Friday, December 2, 2016

Everything We Keep-A Book Review

This is the book that helped me complete my reading challenge for 2016!! I challenged myself to read 35 books this year. And I did it!!! Well some of them I listened to but we still count that as reading. It just means that I read while I washed dishes and cooked. Or waited in the car for kids to arrive. A great way to read. And this book was one of those books I listened to, for the most part. I also read the last few chapters!

This review is going to have spoilers. So, if you don't like spoilers then you might want to stop reading pretty soon. I'll tell you when. The reason for the spoilers is just too 'freaky' for me not to tell you about it.
Now about the book.

Everything We Keep is the story of Aimee and James. They have always loved each other. From way back when they were just kids. Before either of them even knew what love was. Aimee has her whole life figured out. She will marry James, take over her parent's restaurant, have kids, James will paint and they will live happily ever after.

Except none of that happens. First of all, Aimee is burying James on the day they were to be wed. He had died while on a trip in a foreign country. But Aimee has trouble believing he is dead. Especially when she is approached by a psychic at the funeral who tells her James is alive. No one believes this psychic however. But it sure puts a sliver of doubt into Aimee's mind.

Then she finds out that her parents have sold their beloved restaurant and she will not get to own it. She had always planned on taking it over. And now it is gone. With several twists and turns she opens a small coffee shop she calls Aimee's! She also meets a photographer who falls in love with her. But she has to find out if James is really alive before allowing herself to fall for Ian. 

Now is when you might want to quit reading if you plan to read this book for yourself.

Last night (Thursday) I had reached the part of the book where Aimee locates a man in Mexico who she is positive is James. But his name is Carlos and he is speaks fluent Spanish. He owns an art gallery and has the same initials as her beloved James. He paints, just like James, and signs his paintings in the exact color of paint that James uses. She sneaks into his gallery and discovers paintings of James's that were stolen from her garage. She also discovers paintings of herself. Not exactly like James would paint them. But close.

At this point I take a break from reading and switch the TV to OWN (you know, Oprah's channel). There is a re-run episode of 20/20 Extreme Affliction. The episode is about a young couple who are in love and get married. His best friend is in a horrible accident following the wedding. Triggers much stress in the bridegroom. As you can imagine. When they are leaving for their honeymoon, while at the airport, he has forgotten his wallet and leaves her with the baggage while he goes to fetch it. And he disappears. They look and look and he is finally found three days later at an abandoned motel. He is dehydrated, bug bitten, and very confused. He does not know who he is. He doesn't know who his new bride is. He doesn't know his own mother.  He doesn't even know what a wife or a mother was. He knows nothing!! He was diagnosed with dissociative amnesia. His new wife stays with him and tries to help him find out who he is and re-discover everything he once knew. At the end of this episode,  I pondered this type of amnesia as being a very weird and unheard of condition, I picked back up the book Everything We Keep. James/Carlos has dissociative amnesia!!!! What the heck. Believe you me I had goose bumps on top of goose bumps. The new bridegroom eventually gets his memory back. You can read more about this story here

I won't spoil the very end of the book for you. I am thrilled to know there will be a sequel in the summer of 2017. I loved this book. Maybe because I listened to it. I loved the characters in the book. I am giving it ****. I won't forget the story. But, probably because of the 20/20 episode it will be more memorable.  

Craving Christmas

Friday finds us every single week, doesn't it? I remember when I was a "full-time working nurse", a "full-time mother" of two boys and a "wife" to Richard when Friday would mean one of two things to me. It would either be the start of my weekend off or it would be the start of my weekend to work. Just depended on where it fell in the 'every other weekend' calendar slot. Now, Friday means writing, along with a lot of others, in the Five-Minute Friday Challenge at Heading Home. Kate provides the prompt. We write and link with others. And please be sure to visit as many of the blogs as possible. Feel the love! Spread the love! 

This week the prompt is Crave. Write for Five Minutes and publish.

Go


Do you know what I used to crave at this time of the year? I craved the Christmas shown on the front of the Saturday Evening Post Magazine. Norman Rockwell's Christmas.  You know the one which  shows the
family gathered around the table and granny serving the turkey. I've written about this craving before on my blog. You can find that post here if you want to check it out.

After a number of years living in a normal (dysfunctional?) family I had to give up on finding that 'perfect' Christmas. Because it doesn't exist. And I don't crave it any longer.(Well, maybe I do a tiny, little bit) I gave up on that dream. And I am working on becoming happy with the dream that is my reality. Because what I really crave is my family around me. I crave the love they can give  me, that is unconditional. And I want them to accept the love I have for them. I want happiness in whatever form that happens to take. I crave beautiful Christmas decorations on the tree. That means the ones that have hung on our tree for the last 40 years or so. The ones that were made by the kids. The ones that were given to me by friends and have become cherished mementos. I crave the beautiful, nasal voice of a granddaughter who sings along with the radio and doesn't care what anyone thinks of her voice. I crave the taste of the sugar cookie with the icing smeared by a little finger as it is lovingly offered. 

Because there is no such thing as perfect. I have given up on that dream. I have learned that you don't need to own a piano to sing Christmas Carols. And you don't have to know how to make wassail for the sparkling grape juice to taste like the best wine from France. And the star on a fake tree still shines as brightly as any star I have ever seen. This is what I crave!

Stop


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday's Question




We have arrived. It is December! The end of 2016 is in sight. Can you believe it? Where did this year go?


Where do your thoughts turn when November becomes December? What is on your agenda for this first week? Share with us, please!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Thanksgiving Shopping Hodgepodge

Today is the day we join Joyce at From This Side of the Pond in her Famous Hodgepodge. She supplies the questions and we supply the answers. Let's all go join up with her. What do you say?

1. Give us three rhyming words that say something about your Thanksgiving holiday (or your most recent holiday gathering if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving).

Crazy, lazy, hazy

I cooked like crazy and then we got lazy. The day started out a bit hazy!



2. When did you last say, 'the more the merrier'? Did you mean it?


The last time I said this was probably when I was hosting a holiday meal and someone asked if they could bring someone. I always say, "the more the merrier" and yes I mean it! As long as we have enough food I'm willing to share. 

3. What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is your same age?


To all the people my own age: Stop fretting about getting "old". It is what we do. To stop getting "old" means we have died. Embrace the years!!


4. You're ordering a veggie plate, what four veggies are on it?


My tray will consist of Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, and roasted carrots!! I really like all vegetables. I don't think I have eaten a vegetable that I haven't liked!


5. Shop til you drop! Did you? Have you ever? Will you between now and Christmas?


On Thanksgiving eve Harley informed me that she had run out of food for her plecostomus (we call it a sucker fish). I told her he would be okay for a day or two without an Algae wafer. This is when she said that it had actually been a few days without. So we decided to make a 'fast' trip to Walmart. Did I mention that it was Thanksgiving eveing? Around 6 p.m. 

When we got to Walmart, the parking lot was jammed with cars. And people were actually running into the store. Not out of it, like a bomb scare might conjur up, but into the store. We found a parking place, about 2 blocks from the entrance. We made our way into the store. I decided, since we were here anyway, that we should also pick up some sliced cheese (for post-Thanksgiving ham and cheese sandwiches) After all, we were already here. 

So I headed to the fish department and Harley headed to the cheese department. Both at opposite ends of the store. Of course! I quickly found the algae wafers and texted her to see where she was. She texted back that she couldn't get the cheese because they wouldn't let her near the cheese counter. Now, I am one of those people who don't like to be told I can't do something. Do you know people like me?? So, I met up with her and we headed to the dairy case. They had yellow (crime style tape) tied up to keep people away. And they had large cases of merchandise set up in front of the dairy case. Things like DVD's, toy trucks, wrapping paper....you know, all the high sellers of the holiday season. There was a Walmart employee guarding over the entrance to the aisle and I asked him, "how can I get a package of cheese?" He just looked at me and shrugged. I said, "can I step over the crime-tape?" He said, "nope"!

So I left, to find another entrance. Another way I could just get a single package of cheese. I DID step over some of the crime tape. Of course I did! And I headed down the aisle as close as I could get. There were a row of frozen food freezers between me and the cheese. I thought about climbing up on the freezer and jumping into the aisle. But my old lady body just isn't that limber anymore and my granddaughter would have died of embarrassment. I locked eyes with another Walmart employee and motioned him to come over so I could talk to him. I asked him if he would get me a package of sliced Kraft American single-wrapped cheese. He said sure and started off to squeeze his body between a case of DVD's and the cheese counter. He held up two packages for my inspection. I indicated which I would take and he brought me my cheese.

By this time I had figured out what the crime scene tape was all about. It was to create lines for the people who were trying to get to a check out counter and the front of the store. We were at the very back of the store. And there were hundreds of people in these lines. They were pushing carts full of TV's, toys, clothes and various other "I can't live without" bargains. You have got to be kidding me!! I need to wait in line, behind hundreds of these people, to buy a package of algea wafers and sliced American cheese? I commandeered another Walmart employee who kindly (there are still these kinds of people left in the world) told us to follow her to the front of the store where she directed us to the self-checkouts. The self-checkout was no longer a self-check out, but was manned with another Walmart angel. She quickly rang us up, took my money, and handed me the receipt. She said keep this in your hand because you will be checked before you can leave the store. Ha! Ha! Okay!! And when we got to the exit, sure enough, a young man took a look at the receipt and swiped it with a yellow marker. Out the door we went, fighting our way through a crowd who were fighting their way into this madhouse. Can you believe this?? Where do all of these crazy people come from? Are the bargains really THAT great?? I will comfortably sit in my chair in front of my computer to complete all of my Christmas shopping. I am not crazy enough to ever again fight my way into a mess of Black- Day Before Friday- shoppers. Next time the sucker fish can just die!! (Not really).   

6. What's your favorite chair in your house, and why is it a favorite?


We have two 'big-boy' Lazy Boy recliners in the living room. One was mine. The other one was Richard's. My favorite chair is Richard's recliner. I don't think I need to explain why!

7. Share an early memory of faith, religion, or spirituality.


I cannot remember the first time I went to church. I was not raised in a family who went to church together. We had a small church in our neighborhood, The Friend's Church. This church is where I attended Sunday morning Sunday School, church services, Wednesday evening services. I went to Bible School there. I played with the preacher's kids in the basement. I played with the preacher's neices in the churchyard. I learned to pray there. I found Jesus there. I have many memories. But I can't think of a FIRST memory. My mom used to say, "If you can't find Paula, and the church doors are open, that is the first place to look. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.


After my long tale about shopping on Thanksgiving I am not going to bore you with a random thought. Just to have a good week. And get busy decorating the Christmas tree. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The End of November Life List

LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW....

Today, as I look out my window, I am seeing the neighbor man setting up his yard Christmas tree. Today is a beautiful day to put up outside decorations. It is 55* here in Kansas. Just a slight breeze. Yesterday was so dreary. We had a bit of rain. But today the sun is shining!

AS I PONDER.... 

As I ponder the chores I want to accomplish this week I am looking at a partially decorated Christmas tree. So that is my first goal of today. Finish decorating the tree!!


WHAT I AM LEARNING...

I'm learning that grief and the holidays are still partners. Maybe down the road a ways I will quit feeling sad and just start to feel joyous in the memories. But not yet!


Darian is holding my hand on Thanksgiving!







WHAT I 'M CREATING...

I am trying to create a festive Christmas home for my grandchildren. But I really wonder if they care. The girls helped a bit yesterday with the tree. And we enlisted Darian to place the star....(cause he's over 6 foot and can reach) but I don't think the girls really had their heart in it this year. Maybe they will get into it as the season progresses. Maybe I will too! 



WHAT I'M READING....


I'm still struggling through Behind the Beautiful Forevers. I don't really mind the story but it seems so stalled. Like get on with it for whatever. I haven't yet found that I am in love with this book. But I am determined to finish it. And I am still listening to Everything We Keep.



WHAT I'M WATCHING...


The new season of Sister Wives started last night. I can't seem to tear myself away from this train-wreck of a show. Also a new season of Married by Mom and Dad started. Do you watch either of these shows? 


WHAT I'M HEARING...


Right now I am listening to the news. Another shooting!! Will it ever stop??


Pictures I want to share...



Santa's helpers
Paige and her mom in Utah

Our Thanksgiving picture

The tree still needing decorations








What are we coloring...



I'm working on this picture
Harley finished this one!



WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE KITCHEN...


This week's menu will be a lot of turkey and ham recipes. So instead of sharing my day to day recipes with you I am going to share a casserole I made for dinner last night! It was delicious and it uses leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner!! Win- Win! This recipe comes from Rock Recipes



Leftover Turkey Cottage Pie - two ways!

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Leftover Turkey Cottage Pie - two ways! - stretch whatever turkey dinner leftovers you have, or even make a couple of easy additions to them, to create another delicious meal.
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 4 or more
Ingredients
  • Leftover turkey, cut in chunks
  • Leftover gravy
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Leftover vegetables (leftover roasted veggies are particularly good.)
  • Leftover mashed potato, warmed with a little milk added (or sliced potatoes as described in the instructions)
  • A few tbsp melted butter
Instructions


  1. Cover the bottom of the dish with chunks of turkey in a double layer. Pour the gravy over the turkey to cover it. Don't add too much gravy to this pie or, if you are using mashed potatoes, the layers may not stay distinct. It's better to serve extra gravy on the side if you have a lot of it.
  2. Next add a layer of roasted carrots and parsnip or other leftover vegetables.
  3. If you have leftover stuffing, add that next. It provides a very good insulating layer between the gravy and potatoes, helping to keep the layers distinct but if you don't have any, it's not a deal breaker for this versatile recipe.
  4. Finally you can spread on the mashed potato layer. Run a fork lightly over the surface to create lines or a grid pattern to hold the melted butter, helping it brown better. If you want to be "fancy", transfer your mashed potato to a Ziplock bag and snip the corner off with a pair of sharp scissors and use the bag to pipe the mashed potato in little peaks or swirls all over the surface of the pie.
  5. Finally, drizzle the top of the mashed potatoes with a few tablespoons of melted butter. Pop the pie into a 350 degree oven and bake until the top is golden and the gravy starts to bubble.
  6. For the sliced potato top instead, use about 1 large potato per person. Peel and cut the potatoes into ¼ inch slices. Par boil the sliced potatoes in lightly salted water for about 4 minutes.
  7. Drain the potatoes and cool the slices on a cookie sheet until they are able to be handled.
  8. Overlap the potatoes all over the surface of the cottage pie and brush them with melted butter before popping the baking dish into a pre-heated 350 degree oven until the top begins to brown, the potatoes are fork tender and the gravy beneath is bubbling, about 40-50 minutes depending upon the size of your casserole dish. Smaller individual serving dishes will only need 20-30 minutes, again depending upon the size.


I made it with the sliced potatoes and served it with leftover gravy on the side. And we also had some of that wonderful canned cranberry sauce. Yes! We love it at this house! Not a pea was left in the dish. My family loved it!!


A QUOTE I WANT TO SHARE...









LOOK Who's visiting...




We are dog sitting for a friend who had a couple of back to back trips. We have kept Allowishus before. He is small and mighty. He likes to take walks, eat, burrow under the covers, lay in my lap, and play!
A friendly little guy. Unless you are trying to mess with granny and then he might snarl at you!!


A peek into my week...

This week I will be decorating for Christmas. I will continue to clean the house for guests who will be spending Christmas with us. And I will run Darian to work a couple of times. And take Harley to church a time or two. And probably a stop at the grocery store to pick up my groceries!! What are you doing this week??


A final thought...

We must remember that Christmas is not always the brightest time of the year for everyone. If you know someone who is struggling then give them a hand. We are helping fill Christmas baskets for needy families at a school district here in Hutchinson. These baskets will provide enough food for each family for the Christmas break. Many of these kids get meals at school and not much else. So we are taking this task on. Along with the church, of course. The teens have been given the job of providing 510 boxes of oatmeal. So we have been picking up these when we shop at Dollar Tree. That's a lot of oatmeal!!