Thursday, January 31, 2013

These is my Words

These is my Words suffers from what I might call UCS...or ugly cover syndrome.  I've had this book in my book club to-read pile for a while and I just haven't wanted to pick it up for that reason.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but it's just really hard sometimes.  Then, add to that the title...I don't care if you are trying to make a point by using improper English, you're still not going to grab me with it.  Maybe that's a little bit of my OCD coming out?

The premise of this book is that it's a diary for Sarah Prine, who lived during the settling of the Arizona Territories.  Sarah Prine's story is inspired by the real life Sarah, who was the great-grandmother of the author, Nancy Turner.  Sarah is a rather spunky character and is actually compared to Scarlett O'Hara in one of the reviews on the cover.  Hello, this should be right up my alley, right?

This story was a little slow for me in the beginning.  However, about 50-100 pages in, I really started to enjoy learning about Sarah's misadventures, especially her fiery descriptions of correspondence and conversations with Captain Jack Elliot (her future husband).  The two spare comically.  It's also fascinating to read about the different struggles and triumphs Sarah and those close to her experienced during this time frame.

After completing the book, I read Turner's blurb about writing it, in the back.  I had really hoped that there was a real-life journal and that Turner had spiced things up, because I knew this was classified as a historical fiction novel. But, because there just wasn't a lot of information about Sarah, Turner instead took a few facts and started to write a story surrounding this character of her great-grandmother.  Most of the historical elements are true (including the battles and military negotiations) however, a lot of the "guts" of the story are not.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a little disappointed there wasn't more history and less fiction in this story...

And I'll be honest and say that this story kind of irritated me in the end...however, I know that Turner molded the ending around a historically accurate event.  But, for me the middle of this book, where Jack is attempting to court Sarah in his own way, were my favorite parts.  I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars and would probably recommend it, if you're into historical fiction.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Between Sisters

I've written a few reviews on Kristin Hannah books and I've noticed a least for myself.  I either absolutely love them and think they're the greatest thing ever.  Or I just feel kinda "meh" about them.  I'll explain the premise of this one before I give you my review.

This story is about two half-sisters (duh!) who are as different as night and day.  They share a mother who, really, should never have been a mother.  There's a pretty sizable age difference between the two, so Meghann (the eldest) has a bit of a mother-type relationship with Claire (the youngest).  At a certain point in their childhood, when their mother absentmindedly "forgets" about them, Meghann finds and calls Claire's father.  He immediately scoops the two up and attempts to raise them both.  However, Meghann butts heads with him and runs off...because he thinks he knows best (and not her) and he's not Meghann's real father.

Fast forward 20+ years and Meghann is an über successful divorce attorney in Seattle and Claire manages a small-town resort in Hayden, a few hours away.  The sisters have a stiff relationship that consists mostly of periodic phone calls.  However, there is a longing for their old "thick as thieves" relationship...though neither tells the other of their desire.

Suddenly, there's a traumatic incident that occurs in Meghann's work life, causing her to take a forced vacation.  And Meghann ends up deciding to visit Hayden since, coincidence...her sister, Claire, has decided to up and marry a wannabe country and western singer after only knowing him a short, short, short time.  With Meghann being a divorce attorney, this goes over super well when Claire tells her.

The rest of this book entails the bond the two sisters attempt to re-establish (with difficulty) and, of course, there's a little extra drama thrown in there.  You're also immediately introduced to a male side-story (Joe) that will eventually intersect the sisters' plot later on down the road. And Joe ends up having a pretty substantial effect.

::sigh::  I really love Kristin Hannah's writing, but this one just wasn't my favorite.  I felt that this book ended up being very predictable and maudlin.  In a way, I felt that Nicholas Sparks could have written this...and usually Kristin Hannah is less predictable and better at prompting emotions out of me.  There were also a few scenes that I found unrealistic. 

For example, there's a scene where Claire goes in for her yearly pap a doctor who happens to be one of her best friend's dad.  Ummm...I'm all about keeping business within friends and family.  In fact, one of my best friend's mom is a realtor here in Tulsa and she's the realtor we used to buy our house.  But, I draw the line at showing one of my friend's dad my girly business.  Maybe I feel this way because I didn't grow up in a small town where everyone knows everyone else?  I don't know, but just I didn't buy that scene.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars because it is a "good" book, but if I were to recommend a Kristin Hannah book for someone, it probably wouldn't be this one.  Solid good, just not great.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baby Blanket

As you already know, if you read my blog somewhat regularly, I've learned to crochet within the past year.  And I've mostly been experimenting with hats and scarves, to date.  However, I have a couple of friends who are pregnant right now.  So, I decided that it was time to tackle a baby blanket.  This was my first "big" project and I absolutely love how it turned out. 

My friend, Lindsey, is having a boy (baby Jack) and her nursery theme was reds and blues with sports equipment (i.e. footballs).  So, I decided on a lighter blue...not quite a pastel. 

Molly even decided she liked it...or she was just tired of me taking pictures of it and not her...either way, I like this pic!

Now, it's time for me to tackle my friend, Laura's, blanket.  I haven't yet decided if I'll use the same pattern or try another cute design that I've found recently...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you have a fantastic weekend and that you enjoy my favorite pins of the past couple weeks!

Of course, the obligatory book pins...

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Yummy foods I must make soon...

And finally, some crochet projects that are being tacked on to my fast-growing queue...

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fridge Raider

While I was eating my lunch today The Chew was on and their topic for the day was, "Fridge Raiders."  I don't watch this show everyday and actually rarely make their recipes.  I have tried to in the past and David doesn't typically care for them, for whatever reason.  However, I do love to hear what statistics and tips the crew shares, so if it happens to be on at the optimal time for me...score.

Today they focused on how the average American has moldy food in their fridge right now (ewww) and how they, the chefs, could help you make a full meal without letting those delicious foods you already have spoil.  Well, I thought it'd be fun to share what my fridge looks like.  It's almost always full and I have to say that, unfortunately, a lot of times there is a spoiled food hidden in there somewhere.  In fact, right now I've got a couple avocados that got beyond that "perfect" point in my basket on the counter, so they've been relegated to the fridge to slow down that ripening process...I'll be eating them on up within the next 24-48 hours so they don't fully spoil.

I will say, obviously, I keep other grocery items in my two freezers.  Including almost all of our meat.  Unless I'm making it that day, all meat is kept frozen.  So, don't think we're vegetarians around here just by looking at the know my husband has to have his meat!

I'll give a quick and dirty summary of what you're seeing here, working in a clockwise fashion from the top right. 

Right top shelf:
  • G2 bottles (gotta have my gym beverages)
  • opened tomato paste can
  • Molly's wet dog food can
  • maple syrup
Right second shelf:
  • hummus
  • opened pumpkin can
  • peeled and sliced cucumbers
  • butter
  • lemon curd (it's delicious ya'll, try it out)
  • Greek yogurt
  • regular yeast and yeast for our bread maker
Right third shelf:
  • eggs
  • lettuce
  • spinach (tucked behind)
Right under third shelf:
  • green onions
  • parsley
  • rhubarb (yay for rhubarb season!!)
Right first drawer:
  • baby carrots
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • more green onions (separated from the others, so I know which is older)
Right bottom drawer:
  • full-size carrots
  • cucumbers
Left bottom drawer:
  •  various cheeses including: Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, cream and monterey jack
Left first drawer:
  • a grapple
  • Bartlett pears
  • Honeycrisp apples
  • lemons
  • aforementioned avocados
Left main shelf:
  • OJ
  • tea
  • 1% milk
  • mushrooms
  • three containers of leftovers including two of Italian meatball soup (PW's recipe) and a pasta dish from Pinterest
Left second shelf:
  • corn and flour tortillas
  • whole wheat hamburger buns
  • salmon rolls (impulse buy at the grocery store that I haven't decided is worthy of a repeat)
Left top shelf:
  • whole wheat bread
  • whole wheat hotdog buns
  • coleslaw mix

Right door contents:
  • butter
  • mayo
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • green olives
  • crescent rolls
  • pickle relish
  • seafood stock
  • chicken broth
  • ketchup
  • spicy mustand
  • BBQ sauce
  • Diet Dr. Pepper and Coke Zero for when either of my parents visit

Left door contents:

  • Caesar dressing x2 (one's almost empty, obviously)
  • Ranch dressing
  • coleslaw dressing
Whatcha think?  Is my fridge similar in contents to yours?  Do you have more spoiled food or less (zero)?  Is there anything in my fridge that surprised you?  What would you suggest I add for everyday living?  Is there something in my fridge that makes you want to go out and buy it now?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Orange Coconut Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Do you remember a long, long, long time ago when I told you about how David brought home a big ol' bag of oranges from a work trip?  They were ripening...or you could say  So, I made quick work of them, concocting a handful of recipes.  David doesn't like anything orange-flavored except OJ.  Even just regular ol' oranges.  He's weird.  He also doesn't like tomatoes...but, that's a blog post for another day.

What does one do with a bag full of super-ripe oranges when you're the only one in the house that'll eat 'em?  I already shared with you my first recipe, which was pretty darn good.  For a refresher, click here.  Here's my second orange experiment:

Orange Coconut Cupcakes
adapted from How Sweet It Is

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup freshly squeeze orange juice
zest of 5 oranges
1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line cupcake pans with liners. (Or not, I didn't...just spray your pans well)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is incorporated. Add orange juice and zest.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. 

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Let cool, then frost with below recipe.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
also from How Sweet It Is

1 stick butter
2 8oz blocks of cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
1 - 1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add 1/2 of powdered sugar, then add orange juice and zest. Add the remaining powdered sugar.

You may need more or less depending on consistency.

Optional: top with toasted coconut. 

As you can see, I put toasted coconut on some, but not others.  The cupcakes are good both just depends on whether or not you feel like babysitting the coconut under the broiler for a few minutes and dipping the frosted cupcakes into it for that extra effort.  It's worth that extra loveliness, but I wouldn't say it's a necessity.

OMG, these are super delicious.  These pics are from when I first made them.  But, after scarfing a couple fresh, I froze the rest in freezer bags. 

I had a hankering for a tasty dessert yesterday evening and decided to grab a couple out of the freezer.  I may or may not have had two for dessert last night and another two for dessert at lunch today...seriously, once you grab them out of the bag and sit them on the counter for about 20-30 minutes.  Yum. 

They're even good still a little cold from thawing out...I found that out today. 

Try 'em, you won't be disappointed.  That is, unless you don't like orange or coconut.  And if that's the case, you're just weird.  Haha, just kidding...maybe. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Age of Innocence & Ethan Frome

I recently bought a historical fiction book about Edith Wharton that I've been wanting to read...The Age of Desire, if you're curious.  However, before I read it, I wanted to read a little bit of Edith Wharton's work for some background information.  So, I picked up The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome recently.  Really, I was just planning on reading The Age of Innocence because my SIL bought it for me for Christmas, but when I was finished I wanted another quick read and Ethan Frome is less than 200 pages.  How's that for quick?

What's funny is the similarities in these two stories.  The Age of Innocence's protagonist, Newland, struggles with his amorous feelings that develop for his fiancee/wife's cousin, the Countess Olenska.  Initially, Newland doesn't really want anything to do with the Countess Olenska other than helping his future wife's family welcome her into New York society.  The countess wants a divorce from her husband and the family is diligently attempting to dissuade her.  One of Newland's associates at work (he's a lawyer) ends up requesting that he, Newland, be the one to bring home to Countess Olenska that it would be such a poor decision.  And it works.

The majority of this novel explores the societal norms of New York society, especially the scandal a divorce could bring, but it also largely is a story of unrequited love.  Newland and the countess never fully consummate their relationship once the mutual feelings of love are shared between them.  In fact, I think Newland's wife is rather clever in how she manages to separate them...but, you'll have to read the book to find out how she does it.

Ethan Frome is very similar to The Age of Innocence in that while Ethan is married to Zeena, he falls in love with her cousin, Mattie, who has come to live with them because she is unmarried and Zeena is so sickly.  Therefore, Mattie attempts to clean and cook while carrying for her never-satisfied, hypochondriac cousin.  This story is a tragic story of unrequited love because in the end, all three are living together in despair.  In an attempt at dual suicide, on the night that Zeena has banished Mattie, Ethan and Mattie purposefully crash into an elm tree causing Mattie to be paralyzed and Ethan partially so, causing a permanent limp.  How perfectly horrific and sad...definitely a tragedy.

I'm currently reading The House of Mirth and once I've finished it, I'll probably eventually pick up The Age of Desire.  However, at this point I'm wondering if Edith Wharton had a real-life incident where her short-lived marriage to husband, Edward Wharton, had a "thing" for one of her cousins...

Monday, January 21, 2013


I was a little MIA last week because I've been working on a couple crochet projects that I tried my hardest to finish before the weekend.  Well, it didn't work out...Friday night was book club and the first (birthday present) item I forgot at home and the second just didn't get completed (darn it!).  So!  This week both will be done and I'll post pics...until then, you'll just have to sit on pins and needles waiting.

In the meantime, I thought I'd catch you up a little on my reading.  I finished the Matched trilogy last week with Reached.

It seems like my book club has been waiting for this third installment forever.  Part of this is because we're so torn on how the first two have panned out...Matched is phenomenal.  Wonderful.  Seriously love this little YA novel.  Crossed...meh.  This book, literally, could have been written in 30 pages or less.  When you have two books that are so dissimilar in quality it makes you leery of continuing the series. 

The premise of these books is that Cassia lives in a futuristic society where everything is determined for you.  Who you marry, what your job is, when you die, what you eat, how much you exercise, where you live.  Everything.  On her "matching ceremony" night there is a glitch and she sees two men on her pod.  One initially, then the second.  Which one is the correct match for her? 

Throughout the books you follow Cassia and her two love interests, Xander and Ky, through this maze of dystopian society.  The three break free from their constraints and work for the uprising of this all-too-controlling hierarchy. 

Honestly, Reached was fine.  That's about all I can're not surprised about who Cassia picks for her love interest in the end and the story finishes well.  Not great, but well.  There isn't this big, fabulous, never-been-thought-of-before ending that comes at you from nowhere.  And that's OK.  If I were to rank these books by their likeability I'd say 1) Matched, 2) Reached and 3) Crossed.  If you've already read Matched, I'd say finish the series because they're worth finishing up the story.  But, if you haven't...I'm not 100% sure I'd recommend this series.  The movie rights have been purchased long ago and depending on how well they turn out, I might just recommend that instead.

P.S. Yay, I get to mark off another book from my NY Resolutions list!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Life in France

I recently finished My Life in France, an autobiography by Julia Child.  This book was gifted to me by a friend who knew I loved to cook and read, so it was a pretty thoughtful gift.  But, for the most part I'm not a big fan of French food nor have I ever tried a Julia Child recipe.  Haha, I guess that seems a little weird, no?

As I began this book, it was mostly because it had worked it's way to the top of my to-read pile and I needed a non-fiction for my rotation.  It wasn't necessarily because I was dying to read about Julia Child.  But, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I've always been a little intimidated by Julia Child's recipes...and her.

Let me start in the beginning, this book starts out with a little background surrounding Julia and her husband, Paul, (how they met, got married, their siblings and families, etc....) and launches right into their move to France, which was determined via his job.  Julia immediately fell in love with French food and began attempting to learn how to cook.  Being a mediocre American cook to begin with, there were some humorous excerpts that included Paul's commentary on experimental meals.

Once Julia was able to hurdle the initial difficulties of preparing a meal, things went rather fast.  She details her time at the Cordon Bleu and a vast excerpt of the book is her collaboration with two French cooks in the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  For a while there, I thought that was going to be the bulk of this book, but don't worry because it isn't.

The entire purpose of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to give the average American cook simple instructions on how to cook French food.  It was amazing to read how many times Julia would test out a recipe, make sure the ingredients were available in the average American supermarket, etc.  Her real goal was to make it so that you could enjoy delicious French cooking (obviously her favorite type of food) anywhere in America. 

While this book wasn't my favorite, I still enjoyed it greatly.  I have a whole new view of Julia Child and might even consider picking up one of her cookbooks the next time I'm looking for one.  I feel kind of bad that I was intimidated by her cooking for so long when her goal was to provide exactly the opposite kind of persona.  Ah well, live and learn!

Monday, January 14, 2013

World Without End

The title of this book seems kind of funny to me, considering that we just completed the year in which many people thought the world would end.  I finished this book last week and it was one that I literally hugged a little when I closed the cover for the last time.

I probably should give a little background about this book before I go very much farther.  This is the second book in a series of two.  The original book, The Pillars of the Earth, I finished a while back...and absolutely loved it.  Both of these books are doozies, clocking in at over 1,000 pages each.  So, these aren't books that you'd pick up casually and finish just as cavalierly. 

The Pillars of the Earth takes place in the 1100s and the story surrounds the building of a cathedral.  You learn all the ins and outs and minute details of the lives of the mason, future-prior and numerous other characters.  There are, literally, 10-20 major characters involved in the setting of this wonderful story.  In the end, the cathedral has been built and you are left in a very satisfied state as to the outcome of all of the main characters' present situations. 

Apparently, this book was published in 1989 and for years readers have requested a sequel to this fantastic book.  Finally, in 2007 Ken Follett granted everyone's request in World Without End.  But, this is more of a sort-of sequel in that it takes place 200 years later in the same town of Kingsbridge, the town in which this colossal cathedral was built.

In many ways, I'm glad that Follett did this.  It was very interesting to me to read how the townspeople positively viewed the characters of the first book, because they were their ancestors.  Having known all the characters from the previous book, you're aware of their flaws and faults along with their noble accomplishments and enviably good qualities.  It made me think, "Wow, this is how we view our ancestors, such as Washington, Lincoln, Franklin, Jefferson, etc."  Only the "good" qualities are shared (for the most part), so people today tend to view them in starry-eyed wonder.  It really made me think!

Minus that little snip-it of historical theme, World Without End follows four children who are united in one single scene that occurs in the opening pages of the book.  Each child's reaction to this scene determines the path in which their life will then, forever, lead them.  I loved the setting of this story, the characters, Follett's writing style...pretty much everything about this book, I guess you could say.  One thing I seriously enjoy about Follett's style of writing is that it's so realistic.  Everything that occurs is definitely something that could have happened; I feel many times that unless I knew this was historical fiction I might wonder if this truly did happen.  Needless to say I highly recommend both books, but I almost want to say that I liked the second better.  However, it might just be that I've finished it so much more recently and it's still fresh in my mind. 

I will mention that I encouraged my MIL to pick up Pillars of the Earth...and she hated it, didn't even try to finish it.  And the one reason that she gave me was, "it's just too violent."  These books take place in the 12th and 14th centuries.  Life was hard back then and there was much violence, including sword fights, rapes and other unpleasantries.  I won't sugar-coat it, these books both have violent scenes.  But, being one with a severely queasy disposition, I can tell you that I didn't have a problem one with most of these scenes.  And it definitely didn't effect me enough to quit reading.

When I went to do a little research on a pic for this post, I found that both books have been made into television mini-series!  World Without End was just recently released, in fact.  I've already order Pillars of the Earth on my Netflix queue...I hope it doesn't disappoint (both series have 4+/5 star ratings), but we shall see!

I hope you pick these up because I love them so, but if you don't I'd understand.  Committing yourself to 2,000+ pages can be quite a commitment!  But, I promise it's worth it in the end!

*Bonus: this is book 1 completed on my resolution to read all of my own to-read pile!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday everyone!  I thought I'd mix it up a little this week.  I haven't done a recipe post in a while, so instead of incorporating my favorite pins of just this past week, I thought I'd share some of my foodie pins that I have actually tried out.  Kind of a Friday Funday Foodie edition.  Below each pin is my mini review of each!  Enjoy and have a fantastic weekend!

These are a super simple crock pot meal, but they are a tad least for this household.  We love our spicy Mexican food around here!  The second time I attempted these I threw in some extra spices and even served them with some sliced avocado, which helped a lot!

This recipe is so, so, so, so delicious!  I'm a HUGE pork tenderloin fan and this recipe brings out all that yummy flavor.  Definitely give this one a try!

This soup is super good, David gave it a thumbs up.  But, I can only get away with this as a side, as long as there's a protein alongside, we're good!

I made this for Christmas and it was really just OK.  A tiny bit bland, so I probably won't be making it again with so many other tasty breakfast recipes in my repertoire.

I made these with eggs, some bell pepper from our garden and B&G sausage from my friend's kiddo's fundraiser.  Yummo and so easy to make!  You just need to allot some time to prepare and freeze...worth the effort!

Been making this topping for my ol' banana bread recipe and I love the change.  I still make it without, but it's always fun to mix things up!

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

I actually tried these out last night!  Super delicious, but a little labor intensive and messy to make.  I think I know now how to be a little more careful in preparation...I'll definitely be making these again!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review Catch-Up

I've read a few books since my last review posting, so I thought I'd catch up a bit today.  The first book I'll share is Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species.  This book was my idea of killing two birds with one's non-fiction and a classic.  But, I'm afraid the excitement ends there, as you can probably guess.  This book is terribly dry with a few snippets of fascinating facts spread out here and there.  It's quite easy to get in a bit of a trance while reading (or listening as I did) to this book.  Most of the facts listed within are taught in your high school biology class, but I will admit that it was interesting to hear how Darwin came to separate conclusions.  He really did a ton of experiments and observed different species throughout his life, making this book a lifelong work.  I like being able to say that I've actually sat down and read this book, rather than having just learning the gist in high school, but I won't be picking it up for a reread any time soon.  Unless I'm in a mood to fall

My next book was Daniel Silva's The Rembrandt Affair.  This book was the last book I had yet to read from my library book sale purchase a few years ago.  Can you tell how bad my reading queue is if I'm reading books I bought years ago?  Hence, one of my resolutions this year...

I suppose you could say that I toyed with the idea of reading mysteries when I made that bulk purchase, considering almost all of them were mysteries.  Each of the previous I didn't particularly care for, but this one was actually quite good.  I liked Daniel Silva's writing style and it kept me guessing.  There were even a few Daniel Silva books in the clearance section at Barnes & Noble the other day that I considered picking up because of my experience with this book.  But, the last thing I need right now is another book in my, alas I left them for another consumer to grab.

If you're into mysteries, I would recommend this book.  The story surrounds a newly discovered Rembrandt painting that has a dark past involving it in WWII atrocities.  This book is actually part of a series where Gabriel Allon is always the protagonist.  I really liked Allon, he has a little bit of the Bond flavor only with more realism.  Overall, this book was a solid three out of five stars for me.  I liked it, didn't love it, but I enjoyed the experience and felt fully entertained.  And like I inferred earlier, I'd read more Silva in the future.

Next up is a book I purchased a while ago because one of David's aunts said that her daughter was encouraging her to read it.  It comes from the author of Water for Elephants, one of my favorite books of all time, Sara Gruen.  That book is Ape House.

This fictional story follows two main characters, scientist Isabel Duncan and journalist John Thigpen.  In the opening scene John is visiting Isabel's language lab to interview her and the bonobo apes who have learned American Sign Language.  John is writing a story on the groundbreaking research this lab is preforming and leaves the premises eager to write his article (with an irritating partner that you soon learn to loathe). 

Shortly after John and his crew leave the lab is broken into with an explosion, severely injuring Isabel and freeing the bonobo apes.  While Isabel is in the hospital recovering from a concussion and numerous plastic surgery operations, including dental implants, the bonobo apes disappear.  To Isabel's horror, the university has sold them in an attempt to prevent any further threats of violence from the would-be attackers.  No one really knows who set the bomb off, but one group has threateningly claimed it.

The rest of this novel surrounds Isabel trying to come to grips with her injuries, find out who she is, whether or not she wants to continue a weak romantic relationship and, above all, find the apes.  John also struggles with a hard time in his marriage, job problems and his desire to finish up this ape story that he feels emotionally attached to. 

In a weird twist, the bonobo apes show up on a reality television show entitled, Ape House.  Hence, the title of the book.  The show is owned by a Hugh Hefner-type that is eager to exploit the sexual habits of the bonobos as well as their everyday activities (which are very human-like, truly).

I really enjoyed this book.  Was it as good as Water for, not quite.  But, I still highly, highly recommend it because it was wonderful, especially if you're an animal lover like me.  One thing I found absolutely fascinating was that in her acknowledgments, Gruen explains her research and experience in writing this book.  The first encounter she had with the apes she met in real life is mirrored in John's first encounter with the bonobos in the book.  And Gruen said she can't wait to go back and spend more time with them.  How wonderful is that?

My reading lately has leaned more towards fiction, simply because of the vast amount of my to-read pile.  But, hopefully within the next year I can still keep my regular rotation going while also making progress with my resolution!  Which, by the way, I have added a tab for.  I'll strike through each book as I read it and you can follow me in my progress throughout the year.  Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Funday

Here are my favorite pins of the past couple weeks, to wrap up this week!  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Crochet to-do list is growing exponentially!

Some great quote pins:

This is sooooo Molly.
Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

This is so true, even when you're only an hour and a half down the road!
Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Story of my life.

Want...must have.
Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Like I foreshadowed in my last post, I wasn't able to blog for Christmas...or, as it turned out, for New Year's either.  This time of year is so hectic and the time for fellowshipping with friends and family lasted even longer than ever. 

This year was the first year that David and I attempted to host Christmas.  So, David's family drove in on Christmas Eve and my father drove in as well.  We had some nasty weather predicted and while my mom and step-dad as well as my aunt and grandma were going to come as just didn't work out.  My step-dad had a nasty cold (remember the one I mentioned getting earlier...yea, that one), so it was best for them to stay home.  Then, the dangerous weather managed to keep my aunt and grandma in Norman on Christmas Day.  No worries, we still had a fantastic time in this Tulsa household...which got zero bad weather, mind you.  It all managed to stay south of us.

Funnily enough, I had planned on setting two tables (dining room and breakfast nook) and only had to set one.  This made it easier to fellowship and I really enjoyed preparing and serving the meal (though my MIL and SIL did their fair share of helping in the kitchen).  I really went all out and served the meal on our china, crystal serving pieces and we ate with family silver that I managed to get earlier this year.  Kudos to my BIL who helped hand wash those items too, so it wasn't just the ladies cleaning up.

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures (I can't imagine why since I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off) and afterwards David told me he was so impressed that he thought our table and the meal looked like something out of Good Housekeeping.  Maybe next year I'll slow down and remember to take some pictures.  But, I wouldn't have changed a second of the whole experience.  You regular blog-readers know I love to cook and I absolutely love spending time with, what could be better for me than this experience?  Nothing.  Though, I will say that I was completely and totally exhausted after everyone left...I had no idea how long I'd been going, going, going and going until I actually sat down 5 minutes after my in-laws drove off.  Phew!

After all of the Christmas hullabaloo was complete and everyone went home, my brother and his family ventured up from Florida.  I was so excited to see the lot, considering the fact that I hadn't seen them in four years!  Yes, four years.  It is so hard to see family (even siblings!) that live states away, especially when they're military and are constantly either on the move, deployed and whatnot.  Regardless, it was so refreshing to see them again. 

Their last day in Oklahoma they drove up to stay with David and I.  I really enjoyed their visit both in Oklahoma City and up in brother, SIL and I stayed up until one o'clock in the morning chatting and enjoying each other's company.  It was wonderful, I so wish they lived closer!

I did manage to snag a pic of our nuclear family minus my sister (who lives near DC) and her family.  I really wanted this for Dad and he was so tickled to get a picture of 2/3 of his family, all in one shot. brother and I don't look aaaaanything like my dad, now do we? 

OK, so my brother and his crew left, today is the first day I've had where there wasn't some sort of friend or family gathering (or us hosting someone).  I managed to get all our Christmas decorations put away (minus what David has to do for me) and now I'm finally sitting back down to catch up on reading blogs and catch my own blog up with this post. 

So, what does most everyone do this time of year (actually a few days ago)?  Resolutions!  I thought I'd share my resolutions with you.  I only have five, but each of them I am going to take seriously.
  1. Read 100 books within 2013.  I read 87 this past year, but in 2011 I did manage to read exactly 100.  I'd like to get back up to 100, but I'm going to blame Les Misérables for my short-comings this past year...that doozy of a book should count for at least five.
  2. Read 12 classics within 2013.  I managed to do that this past year, but only just barely.
  3. Read all of the books I currently own at home in my to-read pile...that's 53 books...over half of my reading goal for the whole year.  I have a really bad habit of reading books that are circulated in book club or that other friends recommend...and I don't read the ones I already own and are sitting at home patiently waiting for me.  Hopefully I can fulfill this resolution, but honestly, it's the one I'm most worried that I won't be able to stick to in the end.  We'll see.  I will not count any books I purchase for myself or are gifted to me from this date forward.  At some point, I think I might add a tab above to monitor my better way to fulfill a goal than to shame yourself into publicly displaying your progress, right?
  4. Lose enough weight to fit into both my favorite pants and David's favorite pair on me.  Both pairs of these pants I could wear prior to quitting my desk job and us moving to San Antonio.  I won't list a number because I don't feel there's a specific number I'm aiming for, I just prefer for the clothes I most enjoy to fit again.  I already go to the gym 3-4 days per week, but I need to step up my game both there and within the kitchen.  More cardio and less sweets!
  5. This one's kinda personal, but hey this is my personal blog.  So, without further not smell like a gym rat when David comes home for lunch on weekdays.  I'm really bad about still being in my sweaty gym clothes when David comes home for lunch (he eats with me most every workday) if I've gone to the gym that morning.  In my previous resolution, I've already told you that I go to the gym at least 3 days per week.  My goal for the new year is for my husband to see me clean and dressed both at lunch time and when he comes home from work...not just in the evenings.
Did you make resolutions?  And if so, what were they?


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