Mar 27, 2008

Hard Times

Todays post is a little off topic, but its something that has a huge impact on my life, so I thought it deserved a space of its own. As many know, the construction industry in Florida has really taken a big hit in the last year. You can click here to find out more. I'm a bookkeeper and office manager for a residential/commercial contractor in Ocala. Business has boomed in the eight years I've been here. However, with the media constantly talking about a recession and the problems the national financial leaders have led us to, construction and even real estate sales have come to a screeching halt. We were fortunate that it didn't actually start to effect our company until about eight months or so ago. We had enough projects that were in progress that we were busy until late last year. Its quite a different story now. It seems the only new construction going on in Central Florida is commercial for the most part. Even with those new contracts, the lending institutions have put such tight restrictions and requirements on anyone trying to get a construction or equity loan that its almost impossible. I'm keeping a positive attitude, which is hard at times. I would never have imagined that our company would be in the position we are faced with now. The construction industry was the leading industry in our area for years and now there are so many people out of work and could lose everything they've worked so hard for. I took it for granted that it would always be here. Its amazing how quickly things can change.

Mar 24, 2008

Easter Weekend Wrap Up

My weekend got off to a great start on Friday when I ended up only having to work for a few hours. I was home by noon and it was such a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly, so I went home, opened up all the windows and doors and let all the fresh air into the house. I have a magnolia tree in my front yard that is bursting with blooms so my entire house was smelling so good! On Saturday I went to the bookstore and picked up a couple books that are on my TBR list. The first one is WHILE EUROPE SLEPT by Bruce Bawer. Its about radical Islam and its affect on Europe. I've heard alot about this book and its content is so important to what is happening in the world today. It goes hand in hand with another book I'm reading called INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Muslim woman who has been speaking out against radical Islam for years. She has had her life threatened more than once for her actions, not to mention her friend murdered for working with her on a documentary called Submission. The other book I picked up is a novel by Sara Gruen called WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. Its a story told by an old man who lives in a nursing home who recounts his journey thru life as he works with a circus and the life that he leads in that world.

Sunday I went to church and after not going for 3 weeks because of my foot being messed up, it was nice to get back. Our pastor, Mark, is so excited about spreading the Word of God that he makes it interesting and fun. He always has a funny story to relate to the message he is sending. I had a really nice Easter dinner with my parents afterward and spent the afternoon at their house. It was a very relaxing weekend. I got to spend alot of time reading, which I love!

Mar 23, 2008

Book Review: Snow Flower & the Secret Fan

What an amazing story! I really enjoyed the characters as they moved thru the years. It was interesting to me that early in life women in this culture were considered less than an animal as far as importance, but when they were older or became ill, how the husbands became so upset and sat by their sides. They received little or no respect until they were old or near death. The story also speaks to the power of friendship and how easily things can be misunderstood and the consequences of ones actions. Lily spent so many years of her later life being angry at Snow Flower over a misunderstanding and had to live with that for her remaining days. Its ok to encourage someone to do better or try harder, but sometimes you have to accept things the way they are because you may not know the extent of what is happening in that other persons life. This is a fantastic book that I am very glad I took the time to read.

Mar 17, 2008

Happy St. Patricks Day!

People always seem to be in a good mood on Saint Patricks Day. I don't know if its all the green beer or knowing that spring is here. For me, its doubly nice because its my birthday! One thing about having your birthday on St. Patricks Day is that there is always a party somewhere. Just make sure to wear something green or you'll get pinched! My parents came over last week and brought my present early. It was actually more from my Dad. He is very crafty and loves to build things. Presents from him are always very special because you know he made them and it is very meaningful. This year he made a table for my living room that matches all my other furniture with a slide-out for a place for drinks. It has a small shelf on one side and a closed compartment with a door on the front. And he also gave me a lamp to read by. He calls this my reading table. It matches the other pieces he's made previously, which includes an entry table and a matching framed mirror that sits in my foyer. I'll get some photographs posted in the coming days. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Mar 14, 2008

Borrow or Buy

I've been thinking lately about borrowing books from the library versus buying my own copies. Its alot cheaper to borrow them, especially if you're not sure you're going to like the book or not. But there are time when I've read a really good book that I had on loan and ended up wishing I'd bought it. Perfect example, THE KITE RUNNER. I'm now on a mission to find a good used copy of that one. My aunt told me about a website called Alibris that sells used books. Its a great site and even though I personally haven't bought from them, my aunt has and she has been pleased so far. But that brings up another dilemma: when buying a book do I just buy the softcover or splurge and get the hardcover? I actually prefer the softcover version (the over-sized paperback) because they are easier to handle and they fit in my purse if I want to tote it with me. However, the hardbacks look so nice on my book shelf. I know it shouldn't matter, but little things like that bother me. Anyone else have any thoughts about this?

Mar 13, 2008

On The Mend

I was finally able to put a shoe on my foot that I crammed into the corner of a wall a few weeks ago. I've been hobbling around with one of those boot-things that looks like a wierd sandal. It looked odd, but was a life saver! I can't lace the shoe up or bend my toes too much, but at least I feel halfway normal now. I think a few more weeks and I might be able to ditch the sneakers and get back to my shoes! (I'm not a sneaker-wearer).

I made a trip to the library today to pick up a copy of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, that I've been waiting on for over a month!!! I'm so excited to get started on this book. I've been at my office working today and I keep seeing the book laying on my desk and its killing me not to be able to read it! Is it 5:00 yet???

Mar 9, 2008

What's Cookin?

Today I tried a recipe from Robin Miller's show on the FoodNetwork. I haven't made any of her dishes yet and this one looked pretty tasty. It was the Spicy Wok Seared Shrimp. And WOW, was it spicy! The recipe was very simple and quick to make and the overall outcome was pretty good, but there are some adjustments I'll make the next time I prepare this dish. I'll definetly be using half the amount of red pepper and also cut back a little on the ginger. The original recipe didn't call for any veggies, but because I can't eat anything without a veggie, I put brocolli, water chestnuts, carrots, etc in mine to 'kick it up a notch'. I would recommend this recipe, because there is so much you can do to it to make it your own.

Mar 7, 2008

My American Idol Pick

I normally don't get into American Idol until it gets closer to the finals, but this year, the talent has gotten better. At first, I thought the girls were going to run away with it, but after a few weeks, I've changed my mind. I think the boys have the upper hand. One in particular has really impressed me. And he happens to be the youngest contestant. His name is David Archuleta and he is 17 yrs old. But he's been singing since he was little. He has a wonderful, full voice and he sings with such ease. Last week he sang his own arrangement of John Lennon's Imagine and blew everyone away. It was amazing! Click here to see the video of it on youtube.

Mar 4, 2008

Book Review: The Kite Runner

I know I'm way behind everyone else who has already read this book, but I still get to put my two cents in, right?? What a wonderful book this is! Probably the best story I've read in a very long time, maybe ever. I love the way Khaled Hosseini writes with such simple descriptions and flowing words. From the very beginning I could picture the surroundings and all of the characters in my minds eye. It was all so easy to imagine. Amir, Hassan and Baba were so vivid in my mind they felt like real people to me instantly. Even though this story is so heart wrenching, I didn't want to put it down. I read through my tears during the second half of the story. This book has affected me like no other. I will never think of Afghanistan and its people the same way again. And I will always think of Hassan and Sohrab when I see kites flying in the wind.

Mar 1, 2008


I had such high hopes for this weekend . . . first after the usual Saturday morning housecleaning and laundry I was looking forward to working outside in my yard tearing out an old flower bed that has completely taken over the west side of my house. All of that came to a screeching halt last nite when I jacked up my right foot by ramming it into the corner basebooard while attempting to answer the phone. Its bad enough I did this to myself, but the person on the other end of the line was a telemarketer!!!!! I was in so much pain, I couldn't even cuss them out! Because of the retinal disease I have, sometimes my eyes work against me instead of for me, as was the case last nite. I haven't felt pain like that in a long time. At first, I thought I broke two of my toes, however, after the pain subsided a bit, I've determined that their not broken, just jammed up into the ball of my foot! Needless to say, there will be no working outside for me, or mopping or vaccuuming either. I'll be riding the couch with my foot propped up while taking many extra strength pain relievers!