Playing Many Parts

Book Review: The Nightingale

It’s been two weeks since I finished this book and I am still mourning the loss of these characters.  This was a very well written book.  Had I known it was a book about survivors of WWII I probably wouldn’t have read it, but once started, I had to finish.

Both the character development and the beautiful scenery descriptions made these old friends in a place I knew well, even though I have never been to Paris or France.  The quickly moving plot in this historical fiction had me turning pages almost as quickly as when I read the last pages of  The Historian.

I have not read other books by Kristin Hannah, but I now have several of her others on my Amazon wish list and am anxious for my next vacation so I can start a reading marathon.  This was a very happy, unexpected surprise 5 star read for me.  Others have noted that her characters are more modern than a housewife in the 40s would have been, but it is an 80 year old living in the 1990s telling the story, so it all seemed believable to me, but then again, I wasn’t around in 1940 to know.  It seems to me to be a well crafted story of wartime France.


Book Review – More Herby Goodness

So I am new to the whole herbal medicine scene.  I have been checking out websites, watching YouTube videos, and ordering all of the things I need.  A friend recommended that I go over to Amazon and see if there were any free books for the KindlePC that might be helpful to me, and boy was he right!

I lucked upon Herbs Gone Wild! and got it the one day it was being offered for free.  And while my favorite herbal website so far has to be, my favorite book so far is this one by Diane Kidman.  I have been copying and pasting her recipes like crazy and have been taking notes on all the new herbs I need to buy and try.  Diane writes in a very approachable style and has a very easy going manner that makes it much less intimidating to give some of her recipes a try.  Watch for posts in the near future using some of her recipes.

I would pay a lot for this book.  It is a fantastic reference book on herbs and how to use them.

Book Review – How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was not what I expected.

Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge – List

I have spent a couple of days now going over the reviews at The Hidden Side of a Leaf and have my list set for the challenge.  I do however, reserve the right to change my mind at any moment for any reason.  Most likely, as I go back through the reviews I may just find other books that interest me more, but here is my first attempt at a list:

2003 – The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

2004 – The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle but may change to The Lovely bones by Alice Sebold

2005 – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood or Saturday by Ian McEwan

2006 – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon or March by Geraldine Brooks

2007 – The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

2008 –  How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Review – Mimi’s Cafe

DD and I were out shopping one evening and we were both trying to skip dinner, but as both of our stomachs were growling, we simply had to stop for some food.  I saw a cute little place by the side of the road that I wanted to try but DD was pretty skeptical.  She is like her dad and really only likes to eat at 1 or 2 places and is certainly not very adventerous when it comes to food.  I did finally talk her into stopping, and yes, perhaps I did mention is was Mimi’s Cafe or nothing, but that is hardly the point.

We were quickly glad we had stopped.  Not only did the place smell amazing, but we could tell by a quick look around that people were quickly being served and were very happy with their food choices.  You know what I mean, how many times have you gone into one of THOSE franchises only to see many other customers fuming or barely enjoying their food?  Mimi’s was not like that.

DD was hooked the moment we were seated and given a basket of assorted breads, rolls and muffins.  Among them was a low-fat blueberry muffin that tasted like cake, which we split and ate as slowly as we could manage.  DD then ordered a beef sandwich that she swears is the best she has ever tasted while I enjoyed a cup of corn chowder and a fried chicken salad.  The food was just great, and the atmosphere was charming as well.  If they have a Mimi’s by you, try it.  If they don’t have a Mimi’s by you, I am so sorry, perhaps you could open one?

Music Monday – Over the Rhine

A couple of years ago some college friends of mine recommended I listen to an album by a group called Over the Rhine.  The album was titled Ohio, and I was immediately captivated by the title song.  It is haunting in a way that somehow transported me back to my childhoood and long autumn days that went on forever.

Shortly after that I purchased another OTR album, Drunkard’s Prayer which never grew on me in quite the same way, but was still a great album to read or work by and has a few haunts of its own.

If you enjoy soulful piano ballads, give this group a try.  There newest album seems a bit more up tempo and jazzy, which is fine, but I LOVE the older stuff.

Netflix Feature to Check Out

The forcasters predicted a snowy, chilly weekend, and Chicago did not disappoint.  With the weather outside so unfriendly, we needed some ideas to keep us occupied inside so of course we looked to the internet for a solution.

I had heard about the new instant movie viewer from Netflix a few months ago, but hadn’t had a chance to try it out.  We tried it over the weekend and were quite pleased with  it.  Not only is it easy to setup and use, the quality is great, and with most Netflix subsciptions it is free.  You can’t beat that.

We were able to watch both The First Howie Mandel Special and The Italian Job.  My kids didn’t even know that Howie Mandel got his start as a standup comic and sadly, they had never seen Bobby’s World either.  I was able to enlighten them and provide hours of laughter as well.

If you haven’t seen The Italian Job, I highly recommend it.  There is only a bit of violence, no gratuitous sex, and just a few “bad” words sprinkled in.  If you are a fan of the “Ocean’s” films, you will like this one as well.  I have been a Mark Wahlberg fan since his Calvin Klein ads in the 80’s . . . what, I’m human.

Don’t you just miss the 80’s?!

5 Board Games Everyone Will Enjoy

eatit_.jpgI don’t want to do it, I don’t want to add another gift list, but I have to for two reasons. First, I want to record all my good ideas for myself, and second, everyone I talk to these days is looking for gift ideas. Let’s face it, it is the most important thing on all our minds right now. So, on to the board games.

My husband hates board games, but the kids and I love them. We also find that especially in the winter months, lots of couples like to come over for game night. . .and the food and fun is magical.

So, for those “gamers” on your holiday gift list, here are a few board games that I will be picking up for my friends this year (just so I can use them when I invite them over).

1. Eat It! Snacks & Sweets Trivia Game was feature in the December issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. Not only does it get great reviews, and include questions about my favorite food group, chocolate, it comes with coupons also. Who wouldn’t enjoy this gift?! ($28)

2. I need to add the Jumbo Sequence game to a list for my family, as we play this all the time with friends. It is a team game, and so the competitiveness in us all comes out, but it usually provides hours of entertainment for anyone who likes card games. ($33)

3. We LOVE Cranium. This is the board game that we go back to time after time, and now there is a new version out. I may even put Cranium Wow on my own Christmas list this year. ($30)

4. Another food related game for the magazine above is one called Celebrity Chef the Game. I’ll admit it, there is nothing I like to do better on a Saturday morning than make a cup of coffee, have some eggs, and sit down to an hour or two of the Food Network. This game will at least validate some of my time spent! ($30)

5. And finally, another game we play over and over again at our get togethers is Scene It. If the person you are buying for has an XBox 360, another GREAT game that I can’t wait to try is the XBox 360 verion of Scene It. ($60)