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we are women who love entertaining, reading, cooking, and drinking great wine. Follow us as we quest to forge city-life, career, and a full schedule with our domestic aspirations all while maintaining friendships with strong, independent women around our area! With the help and inspirations from our book club socials, we will blog about books, cooking, entertaining, friendships, and anything that will help you come up with unique ideas to form a womens social circle of your own!

This is your link to other women who love the simple pleasures of life, home, and friendships.

UPCOMING EVENTS

June 20 - Movie on the Pier

June 29 - The Forgotten Garden

Book Ratings

Our ratings:

A = Put on top!

B = Add to your list

C = Decent read

F = WALK AWAY´╗┐

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Friday
Jun152012

FETISH FRIDAY 

School's out for the summer!

Ah how I wish I was still in school and that I could be "out" for the summer. But those days are gone .. for now at least. Now I am an adult and have to go to work .. but with summer here it made me think of the fun activities and adventures I took as a child. And of course this brought me to camp .. and all that encompasses camp. Take a look at some of the fun "summer camp" stuff out there!

Party Inspiration of the week: Summer Camp Party!! I found this on Tiny Prints and it immediately made me what to be a camper again. Thoughts from Tiny Prints .. You’ll have so much fun hosting a camp-themed party or creating a mini summer camp in your own backyard. Incorporate all the traditional camping snacks, treats, and favorite activities to recreate the entire experience. Throw in some woodsy and natural-inspired decor and get ready for some outdoor fun!

 

 

 

 

 Recipe of the week: Nothing reminds me of camp or summer more than SMORES! And thanks to the Stiletto Chef I discovered this amazing new twist on the smore!

GRILLED BANANA S’MORES

Serves 6

This droolfesttreat is still my absolute kid-friendly favorite! Feel like a kid again by getting your hands all messy and dig in to your next obsession. This is a delicious and incredible treat for all to love! It’s so simple kids can make these on their own + for the total adult version skip the marshmallow and just include banana only! Amazing!

  • 6-  2-3 inch squares of dark or milk chocolate, I prefer dark, like Pure Dark chocolate!
  • 6  graham crackers, halved, made into lil smore sandwiches
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into thin slices, but thick enough for a skewer—not too ripe, but not too tough, firm enough to skewer and stay intact
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows

1-  On a metal skewer, skew up the bananas or the marshies, which ever you prefer.

2- Grill for a few minutes, on a grill @ medium to low heat,  allowing the mallows to melt on one side, then flip!

3- Place 1 square of dark or milk chocolate, onto each graham cracker half. Place the grahams with chocolate on a clean part of the grill and allow the chocolate to melt! When the bananas and the marshmallows are off the heat, place onto the other clean graham cracker half..

4- Top with the chocolate melted graham cracker half, press into gooey-deliciousness and make those smore sandwiches! Amazing! For extra gooey-ness, place the s’more directly on the grill after making it into a sandwich, and melt the chocolate even more.

Banana S'mores

 

Book of the week - P.S. I Still hate it here!   Thank you WSJ for this hilarious article and even more humours look into this book. How much did you enjoy writing letters home? I know I did .. but I never wrote any quite as funny as the ones below.

On the heels of the successful P.S. I Hate it Here comes an all-new, even more outrageous and laugh-out-loud funny collection of real letters written by children ages eight to sixteen to their parents about their adventures at summer camp. Written with the same wit and honesty that made the first book a runaway hit, these new letters take the reader on a familiar adventure that conjures up the experience of being away from home, and the hilarious and lasting memories that accompany that special place called sleepaway camp.

Praise for P.S. I Still Hate it Here: “Will give you and your friends a good laugh while you’re at the beach and the kids are away.” —Geek Mom

Monday
Jun112012

Creative Mondays

Happy Monday to all!

This week my task is "You are braver than you think you are." Bravery is about courage - having the courage to do and try new things. To push yourself further than you thought you could. It sounds so easy yet it is much harder than we admit. Pushing ourselves outside of our box and into a world of unknown.

While prepping for this challenging task I began to think more about my life and the challenges I have in front of me. It also made me wonder about bravery and where I first learned about it. For me I would say this came from books - bedtime reading with my parents.

My parents would read to me every night and they taught me about bravery and having the courage to do the right thing. While I don't have any children now I feel it is so important to teach our children, especially young girls about bravery and courage. I hope young girls out there know how important it is to be brave and independent - creating a life for themselves.

This idea begins @ home and with so many great kids books out there I wanted to share my bedtime favorites. Ok, one is a movie but I adore it! 

Take a look at my list of childhood favorites - let me know what you think. Great books and a movie about Bravery for Kids - with some help from Scholastic

1. The Little Engine that could

2. Jack and the Beanstalk

3. Where the Wild Things Are

4. Brave Little Toaster - adorable movie

 

Bravery for Teenage Readers:

During my search I also came across some other great reading lists - here is one for Teenage girls - listing out novels with strong brave female characters. Some of my favorites listed are - in no particular order.

  1. Speak. Laurie Halsey Anderson. (2001) Penguin. When Melinda is blamed for calling 911 at a summer party ''with beers and seniors'' she is outcast. So she stops talking. Finally, she makes herself heard. (Nat’l Book Award Finalist, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editor’s Choice, Printz Honor Book)
  2. Uglies. Scott Westerfeld. (2005) Simon Pulse. In a dystopia where everyone has surgery at 16 to become beautiful, a few rebels escape to live outside the perfect city. A sharp-eyed look at the tyranny of beauty. First of a series. (BBC Blue Ribbon Award)
  3. The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison. (1994) Penguin. Ruby-Dee is an African-American girl struggling for beauty and acceptance. Told in a voice so charged with pain and wonder it’s like poetry. (Nat’l Book Critics Circle Award, Oprah Book)

Bravery for Readers of All Ages:

I also found this great list on Goodreads focused on books with strong female characters for readers of all ages. I have selected my favorite 3 for you.

1. Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

2. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

3. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.


BRAVE - A movie for all to enjoy .. I just had to end my post with this. I enjoy animated movies and this is one I am patiently waiting for - the preview motivated me and sparked my creativity. Hope it does the same for you!

Tuesday
Jun052012

Creative Mondays 

Happy Monday to all!

It has been a bit humid and rainy all weekend and looks like the work week will be the same. But the rain can be a great time to get in some extra reading or perhaps try out a new recipe.

This weeks creative task was a great addition to my "creative space." I don't have lots of extra space in my apartment but I have managed to claim a corner for myself and my creative workings.  Adding in some "good scents" helps get the creative juices flowing - that and it helps me relax after a crazed day driving on the highway. Now at first I assumed "good scents" only came from candles, incense, air freshener - that kind of stuff.

Then I thought more about the "scents" that make me happy and I decided to focus on one that can be used in so many great ways. 

Lavender - Hands down this is one of my favorites and can be found in many candles, beauty and bath products. Many of us have lavendar candles or room spray but nothing is better than fresh lavender. There are so many uses for it - all generating that same fresh but light smell. 

Take a look @ Home and Garden's article on the many uses for fresh lavender. Who knew you could use it in lemonade? I was so excited about this that I sought out some other recipes.

Try this one for Lavender, Mint Lemonade - taken from a great blog - called Gorgeously Green.  

Directions:

  • 1  1/2 cups of filtered water
  • 1/2 cup of Agave Nectar
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 springs of fresh or dried lavender
  1. Place the above items in a small, heavy saucepan
  2. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes, being careful not to let it over-boil.
  3. Take is off the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Squeeze the juice of 5 lemons and place with a cup of ice cubes in a pitcher and pour over the syrup.
  5. Add sparkling mineral water until the pitcher is 3/4 full.
  6. Add 2 drops of Lavender essential oil, and a few fresh sprigs of mint and basil.
  7. Finally add one lemon, thinly sliced. Chill and add more ice if necessary.
  8. NOTE: It’s better to make this a couple of hours before you are going to drink it because the fresh herbs will add even more flavor. 

 

Lavender Ice Cream from the movie "It's Complicated"

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, bring the whole milk, lavender, and honey to a gentle boil.  Remove from heat and let sit for at least 5 minutes.  Strain the mixture and toss the lavender and then let the milk mixture simmer over a low heat.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until thick and frothy (approx. 3-5 min.)  Add the milk mixture into the egg mixture until well blended and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in the cream. If you have an ice cream maker add the mixture to the container and let chill according to instructions.  If you do not have an ice cream maker pour the ice cream mixture into a freezer container and freeze stirring every half hour for approximately 2 to 3 hours.  It may take a little longer, but well worth it.

 

Scotts of StowLavender Window Boxes -Now ideally one day I will have a garden filled with veggies, herbs and lots of fresh lavender. But in the meantime I may invest in one of these cool window boxes - a perfect way to freshen up my creative space all while filling my home with the fresh scent of lavender.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jun012012

Fetish Fridays 

Happy Friday to all!

I don't know about you but there is nothing better in the summer than ice pops and a good "beach read." While I don't actually enjoy the beach I do enjoy a good "beach read" from time to time. And since the temperature is already hitting 90 here I need to get moving on my summer reads, eats and threads. I spent most of this week seeking out some great summer ideas - please let me know what you think.

Summer Eats: Ice Pops - I love sweets - and summer is a great excuse to have something cold and sweet. This year I want to try something new and go beyond the normal strawberry or raspberry popsicle. Once I started searching I was thrilled with my findings - I hope you are too! I may have to try the PB&J or the Spicy Pineapple this weekend - like me know if you try one too.

 

Links Left to Right and Top to Bottom -  Cucumber, Spicy Pineapple, Rasberry ChocolatePBand Jelly and Hibiscus  

 

 Summer Reading - Food for Thought: As I was searching for some great summer reaidng lists I came across an article in Psychological Science  written by Wray Herbert entitled Psycholgy of Beach Reading. Now, truth be told I do enjoy articles about psychology and decision making so this one was an interesting read.

Here is an excerpt; " Selecting a book to read by the water is no trivial matter for me. I want something that’s accessible because—well, because it’s vacation, and I don’t want anything that resembles work. On the other hand, my past experience with picking pop fiction—thrillers and such—has often as not been disappointing. I think I want a “page turner,” but I quickly get bored by formulaic plots and pat characters. They’re simply not interesting."

 

Summer Reading List - Thank you NY Times for such a great list. There is something on this list for everyone.

After browsing the list for something of interest I landed onWomen From the Ankle Down; the story of shoes and how they define us.” by Rachelle Bergstein. I knew this was my beach read - or really my hang out on the deck of my pool book. The book tells the story of shoes, famous shoes. Among the famous shoes on display: the ones that made Marilyn Monroe wiggle, the disco strutters of “Saturday Night Fever,” the Reeboks that helped Jane Fonda popularize aerobics, the high heels that were the spirit of pinups and the beatnik ballerina flats that separated Audrey Hepburn from the crowd. Birkenstocks, army boots and glittering red slippers also appear.

But the single best footwear belongs to Nancy Sinatra, who wasn’t going to be able to appropriate Lee Hazlewood’s country song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” until her father, Frank, said she could. Tall white boots became famous and so did Ms. Sinatra, once she followed Mr. Hazlewood’s suggestion about how her record should sound. Mr. Hazlewood advised that she sing it like a 14-year-old girl with a penchant for truck drivers. “I can do that,” Ms. Sinatra said. And she did.


Summer Food Reading List - Should you not love any of the above selections or just want more - Serious Eats has compiled a list of 10 great food books appropriate for beach reading.

As I do have a love for Chocolate I was immediately drawn to "Charlotte Au Chocolate" - and based on the adorable video how could you not love it?

A brief overview ( modified from Amazon.) Like Eloise growing up in the Plaza Hotel, Charlotte Silver grew up in her mother's restaurant. Located in Harvard Square, Upstairs at the Pudding was a confection of pink linen tablecloths and twinkling chandeliers, a decadent backdrop for childhood. Over dinners of foie gras and Dover sole, always served with a Shirley Temple, Charlotte kept company with a rotating cast of eccentric staff members. After dinner, in her frilly party dress, she often caught a nap under the bar until closing time.

Her one constant was her glamorous, indomitable mother, nicknamed "Patton in Pumps," a wasp-waisted woman in cocktail dress and stilettos who shouldered the burden of raising a family and running a kitchen. Charlotte's unconventional upbringing takes its toll, and as she grows up she wishes her increasingly busy mother were more of a presence in her life. But when the restaurant-forever teetering on the brink of financial collapse-looks as if it may finally be closing, Charlotte comes to realize the sacrifices her mother has made to keep the family and restaurant afloat and gains a new appreciation of the world her mother has built.

Wednesday
May302012

May - Wine of the Month

For the month of May I have decided to focus only on White wines - it has been unbearably hot here in the Northeast and while I do enjoy red wine - it is just too hot. Plus I have discovered an amazing wine that I just had to share with all of you.

Many of you may never have heard of Albarino wine.  Albarino is the type of wine and it’s the name of the grape that is only grown in Spain.  Prior to last month, I too had never heard of Albarino either. I was out in Ft. Collins, Colorado visiting my brother and his family for Easter.  One night, we dropped my nephews off at daycare for “Parents Night Out” and headed to a new Wine/Tapas Bar that just opened up called d’Vine Bisto.  The bistro menu is Tapas style and they serve wine flights – choice of 3 wines, 2oz each.  I, of course, selected from the White Wine menu, and picked a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.  They were all very tasty. For my second flight, I wanted something different, so I picked a Reisling and another Chardonnay, but was stuck on the third.  The waitress suggested I try the Albarino.  The what? I said.  On the menu it read: Albarino, Vionta, Spain.  She said I would love it.  And boy was she right!  The best I can describe it as is Crisp, Refreshing, and Delicious!  A fabulous summer white wine!  I ordered a f ull glass of the Albarino to pair with the delicious crab cakes, Thai lettuce wraps, and Moroccan Chicken! After that meal I knew that I just had to write a review on this wine to introduce it to more people!

A little on Albarino.  From Wikipedia - is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain),Monção and Melgaço (northwest Portugal), where it is used to make varietal white wines.  The grape is noted for its distinctive aroma, very similar to that of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Petit Manseng, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%.

I went to the A&P and they only sold one type of Albarino – Martin Codax.  This brand was good, but I recommend trying any Albarino that your local wine store is selling.

 

ALBARINO, Martin Codax, Rias Baixas, Spain, 2006 - $14

The Albarino is pale in color, with yellow undertones.  It is very crisp and acidic on the tongue – not oaky and not really buttery.  When I had my friend try it, she said, “oh – crisp!”  It has flavors of peach, pear and citrus. 

The wine pairs well with most summer foods, such as grilled veggies, fish and chicken.  I would avoid steak or gravy based dishes with this wine. I did read somewhere that when you eat with an Albarino, the wine makes the food better and the food makes the wine better.  Sounds like a great pairing to me!

Overall – this is a great summer white wine.  Now you can be the talk of the party - when you bring a bottle and introduce your wine friends to a new variety they probably have never tried!  NOTE - two glasses of the Albarino and I was feeling tipsy.  It takes a few more chardonnay’s to have that affect on me, so be warned!  And enjoy!!!!

Wine Rating -  9 out of 10

Image from Food.comRecipe - Lemon Baked Cod Fish

Ingredients;

  • 1 lb cod fish fillet
  • 1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • paprika

Directions;

  1. If fish fillets are large, cut into serving pieces.
  2. Mix butter and lemon juice.
  3. In another bowl, mix flour, salt and white pepper.
  4. Dip fish into butter mixture; coat fish with flour mixture.
  5. Place fish in ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches.
  6. Pour remaining butter mixture over fish; sprinkle with paprika.
  7. Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until fish flakes easily with fork, 25-30 minutes.
  8. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon slices if desired.

Buy some Albarino tonight: Snooth, Wine Library and TotalWine.com 

In the News: Apparently Food and Wine agrees with me - take a read and discover more Albarino options.

Video for Wine lovers: Great Video all about Albarino Wines

Monday
May282012

Creative Monday 

Happy Memorial Day to All!

I hope each of you are out enjoying the day and taking a minute to thank those who serve to protect us. Being that it is Memorial Day - the official start of Summer. Today is a perfect day to update you on my creative progress.

While last week was a bit of a challenge this week was "easy breezy" and perhaps that is because  I decided to "Ride a Bike." You should all know that beyond my obsession for face masks, red wine and chocolate I love to workout and have been known to try lots of fitness fads, tapes, and classes.

Nothing can compare to a bike ride - a leisurely pedal around your neighborhood as the sun shines on your back. Now granted as an adult it may be a bit harder to relax and enjoy the sunshine - especially when you live in a congested city filled with jay walkers and crazy cab drivers - but I did my best. And I must say - I felt relaxed, motivated and ready to create.

Now while I had to rent a bike from a local shop for my adventure - I did find some great bike options should I decide to purchase one and become a "biker." Take a look.

 

Beach Bikes - They are my favorite - so bright, big and just fun! How can you not smile when riding around town with these bikes? I adore the bright pink and the lime green handle bars just scream - preppy!

All images taken from pinterest

Bikes with baskets - Now of course if you have a bright bike with big wheels and handlebars you must have a basket. Perfect for shopping, carrying your books or whatever else you may want on your ride. While the front facing basket is the norm - how adorable is the basket on the tricycle? I could see myself pedaling down a country road headed for a farmers market ... how cute would I look?

All images taken from Pinterest

What to put in that basket? For me it would be flowers, lots and lots of flowers. And perhaps on an off chance my dog - standing up of course. I had to share the bulldog - he just looked so sweet resting next to the bike.

 All images from Pinterest

All images from Pinterest

 

Bikes built for two - Nothing is quite as sweet or as hard to operate. Have you ridden a tandem bike or a two seater? I always thought they were adorable and romantic - until my darling and I attempted it once summer day. It was work - and in the end guess who did the most peddling? Either way it was fun and makes for a great story. So grab your sweetie and ride off into the sunset.

All images from Pinterest

Enough talking..get up, get moving, and get biking!

Friday
May252012

FETISH FRIDAYS

HOORAY FOR LONG WEEKENDS!!  It's the kick-off of summer and for the very lucky few - SUMMER FRIDAYS!!!  Time for Backyard BBQs, grown-ups on slip-n-slides, and margaritas.  Here is my weekly roundup for Summertime fun!

HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Backyard Scrabble!

Scrabble will always be my favorite board game.  I love Words with Friends on my iphone, but old-school, wooden block letters will always have my heart.

If you are looking for a fun, creative addition to your backyard renovations, this will be the talk of the neighborhood!

 

BOOK ART: BRICK LIBRARY by DARYL FITZGERALD

No, these aren't real antiques, they are actually BRICKS painted with the covers of famous classics.  I'm in love with this.

 

FAVORITE NEW RECIPE: BANANA PUDDING ICE CREAM PIE

Can't think of a better dessert than Banana pudding.  Maybe that's just me, though.

 

SOMETHING TO WET YOUR APPETITE: THE GREAT GATSBY TRAILER.  I have to say, I was really excited about this movie coming out.  However, after learning that Baz Luhrman was the director, I was less than thrilled (was never a fan of his movies - Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge).  It just felt like he bastardized the novel by adding too many current cultural aspects to it.  His music composition consists of music from KANYE and JACK WHITE - if you don't understand, this novel's great highlight was that it was set during the BIG JAZZ era - where is the JAZZ MUSIC?? 

I mean, I will still see the movie, but I think I may be disappointed nonetheless.  What about you?  This commentary by the BOOK RIOT is pretty spot-on with my thoughts.  Anyways, forget about Mad Men - mark this as the beginning of Gatsby-inspired parties from this day forward - you heard it here first!

 

Wednesday
May232012

50 Shades of Grey

Book: 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Grade: F (If you are grading on writing style, plot line, character development, general enjoyment).   

C + (if you are grading on purely entertainment value)

Summary: When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
 
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Sounds pretty cheesy, huh?  Yup, pretty much is.

Background:  This was originally submitted as TWILIGHT FAN-FICTION work under the name of "Masters of the Universe", where E.L. James used the main characters, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, in her dirty version of Twilight.  She later reworked the piece to get published by taking out the vampire aspect of the story as well as changing the main character's names. 

What we liked: Not much, however, as a book strictly marketed as an indulgent read and if you aren't expecting anymore than pure pornography, this book fits the bill perfectly.  It has sex scenes galore, as if you were reading "Debbie does Dallas" on paper.

What we didn't like: E.L. James makes Stephanie Meyers look like a Pulitzer-Prize winning author.  James's lack of writing skill is clearly shown throughout the entire novel.  She uses too many cliches for our liking such as "put the pedal to the metal" - seriously.  Her character reactions were odd and out-of-touch with how people really react - there was a lot of oh-mys from Ana.  I found a hilarious website that demonstrates E.L. James lack of writing talent to a T on 50 Shades of Suck.  She takes excerpts from the book and does commentaries on it.  Here are some great ones:

"So you work at SIP?” asks a balding gentleman in a half-bear—or is it a dog?—mask.

Fifty Shades Darker, p. 97.

well which one is it? a bear or a dog? this is literally the most stupid thing…"

 

"And there’s Leila—with a gun, potentially, somewhere—and her crap taste in music still on his iPod. But even worse, Mrs. Paedo Robinson, I cannot wrap my head around her, and I don’t want to.

Fifty Shades Darker, p. 90.

ok there are two glaring problems with the above passage:

1. anastasia feels that mrs. robinson, the old bitch christian used to bone, is a bigger threat than leila, his ex-sub, WHO HAS A GUN.

2. anastasia throws out that leila has crap taste in music after she mentions leila HAS A GUN. the sentence should have been : And there’s leila- with her crap taste in music on his ipod- WHO HAS A FUCKING GUN AND WANTS TO KILL ME. AHHH! I GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE! I BETTER TAKE THESE BUTT PLUGS OUT! The End."

 

Other problems with the book:

Her attempt at character development with Ana and Christian are random.  Ana is simply just a drab, naive, submissive - much like Bella Swan.  Christian's character development is very cliche with her description of his background, his psychological scars from his biological mother - it was almost like James took a bunch of word magnets, strung them along, and added them to her plotline.

James is clearly British, as the entire tone of the book has British undertones throughout.  It actually made it difficult to get into, because it was supposed to be set in Seattle, WA.  There were a lot of cliche expressions that were clearly British.  It was odd.

Controversy: There has been much controversy over the "novel".  One being within the writing / publication world, as some question the intellectual rights of any author whose work is used in fanfiction.  In this case, E.L. James basically made money off of Stephanie Meyer's original work.  Intellectual property is, of course, difficult to prove, because then you run into a lot of blurred lines.

The other is her portrayal of the S&M world as Ana is an alpha-male's dream - submissive, weak, and gutless - and of course, a virgin.

Feminism - there have been claims that the book explores feminist sexual freedom.  Our book club thought that statement was laughable, because Ana knew nothing about her own sexuality to even know what to explore.

This was the overall feeling about the book from the members who attended.  What about you?  If you liked it, please let us know and let us know why.  We'd love to get some dialogue going on it.

Tuesday
May222012

Creative Mondays 

Kathleen's Progress

Truth be told this creative journey is proving a bit harder than I had anticipated - but I am not giving up! Last week was a bit hectic but I did manage to focus on some of the creative tasks.

I, like so many of us, have been ridiculously busy the last few weeks. And I am in need of a vacation - and while that isn't happening anytime soon I needed to find a way to take a break from the madness and relax - if even for a moment.

For me taking a breather is a bit of a challenge as I bore easily and find it very hard to sit still for too long. But as I am determined to stay committed to this challenge and document my progress for you I fought through it this week.

Normally I would turn to mindless TV for my "break" but sadly 3 of my regular shows have now been cancelled so I had to find something new to help me relax. I searched high and low and came up with some great bathtubs, DIY spa treatments and of course some tasty relaxation teas that did the trick - for me at least. Let me know what you think.

 

Home Spa  - As I began searching for relaxation remedies and DIY spa treatments I came across some amazing bathrooms - leaving me yearning for the day I have my own home and my own tub. Ah, the simple joys that make me happy. Until I move here for your viewing pleasure are some of my "bath envy" photos. I have to say my favorite one is the rustic blue room - one day that will be me - soaking in my tub.

 

 

DIY Spa Treatments - I turned to Pinterest for this quest and there were lots of great home remedies to chose from. I went with the scrubs and masks that seemed the most feasible and the ones that also smelled amazing.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Thanks to Under the Table and Dreaming for sharing this easy and effective scrub. Its perfect for your elbows, feet and knees - or wherever you have some rough skin that may need a bit of "scrubbing." Doesn't hurt that it is also makes you smell a bit like a cookie.

Directions:

1. Begin by mixing 2 Cups of Brown Sugar and 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar together until there are no lumps.

2. Add in 1 Cup of Sunflower Oil and 1 Tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract.

{I like to use Sunflower Oil for this body scrub because it does not carry the strong scent that Olive Oil does}

3. Once you have mixed it together scoop it into your favorite mason jar. Simple and ready to use.

 

Face Masks

For anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with face masks. I have been known to scower the aisles of CVS, Walgreens and Walmart in search of the newest face mask on the market. Of course when I found these remedies I was more than excited to try them out for you.

Soothing Face Mask - This one is courtesy of Collegefashion - thanks ladies.

This is a great mask for stressed out skin - it is soothing thanks in part to the nutmeg and honey that act as a natural anti-inflammatory, which can reduce swelling and redness in the skin. They’re also great for soothing acne scars and preventing infection. In addition, the nutmeg and cinnamon also work to exfoliate your skin when you wash this mask off.

Before you begin, it’s always a good idea to do a small test with homemade mixes on your skin to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction to any ingredients. So remember to do a quick patch test on sensitive skin, like that on the inside of your wrist, before applying this mask to your face.

Directions:

1. Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg.

2. The consistency should be like a thick paste.

3. After it’s all mixed, apply the mask to your face and let it sit for 30 minutes.

4. Wash it off with warm water, scrubbing softly in circular motion for exfoliation.

 

Coffee and Cocoa Wake-up Mask -  By now you should know how much I love coffee and chocolate - when I found this mask on About.com I was sold!! It was amazing - the smell, texture and results - highly recommend this one.

Coffee and cocoa masks have long been a favorite of beauty aficionados. As a combination, they decrease puffiness in the face and the eye area, brighten skin and wake up a dull-ish complexion (hello caffeine!).
Ingredients: 
  • 4 Tbsp. finely ground espresso or coffee beans
  • 4 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 Tbsp. dairy product. Choose whole milk, heavy cream, yogurt (must be unflavored!), almond milk or coconut milk. Use less dairy if you like a thicker paste. Substitutions are allowed: Try an egg instead of dairy if you are an egg mask lover, or substitute oils, such as olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil or almond oil if you have dehydrated skin. If using oils, halve the amount or it will be too runny.
  • 2 Tbsp. honey (if you have dry skin) or lemon juice (if you have oily skin)

Directions: 

1. If you have whole beans, finely grind beans in a grinder. Remember, beans should be finely ground so they don't scratch your face. If you just made coffee, you can use the freshly brewed coffee grounds, although they won't contain as much caffeine.

2. Mix coffee and cocoa powder in a bowl.

3. Add the dairy product and stir until a smooth paste forms. You can use less dairy if you like a thicker paste.

4. Stir in the honey. (I like to warm up the honey in a warm water bath or in the microwave so it mixes better).

5. Apply the paste to your clean face and neck.

6. Let the mask dry.

7. Wet a washcloth and press it to your face to loosen the mask, then rinse with warm water. If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid rubbing your face because the coffee grounds could potentially scratch your skin. It's really up to you, you'll get a feel for what your skin can take and how finely ground the coffee is.

Note: You can store the leftover paste in the refrigerator for several days.

 

Relaxation Teas and treats

I ended my DIY Spa day with some very tasty treats - like I really needed an excuse to have something sweet. But since I am doing this for you, the reader, I pushed on.

I found Sleeptime teas in the grocery store and while I didn't realize that they came in three different flavors - I went with the original. It was pretty tasty and I was a bit sleepy afterwards - but not too sleepy. I think I could add this into my evening after dinner routine. And I also love the adorable sleepy bear they have on the label.

And who can have tea without some kind of decadent treat? Not me! I indulged in these chocolate cookies - so tasty and chunky! I found this recipe on Not So Humble - what a great blog! I think this is my favorite dessert to date.

 

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Cookies! -  yields 5-6 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups extra dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups white chocolate morsels
2/3 cup milk chocolate (or semi-sweet) morsels

Directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

2. In a double-boiler, melt the pound of bittersweet chocolate. Set it aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

4. In your mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

6. Add the cooled chocolate to the mixture and blend. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the mixture is uniform.

7. Add half the flour mixture and combine on low speed, then add the remaining flour and mix until the batter comes together.

8. Now add the chocolate morsels--feel free to add a couple handfuls of nuts too, if that's your style--and stir them in by hand.

9. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or silicone baking sheets, and drop spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the sheet. Give the cookies plenty of room to spread.

10. Bake the cookies for approximately 10 minutes until puffy and the edges start to crisp. Be careful not to over bake. These cookies should be moist and chewy.

11. Allow the cookies to cool and firm up on the baking sheet for a few minutes before attempting to move them to a wire rack.

NOTE: The cookies are best enjoyed slightly warm from the oven. If you're not able to gobble up five dozen cookies fresh from the oven, allow them to cool completely and store in a air tight container for up to a week.

Friday
May182012

Fetish Fridays 

Happy Friday to all! I don’t know what it is about this day but I love Fridays. Perhaps because the work week is almost over and the weekend is staring me in the face – but I just adore Fridays! Of course it helps that the weather is getting nicer and the forecast for the weekend is perfect for some outdoor activity. I am giddy with excitement and ready to slip on some flip-flops and do some window shopping this weekend. But before all of that I must share my weekly finds with you.

I started my week looking for new insight on books, home furnishings and party planning but found myself drawn to all things coffee. After my creative post on Monday all I could think about was coffee! I would say our creative challenge is working – I am feeling inspired and intrigued to discover all that the coffee bean can do. Once I started searching I was amazed at the products, blogs, articles and recipes all hailing the coffee bean. And now for you .. the roundup of all things coffee.

Here’s to a relaxing Coffee filled weekend!

 

News of the Week : Coffee Drinkers Live Longer!! 

Instead of raising risks for heart disease as previously thought, coffee has some small benefits.

Go ahead and pour a second cup this morning — new research indicates coffee drinkers are likely to live longer, despite their bad habits. 

A large study including about 400,000 indicates that instead of raising risks for heart disease as previously thought, coffee has some small benefits, according to an Associated Press report published in the Tampa Tribune.

Some studies of coffee drinkers can be thrown askew because coffee drinkers are more likely to do harmful things to their bodies like smoke, drink alcohol, avoid exercise and eat more red meat. This new study showed that once those other habits were factored in, the coffee was helping people live a little longer.


Favorite Etsy Shop - Gemini Studio  

As a dog owner and coffee lover I found these pieces to be adorable and comical – I especially love the Bulldog and Pug versions. If I had a bigger kitchen or a window seat I would hang some of them there. But for now I will just have to save them to my desktop and take a look here and there. We all need things to make us smile and these do the trick for me. 

 

 

Favorite Mugs:  Drink Up

I am very particular when it comes to my coffee mug – for one I need it to be a bit larger and with a decent handle. No delicate china for me – at least not for my coffee. And while my mother insists that I have china or at the very least a full set of matching dishes I just adore random mugs – sorry Mom! They are much more fun and for the most part I find more durable.

 

I found these @ Anthropologie and I adore the Monogram on the white mugs - very stately. Of course the large purple mug is perfect for days when I need a bit more coffee and while I normally don't love dainty mugs these are just too cute to leave behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 These are from Pier 1 and Fish and Eddy  – while they are not very “adult” they do make me smile – which is very important when one is waking at the wee hours of the morning to exercise and feed the dog.

Cooking with Coffee Take it up a notch and infuse coffee into your cooking. As always Epicurious has some great recipes – hands down my favorite is the Jamaican Coffee Brownie recipe. Sure you could be a bit more daring and use coffee in a stew, roast or BBQ but I am a sucker for desserts. Give me chocolate covered espresso beans anytime and I am in heaven.

 
 

 

Made By Girl - Print on Etsy

 

For the love of Coffee: Blogs

 

I was a bit shocked – who knew there were so many blogs out there about coffee. Of course there are your standard big-chain coffee blogs like Starbucks – which I have to say for being corporate does a decent job of providing great photos, recipes and business events. But for those of us who just want some fun, coffee news and insight I say you take a glance and these blogs

1.For the Love of Coffee;  Is written by Amber - a coffee junkie. Her blog - in her own words " This blog is a reflection of my daily coffee habit, serving up sips of coffee recipes, vintage coffee art, free coffee or coffee products, reviews and recommendations, and whatever else I happen to find on this world wide web of coffee goodness.

2. My Coffee Blog - is written by Marlo Perez; here are his thoughts on his blog " I am one of those millions who drink coffee everyday..It wakes me up.. It perks me up. And it inspires me to do more..The power of coffee!"

3. Pure Coffee:  The Pure Coffee Blog is written by Bill and in his own words "exists to help people find tremendous coffee and tea, both in their backyard and in their travels. I have had the distinct blessing to visit many fine coffee establishments as well to cup many coffees and teas in my humble abode. Each interaction has shaped and schooled my knowledge, a facet of life-long learning that is both humbling and intriguing. All in all, it’s been a pleasant expedition." His blog visits and reviews coffee-houses around the world - stop by and nominate a place today!

 

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!