Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review- ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

The debut novel for author Stephanie Perkins is a force to be reckoned with. Let me tell you my friends, Stephanie knows how to keep you turning those pages. This story is packed with so much romance, kissing and chocolate, it's enough to make you need a cigarette after reading it!! (In no way am I advocating smoking here!!)

***Warning! Spoilers ahead!***

Anna is sent to France for her Senior year of high school, at the demand of her sappy melo-drama novelist father. He insists it will expand her horizons to live abroad. Anna is reluctant at first because she just kind of started a thing with a guy back home. But as fate, and her father, would have it she is destined for France. And for Etienne St.Clair! Yummy British accented, American/French St.Clair.

Anna meets Meredith right away and becomes friends with her, and in turn Meredith's circle of friends, which includes, hunky, kind, intelligent, yummy, delightful, (did I say yummy?), Etienne St. Clair. Anna and him hit it off right away, but soon she finds out he's involved with a girl who graduated from their school last year and is attending a college nearby. So Anna tells herself they can't be anything more than friends, but quickly they are spending more and more time together; going to movies, which is Anna's passion, eating crepes and other delicious things together. 

Bad news comes along for St.Clair about his mother, and he finds himself in a funk he can't shake off. His grades slip, he withdraws from his friends, including Anna. His controlling father refuses to let him return to San Francisco to see his mother until Christmas break, and he has to pull up his grades. Anna is worried about him, and the two find themselves mostly alone at the school over Thanksgiving break. She finally coaxes him into his shower and out of the dorms, to see the city and spend some quality time together.

They spend almost every moment together during the few days they have, and Anna feels herself even more drawn to him than before. She thinks he might be too, but he still has that pesky college girlfriend. Plus Anna reminds herself that she kind of has that thing with that guy back home.

As Christmas break draws near they return to see their families. They end up on the same flight out of Paris together, and keep in touch the entire time they're apart. Anna finds out that thing isn't actually anything, as her best friend back home is now officially dating that guy. Anna is upset by this, and causes a rift between her and her best friend. St.Clair gets to spend time with his mother as she's undergoing treatments for her condition.

Eventually they return to the school in Paris, and just as Anna thinks maybe something could be happening with St.Clair, he pulls back and begins spending more time with his college girlfriend. After a period of not talking, tension and hurt feelings they begin to hang out again. This time things really heat up, and St.Clair realizes Anna is the one he wants to be with. There comes a moment, a hot steamy, French romantic moment, where they both realize this and lips collide, oblivious to the world around them. Meredith spots them, and having had a crush on St.Clair since before Anna was in the picture, she becomes upset. St.Clair runs off after her, and Anna doesn't take this well. In fact, she hasn't heard from St.Clair at all in a few days after this amazing moment. She assumes he ran back to his college girlfriend, realizing his mistake.

What Anna doesn't know is that he did run back to her. To tell her it was over. Once he finally finds Anna, at the top of the tower of Notre Dame (conquering his fear of heights to do so), he tells her it's her he wants. Not only is Anna the one for him, but she also helps to solve a big problem for St.Clair. His father.

And let me tell you the kissing that ensues from there is just marvelous. 

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is amazing, romantic, funny, relatable, exciting and just damn good! 

I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Stephanie Perkins is a gifted YA author, and I can't wait until the release of her next book, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR.

In fact, Stephanie will be celebrating the release of her second novel on Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at Malaprops in Asheville, NC. The book will be available for purchase, and she will be available to sign it! Please come out and see her. As a fellow North Carolinian, I will be there, with my daughter and my bells on! 

Hope to see you there!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review: DREAMLAND by Sarah Dessen

My local library loves me. Why? Because I check out books at least once a week and always return them promptly. Because I read them as if at any moment, they may self destruct in my hands. This makes my librarian happy. I keep her busy in this small town. Especially with Sarah Dessen novels. I just can't get enough of her stories. And my latest literary adventure, courtesy of Ms. Dessen, was DREAMLAND.

 *warning spoilers ahead!*

 DREAMLAND is a story of a teenage girl, Caitlin who is coping with her older sister Cassandra suddenly changing her parents' plans for her and moving away to New York with her boyfriend. Cassandra was always the over achiever, good at everything she did, and bound for Yale. Caitlin is left somewhat stunned from her sister's sudden absence, and having always been in her shadow, decides to forge her own path. She reluctantly tries out for the cheerleading squad under the coercion of her best friend, Rina. They both make the squad. Caitlin's mother is suddenly interested in her life, and has something to fill the void of Cassandra's sudden departure. Their mother resumes her position as schedule keeper, organizer and volunteer in Caitlin's extra curricular activities, much to Caitlin's chagrin.

Caitlin is going along with the motions of her life, and at least doing something that her sister never had. But she is bound to create an even more unique path for herself after meeting Rogerson at a car wash one night before a party. Something about him captivates her; his mystery, his dark green eyes and cool demeanor. She makes a choice, and rejects the chance to be the arm candy of a player on the football team she cheers for. Instead she walks onto a path she could never have imagined with Rogerson.

At first they get along well, and spend almost all of their extra time together. Although Caitlin finds out just why he does so much driving around, popping up at parties and community service. He sells pot and other drugs for extra cash. She begins to smoke pot with him here and there. She also witnesses a brutal encounter with Rogerson and his father, which results in Rogerson being physically assualted by his father. Caitlin does what she can to comfort him, and wants to make the hurt go away.

Time marches on, and they become closer to each other, as the physical side to their relationship becomes hotter and heavier. She is beginning to understand why Cassandra chose love over Yale. She has never felt like this before, and finds that she feels wonderful with him; like someone else entirely. 

Until one fateful afternoon, she pushes Rogerson's buttons the wrong way, and he strikes her across the face. Caitlin is stunned and doesn't know how he could do that; how he could change into someone else so suddenly. She is dazed but ends up excusing away his behavior and making up a story to her parents about her swollen and bruised face.

Eventually the beatings become more and more regular, and Rogerson takes to hitting her in places less obvious that she can cover up with clothing. She constantly worries about pleasing him so as not to set him off and face another beating. She can't keep up the pace of her life and her grades begin to slip, as do her efforts in cheerleading and her relationship with her best friend Rina. She smokes more and more pot to deal with the stress of her precarious life, constantly on edge and bracing for another beating. The secret is eating her alive, and inside she wishes someone would guess it and save her, because she is too ashamed to tell anyone.

Eventually it all comes to a head when a neighbor witnesses Rogerson beating her outside of her own house during a party her parents are throwing in the backyard. Caitlin then has to deal with the truth of what's been going on in her life, and letting go of Rogerson. It's a struggle for her to do it, but with her family and her best friend Rina there to support her, she makes it through to making herself whole again. Recreating herself from the fragmented person she had become.

This story was amazing, well written, and riveting to the end. I couldn't put this book down until I was done reading it. And it was especially meaningful for me because of my own sister. She was in an extremely abusive marriage for over 12 years, and many times I extended my hand to help her. Many times she turned away from me. I had a very hard time understanding why she stayed, and why she chose to live her life the way she did for all those years. But Sarah's poignant novel gave me a new perspective on the inner workings of a domestic abuse victim, and helped me to see why she stayed for so long. It wasn't all black and white for Caitlin, nor could it have been for my sister. I am thankful for the chance Sarah has given me to understand my beautiful sister that much more.  

(Oh and yes, she finally left the jerk 4 years ago!)

 So, in conclusion, I give DREAMLAND 5 out of 5 stars. Go get this book and read it! Especially if domestic violence is something that has touched your life. Buy from your local indie bookseller here, or check it out at your local library. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Hunger Games Ate Me

One day last week or so, I was bored and looking for a new book to read on Amazon. I came across the HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, and read the first chapter. OMG, I was hooked, and didn't hesitate to buy the Kindle version right then and there. I live way out in the country, so a trip to the bookstore takes forever, and I didn't want to wait for the UPS guy to hook me up. I also ordered the whole set so I could read CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY. I read all three books in about 5 days, which is kind of a record for me. I even avoided laundry to get in more reading time. Dedicated, I am. And a lifetime fan now. I even had dreams about Katniss kicking various people's asses and the story has stuck with me since. I know I'm late to the party here, but I am in love with this series. And I'm happy to know they're making a movie out of the trilogy next year, set to be released March 23, 2012.

I wish there were more amazing kick ass stories like this. It takes YA (for me) to a whole new level of maturity, and it's subject matter is refreshing in a sea of vampires, werewolves and other random mythical creatures. Not that I don't like those things, they just could use a rest. Katniss's voice is strong, intelligent and to the point. She's a woman of action with a heart of gold. She just keeps it safely behind her bow and arrow!

If you haven't read the HUNGER GAMES, don't waste anymore time. Go read it!! Here I will make it easy for you, click this! Broke? Check out the library, or borrow it from a friend!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Moses, Haplo & Awesomeness

I have to give a shout out to my friend, Moses Siregar III today. Why? Because he mentioned me and my love of Haplo from the Death Gate Cycle series by Weis & Hickman in his latest Podcast on Adventures in SciFi Publishing. Listen here...

Also, if you haven't gotten his novella, THE BLACK GOD'S WAR, what are you waiting for?? Go download it and read it because it is awesome!!!

Holla, Moses! Can't wait for your full novel to drop!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."

Want to see something beautiful? How about some nice homemade from scratch cookie dough?

Yummy. This batch was my daughter's idea: White Chocolate & Butterscotch. She's a smart girl.

Do you need to know what it looks like cooked? Ok I won't tease you:


Sorry but I can't give ya the recipe. It's my one big secret. Don't feel bad, I won't even tell my family. A girl's gotta have one ace up her sleeve, eh?

It's a rainy wet day so we're in here just cooking away!

Peace out ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Butter Opens Doors....and stomachs. But may clog arteries.

I've been a busy bee cooking like it's 1999. I've been stuck in the house with my kids because they're all sick, and I kept asking IT Guy to pick me up some stick butter. You know, since I can't go to the store with children hacking up the croup and puking the flu. Well, finally he remembered!!

And so I made these....Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies....

I made this....Chicken Pot Pie....This is before cooking...

And this is the big daddy cooked....

So much pot pie! And cookies!! And butter. Yummy. Needless to say, IT Guy has been quite pleased with my culinary creations, and his decision to finally remember my butter.

Oh and look at the killer Chicken & Roast Beef Sammie I made for lunch yesterday with my awesome bread....

I've been posting these pictures as well on my personal Facebook page, and my family is all asking me to mail them things. Should I? How do I even mail food?

Do I smell a home bakery brewing??


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Best thing since air: Homemade Bread. Also, check out Moses Siregar III

I promised pics of my homemade bread if it turned out well, and man did it ever turn out!! I've never tasted bread so DE-LIC-IOUS!! I feel like I've been ripped off all these years in the taste bud department with store bought bread!!

Needless to say, I do believe I'll be making my family's bread from now on. If I could just find mini bread pans for IT Guy's (that's my husband's designated new nickname, stay with me here) hoagie sandwiches he likes to take to work. Oh, look I found some! Ok, then!

And if you're in the mood to read some killer new fantasy from a new author, check out Moses Siregar III's novella, The Black God's War. It's only $0.99 for kindle and it's worth it!! I am really looking forward to the release of the whole novel. His writing style so far is compelling, fresh and intelligent. And his characters are pretty freakin sweet, too.

Ok, I'm out. Ghost!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blue Cakes, Pink Mustangs and Croup. Oh, and flu. And a Sys Admin!

Hello! I have been very busy the past few weeks and haven't updated my blog, and thus I apologize. However, I have had good reason to be absent! My daughter's 5th birthday party was a couple weeks ago, and with that came hosting and out of town guests. I was required to make her cake this year (by order of her highness) and did that as well. It wasn't the most beautiful cake, but it was damn good!

Here it is: "Blue Strawberry Birthday Cake with Blue Sprinkles"

The cake was a hit, and so were her gifts. She even knew that this present she was opening was a baby doll-that she picked out at the store, no less- and feigned excitement. I have to say I am proud of her acting skills.

The hit of the day was her long coveted Pink Mustang, which I was able to get for her with the help of my entire family. Seriously do Power Wheels really need to be $300? Anyway my 2 year old son loves being chauffeured in it now:

So after all that died down, then the kids started getting sick. My daughter and youngest son got a bad cough, then fevers and a doc visit revealed an ear infection in my toddler. And croup in both of them. My toddler's state was worse off so he was prescribed an oral steroid for his lungs and antibiotics for his ears. And let me tell you that terrible two's (which his aren't usually that bad, but he has his moments) mixed with roid rage is NOT cool. Wow, I have never seen a little dude get so mad and start chucking his cars around because you told him to wait one sec on the juice refill cause you're elbow deep in a sink of dishes. Glad that script is gone!! My daughter seems to be coping with it better, but gets intermittent fevers and lethargy which are really weird. She's fine one second, and then suddenly falling asleep and has a fever. My oldest son, who is in first grade had managed to avoid all this so far, until last night....

And he doesn't have croup. No, he has the flu. He started to run a fever last night shorty before bedtime. We gave him some Motrin and thought ok, maybe he's getting the croup too. Well, about midnight last night, I'm taking a shower and suddenly hear a loud "Thud!" from the kids' bedroom. Then I hear hubby scrambling and walking urgently across the house between the kids' room and the kitchen. Meanwhile, I'm trying to hurry up so I can help because I'm wondering what the hell is going on in there. I get out and WOW, the smell almost knocked me over. That poor dude got sick, from his top bunk, puked most of it onto his baby brother's toddler bed (but managed to actually miss said toddler) jumped over the puke pile, and ran to get Daddy. I cleaned up the boy while hubby cleaned up the mess, and I'm throwing various things in the washer as he's handing them off to me. I almost puked about 10 times. Yeah, it was like that. HORRIBLE!!! Oh the joys of parenting! And may I mention how thankful I am for adult immune systems? So far I've only had a sore throat. Yay! Maybe that antibiotic I took earlier in the month for my sinus infection helped me out.

And so here I am, nursing 3 sick children who are all laying around watching movies. And I'm cooking to ease my boredom. If my first attempt at homemade bread turns out, I may post it here!

OH!!!!! Hubby got promoted at his work to System Administrator. He got a raise, an iPad, and they're going to start paying for our internet and his cell. Score!!!! I am so proud of him, after almost 12 years in generally the same positions, he's finally gotten that promotion he deserves. You go, sexy! Your wife thinks you rock.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Digital Surgery + Muff

OK, so obviously I have been performing surgery on my blog. I just didn't ever like the generic templates available, and nothing was really my style. But after many days of searching, I'm happy to have settled on a new design. I really like this one! And I added a new page for "Advice". Why? Because I am good at listening and giving advice, so I've been told over the years. My name literally translates to "advisor of the laurel tree" (helloooo, Monica Lauren) and so maybe it's in the cards for me. Plus, I like to help people. So here I am people ready to help! Ask me junk!

On another note, today is my daughter's 5th birthday and I made her delicious blueberry muffins, hash browns, pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Yummy! Happy Birthday my gorgeous girl!!

So enjoy my revamped site! I still have a bit of work to do on it, but it's finally ready to go. Ask me anything, I dare you!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Culinary Lamentation

Last night, my Grandma Carolyn passed away. She had Alzheimer's and Post-Polio Syndrome. She had Polio from when she was born in 1933 until she was about 5. She didn't walk until then. But then she was somehow recovered and grew up into a beautiful woman, got married and had my Dad and Aunt. Married again, and had a great (I hope) time with her grandkids; me and my older sister. Until we moved away about 19 years ago.

Anyway, I will miss my Grandma, but I know she's not in pain anymore (the PPS was pretty severe), and she's in that cosmic place in the heavens where we will all end up one day. And I'll see her again. Good part to me: she can see my Grandpa again, who was murdered when I was about 12.

So in her honor, I made this delicious from scratch, fresh-fruit blueberry pie. I named it, "I Miss My Grandma Blueberry Pie".

In my day of lamentation, I also made this delicious beef stew; in her honor:


Monday, January 24, 2011

I am Pie Samurai

Yesterday was National Pie Day, and in honor of such, I made my Awesome Apple Pie.

YOWZA. It's the best one I've ever made, and let me tell you...I ate it for dinner. Yes my huge slice of Pie was dinner.

Do you wanna make pies? Yes I wanna make pies! And I made a damn good pie. I am Pie Samurai. Observe, and witness the yumminess.

And just to be generous, here's my recipe:


Serves 10 to 12

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for pie top
Sugar & Cinnamon to taste
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of honey
1large egg, beaten
2 Pre-made or from Scratch Pie Shells

1. Heat oven to 375. Press one pie shell into the pie plate. Place the other circle on waxed paper, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill all pastry until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, spices, and flour. Toss well. Spoon apples into pie pan. Dot with butter, drizzle a touch of honey and cover with remaining pastry circle. Cut several steam vents across top. Seal by crimping edges as desired. Brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with additional sugar.

3. Bake until crust is brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cooking, Worms and Grannies

Ok, I have to admit I haven't been cooking out my Julia Child's cookbook. I know, I am naughty, however I am admitting it and that's the first step. I have utilized quite a few of her techniques, though and she rocks!! Her basic knowledge is amazing; for instance I now know when the butter is just right for browning meat. We've been on a bit of an Italian and Cajun kick around here, and so I haven't tried another Julia recipe as of yet, but will be soon!

Today it's my awesome Step-Dad's Louisiana Red Beans & Rice! Yummmmy!

Also, I've been a bit distracted as of late because my kitten got tapeworms this week, although I have no clue how since he gets Frontline every month. He was sick when I got him back in October and I got him dewormed and vaccinated then. So I've been dealing with that, and got him and the older kitty treated at the vet, and got some Revolution. My conclusion is that Frontline sucks!!

My Grandma is also very sick and in hospice about 12 hours away from me and I've been debating pulling my oldest from school and going there, but don't know if I can make that drive by myself with a 6 year old, 4 year old and 2 year old. Hubby just started his new IT job a month ago and he doesn't need to be taking time off already, especially in this economy. So I'm pondering the logistics of the situation and getting updates from my Father on her condition. She has Alzheimer's and seems to have just given up; she refuses to eat. She refused a feeding tube. It's against her wishes to have that sort of life saving procedure done, and stated in her living will. So it's a really sad situation and I'm a little gloomy about that right now... I haven't lost a Grandparent in 20 years and still have 3 alive and well. I was just hoping it would stay that way for some time.

Anywhoooo, don't mean to be the party pooper! I'm off to my delicious dinner and kitchen cleaning.

Au revoir!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I made soup and became DICING LORD!

The Potage Parmentier was good. It was light and creamy and the taste was delicious. That being said it was more meticulous than I had anticipated, and required a lot of tending. I'm used to a homemade soup being thrown into a pot and simmering half the day until it's ready and yummy, not much fuss. But, it was neat to learn some extra steps and I learned the coolest thing EVAR!

How to dice onions the RIGHT way. Julia says in her book, once mastered it makes dicing go lightning fast. And holy cow was she right!!! Am I allowed to share? Do you have to buy the book to find the light of dicing truth? I dunno so if you want to know, email me and I'll tell you the secret!

Can you dice onions lightning fast? I can! Also, the same technique applies to almost anything you can dice. I used it a couple days later when I made my Step-Dad's Red Beans & Rice for the onion, celery and bell pepper. YOWZA! I want to cook more stuff just so I can dice it, or dice just for the hell of it!! I AM DICING LORD! *plugs cheesy Toph reference*

That being said, I am now on cooking fancy French recipes break due to a lack of funding. Yes I await the ever elusive payday. Until then, I'll be reading and writing as usual. I have no new books to read aside from my cookbook I just bought, so it's back to the bookshelf to see what I haven't read in a while, or skipped over.

Happy Sunday! I'll be digging in for the forthcoming snow on the way. Have a safe week!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Julia doth teach me...

Yesterday I finally drove to the next town and bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I sat down and read the Introduction to the Anniversary Edition, the Foreword to the 1983 edition, the Foreword, Acknowledgements, the Table of Contents; you know all the stuff typically you'd skip when eager to get into the book. There was a wealth of information in just those areas, and allowed me to get a feel for how Julia thought and performed at life. Once I was done with that, I went into the basics such as her minutely detailed descriptions and explanations of kitchen equipment, measurements, temperatures, conversions, proper cutting techniques, and even wine selection. Holy cooking bible batman!!

After I read all the basics, I read through a lot of the recipes, step by step. I can't wait to pick one and cook it! I'm carefully combing through and finding out which would be the best one to start with, and also considering my family's tastes. I know my husband will try whatever I decide to concoct, as will my 2 year old. My 6 and 4 year olds however, are a picky bunch to please. I'm hoping this newfound cooking knowledge will help to expand their limited palates and encourage them to try new things!

So what first? Do I attempt the famed "Boeuf Bourguignon" or my husband's request of a Tart?

After some careful consideration, I think I'm going to make "Potage Parmentier" because it's cold out, it looks easy to start with and I have the ingredients.

Happy cooking! (And reading!)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Blog, New Direction! Happy 2011!

HAPPY 2011! May this year bring you all prosperity, love, peace, joy and may you transform into the being you always wished to be!

Yes, it's been a while since I last posted to my sadly neglected little blog. But in my defense I was quite distracted. My whole life turned upside down, and through the transitional phase, I found myself with little time for my own interests anymore. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that we moved 3 states away, went through an unemployment phase and stepped back in time about 50 years in terms of modern amenities. More like nostalgic amenities, but it's actually kind of fun. I only lament the loss of using my dryer-which sits next to the washer taunting me-because in freezing weather you have to hang clothes inside. That severely limits the quantity in which I can get done in a day. But, we are LOVING the 6.5 acres we now sit upon, the fresh air and the cute little house that is becoming our home. (And I've started a dryer fund to save for the electrical work that needs to be done!) Gratitude is abound, and my awesome hubby finally found a new IT position in our new state, and things are settling back to normal. I am also happy to report that I was able to resign from my less than desirable part-time job I had taken during our interim period of unemployment. Man, it's good to be back to my home, my kids and my joy!!

Since right after Thanksgiving, I have been under the weather with some kind of bronchial infection. I didn't go to the doctor because we have a lull in insurance coverage at the moment since hubby was laid off last summer. (His new insurance starts in February, hooray!) Well my sickness got so bad that I was getting dizzy spells and my heart was racing from coughing all the time, and my throat felt like I swallowed magma spiked with razor blades. Right around Christmas I couldn't function anymore, and just walking around would get me dizzy and pounding. So finally I went to the doctor in town and just paid outright for the visit and meds. He gave me some antibiotics, prednisone and an inhaler and within about 5 days I was feeling back to myself again. The reason I'm sharing this is because during my downtime, I came across the movie, Julie & Julia and was inspired by Julia Child's masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I thought Julie Powell's initiative to cook all 524 of Julia's recipes in 365 days was amazing, and I decided that after I recovered and acquired the book, I was going to cook those recipes too. I don't know about the aspics, or if I'll get it done in 365 days, but I am going to get the book and learn to cook the way we were meant to cook. Everything nowadays is rush through in 30 minutes, get it done fast, use canned ingredients, hurry, hurry, hurry! Well I am home with my kids, I have the time and I love to cook. I feel like I've been resting on my laurels as far as my cooking skills and needs to branch out so to speak. And so I'll be getting Julia's book either today from the Books A Million that's 30 minutes away in the next town over, or I may order it from Amazon if they don't have it in stock.

Cooking to me is a release, an outlet and a way to bring family together. Plus, my 2 year old demands dishes with an adult palate. Everyone needs to eat, so why not make it something really special, every time? Why settle for good enough or 30 minutes or less if you have more than that to put into the health of your family? I remember as a child going to my Grandparents' house on Sundays and my Grandma cooking half the day and making an amazing meal for everyone. We gathered in the kitchen and the women helped her, and we talked and laughed and snitched food. Grandpa would patiently and eagerly await the meal and praise her highly once it was presented. I must expand my skills and master the ART of COOKING!

524 recipes in 365 days? Umm no. Julie Powell didn't have 3 kids. I do. So I'm thinking more like 524 in 524. Minus the aspics. Yuck!

Don't worry all you bookies. I am still a big reader & writer and I'm not giving up on my dream of becoming a published author one day. I'm still working on my manuscripts and querying agents with my finished and polished children's book. But I'm a Gemini and must do something to appease the other half of me, and she loves to cook. ;)

Wish me luck, and happy eating!!

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." ~Neil Gaiman