United For Libraries – Literary Landmarks



I am part of a committee that meets to place a Literary Landmark once a year somewhere in Minnesota.  Literary Landmarks are a part of ALA (American Library Association).  The purpose of Literary Landmarks is to recognize an author who is from the area.  The author needs to no longer be living for at least 5 years.  In past years Minnesota has recognized:

Jon Hassler

Sinclair Lewis

Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Tacy!)

Scott Fitzgerald  (Gatsby!)


Our committee started meeting last fall to discuss who our next author should be.  As the last couple of years had been in the Brainerd lakes area and in Ely, we felt it was time to come back toward the Twin Cities.  Once we have chosen our author, we need to find a place to put the plaque.  It is a beautiful large plaque and it can go indoors or outdoors; on the side of a building, in a library, in a park, a museum, wherever.  We then plan a ceremony around the dedication.

After narrowing down our list, we were excited to choose Gordon Parks as our Literary Landmark for 2016.

Gordon Parks was not only an author.  He was also a photographer and became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. In 1971, his book Shaft became a  hugely successful motion picture.  He had a deep commitment to social justice and died in 2006.

Yesterday, I drove to St. Paul Minnesota to meet not only with our committee, but we were also lucky enough to have two of Gordon’s relatives present as well.  Russell Balenger is Gordon’s nephew and Robin Hickman his grand niece.  It was so exciting to meet them and see that they both are involved in social justice themselves, carrying on in Gordon’s footsteps.

gordon parks, book journey, ALA< Literary landmark
L: Russel, Robin, Joe (from our committee)


gordon parks, literary landmark, book journey minnesota
L: Barbi and Isabel from our committee


I am enjoying being a part of this group. It is wonderful to be able to recognize authors who have made a difference.  I am submitting this post to Saturday Snapshots.

Morning Meanderings…. Training To Be A Hooker


Saturday!  Have I mentioned before it is my favorite day of the week?  Here this morning with COFFEE CUP on the front end of the weekend.  So much I like about that.

For this weeks Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share with you my experience this week of taking the steps to be a hooker.  Leather knee boots optional.


Oh wait – no no no. Not that kind of hooker.

This kind:


I have girls in my book club that are amazing crocheters, or hookers, as I am learning they are called.  Some of the items they have worn to book club (scarves, hats…) things they have made for Wine and Words or for our Christmas exchange (gorgeous blankets, throws…)  This hat is what I received at our last Christmas party:

Sheila DeChantal


Anyway…. I sooooo wanted to know how to crochet.  Last fall, I won a crochet starter kit at the Wine and Words auction.  I joked that I would not open that package unless I had a chance to learn, otherwise the gift basket was going back to be auctioned at this year’s event.  It was nice that on Thursday of this week I was able to open that basket.

PicMonkey CollageIn the basket was a wonderful assortment of yarn in beautiful colors.  There was also a book called My First Crochet Book, scissors, a set of crochet hooks with a holder, and some tags to put on my masterpieces (those I will save for later.  WAY later).

We gathered at Sharon’s house from our book club and she and Lori taught me the basics.  I was the only one in the group this time that was squeaky new to this.  I thought for sure I would have Mickey Mouse hands and not be able to do a think but I actually did ok when I made my first chain of 100 stitches.  (Note the concentration)


Our trial session was two hours long.  The goal was to make a cozy for a coffee cup as my first project but we (I) did not get that far.  By the time I left I had this:


A work in progress? Yes.  Or…. a completes yarn mustache which I believe are all the rage in Europe.  😉

The verdict:  I am willing to keep going. I hope I will learn to at least make scarves, maybe baby blankets.  On the bright side… it was a bucket list item I can scratch off – I am doing it.


How about that?

My Great Grandmother would be proud.

Linking this up to Saturday Snapshot where we share what is happening in our lives.  Check it out – it is kind of cool to see what everyone around the world is taking pictures of this week.


Saturday Snapshot and Weekend Cooking w/ The Bookies


Saturday morning.  Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week.  When I was younger it was the day of no school (and no school the next day to worry about!) and when I grew up (term used loosely) it was the day off of work, home with my kids, and no work or school the next day.  Now I still like Saturdays.  They have become the day that Al and I usually go out for a while in the late afternoon to a movie or for appetizers, or to some other adventure.  I like that we take the time to connect when even now with me at home, we still are busy running in different directions during the week.

This past Tuesday our book club met for the review of The Life We Bury.  There are many things I adore about our book club and the little extras we do really make me smile.  With the protagonist being from Austin Minnesota, the home of SPAM, we had some fun.  Here are a couple of recipes that you could use when you read the book, or just because you are fascinated with meat in a can like I am. 🙂  I am posting these recipes for weekend cooking.

SPAM Sliders, Book JourneySPLIDERS (SPAM Sliders)

You will need:

a package of Hawaiian rolls

a can of SPAM

a package of Swiss Cheese slices



a tasty mustard


Set over temp to 350 degrees.  Open up each Hawaiian roll and lightly butter. Slice SPAM into 1/4 inch slices and place one slice on each roll.  slice in half of fourths (depending on your cheese size) the Swiss cheese and place a slice on each roll on the spam.  Add a little slice of onion, optional.  Place all rolls in a 13 x 9 cake pan and place in oven until cheese is melted and sandwich is hot to the touch – 7 to 10 minutes.  Serve hot with the mustard or mayo.  Great for a movie night or any gathering.

I personally was surprised that I liked these.  I have SPAM memories as a kid and I think that was the last time I ate it.  SPAM today is not like SPAM was then, the jelly coating I remember around the meat that grossed me out is no longer there.  The sandwiches were actually tasty and if I had not known it was SPAM I don’t think I would have guessed.


SPAM, book journeyCheesy Baby Reds (as found on the SPAM website)


  • 1 12-ounce can SPAM® Classic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 12 ounces whipped pimento spread
  • 24 baby red potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In large skillet, in butter, heat the SPAM® Classic until lightly browned. Drain well.
  • Whip the pimento cheese spread in a blender until smooth. Place pimento cheese spread in a large bowl. Add the SPAM® Classic (reserve about 1/3 for garnish) and diced red bell pepper.
  • Thoroughly wash and clean the potatoes. Cut in half and scoop out the center of each with a spoon or Parisian scoop. Mix the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat the potato halves with the mixture and place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove from oven and fill center with the SPAMento™ cheese mixture. Garnish the filled potatoes with the reserves SPAM® Classic, chives and a dusting of cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 48.

These were so good and I would totally make these!


As for a little Saturday Snapshot, I thought I would add a picture of our dogs this past week. Bailey(the white one) is 18 years old.  Really, the miracle dog.  A couple of years ago he started having seizures  and then after a month they went away and we did not see him have another one until last month.  It is horrible to see, but remarkably he comes out of them and goes on like nothing happened.  The vet says he is not suffering in any way, he is not in pain and lives for his age a healthy lifestyle.  Sammy ( the black one) has just recently taken to hanging out with Bailey a bit more.  This was a cute picture of sleeping close together.  Almost like Sammy is protecting him or being supportive.

book journey, DeChantal

Saturday Snapshot…. Foods Of Cancun


The weekend is here!  Yet… I don’t feel in my usual relaxed weekend mode.  After I write this post I am going to go and change the window out at the library, then list some printers we no longer use on Craig’s List, work on securing authors for Wine and Words, and start to prep our Friends Annual meeting agenda that is Monday evening.  Hopefully later this afternoon Al and I will meet up with our son Brad to eat and catch up.

Speaking of food…


One of the great things about vacation is of course, all the delicious food and no cooking it!  We recently returned from Cancun, a trip we took to Moon Palace, an all inclusive resort with friends.  I am normally a big picture taker, but not so much this time so relying on those that were with us to come up with great pics – however… I did grab some food pics.  You know that crazy person that is in a restaurant and whips out their camera to take a picture of their food?  Say hi next time, that is me.  😉


PicMonkey Collage1

Above:  By the pools there were several places you could grab a quick bite to eat.  They had everything from chicken wings to burgers…. salads to cookies…. nachos to hot dogs on the grill.  And yes, they had pizza.  We had the pizza a couple of times during the week we were there.  They made it in front of you and cooked it in this cool brick oven.  The pizzas cooked in about two minutes.



Below:  One of the days a few of our group went into Cancun to see the shops.  They had beautiful items for sale but I am not a big fan of the hustling and the pushiness of the vendors.  Still, it was nice to say that I did go into Cancun.  Before we headed back to the resort we grabbed a bite in a Mexican restaurant in the area.  The food was tasty!

PicMonkey Collage2


Below:  My husband Al, and a couple of the other guys, Ray and Jim, went fishing one morning.  They caught quite a few fish in the few hours they were out including this big Mahi Mahi which the chefs at the resort cooked for us that evening for our dinner.  It was a great experience for the guys and it was fun to taste the fresh fish they caught.

PicMonkey Collage3

I am adding this post to the Saturday Snapshot meme and Weekend Cooking.

Saturday Snapshot…. Taking a WORD to the extreme in Cancun


Yesterdays post answered the question of where I have been.  Today I want to answer in part the question, what did I do? I mostly did what I had planned to do to get through… read, sit by the pool, walk on the beach, enjoy the spa, eat a lot of delicious food, hang out with good friends that understood when I needed to walk away or spend time in my room.

On our last afternoon in Cancun this past week, Al and I and a few of the others in our group took a walk on the beach.  We watched the parasail go up from a dock and as I watched the chute soar higher and higher I whispered…

I would do that.


Mu husband and my son Justin had parasailed on a trip to Jamaica many years ago. Al did not enjoy it so much, but Justin, always ready for an adventure loved it.  Now I decided I was going to do this for him.

I went up with another girl in our group, Julie.  She was nervous and went back and forth on if she should go or if she shouldn’t.  I said to her, “Julie, when we go home and people ask us what we did in Cancun, what are we going to say?  That we laid by the pool?  We went to the spa?  We played it safe the whole time?  This.  This is your Cancun story.”


I guess it is mine as well.

My word for the year is COURAGE and I chose that word because I knew that living in a world without Justin was going to take all the courage I had.  Every day it takes everything to not just throw my hands up and say this is crap and just stop it all.

BUT in this story… I am on a beach in Cancun about to parasail.  About to give courage a run for its money and show it what I am made of.

book journey, Sheila DeChantal
Julie and I Cancun Mexico 2016






We had a good time.  I refused to be afraid and I now have this story to tell.  This is my Saturday snapshot.  More Cancun pictures to come.

Saturday Snapshot….Books Around The World


January 2…. how are we doing so far into this New Year?  I have been fairly busy with 2 small after Christmas gatherings with friends, a movie with my hubby, and yesterday – working on the First Book Of The Year tradition.  Let me just say out loud.. wow.  I am so glad I continued First Book this year for many reasons, yet the response was still so overwhelmingly positive that it made me so proud to be a part of this amazing community.

For today’s Saturday snapshot I am going to post all the pictures that came in from readers around the world sharing their first books into this new year.  Even if you looked at yesterday’s post, more than likely you did not see all the pictures as more kept coming in throughout the day and evening.  SO AWESOME.  But first I have to show you what Kathryn at Book Date did… she went a step further with her first book and blew me away.



Right?  Holy smokes!  When I seen her post yesterday I could not believe it!  Look at little First Book Of The Year become a video! Another couple of pictures I need to honorably mention for creativity when sending in their picture.  No, no one had to be creative, but I was amazed to see the fun efforts:

PicMonkey Collage 9

Ahhhhh!  lol

And so with no further delay…. here are the First Books Of 2016.  If you look at my original post from yesterday in the comments people shared where they were reading from and it was exciting to see the readers all over the world.  Seriously….  wow.



PicMonkey Collage 1



PicMonkey Collage 2



PicMonkey Collage 3


PicMonkey Collage 4


PicMonkey Collage 5


PicMonkey Collage 6


PicMonkey Collage 9


PicMonkey Collage 7

Thank you so much to everyone who participated.  This was a far larger response than 2014’s and it meant a lot to me to see you all join in as spotty as my attendance has been here over the past 8 1/2 months.  Thank you friends and fellow book lovers.  It is hard for me to explain this, but your participation in this made this entry into New Years a little easier.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I am adding this to Saturday Snapshot because…. it is awesome.

Morning Meanderings…. Christmas After


It is so crazy what sort of negative anticipation a day can bring.

I was not at all looking forward to this Christmas… the first one without my son Justin.  We did not put up a tree.  I did not cook.  I did not purchase any gifts until December 24th when my husband and I went up town to find things for our son Brad who would be joining us for Christmas Day.  Until that point I had avoided retail stores as I did not want to see the decorations or the happy people eagerly choosing the gift that would make their persons day.

I had been told, from those who has gone before me on this painful path that the anticipation of the “day/holiday” is usually much worse than the actual day.  It is kind of hard to tell because I think by the time I reached Christmas Day I was numb.  I did what I had to do because my son was here and we tried to carry on with a little normalcy.  We watched TV and I gave Brad Justin’s IPAD knowing that I would never be able to use it myself and it would sit in storage until it was obsolete.  We had to guess at Justin’s password and by using his password hints we were able to figure it out, clean out his personal notes and register it to Brad. We also logged him off of his Facebook which 8 months ago was unthinkable.  As you can imagine it was a hard thing to do… but I know it was the right thing to do and Justin would have approved.

Al and Brad played cribbage on Justin’s cribbage board.  Justin LOVED cribbage and Al and he would play for hours.  It was sort of symbolic to use his board for the game.  I felt as though he were including him.


In the late afternoon we drove to the Casino which honestly Justin would have thought was an awesome way to spend Christmas.  We came up with that idea a few weeks ago as they have a seafood buffet.  At the time of decision I kept saying “Oh, we are those people you feel bad for because they have no traditions on Christmas…”  Once there, I seen my opinion on this was incorrect.  The casino was packed but not filled with sad and lonely lost people as I had imagined but couples and friends hanging out and having a good time.  Families were at the buffet and exchanging gifts and I had to change my attitude to maybe this was a nice way for families to enjoy a delicious meal and be together just as much as sitting at home around a tree.

Family traditions can be wherever you land.


I was wiped out by the time we came home around 8 pm.  Being “on” all day and the constant knowing what is missing while you try to keep going forward is exhausting.  I sat down and had a glass of wine out of a glass that Justin had made and hated that he was not here… and so glad I had climbed another milestone of firsts and made it through.  Justin wanted me to be happy.  I am trying kid…  I am trying.



Thank you to those of you who sent me a Christmas card.  That is so nice and I so appreciate your kind and encouraging words.


For those of you signed up to participate in 1st Book of the year, don’t forget to send me your picture!  Looking forward to the post!