Monday, February 29, 2016

Mailbox Monday - February 29

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Happy Leap Day! If you want to learn the surprising history behind Leap Year, you can find it here.

It was a busy week around here. I've got a house under contract, and with the nice weather buyers are out looking. My open house went really well Sunday, so hopefully that house will be under contract soon too.

Nothing new as far as books in my mailbox this week--I have a few bills I'll be glad to share with you if you like. :)

Hope you enjoy your week.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mailbox Monday - Feb 22

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

How is it possible that February is coming to a close? Not much in the way of snow this year. We had a couple of snow days this month, but it's been a non-eventful winter overall.

The children were on vacation this past week, so I took some time off from real estate to spend with them. We didn't go far, but at least we were together.

As far as books goes, it was slow around here. I am thankful for that, as I am just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for books I promised to read and review.

The following book I pre-ordered from Amazon because I'm totally hooked on the PBS series, Mercy Street. This is my favorite time period to read about and I've actually taken a college course that studied the American Civil War. The show is a bit gory for my tastes, but I never miss it.

The true stories of the real nurses on the PBS show Mercy Street

The nurses of the Civil War ushered in a new era for medicine in the midst of tremendous hardship. While the country was at war, these women not only learned to advocate and care for patients in hostile settings, saved countless lives, and changed the profession forever, they regularly fell ill with no one to nurse them in return, seethed in anger at the indifference and inefficiency that left wounded men on the battlefield without care, and all too often mourned for those they could not rescue.

Heroines of Mercy Street tells the true stories of the nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia, hotel turned wartime hospital and setting for the PBS show Mercy Street. Women like Dorothea Dix, Mary Phinney, Anne Reading, and more rushed to be of service to their country during the war, meeting challenges that would discourage less determined souls every step of the way. They saw casualties on a scale Americans had never seen before; diseases like typhoid and dysentery were rampant; and working conditions-both physically and emotionally--were abysmal.

Drawing on the diaries, letters, and books written by these nursing pioneers, Pamela D. Toler, PhD, has written a fascinating portrait of true heroines, shining a light on their personal contributions during one of our country's most turbulent periods.

What do you receive last week?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Healthy Recipe Ideas

Part of the challenge of eating better is meal preparation. Honestly, that's probably the hardest part for me. I want to eat right, but I have limited time during the week. On the weekends, when many people I know are preparing their meals, I am working.

Thanks to Pinterest and the Facebook group I belong to, I've discovered some healthy recipes to try. Below are links to some that I plan to make.

Blender Banana Oatmeal Muffins - no refined sugars or added fat.

Oatmeal Energy Bites (no bake)

Burrito Bowls

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls

Do you have any recipes to share? Feel free to add links in the comments section.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mailbox Monday - Feb 15

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend. We had family visit on Saturday and Sunday was a work day for me. The girls are away for a couple of days, so the hubby and I went out to dinner last night.

I'm so excited that the book I was waiting for arrived. I love the work of Vannetta Chapman and am thrilled to be part of her street team this year.

Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. He brings his brother with him, who needs a change of environment. The last thing he wants for Alton is another brush with the law. He is pleasantly surprised when he hears that Becca Troyer, the bishop’s granddaughter, plans on joining their team.

What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A lack of electricity, certainly, which poses little problem for the Amish volunteers as they help restore order from destruction. But a budding romance? A call from God? And a possible healing of his relationship with Alton?

Joshua’s Mission is a story of love, forgiveness, and the grace of God that carries us through even the worst situations.

I picked up these two Kindle freebies this week:

The last person Detective Sergeant Kate Redman wants to see while she's doing her Christmas shopping is habitual petty thief and homeless alcoholic Charlie Petworth. While she knows that Charlie steals small things in part to get a warm bed for the night, it's still annoying, particularly in the season of good will.

Then a far more serious crime occurs and Kate realises that Charlie might well be involved. But why would he go from stealing a packet of flower seeds to stealing a little toddler? And is there more to this case than at first meets the eye?

A short story written especially for fans of the Kate Redman Mysteries, this short, seasonal mystery is from crime writer Celina Grace, author of the Kate Redman Mysteries, The Asharton Manor Mysteries and the upcoming historical mystery series, Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate.

On the first day of her new job in the West Country, Detective Sergeant Kate Redman finds herself investigating the kidnapping of Charlie Fullman, the newborn son of a wealthy entrepreneur and his trophy wife. It seems a straightforward case... but as Kate and her fellow officer Mark Olbeck delve deeper, they uncover murky secrets and multiple motives for the crime.

Kate finds the case bringing up painful memories of her own past secrets. As she confronts the truth about herself, her increasing emotional instability threatens both her hard-won career success and the possibility that they will ever find Charlie Fullman alive...

I am listening to this audio book I borrowed from the library:

In the first novel of a spellbinding new trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows best. A Blaze of Glory takes us to the action-packed Western Theater for a vivid re-creation of one of the war’s bloodiest and most iconic engagements—the Battle of Shiloh.

It’s the spring of 1862. The Confederate Army in the West teeters on the brink of collapse following the catastrophic loss of Fort Donelson. Commanding general Albert Sidney Johnston is forced to pull up stakes, abandon the critical city of Nashville, and rally his troops in defense of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Hot on Johnston’s trail are two of the Union’s best generals: the relentless Ulysses Grant, fresh off his career-making victory at Fort Donelson, and Don Carlos Buell. If their combined forces can crush Johnston’s army and capture the railroad, the war in the West likely will be over. There’s just one problem: Johnston knows of the Union plans, and is poised to launch an audacious surprise attack on Grant’s encampment—a small settlement in southwestern Tennessee anchored by a humble church named Shiloh.

With stunning you-are-there immediacy, Shaara takes us inside the maelstrom of Shiloh as no novelist has before. Drawing on meticulous research, he dramatizes the key actions and decisions of the commanders on both sides: Johnston, Grant, Sherman, Beauregard, and the illustrious Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest. Here too are the thoughts and voices of the junior officers, conscripts, and enlisted men who gave their all for the cause, among them Confederate cavalry lieutenant James Seeley and Private Fritz “Dutchie” Bauer of the 16th Wisconsin Regiment—brave participants in a pitched back-and-forth battle whose casualty count would far surpass anything the American public had yet seen in this war. By the end of the first day of fighting, as Grant’s bedraggled forces regroup for could be their last stand, two major events—both totally unexpected—will turn the tide of the battle and perhaps the war itself.

Anything good in your mailbox last week?

Friday, February 12, 2016

New Year's Resolution Update: Why Is It So Hard to Stay the Course?

Why? All I want to know is why it is so hard to stay the course? I've participated in three Beachbody challenges so far, and with each one my participation lessens. Here are some things that are interfering with my success. Maybe writing it down will help get me back in the game.

Reason 1: Hectic Schedule

When I started working on my goal of eating better and exercising, my real estate business was on a brief hiatus. I had worked hard all year, so by the end of November I needed a break and wanted to spend more time with the family for the holidays. 

Real estate is notoriously slow at the end of the year and into the winter, so no big deal. Well, that didn't last. Not only did I sign up some new buyers, I'm really busy because the spring market is coming. So, my mornings are usually dedicated to marketing. 

The kids also went back to school and all their activities after New Year's Day, increasing demands on my time.

Reason 2: Tennis Elbow

It seems I have developed tennis elbow in my writing arm. The doctor says I need to reduce how much I use it, especially texting. Um, did I mention this is my writing arm? Oh, and we real estate agents spend a good part of our day texting and emailing. 

At this point, I can't lift anything heavy with my right arm. I have a brace, so that helps, but lifting weights is out of the question. 

Reason 3: Bummed Out

If you checked out my Facebook page, you'll see I won a sales award. In my first full year of selling real estate I was Top Selling Agent in my office one month and took home the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley's Bronze President's Award. 


There was this one other award that I was eligible for, and I was only eligible for it this year. I didn't win. I'm really bummed. There were many reasons I wanted this award, but someone else beat me. Actually, I don't know where my sales were compared to the other newcomers in our area because they don't tell us.

I'm thrilled for the winner, but I didn't realize how much I wanted to win until I lost. 

Reason 4: Overwhelmed

I've really tried to focus on giving of my time and talents the past couple of years. At this point, I am simply stretched thinner than a thong bikini over an elephant's bottom. I dropped one committee this week and one of my commitments ends this spring. That will certainly help, but I need to take some time to assess what I am involved in and why,

Promise to myself for next week:

  • I am going to get back to time blocking and writing my exercise time in my calendar.
  • I am going to follow up with the doctor to see if physical therapy is in order.
  • I will let the loss of that coveted award go. I must look forward, not back.
  • I will start assessing my volunteer commitments. 
  • I will start drinking more water again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mercy Street on PBS

I have found myself totally captivated by Mercy Street on PBS. Based on real events, this six-part series follows the lives of nurse volunteers on opposite sides of the Civil War conflict. This medical drama is set at the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Mary Phinney, a New England widow who is sent by Dorothea Dix to be the Head Nurse at Mansion House. Her arrival upsets Nurse Anne Hastings (Tara Summers) who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War and has much more field experience than Phinney. To suddenly find herself reporting to this newcomer does not sit well. It also doesn't sit well with Dr. Byron Hale (Norbert Leo Butz), an egotistical yet insecure Army surgeon who is intimidated by civilian contract surgeon, Dr. Jedediah Foster (Josh Radnor), with whom Phinney seems to get along well.

Emma Green, played by newcomer Hannah James, is the daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Alexandria. That changes with the war. She finds her family's luxurious hotel turned into a hospital and the family business and home occupied by the Union Army.

Appalled by the treatment of Confederate soldiers at Mansion House, Emma becomes a volunteer and rallies strongly for their needs to be met. She and Phinney are at odds, but they seem to admire each other for their desire to help people.

Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher) is a free laborer employed by Dr. Summers. Since he's lived with a doctor he's picked up some medical knowledge and ability that is unknown to most of the residents of Mansion House. He cares for Aurelia Johnson (Shalita Grant), who is a contraband working as a laundress at the hospital. Aurelia is eager to keep him at arm's length, as her mind is on someone else important to her.

This exciting cast of fictional and historical characters draws you into their world and the conflict that divided a nation. Through triumphs and tragedies these people deliver day in and day out; they give when they don't seem to have anything left to give.

With a 21st century lens we can see how wrong slavery is; but in the 1860s this was a way of life for Southerners, who saw Yankees as interfering where they didn't belong. The issues Mercy Street depicts are many--some that plague us til this day. It also deals with the difficulty of so many diverse personalities living and working together under one roof.

One thing I believe is true for most of the characters is that they are stumbling around trying to figure out where they belong. What happens to Emma and her younger sister Alice will change them forever--just like it did in real life. Mary Phinney has lost a husband and now finds purpose as a nurse at Mansion House, but most men don't want her there--especially the Chief Surgeon.

My one and only complaint about this excellent series is that it is so gory. Mercy Street captures the horrors of war and all the blood and gore that goes with it. If they would have curbed that back, it would be perfect.

I look forward to the final two episodes. If you have Amazon Prime you can watch the past episodes for free. The show is also available on DVD.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mailbox Monday: February 8

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Looks like my mailbox will be looking like the above picture if the weatherman is right. The kids were off from school Friday because of the weather, and it might happen again today. I'll know if I get the call at about 5:30 am.

My mailbox was unexpectedly busy last week. I knew some of these were coming, but they arrived all at once.

A captivating and historical story of two young men on opposing sides of war. In 1874, the U.S. Army sent troops to subdue and move the Native Americans of the southern plains to reservations. Brothers of the Buffalo follows Private Washington Vance Jr., an African-American calvaryman, and Wolf, a Cheyenne warrior, during the brief and brutal war that followed. Filled with action and suspense from both sides of the battle, this is a tale of conflict and unlikely friendship in the Wild West.

Two copies arrived, so I will be giving one away.

All the color and variety of a quaint Amish shop in a charming collection of novellas by four of your favorite authors. Feel free to come in and browse!

I will read Vannetta's story first and then polish off the collection. The next two books are for book tours.

All of the angels in Heaven are preparing for a big event, and Crystal, a little angel, wants to be a part of it. But the more she tries, the more the angels tell her that she is just too little. That is, until God himself gives her the biggest, most important task of all ... going with the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and bringing God's greatest gift to the world. But can Crystal do what God asks? Journey with Crystal as she discovers that God sometimes chooses the most unlikely for the greatest tasks. Crystal also discovers that you are never too little to do great things. You just need to believe and never give up.

The Daffodils Still Grow is a full-color illustrated book that portrays life after a loved one dies as seen from the observations of a motherless child.

What did you receive in your mailbox?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Year's Resolution Update

As you know, I made a resolution this year to exercise and eat better. As such, I joined a Facebook group that offers workout routines, recipe ideas, and other helpful tips to keep me on track.

The first two weeks of challenges were successful. I joined another challenge this past week, but failed miserably. I only managed to get two workout days in. Now, my goal was to exercise three days a week when the new year started, but I've been doing better than that. It wasn't until this hectic week that things fell apart. Looks like some fine-tuning of the schedule is in order.

The good thing is that eating healthy foods is becoming easier. Over the past five weeks less junk foods and processed foods have made it into the shopping cart and more fruits and vegetables and organic foods have been brought home.

Even though it is impossible for me to make things ahead on the weekend (Realtors work weekends), I can usually make one or two meals and use them throughout the week to stay on track. I also keep the refrigerator stocked with Greek yogurt for snacks. I usually boil seven eggs all at once, so I can add some protein to my breakfast. 

This week I want to focus on getting back to exercising five days and drinking more water. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Grammarly Says Valentine’s Day Could Be Saved By Good Grammar

Who knew romance could be saved by good grammar? The folks at Grammarly made an interesting discovering when the team behind this popular writing app partnered with the online dating website, eHarmony, to determine whether the writing skills displayed in people’s online dating profiles affect their chances of finding romance. Check out their fun infographic that charts the results and other online dating stats.

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mailbox Monday - Feb 1

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Welcome to February! It was mostly a snow free January. We had one storm that dumped two to three inches around here, but we were supposed to get hammered so we can't complain. I do feel badly, however, for the many people who depend upon snowplowing this time of year.

Last week was a good one. Real estate is making it a bit hard to work out, but I got two days of exercise in. I'm still eating healthy--except my one can of soda a day. I've got some lab work I need to get done for the bone doctor, so I will take care of that tomorrow. Now, if the tennis elbow will go away, I will be right as rain.

Only one thing in my mailbox last week, but I'm okay with that. I treated myself with a writing productivity book for only $1.99. Thanks to my bi-monthly writing group I am making good strides with my middle grade novel, but I want this extra push to see if I can finish it.

Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, has completely revised and expanded his definitive handbook for extreme noveling. Chris pulls from over 15 years of results-oriented writing experience to pack this compendium with new tips and tricks, ranging from week-by-week quick reference guides to encouraging advice from authors, and much more. His motivating mix of fearless optimism and practical solutions to common excuses gives both first-time novelists and results-oriented writers the kick-start they need to embark on an exhilarating creative adventure.

What did your mailbox hold last week? Anything exciting?