Sunday, July 26, 2015

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2015 - Week 29

Checking in for the week of July 19 through July 25.

Within My Heart (Tamera Alexander) - While this genre -- faith-based historical fiction/romance -- is certainly not for everyone, I have to say I enjoyed it tremendously. The characters were very real, had very relatable struggles and fears, and had shortcomings with which I could easily, if not always personally, identify. Each of their stories spoke to me on a deep internal level that I appreciated. In fact, this book made me teary on more than one occasion. This may not be a "book of great literature," but it was a book, and a series, that made me feel a broad range of emotions. I'll miss the folks in Timber Ridge, their stories having been concluded, but I am looking forward to checking out some more of Tamera Alexander's writing.

We went old school with some tuna casserole, this week. And then we went in the complete opposite direction and made Sweet and Sour Meatballs, served over rice (which is the best way to catch every last drop of that sweet and sour sauce). We also had Thanksgiving in July: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn. Yum!

Honeydew Melon (YC)
Summer Wish (YC) - This one was a tad more floral than I was hoping, so small doses are my limit.
Mango Peach Salsa (YC) - If a candle can smell like drippy, juicy, ripe summer fruit, this one does it. I choose my candles to manufacture four distinct seasons indoors if not out, and even though summer is the one I don't have to fake it, this smells like summer to me.

Polka dot.

We sang a hymn, in church, inspired by my favorite Psalm. That probably seems like the biggest cliche, since it's the most well known. But I listened to my Gram and Gramp pray it, kneeling side by side, on many night of mu childhood, my bedroom just across the hall from theirs. These words have brought me more peace and comfort throughout my life than probably any others.


No words or filters necessary.

Food and Wine Fest planning shall commence.

That cloud is huge. And very very low.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

This Week on My TV: July 25, 2015

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(The Last Ship, S2E5 Achilles) Captain Chandler: Only one thing I hate more than seeing a sub on SONAR. XO Slattery: What's that? Captain Chandler: Not seeing one. -- Predictable enemy composition: One evil mastermind and one hothead. -- I knew that prisoner the Nathan James took from the hospital boat was going to turn out to be bad news. -- Going into silent mode on the Nathan James was crazy intense. Loved when the knife almost got knocked off the counter but was caught with catlike reflexes! -- When they still assumed what was inside the prisoner was a beacon for the guys on the sub, at one point, the XO suggested just tossing him overboard, when Rachel was insisting they bring him below deck to operate on him. Slattery was saying that would basically give away their exact location so it was on deck or nothing. I would think tossing him into the water would be no different that bringing him below deck, no? -- I cannot believe they just plugged that flash drive they cut out of the prisoner right into the computer without concern that it might be loaded with some kind of virus that could take down the entire operation of the Nathan James! -- Holy crap, the whackos just took out all the labs in the U.S. other than the two missiles the Nathan James was able to shoot down?? -- Bunch of crazies looking to take over the world on a nuclear submarine that will never run out of fuel. Methinks Captain Chandler has a huge headache right now.

**(Murder in the First, S2E7 State of the Union) Hildy's brother (what the heck is his name? Junior?) is into quite clearly something dirty but who is "the Union"?? -- Ummm...I though this kid was going with a guilty plea?? Wouldn't that preclude the need for a trial all together? Or is this trial-without-jury simply to determine the sentence? -- That kid's uncle is an interesting character. Whoa. -- I did not anticipate such a large passage of time between seasons one and two, but based on Hildy's daughter, a significant amount of time has gone by. Wasn't she like six years old in season one?


Friday, July 24, 2015


People assume that, because you are, by nature, happy, that you've never known what it is to endure hardship. The truth is I'm happy *because* I've endured it and triumphed. I know what it's like to hurt deeply and lose much, to start over from almost nothing, so I'm grateful for every last blessing in my life, and possibly even more keenly aware of their presence. I believe in seeking out the good, making space for my priorities, reveling in the simplest pleasures, keeping my eyes open to the wonders around me, and choosing gratitude, joy, sincerity, and genuine kindness. This is why I'm happy. Not because I don't know what it's like to suffer or because I'm blissfully ignorant of reality.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2015 - Week 28

Checking in for the week of July 12 through July 18.

The Kingmaker's Daughter (Philippa Gregory) - One of my favorite things about this series is how it can cover the same time span and events without becoming boring. The perspective of a different character gives the story new details, new angles, fuller depth. It was fascinating to take the events that took place in The White Queen and see them through the eyes of Anne Neville in this book. Anne came from a different world than Elizabeth Woodville. She had different upbringing, different experiences, a different path set on the throne. Even having read the story as told by Elizabeth doesn't discredit the way Anne saw these same events unfolding. Instead, they become all the more intriguing. The pieces of fact that exist, with minimal detail, are woven with the fictional elements into a captivating story that is both easy to read and difficult to put down.

When we make fish sandwiches, I mix up my own tartar sauce -- the dill is the key. This rigatoni with sausage and red peppers recipe is one of my favorites; it's so simple, but so satisfying.

Honeydew Melon (YC)
Citrus Tango (YC) - Citrus-y and fresh, with minimal lemon (which is good, because they always smell like furniture polish to me). Just exactly the sort of bright freshness one needs when one has been unable to open any windows to air out the house for the past two months.
Coconut and Vanilla Bean (YC) - I am a sucker for vanilla scents. Combined with coconut, this was the perfect summer twist on classic vanilla. Creamy and dreamy.
Vanilla Lime (YC) - Sometimes I like a theme. This time I took my two other scents and combined them. Some citrus and some vanilla. Summer bliss.

This plaque hangs in our office at work. I appreciate its encouragement.

My husband took me out for a milkshake. I like him. And mmmmmocha.

We named him Tom. Because he peeps in the window.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

This Week on My TV: July 18, 2015

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Murder in the First, S2E6 Oh, Mexico) For the life of me, I cannot figure out how these cases are all connected yet. The gang activity. The bus shooting. The two dead cops. The missing undercover cop. Navarro and his brother. I see a few lines drawn between cases, but I'm convinced they all end up being related, because that's how season one was presented. Maybe I'm just assuming too much. -- I did not fully expect that box to contain Sugar's sister, what with Jalil Thompson's body went missing from the morgue.

**(The Astronaut Wives Club, S1E5 Flashpoint) Of course, Max notices Louise's new hair when Alan doesn't. -- I just want to hug Annie and be her friend every time someone shrinks back from her when she stutters. -- I so feel Betty's and Jo's agony over the Houston heat and humidity. I cannot even imagine the misery of enduring it without central air. -- Max [to Louise about his invitation for her to come to his hotel room]: I had to ask. No one gets what they want if they don't ever ask. -- Oh, Trudy, you know you want to take Gordo back already. -- Amazing how quickly, even now, the announcement of JFK's shooting can immediately have an effect. I was just thinking that I didn't expect Louise to spill her heart out to Alan about wanting him all to herself and being unable to be The Rock any longer, and that I was kind of impressed with how Rene handled that newspaper editor, and how I hope we haven't seen the last of Max yet, and then Kennedy is shot and the whole bunch of superficial nonsense screeches to a halt.

**(Madam Secretary, 2x04 Solace) The British ship in the opening scene and the hospital ship the Nathan James was seeking were apparently two different ships manned by two different groups of people. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure this out. -- So...did they stock up on things like mini boxes of Frosted Flakes when they were in port or did the Nathan James have a ridiculous amount of provisions on board when they were first sent out on their secret mission to find the primordial strain of the virus? -- Hold up just one minute. The British guys trying to take over the hospital the ship are somehow connected to that crazy immune commune? -- Holy intensity on board that hospital ship. I nearly suffered multiple heart attacks. -- Thus far, I have decided that I like the two new soldiers who've joined Captain Chandler's crew. -- Captain Chandler: They don't ambush us. We ambush them. -- Bavis [spotting a bomb]: Uh oh. Tex: I hope that's Hebrew for a-ok. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

Oh Hey Friday!: July 17, 2015

It's Oh Hey Friday! time, hosted by September FARM. The idea is that you talk about five things -- any five things, themed or random -- and away we go!

The "Nope" Edition!

Earlier this week, I was washing my face before bed. Suffice to say, I cannot see clearly without my glasses and I thought I saw something on the wall behind me, reflected in the mirror. Tried to convince myself there was no way, because my glasses weren't on. Turns out, yes, I did see something. A nickel-sized, rust-colored spider. I wanted to ignore it, because I swear creep-crawlies only come out when T's not home or is asleep, and I didn't want to wake him. Then I thought of all the places that thing could crawl during the night. Like into the bedroom and perched between my eyes. I went to grab a shoe from the closet was gone. ACK. I looked all over the bathroom...nothing. I don't know what possessed me to look behind the towels -- we have a double towel bar on the back wall of the shower, with my towel hanging closest to the wall -- and yep, there he was. On. My. Towel. Clearly, waiting for me to dry off in the morning. GAH. End of story: spider's time expired and I have still checked and vigorously snapped my towel every single day since, before toweling off.

All you people who work out and claim you love the post-workout jelly legs? All this nonsense about how you know it was a good workout? Nuh-uh. Do not like. For the same reason that I don't like the feeling of being drunk. I feel like I'm out of control over my body and it unnerves me. My muscles can ache for days, fine, but I like to feel them when I move, even if that means they're screaming at me.

When people string hashtags together in one long run of lower case letters, I struggle to figure them out. This is why I capitalize the first letter of each word when I hashtag my tweets. I'm hashtag literacy challenged.

Fail: When my husband asks the color of my car's interior so he can replace my broken visor.

Turns interior is not grey.

And one great big YES: Our local NBC affiliate is doing this thing during the local morning news broadcast where they give a word during the 6am hour, Monday through Friday in the month of July. Then you have til noon to go to their Facebook page, enter the word, and get your name in the hat. On Monday, I will be driving over to Tampa to collect my hundred dollars. I still can't believe I won.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2015 - Week 27

Checking in for the week of July 5 through July 11.

Gatsby's Girl (Caroline Preston) - Certainly (and openly admitted, by the author) a work of fiction based loosely on a few facts and filled with the broad strokes of imagination to round it out, I have to say that if even a fraction of this story is actually true, it explains why I always found "The Great Gatsby" so lonely and depressing. If Daisy was Ginevra and Gatsby was Fitzgerald, himself, it is obvious what a number Ginevra did on him that resounded throughout the remainder of his much too short life. Both Scott and Ginevra were barely likable and far more pitiable than anything else. I found the book kept me turning the pages, not with entertainment or a fantastically woven tale, but more in the way one can't help but look at a wreckage. At end, I just felt...sad.
All Through the Night (Mary Higgins Clark) - Definitely more "cozy mystery" than typical Mary Higgins Clark suspense, not that that's a problem for me. I enjoy both. This was a short, easy read. It was a little comical to me to read a Christmas-themed mystery in the middle of summer (Christmas in July! ha). I haven't read many of the Alvirah books from MHC's library, so perhaps the "cozy mystery" genre applies to this particular series. Either way, once I adjusted my mindset, the book was a nice diversion, if not all that mentally challenging or heart thumping.
The Kingmaker's Daughter (Philippa Gregory) - You know how you put your iPod on shuffle and one song finishes and another starts, but they are so different, the transition is abrupt and almost jolting? Even if you really like both songs? That's how it felt going from cozy mystery to 15th century historical fiction.

T did up some burgers and some pasta salad and some corn on the cob, and it was just like summer on a plate. We also tried out a new recipe for Taco-Spiced Chicken. And then we went with some menu staples: Linguine with Clam Sauce. Ravioli Soup. Chicken and Dumplings.

I tried a new blush, after using one by Maybelline forever. This one is Physician's Formula. It has sunscreen built into it and I'm all for more layers of protection on my oh-so-white skin. I'm rather impressed. It takes very little product to achieve the amount of color I like. This compact is going to last me ages, I suspect. I also accomplished not melting into a puddle, because have mercy, this is the hottest summer I can remember since moving here.

Honeydew Melon (YC) - Just soft, sweet, juicy summer this week.

Never mind the "feels like," the actual temp alone justifies this indulgence.

Rainy season.

Leeeeetle frogs.

I feel like this demands some kind of profound revelation, but really it just made me laugh. (T was working on a project for a friend's beach condo. The B was, well, being a B.)


Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Week on My TV: July 11, 2015

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Parenthood, S6E13 May God Bless and Keep You Always) Hank wants Zeek's blessing. And none of the other guys, not even Joel, ever asked Zeek for that before. -- Zeek calling Sarah "baby girl." Oh, this show. -- Well, I'm glad Haddie made it back for the wedding, at least. I wondered if she'd make a series finale appearance. -- Love love love that Max was made official wedding photographer. -- Joel and Julia kissing. And kissing. And being swoony. -- Weddings make cry. Real ones. Fictional ones. Doesn't matter. -- Zeek and Camille's third act, bringing Amber and baby Zeek to live in the big house with them. That was perfection. -- I loved all the conversations taking place on the dance floor. So intimate and so perfectly executed, like we got a few final private minutes with these characters. -- I thought I would escape Zeek's actual death, that maybe it would be referenced in past tense at the end, but no. And then I cried. Again. -- The "future" montage at the end was exactly the kind of closure I needed: Camille taking Zeek's trip to Paris. Crosby making The Luncheonette work without Adam and Jasmine there, round with another new Crosby babe. Amber's dinner table with her husband and daughter (!), and Ryan dropping of little Zeek. Max graduating from Chambers Academy, getting his diploma from Headmaster Adam Braverman.  And my favorite of all, Christmas morning with Joel and Julia, with a new puppy for Sydney and Victor and Victor's little sister...and a baby boy on Julia's lap!! Oh my gosh, I am tearing up just picturing that last one even now. What a great run for this show. I will miss those Bravermans.

**(The Astronaut Wives Club, S1E3 Retroattitude) If I only had a dollar for every time my dad or Gramp told me "it'll put hair on your chest" when I was a kid. I died laughing when they used this line! -- When are these guys going to learn about philandering when their wives keep showing up?! -- Drunk Trudy. LOL -- I love the wardrobe choices. I want them all. I must have been born in the wrong era. -- Rene's writing on the death of baby Timmy gave her character some much-needed depth. -- Scott Carpenter: If you want people to know the real you, you've gotta let 'em actually see it. -- I keep trying to pick a favorite wife. I can't.

**(The Astronaut Wives Club, S1E4 Liftoff) Wow, those are some spiffy new houses they were given in Houston. -- What's up with Louise and Max and that gigantic spark? -- The Gemini wives are adding an interesting twist. -- Love that they used real news coverage of Cuban missile crisis. I also love Evan Handler (he'll always be Charlotte's Harry to me though!) in this role as Duncan Porter. And all the 60s music they've chosen, which makes me want to head right over to iTunes. -- Gosh, what a tense time to live in with all the nuclear fear and worrying the world was about to end. -- Deke promoted to chief astronaut after his heart issue. Nice move. -- Poor Betty, being judged for being the most real, sweetest of the wives. Let her take the arrangement, because she's right: why should it go to waste? -- There is something very appealing about Max that I cannot place my finger on. -- I still haven't picked a favorite wife, but I'm relatively certain it's not Jo.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2015 - Week 26

Checking in for the week of June 28 through July 4.

Back to School Murder (Leslie Meier) - It took me until right before the reveal to realize whodunnit, but I thought the character was going to turn out to be someone other than who they were (well, there's a confusing sentence, but I'm trying to avoid any spoilers!). This was a fairly engaging mystery, even though it seemed to take a while to really lift off. There's nothing overly challenging about this series, but it's an easy, fun mystery series, and sometimes that's all I'm looking for.
Gatsby's Girl (Caroline Preston) - At first, I wondered if the story was going to pick up enough pace to keep me reading. It's definitely gotten better since then.

Sausage burgers with provolone and some roasted peppers. YUM. Corned beef and cabbage. Breakfast for dinner. And we went old school cookout for the Fourth of July: hot dogs, potato salad, and baked beans.

We bought cheesy little firework and sparklers, because I've never had them before. And our DVR is on the fritz, so I went on a huge DVR-clearing binge, hoping to get to as much of it as possible before they replace it next week.

Honeydew Melon (YC) - This one has been one of my favorites for almost as long as I've been burning Yankee Candles. It is practically synonymous with summer for me now.
Turquoise Sky (YC) - I was hoping I would like this one more than I do. It's got a strange quality to it that just isn't quite what I was expecting, almost a bit...chemical.
Fruit Salad (YC) - Fruity! My favorite summer scents are the fruit-based ones.
Loves Me, Loves Me Not (YC) - Bummer. Ended up not caring for this one at all. Smelled like (sorry) cat pee.

What lunchtime looks like at my desk.

Steak dinner.

Loved the texture of the wood on the wall.

And the booths.

Meat and potatoes.

Angry bull.

Halfway through 2015. Whoa.

We kept the fortunes from our cookies a couple of weeks ago. Their messages just feel particularly poignant right now.

And Old Fashioned and a Lemon, please.

Four years ago, right in this spot, we got engaged.

This guy. He hates selfies but sometimes he indulges me.

I love this little white bird. He stays out in my "mantel" decor all year long.

Birds of paradise make me laugh, whether they're real or artificial.


On the cob.


I've never played with sparklers before! (I know, I know!)


Saturday, July 4, 2015

This Week on My TV: July 4, 2015

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Mad Men, S7E14 Person to Person) They had Halloween decorations up in the office that we had when I was growing up! Whoever handled set design for this show was just spot on with tugging at my personal memories again and again. -- Ken [totally deadpan, about his son, when asked how he is]: He's a little weird. I actually think there might be something wrong with him. -- Why does Sally look so much older and yet Bobby and Gene never seem to age? -- Don's whole retreat thing was just weird and uncomfortable. -- I love that Peggy ended up with Stan! I actually thought they did an excellent job, showing the viewer where everyone would end up: Joan working for herself, Peggy finally happy, Roger and Marie (OMG they deserve each other), Pete and Trudy starting over in a successful new life. I have no clue what to make of that ending with Don though. Did he give up advertising? Did he go back to New York with that "I'd like to give the world a Coke" idea? Has he just gone off the deep end? -- I would love to see a spinoff starring Joan, Peggy, and Sally. That is all.

**(The Astronaut Wives Club, S1E2 Protocol) The music in this show is exactly the salve my missing Mad Men self needs. -- Betty and Gus are adorable. As cute as they are, though, I think John and Annie are my favorite couple. He is so good to her. -- Well, clearly the media is not all that different than they used to be. -- I love that someone always shows up with jello salad. -- Kenneth Mitchell as Deke Slayton looks like a young Matthew Perry. -- 60s decor, clothes, news anchor's voice: totally nailed it! -- Harry: I didn't kill him, Mrs Slayton. I threatened to have his PI license yanked. We're NASA, not the mob. -- They way they use the old tv footage, spliced with scenes from the show to make it look like they're part of the original reels gets my seal of approval.

**(Parenthood, S6E5 The Scale of Affection Is Fluid) Zeek is a very cranky patient. -- Amber and the coffee covered dude with their matching shirts was...a bit too much. -- Julia and that guy (I refuse to even call him by his name) make me angry. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a tv show. -- One thing I've always admired about Zeek's character is how he takes every Max situation in stride and doesn't treat him any differently than any of his other grandkids. -- Joel: Basketball may be a bigger money making corporation, but it will never replace the subtle beauty that is baseball. ... Preach it, Joel! -- Adam: So why not Max? ... YES. Sometimes, even though she wants everything for Max, I think Kristina loses sight of this.

**(Parenthood, S6E6 Too Big to Fail) Kristina and Adam strolling by again. And again. Spying on Max and Dylan. I died of laughter. Especially when Max called them out on it. -- Amber's belly gets bigger with each new scene, I swear.

**(Parenthood, S6E7 These Are the Times We Live In) Joel giving Julia the house brought on the waterworks like I haven't experienced in forever. And then that scene with them in the elevator afterward. It broke me. Stop being so stubborn, Julia, and look at this man you're giving up on! -- Wait a second. Amber didn't realize she'd lost the keys until she was trying to put them in the ignition to leave? Was she just not planning to lock the house??? -- Julia. *Julia*, OMG, it's this hard to disentangle from Joel, because it's the WRONG CHOICE!! When will you get that? -- My second favorite Max relationship is the one he has with Hank. -- Oh, Drew, cherish these times with Zeek. The adventures won't last forever, but the memories will. -- Something I've always appreciated about this show is the realism. Like Julia walking barefoot in her own home. Because that's what people do. I think shows forget minor details like that. -- That guy is a dork. And nowhere near as cute as Joel. Wake up, Julia. Ditch this guy and make it work with your husband! -- Oh my heart. That scene with Zeek and Joel. Listen to him and fight for her, Joel. Fight with everything you've got.

**(Parenthood, S6E8 Aaron Brownstein Must Be Stopped) OMG the meow girls at The Luncheonette. That was painful even for me, and The Luncheonette has never been my favorite. -- Oh, Ruby. You need to do a lot of growing up, little girl. You promise not to throw a party if your parents let you stay home alone, then throw one anyway, and get mad when you get busted? Yeah. ::shakes head:: -- Ew. Seriously, Hank and Sandy? Drinking straight out of a bottle of booze you found left by the kids at Ruby's illicit party? There isn't enough money in the world to get me to do that.

**(Parenthood, S6E9 Lean In) Well, I do not like Dylan's parents. They are exactly the type of people who make this world more complicated than it ever needs to be. Creating mountains out of molehills and accepting zero personal responsibility. -- Why is Drew a) acting like he doesn't know his own grandmother and b) Millie referring to Zeek as 'Zeek' to him? -- I think that the France trip Zeek wants to put together for Camille is the perfect sweet and heartfelt gesture that lets her know he really really gets her. -- I knew Joel was gonna kiss Julia when she brought over the divorce papers for him to sign. Go, Joel!! -- Oh boy. Dialing 911 for Zeek. This isn't going to go well.

**(Parenthood, S6E10 How Did We Get Here?) What a tough decision for Zeek. But isn't life like that? Sometimes the decision we want isn't an option. -- Hank, stop trying to compete with Joel. You just do you. It's enough. Really. -- I felt as if the break in at The Luncheonette was kind of forced into the story. -- Hank and his awkward, ill-timed proposal to Sarah. And it was pretty much perfect.

**(Parenthood, S6E11 Let's Go Home) I'm so relieved, for Drew, that he got to "make up" with Zeek for breaking his confidence and telling Camille about the trip. -- Yes. YES. Driving by the old house is exactly what people do. I love that seeing it lived in and loved and building a new family's memories was all Zeek needed to see. -- Sarah said yes to Hank! (Finally!) -- There you go, Hank. This is you doing you, showing up to build the crib for Amber. You don't have to be Joel to be important to the Bravermans. -- I dislike how Kristina treats Adam in regard to his decisions for how he wants to handle The Luncheonette. He supports all her crazy projects and goals. You'd think she'd do the same for him, or at least allow him the space to decide what he needs to do for himself. -- Adam attending Nora's tea party dressed in a feather boa. Priceless. -- Joel and Julia! At the ice skating rink! And sneaking around so the kids don't catch them in bed! And kissing! YES!!

**(Parenthood, S6E12 We Made It Through the Night) Hank driving to the hospital with a freaking out Amber and Sarah. I wept with laughter. -- I love the relationship between Sarah and Zeek. -- I always wonder why Adam and Kristina don't use Hank as an example for Max? Both for his sake and theirs. I mean, Hank has Asperger's and has been married, is getting married to Sarah, has a child and a successful business. Who's to say Max can't have those things too? -- Zeek. I love that that was the name Amber chose for him.


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