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The written word has always been a joy for me.  I can not remember a time in my life when I did not have books. Before I was able to read them, my mother read books to me. As soon as I could read independently I was never without a book in my hands or very nearby.  As years passed, writing developed into a passion for me as well. I tried novel writing while home with my two children during their early years and was challenged to focus on the craft.  I never gave up the love even when I had to give up the pursuit.  Now, with grown children and the fact I am sitting on the other side of fifty I can pursue my dream of writing.  I have continued the reading quest but now the writing is attainable as well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Daisy Cakes Bakes

Daisy Cakes Bakes is a lovely new cookbook written by author Kim Nelson, owner of her own business, Daisy Cakes.  I first saw this book on the Blogging for Books website and was smitten from the start when I saw a white layer cake with peach filling on the cover.  In the middle of a winter doldrum, this cake on the cover of her book just screamed spring and freshness.  Something I am craving as I anxiously await the warm weather of spring and summer.  Nelson's book features Southern comfort baking so all her confections are calling my name. I just love the South and all the comfort foods in that region. I was not disappointed when I received my copy  of Nelson's book and began exploring the recipes inside the book.  I am anxious to make many of them, especially the white coconut frosting,  and  the butter brickle cookies, which I have a feeling my son-in-law would adore.

I can highly recommend Daisy Cakes Bakes for any baker's home cookbook collection.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

When God Made Light

Matthew Paul Turner  and David Catrow have done it again with another beautiful children's book to charm parents and entertain young readers. When God Made Light is as delightful as their previous book, When God Made You. Turner's prose is catchy and easy to read. Catrow's illustrations are winsome and just simply sweetness defined. I am completely loving this book!
A picture book must appeal to children and adults to be a success, When God Made Light, does this so well.  I was so excited when I saw the book listed on the Blogging for books website.  I remembered their first book and I loved it so much that I knew I wanted this one also.  I wanted to find out if the book equally appealed to children so I had a little reading session with my adorable next door neighbor, who happens to be in kindergarten and loves reading as much as I do.  We sat down and read When God Made Light from cover to cover.  She said "the book was great", "the cats were cute and funny" and  "the story was about God making light and us."  Overall she told me she really liked the book.  So there you go, high praise for When God Made Light  from  both of us!

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Being Present Not Angry Is Worth It Every Time

Some days just getting to where I need to be is a challenge.  Take today for example, I wasn't running particularly late, I would have gotten out the door and on my way to work right on time if I hadn't tried to top off the pet's water bowl before I left the house.  Unfortunately, I miscalculated and over filled the bowl which caused a cascade of not only water, but also all the tasks to clean up the spill before I could leave the house.  I had to scoop out the extra water, (it is a fountain bowl so picking it up and pouring isn't easy) then change the towel under the bowl which was wet and setting on the wood floor, put the wet things in the laundry and still get the dog put in the bedroom before leaving. 

I am prone to timing things to the last minute so this made a kink in my timeliness.  I could have gotten angry, and let the events ruin my day,or been down on myself for not planning my morning better, but a few years ago I realized that no matter where I am at a particular moment in time, I am exactly where I need to be.  Even running late to get to work or any other planned appointment.  Today was a prime example of this because if I had been exactly on time then I would have missed the event that put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. 

As I left the house, probably five minutes later than I should have, I was driving down my street which just so happens to exit at a crosswalk for the neighborhood elementary school.  Children are often walking to school so I drive slowly. At the last house on the street I notice a young boy, one I don't know because this home had just recently sold to new owners. He was probably a kindergarten or first grade student, and he was all bundled up in his stocking hat, heavy coat, and backpack standing on the walk next to his driveway garage door, facing the street.  In all that heavy clothing, the boy was doing a full on impression of a European water fountain as he "peed" an amazing stream in front of God and everyone.  I did a double take, this simply isn't what I usually see as I drive down this road. Then I burst out laughing! It is always hilarious to see other people's kids doing something that you'd just die of embarrassment of if your own child did it at the same age.

I guess my day was starting with water in more ways than one.  Besides cracking me up, I once again realized that if all had gone as planned today and I hadn't spilled water to clean up as I was rushing out the door, I would have never been treated to a full out laugh fest on my way to work.  Life is just too short and too precious to be angry about insignificant matters, including running late.

  I used to try to make up the time when something would happen to start my day in an unplanned way by rushing about, causing myself more anxiety as I drove faster than I should, knowing I wasn't following the speed limit and increasing the tension. By the time I would get to my destination I was in a horrible mindset and the rest of the day would continue down the same path.

Then one day I realized that no matter where I am, or what I am doing, God has placed me exactly where I need to be at that particular moment in time. What an anxiety reducer, I learned that being present in the moment, whatever or wherever it is, is a blessing and shouldn't be wasted.  Whatever I do, wherever I am I will do it for the Lord because he has placed me there.

Now I try to live my days with this mindset. If I am working with a student that is angry or very frustrated with school and life in general, I remind myself that I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do so I must somehow find joy in this moment and share that joy with others. This is not easy, or even always successful, but it is a goal I continue to strive for as I do so love my students.

I do my best to be on time and be where I need to be but if unforeseen circumstances arise, I make a point of enjoying the moment and purposefully finding joy.  My days go so much better and I smile more.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Chalk Man by C.J.Tudor

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor is a good read for a cold winter night, if you enjoy a good mystery.  The mystery begins with a group of teenage boys living in their English village, making their way through the trials of adolescence and a bucket of chalk given as a birthday present.  The boys' teacher, Mr. Halloran, gave them the chalk as a gift and inspiration to enact a secret code of chalk figures to communicate with each other throughout the long summer days.  The boys primarily use the chalk figures to warn each other of the town bullies and plan meeting locations but when Eddie, the main character finds a drawing that leads him to a murder, everything changes. Years later, as adults, the mystery resurfaces and one of the boys, now an adult is killed.  To solve both crimes, Eddie learns he must solve the mystery to  protect himself as well.
I tend to be a judgmental critic when it comes to mysteries.  They often feel predictable and staged to me, using well worn plot lines.  I am pleased to say that The Chalk Man is not that way.  I was pleasantly hooked from the beginning of the book to the end.  It is easy to recommend The Chalk Man as a wonderful engaging read.  

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Celebrating Christmas with kindness to all including myself!

Tis the season to be harried- fa la la la la, la la la la.
No one to blame but lit-tle ole' me- fa la la la la, la la la la.
Yet only I can change my attitude, fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Celebrate by making time for gratitude, fa la la la la, la la la la!

My family know that little dittys go through my head constantly.  At home they often come out as I sing to everyone about everything.  The dog, to kennel up.  When the kids were little we sang about bath time and picking up toys. I sing about cooking supper and something I hear on the news.  Thankfully my family is tolerant and don't get too annoyed with my rhyming little songs. 

Lately I have been letting the holiday schedule of hectic obligations get on my nerves because I have been feeling that I cannot complete all the tasks that I need to do.  In trying to embrace all the joys of Christmas and the wonderful gift of the holidays I began to fall into the trap of losing track of the joy in the process. Not much singing was going on.  The more anxious I became about completing my to do list and finishing the semester at the high school I work at  (finals are next week)  the less holiday spirit grew inside me.  It was during an almost meltdown that I realized, I had done this all to myself.  I was the one who had placed these expectations on myself.  No one else.

How easy it is to fall into the trap of trying to fit into the society norm of doing it all, or worse yet, comparing ourselves to others.  I am guilty.  But I can also choose to make better choices and give myself the gift of kindness that I am working so hard to give to others.  I can do this by evaluating what things on my schedule I feel very passionate about and focus on those things.  While letting the other things go.  I did just that the other day.  I took time to print out a calendar and fill in the dates with items that I really wanted to participate in, limiting myself to only a few tasks per evening after work.  I scheduled in the church obligations, baking days, wrapping days, and even a day to clean because the dust is getting deep and this stresses me but I know I can't do everything, everyday so that will be completed closer to the actual holiday so that it may last for visitors.

Some things will lapse, things I really enjoy . but must trade for other activities I equally want to do.  For example, I love to do Urban Groove at Genesis, it is a type of Zumba class.  However, I can't do the night class and all the baking I also want to do for friends and family.  So for a week or so  I will omit Zumba and relax in a different way without beating myself up about not getting enough exercise. 

That's the key, I am finding, allowing ourselves the tolerance to make choices and not feel like we are letting someone (even our self) down. Easier said than done, but worth the effort.
It is equally important to remember that it is because we are so blessed that we have the means to be stressed!  This calms my harried nerves faster than any other thought.  If I wasn't blessed with  friends, I wouldn't be busy seeing them and doing activities with them.  If I wasn't blessed with means, I wouldn't be baking cookies, or  buying and wrapping gifts for family and friends.  And if I wasn't blessed to know and love the Lord, I would not be spending time working at his church preparing for the celebration of his birth. All of these things I am truly grateful for and I am blessed to have them in my life so I don't mind so much making choices to not do some of my other favorite things in trade for these.

It is so important to spread joy and kindness throughout the holiday season and all the year, but don't forget while taking care of others, to also take care of yourself. Then there will be glad tidings and great joy for all to share!

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Embracing Peace....30 Days to Peace

Tis' the holiday season and busyness is everywhere.  The stores are busy with people hustling and bustling about as they buy presents.  Decorations are everywhere, and where there are decorations, there are obligations and parties.  I look at my calendar and everyday has something attached to the date.  Instead of finding joy in the days, I find myself feeling overwhelmed.

I am part of a year long enrichment program with some of my coworkers at the school district. It is titled "Inspired Leadership" and has already helped me find my center in many ways.  We are encouraged to practice being "present" in all our endeavors and learn to say no to things that are merely obligations that take away our energy and give us no enrichment. Our sessions are led by a wonderful coach, Tamara Konrade.  She helps us find the energy to be authentic and evaluate the motives behind decisions to help us all become better in our relationships with others and ourselves.

When I last was on the Blogging for Books website, I had recently attended one of her sessions.  One book appealed to me and I ordered it right away,  30 Days to Peace has not disappointed.   30 Days to Peace is a one month creative journal published by Waterbrook.  I am simply in joy over this lovely little book.  I wrote the first few entries this week and already I feel much less harried.  In fact, yesterday I had a stressful end to my work day and before getting into the car to come home I worked on a journal entry.  I was amazed how much better, more centered and purpose driven I felt.   Rather than  just wanting to escape the moment I ran towards the tasks I had, and truly enjoyed them.

I would recommend 30 days to Peace to anyone who needs some comfort and quiet during this busy season.  I  truly feel that it has helped me find the joy of the season.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Cookies

This holiday season I vow to do something every week to make myself feel festive and in the holiday spirit.  This is just one reason why I was so excited to get Elisabet Der Nederlanden's beautiful book, Holiday Cookies from the Blogging for Books Website.  Nederlanden shares engaging recipes from a myriad of traditional and new sources to create a cookie book that appeals to all bakers.

Some of the international recipes include Swedish Pepparakor, Italian Pignoli, Austrian Linzer Augen, and Hungarian Kiffles. The book also includes confections: Peppermint Bark, Apple Cider Caramels, and  Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Squares to name just a few. Finally, the book has traditional favorites such as gingerbread cookies and other decorated favorites.

This book is a charming addition to my recipe book collection and I am so excited to begin using it through this and future holiday seasons.  I would recommend  Elisabet Der Nederlanden's book, Holiday Cookies to any baker this holiday season.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Blessings

I haven't written a blog post for a while.  The school year began and I got busy.  That is what happens each and every year.  School starts and my schedule then revolves around getting up, rushing off to my classroom and coming home to try to cram the rest of my day with keeping my husband, the house, and pets cared for.  Then add in social and church commitments and personal commitments of exercise  and the days really begin to blur.

One particular reason that they go so fast is what I do during the day, I work with high school students.  Each year as  I enter the school term, I try to think of a way to encourage my view of the year. Last year the district suggested each person find "one word" to use for the year.  I chose "foster".
This year, I decided to think about how my students make me feel.  For the most part. I work with students who do not love the whole concept of school.  In fact, for many of my students, they would just about rather be anywhere other than at school.  My students feel school is very hard.  There are many reasons for their perceptions.  Some have had tough life circumstances so just existing is difficult and school is part of that existence.  Others have problems learning, but are not diagnosed with any specific need so they receive no special services.  Some missed educational concepts when they were younger due to absences, illnesses or language acquisition and now have missing concepts that affect their studies.  In a nutshell, all the students I work with struggle.  I feel like I spend a lot of time outside of tutoring them in subjects. I spend time coaching them to exist in the world.

Back to my choice about how to approach this year, well, I decided to work on changing perceptions. This year I am calling my students, "My Blessings."  I am doing this for many reasons.  My students are the reason that I get out of bed in the morning and drive to school.  Without them, I would have no reason to get up and go, other than my own silly agendas, and that is indeed a blessing.

My students help me use the gifts I have been given  in a positive way.  I enjoy connecting with people, helping others understand, teaching new things, taking care of others, and training my students to advocate for themselves.  These are blessings.

Sometimes I notice that there is a stigma attached to the students I work with, and others associate negative labels and values with "my kids."  If I consistently refer to them as "My Blessings," perhaps a new perception may happen over time.

When I am working with "my kids," and they are down and overwhelmed, as they so often are,  letting them know that they are "My Blessings," and why they are, affirms that I am invested in them and care deeply about their success.

Last of all, sadly,  it seems that much too often I find out that a past student has been lost. That happened once again today. It simply breaks my heart.  These individual's lives are so difficult and surviving school is just a very small part of the deal.  Life can be too much to endure.  Yet, they are still "My Blessings," because there is a warmth from their soul left with me that can never be taken away.

Through hard work I am blessed and "My Blessings" are with me each and every day of school year and linger on after.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


I enjoy reading crime novels.  I don't know why, but I am intrigued by the  suspense  of trying to figure out the clues to solve a crime.  Convicted, by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins is a real life crime novel dealing with the wrongful conviction of Jameel McGee by a self purported dirty cop, Andrew Collins.

In the novel, Collins and McGee alternate telling their story, the tale of Collins becoming a cop that broke the rules and planted evidence.  One that found ways to skim money from arrests and did anything to get his collars and make a name for himself both in the department and on the streets.
McGee,  was the one of the men that he framed.  Unfairly accused of a crime he did not commit, McGee served three years in prison, away from his baby boy, and vowing to kill the police officer who had put him away.  Eventually Collins's deceit catches up with him and he too spends time in jail for his crimes.

One would think that these guys would be arch enemies, but they eventually become friends through the art of forgiveness.

I was impressed by the well written story shared in the book.  The promotion of the book says that "it reads like a gripping crime novel."  I don't think I agree with this statement.  I felt it read like a memoir, told between two very distinct voices.  I sincerely enjoyed the book.  The readability was perfect.  I read straight through and enjoyed the journey that they shared with their readers.  I am thankful that  the story was shared.  I feel it is important for all to know that even through deep adversity, forgiveness can be found.
I heartily recommend this book.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The New American Heart Association Cookbook 9th Edition

Healthy living, healthy eating...those two mainstays simply go hand in hand and The American Heart Association Cookbook is a time honored resource on both.  The 9th edition of this book is the best one yet with "800 recipes-100 of them all new and 150 refreshed"(AHA).  I recently received this edition from the Blogging for Books website and I am thrilled to have it.  I sat right down and read through it page by page.  The recipes look amazing!
I confess that I usually feel healthy recipes are tasteless, but the recipes in this cookbook look flavorful and easy to prepare.  Every category is well represented, appetizers, soups, salads, fowl, meats and desserts and so many more. At the bottom of each recipe are the nutrition facts per serving. A helpful addition to planning nutritious meals and an overall health centered diet.
The one recipe that I want to try first is the Sweet Corn Soup with Crab and Asparagus.   This soup has all of my favorite ingredients and is made in a light and healthful way with only 126 calories per serving. My next recipe will be the Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal, which simply screams fall comfort food.  There are so many recipes to try that I will be busy cooking for a long time, but the great thing is that everyone of them is good for the heart and soul.
I heartily recommend the The American Heart Association Cookbook to everyone wanting to embrace a heart healthy lifestyle and those who simply love great cooking!

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.