Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today is opening day for Eclipse in theaters, and somehow, I found a way to resist the urge to see the midnight showing. However, I could not wait for the weekend, and dragged Seth to an evening show.

My self-control paid-off and we did not have to deal with an outrageous line. There were, however teenage girls in line, who gushed with their friends who had just come out of an earlier show. Then there were the screaming teenage girls during the movie. And, they screamed every time Jacob appeared without a shirt. Luckily, I was able to [sort of] tune them out.

The movie itself was great; although I will admit that it doesn't take much to please me when it comes to anything Twilight related, so take my opinion with a few grains of salt. I probably enjoyed this one the most.

I felt like the screenplay was well written, and allowed the story to flow smoothly and transition nicely; something that is difficult to accomplish when the book itself is so long and detailed. There were certain moments when one character spoke a line in the movie that another character had spoken in the book, but I appreciated this change because it helped the story to make more sense. It was also great to see the Newborn story told onscreen since Stephenie Meyer does not expand on them much in the book.

What a great way to end my work day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

This One Made Me Go "Hmm...."

The Hornet's Sting: The Amazing Untold Story of World War II Spy Thomas Sneum by Mark Ryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My favorite genre is science fiction fantasy, so I can take those leaps of faith while reading in order to get past "reality." Then I read Mark Ryan's The Hornet's Sting. I just could not take it seriously.

Don't get me wrong, it was interesting. It was just leaned toward unbelievable.

The book is the story of Thomas Sneum, a Dane who served as a British spy during World War II. His life as a spy in German-controlled Denmark was amazingly close to James Bond--at one point Sneum actually refuels a plane, mid-air.

See what I mean? Unreal.

I am still baffled by the story, and cannot get my mind around it. Luckily, Mr. Ryan has sources besides Sneum, so I will be reading R.V. Jones' Most Secret War, among others.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon, Meet My Cream-Colored Top

Have you ever tried to open a bottle of wine, only to somehow push the cork into the bottle instead of pull it out? This is precisely what happened on Saturday when Seth tried to uncork a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. He stopped when the initial wine spray hit us; and there was the cork, stuck in the bottleneck.

It is important to note that at this point, Seth was the one wearing more wine. Unfortunately, I let my irritation get to me and so I grabbed the opener from him, thinking that I would be able to get the cork out. Well, bachi on me because there was still some air pressure in there, and I successfully released the air, and more wine.

Now I am the one wearing more wine. On my favorite cream-colored drape front cardigan. Did I mention we were at a party? Luckily, the top I was wearing underneath made it out of the wine fray with little damage, so the cardigan went in the laundry room for the rest of the evening.

Seth tried to give me money so I could get a new one, but I really did not see how that would do any good since I bought it several months ago at the Nordstrom Rack and would surely be difficult and more expensive to find. In my usual form, I decided to be stubborn and try to get the stains out. As soon as we got home, I put my stain-removers and sprayed the cardigan with Sol-U-Mel and soaked it overnight in Oxi Clean.

It was like magic! I am not sure what did it, so I will say that the combination of Sol-U-Mel and Oxi Clean got the Cab stains out of my cardigan. I was also able to get all the stains out of Seth's shirt, and I did not treat it until the next day.

Apparently, Sol-U-Mel can be purchased online, but I get my products through my sister or my best friend. Oxi Clean is available everywhere, and I might just start buying a Costco-sized container!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dieter Dengler's Escape From Laos

Escape from Laos by Dieter Dengler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I tend to avoid real-life-themed works in fiction, I do enjoy reading history books, biographies and memoirs. Lately, I've been on a history-biography-memoir kick.

Escape From Laos is Dieter Dengler's account of the time he spent as a POW in Laos, including his escape. This was an easy, interesting read. I read it in part because I just finished John McCain's Faith of My Fathers, which covers his five years as a POW in Vietnam; and also because I saw the movie Rescue Dawn about a year ago. Rescue Dawn is the movie based on Dieter Dengler's story.

Pick this one up if you enjoy this genre of books. It might be a little difficult to find. Luckily the Contra Costa Library system has a copy, but I think that might be because Dengler was a Bay Area resident.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Since when did young adult fiction get so intense? I don't remember books being this consuming when I was a teenager (wow, writing that just made me feel so old). It took just one page, and I found myself wrapped up in all the emotions and angst of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver.

Set in Minnesota, Shiver is about a teenage girl named Grace and "her" wolves. Of course, she has one wolf in particular, and he happens to be a werewolf named Sam. As their love unfolds, so does the uncertainty of his future--neither of them knows when Sam will change back into a wolf, forever.

The only thing I can think of at this point is, "Sigh."

I sigh because Ms. Stiefvater has successfully captured all the swirling, topsy-turvy, stomach-knotting feelings of first love. I wonder what the next installment will be like.

Yes, this is a trilogy. The second book, Linger, comes out in July.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I read, I want to be transported to another world. Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge took me to the real world.

The book was just too "real-life" for me, but it certainly is a well-written book. Comprised of a collection of short stories, the reader gets to know Olive as her life intersects with the lives of other people in the town of Crosby in Maine. I almost with Ms. Strout elaborated further on the other characters in the story, as their lives were quite interesting as well.

All-in-all, this was a good read, but just too depressing for my taste. I don't even know how many times my heart ached for Olive, her family, friends and acquaintances. So, it turns out that Olive Kitteridge did take me to another world; it was just her "real" world.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blueberry Mint Lemonade

My non-alcoholic drink of choice is usually an Arnold Palmer, but about a month ago I had my first blueberry mint lemonade. It was an incredibly refreshing drink to have on a warm day.

Last night I finally remembered to look for a recipe online, and I found one on The Cooking Photographer blog. I blame my memory lapse on the cooler-than-usual-temperatures for May and June. It took the warm humidity of this weekend for me to remember that I needed to figure out how to make a blueberry mint lemonade at home.

The Cooking Photographer's recipe is delicious, and she also points out that this makes a tasty mojito.

Blueberry Mint Lemonade
by The Cooking Photographer

Simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 1/2 C fresh lemon juice (or lime)*
1 lemon sliced (or lime)
1/2 C frozen blueberries
20 small or 10 large mint leaves
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 C water to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a pitcher and stir. Chill until ready to serve.

Simple Syrup
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C water

Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Boil until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside.

*I didn't have enough lemons for the lemon juice, so I added two limes.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


One of my favorite moments during a UCLA basketball game is when the camera pans over to a corner of Pauley Pavilion and finds Coach John Wooden, sitting and watching the Bruins. I am sad to say that the 2009-2010 season is the end of these favorite moments. At the age of 99, he passed away on Friday, June 4, 2010 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Coach Wooden would have celebrated his 100th birthday on October 14, 2010.

It is amazing to watch and read how all kinds of people remember Coach Wooden. In particular, I enjoyed William Nack's tribute on ESPN.

From the stories about Coach Wooden and his wife Nell to the importance Coach placed on character, to his favorite maxims, it is stunning to see how much positive influence John Wooden had in his 99 years. His legacy truly reaches beyond Westwood and basketball.

When it comes to men’s NCAA basketball, I don’t think there will ever be another coach like him. He won 10 championships, seven of them in a row. In winning seven consecutive championships, he won 38 consecutive tournament games and had four undefeated seasons. Between 1971 and 1974, Coach Wooden’s Bruins won 88 games in a row. I think these winning records in men's college basketball will stand in the years to come.

But Coach Wooden was concerned with more than winning basketball games. He valued character and education. He lived by a Seven Point Creed and developed the "Pyramid of Success"to be used as a teaching tool. His maxims are useful words for anyone to keep in mind as they go about their lives.

Here are my favorites:
    Be quick, but don’t hurry.

    Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

    The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.

    It’s about what is correct, not who is correct.

    Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

I hope I will remember Coach Wooden’s creed as I live my life. They served him well, and I think it would be the best way to remember him.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This week it's all about soup, because I haven't been feeling all that great. The second soup of the week was Giada's Ribollita. Yum.

Seth also enjoyed it. So much that he suggested that I lose my Minestrone recipe and only make Ribollita. He actually didn't know about Ribollita, and neither did I, so I Googled. It turns out that it's a Tuscan soup traditionally made of leftovers and stale bread.

Ribollita is an easy soup to make, and the pancetta adds a flavor that's quite nice. If you like Minestrone, try this soup!

by Giada De Laurentiis

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for the bread
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped*
4 oz. pancetta, chopped
2 cloves garlic, 1 minced and 1 whole
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 T tomato pste
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1-pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
1 T Herbs de Provence
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 Parmesan rind
4 to 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise or 1 loaf, sliced
Grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the spinach, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drizzle the ciabatta halves with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts.* Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

*Carrots: I used two, instead of one.

*Toasts: I neglected to toast the ciabatta and use it at the bottom of the soup bowl. Even without the toast, we very much enjoyed the soup, but next time we will be trying this with toast or some stale bread.