Monthly Archives: November 2011

Morning Meanderings… Friends Are Real Life Characters In Our Lives

Good Morning.

I feel… exhausted.

Not a good way to wake up… but there it is.  AND it has hung over me for a little over a month now.  Just a lot of stuff going on… some good, some bad, some sad…


Anyway – once again as I have trudged through these days I am reminded I am not alone and many of us are “trudging” through our own things. 

On the bright side in the past few weeks I have had some time to spend with some of my friends and really… are they not sometimes these paranormal beings with magical powers?  My friends can heal, can make tears turn to smiles, make a mountain… feel like a power hike when they walk beside me…

and in turn, I like being that kind of friend back.

Just something I have been thinking about as of late as I flip through the chapters of my life story…. even each of you have a place in my book. 

What happenings in my reading adventures?  I am spending time with 14-year-old La Vaugn as she is taking care of Jolly’s kids in Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff.   I am also sitting in an abortion clinic with Dynah and her mother as they ponder what should be done when a child is produced out of a rape in The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers.

Hope everyone has a lovely Wednesday.  I have a full one… which is good….

The Killing Of Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly

In the spring of 1865, after a long day of meetings, Abraham Lincoln alongside his wife Mary, took to the theater.  While Lincoln knew that he had a lot of enemies and had even thought there was a good chance he would be assassinated, he had no idea that his life was about to end.

John Wilkes Booth was an anchor and charismatic ladies man as well as an impenitent racist.  His hatred for Lincoln burned so strong it was obsession.  He stressed over the details for months… working out accomplices in the mission.  It started as a kidnapping plan… and lead to a much deadlier conclusion.

The theater box where Lincoln was shot

Ok… here’s my thing about Lincoln.  He is my all time favorite president.  And here was my uneducated reasons why:

1.  freeing of the slaves

2.  He was the 16th president and 16 in my favorite number

3.  He was honest

After listening to this audio I realize – I did not know him at all.  He was only 56 when he died.  More surprisingly to me… Booth was 26. 

I did not know about all the background of Booth and the Lincoln conspiracy.  Out of their three sons, I had not realized that 3 had died by the age of 18.  And while I suspected the toll this took on Mary (Todd) Lincoln I did not to the point that after her third child’s death their remaining son put her in a home. 

What I am saying here is I found this audio to be very informative and interesting.  I learned much about Lincoln’s life, General Grant, and John Wilkes Booth.

I leave this audio feeling like I now know more about the president I adored from afar. 

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Killing Lincoln

I purchased this audio from Amazon

Morning Meanderings… Holy Distractions Batman

Good morning!  Happy Tuesday!  😀 

Yesterday I was trying so hard to stay focused on the Monday meme and visiting and it just wasn’t in me.  I would read a few blogs…. then wander away to other areas of the blogosphere.  I could not stay on task.  So what does a wandering Sheila do?

Well for starters…. I am loving the game Words With Friends on Facebook and have about 15 games going.  (It is like scrabble, and you take turns, when your opponent has played the board comes back for you to play)…. lets just say once a word girl… always a word girl.  😛

Then I went to find out what district I was in for Hunger Games.  You can actually go to the Capital and find out for yourself… which many Hunger Game fans have already done… it just took me awhile.  😀  So what district am I in?

There I am… ready for battle with District 5.  (It is times like these that crazy pictures of someone playing buck hunt arcade game pays off… 😀


Made coffee…. drank coffee… drank some more coffee 😯


Downloaded work out music on to my IPOD (Podette)


Started a draft of this post so I did not forget what I wanted to chat about


… and then I went to work, ran some errands… came home late afternoon… played some more Words with Friends and went to my study last night. 

A good day… but I did not get through the Monday Memers like I had hoped to. 

Today I only work a partial day.  I am attending my friends sisters funeral and then going out to a late lunch with some of my friends who will be in attendance. 

Beyond that I do not know what this day holds beyond reading the rest of the INSPY Award books. 

I hope your day is lovely – and all your distractions are good ones.  😀

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hello and welcome to another fun addition of It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?

This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling me how many you visited.  **You do not have to have a blog to participate! You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

This past weeks winner:

Debbie Nance!

WOO HOO!!!!  Please choose an item out of the Reading Cafe Grab Shelves  and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!

Is anyone else wondering what happened to this past week?  I seriously feel like I ran from one thing to the next all week.  My book life was null but audio time (during cooking, cleaning, relaxing) scored big!  Here is the week:

shots from the day after Thanksgiving and pictures of what I got at crazy hours of the night!

Bookish Gifts For your Bookish Friends (gifts for Christmas!)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audio review – my first Gaiman!)

I also finished the audio books of Killing Lincoln and Ready Player One – reviews to come over the next few days.

So I suspect more out of me this week including clean up of books from last week and these additions:

For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. In 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran threatened their safety, they fled to California’s Bay Area, where the familiar flavors of Bijan’s mother’s cooking formed a bridge to the life they left behind. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.

From the Persian world of her youth to the American life she embraced as a teenager to her years at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (studying under the infamous Madame Brassart) to apprenticeships in France’s three-star kitchens and finally back to San Francisco, where she opened her own celebrated bistro, Bijan evokes a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures and cuisines. And she shares thirty inspired recipes from her childhood (Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant and Orange Cardamom Cookies), her French training (Ratatouille with Black Olives and Fried Bread and Purple Plum Skillet Tart), and her cooking career (Roast Duck Legs with Dates and Warm Lentil Salad and Rose Petal Ice Cream).

An exhilarating, heartfelt memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie is also a reminder of the women who encourage us to shine.

I am really excited about this one!




The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill’s wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby’s four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven’t celebrated Christmas together since their father’s death, but when Gaby announces that she’s getting married–and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day–she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn’t Gaby’s only surprise–she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever.

This is for our book club read for December.  Every year I gripe about how fluffy Christmas reads are… I am hoping this one has a good story!




When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.

Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

On sale this week at for $4.95!



And that’s the plan!  I am anxious to see what you are reading this week!  Be sure to add your What Are You Reading link below where it says:  Click here.

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Somewhere in Britain, a man known only as “Jack” kills an unsuspecting family…

all but one of the family dies.  The youngest, a toddler, slips away into the night and into a nearby graveyard where he is adopted by the ghostly inhabitants.  The toddler is named Nobody Owens, raised up by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, and a mentor named Silas. 

As the weeks turn to years, Nobody, “Bod”, learns the way of the graveyard.  By visiting the local inhabitants, he learns to make himself fade, how to call ghouls, and even meets a real live girl!  But as Bod gets older, he longs for the chance to be among the living – to experience school, and friendships. What Bod doesn’t understand is that the graveyard is where he is safe.  Reluctantly, Silas helps Bod made his dreams come true, all the while knowing that “Jack” is still out there…

looking for the boy that crawled away….

all those years ago.

I started listening to this audio while in a van in La Esperanza, Honduras.  When I put my ear buds in and the start-up music (above) began…. I swear my whole body tingled!  The music is entitled Danse Macabre and this music actually inspires a chapter in the book where the characters both living and dead dance the Macabre.  This was my first experience with Neil Gaiman and it was going to be on audio… read by none other than… Neil Gaiman.


Danse Macabre:

According to legend, “Death” appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance their dance of death for him while he plays his fiddle (here represented by a solo violin). His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.

The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times (the twelve strokes of midnight) which is accompanied by soft chords from the string section. The solo violin enters playing the tritone (or “Devil’s chord”) consisting of an A and an E-flat—in an example of scordatura tuning, the violinist’s E string has actually been tuned down to an E-flat to make this chord more biting. The main theme is heard on a solo flute, followed by a descending scale on the solo violin which is accompanied by soft chords from the string section, particularly the lower instruments of the string section, followed by the full orchestra who then joins in on the descending scale. The main theme and the scale is then heard throughout the various sections of the orchestra until it breaks to the solo violin and the harp playing the scale. The piece becomes more energetic and climaxes with the full orchestra playing very strong dynamics. Towards the end of the piece, there is another violin solo, now in modulation, which is then joined by the rest of the orchestra. The final section represents the dawn breaking (a cockerel’s crow, represented by the oboe) and the skeletons returning to their graves.

Thank you Wikipedia!


The Graveyard book is one of mystery and fantasy, dreams, and nightmares.  Neil reads it in a fantastic tone that fits everything I just said in the previous sentence.  Listening to this book was like living it.  While it is a story about a murder, and then subsequently, a graveyard… it is a middle grade book.  While that may surprise (or concern) you… don’t let it.  The book is never graphic or gory… handled well as just an old-fashioned spooky story with a great paranormal twist.

My thoughts in the end…  it was actually a fun experience.  I will definitely look for more from Neil Gaiman.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include The Graveyard Book

I purchased this audio from

Morning Meanderings… Whats the next six weeks looking like

Good morning!  Happy Sunday!

This morning Al (hubby) is leaving for a job in North Dakota for 6 weeks.  It’s crazy – but it’s also good. Our business we own is pretty much shut down every winter from now until March.  This is a bonus job he is doing with a friend.

As for me… well… I am pretty independent so my plan other than work and working out (more on that tomorrow morning) will be reading and writing… the writing part really being something I have neglected for a while now. 

Today I am listening to Ready Player One and so in love with this audio!  I mean really – if you have any connection to the 80’s you will LOVE this, and please do yourself justice and go for the audio.  This is the best advice I can give you…. I feel currently that this is going to be the best audio I have listened to this year… pushing past some incredible audio!

I will be around today, catching up on the four reviews that I have yet to write…. reading for the INSPY’s and I don’t know… maybe watching a little Gilmore Girls.  😀

Bookish Gifts for Your Bookish Friends

It is that time of year  again when I start thinking of Christmas and the gift giving.  I love finding the perfect gift for people.  I know I appreciate a well thought out gift and find it funny when people say to me that they would not get me a book because of course I have so many already…

those who know me well.. know a bookish item is perfect for me as that is what I love.  After all, the gift of a book to me is like the gift of adventure.

That said it got me thinking of what I would consider good bookish gifts this year and I thought I would post a list of the items that I think would be very appreciated by fellow book lovers:  (*Note that all gifts listed below are clickable pictures that will take you to where you can purchase and/or see more about the item.




1.  The Chaos Walking Series

Seriously the best series I read this year and totally gift worthy.  Believe me – you will want to give all three books as each book leaves you ready to jump head first into the next.  A little adventure, a little sci fi, a little YA, and a lot of dystopia… this series has a little something for everyone… and I personally found it to be even more amazing than the Hunger Games.  See my reviews of these books here, here, and here.




2.  The Banned Books Bracelet

I have coveted this bracelet since the first time I saw it.  What a cool and unique gift for your favorite book lover!  In both adult and teen titles

3.  Readers Journal

Not everyone you know who loves to read is also a book blogger.  Even some of your book blogger types (me included) still enjoy writing in a journal.  This little beauty is the pick of the crop because:

Title, Author, Date Published, Category (Fiction, Non-Fiction, etc.), Date Started, Date Finished, 0-5 Star Rating, “Inspired me to learn about these subjects”, followed by a full page for “Notes”.

Throughout the journal are places to fill in fun information:

~A 2-page spread about your “Biblio Style”, including favorite authors, favorite books, favorite places to read, favorite genres, etc.
~A page to show, basically, what kind of books are currently on your book shelves.
~A page to fill in authors that have most influenced you.
~”Reading Trees”, to track how reading one book influenced you to read another book.
~A page to make your own little award ceremony for books.
~Literary face-offs, where you check who you like the best from lists of authors and literary characters.
~A favorite quotes page.
~Two page spread concerning books being turned into movies.

Seriously?  I just ordered two of these this morning.

4.  The Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson

This hot little item is on my wish list and I think on many other book lovers as well.

5.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (ON AUDIO!)

I would never forget the audio book lovers in my life and my recommendation for this Christmas season is Ready Player One.  Narrated by Will Wheaton it is a treat for the ears!




6.  Awesome movies made from books

Celebrate life-long friendship this holiday season with the film adaptation of Lisa See’s best-selling novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Set in both 19th century and present day China, Snow Flower is the tale of two women and their descendants who share a life-long bond as sworn sisters. This touching film is from critically acclaimed director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club).

This tale set in a travelling circus during the Great Depression stars the dreamy Robert Pattinson, and the loveable Reese Witherspoon, as two star-crossed lovers who must overcome many obstacles in order to be together. Not only is the film a great love story, but Witherspoon also dons some fantastic outfits and makeup, which would be great inspiration for any stylish woman!

Both of these movies were made from exceptional books.  I have seen both movies and can honestly say they are both gift worthy.




7.  Fun book shelves

Most big time book lovers are always scrambling for space to store their precious treasures.  A great gift is to give them is a unique way to do just that.  Do you not just love this shelf?

8.  Bookish Board Games

300 trivia cards, including 8 bonus Jane Austen trivia questions.  Super bookish party fare!

In Liebrary, players are given a book title and the plot summary and then asked it create the most believable first line of the book. The object of the game is to bluff other players into believing that their first line is the correct one. The more outrageous the better.  Come on!  Doesn’t that sound so fantastic?

9.  Trilogy that have gone GLOBAL!

We have been talking Hunger Games for the last two years.  Now – next year the movies will start and if you have bookish friends who have yet to read the series (shudder the thought!) then what an incredible gift to give!  This will be the gift that keeps on giving. 




10.  Harry Potter Boxed Complete Hardcover set

With the release of the last and final installment of the Harry Potter movies, we are truly at the end of an incredible era.  (Pause for a moment of silence)…………………………………………………………………….

To have all the books in hard cover in mint condition to the Harry Potter fan in your life?  Priceless.

That’s it for now… I have a DVD copy of Snow Flower and The Secret Fan as well as a DVD copy of Water For Elephants which I will choose two winners for next week from those who leave a comment letting me know what bookish gift they would like to receive this Christmas. 

Morning Meanderings… A Bit of This and A Bit of That

Good morning!

How is everyone surviving the Thanksgiving weekend?  Honestly I feel soooo behind.  I have had the best of intentions to post reviews the last few days and the fact is… I need to write them first.  My week has been busy with not only Thanksgiving prep and crazy hours of shopping, but also a good friend of mine’s sister passed away on Wednesday and I have been spending time with her as well as she goes through this hard time.

Yesterday College Son (Justin) spent all day with me from the crazy shopping to afternoon errands to lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  It’s hard to catch him when he is in town as he is off visiting friends but having him all day on Thursday and most of Friday was a blessing.  He will be hanging out with us a while today before he heads back to Mankato this afternoon to prepare his projects for school again on Monday. 

So this morning I was trying to think what pictures I was going to post for Alyce’s Saturday Snapshot as well as Candice’s Weekend Cooking post and decided if I want to add another post I have been working on this afternoon – I had to (just this once) combine the two meme’s. 

In honor of Thanksgiving…. here is what I have to share.

SO… you may have heard of a very odd (IMO) tradition of stuffing a turkey with a duck and inside the duck a chicken?  (ughhh…. I so dont even like the visual image of this).  It is called Turducken.

No worries… I did not do it, BUT this past week I heard of something a little visually comforting and a fun holiday treat and that is the combination of a cake and a pie. (I looked it up on the internet this morning… I guess the official title is Pumpple.

I have no “before” pictures… but it is fairly easy and you can get the steps here:

you will need:

a cake mix or two

a pie or two that you think would compliment the cake mix

In this particular two layer one… the cake mixes were spice and yellow and the pies were pumpkin and apple.

Use round cake pans and put a little spray oil in the bottom and on sides.  Mix up the cake mix as instructed on the box and put a layer in the bottom of your cake pan.  Place your pie in the cake pan.  Pour more cake mix over pie in the cake pan.  Yes, you will have mix left over.  Maybe make a few cupcakes or a mini cake. 

Bake as instructed on the cake box.  When done, cool and then frost.  It looks pretty cool on a plate and when you cut into it.  Its pretty tasty as well as a fun conversation piece for your next get together. 

Verdict:  It’s good.  I liked the pumpkin pie and spice cake combo.  I heard that a chocolate cake with pumpkin is really good too and since I am a fan of all things chocolate I would consider that one. 😛

Please stop by At Home With Books to see what others are posting today for Saturday Snapshots…

AND be sure to check out Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking which always has links to fantastic recipes that make you (ME) run right out the door to get the things to cook them!  😀

Today is going to be a low-key day and I am sooooo excited for that.  I am going to write the missing reviews and between today and tomorrow get in some good reading time as well.  I hope your weekend is a fantastic one.

Morning Meanderings… What Crazy People Do on Thanksgiving

Good morning…

Or for me….

that would be good night.  😀

Yesterday was a super fab day.  Our youngest College son came home and spent the entire day with us, eating too much good food… watching movies, and playing board games.



at 9:30 pm… we headed out into the cold Minnesota night to do what only crazy people do… hit the sales.  This is only my second time doing this and as I sit now in my recliner with sand filled eyes… I remember why I have not made this a yearly must.

It’s cold.  There is a TON of crazy people in the area I live in. The crowds.  The pushing.  The crabbies. The lines.  Did I mention it’s cold?  😯


it is also crazy fun and Walmart at 10 pm Thursday night was hilarious.  We could not even park in the super center parking lot… instead we parked across the highway at JC Penney’s and walked over. 

The people were pushy to say the least and the crowds were probably “fire marshall worthy”… I found none of the items that were on my list as I could not get through the people.  My son Justin found a few movies and a board game.

check out lines at Wal-Mart Thursday night

Wal-Mart parking lot Thursday night

Then we went to Target…. also crazy but in a different way.  They did not open their doors until midnight so at 11:30 pm we found our way to the back of the line that then wrapped around the front of the building.  All I can say is thank God there was no snow or wind… I don’t think I could handle it. 

Target at 11:30 pm last night. We were in line around the corner from the front side of the building.

When we did get to go in – kudos to Target for having a plan.  They had people directing traffic, aisles taped off to keep us from getting grid locked and I went right to the movie sections without feeling I was taking my life into my own hands.  We left Target with movie purchases and a new IPOD home for me.  That was happy shopping.

We swing in, and quickly out, of Best Buy.  They are just too congested in their set up anyway to be able to do Black Friday right.  While I did pick up a movie I would have liked to have – I would rather pay full price for it on a different day then wait over an hour (I am sure) in their crazy long line.

We were home by 1:20 am… and I was in bed by 1:45 am.

It’s not over.

I was up at 5 am, waking Justin and we were out the door by 5:15 am to go the Mennards sale.  Mennard’s had the one thing I really wanted and my husband was buying it for me for Christmas… but it was my job to face the crazies and go and get it.  Not a problem for someone just as crazy.  😛

This time we were again in a line probably farther back then we were a few short hours prior at Target.  Again we were thankful for no snow.  It was cold… and I wished I was in Florida for Black Friday shopping… but it was doable.


it paid off.  I get the Cricut machine I had wanted for $119.  I picked up several cartridges for $12.99 each.  Justin and I had fun, it wasn’t too crazy and we were back home by 7:15 am.  He is already back in bed… later we will go do lunch.  I am writing this post and going to catch a couple of hours of sleep myself. 

SSSQQQUUUEEE!!!!! My very own Cricut! (and assorted goodies)

The cartridges I picked up for the Cricut.... which... needs a name......

The weekend will be much quieter and I am excited to catch up on a few reviews and checking out the blog world to see what you are all up too.

Anyone else crazy enough to pull off the sales?  Oh please share the stories!  😛

Morning Meanderings… Oh… Seriously?


Good Morning And Happy Thanksgiving. 

I feel like a grub monkey.  😛

I have no idea what a grub monkey is, but if there was a picture of one in the dictionary… I am pretty sure it would look like me right now.  😯


ANYWAY…. yesterday I received some sad news that kept me away from the house until late.  In fact, by the time I did come home I was so emotionally exhausted that I curled up on the couch and was asleep by 8:30 pm and slept on the couch all night long.

This morning… I feel grubby… you know… like you feel when you have been camping in that hot plastic tent and you wake up feeling… microwaved?  Yeah… that’s me right now.  (Sorry about the visual :razz:)

And now as I sit here typing I am looking at my kitchen table… which is laughable and I think… picture worthy.




I think tomorrow morning… I will show you what my table and kitchen looked like AFTER I prepped for Thanksgiving.  😛

So what accompanies during this prep today?  Ready Player One on audio and I am LOVING it. 

Even in this mess, I am thankful for family and friendships and the combination of friends who are like family.  ♥  I am thankful for my home and my job.  I am thankful for the pets in my life… past and present.  I am thankful for my health.  I am thankful for this little corner of the internet that I call my blog home and for all of you who visit and make me smile.  I am thankful for the opportunities that present themselves every day – big or small, they make me who I am.

Have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone.