Thursday, December 31, 2015

The House on Tradd Street

 
From Goodreads:
A brilliant, chilling début featuring a Charleston real estate agent who loves the histories inside old manors. Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. A man she recently met died, leaving his historic Tradd Street home; complete with a dog and family of ghosts anxious to tell their secrets. Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries, has reason to believe diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden. He turns the charm on with Melanie, to discover he's the smitten one.
 
 
From Me:
I thought it was a fun read!  I loved Jack.
Can't wait to read the next one.
This is my last read of 2015!
Good one to go out on.
3.8 stars  or 3.9

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The last of my 2016 challenges


I think I've gone challenge crazy this year--for books.  As you know I do some food blogging too once in a while and there are a couple of  meme's I like to participate in but I feel as if I can do those as I feel like it.
Right now tho, I am feeling like I can take on the world!
(it'll pass tho)
For the book challenges, a lot of them overlap, so I don't feel reading will be the problem--writing posts will be the problem, because I'll wait till the very last minute to do that.  (sigh)

Okay!  More book challenges!



There will be two options for this challenge and you may choose one or both.  The first option is to read books featuring a character identified as a loner, outcast, recluse, wallflower, or introvert. This can be the main character (such as Bella from Twilight or Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower) or a secondary one (such as Miss Havisham from Great Expectations or Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird).  The second option will be to read works written by writers known to have been loners or recluses. The great poet Emily Dickinson was very much a loner as was author J.D. Salinger,  and this link says the ancient Greek playwright Euripides was something of a loner.  A biography of such writers may be read as well. 

Click on Jamie's link for all the info!

**********

This next year I plan on reading a lot more non-fiction  (November Nonfiction must have created a monster in me!) so why not join up with Angie @ Lady Knight Reads for her:


Angie says:
So I was talking to someone on Twitter. I don’t remember who because it was like a whole 24 hours ago and I’m basically senile in my old age, but it was basically about how I need to read more-nonfiction and since apparently challenges are a thing I’m doing next year, I decided to host a non-fiction one.


Check out the link for the 411!
It's pretty low key---just keep track of your non-fiction reads and writes posts in June and December.

**********

Also joining Yvonne @ Socrates' Book Reviews for the 
Cruisin' Thru the Cozies! Reading Challenge.


I do have to choose a level for this challenge 

Level 1 - Snoop - Read at least 6 books

Level 2 - Investigator - Read 7-12 books

Level 3 - Super Sleuth - Read 13-20 books

Level 4 - Sleuth Extraordinaire - Read 21 or more books


And I'm choosing Level 1--SNOOP.
I'm looking forward to this one--especially right now, as it is snowing outside and a good cozy sounds--well, it sounds GOOD!
Be sure and check out her link for more information as well.

**********

And last, but not LEAST I'm joining Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
for their "Cloak and Dagger" challenge where I will aim for an amateur sleuth! 

1-10 books – Amateur sleuth
11-20 books – Detective
21-30 books – Inspector
31+ books – Special agent


There will be a monthly link up with this one and pretty much any kind of mystery goes.
Again--- check out their page for the info.


This will do it for me!

Unless....

Foodie challenges!
Okay, so they are not really challenges, but rather weekly/monthly meme's or hops or whatever you want to call them.

I want to participate in 

every month this year!  It's once a month--you watch a movie, get inspired by something in the movie that moves  you to the kitchen to whip up something wonderful!

And I would LOVE to keep up with  I Heart Cooking Clubs.
It's a weekly link up....
This is a stress-free cooking club with a revolving roster of chefs. We feature two chefs (or cooks) a year.


And then there is Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen!
Nothing better than a good pot of soup!



That's all for now!
Bring on 2016!





A Man Called Ove


From Goodreads:
In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fryand Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

From Me:
A book-club favorite!  It was chosen at random by me, only because we had an empty month in November and I had seen it a bit on the internet.
We're so glad we read it!
It was just a feel good kinda book.
And also a feel melancholy kind of book in certain places.
I loved it---I can't think of anything else to add.
 
2 things.
 
*I do have to take issue that Ove was and 'old man' at 57.
I had to put that line out of my mind and make him older, because 57 is not old at all.  But I guess one can be a curmudgeon at any age.
 
*I LOVED the description of a marriage--comparing it to an old house.  How at first it's so exciting getting your own home, you love everything about it.  Then as time settles in,  you begin to see some flaws, but it's still your's.  And if that time comes to sell your home, you are sad, because you LOVE all those old flaws.
(it says it better in the book---but you get the idea anyway)
 
A great read.
4 stars. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monkey Town


From Goodreads:
In Evolving in Monkey Town, Rachel Held Evans recounts her experiences growing up in Dayton, Tennessee, a town that epitomized Christian fundamentalism during the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. With fearless honesty, Evans describes how her faith survived her doubts and challenges readers to re-imagine Christianity in a postmodern context, where knowing all the answers isn t as important as asking the questions."

This book is also available, with this same ISBN entitled "Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions"...with a published date of 2010 by Zondervan...it has the reddish cover, not this cover.

From Me:
3.5 stars!
A very interesting book about  soul searching, questioning, challenging and processing a growing and changing Christianity, within the author's self.
(if that makes any sense)

Friday Friend Recipe #89--Veggie Bars





 
 

 
Friday Friend Recipe #89: Veggie Bars
Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.
 
AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
 
I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.
 
Which brings me to this... recipe #89
 
My Mom's 
Veggie Bars



This appetizer was very popular at the turn of the century....about 15 years ago.
I don't see it much anymore, but it's still great.
I wonder why great things come and go?
My mom used to make it all the time, and it was once dubbed by my brother's friends VERY GOOD.  (I can't tell you what he really said---but suffice to say, he loved them)
 
You could actually use any type of vegetable you'd like---it would work with anything.



Veggie Bars
My mom, Bev Hambelton
 
 
2 tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls.
3/4 cup of mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
2 pkgs  8oz cream cheese
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup chopped green onion
3/4 cup diced tomato
3/4 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup chopped cauliflower
3/4 cup sliced carrots
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
 
Cover the bottom of an 11x17 baking pan with sheets of crescent dough, patting and stretching to fit.
Bake at 350 for 7 minutes or until lightly browned.
Combine mayo, sour cream, cream cheese and dressing mix.
Spread over cooled crust.
Distribute veggies evenly over the crust.
Sprinkle cheddar over all.  Cover with plastic wrap & push veggies lightly into crust.  Refrigerate--cut into squares and serve.
Yummy!


 
My mom has appeared 12 previous times in the countdown.  She liked recipes and cookbooks almost as much I do.
 
My very first nightmare---was one of my mom.  Well, of Indians.  The Indians had taken my mom and were going to burn her at the stake.
I GUESS I DON'T HAVE POLTICALLY CORRECT dreams!   But I was 5.
I must just seen part of an old western movie or something as I can't account for any reason I would think the Indians were going to kill my mother.
 
This picture has nothing to do with my nightmare or even of Indians, but my mom used to be a big teaser and she would tease my dad and I think in this picture he is thinking of shoving her into the swimming pool.
It's just a thought.
(he never would have, he adored her, but the look on his face.... ??)
 
We were a my niece's wedding. NOT their granddaughter---from the Handyman's side of the family.
It was a beautiful outside/backyard wedding.
 
 
 
And that my friends is recipe #89 in the countdown.
 
Coming up are some Taco Squares from the publisher
(typer upper of the recipes) of the Friday Friend Cookbook, Barbara Brown. 
 

My 2016 goal is to post a FF Recipe at least once a week.  Then maybe I will be close to finishing.
 
But then...what am I going to do with myself?






It's Monday! What are you Reading?

 
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!
 
I am right in the middle of this book by Karen White--The House on Tradd Street.
 
 
 
It would be considered "Women's Fiction" ...and I mention this for a couple of reasons.
One is that I steered away from the tag  "Women's Fiction" for years, but in the past 18 months or so,  I've read a bit and realized that I was really enjoying it. (That and Stephen King)
The storyline is usually fast-paced and light and entertaining. WF can be in done in a variety of themes too---a mystery, romance, suspense, general fiction.  They can be a bit of comic relief or take on a more serious tone, but
I enjoy it which brings me to the 2nd thing....
Kathryn at Book Date is hosting a 2016 Women's Fiction Challenge and I'm considering joining up.
In fact.....consider this my commitment post as well!
Guidelines are simple---I will let you visit Kathryn's Page for all the info, but as far as my commitment level goes...
 
Levels
  • Motivated 1- 5
  • Savvy     6 - 10
  • Classy    11- 20
  • Go-getter  20 -30
  • Fearless  30+
 
I am going to commit to
Savvy!
 
 
In other news, two of my grandchildren are here for the week and last night we started this book...


 
LOVE this book and they do too!  Although I am having to explain many things, such as why a 10-year old boy can go off to school with a popgun and wooden dagger.  It's not an easy thing to do, but beyond a couple of things like that they are loving it and while I think it's a great book also, I love the most that they cuddle up by my side and lay their heads against my shoulder and listen.
 
And that's my reading week!
 
I am counting down the days until I will start my---first book of the year!
 
Oh...and here is the  button for the Women's Fiction Reading Challenge.
Have a great week!
 
 

 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2016 Audiobook Challenge

 
I'm in again!
I have come to love a great story told to me by a good narrator.
It was fun last year and I do love a good audiobook, so....
 
Back by popular demand, Audiobook Challenge is back for 2016! Join The Book Nympho and Hot Listens for the 4th year of great audiobooks.
Audiobooks are great for those times you want to read but can’t for some reason like driving, doing chores, working out, or if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, listen to them at work.
 
Here are the guidelines and challenge levels:

reading challenge details:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button (on the sidebar) and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.

levels:

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30-50
  • Marathoner (Look Ma no hands) 50+


Last year I signed up for the Stenographer level, but I ended up listening/reading 40 audiobooks.  I guess I'll bump myself up to Binge Listener.  I know what you're thinking--I should be doing the "My Precious" level---but I am playing it cautious.  I think last year was a banner year for audio, but who knows, perhaps I'll end up being a Marathoner!
 
Check out the sign up post here for more info.

Foodies Read

 
2nd 2016 challenge accepted!
Because---food and books together?
Who could ask for anything more?
 
I've decided to join Heather at Based on a True Story, as she hosts the Foodies Read 2016 Challenge.
 
The idea is to read books about food and then 'sing their praises', as Heather says.
I can do that!
 
Here are the challenge levels:
Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19
 
Any genre of book qualifies for the challenge if food is a major part of the plot; it can even be a cookbook!
 
I think I am going to stick to Pastry Chef.  Eight books seems like a reasonable goal.  (for me, anyway)
 
What do you think? Want to join?

Newbery Reading Challenge 2016

 
First challenge accepted!
I will be participating this year in the 2016 Newbery Reading Challenge hosted by
Julie at Smiling Shelves.
To check out all the rules and guidelines, stop by her site and read up, then sign up.
 
I've always collected Newbery books, for my children's (now grandchildren's)  reading library  (housed in the spare room closet---but it makes a nice library nook)  but have not read any for a long, long time, so I'm very excited to start.
 
 I am going aim for the L'Enlge level, which is 15 books.
I can read Newbery award books, honor books and even a Caldecott Medal winner to qualify for points.
 
I'm excited to begin!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Jimmy Carter


From Goodreads:
The world's discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights: This is President Jimmy Carter's call to action.

President Carter was encouraged to write this book by a wide coalition of leaders of all faiths. His urgent report is current. It covers the plight of women and girls–strangled at birth, forced to suffer servitude, child marriage, genital cutting, deprived of equal opportunity in wealthier nations and "owned" by men in others. And the most vulnerable, along with their children, are trapped in war and violence.

He addresses the adverse impact of distorted religious texts on women, by Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims. Special verses are often omitted or quoted out of context to exalt the status of men and exclude women. In a remark that is certain to get attention, Carter points out that women are treated more equally in some countries that are atheistic or where governments are strictly separated from religion.

Carter describes his personal observations of the conditions and hardships of women around the world. He describes a trip in Africa with Bill Gates, Sr. and his wife, where they are appalled by visits to enormous brothels. He tells how he joined Nelson Mandela to plead for an end to South Africa's practice of outlawing treatments to protect babies from AIDS-infected mothers.

Throughout, Carter reports on observations of women activists and workers of The Carter Center. This is an informed and passionate charge about human rights abuses against half the world's population. It comes from one of the world's most renowned human rights advocates.

From Me:
3 stars
I love Jimmy Carter, but I only 'liked' this book. And I feel guilty for saying that.
It was very interesting, I learned a lot, but sometimes I felt like he was patting himself on the back.
I know that's not fair because he is a very humble man --- I think it's just the nature of writing a book like this one.
Still----LOVE him!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve


Happy Christmas Eve!

I have a sneaking suspicion that no one will be reading this post, as you all must be busy with that last minute holiday preparation--or just sitting and relaxing because you've worked yourself silly this season and are now done and ready to celebrate!


I've been having fun with Christmas music this year.  It's no secret that I love Christmas music.  I'm sad when December 26th rolls around I have to wait a whole year (or 10.5 months) to listen to it again. My family?  Eh...not so sad. 

Anyway,  I thought I'd share a few carols with you to wish you a Merry Christmas.
I hope wherever you are you are with someone you love and are laughing together over some great memories.

I grew up with the crooners singing, so that is what I associate real CHRISTMAS MUSIC to be.  Nat King Cole, Perry  Como, Andy Williams--- the records my mom played over and over.  That has always been Christmas music to me.  Nothing else can ever cut it.(  Except for the Partridge family, which is kind of a given because that was the first Holiday Music album I ever bought (circa 1971). )  ESPECIALLY  not  twangy country music.  That never did sound right to me.  
Until......until...... this year. I decided I like it.  And I'm talking real, old school, country music.  
I was going thru some of my mom's old records and CD's and she has on old Statler Brother's Christmas album, and I started listening to it  (They became country music lovers AFTER I left home), and I have fallen in LOVE with one of the songs and I would like to share it with you.

But first---- you have to listen to my crooners.....
Ahhhhhh.....the memories.


It was never Christmas until Nat King Cole sang his Christmas song at my mom's house!
Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra





A cigarette and a martini Christmas song!!
Dean Martin



And don't forget the Partridges! It's a POP-ROCK Carol! My first 'crossover' from the crooner.   I actually like this song.
The Partridge Family




Another classic fav of mine! Very cutting edge at the time you know!  Traditional Bing Crosby and  strange David Bowie? 
Bing and David




I'm just throwing this one in here.  It's a pretty recent song, but this one reminds me of my mom. She loved Christmas and it will always make me smile when I think of her on Christmas morning.
Sarah




A crooner and a country singer! I love them both!
Blake and Michael




I just discovered this song too! It's a fun one by King George.
George Straight




And my new Favorite Christmas Song!!
The Statler Brothers



Merry Christmas Friends!!  Have a blessed holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

This and That


I am so behind on everything blogging!   SO BEHIND!
I was kind of absent for a few weeks.  Life happens...and that's why I am in awe of all the other awesome bloggers who stay focused.

I need to get these two things out there before it's too late...before Christmas comes and goes and a New Year rolls around.

#1
I am participating with Sheila from Book Journey in


Last year (in which I did not participate) she did a collage of all who sent in their photos with the book they were reading on Jan. 1st.
(you can see it if you click on her link above).
SO COOL!
I have my book all picked out for this year---and it's just sitting there mocking me. Saying read me NOW.  But if I do...I might be done by midnight Dec 31st and I can't risk that! 
This one will be my New Year's Read!   
If you want to find out what it is, tune in to Book Journey on January 1st, 2016, where you will see me with book!
You will see everybody with their books!
What fun for us book nerds.  I can't wait.

Sheila says:
This is the third year I am hosting this event and this year, it is all the more important to me.  It was a year ago today that I put out last years request. I would love for you to join me in this tradition of picking the book that you will be reading into the new year.  It can be a coveted book that you have been waiting to read, a guilty pleasure book, a re-read of a favorite that you want to explore once again… whatever you want.
Our posts of what we are reading will go live on January 1st.  You do not need to be done with the book on January 1st, just reading it on January 1st and yes, you can start on the 31st and be reading into the New Year.  I would like to link up all your posts here on the 1st as well so others can visit you and cheer you on! 
Just check out her site and sign up.  It 's simple.


So that is a fun way to begin the new year... the other thing, I wanted to do along with Sheila takes a bit more of a serious turn...

#2
Read her post, One Word...What Can A New  Year Bring,  here.
She identifies herself as a life-long lover of words and talks about finding a website that challenged her to adopt a word that spoke to her in lieu of making a resolution for the new year.  One word that might represent her going into  a new year.

For 2016 she chose the word:  Courage.

At the end of her post she says:
I would love to have you do this with me.  What is your word for 2016?  How will you own it and why?

So, I too,  have looked at the list of words, and one jumped out at me right away.
My word will be: Accomplish.


Does it seem like a funny word to adopt for a new year?
Why did I choose it?
How will I own it?

ACK!  Well, I guess we'll have to see.  
I am good at accomplishing many things.
Things for my job (lots of events I get to organize, deadlines to meet, etc)
Things for my family.
Things for church.
Things for my friends.

But I don't ever accomplish much for myself.
I was going to say 'put myself first' but that sounds too common---and believe me, I do take time for myself, as I am basically an introvert and I NEED that time.
But I don't accomplish things to take care of myself.

I NEED to take care of some emotional and physical things for me!
It's important to my well-being that I accomplish certain things this year.

Accomplish:
to bring to its goal or conclusion; carry out;perform; finish:
to accomplish one's mission.

I just want to leave it at that for now.

What about you?   Do you have a word?







My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it ea...