Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recipe Reblog

A recipe to entertain with this week. I got it from a good friend of mine. She served it at their house at our recent double garage sale and I liked it so much, of course I asked for the recipe. I think that's a great compliment to a host, don't you? At least I hope it is. I ask for a lot of recipes when I eat at other peoples' houses. Maybe I'm just a copycat chef. Oh well!

Nanny's Veggie Dip: This is a great vegetable dip (or chip or pretzel) recipe that can easily be lightened up. Instead of sour cream, I used Greek yogurt. It tasted the same, saves calories and adds protein. Win! I cut this in half and it was a good amount for 4 people. It says to use prepared mustard and it wasn't until I had it all mixed up that I remembered my friend told me she uses Dijon instead of yellow mustard. That completely slipped my mind! It tasted fine with yellow but it's better with Dijon. You may even have everything for this in your pantry. Give it a try!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Just about 3 weeks until the half marathon. I can only assume that others who have reached this point in training for their first long race are feeling much like I am. Doubtful, nervous, tired. I have followed my training plan almost to a T. I’m actually quite proud of that, thinking early on that I would certainly skip runs here and there but really, I haven’t. I have just completed my longest ever run at 10 miles. I think my doubts are coming from the amount of time it took me and the amount of walking I succumbed to. Finally, two hours after I began, I was spent, which I expected. My mind wasn’t in this run at all. As John and I pulled into the park we both said, “I’m really not in the mood for this.” I was sunk before I set sail. Unfortunately, my pace was a lot slower than my projected 10/min mile pace that I originally set for myself. I think it might be time to re-evaluate my pace projections. Time to face reality. Now, I believe that as long as I finish, I have succeeded. Sure, I’d like to run it sub-2:30 but I’m not sure that’s attainable. I’d rather not die before it’s over. It will all come down to the conditions of the day, I guess. No two training runs are alike. What’s curious is that the day after a terrible 10 mile run, my body has bounced back much quicker than the day after a great 9 mile run. What is that about?
I wish I had been able to squeeze in a 5K or 10K as recommended but those races didn’t line up the way I wanted them to. I hope I don’t suffer because of that. For now, I have to try to push these skeptical thoughts from my head and wipe out this defeatist attitude. Running is all mental and my mind needs to get to a better place. Fast! My dad keeps asking if I’ve hit that runner’s high yet. I say no. If you don’t really know, you probably haven’t, right? My hope at the end of this 12 weeks was that I would love running. So far, I still don’t love it. It’s tolerated, at best. Dang, there go those negative thoughts again. Fake it till you make it. I will finish this race as strong as I can with a smile on my face. And then I will never run double digit miles again.
Looking for encouragement from those who’ve been there…….

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Downtown Dayton Revival - A Photo Tour

Earlier this month, John and I went to the Downtown Dayton Revival music festival. This was the inaugural event of a 2-day festival held on a few street blocks on the streets of downtown Dayton. We weren't able to attend the second day but here's what went down on Day 1.

The weather was absolutely amazing! We couldn't have asked for a better day. There was a lot of rain the day before but it cleared up and remained in the 70's the whole time. Here I am after having just arrived. Gates opened at Noon but we had errands to run and didn't know any of the earlier bands so we arrived around 3:00 pm.

I had to show you my new bad ass bracelet. It's made from a vintage belt and I bought it at a craft festival last weekend. Don't I look super tough when I wear it? I wanted to feel like a rockstar so I wore it today too. It says, "Don't mess with me" in a not so subtle way.

There were three stages about a block apart. We did have to pay for parking but I expected that. They also ran a free shuttle to the Dayton Art Institute where the Greek Festival was being held. If we were attending both days I definitely would have taken advantage of that. You know what they say. Never pass on baklava.

Motel Beds on stage - we didn't know them but they were good

The Wheels on stage - didn't know them either but they were decent.

This was the main stage

Unfortunately, as a first time festival, there really weren't that many people there. That ended up turning out really nicely for those in attendance. You could get really close to the stages without trying to hard. Plenty of room to move around in between the sets, no food lines, etc and so on. The amount of people made it feel like a much more intimate festival.

And what's a festival without libations? This truck had about 20 taps coming out the side of it. And not just Bud Light here, no sir. Stella, Shocktop, Sam Adams, and more. Great selection and at $5 for a beer, well, you just can't beat that price at an event of this nature.

Once you've had your fill of beer, you have to face a sad truth. We are outside and none of these buildings around us have public toilets. So, you hold your breath and tough it out. Actually, these weren't as hateful as some porta-potties can be. Probably a testament to the lower attendance levels. There were plenty to choose from and never a line.

While there were more than 20 bands playing over the two days, we were there for 2 specific artists on the bill. The first is one of my all-time favorite bands Guster. I have loved them since high school and have seen them in concert 8 times. I guess you could say I'm a fan. Theirs was the first name I read when I first heard about the festival and immediately emailed John, "We're going."

Adam - Brian - Ryan

They played a great mix of old and new which I appreciated because I like their older albums better. They did not disappoint! But, I knew they wouldn't. And we were able to stand really close which was great. Here's the only bad part about the main stage, all of these old people (and by old I mean easily 30 years older than me) had parked their collapsible chairs in a cluster right up by the stage. I know they just wanted good seats for the headliner (more on that later) but they also just sat in them during the sets of all the other bands (including Guster) and just didn't seem like they were having a good time at all. So, while we were maybe 30 feet from the stage, we could have been a lot closer. Oh well.

This is right after Adam and I had a moment during Amsterdam. Pretty sure we locked eyes even.  I know he saw me.

Singing Ramona

They played for over an hour and we loved every second of it! Good crowd support and they were funny in between sets. It was awesome. After that it was time to wait a bit for the headliner.
I should also tell you there were a ton of food vendors to choose from. I had a Thai PB&P sandwich from our favorite local food truck. John had cabbage and noodles and earlier we had split salt and vinegar fries. There was chicken, mexican, gyros, lots of stuff.

The headliner for the second evening was Train. I wouldn't have minded seeing them but a Sunday night just wasn't happening. We are too old to get home that late on a school night. The headliner for Saturday was.....John Legend! John Legend is local to Dayton and comes back to town for various events but not usually to play. John (my husband) didn't really care about seeing him but was a good sport about sticking around. He also put on a really good show. Although by then, our feet and backs were tired! You could bring in blankets but we never sat down on ours as you wouldn't have been able to see.

These pics didn't turn out as well because our camera is not good with night shots and we weren't as close to the stage.

It's him. I promise.

Tickling the ivories

I'm really glad we went, even though we had to pay for 2 days but only attended one. I hope this becomes an annual event here in Dayton with great music. It also fulfilled my 'try new things' challenge that I just invented for myself. High five, Ashley!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gone Girl


When a book quickly climbs to the #1 spot on the NY Times Bestseller list, it's generally worth checking out. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is such a book.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?"
What I Thought: WOW! What a page turner. Great characters, inventive plot. Good stuff. Here's your caveat -- the ending is one of those in which you may be disappointed. I wasn't sure how I wanted it to end but, well, I'll let you read it for yourself. Despite the ending, it's definitely worth picking up. I couldn't put it down and those are my favorite kind of books.

Rating: * * * *

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Recipe Reblog

A chocolate chip cookie for you today......

Copycat DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies: If you’ve stayed at a DoubleTree Hotel then you’re already familiar with this recipe. If not, you must book a night at one if you can. Underneath the counter in a special warmer, they have the most amazing cookies for their guests. They don't even give you the side eye when you go ask them for your 4th or 5th one.

This is a copycat recipe and it’s pretty spot on. The only adjustment I made was to leave out the walnuts. I like walnuts and think nuts in general get a bad wrap but when in doubt, leave it out. My batches didn’t turn out as pretty as the cookie you get at the hotel but the taste was identical! This is more than just your typical chocolate chip cookie. With the addition of cinnamon and a little lemon juice, they are elevated to an exciting cookie level. Bake these up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


You guys. The other day John and I went to a festival and there were old-timey cars there. One of them had a mannequin in the drivers' seat. I was staring at it when the mannequin smiled at me. It wasn't a mannequin. It was a human. Who is the creeper here? Me for staring, or the old man for pretending to be a mannequin in his car?

Can we all agree that Troop Beverly Hills should have won the Oscar the year it came out? I mean really.

Raise your hand if you are beyond excited for fall TV. The other day, John asked me what show I was most looking forward to and I named about 14. That doesn't mean I want too much TV, does it?

It's candy corn season, y'all! I've been enjoying my first bag of mellowcreme pumpkins and have put out on APB for the coveted and much sought after white chocolate Halloween M&M's. Target was already sold out. On September 7th.

That's all I got party people.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by blogger Jenny Lawson had a really funny title so I snapped it up at my library after a short wait on the hold list. I don't read her blog but the book got reviews as being funny and witty. I'm always up for a laugh. Plus, the cover art is really funny.

Good Reads' Synopsis: In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

What I Thought: There were definitely some funny stories here but none were really laugh out loud for me. More amusing than anything, I'd say. The problem with bloggers is that they tend to get really wordy. Trust me, I know. It often took Lawson a long time to make her point. I realize you're supposed to have fun on the journey but the journey went on a bit too slowly for my liking. If you read her blog, you'll probably like this one. Otherwise, probably skip it.

Rating: * * 1/2

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Recipe Reblog

I have a particularly fall-ish recipe for you today. Read on!

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Apple Skillet: This recipe comes from the Fall 2012 Penzey's Spice catalogue. If you've never been to a Penzey's, you are missing out! They have the most amazing spices and seasonings and mixtures in their store. I know, it's just spices, right? BUT - it's so much more than that. We got some for Christmas and have really been enjoying using them to jazz up our cooking. Anyway......sweet potatoes? Apples? Does it get any more autumn than that? I skipped the bacon for health reasons but I'm sure that would knock this one out of the park. I didn't miss it though. And, don't be scared of those brussel sprouts. I don't really like them but thought they were GREAT in this dish. They soak up all the other flavors nicely. If you don't have their fancy spice combinations, their website tells you what is in each one and you could likely come up with a similar flavor profile just from your cabinet. Give this one a try!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to John,
Happy Birthday to you!

It's John's 31st birthday today. Yea hooray!!!! This means presents for him and CAKE! Thirty-one is, apparently, an age in which you start having a really hard time coming up with gift ideas for yourself. The ones he does have are not super exciting either. Oh well, it's not MY birthday. I've promised him a trip to the soon-to-be-opened Kilwin's ice cream. Kilwin's is a staple when visiting my parents in Ft. Myers and lo and behold, they are opening a location in Dayton. The very first one in Ohio. We are pleased as punch! We're also taking a birthday weekend getaway sometime in the future, probably later on in October.

(even though he's not reading this)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tatiana and Alexander


Tatiana and Alexander is the sequel to The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simon. I read that way back in       April. My library didn't have this book so I had to buy it. Quel horreur! I started it back in July and only just now finished it. It's not really that it took me so long to get through but my turn on the hold list for many books came up and I had to put this one on the back burner.

Good Reads' Synopsis: The Bridge to Holy Cross is a powerful story of love and hope -- a passionate and epic love story from the Russian-born author of The Bronze Horseman. The world at war ...two people in love. Tatiana is eighteen years old and pregnant when she miraculously escapes war-torn Leningrad to the West, believing herself to be a widow. Her husband, Major Alexander Belov, a decorated hero of the Soviet Union, has been arrested by Stalin's infamous secret police and is awaiting imminent death as a traitor and a spy. Tatiana begins her new life in America. In wartime New York City she finds work, friends and a life beyond her dreams. However, her grief is inescapable and she keeps hearing Alexander calling out to her. Meanwhile, Alexander faces the greatest danger he's ever known. An American trapped in Russia since adolescence, he has been serving in the Red Army and posing as a Soviet citizen to protect himself. For him, Russia's war is not over, and both victory and defeat will mean certain death. As the Second World War moves into its final violent phase, Tatiana and Alexander are surrounded by the ghosts of their past and each other. They must struggle against destiny and despair as they find themselves in the fight of their lives. A master of the historical epic, Paullina Simons takes us on a journey across continents, time, and the entire breadth of human emotion, to create a heartrendingly beautiful love story that will live on long after the final page is turned.

What I Thought: I liked this one but it did drag on a bit, and over 600 pages. The slowness didn't stop me from needing to find out if Alexander and Tatiana got back together though. I won't spoil that part for you. While The Bronze Horseman was filled with despair (that got tedious), Tatiana and Alexander had a more hopeful bent to it. I also just ordered the last installment so, I think that speaks highly of my wanting to find out how their saga ends. If you liked Bronze Horseman, you'll like this one too.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pumpkin Beers......again

I think it's clear by now I'm a woman on a mission. Two more pumpkin libations this week.

I've never tried any of Dogfish Head's regular beer but I've had my eye on their Punkin Ale since last year. That was a time when I though $8.99 was too much to spend on a 4 pack. My how things have changed.

From the website: A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. As the season cools, this is the perfect beer to warm up with.

This was a winner! The flavor profile was more spice than pumpkin but I still really enjoyed it. It was closer to the top of the pack. Give it a try if you can find it. Sells out fast!

I am a big fan of hard ciders of the apple variety. There's something so crisp and refreshing about a good cider that I just can't turn it down. We had already purchased our weekly beers when we spotted this Pumpkin Cider. One knowing glance meant that we didn't care if we overbought. It was $9.99 for the six and hails from Ace Ciders out of California. I've never tried anything by them before but they have a number of various fruit ciders for sale.

This has an amazingly pure pumpkin flavor and is filled with effervescence. Can you see the bubbles in my picture? Lower in calorie than beer too! And gluten free, if that's your kind of thing. We've been nursing these along because they're so darn tasty. If you can find this one, and I've only seen it in one place, snap it up! You won't be sorry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

August Running Round-Up

My apologies for the belatedness of this running post. I know you were all on the edge of your seats wondering how my runs played out in the month of August. Please forgive me!

Aug 4: 4 mi OT in 44:00, ???
Aug 7: 4 mi TM in 35:14, 9:45/9:00/8:23/8:06, tightness
Aug 8: 2 mi TM in 17:09
Aug 11: 4 mi OT in 38:00, that's more like it
Aug 12: 6 mi OT in 57:00, longest OT run ever, 9:30 pace 
Aug 14: 4 mi TM on 36:12, 9:51/9:15/8:46/8:20, decent 
Aug 15: 1.3 mi in 11:30, tired
Aug 18: 3.1 mi TM in 30:00, stiff
Aug 19: 7 mi OT in 1:18, first half strong, 2nd half painful
Aug 21: 4.5 mi TM in 39:56, 9:30/9:04/9:00/8:??- tough
Aug 22: 1 mi TM in 8:58
Aug 27: 8 mi TM in 1:18:12, had to stop a lot, felt weird
Aug 29: 4.5 mi in 41:00, 2 OT in 18:45, 2.5 TM

Total: 53.4 miles

Yea hooray!!! I went over 50 miles. Actually, this is the most miles I've run in a month ever. I felt like there were a few days of good running mojo but there were definitely also some clunkers in there. I completeld my longest run yet at 8 miles but it was broken up. After the first 2 miles, I felt really nauseous and had to take a break for about 10 minutes. Then I ran the last 6, plus it was all treadmill. Less than 6 weeks until the half marathon and my longest outdoor run thus far is 7 miles. So, I have some work to do but I'll get there. In other running news, I bought a new running skirt at The North Face outlet and it is rocking my world! The under shorts have special grippy things (technical term) that keep them in place and it has a handy zipper pouch in the back.


Also, in honor of my most recent weight loss goal, I treated myself to a Zippy Run tank from Lululemon. I didn't realize they had opened a store at the mall by my office and had to check out the hype for myself. It was greatly reduced to $24. It has 3 pockets in the back and the bra is adjustable. Also, I bought it in an 8, which made my day. I had to buy it in light pink. It was that or white and I thought the pink would last longer. We shall see.

And this month, the best song on my playlist was The Wanted's Chasing the Sun. Very peppy and uplifting! Also loving Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.

I'm posting this on a rest day but I'm typing it the day before my 9 miles outside. Wish me luck, retroactively!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Recipe Reblog

All summer, I've dreamed of harvesting a bushel of tomatoes and making tomato sauce to freeze and use all winter. Well, harvesting a bushel turned into picking the 9 red tomatoes available. This will have to do.

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Garlic Sauce: This recipe comes from Wolfgang Puck on the Food Network site so I figured it HAD to be good. I acquired a new skill too, peeling tomatoes. It was actually quite satisfying (though messy) to blanch them, dunk them in the ice bath and then peel. I worked really hard on this recipe. Way too hard for the 1 3/4 cups of sauce it yielded. I was so disappointed. That's not really even enough for 4 servings of spaghetti! Here's another thing, there's no salt in the recipe. Now, I'm not a salter but, hello Mr. Puck? What were you thinking? At first taste, it was quite bland. I wanted to cry. All my hard work for naught. I added some salt and that helped a little but it definitely didn't provide the miracle sauce I was dreaming of. At the end of the day, I'm glad I tried it. I froze what I made and we'll eat it at some point. But, I'm not holding onto this recipe. I'll try another one next summer........

P.S. Faithful Readers: Is my font too small for your liking? It's the default setting but I can make it bigger. Here is the above post in the next size up. See which you prefer and LET ME KNOW. I LOVE comments.

Fresh Tomato, Basil and Garlic Sauce: This recipe comes from Wolfgang Puck on the Food Network site so I figured it HAD to be good. I acquired a new skill too, peeling tomatoes. It was actually quite satisfying (though messy) to blanch them, dunk them in the ice bath and then peel. I worked really hard on this recipe. Way too hard for the 1 3/4 cups of sauce it yielded. I was so disappointed. That's not really even enough for 4 servings of spaghetti! Here's another thing, there's no salt in the recipe. Now, I'm not a salter but, hello Mr. Puck? What were you thinking? At first taste, it was quite bland. I wanted to cry. All my hard work for naught. I added some salt and that helped a little but it definitely didn't provide the miracle sauce I was dreaming of. At the end of the day, I'm glad I tried it. I froze what I made and we'll eat it at some point. But, I'm not holding onto this recipe. I'll try another one next summer........

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Second Street Market

Although downtown Dayton isn't the swankiest place to hang out, it does have a few little gems in the Gem City. A favorite of John's and mine is the Second Street Market. Run by the Metroparks, the market boasts many varied vendors and has something for everyone! We like to go on Saturday mornings to get breakfast and pick up veggies, spices, etc. However, we think we ought to go for lunch some day. There are a lot more interesting sounding lunch options available these days.

It's relatively small comparatively, if you're familiar with other large farm markets. Just one lane of stalls and vendors. But, it does have seating inside and out to enjoy all kinds of cuisine. Crepes, New Zealand meat pies, Thai, Eastern European, Mexican and so on. Open only on Thursday, Friday, Saturday though so plan accordingly.

And now, a brief photo tour.........

Sorry for the blurry shot. Hopefully you can see it's one long lane of vendors and booths. Please note: not air conditioned. Can get quite sticky in the summer. If you come in the main center entrance, you'll see mostly food options. Further down in either direction you'll find flowers, fruits, veggies, etc. All locally grown.

Looking for a pretzel the size of your head? There's a delicious bread stand with all kinds of breads, bagels, and all things wheat. Lots of free samples here too.

This dessert display case was new since the last time I visited. Too pretty to pass up, John ordered a pumpkin whoopie pie and I had the salted chocolate chip cookie. Both amazing. I mean. AMAZING. If you're looking for sweets, there was also a new toffee candy stand that was incredble and Sweet P's Ice pops with very inventive popsicle flavors. Lots of people were buying those, even at 9:00 am.

There's a large pottery vendor where the artist throws his clay right there for you to see. Also to enjoy a wine booth, salsa place, spices (BEST prices around), cheese, local meat, maple syrup, ECO friendly green items,   handmade soap, and a whole lot more!

There's also a stand with pet-related items and treats. This is the market kitty. Actually, I think she was up for adoption as there's a different one there every time. I wanted to pet her but she was just....too.....far to reach through the bars. Purr on, market kitty.

Flower vendors are numerous both inside and out. Outside you'll find more wild flower varieties. Inside they have everything you could want: roses, gerbera daisies, hydrangea, spider mums. And the prices are excellent!

Snapdragons? Best dollar I spent all day.

So should you find yourself downtown and looking for a little escape, check out the market. We've been dying to take any of our B&B guests (read: family members) there when they visit but the timing never seems to work out right. Someday.

And this has nothing to do with the market but it was too beautiful not to share. 

After we marketed in the morning, made meatball subs, watched football (Go Bobcats!!), scrubbed the oven for over an hour, and ran some miles, we went out to dinner with some friends.

Oh, sushi sushi!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This Week's Brews

Hi friends. One new pumpkin and a mixed bag for you too. Let's jump in, shall we!

This is Pumpkinhead by Shipyard. It retails for $8.99/6 pack. In my quest to find and try amazing pumpkin beers, I'm learning that sometimes I have to move further away from the breweries I normally test. Such is the case with Shipyard as I don't believe I've ever had anything from them before. I found this quite pumpkinny. However, what is really noticeable are all the spices. They're very up front and forward, nutmeg, clove, etc. You get more of the pumpkin on the back end. 

From the website: "crisp refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and a subtle spiced flavor." 

Well, not so subtle on the spice but worth a glass anyway.

This will be a bit difficult as the picture is from my iphone but I'll do my best on a quick, tasting note. I'm not sure what the theme this week was but we'll just go with it. Generous tastes are a buck a piece. 

From left to right......

Great Lakes Oktoberfest: I've had this before and I still like it. One of the more crisp Oktoberfests out there.

Newcastle Werewolf: This Irish Red that was just so so. The name was better than the beer. Drinkable but nothing special.

Rogue Mocha Porter: Mmmm, porter. If you like porters, this will not disappoint. Smoky and dark with a hint of mocha flavor. Probably the priciest by the 6 but definitely worth trying.

21st Amendment Hop Crisis: I tried this knowing full well I despise IPA. I should have known better with hop in the name. FAR too bitter for me but if you like IPA, the guy at the store said this one is a favorite and often sells out.

Brooklyn Brewery Monster Ale: This is a barley wine ale. It was easy drinking but also nothing to write home about. If you're going to get something from Brooklyn Brewery, get the Black Chocolate Stout. Thank me later.

For some reason, the bottle above was label-less, so here it is on its own.

Happy tasting everyone!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Maze Runner


The Maze Runner by James Dashner was recommended to me some time ago by a friend but it took me a long time to remember that I was supposed to read it. Looking for something suspenseful and easy, I borrowed it from the library.

Good Read’s Synopsis: "When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.


Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind"

What I Thought: Oh boy, I liked this one! Yes, it’s in the Young Adult genre. Please don’t let that deter you from reading a good, nail-biting story. It’s the first in a series of three and I’m so sad that I’m #2 on the hold list for the second one. Of course, the parallels between this and Hunger Games have to be drawn. They are essentially both dystopian fiction dealing with children placed in unimaginable situations. I liked Hunger Games more but Maze Runner holds its own with no trouble. Dashner does a great job developing characters without them knowing anything about themselves. Plot twists abound too. Almost every chapter ended with a DUN DUN DUN (say it out loud, ominously) moment. Can’t wait to pick up the next one!

Rating: * * * *

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Take the day off, all you workers. No laboring of any sort.

Back tomorrow with more reading fun!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Recipe Reblog

Oh boy, have I got something gooooood for you today!

Skinny Basil Pesto: I love pesto but pine nuts are so expensive that it's really a deterrent to my making it more often. This lightened version of pesto uses no nuts and I don't think it suffered whatsoever. Truthfully, I did use more oil than she recommends but mostly because I was using a blender and not a food processor. The basil flavor here is so fresh (I used basil from my garden!) and really plays the starring role. Only a few ingredients and I had them all on hand. Basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, EVOO, salt and pepper. Please give this a shot. MUCH tastier than the jarred stuff and healthier too!

Now take the pesto, your favorite dough (storebought or homemade), fresh peaches and mozzarella and make a......

Yes - this pic is crappy

Peach Pesto Pizza!

John was really skeptical of this one but I prevailed. You're welcome, John! I had an event to go to while he ate and when I came home he said, "You're lucky I didn't eat that whole pizza." Ah-MAZING!