Feb 102016


The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062413325
ISBN-13: 978-0062413321

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

I loved this book. It takes place in Manhattan during the week of Thanksgiving. It brought back a lot of memories because my family and I spent the week of Thanksgiving in NYC, and our hotel was in Manhattan. I wish I had known about the Ramble when I went to Central Park, I would have loved to have checked it out. It sounds like a great place to take a walk, birdwatch, or just sit and read or people watch.

I really enjoyed the three main characters, and Tate also. I loved how even though they all should have been confident in their lives, no one is immune to self doubt and confusion. I loved the relationship between Clio and Smith. Both could depend on the other unconditionally.

The book was full of emotions, the characters had real life problems and struggles and that made them seem “real”. I absolutely loved it. I’m sure I’ll pick it up in the future to give it a re-read.

I highly recommend this book!

About The Author
63272547-84fb-48c3-bc82-fa4efa5988dd Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, but her dream (long unconscious) was always to write. She is the author of a novel, Life After Yes; blogs at IvyLeagueInsecurities.com; contributes to The Huffington Post; and is the founder and curator of the popular Happier Hours Literary Salons. The middle of five sisters, she lives in New York with her husband and three young daughters.


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Feb 092016


Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


Hosted by Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea
Share the first paragraph of the book you are currently reading
or thinking about reading soon.

1st chapter
I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted @ A Daily Rhythm.
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

page 128:
Molly’s been surprised to find that she looks forward to it. Ninety-one years is a long time to live-there’s a lot of history in those boxes, and you never know what you’ll find.

Feb 062016

This week at I ♥ Cooking Clubs we’re making Oodles Of Noodles with Ellie Krieger. After doing quite a bit of searching, I decided to make an adapted version of her Family Favorite Minestrone.

Family Favorite Minestrone
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, scrubbed well, then diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
28 ounces canned, no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
48 ounces (6 cups) no-salt-added vegetable broth or chicken broth
15 ounces canned, no-salt-added small red beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dried, whole-grain elbow pasta
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper; cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.

Add the zucchini, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, then add the beans and pasta.

Uncover; increase the heat to medium-high just long enough to return the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.

Divide among individual bowls; garnish each portion with the cheese.

Serves 6


So yummy!

I’ve only eaten Minestrone a few times, and that was canned. This recipe was so much better. I loved it. It was easy to make and didn’t take much time and it tasted so good! The next time I make it I think I’ll add garbanzo beans, corn and baby spinach. We had a French Baguette (you can see it in the first photo behind all the ingredients) to go with it and it was a very satisfying meal. I took the photo before adding the cheese, just so you could get a good look at the soup. I adjusted the recipe a bit by adding 2 cans of un-rinsed beans instead of one rinsed (I added the other can after the picture), and used plain Parmesan cheese. Also, I was going to use vegetable broth but the store only had chicken and beef with no-salt added.

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Feb 042016


Fit at Fifty and Beyond: A Balanced Exercise and Nutrition Program
by F. Michael Gloth, Rudy Speckamp (Contributor)

Series: A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: DiaMedica; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979356474
ISBN-13: 978-0979356476

As people reach their fifties, the body’s metabolism slows. Without a change in eating or exercise habits, it’s common to put on weight and become less able to perform routine physical activities. Fit at Fifty and Beyond provides practical suggestions for eating and exercise that help readers look and feel better as the years go by. Beginning with a discussion of how evolution made it possible for humans to store energy efficiently — which translates into weight gain as we age — the authors spell out a strategy for eating and exercising wisely. Sample recipes translate the guidelines into healthy and delicious meals, while the chapters on exercise offer tips on choosing an exercise program that corresponds with each individual’s personality and favorite activities. By taking these simple steps as early as possible, readers can stave off or even prevent many of the effects of aging.

This is an older book (1999), but full of helpful information. One of the things the author says is that you shouldn’t concentrate on the number on your scale. Instead, go by the changes you see in your body. If you do weight yourself, do it first thing in the morning. Workouts should also be done in the morning if possible, but anytime you can do it will benefit your health. I’ve always relied more on how my clothes and body felt than I did  on the scale. I’ve also always tried to workout first thing in the morning because if I didn’t, I may not get it done.

When eating healthier, I’ve always given myself one day a week to eat something I’ve been craving. Having that day to look forward too really helps me stick to the plan the rest of the week. The author agrees on that.

There are a lot of subjects in this smallish book including Getting Started, Maintaining Your Diet & Exercise Lifestyle When You Travel, Nutritional Supplements/Dietary Considerations/Food-Medication Interactions, Defining What’s Right For You and some Recipes.  There are a lot of photos of different exercises with instructions on doing them which will be helpful to anyone just starting to workout.

There really isn’t any new information in this book for people who are knowledgeable in this area, but it is a helpful guide for someone who is 50 or over and is just learning or wants a refresher course. It tells you how to start eating healthier, some exercises you can do at home or away from home, what to eat after you exercise, what multivitamins and minerals your body needs and  more. The most important thing he says is, (at least to me) that we need to drink a lot of water. I try to drink 80-100 oz. of water a day and I know I feel better when I do.

Overall, this is a good book and I enjoyed reading it.

Feb 022016


Hosted by Joy @ Joy’s Book Blog

My walking was ok, I did from 2-4 miles each day. I seem to be lacking motivation for everything else. I only did strength training twice and no tai-chi/chi-gong. I need to shut down my brain and stop going over and over things in my mind that I can’t do anything about. This weeks priority is to buckle down and make sure I do my workouts at least three times. I also need to start meditating which will help clear my mind.

Believe it or not I made a menu plan for the week:
Tuesday: Chicken in a Hurry & Sweet Potatoes
Wednesday: Ellie Krieger’s Easy Tomato Sauce with wheat pasta & Texas Toast
Thursday: Left over Chicken In A Hurry & Pea Salad
Friday: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan & Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Carrots
Saturday: Boca Burgers
Sunday: Eat out
Monday: Fish & Fries

Jan 312016

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.


Please join us on Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye where Leslie, Serena, and I will share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.


An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World: Country-By-Country Prayer Guide .Inspiring Faith Stories .On-The-Ground Insights .Up-To-Date-Maps by Brian C Stiller

26266310 A Country-by-Country Prayer Guide
The world is getting smaller. Cutting ourselves off from Christians around the world is not an option. In many countries, the rise of persecution fuels concern over the safety and rights of believers, while other nations that used to be closed to the Gospel are seeing unprecedented numbers of conversions to Christianity. As global ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance, what Dr. Brian Stiller experiences on the ground in these nations is often counter to our impressions. As he listens to people’s ideas and observes their innovations, he invites you to see and hear what he does.
“An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World” includes country-specific insights calling us to a deeper understanding of the Christian church and witness. Each chapter also provides prayer challenges that come from believers in the country as well as maps and sample prayers. Nations from every continent are included.
Be inspired to learn about other lands–both familiar ones, such as China and Kenya, and ones you may know very little about, like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But more important, take part in God’s work by praying for the real needs of your brothers and sisters around the world.


The Boat Man: A Thriller by Dustin Stevens

26495964 Detective Reed Mattox, just three months removed from the death of his partner, has turned invisibility into an art form. Switching to the K-9, taking over the graveyard shift, moving to a farmhouse miles outside of Columbus, his every move has become predicated on putting as much distance between himself and the outside world as possible.

That distance is shattered though when bodies begin turning up in The Bottoms, the poverty-stricken section of town he is assigned to patrol. Grisly, horrific scenes start to pop up in the middle of the night and the overburdened precinct has no choice but to put Reed on it.

Now operating far outside of his comfort zone with a Belgian Malinois for a partner that attracts attention wherever they go, Reed is forced to unravel the murders, taking him clear across the city and back years in time, to an event that some very influential people will do anything to keep buried…


Out of Sorts by Aurélie Valognes, Wendeline A. Hardenberg (Translator)

27842686 Ferdinand Brun hasn’t always been a grumpy old man. Many years ago, he was a grumpy young man. Now he’d much rather spend time with his canine companion, Daisy, than any of his nosy neighbors. But as his behavior becomes increasingly peculiar, his daughter grows concerned and begins to consider moving him into a retirement home.

In order to maintain his freedom, Ferdinand must submit to an apartment inspection by his longtime enemy, the iron-fisted concierge, Mrs. Suarez. Unfortunately, he’s never tidied up a day in his life. His neighbors, precocious ten-year-old Juliette and vivacious ninety-two-year-old Beatrice, come to the rescue. And once he lets these two into his life, things will never be the same. After an eighty-three-year reign of grouchiness, Ferdinand may finally learn that it’s never too late to start living.


The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittainy C. Cherry (Goodreads Author)

25564446 I was warned about Tristan Cole.

“Stay away from him,” people said.
“He’s cruel.”
“He’s cold.”
“He’s damaged.”

It’s easy to judge a man because of his past. To look at Tristan and see a monster.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to accept the wreckage that lived inside of him because it also lived inside of me.

We were both empty.
We were both looking for something else. Something more.
We both wanted to put together the shattered pieces of our yesterdays.

Then perhaps we could finally remember how to breathe.

Jan 312016


The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry, Siân Reynolds (Translator)

Hardcover, 92 pages
Published February 14th 2013 by Maclehose Press (first published 2010)
Original TitleLa cote 400
ISBN 0857051415 (ISBN13: 9780857051417)

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight.

She starts to talk to him, a one-way conversation that soon gathers pace as an outpouring of frustrations, observations and anguishes. Two things shine through: her shy, unrequited passion for a quiet researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love of books.

A delightful flight of fancy for the lonely bookworm in all of us… (less)

My first thoughts about the book were not very good, it was quite a different type of read than I was used to. But as I kept reading, the book got better and better. A librarian goes to work one morning and finds a man who was locked in the library overnight sleeping in the basement where she works. She wakes him up and begings talking to him. It was one sided conversation and it took me a while before I started really enjoying what I was reading. She tells the man, a researcher named Martin, all about her job and how much she loves books but she’s not a fan of her co-workers or the library patrons.

The book is only just over 90 pages so it can be read in one sitting. I ended up loving this book and would like to read it again sometime. It was very intertaining and the librarian really grew on me.

If you like short quirky books, take a chance on this one. I’m glad I did.

Jan 312016


It’s time for the first Potluck of 2016 for  I Heart Cooking Club

I spent about 3 days searching through the recipes of the chefs and finally came across this one. We love mac & cheese so I was excited when I found it. I was extra excited when I realized I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry.

Rick Bayless: Salsa Mac & Cheese
Recipe from Season 7, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 8

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa or your favorite salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound dried pasta (though elbow macaroni will do, I suggest you try cork-screw cavatappi or the spiral rotini or fusilli)

Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot, cover and set over high heat.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, 4 or 5 minutes. (Whisk diligently and there will be no lumps.) Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.

When the water has come to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce. You’re ready to dig in.

Rick Bayless Mac & Cheese

I substituted the salsa for my second favorite (my very favorite has corn and black beans in it and I wasn’t sure how that would work) and used elbow macaroni since that’s what I had.

The mac & cheese turned out really good and I plan on making it again. I also want to try some of his other recipes since this is the first one I made. You can visit his site here.


I made this for I Heart Cooking Club


Jan 302016

Since I live at least an hour from any city that has a Whole Foods, I’ve never been to one. I usually just go to where I need to and go back home. Once in a while we’ll roam around a bit to see what we can see. That’s how I found a Trader Joe’s a few months back, and then yesterday after my son had some drs. appts. in Tampa, we decided to go to some pet stores we’ve never been to (don’t you love GPS?) and passed a Whole Foods and stopped on the way back to check it out. That store is amazing! I loved it! They’re a bit more expensive on some things, but we saw some food we’ve never seen before like 4 strange varieties of sweet potatoes. We bought one of each to try them. I also found Kiss My Face products. I love this brand and can’t find them anywhere in the area I live. I bought a bottle of their deep moisturizing lotion for 50% off! I’ve also been looking for Garam Masala and found some there.

I was surprised to see that they had so many different departments. Their meat looked amazing as did the seafood. If we had been going straight home I would have bought some. They also have a floral section and cheese shop, but what surprised me the most was their buffet style food tables. They had one for soup, one for all kinds of different foods, and one for olives. What? Yes, they had an olive bar. I was amazed at how many different types of olives they had. Neither one of us knew there were that many different varieties of olives. When we told my daughter about it she said the same thing. The soup bar was amazing too and we smelled every one of them. There was one that smelled over the top yummy and I plan on making it soon. We didn’t get a photo of all the bars (wish we had) but we did get one of the olives. There’s even a little section where you can sit down at a table and enjoy the food. We were there around noon and quite a few people were eating their lunch there.

If you haven’t been to a Whole Foods (and Trader Joe’s) before, you really should find one and go. I love them both.

whole foods olive bar


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Saturday Snapshot

Jan 262016


A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White


Hosted by Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea
Share the first paragraph of the book you are currently reading
or thinking about reading soon.

1st chapter
Prologue: Wild Sow (Emancipation Township, North Carolina, 1929)

For Alice, looking at James was like looking back at herself, only a washed-out, lighter version, and with short wavy hair instead of plaits held in place with pieces of torn-up muslin. Alice had been looking at James all twelve years of her life, she who entered the world exactly fifteen months after her brother. From a young age they would have staring contests: first one to blink lost. They were constantly engaging in these battles of will, though Alice was always the loser. James could stare through the tears building up in his eyes, while Alice couldn’t bear the sting.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted @ A Daily Rhythm
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

page 221
I think Daddy loves me. I am almost sure he does.

Jan 242016

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.


On Wednesday join Serena, Leslie and I for Books That Caught Our Eye where each of us share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.


Autobiographical Trilogy by Leo Tolstoy
28552735 Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) was a Russian writer who earned fame and global renown for his novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Writing during the late 19th century, Tolstoy lived during a literary period in which Realism flourished, and today his two novels are considered the apex of realist fiction. Tolstoy is also known for his complex and somewhat paradoxical persona, holding both moralistic and ascetic views during the final decades of his life.



25817523 The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.


last The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn
Iliana Passing—wife, mother, and former acclaimed journalist—gave up her career to start a family. Almost fifteen years later, despite how much she loves her husband and kids, she can’t help wondering how she ended up with a life spent carpooling and running errands.

Ready to get back into the journalism game, Iliana searches for an exciting lead. When she discovers that Jeff Downs, the heartthrob star of an old TV show and her girlhood crush, now owns a nearby textile company, she thinks she’s found her story: teen celebrity and its aftermath. But as Iliana gets to know Jeff, the two grow closer than she ever could’ve imagined. Now that her teenage dream has walked into her present-day reality, how far will she go to entertain an old fantasy?


brokenBroken Grace by E. C. Diskin
On an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbot wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouse to recover—but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

And someone is watching. Someone willing to kill again to protect a secret.


24602308 Sparrow Migrations by Cari Noga
An airplane plunges into an icy river and the world witnesses the dramatic rescue. Then, life after the Miracle on the Hudson landing puts three families on another crash course…with their own fragile humanity.

Airplane passenger Deborah DeWitt-Goldman knows her survival means one last chance to start the family she so badly desires—no matter the cost to her marriage. Preacher’s wife Brett Stevens witnesses the event from a ferry, burdened by a secret that could destroy her family. And while twelve-year-old Robby Palmer’s desperate parents struggle to reach through the fog of his autism, the boy discovers a deep connection to the birds responsible for the crash.

Now, all of them must navigate the crosscurrents of the consequences of their decisions…and when their paths collide a second time, another miracle just might happen.

Award-winning author Cari Noga’s Sparrow Migrations is an inspiring, heartfelt look at the crucible of crisis and the power of human connection.

Jan 232016


Healing Foods: Nutrition For The Mind, Body, And Spirit
by Michael van Straten

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Barnes Noble Books
ISBN-10: 0760706204
ISBN-13: 978-0760706206

Healing Foods: Nutrition for the Mind, Body, and Spirit shows you how you can successfully harness the healing power of food and how you can adapt your eating pattern to prevent disease and promote well-being. Divided into four sections, it covers the nutritional needs of people of all ages, offers an index of positive foods, lists ailments that can be cured or helped by a change in eating habits, steers the reader through the vitamin and mineral maze, and gives useful information on supplements and food additives.

This book only has 224 pages, but it’s packed full of information. It has 4 parts, each with quite a few chapters.

Part 1 is Food For Life
It covers a wide range of topics like Free Radicals and Antioxidants, Strength and Stamina (for men, women, teen girls and teen boys), Pregnancy, Menopause, and Memory/Concentration.

Part 2 is The Food Index
The first chapter explains in detail What Is Nutrution? It lists a few specific diets: Vegetarian, Mederterranean, Macrobiotic, Food Combining, Exclusion, and Convalescent. Next the book covers the different types of food like fruit, veggies, fats/oils, bread, eggs etc. It’s very detailed, even covering cerals and drinks. I learned that cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are part of what is called Brassicas.

Part 3 is Ailments That Food Can Help Heal
This is my favorite. It includes sections on foods that can help or prevent different conditions like allergies, alopecia, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood sugar, bronchitis, childhood diseases like chicken pox and German measles, food poisoning, shingles, varicose veins and more. It gives you tips on what to eat/drink and explains what’s causing it.

Part 4 is Useful Information
This chapter has a section on Abbreviations. COAD stands for Chronic Obstuctive Airways Disease, WHO stands for World Health Organization, ADI stants for Acceptable Daily Intake. There are many more in this list too. More chapters cover Vitamins/Minerals, Medicine and Drugs, Additives, Further Reading guide, a really long list of Useful Addresses like Alzheimer’s Association, Epiepsy Foundation Of America, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, and an Index.

I’ve had a few similar books throughout the years but I think this is the best I’ve seen. I love it so much I want to buy a copy  so I can have it handy. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Jan 202016

Most of you know that I lost my babydog Patches in September. I NEVER thought I’d get another dog, but I did say that if I found a Puppy Mill survivor, I’d gladly adopt her/him. My son and I have been looking for a for weeks, and finally on Wednesday, the 13th (which btw was my oldest son’s birthday) I did find one, and  did adopt her.  Another thing I kept saying was that I wouldn’t adopt any dog that looked in any way like Patches. And Desi definitely doesn’t.



Desi panting


This is Dessabell (we call her Desi). Isn’t she adorable? I’ve never had a really small dog and would not have gone looking for a Pekingese, but a shelter in Sarasota had a bunch of puppy mill dogs and when I saw her I knew she was the one I wanted. Desi was found in a puppy mill that a woman had at her home, and was one of 250 dogs.  I just don’t understand how anyone could harm an innocent animal. So horribly sad! Anyway, I kinda felt like I was…(don’t know if betraying is the right word) but I did feel a lot of bad/sad thoughts about getting another dog because of Patches, but I knew she would want me to rescue this broken doggy.

My son and I took Desi to the vet yesterday just to make sure she was doing ok because she was spayed the day before we adopted her, and also to get more detailed information on her health than we got when we adopted her. She does have a few missing teeth, had two ticks and some fleas, but that’s pretty much it other than underweight from not being fed enough. I plan on getting her groomed toward the end of the month, as soon as her stitches heal.

She just turned 2 years old on Dec. 31st. The longer a dog is in a puppy mill the worse their health is. She doesn’t walk around much because of being in a small cage with other dogs and not having room to walk around.  She isn’t housebroken since she was living in a cage and not being taken outside, and hasn’t figured out grass yet. It’s a new feel, new smell etc. And she still can’t hold much food at a time, but all these things will improve with time. She is starting to wag her tail when we go near her or talk to her. She’s never been on a leash, so doesn’t quite know that she’s supposed to walk so we have to work on that, plus (something I never thought of) even though she’s 2 years old, she was never taken outside to potty, so she isn’t housebroken. Oh me! Thank God I have a really really powerful shampooer, lol! It’s been 18 years since I had to potty train Patches, so I hope this goes well.

She has quite a few things in common with Patches. Not laying with their whole body on their bed, picking a piece of food out of the food bowl and laying it on the floor then picking it up again to eat it, love getting rubbed on the head. So far that’s the only things that they both have in common but I’m sure I’ll notice more as time goes by. I kinda think Patches led me to this dog. They are so much alike.

If any of you have any tips or advise as far as helping a puppy mill dog acclimate to living with a family and being a part of the family, I’d be very thankful. Desi has been through so much and I want her to know that there are people who will love her and never starve or be mean to her.

I still haven’t gotten over the loss of Patches and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and shed a tear for her (and her daddy Henry) but today when I was holding Desi and talking to her, a thought popped into my head that really clicked in my brain.  “We’ll help each other heal”.  That was such an “aha” moment and it sure did bring on the leaky eyes, but I know that’s what we’re doing. Helping Each Other Heal.

Jan 192016


Hosted by Joy @ Joy’s Book Blog

I missed posting on 1/12/16 for the week before because I wasn’t home most of the days and just didn’t get many posts done. I don’t think I did one of the weekly memes I usually do other than the ones I was responsible for like Mailbox Monday and Books That Caught Our Eye. As for exercise, I did lots of walking, about 2-3 miles a day. I did some of my other daily goals, but not all.

For last week, walking was ok, again about 2-3 miles a day, but I didn’t do the workouts on the day I was supposed to, so from now on I’m not going to specify what day to do what. I’ll just make sure I get it all done.

So here’s the updated plan:
Pray & Meditate
Deep Breathing
Stretching daily
Walk 2-4 miles
Drink 10 glasses of water or more per day

Weekly: 3 times each
Strength train
Eat meatless 2-3 times

As for meal planning, I got it done for this week.
Tuesday: BLT Grilled Cheese
Wednesday: Gyudon
Thursday: Coca Cola Pork Chops with sweet potato casserole
Friday: ? Eating Out
Saturday: Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken
Sunday: Taco Salad
Monday: Seven Up Roast with carrots and potatoes

It’s supposed to warm up some a few days this week, so I’m hoping to get a day or two of biking in. I do love my bike!!

Jan 172016

mmb-300x282 Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.


On Wednesday I’ll be posting Books That Caught Our Eye. Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

A Place At The Table by Susan Rebecca White
16130578 A rich, beautiful novel about three unlikely, complex characters who meet in a chic Manhattan café and realize they must sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity, fulfillment, and love.

A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced characters whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café: Bobby, a gay Southern boy who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret finally comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef whose heritage is the basis of a famous cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her.

As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDs epidemic of the 1980s to today’s wealthy suburbs, A Place at the Table celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together in the understanding that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.

My Confection: Odyssey of a Sugar Addict by Lisa Kotin
25489082 A funny, candid, and original coming-of-age story told through sugar addiction

She doesn’t drink or do drugs, but like millions of other Americans, Lisa Kotin has a substance abuse problem. Kotin is addicted to sugar. My Confection is a darkly funny and candid memoir of where sugar took this teenage mime when she left her San Francisco Bay Area home in pursuit of artistic greatness. From the strict macrobiotic house where she is kicked out for smuggling Snickers, to her early days of Overeaters Anonymous meetings where she is bewildered by the idea of submitting to a higher power, to the stylish shrink who suggests she figure out how many minutes of tennis equal the calories in one jelly donut, to the men she unwraps and consumes like cheap chocolate bars, Kotin careens from romantic disasters to caloric catastrophes. Original and surprisingly affecting, this portrait of a sugar addict has nothing to do with losing weight or getting fit but rather with coming out of the (sugar) closet, finding allies who understand, and learning how to live healthfully, in spite of her compulsion.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
25828495 Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here.

In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
18460392 The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Alignment: The Silent City by H. G. Suren
27838547 Five friends wake up to discover they are left alone on earth–the rest of humanity is gone.
Empty streets are littered with stalled-out cars, buses, and motorcycles. A sunless and moonless sky is covered with an enormous barrier that prevents any view of the heavens.
And silence, pervasive and absolute, reigns. Nothing stirs. The air is oppressive and there is no wind, not even the softest breeze.

As far as the five friends can tell, there isn’t another living thing on earth other than them, neither animal nor plant. What happened to life on earth while they slept? Or is it that something happened to them? Are they still on earth, or have they somehow been transported elsewhere? If so, where? Heaven? Hell? Another planet? Or are they pawns in a sophisticated computer game? Or is it all just their imagination?

Aram believes they aren’t dead. He believes if there is a way into the Silent World, then there must be a way out. He convinces his friends to stay focused and put up a worthy fight to find their way back to the reality they once knew. He can’t give up, because somewhere out there, beyond the frightening new world, his new-born son is waiting for his Daddy’s return.

Jan 162016


This recipe is from Nestle’ Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Best Loved Recipes



*Photo from the book*

Layers Of Love Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet White Morsels
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
3/4 cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease an 8 inch baking pan
Combine flour, cocoa and salt in a small bowl
Beat butter, granulated sugar & brown sugar in a large mixer bowl until creamy
Add two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
Add vanilla extract and mix well
Gradually beat in flour mixture
Reserve 3/4 cup batter
Spread remaining batter into prepared baking pan
Sprinkle pecans and white morsels over batter
Drizzle caramel topping over top
Beat remaining egg and reserved batter in same large bowl until light in color
Stir in semi-sweet morsels
Spread evenly over caramel topping
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until center is set
Cool completely in pan on wire rack
Cut into squares
Makes 16 brownies


wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Jan 112016


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (September 22, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594634718
ISBN-13: 978-1594634710
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

January 4. Part 1, Courage
January 11. Part II, Enchantment
January 18, Part III, Permission
January 25. Part IV. Persistence
February 1. Parts V and VI, Trust and Divinity


Part One: Courageous
Can you think of a time that you were courageous in your creative life?
The example that sticks out most for me was years ago, but it left the biggest impression on me. My mom was very gifted when it came to sewing, crocheting, knitting etc. I wanted to learn, and so I made a skirt. My mom had to fix the skirt a little bit, but I was still so excited that I tried it on my own. And my mom was so proud of me.

What did that look like for you?
It looked like victory. It showed me that if I wanted to try something new but didn’t think I would be good at it, I should still try.

How did I feel?
It felt nervous, but amazing. I did a so-so job, but I still did it. Even though I didn’t keep sewing, I did make a few more things, and got better as I went.

What inspired you to be courageous?
My mom. She always told me I could, and should, do anything I wanted. She had more confidence in me than I did in myself.


Part Two: Enchantment
In the Enchantment section of Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert describes her fanciful notion that ideas are life-forms looking for human collaborators to help them manifest. What ideas have been knocking on your door recently, asking to partner with you to be made real?
I have a few thoughts running around in my head. Hopefully I will manage to get some of them done:
Go through my books and only keep the ones I really can’t let go, then organizing them by author
Take more photos and start a photo journal.
Be consistent in doing a meal plan every week.
Make some diy quote boards.
Make a lighted lighthouse terra cotta pots.
Build a raised garden.
Start a window sill herb garden.

Another of Elizabeth Gilbert’s magical notions is that our genius is something that sits outside of us, not within us, and we aren’t entirely responsible for its behavior. When we do well, we owe some of the credit to our genius. When we don’t, some of the failure can be attributed to the absent genius. How does externalizing your genius help you take a less angst-filled approach to your creativity?
I’m not sure I agree with her on this one, I tend to think all creative thoughts come from within us, but to answer the question I’ll think from the standpoing of it not.

It’s easier to do something without hesitation if someone/something else is the instagator, so I wouldn’t be so apt to dismiss it. If the project didn’t work out well, then most of the blame could be put on them/it. So, maybe that’s a good way to think. I’ll have to analyze that theory. It may help me to be more creatively productive.

The reading guide (pdf) on Elizabeth Gilbert’s website suggested that we draw a picture of our “daemon” or external genius as a reflection on the Enchantment section of Big Magic.
Since I haven’t drawn anything freehand since I was in grade school, I thought I’d pass on that. But if I did draw it, it would be of a mermaid since I think in another life God made me as a mermaid. Why else would I feel more at home and more at peace with myself and the world when I’m at the water, especially at the beach.


Part Three: Permission
How does the perceived need for permission hamper your creativity?
Since I’ve never really been creative, I have to “give myself” permission to let others see what I’ve done. I never feel like I’ve done as good as I should on most things.

What would it take to feel like you have the permission you need to be as creative as you want to be?
After reading this section of the book, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if your creation is exactly as you wanted it or not. It only matters that you did it. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is especially important in being creative. You’re doing it for you, no one else. As the author says, creating something should be fun and healing.

Which quotes from Big Magic worked best for you as permission slips to be creative?
1) If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?

Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they make their own f***ing art.

2) And then go deep within that space (inside your head) as far in as you can possibly go, and make absolutely whatever you want to make. It’s nobody’s business but your own.


Part Four: Persitence
One aspect of persistence that Gilbert covers is the need to accept the most difficult parts of any endeavor along with the fun parts.

1. What are the disagreeable aspects of the creative work you want to do? Can you endure them? What strategies do you want to put in place to make them easier to handle?
I’ve always been more of a thinker than a doer. When I was in high school there was a poetry contest and somehow my poem became very popular. That set off the “idea” that I wanted to write poetry. I’ve also thought about writing a book and painting. So I guess the answer to “what are the disagreeable aspects of the creative work you want to do?” is me. I seem to be really good thinking up ideas of things I’d like to do, but I never follow through. The other day I had a recurring idea, to make and sell soap and candles. We’ll see. I’m at the point in my life that I want and need a change, so maybe this is the time I follow through.

2. Gilbert addresses perfection as an enemy to persistence in a chapter that is mostly directed at women. How has perfectionism impacted your creativity? If you’re not male, how has that played out in your experience? If you are male, are you aware of cultural differences around perfectionism that are related to gender?
When I was younger, I was a big perfectionist. But as I’ve gotten older, I don’t really care that much if something I do is perfect. A few months ago my daughter and I painted a butterfly and mine was not perfect at all. The younger me would have never posted it online. The older and wiser me didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect (well, maybe just a little) and posted it for everyone to see. On my blog, and on Facebook. One of my favorite affirmationss is “Don’t live for the expectation of others. Live for yourself, for your dreams, for your happiness”.

3. Which quotes or anecdotes from Big Magic most motivated your desire to persist with your creativity?
1.) As (Mark) Manson writes with profound wisdom: “Everything sucks, some of the time.” You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?” Manson explains it this way: “If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not housnads of times, then you’re done before you start.”

2.) Talking about Marcus Aurelius who was a Roman Emperor and philosopher: His frustrations and his self cajoling sound amazingly contemporary (or maybe just eternal and universal). You can hear him working through all the same questions that we all must work through in our lives: “Why am I here? What have I been called to do? How am I getting in my own way? How can I best live out my destiny?”

This read-along is hosted by Joy as part of her
New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge
Big Magic Read Along