Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review

I think it is time to catch up on a few of the books that have crossed my path and have been read.
I will start with the two bookgroup books....
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  This woman is better know in the world as HeLa.  A woman who grew up on a tobacco plantation in the south.  She lived a hard life but seemed to be happy.  She came down with cancer - and eventually died from it.  What the story picks up is how a sample of her cells were taken and became one of the most important tools in medicine.  Her cells were the ones that helped create a polio vaccine, as well as helped uncovered viruses, helped with cancer research, and many other amazing scientific advances.  It also addresses how her family found out about it 20 year after the fact.  The family had a hard time dealing with it - based on their beleifs and were very private about themselves and media and scientists continued to bugh them.  I really enjoyed the story - got sucked in right away.  I enjoyed the read and learning about a science that was new to me.  Definitely not a book I would have chosen to read on my own volition, but one I would recommend

The next book was Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
This book is about a boy coming of age in a not so easy time.   He has passion for sea life and marine biology.  He spends a good part of his summer searching the beaches for what ever the sea happens to give up to the beaches.  He also spends his summer worrying about whether his parents will split up, or if his geriatric neighbor is truly a psychic, or if his feelings for his former babysitter, or hanging out with his friend who is only interested in girls and music.  The question posed that I found interesting was how it dealt with mysticism vs truth.  I read this book from a "summer read" perspective instead of digging in and finding the symbols and hidden meanings behind the writing.  Not my first pick - but interesting. 

The next book was my choice.  Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman.  I don't remember how I heard about this one or why I chose it, but I really enjoyed it - A young girl raised by a mother who has severe bi-polar disorder and a father who left on business a lot to avoid dealing with the issues at home.  It isn't until her mother dies and she is taken by her great aunts to be raised that life starts to turn around and she has to face and deal with her past.  Despite the hard things at the beginning of the book - I loved the direction the story took and the characters in it were funny and enjoyable.

The next one to review is The Scent of Rain and Lightning -Nancy Pickard.  I was looking for a good mystery and this was a well reviewed book so I gave it a try.  Definitely kept me guessing until the end.  This novel starts with a 26 year old woman in a small Kansas farm town learning that the man who was convicted of murdering her father(the same night that her mother went missing, presumably also dead) was being released from prison, largely about concerns about the fairness of the original trial. The book then flashes back to 23 years earlier and details the events and the people involved in the death and disappearance.  It isn't until the very end and some major plot twists that you find out who done it.  I loved it.

The last book to review is The Blue Sword - Robin Mckinley
The story is about a young girl who doesn't really fit in finds her strength after being kidnapped by a mysterious, magical Hill-King.  She learns about her heritage as well as an ancient power that she holds.   Full of insecurities she perseveres and does what she needs to do to fulfill her destiny. It is a lot like another book I have read which happens to be one of my favorites called Crown Duel - by Sherwood Smith.  The book was complete escapism and an enjoyable read.

Happy reading to all

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Look what I have been doing

Happy Sunday Everyone!!!

Horrible picture - I know!  I just had to show you that I actually had it out and was using it.  No - I am not playing for anyone, just personal enjoyment and listening to Ralph play the piano.  What I really need to do is get my flute playing friend to come over tomorrow night and play a few duets with me.  Are ya game???

The work Christmas party went great - I think everyone went home full and satisfied.  Ralph was the hero in all of this.  I had no energy and was blowin boogers so he stepped in and saved the day.  I sure love that guy!!!!!Smiley from millan.net

We have family coming over to help us eat leftovers and I have a baptism to attend this evening.  Another full day of activities.  I love a full calendar and keeping busy...but there are times when I need some Cheryl time - maybe next week??

Ta Ta for now

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do you Believe

As I sit home on a rainy day eatting my canned chicken gumbo soup, trying to get some rest and deal with a nasty head cold (stress and no sleep do it to me every time) - I learned that today is National Believe Day - tied in with Macy's and Make a wish foundation.  Macy's is collecting letters to Santa and for every letter they are donating a $1 to the Make a Wish Foundation.  I love the concept of Believeing in Christmas and all that is involved with the holiday.  Whether it is a letter to Santa, or the conservative gift buying, the music, the decorations, the gathering of friends and family, the compelling need to reach out and help those that have less.  The darkest time of the year when we put up all the lights and celebrate the very Being who brings His light to us.

Here is a card we made in my stamping group last month. I got the idea from a fellow stamper who was making these cards for her local Ronald McDonald House.  Isn't he cute.  We had a lot of fun with this one.

We did this one - which was my favorite of the three that we did.  Once again - not my original idea, but really easy and this is what it looks like when you open it.  You could adapt this to any holiday or celebration theme.  You could attach a picture or a gift card or a little note.  In fact my BFF took this concept and made her Christmas card that she is sending out to 80 plus people. 
Last, but not least here is a picture of the Turkey bags we had as favors on the table.  I filled them with a mixture of corn nuts, pretzels, chocolate dried fruits etc.  I think they were well received. 
Ralph has started working on my work dinner project and has instructed me to take it easy today and he will take care some of the prep today.  He is so good to me and so patient and willing to help me out when I pile on the projects.  We will be doing empanadas, tamales, enchiladas, and fixings for tacos/tostadas.  Hopefully my fellow workers will feel like it was worth their money.  I am going to try and make the favors today for the dinner as well as get the paper cut for my Christmas cards that should have already been sent out.  Well...we do what we can. 

Ta Ta for now

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Buzz

Have you caught it yet?  Smiley from millan.net
I HAVE!  As long as I stay away from the stores and the commercial hub bub I will be fine.

As Ralph and I talked through some of our plans for the holiday season I started to get a little excited.  We have decided to stay in town for Christmas.  Which means we will put a tree up this year.  I especially got excited when I found out the GRP Christmas album II that I couldn't find is now available as an MP3 download.  I think it is my most favorite of the three.

I volunteered Ralph and I to cater my work party event next Saturday.  It drives him crazy when I do that, but I think he enjoys the cooking and prep as much as I do.  He should thank me as this way it enables him to be in the kitchen and not have to socialize with my fellow employees.  We have planned a mexican buffet.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I love doing these kinds of things.  I have often thought about changing careers to a catering style job, but then I don't think it would be fun for me.  I will stick with the for "personal enjoyment" thing and my regular day job.
The activities for the weekend will keep us busy.  I have a baptism to attend in the morning, help Ralph's Mom put up her Christmas decorations, the land lord and an electrician coming to our house to "ground" the electrical outlets, our house to clean and prepare for Christmas.  Sunday - I hope to get some VT done.  Somewhere in that time frame I plan on posting pictures of some of the projects I have been working on and starting a couple of new ones, including our Christmas cards.

We have our family and neighbor gifts planned.  I really think that planning is half the battle.  We have really tried to simplify things but still make them meaningful.  Kind of hard for me as I like to go BIG.  But I think I will be satisfied with what we have planned this year.

I will end with a recipe that I found on Megans cooking Blog it is easy, yummy, and festively colored.

BLT Pasta
6 strips of thick sliced bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
1 C cherry/grape tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 lb thin spaghetti
4oz butter
1 C heavy cream
1/2 C parmesan - plus additional for garnish
2 C spinach leaves (makes it a healthy dish)

  • Cook pasta
  • meanwhile saute bacon until crisp - drain and save 1 T of the drippings - crumble bacon
  • Add tomatoes and sugar carmelize until tomatoes begin to brown (about 5 minutes)
  • Turn heat to low and stir in cream, butter, and cheese.
  • Drain spaghetti and set aside
  • Stir in bacon, and spinach - then add spaghetti. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with cheese and enjoy.
You could add chicken to this.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We need a little Christmas

Right this very minute!  Smiley from millan.net

So...to help the process of getting into the Christmas spirit I thought I would start listening to some of my favorite Christmas music.  Still not really in the mood for it but I am going to share some of my favorites.

Favorite Albums to sit in the ambience of the tree lights (no other lights on)  John Schmidt Chrismas and James Galway Christmas Carol.  (I couldn't go to sleep last night - listened to the John Schmidt album 4 times before I just gave up)

Pop Albums/Sing Along - David Archuletta, Amy Grant, Celine Dion, Linda Eder, Voice Male

Classical - The Messiah, and anything Rutter/Cambridge Choir

Tab Choir - Spirit of the Season album is my favorite.  I got to go to the concert and Sissel was just amazing. 

Jazz/Chillin - GRP Christmas - we have two of the albums and can't seem to get a hold of the third - anywhere for a descent price.

Christmas song I want but don't have a recording yet..."Mary Did You Know" There are lots of recordings out there - haven't picked my favorite - but do like Clay Aiken, Kathy Mattea, and Donny Osmond versions.

Please share some of your very favorites.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And We Now Resume our Regularly Scheduled Program...

A few days off of work, a lot of cooking, some company, and a good time was had by all.  And now we resume our regular programming. . . .

Okay, there was a lot more to it than that!  It just seems like so much has happened in the last week. . .where do I begin????

My mother, sister in law and I attended Deseret Book's Time Out For Women.  It was so fun to be with my favorite ladies and be rejuvenated and filled with the many great messages that were shared over the conference.  Lunch on Saturday was at Olive Garden.  My sweet friend took us out - I keep reminding myself just how lucky I am to have such great friends.  The conference ended so quickly.  I have reserved a copy of the DVD just so that I can review the many great things that were spoken of. 

We spent a day in Huntington with my family.  Although it was a short visit - we got to see all the family and renew our friendships.  We got to have dinner with the Mayor and her family (my aunt)  She spoiled us rotton.  She always does.  The drive back was in the snow and we ran out of washer fluid for the windshield.  Made for a fun drive - NOT!  We got home safe and sound thanks to Ralph's superb snow driving skills.  We also picked up a pointsettia from the greenhouses run by my cousin.  She does such a great job with  them and they are so pretty.

My two brothers arrived on Monday - a day ahead of the icky storm that closed the freeways down.  We took some time to see Harry Potter, get some family pictures taken, eat lots of yummy food, get Christmas cards started, a craft project finished, football games watched, and visit together.  It went so fast and I was so grateful to my family of consenting to spend the holidays at our house.  I had fun hosting and hoped everyone had a good time. 

Speaking of hosting...I love a finely dressed table for special occasions.  I made the cutest table favors.  I had hoped my brother got a closeup shot of them, but this is the best I could find.  The bags were made from a sizzix die.  I used the Thanksgiving wheel for the background.  I created a turkey using the scalloped punch, and other various punches to finish him.  I filled them with yummy goodies to be munched on after the meal as we went about our activities.  As you can see, we were spoiled by all the yummy food. 

I am now hitting the Bah Humbug stage of the holidays.  I haven't been too motivated to pull out the Christmas decorations.  I did get all the Thanksgiving and Fall decorations taken down tonight.  This weekend hopefully some of the Christmas spirit will enter my heart.  I want to be excited, but there are just parts of Christmas that are hard to get excited about without having children/our won family to share it with.