Wishes for peace

For Barcelona and for Charlottesville and all places where violence lives, I hope against all hope that one day peace will reach all of us and we can find support in our similarities instead of fighting over our differences.

As always, I find myself horrified and saddened by the violence in our world. It’s hard for me to put into words my wishes for peace and harmony. I wish so badly that the beauty that I see in people could shine through. I think it can only appear through peace and understanding.

Others say it so much better.

Where I watch a bunch of documentaries

Thanks to a new TV system-cable-thingy that we got, I now have access to a ton of documentaries. Long story short, I just watched these four.

First, a little on each one:

What the Health is a documentary by Kip Andersen where he finds out just why people are so sick and if it has to do with the food they eat. He also unearths the relationship between some of the US’s biggest health organizations and the food industry giants.
Cowspiracy is another documentary by the same person, Kip Andersen. Here he explains the effects that cattle have on the environment.
I think most people have heard of Supersize Me. I’m one of the few people that hadn’t actually seen it. It’s been out since 2004 and follows Morgan Spurlock’s experiment where he eats only McDonald’s food for a month.

Forks over Knives is a look at changing food rather than going under the knife in an attempt to eliminate or control some of the worst diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Now, a disclaimer. I’m not a doctor or even a scientist and I certainly have no interest in promoting any type of eating plan for anyone. This is just my two cents on these documentaries.

Pros:

The documentaries were informative. I like that about documentaries in general and I love that there is no violence or terrifying parts that make me shudder (like in some movies).

Certainly, there were many voices towards eating plant-based diets and a lot of those were doctors. Some had been adamantly pro-animal meat before and had only changed sides after seeing very clear statistics to the contrary.

The documentaries, in the most part, didn’t seem biased–to my untrained eye. The sight of Morgan Spurlock eating those McDonald burgers was horrifying. I could see him getting sicker and sicker with each day that passed.

I loved how easy-going the advocates for plant-based food were. They didn’t seem to be all set on convincing the watcher that this was the way to go. They simply said it worked for them and that was it. I like that they weren’t pushy.

They had certainly done their research. I have read ‘The China Study’ and it is certainly no easy task to do a research project on an entire country. That’s incredible and we should certainly take a look at the results.

Cons:

There was a point in one of the documentaries where they said to not trust the advice of your doctor because they don’t learn anything about nutrition in medical school and I didn’t like that. I am skeptic when I hear someone tell me not to trust a specialist.

I watched and watched the films completely convinced on their message. Then I was about to start this post and I saw there’s more documentaries on food, with different messages. Some are against sugar, some for local food, some for raw diets and I started to wonder how to make sense of all of them and not end up eating air.

Even though I was pretty convinced that there was a monetary gain for some companies in selling animal-products, I still can’t believe that the entire food industry is in cahoots and trying to kill people–and that was implied in some of the documentaries.

Though they did show some cancer patients who are now cancer-free after going vegan, I can’t believe that’s the cure for cancer. I hope that’s not what the movie implied because that would almost ridicule the struggle people with cancer go through and that’s just horrible.

Conclusions:

I can’t and never will tell anyone what to eat or what to do. It’s just simply not my place.

I can tell you that watching the documentaries was enjoyable because I enjoy learning new things and documentaries are a fun way of doing that.

I can tell you that I’m going to try and eat move vegetables and try to keep my hubby doing the same thing. I really think it’s better for us and our vegan experiment certainly showed results on his cholesterol level. Plus, it’s really the only way I know how to cook.

Besides that, I can’t say that watching these changed my mind or radically opened my eyes. I do believe that what we eat is important but, at the end of the day, we’re all doing the best we can to live our lives as well as we can. Maybe an ice-cream isn’t great for our intestine but it might do wonders for our soul.

 

My pros and cons of a plant-based diet

Almost 6 months into the plant-based diet, I have put together a little list of my pros and cons. I had some questions going in, like would it be more expensive? Would I have trouble adjusting? Can I still eat out? So, here’s what I found out, good and bad.

(credit:Cuisinicity)

The Good Stuff:

  • It feels super healthy and good to eat this way. Every time I take a bite, I’m putting good stuff in my body and it feels like a pat on the back. Just goodness for my body over and over.

(credit:She Said Beauty)

  • I feel better. My body feels better and I know my stomach and insides feel better too. That’s a huge bonus because I used to feel slightly sick or super-full after meals. I don’t anymore.

(credit:Care2)

  • My taste buds have changed. It’s true. A silly green apple tastes like an incredible treat. I have no idea why or how but I love eating things that before were consumed only because they were good for me.

(credit:Tip Top Lifestyle)

The Bad Stuff:

  • I can’t eat out. My hubby has been hounding me trying to get me to go out to restaurants but the truth is the only things that are vegan there are salads that contain two sad little ingredients. That’s not a meal and helping him by peeling large amounts of crab legs at a buffet is not my idea of a good time. We have managed to find ethnic restaurants that do cater more towards vegans but it’s still tough.

(credit:The Family Dinner)

  • It’s more work. I used to eat whatever there was around the house not really giving what I put in my body any thought. Now, on Sunday I strategize the meals for the week and research what we’re going to eat in everything from breakfast to snacks. It’s work.

  • I do miss some things, like cheese and butter. It’s hard to have toast without butter and nothing vegan is close to melted cheese. Those things are tough to replace.

(credit:Bountiful Blessings Market – LocallyGrown.net)

Overall:

I haven’t found it more expensive to eat this way. I thought it would be, but I forgot just how expensive meat and fish can be. So, financially, this hasn’t been a struggle.

(credit:herbs and spice and other things nice)

As much as I love furry creatures, I didn’t do this for them. I did it because I thought it’d be better for my health. As it turns out, you can be a good, healthy vegan or an unhealthy one (fries and chips can be vegan friendly), so that’s not a great reason to continue.

(credit:Nichole Bernier)

So, will I continue? I go to have some blood work done this week and that will pretty much determine if I continue or not. If I find I’m deficient in some vitamins or supplements, I will change for my own health. But, right now, I’m still sticking with it.

(credit:My Raised Bed Florida Vegetable Garden)

 

Where I recommend things

1. Best. Salad. Lunch. Ever.

Not kidding here. It’s absolutely yummy. So good it tastes like it should be bad for you, or have something in there that’s not the best for you…but it’s actually really healthy to boot!

This is where I got it:

http://ohsheglows.com/2011/09/12/5-make-ahead-vegan-gluten-free-lunches-part-2/

www.ohsheglows.com is a great site for anyone interested in eating savoury meals that are also super healthy. She has vegan stuff, but it’s not limited to that and she’s written two books because her recipes are that amazing. The one I just rambled on about is from her lunch menu and she actually puts it in a pita bread but it’s so yummy, I eat it with a fork. It’s the Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad. Delish.

2. Best How-To-101 reference site for authors out there.

This is where I got it:

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/how-to-101/

I’ve talked about Chris The Story Reading Ape before. He is a never-ending source of great resources for writers of all kinds and, to boot, he’s incredibly kind. But this reference page just blew me out of the water. It’s got everything. And he keeps updating it! No dead links here.

A huge thanks to Chris for his never-ending support of all writers out there!!

Cher Quebec…

 

(credit: montreal gazette)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and survivors of the horrific attack on the mosque in Quebec city.

(credit: cbc)

(credit: cbc)

As our Prime Minister said: “We will not close our minds, we will open our hearts. We will heal together…we will not meet violence with more violence; we will meet fear and hatred with love and compassion.”

Nos prières et pensées sont avec vous.

 

 

Review: Too Good to be True

Too Good to be True is another book by Kristan Higgins. I seem to eat her books like candy and can’t stop reading them. Isn’t it lovely when you find an author that you adore? I did with Kristan Higgins and I can’t thank her enough for her books.

This one is the story of Grace and Callahan another hilarious and wonderful couple. Grace has curly, crazy hair. “Must remember to call exorcist to see if I could have the evil demons cast out of my hair, which had been known to snap combs in half and eat hairbrushes.” I simply love that sentence. What a great way to describe her hair. Grace is also a bit of a soft hearted person. She reads to the elderly, thinks her insane family is charming and will do anything for her younger sister.

This last bit is what gets her in trouble, because her younger sister is going out with non other than her ex-fiance. Grace, being who she is, she encourages the match, then goes and makes up a fake boyfriend so her sister won’t feel badly about going out with her ex. The imaginary boyfriend becomes something of a legend and Grace goes to all sorts of hilarious extremes to keep him alive and her sister from finding out.

Meanwhile, she spies a burglar trying to get into the house next door to hers and whacks him on the head with her hockey stick. The ‘burglar’ is of course, Callahan who doesn’t find her antics as funny as I did. He absolutely hates her and things don’t get better when she hits him again with a rake and her little dog bites him. I, however, was laughing out loud by this point.

One of the things I liked best about this book, and Kristan Higgins’ books in general, are her secondary characters. Though they’re always different, they’re always funny in a cute, quirky way. This book had that in spades. From the elderly, grumpy grandmother, to the artsy mother, the smaller characters were amazing and made me laugh out loud.

Finally, there was a wonderful love story. I was definitely rooting for Grace and Callahan and couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough to get to their happy ending. When it did come, it was wonderful and worthy of every sigh of delight I uttered.

I really want to recommend Kristan Higgins. I can’t believe I waited this long to find her and she’s definitely going on my automatic-buy list. If you haven’t tried her before, take it from me and don’t miss out. She’s fantastic. Too Good to be True, winner of the RITA award, is yet another of her delicious creations one I’m keeping for good.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

Review: Heartless

I adore Mary Balogh’s historical romance books. I can’t tell you exactly what it is about her writing but I can immediately tell that she’s from England (she’s actually from Wales). Her books always have a very authentic feel to them that just lifts them above other books.

Heartless is the story of Lady Anna Marlow who has devoted her life to taking care of her dying parents, first, and then her siblings until she’s almost out of marrying age. Devoted sister that she is, she’s still thinking of how to marry her younger sister when an elderly aunt takes an interest in her and tries to match her instead.

It’s though this match that Anna meets Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, our hero. After the years of hardship, stress and worry, Anna needs someone to take care of her and lift worries from her mind. However that’s not what she gets in the Duke of Harndon.

Lucas Kendrick was banished from England by his own family and, in the aftermath, was forced to find his own way in the world. He did so very successfully, but lost all innocence and became very cynical in the process. He’s reluctantly back to do his duty as heir and it’s just in that frame of mind that he marries Anna.

It’s a marriage of two people who don’t know each other at all and who, both, have had traumatic events in their past. What follows is how they manage to heal their wounds, befriend, then fall in love with each other, all while unravelling their place as the Duke and Duchess of Harndon.

I love historical romances for many reasons, the elegance of their speech, the beautiful setting, the calm rhythm of their lives and even the lack of technology. Things seemed so much simpler and honourable then. Heartless has all of those, of course, with a very authentic English touch to them all, but it’s also a beautiful love story. And that’s the best part of all.

I’m a true Mary Balogh fan and have rarely met a book of hers I didn’t like and this one is no exception. I’d recommend Heartless for the story and writing and because it’s a great book. But, to put it more simply, because I started it on Thursday morning and did nothing all day until I could turn the last page and find out what had happened. Then basked in the afterglow of a good book for quite a few hours. It’s that good.

(credit: goodreds.com)

(credit: goodreds.com)

Review: Breath of Scandal

I picked up Breath of Scandal because the back intrigued me and Sandra Brown is a reliable bet. The book tells the story of Jade, a girl who leaves a small southern town after a horrible incident and comes back to face her attackers and find her happy ending. It seemed like a great read and it was thick enough at 500 plus pages, to keep me happy for a while. I wasn’t disappointed and thought I’d share this one with you.

One of the best parts of the book is the slow introduction of the characters. The book retells most of their lives, from an impactful beginning to the present, when Jade comes back to the town. It was delicious to see them emerge, slowly and hear about their lives. It made them fully fleshed, complete persons for me and all the more impactful when they spoke and acted.

The back explains the story happened this way: “On a rainy Southern night, Jade Sperry endured a young woman’s worst nightmare at the hands of three local hell-raisers.” The details of what happened were difficult to read, though I should add that I’m particularly sensitive to violence. Thankfully, Sandra Brown treats the topic with due respect and doesn’t dismiss it or play it down. In fact, the horrible incident is crucial to understanding Jade and her personality, so I could bear the difficulty of reading it because I knew it was pivotal to the story.

And that one night isn’t the entire story. Jade leaves the town but returns and…sure enough, like the book says, ‘all hell breaks loose’.

Hearing Jade’s story, like that of the other characters was amazing. I loved seeing and understanding the choices she made and how she moved up, through life until she was a competent professional with a tough attitude towards work that ensured her success.

I also loved seeing Dillon develop slowly. We hear about his life before Jade, what he did and who he was. Like her, the past doesn’t leave him unscathed but his story explains just why he huffs and leaves a scene or why he doesn’t say much in an argument. We know where he has come from and what’s going on in his head without the author having to tell us.

Dillon and Jade’s love story unfurls slowly while she’s trying to find peace to the demons from the past and he’s trying to find peace in his life. I won’t ruin it by revealing it but I will say that it was both believable and beautiful.

The story has many threads but they’re all carefully tied neatly at the end. There are, of course, some twists and turns but there is a happy ending–and a believable one. It was an ending that justified the long journey it took the reader to get there and that was just yummy.

I would obviously recommend this book. It’s a story of triumph over tragedy from an underdog and I love that concept. But I would say that the best part is the slow, rich tapestry it weaves, telling us a story that began with horrible trauma but ends in a happy resolution. If you’re a fan of Sandra Brown or would like a lovely story to read on a summer night, this one is for you.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: To go to site, click on cover.

Review: The Perfect Hope

I was actually really looking forward to this one, mostly, because of the two main characters. Ryder and Hope have a ton of chemistry. He’s grumpy and won’t even call her by name and she’s feisty and gives him back as good as she gets. I couldn’t wait to see the sparks fly.

Ryder is the last of the Montgomery men, the guy who works things out and doesn’t say much. He’s quick to temper and faster to find a way to do something with his hands rather than talk it out. Hope, on the other hand, is elegant and polished and the innkeeper at the Boonsboro Inn. She doesn’t like his attitude and from using words to hosing him down with a hose, she lets him know it. Reading about these two exchanging grumblings had me laughing and eagerly turning the pages.

There’s something to be said for chemistry but eventually, it has to change to care and love or there isn’t any hope for the couple. The transition for Ryder and Hope went smoothly as only someone like Nora Roberts can write it. Along the way, we get to hear how the other characters from the other two books are doing and I, for one, was delighted to see old faces reappear.

The three women are fast friends, supporting each other and helping out when needed just like the three brothers are fast friends and joke and tease each other in a very realistic way. There’s also construction that was also deftly and realistically portrayed and work that ruled the lives of these characters like it does mine. It didn’t disappear, like it does in some of the sadder books of romance I’ve read. Here, lives are realistic with flaws and triumphs just like in reality. It creates a world that is believable yet appealing.

The Perfect Hope is a really good ending to a great trilogy. I’ll be honest and fess up that I read it in one sitting. It took me only three hours to gobble it up and I ended with a soft sigh of disappointment that it was done. I highly recommend it to any fan of romance and certainly those of contemporary. Nora Roberts is a phenomenon.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on link to go to site.

Review: The Next Always

I always love reading a book by Nora Roberts and certainly this one wasn’t an exception. She’s got a gift with the written word, for certain but it’s the timing in her writing that impresses me the most. Her stories always feel slow and lazy and not rushed. It’s a beautiful, slow, elegant introduction into the characters and scene. Yet, she can do it somehow with a few words. And this one was particularly beautiful.

The Next Always is the first in a trilogy that I somehow missed reading when they came out. It tells the story of Beckett and Clare. Beckett is the eldest of the three Montgomery men and the architect. He’s helping his family of brothers and mother, restore an old inn and transform it into a beautiful Bed and Breakfast.

Beckett is easy going on the eyes, gentle yet determined in the best of ways. He had already fallen for Clare back when they were teens so it doesn’t take much for him to rekindle the romance. Clare is a widow now, with three delightful little boys and runs a bookstore. She’s kind, motherly and just sweet.

Clare and Beckett are both busy, one with the inn and the other with work and her little boys and, unlike other romances, these two don’t magically lose their business to give way to romance. The romance happens around their busy lives. Clare continues to kiss scraped knees, stop wars and tend to sick boys and Beckett has to answer his phone, curse at delays and run to fix issues on the build. They do find each other, but it’s a realistic, organic build that creates the same realistic, organic feelings of wonder–at least it did in this reader.

I have to add some other things that I absolutely adored about this book. The three little boys weren’t just minor secondary characters, they were delightfully real and absolutely adorable. I loved each and all of them. The same can be said of the dogs in the story and the other secondary characters. Nora Roberts nails it with them.

The other thing I adored was the cheerful banter between the brothers. Nora Roberts does dialogue like a pro and she nailed it in this book. The three brothers are realistically male, joking around much like guys do without becoming bullies or ignorant, which takes a lot of finesse as a writer.

Add in a beautiful love story, and I was a goner. I had to get the second and third book to gobble them up. If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, don’t do what I did and wait. Pick this one up. It’s fantastic.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)