Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fare thee well

It's been nearly six months since I updated this blog, which means that I have been busy. Additionally, I haven't felt the pull of the blog much since my last entry. There have been times where I have mentally composed a blog post, but never actually took the time to sit down and write one.

Also, I feel that I've outgrown the whole "Bookkitten" personality. Don't worry, I still read a lot, but I don't feel the need to write any reviews. I read some of my previous reviews, and feel as if I gave too much away in my summaries and critiques. Eventually, it got hard to keep up with all of the books and reviews I tried to compose.

My best posts, to be honest, were the ones about my daily life. I liked those better than many of the book reviews I've written. For that reason, I'm going to keep this blog online, so that I can share them with people.

I've made some real-life friends in blogging, and I don't wish to let those go. For that reason, I am going to keep my E-mail address and Twitter handle. If you want to keep in touch, here's how you can reach me:

E-mail: thebookkitten@gmail.com
Twitter: @TheBookkitten

And in case you're wondering...yes, I do have a Facebook page. However, it is under my real name. Some of you out there are already friends with me on FB, and know my true identity. If you're interested at all, please send me an E-mail, and I'll be happy to respond to your request.

As for what the future holds, I'm not totally ruling out a permanent sabbatical from blogging. I may return to the Internets, but under a different blog name and personality.

In the meantime, I hope you all are well. Thank you for supporting me for the past four years; you've all helped me get through some difficult times and I appreciate that tremendously.

Fare thee well,
The Bookkitten

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bracketology

If there's one sport that could come close to dethroning baseball as our national pastime, it's basketball. And 'round this time of year, there's one sporting event that is ever so sacred in the minds of many Americans, one that millions jump on the bandwagon for.

No, kittens, I am not referring to the NCAA college basketball tournament itself.

I'm talking about these:

Behold, the almighty brackets. The grid so ingrained in the lives of so many sports fans (as well as wanna-be sports fans) that it itself has become a pop culture icon. Witness how many magazines and blogs have used said brackets to rank its "best-of" lists. Entertainment Weekly, for instance, recently had a bracket of the most popular television mascots of all time (which, by the way, was won by Flo the Progressive Lady).

It's not so much the teams that get that coveted nod on Selection Sunday that interests me, but rather, how and why people are so emotionally, and in many cases, financially, invested in the brackets themselves. Bracketology attracts all kinds, from the most hard core basketball fanatics who know how to properly spell coach Mike Krzyzewski's last name, to those who only know how to dribble a basketball, to those who claim ignorance yet, around March Madness, proclaim themselves to be the nation's foremost expert on the tournament.

I personally fall somewhere in the middle of not being totally ignorant, yet not quite understanding the whole thing. As a Connecticut resident, it is my birthright to follow the UCONN Huskies. Now, if you're new to the whole NCAA tournament, you may be thinking, "Connecticut? That tiny state next to New York? Land of Steady Habits? Basketball powerhouse?" Well, only for the last 20 years or so. In 1990, Jim Calhoun coached the Huskies to their first Big East title, and then took the team to the Elite Eight. We lost that game to Duke, starting a very long standing rivalry that culminated when we won the national title over Duke in 1999. And let's not forget Geno Auriemma, the Huskies coach who almost singlehandedly put women's basketball in the national forefront. His teams have gone undefeated for several seasons in a row and are known for winning back-to-back-to-back national titles.

I know some of the different basketball terms used: center, forward, point guard, half-court shot, full-court press, three-point line, shot clock, foul shooting. Just don't ask me what they mean, or who stands where on the floor.

Yet every year, I find myself drawn to the office pool, dutifully entering and paying my fee, and filling out those brackets. I have engaged in bracketology every year for the past decade. For the first few years, I found myself either in last place or third from last. But my fortunes gradually changed. For two years running, I was at the top of the leaderboard after the first and second rounds of play. But then I fell out of the running after the Sweet Sixteen. And I actually placed third in two separate tournaments--however, this was only after all of our picks for the Final Four didn't make it. (Can we say George Mason University in 2006, kids?)

So what exactly is the draw of the NCAA brackets? Do people use it as a form of escape? A get rich quick scheme? A chance to relive their college days? Whatever your level of participation may be kittens, I wish you all luck, and...GO HUSKIES!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Back from hibernation--or, a cat nap, if you will

Good evening, kittens--

I suppose it's time for me to update the ol' blog, since I haven't done so in over a month. How many of you are still out there? (Taps gently on computer screen). Helloooo?

When I was in college, I had this fantasy of those career women with a Starbucks in one hand and a Blackberry in another. Power shoes, Bluetooth in ear, the whole nine yards.

Well...guess what...

I'm now one of those career women.

I've been working in my field for ten years now, and I don't know when or how it happened, but all of a sudden, I went from rookie to veteran overnight. It's been both exciting and scary. It's interfered with my blogging, and especially my reading. I've been lucky to post a few random entries, mostly about the weather, and one book review.

And I've been watching and reading a LOT of news coverage. Collective bargaining, public sector workers at odds with local government, politics, and now...the earthquake in Japan. We've had what, three major earthquakes in the world in the last thirteen months? (Haiti, Chile, and now Japan). I've been steadfastly avoiding any story having to do with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

Lastly, I've been a lurker. Well, mostly a lurker. I've commented here and there on random blog entries. But I haven't posted on my own blog, mainly because my life has been this:

"Wake up. Work. Come home. Eat dinner. Go to bed. Oh, and a few meetings thrown in on a daily basis for good measure."

I have very few leisure events planned for the future, save for a weekend trip to the city with Mama Cat and Sister Kitten. But compared to last year, my social calendar is very empty. No weddings or baby showers/bridal showers. No fun concerts. No spontaneous road trips.

So that's where I am right now. I guess this time is teaching me how to live in the present, and not anticipate the future too much. And at this present time, I think I'll go have myself a glass of wine. :)

Hope to be posting regularly again soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book review: Curly Girl: The Handbook, Expanded Second Edition, by Lorraine Massey with Michele Bender

I was incredibly psyched when a representative from Workman Publishing contacted me to review an advance copy of the second edition of Curly Girl. I devoured the first edition and it became my Bible for curly hair care. I read this expanded edition more thoroughly than I did the first--and allow me to say, it's much more comprehensive, detailed, and illustrated than its predecessor.

Allow me to compare some of the differences:
  • In the first edition, author Lorraine Massey wrote about three types of curly hair: corkscrew, botticelli, and wavy. In this new edition, there are seven types of curly hair. I appreciated this because I always felt that I fell between corkscrew and botticelli. Massey includes more detailed descriptions of each type of curl, and, better yet, photographs of each one.
  • There is a DVD included with this edition. In the DVD, you can watch how one cleans and cares for curly hair, depending on your curl type. This is the portion of the book that I appreciated the most, because I could see firsthand how I should specifically care for my hair, as opposed to just reading the text and deciphering photographs.
  • Massey has added several new chapters to the book. My two favorite ones were about curly-haired men and "chemo curls." I was grateful that she included the chapter about guys and curls, because when it comes to hair care, the male population is sorely neglected. And Massey tackles the sensitive topic of losing hair from chemo treatments, then growing it back, with gentleness and aplomb.
I learned all about proper curly hair care from the first edition of Curly Girl. But with the second edition, I learned that I was still doing some things wrong, particularly when it came to washing my hair. I have heeded Massey's advice by using only sulfate-free products, but when it came to wetting my hair in the shower, and then applying the gel apr├Ęs-shampooing, I was not doing it correctly. Thanks to the DVD, I was able to learn the proper techniques.

According to one of the statistics in this book, over 65 percent of the population has some form of curly hair. One would never know it, though, since there are so many who invest in products to straighten, blow dry, and get rid of their curls. I must confess that I was one of those girls. But I am here, as a ringleted sista, to implore you to embrace your hair's natural texture. My curls are a part of who I am; it's one of my personal fashion signatures. It took me awhile to get there, but thanks in part to Curly Girl, I was able to do so. I am grateful for Lorraine Massey's help, and I hope that she helps you in the same way that she did for me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm hoping not to blog about winter, the weather, or cabin fever...

...so let me see what I can write about...

...soooo...

...hey blogosphere, how ya doin'?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ice day today

Today was my third day off in a week due to the winter weather. Just came back into the house from chiseling off my car. It wasn't as bad as I anticipated, but I am glad I didn't wait till morning, right before I left for work.

I must admit, the ice-covered trees looked beautiful in the street lamps. There's this crabapple tree outside my living room window that looks especially spectacular. I would have taken pictures if it weren't so dark outside.

Apparently we're due for some more of the white stuff on Friday. Not sure how much; cable's out and I didn't get to see the local news this evening. I'm hoping it comes back before bed, so I can make plans for the weekend. Sister Kitten and I are supposed to go out to dinner Friday night, but more importantly, Mama Cat's having surgery. She's getting a freckle removed; the dermatologist wants to take it off as a precautionary measure.

I'm glad the temp's above freezing right now--33 degrees. I know, it's only one degree above freezing, but that's fine with me!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beauty tips for hard times: Coffee face and body scrub

During my hiatus I got into learning how to make homemade natural face and body treatments. I'd like to share with you one such treatment, which I got from the website eHow. (Video link to follow).

This recipe is for a face and body scrub made from three simple ingredients:
  • coffee grounds (organic is best)
  • cocoa powder (non-organic works, but if you've got the organic kind, use it)
  • extra virgin olive oil.
Here's how you make it:
  1. If you're making this scrub for your face, you will need two tablespoons of used coffee grounds. If you have a Keurig, this is about the amount of coffee grounds you will find in a K-Cup. If you're making this as a body scrub, you will need to use about four or five K-Cups, or whatever you use to make a pot of coffee.
  2. Use one or two tablespoons of cocoa for every two tablespoons of coffee grounds. Mix the coffee grounds and cocoa powder together till the mixture is chunky.
  3. Stir in enough olive oil to form a smooth paste. Don't make it too liquidy. (Unfortunately I don't have a specific measurement here; I just eyeball this until it looks okay).
Now, when you use this scrub on your face, make sure that it is freshly cleansed. If you're using this as a body scrub, you can use it right before you shower. (But don't use it right after you have been to the gym.)

I strongly advise you to use this scrub in the bathtub, before you start using the shower. If you use this outside of your bathtub it will take you forever to clean your bathroom. Trust me, I speak, unfortunately, from experience.

Stqart sing the scrub on your body. Really focus on the really dry areas, like your elbows, knees, and feet. Give your thighs a really good massage; caffeine is often used to treat cellulite, and is known to detoxify the skin. Finish up by scrubbing your face. Scrub your face more gently than your body, since the skin on your face is a little more delicate.

I need to add that this scrub smells absolutely decadent, like a mocha cake that has just come out of the oven to cool. Whatever you do, don't eat the scrub. Coffee grounds have a nasty texture in the mouth, as anyone who has sipped some leftover grounds at the bottom of a cup can attest.

Once you have scrubbed everything, turn on the shower and rinse! You will be brewing coffee as you rinse; make sure you rinse everything off, including in the bathtub. You don't want coffee stains in the tub!

Finally, follow up your scrub with some soap or body wash, to rinse the excess coffee off of your skin. This step may be optional for some, since the olive oil leaves a nice little moisture barrier on the skin.

Here's the link to the eHow video, if you would like to have that. If you're not familiar with eHow, think of it as YouTube full of instructional videos. The quality on many of these videos varies; this one is one of the best ones.

Try out the scrub and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shari Lewis, Lamb Chop, and Kitten

Every now and then I get YouTube obsessions over the most random topics. My latest one started last week when I saw a report about ventriloquist Terry Fator on CBS News Sunday Morning:



My parents saw him in Vegas about a year ago and they loved him. It's easy to see why; he's amazingly good.

During that report, as you may have seen, there was a very small segment featuring Shari Lewis, Lamb Chop, and Charlie Horse. They were a big part of my childhood, through the old PBS show Lamb Chop's Play Along. I was fresh out of college when she died, and I felt the same sort of sadness that I experienced when Jim Henson died years earlier: It felt like a member of the family had left me. And then I thought, "Well, how is Lamb Chop going to go on? And Hush Puppy? And Charlie Horse?" (Personally, as much as I loved Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy was my favorite. I didn't care much for Charlie Horse).

Thankfully, Shari's daughter, Mallory, has taken over the act, and is now voicing Lamb Chop. And Lamb Chop sounds exactly like Shari's version. I honestly can't tell the difference.

Judge for yourself. Here's one of the many YouTube clips featuring Shari and Lamb Chop. I watch this particular clip and wonder why children's television these days can't be as good as it was back during my childhood. Shari doesn't talk down to the kids, and she's very creative in dealing with Lamb Chop:



And for comparison's sake, here's a segment with Mallory and Lamb Chop:


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home again today

...and I still hear snowblowers around my condo complex, next door, and plows on the roads. Apparently they're still getting rid of the snow at work, which is why I'm home again today.

It's nice to know, though, that the main roads are clear again, so I can at least leave the house if I wanted to.

But those huge piles of laundry aren't going away any time soon...hmmm...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow day

The entire state of Connecticut is closed. Or so it seems. There's no one on the roads, and the city police just called every resident, via automated message, to advise everyone to stay off the roads. Our governor told everyone the same thing, and he's already had his fourth or fifth press conference about the storm today.

My neighbors are comparing this to the blizzard of '78. I was two years old at the time, so obviously, I have no memory of it.

But there are at least two feet of snow outside. The snowbanks from the plows and snowblowers come up to at least my waist.

I'm taking a temporary break from digging my car out of its parking space. I need to defrost a bit.

And then I'll go outside again...because, in all likelihood, I've gotta go back to work tomorrow.

And on a random note...is that Eric Roberts on The Young and the Restless? (I don't ever watch soaps, but I haven't had the chance to change the channel from the local noontime news yet).

Friday, January 7, 2011

A snowy Friday night at Bookkitten headquarters

...and I'm kinda bored. I figured I'd best explain in further detail the reasons for my sporadic hiatus. Basically, like I said in my last post, I had overbooked myself. Every weekend since mid-August, I had something to do for church, work, or social activities. And by December, everything caught up to me. After Thanksgiving, I felt run down. Exhausted. Sick. I didn't even put up Christmas decorations or send out cards. Holiday shopping became more of a chore than usual.

So, I decided to take charge. During my vacation the last week in December, I didn't do much. I didn't even attend a New Year's Eve party. I went over to Sister Kitten's, and we both were asleep after 12:30 AM. I rested, relaxed, and recuperated.

And my resolution this year is to take more time for me. For instance, I'm going to take the month off from social activities. I've been invited to a few outings with friends, but I'm not attending those. It's not that I don't want to see them; I do. But right now I feel it's best for me to spend some time alone--clean my house, organize things, and just decompress.

Wintertime is the perfect opportunity to do just that. The snowy weather, the cold, the wind--all pose perfect times to stay home by the fire, or in my case, the radiator. And as I'm typing this, I'm starting to realize what a friend of mine always says about winter being a time of rebirth--everything is at rest, getting ready for a season of rebirth and regrowth in the spring.

So I guess that's what I'm doing right now--but rather than "rebirthing" myself into a whole new person, I'm using the winter as a time of reflection.

So right now, I'm sitting by the television, with my laptop, watching the weathermen hype this latest storm (which took awhile to get to my little city). One cat is sleeping peacefully at my side, and the other just joined me at my left. I'm going to get up to go to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine, maybe two. A bubble bath may be in my future. And I've got flannel sheets and a down comforter on my bed. Life is good.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Already looking forward to 11.11.11

If we're all jazzed up for today, 1.1.11, imagine the celebrations we'll all have 11.11.11!!! Sorry I haven't been around, kittens...I want to assure you that nothing bad occurred, it's just that I overbooked myself (no pun intended) during the last quarter of 2010. (Man, that last sentence was a modern day punctuation/run-on horror). Anyhoo, hope you're all happy and safe on this New Year's Day. I will try to get back to blogging as soon as I have the time and the mojo...the well has certainly run dry lately. In the meantime, all the best for 2011 and hope to chat with y'all soon!