6.28.2013

My name in lights...

Well, not lights exactly, but I do have a blog post devoted to me, and that's kind of fun.

A couple years ago, I took up knitting.  I bought a kit with a DVD, and between that, YouTube videos, and books and patterns that I picked up, I figured it all out.  A few months ago, I tried to do the same thing with crochet, but it wasn't as easy for me.  I'm not sure if it had something to do with me being left-handed, but holding the yarn and crochet hook just felt awkward and I couldn't get it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that a local yarn shop was holding a beginner's crochet class, and I signed up.  I figured it might help to see someone else crocheting and have them guide me in how to do it.

The class was a lot of fun, and I've been crocheting little things ever since.  One of the projects from class was Jackie the Cow, a pattern by Fresh Stitches.  Although we didn't have enough time in the class to get into the details of Jackie the Cow, I was determined to figure it out and finish the project.

When I did, I sent an email with a picture to the instructor, Jennifer Raymond, to let her know I'd completed it.  She, in turn, asked if she could feature it on her blog, and ta-da, here's the post about my Jackie the Cow.

As it turns out, Jackie turned out to be very photogenic.  When I look at her sitting on my side table right now though, I feel like she'd fit right in on the Island of Misfit Toys.


Still, for a first try, I'm pretty pleased. 


6.18.2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions.

This was my second John Green book, and I'm a huge fan. The story is about Miles who leaves his home in Florida, full of hope, to attend boarding school in Alabama. At school he becomes friends with a cast of characters, including Alaska Young. I don't want to say too much more, but just like The Fault in Our Stars, this is a young adult book with some heavy themes. John Green handles them so eloquently and draws you right in. This one will be on my mind for a while.



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The Voice Finale (Spoilers....do I really need to say that?)

Thoughts about tonight's show:

The bit about Blake's training methods being just as good as Usher's was funny.  Catching the notes with chopsticks truly made me laugh out loud.

Nelly!  He pefformed "Cruise" with Florida Georgia Line.  I've had a crush on him ever since he stopped wearing the bandana and grillz.  So cute.  (I could do without his 3/4"-square earrings, though.)

LOVED the group performance with Judith Hill, Sasha Allen, Karina Iglesias and C├íthia, singing En Vogue's "You're Never Gonna Get It."  All of them are so great.  Judith should be in the top 3, but alas....   (Am I the only one who noticed all the girls of color were in this group, and the girls not of color sang earlier with Danielle?)  (These are things I notice...I can't help it.)

6.17.2013

The Voice final performance night

Some random thoughts on tonight's final performance show:

The Swon Bros have a new fan tonight.  I appreciated that they did "I Can't Tell You Why" and a reprise of "Danny's Song."  It wasn't all country, all the time and I do think they're really talented and have the best personalities of the final contestants.

It was just a tiny bit creepy to see Blake singing the duet with Danielle about falling in love.  She's 16! Update:  On Hoda & Kathie Lee today (Tuesday) they said the interwebs were buzzing about this too.  I didn't see that, but I'm glad to know I wasn't alone.

I enjoyed the performance by the judges of "With a Little Help from My Friends" at the beginning of the show, but didn't understand Shakira's sexy dance toward the end.  That doesn't quite go with the lyrics.  Was she trying to channel Xtina?

Mr. Smooth, aka, Usher, turned out to be a great coach.  I love seeing the pride in his eyes when Michelle performs. I love how he even admitted that when he was fighting Adam to have Michelle on his team, he realized "cool" wasn't going to work, and he had to humble himself and let her know he was the right coach for her.  It worked!

Nice group performance with all the contestants from this season.

I decided not to vote tonight because I'm not passionate about any of the acts.  I am slightly pulling for Michelle though because it'd be nice to see Usher get a win under his belt.  I love Blake, but he's already won enough times.  But, like I said, I'm not passionate about it and won't mind whomever wins.  Until tomorrow...


6.13.2013

Ooh, another book list!

The folks over at Book Riot have come up with another list of 100 books...I really like the theme of this one:  From Zero to Well Read in 100 Books.  The premise is:  say someone had never read any literature and wanted to be well-read. What should they read? And how many books would it take them to get close?

I like this list because I've read a lot more of the books on it than I have on lists about that tout The Greatest Literature. Ever

The author's assumptions in creating the list are:

1.  That the reader is an alive American who reads English.
2.  “Well-read” for this person then has a number of connotations: a familiarity with the monuments of Western literature, an at least passing interest in the high-points of world literature, a willingness to experience a breadth of genres, a special interest in the work of one’s immediate culture, a desire to share in the same reading experiences of many other readers, and an emphasis on the writing of the current day.

With that said, of the 100 books listed, I've read what's included below.  Using the code my friend Erika used on the earlier post about the "greatest books," books read in school (college or high school) are marked with an asterisk * and may or may not mean my understanding of said book is poor.  If I re-read that book on my own, it's marked with a +.  Books with no markings at all means I read it on my own.  I've only included books I read completely...there are many on the list that I started but never finished.  There are also many I won, but haven't gotten to.

(Note that the original list was presented in alphabetical order.)


1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain*
11. Beloved by Toni Morrison* (even with lots of discussion in class, this was still difficult...I should try again)
15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer* (?? I'm not sure if we read the whole thing in school.)
21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller*
35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury*36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I'm SO happy this is on the list!)
42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens*
46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*+ (I can't remember if I read this in school, but let's say I did.  I've read it a couple times since I've been out of school.)
49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
58. The Iliad by Homer*
63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
73. The Odyssey by Homer*
78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare*
82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne*
83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
85. The Stand by Stephen King86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway*
91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
99. 1984 by George Orwell* (time to read this again, it seems)
100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

This list leaves me feeling much better about myself than the list of the "greatest" novels.  I've read 32 of these, versus only 10 on the other list.  (11, really, because I've since read Jane Eyre.) There's a lot of discussion (and arguments) at Book Riot about 50 Shades being included, but it does meet the criteria of sharing a reading experience with many other readers.

Anyone else want to share?

6.10.2013

Only the Truth by Pat Brown

Only the TruthOnly the Truth by Pat Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'd really like to give this 3 1/2 stars. This is the story about Billy Ray, an illiterate man who leads a simple life with Big Dog. (His character reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump.) One day he comes across a young girl near the train tracks who asks to go home with him. They live together in happiness for a couple of years until an old man moves in across the street, and then trouble and mystery ensues.

It's a compelling read that kept me hooked to the end. However, I had a few issues with the ending. It was like an episode of Law & Order that wraps up nicely after an hour. There was also a big plot point that was mentioned repeatedly throughout the book, yet in the tidy ending, this one point was never resolved. That was a little frustrating.

All in all, it was an enjoyable, quick read. I'd still recommend it.


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6.07.2013

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked UsSalt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a really interesting history of the processed food industry. I've been reading it for a while and I think about it all the time when I'm at the grocery store or convenience stores. Basically, I was left feeling manipulated, not just by the food companies, but also by our government that's supposed to be safeguarding our health.

Here are just two quotes (of many) that stood out for me and pretty much summarize my thoughts on the whole thing:

The most crucial point to know is that there is nothing accidental in the grocery store. All of this is done with a purpose.

It is, perhaps, not unreasonable...to think of the grocery store as a battlefield, dotted with landmines itching to go off. ...[I]f you accept this, then it becomes all the more apparent why the food industry is so reliant on salt, sugar, and fat. They are cheap. They are interchangeable. They are huge, powerful forces of nature in unnatural food. And yet, for us, knowing all this can be empowering. You can walk through the grocery store and, while the brightly colored packaging and empty promises are still mesmerizing, you can see the products for what they are.


And

[The author] found that many of the executives I talked to go out of their way to avoid their own products. It got so that I couldn't resist asking everyone I spoke with about their eating habits: John Ruff from Kraft, who gave up sweet drinks and fatty snacks...; Bob Lin from Frito-Lay, who avoids potato chips, along with most everything that is heavily processed; Howard Moskowitz, the soft drink engineering whiz who declines to drink soda. Geoffrey Bible not only stopped smoking his company's cigarettes; when he oversaw Kraft, he works just as hard at avoiding anything that would send his cholesterol surging.

Before reading this book, I had already significantly decreased the amount of processed food I was eating, but this book has compelled me to work even harder at it. I definitely recommend everyone check this one out.


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6.03.2013

The Voice - Go Sasha! Go Sasha!

Like many others, I was highly pissed last week when both Judith Hill & Sarah Simmons were kicked off The Voice.  In a conversation on my friend Kerri's FB page, I mentioned that I think voters figured those two were okay, and got complacent and didn't vote.  Heck, I didn't vote either.  Plus, there are SO many country artists this year and someone else pointed out that the country fans are voting in force.  No doubt.  I also mentioned that even though I'm not a country fan, I do like all of Blake's team--they're very talented.

However....

After watching tonight's show, I'm completely over the country thing.  I voted in force for Sasha, who worked it out on both of her songs...she did Aretha's "Ain't No Way" and a rocked-out version of Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats."  (Smart move on Shakira's part to choose ANOTHER country song to show Sasha can hang with the rest of them.  But, Sasha truly made that song her own.  I watched the performance five times!)  I also voted for Michelle on Usher's team tonight.  I want her and Sasha to be there at the end.  If it's an all-country finale, I probably won't watch.  So, I tried to do my part so that doesn't happen.

We shall see.