Saturday, April 30, 2011

Satisfied Saturday--The Diet Begins!

Okay, I know I haven't shared, but I am in need of losing some more weight.  I lost a good 50 pounds several years ago, and I have mostly kept it off.  I have struggled to get the last 15 pounds off, and in the meantime, I up about 5-10 pounds.  My leg injury did not help this year.  So I have decided to go back on a diet once Martin leaves on Tuesday.  So this week's recipes will be kind of strange.  In fact, expect sketchy posts until after Tuesday.  I have already been shedding tears that I thought I wouldn't share.  I thought I was ready for him to leave.  But more about that later.

I plan to start the Beach Body Workout Plan here, but they do not have it all ready to go.  So I am just going to pick some light meals for this week to kind of get me back in the groove.

Tomorrow, I will be cooking some belly pork with some veggies--this is for Martin.  And then Monday and Tuesday, I will not plan out.  Martin leaves Tuesday, so I am sure we'll go out after taking him to the airport. Wednesday, Martha goes to swimming, so I have Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  I will plan four meals just the same.

Meal 1:  Tomato-Basil Turkey Casserole

              green beans
              French bread

Meal 2:  Biscuit Chicken Gorditas
Spanish Rice/Beans



That should do me.  Till later.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--Just Dance Wii Game review

Tonight's review is inspired by my daughter. Martha is 7, and she earns things from time to time by doing what is expected and doing extra jobs around the place.  Allowance doesn't make much sense to her, so we use jars with pom poms.  She puts them in when she does what she is supposed to.  She takes  them out when she doesn't do what she is supposed to.

At her school, in P.E., the students had been doing Just Dance for Wii.  She was talking about it incessantly, and she made it clear that she wanted this Wii game for her next earned prize.  She finally earned it this past weekend.

I have to admit that I sat and watched her do the various songs.  I was pretty intrigued as I sat watching her.  It was fun to remember songs I had heard, and Martha was doing a great job following along.

Yesterday, I really wanted to do something different for my workout routine.  Martha had been imploring me all week to do Just Dance with her.  I had been too tired, but I decided last night was the perfect night.

I made sure we did the warm-up on the game--she didn't want to, but she knew she had to!  I will tell you that once we started dancing, I was worn out!  These dances will make you work.  You don't have to be good.  You just need to try your best.  And you need to put some energy into yourself.  The more energy you use, the more you will burn.  Martha won each of the "challenges."

I think my favorite still has to be M.C. Hammer's Can't Touch This.  I remember that this song was back in the early 80's, and I remember even back then that I liked this song but I figured I shouldn't.  After all, should a Christian be listening to rap?  And enjoying it!  Man, I used to be so strict.  I'm glad those days are over!

I worked out a good 30 minutes, and I couldn't tell you how many calories I burned.  But I worked out and enjoyed it!  So now between the gym, Wii Fit Plus, and  Just Dance,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley Review

Summary from Goodreads:
In paperback for the first time, the Sisters Grimm take readers to a world where fairy tales are fact and not everyone is who they seem! 

In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files. The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called)—some good and some very, very bad. When a mysterious Everafter sets a giant loose on the town, it's up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day.

The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, #1)The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit I wasn't sure that I would enjoy this book very much.  I like fairy tales to a degree, and I like mysteries, but I knew this was a young adult mystery.  I wasn't sure if the mystery would capture and keep my attention.  This was a book somewhat out of my comfort zone, but I decided to give it a go.

I am happy to report that this book was better than I thought it would be.  It was nice to read a book that had no bad language, sex scenes, nor required very heavy thinking.  It was nice to read about characters I had long forgotten--probably some that most young people today would not know (Puck, most notably).  I was intrigued at how the author put these characters in unusual circumstances and created a world in which they actually lived.  The author created a fairy tale world and explained things in such a way that all the fairy tales I had ever read made sense.

Until I neared the end, I really did not think the mystery would be anything too clever.  It seemed to be pretty straightforward, and I was certain I knew what the outcome would be.  All I can say is that I was entirely wrong!  The author was quite shrewd in choosing to tell the story from the girls' viewpoint.  Seeing things through the eyes of Daphne and Sabrina certainly clouds the real issues.

One of the thing I appreciated the most about this author was the strategic use of chapters.  I am one of those readers who prefers to stop at the end of a chapter.  Usually, a chapter signifies the end of an event.  Not so with this book!  I found myself continuing on even when I reached the end of a chapter.  Each chapter ended with an unfinished event.  I think that is one reason why I finished this book so quickly.

The reason I give this a 3-star rating (3.5 would be my choice if I could give it that) is that it is not more than it claims to be.  It is simply a light, young adult mystery with no real, deep, underlying meanings.  I would say the only thing is does emphasize is the importance of family.  And of course, the normal fairy tale theme of good winning over evil.  But I would recommend this book to anyone who is not too old to remember and appreciate his/her childhood and the world of fantasy.

View all my reviews

Well, I guess I am really behind the times!  It looks like Book 8 in the series has just arrived.  I finally found the author's website.  He also has a page on goodreads.

About Michael Buckley:

New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

While this series is certainly not my favorite, I think I may have to eventually read another one in the series.  Probably the next time I need a break from hard reads!  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--Spotlighting Goodreads Groups

I am sure that most of you know about goodreads.  It is a great site where book lovers, writers, etc. all come together to review books and recommend books.  It is a site that has just about everything you could imagine it relating to books.  You can enter giveaways, add friends, read reviews, see where to buy certain books, see upcoming releases, etc.  It is like facebook for readers.

You may not know about goodreads groups.  I am a member of 4 different book groups, and I have probably received more unusual book recommendations from following these discussions than just about anything.  I thought that tonight I would let you know what groups I belong to, and then maybe you, in turn, could post ones that you belong to.

The first goodreads book group I ever joined was Karl and Clayton's Summer Book Club.  Yes, I am someone who loves Fox News, and I have been facebook fan of Clayton Morris for at least as long as I have lived in Yelm.  I happened to hear him talk about his book group towards the end of last summer, and I joined.  I have participated in a couple of the polls to decide what book they were reading, but I have yet to read any from the group.  But I have saved some to my book lists.  I am sure it will get going again this summer.

The second group I joined was right after I read my first Lisa Kleypas book Secrets of a Summer Night.  I remember that I loved that book so much, and somehow I found the group We Love Lisa Kleypas.  They are always posting some challenge, and this past Christmas, we had secret Santas that recommended books for us to read.  We then followed up with our person a couple months later.  I am participating in the spell May challenge this coming month.  They do much more than just discuss Lisa Kleypas books.  They do at least one group read per month--I have yet to do that, though I want to.  I love reading about the challenges people are doing.

The third group I joined I actually didn't want to join at first.  Someone I didn't know invited me to it, and it was a good month or two before I finally decided to jump in.  And I am so glad I did!  It is the James Mason Community Book Club.  Seriously, this is the most actively diverse group to which I belong!  They discuss every kind of book imaginable!  I don't follow everything they discuss, but their book recommendations are quite intriguing.

And last is the most recent book club I joined.  My favorite genre is historical fiction.  I guess it would make sense that I would join a group called Historical Fictionistas.  They are a massive group to be sure, and I know that almost every book they recommend is one I want to read.  I have not joined any challenges with them yet, but I may eventually.

Now you might wonder how I keep up with these groups.  I have signed up for e-mails to be sent to me so I can follow discussions.  I tend to remain a lurker, but I plan to become more active.  Just give me time!!

So what groups do you follow on goodreads?  I would love to hear what features of the site you enjoy.  I have not begun to explore everything.  Either comment here or do a blog post and leave the link in the comment.  Maybe I will find even more groups to join.

Oh, and by the way, if you would like to send me a friend request, please do so!  I am always looking for new friends.

The Rising Cost of Higher Education

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Flat World Knowledge for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 20 years since I set first went to college.  I remember how difficult it was to get financing back then, and thankfully I paid off my college loans within a couple years of graduating, but I was (and still am) in the minority.

Access to affordable education has never been more important, yet tuition and fees are rising at unprecedented levels, making that access more difficult.  Higher education demographics are shifting; almost half of students are in community colleges, and up to 80% are in public institutions.  There is an increased of displaced workers returning to school.  I can cite examples in my own life (not having a job in spite of a college degree and 13 years of experience in my profession) and those of others (a teacher I know who has been "let go" due to budget costs twice).  Textbooks are also becoming an increasingly important barrier to the completion of education.

I was shocked to discover that students spend and average of $1137 in 2010-2011 on textbooks and supplies, according to the College Board.  According to the Department of Education, textbooks cost almost as much as tuition and fees (72%) for 2-year community college students.  This means that 42% of college costs for these students go to textbooks.  In fact, textbook prices are rising at four times the amount of inflation (Bureau of Labor Statistics--  Goodness, I remember textbook costs being high, but this unbelievable!

As you can imagine, this has a definite impact on college students and their abilities to do coursework and graduate from their respective programs.  According to a Gates Foundation study, this is having a substantial impact on students' ability to complete coursework.  Sixty percent of students who did not graduate report that textbooks and other fees, besides tuition, affected them.  Furthermore, fifty-eight percent of those who did graduate cite the same.  (source--

There is a company that has a potential, viable solution.  Flat World is using technology to reduce cost barriers and increase access.  Pairing open licensing and textbook personalization with a radical price model gives a formula for disrupting and 8.5 billion dollar textbook market.  Books are free online, while offline books cost $35 for print and $25 for other formats.  For the first time, students can choose the format and price point best for them.  My goodness!  If only this had been around when I was going to school!  I remember how heavy all those books were, and the cost always amazed me!  To have had this option would have made my back ache that much less not to say my wallet much happier!

Flat World Knowledge

Flat World is going beyond leveraging technology to reduce cost and using the open license to improve learning materials in two critical ways.

1.  Enabling faculty to change the textbook from a book to a platform.

2.  Enabling the student to consume content that suits their learning style.


Early indicators are showing high trajectory.  Since Spring 2009, Flat World's books have been adopted by 1600+ professors in 900+ schools.  That's equal to over 115,000 students.  Flat World has raised over 27 million over the last two yers in venture capital to build a sustainable model to build open content.  Further, several early pilot studies conducted by colleges using Flat World open textbook have demonstrated a significant (10-15$) increases in course completion rates when open textbooks were used vs. traditional books.

I have a daughter who will one day go to college, and I'm sure you do, too.  Or you at least have special children in your lives.  We can only hope that this company will continue to increase, and maybe one day, college students will use books like this exclusively in their classes.  Not only does it cut cost, but it also is much greener.  No paper waste! Or at least not as much!

Visit their site and request more info



Spread the word

Textbook Rebellion

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Post Again Tonight

Friends, I am not trying to make a habit of this.  I just got done writing a post I had to write to be posted at a later time, and it took up my normal writing time.  Also, my daughter was going to be the reviewer, but she is already asleep.  Things will settle down by next week because Martin will be going back to England.  I am not saying I want him to go back,  but there are always a few benefits--we eat healthier and at normal times.  And my mom finally gets some much-needed rest.  The benefits do not outweigh the bad points, but I should be much more regular on my blog posting.  More like I was this summer!

Thanks for your patience.  My follower base has increased so much that I think I may be able to get more giveaways together for you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Solution Sunday--On Monday

I am actually not going to post for Music Monday--I am in the middle of listening to 2 CD's, and I have some ideas I think I'll pass on to you later this week.  But for tonight, I will update you on my challenges.  I have nothing to update you on my organizing challenge, but I think I have some things to write about my reading challenges.

I am still in Revelation Chapter 1 but learning a lot.  I think when I am through the first chapter of Revelation, I'll post what I am learning.  I am fascinated!

Here is my review of this book I finished last week.  It may not be specifically historical fiction, but I see it as such.

And here's the link to this review that completes the number portion of this challenge.

Thank you for your patience.  Next weekend, I will update my progress completely on all current challenges. Thanks!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Solution Sunday will happen tomorrow night

I guess I have been busy and a little out of it tonight.  I will try to either post in the morning or tomorrow night.  I know my followers won't mind.  Don't forget about my giveaway that ends tomorrow night!  I picked the winner for tonight, and I am just waiting for her response!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Satisfied Saturday--Almost Forgot to Post Tonight

I planned my meals out nice and early today, and I already have done the grocery shopping.  But I almost forgot to post!  Where has my mind been??

Last week's meals are nearly done.  I am carrying one over--Honey Curry Chicken.  I was pleased with Meals 1 and 2, but I thought Meal 3 was just so-so.  Good flavor, but we had old noodles.  I also did not make the dessert.  I made the dessert from a couple weeks ago:  Crockpot Dump Cake.  It doesn't get any easier than this, and it was good!  We didn't use blueberry pie filing since it cost over five dollars a can.  I found canned blackberries in syrup at Big Lots last week, and we thoroughly enjoyed the dessert.  We added cool whip to it.

This week's recipes all come from the following book:

Meal 1:  Lemon rosemary Chicken p. 11
potatoes, asparagus, broccoli

Meal 2:  Orange Beef Broccoli Stir Fry p. 57
Oriental Rice

Meal 3:  Monte Cristo Sandwiches p. 94

Meal 4:  Molasses and Mustard Glazed Ribs p. 108
veggies, corn

Okay, done!  Glad I remembered.  I don't know what I would call this post if I had to wait till Sunday!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--Tess of the D'ubervilles by Thomas Hardy Book Review

I am not going to give a summary of this book because every summary I have seen has spoilers.  Just know that the book is well worth the read.  Read my review, and that should let you know enough about the book to decide whether you would potentially like it or not.  I will tell you that it is a tragedy, and I was completely astounded when I read the ending today!  I did not expect it!

Tess of the D'UbervillesTess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I first heard about this book as a young person, and for some reason, I always thought about this book in a negative light.  I was not even aware that it was a classic book from the late 1800's.  I also had only heard of Thomas Hardy and was mildly aware of his being a British author.

I remember seeing a blog discussion of this book, and I thought it was high time I read it. I was certain I would like it, but I had no idea just how much I would!

From the start, I was absolutely enthralled with Hardy's command of the English language. I always thought Dickens was descriptive in his books, but Hardy is just as good without being dry or dull. I always used to say that most classics (Dickens, Twain, and the like) took about 50 pages before they really got going.  This book captured my attention from the very first page.

In addition to this, I must commend Hardy for painting an intricate (and accurate) portrait of a woman. I do not believe many male authors are able to capture the true spirit of a woman--especially men of this time period. Most women in classic novels are two-dimensional at best unless written by a woman. Not so with Hardy. He captured the heart of Tess in such a way that as I neared the end, I feared for the inevitable to occur. But in all this, Tess never ceased to be a strong woman of the soil who would do whatever she must.

I can only guess that any negativism I sensed concerning this book as a child would be due to some very adult topics within the novel.  I will say that Hardy handled the issues with delicacy and decorum, but the book is certainly not intended for the naive and ingenues of the reading community.

View all my reviews

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840, where his father worked as a master mason and builder. From his father he gained an appreciation of music, and from his mother an appetite for learning and the delights of the countryside about his rural home.
Hardy was frail as a child, and did not start at the village school until he was eight years old. One year later he transferred to a new school in the county town of Dorchester.
Cheddington Dorset
The Dorset countryside
near Cheddington
At the age of 16 Hardy helped his father with the architectural drawings for a restoration of Woodsford Castle. The owner, architect James Hicks, was impressed by the younger Hardy's work, and took him on as an apprentice.
Hardy later moved to London to work for prominent architect Arthur Blomfield. He began writing, but his poems were rejected by a number of publishers. Although he enjoyed life in London, Hardy's health was poor, and he was forced to return to Dorset.
In 1870 Hardy was sent to plan a church restoration at St. Juliot in Cornwall. There he met Emma Gifford, sister-in-law of the vicar of St.Juliot. She encouraged him in his writing, and they were married in 1874.
Hardy published his first novel, Desperate Remedies in 1871, to universal disinterest. But the following year Under the Greenwood Tree brought Hardy popular acclaim for the first time. As with most of his fictional works, Greenwood Tree incorporated real places around Dorset into the plot, including the village school of Higher Bockhampton that Hardy had first attended as a child.
The success of Greenwood Tree brought Hardy a commission to write a serialized novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, for Tinsley's Magazine. Once more Hardy drew upon real life, and the novel mirrors his own courtship of Emma.
Hardy followed this with Far From the Madding Crowd, set in Puddletown (renamed Weatherby), near his birthplace. This novel finally netted Hardy the success that enabled him to give up his architectural practice and concentrate solely on writing.
The Hardys lived in London for a short time, then in Yeovil, then in Sturminster Newton (Stourcastle), which Hardy described as "idyllic". It was at Sturminster Newton that Hardy penned Return of the Native, one of his most enduring works.
Finally the Hardys moved to Dorchester, where Thomas designed their new house, Max Gate, into which they moved in 1885. One year later Hardy published The Mayor of Casterbridge, followed in 1887 by The Woodlanders and in 1891 by one of his best works, Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
Tess provoked interest, but his next work, Jude the Obscure (1896), catapulted Hardy into the midst of a storm of controversy. Jude outraged Victoria morality and was seen as an attack upon the institution of marriage. Its publication caused a rift between Thomas and Emma, who feared readers would regard it as describing their own marriage.
Of course the publicity did no harm to book sales, but reader's hid the book behind plain brown paper wrappers, and the Bishop of Wakefield burned his copy! Hardy himself was bemused by the reaction his book caused, and he turned away from writing fiction with some disgust.
For the rest of his life Hardy focussed on poetry, producing several collections, including Wessex Poems (1898).
Emma Hardy died in November 1912, and was buried in Stinsford churchyard. Thomas was stricken with guilt and remorse, but the result was some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings for his wife of 38 years.
All was not gloom, however, for in 1914 Hardy remarried, to Florence Dugdale, his secretary since 1912. Thomas Hardy died on January 11, 1928 at his house of Max Gate in Dorchester. He had expressed the wish to be buried beside Emma, but his wishes were only partly regarded; his body was interred in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, and only his heart was buried in Emma's grave at Stinsford.
Did You Know?
A rumour has persisted since Hardy's death that it is not the author's heart that was buried beside Emma. The story goes that Hardy's housekeeper placed his heart on the kitchen table, where it was promptly devoured by her cat. Apparently a pig's heart was used to replace Hardy's own. Truth? Fiction? We will probably never know.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Wii Fit Plus Review

Okay, I will be honest.  I was really slow entering into the video game world.  I never owned an Atari back in the '80's.  I never owned any kind of video game system.  I can remember playing my brother's handheld Pac Man game and thinking that was the absolute greatest thing in the world!

And when I babysat my two nieces the summer before I went to college, I got hooked on their old game system--some kind of old Nintendo system.   I was so good at the Bugs Bunny game on there!  I think I played it 4-5 hours a day.  It was the first thing I did and the last thing I did each day.

I didn't play games like that again until getting a computer.  I got hooked on solitaire.  I sometimes played games online out of boredom.  And as my daughter got older, I almost vowed that I would never get her any of the newfangled video game systems.  I finally got her a V-tech Vsmile.

I remember that I had begun to hear about the Nintendo Wii, and Wii Fit Plus was all the rage.  I couldn't imagine working out with a video  game, and I also knew how expensive they were.  My daughter wanted a Wii, but I didn't see it coming any time soon.

Last year, about May or so (when I was just beginning to follow blogs), I got a fantastic deal from Amazon on a Nintendo Wii.  My daughter was so excited--she didn't seem to want to share it with anyone.  So we now owned a Wii Game system, and I had to say I liked it.

I began to research buying a Wii Fit Plus, but I couldn't justify it.  I belong to a gym, after all.  What could it do that my gym in town couldn't?  Well, let me tell you this.  We don't live in town--we live in the country.  It is a 15 minute drive into town.  That is not always convenient.  Especially if we have bad weather or don't go into town one day.  This product has been a lifesaver!  Of course, I had my first and only dog bite while using the system, but I highly recommend it.

My favorite part of the system itself is that it continues to challenge you.  And it will not let you cheat!  It forces you to do the exercise the right way.  What I don't like are the body tests and the way it figures out what your Wii fit age is.  I also don't like it when it says you are overweight!  It's good motivation because you want to lose that excess weight.  The scale is very accurate on it, also.  And the trainer is a nice feature.  I can't stand the male trainer, but the female trainer is great.  My daughter enjoys it, too.  She prefers to do some of the activities--she has greatly improved her balance.  I am still working on mine.

I realize this is an investment.  If you do not have a Nintendo Wii, you have to get that first.  When getting a Wii Fit Plus, you must get the one with balance board.  Don't get the cheaper version without the balance board--it's just not worth it.  Make the investment, and you will find that you can exercise at home just as easily as you can in a gym.

Just so you know, I was not compensated for this review, and they are my own ideas. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday: How To Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes

Summary from goodreads:
"You'll not only break the ice, you'll melt it away with your new skills."--Larry King
"The lost art of verbal communication may be revitalized by Leil Lowndes."--Harvey McKay, author of Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten
Leil Lowndes' How to Talk to Anyone offers101 time-tested hints, tips, and techniques for confidently communicating with others. A bestselling author and renowned communications consultant, Lowndes focuses on ice-breaking skills and communication techniques that are proven successful when making a positive first impression, establishing instant rapport and credibility, and more.
Packed with basic, no-nonsense advice and solid research evidence about which techniques work best in which areas, How to Talk to Anyone show readers how to:
  • Make small talk not so small
  • Use body language to captivate an audience
  • Look like you know what you're talking about--even when you don't.

    How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in RelationshipsHow to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Indeed this book was definitively different than the majority of books I read, and I have to say I am rather glad I was willing to step outside my comfort zone.  Leil Lowndes is a very practical author who gives you all sorts of tricks to help you succeed in the most basic of human interactions--communication.  While I cannot say I could aptly apply all 92 techniques, I must say her ideas gave me a lot to ponder.

    First of all, I am no a business professional.  I have no desire to penetrate the corporate world, and sometimes I think the techniques are geared definitely towards those in that world.  However, I have to say that the techniques detailed in this book do go beyond that. As a teacher, I would not be able to use every one of these techniques in the classroom. (I think she write one for teachers!  I would definitely read it!)  I was quite glad to realize that some of the techniques I already do use.  And that is why I think the students with whom I come in contact like me so well--for the most part.

    Secondly, I would say my favorite part of the book was that the chapters were so short!  I like to read an entire chapter before I stop reading, and it was nice to know that if I had two or three minutes to spare, I could read a chapter.  I also loved the fact that she had so many real world examples.

    And finally, while this book sometimes did not apply to my current situation, if nothing else, it gave me a lot to think about. I had never considered the way I might com across on the phone or how I deal with people's foibles.  I had not considered every contacting a celebrity, but thanks to this book, I think I just might give it a try.  I don't think I could make someone fall in love with me, but I think i could at least go out of my comfort zone in a group of people I do not know.  She has indeed challenged me to put some of these techniques into practice, and I can assure you I shall!

    View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (Ends 4/25) (CLOSED)

I want to welcome you to this wonderful giveaway!  I had such great success with the last one, so here I am ready to do another one.  I will tell you that most of the books are used.  I will describe the condition of each.  Some come from my personal collection while others come from the local thrift store or used bookstore.  They are basically books I have read and can recommend.  If I have not read them, I cannot guarantee that they will be good, but I will furnish a brief synopsis from goodreads for each book possible.  So here goes.

Prize Package #1:
I couldn't find the exact book, but this is the picture on the front of the book Pride & Prejudice which I am giving away.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." 

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the "most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author's works," and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as "irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."

"The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste."
--Virginia Woolf

It Happened One Autumn (The Wallflowers, Book 2)

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
I am jealous!  I have not read this one, and it is the second in her Wallflowers series.  I loved the first.  But I don't have time to read it right now. 
Summary: It Happened at the Ball... 

Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren't entirely "the thing." And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London's most eligible aristocrat. 

It Happened in the Garden… 

When Marcus shockingly -- and dangerously–swept her into his arms. Lillian was overcome with a consuming passion for a man she didn't even like. Time stood still; it was as if no one else existed…thank goodness they weren't caught very nearly in the act! 

It Happened One Autumn... 

Marcus was a man in charge of his own emotions, a bedrock of stability. But with Lillian, every touch was exquisite torture, every kiss an enticement for more. Yet how could he consider taking a woman so blatantly unsuitable…as his bride?

Prize Pack #2

All of these came from the thrift store, but I don't think they have ever been used.Munny Journey - a Keepsake Journal for Baby's First Money This is a keepsake journal for Baby's First Money.  Never seen one of these before.  
Also a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet picture album.  This is not the exact picture, but it is pretty close--no "hunny pot".
  The front of the album is slightly bent.

Wedding Memories: A Day To Remember Forever  I also have this--never used.  These 3 items make up prize package #2.

Prize Package #3:
This package is comprised of a potpourri of kids books.  
Dr. Seuss - One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish  The Cat in the Hat    My Book Of Rhyming Words (Kumon Workbooks)     Summer Link Math plus Reading, Summer Before Grade 1  (This has been written in somewhat by my daughter, but it is still useful.

Prize Packages #1 and #3 are open internationally.  Due to shipping costs, Prize Pack #2 could only be sent internationally if the wedding book were removed.  This giveaway begins as soon as you see this post, and it ends at 9 P.M. Pacific Time on Monday, April 25.  Entires are simple.  I do not require any mandatory entries.  
Here are the entry options:  (Please make sure you leave a valid e-mail address or make it visible in your profile. Also, leave a separate comment for each entry.)
1.  Follow me via google friend connect.
2.  Like me on facebook.  Please leave your user name.
3.  Follow me on twitter.  Please leave your user name.
4.  Share this giveaway in any manner you like.  Please leave any applicable URL's so I may verify it.
5.  Add my button to your blog.  Please leave the link to your blog so I may verify it.
6.  Follow me via e-mail or RSS.

Thank you so much for entering my giveaway.  Be sure to visit all the participating blogs!

(Also if you want to add in which package you would like, you may.  Note that will count as an entry, and you are only allowed 6.  Because so many are already doing this, I will allow this.  But if you have more than 6 entries, I will delete one.  Thanks!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #16

I have two albums to review tonight.  This first one was from the library.  I did not know much about Don Henley, but I knew he was the lead singer of the Eagles.  I had heard a song or two on the radio, so I thought I would give this a go.  There were some stand-out songs, but I have to admit that most of the album seemed mediocre at best.

The Boys of Summer, The Last Worthless Evening, and The Heart of the Matter were great songs, and I think they really stood out.  The song that really offended me (I would not have listened to it if I weren't doing this review) was The Garden of Allah.  I really do despise songs like this are pseudo-religious and sound very evil.

I kind of enjoyed Dirty Laundry--I think that speaks to things now in our world.  If I remember right, You Don't Know Me At All was probably another really great one.  But I cannot say I will be buying this album.  However, he is in the process of working on a country album.

Now to the CD I truly am excited to review.  I have told you before that I am a huge Taylor Swift fan.  I have all three of her albums and her Christmas album.  In the fall, we will  be attending her concert.  I had heard this album when it first came out, but I decided it was time to give it an in-depth review. (If you want to know all the background stories about the album, look here.

Her opening track is Mine.  I will admit that this song was not an instant hit with me.  It took several listens for me to like it. Once I saw the video, I was definitely sold.  It was so nice to a see a more grown-up Taylor.

I find Sparks Fly nice and upbeat, but when it comes to Back to December, I think Taylor struck gold.  I venture to say that this is her finest piece of work to date.  And the video is absolutely breathtaking.  It is neat that this song marks her first apology in a song.

I find Speak Now a really cute song, and you can tell that Taylor enjoys singing it.  But Dear John is quite a song.  It concerns John Mayer--Taylor and he were an item for a while.  I had no idea until I heard this song.  I couldn't believe it.  What was the girl thinking?  I think this song chronicles the story well.

Mean--I had no idea that this was written to the silly critics.  I remember the issues surrounding a less than perfect Grammy Awards performance, but I don't think anyone should judge a singer on those performances.  Traditionally one does not get the best performance during the awards shows.  I guess I would say this "angry" song gets her point across.  It is catchy, and my daughter absolutely loves it.  The Story of Us is a well-written song, and it is poignant and rings true.

Never Grow Up is such a sweet song.  If you follow Taylor at all, you will know she has a little brother, and this song refers to him.  It causes me to tear up as well because I wish my daughter would not grow up!  She'll be a teenager before long!

Enchanted is another nice song that she sings quite well.  But we then come to my personal favorite.  Better Than Revenge.  This is Taylor at her caustic best.  I love the fact that she sings it for Joe Jonas' girl (for whom he supposedly left Taylor).  I wish she would release this as a single, but I would say she probably will not.  It may not make a big hit, but it gets the point across as only Taylor can.

Innocent.  This song is about Kanye West.  If you don't know what I am talking about, be sure to read the top link in this review. He is the one who rudely interrupted her acceptance speech at the awards show last year, I believe. I have to say, she really is nice to him.  Much nicer than I ever could imagine being.

Of the last  three songs, Last Kiss stands out to me.  It is well-written and has a few surprises.  I like Hanted and Long Live are nice, but not as memorable in my opinion.

I highly recommend this album!  Taylor Swift is indeed at her best here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Solution Sunday--Challenge Update, Not a Whole Lot But Better Than Nothing

I have two challenges to update tonight.  I am very busy reading books for other challenges, but here is what happened this week.

No, I do not have my pictures ready yet, but I am happy to report that I am still working very hard on my room.  I hoped to have it done this weekend, but I took my daughter to an Easter Egg Hunt, and then we went to see Soul Surfer (She got sick during it, and we had to leave).  Then I did a 4-hour shopping trip today for my family.  So therefore I didn't get as much done as I would like, but my dressers are organized inside, and my closet has only a couple hot spots yet.  So I am pretty excited about my progress.

As to this week, my plan is to finally finish the left side of my room.  I will then take a picture of it and show you the before and after pictures.  I know that it is best to have pictures every week.  I know I always look for the pictures.  But for some reason, I struggle to get into the habit of taking pictures for my blog.  Maybe I can start the habit this summer so I can continue it when I got back to work.  Forgive my negligence.  Blogging is still a novelty for me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Satisfied Saturday--Using My Springpad

I absolutely loved my recipes from last week yet again.  Still waiting to make the dessert--tomorrow night, I think.  But I am using cherry pie filling since I did not fancy paying over five dollars for blueberry pie filling.

Do you use springpad?  I began to use it when I started following blogs last year, and I love it--especially for saving recipes.  So tonight, I am using some recipes I saved from my springpad.

Meal 1:  Chicken Souvlaki Pie with Tsatziki
             Roasted Potatoes
Meal 2:  Killer Club Sandwich
             French Fries
            Broccoli Slaw

Meal 3:  Johnny Marzetti with Cheesy Noodles
             Green Beans

Meal 4:  Honey Curry Chicken 

Dessert:  Caramel Toffee Cake

That should do it.

Versatile Blog Award--Belated Thanks!

Back on Wednesday, I was awarded the Versatile Blog Award by Honey Pie Accesories.  I have been swamped until now with work and family issues.  

This award does come with some rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the reward and link them back to your post- Check!
2. Tell us 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered new bloggers!
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know they've received the award.

So here goes:

Thanks to Honey Pie Accessories.  I always appreciate being recognized in this way.

7 things:

1.  I am a single mother of an active 7-year-old.
2.  I am a substitute teacher in 10 districts.
3.  I am certified to teach music, humanities, and English as a Second Language.
4.  I have been blogging for almost a year.
5.  I live in Yelm, Washington.
6. My best friend lives in England for 6 months and here with us for 6 months.
7.  I am a classically trained singer.

Now, as I award these other bloggers the awards, understand that you are not expected to pass the award on unless you want to.  This is one point where I break the rules.  I will pass it on to the following bloggers:

Be sure to visit all these wonderful blogs!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--On a Personal Note

Well, this blog began as a personal blog, and tonight I come back to that.  We had a huge blow-up tonight with my dad.  I know I have written before, but I have to say I was the one who really did mess up tonight.  I let my flesh control me rather than the Spirit of God.

I got mad at my dad for lying for the umpteenth time, and I yelled at him and only by the grace of God did I not hit him.  I mean that seriously.  He has intense hatred for Martin, and Martin feels the same way about him.  Martin is not a Christian, so I think it makes sense.  He is controlled by sin.  He is a slave to sin as a matter of fact.  My dad purports to be a Christian.  He has just as much hatred for Martin if not more.

When I got so incensed, I was instantly ridden with guilt.  I cried hard and continued to apologize to God for my behavior.  I was in the wrong in spite of anything else.  It reminded me that any human being is truly capable of anything.  When I apologized to my dad, he insisted that I never would have hit him.  I know I would have.  No doubt.  When our flesh is in control, anything is possible.

It was just last night that Martin and I argued over the statement in the Bible concerning "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."  That is his guiding principle for his life, and he could not understand why my mom and I don't follow that principle since it is in the Bible.  I have to admit I did not give a good response, but God and I worked through the issue last night.  And my study of the first few verses of Revelation confirmed what God had already revealed to me.

In the Old Testament, the rule (which is really the Hammurabi code) is "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."  It was interesting to think about the culture of that day.  Many times back then, a crime would have a consequence that was extremely harsh.  Just like the Arab culture of today.  If one steals, the punishment is to cut off the thief's hand.  This Old Testament rule guarded against such stiff penalties.  The punishment should fit the crime.  That makes perfect sense to me.  Martin even agreed with that.

Why is it that Jesus encourages us to act in opposition to this Old Testament rule?  In the Sermon on the Mount, He says to love your enemies and to do good to those who persecute you.  God revealed a very important truth to me.  As Christians, we may still have the right to follow this rule, but we are asked to give up our rights.  Not easy to do, I know, but not impossible with the Spirit's indwelling.  In giving up our rights, we become a witness of the Lord.  People wonder why we act like that, and then we have the opportunity to give the glory to God.

As I began to study Revelation chapter 1, I studied the word "slave."  I discovered that it meant to voluntarily give up your rights to serve someone with no regard to your own feelings and wants.  Interesting.  Tonight, I decided to stop being a slave, and I did things my way.  And in so doing, serious problems were created.

So what I can say is that I am renewing my commitment to the Lord--to be His slave and voluntarily give up all my rights.  My life is in His hands!
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