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January Photo a Day Challenge

>> Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tomorrow is January 1st. That means it's time for my monthly reminder about Fat Mum Slim's Photo-A-Day. The beginning of a new month is always a great time to join in or give this another try. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time! This is really a lot of fun and quite addictive. I posted my 655th daily photo yesterday. I'm at the point where I'm in countdown mode to two full years of daily photo taking

January 2014 Photo a Day
Click on the image to see larger and save to your computer

Every month I do a reminder and review post about Photo a Day. There are two parts to this monthly post. One is to recruit more of my friends to participate and the other is to share my favorites of my photos from the previous month. The Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I've been doing this daily photo thing since the middle of March of 2012. I like that more of my online and in person friends seem to join in every month. It's a lot of fun to see everyone's photos and how creative folks can be with the daily prompts.

It's really not that hard and you can participate in so many ways. The flexibility is what makes this so great. Now that I've done this for nearly two years it's become a bit of photo journal and scrolling through my photos is a fun reminder of something that happened or caught my eye at some point each day.

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month. Chantelle's post about the January list includes some extra explanation and ideas just in case any of the prompts have you stumped.

Here is the short version of Chantelle's instructions:
HOW TO PLAY PHOTO A DAY

Playing photo-a-day couldn't be easier. It really couldn't. Here’s how to play:
♥ Grab your camera or phone or photo-taking-device.
♥ Look at the monthly list to find the prompt for the day. {The number corresponds to the date of the month}.
♥ Take a photo using the prompt as inspiration. So for January the prompt for day 1 is ‘lunch’. So take a photo of your lunch, or people having lunch, or whatever you’re doing at lunchtime {which might possibly be lying on the couch recovering from the night before!}.
♥ Now you've taken a picture, it’s time to share it. This is the fun part. You can share to whichever social media platform you like, for me I like Facebook and Instagram best, oh and Twitter too. Make sure you add the hashtag #FMSphotoaday to your caption so people can find you, and others know what you’re doing.

If you’re sharing on Facebook, you might like to join our Facebook group. It’s a big, lovable community of photo-taking-people. Click here to find it.
♥ Now you've shared, check out other people’s photos. You can check out the #FMSphotoaday hashtag on Instagram or Twitter to find them all. OR look at the Facebook group. It’s nice to comment and get to know other photo-takers too. We’re a friendly bunch.

WHERE TO PLAY

I’ve touched on this above, but there are loads of places for you to upload your photo-a-day photos. Here’s a bit more details:

♥ Instagram: Just upload your photo, and add a caption and the hashtag #FMSphotoaday and then share.
♥ Facebook: There are a few options here. You can simply share on your own personal page, among your own friends. Or you can upload to my page’s wall, or to the FMS Photo A Day Facebook group. You can join it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FMSphotoaday/ Now that Facebook has hashtags, simply add the hashtag #FMSphotoaday when you share your photos and you’ll be able to see which of your friends are playing along too. It’s cool!
♥ Blog: If you have a blog, you could share each day or do a wrap up of all the photos at the end of the month.
♥ Tumblr: Add your daily photos to your Tumblr feed.
♥ Flickr: You can get their app and share your photos there, or upload on their web version. We also have a photo a day group here.
♥ Twitter: You can share on Twitter by uploading the photo and sharing the hashtag #FMSphotoaday. Easy.

I keep this easy and low stress. I only use my phone for taking the photos. Between Instagram and a few other photo applications I have plenty of options for editing photos on my phone. It's been a lot of fun for me to see what I can do using just my phone and apps.

If you’d like to check out my previous photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

I enjoy using ShutterCal too. It gives me several ways to review my daily photos. Monthly collages or scrolling through them all. It's a bit of a visual journal. You can see all of my Photo A Day photos in a calendar format. I think this is my favorite way to scan through my past photos. If you decide to use Shuttercal, be sure to let me know or link up with me there.

The most important thing to remember about this is don't work to hard and make this difficult by overthinking it. For me, using only photos from my phone makes it low pressure so I don't feel like I have to have a perfect shot. That helps me to just relax and have fun with it. Even with the photo prompts that are repeated it's fun to try to come up with something different. Sometimes a prompt that was used a couple of months ago can spark a totally different meaning depending on my mood or circumstances that day. Honestly some days I just don't get that inspired but other days I spend a lot of time playing to get a photo I'm happy with.

If you've been participating I hope you'll continue or give it another try if you've gotten out of the habit. Please let me know where you are sharing your photos so that I can find them.

I had fun with the December prompts and was and ended up with several photos I was quite happy with. I picked six favorites to feature today. If you want to see the whole month check the month view on Shuttercal.

where I stood
December 2nd - where I stood
shadow
December 6th - shadow
r is for . . . 
Rubik's Cube
December 10th - r is for . . . Rubik's Cube
green
December 11th - green
joy is . . .
December 12th - joy is . . .
something awesome
December 28th - something awesome
Just a reminder - click on any of the photos to see a larger version

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Wordless Wednesday #218

>> Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas !!
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Weekend Update December 22, 2013

>> Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
Well the Holiday season busyness has been in full swing and my reading shows it. I’m still reading Redemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I’m enjoying it a lot but haven’t had more than short bursts of reading time to devote to it. Hoping that will change this afternoon.

On audio, I’m on the last CD of Children of the Storm by Elizabeth Peters. I just love the Amelia Peabody series as read by Barbara Rosenblat.

When I finish that I’m going to take a short break from finishing out the Amelia Peabody series. I took advantage of a free Audible download this week to get The Cricket on the Hearth read by Jim Dale. I’ve never read this Dickens story and well, it’s Jim Dale! I figured that would be a nice holiday week listen before continuing with Amelia Peabody.

I did finish a couple of graphic novels this week. The first was The Drops of God, Volume 3. It was just OK and I won’t likely continue with the series. It was becoming repetitive and the story was progressing at just too slow a pace for me. I followed that up by reading The Runaways:The Good Die Young. This is the third in a series about a group of teenagers who find out that their parents are supervillains. The kids decide to use their own special talents and powers to make up for the evil done by their parents. This third volume finishes up the first major story arc in the series. I’ve already picked up the next two from the library. It’s a fun escapist type story and I’m really beginning to like these kids.

I’m taking a break from book reviews on the blog until after New Years so you’ll see reviews back in the mix in January. I'm working this week except for Christmas day and there's just not enough time this week and next week is my vacation.

Other than books and reading:
Last Sunday we participated in the Holiday Half and 5k. The Hubster ran the half marathon and I did the 5k. I was hoping to finish in under 35 minutes but didn't quite make it.

I’m blaming this on a crowded start and a narrow first two turns that slowed me down. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. It was a fun race and unlike the past two years the weather was neither windy nor rainy.

Holiday traditions have already started around here. I made cranberry cream cheese bread. I love this stuff but only make it at Christmastime so it’s definitely a holiday thing for me.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread

This old post has the recipe. I did all mini-loaves this year because I take some in to work for my co-workers. That left a couple of mini-loaves for us which was just right.

Even Howie is dressed up for the holidays with his Christmas collar.
Howie's Christmas collar

I did manage to get some cabinet cleaning and purging done this week. That meant lots of shredding. Abby thinks the shredder is almost as entertaining as the printer.

Abby loves the shredder

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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The Drops of God Vol. 3 by Tadashi Agi

>> Friday, December 20, 2013

The Drops of God Vol. 3 by Tadashi Agi

The Drops of God Vol. 3 by Tadashi Agi

Genre: Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Publisher: Vertical
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 402
Source: Library



The Short Version:
Two rivals continue their competition to determine who will inherit their father’s estate by searching out twelve outstanding wines.

Why I Read It:
I loved the first volume of this series and while the second was still excellent it left me wondering whether the third in the series would be able to continue the level of the first one.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The hunt is on! Shizuku and his adopted brother Issei have both selected their choices for the First Great Wine Apostle. Now they have to actually acquire these wines. Crossing the globe to meet with the winemakers and critics that know these casts inside and out. But will either one of these two know why Yutaka Kanzaki selected the winning wine? The message behind it may shatter the conscious of at least one challenger, for there is more to wine appreciation than just wine value. There are messages attached to these heaven sent wines. Shizuku's father selected them to help bring his family closer together through wine, even if it meant having to do so while he was no longer on this plane. The blood and wine will continue to flow, but who will appreciate it the most in the end?

My Thoughts:
The first book in this series was my introduction to Japanese Manga. It surprised me how much I liked it and how much I actually learned about wine and wine tasting. The second volume was still good but it left me wondering how things would progress with the series. My concern was whether the pace of the series would pick up or not,

Now that I’ve read the third volume I have my answer. Unfortunately that answer is “No”.

The long term story of this series is finding and identifying and finding twelve amazing bottles of wine. Here we are in volume three and only one of twelve has been identified. The other problem I’m having is that the side stories are becoming repetitive. I loved the first book. I liked the second book but I think the third book will be the last in this series for me.

My vote is read the first one and call it done.


2.5 stars Rating 2.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #217

>> Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sunrise in Downtown Portland

Sunrise in Downtown Portland
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Leaving Goodreads, Embracing LibraryThing

>> Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I’m getting ready to close down my Goodreads account and completely switch over to LibraryThing.



Years ago I tried out both Goodreads and LibraryThing and opted to go with Goodreads for a couple of reasons. First of all the interface was a bit easier and secondly I couldn't put all my books in LibraryThing without purchasing a lifetime membership for $25 and well, free is a very good price.


I was fine with Goodreads and while I did do a bit of the social stuff there I pretty much backed out of most of that and just used it for tracking my books and reading. The only real exception was that I've been a part of the 75 Books a Year Group for several years. I also have enjoyed the yearly Reading Challenge for the past few years. I could set a goal for books I wanted to read and see at a glance where I stood in terms of progress toward that goal

However, when Amazon bought Goodreads I was pretty sure I didn't want to hang around long term. I opened up my long neglected LibraryThing account, purchased the lifetime membership and imported my data from Goodreads.

I've spent the past few months getting familiar with how LibraryThing works and while just like Goodreads it’s not perfect I’m discovering that in some ways I like it better.

It’s a little more difficult to get the right data for my books but once it’s there and the way I want it it’s not going to get changed by someone else. Goodreads book data I editable by pretty much anyone and even when I had books with the covers and other data to match the edition I read, there was no guarantee that someone else with librarian privileges wouldn't come along and change that data. With LibraryThing I can make any modifications I want to my book records and they remain my book records. I like that because I’m compulsive about things like having the cover match the book I read and page numbering being correct. I also like some of the additional data elements I can track such as where I got the book, date acquired, etc. I can see where it would be information overload for lots of people but I’m a data person. I have multiple Excel spreadsheets I use to track my To Be Read list and reading. So this detail stuff is right up my alley.

I still have a lot of data cleanup on the 800+ books I imported to LibraryThing but now that I've finished out this year’s 75 Books Group the only reason I’m tracking the rest of this year’s books is for the yearly Reading Challenge. I’m not bothering to post any links to my reviews or any detail information. Once the year is done I’ll work on getting any information I need to clean up the books I imported to LibraryThing and delete my Goodreads account.

I've found a couple of groups on LibraryThing that I’m going to join for 2014. One is the 75 Books Challenge which intimidates me a bit since it's such an active group but I'm going to give it a try when the 2014 Challenge opens up.

The other group I already joined is “Root- Reading Our Own Tomes” which is a group that encourages reading the books I already have on the shelf and not just new and library books. When I reorganized my physical bookshelves last year I put all my unread books in one section and I have definitely added more than I've read off those shelves this year. I’m hoping that by setting a moderate goal and having some accountability to the ROOT group in 2014 I can counteract my tendency to get distracted by the new and shiny rather than going upstairs and grabbing something that I still want to read but haven’t yet.

I've also joined the What Are You Reading Now group because that’s what I need like another hole in my head – yet another source of book recommendations and chat, right?

I’m looking forward to exploring the social side of LibraryThing as well as tracking all my reading and books with some additional detail that I couldn't track with Goodreads.

Anyway. It’s been fun Goodreads, but it’s time to say Goodbye.

Click on this logo to get to my profile on LibraryThing

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Bout of Books 9.0 is coming in January and I'm in!

>> Monday, December 16, 2013

The Bout of Books is scheduled for January 6-12, 2014 and I can't wait.

Bout of Books

I've never been a fan of the weekend or 24 hour readathons because weekends are our time to get out and do things together and therefore not a good time for me to commit to devoting all or even most of my time to reading.

I decided to give the Bout of Books Readathon a try back in August because it sounded a little more low key and not quite to intense. I loved it and have been looking forward to the next one ever since.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I like that it's not asking for a commitment to completely put my life on hold to read. It's more flexible and about reading more than I normally do for a week. I can do that. I'm looking forward to it. I learned from the August event that I can set some goals for reading time every day that are more than I normally read and that participating in a couple of the daily challenges is fun but not overly time consuming.

I haven't set any specific goals for the Bout of Books yet but as I did last time, I'll plan on replacing some of my typical Twitter, Facebook and other online time sucks with reading.

There's plenty of time to check out the details and join in if you want.

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Weekend Update December 15, 2013

>> Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I haven’t finished any books since last week. I’m started Redemption (US title A Conspiracy of Faith) by Jussi Adler-Olsen. It’s definitely got me intrigued but I haven’t had nearly enough reading time to be able to spend any quality time with it. I hope to change that this afternoon,

I’m also still working on a graphic novel The Drops of God, Volume 3. I’m having a tough time getting involved in this third book in the series. I’ll finish it but I doubt I’ll continue with the series.

On audio I’m still listening to Children of the Storm by Elizabeth Peters. I just enjoy the heck out of this series and Barbara Rosenblat’s narration is wonderful.

Other than books and reading:

hummingbird

Our cold snap finally broke. I no longer have to bring the hummingbird feeder in overnight to thaw it out. The hummingbird is back to normal flying around instead of huddling in the privet bush trying to stay warm.
cold hummingbird

I managed to catch another amazing sunrise this week. This is definitely one of the benefits of getting to work early this time of year.
Sunrise at Waterfront Park

Yesterday went downtown and had a great day. First up was our annual photo with the Oregon Duck Mascot in his Santa outfit. We won’t have our photos for a few days but this is just a fun annual tradition for us.
Santa Duck

Next up was Tuba Christmas at Pioneer Square. Last year was the first year we went to this and I was glad the weather cooperated so we could go again this year. It’s just fun.



Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Weekend Cooking - Hot Buttered Rum Mix

>> Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Hot Buttered Rum Mix

When it's really cold out a good hot buttered rum drink can hit the spot. A bad hot buttered rum drink can be extremely disappointing.

The basic drink consists of a few spoonfuls of a batter mixed with rum and hot water. We learned from some friends that adding a spoonful of vanilla ice cream to the hot drink makes it extra delicious.

There are several kinds of pre-made batter available for purchase. Most of those I've tried haven't been very good. We used to be able to get a locally made batter mix that was excellent and only available during the holiday season but they stopped selling it a few years ago.

Last year I went on a search for a good Hot Buttered Rum Mix recipe. I found this recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Mix at Taste of Home that is designed to be a non-alcoholic version of the drink. It uses rum extract instead of alcohol for the flavoring.

What caught my eye was that it was made with ice cream and kept in the freezer between uses and since I already knew that ice cream makes Hot Buttered Rum even better I adapted it. I left out the rum extract and used real rum when I made the drinks.

Oh my, this is good and so delicious on a cold evening in front of a warm fire.

Hot Buttered Rum Batter Mix

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

*Note - to make non-alcoholic version add 1 teaspoon rum extract to the mix and make the drinks without adding rum.

Directions
butterbrown sugar and powdered sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
cream butter and sugars

Add the ice cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. This is also where you add the rum extract if you're making the non-alcoholic version. I don't use rum extract.

add ice cream, cinnamon and nutmeg


Pint of vanilla ice cream

Not all ice cream pints are actually pints (I'm looking at you, Haagen Dazs with your 14 oz 'pints")

mix togethertransfer to freezer container

Mix together and then transfer to a freezer container; freeze overnight. Makes 3-1/2 cups mix.

To prepare hot drink:

In a mug use 3-4 tablespoons of mix,
3 to 4 tablespoons of mix


 a shot of rum and boiling water; stir well.

a shot of rum

fill mug with boiling water and enjoy

Yield: 14-18 servings. This keeps well in the freezer and stays soft enough that it's easy to just fix a serving or two and put the rest back in the freezer until another time.

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Fables Vol. 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham et al.

>> Friday, December 13, 2013

Fables Vol. 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham et al.

Fables Vol. 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham et al.

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)
Series: #8 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 159
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Bigby Wolf returns then leaves on a secret mission that may ensure the safety of Fabletown and he’s not the only one on a secret mission.

Why I Read It:
I love this series and have since the very first volume. I've got The Hubster reading them along with me while I've got them out from the library. I’d speed through them much faster but I try to pace them out so he can read them too and we can stay at the same point in the series.

The Book:
This volume 8 is a compilation of issue 48-51 of the comic series.

Spoilers for previous books in the series are inevitable so be warned if you haven’t read this far in the series.

From the publisher:

Into the Woods

The community of Fables living undercover in our midst has endured plenty of suffering at the hands of their longtime antagonist, the Adversary. Now it's time to return the favor and put the would-be conqueror on notice that the cost of subjugating this last stronghold of independent magic will be higher than even he can bear. The one Fable who can accomplish this mission, however, has hidden himself away in the wild and will take some convincing if he can even be found. Luckily for Fabletown, there's something more than a trip behind enemy lines awaiting Bigby Wolf's return.

My Thoughts:
Yay! Bigby’s back! I’ve missed him in the past few volumes because I think (at this point at least) he’s my favorite character in Fables.

In the previous volume Mowgli was sent on a mission by Prince Charming to find Bigby Wolf and bring him home. It takes some doing but Mowgli succeeds. Bigby is immediately sent on a secret mission to the Cloud Kingdoms to enlist some help in finding where the Adversary is so that he can deliver a message from the Fables in New York.

I loved this volume. There was plenty of action both with Mowgli and Bigby. Catching up with Snow White and the cubs as they are growing up was fun. That helped put a time perspective on how long Bibgy has been gone. The big payoff I’ve been waiting for finally happened and it was wonderful.

Cinderella cracks me up! She was revealed as a spy for the New York Fables in an earlier volume and she is a big part of the story in this one. The final section features her in her diplomat role (which she hates) but she manages to get the job done (as I knew she would) with skill and a lot of humor. That section was drawn by Shawn McManus and while his artwork is clearly different from that of Mark Buckingham who drew the rest of this volume it manages to still have the same feel so there’s really not a break in continuity.

Several storylines came to either conclusions or points where they can comfortably hold. This sets this volume up as a major break in the story. Next up is a standalone volume and then a spin-off series with the exiled Jack picks up. Eventually that joins back up with the main Fables books so I’ll be switching back and forth between Fables and the Jack series for a bit.

A special add on to this volume was something I found quite interesting. It’s Bill Willingham’s script for the main story and it was fascinating to read through. It includes the dialog, and directions to the artists of what he has in mind so it’s a peek into the middle of the creative process between the writer and the artists. I loved reading it.

If you’re reading Fables, you’ll love this one, If you haven’t started Fables pick up Volume 1: Legends in Exile. Trust me on this.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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What’s In a Name 2014 Challenge

>> Thursday, December 12, 2013

What's in a Name 2014


As usual, this is the only blog related reading challenge I plan to commit to for next year. This has been my favorite challenge since the very first one back in 2008. Since then it’s been passed along to a different host and this year the torch is passed yet again. Beth Fish Reads who has hosted this challenge for several years posted a few weeks ago that she would be unable to continue hosting duties. Much to my relief Charlie from The Worm Hole has taken on the role of host for 2014. I’m so happy that this challenge lives on.

The Challenge is really pretty simple and you don’t have to list out specific books ahead of time. Sometimes I’ve ‘accidentally’ completed a category and only realized later that a book title qualified. It’s simply a matter of reading a book with something in the title that fits each of 5 categories.

Here’s how it works:

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets):
  • A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)
  • A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)
  • A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)
  • A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)
  • A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)

Extra information
  • Books can be any format (print, audio, ebook).
  • It’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges, but not a requirement at all.
  • Books cannot overlap categories (for instance my first example, Eleven Minutes, could be used for category 1 or 3 but not both).
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
  • You don’t have to make your list of books beforehand, you can choose them as you go.
  • You don’t have to read your chosen books in any particular order.

Once again I immediately started scouring my TBR list, shelves and library wishlists for titles that would work for these categories. I was able to pretty quickly identify options for most of the categories that are already on my shelf or TBR list. There always seems to be one category every year that ends up being harder for some reason. I cannot believe that I don’t have any books on my shelf or TBR list that fit the Weather category. That is actually kind of surprising to me. I’m not worried about it though. At some point before the end of 2014 I’ll find a book that will work.

I know you’re looking at the categories and thinking of what books you have that might fit. Admit it. You are, aren’t you? Why don’t you get yourself over to the Sign Up post at Charlie’s blog and join the fun.

One very important note that’s not included in the above information is that you do not have to have a blog to participate. You can use a Tumblr account, your Facebook page or just post in the comments on the category posts when Charlie has them up on her blog in January.

Here are the books I have initially listed as possibilities for each category. I may read something different but these are the ones I came up with fairly quickly: All of these are books that I've have for a long time but have been languishing on the shelf. I want to read them but for a million reasons have just not pulled them off the shelf yet.

A reference to time – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

A position of royalty – The Princess Bride.

A number written in letters – A Thousand Splendid Suns

A forename or names – Serena

A type or element of weather – I have no ideas at this point for this category but something will come along


Oh come on – click on over to The Worm Hole and join the fun.

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Wordless Wednesday #216

>> Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Breakfast time

Anna's Hummingbird in December
click on image for larger version


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What's in a Name 6 Challenge Completed

>> Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I have officially completed the What's In A Name 6 Challenge.

What's in a Name 6

What’s In a Name 6

This is the only challenge I committed to for 2013. It’s been my favorite challenge from its very first incarnation. I was so happy when Beth Fish Reads took over the reins and has kept this challenge alive and fun. I was sad to hear that she won't be hosting in in 2014 but fortunately the Challenge lives on (more about that later this week).

For this year’s challenge readers were once again required to read 6 books. The books had to be chosen based on words their titles matching up with the six categories. I managed to find books to fit most of the categories from within books I already had on my TBR list. Some of the categories were harder than others but they were all fun to pick which book to use.

Here are the books I read for each category (links are to my reviews):

A book with a "up or down" in the title: She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel. A quirky and interesting memoir.

A book with "something you'd find in your kitchen" in the title: Orange Crush by Tim Dorsey. Another crazy romp through Florida with Serge Storms.

A book with a "party or celebration" in the title: Skeletons at the Feast by Cheis Bohjalian. A story of refugees fleeing the Russian army across the remnants of Nazi Germany.

A book with a “fire (or equivalent)" in the title: Burning for Revenge by John Marsden. Fifth in a series about Australian teens behind the lines in their occupied homeland

A book with an "emotion" in the title: Envy the Night by Michael Koryta. This is typical Macomber feel good predictable fare but only barely connected to her Blossom Street series.

A book with "lost or found (or equivalent)" in the title: The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins. Second in his series featuring Quinn Colson who is one of my favorite literary heroes.

Big thanks to Beth Fish Reads for a fun and interesting challenge and thanks for hosting it for the past few years.

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Weekend Update December 8, 2013

>> Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished reading Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian. It follows a group of refugees across the remnants of Germany near the end of World War II. Although tough to read in spots it was very good.

I had to follow that up with a total change of pace so I turned to graphic novels. I read the 8th volume in the Fables series called Wolves. This one focused mostly on Snow White and Bigby Wolf and a bit of fun involving Cinderella too.

Next up I started The Drops of God, Volume 3. This series from Japan follows an ongoing competition about finding and tasting wines. It’s OK but I think this might be the last in the series for me. It’s becoming repetitive and three volumes in and they’re still on the first of 12 wines is moving the story along too slowly.

Today I plan to start the third book in Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series. The US title is A Conspiracy of Faith but my print copy is the UK Edition with the title Redemption. I’m looking forward to getting back to this series. I want to get this one read because the fourth book is due out at the end of this month.

On audio I’m still listening to Children of the Storm by Elizabeth Peters. As always it’s just a lot of fun. The mystery is intersesting but I’m really enjoying that for the first time in many books most of the extended family is together in Egypt. I’ve never read any of the print editions of this series but I highly recommend the audios.

Other than books and reading:
It’s cold.

too cold for me
Too cold for me
Not as cold as other parts of the country and not as cold as even other parts of Oregon but it’s still way colder than I want to deal with on any kind of long term basis.

Somehow we ended up with absolutely nothing on our calendar for this weekend. Once I realized that I protected it as best as I could. Yesterday after working out in the morning we just stayed inside where it was warm and I watched football and read all day. It was wonderful. This afternoon we need to watch Iron Man 3 because it’s due back to the library tomorrow.

Browsing my phone photos from this week:
We got all the Christmas decorating done inside and out last weekend.
Partylite Christmas Village
The new addition this year is the church that matches my Partylite village. These are so pretty at night with the tealight candles burning inside.

We’ve only had one cat-induced décor destruction incident (so far).
The work of Howie and Abby
redecorating by Howie and Abby
Some days working from home is a little more challenging than others.
Abby helps me work


My latest knitting project is cotton washcloths. I like the way this pattern and texture looks.
Knitted washcloth


Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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