Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Simply Fresh

When I was in college, there was a Ruby Tuesday in the mall. I wasn't that big of a fan. Flash forward a decade and I love it. They have a very sophisticated yet still casual concept when it comes to their food and dining atmosphere. Yeah, they aren't just burgers any more.

Andrews McMeel Publishing has put out a new cookbook called Simply Fresh: casual dinning at home by Jeff Morgan. With over 100 recipes that have been inspired by the many dishes that grace the tables at Ruby Tuesday, this cookbook is one deserving your kitchen. The recipes are simple using fresh ingredients and easy to follow directions.

Now I love cookbooks, but I admit I have a problem following directions. I have to add my own spin to things. One of the recipes that I tried out was the Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil on page 82. Yes, couldn't leave it be. I added canned lump crab and diced frozen shrimp. This chunky soup is so rich and flavorful that even my husband who is not a fan of soup or tomatoes asked for seconds. We used the leftover soup the next day to top corkscrew pasta. Like all soup, it was even better the next day. Sorry, I don't have any pictures. We ate it all before I even thought about it.

Pictures of course are the best part of a cookbook. I know it is cheaper to publish a cookbook sans photos for every recipe, but I have never understood why that should even be considered. We eat with our eyes before we ever taste our food. I will not buy a cookbook that does not show me what the recipe will look like. That is another reason I love this cookbook. There are pictures galore.

Yummm...this is all making me hungry. Time to get cooking!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Think Pink! a book review of The Boy with Pink Hair

I love books where the main character discovers that being different is just awesome. I have a new favorite picture book.

Now it seems to be the trend that Hollywood is not happy with being just actors or singers. They want to be writers too. Madonna did it. Hilary Duff did it. Even the girl who played Winnie on the Wonder Years has done it. Now Perez Hilton has decided to put his hat in the Children's publishing arena.

The Boy with Pink Hair was great. It is not about a boy who wants to be a girl or dye his hair, he was born with pink hair. Rather than try to cure it like Gerald McBoing-Boing's  or even Daisy Head Mayzie's parents do, The Boy with Pink Hair's parents teach him to embrace being different and to play up what his talents are. In this case, his talents are cooking (especially pink food). I love that none of the characters in the book have actual names. They are referred to as The Boy with Pink Hair, The Girl with Pig Tails, and the Boy With the Bad Attitude (among others).

The Boy with Pink Hair says he dreams of a school where everyone has different colored hair and together they make up a rainbow. We are all too often discouraged from being different and not conforming. Perez Hilton says that he is working on being the change that he wants to see in the world. The fence seems to be be right there splitting everything when it comes to the celebrity blogger. He has been called a cyber bully and a man with an agenda among other things. To be honest, other than the fact that he is openly gay and in-tuned with the Hollywood gossip circuit, I don't know that much about him. I am judging this book strictly on the story which is awesome.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Of things to come...

This next month is going to be pretty crazy for me. I just don't know how to say no sometimes. I think I am finally starting to realize that I am becoming over extended. Yes, being Not Quite Superhuman is catching up.

I registered at NaNoWriMo's website but have not written a single word. I just like my WIP too much to switch to another idea right now. Though I admit that I love this month because there is just soo much advice out there from writers, agents, and publishers. The fabulous Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, was at my library last month. She started out during NaNoWriMo and said community was the best thing she took from the experience. So for the moment I am going to follow along on the networks and lurk on the blogs for all the advice and ideas that can be found.

I have also started what I am calling the great coupon experiment. I am in month two of trying extreme couponing. So far I am spending the same amount of money each month, but my pantry is full and we have been going out to eat way less. This month will be the true test because even though it is just the three of us, we still spend more when there are holiday meals.

I also started reviewing over at No Flying No Tights which is a graphic novel review website. Yeah, finally a legit excuse to spend more time reading manga and watching anime.

I fully have plans to revamp this blog started prob in January with more of a defined schedule. Some features that I am toying with are more book reviews, discount deals, and crafts. I am not sure yet what the schedule will be or what names I will call the features, but in the mean time I will offer a peek at a great discount deal. Enjoy!

Head on over to NoMoreRack for great deals on electronics, clothes, and more. Deals are good just for either one day or when they sell out, whichever comes first. You can get some items for up to 80% off or more in some cases. Plus shipping is just $2 per item. Great for holiday shopping!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: Between the Sea and Sky

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 25, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1599904349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599904344

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore takes Little Mermaid and spins it to whole new heights --literally.

Esmerine is a mermaid, well actually a siren; just like her older sister Dosinia. Receiving her belt should have been one of the best things that could happen to her, but she is still uneasy. Not only are her and her sister the first in her family to be chosen to be sirens, but she also has a history of being the mermaid who was friends with that winged boy. She also has a fondness for books, which don't do too well underwater. Then Dosinia goes missing and there are rumors from Land that she has been spirited away to the mountains by her new human husband.

Convinced that Dosinia was tricked into giving up her belt, a keeper of siren magic, to her new husband and thus trapped forever as a two-legger; Esmerine decides to investigate by journeying above the waves and onto Land. Mermaids don't do too well on Land, not even sirens with all their magic. Their feet feel unbearable pain which means they can barely walk. When a mermaid gives up her belt to a human, the pain goes away. Esmerine has no intention of giving up her belt.

Stranded in the middle of town with aching feet, she is surprised to discover that Alandare, the winged friend from her childhood, is working at a bookstore in town. Alandare agrees to help Esmerine find her sister, but their friendship has changed. It is both more and less at the same time, with neither one wanting the other to give up who and what they are. Is there any in-between for a girl of the sea and a man of the air?

What I loved best about the book was that Esmerine wasn't just a mermaid, she was a siren. Also while Alandare had wings, they are more like those of a bat and not the angelic feathers that most winged people are described as having. It kept things interesting. Esmerine's love of books had me thinking more of Belle than Ariel, which meant instant "like". There were also allusion to other legends, history, and tropes. Stealing a siren's belt for example, mirrored the tales of fishermen stealing the skins of their selkie brides to keep them on land. Alandare was a bit of a radical in his love of enlightenment era-ish pamphlets on philosophy. So this book was a delightful mix of traditional tale and more.

Dolamore does what she does best, taking a traditional tale and rethinking it. This story has been ten years in the making as it began with the seeds of a thought, "what if?". Dolamore went back to the good parts of that story to create Between the Sea and Sky. You will be hooked right until the very end wondering if the two will work out their differences.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Leaving a Little Bit Behind

No secret that I find Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to be an absolutely wonderful book that I share with absolutely everyone (Is that too many absolutely's? Well, that is how absolutely awesome it is!). It is the story of a little girl, Minli, who takes a journey to meet the Old Man of the Moon to ask how she can bring fortune back to her family. Grace Lin is on my list of authors I would one day like to meet.

Now, Grace Lin has found a wonderful way to have fun while traveling. She created little miniature dolls of herself that she is leaving around France as she travels. As her blog says, "They say you always leave a bit of yourself behind when you travel" and that is what she is doing. Check out the further adventures of Pocket Pacy: a pacy in the pocket.

I remember as a child, my family took a trip to Orlando, FL. We are talking mid to late 80s and we did everything from Gatorland to Disney to Sea World. But despite all that, what sticks in my mind is my father burying a plastic baggie with some coins and bills in the atrium of the hotel we were staying at. He had friends that were traveling to the same hotel the next month and created a treasure hunt for them. It worked too. They found the baggie right where he said it would be (though the bills didn't survive too well and I wonder about the maintenance of the hotel that the money was still there a month later). He had fun and they had fun. Win-Win!

What are some ways to unwind, let loose, or have fun while you are traveling? How do you make it a little bit more interesting than the everyday tourist thing?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ARC Assembly

I am horribly horribly behind on my reviews. I know, I know...

So here is an assemblage of reviews for ARCs I have read from NetGalley.  (Have I mentioned just how awesome NetGalley is?!)

Title:A Midsummer Night's Sin
SubTitle:A Blackthorn Brothers Novel
Pub Date:11/29/2011

This is the second installment of the Blackthorn Brothers Trilogy by Kasey Michaels. The second book follows Robin "Puck" Blackthorn. A chance encounter at a masquerade ball throws Puck deep in the middle of a plot against the crown. Joining Miss Regina Hackett, Puck learns of the seedier side of London and a little more of just what his brother Jack does for the Crown. Puck may seem a mischievous sort, but this story shows that there is much much more hiding behind his jovial smile. Personally, I think this is the best book so far though I can't wait to read Black Jack's story in Much Ado About Rogues when it become available.

In Total Surrender
Imprint:Avon Books
Pub Date:10/01/2011

Andreas Merrick wants revenge at whatever cost. Miss Phoebe Pace just wants her father's secret protected and her brother back home. When the two meet chaos ensues, literally. Phoebe proves to be tenacious in working her way under Andreas' skin. However, secrets about his past and his connection to her brother's disappearance might keep them apart. This was an enjoyable read with the best type of characters; the bad boy and the strong-willed heroine.

Title:One Night in London
SubTitle:The Truth About the Duke
Imprint:Avon Books
Pub Date:09/01/2011

Here is another book series about brothers. While I was expecting the book to be about the older brother, I was surprised to find that it was actually the middle brother, Edward that this romance was about. Edward is the responsible one taking care of everything. So when it is discovered their inheritance might be in jeopardy, he immediately contacts the lawyers...the lawyers who just agreed to help Lady Francesca Gordon gain custody of her niece. Of course, the lawyers drop her case to pursue the more prestigious case. This causes Lady Francesca to place the blame squarely on Edward who finds himself agreeing to help her if she can staunch the new rumors. I admit to being curious about the other two brothers so I will definitely read the next books, but more than ever I hope there will be a book about Lady Francesca's niece when she comes of age. Should be interesting. 

Title:No One But You
Publisher:Dorchester Publishing
Pub Date:10/04/2011

This Historical Romance takes place in the same world as Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides series. I admit to really wanting to reread the series...if I wasn't so far behind on all my other reads. I love her books! Sarah Winborne needs a man to help take care of her land, only she can't pay him. The only option for her is to marry someone, but with two young children to take care of, she must be picky in her choice. She didn't mean to say the name she did, but her heart spoke for her. Wonderful book, but too bad that the seven brothers already have wives. This book takes place after Rose, but before the other brothers find wives...let's just say I thought Sarah's daughter would have made a good Randolph. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Upcoming ALA Storytelling 2.0 Webinar

ALA | Storytelling 2.0

I am very excited because if you click on the link above you will find information posted through the America Library Association website about an upcoming webinar offered through the ALSC.

Storytelling 2.0 is all about making the storytelling experience more interactive using new ideas and technology. This webinar explores how digital resources and tools like websites, social media, iPads, digital cameras, computers, and more can be incorporated into traditional storytelling and programming techniques to enhance the library user’s experience. Also covered will be information about storytelling basics and using storytelling as a marketing tool.

Registration is not open just yet, but four dates have been set:

Friday, December 16, 2011; 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, 8 am Pacific
Friday, January 13, 2012; 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, 8 am Pacific
Monday, February 6, 2012; 2 pm Eastern, 1 pm Central, Noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific
Monday, March 19, 2012; 7 pm Eastern, 6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific

Webinar is limited to 100 students.

ALSC Personal Members and Students: $45
Non-Member: $55
Groups*: $195

You can find more specifics through the link at the top. If you have already clicked on it, did you see who the instructor is? I know awesome, isn't it? I am both super excited and intimidated at the same time. Hope to see you all in class. ;) ---JH

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ditch the Onesie/Diaper Cakes!

If you have an upcoming baby shower, then forget those pink or blue baby booties or the onesie/diaper cakes. Give the lucky new parents something that will make them laugh and possibly feel that they are not alone during those moments at 3am when, yes, they are awake and so is the dear little one.

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach is a delightfully honest little book that only a parent could truly appreciate. While the artwork is a little odd, the prose is very endearing and just slightly profane. It reads just like a nursery rhyme or bedtime tale about a parent's love for a child, but this is one tale that is not to be shared. Mansbach says exactly what we as parents have all thought at one point or another, even if it might not have been those exact same words.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I love this dress! When I saw it, the first thing I thought of was Evie from Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Such an Evie dress!

I know, you are all wondering why I am talking about a prom dress in August when most areas haven't even started school yet, let alone thought about prom. Well, the movie Prom is due to be released on DVD on Tuesday, August 30th. I saw it with a friend and will say that it is predictably cute and feel good. It screams Disney. However, all those elaborate ways of asking people to prom had us shaking our heads.

Neither one of us had ever experienced the prom craze to this extent. Now I did go to prom--three in fact!-- but I was the one who did the asking cause I went to an all girl high school. Yeah, no guys hanging by the lockers or waiting between classes. The first thing I did upon arriving home was to ask my husband,who went to a typical co-ed public high school, whether the elaborate prom invitations really happened. I have been intrigued by prom ever since.I recently read a totally awesome book called Ditched: a love story by Robin Mellom. It is not due out from Disney-Hyperion until January 2012. What intrigued me about this book was that Justina, the main character, finds herself abandoned in a ditch the morning after prom with no memory of the last 12 hours or how she managed to loss her date. It helped that there was mention about a punk tinker bell tattoo!

Justina's dress is covered in various stains serving as a roadmap of the disastrous night before which she spends the rest of the day analyzing with two women at the local 7-11. She tries to piece together what happened and whether her best friend, her prom date Ian Clark, really turned out to be a total jerk. What she learns is that things -- and people-- are not always what they seem.

I really hope that this book gets picked up for a screenplay soon cause it would make an awesome movie. Definitely pick up it up when it becomes available --oh, and pick up Prom too!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Crafter's Annoymous

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I am a crafter.

::Hello Jennifer::

July was a pretty busy month for me craft wise. It all started because my birthday is in July and last year my father sent me a string of faceted ruby beads (the ruby of course being the birthstone for July). I was determined that this year I would make something with those beads. I had an idea in my head and silly me I went to Michaels without one of the beads. I tried to find a bead that I thought would match well. Unfortunately, when I got home I discovered that the stones I bought didn't mesh well with the rubies I already had.

As every crafter knows, what doesn't work with one project can best be saved for another day. It just so happens that I saw a comment on a craft blog about Wholeport sponsoring a Creativity Expo and they were giving away free items on their blog with the condition that they had to be used to create a craft that would be posted on their Facebook page. The prize for the top ten items with the most "likes" would be a $50 gift certificate to their store. Now I have never done anything like this before, but I thought it would be pretty cool. I sent away for #7 the Gold Crystal Circle Beads. These looked perfect to go with the beads I had already purchased. I paired them with some smaller faceted pewter colored glass beads.

closeup of earrings

necklace and earrings together

closeup of necklace details

Please visit Wholeport's Facebook page and click "like" for their page and then for my creation to help support my habit. ;)

Well, remember I said the month had been busy. My crafting did not end there. I also attempted knitting...with silver wire and beads.

I will admit that I am in love with this bracelet and it turned out so well. I got the idea for it from the Michael's website. They have some awesome stuff on there. Unfortunately, I can not find the original link that I used for the instructions. Basically what you want to do is thread your beads onto your silver wire before you cast on. I used a little more than 65 beads and I used a random mix of glass pearl and pewter beads (do those pewter beads look familiar?). Then you want to cast your stitches. I didn't write down the number I cast on, but the wire is pretty stiff so cast on till you get the width you want your bracelet and it should be about right. As you add rows, slide beads up as you knit stitches. Depending on how many you add per row and which stitch you add the bead to, you will get a very cool random pattern. But wait! There is more!

So I received a Facebook message a couple of weeks ago that went something along the lines of "Hey, you knit right?". What progressed from the simple question is my new obsession. I was asked to make a pair of chunky fingerless gloves. Now, my knitting skills are questionable.

Back in the day, my Hungarian grandmother taught me how to knit, but then I promptly forgot all about it until shortly before my son was born about six years ago. I was in charge of scheduling community programs at the library and I found a woman who offered to teach knitting once a week for about a month. Her name was Julia, which was my grandmother's name and since I am a big believer in signs, I decided to take her class as well.

For some reason, I couldn't get my stitches to look exactly like the instructors. We think that my brain has somehow meshed what may have been my grandmother's Continental style of knitting with what I was learning to completely turn my skills backwards. The results can be pretty cool, but I just simply can't follow a patten and hope that it will look like the corresponding image. I guess you could say I have my own style. Because of this, I never strayed from simple knits like throws and scarves. Fingerless gloves would be a challenge, but I was excited to try.Yeah, guess you can say it has been a busy month.

Oh, those rubies that started it all...still sitting in the drawer. But I have some antique copper findings and beads that I know are going to look perfect with it...I promise...really...