I’ve been feeling uninspired lately.

It’s been over a month since I posted anything. I’ve had ideas for reviews of both books and healthy food, I just haven’t had the motivation. I need to get back on track.

Here are some highlights from life in the past month +:

  1. Swimming – Mike and I have started going to the pool at our local recreation center on Saturday mornings. It has been wonderful for our joints. We didn’t go last week when I had the flu. This week we went to a comic book show instead. Next week we plan to go to North Port Aquatic Center to check out their pool and lazy river. Can’t wait.
  2. The Winners by Frederik Backman – I had the pleasure to read the upcoming third book in the Beartown series. I am a a big fan of Mr. Backman. His books are wonderful. A review of the book is in the works and will be posted closer to the expected publishing date of September 27, 2022.
  3. Cozy mysteries – I’m on a cozy mystery reading kick. I love to go on Amazon and find the first book in a cozy mystery series to see if I want to read the whole series.
  4. Crafts – I haven’t been crafting as much. I’ve been craft brainstorming but haven’t done much more. I’m starting to feel a little inspiration to get ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas crafts. Stay tuned, there may be a how-to video or two in the works.
  5. Trying to stay cool – I’ve not been successful. It is has been pretty freakin’ hot since what feels like forever. Can’t wait for “cool” weather.

So, what have you been up to this Summer?

Thanks for reading.

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens

I have been a fan of Chevy Stevens’ psychological thrillers ever since I read That Night. She has a way of keeping you guessing who did it right up until the end. Dark Roads has the added distinction of being based on a true and tragic mystery, The Highway of Tears. Since the 1970s, a stretch of isolated highway in British Columbia has been rife with missing and murdered women. Most of these women have been indigenous people also known as First Nations. The author chose to highlight the Highway of Tears to bring attention to these tragedies. For more information on the 725 km/467 mile stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, read Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid or visit https://highwayoftears.org.

After the death of her father, 17-year-old Hailey goes to live with her Aunt and her cruel, controlling Uncle, Vaughn. While trying to process the loss of her father, Hailey also has to deal with Vaughn controlling who she sees, where she goes, and even if she can get a job. He says it is to keep her safe from the kidnappers/murderers who have been victimizing young girls/women along desolate Highway 16. When Hailey discovers information implicating her uncle in some of the nefarious happenings in town, she is in fear for her life and decides to disappear into the wilderness. With the help of her friends Johnny and Amber, she gathers supplies and prepares to flee. When she does it is assumed to be the latest victim of the Highway of Tears but Hailey is living in a cabin deep in the woods with a stray dog she calls Wolf.

When Amber is murdered in the same manner as many other women along Highway 16, her sister Beth comes to town to try and figure out what happened. Her reliance on alcohol and drugs to deal with Amber’s death puts her in danger from bad cops and predators alike.

This edge-of-your-seat conclusion is very effective and when the actual killer is revealed I was surprised.

Another great thriller by this author.

Thanks for reading.

28 Disastrous Dates by Poppy Mortimer

When I think back on those magical dating years, I either get nostalgic or horrified, depending on the dating scenario I am remembering. Luckily, my dating life was nothing like Poppy Mortimer’s. The 28 dating stories she has written about range from laugh-out-loud funny to down-right scary.

28 Disastrous Dates made me laugh and feel so happy I am not dating any longer. If you want a good laugh, read the book. Just a warning, even though the author doesn’t swear and has kept the stories rather tame, some of the situations are for mature audiences only.

Have a laugh. Reminisce about dating. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading.

The author and her publisher provided me with a copy of the book through Book Sirens in exchange for my honest opinion.

Update: slow and steady

If you read my Jenny Craig food reviews, you know I’ve been on a weight loss journey. The food was good and I did lose weight. I plateaued about a month and a half ago.

Even though I am not eating Jenny Craig meals, I have been eating very similar to those meals. I use the Lose It! app to track my food, water, exercise and weight. I was losing and gaining the same pound and a half for about three week and decided to change some things up. I added a healthy afternoon snack and some simple movements at my desk. I also made myself get up and walk for 15 minutes at work. I guess that was what I needed because the scale moved DOWN this week and it’s officially 16.8 pounds gone.

What are your plateau busters? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

Sapphire Beach Mysteries – Angela K. Ryan

I love reading books set in fictional towns near where I live. Angela K. Ryan’s Sapphire Beach mysteries are just that. Cozy mysteries set in Southwest Florida. I have been to many of the towns and cities mentioned in the books, which makes them even more interesting. I just finished the last book in the series and I am sad that it is over. There is a “spin-off” – the Seaside Ice Cream Shop Mysteries – which continues the story of Anna, the cousin of the main character in the Sapphire Beach Cozy Mysteries.

The main character is Connie. Other regular characters in the series are: Grace – Aunt Concetta’s best friend and employee at Connie’s jewelry store, Stephanie – Grace’s daughter, Elyse – the local realtor, Josh – Elyse’s husband and Sapphire Beach police officer, Zach – Josh’s friend, police officer, and eventually Connie’s love interest, Gertrude – a friend of Aunt Concetta’s and great aunt to Elyse, Abby – employee at Connie’s jewelry store, Ruby – a fellow Sapphire Beach shop owner, Gallagher – the owner of the restaurant across from Connie’s store… and more.

1. Condos and Corpses – Connie must find out who killed a man in Grace’s condo

2. Surf, Sand, and Skeletons – Connie gets to the bottom of what happened to the previous owner of her shop

3. Piers, Pliers, and Problems – A student in her first jewelry class is murdered with Connie’s pliers and she must figure out who did it.

4. Candy Canes and Cadavers – During her family’s visit to Sapphire Beach, she must find out who murdered a local theater actor.

5. Snowbirds and Suspects – When her friend, Ruby’s niece is accused of murder, she asks Connie to help clear her name.

6. Bridesmaids and Bodies – When the best man of one of her jewelry clients is murdered, Connie needs to find the killer so the wedding can go on.

7. Hurricanes and Homicides – While hunkered down during a hurricane, Connie finds the body of a fellow condo owner and must find the murderer among those sheltering in place.

8. Kayaks and Killers – When a kayak floats near shore with a body in it, Connie and friends investigate.

9. Friends, Foes, and Felonies – Connie’s former boss and mentor, Sam, is visiting for two weeks. When the head of a local non-profit is murdered, Connie and Sam investigate.

10. Passion and Poison – When a former tennis pro is murdered at Connie’s friend, Gallagher’s restaurant, he turns to Connie to help solve the murder.

11. Daffodils and Death – Connie’s visit to the botanical garden with her mother and sister turns into a murder investigation.

12. Marriage and Mischief – Connie and Zack are getting ready for their wedding. As friends and family gather, the wedding officiant, Fr. Paul goes missing. Will Connie be able to solve his disappearance in time to prevent a tragedy and a ruined wedding?

Give these light and refreshing mysteries a try.

Thanks for reading.

Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch


This was my second Blake Crouch book. I read The Pines several years ago and thought it was a very well-written book. While I enjoy Mr. Crouch’s writing, I hadn’t read any of his other books until Upgrade caught my eye. I have never been a big Sci-Fi reader. I’ve dabbled in it (The Martian, The Pines, and Project Hail Mary) but it is not a genre I seek out. If Mr. Crouch continues writing Sci-Fi that draws me in, I may have to rethink that.


Upgrade tackles the science of genetic engineering. Set in the future, shortly after a miscalculated experiment caused millions to starve, the Gene Protection Agency (GPA) is a CIA-like entity that keeps track of and regulates scientists involved in the study of genes. Logan Ramsay, son of the scientist that caused the “great starvation” is a GPA agent hunting down rogue scientists.


When Logan investigates the location of a suspected gene editing operation that a suspect provided him, his life is changed forever. An explosion of a device causes shrapnel to puncture his hazmat suit and he becomes infected with a virus dispersed by the explosive device.
Once he recovers from his injuries and the virus which caused a high fever and crazy nightmares, Logan believes he is fine, until his body begins to change. He has better concentration, night vision, memory, increased muscle mass, and higher pain tolerance. He basically becomes superhuman. Now, Logan must find out who did this to him and why.


An action-packed pursuit begins, as Logan finds out who he can and can’t trust. His superhuman abilities as well as some of the characters he encounters make for a fast-paced, action-filled, sci-fi mystery.
Make sure you read the epilogue!


The book is scheduled to be released on July 12, 2022. You can pre-order it at your local independent bookstore, like Copperfish Books, at Amazon or your favorite bookstore.


Thanks for reading!

I was provided with an advance reader copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Good Left Undone – Adriana Trigiani

The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani was published just as I was mentally preparing myself for the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing.

My mother and I used to love talking about Adriana’s books.  As soon as we heard that one was coming out, we preordered it so we could get it on pub day.  When the book was out, we would read it and discuss it.  This was the first time I was not able to share the experience with my mother.  Though, I have to admit, I did “talk” to her about it in my head.

The Good Left Undone tells the story of Domenica Cabrielli and her family from 1920 through the present.  The story is told in flashbacks as Matelda Roffo is in the end stage of her life. 

Domenica is a headstrong young girl growing up in Viareggio, a city on the Tuscan Coast.  Her best friend Silvio is known in town as “il Bastardo” because he was born out of wedlock.  Even though it was not his fault, the townspeople treated him horribly.  When Silvio is injured by the town bully, Domenica discovers her vocation, nursing.  Due to the incident, Silvio’s mother decides that it is time to leave Viareggio and start a new life elsewhere.  On his last evening in Viareggio, Silvio finally shows his love for Domenica with a kiss.

Domenica’s work as a nurse brings her to Scotland, where she meets a sea captain and falls in love.

As World War II begins, the Italian immigrants face great distrust in their adopted country due to Mussolini’s actions. They are rounded up and sent away. Dominica’s sea captain husband is assigned to work on a ship on which the Italians are transported. What happens on this ship is based on the true story of the SS Arandora Star. Look it up. I had never heard of it.

This family story is full of happiness and tragedy and my Mom would have loved it.

I hope you will give it a try.

You can find the book at your local library, independent bookseller or at Amazon – The Good Left Undone.

Thanks for reading.

One year

It’s been one year. On the daily, I still think “I have to call Mom and tell her…” and then suffer through the gut punch that of remembering you are gone.


I still think about how we used to talk for hours about books. It hit me hard this week because one of our shared favorite authors, Adriana Trigiani, had a new book come out. Normally, you and I would have been doing a countdown to publication day. I did stop, look up, and say “don’t forget to preorder The Good Left Undone so we can start reading it together” last week. In the past I would have devoured the book so we could talk about it. To be honest, I haven’t even started reading it. I just can’t bring myself to start yet. I promise to start reading it next week. I can’t thank you enough for instilling a love of reading in me.

The year of firsts without you is over. First holidays without you. First time I was sick (yep, Covid) without calling you for advice. First Easter without a lamb cake. First Mother’s day without you. I think you get the picture.
I know we all miss you and love you, Mom.

A healthy update

I have finished all of my Jenny Craig meals. I lost a total of 11.9 pounds in the four weeks that I ate those meals. All-in-all it was a good experience as I now have a good idea on what works for me.

I am going to continue to utilize the information I gathered in the past few weeks to continue on my healthy eating journey. Even after hitting a plateau, I used these techniques and managed to hit a 16.8 pound loss. I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned and will be using in the future:

1. Measure! It is amazing how much food we mindlessly eat thinking that we are staying within the recommended serving size. Get yourself a good set of measuring cups and spoons and keep them readily available. When in doubt, weigh it. You can get a nice kitchen scale at a reasonable price if you look for one. I like the Escali Primo Digital Scale , which was picked by Wirecutter as the best digital kitchen scale. There are also some fancy ones that will give you your macros as you measure and add your ingredients. I have been using the Greater Goods Nutrition Scale lately.

2. Figure out what your BMR is. Your Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories your body needs to accomplish its most basic life-sustaining functions. By figuring out this number you can determine how many calories you should eat to maintain, gain, or lose weight. You can use this BMR Calculator. Enter your age, gender, height and weight and it will calculate your BMR. A 5 foot 10 inch, 30 year-old female that weighs 200 pounds has a BMR of 1,707 Calories/day. If you add in the normal activity level, you will find out how many calories she can eat in a day to maintain her weight. Once you know your number, you can use it to adjust how many calories you eat and how many calories you need to burn to maintain, gain or lose one pound a week. If you create a deficit of 500 calories a day for a week you will lose 1 pound a week. This is the Calories In, Calories Out (CICO) way to control your weight.

3. Read the label. If you are trying to start a healthy lifestyle, you should know what you are putting in your body. First, look at the ingredient list. Can you pronounce every ingredient? Does anything sound like it came from a lab? Look for actual FOOD ingredients. Second thing I look at on the label, Sodium. You are supposed to consume less than 2300 mg of Sodium a day, per the FDA. If you eat 3 meals a day, keep the Sodium under 800 per meal. I try to keep mine between 500 and 600 mg per meal. To get more information on using the Nutrition Facts Labels, go to the FDA website.

4. Pay attention to your macronutrients. Carbs. Protein. Fat. What percentage of your calorie intake should be carbs, protein, and fat. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guideline for Americans recommends that carbohydrates comprise 45–65% of calories, fat 25–35% of calories, and protein 10–30% of calories. Are you sodium sensitive? Make sure to track those amounts as well.

5. Whole food is ideal, but there are prepared food you can fall back on. I love to cook. I enjoy finding and trying new recipes. I do not enjoy prepping ingredients, nor do I enjoy standing at the stove cooking after work. Prepared food comes to the rescue. Yes, you can find prepared foods that will fit into your eating plan. You just need to visit #3 above and read the label.

6. Move. If you have a desk job, make sure you get up and move around during the day.

7. Hydrate. With all the healthy food you are eating now, you will want to make sure you are staying hydrated. Remember- water has zero calories!

Well, that’s all of my tips and tricks for now. Im learning more and more about losing weight and getting healthy every day. What are your favorite tips and tricks for losing weight and getting healthy? I’d love to hear from all of you.

Thanks for reading.

Jenny Craig breakfast and lunch update

Good afternoon everyone! I hope that you are well.

I’ve been distracted by other things (the news, the weather…) and have not given any updates on my weight loss using Jenny Craig breakfasts and lunches. I haven’t stuck to the program as well this past week but I can proudly say that I’m down 11.5 pounds.

Some comments on the Jenny Craig meals I’ve had recently:

French Toast – It looked like one piece of French toast cut into 3 strips. It smelled so good and tasted even better. Thank goodness it was a portioned meal. I could have eaten a whole loaf of bread cooked that way.

Tortellini with Chicken – The creamy sauce and the tortellini were delicious. The chicken “pieces” were mostly grizzle. I ate around them. I wouldn’t eat this one again.

Pepperoni pizza – I’ve been surprised by how good these little pizzas are and the fact that they are filling. I will miss these once I my stash runs out.

Cheese omelette and chicken sausage – Really delicious and filling. The sausage looked a little disgusting but smelled and tasted fantastic.

I am starting to put together my own food plan based on some of the Jenny Craig foods that I’ve had. I am using the Lose It app to make a plan using calories in and calories out. The plan gives me a set amount of calories I can consume in a day and breaks it up into meals and snacks. For example, an 1900 calorie day would break down to 350 calorie breakfast, 125 calorie morning snack, 450 calorie lunch, 125 calorie afternoon snack, 700 calorie dinner, and a 150 calorie evening snack. Those are guidelines to help me plan. Here is my sample menu:

Breakfast (350 calorie budget): coffee 12 oz. – 4 cal, fat free half and half 4 Tbsp – 40 cal, 2 eggs cooked with Pam – 140 cal, Vanilla non-fat greek yogurt 3/4 cup – 120 cal, blueberries 1/2 cup – 42 cal. Breakfast total= 346 calories

Morning snack (125 calorie budget): Grapes 1 cup – 100 calories, water. Morning snack total = 100 calories

Lunch (450 calorie budget): Teriyaki chicken lettuce wrap (www.simplyrecipes.com) – 427 cal, Asian caramelized pineapple 1/2 cup (www.myrecipes.com) – 61 cal. Lunch total = 488 calories

Afternoon snack (125 calorie budget): Cranberry Almond Whenever Bar – 180 calories, water. Afternoon snack total = 180 calories

Dinner (700 calorie budget): Chicken with garlicky green beans and new potatoes – 393 cal, Klondike Bar Health English Toffee – 230 cal. Dinner total = 623 calories

Evening snack (150 calorie budget): 5 cups microwave movie theater popcorn – 150 cal, flavored seltzer – 0 cal. Evening snack total = 160 calories

Total calories for the day = 1897

I think I can do that, don’t you?

Besides eating healthier, I’ve also started going back to the gym. I don’t always enjoy going, but I always feel good after. I mostly want to increase my stamina by walking on the treadmill.

Here’s to eating healthier and moving more!

Thanks for reading!