Mindless Wanderings

Capturing the small moments in a full life

Book Review – The Joy Luck Club

What is it about re-reading a favorite book?  Its sort of like visiting an old friend, but finding out that they’ve changed. . . or maybe you have.


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Joy Luck Club was published in 1989 when I was a senior in high school, though I don’t think I read it until 1992 (the year I was married). Amy Tan immediately became my new favorite author (replacing S.E. Hinton – favorite author of my youth) and for years I faithfully read everything Tan published.  A year later (1993) JLC was made into a movie – a movie which remains one of my all time favorites.  When the title came up as a potential read for my Book Club, I was thrilled to revisit an old friend.

Of course, I couldn’t find my paperback version of the book (most likely in the attic) so I went out and bought a new copy. At first, I couldn’t believe how SLIM this edition was. I remembered it being an incredibly thick saga. Nope, just 288 pages.

Details/Topics: The Joy Luck Club tells the individual stories of four Chinese women and their Chinese American daughters. It is a story about both the complexity of mother/daughter relationships, and the immigrant experience.

Reading it again, this time as the mother to a young adult woman, I found myself sympathizing (perhaps even relating?) to the mothers in Tan’s story.

Favorite Quote(s):
“In two year’s time, my scar became pale and shiny and I had no memory of my mother. That is the way it is with a wound. The wound begins to close in on itself, to protect what is hurting so much. And once it is closed, you no longer see what is underneath, what started the pain.” 

“And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.”

Latkes (AKA Potato Pancakes)

We had a New Year’s Eve Family PJ Party at the Nabholz Cabin this year – complete with lots of games, puzzles, and of course… FOOD!

My brother and sister-in-law and their brood arrived by 9 a.m. on NYE – just in time for breakfast. And since it was still officially Hanukkah and we pride ourselves on being ecumenical (*smile*) we had latkes on our breakfast menu.  Everyone RAVED about these crispy potato pancakes, so of course we served them again on New Year’s Day. Mom, Dad and Grandma J loved them as well.  Who knew that such a simple dish would be such a hit! I figured I’d better archive it on my blog since I’m expecting requests for the recipe!




Grate the potatoes in a large bowl, add the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well (I used my hands). Sprinkle in the flour.  The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons – but Mark did this part and I think he used considerably more – maybe even half a cup.  Patty up the potatoes as best you can – they don’t really stick together.  Then fry in the oil until brown.  As they get crisp, they stick together.

Serve with sour cream or applesauce as a topping.

Fall/Winter Highlights from Yours Truly


After I don’t know how many years of volunteering at and putting up with the traffic of Bikes, Blues and BBQ, Mark and I finally got wise.  Well, not really. It just so happened that Glen Hansard was making an appearance in Tulsa the same weekend – so we accidentally and happily escaped.  Glen Hansard is, hands down, the BEST live show I’ve ever seen and I would (and hopefully WILL!) go again and again and again. If you’re not familiar with him, do yourself a favor and watch Once on Netflix, follow him on Spotify, and watch everything – especially THIS – of his on YouTube.   He’s my favorite. By.A.Mile.


We made a weekend of it and I was pretty stoked to go to the ACTUAL Curtis House from my favorite movie, The Outsiders. They’re raising funds to convert it into a museum. I WILL be back.  outsiders


A road trip with AMAZING friends to see Lutheran “S-hero” and author of Patrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint and Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Said road trip included lots of laughs and bonding over frequent potty stops (#bladdergrils), and several Uber experiences. We also took advantage of photo ops, enjoyed a fantastically fortunate dining experience at The Drop, and a less than fortunate recommendation for a local watering hole.  We ended the weekend with a gorgeous afternoon of shopping at The Plaza and lunch on the patio at  McCormick’s and Schmick’s. girls-trip-collage


Two kids home from college, plus Collin, made for a very happy Thanksgiving for me!  There’s nothing I love more than having all my chickies at home and cooking for them and feeding them.  Ethan introduced us to Cards Against Humanity (not my finest parenting moment) and we had a family game night plus chislic before Grace and Collin headed back to Jonesboro.  Honestly, the fact that they stayed late specifically FOR game night was the highlight of my holiday.thankskgiving-girls

On November 30th Mark and I spent 5 hours on the road (down and back to Conway) with mom and dad to see Ethan for 20 minutes on the stage in a one-ace play at UCA titled “The Decision.”  It was incredible and Mark and I are still, both, BEAMING with pride.



We turned our annual #Brewtheran Beervent party into a fundraiser for the ministries at our church and it exceeded all of my hopes and expectations. My good friend Sherilyn transformed our fellowship hall into a warm and cozy space reminiscent of a chalet. Our praise band musicians set the mood with their amazing talents, and Alan Gann provided several tasty home brews. My heart is FULL!

8 Must Stop Photo Ops in Fayetteville

This weekend my favorite people are coming to visit my favorite city!  The Arkansas Women Bloggers will descend in Fayetteville for Megaphone – an Influencer Conference.  It will be a weekend full of learning, bonding, blogging, eating, laughing, drinking and….. of course….. SELFIES.

It’s no secret Fayetteville has TONS of unique shops, boutiques, restaurants, parks, trails and neighborhoods.  But our beloved city also offers ample opportunities to capture the essence of “Funky Fayetteville” in a photo.

Here are a list of 8 MUST STOP Photo Ops in Fayetteville, brought to you by yours truly.  (Bonus! Most of these are within walking distance of our conference headquarters, The Chancellor Hotel.)


  1. Step inside the Dickson Street Bookstore, inhale the unmistakable scent of good, old fashioned PAPER books, peruse the shelves (you could get lost for HOURS), and be sure to snap a selfie.2. The paramount view of our beautiful city can best be viewed from Mount Sequoyah. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.3. I’m particularly partial to photos which include a pint glass atop the purple picnic tables at Fossil Cove. Located just off our bike trail, and part of the infamous Fayetteville Ale Trail.  Enjoy a pint (or two) and say hi to “Barley,” the pub dog while you’re there.4. Alexis Diaz’ recently completed mural, part of the #UnexpectedFS project, is INCREDIBLE. (photo credit, @Alexis_Diaz on Instagram).

    5. A super fun, super colorful installation known as the #MaudeWall, created with all you fashionistas and photographers in mind. It makes for a perfect backdrop, no matter WHAT you’re wearing. And if you don’t LIKE what you’re wearing, they can help with that too. It’s located on the back wall BEHIND the Maude Boutique on North College Ave.

    6. Hank Kaminsky’s World Peace Prayer Fountain is located just outside the Fayetteville Town Center on the South side of the square. It is not to be missed.

    7. Saturday morning:  get up early and grab a cup of coffee, walk outside and greet all of Fayetteville as they participate in the quintessential Fayetteville Saturday ritual. Between the flowers and produce, the art and artisans, the pluckers the pups and the people… you’ll have plenty of subjects to photograph.

    8. No trip to Fayetteville is complete without a hand-crafted cocktail at Maxine’s. The drinks themselves are photo-worthy, and the mural on the front wall makes an excellent photo backdrop as well. Need a drink recommendation? I highly, highly recommend “The Bell of the Bar.”

    Welcome to Fayetteville!  Enjoy!

Alone at Last!

Yesterday was “Move-In” Day at UCA. Ethan was up, showered and dressed by the time I got up at 7 a.m. He had already packed his car on Saturday. We poured a travel mug of coffee and were on our way.

Conway is a relatively short 2.5 hour drive, but a misty rain made it seem much longer. We arrived by about 11:30 and located State Hall, checked in with the student staff, and had all of Ethan’s belongings in his room in two short trips.

He didn’t want to “settle in” too much, as his roommate wasn’t scheduled to arrive until 4 p.m. My kind and courteous son wanted to consult with his roommate about furniture placement, etc. We were able to convince him to let Mom and Grandma help make his bed for a quick photograph (or three).14012253_10209915738672125_249102817_n 14054709_10209915742232214_1374851213_n Ethan Dorm room

Then it was off to Walmart for a few dorm room essentials (ramen noodles, Crystal Light peach tea, and Command Hooks for hanging artwork on the cinder block walls).

We then met up with big sister Grace, who was helping her boyfriend Colin move to Conway too this weekend. We had lunch at the Dixie Cafe and before long, it was time to hit the road.

A quick selfie in the parking lot to mark the moment, followed by hugs, kisses, “I love yous” and goodbyes.  14001826_10209915740912181_998775933_o

I had a moment when I was about to tear up, then Gracie gave me the “moola” gesture (I promised her birthday money) so I ran around to my side of the vehicle to grab my checkbook. At that same moment, Genna had just climbed in the backseat and I heard her exclaim, “Alone at last!” That was it. All laughter and smiles, no tears for this mama! So happy/proud/excited for this new chapter for Ethan. Happy that Grace has met such a kind and thoughtful young man who so clearly makes her happy.  And happy, too, for Genna. Her 3rd child status is finally paying off!

More Summer Reading – The Kite Runner

Book Review: The Kite RunnerInspired by my friend Sarah Daigle, who was inspired by my beach reading posts, I FINALLY picked up and purchased Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.  Oh. My. Word. Absolutely my favorite book of the year.

I’ve picked this book up at least a hundred times when browsing Barnes and Noble. For whatever reason, the book jacket’s description of the friendship between two Afghani boys and a complicated father-son relationship didn’t grab me. It wasn’t until my friend Sarah told me, “I am reading the Kite Runner and am in love with language use that reads more exotic than American writers and the dialog is poetic,” that I vowed to give it a try.  She was right.

Lyrical, haunting, hopeful. A book I will read again and again.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “For you, a thousand times over.”
  • “There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”
  • “Sad stories make good books.”
  • “Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything – that is how, it is between people who are each other’s first memories.”







What I Read on My Summer Vacation

There’s nothing like a week at the beach, unplugged, with sunlight streaming in the windows waking you at 5:30 a.m., to indulge your love of reading.

With the sugar-soft white sands of Seagrove Beach beneath my toes, (and the smart phone smartly left behind in the condo), the only item on my daily agenda was to eat, drink, sun and read. With zero Facebook notification interruptions (and zero games of Candy Crush)  I managed to devour 5 books during our 6 days on the beach.

Below is a very brief recap of what I read (in order) and what I thought…

Book Review: The Engagements, J. Courtney SullivanThe Engagements
by J. Courtney Sullivan.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Details/Topics:  I picked this up in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble and it was worth every penny of the $5.99 price tag. The book weaves together the story of Frances Gerety, the real-life pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” as well as 4 other stories of relationships at various stages. I was genuinely surprised by the way the stories tied together at the end.
Favorite Quote(s):
“I don’t always have to understand the people I love.”
“Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed.”

Book Review: "The Good Luck of Right Now" by Matthew Quick
“The Good Luck of Right Now” by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Details/Topics:  Another bargain bin selection, but I had extremely high hopes for this one as it was written by the author of Silver Linings Playbook, my favorite book of 2013.  It was okay, but definitely didn’t measure up to SLP.  Every chapter is a letter addressed to the actor Richard Gere. Let’s just leave it at that.
Favorite Quote(s):
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

“God doesn’t do coincidences. You can bet your ass.”


Book Review: Nantucket Sisters, Nancy ThayerNantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Details/Topics:  Another bargain bin selection. (Are you sensing a theme?)  I had relatively low expectations for this book, but thought it would be mindlessly entertaining – a true “beach read.”  I’ll admit I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed meeting these characters and even got a bit choked up at the end.  The story is about two little girls – one a privileged child from Manhattan, the other, an “islander” who’s lives with her blue collar single mother year round on Nantucket.  The two spend their summers together every year and become the best of friends – “Nantucket Sisters.”  Of course their backgrounds complicate their friendships as they get older, as does falling in love – especially WHO they fall in love with.

At this point (day 3 of the trip), I’ve run out of books. Luckily, my niece Sadie had brought a book with her which I quickly snatched up.

Book Review: The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk KiddThe Invention of Wings by  Sue Monk Kidd
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Details/Topics:   “Handful,” a young girl slave, is given as an 11th birthday present to her Master’s daughter, Sarah Grimke. The story is told with each chapter alternating between the two characters’ perspectives. Handful holds on tightly to her mother’s stories of when their ancestors in Africa had “wings,” while Sarah, aware of the injustices of the time, discovers her own wings as an abolitionist and feminist. Sue Monk Kidd was inspired by the real-life Sarah Grimke.
Favorite Quote(s):
“If you must err, do so on the side of audacity.”

“She had the look of someone who’d declared herself, and seeing it, my indignation collapsed and her mutinous bath turned into something else entirely. She’d immersed herself in forbidden privileges, yes, but mostly in the belief she was worthy of those privileges. What she’d done was not a revolt, it was a baptism.”

Now I’m out of books again… luckily Genna enjoys one of my favorite genres, Young Adult.

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire SaenzAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe  by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My Rating: 4.5  out of 5 stars
Details/Topics:   A coming of age story of two Hispanic boys, their friendship, their families, and self-discovery.
Favorite Quote(s):
“Maybe the problem between me and my father was that we were both the same.”

“Yeah, I had all kinds of tragic reasons for feeling sorry for myself. Being fifteen didn’t help. Sometimes I thought that being fifteen was the worst tragedy of all.”

“Scars. A sign that you’ve been hurt. A sign that you have been healed. Had I been hurt? Had I been healed? Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.”






Silver Linings Surgeries

Follow my blog with BloglovinMost of America will remember Christmas 2015 as the Christmas of #MakingaMurderer. (Yes, we were sucked in by the phenomenon too, and of course I have strong opinions!)  However, we’ll remember Christmas 2015 a little bit differently.

Christmas Eve with my patient patient “Lefty.”

At Casa Dilday, our holidays consisted of pre-op appointments, lab work, surgeries, and LOTS of hours spent in matching pajamas in our matching recliners. (Oh, and throw in one ambulance ride trip to the ER just for excitement!)

Mark’s surgery had been planned for quite some time. He suffered a torn rotator cuff about 18 months ago and was scheduled to have it (along with a torn bicep tendon) repaired in late December. We were NOT, however, planning synchronized surgeries, nor double the doctors bills.  But – regular blood work at my annual physical showed one teeny tiny gland wasn’t working properly and needed to come out.  I never knew that “parathyroidectomy” was a thing.

Although I can think of lots of things I’d rather do than go under the knife for Christmas, being the “glass half full girl” that I am, I’ve compiled a list of the silver linings that shine through in an experience like this.

  • We are healthy. These procedures were minor in the scope of things.
  • We are loved. Our family, friends and neighbors SHOWERED us with meals and other offers of help.
  • We are insured. Enough said.
  • Paid sick leave. Seriously. Knowing our jobs were not in jeopardy and we could take the time needed to rest and recuperate was a comfort. It made me think of all of the hourly workers who are one illness away from catastrophe.
  • Teenagers. Ethan got his driver’s license just in time to be our everyday errand boy. It was a life saver. Having Grace home for Christmas helped too.
  • Downtime. Getting Mark to “chill” is virtually impossible. Tethering him to the “Iceman” for hours on end forced him to take a load off. After the crazy year I’ve just had at work, I needed a little downtime too.
  • I love our home. Being at home for two solid weeks was a JOY because of all the renovations Mark completed this fall.
  • Marriage.  When we were married 23 years ago we didn’t opt for the traditional vows, so we never actually said “in sickness and in health.”  But I think its sort of implied. We did promise “in all circumstances of our life together to be loyal to you with my whole life and all my being.”  I think we passed this test.




Book Review: Loving Frank

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (The writing was good, but I didn’t care for or about Mamah and Frank.)
Why I Picked It: The November 2015 Book Club pick.  Coincidentally, the Bachman-Wilson home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright opened this month at Crystal Bridges. I see a day trip in my future! Book Review: Loving Frank, Nancy Horan

Details/Topics: Historical novel based on Frank Lloyd Wright and  Mamah Borthwick Cheney’s extramarital love affair.

I was pretty disgusted by both characters’ choices throughout the book, so I couldn’t connect with them or feel empathy. It was kind of a chore to get through the book…but worth it in the end

Favorite Quotes:

“It’s the heart of his dilemma,” Mattie muttered. “The man’s values have flown right out his abstract windows.”

“She would take her grace where she found it.”

Blog at

Up ↑