Sunday, April 19, 2015

Foofy * Not Foofy has a NEW HOME!

Foofy * Not Foofy has a new home over on Squarespace. You can find me at

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds so that you can keep getting updates. All prior content has been moved over to the new site but this blog will stay active so any old links will still work. I will be adding all new content to the new site though. There is still a lot of work to do to polish up the new digs so please excuse the progress. 

Thanks for all your support! My little blog is growing and it's all because of you! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

20 Fun-filled Cheap Dates Ideas

I am NOT an expert on date night. My husband and I don't slip away nearly enough for me to qualify if quantity = expert status. But I am a ROCK STAR at making lists. I've been adding to and maintaining a list of potential date nights for years. Since my hubby and I don't get to use this list nearly enough, I thought I'd share some ideas with you! My criteria for this list was cheap, out-of-the-house dates so put $20 in your pocket and head out the door to reconnect with your special someone.
  1. Spend the day searching for the perfect millinery choice for each of you. You don't have to buy anything but check out every hat shop you can find, try them all on (the more outrageous, the better). Model for each other. Snap some pictures (and upload to Facebook, if you dare). 
  2. Grab a blanket, a mini picnic, some paper and pencils and head to your favorite nearby park. While you are there, make wish lists together.  On each, put down anything the other can do for you that would bring you more joy - even if it's just as simple as taking over trash duty every now and then. 
  3. Find a spot to sit in a high traffic public place like a mall, airport or hotel lobby.  Guess the passersby’s occupations, ages and types of pets they own. Make up stories about their lives. (And remember to be nice even if no one else will overhear you - we all need more love in the world.)
  4. Check out a free concert. Especially in summer, free music can be found all over most cities. Even if you wind up at a bar to hear it, you can keep your tab low by sharing an appetizer and sticking to one drink each (no top shelf, of course). 
  5. Locate the optimal sunset-viewing spot in your area. This, of course, requires research so you could turn this date into multiple evenings as you "test-drive" different spots and debate the pros and cons of each. 
  6. Play tennis. Even if neither one of you is any good. You can find tennis rackets for super cheap at the thrift store, steal a ball from Rover and find your local tennis court. You'll get some exercise and probably quite a few good laughs. 
  7. Pretend you've just won the lottery. "Shop" for your dream furnishings in the most elegant craft galleries, jewelry stores, and boutiques your city has to offer. Finish up your "spree" with martinis or a fancy coffee at some trendy bar or restaurant. 
  8. Spend the day taking pictures together at popular tourist locations around your city. Find kind-looking strangers who will take the pics for you at each spot so you are both in the picture for a change without straining your arm for a selfie. Drop off your memory card at the one hour photo then go have coffee until they are ready.
  9. Play Frisbee. Or soccer. Or fly a kite. Or just swing on the swings at a nearby park. Pack a picnic from home and enjoy the outdoors together. 
  10. Visit a new (to you) museum. I'm amazed at all the museums in my own home town I've never been in. If there aren't any new ones, then visit your favorite. 
  11. Go in search of the best coffee in your area.  Ask for samples. If there are no samples, share one cup in each location. 
  12. Go bowling. Nothing says love like community bowling shoes and cheap beer.
  13. Have dessert! Visit your favorite restaurant and just order dessert. If you really need to watch the purse strings, then order one and share it. 
  14. Browse a used bookstore for a collection of love poems, find a cozy spot to sit, then spend the evening reading to each other.
  15. Go to a mega toy store with $5 each.  Separate and meet back after 30 minutes with presents to do together - crayons & coloring books, puzzle, card games. 
  16. Relive middle school - at least the fun part - and go miniature golfing. You could even make a little wager that loser has to give the winner a foot massage. 
  17. Go to the flea market or, bright and early one Saturday morning, visit nearby garage sales and see who can come home with the best bargain for a dollar. 
  18. Dress for a formal party, and then walk down the streets singing love songs or just holding hands. If you have a "fancy" area in our town (here in KCMO, that would be the Country Club Plaza), then by all means, head there and show off. 
  19. Visit your favorite local farmer's market and challenge each other to find the most unique (or bizarre, if you prefer) item there. Make sure to stock up on some produce favorites too.
  20. Go geocaching. What is that? Learn more at Don't be scared off by expensive GPS units. Most smartphones can get you close enough with the free app you can download in the Google Play store or the iTunes store. It's a great way to get outside and learn more about your community.
I'm off to check our calendar now and schedule a little one-on-one time with my terrific husband. Let me know what your favorite cheap date is and be sure to come back and share if you try one of mine.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Excerpt: The Andromedans by Elizabeth Lang

Andromedansbooktourbanner   IMG_0858-0.JPG
Elizabeth Lang is first and foremost, a geek with the obligatory love of science fiction and fantasy. She spent most of her life in the computer industry designing computer systems for world domination the mundane industry of life insurance, which is surprisingly, not as exciting as it sounds. Now she creates enchanted worlds of magic, explores the human condition in the light of future technology and civilizations, and dreams about world domination. Or at least, some of her characters do. Her first book, The Empire was fortunate enough to be a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and she has never looked back.

I'm pleased to present an excerpt from her new book, “The Andromedans,” published March 4, 2015.

As was her custom, Ren Dastrin, one of the most powerful leaders of Tellar, sat on the ledge of a large bay window, watching a violet sunset sink into the golden ripples of the sea. She relished these precious moments at the end of the day when liquid rays rubbed a healing tranquility into her soul.

“It’s beautiful,” said an unexpected male voice behind her, his voice like gentle granules of dry sand and his presence glowing with subtle power that lit up her mental landscape.

Ren Dastrin turned with unhurried concern. “Guild Master Venner, to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

He bowed formally. “Will that be enough for the demands of etiquette?”

“For a meeting that has no official existence, it’s more than enough. Please, have a seat.” She gestured to the couch and sat across from him.

“You’re not interested in knowing how I entered your chambers without using the door or the windows?”

“Not particularly.”

Venner nodded, a speck of amusement sparkling in his brown pupils. “It has come to my attention that you’ve been researching certain aspects of the Guild.”

“You know why.” The more she delved into the past, the more Ren Dastrin realized the conflict with the Andromedans was not the simplistic battle between good and evil; the conflict that looked good in the holovids and the news flashes, even their daily doses of mass entertainment. Before her people joined the fight against the aliens, she needed to understand more about the history of this war.

“Of course.”

“Are you here to warn me, stop me or offer an alliance?”

It was rumored that the Guild Master knew what people were going to say before the first word left their lips—all without the benefit of telepathy.

He replied, “Charles Sester.” The name was said with finality, as if they had already reached the end of their conversation instead of the beginning.

“He’s your assistant.”

“He is also the most gifted psychostrategist of his generation, the one most likely to succeed me as Guild Master. I offer him to you as a pledge of my sincerity."

She finally understood his previous answer and was suitably surprised. Sester was Venner’s apprentice; no one knew more about him or the inner workings of the Guild. From her researches, the young man was rumored to be involved in some of the Guild’s greatest achievements. It didn’t give her a good impression of Sester, but it convinced her Venner was serious.

“You’re sacrificing your apprentice to gain my trust?”

The dry sand of his voice filled the void of her suspicions. “The nature of the sacrifice is up to you, Ren Dastrin. For the next six months, he belongs to you. Do with him as you wish, but when it is over, I expect an agreement.”

“You’re certain I will agree.”

“I have no certainty that you will agree with me, only the circumstance in which we find ourselves. That’s why you came to us first instead of the Empire.”

“You seem to know everything.”

“If I did, we wouldn’t need this alliance.”

The day after the meeting, Charles Sester arrived on Tellar. He came to her as a man laid bare; stripping himself to nothing and falling to her feet as a servant, as his Master had commanded.

“Why are you willing to do this thing?” she had asked, bewildered by the pain of his honesty, his servitude.

“Because you wish to save this galaxy.”

Author Social Media
Facebook: Elizabeth Lang 
Twitter: @Elizabeth_Lang
Pinterest: Elizabeth Lang 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New Book: Not Without You by Dianne Venetta & a GIVEAWAY

notwithoutyou-197x300 Grad student, Lisa Richardson, scours the high country in search of her beloved boreal toad. The amphibian is in danger of extinction, a fate she is determined to change. Single-minded in her focus, Lisa doesn’t realize that she’s being followed by a mysterious stranger. Enter McIntyre Walsh. Ex-marine with a heart of gold, this man lives and breathes duty. Protection. Content with his self-exile on a mountaintop in Colorado, he inadvertently witnesses a female hiker in danger, a situation he cannot ignore yet is unable to rectify. When their paths cross, Lisa and Walsh refuse to stray from their avowed goals and carry on–despite the other. It isn’t until a killer ramps up his game that both are forced to relent. Battling the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains and an undeniable attraction between them, Lisa and Walsh must work together against the odds if they intend to get off the mountain alive.

Buy at Buy for Amazon Kindle Buy from Barnes and Noble Buy for Barnes and Noble Nook Buy from Google Play Buy from iTunes / iBooks Buy from Kobo

About Dianne - Dianne lives in Central Florida with her husband, two children and part-time Yellow Lab--Cody-body! When not whacking away at her keyboard crafting her next novel you'll find her in their organic garden chasing grasshoppers and plucking hornworms all while drawing wild analogies between kids and plants and men. Definitely men. A girl's gotta have fun, right? When she's not knee-deep in dirt or romance, Dianne contributes garden advice for various websites and volunteers in school gardens (a crazy existence to be sure). But at the end of the day, if she can inspire someone to stop and smell the roses--or rosemary!—kiss their child and spouse good-night, be kind to a neighbor and Mother Earth, then she's done all right.

                               Twitter: @DianneVenetta

Enter to win a print copy of Not Without You and SWAG. Open to US residents 18+ a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Book: Ceaseless by Mindy Marin & a GIVEAWAY

Ceaseless-202x300As Ember celebrates her 18th birthday, she struggles to find her true purpose in life. In a world where men rule and women are viewed as objects to obtain, love is often placed last on the list. But everything changes when Elijah, the son of a Native Shaman enters her life. Knowing true love for the first time, Ember's heart is broken when her father forbids her from seeing him again. Manipulated into marrying a man she doesn't love, Ember finds herself trapped in a sadistic game, fighting to find a way back to her soul mate, Elijah. Will a reincarnation spell that binds their souls together be enough to save their love in this lifetime? Ceaseless takes you on a magical journey of love and betrayal that will leave you asking; what happens next?!

Buy on Amazon

MindyMindy Marin is an up and coming author with a background in the entertainment industry. Working as an independent contractor in film and television, she pursued writing as another expression of her creativity. Ceaseless: Birth of the Phoenix is the first book in the Ceaseless series and Mindy's first published work. Mindy was inspired to tell this story of unwavering love after a near death experience where she spent two weeks in a hospital. Having the same dream repeatedly she felt drawn to the idea of past lives and reincarnation, it was then that she began to write down snippets of her dreams and her character's stories began to come to life. Mindy is a mother of three and currently lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband Alex and two younger children.

Follow Mindy Marin: 

 Pick up your copy of Ceaseless and enter to win a Satchel with Earl Grey Tea in it along with a bookmark and some collectable character cards from her book swag attached. Must be 14+ Open to US addresses. Ends 4/27/15 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Book: The Inner Kingdom by S.R. Gibbs

I love fantasy fiction and I am ALL about the strong, well-developed heroine so when I had the chance to share this new book by S.R. Gibbs, I jumped on it! Three ordinary young women whisked away to a magic land of enchantment where they face danger and must learn to rely on each other in a never before needed way. Yes. AND the Kindle price is only 99¢ right now!


April, Angie, and Ashley are just three ordinary adopted sisters, just trying to survive their senior year in high school. They live by four simple rules: They must not tell anyone that they are adopted sisters, sit at the same lunch table, speak more than necessary to one another during school hours, and the most important one, Never get involved in the problems of others. The girls' rules no longer applied, when they are suddenly transported to a distant world; where they are welcomed as destined warriors, chosen at birth to save their world. In order to do this they will first have to journey to three of the four outer kingdoms, within six months to release their dragons, and defeat the evil Queen before she fully regains her strength, and continues the war she started over a hundred years ago. Even in her weakened state the Queen will not make it easy for them, with the girls' sudden manifestation of special abilities, they discover what they were really meant to be. Faced with a chance to be able to return home. They are forced to make the decision to stay in the world where they've found love, friendship, and a purpose, or go back to a world, that tried to take away their destiny. This YA book is on sale for only $.99 on Amazon

Reviews - "In the case of CS Lewis' body of work, I felt that in author SR Gibb's debut novel, there lay the hallmarks of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe." "If you are a fan of the Narnia series, or even animated shows like W.I.T.C.H, then you will surely find The Inner Kingdom by S.R. Gibbs an enjoyable read. It's fast-paced with a reveal at the end." "Author Gibbs has put together an excellent YA story. It's the first I've read in a while that has focused, believable heroines."   9039954_orig
S.R. Gibbs was born and raised in Florida, she have always been a bit of a bookworm. Her two daughters inspire her everyday to do what she loves, which is to create worlds and send people on an adventure from the comforts of their own homes. When she isn't writing, she can be found drawing and watching Korean dramas. Follow S.R. Gibbs Website / Facebook / Twitter

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review: Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: October 7, 2014

Publisher's description:

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself. 

This was a selection from my book club. No offense to my dear book club friends, but I must say this is miss number two as of late. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was also a book club selection and also something of which I wasn't a fan. My book club usually picks two books each month. With all the other reading I do, I usually pick one of the books to read. Sometimes, I don't have a preference so I just put them both on the library hold list and read the first one that comes in. That was the case here. The second book (that still hasn't arrived from the library - I need to cancel that hold) is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

Not having read a lot of Irish authors, I have to ask. Do they all write in stream of consciousness? There were many instances where James Joyce's influence on Tóibín were extremely apparent. Entire paragraphs dedicated to the typical wandering around a house people do when they are alone. The whole book is about the anonymous domestic life of an Irish widow. As a whole, it seemed like an odd jumbled together set of non sequiturs to fill space and pages.

Nora Webster is not particularly likable nor loathable. While I realize the book starts in 1969 and parenting styles have certainly changed, it still felt like she was extremely removed from her children and, only late, did she really start to show them any compassion. Her late husband was obviously well loved. You get the sense, both from what was said in the book and what was left unsaid, that he was the one, true parent as well. Even her grief seemed flat in places. There are references to a deep grief that came while the husband was dying (for example, leaving her two boys for two months with an aunt and not even visiting), but I just didn't see anything more than a numbness described during the time period of the actual book.  Nora comes across as very flat, at times uncaring and absent, and certainly socially awkward. What did she do before her husband died?

And yet, the people around her act as if they are afraid of her. Her single sister doesn't tell Nora she is dating. In fact, she is engaged to be married before she tells Nora. Of course, it's a small town, Nora already knew. There are numerous instances where things are kept from Nora because people are afraid of her reaction. The only glimpse into a possible cause for this is found in a scene where Nora has been asleep and wakes up to overhear her sisters, aunt and friend discussing her. The relatives are telling the friend about what a demon Nora had been before she met her husband and how much she changed once she met him. But then proceed to give an example of "demon"-like behavior that a) came after she had met him and b) was fairly tame all things considered.

There are references to The Troubles in Ireland at the time, but even these came across as flat and merely plot devices to move along a rather dull book. I realize I'm not the biggest fan of the domestic life fiction or historical fiction (though I'm not sure that's an accurate genre for this book) so that may be why I just didn't care for this book. My favorite books are fantasy and science fiction so I am fond of a bit more action in my novels. I would recommend this to anyone who really loves glimpses into the domestic life of another culture or enjoys watching a character grow and change and Nora does do that, albeit extremely slowly and a bit dully.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Book: The Andromedans by Elizabeth Lang & a GIVEAWAY

I just got received all THREE of the books in the Empire series by Elizabeth Lang. I'll have an excerpt of The Andromedans here on the blog soon. I'm also planning to get it read and reviewed in the very near future - after I decided if I'm going to read the first two books first!  The Empire is the first book and The Rebels is the second book.

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find out who you really are. After being kidnapped by a bounty hunter and getting mixed up with a band of rebels, Adrian and Kali are finally together. They find a quiet corner of the galaxy to live in peace and...who are we kidding... Just when they think it's safe, the unthinkable happens. Adrian, a man who prides himself on the perfect mind, loses everything, forcing Kali to revisit what she is willing to do in order to save him, and this time the stakes are even higher. Not only does Adrian's life hang in the balance but the survival of two galaxies. Just who are these Andromedans and why are they willing to go to such lengths to destroy us? What do they want with Adrian? And who is crazy enough to go to the Andromedan galaxy to rescue him?
  IMG_0858-0.JPGAbout the author: Elizabeth Lang is first and foremost, a geek with the obligatory love of science fiction and fantasy. She spent most of her life in the computer industry designing computer systems for world domination the mundane industry of life insurance, which is surprisingly, not as exciting as it sounds. Now she creates enchanted worlds of magic, explores the human condition in the light of future technology and civilizations, and dreams about world domination. Or at least, some of her characters do. Her first book, The Empire was fortunate enough to be a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and she has never looked back.
Author Social Media
Facebook: Elizabeth Lang 
Twitter: @Elizabeth_Lang
Pinterest: Elizabeth Lang  

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I ♥ my Target REDcard

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

I am not a fan of credit cards. There is a time and place to use them (vacation!) but they shouldn't be your day to day go to for paying for things. Rewards programs are often on credit cards but rarely on debit cards. Well, Target has fixed that. They offer the SAME 5% off every day that you get on their Target credit card or Target VISA on their Target debit card! So you are using the money in your bank account, just like your bank debit card, but getting an automatic 5% off while shopping at Target. WIN!  The debit card, like their credit cards, is a free, no-fee card.

Whether you use the credit card or the debit card, the Target REDcard is full of benefits:
  • 5% off every day
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  • REDcard holders can easily check their credit card account balance, make a payment, review past statements, check their debit card transaction history and manage their PIN. They also get to enjoy exclusive offers available only to REDcard holders.

Click the image to learn more and apply! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Book: Hometown Girls – Beginnings by Tressa Messenger & GIVEAWAY

I'm excited to be part of a book blast for a Tressa Messenger's latest book, Hometown Girls - Beginnings. As part of her book release, Tressa is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Woo-hoo! Enter on the Rafflecopter below and be sure to come back and let me know you thought of the book. I can't wait to read it - and can I seriously get some more hours in the day for reading?! So many books, so little time!

hometown tour banner
hometown girlLife for Marissa Lou was great. She was a popular senior in high school with great friends and an even greater boyfriend. She was on top of the world. That was until she made the greatest sacrifice of her life. Daniel and Katie both loved Marissa Lou but neither of them could deny the intensity of their growing affection for one another, no matter how hard they tried to fight it. Being the selfless person she was, Marissa Lou gave Katie and Daniel her permission to date. Little did she know it would be the first day of a hellish nightmare. One where, in her depression, she falls from grace and gets mixed up in a life she never would have expected. With a growing addiction she fights to right everything that went so wrong, but will it be too late? Buy on Amazon | Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publications

About the author:

tressa-2Tressa Messenger grew up in a very small town in Eastern North Carolina called Reelsboro in a coastal county called Pamlico. Being as it was such a small area Tressa developed an immense imagination at a young age. That is where she harnessed her love for writing. To date Tressa lives in New Orleans Louisiana with her husband, daughter and an assortment of critters.   As a young writer Tressa has overcome adversity of Dyslexia and continues to exceed expectations.

Follow Tressa: FaceBook | Twitter | Website

  The author is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card in celebration of the new release! Giveaway ends April 12th at 11:59 EST. Open World Wide. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 28, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge: I'll Give You the Sun Read Along: 1st Discussion

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published: September 11, 2014 by Dial
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBT

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

First Discussion Questions

1) How do you feel about the narration style? Was Noah's artistic voice hard to get used to? What about Jude's?

It took me a couple of Noah's references to seeing people's auras or some such to get that this was his artistic voice. And then Jude with her ghosts. I like it though now that I'm into the book more.

2) Between the two siblings/story lines, which one is you favorite?

Noah's actually. But at this point in the book it may because I'm still a bit bitter toward Jude about art school (not yet knowing the story there, of course, but still).

3) What are you feeling regarding the family dynamics: We have twins, a mom and dad, and a deceased grandmother. Noah believes his dad favors his sister and his mother favors him. Noah seems to favor his mom.

I suspect that this dynamic is a bit true in all families - merely magnified in this family due to the artistic minds, deaths in the family, etc.

4) All siblings have a bit of sibling rivalry between them? What sort of things did you and your siblings compete about? What is as serious and Jude and Noah or more playful competition?

My one sibling is ten years older than me and we are SO different. I don't recall a rivalry, but as the overachiever younger child, I can't speak for my sister. She may have felt it more than me. I was the straight A student, she was the one who was good with her hands (mechanical stuff, etc.). I could see where she might resent my grades or something. But I never sensed it in our relationship. I think the big age gap makes our relationship different than most siblings though.

5) Thus far, what has been one of your favorite scenes from the novel?

When Jude is spying on Guillermo sculpting. The author does a remarkable job of telling the intimacy of both Guillermo lost in his work and Jude lost in watching him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

REVIEW: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: May 30, 2013

Publisher's Description:

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

First, I highly recommend NOT reading the book jacket on this before diving in. I received this recommendation and it helped with the "surprise" in the book a lot. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is narrated in the first person by Rosemary Cooke. She starts her tale in the middle of the story and then proceeds to tell the whole story in chunks and pieces from various vantage points along the timeline. The story revolves around the missing sister, Fern, and how each family member, particularly Rosemary and her brother Lowell, deals with the circumstances and aftermath of Fern's absence. 

In the end, many of Rosemary's memories are shown to be misconceptions once she finally talks to her mother about Fern. I wish the author had gone into more detail about this. Instead, it felt swept away in an offhand comment when I thought the ideas presented there warranted more detail and more exploration. I suspect that the author's treatment of these revelations were to keep consistent with Rosemary's first person, internal narration. She spends a fair amount of time talking about types of memories and the way people form memories as part of the plot of the book. I can see where someone faced with knowledge that their version of events was inaccurate would choose to sweep away that knowledge rather than have to revisit and reexamine their memories. I get that the author needed to keep with the first person narrative. Understanding all that, I still would have liked to see some more reexamination since some of the information was SO different from Rosemary's recollection. Personally, at the time this new information was revealed to Rosemary, I think she was in a place where she would have reexamined her own memories but, for whatever reason, the author left that out. 

I didn't love the book. I didn't hate the book. There were several anachronisms in the book I found distracting. She mentions having a bread machine on the counter in 1979 - bread machines were invented in Japan in 1986. She mentions there being a picture of her as a small child with her father carrying her in a Baby Bjorn. The first baby carrier made by that company wasn't made until 1973 and it wasn't called a Baby Bjorn. And for all the psychology terms she used, she then messes up a grade school life science fact. Rats aren't nocturnal. They are crepuscular or even diurnal. They tend to adjust their own sleeping schedule to be in sync with their human companions. (Says the owner of two pet rats who are fat, lazy little critters who sleep ALL night... and a good bit of the day).  Will I let little things like this mess up my overall enjoyment of a book... yes, yes, I will - if I don't otherwise love the book. I didn't otherwise love this book. 

I did love one quote I found in the book and I am not much one for saving quotes from books (To Kill a Mockingbird aside).  "Kindergarten is all about learning which parts of you are welcome at school and which are not".  How true. How true. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Keith Haring

I'm making an early post for the wrap-up this week since Wednesday's class currently has FOUR openings. The kids today had a great time making life size Haring-inspired "portraits". We had to spread out of the classroom into the kitchen and front hall to have the space needed for these creations. There was a lot of cooperation as everyone helped measure, cut, gather rocks to hold down the corners, outline and then move the giant wet paintings to the basement for more drying time.

Sign up by 6:00 pm Tuesday, February 24th to get into Wednesday's class!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Artist of the Week: Keith Haring - February 23rd & 25th

For the week of February 23rd, the Artist of the Week is Keith Haring, an American artist and social activist. Students will learn about his life, art techniques and the time and culture in which he lived.

Monday, February 23rd, 2:30 to 3:50  - FULL
Wednesday, February 25th, 2:30 to 3:50 - FOUR spaces available

Students will learn about art for social awareness and then make life-size Haring-style wall "graffiti".

To register for this or any of my other winter semester classes, visit

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge: Throne of Glass Read Along - Second Discussion

I actually finished this book in time (by January 31st) but I got busy and didn't get this post written. Oops. I've finished several books in the meantime so hopefully I haven't forgotten too much. I will endeavor to get my thoughts "on paper" more quickly in the future.

1) Celaena receives help from many sources throughout the novel. Of all these character, who do you think helped her the most? What does he/she do or teach Celaena that further develops her as a character?

Nehemia. She helps Calaena learn how to trust and how to be a friend.

2) Who do you think is Celaena was before Arobynn found her?

An incredibly scared little girl. I don't think she was anything more than that. (I have NOT read the novellas.)

3) Are there any aspects of Throne of Glass that you wished Sarah had gone into more detail about?

The "other" world and the magic... maybe more about how Cain came to have so much power and knowledge. It's obvious the king has something to do with it but it felt like she left out a  LOT in order to keep the way clear for the next book(s).

4) What are your thoughts about the kinda love-triangle? Are you favoring Dorian, Chaol, or is it too soon to tell where you loyalty lies?

Ugh... the love triangle thing again. I don't know. They both have their strong points and their weak points. I honestly have no idea. It's already breaking my heart that one of them is going to have his heart broken.

5) What do you think of Nox now? Do you think he'll come back into play later? And are you hoping for it? (Andrea's Note: I AM!)

I didn't think much of him before and I don't think I think of him much more now. I certainly hope she brings him back as she spent just enough time developing him that it seems a waste not to have him come back into play again.

6) Who's your favorite character so far? Do you imagine this could change throughout the series?

Chaol. He's such a quintessential good guy. I suppose that could change if his character is revealed to be vastly different.

7) How surprised were you by who was behind the Champion murders? Did you guess before it was revealed?

I had guessed it had something to do with Dorian's dogs... so I guess I was onto something with the whole animal thing. Maas gave it away some in the scene where Cain ran past Celaena acting a bit deranged and she made a mental note that he seemed to be getting bigger and faster each week.

8) What do you think of Nehemia NOW? And her friendship with Celaena?

Nehemia is a wonderful character. I never doubted her though I could see where Celaena's suspicions came from.

9) How satisfied were you with the story as a whole? Do you plan to continue the series?

I enjoyed it and I would certainly like some answers to the plethora of unanswered questions... and some closure to the many plot threads laid out before the reader. I have The Assassin's Blade right now so I'm currently planning to read the "before". Not sure if I'll make it to the after given the GIANT pile of books I have to read. If there's going to be more magic, I would be more inclined to read more since magic/fantasy is my favorite genre.

10) Do you have any predictions as to what may happen next? (If you've already read the next book/s, you should probably sit this question out.)

Good wins and Celaena marries Chaol, Dorian or Nox. :-) In other words, I don't have any definite predictions.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Mustache You a Question...

Make your very own Mustache Valentine using PicMonkey online photo editor.

Step One: make or buy a mustache. We made ours out of black, sticky-back felt. This was TERRIBLE on my scissors, but was relatively cheap and easy to do.

Step Two: have a photo shoot.

Go ahead and include the little sister while you are at it. 

Step Three: pick your favorite picture and head to Hover over the "Design" button and select the custom size. Enter 1800 x 1200 for printing to a 4x6 print. If you accidentally click the button without hovering first and selecting custom size, select "Resize" in the options on the left of the new screen to change the size to 1800 x 1200.

Step Four: click Canvas Color and select the background color you want. 

Step Five: click Overlay in the far left menu (a butterfly icon). Click "Your Own" in the 2nd column menu and upload the picture you chose. Drag and the drop the image where you want it, resizing by dragging the corner or sides of the image as needed. 

Step Six: if you want to add a frame, click Frames in the far left menu (a little frame icon). Select the frame you want. 

Step Seven: click Text on the far left menu (a Tt icon). Choose your starting font. You can select the ones that PicMonkey provides or the fonts already on your computer. Type your text in the text box then resize the box as needed. You can highlight then change text color or font type as you wish.  For the heart symbol ♥, you can use Alt code 3 (press and hold the Alt button, then the "3" button, release together).   

Step Eight: Save your creation somewhere you can find it on your computer. Send it to your favorite photo lab for 4x6 prints. You can regularly find 4x6 prints for $.19 each and often can find deals for them cheaper. Tada! Easy peasy, fun Valentine. If you are feeling REALLY spunky, you can attach a fake mustache to each. 

From the MUCH younger kids you see in those pictures, we made these a few years ago. It's still one of our favorite Valentines. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” Ordinary Grace follows the lives of two young boys in small town Minnesota the summer of 1961. Death comes often that summer and Frank and Jake find themselves more and more thrust into a grown-up world as they navigate the dynamics of their family and their town.

My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. In the sense that this book also focused on the kids' perspective in a small town in a "simpler" time, Ordinary Grace reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm sure my enjoyment of Ordinary Grace benefited from my love of the Harper Lee classic. This book was, though, at it's core, a who-dun-it - an enjoyable one at that. Some "conclusions" were pretty obvious from the start but many twists and turns took you by surprise.

The father, Nathan, was an almost unbelievably gracious and forgiving man, while the mother, Ruth, played foil with great emotional instability. Probably my favorite character was Gus, a friend of Nathan's from the war, who was constantly a rock upon which the boys could lean and a lighthouse in the dark to help Frank and Jake navigate tough issues. Yet, he was flawed in very real, authentic ways.

The one distraction for me was the layout of the town. I don't think the author used a real town or a map of his imaginary town or he was bad at describing directions of things. Many times I found myself "lost" in town (no, the trestle is the OTHER WAY!). Or a description that something was past of the edge of town, with a real sense that it was far away - tucked away on purpose - but then it was only a 5 minute car ride later on. Or a bike ride in the middle of the night from the poor part of town to WAY up in the high rent area - again, earlier depicted as far away - that takes very little time. Given how I mentally "Google map" the books I read, these discrepancies were jarringly noteworthy as I read.

All and all, an engaging read. This was a book club selection for me and not something I would have likely picked up on my own.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Artist of the Week: Georgia O'Keefe - February 2nd & 4th

For the week of February 2nd, the Artist of the Week is Georgia O'Keefe, an American artist best known for her large-format paintings of flower blossoms. Students will learn about her life, art techniques and the time and culture in which she lived. Students will then have the chance to try out some of the  art techniques of O'Keefe.

Monday, February 2nd, 2:30 to 3:50  - FULL
Wednesday, February 4th, 2:30 to 3:50 - FOUR spaces available

Students will use bright colors to create their own O'Keefe-inspired close-up floral print, then learn some basic drawing techniques to make a bull skull painting with Texas-influenced backgrounds. 

NOTE ON AGE RECOMMENDATIONS: My Age 6 - 9 classes are full with a waiting list for the semester and the age 10+ classes are empty. I am changing all my art classes to ages 6 - 10. The Monday and Wednesday classes will be the same curriculum as a result. As always, age limits are guidelines. You know your children better than I do. Focused five year olds are welcome as are pre-teens who want to learn and don't mind a class full of "little kids".

To register for this or any of my other classes, visit

For more information on terms and policies, visit

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Edgar Degas

Not every week of class is productive in the sense that the kids take home some completed art. This week was one such "unproductive" week. We studied the French artist, Edgar Degas, through sketching from a live model (my daughter) and through making "action" sculpture using aluminum foil. As a backdrop to our sculpture, we also made our own scratch paper with crayons and black paint. The sculptures were fun but the kids got far more into the process than the end result. And the sketching afforded many opportunities to explain from drawing basics but the focus turned more to learning those basics than finishing a sketch. Such is the way sometimes in art class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I wish the People of Walmart would go away

And I don't mean the actual people of Walmart. I mean the photo collection website, to which I will not link because I don't want to promote it in any way. And it's not just that site. It's every site that mocks people just going about their life, minding their own business, when some mean person with a camera decides he or she is better than that person and chooses to snap their photo to share and mock with the world wide web.

I'm not talking about mocking people for the publicly displayed choices they make through protest or performance art or whatever. (A certain Topeka church comes to mind). If someone is putting themselves purposefully out in public to make a statement, then by all means, mock away if you don't agree with them. But there are weird people in the world. And that's okay. There are people who don't fit the standard of beauty (or really come anywhere near the ballpark of it). And that's okay. If someone is just living their life, happy in their own little universe, who the hell has the right to whip out a phone, take a picture and subject them to the cruelty of the world? Leaving your house does not mean you are granting license to every a$$&ole out there to take your picture.

Carly Findlay was one such woman who found her face plastered on Reddit and mocked. Carly has two rare skin conditions. As a result, she looks like she is severely sun burned. Carly is a blogger so when her face was used in one of these mean memes, she fought back! And beautifully so. But Carly had a platform from which to launch her defense and a talent for words to help her "win the internet". What about the dude with the unfortunate haircut, the single mom who is going through hell right now and left the house in her shabby clothes to spend her last dollar on food for her kids, the war veteran who is covered in odd scars. Who will defend them?

Parents, teach your kids not to mock people. Friends, call out your buddy when they point, stare and laugh. Humans, start loving the other humans! It's the only way we're all going to make it on this big ball of dirt we're sharing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Artist of the Week: Henri Matisse - January 26th & 28th

For the week of January 26th, the Artist of the Week is Henri Matisse, a French artist known for his use of color. Students will learn about his life, art techniques and the time and culture in which he lived. Students will then have the chance to try out some of the  art techniques of Matisse and the fauvist movement.

Monday, January 26th, 2:30 to 3:50  - FULL
Wednesday, January 28st, 2:30 to 3:50 - FOUR spaces available

Students will use bright colors to create their own Matisse-inspired aquarium still life, then get to experiment with "painting with scissors", just as Matisse did during his later years.

NOTE ON AGE RECOMMENDATIONS: My Age 6 - 9 classes are full with a waiting list for the semester and the age 10+ classes are empty. I am changing all my art classes to ages 6 - 10. The Monday and Wednesday classes will be the same curriculum as a result. As always, age limits are guidelines. You know your children better than I do. Focused five year olds are welcome as are pre-teens who want to learn and don't mind a class full of "little kids".

To register for this or any of my other classes, visit

For more information on terms and policies, visit

Monday, January 19, 2015

Craft Supplies Storage

Even with all the space I have in this house... and the, um, (cough, cough) dedicated craft room in the basement (cough), I still struggle to keep my craft supplies tidy and where I need them, when I need them. Just like everyone else. My homeschool room / office / art class studio is FULL of books, paint, brushes, paper and all the myriad other items I need to educate my two children and all my art and music students. It's not a place conducive to pearl jewelry supplies and all the tiny bits and baubles that go along with that.

Enter my antique sheet music cabinet. 

My darling daughter gave me a new bead organizer and beads for Christmas. I moved into the new organizer and tidied up my supplies, storing everything in this unused cabinet. I'm looking forward to a lot more organized design work ahead. 

The cabinet sits in my dining room. The craft room in the basement sits unused because I'm a social crafter. Even if someone isn't specifically crafting with me, I like to be near other people while I'm working. Having the supplies near where I hang out with family and friends already is ideal. The beautiful cabinet makes it easy to hide a potential cluttered mess in plain sight. 

Now, my yarn stash - that's a story for a different day. I'm still working on the ideal solution for that. Where do you store your main project supplies?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Katsushika Hokusai

As usual, we ran long in class. The two art projects we made both really turned out well. I started with the water color on the lanterns so it would have time to dry. We moved to "carving" the styrofoam sheets for our printing. Unfortunately, my brayer is lost in a box somewhere and I didn't get it replaced before class. A wood dowel and a short piece of PVC pipe worked just fine in a pinch. After finishing our prints, we took markers to the lanterns and started folding and taping. In between projects or while work was being done, we watched several videos on the life of Katsushika Hokusai, as well as on the woodblock printing technique. We discussed Japanese lantern festivals and the common practice of changing your name (A LOT) in Ancient Japan. Hokusai changed his name over 30 times in his life!