Monday, November 23

clicks of note: dream about the time i had with you...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • How amazing is this cover of The Proclaimers' "500 Miles"? How weird is it that it was featured in a Budweiser commercial? How ready are y'all for Thanksgiving? Discuss.





Sunday, November 22

sunday simplicity: a blessing for wedding

"Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days."

- from "A Blessing for Wedding," Jane Hirshfield

Monday, November 16

clicks of note: you're standing here beside me...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Sam Beam, a.k.a. Iron and Wine, teamed up with Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell, and the result is absolutely gorgeous. I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Friday, November 13

#5FandomFriday: Favorite Seasonal Foods

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic isn't specifically geeky, but it's a great topic for autumn - favorite seasonal foods. You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

  • Butternut squash ravioli - Panera's version of this dish is so good that I'm determined to make my own. I love that this Williams-Sonoma recipe uses wanton wrappers instead of homemade pasta!
  • Apple rosemary pork loin - Breeze made some crock pot pork loin with apples and onions last year for Pumpkinfest and I have been dreaming of that dinner ever since. 
  • Pumpkin pie oatmeal - I posted my recipe for a healthy fall breakfast back in 2012 and it's still my favorite. On days when I don't wake up early enough to cook, I stir a spoonful of canned pumpkin into instant oatmeal and add pecans and Craisins. Fall in a bowl!
  • Apple cider doughnuts - In college, it was a tradition to go apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard, which is famous for their apple cider doughnuts. My friend Debbie served them at her wedding!
  • Pumpkin streussel - I discovered this recipe in college when I needed a dish for a potluck harvest dinner, and it has become a favorite at my family's Thanksgiving celebrations. SO good, and it's made from a boxed yellow cake mix!
What are your favorite fall foods?

Thursday, November 12

Book Review: Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

I must admit that what drew me to Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First was the cover art - it's bright and colorful, and incorporates Braille lettering, and I haven't read very many YA books with characters who are blind. The narrator of Lindstrom's novel is Parker Grant, a sixteen-year-old whose world has been turned upside down twice: the first time was the car accident that killed her mother and left Parker blind, and the second was her father's recent death, which may or may not have been an intentional overdose of prescription pills. On top of having to deal with losing her dad and having to adjust to her aunt's family moving into her home, Parker's having to cope with hundreds of new kids at her high school. Two schools have combined, and the new kids don't really know how to deal with Parker - the colorful scarves she wears as blindfolds, the sarcastic-slogan buttons covering her vest, or her blunt way of dealing with people she doesn't know well. It doesn't help that one of those new kids is Scott, the same guy who totally betrayed her trust in middle school by breaking her first rule: never take advantage of her blindness (and rule number infinity is NO second chances). Parker's hobbies are running (secretly), and giving advice in the school courtyard with her best friend Sarah, Lucy-from-Peanuts style. No matter how much Parker keeps running, though, she can't run from the feelings she still has for Scott, or from the grief she hasn't really dealt with yet.

Not If I See You First is Lindstrom's first novel, and it's a great addition to the lineup of contemporary Young Adult literature. It took me a few chapters to realize one thing that makes the book's narration very different from most other YA books: telling her story in the first person, Parker being blind means there is no long description of what any of the characters look like, and that Parker's assessments of the people around her are completely based on their personalities and behavior.  It was refreshing. Parker's voice is very clear - she's a girl who is tough because she has to be, who doesn't take crap because she can't afford to, to the extent that even her friends have forgotten how vulnerable she really is. She's so real that I forgot the author was male until I looked back at the cover. The other characters - from Sarah and Scott to Parker's student aide Molly and bristly cousin Sheila - are all well-developed and multi-dimensional, which isn't always the case in YA. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Eric Lindstrom comes up with next!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an ARC of this book free from the publisher through Netgalley program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, November 11

lately in entertainment.


Miranda Lambert's "Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars" Tour at the Berglund Center - Mr. Q surprised me with tickets to this concert, which featured a lineup of all female country artists including my favorite pink guitar player. Opening acts were Courtney Cole, who reminded me of a country Zooey Deschanel but whose voice I didn't love, and Clare Dunn, who has a powerful Bonnie Raitt style voice and rock sound - she plays a Fender, so I loved her pretty much automatically. The first headliner was Ashley Monroe, who is in the Pistol Annies with Miranda, an amazing songwriter and a great singer in her own right - she has a delicate sound like Emmylou Harris or Allison Krauss. Miranda and Ashley brought out Angaleena Presley for a few Pistol Annies songs, and Miranda's other special guest was Patty Loveless, who was pretty much my country superhero growing up. The concert was about a week after the news about Miranda's divorce from Blake Shelton made headlines, and she did make a few short comments to thank the audience for supporting her, but otherwise she rolled through her set, and I thought her voice sounded fantastic.


Paper Towns by John Green - After reading and enjoying (and by enjoying, I mean weeping over) The Fault in Our Stars and its movie adaptation, I wanted to check out more of John Green's work. Paper Towns has a lovable main character and quirky cast of minor characters all searching for the elusive and exciting Margo Roth Spiegelman, who turns out to be (spoiler alert!) not that great of a person. For me, Paper Towns was just okay - a few great John Green lines surrounded by a lot of pee humor. I might have liked this one more if I'd read it as a high school senior.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - I was really looking forward to Harper Lee's original novel until all of the "Atticus Finch is racist" stuff hit the fan right before its release date. This is another book I might have appreciated much more during another season of my life - particularly my third year of college, when my total daddy's girl self was grappling with the fact that my father's bad habits were literally killing him. To me, Atticus' backwards beliefs about race weren't all that shocking - I've heard many an ostensibly wonderful Southern person spout ignorant trash as they got older. My favorite character in Go Set a Watchman was Uncle Jack, who I didn't remember at all, and who gave Scout the same advice I often need to remind myself about making a life in the South: "the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise."

Warrior, Scoundrel, and Rebel by Zoe Archer - And now for something completely different: I read a review of the Blades of the Rose series on a friend's blog and thought it sounded fun, and then saw that all of the books are free on Kindle Unlimited. These books are like a cross between The Mummy and The Mortal Instruments - The Blades of the Rose is a society of scholars, inventors, and adventurers who travel the world saving precious magical relics called Sources from the Heirs of Albion, who want to use them to make Britain the most powerful empire in the world at the expense of native cultures. Each book in the series focuses on one of the Blades and his or her love interest as they face all sorts of death defying dangers, and there are some very steamy romantic scenes - I thought Outlander made me blush. It's not without its flaws and cliches (I almost gave up on the whole series when the Native American character turned out to be a shapeshifter), but the stories are a nice escape from reality.


Ant-Man - Y'all know by now that new Marvel movies are basically a religious experience in the Quinn household, and since we are trying to save money for a house we're visiting the theater very rarely. Ant-Man was definitely worth the trip - I wasn't sure I could buy Paul Rudd as a superhero, and even though I never forgot it was Paul Rudd onscreen I still kind of fell in love with his character's storyline. I also really loved Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyne, a strong kick-ass scientist businesswoman whose father, it turns out, has a very legitimate reason for not wanting her to become a hero in her own right. The final fight scene was absolutely awesome, there were plenty of Marvel Easter eggs, and Michael Peña's character Luis provided just the right amount of comic relief.

Only Lovers Left Alive - I felt like watching a vampire movie right around Halloween and stumbled across this total gem starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as beautiful creatures of the night who are trying to survive without killing humans. The problem is, pollution and disease have rendered most human blood poisonous to vampires, so they have to be very careful about where they get their "good stuff." It is very much an art-house take on vampires, with lots of scenes that are just weird music playing or Tilda and Tom's characters (Eve and Adam, natch) staring at each other. I was totally okay with that. They're busy being ridiculously good-looking and reminiscing about knowing Byron and Shelley when Eve's train-wreck sister Ava (played by Mia Wasikowska, perfect casting) shows up - ravenous for human blood. Also, Christopher Marlowe is a vampire and he's Eve's BFF, so if you were ever an English major who smoked clove cigarettes this is probably the vampire movie for you.


Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp - How did I miss out on Wet Hot American Summer the first time around? After finally getting on board via Netflix, I knew I wasn't going to miss the series. This movie has everything: bad wigs, Jon Hamm, send-ups of every 80's teen movie, good jokes, puberty, Chris Pine acting out the plot of The Doors, and the talking vegetable can's origin story (RIP, Gene).

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is better than ever right now - Iain De Caestecker could basically play James Bond after his performance in the season premiere, I truly believe that Elizabeth Henstridge should win some sort of Emmy for her portrayal of Agent Jemma Simmons trapped on a hostile planet in "4,722 hours." This show is at it's best when it's totally fun one minute (Agents May and Morse planning an attack in Mandarin) and totally angsty the next (that character the other characters and/or the audience has grown to love and trust? Always going to turn out to be evil).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - If you are not watching this show yet, get on Hulu and catch up RIGHT NOW. The main character, Rebecca, has a (there's really no other way to put this) mental breakdown where she starts taking advice from a butter commercial, quits her Fancy New York Lawyer job, and moves across the country to the California suburbs after running into her summer-camp high school boyfriend Josh Chan. Aside from the fact that she's basically a stalker, Rebecca is making new friends and finding a happier life on the West Coast. Did I mention it's a musical with numbers like "The Sexy Getting Ready Song" and "Settle for Me?" I love shows that don't take themselves seriously at all.