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November was an outstanding reading month for me! I completed 10 books in the month of November, finished the #moremontgomerychallenge, fulfilled four prompts on Kelsi’s Nostalgic November Readathon, and made progress on Melissa’s 7th Grade Book Challenge. November is also the month I completed the most books of the year. As of today, I have read 70 books throughout 2022. I have surpassed my Goodreads goal of 50 books, and I still have two more weeks left of the year with plenty of superb stories to finish the year off splendidly. How I would love to end the year with at least 75 books under my belt in 2022!

Since several of my books/stories overlapped for the different challenges, I will wrap up the month by Readathons instead of my normal categories. With that being said, I still managed to read a nonfiction book, several children’s literature books (#Read21in2021 Challenge), a Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club selection, and a book written by Stephen King for Year of King.

#MoreMontgomeryChallenge

Of all of my bookish adventures in November, I am the most proud of completing every prompt on the bingo board for the #MoreMontgomeryChallenge that was hosted by booktubers, Mitzi (Mitzi Reads and Writes) and Elizabeth (LizzyfayeLovesBooks). This was a three-month long reading challenge (September-November) which ended on November 30th, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthday. However, I read only one book in September (Anne of Avonlea) for the “Read An Anne Book” prompt and did nothing in October because of the spooky season.

Therefore, I had to complete the remaining eight prompts in November. In addition to reading stories/books, two of the prompts were to watch something related to the works of L.M. Montgomery. For “Watch Any Anne Adaptation,” I watched the 2016 version of Anne of Green Gables which I really enjoyed. There are two other versions that I would love to watch in the future. For “Watch Any Non-Anne Adaptation,” I chose an episode (Season 1, Episode 4) from the television series, Road to Avonlea. Although Anne Shirley is not a character in the episode, it does include other characters from Anne of Green Gables. I really enjoyed the episode and plan to make some time in the future to watch the entire series.

As for the reading prompts, my favorite book was Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side. This young adult selection fulfilled the “Short Story Collection” prompt. This collection includes 19 tales, some with supernatural elements and some with darker societal subject matter. Since I have not read much L.M. Montgomery, I chose “The Deacon’s Painkiller” from this collection to satisfy the “Reread or Rewatch A Favorite” prompt. It was one of the more humorous stories in the collection and provides a good lesson for Andrew, the protagonist in the story. While I enjoyed all of the stories in the collection which I read throughout the entire month, the following stories were my absolute favorites:

  • “Davenport’s Story”
  • “The Deacon’s Painkiller”
  • “Detected by the Camera”
  • “The House Party at Smoky Island”
  • “The Man on the Train”
  • “Miss Calista’s Peppermint Bottle”
  • “Some Fools and a Saint”
  • “White Magic”

Another young adult selection that I read was Kilmeny of the Orchard. What a pleasant surprise! This short novel, counted for the “Standalone Novel” prompt. It is a sweet love story about a recent college graduate, who takes a temporary teaching position in the small town of Lindsay where he meets a beautiful mute girl named Kilmeny. Mitzi recommended both this book and the short story collection to me which turned out to be wonderful recommendations.

Two middle-grade selections for this challenge were Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce for the “Nonfiction or Biographical” prompt and Emily of New Moon adapted by Pricilla Galloway for the “Book From Duology or Trilogy” prompt. While both books were well-written and entertaining, I want to read more biographies about L.M. Montgomery and an unabridged version of Emily of New Moon, especially if I continue the Emily trilogy.

The final prompt, “A Retelling or Anything Related” and a huge disappointment was Anne of Manhattan, an adult fictional retelling by Brina Starler. While I think Starler writes well and is a good storyteller, I was not thrilled with how the characters of Anne of Green Gables were portrayed overall in this retelling. Personally, it could have been fantastic minus the excessive drinking, the graphic sex scenes, and the situation with Anne’s thesis professor. It was hard imagining Anne Shirley, who is one of my favorite literary characters, and her friends behaving the way they did in this novel.

I loved participating in this reading challenge. L.M. Montgomery has become a new author favorite of mine. I look forward to reading more of her work as well as reading more about her life. Additionally, since I got blackout on the bingo board, my name was put into a drawing, and I won a prize. I will be receiving two books from the Pat series by L.M. Montgomery. Elizabeth will be mailing them to me. Exciting!

Nostalgic November

Kelsi hosted Nostalgic November on her channel. I completed four squares on the board.

  • Old Technology on Cover/In Story (Only The Brave by Paul Evan Lehman)
  • Female Author/Woman Protagonist (Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw)
  • Witches or Magical Elements (Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman)
  • Retro/Vintage Mood Read (The Dead Zone by Stephen King)

#Book Challenge

My friend Melissa, who I worked with at HGCS, teaches 7th Grade Language Arts and created a challenge for her students as a way to make reading for Accelerated Reader more fun. So, I decided to participate in this challenge as well. This challenge runs from mid October until December 12th. I had already reached my AR goal, so I fulfilled the Free Space. Otherwise, I did not complete any prompts in October. I did a combination of books and short stories for the prompts I read in November.

  • Read a Book Outside for 15 minutes (“White Magic” from Among the Shadows by L.M. Montgomery)
  • Read a Genre that You have Never Read (Only the Brave by Paul Evan Lehman)
  • Read a Book from a Series (Emily of New Moon adapted by Priscilla Galloway)
  • Read at an Appointment (Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce)
  • Read a Book Just Because It Has an Amazing Cover (Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw)

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman was our November book club selection. It has witchy vibes, magical elements, and romance. A bit more romance than any of us was expecting.

It follows three generations of sisters who are gifted with magic of varying degrees. There is plenty of heartwarming moments blended with heartbreak and dangerous situations. Even though some of the romance was over the top, and I am not a fan of insta-love, I enjoyed the relationships between the women and the overall plot. 4 stars!

Dear reader, if you want to hear more about my thoughts on any of the books I read in November, please check out my wrap up on my YouTube channel, Kat’s Novel Adventures.

Year of King

Kelsi and I chose The Dead Zone for November. This slow burn was a reread for me, and I was excited to revisit it.

After having a second serious accident, Johnny Smith falls into a five-year coma. When he awakens, he discovers his life has dramatically changed and he has developed second sight. Because of his new gift, he finds himself involved in a murder case and faces an adversary with political connections. It has a good balance of heartbreak, turbulence, and rawness that make for an enjoyable read. 4 stars!

Kelsi and I had a grand ole time discussing The Dead Zone (novel, film adaptation, and first episode of the television show) on December 11th. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

My sister Rachel and I finally finished the 5-star read, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. I recently published a blog post, “Book Nook: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” where I shared my thoughts on this AWESOME book. We are planning to read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life, starting in January 2023.

December is in full force, and I am participating in three readathons. What is wrong with me, dear reader? LOL. I am currently reading The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand for #Read21in21. NO book club selection for December. My book club is on hiatus until January. Our first selection for 2023 will be No Exit by Taylor Adams. Kelsi and I are reading The Shining for our Year of King project. This will be our last book for this reading project. Our live discussion about the novel, movies, and documentary will be in January. Date and time TBD. Last but not least, my nonfiction selection this month is The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour. 

Thanks, dear reader, for reading this very long blog post. I appreciate YOU. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

There is no friend as loyal as a book. ~ Ernest Hemingway

What an AWESOME reading experience! I have been wanting to revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle since 2021. Thankfully, I not only read it again (for the third time), but I also buddy read it with my sister Rachel over the course of four months. She set up Zoom meetings for the duration of the book, and we met online on Wednesday evenings. I also listened to Eckhart Tolle’s podcast episodes with Oprah for each chapter and took notes to incorporate in our discussions.

For me, A New Earth is the perfect book to read when feeling overwhelmed, wanting to make a change, or struggling in an area (in my case areas) of life. Unfortunately, I have been on the struggle bus for some time. I seem to end one season of sacrifice, just to enter another one shortly afterwards. Since 2022 has been all about CHANGE (my one-word theme for the year), my life desperately needed to undergo another transformation, an awakening boost, a reminder to be present. By having my sister join me on this reading adventure, her ideas and knowledge from her own spiritual journey helped me tremendously. This was Rachel’s first time reading A New Earth; however, she read his book, The Power of Now, so she was already familiar with Tolle’s spiritual teachings and the practice of being in the present moment.

A New Earth has 10 chapters with the first chapter setting the stage by explaining human consciousness, the purpose of the book, and the need for transformation, not only within ourselves, but also within the world around us. From there, the next three chapters explore the ego, its core, and its many faces. When most people think ego, they associate it with arrogance or being braggadocious, and that is one way ego presents itself. However, complaining, resentment, faultfinding, playing the victim, and negative self-talk are other examples of the ego. The “illusory sense of self” is the ego.

Chapters 5 and 6 tackle the pain-body and breaking free from it. Eckhart Tolle states, “Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain, which I call “the pain-body” (140). The pain-body is your story, your emotional baggage from the past, and it can wreak havoc on your thinking. As Tolle explains, “Whenever you get taken over by the pain-body, whenever you don’t recognize it for what it is, it becomes part of your ego. Whatever you identify with turns into ego” (181).

Thankfully, we can break free from our painbodies, but it takes work, especially if you have a huge one. Personally, I am still working on breaking free from my own pain-body. My meetings with Rachel helped significantly when reading and discussing these chapters because we share a childhood and similar events that have contributed to our pain-bodies. I think it is also important to pay close attention to when your pain-body resurfaces. Mine tends to become more prevalent when I am exhausted or feeling overwhelmed. My ego tells me to throw in the towel and quit because I am wasting my time. Sadly, I am listening more and more to my ego. Part of it is because the year is winding down, and I am extremely disappointed with myself for not reaching goals or not being more ahead of the game. I had plenty of expectations, and I do not feel like I have met them. Therefore, with the last two weeks left of 2022, I need to sit with myself in the present moment and reflect on my year. I know as I write about my feelings of failure that my ego is loving me being hard on myself. However, I recognize the feelings I am having right now stems from the ego, so I thank the ego and kick it to the curb. I have to finish this post, and I really do not have the time or energy to deal with my ego’s game. HA!

Chapter 7 is an important chapter. It is about finding out who you truly are, knowing yourself, knowing about yourself, and developing a relationship with the NOW (the present moment). Eckhart says, “The decision to make the present moment into your friend is the end of the ego…Time is what the ego lives on” (201). He further explains, “Fear, anxiety, expectation, regret, guilt, anger are the dysfunctions of the time-bound state of consciousness” (202). And, I can take this idea a step further with examining what influences some of those emotions which my sister shared with me. Sadness is influenced by the lack of something; anger is influenced by the identification or attachment to something or someone; and anxiety is influenced by the feeling of not having control. Once she shared this nugget of wisdom with me, which makes so much sense, I can now acknowledge what is influencing my emotion, thank the ego for pointing it out, and give myself grace. Rachel also shared that last part with me as well. Dear reader, this has been immensely helpful to me. I am practicing it right now by writing this blog post.

Chapters 8-10 is all about discovering inner space and learning to enjoy the present moment, realizing that your inner purpose is to awaken, and putting the three modalities of awakened doing into your daily life. Eckhart emphasizes the importance of those modalities when he states, “If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others” (295). Let us be clear that when we use the term acceptance we do not mean that we are in total agreement with a situation, but rather that we accept a situation as “what is” in the present moment and willingly take action to deal with it. For example, if I get a flat tire, I accept that I have a flat tire and it is inconvenient instead of getting angry, or ranting and raving while kicking the flat tire. All of those negative shenanigans (fueled by the ego) do not make me feel better about the situation (the flat tire) or actually fix the tire. I do not have to like that I have a flat tire, but I can accept it in order to willingly (calmly) take action to get my tire fixed and continue with my day.

I have awakened, dear reader, and have been since I first read A New Earth 12 years ago; however, I am a work in progress. I needed a kick in the pants so to speak. I can recognize my ego in myself and in others. One of my biggest stumbling blocks I have with ego is dealing with other people’s egos, especially family members. I must be better at evaluating their egos and why they are acting a fool. Then, accept their behavior in the present moment and not react with my ego. It does not mean I have to like their behavior or them for that matter. I strive to be present, smile, acknowledge the interaction is temporary, and enjoy the moment. Harder said than done, but necessary if I want a joyful life. Happiness!

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle,  A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Ho, ho, ho! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; Christmas Evil is more like it. I am participating in the Christmas Evil Readathon this month with an ambitious reading goal. Strategically, I picked a couple of books that could count for numerous prompts, so if I cannot read all of the books on my list, I can at least complete the bingo board. I am currently reading Crooked House by Agatha Christie for the Slay Bells prompt and Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil by Al Ridenour for the Krampus prompt. In addition to reading books throughout the month, there will be movie watch parties, photo prompts, and a virtual Christmas party that includes singing zombie Christmas carols.

I am also participating in the Cloak and Dagger Christmas Readathon, wrapping up Melissa’s 7th Grade Book Challenge, and reading the first book selected for the #fomobookclub. I know, I know, dear reader. Like I said, it is ambitious. Thankfully, Crooked House by Agatha Christie can also count for both Cloak and Dagger and Melissa’s challenge. Additionally, I am reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige which will tie up Melissa’s challenge nicely with a bow, and it could technically count for the Santa’s Little Helper prompt.

If you want to hear more about my reading goals for December and the prompts for Cloak and Dagger Christmas, please check out my video with all the details. You’ll get a preview of one of the zombie Christmas carols we will be singing at the Christmas party on Saturday, 17 December.

Yuletide Movie Marathon

My Yuletide movie marathon is underway and the first two movies I have watched thus far have been duds. I watched The Gingerdead Man and Ugly Sweater Party with the Christmas Evil folks on discord, and they were both AWFUL. However, I have to admit The Gingerdead Man was better. HA! Watching both of these terrible films with a group of people on discord while chatting throughout the films made both experiences less painful on my eyeballs and more fun overall.

I always start my Christmas movie marathon with 12 horror movies set in winter or around the Christmas holidays. Except for the two terrible movies I have already watched, I think the other 10 movies on my list will be enjoyable. The Thing (1982) and 30 Days of Night are both rewatches for me and are a guaranteed good time. It has been quite awhile since I have seen them last, so I am looking forward to rewatching them. They are both awesome horror movies set in extremely cold temperatures. Violent Night is currently in the movie theaters, and my plan is to see it this week.

After I watch all of the scary movies, I watch 12 traditional Christmas movies plus two annual Christmas films that I love, Elf and Love Actually. All of the movies on this list are new watches for me, and I am excited to give them a whirl this holiday season. Unlike my books which will strictly fulfill my December reading goals, the movies I have chosen will more than likely bleed into next month. Technically, the Christmas season ends in early January. Sometime after watching our holiday movies, Kelsi and I are planning to have a chat to discuss the movies we watch during this festive season.

Reading books and watching movies at Christmastime are just a couple of the ways to make the holiday season more special for me. I will be sharing my Winter Fun List soon. I am slightly behind with my writing because I have been reading a great deal and creating weekly content for my new YouTube channel. Hopefully, I will get caught up this next week. What are your plans for the Christmas season, dear reader? Do you create a winter or holiday fun list? Let me know in the comments or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Happiness!

“Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.” ~ Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street

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.

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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.

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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

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