Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who Doesn't Like To Eat? :)

I've been absent here for far too long. Sorry about that. I won't bore you with the details of slipping missions and demotivation. Instead, I will share with you,!

Hubby and I are revisiting our eating habits and so I've made a bit of a menu for the next three weeks. I'll share here in case anyone else is reviewing their eating.

We are avoiding white foods: sugar, white flour, potatoes and white rice, plus anything processed. Ugh,...I already miss bread. Anywho, is what I've got for week one. Wish us luck.

Week 1

Monday - lunch: olives, jalapeños, boiled potatoes
     dinner: out
tuesday - lunch: soup and salad
     dinner: cream carrot soup, sweet potato fries
wednesday - lunch: tuna sandwich, cream carrot soup
     dinner: roast chicken, glazed carrots, brussels sprouts
thursday - chicken sandwich and salad
     dinner: sautéed veggies and rice
friday - chicken sandwich and salad
     dinner: lentil meatloaf with mushroom gravy, broccoli, kale

saturday - meatloaf sandwich and salad
     dinner: fish, garlic mushroom quinoa, broccoli

sunday - lunch out
     dinner: minestrone soup

What foods do you try to avoid or eat more of?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

More Books

1. The Loyal Servant, Eva Hudson
Genre: Political Crime Novel

The description from the author's site:  "Winner of the Lucy Cavendish Prize for fiction, The Loyal Servant is a whistleblower thriller that topped the Amazon political fiction chart." and Book 1 of the Angela Tate Mysteries series, The Loyal Servant is a page-turning political thriller with a twist – everything that happens to Caroline Barber could easily happen to any one of us."

What I Liked:
This is a nice, well-rounded crime novel.
Set in Britain, it is sprinkled with British idioms which I loved.
The characters are real without being over the top. I cared about them.
It showed messy lives, nothing perfect here, just real. Compelling that way.
Nice twists - believable but surprising.

What I Didn't Like:
Can't think of anything.

Liked It? Definitely
Recommend It? Definitely to anyone who likes crime novels.
Where to Find It? Amazon
Price? Free to download.

2. Don't Look Away, Leslie A. Kelly
Genre: Thriller

The author's site:

What I Liked:
The female lead was tough enough but not over the top which is sometimes irritating.
The characters were great, well-rounded, likable or not as appropriate.
Futuristic but again, not overly so, just enough to be interesting, not so much that it took a lot of effort to understand.
Cool twist on 911 being the first terrorist attack, then years later the country experienced a much worse one. Again, interesting.

What I Didn't Like:
The climax scene is too short. I don't feel like I got to realize that it was over before we jumped into resolution. Should have spent more time there.
A little too rah rah United States in an arrogant way at the beginning. Kind of made the rest of the world sound stupid which I thought was unnecessary.
At the end, we suddenly realize that even though we thought eerything was wrapped up, in fact it's not. Then it just stops. I know that this is a series but I didn't realize that the book was going to hang at the end. Kind of frustrating.

Liked It? Um,...yeah for the most part.
Recommend It? I don't think so. The ending was really jarring and frustrating though it was well-written otherwise. Maybe.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? Currently $3.33 for download, though I caught it on a free day.

3. Writer to Writer Reminders: Tickles, Tips, and Tricks, Jacqueline Girdner and Lynne Murray
Genre: Instructional, Writing How-to

From Jacqueline Girdner's site: "We're two authors who've had a combined total of 22 books published. Our writing methods are so different that it's a constant reminder of how many ways there are to get words down on paper and tell a story.

So here are 52 tickles, tips and tricks that we hope will be helpful to you in your writing journey!"

What I Liked:
I really wanted to like something because I really enjoyed Jacqueline Girdner's last book (Meet a Jerk, Get To Work), but I just didn't like this one. :(

What I Didn't Like:
I found the style irritating. The two characters tried too hard to be funny and banter back and forth. I found it distracting.
The tips weren't all that good. Very few that I didn't already know and the new ones were not worthwhile.

Liked It? No.
Recommend It? No.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? $0.89 for download

4. The Front, Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Suspense

From the author's site: "At Risk featured Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano, a shrewd man of mixed-race background and a notinconsiderable chip on his shoulder; District Attorney Monique Lamont, a hard-charging woman with powerful ambitions and a troubling willingness to cut corners; and Garano’s grandmother, who has certain unpredictable talents that you ignore at your peril.

And in The Front, peril is what comes to them all. D.A. Lamont has a special job for Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign about the dangers of declining neighborhoods, she’s sending him to Watertown to “come up with a drama,” and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve. Garano is very skeptical, because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up in order that they don’t have to be so dependent on the state—much to Lamont’s anger. He senses a much deeper agenda here—but he has no idea just how deep it goes. In the days that follow, he’ll find that Lamont’s task, and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors—everywhere he turns, he’s not quite sure if what he’s seeing is true."

What I Liked:
Oooh, everything.
The characters are fabulous. The best I've ever read. So interesting, unique, with quirks that don't seem artificial.
Smart stuff.
Twists that you don't predict.

What I Didn't Like:
I thought that the explanation was a bit fast. I felt jarred a bit and had to go back to figure it all out. (this could be because I'm a little slow of course, but thought I'd mention it)

Liked It? Yes.
Recommend It? Absolutely.
Where To Find It? Chapters
Price? $9.49, but try your library. That's where I found it.

5. The Truth About Butterflies by Nancy Stephan
Genre: Memoir

Author's site

What I Liked:
I found the telling of her childhood to be fascinating. Like nothing I've experienced. New and interesting.
I read the first quarter of the book and didn't know that she was a black woman/girl. I thought that was an interesting twist.

What I Didn't Like:
There was something jerky about her writing.
Occasionally, the metaphors seemed forced.
There didn't seem to be an overall theme. Maybe that's too much to expect, but I missed a thread that tied everything together.

Liked It? Um,...yes. I didn't love it, but felt compelled at some points to keep reading. I liked it,...but,...I can't pinpoint exactly what was bothersome to me about it, but there was something that I couldn't shake.
Recommend It? Probably not.
Where To Find It? Amazon
Price? $2.99 download, though I got it for $0 awhile back.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Art Gym

I did something new today. I popped into The Art Gym. This is the coolest place. They have a bunch of tables set up and all the art supplies you could want to use: acrylics, oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoals, pencils, markers, instruction books, yadda yadda. They even have a pottery wheel. No kidding.

Sam showed me around. I should have gotten a picture of Sam,...what was I thinking? Anyway,...

I thought I would try some soft pastels which turned out to be quite hard (what's up with that?) and found out that they are messy and I suck at them. No, truly suck. I switched to charcoal,, same deal - messy and sucked. Switched to a pencil and just plain felt lame.

Fortunately, the deal I picked up for the month membership also included a free lesson. Phew. Already left a message to set that up. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dog Vaccination Protocol

I talk with a lot of dog owners through Facebook groups, at the dog park, the pet store, or just out for our daily walks and it seems that the confusion surrounding vaccination is widespread. Everyone wants to do the best for their dogs, but they complain about being overwhelmed by too much information and contradictory messages.

Let me tell you about the vaccination program we use for our dog and what led us to this protocol.

Our puppy is 17 months old. She received her puppy vaccinations at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. These included the core vaccines (distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus), as well as bordetella, leptospirosis, and rabies. When she was due for her one-year ‘booster’ shot, we did an antibody test instead. She was shown to be immune to distemper and parvovirus, so we did not repeat her core vaccines. She did receive her rabies vaccine at this time as per our local law.

Going forward, she will continue to receive her rabies vaccination every three years unless there is a change in the legal requirements. She will also have distemper and parvovirus antibody titers done in three years. If she is still immune (and there is no reason to think that she would not be), we will not repeat the titers or the vaccines.

That is the what, now here is the why:

Core vaccinations should be given to all puppies to protect against highly contagious, nearly always fatal, and vaccine-preventable diseases. In dogs, these diseases are distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, and rabies. In order for the vaccine to work, the puppy must not possess any maternally derived antibodies. This is the protective immunity that is temporarily given to the pup by the mother. It’s difficult to know exactly when the antibodies wear off, so puppy vaccines are given every 3-4 weeks to ensure that at least one of the vaccines produces immunity.

In regards to follow-up core vaccines, however, there is no scientific evidence that supports ‘booster’ vaccinations. In fact, the name ‘booster’ is itself a misnomer. You can’t boost immunity, you either have it or you don’t. If a dog shows a positive antibody titer, then no further vaccination is necessary. The WSAVA states that “the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet.”  Schering-Plough’s efficacy studies report that “these data support at least a 4-year duration of immunity for these three ‘core’ fractions in the combination vaccine.” From Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy, “Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”  International Veterinary Information Service, Dr. Richard Schultz states that “Our research on duration of immunity for the CPV-2 (parvovirus), CDV (distemper) and CAV (adenovirus) vaccines has demonstrated a minimum duration of immunity of 7 years.”

Dr. Ronald Schultz published a table summarizing his duration of immunity studies based on challenge testing:

Distemper, Rockbom strain, 7 years
Distemper, Onderstepoort strain, 5 years
Canine Parvovirus, 7 years
Canine Adenovirus, 7 years

This is a small portion of the literature and studies available that support a longer duration of immunity from effectively vaccinated dogs. For this reason, we will not revaccinate our dog.

In retrospect, I would not have agreed to the leptospirosis or bordetella vaccines. Both of these are bacterial vaccines which do not prevent infection, but only minimize symptoms. The leptospirosis vaccine will typically provide immunity in a dog against only 4 of the 200+ known strains, and its protection will last only for 6-8 months. “A dog who is vaccinated with this vaccine receives well less than one year of inadequate protection, but is placed at great risk for vaccine-related illness” says Dr. Jodie Gruenstern in a Dogs Naturally Magazine article. It is also reported that the Leptospirosis vaccine has the highest incident of adverse reactions. An interesting evolution is mentioned in a Dog Journal article, “infection rates have severely dropped and those dogs that do become infected are infected by an entirely different strain of Leptospire,” making the current vaccines even less effective.

In similar fashion, the bordetella vaccine will only provide partial protection against 2 out of the 40+ agents that cause bordetella infection. Dr. Ronald Schultz states, “Kennel cough is not a vaccinatable disease,” in a Dogs Naturally Magazine article. The article also mentions that kennel cough is “a self-limiting disease that amounts to as much danger to your dog as the common cold does to you.”

Viewing each of the vaccines in the risk versus reward vein, it appears that scientific evidence and professional experience shows that the initial core vaccines for puppies (or previously unvaccinated dogs) provides infection prevention to the most dangerous canine diseases and so is essential for all dogs. The subsequent core ‘boosters’, as well as the bacterial vaccines for leptospirosis and bordetella, are unnecessary at best and potentially detrimental. Though the initial rabies vaccinations are as effective as the distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus, local laws prohibit titering and so vaccines must be redone every three years.

Who's Up For A Little Kooky?

I should start off by saying that if you are not a fan of kooky, you should probably just mosey on along. I won't be offended, really. If you're still here, let's hop on over to the land of obsessions and oddities.

I've been doing a lot of research on diet, toxins, and vaccinations for dogs. Since Libby started having seizures last March, we have been trying to raise her as naturally as possible. That means natural cleaners (mostly vinegar and baking soda), flea and tick treatments that don't involve chemicals, a raw diet with supplements, and a customized vaccination schedule.

The effects of vaccines on dogs is something that scares me, even if your dog doesn't have epilepsy. So I jotted down a few notes and thought I would share that here. I know this isn't the usual subject matter, but it is writing and something that gets me stirred up.

If you have a dog, this could be really important information for you. If you do take the time to read it, please let me know if there is anything ambiguous or if you have any remaining questions. Thanks.

Dog Vaccination Protocol

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Intentions

Sometimes you start off with a plan and get all gung-ho and then it fizzles away into nothing and you can't remember at all what had you so inspired in the first place. That's how the start of 2014 was for me.

I wanted to write dammit. So I started a schedule, 10-2 every day, sitting at the computer, no excuses,....until I started with the excuses. Then there were more excuses than there were writing accomplishments, and then there weren't even any excuses. Just nothing.

But maybe it wasn't nothing after all. I read a tremendous amount in January and February (filling my well? perhaps). I also started an art journal and have done something in it almost every day of February. None of it is really worthy of sharing (though I have shared some pieces on the facebook page), but wow has it felt awesome. Plus, I have met some amazing women and fabulous artists, and I feel so inspired.

So now, I'm ready to set new intentions, start a new plan, get gung-ho about something entirely different and yet the same. Creating.

Stick around and in the next couple of weeks I'll introduce you to some of these talented gals and let the inspiration spread.

What did you create today?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Books

I think I might have to admit that all I have been doing lately is reading. Here are some more book reviews. Have any of you had a chance to read anything interesting recently?

Soul Thief (A Soul Thieves Book)
By Amber Scott

Description from the author’s website: ‘Three years ago, one horrific night changed his life forever. And now the wolf soul that was invoked to save him is taking over his body, day by day. Can he master his animal instincts in time to discover who is stealing children’s souls before the delicate balance we all depend upon is shattered? Or will he reject the one woman who can help heal his body and his soul?”

What I Liked:
The plot is great. Someone stealing souls? That’s a new one and compelling.
I couldn’t read fast enough, wondering what was going to happen to the missing boy, Tristan.
There was a nice mix of ghosts, wolf spirits, and souls. Interesting.
Really enjoyed the characterization. Each character was distinct and memorable without feeling forced.

What I Didn’t Like:
Again, I didn’t realize that this is a paranormal romance and I’m not a real fan of romance. Having said that, it is not at all overdone in this book and I had to admit that it added to the story.

Liked It? Very Much.
Recommend It? Yes, especially if you like paranormal romance, but maybe even if you don’t. Great story.
Where To Find It? Soul Thief    
Price? $3.86 (I got this free and the price seems to have shifted again, so keep checking back. You might get a better deal)

Son of Holmes by John Lescroart

The description from the author’s website: “The “reliably excellent” John Lescroart (Publishers Weekly), acclaimed author of the bestselling novels featuring attorney Dismas Hardy, here offers a rich and engrossing historical mystery that takes us to a small French town in the dark days of World War I and introduces us to Auguste Lupa.

The rumor is that he is the son of the greatest detective of all time. And the truth of his mysterious legacy may come to light as he attempts to solve the baffling murder of an intelligence agent and uncover an ingenious act of sabotage.”

What I Liked:
This story is fabulously written. I felt submersed.
The book is set during world war I in France. The surrounding war is a great backdrop.
The characters are distinct, memorable, and believable. I could picture every one of them.
There was that characteristic ‘Holmes’ air about the character, Lupa (matter-of-fact, direct, and funny without realizing it).
The use of deduction was entertaining.

What I Didn’t Like:
Not a thing.

Liked It? Absolutely.
Recommend It? Absolutely.
Where To Find It? I found my copy at the library.
Price? Free if you find it at your library. It was $13.99 on Amazon for kindle version.

Meet a Jerk Get To Work, How To Write Villains and The Occasional Hero by Jacqueline Girdner

Description from the author’s website: “An article by Jaki from The Portable Writers' Conference on how to find your fiction characters and settings in everyday life.”

What I Liked:
I have read this book twice and find it incredibly inspirational. When I read it, I run to the keyboard and start writing.
She offers great advice for finding ideas from everyday living and how to turn those into stories.
She captures a great way of thinking about your killer and victim that makes plotting out a detective mystery much easier.
As it is an article (I thought it was a short ebook), it is a quick read.

What I Didn’t Like:
Not a thing.

Liked It? Loved it. Have read it twice already.
Recommend It? Absolutely if you are interested in writing detective books especially or a writer in general.
Where To Find It? Meet a Jerk Get To Work
Price? Free for download.

What are you reading? (or are you actually doing other things, lol?)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January Goddess

I had mentioned the other day that Leonie Dawson has this lovely (free) downloadable colouring book for adults. I wanted to add a picture of some of the goddesses that I had done but my scanner crapped out.

Yesterday I welcomed a new printer/scanner/copier that I got on wicked sale (gotta love Boxing Week sales). This one is an Epson and I already love it.

It works with the cloud so I can be almost anywhere and print. How cool is that? Also, it does not torment me by printing only in pink; it does not print huge pink blobs on everything; it does not tell me that my finger drive is full when it is in fact empty; it does not flash at me BEFORE I even ask it to do something (I'm talking about you ugly Lexmark printer).

So I'm deliriously happy this fine morning. Here's one of the goddesses from Leonie's book all done up in glitter for this fabulous January morning. What are you making today?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Reviews

Part of my 2014 goals are to read at least six books each month. I picked out my six for January and proceeded to finish five of them before January started, lol. I just have Son of Holmes by John Lescroart left to finish.

Here is a breakdown of the five that I have read:

How To Be A Morning Goddess, Leonie Dawson
Genre: self-help, inspirational

The description from the author’s site:  “20 goddess share their own morning rituals, to inspire you & give you ideas for creating, nurturing & loving your own morning goddess self!”

What I Liked:
I enjoyed seeing the wide variety of ways that the goddesses in the book started their day. Some were so very different from my personality and style that it was interesting to view.
I also liked being introduced to some new goddesses and will follow-up with the bio info at the end of each section so that I can learn more about these women.
This was a quick read (47 pages) but interesting enough that I will go back and re-read.

What I Didn’t Like:
There weren’t enough examples. I breezed through the book so quickly that I felt like I wanted more. 

Liked it? Definitely.
Recommend it? Definitely, to anyone who is looking to incorporate new ideas into their morning routine, looking for ways to start the day, or just for the voyeur aspect.
Where to find it? Morning Goddesses

Price? Free to download.

Unchained, by CJ Barry
Genre: sci-fi romance

The description from the author’s website:  

“Fugitive Kin-sha warrior Cidra Faulkner and honor-bound intergalactic treasure hunter Grey Stone are thrown together to uncover a betrayal of catastrophic proportions. The universe will never be the same.”

What I liked:
Strong female character who was also vulnerable and felt real.
Nice twists and turns.
Wraps up with some surprises.
Great dialogue and action.

What I didn’t like:
 Too much passion and sex for my liking. 
The male character was definitely an alpha male, a little over the top I thought (though I prefer a beta male lead).

Liked it? Pretty much
Recommend it? Maybe, if you like sci-fi romance.
Where to find it? Unchained  
Price? $2.89

Lazy to Amazing, Sage Grayson
Genre: self-help, inspirational

Sage Grayson has developed an ebook that promises to take you from sitting on your lazy butt to kicking ass,…all in 5 easy steps.  

She starts off by listing a bunch of ‘lazy’ behaviours. Mostly these are behaviours that are not fully active, not fully accountable and productive. I have to admit that I found myself in more than a few of them.

Next, she moves into her five action tips. The first is having the reader create a vision board. I think this is a great idea and helps to focus attention on the dreams and goals for the year (or quarter, or whatever timeframe you want to use). You can see my vision board on my Facebook page here.  This year, I want to spend time and attention on getting healthy which means all of the usual steps to be healthier physically (diet, exercise, water, etc.), but I also want to focus on my mind and spirit with meditation, connecting with friends and family, creating daily, and starting a gratitude journal. I printed out the vision board and glued it into my daybook so that I can reflect on it several times a day. Keeps me focused and feeling positive.

Sage has four other sound suggestions to help you get motivated to turn your dreams and goals into action and attainment, but I don't want to give them all away here. :)

What I Liked:
Her suggestions are easy to digest and easy to implement.
Her writing style is conversational and approachable.
She gives examples.
A fast read (16 pages).

What I Didn't Like:
If you're looking for something with real depth, this probably isn't it.

Liked it? Yes.
Recommend it? Yes, to people who want a little direction with their dream planning.
Where to find it? Lazy to Amazing 
Price? Free download.

Promise You Won’t Tell? John Locke
Genre: Detective

The description from the author’s website: 
“I think something might have happened to me Saturday night. Something bad.”
Private Investigator Dani Ripper’s client list is nuttier than the Looney Tunes conga line, but she diligently solves one crazy case after another, waiting for a game-changer.
Enter Riley Freeman, 17-year-old honor student.
Saturday afternoon Riley quietly placed a little strawberry sticker on her private area and pretended it was a tattoo. She didn’t tell anyone about it. That night she went to a slumber party that featured drinking and boys. Riley fell asleep, woke up the next day with no reason to think anything happened…
…Until Monday, at school, when a classmate called her Strawberry.
Coincidence or crime? Dani agrees to investigate. And the roller coaster ride begins.”

What I Liked:
I was completely fooled, did not anticipate the twists.
The dialogue was fast, funny, and edgy. 
I fell in love with the main character’s sass (she says a lot of the things we wish we would in certain situations) and compassion (despite her edge, she cares about other people).

What I Didn’t Like:
The very last paragraph revealed the plot twists in a conversation. It felt a little ham-handed, like it could have been done more subtly. 

Liked it? Yes.
Recommend it? Yes, if you like PI stories especially.
Where to find it? Promise You Won’t Tell
Price? Free (not sure for how long)

13, Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Description from the author's site: "A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Savannah has called upon her inner energy to summon spells with frightening strength, a strength she never knew she had, as she fights to keep her world from shattering. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

Uniting Savannah with Adam, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other lost-but-notforgotten characters in one epic battle, for a grand series finale."

This is the last book in a series, "Women of the Otherworld". I am completely and utterly addicted to this series. The characters are amazing without being unbelievable. They are sympathetic without being weak, in fact, they are women who can take care of themselves but not in an over-the-top sort of way.

The suspense is exquisite and the action is fast. It is a book for people who love to be challenged mentally but also love a fast-paced action book. 

What I Liked:
Fabulous characterization.
Never sure what is coming next.
Fast-paced and action-filled.
The romance aspect is a smaller part of the story than typical romance genre stories.

What I Didn't Like:
This is the last book in the series.  :(

Liked it? Absolutely.
Recommend it? Definitely, even if you aren't normally a paranormal fan.
Where to find it? Check your library (that's where I found it) or here.
Price? Free at the library, $15.06 on Amazon.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Colouring Isn't Just For Kids

Sometimes I feel like creating or playing with markers and pencils, but I am zapped for ideas or only have a small amount of time. When this happens, I try to find easy ways to create.

Recently, I have been exploring Leonie Dawson's fabulous website and stumbled across her "Inspire My Spirit" coloring book. It is a free download and has proved to be more fun than I can say. It's kind of like a built-in art prompt.

I've been using metallic markers, glitter glue, and pastels today to make a wild and fun picture. I am often a conservative type gal so this has been a nice way to break out of that pattern.

Leonie has a bunch of other free downloads: books, videos, audios, calendars. Be sure to check them out while you're there.

Would you sit down to do some colouring? Or do you leave that to the kiddos?