Friday, May 25, 2012

Furry Friday

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One of Lily's favorite activities is "helping" me on sheet-washing day. She loves to play in the sheets, especially the fitted one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends! I have some exciting news this week. I finally joined the ranks of... um... every other girl ever... and got a pedicure this weekend! Will I be going back for more? Maybe. Is it worth it to pay a rather lot of money for someone to mess with my feet when I can do it myself for free? Maybe. I have to admit, it was soooo nice to feel pampered. I've never had any kind of spa service before, except for a couple's massage on my honeymoon, and it was sorta... blissful! And my nails do look fantastic; the lady used all kinds of frightening tools and got rid of the nasty dead skin and whatnot. Sigh... Can I go back tomorrow?

Oh wait, I'll be in Colorado tomorrow! I'm so excited for my week-long trip home for my brother's high school graduation. Kohls and Penney's and Hobby Lobby and Jimmy John's and Red Robin and mountain air, here I come!

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My pedicure! That's me on the left and my friend Jessie on the right.

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Last week I mentioned that I did a major closet clean-out. This old pink sweater was on the verge of the "donate" pile, but I tried wearing it in a different way -- open and with a belt rather than buttoned up -- and it kinda worked. Keep or donate?

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Book Review: "Home Front"

"Home Front" by Kristin Hannah
First published in 2012
My rating: 3 out of 5
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I have such mixed feelings about "Home Front," a novel that explores what happens to a family when Jolene -- wife, mother, and Army National Guard helicopter pilot -- is unexpectedly deployed to Iraq. I originally picked it up because I thought I would be able to relate, seeing as I'm an Air Force wife and my husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Not so fast. I imagine reading this for me was a little bit like a New York City newspaper reporter or a Hollywood producer reading a novel in which the characters in the books are newspaper reporters or movie producers. It's so hard to write what you haven't experienced yourself, and despite the fact that Hannah clearly got guidance from some military members, she still didn't get things right.

In fact, she's so off-base about a few specific things that I nearly gave up on the book altogether. Jolene's 12-year-old daughter Betsy is absolutely mortified that her mother is a helicopter pilot and is in the military. None of the other kids have moms in the military, she says, and at the beginning of the book she passionately pleads with Jolene not to humilate her by going to her school's career day. Throughout the book, Betsy persists with this kind of maddening behavior. I call BS. Perhaps it's because I've been around the military all my life, but this is something I just cannot fathom. I can understand children being ambivalent or apathetic about their parents' military career and upset about a deployment, sure, but to be embarrassed and ashamed? I can assure you that if this ever happens, it's seldom.

On top of that, Jolene's husband has never supported her military service, feels emasculated by her strength and independence, is not proud of her for serving her country, is angry at her for deploying and leaving him to care for their two daughters, and is complete jerk about the whole thing. Apparently, her continued service has caused him to fall out of love with her, and he tells her so right before she heads off to spend the most dangerous year of her life in Iraq. It's slightly easier for me to imagine this scenario, but it's certainly not commonplace.

Furthermore, Jolene and her family appear to be completely baffled that her unit is being deployed to Iraq. But in a post-9/11 world, deployment is just an accepted part of military service. It should hardly come as a shock, especially since Jolene is a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

And (just let me vent about one more issue here) something else that got under my skin was Hannah's usage of the phrase "off to war" about 9,999 times. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone associated with the military say that in actual conversation... and my husband is actually "off to war"!

Are you jumping out of your chair to go out and buy this book now? Probably not. But don't let me dissaude you entirely. Beyond the inaccuracies (which to me were kind of a slight to the military family -- the spouses and kids who generally behave in a completely different fashion from Hannah's negative portrayal), the story wasn't all that bad. Predictable and sad, but readable. It will give readers who don't know much about the military some insight into deployment and the military lifestyle. And, while the ending isn't exactly happy, all the characters end up redeeming themselves.

Kristin Hannah has been on my authors-to-try list for a while. Though this book left me seething a bit, I may give her one more try. I'll just make sure to pick a book that's centered around a topic I'm not living out in my daily life!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha and happy Wednesday! I'm about to go home for a visit and my mom suggested I look through my closet to see if I have any clothes I'd like to bring to sell in my family's summer yard sale. The real idea is that packing stuff that stays in Colorado will ensure I have plenty of room in my suitcase for all the things I'm going to buy in Colorado!

In case you haven't noticed, I'm in desperate need of some new sandals. Seeing as I live in Hawaii, that's pretty much all I wear! But this year, every pair of sandals seems to have straps around the heel. Whatever happened to flip-flops? I'm all about comfort, and straps galore are definitely not comfortable. So my awesome mom went to Kohls and bought tons of non-strappy sandals for me to try on when I get home. Thanks, Mom! (We don't have Kohls in Hawaii, can you believe it?)

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits and get inspired by the hundreds of other WIWW participants. Have you ever looked at The Pleated Poppy shop? I have a petal drop necklace from the shop (which I wore twice this week) and I absolutely love it!

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*This is the first time I have ever had chili cheese fries and now they're all I can think about! They were soooooo good.
Top: Old Navy (super cheap clearance)
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Knitted rosette pin: made by me!
Earrings: Kohls
Fingerprint necklace: Fabuluster on Etsy
Shoes: Target

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This is one of the tops that's hovering on the edge of the yard sale pile. I've had it since college (I can hardly believe I graduated FIVE years ago this month?!) and I'm not sure it's particularly flattering. I tried it with a belt but wasn't sure I liked that either.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: "Death Comes to Pemberley"

"Death Comes to Pemberley" by P.D. James
First published in 2011
My rating: 4 out of 5
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It's pretty simple: if you're a fan of "Pride and Prejudice," you'll enjoy "Death Comes to Pemberley." Six years later, we catch up with all our old friends from the original -- Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham, Georgiana, Mr. Bennett -- and look over their shoulders as Pemberley becomes the center of a muder mystery.

The Darcys are happily settled at Pemberley with two sons in the nursery and their close friends the Bingleys a few miles away at Highmarten. On the eve of the annual Lady Anne's ball, an apparent murder (of one of the characters we know from "Pride and Prejudice") occurs on the Pemberley grounds. We're with the Darcys from the discovery of the body to the inquest to the trial and to the ultimate revelation of the truth.

While this is hardly a high-octane, fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat type of muder mystery, it's gripping all the same -- mostly, I think, because the main characters are ones near and dear to our hearts. The novel could easily have become slow and dry in parts and bogged down in antiquated langauge, but James deftly keeps readers crusing on through.

If you're a fan of Jane Austen or period pieces, I would definitely recommend this book. On the flip side, if you've never read "Pride and Prejudice" or seen a movie version, you'll likely have no idea what's going and find this to be a rather miserable read.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha! It's been a bit of a mixed week for me fashion-wise. Success: I chose two shirts that I hadn't worn in a while and made them feel fresh again. Not-so-successful: With the halfway exception of Sunday, I spent the rest of the week at work or in lounge clothes. But! I have an excuse! My air conditioner was out of commission from Friday night to Tuesday afternoon, and the last thing I wanted to do while baking in my sauna of a house was wear real clothes!

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I've had this shirt for several years and used to adore it, but every time I'd gone to wear it lately it just seemed too dull and colorless. Which is odd, because I typically love gray. So I decided to see if I could make it work, and instead of using the shirt as the centerpiece of the outfit I made it a background for my pink accessories. This shirt was working its way to the donate pile, but this outfit just may have put it back in my good graces.

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Book Review: "The Lost Years"

"The Lost Years" by Mary Higgins Clark
First published in 2012
My rating: 3 out of 5
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It's been a few years since I read a Mary Higgins Clark murder mystery. I have good memories of the past novels I've read by the "Queen of Suspense," but this one fell flat for me.

Archaeologist and biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons is murdered in his New Jersey home and a long-lost, priceless parchment --  thought to be a letter from Jesus Christ to Joseph of Arimathea -- is at the center of the novel. At first I thought this would be a kind of knock-off "Da Vinci Code," but it quickly dissolved into something far less exciting and suspenseful.

The suspects are quickly laid out for us -- Jon's Alzheimer's-patient wife and his four closest friends. Sadly, I guessed the identity of the murderer from the outset and wasn't even slightly fooled by the weak attempts at red herrings. The prose was bland, and I felt the plot wasn't developed to the level it could have been.

If you're a Mary Higgins Clark fan, you shouldn't discount this novel right off the bat. But if you're new to her, I wouldn't start off your MHC experience with this book. Happy reading!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Baby Shower Cupcakes

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I actually made something inspired by a Pinterest pin! These cupcakes, which I baked for a friend's casual baby shower dinner, came out ok and they were definitely yummy. But there were two problems with them -- first, pacifiers are expensive, people! And second, it was a little weird eating a baby's face.

I did learn something new while making these. To acheive perfect flesh-tone frosting (it was a little darker in real life than it looks here), add one drop of red and one drop of yellow food coloring to one regular-sized canister of vanilla frosting.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: "The Shoemaker's Wife"

"The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 4 out of 5
First published in 2012
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"The Shoemaker's Wife" is a fictionalized account of Adriana Trigiani's grandparents' own fascinating love story. I'm telling you this right away, because I think I would have appreciated and enjoyed the story that much more had I known that tidbit before I read it.

We first meet Enza Ravenelli and Ciro Lazzari in the early 1900s as children in the Italian Alps, where they live a few miles apart. After a chance meeting as teenagers, they both suffer different but equally difficult life tragedies and -- unbeknownst to each other -- immigrate to New York City. Ciro becomes a shoemaker's apprentice and Enza, after several years of struggle and determination, lands a job as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Eventually, Ciro and Enza's paths cross again, but their lives have diverged so much from the time they felt that spark at 15 on their mountain in Italy. Can they make a go of it? Dare they even try?

The love story, of course, is the centerpiece of the novel, but there are historical and cultural facets as well -- the rich landscape of northern Italy, crossing the Atlantic by ship and arriving in new land with nothing but dreams in your pocket, the life of a factory girl, the glitz of the Met, both world wars. It's a grand novel of love, loss, friendship, family, patience, sacrifice -- all the usual sappy themes. But they're presented in a fascinating way.

While I loved the plot, I found the construction of the book to be a bit of a sticking point. While the middle of the book -- the New York City section --  was phenomenal, the beginning was terribly slow and took me days and days to wade through. And the last portion speeds by years at a time, which seems abrupt after the slow to moderate pace of the remainder of the book.

But that's a rather small issue, and "The Shoemaker's Wife" is definitely worth a look.  Happy reading!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Furry Friday

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Conan and I spent a fantastic morning at the dog-friendly beach on base this week. The water, the sun, the breeze -- it was all perfect!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, happy Wednesday, and hello May! Sometimes I feel a little sad about turning the pages on my calendar, but not while Jarrod's deployed! As much as I'm trying to make a point to enjoy myself and not let Jarrod's deployment keep me from happily living life, I still can't wait for Jarrod to get back. So the first of each month -- my little ritual of flipping to the next calendar page -- brings a thrill of joy.

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This week I tried out some mint green nail polish. After years and years of pinks and reds, I'm enjoying breaking out of my color box and trying more fun shades.

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Striped tank top: Old Navy (like $2!)
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Scarf: Forever 21
Purse and shoes: Target
Earrings and bangle: Bealls Florida

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This is one of those outfits that I think (hope!!!!) looked better in person!

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