Wine and Words Brunch Style

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Good morning. I t has been a whirlwind week of activity between work, meetings, yard care, canning, Wine and Words prep…  today is the finish line.
So a quick check in to let you know if you have some time this morning you are welcome to tune into Wine and Words today at 10:30 am Central time for a bit of Author fun.  We will have:
Lorna Landvik
J Ryan Stradal
Julie Schumacker
Kelly Harms
Kaira Rouda
Jenna Blum

Below is a link to our page to register.  It’s free and fun.  They are sharing recipes and stories and talking about their books.  You can also send questions into the authors. Its a webinar you can tune into – we will look like zoom but you will not be seen so, by all means, join in pajamas or whatever 🙂  I’m grabbing my coffee and getting ready.

Happy Friday all.

Link to Wine and Words info and registration 
Here We Go!

The Best Of Summer (Another Invite)

Untitled - 2020-07-24T092719.591Hey all, one more invite. before I finish getting ready for work this morning.  Just needed a few minutes with COFFEE CUP and writing.  Once I dip a toe outside my front door I fear the flag will be waved.  It is, after all, Wine and Words week and while it is virtual this year, it is still work to put it all together.  My list of “to-dos” this week for work and life and Wine and Words is LONG.

Today I work and then I am doing the Summer Reads with Laurel from the Library.  As we do not read a book from July to August in anticipation of our big vote next month for the next year’s book selections, we thought it would be fun to do a bonus meet up and discuss great Summer read selections.

We will host this at 6 pm Central Time tonight, July 27th on the Books, Burgers, and Brews Facebook page.  Feel free to tune in as Laurel and I will spent 20 to 30 minutes chatting books from a local location.

As some people have asked how to find videos when someone is live on a page here is an easy way to find us:
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Feel free to tune in and share your favorite Summer Reads as well.

Have a super day.

~Sheila

Wine and Words 2020 and YOU are Invited

Here We Go!

Hey everyone!  If you have followed me for any amount of time here you have probably heard me GUSH about Wine and Words.  This is a literary event that the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library in Minnesota host every year. This year in fact will be its 8th year.

A little history as really all my literacy connections started around this website…  let me give you the 6 Errr… 9 degrees of separation…

1.  In 2009 I start writing here at Book Journey

2.  In 2010 I hear rumblings of something called The Book Expo in New York….  WHAT IS THAT????  (And I go and continue to go for many years)
3.  I get into the expo because of what I do here at Book Journey.

4.  I meet authors, I make stronger connections with publishing houses, I meet a LOT of fellow book lovers in person that I started out by… you guessed it, chatting here.
5.  My love of books and literacy explodes and in 2011 I become the president of the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library and a part of the City Library Board.
6.  I take part in a Library Initiative program that talks about fundraising and I learn about Opus and Olives.  Once I hear that I know we can do this in Brainerd.

7.  I pitch the idea of an author event in our community tot the board, they are skeptical but agree to give me a chance to come up with authors, a venue etc..
8.  BECAUSE of Book Journey and BECAUSE of the Book Expo I have author connections and come back to the 2 weeks later with the following author Yes’s:  Lorna Landvik, Sara Pekkenen, Sandra Brannon, William Kent Krueger and Wendy Webb.  I also had a venue.
9.  Wine and Words is born.  Year one:  180 guests.  Last year (year seven) 670.

This year it takes place on July 30th and 31st as a virtual event.  Our board hired a company to produce it, all my original authors said yes to the change from venue to online and we are offering this for free to anyone who wishes to register.

Author line up;  J Ryan Stradal, Julie Schumacher, Kaira Rouda, Jenna Blum, and Kelly Harms.  Author Lorna Landvik and I will kick off each day from our original venue, Grand View Lodge.  YOU are invited.   Some of you have told me through the years you wished you could attend.  Now you can.
Links and details below.  I am so excited!

Wine and Words 2020 – a Virtual Experience

Morning Meanderings: Life and Book Happenings

20200719_072715 (1)It’s Sunday morning.  I have the COFFEE and I have my workspace all set up in the book room.  Life has been…

FULL.

My weekdays are loaded with work and my weekends are my catch up on house and yard and nonprofit to dos.  I consistently try for balance and usually come up with something resembling that- for instance, yesterday.

I had my list of things I wanted/needed to get done over the weekend.  Yet when I sat down in the morning to do them… instead I downloaded a new book to listen to, I went to look for an elliptical (found one), cleaned up the book room and spent almost three heart filled hours sitting in the sun at a coffee shop speaking with a mom who lost her son in an accident a year and a half ago.  It was good solid me time actually and I don’t do that enough.

So today… all those things I pushed to the side yesterday are waiting and I am in a clearer frame of mind to handle them.

Switching gears…

I was reading an article this morning about the second half of 2020 Most Anticipated Books and how the writer of the article just felt kind of “meh” towards the selections and could not figure out if they were just not that exciting, or if in the state of the world, we just can’t wrap our head around what we once did as there is so much muchness going on…
I can relate and believe it is the latter. I don’t think the selections are poor, I think that with everything going on even if we don’t really think we are burning brain energy thinking about it, I believe we are.  When we change how we do many things, when the future can in some ways be uncertain (jobs, finances, trips, the health of those we love, events, plans…) it all takes up space in our head.  I know for myself when things are crazy its hard to get into a deep book… I tend to drift towards lighter reads that may even lean a bit towards “feel good” reads.  And God Bless the feel-good reads 🙂

I’ve got a little mix going on currently:

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes.  I listened to this on audio and it was wonderful and light and made me laugh.  This is our Books Burgers and Brews discussion book for tomorrow evening and while there is not a lot to discuss in the book I have some ideas….  (tune in you want we go like at 6 pm central time on the Books Burgers and Brews Facebook page)

The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben.  Absolutely enjoyed!  Its Coben at his finest.  Also, audio listen and grabbed me right from the start so I know I am not completely hopeless in the book department.

My Girls by Todd Fisher.  I just started this one and will probably mow the lawn today while listening to it.  It is the true story of Carrie and Debbie Fisher told by Carrie’s son, Todd.  So far, so good.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand.  LOVED IT.  I usually love Elin’s books (not all… but most of them) and this one was so so good!  I loved how each chapter was a year and well … yes, read it.  Perfect and not heavy.

Temporary Fails:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by  Suzanne Collins.  I LOVED the Hunger Games series yet struggled with this one holding my attention.  I put it down many times after reading only a few pages and not sure if I am just too preoccupied or what.

Fails:

The Guest List by Lucy Foley.  It sounded goooooooood.  I downloaded it yesterday and either the narrators accent or the book itself or both did not grab me.

Amy:  My Search For Her Killer by James Renner.  Also an audio download,  I do admittedly like the occasions true crime read yet this one… I don’t know.  I may have given up to soon but let it go.

The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee.  This was our book club read and initially I would have said here that I was just really good at carrying this one around the house and deck without opening it but having intention too, HOWEVER, this one was just discussed by my book club this past Tuesday and after listening to the half-hearted thoughts on it… I am not going to invest time in it.

So that’s the current book situation.  I am super behind on reviews and hopefully will write them one of these days.

I will leave you with this… You have read the Queen Event details here for years (If not, type in the search area – upper right side “Queen Event” and you should find those posts)  so I do not want to leave out the 2020 version.  We changed a few things up as we are not full Bookies at this time as some are still staying home due to COVID and others have had commitments, but 9 of us did make it to our Annual event this past Tuesday and reviewed our book (The Book of Second Chances) and ate boxed lunches instead of our usual potluck and passed the Queen title, crown, scepter and throne by random drawing instead of the talent portion and vote like we used to do mainly because we could not all attend and some of us (me included) are tapped out of ideas. For now.  😉

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Have a super awesome day all.

~Sheila

 

Morning Meanderings… Minnesota

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Good morning.  Most of you, who have viewed my ramblings here for years know I am from Minnesota.  And I am certain that most of you, no matter where you live have heard what is happening in Minnesota currently, with the riots in Minneapolis that started after the very sad death of George Floyd on May 25th.  (If you do not know, you can Google the name).  What happened created a ricocheting effect as people not only in Minnesota – but in other states as well fueled by what I believe is a combination of the state of our world at this time, the lack of uncertainty of what is to come, fear, and of course the anger of what happened on May 25th in the midst of all of this was the equivalent of throwing massive amounts of fuel on already lit embers.

Riots followed with the burning and as of this morning, it was reported that over 220 businesses have been damaged, looted, and/or completely destroyed by vandalism and fire in the Minneapolis area.  And this is no dystopian novel – this is happening about 2 1/2 hours from my home.  While peaceful protests are happening in my own home town and an hour away in St Cloud, as of this writing there are no riots closer to me.

Latest News from this morning

I fully believe in our rights to an opinion and our right to protest in peaceful ways. In fact here in my home town, peaceful protests have been happening.  My heart is broken for the Floyd family, friends who live in the MNPLS area, and for all that is happening that started with the death and has now escalated into so much more that I don’t even know what….  but it is is scary stuff.

As a friend posted yesterday,

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

~Eli Wiesel

SO – all that said… I am having a rare quiet moment on my deck with the birds chirping and the sun shining when I actually have a moment to soak it up.  I’m emotionally exhausted.  I have wanted to say so out loud for a while now – however feel bad saying it out loud as I know there are so many that have it worse than I do at these times.  I currently have my job, I am in what I feel is a fairly safe rural area, I have a paycheck coming in and know where my next meal is coming from.  I know not everyone can say that.

I am, as I am certain so many many of us are just tired of trying to figure out where we go from here, what the next month looks like, the next season as all the things that make Minnesota awesome (State Fair, parades, concerts, Brainerd International Raceway Nationals, large gatherings for families, cookouts, big weddings, gathering by the lake, etc) are all kind of on hold – and by no means,  is this my state alone.  As people worry, stress, wait and wait and wait – the fear of the unknown, the instinct to survive, emotions running high… it all kicks in and can create what we are seeing happening here.

Do what you can today to find your happiness.  For me, I am slowing down to recharge, a little bit of sun, a little bit of self-care, later BLA Quarantingo for our community and possibly if I can get there, a peaceful Candle Lighting Vigil for George Floyd that will take place tonight in my community at 9 pm.

Stay safe all. Be KIND.
Sheila

Morning Meandering: What’s in YOUR Memorial Day?

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I took the day off.

It’s not a given in the Hospitality world that you get the holidays off.  In fact, in a normal world the Holidays are often the busiest time for restaurants.  However this is not the normal world.

And by golly I need the mind break. 

My day is rather an exciting one.  I am going uptown shortly here to pick up items for a “Quarantwined” thing that is happening in Minnesota.  It is a Facebook page where if you join you put your address and list a few things you like to drink and snack on.  Then someone is supposed to create a basket of goodies for you based on your preferences and sort of ding dong ditch you, leaving a basket on your doorstep.  I love this idea.  I love how we are finding ways to reach out to our friends, neighbors, and even strangers – creating what I believe will be a tighter more caring world.   Once you receive a basket you are supposed to remove your post with your info on it so 1) you don’t double up on baskets and 2) make sure others get one as well.  This morning I went through the list (you choose from the top – the ones that have been on the list the longest) and I plan to make 4 baskets.  *Dorky excited*

Then I am going to have COFFEE with my cousin, followed by my first curbside order pick up at Walmart.  Then home, assemble and deliver my baskets and hopefully still have the afternoon to finish morning the lawn and read a bit outside in the sun.
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I may go to the cemetery for my mom and dad and sister.   Honestly, I should have gone yesterday and avoided the people.  Justin’s memorial is here in the back yard.  Or maybe I do it tomorrow after work.

Anyhoo – that’s the plan.  Probably grill tonight, but for the most part low key and that is really the way I am coming to like it.  Another good thing that comes out of this Quarantine (and yes, I use “good” lightly) – people, myself included are learning to slow down… and honestly I like that.

Happy Memorial Day all.  Are you reading?  What are you reading?

The Trial of EveryPlate (Pork and Pineapple Tacos)

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About 2 years ago I went through a home meal kit phase.  I enjoy trying new things, LOVED the fact that I didn’t have to go shopping (not a fan) and that when I made something I used it all and didn’t have random jars, bottles, or halves of items that I needed for the recipe that would now squat in my frig for longer than I care to admit.

I finally landed on Hello Fresh which I loved the variety, the recipe cards, and the feeling like a rockstar when I made a pretty (if I say so myself) awesome dish.  Cue the “I have made Fire!”  scene from the movie Castaway.  Then summer came.  And while Hello Fresh offered up tasty summertime grilling options, I decided to drop the service for the season and then never went back.

Which brings me to the current state of the world.  I mentioned I disliked shopping?  I like it even less now.  Recently when my friends were raving about their Hello Fresh meals I thought, Yes!  I will go back – but it turns out they are not taking new customers right now and understandably so.  So…. enter EveryPlate.  It’s like a mini version of Hello Fresh, not as many options each week, not the big cool recipe cards and extras, however – the price was totally right (4.99 per serving) and as it turns out this company is owned by Hello Fresh AND was taking on new customers.  Like most of these services, you can quit anytime and even take breaks and stop shipment for a time if you are going to be gone or just need a break.  My total for 3 meals with 4 servings each and with shipping came to $68.12

So I’ll bite.

I placed my order and went with the 4 serving option (I really only needed two) mainly to see what portions looked like and honestly for that price I was skeptical about quantity and I do not mind leftovers.  I chose the Pork and Pineapple Tacos, French Onion Meatloaves (which comes with potatoes and carrots), and the Honey Ancho Chicken (which comes with potatoes and Zucchini).

On Friday, my box arrived.

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First thought:  I was thrilled with the look of both the veggies and the meat.  I felt like I had a CSA box of fresh goodies that I was going to have the pleasure of assembling. The box comes with two large ice packs (the meat is kept between them) and I save the ice packs to be used in coolers over the summer or for any event I need to keep something cold.

Here is the first recipe I tried.

Pork and Pineapple Tacos

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Why did I choose this recipe? Honestly I like the thought of the southwest spice and pineapple combo.  The ingredients looked like this:

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The card was easy to follow.  It listed all my ingredients so I could pull them out of the box.  I was impressed with the number of tortillas ( 12 total!) and a full red onion and two full Garlic cloves.  The only thing not included was a little olive oil for the pan, a tablespoon of sugar and salt and pepper.

Prep was easy to follow and I used my own already minced garlic for no other reason than I did not want to mess with peeling and fine chopping the cloves.  I will use them babies elsewhere.

The sour cream was mixed with juice from the lime, some of the garlic and salt and pepper (YUM!).  The Jalapeno and onions were mixed with lime juice and a little bit of sugar.
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When all was said and done in about 30 minutes I had a tasty meal that I was thrilled with.  The flavors of the spices and pineapple were spot on tasty!  There was more than enough and I was pleased with the portions. I used a 4th of the tortillas.  This particular meal did not come with any sides so I made Brussel sprouts to accompany this dish.  The pineapple was to be drained from its juice and I put that to use as well in a little icy mix with a Sparkling Pink Grapefruit beverage.  BONUS!

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The good:
1.  Well worth it.  The quality of both the meat and the vegetables was really good.  Everything was fresh.
I loved the dish.  I was able to take everything I needed from the box and use it all.  Nothing extra went into the refrigerator other than the leftover taco filling.

The not so good: No complaints.  Hello Fresh meals come with each meal prep in a bag and EveryPlate came all together not separated.  It’s not even worth mentioning other than I thought someone might want to know.

Disclaimer:  I am all about shopping local and I do almost always.  We ever have many local small business restaurants offering meal kits (including the company I work for) as well as take and bake or heat and eats.  And I use these services in some way or another almost weekly to support them, and it’s tasty stuff.  My point is – you can’t do that 7 days a week… and something like this is good to get a little creative on your own.

(I will review the other two recipes as well)

Have you tried any of the Meal Kits?  If so what are your thoughts?  Which do you like> If not is it something you would ever consider?

 

Morning Meandering… In the mood to write

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So question…
Do you ever have this almost constant dialogue going on in your head, like if you would take the time to write it down you may actually have something? Or is that just me?

Lately, I find myself thinking about things to write – like oh, reviewing that food service would be interesting… or I should really write about these crazy times,  or such as this morning, I wonder who else has a washing masks system?

So yeah… here I am once again on this site that has been around since 2009 (that alone blows me away). At times it has been overused, the last 5 years it’s probably safe to say it has been underused… yet I don’t let it go. I don’t want to lose this record of my life from the early years of talking talking TALKING books – to my absolute worst life moments in 2015.

So… I’m Back.
I think.
Once a writer, always a writer.

And that part about mask washing.. well that is true.  And it’s probably true for you too.
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For me it goes like this.  Hand wash in the sink in hot soapy water -so hot I almost can not put my hands in that water.  Then scrub, rinse and I could air dry… but honestly, my head thinks the dryer is better to kill anything – so the dryer it is.  Now they are ready to go for my adventures to the grocery store or wherever I need to be in public spaces.

Other than that my Sunday has so far, dishes, laundry, sorting mail, paying bills, cleaning up the kitchen table which tends to be a catch-all and updating this blog… again.  I hope to start catching up on my book reviewing, read a little and if it warms up outside, start mowing the lawn while listening to my audio, Year One.  And oh my word – have you listened to or read this one?  Its been on my shelf for years and with everything going on now thought I would start it and – WHOA.  I am enjoying it but WHOA.  It’s about a pandemic, starts out like the flu, spreads human to human…  yeah.

So that’s the plan.  I’m curious if you are wearing masks, how are you caring for yours?

Sheila

Key Of Valor by Nora Roberts (#2)

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So here we are the second book of the year completed, and yes another re-read.  I felt a need to reconnect this past couple of months and have been devouring old favorites.  It’s fun to see if lightning does indeed strike twice.  ~Sheila

So Nora Roberts is not a go-to author for me.  However…

there are always exceptions.

A long time ago I read two trilogies by her that blew me away.  Mostly because they had in them the elements that I LOVE and are kind of like “book crack” to me.  I love a book about strong independent female characters.  I always have.  AND I love books with a bit of magic to them…. or powers (I guess that ties in with strong independent women).  AND I like books that have to do with books….  books stores, book owners, book lovers, book store staff, authors…  like the Forest Gump of books.

Both of the trilogies I speak of dealing with all of the above.  The Three Sisters Trilogy and the Key Trilogy.  This book is the third and final book of the Key Trilogy and it is the final book in the two Roberts series that I have devoured these past weeks.

In the Key of Valor, the final trial is upon the girls.  It is now Zoe’s turn to find the last of the three keys and right the world.  Malory and Dana both (in the two previous books) had completed their quests, but Zoe has more at stake.  She is the only of the three that has a son, Simon, who she is not willing to risk for anything…  and being the last to be challenged, there is more at stake for Kane, the Dark Force as well.

This time around in this book was I would say just as satisfying as the first time.  With Nora Roberts, you kind of know what you are going to get in her trilogies.  There will be three (men or women) who each book will focus on one of.  They will – most likely find love by the end of that book and this will continue with each through the trilogy.  Knowing that – while a pattern – is helpful.  You kind of know you are going to get into a love connection while reading which is not a top topic for me… however acceptable when it leads to something more…in this case, magic, a goal, power….

Anywho, yes.  Read this if you like strong female characters.  Definitely read this if you like Roberts.  And please try it even if Nora Roberts is not your thing… the magic to me, changes it.

Oh and what’s with the number after the title of the book?  I am trying to keep better track of my book count this year. 🙂

The Summerhouse by Jude Deveroux (#1)

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The first book of the year… a re-read that was not quite as the first time, but almost as delicious… ~Sheila

In The Summerhouse, three women, Ellie, Madison and Leslie are each about to turn 40 years old.  Their lives have not turned out as they had hoped and each woman is dealing with something heavy and what appears to be irreversible.  When the decision is made that they spend a weekend together after not seeing each other for 19 years, they all come to the same conclusion, “What do they have to lose?”

Over a weekend in Maine, over cocktails and good food, the women all catch up by sharing their life stories – from the dreams of a dancer, model, and author, to where they are now and what brought them to this point.  When given an opportunity to visit a small shop in town with a woman called Madam Zoya who gives them an opportunity to go back to a time in their life when they could have made a different decision, again the women think, “what do we have to lose?”

It is soon discovered – they only have things to gain.

 

I read this book originally in 2003 with my book club.  At the time, the book spoke volumes to me.  Our book club at the time was only a couple of years old and we were still sticking with familiar genres and authors.  The discussion of this book I recall was incredible.  Our group all shared a time in their lives where they would like to go back to and make a different decision -in a way, in those early years fo the Bookies, it was one of the initial steps that really bonded us to one another.  And truthfully, why this book holds such a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves.

While I have picked up this book since that initial date, I have not read it in many years.  Over the last couple of months, I have been digging into reading (and listening to) old favorites.  If I were to diagnose that, I would say that over the Holidays with it being a harder time of year for me, I find comfort in books I know that are safe and familiar.  I have been popping through these books like my favorite candy.

This time, I have a few things to say that are probably different than my past reviews of this book.  In fact (I just peeked) the last time I read this book was in 2008 and after I write this review, then I will read that review to see how they are similar – or not.

So…. The Summerhouse.  I have to say that some of the beginning really annoys me.  I wont go into it here as I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but if you want to know I am writing about it under a spoiler page… so those who have read this can join me in a rant if they so wish.  Basically what I will say here is that there are some things in the early chapters before you did into the heart of the book that are just too unrealistic.  Not only unrealistic but what bothers me more is that it would have been so simple to have changed this to make it believable, it’s almost silly and unfortunately could be a deal-breaker for some readers.

That said… once you get into the book where the women are together again and share their stories.  THIS.  This is why I love this book despite the crazy early chapters.  The stories in details of their lives that they share is sooooo good.  And what happens next makes this a book that despite my complaints, will always hold its place as a favorite with me.
My advice?  Give it a try.  It really is good.  And then, come back and click that spoiler link so we can hash out what we loved and what was not so much.

Note:  Fun (or not so) fun fact.  They have changed how to add posts to “pages” on wordpress so while I have a perfectly fun snarky spoiler post about this book… I am unable to post ir under the Spoiler page as I used to be able to simply do by selecting that page.  *sigh*  If anyone knows the magic solution please let me know.  I spent an hour last night on this and too much time today on it and just found it annoying and much too complicated so had to stop trying.