Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Novel of the Borgias

Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy
As soon as I realized this book had been released I was really looking forward to reading it. First it was written by Jean Plaidy, I've already raved about her over and over so I'll try to avoid doing that once again. Second it was about the Borgias family, and this would be my first time reading anything about them. I am happy to report back that I wasn't disappointed.

While the book follows the Borgiases from Pope Alexander VI to his 3 illegitimate sons, the focus is on his daughter Lucrezia. I had heard she was something of a harlot, and I was surprised to find her fairly innocent in this book, although I'm sure this will change in the sequel. Like most Plaidy books the story starts with Lucrezia's childhood and continues as she grows up.

I know it's been said before, but I think it's especially relevant to this story, that the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. There is so much that happens to the family throughout the book, that if it were a work of fiction it could be seen as a little over the top. I realize the book is only based on truth, but reading it you have to wonder how much actually happened and how much is left over from rumors and gossips.

Speaking of the scandals, the last chapter is full of them. I wouldn't go as far to say that the book ends on a cliffhanger, but more that after it's ending I can't wait to dive into the sequel to see just what other adventures are ahead for Lucrezia.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As We Grow Older

Remeber a few weeks ago when I picked up a new picture frame? Well look what finally made it onto a "picture wall." (Two frames counts as a wall right?)
Now let's zoom in a little closer so you can actually see the shots.
When I went to order the pictures I was told that due to my camera I could either have the pictures cropped to 4x7 or re-sized about a half inch smaller. I opted for the smaller size, thinking there's a bit of an overhang on the frame that will cover the edge anyways. Except I didn't look at the frame to see that wasn't the case, so instead there's a bit of a border behind the pictures. Not the biggest deal, but if I had looked at the frame first, I would have just ordered them cropped.

On to the pictures themselves! The outside ones are pictures with the boy's niece & nephew. The next one's are me and the boy. The one was taken Spring 2008 at the LSU baseball regional.
And this is how I would like him to feel
And this one is from Valentine's Day earlier this year.
On the Couch
The one in the center is me and my best friend when we were around 4 years old. What I find a bit hilarious is comparing the picture below and the one above. In the picture above, I have brown wavy hair. So which one of the following is me?
I'm actually the one with the straighter blonde hair! Isn't it funny to see how much I've changed in 20 plus years! Have your looks changed from how you looked as a kid? Or do you still look basically the same?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Movie Review

Water for Elephants
Ever since I read the book, I've been dying to see the movie. (Of course I read the book only when I heard they were turning it into a movie staring Robert Pattison & Reese Witherspoon, so maybe it isn't the fairest of statements.) But even so, as much as I was looking forward to the movie, part of me was a little scared to see what they would do to it. But I shouldn't have worried, but the movie definitely met my expectations.

That isn't to say they didn't change a think. For instance Uncle Al wasn't part of the movie. Instead August was both the August from the book as well as Uncle Al. They were a few scenes near the end that were removed or condensed. But even though it was different it didn't take anything away.

Another thing to make note of is that reading about the animal cruelty is one thing, but actually having to watch it is another. Yes you know that in real life nothing happened to the animal actors. But still having to watch the animals living onscreen go through some awful circumstances is a little uncomfortable.

Even with these negatives I still loved the movies. I loved both R Patz and Reese Witherspoon (and Christoph Waltz as well!). I was even able to forget that it was Edward on screen and actually lose myself in the movie, which I was afraid I might not be able to do. It really made the book come alive, and I don't think they could have turned the book into a movie any better.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Kosher (for Passover) French Toast

I've always been a fan of matzah brie, at least as long as I can remember. I think part of it's novelty is that the only time of year I eat it is during Passover. I'm sure if I had access to it year round, I would rarely if ever have it. But because passover only comes once a year, and so many foods are off limits at the time, it almost always makes it's yearly appearance. I know some people prefer there's a little more savory, but with my sweet tooth is it really a surprise I take it the other direction?

Matzah Brie
2 pieces of Matzah
1 Egg
1/2 cup Milk
Vanilla, Cinnamon, & Salt to taste

Just pretend the salt made it into the picture too.

Soak two pieces of matzah in water.

Why yes, you can see them soaking in the ingredient picture as well, which is why they're are kind of curvy.
Squeeze out as much water as possible & discard. Add to bowl with other ingredients.
I went with about a cap-ful of vanilla, and a few dashes each of cinnamon and salt. Look at me, starting to cook without following directions!
Mix well and add to a hot buttered pan.
Be sure to butter the pan well. Otherwise the crust sticks to the pan and the brie itself doesn't really brown. Not that it's something I would have aver done.
Once browned flip over to brown other side and remove.
I tend to flip it in pieces. It doesn't really matter if it all stays together. This isn't a pancake we're cooking.
Garnish with toppings of your choice.
Matzah Brie
I always go with powdered sugar and maple syrup, but you can add pretty much anything you'd add to breakfast food (fruit, whipped cream, nuts etc...). Or if you eating this for dinner instead of breakfast (What? There aren't a whole lot of other great dinner options during Passover!) You can't eat it without any toppings, although you might want to skip the cinnamon and vanilla up front.

And that satisfies my matzah brie craving till next year! Anyone else have a favorite food that you really only eat once a year?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Born to Kill

I was actually pretty excited to see the movie. It just seemed like a really interesting premise, and I was curious to see where they were going to go with it. I did wind up enjoying it, but think they could have done a little more with.

Watching the movie it reminded me of the Fearless book series I read in high school. (Which I LOVED, and part of me wants to go back and reread the series in entirety because I never got to the end.) The similarities were that both girls were raised by their only by their father, and both seemed to not really have any type of fear. Although Gia, from Fearless, was able to blend in as a normal teen, whereas while Hanna makes an attempt at times she is still a long way from normal.

But my biggest complaint were the number of plot holes. There were a few lines that didn't make sense with others, and a few details that were left open without any real good reason.

I'm definitely glad I saw the movie, and think I would have been curious if I hadn't. But I can't say I have any large desire to watch it again, nor is it a movie I feel obligated to put on someone else radar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BFFs Forever

The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow
I feel like a have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book, similar to how you'd feel with a close family member or friend. Reading it you can't help but love yet, yet there's a few things that bothered me, even if they may come off a little petty.

The book explores the relationship of 11 childhood friends as they grow up and their friendship evolves. The book starts out with a chapter devoted to a few of the girls specifically. It explores their family life, their parents' professions, their religious background, and other foundations of their lives. Through each of the chapter you get to know the girl in the chapter title. Except there are only 4 such chapters. Thankfully there were a few girls outside of these 4 I did feel I got to know, but others who by the end of the book I knew little to nothing about. There is a basic fact sheet with pictures of each of the girls that I referenced throughout the book trying to keep them all straight. But while there is a ton of information on some of them, others only seemed to be mentioned in passing.

I would assume that the reason for the range of information has to be a privacy issue. Some girls were more comfortable having the details of their life in a book than others. But since it was never specifically addressed, instead those girls seemed to be somewhat forgotten.

Another dislike I had on the book comes off a little petty, but reading the book I couldn't help but be jealous of this large group of friends. Don't get me wrong, I have a several great friends from various aspects of my life, some even since birth. But there's never really been a big group of people, and I've always thought it would be fun to be apart of one. The book does actually address this a bit, when several of the girls comment of their daughters' friendships and wish they also had a group of friends just like there's from Ames, so at least I'm not alone wanting to be part of such a group.

But even with these complaints, I still really enjoyed the book and am glad I picked it up. In a way the best way to really sum up the book is that it truly is like catching up with a group of good friends.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

It's been over a month since I've participated in The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. I made a rule that I wasn't allowed to buy books unless I had a coupon. Well this week Barnes & Nobles finally sent me a 15% off coupon (I do get them more often from Borders, but it's a little harder for me to get there), so off to the bookstore I went. I'm not sure how good of a compromise this was for me since even thought the coupon was for one book only, I came out with 4. O well, hopefully this will keep me satisfied on the book buying front for a while. But here's what I've picked up, at the store and otherwise, since my last In My Mailbox.
In My Mailbox
The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis
I've never read anything by her, but the main reason I picked it up is because it's about Catherine de Medici. I've read books where she's in the background (for example Courtesan by Diane Haeger about Diane de Poitiers) but nothing about her specifically, and I'm always excited to read about a new historical character.

Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Loglein
I'm a little obsessed with Matt's Blog, and was so excited to buy the book. I say it in the bookstore and snatched it up, not realizing it was the day it was released. If you're unfamiliar with their story, Matt's wife Liz gave birth to Maddy, and died the following from a pulmonary embolism. It is a heartbreaking story, but it's almost remarkable to read Matt's (and Maddy's!) journey afterwards.

Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy
You can tell just by the cover that this was released to capitalize on the new Borgais tv series. By any excuse needed to republish Jean Plaidy's books is good by me! I've never read anything on the Borgias, and since again I love reading about new-to-me historical figures I can't wait to dive into this.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld
A few weeks ago I finished the third book in the series, and can't wait to see how the author decided to coninue and end (for the second and final?) time. I'm just hoping the final adventures of Tally are the best of the series.

For Review
Ravenwild by Peter J. Plasse
I was recently sent this book to review. It's a fantasy book and everything I've heard about it so far sounds great. It definitely looks to be one that will hold my attention for a while, and I can't wait to dive in!

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chocolate-y Goodness

I'm not sure what blog I saw this on originally. But it's such an awesome idea, and so ridiculously easy, so thank you for the idea! (And if it was your post, please let me know so I can give you a shout out.) But we start with the ingredients.
Crescent rolls & chocolate chips. Yes, that is it. Although if you want a third you can count your favorite grease to coat the pan.
Spread the chocolate chips out on each roll. (Or you could do half like me, since the boy refused to eat the chocolate ones.)
Roll up and cook in the oven according to package directions.
Enjoy your chocolate croissants with a cup of morning coffee.

See, so ridiculously easy! Although next time I might add a little bit more chocolate, or at least spread it out a little more, especially closer to the edges so you can see it ooze out a little more. But overall such a fun semi-homemade breakfast.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

These roses are one of the first things I see when I get home everyday. (Or there's the opposite, they're the last thing I see as I leave me house in the morning.) Seeing them just makes me happy to be home everyday.They're just so pretty, and I love that they're just there waiting for me

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

I'm participation in Top on Tuesday today, hosted by Chelsea from Roots & Rings. The questions today are from one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa, which if I'm being honest is one of the reason I decided to participate today.
1. If you work, do you drive to work or take public transportation?
I drive. The way to work it's about 15-20 minutes, but getting home it takes closer to 40. So ridiculous if you ask me.

2. How often do you get your haircut? Do you go to the same person every time?
I'm a little embarrassed to answer this one, but practically never. I guess it's time for met to get a haircut, right?

3. Do you read the newspaper? If so, a hardcopy or the online version?
I don't really read it. Although back when I was in school and free copies were placed throughout campus, I used to pick them up and read them.

4. What is the best book you have read this year?
In the past 12 months... I would have to go with either Water for Elephants or One Day.

5. What is the best movie you have seen this year?
As cliched as it's going to sound, I have to go with The King's Speech. But also up there for various reasons are Toy Story 3, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Twilight: Eclipse.

6. Do you tend to crave sweet or salty foods?
Definitely sweet. I had a ginormous sweet tooth.

7. Do you eat breakfast every day? If so, what do you have?
I pretty much never eat breakfast. Although most weekends the boy and I will make a package of pre-made biscuits.

8. If you celebrate Easter, what Easter treat/candy are you most looking forward to?
I don't really celebrate Easter, but that doesn't mean I don't crave Cadbury eggs.

9. How late is “sleeping in” to you?
I'm a little in shock that this is actually starting to change for me, but I'm still going with 9:30 or 10.

10. Where are you going on your next vacation?
The next one planned is with the boy's family in December to Disneyworld.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Movie Review

Your Highness
Let me start this off by same this one of the most awful, over the top, and ridiculous movies to the point that it's enjoyable. There were several times through the movie, where there was a loud collective gasp of disbelief from the entire audience. Think of it as a raunchy & dirty version of Labyrinth meets The Princess Bride. It's the type of movie you expect to be filled with b-level unknown stars, and the fact that Natalie Portman & James Franco decided to star, makes it a little more unbelievable.

It seems like the perfect type of movie to watch on a Saturday night with a group of friends over a bottle of wine. Just be warned if you do decide to see it in the theater, it might be quite a bit uncomfortable depending on who you decide to see it with.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Funday

I'm back participating in Keely's Getting to Know You Sunday! And we're off...
1. do you watch/read the news?
I don't watch the news, but I do skim the headlines each morning to keep an eye on what's happening. Plus I seem to get a lot of news from my friends on facebook & twitter.

2. how would you describe your "look"?
Normal I guess. Maybe I little lazy, because I know I don't take the time on it like I feel like I should.

3. did you play sports in high school or college?
I played soccer throughout both high school & college.

4. would you rather give up lipstick/gloss or high heels?
I rarely wear lipstick, but don't enjoy wearing high heels. So I'd equally be willing to give up both.

5. what's your favorite show to watch on tv?
Is it bad that this it the hardest question for me so far? But I'd have to go with 16 & Pregnant/Teen Mom. They're practically the same show, so I think I officially only listed 1 favorite.

6. would you rather bake or cook?
I cook more often, but have to say I enjoy the rewards of baking more.

7. shorts or skirts?
Normally it's shorts. But lately I've been going through a skirt phase.

8. what's your favorite scary movie?
I'm not a huge scary movie person, but the last one that really got me was The Ring.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The First American Traitor

Finishing Becca by Ann Rinaldi
I bought this book a few weeks ago at Goodwill, when trying to find a 5th book for 5 for a doller deal. I recognized the author from a book I had been assinged to read back in middle school that I enjoyed. After searching for a final 5th book for what seemed like forever this seemed like a great fit, and wound up being a good choice.

Finishing Becca takes place during the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The title refers to how Becca's mother sends Becca to be a maid in the Shippen household to help her find her missing peices and become a finished woman. While in the household she becomes aquianted with General Benedict Arnold.

From elementary school I know who the traitor Benedict Arnold is. But while I knew we betrayed the American to the British, I wasn't sure the details of the event. By the end of the book I can't send a know every detail of Benedict Arnold, but understand his story quite a bit more.

This isn't a time period I frequent, and being where I found the book I was a little hesitant. But it wound up being a pleasant surprise. I wound be more than willing to read more of her books, or even reread the book I was assigned to read back in 8th grade (In My Father's House was the book after a quick google search.)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers

Yes, more backyard pictures. At least this time I know the names of most of what I'm sharing. That's a start right?
Satsuma Blossoms
Satsuma Blossoms
Lemon Blossoms
Lemon Blossoms
Banana Leaves
Banana Leaves coming back
These evil thistles are unfortunately all over the back yard. We had one or two last year, but this time they're everywhere. Not only are they scary looking, but they're prickly. Which only means that even though I want to pick them and destroy them every time I see them, with all the stickers they're more likely to destroy me.
Yes, the roses also have thorns but at least they're a lot prettier to look at.
And another rose bush.
The herbs that made it through the winter are thriving. The oregano is going everywhere.
As is the rosemary.
And the parsley. The thyme in the background had an unfortunate run-in with an ENTIRE bucket of water (oops!) but the part that didn't drown is still making it.
Peach Tree
Here's our peach tree, which hopefully with have enough fruit on it this year so we can actually try one.
And I lied. I don't know what this is called. Anyone?
Nor am I sure of this. But I think it might be some type of clover, and a weed. But I thought it was pretty so I'm sharing.

Now tell me honestly, are you tired of looking at picture of my backyard? If so, It must only mean you're jealous of me, right? ;) Or do you like like looking at all the pretty picture?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

They're Back

If you go through my archives to see whenever I've used the music tag, you'll notice a common theme. Yes, almost everytime it involves the Backstreet Boys. And today is no different.

Introducing the new NKOTBSB (aka New Kids & Backstreet) single Don't Turn Out the Lights.
And yes, a new single means they're planning on releasing an alum together. All I can say is I can't wait for their concert this summer!

(If that video is already down HERE is the link to the official release.)

So tell me what are your thoughts on the new single?

(NKOTBS)Backstreet's Back!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not Quite a Sequel

French Kissing by Catherine Sanderson
A few weeks ago I blogged how I'd been lucky enough to receive a signed copy of this book. The author posted on her blog that she had a few copies sitting around her apartment that needed a good home, and since I had just finished her first book it seemed like perfect timing.

French Kissing is a work of fiction, compared with her first, Petite Anglaise, which is a memoir. Except they're eerily similar. Both tell the story of an Englishwoman living in Paris. In both she has a young daughter with a Frenchmen. While her first tells how she left her daughter's father, this novel tells the story of Sally, who after leaving her daughter's father searches for love on-line. And if I remember correctly from the blog, Catherine did fall in love and marry a second Frenchmen whom she met online.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened. But by calling this a novel, it gave Catherine far more freedom. This way she could write without being trapped by events that actual happened or without feeling guilty she could alter facts to better the story. It is interesting that in real life Catherine left her boyfriend to have an affair. But in the novel, Sally instead has been wronged by her cheating boyfriend.

It did take me a while to get into the book, but once I got to the second half it read rather quickly. What I loved about the book, is that it filled in details from a part off Catherine's life that wasn't really blogged about. After all the craziness that happened during the time of her first memoir, she stopped writing about her real life. But this was almost a window into that time of her life, so we can have an idea of what happened without her actually admitting to anything.

I did wind up really enjoying the book, although only wish she was still blogging. As I said before in my review of her memoir, I understand why she's stopped blogging since it brought on so many life changes, but I still would love to be reading her words and hearing her stories regularly.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Bless You

I have a small confession to make. I'm a little bit obsessed with boxes of kleenex. I normally try to have 3 boxes in the house (at the computer, tv, and next to the bed). And at work I always have a box on my desk.

I normally buy Kleenex brand, because if I call them kleenex, it might as well be the real thing. And of course, I try to buy the cutest boxes. One of my all time favorites was a box that doubled as a coloring book. Here's the boxes I currently have in the house.

Seriously how cute is that last watermelon box? Yes, it is more expensive paying for the pretty boxes. But it makes me happy, so I do it. Really my only regret is that I didn't buy a second box to keep at work. It wouldn't even have been the exact same since they also had orange and grapefruit boxes.

Please tell me I'm not alone and that other people buy the cute boxes too! And do you call them kleenex or tissues?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting to Know You

Keely from Manland5, is bringing back her Getting to Know You Sundays. I used to participate last year before she stopped, so I'm happy to be joining again! 1. do you weigh yourself?
Not really. I pretty much refuse to have a scale in my house, because I know I would weigh myself everytime I'd walk by. I'm not saying I'm freaked out about my weigh, but I'd rather not obsessively track it

2. what's the nastiest thing you've ever eaten?
Mini octopus in Japan. I just remember you could pop the sucker of each tentacle. Yuck!

3. snail mail or email?
I use email almost always, except it can't replace the excitement of a real piece of actual mail.

4. do you have any irrational fears...what are they?
When I'm someplace high, like a balcony I was think just how easy it would be for me to decide to jump off. Or more what if I accidentally walked off the side of the building. It's sill because I'm smart enough not to do it. But even so I'd rather stay away from the edge.

5. do you play an instrument?
I played the flute in middle school, but I was pretty awful then, and I'm sure I'd be terrible now.

6. would you rather be bitten by a snake or attacked by a bear?
Both sound miserable, but I'm thinking attacked by a bear. At least it would all be over quicker in that scenario.

7. do you ever go braless in public?
Does it count if I wear a sweatshirt over my shirt so no one can really tell that I am?

8. today i am thankful for........................?
Is it awful that I want to say chocolate? How about instead then, the warm weather we're having. I just love the fact I've been able to regularly lay out in the backyard.