Tuesday, December 31, 2013

112 pages in, and then tossed

 
For Some reason.. my formatting today seems to be for the birds.  I am not sure if I am willing to spend a lot of time on this post to correct why the spacing turned out so bizarre.  Slightly ironic I must say, given how I felt about this book.  It isn't often that I start a book and don't finish it.  What started off as a lovely morning in bed today, ended up with me pretty much tossing this book.  Since it was endorsed by a funny political author (Terry Fallis), I had high hopes for some guffaws.
 
Not so much.  I did read some reviews of this book and other people find it funny. Yes, I get that it is a satire on the state of Canadian politics in 2008 but it just did not do it for me.  It is a fast read, and would not have taken up a lot of my time.. but I got to page 112, scanned through the rest of the book, and felt like I given the book more than ample time to get better, and it didn't. 
 
Adios terrible book, you just are not funny. 
 
Since I spent the morning returning a few odds and sods, I returned one of my two copies of the coolest astronaut ever's book (soon to be reviewed I am sure) for some new books.  I won't say what else I snuck in to return but I walked out with three new books - Olive Kitteridge, The Weird Sisters, and The Peach Keeper.   A good decision in my mind, as I walked out of the bookstore, smelling the books and running my hand down the pages.  Without a doubt, reading is one of my favourite past times.  I don't think I am destined to own an e-reader.  It just isn't the same.
 
Speaking of which - today I am watching the first Harry Potter movie with my oldest.  We finished reading the book, and now it is time to watch the movie.  To say he is excited, is an understatement.  He has always enjoyed reading, but watching him engage with this book has been literally - magic.  Yes, those novels get dark soon, but I can see us reading the first three this year... and we will see about the final 4.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Perfect timing for a bittersweet read like this....

This was a great read to finish 2013 with.  This was more like I wish The Lace Readers by Brunonia Barry would have been like.  A little mystical around the edges, a story about people.  At times there could be more details, but I like that some of the details were wispy and scant. 

This is a book about a brokenhearted young lady named Kate that flees from Seattle for a tour of Ireland to find herself.  She finds herself in a small Irish town (Glenmara) and finds a new place for herself among the women who make lace.  There are coincidences that bring people together - but isn't that life - all about being in the right place at the right time?  I love the story about the lace, and how the lace making was taught through generations, and how the lace could tell a story.  It has made me rethink having my mom teach me how to make lace - although that will mean learning how to crochet, and for that, I am truly skeptical.

This was a lovely quick read.  A story full of promise, and a little bit of fancy. 

Sinful Quinoa Chocolate Cake

I lurve this cake.

I also lurve that it is gluten free, and not made with quinoa flour.  If you are looking to try something new that will literally blow you away, try this recipe.

My lovely Auntie makes this for us, and it has been amazing every single time.  I love her much, and with this cake, I think I love her even more!!! I love that everyone can eat it, and that it is made with whole quinoa and not quinoa flour (which is worth it's weight in gold).

Moist Chocolate {Quinoa} Cake

originally from Quinoa 365

Made from quinoa and more like a brownie, this cake is gluten-free and completely delicious.

There are a few variations on how to frost and how to make a ganache for the middle, I will leave that part up to your desire.  

ingredients

  • 2/3 c. (150 ml) white or golden quinoa
  • 1 1/3 c. (340 ml) water
  • 1/3 c. (90 ml) milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. (170 g) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 c. (375 ml) white or cane sugar
  • 1 c. (250 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (7.5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) salt

directions

  • 1
    Preparation:
  • 2
    Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.
  • 3
    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease two 8-inch (20-cm) round or square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • 4
    Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups (500 ml) of cooked quinoa and the butter and blend until smooth.
  • 5
    Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.
  • 6
    Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the centre oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • 7
    Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan before serving. Frost if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month. Serves 8 to 16.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Decent foray into a distant past...

It felt like it took me a while to read this book.  It could be that the month of December is blowing by so quickly, that it just felt like this was the one place that the pages were not turning all that quickly because I have been tired at night.

Total aside, it is strange, the boys are sleeping in this morning.  They have been waking up between 5 and 6 am, so this is a rare treat!!

This was a good book.  It didn't captivate me as much as I though it would, and maybe that was why it didn't.  For me, it didn't really start to speed up until the end.  That being said, I enjoyed how the story between Mehrunnisa and Salim developed over time, and the insight in to the past and a different culture.  The differences between the men's and women's realms is also fascinating.  The story continues in further books, and if a copy lands on my desk, I will read it.  I guess in many ways this book almost felt like a prequel to the real story, taking a lot of time to lay down the plot and the history.  Reading the next book of how the Emperor and Empress rule, and the intricacies of each would likely capture me a little more.  I am not trying to take away from this book, just some books you start and you are caught up in a tide that is stronger than yourself, drawn to turn each page quicker than the last.  I enjoyed this book throughout, and it was at the end it all of a sudden seemed over too soon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A hit and a miss…

This was one of those books that falls under "and now for something completely different".

This was an interesting book about something I didn't know anything about - the 'Mud Angels' that arrived in Florence after the Arno flooded in 1966.  This book is about Italy, book conservation, with a light dusting a lust.  From the title, you would expect a sensual novel, but that was not this novel.

I can't say that Hellenga nailed the female narrative, and I found it a bit offsetting at times how he shifted his narrative voice. but there were some elements that I also really enjoyed about this book.  Hence, the title of this post.

This is the story of a 29 year old book conservator who finds her way to Florence to ultimately have her life's big adventure. There she meets a few paramours, and embarks on a bit of a journey of self discovery.  For a relatively short, and small book (the book is an off size itself), this wasn't a quick read.  There were times I wasn't pulled along by the current of the narrative, and last night, I think I was on a mission to get going and move on to my next book.  Funny how that happens sometimes.  I think a personal goal would be to read 40 books this year.  I think 2 more and I am there… Which also pushed me to get through that last 150 pages last night.  Speaking of which - sleep, who needs sleep?  Did I mention that in the last few weeks I have had a hard time settling down and getting to bed at a decent time?  It is almost like the days are so crammed that I am enjoying the silence at night and pursing weird things like lego, knitting, and reading.  From the sight of my kitchen this morning, perhaps some of that time should have been dedicated to cleaning it.

There were a few passages that were pretty well crafted though.. such as this one:  "Have you ever read a great novel, or listened to a great symphony, or stood in front of some great work of art, and felt - absolutely nothing?  You try to open yourself to the text, the music, the painting, but you have no power to respond.  Nothing moves you.   You are turned to stone.  You feel guilty.  You blame yourself, but you also wonder if maybe there's nothing there, and that people only pretend to enjoy Dante's Paradisio or Beethoven's Eroica, or Botticelli's Primavera because they get good marks in Culture 101 for doing so.  And then, when you least expect it, when you've closed the book, walked out of the concert hall or the museum, it hits you.  Something hits you, comes at you from an odd angle."  Interesting thought.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mission complete - a new hat


Done.  I was hoping to have it finished before the snow started on Sunday night.. but apparently there are limits as to what a person can accomplish during their waking hours.

So, I finally finished it tonight.  I shouldn't complain, I think all told it took me less than two weeks to make (especially considering how much free time I normally have).  This is a great pattern.  I will make it again, and if I use the same type of wool, I will use the man's pattern instead of the women's pattern to give it a little more width.  This one stretches out fine, but it could be a tad bit bigger (I am also a tight knitter).  All in all, I love the hat and I found the free pattern (Thanks Needyl aka Shana) when I was trolling for a cable knit hat to knit myself up.  I haven't attempted knitting like this since the last hat I made, and I missed it.  I actually learned a few new things in the process, and recalled how much I enjoy watching a piece like this evolve under my fingers.

Speaking of my last hat, I am not sure if I ever whinged about the fact that I lost the hat on campus, when I was picking up the kids from day care.  The other day, I saw my hat on someone else!  I was happy to see it didn't go to waste - like this, it was a handmade, woollen hat and I am glad to see someone else obviously saw some value in it rather than it just getting pitched aside.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Success or fail, you tell me.


So, there are two elements at work here.

We have an Elf, his name is Goomba. Brandon is slightly embarrassed by his name because he arrived in our house when he was 3, or maybe 4.  It seems the years are starting to blur together.  This year, our Elf has been inspired by the Dinosaurs that went viral (check out the article about the parents that set up their kids dinosaurs in different play settings) and by other Elves that have been up to some fun in the 24 nights they get to visit the homes of their kids.

It appears that Goomba made a slight spelling mistake.  Poor Bradon. Perhaps Goomba should not  have arrived back without sleep.  *AHEM*.  Perhaps Connor will become Conner at some point this month?  Time will tell.  Maybe next year instead of trying to do NABLOPOMO, I will attempt to blog a month of the shenanigans our Elf gets up to.

The other element is the LEGO.  Apparently I have been a wee bit obsessed with lego in the last week. It has been quite pathetic actually.  There  have been several nights that everyone is in bed and I am up, playing with lego.  I am not sure if "playing" is the right way to describe what I have been up to.  It could also be classified as organizing all the builds that have been dumped together and who knows what we have, and maybe with Christmas coming, we should really figure it out.  I also think it was oddly therapeutic.  The last few weeks, hell, year, have been interesting for me at work.  I am glad that I switched roles in the last year, however, I think it will be time to try out some different areas of Student Services in the coming year for a CHANGE.  I like what I do… but I think have hit the wall in terms of what I can do within my department. I have been told a few different ways that if I want more, it isn't going to happen in the current context, and I only need to hear and feel it so many times before I am willing and open to take a look around.  I think all that transpired around this awareness was a little unsettling, and I must say, was an eye opening experience.  In the last decade, I have looked for mentors, and frankly, the people I would call mentors have not been the people I thought they would be.  Isn't that life though… always full of surprises.  I think this was also the appeal of lego.  I was creating something from a plan, and it was just nice to follow well crafted directions for a change.  My biggest challenge with our lego is finding all the pieces.  It is weird, I seem to be finding pieces in the oddest places, and at weird times.  The lego builds have been a soothing counterbalance to work.

Talk about a circle - I started with a picture of Goomba with the kids, a little about lego, contemplate work and not truly being all that satisfied about what going back to my old job holds to looking back up  at the picture of my kids.  It puts it all in to perspective.  It will be interesting to see what 2014 holds.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A second book that lived up to the first...

This was a great book.  Both books that I have read by this author are something different entirely.  The characters are memorable, the stories take place in small town America, and they are truly stories about average, every day folks going about their business.

I will admit, the title drew me in.  After the title, it was remembering "Where the Heart is" and it being a crazy book in which the lead character had a baby in a Walmart and the friends they gathered around them spoke true about what a good person could be (regardless of creed, colour, orientation…).

This was another quick read, and one that I  enjoyed.   I am not even sure where to start in terms of describing how this book pulled me in, and to provide a snappy plot summary.  Ultimately this book is about a car hop diner in Oklahoma and the unlikely cast of characters it draws in - from the paraplegic owner, to the run away daughter, to the Vietnamese man that arrives and never leaves.  This is a story about people, and relationships, and at it's core, community.

I love having a huge pile of books to read on my shelf… I get to walk up and see what one strikes my fancy next!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My two front teeth

This has been a strange, and yet fairly decent week.

It has been another quick month - so much for attempting the NaBloPoMo I half toyed with there for a few days early on in the month.  It is hard to find time every day to blog, let alone exercise.

Work was weird this week.  It was an eye opening week in many ways.  The most positive way it was eye opening was the feedback from an interview I did that I received, and although I didn't get what I thought I wanted, I think it could put me in the right direction in the future.  Not that I am not going in the right direction, just every now and then you need to make some detours.  I think that because I work hard, and for the most part, don't make a lot of mistakes, that it should get me places.  Some times, it is about timing, and the right opportunity, and I do think there is an element that if you are moving in the right direction, the barriers seem to come down.

This week I also had my front teeth worked on by my new dentist.  It was a really long appointment, and I was nervous.  I have always been at least a little self conscious about my front teeth.  I had large discoloured deposits on them from the beginning of time, and when I was younger, people would always ask if I brushed.. yes.  Yes. I did.  It never helped with those yellow or white spots.  Add a few fillings (weak enamel) and they were just never pearly white.  Wonderfully straight, but not white.  As I have gotten older, I really haven't worried about it.  I know recently I noticed in some pictures that the colour was a bit of, so starting with a new dentist, questions come up about your smile.. and I said in small voice, I had concerns about my front teeth.   Viola.  A few hours later, they look a lot better.  They are more uniform in colour again, and the filling corrected, and roughness smoothed out.  The hard core polishing helped too.  I like my new dentist - she is great.  I also like my slightly upgraded smile a little bit more.

We celebrated my mom's birthday tonight and had my family over for dinner.  Ken and I are getting really good at cooking salmon on the BBQ.  Last night I checked out some late night black frideh deals for some toys after a retirement dinner for my old boss.  When I was younger, I remember thinking they will miss me when I am gone.  Now that I am older, I think that I was pretty naive since I miss them too now that I am gone.  We had a good thing for a number of years at my old place of work. I learned a lot, and the women that I worked with were pretty awesome.  I can see much of how I evolved in my career from two of them, how I lead, and how I choose to define my work.   Sometimes we truly do need distance to see how influence does go both ways.

Tomorrow kicks off December… which I now look at as a very Merry Month of Joy Making mixed with a little or a lot of crazy for good measure.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet goodness between the pages.

When I went to book sale a few days ago, this was actually one of the books that I was hoping to find.  I thought it was a long shot, but there, among hundreds of other books, was a brand new hardcover copy of this book. I read this author's first book, and it was what I would call my version of 'chick lit'.  A little magical, not always saccharine sweet, and not every character is perfect.  I wanted to read more of her books, but haven't always remembered when I found myself looking and willing to buy rather than take from the library or borrow from friends.

So. after finishing one really enjoyable read, it was Sunday morning, why not jump in to this one?  I cannot remember the last time I read a book in a day.  By the time I fell asleep today, this book was done. I really enjoyed it.  Light, but not too light, enjoyable characters, a little earth magic, and some tension.

Alas.  The book is done, and now I am adding her name to my list of potential authors to try to find next time I find myself in a used book store, or perhaps with a Christmas gift card to a bookseller.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Impulse book buy - Success!

Last weekend when I went to Costco, I realized that I had pretty much read all of the books on my shelves that I wanted to read in the foreseeable future.

I trolled up on the down the book section, and nothing was really grabbing me.  I first started by picking up the Rosie Project.  It looked decent, but I wasn't quite sold on it.  Then this one jumped out and said "try me" in a slightly accented voice.  So I did.

I would describe this book as the literary version of Forest Gump meets Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  I really enjoyed this book.  I would cribe it as having a black sense of humour, and completely oddball characters that were refreshing in their originality.  It has been a while since I laughed out loud so much in a book, or just enjoyed the novelty of a read.  I think Terry Fallis' books on Canadian politics that were like that for me last year.. funny, not too serious, and totally different.

This book is about Allan Karlsson, a 100 year old Swede that one days decides life in the old folks home is just not for him.  The adventures begin right away, and there really is never a dull  moment.  I sped this through this read, and as I said, I really enjoyed it.  Carpe diem, and hoist a cold one :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book sale

Every November at work, we have a book sale.  First two days of the sale, soft covers are $1 and hard covers are $2.  I went to spend $15, and I did.  Easily.  I felt like a kid in a candy story.  I am now stocked for at least two months.  I even found a few books that I was looking for, and some I had not idea that I wanted to read but their covers intrigued me.

Then I went back when then sell as much as they can off for 10 cents a book.  Ahem.  Talk about feeding an addiction.

For $16 I bought 25 books.  I was feeling generous and I gave two away.   I was gleeful for hours.  It was a strange day.  They also had a mammogram clinic at work - and now being 40 - I knew I "should" have one.. so I got squished (not as terrible as I expected) and then went for the obvious retail therapy.

A fine day in my book.

Friday, November 15, 2013

An old standby….

This was a perfect read for a week off work.  Well, almost a week off.   It is almost embarrassing to admit how many NR books I have read over the years… some are quite satisfying, and others… well, they just miss the mark.  If you are looking for a character driven book with a little romance, perhaps a thriller element, and then a happy ending, usually NR is your gal.

I figured this was a great read to jump in to since we were heading south to Seattle and Olympia and this book takes place in the San Juan islands.  Of course, now I have a yen to stay in the San Juans.. I think our first weekend without kids there is an old hotel on one of the islands that I would love to get away with Ken to visit.    This book delivered what I wanted it to - a satisfying, quick read that wasn't all too serious, that was easy to read, and overall enjoyable.  The suspense aspect was ok, I still look forward to having a dog in the future, and as I already mentioned, I would like to spend some time in the San Juans or Gulf Islands.

Finishing this one was an odd feeling.  I have read most of the books I have had on my shelves for a while, and the ones I have left I can't say I have a big burning desire to read anytime soon.  I picked up a book from Costco tonight, hopefully it is a good read.  It is a strange feeling not really knowing what I want to read next…

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A little disappointed...

What caught me at first was the cover.  Who doesn't like wandering around a lighthouse perched on a cliff next to a tumultuous ocean?  The story itself also seemed intriguing...

This was a pretty quick read, and now that it is done, I feel really ambivalent about the book.  I will not be shouting from the rooftops to read this, however, there were a few moments I thought that the author really nailed a part of our human condition.  For me, this was a bit disappointing because I really wanted to enjoy it.  I was also the one that picked this book for our next bookclub meeting, so that was also in the back of my mind. 

The writing wasn't that consistent.  I found a few narrative lines that were blended didn't work that well for me, and that every now and then the author shifted in to the third person.  All in all, the ideas of the this novel were decent, execution at times was compelling, but at the end... meh...  it wasn't terrible but it really isn't a book that will stick with me a long time either.   This was a melancholic novel, and for me, I think I enjoyed the parts about the lighthouse keeping the best.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vancouver Night Race 2013


What a way to start off November.  Remember a few of those goals I had when I turned 40?  I am partway there for one of them.  Although I have not been as dedicated I was for June, July and part of August... I have been able to keep up running once a week.

This weekend, I participated in the Vancouver Night Race with my BFF and a new friend.  It was an awesome experience.  The weather was typical November on the Wet Coast... raining, the wind was blowing, and it was wonderfully miserable.

As you can see, we "dressed" for the occasion, and had a light early dinner.  I have only ever done one run in the past, the Sun Run back in 2000.  I was a little nervous, mostly about how fast I would be able to do the run, and how I would feel.  I know I can do about 7 km, with some stops along the way.  I just didn't know how I would do at night, and in the crowd.  Who knew, I love to run in the morning....

We got to the park with a few minutes to spare, parked, got kitted out, and walked to the race staging area.  Seeing everyone with their lights on was pretty awesome.  It was raining, and the wind was blowing.  I am glad we all needed a pee break, otherwise we would have missed the 10km runners coming along the seawall before they made they way by us.  It was spectacular to see.  Once we got going, I think I sighed when we rounded the corner to the seawall.  The waves were crashing, there was wind my hair... it was an awesome moment.  It made me truly grateful I started running.  I am not fast, but I am fast enough.  I am faster than I was 6 months ago, and I can run better at 40 than I could at 16.  I can't wait to see where I am at a year from now.  Next year I would like to do more 5kms, and a few 10kms.  I have no desire to do a longer distance than 10 km... I finally wore my lovely green REI jacket that Ken me a few years ago.  I can finally say it now.. this jacket is only one of my many reasons for wanting to get more fit.  It really didn't fit me when he first bought it for me... and every step I take... it is slowly starting to fit better. I can't wait to wear this jacket and not feel self conscious. 

All in all, this was a fabulous experience, one I hope to repeat.  Ah yes, my time, I ran 5km in 44:03.  My own personal best, and a great time to aim to break next time around.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Farewell, October

I came to the realization I love October.

It has been a busy but great month.  We brined a great bird and got to spend some time with loved ones for Thanksgiving, we had a great date night (we went on the local "Grave Tales" again after an amazing dinner), we took the kids to a pumpkin patch, decorated our house for Hallowe'en, and the festivities were great last night.

That being said, I think I am over Hallowe'en for another year.  It lasted just long enough, and I don't need to hear another chainsaw going off and shrieking kids for at least another 11 months.  It was a lot of fun though.

It is hard to believe next month is Christmas.  That I have been doing my 'not so new job' for a year, and that another school year is well under way. 

I am half tempted to try another NABLOPOMO.  Lets see if I can make it happen this month.  We are just finishing watching Lego Batman (not as good as Lego Star Wars) and I am tired.  It seems that with the return of the kids, our first fall colds is upon us.  This reminds me that November is not ever going to be the best time of the year to go on a big holiday.  Little ones, yes, but it is so important to watch the first colds.  They really do seem to hit for early November.

Show is over, and that is my moment.  Lets see if I can do this for a month, every day again. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A reminder of past books read

This was a book that I have been curious about for a few years. 

I used to love reading about Elizabethan times, and although I knew some about Henry VIII, I didn't really know that much about his wives, nor given much thought to the times, and really, what it would have been like in the royal courts..

To be continued.... (or edited)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wonderful surprise

This book sat on my "to read" pile for a while.  It came highly recommended (even if parts of it are sad) and I didn't get understand what this was about (somewhat like reading Unbroken a few months ago). 

What an amazing story.  This story is rooted in an historical event and it started off a little slow until I was fully engulfed by the story as it unfolded. 

A completely different novel, and well worth a read.  The women of this novel are memorable, and you are brought to a different understanding of how a time in history could be described.  The writing is very tight and there are passages (or images left behind) that I will remember.  Sorry this one is so short, it seems that time has escaped me this morning and I still need have a few morning errands to run....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brine that bird.

Last year was the first year that we ever "brined" a turkey.  I was truly skeptical.  Screw with tradition? Soak your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and a few other things to add a little taste?  Last year, it was hard to do until we tasted the final product.

So, for Thanksgiving this year, we went ahead and bought a free run, fresh, organic (happy bird) turkey and brined it for 2 days.

It was amazing.  The meat was falling off of the bone.  

We had a 20 pound fresh turkey, which I left in the fridge until my brine was ready.  I used Morton's fine kosher salt in my brine.

Recipe, more or less to brine a turkey.

Use a large canner or whatever container will fit your size turkey (don't use a garbage bag, think of that unhealthy plastic).

In a pan on the stove, I used a cup of salt, a cup of sugar, and about 3-4 cups of water.  I brought this to a boil, and then mixed it with 2 - 2.5 gallons of water in the canner.  To this I added fresh ground pepper, 2 sliced lemons, 2 sliced oranges, and some fresh rosemary.  Once we were back to "cold" water temperature, you add the cleaned out turkey (remove the giblets, etc).  

Let it brine for 1 - 2 days.

Recipe for our stuffing

Bags of bread crumbs
melted butter
some milk or cream
couple of beaten eggs
salt
pepper
poultry seasoning
sage
celery 
onion

I am terrible with proper recipes.  I just eyeball and taste, and use my hands to get the consistency that I want. I am not an "exact" cook, but I think that what I make tastes pretty good.  

We cooked it at 325 for about 5 hours stuffed.  Covered for the first half, and then we removed the cover.   Stuck some butter on the top to melt in, and ground more pepper on the bird. 

It was an awesome turkey.  We even used a gluten-free flour (Bobs' brand) to make the gravy and it was also really good.  

Turkey is one of those things that it is worth spending the money and getting a fresh, free run happy bird.  You don't find the turkey hangover is so bad, and the folks that usually have problems with turkey tend to find that they don't have issues with a healthier bird.

We had a few of our dinners early.  Tried for a large family gathering and it was a reasonable size, so with out leftovers, we invited some of the family we have chosen for a dinner the next night.   Next weekend I suspect we will break completely with tradition and perhaps go for a salmon just to keep it interesting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

That is the end of my thriller run...

It sounds like it could really be a good book.

It just didn't really do it for me.  I got halfway through and I more or less "took one for the team" to finish this one.

The thing is, Iles has some amazing thoughts and plots, and some characters that really draw you in, but for some reason, the last few I have read really did not do much for me.  I finished this a week ago (thank you magic of setting your own date) and it has already escaped me except for some moments that really made me roll my eyes.  It had a supernatural element that just didn't draw me in.  Interesting, but just not where I wanted this book to go.

This has been an incredibly fast month.  To say work has been busy is an understatement.  It has been a great learning experience, however, I could really do with less intense busy times and all the interruptions.   I cannot wait until Thanksgiving weekend if only to know that this phase of work is done.

So I will return to some more literary haunts for the next few books.  Outside of reading the Dovekeepers next, I am not sure what else is up.  I am definitely trolling for some more interesting reads to add to the list.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Another chapter in my thriller kick.

I did say that I was going to go on a thriller kick, right?  It being term start up, this type of book is just about right for where my head is at.  Or not at.  The last month has truly gone by in a blur.  I can't believe a month ago it was August, I was camping with the boys, and here it is, fall has arrived, the coolness is in the air, and the leaves are starting to fall.  The weather is getting unpredictable, and the boys have been trying on hoodies and snow pants to see what fits and what doesn't.  It is amazing that what fits in May is NOT what fits in September.  I smile when I see the pants turn in to floods... except when I realize what size pants B is already going in to. 

I do not have little kids by any stretch of the imagination.

So, back to the book at  hand.  I have never read a Coben, and a few have landed on my shelf recently.  Being on a "late summer" reading kick of thrillers, I thought, why not!  It is always interesting learning a new writer, seeing how they fit, and whether or not you like their style and the characters they craft.  I would say I liked this book, I am not over the moon, but it was interesting how everything came together in the end, I started to warm up to the story and the characters more.  I would say it was a fair to middling type book.  I won't rave about it, and it was worth a read.  I will have a go at another book in a few weeks and we shall see where we are at. 

This weekend, I finally got to see the movie, Reacher.  I think the last 15 minutes felt like classic Reacher (with how everything came together), but it just didn't quite hit the mark for me.  Cruise did a fine job - he is good at what he does.  However, it isn't really fair to cast him in a role where the lead character has a fan following, and although details may be sketchy, Reacher does get the girl on occasion, and he 6'5.  He is supposed to be huge.  Cruise is not huge.   He has charisma, he pulls off the role, just not always the character.  The plot at time tried to do too much, and I wished it moved a bit more, but then it started to come together and I can't say it was terrible, but it wasn't quite what I was hoping for either.  So rarely do we get the chance to watch a full movie (still), that I just want more from a flick when we get the chance to watch a movie that isn't geared for the under 10 set.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not quick up to first novel I read by them...

Without a doubt, French is a good writer.  I wish I could say that I enjoyed this book as much as I did the first book I read by her, but I didn't.

That being said, I loved certain parts of this book - I like reading about Dublin - I even recognized some of the places I have been.  I liked the accents, the dynamics, parts of the story.  There was also parts that stalled out for me, and some disconnects that made it harder to flow with the story as it unfolded.

It just wasn't quite as catchy as "In the Woods", which had really surprised me.   I would read more of her books, but I won't be rushing out to buy another one anytime soon.  I also can't say that I wanted to know a lot more about our lead character, or about the other characters.  I remember a lot of angst - I guess part of it I couldn't fully grasp was how disconnected Frank was from his family... it just didn't ring fully true for me.

There are a few more thrillers I am going to read before moving back to a different genre (lets see what ideas we come up with for book club).  I am enjoying them (they engage in a different way than 'literature' books do, they are escapist in a different way).  I think I started out with a few thrillers that were really well crafted that this book just didn't cut if for me, and I will happily trade it in at a used book store for my next read.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First week of school flu


Our household has had it's butt kicked in the last week by an early season flu.

I walked in to daycare one day last week to pick up my oldest, and I checked out one of his buddies, stretched out on the couch, flushed, glassy-eyed, obviously feverish, and I thought to myself "we are screwed".  Being away for just over three weeks, new germs, kids almost ready to go to school... I just had a feeling.  Especially when the next day, another one of his buddies had the same look, and ended up with strep.  Fast forward to the weekend, and our wee man goes down with a fever.  Sticks around a day or two, passes quickly.  He doesn't complain much, but isn't exactly behaving like his usual self either.  I must admit, I was pretty grateful it was a long weekend since we would not have been able to drop the kids off at daycare with a fever.  Today, he fell asleep on the couch before 6pm and I am hoping he sleeps through until tomorrow morning.

Then my hubby goes down.  Obviously feeling like crap, he misses work Tuesday.  

I whine my way through Tuesday - I have a headache and everything aches.  I felt like an old woman and just chalked it up, well to just being tired, not even thinking that I could also be getting sick.  At the end of the day, I get the call that Brandon has a fever, and a headache as well.  

Wednesday was a write off.  We totally had the flu.  I was hot, I was cold.  My head hurt, my body hurt, even my teeth hurt.  I think I started feeling better in time to make dinner.  No wait, I think I skipped this part yesterday.  B's fever was coming and going ... I think we drained the hot water tank a few times with alternating showers to help us feel better... and then this morning, 6am, no more fever.  I thought, yay, I will be able to make work tomorrow!  We did a cheap gas and dairy run, we had a tree taken down in our yard, and his fever returned.  After a 2 day fever, it was time to head in to a clinic.  

Confirmed, flu.  A real flu is kind of nasty.  At it's worst, it makes you feel pretty pathetic.  Everything hurts, your temperature fluctuates, you just don't feel good.  Then the advil kicks in and you feel better until it wears off, and the fever kicks back in again.  So, we are home tomorrow.  First week of September I have had off in 15 years excluding my mat leaves.  Strange feeling.

So, B is on the mend.  Fingers crossed, the fever is gone by tomorrow.  First week of grade 2 and he spent 1 hour there.  He gets to go to the office on Monday to find out who his teacher is.  How surreal. 
I am thinking we will be getting flu shots again this year if this is how the school year is starting.


Harry's back (Bosch that is)

I did make the comment that reading Gone Girl really was just cracking the door open to read a bunch of cop thrillers again right?

It was nice to visit an old literary friend again.  I think the Harry Bosch series and the Inspector Banks series are my favourite serial crime novels.  The characters, the pacing, the overall I have returned to again and again and never been disappointed by what I have read.

Harry is now chasing open unsolved cases and this book took him back to his own past to a case that he touched during the LA riots in 1992.  Very interesting book, very interesting how it all came together.  The end came together quickly, and left a few questions overall in the rush.  Reading this, and seeing how Connelly is developing the character of Bosch's daughter makes me wonder if the torch is going to shift in the coming years.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A summer read

How can my summer vacation be over?

Where did August go? It seems it was just a few weeks ago that B was turning 7 and we were looking ahead at a few camping trips.  It seemed that it would never get dark at night, and the mornings were bright from 4am.  Now it is dark at 6am, and the sun is going down at 8:15pm.  Fall is rapidly approaching.

Since I really should be chasing my kids, feeding them, and getting out of the house in a timely manner, I will keep this one short.

I figured since my last book counts as a thriller, it was time to jump back in to some less "literary" choices and go back to read some thriller/action books I have been stacking on my table for when the right mood hit.

This delivered a fast paced, action driven book.  I can't say it was over the top intellectual, but it was entertaining in the same way that reading a Nora Roberts book is.  The story is well crafted, Reacher is an interesting character, the good guys win and he hits the road again.  You kind of know what to expect, and there is worth in it.   Some days, that is just perfect.  Much like when summer is wrapping up, your mind is distracted with school starting again, and your errand list seems to be a mile long.  A light, entertaining novel is the perfect antidote!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

11.... not wait.. that is 10 weeks in

I just completed the last "run" of week 10.  I have now officially departed from the training schedule that I started out with and am going to blaze my own path from here.  I found that after week 9, the training went crazy (as I may have mentioned in one of my last posts) and I actually found it really alienating - I hit a bit of a mental wall when I considered running 7/2 min intervals to 10/1 min intervals one day, to 20/2 the next.  I really found it intimidating.

Since I am training against myself, and my own goals, I talked to a few fellow joggers and asked them what they did back in the day when they were training.  It seems, I am going to go with what works for me.  So I took a week off (work was really busy and I was trying to get out early on the Friday so I could join up with my boys on the Sunshine Coast) and then got back to it again this week.  I was worried - I was half paranoid that after a week off, I would lose some of the momentum that I had gained.  I got lucky - after a week, I could still run 7/2 mins.  PHEW.  Tuesday's run wasn't so fast, but Thursday and this morning have been much better.  It was a hurdle to get through.

A dear friend was in town this week, and we ran/walked together for the last two runs and it was really cool.  After so many times solo, it was really nice to have company on a run at 5:30 am in the morning. Crazy girl!  She also goes at this time - it is the time that works when you work full-time have a family. It made me appreciate "training".  She has been doing this now for a year and a half, and I can't wait to be faster, and able to go longer distances.  Ultimately I would be happy to be able to do a 10km within 80 minutes or less.  Currently, I am at about 7 km in 68-70 minutes.

The other thing about running with someone, that is also a mental hurdle for me.  I feel self conscious about my pace.  I am not speedy, but I am consistent.  Slowly, I am getting there.  Bit by bit, I am getting faster.  She couldn't quite run circles around me (okay maybe a few loops there and back), and I am pretty damn proud of her journey and where she has gotten herself.  I appreciate that she held back a bit to stick with me.  It meant a lot.  It was good to do my normal route, and then this morning we ran out at Pitt Lake.  I am glad I have never done this one on my own, and it was great to share it with her.  It was a really pretty run.  We ran in to some fishermen - apparently there are bass in the slew!   Our friendship has spanned many years and many different experiences and it is cool it now also includes our physical fitness journey as well.  Crazy that at 40 we are running together and at 16 we did everything we could to avoid physical activity.  We both shook our heads at this memory.  If only.

Time.  Training.  Consistency.

It really does come down to that.  First time being raining on this morning in all the 10 weeks I have been going out!  This has been a pretty impressive summer.  I have been truly spoiled and I have been thinking about what next - definitely considering a treadmill since I don't see heading to the gym in the morning, or a longer lunch hour happening anytime soon.

Hard to believe 10 weeks ago I could only run 1 minute.  Now I can run 8 minutes, and walk 2, and be out there for about 60 mins.  It is all about putting one foot in the front of the next, again and again.  I hope to do a few 5kms this fall - I would like to do one of the colour runs, and then the night run in November.  I think this has been a great way to embrace my 40th year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A crazy twist.

What a crazy thriller.  I have never read a book quite like this.  It takes what you are thinking and twists it on it's head, a few times.

Not what I expected, at ALL.

Well worth a read.  I had to tell Ken all about it since it was just such a different book.  Flynn deserves kudos for coming up with a plot and characters like this since my brain certainly doesn't work like this.   Like the Sixth Sense, I am not really going to give away much more of this because of the twists in this plot.

Of course, now that I have read a book like this again, I have a whole pile of summer thrillers that I will read next.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Major's Last Stand

This was a lovely read.  One of those cup of tea at your elbow and just kick back and enjoy a good book with some lovely repartee.

This is a story set in England - equally about manners and manors, as it is about relationships - parents and kids, new lovers, old lovers.

There are some great one liners in this book, and Major Pettigrew is a great character himself.  It was neat watching him fall in love again as a 67 year old with a Pakistani widow that unexpected steals his heart.  It is a lovely tale.  I wasn't so sure in the beginning, but the prose certainly won me over.

Enjoy this one.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

9 weeks

This morning, I finished off week 9 of my "learn to walk/run 10km" journey.  It almost felt like a first time getting out there - it was really hard to get up the motivation, get my gear on, and leave the house.  I am not sure if it was the change in the weather (a little cooler, which should have been motivating) or it just being another long week at work, but I was a slug.  Once I got halfway through my run, things got a little easier, and by the end, I was pretty satisfied.  You do feel better once you have the exercise done for the day - anything else is a bonus.

This week was run 7 mins, and walk 2 mins.  Next week, it jumps to run 10 mins and walk a minute.  See, I am not so sure about how I am supposed to get up to 10km per run in the next 4 weeks (13 week program) when I am running between 5.5 - 6.5 km per time out, and the runs shorten in length in the next few weeks.  Maybe most people out there get moving faster, but I am staying more at the same pace and building on my endurance.  I did a 9 minute segment today, so I know I can do 9... so I guess I started to feel better in my run today when I decided that I would modify week 10 if I need to, and realistically, even add time to my runs to make sure that I am slowly building up the distance I can cover in a shorter amount of time.

Between my walks and runs this week, I covered over 30 km!!! I think part of the reason it was tough today is that I undermined myself a bit yesterday and was trying on all sorts of clothes I have - ones that have never fit, ones that didn't really fit when I bought them, some hand me downs I got from a friend that lost weight last year... at the end of the day, my clothes are fitting better. Some of the ones I want to fit in to, I am not quite there yet.. but it is coming.  I do understand that slow is better - it is a lifestyle change I am after, not a quick drop of some weight and then it all comes back on as soon as I go back to my evil ways.  I can feel my legs getting stronger, and my endurance (and confidence) is growing.  Shirts are fitting better, and I think I am overall feeling better.

I love being able to run out of my door, and I am running beside the Fraser River along an amazing path within minutes.  This was one of the reasons I wanted to move back here, and I am so glad that I am doing it.  Physical exercise was a disconnect in my life, and I am getting I am working on it.  It is good for my head.  I am out and hitting the dykes at sunrise.  I have seen some amazing sunrises this summer.  When I think about my 40th year, I will think about the amazing weather this summer, getting active again, my kids getting older, a fabulous date with my hubby, (hopefully) some great camping trips, and just embracing this next decade.

It has helped to blog about running.  It was a hard one this morning.  I could have happily not gone out.   I felt so much better for having gone out, and for the cold water that was waiting for me.  I need to remember these moments - and hold on to them.  It is not easy to keep up motivation every day.  In August, we have a few camping trips planned, and I will work at keeping up with 3 runs a week.  I may even run on my camping trips.   This is unheard of.  I remember when I went on a canoeing trip with a dear friend, and she went for a run before we headed out to the lake - I thought she was nuts.  I think I understand why a little better now - especially since I have discovered I like to run first thing in the morning.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another surprising read

This book surprised me.  I liked it from the beginning, even if it wasn't the book that I expected it to.  Then, it got really good, and work was getting in the way of finishing the novel.  Then the end seemed to come and wrap up so fast!

This is a story of redemption, of love, of mothers and daughters, and of hope.  This is a good story.  I like how the author wove the present with the past, and how the threads of a life separate and then come back together again.  I cannot say that I always like the our heroine, Victoria, but I could certainly appreciate her.  I found the part with her baby and how she struggled with breastfeeding to bring back memories of my own struggles.  I am so glad to be beyond that now, but we very rarely ever discuss just how hard breastfeeding can actually be.  It may be natural, but learning how to do it is far from a natural gift!

I am glad that many of my favourite flowers have positive meanings (tulips, declaration of love, and red roses, love) for my wedding flowers.. I love my dahlias, dignity, and a few others.  It was certainly a different kind of book, and although the story moved towards a happy ending, I was glad for it, since it ultimately tied the pieces of the story together well.

It is hard to believe it is already August.  We did some pretty big yard work this year, pulled plants, moved some plants, cut some back, but we still have a wild yard.  It is nice to put down some roots, and  know we have time for things to change, grow, and evolve over time.  That is one thing I have learned since we moved here - everything doesn't happen at once.  I thought it would, that we had to everything done right away.. things wait.  Life moves on.  Other things become important.  Priorities shift.  All those buzz words to explain why I have four plants in their pots sitting out front, and the garden I cleared of yuccas now has a brand new crop growing in with the forget-me-nots that sprung up within a week of me clearing out the weeds.  Last year, I couldn't bear to pull out the yucca plants.  In a burst of energy, I pulled a bunch this year.  This is of course, before I learned just how determined these plants are.  They are growing everywhere.  So much for worrying about killing this plant.  It is back! As are the thistles.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A lovely read...

Every now and then a book comes along that grabs you within the first pages, and you can't put it down.

I loved this book.  This will be one that I remember when the year is done and I am trying to remember what were the best 5 books that I read all year. 

This is a modern day Jane Eyre, and it is beautifully written.  Although there may be slight imperfections in the story, Gemma is an heroine that is easy to embrace, and her tale of pushing forward is one that was equal parts compelling and enjoyable to discover.  I liked the period setting, and that it took place in Scotland and Iceland.  It was foreign and familiar all at once. 

After I finished this book a few days ago, it took me a while to want to pick up another one.  It also helps I was really tired before bed each night, but it was almost a let down trying to figure out "what next".  My oldest is now 7 years old.  How did that happen?  We have celebrated birthdays, and then battled the stomach flu, and now the summer continues to race on.  After yesterday's run, I discovered that I was indeed a slug on Sunday morning.  I guess my body knew that something was coming (read stomach flu) and I was moving at a much slower pace for that jog - almost 1.5 minutes slower each mile than Wednesday morning! Learning new stuff all the time...

The curse of the white shirt also struck this morning.  I should have recognized the sign when I got toothpaste on my shirt this morning.  Got that all cleaned up and walked in to work to look down and see chocolate icing all over the front.  Classy look!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seven weeks.

Gotcha eh? I bet you aren't expecting me to say that I am seven weeks in to a run/walk 10km training program... You know better, our two lovely children are more than enough!

I can't believe it has been 7 weeks.  In the beginning, I could jog 1 minute, and would walk 4 minutes.  That first training piece was 35 minutes.  This mornings jog (end of week 7 of 13 weeks of training) was 54 minutes... I can now run 4 minutes 40 seconds, and then I walk 1 minute 20 seconds.  For week 8, it jumps to 5 minutes jogging, and 1 minute of walking.  I am doing the old school Sun Run training from years ago that plans your training over 13 weeks.  You start off with the 30 second segments and end up being able to run about an hour.  In the very least, I would love to be able to run for 15-20 minutes, and then stop for a minute, and then continue on.  Maybe once I feel like I am in a decent place with this, my goal would be to go out for 45 minutes, 3 days a week.  That would be about 4 miles/6-7 km I think.  Seems reasonable...

Now why does it feel better to say JOGGING and not running?  I think it is because I feel if I say jogging, no one expects me to be sprinting.  I also am not really a running fan.  Jogging, I can get behind!  Who knows why that really means something to me.

The last seven weeks have passed quickly. I have come to look forward to my jogs, and seeing how far I have come, and what I can do now.  I am glad to be doing something physical again.  I am running at 5:20ish in the morning.  The mornings have been amazing as the sun is coming up about 5:40 and the weather this June and July has been exceptional.

I plan to do a 5km in early September (Run or Dye) and I hope to do a 10km in early November.  Next year, I will be doing the Sun Run and who knows what else.  I don't really see any distances beyond a 10km in my future, but who knows.  I used to be only able to run for a minute.  Perhaps a year of training, and 10kms will be nothing! Who KNOWS!  It is amazing, but training works.

Consistency, a little at a time.  Not setting a crazy, blistering pace.  Just getting out there.  I love the quiet mornings.  This morning's jog was the first time I have gone for a run and it has been "soothing".  The rhythm of just moving, and watching the run, and looking at the fields as they slowly moved by, and looking out for slugs, listening to the frogs, in a word, awesome.

It also really helps to talk to other people that run, or are training, and have physical goals.  We help to motivate each other.  It also helps to put it out there, since people ask you then, and it helps keep (me at least) accountable.  It also means the world that when the alarm goes off at 5:10 am, my dear hubby rolls over, and says to me "running day!".  It all helps.  Especially the support at home.  I have a skirt I want to fit in to by September, and a coat he bought me a few years that has never fit and I LOVE.  One day I will post a picture of me in this lovely green coat and I will NOT look like a stuffed sausage in it.  Goals are so important, as are little rewards along the way.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Better than others in this genre

It feels like admitting to a guilty pleasure that I enjoyed this book.  In the beginning 100 pages, I could feel my slightly feminist side starting to come out as the lead female character was pretty hopeless for a while.  There are some pretty opinionated reviews about this book, and many of them seem to seize on different aspects of the Witch's (Diana) or the Vampire's (Matthew) character that are negative and positive (okay, mostly not all that favourable to how parts of this relationship are developed) in the early stages of this book.  Read in this way, there are definitely elements of this novel that I can't say thrilled me.

Then you get caught up in the story, and stop trying to analyze every element, and truly what kind of portrait of "man" or "woman" is being painted.  I enjoyed it.  I like how the story evolved, and that there is the group of 9 (3 daemons, 3 witches, and 3 vampires) that form a counterbalance to the congregation.  I enjoyed it.  I would like to read the next in this trilogy, I won't run to pick it up since the third book isn't even close to being published. but having suffered through Twilight, this is a far better use of your time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July?

What, I turn 40 and weeks start to go even faster?  What is up with that.  I have written a great any posts (in my head of course), and read a few books, and I have even started to jog a few miles here and there.  I figured I would start with a catch up post, and then likely I will work some "time" magic and post backwards at list the books I have read since I last posted in early June.

The biggest thing for me is that I have finally decided to fix one of the main disconnects in my life - that is to get more physical activity - for stress relief, to connect with my body again, of course to lose weight, but also to just feel better.  I think this has been a process that I have been working up to since last September, and it is finally coming together.  I have started a run/walk 10 km program like the one I did for the Sun Run in 2002 (OMFG that was a lifetime ago).  It really does start with just putting one foot in the front of the next and just going for it.  It helps I am walking a lot more at work, and it really wasn't that big of a leap that first week.

Of course, these 13 week programs start you off fairly gently with a 30 second run and then a 4 minute/30 second walk.  For the first half of the training, you go up by 30 second increments until your body can handle less breaks and more "runs".  I am more of a plodder, but I am slowly getting there.  It feels great to be doing this - I am doing it.  I haven't not been able to make 3 runs a week, and I am not almost done my 6th week of training! 

I am not out to set any speed records, I am out to beat personal bests (considering I think I can run more now at 40 than I could at 16 that isn't hard) and to just do it, for me, for my family.  I am running at 5:30 am, and I like it.  What has happened.  I am channeling my family heritage and embracing mornings.  I kind of like them, it is almost a secret.  We are having an awesome summer, and running at 6am, before everyone is out, and it is just the hint of a warm day, it is pretty magic.  I feel lucky to be out there.  I am also finding strange an unusual things on my jogs: sunglasses, a blackberry charger, a man's watch, and some mini levels.  Strange.

The running is my exciting change. The weather is also awesome.  I can't remember a July starting off this nicely.  My little peanut is now 4, and my big guy is almost 7.  We are planning his first birthday party with friends and he will be going gold panning.  I am happy to be embracing some of our BC heritage at Fort Langley.  We even get to have a bonfire!! Now how cool is that? 

Did I mention B and I also picked 34 pounds of berries and I made 15 jars of strawberry jam?  Seriously, it just seems the weeks are going by so fast.  It is either Friday, or Monday.  Or garbage day.  I guess that is the next honey do to cross off of my list tonight as I wait for ICBC to answer the phone.  The ongoing saga with my vehicle.  Still not fixed.  Still not happy with the business doing our repair.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to the travelling pants

I have read all of the books, except for the fourth, and I am not quite sure why.  Maybe it came out in the middle of me having my kids.  A few things happen culturally during those early years that I am still oblivious too.  Then again, maybe I did read it and it just didn't sink in as much as the first two books did.

This was a total summer read for fans of this series.  I loved the first few books, and then they just flowed, and now this one.  I really enjoyed the female friendships, the angst of growing up, and even now, the angst of growing up.  I have read about these girls for a decade and it is like reading a Nora Roberts book (since I started reading those when I was 15).. it is a little bitter sweet, maybe not always intellectually stimulating, but enjoyable. 

I suspect another book in this series to continue the story, I was a bit surprised how some of the storyline evolved, sad how one thread ended, and happy how another thread ended (avoiding a few spoilers here just in case).  All in all, a lovely, light-hearted read that suited the moments when I read it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Mistress of Nothing

A friend recommended this one - and I had just tried to get in to a book about Egypt, failed, and then tried this one.  This is a really quick, interesting read.  It brought memories of when I was in Egypt, and when I actually got to stay in the Shepheard's Hotel in downtown Cairo.  A magical few weeks another lifetime ago.

This is a book based loosely on a true story, about an English maid (Sally) that travels with her mistress to Egypt (Lady Duff).  Lady Duff left several letters describing her trips to Egypt behind and they are widely celebrated.  Much is known about her, some of her bondsman(??) Omar, but very little is known about Sally.   Lady Duff made several trips to Egypt for health reasons, since she was declining quickly in England. 

The prose is elegant, this is a fast read, and it paints a totally different aspect of Egypt in the 19th century from a female, privileged position counterbalanced by that of her body servant.  Sally does this unthinkable in this novel, she dares to fall in love with the married Egyptian that Lady Duff hires to act as their guide in all things Egypt.  At the time, in Egyptian culture, men could have more than one wife, and eventually, Sally finds herself pregnant.  When giving birth, Lady Duff discovers the deception and blames Sally for her happiness, for her birth, and for her transgressions.  Sally truly becomes the "Mistress of Nothing" as she loses all rights and Lady Duff forces her from her home, and to give up her child to Omar's other family.  It is a story of love and survival, and just not the usual kind of story (or ending for that matter).  Well worth a read.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Does reading a book while waiting for your kids to get their haircut count?

Dare I count this as one of the books I have read this year?  It really isn't a long book, and there are a lot of pictures.  I pretty much read the entire thing waiting for the boys to get their hair cut.  It is a damn funny book, especially having been around long enough to see glow in the dark colours coming back and acid wash jeans.  *SIGH*

Mullets.  They do make a statement.  Everything you need to know about the mullet is in this book.  Great to flip through at the hairdressers.  It does count, right?  Lots of pictures, included a comic, even a history lesson!



The missing tale

This is a book I have tossed and turned about whether or not I really wanted to read it, and I was quite happy when one of the ladies in my book club said she wanted to read it.  I happily put in my order through an online bookseller (is there any other way?).

Seeing as I am working some date magic with these posts, it has been a few weeks since I finished reading this book.  I enjoyed it.  More than I thought I would, and it felt like the kind of book you read with your ankles crossed by a fire, a mug of tea, and your cat hanging about.  The characters are quite lovely, and there are parts of the story that seem to not move so much, but overall, a decent read.  I think what will stick with me are some of the Gothic titles I haven't read yet that this work owes a few nods too (like Wilkie's Woman in White).   I enjoyed how things came together in the end, but I didn't find it all that tense and mystical about the 'ghost'.  Definitely interesting, but I somehow think when I reflect back on a year's worth of reading, these characters are not going to be the first ones clamoring for my attention.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Funny how books land in your lap following a similar theme

Talk about bookend type books.  To have read Inferno followed up by Sanctus illustrates the difference between a Peter Robinson book and one by John Grisham IMHO.

This was a quick read - a religious conspiracy novel that is fast-paced, superficial, summer type read that didn't quite satisfy my appetite for a good, well researched read. 

What this book did do however, was rekindle my desire to one day travel to Turkey.  This is book 1 of a trilogy, and like a few other series, if I ended up with copies of the books for free, and a need for escapist literature, great.  If I have to pay to read the next books, no thanks. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

round and round

I am sitting here, catching up on computer related tasks.  Everyone else is asleep, and the fish tank is humming along in the background.  My cat is curled up on my lap, and every now and then I need to shift positions and he is not all that happy that I have disturbed his sleep.  He is mostly a lovely cat.  Like all cats, he has his moments.  Especially in the last few years since he found his voice, which I would prefer he would lose again (ha). 

This has been a week of pulling back and trying to refocus.  The last two weeks have passed by in a typical blur - with a few truly lovely moments thrown in for good measure.  My 40th wasn't quite what I expected.  That being said, I spent a lovely day with my family at the aquarium, folks came for cake, and some friends at work spoiled me.  I received some lovely cards from loved ones, and roses from my man.  The stuff that matters.  Having a big party wasn't a huge priority this year.  I was talking to my sister from another mister and she remembered her 30th being like my 40th.  Young kids impact your ability and desire to want to party.   We almost had a few parties, but we bailed when we realized it was a great idea, but the execution of said parties just wasn't happening with the little free time that has been available.  Maybe a random party in the summer, or better yet, smaller gatherings with groups of friends. 

Work has been a completely different challenge these last six months. I have grown in ways I didn't see coming, and I am hoping that I am becoming a decent manager/supervisor along the way, but also learning how to manage myself better and uncover/deal with some of my own weaknesses as well. 

Tonight has been important to have some moments to catch up on a few book posts, to hang with the cat, to clear out some work emails (I know, not on work time but it will make my day so much better not having almost 100 emails in my in box when I come in).  This week has too many plans.   Physio appointment for B, track and field, book club, a concert on Thursday, birthday party Friday night if my energy holds out, parade/fire works on Saturday, and then I believe, on Sunday we may rest. No wait, laundry and planning for the week!  The weeks truly do roll over quickly.  I know someone without kids that is complaining how tired and overwhelmed they are - they aren't even living with their partner!  Just wait... but not worth totally popping their bubble.. enjoy the space you are in... the part that continues to surprise me is how much personal management and routines mean. 

Speaking of routines, it is amazing how hard it can be to start a new routine.  I want to start jogging, but it continues to be a concept, and an idea for me.  I guess the more I talk about, the more I am getting comfortable with the idea, the closer it gets to becoming a reality.  It is about making the space for it to happen.  I attempted to take the kids with me on my first walk/jog on Sunday.  That was also a learning experience.  Sometimes it is better to just take the 40 minutes for yourself and not always try to "kill two birds with one stone".  Between the complaining, and the bathroom needs, and then the I don't want to do this, to I don't want to go home... it wasn't exactly a first time out, and we did get out for some fresh air and exercise so we accomplished "something". 

First step- taking my lunch walk again tomorrow.  Getting back to routines, and mapping out new ones.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Back to yet another series...

Inferno felt like a summer movie - well paced, decent writing, and exciting.   Sometimes moving so fast it is borderline superficial at times, this book is definitely entertaining.  I think that this latest chapter in the Robert Langdon series will stick with me longer than The Lost Symbol, it was certainly a return to form in many ways.  There is an underlying formula to how Brown crafts his novels, but can you blame him?  It works.  Da Vinci code is one of the most wide read books in the modern world, and there are ideas embedded in all of his works that are great to get to a mainstream audience and get people talking.  Compare some of what is contained in Inferno to 50 shades, and really, Inferno wins hands down, IMHO.  I have the urge to go and dig out my copy of Dante's Inferno from my university days. It would be interesting to read it now.  Twenty years ago I didn't really grasp what Inferno was about, even though I loved  and searching out the etiology of words, places, and even choices of colour in literature.  

Obviously it was an enjoyable read.  There were parts of this book that weren't always cohesive, and there are a few twists (of course, being Brown).  Langdon is still the coolest professor since Indiana Jones, and his women are interesting, to say the least.  Inferno tromps through the pages of Dante's masterpiece, and casts light on the issue of overpopulation and introduces a new philosophy - transhumanism.  I will take away from this book the unsettling awareness of our population growth, memories of biology courses, and looking at some of the population graphs out there.  There are some truths in this work, such as that the mind will only explore the negative for so long before it will distract itself.  Food for thought, entertaining, solid read if this is up your alley.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

A "419" you say?

Was that really my 40th?  Talk about time blitzing by at lightning speed.  So much for dwelling on that experience!  I got a new book for my birthday (Inferno!!), so I really needed to finish this current book, 419 by Canadian writer Will Ferguson.  This is a far cry from How to be a Canadian... 

I really had no idea what this book was about - I did know that it won the 2012 Giller.  I also had no idea before getting in to this book what a "419" was.  Now I do.  For me, this was a provocative novel, and I really enjoyed the first half more than the second half.   It was eye opening in the sense that the story shifted between different main characters, physical locations (somewhere in Alberta and then Nigeria), and different chronological sequences.  For me, this was almost a great book.  The central idea was good, but Ferguson almost tried to do too much - in a way I would have been happier if the story unfolded through one person's perspective, or if it was actually longer since some of the story I really enjoyed, and other parts didn't really feel at that connected.  Some of the characters didn't feel fully realized, and I had unanswered questions throughout.  Definitely an interesting read, just not completely satisfying (if that makes any sense at all).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Friends only in my head...

This was a great summer read.  This was a truly unique concept as this is the story of an autistic boy (undiagnosed) and his imaginary friend.  The story takes place over two weeks, and it is a really quick read.  It did get under my skin a bit and I was anxious to finish the book last night to see how things evolved.   There were parts I found a ... meh ... for lack of a better word, but overall this book does work. This is a book about imagination, and I loved reading about the lives of our imaginary friends, and how they exist, and then how they cease to be.  This is a bit of a magic book in the sense that it opens up your mind to remember a bit of your childhood, to think about why kids invent or have imaginary friends, and then even to consider the power of our imaginary friends.

I stumbled across the author's website, and he seems like quite the character himself.  It is a whole different element of reading and consuming books that their authors are so much more accessible now.  I remember reading the Black Stallion series when I was a kid, and I wrote to Walter Farley... only to find out after the fact that he was an older gentleman and likely no longer answering fan mail (back in the stone ages we didn't have wikipedia to look this kind of information up).  Now we can use social media and connect, or lurk through the net and see what has been posted.  It is a good and bad thing this whole idea of celebrity and what is "out there".

Well worth a read - likely it would have been fun to have discussed at our book club last month.  Maybe I can sneak in a few words or questions and see what the other folks thought of it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Morning Shenanigans

I think the last days of my 30s are speeding up beyond my control.  Next week, that 40s milestone looms and I am thinking about it, and in many ways thinking about it because it does feel a bit anticlimatic.  It may have to do with the ages of our kids, and the fact that life is generally pretty busy, and it does seem like I am on a pretty good treadmill sometimes.  Who knows.  Will be an interesting experience to blog through.

This last weekend went by way way way too quickly.  It was good, just no time for the wicked to rest.  Out for a kids playdate and hang out with their cool folks on Friday, and then Saturday breezed by between painting, riding, usual trip to the states, a little bit of chillaxing at night with my honey, and then Sunday blitzed by between chores, a lovely high tea with my mom for Mother's Day (yes, a little early, makes life easier), trip to the park, and then this morning, chores before work, getting the boys ready for the day, making lunches, organizing items for my dad to take to the dump, and then the sprint out the door.  At least it is now summer traffic mode and it was an amazing drive in today.

Both bathrooms are now painted with fixtures hung.  They look so much better.  A lovely terra cotta in one, and then "dragon fire" orange in the other.  Pretty stunning colours.  One more bathroom to go and then likely no more painting until next year or whenever we crack and replace the floor in our living room.  It is terrifically ugly and gets stained by a look.  *SIGH*.

This week is going to be a blur, B has a playdate tonight, and we have track and field, physio, karate, and on Friday night we rest, or I fall over.  The next big project will be to get my front flower bed looking better.   I would  love to get a handle on it this week and get this off of my "honey do" list.  We shall see how long my energy lasts.  I figure once my projects are completed, I will start training to do a 10 JOG (not run) this fall.

Friday, May 3, 2013

30s, slowly going down the drain

Forty does not look like what I figured it would.  Hard to believe it was a decade ago already when I was staring down thirty in the face.  Thirty seems like a bigger deal - we went to Vegas, we had a cool backyard party, lots of cakes and people asking how I felt about turning the big 3-0.  Speed forward (literally) the next 10 years, and here we are.  Two kids, a new house, busy work, and not a lot of free time - and it has nothing to do with Ken and I being busy... it is our kids and work and commuting! 

I think I will push back a midlife crisis at least 5 years, I am just not all that fussed about turning 40.  It seems a bit surreal, and I am not fretting.  As I said, a decade ago 30 was the big deal, 31 was anticlimactic, and my thirties have been damn busy with marriage, kids, buying a house, switching jobs, redefining myself along the way.  Forty almost is a relief - I know myself better, kids aren't babies anymore, in a few years, less daycare costs (a small victory here).  I have been trying to figure out what I would like to achieve in the next year (not quite resolutions, but close).  I could call it my "turning 40 bucket list"... This next year I would love to try stand up paddle boarding, I would also love to attempt another 10 km run (aiming for this fall if I can get my ass off the couch and out of the house three days a week to train... doesn't sound too bad except the execution), achieve some house improvements (bathrooms painted, gardens updated), learn and IMAC and actually make some photobooks or print out some photos, and keep reading different books and continue knitting some projects.  The big ones are the paddle boarding and getting a little more fit.  I am trying to get out for daily walks, but I would really look look here a year from now and to have shed some of myself - say 20 pounds (at least, I want it to be a realistic goal since weight loss has always been hanging around my neck). 

I think it is going to be a busy month - between karate, track and field, play dates, wrapping up school year, birthday, long weekend (fingers crossed about a campfire at some point), and some good weather (small victory in itself) will be interesting to see where we are at in the beginning of June.  Enough already, time to prepare for the day.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Appreciating the west

What a refreshing 250 page book! (laugh at self inserted here after the longer reads I have recently tackled).  There are so many reasons why I love to read - to learn something, to be moved, for escape, to grow,to laugh out loud, to name a few.  This was a powerful novel, especially considering that it is a first novel (although that begs the question, after you get this kind of praise and make it as the first book on a certain powerful woman's book club relaunch, where do you go from here?).  I really enjoyed the narrative - it was a different way to tell a story.  This novel is about Hattie Shepard, and each chapter is crafted from the perspective of one of her children or grandchild.  Over her lifetime, there are sweeping personal events that are related against the backdrop of history. 

After reading the section about the Jim Crow laws of the land, it made me appreciate we are not from the South, and that is not truly part of the fabric of the Canadian west.  Especially living in a multicultural city, working in a large institution that welcomes diversity, these attitudes seem so far away.  I recognize this is an idealistic comment and that there is racism here, and that different cultures rub up against each other and not always in positive ways, however I am glad that this isn't such a part of our history to escape or grow from, since parts of it are still alive and well in the south (we have our own issues to tackle such as the East Side or engaging our Aboriginal populations in a more positive manner since they are a growing part of our Canadian population). 

I have a somewhat weird comment to make about this book - I don't always read the jacket covers, but this one describes Hattie as "She vows to prepare [her children] for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not live them, a world that will not be kind.  Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother's monumental courage and the journey of a nation."  I can't really say that this describes the book - or perhaps my definition of courage is one that needs to grow when I reflect upon the contents of this book and what courage means to me.  We don't truly see a lot of Hattie beyond the first chapter (which shapes the course of her life with a preventable tragedy) and the final chapter (when Hattie seizes a moment to demonstrate love and kindness for one of her brood to perhaps change her life path in a way she never reached out to her direct children) and perhaps this is the point.  We see hints of the strong, dynamic, ferocious woman that is Hattie, fighting to keep her kids alive and fighting to keep her family together, but we don't always get insight in to her she truly is.  There are glimpses, such as in the chapter about her daughter Ruthie, but it can be like quicksilver.  This is a great book, and like a few of the books I have  been recently reading, I expect this to become a part of our modern canon. 

How the threads of the novel wrap together is beautifully crafted.  This isn't always an easy read to digest, this is telling a series of stories you don't often get a glimpse in to.  Like any good novel, there are transcending moments that connect humanity to each other, those gems within the story that make you stop and think and reflect upon what the words mean to you, in your drama as it plays across your stage.