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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.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ten important truths I've learned from AMC's: The Walking Dead ~ or my silly side unleashed...

     Those who know me are often surprised that I am a fan of the television series on AMC, The Walking Dead.  I'm not certain why.  Perhaps I don't strike many as a zombie enthusiast. I am, however, and have actually learned many things that make my life much more interesting having followed the series.  Allow me to share these revelations with you, dear reader.

     1. Life is a dangerous adventure: From the very beginning of the series we learn that something terrible has gone wrong in the world and existing each day is dangerous. Our ancestors knew this well as they eked out a home, livelihood and government in a new land. Disease, pestilence, and finding or growing enough food for survival was a constant struggle. Over time American society has become complacent  for the most part, not having to watch for dangers around every corner.  The Walking Dead (TWD)  is a reminder that life was at one time a struggle but we are  lucky that for the most part, it is not that way now. However,  it still bodes well to be aware of one's surroundings and watch for dangers, just in case.
     2. Trust must be earned:  The characters meet many people through the seasons of TWD and learn over time to be wary.  Even a good friend can turn against you, or your group (Way to go Shane).  Trust in a group is important for surviving.  Whether you are surviving the daily grind of a career or a hoard of zombies, relying on others is essential.

     3. Expiration dates are suggestions, not absolutes. This revelation is a constant struggle for me.  I see a date on a can or carton and think, well it's the day after the date, it must be rotten now.  Wrong! In a world where food is scarce, food is food.  If it isn't bulging, smelling bad, or looking spoiled, chances are it is just fine.  Cook it well and go ahead.  I watch the show and see the people scavenge for supplies and actually feel really fortunate to have such an abundance.  So, I now just keep tasting the milk in the the carton after the date and if it tastes fine, I assume it is and keep on drinking it instead of pouring it out.  (Take that little Miss Worrywart).

     4. When it seems too good to be true...Be it a credit card offer, a "free" trip or product, or a town named Terminus, it is definitely not a good thing to pursue.  Mark Twain's, "It's too good for true, honey, it's too good for true" (Huckleberry Finn, 1884) pretty much sums up the whole thing, all in one swell quote.  

     5. A woman can be domestic and still strong: Casseroles and cunning = Carol.
Carol is definitely my favorite character in TWD, I think because she is such a round and dynamic character.  Carol began the series as an abused, frightened, and oppressed wife and mother.  She watched her abusive husband die, her daughter was lost, turned into a walker, and then had to be destroyed, and instead of being destroyed herself in her grief she just becomes stronger. She is the definition of resilient.  I don't think she ever loses her fear, but she doesn't let it disable her.  I once heard a saying: "If you weren't afraid what would you do?" Be Carol, that's what I would do.  I think Carol has it all figured out, she can be the domestic that she once was, but she isn't afraid to be strong.  Go Carol!

     6. Chocolate pudding is just plain yummy and sometimes you just need to indulge yourself:  When all the world as you know it has been forever changed, and a big ole' virus has infected everyone so that following death one turns into a body eating monster, a little somethin' somethin' is in order. Ergo, chocolate pudding, or chocolate anything, cause chocolate is just plain yummy!

     7.  Teddy Roosevelt was right: "Speak softly but carry a big stick." Morgan understands this well. Morgan tries to save others, he has lost much, just as Carol has, but he still feels others who are damaged may be saved.  That's the speak softly part.  But sometimes "things" be it people or zombies just need to be taken care of, and a big stick comes in handy.  Not overly threatening, helps on long hikes, yet can be lethal when properly employed.   I tend to be a soft talker.  I don't make waves, more of a adaptable go with the flow sort of gal.  Maybe I need to get a big stick...hmmmm.

     8.  Be prepared: pretty self explanatory that one is. I try to be prepared. Other's I'm sure are more so, but I try.  I know that my sister is much more prepared than I am.  In my basement I have a stale box of Twinkies (in honor of Zombieland), a freezer with some items, and a little wine.  I need to add a radio and some water.  I would not be able to survive a zombie apocalypse for long, but a storm, perhaps.  Maybe I should carry a few more things downstairs.

     9.  Love others well and make each day count, it very well may be your last. I have lost several important people in my life, so TWD did not teach me this concept, but it certainly reinforced the idea home.  Life is precious, whether one is living among zombies or simply just living a life.  So for the love of pete, love well, love completely, and don't waste your time. (No, TWD is not a waste, it simply is an entertainment- thank you very much!)

    10.  Live your faith but don't hide behind it: Father Gabriel has been a wishy-washy character.  He is a priest but has hidden in his church, afraid to go into the new world of the walkers.  When others came into his realm he didn't want the violence, he couldn't deal with his fear.  He hid in his church and behind his faith, he didn't live his faith by going out and ministering to others in need.  This past week Father Gabriel manned up with his fear and his God! Go Gabe! He told his parishioners that they would be believers, but also defend their town.  So, What is the truth I gleaned from this? As a Christian I think sometimes it's easy to hide in the walls of the church, worship and believe but not grow as a Christian.  Taking the faith outside of the walls to serve and take risks is scary, but important for spiritual growth.

So there you go, I'm a fan of TWD, I enjoy all the little and large intricacies within the plot and characters of the series. I look past the walkers, and simply enjoy the show, and learn a little too!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Lucky Rice Cookbook

I have always been a fan of Asian cooking. The flavors and ingredients simply speak to me. When I saw the Lucky Rice Cookbook by Danielle Chang, I simply had to have it! Chang's cookbook is a mix of stories, and recipes from various markets and festivals as well as families. As an Asian cookbook, I think what I liked the most was the approachability of the format.  Some of the ethnic cookbooks, both Asian and other cultures have felt too intimidating to use.  The Lucky Rice Cookbook is the absolute opposite of intimidating.  All the recipes included seem approachable and enticing to any level of cook.

Some recipes included are ABC Beef Broccoli, Macanese African Chicken and Garlicky Smashed Cucumber Pickles. These dishes include ingredients available to anyone at a local grocery store. Other recipes have ingredients that may be more difficult to attain, unless one has access to an Asian market, but a persistent cook could locate the ingredients either at a specialty market or online.

A few of the book's recipes that I particularly loved were the fusion ones.  I am always intrigued with fusion.  The thought of combining Asian concepts with other flavors captures my attention.  One recipe that I will try soon is the Jewish Pastrami Egg Rolls.  I love a good reuben sandwich, and this recipe which has deli pastrami, sauerkraut, spicy mustard, onion and mayonnaise  all rolled up into a egg roll wrapper and fried sounds like a concoction that I would enjoy.

If you enjoy the tastes and flavors of Asian cuisine, I highly recommend The Lucky Rice Cookbook. You will not only enjoy the well-written and easy to follow recipes, but the book itself is a true treat for the recipe aficionado.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Positivity: Sometimes You've Gotta Stack the Deck

     Spring is around the corner, we are being teased by the proximity of it everyday, but spring's not here yet and that can make this time of year the toughest on keeping a positive outlook.  The  beginning of winter is filled with holiday and family, but mid to late winter is when the "going gets tough..." All the cliques flood my mind at this time of year. One that particularly nags me is,  "Don't sweat the small stuff, and - it's all small stuff," This quote from Dr. Richard Carlson's well known book tells us to just let it go and move on, but sometimes that is not as easy as it sounds.  
     When one is flirting with spring days in February, yet knows that a winter storm could reappear at anytime, and summer is still a season away, the days seem to lengthen and negativity can creep on in.  Now, add in the Lenten season.  This is a time for reflection and self examination of all the sins we are held accountable for and the sacrifice made for our transgressions.  When all these things are put together,  it tends to add up to a battle with keeping  a positive attitude and outlook.  So when life seems to gang up on the psyche, then... cheat and stack the deck.
     How do you cheat a negative attitude? Simple, find ways to motivate yourself and remind  yourself that life isn't so bad, in fact, it's amazingly awesome.  I caught myself recently entering a valley of the doldrums, and decided it was time to find my happy again.       First, I dug through my jewelry box and pulled out a simple elastic bracelet that a friend gave me a few years ago.  On the bracelet is a metal bar that says, "positivity".  I put it on this morning as a reminder that I should choose my attitude and that choice should be a positive one.  Next to it, I put on my John 3:16 bracelet.  It is my lenten reminder that an unfathomable sacrifice was made on my behalf, Jesus died for me, so I'd better put on my big girl panties and put a smile on this face, no matter my feelings, things just aren't that bad.  
     Second, go outside and get some air.  Granted, March winds may be gathering force to blow a bit of a "bitey" breeze in your face, but do it anyway.  Instead of feeling the cold, feel the exhilaration of renewal on the cusp of Spring.
     Next, challenge yourself to try something new.  If your work day seems stagnant, think about what you do each day and devise a plan to improve.  Maybe you can hone a skill you already have, but could increase your productivity in that area.  Perhaps, you might find a way to connect with a co-worker, or begin to study an area to add to your skill set.  Boredom is a choice, and continued learning is one also.  
     Finally, make some plans.  Doesn't really matter what the plans are, just dream a little.  Maybe plan a nice meal for a spouse or partner. Look online to find a new recipe or menu and go outside your comfort zone.  Plan a vacation, even if it is one you'd have to save a long time  to afford.  Find the lodging, the restaurants, tourist attractions, souvenirs you will want to buy, just make it a virtual vacation for the mind, heck, even make your daily itinerary.  Even if it doesn't come to fruition, the activity will brighten your mood for the time being.  
     The act of feeling positive truly is a choice one has to make each and everyday.  Getting sucked into a cycle of negativity is easy, getting back out is necessary. Cheat the feeling by stacking your deck and you will come out a winner.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Emotional Edge

     Growth and renewal begins with a new calendar year, and I believe that  this is why the book, The Emotional Edge,  written by Crystal Andrus Morissette intrigued me when I saw it listed on the "Blogging For Books" website.  Morissette states in her  book's introduction that, "The Emotional Edge will not only help you identify the events that have defined your life, it will also prepare you to be better equipped to deal with the future."  Quite the intriguing premise, and a goldmine of a book if the claim comes to fruition.
     Morissette begins her book with explaining the three forms of emotional age, which she terms, "the parent", "the child', and "the adult."  The book then offers a test to determine which emotional age the reader personifies. She then continues her book explaining the traits of each emotional age and why it is a goal to work at achieving the emotional age of "the adult."  Morissette acknowledges the connection of the three emotional ages as mirroring  some of Sigmund Freud's theory of the Id, Ego and Super Ego.
     As the book continues, Morissette explores  various forms of communication that pair with the various emotional ages.  She continues through the book to move the reader into evaluating the communication style of the reader, and instructing the  reader to learn "empowered communication" to aid in reaching the "adult" level of emotional age.
     Finally, Morissette explores the reader's destiny in a chapter titled, "What's My Purpose."
     The Emotional Edge is a book that encourages the reader to self-evaluate their present emotional status and work toward achieving a more evolved status.  As a reader, I enjoyed the quiz and the chapters on communication that instructed one to work towards "empowered" communication.  However, I did feel at times the book read as though the author pulled together many self help notions and molded them into one concept.
     Overall, I would recommend The Emotional Edge, as an intriguing read.  Although I am not certain that it can stand up to the book quote that it will make the reader "better equipped to deal with the future,"  I do feel that The Emotional Edge is a thought provoking book to do some self evaluation and make positive changes towards becoming more self assured.

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