Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl to-be Movie
Gone Girl to-be Movie

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared a link 14 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen and on that list (among several I’ve already read, and a few I still want to and at least one I’ll wait for the movie) was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

This book has been in my Audible wishlist for quite some time. What luck, as I’d been trying to decide which book to get and was having a time of it.. this made up my mind though.

About halfway through, I thought, what is really so special about this book? I mean, it’s good, but.. enough to warrant over 11,000 reviews on Amazon? I wasn’t so sure.

In reading a few reviews, I was careful, because I didn’t want the story spoiled, I saw that the story really picks up when it hits Part Two. I seriously thought I must have been in Part Two already, but I just wasn’t feeling that it had picked up that much.

Getting ready to go out to the Fourth of July Festival today, I was listening and … actually got to Part Two, I really hadn’t missed the announcement. There was no doubting it, even if I had missed “Part Two”.. the story takes such a wild plot twist that I was just in shock. I want so badly to talk to someone about it, but alas.. I’m here, writing to tell you, if you enjoy mysteries, plot twists.. this book, it is soooo worth the read. It makes me want to crawl into a hole and just finish listening – screw the festival, I’m the only one who wanted to go anyway, lol! But no, I must savor it, little bits at a time.

Who am I kidding, I’ll probably spend tomorrow cleaning the house *just* so I can finish the book. Sometimes, I love audio books.

Garage Sales and Haggling

We had a garage sale a few times already this spring. It’s been years since I’ve had one.. but I have spend a couple years helping out at the flea market. And one thing I noticed is there are two main types of shoppers.

One is the shy person. They accept the price marked on the item(s) as set in stone.

I had a man with a thick accent ask how much I wanted for a child’s convertible rocker chair. I told him the price I had on it was $12. He asked again, ‘how much will you take for it?’.. and I replied that I had given him my price, what did he want to offer. He told me he didn’t want to ‘hurt my feelings’. I chuckled.. I told him, it’s a garage sale, let’s haggle.. We settled on a price.

Some people won’t even go as far as he did, but his comment gave me some insight into why some people just accept the price as ‘the price’. People don’t want to offend.

To you shy folks, we may not offer a lower price.. I find I’m less willing to haggle with people who aren’t willing to engage. Chat a bit.. about the weather, about the traffic, about other garage sales, anything.. heck, some lady today told us about her false teeth and how her bottoms ones fit better than the top. My daughter and I looked at each and chuckled as the woman drove away, but we remember her and she got a deal on a few things.

The other type of person, the one who’s ready to get a deal and get it for the best possible price. They may ask how much you want, or they may just say ‘Will you take $x for this?’

Either way, I love this type of shopper. It makes the day more fun. And every item someone buys is one less item I need to move back to the garage – or drive to the thrift store.

One thing to keep in mind, as you set up your garage or yard sale, is many times people attach a sentimental value to items. Sometimes this is good.. but if you are attaching sentimental value to everything you’re trying to sell, you may not do very well. Mark your prices for what you’d be willing to pay, if you saw it at the store or flea market. If it’s worth more to you than you’re willing to part it for, don’t sell it.. save it for the next time.

Don’t be shy. Worst we can do is say ‘no.. that’s too low, how about…. ‘… Just ask. Most people like to haggle, wrangle or dicker.. and this term, I don’t think I’ve heard before.. higgle. What funny words. Just think of those when your out there and remember to higgle a little.

Happy Garage Sale-ing!

Juicing Detox – Going Healthy

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I have never been so sick, in so much pain, for so long. All I wanted was the doctors to make it not hurt. And I wanted to crawl into my little cave and hide from my own body and everything else.

Not long after, my sister was diagnosed with Colitis. She took a much different approach. Instead of using medications, she got back on the healthy track and did much better than I, much quicker.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’m finally following behind her.

For the past year, I’ve wanted an Elliptical Trainer. Got it.
Also on our list was a Breville Juice Fountain Plus. Got it.

Tonight, I had my ‘farewell’ meal – one of our favorite restaurants is closing (it’s been around local since 1963).. and it felt very appropriate that it be my last off-track meal before starting a 3 day plus Juice Detox.

I say 3 day plus because I don’t feel one day is enough, but I don’t want to take on more than I can handle and get discouraged.  So, I’ll do 3 days.. and if I’ve had enough, I’ll stop.. if not, I’ll keep going.

The boys and I tried out the juicer yesterday.  It’s so funny how different real juice tastes compared to what you get at the grocery.  It’s so much better!

I’ll update here periodically, but you can also like us (my oldest daughter and me) on Toward Healthy (it’s sooo brand new I don’t even have a banner image up, so check back as I get things accomplished).

Recommended Documentaries to motivate:
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – Free if you have Amazon Prime
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – on Netflix Instant
It’s also on Hulu.

Hungry for Change – Rental fee on Amazon
Hungry for Change – Netflix (free)

Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Old Friend,

I drove by your old neighborhood a few weeks ago, as I’ve done hundreds of times. This time though, you popped into my head. I had to smile.. Another drive that direction, a couple days later, brought you back to mind.. and I thought how strange, that we’d live in the same city for who knows how long and we’d probably never run in to each other. And, how strange that you would come to mind, a few times, in such a short time.

Imagine my surprise, when just a week later, I see you coming in the door of the cafe.. I wasn’t sure, was it you? But yes, of course it was you.. I knew it. And I know you knew who I was too. I wanted to sink into the floor when they called my name for my food and you were standing right there. If I had any doubt as to whether you knew it was me or not, it was gone then. *laughs*

I’m not sure why I didn’t say hi. I was playing the coward. But you looked so… unhappy. Not in a good place. Maybe it was my excuse for not saying hello. But you didn’t look approachable.

Sitting there, you leaving.. I quickly googled on my phone and found you’re going through a divorce. I can say I’m sorry, for what little good it will do, but I am. Very sorry. (and no.. don’t think I’m weird for googling, it’s so normal, I google everything)

Again, you’re stuck in my head, but not in a little corner, now you’re stuck there, in the front and I’m feeling like such a heel for not saying Hi. I thought, maybe I could send you a card.. which, if you knew me now, you’d know I *never* send cards. But still, I could, and include a letter.. and so then I think about all the things I’d like to say. But, I can’t do that either. You didn’t speak to me as much as I didn’t speak to you. So, maybe you don’t want to talk to me.. that’s ok. I’ll write the letter here. Maybe, one day, you’ll stumble across it.. probably not, but I think it’d be nice if you did.

All this plays out in my head over a couple of days. And then, last night, I get a text from another old, mutual, friend. She wanted to know something mundane, but at this point, I’m really feeling like something was missed, because this friend.. I never talk to her.. we don’t talk on the phone, or text, or email and yet, within days of having seen you, I hear from her. It felt so strange. Honestly, as silly as it sounds saying it ‘out loud’, it felt like I was suppose to have had that opportunity… and I missed it.

So now, what I want to tell you is how you have always held a special place in my heart. I think back to times long gone, and I remember that in a small, simple way, you gave me strength I so desperately needed to move past a bad relationship, and forward. And how thankful I feel for those moments.

I wish I could say a few words and give you strength, courage, hope.. something to make things just a little bit better. Know this.. things do get easier. I wish I could give you a hug, talk about old times over a cup of coffee.

I wish I could go back to a few days ago, just so I could say Hi..

xo

PS… I just remembered this today. I wasn’t even suppose to be at that cafe. Normally we meet at a coffee shop. Friends I was meeting up with wanted to get dinner first.. I went to the wrong location.

Derecho Blows Through

June 2012 Derecho (day-ray-cho) a surprise wind storm blew through, knocking down trees and power lines. In it’s wake, millions of people were without power.


I had been watching the radar.. and the storm coming in looked bad. When I heard a roaring sound out front, I thought it was the wall of rain coming towards us. When I went to the window, there was no rain (yet). It was like a train of wind blowing through the area. With that first gust, our power shut down. It was weird, not like a transformer blowing – although, looking back, I’m not sure we’d have been able to hear one blow anyway, but more like a quiet light switch, turning the whole house off.

Part of what made this power outage so difficult is the heat wave that has been baking the area (and much of the US). It has been so hot that even the air conditioners struggle to blow out cool air, much less cold to cool a room or house. I’ve been opening the house up at night and placing fans in windows to bring in the cooler night air.. then shutting things up again during the day, putting blankets on windows to keep the cooler air in. Unfortunately, even that isn’t helping much.

In 2008, when hurricane Ike became an extratropical hurricane and collided with an adjacent front, it hit us hard leaving over 8 million without power in the midwest. The weather during the Ike outage, was mild and comfortable making it much easier to cope.

We had such a mild winter and an early spring – our spring was like the first days of summer, I think everyone expected a harsh summer… but this one… this year, it’s brutal.

I think I need to find an air conditioned coffee house to hang out in the cool air conditioned air.

Apple Pie Oatmeal

I think I called this Caramel Apple Oatmeal when I took my picture, because I used so much brown sugar and butter… mmm.. it was sooo yummmy.


I am a member of Pinterest. If you aren’t, and you like stuff, you ought to be. No, really. Etsy used to be my favorite site, because of all the cool stuff. Since Pinterest, Etsy has had to take a step back (maybe two or three, because I like Pinterest just that much). But that is all beside the point.

Apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and oatmeal are spot on the point. I found this pin at pinterest for Apple Pie Oatmeal. It looked so tasty (and I was really hungry, but oatmeal is one of my favorites), I re-pinned it and actually got up right that minute and made my own.

It’s easy peasy, even still I made a few adjustments of my own, out of preference and necessity.

1 c. of water (I use 1/2 water and 1/2 milk – I like my oatmeal creamy)
1/2 c. oatmeal (minute oats – the quick cook kind)
1 TBS butter (real stuff.. mmm good)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced*
brown sugar – your preference

Put liquid and butter on stove and bring to light boil. Add Oats, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, turn heat down to simmer – and stir for 2-3 minutes. Top with brown sugar, milk/cream and more butter if you want.

* I was trying to be quick and I diced my apples. I started out slicing thinly and once cooked, I really liked those, but was running out of time (I’d already put my liquid on to boil) so I diced the rest quickly. I didn’t care for the tartness of diced apples (I used granny smith), but the thin slices were perfect. Next time I’ll slice the apple thinly, like I do for Apple Crisp.

I made it for a mid-afternoon meal, on a chilly winter day.. it was perfect.




Oil Cleansing Method – OCM

The Oil Cleansing Method of facial wash, is a healthy and natural alternative to washing with soaps or facial cleansers.


There is already a lot of information out there on this method of washing your face, so maybe you’ve already read about and are just looking for more support.  I like to read several articles on something before I try it, because everyone has their own reasons, their own method and process.

This year, 2012, brings with it my 42nd birthday.  And while I hit my 40’s happy, I can say I’ve never been happy with my skin.  I’ve always battled breakout and redness.  I’m now noticing my skin is getting thin, and fine lines.  I’ve used my own handmade soap on my skin for years, but I think it’s time to change my routine for my face.  Here’s where OCM comes in to play.

This method calls for simple ingredients which you should be able to easily find at your grocery or drug store.

  • Olive Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Essential Oil

Olive Oil, it’s good for all skin types, but don’t feel limited to this one oil.  There are plenty of other oils that are easy to get, but will help target problems, like dry or oily skin.

Castor Oil – this helps clean and dissolve dirty oils on your skin – but can be drying so you’ll want to use more or less, depending on your skin type ( oily skin = use up to 30%, dry skin = use 10% or less).

Essential Oil – this isn’t necessary, but I had Lavender oil and Patchouli oil on hand, so I made two small bottles 1 of each eo.

Bottle it up: I had plastic bottles from my days of lotion making, but any jar or small container with a lid will work.

  • 3/4 Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Castor Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon EO

How to Wash your face with Oils:  You need a nice washcloth and hot water (running, so it’s clean).  I wet my face out of habit, then pour the mixed oils in my palm to equal the size of a quarter or so (more or less, no big deal).  Rub the oils together between your hands to warm the oils, then rub on your face.

Pay attention to any problem areas, rubbing and rubbing.

Side note:  This is a great time to get in a pep talk to your body.  While I’ve always sort of done this, I had it put into words when my sister came home from France recently.  On her long trip on the plane, she did some knitting, but most inspirational to me is her writing in her journal – she wrote to her body, telling it she was sorry for all the things she done wrong, and what she plans to do better.  So, get in a chat with your face.. you’ve likely put some nasty stuff on your face over the years.


Once this is done, turn your hot water back on and get your cloth wet.  First thing I did was lay the cloth against my face and let the hot moisture open my pores.  Then I rinsed the cloth again and gently rubbed away the oils – and I visualized wiping away the dirty oils.

Rinse a few times with water as hot as you can stand it (this helps break up the dirties and wipe them away), until you feel you’ve gotten most of the oils off your skin.  Pat dry, gently.  You may or may not need extra moisturizer.  Today, I chose not to use any – I’m mostly curious how my skin will respond to the oils only.  It’s winter, as I write this, so my feelings on this may change depending on the weather.

One down side to this method is your skin might go into a panic the first few weeks, much like it does when you stop using store-bought shampoo.  It’s ok.  Give it a couple of weeks to get use to this new gentle method.. but in the meantime, you may be faced with more breakouts than usual – they should clear up after a few weeks.   No fun, I know, but all things good usually come with a little discomfort to start out.

How the Oil Cleansing Method works:  Well, others have explained it sooo well (Crunchy Betty and Simple Mom), that I don’t think I could do better, but essentially, Oils clean oils.. the Oils in this mixture, are warmed on your skin and cleanse away the dirty oils, leaving soft clean skin behind.   Simple Mom does a good job explaining the hows and whys it works, while Crunchy Betty gives a list of oils to use, ratios and some why’s as well.

How to Make Powdered Laundry Soap – homemade

You may have seen my post about making Liquid Laundry Soap. Almost two years later, I am finally getting around to adding my Powdered Laundry Soap Tutorial. (About time!)

Honestly, I prefer this powdered recipe over the liquid one.. either way, they both save money.





Ingredients to gather:
Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer)
Borax (20 Mule Team Laundry Booster)
Fels Naptha (stain pre-treatment bar)

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the ingredients at your local grocery. If you can’t find something, you can always order it online.

Grate about 2 cups of the Fels Naptha.

One cup each of the Laundry Booster and Washing Soda.
borax ingredient for powdered laundry soap

washing soda for powdered laundry soap

We had some clumps, so we took a fork and broke up any clumps (tiny ones we didn’t worry about).

Add in the Fels Naptha (if you haven’t already). Mix together well.

I divided the recipe into 2 smaller containers with lids.. with lids on tightly, I handed over to my helpers, who shook the containers until all ingredients were well mixed.
mix all ingredients well - shake shake shake

I did not add any essential oils or fragrance to this recipe. If I wanted a fragrance added, I’d put around 15 to 20 drops in with the Fel Naptha and coat it well, then spread on a lined cookie sheet to dry over night. Then add that the rest of the mixture and mix well.

To use: 1 to 2 Tablespoon(s) per load.




Bean and Rice Salad

One of my favorite dishes is simple and cheap… black beans and rice salad.  Rice and beans are a staple I keep on hand, and we almost always have cheese and sour cream.. so when I get in the mood for this, it’s not very costly (just pick up a tomato and avocado).  This isn’t one my kids are fond of though.  Usually just me & Em.


Ingredients – and layer in bowl in this order:

Shredded Lettuce
Cooked Rice (I like it when it’s still warm off the stove)
Black Beans (I use canned and drain/rinse)
Salsa or Diced Tomatoes
Sour Cream
Mashed Avocado
Top with Shredded Cheese (your choice)

For seasonings, I just use salt (or the No-Salt Salt, since I need to watch my sodium because of my crohn’s disease and presdnisone issues). I also like a seasoning called Nature’s Seasons..

Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

The past few times I’ve picked up the box of large shells in the pasta isle at the grocery, I couldn’t find the recipe I liked to use. Going through all my recipes, I realize I’ve had it all along posted on my other site. So I’m condensing and moving this recipe here to MommaMuse. This is my favorite Cheese stuffed shells recipe.


While this may seem like a time consuming meal to prepare (for some reason it always does to me), it really isn’t bad at all.

Periodically, I’ll buy ground beef in bulk. I’ll brown and drain it all, then separate it into baggies marked with the date made. Either freeze or plan to use in the next couple of days. Doing this makes this recipe run much smoother during preparations… while the pasta shells are cooking on the stove, I prepare the meat and cheese stuffing.. it takes me almost as long to make the stuffing mix, while cleaning up after myself as it does for the shells to cook.
The cheese stuffing
1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (I actually use tomato sauce usually)
1 lb browned ground beef, drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheese (mixed or mozzarella)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbs parsley (I used dried, but fresh would be best)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta shells as package directs.

While pasta is cooking, add together all ingredients EXCEPT the spaghetti sauce and a little extra shredded cheese to use for a topper.

In a large casserole dish, spread some of your pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Once the pasta shells are done cooking, I drain and rinse under cold water so handling the shells is easy to do – not hot.
Ready to Bake - Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Using a large spoon, scoop the cheese and meet mixture into each shell, then placing it into the casserole dish.

Pour more sauce on top of the stuffed shells and place in over for about 45 minutes. In the last 10 minutes or so, top with the remaining shredded cheese. Once melted, remove from oven and enjoy!
Baked Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
Serve with salad and bread.

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