blog · book review · review

Two Book Tuesday

I am on the strangest non-fiction kick lately… No real idea why, maybe it’s because I’m back in school and looking to learn lots of new things, but I’m reading TWO non-fiction titles at the same time AND sharing them both with you on this Two Book Tuesday!

Who am I and what have I done with myself?

Thanks to my bookselling sister, I got my hands on a copy of The Parasitic Mind by Gad Saad.

A recurring argument between my brother and I revolves around the question “what the heck happened to common sense?” with me asking “why aren’t people questioning this?” and him basically saying “it’s easier for people to let someone else think for them.”

Which lead me to The Parasitic Mind. I’ve only just begun, but the writing is excellent and well-planned, explaining how bad ideas spread through the masses in a way that is interesting, rather than eye-rollingly boring.

As with Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus and my desire to read just about everything she’s written, I’m very interested in Gad Saad’s other titles as well!

So far, Girl, Wash Your Face is more a biography than inspirational title, though author Rachel Hollis does have some really great nuggets of advice like the following…

“You become who you surround yourself with. You become what you consume. If you find yourself in a slump, or feel as though you’re living in a negative space, take a good, hard look at who or what you see every day.”

Each chapter shares a story from her life and, at the end, wraps everything up into a handful of simple steps for the reader to follow.

At the end of the day, Rachel’s message is that women need to put themselves at the TOP of their priority list. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone or anything else?

What’s the last inspirational book you read?
Did anything specific stay with you afterwards?

blog · challenges

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday for October 27: Halloween Freebie

I’ve got to be entirely honest, here, and say that I had NO idea what my freebie was going to be! I considered books with orange covers, horror titles, books with pumpkins, or titles that started with O or H (for October or Halloween), but nothing really fell into place.

Lol, apparently I own very few orange books and even fewer that you could consider horror!

So, instead, I went through my “To Read” list and found ten nonfiction books that I want to read or think people should consider reading…

Always a Soldier: Service, Sacrifice, and Coming Out as America’s Favorite Black, Gay Republican by Rob Smith. On my list because it was suggested to me by the wife of a serviceman.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven. Ever since I saw his speech at the University of Texas, I’ve been interested in what Admiral McRaven has to say. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and solid advice for how to take responsibility for your life by starting with the small things.

Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students by Andrew Pollack. School shootings are one of the hottest topics in America and, if the description and title are to believed, this book digs into the reasons why these tragedies occur.

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson. While I have no interest in joining the medical field myself, I enjoy reading biographies of those in said field. This was such a good read and one of the more inspirational auto-biographies I’ve read.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. Have not been able to get my hands on a copy of this book, but if it is as well-thought out and articulated as his speeches or debates, it is sure to satisfy. The first time I saw Jordan Peterson on YouTube, I was absolutely shocked. Never before had I seen someone so calm and capable of putting thoughts into spoken words. While I don’t always agree with his positions, I am more than willing to allow his voice at the table (as it were).

Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms by Nicholas Johnson. This is a topic I don’t know much about, to be entirely honest, but when it was suggested to me by a co-worker that gave me all the more reason to add it to the list!

The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense by Gad Saad. Probably the next non-fiction title on my to be read list, The Parasitic Mind discusses the very relevant topic of just how dangerous ‘infectious ideas’ are to critical thinking.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. All I can say is if you read no other book on this list, read this one.

The Power of the Positive Woman by Phyllis Schlafly. Suggested to me by a friend. I had never before heard of Phyllis Schlafly, but it appears that she was one of the conservative voices against feminism. As I enjoy learning about differing points of view from all walks of life, this should be an interesting read indeed (look I rhymed!).

Heroes and Heroines of Memphis: Or Reminiscences of the Yellow Fever Epidemics That Afflicted the City of Memphis During the Autumn Months of 1873, 1878, and 1879 by D.A. Quinn. As a Memphis transplantee, I enjoy learning about the history of the area and city. A dear friend of mine enjoyed this title enough to rate it 5/5 stars, so it gets an instant “add” to my list. ;D

Is there a non-fiction title
you think everyone should read?
If so, what is it?


Life Advice | Green Potatoes

A few days ago, I was eating a bag of chips and came across one that was super green and, of course, had to throw it away. Now, why I would waste a perfectly good potato chip is exactly why I’m writing this post… to explain something I learned, found interesting, and thought might be fun to share with you all! 🙂

If you spend any amount of time preparing food to be cooked (or have eaten a bag of chips), then you’ve probably seen the infamous green potato I speak of. While the entire potato isn’t green, when you cut into one it’s easy enough to locate any suspiciously green spots.

In other produce, these green spots might indicate that it is under ripe, but for potatoes this is not the case.

When I was little, we would just cut this part of the potato out and continue preparing them per whatever recipe we were following.

Which, honestly, isn’t such a bad thing because the amount of green potatoes you would have to eat in order to suffer any ill effects is pretty large, at 4.5 lbs for one adult. That’s a lot of mashed potatoes!

So, what exactly makes the green so bad? The green in or on a potato indicates that it’s been exposed to sunlight which has activated it’s defense mechanism of producing the toxin solanine. When ingested in large enough amounts, solanine can cause all kinds of horrible effects in the body from vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches to paralysis of the central nervous system.

Rather than rattle on about various facts, more information about this dangerous toxin can be found HERE.

At the end of the day, it seems that while you’d probably be okay eating some green potatoes why risk it? I’m going to follow my doctor’s advice and just keep throwing green potatoes out (they don’t often get to the point of greening in our house anyways, lol).

And definitely do NOT feed them to children!

Photo by Pixabay on

One other interesting tidbit about the potato plant is that it’s part of the infamous nightshade family, which also includes eggplants and tomatoes! Lol, why are so many yummy foods potentially dangerous?

And there you have it, lesson learned.

Did you know that potatoes could make a nerve agent?

blog · knitting life · life

Knittering; Crochet ‘n’ Me

So, crochet…

The skills needed to do crochet have long eluded me. I can make a simple square or perhaps scarf (if I really tried), but my tension is so TIGHT that after awhile I can no longer even get my hook through the stitches to continue working on the project.

Me + Crochet = Strangulation!

Honestly, my inability to figure out tension while crocheting is probably the reason that I gave up the hooks and went with needles instead. Of course, this also gave me the opportunity to really dig into knitting as a craft… I went from barely being able to hold my needles to knitting up wearable pieces, baby blankets and Baby Yoda!

Photo by Castorly Stock on

Why did I pick up the hook again?

Well, my sister (enabler that she is) gifted me with two craft magazines (one for knitting and the other for crochet) which included kind of a beginner’s project complete with yarn and little, plastic hook. I struggled for way to long trying to follow the pattern using the included hook and yarn before deciding that perhaps better quality materials were called for.

bit of a work in progress here, but I did manage to make the stitches uniform!

Purchasing better yarn DID indeed help and I used the size E 3.5mm Boye hook I had from previous crochet attempts.

However, no matter how closely I followed the pattern or how many tutorials I watched, what I was creating looked NOTHING like the picture!

…turns out that the US has different terms for crochet techniques than, say, the UK and the double crochet I was trying to make was actually a triple crochet!

Once I figured that snafu out, things seemed to progress pretty quickly. My stitches were super uniform and I was able to crochet the head in no time at all! It’s also nice that this yarn is so soft, because it meant I was looked forward to working with it. 🙂

As the project continued, I was having a surprising amount of discomfort, from bruised fingers to stiff/sore joints, so I made the decision to splurge a little and upgrade my crochet hook from a regular Boye one to an ergonomic Clover one from the Amour line… and it is amazing! Truly, from the first stitch, I was hooked! …unintentional pun, lol.

I finished little Miss Kitty here soon thereafter, working on her skirt, limbs, and accessories while watching YouTube or winding down before bed and before I knew it, she was ready for her photo shoot!

Many thanks to my sister, who was kind enough to take pictures for me, since mine always seem to be super boring and she seems to have an eye for these things, lol.

As I don’t really have a need for handmade, stuffed animals, I will be giving Miss Kitty a new home where she will (hopefully) live a long, happy life.

Of note, I live streamed my attempts to learn crochet while working on this ballet cat and one of my viewers asked if I took commissions! I’d never taken a commission before, but they were very kind, explaining that a family of three cats would make a wonderful Christmas present for their children.

Before I agreed to take the commission, I thought long and hard about the request… did I want to make money from a hobby? Or did I want to keep things chill? Ultimately, I did agree to take the commission, mostly because I think it’s a sweet idea to have matching gifts for siblings and because I would have loved getting something that someone made just for me! In fact, I have received handmade gifts and they are some of my most cherished.

Believe it or not, at the time of writing this blog post, I have the one commission for three cats (2 ballet girl cats and 1 boy cat) as well as another commission from a good friend for an elephant and an owl!

Time will only tell, but making stuffed animals might just be my niche in the crochet world, lol.

Is there some craft or hobby that eludes you?

blog · review · video game review

Video Game Review | Storm Boy

Although heartbreaking, Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy is such a sweet, sweet game.

Anyone familiar with the book the game is based on, will be familiar with the story of a little boy (Storm Boy) and a pelican (Mr. Percival) who become friends on a beach in Australia.

You play as the titular character, Storm Boy, and the story is told in text as you direct him through the game. The controls are simple, which is to be expected from an indie title with such a short amount of playtime. Storm Boy can be played from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes, which makes it a good game to play if you want to sit and relax for just a little while before making dinner or whatnot. 😛

From the opening scene, I was blown away at the art style in this game. It’s as if you stepped into a painting or particularly well-designed picture book and I can admit to having stood a long while just watching the beach grass blowing in the wind and listening to the sounds of the ocean.

Like I said, this is a pretty short game, there are a handful of mini-games where you get to dig up mussels, feed the pelicans, or play in the sand. They are both cute and fun to play as they help add an interactive element to what would otherwise be a plain (if gorgeous) walking simulator.

Now, if you’re familiar with the picture book, then you know that Storm Boy and Mr Percival become close friends, even though Storm Boy’s father advises against it. They spend their days together playing catch on the beach and enjoying the freedom of wide open spaces… because of their games, Mr Percival is even able to help save a group of fishermen during a storm!

He is a hero to them and to Storm Boy.

But, as many stories do, Storm Boy doesn’t get a happy ending. As you continue playing, a new type of character is introduced… hunters. Mr Percival, smart bird that he is, has a great dislike for the hunters and does his best to foil their plans. The bright pelican begins to warn the ducks when hunters are near, flying over them constantly and keeping the ducks away.

Eventually, one frustrated hunter shoots Mr Percival.

“And at nine o’clock Mr Percival died.”

It’s a heartbreaking moment for both Storm Boy and the player, even though you’ve only played for a short while, as you learn that there are cruel and stupid people in the world who care only for themselves. It’s a sad lesson, but one that everyone learns in life.

The end of this lovely, heartbreaking, game is just as beautiful as the rest. As Mr Percival’s spirit, you fly through the clouds towards the post he used to roost on and get to see Storm Boy as he remembers his friend…

Storm Boy is forever changed by his friendship with Mr Percival and the player learns that “…birds like Mr Percival do not really die.”

Stats and stuff…

Title: Storm Boy
Developer: Blowfish Studios
Genre: Adventure, Family
Platform: PS4
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Trophy difficulty: Easy

blog · life · memphis · tennessee · travel

Travel | Dixon Gallery & Gardens

After months of staying home, except for going to work or the odd grocery trip, I decided a change was needed. I kidnapped my sister, with the promise that she’d get to enjoy tiny things, and off we went to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens!

For America
Maritza Dávila Journey

Inside the gallery itself were two exhibits, the first being For America and the second, Maritza Dávila Journey, by a local artist…

Diálogos, Maritza Dávila

For America was absolutely full to bursting with beautiful pieces! Featuring a hundred paintings, For America is the creation of the National Academy of Design and contains both portraits of the artists as well as representative pieces from it’s many varied members.

One of the hallmarks of the Academy is that it’s members must donate a work of art to the collection and in 1839 they began to include portraits as well. I found the self-portraits especially interesting as they sometimes were entirely normal and other times you could see a little of the artist’s particular style coming through. 🙂

Some of my favorites…

Out of all the paintings we saw, Provider by Walter Hatke was my absolute favorite. I could sit and stare at this painting for hours and never get bored of it. It feels as if you could take a step and be inside the frame, enjoying the world living therein.

Provider, Walter Hatke

Bonsai: Majestic Miniatures

So, my sister goes absolutely bonkers over tiny things and bonsai has been a longtime interest of mine, as well, which made this next exhibit perfect for the both of us! Lol, I once tried to grow my own bonsai, but when that venture failed, I decided to enjoy the trees that others have cultivated…

The Gardens

Taking the time to walk around and enjoy the actual gardens at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens is worth every minute! The gardens are so beautiful and well-kept that people of all ages can enjoy walking through them without worrying about tripping over a stray root or fallen branch. You can enjoy the shaded areas or sit on the lawn and eat a picnic lunch, if you prefer (we saw a small family doing so).

My favorite thing about the Gardens is how peaceful it all is. Intellectually, I know we’re still in the middle of town with two major streets on either side, but the Dixon feels as if it’s a world apart.

What about you? Have you visited anyplace interesting lately?