Friday, January 27, 2012

Reading: Murder of a Bookstore Babe

Finally finished my first cozy mystery of the year.

Came out last year and it is #13 in the series. Basically it's about this chick, Skye Denison, who is a school psychologist in a small town, she has dated/is dating the two hottest guys in Scumble River and she stumbles across murders.

In this one a new bookstore is opening up by a couple that is from New York City (new york city?!) and the town is up in arms about it because they don't like newbies, especially newbies that are going to take business away from their own mom&pop stores.

It doesn't take long before a dead body turns up in the bookstore. So the question is, was the victim the intended victim or not?? Oh, and who did it of course.

At just 243 pages, I'm surprised at how long it took me read this little paperback but I finally got through it and have now completed book #1 for the cozy mystery challenge and the letter M for the A-Z.

Now, the challenge is to find mysteries that don't start with Muuuurrrrderrrr.

What I liked:
1) The protagonist seems to be a slightly chubby woman with a healthy appetite who's comfortable with herself. I like that she's not a "skinnie-minnie-with-an-attitude", that type gets real old after a while. (am I right, ladies??)

two nuggets of wisdom I came away with:

2) "...a closed mind is often accompanied by an open mouth." Father Burns, pg. 226

3) "...any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least, not the most." Skye Dennison, pg. 239 (This struck out to me, and as I thought about past relationships it really rang true...just something to think about....)

What I didn't like:
1) With the aforementioned number one being said....I really didn't like Skye's personality. It seemed slightly vanilla to me. The Chicago Tribune called her a "charming heroine." I didn't find her all that charming, she seemed so Pollyanna. I really wanted Skye to have a flaw (other than the few pounds). She doesn't have a whole of wit and it seems like she takes other people way too seriously.

2) The small town attitude. This takes place in Scumble River and Skye is related to almost half the population what with all the cousins and such and apparently her mother is the town's biggest gossip and knows all the news that's fit to know. Skye's mother got annoying half way through. I'm not a small town girl and the whole "everyone knowing each others business" grated on my nerves. (although The Cat Who...books don't annoy me, go figure)

I most likely won't be visiting Scumble River in the near future. I came, I stayed three weeks, I'm hightailing it out of there!!

With my book reviews comes Theme Thursdays hosted by Reading Between Pages..., this week the theme is  very:

"Skye shook her head. Her brother was excellent at existing in the here and now, but he had never been very good with the concept of future consequences." Murder of a Bookstore Babe, pg. 83

Next on my TBR list: Tinker Tailor...and Paranormalcy.

Get reading!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eating: fill in the blank: Tyler Florence is ---------.

a pretentious snobbish boor.

in my humble opinion.

Checking the mail one fine day, you come across a dinner party invite from Tyler Florence (because as luck would have it (good or bad take your pick) he lives on your street). It seems that he just got back from one of his many fabulous vacations and he's eager to try out some new recipes on his neighborhood friends. "Oh, no." you say to yourself while cringing a little inside, because, dear reader, this invitation is a double-edged sword.

You know from past experience that Tyler Florence can be charming, very hospitable and he is a chef so there is that whole free food thing, but....

You'll have to endure endless (and boring) stories and slides of where exactly, down some hidden alley cafe that he only knew of, he was inspired, who he was inspired by, what dishes made him cry out with joy, what sunsets made him weep, every single person he met and so on and so on....

All of the dishes will look good but only half will actually be eatable (or 1/4 as I found out) the rest won't have much flavor at all. But it's a crap shoot on which is which.

You might be offered something like:

1) Black Eyed Peas with Stewed Tomatoes - (very thick, I could stick my fork up in it and was actually kinda bland)

2) Fennel Sausage Hush puppies - (blame The Hubs a li'l on this one as he made them really big, but fennel? really?? and sausage? is it really a hush puppy with all that crammed in it?)

3) Chili Cheese Dogs - (the chili was very ketchupy and bland, Cupcake thought it tasted more like Sloppy Joe mix and who wants that on their hot dog, I ask.)

4) Mexican Street Tacos - (go down to week 6) (the best one! it tasted close to a taco truck taco, I should know being the connoisseur of roach coaches/taco trucks that I am, and I had to stop myself from licking the cutting board. The Hubs did overcook it to where it was well-done, recipe calls for med., but as that is exactly how I like it I loved it!)

See what you're faced with?!

On one hand there's free food, friends and a chance to try some new, hopefully good, dishes.

On the other there's Tyler Florence.

What do you do?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Another rousing round of "songs i'm diggin' "

ever heard a song and then like it so much you gotta listen to it over and over again? in the same day?

that's what happened to me today.

was listening to radio and heard a song that i was immediately struck by and promptly looked up on youtube and played it over and over. told Cupcake about it when she got home and she was like "yeah, i've heard of it and totally like it." we looked up the official video on bing and i have been playing it constantly ever since.

can't get it out of my head, wanna sing it on karaoke.

gotye - somebody that i used to know (feat. kimbra) |

another song the girls introduced me to that i wanna hear over and over is:

Awolnation: It's not your fault

and of course, i loooove this one. it came out during the summer and i had it on constant replay. I put it away for December and just today took it for a spin. still loooove it. looked up the official lyrics today as there was one or two lines i couldn't, for the life of me, decipher. now that i know what he's saying, i think it's even more cute!

Martin Solveig: The night out featuring Thomas Mars

the lyrics just in case:

cupcake and i reminisced about the last time we saw Phoenix and we got all excited and started jumping up and down, waving our hands and screaming. (yeah, I can totally act like a 14 year old)

i can only wonder what the neighbors were thinking.....


p.s. yes, gotye is on its 50th rotation

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu planning: week six

Thought I'd join my fellow menu-planners this week.

Even though I've been slow on the blog front I've still been planning my weekly menu. The great thing is now I have pages in my notebook full of menu plans and grocery lists - makes things so much easier when I'm stuck and I can go back and refresh my memory on a great dinner we had and see the ingredients right there!

Today I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday @ I'm an organizing junkie.

Menu Plan Monday:

Monday: Lasagna, The Hubs recipe - lets hope he doesn't put too much ricotta in it :p

Tuesday: Mexican Street Tacos-new recipe from Eat This Book by Tyler Florence -

Wednesday: Tostados
sides: spanish rice

Thursday: Ham Greek Salad w/hard boiled eggs - new recipe

Friday: Ham and cheese quiche
sides: simple salad, kiwi-strawberry pops (for dessert)

Saturday: Pulled pork sandwiches - crock pot
sides: homemade onion rings

Sunday: Potato soup
sides: homemade bread - I'm trying my hand at making my own...wish me luck!

I'll be showcasing Tuesday's dinner Wednesday. I have some words to say about 'ol Tyler Florence's cookbooks.....(grrrr....)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reading: challenges, challenges, everywhere challenges!!

Without further ado here are the 2012 reading challenges I'm participating in:

1. Harlequin Silhouette 2012 Reading Challenge hosted by Islandgirl reads Romance.

2. Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge  hosted by Yvonne.

3.  Speculative Romance hosted by Book Chick City

and while I'm reading these I'll be adding to:

5. A-Z Book Challenge hosted by Babies, Books and Signs.

This is the first year that I'm doing any reading challenges. I'm actually pretty excited and got a cozy mystery yesterday to start things off with. Unfortunately I got a speculative romance on audiobook which is not allowed, so.....

Please join us and sign up!! Click on the links for more specific rules from the original source and keep up with my progress here.

While browsing through the library yesterday I thought of two more reading challenges:

1) Danielle Steel Reading Challenge - how many can you read??

2) Books into Movies Reading/Viewing Challenge - read the book and watch the movie adaptation. Which do you like better? How many can you do?? I got this idea when I picked up "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".

Is anyone doing challenges like this? Would you be interested?

Well, off I go to read....and read and read and read and....


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reading: The Serpent and The Moon

The Serpent and The Moon

Being not all interested in history in high school, you'll probably be amazed at what I don't know/remember. Since 2011 I've dived into learning more history, French history to be exact. I started with Napoleon, went to  Louis XVI and am now in the 16th century with Henri II and his great love affair with Diane de Poitiers.

And now that I'm the one saying what I learn, I'm way more interested and retain the information a lot better!

So. This takes place during during the reign of Francois I and his son Henri II. Henri was the third son born and did not have a very affectionate childhood as his father was always out with the military or partying and his mother died with he was young. Henri was sent to Spain with his brother Francois, the Dauphin, when he was 6 for six years. He came back a changed man (boy), as imprisonment will do to you. And who was there to greet him with a loving embrace and kind words? Why, Diane de Poitiers that's who. The one constant throughout his young life. She was there when he was born (being 20 years his senior) and was in charge of his and his siblings well-being in the nursery.

This affected Henri greatly and he devoted his life to making Diane de Poitiers his "Lady" and, later on, making sure she knew how loved she was.

Henri was forced into an arranged marriage with Italian Catherine de' Medici when they were 15. Unfortunately for Catherine she fell in love at first sight. Henri had had his eye on Diane since he was 12 and so Catherine made little impact.

Diane and Henri eventually succumbed to having a physical relationship. The writer believes that Diane probably resisted at first since she had known Henri since he was a babe. But eventually even she couldn't resist this hunk of a Prince who clearly worshipped the ground she walked on.

Catherine, while not beautiful, was very street-smart and book-smart and finally came to realize what was up. Not wanting to embarrass the love of her life, she sat and waited. "Hate and Wait" became her motto. Diane, also not wanting to embarrass anyone, worked hard to keep the relationship between her and Henri on the down low. As she was Catherine's head Lady, she had to keep a poker face at all times.

The three settled into a love triangle of sorts. Henri would spend time with Diane (known as The Moon), who would then make him go up to his wife and once that "duty" was done Henri would slink back down to Diane. Everyone ended up living like this for 23 years. Catherine (known as The Serpent) gave birth to 9 children.

Henri II's reign lasted 12 years. I think he tried to be a good King but his obsession with Diane lead to his complete dependence on her and her opinions. She essentially ruled the King. I haven't quite finished yet (30 pages to go) so won't leave you with a spoiler!

Things that struck out to me:

1. Nostradamus was one of Catherine de' Medici's fortune tellers.
2. Francois I and Henry VIII died the same year.
3. The author, HRH Princess Michael of Kent is descended from both Catherine and Diane (read to find out how!).
4. I have come away with a good idea for a tattoo. "Qui me alit me extinguit" - it's a French Renaissance saying about the paradox of how love bring both pleasure and pain.
(goes with my "Secundus ut nullus" tattoo - well....haven't gotten it yet....)

As this is Thursday I'm going to participate in Reading Between Pages... Theme Thursday. This week's theme is NEW.

"During these later years, most of her creative energy was spent on the gardens of Chenonceau, importing new varieties of flowers from America."
The Serpent and The Moon - pg. 343


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

blank pages.....

I hate staring at this blank box.

My mind, though full of thoughts only minutes before, becomes stark and barren. Tumbleweeds drift through and the theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" echoes through the lonely landscape.

I feel the same way when I open a new notebook. I open it, the cover is still stiff, and I gaze upon the clean sheets of paper. My mind goes blank. I panic. I was just brimming with lists and goals and the subtle excitement of a clean, fresh notebook. But the blank page intimidates me. What do I really have to say? What is so important that I have to make a list for it and document it anyway? My handwriting is horrible and I hate to mark it up with my haphazard chicken scratch.

I like notebooks. The prospect of what they could be filled with fills me with hope, "this time I'll be organized. this time I'll fulfill my goals."

I buy them, bring them home, open them up, rejoice in that new notebook smell and.....theme song again, please.

I have found a way around this.

I don't write on the first page.

I go a couple of pages in. There the pages don't mock me with their vast open space, twittering quietly to itself "I knew she couldn't do it" like that first page seems to do. I see the lines ready to be filled, I'm thinking of lists again and I'm off to the races, as they say.

I wish I could do that here. You don't know how many times I sat in front of this screen pounding out a line or two only to backspace it all away. Thinking the whole time that these ideas for posts don't sound as good in black and white as they did in my head.

Then I give up and go stream something instead.

If I could just flip a few pages here I would be fine and you'd have more posts to read.

Considering this is the first post of the year, maybe I gotta think of like that first writing in a notebook; hard to start but once that first (or in my case, tenth or eleventh) page is written on it gets easier and easier to mar those once beautiful pages with my chicken scratch.