Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Reviews Part 2

So I cleaned out my book shelf a couple weeks ago to prepare for my year of reading. The hubby and I are also just finishing our "no buy" month to help stop the flow of stuff into our apartment. This left me with very few book choices to get me through this month, so I dug through and found a couple books that I had bought because they looked interesting and then promptly never read.

The first was the first book in the Morganville Vampire series called Glass Houses by Rachel Caine.

I didn't realize until I actually read the front cover of this book (probably actually the reason I bought it, who knows it was so long ago) that I have actually read the Weather Warden Series by this same author. Anyways on to this book. After struggling through Maine, all I wanted was a super short book I could just power through in a couple days. This definitely delivered. It was quick with just enough detail to keep me going. It is a teen book with vampires and ghosts, not really in the Twilight vein, which I liked. It's about "normal" teens living through normal things like bullies and work and college, with a little supernatural and some plot twists thrown in. I haven't decided yet if I liked it enough to read the next one, but it was so quick and easy, I will probably come back to this series later in the year when I need something quick to catch up, or unwind from book hangover.

The other book I finished last week was The Hollow from Hollow Trilogy by Jessica Verday.
I was renewed after my quick read of Glass Houses, so I moved on to another teen supernatural book (are you noticing a pattern in my reading habits? If not you will soon :) ) that was on my shelf, but had never actually been read. It was also a surprisingly quick read even though it has nearly double the number of pages. This book uses the Sleepy Hollow legend, which was new and refreshing for me. I enjoyed this book until the end. I haven't decided yet if I'm ok with where she is taking the story, but again I'm sure I'll circle back to the second book later this year when I need something fast to read.

Have you read either of these books, or do you struggle with book hangovers?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Maine Book Review

So I decided to start a new blog series reviewing the books I read in 2013. I already kind of did this for "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" in this post. The second book I read this year was Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Image from J. Courtney Sullivan's site

I love the beach, or maybe the coast is a better way to describe it... Being a Pacific NW girl I like the cold, choppy water and near constant wind, rolling in to rough sand and pebble beaches. Therefore I'm up for pretty much any beach themed book, which is what I was thinking when I picked this one up. The story is about four women, 3 generations in a traditional Irish Catholic family, with the main setting as the family beach house on Cape Neddick in Maine. 

I had a really hard time getting into this book. The character development was very good, which is normally what I struggle with in books I'm not instantly hooked by. The characters were just hard to like or root for. They are mostly very selfish and awful to each other. They each have a few redeeming moments, which helped me get to the end of the book, but it's not a book I will read again. This book was definitely a family portrait character study, in that the book really focused on the struggles of individual characters and the family dynamics between them. There was not a true over arching story line, and therefore not a strong ending to the book. 

This would be a good book for readers who enjoy character heavy books, and/or life like dramas/family portrayals.

Have you read Maine? What did you think?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Where did the weekend go?

I really don't know what to talk about this Monday. I finally finished reading my second book of the year yesterday, and am working on a review of it for Wednesday. I jumped into my third book last night as well since I started this challenge a little late and need to play some serious catch up.

Mostly I spent the weekend catching up on chores. The hubby and I did try a new movie theater this weekend though. It's another one of those fancy 21 and over movie theaters where you can order food and alcohol from your seat. We weren't super impressed with the food or the service, but we did like the movie. We saw the Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

 It was entertaining; funny, a little cheesy, a straight forward action movie with a few twists thrown in to keep you engaged. It was nothing ground breaking, but I'm glad to see Arnold back on the screen. Frankly I'm glad that Hollywood is starting to move toward more action comedies with older action stars, as opposed to the over the top straight action, or action dramas with all younger stars that have been popular for the last several years.

What did you guys do this weekend?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekly wrap up

Damnit autocorrect moment of the week: tried to tell my husband this sucks- autocorrected me to this tucks. Awesome...

Weekly wrap up:
How is it Friday? I swear time really does go faster as you get older. Any way... I definitely struggled a little trying to balance everything this week, as you can tell from my late posts. I'm still ploughing through my second book of the year and still haven't touched my own novel in weeks. I'm happy I'm staying on top of my blogging and workouts though.

How has your week been?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Adventures in Zumba and a new craft!

Sorry the post didn't make it up yesterday. I didn't finish it until late.

So Tuesday night was Zumba again. Thankfully there were no stair related incidents this time, but our Zumba teacher was out sick, so we had a sub. I was intrigued by the fact that is was a guy, but figured since it was only my second class that I should give it a shot. He was actually very good, other than the fact that he was killing me. His style was definitely more fast paced/high energy all the way through to the end, instead of last week's kind of up and down pace. The best part of last night though, was that the instructor looked exactly like a younger version of the master I used to take TaeKwonDo from. At least he did now that I haven't been to TaeKwonDo in 3 years.... Anyways the first time he kiyuped (sp? - the yelling noise made to channel energy in martial arts) to signal a change in movement, it was all over. I spent the rest of class trying not to burst out laughing, or die. We will see what next week's adventure will be. :)

I also completed a craft this week! I made an earring holder a couple months ago, and loved it so much I decided to make a necklace holder to go with. I have seen a couple ideas for them on Pinterest and a couple blogs over the last year or so, but apparently forgot to pin them. This is how I made mine: I found a 12" x 12" picture frame that was pretty close in color to my earring holder.

I then painted a design on the frame in silver acrylic paint so it would match a little closer to my other frame, which came with a silver design already painted on it. 

Next I took the backing- in this case a piece of 12" x 12" cardboard, though I'm sure you could use whatever backing came with your frame. I poured a couple tbsps of rubber cement (this amount with vary depending on how big your frame is) onto the cardboard and brushed it out to cover the entire piece of cardboard. I next took a piece of 12" x 12" cork and fitted it on top of the cardboard. I weighted this down with several heavy books while the glue dried and sealed the adhesion. Mine took about 10 minutes to dry.

I forgot to take a picture of this next step, but it's pretty simple. You can either leave this as is, or you can take a piece of fabric (in my case burlap) and cut it with a border large enough to allow you to wrap the fabric around the edges and glue to the back of the cork/backing piece. My cork was only about a 1/4 of an inch thick, so I made my square of fabric 13" x 13". I snipped the corners of the fabric in on a diagonal in each corner to make them lie flat. I then took my hot glue gun and glued the fabric to the back of the backing on all four sides.

Once the fabric was attached I fitted the cork and backing back into the frame. The frame I used has the bendable tabs. I would highly recommend using a frame with these to make it easier to fit this back into the frame.

After I put the frame back together I needed to choose my hangers. I have seen these made with thumb tacks and picture hangers, but I wanted something silver in color to match the surrounding design. I decided to go with thin finishing/picture hanging nails. I decided how far apart I wanted the nails based on how bulky most of my jewelry is (which is pretty much not bulky at all) so I made my nails just less than an inch apart. Because my backing was cardboard I was able to just push these nails through until I could just feel the tips reach the back. I don't recommend using anything too long, because you do want this to hang pretty flush with the wall. If your frame had a harder backing you may need a hammer or a screw gun for this step.

I placed the nails all along the top of the picture frame at mostly even intervals as I hate actually measuring things. I then hung the picture frame and started hanging my necklaces.

And this is my finished product! :) I love it! The only thing I think I'll change, is I think I'll add two more nails under the two I am using for bracelets so I can hang a couple more.

What do you think? Have you done any fun crafts lately, or had any weird flashbacks?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Monday

Because I now have the Mamas and the Papas stuck in my head...

Sorry for the late post. How was your weekend everyone?

Mine was pretty busy. Friday night was girl's night out and I went to dinner and a movie with my mom and aunt. We went to dinner at Red Robin, so all was well and yummy. We were enjoying our time and conversation. We had decided that we were going to see Les Mis that evening, being that we're French and none of us have ever seen it before, this obviously needed to be rectified. I was check my clock before the first hour was up, not believing that not only did I still have another hour and a half of movie to watch, but that I was not enjoying it. AT. ALL. I kept thinking that Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, and Annie had not properly prepared me for a full 2 and half hours of straight singing. I am apparently not a musicals person. I kept feeling bad thinking that my mom and aunt were sitting there next to me enjoying the movie, while I was painstakingly counting down the minutes until it was over. As we were walking out, someone piped up to ask how we thought it was- and surprisingly we all hated it. It was too much singing, as in all the lines were sung, not just songs sung throughout between the spoken dialogue. And frankly if you don't know what the story is about going in, it's depressing. The best part though, I got to watch it again not 24 hours later....

So Saturday was my MIL's birthday. We went out to lunch, and then my SIL's present to my MIL was to buy her ticket to see Les Mis. I, unfortunately, had already said that I would go see it with them, and I have a weird compulsion that I HAVE to follow through on plans I make unless the other person changes them. So off I went to sit through this movie AGAIN only 16 hours later... And I have to say, it was better the second time around. I knew what to expect as far as the singing and the length. I also didn't feel bad about drinking my whole water and getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle, because I already knew what would happen. My MIL and SIL liked it significantly better than the rest of us, to each their own. They did agree with me though that it was a lot of singing, and a little awkward that not just the songs, but the lines were sung as well. We went to dinner afterwards, and then over to the in laws  to play Bang- which if you haven't played, I highly recommend it.

Have you seen any good movies lately? What did you think of Les Mis?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up

So, I had my first belly dancing class on Wednesday night, since I'm on this health kick, and I thought it would be a fun way to exercise (Really I just wanted to learn how to belly dance). Anyways, it's a six week class, one night a week, about the fundamentals of belly dancing. I figured it would totally be something I could do, since I've always had pretty flexible hips. One thing I did not count on was needing to be able to move my arms and my hips at the same time while WALKING! Considering the fact that I almost fell down the stairs of my gym after Zumba on Tuesday, I'm not sure this is going to be pretty. Plus apparently my flexibility apparently does not extend from my shoulders to my elbows, and therefore when I try to do the pretty rolly move, it looks like I'm just failing my arms for help. It's the ultimate rub your belly while you pat your head kind of test, and so far I am FAILING. :) Luckily it was only week one, I have to get better from there, right?

For my weekly wrap up, the blogging is still going well, noveling is still pretty much non-existent. We'll see how it goes this afternoon. I did decide to add a new resolution to my list: read 100 books in 2013. I finished  "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" this morning as my first one. I think I'm going to start "Maine" for my second book by J. Courtney Sullivan.

Do you have any recommendations for me?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" and then some

So I tried my first Zumba class last night. It was awesome! I'm definitely excited to go back next week.

I've been rereading the Blogess' book "Let's Pretend This Never Happened". I love it. Every time I use that phrase to describe a book it reminds me of the movie Red. If you haven't watched it you should- like now. I'll wait. Anyways in the beginning when two the main characters are talking Mary-Louise Parker's character is describing the new book she is reading to Bruce Willis' character. Her description is "It's terrible. I love it." It's cracked me up. Have you ever read anything that you were just thinking the entire time is garbage, but you're so invested in some part of it, you just can't put it down.... and then you read the second one because you can? No? Just me? I hope not, but that's a story for another day. (Probably soon, because I am forever running out of things to write about)

That was a really long rabbit trail to tell you that this book is definitely not terrible, but I love it nonetheless. It's definitely one of the funniest books I've ever read, but the biggest reason that I love it, is that it's real. They're real things, that happened to a real person. It doesn't cover up the ugly stuff that makes life what it is. I love that she talks openly in both the book and her blog about her depression and anxiety and everything else in between right along with the happy stuff like pet raccoons and taxidermied mice. I intrigued you? You should read her book too. (Not a paid endorsement. She has no clue who I am, let alone that I'm writing this.)

Really the whole point of this, is that I value honesty and bluntness, over sugar coating and hand holding. My blogging will be rough at times, as I try to figure out what I want to reveal to a largely anonymous internet crowd and struggle with my ever-companion writer's block. Please bare with me on this journey.

Have you read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened"? What is your favorite book right now?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome to another Monday

How is it already Monday again? I've hit a serious writer's block with both blogging and noveling all of a sudden.

The hubby and I are working on a weekly work out plan so we can work out together, but also get in the individual workouts we need. So far my schedule is Pilates 2 times a week, cardio 2 times a week, weight lifting 1 day a week, and Yoga 1 day a week. We'll see if I can keep it up without getting overwhelmed. I haven't been sleeping very good lately, so it's making it really hard to keep my motivation to get up early and work out every morning.

Have you set up any plans to make your new years' resolutions happen?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up

Sorry the post is kind of late today. It's Friday, and another weekly wrap up. This week felt like a short week because of the holiday, which is always nice. I was obviously good and kept on top of my blogging. For now I'm planning on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule, but we'll see how that goes over time.

My noveling was a different story. I worked earlier in the week to upload my Word documents into Scrivner, the writing program the hubby got me for Christmas. As I was uploading though I realized that I had lost 1,000 words from my first chapter. I looked through all my files on all the computers I write on and even looked through the recovery, and couldn't find it anywhere. I was a little disheartened and stressed, so I've been avoiding writing this week, but I'm trying to see the silver lining in that the last scene of that chapter was pretty rough and awkward and was going to need to be rewritten anyways; I just wasn't planning on rewriting it from scratch.

On a more positive note, I will leave you with this story that is probably only funny to me:

Before New Year's Eve, I had stopped at our local specialty beer store on the way home to pick up some fancy alcoholic cider as I much prefer that to beer and most champagne. The hubby called me and asked where I was, as he was getting ready to head out for the evening. I replied that I was at the specialty beer store, and he asked why. I was literally dumbfounded and the first thought that came to mind was "because this is where they keep the alcohol." :)

Did you do anything fun and/or productive this week? I hope you all have a wonderful first weekend of 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Beginning

So it's officially the new year. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday. The hubby and I slept in, worked out and then just hung out and watched a movie marathon. It was a lot of fun to spend the day relaxing, just the two of us. We went and worked out again this morning, seeing if our new workout schedule will work for both us, and will adjust as need be.

This year for New Year's Eve I continued a tradition from my childhood, and made cheese fondue for "dinner" by myself for the first time. The problem with French cooking is that I don't follow recipes... like ever. And I couldn't find one online that had exactly what I was looking for, so I mixed a couple together and kind of made it up as I went... I should have just stuck with something closer to my queso dip. The first attempt was terrible. It was too heavy and wouldn't come together and after over an hour of trying to make it work. I gave up and grabbed out a new pan. I used Coors Light instead of the fancy Copperhook, and skipped the flour the second time around and it turned out much better. Still not quite perfect, but I'll have to check my mother's recipe before next year to figure out what else I missed.

What did you do for New Year's? Do you have any childhood traditions you like to keep up?