Friday, September 30, 2016

The Things We Wish Were True-A Book Review

Overview From Barnes and Noble

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.
From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.
Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.
During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

Every day, in my e-mail, I get a notice from Modern Mrs. Darcy about the Kindle book deals which often include an audio deal. This book was one of those deals. I won't pay full price for an audio book. They are just too expensive. But I don't mind when they are $2.99 or $3.99. I have a Nook Color but I use the Kindle app on my phone so that is where I download these books.  

This book was a good story about a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyones business. Or, they think they do. The story begins on Memorial Day Weekend in 2014. The neighborhood gathers at the local neighborhood pool on opening day but the gate entrance is covered with a large spider web housing a huge yellow and black spider. No one wants to tear down the web and enter the pool area. Finally one of the lifeguards removes the spider, lets it go, and tears down the web. The story begins. There are many people caught in a web of lies that will be uncovered as the summer continues.
The story is told through the eyes of the each main character in the neighborhood. One of these characters is a young girl, whose life changes because of an incident at the pool. The remainder of the characters are adults who have been running from secrets in their past. All will be unraveled by the end of the story. And the story ends with all the 'happily-ever-after' one can want.

I'll give it *** 3 stars.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Books of Controversy

Today I was reading on Facebook. Yes, I do that occasionally. Not nearly as much as I used to. Because it is filled with rhetoric about the election. And hatred! Too many cop killing related posts. And so much media crap. But, today I came across a blog post on one of my favorite pages BookBub Blog. (Try saying that five times fast)

The title of the post was  The Most Controversial Books Published in the Past Decade. It listed these books:

  1. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Peterson. This book is about a same sex couple in the animal kingdom
  2. In the Line of Fire by Pervez Musharraf. This book was written by Pakistan's President at that time.
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi. This is the story of a budding cartoonist who grew up on a Indian Reservation.
  4. Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. This is the story of a sexually precocious 18 year old recovering from an operation.
  5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book tells the story of a black maid from Mississippi in the early 1960's. 
  6. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. In this book a father relates the story of his young son, recovering from an emergency operation, where he says that he visited heaven, while he was being operated on. 
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. This is a novel about a man's erotic tastes.
  8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. A novel about a husband and wife's actions upon the sudden disappearance of the wife.
  9. Eleanor and Parks by Rainbow Rowell. This story is about two teenagers in the 1980's who fall in love over the course of a year.
  10. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. This book is written by the producer and star of HBO's The Girls.  
  11. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. This book is a follow-up to the famed book To Kill A Mockingbird by the same author.

From this list of "controversial books" I have read Heaven is For Real, Gone Girl, Eleanor and Park. I can see why Gone Girl would be controversial, although it is just a novel and shouldn't be taken as anymore than that. The reason it is on the list is because it fostered gender stereotype. Whatever!! I don't read books for that reason. I read for enjoyment. And this book was one I GREATLY enjoyed. I, also, loved Eleanor and Park and have recommended it to my granddaughter. It is on this list because of the cursing and the sexual content. It's not like most high school kids don't already know this stuff. As for Heaven Is For Real, I can totally understand the controversy. While I was reading this book I doubted it. I thought, at that time, this was exploitation on the part of the child's parent. I didn't believe for one moment that child had visited heaven. But it made a good story. 

From this list I have The Help on my TBR list. I've heard a lot about the movie. And Barnes and Noble had the book on sale a while back so I bought it. I'll let you know what I think after I read it. It's on the list because of it being a "watered-down" version of racial segregation. 

I haven't paid any of the other books any mind. But now that they have made this list I might be looking into reading them. That is what I think these kinds of list do for books. They make them more attractive to people who wouldn't have ever given them the time of day.

What do you think?? Have you read any of these books?? Do you want to read any of them?? I hope you will share your thoughts. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Let's not Desert the Hodgepodge!

Hello friends! It has been a bit since I have joined with Joyce, From This Side of the Pond, for a Wednesday Hodgepodge. Today seems like a good one. If you want to answer the questions she poses just pay her a visit.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Have you ever been to and/or lived near the desert? What did you think? Travel and Leisure lists the 'coolest' American desert towns as-

Palm Springs CA, Virgina City NE, Bend OR, Winslow AZ, Marfa TX, Grand Junction CO, Silver City NM, Moab UT, Taos NM, Yakima WA, Borrego Springs CA, Terlingua TX, and St. George UT, and Tubac AZ

Have you been to any of these? Would you like to visit a desert town? Which on the list would you most like to see?

I have been to Grand Junction Colorado several times. I never much thought of it as a desert town. But I guess that it could be. I have been to Taos, New Mexico. We visited Taos in the summer. Was a beautiful spot that attracts a lot of the 'artsy types' and we loved strolling though the exhibits. We talked about returning in  the fall for the changing of the Aspens and the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque but sadly we never made it. If I chose to visit places on the list I would want to return to Arizona. I have a couple of really good blogging friends I would like to meet up with who live in Arizona.  

2. What's a plan or project you've deserted in the past year? 

I don't know about THIS year. But I started a project in Darian's bedroom before Richard died (two years ago). The wallpaper has been removed and the spackling is completed. I sure need to bust out the paint and get that room finished. Geez, I am such a procrastinator. If there is anyone out there who likes to paint, give me a holler!!

3. Desert-dessert? Share two or three words you find yourself having to think twice about when it comes to spelling.

I don't have a problem with either desert or dessert. However, I always misspell temperature and zucchini. Good thing for spell check. You would think I would learn to spell them.   

4. High and dry, like watching paint dry, dry run, dry as dust, not a dry eye in the house...which phrase can you relate to currently? Explain. 

I can always relate to 'not a dry eye in the house.' Seems like I cry a lot anymore. Just a fact of life. I think it has something to do with the grieving process. (See me shrugging my shoulders here?)

5. How often do you frequent the dry cleaners? Starch or no starch? 

I haven't taken anything to the dry cleaners in years. I used to regularly take clothes there. Then Richard stopped wearing suits to work. And I stopped needing coats, dresses, and etc. cleaned. If it can't be washed in the machine then I don't buy it! As for starch, I always starched my nursing uniforms when I wore "all white". Once I made the switch to scrubs I quit. I still ironed my scrubs, however. 

6. What's a food or beverage you enjoy that's named for a place? 

Blue Hawaiian

Denver omelet

Brussels sprouts
When Richard and I first started dating we would go to a little club called The Islander Club. They served the best Blue Hawaiians. They weren't as blue as the ones in the picture through. Ah the memories of that little club. Both Richard and I would order a Denver omelet whenever we would eat out!! And our entire family loves Brussels sprouts. The only one of those places I have visited is Denver!!

7. Do you need solitude? 

Yes!!! I like to be around people. And I love my family. But I value my alone time the most!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

OMG, what are we going to do America?? I watched the Presidential Debates and I haven't yet found a good candidate for our Presidency!! We are in trouble. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall has Arrived Lift List


The sun is shining. It is the perfect fall day. The temperature is 75*. There is only a slight breeze. Some part of Kansas were down into the upper 30's last night.


Last night I had the strangest dream. I dreamed that I was going to start playing softball twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday. I hate playing softball. In fact I am not a big fan of any kind of sport that I am participating in. Maybe bowling. I used to bowl. I don't anymore. I am not opposed to trying it again. 


I am currently creating supper...Million Dollar Spaghetti casserole. The kids love it. Harley was out of school today so she helped fix it. Here is the recipe if you are interested in trying it.



I am reading The Firm by John Grisham which I thought I had already read but nothing of it sounds familiar yet. And I am still listening to The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen


I am getting ready to watch the Presidential Debate. I am hoping one of these candidates will come out of this looking better than what they have been looking. Never have I been so torn about who is going to be elected! And I have so much fear for America!


I am listening to Modern Family right now. Does anyone else find this show to be hilarious??

Pictures I want to share.....




I am enjoying a glass of iced coffee. Probably won't be able to sleep tonight!


Monday...Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole

Tuesday...Chicken & Zucchini Stir Fry

Wednesday..Ham/Turkey Wraps

Thursday...Loaded Baked Potato Soup


Saturday...Cornbread Salad

Sunday...Make Your Own Taco Bar


I love F. Scott Fitzgerald!
And isn't it true that fall makes you feel like you can start all over again?

Happenings in my backyard...

Leaves are falling off the cottonwoods. I don't own any cottonwoods but I sure have a yard full of leaves from the trees that surround me. The squirrels are stripping the acorns from the oak. And there are green leaves and tiny branches from that tree. We might have to mow once more. Maybe twice. And then I am putting away the mower. 

A peek into my week...

Not much going on in my week this week. Harley was out of school today. Darian has a couple of activities on Wednesday and Thursday but he will be riding his bike so I don't have to be involved. Harley is staying after school on Friday to make caramel apples for the Fall Frolic on Saturday. And I am thinking Justin and Paige may come over again on Sunday. 


A final thought...

Allergy season is still in full force here. I still sneeze and cough my head off. We need a good freeze to kill all this crap that is in the air. And then maybe I will start feeling better. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Sea of Tranquility-A Book Review

Overview From Barnes and Noble

School Library Journal Best Book of 2013
An ALA/YALSA Alex Award Winner
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.
Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.
Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the mira­cle of second chances.

One thing about not feeling good is I get a lot of reading done. This book blew me away. It is called a young adult book and the main characters are high school kids. But the characters are so well developed by the author that you will never forget them. 

I fell in love with Nastya on page 7 when she said, "I'd rather be alone that have to pretend I am okay." I totally get that emotion. And Nastya has been through a lot. For a big share of the story we do not know what happened to her. It's just hinted at. We know it's bad though. 

And poor Josh! Everyone around him has died. First his mom and sister when he was a young boy and then followed by his father, who had a heart attack. Next his grandma dies of cancer. Now, his grandpa helps him become emancipated just before grandpa is put into a nursing home,dying himself. Josh states, "I wonder if every time someone dies you start counting how much time has passed. First you count in minutes, then in hours. You count in days, then weeks, then months. Then one day you realize that you aren't counting anymore, and you don't even know when you stopped." Chilling words!! Made me cry!

The author's words at the very end of this incredible book were: "Life is short and TBR lists are long. I know that time is precious, and I thank you for spending your with this book." This book is worth spending time with. It is a story of hate, love, fear, death, redemption and second chances. Read this book!! You won't be sorry.

Five stars ***** I won't forget Nastya or Josh! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Brilliant Bathroom Ideas

We all love brilliant ideas. This time we are going to talk about a couple of ideas for the bathroom. I have used all three of these ideas in my bathroom.
Or in the linen closet next to the bathroom.

I use one of these in my bathroom to store 3 rolls
of toilet paper. It sits on the floor next to the tub
A magazine holder can sit in the linen closet
or below the sink to hold the extra toilet

These Oil/Vinegar bottles are cheap
I have one in my kitchen for dish soap
and one in the bathroom for mouth wash.
Purchased at World Market

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Life List-September 19th Edition


It's dark.


I have no energy! I am still coughing. Can't sleep due to coughing. Can't nap due to coughing. I am positive it is allergies because it got worse again on Saturday after being outside while the grass was being mowed. No one else here has been sick. If I was a 'go to the doctor kind of girl' I'd probably go to the doctor. But I don't feel like getting ready and sitting in a waiting room. Know what I mean?? 


I'm making a banner for the mantle for fall. But it is slow going. And I'm not really interested in being creative right now.


I'm reading The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay and I am listening to The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen


I'm still watching Big Brother. It will end this week. Thank goodness. I am tired of it. I don't know who will win. I hope NOT Paul. But since I hope that he is who will probably win! Also this week most of my favorite shows will return: Big Bang Theory, The Profit, Survivor, Grey's Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, and Blue Bloods. Ye gads, I watch too much TV. 


As I am typing this on Sunday afternoon I have Chopped on in the background. 


Lots of water. And an occasional Pepsi has made it to my drink menu!


Monday...Honey Lime Chicken Tacos

Tuesday...Braum's BOGO

Wednesday..Bacon Cheddar Apple Fritatta

Thursday...Tortilla Soup & Cornbread

Friday...Turkey Ranch Club Wraps

Saturday...Million Dollar Casserole&Garlic Bread

Sunday...Chili & Crackers

A peek into my week...

  Monday...Darian works
  Tuesday...Darian Works
  Wednesday...Youth group At church
  Friday...Football game and FCCLA

This is a shortened version of My Life List. I just don't have much to say this week!!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption-A Book Review

Overview From Barnes and Noble

#1 New York Times Bestseller | Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time
Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

"Each of us is worth more than the worst thing we have ever done."

Most of this story revolves around the plight of one man: Walter McMillan. Walter lived in the home town of Harper Lee. Walter was a black man with a white girlfriend. He was framed for the murder of a clerk in a  dry cleaner store. The sheriff and the DA manufactured evidence and bribed witnesses to help send Walter to death row. For a crime he did not commit. There was even evidence of exactly where he was when the murder was committed but it wasn't allowed into the courtroom. This man was held on death row for 6 years before the author, Bryan Stevenson, was able to exonerate him. 

This author is also a champion of the mentally ill and children who are sentenced to death or life in prison.  I did not realize how many of this country's kids are serving time in prison. I do not know what the answer is to the problems of justice in our country. It is true that rich people are given a much better chance of proving their innocence when charged with a crime. "We must reform a system that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent." 

Here in my hometown of Hutchinson, Kansas, we just completed the trial of a young, middle-class, white, teenager, who at the age of 14 set the family home on fire and killed his mother and sister. His father managed to escape. There was no evidence shown of him having been abused or mistreated at home. He was a normal child. He wasn't bullied at school. He wasn't mistreated at home. It took 3 years before the case finally went to court. He was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of aggravated arson. He was tried as an adult. If Byran Stevenson were to help this teenage boy he would not want this child to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. He finds that kind of punishment as "cruel". This young man will be sentenced later this month. 

So while I enjoyed reading the book (if that is the right choice of words) it also provoked in me a lot of thoughts about crime and justice. I don't have the answers. I don't know what should happen to Sam Vonachen (the young teen who burned his house down and killed his mom and sister). I'm glad I don't have to make that decision. But, I do feel he should be punished. And punished in such a manner that he will be unable to kill another person in his lifetime. 

What are your thoughts on capital punishment? What about kids? Should they be put to death for their crimes or spend life in prison without parole? Or is there a number of years that are appropriate??

Reading this book will not give you the answers. But I guarantee it will make you think. And it will make you hope that you are NEVER falsely accused of any crime. 

I'm giving the book **** four stars. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is personal for me. My father committed suicide when I was only 7 years old. I have lived with that my entire life. And it has given me more than one pause for concern. Suicide has affected my life in more ways that I have ever wanted to admit. It has affected the lives of my entire family. And many of them don't want to admit that it has affected them either.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Did you know that? Many times those who attempt suicide, along with their families and  friends, are stigmatized and left to struggle with the feelings alone. When my dad died the whole town talked. Kids at school talked. And they made fun of me. It's not a good feeling. And I spent years trying to understand why my dad would rather kill himself than to live for me and my siblings. It wasn't until I was MUCH older that I began to realize he was sick. Sicker than what we knew. And had alcoholism.

While I was in nursing school we were taught to talk to someone whom we suspect are thinking about suicide. We are to ask them if they have a plan. Do you know how you are going to kill yourself? Do you know when you will kill yourself? Asking those important questions will not force someone to commit suicide. But it just might help you to prevent them from killing themselves. Do not ignore someone who tells you they are going to kill themselves. 

We need to know the warning signs:

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social  withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

And we need to know the risk factors:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation.
  • Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation 

  • You can read more about suicide and the help that is available on the NAMI ( National Alliance of Mental Illness) Site here.

    Also, while we are talking about suicide we need to incorporate into that talk the talk about gun violence. In this country 32,000 Americans die every year as a result of gun violence. Did you know that 2/3 of those deaths, almost 20,000 deaths, are the result of suicide? No, I didn't know that either. States which have mandated waiting periods to purchase guns have cut their suicide rates in half. Suicide is often impulsive. 

    "We know that suicide is often impulsive. According to a Harvard University School of Public Health study, 71 percent of suicide attempts happen within one hour of making the decision. And anecdotally, in interviews following unsuccessful suicide attempts, individuals almost always regret it. Over a decade ago there was a story in New Yorker about interviews with people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived – every one of them realized it was a mistake before they hit the water. But with a gun, there is no second chance."*

    All of us have the ability to educate others
    on the prevention of suicide. This is the month to do it! Stand up and help make others aware. That is all I'm asking!!

    Sunday, September 11, 2016

    A September 11th Life List


    It is dark. The day is coming to a close. It was a long weekend. It was a stressful weekend. I feel punched in the gut! I will NOT discuss further. Just know that we are all okay! 

    AS I PONDER.... 

    Today I ponder the Kansas State Fair. I was going to let Harley take the day off school on Wednesday to attend the fair. But today she and her brother wanted to go. It was such a beautiful day out. I wasn't doing anything but catching up with some computer chores. So I dropped them off and they experienced the day together. As brother and sister. As friends. I'm glad they got to hang out together.


    I keep learning over and over and over that I can't control everything. As much as I would like for everything to be perfect, it can't be. It will never be. Part of life is living and learning. Making mistakes and learning from them. Something we all need to do for ourselves. You can't protect the younger generation from mistakes. They have to make them and they have to live THEIR life. Even if I could tell them how to avoid some dumb and costly mistakes. They have to learn on their own. Oh well!!


    I have not done much in the way of creating. Unless you want to count those No-Bake cookies I made on Friday which were devoured over the weekend. 


    I am about half-way through Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. And I am getting reading to start listening to The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.


    I am really excited to start the premiere of Dancing With The Stars tomorrow evening.


    Right now I am listening to the dishwasher running in the kitchen. And on the TV is an episode of Brain Dead. A very bizarre show!

    Pictures I want to share...

    Awwww so sweet
    Paige and Harley

    Darian and Harley riding
    the tram into the fair

    At the Fair

    Remember last year?
    She had to get another Henna this year
    Same one???


    I just finished drinking a ice cold bottle of water. Contemplating stopping at the liquor store for a bottle (or three) of wine!


    Monday...Beef and Noodles

    Tuesday...BOGO at Braums

    Wednesday..Crockpot Taco Soup and Cornbread

    Thursday...Honey Garlic Chicken on Rice

    Friday...Sweet Potato Bacon & Egg Skillet

    Saturday...Spaghetti with garlic bread

    Sunday...Shepherd's Pie



    Happenings in my backyard...

    I was standing in the backyard this afternoon thinking of all the things "I didn't do this summer" Stay turned for a blog post about this!

    A peek into my week...

      Monday...Blissfully quiet. I am going to make a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. Darian works. Harley at school.
      Tuesday...Darian works. Two of my favorite TV shows are on. Big Brother and Married at First Sight.
      Wednesday...Harley's youth group is going to the Fair for a Christian concert.
      Thursday...No plans for today!
      Friday...First home football game. FCCLA will be selling programs.
      Saturday...No plans

      Sunday...No plans

    A final thought...

    I don't have a final thought tonight! My brain is tired. Do you ever get like that??