Friday, February 26, 2010

Review-Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

I choose to read Home Safe because I had enjoyed The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted so much. This review is going to be all over the place because my feelings on the book were all over the place. At the beginning (the first 50 pages or so), it was hard for me to keep reading. Helen just lost her husband and struggles through her grief. I still know what it's like to lose someone close to you. It was a little too painful to hear the same feelings echoed in a book. But I pushed through it and became friends with Helen. Oh, Helen, what a funny little character. Almost like a child. She's lost without her husband, unable to care for her home, make a decision without consulting her friend or her daughter. I'll warn you, Helen does whine and stamp her little foot about being left alone in this world. But she reminded me of me. She may not like it but she'll do after she complains a bit. I enjoyed watching Helen push her boundaries reluctantly.
But my favorite parts were when she talked about books. Helen is a writer and she reads too. You can see Berg's love of books in passages like this:
"She talked, too, about how books educate and inspire, and how they soothe souls-'like comfort food without the calories'." 
Berg goes on about the tactile experience with books (the reason I'm loathe to get a Kindle or Nook). I could feel what it was like in that bookstore, listening to Helen talk about the writing experience.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I'll be reading more of Berg's books. Highly Recommended.
Other reviews can be found at Life In The Thumb, Bibliophile By The Sea, and Redlady's Reading Room.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scallop Gumbo

I finally made Bittman's Scallop Gumbo. I had no idea how hard it was make a roux. I stood there for 20 minutes stirring the butter, oil and flour together waiting for it to get brown. But then I realized since I use fake butter it probably would never change color. It tasted so yummy any way. Tai missed the sausage and prawns so if I make it again I would add those and make it a more traditional gumbo. It was time consuming (overall took close to an hour and half), but not difficult.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.
I've been so good trying to read what I have before I start putting more on hold. I took 2 books back this week (Juliet, Naked and When You Are Engulfed In Flames) so I can get 2 more. First is Almost Perfect which I heard about on Staci's blog. I recently met someone who is transgendered. I cannot imagine her life. When I learn about something new (whether it be a culture, a food, etc) I immediately look for books about it. Staci's post about Almost Perfect was very timely. I cannot wait to read it. 
Next is North of Beautiful which I heard about from many different sources. I put it on my Fill In The Gaps list since I had gotten it from the library and never gotten to read it.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lemon Muffins

Tai loves lemon muffins, lemon cake, lemon cookies. As a treat, I made him these lemon muffins. I used a mix of meyer lemons and lemon juice from a bottle. They came out so moist and delicious. I would make these again.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review-Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

From the beloved New York Times- bestselling author, a quintessential Nick Hornby tale of music, superfandom, and the truths and lies we tell ourselves about life and love.
Annie loves Duncan-or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life.

In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got. Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin-his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the new material he's about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet-entitled, Juliet, Naked.

What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.

I have a confession. I've never read any of Hornby's books. I've seen the movies based on his books, but never actually read one of his books. I'm glad I choose Juliet, Naked for my first foray into Hornby's work.
Duncan and Annie kind of just wound up together. And for 15 years they stay together until one day everything changes and Annie decided she's had enough of Duncan.
I loved the alternating voice of Annie and Tucker. Both were coming out of a hibernation, looking for something to prove they weren't wasting their lives any more. At the beginning they are both a little sad, but they come to terms with what led to their hibernations. And ultimately they find new lives, a change from what they had done for so long. I found both Annie and Tucker to be very honest and broken characters. I enjoyed getting to know them and listening to their story, hearing the healing process begin for both of them. Recommended.
Other reviews can be found at My Books, My Life, Stacked, and Becky's Book Reviews.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review-Under The Blood Red Moon by Mina Hepsen

Cursed with the ability to hear the thoughts of others, beautiful Angelica Shelton Belanov feels most comfortable when hidden away in the library of her father's English country estate. Now family duty requires that she make an appearance at a glittering gala, mingling with the cream of London society in hopes of finding a suitable husband. Assailed by the unwanted “chatter” of many minds, Angelica finds relief in the company of a handsome aristocratic stranger who remains, refreshingly, an enigma.
But Prince Alexander is not like other men. The powerful leader of an Eastern clan of immortals, he has come to London to hunt down a rogue vampire who threatens the survival of his dwindling kind. Angelica can sense that Alexander is dangerous, a mystery to be unraveled at her own peril. Yet desire sears them both—she, the bewitching telepath, and he, the fearless leader who must learn to trust his heart. And unrestrained passion has strict demands that could cost them both their lives...and their souls.

This book reminded me of so many others but was unique as well. Angelica is like Sookie Stackhouse, she can read minds. Also like Sookie and Bella, Angelica falls in love with vampire. Like my new favorite Gardella Vampire Chronicles, it's set in Victorian England.
Angelica learns about vampires about 1/2 through the book and struggles with the knowledge. I liked the play between Angelica and Alexander. Angelica's smart but sheltered. Alexander is worldly but guarded. The other characters needed some work. Angelica's friend, Joanna, was very flimsy and needed to be a stronger character. I would have liked Angelica's brother, Mikhail, more fleshed out as well.
For a debt novel, I found the writing good and well paced. I can see this becoming a series easily. They left it wide open for that. I enjoyed it. Recommend for other paranormal romance fans.
Also reviewed by Tempting PersephoneBookin' Las Vegas, and Dear Author.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review-Eve: A Novel Of The First Woman by Elissa Elliot

It is the world’s oldest tale: the story of Eve, her husband, Adam, and the tragedy that would overcome her sons…. In this luminous debut novel, Elissa Elliott puts a powerful twist on biblical narrative, boldly reimagining Eve’s journey. At once intimate and universal, timely and timeless, this unique work of fiction blends biblical tradition with recorded history and dazzling storytelling. And as it does, Eve comes to life in a way religion and myth have never allowed—in a novel that explores the very essence of love, motherhood, faith, and humanity.

In their world they are alone…a family haunted by banishment, struggling for survival in a harsh new land. A woman who has borne and buried children, Eve sees danger shadowing those she loves, while her husband drifts further and further from the man he was in the Garden, blinded by his need to rebuild a life outside of Eden. One daughter, alluring, self-absorbed Naava, turns away from their beliefs. Another, crippled, ever-faithful Aya, harbors a fateful secret, while brothers Cain and Abel become adversaries, and Dara, the youngest, is chosen for a fate of her own.

In one hot, violent summer, by the shores of the muddy Euphrates, strangers arrive on their land. New gods challenge their own. And for Eve, a time of reckoning is at hand. The woman who once tasted the forbidden fruit of paradise sees her family unraveling—as brother turns on brother, culminating in a confrontation that will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

From a woman’s first awakening to a mother’s innermost hopes and fears, from moments of exquisite tenderness to a climax of shocking violence, Eve takes us on a breathtaking journey of the imagination. A novel that has it all—romantic love, lust, cruelty, heroism, envy, sacrifice, murder—Eve is a work of mesmerizing literary invention by a singular new voice in fiction. 

I choose to read Eve in hopes of finding another The Red Tent. Trying to find biblical fiction as delightful as The Red Tent is why I read any biblical fiction. And for the first time, I feel like I found something close to the wonderfulness that is The Red Tent. Close but not better than The Red Tent.
Eve's story is told from the perspective of Eve and her 3 daughters. Even and Adam have been banished from Eden and are struggling to make it on their own. Eve longs for Eden. She builds herself a garden at their new home in the hopes of replicating Eden.
I found it most interesting that Adam and Eve believed and were shocked to find other people inhabiting the world. I imagine that they thought God had not created more people but I found it icky that Eve assumed her sons would marry her daughters-gross! The other people believed in different gods and were more advanced than Adam and Eve. These other people lead Cain, Dara, Eve, and Naava to question their beliefs. There is a lot of questioning in this book. No determinations of who's right and who's wrong but what beliefs lead to which paths.
I enjoyed Eve and occasionally forgot I was reading a story about biblical characters. The characters angered me, made me laugh and cry. Elliot does a great job of (for the most part) making the characters leap off the page. Recommended.
Other reviews can be found at Wandeca Reads, Historically Obsessed, and Library Girl Reads.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Rewind

What a weekend! Without trying it was a jam packed weekend. Friday night we were invited to a friend's birthday party last minute. The family made a huge feast. I wish I could tell you what half this stuff was but it was impressive. Like nothing I've had before. I made up names for what I could identify.
It was an amazing meal. But my favorite part was the jackfruit.
I never had jackfruit before. But it was so good. It tasted like a combination of orange and mango. So yummy. I could have eaten the whole plate. Have you had jackfruit before?
Saturday night we met some friends and went to an 80's Love Song Sing Along. Tai and I love to sing but didn't want to go to karoke. We wanted to sing with people. A little internet digging and I found Central Cinema in Seattle has sing alongs. We sang along with Madonna, The Cure, Tina Turner, Soft Cell and Air Supply. Tai and I cannot wait to go to the next sing along! It was so much to watch the old videos. I can't believe how strange some of them were. The Soft Cell video for Tainted Love was banned on MTV. Very bizarre!
Sunday we met Pat & Jen for dim sum in the International District. Since it was Chinese New Year we caught the dragon show.
The rest of our Sunday/Valentine's Day has been quiet. We've alternated taking naps, watching tv and just chilling.
Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Love List

In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to share things I'm loving right now:

Being at home with Tai
From here.
 Getting lost in a good book
Sleeping in
From here.
 Orange soda
A really good meal
From here.
 My crockpot
Laughing with friends
From here.
 The feeling after a good workout
My iPhone

Have a great weekend. Happy Valentine's day. Happy Arizona Statehood Day! Happy President's Day! Happy Darwin Day! Happy Georgia Day! Happy National Freedom to Marry Day! Happy Oregon Statehood Day! Happy National Flag of Canada Day! Did I catch everyone?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Love Food!

If you've been reading this blog for anything length of time you know I love food. I love to cook, eat, all of it. I posted about our Valentine's Day dinner last year but this year I'm going to mix it up a little.
I was going to make this gumbo last Sunday for the Superbowl but it has too many carbs for Dad, so I'll make it this weekend (closer to Mardi Gras anyway). Although I've been in the mood for baked potatoes so I forsee one like this one in my future:
Stolen from eHow. Lots of cheese and lots of sour cream. And baked potatoes go well with steak.
Stolen from The Hard Rock
Tai loves lemons so I'll try to make a lemon cake. I'll think I'll try this one.
Yum. I want to eat it all now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.
Just one for me this week. Slavery By Another Name was recommended at work as part of our cultural competency initiative.  I thought I'd expand my reading horizons and give it a try.
I've finished a couple of books (Eve and Thank You For Smoking) but haven't written the reviews. Look for those next week.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Love A Good Deal

I like to shop, but if I can get something 50, 60, 70% off I'm ecstatic. That's why I love Groupon and Livingsocial Deals. Every day on these sites there is one deal.   I've gotten 1/2 salon care, discount tickets to Improv, 1/2 coupons for restaurants. Rather than look for deals both of these sites email me the deal daily.
I also subscribe to numerous deal sites like these:
Northwest Deal Seeker
Centsible In Seattle
Frugal Living NW
Greater Seattle On The Cheap
Hard Times Newsletter
Lean With Green

I also check Slickdeals everyday to see if there is something I can't miss. The last time I mentioned Slickdeals I was contacted by another deal site called Beatthat. I like Slickdeals layout better but there is a lot of ways to get information.
What about you? Do you like a good deal?

Monday, February 8, 2010


In honor of Valentine's Day, I am dedicating each day to things I love. I'm totally in love with storage right now. I'm still organizing the new place and am constantly looking for ideas.
 From Love the colors!
I love wicker baskets. From
I wish my linen closet was so tidy! From
This is what I want for our shoes. From
Swoon. I want this closet. From
I want a closet with a door like this. All of ours are folding doors.  From

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Health & Fitness Goals

I started this week pretty low with no plan on how to get to normal again. After talking to some of you, I realized I should have some goals and write them down.

Goal #1-Lose One Pant Size by My 2nd Wedding Anniversary.
With a combination of little less food and more exercise, I think I could do this one before July but I rather set it on easy and be really happy when I get there before. I've been using LoseIt on my iPhone and it really helps me see how much I'm eating or not eating...

Goal #2- Eat 4-6 servings of fruits and veggies.
I love both but sometimes it's really hard to eat another banana when I really want peaches and berries. I can't for summer to get here fast enough.

Goal #3-Go to Zumba and Kickboxing class- at least one once a week.
I really liked Zumba. It was like an hour dance party. Kickboxing was a little harder but I think it will help me get to goal one faster.

I'll keep you updated on my progress and let you know how things go.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Truth About My TRB List

Often you'll see me refer to my tbr(to be read) list. Usually in comments I'll say something like "Adding that to my tbr now" or "It's on my tbr list." I'm usually referring to this, a Google doc, where I store all my books and usually who to blame:

At last count I wasn't to a 100 yet. Ignore the formatting, it's meaningless. I usually copy and paste from the blog to this document. These are the books I'm supposed to read when I'm done with the Fill In The Gaps Challenge. But these books and others creep in my library loot.
If I see a book that I want to read NOW, I will put it in my library queue and hope to get to it when it comes in. This usually gets me in trouble and why I have to reloot regularly. I try to put books on this list so I can come back to them later insuring I will remember them. Occasionally I'll browse the shelves at the library and find a book from here and get it. Which is why browsing is dangerous, kids. I'll over commit myself and wind up relooting this way too. It's all a vicious cycle, showing you just how addicted I am. Also shows you why I don't buy books. I can't imagine having that many books around our apartment (I know a lot of you do). But I need a place to sit and Tai enjoys being able to see the tv.
How do you keep track of your to be read books?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentines' Giveaway

Alrighty, since we have Valentine's Day coming up, I decided to have a giveaway. Up for grabs are 3 heart shaped soaps:
These soaps come from Sabrina's Sudsy Biology shop on etsy. Sabrina is making anatomically correct soaps like lungs, brains, and kidneys. Each soap comes in a variety of scents. Clean Cotton, Margarita or Banana Nut Bread to name a few.
The winner will receive 3 heart soaps in their choice of scents. Word is Sabrina will throw in one surprise soap.
To enter, head over to Sudsy Biology and leave a comment on this post your favorite soap and scent. I'll choose a winner on Friday, February 12 at 5pm. Oprn to those in the US only. Good luck!

Update: Congrats to Allison, the winner of the this giveaway!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Survived My First Zumba Class

I just want to let you know that I made it to Zumba. I made it through the whole class. I really enjoyed it. When I got frustrated cause I couldn't get the steps, I thought of you guys dancing along with me. I smiled. I laughed. I danced. Thank you all for your support. I'll keep you all updated on my progress.


I’ve been feeling pretty low lately. I’m having a hard time being creative and writing blog posts cause I can’t think of anything about how crappy I feel. The demon voice in my head keeps telling me I’m fat, ugly and worthless. My loving husband tries his darnest to be louder than the voice, telling how beautiful I am, how sexy I am. It’s hard to believe when I look in the mirror and see fat and ugly.

This morning I was trying to think of ways to combat this demon voice. I’m dying to go shopping and buy some flattering clothes. But looking at things that don’t fit me and the fact I’m buying a larger size doesn’t appeal. I’m going to call to see if I can get a massage or spa treatment (Thank you Groupon) this week or next. I’m going to attempt to make it the gym once this week. I found a Zumba class I can take tonight. Anyone recommend Zumba? Can my fat fanny keep up?

And because I believe the universe sends you what you need, I found this post today on Weightless. It was exactly what I needed. Going to stop the negative talk and start focusing on my happiness. And finding a satisfying snack.

How do you turn yourself around when you have a case of the blues?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Turkey Spinach Meatloaf

Way back when before I met Tai, I would cook dinner for my dad every night. When Mom moved to an adult family home, Dad was on his own. Because Dad is partially sighted cooking can be a challenge for him. I hated cooking for just myself so we had dinner together every night.
I like to make sure that my meals have a vegetable somewhere. Sometimes it's a salad or a side of green beans. But when I found this recipe, it became a staple.
I hadn't made this meatloaf since I met Tai. I don't even have the recipe. I did it by memory. Tai says I rickrolled him with this since he was expecting so much spinach. You could puree the spinach, mushrooms and onion if you didn't want to see them.

Turkey Spinach Meatloaf

1 lb ground turkey
1 8 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 8oz can of mushroom, sliced or a cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 medium onion diced
1 clove of garlic diced fine
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste

Saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a little bit of oil. Cook til onions are soft. Mix turkey, spinach, bread crumbs, egg, onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce. I find turkey a little bland so I add a little hot sauce-about 4 dashes. Add more or less or leave it out. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, put mix into loaf pan. Cook at 400 degree oven for 35-45 minutes.
This made enough for 4 generous servings. I added gravy over it but it's delicious and moist as is.