Friday, December 31, 2010

My Life According to the Books I Read in 2010

I did this fun little book meme last year on New Year's Eve and had so much fun doing it that I decided to do it again this year. In fact, I intend to do this meme every year on New Year's Eve as long as I'm reading and blogging.

I hope you give this one a try, too. Leave a comment and let me know if you post this one so I can be sure to come by and check out your life according to the books you read in 2010!

Using only titles of books that you read this year (2010), complete the prompts below. Try not to repeat any book titles.

Describe yourself:
Ravishing In Red by Madeline Hunter

How do you feel:
All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

Describe where you currently live:
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Looking for Alaska by John Green

Your favorite form of transportation:
Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen

Your best friend is:
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

You and your friends are:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

What's the weather like:
"Winter's Passage" by Julie Kagawa

Favorite time of day:
Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

What is life to you:
The Gift by Nora Roberts

Your fear:
Betrayal in Death by J.D. Robb

What is the best advice you have to give:
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

Thought for the day:
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

How I would like to die:
Purity In Death by J.D. Robb

My soul's present condition:
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My 3rd Blogoversary!

I started this blog three years ago today as a place to share my thoughts on bookish things, and while that intention has remained largely true, my blog has inevitably transformed itself from a book blog to a personal one. These days my posts now include a variety of topics that interest me such as adventures with my family, personal goals and achievements in health and fitness, an original recipe now and then and whatever else comes to mind.

I'm thankful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog whether you have been with me since the beginning or if you have just recently found me. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave a comment--blogging is so much more fun and rewarding when I can interact with my audience-- yet I'm also thankful for my regular visitors who rarely or never leave a comment. I'm forever flattered that all of you are interested in what I have to say. Especially since I find I talk about myself a lot. :)  

Cheers! :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In Death Challenge Post: December 2010

Interested in joining the Challenge? Anyone is welcome to join in at any time of the year at wherever in the series you currently are. See the sign up post HERE
and join the fun!

This is the 12th monthly round up post of the In Death Reading Challenge! Can you believe we've been reading and discussing this series for a whole year already? Some of us--myself included-- aren't even halfway through the series yet, either! It seems I'll never catch up to Nora! If we keep up this pace, though, we'll get there eventually and finally be among the readers who wait for the release of the next In Death book, pre-ordering our own copy or stalking our library new release shelf! In the meantime, let's keep the fun rolling and continue reading and discussing the In Death series into 2011. Are you all still game for 2011? Any newcomers?


Link up any In Death posts you made this month here. If you made a post on your blog whether it be a review or commentary, please grab the link to your post and enter in the Mr. Linky below along with your name so we can find each other's latest In Death posts easily.

If you're just keeping a running list of the books as you read them, grab the link to your list post and enter in the Mr. Linky so we can recognize your success this month.

If you're reading or rereading without documenting it on your blog, let me know in the comments which book(s) you read in this month. This will also help me keep track of who's eligible for the challenge giveaway this month!

NOTE: In order to be eligible for the challenge giveaway in December 2010, you must have read four In Death books between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 and have documented that you have either on your own blog or on my blog within the comments of the monthly In Death Reading Challenge posts.


Imitation In Death by J.D. Robb
Book 19

I planned on reading this book this week, but realized I have several books out from the library that are overdue or due next week with no renewals and I really want to read them first. So I may or may not finish Imitation In Death by the end of the month. I don't feel too disappointed about it, because I read a total of 14 In Death books this year, which is two more than my goal, so that's a plus. :)



As promised, I am going to do a little giveaway for the participants in this challenge. One randomly selected winner will receive their choice of a US $5 gift card to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Amazon, B&N or the purchase of a US $5 book from The Book Depository. To qualify for the giveaway, you must do or have done the following:

1. Be signed up for the In Death Reading Challenge in this post HERE either with Mr.Linky or in the comments if you do not have your own blog.
2. Have read FOUR In Death novels between September, 2010 and December 31, 2010.
3. Have documented the In Death novels you have read for the challenge by:

Maintaining a running list somewhere on your blog
Posting reviews or commentary on your blog
Having notified me which book(s) you read in comments on any of the In Death Challenge posts
Any combination of the above.

Pretty simple. Read four In Death books between September and December, 2010, leave me proof, and voila! You're in the drawing.

I'll select a winner in the first week of January 2011.  .... 2011! Gah!

Thank you all for all the great In Death series discussions this year and I'm looking forward to more in 2011! :) 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May your Christmas be joyous and bright! 

The following stop motion video was created by my fifteen year old daughter using iMovie and approximately 150 still photos that she took with her Canon Rebel XT. Her camera was set on a tripod, and with the camera remote in her hand, she snapped photos every couple of minutes while we decorated our Christmas tree. She captured plenty of smiles, a few funny faces, a lot of hugs and even a few kisses. Enjoy! :) 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse Photos

Happy Winter Solstice!  :)

Did you get to see the lunar eclipse early this morning? I hope you did, because this particular lunar eclipse event is a pretty rare event... the last Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse was 456 years ago!!!

We were very fortunate to have very clear skies last night in the New York Metro area, so we were able to view the entire eclipse. It was really quite a show.

The eclipse took place in our EST time zone from around 1:30 am to I think 5 am, so my husband and I got out of bed at 1:30 am, bundled up and set up outside to watch and photograph the eclipse. We tried to wake up our daughters a couple of times, both of whom were quite determined as of a few hours prior to stay up for the entire eclipse, but in the end, were near impossible to rouse from sleep! I tried waking up our 11 year old three times, even just to look at moon out her window, but I couldn't even get her to open her eyes. The teen at least sat up to look out her window twice, followed by a "maybe I'll come out in a few minutes..." So instead of it being a family affair, viewing the eclipse last night very early this morning turned into a romantic star gazing rendez-vous for two! :)

My husband and I set up our tripods side by side in the yard and took pictures every several minutes--apart for nearly two hours. It was pretty darned cold outside in the mid 20s (-4 C), so we were going into the house every so often to thaw and once for a bowl of cereal and milk. :) Why is it that cereal tastes so much better in the middle of the night than it does in the morning for breakfast?

Anyway, thanks to my husband's expertise and assistance with adjusting and tweaking the manual settings on my camera (you should see his pictures!), I was able to get some neat pictures of the eclipse. These are a few of my favorites:

1:55 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:00 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:12 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:19 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:22 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:34 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:44 am EST
December 21, 2010

At this point, the earth's shadow was now blocking most of the moon's brightness so I needed to do a quick adjustment to allow more light to reach the lens. Now I was able to capture the red glow of the eclipsed moon in the photos. We were already able to see the reddish hue of the eclipsed portion of the moon with our naked eye for the last 20 minutes or so, but I couldn't capture it with the camera when there was still a sliver of the moon so brightly lit by the sun.

2:44 am EST
December 21, 2010

2:54 am EST
December 21, 2010

3:09 am EST
December 21, 2010

3:19 am EST
December 21, 2010

I took my last photo at 3:29 am and called it a night. I was too cold and too tired to stick it out for the second half of the event when the earth's shadow moved off the moon.

Did you get to see the lunar eclipse where you live?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Library Loot XXIX

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week's Library Loot is at Marg's.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I forgot to list this book in my library loot post last week. I just love the cover art to this one with the city buildings in the background, the street signs, the snow, and the heart in the pedestrian crossing light--so cute.

I first heard of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares from Mel who blogs at He Followed Me Home........ Can I Keep Him? several weeks ago. Not only did Mel give the book a very positive review, but once I picked up on the fact that this story takes place in New York City at Christmastime, I just knew it would appeal to me. The premise sounds really fun, too. The main characters are two teens who are as opposite as can be with their sentiments towards Christmas. Dash is to the Grinch as Lily is to Cindy Loo Who and yet they develop a relationship by writing back and forth to each other in a notebook that Lily shelves in the bookstore The Strand (a real, live NYC bookstore, too!) and Dash finds. I was sold. Again. Plus it is co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan who also co-wrote Nick and Nora's Infinite Play List, which I read and enjoyed some time ago. Both authors have extensive titles published individually as well.

I plan on reading Dash & Lily's Book of Dares next week along with another Christmas themed novel--The Gift by Nora Roberts. This time last year, I read the historical romance anthology, The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick & Courtney Milan and discovered that I really enjoyed reading holiday themed stories in the days before Christmas, adding a little extra boost to my Christmas spirit in a similar way as watching Christmas movies. :)

Do you like to read Christmas themed books during the holiday season?

What have been some of your favorites?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Christmas Tree

All dressed up. :)

The gray cat in both last night's and tonight's Christmas tree photos is our cat Noël, whom we rescue-adopted on Christmas Day in 2000.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tied Up and Naked

I'm talking about the recent state of our Christmas tree!!!
Ha ha, gotcha! ;)
What exactly is the cat looking for up there in the tree?

LoOk! I spy a present under the tree already! 
And it's for me! :)

The tree is no longer tied up, but still naked. We'll decorate it together tomorrow night.

As far as other Christmas preparations go, I have yet to start my shopping, although I do have two online shopping carts ready for check out and I've organized the remainder of my list by stores to streamline my store hopping once I finally get out there. I also have a few gifts I'm making, but I need to hit the craft store for some packaging type items. Hopefully I'll be able finish all my shopping in just one or two outings. Then all I need to do is wrap the gifts, get our Christmas cards mailed and then I'll have all next week to bake cookies!

It's only ten days until Christmas, but we're getting there.

How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

Is it starting to feel a bit like Christmas to you? I hope so.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in New York City

There's nothing quite like Christmas in New York City. It really is just as festive, sparkling and dynamic as it looks in all those holiday movies that feature Christmas time in New York City-- if not more so.

Last Monday, my eldest daughter and I skipped out of town for a few hours and drove into New York for the evening. With my new car that I had only had for less than 48 hours. I'm so brave.

A few years ago, my eldest daughter befriended another teenage girl in Austria while doing some creative writing with a Twilight role playing group on myspace, essentially becoming modern day 'pen pals' of sorts. They would instant message each other--under parental supervision, of course, and then eventually maintained their friendship via facebook and occasionally video chatting when they could align their respective free time with each other, all around the time difference between them. So her friend was recently visiting New York City for a few days and Monday was the only day she was free. So of course, being the awesome mom that I am, I took her into the city to meet her 'pen pal' in person for the first time. This couldn't have worked out with my husband being the awesome dad he is, having come home early from work that day to mind the others in the castle (his dad and our youngest daughter).

Seeing the girls meet for the first time was like something right out of a movie. Her friend was waiting by the fountain outside the famous toy store, FAO Schwarz searching the faces of the passersby for my daughter. My daughter spotted her right away and could barely wait for the light to turn in our favor so she could cross the street to her friend. Just as she gets to her, she calls out her name. Her friend turns around, their faces light up with smiles, eyes glassy with tears of joy and they hug each other as if they were long lost friends who haven't seen each other in ages. It was very, very sweet. Here is a photo I took of them within minutes of having met in person for the first time:
Vicky and Maria

Aren't they adorable? After a few moments of "Wow, you're here!" and more hugs and laughter, the girls proceeded to go shop and I was to meet them outside The Plaza hotel in two and a half hours. I don't think I would have had the strength to let them go off on their own like that if it weren't for cell phones and GPS tracking. And the fact that they promised to stay on 5th Avenue between FAO Schwarz and Rockefeller Center... which is pretty much where I was going to be, one or two blocks behind them. LOL. Well, not exactly, but pretty much.

So how did I spend those two and a half hours on my own? First I spent an hour or so with Dru Ann who blogs at notes from me. I knew Dru Ann worked in the city, so I sent her an email earlier in the day hoping she had the time to meet me for a little bit and sure enough, it worked out perfectly. Dru Ann and I strolled along 5th Avenue, chatting about all kinds of things like New York things, our mutual friend Brandy and how much we would have loved to have her there with us, too, a little about family, and whatever else came to mind. All the while, we savored the amazing lights and creative sights of the windows of Saks and other stores. She even brought me into Tiffany & Co. where we stood in awe of the Tiffany Diamond. That's 128.54 carats. Whoa baby.

The Tiffany Diamond

I wasn't such the photographer this evening as I didn't even bring my camera! I don't know what I was thinking... or not thinking. So these first few are taken with my iPhone.

Dru Ann and I 

I had such a nice time meeting Dru Ann and walking around with her. She is truly a lovely person. Thanks for making time in your day for me, Dru Ann! :)

Soon it was time for Dru Ann to head home and I was on my own for a while. After walking around the city for two and a half hours in the freezing cold (literally), I decided I needed to go sit someplace warm until it was time to meet my daughter again. I headed to the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle where I knew there was a Borders. I figured I'd sit and flip through some Christmas cookie magazines. Well, I forgot there was a Williams-Sonoma store on the first level, so I hit there first. What a smart idea, let me tell you. I wasn't even inside Williams-Sonoma for two seconds and I was being offered a sample of hot mulled cider. I'm sure I looked like I needed it, too! I started to thaw while admiring really expensive French skillets. I wandered some more and came across some candy samples and tried a champagne gum drop. Yum. I wandered further into the store where a salesperson was serving brownies with peppermint bark baked on top. Right next to the test kitchen was the section of Williams-Sonoma signature dish soaps and hand moisturizers where I sampled the "Winter Forest" lotion and my dry, chapped hands were very happy and it smelled just lovely, too. Now that I had some drink, food and spa treatment-- boy, do they know how to treat their costumers, or what? Thanks Williams-Sonoma!-- I headed upstairs to Borders where I flipped through some magazines before finally meeting daughter.

At this time, I met up with my daughter, her friend and her family and friends with whom she was traveling outside The Plaza Hotel. We then found a local pub and had some dinner. All too soon, I had to give my daughter the sad news that we needed to head home. I felt badly about having to make the girls say good bye after only four hours together, but it was already after 8 pm on a Monday night and we needed to call it a night.

My daughter and I started heading back to the car, but took a few minutes to admire the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman. Wow. I thought the displays at Saks were impressive--these were even more amazing! Interestingly, I found both the displays at Saks and at Bergdorf Goodman to have some "steampunk" elements to them.

One of the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman. 

I recommend you click on it and zoom in to see some of the detail of this display. The photo really doesn't do it justice.

This is a sample of one little detail at the floor of the display. Or rather, not so little. Get a load of the size of the stone on that ring!

Of course, we paused at Rockefeller Center for a few quick photos.
I and my daughter

We noticed a band playing there, and much to my teen's excitement, it was My Chemical Romance. We were actually along the street that went behind the stage, but we were so close, nonetheless. To their backs, anyway. LOL. She was patient, though, and eventually got a few pictures of the band with the lead singer dude actually facing us. Ah, the things that rock a 15 year old's world...

I hope you enjoyed my little glimpse of 5th Avenue decked out for Christmas! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Library Loot XXVIII

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week's Library Loot is at Claire's.

Welcome to my 30th Library Loot post! 

I feel like I haven't done a library loot post in ages. Six weeks ago to be exact. I have hold requests on several books, three of which finally came in yesterday. It's funny how you can be waiting weeks and weeks for books and then they all come in at once. Let's take a look at what I got.

In fiction: 

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Chronicles of Nick, Book 1

I actually borrowed this book a few weeks ago, read it and returned it already. Sherrilyn Kenyon writes several adult romance series, one of which is called the Dark Hunter series, which is a paranormal romance series based on Greek mythology. Infinity is Kenyon's first young adult novel and is a prequel series of sorts that documents the life of Nick Gautier as a teenager, who is a prominent adult character in the Dark Hunter series. Infinity was a quick, fun read and I enjoyed learning about Nick's roots and his life before he learned of the existence of anything paranormal. At the same time, the writing didn't overly impress me either and I don't think I would have enjoyed the book nearly as much if I hadn't already been interested in the character(s) from the Dark Hunter series. I'm glad I read it, though.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I recently read a review for this book at Rowena's young adult book blog, The Book Scoop, Mollie's blog, Book Fare Delights that convinced me to read it. It's essentially a book about a teenage girl who survives a deadly car crash and I think she's deciding if she wants to stay ... or live... while in a coma. She reflects on her life and her family and is aware of the people coming in to see her and talk to her while she's lying in the hospital bed. I think. Should be an interesting and probably teary read. I think there's also a movie based on the book in the works. A lot of "thinks" with this book!

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

I've seen this young adult novel reviewed here and there and noted that reviews were favorable. But when Michelle who blogs at red headed book child reviewed it here, I just knew I had to read it for myself. The blend of contemporary young adult themes with accurate historical components and I think some time travel, really appealed to me. I'm looking forward to this one.

In the Woods by Tana French

Another book that comes highly recommended from Michelle from red headed book child. I have been second on the holds list for this book since the first week of September and it's finally my turn. It is a psychological suspense novel that takes place in Dublin.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In Non-fiction:

The Family Dinner by Laurie David

I first heard of this book in the recent e-newsletter from to which I subscribe, and the organization of which Laurie David is the founder. The focus of this cookbook is on the family dinner table and ideas for making dinner nutritious for the body, mind and soul of everyone in your family and the planet, too! Connecting with your kids one meal at a time. Pretty simple, but somehow often difficult in today's world. I've been reading The Family Dinner over the last couple of weeks and think it's really fantastic. We already incorporate a lot of the ideas in our family, but it's always great to be reminded of the importance of having dinner together as a family and how to make the most of the hour together. Okay, thirty minutes.

To learn more about this cookbook--that's really way more than just a cookbook-- visit .

To keep informed on issues regarding global warming and what you can do to help, because every little bit helps, visit .

200 Christmas Recipes by Hamlyn all color (UK)
I spotted this little gem of a cookbook on the non fiction "new books" shelf at my library and am I ever glad I snatched it! I absolutely adore this cookbook. All 200 recipes are accompanied by a gorgeous, glossy photo and the recipes are clear and concise and I'm pretty sure I want to make about 197 of the recipes! Maybe even 198! Oh heck, I'd try them all! There are five chapters from Christmas fare {main dishes and sides} to centerpiece cakes to small cakes & cookies to edible gifts to leftover turkey ideas. Everything looks and sounds so delicious. I can't wait to try some of these recipes. If only I could decide which to try first...

What do you do to get your family to eat dinner together?

Is there a specific meal that draws everyone to the table?

Do you have a specific ritual of having everyone share something about their day?

Speaking of which ... it's time for me to start cooking dinner. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Wheels!

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I've been off on too many adventures. I haven't even picked up a book in five days, which is totally crazy.

One of my recent adventures was getting me some new wheels and I'm so excited about it, so I just had to share. We tend to keep our cars for a long time--I drove my minivan for the last 11 years! --so this is big news!
My Toyota Prius! :) 
I have officially retired from my minivan-mom days {Hallelujah!} and am now driving a fun and stylish, fully loaded Toyota Prius! It's a hybrid, so I'm saying hello to burning less fossil fuel and an economical gas mileage! I've only had the car since Saturday night, and so far I'm getting more than double the gas mileage I was averaging with my minivan. Plus it has a ton of safety features and it's fun to drive! :)

Now I just need to sit in the driveway for an hour or two with the owner's manual and figure out how to use all the fancy audio and navigation toys. Um. Tools.

Here's to many safe and happy miles on the road! 

I had a really fun adventure yesterday involving a trip into NYC with my teen that I'll share soon. I promise it's way more interesting than this one.

Do people even say wheels anymore??