Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Out at Sea

Welcome to another edition of Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday. This week I'm at...
Disney Sea at the Tokyo Disney Resort
Back in 2008 I went with my parents to Japan to visit my brother who was studing abroad. Everyone had their own ideas of where they wanted to visit, but my only request was that we headed to Tokyo Disney. Instead of heading to the Tokyo Disney itself, which is like Disneyland or the Magic Kindom in Orlando, we went to Disney Sea.

One reason we made this choice was because we've already been on the main Disney rides tons of times in California. But the other reason was because I've wanted to go Disney Sea since the early 90s! Back then they was no plans to build this park in Japan, instead they were trying to build it in Long Beach, California, my hometown. Unfortunatly the plans fell through financially, and it wound up being built overseas. But finally being at the park really made me wonder what it could have been like if things had worked out differently.

Anyone have an amusement park in their hometown? And what Disney Parks have you been to?


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Before the Eclipse

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer
With Eclipse coming out this weekend, I figured this was the perfect time to read the Twilight novella. In case you haven't read the Twilight books yet (what are you waiting for?) the books tells the story of Bree Tanner, one of the newborn vampires in the army that fights against the Cullens. Even if you haven't read the books, you can tell just by the title how the book (and Bree herself) ends.

Its been about two years since I read the Twilight books, and this book brought back all I loved about them in the first place. I was fun getting back into the Twilight universe. Like the rest of her books I didn't want to put it down, and being a novella, I was finished in a few hours. While it shouldn't have been a surprise, there was even a bit of a romantic interest for Bree. But what I found the most interesting was being able to see bits and pieces of Edward and Bella's relationship and interactions from an outside point of view.

It was a nice refresher course to reacquaint myself with the Cullens in anticipation of the movie. Which I wanted to see before, and now really can't wait to see! And even more than that, it made me want to reread all the Twilight books. Ending this review the only way fitting...

Go Team Edward!


Monday, June 28, 2010

I Miss My Ants

Yes, you read that title correctly. I miss the ants back in California. They're the type of ants you find in ant farms. They dig there homes underground, steal food at picnics, and are basically a nuisance. They are annoying but yet they're harmless. And silly me I thought that was how all ants behaved.

Then I moved to Louisiana. And the ants here are not the same. We have fire ants here. They're still black (although we had red ants back in California that were just as harmless), but they build their homes in mounds of dirt above ground. Unlike the herbivore California ants, they are carnivores and they bite you! Seriously! I had no idea ants bit before I lived here. With each bit they leave a bite of acid behind and you wind up with something similar to a mosquito bite. (Except you can pop them like a pimple! Sorry if that was too much info for you.)

During the two summers I was a camp counselor I would wind up covered in bites. Most often from just walking in the grass, but there was definitely a time or two I accidental sat in an ant pile. Now that I have a more normal 9-5, thankfully the ants bites are less. Except for when one decided to crawl up and bite me as I was laying out on my lawn chair in the back yard.

I complained to the boy, and now we own a nice bottle of ant poison. It smells awful (I guess that's why its poison?), but now once a week or so we spread it out on the ant piles. We definitely have less than we used to, but hopefully we can get rid of them for good.

What kind of ants do you have where you live? Do you think I'm crazy for not knowing ants bite? Or do you think its crazy that ants DO bite? And did you ever have an ant farm as a kid. I didn't, and I'm going to guess there's not a lot of people who did. But feel free to prove me wrong!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Say GoodKnight

Knight and Day
I went into this movie with low expectations, and I guess is that sense I wasn't disappointed. Tom Cruise is some type of government spy except now the government is after him. And Cameron Diaz plays the cute girl that somehow gets wrapped up in the situation. There was an attempt at a plot, but I can't even say for sure what exactly it was. Something this a perpetual energy battery and its creator?

People kept getting drugged and passing out throughout the movie. And since the character had no idea what was going on, as a viewer we didn't either. Which meant we kept waking up in random places without any real explanation. Except that the were able to film on an island! And in the Alps! And in South America!

I didn't really get the title either. Tom Cruise's character's name was Knight before he changed it to a secret spy identity. So I get that's where the Knight comes from. (There's also a toy knight he buys at the start of the movie.) And I guess since Cameron Diaz is his opposite she's day? It really wasn't explained, and I don't feel the title fits the movie.

There was action, and a few romantic bits. It wasn't horrible, but its not even a film I'd want to watch in repeats when it airs on tv. I guess if you're looking to escape the heat by being in an air conditioned theater you could see this. But I really think there are better options out there.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Spanish Bridegroom

For a Queen's Love by Jean Plaidy
I love it when new Jean Plaidy books are released. Actually released its quite correct, released would be better. See, Jean Plaidy died in the early 1990s, and most of her books were published throughout the 50s and the 70s. Most of the books have gone out of print, but they are slowly being republished.

This book tells the story of King Phillip II of Spain and his first three wives. The first Maria Manoela, whom he has somewhat of a childhood romance with. The second Queen Mary Tutor of England, a marriage made strictly for politically again. And the third Elizabeth Valois of France, daughter of Catherine di Medici, another marriage made for political reasons like most royal marriages. However, helped by the fact his wife was 3 years younger than himself, he did seem to fall a bitin love with her.

What I love about this book, and all Jean Plaidy books in general, is that while they are historical fiction they read a bit biography. They aren't written to have a big mystery, or a great plot twist, instead she simply tells the story of their lives. While some of her characters don't have the most interesting lives, I still enjoy them and love that I'm able to learn a little bit with each of her novels.

One reason I felt I was able to learn so much from this book especially is because its about of topic I haven't read a lot about. I read tons of books about England during this period, but few about Spain, so it was nice to see this period from a different point of view. And while there were a lot of new historical persona for me, its always fun to read about figures I've read before, for example Mad Queen Juana, who I read about in C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen, and Diane de Poitiers, who I discovered in Diane Haeger's Courtesan. It's almost like reacquainting yourself with an old friend, and its always neat to see a different author's take on an old character.

I definitely wound up enjoying, more than a lot of Jean Plaidy's other books even. Even without any grand gestures or climaxes I still wasn't able to put it down. And I can't wait to read her next book, which has thankfully already been (re)released!


Friday, June 25, 2010

The End of the Mortal Instruments

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
This is definitely a series where each book gets better and better. Unfortunately it is a trilogy, which makes this the final part. I'm a little sad considering I can only imagine what more books in this world would be like. This books takes Clary and her friends to the city of Alicante, which is the city of the Shadowhuters, in order to find a cure for Clary's mother.

While I do think it'd be fun to read more about this world, this book does wrap the story up pretty perfectly. All the questions about Clary's and Jace's past are answer. While some of them are answered as expected, there's still some nice twists and turns along the way. In some ways I felt the last few pages opened up a second set of questions, but yet I think the author's point with bringing in the Seelie Queen at the end of the book was to show how satisfied Clary was with all of the changes she's gone through.

I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this series, especially after being a little let down after the first book. I think part of it is I like being the one choosing my own books. When someone lends me book to read (these ones were from my mom), I tend to think that if they were really worth reading I would have discovered them myself. While I know that isn't always the case, its still a hard habit for me to break. But hopefully this books takes me on a journey of being a little more open to suggestions.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making a Cake

Last week I posted about making lemon risotto. In the post I mentioned I had a good amount of leftovers. My mom made note of that and sent me a recipe for risotto cakes. It turned out to be a great way use up most of the risotto left in the fridge. Here's the recipe, courtesy of my mom.

Risotto Cakes
Take the cold risotto out of the fridge. Make it into little cakes about 2-3” in diameter. Make them flat like thick pancakes.
Risotto Cakes
Beat an egg with a little water in a bowl. Have another bowl of bread crumbs (panko-the Japanese ones are really good, but you could use any kind).
Dipping the Cake
Dip the cakes in the beaten egg then the crumbs.
Coating the Cake
Saute in olive oil (be sure the pan is hot, then add the oil) til crispy and golden brown on both sides.
Frying Cakes
Overall I think it turned out really good, and I think it was a great way to use up the leftovers. Although I had some of the cakes break apart when I dipped them into the eggs. You can kind of tell which ones those were by looking at them in the frying pan. But they tasted great. They were still nice and lemon-y, but sauteing them gave them a nice little crunch.
Risotto Cakes
Anyone else have any creative ways to use up leftovers? Whether its leftover risotto or something else I'd love to hear them!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Get Your Kicks

I know I missed last week, but this time I'm back with another edition of Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday. The point is to share a picture of you somewhere in the world, its that simple. So this week I'm on...
Route 66
I could be wrong, but I believe this was taken in Texas, although it might have been in New Mexico. This was Summer 2006, right after college graduation. I spent about 2 weeks driving my car cross country from Maryland back to California for the summer.

Be sure to head over to Classy in Philadelphia if you're looking for more Where in the World Wednesday posts! Or if you'd prefer, you can see Where in the world I've been here!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Talk about battle of the 90's boy bands. In case you haven't seen it yet (which really, I'm guessing you haven't) last weekend the Backstreet Boys were a surprise guest during a New Kids on the Block concert. They showed up and the two groups sang I Want it that Way together. I realize the video's not the best quality, but I hope you're still able to enjoy this 90s flashback!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Movie Review

Toy Story 3
Pixar's back at it again, and they've brought back Woody and Buzz and the rest of the toys with them. The movie deals with Andy going off to college. But what will happen to the toys? Will he take them to college? Store the in the attic? Donate them? Or just throw them away in the trash? If you've paid attention to previews you probably have a good idea as to what journey they take.

At parts of the movie I couldn't believe what they were subjecting the toys to. I know I was almost looking away from the screen not wanting to watch, and I'm sure there must of been kids in the theater who felt the same way. I didn't understand why they would put such awful images in a kids movie. Then I had a bit of a reality check, they're toys after all! Sure we know they're alive, but what they go through isn't really any different than what happens to most of our child play things.

And the end? Yes, I did cry. It just sends such a message of being ready to grow up and move on with your life, and yet not quite being able to forget your past entirely. There's a line (which I know I'm going to ruin entirely) where Andy's mom tell him he'll miss him while he's away at college. And he responds back, something along the lines of even if I'm not here, I'm still here inside of you. And I think that's the message the movie was trying to send, learning to let go and yet still hold on.

So in case you missed it, I loved the movie. (I'm pretty sure there isn't a Pixar movie I don't love.) The boy enjoyed it, but he liked the second Toy Story better since he felt it was funnier. So I would definitely recommend going to see this. (Isn't it nice to have two weeks of positive movies in a row? Interesting that both this and The Karate Kid are both geared towards kids. I guess they're only making good movies for kids right now.)


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some Changes

There's a few changes over here at From L.A. to LA. Nothing too crazy, but I hope it makes things a little easier to navigate. If you look at the top I've added links to a few specific sections of the blog. First are all the entries dealing with my journey from Los Angeles to Louisiana. Posts like dealing with the lack of sidewalks or learning that people in the south still say ma'am and sir. Second are all my books posts. Most are reviews, but there's a few fun ones like the tour of my library. Third is food, which is some recipes, some restaurant reviews, but mainly just a lot of food porn pictures. And finally we end with movies, which again is mainly reviews.

I'm hoping that these links at the top can help especially if its or first time here and you want to discover what From L.A. to LA is all about, or instead if you've been a loyal follower and you're looking for new ideas of books to read. While those four topics aren't all I write about, they do tend to make up the majority of my posts. Of course if you're looking for a specific topic, say my thoughts on Jon & Kate Plus 8 or to hear stories of my world travels the right sidebar still lists all my tags.

So let me know what you think? Do you like having those links at the top? Or is there another one you think I should add? Or if you have any suggestions for From L.A. to LA in general let me know!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Mortal Instruments

City of Ashes by Cassanda Clare
When I read City of Bones the first book in The Mortal Instrument series, I enjoyed it but didn't quite feel a spark. But with book I was definitely feeling it. I think it was partly because so much of the first book was used to develop the world of the Shadowhunters. By the time we get to the second we know all about the characters and their demon-hunting ways so instead we can focus more on the actual story.

While I really enjoy the book, there was at least one detail that seemed to get to me. Throughout the book various adults kept trying to tell Clary and Jace a big revelation about themselves. But they never seemed to finish their thought, and even though as a reader I could sense it was going to be something big, the characters barely knew it was happening. I will admit that while it was frustrating to me as a reader, I do think the author was able to get her point across.

The book definitely ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, far more than the first. And this time the next book I'll be reading will be the third book in this trilogy.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm Sorry to Tell You

I don't have a post for you all today. But in case you haven't already seen it, be sure to check out my cameo at yesterday's Monday Meeting at Amber's Girl with the Red Hair!


Monday, June 14, 2010

More Risotto Fun

The last time I tried to make risotto, I pretty much failed at finding "risotto" rice. To prevent this from happening again my mom gifted me with two boxes of arborio rice. They've pretty much been sitting in my pantry begging me to come up with a reason to use them. And when I saw a recipe for Grilled Shrimp & Meyer Lemon Risotto in an old issue of Family Circle I knew it was time.

Just as a side note, I don't subscribe or normally buy Family Circle. But I have no problem reading other people's recycled copied they've read and are now giving away.

Back to the recipe at hand. I guess it'd better to say I was inspired by their recipe because I made a few big changes. First I didn't use shrimp, mainly because I was too lazy. Second I couldn't find any meyer lemons, so I just went with regular ones. Also the recipe called for a shallot. And while the boy had told me he bought some, what he thought was a shallot wound up being purple garlic. So here's my version of their recipe.

Lemon Risotto
3 cups chicken broth mixed with 1 and 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package of arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
Zest from 1 and 1/2 lemons
(Yes an odd amount, but its what we happened to have)
juice from 1 lemon
1 block of Fontina cheese graded
(The official recipe called for 1 cup)
6 (or so) basil leaves chopped (mine were of course from my garden)
salt & pepper to taste

Place broth and water in medium-sized saucepan and bring to simmer.
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and add rice. Stir until rice is coated. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add wine and cook till absorbed.
Add broth. Cook over medium-low heat stirring until absorbed. Continue with the rest of the broth mixture adding 1/2 cup at a time.
Stir in the zest, juice, cheese, salt & pepper. Stir in basil just before serving.
Lemon Risotto
I think it wound up turning out really well. The boy complained that it was a little too lemon-y for his taste, but I thought it had just the right amount of lemon flavor. It made a ton of food, and we wound up with quite a bit of leftover. (Which I really need to finish eating!) I think it was a success, and even though risotto is more of a winter food, I think the lemon made it work for June. (There's also the fact that we have central air, which works wonders at cooling down the house.)

Anyone have a favorite type of risotto? Or do you have any supposed winter foods that you'll still eat in the summer?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Karate Team

The A-Team
Remember my review of The Losers where I said it would probably be a not as good version of The A-Team? Well that was pretty much the case. I did enjoy the movie, and its not one I'm dying to see again. Again the story is pretty basic a team of military men gets frames for a crime, and has to show the world who the real bad guys are. Nothing too crazy.

For me the high points were really Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel. It's really crazy to think of how far she's come from Mary Camden. There were a few good actions scenes, especially the finale, and there's a scene after the credits which a also appreciate. I'd say it hits the spot as a good summer action film.

The Karate Kid
I never saw the original growing up, but the boy tried to get me to watch it a year or two ago. I only remember the first half, so I have a feeling a fell asleep halfway through. So I guess you could say I only half knew what to expect. But I wound up really enjoying this movie, and think it was better than expected.

First there's Jaden Smith, who was surprisingly good. There was a moment where he said a line and sounded almost exactly like his father. But overall he seemed like his own person. He definitely held his own, and I do think he has a big future in front of him.

I think the one thing I didn't like about it, where the fighting bits between the 12-year-old boys. It's one thing when they're supervised at the big contest at the end of the movie. But the parts when the bullies are practically pummeling Jaden on the street? It hurt a little too watch. I know its not real in the movie, but the idea that it happens in real life is a little scary.

I think one of the reasons that the movie is going to do so well is because of the mass appeal. It's a story about a kid, so all the young boys want to see it and will drag their parents. And the 20-something guys, like my boyfriend, all want to see it since its a part of their childhood. (The boy was a fan, and did seem to like the fact it followed the original.) Then judging from the demographics of our theater, the fact that Jaden Smith was in it brought out the African-American segment. But I think like his father, he is going to able to people of every race.

And as silly as it may sound, I loved the credits. First they were done in both English and Chinese. Second they featured behind the scenes photos, which of course included shots of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith overlooking the action. And finally, there's the Justin Beiber and Jaden Smith song over the credits. I guess he's a singer too like his dad.

While I enjoyed both of the movies, The Karate Kid is easily my pick out of this weekend.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Art of the Choke

A few months ago the boy and I were watching an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network. The episode was on artichokes, and Alton showed how to both cook and eat one. It seemed weird to me that an episode would focus on how you actually eat the food, along with the cooking. But according to the boy, while he had eaten artichoke hearts, he had never had an actual artichoke by itself.

Growing up in Southern California artichokes were a vegetable we ate fairly commonly. Until the boy mentioned it was something new to him, I had little idea that they were so unique in other parts of the country. But when I saw artichokes at the grocery store this weekend I figured it would be a perfect time for the boy to have his first artichokes.

Not only was the going to be his first time eating them, it was going to be my first time cooking them. I didn't have a steamer, but after some research I was able to craft one out of a pot, a strainer, and a cookie sheet.
Artichokes in the "steamer"
In the water underneath I added a slice of lemon and clove of garlic, and set it to boil. The chokes could have probably cooked a little longer, but I was impatient and didn't want to wait any longer. A few leaves on the outside were a little tough, but once you got a layer or two in they were pretty perfect.
Cooked Artichokes
The boy's verdict? He was a fan! Although I think part of it might have been the garlic butter dipping sauce I made him as well. I wound up sticking with a vinaigrette salad dressing I had in the fridge instead.

Have you ever eaten a whole artichoke? If so, what's your favorite thing to dip them in?


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Got Crabs

Welcome to another edition of Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday. The way to play is to share a picture of yourself somewhere in the world. This week we're heading to...
Crab Feast
Baltimore, Maryland
I spent four years at college in Maryland. Where there I learned how to eat and enjoy crabs (along with the actually school learning). I'm pretty good at getting all the meat out, but I probably won't be winning any contest with my speed. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the crab meat is dipping it vinegar. This photo of me and my parents was taken June 2005, the summer after my Junior year of college.

Be sure to head over to Classy in Philadelphia if you're looking for more Where in the World Wednesday posts. Or if you'd prefer, you can see Where in the world I've been here.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Not Your Average Chick Lit

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
This books tells the story of two women living in Boston. There's Tessa the mother of two who recently quite her job as a college professor to become a stay at home mother. And there's Valerie a single mother raising her son while working as a lawyer. Neither one knows each other, until of course their lives becomes forever linked.

To start of on light note, while this isn't a sequel to her other books there were a few familiar faces. Dex from Something Borrowed makes his appearance as the brother of one of the characters. And while this book isn't Dex and Rachel's story it is nice to check in on them, and see how their lives are going.

As for the book, it similar in some ways to the author's past books. Reading the book it's almost as if you're not sure who to root for. Starting the book I knew what I wanted to happen, and when it almost does by the book's end I wasn't sure if I wanted it anymore. None of the characters come off as perfect, instead they come of as almost a real life flawed person. After all we know no ones perfect in real life. But I'm not sure if I always want that in a light summer read. While part of me does like the fact the characters seem real and easily identifiable, at times I almost wished for an easier read from a so-called chick lit book.

I can't list this book as one of my author's favorite. Nor do I really have any desire to read it again. But while I was reading it I couldn't put it down, and I get the feeling that this will be a book I won't forget. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I read it, and I have a feeling I be thinking about it for a good while.


Monday, June 7, 2010

An Annonomous Phone Call Away

A few weeks ago I was driving to work when a light came on in my car. I called the boy freaking not sure really what to do. I tried to describe what the light looked like over the phone, but couldn't quite get the message across. He told me to pull over and look up in the manual what the light meant. After a little research it meant either I had forgotten to put the gas cap on (No), or there was something wrong with the engine.

We made plans that the boy would meet me on my lunch break and we'd drop my car off. But while I was a block away from my office I noticed my car dealership, that I hadn't realized was so close to my office. I dropped my car off and then made my into work.

By around lunchtime they called me to say what was wrong with my car was... nothing. They couldn't figure it out. They turned the light off, and since they couldn't figure out what was wrong it would be free of charge. Just if it came back on I was supposed to head back.

Two weeks go by...I'm driving to work, and the light comes back on. This time I know what it means and where to go. So I head back to the dealership. Luckily the girl working the desk remembered me since I had only just been there. Again they called me around lunchtime, but this time they knew what was wrong, or at least they had an idea. They told me my air filter had to be replaced. (At least I think that's what it was. It was at least some type of filter.)

They gave me an estimate, and I called the boy since I had no idea if the estimate made sense. He called around to a few other places, and confirmed that the price they gave me was ridiculously high. He wanted me to call the dealership back and anonymously get a quote on the cost for the part and the service.

So I called the dealership back anonymously. The parts center easily gave me the cost of the part. (Around 1/3 of the estimate I received.) Then they transferred me to the service desk. I told them that was looking for an estimate of the service for this specific part for this specific model. I'm guessing this wasn't that common of a service, because I'm pretty sure they new it was me. "What did you say your name was?" she asked me. Except I didn't want to tell them my name, because they would probably tell me exact what I had been previously quoted. Finally, she told me she'd have to check with the mechanic and the service would be based on the length of the repair. I could give her my phone number and they could call me back with an estimate. Since I didn't want to identify myself, I told her "Thanks, but no."

Not too surprisingly, about 30 minutes after that call I received a called back from the dealership. "We just wanted to call you back with good news! It turns out the mechanic had overestimated the amount of time it would take to fix your car. And it's going to cost you less!" This new estimate? Over $150 less than the original. I guess my anonymous phone call did the trick.

So at the end of the day I went to pick of my car. And they even gave me a free mint! Or on the other hand, a mint I paid a few hundred dollars for. Hopefully, this fix does it, and I won't be heading back to the dealership after another two weeks!

Anyone else had any interesting dealing with getting your car fixed? Did they at least throw in a mint for free?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Get Him to Persia

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
As seeing the previews for this movie, I really didn't want to see it. In the previews it just looks so cheesy, and really just bad. But to my surprise I actually enjoyed the movie.

The movie just wasn't what I expected. Yes, there were several actions scenes, but it was a lot more than that. The movies took me places I wasn't predicting, and introduced a lot of fun characters. Then of course I was a fan of the love story as well.

And the sands of time bit? It's something that has been overdone, but it felt as if there was a fresh twist to it. I thought I had predicted how the movie would end, and yet even so the ending was still a surprise to me. Overall I'd say this was definitely a pleasant surprise for me.

Get Him to the Greek
Every time I've seen previews for this, I can't help but think of my only concert at the Greek Theater. It was back in high school, and a friend and I saw O-Town. Not quite the same as Aldous Snow, but it was still a lot of fun.

But moving on, this was actually another nice surprise and better than I expected. While the movie wasn't amazing, it was full of all out ridiculous scenes where you couldn't help but laugh. And the music? Songs with lyrics like "There's an African child trapped inside of me," sung by Russel Brand. Or probably my favorite "Ring around my posie," and you're not getting that song unless you think of it the dirtiest way possible.

Apart from the ridiculously, the movie is chock full of cameos. I mean Draco Malfoy makes an appearance in the movie. Overall the movies completely over the top, but still pretty enjoyable.

Out of the two movies, my favorite would have to be Prince of Persia. But honestly, I still enjoyed each of the movies far more than I would have imagined.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Mortal Instuments

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I think it's pretty much going to be impossible to review this book without any spoilers. So if you're the sort that wants to avoid them at all costs this might not be for you. Otherwise...

This book is about Clary Fray a normal teenager living in New York City. At least she thinks she's a normal teenager. But that all changes after a night out in a club where she get wrapped up in the world of Shadowhunters. They're a group demon hunter somewhat humans, similar to how Wizard are humans in the Harry Potter world, but non-Shadowhunter humans are called mundanes instead of muggles.

The book does set up a really interesting fantasy world, and while a few parts of the novel are predictable I still enjoyed it. Although I didn't really Star Wars-esqueness of the ending, but only because I wish things had worked out a little differently. As you would expect from a young adult novel with a Stephanie Meyer quote on the cover, there was a good bit of teenage romance throughout the book which I did enjoy. While I wouldn't necessarily list the book as one of my all time favorites I did really enjoy the book, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Kashi's Sweet & Sour Chicken
Kashi's Sweet & Sour Chicken
Anyone remember my Frozen Thursdays? Well, I won't say they're back, but they're at least here this week. I've actually had this meal in my freezer forever. Seriously, see how long ago I posted a Frozen Thursday? It's been there at least that long. I remembered trying this several years ago when these meals first came out, but that was before the blog so I had no review. I had a feeling I didn't really enjoy it, but I couldn't quite remember. So I bought this, but was a little reluctant to try it until tonight.

And now that I've tried it, I know where my hesitations come from. Mainly I wasn't a big fan of the sweet and sour sauce. Although now that I think about it, I'm not a huge fan of sweet and sour sauce in general. I guess it just wasn't meant to be for me.

Besides the sauce there were a few other let downs. The green beans, which in general are one of my favorites, I didn't really enjoy. Normally these meals always taste really fresh, but the green beans tasted distinctly frozen. Although that could have been partly due to the fact its been sitting in my freezer for around 6 months.

There was also only one mushroom in the entire dish. Interestingly enough, there's a single mushroom shown on the package.

Really for me, the only high point were the yellow and red peppers. Clearly not enough to make it an very enjoyable meal for me, or to justify buying it again. While I wasn't a fan, I'm sure if you love sweet and sour sauce you'd probably love this meal too.

And for the record, no one asked me to review this meal, or gave me any products for free. I just always liked these meals and thought this would be a fun way for me to keep track of my favorites.


Back to the Garden

Last week I posted about the garden I planted. But there is so much more in the backyard that was planted by the previous owners. I can't stop taking pictures of it all. Partly because I can't believe I actually own a back yard, and also because there is so much growing in it. I'm still not sure everything that's a weed, and what's supposed to be there, but hopefully that will come with time. As before, I'm not completely sure the names of everything, so please feel free to make any corrections!
Magnolia Tree
Magnolia Tree


Roses in the Backyard

We thought these had died after the winter (you can still see some of the dead parts), but miraculously as its gotten warmed they've come back to life.

This probably won't surprise most of my readers, but my favorite parts of the backyard are the edible bits.
Babt Satsumas


I can't wait till these start to ripen and I can start snacking from my own backyard!

Anyone else grow fruit in their backyard? Or if you could have a fruit tree, what kind would you want?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Day at Versailles

This week for Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday we're heading to... jump....
This again was on my 2005 France trip. The 5 of us (aka the Paris Posse as we dubbed ourselves) headed to Versailles. At the Metro we were able to buy tickets that included the train ride to and from, as well as the actual tour at the palace.

On the train ride there, we sat next to a group of fellow Americans. We didn't talk to them, but did overhear their conversation.
"Any idea why we're going to this place?"
"Well I've heard of the Treaty of Versailles. And that ended World War II, so this must have been built to celebrate the end of the war."

Once we reached the palace we were welcomed by Louis XIV.
Louis XIV at Versailles
He's actually the one who built the palace. And I'm pretty sure he wasn't alive in the 1940s...

We took a tour of the palace.
The Chapel at Versailles
This is the chapel in the palace. The hall of mirrors was actually being restored while we were there. They had kept half of it open, so you could attempt to get the feel of it. But I wasn't that impressed, and didn't wind up with any pictures. (I have since seen pictures of it since it's been restored and will say that now it looks impressive.)

After the palace tour we had a picnic of food we brought with us overlooking the gardens.
After our picnic at Versailles
We finished eating and headed out to explore,
Gardens at Versailles
and engage in some fountain jumping.
The first picture in this post is my own failed attempt at fountain jumping.

After a day filled with such culture we headed to McDonald's! There wasn't one technically at Versailles. But in order to walk from the train to the palace you walked by one. So we headed over to share some French fries and McFlurries. (No picture of McDonald's. I wasn't blogging back then, and hadn't grasped just how important it was to document everything!)

Be sure to head over to Classy in Philadelphia if you're looking for more Where in the World Wednesday posts. Or if you'd prefer, you can see Where in the world I've been here.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adventures in Baby-Sitting

This past weekend the boy's niece had her first ever sleepover at our new house. We had actually watched her overnight once before when she was only 10 months old, but that was before we bought the house. And it's quite a bit different having a sleepover with a 10 month old versus a 2-and-a-half-year-old. The chair in the library converts to a bed, so we were able to change the room up as shown in the following Before and After pictures.
Chair and BookshelvesBed All Made Up
Like any good sleepover we started the night off with pizza.
Pizza for Dinner
Between the stuffed animals she brought with her, and the ones I have in the house since I refuse to get rid of my childhood, there was no shortage of things to play with.
Arranging the Animals
And when we got tired of playing with the animals we just took a few spins around the living room.
At the end of the night we made ice cream sundaes and watched A Little Mermaid.
The following morning she helped me make a batch of blueberry pancakes.
Blueberry Pancakes
I figured I'd end things with one of my favorite perfects from the weekend, us with our matching ponytails.
Matching Ponytails
Even though you can't tell from the pictures, the boy was actually there as well. He just went through an extreme effort to avoid being in any of the pictures, and clearly succeeded. I hope everyone else had a great holiday weekend too!