Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Pancake Post

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner
I posted this recipe before, but since Kelly's Korner is linking up with favorite breakfast recipes I figured it'd be a great time to share it again. The recipe before is for berry pancakes (blueberry is my standard), but it can easily be adapted. My second favorite, or really maybe first, would be chocolate chips, and I do them the same way by adding the chips to each individual pancake instead of mixed through the batter. Enjoy!
Blueberry Pancakes
from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book
Makes two dozen 4-inch pancakes (Although we'll normally half the recipe and that makes a perfect amount for the 2 of us)

2 eggs
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking power
3/4 teaspoon salt

Put butter and milk in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until butter has melted. (I normally just do this in the microwave.) Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are thoroughly blended. After the butter mixture cools slightly stir into eggs and mix well. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and stir with fork until well mixed.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir only until the dry ingredients are well moistened. Don't over mix.

Heat a griddle or skillet until a few drops of water dance on it, then lightly grease. Drop 2 or 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake onto griddle and cook until bubbles break on the surface. Turn the pancake over and cook another 30 seconds, or until the bottom is lightly browned. Serve the pancake hot.

To make Berry Pancakes: Sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of berries on top of each pancake after the pancake has cooked to the point where bubbles are breaking, gently pressing the berries down into the pancake with a spatula. Then flip and cook for about another 30 seconds.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Flowers in China

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
I haven't actually read that many books that take place in China, but everything I have read I've really enjoyed. I was assigned to read Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth in middle school, which I enjoyed so much I went on to read the sequels. A few months ago a read another of Lisa See's books, Shanghai Girls, which while only part of it takes place in China itself it is still about the Chinese culture and traditions. With this background I was expecting to enjoy this book as well, and I'm happy to say I wasn't let down.

Lily is a young girl being raised by a farmer in the remote Hunan county. At 7-years-old she is lucky enough to enter a contract of lifelong friendship, a laotong, with another young girl Snow Flower. She receives her first message from Snow Flower on a fan, which they then use to record the history of the friends the highs and lows of their lives both together and apart.

Simply put, I loved this book. Yes, I enjoy the characters and their hurdles and triumphs, but I think I enjoyed learning most about the various traditions and the culture of China in the mid-1800s. As you might expect foot binding in definitely present here, and I couldn't help but be fascinated at the process and all the details provided of just how it actually happened.

Another tradition the is almost central to the novel is nu shu, the language that Lily and Snow Flower use to write to one another. It is believed to be the only written language developed for women only as a way to write secretly amongst themselves without their husbands' knowledge.

I'm definitely glad I was able to pick this book up, and after reading (and enjoying) two of Lisa See's books I've definitely planning on reading the rest. And not only that, Im hoping to be able to see the movie version of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan when its released later this summer.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Will You Be My Maid

Bridesmaid that is! Although is anyone really wants to be my maid, I guess I'm willing to take you on. But moving forward. I really wanted to do something nice to ask my bridesmaids to be in the wedding, and didn't want to ask them over the phone. With 2 living in NYC, its difficult to see them in person, and really I knew I wanted to send a card. I just thought it would be the "most funnest" option. And I even knew the card I wanted to send.

I've seen them recreated before...

so I figured how hard could it be? Since it looked so easy, I sat down at the table with various papers (and without instructions) and was ready to go!
I did have a plan, and was going to make different dresses for each card that was each girl would have a personalized card. And with four I was planning on gluing the final girl to the card itself, except that would mean the top would be the back of a girl, and I wasn't sure how that would work. Nor could I get all the girls to fold up together nicely and look perfect on the front of the card. (Of course, now I'm looking at the card seeing the girls WEREN'T glued to the card itself. If I had only taken that route it might have worked.) But extremely frustrated, thus accounting for the lack of pictures, I moved on...
Each girl instead would have a single dress on the front of their card. Since I had fallen a little in love with this single-sleeved sparkly blue dress I thought that worked out.

The part I had been looking forward to the most was making each girl's hair look unique, and have no fear, I still got to carry out my vision.
I think I spent 2 hours along on the first card, but thankfully once I knew what I was doing I was able to get the final 3 done in about 30 minutes. All in all I'm glad I did it, and from what I've heard my girls definitely appreciated the effort. And just for fun, here's one more for your viewing pleasure.
Did you do anything special when asking your bridesmaids to stand for you? And if so, hopefully you were able to carryout your initial vision better than me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bad Cars

Cars 2
First I wanted to say that I just love all the posters for the movie, and wanted to pick my favorite one. But in a way, that ties into one thing I loved which was seeing all of these different locations as cars, the car sumo wrestlers in Japan, the Queen as a car in front of Buckingham Palace, and of course the popemobile in Italy. You could tell they had so much fun with all the little details throughout, and it was just as fun noticing them. Although I'm sure I barely noticed half, it's definitely the type of movie (similar to a ride at Disneyland) where you notice new things each time you see it.

But to the movie itself. I have heard a big complaint about this movie is that it's more about Mater than Lighting McQueen. Except if you saw the preview I can't really see how that's a surprise. Overall I think it's a really cute movie, and if it was made by anyone else it would be outstanding. I do think that because its a Pixar movie people had higher expectations for it, and out of the Pixar movies it probably is one of the worst. Not that it makes it bad, but more that Pixar has put out some great films.

Bad Teacher
This one was actually a bit of a surprise. The previews made it look absolutely hysterical, and while it was, it wasn't the movie I expected it to see. To start off with there wasn't much of a plot. The previews made it seem as if the central plotline was going to be Cameron Diaz's seduction of Justin Timberlake, and while yes, that was there, I wouldn't call it the central plot.

The surprise of the movie for me was Jason Segel. I've liked him before at least in general, but here he had a great number of one-liners. He definitely wasn't the character I expected him to be, and actually neither was Justin Timberlake. It is a fun movie, and I am glad I saw it, just looking back I'm surprised by exactly how the movie played out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Backstreet's Back

This past Friday I got to see my first boyfriend Nick Carter. (What? There's nothing right with that?) Although it technically wasn't just him but the rest of the Backstreet Boys, as well as the New Kids. (NKOTBSB baby!) We drove out to Lafayette, and thankfully left early to avoid traffic. (We saw 3 accidents on the way, not to mention the fire on the side of the road.) After spending $70 on a (single one) t-shit and a (again single one) program, we were off to our seats to enjoy our drinks. I went to take a photo of my strawberry daiquiri to document it for the blog except...
The flash on my camera was dead! I had made sure the camera itself was charged, and while I had noticed my flash acting up lately I hadn't really thought about it. But here I was with a camera without a flash. I started having flashbacks to when I saw Nick Carter's solo tour (the last time I actually saw a BSB member in concert), when I guiltily confessed my camera to the security guard and he took the battery out. Except this time I was prepared, and was still able to use my cell phone...
And my flip video camera.
Except we were one the floor, and by the the middle of the show we started to get comfortable to run up to the stage when they were close. And from a certain distance, with all the lights you don't really need a flash.
Jordan & Joey
Although in all of the great photos I took I didn't get a single good one of Nick, which could have made for a slightly disappointing night except...

Right after I took this photo
Howie touched my hand!!! So that definitely completed my night.

Yes, I realized I sound like such a teeny, but it was so much fun! And, now ending this point the best way possible, with a final bow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (14)

Somewhat unexpectedly I have a great In My Mailbox to share this week! For those who are new, it's a weekly link-in hosted by The Story Siren to share the books we've picked up whether by mail, by bookstore, through a friend, or really any other way you can think of. So now, let's get started!

The first three books I actually picked up at work. Someone had left out a pretty big stack of books that they were looking to get rid of. Some of these books I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise, but if they're books someone wants to get rid of I'm more than game.
Tan Lines by Katherine Applegate
This is the type of book I used to read all the type over the summer back in high school. It looks like it's the second in series, but I have a feeling based on the type of book it is, I won't be missing too much if I read this one first.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
This is another YA book that looks cute. I believe it's a relationship story, and alternating chapters are told from the girl's & guy's perspective.

How to Deal by Sarah Dessen
This one is actually a 2-in-1. It contains Someone Like You and That Summer, both of which inspired the movie staring Mandy Moore. It's almost ironic that I just finished That Summer a few days before I found this (review will be up later this week). I wasn't actually a huge fan of it, but since I've heard so many great things about Sarah Dessen, hopefully Someone Like You will change my mind.

Borrowed from a Friend
What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
The friend that lent this to me is a huge fan of it. It is another YA book, and at first glance it isn't interesting because while the book is a collection of poems, each one comes together to tell a complete story.

From Goodreads
The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
The only YA book today. The one is about a woman who has an affair, and the day it ends, her ex-affair-ee's wife is found day. It looks to be a chick-lit mixed with a bit of mystery and hopefully a good summer read.

Did you pick up anything unexpectedly this week too? Please let me know, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, June 24, 2011

God Save the Queen

The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross
I have read biographies of English monarch before, except only those during the Middle Ages or Renaissance. And while not non-fiction, I have read about Queen Victoria, who until now, was the most modern British monarch I'd read about. The Queen Mother is interesting because she was born in 1900, what I consider history, but lived until 2002, what I, instead, consider modern times. Because of her long life, the book reads not only a a history of her life, but also of the 20th century itself.

It was almost fascinating to me reading how the times changed throughout the book. For example in the early years of the future King & Queen's marriage (then the Duke & Duchess of York), they go on a safari to Africa. Except this was in the 1920s. In there's a quote from the future King George VI that's almost heartbreaking about the almost extinct white rhino in which he explains, "only three or four are allowed to be shot a year as they are becoming scare. I did not want to shoot one on hearing this, but they wanted me to get one." And so of course the Duke does, to add another kill to his collection.

On a similar vein it mentions a 6 month trip the Duke & Duchess took to Australia. Not necessarily heartbreaking, except when you consider that then Princess Elizabeth hadn't even reached her 1st birthday, and she stayed in England all 6 months. I'm not saying there's aren't still wealthy who travel the world without their children, but this was part of the reason Diana was noted as being different from the monarchy. Of coarse in the 1930s traveling from England to Australia meant a long sea voyage instead of the (comparatively) quick plane ride today.

I also loved some of the details the remain quite relevant today especially considering the recent royal wedding. When Elizabeth Bowes Lyon married the Duke of York, it was the first time an English prince had married someone who wasn't already royal. (Although she was a Lady, unlike Kate who as we've heard is a "mere commoner.") That marriage set the precedent for who would pay for the wedding (the monarchy not the parents of the bride), and her royal title (Her Royal Highness the Duchess, but still considered a princess).

My only complaint was number of people mention, but more importantly how they were mentioned. I understand that in 100 plus years you're going to interact with a lot of people. But it almost felt like people were mentioned just so they could claim to be in the biography. And more than that every time someone new was mentioned there was a footnote at the bottom of the page mentioning who the married, how they died, and what they did. Don't get me wrong I understand why that information is there, but part of me would have rather had in with the footnotes at the end of the book instead of the bottom of the page.

Even with this minor complaint I still really enjoyed the book. I had been introduced to the Queen Mother in The King's Speech, but besides that I knew little about her. After getting this look into the modern monarchy it only makes me want to learn more. I have a feeling I'll definitely be reading a few more books on the modern English monarchy in the months to come.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Last Mitzvah

So this isn't really about the last mitzvah, but instead it's my last post about how I'm using my bat mitzvah (and other b'nai mitzvahs) to help inspire the wedding. Except this one's a little different, because instead it's about those details that don't quite translate as well.

Do you have any idea how many of these I picked up from various parties? Not only the shows but guitars and saxophones as well. Yes, they're fun at 13. But at a wedding, well it doesn't quite work for me.

So maybe this one could actually happen. Except I was never that great at limbo. If I was the best at any b'nai mitzvah game it would have to be hula hoop. Although I still remember leaving the dance floor in tears after loosing at least one time. But my all time favorite game is called Pepsi/7-Up and involves running across in the dance floor and either kneeling or sitting on your partner's knee. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't quite work in a wedding dress, but I'd love to see someone try!

Yes, there are weddings with themes, but not quite like the all encompassing themes are bar & bat mitzvah. To name a few I've been to sports themes, casinos, Hollywood (several times with this one), NYC, the beach, and I'm sure quite a few others. And I'm sure you'll want to know, my theme was actually the Renaissance. Not that surprising when you look at the books I still enjoy reading, but not your typical bat mitzvah theme.

source via Everwood
Candle Lighting Ceremonies
I didn't actually do this at my bat mitzvah, but looking back part of me wishes I had. It's normally done at the actually reception and it's a way of honoring friends and family. For each candle the b'nai mitivah calls up a person (or group of people) asking them to light a candle. Each time there's normally some type of intro explaining why the person is important and what the mean to the bat mitzvah girl. It is also used often in memory of an individual. In episode of Everwood shown above, Delia lights her last candle in memory of her mother. While I've never heard of this tradition done at a wedding, I do think understand the right circumstances it could translate well.

Do you think I've picked well as to aspects that might not work at weddings? Or are you just dying to wear blow-up shoes at your wedding reception?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starting Over in Paris

Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz
Living in Paris 3 years after her husband's death in car accident Annie is a little undecided what to do with her life. Unsure how she'll continue to pay for her house she decides to take out an advertisement in American newspapers advertising a way to start over in Paris. Lola is a Beverly Hills housewife who with her two children escapes her aggressive husband and Althea is a young girl who feels invisible in her life, both of them answer the ad and move halfway across the world in hope a new life in Paris.

In a way it's hard for me to write this review, because while overall I did enjoy the book, I didn't quite love it either. I love the premise of starting over in Paris, and while I can't see myself deciding to move to Paris overnight, the situations presented all seemed to make sense.

I really enjoy Lola's character, but never seemed to quite get Althea. Although I think that's partially the point, that no one else has been able to get her, so as a reader I shouldn't necessarily be able to either. Overall I liked Annie as well and did like seeing her change throughout, but her character seemed to go through so many highs and lows. It was like a roller coaster being around her, and often time I'd get a little frustrated with how over the top she could be.

I think my biggest complaint is that I wanted to feel Paris more. While Paris is definitely there in someways it feel more like studying abroad and choosing to live in the dorms with other Americans instead of with a host family that's actually French. While there are Frenchmen who show up in the novel, I have to wonder how it would read instead if one of the other girls was French.

I definitely am glad I read the book, and would be more than willing to read anything else by this author. I only wish I had been able to get a little more lost in the story.


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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And the Painted Ponies Go Up & Down

Now that we've been in our house for over a year, it means I at least know what to expect from out backyard. Last year it was a bit of a surprise discovering all the fruit trees. This year I can know that the fruit's on its way even before I can see it. Although I can see it at this point, it's not ready to eat, but soon I know it will be. Want to see?
Baby Satsumas
Baby lemons
And my favorite baby figs.
Peach Tree
Unfortunately this peach trees hasn't shown any peaches this year. Even last year it only grew 2 peaches, and those were eaten by animals before they were ever ripe. So hopefully it will start producing fruit so we can have our first home grown peaches. Because after all, doesn't food always taste better when you're able to eat it straight of the tree?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Let's Get Green

Green Lantern
For me, the high points of the movie have to be Ryan Renolds and Blake Lively. That isn't to say it's a bad movie, but I wouldn't also say it's amazing. Yes the special effects are great. Yes, the other alien green lanterns look cool. But the movie felt long, and I don't have a huge desire to ever watch it again. Don't get me wrong, if they make a sequel I'd still go see it. But if you're looking to go see a superhero movie right now, you could probably do better with Thor or even X-Men.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (13)

Almost unfortunately I'm back participating in The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. Why unfortunately? Well, because I really didn't need to pick these up. I have more than enough books at the house TBR that I could probably go months without needing to buy a new book. But alas I gave in, at least to books I'd been planning on purchasing for a while, so I do know if I hadn't bought these now, I would have bought them later.
In My Mailbox
Light on Lucrezia by Jean Plaidy
A few months ago I read the first book of Plaidy's Borgais series. This is the second and final book of the series, so at least I don't have any more books in this particular series to read. Although they are definitely some other Plaidy books I still want to book up. I know I've said it again & again, but if you enjoy historical fiction and you haven't read anything by Jean Plaidy, you are missing out.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
I know there are going to be people out there amazed I've waited so long to buy this book. I know once I start and I'm going to devour it and wonder just how I waited so long. And yes, I did pick up the version with Jace's letter to Clary.

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
I've been planning on picking this one up almost forever. It was just released in paperback, so I figured it would be a great time to pick it. I have read quite a bit on the War of the Roses, but nothing specifically on Margaret Beaufort, so I'm excited to finally read this one as well.

Now at least you can understand the reasons I gave into temptation. Hopefully (or hopefully not!) you were able to avoid it as well this week. Either way, let me know what landed in your mailbox this week.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Help Me Out

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This is a somewhat difficult book to write about partly because so much has already been written on it, but also people it deals with a controversial subject matter. In case you've been in hiding the past year, it's about a white woman in Jackson, Mississippi who decides to interview the black ladies maids, aka the help, and write a story about what their lives are like.

It's an interesting feeling reading the book, knowing so much to expect and yet not everything. I haven't seen the movie yet, but have seen the previews, and even just that hit all the vital scenes of the book. Also since I've seen how the characters are going to be portrayed in the movie, I can't help but picture them that way in my mind while reading.

I was a little surprised by how young the central characters are in the book. I was expecting to read about middle aged woman but all of the matriarchs of the book are only in their mid-twenties or so. It feels odd to be reading about a this high society wife with 2 or 3 children and then realize she's the same age as me! It's definitely a change of society, for example it's mentioned several times how many girls drop out of college as soon as their married since that was the real reason they went their in the first time.

I was also surprised how much I loved some of the characters. My favorite had to be Celia Foote and her story, someone who I hadn't heard about in all the casting news, and who I believe is absent from the trailer. And the little Mae Mobley sounds absolutely adorable and I can't wait to see her in the film.

I realize there is also quite a bit of controversy surrounding the book, and given it's subject it's not too surprising. I think the big question mark on the book is how accurate is a book that's supposed to show the point of view of African-American women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s if it's written by a white women. That's not really a question I'm qualified to answer, but I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts.

But to finish things up, I loved the book and once I started I had to know how everything was going to end up. I finished it in only a few days and now I'm just eagerly anticipating the movie!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frozen Thursday

Anyone around here remember my Frozen Thursdays? It's been about a year since I posted one and even longer since I posted them regularly. (So if you do remember them, props to you!) Back then I used to each frozen meals quite a bit (I have cut back since them, which is part of the reason why they aren't here anymore), and would post reviews so I could remember which ones I wasn't a big fan of and which ones to buy again. When I started doing it the blogger disclosure policies hadn't really been in force. But all of them (including this one) were of my own doing and no one ever contacted me asked me to review their product or supplied one for free. With that said let's have a little flashback
Kashi Spicy Black Bean Enchilada
Kashi Spicy Black Bean Enchilada
I was really excited to find since I believe I've had every other Kashi meal. I'm normally a little hesitant which enchiladas for fear they'll be too cheesy for me, but based on the picture on the box I figured I'd be safe. And thankfully, it wound up being the right decision.

To start with it definitely lives up to the spicy part of it's name. The pilaf was good, except that only thing I could really taste in it was the spice. The star of the meal was by far the actual enchilada. It honestly was really good. Inside the tortilla are black beans, roasted red peppers, roasted corn, spinach, and what I think made it all come together, red skinned potatoes.

It was really enjoyable and I would easily be willing to try this again. Although I think I'd enjoy it better if there were two enchiladas instead of the pilaf on the side.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

I don't normally participate in Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday, but this is a book I'm so excited for I can't help but share!
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
I know I'm not the only one waiting because it feels like every few days someone stumbles on my blog searching for "The Tea Rose Trilogy Book 3." Although they must be disappointed to find instead my reviews of book 1 (The Tea Rose) and book 2 (The Winter Rose) Thankfully we don't have to wait too much longer because it'll be out in only 2 short months!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let's Get Super

Super 8
Honestly the movie is a lot like what you'd expect. It's almost a perfect mix between E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The kids are great in the movie. And overall it's a lot of fun. We tend not to see a lot of scary movies, but in a way this was a scary movie for me with the number of suspenseful things.

My one semi-complaint is that's there's a pretty major scene in the previews that's not in the movie. In fact I'm pretty sure it was put in the previews just to throw people off. I understand why they did it since it seems like sometime so much is revealed in the previews that it feels like you've seen the whole movie. But I'm not completely sure how I feel about purposely misleading the viewer to gain a sense of surprise.

But even so it's a fun movie, and it has been a while since there's been an movie like this. No, it doesn't come off as completely original, but I'm sure if I was a kid and this was my first time seeing this type of movie, I would have fallen deeply in love.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back to the Mitzvah

Last week I talked about how I was drawing inspiration from my bat mitzvah as well as other b'nai mitzvahs I've been to for the wedding. Except I never quite got into specifics. So in case you wanted to know what exactly inspiration I'm taking I figured I'd help you out!

The Horah
In my opinion this is the most obvious one. I've done the horah so many times I could probably do it in my sleep. And going up on the chairs? That is definitely getting done. I remember having a blast up there as a 13-year-old, but have a feeling now it'll be a little scarier. And holding onto the chair one-handed like Mrs. Hermit Crab is doing up there? Well that just scares me, but even so I'm looking forward to it.

Challah & Hamotzi
While we didn't start off the dinner at my bat mitzvah with a big over sized challah we did lead everyone in hamotzi (basically a blessing over the meal). I would love to be able to have a huge oversize challah to start of the night, but even if that doesn't happen would still like to lead hamotzi over the meal.

Doing the Time Warp
Not what you were expecting? Now I've never actually seen Rocky Horror Picture show. But growing up the time warp was a b'nai mitzvah circuit staple. I think it was played at almost every one. And when it wasn't, I definitely noticed. I know the words, I know the dance moves, and I hate to say but I'm looking forward to it.

Father/Daughter Dance
Yes, they do them at b'nai mitzvahs too. I think it would be cute to dance to the same song my dad and I danced to then, except I have no idea what it was. Although I do remember that at my brother's bar mitzvah I made sure he and my mom danced to Backstreet Boys' "The Perfect Fan." I'd love to use that except for the fact it says, "Mom you always were the perfect fan," and I don't really believe the boy would be willing to dance to a BSB song.

These are just a few, of the hopefully many, ways I'm hoping to use my memories of my bat mitzvah to inspire our wedding. If you've ever been to a bar or bat mitzvah, what other traditions to you think would transfer well to a wedding?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox (12)

A few weeks ago my IMM was filled with first foray into goodreads' early reader program. I wound up winning 5 books that week, although sadly only 4 of them actually made it to my house. But since then I hadn't won anything else. I thought it was just beginners luck and goodreads must have know I was new. They were letting me win so I would keep playing, but this past week the curse was broken! I was so excited because not only did I start winning again, I was winning books I was especially excited to read. Want to see?
In My Mailbox
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
A few months ago I read another one of Lisa See's books, Shanghai Girls. I really enjoyed the book and I've been meaning to read more by her, so I was delighted to be given the chance. This book has been made into a movie (it comes out later this summer) so hopefully I'll have the book read in time to see the movie in theaters.

A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Call it a crime, but I've never read Pride & Prejudice, or anything else by Jane Austen for that matter. I do plan on eventually tackling them though, so have no fear for my soul. I have at least seen the movies and am familiar with the basic stories. There's been tons of books written as almost "companion" books to Jane Austen's works, and I always thought it'd be fun to try one out. I've never known where to start though, but it looks like at least this decision has been made for me.

What's in your mailbox this week? And if you haven't already, be sure to heard over to The Story Siren to play along!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ode to Joy

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
After beating breast cancer Kate invites 5 of her closest friends over for a celebratory dinner. While there they discover that Kate's daughter wants the two of them to go white-water rafting together. All of her friends insist that she must do it, and she agrees with the caveat the each must do something that scares them. Not only that, but since they chose rafting for Kate, she gets to choose each of their adventures.

In a way the book reads like a short story collection, each chapter is one of the women conquering their goals. In a way each could stand on their own, but taken together the overall journey makes a greater impact. It's so interesting to discover what each one must do, but even more intriguing are the reasons behind each one. Some of them seem an obvious choice like getting a tattoo, but others like baking bread, are a bit unexpected.

Each tale starts from the beginning of the storytellers journey, which means we live through the same time frame over and over again. Because it doesn't jump back and forth between stories, I was never sure how to match the stories up together. In some ways it might have been nice to have a clearer master timeline in my mind so there would be less confusion, but I think the emotional impact of each character meeting her goal throughout the book means more than if all 6 were completed in the books last few pages.

It is a quick read, and while I wouldn't call it light, and I do think it's a great summer book to read by the side of the pool.


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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Argument Against E-Readers

Yes, it's a strong title to start with, and don't get me wrong I understand the appeal of e-readers; I know how much of a pain it is to drag a huge book around with you. I understand the convenience of going on a vacation and only needing to pack your reading instead of pounds of books. I can't even say I'll never buy one, because I understand that someday it's going to become impossible to not have one. But even so they make me sad because of what I know they're going to do to the book industry.
Chair and Bookshelves
Just look at what's already happened to the music industry with digital music. No it hasn't gone away, but it's definitely changed. Yes, you can still choose to not buy digital music, but stores dedicated to cds are gone. You can still buy them at places like Wal-Mart, Target, or even bookstores, but there's not enough money there to support an entire store. And it's gotten to the point where some cds (like the new Nick Carter one I want) are only released electronically instead of an actual hard copy.

These changes are already starting to happen in the book industry. Borders has gone bankrupt, and how long do you think it will really be before dedicated bookstores actually disapear? As it is the bookstores have huge sections for board games and toys. There will probably still be smaller more indie stores (like Ameoba Records is in L.A.), but giant stores like Borders and Barnes & Nobles will probably disappear in the next decade or so.

I can see the advances that e-books will bring. Imagine going to school without an actual textbook. You're required to read on your reader (and teachers will actually know if you've gone through each digital page). Not only that but homework and tests can be completed on your reader as well. I would have to guess this is the experience my future children will have.

Then there's the fact that with an e-reader (and wifi) you can download any book you want instantaneously. Not to mention it's cheaper for the publishers not to have to print, and it's cheaper for the reader as well.

But with the positives, I love books too much to happily make the change. I love reading a book, love looking at the cover, having it in my own hands, being able to display it on a shelf to show it off to the world, and the smell even. I love that I can go back and read a book whenever I want (assuming I don't lose it), instead of having to worry it my e-reader will fail and lose my entire collection or if a publisher recalls all copies of an electronic book.

As I started out saying, I know e-readers are the future and I know that someday I will own one. But that doesn't mean I can't drag my feet on the way.

Do you have an e-reader? Why or why not? And what are your thoughts on the future of actual books?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Other Mitzvah

I know I'm in the middle of planning my wedding, but I haven't actually been to many weddings. (Only 6 if I'm counting right.) But what I have been to are tons of B'nai Mitzvahs. How many you ask? Well there were about 30 members of my Hebrew School class and we we required to invite everyone. Plus I had several friends at different temples whose celebrations I went to. Not to mentions those for family members. If I had to guess it's at least around 50, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number is actually closer to 100.
At Zack's Bar Mitzvah
With my maid of honor at her younger brother's bar mitzvah
With that said is it really any surprise so much of my inspiration is coming from B'nai Mitzvahs instead of actual weddings. To start with I loved my Bat Mitzvah. Of course I know the real reason it occurred for for the ceremony (same with the wedding) but the parts that stand out in my memory is the actual reception.
Bat Mitzvah
From my Bat Mitzvah
Scan of a photo taken by Jessie Butler Photography
I remember slow dancing on the dance floor with my crush at the time, dance with my one of my now bridesmaids and screaming out the lyrics to "MmmBob" by Hanson. I remember feeling the need to divide my time and going from group to group of friends so I had time to say hi to everyone. I know we had a pasta buffet, but is it really a surprise that I don't remember eating that night? I'm sure I did, but as I'm sure we've heard how much do you really eat at your own reception.
At Josh's Bar Mitzvah
Again with my maid of honor at my brother's bar mitzvah
I do realize that not all aspects of my bat mitzvah are going to translate into a wedding. But over the next few weeks I hope to go over some aspects that will definitely make another appearance, and others that might not quite work at a wedding.

Are you taking any inspiration for your wedding from somewhere most people wouldn't consider to be traditional?