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.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell


How does one do a synopsis of Gone With The Wind?

Well… for this first time reader and having never seen the movie (still haven’t), I will give you the synopsis in my own words as though I were telling a friend about this book….  (after all, we are friends right?;) )

Gone With The Wind is about a plantation… about a family… about a war… but mostly, about a girl named Scarlett.  Scarlett is in modern terms, a mean girl. She is spoiled, selfish, and while she is not beautiful, her personality drawn men to her – and in Scarlett’s opinion (after all, what other opinion is there?) that is everything.

When the Civil war breaks out Scarlett learns that not everything comes as easy as it once did.  In fact many things are going to take all that stubbornness she possesses as she learns to adjust to the changing times… but Scarlett is not your typical girl of the south and the way she chooses to live her life and survive can come as a surprise, even to her.




First up… I need to say how proud I am of my book club for choosing to read this books for our Annual Classic Read.  This has been a bucket list book for me forever and our book clubs choice to read it as a group is what finally pushed me to opening this book.

I am so glad I did.

I was pleasantly surprised with Scarlett, while she is not very likable, the girl has gusto.   Her selfishness at times is laughable… at other times, it is sad.  She is, and I say this thankfully, not a damsel in distress but instead a witty sprite of a girl who learns many lessons the hard way, but does not allow her spirit to be broken.

You kind of have to admire that.

While I did start reading this book, I found that my time commitments did not allow me for a lot of “sit down and read” time, so I switched to audio.  Let me say, if you love Gone With The Wind and have not experienced it in audio, I highly recommend you do.  While I have been canning these past weeks, Linda Stephens narration was just the thing to pass the time and keep me engaged.

My over all thoughts on the book was it is a win.  I do not agree with those that call this book a romance … God’s Nightgown, no…. this is a whole new level of dysfunction at its finest!  Going into this knowing barely the story line I was happy to read that the book was not the predictable read I thought I was encountering – yet a fascinating time hop to the civil war and a plantation that worked like no other, Tara.

If you have not experienced Gone With The Wind this is my recommendation that you do make the time to read (or listen to) this book.  It is truly worthy of the classic title.


Did-You-KnowAuthor, Margaret Mitchell died after being hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street with her husband on their way to see a movie.  Gone With The Wind is Mitchell’s only book, and one she wrote because she was bored.




  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (May 3, 2011)


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 49 hours and 7 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Release Date: October 1, 2009




*Be sure to watch for my book clubs thoughts on this book as well as the food we ate AND the clothes we wore to celebrate Gone With The Wind.

Passing The Baton…


So here is a story.

In February of 2009 I was a fairly new blogger.  I had about 6 months in.  I was in Florida with my husband for the equipment auctions when a blogger named J Kaye, messaged me.  J Kaye ran the blog j-kaye-book-log.  She was the creator of the Meme “It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?” and I loved it – the book conversation, the linking up, the going back to read the comments because she always responded to the comments.  J Kaye was contacting me to say she was dropping out of blogging to work on her career as an author and would I be interested in taking over the meme.


The meme had over 200 followers.  For a newbie like myself, this was a goldmine of bloggers and book lovers that would follow the meme to me and perhaps like the way I chatted up books.  SO of course I said yes, promising to love the meme and nurture it and…

I did.

It’s Monday never missed a Monday from the time I took over the meme.  I even posted when I was in Honduras and this past year when I was in Australia I passed it on to another blogger to watch while I was away.  The meme went on…

until April.

When my life hit the rocks, the meme as well as pretty much everything else came to a halt.  While, after a while I started posting again, for whatever reason I could not wrap my mind around keeping up with It’s Monday.  I planned to bring it back in September and in the past 4 weeks, I forgot about it twice.  It seems to be something I can no longer commit too… yet I love that meme and in many ways, it brought me many readers who have stuck with me through it all.


I did what J Kaye did.  I looked for a follower of the meme who was a consistent blogger.  Someone who would take it over and love it as I had, and hopefully I too can participate in the meme without the pressure (self inflicted I am sure) of owning it.





(Of course she can choose her own meme button… I was just playing around)

I am pleased to announce that Kathryn from The book Date will be taking over It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?  I am so excited to see the meme continue in her capable hands.  I will help with the transition of directing traffic her way and I will probably participate myself 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has patiently hung in there with me while I figured this out.  I am happy with this decision.  I don’t know how many years J Kaye had It’s Monday, but I had it for 6 years and it will go on.


On another note…. canning today and finishing up between today and tomorrow.  I have been enjoying some down time at home, book club and the Gone With The Wind review was on Tuesday and yes – there are some fun pictures to go with that.  I am listening on audio to Admissions and enjoying it.

Morning Meanderings…. Channeling Scarlett


The crispness of fall has hit central Minnesota.

On Sunday it was beautiful and 80 degrees… these past two days the temp has dropped to the high 30’s…. the sky s hazy… the wind has that biting chill.

I am sooooo not ready.

I have never been a fan of winter and this year – tripley so….  I don’t like the cold, the wet, the slip.   I stay inside and this year… that scares me a bit.

Ahhh…. and I digress.  It is not winter.  It is Fall.  And tonight…. is book club.

Tonight my home will turn into Tara, the plantation from Gone With The Wind.  We have been encouraged to dress the part…. you know I love that.  There will be sweet potato pie, fried chicken, corn bread, a Scarlett drink, and…. Angie in my book club is bringing “Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give A Ham sandwiches”.

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE my book club?

So today…. I bustle around prepping my home, making signs, dropping my large dog at a friends, baking, and prepping fun discussion questions.


Should make for fun discussion and fun pictures.

Also – I have a giveaway going on my latest book sale haul.  Be sure and check out that post as the winner will be announced on Thursday morning.  🙂

Have you read Gone With The Wind?  What do you think would make a great discussion question for our group?