November 28, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Unwrapping Christmas

Four hodgepodges til Christmas in case you were wondering. {Yikes! Where has the time gone?}

1.  With that being said I think I need to dive right in to some Christmas related questions, don't you? Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow?  What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?

I prefer gift wrap with a bow, but I hardly ever have a box to put the gift in so I usually just use a gift bag. And if I'm taking the gift somewhere, a bag is much easier to carry. But gift wrap is so much fun to tear open! :) As for right this very minute, there is exactly one gift wrapped and that's only because Barnes and Noble offered free gift wrapping last Saturday. Otherwise I would have no gifts wrapped at all.

2.  What is one item on your Christmas list this year?

I'm boring. I asked for gift cards to Amazon. I love, love, love my Kindle and I have quite a few books I would like to buy and download. :)

3.  What makes a home?

The people that live there and how they make you feel when you visit. It doesn't matter if the house is clean or messy, or if the yard is gorgeous or needs work, or if the people are wealthy or poor. For me, it all comes down to how friendly and welcoming the people are that live there. I will completely forget my surroundings if we're in a great conversation or playing a game or just simply having a wonderful time. Does that make sense? If I can come over to your house and make myself comfortable on your couch and we can chat a while about anything and everything,and you make it clear that I'm welcome back again, that's the kind of home I like to visit. That's the kind of home I hope I have. Where you feel comfortable as soon as you enter the door.

4.  Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday on Hodgepodge Day-November 28th. Are you a fan of the Motown sound?  If so, who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song? Here's a list in case you're stuck.

I looked at that list and had never heard any song on it. So I have no idea if I'd like it or not.

5.  Red or green-which one is more prevalent in your closet?

Red. (I actually had to go look in my closet and count how many of each I have. :)

6.  True or false-bacon makes it better? If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?

FALSE FALSE FALSE!!!!  I freely admit right up front that I am NOT a fan of bacon. Never have been. If bacon is in a dish (like salad) and easy to pick out, I will absolutely pick it out. If it's mixed in a casserole or something with lots of other flavors, I will eat it then as the other flavors usually help drown it out. But I would prefer no bacon in anything I'm eating. And actually most people think I'm very peculiar when they find that out. I love ham and pork, but can't stand bacon. Go figure. Mostly it's that smoky bacony flavor. Yuck. It's okay, I know I'm weird. :)

7.  Share a favorite holiday memory.

One of my older brothers and I were always the first ones up on Christmas morning. And we were always incredibly impatient for everyone else to come out. It was the rule that absolutely no gifts could be opened until everyone was out in the living room. And we were not allowed to go wake anybody up either. Everyone had to come out of their own accord, when they were ready. Man that was torture! :D Every other morning of the year, I had trouble waking up, but not Christmas morning! Christmas Eve I could barely make myself go to sleep and in the morning I was awake bright and early with no trouble at all. My eyes would pop open and I'd jump out of bed! I'd race out and see if anybody was up yet and plop down and wait. Looking back at Christmas' past, that's what I remember most. Trent and I curled up in the chairs by the fireplace, where the gifts were all stacked, talking and wondering when everyone else would wake up. We'd shake a few boxes and count the gifts and stare at our stockings. I'm sure it wasn't that long until most everyone else was up and about, but to us it felt like hours and hours. I can't remember a lot of the gifts I received, but I do remember those moments with just Trent and I and the early morning quiet.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I love the Christmas season! I usually fly home to visit my family sometime. Since I have to purchase a plane ticket, I don't bring a lot of gifts. I tell them that my gift for Christmas is them getting to see ME!  :D I'm extra thrilled this year, since I get to be at the big family Christmas on my dad's side, with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. I love my family! Since I live so far away, I'm not always able to schedule my trips back to be able to go to this family Christmas. So it will be great seeing everyone. When you don't see people for a year or two, kids grow up and I don't recognize them anymore. Sometimes I can't even remember their names! I was actually looking at a family photo of some of my cousins on Facebook today, and I couldn't remember a couple of their kids names. I should totally know them! But my mind drew a complete blank. Guess that's what happens as you get older and time passes, right? (Since being in your 30s is "old" and all. ;) Anyway all this babble to basically say that I'm really looking forward to going home for Christmas and seeing everybody. :) I hope your Christmas season is sparkly and fun and filled with joy!

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

November 27, 2012

Signed Books Are Awesome!

So I timed my last post just right! I was planning on finishing Til Grits Do Us Part this evening, and lo and behold I received the first two books in the mail today! Woohoo! Signed by the author and everything! :) I know I've mentioned quite a few times that Jennifer Rogers Spinola and I have been chatting on Facebook and email. So I asked about getting the first two books (Southern Fried Sushi and Like Sweet Potato Pie) from her since I didn't have them on my shelf yet. Also requesting that if she sent them to me, I'd really like it if she'd sign them. She agreed! Actually, she had let me know a couple weeks ago that she was getting ready to mail them out, but I had forgotten. (Holidays can be a little distracting you know.) So I was not expecting them today at all. But what an awesome surprise! And it definitely made my Monday blues a whole lot happier. I'm not especially fond of Monday's anyway. But a Monday after a four day weekend is extra yucky. So TWO signed books made a significant difference in my opinion of this Monday! Ha! :)

I figured all of you lovely blog readers would just love to hear about it and see pics (right?), so here you go.

Y'all probably aren't nearly as excited as I. But I just had to share anyway! :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

Review: Til Grits Do Us Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

'Til Grits Do Us Part (Southern Fried Sushi #3)
'Til Grits Do Us Part (Southern Fried Sushi)

About the Book:

Engaged to the last man she'd ever thought possible, Shiloh Jacobs is making a go of small-town life in rural Staunton, Virginia-writing again, planning a wedding, and about to sell the house that will make her dreams come true.

But instead of pre-wedded bliss, Shiloh finds herself virtually alone in Redneckville with no family to help her, no money, and no time to plan a wedding. Especially a wedding to a man as different as Adam Carter. While covering an unsolved news case about a missing woman, things go from bad to worse for Shiloh-starting with mysterious rose bouquets and disturbing letters that link to her mother's past. The more Shiloh tries to put her mother's troubled history behind her, the more tangled in the case-and in the stalkers sights-Shiloh becomes.

Forced to face her past secrets while on the run from a madman, can Shiloh identify the stalker before he strikes again? And as one dream after another falls flat, can she and Adam put aside their differences before it's too late?

My thoughts:

It was a wonderful treat to get back to the hills of Virginia once again! Shiloh's new life is still requiring adjustment. Even after a year spent in the south, there is still much about these southern people and their food and habits that she has to learn. (While she may try (and sometimes enjoy) some southern foods now, she is still very fond of sushi.) Starting off with a bang, as Shiloh's friends try to introduce her to cow-tipping (which, needless to say, doesn't go so well), the pace rarely slows down! Poor Shiloh is like a magnet for crazy weirdos! And 'weirdo' is an understatement regarding the guy after her this time. Thank goodness for friends like Tim and Becky and of course Adam, her fiance. They help keep her sane and remind her where to keep her focus and Who is in control. But goodness, she does have a time of it! One of the things that make this entire series so fun is the relationships. That's a good part of Shiloh's journey from the first book until this one. First her relationship with her mother, and subsequently her relationships with her father and half-sister; and then her relationships with her new friends in Staunton. Really it's her new family in Staunton; Adam, Faye, Becky, Tim, Jerry and all the rest. These people have adopted her into their lives and they aren't letting her go. Which Shiloh is still not completely used to, so it's a little struggle to go from few real relationships in her life to lots and lots of people who care about her. Just a 'little' struggle mind you, she truly loves having these people in her life now.

And of course there's Kyoko, her last connection to her old life in Japan. I absolutely love Shiloh and Kyoko's friendship! They are so completely different, yet have a love and care for one another even while not understanding or agreeing with each others decisions all the time. Ms. Spinola did a great job in depicting their relationship. Just like friendships are in real life, where we tease and frustrate each other yet those are the ones we can call at the drop of a hat and know they'll answer immediately. These two American girls meet in Japan and become friends. Friends that cheer each other up and are just there for one another, no matter the distance in miles between them now. Kyoko is a connection to Japan, which Shiloh misses terribly, yet she is also a sounding board and a listening ear. Someone Shiloh can call any time night or day, and know she'll listen. Kyoko may give Shiloh a hard time about her new "redneck" ways (she may also send her some doozies as "care packages" to try to keep Shiloh from getting too southernized) and she may not understand Shiloh's new commitment to Christ either, but she helps plan the wedding as much as she can, she calls often and lets Shiloh know how much she cares, and is just overall an awesome friend. Kyoko is a wonderful character. (Although if I met her in real life, I imagine she'd take some getting used to! :D)

The other major relationship is, of course, Adam. They haven't known each other all that long, so they still have things to learn about one another. And some of them require some thought and communication. Luckily their communication skills have gotten better. They talk and try to understand each other. Alas they are human, so there's plenty of frustration and anger and hurt that has to get ironed out also. But that's what any relationship takes, communication and forgiveness and lots and lots of love. This is a fabulous series! A wonderful peek into life in the south where people are friendly and smiles and hugs are plentiful. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in rural Virginia and wouldn't mind if there were more stories Ms. Spinola would grace us with. (You know Tim and Becky are cooking up another "fun" initiation for Shiloh just so they can get another picture to share with everyone via text message! :) Read it, I'm certain you won't be disappointed!

A favorite passage:
"Becky fell unusually quiet as she smoothed Macy's overalls that had scrunched under her legs. A tender gesture probably nobody else had noticed. "I don't want to say this the wrong way, Shah-loh, but we're all gonna die."
"Of course we are." A drop of water fell from the end of the snapdragon stem. "But I prefer not to kill my flowers before their time."
"Well, cut er not cut, we're all goin'." Becky spoke so soberly that I turned my eyes to her. "Ain't no stoppin' it. You know that."
"Sure I do, but isn't it a waste? All that beautiful bloom for what-an hour?"
"Mebbe in some ways, but..." She gathered a handful of roses and freesia, delicately perfumed, and pressed them in my hands. "Ya gotta remember though-this was their purpose all along. And they did it to their fullest. It's their gift."
I felt strangely moved, standing there with shoppers laughing in the background. And me looking down at those beautiful doomed flowers in my hands, their glowing colors trembling with drops.
"But it's such a waste, Becky!"
"Or a sacrifice. Depends on how ya look at it. They lived and bloomed, jest like they were made to do. And when it was time to go, they gracefully said yes."
She ran her hands over the petals, which gleamed like bits of satin. "We're seein' their last magnificent moments and enjoyin' 'em. If you was a flower, wouldn't that make ya happy to know you'd done what you was born ta do? Even if ya didn't get to do it very long?"

*I was offered this book from the author and the publisher, Barbour Publishing, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

November 25, 2012

Nonsensical Holiday Weekend Blatherings

{Isn't that the coolest tree? I've seen several different versions of a book Christmas tree around Facebook and Pinterest and other blogs and I would dearly love to try it one day myself. Why not this year you ask? Because I don't have anywhere I could put it. And I certainly don't want it in the middle of my floor where I have to walk around it all the time. So I'll just enjoy everyone's pictures of what they came up with.}

Goodbye Thanksgiving! And Merry Christmas! I was finishing up my evening tonight and had a sudden thought. "I haven't blathered on to all my two many blog readers for a while. I think I'm due! I know they all have been waiting with bated breath to read more of my nonsensical and lengthy thought processes. And I know they are just dying to find out how my four day weekend has been going." And you have, right?........right? Ah well, this is my blog and I can do what I want. So there! (But it would be great if somebody actually reads this. Pretty please?)

Anyway, I had an awesome Thanksgiving! I hope y'all did too. Since I don't live close to my immediate family, I got invited to some friends. Actually I got about four different invitations this year. I took the easy way out in deciding where to go and went with the first invite I got. But it ended early and I wasn't ready to just crash at home, so I invited myself over to the third place that had invited me originally. (I know, I know, it's bad manners to invite yourself. But they invited me first! So it's okay! That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

All in all, it was a very awesome day. I gorged on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie and played a few rounds of Colorku and Dominion. Incidentally, I'm not really a game player. What I mean is, sometimes I'm in the mood for a game and sometimes not. Sometimes I'd just much rather watch. (I'm a great cheerleader on the sidelines! :) But I did enjoy these. Now Dominion is one of those strategy type games that only smart people can play and win. I am not a strategist. At all. (I mean, I lose at Solitaire. All the time!) So I went into it pretty much planning that I'd totally lose, but there weren't many people to play and I figured 'hey, it might be fun'. It was fun actually. I didn't win, but surprisingly didn't do half bad either. (Probably just beginners luck.) But the one I really enjoyed was Colorku! If you haven't heard of it, it's just like Sodoku but with colors. And it's set up on a big board. So you can have several players all working together to figure it out. Now that's much more my style. Everyone working together instead of everyone out for themselves. (Mostly because I'm horrible at strategy and competitive games. Seriously. Horrible and awful and terrible and you get the picture.) This game I could actually figure out and help find the spots where the orange went or the yellow, and I picked the right spots too! It was fun. (I mentioned it to mom and dad and maybe I'll get it for Christmas. I'm always willing to add a game to my collection when I play and actually enjoy myself.) So a fabulous day it was indeed.

(This is what Colorku looks like.)

Friday I did not go shopping. More power to all those who did. I hope you got lots of great deals and enjoyed yourselves. I very much enjoyed sleeping in and being lazy. I did go out but it was to help some friends with a project at their office, and then I was home again to work on my Christmas cards/poem. Which I finished! And now they're all mailed out! Woohoo!!!! :)

I did do some shopping on Saturday, but I didn't leave the house until 11 and only went to one department store. Didn't go anywhere near the mall. Ugh. Have you figured out yet that I don't much like crowds? About the only shopping where crowds don't bother me is in a bookstore. And that's because I usually am reading the first chapter or two or three (or you know, the whole book, I tend to spend hours in bookstores), and am engrossed enough that I don't notice the crowds. Lucky for me I don't usually have many gifts to get, so I don't have to brave the crowds that often during the Christmas season.

But I love the Christmas season in general! Minus the crazy shoppers, I love the Christmas music and the whole feeling of the season. It just makes me happy. :)

Thinking about Christmas, I have to admit to you that I volunteered to do something either really brave or really stupid this year. I'm quite worried about it actually. I'm helping out at a Christmas pageant of sorts. I have to memorize lines and everything. And yes, that memorization is what's got me worried. I'm not certain I can remember them all. And I've only got a few days left before the first night! I don't like speaking in front of people, and have no idea why on earth I agreed to do it. But my 'yes' was spur of the moment and I'm one of those people who have a hard time saying 'no'. My original thought was that I'm not overly busy this year, and what a great way to kick off the season. Now I'm incredibly nervous and just really hoping that once the first night is over, I'll feel a lot better about the rest of the nights. I have another rehearsal this Sunday evening and then Thursday is the beginning. So wish me luck, pray for me, think about me, make a Christmas wish for me. I could use all the help I can get! Thanks guys! :)  

On a happy note, I did spend some time with a very dear friend this afternoon. She lives out of state and her and her husband just adopted a baby girl this summer. I hadn't met the newest little addition yet, so I had a wonderful afternoon of cuddles and smiles and giggles. Babies are so fun. Plus it was awesome to chat and catch up again. This would be a sad world without friends. A very, very sad world. :)

Somehow in all the craziness of eating and game-playing and card mailing and shopping and baby-cuddling, I didn't get a lot of reading done this weekend. Maybe that will change Sunday. Here's hoping. I'm also hoping that y'all have had an awesome weekend yourself. And that your Christmas season is off to a good start!

If you're still reading, thanks for hanging with me! You definitely deserve some cookies. Happy reading this week. :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

November 21, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

{It's well into the day on Wednesday before I could get this posted. Colds and holiday's make life busy. But I decided to post anyway. Hope you enjoy!}

1. Turkey-love it or leave it?  White meat or dark?  What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

Leftovers are always good in my opinion! I appreciate being able to eat more than one meal for the money I spent on it. Of course I've never actually bought a whole turkey myself, but you get what I'm saying, right? :) I'll eat both white and dark meat, I'm not really particular. And my favorite thing to make with turkey is a good turkey sandwich. Not very original, but it's way better than that sliced stuff I usually buy from the grocery. Add in some leftover cranberry something-or-other and you have a delicious sandwich!

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain?

Oh boy. Do I have to choose? Neither one sounds pleasant. Although if I was allowed to go my own pace (definitely not a speedy person here), I'd probably pick climbing a mountain. At least there would be a beautiful view at the top! :)

3.  Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse?  Explain.

A little of both. I've "met" some pretty awesome people through social networking and I love that part! :) But the downside is that since I'm not the most social person anyway, getting online is much more tempting than having to go out somewhere and actually make conversation face to face. And going out and having a social life with people face to face is important for all of us. (That's my opinion anyway.)

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life?

Well, it's surely not easy to do! But I suppose the easiest way to answer this is to look back a year ago, when I had a car accident. My car was totaled and I went around 6 weeks without one until I could buy a new one. Plus I had some foot problems caused by the accident which were no fun at all. There were lots of days that were extra tough. One morning at work was especially hard, so I called a dear friend (who's more like a mom to me since I live far away from my real one) and asked to meet for lunch. She didn't have any words of wisdom, but just a listening ear and a hug or two and reminded me she was praying and that she loved me. I also had many other people offer to let me use their cars, to go grocery shopping for me, and lots of other things. I felt incredibly blessed and comforted! :) So the best answer to this question, is that I surround myself with friends and family that I know care for me as I care for them. Then when the tough times come, they help me through and remind me where to keep my focus. Likewise I hope I do the same for them in return! :)

5.  In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'.  Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight Thanksgiving night? Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?

I have been out on Black Friday before, but pretty much refuse to shop on that day anymore. I don't ever have anything I "have" to have that badly that makes me willing to fight the crowds. But I can understand if there is an appliance or something of that nature that is normally really expensive, and that day will be really cheap so you go out to get it specifically. I don't really have any problem with everyone else going out and about that day, just so long as I don't have to! (But I do kind of wish it wasn't the very next day after we just said thank you for what we do have.) So no, I won't be shopping this Friday. And I shop both in person and online. Depends on what it is I'm looking for.

6.  Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?

I have a long black cardigan sweater that I love. I received it for Christmas three or four years ago. Black seems to look good with just about anything, so I get to wear it often! :)

7.  What do you appreciate about your life today?

That I'm alive, that I have no illnesses other than a cold I'm fighting, that both my parents are still here and relatively healthy, that my mother is fighting on through her Parkinson's and we can talk on the phone often (and I get to go visit her at Christmas!), that I have awesome nieces and nephews, that I have a job when so many don't, that I have so many wonderful friends and family in my life, and......I can keep going and going and going but I've got to stop somewhere. I am incredibly blessed and extremely thankful to God for each of the blessings He's given me! :)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

November 16, 2012

Retro Friday Review: Wounded Healer by Donna Fleisher

{Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at anytime!}

Wounded HealerWounded Healer (Homeland Heroes, Book 1)

About the Book:

Surrounded by the oppressive sand, heat, and tension of Operation Desert Storm, soldiers Erin Grayson and Christina McIntyre shared a special bond. But when an ugly secret from Chris' past shattered their close friendship, they went their separate ways without even a goodbye. Four years have gone by since that day in the desert, but Chris has spent her entire life running from the past, hiding her deepest secrets from those who care for her most. And now tragedy has ripped apart her life. She sees no hope in tomorrow.It's a good day to die. . . .Overcoming her own anger and doubt, Erin rushes to Chris' Colorado cabin. When Chris' fear of God and Erin's faith in Him collide, they are involved in a different kind of war that only one of them can win. As Chris wrestles with grief, fear, and ghosts from the past, Erin fights to pull her from the brink of self-destruction. She will not lose Chris again.Chris' life is at stake . . . as well as her soul.

My Thoughts:

I remember when this one first came out. I saw it in the store and didn't think it looked like something I would enjoy. Oh how wrong I was! But I didn't find out how wrong until book number three came out, at which point I decided I'd better read the first two books. Yes, there are four books in this series and they are all fabulous! But this isn't about the series, it's about book one. And what a story it is! Chris has issues, lots and lots of issues. But somehow Erin, along with you the reader, looks past those issues and into the heart of Chris. Chris has a very tender heart (which makes her a sympathetic character and very likeable, even when she's stubborn), but it is buried beneath layer upon layer of hurt and fear and all kinds of emotions that refuse to go away. It takes persistence and love and never, ever giving up on Erin's part, for Chris to finally let her in a little. But only a little, mind you. I think what originally turned me off was that I thought this was going to be a story with war featuring prominently. And it is there, but ultimately this is a story of people. Flawed people who have been through so much, especially Chris, and yet find strength to get up and go on living even when they'd prefer to die. It takes an extremely strong person to do that. The thing is, this isn't a pleasant, happy, fluffy book. It does have it's lighthearted moments, but this is Chris and Erin's story, mainly Chris', and it's not an easy one to tell. Ms. Fleisher is a great writer, she mixes in the current happenings with flashbacks and memories from the past. Which is needed, because Chris' past shaped who she is presently. And her past is pretty ugly and has left some awful scars. 

These two women share this bond of surviving together during Operation Desert Storm. This bond goes deep, which is why Chris allows Erin into her cabin after Chris' boyfriend dies (not a spoiler, this happens in the first chapter). Chris desperately wants to be loved, but at the same time she is absolutely terrified of it. Erin has lots of love to give and refuses to not love Chris. Despite the fact that they haven't seen each other for five years at the beginning, Erin runs to Chris' side when she needs her. Steadfastly refusing to give up on Chris, even when her husband wants her to. Then convincing Chris to come home with her and trying to get her to tell her story so she can find peace. Because that's the other thing Chris needs desperately, peace. Real peace. Erin truly wants to help Chris through this, but Chris doesn't make it easy at all. So this is their journey, at least part of it. A story of friendship and honor and a love that will not be ignored. Just a small warning, reading this will make you want to find out what happens next. Thank goodness all the books have been out a while, huh? :)

A passage for you:
"Erin sat there for a full minute, trying to decide what to do. She wanted to stay but didn't want to push it. She should probably go and let Chris sleep. Still, she decided to ask. "Do you want me to stay a little while? Until you fall back asleep?"
Of Course. What did you expect? She hasn't changed. Erin slowly started to get up. She's all right. She'll sleep-She stopped and quickly turned around.
Chris had reached up and grabbed the back of Erin's sweatshirt. 
The pause was filled with tension. Erin waited, standing now, by the bed.
She sad back down.
Chris closed her eyes. And reached out again.
Erin took Chris's hand. And squeezed it."

 Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

November 14, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge {# 3 for me}

Well, with all the goings on across the US, what with the weather and all, last week's Hodgepodge didn't happen. But Joyce is back this week, and here we go! :)

1.  What rule of life should never be broken?

The old tried and true "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If only we would all treat each other with the grace and forgiveness and love that we like to be given. This world would be a better place if everyone truly loved each other. And I mean real love, not just the shallow kind that responds only if I get what I want or think I deserve.

2.  What's your favorite family recipe?

It's a toss up between my mom's chili soup and my grandmother's coffee cake. Kind of an odd combo I know, but both are soooo delicious! :) Mmmmm, now I'm making myself hungry!

3.  Is the media manipulative?

Absolutely yes! I think they report only what they think is important and ultimately whatever their agenda is. I would not call them objective or neutral in the least. (Granted that's a generality, so I'm sure there are some honest and true reporters out there, but they are few and far between.)

4. Hubs and I saw Skyfall last weekend...are you a fan of the Bond films? If so, who's your favorite Bond?

I have never seen a Bond film, never read a Bond book, don't know anything about him other than that he is extremely popular!

5. What is one thing you hope people never say about you?

That I'm rude or selfish or unfriendly. (I know that's three, but that's okay, right? :)

6.  What's a nearby tourist attraction you'd like to see, but haven't gotten around to visiting?

I don't know if you call a three or four hour drive away from you 'nearby', but I'm counting it. I would love to see McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park on the Big Sur coastline. All the pictures I see make it seem a beautiful place to visit, and someday I hope I can see it in person! :)

7.  Where's your favorite tree?

In my parents' front yard. Off one of the tall branches, there used to be a long rope with a swing at the bottom that I spent hours and hours on as a kid. The tree is on a small hillside so you could get great takeoff speed from someone standing at the top of the hill and giving you a great big push! It overlooks what used to be the garden, so when my portion of picking was done, I would go swing and beg dad to come give me a push (he was stronger than mom and could make me go higher which is very important criteria in a pusher-of-swings). Then when I was older and in choir at school, I would go out and practice my singing while swinging. (Thank goodness we had no close neighbors! :) Ah, such great memories of that tree. It looks a little worse for wear now, but it has been a faithful and steadfast friend. :)

That's it on the left.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I've already begun listening to Christmas music. Actually the biggest incentive for me to do this is the fact that I've been working on my annual Christmas poem. Instead of a picture or card or letter at Christmas, I write a poem and send it out. Of course, I like to get them sent off right after Thanksgiving, so that means working on it beforehand. And to be perfectly frank, I wrote a few lines clear back in July, but it needs to be finished. I'm pretty much there, but still a few last minute read-throughs will be happening.  Let me tell you, it is no small thing to send out something you've created! At least for me. I read it, and re-read it, and rewrite this or that repeatedly, it's a lot of hard work! So to get myself in the mode of thinking about Christmas, I whipped out my handy-dandy playlist of favorite Christmas songs. Plus now I'm getting in the mood for the Christmas season, which is a time of year that I love. So win-win. (On a side note, don't worry, I haven't been subjecting anyone else to this, I only listen to it in my car or my bedroom.) Anyway, I thought I'd share one of my favorites this year. It's about Christmas, but it's not a traditional song so I thought you might not mind so much. If you do mind, and don't want to listen, I will not be offended. (Actually I won't even know, so even better right?)

Toodle-loo kangaroos! I hope you're having an awesome week. :)

November 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays {Til Grits Do Us Part}

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

'Til Grits Do Us Part (Southern Fried Sushi #3)My Teasers:

"I screamed and swerved around a cow pie, hearing a furious snort not far behind me--and a loud pounding of hooves. Dust rose up from the grass, making us cough."

~page 17, Til Grits Do Us Part, by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Happy Tuesday to one and all! I hope you're having a fabulous day. I am having so much fun with this book; it's always good to get back to a series you love. (Plus the author is awesome! We've been chatting on Facebook, and having loads of fun talking about southern stuff.)  :) What are you reading this week?

 Toodle-loo kangaroos!

Review: Hazardous Duty by Christy Barritt

Hazardous Duty
Hazardous Duty (Christian mystery) (Squeaky Clean Mysteries)

About the Book:

Buying a gun to kill your wife: $3,000
Hiring Trauma Care to clean afterward: $1,500
Having that same cleaner uncover evidence that frames you: priceless

On her way to completing a degree in forensic science, Gabby St. Claire drops out of school and starts her own crime scene cleaning business. “Yeah, that’s me,” she says, “a crime scene cleaner. People waiting in line behind me who strike up conversations always regret it.”

When a routine cleaning job uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is a powerful foe . . . and willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet.

With the help of her new neighbor, Riley Thomas, a man whose life and faith fascinate her, Gabby plays the detective to make sure the right person is put behind bars. Can Riley help her before another murder occurs?

My Thoughts:

You know a book will be pretty good when the first sentence is: "Whistling a tune from Fiddler on the Roof, I used my tweezers to work a piece of Gloria Cunningham's skull out of the sky blue wall." Gabby is hilarious! She has an insatiable curiosity for mysteries and finding out what really happened. She's never afraid to venture into scary territory in order to find her answers either. And let me tell you, she ventures all kinds of places and meets all kinds of people. When the building she's cleaning is set on fire right after she finds some evidence the police missed and she barely makes it out in time, she's sure that something is amiss. Of course the police don't want to listen to someone who 'fancies herself Nancy Drew', so Gabby begins investigating on her own (always telling the police what she finds out of course...well, sometimes). From her only employee getting arrested to a pipe bomb left at her front door, Gabby has a lot on her plate in just a few days time. And certainly the crime scene cleaning must go on, a girls gotta eat, right? With a cast of characters for neighbors, such as Sierra the vegan animal rights' activist, Mrs. Morgan the mystery writer who hardly ever leaves her apartment, Bill newly divorced and mad at women when he's drunk, and new guy Riley who says he's between jobs, Gabby has plenty of mystery and mayhem at home also. One thing that helps make crime and being accused of it easier, is having good friends around who will believe in you no matter what.

I don't normally read mysteries, but this one caught my eye and I decided to try it. Gabby is so likeable and so funny that it made the tension of the mystery easier to bear. And it never ceased to amuse me that Gabby kept finding pieces of evidence that the police somehow overlooked. No wonder they were frustrated with her, she made me them look bad! A good mystery, great characters, and a bad-guys-lose ending, with just a smidgen of unanswered questions to make you want to read the next book. Because yes, this is a trilogy. But no huge cliff-hangers! So yay for that. :) Read it!

A couple passages for you:

I'd always had a penchant for mysteries, starting in seventh grade when I deduced that old lady Jones across the street had sneaked a dead body from her house under the guise of rolled carpet. I decided to keep an eye on her and quickly discovered she had a habit of cleaning in the nude. I concluded spying was better left to the professionals.

I could hear Harry Connick Jr. singing it, better yet, Julie Andrews. I closed my eyes as a melody that sounded vaguely reminiscent of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" came to mind.
"If you've been shot, if you've been stabbed, if blood on your walls says, "Someone's been bad." Trauma Care is the-e-ere for you."

And guess what? Right now, the ebook version is $2.99 on Amazon! That's a great deal! :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

November 8, 2012

Jennifer Rogers Spinola and Southern Stuff

Source: via Kara on Pinterest

Hello hello hello! I am here and blathering on as usual. Did y'all think I was gone for good? Did anyone even notice that I hadn't posted anything for about a week or so? Probably not, but anyway. Here I am! Yay! :) (I know you missed me even if you didn't notice I was gone. Right?) (The least you could do is humor me.)

Anyway, I shouldn't keep you for too long. Just wanted to share some links with you.

Firstly, I have been chatting with Jennifer Rogers Spinola about her new book that just came out; Til Grits Do Us Part. I have not read it yet, but am hoping to soon. Have you read her first two books Southern Fried Sushi (review) and Like Sweet Potato Pie (review)? If not, why not? They're fabulous!

I promised her that I would recommend everyone to read her stories, so here's my shout out! READ THEM! Seriously, they're funny and sweet and will give you a great insight to the wonderful southernisms that exist in places like Virginia or North Carolina. To help you along, here are links to amazon:

Jennifer and I have been amusing ourselves remembering all the weird things our parents would eat. For example, did you know there is such a thing as livermush? Really! Check out this site and see for yourself. Doesn't it just sound scrumptious? *sarcasm* I told her it sounded as bad as pon haus or scrapple (look it up here), which my parents love. There used to be only one store they could go and buy this stuff, and when I asked mom about it recently she stated that they couldn't get it anymore. She was pretty sad about it, but frankly it doesn't bother me at all. I'm pretty sure I tried it when I was younger (most likely my mother told me I "had" to), but I did not like it and have never been tempted to try it again. Anything described as "a semi-solid congealed loaf" holds no appeal to my taste buds whatsoever.

Southern Grits

Should I confess that I'm not really a fan of grits either? I know, I know. How can I call myself a southern girl and not like grits? Just terrible! But if you don't like something, there's not much you can do to change that fact. And really, I'm perfectly okay with it. :) There's one other main dish that I don't care for and that's country ham. Not regular ham, country ham. It is really, really, really, really, really salty. (That's not an exaggeration at all! Honest.) My entire family loves that stuff and I am the single oddball that refuses to eat it. But trust me when I say that it is incredibly salty.

I know it sounds like I don't like anything, but I do! I love fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, peanuts, Dr. Pepper. Lots of things! :)

So basically this was just a post to see if I could gross you out with what southerners eat. (At least some southerners, anyway.)  And please check out Jennifer's books. They really are a lot of fun. :)

Do you have a favorite dish that I might not have heard of? Tell me all about it!

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

(Btw, isn't my new friend cute? She was drawn by an artist I know at my request and I think she did an awesome job! I plan to keep her (the kangaroo) (and my artist friend too for that matter) around a while. Perhaps I should name her? Got any suggestions?)

November 7, 2012

Review: Unforgettable by Trish Perry

Unforgettable (When I Fall in Love)

About the Book:

Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone.But Josh Reegan tests even her good graces when they meet outside her Arlington, Virginia, dance studio in1951. He's attractive, yet his cynicism and cockiness are hard to tolerate. A journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers ballroom dancing a frivolous waste of time. Although Rachel's confident nature is a refreshing challenge, he wouldn't tangle with her if his newspaper hadn't assigned him to cover her studio's competition in New York City. Between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.

My Thoughts:

This is such a fun story! I read it last year and decided to visit it again to see if I'd like it as well the second time. I did! Rachel and Josh dance around one another (pun intended) as they try to figure out if the attraction they feel is worth pursuing. They certainly have a spark between them! But they've both been hurt before so they're a little hesitant. And the dancing! Granted I know absolutely nothing about ballroom dancing, but Ms. Perry seems to have done her homework regarding all the moves and proper stances and whatnot. Ballroom dancing seems quite fun actually. I've never tried it, but I might be able to do it if I had a patient teacher like Rachel seems to be. Rachel desperately wants her studio to do well and by hiring some new teachers and dancing in competition again, she is well on her way. Josh on the other hand makes a few mistakes and gets stuck in the Styles and Leisure section of his newspaper. Needless to say, he doesn't take this well and proceeds to use his frustration to anger Rachel, which he doesn't mean to do. But he can't seem to say the right thing, and keeps putting his foot in his mouth again and again and again. Rachel is much the same, reacting to Josh's comments badly and having to apologize herself. So they have quite a time of it initially, but there is no denying that they both feel that attraction. They certainly can't deny it to themselves! 

Josh also has to deal with trying to get sources to back him up on one of his articles, which will put him back in his editor's good graces. But of course, that's not a simple thing to do either. All of this takes place in the 1950s. A time when ballroom dancing was evidently quite popular. And trying to find sources for articles is a little more difficult with no internet to help. (I'm so used to being able to google something quick, that to imagine life without this ability is kind of hard now.) With dancing and research for stories and romance all tied in a bow, this is a sweet and cute way to spend a few hours of your time. It will make you smile! 

A fun passage:

"All right, I will. Why, then?"
He frowned. "Why then what?"
"Why did you call my studio a hundred times today?"
"Oh," he said. She brought a smile to his face. "I called to tell you that you're a shameless exaggerator."
"No, really. I never gave you a chance to tell me why you called."
He sighed. He thought that had been clear. He hated to say it again. "Just to tell you what a bad-mannered clod I was when we spoke last night."
She chuckled. "That's so cute."
"My humility?"
"No, that you thought I hadn't already figured that out on my own."

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading! :)


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