Thursday, July 29, 2010

Refried Bean Soup

I have been trying to use up my cupboard/fridge ingredients the last couple of weeks and I knew I had a lot of Mexican food related items but no meat. No worries. Refried Bean Soup to the rescue!!

First in a large skillet, I sprayed cooking spray on it and I threw in some garlic, onion, 1 whole green pepper and a big scooping of frozen corn. Next time I would use more onion (didn't have any more ha), perhaps more corn and I would add the teeniest bit of EVOO.

After, I let that go for a bit I added in a can of HOT Rotel sauce. The hot means HOT so if you do not like HOT then you should probably get the mild stuff.

After that settled in for a bit, I put in ONE can of chicken broth. I stirred and let that sit for a bit.

Then I threw in the can of chili beans that I had.

After I stirred the beans in I dumped the 2 cans of refried beans. Make SURE to stir and separate the refried beans. Otherwise it will be/stay clumpy.

Let it simmer for about 20-40 minutes or however long you can stand to not eat it!

This is a bad photo of my bowl. It was very thick, spicy and very very filling. It would make an excellent winter meal. I topped mine off with fresh tomatoes from the garden, some tortilla chips, a dab of sour cream and a little cheese.

It probably made about 4-6 maybe 8 servings.
My husband of course offered up that chicken would be great in there! ;)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Secret Garden - Discussion (July Group Read)

Poll is up for July on the side!

One thing I really appreciate about the books we decide on and read as a group, are that some of the books are ones that I would probably not pick up if it wasn't for that being the selection. The Secret Garden is one of them. When I was younger, I thought it sounded blah and boring and as an adult, I figured I had already passed the time when reading it was necessary. It was interesting reading it finally and seeing what it was about, and to see if my younger self was correct!

Introduction to The Secret Garden (taken from penguin)

Mary Lennox has no one left in the world when she arrives at Misselthwaite Manor, her mysterious uncle's enormous, drafty mansion looming on the edge of the moors. A cholera epidemic has ravaged the Indian village in which she was born, killing both her parents and the "Ayah," or Indian servant, who cared for her. Not that being alone is new to her. Her socialite mother had no time between parties for Mary, and her father was both too ill and too occupied by his work to raise his daughter. Not long after coming to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, Mary discovers a walled garden, neglected and in ruins. Soon she meets her servant Martha's brother Dickon, a robust country boy nourished both by his mother's love and by the natural surroundings of the countryside; and her tyrannical cousin Colin, whose mother died giving birth to him. So traumatized was Mr. Craven by the sudden death of his beloved wife that he effectively abandoned the infant Colin and buried the keys to the garden that she adored. His son has grown into a self-loathing hypochondriacal child whose tantrums strike fear into the hearts of servants. The lush garden is now overgrown and all are forbidden to enter it. No one can even remember where the door is, until a robin leads Mary to its hidden key. It is in the "secret garden," and with the help of Dickon, that Mary and Colin find the path to physical and spiritual health. Along the way the three children discover that in their imaginations—called "magic" by Colin—is the power to transform lives.

While The Secret Garden is an exquisite children's story, its timeless themes, precisely drawn characters, and taut narrative make it worthy of the serious discussion due any classic novel. It is a tale of redemption, rich with biblical symbolism and mythical associations. In Mr. Craven, his stern brother, and Mary's parents, readers have found evidence of a fallen adult world. Consequently, Mary and Colin are physically and spiritually malnourished, and, in the words of Burnett, down-right rude. Mr. Craven's redemption at the hands of Colin and his niece ensures the return of good rule to the ancient, gloomy house and of health to the children. Dickon—constantly surrounded by fox, lamb, and bird—evokes St. Francis or Pan. His mother, Mrs. Sowerby, a plain-speaking Yorkshire woman, resembles the archetypal earth mother and embodies an ancient folk wisdom seen neither in Craven nor in Mary's deceased parents. Invoking traditional nature myths, Burnett aligns the spiritual growth of Mary and Colin with the seasons. Mary arrives at Misselthwaite in winter a dour and unhealthy child. She begins her gardening in the spring, and as crocuses and daffodils push up through the warming earth, her body begins to bloom and her manners to soften. Summer sees the complete regeneration of both Mary and Colin, and by the time Craven returns to Misselthwaite in autumn, the children are harvesting the fruits of their labor—health and happiness. Finally, the overarching symbol of the book is the secret garden, a lost paradise of love and happiness—a version, perhaps, of the Garden of Eden, now reclaimed and rejuvenated.

Questions (also from penguin)
1. Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is "as tyrannical as a pig" and that Colin is the "worst young newt as ever was." Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the "fallen world of adults"?

2. Could Mary and Colin have found the path to spiritual and physical healing without Dickon?

3. In its theme of the mind's potential for regeneration, The Secret Garden has often been considered a tribute to the "New Thought" movement, which included ideas of Christian Science and Theosophy. How do you feel about this? Do you think that the "magic" employed by Colin was as crucial to his healing as was communion with nature and other living things?

4. What did you think of the book?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fly Away Home

Vote for August's Group Read.. Poll is up tomorrow!!!

Amazon's Description: Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .

When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.

Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.

After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.

Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity, Fly Away Home is an unforgettable story of a mother and two
daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.

I was very excited to read this, I thought political scandal, drug addict daughter, daughter cheating, mom growing some balls, how can this not be great? Well, it just felt kind of blah to me. Which made me sad because I had been so excited to check this one out. Sylvie (love that name) ran away to her family home and started cooking and rekindled a friendship with an older summer flame. Kind of tame, and I understand that there is soo much to try to figure out when your partner of over 30 years cheats on you. But she just wasn't a character that I could really like.

I got pissed that she had put her husband first and let her daughters kind of glide through life and become people they thought their parents wanted but just ended up messed up. Lizzie was probably the only decent character, but even for a 24 year old she seemed awfully naive and stupid.

"Sylvie liked to think that her younger daughter had said please and thank you to her dealer." -pg. 16

I did connect with Diana and understood where she was coming from, but she still needed to leave her marriage long before she did and in a little better manner than she did.

I think the one thing Sylvie did/say in this book that I could really get behind was..

"Sometimes," she began. "Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you, the thing you think you can't survive... it's the thing that makes you better than you used to be." pg. 368

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Secret Garden

Don't forget to vote for a book to read in August!

Mary Lennox is a spoiled rotten young girl. Her parents pay her no mind and she is raised by her Ayah. She is so mean and ugly that no one even notices when an illness strikes the household and those who did not die flee. She is found and sent away to live with an uncle in Yorkshire.

She is used to having everyone dote on her and give to her every whims. It doesn't take long in her new home to realize that no one cares and she better take care of herself. She starts wandering around the house and meets Ben Weatherstaff an ornery old man who talks to her and introduces her to a peculiar robin who likes to hang around.

Ben (also Martha, the sweet girl working at the house) tell Mary about 'the secret garden' that has been locked up since the 'Lady' died and Mr. Craven locked the door and buried the key. Mary is determined to find the key and with the help from her robin friend, she does.

The garden helps Mary gain her strength and confidence, as well as losing her yellow color. She gets the magical Dickons to come and help her and they weed and plant to make the garden marvelous again.

Mary's new housing also holds another secret. She sometimes hears crying down a corridor that she is not allowed to explore, but one night during a storm she does. Behind a tapestry door she meets Colin. Master Colin is the son of Mr. Craven and the lady who died 10 years ago. He is an 'invalid' and sickly. He never goes outside, even more spoiled than Mary and quite unpleasant. In their first meeting, he tells Mary multiple times that he is going to die. However, Colin is bewitched by Mary and is determined to find the secret garden and enjoy it too.

With Mary and Dickon's help Colin conjures up the strength and bravery to venture out in his wheelchair to see this magical garden. In the garden, Colin finds the magic to overcome his illnesses and fear to walk and play like a real boy.

This book has 2 spoiled rotten characters who both were abandoned by their parents and allowed to become very wretched. Both were changed by the garden and by Dickon's the animal and boy charmer as he is called. In a time when both Colin and Mary needed something, they found each other and encouraged each other.

It was a cute story, but it put me to sleep more than one night and was a tad boring. It was one of those stories where I skipped parts (especially parts describing the garden). I needed a bit more action. And the last chapter of the book made me roll my eyes, but indeed it was a sweet story.

I did have problems with the fact that when talking about the magic, Ben Weatherstaff mentions that if Bess (whatever her last name is) would have encouraged her husband positively rather than calling him a drunk she would have saved herself a beating. NOT COOL at all. Especially to have in a CHILDREN'S BOOK. What a wonderful message. :::eye roll:::

Is this the first time you read The Secret Garden or did you read it as a child? What servant did you most enjoy?

(Did anyone else notice that Mary did NOT like Dr. Craven, mainly because it was SOO obvious he wanted the boy dead so he could have the money? haha)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Update

Wanted to remind people to suggest a book for our August Group Read ! For new followers, every month we suggest books, then I post a poll on the sidebar of the blog and we pick a book and each of us reads it. Sometimes people post guest blogs on the book, I post my review, I post questions.. we do what we want with it.. Any and all are welcome to join!

I also came across some interesting articles/sites/ideas this week that I wanted to share..

Julie, made this SWEET wreath using book pages! I am in awe. Plus, Julie has a sweet blog anyway, you should check it out!

There is now a dating website where you can find people to date by the books they like! What an interesting way to find an online date. My husband and I would never have found each other. He doesn't *gasp* like to read. And I am fine with that. He reads articles non-stop online and I don't tell him but (that's reading!!) haha. I actually laugh when people make comments about how they couldn't date/marry someone who didn't share their love of reading with them. I giggle and judge that they are toooo picky, because REALLY, that's the reason you aren't gonna get serious with a guy? Whatever, enjoy being alone.

And I know I shared this link the other day, but I just think it has loads of interesting book information!

Any, cool/interesting new sites you came across this week? Anything we all need to check out? Leave a link in the comments.

And don't forget to suggest a book for August!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Blogger Hop...

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!


Last night, I just started reading Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner. So far it has made me laugh out loud and really connect with the women in the book.

Leave me a message and tell me what you are reading! I am always looking for new suggestions!

For new and old followers.. don't forget to suggest a book for us to read together in August!

August Group Read Suggestions

It's that time of month again.. Time to decide what we shall read together next month! My review of The Secret Garden (this month's pick) will be posted Monday and discussion questions will be posted at some time next week as well!

Check out this site for some book club ideas if you are stuck!

Or just suggest a book you've been wanting to read and talk about!

Our past books
I See You Everywhere
Pride & Prejudice
The Awakening
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Reader
Firefly Lane
American Wife
House Rules
The Secret Garden

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pray for Silence

Once again, Linda Castillo hooked me in and I stayed up late to finish the second book in her series featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder. The first book in the series Sworn to Silence was released last year and I won it from My review is here.

This time, the town of Painters Mill is horrified with the gruesome murders of an entire Amish family. The Plank family was violently murdered in their own home, which stuns everyone since they didn't have enemies and the Amish are pacificsts.

Kate calls John Tomasetti from the BCI, and her romantic interest, to help her and her very small staff out. With 8 murders and a staff of under 10, they are ill-equipped for a crime like this.

Almost immediately, Kate realizes that sweet beautiful 14 year old Mary, had many secrets, secrets that may have gotten her entire family killed. She seeks out a mystery man that Mary was in love with but whose name was never revealed by Mary.

Kate is thrown into an underground word of porn, snuff videos and hideous acts against women that return her to 17 years ago when she was raped by Daniel Lapp. With Tomasetti's help Kate vows to stop at nothing to find the killers.

Do they stop the killers before the killers strike again? Guess you will have to read to find out! ;)

I really like mystery/thrillers and this was really well-written. The whodunnit is not extremely obvious, you must do some thinking and the questions are not all fully resolved, something I also like, because really do all the secrets come out in real life? Nope. The relationship between Kate and Tomasetti strikes up again and they both continue to face demons that the other one understands and helps the other through. Definitely worth reading if you like a thriller, can handle some dark/gruesome details, and are intrigued by the Amish.

What books have you read about the Amish? Have you ever been to Amish country?

We have a lot of Amish by us and they sell incredible baskets, great cinnamon rolls/cookies and excellent furniture. They are just apart of life around here and it still cracks me up when a college roommate had never seen an Amish person/buggy before. And I had to explain, that yes the Amish sometimes like to go out for ice cream too!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The 9th Judgment

I typically enjoy James Patterson novels. They are quick and are police oriented with some gruesome scenes and an attempt at some romance. I especially enjoy the Alex Cross series and the Women's Murder Club series. However, after finishing The 9th Judgment, I am feeling a little blah.

I know I also wrote that after I read Cross Country by Patterson in January, and I am thinking that maybe he just can't do it for me anymore, or perhaps he should slow down his book mill. Sometimes quality is much better than quantity.

The 9th installment in the Women's Murder Club, has Sargent Lindsey Boxer looking for the WCF killer. This killer is especially brutal because he attacks women and their young children. He takes no money and just shoots them in cold blood. Lindsey must find out who he is and stop him before he terrorizes San Francisco even more.

On another case, she is searching for the Hello Kitty burglar who is stealing jewels from well-to-do peoples bedrooms --- while they are downstairs!

The love life of Lindsey's seems to have stabilized with her and Joe connecting and not fighting for the entire book, but Lindsey wonders at the beginning if Joe is the one for her. Though, I still think that she and Conklin, her partner should get it on.

It was a fairly easy to predict book, entertaining and fast paced. The last 10 pages of the book were a poor intro to the next installment and added stupid drama that if it was going to be included should have had another outcome.

Have you ever gotten into a series and then become completely apathetic towards the books?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

When I was contemplating what to make for dinner last night, I remembered that I had a baggie of green beans in the fridge from a friends garden. My husband isn't a huge fan of green beans but he said he would be up for some green bean casserole. And I thought, yummm I LOOOVE green bean casserole. However, I didn't have all the ingredients. So I improvised.

First, I snapped the green beans and put them in my bowl. I didn't have a ton of green beans obviously, it was like a 1 1/2 cups total. Obviously, using more would have been better but I was using what I have.

Then I rinsed the green beans off, threw some EVOO and garlic in a pan and threw the green beans in. I had them looking while I was preheating the oven @ 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, since I wasn't using a lot of green beans, I poured in 1 can of cream of chicken (wanted to use cream of mushroom but I didn't have any), 1/3 cup of milk, and some pepper. I mixed it all up.

Then I dumped in the green beans and here comes the sad part, I didn't have any French fried onions (GASP) so I used bread crumbs. Obviously, not as tasty, but they worked in a pinch. I poured in around 1/3 cup with the mixture and then put it in the oven for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, I took it out and poured some more bread crumbs on top and decided to throw some mozz cheese on top.

Five minutes later, I pulled it out and here it is. My husband devoured it, but I determined that the french fried onions make he green bean casserole for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chapter 1 of The Secret Garden

This month's book club pick was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was looking around on the internet and found the first chapter and what appears to be the whole rest of the book. I thought I would share the first chapter here and if you are interested in finding the rest of the story online, click here and there you go!


When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another. Her father had held a position under the English Government and had always been busy and ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah, who was made to understand that if she wished to please the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in three months, and when other governesses came to try to fill it they always went away in a shorter time than the first one. So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.

One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her Ayah.

"Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman. "I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me."

The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only more frightened and repeated that it was not possible for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.

There was something mysterious in the air that morning. Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces. But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come. She was actually left alone as the morning went on, and at last she wandered out into the garden and began to play by herself under a tree near the veranda. She pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth, all the time growing more and more angry and muttering to herself the things she would say and the names she would call Saidie when she returned.

"Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs!" she said, because to call a native a pig is the worst insult of all.

She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda with some one. She was with a fair young man and they stood talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he was a very young officer who had just come from England. The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother. She always did this when she had a chance to see her, because the Mem Sahib--Mary used to call her that oftener than anything else--was such a tall, slim, pretty person and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes. All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they were "full of lace." They looked fuller of lace than ever this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all. They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair boy officer's face.

"Is it so very bad? Oh, is it?" Mary heard her say.

"Awfully," the young man answered in a trembling voice. "Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills two weeks ago."

The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.

"Oh, I know I ought!" she cried. "I only stayed to go to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!"

At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot. The wailing grew wilder and wilder. "What is it? What is it?" Mrs. Lennox gasped.

"Some one has died," answered the boy officer. "You did not say it had broken out among your servants."

"I did not know!" the Mem Sahib cried. "Come with me! Come with me!" and she turned and ran into the house.

After that, appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night, and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other servants were dead and others had run away in terror. There was panic on every side, and dying people in all the bungalows.

During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by everyone. Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were ill and that she heard mysterious and tightening sounds. Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty, though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason. The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled. It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was. Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet. The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more for a long time.

Many things happened during the hours in which she slept so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.

When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall. The house was perfectly still. She had never known it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead. There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would know some new stories. Mary had been rather tired of the old ones. She did not cry because her nurse had died. She was not an affectionate child and had never cared much for any one. The noise and hurrying about and wailing over the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry because no one seemed to remember that she was alive. Everyone was too panic-stricken to think of a little girl no one was fond of. When people had the cholera it seemed that they remembered nothing but themselves. But if everyone had got well again, surely some one would remember and come to look for her.

But no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed to grow more and more silent. She heard something rustling on the matting and when she looked down she saw a little snake gliding along and watching her with eyes like jewels. She was not frightened, because he was a harmless little thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry to get out of the room. He slipped under the door as she watched him.

"How queer and quiet it is," she said. "It sounds as if there were no one in the bungalow but me and the snake."

Almost the next minute she heard footsteps in the compound, and then on the veranda. They were men's footsteps, and the men entered the bungalow and talked in low voices. No one went to meet or speak to them and they seemed to open doors and look into rooms. "What desolation!" she heard one voice say. "That pretty, pretty woman! I suppose the child, too. I heard there was a child, though no one ever saw her."

Mary was standing in the middle of the nursery when they opened the door a few minutes later. She looked an ugly, cross little thing and was frowning because she was beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected. The first man who came in was a large officer she had once seen talking to her father. He looked tired and troubled, but when he saw her he was so startled that he almost jumped back.

"Barney!" he cried out. "There is a child here! A child alone! In a place like this! Mercy on us, who is she!"

"I am Mary Lennox," the little girl said, drawing herself up stiffly. She thought the man was very rude to call her father's bungalow "A place like this!" "I fell asleep when everyone had the cholera and I have only just wakened up. Why does nobody come?"

"It is the child no one ever saw!" exclaimed the man, turning to his companions. "She has actually been forgotten!"

"Why was I forgotten?" Mary said, stamping her foot. "Why does nobody come?"

The young man whose name was Barney looked at her very sadly. Mary even thought she saw him wink his eyes as if to wink tears away.

"Poor little kid!" he said. "There is nobody left to come."

It was in that strange and sudden way that Mary found out that she had neither father nor mother left; that they had died and been carried away in the night, and that the few native servants who had not died also had left the house as quickly as they could get out of it, none of them even remembering that there was a Missie Sahib. That was why the place was so quiet. It was true that there was no one in the bungalow but herself and the little rustling snake.

I finished the book yesterday, how are you doing in your reading??

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stove Top Cod

I have been trying to venture out and make new recipes this summer since I am home and when I was at the store last week I bought some wild caught cod that was on sale. I looked around the internets and found this Crumb-Coated Cod recipe on allrecipes and borrowed and made it my own.
First, I took the cod out of the bag and poured some Italian dressing in a bag and put the frozen fish in it. (Next, time I would probably put some Italian dressing in the other liquid mixture.)

Then I put it in a bowl of lukewarm water so that it could thaw. (In the mean time I had the oven preheating to 425 degrees. And water boiling for mac and cheese.

I took the Stove Top out and used all of the stuffing inside. I didn't really crunch it up super well but I made sure that I pressed it into the cod so that it stayed.

In this bowl I put 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons EVOO, some Italian dressing that I sprinkled in and 1 tablespoon melted margarine. (If I made it again, I would most definitely add the Italian Dressing to this part because the cod was really flimsy when it thawed. I would probably exchange it for the water.)

All the stuffing waiting to be used.

Now the cod sits in the liquid mixture and soaks up all the good stuff. My husband SWEARS this was the best thing ever because it took away the fishy taste. I would agree I didn't notice a fishy taste at all and I did smell it when I was opening it.

This is a picture of the cod after I had it dipped and then coated with the stuffing. I made sure to press it in because it was hard to get it to stick. I also made sure the pan I put it in was greased up, which made for an easy clean up. I put some extra stuffing on the top. Yummm... Who doesn't love stuffing?? I put the cod in the 425 preheated oven for 16 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven. Aren't those crusty's looking wonderful. Even better to put on top of your mac & cheese!!!

Speaking of mac & cheese I just used this stuff from the box. Love it. hmmmm...

We had some nice lovely green grapes on the side...

Some sugar snap peas from the garden...

Some cottage cheese...

Some tomato....

My plate.. Nom Nom Nom...
It was a really great meal and pretty simple. My husband even liked it and he usually only likes fried fish!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Winner of Cage of Stars...

is Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields!!!! Congrats Amber!!

email me at pinkflipflops44 at gmail dot com with your address and I will get it out in the mail later this week!

If you are bummed you didn't win and still want to read it you can:

Buy it from Amazon here

Buy it from B&N here

Buy it from Vintage Books here

Watch out for another Summer Giveaway coming soon!!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Wow. I just finished the third and final (unless the 4th manuscript gets finished by someone else) book by Steig Larrson. I'm actually really sad about it ending. I could stand for a few more Lisbeth adventures and to see Berger happy. Ahh well, I guess that just shows you the effects of good writing.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest picks up right after the last book ended. Lisbeth is in the hospital 2 doors down from her father Zalachenko. (Seriously, hospital they try to kill each other and you put them two doors down from each other. I would HOPE the Swedish government in real life would not be so stupid.) They both immediately realize this and both try to work out ways to kill each other. Like father, like daughter. However, Zalachenko has played his last card on the Section and he pays. (Finally.)

This leads to the Section taking a deep dark turn into very very very bad decisions and into very murky water. Where at the beginning, they could have made somewhat of an argument for the existence of the Section, how they deal with Zalachenko and Salander are their downfall and the proof that any government or government agency should always include checks and balances.

There are sooo many details to this story that need the build up of the actual reading to reveal, so I am very hesitant to recap it here.

Excerpt of a Description about the book: A young girl lies in a hospital room, her tattooed body very close to death -- there is a bullet lodged in her brain. Several rooms away is the man who tried to kill her, his own body grievously wounded from axe blows inflicted by the girl he has tried to kill. She is Lisbeth Salander, computer hacker and investigator, and the man is her father, a murderous Russian gangster. If Salander recovers from her injuries, she is more than likely to be put on trial for three murders -- the authorities regard her as a dangerous individual. But she won't see the inside of a courtroom if her father manages to kill her first.

However, my thoughts I will share, but they may not make much sense until you read it yourself. I found this book, as the others, fascinating. First, in the instance of learning about Swedish history that I will admit to not knowing much about, but now am fascinated in reading up on their political parties. It piqued my interest, just as the German political parties piqued my interest back in college. But then again, I am a nerd. I also found it interesting that a man, would take it upon himself to right books about violence against women and not make it into a piece of crap with unbelievable weak women characters. He gives his books incredibly strong and out spoken female characters and I really enjoyed that. I like how the book works out the mystery and while some pieces aren't revealed at the beginning they are as more scenes unfold. Specifically, at one point I was wanting to say, "Um why don't we suggest the obvious and shoot him." But it didn't come out until a scene later. I like when books don't reveal everything at once.

I found his works to be incredibly well researched and relayed. I found it interesting he referred to everyone by their last names, including the women. I also like that even as anti-social as Lisbeth was, she still had people who stood up for the injustices against her. It would have been easier to forget and let things happen, but they fought for her. This last novel was a little slow in parts, but I think that was because of all the Swedish names for things and some explanations of certain things that made me skim them, but the action was amazing.

Basically, the first book started out slow and turned out pretty darn good. The second book was SOOOO amazing and by far my favorite. The third was also very good and made me very sad to have it all over.

So, in conclusion you should probably read all of them. ;)

I do believe I will be watching the movies with the Swedish sub-titles and then the Hollywood versions though unless Archie Panjabi is playing Lisbeth my visions in my head won't be true. ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tell me tell me..

I've recently gotten some new followers and I haven't posted one of these in awhile so I thought, what better way to ease into the week with a little get-to-know- you! I grabbed these questions from

What have you just read?
I finished reading Orphan by John R. Weber last Thursday. Before that I read Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan and The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. All pretty great reads in their one way.

What are you reading now?
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson and I started The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and I have decided to give up on Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster for the current time. It was irritating me.

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?
It will most likely be either 12 Times Blessed by Jacquelyn Mitchard or Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
Probably of Mice and Men or King Lear.

What's one book you always recommend to just about anyone?
American Wife

Do you read books while you eat?

While you bathe?

While you watch movies or tv?
haha yes. I am so guilty of telling my husband to turn something on and then I hide behind a book! But he always gets antsy and needs something to do and so to leave me in peace I need to find something to occupy him!!

While you're on the computer?
I have multi-tasked by doing this before.

When you were little did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Nope, I've always been a great reader and nobody ever made fun of me for reading all the time.

What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down?
hmmm..I don't even remember. I pretty much like my sleep during the school year and haven't read anything late at night yet this summer!

Have any books made you cry?
All the time.

Please answer some questions so I can get to know some of you! Plus, I always like to see what people are reading!! ;)

Don't forget to enter my 3rd summer giveaway!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Orphan - John R. Weber

In the midst of the Depression Homer's life is uprooted with the simple sentence, 'You're an orphan Homer.' This single sentence rocker Homer's world. He couldn't believe that HIS parents were NOT his parents. After everyone goes to bed the night of the big revelation he finds a paper that says his parents can take him out of school after he is 13 and they have to pay him like a hired hand when he is 17 and no longer have to care for him after he turns 18. Homer always assumed he would farm with his dad and eventually take over, but now he is only good enough to be a hired hand?? Homer runs away and decides he needs to find his own parents and find out why they gave him up.

All he knows is he came on an orphan train, his real name and that he came from New York City. After holing up in a barn for a few days he decides that he HAS to go to NYC and find his parents. The only way to do so? Jumping trains of course. He is too scared to go by himself so he convinces Jamie, his best-friend to go with him.

The boys hop on the first train heading east out of their small Iowa farm town. The first time they hop off in Kansas City, is almost their last day on this earth. They are as green to the rails as fresh sailor in the sea. They walk right up to a bull (railroad detective) and the meanest one around at that, to ask directions. He badly beats Homer and almost violates Jamie in the most intimate of ways, until he is stopped by Smilin' Jack. Jack befriends the boys and introduces them to the hoboing life.

The boys have many adventures before they reach NYC and their friends Sam's house. They encounter a whorehouse, rich people unaffected by the Depression and the kindness of many strangers.

When they reach NYC Homer has finally reached the place that holds all of his answers. Will he get them???

I have to say when I started Orphan, I almost didn't even finish it. But I had REQUESTED it, and the premise sounded so good. So I stuck through the first 50 or so pages where I wanted to smack the author and forged on. I am so glad I did. The book completely picks up as soon as the boys hit the rails and it doesn't disappoint anymore. I enjoyed the history that is thrown in and the young adults that this book is aimed at, will be none the wiser.

My problem with the first 50 pages, was the writing. It sounded soooo dumbed down and so simple. Yes the book is for a younger crowd, but it was just ridiculous. When they hit the rails, it is either less noticeable to me because of the action taking place or it indeed did pick up. Almost, like the author became more sure of himself. Regardless, if you are interested in hobos or the Depression era this would be an interesting read for you!

I received this book through the Traveling Arc Tours.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Summer Giveaway # 3!!

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard is a book that I sat down and devoured in one weekend. It hooked me from the first line..

"When I set out to find the killer Scott Early, I didn't realize I was a foolish kid trying to stand in the great shoes of God."

Description: 12-year-old Veronica Swan's idyllic life in a close-knit Mormon community is shattered when her two younger sisters are brutally murdered. Although her parents find the strength to forgive the deranged killer, Scott Early, Veronica cannot do the same. Years later, she sets out alone to avenge her sisters' deaths, dropping her identity and severing ties in the process. As she closes in on Early, Veronica will discover the true meaning of sin and compassion, before she makes a decision that will change her and her family's lives forever.

This really is a great book and it is hardcover!

To enter you must be a follower..

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This will be open until next Tuesday, July 13th and the winner will be announced Wednesday, July 14th!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Accomplice - Eireann Corrigan

Finn and Chloe are next door neighbors and best-friends. It's the fall of their junior year and the guidance lady has them convinced they won't have that ONE unique thing that will get them into college. They have spent so much time being well-rounded they don't have anything unique. Until, Chloe dreams up a plan where she can disappear and Finn can find her. Just like that Margaret Cook girl who was on alll the magazines and on the tv shows. She was gone for a YEAR and then she just showed up at her parents door. This will put them both on the map and guarantee them a spot at a college and the limelight all on the them.

The girls actually do plan really well and cross all the t's and dot all the i's. Everyone is frantic to find Chloe and they worry the worst has happened. Finn plays the role as devote friend searching. Then the police pull Dean West in for questioning. The same Stuttering Dean that Chloe tried to befriend and give confidence to, earlier in the school year with Finn. Finn tries to get Chloe to come clean. They can't do this to Dean. Plus, Finn tries to tell her about how her parents are sick with worry. Chloe blows it off.

Chloe's plan gets more and more twisted and creepy and Finn tries to back out but she is a follower. She adores Chloe and will do anything she says. And then they kiss. Then Dean gets charged with murder. Finn tries to grow a conscientious but allows Chloe to talk her out of it. Will Dean go away to prison? How will the nightmare EVER end?

For a novel about two teenager girls, I thought this was really well done. The relationship where Chloe has the power and the prestige of being the 'city' girl and Finn feels like a second fiddle. It's also interesting to watch Finn realize that her best-friend and her family aren't as perfect as Finn always thought.

When you were in high school was there someone you idolized and would do anything they wanted? Did someone idolize you?

I thought overall this book was really good and kept me turning the pages. If you want to check it out, it comes out August 2010!

I received this book from the Star Book Tours...

Friday, July 2, 2010

House Rules Discussion

Our June Group Read was House Rules by Jodi Picoult which explored Aspergers and how it can adversely affect those who come in contact with the judicial system. Here are some discussion questions. If you read, play along. If you read it awhile ago, play along. Any and all thoughts are always welcome. ;) Even if you didn't read you may be able to answer some questions!

Questions from Jodi's Site:

1. Jacob’s meltdown give the reader many clues into what Emma’s like is like taking care of Jacob. What does it tell us about Emma and her personality?

2.The rules of the house are listed on page 21. Do they seem appropriate or unusual? Would they be rules that would work in your house? Why should a rule that works in one situation not work in another? (p 75) If a bully taunts him and I tell him it’s all right to reciprocated….why shouldn’t he do the same with a teacher who humiliates him in public? Discuss.

3. Asperger’s Syndrome is a relatively new term. Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with AS? Have you read any other books that deal with autism as a theme, or that depict autistic characters? How does House Rules compare? Does autism make good subject material and, if so, why? What challenges does AS pose in the telling of a story? How well does Jodi Picoult deal with those challenges?

4. Theo breaks into houses and Jacob saves the Christmas cards. Both boys are trying to have the same thing—what they consider to be a real home. What makes their home not a “real” home to them? What do they want?

5. ‘I’m new to practicing criminal law, period, but I don’t tell her that’ (p.231). Is it fair of Oliver to take on Jacob’s case, considering his inexperience? Does he prove himself a good lawyer? How might he have done things differently?

6.Did you ever suspect Jacob? Or Theo? When did you guess what had happened to Jess? Did you enjoy the story’s detective elements?

And here is an extra.. a link to a Jodi Picoult Podcast about House Rules!

Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!!! This is my favorite part of every summer and also the weekend I met my husband 7 years ago!

Has anyone started reading July's book The Secret Garden?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Wednesday Sisters

"And I suppose it's worse to live without expectation than to live through the pain of expectations crushed, but it never feels that way in the moment, it always feels as though life would be so much easier if only you could stop hoping for things that would never come. " pg. 198

The Wednesday Sisters follow Frankie, Ally, Brett, Linda and Kath from the late 60's when they all move/meet in Palo Alto through the 70s and ends up in present time. They are all young mothers when they meet, or so they think. Each of them have moved their because of their husbands job. Of course none of them work, it is 1967. They all do have hopes and dreams and all have college degrees except Frankie who feels highly inadequate because she does not. They start their first conversation because of books, which lead to them discussing how they wish they could write. Born from that, The Wednesday Sisters. They started meeting every Wednesday morning to write/critique each others writing.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that incorporates what is going on in the world at the time into the book. How about the dreams of these ladies and them trying to fit them into the changing dynamic of women/racial roles. Above all, this is a a book about friendship and loyalty.

I really cannot do it justice, but it is beautifully written and it is one of those books that after you read it, you WANT that group of friends for yourself. Ironically, that time frame is the one if I could go back in time that would be it. It just seems simpler and there was sooo much change going on in the world, as much as I enjoy and appreciate the chances/opportunities I get because of that time, to be there would be amazing!

"Femininity consists in being myself, in not putting myself or my sisters down." - pg. 200

Another great thing, is that even though their are 5 main characters, it is told through Frankie and each character is wonderfully developed. Frankie is a timid/shy/unsure of her self transplant from Chicago, Linda is brutally honest/blunt and an athlete who wants to run a marathon, Kath is a Kentucky debutante who can talk extremely dirty, Ally is quiet and reserved, and Brett is super smart, using quotations to hide behind and wears little white gloves and everyone wonders why. But they are bonded by a shared love of books and interestingly enough, the Miss America Pageant, which is a yearly tradition.

I really enjoyed it, and want to pick up her other stuff and I already added all the books that they mentioned to my to-be-read list on goodreads. If you've read Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bon's and enjoyed it, you will MOST definitely enjoy this. Heck, I am sure most of you will like it regardless.

Do you have a group of women friends? Do you belong to an all women book club? All women anything club? What do you think are some benefits from a good core group of women to relate and confide in?