Tuesday, August 30, 2011

400 Inches of Binding...

Quote for the Day:
"When I learned how to quilt, I forgot how to cook."
  ~author unknown

For the last couple of days I've been doing this...

...sewing the 400" of binding to the whole cloth quilt.  That's right...the perimeter of the quilt is 400"...well...actually 396"...but who's gonna quibble over the difference???  LOL

It's almost done...YIPPEE!!!  And for those who are curious...it takes me about 6 hours, more or less, to attach that amount of binding to a quilt this size. 

And, of course, directly behind my chair that I sit in to do the binding is my trusty friend and shadow...

...Lady.  Sleeping, or playing possum, in her bed in my sewing room under the sewing table.

Where ever I am, she's never but a few feet away from me.  :)  It's so nice to be adored like that!  :D


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blog Post In Which I Do Not Try For a Snappy Title...

Quote for the Day:
"Be yourself!  Who else is better qualified?"
-Frank J. Giblin

On Friday, I opened my paper to find my husband on the front page...

Yep...I can recognize him from any angle after 30 years!  LOL  Love you, Andrew! 

Also, on Friday, I received a phone call regarding a "For Sale" sign that I had put up in my favorite quilt store.  Since moving up to my Hinterberg 3-roller floor quilt frame that Andy got me for my birthday last year, I decided to sell my Grace floor hoop.

A quilter had seen my "For Sale" sign and wanted to buy it!!  So on Saturday I drove over to the quilt store to meet the lady and make the sale.

While there I went in to chat with Janet, the quilt store owner who had let me put the sign up on her bulletin board and she asked me if I would please teach a hand quilting class in her shop.  We bantered some ideas back and forth for the class and I told her I would think about it and come up with something.  :)

I put a message out on a quilting forum I'm on and asked for advice from people who had taught hand quilting classes and who had taken them.  I have gotten some good responses as to what people want, etc.  So I will make a list of ideas and share them with Janet and see what we can come up with!  :)

I've had several items sell on Ebay this week which makes me very happy!  Things leaving my house!!  YAY!  I have more auctions ending this week and, so far, 2 of them have bids!  YAY again!  :)

Last night I trimmed the whole cloth quilt and sewed the binding on the front by machine.  Now I'm going to flip it to the back and hand sew it down...

Today I went and did my coupon shopping at Walgreen's & Rite Aid.

Does it count if you drink 2% milk while eating M & M's??  Do they cancel each other out like it does when you drink a diet soda while eating dessert???  :D

I got $18.10 worth of product, paid $5.04 out-of-pocket, got $5.00 back in Register Rewards, making this trip a net cost of $.04!!!  If you are wondering about why I buy milk there...this is a classic example of knowing what things cost where.  I am always telling people that even though places like Walgreen's are frequently higher on their non-sale prices than other places like Walmart, you can't ASSUME that they are.  I have found that Walgreen's can be very competitive in their prices on certain things.  Broughton milk at Walmart is $3.69...Broughton milk at Walgreen's is $3.14!!!  

Rite Aid

At Rite Aid I got $24.36 worth of product, paid $3.93 out-of-pocket, got 8.99 back in Single Check Rebates and +Up Rewards, making this a $5.06 money-maker for me!  :)

Hope everyone has remained safe through "Irene".  :)  


Monday, August 22, 2011

The RSVP...Schrock-style...

Quote for the Day:
"Our childhood is what we spend the rest of our lives overcoming."
---Amy Bennett 

I come from a large, loud, boisterous family...well, at least I thought I did till I met my husband's family!  LOL  You see...there are six siblings in my family and each one of us thinks we are right...about everything.   (I can see our spouses nodding their heads "yes" even as I type this...LOL)  THEN I met Andy's family...there are thirteen kids in his family...yes, you read that right...THIRTEEN... and they all think they are right...about everything!  And they're loud, too, btw.

But I stand by my original statement that our family is loud and boisterous when we get together.  And get together we shall come October when most of us will attend our niece's wedding.  :)

My niece is very creative and made all her wedding invitations...

...and her RSVP cards...

Well...I thought the RSVP card was very cute and different than anything I'd ever seen before, so I couldn't resist having a bit of fun with it..."Schrock" style...
When the bride-to-be puts on the information sheet that she sends out in her invitations that there is a thrift store by the motel and another one close-by, that says something about the family, right???  LOL  Hell, I'd show up for the wedding just to go to the thrift store!!  Just kidding, Kristin...I'm really coming to see you get married.  *wink wink*.  But it was very thoughtful of you to have the reception near a thrift store!  That's how you know we're related!    :D  Gotta love that girl!!!   :)

Also...the Schrocks do love to eat, so I thought about putting a mark by all four meal options, but I didn't because I know they need the information to make plans with the caterer, so I refrained.

Kristin...we're looking forward to being there with you for your big day!  :)

Remember Lady, my side-kick that follows me everywhere???

Poor Lady...she's twelve years old and has never had fleas before in her life.  But this summer, we've been battling them since the beginning of July.  We've always used Frontline Plus, and up till now it has been very effective.  However, after much struggling to rid her of the fleas, I did some research online and many people have posted on various sites that after years of use, it seems to stop working.  There is speculation that the fleas become immune to it or that Frontline has changed the formula.  But whatever the reason, I'm D-O-N-E!  

The vet has suggested a new product called Trifexis so today I went and picked some up and she has had her first dose.  They also recommended a product to spray on the carpet, bedding, etc., to kill the fleas.  Here's hoping it all works.  Poor baby...she doesn't need this aggravation in her senior years.  :(

Last night I put the final quilting stitches into the whole-cloth quilt that I started last November.  :) 

Forgive the shoes under the foot of the bed, but our bedroom does not have any closets so we have two free-standing wardrobes...his and hers...and there just isn't enough room for very many shoes in the bottom, so I leave out my four pair that I wear most often.  Deal with it!  LOL

It still needs to have the excess trimmed off, the binding attached, a label added to the back and then washed.  Once washed the blue lines will wash out and all you'll see is the quilting design.  This thing is HUGE!  I guess I really didn't need to add 4" to both sides to make it wide enough...LOL.  My bad!  I think it will easily fit a king-size bed, now.

When the binding, etc., is all done, I'll post pictures again and show the back at that time, too.

The next quilt to go into the frame will be the one for my nephew and his wife...the sunflower quilt.

I still need to add the three borders to the top, but this is the center of the quilt.  Any suggestions as to what design to use in the quilting? 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Busy Weekend...

Quote for the Day:
"We'll buy ANYTHING we think we can make a buck on"
~Frank Fritz, American Pickers

I wonder if Frank and Mike (American Pickers) are close cousins to Andy???

Andy is "a wheeler and a dealer".  He goes to auctions and yard sales and picks up things, mainly vintage/collectible glassware and antique crocks, to resell for a profit.  He usually does a large part of this selling at the yard sale that we have, usually every summer.

However, with us both working our tails off this summer, and the supposed kitchen remodel that we have going right now, the summer has kinda gotten away from us and it doesn't look he is going to have a free weekend for us to have our usual yard sale this year.

So...to clear some of the stuff out that would normally be sold at the yard sale...AND to make some money...Saturday was spent photographing things to list on Craigslist and Ebay.  I listed a lot of auctions yesterday as  well as a couple listings on CL.  One of the listings on CL was for a Fire King Egg Nog punch bowl and mugs, which sold this afternoon.

When the person was here buying it, he found two of Andy's crocks that he wanted, too.  :):):)   Andy made out BIG TIME on the crocks!  YAY!!!  

In addition, this person also buys scrap gold, so I pulled some broken chains, earrings that I had lost the mate to, etc., out of my jewelry box.  He checked them out, weighed them (he had his scale with him), and then paid me $450 for them.   I've been thinking about doing that for a while now...just had never taken the plunge, so to speak.  I wear very little jewelry...just my wedding ring, my "mother's" ring, my watch, earrings, and occasionally, a bracelet, so this seemed like a logical step to starting to clear out the jewelry boxes.

We also sold a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes on CL this afternoon!! 

It's been a lot of work doing all the photographing, listing, and packing of items, and we aren't done, yet, but it feels good to be getting rid of stuff and making $$$ at the same time!  :)

Also, I've finally convinced Andy to sell the F150 truck that we've had a for 6 years but that has mainly been sitting idly by because 1)  since we replaced our wood stove with a coal stove we don't have to haul fire wood anymore;  and 2)  we can't afford the gas to feed it!  So this evening, we will write up something to put in the truck window with info on it, and also will be writing up a listing for the local "Bulletin Board", which is a local "pennysaver" type newspaper.  We'll probably also list it on CL while we are at it.

In the midst of all of this wheelin' and dealin' this afternoon, I went over to Rite Aid and Walgreen's to do my couponing.

From Walgreen's...

I got $55.30 worth of product, spent $2.75 out-of-pocket, got $6.00 back in Register Rewards...making this trip a $3.25 money-maker for me!  :)  (I gummy bears!!!)

From Rite Aid...

I got $20.76 worth of product, spent $3.59 out-of-pocket, got $9.99 back in +Up Rewards...making this trip a $6.40 money-maker for me!  :)


Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Empty Nest...

Quote for the Day:
 "Adolescence is perhaps nature's way of preparing parents
to welcome the empty nest."
---Karen Savage and Patricia Adams 

Our nest is now empty...

Yes...the robin's nest in our plum tree had 3 little blue eggs in it the first weekend of August...

Then we noticed 3 little birdie heads pointing straight up out of the nest a couple weeks ago.  

But, alas, it is now empty.

I hope Mama Robin and Papa Robin are now enjoying their free time...flying to visit the kids and grandkids and flying south to Florida in the winter.  Once the babies leave the nest, it's "me" time for the parents! 

I half expected to see the nest turned into a craft or sewing room, now that the kids have moved out.  But it looks like maybe the nest needs some repairs, so the parents may have moved into an apartment or condo where they no longer have to worry about the upkeep themselves.  I hope that by abandoning the nest, it won't cause the neighborhood to go downhill.  You can already see how the nest has gone into ruins in just a few short days since they Robins moved out.  Maybe squatters will take over the nest now that it is vacant.  :( 

Or maybe a pair of love birds will buy it, move in, fix it up, and make it a home again!  :)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Face of Chronic Pain...

Quote for the Day:
“In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.” 
— Albert Camus

About a year ago I started to have back pain that became more and more severe.  I went to my chiropractor and massage therapist, but without relief...even after several visits.  After about 6 weeks of suffering and the pain getting worse and worse, I finally went to my medical doctor.  After x-rays and an MRI, I was diagnosed with 2 "small" disc herniations and arthritis in my back.  I was started on physical therapy, NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), pain medicine, a round of steroids, and was taken off of work for what ended up being 5 weeks.

With rest and PT, the pain got "better", but never totally disappeared, probably because of the arthritis.  I finally got to a point where things had "leveled off"...and we decided that PT had done all it could for me at the time.  By this time, I had returned to my job and, for the most part, unless I overdid it, my pain was fairly well under control.  It was during this time that I learned what I could and could not do without causing pain.  I learned that leaning forward causes great pain, so when transporting a patient, I had to take the foot end of the gurney and "steer" rather than push the gurney.  I learned to "lunge" with the left leg when reaching into the fridge for the milk on the bottom shelf, etc.

In other words, many routine things in my life needed to be relearned or not done at all.

I have still been seeing my medical doctor for follow-ups every 2 months, as well as continuing to go to the chiropractor and massage therapist.  Over the course of the last 8 months or so, the pain has started to worsen again to the point where I am in pain.  Everyday.  Pretty much all day long.  And now the pain frequently radiates down my left leg to behind the knee.  Sitting and laying down hurt the most, but even standing can hurt, too.

I am still on high doses of NSAIDS and use pain meds when the pain gets "unbearable".  I have issues with pain meds, including most of them make me nauseated...the only one that doesn't make me nauseated has been taken off the market since my back injury.  Fortunately, I still have some left from when they were ordered for me last October, and I guard them carefully...taking them only when absolutely necessary.  Since I am dealing with a chronic issue (arthritis) that will presumably only get worse in the future, I am also afraid of raising my tolerance to pain meds by taking too many now.  Though I've never had an addiction to drugs or alcohol, my fear of developing a dependence on pain meds and raising my tolerance to pain meds keeps me from taking them until the pain is severe and unbearable, often with me ending up in tears while I wait for the meds to take effect.

I have only missed one day of work due to my back pain since returning to work last November, and I rarely mention that I am in pain because I know that people tune you out after a while.  So even though I may be doing my usual duties or laughing and joking and carrying on as normal, I am still in pain.  All. The. Time.

Pain makes sleep difficult.  Pain makes work difficult.  Pain makes "life" difficult.

As a nurse, how do you extend comfort and caring to patients when they tell you they are in pain when you are in pain, too...possibly as much or more than the patient?  It's a challenge, to say the least.

I have an appointment with my medical doctor next week, and since things have gotten significantly worse since the last visit, I'm going to sit down with her and thoroughly discuss options and see what plan of care we can come up with, since the current one isn't working anymore.   Maybe I need another MRI since the pain has started going down my leg?  Epidural Injections?  Another round of steroids?  

I don't know...but I hope we can come up with something that won't require additional pain meds.  I wish there was a way to "fix" the problem rather than just treating the pain with medications.

Most people around me, including those close to me, don't know what I am dealing with right now and how severe the pain is much of the time.  But the chronic pain, and how it is affecting my life, is starting to wear on me.

The "take-away" from all of this?  I guess it is that we need to be mindful that each of us is fighting some kind of battle...whether it is apparent externally, or not.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Couponing...

Quote for the Day:
"There aren't enough days in the weekend." 
~Rod Schmidt

I can't believe how quickly this weekend has flown by!  :(  I had so many things that I wanted to get done, but sadly, I only got a few of them done.

I have been busily listing things on Ebay in an effort to get my sewing room back into a useable state.  I am still listing items that I got from the quilter's estate auction a few weeks ago.  There is so much that I want to list on Ebay, but it is time consuming and wears me down after photographing and writing up a few things, so I'm listing them a few things at a time when I have the time.

I also listed a piece of vintage Pyrex that Andy found this weekend for a STEAL!  

Isn't she gorgeous?  My research on the internet says this pattern was a promotional item from 1961!  She's 50 years old!!!  And not too bad for the wear, either!  :)  I've seen a lot of Pyrex in my day, but never this pattern of pine cones and pine needles.  You can find a lot of casserole dishes, but it's pretty rare to find the lid intact, too! 

There haven't been many sold on Ebay recently, but the last one did sell for $22.50.  So keep your fingers crossed for us!  :)

On a quilting note, I'm on the last "row" of quilting on the whole-cloth quilt and am hoping to finish it up in the next day or so.  I'll post pictures when it is completely done!  :)

On Friday, Erin and Dale closed escrow on their first house and have spent this weekend moving in!  I'm very excited for them and can't wait to see it when we visit in September!  :)  

Today I did my couponing at Walgreen's and Rite Aid.

From Walgreen's:

I got $51.52 worth of product, paid $3.76 out-of-pocket, got $14.00 back in Register Rewards, making this trip a $10.24 moneymaker for me!  :)

From Rite Aid:

I got $24.82 worth of product, paid $3.51 out-of-pocket, got $7.00 back in +Up Rewards, making this trip a $3.49 moneymaker for me.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Couponing Day and Some Decluttering...

Quote for the Day:
"By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest." 

We found out yesterday that our Marine nephew was scheduled to leave Afghanistan and return Stateside this weekend!!!  We are very happy to hear that news!   We are very proud of him for volunteering to serve our country, but very grateful that he had a safe tour of duty and is now returning home.  He still has a couple years to serve and we are trusting God that the rest of his time in the Marines will be uneventful.

Keeping this in mind, we are keeping in our thoughts and prayers, the families of the 30 troops, including 22 Navy Seals, that were not so fortunate yesterday when their helicopter was shot down.

Today, I did some decluttering of the "medicine cabinet" in the downstairs bathroom.  I use quotation marks because that is what it is called, but I don't keep any medicine in it...only cosmetics and toiletries.   Unfortunately, I did not get a "before" picture.  :(  It is your basic medicine cabinet with sliding mirrored doors.

And here are the after pictures...

left side

right side

I went through and threw out some outdated toiletries and then added the organizers on the top shelf to hold extras of things (when I find something on sale at a really good price, I try to stock up.)

This shows what I threw out...

I also did my couponing...though the deals were "slim-pickins' " today...

Rite Aid...

I got $15.30 worth of product, paid $5.70 out-of-pocket, got $6.00 in +Up Rewards...making this a $.30 moneymaker, plus the free product!  :)

For the hand-quilters that read my blog...I use the brush-on liquid bandage on my underneath finger when it gets too tender from too much hand-quilting!  :)  Let's me keep on quilting, but protects it!

From Walgreen's...

They are having photo specials each day this week, and today's was one free 8 X 10 enlargement.  I've been wanting a picture of Erin & Dale to put on the entertainment center, so I had this one that was taken last summer at Erin's college graduation enlarged to fit a frame that I already have!  :)   (Dale really needs to learn to smile in pictures!  He has a great smile...don't know why he doesn't like to for pics, though.)

At Walgreen's, I got $23.11 worth of items, paid $1.94 out-of-pocket, got $4.00 in Register Rewards, making this a $2.06 moneymaker for me! 

Thanks for listening...   :)


Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's a Disease...

Quote for the Day:
"We admitted we were powerless over our addiction..."
~ Step 1 of the Twelve Step Program

"Hi, my name's Loretta, and I am addicted to sewing machines."
"Hi, Loretta, welcome!"

I can see it now...Sewing Machine Collector's Anonymous.  Seriously...we need a program!  Oh...and one for Fabric Collector's, too!  :)

Okay, okay...confession time! 

Last night Andy TWISTED my arm and FORCED me to attend an auction with him.  Some of the items looked like they were from an estate, but most of the items came from an antique store.  They were all very clean and nice and some even still had the tags or stickers from the store on them.  (The auctioneer said they tried to remove the stickers, but some they couldn't get off easily.)

I had seen the pictures of things up for auction on the online site we go to to scope out auctions we want to attend, and I had seen a vintage sewing machine that was going to be at this auction.

Now, let me tell you right here and now that we saw that another more popular auctioneer was having an auction last night, too, so we figured that the dealers, etc., would be at that auction and the "regular folks" like us would be at this auction. 

And I can tell you right now that that is exactly what happened!!!  Things went DIRT CHEAP!  Much cheaper than we could have even imagined! 

So, in my defense, I saw it as my responsibility to bid on this vintage sewing machine that I've been wanting to add to my collection for a while now...

For those of you who don't know, this is a Singer 301 long bed, slant-needle sewing machine, manufactured in Anderson, SC, in either 1950 or 1951.  It is considered by sewers and quilters to be the "Big Sis" to the Singer Featherweight, one of which I was able to purchase at an auction in Maine in April.   

This machine was made so it could be portable or to fit into a special cabinet.  The left-hand side of the bed flips up for storing in it's case.  Mine came in a case, but it was so water damaged that it is not worth trying to save. 

Now, for the kicker...remember when I said it was my responsibility to bid on this machine???  Well...I was the ONLY bidder on this machine and got it for a crisp $2.00 bill!!!

Okay...all of the quilters who read my blog are now picking themselves up off the floor at this point!  LOL

They sell on Ebay for between $75 and $225!!!  See...I told you things were going cheaper than even what we could have imagined! 

As soon as I got it home, I looked at the manual to find out how to oil and lubricate the machine and motor...did as the manual said to do...then plugged her in and she purred like a kitten!  YAY!!!  She was very clean, inside and out.  If it hadn't been for thread on the bobbins that came with her, I would have thought she had never been used as there are no scratches or pin marks in the paint on the machine's bed.

I feel extremely blessed to have gotten this little gem!  :)  Right place, right time! 

We also picked up an antique Warren Telechron mantel clock made during WWII, from what we were able to find on the internet.  Plugged it in and it started right up!  :) 

This is the picture we found on the internet of our clock...

Ours is in almost perfect condition (think antique store item) and we paid a whopping $4.00 for it!  :)

I'm sure that whoever was having this stuff auctioned off was not too happy with the low prices that things were going for.  :(  But as buyers, Andy & I were very happy!  :D

I said in my last blog post that I would review the audiobook that I was just starting at that time...

"This Is Not The Story You Think It is...A Season of Unlikely Happiness" by Laura Munson gets TWO THUMBS DOWN from me.  I'd give it more thumbs down, but I only have two to use.

I wasn't even able to make it past the first hour.  Boring and self-adulatory is the best way to describe it.  It was about as interesting as reading a quantum physics textbook.  :(

Okay...that's my opinion...everyone's entitled to their own opinion,  and that was my opinion and review of that book...for what it's worth!  :)

Today I made another batch of blackberry jam...this time I made cooked jam and water-bath canned it.  This is the third batch of jam I've gotten from our blackberries this year...the other two batches were freezer jam and I got 7 jars from each batch.  The cooked jam recipe made 10 jars today.  I think there may be enough berries left on the bushes to make one more batch before they come to the end of their harvest. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Reviews...

Quote for the Day:
"Always read something that will make you look good
if you die in the middle of it." 
~P.J. O'Rourke

I realized that I hadn't done any reviews of the books I've been reading and listening to lately...so I thought I'd update you on what's been on my bedside table and on my MP3 lately.

Two audiobooks that I recently finished listening to are "Picking Cotton"  by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton.   

Synopsis:  Jennifer Thompson was raped at knife point by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken-- but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face-- and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.  In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

I actually remember hearing it on the news when Ronald Cotton was released based on DNA evidence.  This was something very new to us at the time.  I think he was the first prisoner who was released based on DNA evidence AFTER having already served part of his time.

This is a moving book about forgiveness, but also an eye-opener about things such as "eye witnesses" and biases in the judicial system...how some evidence is purposely not allowed in based on the judges decision.  We like to think our justice system is blind and is equal and fair...but I'm learning there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that we are not privy to.  It's kinda scary since we put our faith, lives and trust in a justice system that has it's flaws.  

Another book I listened to recently is "Staying True"  by Jenny Sanford.  

Synopsis:  Sanford—the wronged wife of Mark Sanford, disgraced governor of South Carolina, who famously refused to stand by him when his affair came to light—delivers a crisp and affecting reading of her memoir of her family, career, faith, and the very public implosion of her marriage. She's surprisingly relatable and possessed of a very dry wit. When the news of her husband's affair broke, her husband asked her what to say in his first public appearance. She told him, Don't talk about your heart. Watching him sob (carry on in Jenny Sanford's words) during a mea culpa almost completely devoted to matters of his heart, she was surrounded by her posse of friends, one of whom observed, He wasn't hiking the Appalachian trail, he was getting some Argentinean tail. Even if Sanford's piety occasionally finds best expression in platitudes, she turns out a memorable listen; after a while her detachment and the edge to her voice seem less like drawbacks than signs of her admirable reserve and steeliness of character.
Let me just warn you that Jenny Sanford is a devout Catholic and talks openly about her faith and how it made her who she is and how it guided her throughout this ordeal.

I have also recently finished listening to "29 Gifts:  How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" by Cami Walker.  
Synopsis:  At age thirty-five, Cami Walker was burdened by a battle with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological condition that made it difficult for her to walk, work, or enjoy her life. Seeking a remedy for her depression after being hospitalized, she received an uncommon prescription from an African medicine woman: Give to others for 29 days.  29 Gifts is the insightful story of the author’s life change as she embraces and reflects on the naturally reciprocal process of giving and receiving. Many of Walker’s gifts were simple a phone call, spare change, a Kleenex. Yet the acts were transformative. By Day 29, not only had Walker’s health and happiness improved, but she had created a worldwide giving movement.
The book also includes personal essays from others whose lives changed for the better by giving, plus pages for the reader to record their own journey. More than a memoir, 29 Gifts offers inspiring lessons on how a simple daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world.

Currently, on my bedside table is "Bad Dog:  A Love Story"  by Martin Kihn.  I'm about 3/4's done and am thoroughly enjoying it!

Synopsis:  Meet Hola. She’s a nightmare, but it’s not her fault if she tackles strangers and chews on furniture, or if she runs after buses and fried chicken containers and drug dealers. No one ever told her not to. Worse yet, she scares her family. Hola may be the most beautiful Bernese mountain dog in the world, but she’s never been trained. At least not by anyone who knew what he was doing.  Hola’s supposed master, Marty, is a high-functioning alcoholic. A TV writer turned management consultant, Marty’s in debt and out of shape; he’s about to lose his job, and one day he emerges from a haze of peach-flavored vodka to find he’s on the verge of losing his wife, Gloria, too, if he can’t get his life—and his dog—under control. 
Desperately trying to save his marriage, Marty throws himself headlong into the world of competitive dog training. Unfortunately, he knows even less than HolaHola first needs to learn how to sit. 
It won’t be easy. It certainly won’t be pretty. But maybe, just maybe, there will be cheesecake.

All four of these books are EXCELLENT and I highly recommend them!  
I have just started listening to a new audiobook but so far I'm not sure it's gonna be on the recommendation list.  I'm going to have to listen a little more to figure out if I'm going to make it to the end of the book or not.  Once I either finish the book or decide it's not worth my time, I'll post a review and let you know what I think of it...for whatever my opinion might or might not be worth!  :)