Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two books down; Twelve to go

One of my adventures was to get book recommendations from 10 people and read them all.  At first, I had planned on hand-selecting ten people who I figured would have varying tastes in books and ask them directly.  That seemed like a lot of work, and I need to get going on my adventures, so I opened this up to Facebook.  I got a pretty good response.  Of the books suggested, I had already read quite a few of them.  Of the books I hadn't read, fourteen remained.  I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not reading their book, so I figure I'll just ready all of them (good think I love reading!).

Here are the twelve books:

1. Digital Fortress
2. Love Languages
3. Before I Go to Sleep
4. Not Just the Levees Broke
5. Lord of the Rings
6. Game of Thrones
7. You Had Me at Woof
8. Shanteram
9. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
10. Stormy Weather
11. Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know
12. Gone Girl
13. Defending Jacob
14. Kindest of Strangers

After posting the list on Facebook, I sent out an all-call for book loanings and went ahead and put a couple on hold at the library.  Since posting, I have received three of them from actual people and one from the library.  The first two books have already been read, and the third will be finished by the end of the weekend.  Check out my short (I need to go to bed) book thoughts (not reviews, that sounds like a lot of work) below.

Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

This book was recommended by a teacher friend at school.  She is from Miami and lived through Hurricane Andrew, upon which this book is loosely based.  I know Carl Hiaasen as a children's author of a book called "Hoot," so I wasn't sure what to expect from his adult novel.  The reviews used words like "dark humor," "satirical," and "Hysterically funny," so I had decent expectations.

I'm not going to lie, it took me a long time to get into this book.  Had it not been part of the challenge, I would have quit this book about 50 pages in.  Those of you who know my books tastes know that I am drawn to dramatic, Debbie Downer-type books.  I read very few humorous books, and even less satirical ones.  At the beginning, I thought this book was just silly.  There were 8 million characters, and I couldn't get them straight or care enough about any of them.

Luckily, I kept reading and ended up thoroughly enjoying it.  At the most basic level of plot, there is a crazy former Florida governor who kidnaps a man who is on his honeymoon as he is videotaping hurricane damage like it's some kind of circus.  His new bride, Bonnie, seems only mildly sad he is gone.  She gets taken in by a man who received a large sum of money after a plane crash and collects skulls.  He helps her retrieve her husband, who she no longer wants to be with.  Meanwhile, there are quite a few people attempting to benefit from hurricane scams or avoid being sued for crappy work prior to the hurricane.

Even though I still couldn't keep quite everyone straight, I way enjoyed the humor and the plot by the end.  It was not my usual and I probably won't read any of his other books (sorry, Laura!), but this one turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Now this book, on the other hand, was AMAZING.  Recommended by Maggie, I put it on hold at the library as soon as she told me about it and read it in just under four days.

This woman was in a terrible accident and has lost her memory.  She can remember some events from her childhood, but she wakes up every day having literally no memory or understanding of where she is.  Each morning, her husband Ben retells her about the accident and her current state, and she spends her days trying to figure out who she is, only to forget it all when she goes to sleep.

She begins to see a doctor, against her husband's wishes, who encourages her to keep a journal.  This helps her recall some more events, and she is at least able to read through it each day for verification that this all is true.  One day, she opens her journal and sees that she has written "DO NOT TRUST BEN" in the front of it.  At this point, she starts to doubt her accident, her husband, her friends, her doctor, and everyone else.  However, there's no explanation in her journal why she SHOULDN'T trust Ben, except that he seems to keep details from her life from her.  He explains this away as saying these things are too emotionally draining for her to have to re-learn every day.  It of course comes to a head with a big dramatic scene and the truth being revealed, but I wouldn't dare write all that on a public blog, at least without a big spoiler alert.

This is one of those books where you spend the whole time trying to figure it out.  My friend Tamara says that she always figures out books like this way early and they're never any fun, but I'm not sure if she would have gotten this one or not.  I had several theories going, one of which turned out to be correct, but I hadn't figured it out with any certainty until the end.

I suggested this one to book club and we're meeting to discuss at the end of the month.  Very much looking forward to hearing the other theories.

Project 365

Somehow I thought I had updated my pictures more recently, but I guess I just did that in my imagination.

I'm struggling with my Project 365 at the moment.  My iPhone is out of commission as a telephone, so I have switched over to a dreadful Droid in the meantime.  I HATE IT!  The worst part is, the camera is terrible compared to the quality of the camera on the iPhone.  I'm starting to get in the habit of carrying both phones around, as the camera is better on the iPhone and I can still use it for most things as long as I can hook it up to Wi-Fi.  However, I don't always have it on me, so I sometimes have to rely on the Droid for my pictures. There is definitely a difference in picture quality.

I will be sad when Karen leaves for Ethiopia, but I will be happy when she sends me her iPhone!

Day 177: Girls night at the roller derby

Day 178: My beautiful home

Day 179: Nice relaxing bath before bed

Day 180: Just finished this book.  So good!

Day 181: Look what I found in the fridge!

Day 182: Trying to get used to a Droid.  Going to miss my iPhone until I can get a new on in January.

Day 183: I ate so much cookie dough, I'm surprised I had any left for cookies.

Day 184: Go Dawgs!

Day 185: Trying to get organized

Day 186: New fall bedding makes me happy

Day 187: How much is that doggy in the window?

Day 188: It's my favorite thing!

Day 189: Mac has the best tail

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Night at the Roller Derby

Ok, can I just say I had very low expectations for the roller derby?  I was picturing a dimly-lit arena (a la the skating rink I went to in elementary school), trashy fans, and not much entertainment?  Dang, was I ever wrong.

We started out the night at Agua Linda.  Beth, Laura, Christina, and I met there for an elderly peron's dinner, and enjoyed some delicious Mexican food and a peach daquiri.

From there,  Laura, Christina, and I headed to Athens Arena, home of the Classic City Roller Girls (or the Bad News B's).  I was surprised to find out the arena is only about 3 miles from my house.  The website had said pre-ordering for tickets had ended and that some home meets sell out, but we got there about 30 minutes before it started and had no trouble getting in.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the crowd was not trashy, but rather completely, stereotypically Athens (a little hipster, some hippie grandmas, some completely normal-looking people).  We even found Waldo!

The bout (I learned roller derby is played in bouts, not matches, rounds, or meets) started right at 7 after a short explanation of the rules from Brent Muffburger and the announcer who looked like Ron Burgundy.  They demonstrated the rules in slow motion, but it didn't really make sense until the bout started for real.

We knew we were finally beginning to understand the rules when we were able to cheer at the appropriate times.

Once it got going, it turned out that roller derby is awesome!  It was fast-paced, engaging, violent enough, and with just enough help from the announcers.  Going into the half, the Charlotte B-Dazzlers were up by over 30 points (due to all but one of our players being in the penalty box). As if roller derby itself isn't awesome, the half time show was a BAGPIPE AND DRUM BAND!   Now, I may be a nerd, but this made me really happy.  Really, there is nothing better than a bagpipe and drum band at the halftime show of a roller derby bout.

After half time, the Bad News B's got their act together and pretty much reversed the score.  We finished it out with a great victory over Charlotte.

After the show, I even got to meet some of the bagpipers!

Laura, Christina, and I had a great time at the roller derby.  We've already picked out our roller derby names, Laura and Christina are going to roller derby boot camp so they can join the team, and we're already planning on going back for the final bout on September 29.  Anyone care to join us??
Meet Christina (I forgot her roller derby name!), L.A. Dodge Her, and Anne-archy

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Night at the Racetrack

A couple Saturdays ago, my friend Laura, her husband Josh, and I went to the Winder Barrow Speedway.  Technically, this isn't on my list of 50 Adventures.  But given that I've never gone, and it seemed like an adventure, I'm going to count it anyway.

If you're unfamiliar with Winder, it's kind of a mix of old-school rednecks and traditional suburbanites.  Well, the racetrack is not really a mix of anything, it's pretty much just straight old-school redneck.  I think the ratio of trucks WITH Rebel flags to the trucks without Rebel flags was somewhere around 3:1.
We got there a little before the races started and found a spot to park the truck (without Rebel flag) up on the hill overlooking the track.  There were seats in what turned out to be a more family-friendly area, but we figured we'd tailgate from the back of Josh's truck.

Once the races started, we got to see how truly country Winder can be.  First off, the track is a dirt track, so  no NASCAR style racing here.  Second, the racers are all local people (nothing against people from Winder in general, I do teach there!), so the level of cars were quite unique.  Some had duct-taped their numbers onto the side of the car, hoods flying off, no windows.  Granted, some were pretty nice considering the race, but overall, especially in the lower-level races, the cars were pretty awesome.

The big races were the ones with the nicer cars, and those were actually a little more legit.  No duct-taped numbers, Mater the tow truck didn't get called out every 3 laps (seriously, it looked like Mater), and the cars were really flying.

Surprisingly, we actually had a really good time. We're already planning our return trip!

Joy of Cooking... Homemade Bread and Vegetable Soup

Since school started, I've been doing all my cooking for the whole week on Sundays.  We're working new hours this year, so I'm usually not getting home until after 5.  With a 9:30 bedtime, that doesn't exactly leave a lot of time for me to cook, relax, play with the dogs, work out, eat dinner, do leftover school stuff, run errands, read, and still go to bed at night.  Cooking on Sundays has saved my life this year, and I hope it's a tradition I can get in the habit of now, because I think it will be really beneficial in the long run, especially when there are little Kempers in the picture.  Last week's dinners included baked chicken, chicken confetti spaghetti (a Publix Apron meal), and vegetable soup.  

To go with the vegetable soup, I figured I would want some grilled cheese sandwiches.  In an effort to make some progress on my cooking 10 Joy of Cooking recipes AND enjoy the deliciousness of homemade bread, I cooked up a loaf of quick rise bread from the cookbook.  

It was super easy, and I was able to knock it out in between cooking other stuff and running errands.  

How cute is my new flour canister??

Real bread made with real yeast
My dough was supposed to rise in a warm spot.  What better than my homemade potting bench on the back deck?

Ready to go in the oven

My loaf of bread!
The vegetable soup was also a Joy of Cooking recipe.

It was a very basic recipe, just some beef broth and chopped up vegetables, set on the stove to simmer together for a bit.

A couple hours later, I had a delicious dinner.  And aside from the Publix brand processed cheesefood, it was all complete homemade!

Five recipes down, five recipes to go!

Project 365

Day 162: Look who's back!  Just petsitting while his new owners are on a cruise

Day 163: Classy Saturday night at the Winder Barrow Speedway

Day 164: Homemade bread for my grilled cheese sandwich and vegetable soup

Day 165: Shipping out my third Etsy order this week.  Yay for a pickup in business!

Day 166: Using heat and pressure to make edible metamorphic rocks

Day 167: Rocky, my houseguest for the week

Day 168: Great day for mail!  I got my $20 Target giftcard that I won from a blog giveaway, and Google sent me $243.80 just for letting them put some ads in my YouTube video

Day 169: Thirsty dogs at the dog park

Day 170: Two of my loves

Day 171: Found this in an old journal tonight.  My fifth grade thoughts about my mom's cancer
Day 172: I'm going to miss Rocky when he goes home tomorrow

Day 173: Amazing rainbow tonight

Day 174: Jillian Michaels is kicking my butt

Day 175: This is what happened when I tried to read this afternoon

Day 176: Way fun board game at game night tonight