Thursday, January 31, 2013

In need of some inspiration? (scrapbooking inspiration that is.....)

well February seems to be THE month for online crops, blog hops, etc.  here are a few that I know about:

ScrapVillage February 2013 Challenge - a month worth of challenges, posted one day at a time!

Let's Capture the Memories "Gimme All Your Lovin" Crop - February 2nd & 3rd. great for those who won't be spending Sunday cheering for the SAN FRANCISCO FORTY NINERS!!! (you get until February 10th to post....)

My Sketch World Sketch-a-Thon - February 1st - 20th.

Operation Write Home Virtual Card Making Party - February 16th & 17th. (they also have a BlogSkip on February 2nd......)

do you know of any more? otherwise, get out that adhesive and get scrappin! February might be a short month but it looks pretty busy to me!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

STAINED - YA book cover release!

once upon a time I read a wonderful young adult book titled "Hunted" by Cheryl Rainfield. another book in the current dystopian theme embraced by teens but with a well thought out storyline and wonderful characters that appeal to even grown ups. Ryan read it after I did and now harasses the author on Twitter about the pending sequel.......ah, kids these days!

needless to say, I am now a big fan of Ms. Rainfield's writing! she introduced a short story series recently titled Parallel Visions. I was completely dismayed to see that the first story was only 67 pages. I couldn't figure out how she could complete a complex storyline in that amount of time.......but she did! the story of a young girl who during asthma attacks can see visions and how she has to balance out the pros and cons of her unique situation. I can't wait to see what Kate will face in the subsequent stories!

so now to the main point of this post........ 

STAINED will be released November 19, 2013.......and Ms. Rainfield has included me in her cover release! 

I LOVE the tag line! "Sometimes you have to be your own hero" because really.......we all DO need to be our own hero! no one can sit around and wait, like some pathetic fairy tale princess, for her prince charming to ride up on a white steed! seriously!

Book Description:
In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

I like that once again, Ms. Rainfield has found a main character that has to face and overcome things every teen feels like they are facing.

From the author:
Like I did with SCARS and HUNTED, I drew on some of my own experiences of bullying, abuse, and trauma to write STAINED and to give it greater emotional depth. Like Sarah in STAINED, I experienced abduction, imprisonment, periods of forced starvation, mind control, and having my life threatened. And like Sarah, I tried hard to fight against my abuser, keep my own sense of self, and escape. I hope readers will see Sarah's strength and courage, and appreciate her emotional growth as she reclaims herself.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Available For Pre-Order on:
Amazon (hardcover): (well, it says you can get an email when avail)
Amazon (kindle) as you know I have a Nook....thankfully I can read Kindle books on my phone! (hardcover) Ms. Rainfield lives in Canada.....with an adorable little dog named Petal. 

November is a long way off! in the meantime, I highly recommend you check out Hunted and Parallel Visions.......both are books you and your teen/pre-teen can read and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

OWN's You Glow Girl House Party

last Saturday night a fun group of girls got together for our irregular Girl's Night. this one was kinda special thanks to OWN and their skin care products.  the wonderful people at House Party set us up with a bunch of goodie bags.

we received:
OWN Dual Protecting Day Lotion (SPF 30......thankyouverymuch!)
OWN Refining Moisture Night Cream
OWN Day Lip Treatment (SPF 10)
OWN Nighttime Lip Therapy
and coupons for future purchases

the lip therapy products came in ice cream cone looking containers that we all thought were totally cute........and great feeling!

as part of the party, OWN gave me recipes for a "facial bar". I'm not sure if I was supposed to make them ahead of time or just have the ingredients......but I made them before hand so we could spend the evening drinking wine, chatting, and rubbing yummy smelling goo on our faces instead of chopping, blending, and cleaning. after making them, my kitchen smelled SOOO good!!

the other fun activity we had was downloading the My OWN App (in the iPhone app store) to get personalized recommendations. I had tried to practice before the party and the app seemed glitchy. every time I tried to go through the instructions the program would crash. then after taking a photo, the app kept saying it was processing and in the meantime I got an email with my results.....while the program still processed my photo. when I checked in to the app later at the party, it had done an analysis and had suggestions. it worked better for my friend Amy.

so after playing with the app and drinking a glass (or two) of wine, we started checking out the facials. I decided to do a half and half: banana honey on one side and blueberry oatmeal on the other. the two I didn't use were the cucumber and the green tea. no one used the green tea as the recipe didn't work. otherwise, we loved them all as you can tell in this less than stellar photo.

overall we had a great time! Jen and I have full sizes of some of the OWN products so I'll give you an update after I've used them for awhile. btw, you can find your own OWN items locally at Whole Foods.

Disclosure: If you hadn't figured it out from the preceding blog post, OWN gave me the products I passed out at the party and full size ones for my own use.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Soup - my new addiction #DineDowntown

I have never really been a soup fan. sure it is nice on a cold winter's night, but I like to CHEW my food! I'll never be successful on a smoothie diet unless I can have a bowl of popcorn or chips with it to snack on..........and I have yet to fool myself into thinking celery makes a nice crisp snack!

between Dine Downtown and my birthday, I have had 3 wonderful bowls of liquid amazingness in the past week!

first was the lovely Curried Cauliflower-Dungeness Crab Bisque from The Firehouse. as you can see from the photo below, they "plate" it at your seat. succulent crab is bathed in a thick cauliflower veloute (a stock and roux based sauce) that is flavored so well you have to work hard to remember you don't like cauliflower!  (did you know you can get a cup of this lovely soup along with half a sandwich at lunch for $10.95? I didn't......but do now! YUM!)

then there was the snuck-in bonus Dine Downtown dinner at Thir13en. seriously hadn't planned on going but was cruising menus and saw they were offering scallops! not sure why.....but I have been craving scallops for the past week. it seemed kismet and I squeeked in reservations. the scallops were amazing and totally over-satisfied my craving........but again, the soup stole the show! red curry and butternut squash from Feeding Crane Farms with some sage and cumin. so warm and rich! I joked that I was resisting licking the plate. I am not joking that I think I might start bringing a mini spatula with me to make sure I get every drop!

and finally.........The Kitchen! buttered Main lobster with puff pastry, tarragon, celery heart and mascarpone. Randall Selland explained that how they made the soup and how it came out so rich even though they didn't put any cream in it. I'd love to tell you.........but I was in a euphoric state from the flavorfulness of the dish. one of the great things about an evening at The Kitchen is that you can get seconds (or thirds.....etc) of any dish you like! seriously......this is the world's most tasty all you can eat place! with seven "acts" and a sushi intermission, I had been reluctant to even consider asking for seconds of anything.......but both myself and the other lovely birthday lady in my group had requested another bowl before we had even finished the first one! (it was served after the next course.....a nice break so you could enjoy it new all over again!)

maybe it is because this winter has seemed so cold? maybe it is because I have had the opportunity to have soups prepared and some pretty amazing places? whatever it is......I am a soup convert! I might even start making some at home!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

#DineDowtown Fat City......aka: Sacramento's birthday present to the foodie in me!

Most people aren't happy having birthdays in January. I am one of them. No one wants to party and they are all broke. This situation has been resolved with Sacramento's Dine Downtown. Twenty-nine restaurants create full meals for $30/person. They do it as a draw during the slow season. I prefer to think they are helping me celebrate surviving another year on this planet! Either way, choosing the restaurants to visit during the 10 days is the hardest part........... until you get to their menus.

I have a couple reservations set already this year but am hoping to sneak in one or two more places. Last night was Fat City in Old Sacramento. As I discussed back in 2011, I am not a restaurant reviewer, just a person who enjoys food. But here is what I think........

Set in Old Sacramento, Fat City is the most casual and American in the Fat's Family of Restaurants. Most people "know" of Frank Fats on L Street as a dark men's type club where big deals are wheeled. Fat City, in contrast, has a lot of windows and brick creating an open, welcoming environment.

I was a little disappointed that the Dine Downtown menu was not presented with the dinner and drink menus. We had to ask for it. 

My first struggle came with the appetizer. I am not a beet person and while I have survived eating beets this past year it isn't something I ever expect to make a habit of........and with the other options, who really needs to?!?! That left me with 3 amazing options. I struggled, but pulled myself away from the French Onion Soup and ordered the Shrimptini.........because hubby ordered it and I knew I could sneak a taste of his! Our dining companion choose the Tomato Basil Crostini.

The Shrimptini was you see all that shrimp? The dish came with a cocktail sauce that was nice and spicy. The spice was balanced out by the inclusion of smooth avocado. I was very happy with my choice!

I didn't take a photo of Jeff's French Onion Soup but that wasn't because it was lacking anything. I loved that they used a wide, shallow dish so that there was ample real estate for the cheese to be melted on top. I loved the bites I stole so much that I think I might go back and order it for lunch. The onions had a slightly sweet taste to them. Great contrast to the tang of the cheese!

Our friend was sweet and willing to share her Tomato Basil glad we invited her! For me, the fresh mozzarella was the highlight of the dish. I was surprised at how great it taste after seeing it cubed..........guess I expected crumbles. It sounds odd, but there was too much topping on the crostini and it was difficult to eat without losing some of the cheese and tomatoes. Please don't take that as a complaint! I was happy to scoop it up with my fork.

For our main course, our friend and I chose the Stuffed Dover Sole while hubby chose the Osso Bucco. Once again, we were all very happy with our choices.......though I would have been perfectly happy with any of the four options on the menu.

The Dover Sole had been cut thinly............mimicing a crepe.......and then stuffed with more seafood. Oh my it was tasty! Add the sauce and delicate potato gnochhi and you have a decadent entree.  My friend and I both ate our entire entree......I don't even think I offered hubby a taste.........which was fine because THIS is what he was served:

It is easy to say that the Osso Bucco was the dish of the evening. Impressive presentation only eclipsed by the tenderness and flavor of the pork.  The mashed potatoes and carrots served with the meat were good........but you remember the meat! And the serving was large enough that hubby was able to share.....and have enough to enjoy again for lunch today.

I wonder if I should warn you.........we had 6pm reservations and hubby got the 2nd to last order of Osso Bucco. I don't know if this is normal but be prepared!

Yes........our $30 meal included dessert. I wasn't going to pass on the Banana Cream Pie. Hubby managed to steel himself and get the Chocolate Cream Pie. Both were excellent with the puff pastry textured crust being the highlight. I was a little underwhelmed by the bananas. I expected a slightly more ripened banana with a stronger flavor. I had my leftovers today and the bananas had ripened and the pie had that taste I was looking for!
The three of us left the restaurant full and happy after a delicious meal. The atmosphere makes this a great choice for a date, group, or family meal. Whether you have plans to take in the Dine Downtown experience, or are just looking for a nice place for dinner........I can thoroughly recommend Fat City!

And now off to find my next menu to drool over.......

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 - the Year of 24!

I makes no sense.....but really, coming from me does that surprise you? and I wish I could have somehow made it 42........since that is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. but alas..........I'm stuck with 24!

no resolutions this year but a few goals.......or perhaps focusing points.

24 - the number of scrapbook layouts I would like to complete in 2013. that is 2 per month. I should be able to do that in a day, right?
  • I don't know how to quantify it........but I would like to buy fewer scrapbook supplies than I use. like on a 2:4 ratio?!?!? that fits with the whole "24" theme, right?!?!? I can keep track of that on my scrapbook blog. I have done something similar to that in the past and it is SUCH a wake up call to realize how much more I was buying than using!
  • I will qualify this in that adhesive and albums do not count..............I need albums and the world revolves around adhesive. I would include cardstock in this list of exceptions, but seriously.......have you seen how much cardstock I have?!?!
  • part of the "fewer scrapbook supplies" I will not be including items that are given to me. I can't help it if Arlyn finds an awesome stash of "vintage" Scenic Route and graciously bestows it upon me. who am I to decline such a glorious present?!?!? likewise, I will not count as "used" anything I find a loving home for.
24 - the number of cards I would like to make for Operation Write Home........following the guidelines. I have a few cards they aren't getting because they were the wrong size! I totally remembered the "no glitter" but failed on the size thing...... the theory (or previous plan) was that when I completed a layout I would use the scraps to create a card. doing it right then and there! that is still the idea! 
  • perhaps as a subset of this, I would also like to make Truth Cards for the Brave Girl Truth Card Exchange. no number assigned as I don't know how often they will put out calls for cards. I just think this would be an awesomely positive thing to do with my time, energy, and pathetically overly large amount of supplies.
24 - the number of pounds I want to lose in 2013. honestly, as of this morning the number is 26. I'm going to blame it on that "feed a cold" I had for a week where I felt like I was starving the entire time and assume (ha!) that I can drop those 2 fairly quickly............ and this goal is a bit vague in my own mind as I will be fine if I don't lose the 24 pounds if I *look* the way I think I will look at that know, the whole "muscle weighs more than fat" thing. I lost 1 1/2 pants sizes last year and want to do the same thing this year........THAT is the goal and I think it is about 24 pounds worth. got it?!?!?

24 - the number of walks I want to take Dolly on every month. (see how I changed from year to month there?!?!??) really the number should be how many days there are in any given month........but gotta give myself a couple days that it just doesn't happen! 

one more...........

24 - the number of BLOG POSTS I want to write in 2013!!! hey! what a concept! have a blog - POST ON IT!!!! alright.......I know, I know. but really now.....I did 32 in 2012. so I can do 24, right?

then the question of whether to add a reading point here. it would be easy to say "24 - the number of books I want to read in 2013." but seriously........I read more than 50 books at over 16,000 pages in 2012. that isn't really stretching myself now is it?!?! but perhaps it is (please excuse me while I ramble)........the time to scrapbook, card make, exercise, etc has to come from somewhere, right?!?!? perhaps it needs to come from reading? (aaack! gag! gasp! blech!) this is something to think about.......not commit to.......when I am done hyperventilating........and reading the 5 library books I currently have that are due back at various times between now and the 21st of January.

do you have any "goals", "focus points", or........."resolutions" for 2013? no matter......I wish you a happy and healthy 2013.

btw, if you want a quick way to check up on my progress, I plan to use the label "my 24" for any posts related to these goals.