Monday, March 20, 2023

Empty Bowls 2023

I finally got to go and had a wonderful time!  The Sentinel took photos, and I'm in three of them.

Sandy and I have happily decided that this will be an annual outing.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

March Bingo

 It's March 4th and I totally forgot about this until today.  Bummmer....not that I ever achieve anything!

1 - March BkGirls US Challenge - The Indigo Girl, South Carolina-have on Chirp
2 - March BkGirls W. Europe Challenge - Africa - The Lioness (Chris Bohjalian) checked out fr TPPL (also Black Dove, White Raven, a YA HF by Elizabeth Wein about Ethiopia sounds really good) (as well as Unbowed, Wangari Matthai's autobiography)
3 - Whatever I'm reading on Kindle - The Art of Loving Libby Green
4 - Waiting on Audible 
5 - Waiting on Audible
6 - Waiting on Chirp
7 - Wait Listed at the Library - Remarkably Bright Creatures
8 - Wait Listed at the Library
9 - Wait Listed at the Library
10 - any Newbery Award
11 - any recent 4-8 title
12 - YA
13 - 2023 title - Murder at Haven's Rock
14 - a memoir
15 - a "real" book
16 - Kindle Unlimited/Audio
17 - Kindle Unlimited/Audio
18 - short story
19 - 
20 - 

Fall from Grace - Time Weaver, #5 in a series...I read #4 and LOVED it.  Missing persons.
Geraldine Verne's Red Suitcase - 70 year old protagonist for BookGirls YearLong Challenge (KUnl Audio)
The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier
Parting the Veil (Bookbug) Kunl Audio - Louisiana to England Mystery/Thriller
Rachel's Story - dystopian!! Kindle only
The Dark Room - Lisa Gray Standalone
The Midnight Children - Dan Gemeinhart
The House at the End of the World  - Dean Koontz, 2023 KUnl Audio
Close to Home - Dugoni - Tracy Crosswhite #5 KUnlAudio
Signal Moon (Kate Quinn) short story
The Unknown Beloved (Harmon) 1923
The Singing Trees (ME)
The Victory Garden (Rhys Bowen)
The Lying Club (Annie Ward) Thriller
Dark Objects (Simon Toyne)
Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper

in Chirp:
The Girl in the Painting - Tea Cooper
Caught - Harlan Coben
The Indigo Girl - Natasha Boyd

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

19. Murder at Haven's Rock by Kelly Armstrong

#8 Casey Duncan/Rockton
listened on Audible - purchased
352 pgs.
Adult murder mystery - series
Finished 2/28/2023
Goodreads rating: 4.41
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary Northern Yukon, Canada

My comments: The Rockton adventure continues, but in a brand new location in the Yukon where their custom-built community is being constructed.  Haven's Rock is almost complete, but they have been summoned because two of its builders have disappeared into the forest.  The forest is again one of the characters in the story, and much of the plot seems similar to previous plots in the series, which gets a little bit boring/trying, I must admit.  However, there's something about these characters and the setting AND the narrator that just keep me looking forward to more, and I'm thrilled that Ms. Armstrong didn't end the series after #7.  We've still got the major players with the addition of a few new ones....Yolanda, Emily's granddaughter, who has supervised the building of Haven's Rock and ???, the handsome self-proclaimed watcher of all the comings and goings of the community from his "perch."  Never a dull moment, and as much as I mutter about the similarities in the stories, I really look forward to them.

Goodreads synopsis:  Haven’s Rock, Yukon. Population: 0

Deep in the Yukon wilderness, a town is being built. A place for people to disappear, a fresh start from a life on the run. Haven’s Rock isn’t the first town of this kind, something detective Casey Duncan and her husband, Sheriff Eric Dalton, know first hand. They met in the original town of Rockton. But greed and deception led the couple to financing a new refuge for those in need. This time around, they get to decide which applicants are approved for residency.

There’s only one rule in Haven’s Rock: stay out of the forest. When two of the town's construction crew members break it and go missing, Casey and Eric are called in ahead of schedule to track them down. When a body is discovered, well hidden with evidence of foul play, Casey and Eric must find out what happened to the dead woman, and locate the still missing man. The woman stumbled upon something she wasn’t supposed to see, and the longer Casey and Eric don’t know what happened, the more danger everyone is in.

Friday, February 24, 2023

2023 Movies

3 movies in 2023

2022 - Just four?
2021 - ONE MOVIE!! (Continued Pandemic)
2020 - 5 movies (Pandemic!)
2019 - 26 movies
2018 - 51 movies
2017 - 49 movies
2016 - 62 movies
2015 - 37 movies
2014 - 46 movies
2013 - 48 movies
2012 - 37 movies
2011 - 54 movies

*6*  Awesome
5  Loved it
4  Liked it
3  It was okay
2  Not great
1  Nope

A Man Called Otto (2/21/23) Tom Hanks was great, as usual (5)
Marlowe (2/20/23) Atmospheric 1930's setting (4)
Missing (2/19/23) Almost completely done through computer and telephone screens (4.5)

WOW movies of 2023

REALLY GOOD movies of 2023 (4.5 & 5)  
A Man Called Otto (2/21/23) Tom Hanks was great, as usual (5)
Missing (2/19/23) Almost completely done through computer and telephone screens (4.5).

GOOD/FUN movies of 2023 (3 - 3.5 - 4)
Marlowe (2/20/23) Atmospheric 1930's setting (4)


Las Vegas February 2023

Five wonderful days!
2/17/23 - 2/22/23
Drove down Thursday after school and spent the night at Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott at Dulles Airport (23000 Indian Creek Dr., Sterling, VA 703-435-5300)  They actually answer the phone themselves!  Parked my car there and took the shuttle, which leaves every 30 minutes beginning at 4:30 am until midnight.  Breakfast begins at 5 am and is everything anyone might want!  Note: Pickup was quick and easy.  I ended up spending the night here upon my return, leaving at 5 am and heading righ 

Flight out of Dulles (lots of walking, but a great place to fly to and from) on United, nonstop, leaving around 8 am, arriving in Vegas about 10:30 their time. Picked up by Fran and Terry and we had the whole rest of the day to have fun!
Did so many things this week!  
Two quilt shops:  Christmas Goose and Sew Yeah.
Two shoe shops:  DSW and Desert Birkenstock. Purchased a new pair of shoes at each!
Three movies:  Missing, Marlowe, and A Man Called Otto, all at South Point.
One show:  Van Gogh Immersion Exhibit at Aria - WOW!!
Chinese New Year exhibit at the Conservatory at Bellagio - Year of the Rabbit!
Casino fun:  Four times at South Point (love those free margaritas and the Roulette "slot" machine!)
Meals out and meals in.  So much fun sitting around the kitchen island eating salad, warm bread, fruit, decadent deserts from bakeries and Whole Foods and chatting...
Enjoying the outdoors:  Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument AND Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Loved this "slot" machine - spent many hours here (with my free margaritas)
On our way to the movies at SouthPoint
A teeny, tiny part of the South Point Casino floor

Fran & Terry's rental

We timed it perfectly whilst driving down the strip to see the Bellagio fountains!

Van Gogh Immersion exhibit

Year of the Rabbit at Bellagio Conservatory.  We are able to hit this every year we've been to Vegas in February together - quite a few years' worth now!

Love the Conservatory flowers!

You don't see this signage every day...

Desert Wildlife Reserve.  AMAZING!  1.5 million acres.  2nd largest in the world.  35 natural springs.
Las Vegas mountains.  Everywhere.  Gorgeous.  These are ones that are nearest to the Ranger Station at the Wildlife Preserve.

Time to go home.  At the airport.  I never take selfies, but this was too tempting.

Bye-bye Vegas.  One last look at the strip out the plane window.

Crispy Parmesan Potatoes

1 stick butter
Baby red potatoes
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
To taste:
garlic salt
onion powder
Italian blend
    or any combination of whatever you desire

Melt the stick of butter in a 9 x 13 glass pan (in an unheated oven set to 400).
Cut potatoes in half and score tic tac toe design one each cut edge (fairly deep).
In a small bowl, mix the cheese and seasonings.  Stir well.
When butter in the oven in melted, stir the dry blend into it well.  
Place the potatoes, cut side down, into this mixture.  
Spray with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 45 minutes

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Movie - A Man Called Otto

PG-13 (2:06)
Wide 1/12/23
Viewed date at 2/21/23 at South Point Casino Cinema with Fran
IMBd: 7.6/10
RT Critic:  69  Audience:  97
Critic's Consensus:  Check all cynicism at the door and allow A Man Called Otto to tug at your heartstrings with its tried-and-true tune -- it just might sing. 
Cag:  5/Loved it, unexpectedly 
based on the book A Man Called Ove by (which I didn't read)

Tom Hanks

My comments:  Otto can't live his life without his beloved wife, so decides to end it all, with hilarious consequences.  When the new neighbors across the street, a young transgender guy who loved Otto's teacher/wife, and a stray cat all come into his life at once during a snowy Pittsburg winter, Otto's grumpy, unhappy life changes. Very well done movie...and of course, Tom Hanks plays it perfectly.  His own son is cast as the younger Otto, which I personally think is quite cool.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Based on the comical and moving New York Times bestseller, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grumpy widower whose only joy comes from criticizing and judging his exasperated neighbors. When a lively young family moves in next door, he meets his match in quick-witted and very pregnant Marisol, leading to an unexpected friendship that will turn his world upside-down.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Movie - Marlowe

R (1:49)
Wide 2/15/2023
Viewed 2/19/23 at South Point Casino Cinema, Las Vegas with Fran
IMBd: 5.8/10
RT Critic: 23   Audience:  37
Critic's Consensus:  Liam Neeson isn't necessarily a bad fit for the classic character, but Marlowe fails to make a case for itself as either a worthwhile franchise extension or a fun mystery in its own right
Cag:  4 Liked it quite well

Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange

My comments:  Of the three movies I saw this week with Fran, I liked this the least....though I still found it thoroughly entertaining.  Love Liam Neeson.  Loved the 30s setting and all the fancy sets and costumes.
RT Summary:  MARLOWE, a gripping noir crime thriller set in late 1930’s Bay City, centers around a brooding, down on his luck detective; Philip Marlowe, played by Liam Neeson, who is hired to find the ex-lover of a glamorous heiress (Diane Kruger), daughter of a well-known movie star (Jessica Lange). The disappearance is the first twist in a series of bewildering events, and soon Marlowe is embroiled in a deadly investigation and web of lies that he’s determined to bring to light.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Movie - Missing

PG-13 (1:51)
Wide 1/20/23
Viewed 2/18/23 at South Point Casino Cinema, Las Vegas with Fran
IMBd: 7.3/10
RT Critic: 87  Audience:  90
Critic's Consensus:  Missing can strain credulity in its efforts to keep the audience guessing, but a fast pace and relatable fears keep this twisty techno-thriller from completely losing its way.
Cag:  4.5  Liked it a lot

Actors: no one I knew, all good

My comments:  I loved the premise of this movie, all the sleuthing was done using the internet and with a hired jack-of-all trades in Columbia who only knew a little English, and their discussions were using facetime.  Fast and furious internet abilities, much of the movie was watching the computer screen!

RTSummary:  When her mother (Nia Long) disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June's (Storm Reid) search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it's too late. But as she digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers... and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

15. The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

listened on Libby
320 pgs.
Adult CRF/Hist Fict
Finished 2/14/2023
Goodreads rating: 4.21
My rating: 4.5
Setting: contemporary & early 20th century NYC

My comments: I very much enjoyed the metamorphosis that modern-day Abby went through, from learning the divorce-lawyer ropes from an unscrupulous mentor to trying to help divorcing partners come to the true reality of their situations.  The grandmother's story was also fascinating.  A truly memorable story.  Cool cover, too

Goodreads synopsis:  Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight?

Sunday, February 12, 2023

14. Lonely Hearts by Lisa Gray

#4 Jessica Shaw
listened on Audible/Kindle Unlimited
303 pgs.
Adult Mystery - Series
Finished 2/12/2023
Goodreads rating: 4.31
My rating: 4.5

My comments: Fun to have a little bit of a different perspective than usual for this one, though it flips between characters a lot.  It's about women who first correspond, and then marry, prison inmates.  There's one particularly movie star-handsome serial killer that is the star and center of this murder mystery/fiasco.  It went fast and was really interesting.  I like Jessica.  She's flawed, a fairly hard drinker, bleached and tattooed ... and pretty smart!

Goodreads synopsis:  She found love on Death Row with her prison pen pal. She’s been missing ever since. Can Jessica Shaw track her down?

A missing persons case should be pretty straightforward for private investigator Jessica Shaw. After all, it’s what she does best. But this latest case proves to be anything but straightforward.

Christine Ryan is desperate to find her childhood friend Veronica Lowe. Veronica disappeared more than fifteen years ago, not long after having a child with a Death Row inmate, notorious serial killer Travis Dean Ford. When Ford’s widow, Jordana, is murdered in the same way as his victims, Christine fears Veronica and her daughter will be next. If they’re even still alive…

Discovering that both Veronica and Jordana were members of the Lonely Hearts Club, a pen pal service for women who want to write to men in prison, Jessica realizes she needs to find Veronica before the killer does. But as Jessica follows the leads it begins to feel like someone is following her. Travis has been dead for years, so who is hunting the Lonely Hearts?

Friday, February 10, 2023

Ode to Mud Puddles by Elena de Roo

Ode to Mud Puddles

When you're stuck in the grumps on a gray, rainy day,
When nothing is going the right kind of way,
Put on your rain boots,
Pull on a hat,
And go find a nice, muddy puddle to splat!

Not any sized puddle.
Oh no, not at all.
The puddle you pick
Must be this big
Not small.

A puddle too little
Is splashed in a split.
One tiny Splish!
And it's over, that's it!

A medium puddle's 
A middle-bit better.
At least a few sploshes
I'd never say never.

EVening big puddle isn't the best.
The one that you ust eclipse all the rest
     (I must have not proofread, this doesn't make sense, and I can't find this poem anywhere on the internet...)

Deep as a canyon.
So large
You can't see the opposite side.

In wild kind of weather
Whenever it's wetter,
The bigger, the better

          Elena de Roo
          New Zealand poet & children's author

Art Technique to Try: Neurographic Art

This looks so much fun!  An art teacher shows some of her students' work and gives enough directions that I'm sure I could replicate the technique!!!

Mrs. Amsler's Artroom

Another tutorial from Marcia Beckett

from Google:

Also known as doodling, neurographic art is a technique which comprises drawing freeform lines or 'neuro lines. ' These are meant to enable the connection between the conscious and unconscious, gaining access to the inner self by using a specific algorithm or method.

Air Fryer Chick Peas

Great for snack or salad topping!

Rinse, then pat dry, one can of Garbanzo beans/chickpeas
Add 1 T. olive oil
Coat liberally with flavorings:  salt, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.
Mix well.

Air fry at 390 for 20 minutes.

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bake

2 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. pecans, roughly chopped
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 cups almond milk
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 T. ground flaxseed
1 T. coconut oil, melted
2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease an 8 X 11 baking dish.  Place 1 cup of the blueberries at the bottom of the baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Spred on top of the blueberries.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, flaxseed, malted coconut oil, and vanilla.  Pour over the oat mixture and gently press down to make sure all the oats are covered with wet mixture.  

Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top.

Bake uncovered in preheated oven until the top of the oatmeal is golden and the mixture is set, about 35 - 40 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

~from Feel Good Foodie