Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chili weather

I love chili. However, I don't have a lot of time for extra cooking. I have a quick, easy way to make chili at home.



First, I brown a pound of ground chicken in a large pot. You can of course use beef, but I prefer the chicken. After it's done, I add some homemade chili seasoning (recipe below).









It's supposed to be 2 Tbsp/lb, but I forgot & used 4 this time. Still delicious.





 Next are the beans.
 Add 4 cans of beans, with liquid. This time I used 2 each dark and light  kidney beans. Sometimes I use four different kinds just to mix things up. Also add a 6 oz can tomato paste.








Stir well, and let simmer for a bit to combine the flavors.













This is tasty with a little sour cream and cheddar cheese on top. This freezes well, also. I'm the only chili eater in our house so I divide the batch into individual containers and freeze to take to work for lunch.


BTW, the 4 tbsp of seasoning was a bit much...


And as promised, here is the chili seasoning blend I use:



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fantastic books for kids

Psst... Christmas is coming! I know how hard it is to decide on gifts to give the kids on your list. "Do they like this character? What if they already have this toy? Will their parents hate me if I give this to them?" You can't really go wrong with books, though. To help, here's a list of books that have been kid-approved in our family.

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic
This story, as the long title says, is a true story that happened in 2010. The little dog became stuck on a slab of ice in a river and floated out to sea, where he was rescued. The book is written for ages 3-5, and Sophie adores it. She loves to read about the little dog who is saved and finds a home.





Little Pup books
The collection is for Kindle, but all three books can be purchased separately as "real" books as well. Sophie loves these books! She especially loves "Why? Because I Love You!" It's such a sweet story of Grey Bear telling Little Pup why he has to do all the no-fun things like eat healthy foods, take baths, and dress warmly. It's also a great series because Grey Bear can be a grandparent, adoptive parent, traditional parent, or guardian. There is no specific term given other than love. Kids in all kinds of families can relate to these book, and I really love that.

Mr Popper's Penguins
This is a great book for ages 5-10. Sophie hasn't read this one yet, but Emma loved it. It was first published in 1938 and is a classic. Mr Popper is a house painter who dreams of traveling to the South Pole. Someone sends him a penguin, then he gets more, and more. The Popper family has quite the adventure.





The Hundred Dresses
Another classic, for ages 6-10, that Emma loved. Wanda is bullied by her classmates because she wears the same dress to school every day. She insists she has a hundred dresses, they just all look the same. Her classmates learn a hard lesson from their bullying.






Divergent series
I think most teenagers like this series - and the first book has already been made into a movie. To be honest, I haven't read these books but they come highly recommended by both teenagers and many parents I know. Teachers, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thankfulness

It's November, which likely means your Facebook feed is filled with "30 Days of Thankfulness" posts. I have tried this several times, but I always end up forgetting a couple weeks in. This year, I'll just do one list of thirty things.


1.  My husband
2. My daughters
3. My parents
4. Our house
5. Netflix
6. Caffeine
7. Comfy bed
8. Heat
9. Cheaper puppy food (Angus eats a lot)
10. Food
11. Lower gas prices
12. Temps in the sixties in the forecast
13. Books
14. Warm clothes
15. Laughter
16. Fun times together
17. Friendship
18. Internet
19. Insurance
20. Nature
21. Trifexis
22. No pull dog harnesses
23. Employment
24. Hugs
25. Music
26. Extended family
27. Memories
28. Sparta
29. Creative outlets
30. Education

Friday, November 14, 2014

The struggle of writing

For a four years now, since I first learned about NaNoWriMo, I've been working on a fictional story. My timing seemed to be off that first attempt, since I had an infant at home, along with our preteen daughter and a full-time job. An active family just wasn't conducive to the writing commitment that needed to be made. Although I didn't complete NaNo that month, I've still worked on my story off and on over the years.

And it's hard.

I know every writer shares this struggle. But I have so many questions that I just don't know the answers to! Most of my writing is simple - I have an idea, and I write until I've exhausted that idea. My problem this time is it's not finished and I have no idea where to go next. I have no outline, no set length, not even a title.

Image via morguefile.com

And titles - how do people come up with titles? I have a hard enough time naming blog posts, much less a novel. The pressure!

I know the advice - just write. Write and get the words out and edit later. That is a huge struggle for me, since I self-edit constantly. I don't move on to the next passage until the one I finished is perfect. In school I was the same way. I didn't write first drafts of essays and revise, I wrote the finished work (and made an A, too, darn it!). Drafts are strangers to me.

Another huge issue with this piece is that I have no idea what happens next. I can't even decide what direction this will take - happy ending? Suspenseful? Is Mr X telling the truth? Is it a ploy? I have no idea. I will decide one way, write out a few more pages, then decide later I don't like that. I've added major characters and loved the new direction, then weeks later hated it and scrap that whole section. I feel directionless, like I'm being blown about by the winds of my own rambling thoughts. I just want to grab one, feel like "this is it!" and run with it.

Tell me - can it really work that way?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A few of my favorite things that help me function

Cue the music... these are a few of my favorite things! Not really when dogs bite or bees sting, but when I have places to be and things to do, these are some of the things that get me through my day.

I start my mornings with The Skimm, a daily (M-F) email newsletter that hits the highlights of the news. It gives you a summary of major news stories, without the extra pontificating you get on many other sources. And it's not stuffy, either. Important news, easy and fun to read - what's better? Subscribe easily here.





Quite a while ago, while telling a friend at work about being stuck in a horrible traffic jam on the interstate because I didn't have the news on that morning, a man overheard us and told me about an app for smartphones called Waze. He has been my hero! The Waze app (it's free btw) has a real-time, user updated map that combines navigation if you need it, real-time traffic issues, even things like police, missing signage, red light cameras, and debris on the road. I have a long commute to work, and Waze makes it easy for me to see if alternate routes will be needed or what time I will reach my destination.



When I'm trying to keep up with our family's activities, events, and work schedules, I use my Tools4Wisdom weekly planner. It's similar to the Franklin Covey system, but for me, easier to use. Not only is there a weekly calendar, with each day marked off from 5 am to 11 pm in half hour increments, but each week has space to list goals and other priorities for the week and steps to complete them. Each month has a monthly overview calendar, and a page to list goals for each month. There is also a place to record yearly goals, and action steps to implement them. It even comes with its own bookmarks!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Too ugly to win the election? You have to be kidding.

NH State Representative Steve Vaillancourt
In the "what the absolute f***" news today, apparently a New Hampshire State Representative believes that looks are what win elections, and that US Representative Ann McLane Kuster will lose her seat because she's "ugly as sin" and looks like a "drag queen."

This is insane! What decade are we living in here? Does anyone still really believe that looks are what makes a good candidate? If so, why hasn't anyone told the men that? Seriously - when is the last time you heard anyone say a man couldn't run for office because he wasn't attractive enough? Or asked a male politician about his wardrobe, hair style, makeup choice? (You know they wear makeup for the cameras.) Or what about balance - women in politics are asked about their children, how they expect to balance their position with their home lives, are criticized for their parenting choices. But aren't men parents as well? Why are they not quizzed on backup childcare for voting days?

But just going back to the main point - this is what Vaillancourt actually said:
"Let's be honest," Vaillancourt writes. "Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven't offended sin. If looks really matter and if this race is at all close, give a decided edge to Marilinda Garcia."
As much as I hate to give this asshole traffic, here is a link to his actual blog post about it. It seems he has a thing for the young, pretty candidate opposing Rep Kuster.  He used an unflattering screenshot of Kuster, but a glossy, smiling, shot for her opponent. This is Rep Kuster's photo from her website.

She's not a young twentysomething like her opponent, but ugly? No. It's sad that he can't talk about any of the issues, her voting record, sponsored legislation, or any valid reason for not supporting Kuster. He only focuses on her appearance.

He is a prime example of what is holding women back in politics.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hindsight

Allergy rash on 2 year old Sophie
Way back in July 2012, when Sophie was 2, we discovered she had an allergy to artificial colors. That was the beginning of a new reality for us.

However, today I was feeling nostalgic and was going through old posts in her birth board on Babycenter.com, and found two posts I made about the same thing happening! One was in November 2010, when she was only 8 months old, and then again in February 2011, right after her first birthday. Both posts mention her common symptoms- eczema spots we couldn't get rid of, the rash on her face after eating something with food dye. And both times she had the full body rash like she did in 2012! I also in retrospect figured out another incident, a few months before the final one in July, that would have been from the same allergy (she had eaten a cupcake before breaking out, but again, didn't make the connection until much later).

I know "hindsight is 20/20," but I wish I had put this all together earlier! If  I had remembered the breakouts from one incident to the next, if I had started researching causes earlier - what might have happened?

Probably nothing, except an earlier diagnosis. The post from February 2011, I mentioned she was taking amoxycillin. Guess what the liquid contains - Red 40. That is a medication she can't take now, because there is no version on the market (for liquid at least) that is not dyed pink. The pharmacist checked the last time it was prescribed to her.

So what is the point of this post?

If your child has sudden, unexplained rashes, keep a very detailed journal. Foods eaten (even if nothing was new), medications, beverages, anything that could have been consumed. And keep it in a safe place, and refer back to it whenever the rash recurs. Even little rashes - most of the time Sophie just had very red cheeks and a few small bumps around her mouth. Now we've learned that is a consistent reaction of hers to eating something with artificial colors.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tennessee constitutional amendment 1 - What is it really saying?

Protester at a clinic, via Morguefile
In case you haven't heard, there are four amendments to our state constitution to be voted on next month. Some are not very major - an amendment outlawing state income tax, which is already the case, and an amendment allowing charities to hold lotteries - but Amendment 1 is potentially huge for women in our state.

Here is the text of the amendment:
Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1for the November 4, 2014 General Election BallotShall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

Supporters of this amendment say that this is no big deal, not restricting legal abortion at all, just using "common sense":
Voter approval of Amendment 1 in 2014 will allow the people of Tennessee and their elected representatives to restore common sense protections for women and the unborn, including inspection and regulation of abortion facilities by the Tennessee Department of Health.
In reality, though, facilities that provide abortion services ARE inspected and regulated. Also, protections are currently in place to protect women. Here is the current law in Tennessee.  Partial-birth abortions, always a talking point for anti-abortion groups, are already illegal. Even though these groups try to make it an issue every time, it is not even legal. Babies are not pulled out of the womb and killed, no matter how many graphic billboards these groups pay for. And there are restrictions in place - written consent from the mother (or parent if a minor), and a 48-hour waiting period after meeting with the doctor. The Yes On 1 organization also implies that women from other states flock to Tennessee to have abortions performed. In reality, women must prove state residency to receive an abortion. The amendment also mentions funding of abortions - this is not now, and never has been, in question. Taxpayer funds are not used to provide abortions and if this amendment does not pass, that will not change. 
In short, this amendment paves the way for the current law, decided by the State Supreme Court in 2000,  to be overturned at the whim of voters. Supporters want to take the decisions out of our hands and put them in the hands of the government. It is insulting to all women, to imply that our reproduction requires legislation for us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.
More information: Vote No on 1
And in case you don't want to follow the link above, here is the text of the state's abortion law:
Code Section
39-15-201 to 209; 37-10-301 to 307
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion
(1) Failure to meet standards for legal abortion including residency requirement; (2) attempted criminal abortion; (3) coerced or compelled abortion; (4) administering to pregnant woman medicine, drug, or any substance or instrument with intent to destroy such child(5) Partial Birth abortion: no person shall knowingly perform a partial birth abortion except when necessary to save life of the mother if endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion
First trimester with woman’s consent upon advice of her M.D., after first trimester and before viability with same, but in a hospital. After viability, necessary to preserve life, health of mother
Penalty
Impermissible abortion: Class C felony; mother attempting to procure a miscarriage: Class E felony; M.D. fails to use due care to preserve life of baby born alive or violation of 48-hour waiting period: Class E felony; abortion on non-Tenn. resident: Class C felony; coercion to obtain abortion: Class A misdemeanor; M.D. performs abortion on minor violating consent statute: misdemeanor
Consent
Informed, written consent of mother, 48-hour waiting period between M.D. giving mother information and consent; after viability, same as first trimester except M.D. must certify in writing to the hospital that procedure was necessary; by at least one parent must consent to abortion to be performed on minor; no parental consent necessary if emergency; minor may petition court for waiver
Residency
Mother must produce to M.D. evidence she is bona fide resident prior to procedure except in medical emergency, (but M.D. must still give information to mother)
License
First trimester, licensed M.D. upon his medical advice and woman’s consent; after first trimester to viability, licensed M.D., licensed hospital; after viability, only to preserve life of mother
- See more at: http://abortion.uslegal.com/state-laws/tennessee-abortion-laws/#sthash.ra1VqU3G.dpuf

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stay tuned...

A new Inspired Life is coming soon!

I'm going to redo the whole site - design and content - to reflect where I am now. As I get older (I turned 36 a couple weeks ago!) I'm less and less inclined to censor myself to please imaginary "others" and have decided to write about what I want to write about, even if I know people I love won't agree with me.

See you soon!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting to know me - Have I ever?

Have you ever...?

  • Eaten an entire box of Oreos Yuck no.
  • Thought about eating an entire box of Oreos No
  • Baked a cake Yes!
  • Cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for a group Yep.
  • Eaten sushi Ew no!
  • Been on stage Yes
  • Gone skating Yes
  • Made homemade cookies Yes
  • Gone skinny dipping Maybe?? Can't quite remember for sure
  • Dyed your hair No
  • Broken a bone Yes
  • Been hospitalized overnight Yes
  • Had your name appear in the newspaper Yes
  • Published a story, poem, novel... Yes
  • Played a game that required removal of clothing Yes
  • Gotten drunk or extremely intoxicated No
  • Been arrested No 
  • Changed your name Only my last name 
  • Changed your "look" Not really
  • Changed who you were to fit in Not really
  • Traveled outside the country Yes

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Getting to know me - my creative outlets

Creative outlets: Do you...

  • Paint or draw Not nearly as much as I'd like
  • Sculpt, do pottery, mold clay... No
  • Build scale models No 
  • Collect... (what?) Not really
  • Write (what?) Yes. I write what I need to write. My posts here, fiction, writing to express something I need to get out.
  • Compose music No
  • Choreograph dances LOLno.
  • Dance I wish
  • Develop software Not a chance. That's a language I don't understand.
  • Meditate I don't think I'm capable. 
  • Daydream All the time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting to know me - leisure time activities

Leisure Time: Do you like to...

  • Read Oh my goodness, yes
  • Go out, anywhere! Sometimes
  • Go dancing I used to - not so much now
  • See a show can be fun, at times
  • Rent a video Does anyone do this anymore? Netflix family here :)
  • Listen to music Certainly yes
  • Go for a walk Definitely
  • Watch television Yep. Favorites are Sherlock (BBC version), Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Blacklist, Sherlock, Castle, Supernatural, Bones, and I can't forget Sherlock.  O, and Arrow, and Orange is the New Black. 
  • Surf the web um... duh! 
  • Chat with friends online Yes. Great way to keep in touch with long distance friends!
  • Meet people for coffee and conversation Not nearly as often as I'd like!
  • Go to a party Do kids' birthday parties count?
  • Stay home Of course.
  • ...? I'm guessing this is for what else I do for leisure? Write. Play The Sims (or more accurately, build amazing houses and then never play the families). Do yard work (yes, I enjoy it). 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Frustration.

I'm at the frustrating part of my recovery. Yesterday, I had my post-op checkup and my staples removed. Then I stopped by a kids' consignment store and finished up Sophie's fall & winter wardrobe, visited my husband at his office, and then to Target next to his office for some ointment because my skin's reaction to the adhesive tape was worse than the incision itself and I was going crazy with the itching. Since it was my first day out and around, and driving independently, since my surgery, I ended up spending an hour in Target. Then, I visited with a coworker and had another errand to run before picking Sophie up, then picking up my oldest from school and taking her to work. I ended up being gone for over 7 hours. And I felt GREAT all day long.

Then, I went to bed. I fell asleep rather quickly, but woke several times overnight with my muscles aching and spasming, from my back to my toes. And this morning was just as miserable. I took a muscle relaxer to help, but it didn't. I was hurting, and so lethargic I couldn't even hold my kindle to read. Finally Sophie woke up and brought me the glass of iced coffee I had in the fridge and I took my pain pill. We snuggled in my bed for another hour and a half before I was able to get up for the day.

Then, grocery shopping. I couldn't even make it through the store without stopping to rest in one of the chairs at the pharmacy. I know I did too much yesterday, but I felt great all day! The limitations in what I can do is so very frustrating to me.

Thankfully, the actual back pain is GONE. The surgery was a success. I know it will take time for my body to recover - I mean, the surgeon operated on my spine! I just am impatient to get back to normal again. I've felt useless for too long.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 5, 2014

Princess Sophie has a fun day

Once upon a time, Princess Sophie and her big sister, Princess Emma, decided to spend a fun day together, since it was summertime and school was out. They started out by playing with their dogs, Sir Angus and Sir Tucker, in the garden. Then, they took the dogs to the park.

They walked the dogs in the park, but Sir Angus kept chasing the ducks! He chased them right into the lake! The girls laughed and laughed. Sir Angus ran back to the girls and jumped all over Princess Sophie, getting her all wet. Princess Emma laughed at her dripping wet sister, until Sir Angus turned and soaked her, too!

Since they were both already wet, Princess Emma called and asked a palace helper to bring them towels and dry clothes, then the girls tied the dogs to a tree to keep them from running away, and jumped in the lake themselves. They had fun swimming and playing in the water.

When they finished swimming, Princess Emma and Princess Sophie went for ice cream. It was so yummy. After eating their ice cream, they went to the library. Dogs were welcome in all buildings in their kingdom. Princess Sophie picked out four books to read, since she was four years old.

Princess Sophie and Princess Emma finally went back home to the palace, where they read books together. It was a very fun, happy day.

The end.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Princess Sophie has a party

I wanted to rush Sophie's bedtime story last night, so I told her I'd make up a story. Her reactions to each detail were so wonderful that the story kept continuing, and she has asked for more made-up stories. Here is the first Princess Sophie story.


Once upon a time, there was a little princess with red hair and blue eyes, named Sophie. She had a big sister, Princess Emma, and two faithful dogs, Sir Angus and Sir Tucker. She played with them in the palace garden, playing chase and fetch, and having a great time. The palace cook brought Princess Sophie her lunch in the garden, with enough to share with Sir Angus and Sir Tucker.



One day, Princess Emma was going to a ball. Sophie thought this was wonderful, and asked her sister if she could go to the ball also. "Don't be silly," Princess Emma said to her. "This ball is for grown-up princesses only!" Princess Sophie was not happy. "You're not a grownup either! I'm going to ask Mommy and Daddy!" So Princess Sophie asked the king and queen if she could go to the ball. Her mommy, the queen, told Sophie that the ball is for big princesses only, but Princess Sophie could have her own ball with her friends!



Princess Sophie was so excited. She got a beautiful new dress, a pretty pink ballgown with sparkly earrings and sparkly crown, and silver sparkly shoes. Her friends, Princess Addison, Princess Shanna, Princess Audriana, Princess Mia, Princess Jada, Princess Amaya, and allllll her princess friends all came over. They danced and danced, and had a tea party. They ate pink sparkly cookies, cupcakes and cakes with beautiful frosting, and had tea in pretty cups. The best part was that the king and queen outlawed artificial colors in the entire kingdom, so Princess Sophie could eat anything she wanted, without worrying.



When their party was over, the king and queen let Princess Sophie and all her friends make a giant pillow fort in the palace living room, with all kinds of fluffy pillows and cozy blankets, and they had a sleepover! The next morning, the palace cook made pancakes and bacon for the princesses for breakfast. Princess Sophie and her friends had such a good time, she wasn't sad at all that she couldn't go to the other ball with her big sister.



The end.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Forgive me while I rant a little.

I am so sick of all the hatred in social media lately! It's reached the point of ridiculousness. It's like our whole country is full of people trying to outdo each other with their "rightness" when the real world just isn't that simple.

Even the weather isn't safe. Yes, it's hot outside. But is it really necessary to share photos of blizzards with the caption "for everyone complaining about the heat?" The fact that it gets glacier-worthy cold in winter does not negate the fact that temperatures in the 90s with off-the-charts humidity is freaking HOT. Neither one is pleasant. Stop it.

Then a couple days ago I saw a photo shared on Facebook that had, on one side, a photo of Muslims praying at a mosque. The other side showed a football player kneeling on a field during a game. The caption said "why is this ok (praying at the mosque) but this isn't (football praying)?" Well, for starters, the two have nothing to do with each other. We live in America, land of religious freedom. That's why it is okay. It's okay for Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Native Americans,  Pagans, and everyone else to pray however they choose. Also, it's not okay for any of them to pray in the middle of a football game. That's just football. Nothing to do with religious freedoms at all. The only purpose of the image is to create hostility and portray an "attack" that isn't even happening.

And the political divisiveness is off the charts insane. I seriously worry about the future of our country, not because of either Right-wing or Left-wing extremists "winning" anything, but because of the fact that each side thinks they are absolutely right and the other is absolutely wrong. In actuality, both sides are right on some things, wrong on others, but neither one is willing to compromise. The all-or-nothing attitude is going to lead to disaster.

This isn't even the tip of the iceberg. Our society is so hate-centric lately that I could list examples all day long, but for my own sanity I won't. Just please, be a little more respectful of our fellow humans! It doesn't compromise your beliefs in any way to treat others with politeness and empathy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting to know me - what do I prefer?

I skipped yesterday; it was not a day of feeling well. Friday afternoon my mom, Sophie, and I went to the grocery store. We desperately needed groceries, and I wanted out of the house. My discharge paperwork said I can go out as I feel like it, I just can't drive. Also, the gas station attached with the grocery store has 30 cents off per gallon on Fridays and my car was in dire need of a fill up. I walked slowly, and didn't lift anything heavy. My teen daughter works there, and Friday afternoon she was working as courtesy clerk instead of cashiering, so she was able to put the dog food in my cart, and take the bags to the car for us. But the outing was still a bit much, and I spent most of yesterday recovering from it. 


Do you prefer

  • Traveling I love to travel! We did a lot of it when I was growing up, and I still love traveling and seeing new places.
  • Staying home Sometimes I definitely prefer to stay home and hide. I need regular alone time to decompress. 
  • Going out It can be fun, definitely. 
  • Cooking Eh, cooking is neutral for me. Sometimes I enjoy it, I rarely dislike it, but it's one of those things that must be done. 
  • Eating out Once in a while. I wouldn't want to eat out every day.
  • Entertaining at home Not really. I get too stressed about it.
  • Large parties Someone else's large party would be fun to attend. I don't particularly want to host one.
  • Small parties where you know everyone Yes! This is definitely my preference.
  • Quiet evenings with a few friends An evening with friends is never quiet. And it's great.
  • Being alone Sometimes it's necessary. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Getting to know me - Do I?

Do you...?

  • Have any tattoos (where?) Nope
  • Have any piercings (where?) Just my ears
  • Have any scars Oh yes. Lots. I scar easily.
  • Get along with your parents? Most definitely!
  • Get motion sickness Sometimes
  • Think you're a health nut Not really
  • Type with your fingers on the right keys Mostly
  • Play an instrument Yes
  • Play an instrument well No
  • Sleep with a stuffed animals Nope
  • Have a significant other Yes!
  • Have a dream that keeps coming back Several
  • Believe there is life on other planets I have no idea
  • Read the newspaper The online version
  • Read the comics No
  • Read the sports pages Not a chance.
  • Check the weather forecast Yes
  • Go to restaurants alone Yes
  • Consider yourself tolerant of others Definitely
  • Like the taste of alcohol Not at all
  • Drink Everyone drinks, or we'd get dehydrated and die. I drink water, tea, coffee, soda, juices
  • Smoke No
  • Swear Sometimes
  • Sing Not well
  • Sing in public Not at all
  • Sing in the shower No
  • Laugh Of course!
  • Joke A bit
  • Read Constantly! 
  • Exercise Occasionally
  • Diet No. I prefer overall healthier eating
  • Cook I have to!
  • Believe in astrology No
  • Read your horoscope No
  • Believe in magic Not really
  • Believe in miracles Yes
  • Go to church Yes
  • Have any secrets Doesn't everyone?
  • Have any pets Oh yes. These two dogs... and my oldest daughter has two firebelly toads and a gerbil
  • Have any children Yep! E and S, the twins born 12 years apart 
  • Have any brothers or sisters Not biological, but yes
  • Work Yes, both outside the home and at home
  • Have a college degree (or go to or plan to go to college I have an associate degree. Eventually I'll finish. Hopefully
  • Chat to strangers who instant message you No
  • Talk to strangers on the bus I don't take the bus, but theoretically, yes
  • Wear hats No
  • Like yourself Most of the time
  • Wish on stars No
  • Like your handwriting No
  • Trust others easily Sometimes
  • Like puns Eh, sometimes
  • Have a good sense of humor Yes
  • Take walks in the rain No way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More "getting to know me" and a post-surgery update

I didn't realize quite how long this "Getting to know me" thing was when I started it, and now I'm very glad I decided to do a section a day!

Yesterday I had my back surgery. Monday afternoon I received a call from the hospital bumping up my surgery by half an hour to 4 pm. It was still almost 6 before I got to go back for my surgery; apparently the one in front of mine was longer than anticipated. I woke up in recovery at 9 pm, and was home by 11 last night. What a long day! It went well, with no complications thank goodness. The surgeon told my husband that the disc was even worse than he could tell from my MRI and that I was one tough lady - he couldn't believe I'd been working and walking and functioning semi-normally this whole time. Now I'm at home for the next two weeks recuperating. The numbness in my leg and foot have already gone, which is a big relief! It had actually gotten painful to walk on my left foot; the numbness made it feel like I was constantly stepping on a marble. I'll be so glad when the surgery site has healed and I can be back to normal again finally.

Now, for the fun stuff:

Who Would You Like To...

  • Hear From My "sisters" - but we keep in touch with Facebook and other social media .The distance makes normal communication difficult.
  • Never Hear From Again Oh, I'm sure there is someone, but I can't think of anyone at the moment.
  • Look Like My 18-year-old self
  • Be Like Myself
  • Meet The cast of Sherlock, David Tennant, Peter Capaldi, Nathan Fillion, John Barrowman
  • Get to Know Livia and Johanna Liv <3
  • Learn from / Study With I'm constantly learning from other people.
  • Impress Everyone! Haha. No really, I have no idea.
  • Teach My daughters

Monday, August 25, 2014

Getting to know me - my preferences

Like I could ever make up my mind...

  • Cola or Other Other - preferably iced tea. Sweet, of course.
  • Coke or Pepsi Coke
  • Fried, Scrambled, or Poached Scrambled or omelet. Fried and poached are gross!
  • Pancakes or Waffles Either one, they're basically the same thing!
  • Dogs or Cats Dogs!! No doubt. 
    Our two boys, Tucker and Angus
  • Coffee or Tea Both
  • Iced or Hot Again, either.
  • Looking out the window or into the room Window
  • One Pillow or Two  One
  • Chocolate or Vanilla Either one, again
  • High Achiever or Easy-Going Easy going, as if that's not obvious by this post
  • Single or Taken Very taken! Married almost 17 years.
  • Pen or Pencil Pen
  • Gloves or Mittens Gloves
  • Planned or Spontaneous Both!
  • Food or Candy Food
  • Matches or a Lighter Lighter
  • Typed or Handwritten Handwritten
  • Walk or Run Walk
  • Elevator or Stairs Stairs for 2 flights and under, elevator for 3 flights or more. Going down? Stairs all the way.
  • Walk or Drive Depends on the distance and how much I have to carry!
  • Facing into the restaurant or away from the other people Facing into. Although I really don't care either way. 
  • Eating alone, with one friend, or with lots of friends Whichever fits
  • Home or "Out" Home
  • Alone, with one friend, or with a group? I'm happy either way.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Getting to know me - my favorites

This should be fun!

Your favorite

  • Music Oh goodness, so much! REM is my long-time favorite. 
  • Cartoon Umm... No idea. Cartoons in our house right now consist of Clone Wars, My Little Pony, Care Bears, Barbie, and Lego Friends. I used to love Daria and The Tick when I was in college, do they count?
  • Font Do people seriously have favorite fonts?? Wow.
  • Color Red
  • Song Oh man. Not sure. I love a lot of songs.
  • Flavor Flavor of what? Dark chocolate, Nutella, peppermint for gum, cherry or orange for Starburst and Skittles and popsicles, and there is no way I could choose a favorite flavor of ice cream. There are way too many.
  • Scent Orange, vanilla, cinnamon, clean baby, my husband, the flowering bush in my yard that I have no idea what it is, chocolate chip cookies
  • Magazine Working Mother, Real Simple, Glamour
  • TV Show Sherlock!! Followed by Doctor Who, Castle, Bones, Orphan Black, The Blacklist
  • Book That's like asking someone to pick their favorite child! Top choices are The Great Gatsby, The Moonstone, Millennium trilogy (The Girl Who... books)
  • Movie The Whole Nine Yards
  • Language I love languages. 
  • Food I'm not so sure anymore. My mom's lasagna and potato salad (not together of course), creamy garlic pasta, quinoa, broccoli
  • Beverage Sweet tea, iced coffee
  • Fruit Cherries, fresh peaches
  • Vegetable Broccoli and carrots 
  • Season Autumn
  • Subject in School Reading (go figure), literature
  • Weekend Activity Reading, napping, playing, going to the park, family time in any form.
  • Ice Cream Flavor Impossible to choose! Chocolate, cookie dough, chocolate chip mint, choc chip cherry, cherry vanilla, peppermint, coffee, caramel...
  • Pizza toppings Broccoli, mushroom, garlic, Parmesan, and mozzarella.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting to know me - what was I doing then?

What were you doing

  • 1 hour ago General work-related stuff
  • 1 day ago Same as above :) Also, pre-op testing, final work preparations for my absence. 
  • 1 week ago Working, grocery shopping (I can't wait until I can shop alone again!), wrapping my head around the reality of my spine being operated on...
  • 1 month ago Likely laying in bed, recovering from a day at work. 
  • 1 year ago Thanks to Facebook, I can see exactly what I was doing a year ago! And it seems we're just days after the one year anniversary of my mom having a heart attack on an airplane, and the surgery afterward, while she and my dad were flying home from my aunt's funeral. This time last year was very emotional! Luckily, the plane hadn't yet taken off and my mom is still here <3
  • 5 years ago Five years ago we were expecting Sophie, and according to my Facebook timeline this day back then my regular jeans were getting tight, and I was still suffering from "morning" sickness. 
    Five years ago :)
  • 10 years ago Hmm, August 2004. Emma was six, and in first grade. I bet this is around the time I was bitten by the spider and found out I was allergic to them, since she hadn't been in school very long. Hard to believe she's a junior now! I worked at JC Penney, and it was the only time I've been summoned for Jury Duty. I was dismissed early, and went to a walk-in clinic to get my spider bite checked out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting to know me - What am I doing?

What are you...

  • Thinking of Everything I need to get done at work before my back surgery and two-week absence
  • Feeling Sad that my daughter is sick, tired, frustrated at lack of puppy-training time, in pain because I forgot to take my medication when it was due
  • Remembering that my medication was due an hour ago... 

  • Doing the boring part of my job (and lunchbreak blogging, of course!)
  • Planning a mental to-do list for the upcoming days. The correct contact information to the correct people at work, waiting for paperwork from HR, pondering freezer meals and lunch prep for after my surgery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting to know me part 3: "right now"

Right Now

  • Current mood Neutral - is that a mood? I'm fine. Not unhappy, not thrilled to be at work either (lunch break blogging FTW!) I could use a nap and an ice pack on my back, though.
  • Current music My iPod is on shuffle. Current song: 

  • Current taste The mint of my gum, to cover up the garlic of the hummus in the wrap I just ate for lunch.
  • Current hair Started out in a cute style, but didn't stay there (see day 1), so now it's in a bun.
  • Current clothes Purple sweater from Target, grey pants from JC Penney, necklace was my grandmother's. 
    I am too tall for selfies! And no idea what's in the box.
  • Current annoyance Back pain and paperwork
  • Current smell 
    It's amber vanilla or something like that.
  • Current longing Nap, big comfy chair and a good book, winning lottery ticket
  • Current desktop picture Factory preset, boring. Haven't taken time to change it yet.
  • Current fingernail color Naked. Nail polish doesn't last long on my fingers. Toenails are hot pink.
  • Current likes Books, tea, coffee, music, Netflix, happy people, compassionate people, laughter, good food, lipstick, art
  • Current dislikes Tomatoes, avocados, peppers, hatefulness, political arguing, internet news story commenters, mean people, small-mindedness, cutesy things
  • Current favorite article of clothing  Not a good photo of my favorite top, but here is the link to it. 
  • This is the only pic of me in this shirt! 
  • Current time you wake up in the morning Ugh. 6:30-7ish. The past couple mornings the dogs have woken me up between 4:30-5 though. Bad doggies! 
  • Current favorite word Seriously?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting to know me - my style

This one is tricky. I don't have a set style. I like what I like, but as individual pieces, not "styles." I'll try, anyway ;)

Style

  • Clothing I love clothes. I love colors. I love stripes, I love neutrals, I love interesting pieces. Here are some examples of things I'd love to wear:  
  • Hair Low-maintenance. I spend very little time styling my hair. It's baby fine, and slips out of most styles anyway. It's long, so easy to pull back into a bun, ponytail, or braid, or clip back somehow. I spend more time with it up than down just to keep it out of my face. 
  • Music Eclectic. My iPod contains a mix of pop, alternative, rock, classical, jazz, musicals, rap, and music from the 1940s to now.
  • Makeup Love it, and wear it almost every day, but natural-looking. I do love to play with lipsticks, though. I own several dozen lipsticks and glosses.
  • Body Art I appreciate it on other people, but it's not for me. Yet.
  • Car I like mine. But I'd rather have something else. 
  • Decor Just like my clothing style - classic, but fun colors and patterns. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting to know me - the basics

(First in a series)

Basics

  • Name Christine
  • Birthplace Panama City, Florida
  • Current Location East Tennessee
  • Heritage Norwegian and Dutch (meaning I will never, ever tan)
  • Eye Color Blue
  • Hair Color Red 
  • Hair Length Long
  • Height Tall! 5'11"
  • Weight I'm not defined by the number on my scale.
  • Figure Figure what? Figure it out? Figure eights? Figure of speech?
  • Righty or Lefty Righty
  • Zodiac Sign Virgo 
  • Introvert or extrovert I can be both, depending on my mood. Overall, more introverted.
  • Meyers-Briggs Personality type INFP 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So I visited a neurosurgeon yesterday....

I know, it's been almost a month since I've posted. Sorry. Really, I say it a lot but I mean it!
Anyway, since my last post, I'm no longer confined to my bed thanks to modern medicine, especially steroids and narcotics. I'm able to go to work, but have strict activity restrictions.

Anyway, I had an MRI for my back. I finally found a new primary care doctor (and I hope this one doesn't move, since I really like this one! And the other doctor in the practice is the one I stopped going to and I will go to urgent care instead if I'm sick enough for a doctor and he's the only option). Anyway, after checking out a few things, he was afraid I had herniated a disc and sent me for an MRI. I had that on a Wednesday, with my follow up appointment with him again on Monday to go over the results. Instead, he called me personally on Thursday as soon as he saw the results.

Never a good sign.

I got a referral to a neurosurgeon, and finally had that visit yesterday. Again, a series of funny tests, and he patted me on the shoulder and said I'd hit the disc jackpot. I thought he meant I was really okay, no big deal, go home and you'll be fine soon. Nope. He said he's seen worse herniations, but not many in his career. And that it's been 20 years since he's seen one so bad. He was shocked I've been walking around, not to mention working every day. He showed us my MRI, and wow.

This obviously isn't from my back, but see the bottom right one? The pink area is the herniated material. Imagine 3/4 the spinal column compressed instead of just the half. That's how mine looked. Apparently I have a larger than normal spinal column area, and he said that's the only reason I am able to get out of bed, period.

So, in my very near future, I'll be having back surgery. This is what I'll be having done. After the surgery, he said I'll feel SO much better, but I won't be able to drive for a week and won't be able to return to work for 10 days.

I am completely ready to have this done, though. I am tired of being in pain. I just want my life to get back to normal! Poor Sophie a few days ago was saying she missed me picking her up and holding her. She said "It's just not fair!" The worst was on election day last week, she and I were walking into the polling location, and she tripped over the broken sidewalk and fell down, skinning her knees. My baby was crying on the ground, and I couldn't do a thing about it. Luckily, my husband was already there and came over to pick her up, cuddle her, and clean up her knees. In no time at all she was running around playing. But I felt so helpless! What if he hadn't been there at the same time? What would I have done?

This surgery can't happen soon enough.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I've been doing

Being mostly confined to bed, I get bored easily. Also I have time to obsessively think about every project that needs completing, cleaning that needs to be done, and I drive myself (and I'm sure my family) crazy. So I'm trying to fill in the time.

So far, I've...
Painted my nails
Painted Sophie's nails
Sewed buttons back on pants, repaired small holes in clothes
Played blocks with Sophie on my bed
Washed the sheets twice (puppy accident and drink spill)
Netflix binging
Reading
Facebook
Games on my kindle
Referee disagreements between jealous dogs
Played hide and seek with the puppy
Been a pillow for our Pointer
Rescued countless items from puppy teeth
Had my hair eaten countless times by the puppy
Had good conversations with my oldest
"Shopped" online by pinning things I wanted to Pinterest
Spent lots of time on hold to doctor offices















- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 16, 2014




I injured my back when I was off from work the first week of July. I had to visit the ER early last week it was so bad.

It's still not better.

I'm so tired of hurting. I'm tired of laying in bed, but that's the only way I get relief. I'm tired of medication, and I'm tired *from* the medication. I'm tired of being unable to lift anything, to do anything, to bend over for a hug from my little girl.

I'm tired of feeling like an inconvenience to my family. I'm tired of feeling helpless. I'm tired of being unable to drive. I'm tired of missing work. I'm tired of not being able to walk the dogs.

I'm just tired.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book review: Across Eternity

Across Eternity is.... something. It's a beautiful love story, written by Aris Whittier. But it's not a typical love story. It is the story of soul mates Logan and Amber. It begins with Logan spotting Amber as he's driving down the street in the California coastal town he lives in. She is walking into a restaurant, and the prologue ends with the words "It's really her." Then the first chapter begins with the first time Logan meets her, when he is three years old.

Warning: This will be a bit spoilery, but there is no way for me to talk about this book otherwise.

Logan has a best friend, who no one else can see. She is a little girl that is his constant companion, playing together and reading books together. She is there for him through the difficult times in his life. Then, when Logan is ten, she tells him she's about to be born into a body, and she won't remember him. He is special, she tells him, because he can see her when not many other people can, and he will remember her. She, however, won't be able to remember him. When he is fifteen, he starts dreaming about her, but as a partner, lover, spouse, instead of just as a friend. He goes to college, earns several degrees, and travels the world repeatedly.

But I'm getting ahead of the story. He gets a table at the restaurant she entered, because it turns out she's a waitress there. He watches her for a while, then convinces the manager to let her join him and they talk for two hours. She things he's familiar, but can't place him. He knows who she is, and they have a connection that confuses her as it thrills him. She later finds out he owns the restaurant, along with several others, and gets angry, thinking he's playing a game to find a girl to have some fun with. They end up talking all night after she confronts him, and start to spend more time together. He knows she is his soul mate, the spirit of his childhood, and knows from his dreams that they have always been together, married in many past lives. She can't understand the connection and familiarity she feels with him, but the memories of him that haven't happened convince her to give their relationship a try.

He tells her that all his degrees were killing time, and his world travels were searching for her. He knew when she was born, when he was ten, but not where or in which body. He was shocked to learn she lived in the same town as him. She meets his family, and eventually leaves her waitressing job and they travel together for a while. Before they start traveling, he reveals a secret to her: he is going to die soon. He insists he is not sick, and definitely not suicidal, but he just knows his time is near. He had been waiting for her since he was ten, and now that he found her he is sure it won't be much longer. They end their trip in Ireland, since she mentioned once she'd always wanted to visit there. He surprises her with a cottage, and proposes over dinner at a local pub. A judge is dining the same night and marries them on the spot.

A few weeks after returning from their travels, he begins having strange symptoms. Dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and then he passes away in his sleep, holding onto Amber as he goes. Heartbroken, she calls his family. When they arrive, his mother tells Amber that when Logan was four he was diagnosed with a rare, terminal disease. His insomnia, and his intellect (he began college at age 13) were caused by the disease. The doctors had predicted he'd die by the age of 12, but he always told his mother he would live until he found his mate. He made it possible for Amber to fulfill her dreams of going to college and becoming a doctor. The book ends ten years later, with Amber watching the sunset from the balcony of a restaurant they loved, and being addressed as Doctor Richards.

What I liked: This was a beautiful story. Logan and Amber have something special and it's easy to see. I loved Logan's relationships with his mother, sister, and nephew. I also liked the book's way of viewing death: everyone will die, so there is no need to be afraid. Instead, live life fully and without regret.

What I didn't like: The mystery, unnamed terminal illness with no symptoms other than genius and insomnia. It's reminiscent of the John Travolta movie Phenomenon. Also, I was getting a City of Angels feeling from the book. so the ending did not really surprise me.

Overall, I give the book four stars.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Meet Angus

We have a new family member! A few weeks ago we lost our older dog Daisy, leaving us with just our Pointer, Tucker. He has not been adjusting well to his only dog status. He went from active, outdoor-loving, playful dog to a homebody who only wanted to be outside long enough to relieve himself. If we leave him in the backyard he finds ways to escape. Then yesterday evening, my husband called me about a German Shepherd puppy needing rescuing right away, or else he was going to the pound. The mama dog had suddenly rejected her 4 week old litter of puppies, and he was the last one to be placed.  Because (1) GERMAN SHEPHERD!! and (2) saving from the pound, we now have a puppy! He's an adorable thing, a little butterball. Tucker is a bit wary and afraid of him, but he's always been a big chicken so I'm not surprised there. He will adjust.

We went to PetSmart last night and got puppy formula and a bottle for him, and a bag of large breed puppy food. (BTW, if you get a puppy, purchase their puppy starter kit. It is SO worth it.) They had a lot of dog toys on clearance, and they were buy two get one free, so we got three soft toys for him to chew on. I was amazed to see that with the two stuffed animals, he uses one only for sleeping/cuddling, and the other for chewing and playing. This morning he was sleeping in his box, and when he turned around to the other direction he took the zebra with him for his head.

Now for the pictures!
Worn out from his visit to PetSmart

First feeding

Happy girl!

Sleeping on his zebra toy
As for his name? When my husband and I were first married, he told me about a German Shepherd puppy he bought at a pet store right before he moved out of the state he lived in at the time. The puppy had something that needed to be checked by their vet, though, and wouldn't be ready before my  husband moved. He had already named the dog Angus, but was unable to take him. That was the first name that came to mind for this one, and it stuck.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book review: "Letters To My Mother"

Letters To My Mother is a novel by Rebecca Heath that is written in a memoir style, based on letters the fictional Kate wrote to her mother from college in the fifties. The book begins with a brief introduction, where we learn that Kate has inherited the neglected house her mother lived in, and is cleaning it out to sell when she discovers that her mother kept all the letters ever written to her. She briefly reads letters from old family friends, and the letters her father wrote her mother when they were dating, and then discovers a box with letters she had written to her mother over her lifetime. Then we read the first letter.

The format is different - we get a letter, then narration of the time itself. A majority of the story takes place Kate's junior year of college in Seattle, where she is an anthropology student applying for a job as a typist for a professor. Being fluent in Spanish, she is the chosen candidate. Dr Rosenau is a middle aged (47 to Kate's 19), handsome, charismatic, professor with a German father and Argentine mother. Kate is a military child, who has lived all over the world and attended three years of boarding school in Spain. Despite her background, she is naive and innocent.

Kate and David (Dr Rosenau), become close and after a few months embark on a passionate love affair. They are aided by graduate student Frank, who is a friend to both of them. David teaches Kate to sail, and they spend a lot of time sailing around the bay, and attending concerts and other events together, having a similar taste in the classics. Despite their age difference, they seem to be a well-matched couple and are madly in love. Unfortunately, even though Kate was using birth control, she ends up pregnant and in 1957 the choices for an unwed, pregnant minor were limiting. They decide to give the baby up for adoption, and she flies home to her parents with plans on returning after to finish her schooling. Instead, she never returns and finishes college in California. She and David write each other occasionally, but she eventually meets and marries someone else.

Fast forward 27 years, and she is attending a conference in Seattle and she and David meet for dinner. They immediately fall into bed together, like they've never been apart. At dinner, she gives him photos of their son, now grown and in medical school, and tells of the disastrous meeting with him. They catch up on each other's lives, and decide to remain in contact and continue their affair around the country as she travels for business. Then, the narration switches back to the time of the prologue, and she tells us, the readers, that she kept the letters from her father and herself to share with her children someday.

What I didn't like:
I still am not sure how I feel about this book. It is a lovely story of a lifetime love, that storybook "great love, once in a lifetime." However, David is married with two teenage children. He says that he only married his wife because she was pregnant, although she lied about that and didn't confess until she was actually pregnant for real with their first child. She hates sex, doesn't participate and tells him to hurry up and get it over with, they don't get along, but she likes his money and status and will not grant him a divorce. Their children are only one and three years younger than Kate. Then later, when they decide to continue their affair, Kate is married with two children (David's wife is deceased at that point). She reveals she married him so he could stay in the country, but she also has no interest in divorcing her husband for David. Instead, she suggests the illicit affair again. I have a real problem with this.

What I did like:
Overall, it is an engaging, lovely story that was wonderfully told. Kate really grew and matured, in more ways than one, over that time period. She made horrible mistakes, and she did great things. She was perfectly 19.

I give it three stars, because I just can't get past the whole overlooking the spouses issue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book review: "When Lightning Strikes"

 When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak is the first book in the Whiskey Creek series, stories all set in the small town of the same name. It's a nice, if predictable, romance.

Gail is a publicist in LA. Simon is a big-time movie star with behaviour problems, and Gail has fired him as a client causing her other clients to leave as well. Simon is embroiled in a nasty custody battle with his ex wife, who has used all the negative press surrounding Simon to gain full custody of their young son and file a restraining order against Simon. Not knowing the situation, Gail's assistant drunkenly leaks a false story that Simon sexually assaulted Gail, and the press runs with it. To fix Simon's reputation and win back her clients, Gail comes up with a plan with Simon's manager for Simon to marry someone safe for two years, to clean up his image and his behaviour. The manager agrees, and decided Gail is the only safe option, since they can't trust anyone hired to be Simon's wife won't spill the story to the press for a bigger payout. They marry at the courthouse, and after an injury that was nearly much worse, Gail convinces Simon to leave LA and his work for three months and go to her hometown with her to recover.

What I liked:
Gail and Simon have known each other and worked together for a while, so it's not the typical "Two weeks and BAM we're pledging undying love" scenario that many romance novels use. That's so annoying. Both Simon and Gail are smart people, and good business people. Both are successful in their chosen careers, and it's mentioned that Gail graduated from Stanford with honors after being valedictorian of her high school class. She's not the Hollywood airhead type at all. And, she's a redhead. Ok, I'm a bit biased towards redheads. I also like that Gail's friends and family (a father and older brother, both divorced and a bit skeptical) are protective of her and aren't blindly welcoming of Simon just because he's a famous movie star. Her best friend Callie, and her father and brother give him a really hard time and make him prove himself. The minor characters, who have their own Whiskey Creek novels, are introduced smoothly without seeming like they are being primed for their own spinoffs. Another big thing I liked was after the "big drama event" happened near the end (as it always does in romance novels), when Simon called Gail to tell his innocence, she listened to him. She didn't hang up on him, she didn't collapse in hysterics, she looked at his evidence and helped him solve the problem.

What I didn't like:
There wasn't much I didn't like. I didn't like the predictability, but that's to be expected I suppose. A majority of these types of novels follow a pattern, and the same type of story - fake marriage leads to a real marriage when the couple falls in love - has been told repeatedly. This is just a different version. But still, it's a nice, easy read.

I give it four stars.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book review: "Too Late to Panic"

I like to read - a lot. Many of the books I read are Kindle freebies, usually free for a short time but several are continuously free. I decided to start reviewing the books I finish.

Too Late to Panic is a novella of 47 pages written by C. G. Elmore. It is no longer available on Amazon, but you can find it on Goodreads.

The story focuses on Carolyn, a teacher who was left at the altar some time ago by her fiance, and travels to Texas to visit her best friend Kate and her husband Bobby. Kate sends "Uncle Joe" to pick her up at the airport, and Carolyn is shocked to discover that Uncle Joe is really younger Jonathon, Bobby's brother.  He takes her to Kate and Bobby's house, but the couple isn't home yet and she falls asleep before they return, so she doesn't see Kate until the next morning. She is shocked to discover Kate is pregnant and due in six weeks. Kate didn't want to tell Carolyn at first, since apparently she was in such a fragile state from the failed wedding, and then decided to surprise her when she visited.

 Now for my issues with this book.

First, we have zero back story. We know Carolyn was left at the altar by her fiance, and for some reason related to this she has to find a new job. We have no idea what happened, and if he was the principal at her school? Another teacher? Administrator? He has to be involved somehow because she mentions in the book that he still gave her a good reference for a new job despite what happened with them.

Secondly, Carolyn was supposedly a confident, strong, vivacious woman pre-jilting, and then turned into a scared, jittery, panic-attack-suffering girl who can't make any decisions on her own and has to take lots of naps because she's so delicate. At one point Jonathon mentions her excessive napping to Kate, who tells him she has a "condition" but everything will be fine. He assumes she is pregnant with the ex-fiance's baby, since they never mention the wedding was a long time ago and she acts like it just happened.

Third, and this is my biggest issue by far and the reason behind my one-star review on Goodreads, Carolyn is visiting Kate for two weeks. That's the entire time span of the story. TWO. WEEKS. She first meets Jonathan when he picks her up at the airport (I guess he didn't go to his brother's wedding, even though she remembered everyone else she met at that point five years ago, when she was IN  the wedding and helped the couple move into their house?) They share one brief kiss a couple days in, then he disappears for the remainder of the week. Seriously, the kiss happens on a Tuesday and she doesn't see him again until the weekend because he's ashamed of himself and avoids her. That is when he has the conversation with Kate and assumes Carolyn is pregnant. A few days later (because Carolyn is either shopping with  Kate or sleeping), they actually speak to each other again and Carolyn tells him she is in fact not pregnant and the wedding disaster was too long ago for that to have been the case anyway. She has a phone interview for a new teaching position back in Montana, and accepts the job. Then at the end of her stay, Kate goes into premature labor and Jonathan drives Carolyn to the hospital to be with the rest of the family. After the babies are born by Cesarean, with Bobby pacing the lobby like fathers of decades past, he drives her back home again and proposes to her. And SHE FREAKING ACCEPTS.

Seriously?? You've known this man for two weeks, had a handful of conversations that were mostly misunderstandings, a lot of avoidance on both sides and one kiss. That's enough to fall madly in love, ditch a new job that was supposedly just what you wanted, and move across the country?

Jonathan needs to run far, far away from this girl. Although he's the one who proposed, so maybe they're actually suited for each other and can be codependently blissful for the rest of their lives.

Oh, forgot to mention -Jonathan was engaged at the beginning of the story, and his fiancee even came to the airport with him to pick up Carolyn. Red flag, anyone??

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Breakfast pizza

A couple weeks back, my husband was teasing Sophie, saying we were having pizza for breakfast. The kid loves her pizza. We started thinking, though, and came up with a way to make a breakfast version.


Here is what we came up with:

1 can large crescent rolls (Grands type)
1 can regular crescent rolls
12 eggs, scrambled
1 roll sausage, browned, crumbled, & drained
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (I use the pre-cooked microwave bacon and chopped straight from the package, approximately half-inch cuts.)
1 cup each shredded cheddar and mozzarella

On a large pizza pan (16 in), lay out the large crescent triangles first. Arrange them with the points in the middle, like a wheel. Two horizontal, two vertical, then the ones in the middle. Then use the smaller ones to fill in the gaps and press all the seams together.

Spread the scrambled eggs over the dough, then the sausage. Sprinkle the cheeses all over, and lay the bacon pieces over the pizza similar to how pepperoni is laid out.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

Enjoy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone