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Showing posts from December, 2010

What's in a Name Challenge!

What? Yet another reading challenge? Uh, but this is a neat one. What's in a Name Challenge! tests participants to find and read books that fit its six different categories. And, these are thinking-outside-of-the-box categories. For instance, one category is called "a book with a number in the title." Interesting, no? Participants only need to read one book in each category, and we have all of 2011 to complete the quest. This challenge is hosted by Beth Fish who blogs at Beth Fish Reads . For more details about the What's in a Name Challenge! , click here .   As usual, I already have my list of titles for the challenge, culled from my 2011 Reading List . Here you go: A book with a number in the title: At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: The Clue of the Broken Locket by Carolyn Keene A book with a size in the title: A Little Too Much Is Enough by Kathleen Tyou A book with travel or movement in the title: Travels with Zen

Foodie's Reading Challenge for 2011

I like to read cookbooks. Reading recipes is often times just as creatively satisfying as preparing them. So, it isn't surprising when I tell you that I also like to read stories and memoirs that revolve around food. Uh-huh. What better reading challenge for this joyous aspect of reading then the...wait for it... Foodie's Reading Challenge hosted by Margot who blogs Joyfully Retired . Like most reading challenges, participants choose their own goals. The Foodie's Reading Challenge has five levels—Nibbler, Bon Vivant, Epicurean, Gourmet, and Glutton. For more details about this challenge, head over to here . My goal is to complete the Bon Vivant level. These are the books I hope to read for the challenge.  Yes, indeed, they are part of my list of 70. For those of you who are new to me, you can click here for my personal reading throw down. Glazed Murder: A Donut Shop Mystery by Jessica Beck Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain M

Hometown Challenge

Who doesn't like to read books about her hometown or region? Okay, maybe not you over there. But, for everyone else with their arms up, here's a reading challenge you'll like. Simply called Hometown Challenge , it's hosted by Kris who blogs at Not Enough Books   and Outwardly Pleasant . She also hosts the annual Cozy Mystery Challenge that starts in April, which I did last year. The Hometown Challenge started in September and runs through the end of August 2011. Anyone can sign-up any time before August 1, 2011. There are four levels to the challenge—Tourist, Relocation, Local, and Founder. Kris's rules are quite flexible, so if a person lives in a small town, such as I do, she can choose books that take place in her county or nearby big cities.  For more details about this reading challenge, click here . I'm electing to read books only that take place in my town and county— Hollister (San Benito County) California . Being a small city and county, I'm aimin

Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2011

When it comes to me seeking reading challenges, it's a given that I will search for a cozy mystery challenge. Success! If you're into cozy mysteries and reading challenges, check out Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2011 hosted by Yvonne who blogs Socrates' Book Review . The challenge runs from January to December, 2011. Participants can choose one of three levels—snoop, investigator, and super sleuth—for which to aim. For more details about the Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge , click here .  Not sure what a cozy mystery is? Then click over to . I'm signing up for the "investigator" level, which means I will need to read between 7 and 12 cozy mystery titles. My goal for the challenge is to read the 11 titles listed below in alphabetical order, which are part of my 2011 Reading List . Glazed Murder: A Donut Shop Mystery by Jessica Beck Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carli

The 2011 TBR Pile Challenge

The 2011 TBR (to be read) Pile Challenge is one of several reading challenges I will join this year. This challenge is hosted by the Roof Beam Reader aka Adam who says that he is "one of the 5% minority - a male book blogger!" The goal of this challenge, according to the Roof Beam Reader, is "to finally read 12 books from your 'to be read' pile, within 12 months." All 12 books that a participant reads must have been on her shelf for at least one year. Tomorrow is the deadline for signing up, which involves listing the 12 titles to be read and, if desired, two alternate titles in case one can't stand reading one or two books on her list. To learn more about the TBR Pile Challenge , click here . Here are my 12 titles in ABC order, with publication dates for the Roof Beam Reader. Sink or swim, I'm reading them, so no alternates for me. Will I regret that? We shall see. Around the World with a King by William N. Armstrong (1995) Six Months in the San

Reading for Fun 2011

"Don't read so much," the mama said to me, standing in my doorway. "You'll go crazy." She said that to me a long time ago when as a kid I had again lain too long on my bed reading yet another book. I'm sure what she meant was something like "Go play outdoors!" Did I lay my book down and go outside? I doubt it. Since the husband and I moved to Hollister seven summers ago, I haven't done much book reading for fun. Most of my reading has been research for work. I want to change that in 2011. The last few days, I've been pulling books from the bookshelves and the various book piles throughout the house. Those plus the ones I got for my last birthday come up to 70 books. Soooooo, I shall be reading 70 books in 2011. It's not so bad though. About a third of them are children's books, which is still one of my favorite types of books to read. To see my list of 70, please click here . To make my reading quest even more fun, as well as to

Shopping for the Unknown X's

Today's letter is " X ." Last week , I told you that the husband and I decided to have some fun with the x mas presents for each other.  E x aggerating the use of the mathematical terms, it went like this: $10.00 = total e x pense we each would spend x ≥ 5 presents (In other words, 5 or more gifts) How did we do? E x cellently!  X -wise, we found that x = Si x e x ceptional gifts! We shopped downtown, going in opposite directions. Amazingly, we each finished before the time allowed: 60 minutes – x minutes = 45 minutes My e x penses: $9.95.  At the thrift store, I found a Michael Crichton novel and a booklet about Oregon caves, which was published in the era when the husband worked there during the summers of his college days. Because the husband is a visual artist, I purchased water colors and a couple of brushes at the art supply store. ( Hint, hint, the husband. ) At our favorite drugstore, I bought Post-it notes for his note-taking and a box of Milk Duds for the ne

Result: The All Things Alcott Challenge

Back in November , I signed up for the All Things Alcott Challenge .  Because it was during the last six weeks on the challenge, my goal would be to read one book by or about Louisa May Alcott. I'm sorry to say that I didn't make my objective.  I read the Wikipedia article about Ms. Alcott's life and read one short story, "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving." The Wikipedia article about Ms. Alcott is a great introduction to her fascinating life.  Here are five facts about her: Ms. Alcott was born on her father's birthday. Her father was Amos Bronson Alcott, one of the founders of American Transcendentalism . One of Ms. Alcott's teachers was Henry David Thoreau, author of Civil Disobedience . She wrote novels that Wikipedia describes as "passionate, fiery novels and sensational stories," which perhaps would be categorized today as Chick Lit. The character "Laurie" in Little Women may have been based on Ladislas Wisniewski, a young Polish man

Merry Christmas!

I almost forgot to post a Christmas song. The husband and I just finished wrapping presents. Yes, I know. Anyway, I've accomplished my goal: Post a Christmas song a day until Christmas. Here's the list of the past 24 Christmas songs that I've posted (I'm too pooped to give you links. Sorry. But, click here to go to the 25 Christmas Songs category: "Christmas Time is Here Again" performed by the Beatles  "Jingle Bells" sung by Ella Fitzgerald "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" sung by Bruce Springsteen "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" performed by Gayla Peevey "Mele Kalikimaka!" sung by Bing Crosby "Jingle Bells" performed by Glenn Miller and Orchestra "Carol of the Bells" performed by Jake Shimabukuro "Up on the Housetop" sung by Gene Autrey "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" performed by Randy Granger "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" sung by Brenda Lee "O Holy Night&

The Mystery of the Christmas Presents

Sitting on our doorstep are two Christmas bags that someone left on our doorstep. The husband and I found it when we came home yesterday evening. Somebody must've come by when the mama was sweeping leaves in her garden. We brought them in and looked for tags to identify the givers. One said "Delsa" and the other said "Happy Thanksgiving." Obviously, someone left the presents at the wrong house. So, of course the husband and I headed back outside and knocked on a few neighbors' doors. No luck at all.  Nobody was home at the house where we think the intended giftee lives. And, the other neighbors couldn't help us. All we can do is try again come morning. We set the presents on the doorstep in case the ones who left them finally realize they got the wrong house and come back for them. I surely hope they do.  The paranoid part of me wonders if the presents contain contraband or a bomb. But, I suppose if it was the latter, we would've heard something ti

The Final 23rd Date of 2010

Later today, the husband and I will be off on our twelfth 23rd date. I admit that I'm impressed that we did honor last year's Christmas gift to each other.  Every 23rd of the month, we dropped everything and took off for an afternoon or a whole day. We drove back roads we've always wanted to explore. We hiked unfamiliar parks, strolled along beaches, and wandered in nearby cities. When it rained, we took ourselves to movies and, on one occasion, to the Egyptian museum. I wrote about some of our adventures, which you can find here , if you're interested. Our final 23rd date of the year will be a shopping adventure. Yep, shopping. The activity the husband probably dislikes to do the most. But, it is time for us to do some Christmas shopping for each other, so why not on our 23rd date. To make it fun, we made a few rules. We can only spend $10. Uh-huh, ten bucks, including taxes. We must purchase at least 5 items for each other. No handmade items allowed.  Handmade coupons

ABC and Outdoor Wednesday: Winter

Today letter is "W." This is what winter looks like in my part of the world. These are the low mountains of the Diablo Range that makes up the eastern border of my town and county. (Check out my other blog, Take 25 to Hollister , if you'd like to know more about my town.) We've had a few rainy days during the last few weeks, which to me means that everything is starting to get green again. Yes, I'm spoiled. Winter in my area is mild compared to the Sierras, the Midwest, New England, Alaska, Europe, and other places that get lots and lots of snow, and sometimes blizzards. I really can't imagine living a full winter in such cold. Now and then, snow covers the mountain tops around us, but it melts within a few hours once the sun comes out.  In good years, our winters are cold enough to make the fruit tree orchards in our area happy. The good years also give us lots of rain to fill our reservoirs. This looks like it could be one of those good years. We can only

The Winter Solstice

December 21, 2010 Total Lunar Eclipse—Almost halfway there! What a momentous Winter Solstice we're having this year! Not only is it the longest night of the year, but there is a full moon. And, a total lunar eclipse! Did you see it? The experts say that the last time a total lunar eclipse coincided with a winter solstice was over 370 years ago. It had been raining all day and evening in our area, but as the time approached for the eclipse to begin, the clouds parted open like stage curtains. The more the earth blocked the moon from the sun, the more brilliant the stars became. We were able to see part of the Orion constellation. At the peak of eclipse when the moon was like an orange ball, the husband said it looked like Orion was reaching up to grab it. What an amazing Christmas gift we all were given today. Thank you, universe. Thank you, God! For today's Christmas tune, I present to you "Ring Out, Solstice Bells," performed by Jethro Tull.  The animation was the 19

The First Name

Su- sieee! is how the mama calls for me. When she urgently wants me, she puts a long emphasis on the second syllable. If I don't answer in two or three beats, she calls again. Su-s ieeeeeeeeeeee! So, dear readers, in case you were wondering, that is why I italicize the second syllable of my name. The mama had not planned to name me Susie. She had another name in mind for me.  But, the mama was foiled by her accent and the nurse who was assigned to get my name from the mama. "What is your baby's name?" asked the nurse. "Tessie," said the mama. "Susie?" the nurse asked. "No," the mama replied. "Tessie." "Susie?" "Tessie." "Susie?" "Tessie." "Susie?" The mama gave up. "Yes, Susie." That's the story the mama tells me. After all these years, I'm still thankful the nurse couldn't understand her. Today's Christmas song is "Thank God It's Christmas,&qu

A Night Out

Last night, the husband and I took the mama to the annual Filipino-American Community of San Benito Christmas Ball. It was her night to dress up, eat Filipino party food, and make merry.  She even got up and danced twice. The husband describes her dancing as walking to the dance floor, moving to the music a few seconds, and walking back to her chair. We could tell she enjoyed herself, and that's what it was all about. The husband and I got up on the dance floor a few times. We needed to work off the overflowing plate of delicious pancit, lumpia, lechon, pinakbet, dinuguan, and other yummy food. It was probably a sight for the young ones, as well as the older crowd, to see two old fuddies twisting, bopping, and twirling. I'm not kidding when I say we danced with gleefully random abandon to the beat. Thankfully, we still can. Okay, I admit I wore both my ankle braces. Thankfully, again, I had bought a pair of twinkly Converses on sale a few days ago. They're pretty nifty don&

PhotoHunt: Male

Since this week's Photo Hunt theme is "male," I thought I'd participate with a photo of my favorite male. As you can see, the husband is a lovable goofball who likes to bring merriment to my camera's viewfinder. I took this photo back in February on the steps of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. The exhibits obviously inspired his pose. Click here if you'd like to see more goofy joy from the male who is the husband of mine. Your Christmas song for the day is "Feliz Navidad," performed by, who else but, Jose Feliciano. For more PhotoHunter interpretations of "male," please click here .

It's Friday! Toot! Toot!

I'm hooked up at two different memes today: Skywatch Friday and Follow Friday 40 and Over .   After listening to your Christmas song, come join me at both sites to check out cool stuff by other bloggers. Today's song is called "It's Christmas Time at the Railway Station." I heard it for the first time today. It's a pretty song, performed by the Juke Box Band, the puppet band on the Shining Time Station TV show. The song was sung in a Christmas special called 'Tis a Gift .

L is for Luxury

"L" is today's letter. Click here for other "L" posts. I'm rolling in luxury. Well, I shall be next week. The husband indulged me with a gift certificate for books for my birthday. That is my favorite kind of present. Thank you, sweet husband ! This year, I took my time selecting the books that would be lined up to be read in the coming year. I wandered around a bookstore first, checked out several book blogs, and glanced at a few book lists. Here's what I finally chose (If you want to hear today's Christmas song as you read about the books, scroll down and click on the video first): A Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow . This is the 17th novel about Kate Shugak, a private detective in Alaska, who has a homestead in a national park. In this story she investigates the murder of a roustabout who works for a company that wants to open one of the largest gold mines in the state. Locked In by Marcia Muller . The author's Sharon McCone series has been

Update of Our Hairy Vow

Today is ABC Wednesday featuring the letter V . When the husband and I cut all the hair off our heads (as well as the husband's beard and mustache) in January, we vowed not to cut or trim it for a year. The story about that is here , if you're interested. Here are our vivacious selves at the beginning of the year. Over 11 months later, our vow is still intact, with one allowance for the husband to trim his mustache so he can have full clearance to his mouth for eating and drinking. Here we are a couple of weeks ago. Believe me, there is lots of hair underneath those caps. And, here's your Christmas song for the day: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" sung by the venerable Ray Charles. After listening to it, head over to ABC Wednesday to check out the vignettes of other "V" bloggers.

Thinking Back: Shirley Temple

I grew up watching Shirley Temple movies on TV. The story lines were simple and basic. Little Shirley usually portrayed a child who lived with a loving father, grandfather, or another relative, or a waif who lived in an orphanage. She often played matchmaker to a wealthy man, woman, or couple who eventually adopted her. And, in most, if not all, of her movies Temple sang and tap danced her heart out. Perfect fare for a Sunday morning. I was probably a teenager when I learned that Shirley made her movies in the 1930s, during the middle of the Great Depression. Much later, I learned that the movies were very popular and brought hope and cheer to many people. I wonder if they still would. To learn more about the actress and person, who became a U.S. ambassador in her later years, check out these links: Shirley Temple, Wikipedia The Official Shirley Temple Web site Shirley Temple Fans Stowaway is a movie that Shirley did in 1936 when she was 8 years old. She played an orphan in China call

A milestone: 200th Post!

Today's post is number 200! Yippeeeee! When I started at the beginning of this year, I didn't know if I could last a month.  :-) Another big number for me is 57! A prime number. The number of times I've traveled around the sun.  Zipping through the redwood trees with the husband and friends was a great way to celebrate the new year. It was the first time for all of us. At the highest points, we were about 10 to 15 stories above the ground. Didn't seem like it at all. The husband says the platforms on which we stood were about halfway up the trees. Didn't seem like that at all, either. By the time I got comfortable with traveling from tree to tree, we were halfway through the tour. Would I do it again? You bet! Want to check out where we went in the Santa Cruz mountains? Click here . Today's Christmas song is "Holly Jolly Christmas," performed by Mr. Burl Ives.  If you'd like to listen to the 12 other Christmas songs that I've posted thus far, p

Zipping Along

Hello dear gentle readers, Not much to say other than I begin another trip around the sun today. To usher in my new year,  the sweet girlfriends K and evil2win , the husband, and I will be zip lining  through a redwood forest this afternoon. Whooooooo-hoooooooo! Your Christmas song today is "Peace on Earth" and "Little Drummer Boy" performed by Jack Black and Jason Segal. Some of you may remember this medley being sung by Bing Crosby and David Bowie in the late 1970s. Peace and love, One and All, Su- sieee ! Mac

Thank you, Senator Sanders!

Thank you, Senator Sanders for having the guts and balls to state so clearly how wrong it is to extend the tax cuts, as well as to cut the estate tax rate, for the very, very, very rich.  Thank God, we have someone in Congress who has the guts and balls to tell it as it is. Senator Bernie Sanders, the progressive Democrat from Vermont, spoke on the Senate floor for more than 8-1/2 hours yesterday. Click here to see a video of his speech. In my mind, Senator Sanders embodies what a politician is supposed to be—one who advocates for the American people. I also think Senator Sanders embodies the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. And that leads me to today's Christmas song. Here is a 1916 recording of "Oh, Holy Night" performed by Enrico Caruso.

Fifteen Days to Christmas

Christmas time is here. For some people, Christmas preparations started the day after Thanksgiving. Puff! Up went the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations. A week later, the Christmas presents sit around the tree. I hung the Christmas wreath on the front door yesterday. The day before that the husband and I did some online Christmas Shopping. Maybe tonight, I will finally put the artificial tree up. Since Sunday, I've thought about putting it up after the mama goes to sleep so she would have a pleasant surprise in the morning. But by 11 o'clock, I've lost my motivation. So, I'll probably do it while the mama watches her evening TV so she can distract herself with giving me directions on which branches need to be filled with more ornaments. Yes, the tree will definitely go up tonight. As will the Christmas stockings be hung on the hearth, including those of our dearly beloved parakeets in heaven. Have you got your tree up yet? Today's Christmas song is "

K is for Knucklehead Acts

This is the season to be jolly. Ho! Ho! Ho! No doubt the Republicans in Congress are happy. They got the tax breaks for the poor rich for another two years. And, then they turned around and blocked passage of a bill that would give a one-time amount of $250 in 2011 to the elderly and disabled receiving social security benefits. Because consumer prices have not climbed high enough, social security recipients do not warrant a cost-of-living increase for another year. Heaven help those whose only income is a social security check, and may their monthly benefits be more than the average $1,153. That was the amount in October, 2010, according to the Social Security Administration Web site .  I just don't get it. Unless, perhaps, just maybe, the Republicans figured they helped the common people already by agreeing to an extension of unemployment benefits. Sigh. With all the knuckleheadedness that's going on in Congress, I still am optimistic about humanity. The trick for me is not t


Look up! You'll never know what you might see. I've found another meme to have fun at—ABC Wednesday Round 7. This week's letter is U. Click here to visit other interpretations of the ubiquitous U. That is after checking out today's Christmas song. It also fits the the ABC theme.  "Up on the House Top" is one of my favorites. This version is performed by Gene Autry.  

Playing Gardener

About a week ago, I got a paper bag full of iris bulbs from a woman who runs the community garden in our town. She'd dug up hundreds of them and was giving them away. Purple, white, blue, and yellow. But, I won't know what colors the iris are until they bloom. Yesterday, I had fun planting some of the bulbs in a bunch of baskets of different shapes and sizes. I can just imagine the iris baskets lined up in a row in the front yard come spring. That is, if they bloom. The few times I've planted iris, nothing happened. I may have planted them too deeply, which iris aren't supposed to like. The experts say that iris should be planted in September and October for a spring bloom. Maybe that's for another part of the country.  The experts also say that iris should be planted before the frost. We've had a couple of frosty mornings already, but I don't think the experts were talking about California climate.  A woman at the thrift shop where I got some baskets (25 ce


When I'm good, I'm very good at doing stuff. Quite efficient, almost to the point of being annoyingly anal-retentive. When I'm bad, I procrastinate. That pile of stuff in the hallway that I see as I type away on the keyboard, for instance, has been there since October. That's when I moved the pile from the side of my table where I couldn't see it at all. I won't even tell you long it was there. Yeah, and the point is? The husband's and my latest book was published last month. I'm finally getting around to mentioning it. I ought to have started publicizing it a month or so before it came out. Anyway here I am to brag about it. Career Opportunities in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources . A title I know you all want to go out and buy right now.  Then, you'll know what's going on when Hollywood turns it into a spectacular film.  Just kidding. About the latter, that is. Our masterpiece is a career guide book about 99 occupations that are availab

Mele Kalikimaka!

I wouldn't mind finding an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for the husband and me under the Christmas tree. What? You would, too? The husband and I fantasize about one day living in Hawaii. We like it that much. Swimming in the ocean over there is heavenly. The husband says it's like floating in bathwater. I was maybe 30 the first time I visited Hawaii. Immediately, I felt like I found home, as in this is where I finally belong. I was so close to being born there. If only. The daddy had lived in Hawaii for almost 18 years before moving to the mainland. In the late 1920s, the daddy was among the thousands of young Filipino men who were recruited in the Philippines to work on the sugar cane plantations in Hawaii. He said his plan was to return home after he finished his contract. "Three years." It didn't work out that way. He returned to his hometown after WWII was over, no longer a Filipino citizen. He'd served in the U.S. Army and when his sergeant had asked t

What a Show!

This was earlier in the week. Or, was it last week?  All I remember is I've never seen a sky like that! I was so fortunate. To see what else is up around the world, check out Skywatch Friday . And, here's your rocking Christmas song for the day. For two more songs, click here .

J is for Joy of Christmas

Yesterday, I found the joy of Christmas  at a local holiday bazaar. For the last 20 or so years, the group of dedicated hospital volunteers in my town have sponsored this event. The husband and I happened to already be out and about, otherwise I doubt we would've gone. I am so glad we did drop by. The bazaar got me into the Christmas spirit. There were only a few vendors, but the place was full of cheer and goodwill from the vendors, the hospital volunteers, and the patrons.  The husband and I enjoyed walking around and looking at the knitted, crocheted, and other crafted items. You could tell that each item was made by someone who took care and had pride for having done a work well done. One table was full of tiny wooden animals and figurines. As we walked up to it,  an elderly man came up to me and gifted me with a mini doll ornament. He turned to the husband and said, "You look kind of fishy." Then he presented the husband with a mini fish ornament. What a charmer the