Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year and the best to you in 2009!

I just watched Big Ben strike midnight and ring in the New Year in London and wished with all my heart I was there. Via CNN live video it was pretty cool to watch (and listen too, that unmistakable gong)and the fireworks that exploded over the Thames were beautiful.
I'm looking forward to an exciting 2009 filled with change, love and travel...Oxford here I come! Guess I better go get ready to celebrate the New Year in Chicago, always a good reason to dress up fancy.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Do you Skype?

A couple of years ago friends in the UK told me about the website Skype. I remember thinking "a website that allows you to make calls from your computer, how cool" and then promptly forgot about it. I've regularly used Yahoo instant messenger as my IM and video chat of choice but recently downloaded the free Skype software in order to video call my sister and new niece in Denver. All I can say is it's magic. I'm now a regular Skyper to my sister and other family members and am ready to toss my land line phone in the trash.
If you haven't used or seen Skype in action on Oprah or other tv shows then check out the website to see what a wonderful tool Skype is. You'll need a video camera (inexpensive at most retailers like Best Buy or Amazon and easily installed by plugging into a USB port) and a microphone (most are built into your computer or to the video camera) and you will need to set up a free Skype account and download the free software. That's it! The picture is so clear it's almost unbelievable and the sound quality is excellent.
During my recent Christmas trip to Florida my family Skyped my sister in Denver and enjoyed an evening of holiday tales and laughs with my sister and 2 month old niece, it was the next best thing to having them there with us.
If you want to add me as a Skype contact I'm under Shannon.Distel.Scanlan, Skype you soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

Wishing everyone the very best holiday season. I hope for each of you easy travel, happy families, good food and lots of love for all.
I'll blog again next Monday when I return from Florida!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flash Back Friday #21

I'm a little nostalgic for my childhood.
Here is Coca Cola's classic 1970's Christmas commercial I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Must Read Book-Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete

I'm not much of a sports fan but I am a BIG fan of exceptional people and after reading Pete Maravich The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete by Wayne Federman and Marshall Terrill I have a new respect for an extraordinary athlete and family man, the basketball legend "Pistol Pete". Authors Federman and Terrill write an authorized biography of a man with an awe inspiring talent who deeply loved his family and his faith. The book is meticulously researched and written with details that aren't just facts from interviews but from the rare privilege of collaboration with Pete's widow. The beautiful family photographs, the inclusion of personal letters and the quirky personality traits (Pete's wearing of large stretched out gray socks for 9 seasons because he thought they made his feet appear smaller and made him feel faster) are all included in Pete's story and create a book that is hard to put down. Not only are his athletic accomplishments mind boggling (he is considered by many to be the greatest college basketball player of all time and is a 5 time NBA All Star) but his dedication to his health (he was vegan, grew his own vegetables and ate soy and juiced before it was mainstream) and his family (wife Jackie and 2 sons) and his faith (in the depths of despair he found Christ and changed his life) are inspiring.
Pete died suddenly at age 40 in 1988.
Read the book and learn what true greatness is all about.

I also recommend another book by Marshall Terrill, see my review of Steve McQueen The Last Mile here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flash Back Friday #20-My Kinda Christmas Entertainment

Little bit creepy, totally strange and a Christmas classic.
This is my favorite holiday movie, from A Year Without A Santa Claus.
Enjoy the Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Classic Christmas Story

Did you know that the classic story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written by a department store employee in Chicago? Ya no kidding, how cool is that!
Check out Snopes for the story here:
This Christmas re-read the original story and enjoy it all over again!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Author Websites

One of my favorite things to do after immersing myself in a good book is to search the internet for the author's website. A few of my favorite authors have great websites that I have been known to spend many an hour losing time in. I enjoy uncovering new facts about favorite characters, reading the author's inspiration for the story or viewing pictures of real life locations that inspired the fantasy.
Here are a few of my favorite author's websites:
Anne Gracie's website is a gem. The site here is full of great pages for each of her books with collages of pictures and items that inspired her characters and their stories, photographs of the locations where she sets her books and historical information on causes and issues of the historical period.

Elizabeth Boyle is a writer of historical romance and her fun website includes FAQs, her blog, family trees of the fictional families and tidbits on what inspired her to write her stories.

Tom Bullough author of The Claude Glass has a great website here Tom's site is so personal with information on his life, his writings and his passions. I especially enjoy his blog although I wish he would update it more often.

Julia Quinn's website here is full of information on her books, the characters, what she's working on next and includes deleted book scenes and her blog.

One of my favorite authors Anne Rice also has an interesting website which is beautifully designed and loaded with information. Years ago I used to love discovering new things on Rice's site such as pictures of her doll collection or the homes she owned in New Orleans...But since Rice found her religion, I've avoided her website and it's over emphasis on her return to Catholicism. Little creepy... and not in a good way.

Well what ever you are reading, take a look at the author's online home and you'll be delightfully surprised at what you may find.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Must Read Book: Remembering Sam

In this excellent book a son recounts the love story of his mother's first marriage to a soldier killed in World War II.
The author David Everitt does a beautiful job narrating the story of the man who loved his mother before his own father. Beautifully written, extremely moving and unforgettable.