Book Review: Messanger

So far I've read three of the four books in The Giver quartet. I'll admit that the second book threw me for a loop. It has nothing to do with the first book in the series, but I trusted the author to make a connection.

The third book in The Giver series by Lois Lowry is Messenger. It follows closely behind Gathering Blue. Matty is a little older and a little less rambunctious in this book. He's had a rough childhood, but seems to have found a place to call home with the Seer. Life in Village starts to change from when he first arrived. The population of his new town no longer wants outsiders. They no longer show care and concern for one another. Matty doesn't like the changes, but cannot understand them either.

Jonas from the first book reappears as the leader of Village. He has an extraordinary power, and helps Matty realize his power as well. The three books intermingle in the Messenger. As with every Lois Lowry book I've read, I was turning each page in anticipation of the next.

Let me know your thoughts about the Messenger. Did you love the book?

Happy Reading,


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Unique Valentine's for Kids

If we can make Valentine's Day cards instead of buying them, then that's what we'll do. For the last two years my oldest son has taken Star Wars Valentine's to school. I asked if he wanted to make this year three for three, and he gave a resounding no.

Javen is a budding artist, so I suggested he draw a Valentine card for his classmates. His world is consumed with Transformers at the moment. We worked on the drawing together and he colored it. Afterward, I scanned it into the computer and used PicMonkey to add the text. We printed enough copies for his class, and he wrote everyone's name on the cards.

With a little creativity and a little time, he had unique Valentine's Day Cards.

Another great idea is a stamped Valentine. Use paint and an empty toilet paper roll to make a custom Valentine's Day Card.

Still needing inspiration? Make paper and pipe cleaner flowers. Give a bunch to a special Valentine or one flower for each classmate. Attach a note to the flowers or make a vase from paper and a tin can.

I hope you have a lovely and unique Valentine's Day.



At the beginning of the year we make plans and set goals. Everyone's motivation is different. Some want to improve or master a new skill. Others yearn to learn more, while others use their reflection as motivation to improve their fitness.

One motivating factor for change is the fear of regret. Not many people talk about it because of the uncomfortable air it leaves in the room after the word has been uttered. Regret is served differently. Many unload the thought of regret as they live the life they always wanted. Others strap on the burden as each day passes taking them further away from their dreams.

My grandmother died when I was in my early twenties. She had Alzheimer's, and it robbed her of her life and memories. I remember thinking at her funeral how much life she still had left if the terrible disease had not entered her life. She must of had so many regrets. Grandmother never traveled to exotic places, sat at home and crocheted house shoes and doilies for fun, and her favorite afternoon snack was Dr. Pepper and Cheetos Puffs. What a dull life! Or so I thought.

Who am I to judge whether another person had a life full of missed opportunities? Regret is personal. When we look at what makes a person happy, we automatically compare it to our own definition of happiness. My grandmother was happy when she sat down to crochet or went to the craft store to pick out different colors of yarn. She loved making things for her family, and it was a way for her to show us love.

My thoughts about regret, dreams, and happiness are my own. I should never pity people who spend their days at home passing the time with a hobby they enjoy. Grandmother had a home, a family that loved her, and the freedom to be creative. To many this is a dream come true.

Whatever your dreams are for this new year, I wish you joy above all else.

Here's to no regrets,


Recipes: Pinned and Approved 3

My love affair with food ended when my cholesterol went through the roof. Unfortunately my taste buds still think that food should taste good despite the need for a healthy lifestyle. However, I have combed the internet (just Pinterest) and found some pretty tasty and healthy recipes. Here are a few of my pinned and approved.

Dining with Alice has transformed the way we think about butternut squash. This recipe is a delicious crock pot keeper and great as a main dish or a side.
It doesn't matter how healthy you want to be. There are some days you want CREAM! For a taste bud defying recipe, give this one from Pomegranate Days a try.

I have to admit that we changed one main ingredient in this recipe from D*mn Delicious. Instead of black beans we use pinto beans. It taste pretty good, but you can try it either way. Let me know what you think. 

We enjoy breads as a breakfast option in the Whitaker household. Banana and pumpkin are always on the menu, but we have added a new recipe from Averie Cooks. Sweet Potato Bread is amazing. They should sell it on every street corner of the world. 

To tag along on my recipe adventure, follow me on Pinterest. You can also find my other pinned and approved recipes here and here.

Happy cooking,


Things We Don't Do

Have you ever looked at a person, and thought, "Really?" If you shop at Wal-Mart, it may happen more often than not.

We all have pet peeves and quirks that make us unique. Even the things you don't do are different than other people. I'm not talking about robbing a bank or kicking the dog. These are little things you refuse to do because of a personal trait or conviction.

For example, I will not walk on a person's grave. The only path through a cemetery is directly above the headstone. I know it's crazy. You don't have to tell me. I just can't bring myself to walk on people's graves.

Here's another example. I cannot watch anyone dig in their belly buttons. It makes me want to gag uncontrollably. I know this isn't something people go around doing, but children do. My children know that I hate it, and they will walk up to me and wiggle their little fingers inside their belly buttons. I'm cringing just writing about it.

Now, it's your turn. What is the thing you just won't do? I can't wait to see how crazy you are.

Joining the crazies,



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