The Story of Our House: the Kitchen Area/Basement Then & Now

In the first post in this series, I mentioned that there was water standing in the basement when we first looked at the house.  Daddy was pretty certain he knew what the problem was, and said he could fix it.  (My daddy can fix anything!)  He said the problem was that the water from the roof wasn't draining away from the house, and through the years the ground around the house was dipping back toward it.  So, he built window wells around the basement windows, and dug a ditch and laid pipe to route the water away from the house.  The only time we've had a problem with water since then was a couple of years ago when we had an enormous amount of rain in a short amount of time. The opening of the pipe Daddy had laid was clogged, so after CH cleared the space, there was no problem.
(click on the pictures for a better view)

Now to the pictures of the inside!  Let's start with the kitchen.  I mentioned the painting, floors, and cleaning the cabinets.  One of the first things we did was to take the island out.  I didn't think the kitchen was quite big enough to have one in there, and it opened it up a little more.  We've had the cabinets refinished and the hardware updated, and added a ceiling fan.  We also opted for a single oven, and got my daddy to build a shelf to put just over it for the microwave.  We also had to get a new dishwasher, hood, sink, and faucet.  The cooktop is the same one that was in when we bought the house; it was what I would've bought, and it works great.
One more picture of the other corner of the kitchen.  I just don't have a "then" picture:

We added a couple of outlets on the wall that the oven is on, and are planning on adding a tile backsplash.  We're in no hurry to do that, because we hope to do a remodel in a couple of years, pulling the cabinets (that the stove is on) back a little to make that area just a little bigger.  We also plan on putting in different cabinets.  I'd also like to put in a freestanding hood.
There is a 2nd part of the kitchen.  My parents' next-door-neighbors use that area as a den, but they don't have a sliding glass door; they have a single door to the backyard.

We also have a nice little feature in the kitchen:
I want to paint the fireplace insert either black or polished nickel.  The fireplace is a wood-burning one, which I love.  It doesn't get used that often.  Before using it for the first time, we had a chimney sweep come in and clean everything out and make sure it was okay to use.  There were some minor fixes, but nothing serious.
Ever since we moved in, we have been discussing taking the wall next to the fireplace out and having the living room open into the kitchen.  The downside is that I'll lose my pantry, and I'm not sure how it will work or look since I'm fairly certain part of the wall is load-bearing.  We've also discussed just a pass-through.  If we did that, I wouldn't lose all of the pantry, but I'm not so sure about someone being able to look through our living room window all the way to the kitchen.  Something to think about!
Since I talked about the basement at the beginning of this post, I wanted to let you see how it's changed.  I didn't take pictures of the "Man Cave" now since YS has taken over & it's a total wreck!
The brick that you see on the pictures on the right is another fireplace.  It's in a really weird place, but we have used it, especially when we watch football on the bigscreen in the winter.
The biggest transformations are yet to come!

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I'm taking a break from my house series for today to join in the Hodgepodge.  Come back tomorrow for the next installment of the story of my house.

1. "Summer is like childhood. It's full of warm memories and gone too soon."~Kellie Elmore  Agree or disagree? Share something you loved about the summers of your childhood.
I SOOOO agree!  Where do I even begin with my summer memories?  Playing "Kick the Can" and other yard games is high on the list!

2. Are you a fan of auto racing-NASCAR, Indy, Stock, Grand Prix, etc? Ever been to a race in person? Any desire to do this?  Do you know a lot about cars? Do you notice particular makes and models when you're out and about?
No, No, No, No, AND No.

3. What's something you think is too serious to be joked about? Or do you think anything and everything is fair game?

4. July 29th is National Lasagna Day. Are you a fan? Do you have a great recipe, and if so where did it come from? If given a choice would you choose a plate of lasagna or a plate of spaghetti?
I like lasagna, for sure.  I have a recipe for slow-cooker lasagna that I like.  I prefer spaghetti, though.

5. What's a simple pleasure you'd miss if it were not a regular part of your life?
I haven't had a pedicure in an awfully long time, and I really miss it!

6. If you could be the CEO of any company, which would you choose?
A real company?  Stella Artois. OR, a chocolate company.

7. August is just around the farewell to July in exactly seven words.
You brought me much sadness...arrivederci.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I've been taking the opportunity this week to have lunch with my Daddy while I still can.  After this week I won't be able to since school starts on Monday.  We've had some good talks, and some sad talks.  Below is a picture of the rainbow that appeared in the sky after the recitation of the Rosary.  Unfortunately, we didn't see it because it was gone by the time we left the Funeral Home.  A friend of one of my brothers was kind enough to send this to him.

The Story of Our House: It's OURS!

Getting the house was the easy part...making it livable wasn't so easy.  The first thing we did was pull down the dark curtains off of every window, and pull up the carpet.  We had taken a peek under the carpet when we looked through the house, and there was beautiful hardwood in the living/dining rooms, bedrooms, and hallway.  My daddy graciously volunteered to refinish the floors, which saved us a boatload of money!  He did a pretty awesome job:
(The living/dining room after the carpet was pulled up and my daddy finished the floor.)
(click on the pictures for a better view)
We also installed a new floor in the kitchen (to replace the lovely imitation red brick linoleum) and continued that into the front hallway (going over the 60's small tile..which was also in the bathrooms).  We discussed tile, but I was nervous about it not withstanding 3 boys.  Plus, we had a neighbor in SC who is in the floor business, and at one time he told us that to maintain the tile correctly, you have to clean it with certain products or else you'll ruin it.  So, we went with snap-in linoleum that looks like tile.  
We had to have some plumbing stuff updated, and we had to have some electrical things updated.  And, of course, the heating & air wasn't far behind. 
Paint:  I feel like I painted for an eternity!  Especially the master bedroom, kitchen area, and hall bathroom.  Those were the rooms where the previous owner spent most of her time...and she was a smoker.  That wouldn't have been bad, except she was a smoker who hadn't cleaned the walls & ceilings in forever.  We "Kilzed" the ceilings and walls in those rooms multiple times before giving them several coats of paint.  I even took the registers off and painted them.  About a year after we were in the house, I took the doors down, sanded them, kilzed and painted them.  And then I understood why the house still smelled like cigarette smoke:  it was even in the doors.  
I gave the kitchen cabinets a good cleaning, and even cleaned the bricks on the fireplace.  I was determined to get that smell out of here!  Even now, there are times when there's a faint smell of smoke, but those are coming on fewer and fewer.  
Ready for some "Then and Now" pictures?  Here's the living/dining room:
The actual wall color now can be seen in the bottom left picture.
These were the easiest rooms since they were blocked off by shut doors.  I don't think they were used very often.  All we did in these rooms (besides the floor) was paint.  We discussed taking the divider down, but we're not sure if the hardwood floor was continued under it, or what.  I'd like to maybe cut part of it down so it isn't so high and find a decent top for it.
For the sake of the length of this post, I'll continue the "Then & Now" pictures next time!

The Story of Our House: Getting the House

  As you can imagine, I am just not feeling like blogging. I had already written this series on my house prior to my mother's passing, so this week you'll get to read all about our house.

I've said several times that I need to do a post about our house, but I never got around to it.  Since we've been in it for 10 years in August 2014, I thought it was the perfect time.

When I was little, every time I went by my present house, I always thought it looked neat, as in tidy, well taken care of.  The road in front of the house is where, as a child, our family dog got hit by a car and was killed.  All because one of my sisters & I decided to walk home on the busy road and not through the neighborhood like we should have done. I'm pretty sure it was my idea, now that I think about it.
When I moved back to the Small Town, CH & I looked at about 150 houses.  We looked all over our county, and Knox County.  We had a hard time deciding on one.  CH kept saying that I wanted a house just like my parents, which really wasn't true.  After putting a contract on a house in Knoxville and having it fall through, CH decided that we needed to live in the Small Town.  It's hard to find an affordable house in this town; people just don't move, and the only way to get a house is to know somebody.  I had even started looking in the obituaries to see if someone I knew had passed.
We were living with my parents until we found something.  I was driving OS to work one morning.  When I got to the top of my parents' street, I noticed a "for sale" sign just to the right.  I was pretty excited, because it was in a great location:  right next to the park, and within walking distance to the schools and the pool.  I called CH & our realtor right away, and told them we needed to look at it ASAP because it wasn't going to stay on the market.
When we looked at the house, my parents were curious to see it, too, so they tagged along.  As we were going through it, the daughter of the lady who owned the house was there.  Her mom had been sick and passed away that winter.  She recognized my parents and talked to them for a while.  She went to school with one of my sisters.
After we left the house, CH & I had a tough decision to make.  We found another house in a different section of town, but there were some legal issues.  We also needed to decide (quickly) whether we wanted a house that was pretty much move-in ready, or if we wanted a fixer-upper in an almost ideal location.  We saw a lot of potential in the "good location" house, so we decided to go for it.  The next day, the daughter called me & told me that she didn't know if we were planning on making an offer, but there was someone who was going to, and she told me how much he was offering.  I told her that we weren't planning on offering as much as he did because we were a little concerned about the water standing in the basement.  She told me that she would rather someone she knows have the house.  (Her parents built the house in 1962.)  CH & I resigned ourselves to the fact that it just wasn't meant to be, but a couple hours later, she called back and said the man decided not to make the offer so the house was ours if we wanted it.  We had my dad (who is an engineer) & one of my brothers have a good look at the structure to make sure we weren't getting into something we'd regret.  The house's owner was also an engineer, so everything looked promising.  We put in an offer, and it was accepted.
I mentioned that the house was built in 1962.  We are only the 2nd owners:  the original owners both worked in Oak Ridge.  The woman actually worked on the Manhattan Project, a fact that her daughter didn't realize until she found a certificate thanking her for her service tucked away in the basement.  One really cool thing about this house:  we have a bomb shelter.  The man wanted to be ready to protect his family should there be a nuclear attack, and, given our proximity to Oak Ridge, thought if one did occur, the "Secret City" would definitely be a target.  One of my sisters said she was always jealous of the daughter in the house because we would have to go to a nearby public fallout shelter while she only had to go into her basement!  The only thing missing is the door.
This is how it looked when we bought the house:
(click on the pictures for a better view)

Here's the funny thing:  It was built by the brother of the guy who built my parents' house!  They are both basement ranchers.  My parents' next-door-neighbors' house has a very similar layout to ours.  

So, we got the house:  as is, with no warranties.  Now for the "fixer-up" part...
(The house now has a new roof and new windows)

The Hole in my Heart

After having such an incredible day last Tuesday, my world (along with my daddy's, siblings', and our spouses') fell apart on Thursday morning.  I was at school working on my new/old room when one of my SIL called me.  I dropped everything and got to my parents' house as soon as I could.
We knew this day would come, although we didn't expect it to happen as it did. My Mama went to be with her Maker in Heaven last Thursday. God took her the way she would wanted:  quickly, before Daddy, and before her mind was too far gone. Mama was a devout Catholic; there's no doubt in anyone's mind where she is.
I am so thankful that God saw fit to put me into a large family with this mama & daddy.  They truly loved each other:  they were married for 61 years.  She, along with Daddy,  showed all of us children what to look for in a spouse, and how to be a good parent.  They taught us morality and compassion.  They taught us how to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.  Mama taught us to love music...all kinds of music.  At one time, she wanted to be a concert pianist, but then decided she wanted to eat (she wasn't too hyped up on being a starving artist!).  She also thought about being a nun, but met Daddy and had 10 children.  She was a nurse by training, which came in handy with all of us kids.
She was beautiful...inside and out. She was always smiling (it hit me the other day that people say the same thing about me), even when she was in pain.  She never, ever complained about her hip or back pain unless you asked her about it.  And her laugh...How I loved her laugh.  And her singing.  She was the organist at church for 42 years and the choir director for most of that time.  She & Daddy moved to this area shortly after the Catholic Church we attend began. She & Daddy very rarely missed Daily Mass.  Mom would lead the congregation in singing the hymns during those masses.  The priest told me on Sunday that she kept all of them in line when they needed it!  
Mama loved her family & God:  Her family and the Church were her life.  She was such an incredible woman and amazing mother.  As one of my sisters said:  we knew we were loved...always.  
I know there are going to be times when I think of things to tell her, ask her, or just things I see that I want to share with her.  It's going to be hard to not be able to pick up the phone and talk to her.  I'm going to miss her calling me and asking for help figuring out her cell phone or something on the computer when my oldest brother wasn't around or they didn't want to bother him.  
She is in a much better place:  she's not hurting, and she's not worrying.  I imagine she's up there praying for all of us, and getting started on lists that 1 of her friends said she's already hit her up for!  I know she's reunited with her mama & daddy, and all of her siblings, and they're having quite the reunion, just as all of my siblings were getting together at their house.  That's the way she would have wanted it.  
If you've lost a parent, you probably know the feeling of the huge hole in my heart that I have.  I just wasn't ready for her to go, but then again, I probably never would have been.  I'm just very, very grateful that she didn't suffer through a prolonged illness, because she definitely wouldn't have wanted that.


It's not often that I write about things this personal, but I felt the need to let this one out!
"Sticks & Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."  Well, maybe not physically, but mentally, the scars can last a lifetime, and can mold a person into what they are today.  It can affect their friendships, and how they relate to other people.  Believe me, I know.
I know people who have such good friends that they call them "sisters".  In the past I have jokingly said, "I don't have friends, I have sisters", since I have 5 sisters & 4 sisters-in-law (which I count as sisters).  I feel like I have "acquaintances"; some stronger than others, but there are very few I would count as true "friends".  If I have something that I need to talk to someone about, 90% of the time I go to my sisters.  The other 10% of the time, the people I might talk to I could count on 1 hand.
Since I've kept the tv off during the day this summer and have been busy with house-things, I've had time to reflect. Why am I like that?  Why am I a tad bit jealous that I know people who have such strong bonds to other people outside of their family?  The answers all keep pointing to a few statements made to me in different stages of my life.
1)  "Leach."  This one probably stuck with me more than any other.  When I was in jr. high, I formed a friendship with a girl who was a year older.  I would seek her out during lunch (our lunches overlapped) and talk to her for a couple of minutes.  One day, I was walking up to her, and a girl sitting beside her said, "Here comes the leach."  I was so naive at the time, I had no idea what that meant, so I looked at her and asked what that meant, to which she said, "oh, nothing.".  My friend, on the other hand, was so very sweet to ignore her and talk to me for a couple of minutes.  Once I found out what a leach was, it tore my heart out.  And I vowed to never be called that again.  For that reason, I don't like to call people unless absolutely necessary.  And, I rarely invite people to go out to eat or to do anything.
2)  "I wouldn't think anybody as big as you would be afraid of spiders."  This happened in elementary school by a girl who I thought was beautiful, and very popular.  Now, mind you, I have always been tall for my age, and, I guess, a bit "thick"; you know, "big boned".  I took that to mean I was fat, which I wasn't.  (I'm a bit amazed that I didn't end up with an eating disorder.)  Ever since that remark, I have been self-conscious about my size.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that with birthing babies, being that size is a good thing!
3)  When we lived in SC, we belonged to a Supper Club through church.  One day, a lady told me that one of the ladies that had been to my house said that my house was dirty.  Which it wasn't because I had spent all day cleaning.  To this day, I have NO idea what that lady was talking about, but I didn't appreciate her saying things like that to other people.  I never confronted that lady about it; I'm a very non-confrontational person.  It did, however, cause me to be over-sensitive about who I let in my house, and when I let them in.
4)  Another incident in elementary school:  I was delivering papers for my sister, and as I walked up the driveway to hand a paper to a lady, she asked if I was a boy or girl.  She covered herself by saying that she thought I was a girl because I was too pretty to be a boy.  I've always worn my hair short (the longest it's been is to my shoulders) because a) with 6 girls, mom wasn't about to fight with little girls' hair) and b) I look much better with my hair short.  I rarely wear hats, unless it's obvious it's a ladies' hat (I wore a pink one walking this morning).  A lady I knew in SC said I should get a cap with the pony tail already in it, and I told her that then I would look like a guy with a pony tail in a hat!  
Bottom line:  Think twice before you open your mouth to say something...not only to a child, but also to an adult.  Even though you might think it's just a passing statement, it may have an affect on a person's life.

Roman Hodgepodge

1. The month of July was named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. He's quoted as saying, 'Experience is the teacher of all things." So what has experience taught you lately?
Having your house clean makes you motivated in other areas of your life.  It's amazing how much more motivated I am to get my room at school ready.

2. Where did you last 'roam'?
I happened to roam to a lot of stores over the past 2 weeks!  

3. Speaking of 'Rome', pasta, can only pick one, which would you choose?
Gelato.  Nothing else needs to be said.

4. 'Rome wasn't built in a day', 'All roads lead to Rome', 'When in Rome...' which 'Roman' idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.
Rome wasn't built in a day.  I've done a lot of cleaning and throwing stuff out in the past week.  I just concentrated on 1 room a day, and it all got done.

5. What's a movie you've seen or a book you've read, that makes you want to book a trip to Italy?
"Under the Tuscan Sun"  (wonder how many people are going to say the same thing?)  I eventually want to read the book and get the "real" story.

6.  Walt's original Disneyland opened almost sixty years ago, on July 17, 1955  Have you ever been to the California park? How about any of the other Disney parks around the world? What's your favorite amusement park ride or attraction?
I've only been to Disneyworld.  Buzz Lightyear was pretty fun, but how can you not love Pirates of the Caribbean or It's a Small World?

7. It's that time of year...when were you last bitten or stung?
My ankles and lower legs are still trying to recover from our last camping trip!  The biting flies and something else had a feast on my legs!

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 
Yesterday was a very, very good day!  Besides it being payday and being able to get some stuff for my Speech Room at school, 3 things happened:
1)  I got my lab results back:  my cholesterol & A1C were lower than last time, so Go, Me!  :)  I may not have lost much weight this summer (about 10 pounds), but the walking and eating right appears to be paying off!
2)  A coworker & I received word that our Poster Session Proposal for the National Convention was approved!  In 30 years of being a Speech Pathologist, I have never been to the National Convention.  We weren't expecting it to be approved; we had resigned ourselves to tweaking the proposal and getting it ready for the Schools Convention for next year.
3)  OS is moving back south in September!  He is going to be working for the company where he previously worked.  This is a wonderful place to work.  He'll even be able to take his dog to work with him!  He'll be a couple of hours away from us, but that's much better than being 2 time zones away!


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we went to Lynchburg, Tn. to tour the Jack Daniels Distillery last Thursday.  If you ever get the chance to go, do it.  Even if you're not a whiskey drinker, the back stories and the process is very interesting.  Not to mention that the tour is free.  You can take the "Sample Tour" for $10, which is what I think we need to do next time we go.
One piece of interesting information:  the county where the distillery is located is a dry can't buy any alcohol there, and haven't been able to since prohibition.
Before we took the tour, we had lunch at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.  This is a definite must when going to Lynchburg.  This is a very charming place to eat, and just happens to be part of the Jack Daniels chain; so, a couple of the things you eat have JD in them.  Like the spiced apples which are out of this world!  
After you put your name in & pay, you wait for the dinner bell.  Each dining room is called out, and you make your way to your room.  There were 6 of us, so we had 4 other people at our table.  Since we were there for the first seating of the day, our hostess sat down and ate with us.  Most of the hostesses are retired teachers, but ours retired from the Deeds' Office at the Court House.  The food is served "family style":  our room had a lazy susan in the middle of it, so you helped yourself to what you wanted.  The menu changes; we had fried chicken, meatloaf, fried okra, cucumber salad, potatoes, squash casserole, corn muffins, and spiced apples.  For dessert, we had this amazing custard pie with whipped cream.  The whipped cream was supposed to have JD in it, but somebody forgot to put it in there!  The young people working there are doing so on a 2 year internship in return for tuition to a community college, as well as wages.  Want to go?  Make sure you call &  make reservations or else you won't get in!
Our hostess regaled us with stories of the boarders.  She also threw in that Little Richard lives in the area, although he hasn't been a visitor at the boarding house.  She said that he has been spotted at McDonalds in a neighboring town; when he has visitors in, he takes them to Applebee's.  She said that he came into the Deeds Office with all of his bling, sat down, and was the nicest person you could meet.

We took some time to wander around the cute little town square. 
There's a general store that has anything you could possibly want with the JD logo.  Like a doghouse made out of a barrel:
And, it can be yours for roughly $250.
We popped into a little store that had things made in Tennessee.  They also had homemade candy...with a few things made with JD.  My favorite was the chocolate made with Tennessee Fire Whiskey (kind of like Fireball).  The owner takes orders, too!  Click here for the information.
Some of the benches around the town square have metal plates with interesting facts about some of the people associated with JD (the man or the whiskey).  

The co-owner of the store we went in to (that had the amazing candy) told us about their Christmas celebration:  they make a tree out of JD barrels and put lights on it.  That has gone onto my list, for sure!  Especially since there's a campground not too far away from there.

Better Late Than Never!

Weekend Wrap-up:  Just in time for another weekend!
CH's uncle & his "lady friend" from Copenhagen (B & H) took a little trip to the U.S.A.  They flew into Dulles, and then were supposed to fly to Atlanta, but they missed their plane along with a lot of other unhappy people.  Their cell phone wasn't getting good reception, so it was next to impossible for them to talk to my FIL.  My FIL, BIL, and SIL all got on their phones to try to get them a connecting flight to Knoxville, Huntsville (Al.), or Nashville.  They finally were able to get them on to Nashville, but had no way of telling them.  In comes my SIL's sweet friend, who lives in the DC area.  She has an infant, but went to the airport anyway to try to see if she could find them.  My BIL sent her a picture of them so she would know who she was looking for.  She finally found a guy who worked in baggage (who had just finished his shift) to help her, since she couldn't get through security without a plane ticket.  2 hours later, they finally met up, and everything was set.  But not before B & H spent the night in the airport.  With a lot of other people who missed their flights.  My FIL & SIL drove from Huntsville to Nashville to get them, and they were in H'ville by the time CH & I got there Wed. afternoon. B & H ended up going to bed by late afternoon; woke up at 3 a.m., grabbed something from the kitchen, and then went back to sleep.
Thursday was Jack Daniels Distillery Day.  That included lunch at a local restaurant and a little shopping around the town square.  I originally had included our visit there in this post, but it made the post rather long, so I decided to dedicate a post just to that.  Come back tomorrow for my thoughts!
On the 4th, some of the group went to the Space & Rocket Center.  My SIL, MIL, and I stayed back at the house.  I've been to the ones in Cape Canaveral and Houston, so I just wasn't feeling it.  My SIL & I went to the grocery store, and I tagged along with her while she picked up some most amazing ribs.  Seriously, if you're in the Huntsville area, you need to find this food truck and get some barbecue!  O Taste & See BBQ.
My SIL got me hooked on "Rehab Addict" that day.  What that woman does with seemingly "throw away" houses is just incredible!  And, it got CH & I thinking about what we need to/can do with our house.  My SIL has such good taste when it comes to decorating her house:  she has a lot of little touches all over.

I thought I had taken a picture of her tables on either side of the fireplace in the den...beautiful.  She added this picture to one of them, giving that corner of the room just a little pop of color:
That night, my BIL, FIL, B, & H went to see the fireworks.  Laika was having an extremely rough time with the noise, so CH & I stayed home with her, along with my SIL & MIL.  Laika found comfort in my SIL's lap for a while, before I gave her access to the upstairs bathroom with the fan going.
The rest of the weekend, Laika and their dog, Lady, didn't have anything to do with each other.  They would pass each other and not even look at the other one.  I'm pretty sure Laika remembers their first meeting when Lady put her in her place right away.
All in all, a really good weekend!  My in-laws, B, & H left Saturday morning to head south to the heat. (I couldn't believe how nice the weather was last weekend!)  CH & I took our time before heading home.  We stopped by a campground that was on the way home.  I'm glad we did; I had heard it was pretty nice, and it would be if there were 1/2 the sites in there.  Too crowded for our taste.
We rested on Sunday, and I went to the grocery store.  On Monday, it was back to my summer schedule & CH was back at work.  Only 2 more weeks, and it'll be back to work for me, too.  

Summertime Hodgepodge

1. July is National Anti-Boredom Month. When was the last time you were bored? What's your go-to cure for boredom?
Boredom?  What's that???  I can't remember the last time I was bored!

2. What's the last thing you made a reservation for?

3. What's one thing on your summer 'bucket list'? Any plans to make it happen?
Keep the tv off during the day.  I'm doing pretty well with this one.  I keep it off until dinner time so we can watch the news.

4. What's your favorite summertime sip?
I drink an awful lot of water.

5. What do you find is the best way to handle another person's hostility and hopefully ease the tension?
Kill 'em with kindness.

6. Your favorite film set in summer?
Meatballs.  HILARIOUS.

7. What word are you using too much lately?
Excellent.  Whether it's writing a review on Tripadvisor or a comment on a blog post, I find myself using that word WAY too much!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I didn't do very well with blogging this week; I haven't even reviewed last weekend!  I had been blogging in the morning after my walk, but I found a new love:  power washing!  There's something so very satisfying seeing the yuck coming off.  I spent Monday morning on the back porch & sidewalk, and yesterday on the front.  Absolutely loved it, even with getting extremely grimy.

June Book Reads

I went through quite a few books last month:

 Upstairs at the White House:  My Life with the First Ladies (J.B. West)
J.B. West was a former usher at the White House and worked there from the FDR administration to the beginning of the LBJ administration before he retired.  It was interesting to read about all of the First Ladies, and some of the back-stories of the White House and First Families.

 The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
Oh. My.  What a tear-jerker.  I haven't seen the movie yet; I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD so I can cry in the comfort of my own home.  The book was so awesome that I'm almost afraid to watch the movie.

  Dorothea Benton Frank Books:
       Shem Creek
       Full of Grace
       Bulls Island
      Porch Lights
      The Last Original Wife
      The Land of Mango Sunsets
My favorite book from Dorothea Benton Frank was "The Land of Mango Sunsets".  Honestly, I was starting to get tired of the predictable books that she wrote.  This book was different than her other ones, and it was a welcome change!  I was determined to read all of her books that I hadn't read...I have 2 more + her new one to go.

  The Good Luck of Right Now  (Matthew Quick)
I read "The Good Luck of Right Now" because that was the June book for the book club on "A Beautiful Mess".  It was a lot different than the other books I read. It was actually kind of dark...think "Little Miss Sunshine" dark.  The whole book is letters that the main character writes to Richard Gere...weird.  The characters are a bit unbelievable, but I ended up really caring about them by the end.  I don't know if I could recommend it, unless you're just looking for something different.

   The Beach House (Georgia Bockoven)
This book was on the recommendation of Karen at Karen's Korner.  She had written a review of "Return to the Beach House" and it sounded like something that I would enjoy reading.  It didn't disappoint.  The only thing I didn't like was the ending. It just didn't seem like it was an ending, and the sequel isn't a continuation.

   October Baby  (Eric Wilson)
This book  was written on the basis of a movie instead of vice-versa.  This is about a young lady who finds out that she is the result of a botched abortion.  It was a really quick read because it was very good.  I'd highly recommend this book.

  A Deadly Business (Lis Wiehl)
I'd definitely recommend this book as well.  You can read my review here.

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think?

Total 180 Hodgepodge

Wow!  This is the 180th Hodgepodge!  That means Joyce has come up with 1,260 questions since she started this.  That's a lot of questions rolling around in her head!
Let's get to this week's questions:

1.  Speaking of 180...when was the last time you 'did a 180' on something?
Gee, I have no idea.  I'm pretty easily swayed with long as it's not immoral.

2. It's Independence Week in the US of A! What's your favorite thing about America right this very minute? Favorites only! Let's hear what you love about America.
The diversity.  Not just in the people of America, but in the landscape.  There's so much to see in this big beautiful country of ours!

If you're playing along today, and you're not an American but have been to America, what do/did you like best about this country? If you've never been to America, do you have any desire to visit? What's the number one thing you'd like to see?
I'm interested in seeing the response to this question from our friends who don't live here!

3. Stars or stripes? Red, white, or blue? Watermelon, homemade vanilla ice cream, or blueberry pie?
Stars.  Blue.  Homemade vanilla ice cream.

4. When did you last see stars, figuratively speaking?
To get out of our camper, I have to bend down just a bit.  Sometimes I forget.

5.  'Clear as a bell', 'with bells on',  'lots of bells and whistles', 'saved by the bell'...which phrase 'rings' truest for you lately?  Have you ever seen The Liberty Bell?
With bells on.  Getting up at 5:00 every morning and walking at 6:00 gets me up and going.
I've never seen the Liberty Bell...hopefully someday!

6. Are you caught up in World Cup fever? Have you watched a lot or a little or none at all?
I've watched very little.  MS is really into it, YS is into it just a little less that MS.  It's because of YS still being at home that I'm into it even just a little.

7. Bid farewell to June in 10 words or less.
Don't go!!!  (Because the end of July means back to work for me.)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
We wrote another blog post on our camping blog to review the campground we visited last weekend.  Click here if you're interested!

Book Review: A Deadly Business

Product Details
First, the housekeeping: 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Now for the "meat"!

Mia, a widow with 2 children, is a prosecutor for violent crimes.  Scott, her husband, was a CPA who was killed in an apparent accident.  After Mia's house alarm goes off (ending a hellish day), Charlie (a homicide detective) starts putting 2 and 2 together regarding the circumstance of Scott's death.  Was it an accident, or was it murder?

This book got my attention right off the bat.  While some of the occurrences in the book were somewhat predictable (I may have rolled my eyes when Mia found a picture of Scott with another woman), I had to know how it all tied together.  
The ending of this book was different than the books I've read this summer.   I had to slap my forehead for not figuring out a connection in the book, but that made it more interesting.  This book had so much going on in it, occurrences that happened one right after another, that it was very hard to put it down. 
 Often, if I come across typos or grammatically incorrect statements, it ruins the book for me.  I saw none of that in this book, which made reading it that much more enjoyable.
If you like a book that keeps you interested in it from cover-to-cover, as well as one that has a few surprises, then you would enjoy this book as much as I.

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