Life Is Good

Life Is Good

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice

The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice by Allen Say

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this in a day--it's interesting, the writing is good, I liked the protagonist but I never felt strongly connected. I guess my own personal views got in the way of accepting his choices. I went into this book really wanting to know more about Japan right after WWII but the book didn't give me enough.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Stew Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

Harvest Stew Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

I made this for a progressive dinner party on Saturday and I got rave reviews. You know they like it when you hear from those not at the dinner that they want the recipe too. I used fresh basil and sage from my garden instead of rosemary and rubbed sage. I also served this with multi grain whole wheat bread and it was perfect for an October evening. (click on the link above the pic for the recipe)

The leftovers we had for Sunday dinner yesterday and it was just as good the next day. I also tried to get my family and friends to guess the secret ingredient (apples)--no one was able to guess. Try offering a reward and see if anybody can get it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review

I really really liked this book. I would have given it five starts except I reserve 5 stars for classics and for books I think everyone should read. This book had some REALLY gritty parts which some of you might not like.

The female protagonist is strong and vulnerable and really quirky. The male protagonist is real. The story is woven between the two and comes together nicely. I liked too how they tied up both story lines and didn't leave me hanging on the stories although it does on the character story line.

I will definitely read books two and three. I'm only sorry that Stieg Larsson won't be writing lots more.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dead Lift ARC

This is a quick and entertaining detective read. The story actually had a lot less to do with the plastic surgery world which is what pulled me in from the description but I stayed with it because I really liked the story line. I really like the protagonist, Emily--she's real and she's not a seasoned investigative professional which gives her a different spin than all the others out there. I'll look for more novels by this author.

Friday, September 24, 2010


From my daughter Leisy in Toledo OH:

Have I mentioned that I have an unhealthy infatuation with "Groupon"?  The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is the new day's deal.  Sometimes I'll even get up at midnight to see what it is!

A few weeks ago we purchased a family pass to the African Wildlife Safari Park in Port Clinton for a mere ten bucks.  It's the best ten bucks we've spent in a long time. I would even venture to say that the craziness we experienced would have been worth FULL price had we paid it.  And I rarely think anything is worth full asking price!

I took hundreds of pictures- literally.  I've included a small (comparatively) smattering of them.  I hope that you they paint a small picture of the joy we experienced.  

Of all the pictures I took, this is possibly my favorite. It describes our day perfectly.  A mix of terror, amazement, and stupefaction combined with pure amusement (kent and I were amused anyway!). 
This one tells the story, too.

As soon as we entered the safari gates (think tall giant reinforced gates like those on Jurassic park!!) we were literally AMBUSHED by the most ridiculous herd of female elk you've ever seen.  Holy Smokes.  They need to have some warning that informs you to NOT unroll ALL four of your windows at once. We seriously were under attack from every side.  The kids were SOBBING.
Kent and I were beside ourselves laughing. We couldn't roll up any windows.  We couldn't drive forward or back because we were surrounded and we were all being squished.  I'll be honest- I usually laugh really hard when I shouldn't.  This was one of those times. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't quite terrified myself.

Somehow I pushed giant elk heads out of the car while Kent tried his best to inch forward and inch the widows up.  After a few minutes of terror- we got passed the 'elk zone'.

Next came the little deer looking critters.  They are all from Africa so I'm assuming they aren't deer- but we'll call them that to make things easier.  These little guys were really cute and far less combative.  They loved nibbling on the free pellets we got to hand out.  They waited their turn and didn't try to steal fingers.

Ike definitely enjoyed these guys the most.  I think it helped that they were too small to fit entire body segments in our car.  Some of them could barely reach the windows.
Next came the llamas and alpacas. Or at least what looked like llamas and alpacas.They were nice- but Zeb was still scared by the elk behavior and didn't want any more animals in the car. He was full of all sorts of requests.   "Would you please just put up my window, dad?"  "can we please just go to the zoo instead, dad?"  "I'm all finished with the African Safari now, dad"

This guy was Kent's favorite. 

We quickly entered another danger zone.  All sorts of animals with really large horns and really big bodies. Buffaloes/bison, these giant things that looked like texas longhorns, and some unidentified antlered creature.

We were worried that this guy was going to damage the car. I bet his horn span was six feet.

And the buffalo/bison were just humongous.  When we went around a second time we made sure to keep our windows closed around these guys.  They were just too big and could have literally picked up our car.

They had carrots you could buy to feed the animals- but they were priced like gold.  Luckily I'd read reviews ahead of time and we'd come prepared with our own bags of carrots.
I'm really glad we did bring our own carrots- because they saved the best animals (the giraffes) for last and they would ONLY come to your car for carrots. They wouldn't take the pellets.
I could not believe how close we could be to the giraffes. They were AMAZING and SO BIG!!  This guy was trying to eat my camera.
Both boys actually really loved the giraffes until this one tried to lick zeb's stomach. He was all smiles until that tongue went crazy.
 He was really just trying to get the carrot- but Zeb was too scared to figure out that he just needed to let it go.
here's a shot of the giraffe coming in past me in the front seat to get a carrot from Kent. Check out that tongue!!  I was close enough to see the saliva.
and check out the eyelashes.  These creatures are really really amazing.  And so so big.
 Our afternoon was so much fun.  I'm pretty sure Zeb will remember it forever.  We figure since he's three- and the day was so eventful/traumatic/fun- it will probably be one of his first good memories :)
Our car is now in desperate need of a car wash and vacuum but we all had such a blast. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

Monday, September 20, 2010

For the Sherlock and Anglophile Fans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This started out slow (I got the book at BEA back in May and started it then)but a few chapters in it picked up speed. I enjoyed the read and really enjoyed what I learned about Arthur Conan Doyle. The one thing I didn't like was the fact that we never found out WHY the murderer committed the murders. And in some places it was too convenient and in other places it was too predictable.

I feel myself leaning towards 3 1/2 stars but I did enjoy the story and the history.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 03, 2010

Milly and Henry

This is ADORABLE! I miss Henry and Milly (whoever would have thought?). This is for sure one way to get us to come see you soon or pay to bring them back here. Hello Henry! Hello Milly! Nannie Annie and Grumpa miss you.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Memories

Ahhhh, the last day of summer: August 31. School started on the 25th for Daysa, we've attended two high school football games already, Taylor and Laney and kids left on the 21, August 28 I taught my first 7H class of the semester, Phil and I celebrated another anniversary, attended a H.S. reunion, and it's dark by 8:30 now.

Anyway, here are a few pics worth sharing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Deadly Animals (Come to Australia)

So we're seriously considering visiting Australia next March. This makes me a wee bit nervous.
Should we stay or should we go? Thanks Dave--does this mean you want us to join you down under or you're trying to scare us away?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Read it and loved it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There were times in the book I was slightly bored but I loved the ending--it wasn't all neatly tied up and sweet and syrupy which is one of the things I love about the series. I love that Katniss is a real girl with real conflicting emotions. She's not flat and she's not a super hero.

It is a tear jerker in some places.

So all in all, the book lived up to expectation.

Daysa, my 16 year old started it yesterday and she'll probably be done today--she says she loves it.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charlotte Figg

This is a delightful and sweet book and totally a chick book. I felt like I personally got to know Charlotte and her neighbors. I enjoyed watching Charlote "grow up" spiritually and emotionally.
 If you're looking for a nice story with nice people and a nice ending with a good message, this is the book.

Monday, August 09, 2010

ARC #4

  RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I put off reading this book Room: A Novel since I knew what the premise of it is but finally I needed a book to read and so I dove in and now I'm glad I waited so I could thoroughly savor it.

I wavered back and forth on whether or not to give this 4 or 5 stars and then I realized that this book definitely passes my acid test. I didn't read this all at one sitting--it took me a week to get through this book but it's because it was uncomfortable and awkward and painful and poignant and beautifully written.

I found myself thinking about Jack and Ma at random times throughout the week. I thought about what I would do, what Ma should do, what's going to happen when Jack grows up.

I highly recommend this book. It would be a fabulous book club book because of the discussions it would invoke. And I predict that this book will be made into a movie.

Read it and if you disagree, I'd love to talk about it just because that's the kind of book this is. It will create discussions.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Jessica's "Daily Affirmation"

We should all start our day this way--go Jessica! I'd like to see where Jessica is in 20 years. Probably happy and healthy.

My daily affirmation: I like my life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Children's Book Review--Sneaky Sheep

I'm always on the lookout for colorful and cheery children's books to give as gifts to Phil's grandchildren and to supply my library when they come to visit. The title of this book really caught my eye. I loved the cover and the title--very catching. The illustrations were fun and colorful and the humor is appealing to both kids and adults but I have to admit I didn't like the message.

It seems to me that we should encourage our children to seek out new things and the Sneaky Sheep wanted to do that but Murphy told them to never leave the meadow. Now I understand you want to explain life's dangers to children so they don't do anything stupid but more importantly I think it's our role to encourage children to look outside their comfort zone and try new things (food, friends, games) and visit new places.
This book is perfect for the child who keeps wandering off but it is not a good message for the nervous and shy child.

Love the pictures, didn't care for the message. I give this two stars our of four.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When the Howells get together...

Cheesy cousins! This is what makes family so much fun.

I post this because I know Daysa never looks at my blog.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

SUMMER is finally here

With the long cool June, rainy and cold Orem Summerfest, and getting ready for Girls Camp, I feel like I haven't really gotten into summer yet but we have been busy. But now, it's here. And I can relax and enjoy it.

We've already enjoyed a great family get together last Sunday to celebrate Steve and Hailey Leavitt's PhD and getting a real job in Chicago, Jason and Shannon's acceptance to Med School in Denver, and Leisy and Kent's visit to Utah.

We had a big crowd: Nick, Donna, Tanner, Shannon, Jason, Janna, K'Annie, and Penny Mills; Elaine, Mark, Ellen, Evan, Aaron, and Justin Jaynes (and Justin's homing pigeon which he released in honor of Independence Day); Rosemary McKee; Kent, Leisy, Zeb, and Ike Miller; Steve, Hailey, Jack, and Griff Leavitt; and of course, Phil, Daysa, and me. I love that back patio! And we so missed Laney and fam! Hopefully we can get to see them soon.

On June 26th we enjoyed Lehi Roundup Days parade and rodeo.

Here's Daysa with her varsity cheer partners (she's in the center).

Girls Camp in Heber Valley was June 28-July 1 and I am SO glad that's over. We camped in tents, had no electricity, cooked over a propane grill, and had to hike to the bathrooms. Let's NOT do that again.

We had such a great visit with Leisy, Kent, and boys. We went to the rodeo, Leisy spent a day at Girls Camp with me, we went to see How To Train Your Dragon.

And then we just did regular family stuff. The time went by WAY too fast.
We are sorry that our German friend, Lisa, was not able to join us this summer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her and her mother. Lisa, our home is always open to you whenever you can come.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Phil has another grandbaby!

These are the details thus far. We'll post more as Laney tells us more. From Laney:

Here I am. I started that post earlier this afternoon, and now it's 9 in the evening. I am sitting here in the hospital with a new baby- actually she is not with me, she is in the nursery. We haven't seen her since 5:30 (it's 9) they have to do some blood work and tests and such because she was born with a knot in her cord. They say it probably happened quite a while ago when she was small enough to swim circles in my belly. I think their concern is that she may have missed out on some nutrients or something. Anyway- she is completely healthy and had an apgar score of 9. Here are some pictures: (she doesn't have a name yet. It's narrowed down to Milly or Scout) We'll see what we feel when we get to spend some time with her. We will post again soon with more details and stories! I want to go to sleep.

Here is the knot in the cord. The doctors and nurses thought it was pretty cool. I guess it isn't all that common.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BEA Book #4

I picked up this book at BEA and got the author's autograph. This is a very sweet story and a story that you're never too old for changes. I enjoyed the metamorphosis of the bristly old English major. Thoroughly enjoyable read.


To all my former UVU students, Sunday School and YW students, people I worked with on 7Habits Teens and 6 Decisions:

I'm working on a new book project at FC. I need stories of how you were proactive in high school or college. Send me your stories (short: 1-3 paragraphs) and you'll have a chance to have it published in our 7Habits for College Students textbook--and we'll include your name if you like.

You can send the stories to my email ( or post them in the comment line here.

Just for submitting a story we'll send you a thank you gift!

Monday, June 14, 2010


This is a YA thriller novel. It was mildly entertaining and an easy read. I really like the premise of the book but I felt that it moved too slowly and the "unexpected twist" at the end was not all that unexpected and I felt unsatisfied at the end of this book.

Daysa and I discussed it after she finished it and she said she felt the same way. We've now loaned it to Metta. We'll see what she thinks.

I must say though that I like that this book's message is that there are consequences for going over your limit. That's a message that lots of parents should hear (if it's not too late already!).

Monday, June 07, 2010

ARC #2

 The American Painter Emma Dial: A Novel by Samantha Peale

View all my reviews >>

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Just didn't love it. I can't (and don't want to) relate to Emma. But I do want to broaden my horizons and understand or see how others live and work and so I finished the book.

I can relate to doing what you're passionate about but I don't understand a life dedicated solely to pursuing only one vision to the exclusion of family and security--but that's what makes an artist an artist and I'm not an artist. I'm a regular people--one of the regular people that make the world go round while artists inspire and help us see the world differently.

I don't think I'll be a fan on the HBO series in consideration.

I'm giving the book away. The first one to respond can have it.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

First Finished ARC from BEA

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book will be released in August 2010. It's an ARC I picked up at BEA and I promised that I would write a review.

Gail's style of writing invites you in to her inner circle and wraps you in a visual and sensual cocoon. From the title to the end I was emotionally and visually tied to these best friends. This book passes my acid test.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BEA 2010: Kids Galleys to Grab

I can't wait! Book Expo America is my favorite book fair of all and it's May 24-27 year in NYC. This year will be even more special since I get to spend the weekend with Henry before I hit NYC.

If you see anything (check out the link: BEA 2010: Kids' Galleys to Grab) you want me to grab then post a comment below.

Posted using ShareThis

I'll post pix and reviews when I return.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm not really all that but it's nice to hear

Happy Mother's Day to Me
I only wish I'd had my mother here on Mother's Day so I could tell her how much I love and appreciate all she did for me.
Thanks Leisy for the sentiments. You and your sisters are my heroes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010
ode to my mum from Leisy Oswald Miller

I've always been surrounded by many wonderful moms. I have the most amazing aunts, the greatest grandmas, the superest sister moms, and the best mother in law. But I have to say that it's my mum- the real deal- Nannie Annie- who is my very very favorite. She is the very very best. She is the most amazing. She is super mom. She's better than all the rest of the moms in the world.

And here's the proof! :) Her four amazing, beautiful, and wonderful daughters. We are who she has made us. We are who she has taught us to be. We are great because of her example, her love, and her leadership.
Thanks, mum for your friendship and your "momness". It is unique and perfect. Just take a look at all you've done!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Telephone Remake

Enjoy! This made me laugh out loud. Let's support our troops--look at their good work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A must-read for every teacher and leader

For everyone who is a teacher--at work, at home, in your community, you must read this book. It is inspiring and uplifting and teaches through example about how you too can be a great leader as a teacher. And you can help us raise funds for breast cancer research.

The Seven Laws of Learning draws from the examples of Nelson Mandela, Friedrich Fröbel, Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, Eva Perón, Jesus, William Wilberforce, Winston Churchill and others in history and our own day who were great teachers. It identifies principles of effective teaching these leaders used, and shows how those principles can make us better leaders, teachers, and mentors.

From this book, you will learn:
  • How teaching and leading with illustrative Stories and Metaphors make learning engaging and interesting, and help the message stick.
  • Why our Perceptions (the way we see things) and those of the people we lead profoundly influence our actions and determine whether or not the results we get will meet our needs over time.
  • That there is a Natural Way we all learn, and how the most effective teachers and leaders throughout history have used that natural way in their leadership.
These principles form the basis of The Seven Laws of Learning:
  • Law One – We Are All Born to Learn. People are genetically wired wants to learn, and effective leaders teach and communicate in ways that bring them into learning experiences.
  • Law Two – You Never Know When Learning Will Occur. Much learning takes place outside the classroom or training venue. Confucius and other great teachers brought nature, history and everyday life into teaching experiences that produced more effective learning.
  • Law Three – You Learn by Connecting. The most effective teaching comes when leaders connect with those they lead, and also facilitate connections among the group as well.
  • Law Four – We All Learn Differently. Your personally preferred learning style may not work for everyone. Effective teaching happens when the different learning styles of all involved are considered.
  • Law Five – Connections Come Through Storytelling. Stories engage everyone in a learning experience. Knowing how to tell great stories is foundational to your ability to engage those you lead.
  • Law Six – Learning is Both an Emotional and an Intellectual Experience. The emotional attachment to a leader acts like a door to the mind and increases the flow of information.
  • Law Seven – Learning Can Change Lives. We retain what we learn through a process known as imprinting. Great teachers aid imprinting through repetition and significant emotional experiences.
A portion of the proceeds of every copy of this book sold in May will be donated to support breast cancer research. Please help us sell 1000 copies before May 31, 2010.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nutty for Nutella

I LOVE anything with nuts. No, I mean really. You don't understand but I am nuts about nuts. I can't think of  a nut I don't like.  And I like chocolate--I don't love American chocolate but I do LOVE European chocolate and nuts together. Thus this post about Nutella.

And some of this may be because I'm supposed to be in Europe right now but am not because of a sky full of volcanic ash. (Whoever would have thought that someday I would be saying that?)  But back to chocolate and nuts--when I go to Europe I  load up on real chocolate with hazelnuts (my favorites).

And there seems to be a sudden craze about Nutella (of which both my twins seem to be participating in). If you've never tried Nutella you've got to and then join the fan club.

Check out the Nutella site and check back here for my Nutella recipe. I'm going home tonight to experiment.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Favorite Dinner Recipe


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) sliced peaches, undrained
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • Hot cooked rice, optional


  • In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil and butter; remove and keep warm. Stir in the peaches with juice, brown sugar, orange juice and soup mix to the skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat; return chicken to the pan.
  • Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 170°. Serve over rice if desired. Yield: 4 servings.
Peachy Chicken published in Taste of Home April/May 2005, p7

Monday, April 12, 2010

BLATANT PLUG ALERT! FranklinCovey IPhone App

Here's an opportunity for you to try out a new FranklinCovey tool: the Great Career App.

It's based on Covey's new book, Great Work Great Career. The book changed how I look at my job and my life's mission and how I tie it all together.

On April 13 it's only $2.99.

And don't forget to plug me in as a member of your community. I'd love your feedback on the book and the app!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My friend's new book

I'm blatantly promoting my friend's new book "My Orange Duffel Bag." If you've got an older teen this is a great book to help them realize their dreams and goals. From a parent's perspective I like this book because it helps my own 15 year old understand that her life (and her parents) is pretty darn good compared to the life Sam had growing up.

I highly recommend this book. It's a great book too for all teens but it's a homerun for the teen who isn't a reader. The book is graphically beautiful. Your teen will want to make this their own--it's almost a journaling experience.

Anyway, check it out

Book Description:
In this graphic mini-memoir combined with transformational self-help, Sam Bracken shares his harrowing story of growing up in a family best described as a whacked-out version of The Brady Bunch.
Despite being abandoned at age 15 and suffering unspeakable abuse, Sam triumphed over the odds and offers a message of hope, love and forgiveness.

See Sam's interview on

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monetizing my blog

I am no expert  but everybody seems to be doing it so here goes. Plug in a product name and you'll be linked directly to Amazon. I am a big time Amazon user and it's almost as indispensable to me as Google. I use Amazon mostly for books and audios but I'm moving my life to the Frugal Zone what with Obama-care looming in our future. (Now you know my politics but I can't help feeling like we're going to hell in a handbasket and we're going there fast.)

Oh and another kick I'm on. I experimented with my Mrs. Fields cookie recipe last night and substitued half of the butter with blueberry and spinach puree, added a scoop of flax, and mix my flour with half whole wheat and half white.  I also made only a half recipe.

2 c. butter (half blueberry/spinach puree)
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. white sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 c. oat bran (I used oatmeal)
5 c. flour (less 1 scoop and I added 1 scoop ground flax)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
Add last: 2 (12 oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
Cream first 5 ingredients until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are blended. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-12 minutes. Do not overbake.

Phil and Daysa were gone last night so I tested them on the neighbor kids and I got RAVE reviews. They all said they loved them and I should make more. Try it and tell me what you think.

P.S. The cookies do have a green tint to them.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


The Good: Where I Live

This is looking out my window as I sit at the computer.

The Bad: Yesterday's Weather

Backyard shot

The Ugly: Driving to Work in it

Out the front door

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trip to Asia

I'm finally getting around to publishing a few pictures from my trip to Taipei, Tokyo, and Seoul. It was a very good business trip and I love the people of Asia.

This is looking out my room window in Taipei. That is the One Oh One building (once the tallest building in the world).

Outside the LDS chapel in Tokyo.

Thank you Martini family for taking me to church with you and going out of your way to show me the Tokyo Temple.

Folowing are a couple of pictures of the historic Korean Palace grounds in the center of Seoul. Sorry, I don't remember the name. It was VERY cold in Seoul and and it was hard to take pictures because my hands were so cold but I think I got a few good ones.

Below: This is where we had our business meeting. This is very typical to sit on the floor (and remember you take your shoes off so don't have holes in your stockings like I did) and there is always tea and cookies.

Here I am in the courtyard of the publishing house Gimm-Young. This is my good friend Youjeong.

It was a wonderful trip. Thank you to my hosts Dr. Ken Gimm and his lovely wife. I definitely want to return (but not in January).

My Family

My Family
Christmas in OH

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home
Harvest 2015