Friday, November 28, 2008

Disappointing to Say the Least

I enjoyed reading the Twilight series of books. I liked that Stephenie Meyer captured that innocent, nauseating, obsessive, sweet feeling of teenage love. Plus, the book revolved around a cute vampire. You can't go wrong with that. I was an Anne Rice fiend in high school so I enjoyed this new series that gave a peek into a vampire's world.

I had seen the trailers for the new movie and I wasn't too impressed, but I knew I would go and see it. I had read the book. How could I not see the movie?

AMC, can I please have my $5 back? Oh, my, it was disappointing and so horrible. And, my poor husband thought he would accompany me...see what all the fuss was about when it came to the books. Ugh. I haven't been reading reviews on the movie, but eek! It was so incredibly cheesy. The actor who plays Edward (the vampire) was adorable and he made the teenage girls in the audience swoon, but seriously the movie was activating my gag reflex. Toward the end of the movie, we enjoyed the action, but all-in-all...the movie was just wretched (ooh, I like that word...haven't used it in a while). I don't even want to go into all of the details that made the movie bad because then this post would just be shy of a novella. Just take it from me that it is not worth seeing. The snoring person that was sitting behind Ry and I at the movie is evidence enough of the suspense in the movie. I should add that the nasal symphony started only 15 minutes into the movie. *cringe* Not good.

Now, if your gross curiosity gets the better of you, see if you can find Stephenie Meyers in the movie. She has a quick bit in the movie, taking a tip from Stan Lee.

Movies I am hoping to see in the next few weeks...Australia with Hugh Jackman (yummy) and Nicole Kidman - it looks so 1960's epic movie; Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig - heard the action is spectacular; and RockNRolla with Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven and Gerard Butler (he's a Scottish treat I don't mind looking at) - it's a Guy Ritchie film -- don't think I need to say more.

Happiness is...

...a weekend to do whatever I want.

For Thanksgiving yesterday, I went with my parents and we volunteered at Phoenix Rescue Mission. This was the fourth year we have gone to the Mission to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the people who rely on the organization for food, shelter and help. It is always a wonderful blessing to meet people and hear their stories, praying that they get the hand up they need to begin again. Yesterday was a little different, the faces were different. There were faces that looked like my friends and family. The economy's impact was felt in that dining hall yesterday...and I was so glad to be able to help. For five hours, my heart was singing with the harmony that only comes when you give of yourself to others. I love volunteering!

After spending half of the day at the Mission, I went to the grocery store and bought provisions so I could bake away the rest of the day. I baked my first pecan looks pretty darn good if you ask me (we eat it tonight so hopefully it tastes as good as it looks). And, with molasses on the shelf for the pie, I also baked molasses spice cookies. It was wonderful to have the freedom and energy to dance in the kitchen to some of my favorite music playing on my iPod and bake something for others to enjoy. When Ryan got home last night, I was still a ball of energy, but my legs weren't keeping up with me. They started hurting at the joints. I felt like I had been walking at Disneyland all day. And, as I began to tell Ry about my day, I realized that I wasn't too far off. I had enjoyed my free day so much that I hadn't sat down once.

For the first time in six years, I had the Friday after Thanksgiving off. I wasn't exactly sure what to do with myself. So, I cleaned the house and organized the two bathroom cabinets. Around the time I was ready for a break, Ry gave me a call and said he was ready to meet for lunch. Yum...sushi!

I was back in the kitchen this afternoon, making cauliflower au gratin for Thanksgiving dinner tonight with the family and oatmeal cookies. I plan to make rice krispie treats and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, can you tell I am on a baking binge?

In between all of this cooking and helping, I finished a wonderful book -- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It had come recommended by several people and I had purchased it at Changing Hands as a gift to myself on my birthday. Oh, it was divine! What a love story! I didn't want the characters to leave. I didn't want the book to end. It wasn't a sappy love story, but one that had beauty, sacrifice, tribulation, sensuality and patience. It is a wonderful book that I devoured and savoured during the week. I finished the book last night admist the peace of a quiet house surrounded by a lovely autumn storm, eating a tasty meal that my husband and I created together.

I have started reading Saturday by Ian McEwan. I have enjoyed his writing immensely in the previous books I have read of his so I am looking forward to this one.

So much happiness this weekend. Happiness is something for which I am very thankful. I am also very thankful for my loving family, beautiful friends, an adorable work-in-progress home, a job that makes a difference in the lives of others, and an all around blessed life. God certainly takes care of me through good and bad and I wouldn't be able to make it without him. His love is all around my husband and I...for that we are most grateful. Happiness.

p.s. All of the recipes I used this weekend are on It is a terrific Web site. If you have an ingredient you need recipes for, just type it in. There are so many recipes to search through. Here are links to the recipes I am enjoying:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies -I added pecans to mine and they are great.
Molassses Cookies
Cauliflower Au Gratin with Gruyere
Pecan Pie with Oat Crust

p.p.s. I was complaining in a previous post about concerts. Well, they are still lacking around the Valley, but I am excited about the upcoming Bloc Party show at The Marquee. Snow Patrol will also be in town. Planning to see Bloc Party.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Confess, I Confess

Yesterday, I went to Borders with a 40% off coupon in hand so I could buy a couple of CD's at a discount. I felt like a traitor to my favorite local music store because I was giving my money and business to this big conglomerate store. A scarf on my head and large oversized glasses would have been the perfect costume for my trip into retail enemy territory. But, money is tight and who can refuse getting a CD for $10?

So, I confess...I am a traitor to my shop local mantra. I feel like I should be flogged for my bad behavior.

On top of this horrible indiscretion, I also bought Christmas CD's yesterday and well, I am listening to one of the CD's right now. That is right. It is November 11 and I am listening to Loreena McKennit sing exotic Christmas tunes through the speakers of my laptop. What has become of my grey matter?

I do admit that the Christmas music greatly increases my good mood and makes the stress melt away. I don't think I could listen to it in April, but with the cooler weather and Christmas only a month or so away, it doesn't feel all too bad. Small doses of holiday music aren't too bad.

Rest assured...there is no reason to worry for my well-being just yet. But, if I begin to link to Borders on my blog or I am listing Brian Setzer's Christmas Album among my favorite albums next July...someone call 9-1-1. Be sure they bring a straight jacket; I have thoroughly lost my mind.

Post Script...
Highly recommend the new Kaiser Chiefs album, Off With Their Heads. Great sound. Purchased the new Keane and my guilt has kept me from peeling off the plastic wrapper. But, I am sure it will be opened by the week's end.

Waiting with impatience for the new Killers album to come out on November 25.

Post Post Script...
Where are all of the good live music concerts? We have not one good band coming to Arizona in the next few months. I am in withdrawal, people!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Current read has me in awe

Last week I started reading The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. He is a German author whose books I stumbled upon while perusing for the brilliant red dot that indicates a used book at Changing Hands Bookstore.

I was interested in the story(according to the back it a tale of adventure. And, when choosing a book, any chance to awaken my imagination is a huge plus for me. I tend to read books that allow me to escape.

Oh, it is so much more than I thought it would be! It is a good antidote for Harry Potter readers who yearn for the fantastical creatures and environments created by J.K. Rowling. Mr. Moers has a wonderful imagination. He has not only put in front of me a new world and habitants but a history and context for each character I meet. He paints a picture that makes my lips curl up into a smile every time I open the pages. And, to bring alive the child inside, I am surprised and delights by endearing illustrations of the characters he has drawn.

You may think it is a children's book, but it's not. It's an adult fiction book that takes me on an adventure whenever I turn the page. It is a book that gives me permission to go back to the days when I would anticipate the mobile library and the Choose Your Own Adventure Books. It has brought back to me an enthusiasm I have not had for books since reading Harry Potter, Narnia Chronicles or Lord of the Rings.

I haven't finished the book, but I am hooked! I am determined to read his other books so I can meet more of the inhabitants of Zamonia. His book is a great pick for those adults who want to indulge their imagination.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Book Update

I completed The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory and I was really disappointed. I saw her read an excerpt from this book at my local bookstore and was thrilled to begin devouring the words on the page. It left me unsatisfied to say the least. And, it is on one of my favorite British monarchs -- Mary Queen of Scots. I mean, how could she not be interesting. She was a sneaky lass. This book was just not as deep and moving as The Other Boleyn Girl. I had little interest in the characters and so much of what was developed on them seemed only on the surface. I want to see in their heads. This did not happen with this book. I would take the book back to get credit for other books, but I resist the temptation because it is signed.

A great book is Monsters of Templeton. This book by Lauren Groff is brilliant. She paints a lovely picture of the fictional town of Templeton, based on Cooperstown in beautiful upstate New York. She gives us a flawed character that we fall in love with and gives a biography of the town of Templeton. We meet the people who built the town and the scandal that followed them. It gives a new perspective on geneology and the secrets you will unearth as you dig into the family tree. Oh, and there is a monster that gives opportunity for commentary on society today. It is really a wonderful read. I highly recommend it.

The last book I read was Spanish Dagger by Susan Wittig Albert. I love her China Bayles series. China teaches you about herbs and plants as she tracks down the bad guy. This is one of my favorite series. If you want a good mystery with comfortable characters, this is a great book to pick up. I also have to mention that Susan Wittig Albert is one of my favorite authors. She is very much an advocate for women telling their stories. She supports writing groups and story-telling stories. I also like the fact that she replies to my e-mails and has actually read my blog. You can't find a cooler author in my book. She is genuine and an inspiration for me as a female writer.

My current read is The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. I came across this jewel of a book when I was last at Changing Hands. It was a Birthday gift to myself. I don't know how I overlooked this book before, but so is just fun, fun, fun. It lets me use my imagination and I look forward to the adventure that is unfolding in the pages. It is kind of Harry Potter-ish in feeling. The writing and vocabulary in it are brilliant. I won't give away too much just yet. I am enjoying it and if it continues to awe me, I may be purchasing this book for some of the people I love.

Election Night and other ponderings...

I haven't blogged in quite a while. And, there is good reason for that. I have had a lot of change in my life. Okay, only one change, but it was a big one. I resigned from my position at the Food Bank and took a position with another nonprofit organization. I gave three weeks notice and in those three weeks I put in hours equal to three Thanksgivings. I have so much love for the Food Bank and I wanted to ensure the transition was a smooth one.

So, I started my new job at Planned Parenthood last week. Wow! It is so different. The politics and issues are infectious. And, there is so much I need to learn to become a proficient speaker on what the organization does. I am thrilled! And, I am slowly getting aclimated.

Being at Planned Parenthood, this election has become even more exciting than it already was for me. The health care policies of each state hinge on the election. Whether low-income women and men have access to birth control, and schools have access to sex education depends on the outcome from tonight. It is exhilirating...will the organization celebrate or roll up its sleeves to re-educate the legislature?

Right now, I am watching TV. The Arizona Biltmore appears to be mobbed by the press. So much excitement in Phoenix. Saw some photos on Twitter taken by a friend and local journalist. What a crazy environment! Excitement is sizzling through the air today. You can feel it! This is what democracy should be. There should be this much excitement every time the issues are on a ballot. For a political junkie...this is a dream.

So I don't continue to babble, I must relate two stories. First, this morning, Ry and I showed up at our normal retirement community polling place at 6:12 a.m. Polls opened at 6 a.m. There was already a long and winding line. We waited for an hour and a half. I thought our wait was horrendous, but then when I saw photos on The Washington Post and The New York Times...we were lucky. I also saw local blogs about people starting to line up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to vote and beat the crowds. Eek! Regardless, I survived the ignorant, blah-blah discussion that went on around us. People trying to figure out propositions while standing in line? Come on people! Prepare!

This final is not election related, but it is a story that relates to stupidity. Driving home from work this evening, I was on the freeway and saw ahead of me a police officer with his cherries and blueberries flashing. He was weaving across all of the lanes to create a freeway break. Hasn't everyone seen these? Well, one person (talking on their cell phone) in their Hyundai Tucson seemed to think that the traffic break was merely a suggestion and something that pertained to him or her. When the police car broke to the left, the Tucson broke to the right. The police officer saw the SUV swerve and try to go around so he moved back to the right side of the freeway lane. The SUV swerved to the left, again trying to get by the police car. Can we say moron? Well, the Hyundai tried one more time to allude the police officer in front him or her and almost ran into the police car's rear. Oooh, that would not be pretty. I thought the SUV finally got the hint because it began to just drive down the center lane as the police car continued the break. But, no, the idiocy continued. The driver stayed back and then when they saw an opening, they went for it. The police car at that time, pulled to the left, the police officer got out and threw a tire off the road. The Tucson went right by. The cop yelled at the SUV, jumped into his car and went after him or her with lights blaring. I saw the police officer pull over the vehicle and I couldn't help but giggle. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Think the police officer will cuff the driver?

This evening will mark matter who is elected.