Tuesday, December 30, 2008

People are stupid

I got a call at 5:45 a.m. this morning. DH hit an ice patch on the way to work and was stuck in a ditch. He thought he could dig his way out so I took him a shovel.

Now. Picture this. It's dark. The road is covered with snow and ice—clearly has not been plowed. My Jeep is sitting in the right hand lane, inside lights ON and my headlights turned on bright—clearly illuminating my husband's car sticking out of the ditch and partially blocking the left hand lane several yards ahead. A few more yards down, there is another car in the ditch with hazard lights blinking—clearly indicating that this is a sticky situation. Got it?

So what would YOU do if you turned onto this street? Slow down, assess the situation, then turn around and go another way? That is what one smart driver did.

Or maybe slow down, assess the situation, and if you had 4-wheel drive proceed very cautiously? That is what another smart driver did.

But three very not-smart drivers came barreling down the road, close to 40 mph, weaving around me, then around DH's rear end (the car's, not his), slipping and sliding past the other ditch-bound car and continuing on their very oblivious way.

P.S. DH got out okay. A friend from work had a truck and a tow strap.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For Erika—but you can read it too

Erika—I forgot to call your mom to get your address and there's no way our Christmas letter will get to you in time. I was in complete despair until I remembered that you read my blog. So here's our annual Christmas letter for you (and anyone else who wants to read it).

Merry Christmas 2008!

(Auntie Meg with Baby Burrito)

During the first half of 2008, Megan finished high school. She played lacrosse at PGHS—a new team that she helped start and captained. After graduation, she took a road trip with Mom. They flew back to KY, picked up a Jeep Cherokee and drove it back to UT. Along the way, they stopped everywhere that looked interesting.

Megan started college at UVU. You may also have heard that she was preparing to go to China in 2009. Unfortunately, both college and China had to be postponed due to illness, but she’s on the mend and should be back to 100% soon.

While she’s healing, Megan is working part-time with Karlene at a book and toy store. In February, she’ll be helping coach lacrosse back at PGHS.

Melanie, Kris & Baby Burrito

Melanie, Kris and Baby Burrito moved out of their one bedroom basement apartment to a beautiful two bedroom vaulted ceiling apartment. They are excited about the change and are grateful for the extra space and sunlight every day.

Melanie got a promotion in the fall and is now working as an IT Business Analyst for XanGo. She is also a blog-a-holic and is attending meetings regularly. However until she is fully recovered feel free to visit her at melaniedavis.blogspot.com.

Kris has gotten most of his pre-requisites done for the Culinary Arts program at Utah Valley University. He plays rugby for UVU and works at a Japanese restaurant during the winter.

Baby Burrito turned one this November and is walking (almost running). He’s learning how to give kisses and loves to roar like a Dinosaur!

This fall Kris and Melanie got engaged!!! They plan to marry in spring 2010. Melanie thinks this is a perfect year because it matches the ten diamonds that are on her ring.

Christopher, Ashley & Little Princess

The big news for Christopher is that he and Ashley got married this past August! It was a beautiful wedding in her parents’ backyard. They took a short honeymoon down to Las Vegas. Chris, Ashley and Little Princess make a lovely family and rent a house in American Fork.

Christopher is working concrete for Ashley’s father. He still enjoys it. They do commercial concrete and are staying pretty busy, despite the economy. Right now Christopher is working a job that requires him to drive to Idaho and back every day. He carpools with his brother-in-law and they pay him for some of the travel time but he still misses having those extra hours at home with his family. When he is home, he likes to watch movies and hang out with his family.

Ashley has turned their house into a home. She’s a great decorator. She also enjoys scrapbooking and spending time with Little Princess, who turned three in November. Little Princess likes Dora the Explorer, princesses and fairies, and playing dress-up and pretend.

McKenna, Stephen & Baby Shrek

McKenna, Stephen and Baby Shrek live in Lehi, just a few miles away from us. (Too far for Grandma & Grandpa’s preferences, who wish they lived next door.)

McKenna runs her company, Urban Botanic. It’s getting some notice on a national level. UB was mentioned in an issue of Family Circle magazine as one of the hot new home party companies. McKenna was also recently on Good Things Utah, a local news and info show for women. When she’s not working, she’s playing with Baby Shrek and designing websites.

Stephen still works for Advanced MD, a medical software company. During his downtime, he enjoys going to BYU football games and playing with Baby Shrek. He’s teaching Baby Shrek to cheer for BYU. Baby Shrek's first sentence was, “Go, Cougs!”

Baby Shrek will be two this spring. He’s adding new words to his vocabulary at such a rapid pace, we can’t keep up with him anymore! He loves cars, trucks and trains. He also likes to color, to build things with blocks, and to hide things in little nooks and corners.

Karlene & Jim

Karlene & Jim have had a very full year. It seems we get busier as the time goes by—or maybe we just get slower and have a harder time keeping up.

We added to our family this year when Chris married Ashley. That gives us three grandchildren who are the most adorable children on the planet!

We just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. We’ve had to face some life challenges over those years, but they’ve been “outside” challenges. Twelve years and we still really like each other—as you can see by the photo above, taken at Christopher’s wedding.

Jim is now working three jobs—which is why he is currently bald. He says he doesn’t have enough time to style his hair! He’ll grow it back out when he’s down to one job—a promise Karlene will make him keep!

Jim still works his regular day job at NIS, doing customer support for dental offices. When he finishes there, he moves downstairs to the QA department where he tests new versions of the software. He only works at Home Depot on Saturdays and Sundays now. We’re hoping this will be the year that he can drop that job.

In his spare time , Jim loves to play with the grandkids. They get a real kick out of him. Jim wishes he had more time to take them camping and fishing. He’s determined to do that in the near future.

Karlene took several trips this year. She and Megan did the now infamous Summer Road Trip. Karlene also went back to KY in August for an early celebration of her parents’ 50th anniversary. It was the first time in years that she, her brother and both sisters were together.

Karlene has several jobs that keep her busy, too. She sells Twilight-inspired perfumes on the Internet, she is the assistant manager of a book and toy store in Pleasant Grove (which she loves!), and Rosehaven is coming out of extinction on a limited basis, representing a few authors .

But her favorite job is being a grandmother. She has Grandma Day every Tuesday when she tends Baby Shrek and Baby Burrito, and she hopes that Little Princess will soon feel comfortable enough with her to come play too.

Erika (and all others reading), we very much hope that you have had a wonderful and fulfilling year, and that the year to come will bring you peace, hope and blessings unnumbered.

All our love,
from the Browning-Gordon-Davis-Ricks families.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let it snow. . .

See this?

This is what's happening in front of my house right now!

I left early this morning to do the very last of my Christmas shopping. The only thing I still needed was a gift for my husband who, after giving me a Wii and new clothes and a Kindle (all of which were supposed to count as birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts), expected me to give him a windbreaker he'd picked up for himself at Deseret Industries (thrift store)!

Uh-uh. Ain't happening.

I thought I'd run out this morning to the bank, the grocery, the post office and to get his gift. I went to Wal-Mart first. And no, they didn't have what I've decided to get Mr. I-Don't-Really-Need-Anything — and I came out to a blizzard! I was going to go on to the next store—what's a little snow to Cordelia anyway? But she barely made it out of the parking lot!

I headed home, slipping and sliding the whole way. I carried in one batch of groceries. Then shoveled my way back out to my car. In the less than one minute it took me to grab the second (and fortunately, last) batch of groceries, the snow had completely covered where I'd shoveled.

I'm supposed to go to work at 1:00 p.m. but I'm sort of hoping they shut the store down and tell me to stay home. It's really gross out there. Then I could stay in bed all day and read. And let's pretend I don't already have 40 books waiting their turn, because I can instantly download and read any book that my heart desires because I have a Kindle! (DH's anniversary gift to me.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are you Subbing for Santa?

(Blogging twice in one week? Oh my gosh! What's the world coming to?)

For many years, our family has always done a Sub for Santa. We don't go through the official SFS program, but rather find a family local to us or someone we know who is in need, and then we provide a fun Christmas for them. We have such a good time picking out the gifts and wrapping them, but the best part is when we leave them on the porch, knock and then run. Then we go back home and giggle over goodies, imagining how excited the children must be to find all sorts of gifts on their porch.

This year, we're doing it a little differently. We're helping to provide Christmas for a family that's being sponsored by Provident Book/Humdinger Toys. And instead of knock and run, we actually get to be the elves who accompany Santa on Christmas Eve to deliver the packages.

I know lots of people like to participate in this type of Christmas giving. If you do, but you haven't found a family to help yet, you're welcome to join with us in providing Christmas for this one.

Provident Book/Humdinger Toys decided to do a Sub for Santa but hadn't chosen a family yet. A woman and her daughter came into the store and noticed our SFS signs and asked how to get on the list for consideration. The daughter has three children. She's a single mom. Her youngest, the boy, has some physical handicaps. She had no way to provide Christmas for her children. She also had not signed up for Christmas assistance from any of the other programs. It just felt right, so we adopted them as our store's family to help this year.

We had her bring her children in to the store. They had such fun creating a wish list for Santa. They were the most well-behaved children—they were respectful to the toys, putting things back where they belonged, polite to us and to each other. I'm sure they were on their best behavior, but still. (Unlike the obviously well-off woman who brought her three children in later that day and let them trash the store.)

Anyway, if you'd like to help us sponsor this family for Christmas, there are several ways you can do so. If you're local, you can come into the store (map) and purchase one or more items from the childrens' wish lists—you'll get 15% off items purchased for donation to this family—or simply donate cash. Or you can bring in new, unwrapped items, non-perishable food stuffs, or grocery gift cards. Or you can donate online.

For more details about the family, a list of suggested items, and the link to donate online, visit the Provident Book blog.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Perfect Snow

We had the most perfect snow this morning, all soft and thick and fluffy—the kind that makes the most wonderful snowmen and snow forts and snowballs. And since it was Grandma Day, I decided it was the perfect time to introduce the grandkids to snow.

The boys—ages 1 1/2 and 1—have never really been in the snow and didn't have snow gear. Wal-Mart solved that problem really quick. I called my daughter-in-law to invite my 3-year-old granddaughter over to play, but they weren't home.

Around 1:00 p.m., I bundled the boys up in their new snow suits and mittens and boots and took them out for a lovely time in the snow. Here are some photos showing how much they loved it!

Baby Shrek

Baby Burrito

We lasted all of two minutes outside.

But that's okay. Winter has just started and I'm determined.

Later on I received this via text message.
Little Princess

What a difference time makes!

Monday, December 08, 2008

514 and counting

Oh my stinking heck! (Yes, I'm a Utah Mormon now and proud of my fake swear words.) Okay, I've told you the internet was down for awhile. And then I've had to play catch up with the important work related stuff. So I sat down just now to get caught up on my blog reading and there are 514 posts in my Google Reader. 514! Really.

I'm going to be late for work. . .

"Leverage" had me at Timothy

One of the new shows I've been impatiently awaiting premiered last night. And?

Worth. The. Wait.

The basic premise of Leverage is that Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton) is a former insurance investigator who reclaimed millions of dollars in stolen property for his company. Then, when his son was ill, the company refused to pay for experimental treatment and his son died. Ford is now unemployed and bitter. In this first episode, he's conned into stealing designs for a new airplane, along with a team of thieves he knows from his previous line of work—he caught them all. They do a double-cross, retrieve the information, get the bad guy and then decide to stay together to help people who need "leverage" in their fight against the rich, powerful and corrupt.

This first episode was fast paced, kept me interested the entire time, and was reminiscent of what I loved so much as a child when I first watched Mission: Impossible. Although I've not seen Ocean's 11 (or it's sequels), I understand that it's got a similar feel to it. This show may very quickly rise to the top of my list of favorite shows.

Okay, bad stuff first. Some of the acting was a little shaky. The weakest link was Beth Riesgraf, who plays sociopathic thief, Parker. Yes, she's supposed to be crazy and not quite fit in, laughing at the wrong times. But her acting was choppy and unstable, and not quite at the believable level yet.

Another disappointment was Christian Kane (gasp!). I know, I know! He was wonderful as Lindsey in Angel and I can't believe he wasn't perfect here too. Kane plays muscle guy Eliot Spencer, and he's a little off his stride here. However, I have faith that he'll improve.

Gina Bellman was believable as the con artist, Sophie Devereaux. Alec Hardison, as Aldis Hodge the computer geek, was dead on. Loved him. But the shining star of the show? Is there any doubt? Timothy Hutton, as Nathan Ford the good guy turned a little shady, was spectacular. Maybe I'm a little biased because I've always had a tiny bit of a crush on him (I even liked him in Nero Wolfe), but I did a quick google on the reviews of the show and everyone seems to agree with me that Hutton is the show.

If you missed the first episode, TNT will probably re-run it some time this week. Episode two will be on at its regular time, Tuesday, 10/9c. I've got my DVR set already!

Friday, December 05, 2008

8 Things About Me

Sandra tagged me weeks ago. Between starting my new job and my once dead but now resurrected Internet connection, I'm just now getting around to it. And don't expect any deep and thoughtful answers here. I'm very shallow.


Eight Things I'm Looking Forward To:
  1. Christmas presents. I want Grandma toys!

  2. Summer. I really dislike cold weather.

  3. Christmas parties. My parents will be here in less than a week and it will be seven straight days of Party City here at my house.

  4. Jessica Day George's new book, Princess of the Midnight Ball. It comes out in January, so if someone wants to give me a gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon for Christmas this year...

  5. The LDS Storymakers Writers Conference in April.

  6. Megan coming home safe and sound from China in June-ish. (I know, I know. She hasn't even left yet. I'm just saying.)

  7. Grandma Day—every Tuesday

  8. Christmas with the grandbabies and watching them open their presents on Christmas morning. (Ooops. I guess I should wait to be invited before I put this on my list—hint, hint.)

Eight Things on My Wish List:
  1. World Peace. What? Isn't that on everyone's list?

  2. The ultra-amazing Kindle. Megan has one. I'm trying not to break the 10th commandment.

  3. An iPhone. Do I need to say why? Everyone secretly wants one of these. Don't deny it. I know you do.

  4. A month long trip to Europe with my hubby.

  5. A new blazing fast PC laptop with all the bells and whistles, plus all the software upgrades I'd need to run on Vista.

  6. A fully loaded iPod. Yes, I have an iPod and I love it. I want someone to load it with all my favorite songs. Because I don't know how.

  7. Some new boots. When I unpacked my winter clothing box, I distinctly remember taking out a pair of black boots and a pair of brown boots. I have no idea where I put them. And these are boots that I wore nearly every day last year.

  8. Time to read the 45 books that have been sitting on my dresser for nearly a year.

Eight TV Shows I Like to Watch:
(I recently did a post about TV show here so I won't elaborate.)
  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's not on TV anymore but I have the DVDs. Yea!

  2. Bones

  3. Fringe

  4. Terminator: Sara Connor Chronicles

  5. Grey's Anatomy

  6. House

  7. CSI Miami

  8. The Mentalist

Eight Things that Happened Yesterday:
Are you kidding me? I'm supposed to remember that far back? Ain't going to happen. Here are eight things that happened today.
  1. The wind smelled like railroad ties. A sure sign that winter is almost here.

  2. My mother called me about a Christmas party. Everyone who we know that used to live in KY but who now lives here in UT is invited.

  3. I broke my fingernail down to the quick. Another reason why I hate winter—my hair, skin and nails dry out something fierce.

  4. My brain got a cramp trying to think of all these things.

  5. I realized I was falling asleep as I typed.

  6. I decided to cheat and quit at six things.

Eight People Who Now Have to Do This Silly Tag:
  1. McKenna

  2. Melanie

  3. Megan

  4. Suan

  5. Cindy Beck (cool Christmas background)

  6. Gaynell Parker (love your new design)

  7. Erika

  8. and YOU!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Not my fault...

I'm not dead.

I'm not sick.

And although I went on vacation over Thanksgiving, that is not why I haven't been posting here.

It's not my fault I've been AWOL. Honest.

And it's not from lack of trying.

Something is wrong with our internet connection. Our guy has been over here several times lately, checking wires from rooftop to basement. We've replaced routers, antennae and a bunch of other stuff that I don't even know what its called.

And still we have intermittent (more mittent than inter) and slow-as-molasses service.

I will be back. Promise. And I will have lots to say. As soon as we get this problem remedied.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Do you really want this guy up your nose?

Normally, I am not a big drug person. I tend to get more side effects than benefit from most drugs, so I generally go the herbal route.

Also, I just seriously have issues with using a product touted by this guy:

But Jim and Megan were sick last week with sinus infections. They both have noses that tend toward that and I was muchly counting my blessings that my nose is usually infection free. However, I took pity on them and shelled out the $35 for a box of Mucinex. Actually, Megan bought it using my debit card. If I'd been at the store I would have thought twice about that price! But whatever. I was just glad I wasn't sick.

Pride goeth before the fall.

Yesterday I had to leave work early because I. Was. So. Sick.

I came home, took some Mucinex that Jim and Megan had raved over, and went to bed. When I woke up, I felt better. I still have a cold BUT the sinus pressure is 99% gone. I can breathe. And I can work. Yippee!!!

So, if you're standing in the store wondering if you should shell out the big bucks for this stuff, the answer is YES! It's dang expensive but worth every penny.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Grandma Day

I didn't get to blog about the new store yesterday because two of the cutest critters on the planet ran me in circles all day. (And I loved it!)

Not only can Baby Shrek shove three whole corn cobs in his mouth at the same time, but he also learned to jump since I saw him last (on Friday). He jumped on command all day long, and laughed and giggled and ran in circles after each jump. His command of language is also growing. He handed a box of Wheatables to Megan and demanded, "Crackers!"

Not to be outdone, Baby Burrito popped a new tooth through yesterday, which makes a whopping six of them now! He also is learning to walk. He took 8 steps between myself and his momma. He also took three steps, paused for a minute and looked around, and then took several more steps.

With this much excitement goingo on, can you blame me if I forgot about the store for one day?

But never fear, I'll be posting the promised coupon in just a few minutes.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I love Halloween. Unless I'm sick, I always dress up and take treats to some of my favorite clients. I've done this for years. Now though, I don't really have clients anymore so I go visit friends and family. I only made five stops this year, but boy, it took all day!

Then I hurried home to wait for the cutest little trick-or-treaters on the planet to stop by.

Baby Shrek came as Tigger this year. Isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen? He has a little tail in the back.

Baby Burrito was a little pumpkin. He went with me on my visits today. We went to see Auntie Kenna and Bampah, Grandpa Jim, Aunt Suan, and Mommy. This is when we were lunching at the Quilted Bear.

Both Baby Shrek and Baby Burrito were at my house at the same time. I tried to get a good photo of the three of us together. After several attempts, we gave up. They had more important things to do than to sit in Grandma's lap.

I'm thinking of disowning my daughters. I just don't understand how these individuals who were birthed by me would not fully participate in the Halloween spirit.

Melanie's sole contribution to the Halloween season was a pair of candy corn earrings (gift from Aunt Suan). She did however (after much coercion from me) put Baby Burrito's pants on her head and strike a pose.

Megan went with an orange top and candy corn earrings. I gave her multiple opportunities to pose for the camera. This is the best shot. Go, Meg.

I have no photo of McKenna, who was also wearing candy corn earrings. (If it weren't for Aunt Suan, they'd have done NOTHING!)

This is me. I am a witch. I was a little concerned that Baby Burrito might be disconcerted by my costume, and I did have a plan b, but he didn't mind at all. I was just Grandma, albeit a little funnier looking that usual.

Jim had a really cool rubber biker mask that he wore to work but took it off before the babies came by. We were afraid it would scar them for life. I forgot to have him put it back on for photos. But doesn't he look cute in a hoody? We've been married for almost 12 years and this is the first time I've ever seen him in a hoody. I think he needs to wear them more often.

Notably missing is my one true child who DID dress up for Halloween. Christopher was Borat. Destiny was with her father for Halloween so they didn't get to come visit me but I'm hoping they'll send photos which I will post at a later day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Whitney Awards Benefit Auction

Taking a short break from news about the new store to tell you about something else that's totally cool!

The Whitney Awards Benefit Auction. Starting tomorrow, November 1st, and running through the end of the month, they will offer books signed by some of your favorite LDS authors plus gifts, clothing, editing services, artwork, jewelry, crafts, chocolate, collector items, and much, much more! Including an Urban Botanic warmer with the Thanksgiving Oil, donated by moi (which will go up the second week—I'll remind you).

New items will be added daily through November 18, so check back often!

All goods and services have been donated; the proceeds go directly to the Whitney Academy to help promote excellence in literature by LDS authors. For more information about the Whitney Awards, please visit our website: www.whitneyawards.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good Deals? Of Course!

Jeri asked:
I love ticket to ride! I need to buy two more games (family gifts) for Christmas. On the grand opening day, will I be able to get a good deal? I can get it on Amazon for $38. (free shipping) Let me know. If it's a better deal - I'll come visit.
We'll have some fantabulous deals. I can't quote you a price right now because we're busy stocking the shelves and entering things into the computer to get ready for the Grand Opening on November 15th.

But I can tell you this. A few days before the opening, I'll be posting a coupon here that you can print off and bring to the store that will give you 25% off any one item.

We'll also be having some Free Drawings for toy and book packages, several valued at over $300!

That alone is worth the trip!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

THE Coolest New Store on the Block

Announcing the Grand Opening of

Saturday, November 15th

9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

661 W State, Pleasant Grove, UT

This is the new book/toy/game store where I am now officially employed. I got a look at some of the toys and games we're going to have in the store and I was Blown. A. Way. (Yes, I purposely misspelled that for emphasis.)

This is going to be the coolest store around. We will have a book section that will feature mostly LDS titles, but also some national best sellers, as well. It will carry LDS music and DVDs, too.

Then the toy section—forget about Wal-Mart, Target, and even Toys R Us. These toys are amazing! Science kits, board games, educational games, card games, building kits, and more—products for toddlers to adults. 95% of this stuff I've never seen before and I wanted to play all of them!

Starting tomorrow, I will be posting information on some of the products we'll be carrying—just to get you drooling.

Mark you calendars now because, trust me, you are not going to want to miss the Grand Opening! We're going to have author signings and % off coupons and drawings for free stuff and candy tasting and lots of fun stuff. It will definitely be worth you time to drop in and see us—and start your Christmas shopping. (Bring your list. I'll be there all day to help you find THE perfect gift.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

10 Things You Can't Do When You Work for Someone Else

After spending a depressing year and a half doing nearly nothing but watching Law and Order re-runs and eating nouggies, I have finally reached the point where I'm bored out of my mind. . . and I accepted a job offer. I will be working at a new bookstore opening about 5 minutes away from my house. Grand Opening is November 8th and I'll have more to say about that later.

This will be a new adventure for me. It's been a long time since I worked for someone else. When I left the interview (which was really good for my ego, what with all the begging me to come work for them), I felt really excited. Then this morning, reality hit as I realized all the things I'm going to be giving up.

  1. No more going back to bed with a good book on cold, blustery days.

  2. No more working on MY time line—which sometimes started at 6:00 a.m. (if I woke up early) or as late as midnight (if I couldn't sleep).

  3. No more taking a two hour nap in the middle of the day.

  4. No more blaming gas on the dog.

  5. No more spinning around in my chair and singing show tunes at the top of my lungs as a way to clear my head.

  6. No more spontaneous road trips.

  7. No more reading blogs or playing Spider Solitaire in the middle of the work day.

  8. No more wearing the same outfit two three days in a row.

  9. No more wearing mismatched clothes because they happen to be the only things that are clean.

  10. No more working in my PJs and fuzzy pink piggy slippers.

Nope. No more of that.

Instead, I have to be proper and professional at all times. (That's me, to the right. Well, it could be if I were blond, with long hair, and 20 years younger.)

And I have to remember to brush my teeth before I head off to work in the mornings.

This should be interesting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So cute you could eat them!

I got tagged by Megan earlier this month—a photo tag. Post the fourth picture in the fourth folder of your pictures folder. Okay. . .

It took me a minute to figure this one out but I believe it's Baby Shrek's feet. Aren't they the cutest little toes you've every seen?

Now I tag: Sandra, Suan and Jessica.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If you ever eat sugar free goodies, READ THIS!

It's freezing cold and snowing! And I'm going back to bed with a book but I had to take a minute to blog about something soooo exciting.

This is especially for people who eat sugar free/no sugar added baked goods and who live in the vicinity of Macey's grocery store at 931 W State Rd, Pleasant Grove, UT. The rest of you are welcome to read too, but you'll have to find your own source for these goodies.

There is a company called Hill & Valley that makes the most delicious goodies—cakes, cookies, brownies, pies and muffins. I'm drooling just thinking about them.

They have a white cake with white frosting that tastes just like wedding cake. Oh my gosh! Yum!!

They also have a yummy turtle brownie that is just To. Die. For.

And pies, oh the pies, in nearly every flavor you can think of—I love the pumpkin and the chocolate and the coconut, and. . .

Here's the thing with Hill & Valley —many sugar free/no sugar added products don't quite give you that full flavory flavor and they give you a bit of a bitter aftertaste. If you've been off sugar for 10+ years, like I have, you put up with it just so you can have something approximating sweetness. But these—these Hill & Valley products—are so yummy that my kids will even eat them. Happily. The only problem with that is that because they like them too, I have to share. Bummer.

But anyway. I used to do most of my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart because they have the largest variety of sugar free products in one spot (including seasonal goodies), and since I'm there for the goodies, I might as well get everything else I need because I hate shopping. But lately, WM has cut back on the Hill & Valley baked goods. I've complained about that but they don't care. Apparently they know what I should like better than I do.

Today, I went in to the Macey's grocery store in PG for the deli ham that I like and also for Wheatables (why Wal-Mart doesn't carry Wheatables is beyond me). While I was there, I strolled the aisles to get a few other things I needed. And—lo and behold—I stumbled upon a display of Hill & Valley products! I picked out a white cake (see the image? I bought that exact cake) and some chocolate cupcakes.

Then I went over to the bakery to talk to the manager. I wanted to tell her how pleased I was with their addition of these items.
The manager said that Hill & Valley had sent them to a meeting of bakery managers yesterday and they'd gotten overlooked.

When she asked corporate what to do with these scrumptious goodies, they'd told her to throw them out. (WHAT?!!? I just about burst into tears over the thought of that!)

But, clever woman that she is, she put them out yesterday afternoon—just to see if they'd sell. She asked me lots of questions about what I liked about them, which of the products I'd tried, what I didn't like, etc. Then she said that if they sold well, she'd try to continue to stock them. (Just in case they don't, I went back to the display and added a chocolate cake and some apple walnut muffins to my basket. They freeze fine and are just as yummy later.)

So, now I need your help, dear beloved bloggy community. I'm on my knees, begging you please, please, please. . . If you live near the Pleasant Grove Macey's, and you ever eat sugar free desserts, GO BUY SOME OF THESE GOODIES NOW!!!

I don't care if it's cold and snowy. Get yourself out of bed and go get some before they're gone. And while you're there, go tell them in the bakery that you are so happy to see these products in their store. You can also tell them I told you about them if you want (but that's not so important).

Now playing on my iPod: Sugar, Sugar by The Archies

What are you doing still reading this blog? You should already be on your way to Macey's.



*This is not a paid advertisement. I have not received any compensation whatsoever for doing this. This is just my one woman campaign to get these absolutely delicious treats as a permanent product in my local grocery store.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Must See TV and a Few Don't Bothers

With the introduction of the new fall TV season almost over, I've decided go ahead and post opinions on a few of the shows, although some of my favs, like Lost (season premiere Feb 2009?) and a few interesting new ones, like Leverage (December, TNT, ) and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (January, Fox, Mondays) have their premieres later this season.

First, you'll notice these are all dramas. That's what I like to watch. You'll have to go elsewhere for commentary on comedies and reality tv.

Great New Shows:
Fringe (FOX, Tuesday)—My favorite new show of the season. We're already several episodes into it, but you can watch past episodes online and catchup. Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is an FBI special agent who is assigned to the "weird" cases (think X Files, only science, not supernatural). In the original episode, Olivia and fellow agent & boyfriend are called to investigate an international flight landing in Boston where everyone on board is dead. Her boyfriend is exposed and to save him, she must get help from Dr. Bishop (John Noble), a scientist who's been in a mental hospital for 17 years. Her only access to him is through his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson). Homeland Security is involved, as is a multi-million dollar company led by a creepy woman, who is involved in weird science experiments—including bionic limbs, cloning, reanimation of the dead, mind control, etc.

Intriguing plot lines, lots of action and suspense, well acted (although I do get tired of Dr. Bishop's droning), and enough mystery that it hooked me from the first.

The Mentalist (CBS, Tuesday)—Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is a consultant with the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation—is this real?). Jane "has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his razor sharp skills of observation. Within the Bureau, Jane is notorious for his blatant lack of protocol and his semi-celebrity past as a psychic medium, whose paranormal abilities he now admits he feigned." Jane has a love/hate relationship with his boss, Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) who needs him on her team, but who is irritated with his inability to follow protocol.

I like Baker's portrayal of Jane, but Tunney is a little too stiff. Hopefully they'll work into a better flow together. This show has potential but it also could very easily go over the top and become too violent for my tastes.

Don't Bother:
Knight Rider (NBC, Wednesday)—Premise: Absolutely the coolest car ever created, KITT is equipped with an "AI" (artificial intelligence) that is capable of hacking almost any system. Its weapons systems match that of a jet fighter, and its body is capable of actually transforming into other vehicles and using sophisticated holographic imagery to elude villains.

Easily the lamest remake I've seen. Even lamer than Bionic Woman. Poor acting, ridiculous plot (and I'm not talking about the car, which was the best part of the show).

Eleventh Hour (CBS, Thursday)—Premise: Dr. Jacob Hood (Rufus Sewell), a brilliant biophysicist and special science advisor to the government, as he investigates scientific crises and oddities. His passion and crusade is to protect the substance of science from those with nefarious motives. He is called in at the eleventh hour and he represents the last line of defense. Special Agent Rachel Young (Marley Shelton) is the FBI officer assigned to watch Hood’s back.

I was really hoping this one would be good, but it's not. The acting is bad. There's no chemistry between Sewell and Shelton. It was contrived and overly preachy.

Raising the Bar (TNT, Monday)—Premise: Follow the lives of young lawyers who work on opposite sides – the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office – as well as those who sit in judgment on their cases.

This one has some good actors in it. I like Jane Kaczmarek and Gloria Reuben but the characters are just silly. I can't decide whether this show is meant to be tongue-in-cheek or if it's dead serious. Either way, it doesn't work for me.

Returning Favs (best first):
Bones (Fox, Wednesday)—Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist, and Booth (David Boreanaz), FBI, work together to solve murders. She's a genius, he's got the street smarts. I love the interplay between Deschanel and Boreanaz. The entire cast is great. Do you remember Boreanaz from Angel? You'd never know it was the same actor!

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, Monday)—Not as well acted as it could be, I'm still fascinated by this show about a group of freedom fighters trying to stop the creation of Skynet, which will create cyborgs who will threaten mankind with extinction. My fav: Cameron, the "good" Terminator, played by Summer Glau.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC, Thursday) and Private Practice (ABC, Wednesday)—my two guilty pleasures. I'm embarassed that I like them, but I do. I've even created fragrances for some of the characters.

Heroes (NBC, Monday)—Although I've really liked this show in the past, it sort of feels like it's spinning out of control. I hope they pull it back together.

ER (NBC, Thursday)—Last season for the doctors. Although I've been a fan for the entire series, I can't say I'll miss it. It was great, but it's run its course.

CSI: Miami (CBS, Monday)—My favorite of the CSIs, I hope they finally get Eric and Calleigh together this year. And it would be great if Horatio could find a nice woman to settle down with. CSI LV—I'm getting tired of that one. CSI NY—never really liked it.

House (Fox, Tuesday)—Another guilty pleasure. I hate House, and the train-wreck-about-to-happen that he is, and yet, I can't pull myself away.

If I had to narrow it down to the top three shows that I MUST SEE each week, it would be: Fringe, Bones and Grey's Anatomy.

And I must say I'm very much looking forward to Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton. I love Hutton in everything I've seen him in. It also has Christian Kane who was so good in Angel. I like the premise—a bunch of bad guys who act as modern day Robin Hoods.

I'm also looking forward to Doll House. As a big Buffy and Angel fan, I always check out Joss Whedon's new projects. This one is starring Eliza Dushku (who was great as Faith in Buffy) and Amy Acker (who played Fred in Angel). The "Dolls" have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language, for different assignments. They're then hired out for particular jobs, crimes, fantasies, and occasional good deeds.

And there ya go.

Now playing on my iPod: Life's a Show/Give Me Something to Sing About from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the Musical)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My old car

My family has a tradition of giving each other our cars. I like that.

So after my dad gave me his Jeep for one butterscotch pie (a Jeep which I absolutely love, love, love and which I named Cordelia —thanks for the name, Melanie G ), I needed to do something with my old car.

While I was contemplating the possibilities, my nephew's car died unexpectedly. So I sold my old car to my sister for two pedicures—one for me and one for Megan, who helped me deliver it to their house.

Michael, my nephew, tried it out and liked it. He has now made it his own:

I think it looks kind of cool.

Now playing on my iPod: Let the Good Times Roll by The Cars

Friday, October 03, 2008

Purse-aholics, get your fix here!

Handbag Planet is giving away a free handbag every hour for 24 hours on October 15, 2008 ,the day they launch their website. Go here to sign up. The bags are really, really awesome. They have a huge selection and variety of styles and colors.

I entered to win this one. It's totally me, isn't it?

Go enter to win one.

Her Good Name by Josi S. Kilpack

I got Her Good Name by Josi Kilpack a couple of weeks ago but I had to wait to read it because other less important stuff like cooking and cleaning and working my day job kept getting in the way. I started it a few days ago and then stayed up until 2:00 a.m. this morning to finish it. That right there should tell ya sumthin'.

Here's the promo on the book:

Chrissy is having an identity crisis. As a single woman and convert to the Church, she has always managed to find her place in life—at least until someone else begins using her credit cards, her bank account, and, most important, her name. Now the real Chrissy must prove her innocence against a growing pile of collection notices and unpaid bills. But with no job, no money, a warrant for her arrest, and a closet full of high-heeled shoes, a girl can only get so far. When Chrissy meets Micah Heet, the other half of a blind date gone bad, the two discover they are facing the same battle and join forces to find the perpetrators. Little do they know that the small semblance of life they have left will be put on the line in the process.

I really liked this book for so many reasons. First, I liked Chrissy. She's Latino and I think it's about time we got a little color in our LDS fiction. She's also pretty feisty. She doesn't let white-boy Micah control the relationship, even though she has a strong attraction to him. She also doesn't let her lecherous boss get away with anything. There's some romance, but not too much. It didn't make me want to poke my eyes out with a fork.

The suspense of the identity theft was amazing. Even though the chapters are very short, I just couldn't stop reading last night. This poor woman's credit and reputation was put through the wringer. Chrissy quits her job thinking she has $5000 in the bank to tide her over to the next job and she has an excellent credit rating. By the time the woman who has stolen her identity is done with her, Chrissy is over $90,000 in debt, her bank account has been wiped out, and she's been arrested and forced to spend the night in jail. But Chrissy doesn't give up or give in. She fights back and turns the tables, going after the woman who stole her identity and ruined her life! Not the wisest decision in real life, but it made for great reading.

As I read this, I kept thinking, "This could be me! Someone could do this to me!" It was frightening. Especially since we have our mortgage with Countrywide, whose employee sold our info to multiple sources. So far we're okay and Countrywide is paying for a two year monitoring service on my husband's credit. But not mine—even though both our names are on the mortgage. I'm thinking of using one of the services recommended at the back of Josi's book for me, even if I have to pay for it.

But back to the book—one caution. The bad guy, or rather, the bad woman, really is bad. Josi lets us see into her motivation and her thoughts enough that we understand why she does what she does, but this woman? She is just bad to the core. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that she is not above killing innocent people in really horrendous ways to get what she wants.

There's a side story with Chrissy's sister that doesn't get fully resolved. She makes the right choice in the end but we don't know if there will be any fall out. Also, we're left hanging at the beginning of Chrissy and Micah's relationship. We're led to assume that everything will end up happily ever after, but there are some issues they'll need to work out. I'm okay with that because that's the mushy stuff I don't like to read about.

I give Her Good Name 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to everyone who enjoys a light suspense, with a couple of PG-rated violent scenes.

You can read a couple of chapters here. And you can buy it online at Deseret Book or at Amazon.

Fall Into Reading 2008

I'm late getting my Fall Into Reading 2008 book list up. Once again, this challenge is hosted by Katrina over on Callapidder Days.

For this challenge, I'm starting with just a few titles, then adding to the list as I go along. I'd like to read 12 books during the challenge. I've read the first one already. (wahoo!) As I finish them, I'll post a review and link to it.

Hope you all will come join me in this reading challenge. If you need a blog to participate, you can use this one. Just send me your lists and reviews and I'll get them posted and linked for you.

1. Her Good Name — Josie S. Kilpack (4 stars)

2. Peace Like a River — Leif Enger


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Catchin Up with Stuff

I haven't blogged a lot in September because I've been busy CLEANING and ORGANIZING. More details later, but for now, let's just say that I am the proud owner of a clean and functional office and shipping area. Yea for me!

I want to let you know about a couple of things:

BIAM (aka Book in a Month). There are two going on right now, starting today, but it's not too late to join in either of them. I'm participating in both. No, that does not mean I'm doing double the writing (although that would be nice). I'm just logging in both places and getting double the support and love. If you're interested, you can join me at one or both.

  • LatterdayAuthors BIAM: You need register here. Then PM me and I'll add you to the group. We're taking a virtual tour of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Set your own goals and write as much as you can. Check in daily and post your word counts.

  • Tristi's Challenges: Go here. Create a post on your blog about the challenge. Link back to Trisit's site. Set your own goals and write, write, write. Check in at Tristi's place and report your word count.

Fall Into Reading. This actually started on Sept. 22nd, but it's not too late to join. I've already started reading for it, but I need to get my list posted. This is really fun and unlike some other people you know (and hopefully forgive), Katrina is spot on about awarding the promised prizes for her contest. For details, go here.

Summer Reading Thing Prize Awards. Winners are as follows:

Please send me your mailing address and I'll get those out to you. Even if you've sent me your address before, please send it again because I've misfiled my document with that info. Also, when you send your snail mail address, make sure you tell me both your screen name and your real name so that I'll make the connection.

**About the winners. After deleting commenters who hadn't participated in the the Summer Reading Thing, I had more prizes than commenters. (My fault for being a slacker.) So I went back to the sign up list and used the randomizer to fill in winners for the extras.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Wrap-Up

It's time to wrap up our Summer Reading Thing Book Challenge. The Mr. Linky is below.

Write a summary post on your blog and use the Mr. Linky below to link to it. In that summary post, tell us which book you liked best (and why), which you liked least (and why), any new authors you tried and if you'll read more by them, and what (if anything) you learned from participating in this challenge.

I will do one final prize drawing next week and everyone who finished the challenge and posted a link below will be eligible.

Also, the Fall Into Reading 2008 reading challenge, sponsored by Katrina over on Callapidder Days starts on Monday, Sept 22nd. I hope you'll all join me over there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Ends on Sunday

The Summer Reading Thing for 2008 ends on Sunday. I really do not know where my mind has been. I mean, when you sponsor a reading challenge and promise weekly prizes, you really should give out those weekly prizes on a weekly basis, right?

I am soooo sorry.

I actually have given out 7 of the 13 promised prizes. And here's your chance to win one of the remaining six. Remember, in order to win a prize, you . . .
  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not signed up already, it's too late now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight on Sunday, September 21, 2008.

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

I will pick the winners of the following books at random. If you want to tell me which book you'd prefer to win, you can list that in your comment. First winner will get their first choice. Second winner will get their choice, if winner #1 didn't take it, etc. etc.

The prizes are:

Prey by Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive. It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour. Every attempt to destroy it has failed. And we are the prey.

Mass market paperback; like new condition.

The March by E.L. Doctorow

In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand troops through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces, demolished cities, and accumulated a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the dispossessed and the triumphant. In E. L. Doctorow’s hands the great march becomes a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.

Trade paperback; like new condition.

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks comes the long-awaited follow-up to his classic tale of enduring love, The Notebook. After 30 years, Wilson Lewis, son-in-law to Noah and Allie (of The Notebook fame), is forced to admit that the romance has gone out of his marriage. Despite the shining example of his in-laws' 50-year love affair, Wilson himself is a man unable to express how he truly feels. With the distractions of his daughter's upcoming wedding he is forced to realize how close he is to losing his own wife Jane. But if Wilson is sure of anything, it's this: His love for his wife has only intensified over the years, and he wants nothing more than to make their marriage work. Now, with the memories of his in-laws' inspiring life together as his guide, Wilson pledges to find a way to make his wife fall in love with him. . . again.

Trade paperback; very gently read.

A New Song by Jan Karon

In A New Song, Mitford's longtime Episcopal priest, Father Tim, retires. However, new challenges and adventures await when he agrees to serve as interim minister of a small church on Whitecap Island. He and his wife, Cynthia, soon find that Whitecap has its own unforgettable characters: a church organist with a mysterious past, a lovelorn bachelor placing personal ads, a mother battling paralyzing depression. They also find that Mitford is never far away when circumstances "back home" keep their phone ringing off the hook. In this fifth novel of the beloved series, fans old and new will discover that a trip to Mitford and Whitecap is twice as good for the soul.

Trade paperback; very gently read.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.

This is the book that the movie Christmas with the Kranks was based on. Mine has a different cover. Hardbound, library copy; good condition.

Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Strange things were happening on the icy planet called Petaybee. Unauthorized genetically engineered species had been spotted, while some people were simply disappearing. None of the locals were talking to the company, so the company sent disabled combat veteran Yanaba Maddock to spy. But a strange thing happened. With her relocation to the arctic planet came a return of Yana's health and strength. And the more she got to know the people of Petaybee, the more determined she became to protect her new home....

Prize has a different cover. Mass market paperback; slightly used condition.

Mr. Linky for wrap-up posts coming tomorrow.

The Journey by J. Adams

The war between good and evil is as old as time itself–

so is the absolute truth that each choice is accompanied by a consequence.

Ciran is about to be faced with both.

Two roads lie ahead. Only one leads home.

Which will she choose?

If I've ever wanted to give a book a whole-hearted positive review, it would be this book, The Journey by J. Adams.

I met Jewel Adams years ago, although she probably doesn't remember me. I've heard her speak a couple of times. She is a lovely and gracious woman with many talents and strengths. I admire her very much and appreciate her dedication to LDS youth.

However (you knew there was a however coming, didn't you?), I can't quite give this book the glowing recommendation that I wish I could.

First, the positive things: The Journey is basically the Plan of Salvation set in a YA fantasy. I love that. Sometimes it's easier to teach concepts using allegory, metaphor and parables than to just teach it straight out—especially when you're trying to reach teens. I applaud Jewel's integrity and her desire to take on these truths, and to illustrate them in a way that teens will be able to see commonalities between Ciran, the main character, and themselves.

I love the message—that our choices have consequences. Everything we do makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Too many youth today don't quite make that connection and I think it's an important one. The Journey shows us how Ciran's choices make ripples all around her—some good, some not so good. By presenting this in a fantasy story, it allows the message to get through to the reader in a non-preachy, non-confrontational way.

The problems I have with this book are not with the message or the basic plot line, but with the presentation. Too much time is spent in description, in telling us what happened, rather than letting us experience it as it happens. Some YA readers won't care; others will not have the attention span to get through the slower parts of the story. Also, many of the characters are not fully developed and their personalities and dialogue are interchangeable. I like to see more uniqueness, more individuality.

Another issue I have is that this book was self-published. Don't assume that because I was once a publisher that I'm automatically biased against self-publishing. I'm not. In fact, I don't have a problem with self-publishing as a general rule. This particular book would have been better with tighter editing. Also, it's obvious in the layout of this book, the way the pages are set up and numbered, that the typesetter really did not understand how books are built. The cover is a disappointment—it's not very attractive or appealing and wouldn't catch the eye of the casual browser. This may be nit-picking on my part and perhaps you could make a case that the "average" reader wouldn't really notice these things, but I think they do, if only on an unconscious level. All things being equal, the look and feel of a book can influence the reader and/or buyer as much as the subject. When your book is competing with others that are professionally created and designed, a book like this is at a definite disadvantage. Which is a shame because the message of this book is so strong and so needed in today's world.

This is not to say that I think everyone will have problems with this book. There is definitely a target reader for The Journey, which would be young women between the ages of 12 and 15, who are familiar with the LDS version of the Plan of Salvation and who enjoy fantasy. I would just like to have seen this story polished a little more before going to press so that it would have reached a broader readership.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. There were some things I liked about it and other things that were distracting enough to pull me out of the story. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but I would definitely recommend it to the target reader described above. In fact, there are several girls in my neighborhood who I think would like the book very much, and I intend to tell them about it.