Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sleeping Soundly

For me, a room has to be pitch black to be slept in. Pitch.Black. When we go to our hometown and stay with our in-laws, our room is so far from pitch black it's not even funny. I could read by the light coming in the windows there. Likewise, when we visit my parents in Florida, although it's vacation, it's often hard for me to sleep. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. In college, I had a sleep mask. I know, so cool, right? It was extremely helpful in rooms that were anything but dark. Plus, college kids really need their sleep.

I didn't even bother looking for a sleep mask in stores because I knew I could make my own in about 10 minutes, sans pattern. I had some leftover quilted fabric that I thought would block a lot of light and be pretty comfortable on my face. I also had a length of elastic too short for anything else. What luck!

I crudely sketched the outline of a mask.

Then I cut 2 from my sweet pattern. Putting right sides together and shoving the elastic in between, I pulled the 2 elastic ends through the outside about an inch on either side. Then, I stitched around the edge leaving enough space to right-side out the mask. See?

I didn't feel like modeling it. I guess Sadie didn't either. She thought it was pretty tasty though.

Now I can have the sweetest dreams on the weekends! I am happy to report, in its debut, the mask let me sleep until 9:00 am. Well, the mask and John taking over my Saturday morning Sadie duty. Yea for free crafts!

Recipe Re-Blog #4

I only tried two new recipes this week. I suppose that's fine since my resolution only asked that I try one new recipe each week but since I did 4 last week, I'm feeling a little under achiever-ish.

Italian Tuna Casserole:
This recipe is found in Rachael's Ray's Express Lane cookbook. The link is a random one that someone copied onto but I couldn't find the recipe on her site so, here you go! I had a feeling this would be kind of an amped up Tuna Helper, and I was right. In college, Tuna Helper was a fancy meal for John and me. I know, right? When we got married, we decided we could do better than the Helper but I always liked it's flavor. This one is way better and has the added bonus of spinach. Hooray for folic acid! I can't speak to how simply it came together because John cooked the whole thing while I was on the treadmill. Maybe I just DID speak to how simply it came together. Ohhhh! I kid, I kid. John's got some mad cooking skillz. Anyway, give this one a try. It's extremely filling and we easily got 6 servings out of it, even though Rachael says it only feeds 4.

Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins:
Long recipe name, eh? These are from Bakerella. I don't usually make stuff like this but I've decided something about my cooking/baking/eating recently. I work out really hard and often so I should be able to eat something of this nature when I want to, darn it! Plus, I got mini muffin pans for Christmas and I wanted to use them. Plus plus, I thought these would be good to serve at breakfast for when we have overnight guests. (Hint hint: our reservation book is empty. Feel free to visit Chez G. B&B!) And the third plus in this recipe, they are MINI! I said it last week and I'll say it again and again, I love mini things. Especially mini food.

So cute I could die.

PLEASE make these! They are delicious. And whimsical. And delicious. Muffins made with pancake batter plus chocolate chips. They are in my freezer because it yielded 24 babies and I think John and I would have shamefully eaten them all between the two of us. So, now we must ration. TRY THEM!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pillow Pfffft

Remember earlier this week when I showed you those reversible pillow covers I made and hinted that another effort did not go so well? Here it is. I REALLY wanted to make pleated pillow covers. They're in stores everywhere for more money than I wanted to spend knowing how inexpensive microfiber is on its own. So, I purchased a yard for $7.00. This was my first mistake. Guess what? 1 yard, or maybe it was 1 1/2 yards....either way, it won't cover two pillows because pleats take extra fabric than a normal pillow cover. Sigh.

I thought I could get away with covering just one pillow and it would be an accent for the other two. This was before I made the reversible covers. I only made those because I screwed up these pleats. Let's be clear on something. I've never made pleats before. Never. And I didn't look up any helpful hints on how to sew them because, "How hard could they be?" Just fold and sew. Yes, in theory.

Look at those wonky pleats! First of all, there's definitely not supposed to be that much space between them. They don't overlap. Not even a little. Secondly, I think only the middle one is straight. The rest are not even close to being even. And third, ugh, just ugh. This was such a poor attempt. I wish I could blame it all on the fabric. It was tough to measure and certainly there was no ironing of microfiber, which added some difficulty.

Look at that one on the top right! It's especially bad. Oh yeah. I also tried to make this a removable cover with an invisible zipper. Because the zipper was invisible, I used a cream one because it's all I had on hand. You could definitely see the entire thing. I ended up cutting the zipper out and slip stitching the 4th side closed.

I am so ashamed to post this. I guess I wanted to prove I'm not perfect. HA! I think we all knew that anyway.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Simon Cowl.....was the only post title I could come up with

I don't know why I haven't made an infinity cowl scarf until now. I guess I didn't understand what was so great about them. Boy, was I missing out! I bought 1/2 a yard of this gray and white plaid wool on sale for $4.50 at JoAnn's. Wintery, right?

Ready for the tutorial?

1) Cut a LONG rectangle of fabric. Like as long as your body.
2) Sew it into a tube. Turn rightside out.
3) Connect the ends and sew the tube into a circle.

Ta-DA!!!! See why I didn't take any pictures of the steps. So easy I didn't even have to look up instructions on how to do it. And here it is! Pardon the pics, I don't know why I kind of look like garbage. I even had John take my picture just as I was walking out the door for work.

And here's one from the side. Ignore my hunchback. What IS that?!

It's way cozy. Now I want to make more and wear them every single day. They make winter a tad more tolerable. Well, not really but, you get the idea. It puts a smile on my face. I think that's what matters most.

By the way, I never wear my hair up for work. It's something new I'm trying. One day a week, I wear it up. I'm not sure how it's going. I'm not sure anyone notices except for me. Just keepin' it real.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pillows Aplenty!

I bought the fabric to make two different kinds of pillow covers for the living room couch well before Christmas and I just now got around to sewing them. Good news, guys! My machine may not be so sick after all. These sewed up just fine and my bobbin thread didn't break once. Huzzah! I think that maybe Sal just doesn't like to zigzag stitch anymore. That's okay. I hardly ever zigzag anyway. Even though she's okay for now, I think I still have my eye on a bigger, better model. If I want to start truly altering my own clothes (not just simple hems) I need the right tools to do it. Only 2 1/2 months until my birthday! *hint hint* Those hints were for John. He's not reading this anyway.

Back to the pillows! I purchased a blue microsuede and an Indian-like swirly print. I didn't taken pictures of either one ahead of time. Oops! We are on the hunt for new furniture but I figured our pillows could use an upgrade in the meantime. I had my heart set on making some pleated covers out of the microsuede. That's a story for another day with a sad ending. Today! I'll show you the ones that did turn out the way I wanted them to.

Here is the print. I love the curly-ques! If you can't tell, they are light blue on a mocha brown background.

And here is the plain microsuede. This isn't washable but that's okay. It's a short term fix anyway. The microsuede was on sale and I think I paid about $7/yard. Actually, I think I paid about $7/yard for the print too, at JoAnn's.

SPOILER ALERT! The pillows are reversible. One side has the print and the other is the solid! Did that just blow your mind? It blew mine for sure. Well, after I had screwed up my pleats and had to come up with a feasible solution. THEN, it blew my mind. Anyway, I'm not doing a tutorial because they're just two squares stitched together and I slipstitched the 4th side closed. Easy peasy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ford County

I am a big fan of John Grisham's. I've read a lot of his books and am slowly working my way up the hold list for his latest offering. Ford County came out a few years ago but I didn't pick it up until my recent failed trip to my new library. Failed because they didn't have anything new to borrow. Anyway, Ford County is a collection of short stories about the residents of Ford County, Missouri. I don't normally read short stories or collections of them but being desperate for books and trying to depart slightly from the norm, I checked it out just the same.

I can't really give you a synopsis of this one. The Ford Countians are an interesting, southern bunch. Some back woods, others not so much. One story deals with three men finding trouble on the way to donate blood. Another tells of a seemingly charming nursing home attendant who preys on his patients' money. A few deal with the law, Grisham's forte. They all showcase the deep south.

This was a very fast read, which was good since I wasn't super into it. The nice thing about short stories is that you feel really accomplished when you finish one. If you like short stories or are looking for something different, try Ford County. If you've never read anything by Grisham, start elsewhere.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe Re-Blog #3

I am on a roll! Here are my new recipes for week 3 of my 2011 resolution. I tried all new meals this week for dinner. I don't think I've ever done that. I even made a new recipe on a Friday night. WHAT?! John usually makes homemade pizza on Fridays so this was a big departure from the norm. There were just so many that I wanted to try. They included..........

Korean-Style Chicken Noodle Bowl: I ripped this out of an Everyday with Rachael Ray (Sept. 2010). This resolution is definitely forcing me to use the "to be cooked" pocket of my recipe binder. It calls for fresh ginger, which I didn't feel like buying. I used 1 tsp. dried instead. O.M.GOODNESS!!! This was delicious. I have made stir fry before but usually with a peanutty-soy based sauce. The sauce on this was both sweet and spicy. It had a kick but not too much kick. I didn't think I would like this as much as I did. It was awesome! After only bite one, John said the recipe earned a sleeve in the recipe binder. High praise! The only downside was it called for quite a few ingredients. Most of them I had on hand but if you don't regularly make Asian food, you might have to buy them. But, they last awhile. TRY THIS RECIPE and let me know if you liked it. :)

Mini Meat Loaves: Believe it or not, I love meatloaf! And I like my current go-to meatloaf recipe but it uses 2 lbs of ground beef and makes 8 servings. We end up freezing half, which is fine, but sometimes I just want a good 4 serving, ground beef meal out of 1 lb. of meat. Enter, Woman's Day, August/Septemeber 2010. It's #5 on the link. These were delicious! They cooked up so quickly and I love mini food. Give this one a shot. The scallions make it.

Chicken Piccata: I love love love Chicken Piccata and I've never made it at home. Can you believe that? I'm only slightly obsessed with capers. Don't ask me why. The recipe I used is #6 on the link. For me, this one was a little lacking. It cooked up super quick, which is always a bonus, especially for a weeknight meal. Actually, John was responsible for this dinner because I was on the treadmill. But, I thought it would be more flavorful, like the chicken piccata you get in restaurants. I guess it probably would have been, if I were in a restaurant. I gave this a sleeve in the binder but I don't know how often I'll make it. It had the bonus of needing ingredients that I already had on hand. Love when that happens.

And in the sweets department.......

Fried Banana Wontons with Black-and-White Drizzle: This was also from Everyday with Rachael Ray (Sept. 2010). I don't usually hang onto dessert recipes because we try not to have too much dessert. Especially not dessert fried in butter and calling for heavy cream. However, I had leftover wonton wrappers from recently made Crab Rangoon so I thought, what the heck! These were ah-mazing! And they cooked up so quick and easy too. I told John we were having a "novelty dessert." I think he was pleasantly surprised. I skipped the creme fraiche which I didn't feel like buying and just substituted in some Cool Whip on the top. Yum Yum!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Actual Conversation in the G. Household

John: I would like to incorporate my Polish heritage into our lives.
Ashley: ......OK.....what exactly does this involve?
John: I'm not really sure.
Ashley: Maybe you ought to do some research and write a book report.
John: I was hoping you would do the research and make things.
Ashley: Like, Polish crafts?
John: Maybe just making Polish food.
Ashley: Name five Polish dishes besides paczki and pierogis.
John: Cabbage and Noodles
Ashley: I hate cabbage and noodles.
John: Borscht.
Ashley: You just said last week that borscht was disgusting.
John: That's right. Borscht is disgusting.
Ashley: What else?
John: Kielbasa or polish sausage.
Ashley: You're not winning any points here. I think you need to do some more research on being Polish.
John: How about putting a Polish flag outside?
Ashley: Or, maybe painting a Polish flag on the garage door like in My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.
John: YEAH!
Ashley: Good night.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sad News

Guys, my sewing machine is sick. The last thing I sewed was my ruffled Christmas skirt and I think that was the nearly the final nail in the coffin. I haven't sewed anything since to see if it's really sick so there may still be hope. While sewing that skirt, the bobbin thread kept breaking and my tension was angry. Good old Sal, my machine, has served me well for the last 8 years. She's never been serviced before and I thought for sure, $25, maybe $50 tops would make her right as rain. Silly Ashley.

My friendly JoAnn's worker told me they do service machines but it costs $90. What the what?! I love Sal but she was probably only $150 8 years ago. I'm not quite sure because she was a gift. One of the best gifts I have ever received in my life. So, now I'm stuck limping along with Sal and lots and lots of fabric itching to be sewn until I can replace her. Shhh....don't tell her! The sales person at JoAnn's tried to talk me into the cheapest Viking Husqvarna they stock. Cheapeast at $350. Three-Hundred-Fifty bones, guys!! I didn't even want to see it sew because I knew I'd fall in love.

.....maybe for my birthday..............

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free at Last

No, I'm not celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day late. After five and a half years, I am free from car payments! I bought my first car when I graduated from college. When your boyfriend has a car, you really don't need your own until you don't live in the same city anymore and need to transport yourself to your brand new full time job. My buddy Blue, a Saturn Ion, has been my faithful companion since 2005. He and I have been through a lot together. I put many miles on him early on and unfortunately, there shows no sign of stopping. Today I sent in my very last payment so Blue is all mine. They assured me the title would be mailed to me so I will trust them to do so, although it's in my maiden name. Do you think that makes a difference?

What a happy day it is! Honestly (don't tell him), I couldn't care less what I drive. And, cheap as he was, Blue has served me well over the years. At just shy of 100,000 miles, I'm hoping to squeeze out a few more. I think I can do it! In fact, I'd like to squeeze out as many as possible. Then, onto bigger and probably better things. What a joyous occasion!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Fiery Cross

First read of 2011! The Fiery Cross is the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series that I have slowly been slogging through. If you plan on reading this series and haven't made it to this book yet, skip this review! I don't want to spoil anything for you!

In The Fiery Cross, Jamie, Claire and Co. are still on Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina. Having not been married as planned in the last book, Jamie's Aunt Jocasta and friend Duncan Innes are to be wed in the beginning of this book. Sadness befalls the wedding as one of the slave girls is found dead. After the nuptials, dastardly Stephen Bonnet returns! Jamie and Roger realize they must end Stephen's life and spend parts of the entire book trying to find him to do so. Roger eventually finds himself in a near death position; as does Jamie -- in a separate incident. Claire continues making medical strides in a different century and works on trying to figure out if, they wished to, Brianna, Roger and Jemmy could time travel again back to their present day.

OK, that wasn't a very good synopsis. Sorry. Lots more happened but I don't want to give everything away. Also, this book was over 1,400 pages. 1,400!!!! That's like 4 books in one. In fact, I started this some time in December and had to take a break from it to ensure I hit my 50 goal in 2010. So, even though I started this last year, it's still technically my first read this year. And I'd better pick up the pace too. If you're reading and enjoying the Outlander series, this one is good.....just really long.

Rating: * * * * (that's 4 out of 5 stars -- I always rate them on Good Reads so I thought I might as well do so here too!)

P.S. Happy Birthday to my wonderful sister!! Hope you have a lovely day. Miss you, B! Have some cake for me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #2

Yea, I made it through week two of my resolution. I tried 3 new recipes this past week. I will post them in order of deliciousness.

Cake Batter Bark: Yes, you read that right. Chocolate bark that tastes like cake batter. Color me interested! Apparently Stephanie from Stephanie Cooks is some sort of genius. This was so festive and easy to make. However, next time I would add more cake mix to the white chocolate. The flavor was too subtle for me. Also, I had every intention of sending some to my sister for her birthday next week but John seems to think it won't ship very well. Sorry, B!

Crispy Skillet Potatoes: These are also from Stephanie Cooks. I made them to go with steak on a wild Saturday night dinner in Chez G. They were good but I think I boiled them too long in the first step. They didn't get as crispy as I wanted. I'll try them again though. Maybe I'll be more successful the second time around.

Slow-cooker Chicken Paprikash: I never had Chicken Paprikash growing up and in fact I always thought it sounded like the grossest meal. The first time I had it with John's family (a staple at their dinner table) I was hooked. It was delicious. Who knew? I've made it before but I wanted to find a crockpot version. I love my crockpot. This one is from Spark People and it was just okay. I left out the mushrooms and the red peppers because I don't like either of those things but they would have made the sauce a lot chunkier. Anyway, John liked it. I guess I did too but maybe I was expecting more. I think I'll keep looking for a different version.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Library Fail

It's taken me since October to finally check out my new library. My old, awesome library is now a 15 minute drive from home and nowhere near anything that might be convenient to combine trips. My new library is on my way home. Right on the way! I pass it everyday. Happy day, this is exciting. Since I'm nearly finished with my first read of 2011, I decided I better hop to and skedaddle on over to get my brand new, shiny card.

I pull into the parking lot and realize that the building is noticeably smaller than Awesome Library. I would say it's easily one quarter the size of Awesome Library. Not a good start. Upon walking in, I noticed everything was a complete hodge podge. Maybe it's because I'm so familiar with A.L. but I felt like there was just stuff everywhere with no organization. Libraries are all about organization. Maybe you didn't know that. They can function only because they're so very organized. (Thanks, Mr. Dewey!) I sidled up to the counter and spoke with a friendly librarian (a plus, although the librarians at A.L. are also friendly) about getting a card. She hooked me up, pointed out some areas of the library I might be interested in, and sent me on my way.

I've said it before but it's never good when I go into the library without a clear idea of what I'm there for. I end up wandering in the stacks, borrowing books I care nothing about, most of which don't get read. But, I came semi-prepared this time. I found the computer terminal to search the catalogue and got busy. Well, I tried to get busy. I couldn't get it to work; then it froze. :( The only librarian I saw was 3 patrons deep at the counter and so, reserve steeled, I headed off just where I didn't want to be......the stacks.

Oh yeah, I had first perused the "New Books" shelf. When I didn't recognize a single title, I didn't think that was a very good sign. Anyway, in the stacks I found a few books to borrow but nothing that I'm excited to read. This is so very disappointing. While I'm happy to give my circulation to the new-to-me library, I can't do that if there's nothing I want to circulate. So, I guess I'll use it in a pinch but I think I'll still be planning15 minute (30 round trip) sojourns to my Awesome Library.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Things I am Working On

-Sewing fabric from my stash instead of going to spend the JoAnn's gift card burning a hole in my wallet
-Putting together my wedding photo album.... 2 1/2 years later (Finished this one before posting!)
-Planning a springtime getaway for John and me (wheee!)
-Feverishly searching for living room furniture (can I please get a couch that's 40" deep?)
-Thinking about trying to convince John to let me paint the inside of the master bath door black (more on this later)
-Trying not to be sad that it's only January and spring is still so far away
-Losing those last few pesky pounds to hit a weight I've never seen in my adult life
-Wearing more of my closet as I tend to gravitate towards the same outfits over and over

......and so much more!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Date night!

I couldn't recall the last date night John and I had. Is that sad or what? We traveled at Thanksgiving and then we hosted, decorated, shopped, had Christmas, tried to host again but got the flu, hosted New Years and finally....FINALLY, had a free weekend. What better way to celebrate than with dinner and a movie?

We chose a relatively new burger place called EO Burgers for dinner. That stands for extraordinary. For my money, they could remove the E. and just be Ordinary Burgers. They were a'ight but far from extraordinary. The fries were good although it's hard for me to meet a fry I don't like. We have one more new-ish burger place to try and then it's probably just back to Five Guys. I say that like we go all the time. We hadn't had burgers out since Thanksgiving at the ultimate, Mighty Fine, in Texas.

We had time to kill before the movie but there were no seats at Bar Louie to grab a drink. Sad face. We love Bar Louie. Now there's a restaurant with a good burger. And on Tuesdays, not that we go out on Tuesdays, it's Dollar Burger night. A dollar for a whole burger! But alas, it wasn't meant to be. We went to the theatre and bought our tickets opting instead to find a cocktail at what used to be called "Chatters" but is now inexplicably simply "Bar & Grill". It's a strange little lounge in the movie theatre with an extremely limited food menu, that they can never seem to deliver to your table in a timely manner, and an even more limited drink menu. Good thing my $9 Chambord Martini was tasty. Highway robbery! Next time, we'll just stand at Bar Louie. We could have saved beaucoup bucks. And really, we should have known better as we had vowed some years before NEVER to return to Chatters. During a horrible windstorm in September of 2007? 2008? most of Dayton lost power. It was a Sunday night and we had nothing to eat. We were driving around aimlessly to see if some lucky restaurant would be open. Low and behold, the Greene (outdoor shopping destination) did have power but all the restaurants were absolutely packed! And then, unlike now, they didn't have 20 restaurants to choose from. There were open tables at Chatters and we saddled up. I understand their kitchen is apparently not equipped to cook for all their tables at the same time. We waited more than an hour for a fish sandwich and whatever John ordered. Because they were so crazy busy, no one knew where any of the food belonged and our order was delivered to the table next to ours. I heard the people say, "We didn't order that but we'll take it!" We walked out with nothing. Our dinner that night was cheese. Sliced cheese. It was the first thing I could grab when John said, "I'm only opening the fridge for a few seconds." He meant it. Rough going. I digress.

Then we saw The King's Speech, my choice. It was delightful! I really like Colin Firth but everyone did a great job and I'm not surprised it's received many nominations for various awards already. This was the first movie we had seen out since October. I told you we were in need of a date night.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recipe Re-Blog #1

The first week of my recipe resolution was a smashing success. I tried 3 new recipes. THREE!!!

Slow Cooked Ribs and Root Beer BBQ Sauce
- I made these on New Year's Day because John is all about having pork that day. The past few years we've just done pork tenderloin and it never turns out very good. Maybe I'm just not a big pork fan. This recipe calls for baby backs but those are expensive, yo. We used boneless ribs and they were just as good but not nearly as messy. The sauce had a really good flavor but it wasn't thick. I like thick BBQ sauce. Still tasty and worth trying.

Smoky Black Bean and Rice Stoup - The original recipe can be found in Rachael Ray's Express Lane cookbook. The link is a re-print from someone else but it's identical. I made this for John and me to take in our lunches this week. It was super filling and fiber-rific!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans - I couldn't find a link for this one because it's in the newest issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I was pretty skeptical because Sweet and Sour Chicken is my go to Chinese take out meal. No way this would measure up. Also the sauce was brown, not shockingly red like I like. You know that completely unnatural color you probably shouldn't eat? Love it! Anyway, this recipe, though not truly my idea of sweet and sour chicken, was also great. Healthy, quick and full of flavor.

3 for 3! And I already have my new recipes selected for this week. Yea!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I always always make a New Years resolution. They often have a similar theme (read: weight loss) but they're also always about bettering myself in some way. Isn't that the true meaning of a resolution? Last year, my resolution was to be more positive. Proof here. I am proud to stay I really stuck to it for the whole year. Many would attest to the fact that I am a much more positive person than I used to be and I credit my resolution with that change. It gave me the spark I needed to try and always see the bright side of things. Of course life isn't going to go your way every day and that's okay. There's always something to be happy about. Even if some days it's just the fact that Sadie makes me smile.

So this year, I have a skillful resolution. I am going to try at least one new recipe every week. I really enjoy going through cookbooks, magazines and blogs to find new, yummy things to cook. I enjoy it so much that I have a binder full of "to be cooked" recipes. I'm hoping this resolution will force me to clear out that binder and make way for new. I also hate when I get in a food rut that is unimaginative and downright boring. I'm hoping this resolution will fix that too. I promise to share the recipes with you too. Aren't you lucky?!

What's your resolution?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

51 Reads of 2010

In 2009, I read 50 books. If you want to revisit that list, you can do so here. This was quite a feat for me and I was rather proud of the accomplishment. However, not all the books were of the best quality. My goal in 2010 was quality, not quantity. Sure, I still had some easy reads in there (more than I care to cop to) but I also had a number of works of nonfiction and also some VERY LARGE reads of more than 1,000 pages. Towards the end of the year, I realized I was super close to 50 books again. I'm not sure how that happened but I read feverishly to try to match last year's number.......And I did IT! Actually, I surpassed it.

Ashley's 51 Reads of 2010

  1. Official Book Club Selection (Kathy Griffin)
  2. Eclipse (Stephanie Meyer)
  3. South of Broad (Pat Conroy )***
  4. The Road (Cormac McCarthy
  5. Living Dead in Dallas (Charlaine Harris)
  6. The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown)
  7. Push (Sapphire)
  8. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) *******
  9. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Rhoda Janzen)
  10. The Help (Kathryn Stockett) ***
  11. Food Rules (Michael Pollan)
  12. Committed (Elizabeth Gilbert)
  13. Breaking Dawn (Stephanie Meyer)
  14. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
  15. Moloka'i (Alan Brennert)
  16. Club Dead (Charlaine Harris)
  17. Columbine (Dave Cullen) ***
  18. The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry (Kathleen Flinn)
  19. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) ***
  20. Losing Mum and Pup (Christopher Buckley)
  21. Little Bee (Chris Cleave)
  22. House Rules (Jodi Picoult)
  23. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang (Chelsea Handler)
  24. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) ***
  25. Cruising Confidential (Brian David Bruns)
  26. The Girl Who Played With Fire (Stieg Larsson) ***
  27. This Book is Overdue (Marilyn Johnson)
  28. Dragonfly in Amber (Diana Gabaldon)
  29. My Fair Lazy (Jen Lancaster)
  30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Stieg Larsson) ***
  31. Dead to the World (Charlaine Harris)
  32. Sizzling Sixteen (Janet Evanovich)
  33. How Did You Get This Number? (Sloane Crosley)
  34. Loving Frank (Nancy Horan) ***
  35. Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green/David Levithan)
  36. I Was Told There'd Be Cake (Sloane Crosley)
  37. Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins) ***
  38. Uncharted Territori (Tori Spelling)
  39. Voyager (Diana Gabaldon) ***
  40. Drums of Autumn (Diana Gabaldon) ***
  41. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (Tucker Max)
  42. Orange is the New Black (Piper Kerman)
  43. Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Jamie Ford)
  44. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (David Sedaris)
  45. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender)
  46. The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson)
  47. Spoken From the Heart (Laura Bush)
  48. Dead as a Doornail (Charlaine Harris)
  49. Ape House (Sara Gruen)
  50. Decision Points (George W. Bush)
  51. Definitely Dead (Charlaine Harris)

For 2011, I'm not going to put a limit on myself. What I am going to challenge myself to do is discover new authors or new-to-me authors. Of course I have my favorites but there are so many books. SO MANY! I really need to try to branch out a bit. I'm sure I'll still read some that I'm familiar with (my first read in 2011, for instance) but I will be making a concerted effort to expand my reading horizons.

P.S. The ones with asterisks are the ones I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead is the next installment of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. In this wacky read, Sookie finds herself courted by many vampires to attend the vampire convention (in an upcoming book, I'm assuming, as we didn't get there yet). Eventually, the queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne, wins and Sookie travels to New Orleans at her request. The Queen has recently wed the King of Arkansas, Peter Threadgill. In New Orleans, Sookie is charged with cleaning out the apartment of her dead cousin Hadley, the Queen's former companion. She comes across some interesting things and also makes friends with the landlord witch, Amelia, downstairs.

In Definitely Dead, Sookie's relationship with Quinn (a weretiger from the last book) blossoms and the Pelts are still after Sookie to try to find out what happened to their Were daughter Debbie. Sookie finds herself in many pickles, once again, but if she didn't then she wouldn't be Sookie, right?

I liked this one. Although I love Eric, I'm not so fond of Bill and this Quinn fellow seems like he will be a good match for Sookie. I liked that we learned more about the Queen and the innerworkings of the vamp world. I am getting a little tired of all the Were related books but, I suppose you'll have that in a Supernatural series. Looking forward to finishing up this series to see what happens. AND for True Blood to come back.....not until the summer though. This was a very fast read, as always. If you're a fan of the series, you'll like this one.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Decision Points

I should start by saying that I’m neither for nor against George W. Bush, especially since he’s no longer running the country. I couldn’t give a good gosh darn. I chose to read Decision Points for a few reasons. 1) I knew John wanted to read it so I already had it on my hold list, 2) I read Laura Bush’s autobiography so I thought I should give full due to the rest of the fam, and 3) I’m trying to broaden my reading horizons. No, it’s not something I normally would have been chomping at the bit to crack open but, I did nevertheless.

Decision Points, Bush’s first book since leaving office in 2008, is more an outline of his major decision points (duh!) while President and less an autobiography. Yes, he discussed many parts of his past, life before the Presidency and the events that led him to the White House. But, like I would have liked more, did not spend a lot of time gabbing about the behind the White House scenes fun stuff. I should have known it wouldn’t be that kind of book. Anyway, chapters on 9/11, Katrina, Iraq, etc. gave very in depth descriptions of what was going through his mind while making the decisions that would guide the fate of the country for years to come.

I actually found a lot of what he had to say very interesting. While the writing was pretty sub-par, it was fascinating to learn more about various events that I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to while they were happening and even more fascinating to read how the media portrayed certain comments/events/reactions from Bush incorrectly. I’m glad I read it. I don’t know that I would really recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already interested in politics but, it had its moments.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

John and I rung in the new year at our new home with friends. It was fabulous! Hope you had a wonderful new year and all the best to you in 2011. More regular posts coming soon..........