Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review: Veronika Decides to Die

Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption (P.S.) Veronika Decides to Die: A Novel of Redemption by Paulo Coelho

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Veronika decides she wants to die because she doesn't want every day to be the same as it has been. She feels she has experienced all she will experience so there is no point to live and so gets sleeping pills to try to kill herself. The book ends up discussing Veronika and several other patients of a mental hospital.

Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite authors. Although I thought this book was interesting. I didn't like how it ended. I felt like it was chopped off. I thought some of the thoughts and concepts discussed were true to life experiences and feelings regarding mental health. As always he provides views that aren't new but still good to read/go over again and remember the lessons.

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gratitude Friday

5 Things I am thankful for....
1. my big project ending soon
2. all the work we have been getting - something I am always grateful for when having own business
3. good conversations with family
4. the librarys website - to get books put on hold so all I have to do is pick them up at the counter so much easier then searching them down in the library
5. that the libraries throughout the state loaning with each other as I am getting to read quite a few books I wouldn't have been able to if they didn't loan them out

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review: Courage Tree

Courage Tree Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have been on a Diane Chamberlain kick. This one out of all the books I have read of hers was my least favorite but it still was a good story."Sophie Donohue is the wise-beyond-her-years child. Janine is the mother wolf who courageously admits her child into the clinical trial of a new medicine against the advice of her ex-husband, Joe, and her cynical parents." Because Sophie is doing so well on the clinicial trail Janine her mother allows Sophie to go to a summer camp. On the way home there is a car accident and Sophie gets lost in the woods after it. This book started right into the plot and I really liked that. I thought it would start with lots of back story and then get to the main plot. But it started into the action and interwoven into it was the back story so that was a nice change and made it easy for me to read. I didn't like one plot line implication -- as I knew it wasn't going to turn out how she was foreshadowing. But it made me uncomfortable. But still over all -- enjoyed the book. Easy read, good plot, page turner.

View all my reviews.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

With today being Memorial Day, it of course made me think of family and friends that have passed. It is normally a tradition to go and put flowers on the graves of those loved ones you have lost. But I haven't really ever been able to do that as I have lived so far away. I did give brief thought of what will happen - how will I fill when my parents pass and I can't visit their graves because I am so far away. It made me sad which is usual when I think of being so far from my family. But I really don't need to think about losing my parents anytime soon as they are both young. In fact it is my Mom's birthday tomorrow and she is very young for having a daughter who is 40.

Today though I really thought of both my Grandpa's - my Mom's Dad and my Dad's Dad. Both of them passed away quite a long time ago but I miss them. I did think of good happy memories of my Grandpas. I thought of playing cards with my paternal Grandpa as a little girl. He taught me how to play many card games and it is something I enjoy to this day. I remember riding with my Grandpa to pick up my Grandma from work and sitting real close to him because I just always wanted to be near him as he was my hero. He brought me to get ice cream cones and always liked the same ice cream -- anything with nuts but usually butter pecan or black walnut. (photo of my Grandpa and I - 1968)

And I think of my maternal Grandpa working on the farm. I don't have as many memories of him because he died when I was fairly young - I think 6 years old. But I remember watching him work on the farm. I see him saying grace at the head of the table. And I remember the feel his overalls against my skin when he held me on his lap. He had that smell of was the smell of grass and earth. (photo of my Grandpa when he was in the Army)

So today I kept them in my thoughts as well as other family and friends. And remembered good memories associated with each of them.

Why We Should Think Before We Do....

I try to keep things like this on my political blog, but it's Memorial Day weekend and it's one of those instances where the image speaks louder than the words I could type..

It's images like this that sadden me..
It's images like this that make me upset..
It's images like this that make me want to do something like protest, write my congressman, or write a letter to the editor..

As much as I'd like to do all of those things -- the image speaks for itself..

Sunday, May 25, 2008

100 Things | Singing

11. I like to sing.

I have always liked to sing. As a little girl, I remember my Mom singing a lot so I am sure that had some influence over me as I loved hearing her sing. My Mom played the piano - so often my sisters and I would sing with her as she played. We had quite a few sing-along type book. Quite a lot of hits of the 70's - like the Carpenters or Debbie Boone's You Light Up My Life. I remember sitting in the living room and flipping through the song books just to find a song to sing. No accompaniment just to sing acapella because I enjoyed singing.

My Grandparents had a pretty little garden in their back yard and we often used it as a staging area to put on "shows" for sisters and cousins. Our Grandma often sang to us and taught us songs so often we used those songs in our "shows." When I was a very little girl, I was in singing contests -- I have a really clear memory of one in Bottineau, North Dakota(one of my favorite places we lived when I was growing up).

We moved when I was starting 5th grade to Omaha and I became shy. But I still was in the youth church choir. I did solos and duets. But then one time I was picked for a solo. I am up there ready to sing my solo. I was looking out at that crowd in the church and I felt this fear grow inside me. I was shaking and my palms were sweaty. I sang a few words and then stopped. Stopped...Stopping singing right there in the middle of my solo. I just stood there petrified. I developed stage fright over night it seemed. After that I stayed in a choir for a while but didn't do another solo. I couldn't get past the fear that I might do that again. I really didn't sing publicly that much longer. I still enjoyed singing just was too scared to sing publicly. I let that fear hold me back. When I didn't keep up with the singing of course the control and breathing started to slip. But I still enjoyed it even if I was more out of tune. Usually just singing by msyelf or to the radio.

I had a roommate when I lived in Cleveland that had a really good voice. She played the guitar and sang. One night she was playing in the dining room after dinner. I was cleaning up the dishes humming and singing along. She finally stopped and told me that I needed to sing louder. We were harmonizing really well together. It was a Stevie Nicks song and we just had lots of fun singing together. I think she reminded me how much I liked to sing.

Now Michael always says he knows I am feeling good when I sing. Michael and I like to sing on road trips too. Michael has a very good voice and we just have fun singing together. We sing to musicals -- RENT and Across the Universe are our current favorites to sing to.

I know my voice isn't as good as it was when I was younger. I just don't have the control over it like I once did but it doesn't stop me from singing and it won't. It makes cleaning, doing things around the house and road trips go faster and better. And it does make me feel good to sing.

(photo of one of our "shows" at my Grandparents -- I am in the yellow dress -- left to right -- my little sister April, my cousin Nikki, me and then my sister Michelle)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Book Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes (Mira Hardbacks) The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Twenty-eight years ago a North Carolina governor's young, pregnant wife was kidnapped. Now her remains have been found and a man charged with her murder. Only one person -- CeeCee Wilkes -- can refute the charges against him. But CeeCee disappeared years ago . . ." (from summary on

I thought the young naive CeeCee was a believable character. I felt the pain of losing her mother at such a young age. I loved the letters her Mother left her to tell her what to expect from life - giving her the advice a Mom would give their daughter through her years of growing up. I understood how although CeeCee is a very smart young woman she fell for Tim and the story he told her. I really enjoyed the character development of her throughout the book. I was disappointed with the character development of Cory. I mean I understood why she had phobias without explanation. But I wish they would have been shown or explained exactly what caused them.

I read this book in 2 nights. I really could have finished it one but decided to savor it a little bit. I enjoyed the characters, storyline, twists and turns of this page turner. It was an easy read because it pulled me into the story right away from those first pages. It is a book that I would read again

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gratitude Friday

5 Things I am thankful for....
1. Cool weather the last few days
2. A simple pleasure - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
3. The mail love I got from friends this week!
4. The kitty cats -- they are our babies and we love them
5. Michael -- He is an amazing man who I love very much.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Update for my Books Read List 2008

Here is my reading list so far.....

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (read 2 times)
2. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (read 2 times)
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (read 2 times)
4. Marked (House of Night, Bk. 1) by PC Cast & Kristin Cast
5. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
6. Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
7. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
9. Betrayed: House of Night, Bk 2 by PC Cast & Kristin Cast
10. The Fiery Cross (Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon
11. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
12. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon
13. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
14. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
15. Photo Decor by Donna Downey
16. Specials by Scott Westerfield
17. Designers' Stationery: How Designers and Design Companies Present Themselves to the World by Roger Walton
18. Visual Thesaurus: A Quick-Flip Brainstorming Tool for Graphic Designers by Chris Goveia, Hatmaker
19. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
20. The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
21. The valley of horses by Jean M. Auel.
22. Scrapbooking techniques for beginner by Rebekah Meier
23. The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel
24. Tim Holtz Distressables 2 by Tim Holtz
25. What about Words? Creative Journaling for Scrapbookers by Memory Makers Books
26. The Plains of the Passage by Jean Auel
27. 601 Great Scrapbook Ideas by Memory Makers Books
28. The Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel
29. Scrapbooking Made Easy by Simple Scrapbooks
30. Creating Keepsakes' Encyclopedia of Scrapbooking by Tracy White
31. Keepers of the Light by Diane Chamberlain
32. Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain
33. Her Mother's Shadow by Diane Chamberlain
--- The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold -- didn't finish though
34. Acrylic Revolution: New Tricks & Techniques for Working With the World's Most Versatile Medium by Nancy Reyner
35. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (I can't believe I forgot this one as I have read it 2 times have a ton of flags sticking out of it.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gratitude Friday

5 Things I am thankful for....
1. Ice packs for migraines
2. Homemade Steak Sandwiches & Fries - it tasted so good
3. Enjoying the words of Eat Pray Love again
4. Project I am working on is going pretty good - accomplishing a lot
5. And a very silly thing but we are getting a Dollar Tree. And I love Dollar Tree. Little things that make me smile or inspire me (often use things from Dollar Tree in my art).

I recognize that I have much more to be thankful for in my life.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Migraines & Books

I am on day 2 of migraines. Yesterday I pretty much can count as a loss and today was a total loss. I had to go with Michael to do some errands. He is going to have a hard weekend coming up so we needed to get some things out of the way. I went but it really push my migraine into the top of the pain scale. I ended up coming home and going to bed with ice packs all day. I just had some banana bread so I can take more meds before I head back to bed.

Books - Rereading Eat Love Pray. I really need to write about some of the passages. I am now reading books by Diane Chamberlain. I think I will be reading quite a few of hers. She kind of reminds me of Maeve Binchy or LaVyrle Spencer. And I used to read all their books. I got hooked on those easy read - drama and romance filled books. And I am wanting easy reads right now. So I added several of her books to my to-read list. The first one I read is the first in a series of three. Makes it easy to decide what to read next. Anyway it was Keeper of the Light. The book was an interesting story with fairly good character development. So the second book Kiss River is on the nightstand now. And I actually have the 3rd ready to pick up at the library along with The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. I really enjoyed Lovely Bones so I hope I enjoy The Almost Moon too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Betty Crocker Banana Bread

As I wrote over on my cooking blog, I have tried many banana bread recipes but I always seem to come back to the Betty Crocker recipe because it is easy. Recipe and more photos over on the cooking blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

100 Things | Spoons

10. I don't have enough spoons more often then not because I suffer from migraines.

I know that isn't a shock to anyone that reads my blogs. I sometimes get very frustrated living this way - with pain. I am constantly counting spoons. I had never heard of the story used to describe how people that live with pain deal with daily life until a good friend of mine who also is a migraine sufferer pointed the story out to me. And it really does capture the daily ins-and-outs of living with pain.

I usually don't go a week without a migraine. And at times they are cycles where they last from 3 to 10 days. Every thing and every day with a migraine is measured. I wake up and gauge the level of pain...such as today is a 4...okay I might get away with graphic work or medium level of housework. If today was a 9 I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. And I would need everything quiet and black. Here is a good pain scale. Michael and I often use it when I have a migraine he will ask me what number I am at. Because I know it was very confusing for him when we were first together because some days I have a migraine I can do things but other days I am near tears so it is hard to understand why I can be active one day but not the next but still have a migraine both days. So using the pain scale helps him understand the level of activity I will be able to do that day. And understand that my pain might not be as bad today as it was last week.

Before I had the spoon theory I used to describe daily life like this...

The dishwasher needs to be unloaded and loaded. I have to measure all the factors that goes into the task and the environment that surrounds it. So the kitchen has a window over the sink that has quite a bit of light coming through it. It also has a skylight and the adjoining dining room has a window too. So the kitchen is fairly lite up, light hurts my migraine and can cause the pain level to spike up if I don't watch it closely. Next smells affect me so the fragrance in dishwasher detergent, some foods residue when rinsing off plates and other dishes might bother me, if I need to scour something a little more I use vinegar and baking powder (vinegar is not the most pleasant smell). Plus just that action of scrubbing harder can cause the blood to be pumping more (even just a little) and thus spike my migraine. When I unload and load the dishwasher I then wipe the sink and counters down the smell of what I clean it with can make my migraine worse. I am overly sensitive to smell with a migraine so if the trash has onion peels from the night before so I could be heading to the bathroom after unloading/loading dishwasher because the smell might make me sick to my stomach. Bending up and down over the dishwasher - the motion - can aggravate my head too - making it spike. I am sure there are other factors I am missing too that I have to add in.

So I wake in the morning with a migraine I might not be able to do it because of all the things that go into that simple daily task. If I am lucky I might get to do it in stages...unload the top rack and then walk away for a while. A pain level of 3 or 4 in my migraine, I might be able to unload and load all at once but usually I do have to rest after because I do cause it to spike a little and by resting then I can get it back to a 3 or 4. If I start to push too much I can send it over and make it the pain level spike to a 7 quickly and stay that way for the rest of the day.

The thing about this all....that if I didn't do things when it is a 3 or 4 I would NEVER accomplish anything. But I do have to say some days when there have been a string of them back to back, I wonder where is my quality of life? I feel angry that I don't get to do some things because of the migraine. I also feel guilt because I can't accomplish or keep up with some things because of it.

So there it is...I try to live each day the best I can and get the most I can accomplished and pray and hope that the next day I won't have a migraine so that I can do even more.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I love you Mom! Happy Mother's Day to you and all the other Moms!

(photo of my Mom and I shortly after I was born)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Gratitude Friday

5 Things I am thankful for....

1. Being able to have the windows open on a cool spring night
2. The smell of rain
3. The beautiful art we got last weekend that I hope to hang up and take pictures of this weekend
4. The possibility of going to the Art and Jazz Festival this weekend
5. Keeping busy with work

I recognize that I have much more to be thankful for in my life.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Took a Long Time to Get Back Here

Yesterday was really extremely busy. Michael had a video production so I was his assistant. We were outside for a lot of it and well I did put on sunscreen but of course it still seemed to get through and give me some red on my face. On our way home Michael asked me about a project I am working on and I started a sentence and then barely finished it - not very coherently though. So he asked me follow up question and I started the sentence and then just stopped. My brain had met its limits -- I couldn't make it work. I hate when that happens. I haven't been able to work even much today although I have quite a bit of it.

I am watching Elizabethtown (you know the soundtrack I was obsessed with for a while and probably will be again after watching the movie again). The road trip part of this movie is GREAT!

Why did it go from spring to summer weather...? It is just so hot in the house tonight. Maybe that is the sunburn....though? Last week we had one day in the 80's and the next we woke up to snow.

Well not much else I can manage....brain is blinking battery low....

I think I might go to bed to read.

(Subject line --- from a line in a song while watching the movie)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When The World Travels 200mph...

This has been a very busy week for us.

It started out with our major print project swinging into high gear. Then to get a very last minute video production request in a near by town ... all the while getting caught up on some of the other projects that require a bit of time to keep track of.

But today -- was a very very busy day. Filming for over 3 hours, getting wind blown, wind whipped, wind filleted.... Oh it was bad. Darby really helped out though which made it go a lot easier. I'm not sure what the attorney was thinking that my filming would be no more than 30 minutes.... It took us 30 minutes just to do a walk through of the place..

Thankfully I don't have any appointments scheduled in the next 48-72 hours, so hopefully we can recover, get some minor work done, and maybe rest a little this weekend. When I say rest, I'm probably meaning work in there -- since we have so much to do. It's a blessing that we're so busy, but I'd like a break every now and then.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Artful Weekend

We had a really good weekend. Artspace was having the Open Art Studio Tour. It is where you can tour local artists studios. See them work, see their work hanging in their studio and of course buy their beautiful art work. We usually go to two places because one place has several artists. It is a Bed and Breakfast with a gallery and it has out buildings with studios on the property for artists. The people there are lovely. We have worked with many of them too so know them fairly well. The other artist we go to is a good friend. But this time around she decided to go over and share some space at the Bed and Breakfast. So we were able to see 8 artists there. The feel of the place is just so serene but with this funky fun side too. This year they did a postcard project - decorating postcards. They then hung them up on a clothesline and then people could bid on them. The postcards were AMAZING. I told the organizer that if she does this next year I would be interested in participating.

We ended up buying a 2-tone pottery bowl from Damian Rice. And then a small acrylic piece by our friend. We don't have anything by her because well although her pieces are breath-taking we just can't afford her bigger pieces. She told us she was going to do some smaller pieces for those that can't afford the big pieces. Well she did and they were just as great as her large pieces. It is kind of a different style then she usually does but still amazing and of course we found one we really liked (okay several but picked one). Then the artist she was sharing her space with -- I just love to pieces. She has this energy that is contagious. Have you been around those people that are just up beat,excited and full of goodness/kindness -- and you start to feel everything they give off just by being around them....she is exactly like that. We got a piece of hers last year but I was looking for a piece of hers to give as a gift. And I found a little print but I really want to keep it! When we asked how much it was, she was very sweet and told us to take it. The other day she had been scolding me about not wanting to charge for something and then she was wanting to give us the print free. Michael has a bill for her for some website work for around the same price so he is going to rip it up.

We would have loved to buy from another artist there that we really enjoy. Her work really feels so earthy and warm to me. There was one piece I really fell in love with but we just couldn't afford it at this time. Her postcards she did were so beautiful too. One postcard by Dianna Fritzler was called Hanging Barbie Out to Dry. It was all about the the dislike of barbie because of the image she gives off to young girls about being perfect. But the title and the just look of the piece -- Michael LOVED. After he asked her about it and she explained why she did the piece -- he loved it even more.

There was also another little pottery wall hanging that was done in this technique that I can't remember the name for but you pull it from the kiln while it is on fire. And stuff it in a metal garbage can with lots of newspaper, put the lid on and the fire from the kiln sets the paper on fire burning around the piece. It creates this really interesting affect with the glaze. Michael really like one of those so when we went back on Sunday (to discuss something with Dianna about a project we are doing for her), I urged Michael to stop and see if it was still there. And it was so he picked that up too!

I hope to take pictures of everything soon. I really love filling our house with art.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for....
1. Seedless red grapes...they taste so refreshing and sweet
2. Burts Bee lip lips have been very chapped lately and it has helped so much!
3. Hitting really good sale at this day and age when everything seems to cost so much - it was great to find some really good sales and stock up and save 50%
4. the Earth Children series....I read the first 4 books long ago and have been rereading those so that I can move on the the 5th book. I forgot how much I enjoyed that series the first time around.
5. Quality time with Michael...although we have been pretty busy with work we have managed to get in quite a lot of quality time this week. Our Sunday morning brunch tradition (making brunch together while singing to the Across the Universe soundtrack), shopping (including going to my favorite store - TARGET!), watching a softball game while enjoying cool refreshing drinks, rewatching our favorite tv show on DVD (West Wing) together, dinner out last night and tomorrow we are enjoying an art event going on where you can tour artist's studios.

I recognize that I have much more to be thankful for in my life.