Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#SalemAlong (it's over for me)

I am sad to say---it's over.
I've finished the book---and now my read-a-long time is done.
I'm taking my vampire teeth and moving on.
(Thanks for the vampire teeth Melissa --- they sat beside my computer every day while I listened to the audio version of the book. )
I know I'm a few days earlier in writing my post, but I am headed off to a little mini-vacation tomorrow.
This is the 2nd Stephen King Read-a-long I've participated in and it's been so much fun.
Besides making a few new friends,  I've discovered many blogs that I was unfamiliar with. There are so many amazing book lovers out there.
So, besides a good, fun read, thanks for exposing me to new people, new blogs, new friends Melissa, Care and Trish
(the co-hosts of this read-a-long)
My thoughts on Salem's Lot?
It was a GREAT October read!
It was my first time reading it and I was once again caught up in the characters in King's book.
I know he is the king (King is a king?) of setting up apprehension and fear, but he is also the king of character development---and I LOVE that.
You know his characters and then he slowly starts to set up the scene so that you are drawn in and before you know it--you really do want to put your book in the freezer!!
He can scare the poop out of you by his words!
He can also set the scene. Makes you understand where you are in a story....
""The town knew about darkness."
"The town has its secrets, and keeps them well."
Maybe he doesn't so much as set a scene but he makes you think of the place/scene as a whole separate character?  Perhaps.
One of the secrets is, of course, a vampire.
Not your teeny-bobber vampire (sorry Twilight) or your cheesy Barnabus Collins-type vampire  ( YES, I am really THAT old. Dark Shadows was my favorite after-school fright when I was 11), but this was a creepy, evil BAD vampire!
I have not read Dracula, but understand there a lot of comparisons.
I think one of our hosts is going to do a comparison post (Trish?), and I'm excited to hear what she has to say.
I didn't realize how much I loved a good scary read until this month.
When's the next Read-a-Long?
From Goodreads:
'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'Salem's Lot was a summer of home-coming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'Salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils... and found instead a new unspeakable horror.

A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.

All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.

Monday, October 26, 2015

R.I.P. Update

I did it!
I completed my  R.I.P.  X  challenge.
This challenge is hosted by Estella Revenge.
I had challenged myself to  Peril the 2nd.
(okay, yes, so it wasn't that hard to make my goal---I get that--but don't burst my bubble, okay?)
Peril the Second: Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P.categories.
My two books were:
Salem's Lot (just finished today! It was good and scary!) 
Review post coming up in a couple of days.
I made the Handyman watch Rosemary's Baby the other night.
It's really creepy.
There is no slashing, no vampires, no ghosts, but it's the idea of the....devil among us.
It's not for everybody, I know.  My friend Robin can't do anything 'devil'  (and yet, she does Stephen King???)  Anyway it's just a creepy, eerie movie.
The book was even better.  I read it a couple of Octobers ago.
To even myself out I had to watch Hocus Pocus.
For fun AND  for  a monthly food challenge called Food 'n Flix. (see my post here.)
And I'm hoping to watch a couple of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers this weekend while at my son's.
The Birds for one!
and to end it on the best note... I'll be watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" with my grandkids.  THE BEST Halloween flick ever.
Oh wait!  What if I don't have time for Don Knotts in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken?
It's been a fun October.

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!
It's Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.
Today I will finish up Salem's Lot.
I've taken part in a Read-a-Long #SalemAlong and it's been a lot of fun to see everyone's reactions.
I LOVE Stephen King--just sayin'
And tomorrow I'll probably finish Doll Baby.
It's soooo different from Salem's Lot--I feel I am in two different worlds as I go back and forth
(one on audio, one in print).
I'm liking them both.
This past week I read  Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.
I had to do it---for book club.
I didn't want to do it.  I was NOT going to do it.
But---it's book-club and the whole point is to read things out of our box, chosen by members and then discussing it.
Julie from Smiling Shelves actually helped me decide --- she told me that this was Harper Lee's first draft of Atticus and he wasn't fully developed until  To Kill a Mockingbird.
And to just keep that in mind.
So, I did just that.
And guess what?
I liked it.
I listened to the audio version read by Reese Witherspoon.  She did an OUTSTANDING job!
No, I wasn't exactly happy with Atticus, but he also wasn't 'evil'. 
He was just a man.
3 stars.

From Goodreads:
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Food 'n Flix -- Boogers on a Stick (yes, I really made them!)

Food 'n Flix is a group of bloggers who get together every month to watch a movie, and then head into the kitchen and mix up something inspired by the flick. 
There is always room for another pillow in front of the tellie, and another chair around the table. So if you're a blogger who wants to join in the fun, please feel free to jump in at any moment.
 October's  Flick was chosen by Elizabeth from The Lawyer's Cookbook.   She  chose to the movie Hocus Pocus!  One of my very favorite Halloween movies.
check out her announcement post here---and play along next month!
I do have to say, this isn't the most creative thing I've ever done. I mean, I just picked my nose. 
NO, I didn't, really, that would be too gross.
I just dug out the ear wax out of my ear.
Well, I raised three boys and nothing was off limits at the dinner table.
I developed a very strong stomach.

I took my boys to go see Hocus Pocus the very first year it came out in 1993.
We drove to a town 12 miles away because it was not shown in our little theater.
We all loved it.   Me in particular. I mostly love that the fall colors are so vibrant. Nothing like we have in Nevada (or central CA where we lived in '93).
Last week, after watching the movie for Food 'n Flix,  I sent a copy of this movie to all my grandchildren.  I haven't heard their verdict yet.
There isn't a lot of food references but food is all around, right?  Can't you just see Boogers on a Stick at the dance?  Or at the very proper Halloween  party at Allison's parents?  Nah, probably not there.
How about the bullies?  If I were to speak in 'kid' speak about my treat, I would say that I hope the bullies got to eat boogers!!
(I need to stop saying boogers, don't I?)
I am headed down to Arizona to spend Halloween with 2 of my grandchildren, where we will watch this movie,  carve pumpkins, and  have some Boogers on a Stick, because they will LOVE IT! (the movie and the boogers.  They'll be laughing the whole time)-- that's really where I got my inspiration. 
I just wanted all of them to have fun and make great memories.
And then, after we eat a couple boogers on sticks, (sorry)  we could have some of this
"Retching Ralph"
I made this one with strawberry daiquiris, because I wasn't with my grandkids, yet!
It's supposed to look like vomit.
YES vomit!  I mentioned that I raised 3 boys right?
Drinking vomit is perfectly normal around Halloween time. 

For the verdict?  My verdict.
The Boogers were okay.
Ralph's Retch was really good!
Yep, it had chunky stuff in it.  You just have to get over that.
I have had this little cookbook on my shelf every since my boys were little and I would make cat poop cake for them.
(I love a good celebration...and what brings people together more than food?)
So as I was watching Hocus Pocus earlier this month, my mind turned to this and I thought--why not?
Hocus Pocus reminded me of Gross Grub.
And all of it reminded me of family and making funny memories together.
So, I will also count this as #81 in my personal Cookbook Countdown.
Do you really want to see the recipe more clear?

okay then...
Cheeze Whiz in a jar, green food coloring and pretzel sticks.
microwave Cheeze Whiz and add food coloring.  Dip pretzels in it and set on waxed paper.
The boogers in the book are bigger than mine.  I had a bit of trouble getting big ones. 
Ralph's Retch
strawberry Jell-O
ice cubes--crushed
strawberry soda  (or a strawberry daiquiri)
add alternately to a glass,  crushed ice, Jell-O and top it with soda.
Mmmmm...  sweet gloopy goopy puke.
But it tastes really good.

Sunday Post

I've never done a Sunday Post before.
This is a first for me.
Hellloooo Everybody!
The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It is overcast and gray (grey?) here in Northern Nevada.
We don't get much rain, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Which would make it a good day to stay inside and read. Or bake.  Bake and Read!
I have my Pandora set to shuffle---I just went from Ambrosia to R.E.M. to the Eagles.  (I just gave away my age, didn't I?)
But, because it's on Shuffle-- Harry Connick Jr. is now singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  (guess I should take off my Holiday channels before starting the shuffle) And while I do love Christmas music, it's still a bit early for me.
This past week on my blog:
Before I go on.... I am trying to make every recipe in a homemade cookbook (it's called the Friday Friend Cookbook ), so besides books, I have quite a few food posts. 
This meme is now being hosted by Kathrine at Book Date.
Dinner with my Foodie Friends.
I don't have the words to say how much fun we have.
This meme is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.
A fun way to share what we might be reading soon!
A view from the train window.
Where I answer the question--what one book still haunts me today?
A book review---even tho I don't really 'review'.
From my favorite mother-in-law.
Wow!  8 posts---that is a lot for me!
Blogging things to accomplish before Wednesday morning:
When I am headed to Arizona to see some grandchildren!
Posts on:
Food 'n Flix
Stephen King Read-a-long  (Salem's Lot)
Books I want to finish this week:
Doll Baby
Salem's Lot (I better hurry if I want to write up a post in the next 2 days)
Kitchen's of the Great Midwest
Craziest thing I did this past week?
I decided to see what kind of Clam Chowder was everyone's favorite.   Let me tell you, I live an exciting life!  Made 3 different clam chowders and 3 desserts/treats and 4 appetizers in one day, for our Friday Night Friends.
The ones we have dinner with every Friday night, IF neither of us is doing anything else.
We've been doing it for years and years.
17 to be exact.
It is so comfortable and normal I can wear my slippers over there if I want to.
And sometimes I do.

I hope to post on this sometime this week too, BUT I don't know if I can make it, so you just might have to wait until November.
Speaking of November, I'm going to participate in:
Besides participating in their weekly post challenges, I plan on reading a couple of great non-fiction books this month.

Sometimes when we don't have a book on CD, I have been known to read aloud to the Handyman when we are on road trips.
It's 12 hours to Phoenix. He's in for a treat!  LBJ--ha ha!
I keep hoping that the rain has begun, but it will probably blow over us like it does 98% of the time.
I am going to leave you with a few pics of the Clam Chowder Cookoff
(where I was the winner AND the loser!)
And I hope to post about this.... soon.


and to keep it real
(I stole that line from the Pioneer Woman)
When the night is over,  my kitchen looks like this....
(or maybe her inner-vampire is coming out?)

I asked my sweet daughter-in-law to make the Bourbon Bread Pudding.
(it's so good and warm and bourbony right out of the oven with a bourbon glaze)
And a fine job she did.
(she and my friend Robbie, who will be pictured in the REAL blog post)


Men with beer bottles playing cribbage in the background.
I told you, we are wild on Friday Nights!
(it looks like the Handyman has a question?)
(like when can we have some chowder?)
I'm giving away too much!
Stay tuned.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #81 -- Bacon Cream Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

Friday Friend Recipe #81-- Bacon Cream Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
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 #81

My Favorite Mother-in-law, Teresa Belcher's,
Bacon Cream Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

Can I say "ugh"?
Not because these weren't good---they were.
But because they were hard to stuff!!
If someone else were to stuff them, I'd eat them every day!
Fresh cool tomatoes---Mmmmmm.
Cream cheese and bacon?   Double Mmmmmm.
If you have the time (it really didn't take THAT much time) and want something special, then make these.
They are Yummy!

Bacon Cream Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
Teresa Belcher
Pasco, Washington
3 pints cherry tomatoes, tops removed
2 8-oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
12 slices of crisply cooked bacon
1/4 c. minced green onion
1/4 c. minced parsley
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
Hollow out tomatoes with a melon baller. Beat together: cream cheese, crumbled bacon, onions, parsley and sauce.
Stuff mixture into tomatoes.

This will be my favorite Mother-in-Law's 3rd appearance from the Friday Friend Cookbook.
We are game players.   Board games and cards. (we are exciting like that)
BUT, our friend Barbara Brown  (the editor of the PRINT copy of the Friday Friend Cookbook. The one who originally typed them all up)  is a HUGE game player. 
One cannot compete with her or her family.
Here is a picture of my favorite little old Italian mother-in-law, Teresa Maria Solaro Stone Belcher, and Barb at my house about 15 years ago.
I think it was my son Luke's graduation, and he will be 36 in a few months, so, 18 years ago maybe.
Anyway, (I get side-tracked with my own reminiscing)  we were getting ready to play some games!

These were the teams!  Spouse against spouse!
below are (from left to right)
The Handyman,  Barb,  One of my favorite brothers-in-law, Mikey, then my dad Mike and the Handyman' Mom, Teresa.
As you can tell they were the winners!

Then the LOSERS!
My father-in-law, Phil, Cherrie Lou Who--oops, do I see a bird? (sigh.  You really have to watch her) me with the game on my head and then my mom, with her head hidden in my back, and Barb's husband Doug.

 These guys are sore winners!!

Down with them!

I don't know if you remember, but the last time I did a FF recipe post from my mom, I wrote about her 1959 memory? (see it here)
So, today, I'll write what my mother-in-law wrote for her answer:
(but again---don't think these things are sad.  We are very happy with how our lives have turned out)
From my favorite mother-in-law:
In 1959, I was married to Dick Stone and lived on Merrill Ct. in Richland, Washington.  Had Rich(aka The Handyman) and Eva and in February that year, LeAnne was born.
Life was pretty much the same as it had been in 54, 55, 56, 57 and 1958.  In about May of that year I discovered that Dick was in love with a woman named Myrtle. Things started to fall apart with the marriage.
Yes, it does seem like a really, horrible, no-good, very bad year.
But it got better.
Dick and Teresa went on to have 2 more children before the marriage ended.
(Cherrie Lou Who and Greg)
Then they divorced.
Each married again to wonderful people.
Teresa, my favorite Mother-in-law, married Phil (who had been their neighbor in earlier times--it's beginning to sound like  a soap-opera) who had 3 children, Barbara, Ron and Carla.
And they had another son together, Scott (of the famous Sassy Meatballs, see here)
Dick met and married Patricia (Pat) who had 3 daughters, Marsha, Nancy and Lori.  They had a son together, Mike.
As divorces and mixed families go, they were all one big happy family.
It took some time, but it finally got there.
In fact one year, a few years ago, Rich's dad, Dick and Pat were traveling and they found themselves in Washington state so stopped in on* Rich's mom, Teresa and Phil, to visit and catch up.
(*The Handyman's dad is a "stopper in"  "just drop by" kind of guy. I am still not used to this---even after 37 years of marriage.  I am not spontaneous and it is very HORRIBLE for me to have people just pop in.  But I love him, so I learned to deal with it.)
Geez.  I just wrote Rich instead of the Handyman.
He once told his elementary school teacher that he was one of 13 siblings.
And that's pretty much how he has felt. Does feel.
And that's why we feel blessed that life turned out the way it did.

My favorite mother-in-law used to write a Family Newsletter--back in the day before we all used email.
I miss those days. Actually I miss the family newsletter!

HA!  I sent her a recipe.
Imagine that!
That's my story. 

Five Days Left

From Goodreads:
Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.
 Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.  
From Me:
I'm not quite sure what I think of this book. 
At first it was so-so for me, then it was good for me and by the end it had me in tears (in a good way).
It was all those things mentioned in the Goodreads review-- the power of relationships, what a topic!
This might be a good book club book as the discussion could be endless.
3.876 stars from me!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted each week by
This week's question is:
 Name one book you've read in the past that still haunts you today.
My answer is:
It would have to be Stephen King's, The Shining.
I loved it and it is one of my favorite books ever. 
But I was reading it at our cabin, in the woods.  Granted, we have neighbors--it's right by a Wallowa Lake State Park-- but they are few and far between.  And it's the woods!  Dark Forest. Wild animals roaming about.
For some reason, I remember being alone.
Reading at night.
It has always amazed me how that man can put a string of words together in a sentence that scares the hell out of you.
I mean---it's words.  Written down.
That's it.
If I do it, it sounds like this:  It was a dark and stormy night and the creepy monster was peeking thru the window as I sat reading a Stephen King novel.
See?  Not so scary.
Whether you like scary or not,  you have to agree it takes talent to be able to scare and unnerve readers by just words on paper.
I am participating in a read-a-long this month:  Salem's Lot.
This one might stay with me for a long time too.
Yes, another Stephen King book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Outdoor Wednesday

On Wednesdays I'll sometimes join A Southern Daydreamer and her Outdoor Wednesday meme to share these pictures.
Stop by and check out other great photos of the outdoors!

Once in a while, I take the train to see my grand-kids in California.
I love the train.
I know that it's slower than taking a plane, BUT for me, I can catch train here in town vs driving 2.5 hours to the airport, and then paying for parking.
It's roomier than a plane.
You can get up and walk around on a train.
You can go to the little cafe on a train.
You can sit in the observation car on a train.
They are just really, really slow. ( Amtrak)
If you live on the West Coast that is.  There are a lot of mountains.

Anyway, I love to take the train to the Bay Area.  I look at it as  10 hours of forced reading for me.  Ohhhhh, that's so sad.  (she laughs)

Train tracks follow a different path than the interstate freeway system. Interstates were made to go the fastest way---not always the prettiest way. You really need to drive the back highways and roads to see pretty.

Trains usually go  thru industrial areas,  backwoods, and some seedy areas.

I took some photos from my last trip in the spring.  Just shots from my train window.
They're not great photos, but I just find the whole train thing-- interesting, fun, melancholy (train whistles at night) , romantic, wistful....

This is the first set of photos.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...