April 23, 2023

Block Party Shenanigans

 You know it's been a successful cul-de-sac block party when you wake up and find a half-full jar of moonshine and a random, but very pretty, serving bowl on your kitchen counter.  The bowl wasn't quite as mysterious as the moonshine.  I think we all ended up with random serving bowls, utensils, etc. finding their way into our homes last night.  Apparently, a good majority of our kitchenware ended up at the neighbor's house three doors down.

How and why moonshine ended up on my kitchen counter is a complete mystery.  Although, I know for a fact that I did not partake; I stuck to wine all night.  In fact, I don't remember anyone drinking said moonshine or even discussing it.

To be clear, it was not a wild night of debauchery; although, I must admit, that the random, and unexplained, appearance of moonshine seems to refute that fact.

The same neighbor that ended up with our kitchenware started this "tradition" (it's not yet a tradition, but seeing as this was our third such get together in the past year, it's well on it's way to becoming one.) and it is nice to get to know the people behind those front doors.  

For the most part, on this street people keep to themselves.  So much so, that I never even laid eyes on the lady next door for YEARS.  In fact, I didn't even know she existed until the first time we had one of these parties.  I only knew that her husband lived there because I would see him mowing the grass.

So, last night my friend from two doors asked me what the "invisible" lady's name was - I said, "I'm not quite sure but I think it's Jennifer...but I'm bad at remembering names of people I rarely see."  My very extroverted friend called out, "Hi Jennifer!"  

Friends...her name is NOT Jennifer.  It's something else that does not even remotely sound like Jennifer.  My friend turned to me and said, "You ARE really bad at this."  Hey, I warned her; she's the one that decided to jump in with both feet.  Now let's see if I can remember this lady's name the next time I see her...

The owner of the moonshine has just been revealed via a group text...although, we still don't know how it ended up here. I believe that will be an eternal mystery.

April 18, 2023

A Book Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

 Attention all crime novel aficionados - you HAVE to read this book!  Honestly, that's it.  That's pretty much the entire review; it's that good.

I'm trying to recall how I ever even stumbled over this book.  I *think* I saw a Twitter exchange between Linwood Barclay and Stephen King about this author and this was the first book that popped up in my search.  And it did not disappoint.

"Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years.  He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and their son, Jacob.  But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next.  His fourteen-year old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student."

That is the first paragraph on the inside cover synopsis.  And that's just the beginning.  And with that one paragraph, I knew I was going to enjoy this one immensely.

I don't even know how to go forward without dropping some spoilers - but let's just say I did NOT see that ending coming.  At all.  In fact, even though I recalled the exact ending the next morning, I had to go back to read the last bit to make sure I remembered it right - I did, for the most part, with only one tiny exception, which explained everything clearly. (This is the problem with staying up too late to finish a good book...that tiny bit that explains everything can get lost in the exhaustion...such is the life of a reader, I suppose).

The final blurb said, "Award winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis - a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control."

Yes, I agree that is EXACTLY what William Landay has written.  Before this book, I had never heard of this author (and this genre calls to me!).  But after this book?  I will definitely be seeking out more of his work.


Well, color me shocked - FOUR blog posts in the month of April?  Let's hope this trend continues.

April 15, 2023


 Quick - name what famous book/movie that had the above paraphrased line in it?  I have a feeling you will all know that answer.

This post is brought to you courtesy of Kari, who mentioned in the comments of my last post that her pantry has wire shelving and hinted at the fact she didn't like it. Me too, Kari, me too.  I hate it.

I imagine a great majority of us have that wire shelving tucked away into our pantries, closets and garages.  I also imagine that a great majority of us despise that wire shelving for many reasons.

Things fall through the slats, clothes that are stacked on them get "dents," most of the organizers sold are also wire shelving and they can't sit properly ON wire shelving, etc. - the list is endless.  But, here's why we all have them - they are cheaper than using wood.

A couple of years ago - not quite back at the beginning of the pandemic - I must have been cleaning out that stupid pantry once again and got fed up with the whole wire shelves experience and went about finding a solution.  My first thought was wood shelves.  That idea was quickly discarded.  Then I wondered about having planks cut to sit on top of the wire shelves.  But that idea was also quickly tossed.  The expense, and figuring out how to cut the wood to fit, etc.

After much pondering (yes, I spend quite a bit of my time pondering on little annoyances and how to fix them, if you were wondering), I finally hit upon the perfect solution (which I meant to blog about back then; but....life goes on and it must have slipped my mind).  I ordered some foam board and extra blades for the box cutter for curbside delivery.  I figured if this makeshift "fix" didn't work at least I wasn't out of a ton of money.

(As an aside - I LOVE curbside delivery and I hope it never, ever goes away.)

Once I got the board home, I set about measuring each shelf and cutting the foam board to fit.  And yes, those extra blades for the box cutter are necessary because that foam board will dull the blade a lot sooner than you think.  I know this because I ended up needing to order more blades.

Because of the length of the shelves, I used packing tape to keep the panels together and everything fit snugly in the "lip" of the shelves.  So nothing could shift.

And it all worked perfectly.  And, shockingly, that makeshift "fix" is still holding up a couple of years later.  And every time I have to reorganize that pantry (which is like laundry; never ending), I am so pleased that I have a steady, sturdy surface to work with.

So there you go - an easy and inexpensive fix to those dumb wire shelves.  Do you spend as much time as I do trying to figure out how to fix those nagging, little issues that plague you as much as I do?  (I doubt it)

April 10, 2023

Pantry Organizing

 I suppose we can file this under "My Exciting Life" because I mean, obviously this is how I CHOSE to spend 2.5 hours of my day off this morning...

My husband, God love him, seemingly cannot help himself when it comes to over-buying dry goods and recognizing that our storage space for such items is finite.  I shouldn't complain as he does all the grocery shopping and cooking.  And I appreciate every single bit of that; I do.


The state of our pantry was deplorable.  It was dark and crowded with stuff crammed in everywhere.

Well, the only reason it was dark is because there was so much stuff crammed in there that we couldn't reach the light switch.  The one we keep forgetting we have because there is just SO MUCH stuffed into this little closet.

A good blogger would have had a "before picture" - I am not a good blogger.  Instead, I grabbed the step stool and jumped in head first.

I surmised that some of the "systems" I set in place were not being used properly and were just taking up valuable real estate.  So I removed the organizer for the freezer bags, foil, cling wrap, etc.  I also removed the cute, little container that was supposed to hold his tea bags.  He never used the cute, little container.  Instead, he would just set a box of tea ON TOP of said container. *sigh*

I set about re-organizing what I could and making notes for possible solutions.  And now, here is where I introduce the evidence, if you will, of just how much this pantry is over-stocked, while cautioning you to keep in mind that there are only TWO of us living in this house.

  • 11 cans of artichoke hearts
  • 7 unopened boxes of rice
  • 2 boxes of opened rice
  • 5 unopened jars of peanut butter; 2 of which expire this year
  • 2 jars of peanut butter (to be fair, one is crunchy and one is creamy)
  • 13 cans of tuna
  • 16 cans of clams - 5 are minced and 11 are baby clams
  • 3 opened bags of corn meal
  • Too many cans of tomatoes (diced, crushed, paste, whatever) to count
  • Ditto for the pasta, bagged rice and beans
  • Far too many bags of chips/snacks.  Most of which just held stale crumbles (those were tossed)

I have seen nary an artichoke make an appearance in any meals since...I can't remember when. 

I do love peanut butter but even I can't possibly be expected to eat 2 extra jars before the year is up.  I have decided to whip up a BUNCH of peanut butter cookie batter to freeze and request that chicken dish he makes with some peanut sauce to fix that problem. 

As for the tuna - which we haven't had in forever - I guess we need to start having tuna salad for lunch more often.

He likes to claim that "in the event of an emergency, we won't go hungry."  And he's right; we won't.  But we are sure going to get tired of eating pasta, peanut butter, clams, tuna and artichoke hearts in a hurry.

Here's the "after" photos; which still look like a hot mess.

Top half

Bottom half

I think I am going to buy a couple of lazy susans - I think it would be easier to sort through my baking ingredients on the bottom shelf and maybe a couple for that tippy-top shelf where, "theoretically" the "extra" items are stored.

I'm also re-thinking the current use of bins.  I thought about getting one of those can organizer things, but ultimately tossed that idea as I can't see him using one and it would end up just taking up more space.  The same thought with those can "riser" things...there are just too many cans of whatever in there for that to work.

So spill the tea - is your pantry spotless and perfect?  If so, what organizers work best for your family?

April 7, 2023

The IT Girl / The Escape Room - Book Reviews

There are many aspects about blogging that I love so very much.  But I think seeing what everyone else is reading and recommending is probably in the top 10.

And while all of our tastes in reading material may differ - and that's fine! - it also opens your eyes to something new that *might* draw you into a different genre.

But, for some of us, we find ourselves on the same page (sorry, not sorry - I couldn't resist) regarding reading material. 

This is why I am happy to present my review of The IT Girl by Ruth Ware; which Suzanne so kindly sent my way.  Because Suzanne and I, it seems, are on the same page when it comes to reading material.

I recall reading The Death of Mrs. Westaway by the same author; which I thoroughly enjoyed (but most likely did not post about for the simple reason that if I don't post about it immediately, I will completely forget to do so - no matter how much I enjoyed it - as I have moved on to something else.  Yes, this means I probably have a lot of "holes" in my Books I Love Enough to Tell You About list) and was looking forward to reading this novel.

Friends, it did not disappoint.  I loved it.

It all began when Alice Clarke-Cliveden and Hannah Jones met each other as roommates for their first term at Oxford.  From there they created an inseparable group of friends.  Alice was dead by the end of the first term.

A decade later, the porter who was convicted for the death, died in prison.  Hannah, whose key testimony convicted him, is relieved that this bit of her past is finally completely behind her.  So imagine her shock when a journalist contacts her to present new evidence that he may have been innocent.  As she begins to doubt her testimony, she reconnects with the old group of friends only to discover that they, the people she thought she knew best, all had something to hide.

This novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present, which can sometimes be annoying for me, but worked perfectly in this story.  There were lots of twists to this story and ended with a surprise to me.  I admit, I'm usually not looking to "solve the puzzle" while reading but I usually figure out who did it; that was not the case with this book.

It's a solid read and I heartily recommend it.  Thank you, Suzanne!

Next up, we have The Escape Room by Megan Goldin.

As you might surmise (correctly) that title alone forced the book to jump from the wall of books I was perusing right into my hands.  And it did not disappoint; not one little bit.

I was shocked to discover this was a debut novel.  Every novelist must dream of writing such a book.  She succeeded.  I have since discovered that she has authored four other books since this one came out in 2018.  I am putting them ALL on my To Be Read List; particularly after Suzanne responded to my comment on her most recent post on A Novel Project that she read Stay Awake and couldn't put it down - so it seems Megan Goldin is not a one hit wonder.

Five books in five years?  Is she the female equivalent of Stephen King?  Perhaps.

This story takes place in the very lucrative and very cutthroat world of finance.  Our main characters have swallowed the Kool-Aid and are very focused on closing each and every deal...and despite the fact that they are a "team" they are looking out for their own interests; always first and foremost.

They are all "invited" (read commanded) to participate in an escape room challenge as a "team building" exercise. 

As an aside, can we all agree that team building exercises need to be eliminated from the corporate world?  No?  Just me?  Well, after this book I will be finding a reason to be excused from any and all team building exercises from here on out.

At any rate, they all show up (the fools) and crowd into the elevator - not realizing the elevator IS the escape room...until the lights go out and, as the hour grinds on - and is then exceeded, they begin to realize this is no ordinary escape room.  And that only one of them might make it out alive.

I put my seal of approval on this debut novel - I loved it.

So what are you reading these days?