Monday, April 23, 2012

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What a delightful tale that I never get tired of. This was the audio version narrated by Rob Reiner, he did a really fabulous job. Loved it! This is a family movie that is one of our top five favorites of all time. (Billy's shirt with one of our favorite lines from the movie)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Laundry Room Makeover

This project was long overdue. The laundry room became the dumping ground for all objects that needed a temporary home. It got to the point where there was just a path to the freezer and the washer and dryer. Sad. I chose a pretty blue called Blue Cosmos which is actually prettier and more vivid than it shows in the pictures. I chose a brighter white for the cabinets and it was really the perfect finishing touch. The cabinets were all re-organized also and everything put away neatly. The finished look really is so cheery and it makes doing the laundry much more pleasant.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

Review and rating of 4 stars.
I began this story on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, it just so happened to show up from my holds list at the library.
Tess Collins is a maid in Cherbourg who wants a better life for herself and flees to the docking area of the new luxury ship Titanic hoping to find employment and passage there. She meets up with the true life character of Lady Duff Gordon, the famous fashion designer. Hired on as her assistant, they make their way to New York and of course we all know what happens on the way.
This story deals mostly with the trials after, how the survivors cope with the loss and their actions, the media circus, and lack of acknowledgement of responsibility and cover up from the White Star line. Tess is torn between two love interests and she eventually has to make the decision to stand up for herself and the truth, to follow her heart, and whether or not to abandon her dream of becoming a successful dressmaker under Gordon's tutelage.
An interesting blend of fact and fiction that prompted me to look up some of the characters in the story and to learn more about the aftermath of this tragedy that so could have been prevented. I also learned that Lady Duff Gordon was supposed to sail on the Lusitania and had to cancel due to illness.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The best granola in the world

This is Alton Brown's recipe for granola. I think it is the best I have ever had and so easy to make. Why would you ever buy it again after finding out about this incredible treat? Recipe courtesy of the Food Network: Ingredients 3 cups rolled oats 1 cup slivered almonds 1 cup cashews 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup raisins Directions Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God Save The Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne

This was just okay for me, mildly amusing in places but never outright hysterically funny. I listened to the audio version while out on my walks and enjoyed the author's reading of it. I can't get enough of Southern stories and charm so maybe this is why I was initially drawn to this. I wish that I had known years ago that basically all you need to do well in life is a title, a tiara, and a sassy attitude. Would have saved a lot of time :)
Not a complete waste but I won't be pursuing any more of the Queen's adventures.(3 stars out of 5 and I'm being charitable).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

I swear that this is my last Stephanie Plum novel. I mean it this time. No different than the ten installments before this one, I feel that the author is just coasting at this point. The one thing that saved it for me was that I got it from the library and didn't plunk any of my own money down on it.
Stephanie and Lula in another madcap misadventure as the most inept bounty hunters on the planet, dining on Cluck in a Bucket chicken and doughnuts. How hilarious! Let's not leave out Lula's outrageous fashion sense, skinny clothes on a plus sized body, and her prized Via Spigas. Rex living in his soup can must be the longest lived hamster in rodentdom considering his spotty diet. Morelli and Ranger are the same old story, I used to care but don't anymore. Did you know that Ranger favors the color black and basically gives hot, steamy glances while uttering his one word of "Babe"? Grandma Mazur is still up to the same old schtick. Stephanie's mom is just waiting for the respectable hour of 5 or something so she can begin to drink, while Dad waits for his lovely Italian dinner to be laid out, rolling his eyes and muttering behind the newspaper. And of course you can add the random wacky and very unlikely villains to bring the whole story together. I just can't go through this again. Ever.
1 star rating.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Maid by Kimberly Cutter

The tale of the remarkable patron Saint of France, Joan of Arc. A well written biography of Joan's incredible, yet short life and her rise from plain peasant girl to the holy leader of the French army. Their bloody, uphill battle was to reclaim their country from the Goddons, Burgundians, and English and to restore King Charles to his rightful place on the throne. (Fat lot of thanks she gets from him for her victorious efforts). Over the centuries there have been debates on whether she was indeed sent by God to save France and whether her visitations from Saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret were real or the ravings of an unbalanced and delusional girl. I have always believed Joan's claims to be true, she was declared a Saint in 1920 by the Catholic Church. She was also the patron saint of my mother, Joan, and I was named after my mom. So Jehanne d'Arc has always held a special fascination for me for this reason as well.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Edited to add: There was one incident in the story that bothered me and I just couldn't forget about it. I wasn't exactly sure at the time what I was reading, it was so evil and horrific I thought it couldn't possibly mean that. After a battle Joan wanders off by herself, which in and of itself seemed highly unlikely since they never left the Maid unprotected without a guard. She hears something odd and wanders to a barn where Baron Gilles de Rais is there with a dismembered child. She leaves without saying anything to anyone? I thought maybe the child was killed in the battle, but sadly this was not the case. After doing some further research, I learned that de Rais was a monstrous child murderer thought to be responsible for over 100 children's death and was eventually hanged. It is just hard to get past this addition to the novel and impossible to believe that Joan witnessed this atrocity and did nothing.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Titanic Remembrance

Today marked the 100th anniversary of the tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic. I wonder what it is exactly that keeps us so fascinated with this event in history. I think for me it is the stories of all of the people who were on the ship, so many with hopes and dreams of a new start in America. The known tales of chivalry and bravery from eyewitness accounts, tales of not so honorable behavior, and the countless tales of love and bravery that we will never, ever know about from those who perished. I think we are all still a bit stunned that the ship really was so fallible and not the perfect, unsinkable feat of engineering that it was touted to be. So many fascinating components to this story aside from the human element captivate us as well. The maritime history, the mix of such different people of such wildly different backgrounds and means, the technology that we have now to get that far down on the ocean floor and see it all again. So many things about this, all still so fascinating.
I know that these people are all at peace now and that their lives and memories will probably always be with us in some way.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day at the Mall

Billy and I had a great afternoon together on Friday. We went to lunch at Zeek's Pizza and then to Bellevue Square to visit all of our favorite places. Billy built a Star Wars jet at the Lego store. Haven't really been in there in a long while, it used to be his favorite place a few years back. Now I think it is Kenneally Keys with the music books and electric pianos, followed closely by Game Stop.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt- 4 (of 5) stars.
There is no doubt that this book had a lot of violence in it, it reminded me a lot of a Coen brothers movie. This is the tale of Eli (the narrator of the story) and his brother Charlie Sisters who are a couple of hired guns out in the Old West on the trail of a prospector in California during the Gold Rush. I never thought I would be this drawn in to a western but it was really more of a story about the relationship between the brothers and the various characters that they meet up with and how circumstances change them. A very fast and enjoyable read if you can make it past the cavalier violent acts and some really gross surgical procedure scenes. I really liked Eli and was rooting for him to take a different trail in life, not the one he fell into step with mostly out of love and admiration for his older brother.
Really awesome artwork on the book cover. One of the best I've seen this year.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Bunny

We went to Crossroads Mall for lunch and there were lots of Easter festivities for the kids there. We passed by this happy bunny on our way into QFC, he was really into it! I love to watch the little ones having such a good time. Some of the adults are a hoot too.