Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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 have this one on my Fill In The Gaps Challenge list. I've been slow reading for that challenge but I'm hoping to get in a couple before the calendar flips to 2012.
The last book I need for the Original TBR Challenge. I have 3 left on that list and I own 2 of them. I'm going to be finishing that challenge at the wire!
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-Turkey Breast

Did you get a good deal on turkey breast before or after Thanksgiving? Want a quick and easy way to make that turkey without using your oven? I followed Stephanie O'Dea's recipe and got a yummy and moist turkey.
Ignore the huge hole in the side. I wanted a taste before I took pictures.
Tips on the recipe:
I didn't have any wine so I used chicken broth.
I used Old Bay seasoning rather than just salt and pepper. Emeril's Essence seasoning would be good too. 
I had a 6.5 pound turkey in a 6 quart crockpot. It barely fit. 
I cooked it for about 6.5 hours.

If you like crispy skin, this probably isn't the recipe for you. The meat is tender and delicious but the skin is just blah. I removed it after I took the picture.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Summer Before by Ann M Martin

From Goodreads:
Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change. Kristy is still hung up on hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove to her father that she's no longer a little girl who needs hundreds of rules. Claudia is navigating her first major crush on a boy. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind... order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.
The Summer Before . . . is a sweet, moving novel about four girls on the edge of something big - not just the Club that will change their lives, but also all the joys and tribulations of being twelve and thirteen.
I requested from the library The Summer Before because I was a huge Baby-Sitters Club fan back when I was a young girl. I remember rushing to the bookstore on the days the new books were released. I had a huge box that I kept all my BSC books in so I could haul them around with me in the summer. I spent my summers at my parents' work and rather than bring one or two I had to lug my whole collection with me everyday. Man, I loved those books. Especially the Super Special books where the girls took trips to the beach, New York or California. The Summer Before was a lovely trip down memory lane.
The Summer Before is the story of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacy before they start seventh grade and start the Baby-Sitters Club. If you read the BSC, The Summer Before gives you more background to the girls' lives. If you're new to the BSC, then it's a great story about four girls leaving childhood and moving into their teens. Each chapter is told from a different girl's perspective. I was glad to hear from each of them. When I was first reading the books, I really identified with Mary Anne, with an overprotective father who treated her like young child. My mom struggled to let me do age appropriate things, always erring on the side of caution. Today, reading The Summer Before, I felt more connected to Claudia, who felt that she left childhood behind and was now firmly a teen. I've been feeling like I'm leaving certain friends and habits behind like I've outgrown them. I'm in the same awkward stage where I remember them with comfort but remember that's not really who I am anymore. Overall, I enjoyed The Summer Before. The twelve year old in me cheered about reading a BSC book again. Others who shared their thoughts on The Summer Before: The Serpentine Library, My Books. My LifeBrooke's Box Of Books, and Live Through Books.
This was my twenty-eight read for the YA Reading Challenge.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Brownie Surprise (Breeseos)

Are you still full from Thanksgiving dinner? If so or if you are trying to avoid sweets. Skip this post. You will gain weight from just reading this post.
When I first saw this recipe on Heather's Dish, I knew I had to try it. While it sounded so decadent, it also sounded so easy and yummy too. It was so easy and decadent too.
It's a brownie. But surprise! There's an oreo and a peanut butter cup. Seriously how fantastic is that?
This was a great way to use up your leftover Halloween candy! I just love the look on people's faces when you tell them about what's inside the brownie. I really recommend making this for a party. They  were so rich that one was enough for me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful!

Myspace Graphics

I'm spending the day with family and friends. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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!
As I've mentioned before, I love Boardwalk Empire (the tv show). I knew it was based on a book, so I put in a request for the book. I'm looking forward to getting more of the history.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-White Bean Soup With Andouille Sausage and Collard Greens

While I was doing some cleaning, I came across an old copy of Real Simple. I saved it because there were several slow cooker recipes I wanted to try. I decided there was no time like the present and made this soup a few days later.
I'm keeping it real with my dirty stove!
Tips on the recipe:
I used 3 cans of cannellini beans (white kidney beans) instead of the dried. 
I only used 1/2 an onion. 
I used my 6 quart crockpot

It was quite yummy. Spicy though. I would add another can of beans and more collard greens next time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

I decided to try my hand at The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge this year. I'm going for the Mistletoe level (2-4 books). I'll probably also complete the Fa La La La Films level just by watching my favorite holiday movies.
So these are the 3 holiday books I've gotten so far:
I love me so Christopher Moore. I can't wait to check this one out. 
I'd never heard of this one but it sounded cute. 
A hundred and twelve pages? Tolkien? I'm hoping to read this one on a snowy afternoon. 
Any can't miss holiday books? Bonus points for short ones!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Squirrel Seeks Chimpmunk by David Sedaris

From Goodreads:
If animals were more like us, if mice kept pets and toads could cuss, if dogs had wives and chipmunks dated, sheep sat still and meditated, then in the forest, field, and dairy you might find this bestiary, read by storks, by rats and kitties, skimmed by cows with milk-stained titties. "I found the book to be most droll," might quip the bear, the owl, the mole, Others, though, would be more coarse. "Bull," could say the pig and horse. As to the scribe, they'd quote the hen: "Trust me, he's no La Fontaine."

I picked up Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk because I do love David Sedaris' writing but I hadn't heard a lot about the book. For some bizarre reason I thought this was a children's book. No, it's not a children's book. In fact I think there are some adults that would be scarred by some of the stories. But it had me chuckling several times though. I am exactly the sick and twisted person that Sedaris wrote this book for.
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a series of short stories about animals. The animals act like humans and most of the time they are doing adult things-having romances, working, and going to prison. Almost all the stories involve some sort of inter-species relationship-a squirrel that dates a chipmunk, a hippo and an owl that become friends, and a mouse that owns a pet snake. A lot of the stories are dark-plenty of deaths in this short book. But all the stories are satire, poking fun at the way humans are. I think the comparisons worked out well. 
I enjoyed Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. But if you don't like anthropomorphic stories then this is not the book for you. If you don't want to read about graphic deaths of innocent animals, then this is definitely not the book for you. But if you like a good satire and enjoy Schadenfreude, then this would be the book for you. Others who shared their thoughts on Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: You've Gotta Read This, The Perfect Binge, and A Good Stopping Point.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Re-Readathon Plan

I signed up for Jamie's Re-Readathon this weekend. I don't normally re-read my books. Mostly because I feel pressured to read new books to achieve my bookish goals, namely reading 100 books a year. Re-reads do not count. But lately I've been sad. There are few books I read way back before I started blogging that I would like to re-read. Here's my small stack:
Probably one of my favorite books of all time. I used to re-read it all the time but haven't in years. I wish my copy had that gorgeous cover! 
When I first read Summer Sisters, I went out and bought copies for all of my girlfriends. I insisted that they all read it. I think I read it twice back then. I look forward to reading it again.
If I finish those 2 then I'll reread Gone With The Wind which I haven't read in years and then...
I'll reread Scarlett again. I used to read both of them all the time. 
What are your favorite books to reread?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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!
Yay! I've been anxiously awaiting for this one from the library. I can't wait to finish the Strain trilogy! 
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-Mushroom Beef

It's getting a little chillier here so I was looking for a recipe that was hearty and comforting. I love recipes that call for gravy. I just know I'm going to enjoy it. Plus this one had mushrooms and beef. Yes, Mushroom Beef recipe was a winner. 
Tips on the recipe: 
I used a 4 quart crock pot. 
I cooked it for 11 hours and the meat was  very tender.

As you can see I substituted the fauxtatoes for the smashed potatoes in the recipe. I loved it over the fauxtatoes but I can see this over mashed potatoes too. I'm sure I'll be making this one again really soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

I picked up Texas Gothic because I had enjoyed The Splendor Falls so much. Sadly I wasn't as taken with Texas Gothic as I was by The Splendor Falls but it was a great ghost story.
Yes, a ghost story. Such a great book to read at this time of year. Amy and her sister Phin are staying at her aunt's house while their aunt is taking a well-deserved vacation. All the Goodnight's have some paranormal ability. Phin studies preternatural science and tries to collect evidence of ghosts. Their cousin Daisy is a clairvoyant. And Amy, well Amy is tired of being a Goodnight. She doesn't want to use spells and potions. She wants people to think she and her family are normal. Unfortunately all sorts of spooky things start happening after Amy and Phin show up and people are not convinced of their normalcy.
I felt like I was dropped in the middle of the story right from the beginning. It took me a while to get into the story. I don't think I was really engrossed in the story until towards the end. It seemed like every time I had a handle on what was going on, another character would show up or we'd learn another fact about the characters that changed everything. When things seem arbitrary, I had a hard time caring.
I wouldn't recommend rushing out and picking this one up. But it wasn't a terrible read. If this one finds its way to you, I would read it. Others who shared their thoughts on Texas Gothic: Resugo's Bookish Paradise, Ink Scratchers, Shooting Stars Mag, and The Crooked Shelf.
This was my twenty-seventh read for the YA Reading Challenge.

Friday, November 11, 2011

An Awesome Surprise

The other day Tai emailed me to let me know he had a surprise for me. A coworker had given him something he knew I would like. I wondered all day about what it could be. No, it wasn't that pony I've been wishing for since I was eight. It was a jackfruit!
I've been in love with jackfruit since the first and last time I had it-Vietnamese New Year last year! Tai had told his coworker how much I enjoyed jackfruit so his coworker was able to pick me up one. Thanks Quinn!
But I had no idea how to cut it. I found this helpful internet video to explain how to cut a jackfruit. And from that huge fruit I got this bowl of jackfruit:
There was more but I kept eating it as I cut it. Each piece has a seed, about the size of a marble, inside. It's difficult to describe the taste of jackfruit. I say it a combo of orange and mango but I saw someone else describe as pineapple and mango. I'd say that could be accurate too.
Excuse me, I'm off to enjoy my jackfruit!
Happy Veteran's Day to all those who have served and are currently serving our country. Thank you!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

After reading all the hype about The Night Circus, I added it to my queue. The hype is for real. Get your hands on this one. You will not be disappointed.
Not since Harry Potter has a book made me believe in magic. Seriously. I adored the world Morgenstern created and I was very sad to leave when the book was over. I can see rereading this one. Not a fan of magic? That's ok. Because there's a love story, a tale of adventure, and plenty of mystery. In the end the story is about what it is to be human and how we connect and disconnect from the world and others.
At the beginning I felt the story was disjointed. You had Celia over here doing her thing. Marco was doing his. There were side bars about the circus itself, comments from Herr Thiessen. I kept wondering what the heck was going on. But it came together quickly and it became very hard for me to put the book down. It's hard for me to say which character was my favorite because they all became so real to me. Morgenstern did a great job of fleshing out her characters and making their world jump off the page. The circus reminded of Cirque Du Soleil rather than Ringling Brothers which added to my enjoyment of the story.
Highly recommended. One of the best of 2011. Others who shared their thoughts on The Night Circus: The Little Red Reviewer, Jules' Book Reviews, I Write In Books, Book Journey, The Perfect Binge, My Books. My Life, Bibliophile By The Sea, The Written World, Whimpulsive, and Books Devoured.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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!
Yay! The next in the Clockwork Century series. I've been really enjoying this series and am looking forward to this installment. 
I was a huge BSC fan when I was a kid. I wanted to read it when I heard it came out but my library didn't have it. My library finally got it! Yay!
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-Hot Beef Sandwiches

Can I tell you a secret? I've made these Hot Beef Sandwiches couple of times before but neglected to share with you all. It wasn't that I didn't want to share, but we ate them before I could snap a pic. I think these sandwiches are my new favorite thing to make in the crockpot. So yummy. And this recipe makes so much we usually have them two days in a row. Ready for the picture?
Tips on the recipe: 
If you don't like to cook with beer, use another can of beef or veggie broth. 
I had the food in the crockpot about 11 hours and the meat was perfect. 
I used a 6 quart crockpot.

I served the sandwiches with roasted brussell sprouts. I love these little cups I got from Pampered Chef to keep the au jus in.
I have to thank Lynn for this recipe though. She mentioned The Pillsbury Slow Cooker cookbook where I originally found the recipe. I picked the book up from the library and was leafing through it on my way to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner when I spied this Hot Beef Sandwich recipe. This cookbook is a winner!
Also I refrigerated the leftovers and the next day was able to remove a lot of the fat from the meat and gravy. I served it the second day over our favorite fauxtatoes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

I added The Poison Eaters to my queue after reading about it on The Written World. I've enjoyed the other stories I've ready by Holly Black and I enjoyed this one too.
There are twelve stories, most of them I enjoyed. I especially liked The Land of Heart's Desire which returns to the Tithe world. My least favorite was The Dog King. All the supernatural folk get at least one story-werewolves, vampires, faeries. I liked that The Night Market was set in the Philippines and added their local lore to the faery myths. The Coat of Stars added Hispanic traditions to the faery myths too. I enjoyed how most of the stories caught me quickly. I wished several of them were longer. I enjoyed them too much.
I would recommend The Poison Eaters to anyone who enjoys Holly Black's writing. The stories are short and the collection is a little more than 200 pages. But still a very satisfying read. Others who shared their thoughts on The Poison Eaters: The Written World, ComaCalm's Corner, and The Zealous Reader.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October Book Tally

Tales of The Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Underdogs by Markus Zusak
Last Night At Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Nine Rooms of Happiness by Lucy Danziger
A Guide To Elegance by Genevieve Dariaux
Anita Blake: Circus of The Damned Book 2 by Laurell K Hamilton
Heartless by Gail Carriger
Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor
They Fought Like Demons by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M Cook
Masques by Patricia Briggs
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Men of The Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

Twelve books this month! I've read over 100 books this year! I've met my goal. Yay! Now if I can finish those four books I have left in the Original TBR challenge I'll have met all my goals for the year.

The Stats:
Fill In The Gaps Challenge: YTD: 9 (Nothing new this month)
War Through The Generations:YTD: 7 (They Fought Like Demons)-COMPLETE
YA Reading Challenge: YTD: 25 (Nothing new this month)-COMPLETE
The Original TBR Challenge: YTD: 8 (Getting The Girl-part of Underdogs-and Address Unknown)
Support Your Local Library Challenge: YTD: 85-COMPLETE
100+ Reading Challenge: YTD: 104-COMPLETE

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

I grabbed The Lover's Dictionary off the shelf because I've enjoyed the other books I read that Levithan coauthored. I really glad I did. I was not disappointed.
Rather than one cohesive novel, the story is told bit by bit through words one might find in the dictionary. And rather than it being the story of two people, I felt it was the story of their relationship.  Sometimes you are reading about the beginning and sometimes you are reading about later parts. I kept making notes of words I especially liked to share with you but I started to mark almost every page. I'm going to share two words out the dozen I marked.
woo, v.
I told you that it was ridiculous to pay thirty dollars for a dozen roses on Valentine's Day. I forbade you to do it.
So that day, when I went to pay for my lunch, what did I find? In my wallet, thirty singles, each with roses printed on it. I imagined you feeding them through your color printer. Oh, the smile that must have played across your face. I had to ask the woman behind the counter to take a quick picture of my own smile, to send it right back to you. page 201
 I was sitting next to Tai when I read it and aww-ed. Tai asked what made me do that so I shared that passage and he agreed that it was sweet.
buffoonery, n.
You were drunk, and I made the mistake of mentioning Showgirls in a near-empty subway car. The pole had no idea what it was about to endure.
There were plenty of these adorable little stories. Which made it incredibly be hard to put down. I kept saying oh, just one more page. Most of the stories were just one page.  It was so easy to read so I read it in a day.
I highly recommend The Lover's Dictionary. It's short and adorable. Others who shared their thoughts on The Lover's Dictionary: The Broke and The Bookish, Read in One Sitting, WalkieTalkie Book Club, Imperfection Is The New Pink, and The Written World.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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!
Yay! It's finally here. I can't wait to start it.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Slow Cooker Tuesday-Beef Stroganoff

One of Tai's favorite meals is beef stroganoff. I rarely make it because it is loaded in dairy which doesn't make Tai's tummy happy. Happy mouth but an unhappy tummy equals a sad man. When I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to make it. But I could not find cream of onion soup at the two stores I went to. Cream of onion seems like a 70's throwback. I had to improvise. But I'll get to that in a moment. First an ugly picture of the final product:
The meat kind of fell apart and resembled creamed beef! But it was so good and creamy.

Beef Stroganoff (adapted from the Betty Crocker website)

2 lbs stew meat
1/2 onion, diced
2 cans cream of mushroom
1 can of broth (I used mushroom but you could use beef or veggie)
1 6 oz can of mushrooms
1/4 tsp pepper
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 8 oz container of sour cream
Rice or egg noodles

Combine meat, onion, soups, mushrooms, and pepper in a 4 quart slow cooker. I used a 6 quart and it was fine. Set on low for 8-10 hours. Boil the noodles or cook the rice separately before serving. While the noodles or rice cook, add the cream cheese and stir to combine. Then add the sour cream and stir to combine. Serve over rice or noodles.