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what I've been reading lately | february


My reading goals for 2017: Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge and read 100 New Books in 2017. I'm also linking up, monthly with Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've Been Reading Lately. The following list are the books I've been reading from 15 January - 15 February 2017.

41DNuJfahyLThe Martian by Andy Weir. I will admit I watched the movie first. And, I'm glad I did. Truly, I am not sure I would have made it through the fictional journals of fictional astronaut Mark Watney while stranded on Mars without having the visual representation the movie offered. Granted, this is a hugely entertaining novel, funny in fact in many places, gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat-what-is-he-going-to-have-to-deal-with-next suspenseful intensity, but the scientific lingo would have been tough to swallow without having 'seen' it for myself. This is one time I am so glad I watched the movie first. While I couldn't be certain, I believe it made the book better. Some of my favorite lines when I laughed out loud: "Everything went great right up to the explosion!" "Damn it Jim, I'm a botanist not a chemist!" This one was in the movie too, " It's awesome to have a bunch of dipsh*ts on Earth telling me, a botanist, how to grow plants. I mostly ignore them. I don't want to come off as arrogant here, but I'm the best botanist on the planet." The Martian also earned favorite of the month.

51TkHNogRMLBeautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Ah - no! I should have known by the title but I was sent to a blog raved about by another reading blogger I love. I went through the bloggers favorite books of 2016 and this one was on the list along with some really good books. There was way, way to much s*x. I suppose the writing was okay but honestly it was hard to tell from all the steamy scenes I had to skim by. There was little story and read like a steamy harlequin romance. Definitely will not be buying anymore of these types of books. Not my cup of tea.




51+fIKU-U2LZero Day by David Baldacci. This is the first in the John Puller series. I am a brand new reader of Baldacci and after reading The Memory Man I hoped I would like more of his books. I absolutely do! This was an intricately woven criminal-investigator suspense thriller. I love the main character, an Army Criminal Investigator who handles specialty cases, who has done multiple combat tours and is a Ranger. I'm positive I'll pick up many more of his books in this series and anything else he has written. Since this is my Mom's favorite author [I think] - all the better.




41vD932YKVLA Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I loved Emily's Simply Tuesday. One of my favorite books in 2016 even. I struggled to connect with this one though. I think books, even some non-fiction books, are meant for us for seasons, or at a particular time. I'm not sure this one is for me at this time. Although, I find myself desiring something more in my life. Hoping I'll find in me what it is God has designed - for this season. Yes, the book was somewhat endearing and yes, I took notes and marked up pages and dog-earred others. But, I didn't come away from it feeling like it meant something for me.



51UsUob-5ULVeronica Mars and The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. Amazon says, "Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined. In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark, with sharp plots and clever twists.  Yep, I agree. I like it! Extremely easy to read while at the same time cunning and piercing. It's not a literary masterpiece but lots of fun.

517I2RO8x+LWatership Down by Richard Adams. Wonderful! I listened to this after reading Modern Mrs. Darcy's post on Audible. My Kindle Fire already had the Audible app loaded so that is how I listened to the free gift. I loved this book (audio). The author used to make up stories for his daughters during long car rides in the English countryside and this tale is one of those stories. True, it is about rabbits but these rabbits have thoughts and can speak, yet their actions and behaviors, how they live are solely - rabbit. There is death, and fear, and love within the story, Watership Down.




51eYqSeYwdLIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson. I read this for the 2017 Reading Challenge: a book about a topic you already love. It's is meteorology at it's barest, earliest, and roughest forms. The investigative techniques and narrative in which Larson crafted from thousands of sources of the killing hurricane in 1900 that besieged the thriving, busting gulf city of Galveston, Texas, and translates them into a gripping story, is truly inspiring. It is a ripping account of the United States Weather Bureau in it's infancy, with a wondering, "how did we (meteorologists and me) finally gain ground?" But, the telling of the storm from the accounts of a ships log, to the description of the storm as it set its sights on Galveston was detailed and exciting reading. Although not my favorite book of the month it was definitely in the top five.


51GesqDmCBLThe Last Mile by David BaldacciConvicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.
Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.
The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? But when a member of Decker's team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger--and more sinister--than just one convicted criminal's life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower [he has hyperthymesia] to stop an innocent man from being executed - Amazon. So, so good. When I can use the words, "I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!" at least once in a book - yes! Baldacci's books are rapidly becoming favorites and I can't wait to read more! 

41o7yXZPwfLCold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.
I think this is Shauna's first book. It's, to me, a collection of stories, a spiritual memoir of sorts about everyday life, but, that everyday life and God woven in...and out...and in. I was most encouraged by Shauna's real life personal experience with God, not Shauna on a pedestal but the Shauna that makes mistakes, sometimes for a long time, and then gets it right. It is honesty and hope and redemption. It is really good reading.

52 Gratitudes 2017 | 6


For the past three out of four years (2013) (2014) (2015) and now in (2017) I have been, and I am, documenting each week something I am grateful to God for, something I am thankful for. It's not difficult because it is usually an extensive list to choose from. Sometimes, what is difficult is capturing it on film. 

Originally, I would have just been thankful that Jarrod was off work so he was able to drive Jeff to Ft Stewart for his follow up appointment after his surgery. It meant I didn't have to take a day off, using vacation pay, to do this. Sure, I would have, but I'm thankful I didn't have to take that day.

But then, after the appointment they drove my way and picked up Zaxby's for lunch for themselves and brought me a salad, too. It wasn't planned, nor expected. But, I'm seriously thankful for the lunch. I think the salad was all the more delicious because of the gift from my guys.

52 Gratitudes 2017 | 5


My stash of books is growing rapidly, although I haven't hit that purchase button on Amazon in a while now. But, my cart is beyond full. I am averaging two books a week and loving every minute of that time. I am so thankful for the books I've already read, many I might read again someday or at least refer to. Especially those non-fiction books I've written in, dog-earred, and underlined to remind me something important was said.

I am thankful for the books on my shelves still to read. For the hours and hours of derived pleasure, for exploring other realms, foreign places, intriguing characters, stellar creativity by genius authors, exciting story lines, and compelling series'. I thank God who has gifted them all with the talents to take us to other places and times.

52 Weeks of Giving | 8


In pursuit of nourishing a heart of giving [nourish is my One Little Word for 2017], I have been deliberately, purposefully, searching for ways to give more. Give of my time, give of my resources, give from my heart.  This is about giving generously, not reluctantly, but out of the full measure of giving from the gifts God has given to me. 

This week, I put together two blessing bags. I contacted Morgan, the director of The Dream Campaign, a non-profit organization here in the area who are coaching, speaking into the lives, changing underprivileged kids' dreams for the better. A 'side' ministry are blessing bags for teen girls who have nothing, who can barely afford to eat let alone purchase feminine type products (which we all know are not cheap!).

Putting these bags together did my heart so good! Thank you Lord for the opportunity and the gifts You give first!


recipe | angel hair with roasted red pepper sauce


I've experimented with many flavors and challenging my family's palette. One of our favorite recipes is a Rotisserie chicken with roasted red peppers and pesto fettuccini; one of our all-time favorite dishes, hands down. So, it isn't surprising when I say we love the flavor of roasted red peppers.

I thought, because of that recipe, I'd have some idea as to the taste of this new recipe, Angel Hair pasta with roasted red pepper sauce. But, this sauce. Oh my! This sauce goes way beyond simply savoring the smokey and sweet flavor of roasted red peppers nestled in tender rotisserie chicken with a burst of fresh basil. This sauce takes two jars of roasted red peppers with their lightly charred skins, combined with a handful of garlic, and pulsed together. The pungent garlic with the sweet, smoke, and char of the red peppers. Decidedly amazing! Rotisserie chicken and pesto. Eat your heart out.

And that doesn't even come close to finishing the fusion of flavors; a little spice here, some finely diced onion there, and give it one little kick...

While I would have been satisfied with a meatless, angel hair pasta with roasted red pepper sauce, my family are meat lovers in need of sustenance. I decided to go hearty - and big on spice - and flavor. At the last minute, in the final stir-to-combine, I added half-mooned slices of lightly browned Andouille sausage. But, let me be honest; the sausage is not necessary. If you go sausage-less but still want the spice, add in 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red peppers. But, you could definitely go meatless. Or, you could add rotisserie chicken pieces.

And, did I mention it has chipotle sauce in it, too!

Friday, with a cup of coffee | 20


Photo Source

It's been awhile since I shared some internet space. These have been on my backlist brewing for several weeks. Please enjoy the time. Maybe, with a cup of coffee...

On making friends.

Guts, grace, grit, and gratitude. I love this post on a scrapbooking plan for 2017.

The closer Abraham drew to God, the more unsettled his life became. It reminds me of a piece I read once about Mother Theresa. I'm not sure what question was posed but her answer was something to the effect, 'the closer I get to God, the more I see my sinful self.' I'm sure her intentions weren't for us to draw away from God because the road would be harder as we were drawn closer to God, but, instead, to make it clear that an unsettled life was inevitable in Christ. On a faithful life. While this post didn't necessarily speak about sin...I just wanted to share.

What I've been thinking about too? Setting a grace table. Choosing empathy - and loving mercy.

Here comes the rain.

Words I think of each morning as I head out on the sixth floor at work and watch the sun rise.

Achingly compelling and beautiful.

Considering reviving my liking of indoor plants. Here's a great article to get me started.

Do you bullet journal? Here's some empowering bullet lessons.

Love listens. "Attention is the rarest and highest form of generosity."

one thousand gifts | warm house


Acknowledging gifts. Turns frowns upside down. Cheesy statement, but changing the attitude of the mind and the heart also changes our actions and reactions. Before gifts, discontentment, heartache, heartbreak, sadness, frustration, silliness, waywardness, ungratefulness. After gifts, recognizing God's hand in each individual act, measure of gift, goodness, blessing changes us from the inside out. Not only for that moment, or moments, but when we reflect, these gifts become like Ebenezer's, stones of remembrance of the goodness, the blessed-ness of God, in His in-fine-ite MERCY.

0173. a new Bible study

0174. declaring the glory of the Lord through giving

0175. beautiful shelves left to be hung

0176. unexpected compliment

0177. the cooler temperatures after a long run of rather warm

0178. being told I was a good Bible study teacher

0179. time, lots of time with the Lord

0180. a mostly clean house

0181. a husband in pursuant of cherishing his wife

0182. listening to a book on Audible - the blessings of technology

0183. cooler temperatures, warm house

0184. empty laundry baskets

0185. successful surgery

0186. recuperation

0187. those things that are saving my life right now, changing my outlook, adjusting my attitude

0188. a busy morning that made time fly

0189. good conversation with friends, laughter, fun, and good food.

0190. a couple good back and forth texts with a dear sweet lady and a new, sweet lady.



Project Life 2017 | Week 5


I'm keeping up.

Can you believe it?

Surprised me, too.

Now, that I've said it I'll probably get behind (insert snarky chuckle). But, let's hope not. I kinda' like having a record of our year so far.

Biggest thing for me right now: don't stress over a 2-page versus 1-page.

If I only have enough for a 1-page than that's what I'm doing.

So, this week is 1-page only. That is so okay! I love the 'blues' I used for cohesiveness. Utilized a Paislee Press 12 x 12 template plus smaller templates and brushes, and pieces from various Ali Edwards' Story kits and a Sahlin Studio Design journal card.

Feelings shared, books read, food we devoured, and surgery. Tough week but we came through it.

right now | the page


A few days ago I posted a RIGHT NOW post about what was saving my life. Those things giving life rather than those things that are killing me. Sure, I could do a post ranting about what is killing me but it is about a mind change, turning away from discontentment to contentment, moving from ungratefulness to a heart of gratitude; instead of the woes, worries, and pains get down to the nuts and bolts of what's saving me. It was an exercise in happy, contentment, gratitude, joy, - all positives of life - the little things and the big things.

It's not unlike journaling your gratitudes or writing out one thousand gifts.

After that post, I knew I wanted to make a scrapbook page of that blog post. I wanted a record of the RIGHT NOW. And too, because this is part of my story. I will be the first to admit I can get into a funk and if I do not actively engage a heart of gratitude, what is saving my life, writing down gifts, blessings back to God, speak positive truth - I can spiral out of control until all I can see is what's killing me. Great lessons, regularly, re-shape our mind and hearts and thus, our actions.

Digitally: This is a 12 x 12 page. I began with an Ali Edwards' template but I ended up having to modify it somewhat; but the general layout design has been unaltered. Then I used One Little Bird Designs papers and embellishments plus from the  Ali Edwards' ME Story kit I used the RIGHT NOW stamp. I originally thought I would use more photos of 'what is saving my life' but, then thought it was more the words versus the photos telling the story.

2017 Reading Challenge | a book about a topic you already love


My selection for the 2017 Reading Challenge, reading for fun category: a book about a topic you already love

51eYqSeYwdLIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson. As a meteorologist I was intrigued by the early understandings of meteorology, and even, what people considered, hoped for, of meteorologists. The meteorology, how Larson approached discussing in layman's terms, the raw meteorological side of the hurricane was superb. Interestingly, meteorologists determined accurately that storm surge was the most damaging and deadliest aspect of a hurricane. While there were some slow points of the historical account, I was most impressed by the compilation of the use of thousand's of sources into an avid, visual representation of the events before and after the 1900 Galveston hurricane that rocked the country.

If anything, this book made me, as a meteorologist, appreciate the advancements made withing the field of weather forecasting and prediction. But, and this is a hearty but, there is nothing compared to the the hardened skills, educated science, the personal application that comes from the person - the meteorologist. All the computer models, all the advancements of technology cannot replace what the meteorologist sees with the naked eye. A computer, not piece of equipment cannot tell you those early signs of advancing weather. Only the meteorologist can, who sees it for himself.

Very good book.