Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nineveh 90

I'm joining 9,000+ people in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima by participating in Nineveh 90. It began February 13 with a 54-day rosary novena. That is followed by a brief weekend rest, then the 33-day preparation for consecration to Mary of St. Louis de Montfort. Consecration day is May 13th, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the first apparition.

My personal program is not exactly as outlined at the N90 website. I've made modifications based on my circumstances. I do have an awesome all-mom accountability squad which meets once a week in person. That is a blessing.

My main resources for this are:

The Visits to the Blessed Sacrament book is not part of N90, but I find it helpful to use to complete a daily "holy hour," which for me is more like ten minutes. The N90 website has more resources and inspirational articles and videos.

Join us?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: Trick Question


Trick Question is the third installment in the tales of hard-boiled New Orleans lawyer Tubby Dubonnet. Author Tony Dunbar weaves a tale that manages to be gritty, funny and full of NoLa food and culture.

Tubby is called in at the last minute as co-counsel for the defense in a capital murder trial. With a week to cobble together a defense, he enlists the help of his private-eye-on-retainer, euphemistically named Flowers, and his secretary Cherrylynn. The case is entirely circumstantial and Tubby pins his hopes, and the defendant's life, on cultivating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors by offering  a selection of other people with potential motives to kill.

Sub-plots abound here. That, and the extra time spent on characterization and backstories, not to mention several loose ends untied at the end, hallmark this firmly as a serial tale. Dunbar evokes characters and places, and especially food, with skill. Don't dive into this read on an empty stomach. You've been warned. Although marketed as hard-boiled, Tubby hardly brings us out of the cozy genre. Some brief sexually descriptive scenes are here, but they have a purpose in developing one of the sub-plots.

This counts as a book for the Mount TBR 2017 reading challenge, as I downloaded this book in 2016.

Fine Print: I received an ebook version of this book as a free book from Amazon which I hunted down myself. I made no promises regarding reading or reviewing this book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: The Lake House Secret


The Lake House Secret by Debra Burroughs is the first book in the Jenessa Jones Mystery series. It is set in a small town in Northern California and features a young protagonist who is an investigative reporter. Burroughs has experience as a romance writer, and her skill in that genre was evident throughout this book. It did manage to stay "cozy" with nothing explicit, just heavy on the romance, which I don't mind. The story was a bit slow to develop as we learned much about the main character, her family and her past. The murder in this book was an old one, only just discovered. This was more of a romantic suspense than a whodunnit, with the solution to the crime coming from a surprising source. Living in a small-sized city myself, many things about the setting, the interweaving of the lives of the main characters, and the way of life rang true. It might seem to be a stretch that Jenessa's father's biggest client owned most of the town, including the newspaper she works for, and that she had once dated his son. Since moving myself to a rust-belt, one-industry town on the Great Lakes my eyes have been opened to just how close-knot and interrelated a small town can be.

All in all this was an enjoyable light read. It wasn't a great puzzle or great literature, but a satisfying diversion.

This counts as a book for the Mount TBR 2017 reading challenge, as I downloaded this book in 2016.

Fine Print: I received an ebook version of this book as a free book from Amazon which I hunted down myself. I made no promises regarding reading or reviewing this book.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Daybook 2017.01.02

Outside my window...gloomy muddy  melty snow.

I am thinking...about a nap. That would be bad.

I am thankful...for all of the blessings received in 2016 and for each new day of life!

I am wearing...floral skirt, black tank, sweater, slippers.

I am creating...does updated this blog count?

I am declutter my room today and tomorrow.

I am wondering...if I will ever be organized.

I am reading...The Young Widow

I am listening Glory Days on iTunes. The Boss.

I am watching...Grantchester Season 2

I am hoping...for a quiet rest of the week.

I am learning...patience.

Around the sugar overload. And I gave up sugar again starting today.

In the kitchen...Nachos with guacamole before we go to karate.

I am pondering...writing. Story lines. Romance. Mystery. Still.

A quote..."My cake is dough." - Gremio, The Taming of the Shrew, Act V, Scene I.

A favorite spiffy car. Retro-wagon, really. Still

I am planning...the rest of the week while I wait for my 2017 planner.

A photo...

Linking up with The Simple Woman

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reading Challenge: Mount TBR 2017

Ha! I need this challenge. My To Be Read pile is daunting. So every time I knock off a book or ebook which I already own I'll post about it. I am aiming for twelve books off my TBR pile, which equates to Pike's Peak at the Mount TRB Challenge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Free Planner Printable: Day Map Time Blocking / Bullet Journal Hybrid

In this lull between Christmas and the New Year my thoughts always turn to planners. For 2016, I created my own daily planner based around a page-per-day template I first started tinkering with in 2014. While I wasn't perfect at using it each day, I did always return to it. For 2017 I made only minor tweaks to the day layout. I call it a Day Map. It is a cross between time blocking and bullet journaling. I use it to -- wait for it -- map out my day. Hence the catchy name.

I am ready to share my creation with you all via a free pdf file of a single blank undated page. You may print it and use it at will. Please do not use it in anything you sell. You are free to use my ideas, such as they are, to build your own perfect day planner. I have combed hundreds of layouts and read dozens of blog posts over the years. No other planner on earth is exactly right for me. I have tried to make do with fancy and expensive planners but they never feel right. I have been tinkering with my own planner design since at least 2008. This finally feels right.

In the image below you can see my layout in action. At the top I write in the date, circle the day of the week and note the weather forecast. Then I have a line for Notable Today. That's where significant things like birthdays, holidays and other important stuff goes. 

The middle section is an 18-hour grid with marks for 15-minute intervals. Yes, I do plan my days to the quarter hour. I don't execute my plan with that much exactness, but I have found that showing myself that I have time to complete my tasks makes me less susceptible to overload paralysis. I use this technique at work as well, and it has made a great difference in my productivity and goal-reaching. I hope to be more intentional with this in 2017.
A page from Holy Thursday 2016
Following that, on the left, I list my menu plan for the day. I do my planning on a weekly grid. This section forces me to actually refer to that plan and execute it. There is nothing worse than making a meal plan that is ignored, other than not having a plan at all.

To the right of the food stuff, there is the section I call Endeavors. This I use like a bullet journal. The one tweak I made here for 2017 was to add boxes so I don't have to draw them, and to add a line at the top of the box for what housekeeping zone I am supposed to be on.

I have found that investing some time each evening or morning with the planner pays dividends in increasing my actual stuff done. For most of 2016, as you can see above, I set aside an hour with my planner each morning. That also included working my budget and actual finances, which are in another section of my planner. Due to a schedule shift I now work earlier in the day so I have begun to work in planner time in the evening for the following day. As with any new habit, it has been a challenge to make the shift, but I'm getting used to it.

When I sit down with my planner, I first date the page then check the weather forecast on my iPhone. The weather has such an impact on decisions like wardrobe, activities, travel safety. I am much more on top of things since I started doing this weather check. Next I open my Google calendar. I have used Google exclusively to manage all of my appointments for at least 10 years. I am lost without it. On my iPhone, it is always there when I am at the doctor or in a meeting and scheduling a follow-up. I have a calendar for me, one for the boys (so their events show up in a different color) and one for annual recurring things like birthdays, death anniversaries, holy days, etc. I also sub to my husband's calendar although I never edit it. I note appointments for myself and the boys first, then schedule commuting time around those. After those hard commitments are given their space, I turn to my routines. I have seven daily recurring routines that are the next priority to get on paper. That sounds like a lot, but three of them are prayer and the others are personal and homemaking tasks: Morning, Afternoon, Kitchen and Bedtime, plus Lauds, Vespers and Compline. (in the sample above I skip Afternoon and Vespers, maybe because we were going to evening Mass). Next is time with Boy12 for lessons. Then anything else I need to get done, especially anything I've written under Endeavors. It would be perfectly fine to leave open spaces, but I prefer to give all of my time a task.

My layout is very plain, black on white. I really dislike planners with color. They are jarring to me. I do use color, as you can see. I color-code my appointments and tasks by the seven areas of responsibility I have in life. I came up with these years ago, as a riff on something I read in a long-forgotten blog post. I have used this color system for at least eight years. My areas are:

  1. Faith
  2. Home
  3. Boys
  4. Husband's home business
  5. My outside employment
  6. Freelancing
  7. Self
I could not imagine not using color. It is that important to me and to the way I process and organize information. I have a color code system for my responsibilities at my main outside job. I used to color code subjects when I did lesson plans for the boys, but I am much more relaxed in homeschooling than I used to be. So having a plain minimal design for my planner gives me the freedom I need to use color the way I need to and love.

Without further adieu, here it is for your enjoyment:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Daybook 2016.08.03

Outside my is hot and sunny. My front garden needs weeding. Why is it that during a drought only the weeds grow?

I am thinking...about Shakespeare.

I am thankful...that my car is getting a new set of sneakers today!

I am housecleaning ratty old clothes, again. It's Wednesday after all.

I am creating...hmmmm...afraid I haven't been doing much to create anything this week.

I am a meeting tonight. I do that a lot.

I am wondering...if I will ever be organized.

I am reading...
Rafferty and Llewellyn

I am listening Sultans Of Swing on iTunes. One of my very favorite songs of all time.

I am watching...Downton Abbey Season 6 and Doctor Who Season 4. Still. Just watched the Peter Jackson King Kong. I thought the beginning and end were very good. The middle could have been an hour shorter. I think we watched the extended version, though.

I am hoping...that I can get through the hectic schedule this August. September 1 is looking good.

I am politics.

Around the house...dishwasher died, waiting on a new one. The plumbing needs work first.

In the kitchen...not much today. Boy11 and I are eating out tonight between karate and my meeting. The other two are on their own.

I am pondering...writing. Story lines. Romance. Mystery.

A quote..."My cake is dough." - Gremio, The Taming of the Shrew, Act V, Scene I.

A favorite spiffy car. Retro-wagon, really.

I am planning...Boy18's graduation and going away party.

A photo...

Sometimes my desks get out of control

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