Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Books I Want to Read...Cupcakes

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2686 Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

So cupcakes? Weird, I know. Where did this theme come from? I have no idea, but as I browsed through my Goodreads list, I noticed a couple of books with the word "cupcake" in the title and did a search to see how many there were. Suffice it to say, I found more than five... And most of my fellow bloggers who participate in this meme all did scary books. What can I say?

Cupcakes are awesome. Still very trendy, but awesome.

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Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that--Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she's made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own cafe.

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue

Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.

Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes by Roisin Meaney

Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend ...or to notice an increasingly regular customer who has recently developed a sweet tooth for all things cupcake. But while Hannah is slowly piecing her life back together, family friend Alice's is falling apart. Her husband Tom's drinking is getting out of control and things are about to get a whole lot worse. As the seven-month milestone approaches, Hannah must decide her future. And while she's figuring out what's really important, it becomes clear to everyone that happiness in life, and in love, is all in the making.

When Only Cupcakes Will Do by Daisy James

When life gives you lemons, make lemon drizzle cupcakes...

Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chili powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too...

Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

Of course, she never expected to find love along the way...

If you Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff

If you give a cat a cupcake, he'll ask for some sprinkles to go with it. When you give him the sprinkles, he might spill some on the floor. Cleaning up will make him hot, so you'll give him a bathing suit . . . and that's just the beginning!

The lovable cat who first appeared in If You Give a Pig a Party now has his very own book! Written in the tradition of the bestselling If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond's newest story will show everyone that Cat is where it's at!

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: Layered PagesA Bookaholic SwedeThe Maiden's CourtA Literary Vacation, Flashlight Commentary.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cover Crush...Triple Love Score


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



I loved this cover the minute I saw it. 

I am a Scrabble junkie. It's my favorite game, ever. My family won't play it with me anymore. So a book that uses Scrabble as a plot point? I am so there. This is my current read and the review will post soon.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Conversations at Our House...Chocolate

It's no secret that we love chocolate at our house. The Brother, especially. Cadbury Dairy Milk is his favorite, but he loves pretty much any kind. This was a fun conversation we had when he was about 8.
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This morning, before breakfast, The Brother handed me the remaining 1/2 of a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk:

J: "Mom can I have all of this?"
M: "No, you can have 3 squares like normal. We haven't had breakfast yet."

10 minutes later I notice the bar is gone. J comes in, looking rather sheepish...

M: "What happened to the rest?"
J: "Well, I had the first part and then I had to taste the second part and then I just had to eat the last part."

He ducks his head and tries to look sorry. He's so darn cute. I give him a hug:

M: "How can I get mad at you, my little chocolate bug?"
J: "I know. I just love chocolate, Mom. It's in my nature!"

That it is, son. That it is!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cover Crush...To Whisper Her Name


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


Loved this cover. Loved this book.

The colors are vibrant; the dress is absolutely gorgeous. Truly stunning. The model posed before the window is striking with the green pasture and horse in the background. It's just sumptuous.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ella's Will...Spotlight

 About the book:
Will Hawkins is just a mere stable boy. How can he ever think to woo Ella, his once-wealthy childhood friend who is stubbornly independent, especially when his competition is the prince? Without any magic or fairy godmothers, Will must show Ella that he is her true prince charming in this perspective twist of the Cinderella story.

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About the author:
Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee is the author of award-winning "Ella." She was born the fourth of seven children into a family of avid readers, music lovers, movie quoters, and sports fans. Jessilyn graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English. She loves going on dates with her husband and playing with her five adorable, rambunctious boys. Jessilyn grew up in the beautiful high desert of Southern California and now resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. As you read this, she is probably folding laundry...or should be.

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Thanks to the author and Cedar Fort for the opportunity to spotlight this book. You can learn more about Jessilyn here or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. You can see reviews on her blog tour here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Gone with the Wind

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

Ok. Bear with me here. I can hear your minds all saying, "Gone with the Wind isn't a children's book!". No. No it isn't. However, I first read it as a 7th grader, which means I was maybe 12?

My 7th grade English teacher wanted us to each read a "classic" novel. I suppose I was feeling a little belligerent that day (I know, me? belligerent? never...) and I didn't really cooperate when our class was in the school library choosing books. I'd either already read the ones available or the others didn't interest me. So my teacher called my Mom. That's right, she called my mother and told her that I wasn't cooperating, and that I needed to read a classic for our class assignment and would my Mom take me to the library?

Yes, Mom took me to the library and we hunted down classics. In a completely ironic twist of fate, one of the books my Mom handed me was Pride and Prejudice and I ultimately dismissed it! I would not pick that particular book up again until I was a college freshman.

However, I found Gone with the Wind sitting on a shelf and that was it. That was the book I wanted to read. It was 1094 pages in paperback, but that didn't deter me. Nope. I was going to read it anyway. My mother, resigned and relieved that I had chosen a book, let me check it out. Even though it wasn't considered a "classic" at the time, my teacher agreed to let me read it. She even said that I only needed to read the first 250 pages because that was about how long the books were that the rest of the class was reading.

250 pages? You're practically still at the barbeque at Twelve Oaks after 250 pages (I'm being facetious). So, me being me, I read the entire book before my classmates had finished their books. And Gone with the Wind was solidified as one of my all-time favorite books ever.

Funny story: one of my Mom's friends found out I was reading Gone with the Wind and was absolutely shocked that Mom would let me read it. Mom remembered seeing Gone with the Wind in a theater with a girlfriend and loving it, so she didn't quite understand why I shouldn't read it. One year for Christmas I received a special anniversary edition hardbound copy. I still have it.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Neonatal Nurse's Day...Our experience

I have such a special place in my heart for nurses.

18 years ago, my oldest son was born at Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek, California. He was born with a congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA), which means the pulmonary and aorta arteries are reversed and the blood isn't oxygenated and doesn't circulate properly. It would have been fatal. The Boy was huge, weighing in at 8 lbs 11 oz. and his initial Apgar scores were 8 and 9. There was no reason to suspect any problems.


However, when he was 6 hours old, there was a nursing shift change and a new nurse came on duty. Her name was Carolyn and she immediately noticed that The Boy's color wasn't good because he was dusky. She told me that she was going to have the nursery check him for jaundice and wheeled him out of my room. I remember thinking, "You can't take my baby away from me." About 20 minutes later a doctor came to my room and told me that they suspected the baby had a heart problem. Two hours later, The Boy was transferred by ambulance to the University of San Francisco Medical Center across the bay from where he'd been born. 6 days later, he had open-heart surgery where the doctors performed an arterial switch.

The nurses who cared for him in the NICU at UCSF were amazing. So sweet, kind and patient. They loved those babies and their parents. We lived about 45 minutes away from San Francisco, so we would return home each evening and sleep in our own bed and then return to the hospital the next day. Each night we would call and talk to the nurse on duty to see how The Boy was and each morning, we would call again to see how he had done during the night before driving in to the hospital again. The nurses were always kind as they answered questions and talked to us.

In what might seem like a controversial decision to some, we did not go to the hospital the day of The Boy's surgery until after it was done and then we saw him post-recovery. We knew that he would not know if we were there or not and sitting in a waiting room for 8+ hours wouldn't do us any good. My sister came and spent the day with me and we did some shopping and The Doctor had wanted some time to himself. The nurse who took The Boy down to surgery called me and told me that he had been calm and not fussy at all. She reassured me that all was well and I will never forget her soft, sweet tone as she answered my questions. We knew approximately what time his surgery should be done and we called the hospital. Once we knew he was headed toward recovery, we drove to San Francisco. The nurses were wonderful that night as we saw The Boy post-surgery, which was a traumatic thing to see.


The Boy spent nearly 3 weeks in the NICU and at times, I felt so guilty, because for the first 6 days, here was this ginormous baby who looked perfectly healthy, in a bed next to little tiny babies who had so many heart-breaking conditions. I knew I would take my son home and so many parents in that NICU didn't have that promise. One baby who had been in the crib next to The Boy passed away one night and the next morning it was heartbreaking to realize he was gone. I had spoken with his mother several times.

A few weeks after The Boy came home, we went back to the hospital where he was born and searched out Carolyn. She told me, "I lied to you that day. I didn't suspect jaundice." I said, "I know that now. Thank you." Her reply to me, "I was just doing my job." I cried as I hugged her and replied, "No, you were our guardian angel and you saved his life."



The NICU is a special place and it takes a remarkable, incredibly special person to be a nurse to sick babies. I will forever be grateful to those doctors and nurses who cared for, loved and ultimately saved my son's life.



September 15 is Neonatal Nurse's Day.  This is a beautiful tribute video and well worth the few minutes it takes to watch it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cover Crush...Winter Sky


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


This cover is stunning in its simplicity. The colors are gorgeous and the cover really give no idea as to what the book is about. Is that a church in the background? What is the emblem? One must look at the book synopsis or read it to know what the subject matter really is.

The blues and golds and white are so pretty. 

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's CourtFlashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesindieBRAG.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Conversation at Our House...Art

We have tried to raise our boys with an understanding and appreciation of different types of art and music. I think we've done a decent job. This conversation was when they were about 9 and 11. Still one of my favorites.
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The Boy: "Mom, you know how the TMNT are all named for artists?"
Mom: "Yes."
The Boy: "Can you get me biographies of all of them? DaVinci, Michelangelo and the others? I was just thinking that I really want to learn about them. And Beethoven, too. I also need to get a poster or something of the Mona Lisa so I can start drawing it."
Mom: (After giving him a big kiss.) "Absolutely I can find you some biographies! I have some books about Michelangelo you can start looking at now."
The Boy: "Awesome!"

The Brother: (Looking at the cover of the Michelangelo art book I just handed his brother) "Hey, that's David!"

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cover Crush...The Spymistress


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


The colors in this cover really stood out to me. The rich, vibrant purple paired with the gold is stunning. The woman is posed, as if she is contemplating something important. The papers in her lap look to be in code. Who is she? Is she the Spymistress? This is a gorgeous cover, perfect for a historical novel. It draws me in and I am so curious.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I want to revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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New Mercies by Sandra Dallas
3/5 Stars
1/2008

My review says that I liked it and found it interesting. Apparently I didn't enjoy it as much as other Sandra Dallas books.

I have literally no memory of reading this. I couldn't tell you anything about it.


How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend by Janette Rallison

2/2008
3/5 Stars

My review: "A light, fun read. Giovanna is someone you can like and even relate to in many ways. I can see the appeal for teenagers/YA. Those high school years can be awkward, with lots of embarrassing moments. Giovanna certainly has her share of embarrassing moments and misunderstandings in this book, but her voice is believable. Entertaining."

Again, no memory whatsoever about this.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
1/5 Stars
11/2008

I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it were a true work of fiction, with characters completely created from the author's imagination. There are some bibliographical references at the end of the novel about the books which inspired her to write this piece of work. The main character is modeled after Laura Bush, and while the author admits this, I wish she'd just written a biography about Mrs. Bush, rather than some thinly disguised piece of fiction. She's also modeled the Blackwell family after the Bush family, including the President, and having read several Bush biographies, I can definitely see her similarities.

I haven't read anything by Sittenfeld since.

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What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Weekend Reflections 9/3

Looking outside...it's a bit overcast. High's are in the low 70s which is lovely.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is at work. The Boy is watching something. The Artist is sleeping.

Loving...my family. It's totally cliché, but it's true. They are my world.

Thinking...that I am not ready for The Boy to leave.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. Dinner at the Dower House tonight after my niece's baptism.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and white t-shirt with fuzzy gray socks.

Hoping...that we can deal with the ongoing car situation and find a car that we can use this weekend to take The Boy to school. Our mechanic finished the Trailblazer, but when he test drove it, the new (remanufactured) engine that the warranty company supplied has a defect. So now the car needs to be torn down again and a new engine obtained. Not to mention dealing with an intransigent warranty company and getting them to pay for this additional issue. I hate dealerships who high pressure sell and I hate insurance companies on principle because their bottom line isn't ever the customer. So we won't have the car back this week. The Buick is being worked on today by another mechanic, and we should have it back this afternoon. But, we can't haul all The Boy's stuff in it next weekend. We've been borrowing a truck from a friend and it has saved us. Unfortunately it has a tiny extended cab and we can't put two teenage boys in it for a 4.5 hour drive across Idaho. Sigh.


Reading...nothing new. I am seriously so behind it's pathetic.

Today...The Boy is baptizing my niece this afternoon. She turned 8 this week and at that age children in our faith are baptized. She asked The Boy to do it. They have a sweet relationship and he was touched that she wanted him to be the one to baptize her.

Quoting...“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway...let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.” ― C. JoyBell C.

Feeling...Decidedly emotional. With the baptism today and The Boy leaving for school this coming week, emotions are high. But, I'm excited for the opportunities that he will have and the things he will experience, but our home will be very lonely without him.


Planning...Lists and final shopping, assembling and packing and getting ready for the drive to college.

Gratitude...for a trusted mechanic who we could turn to when we realized that the warranty wasn't tied to the dealership and we could take our vehicle elsewhere. If we had still been with the dealership, I don't trust that they wouldn't have blamed the new engine issues on us.

From my world... 


I think The Artist proved who would win in a fight between Marvel and Godzilla.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cover Crush...Red Right Hand


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



The Golden Gate Bridge. So iconic. So integral to the history and impression of San Francisco. I gravitated towards this cover right away. The book is a thriller and so it really doesn't appeal to me, but the cover is stunning in it's simplicity.

I miss The City.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.