Monday, January 31, 2011

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Home Libraries

If you're a booklover like I am, you're probably drawn to bookcases and bookshelves as much as you are to actual books. (Which is one reason that I believe the Kindle will never eliminate physical books!)

And who among you, booklovers, haven't dreamed of having your own home library? Even a single room devoted completely to your books and your reading? Or at least a space or an area dedicated to your books.

I've come across some photographs of home reading areas that I believe are nothing short of lovely. Enjoy!


I'm participating today in Life Made Lovely, hosted by Blessed Little Nest. Click on the icon to find out more!


Friday, January 28, 2011

From the Archives: Six Weird Things About Me

Originally posted 4/19/06

Norma of Collecting My Thoughts has tagged me to list Six Weird Things about Me. It's kind of disturbing how easy it was to come up with six things!

Here we go:

1. I have never played Monopoly.--I know, it seems almost un-American. And I don't really know why I've never played it, because all my life, Monopoly games have gone on all around me. To this day, my kids occasionally play it with friends at my home, and I never take part. Just...never played it.

2. I like ketchup on a lot of unusual things.--This is a weirdness that I try not to display when dining out, simply out of consideration to my fellow diners who may be grossed out. But I like ketchup on steak, fish, baked potatoes, eggs, rice...I just love ketchup. I will admit, though, that as my tastes have matured, I don't rely on ketchup as much as I used to. I can actually savor the flavor of things without glopping ketchup all over them. But the fact remains...I love ketchup. I've even blogged about it.

3. I'm not very organized EXCEPT in weird little ways.--It's's like I have selective organization. I can let my desk get very untidy, and forget to enter important things on my calendar... but when I put my make-up on, I have to have every make-up item lined up neatly before me. I'm micro-organized in other ways as well. Weird, huh?

4. I have strange housecleaning methods.--I hate housecleaning, although I love the results. Often, I have to motivate myself to clean. So, often I'll use a timer. I'll set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and see how much of a room I can get clean in that amount of time. When the timer goes off, I have to move on to another room (although I can come back to any room later). It's like I'm in a little competition with myself to see how much I can get done.

If I don't have a timer handy, I'll use a "song method." I'll see how much of a room I can clean for the length of a song on the radio or a CD. When the song changes, it's on to another room. Now, I don't always use these methods...sometimes I just dig in and clean a room until it's clean, nonstop. But if I'm really dreading the whole housecleaning thing, these little games help me. I know...weird.

5. I never take the first magazine off the stack. --I love magazines, but I will never buy the first one that's facing me on the rack. Even if it shows no signs of being picked over or dog-eared, it's not for me. My magazine must be as pristine and perfect as possible.

6. I don't like circuses.--I never have, even when I was a child. I wasn't scared of them, or scared of the clowns, so that has nothing to do with it. I've just always found them boring. I know...weird.

I'm not going to tag anyone with this, but if you'd like to do it in my comments section or on your own blog, feel free!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Biggest Loser Update: The Green Team Takes a Trip

...and what do you mean, "To Be Continued"?!?

Tonight's episode of The Biggest Loser wasn't one of the more eventful or drama-packed was just kind of functional.

As the show opened, we found Jillian trying to get Don riled up. (Remember, he's the twin who stayed at the ranch, letting his brother Dan go home because Dan was just so homesick.)

Jillian apparently felt that Don needed to let his feelings out--so he did, making good use of the sounder that bleeps out cuss-words. Don continued to stick with his assertion that he DIDN'T gain 9 pounds last week on purpose. Mmm-hmm.

The rest of the show pretty much revolved around the results of a challenge faced by the contestants on the ranch. Each team had to go into an area that was packed from floor to ceiling with the very foods that had been their individual it pizza, fried chicken, chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, cheesecake.

The team who ate the most calories had the power to send any team they chose to the "unknowns" facility (although they really aren't so unknown anymore.)

As it turned out, it just wasn't worth it for anyone to eat anything. They were steadfast...except for Arthur, the guy who had once weighed 600 pounds and who still seems to really struggle with his love affair with food.

Arthur ended up eating just one fried chicken leg, saying he did so to take control of the challenge. And indeed, that gave him the right to send a team to the unknowns, and he chose the green team--Jay and his daughter Jennifer.

I was impressed to see how well Jay and Jennifer did during their week with the new really looked like they were working their behinds off.

NO!!!!! Bummer...

But rather abruptly (or so it seemed to me), a big "To Be Continued" sign flashed on the screen! Let me tell you, I REALLY felt ripped off. To be honest, my very favorite part of the show is the weigh-in...WHAT??? NO WEIGH-IN???

Maybe the show was shortened to accomodate the State of the Union address, but it was a big disappointment for me.

I guess we'll have to wait till next week to see how everyone fared on the scale.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Inspirational Quotes

I believe words have the power to uplift, inspire, encourage and bless. Even the ones that are cliches, are cliches because they're tried and true! Here are a few I've found lately...enjoy and be blessed.

"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."--G.K. Chesterton

"Everything is going to work out for you. That’s your end story. That’s where it’s all headed for the child of God."--James MacDonald

"Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."--Louisa May Alcott

"I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible."--John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I'm participating today in Life Made Lovely, hosted by Blessed Little Nest. Click!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

From the Archives: Why is Ketchup So Good?

(originally posted February 9, 2006)

"The taste of Heinz's ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?"--"The Ketchup Conundrum," The New Yorker Archive.

My name is Cindy, and I'm a ketchupaholic.

I've always loved ketchup inordinately, putting it on such a wide range of foods that I risked grossing out fellow diners (now, out of deference to the squeamish, I avoid putting it on my baked potatoes in public. But it's good. Really it is!)

Actually, in recent years I've come to realize that my tomato fixation isn't confined to ketchup. I crave ALL things tomato and tomato-based. I mean, I really crave them.

Tomatoes themselves--especially the plump, ripe, juicy ones that are given to me from the gardens of generous friends in late summer--sliced up and eaten with a dash of salt, or in tandem with sliced garden cucumbers soaked in delicate rice vinegar.

Tomato soup--intertwined with the memory of being sick as a child, and pampered by my mother. Just sick enough not to have to go to school, but not too sick to enjoy and be comforted by the mug of Campbell's tomato alongside a grilled-cheese sandwich and chased by the good-for-my-tummy 7Up.

Tomato sauce--ladled on my spaghetti, permeating my lasagna noodles, or generously applied to pizza crust-- especially at my favorite local Italian eateries, Giuseppe's, Pino's and Panino's.

Salsa. Tomato juice. V-8 juice. I'm telling you, if it's tomato-based, I probably crave it.

But the king of all tomato-based products is Heinz ketcup.

I was reminded of this when I answered a food survey posted by Marla Swoffer on her blog, Always Thirsty. It's a fun quiz to take, starting with the question, "What's your favorite way to eat scrambled eggs?"

Well...naturally, I like them best topped with ketchup or salsa. Marla also asked, "Which foods/condiments do you insist on using a certain brand? (tell us the brands too)" To which I replied, "It's Heinz Ketchup all the way. To me, no other brand comes close. Goodness, I think I'm flexible on just about everything else!"

Apparently, I'm not alone in my Heinz fixation (although one commenter says she refuses to buy Heinz--could it be because of the Theresa Heinz Kerry connection? That's a connection I try not to examine too closely).

And someone calling themselves "Atlantic" posted the link to the article from which I quoted above. It's lengthy, but if food lore interests you, it's intriguing.

How about you? Is there a certain food brand you refuse to do without? do you like your scrambled eggs? :)

Oh--and if, like me, you've always wondered why ketchup is sometimes called catsup, wonder no more.

Photo credits:

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Tale of One Baby and Many Babies

Today is NARAL's Blog for Choice Day, celebrating the upcoming 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

I'm blogging for choice today, too--the choice for life.

I originally posted the following on January 22nd, 2004. Today I re-post it to participate in "Ask Them What They Mean When They Say Choice" Day.


January 22nd--A Day to Mourn

(originally posted January 22nd, 2004)

When I was a junior in high school, I was delighted to hear that my older sister was pregnant with her third child. I adored my nieces, Shelly and Stephanie, and was looking forward to another little niece or nephew.

My sister gave birth that January to a beautiful little baby girl, and named her Deborah Leigh. But as perfect as Deborah looked, it quickly became obvious that something was wrong. Deborah's little heart was incomplete, and she died within a week of her birth.

I will never forget the car trip from East Texas to West Texas for the funeral of a baby girl. I will never forget seeing that beautiful little girl in the dainty little dress her father had bought for her to wear home from the hospital. I will never forget hearing my brother-in-law cry in the middle of the night for a daughter that would never grow up, or hearing my sister sob for her baby.

Time does heal, and less than a year after Deborah's death, my sister was blessed with another little girl. My niece Cynthia Anne is grown up now, married and has her own babies.

But every year around this time, my sister experiences a season of sadness as she mourns the baby that never grew up.

We were talking about it just the other day. "It's hard to believe it's been 31 years now," Beverly said softly. "She died on January 22nd, 1973."

"January 22, 1973? Beverly...that's the day the Supreme Court Roe versus Wade decision legalized abortion!"

My sister had never connected the two events. We were both struck with the irony. She still grieves the death of a baby on that day...the day that paved the way for millions of mothers to end the lives of their babies voluntarily.

Ironic, indeed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Biggest Loser Update: Finally! The Unknown Trainers Revealed

Listen to my 2 min. 46 sec. Biggest Loser update...just click on the player. (Or read the post below)

Well, the show dragged it out for suspense sake, but we finally got to meet the new trainers on the Biggest Loser last night.

They are Brett Hoebel, who has a background in martial arts and works with celebrities, and Cara Castronuova, a professional boxer.

After getting a good look at them for the first time, I have to wonder if they weren't hired as much for the hotness factor as for their training qualifications! These are two goodlooking people.

They do seem likable. We'll have to see if they're as good as Bob and Jillian at whipping people into shape and helping them drop the pounds--so far, it seems they're doing a good job of it. ("Q" lost 19 pounds, if I'm not mistaken!?!)

I appreciate getting to see more of the other team members, by the way. Just wondering: am I the only one who thought Rulon and Justin were a little heavy-handed in their "encouragement" of their team members to get with it? However, again, it did seem to work, as both the players they were "encouraging" did man up and lose the big numbers.

Dan and Don

It seemed pretty obvious throughout the episode that Dan wanted to go home, and it appears he did what he could to make that happen. However, I can't help but agree with Bob and Jillian that bailing so early is kind of a slap in the face to all the people who would LOVE to have a place at the ranch, but didn't make it on the show.

I understand Dan missing his daughter, but didn't he think about that when he made the decision to be on the show?

In any the show goes along, I'm enjoying getting to know all the players a little better, and seeing how their transformations are already beginning to--no pun intended--take shape.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback in my comments section!

You can subscribe to my podcasts here!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

From the Archives: Who is Gene Kelly?

(This was originally posted on 10/31/08)

"Gene was among the wonders of the 20th century."-- Stanley Donen

"He could do anything... and did everything."-- Debbie Reynolds

"Gene was one of a kind. He revolutionized dancing in film...[he] was a disciplinarian and a perfectionist... I should know."-- Frank Sinatra

"Young and suave once upon a time, but then the gracefully aged and mature, Gene Kelly is the forever and timeless hero of Metro Goldwyn Meyer (MGM) Studios --one of the greatest leading men in Hollywood and one of the *BEST* there will ever be."--From

In my Thursday Thirteen about my family, I mentioned that when my husband sings, he sounds like Gene Kelly.

One of the comments came from Ganns: "Who is Gene Kelly?

Ganns, you can be forgiven for not knowing. You're young and you live in the Phillipines.

But let me educate you. Gene Kelly was one of the greatest entertainers of Hollywood's so-called Golden Era.

He wasn't really known for his singing...singing was something all MGM musical stars did in those days while they were dancing. But I happen to love his slightly raspy voice.

My husband's voice is one of the coolest things about him. He has a natural husky/raspy thing going that--well, let's just admit it--is sexy. And I've always thought so, even when I didn't know him very well at all.

When he was in high school and the Godfather movies were just coming out, people thought he sounded a little like Marlon Brando in that famous role.

As a teen-ager, I used to love sitting up to watch what was then called the "Late Show" on TV. Often it would be one of those spectacular MGM musicals, often starring Gene Kelly. I loved them!

So when I first heard my husband sing, I realized quickly--he sounded like Gene Kelly.

So Ganns, just for you...and everybody who remembers those days fondly...I give you Gene Kelly.

Originally posted 10/31/08

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Biggest Loser: The unknown trainers remain unknown

Careful, SPOILERS if you haven't yet seen it

Click the player to listen to my 3-minute podcast, or just read the post:

(If you're not seeing the player, go here to listen to the podcast.)

Well, I told you this show likes to manipulate us. They dragged out the anonymity of the new trainers for one more episode. Honestly, it's not so much that I'm dying to see the new trainers--it's that I'm having a hard time getting to know the teams that are off the ranch with the new trainers.

Although I'll admit, the show did make a bit more of an effort to let us see those teams this time.

But I digress. I find myself siding with and pulling for the teams that ARE on the ranch, training with Bob and Jillian. Is that exactly what the show's producers want us to do? In past years, they've always highlighted every bit of drama between the contestants on the ranch--what better way to create drama than to have the two groups vying against each other?

Anyway, yes, I'm liking the ranch-teams best right now. I'm still loving Courtney. She has the spunk and motivation that have made me like other contestants in the past. I can also see her transformation with each passing week. Mark my words, she is going to get prettier and prettier as each pound drops off.

I also really like Jennifer, the blonde girl who had the struggle with worrying too much about her dad.

I've got to admit, though, that I was perturbed at the ranch teams' performance during that disastrous challenge. The fact that they couldn't agree on a strategy was disturbing. Also, are the guys on those team men, or mice? Interesting that not one of them "manned up" to say, "OK, THIS is what we should do." Actually, they just needed someone with leadership skills, man OR woman, and they just don't seem to have that.

Also, Arthur's confidence seems to get a bit out of control at times. He needs to dial that down a notch before it balloons into OVERconfidence. Fortunately for him, it paid off this time, as he lost a whopping 13 pounds and helped insure that the ranch teams won the week's weight loss challenge.

So no one had to go home, and I was happy about that.

I'd love to know your thoughts and feedback!

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brisco County Jr, where have you been all my life?!?

My son Jonathan has been instrumental in getting my husband and me hooked on several TV series--not the least of which, a little series called "Lost."

Most recently, though, Jonathan gifted my husband with an entire series on DVD. It's The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, and I'm loving it!

(Oh, and guess what? The series' co-producer and writer just happens to be Carlton Cuse, one-half of the "Darlton" team [with Damon Lindelof] responsible for "Lost.")

This website sums the series up:

"In the closing days of the 19th Century, the West has become nearly civilized, especially with the capture of the infamous Bly Gang. However, the evil John Bly manages to turn the tables on his captor, the famed marshal Brisco County Sr., and murders the lawman in making his escape. A group of wealthy robber barons hires the marshal's son, Harvard-educated lawyer Brisco Country Jr. (Bruce Campbell), to pursue Bly and his gang and bring them to justice.

Joining the fun is the robber baron's mouthpiece, Socrates Poole (Christian Clemonson), sent along to keep an eye on County. Meanwhile, the notorious bounty hunter Lord Bowler (Julius Carry) vows to beat Brisco to the reward. The three join forces, aided at times by a mysterious orb, a sassy saloon singer (Kelly Rutherford), Comet the wonder horse, and an ever-changing assortment of oddballs, in hunting down the members of Bly's gang.

And hey--that's just the pilot!"

You'll recognize Bruce Campbell, who plays Brisco, from Burn Notice--although, hello. Bruce was quite a looker in his younger years, I must say.

SO many things I love about this show, it's hard to think of them all. The tongue-in-cheek humor ("You hit the sheriff!" "Yeah, but I didn't hit the deputy."), terrific writing and colorful characters are way up there.

I love that John Astin plays a recurring character, as the wacky professor.

I even like the "sassy saloon singer," Dixie Cousins, played by Kelly Rutherford. (I love her speaking voice--it reminds me of the voices of Hollywood-golden-era actresses like Judy Garland and others.)

Julius Carry is awesome as "Brisco's faithful companion" (a phrase that infuriates him!) Lord Bowler, the bounty hunter.

Billy Drago gloriously chews up the scenery as the villain, John Bly. John is so wonderfully over-the-top bad, you can't help but love it.

I never saw one single episode of this show when it originally aired in 1993, lasting only one season. But I'm thoroughly enjoying it now. All the more reason that I'll be sad when I've completed all the episodes on DVD.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Braids

Few hairstyles are as lovely, as serene, as graceful as braided hair. My own hair is too short to effectively braid, but I love looking at the various lovely braided hairstyles that are out there.


If I tried this look, I would end up looking like a frumpy old hausfrau. On this young girl, it's adorable!


Actress Kate Bosworth, looking regal in a braided style

I love this look on my friend Ashley (who I've known all her life!)


Pretty, n'est-ce pas?

I absolutely love the look of a French braid...and I like how this girl left some of her hair out of the braid


One of the latest trends is the loose, casual side-braid or "fish-tail" braid. I think this look is lovely!

So there you have it...some lovely braids. If you'd like to try some of these looks yourself, simply go to and do a search for "braid tutorials." You'll find a bunch!

I'm participating today in Life Made Lovely, hosted by Blessed Little Nest...join me!


Saturday, January 08, 2011

10 Ways to Love

I found this on the internet (not sure of the original source) and decided to write it in calligraphy.

The message convicted my heart. These are definitely things I need to work on--with God's help, of course.

Please check out my book blog, Cindy's Book Club, where I'm currently flashing back to a 2009 review I did of Mary DeMuth's wonderful Daisy Chain!

Just click the icon:

Cindy's Book Club button

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Biggest Loser kicks off with a big twist

Listen to my Biggest Loser blogcast (3 min 52 sec), or read the post below!

Granted, The Biggest Loser is one of my very favorite shows, but I also can't stand how manipulative it is sometimes. There are times you can almost hear the conversations of the writers and producers in their planning room, brainstorming ways to manipulate the emotions of we, the viewers.

Last night, the biggest twist since I've been viewing the show. Some of the contestants were allowed to choose between having old stand-bys Bob and Jillian as their trainers, or two brand-new trainers completely unknown to them.

And to us, at it turns out. The new trainers were seen only in silhouette throughout the episode.

An unheard-of prize...

If they chose the new trainers, they got an unheard-of bonus: FOUR WEEKS of immunity from getting kicked off the show.

Some of the contestants, even given the choice, decided to stick with the people who had a proven track record. Others simply couldn't resist the pull of four weeks' immunity.

We got to see very little of the teams who went off with the "unknowns"--to a completely different location. There was some footage of them sweating it out through extremely difficult work-outs, and a couple of shots of contestants who had amazing results at the unknowns' weigh-in. One man, Moses the Tongan, lost (if I'm right) 41 pounds in one week!

It's hard to connect with contestants that you see very little of on the show. I've got a favorite or two already--I like Courtney, the girl who had already lost 100 pounds before she came on the show.

I like Arthur, who also lost a lot of weight before arriving on the ranch, but was still over 500 pounds (he did lose down to 476 the first week.) I also like Arthur's dad, Jesse, but he's going to have to start taking things more seriously if he wants to keep himself and his son on the ranch.

The 54-year-old twins, Don and Dan, broke my heart with their backstories--one had a son who died, the other's son has disowned him because of his weight. You can count on Biggest Loser to tug at your heartstrings. I've boo-hooed many a time, and last night was no exception.

Ana of the orange team ended up going home, making the sacrifice so her daughter Irene could stay.

Trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper

Different Dynamic

There's no question that the addition of the two new trainers will provide a different dynamic for the show. It's too early to tell if I'm going to like that dynamic or not.

I WOULD like a chance to get to know the new it stands now, I can't relate to a couple of silhouettes, and as I said earlier, it's hard to get attached to contestants you rarely see. I hope that changes, because for me, the contestants and their remarkable courage, determination and radical transformations are what makes the show for me.

I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My Favorite Season


a yearning look at Summer...

I was recently asked about my favorite season, and I didn't hesitate to answer: SUMMER.

There are things I love about spring and fall, almost nothing I like about winter, but SUMMER is without a doubt my favorite season.

I think it all goes back to when I was a child, and summer always meant FREEDOM from school and studying and rigid schedules. Even though I’m an adult now, with responsibilities that don’t end in the summer, I still get a little of that excitement back when school’s out.

(For me, summer begins at the end of May, not June 21st. My husband is an educator, so the calendar year still revolves around a schoolyear for me.)

I took this pic of the area where my sister Lisa and I loved to sit and chat in the evenings at Port Aransas

Things I love about summer:

—not having to wear a coat or jacket or sweater.

—wearing sandals and flip flops and pretty strappy shoes.

—getting pedicures because my toes can come out of hiding.

--flowers and greenery everywhere.

—going swimming!

--going out in a boat.

—going to a beach. My favorite vacation was to Port Aransas, Texas, a couple of years ago. I want to go back!

My grandson Payton and my niece Arden on the beach at Port Aransas, TX

--long, long days of light thanks to daylight savings time.

—cute summery dresses and other cute summery clothes.

—cold summery drinks like Sonic’s Cherry Limeade, or a tall glass of iced tea with lime.


—Family picnics.

And no, I don’t mind getting hot and sweaty, because there’s always an air-conditioned place I can go for relief!

Yep, summer is definitely my favorite season. What's yours, and why?

Payton on the beach...he loved it!

*photo credit: Ashley Morrison Photography via Brabourne Farm
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