Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Living Room Blinds!


I finally got some blinds for the living room! Earlier this month, as part of the Artist's Way group I'm doing with some friends, we listed 10 Tiny Changes we wanted to make and then pick one to do. I picked "Get blinds for living room and take down those ratty looking sheers."

I budgeted $30 for them, planning to get cheapies from Wal-Mart. Then, when I was cleaning my office, I found a $40 Lowe's Gift Certificate that DH's brother had given us for Christmas last year! So that, plus my $30 got me some awesome blinds!

I bought them on the 7th, planning to hang them right away, but I hit some issues—they were too heavy for me to hang alone, Christopher couldn't figure them out. DH had to finally go buy some tools that we already had but can't find. (Grrr! Yes, still not organized.)

However, I (as in, DH) finally got them hung!!!

Not sure what I'm going to do with that big gaping hole up at the top. The sheers were hung decoratively with a little doo-dah there in the middle. Maybe I'll get a valance or something...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Office Work!

I wish I'd thought to take "Before" photos of my office. You'll just have to trust me that it was a mess of disorganization. Not at all conducive to creativity. Or thought. Or work.

On Thursday I started the dejunking, re-organizing my office project. I walked 2 1/2 miles moving stuff out of and then back into the office. That gives you some indication of how bad it was. (Seriously, 2 1/2 miles. I wore a pedometer.)

I still have a few piles in the living room that need to be dealt with: one laundry basket full of stuff I need to sort and decide what to do with, and two buckets of paper that needs to be shredded or filed, and a very small stack of other things that need a home somewhere else besides my office.

But after working all day Thursday and most of Friday, I'm ready for the "reveal"!

West and North Walls from Door

This is the view of the North wall from the doorway. You can see that there is space on my shelves and on the table behind my chair. That's where I do paperwork.

I have only the two laptops on the computer desk. I have two printers to the left (you can only see one) and one printer on the floor under the desk. (Why do I have three printers? One's color, one's black laser, and the one on the floor is hooked to the PC because I couldn't find the printer drivers.) (But now, due to the dejunk, I know where that CD is and can load it on and get rid of the third printer, as soon as I get rid of the virus on the PC...)

Notice the artwork by the window—Mary Englebreit. Love her!




South Wall

This is the view of the South wall. It shows the two good printers.

What you can't see because I take blurry photos is that my bookshelf is neat and organized. Top shelf holds writing-related books. Second shelf will hold "my" books (the ones I'm writing; they are still in the living room waiting to be sorted. (Although, I may move the writing books down to shelf 2 and keep my dictionaries and "my" books on shelf 1...)

Shelf 3 is paper.

Shelf 4 is my book portfolio (books I've helped create) and some notebooks that are too tall for other shelves.

Shelf 5 holds resource books, like how to do html, etc.

And notice my collage there to the right of the bookcase? That is the Vision Board for my creative side. :)




West Wall

Another view of the West wall that shows my neat and clean shelves.




East Wall

The East wall is for long-term storage. The left closet has two filing cabinets and some sorters. The right closet has software, office supplies, etc. And see that blue/aqua colored box with the clear box on top? Those are my art supplies. (I love containerizing!)

Also, since cleaning out my office stirred up my allergies and I woke up Saturday with a bad headache and sore throat, I used that day to load most of my music CDs into my iTunes program on my Mac. Been meaning to do that for a looonnggg time. I used to listen to music when I worked but haven't done it for years because I don't have a CD player in my office anymore. I've missed it. Now I have it back. I'll be transferring the tunes to my iPod sometime soon.

And this next week? What will I be doing? You never can tell...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I'm Learning to Paint!

This is what I did this past weekend at an impromptu Artist's Weekend in Logan.

It loses a bit in the scanning process because my scanner is old. But I had so much fun! It's like kindergarten all over again—except much more fun because there aren't any boys eating paste in the class.

This technique is called Colored Pencil Painting because it's done with colored pencils, but you use many of the techniques of painting. I can't wait to start my next project!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Must-Enter Christmas Contests!


I am sponsoring several giveaway events this month. The first is the Holiday Goodies Event at Live, Love, Laugh with Leslie.

As of today, she has 47 items up for giveaways, and lots of ways to earn entries.


I'm giving away an Urban Botanic Holiday Set, a fragrance warmer in your choice of colors with three winter scents: Allspice, Peppermint and Pine. Visit the post to read what Leslie and Belinda thought of the Holiday Sets I sent them and to enter to win.

I'm also giving away a Twilight fragrance to two lucky winners. Leslie and Belinda both loved the Bella's New Moon spritzer I sent to them. Visit the post to enter to win AND to find a 25% Discount Code for use at CustomScentsOnline.

The Holiday Goodies Event and their CustomScentsOnline Discount Code ends December 6th.



I'm also a sponsor in Tristi's Merry Month of Miracles Giveaway.

Every day during the month of December, Tristi is giving away an awesome prize to celebrate the release of her new book, Dearly Departed (book 2 in her Secret Sisters series), which will be released in January!

Visit her site every day to enter to win a bunch of totally cool prizes—including a Twilight spritzer and an Urban Botanic Holiday Set, from Yours Truly.

If you haven't already read Secret Sisters, you'll want to do that before Dearly Departed is released. It is a fun read. Here's my review.

(P.S. I'll be saving some of my Christmas money to get DD when it comes out.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Wish List Meme



I saw this on Facebook, posted by Debbie @ Cranberry Fries. And WOW! I'd love a new red Wii. Not that I need one, but still.

However, it's the ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR GameStop gift certificate that I REALLY want to win. I could totally go nuts this Christmas!!

Entering this contest is easy and fun. You can enter too, but visiting TodaysMama.


Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama (link to: http://bit.ly/tmwishlist) and GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.


1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
That we can spend some of it together. And that they'll all find peace and love and financial stability in 2011.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
The kids couldn't get up until I put the CD Sleigh Ride by Emile Pandolfi on full blast. That was their cue to jump out of bed and come running.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?
A Gift Certificate for a full year's visit to my favorite nail place in Midvale, getting my nails done and my eyebrows waxed every two weeks. (Value: $1250)

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
I love decorating the tree using old ornaments that I've had for years. This year, I'm having my grandsons make some ornaments for me and help me decorate.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
Monopoly. Clue. Eye Spy.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
Putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
Someplace very warm, with a beach.

8. Check out GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?
1.  Wii Just Dance or Just Dance 2
2. Wii Party
3. Wii Carnival Games

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grandma Got Treated!

It's always a treat when the munchkins come over, but I especially love Halloween when they come Trick or Treating!

Here comes Shrek, dressed as Bumblebee the Transformer. He said to his mother, "Bumblebee the transformer, who is an autobot, not a decepticon. That means he's the good kind, Mom."

That's his mom, Flo the Progressive girl, beside him.



Buddha decided to go against type. He's dressed as a little devil, but he's a total angel in real life!


 This is his dad flying him toward me. I love the way my camera kind of blurred it. He looks like a creature from another dimension.


 And another blurry one—because I think it looks cool.



 Here's Grandma getting a treat from Buddha—baby drool!
(And notice my costume? Can you guess who I'm dressed as?)



Here's Shrek and Grandma. Grandma is explaining that she's a vampire slayer and showing Shrek how to properly use the stake to dust vamps.



 Buddha and Grandpa Jim
Grandpa is being a party pooper and not dressing up.


 And here is Burrito. He was mad because it was raining and therefore his parents wouldn't take him to the car wash. Apparently he loves the car wash. I'm trying to bribe him with Smiles Fruit Snacks but he flat out refused to wear his costume. 



And now I'm tickling the little monster! He loved my stake. Tried to steal it when he left but I got it back. :)

Even though he wouldn't put his costume on at my house, I did get to see him in it yesterday.
It's Thomas the Train Engine!!!
 Isn't that the cutest?!!?


And here is Shrek with his mask on. If you look really close, you can see him making his Transformer face and clenching his fists. Love it!!


 Here's another of McKenna as Flo, the Progressive Insurance Girl


and Steve as Ursula the Sea Witch—tentacles and everything.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Online Writers Group...

There are four of us die-hards that have been continuing a BIAM since July. We're a pretty creepy bunch...


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


(Couldn't find a photo of one of us.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

HEALTH QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION

Note from Karlene: I have no idea where this originated. I got it in an email from my sister. But I liked it so much I had to post it.



I Love this DOCTOR!!!!

HEALTH QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION


Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it...don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.


Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.


Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!


Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.


Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good !


Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! ... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?


Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.


Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!


Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.


Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!


Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tie-Breaker Voting!

Thank you to everyone who voted on my photos!

After tallying all the votes for my new business photo, #5 and #6 came out as a tie. I had several comments that suggested the reason one was preferred over the other was due to the difference in close-upness.

(Yes, that's a word. I just made it up. So.)

Here are the two top voted photos, resized to be similar. Now which one do you like best?

 Big Smile



Little Smile

 




And the winner of Key Lime Pie?

T. Lynn Adams!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vote for My New Photo & Enter to Win a Book!

I've been using this photo on my blogs and websites for years.

I got tired of hearing people tell me that they didn't recognize me because I look so different now. (That's the polite way of telling me that this photo was taken at least 10 years ago and now I'm OLD and really need to face reality.)

I've also recently used this image on facebook and other social media places.

I think it looks just like me but it might not go over well HERE.


So I did a photo shoot a couple of weeks ago. I whittled down the 171 shots taken by Jessica Sorenson  to the ones below. Now I need some help deciding which one to use.

I work in the book/publishing industry. I'm looking for a photo that says I'm:
  • professional
  • competent
  • honest
  • friendly 
  • and easy to work with

Which one should I use?

Please vote in the comments section. You can vote for as many photos as you want but you HAVE TO TELL ME WHY you picked the one(s) you did.

#1



#2



#3



 #4



#5



#6



#7



#8



#9



#10



Vote by midnight on Saturday, September 25, 2010.


Everyone who votes is entered to win a copy of

Key Lime Pie
by Josi Kilpack


I loved it!

It's a great read and I happen to have an extra copy.

Get extra entries by helping me spread the news via Facebook, Twitter, or your blog. Tell me in the comments how you earned your extra entries.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This week's Weekly Reader canceled due to the gomboo.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cold as Ice by Stephanie Black

Cold as Ice by Stephanie Black

Covenant
978-1-60861-013-8

304 pages, softcover
Suspense

From the publisher:
After five patient years, Abigail Wyatt's sisterly care is finally paying off: her younger brother, Derek, is abandoning his self-destructive lifestyle and seeking his parents' forgiveness, thus ending the painful estrangement that wounded the whole family. But just as the pieces are falling into place for the prodigal's return, a woman is murdered in a local park—and police name Derek as the prime suspect. Rather than standing firm and cementing the positive changes in his life, Derek succumbs to his cynical fears and runs from the law, leaving Abigail with her hands tied. Literally.

Derek's raw panic convinces everyone that he's the killer—everyone except Abigail, who doggedly maintains her brother's innocence. With the help of Kyle, a friend she might be falling for, Abigail digs deep into the murdered woman's troubled past in hopes of clearing Derek's name. But as she uncovers a sinister plot of greed, envy, and vengeance, this loyal sister must face the painful truth that things—and people—are not always as they seem.


I love Stephanie Black's mysteries. Her dark and twisty book, Fool Me Twice, is one of my all-time favorites. Like that book, Cold As Ice is LDS suspense. While religion does not play a big part in the story, it is mentioned occasionally and LDS beliefs on repentance and forgiveness are part of the motivating forces behind some of the characters' actions. However, it's not at all preachy and I doubt non-LDS readers would be offended by it.

I wasn't immediately captivated by Abigail's personality. I felt she lacked the spark I've come to appreciate in Stephanie's other protaganists. But as the story went on, I grew to respect her courage, her determination and her commitment to her brother. Also, she owns a bookstore. That means she's totally cool in so many ways that I forgive her for being kind of wishy-washy at times.

I absolutely loved Abigail's brother, Derek. He reminded me so much of some people I know and my heart went out to him. I could totally see why he'd do the stupid things he did, making things worse and adding to the suspicion surrounding him.

Several promising love interests for Abigail wound their way through the plot, all of whom are also possible murderers—her ex-boyfriend, Brendan Rowe, who easily loses his temper when his reputation is threatened by Derek's situation; newly-available Kyle, who comes on a bit too strong for comfort; Chase McCoy, artist wanna-be, who is determined to get his paintings into Abigail's store; and Ethan Hanberg, the murder victim's ex-husband. While the potential romances were extremely underplayed, they provided tension and interest as each of them may have had motive and opportunity.

I suspected the real bad guy early on in the book, but couldn't say for sure who it was until just a few pages before it was revealed. I like it when that happens. Also, I like the romantic turn at the end but wish it had been played up a bit more, earlier in the story.

I give Cold as Ice 4 solid stars. I recommend this to readers to who like suspense, but want it without the gore and swearing.



*I won Cold As Ice in a blog give-away.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack

Key Lime Pie by Josi S. Kilpack

Deseret Book
978-1-60641-813-0

320 pages, softcover
Culinary Mystery

From the publisher:
When Sadie Hoffmiller's new friend, Eric Burton, receives word that his missing daughter's body may have been found in Florida, he immediately packs his bags, but Sadie is determined to stay home and prove to everyone that she is not a busybody.

But when she senses Eric is hiding something, Sadie is compelled to take action. Before shee knows it, she's in the heart of Miami, trying to piece together a trail littered with broken relationships, mysterious strangers, and forged documents that might just provide Eric the answers he's been desperately searching for—or reveal a truth he may not be ready to face.

Sadie must also face a difficult question: Where is her heart leading her? Onward into Eric's adventurous arms? Or back home to the stable and steady Pete Cunningham? If only love was as easy as following a recipe.


Read Chapter 1 here.

This is book #4 in the Sadie Hoffmiller series—and while you don't have to read the books in order, I recommend that you do. We meet Sadie in Lemon Tart, when her neighbor is murdered. This is also when Sadie meets handsome Pete Cunningham. In English Trifle, Sadie travels to London with her daughter, only to get caught up in a mystery when one of the help is murdered. In Devil's Food Cake, another mysterious murder catches her attention and introduces her to Eric Burton. In this book, not only is she involved in a fourth mystery, but she must sort out her feelings for Pete and Eric. Not an easy task.

I loved Key Lime Pie. I rarely give 5 full stars to any book, but this one gets it. I loved everything about it. Want to know how much I loved it? I loved it so much that I decided to forgo my Sunday afternoon nap so I could finish it.

Yep. That much!

The characters are interesting, unique, quirky—especially Sadie. She is so determined not to be a busybody, and yet, that's one of the traits that makes her so endearing. I love the way her mind works—and her heart.

In addition to being a fun suspense, Key Lime Pie was also satisfying in the relationship department. At the end of Lemon Tart, I firmly wanted Sadie to end up with Pete. But by the end of Devil's Food Cake, I was really liking Eric. I was in a quandary at the beginning of KLP, not knowing for sure who I wanted her to be with. But by the end of the book, I can honestly say, I liked her choice.

The plot has a lion's share of twists and turns. Several times I thought I had it all figured out, only to have the story spin off into another layer of intrigue and mystery. KLP was a completely engrossing and totally fun mystery!

If you like culinary mysteries like Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Schulz mysteries or Gayle Trent's Daphne Martin series, you'll love Sadie Hoffmiller.

(And for my non-LDS friends, even though this book is published by Deseret Book, there is absolutely no mention of religion whatsoever in the book.)

*Key Lime Pie was a trade, in exchange for typesetting a postcard for the author.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

We're back to YA fantasy this week. And yes, I'm jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon. I figure I might as well, since so many people are talking about it now.


Scholastic Press
978-0439023481

384 pages, hardcover
YA Fantasy

From the publisher:
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.



Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


Scholastic Press
978-0439023498

400 pages, hardcover
YA Fantasy

From the publisher:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.



Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Scholastic Press
978-0439023481

384 pages, hardcover
YA Fantasy

From the publisher:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.


No Spoilers.

I really liked this series. Yes, it's brutal in places, disturbing. And I definitely would have had my children wait until they were mature enough to read it. I don't think anyone under the age of 14 has any business reading these books, and for most teens, I'd say sixteen (or older) to read it. Readers who are sensitive to violence might never want to read it (in fact, one of my adult children probably shouldn't read it).

Given that, here's why I liked it. First, Suzanne Collins has done a superb job with the mechanics of writing in this series. The writing is beautiful, eloquent, poignant—laugh out loud funny in places, tear-jerking in others.

The suspense keeps you going. There are a few predictable places, but other places where she totally surprised me. A few places were slightly unbelievable—would adults really trust so much in a teenager they couldn't control? But then on the other hand, it made sense when the teen is seen as little more than a pawn in a game.

The characters are so clear, so real—and not just the love triangle of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. (I was happy with Kat's choice). Secondary and minor characters were also so well drawn and real that I could picture them in my mind—Rue, Prim, Haymitch, Cinna and the prep team, Greasy Sae, and so many more. They're going to be floating around in my brain for a long time.

The biggest impact of this trilogy is how it made me feel and what it made me think. Even though I finished the series at 3:00 a.m. and was dog tired, it took me over an hour to fall asleep because I kept thinking about the messages in the books—and I think that's why the series is so popular, despite the level of violence. We can all relate to one or more of the messages in this book. For me, it came down to three very powerful messages.

Katniss and the other teens are trapped in an unfair "game" where they are forced to fight for their lives. Don't we all feel that way at some time or another? Teens are trapped in school, adults trapped in their jobs. Maybe we're trapped with health or financial issues—whether of our own making or completely out of our control. Life itself often seems like an unfair game—and we won't make it out alive. We form alliances the best we can, and it breaks our hearts when we're betrayed. Katniss is used and betrayed over and over again. The heartbreak sometimes sends her to her bed. But she gets up again. And again. Her strength in the face of adversity is inspiring.

Katniss and Peeta and their team play a game called "Real or Not Real." Not going to tell you why, but at a certain point memories become mixed up and it's difficult to tell which are real and which or not. So they ask each other—they verify with the people they trust. This is a HUGE thing with teens, and with adults. Does this boy like me? Does my friend really have my back? Am I a good writer or lame? (Okay, that one was a little personalized, but you get the idea.) This game is a good reminder that we can't always take things at face value. What we believe to be true may or may not be so.

There are things in this life that are worth dying for—our family, freedom, truth. This rings such a bell in our current political state right now. It's not just about what's immediate or easy. Where tyranny and injustice exist, it's important that those who are able to do so stand up and fight for freedom and truth. We protect the weak; we support the right.

Okay, so now that I've written my own novella on why I liked The Hunger Games series, did you like it? Why or why not? (If your comment contains a spoiler, say so at the beginning.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gravity vs. the Girl by Riley Noehren


Forty-Ninth Street Publishers
978-0615261652

272 pages, softcover
General Fiction

From the publisher:

Samantha Green has just spent an entire year in her pajamas, and she is beginning to regret it.

What's more, she is haunted by four ghosts that are former versions of herself. First up is the overachieving and materialistic attorney, who is furious with Samantha for throwing away the career she worked so hard to build. Second is the lackadaisical college student who is high on life but low on responsibility. Next is the melodramatic teenager, who is consumed with her social standing, teal eyeliner and teased bangs. Finally, there is the scrappy six-year old, whose only objective is to overcome gravity so that she can fly.

Samantha's ghosts alternate between fighting with each other, rallying around Samantha's budding sanity and falling in love with a string of good-for-nothing drummers. Despite her reluctance to do so, Samantha must rely on these spirits from the past to repair the present and ensure her future.

Another 2009 Whitney winner, this debut novel, Gravity vs the Girl was a very compelling read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. At first, I wasn't sure if the ghosts were "real" ghosts or the product of an emotional breakdown. By the time I figured it out, it really didn't matter. Without giving it away, I'll just say that I would have loved the book no matter which way it went because we are all haunted by ghosts of our past in one way or another—sort of the point of the entire book.

The writing was incredibly good. The story was hilariously funny in some places, and in others brought up that lump in my throat, making me swallow back the tears. I loved Samantha and her goofy cousin. That relationship was wonderful, all by itself.

I'm looking forward to seeing more from this writer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams


St. Martin's Griffin
978-0312555115

224 pages, hardcover
YA

From the publisher:
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.


The Chosen One is a heart-rending account of Kyra's struggle. She loves her family very much—that's obvious in her story. But like all teens, she is trying to find her own way between what she was taught as a child and what she truly believes.

Written in first person, present tense, this story is intense. The voice is strong, the writing absolutely wonderful. The characterization is clear and brilliant and completely believable. While not suitable for younger readers, due to some brutal violence, I think mature sixteen year olds and above will be able to handle it and will draw from it strength and hope in facing their own life challenges.

This book was a well-deserved Whitney Award winner of 2009 Best Youth Fiction. In my opinion, it's Newbery material.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


This is what my finished cookies look like—but these aren't my cookies.

I stole this photo from HERE—where you can find a recipe using sugar.

I can't eat sugar, so my recipe is below (which I stole from my daughter).

Sugar Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup Splenda for baking*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk

1 TB vanilla
2 cups Hershey's sugar-free chocolate chips


Combine pumpkin, Splenda, oil and egg.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

Dissolve soda in milk and add to the wet ingredients.

Mix dry ingredients into the wet.

Add vanilla and chocolate chips.

Stir all together.

Drop in TBS onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

If desired, you can also add 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves. But I prefer them without nuts and I think the nutmeg and cloves make them too spicy.

*If you can't eat Splenda, you can substitute with about 1/2 cup of honey and add a little extra flour.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Amazing Jewelry!

I finally got some of the awesome flower earrings from Chanté at Freckled Flower Shop. I've been meaning to order some since she sponsored the Chasing Twilight contest. Megan won the earrings and when I saw them, I knew I had to have some.

So are you ready?
Ta-da!
I'm modeling the large black rose earrings with matching rose ring.


Here's a close-up.

Aren't they awesome?

Chanté's prices are super absurdly low. Seriously. When I got my order and saw the quality of the earrings, I would fully expect to see them in Kohl's for around $20 or more. And the ring? At least that much, too.

If you want to fully understand what I mean by "absurdly low," check out Chanté's etsy shop. She has studs, small wires or large wires (mine are large) in a variety of flowers and colors.

Here's a sampling of the rings:




I like big and bulky jewelry, but if you prefer smaller, daintier creations, check out another friend of mine, Pamela, who makes unique, handcrafted jewelry.

I like these brown earrings a lot.


 While this necklace and bracelet is too dainty for my personal tastes, I think it's absolutely lovely—as are all her creations.

Pamela has a variety of gold and silver jewelry using several types of gem stones. Check her out at Unique Handcrafted Jewelry by Pamela.



*I purchased  jewelry with my own money. I receive no compensation for this review.