Category Archives: Randoms

Telestrations~ A Fun Board Game!

When I was offered to review the game Telestrations I was THRILLED…. if you don’t know this about me – you are about to, I am a HUGE GAMER!  I LOVE board games and have a whole huge closet dedicated to just board games! 

I took Telestrations with me last weekend to Mankato where I was staying with friends and I was hoping they would want to play so I could write my review of the game – and of course see if we enjoyed it. 

You can have up to eight players, we had four.  We were each given a little booklet that uses a dry erase marker, a marker, and a card.  Someone rolls the dice and you all look at that number on your card and write that word as your secret word on page one.  Lets say, as in the example I am going to show you here, your word was “Scuba Diver”.

So on page two you would draw a picture of your word:

Now you flip to the next page and pass the whole booklet to the person to your left.  They turn back one page so they can see what you drew and then on page three they write the word of what they think you drew.  Lets say in this case after looking at the above picture they wrote down:

“Deep Sea Diver”

Now that person flips to the next page and then passes it to the left.  That person turns back one page, looks at the word that was written – in this case, “Deep Sea Diver”, they flip back to the blank page and draw what they think would be a deep sea

My friend Diane

diver picture.  Flip to the next page, pass to your left again.. and so on until you get your own book back.

*Note – in our case, since there were 4 of us, we ran the books around twice through as there are enough pages to go 8 times and it was so funny to see where the word starts and ends.

When you get your own book back you share in turn what your secret word was and flip through the book to see if that word makes it to the end.  The game is like the old school telephone game with paper. 

There is a points system but we just had a good time flipping through the results and laughing at people pictures.  BELIEVE me, they were not all as easy to guess as the one I show you above, for instance – there are some words that it asks you to pick.  I drew one that said your favorite author.  Like I can pick that!  But I did pick one that is near and dear to my heart, so I drew this:

Now remember, that poor unsuspecting person to the left of me doesn’t even know that the topic is an author.  So…. I don’t even remember what they wrote on the next page but it was nowhere near the true answer which was J K Rowling.  See it? 

My friend Sheila

Thats Harry and Ron and Hermoine standing in front of Hogwarts….  see it?  No?  LOL

Anyhoo – the game rated high for all of us – we had a lot of fun and a couple of times the word that was started was the word that ended as well.  In case I didn’t explain the game well, here is a video to help out with that:

 

This is a great get together game.  I would recommend it for your next gathering or I think it would make a great gift for that gamer in your life. 

How To Build A Better Blog

I just celebrated my third year of book blogging.  Who knew that in June of 2009 when I put together a few random thoughts on books that three years later I would still be doing this… and loving it. 

Throughout the years I have made many blogging blunders… shoot, I still do.  I do for the most part really like what I am doing now and how I am doing it.  I thought, if I may, I would share with you some of the trials and errors I have learned from through the years for anyone who would like to know how I pulled together Book Journey.  Take from this what you can, leave what you don’t want or need.

Please note – above all else, I am no expert.  I am sharing my thoughts on how I built up my own blog and that may not be the way you would do it, want to do it, or even agree that I know what I am talking about. :razz:  I am sure in some cases, this has been said before, in other ways, on other blogs.  What I am talking about here may not even apply to the way you host your blog, and I respect that.  I encourage you to add your own thoughts on this topic in the comments, things that you can add that I did not, and yes, even things you may now agree with.

1.  The Blog Name

For those of you who have followed me since the early years you may remember this blog was originally called One Persons Journey Through A World Of Books.  Mmmmm hmmmm… say that baby three times fast.  :razz:  It remained that from June 2009 – April 2010.  It wasn’t until I was considering making business cards for my first book expo that I really took into consideration what a mouthful that was.  My blog address already was bookjourney, my twitter name was bookjourney, it seamed logical to trim up that title, and after a little chat survey on Twitter, found that it was not only acceptable, many agreed with me. 

The point?  Long blog names are hard to remember,  a mouthful, and if you are planning to partake in bookish events where you are meeting authors, publishers, etc…its a lot easier to have a shorter blog name. 

2.  Side Bar Loving!

My original blog had two sidebars… if I could put it in the sidebar, I did.  Meme’s, pictures of authors I had chatted with, links and pictures to challenges I was participating in, links to other bloggers, contests, pictures, An about me that ran down the right side a good 10-12 inches…..

You can see that some of that remains to this day.  I do think sidebars can serve a wonderful purpose.  Have a post that drove lots of traffic to the blog that you hate to see get buried?  This is a great place to link it.  Blogs you frequent, I actually like this on blogs as if I enjoy reading someones blog and they link blogs they enjoy on their sidebar, I know chances are I will enjoy those blogs too.  However – you will also notice I now have one sidebar instead of two and I love it.  Why?  Many reasons…. it is a cleaner looking blog for one, I think my blog today looks more professional than my blog of past years.  For another reason, it makes the main space, your posting space – BIGGER.  I like that to, after all, that is what draws in your readers, not what you have on your side bars.. but what YOU are writing about.  The post should be what captures the eye. 

Oh and one more thing on sidebars, try to keep them current.  This is one I still have to watch… take down links to old contests and to blogs that are no longer active. 

3.  I wrote this incredible post… and no one is reading it…

Ugh.  I remember those early days.  I felt (IMO) that I had written something very read worthy.  I wanted people to read it and comment.  I didn’t know how to make that happen so here is what I did…. we have to remember as much as we want people to comment on our posts, other bloggers want that too.  We all write and want to talk books, I have not ever heard a blogger say… “I really don’t want people to comment”.  I will tell you right now… I do.  I want to know if you loved the same book I did or hated it, I want to chat with you about like reading tastes, or books that are suggested to me.  I smile when I open my email and see I have comments to read on my posts.  I do!

So – here (now that I get back on subject) is how I grew readers.  I commented.  A LOT.  I would go and read blogs and comment on what they were talking about.  I would click on the blogs on their sidebar that they read and comment there as well (See?  That does work on sidebars, I still do that occasionally!)  I would set a goal of trying to comment on twenty blogs a day – don’t be scared, I find I do not have time to do that consistently anymore…LOL.  My point is, that many of those whose blogs I commented on would come and visit me as well.  It’s true… I grew a readership, by being a good commenter.  My hope was if they would visit me, they would read something they enjoyed enough to want to come back again….

and that what I just said is important, and leads me to my next point.  :D

4.  What ever do I post about…

Ok…. its go time.  You are working on your readership, but when they arrive, you want to have something good front and center for them to ponder.  It’s like… you are inviting company over.  Most of us do a few things to our home before we do that.  I, for instance, usually do a few extras before I invite people over to my home.  I might dust the furniture.  I for sure straighten up my piles of books and notes that are usually all over the place.  I most likely will put out some refreshments.  I want my guests to feel at home.  Welcome. 

Now think of that in blog terms.  Before I would go out commenting and seeking readership, I made sure that whatever was the current post on my blog was one I wanted people to read and partake in discussing.  I would have up a discussion post I was particularly proud of, or a review that I felt was timely and could create a buzz.  I wanted people who came, perhaps for the first time to my blog, to make a note to come again.  It’s not an exact science, but that is how I did it.

5.  To meme or not to meme… that really is a good question. 

Meme’s.  Some people love them.  Others do not.  Are they a great way to drive traffic?  You bet.  Are they all you should blog about?  Absolutely not. 

Meme’s serve a great purpose and can be a lot of fun.  I host the Monday, What Are You Reading? meme and love the people I have met through it who, as I had hoped, many have become regular readers.  That meme has brought many people to Book Journey through the years and for that I am grateful.  In fact in the early months I participated in many memes, which is fine – I would just encourage you to make sure you are not more memes that content.

What do I mean?  If you are only doing memes or the majority meme’s, what draws in readers beyond the meme?  As I mentioned above, memes are wonderful for bringing in new readers, and yes, some of those readers will only connect to you through that meme… but some, SOME will like your blog and want to come back to see what else you offer.  My suggestion is a sprinkle of meme’s is a wonderful additive to your blog, but also be sure to have posts on what your blog is about …. is it book reviews?  Then have book reviews, is it cooking?  Then be posting those great recipes!

I like to mix meme’s with posts I am writing anyway.  Alyce from At Home With Books hosts Saturday Snapshot which is posting pictures you have taken, and I tie that in with my Morning Meandering post which was going up anyway.  On Fridays, Jen at Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes where you can link your audio reviews.  I listen to so much audio I usually have an audio post going up anyway, and linking to her meme only helps drive more traffic to my review.  Candice at Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking which is a great way to link up and reviews on cook books, or books that have inspired you to try to make something.  Again, for me this is not an additional post, but a post of a review and food that was going to go up anyway. 

6.  Pages.  A blogger’s best friend

Remember above I talked about cleaning up those sidebars?  A lot of that sidebar stuff is good stuff.. things you do want to keep to the forefront without it looking sloppy.  I mentioned I used to have a picture of each author I had interviewed on my sidebar.  I still want my readers to have easy access to those posts, so I created a page for them.  You will see under my header a bar that has titles like Home, About Me…. this is where I neatly can store information my readers may want access to.  Want to know more about me?  Click About me.  Curious about my review policy (and seriously, if you do not have one… get one!  Truly a lifesaver!), you can find my review policy easy enough.  And those Author interviews?  There they all are under author chats.  I also have a page to keep track of my challenges in a neat space that does not add clutter to the blog. 

I work with wordpress and do not know a lot about blogger but I believe Blogger must have pages that work similar to wordpress.  Pages are wonderful for storing information you don’t necessarily need right on the post space unless someone clicks to get to it.  I use pages for spoilers too.

7.  I want to start my own read a longs, memes, weekly discussions….

Here is where I discuss my biggest epic fail when I was a new blogger.  I loved that people were doing on their blogs… I loved the memes the regular scheduled discussions and I wanted to be a part of that.  I wanted to be original yet find ways to draw interest to the blog.  (Seriously as you are reading this you are probably thinking, “dang Sheila, take a chill pill… RELAX!”)  As in many of the projects I undertake, I wanted to really make my blog stand out…. and the things that came out of all that were things such as:  I featured a book club of the week which involved people in books clubs getting a hold of me and answering a series of questions I would send them.  Actually as I write this, I really loved that idea and still do, but what happened was I ran out of interested book clubs within about 5 weeks and so that died away.  I created Wordshakers On-line book club which I also loved the idea of, but with my work life, active life, my own book club as well… I struggled to keep up with it and eventually it too fell to the way side and now I just try to do bi-monthly read a longs.  Another, and a few of you will remember this one (Ryan, Laurel, Hannah, Alison…) I had a weekly meme called Word Balderdash where we would take the word verification from our comments and make up new meanings for them (ok that one was fun, it just never caught on…)

For giggles… here are a few of those from when this was active in 2009:

Revent: When one becomes so upset about something they have to just get it out so they vent about it.  Then…. hours later, something triggers  this anger  again and causes one to revent.

Gaspr: Casper the Ghost’s annoying cousin.  Due to Gaspr’s asma…. he is always trying to get in more air and creating breathy noises that really can ruin a good night of haunting.  Since Casper is the friendly ghost, he often is the one chosen to hang out with Gaspr.

Cercula:  Dracula’s half brother who has an inner ear infection which causes him to run in circles…. thus taking the fear factor away from potential victims as they can just…. well…… walk away.

AND my point is in talking about all of this is when you choose to start a meme or weekly discussion topic, whatever, try to be sure you are in it for the long haul. I don’t think it is bad to try new things and then they fall away, I just think I did it A LOT.

On a better note, there is one I tried that sticks to this day and that is the Morning Meanderings.  In the early days, I only talked about books and never strayed from that topic.  Then one day, I wanted to talk about crazy life happenings and I wrote a post called Morning Meanderings.  I know I told people that this was me “unplugged”.  I received email about that post from readers saying how much they liked reading about my life happenings.  When I talked about my fitness triumphs and fails in the Meanderings, they liked that too, some saying I inspired them to get out and walk in the mornings.  Mainly the meanderings were me picking on me… but readers like it.  Many tell me they love to open up their email in the morning and see what I have going on next.  The Morning Meanderings, stick to this day.

8.  Social Media – yes?  no?  Maybe?

*sigh*  I have a love hate relationship with social media.  Mainly because to me, it is ONE MORE THING.  And honestly, you don’ have to use social media, although I have to say I know it adds to my blogging relationships with other readers, and it adds to my blog.  SO that said, here is what I use that works the best for me and my limited time.  Twitter (can I get a “YEAH!”) While Twitter does take effort on my part, I can not deny that it it does build on my blogging experience.  I use Twitter to link my posts… the good ones I will tweet about several times throughout the day to capture people on-line at different times.  I only use Twitter for bookish friends… I have no other twitter account nor do I need one.  Many people have a Facebook page that connects to their blog.  I do not.  There may be value to that, I just do not see it.  One thing I can say I learned is that Pinterest is a great blog asset and thank you to Joy from Joy’s book blog sharing that information during the last Bloggiesta.  By linking your reviews on Pinterest back to your blog, Joy shared that she has seen significant traffic coming from that direction.  I actually created a Pinterest account off of that advice.

Bottom line for me on social media- if traffic driving, blog relationship building is important to you, Twitter and Pinterest are the two I suggest. 

9.  It’s Me!  Sheila!  Remember????

Blog identity.  In 2009 Natasha from Maw Books drew my attention to this.  Your blog should be identifiable to your readers.  Its funny how that works.  For me, I will be clicking over to read someones review and know where I am as I read the post due to the layout, the look, the feel of the blog.  It is funny how that throws me off when someone changes up their blog look.  I will know who’s blog I am going to and I will be reading a post when suddenly… I don’t know where I am.  Seriously.  I will quickly scroll to the top and identify the blog by the name, but the new layout will throw me off.

Now I like to change up the blog and have a history of doing this once a year, usually around Bloggiesta time when I am doing blog housekeeping and suddenly feel the need for change.  Knowing how I feel when other bloggers do that (LOST!) this time I made my header identifiable to me.  Yup… my pic is on it.  That was more strategic than anything, I don’t mean strategic like sneaky…. but I mean so when someone came to Book Journey and went “WHOA!!!  Where did I go?” When they looked at my header, they would know it was me.  I am a reviewer who posts my picture frequently due to events I am in, group pics with friends etc, that makes me identifiable (that works for me – I know that is not something everyone wants to do)…   Another cool side effect to that is, when I do things like go to BEA, people know me from my blog because they have seen what I look like.  I like striking up conversations with readers so that is a plus for me.  :D

Another thing on that blog identity… when I made my new business cards for BEA this year, I used my header on them.  My thought behind this is you can pick up a lot of business cards at BEA and other bookish events… I wanted people to be able to identify the card to the blog instantly by them all matching. 

 

 

 

 

10.  It looks like people are visiting my blog by the hits, but I am not getting a lot of comments!  (*this point was added on 6/18/12)

People are visiting.. your stats show that… but where are the comments?  This can be frustrating.  Here area few things I can think of that may help with that…

1.  Does the way you write your posts encourage comments/discussion?  On many of my posts, especially my non review ones, I ask a question at the end.  It could be if people have had a similar experience and I encourage them to share.  Try to think of ways to write your posts that encourage discussion. 

2.  Comment on the comments.  When I first started blogging an incredible blogger called J Kaye was the first blogger I seen do this.  She encouraged conversation, and when I would comment on her blog, she would respond.  This honestly, would keep me coming back to see what she had to say.  I always get excited now when I see other blogs doing that.  It created conversation.  It build up readers.  I know this isn’t for everyone, this is just something I do and enjoy doing it.  :D

3.  Take a good look at how comments work on your blog.  Is the comment area easy to see and use?  I have been on blogs where I want to comment and actually can not figure out how!  Depending on how much time I have, I will try to find the comment area, but sometimes I admit I have just given up in frustration and went away.   Bottom line:  you want to make sure commenting is easy to do if comments are something you value in your blog experience.  :D


That’s all I have.  This post was one I have wanted to write for a while, then thought nah… and then today when I thought I was sitting down to add links to posts I have put up the past few weeks, instead I started writing this.  So – use any of it if you can… this may not work for everyone, but if there is any take away from this that you can use, then I am happy to have done that much :D 

Please feel free to add things in the comments that I did not, ask any questions, or even add a different opinion to something I did write here.  :D

Come Play Along…. Fun Facts!

Hi everyone.  I am at a women’s retreat this weekend and have eked out a little time to get on line and catch up a bit as well as post this!

This is a fun ice breaker type post which I have always enjoyed and thought I would bring it to you all!  :D  All you do is leave a comment with a fun little known fact about yourself.  That being something that doesn’t necessarily come up in your every day conversations…. such as a funny happening, or a hidden, unique (or embarrassing) talent, instrument you play, or whatever.

I will start by giving you a few examples of my own (and yes they are all true…):

1.  in 1980 I fell off a horse and on a highway by my home and hit my head.  I was airlifted to Minneapolis and my mother was told I had a 10% chance of living and if I did live, I would be severely handicapped.  (ok not funny then, but now my friends and relatives say that is when I picked up my sense of humor.  :D

2.  I have been to Honduras 9 times.

3.  I have lived through a house fire and a tornado – on the same property.  (Seriously. I could not make this stuff up.)

4.  On a dare, I once went into a Dairy Queen and asked for a banana split, hold the ice cream, whip cream, and cherries.  I walked out with… a banana.  :razz:

Ok… your turn… make me smile, make me laugh… amaze me! 

Responses To Your Questions… (my version of The Ask and The Answer)

Yesterday I put up a post inviting you to ask me anything and today I would respond to those questions.   Your questions were fun… and funny and the rest of this post is dedicated to the answers:

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts asked:

SO … what are you wearing on your feet?

Well…. I am wearing my FAVORITE flip flops around the house.  I picked these little jewels up at a clearance sale hmmm… about three years ago.  They have paint on them, they are cracked on the bottom and I LOVE them!  :razz:

How did I meet Al?

This is a great story!  I worked as a manager at Domino’s Pizza fresh out of High School.  Al came in one day for an interview, he was a drummer in a band and had long hair (funny… as now he hardly has any hair!).  The interview went well but as we finished up I told him that in order to work there he would have to be clean-cut… hair above the collar line.  He got up and walked out of the interview.  :shock:  Three days later, he came back clean-shaven and was hired.  A year after that we were engaged.  :razz:

What is the craziest thing I have ever done?

Oh wow… where to begin.  I have done a lot of CRAZY, but I guess most recent in memory would be actually three things, all from this year… one would be jumping into the frozen lake in a prom dress for Special Olympics, and two would have to be colliding with the dude in front of me in June, going 18.6 miles per hour on my road bike on the two-day tour for MS.  The crazy part is that instead of going home after being ambulanced off the trail to the emergency room, I stayed day two and cheered for my team.  My bike, was in no shape to ride day two… neither was I.  :razz:  And finally it was the Warrior Dash first time in Minnesota that I refused to cancel just because I had a cast on.

Crazy #1: Dressed for ice plunging success... click on pic to go to post

Crazy #1: After The PLUNGE!!! March 2011 in Minnesota. BRRRRR

Crazy #2: Click to see this post


Crazy #3: The Warrior Dash in a cast! Click on pic to go to post

Laurel from LaurelRainSnow (and many blogs ;) )asked:

I wish I had pushed myself more in High School, but sadly I did not.  I went more in the direction of Drama class and working on the year book.  If I were to do it over again… you bet I would try out!  :D

What were my favorite memories from High School?

I had a hunky hunky boyfriend (yes I said hunky… yes I said it twice).  My car was a black firebird and I loved that car! My BFF and I used to go everywhere in it!

When I wake up in the morning, do you immediately grab some coffee, and then go to the computer? Or do something else…

My morning routine is pretty consistent.  I get up in the morning and head into the bathroom and flip on my IPOD to the audio book I am currently listening to.  I listen to that all through getting ready.  Then I enter the kitchen, turn on the audio book in my CD player on the counter (different audio) while I make coffee and arrange everything I need for work.

Finally, I sit down at the table, and yes, pop open my emails while I have my COFFEE and then I write the morning meandering.  If  I am lucky, I have a book review ready to schedule to go live in the late morning. 

Shannon from Extreme Reading And Writing asked:

When did you start reading?

As far back as I can remember I have been a book-worm.  In 2nd grade I won the book-worm award… I loved to read, slowed down a bit out of high school and in the early years f my marriage and then came back full force to books.

What gave you the idea to create a book blog?

Oddly, it was my Pastor who led me to blogging.  He knew I always wanted to write and helped me set up my wordpress blog.  This forever, was not my first blog… my first blog was Straight On Through and was just random posts about life and happenings and the occasional book.  After about a year of that I started this one to keep track of my book reviews as more of a private book log of what I have read as opposed to the journals I kept of my reading… the rest is history :D

Kathy from Bermuda Onion asked:

Have I always lived in Minnesota?

For the most part – yes.  I was born here in Brainerd.  In 8th grade after a house fire my mom and I went to live with my aunt and uncle in Soldotna Alaska for a year and I actually started and finished 8th grade there.  Afterwards we came back to Brainerd and rebuilt on the same property, which is the property I live on now.  :D

What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree?

OOH – good question!  My gift from Al is already on my kitchen table, the Cricut and cartridges!  From my sons I have asked them to pick a book off my wish list which I have up in the tab area of this blog for easy access!  :D

Vasilly from 1330V asked:

What’s my blogging routine like?

Lately…. sporadic.  Seems like life has been very busy lately between work and other commitments… at times I mean to write a post at night but find I can not concentrate because I am too tired.  Then, like this weekend, I get in some great reading and blogging time and all is well with the world again.  :D

In good times – I write a morning post of whatever is happening in my life and in the evenings after Al has gone to bed I read and write book reviews.

What is a hard decision you had to make but you don’t regret?

That one is easy, putting our dog down in October.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  It sucked.  It hurt like hell.  BUT – I also know it was the right thing. 

Tanya from Girl xoxo.com asked:

Do you schedule posts in advance?

Yes, as much as possible I do and love it when I am current in my reviews. :D

What’s a typical day like for you?

Crazy.  But really, whose life isn’t?  On a typical week day I:

Get up around 6:30 am

Get ready for work, get the coffee on, and write my morning post

Work 8:00 am – 3:00 pm where I create, run reports, go to meetings, plan upcoming events, return calls to people, set up class schedules, keep current on invoices, reserve space…

3:00 pm – if out of the office on time I try to hit the gym for an hour of cardio, or a group power class

4:30 pm – home, planning supper and reading emails, checking Facebook

6:00 pm – eat dinner with Al

6:30 pm – Al reads his construction magazines or watches tv, I do some laundry, craft, or read

(On Mondays I have a study from 5:30 – 8, Tuesdays book club 6:30 pm or a meeting, Wednesdays I help with Students from 5:30 – 8)

8:30 – Al goes to bed and I continue reading or writing a review on what I have finished reading, maybe a little TV

11:30 pm – bed

Beth Hoffman asked:

What is your favorite bird?

I guess I have never really thought about this!  Thinking about it now though I am going to say hummingbird.  They are fascinating!

If you could have a secret hideaway anywhere in the world, where would it be?

If I told you it wouldn’t be much of a secret now would it!  LOL  Actually if I could go anywhere to be alone I would love it to be warm secluded beach house right on the beach somewhere.  I could read and write at my leisure!

Kavyen from Reading Between Pages asked:

How many hours do you read in a day?

On average I would say one to two hours a day.  I read a lot in the evenings, and if I have time on weekends.  If you counted audio, I probably get in 2 hours of audio in on average per day between getting ready in the morning, drive time, and cooking in the evening where I listen to audio while I am in the kitchen.

How many hours do you spend blogging vs actually spending time online?

Ugh… do I even want to know the answer to this question?  :razz:  Lets see, my actual blogging per day is probably about an hour average.  My on-line time per day between emails, words with friends on Facebook, and reading other blogs, probably add a couple more hours to that.  Of course some days are less… but yeah – some days are more.  :shock:

Christina at Reading Extensively asked:

What is the one book you’ve recommended the most to people this year?

I think that has been The Knife Of Never Letting Go.  This series blew me away and I think everyone needs to read it.

What book would you want to receive for Christmas this year?

There are a few I really am anxious about but I think I would really like The Future Of Us by Jay Asher.  He impressed me so much with Thirteen Reasons Why. 

I love your blog and notice that though you have such a busy life you still find time to write blog posts and reviews. What is your secret?

COFFEE.  :razz:  Actually I think it is because I have a husband who is out of the house from 5:30 am – 6:00 pm (sometimes later depending on the time of year).  We had our kids early so we are young for them to be all grown up and gone but they are.  I work 25 hours a week and that leaves me with quite a bit of reading and blogging time.

Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

Our holiday gatherings are usually just us and the boys and we like to spend the afternoons and evenings munching on left overs from the big dinner, snacking, and watching movies and playing board games.  :D

When a new book is published and you know you want to own it, do you tend to buy it in print or for your Nook?

I buy the book.  Honestly, I have not done much with my NOOK an I know I need to change that.  I am still a real book girl.   I like that I can loan out a book-book to anyone.

Vicki at I’d Rather Be At The Beach asked:

Were you popular in school?

Define… popular.  LOL Actually I was more in the middle group.  I wasnt a jock or a brain.

Did you get good grades?

This is another of those times when I want a do-over.  I did ok in school but I really did not push myself and my mom did not really push me either.  I know, in hindsight I could have done better.  As it was I did ok, I was mainly C’s and B’s.  I loved all my reading and writing classes… hated math.  Still do.  :D

Name the one thing you MUST do on your “Bucket List”

In a soon to be released post you will see some of my crazy plans for 2012… one thing on my bucket list that I still hope to do is ride a mechanical bull.  :D 

Will you move to Florida so I can go biking etc. with you?

I don’t think I will move to Florida however I do love it there!  My son is currently in the Navy in Jacksonville and you never know when I may decide to pop that way.  I also want to VERY BADLY go to Harry Potter World, so depending on where you are, maybe we can get that bike ride in, or at least a trip to a coffee shop to chat and a book store. :D

Who are your favorite female and male actors?

BRADLEY COOPER!  Oh… did I answer that too quickly?  :oops:

Denzel Washington DENZEL!!!

Natalie Portman

Jennifer Aniston (although some of her movies – not so much)

Angelina Jolie (I know I know.. but I love the Tomb Raider movies!)

Bonnie from Bonnies Books asked:

What wonderful book would you recommend I read in the coming year?

The books I have been recommending as of late are the Chaos Walking Series which starts with The Knife Of Never Letting Go.   Fantastic!  Also, if you love the 80′s and have fond memories of video games, movies, and popular 80′s stars… I highly recommend Ready Player One – oh and please listen to it on audio. :D

Millie asked:

How did you get started in your book club? How does your book club select a book? How can I start my own book club?

I started Bookies back in August of 2001.  It started as a way to bring people together who I worked with.  At that time I had been at Wal-Mart for 10 years and thought it was sad we didn’t have connections beyond the time clock.  We started with 3 people… it grew from there.  We have met every month since August 2001.  Over 112 meetings now!

We select books by vote.  We ask that each person bring a book suggestion to the meeting.  It must be a fairly new release (so we can find copies) and it must be in paperback (to keep our cost down). 

To start your own book club I say just do it!  Pick the first book, share what you are planning to do with those you would like to be involved.  If you are open to anyone joining, post about it on Facebook.  Pick a place and a time to meet and go from there.  The library has meeting rooms if you are looking for a public place to meet – or a coffee shop or restaurant is fun too.:D

The Bookies Book Club 2011 Queen Event (click on pic for post)

Alexia561 asked:

What do you call soft drinks where you live? Soda? Pop? Soda pop?

Pop.  It’s funny you ask.  I have relatives in California who call it Coke.  All of it.  “Can I grab you a Coke?” they would say and I would respond no, I like Pepsi.  :razz:

What goodie are you going to make for the holidays? (I need ideas too!)

Time is of the essence so I am thinking I am going to make some cookies (recipe is going up later today in a Weekend Cooking post), Chocolate and Caramel covered pretzel rods, and Chocolate Biscotti – which is always a hit.  I will post the other two recipes this week. :D

Do you own a Time Turner like Hermione? Otherwise, how on earth do you keep up with your busy schedule???

I wish I owned a time turner!  Now I want to go back to my above answer to Kathy about what I would like to see under the tree!  Totally time turner.  :D  As far as my schedule I just go and go and go… and then I crash for a day or two (like this weekend).  I can keep the pace up for only so long and then I don’t want to leave the house, talk on the phone, or socialize in any way (beyond this blog).  Yet, once I recharge, I am itching to go go go again!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

There was a time I would have said Florida… I love WARM.  I hate COLD.  But, now there is so much I do love about Minnesota, our seasons are intense, but beautiful (except winter).  I love my friends, I love the bike trails, the long distance rides, adventures, hiking…  Winter I could go to Florida… :D

Nise from Under The Boardwalk asked:

Which side of the bed to you sleep on standing at the foot and looking toward the headboard?

I sleep on the right side of the bed at home.  Oddly though, if I go to our cabin and Al is not with, I choose the left side there. 

Are you a back, stomach or side sleeper?

Stomach and side, but never on my back…  I have no idea why….

Is there a question that you are hoping no one asks, if so, what’s the question?

What are you wearing?  LOL…. that’s just an awkward/creepy question always!

Marce from Tea Time With Marce asked:

Where has your favourite vacation spot been?

I am going with Costa Rica.  It was a gorgeous trip and we were able to explore a rain forest and swing through it too!  Fantastic place we stayed at – all-inclusive and the tan I got and the books I read!

Have you ever did extreme sports and if not would you?

Define extreme… LOL… actually I am going to do the Tough Mudder event coming here in May.  It is supposed to be really extreme and I am scared and excited all at once!  I will talk more about this in the next few weeks.  :D

What has been your favourite Spoiler book button conversation so far?

Excellent question and man, I miss that spoiler button…I need some big exciting/controversial books to hash out!  The Hunger Games spoiler page still gets hits, people yelling PEETA at me….LOL, The Lightning Thief made me the most angry, but ROOM by Emma Donoghue was probably the best with even a little conversation with the author!

SO wow, that was a lot of fun!  Thanks for the questions :D

I Am Ready To Answer Your Questions

 

Ok this is a total shameful taking of another persons idea from another blog.  Jill at Fizzy Thoughts posted on this just yesterday.  I loved the idea of being able to ask her anything, and I did.  :razz:  Then I went back and peaked at her post again later in the day to see what others were asking her.  They had great questions.

I have always been one of those people who when one of those questions surveys have been sent by email from a friend, I have to fill them out, no matter how dorky they are. (You know the ones, :what time did you get up this morning?  What was the last thing you ate?  What are you wearing on your feet?  Last time you cried?”)

Anyhoo….  this morning I scanned through any pics I could possibly use for Alyce’s Saturday Snapshot, which is what I usually do on a Saturday morning.  We were suppose to go to a Christmas Party last night with friends and I thought that would give me good footage for pics but Al (hubby) was tired after a long day and I admittedly was nose deep in a book and did not mind staying home either.  Anyway – no party  no pics…

This morning although I have many posts to write, I did not want to… as the morning inched on… I could not come up with what I wanted to chat about today.  Then…. I thought of Jill’s post again.  Yes, I could take questions today, and tomorrow morning I could answer them.  This could be fun.

So there it is, a confession, a party fail, a little laziness, and finally… this post.

SO ask away!  And be sure to check out Jill’s post too, she had some fun questions that I wanted to know the answers to as well. 

Ask me anything in the comments below, and tomorrow morning I will post my answers.  :D

Movie Review: Limitless

Eddie Morra, is broke, dirty looking, unfocused and down on his luck.  He is contracted to write a book, but can not seem to write a word.  He spends his days snoozing, occasionally boozing, and basically wasting air.  His girlfriend has just told him that enough is enough and she needs to move on.  Eddie…. can’t blame her.

And then Eddie runs into his ex- brother-in-law who asks him to catch up over a beer or two.  As they talk, Eddies brother-in-law says he can help Eddie with what ails him and offers us a clear pill in a small bag.  At first Eddie refuses, he may have many faults, but drug use is not one of them.  It’s clean, Eddie is assured.  They call it NZT and it just makes you clear-headed, taps into that 80% of the brain that we do not use.

Eddie eventually thinks what does he have to lose, and takes the pill.  Minutes later – his life changes forever.

Clear headed, Eddie can recall everything he has ever seen on tv, read in a book, learned, experienced…. he is filled with energy and writes his book in four hours.

Of course, he returns to the brother-in-law to get more of this miracle pill, but finds that his brother-in-law has been killed.  Eddie searches the apartment and is able to find the hidden stash of the NZT and starts taking it daily.

He starts working out and getting in shape, he gets his scraggly hair cut and looks good.  His brain works so fast he is able to comprehend stock market changes and starts making money, thousands of dollars a day…. but it is not fast enough.  Eddie takes out a “loan” from a shady character who threatens to skin Eddie if the money is not returned.  Eddie uses this money to make larger investments and the money rolls in…. people take notice and soon Eddie is working for the biggest financial dude in the world…. he has everything he needs and money to purchase things he doesn’t….

but Eddie is not the only one looking for NZT and he soon learns that people are watching, and he starts to find hours missing that he can not account for and learning that others who have been on the drug are either dying or dead.

 

I LOVED this movie and I have seen it twice. Fast action, and while I am no advocate for drugs – there is a message within this movie that really makes you think about unlimited power and what happens when it is in the wrong (and right) hands.

When you see all that NZT does in the movie, how much a person can accomplish, how much it opens your mind up… you can see the draw… especially for a guy like Eddie who really can not sink much lower.

 

Part of it is honestly I really enjoy this actor, he’s quick, he’s witty, and easy on the eyes.  (Yes… I said it).  :razz:  I thought he had just showed up on the radar in the last couple years when I seen him in movies like:  A Team, Valentines Day, He’s Just Not That Into You and in Hangover.

Then the other day I was watching Failure To Launch on tv and noticed that he played the roll of one of Mathew McConaughley’s friends….

Bradley Cooper and Matthew MacCoughley in Failure To Launch

and I was surprised and I had not picked up on that.  I also found that he played in Yes Man, with Jim Carrey.  Now that just makes me like him even more as here he was pretty much this supporting actor who someone seen potential in.  I like that.  I have always rooted for the underdog.  It’s just my way.

Jim Carrey and Bradley Cooper

I think we keep an eye on Bradley Cooper.  I bet there are more big roles coming for him and I think he is just getting started.

I highly recommend if you are a movie lover, go and see Limitless at the theater.  For this book girl (who seems to be lacking in the reading department lately…) this move was an awesome break from a long movie free winter.

 

Chicken Tortilla Lasanga

This is a recipe I picked up in Honduras last year when I went.  I have made it here at home as well and when they made it again this year I just knew I had to share it.

Sheila

 

Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

 

2 1/2 pounds of skinless chicken breasts

1 large can of cream of mushroom soup

2 cans 8 oz. diced chilies

3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups  of sour cream

salsa

2 packages flour tortillas


Cook the chicken breasts in a pan until done and then cut in bite size pieces.   Lightly grease a 13 x 9 cake pan and put in a layer of tortillas .  Mix the chilies and sour cream with the cream of mushroom soup, then add a layer of this mixture over the tortillas.  Sprinkle on a layer of the cheese.  Now place in a layer of the chopped up chicken breast, followed by a light layer of the salsa.  Put a layer of tortillas over the top of this.

Repeat layers.

Cover top layer with tortillas and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

 


 

Virtual Cookie Swap

For the past 12 Days I have drooled over recipes that Kathy from Bermuda Onion and Julie from Booking Mama have put up on the blogs.  Today they are asking that we join in on this recipe swap by writing our post and linking here.

Here is one of my favorite cookies that can not sit in my home because I could eat them all!  I learned this one at a cookie exchange class a friend and I attended a few years ago where we all met in a huge kitchen in a school and each made 20 dozen of a recipe they gave us, then we all got to take home one dozen as well as the recipes.  It was a lot of fun!

 

Cookie Surprise

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. softened butter
1 c. peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 c. flour
1 bag of mini Snickers (must be mini – not fun size!)
Cream together sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour; mix well.  Wrap dough around each mini Snickers bar, forming a ball.Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Virtual Cookie Swap (2nd recipe)

For the past 12 Days I have drooled over recipes that Kathy from Bermuda Onion and Julie from Booking Mama have put up on the blogs.  Today they are asking that we join in on this recipe swap by writing our post and linking chocolate recipes to Booking Mama and traditional cookies to Bermuda Onion. Both sites are offering a copy of The Christmas Cookie Club book to one lucky winner who submits a recipe!

This is a recipe my grandma used to make when I was a kid.  This is a second recipe being submitted for the Virtual Cookie Swap.


Favorite Sour Cream Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups chopped fav. nut (optional)


Directions:

1.

In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Then stir in the sour cream. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the nuts. Cover this and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

2.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fall Recipe Exchange: Pumpkin Roll

As promised… here is my recipe for My Friend Amy’s recipe Exchange.  Pop on over to her blog and add yours to her linky as well as check out all the other wonderful recipes that have been linked.  YUM!

Pumpkin Roll

pumpkinroll

This is one I usually make around Christmas time and then deliver to neighbors and friends.  I wrap the finished product in wax paper, then cover it with colored saran wrap and use crafting twine to add a home made gift tag and tie it with a bow.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup of canned pumpkin


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet with sides and line ir with waxed paper. Put a light cooking spray on the wax paper and sprinkle a little powdered sugar on the paper as well.  Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.

Mix the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon,nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in a separate large bowl. When well mixed, add in the pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread into pan.

Bake about 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Take pumpkin roll out of pan right away by turning it on to a flour sack towel that is covered with a light layer of powdered sugar.  Carefully peel off wax paper. Roll up pumpkin roll  and towel together, then let cool.

FILLING:

8 ounces of cream cheese

1/4 cup of powdered sugar

6 Tablespoons of butter (softened)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll the pumpkin roll and remove the towel. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin roll. Roll it up again . Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

*  Once refrigerated, you can freeze these as well.  They keep for 60 days and thaw quickly for company, dinners, etc…  This recipe makes one but I have tripled this recipe to make three at a time and that has worked out well.



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