Monday, March 31, 2008

Music Monday - I LOVE Online Radio

I will admit it, Iam easily bored with repetitive music. I can not listen to the same old CDs over and over again. I need variety, spice, something different from time to time.

For that reason, it seems more economical for me to find ways to listen to the radio than to try and buy enough CDs to keep my interest. I have found two sites recently that I absolutely adore and so I thought I would point them out here in case anyone else needs something to listen to.

First, if you find yourself easily annoyed at the pre-fab radio stations that play one song you like for every 5 you can't stand, give Pandora a shot. This online radio station allows you to pick an artist or even a single song and build a playlist around it of songs or artists that you enjoy.

Next, if you are feeling that you need a bit of a spiritual boost, Moody Radio is doing some neat things. They have 3 new audio channels; Inspiration, Majesty and Conference. I have been listening to the Inspiration Channel an find that it puts a gentile happy spin on my day when it is quietly playing in the background while I work. The songs are great and incredibly uplifting. I have not tried the other two audio channels yet, but am anxious to do so when I have some more free time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Book Review - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Wow. . .great book for sci-fi fans! My first taste of the wonders of science-fiction came when I saw Star Wars as a kid. I went to see it when it first came out camped in the back of my parents van at the drive-in. Since those days, I have enjoyed the occasional sci-fi book, television show or movie but don't usually seek them out. I plan to read this entire series.

I actually had this book setting around on a shelf for just as bit, as it came when I was in the middle of about 3 other books. Since I was already reading other books, I recommended this to DS who needed something to read in his 4 hour detention, and he read it all in a day. Not only did he read it in a day, but he immediately asked for the next book in the series.

I would bet that if you enjoyed the Matrix, Star Wars, or either Battlestar Galactica series, you will enjoy this very easy to read book. Ender is one of the youngest heros I have read, but he is interesting and very engaging. I found myself sucked in and invested in the characters and the games they played.

Although it can be read on a very surface level, this is also a very smart book. I found myself really amazed at the depth of deception of the adults in this book and started thinking about all the ways the tactics described in the book may be used on people. And for a sci-fi book, I was amazed at the depth of feeling I experienced while reading. My emotions went from deep sadness over Ender having to leave his family to intense outrage over the war situation.

This is one award winning book (1986 Hugo Award and the 1985 Nebula Award) that I highly recommend to readers young and old.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fasting for Healthy Mind and Body

A few weeks ago my DB challeneged me to take part in a fast with him. I wasn't excited about it, but told him I would do it. DD is also doing it, and her only stipulation was that we wait until after her birthday and Easter to start.

So it is that I find myself this morning beginning a 20 day fast. We are doing the Daniel Fast, which is basically only fruit, veggies, nuts and water. No animal products, yeast, or caffine, of course it is the latter that has me the most sad this morning. I LIVE on coffee, I drink it all day long in fact. I guess anything I am that dependant on must go, before it becomes some kind of idol, but boy this is harder than I thought it would be and it isn't 9 am yet!

I am interested to see if I feel any healthier or if some of my bad sugar and wheat addictions are cured after this fast. I did the Atkins Diet 5 years ago and stuck with it for a couple of years and lost 50 pounds, and I know from that experience that once you get a week in, the cravings for sugar and carbohydrates do leave. I am also taking this time to try and become more spiritual. I want to focus on my faith and my family just a bit more. I will be documenting my spiritual journey in my daily devotional blog.

Here's to a quick and successful 20 days!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thankful for the Moments

Driving in to work this morning I found myself a bit misty over a song on the radio. DD is a country music fan, truth be told, I can take it or leave it, but she had the dial tuned to the country station and I didn't feel like lifting my arm and changing the station. I found myself listening to the song "Moments" by Emerson Drive and tearing up a bit.

I found myself thinking back to those "moments" in my life and wanting to document and remember and celebrate them. I found myself wishing I had a picture for each of those moments in my life that I need to take time to reflect on and remember. I found myself smiling and for one small moment, shutting out all the negative voices in my head and focusing on the positive. I found myself thinking of and thanking God for the blessings in my life. . .my faith, my family, my friends, my house, my job. I found myself very thankful for another day and another opportunity to mean something to someone. I found myself this morning in a country song.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Birthday Post

Since DM and DF are still my most regular readers, I am posting one more Sweet 16 birthday pic for them.

After a full weekend of partying, I believe we are finally done celebrating DDs birthday. We gave her a present last night, jewelry seemed most appropriate, (since a car was out of the question) and took her to dinner at the restaurant of her choice. She said that only Bennigan's would be decorated and festive enough so off we went. DH was happy to have a green beer to celebrate the day and we all had their new appitizer, the Monte Cristo Egg Rolls and each ordered a sandwhich. All in all, I think that even though DD won't be able to drive on her own for several months, she had a very nice birthday and is feeling pretty special.

It may just take DH and I a year to recover and be ready for the next one.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Sweet 16 DD!

It is hard to believe that 16 years ago today at this time (7:50 am CST) I was welcoming into this world one of two really amazing kids. It is also pretty amazing how fast time really does fly! 16 years of great times and great memories.

We partied all weekend. We started on Friday night with a sweet 16 slumber party. There was a theatrical theme, complete with movies and popcorn. The girls had a good time, and Mom and Dad even got some sleep.

Yesterday we took the kids and in-laws to Medieval Times. We had more fun than any of us expected. If you get the chance to visit this display of a time long gone, I highly recommend a visit. Of course it is a bit cheesy, but even my too cool DS had to admit to a good time. The horses are great, the actors are ok, but the fight scenes while obviously fake are better than I expected and were well done. Also, DH had warned us that the food would be small and not very good, and while it wasn't great, it was not horrible and no one went home hungry.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cafe Thursday - Cooking a Whole Chicken

I sometimes forget how easy it is to cook a chicken that is delicious for my family.

I bought a very nice, all natural, non-antibiotic whole chicken at the grocery store last week and we enjoyed that chicken for dinner last night. I had planned to roast it, as I found a couple of really nice recipes on blogs that I read regularly, one at Cheap Healthy Good and one at All However, I knew that my Wednesday evening was going to be pretty hectic, so I decided to give the old crock pot a try. Am I ever glad I did.

I took my 5 lb whole chicken, threw on some salt, pepper, seasoning salt, onion salt, garlic powder and a carton of chicken stock all in the crock pot, covered it, and set it on low for about 8 hours. The smell in the kitchen when I got home from work was almost better than the chicken itself. I simply washed and cut up a few potatoes and set them to boil while I nuked a can of corn and we had a darn quick meal that was not too shabby.

I am on a mission today to find some more cheap and easy crock pot gems that will make my life easier. If you have any great links or blogs or posts, send them my way.

Book Review - One For the Money

I have been wanting to read one of these books for a long time, I just keep forgetting to pick them up. But I found myself in a long checkout line at the grocery store and they had this book right there, so I dropped it in my bucket. I am glad I did.

I knew as soon as I read the back of the jacket and found out that the heroine, Stephanie Plum, was from Newark, NJ that I was going to like this book. I was not wrong. I knew lots of "Jersey girls" when I lived there, and Stephanie Plum fits the description of all of them. She is so similar to many of my friends that I was picturing them as the lead through most of the book. From the high hair to the biker shorts, Stephanie is as real as they come.

In summary, the characters were believable, even likeable, the plot moved along and the setting was perfect. I really liked this little mystery and am already looking forward to reading Two for the Dough. . .

Finally Friday fun - With the Flu?

I have the flu today, and it is really kicking my behind! I got it last night after I got home from work and it had me in my bed by 6:30 pm. I felt like a truck hit me! I did not have any stomache trouble, it just started with a scratchy throat and by 6:30 had progressed to full body aches and a pounding head and feeling like I needed an ice shower.

I quickly took some medicine and went to bed. One dose didn't do it, but after taking another dose this morning and a nap I am much better. I feel like I have a head cold now, but the debilitating body aches are gone. What medicine did I use? The one that always seems to cure me within 24 hours, Vicks NiQuel Cold and Flu. I have been using it for years and it has never let me down.

A friend of mine wanted me to try some of her Colloidal Silver, but I was a bit skeptical. Even more so after reading about Paul Karason, you know, the blue guy, on some news sites.

How about you? How do you fight colds and the flu?

Restaurant Review - The Stray Dog

I have found another winner in the restaurant department and impressed DD at the same time. . .a perfect win/win situation.

We were travelling from the Chicago area to the middle of Michigan, and stumbled upon a wonderful little place that will now be a regular stop for us on these trips. Located right off of Exit 1 in New Buffalo, Michigan along US94, The Stray Dog is the perfect place to stop for food and drink if you are taking this popular route. I suspect that on summer weekend nights this is quite the place to hang out, as it is located right on Lake Michigan. On a cold winter night however, it was the perfect place to catch a drink and a fish taco.

On a recent trip to Florida my DS fell in love with a little place called The Old Salty Dog, and it could just be a coincidence, but I find it interesting that indeed this new place in Michigan also has a deep fried hot dog. It is a good thing I have taken up running again or there is just no way I could eat a fried hotdog. . .but well. . .sometimes a little splurge is ok.

Book Review - Bag of bones by Stephen King

Bag of Bones is only my second Stephen King novel, my first thriller, and I liked it far more than I expected. The only other King novel I have read is On Writing, which is hardly comparable. However, it is because I loved On Writing so much that I dared to give one of his other novels a chance.

I should start by explaining that I have always been a chicken. Since I was young I have had an almost unnatural fear of the dark, and the only horror movie I have been able to watch with my eyes open has been Jaws. So while I have wanted to read a King book for sometime, I have only found the courage recently to actually dive in and give it a shot. And, while the book did not keep me up at night, I did find that I was listening for strange noises in the silence a bit more than before I read the book.

Overall, I really liked this book and found enough mystery, suspense and "things that go bump in the night" to keep me wondering and turning pages until the very end. I also like that in both books I have read by King he treats the reader like an old college friend. I feel as if I know the author and I trust him enough to hang in even though the number of pages seems like more of an investment than a cheap thrill.

Also, while I really like how King includes lots of references to other works of literature and fiction, I can understand why someone who does not read much may not enjoy a King novel as much as the avid reader. These references, while not critical too understanding the story or main plot, add so much flavor to the writing that it would be a real shame to not understand them.

I am anxious now to add other Stephen King novels to my reading list, so if you have any recommendations about where to start please let me know.