Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Lent Eve

Which Tradition Do You Follow?

Hi! Today is a special day for many. It's Fastnacht Day, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, and Mardi Gras aka...that means "also known as"...Fat Tuesday.
It's a day of celebration before the reflective time of Lent that leads up to Easter.
Many who don't follow the specifics still enjoy celebrating with those that do.
Who wouldn't? All the tasty treats!
Back in 2013 we told you a little bit about all the special-ness this day holds.
Our 2014 greeting gave a great look at real fastnachts.
No post in 2015?! What?! Made up for it in 2016!


New Old Tradition

One of the names for today is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. So this morning we had pancakes for breakfast! Yay! I read an article about Pancake Day and the pancake races they have in England. And a few people were complaining about people not eating the right pancakes. I bet these are wrong. (giggles) But a lot of people in our area celebrate Fastnacht day with doughnuts and there is a BIG difference. Some even call it doughnut day! HORRORS! (giggles)
Do you like pancakes? What's you favorite kind? I love blueberry pancakes and apple pancakes. These are plain, but those are awesome too!

Learn About Mardi Gras

Way back when we were only 4 in number and before we were blogging, we read a great mystery with a Mardi Gras setting. It was a fun read and told us a lot about New Orleans Mardi Gras society. Reminded Xyra of the different Mummers clubs in Philadelphia. Anyway, we thought to round out this year's celebration we'd share her review of Ruined by Paula Morris.

Xyra's Review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a very good ghost story - it gave information in bits and pieces keeping it mysterious. However, it could have had deeper development especially with the characters [I find this to be an issue with third person limited point of view - in staying vague].

I truly enjoyed learning the history and social order of New Orleans as well as a peek into its traditions and past. Though the story is fiction I have no doubt something similar took place in reality.

It's a good read and kept me rivoted from the first page. (Even ignoring another book I'm working on.) I was not disappointed in the end - though I do wish it had gone just a bit further.

Sometimes the main character seemed spoiled and hot headed and peevish; and we did not get enough of her romantic interest.

Quite enjoyable - would like to know what happens after everything is truly sorted out with the families or if they decided to let the authorities declare everything accidental.

Note: the second book in the Ruined series is called Unbroken. We have not read that...yet.

Which way would you choose to celebrate? 
We've decided we like all and do a little bit of everything.

Best wishes,

Monday, February 27, 2017

Quality Pet time

Frolic Like a Kid


Hey, I just noticed we mentioned our little goat twice and never properly introduced her to you! Yikes! This last week was warm enough to get a few good shots.

Being a Capricorn, I kind of have a thing for goats. 
Isn't she cute? We called her Sombrita like the goat kid in Josefina's stories even though her spots are darker.

Best wishes,

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: In the Stone Circle

In the Stone Circle

by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Preface

This one we picked up at a yard sale. It's in amazing condition for a classroom reading selection. Probably means it wasn't a popular book. Not sure why. We did a bit of research on the author. She also wrote The Box Trolls, ParaNorman, The Suddenly supernatural series, the Lily B series, and one of Kit's BeForever mystery's - The Jazzman's Trumptet...among many others.

Reviews

Melody
This is a really cool ghost story and mystery wrapped up in one. I wasn't fond of Miranda at first, but she didn't ruin the story for me.

Grace
Could not stop reading this story. It grabbed my attention from page 1 to the end.

Kirsten
Sometimes I had a hard time reading the story, but not because of anything the author did. (giggles) I had a hard time turning the pages. When I could, I really liked learning about Wales.

Lea
Oh. My. Gosh. This story had me on the edge of my seat. The way the author described everything created vivid pictures in my head!

Lanie
I really felt for Cristyn. She wasn't thrilled going to Wales and then another family infiltrates. She showed strength in her treatment of the other professor's kids. Lots of growth among all the characters

Haley
While reading this book I felt as if I were exploring the past too. Like I was Cristyn. Strong writing.

Kaya
This book falls under the genres: mystery, thriller, paranormal YA fiction. while trying to solve the mystery, Cristyn learns about her past and life in medieval times. It was cool to discover clues and resolutions with her.

Xyra's Review

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a wonderful ghost story/mystery!

Two college professors take their families to Wales over the summer to do research in their fiend of medieval history/studies. The cottage they rent is ancient and built over an even older foundation. Plus it holds secrets.

Cristyn and her dad arrive first. They get settled in shortly before the other family arrives. We get two single parent families blending together. Cristyn's mom died in and accident when she was very small; while Miranda and Dennis's parents are recently divorced. Cristyn and Miranda are two completely different personalities - Cristyn is thoughtful and diplomatic; Miranda is petulant, selfish, and rude to her brother and mother.

Cristyn is sensitive to the cottage's past as soon as they arrive. While trying to figure out what is happening, she learns a lot about her mother and her Welsh heritage.

I loved how the author meshed the present story - two families brought together for a summer by parents' work and working out difficulties (mostly with Miranda's attitude and the surprise arrival of the estranged father) - and the past (the ghost) with the work of the two parents.

A cool, creepy, ghost story. Not violent of bloody or overly suspenseful. Just perfect. Overall a fun, well written, enjoyable read.

{SPOILER ALERT}
This is an example of how to tell a good ghost story. There are ghost story books out there where the author would have said something like, "I visited this small town in Wales and spoke with the rental agent for a cottage where it has been reported one can see a flickering disturbance in the basement." and leave it at that with no background on who the ghost might be and what happened to make that spirit want to stay and seek out others.

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel gives us the story of Carwen in the many glimpses Cristyn sees and feels around the house. More information comes from her dad and Erika (the other professor). Through the parents we also get a bit of a medieval history or anthropology lesson about children born to titled parents in and out of wedlock. And here is the only spot where I think the ending is a bit weak. The greatest gift Cristyn could have given Carwen was a name and place in history by putting what they found in the museum. There could have been a twist in the stone circle where Carwen took the essence of the item that belonged to her and left the physical for the museum. Those are my musings only. I have at least one during every story I read. :-)

Once again, loved this book! The setting, history, present families. characters, etc. Just a great story!



Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Period Drama Tag

Period Style and Drama

Hi! Last week Lainey from The Redhead's Blog named me to participate in the Period Drama Tag. When discussing period dramas one should really look the part, don't you think?
How do I look? Kirsten looked great in this. I tied the sash behind and found a hat. It's Caroline's but I think Addy's might have worked better. Oh, well!

Tags are fun little quizzes or interviews about your favorites or experiences. Thank you for tagging me, Lainey! I discussed the questions with my sisters. It was fun! They really helped narrow down my choices and, in some cases, expand them! Yikes! 

The Period Drama Tag

  1. Which period drama do you like most? Anne of Green Gables, but we found out we like a lot! Downton Abbey, Poldark, Miss Fisher's Murders, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Sense and Sensibilty, Pride and Prejudice, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie. And Xyra like Outlander, we're not to watch that yet.
  2. Choose four characters from a period drama that you like most. Well, is it from "a period drama" or "period drama"? If from a drama, well, then I have to choose from Downton Abbey: The Dowager Countess, Mrs. Padmore, Mrs. Hughes, Bates. Or from Sense and Sensibility: Elinor and Edward, Col. Brandon, Margaret Dashwood. If from the entire genre: Ross Poldark, Demelza, Col Brandon, Miss Marple.
  3. Which period drama have you recently seen that you recommend to other bloggers? Miss Fisher's Murders
  4. If you had to choose, which period drama heroine do you like best? Demelza Poldark...Miss Marple...The Dowager Countess (Violet Crawley)...Phryne Fisher...Elinor Dashwood....Anne Shirley...Elizabeth Bennet
  5. And which period drama hero? This is a shorter list: Col Brandon...Ross Poldark...Mr. Darcy...Hercule Poirot
  6. Have you ever seen a movie which was exactly, or mostly, the same as the book? Anne of Green Gables and Oliver Twist
  7. Which movies do you like most: Jane Austen (ex. Emma), Dickens (ex. Little Dorrit), Bronte sisters (ex. Jane Eyre)? Austen
  8. Would you rather play Emma (Emma), Lizzie (Pride and Prejudice), Catherine (Northanger Abbey), Mary (Downton Abbey), Marian (Robin Hood), Amy (Little Dorrit) or Jane (Jane Eyre)? Marian
  9. Would you rather have Call the Midwife or Cranford? This one was difficult because we aren't familiar with either series. However, we really like Dame Judi Dench, so I choose Cranford.
  10. Which period drama that you haven't seen yet would you like to see? This was easy...(giggles)...Call the Midwife and Cranford.
  11. Which adaptation of Sense and Sensibility do you like most: 1995 or 2008? 1995 solely based on casting. Alan Rickman is swoon-worthy, plus you have Dr. House and a bunch of the Harry Potter actors.
  12. Which adaptation of Pride and Prejudice do you like most: 1995 or 2005? 1995, we're big Colin Firth fans. He is the best Darcy, in my opinion. 
  13. Which couple from a period drama movie do you like most? This specifically notes movie, so Col. Brandon and Marianne with Edward and Elinor. If the question asked about series, then I'd choose Ross and Demelza.

What have we learned from this tag? We need to check out more of the period dramas on TV and I'm not 100% sure who to tag. Xyra is certain Nonna would like this one; I think Steampunk Addie would too. However, if you dropped by and enjoy a good period drama and would like to play along, feel free to answer the same questions in your blog or in the comments below. We'd love to hear your favorites and know who we can call on next time!

Thank you, again, Lainey! This was fun!

Best wishes,

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lea's Sunshine Adventure

What a Day?!

We are having spring weather in February! This weekend a few towns near us almost made it to 70. Today we're in the mid 50s. It's nice. So I tagged along with Xyra for a few errands.

Main Stop

The library! This is my first trip. What a great place! Books as far as you can see. Big ones, little ones, thin ones, thick ones, old ones, new ones, audio books, DVDs, places to work...and quiet! WOW! (whispers) I mean, wow! (giggles) We looked up one book then I went wandering on my own. I found a bunch I'd like to check out.

Look here's the next book for SHMLF Book Club, Meet Kit. Looks like almost all of the Tripp books are here.
Would love to read this one, but it might take more than three weeks. I've heard good things about it. Have you read Wondla?
Ooo, the others told me to check out the resident snake, Simba. He was moving around. I wonder if he saw me. I think he really liked the sun too!
I didn't see one of the books I wanted on the shelf, so I checked the online card catalog. Very easy to use. Xyra said she likes the old fashioned card catalog better; she had a hard time figuring out what would be on the library spine tag.
I ended up choosing book one of The Happy Hollisters. I've heard it's a fun mystery series.

Unplanned Stop

Driving by the reservoir, Xyra found a place to pull over so we could check out the snow geese. Bright white on the water.
I think they were having a meeting or choir rehearsal of some sort; sounded like a bunch were talking at the same time. 
A neat sound. Not at all like the Canada geese we normally hear flying overhead.

While we're being sunny...

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Back in November Flo posted about the Sunshine Blogger Award. We had hoped to work on it right then, but it slipped through the cracks until now! Sorry, Flo.


These are the 11 questions Flo asked:

  1. What is your favorite season? The current season. I love each season for different reasons. In winter it is the hush that falls with freshly falling snow and lengthening days.
  2. Would you drink orange juice with pizza? Yes, if that was all that was available. I prefer milk or soda.
  3. Madonna or Lady Gaga? This is tough. I love Madge she makes great music. I also love Gaga; same reason. I guess I have to say both.
  4. Do you like Dr. Who? And if you do, who is your favorite character that they have encountered? I keep trying to get into the series, but pop in with David Tennant as the Doc. his character is a bit too frenetic for me...plus he was also Barty Crouch, Jr. I also seem to fall in on the same episodes, The Fires of Pompeii and Silence in the Library. 
  5. What kitchen appliance could you not live without? Oven/stove. Trying to keep a fire going for cooking is terrible. The electric stove was a wonderful invention.
  6. Who is you favorite actor/actress? Ernest Borgnine. From drama to comedy he could handle the part and he was working up until he passed at age 95. Many of you may know him as Mermaidman from Sponge Bob. He had a great smile and was very handsome (not like your typical heartthrob). Favorite actress is much harder. I really like Reese, Anne, Sandra, Octavia, Viola, Lupita, America,..
  7. What is your pet peeve? Misusing there, their, and they're (although I do understand that once in a great while this can be a typo, but you can tell the difference).
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Hawaii so I could have a herd of guinea pigs mow the lawn.
  9. Have you ever ridden a horse? Yes,
  10. Are you a morning person or night owl? Night owl - most definitely.
  11. Do you play an instrument? And if you do, what do you play? I used to play clarinet. I could probably dust it off and start again, but I'm happy using my voice instead.

I'd like to nominate Geeky_Girl from The Dolls of Texas.

My 11 questions:

  1. Which is your all time favorite fandom?
  2. If you could only shop at one store, which would it be?
  3. Is your computer desktop wallpaper easily visible or covered with apps?
  4. Are you looking forward to the next installment of The Descendants?
  5. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
  6. Have you ever sung karaoke?
  7. Comedy or drama?
  8. Do you like marshmallows?
  9. What's your favorite fast food or healthy fast food place?
  10. Book or eBook?
  11. What color do you find most inspiring?

If you like these questions, please feel free to participate with this award in the comments below or on your own blog. 

Tchau! Até mais tarde!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tea Review: Simply Balanced Orange Spice

Thirsty Thursday #15

Simply Balanced: Orange Spice

Hi, again! I told you I'd see you again soon! Today I'm going to talk about a tea, well, herbal blend you can get at your local Target. It's the Simply Balanced Orange Spice
It's a fair trade and organic blend. Since there is no tea or yaupon in the blend, it is caffeine free.

The box is filled with individually wrapped tea bags. Each package has the steeping instructions.

Tea bag in the tea pot. Wow! I can smell the spices already. Very exotic.
Setting the timer for 4 minutes. 
We filled the tea pot. The pot holds two fancy tea cups or one mug of tea. Now we wait. (humming, tapping foot)
[timer beeps]
Done! 
Have you ever noticed how long four minutes feels. (giggles) But if I had walked away to do something else it would have blinked by. Check out the gorgeous amber brown liquid.
And the spices! (takes deep breath) Yum! I hope it tastes as good as it smells.
First sip is plain.
Not bad. The spices are well balanced with the citrus of the orange. I can pick out cinnamon and clove. I bet there is a bit of nutmeg too. I'll have to check. (looks at box) Okay, it has orange peel, hibiscus, chicory, cinnamon, clove, and rosehips. So no nutmeg.

Second sip I'm adding some bamboo honey.
Mmmm, That's better. Just an extra, light touch of sweetness. But you have to be careful what honey you choose. Buckwheat honey would have been too heavy.

The Simply Balanced Orange Spice herbal blend is really tasty. 
I think it would be best to drink on a cold winter day or a dreary day when you need a pick me up...not so much of energy boost, but brightness and warmth.


Xyra's Note


  • It has been my experience that one should not over steep a citrus based herbal. They tend to get really bitter.
  • The little teapot yielded great, robust, spicy flavor for the entire pot.
  • We have not tried to re-steep at this time.


Taking over is fun, but you know I think I'm going to take a vacation tomorrow,

See you again soon!