Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zombies (Surely you saw that coming) #AtoZChallenge

Zombies have become pretty popular these days - lots of books, movies and tv shows have cropped up. I've heard of Zombie Romance stories... but I have not read any. I'm sorry, but that's a cross over I think I can do without. Even if La Esmeralda can make zombie-ism look good (heck, she can make anything look good - she's gorgeous)

She likes a guy with brains...
Something about the whole zombie craze is pretty enjoyable though. I have certainly had fun with it :)

I have already blogged about the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry - which isn't all about zombies, in fact there's nary a zombie in several of the books. I'm still working through this series - I'm on book four Assassin's Code now and I have to tell you they just keep getting better. 

I decked out my husband's jeep in Zombie Outbreak Response Team stickers and that's a Zombie Hunting Permit there on the fender. I have one on my car too. Lenny gets lots of comments on his Jeep :)

Since we live so remote, one of the first things people typically say when the visit is that they're headed to our house when the zombies come. It should be a good location - we live in the desert, so we should be able to see them coming. And that's assuming they even make it out this way.

The only thing not "fun" about zombies, except for presumably the smell, getting infected or having one sneak up on you, is fast zombies. All I have to say is... I like my zombies slow. Fast zombies are too freaking scary. Give me the nice slow ones from The Walking Dead. The way the zombies ran, then piled up to climb walls in World War Z... shudder... no one likes fast zombies.

Wow, the last day of the challenge - I did it! Woohoo! If you're visiting from the challenge - congrats!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

X is for X-Ray #AtoZChallenge

I'd like to say that I messed up the order of the alphabet on purpose, but I didn't. Whoops!

But it works out ok because today I got an X-Ray. Why? Because a week after the infamous Kaboom incident I started hurting rather badly, so I figured I should make sure I didn't break anything.

The good news is: I didn't.

The bad news: I really don't feel any better - at least not physically - but at least I know I didn't do any real damage, so that's something.

Tomorrow is the last day of the AtoZChallenge - almost there! Now I just need to think of a Z word...

In other news, my best friend was in town over the weekend. We did the math and determined that we've been friends for TWENTY YEARS! Wow! Since we were 9!


OK... since we were 19! (give or take)

She left yesterday - I miss her already.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Y is for Young Living @AtoZChallenge

In my experience, people are passingly interested in essential oils until they hear one of a few things. The top two that I've seen... sleep and allergies.

They can help you - and perhaps more importantly your kids! - sleep. Personally, I use Cedarwood on myself. I diffuse Peace & Calming for Angie at bedtime. They work.

Allergies! I use this blend on my husband and daughter - it has been a rough allergy season, but the oils have really helped both of them. I put it on Angie's toes at night. For Lenny I make a capsule - Lavender burps! LOL

Other common "A-ha" moments include weight loss, energy, calming melt-downs, easing stress and the always popular pain cream. 

I also add 10 drops of Lemon Grass.

Remember - keep calm and oil on! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for World of Warcraft #AtoZChallenge

I bought World of Warcraft the week it came out, almost 10 years ago now. I've been playing it on and off since. Yeah, I'm a Geeky Gamer Girl :)

What I like about WoW is that Blizzard keeps adding more content, and not just in expansions, but in patches they release throughout the year. The game has evolved as the years have gone by, and in many ways it's much easier to play now then it was when it first came out. This is by design, so that players can level up characters easier and faster, and get to the end game content. 

WoW can be played by many different types of gamers - from hardcore to casual and there are a lot of different things you can do. There's raiding for people who like organized questing, player vs. player (PVP) activities, solo questing and now pet battling. 

If you've considered playing, now's a good time to check it out. You can play the game for free up to level 20. If you'd like, shoot me an email and I'll invite you - there are perks in it for both of us :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Veronica Roth #AtoZChallenge

Have you read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth? If you haven't, you need to stop what you're doing and go read it - seriously. Better yet, listen to Emma Galvin read it to you on Audiobook

They recently released the first movie of the series and it was really good, but as you know the book is (almost) always better than the movie.

Tris, the main character, has just turned 16. She lives in a dystopian world in Chicago's future and must choose which of the five factions she wants to belong to. The tagline for the book is "One choice can transform you" and so it does... Tris begins a journey of self-discovery that leads her to "ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another".

Tris, Four, Christina, Will and the others are the types of characters that stay with you.

Excellent. I wish the series had never ended. However, if you haven't read them, you're in luck - you won't have to wait forever for the sequels to come out. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Utter Happiness #AtoZChallenge

I am so blessed to have such a great guy. He always makes me laugh and picks me up when I'm sad or upset (or fall on my keester in the shower.... OMG you should see the bruise!). Always supportive, always loving and always there for me.

And I have a wonderful daughter who is beautiful and smart and healthy. She can be a handful, but she makes me smile and takes care of me too - like providing me with a blanket and stuffed animals when I fall on said keester...

This is what utter happiness looks like to me :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Christoper Titus #AtoZChallenge

I love to laugh. My favorite comedian - Christopher Titus. What I like about him is that his shows are so raw and personal.

His best show, in my opinion, is Norman Rockwell is Bleeding... wow... I laughed so hard, and then he made me cry, and then laugh some more. Powerful stuff, all about his life growing up, his dysfunctional family and meeting his wife.

I have a signed copy of the DVD - squeeeee! :)

Here's a taste:

"When you see the shit just about to hit the fan... you step to the side of the fan."


And then there's his definition of the word "retard" - wait, don't get offended. I promise you'll laugh, and you know some of these folks...

So, if you're looking for a laugh and to maybe feel a little better about your dysfunctional family or retarded friends or relatives, there's no one better than Titus. 

You can find Titus on Facebook and Twitter too. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Maria V. Snyder #AtoZChallenge

Yet another great author that Audible is responsible for me finding - you see, sometimes when you use your credits they give you the opportunity to purchase a book for $4.95. Some of those books - usually the ones that sound really interesting - are a part of a series and zoop! I get sucked in.

So anyway, the first book by Snyder that I read was Poison Study. A young lady, about to be executed for murder, is offered a job as the food tester for Commander of Ixia. Why does he need a food tester? Because people routinely try to poison him. Bonus, the chief of security feeds her a poison that will kill her if she doesn't take the antidote daily - thus keeping her from running away.

These books are set in a world filled with Magic, intrigue and mystery. Poison Study is the first of three books - and I highly recommend the series.

Next I read Touch of Power, another books set in a Magical land. Avry is a Healer - in addition to herbal medicine, she can assume the wounds or diseases of her patients into herself, thereby healing them. The bad news, there was a huge plague that killed off a huge portion of the population and the Healers were blamed for it. So, all of the Healers have been hunted down and killed.

Avry becomes deeply entrenched in the various plots to rule what's left of the world. Luckily all three books of this series are out, so you can tear through them one after the other with no waiting!

You can read more about these, and Snyder's other books, on her website here:

I should note that I listened to these on audiobook. They were narrated by Garbra Zackman and very well done.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rear #AtoZChallenge

Yesterday we stopped at the store to pick up a few things...

Within an hour of getting home, one of these items had me crashing to the floor. It's probably not the most obvious choice...

The other day I blogged about O is for OxiClean - a review for a product that I really love. Someone suggested in the comments that their shower cleaner - Kaboom - worked really well. So, I thought I'd give it a try. 

I have tried just about everything on my shower doors to cut through the soap scum and mineral deposits, so I sprayed and sprayed them with the Kaboom. The smell is obnoxious - I was coughing and gagging. Then I went to get out of the shower and...

Oh, there was a KABOOM alright...
I fell so hard that Angie heard me land across the entire length of the house. My hip/butt hit the shower door track, my ankle, elbow and head hit the walls and somehow I hit my knee too. 

I refrained from taking/posting a picture of my bruise, although it is very large and very colorful. You're welcome.

So... public service announcement folks... Kaboom is slippery. Actually, any cleaner sprayed in the shower probably is - so be careful out there. Otherwise you too might fall on your rear. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quitting #AtoZChallenge

Sometimes quitting is easy, like when you stop working out. That's easy to do; unfortunately it's really hard to get started again.

But more often, quitting is hard... quitting smoking, quitting a relationship, quitting a job. Sure, we might fantasize about leaving a tough situation, or what life will be like after we make the change, but when it comes down to it more often than not those are the pivotal moments in our lives.

Thankfully I am not faced with a decision of such magnitude in my life right now - although I have been many times in the past.

But if you are, please allow me to offer this...

  1. Will it matter in five years? Or even just one? Put yourself in "future-self's" shoes - when you look back at this time, what decision will make you proud, happy or breathe a sigh of relief?
  2. Whatever it is... you're going to be OK. Believe that... one way or another you'll move past this and it will be OK.
  3. You are not alone. If you feel like you are, join Twitter... seriously. Twitter is like being at a HUGE party where everyone is talking and I'm willing to bet you that no matter what problem you are facing, someone out there is talking about it. Search around, you'll find them. 
  4. *hug* really, it'll be OK.

“Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it's learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.” 
― Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Painting #AtoZChallenge

So... I paint. Not a lot and not super well, but I do paint :)

Sometimes I paint on glass - which is a lot of fun. It's also a great way to make gifts for friends and family and honestly, you don't really need artistic skill to do it. You can find patterns and even pre-made designs to help you plot out your project.

Sometimes I paint on canvas...

Bessie the Suspicious Cow
Happy as a Pig in Mud

For my love - those are stickers over my painting. I got the sticker on Amazon.
And sometimes I paint on the walls...

The most important thing about painting... have fun with it. It doesn't have to be "perfect" - mine certainly aren't. But they're fun and I enjoyed doing them. 

Happy Painting!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for OxiClean #AtoZChallenge

When I come across a product that I just love I try to spread the word. This one is ode to OxiClean. We live out in the country and use well water. The water tastes good, but it leaves a lot of calcium deposits and make our clothes - especially whites - look dingy.

On a whim I started adding OxiClean to the wash and WOW has it made a difference!! I had stopped buying whites because even with bleach they never stayed white, but I don't have that problem anymore. All of our clothes look so much better and even clothes that I had all but given up on are looking bright and clean!

I have also used OxiClean to clean the shower, the walls and other surfaces and it works great. Not good on glass though, so it does have its limitations.

So, if your clothes are starting to look drab, try it out. You can get it at Sam's Club in a big box for about $14. It's worth it and will last a long time!

FYI OxiClean didn't send me any free samples or otherwise influence this post. I just love the stuff. I haven't tried their other products (honestly, I didn't know about them until I went looking for a picture). Looks like they have clothes and dish washing detergents too - I should give them a try :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Negativity #AtoZChallenge

Negativity is something I - perhaps we all - battle every day; both within myself and from others. I have been trying to avoid it at all costs these days, even if that means avoiding certain people as much as possible.

See, negativity is like a fast moving virus... and if you don't stop it in its tracks, or avoid people plagued with it, it's easy to catch. I recently weaned myself off of anti-anxiety meds (Pristiq), so I'm really doing everything I can to avoid anything - or anyone - that might bring me down.

So, short post today. Avoid negativity - that is all :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Jonathan Maberry #AtoZChallenge

Here we are, half way through the AtoZChallenge! Pretty proud of myself :)

 I saw this on Corinne O'Flynn's blog and had to share it

I mentioned Jonathan Maberry in my D is for Dystopian post the other day and now that I am on book three of his Joe Ledger series I have determined that he deserves his own post. 

Apparently my taste is books is morphing, because I find myself leaning more towards these types of books lately. There's very little romance, a lot of crazy and powerful bad guys, quite a lot of fighting and gore, zombies (although only in the first book, so far) and a secret government agency. 

The characters Maberry writes are excellent. Joe has a wry sense of humor, even at the worst of times. Church, the leader of the agency, is as bad-ass and mysterious as they come, but is rarely without vanilla wafers to nibble on. Then there are Grace, Rudy, Bunny, Topp and Dr. Hu - each with their own quirks and rich personalities. All in all, great books. 

So far there are six books in the Joe Ledger series and Maberry has another series I plan to check out when I'm done with the one called Rot & Ruin, a four book series set in a "zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America". 

If you like action/adventure stories, this series is for you. Also, the narrator of the audio books, Ray Porter is excellent. I would listen to just about any book this guy has read.

In fact, before I started on the Joe Ledger series, I had listened to 14 by Peter Clines. 14 was a really good, and very unusual book; along the lines of John Dies at the End.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lindsey Stirling #AtoZChallenge

Had enough book reviews? Let's talk music!

I stumbled over Lindsey Stirling about a year ago, thanks to Pandora, and she quickly became one of my favorite artists. This girl is not your average musician in any way, shape or form. She's a violinist, dancer, composer and she even edits her own music videos - and she does each of these things phenomenally!! Also, she's incredibly sweet and funny.

Elements was the first song of hers I heard, and I quickly purchased her full album. She has videos out on all of her songs, I believe. Her second album, Shatter Me, is due out at the end of this month - I have already pre-ordered it :)

Lindsey also does covers, like the one for Radioactive. I love the original song, but her cover, with Pentatonix, is fantastic. Check it out...

You can find Lindsey on Facebook and YouTube - check her out :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for... uh... a k word... #AtoZChallenge

Yeah... I couldn't think of any good K words to blog about. I have L all figured out though - there will be videos, dancing and music!! Be sure to come back on Monday!

But K... I guess there was Karma, but that's a little too deep of a topic for me tonight.

Last year I did Just Kaizen - and although I enjoy me some continuous improvement, and am a "Lean Leader" at work, I'm too tired to Kaizen tonight.

I covered Stephen King's books pretty thoroughly in last year's B is for Books, and periodically in other posts. King writes a lot of great books.

In 2012 I did K is for Twitter is Awesome - and it is, but sadly I haven't spent much time there lately. Plus, Twitter still doesn't start with a K...

In 2011 I did K is for Kleenex Karma - a classic. Three years later and I still feel strongly that "green" should never apply to tissues. Thankfully our Office Services Dept. relented and brought back Kleenex - perhaps as a result of that post? Hmmm?

This is the part where we find out if Chris and Lisa read my blog.

Oh crap... I just thought of a K word... Kid. Duh... oh well, here's a picture of my kid :)

The menu for Angie's trendy new restaurant - Spigedy Splits

K word... nailed it :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jumping Around (through Time) #AtoZChallenge

I have read/listened to several time travel novels over the past few years. This is a genre that I have long enjoyed. As much as I love my technology, there's something compelling about going back (or perhaps forward) in time. And further how little actions can cause huge ripples through time.

Years and years ago, one of my favorite authors was Constance O'Day Flannery who writes time travel romance. I still own all of her books from the 80s and 90s, and have read them all several times. It looks like many of her books have been re-released. If you're a time travel romance lover, you'll enjoy these. Timeless Passion was my favorite.

Side note... most of the books I "read" these days are audiobooks and let me tell you... listening to romance novels is not for the weak of heart. In fact, I generally avoid them now, because it's just... uncomfortable to listen to sex scenes while driving in my car. But hey, if you like that stuff, you go for it! :)

Time and Again by Jack Finney was an interesting and quirky novel all around. There was time travel (of course), a mystery, a murder, how the past links to the future and a little romance to keep things interesting. Great book.

No grouping of time travel books would be complete without Stephen King's 11-22-63. I've been interested in the JFK Assassination story since high school. My all-time favorite teacher, Mr. Also, spent a whole week on the topic my Sophomore year and I was hooked.

This book wasn't just about the assassination though, it was so much more. And no, there are no freaky clowns in sewers in this book, it's virtually monster free... but as you may know, no King book is ever 100% monster free. It's just that most of his monsters dwell in the minds of mankind.

Replay by Ken Grimwood is a completely different kind of time travel. Our main character, Jeff, dies at age 43 and wakes up in his 18-year old body. His memory is intact, but he is again living his life from age 18. He has the opportunity to change his life completely, because he knows how his choices turned out the first time around. Interesting concept, no? It's a book that will make you think about your own life and the choices that brought you to where you are today.

To Say Nothing of the Dog: or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis is "a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love and time travel". I really enjoyed this book, it was so sweet and quirky and funny. The characters were well done and hilarious. The story was interesting from beginning to end. Loved it!

And finally... Outlander by Diana Gabladon. Have you read this series? There are only two books that I have read through, then immediately started over again and this is the first of them. Wow... you can smell the dirt and hear the horses in these books. Be sure to clear some time for these books, they're long and will suck you in so deeply that you'll lost sight of just about everything else. Superb! I've read and reread these books, and then I bought the audio versions and listened to them too!

Exciting news! Starz is making these books into a series that starts this summer. I am hoping to figure out some way to watch - since we don't have cable.

Have you read any time travel books? Have any recommendations? Let's hear them! :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for The Iron Druid Chronicles #AtoZChallenge

The Iron Druid Chronicles is (yet another!) favorite series of mine, written by Kevin Hearne. I honestly think these books are probably better on audiobook... why? Because the voice actor, Luke Daniels, does a fantastic job with these books. That and Oberon...

The series is about a 2,000 year old Druid named Atticus O'Sullivan. Sorry, no vampires in this series, but there are plenty of Gods from Mythology, Magic and a whole lot of humor to make up for it. Oberon is Atticus' Wolfhound; and while Oberon doesn't really talk, Atticus can converse with him (because he's a Druid). Their conversations, and Oberon's observations, provide great comic relief for the story, even when drama is high. These books are action packed and highly recommended for all audiences.

I think I stumbled over the first book (Hounded) because it was on sale - Audible is always having sales (and sucking me into series books!) - and I bought all of the other books in the series just as soon as my monthly credits rolled in.

As an added bonus, the book covers are also easy on the eye...


You can follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook, and Oberon on Twitter. Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Harrison and Harkness #AtoZChallenge

Two of my favorite authors grace today's post... Kim Harrison and Deborah Harkness.

Kim Harrison writes The Hollows books - there are currently 12 books in this series, with a 13th and final book due out early next year. I stumbled over Ms. Harrison on because of a sale on a collection of her short stories titled Into the Woods. I was intrigued by her alternate reality world and quickly sucked into the world she has created. These books live in today's world, but in an alternate reality where instead of jumping into the Space Race, we jumped into genetic engineering. An accidental release of a virus then killed off much of the human population, revealing to the world that witches, vampires, werewolves and other non-human's really do exist.

If you like Stephanie Plum, you'll love Rachel Morgan.

Then there's Deborah Harness. The third, and final, novel in her All Souls trilogy is due out in July and I can't wait! These books also feature witches and vampires, but these ones are still largely hidden from society. Throw in a little time travel, a few mysteries and the fact that vampires are basically immortal - plus a dash of forbidden love and you'll find yourself glued to these books, and very likely looking up some of the history and art online. Ms. Harkness is a history professor and her love of libraries and history shines through.

I recommend both of these authors without reservation. I am looking forward to the final book in both of these series, but am also dreading seeing the great characters they write leave.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Gaming #AtoZChallenge

I have always loved to play games, first board and card games, then video games. Here are some of my favorites:

Crazy Gin - This is a card game that's best played with 3-6 players. There are seven rounds, each with different requirements to earn points. If you like card games, you'll love this one - it's very competitive and it takes wit and cunning to win.

Sorry - Angie and I both love playing this board game and we are never sorry! Never get complacent when playing Sorry, because the game can turn quickly. Some of the biggest comebacks ever have happened in this game!

World of Warcraft - I started playing WOW the week it came out, and I've stopped playing two different times now, but it keeps sucking me back. What I like about it is that you can play it in many different ways - solo, with a group, PVP and now pet battling. They also keep adding content. What I like best is that Lenny and I can play it together - because the family that plays together, stays together :)

UNO - what's not to like? Angie and I play Classic Uno and Uno Attack regularly. Plus, I play it on my Kindle - Uno with Friends. Simple to understand, yet totally cut-throat.

Dungeon Keeper - DK 1 & 2 are two of my all time favorite video games. Sadly, they have stopped making Dungeon Keeper games - but EA Games recently released DK2 in an iPad/Kindle app, so there's hope! I also stumbled over a developer making a similar game called War for the Overworld - I donated to their KickStarter campaign and am looking forward to what they come up with.

The Sims - I've been playing the Sims on and off for years... since the franchise started. The Sims 3 is available for a steal right now, if you're interested (<$20 = game whoring prices). The Sims 4 is in development - should be interesting.

What games do you like to play?

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Funny #AtoZChallenge

I love making people laugh. Angie appears to have inherited this from me. I bought her a joke book for Easter in hopes of giving her some new material, because most of her jokes are pretty bad.

So, not much post today, but several pictures that I hope make you laugh :)

That front tooth was really loose and it gave me the willies... so of course Angie had to keep torturing me with it LOL

I really wanted to use this one for last year's Christmas Cards...

As you might guess, the photo shoot lasted for awhile... but I did get a few good shots.

A monkey at the zoo
Hope you had a great day!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

About six months ago I discovered essential oils, and I was very skeptical. My personality type demands that I analyze everything, then double check it if there's still the slightest doubt. So I grilled my friend, I Googled essential oils, I joined a group on Facebook dedicated to just talking about oils, I got a book specifically on the topic and, by chance, I mentioned it to my mother in law. Turns out, she's been using oils for a very long time.

One thing my friend said to me stood out... we pop Tylenol or Advil without even thinking about it, or doing research on side effects or what's in them, but when offered an all natural alternative made from plants we feel the need to over analyze it.

Good point; so, I decided to try them out.

So six months later, how do I feel about the oils?

Extremely frustrated!!


Because they really do work and I want everyone to use them. And I know I sound like a commercial or like a... well a snake oils salesman, but seriously, my whole family uses oils daily now. I use them on my daughter for allergies, if she has a cough I rub Thieves on her toes and she stops coughing - yes, even in her sleep. My husband uses them for allergies too, back pain, and for deep muscle and joint pain. My aunt is battling restless leg syndrome and muscle pain. My step mother, a diabetic, has been able regulate her sugar levels with oils. Several friends use Valor to stop their husband's snoring, or on themselves to help them sleep through the night, some for the first time in years. Even more friends use them to help their kids sleep. And me? I've used oils to wean myself off of anti-anxiety meds. I now use them daily to boost my energy, enhance my mood, calm anxieties and to help me lose weight.

All with no side effects, no liver damage or any of the other scary things synthetic drugs can cause.

But I'm just not comfortable "selling" anything - it's just not me - but I am super happy when I can introduce someone to The Lemon Drop Lounge group on Facebook, or help them get their own oils starter kit and then "geek out about oils" with me. Every person I have hooked up with a kit has thanked me, most of them many times, several of them profusely. That makes me feel great, and I like feeling great :)

"The Kit" is $150, and yeah, I get it - that seems like a lot, but here's the thing, they really do work and may very likely take the place of some of the over the counter products you buy all the time. Plus, you quite literally use them drop by drop. All of the things mentioned above? Generally one drop will do it and there are 85-100 drops of oil in each bottle. 

You'll often hear me say "there's an oil for that!" - so, if you want to know if there's an oil, or blend, for what's ailing you - let me know, there probably is something out there that can help - I now have several books on using essential oils. Or if you just have questions in general, drop me a line at mrspickle at or look me up on Facebook - I'm happy to help. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dystopian #AtoZChallenge

Dystopian novels are sometimes referred to as apocalyptic novels - in other words, the world as we know it has ended. These novels are very popular right now, although this really isn't something new.

Here are some of my Dystopian novel recommendations. Note, I listened to all of these on audio book from, and all were very well produced, which only added to the story. I drive two hours a day and audio books are my saving grace - I HIGHLY recommend them if you have a long commute.

The Divergent series by Veronica Roth - wow are these books good!! The first book, Divergent, was recently made into a movie, and I assume the others will follow. The movie was great too, by the way, but the books are almost always better.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - you've probably heard of these ones, but if you've only watched the movie, you missed out on half of the story. The books are fantastic.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - this book was published in the 1950s, but its message as still as relevant today. I have read that this book is one of the top 10 most influential books ever written. If you're going to listen to the audio book, get the one by Scott Brick - he's a phenomenal narrator. I was so moved by this book that once I finished it (all sixty hours of it), I immediately listened to it a second time.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon - this twist to this one is that it's set in 2059 and features people with psychic abilities and aliens. Sounds pretty crazy, but trust me, this book was action packed and compelling. The second book in this series is due out in October 2014.

Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez - these books feature high tech toys that actually exist today, but are not yet on the market. Really interesting stuff, the first book is pretty terrifying (not in a horror way, but more in the dismantling of society way) and the second book is inspiring - a vision of what society could become. Amazing books that I have listened to more than once.

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry - this is more of an honorable mention, because in the end the heroes were able to stave off the end of the world by zombie infestation. I am currently listening to this series, and I'm really enjoying it. The main character, Joe Ledger, has a great sense of humor which makes the books that much more enjoyable.

The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin - wow... these books... just wow. They start off in present day and before you know it the world just spins out of control, then BAM it's 100 years later. There are some interesting twists and turns, and a lot of things I never saw coming. The final book in the trilogy isn't out yet, but I'm waiting for it with baited breath!

The Stand by Stephen King - I read IT when I was in high school, and pretty much avoided King's books for about the next 20 years, but somehow I ended up reading The Stand and I loved it! I have read several of his non-mad clown books now and have really enjoyed them.

All of these books have been out for awhile, so you can get them in softcover for a steal. If you're interested in audio books, I highly recommend, but I have also heard that some local libraries have audio books too. Happy reading, or listening!

Note: Sorry... I had links in here for each book, but something got goofed up with them :(

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Crown King #AtoZChallenge

For about the past year, we've been going out on Jeep rides with a bunch of other rock crawling folks. It has been a lot of fun! Two of my favorite rides have been to Crown King via what is known as "the back way".

The Crown King rock

Last September we went on the AZ Virtual Jeep Club’s 15th Annual ‘Run to Crown King’, with a few hundred other Jeeps throughout the day. You know... it's fun to be part of something "bigger than you" once in awhile. It was a great day.

There was a contest to see who got the muddiest, we didn't win, but Lenny did participate :)

There are several "obstacles" along the way, which is Jeeper-speak for rough inclines that may or may not cause body damage, engine failure, transmission problems, broken axles, burnt clutches or roll overs. 

We bypassed this one.

Almost there!

Surprisingly, that Jeep took very little damage - a small dent in the rear door, if I recall correctly.  
Having all four tires on the ground is not a requirement

This here is called "articulation" - it makes Jeep Guys happy :)
These pictures are from two different Crown King runs - one huge one, and one small, but both were a great time. If you have a Jeep (or a dirt bike or a 4-wheeler), some buddies and an afternoon to relax, I recommend this trail. Just be careful and go slow. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Blessed - #AtoZChallenge #OolaLife

It's easy to dwell on, or complain about, life's little inconveniences and frustrations, but I really am very blessed and do my best to focus on that. Party because I believe one manifests what they focus on...

If you focus on all of the negative around you - and there's a lot of it out there - that's what you'll draw to you.

So, here are just a few of the things I am blessed to have in my life...

Jeep Rides

And pretty skies

My little pot

and a hubby who's HOT ;) 

What are you blessed with?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Angie #AtoZChallenge

Here we are, the first day of the 2014 A to Z Challenge! This is my fourth year participating, although I didn't finish it last year.

I don't usually do a "Theme", unless you count getting off of my lazy butt and writing a theme... :)

So A... well that's an easy one, A is for Angie - my little girl. She's six now, well six and a half, as she often reminds me. She's very smart and creative, why just a few weeks ago she put on a puppet show for Lenny and I.

The first thing we noticed were signs... "Puppet Show Today DO NOT MISS"

It's important to advertise.
The show featured a Zebra. 

 And a Tiger

 And a giraffe, whose string was lost... so he was put together with tape - a somewhat tragic tale that ends well, just as long as he doesn't try to move too fast... 

And finally, an elephant.  

Our stalwart adventurers encountered a pirate!!

who wasn't sure just how best to wear her eye patch 

This may have been my suggestion...

And when the play was over, our Puppet-Mistress took a well deserved bow.  

What was the plot? She spent so much time staging the play, putting up signs, arranging chairs for us to sit in, setting up her "state" and putting out snacks (left over Halloween candy LOL (yes, in March)), that she never really got around to planning the play. So, she pretty much made up the story (and acted out) on the spot. 

All in all, I give Angie's Puppet Show 5 out of 5 stars :)