Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bye Bye, 2014!

Here it is, the end of another year. And it's been a great one, a prep one, I've been telling people. You know how you feel like you're preparing for something big? Maybe how an athletic team feels in a rebuilding year? That's how I feel about 2014. 

There was a lot of great things that happened this past year. I got engaged for one! How about that? I had never thought about marriage in a real way. Not that I didn't want it, but it was not on my 'things to do.' I thought it would happen or it wouldn't. 

I got to travel to some awesome places I've never been: San Antonio, Nashville, and revisit a few favorites: Chicago, NYC, and the Emerald Coast. There is something to be said about travel, the necessity of it and the fact that the more I travel, the more I want to travel. 

I barely missed my 50/50 Challenge goal, but feel OK about it because it's closer than I've ever gotten before. If you want the truth, this year in movies was kinda crap with a few gold stars. This is how my year ended: 

#46 - Mockingjay
#47 - The Big Wedding
#48 - Wall Street
#49 - Wild
#50 - The Pelican Brief
#51 - The Gambler
#52 - Big Hero 6
#53 - Unbroken

#40: Mother, Mother - Koren Zalickas
#41: The Myth of Happiness - Sonja Lyubomirsky
#42: Still Alice - Lisa Genova
#43: Swim Back to Me - Ann Packer
#44: Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Duham
#45: Yes Please - Amy Poehler
#46: The Woman I Wanted to Be - DVF

#47: Flawless - Jan Moran
#48: The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau

In the coming year, I will probably be more active on Goodreads as that's an easier way to keep track of progress, but really, there are so many good books out there! I hope more people decide to read in 2015. I'm so happy to be part of a fun book club that makes reading even more exciting. Is that a geeky statement?

As it is now, I'm spending my final hours on a plane from the East Coast (Florida) to the West Coast (California) and thinking about the year ahead and how fantastic it will be. Tomorrow I will meet with my friends as they create vision boards and I create a specific list of goals of all the things I want to achieve in 2015. One of which is to update this blog more often and write more, in general.

So with that, I hope that your NYE is full of everything you want it to be. My personal goal is to stay awake until midnight, but why break tradition?

I write this in the air, after some Pinot Grigio, and a free viewing of "The Social Network." I hope 2015 treats you well. I'll be talking to you soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

50/50 Challenge: Six Weeks to Go!

Six weeks until the end of the year, which means six weeks for me to read 11 more books and 5 -- it can be done!

The only movie I've watched since my last post is "Foxcatcher" which I'll be posting a review to on Examiner this Friday. It has Channing Tatum in it, but not like you're used to seeing him, that's for sure. 

I also technically read three new books, but since The Goldfinch was such a mother of a read, I am counting it as two. I think in the 50/50 Challenge rules somewhere, the fact that it's 771 pages counts. When I got to the end and it became front heavy, things got rough. 

So, to sum up my progress:

Movie #45: Foxcatcher

I'm hoping that #46 will be "Mockingjay Part I"!

Book #36: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Book #37/#38: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction)
Book #39: I Can't Make This Stuff Up by Theresa Caputo a.k.a. The Long Island Medium, who I met briefly and hugged at a Warwick's book signing.

So, not terribly great on my progress, but it will be done. I will accomplish my goal and treat myself to a whole cheesecake. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

50/50 Challenge Update: Two Months to Go!

Fall is my favorite season. Wish I had taken this photo, but alas, it's from Pinterest.

Hey-o! Less than 60 days to prove that I can read 50 books and watch 50 movies in one year. OK, I'm not really trying to prove anything, but I would enjoy the accomplishment. I'll keep this update short and sweet.


41. Gone Doggy Gone 
This screened at San Diego Film Festival and it's a fun, twisted movie that pokes fun at just how much people loooove their dogs.

42. St. Vincent
Bill Murray. Highly recommend. I laughed and cried and laughed some more.

43. The Good Lie
I also highly recommend. I was pretty much teary-eyed throughout the whole movie.

44. The Best of Me
Eh. Nicholas Sparks enthusiasts will dig it.

45. Nightcrawler
One of the most original films I've seen in awhile. Not usually a huge Jake Gyllenhaal fan, but he is fantastic in this.

Books (a measly ONE since my last update)

35. Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult
Psychics. Paranormal. Mystery. It's like Jodi Picoult surveyed me and asked, "Courtney, what is it that you want?" This was one of my favorites of hers in a long time and is reminiscent of her earlier work. She has changed publishing houses and editors, which may or may not be one of the reasons. 

35 1/2. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
I read most of the beginning and then started to read from the back, so there's a whole middle section I skipped because I couldn't get into this book, but I really wanted to. 

I know I'll reach my movie goal, but can I make it through 15 more books?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Musings

ate another piece for this pic

My intention was to update my blog daily or at least weekly for the month of October. I write all the time for work, so my blog is just for me to ramble and share things and be creative. It has been over a week since my last post, so you can see how well that's working out. I think of this discipline as November nears and I am going to try once again to write a novel for NaNoMo. 

I think if I really wanted to write a book, wouldn't I have already done it? But I don't want to just zip something out that I'll hate six months later and want to redo. I want to be proud of it because should that day comes when it is finished, that might be my last novel effort. I don't want my book to be a one-hit wonder bomb.

Peanut butter on banana bread. A revelation. I didn't think of it. The Patio on Goldfinch has it as part of their dessert menu and as soon as I ate it, I thought, why couldn't I be this brilliant?!

Do you ever hear a witty comeback and hold on to it waiting for just the right moment to say it? I have two of them that I'm dying to say, but don't want to waste them on the wrong person. 

I love TV. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am a busy person. I do have better things to do, but I CHOOSE to watch TV. To add to this lazy habit, I just began Season One of The Good Wife and I am hooked. My fiance rigged up his computer with Google Chromecast, so that we can watch it stream on our TV. I'm so glad he's tech-savvy and appreciates television as much as me.

I like staying calm when I know it will make someone else madder. If this is wrong, I don't want to be right.

If you haven't heard, the Kansas City Royals are headed to the World Series, which is awesome news! I'm from Kansas City, so it's easy to be excited, but I think it's odd how people not cheering for Kansas City nor San Francisco hate the Royals so much. Can't you just let them have their moment? They've waited long enough for the love!

I've noticed I always try to work talking about food into every conversation. I think it's a better gauge of if you're going to get along with someone rather than asking them what they do. 

This song continues to be on repeat for me for the rest of the week. Chris Messina, you dirty, cutie dog.

"You say I'm crazy 'cause you don't think I know what you've done."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

50/50 Challenge Update: Cheesecake Motivation

How can it be that I neglected my 50/50 Challenge Update for the whole month of September? Maybe it's because I spent most of the month celebrating and toasting to the awesomeness of my birth or maybe it's because it was so darn hot that even the thought of typing on my laptop seemed too sweat-inducing to endure. Whatever the excuse, I have updates for you.


Movie-wise I have reached 40 movies and since there has been a solid scheduling of movies I am looking forward to seeing, I think reaching 50 by the end of December is in the bag. 

34. This Is Where I Leave You
Jason. Bateman. I love him and his dark humor ways, his stoic facial expression. Also, I enjoyed when Tina Fey's character decked Dax Shepard's douchebag one. The book, of course, is better.

35. Bad Country

I had the opportunity to see this one at the San Diego Film Festival with a few of my fellow movie bloggers. Tom Berenger was in the audience as well for a Q&A afterwards with film critic Jeffrey Lyons. If you didn't get the chance to attend the Film Festival, I recommend going next year. Each year is getting better.

36. Gone Girl

The most anticipated movie for me this fall as I loved the book and the writing of Gillian Flynn. She also penned the screenplay and David Fincher made sure it was extra dark and provocative. You can read my full review on here

37. The Godfather

Yes, I admit it, I had never seen "The Godfather" before. The fiance and I made it a weekday date night and went to Cinema Under the Stars to take in this classic (one of his favorites). I was entertained, as I thought I would be, but also was more impressed with how good-looking Al Pacino once was. Also, I just kept thinking of "You've Got Mail" where Tom Hanks is IM'ing Meg Ryan quotes from the movie.

38. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Based off a children's book, this movie actually made me giggle. It's good for young families and awesome in length: a short 82 minutes.

39. The Judge

My pick of the week, maybe the whole year. The acting is fantastic, the story compelling. I cried. Robert Downey, Jr. and his slick-talking ways, I enjoy him thoroughly. 

40. Men, Women, and Children

People left during this screening. I don't blame them. 


Since the start of fall TV, I may or may not have been slacking on my reading. I love to read, but I also really love television. A lot. My fiance and I watch a lot of shows together, most of them crime-driven ones, and by the time they're over, I'm too tired to read. 

I still think I can make my ultimate goal and have these to add to the list:

31. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I thought I was going to get away without crying. I made all the way until about the last five pages, then cried one of those ugly, blubbering cries. 

32. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

This was also a strong writing effort. Not as good as Me Before You, but I would still recommend it.

33. All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner

She is one of my favorite chick-lit writers. I read her books so quickly. 

34. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants: Malcolm Gladwell

My first of his books. I recommend reading in chunks, reading all at once seemed to drag for me. There are some interesting stories though, especially the one about the "three strikes rule."

If you're curious as to what TV is pulling me away from reading, shows to blame are:
  • The Blacklist
  • The Voice
  • Stalker
  • Scandal
  • How to Get Away with Murder
  • Grey's Anatomy (I'm back to watching after taking several seasons off)

Soon to be added: Marry Me and American Horror Story. Oh, and I am going to start watching The Good Wife starting with Season One. Too much TV? Nah.

Only about two and a half months left of the challenge. Wish me luck! If I win, I am going to allow myself to eat a whole cheesecake in one sitting...semi-kidding.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Thee to a Motel 6

Escaping the heatwave on my birthday

Hey-o, so the weather earlier this week...what was THAT about? Don't get me wrong, I've experienced hot, humid weather just never while living in San Diego. I've learned to deal with hot, but not I-can't-breathe-sweat-in-my-eyes kind of temps that blasted down upon us. 

Like many San Diegans, I don't have air-conditioning in my apartment, so when the temperatures rise, the old walls just hang onto all that heat and let me bake slowly inside like a chocolate chip cookie. Saturday to yesterday were bruuutal. 

And, then that pseudo-hurricane. Are zombies really getting ready to attack? I mean, is this IT?

I decided with wisdom that can only come from turning another year older, that me and my love would hit up the Motel 6. Scoff if you must at my self-indulgent decision, but I swear it saved my sanity. Once in a great while, I make impulsive decisions based on the notion that I like to do whatever I want.

Motel 6, man, is not comfortable. The sheets are scratchy and the bed is like the poor fold-out beds from the couches you had growing up. The towels are like paper towels that barely cover anything let alone dry you. But, their A/C was working like a charm with WiFi to boot!

We spent two nights at Motel 6 and went for a third night at an equally cheap hotel with equally uncomfortable linens and a weird, onion-type smell, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

There is a practical side of me that knows what I could have done with that extra money, but the more dominant side of me doesn't allow for that type of reasoning. I don't know how you all handled the heat, but I applaud you. The weather is now back to a reasonable cool where the fans running 'round the clock work just fine. 

Who knew that a Motel 6 would come through in a pinch?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Resolutions: Act Like You Care

Celebrate with vodka (or your drink of choice)! photo from Flickr

One week from today I celebrate my birthday! You can send all gifts to...just kidding, but cheers to all the fellow Virgos out there! 

For a few years now, I've planned birthday resolutions to kick my "new year" off right. Similar to the popular New Year's resolutions or vision boards, the birthday resolutions are meant to create a change that will last longer than your temporary gym membership. 

What's the point of birthday resolutions, you ask? If you're anything like me, you get stuck in ruts. You have lofty ideas of the kind of life you would like to live and the types of things you would like to do and then you wake up and a year has gone by, two years, a decade, you get the picture. 

When Sally laments about turning 40, I am of the same age to feel the same way. (Go to 1:49 of the clip to hear her exasperation)

Honestly though, I am not that worried about getting older. That "oh shit" feeling has yet to hit me and hopefully it never will. I actively pursue ways to lead the kind of life I want. I don't just say, "Welp, too old to do that. Oh, well." 

Birthday resolutions give you a chance to make changes, big or small, that will bring your more adventure, and ultimately, happiness and sense of accomplishment to your life.

It's not something to set you up for failure, but rather to keep you on track for future goals, so that you don't let them slip away. 

I haven't created my full list, but I know this year I will attempt to once more to finish a novel (or at least a collection of short stories) within 30 days for NaNoMo. 

International travel, exploring new cities, more consistent creative writing (rather than just writing for work) are all also on the list. I have already taken active steps to make sure that these resolutions come to fruition.

Don't act like you have reached a point in your life where this is always how it's going to be. Don't just accept a way of living because you don't want to make an effort to change or improve or take a different path than someone else (including your old self) has set out for you.

Give yourself the proper attention you deserve. Take care of business. Have this year be a little better than last. Celebrate.

Do you make birthday resolutions? Care to share?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cooking on a Budget: Recipes for Two

When I lived alone a typical dinner might have been: 

  • leftover pizza
  • microwave popcorn
  • Ramen noodles
  • cereal 

Living with someone makes me realize that both he and I deserve a better effort. Although, don't knock cereal for dinner. It's quick with easy cleanup. 

I find myself making the same things: spaghetti, tacos, and ordering Chinese takeout. I ask people for dinner ideas all the time and know there is no shortage of recipes online to choose from, but it all seems like so much work!

For those who are with me and honestly don't have much time or money to spend on cooking, I have a few meal ideas to share with you that are perfect for two or for one plus leftovers.

Meal #1: 

rice pilaf

Marinate the salmon in teriyaki sauce or cover in pesto before baking. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes. Use foil on your baking sheet so it's easier to clean up. 

You can buy salmon in packs of two at Fresh and Easy for fairly inexpensive. On one side of the baking sheet, put your marinated salmon. On the other side, add asparagus and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in the oven to bake away.

Then, get yourself a microwaveable bag of rice pilaf. In just 90 seconds, you have delicious rice pilaf and you didn't have to dirty a single dish. For someone who doesn't have a dishwasher, this means a lot.

When you put this on a plate, it looks like you put in true effort, when really the whole thing takes about 20 minutes and uses one baking sheet.

My plating skills could use some work.
Meal #2: 

baby carrots

Roast definitely makes you feel like a big deal when really you put everything in a pot and let it simmer forever. Raise your hand if you received a crockpot for your high school graduation. Raise your hand if you have not used said crockpot since graduation. 

I fall into that category only using my crockpot to make queso dip a.k.a. Velveeta cheese + Rotel. I could really go for some of that right now.

I pulled out the ol' crockpot in my eager anticipation for fall and decided to cook a roast. Make sure to season that sucker before dropping it in or it will be bland. I used: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and seasoning salt. Rub it in to the meat and place in crockpot. Add in veggies of your choosing. I have always had roast with potatoes and carrots, so that's what I added, plus some chopped up onions.

At this point you can cover with cream of mushroom soup, beef broth, or just use water like I did because I forgot to buy the first two mentioned items. Turn your crockpot to high for about 5 hours or so. Oh, I also squeezed in some BBQ sauce because I felt like that was the right thing to do.

After cooking, use some of the broth to make gravy. Start by mixing about a cup of the broth with flour and then add to a pan on the stove. Stir in more broth and flour as needed for thickness. Taste and season.

There is roast underneath that swimming pool of vegetables.

Meal #3: 

Stir fry

When I fear like something is about to go bad, I put it in the freezer to hopefully use at a later date. This actually worked to my advantage for once as I remembered I had chopped up, cooked chicken in the freezer. 

I added vegetable oil to a pan and added in cut up potatoes. I like using the Yukon gold or fingerling because the skin is better to eat. Once these became slightly tender, I added in my chicken, cut up zucchini, cut up leftover asparagus, and rice. I added in salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sriracha. I didn't take a picture because I was too hungry since I had just finished taking an Insanity class. But it was delicious and took practically no time at all. 

These are all recipes if you don't have a lot of time or don't want to take a lot of time. Or, if you are tired of getting take out. Or, if you are on a food budget. I am all three. But please, please share with me your easy recipes. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

50/50 Challenge Update: Reading Frenzy

shared from Read It Forward's Facebook page

I read two books this weekend. Actually, I finished one book, then started and finished two more. Toot, toot, beep, beep - you read that right. While I would love to do a book report on every book I read (really, I wouldn't), I am dedicated just not that dedicated. So, here is are my short sum-ups for the last 7 books I've read. 

If you've read any of these and want to share your reviews, thoughts, and/or tweets with me, I love hearing from other reading enthusiasts. Book nerds unite!

24. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Ms. Chopin, must you complain so much? Feminism? Me thinks not.

25. The One & Only by Emily Giffin
Giffin-style with made-for-tv movie written all over it.

26. We Were Liars by e. Lockhart
A bit predictable, but not all disappointing.

27. Orange Is the New Black by Piper Lerman
Was indifferent about reading it. Ended up enjoying it. No, haven't seen the show yet. Nor do I have plans to.

28. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
One of the better ones I read in this stretch of books. Love the mystery and haunted feel of the novel because I am fascinated by topics in that category. I wrote a review on Goodreads for this one.

29. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.
Do you like the song: "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem feat. Rihanna? Then, you'll love this book. Makes you feel good about that "bad boy" that got away.

30. Delicious by Ruth Reichl
I love reading about food. This is fiction but with plenty of food discussed. Thought it was great.

I've only watched four new movies since my last update because let's be honest, this summer has sucked in terms of new movies. Blockbusters? Please. Millions of dollars at the box office still does not a good movie make. 

30. The Expendables 3
Whenever the first one came out I thought it was a parody. I'm still not convinced this is not the case. Lots of action. Crappy plot. And, those men are getting OLD.

31. Love Is Strange
Sweetly simple but dealing with a lot of complex emotions and topics. 

32. TMNT
No, I never saw the original. I was a kid who hardly watched tv and played outside or read. Big surprise there. Those turtles are kinda creepy, yeah? 

33. Guardians of the Galaxy
Had hoped for better. Love Vin Diesel's dialogue. Ha! Watched it at the drive-in with TMNT which was cool. Fun night out. 

I'm happy that I am whittling away at my library and book club list, and some of my must-see movies are coming out soon. Until my next update, which I know you await with bated breath, happy reading and watching!

Monday, August 18, 2014

L'Oreal Hair Makeover: Sweet and Simple

the tools

It's always fun to change your look and color your hair. But, it's even better when you can get a friend to help. After receiving the new L'Oreal Superior Preference Mousse Absolue in Light Auburn Brown, I knew just the gal who would want to try it out: my friend, Kim!

Kim has light to medium brown hair and I thought this color would be perfect for a richer hue just in time for fall. 

the before

The mousse is so much better than the hair dye that you mix in the bottle and usually drips onto your clothes, the floor, and everywhere else. The mousse bottle already comes pre-mixed and you just apply in sections of the hair. There is hardly any dripping during the process and there's not nearly the heavy scent of regular at-home color.

the after
The color was perfect for her, the process easy. If you're thinking of switching it up, for only fifteen bucks, this product is a good choice. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cheers to the Patron life!

Once upon a time, Patron Social Club asked, "Hey, would you like to be our Secret Dining Society guest and eat and drink to your heart's content while you get a sweet beach buzz?" To which I quickly replied, "Um, YEAH!"

On a perfect August evening, M and I enjoyed a culinary adventure courtesy of Patron and their traveling dining crew. When they host these dinners for an exclusive 50+ guests, it is an EVENT. 

I read that when they stopped in St. Louis, it was held at Busch Stadium, an experience M would have loved being from STL and a tried and true Cardinals' fan. However, our San Diego experience on Silver Strand Beach was none too shabby. 

Here are some photos of the fun-filled evening if you didn't catch me posting minute-to-minute updates on Instagram. I also rehashed the whole beautiful thing for Examiner, complete with food menu created by one my favorite Top Chef alum, Richard Sweeney, for your reading (and drooling) pleasure. 

If you had seen me eat this, it would confirm my lack of elegance, mainly in dining situations. I first attempted to nibble it from the side and then just chomped it from the top. 

It's like we were crashing someone's beautiful beach wedding. Hey, Patron, can I just hire you to cater my upcoming nuptials? 

I don't have a bad tequila story. You know those stories you hear about people falling off curbs and vomiting in gutters, never had that. Talk to me about vodka, different story altogether. Wouldn't it be insane if Absolut had a secret dining society. Who can I start a petition to for this cause? 

I forgive whomever made up these menus for misspelling "dessert" because they were probably drunk off Patron. Hey, shit happens.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Change of (Work) Scenery

SILO in Makers Quarter
Are you one of those people who power through a day with no breaks or do find yourself hitting a wall at oh, about 2 p.m. like me? 

I wake up at 7 a.m. most mornings to begin my day and crank out a good chunk of work before noon. Why? Because I know that once that early afternoon hour crawls around that my productivity level begins to dip. Why is that? Do I need a snack? A nap? Both? 

Am I not that different from a toddler and can only focus on certain activities for a few hours at a time before becoming hangry or overcome with sleepiness? 

I believe that our bodies are just not made to go on auto-pilot. They can; they just don't like it. I would rather break up my day and work extra hours if it means a big ol' break in the middle. 

There are deadlines to meet and projects to complete and that is not always an acceptable answer. I find whenever I hit this wall, a change of scenery is always necessary. Whether that's a stop for a coffee break, a trip the library or a new work space that does not include my home office, whatever it is, it always seems to help. 

There are many downfalls to being a freelancer. I know you're not supposed to say that because we are supposed to be ripe with optimism for those who want follow suit and be self-employed as well. But, the truth is that when you have freedom to essentially do what you want, you better be doing something

Otherwise, you find your asleep with Food Network blaring in the background and dreams of Barefoot Contessa baking you homemade brownies. (This may or may not have happened when I was suffering the sweltering heat inside my apartment and reacting to too much Tylenol Cold & Sinus)

Movement of any kind is key. Due to my endless hours on the computer, there are times when I think my legs might become fused into the seated position. That's why I do yoga, pace around my living room like a dog waiting for its owner, and yes, at times, lie down for a power nap. 

If you want to make your life different than what it is, you have to be prepared to move. This goes for both the physical and emotional sense. The fear of being stagnant keeps me constantly changing. 

The to-do list stays the same but the change of scenery makes all the difference. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

50/50 Challenge Update: First of the Month

Well let's just come out and say it, July was a blur. Yes, I was traveling during a lot of it, but I just think -- kids are going back to school! What even happened in July?!

I am just getting over a summer cold, which was the absolute worst. Note: Tylenol Cold & Sinus mixed with baking-inside-my-apartment temperatures is not a good combo!

But now onto my challenge update, which I am still determined to conquer this year. #thingsgeekssay

Movie #29: Magic in the Moonlight

I wrote a lengthier review of the movie, but I was a little underwhelmed.

21. The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion
22. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
23. Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

The last book I received free from Blogging For Books. If you love books like I do, then you should sign up to! The only "catch" is that you leave a review of the book you receive. How easy is that?

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Herman Koch writes in such a way that has the reader intrigued at what's to come but not in a hurry to get there. For Summer House with Swimming Pool the novel is a mystery unfolding, but not a typical page-turner pace that most thrillers have. That's not to say the writing is slow or dull; it's more to the credit of the writer for setting the tone early on and allowing the reader to craft the story in the mind. 

Dr. Marc Schlosser is a family doctor who is bored with what he does and has a watered down look at the world. He and his wife are constantly invited to social events and after one such premiere, he meets actor Ralph Meier, a larger than life personality, who at the beginning of the story has wound up dead after a possible misdiagnosis, and the story travels backwards from there. The description of Ralph and more importantly, what he does (hacks at a swordfish on the patio to cook up on the BBQ) gives the reader a keen sense of what type of personality we are dealing with from him. 

Ralph is a ladies' man and takes an interest in Marc's wife, Caroline but is fleeting, while Marc, on the other hand, take an interest in Ralph's wife, Judith. They follow-up with a dinner party at the Meier's house, and this begins the subplot to the story that creates an interesting tension and intertwining of the families. 

The Schlosser family (Marc, Caroline, and their two daughters Julia and Lisa) take a camping trip near the Meier's summer house where they have been invited as guests. After their teenage daughter, Julia runs into the Meier's son, Alex the two families come together again and end up spending time together at the summer house. The families then face a dark turn and the details that follow lead to clues regarding Ralph's death.

It's interesting to hear the voice of Marc and how he sees things from a doctor's perspective in comparison to a father's and also in comparison to any other average person. Details from a doctor's perspective, while matter-of-fact, can be gruesome to the reader or at least create some discomfort, but it fits with the darker tone of the story. 

I enjoyed the writing of this book and the story overall. It definitely would ignite interesting discussion. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Floating Penny

Didn't it seem like the 4th just happened and now all of a sudden it's the middle of the month and before you know it, it'll be Christmas and you'll wonder, what the hell have I been doing?!

The fast-forward feeling of time reminds me of that part in "When Harry Met Sally" when Sally is crying to Harry and says, "I'm gonna be 40!" And he responds, "In eight years." Then, she adds, "But it's out there just waiting for me" or something like that. 

It's a constant balance of chase down everything you want to accomplish in life but oh no, slow down and enjoy it. Which is it? Chase or enjoy? How could I possibly do both simultaneously? Half the time I wonder how I am able to do anything simultaneously! 

But I will say this, time does fly when you're having fun. And luckily, while I feel like my wheels are going a mile a minute (much like yours, I'm sure), I feel like it's, for the most part, it's a fun movement. And that is a blessing.

There has been a lot going on in the past few weeks which is why there hasn't been a post. Too much to really detail to you, but I have to tell you about this class I went to about shifting your energy and getting in touch with your spirit guide. Before you brush it off, let me say that I am a believer in the power of positive thinking (necessary to both bold and italicize!) and you should be, too. Who wants to be a believer in "oh well, shit happens"? 

Anyway, the class was way beyond my current spirituality level, but one exercise we did stood out. We had to secure a penny to the wall by willing it. As in, I was to make it my intention to make it stick. I tried and tried, and it didn't work. Other people in the class were doing it no problem. They didn't have to hold it there, they just put it up and walked away. 

I decided I would take the exercise seriously and put my full concentration into it later at home and what do you know, it worked! Granted if shifting energy was so simple, then I'd make it my intention to win the lottery and travel the world, but of course, it's more the intent of challenging your mind to be positive when sometimes it wants to be a downer. Saying "I will" rather than "I won't." Seems simple enough. 

the action was more impressive than the photo
I end each day listing what I am grateful for and "setting my intention" on what I want my life to be. Say out loud, with confidence, what it is you want and how you intend to get it. Don't be half-ass about your dreams. 

At the very least, it clears my mind so I have peaceful sleep. At the very best, I am changing the energy around me one molecule at a time, so don't be surprised if you see me on TV holding that winning lotto ticket in whatever form that might be.

50/50 Challenge Update

Just a quick post to update my challenge progress. I have slacked in the book reading department despite the growing number of books being added to my nightstand. Currently, I am reading The Rosie Project, but for #19 I read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I read this one because soon it will be a movie starring one of my favorite actors, Jason Bateman. 

The main character, Judd, in the book has the dark, dry humor that I love so much and I think Jason Bateman will be a perfect fit to bring it to the big screen.

For book #20, I read Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" fame. When I set out to read this book I thought that it was a memoir. I opened up the first page of the book thinking it was her memoir. Note to those going to read the book: it is NOT a memoir. However, it was entertaining and reminded me of my short time living in New York.

These past two books I recommend to readers and so far, I can't tell if I like The Rosie Project, but it's definitely intriguing. Who's read it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I'm always better about seeing movies and now have three more under my belt: 

26. Think Like a Man Too
27. What If
28. Boyhood

I will have reviews on "What If" and "Boyhood" on soon. Subscribe if you haven't already! I was entertained by "Think Like a Man Too" but not nearly as much as the first one. In my mind though, Kevin Hart can do no wrong right now, so I suggest seeing it.

So that's it. Keeping the pace, not losing hope that this is THE year that I will read 50 books and watch 50 movies. <insert inspirational song here>

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Life in Balance: Barre3 + San Diego County Fair

I work out. I do. If I'm being honest, I mainly do it so I can eat more. And I want to be strong in case I ever need to kick anyone's ass.

This past month I've been able to try a different rotation of workouts in addition to my typical kickboxing/yoga/body pump classes. First, I have tried reformer Pilates. When I walked into the room, the machines looked like torture devices. Those suckers are designed to sculpt you. I've only taken three classes so far, so if you see me, just know results may vary.

Then, the Yelp Community Manager, an awesome dude named Brad, organized a Yelp Elite Event at Lorna Jane. The store, brand and vision are all incredible. They gave attendees free workout tanks emblazoned with positive messages. After our yoga workout, we were treated to Tender Greens salads, charred bread and edamame hummus and grilled veggies. Super good!

Tender Greens has the best salads

And most recently, I was invited to attend a free Barre3 event held at Hotel La Jolla on the 11th floor with a gorgeous ocean view. 


Following their yoga class they gave us free smoothies and provided a make-your-own granola bar and refreshing fruit-infused water. 

My point with all of this is that working out can actually be fun. You just have to look out for the opportunities that align with how you like to be active. If you're anything like me, you're sitting down most of the day and doesn't it worry you that one day your legs literally may be fused into a sitting position? I think about this all the time. If I had delicious, but healthy drinks and salads always prepared for me to enjoy post-workout, I might even work out more.

Whenever I'm "good" I like to balance things out by being bad and eating something like this:
Or, this:
Beer-battered potatoes with CHEESE, but what makes them Australian?
What is it about fair food that's so dang good? The fat? 

I spent seven freaking hours at the fair this year, which means I was able to see and eat everything I wanted. I went on the lift to get a good aerial view. The only thing I kept thinking is, what if I lose my flip flop?

No flip flops were lost in the capturing of this photo.
The things my friend and I wanted to do: go on a ride, watch a milking demonstration and cheer on the turkey stampede, because when else in life would you have the chance to do these three things in one day?

I learned I am officially too old to ride fair rides. I went on the long row one that flips you upside down three times in a row and then you hang upside down and when I got off, I immediately began forming a headache. Later that night at home, I thought I was dying as the headache settled in full force. I actually thought I saw the light, but I think it was the aura from a migraine.

I also became paranoid thinking about my aligned spine (from yoga and all) and how I just jacked it all up for some ride that cost me six tickets. I had to get ice cream to recover.

You can also see by the above photo that I decided making large bubbles might be cool. I waited my turn in line with all the other kids.

I can't tell you about the turkey stampede. It's just something you have to experience yourself.

Despite all my eating, I do have a tracker on my phone that supposedly monitors all your steps, although I have my suspicions about its accuracy. However, it made me look like an absolute champ. 

It was just an all-around wonderful, San Diego day. Do I think a life in balance really means work out and then eat like crap? Some days I do. Life is too long to be doing or eating stuff you don't like all the time. 

Eat the fried potatoes, the salad will still be waiting for you tomorrow. Watch turkeys run around. Sniff someone's prize-winning flowers. Eat ice cream. Indulge in all the small things that make summer and life so great.