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Greetings, dear reader! Today, I want to share my Clean 20 results with you. On 01 June, I started cleaning up my diet using The Clean 20 by Dr. Ian K. Smith as a guide. The goal for the 20 days of the plan was not to lose weight, but rather to clean up my eating habits by eliminating added sugar, fried and processed foods, and soda while implementing healthier choices (more fruits and veggies) and increasing water intake.

June has been a busy month for me, and it probably was not the most ideal month to start something new. However, I was not starting a diet. I was starting a lifestyle change to clean up my diet and get moving again. I was NOT perfect by any stretch of the imagination. During my 20 days, I had a colonoscopy, attended an engagement party, ate lunch with a friend, attended a weekend scrapbooking event, and visited New York City for a few days. The odds of me spending 20 days in a row at home are slim to none. The key is to move daily, make healthy food choices, eat in moderation, and drink plenty of water.

Kat’s Clean 20 Report Card

  • No alcohol
  • No soda (except 2 oz of Ginger Ale on flight to NOLA)
  • No added sugar/sugary foods (except Strawberry Shake/Vanilla Bean Cone in NYC; syrup on pancakes from Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC)
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No juice with added sugar
  • No MSG
  • No fried foods (except french fries at Natural History Museum in NYC)
  • No white flour (except pancakes from Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC)
  • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (did NOT follow this for mayo/ketchup, but ate both sparingly)
  • No salad dressings loaded with sugar
  • Ate more fruits and veggies
  • Ate in moderation
  • Ate healthy snacks
  • Cut way down on processed foods
  • Drank more water (could still drink a whole lot more)

As for exercise, I have not started the Beachbody on Demand workouts, and I am not walking daily, yet. I walked 13 of the 20 days. Andrew and I walked everywhere in New York City. On Friday, 17 June, we walked 30,224 steps! On that day, we visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and that evening we walked to and from the theatre to see The Lion King. I love walking! It is a wonderful way to stay fit, come up with ideas, and enjoy your surroundings. I am not quite sure why I have not started working out with Beachbody on Demand. I should have started the Clean Week (a 7-day program) by today, so I could consistently complete the week before getting my implant that is scheduled for next Wednesday, but I literally have NO desire to do it. I know I will like it. Once I get started, I know I will use the heck out of it.

Last, but not least, I did lose a couple of pounds even though that was not my intention. Yesterday morning, I weighed 159.5 pounds for a total loss of 2.5 pounds. Overall, I am feeling a little better. I am not craving soda or sugary treats. Funnily enough, I AM craving more of a routine, and that may be the underlying factor as to why I cannot get myself to start working out or walking daily. June has been a whirlwind of activity, and I am loving every minute of it. Nonetheless, I am looking foward to a calmer July and a chance to catch my breath.

So, what’s next? I will continue following the Clean 20 guidelines with a bit more flexibility. I may indulge in an adult beverage this weekend or the next (4th of July). Ideally, I want to start Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith, but that will depend on any food/exercise restrictions I may be given following my oral surgical procedure next week. Clean & Lean is a 30-day program that blends the Clean 20 guidelines with intermittent fasting. Regardless, I must continue going forward with making good food choices, drinking lots of water, and moving daily. Happiness!

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”      ~ Jack Penn

Note: Photo at top – I took this photo (Friday) of my breakfast at Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side in New York. I ordered the Spinach & Goat Cheese Omelette served with local greens and toast. I did not get the toast, but ended up snagging a piece of Andrew’s wheat toast. It was a healthy, yummy breakfast.

Astronomically speaking, today marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere which means it is the first day of summer. On this day, we will experience the longest duration of sunlight because the Sun reachest its highest point in the sky. I love the summertime, but I am not a fan of extreme heat. In my neck of the woods, it is as hot as Hades! To beat the heat, I created a Summer Fun List which is already in full swing. As you know, dear reader, I love a list, especially a list with activities that brings me joy.

The folks over at It’s A Charming Life, Lindsay and Jonas, created a list of summer activities for a calm and relaxing summer which I have tacked onto my summer fun list for an even more joyful experience this season. I started following Lindsay and Jonas last summer and recently became a patron of theirs on Patreon. I love their simple lifestyle in the Sleepy Hollow countryside.

Summertime is a wonderful time to go on vacation, get together with family and friends, or get physically fit; however, it is also the perfect time to slow down and enjoy the lazy days of the summer season.

I encourage you, dear reader, to watch Lindsay and Jonas’s short video, “10 Relaxing Ways To Enjoy Summer | Slow Living Bucket List” for some ideas of how to have a joyfully relaxing summer.

The sun is blazing, the birds are chirping, and the flowers are lifting their faces up towards the sky. Today is the first day of summer, and I am filled with delight at the prospect of what this new day will bring my way. What are your summer plans, dear reader? Happiness!

“In summer, the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams

Note: Photo at the top is by Pixabay on Pexels.com.

As I predicted, May was a zomberific reading month for me! Since May is Zombie Awareness Month, every book I chose to read this month included zombies or the resurrected dead. I completed four books in the month of May, and as of today, I am nine books ahead of schedule. Wowzer!

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Our book club selection for May also counts as my nonfiction read for the month. The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis is about real zombis (Haitian French spelling), not the ones you might expect to see on an episode of The Walking Dead. Wade Davis, a Harvard scientist, traveled to Haiti for the purposes of medical science, investigating a powerful drug that had the capability of turning people into zombis. Through his investigation of the poisons and the zombification of Clairvius Narcisse, he discovered the secret societies of Haitian voodoo and their cultural beliefs.

While I think Davis’s anthropological experience in Haiti is fascinating, I feel there were a few parts of the book that dragged on a bit too long. I enjoyed learning about the secret societies of Haiti, their role in zombification, the case studies of people turned into zombis, as well as Zora Neale Hurston’s adventurous fieldwork in Haiti. Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and a filmmaker. She is the author of one of my favorite books, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I knew she was an anthropologist; however, I had never read anything about her in that role. What a pleasant surprise! I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but it feels more like 3.5 stars overall.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read only two zombie books for this challenge. I started the month reading a middle grade book and ended it with a young adult one.

Dead City by James Ponti is the first book in the middle-grade Dead City trilogy. Ponti has created a fresh perspective of the zombie genre. It is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure about a middle-schooler named Molly, who is selected to join an elite group after extensive training to help protect the city from the undead. I enjoyed the characters (especially Molly), the story, and the different zombies. I will definitely read the other two books in the trilogy. I give it 5 stars.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson is the first book in the post-apocalyptic young adult series, The Enemy. Like Dead City, it is fast-paced and action-packed but definitely way more brutal and geared toward an older group of readers. The story takes place in London where adults have been infected with a virus that turns them into cannibalistic zombies. The children, who are left to fend for themselves, must learn how to rely on each other in order to survive against the grownups. There is a substantial assortment of interesting and dynamic characters as well as dark and heartfelt scenes meshed well within a gritty storyline. This book is another 5-star read. I am invested in the characters which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

Year of King

May’s selection was Pet Sematary. The story is about the Creed family, who leave the hustle and bustle of Chicago behind for a simpler life in the sleepy town of Ludlow, Maine. Louis, a doctor, takes a position as director of health services at the University of Maine where he feels sure the demands will be less stressful.

His wife Rachel looks after their new home and two small children, Ellie and Gage. They soon make friends with their elderly neighbors, Jud and Norma Crandall. Jud warns them about the busy highway that runs past their house and is used regularly by speeding trucks. Within a few weeks of getting settled, the family learns about the Pet Sematary behind their home and its significance to the locals in the small town. Soon, tragedy touches the lives of the Creed family, and they are propelled into a nightmare of inexplicable horror.

Pet Sematary is one of my absolute favorite novels by Stephen King. I was thrilled Kelsi wanted to read it for our Year of King project, so I could revisit it for the third time. It is a 5-star read, hands down. The novel is not only dark, atmospheric, creepy, and beautifully written, but also provides a heart-wrenching peek into the effects of grief, guilt, and despair.

There are two movie adaptations of Pet Sematary. Kelsi and I watched both films. Stephen King wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film, so it follows the novel pretty closely. The 2019 film is a different story. I did not care for it for a variety of reasons, especially its ending. Kelsi and I had a terrific conversation about Pet Sematary on May 29th, discussing both the book and the movies. In fact, we had a passionate, but friendly disagreement about the 2019 film. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I have a couple of recommendations for fans of Pet Sematary. The first is Stephen King: Pet Sematary Complete Series BBC Radio drama on YouTube. This radio dramatization was recommended to us by Arlene, one of Kelsi’s Slime and Slashers subscribers. Because of time constraints, I have only listened to about 30 minutes of it but have plans to listen to the rest of it by the end of this month. It is so well-done and worth the listen. In addition, there is an excellent documentary, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, about the making of Pet Sematary (1989) that Kelsi discovered which can now be streamed free on Tubi. Having worked in television production and as a background actor in both film and television, I appreciated learning about the details in the making of Pet Sematary.

June is already underway, dear reader, and I have a stack of great books and two short stories to read this month. I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery for #Read21in21. My book club selection for June is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My nonfiction choice for this month is The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. Kelsi and I will be reading two short stories, “The Mist” and “1408,” for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and both movies on Sunday, 26 June at 2:00 PM CT. June should be another awesome reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

Happy June! Today is the first day of new beginnings, and I am starting the new month with cleaning up my diet. I have been eating pretty crappy lately, and my body is begging me to fuel it with better food choices. So, last week, I pulled out my copy of The Clean 20 by Dr. Ian K. Smith; it will be my guide for the next 20 days.

My colonoscopy is scheduled for this Friday, so I will be prepping for my procedure all day Thursday and a short time Friday morning. Therefore, today is the perfect day for me to start over with a clean plate.

Basically, these are the rules for the next 20 days:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Drink freshly squeezed juice.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
  • Eat dairy foods.
  • Focus on the 20 clean foods.
  • No alcohol
  • No soda
  • No added sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No juice with added sugar
  • No MSG
  • No fried foods
  • No white flour
  • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (there are clean versions in the grocery store)
  • No salad dressings loaded with sugar

The goal is to reset my body by reducing processed foods, reducing unwanted additives, and decreasing added sugars while increasing water intake, increasing fruits and vegetables, and becoming more mindful of the foods fueling my body. As you can see, dear reader, weight loss is not my goal for completing the Clean 20; however, I did weigh myself this morning (162 pounds) as a benchmark. If I lose weight on this clean eating reboot, I will be thrilled, of course. The first time I did this program back in September 2019, I lost 7 pounds.

With that being said, I ate an omelet (two eggs with a tablespoon of 2% milk and a handful of baby spinach) and 1/2 cup of blueberries for breakfast this morning. I used olive oil spray to prepare my omelet. I also had a 12-ounce cup of coffee with a packet of Truvia (natural sweetener), 1/2 tsp of sugar (cut the Truvia aftertaste), and 1 tbsp of half and half. The added sugar is negligible. For my mid-morning snack, I ate cucumber slices (half a cucumber) with 1/4 cup of classic hummus. And, for lunch, I had a salad (spring mix lettuce, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, boiled crawfish tails, and honey roasted pecans with Apple Pecan salad dressing).

As for exercise, I started walking again this morning. My goal is to walk daily for at least 20 minutes. Of course, more is better. I will also get more walking done when I take Comet aka Tooty and Luna out for their walks. Additionally, I joined Beachbody on Demand (online video workouts) yesterday through my friend Kathryn. She is now my Beachbody health coach and will provide me with encouragement and accountability. Kathryn recommended that I start with Clean Week (a 7-day program) which will help me get back into the groove of working out (cardio/strength training). I plan to start that fitness program either Saturday or Sunday, depending on how I feel after my procedure on Friday.

As you know by now, dear reader, I love having a plan. I am excited about eating clean, working out with Beachbody on Demand, and taking my daily walks. Will I be perfect every day? Nope, and that is okay because it is not about being perfect. It is about enjoying life without sacrificing self-care. Happiness!

“The purpose of the Clean 20 is to reintroduce your body to the wonders of clean eating and to give your organs a break from all the processed foods that dominate the choices in our stores and restaurants.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

Today is the last day of May, and it is exciting to think about all of my summer plans spread over the next three months. This will be my first summer in quite some time that I do not have to return to school at the end of July. Oh, what JOY!

June will be packed with plans and procedures. July through Labor Day will afford me more downtime, which will allow for more fun projects to do around the house and to cross items off my 22 for 2022 list. So, here is a little snapshot of what I am planning for this summer.

JUNE

  • Engagement Party for my niece Kaitlyn and her fiancé Marc
  • The Audubon Croppers (TAC) Scrapbooking Event with my scrapbooking gal pals
  • Trip to New York City with Andrew
  • Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to see Hamilton
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (“The Mist” and “1408”)
  • Slasher Movie Marathon with Kelsi

JULY

  • Gardening (front of the house)
  • Sprucing up the Front Porch
  • Home Office Makeover
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (It)

AUGUST

  • Work on my YouTube Channel (hoping to launch after Labor Day)
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (Cujo)
  • Audition for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre

Of course, this list contains the highlights of my summer plans. I will also be reading, blogging, scrapbooking, hanging out with friends and family, going to the movies, and meeting one evening each month with my book club. I am always up for adventures that may spring up throughout the summer.

In addition to having fun this summer, I also have to make time for self-care. I have scheduled two procedures in June: a colonoscopy and an implant to replace the fractured tooth I had pulled back in July 2020. I also need to schedule my mammogram and other doctor appointments between July and Labor Day. While these appointments are not necessarily fun, they are necessary for me to have fun.

Tomorrow starts clean eating and exercising for me. After months of neglect, I hope my body does not go into shock. HA! I want to get back to my daily walking habit. I have missed it immensely and thoroughly enjoy my walks.

Oh, how I am looking forward to this summer! What will your summer look like this year, dear reader? I hope whatever you choose to do, it will include some fun and relaxation. Happiness!

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”          ~ Jeannette Walls

My Daddy and I recently took a road trip to Atlanta (12-16 May) to visit my sister and her family for my niece Emma’s graduation from high school. I have been to Atlanta several times over the last 18 years, but this was the first time I drove there. Taking a road trip with me behind the steering wheel is 100% out of my comfort zone; however, I refuse to let that stop me from going on an adventure. If you remember, dear reader, I drove my Daddy and me to Kentucky to visit my Uncle Manuel back in September 2020. Besides, my Daddy does not like to fly anymore because he always ends up getting sick; therefore, I sucked it up and volunteered to drive us there and back. We left on Thursday, 12 May around 9:00 in the morning. Although driving to Atlanta was a piece of cake, driving through the city of Atlanta is no picnic. The last 15 minutes of our journey was daunting, but we prevailed. I am super happy we made the trip.

We arrived at the Killian homestead around 7:30 p.m. Atlanta time. Atlanta is an hour ahead of Louisiana. We were greeted warmly with smiles, hugs, and BBQ. My last trip to Atlanta was for Emma’s Confirmation back in November 2019. My Daddy’s last trip was Thanksgiving 2021 with Barry, Jr. (my oldest son). We all hung out and caught up for the remainder of the evening. On Friday, Emma and Lee had graduation festivities to attend and my sister had to work, which was great, since I also had to do some work for HGCS. My Daddy binged-watched the Jack Reacher series. Later that evening, since Lee and Emma were attending a graduation party, Rachel ordered Chinese food for us. I finally took a ride in her elevator. It is really cool to have an elevator in your house. We took a ride up to the attic. Instead of a skeleton in the closet, they have a skeleton in the attic.

On Saturday afternoon, Emma and I went shopping for clothes at a boutique called Vestique and book shopping at Barnes and Nobles. Emma is a voracious reader like me. Of course, we could not leave the bookstore without me buying us books and Starbucks. My evening was spent watching a horror movie called The Twin with Emma and her friend Marissa in the home theater. It is even cooler to have a home theater in your house, especially with comfy chairs. Austin does not care for scary movies, so he left quickly after the movie started. HA! A scary dog instead of a scary cat.

Sunday rolled around for the big day, Emma’s high school graduation from Pace Academy. We all woke up early, got dressed, and headed out to Pace Academy’s Sports Complex. It was an outdoor graduation. Thankfully, it had stopped raining before we arrived, and we encountered cooler temps for the majority of the ceremony. My heart swelled with joy watching Emma walk on the field to take her seat among her classmates. I got a little teary-eyed watching her receive her high school diploma. I am proud of my sweet, talented, and beautiful niece who also happens to be my goddaughter. In the fall, she will be attending Santa Clara University in California.

After graduation, we all went to eat lunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in downtown Atlanta. We started off with Cheesesteak Eggrolls and Del’s Deviled Eggs. Rachel and I each got an entree and split them. I ordered Strawberry Cobbler French Toast, and she ordered Braised Shortrib Hash. The food was excellent! Then, we all went back to the house. Emma had two graduation parties to attend (one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Lee helped host the afternoon party. It was nice to just relax after all the graduation festivities, especially with having to drive home early the next morning.

On Monday morning at 6:30 a.m., my Daddy and I said our good-byes to Rachel and Lee, thanked them for their hospitality, and got on the road heading towards Louisiana. I dropped my Daddy off at his house at 1:30 p.m. and arrived back home at 2:30 p.m. Louisiana time. What a wonderful road trip, graduation, and time with family!

The school year officially ended on Friday, 20 May along with my job as the instructional coach at HGCS. The closing of this school year ends a chapter in my work life. Technically, I have retired from the world of elementary education. One would think I was whooping it up as I left the school parking lot; however, I felt exactly the way I always feel on the last day of school – free and thrilled for the onset of summer break. The “whooping it up” will eventually happen, during the last week of July, when all of my teacher friends are going back to school to attend PLC meetings and to get their classrooms ready. I will not only feel relief at that moment in time, but I will also feel excitement and joy because I will be embarking on my next adventure.

My summer break kicks off tomorrow morning, dear reader. I will begin decluttering and organizing my home, starting with my scrapbook room which is a total disaster. Luna is getting spayed on Tuesday and will be out of the house until Wednesday afternoon, so I plan to take advantage of that time to get my scrapbook materials organized and my photos ordered for my annual scrapbooking event that I am attending with my girlfriends in June. I have quite a few activities and appointments scheduled this summer, especially throughout the month of June. I will be making memories, practicing self-care, and preparing for the next chapter of my life. Happiness!

“The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” ~ Alice Cooper

Happy Mother’s Day! I am blessed to be the mother of two young men, Andrew and Barry, Jr., who have not only brought me an overabundance of joy, but also a fair amount of worry and frustration over the years. Thankfully, there has been way more joy than worry. I love my boys immensely!

Motherhood can be a wonderful experience; however, it can also be nerve-racking and exhausting at times. Despite the lack of sleep during their baby years and teenage years (especially when they start driving), the worry over their well-being, and the heartache you feel when they are hurting (physically or emotionally), it is all worth it. Motherhood is one of my toughest roles, but it is also my most fulfilling one, and I would not trade it for anything. Motherhood looks differently for everyone. It is not a one type fits all kind of role. Whether you happen to be the mother of humans, fur babies, a creative endeavor, or a business, dear reader, this is your day to celebrate your path to motherhood.

Yesterday, we hosted a crawfish boil with a few of our friends and family. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day. Barry, Sr., along with my boys and our neighbor John, boiled the crawfish. The mudbugs were spicy good! We had a great deal to celebrate – Helen moving back to Louisiana, Claire passing her Praxis exam, mothers, friendship, life in general. Unfortunately, my momma was unable to attend; however, we did send my Daddy home with flowers, crawfish, and dessert for her. Much gratitude to Helen who took the pictures of our day together.

As you know, dear reader, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and I am completely engrossed in all things related to zombies. Currently, I am obsessed with All of Us Are Dead, the South Korean coming-of-age tv series streaming on Netflix. WOWZER! I think it is AMAZING. Basically, there is a zombie virus outbreak at a high school with a group of teenagers trapped in the school, fighting for survival. If anyone or anything is bitten by an infected person or animal, the virus works insanely fast, turning them into raging, rabid zombies. It is definitely worth a watch for zombie lovers.

Well, it is time for this zombie lover to get on with her day. It will be a low-key kind of day. Since my mom and I cannot get together today, we will plan a mother-daughter outing at a later date. As for my plans for today, I will be hanging out at home with my guys and fur babies, relaxing, and perhaps, watching some more All of Us Are Dead with the hubster. Blessings to all the women out there who assume the role of mom. Big hugs to those of you who can no longer spend the day with your mother. Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead. Happiness!

“We are born of love; love is our mother.” ~ Rumi

What a gratifying reading month April was for me! I continue to choose stellar stories, making my bookish adventure this year all the more joyful. I completed eight books in the month of April, and as of today, I am eight books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter) for my April nonfiction selection. I had been wanting to read this book ever since Gretchen Rubin recommended it. At the library book sale, I attended with Michelle back in March, I snagged a copy for two bucks. Twyla Tharp is a dancer and one of the greatest choreographers in America who has created a plethora of dances since her career began in 1965. She has also received many awards and recognition for her contribution to the world of ballet. While many of her ideas about developing a creative habit stem from her experience as a dancer and choreographer, she has written this book for anyone who is pursuing a creative life as well as anyone who chooses a more traditional career path. Each chapter focuses on lessons Tharp has learned over her thirty-five-year career, along with 32 useful exercises, to help readers make creativity a part of their lives through developing a creative habit. This book was an enjoyable read. It is a terrific resource with plenty of exercises to help readers tap into their creativity. I gave it 4 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I started April off reading a young adult short story horror collection, followed by four middle grade books. I read another Gordon Korman novel (no surprise), a mystery, and two selections in the horror category.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke contains 14 short stories that are all inspired by novels, short stories, songs, television series, or movies, but each one has its own unique twist. Some of the stories are creepy while others are more psychologically thrilling. My top five favorites are “Fat Girl with a Knife,” “M,” “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow,” “Stitches,” and “In the Forest Dark and Deep.” I gave it 4 stars.

Unplugged by Gordon Korman was a terrific middle-grade read. Personally, I do not think anyone can go wrong reading Kormon’s books. Many of them are hilarious with heart at the core. And, Unplugged is no exception. Jett Baranov is a spoiled, rich kid who ends up at the Oasis in the middle of the Arkansas wilderness for the summer after pulling one too many pranks. His goal is to get thrown out; however, he quickly gets immersed in a mystery, develops unlikely friendships, and learns not everything is a joking matter. This is another 5-star read by Gordon Korman.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson was a marvelous middle-school mystery. Abbey Force and Bee Force (no relation) become fast friends when Bee’s father buys Abbey’s plantation home near Felony Bay. Abbey is forced to live with her mean-spirited Uncle Charlie and his unsympathetic wife after her father falls into a coma, following an accident, and can no longer care for her. Abbey and Bee stumble upon a mystery at Felony Bay, involving Uncle Charlie and some other shady locals, and the girls work together to solve it. I enjoyed this debut novel and gave it 5 stars.

While Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is not my favorite book in the Goosebumps franchise, it was still entertaining and a good introduction to Slappy the dummy. Twin sisters, who love to compete with one another, soon find out their dummies have a sinister side. I am not a huge fan of dolls, dummies, mimes, or clowns because they are CREEPY, especially when they are possessed.  This was a 3-star read for me.

The Girl in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga is a ghost story with the right amount of creepiness for young readers. Briana Jensen moves in temporarily with her grouchy Uncle Shane on Shadowborn Road while her mother attends a training program. Shortly after arriving, Brianna encounters a ghostly young girl, who went missing on her way home from the town’s fall festival many years ago and uncovers the circumstances surrounding her murder. This middle-grade ghost story held my interest and earned 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is a ghostly gothic horror novella that I absolutely adored from start to finish. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, narrates the story of the harrowing ordeal he experiences while staying at Eel Marsh House in the small town of Crythin Gifford. I found this atmospheric story riveting and spine-tingling. Hands down, it is a 5-star read for me, and I look forward to reading more of Hill’s ghost stories.

Year of King

April’s selection was The Dark Half. The story is about Thad Beaumont, a writer, who after struggling to achieve success under his own name, decides to write novels under the pen name, George Stark. While these novels are commercially successful, they are dark, violent, and bring out unsavory qualities in Thad. An unexpected turn of events prompts Thad to retire his pseudonym, causing dire circumstances to befall anyone connected to Thad and his decision to bury his dark half.

I had seen the movie back in the 90s, but I had never read the book. Boy, am I glad Kelsi and I chose this underrated gem to read for our Year of King. I thought it was gripping, chilling, and disturbing. It earned a 5-star rating from me. There were so many terrific scenes throughout the novel. The surgery scene is one of my favorites. While researching and taking notes on The Dark Half for my chat with Kelsi, I discovered a bunch of fun facts about psychopomps, where King got the idea for this story, and how King came up with the name Stark for his villain. We had an congenial conversation about The Dark Half on May 1st, discussing both the book and the movie. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I would be remiss not to mention my failed attempt at participating in Kelsi’s April Readathon/Watchathon. I just could not fit another book into my already packed schedule. I really thought spring break would help, but I just had too many other activities and scheduled reading that I can only count three reads for the Readathon (Night of the Living Dummy, The Dark Half, and The Woman in Black) and three watches for the Watchathon (an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and Goosebumps – “The Haunted Mask” as well as The Dark Half movie). Oh well, there is always next year.

May has officially begun, and it is Zombie Awareness Month! Therefore, I will be reading books all month that are related to zombies. I am currently reading Dead City by James Ponti for #Read21in21. My book club selection for May is The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis. It will also count as my nonfiction choice for the month. Pet Sematary is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 29 May at 2:00 PM CT. May is going to be a zomberific reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot

Happy Zombie Awareness Month, dear reader! I am ready for some zombie fun which will last ALL month long. ZOMBIES are my jam! I have created another Zombie Fun List just for this year. It will include anything related to zombies, such as movies, television shows, books, short stories, articles, cocktails, and clothing. Kelsi will also be joining me for a zomberific good time, and when it is all said and done, we plan to chat about our rotting good time with reanimated corpses.

Zombie Fun List

Movies

Television Shows

  • The Walking Dead
  • Fear the Walking Dead
  • TWD: World Beyond
  • All of Us Are Dead
  • Kingdom

Books, Short Stories, and Articles

For more information about zombies, check out the Zombie Research Society. They have awesome articles about the living dead, including a recent article called “Digesting the Living: Zombie Stomach Acid” which was posted on 09 April 2022 by Luke W. Boyd. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Additionally, for all you readers who are on the fence about zombies, check out Kelsi’s latest video, 10 Zombie Movie Recommendations for People Who Don’t Like Zombies! on YouTube. Kelsi loves horror, but zombies are not her favorite horror genre. However, she does admit that she has found some undead gems since celebrating Zombie Awareness Month with me.

I am thrilled to be celebrating zombies throughout the month of May. If time permits, I will sprinkle additional zombie posts throughout the month. Of course, dear reader, if you feel the compulsion to join us, we would love to know what activities you will be engaging in during the month. What does it take to become a zombie? Deadication. Happiness!

“You can’t negotiate with a zombie. They have only one impulse – that’s to eat us or our brains.” ~ Stephen Graham Jones

My splendid spring break is winding down, and I am feeling joyful, refreshed, and energetic. The last ten days have not only been a flurry of activity, but also a good amount of down time. I accomplished almost everything on my Spring Break 2022 list plus more. I spent quality time with my family, friends, and fur babies. This much-needed respite allowed me to pause and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And, I even squeezed in a little work session for my day job.

My hubster and I were both on vacation for spring break. We spent a good deal of time together between my scheduled appointments and his yardwork/home projects. We had our first boiled crawfish for this season with his mom on Good Friday, attended Easter Sunday Mass with friends, did some yardwork in the backyard, hung out at Tickfaw State Park for his company picnic, and watched the entire Dexter: New Blood series in the evenings. It is probably the first time in a long time that we had that much quality time together.

There were only two items on my list that I did not get around to accomplishing this past week. I did not organize my scrapbook room, and I chose hubby time over attending the live on-line event (The 5 Secrets to Designing a Joyful Home) on Wednesday night. It was a free webinar, and thankfully, I can watch the replay of it. I accomplished a substantial amount of reading and writing during the break. In a couple of days, I will complete the books on my April TBR list and will publish a couple of blog posts. My consultation with the oral surgeon went well, and I have scheduled my implant procedure for 29 June.

Big news, dear reader! I only have 14 more workdays left of this school year. To be more precise, I only have 14 more workdays left as an instructional coach at Holy Ghost Catholic School. I am officially retiring from HGCS, and my last day is 20 May 2022. Woo-Hoo! This exciting news is all I am prepared to share with you at this time. Believe you me, dear reader, more about the next chapter of my life and my new adventures will unfold in the next few months. In the meantime, say a little prayer for me that I can successfully wrap up my school year with the remaining time I have there.

More big news, dear reader! I will be performing this week in The Phantom of the Columbia: A Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre at the Columbia Theatre. I am Vera Cost, a B-movie horror icon who is traveling with a group of B-movie stars on a promotional tour. We have been invited to a special dinner at the theatre where we will encounter a mystery, a murderer, and the menacing Phantom of the Columbia. The first rehearsal is tonight, a dress rehearsal is tomorrow night, a preview is on Tuesday night which will be followed by four shows each evening, Wednesday-Saturday. What a wonderfully exciting opportunity for me!

Therefore, today is all about preparing for the upcoming week which will be one of my busiest weeks of the year thus far. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am feeling grateful and optimistic while also looking forward to the challenge. Thankfully, I have Thursday and Friday off from my day job. I must be diligent with my self-care by managing my time efficiently, eating properly, and getting sufficient sleep. Barry, Sr. will NOT be out of town for work, so he will be home for Luna and the rest of our fur babies in the evenings. It’s time for me to run, dear reader. I hope you have a spectacular Sunday and a wonderful week ahead. Happiness!

“Prioritize building a life that sustains you and is compatible with your deepest, multifaceted self. Everything else grows from that!” ~ Emily Wapnick

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