Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kathryn goes to Dusti Boot Camp

When the decision was made to move to Nebraska with my folks last year, I was planning to stay a few weeks then head to Wisconsin to become my nieces workout buddy.  We both need a kick in the rear to motivate us to get exercise, well mostly I do, my niece Dusti is way healthier than I am.  

I've been a big girl pretty much my whole life.  For a long time, I was able to carry it well, so it didn't limit what I could do, but that changed when I passed 40 & if I'm going to make it to 50, I had better restart my metabolism in a big way.  Add in the fact that I ran out of unemployment last month & it's a now or never situation.  I basically have enough  money to get to Wisconsin, then I have to find a new source of income before my bills for February come due.  Dusti has some ideas & I've got several boxes of books, I can put up for sale on eBay, so I'm biting the bullet & leaving tomorrow.  This will be hard for my mom, since I'm leaving her alone with dad, but I'm also thinking she might get more motivated about finding a support group or checking into what services his illness qualifies him for, if she doesn't have me to lean on for a little while.  Could be good for everyone.

I'm undecided at the moment how much detail I want to share about my current stats.  I've got an 11 hour drive to think about it, so I will get back to you on that.  In the meantime, wish me luck on my latest adventure.

Review - Lizzy Ford's Witchling Series, Books 1, 1.5 & 2

**Caution - this post contains descriptions and reviews of multiple books in a series, which means spoilers may appear in the description &/or review of subsequent volumes.  
Dark Summer (Book 1)
Author: Lizzy Ford
Publisher: Guerrilla Wordfare
Publication Date: 8/16/2012
Formats: Paperback & ebook
Length: 250 pages
Genre: YA Fiction, Paranormal

A girl with a broken past and a dark secret. A boy with a twisted future and no second chances.  When they meet, it just might cost them their souls.

Sixteen-year-old Summer doesn’t expect the new boarding school to be any different than the rest: a temporary stay where everyone will turn against her after a few weeks. Until she meets the rest of the students at this special school and realizes she’s not the only one with magic in her blood.  Accustomed to the concrete jungle of LA, she gets lost one night in the forests of the Rocky Mountains and meets Decker, the boy who will become the Master of Night and Fire on his eighteenth birthday. Their connection is instant and dangerous, for both will be forced to choose between Light and Dark, life and death, love – and their souls.
One choice. One soul. One price. 

My Thoughts:

The secrets in Dark Summer are intriguing, well crafted & revealed at just the right pace to keep you reading.  I enjoyed every minute I spent in the world that Lizzy Ford has created here & would have been disappointed when I reached the final page, if I hadn’t known that there was more to the series. 

Summer is a great character.  Her insecurities due to being an orphan & having a ‘gift’ that causes her more trouble than it appears to be worth, are totally understandable.  I connected with her quickly & found myself more than once, wishing I could impart a little of my life experience to her, when she was faced with two options & appeared to be leaning towards the wrong one.

One thing I found help make the story more believable is the fact that the author did not fall back on the cliché that everyone whose magic is light, must be good & everyone whose magic is dark, must be bad.  Just like in real life, there are shades of grey in the world that Ms. Ford creates in this series.  Dark Summer should be required reading for teen girls.

Rating: CCCCC

Pick up your own copy from one of the following online retailers.

Buy from Barnes & Noble

 Dark Summer (Book I, Witchling Trilogy) - Lizzy 

Summer Night (Novelette – Book 1.5)
Author: Lizzy Ford
Publisher: Lizzy Ford
Publication Date: 11/9/2012
Formats: ebook
Length: 25 pages
Genre: YA Fiction, Paranormal

One choice. One soul. One price.

Summer’s choice threatens to destroy not only her own life, but Decker’s, too, on the night she falls into the Dark. With both Summer and Decker trapped by their choices, it’s up to Decker’s twin to find a way to make things right.
Beck, the new Master of Light, is forced to step up in his role as the protector of Light. He discovers that sometimes, the protector must come between the Dark and its own Master in order to save them both from being consumed. To save his brother, he must risk everything – even his soul – on the slim chance Summer can redeem herself, if given a second chance. If he’s right, he’ll save Decker from a lifetime of agony.
If he’s wrong, he’ll lose much more than Decker and Summer, for there will be no one standing between Darkness and the rest of the world. 

My Thoughts:
This novelette packs a mighty wallop in just a few pages.  It perfectly fills the gap between Dark Summer and Autumn Storm, providing a few answers, but introducing a whole bunch of new questions.  If you ended Dark Summer wanting to know more, this tidbit ramps up the appetite leaving you ravenous for Autumn Storm.   Don’t skip it, thinking you’ll catch up in the next book, there is some really good stuff here.

Rating: CCCCC

Pick up your own copy from one of the following online retailers.

Buy from Barnes & Noble

Autumn Storm (Book 2)
Author: Lizzy Ford
Publisher: Lizzy Ford
Publication Date: 11/22/2012
Formats: ebook
Length: 192 pages
Genre: YA Fiction, Paranormal

A girl with no memory, hidden in plain sight. A boy with no hope, freefalling into Darkness.
Autumn doesn’t know why she remembers a boarding school she’s never visited, or why her reflection isn’t always … hers. There’s another girl in the mirror, a dark-haired ghost that emerges one night to guide her to a cliff near the school. Only Autumn can’t remember what happened there and why it’s so important. Beck’s gentle touch soothes her distress while Decker’s every look sets her body on fire. Caught between the twins, she struggles to understand her instincts and magick while working through the pain caused by a mysterious car accident that left her disabled, barely able to walk.
Unable to recover from Summer’s death, Decker slowly surrenders to the Dark. He can’t live with the pain, and those around him keep Autumn’s secret too well. The guilt he feels when he falls for her – and betrays Summer’s memory – drives him farther from the Light, until he loses control and begins taking the souls of Light witchlings. As the protector of Light, Beck must choose between confronting his twin and watching more witchlings suffer. Decker realizes Beck has come between more than him and the witchlings. With neither of them willing to let Autumn go, they turn on each other.
Only one of them knows the truth. Only one of them will walk away, unless Autumn can find a way to save them both.

My Thoughts:

What if you are granted a second chance, but have to start over with no memory of who you are, except a weird déjà vu feeling when you see certain people or places?  Summer fell off the cliff at Miner's Point in Book 1 of the Witchling trilogy & should have died, at least that's what everyone thinks happened.  Instead she is reincarnated as Autumn & sent back to the place Summer died, a boarding school for children with magic in their blood.  There she will be tested to see if she can restore the balance between light and dark magic.  Everything is at stake, yet the person whose destiny is to save the day, has no idea who she is or what happened the last time.  

Lizzy Ford hits it out of the park again, giving the reader a completely new take on familiar characters.  I could not put this book down & am anxiously awaiting #3 in the series.   

Rating: CCCCC

Pick up your own copy from one of the following online retailers.

Buy from Barnes & Noble
 Buy from Smashwords

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Orzo to Die For

I probably watch way too much food TV.  If I’m not watching Rachael Ray demonstrate how to make a week of meals in a day or Bobby Flay throwing down against someone, I’m probably watching Guy Fieri tour America’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives or a group of 4 chefs trying not to get Chopped.  The other day I caught an episode of one of Rachael Ray’s shows where she made this tasty looking Orzo dish.  While I thought it looked really tasty as she served it, I can’t resist tinkering & added my own little touch.   The result was a huge hit with my family.  I forgot to take a picture of the dish I made, so the picture included here is from Rachael’s website. 
 Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes
Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes

To get the original recipe, visit

Here is my variation, which is increased to feed a larger group of 8, instead of the original 4 servings.


1 lb        Orzo
1 bag     Fresh Baby Spinach
4 Tbsp   Butter
2 Cups   Crumbled Feta Cheese
              Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 pint     Grape Tomatoes, Halved

Bring a large sauce pot of salted water to a boil & cook Orzo according to package directions.  About 1 minute before pasta will be done, stir in spinach to wilt.  Drain pasta & spinach

In same pot, melt butter.  Add feta, and cook over low heat until cheese begins to melt.  Toss cooked orzo with feta butter & parsley until orzo is well coated.  Stir in tomatoes & serve warm.

I wasn’t sure if this would be as good the second day, reheated in the microwave, but it is.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Start as you mean to go on

I've been tossing around the idea of a blog for a while now.  Picked a name & started the setup, then chickened out without posting.  As one of my New Year’s resolutions, I'm biting the bullet.  Will I be a super blogger right of the bat?  Probably not, but if I don't jump in whether I'm ready or not, I never will, so here goes.

I'm so glad that 2012 is behind me.  Lots of challenges over the last year.  First, my mom & I had to come to grips with the fact that my father has Alzheimer's.  It's a horrible, cruel disease & we've already watched it take his mother, so we really didn't want to believe he had it too, but his memory issues finally got bad enough that we couldn't ignore it anymore.  This required us to face the fact that we couldn't count on him to help us run the family business anymore.  

The family business, Berrien Buggy, was started when I was 3 years old, and over the next 44 years, grew from selling parts out of a one car garage to a sprawling manufacturing complex in SW Michigan.  It has been a major part of my life & identity for as long as I can remember.  Could we sell it as a business or would we have to close & liquidate?  Neither option would be easy & we didn't have any idea how to start, so we began praying.  God rewarded our faith & led us to the one customer we hoped might be interested in at least part of the company, then they surprised us by agreeing to take it all.  We first talked to Acme Trailer Works about the possibility of them buying us out in April & by the end of June, it was a done deal.  Acme took most of the equipment & inventory from our headquarters in Michigan to theirs in Pennsylvania.  This transition was far from easy, but it is a relief to not have to worry about the business anymore.    If you or anyone your know has an old air cooled Volkswagen or a recreational vehicle that uses the drive train & suspension from one, please visit when you need parts & tell them that Kathy says hi.

Since Acme relocated the business, we were left with a very large commercial building & a house on 5 acres.  The progression of dad’s illness made it impossible for us to stay in the house he & mom had lived in for more than 40 years.  On more than one occasion, he became disoriented & lost on the property.  Also, we knew it would be hard to rent the building to another business & keep him out of it, if we continued to live next door to it.  After discussion with other family members, the decision was made that we would move to NW Nebraska to be near my oldest brother & his kids.  The sale of the business, enabled mom to buy a new house in Nebraska without having to borrow any money or dump the property in Michigan.  At present, she is able to consider short or long term rental, while wait for the right buyer to take it off her hands.  Another prayer answered.

 Previously health concerns of my own had necessitated my moving back home, which left my own home empty & deteriorating for almost 2 years.  With everything happening with the business & dad, going back to my own home was no longer feasible, so I made the decision to sell it.  My uncle saw potential in it, even though it was in pretty bad shape & took it off my hands for a little more than I still owed on.   In today’s economy, being able to walk away from a home with any cash in your pocket is a blessing. 

From June to October, we went through over 40 years of junk from two households, deciding what to keep, sell, give or throw away in preparation for the big move.  Not having the luxury of time, more stuff got thrown away than probably should have & a lot of perfectly good office furniture got sold for scrap.  But finally the building was cleared out & we had a 4-car garage full of boxes waiting to be loaded on a U-Haul truck for the drive to Nebraska.  Those last few days before we drove away from Michigan were full of hard work & lots of tears.  I cannot thank enough the family & friends who devoted hours of their time sweating alongside us as we packed & hauled, filling the U-Haul truck, a pick-up & car hauler, plus my car to capacity.  1000 miles later, we unloaded everything at our new home in Chadron, NE.

What about 2012 are you glad is behind you?