Thursday, April 20, 2023

Cat Thursday--Welcome to Spring!


Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict) that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!

Spring is finally in the air here! We took our cats to the park while our we had our open house on Saturday. I think they enjoyed parts of it but it's probably not something we want to do that long again. But it was a gorgeous day and Nala spent most of her time in her tunnel and Shadow enjoyed the tree.

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Monday, April 17, 2023

March Update...and a bit of Spring Break

 Spring is officially here but is it really here? I'm not so sure...I think the groundhog meant 8 weeks more not 6. Snow flurries were seen by me outside my window this afternoon. At least it's not sticking for very long.

We've been busy with house stuff and DH's birthday. I made beef stew and Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day. I hosted an Oscar-viewing party and a friend's birthday party, all-in-one! Oh and more house stuff...

I have not been able to read as much as I would've liked this month. Only two so far but I'm hoping for one or two more by months' end.


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We have been mad people getting our house ready to go on the market! Lots of cleaning and repairing and moving junk out. We finally got our house up last week and had an open house Saturday. Nothing came of it yet but it's early yet...But we have to have our cats out when we do showings and it is so hard to figure out what to do with them! We went to the park and had them on their leashes but they were scared by all the noises and people and it's not a permanent solution. I'm hoping our place sells quickly so we won't have to do too many...

Spring break was spent cleaning and moving and patching but we did manage to see a couple of movies together as a family and I took G bowling with a friend early in the week. Not quite how we wanted to spend it but it is what it is. 

G also got visited by the Easter bunny with some cash and jelly we did take the time to decorate a few eggs the night before and G even made the crepes all by himself! Also...Moving is hard!

Books Read:

Dawn (Night Trilogy #2) by Elie Wiesel

Thoughts: All of Wiesel's three books are about the hard truths of living after surviving the Holocaust and how it isn't really living. There are no lessons to be learned or easy answers and silver linings. Not easy reads but very powerful.

Lost & Found
by Kathryn Schulz

Thoughts: I loved the way she threaded grief over the death of her loving father and the finding of the love of her life all around the same time. It's truly a beautiful book and one I'll return to again.

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Thoughts: Mary Oliver has a way with words. You can tell she worships Nature and she writes to us because she is a disciple and has much to tell and teach us. I'd like to read one of her books of poetry as well.

A History of Fear by Luke Dumas

Thoughts: This was a fun and quick read about a man who kills a fellow classmate because he says the Devil actually made him do it. It's clever because he's very much an unreliable narrator and so everything is very ambiguous. Is it really Satan? Or is he just a severely mentally ill person who had a psychotic break? And it takes place in Scotland so another bonus.

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones

Thoughts: This is the second book in his horror series. I loved the first one but had a harder time with the sequel. I listened to it and that may be why. The narrators jumped around a lot and I think it would have been easier to follow had I read the hard copy. I'm even unsure about the actual ending...I'll probably have to reread it before the final books comes out next year.

Day (Night Trilogy #3) by Elie Wiesel. See Dawn above.

Currently Reading:

The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth
by Jonathan Rauch

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

The Revolt of the Public by Martin Gurri

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix


The Last of Us: (HBO) Fascinating look at mushrooms taking us out in their zombie apocalypse! That finale, whew!

Poker Face (Peacock): Can't wait for season two. Best show for me in a long time!

Star Trek: Picard (Paramount+): I am loving this season. Best Star Trek in a very long time.

Star Trek: TNG (rewatching. Am on season 7 now.)

Star Trek: DS9 (I am watching in tandem with TNG cuz I'm nerding out.)

Perry Mason (HBO): Started season two which is really good.

Oscars: Nothing crazy this year. Pretty nice and mellow.

NCAA men's and women's basketball aka March Madness. I didn't see every game but I saw many and I was not disappointed. 

This month is the NBA Playoffs.


I spent one weekend watching as many of the Oscar movies as I could. The only two I didn't see for Best Picture were Avatar: Way of the Water and All Quiet on the Western Front.

Elvis: Very weird and Bazzy but that was to be expected. I actually really enjoyed it.

Triangle of Sadness: Not my cup of tea. Meh. Rolling of eyes a lot. And that sea sickness scene was just too long.

Women Talking: I enjoyed this a lot more that I expected. I had heard it was really boring or that it felt more like a play. But I didn't feel that way at all while watching. I was intrigued the whole time and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year so far.

The Fabelmans: Interesting take on a fictionalized version of Spielberg's childhood. Seth Rogan was not my favorite in it. I felt he detracted from the story, unfortunately. Overall, it was just OK for me.

Theater: I saw Scream VI with a friend, John Wick 4 with DH, and Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and The Super Mario Bros. Movie with G and DH last month and last week. I think that's the most I've been to a theater in the last 3 years? All were pretty entertaining and glad I saw them!

The rest of April will be pretty chaotic. Until our house sells we are on notice for a showing anytime during the day and evening...G's final weeks of school are counting down as well....Looking forward to a time when we're in our new home and we can settle down again!

Joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz and her Sunday Salon.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Cat Thursday-Flying with Cats...

 I'm always amazed at people who can bring their cats places...I know they 'train' or whatever but still I think you need a pretty chill cat who can just give no bleeps about going from one strange place to another...Case in point. We have Brian who started wandering the aisle of his flight while his staff slept close by. He'd escaped his carrier and wanted the run of the place!

Soon the flight attendant found the naughty kitty and held him up so his staff could identify him! An author on the same flight woke up to the announcement and took a picture and posted it on Twitter which went viral. 

He was safely reunited with his loving staff!

“Attendant’s not-amused-but-a-little-amused face is everything”, wrote one commenter, while another said: “Retired flight attendant here, my dream flight would have been one full of cats and dogs, no humans.”

Let me hear some Amens! That's my dream...TSA agents are cats and so are all the passengers.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Spring Into Horror 2023!

 One of the many things I look forward to as spring pushes out the cold and dreary the Spring Into Horror read-a-thon hosted by Michelle at her Seasons of Reading blog! It runs from April 1st til April 30th and you just need to read/listen to one type of horrorish book! It's all to get us excited that we only have six months left until Halloween time. Check it out and join in!

Here are a few I'd like to read:

  • How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. I love his books. Funny, nostalgic, and a little bit spooky.
  • Malice House by Megan Shepherd
  • Hide by Kiersten White
  • These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
  • Craven Manor by Darcy Coates
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
I hope at least two? Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

February! Where did you go? G's Birthday and Life...

 I kind of checked out a bit in February. Between the winter blues, health issues, life, ugh...whatever. I just didn't get on here. Anyhoo, G had his 14th birthday last month! What? It is hard to realize how much time has passed and how little there is before he starts making his way in the world in one form or another. 

I just love G and who he is and who he's becoming! We found out about a new conveyer belt sushi place nearby and G said that is where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner. We haven't been to a place like this as a family since we moved back from Japan so it was a real treat! 

The next weekend we took him and a few of his friends to a trampoline place and they went crazy for hours!

The other big stuff is the, and we didn't even get hit like other states...we have not had this much snow since 2007?!

I also attended Sundance online and attended one movie with the family at the end of January. I am so happy they allow for the hybrid model since the pandemic.

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Also got out of the house to snow shoe with my friends! Gorgeous. 

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Movies at Sundance I really liked:

Going Varsity in Mariachi: This was a fantastic documentary on a specific mariachi high school band in Texas. I had no idea this was a thing and it was amazing to watch these extremely talented young adults work hard and love on their mariachi culture. If you get a chance to see it, please do it!

The Amazing Maurice:
We saw this one in-person as a family and with my friend and her family. It's based off of one of the Discworld books The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett. 

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
: Was a weird gem! Kind of a horror-comedy but not scary at all. If you like weird probably soon-to-be cult-classic films this one's for you.

Fancy Dance and The Persian Version are honorable mentions.

Books Finished in February:

G agreed to do Battle of the Books with a group of his friends at school so I've been working through a few of them alongside him.

The Devil's Arithmetic
by Jane Yolen-

I really liked this simple yet powerful story about Hannah, a modern Jewish girl who is transported back in time during the Passover. What's to remember during the Passover? Turns out a lot. Hannah experiences first-hand what it was like to be captured brutally with her people and thrown into concentration camps. I'm truly amazed how she was able to capture full-fledged characters and the awful history of the Holocaust into such a short book for middle schoolers.

A Divided Nation
by Jennifer Nielsen--

Gerta and her family live in East Berlin, controlled by Russia, in the early 60s. Her father and her brother Dominic are in West Berlin during the night that East Berlin began putting up wired fences and then eventually the Berlin Wall.

Nielsen gives us a peak into what life was like for those who were caught on the wrong side of the wall through Gerta and her brother Fitz. Neighbor turning against neighbor as the Stasi listens in and demands obedience.

It's a great introduction for kids into what that time was like and hopefully after reading it will want to learn more!

Conspiracy: Why the Rational Believe the Irrational
by Michael Shermer--

I really enjoyed the deep-dive into the psychology of conspiracism, how it works, and which conspiracies actually turned out to be true, like the conspiracy that started World War I. He also gives a pretty detailed analysis of some of the common conspiracies of our time like JFK's assassination and 9/11. He also gives us a lesson on common cognitive biases and how we can think through them as much as possible. It's a great book to have on the reference shelf.

by Jane Austen--

This is a reread for me...third time! It's my favorite Austen. It was her last book before she died and it shows. I really feel it's her most mature novel. Harvard Press has released big annotated hardbacks for each of her books over the last few years and I am working my way through them! Pride & Prejudice was last year and this year Persuasion started me off.

Lots of interesting details about archaic English words and phrases. Info on what the different carriages were and looked like. And analysis by various people on why Austen said what she said or what things might mean. A whole new worlds opened up to me about the aristocracy and the Navy. They also talked about her more religious side coming out in particular in this novel...maybe due to her declining health? All stuff I would have had no idea about otherwise.

It's time to re-watch all the Persuasion BBC versions....

Aru Shah and the City of Gold
by Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah #4)--

I read this one aloud to G. We're now on the final book 5!!!!

This is my favorite series. Great character development. Wacky fantasy plots and hijinks. Kids who don't know what they're doing but trying to pretend they do and are so anxious about every choice and action and yet they still get up and try and forgive and laugh and cry. I love it!

Currently Reading:

I'm listening to Don't Fear the Reaper (The Lake Witch Trilogy #2) by Stephen Graham Jones. I didn't realize this was going to be a trilogy after I read the first one My Heart Is a Chainsaw. It was so good. So I am lapping this one up. It's an all-star cast! Different voice for each character. It's a slasher series so not for the faint of heart...

Upstream by Mary Oliver. I read her memoir/essays in the mornings to give me a good boost. Can she write or can she write? I can't even imagine having a brain like hers and absorbing all that information and spitting it back out. Wow. This is my first dive into Oliver and it's not going to be my last!

Fourteen Talks by Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School by Michelle Icard. G isn't out of middle school yet so I have time....

The Nineties: A Book by Chuck Klosterman. I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. The Nineties were my formative years and it's time for the walking of the memory lane...

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz. I'm over halfway now and I'm really enjoying her framing of the death of her beloved father and finding the love of her life, and now her wife.

Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality (Aruh Shah #5) by Roshani Chokshi. Final book, which is awesome and  also sad...


DH and I have jumped on the bandwagon for The Last of Us. Never played the video game nor DH but everyone says it's pretty true to storyline. I'm loving it!

Picard is in its final season but everybody from TNG is back! Well, except for Wesley...I am loving every second of it. I'm also working my way through TNG. I'm on season six and halfway through the season the first season of DS9 premiered so I've challenged myself to rewatch that series alongside TNG

Poker Face
(Peacock)--Natasha Lyonne is so good in this. Murder/mystery solve each week. New locales each week. New people she grows to care's so different and yet familiar. I can't rave enough about this one.

Those are the highlights...whew.

March look ahead...

DH's birthday is this month. It's the big 5-0 and he is not looking forward to it but we're celebrating with friends anyway! There's St. Patrick's Day. And let's not forget it's the start of spring!!!! I am so excited to be done with this winter. It'll be miserable and cold for another month or so but still...

Also...we are planning to move in the next few months or so. We're frantically getting our house ready to put on the market. We're moving up in the world. We've been wanting a house for awhile now and even though we should've done it last year for the best bang for our buck with interest rates and all is what it is. A lot of our time is going towards this goal. No crazy out of state move, thank goodness but we are excited to find something a bit closer to DH's work.

Bookwise...I hope to read a book or two by an Irish author like maybe Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan or a murder mystery by Dervla McTiernan...

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Cat Thursday-- Bag O'Nails


Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict) that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!

The Bag O'Nails is a tiny pub in Bristol, as old as the 19th century, and tourist attraction for travelers from as far away as Japan and Thailand. Why? It's for the cats! According to the article from Bristol Post:

When landlord Luke Daniels took over the Bag of Nails pub in Hotwells in 2012, he never thought it would become home to 14 felines, let alone a destination for cat tourists to visit in their droves. Bag of Nails on St George's Road started out as a traditional real ale boozer, and after Luke took in one of his friend's cats, Malcom, the feline residents grew over the years with as many as 24 at one time after the arrival of several litters.

What started as Bristol's best-kept secret exploded with a flurry of national media attention that stemmed from an article in the Bristol Evening Post in 2015. "From that moment onwards my life went completely mental for six months straight," Luke remembered. His phone was ringing non-stop with national papers all hoping to get the story.

Luke has been able to keep the pub going during the pandemic when the government allowed pubs to deliver beer door-to-door. It's been a boon to have people coming into see the cats and the half of the customers are there for company, food, and especially the beer.

Glad the cats and the pub are doing well! If I ever make it to Bristol, this will be on my list to visit!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Cat Thursday-- Groundhog Day!


 Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict) that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!

Sunday, January 8, 2023

2023 Reading Challenges

 Tis past that time of year to get up my reading challenges...The best kind of challenge for me is a short month or two with no prompts. I can then focus on mood reading. But I do like to think about what kinds of books I read and get some prompts to help me focus and diversify from time to time and reading challenges with prompts fit that bill.

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Book Challenge by Erin 18.0 is a private Facebook bookclub hosted twice a year. Anyone can signup. First round is January through April. I tried to pick books I own so I can work on that TBR own pile this year a bit more.

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1. Prime Number <1000: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

2. Book with an unusual narrator: Watership Down by Richard Adams

3. Title with 1st letter of your first name (H): Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

4. Heart or love in the title: The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

5. Set in small town or rural setting: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

6. Goodreads award winner: (history & biography) The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold 

7. Black or white in the title: Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine by Olivia Campbell

8. Author with 3 names: The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

9. Book set in Australia or by an Australian author: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

10. Freebie: The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

I'm not sure exactly which books I'm going to read for this....I already know I'll never read 40 books for this. But I'm using it as a good way to diversify and get ideas for some more nonfiction and nature-related fiction.

I Read Horror Year-round Challenge 2023 hosted by Michelle at Castle Macabre

Not sure on this one quite yet...will update as I pick. There are various levels to pick from but I always go for bucks, even though I rarely complete this one.

Fairy-tale retelling:

Zombies, witches, vampires, or werewolves: Probably Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. I have not yet read this series and I've been meaning to for a long time now.

Book by BIPOC author: Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones. It has a tentative release date for this year! I'm hoping!

Title with dead, blood, or bone

Something by Poe

Set in the past: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Horrific cover

Folk horror

Winter theme or cover: Snow by Ronald Malfi

Black, red, or white cover: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Written by a woman: Darkly: Black History and America's Gothic Soul by Leila Taylor

Debut horror

1000 Books Before You Die--Banned Books 2023 Challenge hosted by Michelle at Gather Together and Read

First quarter is The Night Trilogy by Elie Wiesel. January will be Night. February is Dawn and March will finish with The Accident.

Second quarter will focus on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Third quarter- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. I have already read this one. And while I liked it, I didn't love it enough to reread. So I plan on reading another of her books on my TBR.

Fourth quarter- Beloved by Toni Morrison. Also read this one a few years ago but I really enjoyed it and it's short so I plan on rereading.

I joined StoryGraph a couple of years ago. It's a great site to keep track of my personal reading challenges. They also host their own reading challenges every year. The one I joined is StoryGraph Reads the World 2023.

Argentina: Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrrica

Colombia: Either Love in the Time of Cholera or 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Cuba: Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire

Italy: From Scratch by Tembi Locke

Nigeria: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Norway: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Pakistan: Either The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood or The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

South Africa: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Syria: Others Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Trinidad & Tobago: Trinidad Noir: The Classics edited by Earl Lovelace & Robert Antoni

Whew! Should keep my reading interesting!

Happy New Year! End of Year Faves

 It was a lovely Christmas break. We all took time off, enjoyed each other's company, stayed in and watched movies, played games, put together puzzles, and ate too much food. It went by too fast but it was lovely.

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Shadow and Nala got in on the Christmas spirit. And my friend Bethany stopped by on New Year's Eve for a game and fun times with my little family. We played an escape room game we got for Christmas and we survived and solved the puzzles! Whew. It was a fun way to ring in 2023!

Now on to looking back at some of my favorites from 2022. I didn't read as many books as I had hoped for but I still read some great ones last year...let's see...

My favorite series was The Expanse by James S.A. Correy. I'd been meaning to read the whole series for a few years and I finally did it last year! So worth the wait. It'll definitely be a reread eventually.

I reread my second favorite Jane Austen book Pride and Prejudice and it was better than I remembered! I have plans on rereading my favorite Austen this year Persuasion.

I even delved into more romance this year due to Bridgerton's second season coming out. I listened to the first four books in like two weeks back in April. Pretty fun. I plan to get to the rest eventually probably spring/summer again.

I loved reading Six Crimson Crowns by Elizabeth Lim with G. It was a beautiful retelling that takes place in Japan's past. A love story and a family story all in one.

Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer was my favorite science read of the year. Simplish enough to grasp some basic concepts and the drawings are amazing and fun.

People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present by Dara Horn was the memoir and culturally critical book that haunted me the most. It's a searing look into our society's narrative around Jews and their history.

TV: I loved Bridgerton season two, Wednesday, The Midnight Club, and Slow Horses.

Movies: So many but Fire of Love was my favorite documentary. Turning Red my favorite kid's movie. Banshees of Inisherin was a beautiful movie on grief and loneliness and friendship in a very small town. Everything Everywhere All at Once was one of the trippiest movies I've ever seen but also so visually stimulating and heartfelt. I was floored. Definitely my top movie for the year. Black Phone and The Innocents were definitely my top horror for the year as well.

Overall, it was a pretty good year. I can't complain. Looking forward to new books, movies, and travel!

Joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz and her Sunday Salon.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry, Happy Holidays-ukkah!

 December has been super busy but good busy. DH and I celebrated our 19th anniversary a week or so ago. We spent a night in Salt Lake City and ate Spanish tapas, drank Spanish wine, crashed an ugly sweater work party at our hotel's bar, and even met Buddy the Elf and Santa. Good times were had!

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We celebrated the Winter Solstice up at the Red Butte Gardens on Saturday.

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Wednesday was more Winter Solstice shenanigans to welcome back the Sun! I cooked up some stew, traditional wassail, G helped me make up solstice cookies, and we decorated paper lanterns and had them lit all night long on the longest night of the year. I love that feeling...waking up and knowing today's light is just a little bit longer than yesterday's! Welcome back, Sun!

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I'm in the middle of two or three right now but I did manage to finish off I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. That's a wild ride. I hope she writes another memoir in ten years and I hope it's full of more hope and healing. 

I'm almost done with Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer. My niece just read it and she wanted me to read it as well so we could talk about it.

The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum is an interesting read on the evolution of Christmas and its traditions in America. He uses a lot of primary sources from the time so we get a sense of time and place and people. I don't think I'll finish this one until after the New Year but finishing it I am. 

I also randomly picked up The Maid by Nita Prose. I'm almost halfway through. Quirky but also painful to see how she's taken advantage of. 


DH and I finally finished of the second season of The Witcher! I just started the second season of Slow Horses on Apple TV. Such an excellent show with Gary Oldman.


We watched A Christmas Story and A Christmas Story: Christmas. We just saw Spirited on Apple with Will Farrell and Ryan Reynolds. Really cute. Elf was the other night. DH and I watched The Holiday again. One of our favorites every holiday season. I think we'll watch It's a Wonderful Life tonight or tomorrow. G has not seen this one yet. I'm hoping he'll appreciate it even if it's a little old school for him. And I've caught quite a few on Hallmark so far. I'm actually pretty impressed with some of them this year. Three Wise Men and a Baby was really good.

I'm also hoping to get in A Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott sometime this weekend! And a couple of holiday horrors too like Black Christmas, Krampus, or that new one Violent Night!

Baking-- I'm hoping to get a Christmas Swiss roll made, peanut butter cookies, more sugar cookies and frosting. Drinks--I've got buttered rum and coquito on the list.

May your Christmas be a safe and merry one!

Joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz and her Sunday Salon.