Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Books I've read this week - Messy Tessy

Messy Tessy © 2009 by Leah Orr
Illustrated by Josephine Lepore

About the book: Everyday, thousands of children are left in the care of a babysitter. Have you ever wondered what mischief a child could get into if the babysitter fell asleep?

Children’s book author Leah Orr is chronicling a day in the life of a new storybook character, Messy Tessy, a beautiful and fun-loving child with a great sense of adventure. Tessy takes full advantage of her babysitter’s nap and enjoys a few hours to make a mess during her unsupervised time. Parents, along with children of all ages, are sure to enjoy the mischief she creates for herself in this fun-filled page turner.

“While “Messy Tessy” is fiction, it is based loosely on my experiences of raising three girls and the numerous messes they’ve created along this journey called growing up,” said Orr. “From playing salon stylist and cutting their doll’s hair, to decorating our walls with their crayon drawings and creating havoc during mealtime, I used many of my children’s memories to delight the readers with Tessy’s silly antics.” According to Orr, not only did her children Aly, Camy, and Ashley assist her with the story, her mother, Josephine Lepore, was the illustrator.

This is a fun children’s book with cute illustrations that look like they’ve been colored in crayon. There’s a full-page colored picture opposite each page of writing which makes it a great read-along book. The book is done in rhyme. The rhythm isn’t always correct but I don’t think a child will mind. Tessy finds LOTS of ways to amuse herself while Aunt Fran sleeps in front of the television. A parent may want to use this book to teach a lesson of what NOT to do. Of course, that includes telling the babysitter not to go to sleep and leave the child unattended! LOL

Proceeds from Ms. Orr’s two previous children’s books, “Kyle’s First Crush” and “Kyle’s First Playdate” as well as a portion of the proceeds from “Messy Tessy” are generously donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Ms. Orr’s daughter Ashley suffers from the disease. Messy Tessy is available through and .

Books I've read this week - Everything's Eventual

Everything’s Eventual © 2002 by Stephen King

About the book: International bestselling author Stephen King is in terrifying top form with his first collection of short stories I almost a decade. In this spine-chilling compilation, King takes readers down a road less traveled (for good reason) in the blockbuster e-Book “Riding the Bullet,” bad table service turns bloody when you stop in for “Lunch at the Gotham Café’,” and terror becomes déjà vu all over again when you get “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French,” – along with eleven more stories that will keep you awake until daybreak. Enter a nightmarish mindscape of unrelenting horror and shocking revelations that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our times.

Yes, this is an older book but this is some of King’s best work if you like short stories. It starts out with an adrenaline rush in “Autopsy Room Four,” which I thought was the best story in the entire book. A man who is paralyzed and seems dead is about to undergo an autopsy but his mind is very much alive. This was an “Oh my God!” type of story and will keep you on the edge of your seat until you get to the end. If you’re a King fan, you won’t want to miss Everything’s Eventual.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 28, 2009)

I've decided to participate in J. Kaye's Book Blog meme, "It's Monday! What Are You Reading? This is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Feel free to join in this weekly event.

Right now I'm reading Stephen King's Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales.  I read the first one aloud to Jim as we were on our way to the casino this afternoon.  It's about a man who's paralyzed but the doctors think he's dead and he's about to undergo an autopsy.  King at his best.

Last week I finished Chin and the Magic Stones: Book One - Becoming Guardians by L. J. Salazar, and Wild Kat by Karen Kijewski .

Next up is So Into You by Sandara Hill which I won from Bookin' with Bingo and Peaches and Screams by G. A. McKevett.  I picked it up at the Des Moines flea market.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Wanderings

We got up Saturday to find out it had rained quite a bit overnight. There’s a flea market at Albia this weekend at the Monroe County Fairgrounds that we wanted to check out but from past experience, we knew some areas would be pretty muddy. We decided to wait until after noon to go and hope it would be a little drier. We got there about 2 o’clock and had a good time looking around. It was partly cloudy and around 70°. Booths were divided almost equally between indoors and out and the only problem was watching for mud puddles. Something caught my eye at the second booth we visited. I’m always on the lookout for unique items for the yard and I saw 2 metal rods with swirled open balls on top. They’re about 4 ½ feet tall and have a small base. The man who made them said they’re to put in large flowerpots and then stack other pots crookedly on the pole, or they can just be used in a pot for vine support. The ball on the top will spin. I left them and told him if they were still there when we got ready to leave, I would buy one. PHOTO HERE I ended up buying them both. I have a huge pot that one will go in and I haven’t decided about the other. I may use it for a gift.  (The photo shows one of the poles leaning against the garage.  The hat is one I've picked up cheap and use as a birdhouse.)

I also bought a set of 2 flexible cutting boards. I already have 2 smaller ones but these are larger, 12" x 15",  and will be good for meat. They are so handy to just pick up and pour the cut up food into a container or cooking pan. The last thing I bought was a medium-sized pumpkin. I have an all black cat and I want to take some photos of him with the pumpkin for Halloween.

Leaving the flea market we headed southeast to Farmington, a small town of about 750. It’s down almost in the corner of Iowa on Hwy. 2. We had discovered a small restaurant there a couple of years ago and wanted to see if it was as good as we remembered. It’s called the Bridge Café and Supper Club because it’s right next to the bridge over the Des Moines River. The outside of the building is very unassuming. It’s mainly tan colored block with few windows. One side is a very small bar, the other side is a café and in the middle is a larger dining room. Saturday nights they have a very good all-you-can-eat buffet. This night’s varied salad bar included potato and macaroni salads; ramen noodle slaw; pea salad; 3-bean salad; a bean salad that tasted like 3-bean but was all different types of shelled beans (no green or wax beans); cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in a dressing; cottage cheese; pickled beets; pineapple, mandarin orange, coconut and marshmallow mix; and lettuce with dressings and toppings including REAL home-cooked bacon bits. The meats were fried chicken, whole catfish and Swiss steak. Side dishes were mashed potatoes, dressing, scalloped cabbage, corn, gravies, hot cooked apple slices, home made bread, and French onion soup. All this for only $10.99 and coffee was only .80! I really liked the ramen slaw and want to try making it sometime. Also very good were the fried chicken which was crispy on the outside and moist in the middle, and the Swiss steak which was so tender you could cut it with your fork. If this restaurant were closer, I know it would become a regular place to visit but it’s almost 150 miles from home.

We ate about 7 o’clock and the restaurant wasn’t too busy. One waitress handled the dining room but since it was a buffet she only needed to take drink orders, clear dirty plates, give tickets and take money. An open doorway connected to the small bar where a TV with no sound was set on a sports channel. The dining area is family-friendly and there were several children there. The only thing I don’t like is the lack of windows in the dining room. It almost seems like you’re in a basement. I know we’ll be going back though. That good home cooking is hard to find these days.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Books I've read this week - Wild Kat

Wild Kat © 1994 by Karen Kijewski

About the book: "She’s a hard-boiled Sacramento P.I. with a soft spot for the unlucky, the unloved, and one special cop named Hank. Her name is Kat Colorado, and in her business curiosity can be more than an occupational hazard – it can be murder.

It was a matter of principle that prompted Amanda Hudson to blow the whistle on the company that employed her – and manufactured a defective, potentially lethal product. It was a matter of pride that made Amanda hang on to her job with stubborn determination despite harassment, anonymous threats, and attacks that terrified her.

And by the time her hotheaded husband hired Kat, it was a matter of life and death. For Amanda and Jude Hudson. For Kat, who would learn some hard – and deadly – lesson about vengeance, justice, and love."

I picked this book up at the Des Moines flea market last weekend. I HAD to have it because of the title.  I’m glad I found it because I really enjoyed the story.

Kat Colorado meets Jude Hudson by accident, quite literally. He crashes his car in front of her and she pulls him from the wreckage before it catches fire. After he heals he comes to Kat and tells her it was no accident, the car had been sabotaged by someone wanting to harm his wife, and he wants to hire Kat to help them. Amanda Hudson worked at a company that was making defective heart valves. When she tried to tell someone, no one would listen or do anything about it. Kat gets drawn into the conflict as she tries to find out who’s behind it and she puts her own life in danger. The story didn’t end as I expected and it was the type of book that left me wanting more. I’ll have to check and see if there’s a sequel.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Giveaway at Confessions of a Real Librarian

Confessions of a Real Librarian is giving away a copy of The Shimmer by David Morrell.  Read her review and enter to win here.  Leave a comment on that post telling her who your favorite thriller author is. You MUST leave an email address in your post or your comment will be deleted. Entries accepted until Sunday, September 27 and winner announced on Monday, September 28.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Books I've read this week - Chin and the Magic Stones

Chin and the Magic Stones: Book One – Becoming Guardians © 2009 by L. J. Salazar

About the book: Ten-year-old Chin loves to dream about having grand adventures. But nothing much ever happens in the sleepy little city of Kirkland, Washington, so Chin usually ends up playing with his loyal dog, Eagle, and reading thrilling stories. But one afternoon both their lives change forever.

While helping his father out in the yard, Chin discovers a shiny rock near the garden pond and he picks it up. Once he does, Eagle begins to talk! At that moment he realizes that the stone holds magical powers. But why it is in his yard?

Chin and Eagle discover an underground world right underneath his small town! The two become warriors in a revolution against and evil fantastical being known as the Shadow Lord. Along with the help of their new friends and mystical artifacts, Chin and Eagle navigate their way through the mysterious and dangerous new world where adventure waits around every corner!

Full of excitement and enchantment, Chin and the Magic Stones is a delightful tale about a young boy who uses the power of positive thinking to embark upon the journey of a lifetime!

About the author: L. J. Salazar applies the same concepts to his writing that made him a successful executive at multinationals like Xerox, ABB and more recently a successful 11-year career at Microsoft where he had the opportunity to manage multibillion-dollar businesses. “The core concepts of self-reliance, positive attitude and belief in oneself are universal and apply to kids and adults, “ said Salazar. Salazar now works as an executive coach, an advisor to venture capital firm Voyager Capital and as Chief Technical and Marketing Officer for Global Market Insite.

This book is aimed at 7- 11 year-old kids but I found it interesting and attention holding. Chin finds and is appointed guardian of a magic stone that helps him in challenges against the Shadow Lord. The stone also allows him to talk to his dog and other animals that help him along the way. He conquers one task in this first book and it leads into the next story. It should be an interesting series. For more information you can go to .

Monday, September 21, 2009

James Patterson Book Giveway - Maximum Ride Series!

Drey’s Library is hosting a super, wonderful, fantastic, magnificent giveaway for James Patterson fans! You have a chance to be one of two winners of Patterson’s best-selling Maximum Ride series that includes the following EIGHT books:

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
Maximum Ride: The Final Warning
Maximum Ride: Manga
Maximum Ride: Days of Daniel
Maximum Ride: Watch the Skies, and the newest book in the series,
Maximum Ride: Max

Can it get any better for James Patterson fans? I don’t think so. For your chance to win these eight super books, head over to Drey’s Library before October 4th. For your first entry, leave a comment with your email address. Extra entries for following, blogging, twittering, etc. Contest open to US only, no PO boxes. Good luck!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Around the House

We live in a house built and previously lived in by my great aunt and uncle. I inherited it along with some of the contents including the kitchen stove that was bought new in 1978. Yep, it was 32 years old this month and showed every bit of its age. Harvest gold. Not too pretty. My niece is planning on selling her house next year and they just updated their stove and frig so I bought her older stove. It’s a LOT newer than my old one. Black. Pretty. I had painted my kitchen cornelian red in 2005. At that time I also put down peel & stick tile that look like wood except under the old stove because I couldn’t move it. It’s gas and didn’t have a flex pipe on it. So yesterday after I got the old stove out of the way, I finished the floor. (Better late than never, right?) The tiles look nice and they go down easily but let me tell you something. The adhesive on the back is REALLY sticky and you can’t just wash it off your hands or anything else. I found the best thing to do is pour a little vegetable or olive oil on my hands and work it around really well and follow up with Dawn to get the oil off. You can even put a little oil on a rag and wipe off sticky spots on the floor and then clean with soap. I don’t know how the oil works but it gets rid of the sticky. While my stove was out of the way, I also pulled the frig out and cleaned behind and under it, wiping down the wall and floor and vacuuming the back. I found one of Bud’s mousies and a ball under there. LOL I wouldn’t give my Buddy up for anything but the house would certainly be a lot cleaner without a cat.
My niece had a few problems with her brand-new stove.  For one thing, the oven wouldn't work.  It seems there's some switch that no one had told them about.  Then the oven temperature wasn't set quite right so they had to have it looked at.  They bought the extended maintenance agreement and maybe it's a good thing.  BTW, they purchased the appliances at Lowe's and while delivery and installation of the refrigerator was free, they wanted $180 to hook up the stove!  It's a good thing family members know how to do that.  Ours is propane and needed a flex pipe and new shut-off so I called a professional.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much © 2009 by Allison Hoover Bartlett
About the book: “John Charles Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed “bibliodick” (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett befriended both eccentric characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes and how Sanders ultimately caught him, but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.”

This book is a true story of one man’s obsession to own rare books. Charles Gilkey felt he HAD to own these books and when he couldn’t afford them, he found imaginative ways to steal them. Ms. Bartlett does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the world of rare book buying and selling and showing how someone could become obsessed with owning them. I was amazed that there is so little that can be done to prevent book theft and the punishment when caught is so mild. Ken Sanders did what he could to alert other dealers but Mr. Gilkey outsmarted many of them. The end of the book gives the impression that Mr. Gilkey is still pursuing his passion.

Thank you to Lydia Hirt at Riverhead Books for sending me an ARC to read and review. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much goes on sale September 17.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Chair Arrived!

I was excited today because I knew my new chair was coming from CSN Chairs and it was waiting when I got home from the Multi-Purpose Center. I ordered the Adjustable Deluxe Fabric Posture Chair made by Boss Office Products in Gray Twill and it arrived in just one week.  I opened the box and started right in putting it together. The only tool I needed was a screwdriver and I used a ratchet one so it went together in just a few minutes. I have put chairs together before so I knew about how it went. The instructions are entirely pictures but they were pretty easy to follow.
The back support was already attached to the back cushion so I didn’t have to do that step. I just pushed the casters onto the base, set the lift into the base center hole, and attached the lift mechanism to the seat bottom with 4 screws. All I had to do then was place the back support into the mechanism and tighten the knob that holds it in place. Voila! All done!
The gray tweed fabric is very nice looking and the seat and back are amply padded. The lift works great.  I am used to a somewhat broader seat and a chair with arms, so this one sits differently. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks what I think about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This and That

Sorry, I didn't post any book reviews this past week. I did read a couple of Reader's Digest Condensed stories (and several magazines) but I don't think they should count.  What with visiting with relatives for several days, downloading and trading photos, going other places, and working all day tomorrow, reading hasn't been foremost on my mind this week. (SHOCK!!)  Anyway, I promise to get back in line and post reviews next week.
There seems to have been a gremlin in my visitor counter.  Two days ago it was 1745 and now almost 12,000!  It would be nice to have that many visitors but I know it's not realistic.  Anyone else ever have a counter screw up?
A few photos from Labor Day weekend -
My cousin Judy from Colorada, my 2nd cousin's wife Kathy from Oklahoma who we met for the first time, and my Uncle Gene and Aunt Neva from Montana looking at family photos.  As I mentioned last week, quite a few states are represented when my family gets together.
This is my nephew Jubal, my mother, my niece Rachael, and my other niece Ashley in the background.  The last time I had seen them, Jubal was a baby.  He's now 18 and Rachael is almost 22.  They live in Texas and Mom and Ashley live here.

This is my grand-nephew Malachi who lives in southeast Iowa and my sister Anne.

My First MATURA Meeting

I attended the MATURA Action Corporation Annual Meeting Wednesday night with my sister and 3 others from our county. The others were Dora, who is an aide and she was awarded a pin for working with MATURA for over 5 years; Marty, who does the chore services for local elderly low and moderate income residents so they can stay in their homes and he also pickups food at the Food Bank and helps stock our pantry (That's a hard job.  Those cases of food are HEAVY!); and my mother who used to be an aide and now sometimes volunteers to answer the phone and take money. The meeting was mainly to show appreciation to the directors, aides, and volunteers and there were over 100 in attendance. We were served a very nice buffet with salads and vegetables along with roast beef, roast turkey, ham, rolls, and desert. Dinner was followed by a short meeting and awards, then drawings for door prizes. Everyone at our table won something. I won a book about helping working moms get organized but my sister traded with me. She had won a Sak purse and she knows how I love purses. Thank you Annie!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Family Reunion 2009

It was a very busy weekend for our family.  We had our 2009 reunion at a local city park.  Since it was a holiday weekend, several people from out of state were able to make it home to Iowa but not all could stay for the picnic Monday.  My sister Anne and her daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Jason, hosted a get-together at their homes on Sunday.  They only live half a block apart so it worked out really well.  Relatives from Oklahoma, Florida, Montana, and Colorado were there as well as cousins and aunts and uncles from central Iowa.  Monday's potluck had a very good turnout with about 80 people attending.  We had a few special guests this year including my niece and nephew, Rachael and Jubal, from Texas, who attended for the first time.  Their mother and my brother divorced years ago and they hadn't been back to Iowa since 1991.  We were thrilled that they took the time to drive here and get acquainted with their family.  I only wish they could have stayed longer but school and jobs don't wait. 

Plans have already been made to hold next year's reunion on the Sunday before Labor Day so more people can attend and still get back home for work on Tuesday after.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Peek into my Week

I spent part of last Friday learning how to enter food pantry applicants' information into the computer. This was also my first time using a laptop, (I had to ask how to open it. LOL) so it was a double-learning experience. I’ve been thinking about getting a laptop so I’m glad to be able to use one.

The back room was almost empty early Friday but it filled up quickly. That’s the room where donations are taken in and stored until we can sort them, hanging or folding the clothes, and deciding to keep or toss the knick-knacks and other things. You might wonder why we would throw things out but you wouldn’t if you could see some of the things people drop off – dirty and torn clothing, worn out pots and pans, stained and melted plastics, things with parts missing. Even though there is a BIG sign out front that says "No Dumping", people drop off things when we're closed, too, even when it's raining. We no longer take TVs of any size and we don't have room for larger items like furniture or appliances. Our dumpster is pretty full every week and we fill a straight truck with bags of unwanted clothing every 2 weeks. The clothing is recycled and the Center gets paid a small fee per pound. We do, of course, get wonderful donations also. Sometimes people even give brand new clothing with tags still on them. We get nice things that don’t sell at garage sales or when people die and the family is disposing of things. Right now we’re getting generous donations of fresh produce and we give it away on a first-come basis. I love going to work and seeing what’s new each week.

People donate magazines to the Center and we resell them for a dime each. Someone brought in a couple of grocery sacks last week and I went through them to make sure there was nothing inappropriate (Playboy, etc.). Most of them had the label cut off so I noticed when 2 didn’t. I got a good chuckle when I saw they were addressed to “Allison Wonderland’ and ‘Rhoda Horsy.’ I wonder how long it took the person to come up with those names.
My garden is winding down. The peas have been gone for weeks and I just finished pulling all the onions. The tomato plants, while still having a few tomatoes on them, look like heck. All the lower leaves have died and fallen off. I was told this was caused by a magnesium deficiency and to add Epsom salts to the soil but I didn’t do it. I had enough extra tomatoes to can a little bit of juice. I’m still picking enough green beans to have them twice a week and I have green peppers and carrots. I’m always glad to have the fresh veggies but I’m also glad when the season is over. It was a good experience using the planter boxes and now I have some ideas to improve them next year.
Our big family reunion is coming up Monday, Labor Day. My mother had 11 children in her family and I had 33 first cousins and too many second, third, and fourth cousins to count. There are only Mom, 2 of her sisters, and 1 brother alive now, 3 here in central Iowa and one in Montana. The cousins are spread out across the entire U.S. from Florida to California and everywhere in between. We’re having a potluck at a local city park and I hope we have a good turnout. People seem to drift away once the older adults on their branch are gone.
Jim did most of the mowing Saturday but I finished on Monday. The garage floor is cracking and shifting and it’s affected the doors, one of which is automatic and the other manual. My car is parked in the automatic side and the mowers, carts, etc. are on the other side. Since the only side door is next to my car, it’s easier to open the big door on that side and then raise the other door to get the mower out. Well, on Monday, the automatic door didn’t want to go back down. It would go so far and then was catching on something. It ended up bending the top of the aluminum door when it tried to close! You can imagine how panicked I felt thinking the door was ruined, wondering if I’d have to park my car outside, how we were going to close the door to protect things from getting stolen, etc. I hated to even tell Jim about it when he got home. He was able to figure out where it was hitting in the tracks and we adjusted it. Then we worked on straightening the door. We had to undo the arm that connected it to the track because even the connector was bent a little. Thank goodness we were able to get everything working again.

Nowhere on our property is very level and both the house and garage are built where the ground slopes away on 3 sides. Add to this the problem of moles (or gophers) digging everywhere and the ground just isn’t very stabile. This has led to problems with the basement floor, walls, and stairway and the garage floor, all which are expensive to fix.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Legacy available on Kindle this week for FREE!

Legacy by Cayla Kluver is now available for sale at, and this week, Amazon is offering customers the opportunity to download Legacy on the Kindle for free! Just click here for more details.

You can read my review of Legacy here.