April 25, 2011

Shelter Me

It's that time again, boys and girls, for another book to share.  To be fair, I've read quite a few since the last one I shared, but none have really struck me as awesome.

But, Shelter Me by Juliette Fay seems to fit the bill as one some of you might enjoy.  The reader reviews over at Amazon give it four and a half stars out of five.  So it seems that I'm not the only one who has enjoyed this author's first (but surely not the last) novel.

This is the story of a young widow, with two very small children, and it follows her life through nearly a year after losing her husband.

The tale picks up about four months after her husband dies when she is stunned to discover that her husband had a final gift for her; a porch that he had contracted to be done before he was killed in an accident.  This porch, which she reluctantly allows to go forth begins to open her back up to life.  The life she has been hiding from since the accident.

This is a rich and complex story.  One that will have you spending every waking moment possible reading it; as my family can certainly attest as they were ignored for hours on end yesterday and again this morning as I couldn't wait to finish this book - which totally explains the random tweet that went out early this afternoon about it being time to get dressed and start the day.  Yes, the book was that engrossing.  I couldn't stop to even get dressed or think about doing anything else until I finished it.

This book is a look into how our lives intersect with those who surround us and how, sometimes even people we think we don't like or have nothing in common with are the very ones who might save us from ourselves.

This tale also serves as a reminder that no matter what, we can't get through the dark times alone - and that even if we don't reach out and ask for help our loved ones will surely be there to guide us back out into the light.

As an added bonus, the author gives a few recipes at the end of the book for some Pology cakes; which are mentioned throughout the book and which are defined as follows (text taken directly from the book and on Juliette Fay's website here, with permission):

"No single apology could ever fit the countless circumstances in which we humans seem to find ourselves hurting each other. In fact, the words themselves don’t often seem to matter so much as the sincerity of delivery, and conveying the trueness of our feelings is as individual as our thumbprints. Accordingly, no one recipe for Pology Cake could ever suit every situation. It is incumbent upon the Pologizer to determine what kind of baked good best communicates the message. So, bake responsibly, but more importantly, bake sincerely."

I love the idea of Pology Cakes!  As you can imagine, the heroine of this story is justifiably angry and, as a result, has to deliver a few Pology Cakes of her own.  The recipes that Juliette Fay shares look very yummy and I will definitely be trying a few myself...hopefully just for the yummy-ness and not as an apology.

So if you are looking for a really good book, then go find this one.  Also keep an eye out for her next one, Deep Down True, which according to the website should be on the shelves now.  I know I'll be looking for it.

April 19, 2011

The Difference Between *Clicks* and *Slams* and emotional satisfactio

I'm sure I've written a rant or two about technology before.....

Yes, me.  The one who is addicted to her Blackberry and her laptop....yes, the same one who would die (literally) without her *connection*.....

Yes, I "am" a bit old-fashioned that way.....

But I feel another (mini) rant coming on.

I was just reading (a book!  A real live book!  With pages and everything.  Tis a wondrous thing - you should try it) (also, this particular book *might* end up being reviewed and added to the Books I Love Enough To Tell You About tab....maybe) (and as a side note; don't you think that tab title might be *just* a tad too long? Any and all ideas are welcome, of course) and in this book there was a passage that struck me odd.

Something about a character who was standing on the sidewalk making a call.  Obviously from his cell phone (because *hello!* what is a pay phone?? Even Man-Child has never even seen one; much less used one!) - as I surmised from the way the passage was written (and really? How much do they even charge for a call these days? I have a feeling it's much more than a quarter....).  And when he finished the conversation he "slammed the phone down."


Just *how* do you "slam" a cell phone down?

You can't.

Unless you violently fling the phone to ground.

But seriously?  Are you going to fling that phone (that is quite pricey; and you didn't buy the insurance package, your subconscious reminds you.....) to the ground in utter disgust (which may, or may not, actually terminate the call anyway?).

Which brings me to my point....

Just *how* can you let the person on the other end of the line realize just how aggravated you are with them?

The best you can do is stab at the off button with an *angry* click; which, in my opinion, sounds pretty much the same as a regular click.

I'm sorry - but even an angry *click* does not convey the same sense of emotion as a *slam.*

Where is the emotional satisfaction of *slamming* the phone down and saying "So THERE! You arrogant SOB?

I've been known; a time or two (or six hundred) to do the stabbing at the off button - the feeling just isn't the same.

Just sayin'.......

April 18, 2011

Questions and Answers

Brighton Mum-Teenage Angst has tagged me in a lovely game of Q&A.  Well, this should be fun.  Only you have to decide....is she (she being me, of course) telling the truth? Hmmmmm.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Ouch!  A hard one to start out on; now isn't it?  There are a lot of people I admire for various traits.  

When were you happiest?
I would have to say when Man-Child was a little guy.  He was so sweet and cuddly.  

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Quite possibly, that would be first grade.  With only 5 minutes of class left, I had to go to the bathroom.  Sister Susan refused.  You can imagine the results.  You can also imagine the teasing for the next few years.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Trying to decide what is considered "property?"   I can tell you that the most expensive "whim" that was bought was a piece of marble that hubby thought would make a fine table of some sort.  Which is still sitting in the trunk of my car...... five years later.  Remind me to tell you about the time I went to Myrtle Beach with a girlfriend and we had to change the tire and couldn't because we couldn't move that damn piece of marble! Ended up calling Triple A.  Okay, so maybe that's the whole story after all.

What is your most treasured possession?
Do shoes count?  If not, then Man-Child.  (What do you mean that people don't count???  They do!!  He's mine!)

Where would you like to live?
If you've read this blog for any amount of time then you should know that would be a beach somewhere.  But a special beach.  One that is immune to oil spills and natural disasters of any kind.

What’s your favourite smell?
Freshly bathed babies are always nice.  And vanilla.  I love vanilla.  And the beach.  The beach has that "special" smell; doesn't it?

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Who wouldn't want to play me??  

What is your favorite book?
Now this one is just not fair!  I read far too many books to have a favorite.  But if you insist on backing me into a corner, I'd have to say Little Women.  Do you know how many times I've read, and re-read, this book?   Yes, even as an adult.  And of course, there is any Steven King novel.....or Jodi Picoult......or Dean Koontz.......or Maeve Binchy.....or......see???  I've only just begun and already I've created a list.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I plead the 5th.  As far as you know, I have NO bad habits.  I'd like to keep it that way.  Thank you.  As far as you know, I am PERFECT.  Let's keep it that way.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Something that would be seen on the red carpet - with the body to match - with gorgeous shoes (of course).

What is your earliest memory?
Falling out of the car.  Luckily at a stop light.  And even more lucky, that the car behind us didn't run me over.  Needless to say, my mother was mighty upset with my dad for letting us sit in the car while he went into the store; which meant that my brother and I got in and out of the car while he was gone.  Meaning, I didn't close the door properly....hence me falling out while leaning on the door. (Obviously, this was pre-car seats and seatbelt laws....dammit! I just dated myself!  Forget everything you just read.  I'm really only 29!  I swear!)

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
The obvious answer would be chocolate and wine.  But really? I think the guiltiest pleasure would be lounging in a hot bath with a good book.  And some chocolate and wine.

What do you owe your parents?
This one is a real struggle.  Although, I'm sure I owe them plenty; I currently can fail to see it.  Maybe perseverance?  Because I've overcome a lot.  And surely, the heart to do so had to come from somewhere.  Hmmm, this would be an interesting question to ask Man-Child.  Now, five years from now, and so on. He'd better have MUCH better answers!

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Probably my Hubby.  He had NO idea what he was getting into.  Even though I warned him.....so technically, he brought it on himself since he didn't believe me.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My son.  My life would be an empty, barren place without him; especially now that I've had the pleasure of knowing him.

What does love feel like?

What was the best kiss of your life?
Getting a bit personal now, aren't we?  Hell if I know.  My memory is shot.  So I will have to go with the big sloppy kisses from that little guy (aka Man-Child).

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Are your freakin' kidding me????!!  

What is the worst job you’ve done?
An insurance company.  Hands down the worst.  Mainly because it was a sucky job and because I was never properly trained.  As a result?  There may have been agents out there in the early 90's who were certified when they shouldn't have been.....

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Once again, I plead the 5th.  But I will tell you this.  If there were things I could change that other people did, I would.  In a heartbeat.  But then that might change who I am; wouldn't it?

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Probably the time my car went for a spin, across six lanes of traffic, on the 610 Loop in Houston.  How I ever drove again after that is a mystery.  And dammit, I was still late for work after all that.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My son.  When I look back on things - he is, without a doubt, my greatest achievement.  

When did you last cry, and why?
I am usually not a crier.  At least not in public (public includes family, by the way.  I am a secret sobber.  Ssssh!  That's our secret!).  But the last time would have probably been a week or so ago when the stress of everything just came to a head.

How do you relax?
A hot bath, a good book and a glass of wine. Speaking of which, shouldn't we be wrapping this up about now?  I've got some serious relaxing to do.....

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A job for hubby. 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That you can't quit.  No matter what.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this on.  As usual, I pass it on to anyone reading this.  Take it and run with it.  It's harder than it looks.

Can you spot the lie?  Is there one?  

April 14, 2011

Random? I think not!

The other day, Man-Child was playing with my phone (yes, even when they get big they still want to play with your stuff.  FYI) and began to go through the pictures I've taken.

After spending several minutes scrolling through (yes, he's easily amused) he declared that I take pictures of the most random things.

I fail to see what he's talking about.  I mean clearly each of these photos have meaning.

Okay, maybe not to you or him - but all of these photos represent something I was trying to remember.

They clearly represent something that I felt the need to share - with somebody.

Most of them, represent an idea I had for a post - that may (or may not) still come to fruition (some of them may have actually already made it into a post or two), some of them represent something I had to share IMMEDIATELY with my friends on Twitter, and some of them were just something I needed to share with a friend who may have been looking to buy something similar.

Random?  I think not.

But I do have to admit, if I were going through someone else's photos and saw this

without knowing the story behind it?  Then yeah; I might think it was random.

April 11, 2011

My hair hates me....

Yes - this IS a post about my hair.  YES, I *do* have more important things to blog about....such as the post that posted last week and was then deleted (thank you to those who did see and responded and to those that would have responded had you seen it - I heart you all!);

Or I could post about the fact that I scheduled not one, but TWO, college visits during Man-Child's Spring Break and how that is wigging me out completely (seriously?  Who gave him permission to be this old????);

(Appalachian State and North Carolina State, if you are wondering.  Yes, there will be others that we will be looking at - as long as they have a football team that he could maybe play for someday.)

Or I could post about the negligence of the government (either side; left or right.  About now they are both ticking me off); or about world peace; or the homeless; or the shameful state that America is in right now;

Or about the fact that I have practically a whole post written in my head that needs to get put out NOW before I forget about it and I can't because Hubby has decided RIGHT THIS SECOND is the perfect time to come out here and have an idle random chat - despite the fact that I've been home - and ignored, I might add - for hours.

So anyway....here we are talking about....

Wait.  What were we talking about??

Oh yeah....my hair.

My hair hates me.  I've known this for years but have only recently acknowledged it.

I realize it can't easy to be my hair.  My hair is tortured on a near-daily basis.

It is constantly being processed, over-producted (yes, that IS a word spellcheck! And for that matter spellcheck is ALSO a word!) dyed, dried, flat-ironed, curled, yelled at and cursed....you name it and I've probably done it to my hair.

BUT to be fair my hair has done it's own little number on ME.

When I was small it was kind of straight - with just a hint of a wave in it.  And many, many cowlicks; which was totally my mother's problem as I really didn't care at that point.

As I got older it got a bit wavier - which was actually a blessing because it would more or less do what I wanted it to with minimal torture, plus it was the style - still with those cowlicks though.


Then, all of a sudden, out of NOWHERE (sometime after Man-Child was born....so this is HIS fault!) my hair decided that it wanted to be curly with the added bonus of cowlicks.

Now to be fair - I LOVE curls....on other women.  Whose hair is cut for curls.  My hair?  My hair is NOT cut for curls and hasn't been for years.

So I'm in the process of growing it out - you know, so when I do decide to rock the curls my hair doesn't resemble a giant triangle being perched on my head.

Because, despite the fact that I don't feel curls are a professional look (on me), I have come to realize that, especially in the summer, it is far easier to just let my hair "be" rather than fight it.

Truth be told?  I spend more time fighting with my hair in the mornings than I do having my coffee, reading blogs, showering, putting on my makeup, deciding what shoes to wear (which totally dictates what outfit I'm wearing - which, of course, necessitates an entire dialog in my head about what the upcoming day might bring), brushing my teeth, waking other members of the household, finding accessories to go with said outfit/shoes, and actually getting out the door, etc. all put together.

But, if I just rocked the curls, the hair could probably be done in about five to ten minutes flat.

The problem is growing it out - especially since what I am envisioning is much longer than I've had my hair in eons.

Well, let's talk (whispers) split ends.  I have many.  Which makes the hair frizzy - even after over-producting and straightening, curling, etc.  The conventional wisdom would be to cut it.  BUT, if I cut it now to remove all the split ends, and summer; with it's inevitable humidity, looming, I will have a MAJOR triangle perched on my head.  If I wait till it is longer to trim there will be even split ends, I think, because they will have become longer and more fragile.

I'm doomed, I tell you!  Doomed!

It's truly a damned if you and a damned if you don't scenario.

April 10, 2011

If you have about 16 hours to kill....

Reading blogs earlier in the week found me over at Mariliz's Musings and she had me salivating over some fresh bread she had just made.  She was kind enough to share the link to the recipe, which you can see here or just continue reading and I'll share how I did it and the results.

Now, as we all know I am not a cook.  But I do love to bake on occasion however, I've never made bread and as this particular recipe only has 4 steps to it and does not require kneading I figured I'd give it a go.  The only problem is that even though there are only 4 steps it takes forever!  It's not like you can whip it up and stick it in the oven - ah well, good things come to those that wait (I hope).

3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour; more will be needed for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (here's where I ran into the first problem.  Hubby brought home "RapidRise" yeast - but it turns out that is the same thing as instant yeast.  Whew! Crisis averted)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (turns out I didn't need this)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (??? my math skills are awful and none of my cups had that measurement so I used 1 and almost 2/3 cup-I'm sure it's fine), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy (???) and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Does that look shaggy to you? Also let me apologize for the poor quality - using the cell phone again.  

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Looks ready for the next step....I left it for about 16 hours

Ready to be wrapped for the next rest

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Final resting - it claims it will double in size.  I have my doubts.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Getting the dough from the towel and into the pan is a messy process....

Ready for the oven....and would you look at that - it DID double in size.
And now, we wait...


Yum!  Looks good enough to eat!
The verdict?  It's delicious!  The family voted this recipe to be a keeper.

Thanks, Mariliz for getting me to try something new!

April 7, 2011


I have another new favorite author to add to my list..... Karin Slaughter.

I have recently finished the book Fractured and can I tell you?  It was AWESOME.  Without a doubt - this one will grab your attention from the first few pages and carry you straight through to the end and leave you seeking out other books from this author.  Seriously.

When I first started this book, Man-Child asked me what it was about.  I looked at him and said, "I'm only on page 17 and already there is a dead teenager, the mother of said teenager has killed the man who was standing over her body with her BARE hands.....this is GOOD!"

He said something along the lines of "Wow!  That does sound amazing, Mother-dear.  I would so love to  read it when you are done, Mother-dearest; because I so value your opinion." (yeah, right.  I'm sure his response was much more snarky - but this reads soooo much better, don't you think?  And he truly has been waiting (im)patiently for me to finish it.)

This book is set is one of Atlanta's most upscale neighborhoods - a place where you would never expect sordidness such as this.  As I mentioned, a teenager is found dead - by a mother - with a man standing over her body - and as any mother would - she kills him.

I soooo wish I was a real critic - so I could tell you more about the book without giving anything away.  But I'm not.

So let me just say this - Karin Slaughter has the ability to start a novel off with a bang and then weaves the story deep, will throw in another bang or two and then leave you wondering about how a tragedy in a family has such far reaching implications.

If you are looking for something to read, look no further.  This is an EXCELLENT book.  I will definitely be seeking out more from her.