Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 in Review

This has been a momentous year for me in a lot of ways. When I look back, I can hardly believe where I was a year ago today. Here are some highlights from my year:

January---I found out I was having a boy. I flew home to Dallas and went on a little baby shopping spree.

February--My husband and I took a babymoon down the California coast from Monterey to San Simeon.

March/April--I was lucky enough to get TWO baby showers. So much fun!

May--I had my baby on May 18 and turned 33 on May 25.

June--Almost lost my mind from lack of sleep and challenges with breastfeeding

July--Celebrated my second wedding anniversary

August--Prepared to go back to work and started my duties as a board member with the Junior League

September--Started life as a full-time working mom

October--Dressed Aidan up as a cowboy for Halloween

November--I watched a candidate I believe in win the election and started feeding baby solids at Thanksgiving

December--Looked back on an amazing year full of great challenges and great joy

Here are a few things I learned:

1) I wasn't sure if I would enjoy being a mom---I love it.

2) I discovered that I am strong enough to give birth to a baby.

3) I had to face the fact that I cannot be all things to all the people in my life and that I don't not have the power to make everyone happy.

4) Being a full-time working mom is harder than I thought it would be. I long to work part-time.

5) I am grateful for health insurance. I am even more grateful for a healthy family.

6) I am truly truly blessed.


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!

I will see you in 2009 with my Year in Books recap!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ONE FIFTH AVENUE by Candace Bushnell


Every so often, I need to have the guilty pleasure of reading fashionista/high society lit. (a sub-genre of chick lit, I suppose) Candace Bushnell's books tend to fall in this category. Her latest offering, ONE FIFTH AVENUE, was an amusing quick read. In this novel, Bushnell focuses on the residents of a classic upscale residence in New York City at One Fifth Avenue. These individuals run the gamut from a gossip columnist, award-winning novelist turned scriptwriter, new money hedge-fund math wiz and movie star.

I found this particular book a bit meatier than Bushnell's previous offerings. As Bushnell gets older, her characters have grown more mature and have a greater depth. It felt like being a fly on the wall within the building, watching the loves, successes, downfalls and frustrations of the residents. Even though Bushnell can be almost merciless with some of the characters, she finds sympathy for most residents...even a self-absorbed Sex and the City wannabe. She limits her skewering to the hedge fund guy who is focused on money to the exclusion of everything else. It gives insight into what Bushnell values these days.

ONE FIFTH AVENUE is a quick, entertaining read for those looking for light, uncomplicated fare.

Friday, December 12, 2008

THE SEALED LETTER by Emma Donoghue

I read this book on a recommendation from a fellow reader. I trust her opinion and she didn't steer me wrong. The SEALED LETTER is historical fiction based on a famous divorce case that took place in England in the 1860s. The story is told through several points of view, the main one being real-life early feminist Emily "Fido" Faithfull.

Emily is reunited with an old married friend after a long separation and is drawn into her friend's affair with an officer. Eventually, she is forced to testify in the divorce case surrounding the affair.

The novel is filled with interesting insights about early English feminists and the rights (or lack thereof) of women during this time period. I think I was most surprised by the fact that I was sure the author would be most sympathetic to the women in the story. However, Donoghue often chooses to show how women set themselves back and men are often the victims. It is a very intriguing view of many different sides of the same story and offers a great deal of food for thought.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Book for Bibliophiles?

I am woefully behind on my book reviews. I have three that I need to post. However, I just had to share something with you.

I was in a funk last night and decided to finally pick up my copy of THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY. I am sixty pages in and I am hooked. I can only hope that this book fulfills its promise.

The book came onto my radar because one of the authors was a bookseller at my favorite local independent bookstore.

For now, I will leave you this passage from the book:

"Booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one--the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it--along with first dibs on the new books."

As a former bookseller, current library worker and freamer of owning her own bookstore...I couldn't agree more!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Grinch or Elf?

I have been really upset ever since reports came in about the poor Walmart employee who was killed last Friday trying to protect a pregnant woman. I do not participate in Black Friday nor will I ever if I can avoid it. There is something really wrong about a country facing an economic recession where people actually kill each other for a flat-screen tv. We are actually sending a message now that material things are more important than human life. It is so awful I can barely think about it.

However...

I picked up my first batch of Santa Letters for the Make-a-Wish Foundation yesterday. For every letter to Santa that Macy's receives, they will donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. As I counted the letters, I read a few of them and I could barely stop the tears. Along with the typical requests for toys and bikes, I found messages of love and hope and even a few of desperation. "Please let my Dad find a job." "Please reunite me with my estranged wife." "Please help us find a home so we can leave the shelter." "Nothing for me Santa. Just comfort those in need." It was just the shot in the arm that I needed. It was a reminder that we all need Santa no matter how old we are. That people still want to believe in something pure where a man gives joy and gifts to people expecting nothing in return. So, although I may feel a bit Grinchy at times, I still have hope this holiday season. And I think playing elf with these Santa letters will help me maintain it.

Stay tuned for a review of THE SEALED LETTER.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

HOME by Marilynne Robinson



Marilynne Robinson won the Pulitzer for her book GILEAD. I still haven't read GILEAD but I was anxious to read her follow-up, HOME, after reading several glowing reviews. HOME is a prodigal son story. It revisits several of the characters from GILEAD but it is not necessary to read GILEAD in order to understand the plot.

Prodigal Jack Boughton returns home after an extended absence to visit his ailing father and sister and tries to find some sort of redemption. The story is a quiet one that is very character-driven. For readers that crave fast-moving plots and lots of action, this would be a very difficult book to get through. However, it offers a great deal of reflection on religion and family and whether people can truly change. Extremely thoughtful if sometimes a bit slow.

I'm looking forward to reading GILEAD for a different perspective and viewpoint on this tale.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comfort


I went to the doctor today and she offered some good suggestions and ideas for me so I think things will improve soon. As for my SuperBaby, he is as healthy as a horse and in the 99% for height and the 50% for weight. A long tall drink of water indeed. I'll post a six month photo soon.

I am all about comfort and nesting right now and I just saw this bed jacket in the Company Store catalog and decided it is just what I need to stay warm while I snuggle down and read during the winter months. I decided to splurge. Don't tell my mom though...I'm getting one for her too!

I may not post again before Thanksgiving so I just wanted to say how thankful I am for so many things in my life: healthy baby, family, home, job, personal health....and YOU!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Foot in Front of the Other

Hello Friends.
Thank you for all your support and well wishes. They are needed and appreciated. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and hopefully she can help me figure things out. In the meantime, I am trying to rest (unsuccessfully) and read (fairly successfully). I just finished HOME by Marilynne Robinson and will post a review soon. I am also close to finishing the FIRE by Katherine Neville.

I hope you are all preparing for a special Thanksgiving this year. I know I have lots of things to be thankful for. Such as blogging friends like you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

YES WE DID!!!


I can hardly believe it. I haven't felt like this since 1992. Could this really be change that we can believe in? I'd like to think so. I think Sen. McCain's speech was very moving and gracious. And Obama's speech blew me away. I can hardly wait for the inauguration. We now have the chance to come together as a country and effect some real change. What a wonderful opportunity!!!

I am very sad that California passed Proposition 8. I hope that someday, we will look back on this time and think, "How could we have ever denied rights to our fellow citizens?!" Whatever your stance on gay marriage, I would like to think that people would realize that it is very wrong to deny rights to our fellow Americans. Just as it was wrong to deny women and African-Americans the vote for so long. Sometimes I think we take two steps forward and one step back. Still, progress is being made. I'm just a little impatient.

Rumored to be posted at Obama Campaign HQ:

"Rosa Sat So Martin Could Walk
Martin Walked So Obama Could Run
Obama Ran So Our Children Can Fly"

Monday, November 03, 2008

McCain Supporter Denies Candy to Children

This is so disgusting but it seems to be par for the course these days.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama

I thought I'd be very specific about why I am choosing Obama for President. We have to decide something so important on much more than the basis of political party or a single issue.

1. He supports an increase after-school programs for lower-income families and affordable child-care options. Anyone with a child in college would get a sizable tax credit. (The only McCain changes would be a possible credit that families could use to pay for private schools.)

2. He supports an expansion of family leave benefits especially for employees of small companies. (McCain sees no need to change current requirements for maternity leave or family leave)

3. In his health care plan, participants could change job while keeping their insurance plan. Insurance companies could no longer deny coverage to individuals who have pre-existing conditions. This would directly affect my mother. ALL children would have health care coverage. (McCain's plan covers none of these things. However, there MAY be slighter lower prices for insurance in his plan. McCain would also tax everyone's health care benefits which would only be offset by a $5000 credit. My plan is worth $1500 a month. $5000 wouldn't get me very far.)

4. Under Obama's plan, 95% of American would get a tax cut. However, if you earn OVER $250,000, there would be a tax increase. (Under McCain's plan, the more money you make, the LARGER your tax cut would be. We have already seen under Bush how "effective" tax cuts for the rich have been.)

5. The next President will be choosing several new Supreme Court justices. We can't afford to lose legislation such as Roe v. Wade because it would be giving license to the government to tell ALL of us what we can or cannot do with our bodies.

6. I have people that I care about in the military and I'm ready for them to come home. We need a CLEAR definition of what success in Iraq looks like and a plan/timeline to get our troops home so that we stop bleeding money and losing lives.

We have the opportunity in this election to effect some real positive change. I respect Senator McCain. He has served his country well and I admire his efforts at campagin finance reform. However, in spite of calling himself a Maverick, Senator McCain has voted with President Bush 90% of the time. Even Republicans can now see that the current Presidency has set us back. Do we really want to continue that? Also, what if something happens to McCain? Gov. Palin is not ready to lead. She doesn't even know what the Vice President does and can't name any Supreme Court decisions other than Roe v. Wade. That is really scary. If we are going to accomplish some good things over the next four years, it will take ALL of us. Not just liberals and not just conservatives. Any real change has to come from both sides. I hope we can do it. I believe we can.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

INTO THE FOREST by Jean Hegland


A friend of mine at work lent this book to me and it proved to be a very quick read. INTO THE FOREST explores the lives of two sisters (ages 18 and 17) who are left to fend for themselves in a semi-apolcalpytic world. They live in a house on the edge of a forest thirty miles from the edge of town and manage to survive by growing their own food and making use of the "junk" their father accumulated while alive. In the midst of their efforts, tragedy strikes and the girls must decide whether to take their chances on the road or to remain on the edge of the forest.

This was a good quick read although it often felt as if the story was developed too quickly and was often simplistic. I feel that the author could have done a lot more. However, the book really makes you think about what you would do in a similar situation. It made me want to run out and read ANIMAL VEGETABLE MIRACLE again so I could learn to be self-sustaining. This would be a great companion book for McCarthy's THE ROAD. You could make it a weekend of apocalyptic reading.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson


I hadn't read a mystery/thriller in awhile when I came across this posthumous book by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. This international bestseller was very engrossing. The first fifty pages or so got a little bogged down in a description of a libel case. I almost gave up. Once the mystery got introduced, however, I was hooked. I must warn you..this book is not for the faint of heart. There is a great deal of violence towards women and gruesome depictions of sadism. I couldn't put it down, though. After the resolution of the mystery, the story gets bogged down once again in the libel case. I can't understand the reasoning behind such a clunky plot device. I still enjoyed the book, however, and look forward to the release of the next book in the trilogy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A New Controversial Magazine Cover

The cover of October 21's W MAGAZINE has been leaked and it shows Angelina Jolie breastfeeding one of her new babies. And you know what? It's really beautiful. I don't care what people think...that woman looks radiant!!!!

See the photo here.

GARDEN OF LAST DAYS by Andre Dubus III


I never read HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG but I thought the movie was really compelling. I was interested to see what Dubus' latest offering would be like. GARDEN OF LAST DAYS follows the lives of several individuals surrounding a strip club in Florida in the days leading up to 9/11. To me, the novel felt as if it could have been a Paul Thomas Anderson film. I was reminded of the feel of "Magnolia" several times. The characters in the novel are all loosely connected and yet they impact one another in interesting ways. I especially found the character of the terrorist especially interesting. Overall, I liked the novel although I felt Dubus could have done more. I felt the story unfolded a little slowly at times. However, I like that it covers a period of time during the 9/11 tragedy that is seldom addressed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Meme

Here's a meme from my friend Vieve:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

That would have been the fall of 1998. I was in the middle of graduate school for my master's degree in anthropology. I was dating a guy in the air force who was eight years older and ended up being one of the worst mistakes of my life.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today?

1. Publish the latest Junior League newsletter. (done)
2. Pump at least four more times.
3. Post the video of baby's baptism.
4. Upload the photos of baby's baptism and edit them.
5. Finish my current library book (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)

3. What snacks do I enjoy?

I am a cookie monster so if there is a chocolate chip cookie available I definitely go for that! Most of the time, i have a granola bar.

4. Where are some places I've lived?

Dallas, San Antonio, Denver, Sonoma County

5. What things would I do if I were a billionaire?

Pay off my debt and student loans. Buy a house. Donate to all my favorite charities. Buy my mom a house. Create a college fund for Aidan. I want a home of my own so badly. If I could win a lottery for just a couple hundred thousand I would be a happy happy woman. Real estate is so ridiculous in California that I doubt we will EVER be able to afford a house.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Working Mom Blues

I recently found a new blog that I have been reading called "Mom 101" and I really enjoy it. This post especially got to me. It is definitely hard to be a working mom. I went to a Mommy Track'd conference in San Francisco last week and really enjoyed it. It had a roomful of 500 working moms. It was nice to be around women who are in the same boat. However, a lot of them can afford nannies and au pairs. To me, it doesn't matter what kind of sitter you have. That isn't the point. No sitter or nanny or au pair can take the place of a real-live-honest-to-goodness mommy. Sigh....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun Time-Waster


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are
1
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Couch Potato Mama

Not too long ago, it seems as if there was nothing worth watching on television. And that was fine. I could spend that time reading or playing with baby instead. Now, however, I can barely keep up. Some of my favorites:

DIE-HARD FAN:

"House"
"Lost"
"Mad Men"
"Swingtown"
"Fringe"
"The Office"
"Dexter"

GUILTY PLEASURES:

"America's Next Top Model"
"Greek"
"Project Runway"
"Girls Next Door"

JURY IS STILL OUT:

"True Blood"
"Lipstick Jungle"

I'm never gonna lose this baby weight if I don't get off the couch!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall into Reading 2008


Yahoo! It's another Callapidder Days reading challenge! I didn't get to finish the last one since I had Baby right in the middle of it. Here is my tentative reading list:

1. STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE

2. GARDEN OF LAST DAYS

3. GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

4. HOME by Marilynne Robinson

I have a few others to add to the list that I will do later. I used to average four books a month but I have slowed down since the baby. We'll see how much I get done!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

High Anxiety

WARNING: Political blather ahead

A long time ago, I told myself that I would not make this blog political or religious. It was supposed to be about my life and my interests. Specifically books. But I have to admit that I am feeling a lot of anxiety right now. I guess I never believed that many of my fellow women would be gullible enough to fall for McCain's Palin card. Do I support women running for higher political office? Of course I do! But not THIS woman. I would even have preferred Kay Bailey Hutchison who I can't stand. And I have been dismayed by how many people are falling for McCain in general. Is he a good decent experiences man who served his country well? Of course he is! But we have the opportunity to get a true visionary in office. Someone we can actually believe in!!!

I ran across this article today and thought I would share it with you. It is called "This is Your Nation on White Privilege" by Tim Wise and it is really thought-provoking. Check it out here:

LINK

It expresses some of my frustrations about this election. This is such an important time in American history. The next President will choose three Supreme Court justices which will affect us all. We cannot sit idly by on this one and let other people choose for us. It's time to take action...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Virtual Sample Sales

I love to shop. For other people. If I could be a professional shopper and help people to buy gifts for their friends and loved ones, I would. I especially enjoy sample sales but the closest ones are usually forty miles away. That can be tough. So...I have become very interested in the new trend of online sample sales. Most of them are invitation only, however. I am a member of three and I've found some great deals. But you have to be quick!!!

1. Ideeli usually lists one item per day. You can pay to be one of the first people to access the item but I usually wait for the free opening.

2. Ruelala gives you sneak previews and I try to be on time when I see something I want because they sell out fast!

3. The new kid on the block is the Mini Social. This one has items for kids. I found Baby some really cute clothes at the latest offering.

4. A reader recommended HauteLook which has great stuff!

5. I just found Gilt Group which has lots of high-end designers.


If you would like an invite to any of these sample sales, just e-mail me at
bibanon1[at]gmail.com and I'll send you one.

Watch out, though. It can be addictive!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Viva el Amor

Our friends Larry and Joseph got married last Saturday and it was just lovely. They have been a couple for 20 years and now that they can legally marry, they decided to tie the knot. They will finally get the same rights and privileges that heterosexual couples who have been married for much less time have already been getting. When will we start recognizing that love is a wonderful thing wherever we find it and that we should always support loving COMMITTED relationships? Here is a video of another couple that just legalized their union. It made me cry...

LBC Freebie of the Day

Free "green" cat litter! I did this and it works. The coupon comes in the mail in an envelope that looks like junk mail so be sure and don't throw it away! I found the litter at Target.

LINK

I Love a Good Freebie!

As many of you know, I love a good freebie. And I have been trying to pass on some of the good ones to you. Unfortunately, I have fallen down on the job lately. So, I have decided to share some of my favorite freebie and product testing sites with you so you can find your own freebies.

Freebie Message Boards--Check these often as they are constantly updated with freebies

1. DealTaker

2. SlickDeals

3. Deal Seeking Mom

Product Testing Sites

1. BzzAgent--On this site, you are offered the chance to test products and then spread the word about the product to other people. The more "bzz" you generate, the more points you receive. You can redeem points for rewards but I like testing the products the best. (by the way--my agent name is bibanon1 in case they ask who referred you)

2. House Party--Here you can apply for product parties where you host a party to share free products and information with your friends. I've done some great stuff with them although it's getting harder to get chosen.

3. She Speaks--A product testing site for women.

I will try to update this post with more sites as I find them. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering...

Today is 9/11. Every year, I think about where I was and what I was doing on this day. I think about how I was working at the public library and we stayed open so that people could have access to the internet. I think about how my co-worker went home and got a little television set so we could watch it in the back room. I think about the families and friends of all those people that we lost.

It is not appropriate for me to get on a soap box today but I want to say that I also remember all of those people who have died SINCE 9/11---all the U.S. servicepeople and Iraqi civilians who have died overseas as a result of our President's decision to go after a phantom threat rather than pursue the real perpetrators of our tragedy. The death toll from 9/11 is still mounting. So, I take this day as moment to pause and reflect on what we have lost and what we continue to lose...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Cutie Patootie


Here is my little guy at his first Junior League meeting....he wasn't impressed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tell the Truth...

Have you ever heard the expression "Tell the truth and shame the devil?"

I was thinking about that expression this weekend. I saw an ad in a magazine that said, "When a child is born, so is a mother." But there are many other new relationships as well. A father is born. As are a grandmother, aunts and uncles, godparents, siblings etc. Just about everyone gets a new title/identity. So, it's a big change. And that change isn't always easy.

I watched the first season of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES when it came out and I loved the episode where Lynette has a breakdown and her friends go to comfort her. She says that some of them, like Bree, make everything look so easy. Her friends then reveal that they have struggled with parenthood as well. It makes me think. Why do we all feel the need to pretend that everything is perfect? I guess some people are just private and don't feel comfortable about talking about their problems and challenges. But it seemed to me that none of my friends with children told me of any of their difficulties until AFTER I had the baby. And even then, I had to share first. Maybe they didn't want to scare me. But it would have been nice to have friends share their challenges so I wouldn't have felt so alone. Postpartum depression is hard enough. Sometimes, it's nice to know that other people have been where you are. They too have struggled with new family dynamics and going crazy when you child cries nonstop for hours. They too feel a strain on their marriage and worry that they are terrible parents. Why don't people talk about these things?!

So, tell the truth and shame the devil. You just might help someone.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

For What It's Worth

WARNING: Political Blather Ahead

It's no secret that I am a Democrat. And boy do I have election fever!!! I really enjoyed the Democratic convention. It got me fired up. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have a candidate I can believe in. I wasn't crazy about Kerry but I think Obama could be really great.

Now, I am watching the Republican convention because it is important to be informed. I was looking to Palin's speech because I wanted to get a sense of who she is and what her plans and vision for the nation are. Well, I didn't get that. She is attractive and articulate but her speech was more of a pep rally speech. It got everyone fired up without having any substance. I have no idea where she really stands on issues or what her platform is. All I learned was that she is for drilling in Alaska which CONTINUES our dependence on oil. I also learned about her sweet Down's Syndrome baby and I hope she WOULD have a greater influence on funding for families of special needs children because Republicans don't have a good track record there. They tend to CUT funding for services like that. And then, she flat out lied. She was a PROPONENT of the infamous "bridge to nowhere." The woman is no more qualified to be VP of the United States than Bush was qualified to be President.

I understand that not everyone likes Obama. Okay, that's fine. But how can you be for McCain-Palin? If you have enjoyed the last eight years, then by all means vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. Because you'll be getting more of the same.

End of rant.

Hatchette USA 10 Book Giveaway

Who doesn't love free books? Literary Feline is hosting a ten-book giveaway over at her blog and the books look great! I'd especially like to get the one about the library cat. Cats and books just go together, don't they?

Anyway, if you'd like to enter the contest, go here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Labor Day

I spent yesterday reflecting on two things: my own labor day five weeks ago and my return to work. May 18 seems like a LOONNNGGG time ago. I can't believe my baby is almost four months old. I am so blessed that I got to have the time off to spend with him. But I am really sad to have to leave him behind to go to work today. I have a good job with great benefits and I work with really nice people. I'd love to only work part-time however. Being a full-time working mom is going to be really really hard. I am lucky to have my mom nearby to help take care of the baby.

I had a nice weekend. Princess Genevieve came to visit which was fun. I haven't seen her in about two years. I have been doing pretty well with my book-reading and movie-watching. Last movie seen: BOTTLE SHOCK. (I recommend it!) Last book read: MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU. (Not crazy about it...reads like a Patterson "ripped from the headlines" book) Now that I'm back to work, I'll try to blog more often. Hope you are all well!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yikes!!!

My beloved computer is dead. We had a good run, though. I've had it since 2001. And I didn't even start blogging until 2003. So, I'm sorry for my lack of posts. Hopefully, I'll get a new computer soon. Until then...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do You Have Obama Fever? (FREEBIE)

I don't want to get too political here but I don't see how there is any choice between Obama and McCain. Can we REALLY see McCain as President of the United States?

Anyway, if you are interested in getting a FREE Obama button, follow this link:

LINK

Good Night Sweet Prince

I started attending Renaissance festivals when I was a teenager. My favorite was Scarborough Faire right outside of Dallas. Every year, I looked forward to eating my favorite "faire" foods (such as fried ice cream) and seeing my favorite entertainers. No matter what renaissance festival you attended, you were likely to see the same entertainers since they all worked the same circuit. My personal favorite was the Torysteller but I also dearly loved Puke n' Snot. My good buddy and fellow festival-lover, Amy, sent me an article a few days ago announcing the untimely demise of our beloved Snot.

ARTICLE LINK

We always thought he was so handsome and dashing! Way getter than the jousting knights that most women seemed to go gaga over. This really makes me sad. It's as if part of my youth has gone away. It has been awhile since I've been to a Renaissance festival. I guess I went to one about five years ago in Colorado. I miss it. It was a chance to eat, drink and be merry and even get dressed up occasionally. I need to find one here in California so that I can take my baby someday. But it won't be the same without our beloved Snot.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New TV Watching

With the late-night feedings, I have been discovering new television shows to watch. Gary and I have gotten addicted to two show in particular: "Mad Men" and "Swingtown." I think that I especially enjoy the attention to detail in both of the shows. "Mad Men" is an AMC show and takes place at an ad agency in 1960. I love the clothes! However, the sexism (and smoking!) can be hard to take. "Swingtown" is a network show on Friday nights and takes place in 1976. The writing is clever and I find it hard to believe that I was one-year-old when all of that was taking place. Both are terrific shows!

We are also anxiously awaiting our Netflix of the second season of "Dexter." Who knew a show with a serial killer protagonist could be so compelling and enjoyable?

(By the way, I just finished TEN DAYS IN THE HILLS by Jane Smiley. She is a terrific writer. I was pleasantly surprised. The book takes place over a period of ten days following the beginning of the current Iraq war. I had lots of thoughts about "if we knew then what we know now..." Good read.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Join the Cheerios Challenge and get a free box of Cheerios!! (hurry---supplies limited)

LINK

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July Reads (so far)

Baby keeps me busy but I try to get a little reading time in each day. I find I am attracted to "chick lit" having to do with suburbia and motherhood these days.

TEN-YEAR NAP by Wolitzer
SISTER -Adams
STORY OF A MARRIAGE -Greer
BELONG TO ME -de los Santos

Both the Wolitzer and de los Santos books fall into the suburban motherhood category and I enjoyed both. The SISTER was a gothic tale that offers a VERY ambiguous ending. It reminded me a bit of the THIRTEENTH TALE. If anyone else reads this, please let me know! I need to discuss it with someone. STORY OF A MARRIAGE was an interesting perspective on marriage in the post-WWII era. Not my favorite book but interesting nonetheless.

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Oatmeal Crisp Cereal:

LINK

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back and Reading!

I can't believe it has been five weeks since baby was born. Hard to believe!!!

Obviously, there isn't much down time. My husband will usually take over for awhile so I can have a nap but I also love soaking in a tub. That is where I am getting some quality reading done.

Since mid-May, I have read the POTLUCK CLUB TAKES THE CAKE by Shepherd, CHASING HARRY WINSTON by Weisberger, ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE by Rushdie, GIRLS IN TRUCKS by Crouch and CANDY GIRL by Cody, and EMBRACE ME by Lisa Samson. Whew!

The POTLUCK CLUB book and the Lisa Samson book are both Christian fiction. I have a pretty low tolerance for most Christian fiction but I find the Potluck Club series delightful. Sort of a Christian version of the JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB or DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD. I also love Lisa Samson's books and EMBRACE ME was no exception.

ENCHANTRESS was my first Rushdie read and I was disappointed. The writing is amazing but I found the story tedious. CANDY GIRL was often laugh-out loud funny but the subject material could be eyebrow-raising.

Trying to get in as many books as I can !

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Special Day



Thanks to Gary for posting about Aidan's arrival for me. It has been a crazy and wonderful week. Today, Aidan is one week old and I am 33 years old. Hard to believe. We are settling in so I won't be posting consistently but I promise I'll be back to posting soon! Thank you for all of your well wishes and kind thoughts. You are all the greatest!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

He's Here!

Aidan Gaetano Fusco was born a healthy baby boy at 2:30 this afternoon. Mom sounded great when I spoke to her on the phone this evening, though she had not really slept since night before last. Aidan has a strong set of pipes and I could hear him crying loud and clear in the background. He weighs in at a whopping 9 lbs. 2 oz. (and he was two weeks early!) and is 22 inches long. Mom, Dad, and Grandmother are happy and well.

Congratulations Amy and Gary!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

LBC Freebie---Today Only!!!

Sign up today to take the SELF magazine Challenge and get a free pair of Tiger Stripe low-cut athletic socks from ASICS.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

LBC Freebies of the Day

Get a free sample of Crystal Light On-the-Go:

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Get a free sample of Ban antiperspirant:

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Eight Belles Tragedy

I don't know much about horses or horse racing. But I love watching horses run. They are such beautiful creatures. Not far from my house, there is a field that always has two horses in it. I look for those horses every time I drive by. They are so lovely.

I have always thought it would be fun to go to the Kentucky Derby. To put on a fun hat and watch those wonderful horses run. In Northern California, we have some horse racing at our local fair and we often go and watch them run. Gary has even won some money on the horsies. After this weekend's Derby however, I'm starting to rethink horse-racing.

I'm so glad I wasn't watching the race because with my current level of hormones and my sensitivity where animals are concerned, I would have been a wreck. The loss of Eight Belles is just heart-breaking. I just read this article and it is making me question my views of horse-racing. If I am against dog-fighting and greyhound-racing, why am I not opposed to horse-racing? In light of the recent tragedy, I'm going to have to give this some thought.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a coupon for a free 4-pack of YoMommy yogurt for "pregnancy, nursing and beyond."

LINK

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Emergen-C Pink Lemonade.

LINK

Friday, April 25, 2008

ONE PERFECT DAY by Rebecca Mead


I don't read a lot of nonfiction but when I saw Rebecca Mead's book, ONE PERFECT DAY: THE SELLING OF THE AMERICAN WEDDING, I was intrigued. I recently got married in July of 2006 and the whole experience is still fairly fresh in my mind. When going through the process of planning a wedding, I realized what a big racket...I mean...industry that wedding planning has become.

ONE PERFECT DAY examines the new trends in weddings and how the ways in which we approach weddings have changed in the last 100 years. We have come to accept certain things as acceptable simply because of the ways they have been marketed to us. Mead offers up interesting views of the wedding industry as well as changing traditions. I found the whole thing really interesting.

For example, I wondered why it is so hard to find a wedding dress under $1000. And then you have to order it months in advance?!! That seemed crazy to me. Mead spends an entire chapter on wedding dresses including the impact that off-the-rack stores such as David's Bridal have had on this segment of the wedding industry.

If you have recently gotten married, will be planning a wedding or are just fascinated with the process, I recommend this book. It might make you angry, however, to see how this institution has been manipulated into a big money-making venture.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

THE SENATOR'S WIFE by Sue Miller



I cannot remember if I have read any of Sue Miller's books before but I really enjoyed her latest offering, THE SENATOR'S WIFE. The book opens with some thirty-something newlyweds named Meri and Nathan moving into a duplex that houses a famous senator and his wife on the other side. Meri becomes fascinated with the senator's wife and strikes up a friendship with her. As the marriage of one woman reflects the struggles and joys of just starting out, the marriage of the other woman demonstrates the struggles and joys of a long-term relationship nearing its end.

I found this story really fascinating and it spoke to me as I am also just starting out in marriage and motherhood. The characters of both women are very well-drawn and the somewhat surprising conclusion is fascinating and makes one evaluate your own ideas of ethics and morality.

I highly recommend this one!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

AWAY by Amy Bloom




I have never read any Amy Bloom before so I was interested to read her latest offering, AWAY. AWAY follows the life of Lillian Leyb, a 22-year old Jewish immigrant who comes to America after surviving a Russian pogrom. In the pogrom, Lillian loses all of her family including her 3-yr-old daugher, Sophie. As the book follows Lillian's adventures in the New World, we discover that Sophie may be still alive. This revelation fuels Lillian's quest to find her daughter as she begins an epic journey across North America.

This book is filled with an array of fascinating characters. Lillian, however, was a difficult protagonist for me. Even in the face of her struggles, I had a hard time empathizing with her. Her quest, however, is fascinating. The ending confused me a bit but overall I thought it was a solid book.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Do Something Nice

So, I heard that tomorrow, everyone is supposed to perform an act of kindess or to do something nice. I happen to love the DAILY SHOW and COLBERT REPORT and I heard that Stephen Colbert is supporting Donors Choose. This is such a neat idea! Teachers go and register a project on DonorsChoose and you can go and either fund all or part of the project. You can even search for projects by location so that you can fund something in your area. It is such a great way to help struggling schools get good programs and resources into their schools.

Do something nice tomorrow and go check it out here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For Bookfool

This poem is near to my heart. I read it at my grandfather's funeral and it will be read at my funeral someday. Today, I would like to post it for my blogging friend Bookfool in the hope that it provides some sort of comfort.

CROSSING THE BAR by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Monday, April 07, 2008

HOW THE DEAD DREAM by Lydia Millet



I am finding it hard to post a review about this book. It's difficult to know what to say.

HOW THE DEAD DREAM is a character study of T., a real estate developer who has difficulty making connections with his fellow human beings. Eventually, he starts to draw connections between his role as a developer and the extinction of many of the world's animals. He also recognizes something of himself in the lonely nature of these animals that are placed in zoos for their own protection and he begins breaking into zoos just to commune with the animals.

I found T's struggles to find and understand his place in the world compelling and his identification with the animals moving. The book is well-written and thought-provoking but not especially enjoyable to read. Those of you who are sensitive about animals should be warned. There are some scenes with violence towards and the death of animals that are difficult to get through. Overall, it is a very solid and well-done book but I found it difficult to get through. Not one I would read again.

Oprah Tote 2008

This is a kind of a bummer but worth a try. This year, the Oprah tote will go to 5000 RANDOMLY SELECTED entrants. You can enter until early June.

Here is the link.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Caress Brazilian Exotic Oil Infusions Body Wash. Click on the free sample button in the lower right-hand corner.

LINK

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

CRAZY SCHOOL by Cornelia Read


I am feeling much better after my brief convalescence. It is really hard for me to lie around and do nothing. But I did get some reading done.

CRAZY SCHOOL is about an unorthodox therapeutic boarding school in Massachusetts for troubled youth that operates under some questionable practices. When two of the students turn up dead, teacher Madeline Dare must figure out what really happened to them.

This book was a quick and fairly enjoyable read. Madeline's character is just snarky enough and the school is filled with eccentric characters. The mystery doesn't kick in until about halfway through the book and is resolved very quickly soon after. Almost too neatly. But I liked the backstory behind the ultimate solution to the mystery. While not the best mystery I have ever read, this makes for a great weekend read.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Little Scare

For the past few days, I have been having a sharp pain in my side just to the right of my belly button. Yesterday, my doctor sent me to the hospital. I was hooked up to monitors and had a myriad of tests while they tried to figure out what was wrong. Long story short...they still don't know what is causing the pain. However, baby is in good shape and very very active. While I was at the hospital, they discovered that I was having regular contractions. This was a complete and total shock as I didn't feel them at all. In the end, they decided to send me home with the caveat that I stay home from work today and stay in bed.

As you know, I am still nine weeks away from my due date. Much too early for baby to come. Although the situation isn't dire and I will get checked again next week, please send good thoughts and prayers my way that baby will stay in my belly until May.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

RUN by Ann Patchett




I'm a little behind on my reading since I have been working on setting up the nursery for baby. However, I finally finished RUN by Ann Patchett. I had heard good things about this book so I was anxious to read it. The story takes place over a
48-hour period when the lives of one family are changed forever after an accident on a snowy evening.

The book isn't long but I found it took me forever to finish it. I just wasn't engaged by the story or the characters. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the fact that the events were condensed over such a short period. I also wasn't sure why some of the plot points were included. They seemed unnecessary. It wasn't entirely clear to me what the writer was attempting to accomplish or get across. The book is fairly well-written but definitely not one of my favorites.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nice Surprise

I will be taking a short break for a few days while my mom is visiting but I wanted to share something nice with you. I just found out that I have been given the award for "Outstanding Community Service by a Staff Member" at my workplace. This is an award where you are nominated by your co-workers. I think there are few things more meaningful than being recognized by your peers. I don't really feel I should be recognized for community service as it is my privilege and joy to volunteer but it is nice that people nominated me for this. I am so flattered and touched!

Monday, March 17, 2008

SPRING READING THING 2008


It's time for the Spring Reading Thing at Callapidder Days! Whoopee! The official sign-up day is on the 20th but I thought I'd go ahead and get my post ready. Okay, there are several books I have been waiting on at the library and I've decided to put them on my Spring Reading Thing list. Hopefully, I'll get them all before the SRT is over.

Here they are:

1. RUN by Ann Patchett

2. CRAZY SCHOOL by Cornelia Read

3. HOW THE DEAD DREAM by Lydia Millet

4. AWAY by Amy Bloom

5. TRAIL OF CRUMBS by Kim Sunee

6. THE SENATOR'S WIFE by Sue Miller
As I read the books, I'll post reviews and link them back to the titles here. Wish me luck!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of GLAD ForceFlex trash bags.

LINK

Thursday, March 13, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of FIBER ONE CARAMEL DELIGHT CEREAL when you sign up for their newsletter. (I use my "junk" e-mail account)

LINK

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

Okay, I have a confession. I am getting addicted to Bravo's REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY. I don't know what it is about this show but I just love it. Maybe it's the fact that it is proof positive that money doesn't buy sense. I thought it would be appealing because it would give me a vicarious look at the NY high life but instead it just makes me relieved that I have the life I do. I look at the obsession that these women have with clothes and maintaining their youth as well as the stress of figuring out where they stand socially and I breathe a sigh of relief. Sure, money can make things easier. However, a lot of it involved what you do with it. I certainly don't want to be in a place where my summer could be ruined by whether or not I got invited to a cooking party or not or whether I won a "friendly" tennis game or not. So silly. And yet, so entertaining!!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spring Reading Thing!


Katrina will once again be hosting the Spring Reading Thing and I am really looking forward to it. It's a low-pressure way to get focused on your reading. I'm going to start working on my list! You can sign up at Callapidder Days starting on March 20. I hope you'll join in the fun!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Give Me a Brake

I have a confession to make. Lately, I have gotten really nervous about crossing streets. I think part of this comes from my experiences at work. I work at a junior college located on a very busy six-lane street. The junior college is on one side of the street and most of the restaurants and other places to eat are on the other side. I really enjoy taking a walk at lunchtime and going out to eat. Once I get past the smokers, however, I must face other challenges.

People seem so distracted and harried when they drive around campus that they never seem to pay attention. I have made an EXTRA effort only to cross in crosswalks and several times people have had to SCREECH to a halt to avoid hitting me. Now, I go out of my way to walk down the block to the crosswalk with the flashing lights in order to cross and even then I have been narrowly missed by cars several times. I feel like I have to wave my arms and jump around in order for people to see me. Even though I'm a big pregnant lady!

Now, I am just as bad as the next person when it comes to talking on my cell phone and driving. But, I'm starting to think we have TOO many distractions now. Cell phones, food, iPODS, texting...our focus on driving worsens in the fact of all of this multi-tasking! If people can't notice you in a crosswalk with flashing lights when cars in other lanes have stopped, there is definitely something wrong!

Gripe over.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Thank You for Not Smoking

I have a few gripes to share with you. I'll share one today and one tomorrow.

First of all, it is a BEAUTIFUL day here in Northern California. I'm a little grumpy that I am stuck inside at work. At least I have some windows to look out of.

I was thinking about smoking today. It doesn't seem that long ago when one would enter a restaurant and be asked whether one would like to sit in "smoking" or "non-smoking." That seems to be a rarer phenomenon these days. In California, smoking is banned just about everywhere. As a non-smoker, I find this refreshing. My husband is also sensitive to this issue as both his parents were heavy smokers and both died of cancer. Gary has bad lung problems as a result of his exposure to smoking throughout his childhood. I was lucky enough to be raised by two non-smokers. But I have to admit that I have gotten a little spoiled.

The campus where I work became a non-smoking campus last year. That doesn't stop students from hanging out on the street smoking, however. When I go for my daily walk, I feel like I have to run the gauntlet to get through the smokers. It's really frustrating. On the one hand, I believe that smokers should have the right to smoke if they want to. I imagine it must be EXTREMELY difficult to quit that kind of addiction. And it doesn't seem fair to force smokers into small spaces or outdoors in inclement weather. HOWEVER, I don't want to breathe in that smoke. And I certainly don't want my child to. Sigh. At least it seems like smoking is on the decline. I'll just cover my face with a scarf when I cross the street where the smokers hang out. Or is that too dramatic?

By the way, I have a non-related anecdote to share. I'm sharing it because I think it's something my friend Vieve will enjoy.

I went out for Mexican food today and saw something unusual. There was a gentleman sitting at a table and he was eating chips and salsa. The salsa was served in a little bowl. Normally, people (like myself) dip the chips into the salsa and then eat them. This gentleman would eat a few chips and then pick up the bowl like a teacup and DRINK THE SALSA! I was amazed! He must be a hardcare salsa lover!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Woot!

Our buddy Richard won a Golden Reel award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors for "Best Sound Editing in Feature Film: Music" for his work on "INTO THE WILD."

Hooray Richard!!!

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Curel's Life's Stages mositurizers. (choose one of two kinds)

LINK

Monday, February 25, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Tide with Dawn StainScrubbers.

LINK

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks


I really detested Brooks' last novel, MARCH, so I was very hesitant to pick up her latest offering. However, the subject matter of PEOPLE OF THE BOOK sounded so interesting that I could not pass it up.

Have any of you ever seen the film "The Red Violin." If so, you will find the plot of PEOPLE OF THE BOOK very familiar. The story begins with a medieval haggadah turning up in Sarajevo in the midst of the chaos of the late 1990's. An Australian book conservator, Hanna Heath, is called in to stabilize and repair the very special book. As Hanna works, she uncovers several fibres and other bits and pieces within the book that she sends out for analysis. Each small piece will add something to the story of the haggadah and its creation.

The book travels back through time as each successive piece of fiber or other ephemera is identified. We slowly learn about the history of the book and its origins through these small clues. This is the most fascinating part of the story--the discovery of how the book came to be and the many people who had a hand in protecting it. However, the framing storyline of Hanna in the present really slows down the plot and seems unnecessary. I understand what the author was trying to accomplish but I didn't think that storyline was particularly effective.

The Sarajevo haggadah is a real book while the story presented in Brooks' novel is sipmly speculation. However, it reveals the lengths that people who truly love books will go to in order to protect them. Whereas I found MARCH to be a particularly slow and tedious book, PEOPLE OF THE BOOK propels you forward and makes you anxious to discover the origins of such a fascinating piece of history. It is definitely a book for people who love and value books.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

DESERT CUT by Betty Webb


I have been a fan of mystery writer Betty Webb since her very first book DESERT NOIR. Webb writes what is commonly known as "hard-boiled" mysteries. Her "desert" series focuses on a female Arizona detective named Lena Jones. I love the fact that Webb has created such a strong female protagonist. I found the first book in the series interesting and different but I was completely sold after reading Webb's second book, DESERT WIVES, which centered around Lena's attempts to rescue a girl being held in a polygamist compound. As the series has progressed, Webb has incorporated many social issues within her mysteries from polygamy to domestic abuse. Her newest offering is no exception.

In DESERT CUT, Lena find the body of a young girl in the Arizona desert and gets drawn into the mystery surrounding her death. While investigating the murder, Lena uncovers an ancient and brutal practice and must find the killer before another girl dies.

This book was an incredibly quick read. The subject matter is distasteful but no more so than other hard-boiled mysteries. I really enjoyed it. One of my favorite parts of this series is the backstory that Webb has developed about Lena Jones. Each book reveals a little bit more about the detective's past and keeps you coming back for more.

If you decide to read this series, I recommend starting from the first book. It isn't my favorite but it sets the scene and introduces Lena's story which will become important throughout the other books. After reading the second book, you'll be hooked!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

California Coast Adventure


For Valentine's Day, Gary planned a trip for us along the California coast. We drove down Highway 1 from Monterey to San Simeon. We had lovely weather and saw all kinds of wonderful wildlife: sea otters, harbor seals, elephant seals, monarch butterflies and even zebras in the wild! We started our trip at the Monterey Bay Aquarium which was wonderful. We especially liked the sea otters because they are such playful and fascinating creatures. Later in the trip, we were lucky enough to see one in the wild!
On our first full day, we drove through the lovely Carmel-by-the-Sea and stopped at the Point Pinos lighthouse and the Monarch butterfly refuge. We then took the scenic drive through ritzy Pebble Beach. I stopped at the Golf resort to use the restroom. I wanted to get baby a tony Pebble Beach onesie but Gary wasn't having it. Here is a photo from the butterfly refuge:


We then spent a night in Big Sur and then headed to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. What a fascinating place! Hearst must have loved to entertain! The views were spectacular. We stopped several times along Hwy 1 to look at wildlife. The elephant seals were ashore for mating and eating. I couldn't believe how close we got! The picture above is of a male elephant seal who kept trying to sneak back into the group. We spent the night at Ragged Point and then headed to Point Lobos for a few short wildlife hikes where we saw harbor seals and a sea otter! Now, we can't wait to go back with baby and Grandma!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Meme and a MWAH!


I have been taggeed by the ever-fabulous BOOKFOOL for a meme. I have forgotten to thank her for sending me a MWAH! as well. So, thank you Bookfool.

The point of the Mwah! award is "to hand some of that love and kindness back around to those who have been so very, very, very good to me in this bloggy world. My hope is that those who receive this award will pass it on to those who have been very, very, very good to them as well. It's a big kiss, of the chaste platonic kind, from me to you with the underlying 'thanks' message implied. I really do appreciate your support and your friendship and yes, your comments. ... Mwah!"


So, here is the meme:

GAUTAMI'S NON-FICTION MEME

a). What issues/topic interests you most--non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, there are infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

I really like non-fiction books on history. History has always fascinated me and I love it when authors offer up new perspectives on "old" subjects. I also enjoy general current events books and books on "hot topics" such a FREAKONOMICS. Anything to get my brain thinking about new and challenging ideas.

b). Would you like to review books concerning those?

I would probably give it a shot.

c). Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.

I would have to say no. Although it would be nice, I would never want to make one of my interests or hobbies into a job. I don't think I would enjoy it as much. And the pressure would probably result in an inferior product. I shall leave the reviewing to my betters such as Bookfool and Literary Feline.

d). Would you recommend those to your friends and how?

Depending on their interests, I would recommend a book to an individual. I'm pretty picky about who I recommend books to, however.

e). If you have already done something like this, link it to your post.
I think the last non-fiction book that I reviewed was LOVER OF UNREASON.


f). Please don't forget to link back here or whoever tags you.

The fabulous BOOKFOOL!!!

I am sending out the MWAH! award to all of my readers so if you read this, consider yourself MWAH'd!

Also, check back later for a post on my weekend getaway that my hubby put together for me as a Valentine's present. It was a great time!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


SONNET 29

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.


-William Shakespeare

This is my favorite of all Shakespearean sonnets. It just really speaks to me. I hope you all have a lovely day filled with love, laughter and happiness. Now go out and hug someone!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Frozen Grand Central

I love stuff like this!!!

LINK

Friday, February 08, 2008

MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff



I belong to a Signed, First Edition Book Club that sends me one new book per month. I try to only allow myself one new book a month and then use the library for the rest. You booklovers know how hard that is!!!

This month's selection was the MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff. I had heard some positive buzz about this book and was excited it read it. I really enjoyed it! I can't pinpoint exactly why I liked it so much.

The book centers around prodigal daughter Willie Upton who returns home to small-town Templeton after being dumped by her married archaeology professor and finding herself pregnant. While home, Willie starts to delve into the truth about her past while uncovering secrets of her hometown. Several James Fenimore Cooper characters make appearances as well as a mysterious lake monster. The book serves up a wonderful view of the intricacies of a small historic town while providing a little mystery as well.

I found this book hard to put down. I had to figure out the mystery and find out more about the town's founding family. Several different characters narrate the story and you see the town and its history from different points of view. My only complaint would be that it was sometimes difficult to keep track of all the characters. However, I found the book utterly delightful and entertaining. A great first offering by Groff.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

You Make My Day Award



My wonderful fellow Texan, Miss Purl, awarded me the YOU MAKE MY DAY award. Thank you so much! I just love these little blogging awards and always feel tickled pink when I get one! I met Purl through a swap and we are definitely kindred spirits!

I am passing this award on to some of my favorite bloggers:

Princess Genevieve
Bookfool
Literary Feline
Gary F.

You guys make my day!!!

Rock the Vote

I was the third person in line this morning when the polls opened. I just love election days. I really do. It is a totally different experience for me now that I live in a small town than it used to be when I voted in a big city.

When I first moved here, I was baffled when I was given a paper ballot and a purple marker. Where were the computerized voting machines?! Now, I love the paper ballots. I love the fact that I mark my votes and place my ballot in a little sleeve and drop it in a big metal box stencilled "BALLOT BOX." It feels so much more real than just hitting a button on a machine.

I can't wait to see what happens tonight. I think the best part about this election year is that people are really talking about politics and getting excited about it. What a wonderful thing!

I am almost finished with MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON and I'm really enjoying it. I will try and post a review tomorrow. In the meantime, if you are having a primary election today, GO VOTE!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Jergens Natural Glow Express Moisturizer.

LINK

Sunday, February 03, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a coupon for a free bag of FLAT EARTH crisps. These are so yummy!!!

LINK

Thursday, January 31, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Dove Cream Oil Lotion.

LINK

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Talk

Currently Reading:

SACRED GAMES by Vikram Chandra

MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON by Lauren Groff

BLUE LIKE JAZZ by Donald Miller

Upcoming Reads:

CRAZY SCHOOL by Cornelia Read

INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE by Samantha Hunt

PAINTER OF BATTLES by Arturo Perez-Reverte

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks

RESERVE by Russell Banks

RUN by Ann Patchett

SENATOR'S WIFE by Sue Miller

TRAIL OF CRUMBS by Kim Sunee

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thank You and an Update

*UPDATE*
Here is a link about the accident.

Thank you for your sweet response to my last post. I told my husband not to worry. I told him I was going to call upon the wonderful bloggers that I know to pray for his tenants. And I knew you would respond because you are the most generous and wonderful people I know. And I think your prayers and good wishes are helping.

The last we heard, the father and little girl in the hospital are doing better and will probably pull through. The youngest girl was released into the care of family friends yesterday. My heart breaks when I think about that poor family.

As many of you know, nine years ago my father was killed when he was hit by a courier van while walking across the street to work. At the funeral, one of his co-workers told me something that really startled me. She said that she heard about the accident on her way to work while listening to a local Christian radio station. Evidently, the radio station had a traffic helicopter that was flying over when the accident occurred. The pilot asked listeners to pray for the victim in the accident because it didn't look good. My father's co-worker didn't find out until later that it was my father who was the victim. She told me that she knew that my father's soul was carried to heaven on the prayers of all of those listeners. It's a nice thought. I always say a prayer now when I go past an accident. You never know what a difference it might make.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Favor Needed

Hello my friends.

I have a favor to ask of you today. It is so important to me that I am going to put the same post on both of my blogs.

Last night, my husband got a phone call that some of his tenants had been in a car accident. It's a family of four. The mother was killed. The father and one of the little girls are in the hospital and the little girl has yet to regain consciousness.

I actually believe in the power of prayer. I really do. I am asking you today to take a moment as you read this to pray for that family. It doesn't matter to me what you believe. I think that if we send this family our best wishes, thoughts and prayers, it will help them. I am praying that the father and little girl still in the hospital make it through this tragedy. They have lost enough already. And I am also praying that the father will have the strength to go forward with his little girls after such a horrible loss. I can't imagine going through something like this.

So, if you have a moment today, please send some positive energy to this family. They need it desperately.

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of Chocolate Turtle Chex Mix.

LINK

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Touch the Belly?

Even though I'm a little over five months pregnant right now, I still feel as if I don't LOOK very pregnant. People are very hesitant to ask me if I'm pregnant because I could just easily be overweight.

Some friends were talking about how they hate it when people feel the need to touch their pregnant bellies. Even complete strangers. I have heard about this phenomenon a lot. There just seems to be an instinct in people, especially women, to touch a pregnant belly. I wonder why that is? I haven't experienced it yet since I am not showing too much. But I wonder how I will handle it if it happens. When I think about it, it doesn't really bother me. There is something nice about the universal need people have to connect with a pregnant belly. I think positive human touch can be such a powerful thing. And maybe it's a good thing to connect with your fellow human beings in this way. Perhaps there are sending good wishes and positive energy to the baby through their touch. And that can only be a good thing, right?

When I finally get to the point that I look "without a doubt" pregnant, I think I'm going to look forward to people reaching out. But we'll have to see...

Friday, January 18, 2008

For My Husband

Not for a holiday, an anniversary or any reason in particular. Just because I love you and this song makes me think of you!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Sign up for the Biore 2-Week Challenge sponsored by Lucky magazine. Pre-registration now available. You will receive a 2-week supply of scrub and strips.

Coming soon!

LINK

January 14, 1999

I missed an anniversary two days ago. Or maybe I didn't really miss it but tried to push it out of my mind. My father died on January 14 nine years ago. It is hard to believe it has been that long.

I was 23 years old and going to graduate school in Denver at the time. My father took the bus to work every morning in the wee small hours. He was almost legally deaf and didn't have the best vision in the world. He got off the bus at his stop and was crossing the street to go to work when a speeding courier van hit and killed him. The driver tried to leave the scene but fellow bus passengers stopped him. The authorities had some difficulty in tracking down my poor mother so I didn't hear from her until later in the day. She and I are both a little manic now about always having a cell phone or some other way to be contacted in case of an emergency.

We decided to focus the funeral on "living today." Don't neglect to kiss someone goodbye or tell them that you love them. Don't put off doing things tomorrow that you could do today. Because you can go through the same routine that you do every single day and not live through it. Every day counts.

I guess I try to put January 14 out of my mind each year because I don't want to remember my father that way. I always remember his birthday on August 17. That is how I prefer to remember him. I know if he were alive right now, he would probably be out shopping for his soon-to-be grandchild.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a favor of you today. Tell someone close to you that love them. That you appreciate them. That they mean a lot to you. Because you never know if you'll get another chance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of new GLAD microwave steaming bags.

LINK

Have You Seen These (missing) Blogs?

Two of my favorite blogs have disappeared. JASCLO? NABBALICIOUS? Where are you?!!!

I have noticed that there seems to be an ebb and flow with blogging. Some people start out very enthusiastically and then lose interest. Some people blog inconsistently but stick around. Others are dedicated daily bloggers. I am keeping my fingers crossed that these two blogs are only temporarily offline. They certainly haven't jumped the shark in my opinion!!!

In June, I will have been blogging for five years. It kinds of amazes me. What did I do before blogging?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Compared to What?!

WARNING: Political Blather Ahead

I have heard some of my liberal friends comment on how they like Huckabee. That if they HAD to have a Republican in office, they would be okay with Huckabee. That he seems to be a more moderate Republican.

Compared to what?!!!

Read the following article about Huckabee's use of campaign funds as a personal piggy bank, how he doesn't believe gays deserve any equal rights, his anti-abortion stance under any circumstances and more!

LINK

Books Finished and in Progress

I have read two books so far this year:


GARDEN SPELLS by Allen and LOVING FRANK by Horan

I will post reviews of both books soon.

My friends Greg and Gary are having a readalong with me. We are attempting to read the Indian chunkster SACRED GAMES by Vikram Chandra. I'll let you know how it goes. And feel free to join in if you are so inclined!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bringing Cosmos Back!

I was an ardent fan of SEX AND THE CITY. I still am. And I have been waiting for something to fill the void that it left behind when it left the air for good. Now, there are two contenders.

I have watched two episodes of CASHMERE MAFIA so far and it's not bad. It has lots of the creative people from SEX AND THE CITY attached to it which bodes well. The other contender is LIPSTICK JUNGLE which hasn't aired yet.

There is a cool little site called House Party where you get to sign up to host different parties that showcase products. It isn't a sales thing like Tupperware. More of a "get the word out" thing. I was chosen to host a LIPSTICK JUNGLE party and I'm so excited! I get a sneak preview DVD of the show to play at the party along with free Mabelline products to give away. I'm so excited! What could be more fun than having your buddies over for some chick tv and free makeup products. And wine, of course. Although, I'll have to stick to sparkling water or cider.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

5 Places to Eat

The lovely Sarah over at Experiment Land has this great meme that I just had to try.

If you could only eat at 5 restaurants for the rest of your life, what would they be?

1. EL FENIX


The first one is easy. My favorite Mexican food in the whole world!!! And you can only get it in Dallas.

2. Kuby's



I have been eating at Kuby's Sausage House since I was very very little. I adore their Polish sausage plate which comes with German potato salad and sauerkraut. Half of the place is a restaurant and half is a market. Again, you can only get it in Dallas.

3. Highland Park Cafeteria



You are going to think I'm weird but I really love cafeterias. One of my first outings as a baby was to this cafeteria where I cultivated my early love of macaroni and cheese. I am perfectly content with one of HP Cafeteria's plates with fried fish, macaroni and cheese and either blackeyed peas or fried okra. I'm a southern girl, okay?

Again, only a Dallas location. Do you see a theme?

4. Vesta Dipping Grill



Gary and I had our first date here. It is so delicious. Every dish comes with three dipping sauces of your choice and their salmon is utterly amazing. A really trendy romantic spot. Only in Denver!!!

5. The Palm



I know this may seem like an odd choice but I love it. It's hard to imagine getting lobster anywhere else. A restaurant of old school decadence, there are many locations throughout the U.S. But not one close to me. Boo hoo.

I can probably think of lots more but that's a good start!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Get a free sample of either a Quaker Simple Harvest granola bar or packet of oatmeal.

LINK

The Big Reveal

Well, the verdict is in.

We're having a boy!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Goodbye to a Dear Friend

When I was a junior in high school, my parents and I went to the local SPCA to get a kitten. My mom had her heart set on finding an orange kitten. We ended up going home with two black cats. Mom had the inspired idea to name them Holmes and Moriarty. Moriarty was always very outgoing and vocal. He would carry on conversations with you and was always a cute little black fluffball even as an adult. Holmes was much more shy. He didn't trust strangers. But once he trusted you, he just couldn't get enough affection. He loved to lay on one's chest and loofah their chins for them. A total sweetheart. The kitties continued to live with my mom after I graduated from college and moved away. I always loved hearing her update on the cats when I called.

We lost Moriarty in January two years ago. It was really devastating. Mom was with me in Denver and couldn't get back to Texas in time to be with him. This past Friday, we lost Holmes. Mom was with him and he was his sweet self until the end. I just can't imagine going home to Texas and not seeing him. And I know the house must feel so empty to my mom without him. It is so hard to let go of the pets we love. They are part of our family and make up such a huge part of our lives. I didn't know how empty my house in Denver truly felt until I adopted Toulouse in
2001. Now, I can't imagine life without him.

I heard a story on NPR recently where someone (David Sedaris?) said that pets tend to bookmark parts of your life. I got my first cat, Buttercup, when I was in kindergarten. He died when I was in high school. To me, he defined my childhood. Holmes and Moriarty defined my teenage years through young adulthood. Now that they are gone and I'm married and pregnant, I feel like that part of my life is officially over. The loss of Holmes is like the loss of my young adulthood. I suppose Toulouse is defining adult single life and early marriage for me. And now, perhaps early motherhood. It is really hard to let go and I'm trying to think only good things today. Otherwise, I will just be too heartbroken.


P.S. I have my first sonogram today. That will be momentous and exciting and nerve-wracking. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My 2008 Year in Books

1. Love, Lies and Liquor --Beaton
2. Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers --Braun
3. Night --Wiesel
4. Mephisto Club --Gerritsen
5. Aeneid --Fagles translation
6. Labyrinth --Mosse
7. Suite Francaise --Nemirovsky
8. Echo Maker --Powers
9. Birth House --McKay
10. When Madeleine Was Young --Hamilton
11. What Came Before He Shot Her --George
12. Absurdistan --Shteyngart
13. Book Thief --Zusak
14. Terror --Simmons
15. Arlington Park --Cusk
16. Light of Evening -O'Brien
17. Last Empress --Min
18. Grotesque --Kirino
19. Heart-Shaped Box --Hill
20. Other Boleyn Girl --Gregory
21. Famous Writers School --Carter
22. Lover of Unreason --Koren
23. 24 Karat Kids --Goldstein
24. Camel Bookmobile --Hamilton
25. Angelica --Phillips
26. Witch of Portobello --Coelho
27. Finn --Clinch
28. What is the What --Eggers
29. Helpless --Gowdy
30. Quaker Summer --Samson
31. Infidelity Pact --Karasyov
32. Little Pink Slips --Koslow
33. Saturday --McEwan
34. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows --Rowling
35. Kite Runner --Hosseini
36. Dedication --McLaughlin
37. Ines of My Soul --Allende
38. New England White --Carter
39. Memory Keeper's Daughter --Edwards
40. Family Baggage --McInerney
41. Stardust --Gaiman
42. Ghostwalk --Stott
43. Double Bind --Bohjalian
44. Thousand Splendid Suns --Hosseini
45. Broken Shore --Temple
46. Art Thief --Charney
47. Scandal of the Season --Gee
48. Boleyn Inheritance --Gregory
49. Witch's Trinity --Mailman
50. Reincarnationist --Rose
51. Kissing Christmas Goodbye --Beaton
52. Abstinence Teacher --Perrotta
53. Interred with Their Bones --Carrell
54. Bridge of Sighs --Russo
55. Almost Moon -Sebold
56. Cleft --Lessing
57. Road --McCarthy
58. Peony in Love --See

I try to read fairly meaty books so I'm not always the fastest reader. I try to average a book a week. I don't think I read anything utterly repellent this year. My favorite book this year was QUAKER SUMMER. It really spoke to me for some reason. I also really enjoyed both of Hosseini's books. I can't wait to see what books the new year will bring!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

LBC Freebie of the Day

Try a free sample of SOUTH BEACH LIVING granola clusters.

LINK

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it is already 2008! It's gonna be a momentous year!

I had a nice holiday at home with Mom and Gary even though we were all sick with bad colds. Once I felt better, Mom took me maternity shopping and we started my baby registry which was lots of fun. We received so many wonderful gifts from friends and family this year including several for the baby. Thank you to everyone who sent something. Thank you notes will be forthcoming in the mail!!!

Mom and I managed to see three movies over the break: "Sweeney Todd," "Juno," and "Atonement." "Juno" was my favorite. Maybe it just feels really timely to me right now.

It's hard to be back at work but I'm grateful for the week I had off. It was nice to get a break. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!!!