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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

American Idol - Top 13 Guys

In the past I have put up huge posts about all of the contestants.  I think this time I am gonna keep it simple and only write about a few of the contestants.

I absolutely love Reed Grimm.  I loved his jazzy rendition of Moves Like Jagger.

Colton Dixon did a Paramore song.  I normally love him but I was unimpressed.

I didn't even really remember Aaron Marcellus from auditions but I loved his Jackson 5 song, even though I had never heard it before.

Phillip Phillips sang In The Air Tonight.  He is another one of my favorites.

Eben Franckewitz did an okay job of an Adele song - but who can deny how adorable he is?

Heejun Han sang Angels.  He is my Asian brother or something...but his performance was only so so.

Jermaine Jones sang Dance with my Father as the 13th guy in the top 12.  It was alright.

Overall, I was underwhelmed.  The judges seemed to love the guys but I just didn't.  We'll see what Thursday night results bring.

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop


I am participating in another book-themed giveaway hop - yay!

This giveaway hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jinky is Reading.  There are currently over 200 blogs participating!!!  The giveaway hop goes through March 5th so you have almost a week to enter.

I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.  After you enter my giveaway, be sure to check out the linky below and enter all of the other giveaways!

Please please please only enter using Rafflecopter.  Blog comments will not count.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


I am sponsoring my own prize.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


                                                     


I am all about the trilogies lately.  Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

After finishing The Hunger Games, I visited used bookstores to find Catching Fire.  I just hate paying full price for books!  I found it at this great little bookstore on the Santa Barbara Mesa called Mesa Bookstore.  The nice man had it behind the counter and sold it to me at a great price in almost new condition!

Spoiler alert to anyone who hasn't read book 1.  Catching Fire follow Katniss and Peeta after they have both managed to win The Hunger Games.  The Capitol is livid with them for making fools out of them.  Katniss is thinking of just running away from it all.  I couldn't put this down and had to force myself to read it over two nights instead of staying up all night reading it!  My friends were unfortunately right about one thing though, the second book is somehow more violent and disturbing than the first!

What an amazing trilogy.  Where did Suzanne Collins think of this stuff???

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 14/50
100+ Books In a Year - 17/100

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Over the Mountain and Down by the River by Robyn Carr


                                                       


Just Over the Mountain and Down by the River are books #2 and #3 in the Grace Valley Trilogy by Robyn Carr.  This series revolves around Dr. June Hudson, a local who moved back to town a few years back to become the town doctor.  Grace Valley is a town where everyone knows everyone...you know how that goes!

After finishing the first book, I immediately went to the thrift store to looks for books 2 and 3 and found them on the first try at Paperback Alley in Downtown Goleta.  What a great store!

These books were as fantastic as the first one.  I read each one within about a 24-hour period.  They really just expand on book one, so I can't say much more about the plot.  Book 2 does bring back to Grace Valley a newly single ex-boyfriend of June's, which stirs up some drama since her secret man is MIA.

You absolutely have to check out this little trilogy, it's awesome!

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 14/50
100+ Books In a Year - 15 and 16/100

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winners: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You


Congratulations to the winners of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Brittney - BBrittBrat1398@xxx.com

LaTanya - dlatany@xxx.com

Jen - freebiel0ve@xxx.com

Winners have been emailed and have 72 hours to get back to me with their shipping info and phone #

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yoshi Items on Etsy

There are some things in life that I love!  Since the day I discovered Etsy, that has become one of them!  I also love video game characters and cartoon characters.  I could search Etsy for hours for cute items to buy.  So today, I share some cute Yoshi (Mario Brothers character) items with you all.

Yoshi Amigurumi Plushie Doll - Nintendo Crochet Collectible - Green Dinosaur - CUSTOMIZE YOUR OWNCute Yoshi Plush from Jmcallydesigns

3 Magnet Set Yoshi SpriteYoshi, baby Yoshi, and Yoshi egg magnets from Delightful Epiphany

Yoshi EarringsAdorable Yoshi earrings from The Clay Collection

Do you etsy???  Do you have a favorite video game and/or cartoon character?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cornbread

My grandpa really likes cornbread and rarely gets it - so I made him some!  He finally tried it tonight and liked it...yay!  It wasn't quite sweet enough for my taste, so while the below recipe (from a package of Walmart corn meal) is good, I might look around for a sweeter one :)

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flower
4 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then add the wet ingredients.




3. Mix until the batter is mostly smooth, a little less than a minute did it for me.

4. Bake in a greased square pan for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Enjoy!

I learned while talking to some facebook friends that cornbread is only an American food.  None of the Europeans or Australians had ever tried it.  Who knew???

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr





Deep in the Valley is book #1 in the Grace Valley Trilogy by Robyn Carr.  This series revolves around Dr. June Hudson, a local who moved back to town a few years back to become the town doctor.  Grace Valley is a town where everyone knows everyone...you know how that goes!

In the first book, tons of characters are introduced, including a mysterious DEA agent.  We also meet June's aunt and father, some people who live in the hills outside of town and more.

This book was fantastic.  I could hardly put it down!  I am going to comb the thrift stores in the next few days to see if I can find the other two books in the trilogy before I pay full price for them online!  A+!

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 14/50
100+ Books In a Year - 14/100

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Taking a Day Off

I have been really good.  I wanted to blog every day and I have been since Dec. 29.  But...I just want a day off. Today I went to work, checked out a new possible gym, tutored, and went to class.  It's enough for one day!  Look for something fun/exciting/who knows tomorrow LOL

My little Hunter loves cuddling with his toys.  He basically only gets plastic chew toys now because he destroys everything else!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Voice vs. American Idol

                       vs                         

I read an interesting article in Entertainment Weekly about The Voice vs. American Idol.  It compared them, and it definitely picked a winner!  Below are my thoughts:

American Idol has been around for more than 10 seasons.  The concept is old.  But...the concept works.  Some huge stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have won American Idol.  The judges are almost all new which does make it a little bit new.

The Voice is only on its second season.  It only starts with good singers, no duds.  Singers are chosen based purely on their voices and are not even seen until they are selected by a judge.

After reading the article, I am starting to think maybe The Voice is the future.  American Idol says they have some surprises/changes coming up this season, so we will have to see about that.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I recently made chocolate chip muffins for my grandparents.  I used the recipe at Cupcake Rehab located here.  Her tops came out crumbly looking and mine came out smooth so they are a bit different - but I tried my best to follow her recipe exactly.  They tasted good and that's all that really matters to me in the end!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
½ cup butter — melted and cooled
2 eggs – beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces mini chocolate chips (I used regular because I couldn't find minis)

1) Preheat oven to 400 F. and grease up twelve muffin cups or put liners in them.  I did liners.


2) In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.


3) In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended.


4) Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine.


5) Stir in chocolate chips.


6) Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them as much as possible; bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.


7) Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling.

Enjoy!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Dominoes League



When I am not blogging and/or contesting, you can often find me running my dominoes yahoo league at eliters.com.  I have been a member there for almost 8 years and I have been hosting tournaments there for about a month less than I have been a member.

Eliters is a fantastic site that is free to join!  We offer tourneys on three different game sites with about 20 leagues total.  If you ever have some free time and want me to show you the ropes, I'd love to welcome you over there ;)

Have any of you ever been part of an online tournament league like this?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You Giveaway


No one likes to diet, but the personal stories in this book will encourage and inspire readers with its positive, practical, and purposeful tales of dieting and fitness. Readers will find hope, help, and hints on getting fit and staying healthy in these 101 stories from those who have been there, done that, and maintained it. Stories about wake-up calls and realizations, moving more and eating better, self-esteem and support, and lifestyle changes, big and small, will motivate any reader looking to start fresh or needing a boost. This is a great book for anyone embarking on a healthier lifestyle.

The book is divided into 10 sections, including Exercising Can Be Fun, Having a Partner, Off the Beaten Path, and more.  Commitment is a great story about one person's dedication to staying fit and healthy.  Photographic Evidence is a touching story about the power of a positive photo.  Dairy-Free Queen caught my eye because while for different reasons than the author, I have also cut a ton of dairy out of my diet

I am pleased to offer a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You - 101 Encouraging Stories about Dieting and Fitness... and Finding What Works for You to 3 winners.


To enter Rafflecopter giveaways, read the directions for each task, do each task and click "I did this" after completing each one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Woman in Black


I love going to the movies!  I decided to see The Woman in Black last night.  And...it was okay.  Daniel Radcliffe stars as a lawyer from London.  He travels to a small village to clear up a woman's estate, and discovers a very mean ghost!

The Woman in Black Stills

I was definitely scared at times, but I have been more scared by other movies.  The plot was pretty unique, so I definitely give them credit for that!  Daniel Radcliffe is a good actor and he did a good job.  I think I am pretty neutral about this movie, so I don't highly recommend but I also don't have anything to say against it.  I would love to know if anyone else has seen it and what they thought.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Hunger Games


I bought The Hunger Games last year from The Book Depository and just never got around to reading it.  But with the movie coming out next month and my blog reading challenges, I knew it was time to read the book!  And...I read the whole thing in a 24-hour time period!

I'm sure I am the last person on earth to read this book, but I will still do my usual plot summary anyway.  North America as we know it is gone, replaced by Panem.  Panem consists of 12 districts and the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12, the slum of all the districts.  The Capitol of Panem hosts The Hunger Games each year, a fight to the death between a boy and a girl from each of the 12 districts.  The fighters are called tributes, and are drawn at random.  When Katniss' sister Prim's name is drawn, Katniss volunteers to go in her place.  The rest of the book is the training for and then fighting of The Hunger Games.  If you haven't read it, you'll have to read it to see who wins!

This book raised many questions for me about the YA genre.  What makes a book classified as YA?  This book about fighting to the death doesn't seem so appropriate for young readers.  I know I always read books above my age level, and don't think this book would have been appropriate when I was 9 or 10.  So, what do all of you think about that???

Progress toward:

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 13/50
100+ Books In a Year - 13/100

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kellogg's Krave Cereal

I love trying new things!  I have been seeing TV commercials for Kellogg's Krave cereal lately so when I was at the store a few days ago, I had to buy it!  I went with the double chocolate flavor because I love chocolate!


I have to say...it's alright.  The chocolate-y flavor is good.  The individual pieces are very small.  They feel a little funny.  These are good, I will eat them, but I don't think I will be buying them again :/

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Magnificent Folly by Iris Johansen


I am pretty sure I bought Magnificent Folly at Borders when they were closing, and I'm also pretty sure that I failed to read that it has a touch of the paranormal.

The story kind of starts off with the main character, Lily Deslin and her daughter, Cassie on the beach.  They are being watched by a mysterious man up overlooking the beach.  Lily notices the man for days, and finally gets worried enough that she decides to go see him the next day.  He isn't there the next day though...because he sensed that she was going to come up so he came down.  Lily finds herself falling for this stranger named Andrew, who seems to know a lot about her and her daughter.  Who is Andrew, and how does he know so much about Lily and Cassie?  Why is Andrew so secretive about what he does for a living?  Will their relationship go anywhere?  And where does the book become paranormal?  Read it to find out!

Do any of you like paranormal books?  I generally don't but this one had minimal paranormal discussion in it so I did okay. :)

Progress toward:

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 12/50
100+ Books In a Year - 12/100

Monday, February 13, 2012

Via Maestra 42 part 2

Haha so I forgot my mom took pictures on her phone since I had left my phone at home.  See our yummy dishes below:

My mom's veggie lasagna

My spinach ravioli in lemon sauce

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Via Maestra 42

I made a huge blogging mistake today....I went to a new restaurant and forgot my camera!  Everyone I know in Santa Barbara highly recommends Via Maestra, so my mom and I decided to try it out today!  They are located next to the San Roque post office.

Our food today was absolutely delicious.  My mom ordered vegetable lasagna.  She loved that the veggies were broccoli, artichoke and spinach.  She also loved that the cheese was melted as opposed to when she makes it and you can see the chunks of ricotta.  I ordered spinach ravioli in a lemon cream sauce.  It was amazing.  The lemon taste was strong but not overly so.  It was loaded with spinach.  I loved it!

They carry tons of flavors of gelato, which I will have to try next time.  I can't wait to go back and try another entree as well! :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark


"While My Pretty One Sleeps" looks like a garage sale buy....yay for cheap books from garage sales!  This book was awesome!

Neeve Kearny owns a high-end boutique in New York called Neeve's Place.  She becomes concerned when one of her regular customers, author Ethel Lambston, doesn't come to pick up an order one Friday.  But Neeve is the only one concerned, because Ethel can be a bit much to handle.  As people begin to realize that Ethel might actually be missing, suddenly everyone seems like a suspect.  And somewhere along the way, Neeve herself begins to feel like she might be in danger.  Who killed Ethel?  Is Neeve really in danger?  Read the book to find out!

I always forget I love Mary Higgins Clark, but I do.  I should really hunt for more of her books at used book stores, garage sales, etc :)  Do you have a favorite author?


Progress toward:

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 11/50
100+ Books In a Year - 11/100

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chronicle - The Movie


I pretty much love all movies.  If someone invites to a movie, I almost always go.  So when I said yes to Chronicle, I didn't think anything of it.  But when we got to the movie theater, I noticed the poster outside of the theater was crooked (see above).  It made me nervous as certain things make me motion sick.....I was right to be nervous!

Chronicle is about a high school boy named Andrew.  His dad is an abusive alcoholic and his mom is dying.  Everyone at school is awful to him and his only "ally" seems to be his cousin, Matt.  Matt brings Andrew to a party, where Matt and another boy, Steve (played by Michael B. Jordan from Parenthood!!), discover a large hole in the ground that emits a weird noise.  The boys all jump down the hole, eventually finding a huge, glowing crystal.  After seeing the crystal, the boys suddenly develop telekinesis.  The movie progresses from there.  The plot is amazing and I really enjoyed that part of the movie.

But, because the movie is presented as something that was recorded by Andrew, it is shaky.  And because the boys have powers, things fly around, the camera goes in circles, etc.  So, as I am writing this, I am still motion sick from it.

In the end, I would suggest seeing this movie if you can stomach the motions...as most people can.  The plot is great and the special effects are fun.

One of my favorite scenes.  You'll have to watch the movie to know why!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Year's Resolution - Going Strong

As we all know, New Year's Resolutions are normally broken by February.  I am so happy to say that I have kept to mine.  Since December 26, I have managed to lose 7.5 pounds.  That is just about right on track for my 1 pound per week goal.

The last time I lost weight I lost more like 2 pounds per week, but I also basically ate fish or chicken every night, with a veggie and plain pasta or potatoes.  I was pretty miserable food wise.  I also wasn't exercising.

This time, I have manged to still eat yummy foods that I love, and I am walking almost every day, sometimes twice a day.  It is so nice that my clothes aren't tight anymore and I do notice things like my knee socks getting looser LOL

Now I want to do 2 things to step up my game....I want to introduce something new into my workout routine like Wii Fit or jump roping.  I also want to cut out carbs one or two days a week.  So, who can help motivate me to do some new exercises?  Who has an idea for some "carb free" meals?  I love bread, pasta, potatoes, etc so this is a big challenge!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Premier Easy Walk Harness

While I love my dog, he is a puller on walks.  When we got Hunter a little over a year ago, it was awful.  My mom did a fantastic job leash training him and he got way better.  Recently though, he has gone back to his old ways.  We got fed up and finally bought him a Premier Easy Walk Harness the other day.  It is amazing!!!!!

While the packaging says that it only helps with pulling, I say it has stopped it completely.  Walking him is a whole new experience.  The leash always has slack and we are both happier for it.

Yes, we leave his collar on when we harness him LOL

I wasn't given this product for review or anything, I just went to the pet store, asked for their help, and this is what they recommended.  If you have a dog that pulls, you have to try this harness.  It is the one of the best investments you will ever make!

Hunter was pretty uncooperative about posing for a picture.  But you can see the leash clips on in the front chest area instead of on the back of his neck.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rogue by Danielle Steel


Danielle Steel is one of many authors whose books I buy the second they come out in paperback.  I love her writing style - I am always so invested in her characters and I care so much about what happens to them.  I have laughed, cried, and gotten angry - all while reading her books.

Rogue is centered around Dr. Maxine Williams.  She is very serious, down-to-earth, career-driven, etc.  Her ex-husband Blake, an early dot.com gajillionaire, is care-free, wild, and everything else Maxine isn't.  Despite it all, they stay friends after their divorce.  Neither of them have seriously dated anyone since their divorce about 5 years ago.  Suddenly, Blake meets Arabella and Maxine meets Charles.  Their kids are extremely unhappy, but they are both smitten with their new love interests.  You can see where this is going.  Will Blake stay with Arabella?  Will Maxine marry Charles?  Or will Blake and Maxine get back together, which various people think will happen throughout the book.  You'll just have to read the book to find out!

I seem to have missed many of Danielle Steel's books since this one.  Hopefully I will find some of them as I continue to make my way through my TBR pile!  Have you ever read a book by Danielle Steel?  If so, did you like it?

Progress toward:

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 10/50
100+ Books In a Year - 10/100

Monday, February 6, 2012

In Time


Ever since I saw the preview for In Time starring Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake, I knew I had to see it.  When many bloggers recently blogged about it, it finally pushed me to rent it!

In Time takes place in the future, where everyone stops aging at 25.  But...they also receive one year to live from the time they turn 25.  All currency has been replaced with time, and a scanner in your arm lets you pay with time or receive more time.  On your other arm is a clock that tells how much time you have left.  Will Salas (Timberlake) is from the ghetto, where people live day to day.  After a tragic event, he travels to New Greenwich, where all the rich people are from.  There, he meets Sylvia Weis, daughter of a rich time-loaning businessman.


I don't want to say anything else about the plot for fear of giving away too much.  I will say, it really makes you think about how if currency was changed to time, what would be worth buying to you?  I think it would really change many peoples' priorities.

This is a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it :) 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard



I think America cheered when Jaycee Dugard was found.  I was too young when she was taken to remember it, but I definitely remember her rescue!  When she wrote a book, I wanted to read it just to better understand what would make someone stay with their captor for 18 whole years!

A Stolen Life really makes you understand why Jaycee stayed with her captors for 18 long years!  Not only did she write down her memories in the memoir, but she also included journal entries and pictures.  Can you imagine being 11 years old and being mind controlled by such an awful man????  If you've ever had any questions about Jaycee Dugard's story, you should read this mind-blowing book.  Parts of it were definitely tough to read, but I feel like I really understand her unfortunate situation now.

Progress toward:

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge - 9/50
100+ Books In a Year - 9/100

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ReUsable Trash Cans for the Car

My mom and I recently got new cars.  We didn't want them to ever have visible trash around so I bought us really cute bags off of Etsy from My Beautiful Girl's shop.  She is currently on vacation until Feb. 19 but her stuff is super cute so you should check it out when she returns!

Tossed Monkies ReUsable Trashcan, Eco Friendly, Hand Made
The super cute bag for my car!

Pink Sparrows ReUsable trash can, eco-friendly, hand made
The equally cute bag that my mom has.

What do you use to hold trash in your car?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Invisalign - Checking In

It has been forever since I have updated about my Invisalign.  I can finally see the progress being made and I am so happy!  You can almost see all of my bottom front teeth now :)

These are my teeth now!!!!

These were my teeth back in July.  *(My mom thought my aligners were spit...I assure you, I don't have that much spit lol)

I am now on aligner 15/28.  I just started it Weds night and I have to say it hurts.  While my front teeth are looking good, my molars still have a way to go!

So I have to ask...is the difference as noticeable to all of you as it is to me??

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mighty Fine - Have You Heard of This Movie?


I feel so lucky!  My mom was really lucky to get 2 4-punch pass cards to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  This is a huge 2-week movie festival that goes on every year in Santa Barbara and brings in tons of celebs!  We chose to attend "Mighty Fine", not even realizing it was the world premiere!  And...they did a Q&A after the movie with most of the main characters, the director and the producer!

"Mighty Fine" is about Joe Fine (Chazz Palminteri) - an ex-soldier who moves his family from Brooklyn to New Orleans to be closer to his factory.  He introduces them to the good life down there - a four story house, VIP tickets to see Elvis, a brand new car for his daughter's birthday and more!  But underneath the perfection, his business is about to collapse and he has a terrible anger problem!

This movie was excellent!  During the Q&A, we learned that Chazz took his "family" out to dinner the first night to help them all bond!  It also helped that Andie MacDowell really is the mom of one of her kids in the film (Rainey Qualley).  And I have to say that Jodelle Ferland played her role excellently!  She really did seem like a sweet young girl caught up in all of the family drama.

 I hope they bring it to theaters soon and I hope it does really well!

Have you ever been to a movie at a film festival before?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January, 2012 Books Read

I did it!  I hit my goal of reading 8 books this month!  I wasn't sure if I could do it because I have never read that many books before, but I actually finished early and took the last few days off.  Below are links to my reviews if you missed them.

1. Toys by James Patterson

2. Worst Case by James Patterson

3. Veil of Night by Linda Howard

4. Protecting Their Baby by Sheri Whitefeather

5. Treachery in Death by JD Robb

6. Born to Die by Lisa Jackson

7. 1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

8. Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

If I had to pick favorites, I would probably pick Veil of Night, Treachery in Death and Private.  But all of the books I read were great.  I can't wait to see what great books February brings!

Did you read any books in January?  If so, which one was your favorite?
 
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