Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kitten's library caboodle: January 29-31, 2009

This is a post that was once in a category called Library Loot. While it still will receive that label, I think the actual post title is more fun. :)

Anyhoo, can I tell you how much I love interlibrary loan? I was able to get these books from another library in the state:

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, by Paul Gallico
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York, by Paul Gallico
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament, by Paul Gallico
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow, by Paul Gallico

I found these four books under a review posted over on J. Kaye's Book Blog. A few years ago, I remember watching a made for TV movie based on Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, which starred Angela Lansbury in the title role. I love anything Angela Lansbury's in; my whole family watched Murder, She Wrote together for the whole time it was on CBS.

I also got two other books:

  • The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan
  • Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, by Michael Davis (This is the book I'm currently reading!)

Well, Kittens, just wanted to share that with you! Reviews coming soon; my reading list keeps growing and growing!

My Super Bowl pick

It's gonna be the Steelers, and here's my crazy theory why:

It has to do with serendipity, Kittens.

You see, it starts with my theory on the American media: 25% of the American media is in Washington, covering all sorts of political matters. The remaining 75% covers matters of other sorts of importance. For example, those three-fourths traveled down to Tampa from Springfield, Illinois, where they covered the Rod Blagojevich trial. From Tampa, they will travel to Pittsburgh to cover all of the post-game celebrations, riots, and revelry.

From Pittsburgh, the media horde will travel through the night, 84 miles to the northeast, to be exact, to the borough of Punxsutawney, where a rodent is said to make weather predictions.

That's right, the day after the Super Bowl is Groundhog Day, and wouldn't it be ever so convenient if the media horde could just get in their cars and drive to Punxsutawney from Pittsburgh? Where the light from all of their camera flashes will inevitably cause that stupid groundhog to see his shadow, anyway, prolonging this blasted winter of ours?

Arrggh, I'm getting pissed right now--all over the damned Super Bowl too! So to sum up, it's gonna be the Steelers, don't ask me about a point spread, cuz I don't know a blasted thing about football.

As for that blasted rodent...stay tuned on Monday. I have a feeling there's gonna be another haiku in store.

Tarzan's Tonsillitis, by Alfredo Bryce Echenique

I borrowed this book from my local library because I thought the title was interesting.

I opened the cover and I read the flap with the summary:

"From the internationally acclaimed Peruvian writer--winner of the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world--a tragi-comic story of improbable, inevitable love."

Oooh, I thought, Cervantes prize! This has to be good. I read on.

"At the center: a couple in love, in exile together and apart. He is Juan Manuel Carpio, a second-generation Peruvian of Native American origins, a middle-class singer-composer. She is Fernanda Maria de la Trinidad del Monte Montes, a polyglot and cultured Salvadoran. Through the mostly epistolary narrative set in 1960s Paris, revolutionary El Salvador, Chile, 1980s California, and London, we follow the thirty-year arc of their relationship."

I'm a big fan of epistolary novels; Steve Kruger wrote two of my favorites, Last Days of Summer and Almost Like Being in Love. Click on the titles to read my reviews.

I decided to continue reading the summary:

"At once cheerful, hopeful, and informed by a serene lack of sentimentality, the narrative--rich with the delights of paradox and hyperbole--sees the couple through disastrous and traumatic marriages to other people; the ups and downs of their respective careers; the inexorable effects of politics on their personal lives; their shifting passions and gradual realization that the truest bond between lovers is a tender, abiding, and respectful friendship."

I wish I could say that I loved this book. I liked it, but didn't love it. In fact, I was quite disappointed with it. This, quite simply, is the tale of two lovers who are meant to be together, but various circumstances keep them apart.

I didn't like the main characters. Juan Manuel longs to be with Fernanda, but is too much of a wimp to take a stand with the men in her life, or with Fernanda at all, and say, "We're meant to be together! Let's do something about it NOW!" And Fernanda is portrayed throughout the novel as a wuss as well; she wants to be strong, but she doesn't know how.

***WARNING: SEMI SPOILER ALERT AHEAD***

I guess the main reason why I didn't like this book was the lack of a happy ending. I won't spoil it for you all, but I guess it was somewhat realistic, as many couples just aren't meant to be together. I myself have been the recipient of many disappointing romances; I have a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks in Unrequited Love.

Finally, the relationship between Juan Manuel and Fernanda was confusing to decipher: Are they friends? Are they lovers? The friendship is clear, but the author does not really indicate the extent of their romance; there was very little passion between the lovers each time they were actually together, save for a lot of hugging and kissing (and very little besides that; there's little talk of sex in this novel).

Sooo...back to the library it goes. I was disappointed, for based on the summary, this book promised a lot more than it delivered.

This was the first book I read in my 2009 Library Challenge, as well as the latest on my list for my 100+ Library Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the latest updates!

The single gal's guide to groceries

I do my grocery shopping every payday. Once a month I do a big shop to stock up on whatever items I need to replenish my pantry. On the second payday, I buy the perishables: veggies, milk, etc.

I cook for myself, and I really enjoy it. Cooking for me is therapy; I can control the quality of the ingredients and take pride that I've really made a nice meal. I take pride in my cooking because I feel like I'm doing something good for myself.

Last night, I was between paydays, I had Friday brain, and I had PMS. I was tired, and didn't feel like cooking or nuking something in the microwave. I get like this some weeks, where I'm just too much of a lazy schmuck on Friday nights to do anything productive. Sometimes I go out on Friday nights, other times I'm too tired to do anything. Last night was one of those nights.

Last night, since I had PMS, I was craving carbs.

There was only one thing that could satisfy my craving.

The Cheesiest.

That's right, Kittens, I sought the comfort of that magical Blue Box, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I grew up on Mama Cat's mac, which is fabulous and far superior to the Magic Kraft, but I didn't feel like taking all the necessary steps to make her recipe (melt the cheese, boil the pasta, mix cheese and pasta, but in casserole dish, sprinkle top with bread crumbs, bake at 350 for 45 minutes).

So last night, on my way home, I stopped at CVS and picked up the following:
  • 2 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese
  • a quart of skim milk
  • a pint of Edy's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream

The cashiers laughed at my purchases, but it was all in good fun. At first I felt like I had to apologize for my bag's contents, but I decided not to. So what if they think I'm strange? I'm only cooking for myself here, people!

I went home and made my pasta. I cannot practice portion control when I eat the Cheesiest. For me, the best way to eat it is straight out of the pot, using the same wooden spoon that you used to cook it. Same thing went with the pint of Edy's; I ate the whole thing.

And that was my dinner last night.

And today...well, I don't feel so good. I cannot eat the same way I did when I was in my 20s.

I need to have breakfast right now, probably some eggs. I need the protein.

But I have one more box of the Magic Kraft, and I can hear it calling my name...

Beauty tips for hard times: exfoliating and moisturizing

This winter, moreso than past ones, by skin has been incredibly dry. In fact, my shin skin resembled scales. I felt really tight, like I was too big for my skin, that I needed to shed. Gross imagery, I know, but I don't know how else to describe it!

I stopped by CVS on the way home from work last night and checked out the exfoliants. I love browsing through the beauty aisle, but it leaves me overwhelmed. A lot. And last night, I had tired Friday brain, so I couldn't think too much.

I went home. As I drove home, I decided to make my own exfoliant.

It's easy:
  • Take whatever liquid hand/body soap you have on hand. If it says "moisturizing" on the bottle, that's even better! Don't use dishwashing detergent; the ingredients may be too harsh for your skin. Pour some of the soap into a bowl.
  • Now take out some table salt. Any table salt will do; the cheaper, the better. (I just got a container of salt at Price Rite for 59 cents).
  • Pour whatever amount of salt you want into the bowl, and mix it with the soap. I wish I could say "1 part soap to 2 parts salt, but adjust to whatever consistency you wish. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to use less salt.
  • Take your bowl and head over to the shower. You want to put this exfoliant on while you're standing in the tub, otherwise your bathroom floor will be a mess. Gently massage it onto your DRY skin. The key word here is GENTLY. My skin was so dry that it really hurt to massage.
  • Now turn on the water and rinse. You can massage your skin as you're in the shower, too; the soap will help you cleanse.
  • Finally, time to moisturize! Since my skin was so dry, I went by an old Italian woman's standby: olive oil. Use the cheapest stuff you can find at the grocery store; I only use the extra virgin stuff for my cooking, not for my skin!
  • Slather the olive oil on damp skin. Put your PJs on immediately. Again, put the olive oil on while you're in the tub, and don't use too much of it, otherwise you'll end up with an oil slick next time you bathe.
  • It's best to do the olive oil treatment at night, so your skin can absorb all of its wonderful moisturizing goodness. :)
  • FYI: olive oil also makes a good hair treatment. Heat it up gently, comb it through dry hair, and leave it in for half an hour. Shampoo as usual.

My skin is still a little dry, but it is definitely not as bad as it was before my shower yesterday. I don't have that tight, itchy feeling anymore. I still have moisturizing creams, but I use those during the day.

So that was my little beauty regime for last night. I'm doing the olive oil thing again tonight, but am sticking with the exfoliation for every other day. If you try this, let me know how it works for you!

Saturday 9: Going to Pot

Another Saturday, another meme! Here's this week's version of the Saturday 9:

1. When was the last time you smoked pot?
I've never smoked pot. I'm asthmatic with VERY sensitive lungs. There are days when I can't go into Macy's or Yankee Candle because of the perfumes.

2. What do you think is your biggest weakness?
Sometimes I'm just too nice to people; I need to focus more on standing up for myself.

3. What is your biggest fear?
Unemployment.

4. Is there a particular goal that you’d like accomplish this year?
I'd like to stop biting/picking my nails. Which reminds me, tomorrow's February 1st (already!) and time for an update for Project: Save Kitten's Nails!

5. What do you miss most from your youth?
The innocence. Not having a care in the world, knowing that Mama and Papa Cat were taking good care of us. Having the feeling that nothing bad was ever going to happen.

6. What is your best physical feature?
My eyes. They're the feature that I play up every day when I put on my makeup.

7. Are you very confident?
My confidence waxes and wanes. This week, it's been on the up and up. Next week, it could be different.

8. Tell us about the last time you were drunk.
I take the 5th.

9. Have you ever cheated on a lover?
Again, I take the 5th. As I've said before, I don't kiss and tell.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday cat blogging: Staying warm and cozy

I live in a condo, sans fireplace. In lieu of one, here's what Maggie and Gabby do to keep themselves toasty during the winter months:


They love hanging out by the radiator. The white wire you see there is for my cable; I need to get it re-hooked soon.

And here's another way Gabby likes to keep warm:

Is there any cat who doesn't love a pile of laundry? Especially clean laundry?

Happy Friday, Kittens! Stay warm and cozy yourselves!

Friday Fill-Ins: January 30, 2009

1. I'd really like about a hundred million dollars right now.

2. Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh, SHHHIITTTTTTTT!!!!! is the word you'd most often hear me say if I stubbed my toe.

3. Possession is not always a good thing, especially when it comes to people.

4. I am not acquainted Captain Jack Sparrow. (Never saw the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy).

5. Marshmallows and fire go together like Oreos and cream filling.

6. I hope to God that this stupid recession doesn't go on and on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a glass of wine and going to bed early, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and doing household chores and Sunday, I want to watch the Super Bowl! Go Steelers!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

President Obama on winter weather

Yesterday, a massive snow and ice storm made its way through the eastern half of the United States.

Here's what President Obama had to say about the weather in Washington:

Thursday Thunk: January 29, 2009

Helllllooooooooooo, Kittens! Time once again for a round of Thursday Thunks!

This week, while the questions are good, as always, my answers are a little boring. That, and somehow the posting format's screwed up, so my Thunk for this week is not up to what I feel are my usual standards.

1. Have you ever felt alone, but yet there are people around you?
Oh God, yeah. Doesn't everyone feel that way sometimes?

2. Do you have any video game consoles? Which ones?
I've never owned a video game console. Video games just aren't my thing. Last time I played one I got motion sickness from staring at the screen.

3. Do you freak out at food warnings/outbreaks, such as the recent peanut butter salmonella scare?
Nope.

4. What color/pattern is your beds' comforter/bedspread?
I have a white Martha Stewart duvet cover with some embroidery on it. During the winter I use an old lumpy quilt with blue and purple poppies on it.

5. How many windows do you have in your house?
Five: two in the living room, two in the bedroom/loft, and one small one in the foyer.

6. Name six things that are in your bathroom.
I have a toilet, tub, sink, medicine chest above the sink, medicine chest above the toilet, and my electric toothbrush, in addition to the usual health and beauty aids found in any bathroom.

7. How big is your garage? Should it be bigger?

I live in a condo complex with a parking lot. I don't have a garage.

8. Got your taxes done yet?

I just received my last W-2 form in the mail today. Now that I've got all my tax info I can finally send them over to my accountant.

9. Think of a mental disorder..... why did you think of that particular one?

Schizophrenia, because it has a long name.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CONnecticut politics revisited

This time, it's Hartford's mayor, Eddie Perez, who is in trouble.

Yesterday, Perez turned himself in to police, and was arrested on charges of bribery, falsifying evidence, and conspiring to falsify evidence. According to investigators, Perez never did pay the $20,000 for renovations to his kitchen--renovations done by a city contractor named Carlos Costa.

You can read the Courant's version of the story here.

Seen outside my window late this morning

Could it be? Is that a robin I see?

Wait a minute, thee! It's two robins I see!

Could spring really be coming sooner than anticipated?

I damn well hope so...if the groundhog sees his shadow next Tuesday I'm gonna go ballistic.

And now...haiku time

It's snowing again!
Lots of flakes and ice and cold
Hate...being...SNOWBOUND!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kitten's 2009 Chunkster Challenge

Just when I thought I couldn't sign up for any more reading challenges...

Here are the rules for this one (copied word for word from Think Pink Dana):

*A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) Don't complain folks, I read all thousands of pages of the Twilight series and they were good, but not a challenge. A chunkster should be a challenge.
*If you read large type books your book will need to be 525 pages or more I asked around and the average LT book is 10-15% longer or more so I think that was a fair estimate.
*No Audio books in the chunkster. It just doesn't seem right. Words on paper for this one folks.
* You may start any time after signing up. You must complete your reads before or on Nov 15th. *Short Stories and Essay collections will not be counted.
*Books may crossover with other challenges (see option 4 for a collaborative effort with TBR challenge)
*Only option 4 requires that you make a set list of books to complete the challenge
Here are the options. I've bold-faced and italicized mine:

*The Chubby Chunkster - this option is for the reader who has a large tome or two to read, but really doesn't want to commit to more than that. 2 books is all you need to finish this challenge.
*Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? - this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to 3-5 Chunksters over the next ten months.
*Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to 6 or more chunksters OR three tomes of 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.

And now...here's what I've got on my list so far:


Wish me luck with this one! This will be the most difficult of my reading challenges, I think!

And now...haiku time

Snow's coming again
Lots of flakes floating around
Winter really sucks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unconventional look-alikes: Morley Safer and Statler the Muppet

If you read my Twitter updates, you'll notice that I made a comment about how I think Morley Safer from 60 Minutes resembles Statler from The Muppet Show. (For those of you who may not know who Statler is, he's one of the old guys who sits in the balcony and heckles everything that goes on in the show. His buddy is Waldorf).

Well, Kittens...I just had to do this.

This is the best side-by-side comparison that Blogger will allow me to do. They're not the best pics in the world, either. Here on the left, you see Morley Safer, in what I believe is an older picture, probably earlier this decade. And here's the best close-up shot of Statler I could find, on the right.
Anyhoo, I'd like to know what y'all think. Do you see a resemblance? Are there any other resemblances that you'd like me to cover? It could become a new feature here on the blog!
Drop a line in the comments section and let me know what you think. I can't wait to hear your responses!

The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush, by Ann Gerhart

This was one of my recent purchases from the Friends of the Library booksale, held at--where else?--my local bibliotheque. For only a dollar, this little tome made its way to my home. I purchased it because Curtis Sittenfeld had used it as a reference when she wrote her fictionalized--may I add, lightly fictionalized--account of Laura Bush's life in her latest work, American Wife, a work that I just finished reading.

I purchased it in order to closely examine what was truth and what was fiction. After finishing The Perfect Wife, you can easily tell what is fiction in American Wife: Alice Blackwell's friends, her grandmother's role in her life, and the love scenes between her and her husband Charlie. The real Laura Bush is too discreet to even mention the word "sex" publicly.

After I finished The Perfect Wife, I was not just left with a clearer account of the differences between truth and fiction in the Sittenfeld novel, but I was left with a puzzling, complex profile of the now-former first lady, a woman who was just as fiercely protective of her husband's image as she was of her own privacy.

Ann Gerhart, the author, was a Washington Post reporter assigned to cover Mrs. Bush. At the time of the book's publication, in 2004, Gerhart had written nineteen articles about her for the Post. She had attended "numerous White House events she hosted and organized." (p. 191).

Gerhart had approached Mrs. Bush's press secretary in 2002 with the idea of writing a biography about the then-first lady. She wanted to write the book with full cooperation from Laura Bush, and asked her to "direct me to the peopel she felt knew her best and had observed her during different periods of her life." (p. 191) Mrs. Bush wanted a letter from Gerhart detailing the book and its purpose, and Gerhart responded to her request. Mrs. Bush, however, did not respond to the letter. Karen Hughes, then a presidential adviser, then informed Gerhart that Mrs. Bush would not sit for interviews for the book.

In spite of this setback, Gerhart still assembles a complicated portrait of a first lady who, as public a persona as she was for eight years, remains an enigma in many ways. In addition to her own interviews with Laura Bush, Gerhart relied on many previously published books and newspaper and magazine articles, as well as many television interviews. She provides a full bibliography of her sources at the end.

Here's what I found out about Laura Bush: she is passionate about literacy, and organized book festivals both in Texas and in Washington, DC. She is only the fourth first lady to testify before Congress, speaking before the Senate Committee on Education. She is an advocate for women's and children's rights, and was active in the creation of the Afghan Children's Fund, shortly after 9/11. Gerhart writes that, in some accounts, Mrs. Bush may have been secretly running the education department, her advocacy was so passionate.Now here's where things get murky: Whenever she appears in public, Mrs. Bush chooses her words very, very carefully, as if she is very, very careful not to contradict her husband on any political matters. (Mrs. Bush's friends told Gerhart that she had more liberal tendencies than her husband, and was known to vote Democrat on several occasions). During her White House days, she read several newspapers a day, and would have Karen Hughes call the editors of said newspapers to be more careful in portraying her husband as a monster, particularly when it came to American-Arab relations.

A couple of quotes from the book seem to solidify Laura Bush's personality for me:

"She is the Play-Doh first lady: Mold her into whatever shape you want, then stamp her back down into a pile of putty for her next audience." (p. 125)
"On the topic she held most dear, education, the first lady with the graduate degree seemed to have made a full retreat to an earlier era...in the end, she is an old-fashioned first lady. she moves in the directions she is asked to moved. Goes where she is told. Nobody urges her to do otherwise." (p. 185)

The most interesting part of the book is the chapter that detailed Mrs. Bush's parenting style. In this section, Gerhart is the most critical of the first lady, describing her as a mother who encouraged her daughters' very public adolecent rebellion, "defending her girls' right to behave like the wildest college girls out there, if that was what made them happy, or to walk around looking like grungy slobs. Her declaration was the dead opposite of what most parents of teenagers say, which is, of course, 'I don't care what other kids do. You are not other kids.' " (p. 136) Gerhart then offers a side by side comparison of how Chelsea Clinton treated her Secret Service agents with respect and politesse, whereas Jenna and Barbara Bush tried to ditch their Secret Service agents on various occasions. Gerhart portrays the Bush girls as privileged, spoiled children who had many freedoms and weren't reined in until Grandma Bush intervened. (Gerhart, by the way, portrays Barbara Bush as a far cry from the grandmotherly image she cultivated during her years as the first lady).

My one regret about this book is that it ended in 2004, before George W. Bush ran for re-election. I would love to see Gerhart write an update to this book, one that chronicled the second term of the Bush administration.
Here is what's clear to me: Laura Bush is a woman who never wanted to be in the political spotlight, but made the best of being forced into the public eye. She was not an intense, outspoken first lady a la Hillary Rodham Clinton or Eleanor Roosevelt. She was not a style icon like Jacqueline Kennedy or Michelle Obama. (I don't think it's too early for me to say that, given that she's only been first lady for less than a week). She did not totally shun the limelight like Bess Truman or Pat Nixon. Rather, she cultivated a balance between her passions and her desire for privacy. She seemed to stay true to herself during her years in Washington. That seems like something that is very difficult to do.

That having been said, I still can't figure her out. I can't seem to form an opinion on her, one way or the other.

This is the latest entry in my 100+ Book Challenge. As always, click the button on the sidebar to get the full update of my latests reads, as well as check up on my past reading adventures!

Return of the Clip of the Week!

I thought that this was an appropriate clip to mark the return of CoTW.

A little background on this song: It's sung by an Irish band, the Corrigan Brothers (although it says something different at the beginning of the song). In this song, the band offers its own special tribute to our new president.

And now for a little history, which I'm taking from an E-mail I just received (I got the video from the same E-mail):

Moneygall is a small village in County Offaly, Ireland. It has a population of approximately 300 people, has a Roman Catholic church, five shops, a post office, a national school, a police station and two pubs.

President of the United States Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney , emigrated from Moneygall to New York City at the age of 19 in 1850 and eventually resettled in Tipton County , Indiana . Kearney's father had been the village shoemaker, then a wealthy skilled trade.

And now, the clip. Crank up your speakers, it's got some catchy lyrics:

Sunday Stealing: The Sassy Meme

Here we go for another round of memes! I just started following Sunday Stealing, and this is my first go at it:

1. If you could say anything you wanted to say to George Bush, what would you say?
What did you and Jeb do in order to secure Florida's 25 electoral votes in 2000, and who did you pay on the Supreme Court to help decide the election?

2. If you had to be the mother of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, who would you choose and why?
I'd be Britney's mom, Lynne. In spite of all that her kids have been through, she seems to genuinely care about them and their welfare. Dina seems to care more about their careers; she's more of a stage mom than Lynne ever was.

3. You get to be Queen for a day. The kids are all taken care of, and you can spend as much money as you want. What do you do all day?
I'd go to the nicest beach in Matzatlan and spend my morning there, getting a tan and swimming in the ocean. Then, in the afternoon, I'd go for some full body spa treatments: hot stones massage, facial, and a mani-pedi. At night, I'd unwind poolside, sipping some cocktails and being waited on hand and foot.

4. Is there a song that brings tears to your eyes every time you hear it? If so, which one?
"The Rainbow Connection." Just the first few strums of the banjo set me off into a pool of tears. We had to play it at a memorial service for an elementary school classmate of mine, and I can't hear that song without thinking of him.

5. A fairy taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can either have a perfect face or a perfect body for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?
A perfect body, only because I'm overweight and need to lose a few pounds. As long as this wish also guaranteed me good health, I'd be in.

6. If you could live any place in the world and money was no object, where would you live and why?
I'd have a three-bedroom apartment in Paris, in the 7th arrondisement, overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Paris has always been close to my heart, and I would love to be in a place that's so full of history and culture.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?
Not taking more business courses when I was in college. Accounting, marketing, and finance would have come in really handy for me during this economic crisis of ours.

8. If you could go back and visit one person in your life who is now dead, and ask one question, what would that question be and why would you ask it?
My teaching mentor. I'd like to ask her why our friendship seemed to have cooled off during the last few months of her life.

9. If you had the choice to age forward (like we are now) or aging backwards (think Benjamin Buttons) which would you choose and why?
I'd still age forwards. I don't want to get younger and younger, and slowly regress to an age where I couldn't talk or no longer do things for myself...wait a minute, doesn't that happen to us when we get older, too? Is this a trick question?

10. What will the epitaph on your headstone say?
"She was a late bloomer who did things the hard way." Nothing has ever come easy for me; I've had to work hard at all of the things I've achieved, as well as the lessons I've learned.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bookshelf meme

I found this cute little meme over at Tiffany's, who found it over at Find Your Next Book Here. I just couldn't resist this! Here goes:

Tell me about the book that has been on your shelves the longest:

I received a copy of Little Women when I was either in 5th or 6th grade. It's been on my bookshelf since then. I tried to read it when I was in high school, but life intervened, and I just never had the time. This year, however, I'm determined to read it, as I have listed it as one of the books in my 100+ Book Challenge, as well as my 1st in a Series Challenge.




Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e., a person, a place, a time, etc.):

I had to include three books for this one. I'll explain why in a moment:

These were three of the books that my second grade teacher read to us. Mrs. Werner was one of my top three teachers of all time--perhaps she is my favorite teacher of all time. Among other things, she not only encouraged my self-esteem, which was shaky for an eight-year-old, but she also developed my life-long love of reading. She read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan to us, and encouraged us to follow along with the story using our own copies. She had a very soothing, soft voice, which I can hear every time I open the covers of any of these three books.
Tell me about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used book store, prize, etc.):

In high school our French teacher had us take the National French Exam. I wound up earning 4th place in the state of Connecticut for the First-Year Student category, and won an award for it at the end-of-year awards night. The principal of the school presented me with this blue and white plaid bag, tied with a lace ribbon, and this book was inside: Linnea in Monet's Garden. There was a little Linnea rag doll that came with it. I was a little shocked that this was the award I received; I was expecting a French-English dictionary or something more scholarly, but was rather pleased, and touched, by the gift from my teacher.

Last year I wrote a post about it; click here if you want to read more.

Tell me about a book that has been with you to the most places:

Linnea in Monet's Garden came with me to college, to my semester in Paris, back home, and to school for a period of time. The book and the doll are back home now, and have a prominent place of honor in my living room. Linnea the doll sits between two of my childhood treasures: my first teddy bear and my walking Mickey Mouse doll.

Tell us about the most recent addition to your shelves:

I bought this book during my recent trip to the library. It was one of the books Curtis Sittenfeld cited when she wrote American Wife, and I bought it out of curiosity. I wanted to see how much of American Wife was based on the truth and how much of it was based on fiction.

Tell me about a bonus book that doesn't fit any of the above questions:

This is not meant to be a sarcastic response to this question! I still have a copy of the local Yellow Pages by my phone, but I don't know why; I never use it! I just look up a number online whenever I need it! Yet the phone company, without fail, delivers a fresh volume every April or May. I wonder if I can call and request them NOT to deliver a new Yellow Pages this year.


And now, THE RULES:

1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.

And I tag...everyone who reads this blog! Feel free to participate, but there's no pressure to do so! Have fun!

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

I wanted to hate this book.

In fact, I expected to hate this book.

However, after finishing it only half an hour ago, and only two hours after I had last been on my computer blogging away, I had to come back and write my review...

I friggin' LOVE this book!

I won't say that I'm a Twihard just yet, but about halfway through this book I can understand why millions of girls, and even women, are enraptured by Edward Cullen. Stephenie Meyer makes him so...seductive. So...so...well, I can't find the words to describe what I feel for Edward right now, but I truly get it now. I now understand what all the fuss is about.

I originally bought the book from BOMC2.com, eager to find out why this book has such a cult following. The teenage girls at church raved about this, and any time you get an adolescent girl to read a book that's almost 500+ pages, you know something's up.

It started off very slowly. Bella Swan had just moved to Forks, Washington, to be with her dad, Charlie, who was the chief of police. Bella moved away from Phoenix, away from her mom and her new husband, an aspiring baseball player. Meyer doesn't really fully explain the reasons behind Bella's move to Forks, after living most of her life in Phoenix. In fact, Charlie's position as police chief doesn't figure in pertinently to this novel (though I have a suspicion that it might in the sequels). Bella starts off her life at Forks High School in a state of misery, not wanting to make new friends, trying to fly as far under the radar as possible.

On her first day, she meets Edward Cullen, first in the cafeteria, then as her seatmate in biology class.

She is puzzled by Edward's behavior, not knowing why he shuns her, then is friendly to her, then shuns her again. She starts to become obsessed with Edward's behavior.

Finally, the novel starts to pick up after Bella makes a trip to Port Angeles with two of her girlfriends to buy dresses for the girls' choice dance. I started to read further, out of curiosity, now that Bella and Edward have started to fall for each other.

And then, once Bella met the rest of the Cullen family, I couldn't put it down.

I really wish I could go into more plot twists than that, but if I did, I would be afraid that I would be revealing too much. All I can say is, get a copy of the book. Read it. Drink it in. Stephenie Meyer is a wonderful author; her descriptions are incredibly vivid, her plot twists are masterful, her character development is amazing.

And now, for a trip to Borders, to secure my copy of New Moon.

***This is another post in my 100+ Reading Challenge, as well as the first post for my 1st in a Series challenge. Click on the buttons in the side bar for the latest updates!***

I. Want. One.

Behold, Kittens, the Keurig Platinum Brewing System, the Holy Grail of coffeemakers. It can brew coffee, it can brew tea, it can brew hot chocolate or chai, if that's more your speed.

It. Is. Glorious.

And...I WANT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They're giving one away over at SITS, and if you write a post about this wonderful machine, you earn five--that's right, five--extra entries. And because I am a greedy bitch, here is my post.

The contest is open until January 31st.

I would wish you all luck in this contest...but I want it for myself, so I'm not gonna do that! HA!

(Seriously, if I do win, I'll have you all over for coffee).

In the meantime, I will just keep drooling over the picture.

Saturday 9: What's Cooking?

1. Which meal is the one you cook best?
That's a tough one...I'm a pretty good cook! I'm not sure about meals as much as individual dishes. I do make a mean bittersweet mocha coffee cake!

2. Tell us what you would never eat.
Peas. Brussel sprouts. Peas. Beets. Did I already mention peas?

3. Is your hometown famous for anything or anybody?
Anyone remember Jesse Camp? He was the first person to win the MTV "Wanna Be a DJ" contest. That's about as much of a claim to fame as I can make for my hometown.

4. Can you play a musical instrument?
I played the flute up till my sophomore year of high school.

5. Tell us about your second ever lover.
I take the 5th. There's no kissing and telling on this blog!

6. What is your favorite restaurant?
The Amici Grill, on Main Street here in the M-Town.

7. If it were your call, how often would you make love?
Again, I plead the 5th. See #5.

8. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Patti LuPone. She's so honest, and seems like a riot to hang out with.

9. Tell us about your job.
I'm a teacher. I don't want to say anything more about that, in order to protect my privacy, and that of my students.

Sorry that this Saturday 9 was a bit cryptic, but some of the questions were a little too personal today--even for me!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fill-in: January 23, 2009

Hey Kittens! Time for my first Friday Fill-in!

1. Oh, I am so friggin' tired right now! I could fall asleep this very instant!

2. The entire country is going through changes, big and little.

3. During my drive to work, I swear at all the idiots who don't know how to operate a car.

4. A woman's selling her virginity for $3.5 M; are you kidding me???


5. Right now I'd like to be in a nice, sunny, warm climate, on a beach with cocktail in one hand and book in the other.

6. My iPod is my favorite gadget.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to bed early (see #1), tomorrow my plans include reading some more of Twilight and Sunday, I want to go to Borders and buy New Moon!

See you tomorrow for the Saturday 9!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I can haz an award! The Honest Scrap Award!

I've been tagged by NurseExec for the Honest Scrap Award! My first blog award--I'm tickled!!!




This is an easy one--all you have to do is list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep! Then tag 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap Award. Here we go!!!!

1. As a kid, I was afraid of those 1970s era logos that came after TV shows--I'm talking about examples like the Viacom V of Doom and the Screen Gems S from Hell. I'm not afraid of them anymore--except for one. I have always been afraid of the ITC spinning rainbow diamond--the music, the logo zooming out at you. I had to hide from it every week whenever I watched The Muppet Show. It's a silly fear for me to have as an adult, but I've got it, and don't know if I'll get over it!

2. I've been hospitalized twice. I had bacterial pneumonia at 13 months and nearly died from it. The doctors placed me in one of those oxygen cribs, and I spent most of my stay there till I recovered. The second time was four years ago, when I had the flu. That year I didn't have a flu shot, but I've been diligent about getting one ever since.

3. I've been thinking about a career change. It's gonna be a hard decision, though, especially with the job market we're in right now. I'm not exactly sure where I'd go, either. But you can't beat the education field for its benefits, such as guaranteed vacation time.

4. As with 2/3 of our fair state of Connecticut, I once worked in the insurance industry. It was boring as hell. Wait a minute...how could hell be boring?

5. It's been five years since I've stepped in a movie theater. I hate watching movies! They're overpriced, plus moviegoers have no concept of etiquette. I always get seated around teenagers who are making out or are on their cell phones, or around people who just blab, blab, blab their way through the entire picture. As for movies on TV...I hate when they edit for swearing and commercial interruptions.

6. I'd love to take a job in another country, but I can't decide where I'd want to work. My main choices are Montreal, Paris, and Sydney, Australia. I'd love to live in another culture for awhile.

7. If my credit were better, I'd take advantage of some of the cheap real estate down in Florida right now. I'm not sure, however, if I'd want to live there full time, since I'd be the only one of my family living down there.

8. I always thought Joe Biden had a great smile. It just changes his whole face, from being an uber-serious, no-nonsense senator (now Vice President! yay!) to very sincere and caring. He looks so CUTE when he smiles!

9. When I was in middle school, I had a crush on Greg Louganis and even had his picture on my bedroom wall. I had no gaydar then, and didn't develop it till high school.

10. On my 30th birthday, my two best friends came up with a plan to try and convince me to sing for money in Times Square (after I had a couple of drinks). Sister Kitten, however, was there and put a stop to it. I was upset; I would have done it! (Lil' Sis argued that I would embarass myself, but I think she would have been more embarrassed).

And now...drumroll please...I tag thee:

Yaya over at Yaya Stuff

My new friend Droll Girl

Jodi at Moody Blue

Bud at WTIT

Amber over at Mommy Mania

Kimberella over at Life in a Zoo!

Berleen over at A Strait Jacket and a Padded Room

Have fun, Kittens!

Thursday Thunk: January 22, 2009

Time for another fun-filled round of Thursday Thunks!!

1. Obama tattoos. What do you think of people who got one?
Better them than me. I hate needles!

2. How many blogs do you read a day, and do you always comment?
I lost count after ten. I usually comment, but don't always have the time.

3. Do you know to swim?
I do, but I'm not very good at it. Last time I went swimming at the Y, I nearly drowned and had to use a kickboard.

4. Describe your favorite shirt.
It's a sweatshirt I got in high school. It says "Cape Cod" on the front and is super large and super comfy. It's 16 years old and has quite a bit of wear around the neckline, but I still love it. I wear it around the house now, never outside.

5. What is one thing that is ALWAYS on your grocery list? Extra points for imagination and creativity.
Purina Cat Chow Indoor Cat Formula. Sorry, I can't be more creative than this.

6. Have you ever done any acting?
Oh yes! I love acting. I did a lot of acting in elementary and middle school plays, but not much in high school or college. I just took it up again in a couple of church plays, and I've got the bug. I'd love to audition for a community theatre type play.

7. I just made a delicious smelling dinner with mystery meat. Will you have some?
Sure! It smells delicious, why not? What are you having for sides?

8. If you are driving in the rain and you see a person walking along the road, do you intentionally try to splash them?
NO! I can only imagine what it would be like if I were the one being splashed. YUCK!

9. Yearbooks- do you still have any from school?
I have all of my middle and high school yearbooks.

10. What kind of shampoo do you use?
Depends on what's on sale. Right now I use Pantene for curly hair. It's been an awesome shampoo, especially in this dry, cold weather. Weather like this makes me frizz.

11. And just to counter Ber's first question from last week.... What's the hottest temps you have experienced?
105 degrees in the shade. In VERY high humidity. I just stayed indoors with the A/C on full blast.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An afternoon rendez-vous a la bibliotheque

Yesterday I ventured to our public library, the Russell Library. The M-Town has one kick-ass, amazing library, and I figured, since I had just signed up for J. Kaye's library challenge, I'd better start taking advantage of it.

I had never really taken full advantage of the library before; in the five and a half years I've lived here in The M-Town, I've only borrowed a handful of books. Prior to yesterday's sojourn, it had been nearly three or four years since I borrowed a book.

Reason?

Easy.

Overdue fines.

Now, I didn't owe hundreds of dollars of fines, thank God, but it was an inconvenience that I really didn't feel like dealing with, and I kept putting it off and putting it off. That is, till yesterday.
Fortunately for me I only had to pay $27.90 in overdue/lost book fees. I was feeling tres giddy.

My first stop was the "Friends of the Library Sale" to check out whatever goodies they had on sale. I purchased these two books:

I had just finished reading American Wife, and thought I'd read another book by Curtis Sittenfeld. This will be the second book that I've read that is written by her, and will count as one of my books on my 2nds challenge.

Here's another book inspired by my reading of American Wife. Curtis Sittenfeld thanks the author of this book at the end of American Wife; she used it for researching the life of Laura Bush. I'd love to have the books open side-by-side, reading simultaneously, to distinguish truth from fiction.
And now, for what I've borrowed:

I've heard so much about this novel, all of it wonderful. I knew it was lengthy before I borrowed it, but it's 900 pages. In small print! I did the same thing Papa Cat used to whenever he picked up a book--any book. Even the little ones that he used to read to me and Sister Kitten when we were children.
I was lazily browsing through the shelves and came across this book. I was intrigued by the title, so I took it out. I forget what the plot synopsis is, and I'm too lazy to go to the other room to get it. Still, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for its title, so I shouldn't dismiss this one too quickly.

So that's my library loot for now! I wonder if the books I purchased from the library will count towards my library challenge...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration elation

We did get to watch the Inauguration today, after all.

We started watching around 11:45, just as Dianne Feinstein, Mistress of Ceremonies, was wrapping up a big speech. Shortly after that Aretha Franklin started singing "My Country Tis of Thee" and Rick Warren gave the benediction. John Paul Stevens administered the Oath of Office to Joe Biden. Ithzak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma played "Simple Gifts."

And then, the big moment.

I started crying as Obama took the oath of office, and we all cheered and cheered and cheered when it was done.

His speech was great, full of determination and a "Let's celebrate, but we need to get right down to business" attitude.

I have hope for our country--something we haven't had in the last eight years.

I think President Obama has a great ring to it.

I hope he succeeds.

Here's to the next four years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I was attracted to this book because of its unusual moniker. I know you're not necessary supposed to judge a book by its title or cover, but I did with this one, and I didn't regret it. It is a lovely, lovely book.

It all takes place in 1946, starting off in London, which is just beginning to recover from the disasterous effects of World War II and the German Occupation. Juliet Ashton is a young woman who has just had her first book published, a collection of columns that she wrote for the London Times. Juliet wrote the columns to provide a humorous look at war, and were so successful, that they were collected into a book, and led to her first book tour. We meet our heroine, exhausted from the tour and the publicity she received. Her publisher has now set her to task for finding subject matter for her follow-up book.

Juliet is out of ideas for her second book, and is suffering from writer's block, depression, and a broken engagement when she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams, who resides on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. Dawsey owns a book that Juliet once owned, Selected Essays of Elia, written by Charles Lamb. Juliet's name and address were written inside, and Dawsey writes her a letter, thanking her for the book and writing raves about his love for Charles Lamb.

This unusual letter begins a correspondence, not only between Juliet and Dawsey, but among other members of Dawsey's book club, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This group didn't originally start out as a book club, but rather, as an alibi meant to protect its members when they were caught breaking the curfew imposed by the Germans. Guernsey was under German occupation during the war, and Juliet comes to learn, through the letters she receives from various members of the Literary Society, that the island and its inhabitants suffered greatly.

Juliet becomes quickly attached to the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and eventually accepts an invitation to visit Guernsey. She finds the citizens to be even lovelier in person than they are in their letters. The members of the society are quite eccentric, to say the least, but they are characters to whom you will grow attached.

But it's not just the eccentricities of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that draw you into the book; it's the suffering that they have suffered through the war that makes you feel compassion towards them. There's Eli, now a young man, who was one of the children shipped off the island when the Germans invaded, and whose parents died before his return. There's John Booker, who was sent to a concentration camp after he was discovered impersonating another man. Then there's Kit, the young daughter of a founding member of the Society, whose mother died in a concentration camp.

Kit's mother, Elizabeth, figures prominently into the story. She was the once who concocted the alibi that led to the founding of the Society. But as Juliet discovers, she did much more than that, and had a profound, lasting impact on the Guernsey residents in many, many different ways.

Juliet originally went over to Guernsey to do research for her second book, as well as an article she was commissioned to write for the Times of London. But as her stay lengthens, the Society becomes a family to her, and her bond with them grows. She may even be falling in love...

This book is a rather quick read. It is written entirely in the form of exchanged letters, which can be annoying at times, but it still makes for some very good reading. Sometimes, although rarely, can you distinguish the writing styles of the different authors of the letters, but you can't get a flavor of the letter writers themselves through their writing styles. The character development comes out in the letters themselves, not by the authors' tone.

The backstory to this book is just as touching. Mary Ann Shaffer had originally traveled to England to research another book when she took a side trip to Guernsey. She was so inspired by the history and beauty of the island that she decided to write a totally different book altogether. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society had just been accepted for publication when Ms. Shaffer fell ill, and her niece, Annie Barrows, had to finish the book for her. Sadly, Ms. Shaffer did not live to see her work in published form.

Overall, this book was a very poignant, sweet read, one that makes you believe in human nature again. It's so touching to see how the residents of Guernsey come together to help each other during the war, and beyond. That feeling alone put a smile on my face.

This was the second book I reviewed for my 100+ Reading Challenge. To keep up with the latest, or my past reads, click on the button in the sidebar.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

I thought it was appropriate to write this review tonight, the eve of the Inauguration.

Before the story begins, author Curtis Sittenfeld writes a disclaimer. She writes that American Wife is a novel that is "loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady. Her husband, his parents, and certain prominent members of his administration are recognizable. All other characters in the novel are products of the author's imagination, as are the incidents concerning them."

Yes, the story is loosely based, but a more apt description would be "thinly disguised."

American Wife tells the story of First Lady Alice Blackwell, who is married to Charlie Blackwell, a Republican president who is enduring a very controversial second term in office, what with two wars occurring on the opposite sides of the world.

Sound familiar? It should. It's an account of the life of Laura Bush, told from the perspective of the First Lady herself.

Sittenfeld makes little to no attempt to disguise the inspirations for her characters. Consider these points:
  • Both Alice Blackwell and Laura Bush grew up as shy only children who loved books.
  • Both women worked as elementary school librarians before marrying their husbands.
  • Both Charlie Blackwell and George W. Bush had unsuccessful runs for Congress before becoming governors of their respective home states (GWB as Texas governor, Blackwell as governor of Wisconsin.)
  • Both men once owned baseball teams (GWB the Texas Rangers, Blackwell the Milwaukee Brewers).

The list goes on and on, and those are just a few samples.

It is very clear, from the beginning of this novel, what the author's feelings are towards the Bush family, and they are not pretty. Sittenfeld paints a picture of Charlie Blackwell as an insecure man trying to live up to the accomplishments of his brothers, one of whom is a popular Wisconsin Congressman, as well as his father, Harold, who once served as governor of Wisconsin himself. Charlie Blackwell is a man who is constantly obsessed with his legacy, and what he can do to top his brothers' and father's accomplishments. Alice, who is a dutiful wife, going everywhere her husband does and sitting by his side at gala dinners, doesn't quite understand Charlie's obsession with legacy. She is a very shy, almost prudish woman, who is more into her books and classic literature than being in the spotlight. There are many times throughout the novel where she references past memories by the books either she or her daughter were reading at the time.

Alice admits several times that she is a liberal, in contrast to her husband's conservative political stance, but she doesn't really express her opinions on many issues until the last part of the novel. American Wife is divided into four sections. The first three do an excellent job focusing on character development and the psyche of each of the characters, but the last one falls flat. It's as if Sittenfeld rushed to finish this last part, and you don't get the same amount of detail that you did in the first three parts. You get to read some of Alice's opinions about political beliefs, but they're not as hashed out as they could have been.

This novel ends in June 2007. I would have loved it if this were published about six months down the road. I would have loved to have seen Sittenfeld's take on the financial crisis, the bailouts, and the election, as well as Alice's feelings on preparing to leave public life.

In spite of its flaws, American Wife is a very well-written novel. Sittenfeld is an excellent writer. Along the way, she drops details that you initially think are insignificant to the story, but they pop up later as a strong plot point, to make the reader go, "Whoa!" Everything connects in this story. The subplot, which involves Alice's involvement in a fatal car accident when she was seventeen, figures in significantly, and Sittenfeld does a masterful job weaving it through the main plotline, and how it figures into Alice's life.

This is my first review for my 2009 100+ Book Challenge. To keep up with my reviews, just click on the button in the right sidebar. I'll be back soon...I've got another review to post for y'all!

The Post-Dubya World

I have no idea what it's gonna look like.

As of this writing, there are less than 24 hours left of the George W. Bush administration. I am thrilled, but I am also walking around in a cloud of disbelief.

I thought it was never going to end.

The last eight years went by verrrrry slowly. It seemed at times as if there had been no other president of the United States, ever, even though I was alive for Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and now, Dubya.

I had never seen a president mocked so much. Dubya's lame-duckitude inspired a cottage industry of calendars, clocks, timers, bumper stickers, clothing, and other such tchochkes that counted down the days remaining in his presidency. A good friend of mine has a "Countdown to 1.20.09" magnet on her refrigerator. It also serves as a timer, counting down the days till Bush leaves office.

I wonder what sound the timer will make when it goes off.

Sadly, I will be missing the Inauguration. I will be at work; I'll watch what I can of Barack Obama's speech following his swearing-in, since it'll occur during my lunch hour. I can watch it over the Internet. I figure it'll probably be on C-SPAN over the weekend...over and over and over, so I won't miss it.

I can't wait for Obama to take office. Just think, the United States is going to have a competent, articulate, motivated president for the first time in eight years!

I just hope that all goes well tomorrow!

Brought to you by the letter J!!

Coffee Slut tagged me for this meme, the "brought to you by the letter..." game.

Here’s how it works…You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on.

I've been assigned the letter J...here goes...

1. JOY: Whatever is going on in my life, no matter how stressful a day can be, I always try to search for a joyful moment in the day. It keeps me grounded. Joyful moments can be as simple as watching the sun rise on the way to work, or watching my cats nap. This is something I'm still learning how to do, since I'm an inherently cynical person.

2. JOURNEYS: I've had the travel bug since I was a kid. I love to go to different places and take photos of my trips. I love learning about new cultures, new languages, and having new experiences.

3. JAVA: I've learned over the past two years to love coffee. I really do love it, especially since I have some friends at work who love the Starbucks. Some Fridays we'll go to Starbucks after work and just dish. I personally prefer Dunkin' Donuts. Of course, I don't think I loves me the coffee as much as Coffee Slut and Jodi do.

4. JOURNALING: I love to write. Always have. I've kept a journal of one form or the other since I was eight years old. Writing helps keep me focused and sane; it's a great form of therapy. Of course, now I journal here on the blog, and everyone knows my business! (Well, most of it, anyway).

5. JERSEY SHORE: This was where we spent our summer vacations when I was a kid. My family went to Long Beach Island every summer from the time I was seven till I was sixteen. Sadly, I haven't been back since then. Still, the memories of it always make me smile. I miss it terribly; the beaches were absolutely beautiful.

6. JOKING AROUND: Humor is one of the most important things in life. I don't know how I'd be able to survive without a sense of humor! I love to laugh!

7. JENNIFER CRUSIE, JOANNE HARRIS, AND THEIR COHORTS: I had to find a creative way to include my love of reading in here! Hell, I just signed up for four reading challenges! I still have to post my review on the first book I read!

8. JAZZ, ROCK N' ROLL, AND OTHER FORMS OF MUSIC: I don't know how I could live without music! My iPod comes with me everywhere. Music enlightens my spirit, enriches my soul, and brings back some very deep memories that a photograph can't always do. I hear a tune, and I'm transported back in time to a place I thought I'd never be again (like middle school).

9. JAZZERCISE: I love working out. I love the feeling that finishing a workout gives me, a sense of accomplishment, a sense that I did something really, really good for myself.

10. JON STEWART AND STEPHEN COLBERT: I love political humor, and these two men really were the ones who brought it to the American mainstream. They often point out things that the pundits miss.

Well, thanks for the tag, Coffee Slut! If you want to play along with us, leave a comment and I'll assign you a letter!

I'm a question mark!

Taken from a quiz over at blogthings.com, which I had originally found over at Yaya's.

You Are a Question Mark


You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.
And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.
You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.
(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma
P.S. According to these quiz results, Yaya and I would get along extremely well!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kitten's 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge

This will be the last reading challenge I sign up for this year. (Famous last words, I know). Here's the link to J. Kaye's for all of the rules.

For this one, you can choose to read any 12, 25, or 50 books from your local library. I'm going with 25. There are still a lot of books on my bookshelf that I'd like to read, and with this economy, I need to be frugal about my book purchases!

Not to mention, my town has one kick-ass, amazing, award-winning library.

And, like the other three challenges, you can keep up with me via the button on the sidebar.

Here's the list so far (updated July 31, 2009):

1. Tarzan's Tonsillitis, by Alfredo Bryce-Echenique
2. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
3. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, by Michael Davis
4. The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan
5. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, by Paul Gallico
6. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York, by Paul Gallico
7. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament, by Paul Gallico
8. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow, by Paul Gallico
9. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
10. A Year of Reading, by Elisabeth Ellington & Jane Freimiller, Ph.D.
11. 1001 Books for Every Mood, by Hallie Ephron, Ph.D.
12. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books, by Maureen Corrigan
13. The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, by A.J. Jacobs
14. It Sucked and Then I Cried, by Heather B. Armstrong
15. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
16. The Future Homemakers of America, by Laurie Graham
17. Rise and Shine, by Anna Quindlen
18. No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year, by Virginia Ironside

Phew! That's enough blogging for the night! Time to start reading!

Kitten's 2009 2nds Challenge

This challenge came from J. Kaye's Book Blog as well. The neat thing about this challenge is that it doesn't just have to be the second book in a series; it can be "a book from an author you've read just one book from before."

Here is the list, updated as of May 25, 2009:

1. New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer
2. Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
3. Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott
4. Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
5. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York, by Paul Gallico
6. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
7. The First Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
8. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
9. Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris

As with the prior two challenges, there will be a button on the sidebar, which you can click on whenever you want an update. I'll link my reviews back to this original post, so you can click on the review once I've posted it.

Phew! Is there anything I've left out?

Maybe I should do the library challenge...

Kitten's 2009 1st in a Series Book Challenge


While I was over at J. Kaye's signing up for the 100+ book challenge, I found this one. I figured, since I've got Twilight on my reading list, that I may as well sign up for the "1st in a Series Challenge".

Here's the latest list, updated as of July 20, 2009:

1. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
2. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, by Paul Gallico
3. The Second Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
4. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
5. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

This counts towards my 100+ books...which, now that I've written this down, I need to go update my 100+ list! Later gators!

Kitten's 2009 100+ Reading Challenge


I found this over at J. Kaye's Book Blog, through one of the other blogs that I follow, Reading Adventures. I thought I'd sign up; after all, I need to remind myself why I titled this blog "The BOOKKITTEN."

Here is the original post, where J. Kaye explains the guidelines for this challenge. It includes a Mr. Linky if you want to participate.

So here's my list, which will be updated throughout the year. As I finish my books, I will post a link to the post where I review them. The reviews will also link directly back to this page.

And here's the list so far (last updated July 31, 2009):
31. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
32. Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
33. Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott
34. Jo's Boys, by Louisa May Alcott
35. Holly's Inbox, by Holly Denham
36. Beginner's Greek, by James Collins
38. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
39. Rise and Shine, by Anna Quindlen
40. New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer
41. The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, by George Howe Colt
42. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
43. Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed and Found Items from Around the World, edited by Davy Rothbart
44. No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year, by Virginia Ironside
45. Sky Burial, by Xinran
46. The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama
47. All We Ever Wanted was Everything, by Janelle Brown

P.S. If you want to catch up on the latest additions to the list, all you have to do is go to my right sidebar and click on the button that says, "Kitten's 2009 100+ Reading Challenge." The button has the same illustration that this post has. Wish me luck!