First of all

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Did I predict the future?

Three years ago today I said this "Tip for the day: It's almost Halloween, so skip the makeup this morning and get a little more sleep."

As I stood at the train station this morning waiting for my train and scrolling through Facebook the above status update popped up in my memories from three years ago. I thought to myself.  That's a good post, I'm pretty funny sometimes.

Then I realized...I had forgotten to put on any makeup before leaving for work!  Look at me, predicting the future! 

If only I had used my magical powers to play the billion dollar Powerball. Alas It would seem I can

The kids of Halloween Past...

only predict my own personal behavior, which is probably really common and not at all magical.  Nevertheless, on the Eve of Halloween, I'm calling myself a psychic, consider it my costume!

Happy #NationalCandyCornDay !!! Will you be buying a bag to enjoy or throw directly into the trash?  Candy Corn brings out strong opinions!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Incredibly Silly Thing I've been Doing

Nostalgia is a very effective means of stress reduction. Note, I have no scientific basis for that first remark.  Life is stressful!  The news is stressful, people are bonkers.  And let's not forget it's unseasonably cold in my area.  I hate turning my heat on before November.  I gave in and started wearing my winter coat a week ago.  It's madness I say.  Also stressful is being the passenger as BMO works on reaching 50 hours of driving time to get his driver's license!

I bet there are tons of happenings in your own life stressing you out.  If you are like me, you really can't afford to take up a daily drinking habit--so what is a girl to do?

Some people turn to ASMR on YouTube.  I have turned to watching old commercials.  To be more specific holiday commercials.  Did you know there are hours and hours of commercials from the 70s, 80s, and 90s curated on YouTube right now? 
Yes Virginia, hours and hours of Christmas Commercials awaits you!

I know it's silly, but it's so relaxing to revel in the Nostalgia of childhood.  Try it! You'll like it!  

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, October 22, 2018

When was the last time you tried something new?

It was a funny thing, for most of junior high Anna was very opposed to continuing band in high school.  Even as we discussed her schedule for the upcoming year, she didn't really want to continue.  So yes we nudged her a bit, nagged a little for her to give it a try for the first year,  just the basic band and if she didn't want to continue after that, she could stop.  Then out of the blue, just before eighth grade ended, she decided to attend the marching band meeting.  This was a surprise development, we went to the marching band meeting and saw the well-made promotional video and Anna decided to join marching band.

This was the same girl who said previously, "I'm never joining marching band, marching band is like a full-time job."  The first couple days were rough, not knowing how things worked and where to go and how to act, but after a few weeks she was warming up to it.  This was due, not in small part, to the band matching up Seniors to mentor Freshman.  By the time band camp arrived-- note, I didn't know band camp was really a thing--she was all in.

Saturday was the last marching band performance of the year at the University of Illinois, it was about 20 degrees below zero outside and the wind was a brisk 30ish miles per hour.  We froze as we watching the band perform, and we respected Ms. Anna's request that we not acknowledge her in any way.  If you ask her how the band did, she will tell you they had a bad run. She is more critical of the ensemble than the band director!  What I saw was all the kids giving it everything they had all season long. In the aftermath of the season finale, Anna has now been hit with the cold that has been going around school for weeks.

Moral of the story, nudging a teenager to try something, to push themselves,  can work.  Really, this also goes for adults, especially those long past the high school years.  Give yourself a nudge, try something new, push yourself.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The thing about blogging is...

The thing about blogging is that it would be cool if lots of people read my blog; however, in order for that to happen, you have to invest a ton of time and some money to try and make that happen.  It's a bummer but that is the way of writing really, anyone who writes doesn't write with a guarantee that anyone will ever read their writings.  Even Stephen King doesn't know that whatever he is writing today will ever reach the masses --sure it's fairly likely in his case, but no guarantees. 

Today we are driving down to the University of Illinois to Ms. A in the marching band competition.  She said she would like us to be there, but she doesn't want us to try to talk to her or make contact while we are there because she needs to concentrate on her performance.  I admire her dedication and was also a little annoyed, as is to be expected when dealing with teenagers. If it was up to me we'd stay home and watch the live stream, but when youngest child asks us to be there, well we are going to be there even though we are going to have to drive over two hours to watch an 8-minute performance and drive back.  I'm really not complaining, much.   

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Need Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Your Ear Holes? Listen to the Dresden Files!

Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5)Death Masks by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listen to this series on audio, I don't read any of the books--James Marsters is perfection as Harry Dresden. This is book #5 of this enjoyable series that I tend to pick up, listen to a book and then a few months pass and then I pick it back up. There is enough reiteration of who the main players in the series are to help you remember if you don't binge read the series. I am going to make more of an effort to get through this series in a more timely manner. I have to say I don't really care about the romance aspect of the book, but if Harry is happy I'm happy. Whenever Harry talks about his cat Mister, I think anew that Mister is the perfect name for a cat. And speaking of perfect character names, I hope the next book has more Murphy- the perfectly named police detective- in it.

Love that this book takes place in Chicago. Nice that Harry and modern tech don't get along as this is handy for plot building. The pacing of this book was good, I personally wouldn't mind if there had been a bit more downtime - like maybe 2 fewer battles, but that's just me. I'm going to go see if my library has book #6 before I get distracted by another book on my TBR pile.

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 #ThursdayThought :  Today marks  the 4 week countdown until Thanksgiving.  😱😱😱😱  I'm hungry right because it's lunchtime and my mouth is watering as I am adding to my Thanksgiving Feast Pinterest Board.  Click to see what I'm planning on serving this November. I've also begun creating a Christmas menu as well.

Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Is Being a Morning Person a Choice?

My goal this Fall is to become a morning person. Is this goal achievable? I really want, need, to finish the book I've been slowly writing over the last year so my latest scheme to make that happen is to become a morning person.

To that end, I started setting my alarm earlier- from 6:15 to  6:00, to 5:35AM. Yes that's right I can't yet push myself to be up at 5:30AM, I need that extra 5 minutes. To show the extreme lengths I will go to try and make this morning person thing happen--I even set an alarm and got up before 7AM on the weekend.  On the weekend! Sunday I didn't even take a nap!  Did I get more writing done?  Barely, but slightly more than the previous few weeks is an improvement.

Here I am near my window, daylight has just broken.  You can't see the sun because my window is Southwest facing and I didn't feel like getting up and trying to get a picture w/the sunrise in it.

I wonder how long this transformation will take?  weeks? months? decades? Can you reset your internal clock for good? Or will one week of vacation set me back? 

Frost is now upon the pumpkin, soup weather is here! Please do yourself a favor and make this fantastic soup


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Who loves Halloween? Who loves Hocus Pocus?

Hocus Pocus & The All New SequelHocus Pocus & The All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fall is here and when it's Fall I fill my TBR pile with Witches and Ghosts. I also fill my DVR with movies and TV shows featuring Witches and Ghosts. When I saw there was a book version of the movie and a sequel to the -dare I say- cult classic movie--I had to read the book ASAP.

"Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel" was a fun nostalgic read. I really enjoyed the sequel and am looking forward to seeing the movie version of this follow up to the classic Hocus Pocus. The sequel features some of the children of characters from Hocus Pocus and of course those terrible witches are back too.  Note, I read that the sequel won't start the same actresses as the Sanderson Sisters, which is a bummer to be sure. That's was makes the book even more fun, as reader of the sequel, I was able to picture the original witches. The pacing of the stories is on point with a nice build up to the final confrontation between the witches and the humans. In the original story I thought the 8 year old Dani was too mature for her age in words and actions--she really seems more like an 11 year old. The teens in the stories are perfectly age appropriate which is a nice change.

This would be a fun book to read with kids at bedtime as you count down to Halloween. I borrowed the book digitally from my library, so I'm sure it's easy to get a copy to enjoy before October ends. Once you finish the book you can have a family movie night, pop some popcorn and watch the classic movie! 

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dr. Death is the Must Listen to Podcast of the Fall

Have you heard about this podcast?  Oh my gosh, it's fantastic and awful. This is a horrifying tale of  medical malpractice.  Dr. Death is new podcast by Wondery, one of my top three favorite podcasting companies. This is the same group that brought Dirty John to ear holes across the land. Interestingly, Dirty John was also a shady criminal in the medical field.  Dr. Death is a neurosurgeon you never want to meet, let alone allow to operate on you.

This podcast is very compelling.  These patients, like Barry, who decided to have surgery instead of trying diet and exercise one more time, will break your heart.  Patients were butchered by this doctor and then Dr. Death went on to practice at another hospital!  You cannot listen to this and not be shocked at how long he is able to 'practice' medicine.  He gets away with murderous malpractice via bravado, a slick website and the greed of the medical establishment.

 Keep listening, he will get his comeuppance---and that will only because a couple of doctors kept sounding alarms and going to the medical board. Frankly the police should have been involved after the second surgery gone wrong.   This guy is an extreme example of systematic problems in our medical system that values profit over lives far too often.  It's also an unvarnished look at how far a white man with Dr. before his name can get before finally being stopped.

A couple of facts from the Wondery website "1.3 million 'bad doctor' reports on the National Practitioner Data Bank," and "in 2017 13 state boards never checked the data bank." Ugh!  Oversight doesn't work if no one uses it!

Patient beware! If you have to have a surgery, get that second opinion and research your doctor.  This organization provides doctor report cards. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Got a couple hours? Read this book!

Sweet and DeadlySweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything about this book made me feel as though I'd stepped into a small town in the 1950s or 1960s. The only tell I could find that this is actually more contemporary is  Catherine says that abortion is legal. I would describe this book as a novella and as such it has very good pacing. In other works by Charlaine Harris there tends to be, in my opinion, too much time spent on housekeeping details. In this book, fortunately, there is only one long scene of Catherine cleaning.

The mystery is solid, there are some nice red herrings and the main character doesn't foolishly put herself in harm's way but once.

The killer's motive is the weakest part of this book in my opinion. If you enjoy mysteries, you'll likely enjoy this book.

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What's going on with my writing?

Thanks for asking!  I am a solid  63% done on my first draft.  My plan is to finish my draft before 2019 shows up. Actually,I'd like to get it done before December arrives. If I get stuck in my writing lately what I've been doing is writing out of sequence.  Yesterday I was working on the book's final scene.  Bad news, I thought I had it all figured out and then I realized I didn't like where it was going. Today I'm writing in sequence and maybe that will help my final scene whenever I get back to it.

Socially to help with my writing I just joined the "Guppy" Chapter of  Sisters in Crime. This is an online group for first time writers of mysteries.  With my membership I can join a critique group to get feedback on my unpublished work.  I'm very excited and also overwhelmed.  The business of publishing is not easy. (understatement).  The important thing for me to keep reminding myself is to focus on finishing my book, then try to get it published.  Don't put the cart before the horse and all that!

Happy September!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What if Fairy Tales Were True in the Age of iPhones?

I have to share with you this book I've read!  If you aren't a big reader, check out the audiobook. After you read this tale, which you will love, get excited for the FX adaptation!

The ChangelingThe Changeling by Victor LaValle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If this whole book was just the story of Apollo & Emma's first year of parenting Brian in NYC, I would have enjoyed it immensely. However, this is not a simple tale of parenting, this is an old school- Black Forest Germany - fairy tale where children are spirited away and monsters walk among us. I completely enjoyed the way Mr. LaValle weaves classic fairy tale lore into the 21st century and works with all the trapping of modern life while telling this ancient tale.

"The Changeling" doesn't shy away from the reality in America where for a black man, any encounter with the police can end in death. This story doesn't shy away from reminding us that far too often the concerns of new moms are brushed aside as they suffer silently with postpartum psychosis. This story doesn't shy away from reminding us we all cling to fairy tales we tell ourselves in order to sleep through the night.

In the end, Victor LaValle gives Emma, Apollo, and Brian some happiness. It's not forever but it's happily for now.

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The summer is already winding down and with that I'm ready to enjoy Fall. I'm hoping for lots of sunny days, low humidity and temps that stay around 70 degrees throughout all of  September. Frankly, I'm in no hurry to break out my boots.  I am ready to enjoy spooky stories and for that I'm subscribed and enjoying each installment of the podcast Spooked (from Snap Judgement and WNYC Studios). Each week they are counting down to Halloween with a new tale of the paranormal.  Are the stories real, are they fiction?  I don't know!  You can listen via the website or subscribe at iTunes, Stitcher,, etc.