Sunday, February 28, 2010

Books Read in February 2010

  1. The Wicked West by Victoria Dahl
  2. Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins
  3. Power Play by Deirdre Martin (NOTE: This book is part of the NY Blades series. You can find the order here on the author's website.)
  4. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  5. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (NOTE: This is part of the Chesapeake Bay series. The order can be found here.)
  6. Rising Tides by Nora Roberts (NOTE: This is part of the Chesapeake Bay series. The order can be found here.)
  7. Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts (NOTE: This is part of the Chesapeake Bay series. The order can be found here.)
  8. Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy (Note: This is part of the Fast Track series. The order can be found here.)
  9. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  10. Catch a Mate by Gena Showalter

As I mentioned earlier, I bought a nook, and it finally arrived this month. So, I've been reading actual books and ebooks. I've been finding, I've been reading much faster and have adapted to ereading much faster than I expected. I love it. I'm still buying books and will for my favorite authors (will probably end up buying more than one version actually), but I can see myself transferring to ereading on a much faster pace than I originally expected. Notable books this month - Winter Garden was absolutely fantastic. It was so well done, but it is a tear-jerker. The links above will link to a book or an ebook to represent which type of book I read. The Nora Roberts books are actual rereads. They were just as good this time around as the original time. There is also a fourth book in the series, but I opted not to read that one. Wench was for bookclub. Here's to an equally-productive March. So far, the books I've started have been great and can't wait to finish them!

Movies Watched in February 2010

  1. Temple Grandin
  2. (500) Days of Summer
  3. Crazy Heart
  4. Coraline

I know I said that I wouldn't list TV movies, but I actually saw the HBO movie, Temple Grandin, in the theater. Crazy Heart is the movie I saw in the theater this month which I liked. I am trying to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before next week, but time is running out and I also refuse to pay theater prices for a movie coming out on DVD the Tuesday after the awards so that severely limits me. I think I'll be able to squeeze in one more though.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Hero

I am as forward-thinking as the next person. However, when it comes to bugs/insects/creepy crawlies, I will be the one on my chair screaming like a little girl. So, when this gigantic prehistoric, flying cockroach cousin appeared on the INSIDE OF MY WINDOW at work, I may have screamed. I should also mention that I don't kill bugs. It makes me sad. Strangely, I have no problem with other people killing them for me. So, I had just convinced myself that the gigantic bug was on the outside when it flew (not towards me, but in my mind, it was attacking). At this point, I had squealed like four times making my one co-worker laugh because she knew exactly what was going on. My other co-worker came to my rescue and made it his mission to kill it. He did admit that it was a large bug at least. Little does he know that I would have screamed like that for a gnat and have. So, yes, I'm a giant leap back for strong women everywhere, but big thanks to my heroic co-worker.

Weekend Update - Food Glorious Food (and Family)

First, all the photos in this post are from yesterday.

Last Friday was a quiet night. We mostly just hung out. Husband fell asleep on the couch while I read.

On Saturday, Husband got up with Little Miss while I slept in. When Little Miss woke from her morning nap, I woke up and got ready. After lunch, Little Miss and I went to my parents' house. We hung out there for a little bit before running some errands. We hit up
Babies R Us for some random items for Little Miss and then went to the used bookstore. Little Miss and I then dropped Mom off and she took a nap while I drove home. We went to the grocery store, had dinner, and then she went to bed while I read and thought about cleaning. Husband had a guys' night and came home after I went to bed.

On Sunday, I woke up with Little Miss despite a raging headache. When she went down for her morning nap, I did, too. Husband woke up with her after the nap. We relaxed for a bit while my headache went away (with some medicinal assistance) and then we cleaned and started preparing for our feast. We had Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law for some Asian and Asian-inspired food to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We made
egg rolls and bulgogi and ribs basted with duck sauce while Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law made sushi, fried rice, and salad with the yummy Japanese restaurant dressing. We had a bit too much food, but the good news is that we now have leftovers! After they left, I painted my nails and went to bed. Onto another week, the last week in February, can you believe it?

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Official!

Little Miss is enrolled to start preschool in the Fall. We still need to work on potty training this summer, but she's all set. I can't wait to see how she is with her new friends and see how much she learns. I know she's going to love it and soak up everything. Time is flying! It is sad to know she's not a baby anymore, but it's very exciting to see what kind of little girl she's becoming. Plus, now I get to shop for a First Day of School outfit.

Sexy Friday

So, I'm sure Valentine's Day is number 1 in the country because my Sexy Friday helped advertise this month. So, to continue, Topher Grace is this week's Sexy Friday. His counterpart is Kate Bosworth, his co-star in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, a film masterpiece. I can't say I have strong feelings one way or the other on either one of them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Weekend Update - Presidents' Day Weekend

Friday was a lazy night. It was our first work day in a week so we were exhausted. On Saturday, we got up and went to western Maryland to spend the long weekend with my family. Sister and Nephew were already up there with my parents. The first day, we all went out to play in the snow. The above photo is how high the snow is with Little Miss as a yard stick. It was a lot of fun and snowed the entire weekend we were there.My mom has a little tree in the corner that acts as a Christmas tree, but she changes the decorations monthly so it's a Valentine's Day tree this month. We always try to take a photo of the kids in front of it. This was Take 3 and included bribery. We mostly watched the Olympics and hung out which was nice and relaxing.When we got home on Monday evening, Little Miss took a nap as soon as we got home (around 4PM). She slept briefly in the car when we left around 11AM. At around 5:30PM, I left to meet a friend and came home around 9:30PM. Little Miss had been asleep the entire time. I woke her up when I got home so we could change her diaper and feed her something. She spent the first half of dinner sobbing. Seemingly nothing would set her off, we'd get her calmed down and then she'd just start sobbing again. So, I took photos and videos because that's what I do, and it makes it a little easier to sit through the sobbing. Above is a photo of all sorts of lovely bodily fluids. Now onto the 4-day work week where I have to catch up from the last week.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy New Year!

To all my Asian friends, Happy New Year! This year is Year of the Tiger. You can read more about people born (or who will be born) in the Year of the Tiger here. We won't be doing much to celebrate, but I could use the red envelopes I get for Valentine's Day as part of the tradition (though I'm pretty sure they won't be filled with money).

This is My Confession


I'll admit it. I'm not an Olympic enthusiast. I've never seen an Opening or Closing Ceremony in their entirety. I'll occasionally watch bits of events, but I wouldn't if I had remote control. I do check the paper/internet for medial counts by country, but that's more for curiosity. It's like how the entire world is unaware or doesn't care about any of the television shows I enjoy. That's kind of how I feel about the Olympics. I know they're on, I just don't care. Everyone else can enjoy. Husband did have the Opening Ceremonies on last night, and I mostly grumbled how long it was taking. Husband will watch events throughout the next couple of weeks. I'll do my best to ignore them. I mean, I think it must be awesome to be there and I think the athletes are amazing, but it's 2 weeks of sports and incredibly sappy, manipulative stories by NBC - two of my least favorite things on the planet. Plus, when it's over, my Friday Night Lights is coming back. You know, for people not to watch. TV karma.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Little Miss wasn't a cooperative model last night when I tried to take some Valentine's Day photos, but here are the photos I managed to snap. Maybe she'll be more cooperative on the actual day. Either way, Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! May it be filled with love and happiness even if you dislike the holiday as I do.

Sexy Friday

To continue with my month of Valentine's Day stars, here is Ashton Kutcher. His counterpart, of course, is his wife, Demi Moore. I can't say I like Ashton Kutcher, but sometimes, I can't help but laugh at, er, with him. I think I first saw Demi Moore in One Crazy Summer and later, of course, in a zillion other movies.

We're heading out of town this weekend so Happy Valentine's Day and Happy New Year (for those who celebrate the Lunar New Year) or just plain old Happy Presidents' Day weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My New Toy

After Christmas, I used all my gift cards and purchased a nook or an electronic reader. I had my reservations. I mean, I do love actual paper books, and I will still buy them. However, I liked the idea of saving space with the eReader. My poor overstuffed bookshelves like to share the load, too. I know a lot of people have the Kindle and are very happy with it, but I've always loved Barnes & Noble and shop there more often than Amazon.

So, after a week with the product, I will say I'm happy with it. I did a lot of research before purchasing so I know it is not a perfect product. I also did have some glitches in the beginning - one resulting in calling customer service. Everything was quickly resolved, and the operators on the phone were very friendly and patient. Since then, there has been an update to the software, and I have had no issues at all.

It is very easy to purchase eBooks, perhaps too easy. You can do this online or through the device itself, and the book(s) show up instantly. I've found the prices very competitive. There is a slight discount when compared to the paperback prices, but the real savings is in hardcovers and bestsellers. Plus, a lot of the Barnes & Noble classics are only 99 cents. So, this may result in more high-brow reading for me.

On a superficial note, I do like that I can upload pictures as my wallpaper and screensaver. I can't get enough photos of Little Miss! It took me a little bit to get used to the touch screen, but it's easy to manuever. The other criticism is the delay in turning pages, but I found that when I get to the last line, I turn the page. By the time I finish the line, the new pages appears. I will agree with the criticism that the battery is not as long-lasting as it could be, but I believe it does last longer if you don't continuously buy books and/or use the network. Also, it doesn't take long to charge at all. So, overall, I'd say it's a decent first generation, and I'm happy with my purchase even though it took me a little time to adjust to not holding an actual book. I do like that it only takes one hand to read so I can read while waiting for a pot to boil or standing in line at the grocery store while the mad hordes prepare for a winter storm or waiting for the car to be inspected. I'm actually finding, because it's so easy to read everywhere, that I'm reading quicker, too, and I expect to be able to read more books than I have been which is nice because I have not been pleased with my numbers of late.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend Update - Snow and More Snow

I don't know if you heard, but the Washington DC area got a little bit of snow this weekend. Work closed at noon last Friday. I hustled home to do a little work but mostly nap. I braved the store on Thursday night so we were ready to hunker down.

On Saturday, we did venture out for a little walk around the block. It took about an hour. The photo above is how deep the snow was while Husband and Little Miss tried to cross the street. On Sunday, we stayed in. Then, we did some cooking for Super bowl. Below, you can see how Little Miss looked while watching the big game. She loves football. She put her sunglasses on and, for a brief moment later, her Easter bonnet. Nothing like a girl with style.

This morning, the Federal Government was closed and, therefore, my office though I did as much work as I could do. Mostly, the day was a quiet day with a bit of playing. Little Miss is wearing down and we'll see what tomorrow has in stock for us as we brace for yet more snow tomorrow (a predicted 6-10 inches).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Food!

So, we use Superbowl Sunday as an excuse to have a great dinner. Let's face it, it's like Husband's Academy Awards. Our menu tonight is egg rolls (though this is, by no means, healthy), shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, steak and vegetables. We'll eat over time and have plenty of leftovers. I thought I'd share some recipes. Below are the Chicken Avocado Egg Roll recipe and my crab cake recipes. I got the egg roll recipe from the California Grown website, but I can't remember where I found the crab cake recipe. I like the crab cake recipe because it's mostly crab and it's very easy. You can also make smaller crab cakes and serve as an appetizer. Little Miss even helped me make the crab cakes. After I finished each one, she pat it. Photos in the forthcoming Weekend Update. Photos are not of my actual products (and truth is, I made my egg rolls without red peppers and substituted water chestnuts for bamboo because the store was out).

Chicken Avocado Egg Rolls

Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup each: bamboo shoots and finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless California chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup each: julienne cut Napa and green cabbage
1/2 cup each: bean sprouts and shredded carrots
4 cups rice bran oil or vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
12 large egg roll wrappers
2 California avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 24 strips

Directions:Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add bamboo shoots, celery, ginger, garlic, chicken, and soy sauce; cook and stir for 5 minutes more. Let cool. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and chicken mixture. In a medium saucepan, heat rice bran oil to 350°F. (Oil should be deep enough so that egg rolls don’t touch bottom of the pan.) To prepare egg rolls, stir together egg and milk. Lay egg roll wrappers with corners facing like a diamond. Place equal amounts of filling and 2 strips avocado in the center of each. Fold in bottom, then sides and roll up making 4 to 5-inch long egg rolls, being careful not to tear wrappers. Seal with last corner with egg mixture. Dredge in egg mixture, then drain excess. Submerge in hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain well on paper towels. Makes 12 egg rolls.

Crab Cakes


Ingredients:
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 TBS onion, minced
1 TBS mayo
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 c breadcrumbs
1 lb lump crab meat
2 TBS oil for sauteing

Directions:

Combine all but crab meat and breadcrumbs. Gently mix in crab, then breadcrumbs. Spread thin layer of breadcrumbs on work surface. Form mixture into equal balls (8) of 2" diameter. Form cakes about 1/2" in thickness and 3" in diameter. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Heat 2 TBS of oil in skillet. Saute cakes 2 at a time. Cook 2 minutes on first side. Turn and cook on other side 5 minutes reducing temperature to low.

Note: I will say that it's very important to just spend the money and get the lump crab meat. It's the meatiest and will make a difference in the texture and taste of your crab cakes. It's tempting to buy imitation or other types of crab, but the lump crab cake is the yummiest.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sexy Friday

This is the month of Valentine's Day so this month's theme is stars from film opening today. The first is a woman who has escaped Sexy Friday... until now. I can't say I'm a huge Jessica Biel fan though I've seen her both on tv and film, but she does have a crazy in shape body and always looks so put together even when doing an arduous hike up some big mountain. However, I want to see her in the upcoming A Team. Her Sexy Friday counterpart is Justin Timberlake who doesn't do too much for me, but I do think he's funny which makes a man sexier in my opinion. His appearances on Saturday Night Live are always a highlight of the season.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Temple Grandin

photo copyright Rosalie Winard

Last night, a friend and I went to see a sneak preview of the movie, Temple Grandin. It was based on the life and books of Temple Grandin (the real woman is shown in the photo above, but Claire Danes does an amazing job portraying her in the movie). The movie was very well done as almost all of the HBO movies are. Temple is a scientist who was diagnosed with Autism in the 50's. The insight into the condition is extraordinary, but I also really respect the advances she's made in the livestock industry (an industry that has never, ever, ever interested me). She overcame amazing odds and really made a difference in an industry that was (and is, I imagine) really led by men. You can click here to read and/or hear an interview with Temple Grandin. The summary and movie didn't truly interest me by itself. However, I was given the opportunity to see the sneak preview and rarely turn down movie tickets. I'm glad I went, and I think it's a movie everyone should see. It premieres on HBO this Saturday night and, as with other HBO films, I'm sure it'll be on DVD eventually as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Little Miss (Almost) Ready for School

We've inquired and are very close to enrolling Little Miss in school. *sniff* It also seems that she is turning into a Little Girl and less our baby or even our toddler. I mean, full on LITTLE GIRL. Craziness. She's going to be taller than I am next year (joking... sort of). She went through 3 shoe sizes last year (not joking). I know times goes quickly, but this is just flipping ridiculous. Where's a DeLorean when I need one?

Calvin and Hobbes

I can't say I was ever the biggest fan of Calvin and Hobbes, but I would read the strip. I was a girl and a stuffed blue rabbit so, at some level, I had to respect a boy and his stuffed tiger. I think they had grander adventures, but a child and his stuffed counterpart have a very special relationship. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, came out of his obscurity to grant his local paper an interview. The online versions is offered here. I do admire his attitude and find his answers amusing and insightful. Though I understand an artist wanting to leave on top, there is a part of me as a fan that does want something to continue on and on and on (yet is disappointed when quality doesn't live up to nostalgia) which is, of course, why artists have to do what they need to do to keep things fresh or to hold themselves to their own standards and not pander to the public (but it must be difficult not to pander when there is a giant paycheck attached).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Contest

Julie James has a new book being released in March. It is called Something About You. Her books are absolutely adorable, straight up romance. They've very sweet, clever, witty and fun. In honor of her new book, Julie James is having a contest on her blog. First place is $100 Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble. Second and third place winners receive an autographed copy of her book. Check it out and good luck (though not too good of luck as I want to win)!

Awards Ceremonies

So, it is awards season and, this morning, the nominations for the Golden Raspberry Awards were announced. You may click here to see if your least favorites (or favorites) were chosen. Traditional, this ceremoney is held the day before the Academy Awards ceremoney. The nominees were all pretty bad (from reputation as I haven't actually seen any of them). I love hearing about the (very few) actors who have accepted or been presented awards. You can see the list here. I think it's great to see actors/writers/directors humble and able to take a joke. Halle Berry's speech cracked me up. It is interesting to know that it is possible for Sandra Bullock to win both a Razzie and an Oscar this year. Stay tuned... Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow!

Weekend Update - Highs and Lows

Last weekend had its highs and lows. On Friday, we had a quiet night at home. On Saturday, we woke up early and bundled up to go to the zoo. Tai Shan, the "baby" panda, is leaving this week to live in China. Husband acquired tickets to view the baby when he was truly a baby years ago so it was only fitting we be there to say farewell to him. We had a good spot to watch. The crazy blizzard conditions made the crowd smaller than we expected. Little Miss didn't care too much, but she did say "panda". Afterwards, she led us straight to the gift shop (don't know where she got that from). She perused the entire store and chose a ball. So, we caved and bought it for her along with a t-shirt. Then, we went grocery shopping and home. Saturday was a quiet night.

On Sunday, I woke up an hour earlier than I expected because a certain Little Miss changed my clock without my knowledge. I went to bookclub where we chatted, ate and briefly discussed the book. It was a nice girls' afternoon. On the way home, I got into a teeny accident. Everyone was safe. It was a miscalculation on my part, too, which was fantastic. It was very minor and everything, so far, has gone smoothly. I was taking my left and didn't realize there were two lanes took the left. My next move was to take a right and, when I merged into the right lane, didn't realize there was a car there because I thought he had to go straight. He did not. So, that put a damper on my afternoon and even took away my excitement of going to
Target. I still went to Target and bought something for Husband. After, I went home and sulked - though seeing how happy Little Miss was to see me made me happy. We had a good family night, the Grammys and bed.

Oh, last weekend, when Husband and Little Miss took out the garbage, I replaced the bag as per routine. Little Miss came running back, took a bag from the cabinet and started shaking it so she could replace it. We had to break it to her that it was already done. So, last night, when the garbage was taken out, we let her replace the bag. For about 15 minutes, she struggled to open the bag and replace it in the trashcan. I finally took the bag and replaced it against her will. I think she'd still be there trying if she had her way. A short video clip below of her attempt.

video

Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes!

Last Thursday, I went out of the office at lunch time and ended up spending time at DSW. DSW does not normally carry my size, but I always find the need to look. It so happens that this one pair of shoes was a size larger than mine, but the shoes fit. They were 50% off the clearance price. Still, I didn't need shoes. Then, later, I found a gift card. So, the next day, I went back hoping the shoes were still there. They were! I tried them on, and they still fit. So, I bought them. On the receipt, it says I saved over $90 which made me very happy. Now, I just have to hope the weather eventually warms up so I can wear them.