Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review: The Power of Respect, by Deborah Norville

Deborah Norville's previous book, Thank You Power, reminded us of the importance and benefits of saying thank you and being grateful. In this next book, The Power of Respect, she reminds us of another one of the most important virtues, in business, in education, and in our personal life. Through personal stories and the stories of other very successful leaders in corporate America, we are reminded how important respect is in order to succeed.

Schools around the country that were having serious issues with bullying and apathetic attitudes from students have instituted behavioral intervention programs teaching the value of respect. These programs have resulted in a dramatic decrease in bullying, better attitudes toward learning and is changing student's lives for the better. These students are not only learning the importance of respect for their teachers, but for their peers and themselves. Successful CEOs from Zappos, Macy's, Glaxo, Time Inc., and others share with us how respect plays a major roll in the success of their companies. When employees are treated with respect, they are happier and more productive. When customers are treated with respect, they will return again.

There are also tips and strategies given to help develop more self respect for ourselves and our children. Through making positive changes in our lives, such as having a positive attitude, becoming more active, eating better, surrounding ourselves with the right people and other suggestions, we can develop more self respect and become more successful.

This book was an easy, engaging and enlightening read that I will recommend to others.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Home Safe, By Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe: A Novel Home Safe: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Helen Ames's doesn't know what to do with herself after the sudden death of her husband Dan. She finds herself unable to write and becomes more and more dependent on her 27 year old daughter, Tessa. Then one day she receives a call that will completely change her world. She and her husband had always saved money for their retirement, but she is shocked to find out that he made a very large withdrawal before his death. Now she must find a way to support herself and she takes a job doing something she had never really wanted to do, as a writing teacher. Much to her surprise, it will turn out to be more rewarding than she possibly could have imagined.
She will teach a class of unlikely characters, who will not only learn something about writing a good novel; they will teach her some very important lessons in return. I really enjoyed this book as I have all of Elizabeth Berg's books. If you're a true book lover, you'll appreciate how she summed it up on page 229 when Helen Ames speaks to a group of students at a book reading. Here are a few quotes:

"...while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes the image, making it his or her own.....She talked, too, about how books educate and inpire, and how they soothe souls-"like comfort food without calories", she said.
....She talked about how people complain that they don't have time to read...."Books don't take time away from us," she said. "They give it back."

I completely agree with that statement; time reading a good book is time well spent.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Space

I have spent this evening setting up my work space at home, reclaiming a room that used to be what I considered my room before the kids took over. I read a few articles about how to decorate and organize a room or an area of your home to work in. I finally decided that I'll just do what works for me. One thing I can't stand is a closed in room with no window, no natural light. My computer desk is in the front living room of the house where there is a large picture window, so the room is very bright, I like that. There is a love seat in front of the window where the dogs hang out and keep watch and I like that too. I have stewey, our squirrel in here also. I love having my pets around; when I need a break I can stop and watch Stewey do his acrobatics in his cage and my dog Ziggy is a constant source of laughter. I have plants in here, because I love plants and believe they bring life to a home. There is no phone or tv in the room, I don't want or need those distractions. I have my book shelves packed with books I have read, and those I intend to read. I have at my fingertips a few of the necessary reference books, a couple of dictionaries, thesaurus, and English handbooks. I have books of quotes and devotionals that inspire me. I have my trusty electric pencil sharpener and desk lamp that once sat on my mother-in-laws desk. In fact, now that I think about it, this desk I am sitting at came from my in-laws, along with the large maple magazine holder that I plan to use to help organize my space. There are pictures of my family, and mementos from my husband and kids. There are the rocks my husband painted as a child that reflected his budding talent as an artist. There are the shells that my daughter, Sara painted recently that show she too is a very talented artist like her father. I have the granite rock that my son Matthew got off a mountain in North Carolina. Since I couldn't go, I had asked him to bring me back a piece of the mountain, he did. There is the perfectly in tact starfish the kids found on the beach after a tropical storm had passed. There are a few silly items such as the very large eraser I found at a dollar store that says, "For BIG Mistakes". The pencils from the bahamas with "bobble fish" on the erasers that a friend picked up for me on her vacation. My silly rooster on the bookshelf, I am a rooster collector. I have a fuzzy pink ribbon pen that lights up when you write, which is fun, but also reminds me of a friend that died about a year and a half ago from breast cancer. All I have to do is look around and be inspired. I do still have some work to do in here, there is some clutter in the room that has to go, I really want to paint and hopefully will be able to do that soon. But, little by little, it's coming together. It won't be long before this will be my version of "my space".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

If you enjoy hiking and want close up encounters with real wildlife, then Paynes Prairie is just the place. This was our first visit here. We wanted to check the place out as a possible spot for a future camping trip. We went to the visitor center for a little information about the trails, and to get a view of the prairie from the observation tower. It is a spectacular view. After that, we went to a picnic area and grilled some burgers while enjoying the sight of two bald eagles circling just over the tree tops, occasionally landing long enough to admire them and get a quick photo. There were of course many other feathered friends around, hawks, woodpeckers, sparrows, wrens, cardinals and many others.

There are several trails to choose from, paved and unpaved to the more challenging Cones Dike Trail. We chose to walk the Cones Dike Trail along the prairie. We were informed and warned, there was no place to stop and sit, no water, and we may come across wild animals, so be careful. Well, that's exactly what we were hoping for and just what we got. We took about a 6 mile hike along the prairie and had close up encounters with at least a dozen baby gators sunning themselves and several sandhill cranes out for an afternoon stroll. Matt spotted a bobcat peeking out from the brush, who quickly made his exit. We came upon some wild horses, one of which was a young colt. They were grazing just off the path, and eventually came out and crossed in front of us. They didn't seem to mind us being there at all, so long as we kept our distance. At one point, the colt started trotting towards us and the other horses were very quick to surround him and protect him from curious strangers. We had hoped to see bison which have been spotted on the prairie, but unfortunately, there were none to be found today. As we walked the last bit of the trail back up toward the visitor center, through a wooded area, we spotted several deer. It's such a thrill to see them in their natural habitat. They were absolutely beautiful; I only wish they hadn't been moving so quickly so we could have gotten a picture. Driving home, there was an almost full moon. It was a beautiful sight, seeing the moon light up the sky over the prairie. What a perfect end to a perfect day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: What Difference Do It Make? : Stories of Hope and Healing by Ron Hall, Denver Moore & Lynn Vincent

Ron Hall and Denver Moore, authors of "Same Kind of Different As Me", share more of their stories about their quest to end homelessness. Ron also shares his struggle of how he came to grips with the death of his wife Debbie, who was responsible for bringing him and Denver together and was the inspiration for these books. He writes very honestly about his strained relationship with his alcoholic father and how they eventually made their peace.

Denver Moore, an uneducated homeless man who came from very humble beginnings as a boy working the plantations of Louisiana to a New York Times best selling author. Although he is unable to read or write, he is an incredibly wise man who tells it like it is. Denver's stories of life on the streets are honest and sometimes heart wrenching. You will never look at a homeless person the same way again. Most of us are guilty of believing that all homeless people are just a bunch of useless drunks and alcoholics who have no one to blame but themselves for their circumstances. This book will change your way of thinking about the homeless. You will come to find that many of them suffer from various physical and mental conditions that have caused their lives to spiral out of control and eventually found themselves living on the streets. It can happen to people from all walks of life, blue collar and white collar alike.

You will see how a book slowly catches on with thousands of people around the country and begins a movement to end the problem of homelessness across the country. From a woman with cystic fibrosis who builds blessing boxes for children to save money to donate to a book being picked up in a library in New York and begins a series of events that will save a marriage on the other side of the country in Washington State. There are a lot of other inspiring stories that will make you laugh or move you to tears. My favorite being the story about Denver's visit to The White House and meeting President and Mrs. Laura Bush and Barbara Bush.

"And now here I was, an ol' cropper with a prison record, shakin hands with the most powerfulest man on earth. Ain't nothin that can do somethin like that but love......while the president still had ahold a' my hand, God reminded me of that scripture where He says, "Through Me, All things are possible."

This is a wonderful book that will inspire you and cause you to think twice about judging others.
It is a lesson to everyone about being more accepting of others and stepping outside of your comfort zone to help those in need. My hope is that it will inspire many more of us to become part of this movement to end the plight of the homeless in America.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Great Jacksonville Book Sale

It's coming soon and I can't wait. I'm a book nut and I look forward to this event every year. It's The Great Jacksonville Book Sale, usually only once a year, now it's twice. If you're a true book lover like me, grab a little cash and a large tote bag and spend a few hours, or for some it could be all day browsing through the thousands of books to choose from. Prices range from .50 to $2.00! You can't beat that. It's a chance to expand your personal library.

Here's my game plan for the day:

1. Make a list of books I am looking for.

2. Get up early and have a cup of tea and a good breakfast - it will be a long morning of book searching and I will need to energy.

3. Take cash and a large tote bag for all those books.

4. Arrive at book sale a little early so I'm there when the doors open, "the early bird gets the worm", or in this case, the books.

5. First I look for the specific books on my list and hopefully will have good luck with that, one year I ended up with an autographed copy of a book by Claire Cook, you may remember Must Love Dogs

6. After I have finished with my list, now it's time to just browse amongst the thousands of other books to choose from.

7. Stand in line and be patient. Pay for my books, grab a cold soft drink and go sit outside and start thumbing through the pages of one of probably a bag full of good books.

8. Go home, grab a big glass of iced tea, put my feet up and READ! I deserve this after a long exhausting day book shopping.

Good News

It can be so depressing to read the newspaper or turn on the news these days. It seems so much more attention is given to bad news than good. So much of the time I just skim the paper and completely avoid reading the bad news and search out the positive and uplifting stories. One of my favorite local columnists in the Florida Times Union is Mark Woods. I look forward to his column every week. His column this past Sunday was so heartwarming, while reading it I got a little teary eyed. The title of the column is "Ducks lucky, loved" It's a story with a tragic beginning, but a happy ending with a rather eclectic family of ducks. A man was out walking his dog when a speeding car hit a couple of ducks crossing the street and didn't stop. This gentleman, with his wife and a local vet, didn't have to get involved, but they did. This badly maimed duck survived after much TLC and several surgeries. After spending some time at the vet being nursed back to health, then living at the home of the couple who saved her, with her own little pool to swim in, she was eventually taken to her home at what is known in that neighborhood as Duck Pond. She now shares the pond with several other ducks, three of whom are named, Nelson Mandela, who spent months in a cage and is now free, Harriet Nelson from Ozzie and Harriet and Lucky who had also been previously injured and rescued by a woman and her children. I love stories like this, it may seem pretty sappy to some, but it makes you feel good to hear stories about people that care enough about God's creatures to get involved. These are my kind of people and we need more stories like this.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Yesterday we decided it was time to release Stewey. We have had such a great time caring for him and watching him grow. We took him out into the back yard, set him at the base of one of the magnolia trees and stepped back to see what he would do. He immediately turned right around and jumped on my leg and climbed up to my shoulder. We giggled about this, knowing this must be a little overwhelming for him. We set him back down and he started climbing up the tree. He climbed up about 15 feet and attempted to jump to another branch and nearly fell. It took my breath away for a second and I'm pretty sure Stewey was spooked too. He scurried around the tree, climbed a little higher and continued to explore his new surroundings. Other squirrels were higher in the top of the tree gathering seeds from the magnolia cones and I wondered what they thought of this. I know it sounds silly, but I wondered (as I have never done this before) if Stewey would make friends with the other squirrels. Would he get busy building his nest, as he had already done in his cage. Well, as it turns out, none of that was going to happen on this day. We watched as he ran down the tree, took a leap and was on my shoulder in an instant. Well, maybe he's not quite ready, I guess we'll try again tomorrow.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

Donald Miller's memoir Blue Like Jazz was a big success. Then his life stalled and he was avoiding his publisher, in spite of having a deadline for a book. He was tired of thinking and writing about his own life. Then one day he received a call from a film maker who wants to make a movie based on his memoir. In the process of making this film, he realizes the same principles used in editing a movie can be applied to our own lives.

We've all wished at some time or another that our lives were more meaningful, or at least more interesting. Who hasn't wanted to go back and do it again, but do it better. Miller realizes during the making of this film that he has a chance to edit his life story to mean something more. In the process of creating the fictional Don of the movie, he was creating the person he wanted to be. He realized he could also create a better story for his own life, one he can be proud of.

This book was wonderful, it inspired me. It made me pause to reflect on my own life and think about my story. I started to think about what I could do to rewrite my story, and make it one worth telling. Will I just continue to stay in the rut I'm in or am I ready to make some life changes?

I read this book in two sittings over a weekend because I couldn't put it down and I want to read it again. I will recommend this book to all my friends.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tonight I have been trying to give my blog a bit of a face lift. That's not easy for me since I am technologically challenged. I am trying to add widgets, gadgets, links, photos and other items before I put myself out there in the blogosphere. Thank goodness for Matthew. I don't know where I'd be without Matt's knowledge of computers. Things like, html, xml,java script, what the heck is java script? When I hear java, I think coffee! And when they start talking gigabytes, megabytes, RAM, flash drives, zip files and compressed folders and other strange terms I am completely lost. It's like listening to someone speak a foreign language, it's so frustrating. But I'm sure it will all be worth the effort and I'm enjoying a new hobby.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Victoria Gaines

Victoria Gaines

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I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just Another Day

Not a particularly interesting day. Just the usual, went to work, had a long day and came home, had dinner and cleaned the kitchen. See, nothing interesting about my day. Richard went for a cortisone shot in his shoulder today, so he's in a fair amount of pain. They say he should feel better tomorrow and hopefully will get the go ahead to go back to work next week. After dinner, checked in on the squirrel we are raising for an undetermined amount of time - as I have become very attached. He is absolutely adorable, growing and becoming quite the hand full now. It has been fun to watch him grow, but he's going to need a pretty big cage if we keep him. That pretty much sums up my day, going to be signing off and reading for a bit, think I'm going to start The Alchemist tonight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hint of Fall

It is absolutely a beautiful night tonight. I sat outside this evening reading a great book while enjoying the cool breeze. This weather is just a little hint of what is right around the corner. favorite time of year. I love the cooler days and nights and being able to open all the windows and air out the house. I feel more energetic and alive in the fall, which motivates me to do things like clean the paneling in the den, clean windows, work in the yard, get in more walks. I tend to choose the outdoor projects this time of year and end up neglecting a lot of the indoor cleaning because I don't want to go inside. Richard and I were sitting outside tonight and looking up at the moon and thinking about our most favorite fall activity....camping. We hope to take a camping trip next month, I will be saying my prayers that things work out for us to do that and if we do, I will be keeping my fingers crossed that we get our favorite spot, #132 or is it 134?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's late. I have been on the computer doing research, checking in with friends on facebook and trying to create a simple website. I always have good intentions about blogging, but my life is so hectic at times and there just aren't enough hours in the day. I have had the opportunity to finally enjoy some outings with my family and have enjoyed every moment. Richard and I have been taking an occasional Sunday drive with no particular destination in mind. We drove up to St. Simon's Island, Ga one Sunday, thinking it was such a beautiful day, although by the time we got there a front was blowing through and it was gray skies, windy and very chilly. We didn't let that spoil it for us though. We walked around for a bit and had lunch. It was good just to get out. Valentines Day this year was a day trip to St. Augustine where we had a great lunch, then spent the rest of the day walking around and doing a little shopping in some of the shops in the historic district. We finally got to take another camping trip to Salt Springs. We had a great time with the kids, just relaxing, enjoying the outdoors. I even saw a meteorite blazing across the sky one night! We roasted marshmallows, made s'mores and drank wine by a fire. How great is that! Then in April, Richard and I celebrated our 21st anniversary. He surprised me by reserving a room downtown at the Plaza Suites on the river. Now that was a nice weekend! We took a river taxi across to the Jacksonville Landing, where we had a wonderful dinner at Benny's Steak House. After dinner we went for a walk along the river, walked through the little landing mall where I spent a little time checking out a little book shop. We took the water taxi back to the hotel and sat on the balcony and had a drink and stared out at the beautiful skyline of downtown Jacksonville. The next morning after breakfast, we took off to the beach for the Beaches Opening and had lunch at Sneaker's and watched the Beaches Opening Parade. This week I had a reunion with a couple of friends, Mindy and Randy, from high school. We met at Olive Garden, had a great dinner and talked about our lives since school, about friends, kids, and had a great time. It was so hard to break away and say goodbye. Mindy lives in Norway, so thank heavens for facebook and e-mail! So, between our little adventures around the state and work and responsibilities at home, and a new Jack Russel puppy named Ziggy, we've been very busy. So now I am going to have to spend some weekend's at home catching up on a lot of chores here at home. I bought flowers to plant in the back yard, so tomorrow will be yard work and some house cleaning. I did of course visit one of my favorite spots today, Peb's Book Store & Paperback Exchange. I picked up a book for Matthew, Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card. It's part of the Ender's series that he loves. I purchased Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert because I have been hearing what a great book it is. I also ordered the latest Elizabeth Berg novel. She is my favorite author; I have read almost every book she has written. The latest is "Home Safe", and I am looking forward to starting it next week when it arrives.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Flu Bug Has Invaded

Talk about bad timing. I had planned to go to The Great Jacksonville Book Sale today, but those plans had to be cancelled. I have come down with the flu which led to bronchitis and a horrible sinus infection. I hope to be able to get to the sale tomorrow afternoon to see what is left. That's it for today, just not feeling up to posting much right now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


My son Matthew and I love our Chicken Tortellini (or Fettucini) Alfredo. This is a perfect example of just how far Matthew will go to protect his leftovers for the next days lunch. A few weeks ago, we made some Chicken Tortellini Alfredo and there was some leftover, which I took to work with me the next day. Matthew was not happy about it. So, the next time we made some, he hid the leftovers from me and this is what I found in the refrigerator the next morning


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy new year to everyone! We rang in the new year at home. We had a great dinner, watched Mama Mia, what a fun movie, had some wine and watched the fireworks set off by various neighbors. We watched the ball drop in Times Square and I personally went to bed shortly after. I had had a long day and was very tired. Today I am just relaxing, just sitting around the house in my flannel pj's, sipping hot chocolate, reading Marley and Me, checking e-mails, checking in on facebook to see what others are up to. My idea of a perfect day, well almost, perfect would be about 75 degrees outside and me sitting out on the back porch with my book. But this is close enough for now. Our new years dinner will be chicken wings, steamed squash and carrots and probably some rolls or bread sticks. Sorry folks, I'm just not one for the tradtional black eyed peas and ham, the ham is good, but I personally can't stand black eyed peas.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2009!