If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I? ~ E.Y. Harburg

As if I need another reason to tout the wonder that is kayak.com… today I received yet greater confirmation that using this website to help me find the best price on our flight to Reno was the best idea my step-sis ever gave me.  See that giant dip in the graph?  Yeah, we bought then.  Our tickets were $290pp.  That’s nearly half price off of the current price!  Whoo hoo! 

Kayak

“Yes, frosting. The final defense of the dying.” ~ Peeta in The Hunger Games

It’s official.

I’ve been sucked in.

I mentioned before that I read the Twilight books and loved them.  I stumbled onto the first one accidentally long before it became the huge money-maker that it is now.  The Hunger Games, though, is a competely different story.  I hadn’t even heard a whole lot of the hooplah until I heard the movie was coming out.  Guess I’m a bit behind the times.  Anywho, a friend from work loaned me her copy of the first book.  I started it last night at 9pm and I’m already done with it (currently 3:55pm the following day).  So… that’s something like 350 pages in less than 24 hours… and obviously I slept somewhere in there… and went to work… and showered… and ate breakfast… and lunch.  Basically that means I read the book with the same fervor that I read the first Twilight book (like reading half a page at red lights).  In fact, I liked it enough that I’m going to go to Barnes and Noble today after work to pick up the series (something I just swore in a previous post that I wouldn’t do).  I’d posted on my Facebook a couple of days ago that I was thinking about reading the book and lots and lots of my friends chimed in and said that it was great and blah blah.  I truly remember thinking ‘it can’t be that good’ but I was wrong.  It is.  If they stick to the book pretty closely (which most of the reviews I’ve read say that they did) then the movie should be pretty awesome.  I just hope it’s not super gorey.  Anywho, if you haven’t read it you totally should.  It’s worth it.  Then you can become a pod person like the rest of us.  

The Hunger Games (book 1)

Book Review: Charade by Sandra Brown

Charade by Sandra Brown

I don’t know how Sandra Brown has never been on my radar before considering that I love suspense books and how fabulous of a writer she is.  I absolutely couldn’t put this book down.  I started reading it on Saturday while we were out camping with friends and made it a little more than halfway through.  Sunday night I read the rest except for about 50 pages that I finished on my lunch break Monday.  I cannot wait to read some more of her books.  They are unputdownable.  If you haven’t read her before I highly recommend that you do. 

Here’s the synopsis of the book as provided by Amazon.

A medical miracle gives TV personality Cat Delaney more than a new heart. With her second chance at life Cat trades Hollywood for San Antonio, where she hosts a TV show for children with special needs. Here she meets Alex Pierce, an ex-cop turned crime writer-and the first man to see her as a woman since her surgery. But her new world turns sinister when fatal “accidents” begin killing other heart recipients, and a mysterious stalker starts shadowing her every move. Soon Cat realizes Alex may-or may not-be her most important ally and that her new heart comes at a terrible price: a tangled web of secrets and someone determined to take her life.

A friend loaned me the first Hunger Games book so that’s the next thing that I’m going to read.  I won’t buy it full price and Half Price Books is totally sold out so I’ll have to pick them up at a later date.  I don’t know why I can’t seem to get into the hype about these books.  I mean, I read the Twilight series, long before all the hype started (the first book at least), and they were fantastic.  I’m hoping that these will be just as good or, if nothing else, that the movies will be better because the Twilight movies just didn’t do the books justice in my opinion.

Makes me wanna grab you, honey, Tear down some two lane country, who knows, Get lost and get right with my soul, Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road ~ “Take a Back Road” by Rodney Atkins

Take a Back Road by Rodney Atkins

Sit in that six lane backed up traffic
Honks are honking, I’ve about had it
I’m looking for an exit sign
Gotta get out of here, get it all off my mind

And like a memory from your grandpa’s attic
A song comes slippin’ through the radio static
Changing my mood
A little George Strait 1982

And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long

Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two lane country, who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road

I’ve been cooked up, fried down, about forgotten
What a field looks like, full of corn and cotton
If I’m gonna hit a traffic jam
Well, it better be a tractor man

So sick and tired of this interstate system
I need a curvin’, windin’, twistin’
Dusty path to nowhere
With the wind blowing through my baby’s hair

Yeah, it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long

Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two lane country, who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road
Some old back road

Maybe it’s the feeling or maybe it’s the freedom
Maybe it’s that shady spot
Where we park the truck when the things get hot
Girl, we park the truck when the things get hot

And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long

Makes me wanna grab you, honey
Tear down some two lane country, who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna take a back road

Some old back road, get back with my soul
And all I gotta do is take some old back road
To the shady spot where things get hot, girl
Way down, way down, way down some old back road

So you may or may not be a country music person but the hubs and I took a trip this weekend and it was just a country music sort of weekend so we listened to it in the car the whole time.  We heard this song on the way up there and totally agreed with every word.  I don’t think either of us realized how much we needed this weekend away to unwind from it all. 

I have some friends who are brothers (to each other) and basically like older adopted brothers to me.  My mom practically raised them through their teenage years and we’ve all remained really close.  I love them dearly.  Anyways, they’re members of a member-only campground up near Huntsville and we’ve gone up a few times to hang out with them (they all have RVs) and spend a weekend soaking up the fresh air and sunshine.  Usually, there’s a huge group of us (about 30+) because not only are they members but most of their friends are members too.  Most of the time it’s just one big party.  This time, however, with Spring Break being week before last, it was quiet and peaceful at the campground.  It was just the hubs and myself, and my two ‘adopted’ brothers (and the pup).  We arrived late in the evening Friday and chatted for a while and then crashed.  We were up bright and early Saturday morning and spent the day garage sale-ing in a local neighborhood.  The 5 of us (including the dog), loaded in our friends golf cart and spent the day looking for the next great deal.  The hubs and I picked up some books (as per usual) and I also picked up some nifty brass storks that will make great ring holders, some drawer pulls, and some awesome wrought iron owl trivets that are just freaking adorable.  I wish I’d had a camera with me (or even a working one on my phone) so I could have taken a picture of my pup in the golf cart.  She was SO CUTE!  I rode up front with one of my ‘brothers’ and the dog rode in between us.  After the first two hours or so she finally decided to lay down on the floor, rest her head on one of my feet and stick it half way out the side of the golf cart to get the wind in her face.  It was honesty a great pet-mom moment and I’ll probably remember it forever.  We had lunch at a ‘family biker bar’ that had great hamburgers and dinner at the local Mexican restaurant (which left a lot to be desired but it was really our own fault because we didn’t follow our hosts recommended menu suggestions).  That night we basically went to bed kind of early because we were all pretty tired from garage sale=ing all day and we were all a little sunburned too. 

Sunday we packed up and headed home pretty early.  Once home, the hubs and I unpacked and then headed out to run some errands.  We didn’t do much exciting stuff but we did pick up the necessary ingredients to make the BBQ Chicken Caesar salad for dinner and mmmmm was it good. 

All in all it was a fantastic weekend.  I came back rested, relaxed, and totally in head over heels love with my husband again.  I cannot wait for our next quiet weekend in the woods.

My lucky numbers are: 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 16, 24, 26, 29, 31, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50

So a friend from work picked up Chinese food for us for lunch.  My meal came with FOUR fortune cookies.  I love fortune cookies so naturally I ate them… all four of them.  I thought that my fortunes were rather interesting though…

‘Be prepared to accept a wondrous opportunity in the days ahead!’   (I can only hope)

‘Excitement and intrigue follow you closely wherever you go!’   (Yes, normally in the form of ace bandages, Band-Aids or trips to the ER accompanied by various curious onlookers)

‘Life always gets harder near the summit.’   (Assuming that by summit they mean goal then yes, life is definitely harder right now as the hubs and I are working extremely furiously to reach our current debt-free goal.)

‘Your love of life can carry you through any circumstance.’   (I cannot tell you how much I wish this were the case.  I’m quite the Negative Nancy and find myself struggling to live this way on a daily basis.)

Source

 

Book Review: Icon by Frederick Forsyth

Icon by Frederick Forsyth

So I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I love to read and that I’m also not very particular about what I read.  Basically I’ll read anything I can get my hands on.  A while back I bought a ton of books at a garage sale for dirt cheap.  I started ‘Icon’ several weeks ago and while it normally doesn’t take me long to read a book, I found myself struggling to maintain my usual pace with this book. 

The first half of the book is practically all Russian history.  Not being much of a history buff myself that was a little hard to swallow.  The second half is more interesting and there’s some action starting but most of the real ‘fun stuff’ is in about the last eighth of the book.  All in all, it’s a great book if you love history and spy games and lots and lots of details.  If you just want to get lost in a story, it’s probably not the one for you.  I know this is a book my dad would appreciate so that’s where it’s headed next. 

How about you guys?  Read anything interesting lately? 

Synopsis of book (found on Amazon.com)

From the master of the novel of international intrigue comes a riveting new book as timely and unsettling as tomorrow’s headlines.

It is summer 1999 in Russia, a country on the threshold of anarchy.  An interim president sits powerless in Moscow as his nation is wracked by famine and inflation, crime and corruption, and seething hordes of the unemployed roam the streets.

For the West, Russia is a basket case.  But for Igor Komarov, one-time army sergeant who has risen to leadership of the right-wing UPF party, the chaos is made to order.  As he waits in the wings for the presidential election of January 2000, his striking voice rings out over the airwaves offering the roiling masses hope at last–not only for law, order, and prosperity, but for restoring the lost greatness of their land.

Who is this man with the golden tongue who is so quickly becoming the promise of a Russia reborn?  A document stolen from party headquarters and smuggled to Washington and London sends nightmare chills through those who remember the past, for this Black Manifesto is pure Mein Kampf in a country with frightening parallels to the Germany of the Weimar Republic.

Officially the West can do nothing, but in secret a group of elder statesmen sends the only person who can expose the truth about Komarov into the heart of the inferno.  Jason Monk, ex-CIA and “the best damn agent-runner we ever had,” had sworn he would never return to Moscow, but one name changes his mind.  Colonel Anatoli Grishin, the KGB officer who tortured and murdered four of Monk’s agents after they had been betrayed by Aldrich Ames, is now Komarov’s head of security.

Monk has a dual mission: to stop Komarov, whatever it takes, and to prepare the way for an icon worthy of the Russian people.  But he has a personal mission as well: to settle the final score with Grishin.  To do this he must stay alive–and the forces allied against him are ruthless, the time frighteningly short….

I don’t think America will have really made it until we have our own salad dressing. Until then we’re stuck behind the French, Italians, Russians and Caesarians. ~ Pat McNelis

So I’m sure this is pretty standard for basically everyone but have you ever noticed how the crazier your life gets the worse you eat?  When you’re blowing and going at 90 miles an hour for weeks on end and you find yourself eating whatever is convenient and takes the least time… know what I mean?  Well, that’s been me for about the last two months.  Now that I’m working two jobs I have exactly zero time to cook or even to chop.  So, that means we’re not eating very good food in our house right about now.  The hubs and I talked about it and I asked him if he’d make salad a few times a week so I can have that when I come home at 10pm for dinner instead of popping a frozen pizza in the oven.  Fortunately, he agreed.  Now, however, I’m worried about the boredom factor.  You see, I don’t really like to eat the same thing twice in one week.  It just gets on my taste bud nerves.  So, I’ve been thinking about all of the different kinds of salads that we could make.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Our ‘house salad’ – lettuce (romaine, spinach, spring mix, other baby lettuces), carrots, cucumbers, celery, broccoli cole slaw, sugar snap/snow peas, radishes, and sometimes coleslaw mix (I then add croutons & Italian dressing for me)
  2. My olive & nut salad – our ‘house salad’ with black olives, green olives, roasted & salted sunflower seeds, ranch almonds, olive oil, a little cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
  3. Spinach salad – baby spinach, thinly sliced button mushrooms, red bell pepper, roasted & salted sunflower seeds, balsamic vinaigrette
  4. My Greek salad – spring mix, cucumber, tomatoes, purple onion, kalamata olives, parmesan or feta cheese, black pepper, lemon juice
  5. BBQ Caesar Salad – romaine lettuce, chicken breasts marinated in Caesar dressing & cooked on the BBQ, croutons, parmesan cheese (I don’t add any dressing to the salad)

Barbecued Chicken Caesar Salad

source

That’s all I can come up with though.  I’m not a big fan of meat in my salad except for chicken.  I also don’t really care for fruit in my salad. 

So… what kind of salads do you guys eat?  Anything I should try?

“And, all over the state, it’s hot—darned hot. How hot, you ask? Hotter than a stolen tamale. Hotter than a honeymoon hotel. Hotter than a fur coat in Marfa.” ~ found in Texas Monthly

Is anyone else besides me totally torn about the weather changes and early spring we’re getting here in H-town?  I’m thrilled with all of the lovely flowers that are starting to really show their stuff and I’m super excited for swimming weather being right around the corner.  That being said, I sorta feel like we got jipped on our winter this year and I HATE being hot and I’m ALWAYS hot when it’s over 75 degrees.  This morning it was 77 in our house and as I was making my morning smoothie I was literally wiping sweat from my brow.  Grrrr.  See, when you’re cold, you can always add another blanket but when you’re hot… well… there’s only so much clothing you can take off (in public) and only so much that is possible to take off (in private).  And I’m not gonna lie, I’m concerned about just how hot it’s going to get this summer.  I mean, last year we actually had a winter but we still had a zillion days during the summer without rain and over 100 degrees.  This year we didn’t have a winter… so is that a bad omen?  It’s already in the 80s and it’s only March.  I don’t want 80s until May.  We basically lost our entire lawn last year to the drought.  We put down weed n’ feed in one patch last week to kill the weeds and guess what?  There was no actual GRASS under the weeds.  So now we just have dead weeds.  And we have to re-sod.  And I’m wondering if it’s worth it if we’re gonna have another ridiculous drought this year.  Maybe we should just put down fake grass?  Wonder what our HOA rules say about that…

I miss winter.

How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo? ~ Jacques Plante

It was a pretty good weekend all things considered except for the fact that it marked the end of my week-long vacation from my second job.  I’m so not looking forward to working after work today.  Boo hiss.

Friday night I got together with some wonderful ladies for dinner.  The four of us have a monthly rotating girls night at our various houses.  It’s fun and a good chance to catch up.  It was nice to have some girl time.

Saturday the hubs and I helped my mom move some of her stuff out of the house (my part of helping was assisting in getting the mattress & box spring down the stairs and into the hubs’ truck).  Truthfully the hubs did 98% of the work while I putzed around the house and got a few things accomplished.  The hubs also started tearing out the now dead weed patch (former lawn) in the backyard.  About 5pm we headed out to The Woodlands to celebrate one of my very bestest friends birthdays.  On the way, we stopped at the Sonic by our house to grab a drink for the road.  I got a Dr. Pepper.  It’s the only soda I like and since I don’t drink soda very often (less than once a month) I decided to get one because I LOVE Sonic ice.  Anywho, we made it to the birthday BBQ and had some fun with my girlfriend and her friends and family.  I’m such a lucky girl to have good friends.  Anyway, while we were there I kept eyeballing this hot dog and while my brain wanted it, every time I seriously considered eating it my tummy said ‘nope.’  So, I passed on the hot dog and ate a few grape tomatoes and baby carrots instead.  Well, fast forward 5 hours and the hubs and I are on the way home and basically from the moment I stood up from the chair I’d planted my butt in for the party I knew something was wrong.  I felt nauseous and sort of dizzy.  We’d barely made it out of their subdivision before I told the hubs I might have to pull over to puke.  Fortunately, I made it allll the way home (nearly an hour drive) before I finally lost it.  I spent the next few hours laying on our living room sofa watching reruns of Criminal Minds and repeatedly running to the sink.  No bueno.  Upon reflection the hubs and I realized that the last time we went to Sonic for drinks (a few months ago) I also go violently ill after drinking a Dr. Pepper.  I’ve had Dr. Pepper since then (in cans, other restaurants, etc) so I’m fairly certain it’s not the soda itself… I think it’s the soda fountain at the Sonic by our house.  I think perhaps that their soda lines haven’t been cleaned in a while and they’re growing something that my tummy is definitely not a fan of.  So, it’ll be a looooong time before we go back to that Sonic. 

Sunday I slept in (since I didn’t actually crawl into bed nauseated and drugged up on leftover anti-nausea pills from my kidney stone debacle two years ago until the wee-pre-dawn hours of the morning).  When I woke up I was seriously groggy and the tummy was a little wonky but not nearly as unhappy as the night before.  The hubs was outside laying sod in the backyard (he got a serious gold star this weekend) so I laid on the couch and nursed my icky tummy.  Several puke-free hours later I felt well enough for the hubs and I to go ahead and go to our scheduled date night.  This month, we went to see the Houston Aeros (vs. Oklahoma City) hockey game.  It was fun and a nice way to spend an evening out.  The Aeros even won too (2-1).  It’s like they knew we were there or something.  I even managed to keep down hockey game food which was super nifty.  All in all a very successful date night.

“A minister asked a little boy how to get to the Post Office. After the little boy told him, the minister said, Why don’t you come to church tonight? I’m giving instructions on how to get to heaven. After thinking a minute, the boy replied, I don’t think so. You don’t even know how to get to the Post Office.” ~ Unknown

What a fun afternoon I had Wednesday.

 I left work to go to the post office to mail off my Craft Hope bags.  I’m a terrible picture taker but I promise they were really cute even though the pictures don’t really show how adorable they were.  I had originally intended on making 2, one for a boy and one for a girl.  Then I decided to make 4, two for boys and two for girls, then I went to Joann’s and found some fabric in the remnant bin that was really cute and decided to make 6, three for boys and three for girls (are we seeing a trend here?).  Then life got in the way what with working 2 jobs and trying to still maintain our ‘normal’ life and I ended up only getting 3 bags done.  So, that’s 1 more than my original goal, 1 less than my first modified goal and half of my second modified goal.  Do I care that I didn’t make 6 bags?  Nope.  I made three, they rock, and they’re going to a good cause.  So go me.  I made one Rocker Bag with some nifty electric guitar fabric I found and added a pocket that’s lined with metal stud trim.  I made a Monster Bag with what is my favorite fabric of the three and added a pocket with an embroidered monster on it.  Last but not least I made a Pink Skulls bag (which my mom hates but I think a teenager will love) and added a pocket with an embroidered pink skull and crossbones.  All in all I’m really proud of myself.  I made one bag via the pattern I was using, didn’t like it, and decided to change it (and my wonderful hubs was nice enough to seam rip the entire thing for me).  So, I decided to line it (with felt) and add a pocket… neither of which were on the pattern.  Everything turned out good and I actually created three functional and attractive kids bags WITH POCKETS!  Whoo hoo!  I hope that there are some wonderful pediatric cancer patients out there who love them. 

While I was at the post office mailing the Craft Hope bags I also mailed some Easter goodies to my nephews in Guam and mailed some cards to some friends.  I love sending random gifts to people.  It makes me happy.  So keep your eye out, it may have just been YOU!

Afterwards I went to get a pedicure.  I usually get one every three weeks but I’ve been so exhausted on the weekends from working 2 jobs that I missed my last appointment which means it’s been 6 weeks since the last one I had.  My toes were looking pretty gnarly.  They even had to use a cheese grater on the bottoms of my feet for the calluses.  Parmesan cheese anyone?  (gross, I know)  Anywho, while I was there I got to chatting with the nail tech about this ‘new’ (more like new-to-me) manicure that everyone is talking about… the Shellac manicure.  Turns out the nail place I go to has been doing it for about a year and a half and I’m just oblivious.  So, I decided to try it.  The premise behind it is that the color is painted on (like a regular manicure would be) and then your nails cure under a UV lamp.  After a few minutes, they’re rock hard which is fantastic because you don’t have to worry about messing up the manicure when you’re trying to get your checkbook out of your purse to pay for said manicure.  Supposedly it’ll last for at least 2 weeks, chip-free.  I NEVER paint my nails because they chip within the first 24 hours and that just irritates the poop out of me.  A chip-free manicure that isn’t acrylic and damaging?  Bring it.  So, my plan is to wait to form a judgment until 3 weeks have passed and I go to get another pedicure.  If they still look pretty good after 3 weeks, then I’ll probably get it done again.  What I will say is that it takes a very skilled technician to do it right.  It’s not normal nail polish, it’s more like a gel and it goes on kinda wonky so it takes someone who knows what they’re doing to get it to go on smoothly.  I’m not so sure that my girl was skilled enough.  If I have it done again, I’ll ask for a different technician.  However, the hubs repeatedly told me how sexy it was to see my nails painted.  I don’t think they’ve ever been painted in the entirety of our relationship… not even for our wedding.  So that was kinda cool. 

I got home about 7pm and the hubs was at the neighbor’s house helping install a new water heater.  Apparently theirs up and died on them a few days ago.  He got done a little after 8 and we sat in the living room and watched my favorite show (Criminal Minds).  All in all, it was a very nice afternoon.