Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNo Wrimo Update

I officially have become dreadfully behind in my November writing. If you read my previous blog entry, you know why.

Suffice it to say that as soon as I'm feeling well enough (hopefully tomorrow!), my plan is to get this train back on the track and chug away.

But first, I want to share a portion of what I've written so far and shared with my reading group. My goal is to eventually finish and do something with this manuscript. I don't know what I'll do. It may go into the pile with all the other ones I started and never finished, but I hope to get it out of the house and onto someone's desk for perusing. I don't know; we'll see.

Here's a glimpse:

The first time she saw Chad was on a hot July morning. Granna's icy lemonade was causing her glass to sweat. Natasha Howard wiped the condensation with her hand and watched as the cool water slid down her wrist and onto her forearm. She sat on the porch swing, gently rocking, her dirty feet shod in flip-flops that were a size too small. She hadn't asked Poppy and Granna for new ones because she hated new shoes, flip-flops included.

She sighed, wishing there was something to do. She was just wishing it was time for school to start when a baseball sailed over the wooden fence. It took a long arc, and Natasha suddenly sat up, worried that it was going to hit--

No way!” She launched herself off the swing, leaving it careening crazily on the chain, and sprinted to the bird bath. Too late.

The ball landed right in the middle of Granna's really expensive bird bath that had its own little neat fountain and smashed the bird that perched proudly in the center.

She looked around behind her to see if Granna had seen what had happened, but the kitchen window was uninhabited, as was the living room bay window. Then Natasha fixed her gaze toward the wooden fence and saw the planks shuffle and move. Someone was trying to climb it. One of those new kids Granna had talked about who'd just moved in next door, or--

Suddenly a tow-colored head appeared atop the pointed edges at the top of the fence. “Hi, sorry. I hit the ball a little too far.”

This wasn't some little kid like Granna had suggested. He was at least her age, or maybe a year older. Natasha pointed at the bird bath and watched as the boy's gaze shifted to the mess in the middle of the yard.

His eyes grew wide and then he winced. “Did I do that? Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry!” He struggled to maintain his stance on the fence. “Can I come over and see it? My dad will probably kill me, but I'll pay for it to be replaced.”

Natasha held back a little grin as she realized there was no way this twelve or thirteen year old boy would be able to replace her Granna's prized possession. “Come on over,” she replied. “You can come over and meet my Granna. I promise she won't rip your head off, but she might be a little mad.”

“Ok, thanks. I'll be right over.”

Natasha sighed and, since he was no longer in her line of sight, let herself grin. Really big. 

That's the prologue. As you probably have figured out, it's a flashback. The rest of the story goes back and forth between modern day and when Natasha and Chad were growing up.

That's my update for NaNoWrimo. I'm not sure I'll have 50,000 words by November 30, but at least I'll have a start, and that's more than I've had for many, many years. :)

Copyright © 2014 Jami Bennington

Weigh in Wednesday Didn't Happen!

I am so sorry to have to renege on my promise this week about weighing in on Wednesday and reporting my results.

I also am sad to say that I've not stuck with the menu!

The reason is because on Saturday evening I got accosted by an attack of diverticulitis. It wasn't until Sunday that I knew that I was in bad trouble. It wasn't until Monday that I knew what was going on. Suffice it to say that I've eaten soft foods all week, have had to avoid a lot of foods that I prefer to eat and exchange them with watery soups, potatoes, bananas--foods that digest well. Raw veggies, nuts, etc. are out. Salad is out. Anything that could drag this out has been shelved or frozen until I'm well again.

What is diverticulitis? I've heard that a few times this week. It's where the colon develops pockets that get food particles (seeds, peels, undigested particles, etc.) trapped and results in infection. It feels like the worst abdominal muscle pull that you could ever have. It feels like someone's pummeled me in my left side until I could no longer walk. Speaking of walking--that's bad. I'm really slow right now, and I want to hold my belly with my hand. It's almost as if I've had another cesarean. Very tender, very sore, but binding the belly is a NO-NO. That would rob the colon of the blood that it needs and only make things worse. So even though it feels better to hold my stomach, I can't.

This is the first time I've had diverticulitis, but it runs rampant in my family, and when I called my mom (a frequent-diverticulitis-flyer) with my suspicion, she verified it. I just so happened to be put on an oral antibiotic for my eye that is one of the medications that also treats diverticulitis, so I've already got that going for me. At this point, I don't have to take any pain medication anymore. My pain level is about at a 5, instead of the 8 that it was when it all began. So apparently the antibiotic is doing its thing, thank God!

That said, 75% of the food on my Monday Menu is verboten. At this point, it doesn't look like I can even use that menu next week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Menu Monday #1

Egg, Turkey Bacon, apple
Bacon, raisin, broccoli salad (Stevia in place of sugar)
Ham, grilled veggies
fruit, tea

Leftover bacon, raisin, broccoli salad

Green protein smoothie (vegetable protein, fruit, kale or spinach)
Leftover Paleo Nachos
Leftover ham, salad and veggies
Banana Chocolate Shake

Egg, bacon, fruit
Spring mix greens with grilled chicken with dairy-free paleo ranch dressing, fruit
Slow-cooker pot roast
Energy bar

Green protein smoothie
Taco Salad
Leftover pot roast
Brownie bites (100 cal. ea.)

Fruit & nuts
Non-pasta fagioli
Brownie bites (100 calories ea.)

Paleo pancakes
salad with grilled chicken
leftover chili
brownie bite, tea

As you can see from my menu, I'm a creature of habit. I have a hard time eating breakfast--always have. Also, I can't stomach fish, so most of my meals are chicken, turkey, pork, or beef. 

Check back later in the week to see my progress!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Journey to Weight Loss

I had a baby last year, and since then the weight hadn't budged much. I began a paleo diet, and the weight started to melt right off. It was amazing how much better I felt, and seeing weight loss made it even better.

I've since then yo-yo'd on it, and so now I'm going to use this blog as an avenue to stay on track and continue on my journey.

My plan is to make posts here on the blog about what I'll be eating during the week. It's so much easier to stay on task if you already have a plan.

Each week, I plan on having a "Menu Monday" post where I post the week's menu and "Weigh-in Wednesday" where I post about how the week has gone.

Have your own weight loss journey? Share with me your successes or struggles! I'd love to hear from you!

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quilted by Christmas - a Litfuse Review

  • Series: Quilts of Love
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (October 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426773617

Book Description 
A grandmother’s last wish is to communicate God’s love through an Irish chain quilt.
Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle‑schoolers she teaches.
When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?

My Thoughts
Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey was an enjoyable read. Taryn, the main character, struggled with having been told that she was manipulative and needy. She hadn't had a loving father in her life, and she never felt like she quite measured up. She had a hard time seeing herself as loved and important. She'd made mistakes that resulted in a big life change. She desired forgiveness, but seemed to not be able to believe that she deserved it.
When her high school sweetheart Justin moved back home, Taryn found herself frequently in his company. The secret that Taryn has been keeping from him was waiting in the wings, and its revelation was soon coming.
I truly enjoyed this story. The characters felt real, and the situations were believable. The characters' faith in God was evident, not overly preachy, and was touching. Faith, forgiveness, and resolution all took place in the novel and was weaved along the way effortlessly. 

About the Author
Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After 15 years as a military spouse, she settled with her family back in North Carolina. She is the author of the military suspense novel "Freefall" and is a contributor to a devotional for military families, "Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home." While not working on her next novel, she teaches middle‑schoolers to love writing as much as she does.

I've been given a copy of Quilted by Christmas by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hidden in the Stars - a Litfuse Review

Series: Quilts of Love
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (September 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426773609

Book Description
A quilt holds the secret to a killer still at large—and who his next victim will be.
Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21‑year‑old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn’t help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.
Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer—still at large—silence her forever?
My Thoughts
I had never read anything by Robin Caroll before, and I've definitely added her to my list of much-appreciated authors! Hidden in the Stars is a murder mystery, full of suspense that will leave you wondering "who done it". The characters are very succinctly and nicely depicted, the plot is strong and fluid, and the attention to detail that Robin deftly worked in was very well done. It was a book that kept my attention, and as my regular readers know, that's not easily done with this busy mom who is easily distracted.
Twenty-one year old Sophia finds herself smack dab in the middle of chaos, pain and misery, and her grief and pain came across the page in a very real way. There were elements in this story that impressed me that the author used--the use of a lip reader being one. It was remarkable, and I loved the fact that the dialog between the lip-reader and Sophia was done very smoothly--not a bit choppy or confusing.
I have nothing but good to say about this novel, and I highly recommend anyone who likes mystery and suspense check this out and be prepared for a great read!

About the Author
Robin Caroll is the author of 22 published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of 20‑plus years, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character‑filled pets at home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She gives back to the writing community by serving as conference director for ACFW. Her books have been named finalists in such contests as the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.

I've been given a copy of Hidden in the Stars by Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.