Category Archives: Books

Minimizing is Tough



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Of course I’d like my bookshelf to look like the one on the left, but it looks more like the one the right, but much more of a disaster, with books, papers and misc. stuff I don’t know what to do with, laying on top of books already there and/or sticking out of the front.

As follow-up to yesterday’s post, “Minimalistic Living,” today on compulsion, started to weed out knitting books from my bookshelf.  Let me just say this is the hardest thing I’ve had to do yet.  Books have been a source of comfort and escape my whole life.  It’s hard parting with them, but being assessed on the basis of productivity, I’m lovingly laying them off to the side.

I’ve already put it “out there” to my friends that I’m giving away books.  I don’t know.  I’m tired of looking at stuff and not feeling good or satisfied.  It’s like I still don’t know what I want and grasping at straws.  What I do know is that I only have one bookshelf with three shelves and once that fills up, and the shelves are bowing low, I’ve got to lighten the load.  It kills me to do this, but I’ve already committed to not knitting as much and more importantly, I’ve not really used these books.  So far, I’ve committed to eliminated almost half of my books and I think that’s pretty good.

Water Gives Life

Today I attended the 2012 Catechist Convocation at the Paramus Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey. Whew, that was a mouthful!  Usually, I’m alone for most of the day during these things and my schedule today left me free from any workshops from after the opening ceremony, ending at 9:30am, to my scheduled lunch then my first workshop starting at 12:45pm.  Basically, I was left to my own devices most of the morning.  I spent some time browsing the “exhibits”,  but I shall call them vendors.  I pretty much spent almost all the money I had on a book about my favorite author entitled, “Genius Born of Anguish~ The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen” and a car bumper sticker that reads:  Abortion stops a beating heart.  Yeah, the book took up 98% of the money I brought.  Normally, I would’ve gotten something for the current RCIA class but there is no class currently in the works.  Thanks to Cyndi for teaching me the proper “etiquette” for these things.  The first time I attended, she got me a booklet and cards for our then class.  Well, after that purchase I headed outside and got halfway around the building, and found a nice gazebo to sit a spell and start this book.  The weather was really nice and stayed there a while until the groundsmen came around with their leave blowers and drenched me full of diesel fuel or whatever they throw in those things…. yuk!

I also attended two workshops:

  • Be An Evangelizing Catechist
  • One Body in Christ:  Sacrament Preparation & Participation in Liturgy for Individuals with Autism

That’s one bitch’in title and I had to write that whole thing when I took the survey with my opinions on the classes.  The first one really focused on the CCD kids.  Some really great ideas for teaching kids and inviting the parents to get involved.  I really enjoyed that class for the ideas, but I spent the whole time getting up and down to get my handouts, which were one after the other the whole hour fifteen minutes.  The up side is that I have the actual handouts to give to the school, and I’m going to make sure I do some of this stuff with Gabe at home.  I think I’ll work on a separate post for that…. Heck, maybe while this Frankenstorm comes through.

The second workshop focused on providing an effective education for, as it says, Individuals with Autism.  This is near and dear to my heart and I took this workshop with Gabe in mind, hoping I could bring some of this home.  My second hope is to try and get the church to develop a program for the autistic student, both children and adults.  Not sure how it will go over, but this is SO important and would go a long way with families who are not yet advocating for their autistic child for whatever reason.  While I didn’t really hear anything new about autism in this class, I found it helpful, though I do wish the speaker was more prepared.  She spent most of the time fiddling with her electronics and getting them to work.  We did not go over all the material she had for the class and that was a downer.  It was a major distraction, all the while I was thinking about the previous instructor telling us we should be well prepared with our lesson before the children walked into the class….  priceless!

Well, getting to the inspiration of my post.  I’m sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch at 11:15am and I realize that I don’t have any money to buy more water.  The lunch people were very specific as to what we could take:  ONE sandwich, ONE packet mustard or ONE packet mayonnaise, ONE drink, ONE bag of two Oreo cookies and ONE half-bag of chips.  I’ve been guzzling water lately like an elephant and all I had right there was a 16.9 oz. bottle of Snapple Spring Water which was to last me the entire rest of the day.  Snort…. I’m sitting there knowing that will never happen.  So I sat there, counting the minutes till I could get home for a nice frigid cold glass of water …. (glugg… glugg…) I’m thinking that the fountain water was not too bad of a tasting water.  I sat there knitting (yes, I brought my knitting and knit through the whole opening ceremony and keynote speech, though I wasn’t actually there for the speech as I was stifling hot and couldn’t wait to get out of the auditorium.  Let me just say that God most certainly works in His own way and in His own time.  Whenever or however, He knows what you need and exactly when you need it.  Just before I got myself ready to leave the cafeteria, my friend from our parish came out of nowhere and offered me her 16.9 oz. of cold water, unequivocally stating she was not going to drink it.  I accepted her offer with such gratitude that even that completely overwhelmed me.  It was all I could do not to tear up, there.  She really had no clue of my dilemma, yet she handed it over just when I was going through my options.  Even after I finished her bottle, I refilled it with water from the bathroom because that water was colder than the water in the drinking fountain.  It had a distinctly chlorine taste but I told myself that it was sanitized… ugh.  That bottle, though, kept my tongue from drying onto the roof of my mouth and my lips moist and separated during my two workshops.  Oh well, not a life and death situation, but God certainly has looked out for me in many ways and many, many times.

I am The Lorax

I am the little man

I am the little man

I am the Lorax… coo coo cachoo… coo coo cachoo…

Yes, I’m getting a little silly.  Beatles.  Dr. Seuss.  It’s all good.   “Mommie, mommie!  There’s the Lorax!”  That was my world….  Yesterday was Little Drake’s seventh birthday.   Hubby gave us leave to go and see the big 3D version of it, and I had AMC vouchers courtesy of the NJ Blood Center and compensation for donating whole blood.  We got the the theater in plenty of time, but quickly heard rumors that the show was sold out… ewww!  We stayed on line and, sure enough, it was.  I did purchase tickets for the, what, 2D version?  With voucher, cost us two or three dollars… Holy Moly~!

Then it started.  The pouting, the whining, the almost-meltdown.  Ya gotta understand that with my little boy, it’s all or nothing.  He’s either elated, on happy juice or melting down if things don’t go exactly the way he expects.  To be honest, we don’t go to the movies very often and it never occurred to me that the movie might sell out before we got there.  If it did, I would’ve worked out plan B and made sure it was accepted.  So, all Little D wanted to do was go home and sulk.  I could not let that happen when I knew that he really, REALLY wanted to see this movie, and I already had the tickets.  He wasn’t having any of it.  Quick thinking on my part, got him to Target across the parking lot.  I had a Target gift card in my pocket and it was my intention to kill some time there, but also get him a little something, being it “was” his special day.  His eyes lit up and he started talking about Ninja-something that was Legos.  Since I spent so little on the tickets I thought I could get a nice little gift, but when I sought to eye-ball the gift card, sadly, I realized it was not in my pocket at all.  Not in my purse, not anywhere.  Oh geez, I left it home.  I was hopeful, however, that I could get one of the smaller sets and could do $15.00.  Nothing.  Nada… Whatever they had was $25.00 and up.  We both were, again, pretty disappointed, but I did manage to secure a $4.99 “Booster” pack which he was pretty happy with.  Whew, got saved on that one.

Then we headed to the target eating place and Got him a hot chocolate and we shared one of those hot pretzels.  Oh man!  I wish I had my camera as I was treated to the first, or one of the first, manifestations of Little D’s blossoming sense of humor.  He was always a kid with a ready laugh, a ready, goofy laugh, a very precious laugh; but this was something different.  He broke off a curved piece of pretzel and blurted out, “Hello?  Hello?”.  Well, you had to be there.  We shared a big spontaneous burst of belly laugh!   The expression on his face was priceless as he realized that he made me laugh…. like that.  Where was my camera?  Sitting beside my laptop at home.  grrrrrrrrrrrr!

It’s just about time to head over to the theater when he announces that he wants to go home. grrrrrrr.  Nope, I’m not going to get frustrated.  I just say that we HAVE to go see the movie because we already have tickets, and don’t you want popcorn?  hee hee…. That’s something that LD was also talking about all week long, the popcorn.  So inside the theater, I steer him over to the bathroom while he’s trying to tell me all the while that we should be getting popcorn.  OK, we do our business and finally head over for the popcorn and a soda.  Gotta have soda with popcorn, though I’ve not been drinking soda at all lately… It’s just that I couldn’t see paying five bucks for a little bottle of waTER… Nope, couldn’t wrap my head around that at all.  It’s somewhere par for buying a bottle of AIR.  We head into the movie and even though we bought our tickets well ahead of time, the only seats available were down in front…. WAY down in front.  We had to lay back to see the towering screen, but you know, I really love that, despite the fact that my back is still recovering.

The Lorax was a total pleasure to sit through, once all the previews were done, that is.  The effects were so cool… and we weren’t even watching 3D~!  I recommend this movie for all ages.  At first I was a little put off because I heard it was a musical.  Somehow when the cast suddenly breaks out in song, well, that doesn’t really sit well with me… but it was cute and not a prolonged thing.  If you have the book, the movie is a must see precisely because there is so much more to the movie, yet doesn’t loose, not a thing, from the book.  The movie gives more of a story, but doesn’t distort the story from the book… it’s like the story behind the story and all fits together seamlessly.  To be honest, I felt that the Lorax was a little too soft of a character for Danny DeVito’s voice…. but it was still nice.

So all in all, I’m pretty satisfied and elated, even, about this weekend.  I managed to do a lot for Little D’s birthday without breaking the bank.  So glad I saved those movie vouchers.  So glad we spent part of our day at All About Ewe yesterday.  We saw live alpacas, I got the chance to knit, and he got the chance to play with a couple of boys around his age and that meant the world to him, and to me, too.  Some of the best things in life are free and I’m on a mission.  I’m also going to have the chance to process and spin alpaca fleece into yarn as a donation to Faerie Tale Fiber Farm ~ Faerie Tale Alpacas.  This is a “No Kill” sanctuary in Ottsville, PA and they rescue alpacas and give them a place to live and lots of love.  They are also in need of donations to help keep their mission alive, so please go check out their facebook page.  Plenty of photos of the critters that live there….

Here’s one I took on Saturday:

New Dragon

Papo Dragon1

Do you see that little red dot on my Cluster Map? It’s the one alllll the way over to the left, flying just over Japan. That’s my new dragonfriend, Robert. I just read his blog today and it’s really a book… a DRAGON book with a very interesting beginning. His blog is called:

Life of a Dragon Trilogy

This is his second book. I just read the first chapter and really loved it. I thought that if you like dragons, you could give it a look.

Decadent Pleasure

hot chocolateHot Chocolate is one of my fetishes indulgences. THIS is what I do for myself that lifts me out of my every day existence, and into the clouds. I do not need to retire to a private space, I do not need a lengthy period of time; only the time it takes to make and drink a quick visit to heaven. My quasi normal attraction to chocolate became manifest at a young age when I found myself using two envelopes of Swiss Miss in one cup, still not satisfied. Then I added some instant coffee, something still missing. C~H~O~C~O~L~A~T~E hmmmmmmm just rolls through your mouth and off your tongue, doesn’t it?

Currently, I use chocolate bars, various spices, non-dairy creamers, extracts, whipping cream, brewed coffee. Well, you get the picture. Anything that would not make the brew curdle or turn my stomach, whichever came first. I got turned on to putting actual chocolate bars into it by my friend, Cindi. That night she became my very best-est friend! I was so grateful to find someone to share my chocolate fetish! For my son’s birthday party, I put together a weird hot chocolate “mix”. I say “weird” only because I was throwing the stuff together the night before the party in a frenzied state, with cocoa powder flying all around. Oh, and I didn’t have time to make recipe cards…ugh. Got closer, though, cuz I actually bought them. Though I did not know it at the time, what I did was not exactly original… or crazy.

Just this week my ego maniac bubble, for being so creative with chocolate, was broken when I found the above book entitled, “Hot Chocolate~50 Heavenly Cups of Comfort”, by Fred Thompson. I found it while shopping at the A&P on sale for $3.99! So, I just had to scoop one up; such fun finding a book at the A&P. Mr. Thompson uses a lot of the things that I do in search for the Ultimate cup of hot chocolate, including creating dry mixes. What a shot in the arm of pure validation! I’d often tell people of the stuff that I mix with coffee or hot chocolate and always got a strange look, or a little comment of dismissal which ended the conversation, cutting off my zen for chocolate. I am always perplexed at the popularity commercial mixes enjoy. The actual chocolate content is almost non-existent.

I am so much of a chocolate freak that I used it as a topic for a speech given as a class project for a public speaking course I took years ago to help myself become comfortable in front of people…. HEY, btw JUSTIN… it worked! I chose to give a demonstrative speech, or maybe they called it an “instructional” speech. So, I took my favorite subject and spoke about making a fast, but utterly delicious and authentic cup of hot chocolate in the microwave. I’ll post the recipe at the end of this article if any of you are interested. I did my homework and even spoke about the history of the cacao bean and the drink that was made by the ancient Mayans. Did you know that their women were forbidden to drink chocolate? Hmph!

I have a mission! Because of my new life style, I need to convert my hot chocolate favorites into decadent sugar free must-have recipes. I have a couple of things going for me here. I already love the dark chocolate which is chock full of antioxidants. I learned in this book that the most popular way in the world to have this drink is to make it with water and not milk, and that will be a big plus. I think what I am going to do is publish a recipe a week for those of you who would be interested in inserting a little heaven into everyday life.

Okay, so here is my quickie, microwavable recipe for Authentic Hot Chocolate. Keep in mind that this is a basic foundation recipe and you can do almost anything to it. I have no idea what to call it, so maybe you guys can post some suggestions. How about this. The one that I pick will get a special mix. Are ya game? Don’t worry, post office people, no liquids needed.

No need to be exact in the measurements. As a matter of fact, be generous with heaping spoonfuls! Everything to YOUR taste.


1 tbsp. Dutch processed hot cocoa powder

1 tsp… Instant coffee (optional for you caffeine lovers)

1-2 tbsp. Non-Dairy creamer, Plain *(or try 1/2 tsp. Arrowroot)

A pinch/dash of salt (optional, but it really does enhance the flavor)

Sugar (I give no measurements because it should go according to your taste, if you like sweet or not so sweet. Be creative with your sugar. You can use any sweetener from refined white (eww!), brown sugar, molasses, honey, sugar free syrup, or whatever)

Put all ingredients in to a microwavable mug, preferably a large one. Boil up some water and pour a little into the mug and stir until ingredients mix well and dry ingredients emulsify.

Okay, here is the part where you get to choose. You can either use all water like when making instant coffee, or you can fill up the rest of the mug with milk or cream or a combination of both.

Microwave initially for 1 minute on 50% power, and in 30 second increments after that to get desired hotness. If your chocolate is not creamy enough, add more non-dairy creamer, arrowroot, or cream. Grate some fresh nutmeg into your cup for garnish. If you use the dried spice kind, remember that fresh is more intense in flavor, so you might need more of the dried stuff.

I am sorry if this is confusing, but I wanted to make it appealing to a wide range of people with varying dietary needs.

Tag, Now You’re IT

I saw this on Naked Soul and decided to leap right in. First, I am SO lucky that I cleaned up all my son’s books. Some of them have more than 130 pages.. the fairy tales. The next book I picked up was “The Wounded Healer” by Henri J. Nouwen, but it only had 87 pages. My eyes next glanced at Webster’s dictionary, but I ignored it. Then I saw this book on my bookcase that I forgot that I even had, so I grabbed it for this. It had a CD of chanting in it, and I love to play it, but I’ve forgotten all about the book.

Chanting~Discovering Spirit in Sound

Chanting~ Discovering Spirit in Sound
by Robert Glass (with Kathleen Brehony)

“If we let our minds wander, we love the rhythm and the pattern of the music. Even while we are letting go into the chant, we must also maintain an awareness of where we are, of the unique qualities of this moment and the next. In this way, chanting is a practical metaphor for the spiritual path. In the words of the well-known Islamic saying, we ‘pray to Allah but tie our camel.’ We learn to reach to the heavens while keeping our feet planted firmly on the earth.”

Wow. I am so glad that I did this. This book is about discovering spirit in sound, which is something that I am tapping into while singing in the choir, while remaining ignorant of what is actually happening. I definitely will be reading this book to see if I can place any correlations between what I am feeling while singing and what is described here. Also, I love chanting music and would love to really get into it for itself.

If not for this ‘game’ I probably never would have picked this book up. We have stuff piled up in front of our bookcase because the little drake keeps pulling down all the books…. which he loves, by the way. We are hoping he gets into reading like his mom and dad.

Thanks, Mark!


The “rules” for the 123Meme are as follows:

For those tagged, here’s what you’ve got to do:

1. Grab the closest book to you.
2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Include the title and the author’s name.
5. Tag 3 people.

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