Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Michael J. Fox: Part Two - Always Looking Up

You guys remember me sharing with you Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox's first memoir?  David and I both loved it and especially enjoyed the fact that the audiobook was read by the man himself. 

On our last trip to Kansas City (go Chiefs!!) David and I listened to Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  The first book outlines Fox's life through 2003.  Always Looking Up was published last year and is supposed to bring you "up-to-date" on Fox's life within the past decade, which it does well. 

The first thing in this book that caught my attention and I laughed at was the title.  Fox meant this both figuratively and literally when he picked it...always looking up.  Coming from a man who is much shorter than the average Joe...well, at least he can laugh at himself.  Being a comedian and all, that probably comes naturally, at least in some aspects. 

This book is written in a way so that those that have not read Lucky Man are caught up to speed.  There was a little bit of redundancy if you've read the first, but not overly much.  Fox discusses his attempts to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's throughout the past 5-8 years as well as the politics of this feat.  Campaigning for different political figures is discussed due to the need for stem cell research.  While stem cell research is something I have a definite opinion on (which I will not disclose since this is a politic-free blog), at this point in the read my eyes might have gone a little glassy since I'm not big into politics.

In another section of the book, Fox discusses how there is some talk of him playing up his disease and that perhaps he's "faking it" to tug on the heartstrings of America.  This was proclaimed by a rather famous person...and I was more than a little disgusted. 

Many more detailed accounts of Fox's life and how he remains optimistic still are found in this book.  While I enjoyed this book, I will say that I enjoyed Lucky Man more.  Why?  While this book is well-written it is not read like a novel as Lucky Man was.  However, I do still highly recommend it!  This set of books would make an excellent Christmas gift if you're looking for something in this genre...I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Remember Me?

I've been a bad blogger...I teased you with my pie crust recipe and then didn't deliver.  Between the holidays and a certain special reason...I do have an excuse...but I can't share just yet what the special reason might be.  Let's just say that big things are getting ready to happen for David and myself.  Stay tuned for details...they will be coming soon.  And I promise, I will be posting my crust recipe later this week so you'll get a chance to try it for your extra special Christmas meal.

In the meantime, here is my latest book review...

Remember Me? is a cute romantic story about an amnesiac who tries to piece her life back together when she loses three years worth of her memory.  The last thing that Lexi Smart remembers is going out with her girlfriends the night before her father's funeral back in 2004.  She wakes to perfect teeth, straight hair, a thinner body, a Louis Vuitton bag along with a wedding ring that'd knock someone out...complete with a multi-millionaire, gorgeous husband.  Lexi thinks to herself WHAT HAPPENED over these past three years?

Once released from the hospital Lexi tries to live her day-to-day life...or what is supposed to be her new day-to-day life.  And slowly it comes out that this new life...even though Lexi is now beautiful and rich...isn't quite as peachy as it looks...complete with betrayal and back-stabbing.

This was a cute little novel that was a nice break from some heavier reading I've done recently.  It was very predictable, but I still enjoyed it.  If you're looking for a sweet, light read then I would definitely recommend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

I am normally a total "back of the can" or "back of the box" recipe kinda girl.  And I guess you could say this one is a "back of the can" recipe...even though I searched for it on the internet...  Last weekend my mother-in-law and I were wanting to make a pumpkin pie and I had everything in the house except the evaporated milk.  If you have ever read and/or used the back of the Libby's pumpkin can recipe, then you know evaporated milk is one of the necessary ingredients.  Who wants to go to the grocery store for ONE item?  Seriously?  No one. 

What did I have in my pantry that miiiight work?  Eagle Brand.  You know that super yummy sweetened condensed milk...mmmm...  So, I looked on the Eagle Brand website for their recipe for pumpkin pie.  And we made it.  And it was awesome.  Tasted just like the Libby's recipe.  If you're like me and forget to purchase evaporated milk this holiday season...or if ::gasp:: your grocery store is out of it, try this recipe.  It's quite good!

P.S. I've had quite a few requests for my pie crust recipe...I'll reveal this early next week so you can try it out for Thanksgiving!

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)

1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust.
Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1-inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired.

My Name Is Memory

This past weekend I finished My Name Is Memory, by Ann Brashares.  I had been looking forward to reading this for months and it did not disappoint.

This is a love story that transcends generations and lives.  Daniel remembers his past lives each and every time.  In every life Daniel finds his "Sophia" and his love for her grows more yet, even though she never remembers him.  Within this book the two get closer than they have in the 1,200 years they have both lived.

In this life, Sophia is reborn as Lucy and in her high school years Lucy feels this unexplainable yearning to be near Daniel.  The couple goes through a series of near misses through their early adulthood, but in the end...even though they are thwarted by a previous life's nemesis (the former brother of Daniel and husband of Sophia)...the two find each other. 

This is very much a typical, sweet, slightly-predictable love story.  Very light reading and Brashares left it wide open for a sequel.  If I were giving it a grade, I would give it a solid "B."

Friday, November 12, 2010

False Victim

I've been absent recently and I apologize...but, I'm baaaaack!  My life has been super crazy busy lately and although that's no excuse to not blog...well, that's my excuse.  Moving along to my mostly recently finished book...

False Victim is a book based upon a true story that actually happened to the author, Kathie Truitt.  Julie, the main character in the book, moves to Washington DC with her family and quickly makes work of settling into the neighborhood and her new life.  However, her neighbor, Lynn, has other plans...Lynn begins to copy everything Julie does...and begins to stalk Julie, but Lynn makes it out to appear the opposite...and it gets right down scary when Julie ends up charged with attempted murder. 

Quite a few girls in my book club...in fact, I think almost all of them...have read this book.  Most of them absolutely loved it.  When I finished this book, my in-laws were in town and I had my mother-in-law read it as well because she had just finished the book she had brought.  It's a very quick read with short chapters and relatively large print.  I had read the whole thing in two sittings. 

While I can't say I enjoyed this book, it was definitely a page-turner.  I don't really think you can enjoy a book where someone is slowly being tortured, stalked and victimized.  You literally want to keep reading just so you know what crazy episode is going to happen next.  Donna, my MIL, even looked at me halfway through the book and said, "You know, this is a really depressing book!"  It's hard to believe that the police weren't catching on to what was going on.  Scary to think that this kind of stuff really does happen!

The book has a very real ending and I appreciated that...though, I wished things could have turned out for the better in both women's cases.  My favorite line (and Donna's) in the book was when Rick, Lynn's husband, comes to Julie in the end apologizing and saying something to the effect of, "She's my wife and I love her." Julie responds with, "If you truly loved her, you would have gotten her help a long time ago."  How true.

I would definitely recommend this book.  As a general rule, I'm a person that keeps to myself and doesn't normally open up to new friends for a period of time.  And what's funny is that some of my closest friends are the same way.  Very private people, until a certain level of trust is earned.  While I don't recommend being a hermit or recluse, this book validates my thoughts that while most people are generally good...it's best to keep your guard up because you never know.  And also, always trust your gut.  If you're getting a negative vibe from someone, there's probably a reason why.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Michael J. Fox, Part One - Lucky Man

I love 80s movies and one of my favorites is the Back To The Future trilogy.  Of course, after watching this as a child I decided that I had to see everything Michael J. Fox was in.  His character, Marty McFly, was so likable and Fox was such a good actor. 

I never was hooked on Fox as Alex P. Keaton...mostly because I was one of the few people that never watched Family Ties.  I know, I'm weird.  Or maybe it's the fact that the show ran from 1982 until 1989 and I was everything from a toddler to a grade-schooler in that time?  Perhaps that's a good reason...

Regardless, I decided that my next nonfiction set of books should be Fox's memoirs.  Here's the first one, Lucky Man.  David and I listened to this audiobook on our last trip to Kansas City to watch the Chiefs game. 

David was really not excited to listen to this audiobook, but quickly got "in" to it after a few short chapters.  The book outlines Fox's life through 2003.  Everything from Family Ties to Back to the Future to Spin City is discussed as well as his parents, his wife and children and even his drinking binges... 

The book starts out with Fox waking up to his first morning of the beginnings of Parkinson's.  This being an uncontrollably trembling pinkie finger after a night out on the town with Woody Harrelson.  From there Fox flashes back outlining how he became the person he currently was and gradually moves forward from that point throughout the book.  The book ends with Fox determined to find a cure for Parkinson's within the next decade.

I thought this was a very well-written memoir and I can't wait to read his second, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  It might be a bit...David has insisted on listening to it with me as well, so it's saved for our next roadtrip.  Be looking for part two of this post!

P.S. Fox has released another book recently (this year) that's titled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future.  This might be a good read too!

PW BBQ/Comfort Meatballs

I recently tried out a Pioneer Woman recipe and just want to share how fabulous it was.  David is a big fan of BBQ meatballs and when I said I was making PW's Comfort Meatballs his first question was, "Are they BBQ?"  Of course, when I said "No, according to the recipe they're called 'comfort meatballs'." David immediately came back with, "I prefer my meatballs uncomfortable."  Hardy har har. 

I'll give you a moment to recover from my husband's sense of humor.

Better now?

It turns out, these taste like BBQ and when I went to snip the link off her website, they're called BBQ meatballs.  So, if you have her cookbook, look for 'Comfort Meatballs' and if you look on her website, look for "BBQ Meatballs.'  Same great recipe.  These will definitely be a repeat around this house.  Here's the link.


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