Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Healthy eating habits

Hello to anyone out there!  It's been over two years since I have posted anything here. That seems so long ago.   Seems like I haven't been reading much lately either so maybe it's good that I am coming back here.  Motivate myself.

Anyway, the reason I thought of coming here today is that I need a place to capture my family's experiment for the summer. We are not healthy eaters - we eat out a ton, we eat alot of meat, fried foods, pasta/carbs and NOT alot of fruits and vegetables.  That would be why most of us are overweight and low on energy most days.

But....I decided this is the summer that I, and thus the family since I am the grocery shopper and main cook, start to eat a bit healthier.  The goal of the summer is to try new things that we can add to our menu - various salads, veggies, fruits, etc.  At first it will just be to add those items to our diet and not worry about removing the other items.  The eventual goal is to cut way back on the less healthy foods and enjoy the majority of our meals with healthier options.  However, we have to like the fruits and veggies first and that's a big challenge, especially for me.

To help in this endeavor I bought a share at New Century CSA - a produce co-op.  I am so excited to start receiving these bundles of produce every Friday.  Dave asked - couldn't we just buy these items at the store?  Well, sure we could...but we don't.  This way I am paid for the entire summer and we will get the produce whether we 'want' it or not.  It will definitely be an adventure!

Our first delivery comes in three days.  Here's what we will be getting:
1 Lettuce, Leaf (red or green) (1.0 head)
1 Spinach (1.0 bag)
1 Radishes (1.0 bunch)
2 Green Onions (1.0 bunch)
1 Kohlrabi (1.0 bunch)
1 Strawberries (1.0 basket)
1 Cabbage, Napa (1.0 head)

So, here's where I need your help!  Give me suggestions for great salads or other things we can make with these items.  They don't have to be the healthiest of options (such as eating the strawberries with cream and sugar). My goal is to try them in a variety of ways so we can figure out how we like to eat them.  

I will keep you apprised how the meals go!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Book Blathering...

I cannot believe it's been a week since I've posted! I've read so much in the last week, yet haven't put that information anywhere...not here on blog, LibraryThing, nothing! The odd thing is, I spend so much time on the computer yet this 'to do' item doesn't get done. I don't understand myself sometimes! LOL

I've finished two books - Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson and Fantasy in Death by JD Robb. Both books were very good! Expect their reviews soon. They are both mystery/thrillers with a little bit of hot, steamy...uh, romance included. Why do some of the mystery books have to have some 'romance' included? Why does it have to be so detailed? Any why do I just basically skip over those pages? The things that make me go hmmmm...

I have started a different genre of book - Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian. I meant to use this as my Tuesday Teaser but since it's now Thursday..I guess I'll pass. It's starting out a little bit disjointed but I hope it will start making more sense soon. I read his Midwives in 2008 but not any others. Have you read any of his? What about this new one? Will I like it?

I am looking to get involved in some literacy volunteering in the area. I'm just starting the process but figure this is a great area for me to volunteer given my love for reading. Do any of you do this? What can I expect? I'd also like the kids to start volunteering somewhere but having trouble finding good choices for them. But we'll get there. Among all their other activities, of course!

Look soon for a new give away! I think it will be a good one.

I love going to the book store and being where other book lovers are. Since I have gotten back into blogging, all I've done is read about the BEA convention in NY in May. I am dying to go. Lots of my favorite authors will be there - Adriana Trigiani and Caroline Leavitt just to name two. And just think of all those other future potential favorites that I could fall in love with while there. And to top it off, I could meet some of my favorite book bloggers too. Cause they will be there, of course! I need a lottery winner to feel they need to sponsor me to go. Anyone interested?

Okay, I think I'm done rambling now. What are you reading? Why do you like it? Talk to me!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison

I have to thank my sister for finding The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison at her library for me. My library did not have a copy of it nor was it on order. I couldn't believe it! They had copies of the first books in this series so naturally I expected to see the fourth Taylor Jackson book on order at the very least. Hmmm... I hope they fix that issue because until then the readers in my area are missing out!

Summary: He can truly love her only once her heart stops.

Homicide detective Taylor Jackson thinks she's seen it all in Nashville—from the Southern Strangler to the Snow White Killer. But she's never seen anything as perverse as The Conductor. Once his victim is captured, he contains her in a glass coffin, slowly starving her to death. Only then does he give in to his attraction.

When he's finished, he creatively disposes of the body by reenacting scenes from famous paintings. And similar macabre works are being found in Europe. Taylor teams up with her fiancé, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, and New Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe, a haunted man who has eyes only for Taylor, to put an end to this horror.

Has the killer gone international with his craft? Or are there two "artists," competing to create the ultimate masterpiece?

When I got ready to read on Saturday (read it all on Saturday - didn't get one other thing done that day! LOL) I tried to remember the earlier books. As we've discussed previously on this blog, my memory sucks. So, it was more my 'impressions' of the books. And those were that the mystery and the serial killers and the detecting in these books is AWESOME. It's intense, exciting, interesting, detailed but not overwhelming, great! But my impression was also that the relationship piece between Taylor and Baldwin isn't as great as in other similar series.

Well, the story definitely is great once again. Creepy, yucky and weird. Intense, detailed, scary, yet fascinating. I just kept turning the pages wanting to know what they would find, what the killer would do, who would end up being involved. I do not know how Ms. Ellison can have all this in her head and not be looney! But I love it.

As for the relationship piece - it was better than my 'impression' memory. Taylor is working to repair her status at work. Baldwin is working with the fellow from London and intersection of all of them within the work of catching the killer... well, it made me want to slap someone! But that was a good thing.

I recommend reading this series if you are interested in murder mysteries. It's a great series. Start with All the Pretty Girls.

Rating: 5 stars!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday Teaser: Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson

My two (well, a bit more) 'teaser' sentences are from Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson. These sentences are from page 31.

Her insides twisted.
The fire.
Dear God.
She knew before the firemen or the police that somewhere in that hellish inferno was the body of a woman; the woman she'd seen in her vision.

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read.
- Let the book fall open to a random page.
- Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
- You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
- Please avoid spoilers!

Check out other teasers around the blogs.

Author interview: Sally Koslow

Sally Koslow is the author of The Late Lamented Molly Marx, which I reviewed earlier. She was kind enough to agree to a few questions from me on Molly Marx and her other projects. She's written two books so far, Little Pink Slips was her first book. She also has another book due out later this year.

- On your website, you state that you got the idea for the story at a funeral of a neighbor. What made you decide to use Molly as part of the story, both after she's gone and in telling her story? I was struck by surprises revealed in the eulogies spoken that day. This led me to wonder what the deceased, a troubled woman, might have thought of what loved ones’ assessments of her. From here I developed the premise of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, having a woman look back on her life from the beyond. I don’t know if readers notice, but when Molly is in The Duration, her afterlife world, looking down on events unfolding, she speaks in the first-person/present-tense, because her sensitivity and insights have become sharp and clear. When I tell the earlier part of her story, however, I do it in the third-person/past tense, to convey that Molly was less aware of how her actions affected her life. If readers take anything away from this book, I hope it’s the sense that we should wake up and take note and responsibly of what’s going on around us and how our actions affect others.

- As a non-writer, I am fascinated with the process of writing. There are quite a few unique characters in the story - did you start out with all of them or did some 'show up' as the story unfolded? A lot of the characters did “show up.” Sometimes I start with a small detail and let that seed germinate until it flowers. The idea of the detective, for example, came to me while I was visiting our country’s national monument in Washington D.C. for soldiers fallen during the Vietnam War. The name “Hiawatha Hicks” leaped off that wall and my mind took the name and ran. I wanted the detective to be a good guy, full of integrity, a romantic, but a little insecure because he’s new in his job. In the case of Claire, I wanted to portray a more-or-less perfect mother. Visually, I kept imagining Blythe Danner, the beautiful, blonde actress who happens to be the mother of Gwyneth Paltrow. Once a character takes shape, they start talking to one another, like hand puppets, and that’s what propels the action in a story. Characters start to feel real to me. I’m a lot older and more brunette than Molly, but there’s a lot of her in me.

- Molly is a mom, as are you and I. Did you find it difficult to write about a mom being gone when her child was so young? Of course! It was challenging to try to recreate tender feelings that a mother has toward her child, but the attempt at authenticity makes writing interesting. You attempt to put down in words the whirl of feelings that you—and other women like you—might feel. You try to make it real.

- Who are your favorite authors? So many! Whenever someone asks me that question, I tend to respond with the name of the last few really good books I’ve read, overlooking the hundreds of that came before. I gravitate toward novels and memoirs written by American and British female writers. Just a few of my favorite are Elizabeth Strout, Mary Karr, Charlotte Mendelson, Binnie Kirschenbaum, Lucette Lagnado and—like every writer, Edith Wharton and Jane Austen.

- What is your other book, Little Pink Slips, about? My first novel is inspired by my own personal experience. For many years, I was the editor-in-chief of various women’s magazines. One of them, McCall’s, was taken over by a major celebrity. Hijinks and heartache—including a “pink slip--ensued, and I tried to include both in the fictitious story of a magazine editor from North Dakota, which is where I grew up, who wound up in New York City. For anyone who likes magazines, I can assure you that my behind-the-scenes takes in Little Pink Slips are accurate, although the plot line and characters are imaginary. Sort of.

- What are you currently working on? My next novel, With Friends like These, comes out in late August. It’s a story about the complications of sustaining long, deep friendships, and I think that anyone who’s ever had a difficult time with a friend—and who hasn’t?--would find it authentic.

Thank you Sally for letting us get to know you a bit better.

Review: The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

I believe I found The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow through Bookmarks magazine (I gotta get better at noting where I hear about new books). It's not a book I would normally pick up but it sounded like a good mystery with a twist.

Here's the summary: The circumstances of Molly Marx’s death may be suspicious, but she hasn’t lost her joie de vivre. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly, thirty-five years old, is delighted to discover that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and, of course, her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As a bonus, Molly quickly realizes that the afterlife comes with a finely tuned bullshit detector.

As Molly looks on, her loved ones try to discern whether her death was an accident, suicide, or murder. She was last seen alive leaving for a bike ride through New York City’s Riverside Park; her body was found lying on the bank of the Hudson River. Did a stranger lure Molly to danger? Did she plan to meet someone she thought she could trust? Could she have ended her own life for mysterious reasons, or did she simply lose control of her bike? As the police question her circle of intimates, Molly relives the years and days that led up to her sudden end: her marriage, troubled yet tender; her charmed work life as a magazine decorating editor; and the irresistible colleague to whom she was drawn.

More than anything, Molly finds herself watching over Annabel--and realizing how motherhood helped to bring out her very best self. As the investigation into her death proceeds, Molly will relive her most precious moments--and take responsibility for the choices in her life.

I found the idea of this story quite fascinating, especially as a mom. How did she die? How does she handle seeing her family move on without her? I do not usually read books that have to do with what I consider 'the supernatural'...so being with Molly from the 'beyond' was a bit of a stretch for me. But, it was really well done. It wasn't hard for me to imagine this as a possibility. Time was rather fluid for Molly, being dead and all. And that makes alot of sense to me.

The story is told in two ways - Molly is in the 'afterlife', talking to her 'mentor' and following what happens to her family after she is gone. We also see her life from her eyes as it's happening. Switching between these two points of view made me think about the choices we make and how they affect us and others in both the short and long term.

I did have a problem with the book and I think it's more me than the book. I didn't connect with Molly. I didn't love her. I didn't feel sorry for her. I didn't hate her. Nothing. No feeling. Which I found odd since I do have kids and have wondered time to time what it would be like for them if I were to not be around. But yet, nothing. I wanted to know the answer to the mystery. I wanted to see what the others in the story did over time. But never really cared about Molly. Given that this is not my typical book, maybe it's me and what I like and don't like. I don't know.

I am glad I read about Molly and her family and friends.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Check out my next post for an interview with author Sally Koslow.

Some other reviews of The Late Lamented Molly Marx:
- Booking Mama
- S. Krishna's Books
- Alison's Book Marks
If you've read it and want to be included, please post your link in the comments section.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Review: Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine is the second in Adriana Trigiani's latest series after Very Valentine (my review). It got my copy when I went to listen to Adriana talk (yes, I'm still babbling about that fun night!) She even signed my book.

At the beginning of the book, Valentine is at her grandmother's wedding in Italy. What can be more romantic than a wedding in Italy? Think of your family. Then imagine how Valentine's crazy family help make the wedding and the potential romance so special for her! I was laughing from the very first pages of this story.

Summary: As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of her grandmother, Teodora, and longtime love, Dominic. Valentine's dreams are dashed when Gram announces that Alfred, "the prince," Valentine's only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner who made his romantic intentions known on the Isle of Capri. Despite their passion for one another and Gianluca's heartfelt letters, a long-distance relationship seems impossible.

As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, mentor and pattern cutter June Lawton guides her through her power struggle with Alfred, while best friend and confidante Gabriel Biondi moves into 166 Perry Street, transforming her home and point of view. Savvy financier Bret Fitzpatrick, Valentine's first love and former fiancÉe who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a business woman with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world.

A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.

What else is there to say? Valentine's family and friends are so rich and colorful. Her mother's name is Mike. Really. And her best friend is Gabriel - I need a Gabriel in my life. He's fun, loving, colorful, smart, has romance problems himself yet tells Valentine what she needs to hear. He makes me laugh. And cry.

You must start with Very Valentine. But then you must read Brava, Valentine. And then wait with me as we wonder what happens to Valentine next. I just hope we don't have to wait too long.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. When I find a book club here, we are going to chat with Adriana. I recommend if you have a book club, contact her and set up a chat via Skype. You won't be disappointed! My LOLAs chatted with her "before skype" a few years ago and it was so fun. I can't wait to try talking with her via Skype.