Friday, February 22, 2013

Furry Friday

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If Conan were a human baby instead of a furry baby, this would be one of those humiliating pictures that would end up in his wedding slideshow one day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: "Where We Belong"

"Where We Belong" by Emily Giffin
First published in 2012
372 pages
My rating: 4 .5 out of 5

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I've read all but one of Emily Giffin's novels (and seen the movie version of "Something Borrowed) and I'd say this is far and away her best work. It'll still appeal to the heart of pretty much every woman everywhere, but it's not as chick-lit-y or centered on romance as her previous novels.

In "Where We Belong," Giffin uses her deft hand to bring two distinct voices to the story. Kirby, who was adopted as a newborn, lately feels like she just doesn't fit in with her family. She recently turned 18 and is finally able to learn the name of her birth mother, should she so choose. Desperately seeking answers about who she is and where she came from she shows up unannounced at her mother's New York City doorstep.

Kirby's birth mother is Marian Caldwell, creator, producer and writer for a network television show. Marian's life looks predictably perfect from the outside -- she's wealthy, famous, has the job she's always wanted and is dating the handsome and powerful network CEO. But nobody in her life knows she had a baby at 18 -- the only person she ever confided in was her mother. Kirby's arrival -- half hoped for, half dreaded by Marian -- shortly after her 18th birthday will force Marian to confront the choices she made when she herself was 18.

Giffin is very talented at giving her characters a unique voice, at making them feel real, and at convincing readers to like them despite any good, bad or questionable things they may have done. She's very adept at writing about and for women, and I think any woman would be both fascinated and touched by this story of secrets and lies, love and family, acceptance and belonging.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha from Ohio! We've been here two weeks now and we're starting to get settled in. We just put in an offer on a house, which is exciting! The weather has been back and forth, with a few wonderful days getting up to 50 mixed in with miserable days like yesterday, when it was bitterly cold, windy and snowy. As much as I whined about missing seasons while we lived in Hawaii, I have to say that winter wear sucks. It's constricting, uncomfortable, itchy. Yuck! I'm definitely looking forward to spring!

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits!
 
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 I wore this to see Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert in concert. The outfit was cute, but it was a very, very, very poor choice in footwear! We ended up making a 10-minute trek from the parking lot to the concert venue and it was freezing cold and snowing. Every other girl I saw was wearing boots or sneakers, and I was totally jealous! (Ironically, this was the first time I've worn flats since we left Hawaii.)
 
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Dierks + Miranda = Best Concert Ever!

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I saw an Ohio postcard yesterday featuring a covered bridge that said, "Just Another Day in Paradise," and I actually snorted and laughed out loud. Let's be honest, Ohio -- you don't have much on Hawaii! But wait! There are indeed some things that Ohio has going for it over Hawaii, like tons of sandwich shops, several major sports teams and an abundance of concerts and shows!

We went to see Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley right here in Dayton this weekend, and I've already bought tickets to see The Lumineers in May and our favorite comedian Daniel Tosh in June. Not many major performers made the trip out to Hawaii, so it's a huge treat that virtually every current band I like seems to be come through Ohio!
 
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I adore Dierks Bentley and have ever since his first single, "What Was I Thinkin' " came out back in 2003. His half of the concert was awesome and he played every single one of the songs I hoped he would. And he managed to look pretty damn attractive while doing it. (Oops, pardon me while I wipe some drool from my chin...) While I'm at it, I should add that my husband -- who dressed for the concert in cowboy boots and a plaid shirt and looked every bit the Southern boy he is -- wasn't too hard to look at either.
 
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I particularly liked seeing "Up On The Ridge" live. The performance reminded me a bit of the frenzied gypsy dancing scene in "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows."
 
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And then out came Miranda Lambert!
 
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After a few songs, she announced that she had a special guest -- her husband, Blake Shelton, who came out on stage and performed his new single "Sure Be Cool If You Did" with Miranda! The crowd -- including me -- went wild screaming and cheering. How often do you actually see the two of them on stage together?
 
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And all three acts (opener Thomas Rhett on the left, Miranda in the middle and Dierks on the right) closed the show with a song together. This might be toppled when we see The Lumineers, but for now I have to say: best concert ever!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: "Night Passage"

"Night Passage" by Robert B. Parker
First published in 1997
322 pages
My rating: 3 out of 5

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Robert B. Parker was a very prolific crime and mystery novelist, and when I was working at the library in Hawaii his shelf of books always caught my eye. When we arrived in Ohio I needed some reading material and thought I'd give him a try. The base library didn't have in the first book of Parker's more famous Spenser series so I settled for book one of the Jesse Stone series, "Passage of Night."

Jesse Stone is a divorced, disgraced former LAPD homicide detective, fired because of his drinking problem. Being a cop is the only thing he knows, so when he's offered a job across the country as chief of police in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts, Stone takes it without a second thought. But, predictably, all is not idyllic in the quaint New England town. And though the town selectmen may have hired Stone because he seemed like a drunken pushover, he's much smarter and far better at his job than they bargained for.

Parker really makes Stone's voice shine through in his writing, and I grew to love the quiet, stoic -- but still vulnerable -- main character. However, I didn't enjoy the other aspects of Parker's writing as much. He's fond of run-on sentences, stating the obvious and an odd usage of punctuation. On top of that, for a crime thriller the book was rather dull. There was no edge-of-your-seat climax, and I found myself turning pages more because I just wanted to get this book done than because I was riveted to the plot.

Parker's novels are pretty popular -- so much so that other authors have continued several of Parker's series after his death in 2010 -- and I might be willing to give Parker another try with his Spenser novels. I don't think I'll be attempting another Jesse Stone book, though. Yawn!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Our First Week in Ohio

Aloha from Ohio! Our first week here has been full of house hunting excursions (buying our first house isn't quite as fun as I'd imagined!) and we've spent lots of time in the car, driving around the city. The weather's been cold -- but at least there've been some sunny days in the mix -- and the upside to that is getting to wear all my new winter clothes!

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits with all the other WIWWers. Happy Wednesday!

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This was my first time wearing my new Converse with an actual out-of-the-house non-traveling outfit and it was a bit out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was channeling Bella from "Twilight"!
 
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Monday, February 11, 2013

My Week in Pictures

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This past week has been a big one for us -- after a nice, relaxing week with my family in Colorado, we continued our journey from Hawaii to Ohio where we will spend the next three years. It's been fun to eat at some restaurants and shop at some stores we didn't have in Hawaii (like Olive Garden and Sonic), and to try some new places like the famous Skyline Chili. The weather is much, much colder and the days are alternately decent and drearily overcast, but I've enjoyed getting to wear (i.e. bundle up in) some of my new winter clothes.

1. Goodbye, Colorado! (That's Pikes Peak in the background.)

2. We stopped at Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City for dinner. I had a drool-worthy dinner of ribs, pulled pork and potato salad. Jarrod had ribs and brisket, and Conan -- of course -- got to sample everything.
 
3. We arrived in Ohio on Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning I found Lily camping out in one of my travel bags.
 
4. We sampled Skyline Chili on Wednesday, which was overcast and gloomy and just screamed for soup!
 
5. Except Skyline Chili isn't exactly soup! You can get it in a runnier form (which Jarrod did, along with some chili dogs, and which I decided I preferred). I got the "five-way" chili, which is spaghetti noodles, chili, beans and onions. Everything comes with huge baggies of shredded cheese for topping as desired.
 
6. We spent the weekend house-hunting with our realtor and we caught this sunset on the way home Sunday night. Corn fields and woods are a big change from ocean and sand, but lovely in their own way. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Colorado Edition

Aloha from Ohio, our new home for the next three years! We just arrived yesterday, after spending a wonderful, relaxing week with my family in Colorado. While I wasn't crazy about the cold winter weather (which I believe will seem tame by Ohio standards), it was fun to finally wear some of the new winter clothes I bought in preparation for our move.

As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits. Happy Wednesday!

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This was my favorite outfit of the week. I just love this sweater -- it's so cozy and soft!

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I wore this to visit my brother at Colorado State University, my alma mater. It was so fun to see how much the campus has changed -- and stayed the same -- in the past five years. Go Rams!

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I wore this outfit to see "Silver Linings Playbook" with my mom. We both enjoyed it!

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Review: "Divergent"

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
First book in the "Divergent" trilogy
First published in 2011
487 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

Veronica Roth's "Divergent" takes readers to a dystopian Chicago, where citizens are divided into five factions and lead their lives according solely to the values of their chosen group.

The factions consist of Abnegation, which values selflessness; Dauntless, where courage and facing fears rein; Candor, where honesty is the only policy; Erudite, the faction of the logical, rational-thinking intellectuals; and Amity, the faction of kindness and peace.  Each faction is responsible for certain jobs within the city, and on the surface everything seems to run fairly smoothly.

Beatrice Prior comes from an Abnegation family, but she's always worried that selflessness wasn't as natural for her as it was for her parents, brother and fellow faction members. At 16, citizens are evaluated to see which faction they'd best fit with, and they then choose the faction they wish to dedicate the rest of their lives to -- eating, breathing, working and living with their faction for life. If they choose a group different from their family's, they may never see their parents or friends again. These thoughts weigh heavy on Beatrice's mind on the day of the Choosing Ceremony.

Little does she know, her decision will have effects stretching far beyond whether she'll see her family again. All is not as happy and peaceful as it seems in Chicago, and Beatrice -- who has led a life of invisibility in her Abnegation lifestyle -- has a major secret to guard and a major role to play as the "perfect" society begins to fail.

While "Divergent" wasn't as gripping as, say, "The Hunger Games," it was an excellent and intruging dystopian novel and I breezed through it in two days. The second book in the young adult trilogy, "Insurgent," is already out and I'm anxious to pick it up and continue Beatrice's tale. There's also a "Divergent" movie in the works, set to start filming in Chicago this year. Shailene Woodley of "The Descendants" is set to play Beatrice, and I think she'll be perfect for the part.

"Divergent" should appeal to a wide variety of audiences -- from fans of dystopias such as "1984" to young adult romances like "Twilight." It's a super-quick read, and its unique plot definitely makes it worth a look.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 1, 2013

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