Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reading for RIP X

I was really worried about how many books I would be able to read this Halloween season. This whole going-back-to-school things has totally cut into my reading game. But I have managed. Not only have I managed, I still have two weeks and I have already reached my four book goal.

A quick rundown:

Jackaby by William Ritter
The Chicago Tribune blurbed this as being "Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and I was all: Yes please! While it turned out to be less badass chick Buffy and more Sherlock Holmes with a dose of supernatural (a heavy dose, mind you), I still enjoyed the story and am excited to read the sequel that was recently released. Although, I think I'm going to save it as a nice treat for next Halloween.

Miss Peregrine's House for Particular Children by Ransom Riggs
I'm so glad I finally got to this one. I bought it when it was first released (I actually own two copies, one signed) and started reading it last year but when I didn't finish before Halloween, I set it aside. I hadn't gotten very far into the book so I did a quick skim this year and dove back in. It was so good. The entire time I was wondering where the pictures came from (was it one giant random photo shoot?) and then at the end there was an author's note explaining that they were all procured from collectors with a special interest in weird old photos. (My translation of what was written.)

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Well this was a no-brainer, it's so pretty and it's by Neil Gaiman.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
This is the book of the season for me so far. I'm a total wimp so it is a bit strange that I love Halloween so much. The Dead House was just the right level of creep. I may have finished it late at night while I was home alone and called my husband in a sad whiny voice, "I just finished my book and now I'm creeped out," but I sucked it up. it was good guys.

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci
Cinderella has always been my favorite Disney princess, you add skeletons to that story and I am buying that book. Dunzo. It was adorable.

The only thing I haven't done yet is watch one of my Halloween movies, but I will remedy that in 5...4...3...2.............

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Well, I have been in a blogging slumber since...*checks last post*...January! Wow that's even longer than I was expecting. I have been watching you in my feed reader (that sounds way more creepy than I meant) but I have had so much going on I just didn't have the motivation to sit and post. Then, September 1st rolled in and was all awesome with its Fall/Halloween vibe, which is only my favorite time of year. So basically the RIP challenge has been the prince's kiss to bring me out of my slumber. RIP X is being hosted by The Estella Society this year and I am stoked about this perilous adventure.

Image by Abigail Larson
Since I now work at a bookstore (I know right, dreams really do come true) I basically walk around all day longingly stroking books I want to read. I have my eye on so many so many for these next two months but since I am also back in school I am going to keep them on the shorter side.

I'm hoping to accomplish Peril the First in which I read four books with that certain creep factor.

The list I am going to pull from includes:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I will also be taking part in Peril on the screen. I may be a big chicken, but I have an October tradition of Hocus Pocus and pumpkin candles that can't be broken. And I'll most likely throw in some Nightmare Before Christmas and maybe even Scream if I'm feeling crazy.

Yay! Can't wait!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Refresh

~currently involved with~ school. I am officially going back to school to get my teaching credential. It is super exciting but also causing me to suddenly be crazy busy since it was kind of last minute that I was able to work out the classes. I thought I was going to have to wait until next semester. This is happening at the same time that my second job is picking up and it's all good busy but it is still busy.

~taking with me~ books of course. I picked up a few books this week, some for school and some for fun. One was a complete surprise (you can read about that here, thanks Jenny for making me feel a little less guilty)

~moving on from~ being a procrastinator? Yeah right. My goal in life is to move on from this...we will see.

~quote of the week~

I have two this week from kids at high school I work.
"Sorry I called the school an oppressive fascist system. I was having a bad day."
Apologies are nice.
"I read and read so long my head hurts. Dude, it's like The Wolf of Wall Street."
I overheard this kid raving to his friend about a book he was reading. I never thought I would be so pleased about such an inappropriate book comparison. He was holding a copy of The Great Gatsby.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Moral Dilemma

Something happened to me today. I was faced with a decision, a moral dilemma. I had an opportunity.

Let me ask you a question. If you were at your bookstore and they forgot to charge you for a book would you let them know? Yes, I know you would because you are decent people and don't want to take a free book at the expense of someone else. I would do the right thing too in this instance. But what if...

What if you got a call from this bookstore telling you that the book you pre-ordered, Fairest by Marissa Meyer, had come in and was ready for you to pick-up? Now, you think to yourself that you must be confused because Fairest doesn't come out until next week. You even check online just to make sure you didn't miss a change in the release date. You go down to the bookstore and they grab your book from the hold shelf and take your money and smile. Do you take the book and leave the store as quickly as possibly without looking like a crazy person crossing your fingers that they don't realize their mistake before you can get to your car? I hope you said yes, because that's what I did.

And that is how I ended up with a copy of Fairest a week before it is actually released. 

Shhh...don't tell. I hope that at some point in your life this happens to you. It's somehow different than receiving an ARC (maybe because I know it's a little bit bad). It's like I woke up on Thanksgiving and found Santa putting presents at the foot of my bed. 

What would you have done?

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

I am officially signing up for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge put on by Roof Beam Reader. My TBR shelf is out of control and this challenge has been calling my name, I just needed to decide on the books I wanted on my list. So here it is:

  1. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (2012) (yeah, bought this the day it came out and still haven't read it)
  2. Princess by Jean Sasson (2001) (I drooled over this in the bookstore for a year or two when I lived in NC and finally bought it in CA and still haven't read it)
  3. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)
  4. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (2011)
  5. An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley (2010)
  6. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer (2013)
  7. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (2013)
  8. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012)
  9. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (2011)
  10. Chime by Franny Billingsley (2011)
  11. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002)
  12. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817)
  1. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (2008)
  2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (2009)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

You know how they say to order things at a restaurant that your wouldn't/can't make at home? Well for me, that's chicken. I hate cooking chicken. Everything from buying it at the store to preparing it and then making the final judgement that it is cooked enough not to kill you. I've been known to take a breast from the grill and microwave it for good measure. When cooking at home, I take my chicken dry and my veggies al-dente.

The counter completely scares me after chicken has been prepared on it and don't even get me started on the sink. Needless to say, I rarely cook chicken. I'd much rather go vegetarian than deal with the stress. But it's a new year and I have new diet requirements. It's time to put my big girl panties on.

So, let's get cooking. Firstly, I got my rice all cooked up. Once it was to the sit-for-ten-minutes stage I threw some garlic oil in a pan. Seriously, garlic olive oil is my homie.

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, put them in hot oil on med-high heat and quickly clean up all the nasty chicken cutting-board and knife. Place board in dishwasher scald knife, sanitize counter, wash hands, sanitize counter, and wash hands once more.

Cook them on the highest heat you can without splattering.

Cut onion and broccoli.

When chicken is fully browned, add onion. Cook until onion is golden and chicken is fully cooked. Add broccoli. At this point I decided to add a few mushrooms too.

There are two types of people in this world: those who wash their mushrooms and those who wipe them off. I am a wiper, my mom is a washer. Now, technically speaking, the washers are...well...wrong. Sorry washers. But they grow on POOP, you washers are saying. I know, I know. My theory is that if they gross you out that much do you really think a little water is really going to help? How is it I manage to be a wiper and can't handle cooking chicken? I'm a complex person. You washers will be getting no judgement from me, just keep in mind that there is going to be a little more water in the pan to cook out.

So, this is where I got really excited because I was about to add my newly purchased gluten-free teriyaki sauce. I seriously thought I would never be able to have teriyaki again. SO EXCITED! Happy dance.

Side note: this is shockingly close to what my actual happy dance looks like. I'm not embarrassed. I rock that shit.

Ok, saute. Now that all your ingredients are in your pan, cook them up all nice. This didn't take very long for me. A few minutes and a good stir to coat everything. I did add a splash of water to give the broccoli some steam without over-saucing. Shut up Washers, I don't want to hear it.

Chicken and Broccoli stir-Fry
gluten-free, dairy-free

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut to bite-size pieces)
1 small onion
1 head broccoli (I used broccolettes)
5 Baby Bellas (or other mushroom)
4 Tbsp Gluten-Free Teriyaki Sauce
pinch of sesame seeds

1. Heat oil over med/high heat
2. Add chicken and brown
3. Add diced onion
4. When chicken is fully cooked, add broccoli, mushroom, and teriyaki. Add a splash of water if needed to soften broccoli
5. Place over rice and finish with sesame seeds

2 servings steamed rice

My recommendation for cooking rice:
Take 3/4 C white rice, rinse until water is clear (usually 2-3 times), add 1.5 C water, cover, bring to boil, simmer 20 minutes, let sit 10 minutes. DON'T remove lid until ready to serve.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Layouts and Recipes

Face-lift in progress
I am going to be playing with the layout of my blog over the next few...days/week/month? Hopefully not a month. If you pop over and find it all kerfundled (is that a word? I feel like it's a word, or I feel like it's not a word and I really want it to be), it may be that I have succumbed to anti-blogger gremlins. Send help...and cookies. I'm really in the mood for cookies.

Which brings me to another topic I wanted to talk about. It's possible you may be seeing more recipes/food things popping up over here. This is mostly due to the fact that I am working out a new diet. I have struggled with "stomach issues" for years. The doc has labeled it IBS but I am still working out all the details of what that means for my body. Over the years, I have gotten more of a handle on what I can and can't eat but it's not perfect.

I recently started getting acupuncture to work on a few issues. One of which is my IBS but the main push for me was that I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year. I'm about to start testing for fertility issues but a few people recommended acupuncture so I decided to try. It can't hurt, right? Anyway, my acupuncturist recommended that I go gluten-free for my stomach and for fertility. I have had many people tell me to stop eating gluten over the years to help my stomach but bread is my life. I mean, come on stomach, you've already taken cheese away from me. But if I'm going to try, now is the time. So, I'm giving it a go for a few months and then I'll reassess and hopefully I'll bring bread back into my life.

It's been interesting so far. I was at my brother's house and I ate a corn chip with guacamole that was too spicy. As I was breathing through the pain, his girlfriend helpfully shoved a piece of bread in my mouth. Just as my tongue began to cool, it hit me "I'm not eating gluten!"

She looked at me funny and then laughed. "I don't think the beer you just drank was gluten-free."

Dammit! Of course it wasn't, but I wasn't thinking about that when I popped it open.

The point is, it's been a process of learning/remembering. Luckily, There are a ton of recipes out there that I have been tweaking to make more to my liking (which usually means leaving out steps/ingredients). I may share a few here, I may even have one coming up tomorrow.

Thanks for listening while I got a bit personal. Anyone out there who is newly struggling with IBS, I am happy to give help and pointers where I can.