Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Believers by Travis Gulbrandson - Review

I saw this book offered in the members giveaway section of LibraryThing and I was immeadiately drawn to the cover - a black and white image of a man that has been partially obscured from view by white scratches on the photograph. The image was haunting and piqued my interest to such an extent that I requested a chance to read a copy before I even knew what the plot was. The photo is slightly frightening. You are looking through a haze and you don't quite know what the scratches may be hiding. Is there a sinister smirk at the corner of the young man in the picture's lip? I really loved it the image and would definitely pluck it off the shelf in a bookstore. It also is in keeping with the feeling of uneasiness I had throughout the read. 

Here is the plot synopsis from Goodreads:
"Edith Parker has been a widow for ten years, but she tries to keep her husband’s memory alive by carrying a picture of him from room to room. Then, on the anniversary of his death, she is visited by a young man who claims to have a message from him. On the promise of further communications with the deceased, Mrs. Parker invites the mysterious stranger to live with her. While this visitation first seems like the answer to her prayers, she soon finds her actions may have started a chain of events that yield tragic consequences for everyone she cares about.

Dark, at times suspenseful, infused with black humor, The Believers examines a number of issues relating to the nature of faith, but it never tells the reader what to think."

Sounds interesting, no?

Honestly, I was not quite sure what to make of this book.  At times it felt as though two completely different authors were switching off while telling the story, because the "voice" changed fast and furiously.  I had to go back and re-read portions several times before I understood what was happening. There were huge jumps in sequential time, and the time period the novel takes place in wasn't firmly established. It is late spring/ early summer in a small town that could be anywhere and I'm guessing from some decriptions of clothing it takes place in the late fifties or early 1960's. I'm not entirely sure I ever figured out all the twists and turns in this novel, but I think that may be just what the author intended. This book is at times disquieting, and certainly not what I expected. 

The very first passage set a jangly-nerved tone that stuck with me throughout the book. Fire and open flame make me uncomfortable and nervous, and in the prologue we are presented with a dying woman who has fallen to the floor of a burning barn. I read this passage first (of course) and twice again after events in the book I thought may relate to it. The first chapter is really just a young man asking for directions. It was difficult to get through and I was afraid the book was going to stall out because the very early chapters seemed to focus on mundane conversations but I revisited them several times looking for clues that I missed to explain events later in the book. 

Here is a video trailer from author Travis Gulbrandson that has him reading a brief passage from the prologue:

Almost every passage in this novel seems to relate to another. Characters repeat actions of other characters and the repetition cause you to question if you had already read an account of an event. Although it is difficult to explain this concept without giving away any plot points, it was an effective and interesting device. In one instance a man is described methodically folding the wax paper wrapping from a sandwich and then several chapters later another man folds a wrapper into squares and then slips it into a picnic basket. Several characters smoke and the descriptions of their savoring the smoke and exhaling are similar and unite many characters. 

(A note of caution: if you were ever a smoker or were trying to quit, opening the pages of this book or viewing it on your e-reader is akin to watching consecutive episodes of Mad Men - you'll be itching to light up so bad that you may want to wait to read this until you are well free of the temptation. I haven't smoked in years and years but I bummed one from my husband because this book all but reeks of tobacco!)

There are some very interesting language choices used by the author, mostly the linking of words into one long word that I found striking. "Firecherry" to describe the lit end of a cigarette, "graystriped" to describe a cat and "burntblack" to describe the soot on a candle holder are a few I remember. One thing I didn't care for was that every character seemed to have a problem with drooling or a runny nose. There were so many times a character was referred to as having a slime covered upper lip or was gurgling back saliva that I was grossed out. It was very descriptive, but something I found really off-putting. 

To briefly describe the plot, a young man comes to a small town in search of a woman he has never met. He tells her he has a message from her deceased husband and that sets off a chain of events that many people in this small town seem to be curious about. Posing as her nephew, the young man stays on and becomes more involved in the lives of her neighbors, a waitress at a local diner and the woman herself. A series of flashbacks tell you more about the woman, the young man, and several other members of this community, while nothing is quite what it seems. It poses the question "should we believe everything we're told?" and also "when we hear a story presented as the truth, what do we do with the telling?"

 I think The Believers is a very interesting novel and I would likely read another venture from the author.   There are some very dark, explicit descriptions of sex, abusive behavior, and violence which aren't for the faint of heart. I felt at times I should've kept notes as I read to help me remember and puzzle through the mysteries and sequence of events in the book.  I liked it, but I am still curious as to who some characters were in relation to the young man and if they were supposed to be related to each other it was lost on me.  The web of mystery unraveled a bit and I still wonder if the Mathilda who was mentioned in the first few pages was half of the swimming couple and who Sarah's father was.  For these reasons I give it three out of five stars.

I received this e-book copy of Mr. Gulbrandson's The Believers from a LibraryThing members' giveaway. Thank you for giving me the chance to read and review your work. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino - Book Review

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino had a premise that I was extremely excited about.  I love to sing and have been obsessed with music and musicians as long as I can remember.  As I dove into this novel about a little girl who was an aspiring jazz singer, I was remembering myself as a weird little kid, singing along with Doris Day and The Les Brown Orchestra records until my family was ready to throttle me.

 Although there were many passages that I enjoyed, and the author's vivid descriptions spoke to me, the novel had me more than a little confused with its odd, disjointed stories and insertion of moments that I wasn't sure were dreams, magic or drug-addled reality.  I just didn't get it, and was left very unsatisfied.

Here is what the publisher has to say about the story on the inside cover of the dust jacket:
An enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters 
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, rebellious nine-year-old who also happens to be an aspiring jazz singer. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken father, she doesn’t realize that on the eve of Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.
As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.

That is a lot of promise for a book.  Did I laugh out loud?  I did.  Once.  When Madeline's character went on a profanity laced description of how she was going to sell "Here I Am Lord" at her school's mass on the 23rd of December.  I went to Catholic school and I remember that song and the high pressure that soloing would come with.  But here is where I started to wonder what the heck was going on.  

The viewpoint of the passing time shifts suddenly, awkwardly and often.  Madeline takes on most of the early hours while Lorca, the club owner of the Cat's Pajamas and Sarina, Madeline's teacher and unexpected friend take over the later hours while Madeline naps.  I understood the convention, but at the same time couldn't wrap my head around the events because this fictional world doesn't seem based in reality. 

 In my world, children aren't in school on the 23rd of December and they sure as heck aren't singing non-Christmas songs at mass during the Advent season.  They also don't wander the streets unattended, and if shop keepers come upon them in the middle of the night they would be calling for the police rather than handing out meatball sandwiches.  It may seem funny or odd, but these plot points really bothered me.  I couldn't stop wondering where this was likely to occur and how there was hardly a nod to the Christmas season in the book save a strand of twinkle lights that were yet to be hung in the club.

Many of the characters had such odd responses to their problems that I wondered who these people were, and I didn't find out in the pages of the book.  I wanted to know them more, and would've been happy to delve further into the world of Lorca's ex Louisa, or Madeline's caretaker and friend Mrs. Santiago, but when these characters appear they are cannoned in and out of the story in bright bursts which only give you a glimpse at them and I needed more to make sense of it all.

In all I would give this book two out of five stars.  It was okay and there were parts that I really found lovely.  Sarina and Ben's banter and reminiscing and Madeline's internal monologue were treats.  But in the end I was left feeling like I had been told a lengthy joke and I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn't get the punchline because I had zoned out along the way.  I was laughing politely when I wanted to be one of the cool kids slapping their knees.  It's possible I'm just not cool enough to get this book.  I am a nerd who hugs books she loves to her chest when I finish them to thank them for speaking to me.  This book didn't get a hug.

If you would like to find out more about Marie-Helene Bertino you can visit her Twitter profile or her Facebook page.  She has another offering entitled Safe As Houses which is a collection of short stories.  I may read this at some point because I feel the author would be great in the short story format and that her expressive language and character vignettes would be more pleasurable to read if I weren't searching for the payoff this novel seemed to promise.  

Blogging for Books provided me with my copy of 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas for review.  It will be available for puchase on August 5th, 2014.

A short note about the cover - I loved it.  It was pearlized and was the pale turquoise of kitchen appliance in the 1950's.  The font is incredibly fun and nostalgic and what I would expect to be on a marquee of a jazz club that may be fading into a bit of obscurity.  Admittedly, I often choose books based on the promise of a beautiful cover, but this one was more about the blurb since the cover was all text.  Still - it's pretty and it would catch my eye if it was front faced on a store shelf.  

 And I finally got some new reading glasses!

If you decide to check this book out, I hope you love it - if you have read it and have a different opinion let's chat!  Leave a comment and tel me why you loved it or what you thought of the book.  I welcome your inputand opinions and would love to hear your thoughts.  Much Love and good reading to all of you!                    

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Catch A Novel by Taylor Stevens Review and Rave

The Catch by Taylor Stevens - a five star read and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves books that are packed with action and suspense.  This package was provided to me by Blogging for Books to review.

      I was incredibly blessed to have been chosen to review the newest novel from author Taylor Stevens by the good folks at Blogging for Books.  In addition to The Catch, I also received copies of The Informationist (which was recently optioned for film rights), The Innocent, The Doll and The Vessel (which is exclusively an e-title).  All of these books comprise the Vanessa Michael Munroe series, and after reading The Catch I can't wait to start these books from the beginning and take part in Michael's incredible journey to this point, finding out more of the history between her and Bradford.

The Catch - the most recent installment in Ms. Taylor's Vanessa Michael Munroe series is an exciting book which I read in my travels to my niece's wedding this past weekend.  It is the kind of novel that grabs hold of you and keeps you thinking.  I found myself wondering the fate of several characters and puzzling through the connections of the players in the story's game of politics, piracy, and espionage in the middle of family gatherings and the general buzz and happiness of my surroundings.  Although I had to put it down (there was visiting and cake eating to do!) I was reluctant to leave the suspense filled African heat of the pages for long.

Here is a brief plot synopsis from the publisher Crown:

Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and information hunter, has a reputation for getting things done—often dangerous and not quite legal things. The difficult and deadly work has left her with blood on her hands and a soul stained with guilt. Having borne the burden of one death too many, Munroe has fled to Djibouti, Africa. There, where her only responsibility is greasing the wheels of commerce for a small maritime security company, she finds stillness—until her boss pressures her to join his team as an armed transit guard on a ship bound for Kenya. Days into the voyage, Munroe discovers that the security contract is merely cover for a gunrunning operation. The ship is invaded off the Somali coast, and in a moment of impulse while fighting her way out, she drags the unconscious captain with her. But nothing about the hijacking is what it seems. The pirates were never after the ship; they’d come for the captain. In chasing him, they make their one mistake: targeting Munroe raises the killer’s instinct she’s tried so hard to bury. Wounded and on the run, Vanessa Michael Munroe will use the life of her catch as bait and bartering chip to manipulate every player with a stake in the ship’s outcome, and find a way to wash her conscience clean.
An adrenaline-fueled ride of foreign intrigue that is filled with double-crosses and boots-on-the-ground scheming, THE CATCH is sure to be one of this summer’s biggest thrillers.
I was not familiar with the character of Vanessa Michael Munroe before diving into The Catch although the author did a fine job of outlining Munroe's background just enough to help the reader understand that the character is haunted by her past.  She is a brilliant "fixer" and spy for hire who has done a mixture of legal and treacherous acts for her past employers and who is hiding from the things she wants most out of fear that everything she loves becomes tainted and broken.  Munroe poses as a man and allows assumptions about her age and gender and her amazing skills with language ease her blend into the African landscape while she tries to quell the demons of her past and search for peace.  When she is forced into a job by her employer that turns out to be much more than she was informed of, her attempts at distancing herself from her old life backfire.  Somali pirates further invade her plans and when she pulls the unconscious captain of the ship with her into her escape, she winds up involving herself deeply in the lives of the crew, the family of her employer, the political landscape and this man who is now her prisoner.  To restore the order to her life she was desperately seeking, Munroe must use her abilities to search for answers about the guns, the ship and the unconscious captain who is also a precious commodity her life may depend on.  She has a personal brand of honor that drags her further and further into the quagmire this decision has caused and in effort to pull herself out she is almost consumed by the rage that haunts her past.

I enjoyed many aspects of this novel - the author's descriptions of the African landscape and grasp of the people, cities and cultures of which she writes is fascinating.  Although I entered with limited knowledge of the politics and country, Stevens presents a wealth of information on everything from the financing of the pirates, to the vast difference between the wealthy tourists and the locals who will risk their very lives at the prospect of leaving the poverty of their tiny villages.  Throughout, the characters were richly drawn and unforgettable.  I sometimes find when I read spy novels I get lost in the rush of names and characters, but from Amber, the wife of Munroe's boss to the members of a gang who are described mainly by their clothing, each person Munroe comes in contact with is someone you come to know too.  As they are woven into the story and the pattern begins to take shape you can see how each one progresses the plot and easily recall their roles in the unfolding drama.

In the center of the book there is a lone page that is completely black.  When I first glanced at it I thought it may be a border on a page that held a map of the area, but when I flipped to it and saw the inky paper staring at me I knew I had to begin reading.  I loved this device - I wasn't sure if it was a split where the novel was going to change directions or possibly locations or if it was a marker of a death or event that couldn't be undone.  I flipped the pages proceeding it with delight and dread wondering what it meant and what significant event it would mark.  I won't spoil it by telling you its mission (what fun would that be?) but I will say that that black page had a tremendous impact on me as a reader and on the story as well.  I was delighted to have a physical copy of the book because although I read on my Kindle and enjoy a variety of e-titles, this single black page added an amazing amount of suspense and anticipation to my reading experience.

Although I love to read, it isn't often that a book will have me reaching for it again, but I know that when I start the first book in this series I will come back and re-read this with a new understanding of some of the characters that I didn't get to know from the previous novels.  I can't wait to find out more about Samantha and some of the others who were mentioned and who I know must have had considerable page time in the previous books.  I'm happy that those folks are waiting for me in the weeks to come.

I would certainly recommend this book - it was published July 15th 2014 and is available in stores
Here's a link to purchase it from Random House which also provides links to other retailers.

Finally, I would also like to tell you briefly about my experiences with the author Taylor Stevens.  I dropped her a note on her Facebook page to thank her for the opportunity to read her books.  I had The Catch on my "to read" shelf on my Goodreads profile and had entered the giveaway there to win a copy although I wasn't chosen.  When it was a stand alone selection on the Blogging for Books site I had already chosen a different novel to review, so I was terribly excited when the opportunity to read the whole series popped up.  In response to my thank you she sent a lovely note hoping I would be selected as a reader and hoping I loved her books.  I was touched that she took the time to respond so personally and since she has retweeted and favorited many of my Twitter posts about the book.  I have never felt so lucky, or that my opinion counted so much with an author.  If you're reading this Taylor, you have a fan for life.

Again, a huge thank you to all of the people at Random House and Crown, Ms. Stevens, Blogging for Books and Sarah Breivogel (Executive Publicist at Crown) for generously providing me these wonderful books.  I love book mail.  It is my favorite mail of all and when the books are awesome and give me new characters to fall in love with, all the better.  I hope you all fall in love with the totally bad ass Vanessa Michael Munroe too.

Much Love and Joy to you - that which is found in the pages of books perhaps!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Campfire memories

I loved sitting in front of the fire as a kid.

We didn't have a fireplace in my home but I used to love visiting my grandparents' homes because they did.  I was obsessed with the screens and the tools and the hearth in general.  I don't remember my grandparents well because they either passed away when I was small or were stricken with Alzheimer's and I didn't have much time with them while they were lucid and able to remember my presence.

 We didn't go camping as a family either.  The memories of campfires and the songs and community they offered came later.  A week of camp in fifth grade and a few trips to Lake Erie and Camp Glinodo as a girl scout had memorable ghost stories and whispered secrets, but fires really came into their own in Cherokee.

I spent four summers in Cherokee, North Carolina living and working "on the hill" with the cast and crew of Unto These Hills.  Every night was a party filled with crazy, wonderful artistic souls who were coming together to tell the story of the Cherokee Indians in the Smoky Mountains and their eventual journey to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

The drama was fun, the people who surrounded me were amazing.  The nightly bonfire right outside the door to my room in the girl's dorm was the center of each evening.  I'd sing, I'd act and then I would walk home to a huge fire and voices filling the summer night with song.  Someone always had a guitar and someone always had a story to tell.  I long for those days.

I still don't live in a house with a fireplace.  If we had one I'm sure it would be lit all year because I am always freezing, but we do have a fire pit.  I'm sitting here writing while staring at the dancing flames and smelling that delicious scent of smoke and char.  It is such a simple pleasure - the heat on my face and shins reminding me of summers long past where I was young and desired and always lending my voice to soar in harmony with my friends while the night spread across the sky.  While the stars watched, the leaves whispered "never forget this moment".

I never will foget my good fortune and those fantasic summer nights.  I never will.  I hope that there are some in my future, and that the people dear to me will share an evening of song again.  Bring your guitars friends, you're all invited.

If you happen to be looking into a fire tonight, or any night this summer, think of me.  I'll share it with you in spirit and iin my dreams.

  Much love to all of you.  I hope your night is filled with embers, harmony and friendship.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Extra Virgin Cookbook review and my yummy ricotta pancakes experience!

Howdy folks!

I recently received a copy of Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar.  Extra Virgin also is a show on the Cooking Channel where the authors invite you into their kitchen and create Tuscan inspired, family friendly dishes.  I was excited about this book because I have been a fan of Debi Mazar's acting for many years and she was my favorite part of the HBO series Entourage.  I have caught the Extra Virgin television show several times, stopping because I recognize her distinctive voice and accent and I'm always charmed by her beauty and ease in the kitchen with her husband Gabriele.  This collection of recipes is written with lots of talk of their children, love and the satisfaction that providing a delicious meal for your own loved ones creates.

The cover art is gorgeous, like all of the photographs in the book.  Just opening it made me want a plate of pasta to magically appear in front of me.  The title section of the cover is crafted from a textured paper and it feels marvelous as well as adding a bit of traction to an slippery cover.  I am a klutz and I'm always dropping things, especially in the kitchen when I'm thinking of timing and preparing the food, so for me this was a useful and pleasant touch.

 I feel this book would make an excellent gift because in addition to it being a visual feast, it is filled with many straight forward, easy to follow recipes.  Many of the recipes in Extra Virgin are a little above my skill level in the kitchen, but they are written in such a way that I would be inspired to try them. The authors give several tips for how to accomplish certain steps, helpful hints and substitutions and every recipe is presented with a glimpse into their busy life, their affection for each other and their daughters and the importance of food in their lives.

I was struck many times by the descriptions of dishes Debi and Gabriele remembered from their childhood and how they adapted them to fit their hectic schedules.  Page after page delivers romantic stories like that of the squash blossoms that Gabriele cooked for Debi on their first date or the way they incorporate parts of their heritage into their dinner table to remember and honor their loved ones.  Each story is warm and inviting and feels like something you'd hear from a friend.  I like the tone and the focus on simple, delicious food as a way of communicating love and passion.

The book is made up of several chapters including appetizers, entrees, sides, desserts and drinks.  Some dishes like pastas, panini and pizzas receive their own chapters and there are often notes on how to adapt them for a Kosher table as well as to make them vegetarian friendly.  In the beginning they also take the time to describe both the pantry essentials and equipment they keep on hand to prepare the meals.  I was excited to try my hand at a recipe for this review but my relative lack of the things common to their kitchen (which is stocked with items such as whole milk, red onions, fresh herbs and guanciale - a cured pork) led me to the recipe for ricotta pancakes.  It sounded delicious, was a favorite of Debi's and seemed approachable.  Best of all I had all the items on hand to make them so I could start them right away.

The instructions made it easy and my Kitchen Aide stand mixer (that was a brilliant gift from my husband who loves to eat and loves even more when I try new recipes) made it even easier to beat the egg whites into peaks and add whole milk ricotta cheese, sugar, salt, egg yolks, flour and lemon zest to form a light batter with lots of volume.  The recipe served four but we made quick work of the eleven cakes which I served with Vermont maple syrup, blackberries from our backyard and some mint leaves that my husband planted for me this spring.  I had three and was pleasantly full but Andy finished the rest and said he hoped I would make them again soon.

 Although it had some techniques I don't normally do, I believe they came out well.  I posted a picture of them on Twitter and @Debi_Mazar retweeted it so I was thrilled to think that she did too!

The thing I liked best about this book was a brief passage where Ms. Mazar explains that she wants you to love the recipes and make them your own.  She says "So please use this book.  Dog ear the pages.  Get sauce on it.  Let a spray of olive oil from a vigorous drizzle mark its pages.  Write your favorite notes - your own inspirations - in the margins.  Let the love we put into these recipes become a part of your home."  This sums up the whole experience that is Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen.  I will use this book in the years to come and be thankful for its presence.  I don't mind the buttery fingerprint on the ricotta pancakes recipe one bit.  It's a mark of progress in my cooking journey and a reminder that Andy can't wait for more.

For more info on this cookbook, you can click on these links: Author bios,  About Extra Virgin from Random House, and you can follow Gabriele Corcos on Twitter at Under The Tuscan Gun.  It's available in stores now.

I hope you enjoyed this blog entry.  I received ExtraVirgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen from Blogging for Books for this review.

Many thanks for reading.  Much love to all of you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gratitude for a new direction

Howdy folks!

I have thought long and hard about the things I love and things I'm thankful for.  As you may or may not know, I wanted to start blogging as a way to show my gratitude for all of the simple everyday pleasures I experience, and I have many things to be thankful for.  Sometimes I'm excited about a new beauty find or a tv show that I can't get enough of.  Recently I've been really excited by the opportunity to review some books and I can't wait to start.  I love reading, and in the coming weeks I'll be showing you some of the cool finds I've discovered in that area and throwing in some quick reviews of the subscription boxes that I have kept after cutting back on the extreme amount I had been lured into trying.

Most days I am extremely thankful to have a husband who reminds me that the things I see as overwhelming and impossible to overcome are really just minor setbacks.  I tend to freak out and feel like the world is coming to an end when things aren't looking up.  A perfect example: I accidentally overdrew my checking account because I didn't realize the credit card company set up my automatic payment to come out on a different day than my payment due date.  Because of that I had been double paying the minimum plus on my card for four months which was great for my card balance but crap for my checkbook  balancing and I thought I had way more money than I did as a result.  The way I dealt with it was a huge crying jag and cursing myself for my stupidity while I worried myself sick.  Andy was able to help me realize it was just a mistake, and although it is sucky and will require me to say no to some temptations to spend, it also helped me realize that I can easily do that.

There are so many ways to have fun without spending a ton of money.  I had a friend who I haven't seen in nearly twenty years visit for the fourth of July and we had an amazing day just hanging out in the backyard and taking his kids to a local playground.  I also just got an email telling me I won a contest and will be receiving a surprise package of beauty treats from Covergirl from sharing a picture on Instagram.  There are great things happening all around me and I don't need to waste any time worrying over the setbacks or concerning myself with what other people think.  I hope that soon I'll be posting several times a week and showing you the things that are making me happy and hopefully they can make you happy too.  I'd love for you to share your ideas on saving money or suggesting a great read that I can borrow from the library.  I will also be shopping my beauty stash and going back to use some products I've received from subscriptions that will help me use up the bounty of products I already have instead of buying more.

In the meantime I wish you all much love and a joy filled week.  See you soon!

This is Andy and I at an Orioles game. We had free tickets!