Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boo !

Well the cobwebs building up around here on this blog are certainly apropos for Halloween, don't you think? This has been a pretty pathetic year of blogging for me.. so sorry about that.

October has been another whirlwind of a month for me.. lots of things going on. Mostly good or at least productive things going on.. a few not so good things, but everyone is healthy, hanging in there and doing their best so that's a plus.

So here I am on Halloween night and have no trick-or-treating costumes or stories to share with you because Anna didn't dress up this year and Maria is away at school. I do know she dressed up as a flapper for a Halloween party tonight and she did text me a photo that she also posted on instagram, but it's not the same as seeing her in her costume in person and taking my own photo. Then to top it off, we got ZERO trick-or-treaters at our door today! So sad...

Despite the lack of child involvement, though, I do have a few fun and festive Halloween photos to share.

This is a sunset photo that I took from the Home Depot parking lot a few weeks ago.

This is that same photo all dressed up for Halloween! I edited it right on my iphone using a really fabulous photo editing app called Rhonna Designs. I was lucky and bought it while it was offered for free but I think it's 99 cents now. Still a bargain if you're into this sort of thing.

Home Depot Sunset

Home Depot Haunted Sunset

I may have eaten a piece or two of Halloween candy before Halloween..

From where I stand at the welcome mat to our home..

Always a favorite time of year for black cats.

A house in my neighborhood with spook-tacular Halloween decorations. Even better up close in person and even spookier at night with creepy-scary music and sound effects. Yikes.

Trick-or-treat! I'm ready for the monsters to come!

There's something in the attic!!! (From the spooky house in town after dark.. )

I hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

Do you have kids who dress up? If so, what were they? 

... still can't believe October is over already and 2014 is only two months away! Now THAT'S frightening!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

REVIEW: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish is a food-themed memoir that reveals a young woman's love of good food through fond memories. Lucy Knisley grew up in both New York City and rural Hudson Valley, New York with a chef mother and gourmet-loving father who both exposed her to a wide variety of luxurious foods from babyhood through young adulthood. In this graphic novel, Lucy explores her relationship with and love of food through a series of vignettes and anecdotes from various stages of her life and several international trips as well, all of which instilled in her strong connections between food, places, and people. Her stories are honest and open, often laced with humor and sentimentality to which readers can relate well such as a grandmother's famous pickle and a mother's perfect chocolate chip cookie. Although Lucy clearly developed a gourmet palate like that of her parents, she still has a fondness for processed junk food every now and then, something that I think helps dilute the level of privilege that runs through this novel.

A few months ago I read Knisley's earlier work, French Milk, another food-themed graphic memoir that chronicled the author's month long visit to Paris with her mother, which I found to be a boring and pretentious recount of what should have been a trip of a lifetime for a college-aged girl yet instead was a whiny recollection of a trip of complaining and examples of how to be an ungrateful brat and treat your mother poorly. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that Lucy has matured a bit since she wrote French Milk and it shows in Relish. Each chapter of Relish visits a different place, phase and food experience of Lucy's life and each ends with a delightfully illustrated recipe (probably my favorite part of the book). As Knisley reflects on some striking food memories, she shares them with a fond affection for her family and friends connected to those experiences. I would have liked to see Knisley share more about other people's connections to foods, especially relating to her international travels. I was disappointed that Knisley never attempted to learn about or connect with any local people and their culture during her trips. Or if she did do those things on her travels, she doesn't share them in her book, which is a shame because I think those experiences would be a huge asset to her books.

In the future, I'd like to see Knisley develop a more heightened awareness of the world around her and write with a little less self absorption. I realize Relish is a memoir and therefore focused on the individual, but I still think a well written memoir includes some attention to the rest of the world and Kinsley's writing could be stellar if she wrote with a bit more substance and depth overall.

In the meantime, Relish is a quick, fun graphic memoir to read. The drawings are well done and I found the human expressions are accurately expressed as well as charming. Again, the recipes at the end of each chapter are great and a special touch to this food-based book. I also have to admit I particularly enjoyed reading the chapters in which Lucy was living in the Hudson Valley since I'm familiar with that area and have visited it regularly over the years.. both downtown Rhinebeck and Grieg Farm as a very close friend of mine lives in that same area.

GRADE: 3.5+ out of 5 stars. Maybe 4 stars. I really did enjoy it. :)

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Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birthday Gift Winner!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by with birthday wishes over the last several days!

Rafflecopter has randomly selected a winner for my Belated Birthday Giveaway and the winner is....


Congratulations, Sonia!

I hope you enjoy the facial kit, tea, chocolate and book and that it both relaxes you and brings you joy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Book Bingo Scorecard: 3rd quarter

It's time for a Book Bingo update! I'm actually doing a lot better with this challenge than I expected. I've completed quite a few more squares since the last quarter update, but I still have a lot of reading to do to complete the grid. Some squares will be easier than others to complete.

I need to read:

2 TBR books
3 books from a series
5 books released in 2013
5 books everyone else has read
3 re-reads

Not too bad, but I still think it's going to be a close finish!

Read From Your TBR Pile: [15] [see 1st column]
[X]ONE book:
    1. Surrender At Dawn by Laura Griffin

[X]TWO books:
    2. Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
    3. A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

[X]THREE books:
    4. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
    5. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
    6. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

[ ]FOUR books:
    7. To Die For by Linda Howard
    8. At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

[X]FIVE books:
   11. Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson
   12. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
   13. The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
   14. Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
   15. Spellbound by Nora Roberts

Read Books in a Series: [15] [see 2nd column]

[X]ONE Book in a Series:
    1. Mercy Thompson: Homecoming by Patricia Briggs

[X]TWO Books in a Series:
The Works Series by Marie Harte
    1. Bodywork by Marie Harte
    2. Working Out by Marie Harte

[X]THREE Books in a Series:
The Princes Trilogy by Elizabeth Hoyt
    1. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
    2. The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
    3. The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

[ ]FOUR Books in a Series:
Elemental Assassin Series by Jennifer Estep
    1. Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep
    2. "Thread of Death" by Jennifer Estep [novella]
    3. By A Thread by Jennifer Estep

[ ]FIVE Books in a Series:
Guardians Series by Meljean Brook
    1. Demon Bound by Meljean Brook
    2. Demon Forged by Meljean Brook
    3. "Blind Spot" by Meljean Brook [novella]

Read 2013 Releases: [12] [see 3rd column]
[X]ONE book:
   1. Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

[X]TWO books:
   2. Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas
   3. On Every Street by Karina Halle

[No THREE books in this category - see FREE SPACE below]

[X]FOUR books:
   4. Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh
   5. Hearts of Shadow by Kira Brady
   6. A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
   7. Primates by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks

[ ]FIVE books:

FREE SQUARE: [middle square] 
Read ONE book someone else has read for this challenge
[X]1. Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi ... read by

Read Books Everyone Else Has Read: [15] [see 4th column]
ONE book: [X]
    1. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

[X]TWO books:
    2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    3. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

[X]THREE books:
    4. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
    5. Dirty by Megan Hart
    6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

[X]FOUR books:
    7. Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
    8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
    9. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
   10. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

[ ]FIVE books:

Re-Read books: [15] [see 5th column]
ONE book: [X]
   1. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

[X]TWO books:
   2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
   3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expuréry

[X]THREE books:
   4. Demon Night by Meljean Brook
   5. "Thicker Than Blood" novella by Meljean Brook
   6. Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

[ ]FOUR books:
   7. Amulet, Vol. 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

[X]FIVE books:
   11. Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady
   12. "Falling For Anthony" by Meljean Book [novella]
   13. Demon Angel by Meljean Brook
   14. "Paradise" by Meljean Brook [novella]
   15. Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

Friday, October 4, 2013

Someone had a birthday!

Hello 45

Hello 45! Ready or not, here I am!

Yep. The good ol' age machine flipped another digit on me earlier this week. (hahaha! Get it?) I'm taking it well, though, reminding myself that every day is a gift and it's so good to be alive! And I vow to embrace every age as best I can, striving to be healthier, happier and a better citizen of the world every day. Some days are better than others because let's face it, as fabulous as the 40s really are..sometimes it really sucks when I think about how I'm probably closer to the end than I am to the beginning. Oh I try not to think about it too much or let it get me down, but sometimes it sneaks in on me! Not good.

cupcakes for my birthday!
Anyway, I had a fabulous birthday on Tuesday. My husband gave me flowers and the new iphone 5S woot! which totally delights my youngest because she promptly inherited my 4S the lucky (spoiled) kid. My dear friend Claudia treated me to a fabulous lunch at nice Italian restaurant and the weather was so nice that we dined on the restaurant patio. It felt so decadent. I was flooded with birthday wishes from friends and family all over the world (thanks to Facebook and Instagram) throughout the day. Thank you so much for those of you who did this! Then around dinner time I got the sweetest surprise.. Maria came home from college for the evening just for my birthday! Wow! I was so surprised and so delighted. We all went out for sushi, came home for cupcakes and then Maria and I watched some cooking shows we had recorded while she was away. (We got into Cupcake Wars, Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen just before she left for college). What a special day!

It turns out this is the first time since I started my blog over five years ago that I didn't post on my birthday and do a birthday giveaway. I feel badly about that so I'm doing a belated birthday giveaway now.

My Birthday Present to one of you:

The 'Fabulous At Any Age' Gift Bag

Mini facial kit 
Package of Harvest Blend Herbal Tea*
Fancy chocolate bar.. your choice of dark or milk chocolate 
Book of your choice, up to $15 US value.

*Harvest Blend tea is caffeine free and contains cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, natural cinnamon and apple flavors with other natural flavors, chamomile, roasted chicory and orange peel. Other tea may be substituted per winner's request or if it becomes unavailable.

Sounds nice, right? To enter this birthday giveaway, all you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below and then leave a comment in the comment section of this post telling me what you love best about October.

I love pumpkin desserts, cool evenings and warm sunny days and colorful leaves swirling to the ground in the breeze.

Giveaway terms and conditions:

  • Giveaway runs from today, October 4, 2013 through Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 12 am EST (midnight). All entries received after the close of the giveaway will be disqualified. 
  • You must be 18 years or older to enter. 
  • No purchase necessary to win and void where prohibited. 
  • Book may be sent anywhere in the world via TheBookDepository as long as they deliver to your mailing address. I will do my best to mail other gift items via international mail as allowed per shipping restrictions to your country. 
  • Prize value: $25 US plus shipping 
  • Odds of winning are dependent on the number of entries received. 
  • One winner will be drawn on October 11, 2013 and notified by email within 48 hours. Winner will have one week from the time I send my email to get back to me with their book choice and mailing address or their gift will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen. 
  • Contact information [email and mailing address] will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and prize delivery. Information will not be saved, sold or used for any other purpose.

By entering your name in the Rafflecopter form below and in the comment section below, you agree to these terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway