Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

I received this book through the Amazon Vine program. I chose it because I was intrigued at the idea of Pride & Prejudice written for teen girls, but to be honest I assumed it would be awful. In the end, though, I was wrong, and such a fitting story to teach me not to judge a book by its cover, right?

Obviously Ms. Eulberg takes some liberties with Jane Austen's classic tale, but the way she revamps it is fresh and flows easily. This book is really very loosely based on the original story, and I think that's why it works so well. That said, if Prom & Prejudice inspires even one young person to put down the Gossip Girl or Twilight series and pick up the actual Pride & Prejudice, it will have done its job in my eyes.

My one "complaint" is that the ending seems a bit rushed. Otherwise I definitely suggest this as a quick, fun read for young adults. (4/5 stars)

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

I absolutely loved the first three books in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. Books 4 and 5 left something to be desired, but I got hooked all over again when I read books 6 and 7. The Orchid Affair is the eighth installment and unfortunately Ms. Willig is back to average characters and storytelling again, which is a bit disappointing to say the least.

Although it was great to have some of the original characters pop up in this particular story, the main characters of Laura and Andre are dry and boring and don't seem to have the chemistry of some of the original couples - or even of Mary and Vaughn in the fourth book, which was one of my least favorites in the series. The story drags out a bit as well, and this actually left me more interested in the real time Eloise-Colin chapters than I usually am. Which is in itself a good thing, as that story line has been a bit stale throughout the past few installments, but doesn't say much for the bulk of this novel. 3.5/5 stars.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thirsty Thursday (again)!

This Thirsty Thursday, I feel the need to share with you all my current drink obsession.
Yes, that's right, gin and tonics (with just a bit of lime).

You see, I used to dislike gin. Or think I did. Really, it was because I never gave it a chance. I'd had a wee taste of it once, and when I did it was cheap crap. So yeah, it tasted like pine needles or whatever.

But fast forward a few years to some good gin mixed with the perfect amount of tonic and fresh lime juice, and I'm in love. It's the perfect light, fresh drink. As the song says, "I just can't get enough" ;) Pin It

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dinner, Tapas Style!

I'm a big fan of tapas when eating out, and only wish that I had the time to make three or four tapas dishes for Steve and I to share for dinner one night. But I don't, so I did two tapas dishes, both without meat. And not only were they both delicious, but they complimented each other even better than I could have hoped!

Sweet Balsamic Onions

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pearl onions, peeled
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I eyeballed this and likely used more like 4 tablespoons)
Salt & Pepper

-Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and add the onions. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until browned. (about 15 minutes)
-Transfer the onions to a small baking dish. Sprinkle with the garlic and spoon the balsamic vinegar over the top. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
Grilled Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine (I used a shiraz cab blend)
10 oz of goat cheese (the kind that comes in a log), sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 baguette, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
Dried oregano, for sprinkling

-Put the honey and wine in a small pan and cook over low heat, stirring, until the honey has dissolved.
-Place a round of cheese on each piece of toast and pour a little of the honey mixture on top. Sprinkle with the oregano (as desired, I used a pretty light sprinkle on each piece) and broil about 8 inches from the heat source for 3-5 minutes. When they have just started to brown, remove from the oven and serve immediately.

If you want some greens, these dishes would be great with a light, crisp salad! In fact, you could double or triple the honey sauce recipe for extra drizzles over the grilled goat cheese and/or the salad :)
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Semi Wordless Wednesday

Today is REALLY going to be semi-wordless as I have a recipe to post later! Yes, I was supposed to post it last night, but between putting dinner together, walking the dogs, and band practice...I ran out of time. It will happen tonight, I promise.
For real, only a man this amazing could put up with me.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tail Wagging Tuesday

Today we're discussing where our pups sleep!

In case you haven't noticed, our animals are SPOILED. I's bad. They pretty much do whatever they want. But I kinda figure that the dogs especially deserve the high life. I mean, Rigby was dumped at the pound with untreated epilepsy and was scheduled to be put to sleep just a few days after we adopted him. Wendy was never allowed inside a house until she was rescued and was apparently shot up with a BB gun at one point or another. They can just sleep wherever they want, thankyouverymuch.

Of course, weirdly enough they both tend to sleep under the bed more often than not.
Excuse the blurry/not so great pictures...I only ever seem to have my phone on me when the pets are doing silly things.
Of course, sometimes they (well, Wendy mostly) is especially sweet and sleeps at the foot of the bed...

And sometimes they (especially Wendy) are a bit obnoxious and sprawl wherever they please...

And once in a while, they burrow.

Possible favorite pic ever. Oh, and that towel-lined shoebox on the night stand is for our seriously picky cat Ducky.     

I hope everyone has a great Tuesday! It's possibly my least favorite day of the week. That said, I'm going to try to post a recipe for y'all very soon - if not tonight, then tomorrow :) Pin It

Monday, April 25, 2011

101 in 1001: The beginning

I've done a lot of bitching in recent years about New Years Resolutions...probably in part because when I did make them (years and years ago) I was just as bad at keeping them as the next person ;) So I quit making them. But then I start setting myself "goals"...not necessarily to start right on New Year's Day, but lo and behold they always came about at that time of year (go figure). And then I would always think "well, this has to be done by the end of the year".

Really, how is that different from a New Year's Resolution?

Therefore, when many of my friends started participating in the 101 in 1001 Challenge, I was intrigued. Approximately 2.75 years in which to fulfill a whopping 101 goals? Should I do it? Could I do it?

Well, last Wednesday (April 20, 2011 to be exact) I decided that at the very least I should try. Some of you may have already noticed the new tab on my blog, dedicated to this little (heh) challenge. As of right now I only have 74 goals on that list. Some are super easy (honestly, how hard is it to pay for the person behind you at a drive through?)...others will definitely prove a bit more difficult, especially for me (take a spontaneous trip is going to be hard - I plan my vacations months and sometimes years in advance). But I've already gotten to work on a few of them, so here goes nothing!

Stay tuned for some recipe posts this week, by the way. Yeah, I know, finally. haha Pin It

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 30: Highs & Lows

Day 30 ⇝ Your highs and lows of this month

Again with the highs and lows?
I'll keep the "lows" short and sweet...basically it just sucked that I was sick for about a week and a half, including the entire time I was in Nashville. Damn allergies. And yesterday was rough as a whole, a big part of that being that it was 2 years since a friend of mine passed away unexpectedly and for whatever reason, I couldn't get it out of my head. I (obviously) ended up coming home early from Chicago, for a variety of reasons including that one.

As for the highs...seeing my friend Kelly in Traverse City, Michigan...

And even though I was sick, taking Steve to Nashville (his first time there!) and spending a wonderful weekend with some good friends...

Of course, opening weekend for the Greenville Drive!

And last Saturday we took an awesome tour of Thomas Creek Brewery here in Greenville. We picked up some growlers on our way out and had a cookout here at home...burgers and grilled asparagus, yum! We played our guitars for a while and even went downtown, but that last bit was probably a bit unnecessary. The best part of that day was just doing something different (brewery tour), drinking some great beer, eating yummy food and then, as my cousin Katie says, "jamming out" :D
Yay growlers! I only wish we could have picked up some of their Banana Split Stout.
And thank the Lord I'm finally done with this meme! It will be quite some time before I bother with another one of these...they're just too restrictive. I have a bunch of recipes and I think even some outfits to post (eventually) so hopefully I can keep y'alls interest with just my everyday musings.

On that note, have a wonderful Easter! And keep in mind that the person we celebrate today is Jesus Christ, a man of compassion and equality and love.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 29: Goals

Day 29 ⇝ Goals for the next 30 days

Hmm. I honestly don't really have goals that I set on a monthly basis...I'm too busy for that! I guess at this point my main one is to finish re-arranging our house now that my sister has moved out. We got a lot done at first but we've been slacking the past week/week and a half or so. Oops.

Also, I don't know if these are really "goals" but I'd love to have:

A great time in Chicago this weekend! I really want to make sure I get to see as many friends as possible, but especially this guy:
Andy (one of my best buds) and I. He introduced me to the wonders of  'Ohana. It's our fave.
Another successful Kentucky Derby Party in about two's our third annual and the first two were just perfect...
My "brother" and I at mine and Steve's first Derby party. If you can't tell...this was later in the evening ;)
And a crazy, fun, awesome 10 year Walt Disney World College program reunion in May :)
Some of my gals and I way back in December 2001. Too bad the girl on the far left - who was my roomie - can't make it to the reunion!
Now...there's only one day left of this meme (thank God) but I don't think I'll get to it until Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Day 30 ⇝ Your highs and lows of this month Pin It

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: A Small Furry Prayer by Steven Kotler

Having rescued two dogs myself (one of whom is definitely special needs), I really wanted to like this book. And in the end I didn't dislike just wasn't quite what I expected. Now, the subtitle is "Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life" so I figured that it wouldn't be all heartwarming tales of saving dogs lives, rehabilitating them and finding them amazingly perfect forever homes.

What I wasn't expecting was the extensive research and massive amount of sidetracking that the author does. This book could have used a few more tales about the many, many dogs he has rescued and a good 50 pages less (at least) of research information and boring quotes from journals and whatnot. Kotler made some great points with some of his research, for sure, but there was a lot of it that never led to any real sort of conclusion and could have been pared down. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Day 28: Miss...AND Thirsty Thursday

Day 28 ⇝ Something that you miss

I miss a lot of things. I miss my husky Meeka (Ex got her in the divorce). I miss my friends (the ones who don't live in Greenville). Sometimes I even miss my management job at Disney. But lately, the most general thing that I miss (on a regular basis) is just being young. Seriously...the weight is getting more and more difficult to keep off. If I have a big night out (you know what I mean) it takes me two days to recover when I used to not even understand the meaning of the word "hangover". There was money coming in and far fewer bills back in the day, too.

Don't get me wrong though, sometimes 28 is really effing fun.

Anyway, today is also Thursday, which means

Last week I shared a beer with you, this week I've gotta give props to this bad boy:
If you don't like sweets, this isn't for you, but a couple cold glasses of Chocovine is the perfect dessert in my eyes! It's pretty inexpensive so no, they probably don't use the "finest" of red wines...but it tastes darn yummy!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 27: Problem...AND Semi-Wordless Wednesday

Day 27 ⇝ A problem that you have had

The longer I participate in this meme, the more ridiculous I realize some of these subjects are.

I mean, this one is so...vague. A problem that I've had? I've had a million of them, both trivial and not. And what exactly does this mean, anyway? A general problem that I've had - such as being in a bad marriage? A specific problem that I've had - such as the fact that after a year and a half I still can't make my fingers play an F or B chord on my guitar?

However, due to recent events I'm going to go with a general problem, that being - I find it extremely difficult (in fact, damn near impossible) to forgive those who wrong me.

I mean, we're always told to "forgive and forget" but I'm just too darn stubborn to do the former, let alone the latter. And if you've really screwed me over, even an apology that looks and sounds heartfelt is in my eyes probably neither. The trust has been so broken that I simply can't believe you're actually sorry and want to fix things. So I have no problem writing people off, and I have a big problem accepting apologies if/when they come my way.

Anyway, on to bigger and better things...mainly

Now, I don't usually advertise stuff like this on my blog, but next spring (that's right, spring 2012, it's super far off but there are reasons for that) we are going on a cruise...
I used to work as a travel agent so I was able to set up a group, and it's only $25 per person to hold a spot, with no more money due until December!

It's an Eastern Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise Line. This will be my second time to the Eastern Caribbean and my third Carnival cruise (seriously don't rag, their 7+ day cruises are GREAT) and I'm already stoked.
Anyone else want in? Yes, I'm perfectly serious. Email me at taralynne1213[at]gmail[dot]com for details. I'm working through a legit travel agency here in Greenville South Carolina. I've got the rooms on hold through May 13th so hit me up if you want to do a fun blogger cruise!!!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 26: Attraction...AND Tail Wagging Tuesday!

Day 26 ⇝ What kind of person attracts you

As y'all hopefully saw from my post about the famous men I'm attracted to, my taste in looks varies greatly. Though height definitely plays a factor in how attractive a person is to me ;) Hey, I'm 5'8", it kind of has to be! (Funny though that I've only ever dated two people who were over six feet tall. What's wrong with this picture?)

Anyway, to really truly attract me - for the long haul - I want someone who
  • is open-minded
  • willing to try new things
  • affectionate
  • intelligent
  • has a sense of humor
  • knows how to have a good time (without taking it too far)
  • loves animals (especially cats and dogs!)
  • and can do at least one thing I can't do. I.E. play an instrument really well, speak another language or fix a computer ;)
Now let's talk about my dogs' BLING!

My dogs do not have "bling". Rigby has a really awesome navy blue collar with the South Carolina symbol (a palmetto tree and crescent moon) embroidered into it, and Wendy's collar is old and dirty. She needs a new one but I haven't found one I like enough yet...her current collar is a dark green paisley that goes very well with her orange fur.

Now, when I walk them I use harnesses. It's better for them and better for me, especially considering they go running/walking with me twice a day!
Miss Wendy in her harness...and you can kind of see her pretty green collar too!
Anyway, when I think "bling" I think sparkly shiny things, hence why I say my dogs don't have it. What they do have are functional collars, harnesses and leashes ;)

Thanks again to C Mae for hosting Tail Wagging Tuesdays!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 25: Fascination

Day 25 ⇝ Someone who fascinates you and why
I'm honestly not sure how a person wouldn't be fascinated with Marilyn Monroe. She was a gorgeous sex symbol but also an extremely sensitive, intelligent, talented woman. Had she lived in this day and age I wonder if she would have still taken her own life...back in the 50s and early 60s her condition was misunderstood and therefore treated improperly, which makes her death that much more tragic. Seriously, if you're interested in Marilyn Monroe at all you should read Fragments - it gives you amazing insight on her life, her thoughts, her world. I've been extremely enamored with her for years now and reading that book - reading her personal writings - made her much more real than I could have imagined.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 24: A Movie

Day 24 ⇝ Your favorite movie and what it's about

I have this feeling of deja vu, like I've already mentioned Gone with the Wind on this blog. But since this says I have to talk about my "favorite movie", and GwtW is the first movie that pops into my head when I hear those words, there ya go.

Really though, who doesn't know what GwtW is about? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Gone with the Wind is the most imperfectly perfect love story. I mean, you can't discount the whole Civil War setting, but at its core that's not what this movie is about. It's about a beautiful, strong, intelligent, completely flawed woman who, like many of us women, will stop at nothing to get what she wants. And it's about the handsome, strong, intelligent, completely flawed man who loves her. And in this movie, as in so many aspects of life, there is no happy ending. But that's okay, because it makes this story so much more real.

There are a million reasons why I love this movie and you bet your ass that Clark Gable (::sigh::) is one of them. So.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 23: Hot Boyz

Day 23 ⇝ Give pictures of 5 guys who are famous you find attractive

I thought this one would be difficult, but it wasn't.

Also, the range of my taste in men astounds even me.

(These are in no particular order)

Bradley Cooper. No explanation needed.
Jeff Bridges. I have no explanation. (And yes, I mean old Jeff Bridges)
Javier Bardem. Yup, it's probably partially the accent.
Matthew Gray Gubler. I think a lot of this is that he reminds me of Steve both on Criminal Minds and in real life.
And finally...John Krasinski. Again, because there are aspects of...well, his character on The Office (as I know nothing about him IRL) that remind me of Steve. Or maybe they just have similar faces? Whatever, how tall he is gets me too ;)
Do you find any of these actors attractive? If some of the ones you like!

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 22: Two Years

Day 22 ⇝ How have you changed in the past 2 years

Hmm, again with the kind of "eh" question with this meme. Two years? That's such a random amount of time. And for someone in her late 20s, it's practically no time at all. I mean, I changed a lot between, say, 20 and 22. Even 21 and 23. Even more between 23 and 25. But between April 15, 2009 and April 15, 2011? Between 26 and 28? Not so much. In pictures:
Me on 4/5/2009. Note actual nose RING, much shorter hair and pink highlights.
Me on 4/9/2011. Much longer hair and no more pink. And the nose ring is a stud now. I'm maybe 5 pounds thinner? I don't know. Definitely not bigger, though.
Erm...outside of looks...I've moved back to South Carolina from Connecticut. Steve was my boyfriend two years ago at this time; now he's my husband. Work-wise, I'm still with the same company but in a different position.

As for any sort of personality traits or whatever...I think my personality was pretty much framed and hung by the time I was 25. Which means it hasn't changed in the past two years :)

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 21: Favorite Show AND Thirsty Thursday!

Day 21 ⇝ One of your favorite shows

Ugh, again, the last meme I did asked this and I said Gilmore Girls. I guess this time around I'll pick a show that's still on TV, ay?
I know, I know, Parks & Rec is a real wild card. But I just love it. The more I watch this show the more I ask myself why I didn't start watching it the very first time it aired. I still have old episodes to catch up on! Really though, if you like The Office give this one a go. It really does have it's own...thing about it, though, so don't expect the same exact show as what you get with The Office :)

Now, I stumbled upon Thirsty Thursday thanks to one of the blogs I follow and let's just say that this theme is very "me" :)

The blogger who hosts Thirsty Thursdays did a post today about drinks that are great in hot weather. I'm not sure if one is required to post drink recipes to participate in Thirsty Thursdays, but I hope not, because I'm not big on crazy fruity mixed drinks. Or very many mixed drinks, period. So instead, I have the perfect summer beer recommendation for you!

I discovered Kona Brewing Co's Wailua Wheat last summer and it's to die for. Steve and I basically bought all three Kona Brewing varieties that our grocery store had, tried them all, and this one came out tops (especially in my book)! If you're a Blue Moon person I definitely suggest giving this one a try. If you're not a Blue Moon person because that's too citrus-y for you, I still suggest tasting Wailua Wheat as it's a passion fruit flavor and definitely not exactly like Blue Moon ;)

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 20: Education, AND: Semi-Wordless Wednesday PLUS a Guest post!

If you can't tell, I'm kind of pretty freaking bored with this 30 day meme. My bad. So I'll throw today's in but I also decided to join Flip Flops & Pearls and her Semi-Wordless Wednesday! Enjoy! (I hope)

Day 20 ⇝ How important you think education is

It's important. Now, I'm not saying that everyone out there needs to have a 4-year degree, because different people are good at/enjoy different things. For example, my hair stylist doesn't have a 4-year degree but she's a freaking wonder at her chosen career path! As is obvious by my awesome, healthy platinum blonde hair.

But I digress. So now...first things first, check out my guest post at Passionately Curious! Annie is one of my faves lately (as I've mentioned before) and to be honest, if you like my ramblings you'll probably like hers too ;)

And finally,

I joined in on this because it's pretty frakking impossible for me to go completely wordless. What can I say, I'm one chatty chick. But in pictures, here's what's on my mind today...

I'm going on a tour of this place Saturday...can't wait!
This is gonna kick my ass on Sunday (again)...
And yup, I'm super freaking excited to be here in a week and a half!
(Chicago, for those who don't know just by looking at the picture)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 19 ⇝ Disrespecting your parents

Err...don't do it?

I mean really, could this day's subject be any more vague?

It should have said "Have you ever disrespected your parents?" In which case my answer is yeah, who hasn't? And of course I shouldn't have and I regret it. Even my dad, whom I don't have much in common with and who has made plenty of mistakes in his life, deserves my respect. For working long days for crappy money to support us, for at least trying to build that tree fort, for bringing me with him to Christmas shop for my mom. know. Don't disrespect your parents.

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My First Tail Wagging Tuesday :)

I've decided to join "Tail Wagging Tuesday", because anyone who knows me knows that I love love love my pups Wendy & Rigby!

Of course, today's topic is "Your Pet's Favorite Toy" and, dogs aren't big on toys.

Don't get me wrong, Miss Wendy loves to pull the innards out of a stuffed dog toy, but that makes such a mess that we only give her those as treats once in a while. And Rigby could really care less about toys...he just wants to have his belly rubbed.

However (and at the risk of sounding dirty, so don't take this the wrong way!) I think I can safely say that my dogs' favorite toys are each other ;) They play In fact, I think Wendy is the only dog patient enough to put up with Rigby being in her face practically 24/7. This is the great thing about having two can be a bit much at times, but more often than not they keep each other occupied and happy :)
Playful snow pups!
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