginallly believes that each time he goes back to his "now", everything he changed during his time travel is reset- wiped out. As he becomes more familiar with the dubious rules of his "rabbit hole", he finds out this is not the case. The expected moral delimma about messing with the space-time continuum unfolds, and Jake is faced with the potential consequences of saving the woman he loves.

This book has the wonderful, spine-tingling weirdness of some of my other favorite King stories, like Duma Key and Rose Madder...characters you come to love...a bittersweet ending. SK fans and conspiracy theory nuts alike will enjoy this jaunt into the late 1950's and early 60's.

All that being said, there are some very passionate and eloquent reviews by fellow Goodreads members- I urge you to check them out!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

The WitnessThe Witness by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit this is one of my favorite Nora Roberts books. It's more thriller than romance and kept me reading all day! This book is cleverly divided into three sections:

1. Liz, in which we meet the stifled 16 year old uber-smart girl who gets wrapped up in a Mafia crime.
2. Abigail, the paranoid woman-on-the-run Liz becomes.
3. Elizabeth, who bravely attempts to love and put a rest to her demons and fear.

The book is filled with rich characters, a great little community, believable family dynamics, and some heart-pounding moments. Definitely recommended for Roberts fans, as well as those who just like an entertaining thriller/romance. That being said, it's still a fairly "fluffy" NR read, so I can't give it 5 stars.



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Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being the sixth and next-to-last book in the Dark Tower series, I can only hope that some of the more mundane scenes in this comparativly short installment are simply a set-up for the final novel.

Song of Susannah has its good moments- Eddie and Roland's shoot-out when they cross over the Unfound Door, Jake's use of his strengthening Sight, and some of the Mia/Susannah internal conversations- but nothing great. Overall, the struggle between Mia and Susannah becomes strung-out and boring, without the benefit of any sort of conclusion about the "chap". At least not in this novel.

The insertion of King himself into the story is a point of contention for many fans- you either love it or hate it. I was mildly interested in the references to such an eventuality in previous books in the series, but when he was in the story as a fairly important plot event, I was disappointed. The Coda at the end of the book sorta makes up for it- it contains pages from King's journal that further explain his process emotions concerning the series' development.

As I still have to finish the series, I can't tell you if skipping this book will leave you lost or not. In my opinion, certainly the weakest of the Dark Tower books.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book Review: Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph

Jackpot!Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found the premise of this book to be fairly interesting (otherwise I wouldn't have picked it up)- a Jewish mother wants nothing more than to become a Jewish grandmother, but her single, selfish son and daughter aren't cooperating. Then, she wins the lottery and makes them an offer they can't refuse...or can they?

If either of her children can produce an offspring over the next year, they get 8 million dollars.

The rush to find baby-making partners ensues.

At this point, the plot becomes overwhelmingly and disappointingly predictable. You can probably guess, so I'll just go ahead a tell you- the quest for a willing sex partner leads to true love for both. Said partners find out about the jackpot agreement, everyone gets dumped, then everyone finds forgiveness and they live happily ever after.

There are some humorous moments and likeable characters that make this a decent read, despite the lack of true surprises. Quick and easy, not a bad summer choice.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Three Days to Die by John Avery

Three Days to DieThree Days to Die by John Avery
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is marketed as a thriller- young boy stumbles upon criminal activity and is kidnapped. They pursuade/force him into crime as well. A few other mildly interesting things happen along the way, but nothing I would rate as "thrilling". If not for the occassional swear word, I would think this was a YA novel.

The characters are sketches at best and react to situations without depth, and with rsther inconguous emotions. For example, while Aaron us being held prisoner, his captors decide to teach him to shoot a rifle. Aaron's reaction is to be disappointed that he's not a great shot. Really? He's not terrified, angry he's being forced to do this, or even nervous? A lot of scenes just don't ring true.

To top it off, the author seems to attempt to make up for the thin plot and immature dialogue by putting in a lot of gratuitous description of non-consequential things- things like a diner and a woman's outfit. Honestly, I skimmed these sections.

I hate to write negative reviews, but don't waste your time. I only finished it because a) it was a free download on my Kindle, and b) I am compulsive like that.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Book review: Jaden Baker by Courtney Kirchoff

Jaden BakerJaden Baker by Courtney Kirchoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was terrifying and heart-wrenching. We meet Jaden Baker when he is a nine year old foster child, scared yet hopeful about his new family. We quickly learn he is not an average child, possessing telekenetic powers that not even he understands. Unfortunately, someone else does.

Jaden is kidnapped, studied and tortured for six years- all described with heart-pounding detail. His courage and will to survive practically leap off the pages. As a young adult he escapes and lives in anonimity...until an ironic love interest and freak occurence have Jaden and his soulmate clutched in far more danger than he ever was as a child.

It's hard to write a review of this book because I want to give so much away! Too good to put down...the evil present in the antagonist and "research" company that imprisions Jaden is astonishing yet believable...Jaden's pain and determination coexist so beautifully...the choice for his love interest would seem too contrived if the reader hadn't already suspended belief about everything else. In the end, you not only want Jaden to survive, you want him to have some peace and happiness.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: The Messenger's Handbook by Pamela DuMond

The Messenger's HandbookThe Messenger's Handbook by Pamela DuMond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise of this book was decent- teenage outsider Madeline's mother disappeared when she was young. At 16, another mystery rocks her life when she time travels to the late 1600's. There she learns she is a "Messenger", one who can inhabit various places and times to alter history or save lives. As Madeline struggles to adapt to life during the dawn of America, she learns about traveling, love, and her lost mother. With the help of Angeni, a magical mentor, and Samuel, her Native American soul mate, she becomes strong and courageous enough to return home to present-day Chicago. Just when she finds she can let go of the love she found 300+ years in the past, she encounters both Samuel and Malachi, the man who hunts her across the ages.

It was just ok for a few reasons. I found the narrative and dialogue to be a bit choppy in places, which was fine when the protagonist was time traveling and ended up in a new time and location, but otherwise distracting. Also (and this may have just been the Kindle edition I was reading), there seemed to be a few grammar and punctuation errors, such as substituting then for than.

Overall, this young adult fantasy story was quick and absorbing, if you can get past the technical stuff.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review: Preservation by Rachael Wade

PreservationPreservation by Rachael Wade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ryan is a failed writer, college professor, and a man with a broken heart. Kate is his talented writing student with a painful past of her own. The immediate chemistry between them leads to passion as well as fear for both of them. As they struggle to put their demons to rest their relationship endures significant highs and lows.

I found the two main characters to be interesting, but they could have been SO much more. This brief novel did not do justice to the scars they were purported to have. Given that these scars were the reason their relationship was so volatile, they should have been explored more deeply.
The minor characters in this book provide humor and a sense of continuity, particularly Kate's two male best friends.

The plot was a little choppy for me, and the Seattle setting was of little import to the story. Overall, just an OK book. However, it was a quick read and a free download for my Kindle, so I can't consider it a waste of time or money.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky OneThe Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No, I haven't seen the movie yet. Yes, I probably will. The characters in this book are actually well developed and their story is engaging. Sparks tells the tale of Logan (a marine who served in Iraq), Elizabeth (a single mom), her son Ben, her Nana, and her ex-husband Keith. I can't forget to mention my favorite character, Zeus, four-legged companion to Logan.

In many ways it is a typical love story, yet the pain Logan goes through as a result of his service to the USA gives it such a current and poignant flavor. I appreciated the fact that this heroic character was written with flaws as well.

Keith, the ex and county deputy, was equally well-written. He is meant to be a total creep, and I totally felt that throughout the book. Ick!

What I loved most was that as the climax of the story unfolds, Sparks keeps you guessing until the very last page. You know something terrible is coming, but to whom? Surely not Elizabeth's 10 year old son? Elizabeth herself? One of the two men in her life? The ending is suspenseful and gratifying!

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: Lonetree Ranchers (Colt) by Kathie Denosky

Nelson's Brand: Nelson's Brand\Lonetree Ranchers: Colt (Bestselling Author Collection)Nelson's Brand: Nelson's Brand\Lonetree Ranchers: Colt by Diana Palmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second story in this book, Colt, (written by Kathie Denosky) was by far my favorite. I'm a sucker for daddies and their little girls- every time.

Kaylee's brother and best friend of Colt died tragically in a rodeo accident. Seeking to outrun their grief, the two find comfort for a night in each other's arms. Shaken by the passion he feels, Colt bolts from Kaylee's life. He unknowingly leaves her pregnant and broken-hearted.

Two years later, their paths cross again. Colt knows immediately that he is the father of Kaylee's little girl. In an attempt to form a relationship with his daughter, he moves both of them to his ranch.

It's not hard to imagine what happens next... trust and respect build between the two as they bond over their child. Trust leads to forgiveness over past hurts, and forgiveness leads to (ahem) certain activities in bathtubs and in front of the fireplace.

Yeah, it gets pretty steamy.

The story is short and fluffy, heartwarming and passionate at the same time.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Project 365: Week 15

Finally back on the bandwagon- I've been in a funk and haven't felt like doing much of anything lately, including reading and taking photos! But now that I've made it through a whole week of P365, I hope to get a little more creative this week!

Sunday- Easter egg hunt at my grandma's. The kids had a great time, and the woods behind her house are lovely this time of year.

Monday- Passed by some repair work on the City Hall tower in Lebanon. NOT something I would like to do!

Tuesday- Cleared off the old coffee table so we could put up the new one. Just waiting on our sofa, and the living room redo is done!

wednesday- Morgan has found a new favorite reading spot- the new storage cubes under the picture window.

Thursday- Heading in to a doctor appointment. I love the style of this building- very Frank Lloyd Wright.

Friday- Nice day for some yard work...always something to be done!

Saturday- 9th birthday party for our friend Jackson. It was held at the Skate Castle in Loveland. Cool place!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Review: Nelson's Brand by Diana Palmer

Nelson's Brand (Silhouette Desire, #618)Nelson's Brand by Diana Palmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As far as romance novels go, this one is pretty good, and steamy! Both halves of our couple (Gene and Allison) have tragedy and heartache in their past. Gene received a troubling surprise about his parentage, and Allison survived life-threatening violence in South America. Their mutual attraction provided comfort and healing for both.

The Wyoming landscape and history add a nice dimension to an otherwise predictable story. Gene is a womanizing rancher, and Allison is a virginal missionary- the contrast makes them an unlikely pair, and also characterizes most books of this sort.

My biggest disappointment with Nelson's Brand is that Allison's back story is not very developed. She experienced true pain and loss, which could have really fed her character if delved into more deeply.

In my opinion, worth the time if you enjoy love stories with lots of sex!

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Virtual Scrap Night Begins!

"Take the Leap" into scrapbooking with an all-weekend virtual crop! I had fun hosting the first challenge over at SplitCoast Stampers. The challenge was to take a sketch and add one more element to your layout. I  used this sketch:

And added one more vertical stripe on the left hand side:


This page documents a little of the hospital hubs stayed in following his work accident in 2010. Miami Valley Hospital, or "the Valley", took great care of him!
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