It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


A reminder –It’s Monday! What Are You Reading has a new home!  Kathryn at The Book Date has graciously taken on the meme to keep the torch going strong.  YAY  Kathryn!!!

So…. what am I reading?  I am actually excited to let you know that I AM READING.  That may seem like no big deal but I have been listening to a lot of audio this year and very little reading books.  Thanks to that Arizona trip a couple of weeks ago I needed a book for the plane and I found one…


Wildalone is a little bit YA… a little bit paranormal…. and interesting.  I am enjoying this “escape” read.


As far as audio…. well, I am almost always listening.  Here is what is currently “ON” either in my car, on my phone, or in that old school CD player I keep on the kitchen counter because that is just how cool I am.  ;)


I have never watched Mindy Kaling on tv.  I have heard of her, and heard good things about her book so here goes.  Or I guess I should say “hear goes”as I am listening to this one.



My fascination with Steve Jobs continues.  I know he wasn’t always the nicest man… but he sure was a brilliant one.


As for what is next up… honestly I don’t know.  I have so many “I want to” reads… and my life… well I just don’t know day to day so keep things pretty low key and try to take it quite literally one day at a time.  The fact that I am even participating in It’s Monday is a “yay” for me. :)  Lets just say I had a little encouragement yesterday in an unexpected way that told me I needed to write.  This… is writing.

At least it is a beginning.  And I am DOING.

Please go and check out what others are reading by looking at It’s Monday What Are You Reading.  I know I need to go and see what the books are that are AWESOME this season.   I am sooooo out of the book loop :)

Morning Meanderings…. Do or Do Not…There Is No Try


My son Justin absolutely adored WORDS.

I so loved that about him because he really was the male version of me.  Words fascinated him as they do me.  I love sayings and quotes.  His apartment had signs everywhere…. BRILLIANT sayings that spoke volumes.  So odd now that these signs are now in my home… I can hear him saying them out loud, I can hear him sharing their power.

Book Journey, Justin DeChantal

Book Journey, Justin DeChantal

His optimism and the way he looked at life really fuels me now when honestly there are times when I can see where being a shut in not dealing with the outside world is appealing.  It is hard every day to step out of this house watching people all over going about their lives while I feel my heart is too heavy to even move.  It is a battle I struggle with daily as I make myself go out and do things and stay active in our community. I want to continue to be who I once was (though my life is altered forever).  I want to do it for me and I want to do it for him.  Justin loved my involvement in the library, in camp, in crazy runs…. one of the last texts he sent me said

You are the coolest person I know.

There seems to be this constant dialogue in my head where I am processing this new world from the very first moment everything changed to now.  I do believe I will start writing it down.  Some I already have in journals and even at times on Facebook…. but this journey… is a long one.  In fact I am pretty sure it is a life long commitment.

He had the below magnet on his fridge.  I love the saying and now have it on my fridge to remind me that I can believe in impossible things.  As the wise Yoda once said…. “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Book Journey, Justin DeChantal

This week, I attended a funeral of a man I went to Honduras with.  He was 41.  His young wife stood before the church filled with friends and family and in her strength she said, “Do not wait.  If you feel called to do something then do it.  Don’t wait for retirement, or for the kids to be grown, or whatever excuse you have.  Just do it.  Because we don’t know if we have tomorrow.  Do what you believe you are meant to do. Do what you feel God is calling you to do. Do it now.

Same message…

different words.

One book came in the house this week.  It looks to be a good one…

Book journey, justin dechantal whistling women kelly romo

For the record.  I am choosing to DO.

I am still here.

Morning Meanderings… What To Do With A GORGEOUS Sunday….


It is beautiful out today.

I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am that we have this extended Fall.  The back door to our deck is open to let in the breeze… I am typing away still wearing Capri’s and flip flops.

Oh, if this weather could just hang on!

Today I have spent a little time cleaning the kitchen while listening to audio.  Soon I will be leaving for town to participate in a charity benefit walk for a good friend of mine’s niece who has a rare cancer.  Lainee, is 4 years old.  I will be walking with my cousin and a few friends and I like that community feel.  (Another Stars Hollow moment!)

Here is a link to Lainee’s page so you can see more about her story:

Lainee Brainerd Minnesota, book journey

Click photo to see sight


This afternoon I will be going to the movie The Martian with my hubby and I am SO EXCITED!  I loved the book and I have heard good things about the movie.

As far as what is happening in the literary world… A few books have come my way this past week:


Along The Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams (excited about this one!)

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Strength To Stand by Sheyna Galyan

I Love My Hair by Andrea Pippins (a coloring book of braids, coils, and Doodle Dos)  FUN!


I have our Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library meeting tomorrow morning ans we have some EXCITING things to go over…including a new event on the 2016 agenda that I will share more about soon!  Tuesday is our Bookies Blook Club meeting and we will be discussing Delicious by Ruth Reichl, a book I read and enjoyed a couple of years ago and our second time the book club has reviewed a Reichl book, the first was Garlic and Sapphires (where we dressed up as Ruth did for her job…. great review!)


That’s my day.  That’s my start to the week.  What are you reading today?  What are you doing with your Sunday?

Saturday Snapshot… #OShucks #Benches


Saturday.  I am sitting here this morning with my coffee cup and a lot of tears.  One of Justin’s good friends just posted a picture on Facebook of him sleeping.  I LOVE that these great pictures keep popping up… yet as you can imagine… there is sorrow mixed in.  My loss at times is so overwhelming.  All consuming.

Last Friday, my friend Amy and I took a little break from it all and hopped a plane to Arizona.  While it may have appeared to be impromptu, it definitely was planned around a significant event.  The dates we were gone, October 30th – November 3rd, were the exact dates that Justin and I would have been on our annual trip to Florida.  HUGE significance.  Incredibly HARD to do… yet glad I did.

For today’s Saturday Snapshot, I want to give you a little peek into our trip.  Fill your COFFEE cup.  Sit back.  Enjoy.

book journey, Arizona

We stayed at a beautiful home of a friend with this nice patio area and a pool.



PicMonkey Collage

We did a little hiking on the Camelback Mountain which was close to where we were staying.  When we went we thought it would be a nice walk with a great view…  uhhhh yeah.  In case you can not see that sign in the middle of the above collage it says:


Of course… this did not stop us.  As you can see above in the bottom right picture… I am climbing behind Amy… I told her I looked like Gollum climbing through the hills in the Hobbit movies.  ;)  We went about 3/4 of the way up. It was STEEP for sure and we both would have liked to finish the climb but the sun was HOT and we had hoped to go to the Botanical Gardens and would not be able to do both… so down we went.  Hopefully we will have another attempt at this one.


PicMonkey Collage2

Then we had an opportunity to hang out with a friend, Tami, who used to live here in Minnesota and moved to Arizona.  Tami picked us up in Mesa and drove us in her cute car up the Superstition Mountain to a restaurant for lunch.  The walls were covered with dollar bills which is significant for me as this is a tradition Justin and I had on our trip to put a dollar up in a little Irish pub called O Shucks.  I cried when I seen the walls covered with bills.  We each wrote on a dollar bill and added it to the wall.  This was amazing.


So what is up with the hashtags?

I am so glad you asked!  Our first year that Justin and I went to Florida, we found this little Irish Pub (as mentioned) called O Shucks.  We loved putting a dollar up on the wall and we each did so every year we went, 3 years, and hash tagged the dollars…. #Oshucks1, #oshucks2, #oshucks3…  this year would have been #oshucks4.  I will be sending a dollar to O Shucks in Orlando Florida asking them to hang the dollar for us this year and to please email me a picture of it.  I would love to keep up the tradition.

#Benches came out of this year.  Amy and I both took a hard loss, me with Justin, and she recently lost her dad.  I have a bench in Justin’s memory at the Brainerd Library, and her dad will have one at a local park that he had a garden in.  We talked about the benches in honor and memory of our loss and in a way we were benches for each other… supporting one another and honoring the memories.  Thus…. #benches came to be and we hope that we too will be able to add numbers to it…. #benches2, etc…

I really think Justin would love that and I know he would be cheering me on… “Go Mom!  You got this!”  Thank God for Justin’s voice in my head…. Justin and I talked so much about everything I know what he would be saying now as I try to navigate my way through this new world.  This journey is much like Camelback mountain.  It is extremely difficult.  It does have loose dirt and rocks and for sure uneven surfaces. At times, it feels impossible..

but I believe I can do it.

Sheila DeChantal, book journey

Arizona 2015. #oshucks4 #benches

Stop by Saturday Snapshot and see what others around the world have been taking pictures of.  Soon I will post the food of Arizona because… oh yes, we had some delicious experiences.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

The admissions, meg mitchell moore, sheila dechantal


Gabe and Nora Hawthorne are living the life.  They both have successful careers, Gabe works with a Tech Firm and Nora is a Realtor for the upper class of Marin California.  They have three daughters and to the outer world this white-toothed perfect smile family with the right house and the right cars looks as thought they have it all…

Angela is on a straight path to Harvard (it is where her dad went!) her grades are exceptional, there is nothing in her way… but had anyone given any thought to what Angela wants, including Angela herself?

10-year-old Cecily loves to dance but one false move changes everything

Maya is in second grade and can not get the grasp on reading. Could this have anything to do to with the secret that happened to her as a baby?

Nora excels at her job… but her clients can be problematic and sometimes – sometimes,Nora longs for am easier way

Gabe loves what he does but a woman he works with could tear his whole world apart… should he confess what he has done?


Each of the Hawthorne’s have something to admit… and that is what makes Admissions a fun reading adventure. ~ Sheila


I listened to Admissions on audio and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The play on the word admission just added to my enjoyment.  It is not often I find a book title to be as perfect as this one is to the story line.

Listening to admissions you could imagine the anxiety this family had as they all tried to hold their corner of the picture perfect outlook up to standards.  Yet, as in most cases of what appears to be perfect or… those who appear to have it all – not all is as it seems.

I really enjoyed what I thought was going to be a story based mainly on Angela and her admission to Harvard, but it is sooooo much more. With each member of the family having admissions of their own, this witty read is one not to miss.

Narrator Allyson Ryan did a wonderful job of portraying the heart of this story.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 34 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: August 18, 2015


Morning Meanderings… A New Chapter


7 months today.

Every time I make it to a significant date I am amazed that the days have gone by without Justin.  It is still so hard to imagine life without him here for the holidays, ready to do some crazy run with me, or even his voice on the phone… checking in or wanting to tell me something amazing.

The void…

is unimaginable.

I have been quiet on this blog as of late.  There are many days where just keeping my mind busy by doing projects and yard work or keeping up with friends and family fill up the time and before I know it, when I meant to post… I never did.  I still have reviews to write, and admittedly I have missed blog tours I should have been a part of.

I am not giving up on Book Journey as I enjoy this outlet for thought and updates and book chats.  I think of Book Journey often and how much history is here in the 6+ years I have gathered up book thoughts and happenings… and even shared part of my life here, even times with Justin which I know I could go through the amazing happenings tab through the years and find us both at a mud run or on an obstacle course…. or certainly at Harry Potter World in Orlando.

I totally digress from what I planned to say today….

basically… I am still here.  I returned from Arizona last night where my friend Amy and I went over the dates I would normally be with Justin.  It was crazy hard in an unnoticable-to-the-naked-eye kind of way.  Each morning I had to just breathe and say out loud that this was for him.  I hated doing it without him and at the same time.., I had no choice.

Hopefully the rest of this week will consist of writing reviews  and sharing some fun bookish happenings. I like the sound of that.  Enjoy your morning… I am due for some COFFEE about now.  :)


Amy and I on the Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale Arizona. More pics to come soon.

Saturday Snapshot – The Empty Bowls Fundraiser


I am still here.  Sporadic at best… and I guess that is my life now… but here.

Today is a dreary cool fall day in Central Minnesota.  The sky is overcast.  The air is damp. A slight chilling breeze makes this ideal sweater wear or a light jacket.

It is definitely soup weather.

I guess that makes today a perfect day for the Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser here in Stars Hollow, Brainerd.  One of the many MANY things I love about our community is how we help one another.  Today’s fundraiser is a combination of two non profits (I LOVE this!), our local Soup Kitchen teaming up with our Crossing Arts Alliance.

How does that work?


Artists have donated beautiful hand made bowls to the event.  Local restaurants have donated the soups and bread.  For $20 you get to choose a lovely bowl for yourself, mingle with the locals, and enjoy delicious soup.  The $20 goes to the Soup Kitchen…. keeping food in everyone’s tummy is important.

So for today’s Saturday snapshot I wanted to show you pictures of some of the gorgeous bowls that have been donated by our local artists:







PicMonkey Collage

Gorgeous right?  I can’t wait.  I am off to get ready now.  I am going with my cousin and a few friends to taste the soup and get out of the house for a bit.

Tonight I will be making soup I just have not decided what kind to make yet.  Perhaps I will be inspired today…. of course, you can always give me ideas in the comments below as well… or perhaps Weekend Cooking has something delicious in mind….

Have a lovely Saturday!

After You by Jo Jo Moyes

jo jo moyes, after you, me before you, book journey

*Note:  Sequel to Me Before You


When Louisa Clark had to say good bye to Will Trayner… her life changed forever.  After all, how does one return to a life that no linger feels satisfying?  Where the air is almost un-breathable?  For three years Louisa has gone through the motions of creating a pretty much solitude life.

When a freak accident causes Louisa to move back in with her parents she feels what little control she was clinging to slip away. As she heals, Louisa knows things need to change.  After promising her dad to attend the Moving On support group, Louisa meets Sam,  a paramedic who’s very job seems to lay between life and death.  As Louisa becomes more comfortable sharing in the group, she wonders if it is possible to have feelings for someone else.

Then, a young girl comes to Louisa’s home one day – and her very existence turns everything upside down once again.


“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”


When my book club read Me Before You in February of 2014, it lead to quite an interesting discussion and strong opinions on both sides of the story.  In a nutshell, while we didn’t overall like everything about the book – we did enjoy what the book brought to the table.

In most reads that leave an ending somewhat open, we, as readers are given the liberty to decide what happened next to our beloved characters…. occasionally… we will be lucky enough to have the author chime in on what did happen… and in this case that is what we are allowed to discover in After You.

When I first heard that there would be this follow up book I was so excited.  I wondered where Louisa would wind up and how she would go on with her life now having had the incredible experience she just had.  In this sense, Author Jo Jo Moyes does not disappoint.  In fact, we are taken on yet another roller coaster ride as Moyes churns out events that are not the norm-  and for that I am grateful.

As a follow up read, After You is satisfying.  I did not find it to be the discussion worthy journey that Me Before You was; and I do not believe I will recommend this to our book club to read and discuss together, however –

if you have read Me Before You and enjoyed it, After You is like an after dinner mint… just a little something nice to complete the meal.

I enjoyed After You on audio and found narrator Anna Acton to be the perfect voice for such a listen.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Release Date: September 29, 2015





It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


Happy Monday!  If you notice above.. that is not my meme button, and that would be true… in fact, it is the meme button for Katherine at Book Date who graciously has offered to take up this meme for me.  It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading will continue at her blog and I hope you will join in there.


still come visit me :)


What have I been reading?  In my case it has been more listening…. working on fall projects has kept me moving but I have been enjoying audio and that is what I will share here.

This past couple of weeks I have listened to:



Interestingly enough I have never been a Joan Rivers fan, but was curious about who she really was and how she became… well, Joan.  Review to come this week




A Middle Grade listen that was interesting and definitively I have some things to say about… review to come this week



OOH I enjoyed this one very much!  Cant wait to tell you all about it!


I am behind on reviews… there are more that this, but these are the latest listens.


Listening to currently….



Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.


I just started this one yesterday while buzzing around my kitchen making dinner and cleaning up from canning.  So far… so good!




An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.


Listening to this one in the car and enjoying the narration and story line.



How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .


I read and LOVED Me Before You with my book club.  Now this interesting sequel has made it’s may into my audio listening. 



a week+ ago I showed pictured of my haul from our fall library sale and offered you to pick my next read and to win the book you picked if I chose your name.  The winner of this first round for the books is Michelle from Book Chat who chose ‘The House Girl’ out of the pile.  SO…. this week I will start The House Girl and then pass it to Michelle when I am done.


The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.


That is my reading.listening plan for this week.  I will be finishing up canning in the next couple of days here and then putting away all of great grandmother’s canning gadgets for another year.  This week I will transition out of the fall preserving of the crops to refinishing an old table for a friend, cleaning out the garage, and preparing for (hopefully) my first crocheting lesson.  EEP! Between that there will be meet up with friends, a lunch date or two, and some planning for 2016 events.  All good things to keep my mind busy and my heart full.

Have an awesome week everyone and please link up your own It’s Monday post to Book Date and cheer Katherine on as she makes this meme her own. :)

Bookies Review, Food, and Getting Into Character With Gone With The Wind


There is a reason our book club has a wait list.


are a ton of fun.

We always enjoy taking our reads to the next level through excellent discussion not only on book, but author as well, often food to go with what we read, and occasionally (my favorites) we dress up.

When we chose Gone With The Wind for our Annual Classic Read I was so excited about the possibilities for dressing the era.  When the buzz started with the girls saying they would make curtain dresses, having never read the book before I was thrilled with their enthusiasm…. making dresses!  Way to go Bookies!!!

And then…

I was sent a link to the Carol Burnett spoof on the book…

Ahhh….. what exactly were the Bookies going to do?

There was a little buzz on our Facebook page.  They were havig trouble finding used curtains for their dresses. I went to a Halloween shop and found mine …. it was called Goth Vampire but I figured if Scarlett could be who she was… she certainly could also be goth.

So book review night comes.  I had it at my house, converted to the Plantation Tara for the evening.  And as the girls entered… I was impressed with their creativity..


The Bookies…

do not disappoint.

As you can see in the picture… several made the curtain dress!  Kathy (far right in white) even had the curtain rod in hers!  Between using old curtains, buying curtains, dressing in an ere looking dress, and being creative….

the Bookies take on Gone With The Wind like pro’s!  You will notice up front we have a Mammy… and another surprise you can not quite see in this picture, but you will soon!


There she is… in the back to the left with a halo…. yes Gone With The Wind fans…. Lori dressed up as….


Yup.  God’s nightgown.

The exclamation that Scarlett would frequently say throughout the book when she was frustrated.  The first time in Bookie history that someone dressed as an exclamation.  Nicely played Lori…

nicely played.


Laura, with the help of her mother, went all out and sewed up this cute little curtain number from new curtains.  I told her she could wear this next year to our Gatsby party as well!

Of course… it wouldn’t be a Bookies book review without great food….

PicMonkey Collage

We had corn pone, Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Ham sandwiches, Butler Balls, shrimp creole,fried chicken, brownies, and sweet potato pie (recipe below) and a Scarlett OHara drink (recipe below).

PicMonkey Collage 2

We had an excellent discussion on the book.  There is so much to talk about in Gone With The Wind!  We all agreed that Ashley was NOT a catch.  We discussed Scarlett’s relationships with her different husbands as well as with her children.  She was indeed… a unique individual.

We also had good discussion over the author Margaret Mitchell… kudos to her for creating such a protagonist as Scarlett… what an unusual perspective for the times…. this headstrong woman who was not a nurturing mother or wife but instead always looking for the best way to support herself and her ambitions.

It was interesting also to hear the difference of thoughts from those in the group who had read the book before (very few actually), and those who had seen the movie, to those of us like myself that had not done either.

For a classic, the overall consensus was an average read AND not to bad for a classic rating – BELIEVE ME.  A few of us, myself included, rated the book a 5 which is our top of our rating scale.  See my personal review here.

Why Does Gone With The Wind make for a good book club read?

1Gone With The Wind is indeed vast with pages, but worth the efforts for book clubs.  The option to read or listen to on audio makes for a wide variety of discussion on both.  There is much to discuss as a group from the civil war, to the reasons this is a banned book, to Scarlett herself as well as her relationships with others.  AND the little extras you can do to make your discussion even deeper.

Please click here for group discussion questions and ideas for a group review

Sweet Potato Pie

you will need-

1 1/2- 2 pounds sweet potatoes

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 9 inch pie crust

  1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
  2. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.  ( as seen at All

Scarlett O Hara Drink

2 ounces Southern Comfort

8-10 oz cranberry juice

1 squirt of lemon juice to taste

mix and serve over ice

I am linking this post to both Saturday Snapshots and Weekend Cooking.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,608 other followers