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Showing posts from June, 2011

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann...a review

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Someone once said, "They say Los Angeles is the city of angels...I didn't find it to be that exactly." That is pretty much how I feel about Let the Great World Spin. The New York Times book review claimed it to be, "an emotional tour de force...one of the  most electric,  profound novels [...] read in years."

I didn't find it to be that exactly.

Colum McCann unites the lives of a handful of individuals into a patchwork representing New York City life in the early seventies; a mother missing her son lost in the Vietnam war, a mother/daughter prostituting duo, a young bohemian couple, a judge, and an extremely zealous Catholic. A pivotal component to his tale is the true story of a tightrope walker who plans to face his biggest challenge--traversing between the towers of the World Trade Center some one hundred and ten stories off the ground. It is this feat that links together some of the plot and characters. The other story lines are linked in a domino effec…

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese...a review

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Cutting for Stone is my second favorite read of the year. [Technically, it shares a tie for second with The Help on my list of favorites]. Abraham Verghese is a fantastic writer. Cutting for Stone is over 600 pages and yet I can't recall a single moment in which I questioned my want to read this book. I love when a book can pull me away from my familiar surroundings and immerse me so completely into another time, location, and culture... as if it were my actual norm. Abraham Verghese does this with such ease one would think the reader already had close familial ties with the characters.

Marion Stone, our main character, and his twin brother, Shiva, are born in "Missing", a small area in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that is home to a primitive, yet extremely necessary, hospital for the locals. The boys are not just born in "Missing", they are raised there; and so from the very beginning, we are introduced to the world of medicine just like the boys, as if we too are le…

Camping Conundrum-- Part 2

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[This post is continued from Camping Conundrum-- Part 1, posted about 1 week ago detailing why I have varying opinions on camping.]

So as I mentioned, we were attempting to set up camp at the Gold Bluffs beach campground, a gorgeous site, right on the beach. The winds were strong, 40 mph or so, but we felt confident due to our overall optimism that we were staying in such a sought after campground. Plus, we had plenty of tent stakes.

Dark clouds pushed in off of the ocean. As we started set-up we began to battle the winds with the sail of our very tall, six-eight person sized tent. Oh, and how refreshing, we felt the ocean mist settle on us. I should say it might have been refreshing, if it wasn't cold and breezy and if it wasn't in fact the rain starting in on us. We began to see that this might be a struggle when it became humanly impossible to hold down the edges of one side of the tent while getting the pole through the fabric weave, and into its corresponding piece on the…

The Help by Kathryn Stockett...a review

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I have fallen in love with The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I would place it below Unbroken as my top read in the last year, and just above, maybe a tie for second, with Cutting for Stone. I was impressed with the story and the writing from the very beginning. I remember reading a few reviews that were negative simply because the author is a white woman who wrote from three character perspectives before and during the advancement of the Civil Rights movement in the south: one well-off white woman whose family owned a small plantation, and two black maids who worked for white families. I think it is easy to imagine what the reviews said. I say, ignore reviews that limit someone's ability to write based on the color of their skin. I thought moving beyond color identifiers was actually the definition, and the point, of equal rights. Some people believe that the vernacular spoken by the maids was insulting. I think this is a ridiculous statement given the positions forced upon the maids …

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Lemmon...a review

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Do you remember when I read The Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi and I felt absolutely horrible because I hated having to write that I didn't like the book, especially when I had loved Reading Lolita in Tehran, also by Nafisi, so completely? Well, I haven't read anything else by Lemmon and with nothing else to go by...I didn't like The Dressmaker of Khair Khana...at all. 

I was excited when my book club first brought this book home for us. Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, was quoted on the cover as saying, "[Dressmaker] is one of the most inspiring books [he] had ever read." Recently, Mortenson's own story has come under controversy for some very specific inaccuracies (60 Minutes), but the mere idea that he helped bring literacy to girls in an area that otherwise neglected to do so, is still a pretty great feat. I thought that if this man found someone else's story inspirational, that the story must be pretty remarkable.  

The bo…

Camping Conundrum-- Part 1

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Sometimes I question why I go camping, and I'm not talking from a philosophical standpoint. While the idea of packing up everything I could possibly "need" to create an alternate indoor living experience- outside- has naturally crossed my mind, I don't see a problem with it per se.

In theory, I love camping. I mostly love the idea of being immersed in the woods with no electronic influences interrupting my time. I do love hiking, and making fires, and creating primitive-style meals, and most importantly spending time with people who's company I enjoy so completely that I don't need anything else to occupy my time.  I love that we now have a huge plastic tub full of all of the camping paraphernalia we have accumulated including, but not limited to: one Swiss army knife complete with a can opener, bottle opener and a cork remover; varying sized tents depending on the type of excursion; a single burner propane cooker and two mess kits; a small axe; sleeping bags…

Kayakalacking

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Summer arrived earlier than usual for us now that we are on Arizona's school year, and to celebrate each of us signing contracts for the 2011-2012 school year, we decided a little something was in order... The latest additions to our family. Welcome Home!
Little did we know how much money, physical labor, and dedication this decision would ultimately require of us. I wasn't completely ignorant of the cost, but there were a few elements that we overlooked in our haste to purchase the perfect kayaks. Yes, I already have a kayak, but alas, it is in Washington, and it is currently a sister kayak for my parents'. Not only was it implausible to retrieve "Old Blue", it simply did not seem right to break up the pair. 
So, off to Dick's Sporting Goods we went just "to look around". However, within fifteen seconds of my riding up the escalator, there she was, strapped precariously to the railing. "The Lovely Lady", as I like to call her, caught my eye …

Pudding Shots = Amazing

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Last weekend I was introduced to what I firmly believe to be the epitome of adult desserts- the jello pudding shot (thank you Andrea!). It is now time for you to try them too. Since the base is pudding they need a bit of time to chill in order to increase their overall deliciousness, but they are super quick and easy to prepare once you figure out exactly what concoctions you will be creating.
In my laboratory! For each of the following recipes simply whisk the instant pudding packet, alcohol, and cream together until smooth. The whipped cream is stirred in lightly before transferring the pudding to their individual containers.

[Tip #1] I used cream (half n half) instead of milk and added whipped cream to each recipe to create a more firm pudding and combat the soup-y-ness caused by the alcohol.

[Tip #2] Freezing the pudding shots is also an alternative. Doing so will make a more milkshake-like consistency.

[Tip #3] To determine the overall amount of "liquid" required, I follow…