Archives for June 2017

Belinda’s Book Nook: Social Justice Reading Project (SJRP)

In 2016, there were two books that stood out among all the others that deeply affected me. One was, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson and the other was called, “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race Edited by Jesmyn Ward”. After I finished each one of them, I purposely took the time to thoroughly digest the information they provided.  With the book Just Mercy, I first saw Bryan Stevenson on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and his words moved me to find his book. I listened to the audiobook for this book which Bryan was the voice talent so he could capture his meanings even better than if someone else read the book. The book opened my heart wide to the injustice in our criminal justice system, particularly how it affects the poor minority. For me growing up, I was always raised with an awareness of the inequalities within society when it came to race. So I wasn’t completely shocked when I read this book but Bryan brings the reader into the depths of the justice system and shows you just how messed up it really is at the present. Being so inspired, I decided that I want to find a way to be part of the change. But guess what? Life took over and I put it on the back burner. Then I read The Fire This Time and was blown away by all of the essays in it by such talented authors. Many of whom I read before.  I remember stopping and sharing some of the information with Leao. Again, I felt that desire to be a part of the change.  But then, life happened again and I put it on the back burner.

Recently one of my book friends from Litsy (an online social community for book lovers) said that she had started a Social Justice Reading Project for her summer reading and create a list to read and discuss on her blog.  I finally felt the pull again and reached out to her to tell her I was very interested in creating my own as well. For these reasons, combined with all of the deaths of African American men and boys by police officers, I have decided to begin educating myself. Lastly, I am a mother of two African American boys and the thought of sending them out into the world sends me to pieces. The conversations I must have with them in order to keep them safe is heartbreaking. I wish they could be young and innocent forever, but that bubble must be burst and I have to do my job as a parent and prepare them for both the good and the bad. For these reasons, I am motivated to educate myself and then make myself available to create change.

I tend to want to sit for a while after I read such dense and heavy material so that I can reflect so I will not be reading all of these books over the summer months instead I will extend mine throughout the year and when she and I overlap, I will head on over to her discussions.   Partly because I don’t like to read anything until I have read the book so I can process and form my own opinions.

Please take some time to check out her blog – The Book Babe and see the amazing list of books she will be reading over the summer. We both have a focus on the criminal justice system as it pertains to African Americans. The important part is that we can be a part of the process of creating places (on our blogs) for more dialogue and education to occur. This is why I am so grateful for books. They allow us the opportunity to keep growing.

I will be integrating these books into my other TBRs.  So you will still continue to hear about the other books that I read. But I will tag and label my posts with SJRP (Social Justice Reading Project) so they are easy to find.

The following are a list of books that I would like to read for my SJRP:

I look forward to reading and sharing my experience with you. This book blog will help me to learn to articulate such important information so that I and others might grow.

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

Hello, my bookworm buddies! I have been rather naughty and have left you in the dark of all the great books I have been reading lately. I am just coming out of a little reading slump and realized I haven’t written and posted any reviews for quite a while. So here are my thoughts on one the books I read last month.

I can’t remember where I heard about this book but I remember thinking I needed to buy it. I ordered it used from and this spring seemed like the perfect time to read it. I took a photo of the cover next to my flowers.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had successfully overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbor’s yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he’s very good at gardening.

Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol’s yard but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.

My thoughts:

I found this book very easy to get into. I liked hearing Carol’s story and think she did a fantastic job capturing her developing relationship with Mr. Owita. Carol opened up about so much with regard to her cancer and how she viewed herself before and after her diagnosis. Of course, being a gardener myself, I enjoyed the sprinkling of gardening talk throughout the book. She had a great way of tying the plants and gardening to her story.

I don’t typically read reviews about books until I have read and written my own. However, when I was searching to get the synopsis of the book, I stumbled across a very critical review that said that Carol was whiny and I was taken aback. I can’t comprehend what someone going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment is experiencing. Therefore, I would not use the word whiny to refer to their response to a terminal illness.  In fact, I found the book to be quite the opposite. I liked how she and Giles’ relationship developed over a slow process into an amazing friendship. I always believe that things happen for a reason and I believe they were meant to meet. I would recommend this book because it is a good way to glimpse into the experience if it is not yours and to find appreciation for your own life. So I will give this book 3 1/2 butterflies.

Title: Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart
Author: Carol Wall
Copyright: March 14, 2014
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
Format: book Pages: 294

Spring planting

The weather was so warm two weeks ago, so I had to get out there and begin my spring planting. Apollo was my helper when it came to planting my Dahlia bulbs.  He likes digging and he really loved playing with all of the worms we encountered.

When he finished with me, he took some time to play with his dad! He has had these since he was really little but he is really too big for them but it was fun watching them ride around the driveway!

Every year, for some time now, I take my father-in-law plant shopping for his father’s day gift. We learned a few years ago that it’s better to go right after Mother’s day to get the best plants. So off we went, I didn’t go with a plan. I just browsed but I bought much more perennials which really makes me happy since they will return each year. 

I also began buying some vegetable plants for my veggie beds. The day we went shopping it was in the 90s so we went shopping early and I waited until Saturday do my planting.

I managed to get a good start but much more to do. My wireless headphones broke so I need to find another inexpensive option to use when I am out in the garden. I like to listen to my audiobooks and podcasts while I mess around in the garden.  Last year, I learned the hard way using headphones with wires and I accidentally cut the cord.  Yup, it happened.  So Bluetooth all the way. I am hoping to get out in the garden later today to continue work in the garden. Have a fantastic weekend!


Tool Time: Product Review

Hello, how are you?  Despite some plumbing issues that we are dealing with at the current moment, I am actually feeling great. But repairs goes with owning a home and I have no regrets. I love our home and enjoy renovating it with my husband. It’s been a lovely journey watching it evolve as well as our tastes.

But I digress so let’s talk craft stuff. As you know, I have curbed my craft budget and spending habits so I don’t feature as much stuff on this site.  But I recently came across a tool I thought I could use quite nicely for some projects.  I also don’t mind spending money on tools because they can be used again and again.

The Product: WPlus9’s Large Butterfly frame die

For this test, I used the WPlus9’s steel die with two types of paper. I used the Recollections’ paper pack called Soda Pop. I also used Georgia Pacific Cardstock. Although the Georgia-Pacific did not work well the Reflections worked smooth like butter. The beauty is that out of one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet  I was able to cut one full die frame and then use the remaining as a contrasting background for a card. The nice thing is that the colors all coordinate quite nicely. So less time hunting for colors that go together. Then there is still a small piece of paper left that I thought would be great to use to punch out coordinating tiny butterflies with one of my Martha Stewart punches. I laid out the frames on the coordinating colored paper scraps but could easily cut them down and stamp a sentiment and stick them on a card.

My thoughts:

I own a load of dies and some I like and some I rarely use. But let’s talk about the die.

The Design:

What I like:

  • The fact that the butterfly frame is a standard A2 size (4 1/4 x 5 1/2) so it can rock the front of a card.
  • The steel is thick and not flimsy so it produces a nice clean cut.
  • The framing of the butterflies leaves room for sentiments which is very important if you want to make cards.
  • They include a lot of holes so that if your paper should stick, it’s very easy to use a pin to poke them out without tearing the paper.
  • The die was made in the USA. It’s really great to know it’s made here and reduces our carbon footprint as well as provides jobs in local factories.

What I don’t like:

  • I tried using it with the inexpensive Georgia Pacific cardstock from Walmart and it ripped. So you will need to try out a few types of paper to see which works for you.
  • That even when I used paper that worked, I had to run it through a few times to ensure all of the detail in the butterfly wings were cut.


I love this die and see that it will be a versatile tool for my projects moving forward. I like the sturdiness and I found that the oh so inexpensive paper packs by Recollections that you can buy at Michael’s works beautifully with the die. The paper pops out easy and the cost per sheet is so inexpensive, you can make a large number for a few dollars. I love that I can use it with my sentiment stamps and custom one’s that I design on the computer. If you look at the first set of photos the white one on the left was cut using the Georgia Pacific and it didn’t cut out all of the butterfly detailing. But all of the other ones were cut using the Reflections paper.

Product reviewed: Large Butterfly Frame by WPlus9

I love using mine and will share some finished cards with you soon.

Have a blessed day!



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