Friday, December 7, 2012

Small Business Christmas

I have worked for two small businesses in the last seven years. Am currently working for one of those two right now. It's a family owned flower shop that has been in Pittsburgh for over 70 years. The previous one was a flower shop that had been in operation for over 90 years.

 It's gone now.

Due to various reasons he had to close. And it was heart-breaking to know that we worked hard for so long and yet it all had to end.

With the economy the way it is right now and everyone clamoring over each other in big box stores for the greatest deals on the anything and everything they can find, we the little guys in small businesses around the country suffer greatly.

We don't begrudge people trying to find a bargain when times are tough. But remember, times are tough for all of us and are made more so when people forget to help us out by buying locally or from small shops rather than heading to the big stores.

I buy at big box stores too for many things as there aren't always available from small businesses such as  household goods and cleaning supplies. But I do try and buy from local bookstores, specialty food shops and even my yarn when I can afford it.

But I ask that when you do have the money, shop at your local businesses. From your independent booksellers who are usually much more helpful in finding that book you want or need because they are immersed in their love of books, or your local butcher who will do anything you need to fill your orders, to your local florist who will happily make that awesome bouquet for your special someone.

These are your neighbors who make it a point to know everything they can about what they love and want to share with you. And they all need your help.

Make it a point this Christmas to, at some time, buy something from a neighbor.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The New Gena Showalter Series!!!

I have been anticipating this new series by Gena Showalter for some time.

The Last Kiss Goodnight is due out Dec. 26th. Consider it a late Christmas gift to yourself by picking it up when it comes out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

All In Knots

It's been a while. Since the Read-A-Thon (thanks again to those who donated!), I have been neck deep in my knitting.

Have made a couple pairs of fingerless gloves, 2 baby hoodies, a hat for myself, a pair of socks and am working on 2 scarves.

I started a photoblog on Tumblr. Here's the link. Restless Hands and Ceaseless Words

I finally finished the second Patrick Rothfuss books. I loved it and was totally SHOCKED by the last three pages. I can't wait for the final book.

Am currently reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's her first book and so far so good.

Almost time to go.

Have a good one.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I would like to extend a HUGE Thank You to those who have donated and pledged to donate based on how many hours I read in Eljay's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon. You are very special people!

And those people are:

  • Chef Chuck Kerber
  • Eleanor Smail
  • Elizabeth Cavazos
  • Bryan Szafranski
  • Cristina Escamilla
  • Celia Escamilla

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Reader's Dream - 24 Hour Read-A-Thon

As many of you know, I am a voracious reader. I can remember learning to read in my Montessori school back in Texas when I was 4 years old in pre-kinder. My teacher was Delfina and she was great woman. I loved the method they used to teach us to read and it obviously worked.

When I hear about children and adults who cannot read for any reason, be it lack of education, Dyslexia that was never discovered or even being told they didn't need to learn because they are dumb or too handicapped to need to know how to read, hurts me to my core. In the United States today, if anything should be a fundamental right, it should be the ability to read so anyone can stay as informed as possible without having to rely on others to hopefully inform your correctly.

 The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council offers wonderful services for those in need from Basic Skills (reading, writing and math) to GED Prep to ESL (English as a Second Language) and others. As you have seen in the news the state of the education system is on the decline and there are so many schools that no longer have libraries. People need help.

A few weeks ago, I registered to read in Eljay's Used Books 24 Hour Read-A-Thon to raise money for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

So here I am hoping and praying that YOU will be an awesome person and help me raise money for them.

Like most marathon events, I would love it if you could pledge a certain amount of money for every hour I read. I am shooting for all 24 hours, but the event organizers say it has only been done by around 6 people in the few years it has been done. It doesn't have to be much, even .50 cents an hour would add up to $6.00 if I make it to the full 24 hour mark.

Or if you would like to donate just a straight amount that is great too!!

 There are the guidelines listed for us readers:
"Readers can start getting pledges as soon as they have turned in their registration packet. Pledges can be given in a per-hour format (Bob might offer you $5 for as many hours as you can read) or in a flat rate (Bob might offer you $35 for reading in the event) form. Pledge money must be turned in to Eljay’s books by October 31st.  Pledge money can be collected in cash (preferred) or in a check made out to Eljay’s Books with the words GPLC Read-A-Thon Donation on the check memo line."

I know this seems a little old school, but it's a small event in its infancy. More sophisticated methods of donation take time. If you wish to contact Eljay's Used Books about a different payment method, their phone number is 412-344-7444. 

I will be accepting pledges from now thru Friday, October 12th. If you wish to pledge, feel free to leave a message in the comments section with your Pledge Per Hour amount and I will start a separate post recognizing the awesomeness of your pledges and donations. If you wish to donate or wish to keep your pledge anonymous, you can EMAIL ME your Pledge Per Hour amount or donation amount and information at brooksiefan44 at gmail dot com

From October 15 - October 27, I will be be collecting your donations so I can turn them in by October 31st. 

As I collect, I will keep everyone updated on my collection total. 

I really hope you will find it in your hearts to help me make this 24 Read-A-Thon a success for this great organization and get people reading and living a great life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sugar Cookies

Over the years I have been making the same sugar cookies. Everyone asks me why their cookies never come out the same.

It's possible the recipe is different as I am sure there are about a zillion variations of sugar cookie recipe out there.

I got mine from my mother and this morning I asked her I could share it since, to me, it's her recipe. Turns out she found it years ago in her search for a good recipe. She thinks it may have been a Wilton recipe, but she really isn't sure anymore.

So I shall share it with everyone here. But before I do, a few tips to get the BEST cookies out of this recipe.


- Use a high quality sugar like Domino (my fave white sugar for baking). The grain is much smaller and dissolves away much better so your cookies will be less grainy.

- Use the freshest flour you have. If you can't remember when you used it last, much less bought it, throw it out, it may have bugs. EEK!

- Always use fresh eggs. And the size in the recipe does matter. Always follow what the recipe says.

- If you have imitation Vanilla extract, throw it away and invest (and it is a good investment) in Real Vanilla Extract. Should be at least 30% alcohol. You will be dazzled in the difference. Use it in everything from cookies, cake batter, French toast, pancakes. Even kneed it into store bought cookie dough and add to box cake mix for homemade taste.

- Baking Powder DOES lose its abilities after a while, so use the flour rule for baking powder and baking soda.

- When rolling out any kind of dough for using cookie cutters, best practice is to roll out initial dough, cut cookies and set scrap dough aside until you're done cutting through it all. Then kneed all scraps back together and re-roll. This will keep the addition of more flour to the dough to a minimum and prevent it from becoming dry too quickly. If the cookies are for gifts and you don't want layers to bubble, only re-mix and re-roll twice. Or do what I do, keep all the bubble cookies for myself.

- And finally, use parchment paper on your cookie sheets, it will keep the cookies evenly browned and really saves on cleaning at the end. It is wonder paper!

Finally!!!! The recipe!

No-Chill Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp and really soft
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp and slightly beaten just before use
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of Salt

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add beaten egg and vanilla until completely incorporated.

In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Add flour mixture to the butter mixture one cup at a time until incorporated. Dough should be soft and should not stick to the bowl or your hands. If it does, add more flour a little at a time.

Since this a no chill dough, roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface to desired thickness. I find something near 1/4 inch is a nice thickness for a not too crisp cookie.

Cut out cookies with desired cookie cutter and place them on your ungreased cookie sheets. Remember, parchment paper keeps cleaning to a minimum.

Bake 6 to 10 minutes depending on thickness and overall size of the cookie. You're looking for a pale cookies with a browned bottom.

When done baking, cool on sheet for a few minutes to make sure they set, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.

These are completed and baked cookies I made a few weeks ago for my husband's work.

These are the same cookies after I have iced them as daisies.

I used Martha Stewart's Royal Icing recipe. It makes a lot of icing. If you plan on completely covering the cookies make it all. If only for line work like my daisies, I recommend cutting it in half. Don't add all the powdered sugar at once, do it slowly until you get the desired thickness of icing for the decorating work you want to do.

I hope you make these cookies, that the come out great and that you enjoy them above all else!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chuck Wendig: Flash Fiction Challenge

The three subjects I had for this challenge were Dystopian, Surgery and Divorce.

Short stories are not my forte, so this was an interesting exercise.


"So are you going to have it done?" It was a question Rodfree had been asked so many times in the last two intervals, he felt like he was beginning to develop a complex. It really wasn't that bad was it? He turned to stare at his reflection in the polished steel on the machine at his station.

It wasn't that he was afraid of having surgery. He'd had so many in his life, he knew the ins and outs of them. It was who would have to perform it.

"ECH3579 resume your designated task immediately." The female voice on the other end of the intercom called out.

Sighing in frustration, Rodfree took a sheet of alumantium and placed it in the press and started the complicated process of flipping switches and pushing levers that would result in the production of the standard cup all the people of Glorfina drank from. From his first diem on the job he thought the process of making cups seemed entirely too complicated. It was a simple molded piece of alumantium, not something complex like a clock or the machine that made the damned thing.

Of course it was questions and thoughts like those that got him in his current situation. No sooner had he finished with the same cup did the voice come over the intercom again.

"ECH3579 report to supervisor's room three zero zero zero immediately."

Slouching in fear, Rodfree removed the newly created cup and added it to the completed stacks and locked his machine. As he walked down the long assembly room floor, he noticed everyone glance at him as he passed. Some shook their heads, others gave a reluctant smile.

Up the stairs he climbed to the Supervisory Hall. It was solid white from floor to walls to ceiling. For some reason, it unnerved him. He knew exactly which room was 3000. He had been to it enough times in the six presects he had been an ECH. Six presects since his divorce. He shuddered at the thought.

When he reached the door, it slid open before he could even knock.

"Enter ECH3579."

Taking a deep breath, Rodfree stepped into the room to find his supervisor, Idrina, seated at her pristine desk. The room matched the hall with the same solid white. Even her uniform was a blinding white.

Taking the customary submissive position to a superior, he dropped to his knees with his chin to his chest and hands clasped behind his back. "You beckoned me Mistress Idrina." It still galled him to be in such a position.

During his ten spans of marriage to Mistress Mitra Dall, he had been on the other side of the fence when it came to the caste system of Glorfina. He had been bred, raised and enhanced to serve his Mistress. But now, he was just another ECH, like rest of the men on the assembly room floor.

Rising from her chair, Idrina rounded the desk to stand before him. "You seem to have developed an inability to perform the task designated for you. Why is that ECH3579?" Her voice was smooth as silk and hard as steel at the same time.

Keeping his voice low, like a proper ECH, Rodfree answered her. "My apologies Mistress. My current deformity has kept me preoccupied. I promise it won't happen again."

Idrina curled her lip in disgust. It galled her to look at him, to even have him in her section, let alone her office. "Yes, your deformity has become quite the distraction for the other ECHs in this section. To prevent further disruptions, I am sending you for corrective surgery immediately."

Rodfree's head popped up against his better judgement. "Mistress?"

A vicious slap sailed across his face."Don't you dare think to look up at me again."

Quickly dropping his head back to his chest as his eyes watered and his cheek burned from the slap, he mumbled an apology. "My humblest apologies Mistress Idrina."

Rounding her desk, Idrina tapped the intercom to connect to the Infirmary. "Notify Dr. Dall ECH3579 will be reporting for reconstructive surgery immediately. He will be arriving shortly."

"Right away Mistress Idrina." The male voice on the other end answered.

So this is it, Rodfree thought. Time to see her again. "I'll take my leave now, Mistress."

"Do so and do not delay in reporting to the Infirmary." Tapping another button, the door opened as Rodfree rose to leave.

Afraid of angering Mistress Idrina any further, Rodfree ran from the Supervisory Hall and arrived in record time. He approached the main desk and signed in.

"ECH3579 report to pre-op room 554." The nurse said as she entered him into the computer.

Walking down the hall the nurse had pointed to, he found the room and Dr. Dall waiting for him.

Without looking up, she pointed to the gurney. "ECH please lay down on the bed."

As he laid down, Rodfree suddenly felt very nervous. All his previous surgeries had never started like this. "Dr. Dall, may I ask a question?"

Mitra looked up from the chart in her hand to look into her ex-husband's eyes. She could hardly believe the differences in his appearance, especially the deformity she was now going to repair. "Go ahead ECH."

It was a little stab in his heart to hear her call him ECH as if she didn't recognize him. "Will there be other staff assisting in the procedure?"

"No, it will not be necessary. This will be a quick procedure." Slipping on a pair of gloves, she took a syringe from a prepares tray and prepared it. "Lay back and close your eyes. As I give you the injection, start to count backwards from twenty."

Rodfree did what he was told and waited for the needle prick. A cold swab in the crook of his arm prepared him. The quick sting of the needle started his countdown. "Twenty, nineteen, eighteen..." By fifteen, his words began to slur, by eight a whisper. At three, he was gone.

Mitra sighed as she threw the syringe into the needle receptacle. Touching the intercom keypad, she dialed Idrina's office.

"This is Mistress Idrina."

"I'm afraid the procedure was too difficult for your ECH to survive. He is gone. I'm afraid this is all too common an occurrence with deformities such as his. Once the structures of the nose have been broken, it is very difficult to repair them to their original state." Mitra pushed another series of buttons on the wall above the gurney.

"Thank you for the update Dr. Dall."

"No problem. I will notify supply that you require. New ECH to perform 3579's tasks."

"Thank you again."

Mitra signed off as she watched the gurney and Rodfree's body descend into the floor leading to the male waste receptacle. "Such a shame, that deformity. You could have been a good husband if someone had prevented it."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

MS and Kids Cancer Suck!

I hope that got your attention!

An awesome Pittsburgh gal named Kat has a bug up her butt. And that bug is the need to kick childhood cancer's and MS's ass!

But she needs your help!

During the month of October, any donation YOU make to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital or the Western PA MS Society and take a screen shot and Tweet it to her (@burghbelle on Twitter), you will be entered for what she has described as a SCARY AWESOME PRIZE!!!!

Check out her blog Vintage Saturday for more information!

So help Kat kick Cancer and MS's ass this October!

Plus you should just follow her on Twitter cause she is crazy fun!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blackbirds Redux

Did I mention that Blackbirds is dark, very dark, may be scary or disturbing for some readers....huh, I guess I didn't before. Well I've said it now. It's dark...and possibly disturbing.

Thirteen and Blackbirds and Stuff

 It's been a while since I have been here. Life has kept me busy. But never busy enough to keep me from reading.

My last two reads have been in the last two weeks. I know slow for me. But like I said, been busy.

Thirteen First was Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong. This is the final book in her Otherworld series that has been gracing our bookshelves for around ten years.

My husband originally got me hooked into this series. While everyone was writing about vampires, Kelley Armstrong started with werewolves. Elena and Clay's tumultuous relationship was the stuff of reality, well as real as werewolves can be. There wasn't the pretty shine of your typical pretty blonde girl falls for wolf  and they live happily ever after.

Despite being her first book, she gave her characters a tremendous back story that you just wanted to know more about, hence reading on and anxiously waiting  for the next book.

As she added to her world with Paige, Lucas and Savannah and Adam, you just became more consumed with the story, the world and their outcomes. These are characters that you can relate to despite you not having the spiffy powers and abilities that they do.

I didn't know what to expect when I finally cracked open Thirteen. I knew when the book was coming out and I wanted it back. My husband surprised me by getting it for me. But I didn't read it immediately. I finished a different series and dallied around it. It's not like reading a trilogy or a small series. This was the culmination of a ten years invested into an entire world of characters. What is she doing to do to them? Kill them all? Give us a happily ever after ending? I didn't want either of those options.

Well I started it and loved that Kelley immediately picked up where the previous book had left off and just pulled you back into the rush of the story. Savannah Levine (Nast) was a small character so long ago in Stolen that you really didn't give much thought to the character. She was a device for Paige and Lucas at some points, but you still liked her. Cute kid with this world of fighting Cabals and vampires and werewolves around her. This final book helps Savannah give so many the closure they need as so many of their lives come back together to hopefully keep their world falling apart at the hands of greed, stupidity, ignorance and misplaced trust.

I don't like to give away plot in my reviews of books, so I will not go into the story for those who haven't read Thirteen or the Otherworld series yet. But I will say this. You won't be disappointed with the finale of this great series. Kelley Armstrong did a tremendous job with this series and I can't wait to see where she takes us next with whatever project she moves to.

Onto the book I just finished a little bit ago, and by a little bit, I mean a few minutes before I began typing this out.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig came to my attention via Twitter thanks to Lilith Saintcrow. If you are on Twitter, following @ChuckWendig is a MUST. His humor and no-nonsense views keep the days from getting a little too serious. And if you are an aspiring writer or artist, he keeps it real in what he says to keep you motivated.

In his shameless tweets of self-promotion, (and there is nothing wrong with that, man's gotta make a living so get off his and my back) he has been pushing his newest book Mockingbird which is due out August 28th (yay!). Intrigued, I naturally went to his very awesome website (click on his name above to see it, duh!) to see what all the fuss was about.

For some reason I always let the covers of books influence my decision in reading a book. Chuck has some pretty cool covers for Blackbirds and Mockingbird so I clicked on the appropriate link and read on. Then I went to because that is where I always go, and read some of the reviews, which I always take with a block of salt because of those self-serving assholes that like to sometimes rip people to pieces for no good reason. And I read the Overview. I liked what I saw and finally got my ass down to the store to buy it.

I would have ordered it online, but I am a minion of instant gratification and the idea of WAITING for the damn mail to come in with my book doesn't always sit well with me.

When I finally started reading it, I was happy. All of Chuck Wendig's humor shines through. If you were ever looking for the most off the wall and crude metaphors, READ THIS BOOK. He has forever changed the way I will view traffic.

His protagonist, Miriam Black, poor girl. And to me she is a girl, despite being twenty-two, a raging smoker and alcoholic and her ability to view people future deaths. So many deaths she has seen and actually witnessed. It really is a wonder she survived the past eight years of her life. But that just goes to show you the strength of the human spirit despite all the crap and shit we deal with. And Louis, oh Louis, was it wrong place, wrong time or fate. Is his life better or worse now that he is with Miriam.

Read the book, you decide. And don't forget that Mockingbird will be out in just ten days.

Next book to read...The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow. New series, new characters. Bannon and Clare. I can't wait.

And lastly. Despite working with my hands all day playing with frilly flowers and cutting and stabbing myself lately (what's a florist to do). When I get home, my hands still feel like they should doing something.  That led me back to my embroidery. Is it true that idle hands are the Devil's playground? Who knows. I could or should have been busy at the keyboard doing more writing, but my hands didn't want that. They wanted that needle and thread.

And the fruits of my labor? Pots and pans. Weird I know. But hey, even kitchens need a little attention. I haven't decided if I am going to keep this for me, give it away or sell it. If someone likes it and wants it, post a comment or tweet me or not. Whatever.

Go do something productive like sew or read a damn book!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The little things...

It has been 9 years since my husband got his last hearing aid. We had to pay for it completely out of pocket. I swear they are a small fortune, but in reality for the amount of use you get, the price isn't so bad.

Today he got 2. This is the first time he has worn 2 and it's like a whole new world. There are sounds that he has never heard and others that sound so much clearer and cleaner.

So now there are sounds that we normally take for granted. From the sound of the highway as you drive over it. The crunch if gravel as you walk across it. The noise of a busy restaurant as you attempt to eat dinner. Even silly little unconscious actions we all have like tapping your fingernails on a tabletop to the rustle of the pages in a book.

While I may not be deaf or hard of hearing, I have incredibly poor eye sight without my glasses. I know some would say that it can't be compared, but I feel it can. In the middle of the night if you have to get up to get a glass of water or go to the bathroom, you just get up and go. I HAVE to put on my glasses before I do anything so I can see where I am going, not step on a dog or cat, trip on anything or see that the seat is down on the commode. :)

May seem silly to some, but that is how visually impaired I am. At night I have accidentally knocked my glasses from my nightstand and have to have my husband find them because I can't even see them to find them.

I am just glad glasses don't cost anything near what his hearing aids cost.

Last year we both lost our jobs. Me to closure and him to reduction of staff due to lack of funding. Most insurance companies do not offer coverage for hearing exams and hardware because they consider most hearing loss a pre-existing condition. At the end of February, he got a new job through a Temp agency. The normal wait period for them to hire on permanently is six months. He was hired after 3. And insurance was active soon after. God Bless his new employer because they cover all hearing exams and hardware.

Perhaps he was destined to have this job even it pays less. He has less stress, better hours and new hearing aids. And for all of that I am incredibly grateful.

Things happen in life for a reason. Lots of times the seem insurmountable and hurt so much. But if you press on, you might be surprised at what you find at the other end and what you learned along the way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I think my mind has been trying to escape.

Lately I have noticed that lately I have been thinking a lot more about Texas and the people there. My family and friends. I don't know if it was because of my birthday that was this past Sunday or hormones or something, but I have had a lot on my mind lately.

My mother is always telling me to go and visit down there, since she is always coming up here. But financially it hasn't been possible for quite a few years. Especially now since we both started new jobs in the last 6 months. We are trying to keep up with bills and had tried to get a home equity loan to help pay for home improvements that have been needed, but unfortunately in this economy we weren't approved so, once again, home repairs have to wait.

It just makes me anxious sometimes. I feel so alone and confused at times. I know I'm not, but I know I close myself off to keep people from knowing. Everyone else has their own problems so I feel like why should I bother them with my own. Believe me most of the time I subscribe to my grandfather's saying "If you can fix it, fix it. If you can't don't worry about." But sometimes it just all bogs down on me and I becomes overcome with sad thoughts and emotions.

One of the main feelings is loneliness and a longing for the familiar. Despite having been living here for 10 years, there are so many times where I still feel like outsider, the outcast, separate from everyone else. I know sometimes I may seem arrogant or like a know it all, but instead of people taking the time to see through that and finding that I am actually pretty funny and incredibly loyal and helpful and willing to do just about anything for them, they just blow me off and ignore me.

Perhaps I am just too different for Pittsburgh, too resistant to the natural order of things here. Perhaps my personality is too strong. I don't know what it is. I know I don't agree with lots of things here. I'm not a Steeler or a Pirate fan. But hey, I am a HUGE Penguins fan. Where I come from, hockey is not even thought about, so hey, I whole-heartedly embraced that. And I have seen this city change soooo much in the 10 years I have lived here. But I don't know what it is.

I think I am starting to ramble.

Anyway, to get away from all these thoughts running through my head, I have been reading so much. Especially since I have found the Dark Hunter series by Sherilynn Kenyon. It's a huge series that I have become obsessed with reading all of.

It's a great series in the paranormal romance genre. Mixing Greek mythology with vampires and demons. Fun and sexy. It has obviously kept my attention all this time. Kenyon really has a way of grabbing your attention and holding it and making you care so much about her characters. And with so many books in the series, they almost become your friends who you cheer and cry for. I highly recommend it.

Sometimes we all need to escape all the things we worry about...perhaps this is just my way.

Book List

So I know a while ago I promised a list of the most recent books I had read since I had kind of gone crazy reading.

Here it is for everything read from May to now:
(Date is when I finished it)
May 1 - Fifth Shades of Grey - E. L. James
May 3 - The Winning Hand - Nora Roberts
May 4 - The Perfect Neighbor - Nora Roberts
May 8 - The Last Boyfriend - Nora Roberts
May 17 - Night Pleasure - Sherilynn Kenyon
May 19 - Night Embrace - Sherilyn Kenyon
May 21 - Fantasy Lover - Sherilynn Kenyon
May 23 - Dance With The Devil - Sherilynn Kenyon
May 26 - Fifty Shades Darker - E. L. James
May 28 - Fifth Shades Freed - E. L. James
May 29 - Kiss of the Night - Sherilynn Kenyon
May 30 - Seize the Night - Sherilynn Kenyon
May 31 - Sins of the Night - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 3 - Captivated - Nora Roberts
June 5 - Entranced - Nora Roberts
June 5 - Charmed - Nora Roberts
June 9 - Born of Silence - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 11 - Night Play - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 12 - Unleash the Night - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 13 - Dark Side of the Moon - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 15 - The Dream-Hunter - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 18 - Devil May Cry - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 19 - Upon The Midnight Clear - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 20 - Dream Chaser - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 23 - Acheron - Sherilynn Kenyon
June 24 - Bared to You - Sylvia Day
June 26 - One Silent Night - Sherilynn Kenyon

I know, a lot of books in a short amount of time...perhaps I have a problem....perhaps not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Lately I have been reading about the new Taco scene in Pittsburgh. And of course being Hispanic and having grown up eating everything Tex-Mex and Mexican, I begin to investigate.

I have been pretty disappointed. There is this movement to remake Mexican food. I hate it. What is wrong with traditional food? Most everything I find reminds me of California.

Plus it's almost impossible to find good Mexican Pan de Dulce (sweet bread). And no Pan de Dulce is not a specific pastry, it's any type of sweet pastry or bread found in a Mexican Bakery.

One of my favorite things is called a mollete ( moh-yeh-teh). Or some call it a concha because the pattern in the baked on frosting looks like the tip of a sea shell.

So I got it in my crazy brain to make some. I found what looked like a pretty reliable recipe online. Tonight I tried it. The frosting is dead-on, but the bread, while good, is no match to the breads from where I'm from.

There are the results: post and pre bake. (stupid program insists on publishing them in this order)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Type, type, typing

So the writing bug has struck me again, hard. There are days when all I want to do is read and other days where all I want to do is write. It's a vicious cycle.

And I may have been wrong about my not reading a crap load of books again this month. It's the 5th and I have already read three. Even with my writing, I am still reading a lot.

There have been a few word blocks in my way, but right now, they just want to all tumble out to the point that my fingers are having a hard time keeping up. I get the words out on the screen, but the letters in them are all jumbled up. Like my brain is working fine, but my fingers have become dyslexic.

But I have been asked to give up the laptop for now. So I will go find a new book to read since I finished the last one on the way home from work.


Friday, June 1, 2012


I think my reading became an obsession during the month of May. With all that was going on, including a floral holiday (Mother's Day), Memorial Day and doing the normal day today stuffs, I managed to read 13 books and start another. Towards the end, I was reading 1 a day. And I managed to go to work, do work, get home, make dinner, play with the animals AND sleep.

This is a first for me in terms of the number of books. I am usually good for 4-6 a month. But this was crazy. I don't know if I will ever do that again.

Don't worry, I won't be extolling on them. Too many, and I don't know that I want to. I will, however, post a list of them.

My birthday is coming up this month. Yay me! I saw something on Facebook today that I want. It's pricey, but very cool!

Wigle Whiskey has a home aging kit for their white wheat whiskey. Hehehe, try saying that 3 times fast. There is a small and large kit. The small comes with a liter of white wheat whiskey (jeez, it's even hard to type fast), a small cask/barrel and a snifter for it. I know some people would be think that is just silly. But hey, I like it, I want it, so =P.

Anyway, this feels like its going to be a long weekend. I don't know why, but I just have that feeling.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No More Holidays...For Now

At last, the no holiday season has started for the floral community. Mother's Day was the last one until Thanksgiving, so now we can relax. It's been a crazy busy last couple of weeks with Administrative Professionals Day and then Mother's Day.

But on the bright side, being busy as helped me lose more weight. So as of yesterday I have officially lost 5% of original body weight. Yippee!! Of course though, none of my pants fit right. I feel like a schlub because they are all baggy and saggy and I constantly have to pull them up. None of my belts fit anymore either. Oh well, it comes with the territory. Just have to suck it up and wait til they are falling off before I buy more pants.

It's been a while since I posted about what I have read. I believe I have read 4 more books since The Taker. And what is sad is that I can't remember exactly which they are right now. Hahaha. I will post a list of them later. Am too lazy to review them right now.

We are finally getting more shelves installed in my store today. I was starting to get claustrophobic in here with all the extras we are starting to carry. It will be so nice to not have boxes EVERYWHERE. The place won't look so haphazard.

This weekend is my husband's birthday. He hasn't exactly made a concrete plan as to what he wants to do. He has plans upon plans. But it's his day so, we will do what he wants.

I guess I should get back to work....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Last night we went out and saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in a local theater that shows old movies.

It was so much fun. I never got to see it in a theater because I was 1 when it came out, but have seen it MANY, MANY times on tape, yes tape and DVD. It was like reliving my childhood, watching Harrison Ford swinging from his whip and taking out the evil Nazis.

Right before a lot of memorable scenes I would say the lines to myself or pantomime something from a scene right before it happened. My husband kept looking at me like I was a dork. Well I am sorry, I am.

I love that the Hollywood Theater in Dormont shows all these old movies. So many I never got to see because I either wasn't born or was to little.

My family made me and my cousins movie whores for lack of a better term. We tried to go to as many first showings first day as possible. And this was long before midnight premiers. I can remember being the 1st and 2nd in line to see Mission Impossible, standing in line from 7 am for 3 hours. Plus because we were within the first 100, we got to see it for free and won prizes.

Ah...those were the days. Too bad we have to work now and can't really do midnight premiers. Oh well, whatcha gonna do.

 I finished another book. The Taker by Alma Katsu. First in a trilogy, it is a unique take on immortality. Lanore McIlvrae grew up in a small village in Maine during the 1790s and is enamored with the son of the village's creator, Jonathan St. Andrew. He is the playboy of the village, yet she follows him like a longing, love sick puppy.

After years of being his friend and seeing him with all the other single AND married women of the village, like I said playboy, she finally sleeps with him, only to end up pregnant. Obviously for this time period this is quite the scandal her family wishes to keep quiet, so they send her away to Boston to a convent to have the child and give it away.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men never go exactly as planned.. Lanny, as she is affectionately called by Jonathan, doesn't go to the convent to which her parents wish her to go and winds up being picked up by the consorts of the evil Adair.

The story follows Lanny's recollection of her life to a present day ER doctor back in the now small town of St. Andrew, Luke Findley who is supposed to be checking her for wounds, after the local PD find her walking down a deserted road alone, covered in blood she claims to be that of Jonathan.

The story is sad and heart-wrenching at times, but somehow you just want to know what is going to happen next to Lanny, Jonathan and Luke. It was a pretty good read. The second installment of the series, The Reckoning, comes out June 19th.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Making Up For Lost Time

Since our last visit I guess I made up for lost time in my reading.

I have read three books since last Wednesday. No, I wasn't speed reading. Just my normal pace. They were really good!

Ok, so maybe the last two I did kind of zoom through. It took me a day and a half to read the 2nd and the 3rd I read directly after I finished the previous and was done at 9 last night. When I was done I felt like my brain was broken.

First, in chronological order of reading was Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh.

This is the second book in her Guild Hunter's series. For me it was the last one to read because I couldn't find it when I bought all the other books. 

The premise of the series is Angels are among us, but not as we normally think of them. The world is ruled over by 10 Archangels called the Cadre of Ten. Their subordinates, regular angels keep things going in day to day life, but what is so different is that angels can create...wait for it....VAMPIRES.

After blood tests, if the angels find you to be compatible with their toxin that creates vampires, you are allowed to be Made, but at a price. You must live as servants for a 50 year contract to the Angel that governs your area. If you live in NYC, you are under the Archangel of New York, Rafael.

The Hunters Guild is a world wide organization that was created to keep vampires in check. If one that is still under contract or has served his time and now lives among everyone else goes berserk bloodlust or is on the run from their sire, Guild  Hunters track them down and bring them back. Like supernatural bounty hunters. 

The first books have followed Elena Deveraux, Guild Hunter who is what they call Hunter Born, able to scent out vampires based on their own unique smell. 

In the first book, Angel's Blood, Elena helps Rafael, the Archangel of New York, track a rogue Angel....I won't spoil the rest of it for you.

In Archangel's Kiss, Elena is now Rafael's lover and mate. After surviving their last adventure, they are summoned by the Archangel Lijuan to the Forbidden City, Bejing, to meet her new creations....not Vampires.

This series was overall a great, great fast, fun read. I definitely recommend it for those who like to read in the vein of the Paranormal Romance genre. Lots of action and romance and intrigue.

On to the next two books I read. I say both because they are Books 1 and 2 in the YA Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong.

 The Gathering is book one. Follow Maya Delaney as she discovers the hidden truth about herself and her friends as they grow up in a tiny town on Victoria Island, British Columbia. Their little hamlet of Salmon Creek was created and is basically run by the St. Cloud Corporation.  (If you have read the Women of the Otherworld series, then it should ring a bell). A small drug research facility is the heart of Salmon Creek and all its residents are tied to the company in one way or another, with the exception of Maya's dad, the park ranger for the area....or so she thought.

After finding out the horrible truth of being abandoned by her birth mother, while she kept her twin brother, and being genetically engineered in a lab, Maya and her friends find themselves trapped by a forest fire and find their escape hampered by unknown gun toting assailants.

I loved it, and I am sooo glad I had The Calling with me when I finished it yesterday, because the first book ends so abruptly leaving you going...wait a minute...WHAT'S HAPPENED TO THE KIDS????

The Calling literally picks up right where The Gathering left off. After boarding a helicopter provided by the St. Cloud Corporation, the kids are whisked away to the southern end of the island to Victoria, BC. Or are they....

I hate to give any more of the second book away because there is so much involved in it. And I HATE that the third book isn't out yet. Kelley doesn't even offer a hint on her site. So I just have to be patient about it. HAHAHAHA, me patient.

Now this YA trilogy as well as the YA Darkest Powers Trilogy all tie into her Women of the Otherworld world (I hate to sound redundant, but don't know how else to word it.). You don't HAVE to read the other Women series, because it is really big, but I do STRONGLY recommend you do because it is a lot of fun to read. 

As you can see I love to read...a lot. I will have to take some pictures of all (well most) the books we have. We have stacks of them everywhere. If you have read the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler (one of my favorite of all time authors), imagine St. Julien Perlmutter's home with all the books stacked everywhere. Well that is what my house feels like most of the time. As soon as we buy books, and we don't just buy a few books, we buy LOTS of them, we set them down in stacks and as soon as we are done reading one, we wind up just setting the one we finished down and pick up the next.

Oh well, whatcha gonna another!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Name of the Wind"

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I have a book problem. Well my husband and I have a book problem. We read A LOT! It really does boggle the mind the amount of books we have in our house. We aren't really library people. We did that for a while, but there is just something about knowing you own the book, can take as long or as little time to read it as possible and know that when you want to read it again, it will always be there.

In October of 2011 I started what I call my Book Journal. I write down the date I finished reading the book, title and author just to keep track of what I am reading. I have always been curious as to how many books I read (or reread) in a year. So this is my attempt at keeping track of that. So far I have been diligent in keep track. I have found that on average I can ready 4-5 books a month. My husband the speed reader does about 8-10 a month. And no we don't just read, we have other hobbies and do other activities and we both have second jobs. Scary I know.

The book I finished yesterday really slowed me down this month. Especially since I started reading it last month. But what do you expect when it is 722 pages long and the print was miniscule.


I don't quite know how to introduce this book. I guess I can start by how I came upon it. I was trolling Barnes and Noble online searching through the sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal sections and ended up on a page that showed most purchased in those genres. I am always intrigued by covers and titles when it comes to finding new authors. This one caught my eye, so I decided to read the synopsis.

Let me just say I am SO glad I did. Yes I capped, emboldened and underlined that. My next trip to Barnes and Noble had me searching high and low for this book and luckily they had it in stock. I was daunted not so much by the amount of pages, but by the tiny print.

I really hate tiny print in paper backs. When you get to the middle of the books, it becomes a struggle to read those words near the binding and half the time you end up cracking the binding which I HATE.

But back to the book. Aside from what the synopsis told me, I really didn't know what to expect. I am not traditionally a fan of fantasy books. You will never catch me reading Tolken (yes be shocked). But from the beginning Rothfuss pulled me in. The story of Kvothe (pronounced Quothe) from his beginnings as a trouper, traveling with his family from village to town to city putting on plays and performing music to his "magic" education at the University at such a young age were so engrossing that I would find myself lost in his world in the Commonwealth. When I would have to put the book down to do work or go to bed I always felt like I should read on just a little bit more.

I don't know how to accurately describe the book without giving away too much of the plot. But suffice it to say I highly recommend you read this book. And I have to say that with in 10 minutes of finishing it, I was online ordering the second book in the trilogy since I haven't been able to find it in stores. I hope to have it by the end of the week.

Go get lost with Kvothe as he travels from the roads of the Commonwealth to Tarbean as he struggles to survives and his adventures at the University and his quest for more knowledge and the name of the wind.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Photos of the day

Losing What I Can

It's been 2 weeks since I started Weight Watchers and I have lost 5 lbs! Yay me! I am kind of excited because it's not as hard as I thought it might be. I think some might call it tedious checking points for EVERYTHING you eat, but the point is to MAKE you look at what your eating and think about what you're putting in your body.

Last night we went grocery shopping because, that's what people do when they run low on food in their houses. :) But seriously, the only reason I am every hesitant to buy produce, which I love, is because it's so freakin' expensive. While normally we try to keep our grocery bills to around $30-$50 each trip. We stocked up on fruits and veggies we needed to keep this new lifestyle going (yes, I am going to call it a lifestyle, NOT a diet) and all the other items we needed and when we checked out, I think I had heart palpitations for a minute there. Over $100 were spent.

It sucks living in an area where we don't have close access to grown products. I guess I was spoiled living in Texas that most produce was grown in the area, or a relatively short distance away. Of course the ridiculous cost of gasoline these days doesn't help anything when staples have to be trucked in. But what are you going to do.

One of the things I tried new on the recommendation of a friend and my mom was Greek yogurt. I tried the Dannon Oikos Vanilla and it wasn't bad. A little more tart than your average grocery store yogurt, and a little gritty to me, but all in all, palatable. I will try a couple other brands and decide which I like best. Plus strawberries were on sale, and they are soooo good. Yes I have a strawberry obsession. If I wanted to I could eat a pound at a time. Of course I would have a terrible stomach ache at the end.

I think that is part of my problem. I eat because it tastes good. Not to feel full, or to sate any feelings. When I feel low or depressed, I tend to NOT eat, it's weird. But I love tasting food. Sweets and salty. Thought I am partial to salty. Nuts, chips, crackers, cheese. I will salt just about anything, watermelon especially, brings out the sweetness of the fruit. My main downfall is ice cream. Turkey Hill Ice Cream is the best I can find around here in store bought. If I am get ice cream from a local shop, it's either The Milk Shake Factory in South Side or Klavon's in the Strip District.

Ok. ENOUGH about ice cream. Just makes me want some.

Well I am hoping I will keep up with this better than my gym life ever did. So far so good, but like I said, it's only the start of week 3.

Wish me luck.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It Is Time

So I finally decided it was time to do something about my weight. I joined Weight Watchers tonight. Was pretty easy. Now I just have to stick to it.

I have attempted the who gym scene twice before, but I just couldn't adjust to that lifestyle. Wasn't for me.

I hope this works!

Say a prayer!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lost, but not forgotten.

It's been quite a while since I have been on here. A lot has happened.

I got a job! A full time job. So now I have a full time and a part time job. It was like a Christmas present to me.
I started the 3rd of January and it is great to be back to work.

I have picked up my writing again. Sometimes, I can step away from it for a long time, and other times, I become obsessed with it. I don't know what I will do with it when I'm done. But it just wants out.

Christmas was good. My mom came to visit and it was fun. We went to the movies and did some shopping. Made cookies. We love to bake.

My dear husband still hasn't found a job. And not for a lack of trying. It's so frustrating to see other people finding jobs and yet he still can't get someone to hire him. He is stuck in that middle area where you know more than and need more money than an entry level position, but no one is hiring for those types of positions.

All we can do is hope and pray. I've been doing a lot of praying.