2015 Challenges I Am Hosting

PicMonkey Collage

Click on the picture to see more information on the three challenges I am hosting for 2015

*Note this is a sticky post.  This post will stay on top until January 1st.  All new posts are below.

What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey


When once asked “What do you know for sure?” Oprah realized she really had no answer to that question.  She then set out to know that answer.  In short snippets of her life and lessons she has learned, Oprah now shares what she knows for sure.  Themes under such topics as:  joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power, Oprah shares her years from growing up as a poor young girl in Mississippi and the challenges of that time, to where she is now, in a completely different place and the challenges of this time.



I am not a big “Oprah” person.  I do not believe I have ever watched her show, although I obviously know of it.  I have seen a few movies she has been in, and of course have heard of her good doings for others.  That is probably where my interest lies.  I knew of Oprah’s history of generosity, and I was curious what sort of things she would say in a book titles as this one is.  So I dug in.


As mentioned in the synopsis, the book is in little snippets of wisdom.  Wisdom she picked up as a child and dealing with sexual abuse, wisdom she learned as a teen and allowing men to treat her poorly – not physically, but learning about mental abuse as well.  And so on through her life to now, and how to know your own self-worth is not found in the eyes of others – but in yourself.

The book is short and in audio, just a little over 3 hours and Oprah narrates the audio herself.  While it was a sweet listen on one women’s wisdom through the years, I have to say that listening to this I found some of Oprah’s narration to be a bit over enthusiastic – and yes, I hate that I just wrote that.  It is hard to explain, and someone else may listen to the audio and find it delightful how she changed her voice for different situations, or takes on a thick southern drawl when she talks about the foods she loves but to me it broke the flow of the listen.

Again… just me.

Over all, I did find the book enjoyable.  She offered up facts that I know in my heart, but sometimes it is just nice to be reminded.  I think Oprah fans will really enjoy this insight into her life.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 53 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 2, 2014


Morning Meanderings… Much Ado About Nothing


Good morning!  Saturday and I am in St Cloud preparing for day two of our Board Meeting for Camp Benedict.  This has been awesome so far.  Already we have made great strides to what camp will look like in 2015 and I am excited about the teamwork that has gone into those decisions.

Today we will wrap up by early afternoon.  I am going to get ready, load my car, and then head down to the breakfast area to enjoy COFFEE and wait for the rest of the group to trickle down.  My picture for today’s Saturday Snapshot came from the Lounge as we wrapped up our meeting last night:


It was just a funny pic to see Santa sitting at the bar.  He wasn’t drinking anything, but it was still funny…. made we want to think of a caption for the pic :)  He was more than happy to oblige us for the picture.

Heading home this afternoon…. have a project I am working on for Christmas and I am excited to get started. :)


The Innovators by Walter Isaacson


There are certain names in our lives and in our history that stand out as innovators…. those who had the ideas and the knowledge to move us forward in the computer and internet world.  Names such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page, may ring a bell and that is just to name a few.

From computers first being thought of, to making them affordable and available to everyone.  To the invention of blogger, twitter, and more, Innovators shares with you the ups and downs on the wired (and wireless) world we live in.


I have always been fascinated with those who can come up with an idea, run with it, and make it work.  I think I have watched the Facebook movie about 10 times, read about Steve Jobs, and listened to audios about the inventions of gaming sites and Twitter.  Innovators, was the obvious next choice.

‘Visions without execution are hallucinations.’


I of course loved some information more, such as the whole creation of blogs was interesting.  I love that they said they were so surprised how it took off and how everyone had something to say about something!  Isn’t that the truth!

It is also interesting to hear about the behind the scenes of the powerful people… the fights… the terminations…. the brains…. none of it came easy.

Walter Isaacson writes a well informed book.  I enjoyed this on audio, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris, it was well read.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 17 hours and 28 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: October 7, 2014



Morning Meanderings… On The Road Again.


Good morning!  It is Friday!  The last Friday before Christmas!  EEP!  I think I have everything pretty much planned but you know how that goes… making a list, checking it twice…

Today I leave for St Cloud, about an hour away so not a major trip.  I have a board meeting for Camp Benedict that starts this afternoon and will go until late tomorrow afternoon.  The board will be staying overnight at the hotel we are meeting at and having dinner together which will be nice as  we do not usually have a lot of “hang out and get to know you time”.

Of course… it is taking two days out of my Christmas planning but the trip to St Cloud does give me some time to check out a couple of stores in the area.

I do have reviews ready to go up and will have time to “stay in touch” so really, it is not like I will be gone at all :)

Morning Meanderings…A Fun Win and There’s Always Toast


Good morning.  I am here this morning in my home.  It is gently snowing outside, my head is still filled with funk but I am trying to push through it… I can not change the things out of my control… I can only pray for peace and the ability to move forward.

And then I thought, well at least there is toast. :)  Toast would be good… warm with coffee, maybe a little peanut butter on it and a little honey….

and then I remembered that we had chicken wild rice soup a couple of nights ago and we had company… and the bread was eaten.  All of it.


no toast.


Well, I do have a winner. :)  A couple of weeks ago I posted a quiz for those participating in the Harry Potter Readalong.  It was a quiz on the Chamber Of Secrets and it was fun to create it.  The questions came from things I learned as I read the book.  Things I either never picked up on or had forgotten.  Here are the questions and the answers:

(*Yes possible spoilers if you have never read the book)

1.  How did Harry and Ron miss the Hogwarts Express?  They were unable to get through the barrier to 9 3/4 (later to be discovered that Dobby had put a spell on it)


2.  What did Ron have to do for detention for driving the car to Hogwarts?  He had to polish all the trophies in the trophy room with Filch.


3.  What did Harry have to do for detention for being in the car driven to Hogwarts?  He had to answer Professor Lockheart’s fan mail.


4.  What was the letter called that Ron received from his mother about taking the car?  A Howler


5.  What is the password to the Slytherin common room?  Pure Blood


6.  What healed Harry’s arm in the Chamber?  Fawkes tears


7.  How many points did Ron and Harry each earn for solving the Chamber Of Secrets?  200 points each


8.  How was Dobby set free?  Harry tricked Lucius into giving Dobby a sock


9.  What did Ginny see her brother Percy doing that he did not want anyone to know about?  He was kissing (snogging!) Penelope Clearwater


10.  Where did Harry go at the end of the school year?  Back to the Dursley’s


Thanks to everyone who took the quiz!  It had a great turnout and for the most part everyone had the answers right.  The hardest question appeared to be the points that Ron and Harry won, that one had a lot of different answers.

Our winner, using RANDOM.ORG is…

Hannah from Wordlily!

YAY Hannah!!!  I am emailing the gift card this morning!

Watch for more quizzes and fun Harry Potter things coming up as we continue the readalong.  Winners do need to be participants in the readalong – you can sign up here.


Today – I need to go shopping apparently :)  I require…. toast.

2014: The Books That Made My Year!


2014… what a year of great reads in both book and audio format!  A few days ago I posted my highlights for 2014, but I did not post about the books.  Now in this roundup, here are the books that made my year of reading even better.


Me before youEarly in the year, The Bookies Book Club read and enjoyed a heavy discussion because of the book Me Before You.  This book is about Will, a quadriplegic young man who lost his vibrant active life to an accident.  Enter Lou, a girl hired to be a companion to Will, spend time with him, talk to him and honestly, keep an eye on him.  The book is incredibly engaging, definitely opinion enhancing, and over all an excellent read for yourself or for a group discussion.


In March I discovered The Martian on another blog and loved the idea of it.  I listened to it on audio and Th Martianloved it from the very first line.  Log Entry:  Soul 6:  “I am pretty much f*****.”  When Mark Watney is one of the first people to walk on Mars that was pretty cool.  The fact that he may also be the first person to die on Mars…. not so cool.  Wonderfully narrated by R C Bray, The Martian is all about one man’s journey of trying to get back to earth. It is so down to earth (no pun intended) and just a fun fun listen.



Love LifeLove Life by Rob Lowe is one I had to think about before I added it to this grouping.  Not because it was not worthy, but I had to consider if it really was best of the best.  It makes the list because Rob Lowe’s autobiography’s have both been excellent to listen to.  Rob is an amazing narrator and as someone who grew up in the 80’s, I really enjoy hearing about his life. While Rob’s first book was more about his childhood and getting involved in movies, Love Life is more of a look at where he is now as a husband and father… and that is pretty darn cool.


Don’t you just love books that make you go “WHOA!” and you know you need to read again at some We were liarspoint just to get the full impact?  We Were Liars is such a read.  This book centers around 4 teens Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat who spend their summers at a beach house belonging to a grandparent.  When Cady wakes up naked on the beach she has no idea how she got there… and for whatever reason, her family is not giving her the details either.  Everyone in fact seems to be treating her as though she is fragile….  We Were Liars is a definite do not miss!


DeliciousFor the Foodie Book Lovers ( ME! ME! ME!) Delicious by Ruth Reichl offers up a fun fictitious (sort of) read about a girl who takes on a job at a food magazine as the person who handles the complaint calls.  It is an incredible read and after hearing Ruth Reichl speak at the Book Expo this year I discovered that not all in the fiction read is fiction. ;)  I highly recommend this book.  I listened to it on audio and it was wonderful.



Little Mercies is a hotbed topic and I devoured this book!  Ellen Moore is a Social Worker who has seenLittle Mercies the worst of people and their actions.  Yet when an early morning call involving children and domestic dispute calls Ellen to the scene, she finds herself on the other side of her position.  Accused of child endangerment, Ellen finds everything to turn full circle and now she may lose everything.



the young worldIt wouldn’t be a full roundup unless I included something from one of my favorite genres, YA.  When I first discovered The Young World it was from a poster in the women’s bathroom at the Book Expo this year.  No kidding.  The poster said, “Flush while you still can!” and I knew I had to find the book.  Wrapped around a dystopian world,  a group of teens set out in the dangerous terrain of New York to try to find some sort of relief to this new world.  Crazy awesome good… you know I am waiting for it to become a movie!



A little known title (from what I have seen), Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer amazed me and sucked me right in.  I thought it was belzharbrilliant and gushed about it to everyone I knew and probably a few people I did not know.  A YA setting, Jam is sent to a school for kids who are going through a hard time.  With the sudden loss of her boyfriend, Jam has had a hard time coping in the real world.  When their teacher assigns them the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath to read and a leather bound journal to write in weekly, Jam thinks things can not get much lamer.  Yet there is something amazing that happens when she writes in her journal, and when she opens up tot he other students, she finds out they are all experiencing similar happenings.  Belzhar should remain on your list of books out keep an eye our for.


silent sisterThe Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain not only blew me away… it opened my eyes to a whole lot of great reads by this new to me author.  The Silent Sister is Diane Chamberlains newest release about a girl names Riley who’s older sister had committed suicide when Riley was very young.  After Riley’s father passes away, Riley returns to the home of her childhood to prepare his home for sale when she comes across some papers that may very well mean that her whole life has been a lie.  Breathtaking twists and turns – treat yourself to this author and this book!


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There it is.  That is my great reads of 2014.  There are obviously many books that I never got around to reading that may very well have been on this list if I had made it to them.  Perhaps next year… :)


Morning Meanderings On Line Friendships/Connections Are AWESOME!


Hey all.  Mid week already!

So lately I have been a bit melancholy.  Or I guess as Michelle from Gilmore says, I have ennui.




I am in a bit of a funk… have a few things going on that are weighing on my heart and I find the holidays a bit hard anyway.  And while all this is going on….

Little treasures come in the mail…





Thank you Donna at Writer Side Up and thank you Jennifer at Literate Housewife.


and then I received this comment on a book review I had written a while back:


Sheila, just a little note to thank you for encouraging me to read Jodi Picoult’s book “Leaving Time”. Not for the first time, you placed a book in my path. I never read books about ghosts, but, this time, I did. I wasn’t disappointed and along the way I learned a lot about elephants. In your review you said “you are in for a treat and I must tell you do not miss this book!!!” You were absolutely right. Thank you.


and then I received an email from an author thanking me for reviewing his book and saying that when he read my review he literally jumped out of his chair in excitement, punched the air and did this:

Ok… that made me laugh.

Thank you online friends, fellow book lovers, authors, publishers, and anyone else I may have missed.  Your comments of course make me smile… when you engage in this crazy online world with me I have to thank God for such an amazing way to communicate.

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

The Snow Queen, Michael Cunningham, Book Journey

November 2004.  Barrett Meeks has once again lost love.  While walking through Central Park he looks up at the sky and sees a bright light almost like an eye watching him from the sky.  While Barrett does not believe in God or a superior being, he can not deny what he has seen.

Barrett’s brother Tyler at this time, is trying to write the perfect love song for his terminally ill soon to be wife.  It needs to be the perfect sentiment of love.

While Barrett turns towards faith after his night of seeing the light, Tyler believes that only drugs can bring him the creativeness he needs to write music.  Both brothers searching…. for something more.



I wish I could say I loved this book.  I can say, I love the idea of this book.  I am not sure what did not work for me but I just did not get into it the way I know I do when I really enjoy a good read.  I liked Barrett’s story line and perhaps I was hoping for more.

At the end of the audio (and I would believe the book as well) there is an interview with the author that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Hearing the vision for the book through him, I almost with that interview would have been in the beginning of the book as I feel it may have flowed better for me with that knowledge.

I think this is one of those, it is not the book, it is me things :)

Narration by Claire Danes was wonderful.  Just another of her many talents!



  • Audio CD: 6
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (May 6, 2014)


Morning Meanderings.. New Look To A LONG Overdue Room


Good morning!  Happy Tuesday to you!  Yesterday was an odd day in Minnesota.  It has been around 50 degrees over the weekend and all our snow was gone.  Then yesterday afternoon it rained HARD for a few hours and by evening it turned to snow.  Now we probably have about three inches on the ground again.  *sigh*  Minnesota.


Over the weekend I painted our living room.  It was a LONG TIME coming.  When it was painted 10 years ago (I know, I know…) I never really liked it.  It was a pinky, rosy…. well you will see…. anyhoo…. I have no idea what took me so long to change it…. but here it is… before and after:


(Above)  This is before.  The one wall… bottom right, is the wall that leads downstairs, the large space I painted about a year ago.  I did not like that wall either.



After!  Oh my gosh I LOVE IT!!!  It is a rich chocolate color.  It is officially called Study Brown (boring name!) but to me it is chocolate.  It is a much warmer color and I love just sitting in the room and looking at it.  Yes… I just look at it.

Funny note… I never tell Al (hubby) when I am taking on a project.  I just do it.  When he came home Sunday evening he looked in the living room and he says, “Oh, where did that table come from?”  (Referring to the table that I moved from one side of the recliner to the other….)

I responded, “Is that all you notice?”

Al looked carefully around the room and could not pick out any other change.

*sigh*…. 4 1/2 hours of painting and arranging and nada….


Today I am working off a check list of things to do.  Why does it keep getting longer???  It is our oldest sons birthday and he is coming over for dinner tonight.  I have errands to do in town, and clothes to drop off to charity.  I am on a de-clutter mission.  It will be an audio day.  :D  (Although last night I did start Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)  Give it up for the Harry Potter Re-Read along!!!!

Brutal Youth by Anthony


St. Micheal’s Catholic School has stood for decades but now appears to be on its last legs.  With a plunging reputation as well as budget things are not looking good for the future.  Now even the selected students seem to be of a lesser value, a group of delinquents all trying to find their place before they are popped out into the real world.

Peter Davidek comes to the school his freshman year following in his fathers footsteps. On this very first day Peter gets a real sense of the school when a student snaps and throws himself off the roof.  The faculty looks the other way when in comes to the real problems of the school and Peter is seeing first hand that it is every man for themselves.

Peter friends a boy named Noah Stein who has a strange burn mark on his face, and a pretty but troubled girl named Lorelei.  The trio starts out working together to keep bullies at bay, but even their friendship is tested by the upper class men and the popular students.  And what about the mysterious girl named Hannah, the one that everyone says to avoid at all costs as she has no friends and she is always watching always taking mental notes for the day when she will unleash all the secrets she has collected over the years of students and teachers alike…

and why does she have her eye now on Peter?

Brutal Youth is a hard book to describe.  In one way I think it is a little like Lord Of The Flies, and in other ways it is like The Chocolate War.  It is about right and wrong, defending what you believe is right no matter what the consequences. It is about that crazed teacher that had it all as a student and let it slip away who now looks at her misspent youth as a personal revenge on this new generation. It is secrets and lies… friendships and enemies…  relationship status and self value.There are many lessons within these pages and I don’t think it matters what your age is to appreciate them.

I found Brutal Youth to read like a jagged edge, both dangerous and strangely exciting.   I kept digging into this book every chance I had to see the outcome. It is a crazy wild book that is great for discussion.


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