Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Time

This week I'm participating in a summer edition of Roots & Rings' Ten on Tuesday.

1. From your childhood, what do you miss most about summer vacation?
I actually loved summer camp. And part of me wishes I could go back. One of the camps I used to go to hosts a week long family camp every summer, and I'd love to be able to go back someday with my future family.

2. Are you going anywhere on vacation this summer?
Nothing is planned at the moment, so unless something changes most likely not.

3. What foods do you like to barbecue?
In general, I'll eat pretty much anything barbecue, but at the moment I'm craving grilled pineapple.

4. How do you celebrate the fourth of July?
Growing up we used to also walk down to the beach to see the fireworks over the ocean. Since I've been in Louisiana there have been a few times when we've gone down to the levee to watch them, but we haven't really established a pattern yet.

5. What’s your favorite beverage to drink in the summertime?
I grew up with a lemon tree in the backyard, and used to love it when my dad made fresh lemonade. But in general, Vanilla Coke is my go to drink

6. What movie are you looking forward to seeing this summer?
A lot of books turned into movies actually. Of coarse the final Harry Potter, but also One Day and Sarah's Key.

7. In the car: windows down or AC?
AC. I'm not a huge fan of wind blown hair.

8. Have you ever had a summer fling?
One or two, but I'm not sure if they really count as one. Either way I had a few fun summers back in the day.

9. Do you wear sunscreen?
Not normally, which I know is awful. I will if I'm spending the day at the beach, but if I'm just laying out in the backyard, normally it's no.

10. Do you have any favorite summertime activities?
Speaking of not wearing sunscreen, I love being able to lay out and tay and read magazines or a good book.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kung Fu Hangover (Part 2)

Talk about a weekend of sequels. Although it may surprise you as to which one of these the boy was looking forward to the most. But to keep the anticipation up, we'll keep his pick for second...

The Hangover Part 2
It's been a while since I saw the first one, in fact I only saw it in the theaters, so it took me a while to remember all the characters and how they were involved. Even then I couldn't remember a lot of the shenanigans from the first. Although that was probably a good thing, but I didn't have a lot to compare it to.

It definitely is ridiculous as expected. And over the top at times. I did really enjoy it and don't think it had a down moment. With that said, I think in someways Bridesmaids might still be the funnier film. (Of course I could be a little biased considered the material.) But I will say that I still loved the wedding at the end of The Hangover.

Kung Fu Panda 2
Yes, this is the movie the boy wanted to see, and our first pick of the weekend. We saw it in 3-D, and my opinion is that the movie along with the 3-D is worth the cost. Although I don't think you'd be missing out seeing it in 2-D. In some ways I think this was better than the first, and with the ending with definitely left it over for a third.

Overall a great weekend for movies. I don't think you could make a wrong choice with either one. It's more of what are you in the mood for. But after these two films, I'm just looking forward to the rest of the summer box office even more now!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I have to say after blogger being down for a few days recently and now not being able to comment I'm getting a little frustrated with blogger. Just know there's been multiple times where I've tried to comment our your blog lately, but I haven't been able to. But by that same logic there could be hundreds of being trying to comment on mine as well, right? But I'm sure eventually things will be back to normal. But until then, here's a little Getting to Know You Sunday fun!
1. would you rather go on a picnic or to a bbq?
I'd be more than happy with either on, but right now I'm leaning towards a bbq.

2. would you rather go bra-less or panty-less?
As long as I'm being lazy around the house either, I'm pretty much fine either way.

3. would you rather go on a $5000 shopping spree at your favorite store or go on a $5000 vacation?
Vacation definitely! I'm not a big shopper. Although you could probably make $5,000 go a lot further shopping.

4. would you rather eat escargot or sauteed crickets?
I've eaten (and enjoyed!) escargot before, so this one's a pretty easy answer for me.

5. would you rather go on survivor or the amazing race?
I love both shows, but Amazing Race would be a lot more enjoyable.

6. would you rather be hot or cold?
I'm going to sound hypocritical saying this, because it's ridiculously hot and wish it were cooler, but I'd still rather be hot than cold.

7. would you rather go to the beach or lake?
I'm a California girl! It's definitely a beach for me!

8. would you rather not shave your legs for a month in the summer or your armpits?
Neither one sounds that great, but I'd have to say I'd rather be shaving under my arms.

Go head over to MannLand5 and link up! And if you're visiting from there I'd love to hear from you! (Assuming of course blogger gives you that option!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Sisters

The Deadly Sister by Elliot Schefer
Out of the two Goodwin sisters Abby has always had to cover for her younger sister Maya. The pattern continues when she finds Maya's cell phone on the riverbank next to the body of Jefferson Andrews, the most popular boy in school.

This book is a YA book, although I'm sure some will argue that some of its theme are a little mature for its audience. But drugs and promiscuity are unfortunately no stranger to most teens. If they're having to experience this growing up in the real world, why hide it in a book? Yes, it might be nice to sugarcoat things and show a perfect world, but that doesn't always give an accurate portrayal especially if you looking to read something that might resemble your actual life.

I did find Maya's & Abby's relationship really interesting. While I don't have a sister, I do still see similarities between their relationship and mine with my brother. It can be hard to see a younger sibling struggling and wanted to be able to help, even if it means doing things on their behalf that aren't necessarily right. Or on the other hand, it would be difficult to be the younger sibling of an overachieving sibling, and never feeling like you could live up to their accomplishments. The book is told completely from Abby's point of view, and while I don't think it lacks for its absence, I think it would have been interesting to see a scene to two to better understand what Maya is going through.

And then there's the ending. Let's just say I wasn't expecting this ending at all, although looking back I could see how the pieces added up. Part of me even wants to go back and reread it to see if I missed any clues and understand better how it ended up. About halfway through the book it picked up to the point I had to know how the clues would add up and the mystery would be solved, but again while twist was climatic, it wasn't the way I would have liked it to end.

As soon as I finished the book I felt that the ended made it almost a lesser book. But now that I've had time to think about it, I definitely think it improves it. With a different ending it wouldn't have been quite as memorable, but the way it's currently written it's hard to forget.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review. Nor was I even required to write any type of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Choice

Last week I gave you the venues we had narrowed it down to. This week I'm revealing our decision. Some of you got it right, but the venue we picked was...
Houmas House
Houmas House!

Of course I can't make the reveal without showing more pictures of the site, this way you'll fall in love at least a little more like me.
In the Gardens
This is inside the reception area looking out to where we'll have our cocktail hour.
Fountain behind Houmas House
This is the original Houmas House china, which they've had remade and will be served on to look something like this.
Eggs Creole
Although this was taken at a brunch eaten in their restaurant. Since we're having an evening reception we're not expecting to have any hollandaise sauce.
Dragonfly Chairs
Of course I can't show all these pictures of the plantation without at least one photo from an actual wedding there, right? Didn't think so!

Now that you know our final choice, please join in my excitment and let me know what's your favorite part of our venue, based on course on the pictures I've shared.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Priests & Pirates

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
By now I think everyone has seen Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, and here again he doesn't disappoint with his portrayal. I wouldn't list this as the best Pirates movie, but overall I enjoyed it. I did seem to drag in the middle, but sped up towards the end, coincidentally (or more not!) once the mermaids were introduced. Honestly the mermaids made the movie for me, and were my favorite part. Probably not what I was supposed to take away from it, but it was the strong point for me. We did opt to see this in 3-D, and think this was a movie where it was worth the up charge.
I never would have expected to see this, but Sunday afternoon the boy was bored so off to the movies we went. It's kind of a vampire meets western movie, and in general the movie was a lot better than I expected. That's not to say I'd see it again, but more that I went in thinking I would hate it, but it wasn't that bad. This time we opted for 2-D, and seeing it I do think it could have been fun with the extra dimension, in no way do I regret the choice we made.

Overall, I guess it was a weak weekend for movies. But with the movies opening in the weeks to come I think you'd be fine skipping these two and waiting for something better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

This past weekend the boy and I went to get snow cones. And by that I mean the boy drove and waited in the car for me to buy one. We had snow cones back in California (I used to always get them at big soccer tournaments), but what we don't have a little stands on the side of the road that only open up in the summer.
I decided to go with my current favorite flavor-wedding cake. (Something else I had never heard of until I moved to Louisiana. Although I think it's more that it's a newer flavor instead of a cultural thing.) I had them top it with whipped cream and for fun they threw a gummy worm on top.
It's the first time I've had a gummy on top of a snowball, but I wasn't completely surprised since Becky posted the same thing a few weeks ago. Maybe gummy worms on top is the new trend in the snow cone industry?

But this brings us to the most important question... in California we called them snow cones, but here they're snowballs. So which do you use? Or maybe you're completely different and just use shaved ice? And what's your favorite flavor?

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'll Put a Hex on You

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
I heard so many great things about this book that I couldn't wait to read it. I think that was part of the problem though, because I hyped it so much it couldn't quite live up to my expectation.

Think of this book as Harry Potter meets Gossip Girl. Sophie is a witch being raised by her non-magical mother. Seems once her mother discovered Sophie's father magical identity she left him and raised Sophie on her own. Except without any to train Sophie's magical ability she is sent to Hex Hall, a school for wayward teen witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

Reading the book at first I thought it was going to be very predictable. "I know exactly what is going to happen," I though to myself. Yet the ending still surprised me. Could I have figured it out if I thought about it more? Probably, but even so the twist still got me.

I loved all the pop culture references thrown in. I'm sure this goes great in the YA market, but since I'm such a kid at heart I loved it. Little in-jokes about Buffy or Star Wars, while let's just say I felt far smarter than I should have for getting the joke.

And I really enjoyed Sophie. I was a fan of all her sarcastic remarks, since I can be a little sarcastic myself. In several instances some of the things she said I could easily picture myself saying as well.

Overall it is a really cute book. Yes, I was disappointed, but I was thinking it was going to be some life changing epic novel. But even with my disappointment, it's not going to stop me from reading the rest of this trilogy.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two Women, Two Stories

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley & Susan Donavan
This isn't the type of book I normally read, and in some ways I wasn't I'd be able to get to through it. But by the last third of the book I was really glad I stuck it out, and really enjoyed the overall story that was told.

Piper Chase-Pierpont is a shy almost dowdy museum curator working on an exhibit about the abolitionist Ophelia Harrington. But Piper accidentally stumbles on a diary detailing Ophelia hidden past. Back in London in the early 1800s Ophelia was known as the courtesan the blackbird, and her diary details the seven sins of the courtesan which Piper decides to use to turn her own life around.

My biggest biggest problem with the book how explicit some of the racier scenes were, but that really shouldn't have been a surprise considering the title as well as the cover. I have read one or two romance novels before, but nothing that goes into the depths as this one. I know there are a lot of people who really enjoy this type of steamy novel, but in general I guess this isn't me. There isn't a lot of this in the least third of the book, and not too surprisingly the last third is what really drew me in.

Also changing as I read the book was my feeling towards the two main characters. At the start I enjoyed reading Piper's parts the most, I think partly because they made me less uncomfortable. But by the end Ophelia's chapter were by far the more exciting ones, and I almost couldn't wait to get back to her adventures.

Looking back on the book I can easily say that while parts of the book read a little awkward to me personally, I still enjoyed reading it. I think it does tell a great story and while I didn't necessarily enjoy every last word in it, I think that without some of those steamier scenes it wouldn't really be the same book.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review. Nor was I even required to write any type of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Narrowing it Down

Last week we made the decision to have the wedding in Louisiana versus California. (And by made I mean I let you know the decision we made. In know way am I saying this decision was made in a week.) But once we knew what state we were looking at it was time to come up with a more specific where. These are some of our top location choices.
Oak Alley
Oak Alley Plantation
This was one of my top choices before I even really started looking. I mean just look at the view! In general the host the actual receptions in the historic house itself. The buffet is plated on the dining room table, tables are off to the side of the house, and the dance floor is the side balcony.

What I really looked about the venue is how it was priced out. Each fee was itemized so you know how much went to tours of the homes, and how much went to each appetizer selections. Out of all the proposals we saw this one was by far the most detailed.

Now for the negatives, since I'm based on Baton Rouge not only was this the first venue, but it also on the other side of the river. Also since the reception is in the house itself (they don't have a separate reception hall), they won't serve red wine nor do they allow children to attend (besides those who are in the wedding itself).
Mount Hope Plantation
This is actually where the boy's first wedding happened. And by first I mean he was 7-years-old and a ring bearer. This house is centrally located in Baton Rouge on Highland Road, which I've been told is the the oldest highway in America that is still used as such. Here we would have the ceremony out in front of the house, and the reception behind the house.
This is the view of the back, but behind the camera are gardens most of which is grass but there is a building or two and a fountain. You can see that they set up a dance floor on the patio behind the house. The food is normally served indoors and bistro tables (some of which you can see) are set up outside for more of a cocktail reception type feel.
Up Close
Houmas House Plantation
This is another plantation that's a bit of a drive, but it's a lot closer to Baton Rouge than Oak Alley. The is actually where the boy's sister was married, although I didn't meet him till a few months after their wedding so I wasn't at the event. Ceremonies are normally held in front of the house, but if you compare it to Oak Alley there's isn't an actual path. This basically means any train on your dress is going to basically drag on the grass on your walk down the aisle. After the ceremony the have guests walk through the historic home to the reception sides in the back.
This is where the reception would be held with food catered by their on site restaurant Latil's Landing which was voted one of the best new restaurants in the country by Esquire Magazine in 2005. Out the windows on the right are gardens where the cocktail hour would be held, and off to the left there's an antique submarine. (Seriously! Doesn't submarine equal wedding to you?) The biggest negatives towards Houmas House are that it's one of the most pricier options and again it would be a bit of a drive from an actual city.
White Oak Plantation
Out of all possibilities this one is the absolute closest for us. While this venue looks very pretty it's the only one that isn't a historic home, and was basically built as a reception venue. (It was actually designed to look similar to Houmas House.) But because it's not a historic venue there are less restrictions here, and it's designed specifically to host events instead of the other which were homes 100 or so years ago.
Behind the house are gardens, a covered patio, and of course the ballroom. (This is taken in about the middle of the room to give you an idea of the size.) The venue is owned and catered by the famous chef John Folse, who is one of the more famous chefs specializing in traditional Louisiana cooking.

Overall we had a lot of great choices to choose from, but one stood out more than the others... Any ideas which one we choose? And which one would you choose for yourself?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's a Sis-mance?

One of the most surprising things about this movie is that the boy was actually a fan. When we started seeing previews for this he swore there was no way he'd see it. But after hearing the reviews, and realizing it's not really a chick flick it was almost his idea to see this one. (He was faced with this versus Something Borrowed which is actually more of a chick flick.)

There were so many scenes the came over as so ridiculous and over the top it's hard to pick a favorite. The toasting at the engagement party, the airplane scene, the drive-by., and of course the actually wedding at the end.

Although while completely enjoyable, since I'm currently planning a wedding parts of the movie freaked me out in a OMG-what-if-that-happens-to-me type of feeling. Granted some things I'd be okay with like the life size chocolate fountain or even puppies as a favor, but other like the fights between the woman while planning- that scares me.

But overall the movie is laugh out loud funny. And like I said before, even the boy wound up as a fan.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Down by the Banks

This past weekend I had to go to downtown Baton Rouge. If you've been paying attention to the news lately you should know that the Mississippi river is at some of its highest levels ever.
Levee is Closed to Pedestrians

While the actual levee has been restricted to pedestrians there was an overlook to look out onto the river.
Mississippi River
Yes, this may look impressive but it's hard to tell just from this picture what it actually means.

For comparison the photo above is of the the USS Kidd, a battleship that is permanently docked in the river and used as a museum. You can tell it's docked by looking carefully underneath the boat. The photo above was taken on a fairly dry day a few years ago. The photo below was taken this past Saturday. You can see the front end of the USS Kidd on the left side of the picture. Also those steps in the first picture and pretty much completely underwater now.
Mississippi River
At this point it's hard to know exactly what's going to happen. The river is supposed to crest here in the middle of next week. And while everything sounds crazy and this is going to impact a lot of people, thankfully where I live and work I'm not really in danger. But just try to have the people of Louisiana in your thoughts over the next few weeks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (10)

I love that I've gotten more into book blogging lately. Except the biggest negative about it is that I keep hearing about all the amazing books I want to read. I pretty much avoid trips to the bookstore because once I'm there there's no telling how many books I'll pick up. And this week that happened. This week the book I'm sharing for The Story Siren's In My Mailbox are books I purchased on my most recent trip to the bookstore.
In My Mailbox
Hex Hall by Rachael Hawkins
This book, and its sequel Demonglass, have been all over the blogs lately. For those who haven't seen it around, it's kind of a teen girl version of Harry Potter. I was so excited to read this one that I've actually already finished it! (Review to come in the next few days or so.)

Roses by Leila Meacham
I've heard nothing but great things about this one. I believe it's a historical fiction type book about Texas, but that could be completely wrong. But from what I've heard, I have a feeling I'm going to feel in love with it.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Another one I've heard amazing things about, but yet can't really tell you the basic plot line. Again it may take place during the Civil War, but even if that's completely off I'm still excited to read it!

Have you had a major book splurge lately? And what's in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Could Have Been

This weekend the boy and I are finally putting down a deposit for our wedding location! Now that it's starting to feel at least a little bit real, I can't actually starting blogging about it. I just hope you're all as excited to read about it as I am to write about it.

The first decision that really had to be made is where to have it. I don't mean the exact place, but what state. I grew up in California, which is also where my family still lives. The boy is from Louisiana, which is where we met and where we're currently living. (Hence the title of my blog. I'm glad we're all keeping up!) So the question was L.A. or LA? There's the fear if it was out in California none of his family would come. Or if it was out in Louisiana would my family make the trek?

What it really came down to was that the boy and I are currently living in Louisiana. It just seems so much easy to me to be planning a wedding where I'm living instead of halfway across the country. And I like the idea of showing off my new home to my friends and family. Not to mention the prices in Louisiana are a little different that Southern California. But even though we've made the decision, it doesn't mean part of me doesn't wish for the wedding that could have been.

Since it's not actually happening this way, here's a glimpse at what our wedding could have actually been, if we made the California decision.

At a winery, posing in the grapevines

or celebrating amongst the wine barrels.

Or at the beach.

Neither of these two beaches are actually in California, but I think they get the message across. But moving on to actual CA locations.

Up in the mountains. (This is Big Bear specifically.)

Or at a historical L.A. location like the Biltmore hotel.

But as much as I love all these possibilities we won't be doing, I can't wait to share what we actually will be doing! Do you also have two very different locations you had to choose from? What type of locations did you have to give up when making your wedding location choice?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Extra One

Extras by Scott Westerfeld
This is the last book in the Uglies series, although in someways it reads more as a companion book than the continuation of the same story. The book does take place in the same world and deals with the aftermath of the events of Specials. But the biggest difference is that it isn't told by Tally. She does still make an appearance about halfway through the book, but here the star is Aya Fuse, a 15-year-old living in what used to be called Japan.

There's a few things I really enjoyed about this book. First it was nice to see this world from a different point of view. I really liked Aya, and while she has her similarities to Tally at the start of the series, she is such a different person. Second, it was really interesting seeing Tally from someone else's point of view. While we know all the changes Tally's gone through over the corse of the novels, as a reader part of me still thinks of her as a 15-year-old ugly. Whereas Aya's view of her is far more dangerous than I would picture her, but I do think it fits the character we left at the end of Specials.

It's also interesting to hear how society has changed based on the events from the earlier books. Instead of a world where you can have whatever you want whenever you want it, they had to come up with some kind of currency. Their currency is based on reputation, so the more people who know you the more things you can have. Not too different from our society today, and it makes sense considering the world this society came from. Although it does mention several times, this was the choice of one city, and others changed differently. Not sure if there will be any more ugly books, especially considering Specials was written as the end initially, but if there are seeing other cities' way of changing would be an interesting way to go.

I definitely enjoyed this, and think it might be my favorite of the whole series. Although as I said before, I think it might have been better classified as a companion book instead the next uglies novel.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back to the UK

Look what I picked up this week!
I have to say, I'm glad this royal wedding happened while I was engaged. Not that I would have been less obsessed with it, if I wasn't. But since I am it gives me a perfect excuse to pick of these magazine. After all, I have to buy them for wedding inspiration. Although I'm sure if I wasn't engaged I could have come up with an excuse. After all it's a wedding of a lifetime right? But since I know you want more pictures here's some of the full page spreads from inside the magazines.
Are you still obsessed with Will & Kate's wedding? Have you picked up any memorabilia? (This is all I have right now, but I'd love to pick up a Princess Catherine doll!) And if you're already so over the wedding I can at least promise this will be my last post on it. Unless of course I do wind up with a doll!

Monday, May 9, 2011

God of Thunder

This movie wound up being a pleasant surprise for me, and I think it may even be one of my favorite superhero movies. To start out with Chris Hemsworth looks absolutely gorgeous. Thankfully they even gave us a seen or two of him without his shirt. Natalie Portman is really cute, and while I wasn't sure how she'd work in a superhero movie I think she does great here.

The movie felt very fast paced, and in some ways felt a little short. But I think it was a perfect length, just shorter than than what we're used to. Also there didn't seem to be a lot of drawn out fight scenes, which worked for me. (Don't worry though if this worries you because there were still enough for the boy to enjoy.)

Of course if you do see it, be sure you stay till after the credits so it can built towards the upcoming Avengers movies. I have to say after this one, I'm looking forward seeing Chris (and hopefully Natalie!) in that movie now more than ever!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

I have a great week to share for this week's IMM. Or I guess technically 3 weeks since it's been about that long since I've posted one. If you're new to this feature, you can head over to The Story Siren to learn more, but it's basically a wear for bloggers to share books they've picked up recently whether it be through the mail, through the library, or the bookstore.

My latest obsession is Goodreads First Reads giveaways. I'm not sure if it's beginner lucks (I hope not!), but I've already won quite a few books through their contests. There are so many more books I'd love to win, so here's to hoping my luck continues and here are the books I've won so far!
In My Mailbox
Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz
This is a self-published book about an American (I believe) living in Paris who feels lost after her husband's death. But Paris, being the magical place it is, is the place where she also rediscovers herself. I have a soft spot of France (Have I ever mentioned my parents met in their high school French class?), and I think I'll really enjoy this. The author was also kind enough to sign the book for me before she sent it my way.

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer
This is a YA book that was published last year. In the book Abby's sister is accused of a murder, and she starts to cover for her sister. I'm not sure what happens, but I'm hoping for a bunch of twists and turns. I'm not normally a big mystery reader, but being that's it's YA it seems like a good one to try.

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
This is an uncorrected proof that's set to be published this upcoming June. In the book, Kate survives cancer and with a new take on life challenges herself and her friends each to do something they swore never to do. These seems like the perfect beach read, except unfortunately it doesn't look like I'll be getting to the beach anytime soon.

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley & Susan Donovan
This is another book set to debut this June. Here Piper is a museum curator who accidentally stumbles on a 200-year-old diary of a courtesan. Of course being the shy & quiet girl inside the museum she decides to discover just how her life may change by learning the courtesan's lessons. I'm about a third of the way through the once already, and it's definitely keeping me entertained so far.

So tell me, what's in your mailbox this week?