Saturday, March 31, 2012

From Chicago to Colorado

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton
William was trying to rescue his own mother by stabbing his abusive father in the chest. Instead he's sent to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory at age 13, where life completely changes. There's is a lot more a could say about the plot of the book, but at this point it's hard for me to articulate it, and I think I'd need a few more days of reflection to better summarize it.

To be honest I wasn't looking forward to reading this book. I actually won it in a goodreads giveaway last September, which means I had it for over half a year before picking it up. But I'm glad I finally did because it's a story that leaves an impression.

The majority of the novel takes place when William is 13, but in no way would I classify it as a young adult novel. There is a lot of violence in the book between the boys at the reformatory, as well as from the guards in charge of the boys, and there's several scenes that I can't see how I'll forget. But it is a story that leaves an impression, and that says with once.

More than that once I got into it I literally had to force myself to stop reading. I had expected it would be a slow read, since it isn't the type of book I normally pick up, but wound up finishing the entire thing in less than 24 hours.

This isn't a book that I'd recommend for a light read. But if you're looking for something that you won't forget, that makes you feel and get invested with the character you meet, this would be a good option.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Before the Sex

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
As soon as I heard about this book I knew I HAD to read it. After all it combined two of my favorite things Sex and the City (I've watched ever single episode, most multiple times) and YA books. But I think with such high expectations it shouldn't be much of a surprise that it didn't live up to them. It's actually even less of a surpsrise knowing the last Bushnell book I read (OneFifth Avenue), I wasn't a huge fan of either.

But even though the book didn't live up to epectations, there were parts I enjoyed. In fact if this was just a normal YA book I probably would have really enjoyed it. My biggest complaint with it was the Carrie's voice didn't match what I've come to expect from the TV show. Of course, I realize Bushnell wasn't involved in the day-to-day of the show. And Carrie as a teenager is different from 30-year-old Carrie. But there were moments that just didn't seem right, like when Carrie makes coq au vin and mentions making Julie Child recipes every week, compared to the Carrie on the show who uses her oven to store clothes.

Even with the complaints, it was interesting to see where Carrie came from, and some parts you could see the 30-something Carrie coming through. And I'm still hoping to pick up the sequel to this, as well as tuning into the tv series in the fall.


Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not So Fast

Remember a few months ago when I posted about how we found a rabbi to marry us, and I was surprised because I was expecting it to be a lot harder than it was? Well turns out I was, unfortunately right.

About I month after I talked to the rabbi, he left me a voicemail. Once I was able to get back in touch with him he let me know that he now had a personal conflict with our wedding date. He said he tried to change it, but wasn't able to get out of it, which meant he would no longer be able to marry us. But not to worry, because he had the name of another rabbi that we could contact.

We contacted rabbi #2, and had a nice long phone call with him and everything seemed to be working out just fine. But at the end of the phone call he brought up the memoriam, which is basically the money involved. He was very clear and told us exactly what he would expect, except what he asked for was far above what I would have ever expected and didn't really fit into our budget.

We then contacted a third rabbi who led another local temple. He did seem to confirm that the price we were told by rabbi #2 was high, but that he'd had other couples call him with similar stories. We met with him and by the end of our meeting he seemed to have concerns with the fact that the boy was Catholic. He seemed to say at the meeting's end that he would be in contact, except we never heard back from him.

I also wound up contacting an online rabbi out of Texas, but he was already booked for our date.

I have been postponing writing this post in hopes that when I finally did, I would have a solution to share. Except while we still have several leads and ideas, we don't officially have anyone to marry us. It is a little disappointing to think he thought this was taken care of several months ago, and now with less than 6 months till the wedding it still isn't finalized.

Did you have any trouble booking a rabbi or officiant for your wedding? Or when planning, did you have something that you thought had been confirmed, instead wind up falling apart?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

White on Rice... err Teeth

With just under 6 months to the wedding I've broken out my box of Crest whitestrips.
I used to do them fairly regularly back in high school, but until last fall hadn't used them (which is when if you remember, my maid of honor gifted me with a bunch of beauty supplies.) It is kind of funny to see how they've changed since . The size has changed slightly, you don't have to open separate tabs for the upper and lower teeth, you use one for 30 minutes instead of 2 each for 15. Small changes, yes, but things I still remember 10 years later.

You're only supposed to use them every six months, and if I had planned better I would have adhered to that rule. As it is I did them last in October, I'm doing them now, and I'll probably do them just before the wedding as well. So 3 times within 11 months doesn't sound to bad right?

I'm thinking I'll probably schedule a teeth cleaning in May or June, which would be a few months before the wedding. Part of me thinks it might be nice to schedule a cleaning closer to the wedding, but I have nightmare remembering how Mrs. Cloud did that and needed a root canal a week before her wedding! In my mind possibly having less than super clean teeth is better than needed an emergency dental procedure just before getting married. Obviously, it could still happen, but hopefully this way it would get discovered sooner rather than later.

If you're in the midst of planning your wedding have you been thinking of whitening your teeth? And would you take the risk of having a teeth cleaning right before your wedding?

No, this post is not sponsored by Crest. I purchased my whitestrips with my own money and choose to write about it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Three Rings for the Elven Kings

So don't let the title fool you, I'm not really Lord of the Rings obsessed, but I figured it was a fitting title for this posts about, what else, but rings.
When it came to my wedding ring I knew I wanted something simple. I didn't want diamonds on it, instead I would rather have the engagement ring have the only diamonds. I'm not completely sure why this is what I wanted, but I think it's because it's how I traditional think of a wedding ring. Yes, I think diamonds on rings are pretty, but it doesn't feel like a wedding ring to me. I guess I just equate the diamonds with an engagement ring.
Coincidentally, while this is 100% what I wanted, it's actuall meets the requirements for traditional Jewish wedding ring. In order to a ring to be able to be used in a Jewish wedding, it needs to be unbroken by stones or cutouts. So while it's what I want it, it also works religiously for me as well.
The boy also had a pretty strong opinion on what he wanted, and that was a tungsten carbide ring. He wanted something that would stand up to whatever he put it through and not end up destroyed.
So on a recent Saturday, the boy and I headed to the mall to the same jewelry store where he purchased my engagement ring. Since we both knew exactly what we wanted, there wasn't really any deliberation, and we were out of the store within 20 minutes or so.
Now don't get me wrong, the ring is still exactly what I wanted, except the fact that we were in and out of the store so quickly makes me second guess it. After all shouldn't this decision and the purchase of our wedding rings take longer than that? I know it's completely ridiculous since I had my decision already made, and we'd even looked at wedding rings once before, but I guess I wanted a little more fanfare with it all?

Did you have an easy time selecting wedding rings? Or did you wind up second guessing your decision at all?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Obviously, the answer is yes, I saw this over the weekend. In fact, I actually wound up seeing it twice, once with a group of friends and once with the boy, and it was just as good on the second viewing.

There isn't a lot to say that hasn't already been said, but of course I loved it. I thought all the actors were wonderful and I thought the contrast between the districts and the capital really made a statement. Not necessarily related to the movie itself but I loved all the previews. (I even saw different previews each time!) Loved the preview for Breaking Dawn but even more was so surprised to see a preview for The Host.

Basically though if you haven't seen the movie, or read the book, you really should.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (36)

I'm back again this week to share the books I've recently acquired with The Story Siren's In My Mailbox! I only have one book this week, but it's one I'm really excited about.
From Goodreads
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
I'm one of the seemingly few people out there who have never read a Jodi Picoult book, which is why I'm so excited to read this. I actually won this in a giveaway almost forever ago, and had given up the possibility I'd would ever be receiving it. I had actually sent a message to the host of the giveaway, but never heard anything back. Or didn't hear anything until the book should up in my mailbox about a month after I sent a message wondering what had happened. But either way it's hear now, and I can't wait to read it!

Have you ever been told you've won a giveaway or will be receiving a book, only to have nothing arrive in the mail? And assuming that isn't the case this week, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Home on the Range

Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble
Eden's and Clay's marriage falls apart after their baby girl is kidnapped. But 5 years later Clay surprises Eden to show up out of nowhere to tell her their daughter is still alive, and he thinks he knows where she is. But in order to get her back they have to pose as a happily married couple to work at a ranch for rescued foster children and hopefully discover which of the girls attending is acually their daughter.

To be honest, this isn't the type of book that I normally pick up. But the basic premise intrigued me, and I figured it was something worth requesting. There were still aspects of the book I wasn't a huge fan of, but even so I couldn't put it down and had to know how it would end.

Technically this is the 4th book in the Lonestar Angel series, and I was a little cautious since I hadn't read any of the others. But this novel works fine standalone. Looking at the summaries of the other books, I don't believe Eden and Clay are mentioned previously, but there look to be a few cameos of characters from the earlier books.

This book is a Christain Romance, which I started out by saying is out of my comfort zone. I wasn't a huge fan of all the religious themes, but I guess that's to be expected. And while parts were a little cheesy I still enjoyed it.

What I loved most about this book was the mystery. I couldn't wait to figure out which girl was their daughter, and the reason behind the kidnapped. While I may just be naive, I had no idea what to expect and Coble kept me guessing the whole time.

This book was definitely a surprise for me, and while I won't be running it to pick up something similar, I would still be more than willing (and even a little bit excited) to read something else from Coble.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Checking it Twice

There was something else I did on our trip to Nashville this past weekend that I didn't mention before. But to back up, I've pretty much been avoiding any type of formal wedding checklist. Yes, I've still be doing things for the wedding, but more things that I know I have to do instead of going through items one by one. I've actually been a little scared to look at one now, because I feel like I'm SOOO far behind on everything.

But back to the original point, I decided to bring my wedding planning book (The Knot's Complete Guide to Weddings if you're curious) on the trip. I figured without the distraction of the internet I would actually sit down and see just how far behind I was.

And the surprising realization was, I'm not nearly as far behind as I thought! I was able to check off everything on my 12-plus months list. On the 9 to 11 month list, there were only 3 items I couldn't check off. And on the 6 to 8 months list there were only 4 items (although some of them were in progress). And with over 5 months to go, there were even a few items on the 3 to 4 months list I could check off.

So what are the offending unchecked boxes? Well there's selecting & ordering bridesmaids' dresses, which is in progress. There's planning the honeymoon, which deserves a post of its own. There's ordering invitations, which really NEEDS to be the next item on my to-do list. As well as a few other items, which again I hope to be writing about soon.

Basically the moral of the story is, it's not nearly as bad as I thought. Now I probably can't go another month or two completely avoiding my to-do list. In fact, I'm thinking I should come up with a custom electronic to-do list, that's easier for me to reference and less likely to avoid. But it wound up being a nice surprise to see I'm not nearly as far behind as I though.

Are you a person that's always checking your to-do lists, or do you avoid them to not feel as overwhelmed? And assuming you're planning a wedding, have you found you're not nearly as far behind as you expected to be?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yumminess in Nashville

If you're a long time reader you may have noticed something conspicuously absent from yesterday's recap of Nashville. (At least minus a piece of divinity I snacked on poolside.) And since that pretty much gave it away, yes I'm talking about the food. I know you want to see pictures!
Meatloaf Sandwich
The first night at the hotel we stopped at Jack Daniel's for dinner, where I had a meatloaf sandwich with potato salad, coleslaw, and a side of pickles. It was some of the better meatloaf I've had and tasted more bbq-y than you'd normally expect.
Lemon Blueberry Pancakes
For breakfast the next morning we went to Cascade's American Cafe, where I had lemon blueberry pancakes with sausage. Such a great idea, and next time I make blueberry pancakes, I'm thinking I might be adding a little lemon to the mix.
Brisket Sandwiches & Caesar Salad
Lunch with Sarah was at the Opry Backstage Grill. I had brisket sliders (which were delicious!) and a Caesar salad.
Cabbage Salad
Dinner that night was somehow back at Jack Daniel's. (Yes, I'm still bitter about this especially since there were SO MANY other restaurants at the hotel we never got to try.) This was also probably my least favorite meal of the trip. It was a cabbage salad, but it was basically just their coleslaw with apples and walnuts on top.
Peacan Pie
But to drown my sorrows, I went with a slice of pecan pie for dessert. And that scoop of "ice cream"? Turns out it's actually a giant scoop of whipped cream, which worked out perfectly for me.
Pumpkin Spice Latte & Chocolate Croissant
Breakfast the following morning was a simple chocolate croissant with a pumpkin spice latter from Cocoa Bean.
Crab Bisque
And for the last meal of the trip it was back to Cascade's American grill for lunch, for what wound up being my favorite meal of the trip. I started with a bowl of crab bisque.
Sweet Potato Ravioli
For my main dish I had sweet potato ravioli with a brown butter sauce and a shaved fennel salad. This was by far my favorite dish of the trip, and I could have easily eaten several more plates of it.

Now that I've hopefully made you hungry, which of these dishes would you most want to try?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weekend in Music City

This past weekend the boy was attending a conference in Nashville so I decided to tag along.
Welcome to Tennessee
Yes, this is from the Tennessee welcome center, which does mean we drove to Tennessee. Driving about 10 hours each way in a weekend isn't something I'd recommend, but we made it.
We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland hotel, which I've been describing as mix of Disneyland and a Vegas casino. (It's always where the Grand Ole Opry is currently held.) The view above is the main hotel lobby, which looks amazing by itself, but even more so when you realize that the other half of the room has these two waterfalls.
Since the boy was busy, I was off on my own most of the trip. And part of me is a little embarrassed to admit I didn't do much sightseeing in Nashville itself. But what did I do?
Of course I explored the hotel. This is in the Delta section of the hotel which is where our room was and is made to look like Mississippi river. Yes, that is a boat which you could pay to ride around this lobby. And here's another picture which better gives you the Southern/Mississippi River type feel with a Plantation replica.
I layed out at the pool.
Which was a first for 2012! Thankfully we had pretty awesome weather while we were here.
I read a ton! This is 2 of the 3 magazines I brought all of which I finished. I also finished both Wither and Fever (pictured here - reviews to come!) and also started a third book.
Blogger Meet-Up
I had a blogger meet-up with Sarah of Sarah in the City.
I watched a fountain show.
Shrek's House
I visited Shrek's house. (Although Shrek wasn't actually there. But I'm sure at times he is. They also had places decorated to visit both the characters from Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.)
I happened to walk by a wedding in progress, and loved a ton of their little details, like the fact they were married on St. Patrick's Day and the bridesmaids wore green. I also loved her escort cards, but I don't have a picture of them.
I shopped for souvenirs. Funny enough the only thin I purchased that's actually from Tennessee is the kiwi jam, but it all looked fun to me.

As you've probably noticed almost all of these pictures are in the hotel itself. Yes, there are probably people out there who'd say it was a waste to visit a city and not really do anything. But to be honest what I really want to do was take time to unplug and have a restful weekend, and I think this met that goal.

Have you ever taken a trip somewhere to wind up barely leaving the hotel?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Haunted Sisters

Royal Sisters by Jean Plaidy
It's been a while since I've picked up one of Jean Plaidy books, and like every time it seems I'm wondering why I've let this sit in my reading pile so long before picking it up. The book takes place at the end of Charles II's reign through William & Mary's reign, and it's a time I thought I knew a lot about. I was afraid that much of the book would be a rehashing of The Three Crowns, but while both feature William and Mary, each tells their story at different time periods. And as I've come to expect in Plaidy's books, I always wind up learning so much, which I love about her books.

While I knew that that Anne, sister to Queen Mary who would eventually be queen as well, had children I had no idea how many or how many survived and I was surprised to learn about them. I had never heard about her son the Duke of Gloucester, and the stories of him were some of my favorite parts to read.

Finishing this I can't wait to pick up Courting Her Highness, which I'm assuming will cover the details over Queen's Anne reign. I would love to go on and read the rest of Plaidy's books, except most of them are still out of publication. They were being republished fairly regularly, but I can't seem to find any indication that there's a plan to release more in the near future. But hopefully that changes, and if you've never read one of Plaidy's book, as always, I highly recommend her.


Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

Yesterday I introduced my cake baker, and discussed the process I went through to find them. But today we're going to go over the actual cake in a little more detail.

I was asked to bring any inspiration photos I had to the appointment. Which for me meant printing off my cake board on pinterest. I never consciously made the board, it was more of when I saw pictures I liked I pinned them, so it included a range of images. I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted, but looking at the pictures together a theme came through. All of them were fairly simple, and most had some type ribbon at the bottom of each tier. I pointed out my favorite image to the owner, and told her this was basically what I wanted.

Mrs. Mascara's Cake
Except I wanted the cakes to be square, so basically the cake above (which is actually Mrs. Mascara's) mixed with this one as well.

Once she knew what I was looking for she started planning how we she'd actually carry out the vision. We would do a white buttercream frosting on the actual cake. The ribbon would be fondant dyed to match the bridesmaids' dresses. And we would do a gumpaste rose on the middle that would be a light yellow. (She actually told me the gumpaste flower would keep for years. As it hardened it would turn into almost a porcelain-like flower that I could keep on a dresser as a reminder of the wedding.)

We didn't decide on flavors, since I need to actually arrange a day to pick up the flavors I want to try to make a decision. But besides that in about an hour we had the cake completely designed. I was a little surprised because I wasn't expecting to leave the appointment with such a firm decision on what the cake would look like and with such detail. (Especially since the first baker I went didn't take the time to do the same.) And since who doesn't love looking at cake, I figured I'd share a few more of my inspiration photos.






Did you have a hard time decided on a cake design or did your baker surprise you? And which of these cake pictures would you pick as a favorite?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'ts Pi Cake Day!

First since today happens to by Pi day, let's start off with a math joke.

Teacher: Pi*r^2
Student: Pie are square? Pie are not square. Pie are round. Cakes are sqaure.

But moving on to the part of wedding planning that I was most looking forward to, cake tastings! The first tasting I went to was at a bakery not too far from where I work. I didn't neccessarily think I'd be booking it, but I figured free cake for lunch was something I could handle. When we walked in we were handed a plate of 3 petite fours. The green was almond flavored, the white was their butter flavor (or vanilla), and the third was chocolate.
Cake Tasting Samples
We sat down with the owner and discussed flavors, designs, and pricing, and to be honest this was probably somewhere I would consider. At least until we inquired asking if we they could deliver the date of our wedding, which is a Sunday. We were told no, that they're closed that day so they're able to go to church, but she'd be willing to box the cake up for someone to pick up. But I'm not too sure that I know someone who'd I'd be willing to trust enough to pick up a cake, drive on the interstate to our reception site, and assemble correctly, so this place was automatically out.

The second bakery I went to was the one I'd been hoping to book all along. They're the bakery that the boy's sister tends to use for her kids' birthday parties, all of which come out adorable.
This one's from the boy's nephew 2nd birthday, and while I'm almost positive this is from the bakery I booked, I'll feel awfully embaressed if I'm wrong here.

But once confirming that they would infact deliver on a Sunday during a holiday weekend, it was looking awfully likely that we had our baker. Once we attended our consultant we were given a slice of their white buttercream on almond cake as a sample.
Cake Sample
To give you a size comparison, the plate this was on was about the same size as the plate for the three petite fours. And if you're concerned about the fact that there's only a single flavor, once you put down a deposite you're able to pick up a box of 6 slices each this size with the fillings you'd like to try.

We sat down with the owner to discuss pricing, falvors, and had her basically draw out our cake. But since this post has already gotten long enough, I'll make you wait a while to show you what we came up with. But I will leave you with two real wedding cakes from our bakery.


Did you have a hard time deciding on a cake baker? Or did you have something, like no delivery on a Sunday, make your decision for you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cost of an STD

Now that I've given you the big save-the-date reveal, I figured it made sense to give the budget breakdown. Yes, it's for your curiosity, but it's also so I have something official to add to my budgeting spreadsheet. Now they may be a little creative math here, but I figure if I only used a third of the 180 labels, I don't need to include all of it in my budget. After all, I may NEED oval shaped label for something in the future right?
56 magnets w/ envelopes from MagnetStreet + Shipping: $106.51 ($142.65 for 75 + Shipping)
56 Oval Mailing Labels: $3.73 ($11.99 for 180)
56 Business Cards: $0.94 ($4.22 for 250)
56 Forever Stamps: $24.64 (Purchased the day before the price increase at $0.44 each)

(This doesn't include the photo stickers or the glue tape I used to get the business cards onto the envelopes since I already had them around the house.)

Total for 56 Save-the-Dates: $135.82
Price per Save-the-Date: $2.43

Which without stamps in less than $2 each. Doesn't sound too bad to me. Now hopefully I can DIY invitations for not much more!

Would you consider $2.00 per STD a good price? And if you're mailing out invitations, did you manage to pick up stamps before the price hike?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meet Virginia

John Carter
So maybe my clever post title doesn't quite work unless you seen the movie, but I'm still ok with that. I think this movie had a lot of potential, and while there were parts that I enjoyed, I don't see myself sitting down to watch it again.

I actually really liked the ending of the movie. And I don't mean that in a clever, I liked the end because the movie ended type of way, but that I really liked the way the story ended. And to be honest, the ending made me want to see a sequel.

But sitting through a lot of the rest of the movie, I was bored. I was confused quite a bit, and the movie seemed to drag on forever.

We did opt to see it in 2-D. After seeing all of the awful reviews on this I couldn't justify paying the extra charge.

Part of me wants to recommend that you pass on this one and wait for something better. But I'd still love to see a sequel to this, and if more people seeing it means that's more likely, then you should go see it!