Friday, March 27, 2009

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet just after finishing The Piano Teacher, both of which were debut novels written about the time period of WWII, but from opposite sides of the Ocean. The storyline of this novel is so compelling and it was just so refreshing to be reminded of the purity and innocence of love; even during a time of such injustice. The characters came to life for me, and the pages practically turned themselves. The speed of the read cannot be mistaken for lack of depth. Overall, a very good book.


View all my reviews.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Twilight

Okay, just finished 'previewing' my latest Netflix movie. I've had Twilight saved in my queue since it was out in theatres, and bumped it to the top, returning a movie just in time so that I would have a perfectly orchestrated delivery of it on opening day. Then it just sat at my house for four more.

I am having some friends over to watch it on Thursday, but figured I'd want to see it more than once anyway. Yes, I know that the reviews were very disappointing, but here are my thoughts on it.

First, I watched both the version with the commentary and without. I was throughly entertained by the commentary, because both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were involved and were very humble about the version of the movie that made it into viewers' hands. The commentary made the movie very endearing, and I was laughing more than once about their frank self-awareness, such as Pattinson's assertion that you should never trust a man that wears lipstick and plucks his eyebrows or Stewarts embarassment about the number of times that her eyes crossed unwittingly.

Edward and Bella have great chemistry, the kiss is executed very well, and Ms Meyer even ensured that we see a less steamy version that what was originally presented to her; which is in keeping with the books, as (and this won't spoil anything, don't get your panties in a twist) they have a young adult target audience, so aren't intented to be soft porn. Ya garbage minds.

When Jasper meets Bella at the house, he looks like he's constipated, and when Edward meets Bella the first time, it's comical instead of heady and romantic. Ah well...I assumed before watching it that it didn't have a lot of money and the next movie is bound to have a bigger budget (which they also talked about in the commentary) so it's only going to get better.
The special effects were pretty cheesy, but the baseball scene was fun.

Overall I felt like it did its job; I wasn't expecting The Godfather or Gone With the Wind. It's entertaining and cheesy and I would HIGHLY recommend reading the book first because it's just always better. Am I going to watch it again? Yep. And I may just buy it.

What?! J owns some doozies and has viewed more B movies than I've seen episodes of Sex and the City, so there will be no judgements in this house.
*As a funny coincidence, my sister published an almost identical post at almost the same time...and we didn't even know that the other person was watching the movie!

Dickie No More

Last night, I got together with a few of my knitting buddies, and finally picked up and started knitting the first part of the first sleeve on my sweater...now I have to finish it, because you can't have a dickie with cap-sleeves.

Looks Like We Made It

Two days ago, J and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. The night before, he got home just before our dinner guests came over, and helped get C and H into their night-time gear while I put the salad together.

Remembering that he was a lame-wad for Valentine's Day, he told me that he'd debated stopping for flowers on the way home, but knew he was already running late. I assured him that I didn't need flowers, as we had plans for a date night and that was enough for me (read: I don't want grocery store carnations)...plus, I didn't plan to get him anything, so it left me off the hook.

The next night he came home with a single rose, explaining that I'd told him I didn't want flowersss, so he got me a flower. Ah, so sweet. Accompanied by a cheese-tastic card of the sort that always remind me of what my dad gave my mom, it was all together a very nice sentiment; I was appropriately appreciative. And I wonder why he doesn't make more romantic gestures....

Baby-sitter settled, we went for dinner at Sole Proprietor in Worcester and I had the best scallops I've ever tasted; maple-glazed and served over steamed broccoli and a bed of mashed sweet potatoes. The perfect texture, melting and smooth, much like sashimi as it made it's way to my happy belly. Contrary to what some say, sashimi has a velvety texture and is not at all slimy...if it is, you may want to make your way to the nearest ED.
Along with my scallops, I had a glass of Bangin Red Meritage...I'd not ever had a meritage, and let me just say that it is my new best friend. I was so satisfied with my dinner that I passed on dessert. For those that don't know me, this is akin to a nympho passing on sex, as we are a family known for partaking of our sweet treats. I didn't even have a coffee!

We had planned to spend some time in a book store or something after dinner, but then remembered as we pulled into the first parking lot that it was almost 9 on a Sunday, so headed home to watch Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (I love Michael Cera movies). We had to pause it about 5 times when C decided that he's not going to have long stretches of sleep anymore, or fall asleep by himself. Heading to bed with the sad realization that a restlessly sleeping baby and the possibility of a pre-schooler joining you at any moment kind of negates the re-enactment of the wedding night, so there you have it.

Sarcasm aside, I often marvel at the fact that J chose to spend his life with me. He's pretty amazing; wicked smaaht, funny, and the perfect laid-back balance to my uber-anxious and controlling self. I can honestly say that I am happy with him and our relationship every day. Well, as Charlotte said "Not all day every day. But, every day."

Happy Anniversary! Oh, and for our tenth anniversary, I don't want a diamond. (translation: I want diamonds)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lady GaGa

A different recording of this acoustic version of Lady GaGa performing her song Pokerface was on my friend Maggie's site Slice of Wife, and I went to YouTube to get the embedding, and found this version...enjoy! It's far different from the radio version, but it just shows how amazing her voice is...she's not just another performer who has to use electronics to sound good.

It's a Wrap!

Fashion Hostage?
Or willing participant?

Spring has sprung and with it, the first cotton short-sleeved sweater of the season.
This cute wrap sweater is heading to Alaska where it may be layered over a long sleeved shirt for awhile, but that's okay. Hopefully it'll last her through next Fall and beyond! (the random string in the back is just something that was on the table...forgot to brush it off before trying it on my model :)) As you will be able to see, seaming is still my weakness...if I can figure out how to knit this baby in the round I will... Holding 2 strands of cotton yarn and using size 13 needles, this project is a super quick knit, taking about 4 hours from start to finish plus seaming time. Oh, and it's made in size 2 years, which is why it fits a little on the short side on dear H.




The Piano Teacher

Since re-discovering the library, I can't seem to read enough these days. I've always been a voracious reader, but lately it's even moreso. Flying through the Twilight series, engrossed in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell about a chief Medical Examiner in Virginia to sate my morbid curiosities (though I question the sanity in doing that, as I often have to put it down and read something else late at night if I've already checked the locks on the windows and doors more than twice, looked in closets and even under my bed....), or more instructional tomes like Knitting Circles Around Socks I've reinforced that books will always be an intrinsic part of my life; continually connecting with characters on paper that you wish you knew in real life.

I had read reviews for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee in a magazine and put them in my request queue at the library right away. The Piano Teacher came almost immediately and it was amazing! It just came out last month so run, don't walk, to your local library and check out a copy.


Not often does a book leave such a lasting impression. Set in World War II Hong Kong, and then a decade later, the stories of the women who are the lovers of Will Truesdale, a British man in Hong Kong, unfold on the pages with rich language that isn't wordy for wordy's sake and tell of two women whose lives are very different, but have Will as their center.


What struck me the most was that the in the second 'life' he is only a decade older yet the war has so changed him, making him a much older man. Throughout, I just kept thinking about our current situation and how we, as citizens of the US, are often so insulated from the everyday grisly details of war. Yes, we have the news media now but I imagine they still can't do justice to the in-person experience; the sights, smells and tastes of the depictions in the book are so vivid, that it makes you again feel at the least, fortunate, to live where we do if only geographically.


I loved The Piano Teacher, and would read it again if only to see what pieces I may have missed in the rich tapestry that she wove throughout to lead you to the final scenes. I won't include any more details because I wouldn't want to spoil any surprises.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heirloom Treasures

I've been talking and talking and talking to J (and anyone who will listen) about growing tomatoes and peppers on the patio of our apartment this summer. I checked the book Square Foot Gardening out at the library, and it has a lot of good information.


Then, Henry Charlie and I were at a tour of Warren Farm and Sugar House a couple week-ends ago to see how "Saaaaarap" gets made and she had magnets at the register advertising her heirloom tomato plant sale.

Not only do they sell heirloom tomato plants, but they have "Patio Tomato Planters and Hanging Baskets"...phew! This is way more my speed, as I should be dipping my toes in (ask my friend Les, who can tell you how well I keep most plants alive) instead of building planters and starting from seed on my first try.

I can already taste the fresh tomato-basil-mozzarella salad that I'll be able to drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar when summer's in full-swing.

Don't worry, I don't plan to make my own mozzarella...I do know my own limitations. Sometimes. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's always nice to find someone who takes it way further than you...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Heart 3rd Position

Get yo' mind out of the gutters! I'm talking about spin class. Today, I went for the second time this week, and I had forgotten how much time it really takes for your hinder to get used to the teeny tiny seats that are made for people who have the actual physique to bike (my sister's ex-husband who is about 5 feet tall and 90 pounds is a great example).

I still have to dig out my spinning shoes and heart monitor from the closet o' doom, but I've been resisting getting the padded shortst that everyone who's anyone wears. Today, as I sighed with relief each time we rose out of the saddle to 3rd position, I realized that I need to be more pragmatic in that decision.

My real reason for not getting them is that my legs are currently such that it may look similar to a sausage that has spilled out of its casing if I were to wear spandex shorts. I wear full or capris length running tights to the gym, and that's fine because they're boot cut and go to at least mid-calf.

However, this morning as I stood and got some tingling as sensation returned to the area I decided that it would be better to be known as the Jimmy Dean Cycler than to never have feeling in my 'region' again. I know what I'll be buying on amazon today.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baby Einstein World Music

Baby Einstein has a new DVD. I had the chance to review the new World Music DVD.

The Buck(s) Stops Where

Over the last year or so, I've been getting the distinct impression that I'm getting a little less coffee each time I go to Starbucks. It started when I was getting ready to take Sherri to the airport on one of her visits here and we got coffee the night before because we were damned if we'd get Dunkin Donuts in the morning as Starbucks didn't open that early. We had them use the flat lid and then put them straight in the fridge and heated them up in the morning. I know! So not the same as freshly steamed milk, but I'm telling you, we are hopelessly devoted.

Imagine my surprise when I took my lid off before re-heating the next morning and saw that there was over three inches g.o.n.e. gone. Did I order a bone-dry cappuccino by mistake?! Nope, I just got robbed.

Every so often after that I'd pluck my coffee from the counter before politely returning the cardboard sleeve and plopping the cup into one of my own creations (plug, plug, I know), and the cup was suspiciously light. I just get a non-fat latte, so I want every stitch of milk I'm supposed to get!

By coincidence I overheard someone asking them to use minimal foam, so I started doing the same. But should I have to? Is there really supposed to be that much foam in a latte? Any baristas reading my blog?

My usual drink now is a non-fat latte. Plain and Simple. But occasionally I order a flavored latte and have to channel Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally or it's a syrupy mess with a full head of whipped cream. In a time when I'm trying to simplify my life should I really be paying $5 to say Triple Venti Nonfat No Whip Two Pump Pumpkin Spice Latte? Now I have to add Light Foam?!

If I were making a pro/con list the cons may win but alas, I know I'll be standing in line again before the week is out.

I feel like Jake Gyllenhaal and Starbucks is the late, great, Heath Ledger; I wish I knew how to quit you!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three of a Kind; Workin' on a Full House*

The other night while J and I were polishing off a tres expensive Trader Joe's bottle of pinot noir, I asked him when he thought we should have our next baby. Because under the influence of alcohol is the best time to discuss family planning, right?

I know that we won't have another Massachusetts baby, but how long after we move? I am a planner. So, J agrees that it should be just after we move, it would be wisest to get pregnant just as he's deployable, right? You can see why this discussion during intoxication is so wise.

J says that he'd like to be done having kids when he's 37, and I said that I'll be happy to be done by 35.

Wait.

I may have gotten a BA in order to avoid taking any math classes in college, but I think that even Math 087 would find this story problem elementary:

Girl A is 29. Boy B is 33. If Girl A wishes to procreate until the age of 35 but Boy B would like to be done at 37, how many children can they have and still maintain over two years of space in between? Note: They currently have an infant, leaving 2 years before the next child may safely arrive.

That's right, only one...but I want two more. J's reason for only one more? "Because it's good to have a tie-breaker." Uh, last I checked parenting was not a democracy, so unless the third you're bringing in is another wife, it won't matter. But, I kept that to myself.

I felt a little twinge in my womb. She has a lot of good years left in her. Only One More?! she cried out. But I just sat there sipping my wine. I've found that the uterus usually wins ovum the sperm. Sorry, Freudian slip, I mean over the sperm. I'd be willing to bet my left ovary we'll have those four kids.

*Thank you rural upbringing for giving me Garth Brooks songs, the lyrics from which I could later gather clever titles.

**Upon reading this out loud to my husband, who almost never gives more than a chuckle, he said "Why don't you just have 8, Octomom?" Hillarious.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Norton Online Family


Get your free trial of Norton Online Family, by clicking the link in my post over on Knitty Reviews

Squeaking By

This morning, I woke up to a familiar sound. No, it wasn't the glugging of the coffee-maker or even of sleeping children. It was to the high-pitched squeal of the shower as J got ready to leave for lecture. Seriously, you turn it a fraction to the left or right and the squeal will stop...then you can put it right back to your perfect water temp.

I flounced into the bathroom and unceremoniously tore back the shower curtain sans contacts or glasses and blearily reached for the faucet amidst J's protests. "No. Really. Let me get that for you!" The squealing stopped instantly, but it was too late...Good morning, boys!

J apologized sheepishly as he came out to put on his socks and shoes and found me ensconsed in children, and I put on my best early morning smile "Oh no, darling. Please. I love being able to see you off in the morning, so I'm so glad you didn't just let me and the kids sleep through your departure! Mwah!"

Yep, I'm still just as snarky when I'm tired as I was when I was 16.
PHOTO Credits: Found on Trisha Novotny's blog.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wrap It Up

I'm cautiously optimistic about my latest endeavor; selling my felted 'java jackets' at a local coffee shop. After the umpteenth time burning my hand on the too-hot paper cup with nary a sleeve in sight, I mentioned to the owner that I make my own, but kept forgetting it.

She asked me to bring some in and the next thing you know I'm printing out "Go Green with Java Jackets by Sally HP" labels to tie on my newly felted creations. Will I have a huge profit margin? No. But it's fun, and it's something to keep me busy...because two kids and a household to run just wasn't enough. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'm just excited to get my name out there and have something to do that's my very own.

Plus, it gets a little old spending your husband's money all the time. Who knew?! I was trying to teach H and C to say "Hey, Sugar Daddy!" when J walks in from work, but it's just not catching on.

On that note, J and I will be celebrating our six year anniversary in just a few weeks. It's too bad it's not our seventh, or I'd be able to wittily quip about the seven-year-itch (well, I guess I still try) as I've recently developed a raging allergic reaction to my ring, leaving me self-consciously mentioning my husband each time someone sees the crazed mommy of two in the grocery store and glances conspicuously at my naked finger.

J kept telling me to "Stop wearing that ring, and put some cortisone cream and a band-aid on it!"; my response? "What? Are you a doctor or something? Oh. Well, you're not my doctor." Seriously, will the boy never learn? I finally followed the dear doctor's advice and, miraculously, it cleared up. I slipped my ring back on and within a few hours it was red and angry again.

I had initially chalked it up to the cold, dry winter paired with the 8 billion daily hand-washings that come with changing diapers and wiping bottoms. Now, I know that it's just my body's way of throwing me a bone. When I see that perfect "past, present, future" ring that's over 2 carats I can say with confidence My Body Needs It! J didn't find this theory humorous. He doesn't understand my lust for an item that often means death and destruction in several countries in Africa.
Really, I think it's just that the yellow gold is peeking through and it needs to be re-rhodium-plated...guess I'm a cheap date after all.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Woman of the Cloth-The Redux

yesterday, I anxiously awaited the buzz of my doorbell. My favorite man in brown had a special delivery for me, and I was ex-ci-ted. It is probable (note, I don't say is) a sign that my life is what some could call a little dull, as the object of my ardour was...drumroll please; my shipment of bumGenius 3.0 diapers!

The ritual of unwrapping each diaper and it's accompanying microfiber inserts, un-snapping the sizing snaps and fastening the velcro onto the laundry tabs while placing them into their neat and respective piles before lovingly carrying them to the front-loader for their innaugural wash was about the same level of zen I feel when I'm in the rhythm of knitting socks or something.

Then, later that night, as I sat and talked with J while snapping the insert to size, snapping the diaper to the right setting, folding and arranging them in happy little rows in the cabinet. To someone who doesn't get that warm feeling in their belly when they see the splashes of color in a quilting or yarn store, I won't be able to describe it to you, but there is just something so nice about color. I am officially a cloth diaper convert.

The winter is winding down (I hope) and it's almost 60 degrees as I sit here just before 11am. I'm taking H and C on a Maple Sugar sampling tour today while J toils away at the hospital, and I just can't wait to get out in the warm sunshine and get some fresh air...

On that note:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bump Watch 2009

No, I'm not talking about eyeing the bellies of skinny celebrities to attempt an early detection of pregnancy...or a lot of carbs for lunch; I'm talking about the impending arrival of C's first tooth. H had his first sprout when he was only four months old, and C started the drooling, swollen gummed mess at that time as well, but five months later-nothin'!

Yesterday, I finally saw the tell-tale opaque bump that was swollen and rounded, now just waiting for that razor-sharp edge to come through. I don't know that 'anxiously awaiting' is the right phrase, because I'm sure my girls would be more than happy if he was a Gummy Gus for three more months.

After all, he ate 1/4 of a grilled cheese today without teeth, I think he'd be fine for a few more months, right?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two Much of a Good Thing

So, I cast on my first pair of socks on circular needles, my first pair of toe-up socks and my first time making two socks at once. Oh, did I mention this was all the same project? It only took me about two rounds to realize that maybe I should master one at a time. So, here I am with a cuff-down pair of socks, based on the pattern by FuzzyNoodleKnits; Ladies Simple Socks on Two Circs (the featured photo is from her ravelry page). She based her pattern on Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles.


I have to say that after a small issue with self-confidence, once I just made myself do it instead of stewing over the pattern, it's really simple. In one evening, I finished the bulk of one sock.

Once I realized how simple it really was, I wished I'd cast on both socks...there was no way I was frogging it a third time, though.

Here's my progress so far:



Cuff completed and starting on the leg.



The heel is turned, the gusset complete and now just working on the foot-aka the home stretch. I'll post pictures when they're completed. My friend Alex is going to do these also, so we're having our second knit along...yep, I've converted another one!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To' up from the Flo' Up


Today, I'm starting a pair of toe-up socks, knitting both socks at once on two circular needles. It's my fourth pair of socks, so I feel comfortable in that way; turning the heel and all that jazz...but the magic cast-on and the tricks of using two circulars may present their own special challenges. We shall see!