Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Favorite Books For May: "Unplanned" and "Night Road"

Gerard's favorite read for May is Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert.  You have to read Unplanned by Abby Johnson because it's just so good! It's the true story of Abby, who was a leader of a Planned Parenthood chapter. One day she had to see the actual abortion, and that changed her whole life from then on. The story is amazing! A coalition For Life was praying right next door and she went to join them. But the part I really enjoyed in this book is her relationship with God! She shares how God can use anyone to spread His word and Abby praying is so good! I got chills reading about it.

This is a powerful book that you will not want to put down. Abby, if you are reading this, thanks for sharing and God bless your husband, daughter and you. You wrote a fantastic book!

Karen's favorite is Night Road by Kristin Hannah

I loved Night Road by Kristin Hannah! This is such a heartbreaking story that delves into friendship, teenage drinking, family relationships, dealing with grief, love and forgiveness. Lexi is a very lonely but nice girl who grew up in foster care for most of her life. She becomes best friends with another lonely girl, Mia, who comes from a very good family. Lexi falls in love with Mia’s twin brother, Zach, the homecoming king. Mia’s parents, especially her mother, Jude, are thrilled Mia has a friend and treat Lexi as a member of the family. In one night, everything changes, just two weeks before graduation when the three good friends drink, drive and get in a car accident that leaves Mia dead.

This is just an amazing read. I could feel the emotions the different characters went through and couldn’t help but feel sorry for Lexi, the driver of the car. Zach, Lexi and Jude all played the blame game, mostly blaming themselves. I can’t say enough good things about this book! The characters were likeable and realistic, the plot is well done and certainly sends a strong message not to drive drunk. I have to read more books by Kristin Hannah—this one was so good! I highly recommend it to parents and teens or anyone who likes a good love story. This is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year!

We read other very good books this month too but if we had to choose one, it would be these.  We invite you to visit Grab A Book From Our Stack to see our other book reviews. What are you reading? Have you read either of these?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our Walk To Veteran's Memorial Park In Parma, Ohio

Veteran's Memorial Park Monument, Parma, Ohio

Flags for each branch of service: Army, Navy, Marines, State of Ohio, USA, POW-MIA, Coast Guard, Air Force, Merchant Marine

We want to give special honor to our service men and women in all the armed forces. At our local park, there is such a nice memorial with the flags of each service. This is the park where our dog, Abby, loves to walk to and often stops at this memorial.  Abby went to rest in the shade under the bench.  This was her second trip walking up here this day.
In the ground are four sections of bricks like this with names of servicemen and the war they served in etched into individual bricks:

Even as far back as the Civil War!

We say “Thank You” to all who served and those currently serving our nation in the armed forces. We appreciate your sacrifice!  Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

6 Things We Learned This Week 21 of 2011 (marriage, eating, blogging, TV)

Husbands and Wives

Sunday, the sermon was on "What Women Want" and the answer is love. Our Pastor then gave some very practical examples of specific things husbands can do that show love to their wives. I posted my sermon notes over at "Advice For Husbands: What Women Want" "Always Looking Up."

Link Management

At Tentbloggers, I learned from his post "Become A Master Link Artist" that value given to blogs I link to is based on how many other links I have on my page. The more links I have, the less value. However, there is a code I can insert right before the href: "rel="nofollow" href".


Ratty shared a photo tip for taking animals in his I Met A Little Chipmunk post:
Always stay calm, and move slowly. Stop if they see you or are looking in your direction. This works for all the little critters, and most of the big ones.
One of the things I learned from Pioneer Woman's Ten Things I've Learned About Food Photography is that action with food makes the picture more interesting.  I really found this post quite interesting and helpful. 


In talking with Kraig who used to live in Minnesota, I learned that it gets over 100 degrees there in the summertime. I always thought of Minnesota as being a cold state. It is colder than Cleveland in the winter but I didn't realize it was warmer than Cleveland in the summer!

Healthy Eating

According to my United Healthcare online coach, I should eat at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! I only have about half that and that's on a good day! Oops. I'm lucky if I get in 5 a day!  For more, check out my "No Wonder Japan Has Only A 3% Obesity Rate."

TV Shows

Manny when he first came.

We found a funny cat show on Animal Planet that I wrote about over on my other blog: My Cat From Hell Is Entertaining And Educational! Have you seen this? Sparkle, The Designer Cat's mom actually got to meet Jackson Galaxy, the host of the show!

I was glad Irene was voted in as the third finalist on "The Biggest Loser" and happy that Olivia was "The Biggest Loser."  I also thought it was neat that Deni was the biggest loser of those at home since she was in her 50s, one of the older contestants.  The women dominated this season!

Now go find some more Friday Fragments at Half-Past Kissin' Time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Choosing A Blog Title (Writer's Workshop)

I think I'm way too serious in this video. Here are some things you can look for to make viewing it a bit more interesting:
1) Watch for our dog Abby getting off the couch.
2) What when Manny (our tabby) enters.
3) Watch for Spunky Doodle (our Tuxedo cat) on the floor.
4) Notice when Manny jumps up on the coffee table.
5) Count how many stuffed animals you can find.

After we finished making this, Gerard asked, "Do you think people really are interested in this?" Well, I don't know, but I enjoyed seeing other ones so I figure some people would enjoy seeing ours too. I am not real happy with how this turned out. I thought about doing it over with the following changes but didn't want to ask Gerard to do it over. You can see how enthusiastic he was about doing it the first time.

If we did do it over, here are the changes I would make:
1--Let Gerard say something.
2--Straighten up the coffee table and get Slider all the way in the picture (sitting at the end of the coffee table).
3--Turn Pooh Bear to face the camera (on the mantle).
4--Don't say "so" that much.

Thanks to all who voted for our title--we like it very much! If you liked this video, hit that "videos" tab at top on the end to go right to our YouTube channel for more at "Barking and Meowing With The Zemeks."  We have quite a few.

This vlog is in response to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt: Tell us the story behind the title of your blog. What is it? What inspired it? What other options did you consider? Are you happy with it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Would You Do With An Unexpected $75

When I get gift cards, I like to use them on something I normally wouldn't buy for myself. At work, we were offered $75 in gift cards for just getting a little health checkup right at work! We could choose what stores we wanted to get them for. I used $25 for Bath and Body Works.  This soap comes in lots of different fragrances and I love how it foams up.  I get the kind with the moisturizer in it because my skin gets real dry and I don't like the greasy hand lotions.  This will last me for awhile!

I let Gerard use the $50 for Sears to get new tennis shoes--his wear out fast! When I asked him what store he would like to get his shoes from, he chose Sears.  Actually, I'm going to get myself some heels so I can wear my nice skirts and dresses to church again sometimes at least. My feet are so slender it's hard to find comfortable heels so I didn't know what store I would find them in (most likely online) so by using it for Gerard's shoes I feel better about spending money for mine.

We actually had some left for a tank top and some socks too!  I feel like we hit the jackpot!

Do you like Bath and Body Works too?  What would you choose if you got $75 to spend out of the blue?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike by Spunky Doodle

Manny is on the left looking out the computer room window, Spunky Doodle on the right at our bedroom window
Sometimes we share the same window but today we each wanted our own.  It's a beautiful day and Karen and Gerard were outside, just getting back with new flowers for Moe's garden this year.  Moe was their first cat.  At first he did not like me at all, but after awhile when he realized how entertaining, cute and fun I was, we got to be good friends.  Manny never met Moe since he came five months after Moe went to the Rainbow Bridge. Here is the picture of Moe's garden:

Here are close ups of us at the windows too so you can see us better:
Spunky Doodle

Moe, Our First Cat (R.I.P.)

Visit more Cats On Tuesdays posts.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time To Plant Our Flowers!

We don't need as many flowers this year because the bare circle in our front yard from when we removed our evergreen tree has shrunk so much that we planted grass in it this year. The only flowers we had to get were a few for the back and flower boxes and containers for the front porch. Gerard lets me pick them out and he does the planting while I take pictures and blog.

I love our purple phlox that comes back every spring. Unfortunately, some weeds have a stronghold in the one place and I can't get them out!  I tried thinning it out one year and transplanting some of it but it didn't work.  We planted our extra flowers in front of the fence at the end where the phlox stopped.

I decided to go with begonias this year. They are usually sturdy and last long into the year. We got a variety of colors because Gerard likes the different colors.

Here is a couple of our planters that are finished. Moe's garden is in the backyard and we'll show you that picture in Spunky Doodle's post tomorrow.

Of course, our dog, Abby, was the supervisor. She loves being outside with Gerard.

Gerard was so excited about the great weather and getting the flowers in that he also sprayed Weed-b-gon to get rid of the dandelions in our yard (hope it doesn't kill off all the grass and clover too or we'll have plain dirt). Then, he went to attack some of the weeds behind the garage!

Good job, Gerard!  

Hope you had as beautiful a weekend as we did!  Have you planted your flowers yet?  What kind to you plant?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I Voted For Irene On "The Biggest Loser"

I absolutely love watching "The Biggest Loser" because it is so inspirational and I love seeing the contestants transform their lives. This season had a lot of nice contestants. I have nothing against Jay. I liked him. However, I feel Irene really deserves to be the third finalist over him for the following reasons:

(1) Jay started heavier so had more weight he could lose, but I don't think he lost as much as he could have.

(2) Jay was voted off and got to come back on--had a second chance.

(3) Jay fell under the yellow line on the makeover show and got a third chance when the "fairy godfather" announced that no one would go home that night. I loved that because I felt they all deserved to stay and it was nice they didn't have to lose anyone after such a great day. Nonetheless, it was lucky for Jay because he would have been gone.

Friday, May 20, 2011

6 Things We Learned This Week 20 of 2011 (history, religion, cats, Synesthesis, food)


Do you know who was the only woman hanged in the U.S.? Gerard found out it was Mary Surratt when he read The Mary Surratt "Lincoln Assassination Trial" by Bryna J. Fireside this week.  Click the link to read Gerard's review of this.

Prayer Flags

I never knew about the Buddhist prayer flags until I saw a picture and read about them over at Red Pine Mountain. I kind of like the idea of using flags to remind people to pray. The wind blowing them giving blessings to everyone is a nice thought too, but I doubt if it really happens. I guess there are a lot of Buddist in Vermont. Mountain Woman said shes sees them everywhere.

1,000 Cats/Kitten Sanctuary

I just discovered another amazing animal sanctuary for cats and 30 dogs in California: Cat House On The Kings. This would be my dream job!  Lynea Lattanzio is the founder and has 23 volunteers to help her on 6 acres.  I wouldn't think the cats would want to get adopted when they have this place:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Food I Abhor (writer’s workshop)

The food I abhor fills the house with a bad smell. (Not my house though because I would NEVER have it in MY house!) It looks off-white and is stringy. My mom used to love it but was the only one in our family who did. She usually only made it at New Year’s. It’s a German dish. Can you guess what it is? It’s Sauerkraut. What food do you abhor? Do you dislike Sauerkraut too?

This post is inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt: “Describe a food you abhor.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Cleveland Zoo Elephant Crossing Exhibit Is Spectacular

On May 7 we went to see the elephant crossing exhibit for the first time and were very impressed! It just opened May 5. There are five elephants now and five acres for the exhibit! When we arrived, the trainer was calling the 11-ft. tall male elephant over to cross to the other side so we got to see how the gate worked. It is so cool! It separates the two big sections of the exhibit and the elephants cross through one way and then the people can go across and walk in the same place the elephants did.

There was so much to see we spent an hour just exploring it. I had planned to take pictures for this blog post, but my battery died so went back around 4:00 to get more but they had just brought the elephants inside. In  the video it shows how close the people can be inside and how we can watch the trainers move them along. The mole rats (little mice) and a python is in the elephant building too.

I wanted to go again on Sunday right after I got done teaching my Sunday School class, but Gerard didn’t realize that. I expected him to read my mind but he didn’t. We started on our way after lunch, but since mothers got in free for Mother's Day, it was packed like I thought it would be. In fact, the traffic was all backed up almost to our street! We decided to take Abby to the park instead—see how flexible we are? Turns out it was a good idea because Monday, we heard that the zoo had closed all their parking lots at 1:00 because they were all full!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Gotcha Day by Manny (and Karen)

He likes me petting him now!

I am six years old now and have lived here for 3 years! Spunky welcomed me and showed me all around when I first moved in. Now I am a very happy cat. I love watching TV while lying on Karen and lying in the chair by the computer so she can pet me while she works on it. I help keep her calm that way. Spunky and I have fun too, especially when we play chase. I get along quite well with our woofie too. She doesn’t bother me at all anymore. I’m sure I’ll get some extra Greenies today for my Gotcha Day—I should get six, one for each year don’t you think?

 Here are a couple posts from my first weeks here so you can see how different I am now than how I used to be: Bringing In A New Cat and Week Two:  Manny Progrss
--Manny (Formerly Foo Fee--Yes, I used to have a Poodle name in my former life.)

Manny has become Mr. Nice Nice just like I predicted. When we first brought him into our home, he was very scared and of course upset. Gerard actually thought it was a lost cause! Now Manny and I are buddies. I am so glad we got him! Spunky Doodle was used to having Moe around and was lonely when Moe died. I think she missed having another cat around during the day so five months later, my friend was looking for someone to take her cat because she was allergic and couldn’t take her medicine since she was pregnant. It has worked out very well! We love you, Manny!

Our friend, Bozo, has a Pet Pride link up going for all the pet posts to link up.  Visit Pets Forever to find more pet posts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

4 Things We Learned This Week 19 of 2011 (animals, TV, blogging)

(These Fragments are a day late thanks to Blogger being down. Oh well.)


Armadillo (picture from Wikipedia)

These cute little creatures can carry bacteria that causes leprosy so humans who hold them run the risk of getting leprosy according to the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. I think they are an interesting animal and like watching them at the zoo but will not be holding them.



Male elephants do not hang around female elephants unless they are mating. They usually hang with other males. Willy, our zoo's only male elephant, was just introduced to the four female elephants at the Cleveland zoo this week. It seems a couple of the ladies were interested in him. (My zoo post with video is scheduled for Tuesday.) Here's a short little preview for you:


The final of Survivor: Redemption Island is on Sunday at 8 PM EST. I don't want to miss this! Anxious to see who will win.

Blogger and PNN

I found out that I really miss blogging and commenting when Blogger was down for a whole day and a half and pnn.com is down too! I blogged about Survivor and would have linked to it for the above fragment by can't. Just get an error message when I try to go to my Always Looking Up blog on PNN. Very frustrating!!!

Go find more Friday Fragments at Half-Past Kissin' Time and more from us at Grab A Book From Our Stack.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My First Car—A Sad Tale (Writer’s Workshop)

I was thrilled to get my own car when I graduated high school. It was a gift from my aunts and was used but I didn’t care. It was not at all sporty, but it worked and got me around where I wanted to go, mostly to church, Dairy Queen, bowling and softball. It was a Rambler which isn’t even made anymore, boy do I feel old!

I felt really bad when I woke up one day after a storm during the night to see this:
It was completely covered!  The second picture is of the flattened roof!

A tree in our neighbor’s yard got struck by lightening and crashed down right on top of my little Rambler, caving in the roof! Although I had comprehensive insurance on it, the insurance didn’t cover the damage because it was consider “an act of God” which was listed as an exclusion on my policy. I don’t really remember how long I had that car, but it didn’t take me very long to go find another used car.

This post is in response to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop to write about your first car.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Like Grocery Day by Spunky Doodle

You as what’s so great about grocery day? Well, I’ll tell you. When my humans bring home the groceries in their boxes, once they put the groceries away, I get to hop inside the boxes! Even when they pile them inside each other, I can still fit as you can see from this picture.

Manny likes to get the the boxes too!

Then, as if that’s not fun enough, they bring home a stack of books and I get to sniff around them and model for their header at Grab A Book From Our Stack. Manny sometimes comes too for this activity and then we get a treat! I think we should have a poll over at that book blog to see which of us is the better model. I think I would win because Manny is bigger and sometimes blocks the book titles.

What day do you like and why? I’d love to know!

Related post:  How To Keep Grocery Bags From Tipping

Our friend, Bozo, has a Pet Pride link up going for all the pet posts to link up.  Visit Pets Forever to find more pet posts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

6 Grocery Shopping Tips For Speed And Efficiency

Here are grocery shopping tips that we use when we shop:

1. Use A checklist and have the items listed in order that you get them in the store. When we do our grocery shopping, we take along a list but just use it to check at the end to be sure we didn't forget anything. I have a list of our usual items on the computer that we just print out and use it as a checklist each week. By putting the items in order according to where they are in the store will save time if you follow your list along the way.

2. Eat before you do your food shopping. We always do our grocery shopping on Saturday after we had a big breakfast at Hometown Buffet. It helps us stick to our list.

3. Go together but split up the list. To save time, we go together but then we split up in the store. We each get the items that we generally eat. I have the cart and Gerard brings things to it. The other option that we have done was to just tear the list in half and each get their half and meet in the middle. This works assuming your list is in order as suggested in item 1 above.

4. When loading the cart, put heavy things in the far end. By doing this, when unloading it, the heavy things will be going on first so they do not crush into the lighter items.

5. Help bag. This is really a no-brainer, especially if there is not a bagger and just the cashier.

6. Use some boxes in your car for the bags of groceries. This will keep things from toppling over and falling out of the bags.

We took this little quiz to see what kind of shoppers we were and here is the results:

We Are Quick Shoppers

You're a speedy shopper and a speedy cook. You value efficiency above all else.

You don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen... or in the grocery store!

You buy a lot of convenience foods, and you've got making quick meals at home down to a science.

You know what's cheap, healthy, and easy. You don't need a lot of fuss to eat well.

Why not take the quiz yourself and share your results in the comments?  Just click the link below.

Stop by Saturday Samplings for best posts of the week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Letter To Mom Because I Can't Write Poems (Writer's Workshop)

Dear Mom,

I miss you so much and so often. You were the best mom I could ever want and if I could have hand picked a mom, it would be you! You were always supportive to me and very giving. I admired your tact and your wisdom. You were so smart yet you never made me feel dumb or stupid. I'll always be grateful to you for advising me to combine the secretarial skill classes with the college bound courses. They served me well.

I had so much admiration for you when you welcomed three foster children into our family and gave them a loving home and took on all that extra responsibility. I thought it was wonderful how you helped Pam with her accounting and John with his math so he didn't need to attend summer school. You put up with so much extra heartache by doing this that you could have easily avoided, but you wanted to make a difference for them, and you did! I never had any children, but like you, I am still teaching Sunday School. I loved being your helper growing up and learned a lot from you about teaching and motivating kids to learn. I did think about being a foster parent or adopting but I married so late, it just would not have been practical and Gerard never expressed any interest in doing it.

I loved our late night talks when I would lean against your soft arms on the couch. You being overweight never bothered me or embarrassed me. You were heavy, but never looked sloppy. I loved how you would stick out your false teeth just to be silly sometimes! You had a wonderful sense of humor and I loved how we shared inside jokes and would crack up at the same things.

Friday, May 6, 2011

8 Things We Learned This Week 18 of 2011 (poll, garbage, blogging, shopping, zoo, cleaning)

Easter Hymns

According to you poll, there is a tie for the favorite Easter hymn between "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today."

New Dryer

When hhgregg came last Saturday to hook up our new electric dryer, they said we needed to get a gas one. I saw that gas line connected to it but we also plug it into the outlet too. I didn't know what it was and now I do. Went back to order the gas one instead (which was $87 more).


After posting The Morning Stomp over at "My Funny Dad, Harry" I am surprised to learn that others do not compact their boxes by stomping on them. Some tear them, fold them or cut them but no one else stomps them--yet. Do you?

Choose Your Charity

For the month of May, the two people who leave the most comments on Red Pine Mountain blog will have a 25.00 donation made in their name to the charity of their choice. I wonder what she'll do if there's a tie.

Cleaning Fun

Over at Modern Mom's post, Clear Away Cobwebs I learned a fun way to clean away those high cobwebs, or low ones too for that matter with a tennis ball! Attach a dust cloth with rubberbands to a tennis ball and throw it at the cobweb! Makes you want to clean now, doesn't it?

Arcsoft Photo Impression

When installing my photo scanner, I discovered that the software can edit photos and I can make photos for my blog at a low resolution which causes them to load much faster!  I think it only works though when I load in new ones, not on ones already on my computer. 

Cinco de Mayo

I kept seeing "Cinco de Mayo" on different blogs but had no idea what it meant or was about. Now, thanks to Mike at "Live Life 365," I learned that it means May 5 and it about celebrating Mexico's victory in a battle in 1862. I guess you celebrate by eating Mexican food that day. Be sure to stop by Mike's blog if you want to see how to make salsa, Guacamole or enchiladas.

Elephant Crossing


Yippee! The elephants are back on display at the Cleveland Zoo in their brand new 5-acre exhibit, including a couple new ones: Shenga and Willy, an 11-foot tall bull elephant. The biggest we ever had. Gerard and I look forward to going this weekend.

Visit Half-Past Kissin' Time to find more Friday Fragments.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Silly Mom Made Me Proud (Writer's Workshop)

When my mom taught preschoolers in Sunday School, one little boy said to her once “Wow, those are the biggest muscles I ever saw!” She thought it was funny he thought her flabby arms were muscular. My mom did not like her picture taken, kind of like the Amish that way. She was a big lady and self-conscious about her weight which is why I think she did not like getting her picture taken. Consequently, I have very few pictures of her but just a few weeks ago, I came across this one which is the best! She was not one who over ate, but she had a terrible time with weight control. She finally joined a Take Off Pounds Sensibly club (“TOPS”) and even got voted in as President! This picture of her was taken at TOPS the year she won for losing a lot of pounds. She was so happy that I went to the awards dinner with her. I was extremely proud of her.

One of the silly memories I have of mom is when she got her false teeth. You know how a little kid sticks out his tongue when someone says something to them they don’t like? Well, my mom used to do that with her false teeth. I thought it was funny when she would push them out of her mouth sometimes when she was in a silly mood. It always made me laugh! I wish I had a picture of her doing that!

What’s a funny memory you have of your mom? Was there a time when you were extremely proud of your mom? Do you have false teeth?

This post is inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt to write about a memory of your mother.