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I am running a bit behind on some of my blog posts since I launched my YouTube channel back in October. Nevertheless, I am a finisher (rarely do I throw in the towel) and since I finished my Halloween movie marathon, I wanted to share my thoughts with you, dear reader. I watched a total of 15 movies during the spooky season. I replaced Mr. Harrigan’s Phone with The Babadook because I did not have enough time to read the novella in the If It Bleeds collection by Stephen King prior to watching the movie.

I enjoyed most of the movies I watched this year. I will not go into much detail about any of the films because I do not want to spoil them for anyone who has not seen any of these movies. There were four highly anticipated films on my list, Trick ‘r Treat, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hocus Pocus 2 and Terrifier 2.

Trick ‘r Treat was on my list last year, but I was unable to watch it because of availability. So, I was super excited to watch it this year, and it was worth the wait. I LOVED it! It includes four stories woven together that take place on Halloween. The one constant thread running through all four stories is Sam or Samhain, an immortal Halloween demon who enforces the rules of Halloween. It was my only 5-star watch this season, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a terrific Halloween horror movie.

On the other hand, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, was a HUGE disappointment and the polar opposite of Trick ‘r Treat. Kelsi and I watched it together at her house, and we were both downhearted with this screen adaptation of Grady Hendrix’s beloved novel of which we are both fans. Underwhelming is the best way to describe it.

Hocus Pocus 2 and Terrifier 2 are on completely different ends of the spectrum; however, I liked them both for different reasons. Hocus Pocus 2 was a terrific trip down memory lane as my friends and I revisited the shenanigans of the Sanderson sisters, who are resurrected when the Black Flame Candle is lit by a couple of high school students. While it is not as good as the original, it is still a good time in my opinion, and I thoroughly enjoyed the magic, mischief, and mayhem. Terrifier 2 proved to be even more terrifying than the original. Thankfully, Kelsi and I watched it together in the theater. Art the Clown is the most off-putting and sinister villian who sadistically kills people on Halloween. In this latest installment, Art is resurrected and sets out to destroy a teenage girl and her younger brother. It is definitely much gorier than the first film, and there is an added element that proves to be even more terrifying than Art. Who would have ever thought it possible? This film has more of a storyline than the first with a protagonist you can root for as she battles the demonic clown.

Five of the films on my list are supernatural horror films that I consider slow burns: Umma, No One Gets Out Alive, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The House of Usher, and The Babadook. Generally with slow burns, I like to revisit them because sometimes I miss the deeper meaning of the story, or I want to delve a little deeper into the film’s social commentary. I will eventually revisit all of these films, except The House of Usher which I thought was a boring retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” I enjoyed the other four films and think I might like them a bit more when I watch them again. After watching No One Gets Out Alive, I discovered it was based on a book written by Adam Nevill. I would like to read the book, do some research on the mythology included in the story, and then rewatch the movie. After watching The Babadook, I discovered it was based on a short film called Monster by Jennifer Kent. I want to watch Monster, do some research on the Babadook creature, and then rewatch the movie. As for Umma (haunted by childhood trauma) and I Am the Pretty One That Lives in the House (atmospheric; gothic vibes), I plan to rewatch both of them when the mood strikes me.

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting is an entertaining movie geared toward kids. It is kind of cool to imagine there is a secret society of babysitters who protect the children in their charge by battling the Boogyman and his monsters. Like Hocus Pocus 2, I enjoy throwing in a couple of family fun Halloween movies to break up the doom, gloom, and creepy vibes. It also gives me the chance to watch movies with friends or family members who are not fans of horror.

The remaining five films on my list worth checking out include Hellfest (serial killer blends in at a horror theme park on Halloween night), The Rite, a rewatch for me (demon possession), The House of the Devil (atmospheric, creepy, and love that Greta Gerwig is in it), Suspiria (directed by Dario Argento, visually spectacular, atmospheric, and eerie), and Countdown (be careful which apps you download on your phone because you may end up dead).

You can hear more of my thoughts about the movies that I watched in common with Kelsi, as well as our rankings (top 6 movies for me) in our latest livestream. As always, we hope you enjoy it and appreciate you taking the time to watch our video. Please consider giving us a thumbs up if you like it, and share it with a friend who likes listening to chats about horror movies.

That’s a wrap on the movies I watched during the spooky season, dear reader. It was a fangtastically good time. I will be releasing my list of movies that I plan to watch for the Christmas season shortly. My movie list will include both horror movies for the winter season and Christmas Classics. You can also follow me on Letterboxd @ KittyKatAttack and check out my lists of movies. Happiness!

“Samhain, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, also known as Halloween. Pre-dating Christianity, the Celtic holiday was celebrated on the one night between autumn and winter when the barrier between the living and the dead was thinnest and often involved rituals that included human sacrifice.” ~ Rhonda (Samm Todd), Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

It’s Wednesday, dear reader! And, in the United States, it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There is a great deal to be thankful for in my life, including you, dear reader. I appreciate you being a part of my blogging adventure.

The last three weeks have been hectic for me with daily commitments and appointments. I had a procedure done on my dental implant which caused some mouth soreness for almost a full week. A follow-up appointment with the oral surgeon has been scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon. If all looks good, I will schedule an appointment with my dentist sometime in December to make an impression to order my implant crown. I also got my annual mammogram which came back with good results. Gals, it’s important to get your yearly mammogram despite having your boobies squashed. In addition, I had to take my dog Comet aka Tooty to the vet for his annual visit which involved senior bloodwork. It looks like additional testing will be needed to rule out a few issues.

After three weeks, I have finally started a new 4-week program on Beachbody on Demand called Job1. The instructor and creator of this program is Jennifer Jacobs. I have only completed two workouts this week, but I already like Jennifer’s instruction, energy, and attitude. There are five workouts per week, and each workout is literally 20 minutes. There are three strength training days, a HIIT day, and a cardio day. If any of you are like me and did not know what HIIT means, it stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Oh boy, it has earned its name! HIIT was my workout yesterday, and it was intense for me, but I loved it. Of course, the only exercises I cannot do are ones where my wrists are bearing my weight. There has only been one so far, and I substituted the move with squats.

The program does require dumbells and resistance loops. I purchased the 12″ resistance loops, which comes in a package of three, from the shop on Beachbody.com’s website. Thus far, I have only used dumbells, but anticipate using the resistance loops at some point in the remaining workouts for this week.

I should also mention that there are five additional Overtime Workouts (20 minutes each) that target the upper body, legs, glutes, and the core. There is a recovery stretch as well. These workouts can be done after the daily workouts or on their own. I have not done any of these workouts, yet. Finally, the program also has four 20-minute Cycling Workouts for anyone who has a stationary bike which I do not, so I will not being doing those workouts.

My last weigh-in was this morning at 153.5 pounds. I have gained 1 pound back since 02 November; so my overall weight loss is 8.5 pounds since 01 June. What a bummer! I did track my weight for six days (11/07-11/12), and my weight fluctuated between 152-154. For the most part, I am eating clean, in moderation when I indulge, and following the intermittent fasting guidelines. As I mentioned in my last post, I think menapause is contributing to my weight-loss issues. Thankfully, my annual well-woman visit is next Tuesday morning, so I am hoping to get bloodwork scheduled and some answers regarding menapause and my weight-loss issues.

Knockout Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are my new favorite vegetable. I hated them growing up; however, I have learned, as an adult, that it is not the Brussels sprouts I hate, but it is the way my mom prepared them. I have tried a couple of different ways to cook Brussels sprouts, and the recipe in Ian K. Smith’s book, Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance, found on page 282 is one of my favorites.

Gather the following ingredients:

  • Brussels sprouts (1 pound)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (3 tablespoons)
  • Balsamic vinegar (1/3 cup)
  • Honey-optional (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees while prepping. Make sure to trim the ends of each Brussels sprout and remove any outer leaves that look yucky. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half and place in a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss, so all the Brussels sprouts are coated evenly. Spread them apart evenly, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the leaves of the Brussels sprouts are caramelized (dark brown and crispy).

In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey. Add the roasted Brussel sprouts into the vinegar-honey mixture and toss, so all the Brussels sprouts are coated evenly.

This recipe requires minimal ingredients, is easy to prepare, and is yummy. Let me know in the comments if you try it. If you have any delicious Brussels sprouts recipes that are easy to prepare, please email me at katloyacano@gmail.com.

Dear reader, have a wonderful Wednesday! Whatever the plans, goals, or dreams you have set for yourself, I hope you intentionally strive to enjoy the process by focusing on the journey and not the outcome. Happiness!

“The groundwork for all happiness is good health.” ~ Leigh Hunt

What a weekend I am having thus far! On Friday evening, I attended the play, The Way We Say Goodbye, written and directed by Donna Gay Anderson and presented by Southeastern Theatre. This play is a celebration of Southeastern Louisiana University launching a new B.A. in Theatre program this fall.The production’s entire cast and crew consisted of Southeastern students, faculty, and alumni. And, one of those cast members happens to be my good friend Sue, who I worked with for many years at Holy Ghost Catholic School. She also taught Andrew, my youngest son, science at HGCS. The Way We Say Goodbye is about 15 women saying goodbye for various reasons.

Sue played Sorter, and her character was saying goodbye to some of the sentimental things she had been holding onto for years and reminiscing about the impact those things had on her life. Sue has not been on stage in several years because for the last 27 years, she has been directing children’s theatre. Andrew performed in three plays under her direction. She has also been super supportive of my acting journey. I’m so proud of Sue. The play was incredibly moving, humorous, and entertaining. The entire cast gave phenomenal performances. Bravo!

On Saturday afternoon, Helen and I attended The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre in downtown Hammond. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I was fortunate to participate in readings of The Jungle Book over the summer. Being a part of the readings was super special because the playwright, Tommy Jamerson, was there with us via Zoom. It was incredible to see how the cast and crew brought this play to life. I loved seeing so many of my talented friends performing. Bravo!

Tonight, at 7:30 PM CT is the series finale of The Walking Dead. Earlier today, I watched a couple of the episodes leading up to the finale. I LOVE The Walking Dead! I am prepared for an emotional evening as this incredible series wraps up 11 seasons of outstanding storytelling. The 90-minute final episode should be spectacular since it was directed by Greg Nicotero. I have watched this awesome show from the beginning as well as the other shows set in The Walking Dead universe. Over the years, I have met a few of the actors (Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Scott Wilson, and Michael Rooker), who have portrayed a few of my favorite characters, at Comic Con in New Orleans. And, I even have plenty of TWD merchandise. I will miss my group. Thank goodness for streaming, so I can revisit my favorite characters from time to time. And, thank goodness for more series in TWD universe coming out in the future.

The last few weeks since I launched my YouTube channel have been busy reading and creating content for my new channel. Being a newbie has its challenges, especially with filming and editing videos. However, I have released four videos and have been having a ball meeting other booktubers in the Booktube community. My latest video is a Booktube Newbie Tag where I answer questions about my reading journey, my reading preferences, the reason for starting my channel and much more. Every time I create a video, I learn something new, and I find that exciting.

Well, dear reader, that is all I have for you today. I have to finish a few tasks before I park myself in front of the television to say goodbye to The Walking Dead. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend. May your upcoming week be filled with lots of joy, laughter, and good cheer. Happiness!

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” ~ Meister Eckhart

The spooky season was a bootiful reading month for me! I completed six books in the month of October. As of today, I have read 57 books throughout 2022. I have surpassed my Goodreads goal of 50 books, and I still have two more months left of the year with plenty of terrific titles to tackle. What an awesome reading year for me!

Nonfiction Selection

Fear Itself: The Early Works of Stephen King, edited by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller, is a fascinating collection of literary criticism focused on Stephen King’s earlier works (short stories and novels) prior to the publication of Christine. There are 9 essays, an introduction by Peter Straub, a forward by Stephen King, and an afterword by George Romero. Anyone who is a fan of King’s writing and has enjoyed reading Salem’s Lot (my personal favorite), The Shining, Carrie, The Stand, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, and Cujo will enjoy going

back in time and discovering why Stephen King became a popular writer and a household name for horror fans.

I especially enjoyed the introduction by Peter Straub and the afterword by George Romero. Stephen King’s forward is also wonderful because it gives insight into his struggles of becoming a writer and how he achieved brand name status as a horror writer. Stephen King is my absolute favorite author, so I enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane to learn more about the start of his writing career and his early works from the perspectives of other writers as well as the impact his work has had on both literature and film. This was a four-star read for me.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read three children’s literature selections this month, two middle-grade selections about witches and a young adult novel centered on clowns in a small town. All three books were fantastic in their own way.

The Witches by Roald Dahl is a wicked good time. An 8-year old boy, who lives with his Norweigian grandmother after the death of his parents, narrates this delightfully dark tale. The fantasy novel is set partly in England and partly in Norway and follows the young boy and his grandmother as they encounter witches on their summer holiday. The vile and disgusting witches despise children and hatch a plan to get rid of them everywhere. This middle-grade selection is entertaining, terrifying at times, but excudes a great deal of heart. I adored it and gave it 5 stars.

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare is a young adult novel with spooky season feels. Quinn Maybrook, a high school senier, is uprooted from Philadelphia when her father takes a job as a family doctor in the small, seemingly quiet, town of Kettle Springs. Quinn and her father embark on a fresh start and begin adapting to rural life. Quinn has even made a few friends at school. Unfortunately, her new friends have objectionable reputations and a turbulent history with the town’s elders. Small town secrets, deep-rooted grudges, and death-dealing clowns make for a terrifying tale. 4 stars!

The Power of Poppy Pendle by Natasha Lowe is a magical middle-grade adventure. Poppy happens to be an amazing witch, who loves to bake and is quite awesome at it. Her desserts delight everyone except her parents, who only want Poppy to concentrate on witchcraft and carry on the legacy of her great-grandmother Mabel. The only problem is Poppy hates magic. Since her parents refuse to let her bake along with studying magic, she makes a dastardly decision that could cost her everything and everyone she loves. This story is warm-hearted, at times heartbreaking and dark, but full of charm. The book includes baking tips from Poppy and recipes which I would love to try in the future. 5 stars for Poppy Pendle!

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas is an AWESOME selection for the spooky season. It has all the ingredients to keep a horror fan engaged from beginning to end, Gothic vibes, a haunted house, and a pervasive evil that hungrily awaits those who dare to cross Kill Creek’s threshold.

Four esteemed horror writers receive an invitation to spend Halloween night in an abandoned house that is purported to be haunted. All four writers, reluctantly accept the invitation, hoping the publicity will bolster their careers.

Unfortunately, they are not prepared for what will greet them and the aftermath of that one meeting. Kill Creek is a slow burn that builds tension in the most satisfying way, leading the reader to a gratifying conclusion that stays with you long after you have finished the book. I gave this brilliant horror novel 5 stars.

Year of King

Kelsi and I chose Needful Things for October. This delightful story was a reread for me, and I was thrilled to revisit it. Leland Gaunt, the mysterious but charming proprietor of Needful Things, sets up shop in Castle Rock. His store offers the most curious items for sale. Sadly for the residents of Castle Rock, the treasures they purchase cost them more than money. Their quiet little town will never be the same when Leland Gaunt is finished doing business with them.

Needful Things is one of my favorite novels written by Stephen King. I love the well-developed characters, especially Sheriff Alan Pangborn and his cunning adversary, Leland Gaunt. There is more to the story than residents playing pranks on one another. It is a story deep-seated in greed, hypocrisy, and the harmful effects of selling one’s soul to fulfill one’s deepest desires. Needful Things is a definite 5-star read for me.

Kesli and I had a devilish good time discussing both the novel and the film adaptation of Needful Things on November 6th. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

November is well underway, and I am participating in three readathons. I am currently reading Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Mongomery for #Read21in21. My book club selection for November is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Kelsi and I will be reading The Dead Zone for our Year of King project. We will have a live discussion about the novel and movie on Sunday, 11 December at 12:00 PM CT. Last but not least, my nonfiction selection this month is Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce. 

My sister Rachel and I are reading the last chapter of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. This Wednesday evening we will be discussing Chapter 10, “A New Earth.” Rachel and I have had such a blast buddy reading A New Earth that we are planning to read another book together which we will start in January.

As usual, I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in November. To see my complete November TBR, follow me on YouTube at Kat’s Novel Adventures (see below). 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 plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Happy Weigh-In Wednesday, dear reader! I have finished another round of Clean & Lean and 4 Weeks for Every Body. I did skip one week of the exercise program between Week 2 and Week 3. I will be honest, the instructor for this program is not my favorite of the three instructors I have experienced thus far. I needed a break, so I pretty much walked that whole week. I also had a bunch going on during that week and weekend. With that being said, I liked most of the exercises, the format of the program, and using the core ball. As I mentioned in my last post, the instructor goes a little too fast between floor exercises and standing exercises. I am still having issues with my wrists doing some of the weight-bearing floor movements, especially pushups and planks. I modify the movement or do another exercise working the targeted muscles.

I did NOT lose the amount of weight I set my sights on by the end of the 30 days. I was hoping to get down to at least 149 pounds. In this moment, I need to give myself some grace and remind myself to focus on the journey and not the outcome. My journey is about being healthier not hitting a certain number on the scale. The reality is my journey is never going to end because eating healthy and exercising regularly is a lifestyle, not a chore, not a quick fix, and certainly not a means to an end.

My last weigh-in was this morning at 152.5 pounds. I have lost 1 pound since 03 October; so my overall weight loss is 9.5 pounds since 01 June. Losing weight this time around is going much slower than past attempts. I do think I am building muscle which weighs more than fat. My clothes are fitting better, especially in the belly region. However, I also think menapause has reared its ugly head and might be interfering with my weight loss efforts. I recently listened to Molly Kimball’s podcast episode, “Menopause, Hormones, and Weight Gain – Oh My!,” with Ochsner Health OB/GYN Robin Bone, MD. They discussed that menapause is more than hot flashes and night sweats. There is research about the connection between hormone shifts and weight gain. Therefore, I figured it could not hurt to get some blood work done and see what is going on with my hormones. I scheduled an appointment with my gynocologist for the end of November. I have included Molly’s interview with Dr. Robin Bone below for anyone interested in this information.

So, what’s the next step? At this moment, I have not started a new fitness program on BOD. This weekend, I plan to research a new program to start next week. In the meantime, I will keep walking. The last couple of weeks I have been striving for 10,000 steps per day, and hitting the mark more than not. I will continue intermittent fasting and eating clean but adding in more foods besides the 30 specific foods listed in Clean & Lean.

I have another recipe to share from Michelle of Pocketful of Primary. It is a Buffalo Chicken Dip that is a healthier version and tastes great. My hubby and I ate it a couple of weeks ago while watching a horror movie off my Halloween Movie Marathon list. In addition to being quite tasty, it has minimal ingredients and is easy to prepare. The best part is you can pair it with veggies, pretzels, chips, or crackers. We opted for carrot chips, small sweet peppers, thin pretzels, and tortilla chips. I focused more on the veggies.

We had some leftover baked chicken that we used for this recipe. I also chose a buffalo sauce with a “comfortable heat” which basically means medium heat.

Mix the following ingredients in a bowl and top with shredded cheese (40 grams). Place mixture in a baking dish. Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

  • 150 grams of cooked shredded chicken
  • 150 grams of non-fat cottage cheese
  • 100 grams of fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 50 grams of buffalo sauce
  • 50 grams of onion

If you decide to try this recipe, dear reader, please let me know in the comments how you liked it and what finger foods you paired with the dip. Healthier finger foods are better!

I am a big proponent of time tracking. It is a wonderful way to see how I am spending my time. I am considering keeping a diet/exercise journal and weighing myself each morning to see how my diet is affecting my weight. I have kept this kind of journal in the past, and it can be time-consuming. However, bringing this kind of information with me to my doctor’s appointment may be helpful. I will think about it this weekend along with choosing my next program on BOD. Happiness!

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” ~ Robert Tew 

Kat’s Novel Adventures

This past week has been an incredible week for creative folks, including myself. As you know, dear reader, I have been collaborating with Kelsi on her channel, Slime and Slashers – Books, Movies, & Nostalgia, for the last two years. We talk about books, movies, and activities we participate in during the holidays and months with special themes. In 2022, we decided to do a year-long Year of King project where we read a Stephen King book or short story each month and watch its screen adaptation(s). Then, we follow up with a monthly livestream to chat about our experiences. Additionally, I have been following several book tubers’ channels. It is no secret that I LOVE books, and reading is my favorite pastime. Watching bibliphiles talking about books and the stories they are reading is my idea of a good time.

Since the end of last year, I have been toying with the idea of creating a YouTube channel where I could talk about the books I am reading and maybe some of my other interests and creative pursuits. Therefore, back in March, I chose my channel’s name and created some components of my channel (banner, about information, added a link to my blog). And, there it sat quietly, waiting for me to take the next step which was to create an actual video. I planned to launch my channel with an introducton video the weekend after Labor Day. Crickets! Then, I decided to include it on my Fall Fun List. So, on Friday morning, I LAUNCHED my YouTube channel with my first video. I am thrilled to officially be on the YouTube platform and part of the Book Tube community.

Dear reader, if you have two minutes to spare, please check out my channel’s introduction video. Many, many thanks to Kelsi for helping me make this dream a reality. Thus far, I have received lots of kind and encouraging words since I launched my channel. I look forward to this new adventure.

Contingency

Friday was also a HUGE day for my friends Brian and Maria. The three of us started improv together back in January of 2020. They are both talented improvisors and actors. With Slice of Dat Productions, they participated in the creation of a short film called Contingency which was submitted as an entry in the 48 Hour Film Project for Chicago 2022. Basically, their team worked together to make a movie in ONLY 48 hours. On Friday afternoon, Contingency debuted to the general public on YouTube. I think the cast and crew did a remarkable job. The film is gritty, nerve-racking, and thrilling.

“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”

One of my favorite movies is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is not a particularly good movie, but it is a cult classic and has a fantastic soundtrack. The film is a great deal of fun to watch with an audience because the audience interacts with the film. Two years ago, Barry and I had a Rocky Horror Date Night where we had a blast reliving the film after not seeing it in theatres in over 30 years. Well, the Columbia Theatre showed it again this year, and we went to see it last Saturday with Shelly, Kerry, and Helen. Our evening started off with dinner at Cate Street Seafood Station. Then, we walked from the restaurant to Columbia Theatre where we were surrounded by creative audience members who were dressed amazingly as characters from the movie. I always say I am going to dress up as Magenta one year, but it has not happened, yet. Helen was a virgin going into the film because she had never seen it. There was a talented shadow cast dressed as the characters who performed terrifically on stage along with the movie. We each had prop bags (Barry shared with me) with various items to use throughout the film. My favorite part of the film is standing up and doing “The Time Warp” dance which is loads of fun. What an enjoyable evening with friends!

Lots going on in the world of entertainment, dear reader. Whether we are talking about books, music, films, or theatre, there is literally something out there in the world for everyone. I am thrilled I not only can enjoy being entertained, but I can also be a part of entertaining others. Life is truly full of adventures, some big and some small; some ordinary and some extraordinary; some experienced alone and some experienced with others. What creative adventures or endeavors are you a part of, dear reader? Happiness!

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” ~ William Feather

Kelsi and I hung out last Sunday for a fun-filled fall day celebrating the spooky season. We exchanged gifts, carved pumpkins, baked cookies, popped popcorn, and watched two much-anticipated horror movies (My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Terrifier 2). The highlight of our day was carving pumpkins because Kelsi has NEVER carved one, which is surprising since her family loves all things Halloween. We vlogged our spook-tacular day together which she included in her Halloweekend Readathon Weekend #2 Vlog. Unfortunately, because we live in “hot ass Louisiana” as Kelsi loves to say, our pumpkins no longer look as cute as they did the day we carved them. Mine has become moldy on the inside and has started to collapse, so it will be placed on top of my compost pile shortly. The good news is we both plan to carve another pumpkin closer to Halloween. I think Kelsi has caught the pumpkin carving bug.

🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

This past week, I battled yucky, alien-looking bugs that came out of nowhere to attacked my beloved satsuma tree, but I fought back. My satsuma tree does not yield fruit every year, but this year I could glean about 60 satsumas which is a bumper crop for my little fruit tree. First, I sprayed water on them with a hose. They flew away in various directions, but returned two hours later. I sprayed them with the hose once more, and they flew away once more. Unfortunately, these vile creatures were relentless and returned yet again to attack my satsumas.

As I glared at them, they stared back, mocking me. Fortunately, my hubby had a solution, a soapy water solution. I mixed dish soap with warm water and sprayed those pests. The battle with those leaffooted bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus) went on for two days until I wiped them out completely. Thankfully, they have not returned, and my satsumas have been saved. Since the attack of the citrus suckers, I have happily eaten three satsumas, and they were all splendidly sweet.

🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

Painting by Tweety

When my boys were younger, I decorated our house all the time, mainly for Halloween and Christmas. However, as they grew older, decorating for the holidays fell by the wayside. Last year, I planned to decorate, but our decorations were limited to my nightstand and a bookcase in my bedroom and the front porch because of Hurricane Ida. This year, Kelsi and I went Fall/Halloween decor shopping early, plus I shopped plenty more throughout September. I decorated my guest bathroom at the beginning of October. I finally got around to putting up the rest of my Halloween decorations this past week. Halloween birds are perched on bookcases while the rest of my spooky decor is displayed on the mantle above the fireplace in our living room.

Every time I look at my Halloween decorations, I get a happiness boost. I found so many wonderful items this year. Except for the Hocus Pocus pumpkin, the books, and the two crystal pieces holding potpourri and the dried flowers, everything on the mantle was purchased this year. I am thrilled with how it turned out. At the center of the mantle is a perfect pumpkin portrait painted by my talented friend Tweety. Since I love reading, I incorporated spooky books in my holiday display which adds a pleasant touch.

I absolutely adore the mini wooden coffin shelf that I purchased from Target. My hubby painted it for me. I want to find some small, vintage-looking books to put on the bottom shelf. Since I am a patreon supporter of It’s A Charming Life, Lindsay and Jonas sent me a Sleepy Hollow postcard, featuring Jonas’s artwork, and a tiny, white doily this month. I put the doily on the top shelf of the coffin and set a jack-o’-lantern on top of it. I am excited I could include both items as part of my decorations.

Well, it is time for me to skedaddle, dear reader. I still have plenty left on today’s to-do list. I must finish my Halloween cards TODAY, so I can mail them out tomorrow. I promised my guys I would make a batch of Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos. Thankfully, the chicken and bacon have already been cooked. I have a few chapters to read in Needful Things. Then, I have to get myself organized for the upcoming week before heading out to Metairie where I will be performing tonight with my classmates in our first improv showcase. Happiness!

My poor jack-o’-lantern after one week in hot ass Louisiana.

“Jack-o’-lantern, Jack-o’-lantern. You are such a funny sight.” ~ Jack-o’-lantern Halloween Song

It’s Hump Day, dear reader! I want to share an update with you about the current exercise program that I started last week, what I eat in a day, and a new recipe I tried this morning. Currently, I am on Week 2 of 4 Weeks for Every Body. According to the workout calendar, today is a REST day; however, since I have a busy weekend ahead of me, I opted to complete Workout #3 this morning and plan to complete Workout #4 tomorrow morning. This leaves Friday-Sunday for either walking/biking or resting. I will walk or bike at least two of those three days.

Overall, I like the exercise program and most of the exercises. At first, I did not think I would like incorporating the core ball, but I actually like it. Each week there are 3 days that include a total-body workout, targeting different muscle groups (2 days-upper body and 1 day-lower body). A 4th day is cardio, but weights and the core ball are still a part of the total-body workout. The exercises are challenging, but totally doable. My only complaint with the program is the pacing. Sometimes, the instructor goes a little too fast between exercises which is fine if you are not going from a floor exercise to a standing exercise or vice versa.

My last weigh-in was Monday morning at 153.5 pounds. I have not lost any additional weight since 28 September; so my overall weight loss remains at 8.5 pounds since 01 June. I am basically maintaining my weight. Be that as it may, I am making strides in building up my strength. I feel terrific overall because I am eating better, sleeping better, and exercising better. Eating clean coupled with intermittent fasting is working well for me. With that being said, I did splurge a little on Saturday. I drank a beer at Gnarly Barley’s Ocktoberfest mid-day on Saturday. Then later that evening, I had two hotdogs (on buns) with chili, some Cheetos, a 12 ounce Sprite, and a Hocus Pocus cocktail. However, I did eat clean for breakfast (Burner Smoothie) and lunch (Salad with Shrimp).

Speaking of eating clean, I thought I would share with you what I eat in a day. I documented with photos this past Monday. I ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, one snack (can have up to 3 per day), plus drank two cups of coffee (morning/afternoon) and plenty of water. Clean & Lean is about eating 30 clean foods for 30 days. Therefore, these 30 foods are basically assigned and repeated throughout the daily menus for the month.

I do not like to cook. When I have to cook, it is simple and requires minimal ingredients. I use olive oil spray to cook my eggs and anything I fix in the air fryer. My husband is a sweetheart and will grill whatever I may need for the week, which for this week was turkey burgers. He also made a crock pot of red beans which I can eat on this plan. Although, I cheat a little when I eat the sausage he puts in the beans. I will eat brown rice with my beans if I choose beans for lunch, but I will eat beans with no rice if I have it for dinner.

Even though, I am not a fan of cooking, I do like trying new recipes if they are easy and do not require lots of complicated ingredients. Son #1 and I tried Pumpkin Overnight Oats this morning. We have never fixed overnight oats before, but after watching Michelle on Pocketful of Primary prepare them, I figured I could handle it.

My friend Rita, who lives in the UK, suggested I share some recipes. So, I am including Michelle’s recipe. Last night, I filled two mason jars (one for me & one for Barry, Jr.) with the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats (NOT quick 1-minute oats)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 50 grams of pumpkin
  • 3-5 ounces of Almond Milk
  • Cinnamon (optional)

I put all of the dry ingredients in the jar first, added the Almond Milk, stirred everything together, and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I capped the jars and stuck them in the refrigerator. I am going to be honest, dear reader. I was a little nervous about trying these overnight oats this morning, especially since they were going to be cold. I love hot oatmeal! Is it possible for me to love cold oatmeal?

Goodness! The answer is YES. Both my son and I thought the overnight oats were delicious. Fixing oatmeal this way is a game changer for me because it is quick, easy, requires minimal ingrediants, and the flavor possibilities are endless. I plan to make them again tonight; however, I will use 2% milk and see what happens. Sometimes, we do not have Almond Milk on hand, so I want to make sure I have another option. Honestly, I even think water can be used as the liquid ingredient. I use water when I cook oatmeal.

Admittedly, getting back in shape can be arduous, but when you discover the right workouts tailored to your needs and healthy foods (appetizing, available, and affordable) that can be easily prepared, the health and wellness journey is actually quite enjoyable. If you are fortunate enough to also have a support system of family and friends cheering you on along the way, the journey is exponentially better. Have you ever tried overnight oats, dear reader? If so, please share what you put in your jars. Happiness!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” Jim Rohn

I DID it, dear reader! I reached my Goodreads goal of 50 books for the year when I finished reading Harvest Home. I am ecstatic! This is the first time I have ever reached my reading goal before 31 December. In addition, I was able to complete five books and three short stories in the month of September.

Nonfiction Selection

My nonfiction read for September was by Mel Robbins called The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage. The 5 second rule is a simple strategy that yields huge results. Robbins uses her own personal stories and testimonials through emails and social media posts she received from people from all walks of life to demonstate the effectiveness of this strategy. Personally, I am reaping the benefits from using the strategy in my everyday life, especially with taking risks in improv and stopping my EGO from managing me. Additionally, it has motivated me to exercise, to step out my comfort zone, and to complete tasks that have lingered a bit too long on my to-do list.

Basically, you count backwards from 5 and take action. According to Robbins, “When you start to count 5-4-3-2-1, it is the beginning of a chain reaction that not only awakens the prefrontal cortex, but also gets you ready to make that physical “initial huge push” that’s required to change” (106). This was an enjoyable 4-star read for me.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read three middle-grade books in September. Ghost Beach was actually on my August TBR, but I ran out of time, so I carried it over. Juniper Berry has been on my bookcase for quite sometime and has autumn vibes, so I thought September was a marvelous month to finally read it. Since I am participating this fall in the #moremontgomerychallenge, I chose Anne of Avonlea for the “read an Anne book” spot on the bingo card. I had bought it right after reading Anne of Green Gables, so it worked out wonderfully to read it in September for the start of this challenge.

Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine is creepy, and I must admit, the scariest of the Goosebumps books I have read to date. Siblings, Jerry and Terri, are visiting a distant cousin and his wife in New England for the last month of the summer. The children’s excitement is short-lived when they discover a cave by the beach is haunted by a ghost. It is suspenseful with a twist I did not see coming. A haunting 4 stars for this spooky selection!

Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky is a terrific middle-grade tale of terror and temptation. Despite living in a beautiful mansion with her famous parents and her trusty sidekick Kitty, Juniper Berry is lonely as heck. She misses the life she once had with her parents, who were loving, kind, and always there for her. Now, they are miserable in spite of their fame and fortune and act as if Juniper does not exist. One stormy night, Juniper follows them into the woods and discovers the cause of their unhappy transformation. 4 stars for this entertaining and suspenseful story.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery is the next charming chapter in Anne Shirley’s life. Anne postpones attending Redmond College, so she can remain with Marilla on the farm and help her raise orphaned twins. Anne also takes a teaching position at the local school. We are introduced to new and interesting characters in the Avonlea community and amused by more of Anne’s adventures. This second installment was a delightful read and worthy of all 5 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon is the perfect autumn read. It has all the fall feels with full fields of corn and festive autumn traditions set in a quaint New England town that harbors a sinister secret.

This beautifully written psychological horror novel takes its sweet time telling the story of Ned Constantine and his family’s move to the village of Cornwall Coombe. On the surface, the small farming town seem idyllic with its simple lifestyle, friendly faces, and a matriarch that welcomes the family wholeheartedly.

Once the family gets settled, Ned stumbles upon a mystery that had been buried, and no one in the town seems too interested in talking to him about it. Unfortunately, Ned’s curiousity is persistent, and he continues digging up the past. Unsettling moments are sprinkled throughout this slow burn, building up to an off-putting conclusion that has stuck with me since I completed it. I gave this horror gem 5 stars.

Year of King

Kelsi and I switched gears for this month and read three short stories from Stephen King’s Night Shift collection. All three stories have something to do with manual labor which was perfect for September with the celebration of Labor Day.

“Graveyard Shift” takes place at a textile factory in the small town of Gate Falls, Maine. John Hall, an aloof drifter, works the graveyard shift at the mill, running the picker machine. Warwick, his cruel foreman, decides that after 12 years, the rat-infested basement needs to be cleaned out.

So, he recruits a few of his workers, including John Hall, to complete the terrible task that leads to a disturbing discovery. This horror story was a 3-star read for me. Even though I enjoyed the creepy atmosphere, the rapacious rodents, and the men’s scary situation, I wanted more.

“The Mangler” takes place at an industrial laundry in a small American town. John Hunton, a local police officer, receives the call to investigate a gruesome accident involving a Hadley-Watson Model-6 Speed Ironer and Folder, also known as the mangler, at the Blue Ribbon Laundry. Unfortunately for Hunton and the employees of the laundry, more grisly deaths unfold surrounding the menacing machine. I gave this horror story 4 stars for being chilling, suspenseful, and macabre.

“The Lawnmower Man” takes place at the home of Harold Parkette. Harold takes pride in his manicured lawn until an unfortunate accident occurs while his neighbor’s son is cutting it. After almost a year of not cutting his grass, receiving lame lawn jokes from his neighbor, and spotting a woodchuck sitting happily in his backyard, he finally decides to hire someone to take care of his overgrown yard. That someone is the unusual lawnmower man from Pastoral Greenery and Outdoor Services. This horror story has mythological elements, humor, gore, and a bizarre twist which I loved, so I gave it 4 stars.

I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that the screen adaptations were as good as the short stories. I knew at some point our luck would run out because not all of Stephen King’s work translates well on the big screen. Although, Kelsi’s opinion of the films differs greatly from mine. She and I had a lively conversation about all three stories on September 25th, discussing the stories and their film adaptations. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

It’s October, which happens to be my favorite month of the year. I have chosen some spine-tingling selections to read in celebration of this spooky month. I am currently reading The Witches by Roald Dahl for #Read21in21. My book club selection for October is Kill Creek by Scott Thomas. Kelsi and I will be reading Needful Things for our Year of King project. We will have a live discussion about the novel and movie on Sunday, 06 November at 2:00 PM CT. Last but not least, my nonfiction selection this month is Fear Itself: The Early Works of Stephen King edited by Tim Underwood & Chuck Miller. 

My sister Rachel and I are still buddy reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. This Wednesday evening we will be discussing Chapter 7, “Finding Who You Truly Are.” What an important and impactful chapter!

As usual, I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in October. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Cheers to October! While autumn is my favorite season of the year, October happens to be my favorite month of the year. Spooky season is officially upon us, so I spent yesterday morning decorating one of my bathrooms with Halloween decor. It is a spooktacular happiness boost!

We have been experiencing some beautifully cool weather lately in Louisiana which makes me want to be outside enjoying it.

Yesterday, Gnarly Barley, a local brewery in Hammond, was hosting their first Oktoberfest. They featured four German beers and had a food truck (Fine Thyme Catering) providing German foodstuffs. The brewery is a family and dog friendly establishment, so we opted to bring Luna with us to work on her socializing skills. She is not a fan of riding in a vehicle, so this also gave her an opportunity to become more familiar with being in a vehicle.

We are proud of our Luna Belle. She trembled some on the way to the brewery, but on the way home, she seemed much more comfortable being in Barry’s truck. No trembling! I took a selfie of Luna and me on the way home, and she looks like she is smiling.

Luna did wonderfully on her first outing. She was a little excitable when she first got out of the truck, so Barry walked her for about 10 minutes, and she settled down. There were tons of people, lots of dogs and children, and strange new smells to give her a terrific socializing experience.

My friends, Shelly and Helen, met us at Gnarly Barley to enjoy the beautiful weather. We are now known as the cackling hens. Apparently, this is the title of Helen’s FB album where she puts pictures of us. I am guessing we earned the name (thanks, Shelly) because we do a great deal of cackling when we are together. Shelly and I became best friends when we met in the 3rd grade at St. Matthew the Apostle School in River Ridge. We lived down the street from each other growing up and now live down the street from each other as adults. Helen joined our friend group in high school and moved to Hammond in February after living in Colorado for many years.

Ironically, not one of us drank a German beer or ate German food (line too long). HA! I ordered Party Punch, a Berliner Weisse, which is “a luscious sour beer teeming with Cranberry and Pomegranate flavors.” Beer is not my favorite alcoholic beverage; however, this beer was tasty and tart, and it looked as if a foamy ghost was in my cup. Barry ordered a Imperial Peanut Butter Korova. The other two cackling hens did not order any beer as they had errands to run before coming to my house later that evening to watch Hocus Pocus 2.

Yesterday, I planned to watch Hocus Pocus 2 for the first movie on my Halloween Movie Marathon list. It is currently streaming on Disney+. I thought it would be fun to invite the cackling hens and Shelly’s husband Kerry to join Barry and me for a movie night, especially since it was not a scary movie. Most of my friends do NOT share my love of horror movies. Shelly’s daughter Claire also joined us after her shift ended at work.

We ate hotdogs with homemade chili (yum) and Bag of Bones Cheetos (yum). Barry mixed Hocus Pocus cocktails (delish) for us to enjoy during the movie. It only required four ingredients (2 Tbsp each): white grape juice, Melon liqueur, Sour Apple liqueur, and Vodka. We chose purple sugar to rim our glasses. The movie was witchy and wonderful, and we all enjoyed it. What a fang-tastic evening hanging out with friends!

Barry and I like to watch movies together; however, from time to time, we will pick a television series to watch together. Recently, he and I started watching an FX television show streaming on HULU called What We Do in the Shadows. We generally watch a couple of episodes on Friday evenings. It is a mockumentary comedy horror series, following the lives of four vampires living together on Staten Island in New York. Barry and I think it is hilarious. My favorite character is Guillermo de la Cruz, Nandor’s familiar, played by the actor Harvey Guillén. He has been employed for 10 years as a familiar and desperately wants Nandor to turn him into a vampire. Barry and I are currently on Season 2, and Guillermo has not been turned into a vampire, yet.

Time for me to do some more Halloween decorating. I want to tackle the mantle above my fireplace. So far, the fall season is off to a superb start. Oh, and to make it even more magnificent, The Walking Dead is back tonight for the 3rd part of its 11th season. I have to savor every episode since this is the last season. What were your plans for the first weekend of the spooky season, dear reader? Happiness!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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