Sunday, January 31, 2010

A little something to brighten your Monday...

(or Sunday night if anyone watches this before morning)

Andy and I went to Roan Mountain, TN last night for a little get away with some friends. This afternoon we took advantage of the sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures and took a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

I have lots of pictures to share from out little vacation, but I'm tired and sore from our hike. In other words, I'm lazy and don't want to write a long post right now.

So here is a sneak preview.

To set the video up a little:

About 30 seconds before I started filming Andy climbed on top of a snow drift and jumped into fresh snow to see how far he would sink. The snow was very deep and came up to his knees at least. I asked him to do it again with the intention to video it because it wasn't the sort of thing you could capture with a photo.

The following is what happened next.

FYI: not much happens after the firs ten seconds or so, but I was too busy laughing to turn off the camera.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Family & friend time, plus a chubby baby

Who am I kidding? This post is really about the cubby baby. I mean, when I left for a visit on Tuesday I took my camera with every intention of documenting my short trip. I came home with a picture of a pizza and five thousand pictures of Mina.

(photo courtesy of Julie's sister-in-law, Amanda)

My trip home was fun. Going back to my old town is always an adventure. Julie and I like to say that you really need a passport to visit. My grandmother asked me once if I was ashamed of having grown up there. I replied, "Oh no I'm not ashamed. I'm just glad I don't live there anymore."

If you still live in my hometown and are reading this, chances are I'm not referring to you when I talk about the bad drivers and general all around crazy that resides there. But like I said, we had fun and the visit was successful.

We got settled in the hotel and then Julie's aunt came to stay with Mina while I took Julie out for a little girl's night.

We went to dinner to our favorite pizza place. It's one of the few things we miss about "back home" and don't skip a chance to eat there.They have a buffet and everyone who eats there gets the buffet. Except us.

We ordered an extra large with pepperoni on the whole thing and requested mushrooms on half (her) and sausage on the other half (me). We got an extra large with pepperoni all over and sausage and mushrooms all on one side. It was a good laugh and I'm surprised they managed to get the order even close to correct. If you could have seen the guy's face when he took our order you'd understand.

Why am I talking so much about dinner? Because that's all we did besides making a quick trip to the drugstore for cold medicne. We just aren't the party animals we were twelve years ago.

Plus there was a chubby baby at the hotel! Who can resit a chubby baby?

Mina conked out pretty quickly and I thought Julie would be right behind her what with the sleep deprivation and nighttime cold medicine. Boy howdy, was I wrong. We stayed up until 2am talking. I guess there's a little party animal left in us after all.

In the morning we had some continental breakfast in our pajamas and then headed over to my parents' house for a visit. Mina dazzled my mom and grandma while Julie and sat and watched.

We were tiered. Julie's been tired for four months. I was only tired because we stayed up until 2am the night before.

Julie wins.

The cooing and dazzling went on most of the day and then in the afternoon we bid farewell to the chubby baby and her tired mama.

Then I came back home and took a four hour nap.

That pretty much sums up my trip home. Except for the near miss we had in the parking lot of the world's greatest pizza place. But that deserves a post of it's own and a diagram or two for you to appreciate just how ridiculous the whole thing was.

Look forward to that post next week. And enjoy the snow, if you're getting any.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project 365, week 4

Week in pictures: January 23-29

There are always socks on my sofa

He lurves me

Alfalfa hair
The world's best pizza

Making a fool of myself

Jane Austen and I have a standing engagement when Andy works nights

The Hulk wants to know when winter will be over

Monday, January 25, 2010

Is it really Monday again? Already?

We've all got the winter blues around here.

Not really, but this month is quickly turning into the month that never ends. I think some people hit this slump right after the holidays, but it takes me a little bit longer to come down off the holly, jolly high.

Plus Andy and I are really boring lately. We've been living in a cycle these past few weeks and I don't really have much to come here and tell you.

That isn't true. I've always been able to talk to a brick wall about nothing in particular. So I've got plenty of stored up material to share with the internet at large. I just don't want to right now.

I need to get off my butt and out of this chair and jazz things up a bit.

So I'm taking a little break. Don't freak out! It's just a couple of days. I'm going down "home" tomorrow to see Julie and Mina and some of my family for a couple of days. I'll be back later in the week. Look for updates then.

P.S. I might defnitely, maybe, possibly be re-entering the workforce! The job really isn't all that exciting, but having my very own cash flow again souds pretty spectacular. Even if it all goes to bills it will be MINE!

P.P.S. Brunswick turned two this month.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Project 365, week 3

January 16-22

Holiday weekend

Stretched out

Their lives revolve around food-anticipation and consumption

 Homemade corn chips. Never again

On our fridge


Time to flip the mattress

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy birthday to my Momma

P.S. We really should take some new pictures together. This picture from my wedding is getting old. (Plus it reminds me of when you told me that the harpist wanted to cancel an hour before the ceremony and all the nausea comes back to me.)

P.P.S. I'll bring you a chocolate pie when I see you next week.


Your favorite daughter

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bird is the word

Over the course of our entire relationship (almost ten years now) Andy has never called me by my name. He only uses my name for introductions or when referring to me in a conversation with other people.

It sounds weird to say it, but I know of other couples that are the same way.

I don't usually call Andy by his name either. Mostly because he doesn't use mine and it feels strange to call him Andy when he isn't calling me Joanna.

Ten years hold a lot of nicknames. I like to change things up and over time I've called Andy so many things I don't remember. Andy likes to find one and stick with it. Our first nicknames for each other were Nerd in Shining Armour and Geeky Princess. Those didn't have staying power. Too long. Geeky Princess was quickly replaced by "woman" which I hated, but soon found out he applied that name to all the ladies in his life who were important to him including his mother and sister. Clearly I was important too, so I let the stupid nickname pass.

Now that we are married Andy calls me Wifey. I hated that one at first too. Mostly because of the book Wifey by Judy Blume. I had read it about a year before we were married and it was awful. I do not recommend it. But Andy is persistent. Like I said, he finds a name and sticks with it. No matter how much I protest. So for the last three years he's been calling me Wifey.

Two names stick out though and pretty much define our relationship. We're quirky. We bicker like siblings. We like to have fun with each other, and in general not take life too seriously. I'm high strung and he's laid back. We balance each other out.

About a year and a half after we started dating Andy started college. He got to know people and quickly found his group. A handful of the guys that he fell in with were from the UK. One of the things Andy enjoyed most about them was their dialect. Especially British slang. He ate it up and quickly started to use some of their words in his own conversation.

One of those words was "bird." Did you know that men in the UK often refer to their better half as their bird? Not their girl. Not their old lady. Their bird. "I've got to go see my bird tonight." "My bird has been nagging me lately."

Andy and another of  his friends, Chris, thought that was pretty much the best thing they'd ever heard. At the time Chris was dating my friend Jenn. The boys decided to start using bird in reference to Jenn and I. That soon evolved into just calling us bird and expecting us to answer to it. We both hated it.

At first the whole thing was funny. Then it got kind of annoying. Then we were both ready to tape their friggin' mouths shut. It also became clear that no amount of bitching and moaning from us would discourage them. They were having a good time. Maybe if it weren't both of them together they would have given up, but no such luck.

So Jenn and I decided to fight fire with fire. We tried to pick nicknames that were equally insulting so they would get the point.

Did you know that it's hard to insult college boys? It is.

Jenn started calling Chris walrus. I don't think he loved it, but he persisted with bird and eventually that's just how they spoke to each other.

It took me a little longer to settle on a name for Andy. I tried calling him roster for a while, but that just didn't fit. Then I had an absolute stroke of genius.

Who remembers Doug? It's a cartoon that was on in the 90's. I loved it and watched it religiously.

Doug has a comic book alter ego called Quail Man. This is Quail Man:

He wears a belt on his head and underwear outside his shorts.

I thought for sure that naming Andy after such a goofy super hero would make him get the point and he'd drop the whole quail thing.

He didn't.

Eventually the whole thing got totally ridiculous. No one was budging and soon all our friends knew our names. For better or worse we were Bird, Bird, Walrus and Quail.

Jenn and Chris broke up. She moved on to her now husband who does not call her Bird.

Andy still called me Bird. I still called him Quail.

We called each other that right up until he picked the name Wifey.

Do you want to know why I stopped calling him Quail? Because I hated Wifey and wanted to find a name he would hate. Apparently I hadn't learned my lesson from the whole Bird/Quail debacle.

So I started calling him Husbandy. Get it? Husb-Andy?

About a month after we got married and he'd be using Wifey for a while I told him I wished he'd call me by my real name. I decided that since we were adults and married that we should act it and call each other Andy and Joanna.

He actually agreed.

So we started using each others real names.

An hour later we decided it was creepy and we didn't like it. We've used nicknames ever since.

Childish or not it's who we are as a couple. I'm his bird. He's my quail.

But if he starts calling me mommy after we have children we might have to go to therapy. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Soapbox: What do you mean by "American"

Getting up on my soapbox is something I tend to avoid here on Planned Spontaneity. Not because I don't have plenty to bitch about, but more because I generally don't like to ruffle feathers. Live and let live. Most of the time. But even I know that you can't avoid offense at all times, and I've had something eating at me lately that I need to get off my chest. So I'm going to peck this out on my keyboard and then I'm going to go read a book because I've spent an embarrassingly large amount of time online lately and I can feel my brain dying.

When I was in college I knew a guy, named Adam, with a very thick southern accent. I'm talkin' so thick you could stir it with a spoon. He was a fun guy and his accent was just one of his many eccentricities. I had a class with him and one day he said "et too Brute" and I thought I might never recover from the giggles. Think Shakespeare meets Steel Magnolias in basso profundo. I had to put my head down for the rest of the class.

This other guy named Gonzo (yes, Gonzo. Muppets anyone?) told him once that he needed to "Americanize" his accent. Gonzo wasn't southern, in case you hadn't already guessed. I don't remember where he was from, but his accent didn't lean towards a particular geographical region. In other words, he sounded like a news anchor.

I took serious offense to that suggestion. My accent isn't nearly as thick as Adam's, but it's part of who I am. Adam's accent was a big part of what made him so endearing. That and the fact that his dorm room looked like a page out of Southern Living magazine. Suggesting that he should "fix" it in order to make him easier to understand was insulting and down right rude.

To be honest I was more upset than Adam was. He thought it was funny and probably hasn't given it another thought since. But for some reason it stuck with me and I'm often reminded of it.

Sadly this attitude towards southerners is something I encounter much more than I would like. Lately it seems to have gotten worse - or at least I'm coming across these kinds of statements more and more.

In the last month or so I came across a blog written by a husband-wife team. They also live in western NC but in a different county than Andy and I. Part of their blog is devoted to the region and it's varied activities. I like this about their blog. It's helping promote tourism in the area and since they moved here from out of state they're able to give a truly unbiased opinion of the things they participate in. But a larger part of their daily musings center around poking fun at the locals who live in their area.

Now, don't get me wrong. Tourism is great and so is expansion. It's a good thing that so many people are moving to North Carolina. This ongoing influx of transplants means that we have something others want. But doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose if people move here and then attempt to change the area to reflect what they've been used to? Lives differently doesn't equal living wrong.

This topic can go in so many different directions and I'm starting to get a little lost myself. The main point I'm trying to make is that I feel like people who are new to NC (or new to any place) should do their best to embrace not only their new surroundings, but also the people in it. You can't pick and choose what parts of a region you get when you move into it. It's all or nothing. I'm not saying you should erase what is good about the area you moved from. That wouldn't be fair, but is it so hard to not pass judgment on the new neighbors?

I'm not saying that we southerners don't pass judgment. If you ever find yourself in a gaggle of Southern ladies and you hear the words, "bless their heart, but," you can rest assured that judgment is about to be passed. In spades. The point is that everyone is guilty of it. (A few paragraphs ago I passed judgment on Gonzo for being named Gonzo.) My problem is when people judge something that they don't understand and haven't taken the time or put forth the effort to do so.

It boggles my mind that we can travel to different countries and acceptance is a given, but we can't go to a different region in our country without passing some kind of judgment about the way they live and how it's wrong. Why are Americans so hard on other Americans?

And as for "Americanizing" your accent - well, what the hell does that even mean? Let us not forget that America is the original melting pot. Our accents are what they are because of the people that traveled and settled here from all over the world. I think it gives us character; whether it's Southern, Northern, Midwestern or any other kind of accent you can think of. If you were in Italy and came across an Italian who could speak English would you ask them to "Americanize" their accent so that you could understand them better? God I hope not, and if you would then you need to go look in the mirror and say these words, "You are the reason why the rest of the world hates Americans."

That's it. I'm not sure I even made a coherent point, but I feel better now. Tomorrow it's back to rainbows and sunshine on PS, but right now I'm going to go broaden my horizons with Sense and Sensibility.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to make wheat tortillas

For several months now I've been making tortillas at home. It takes a little effort and certainly isn't as time friendly as buying them, but it's cheaper. And they're wheat so it's healthier too!

Give it a try!

(Original recipe found at CuisineNie)

Whole Wheat Tortillas

2 Cups whole wheat flour (plus more for dusting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2  tablespoons olive oil
Approximately 1 cup warm tap water

 In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and olive oil. I like to mix the dry ingredients a bit before I add in the olive oil. It doesn't mix in fully, but rather clumps up in little balls with the flour. That is perfectly fine. Don't be alarmed.

Next add the tap water. I measure out about two cups and then add it one tablespoon at a time. The original recipe only calls for half a cup, but I need way more than that. I think because I use store bought flour and the original uses home ground wheat. But no matter what, don't just dump the water in.
Patience is required here. Stir in each tablespoon of water until it is completely combined. You just want the dough to come together, but not be sticky. Sticky is bad.
Once you have your dough ball take it out of the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured surface about twenty times. Just until it's smooth.  Now cover it and let it rest for 15 minutes. Remember there isn't any yeast, so it doesn't need to rise. You just want all those ingredients to have a minute to meet and greet.
Wash some dishes. Tweet about making tortillas. Do some laundry. Take a potty break (but for heaven's sake wash your hands!). But don't touch that dough for 15 minutes.

Ok, now we're ready to roll them out.

Take out your dough ball and cut it in quarters, like so.
Then cut each quarter into three equal(ish) parts. Like so.This will give you twelve equally sized tortillas. Throw the dough wedges back into the bowl, just to get them out of the way for a bit.
Get your flour back out. I know you put it away while you were cleaning up. It's okay, I did the same thing. You also need a rolling pin, or something like a rolling pin. Once when my rolling pin was dirty and I was desperate I used a cylindrical vase. No one knew the difference.

One more tool and then we're set. Get out your electric griddle and heat it to about 325. If you don't have an electric griddle go out and get one. I'll wait.

Just kidding. If you don't have an electric griddle I'm sure a non-stick pan over medium heat will be just fine.

Flour your work surface and then pick up one of the dough wedges. Roll it into a ball (you might want to flour your hands a bit) and then use your fingers to flatten and stretch it until it's in kind of a circle shape. Put the dough onto the floured work surface.
Sprinkle a little more flour on top and then roll it out. The dough is very elastic and likes to spring back into shape. Just apply pressure and roll from the center to the edge and eventually you'll end up with a nice flat tortilla. You might want to flip it a few times to make sure it doesn't stick to your work surface. Roll it out until you think it's a little thinner than you think a tortilla should be. They plump a bit when you cook them. Also, they don't need to be perfect. If you try to roll out a perfect circle you'll go crazy.

Now throw it on the griddle. No need to spray with cooking oil, it won't stick. I promise.

This is where it's good to have an assistant. You only want to cook it about 30 seconds on each side, but it takes a long time if you stop rolling and cook each tortilla individually. I usually try to multitask; rolling and cooking and flipping at the same time. It's a hair pulling activity. If you have someone around who is handy with a spatula I recommend that you employ their talents.

You know the first side is done when little bubbles form. Flip over the tortilla and cook the other side for a few seconds. It's done!
Repeat this with the remaining eleven dough balls.

Pile on with your favorite toppings and feed to your hungry husband.
 Or eat them all yourself. You've earned it!

(Cooks note: To store leftover tortillas I wrap them in paper towels and then in saran wrap. They'll stay fresh like this in the fridge for several days.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Project 365, week 2

Week in pictures. January 9-15

Naps are the best

Mac-n-cheese assembly. It's a science.


One last snowy day before the warm temps broke through

I really have to train him better

The sun! And blue skies! It's a miracle of epic proportions!

"In one of my moods..."

OK, so after I took that last picture I realized that my turtle neck made my neck look squatty and my face look fat which is not at all helpful because half the time my face is still slightly swollen anyway. I was in a bad mood before, but now it's really spectacular. Be glad I'm not posting for real today.

Also, I can never wear that turtleneck in public again. And it's one of my favorite shirts. Damn.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coming to terms with my cool status

Andy and I are surrounded by college students. There aren't a lot of people our age up here. Our friend choices are college students or people five to ten years older than us who are great, but have kids and think we don't want to hang out because we are childless. The result is a hodgepodge of friends who don't really make a group. But recently we have managed to finally find our "group" of people. People that can all get together instead of us making separate "play dates" with them individually.

Only one member of the group is a college student. She's dating a non-student friend that Andy and I went to college.with. She's very nice and not at all like a college student so we grandfathered (pun!) her into the group.(I mean no offense to college students, but as Andy and I haven't been in college for five years we just don't live a college lifestyle anymore. In other words, we're old people.)

So anyway, this friend, Allison (I've talked about her before), hosted a party last night with her roommate. They called it a "back to school potluck" because their classes have started back from holiday break. She invited us and the rest of our "group" even though we aren't in college. She was being nice and taking pity on us old folks because we're lame-o losers who never have anything to do.

It was going to be very low key and we all decided to go. Let me add here that if any of us had decided against the party everyone would have bailed. We're old. We're afraid of the rowdy youngsters. Strength in numbers.

Since it was a potluck I spent yesterday afternoon baking and making yummies to take to the party. I couldn't just do one thing. It's not my style. I'm a classic over-do-er.

Then it came time for me to get ready to leave. I went to my closet and changed clothes about four times. Then I freaked out. What was I supposed to wear? I haven't been to a college party since... well, since I was in college. And even then I didn't know what was cool because I started dating Andy long before I entered college so I stopped caring about what was cool a long, long time ago. I didn't need to impress anyone in college. I already  had my man. I was "cool" at parties when I was in college because I was one of them. I didn't even have that to fall back on anymore! I was having a serious moment there in my bedroom. I didn't want to look like the old person I am, but I also didn't want to look like I was trying too hard.

After a moment of horror it occurred to me that I'd just given myself the answer to my dilemma. I already had my man. Andy and I have been together for ten years and married for three of those. These days he's just happy  if I get out of my pajamas. Who cared what I wore? I certainly didn't, and all of a sudden that comfy black t-shirt I'd worn all day looked like a ball gown. I picked it up off the floor and threw it in the dryer for a minute to try and get some of the lint and bunny hair off. That sort of worked. Then I threw it back on along with a little makeup and I was ready to go.

I told the other married couple in our group about my epiphany when we met up with them and Leslie totally agreed with me. "Isn't it great?" were her exact words to me. Clearly she'd gotten to that point long before me. I guess I'm a little slow on the uptake.

We all piled in a car and off we went. Once at the party we formed "the old people's corner" and only mingled with the college students a little bit. They were nice, but we just didn't have a lot to say to them. I stopped caring what people were majoring in about the same time I walked across the stage to recieve my diploma. So that question was out and what else are you supposed to ask a college student?

The intent was to stay for as long as was polite and then head out. We didn't want to wear out our welcome and were sure that we would just be in the way of the rowdy youngsters.

So there we were in our corner. Talking and laughing and having a good time. We noticed a couple of moments when we were whooping it up and the rest of the room had gone quiet. Everyone was looking at us, wondering, I'm sure, what the fogies could possibly have to laugh about. And then we realized we were the only ones left. The old folks outlasted all the younguns. And we all got home by ten thirty, so those college students are weak-sauce. Or maybe we learned a long time ago to pace ourselves.

Either way I came to accept my older person status and I'm alright with that. I welcome it. I don't miss college a bit. And it looks like we may have formed a new tradition in our group. The "old person pot luck dinner" is going to come around again next month. Younger folks are welcome, but they'd better be prepared to hold thier own with the fogies.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Being Adventurous

Athleticism is not a natural part of my biological makeup. Any horoscope would have you believe otherwise because whenever I read character traits of an Aries I'm told I should be athletic and energetic.

Energetic? Yes. Athletic? No.

I hated physical education when I was a kid. The only thing I was good at on the presidential fitness test was sit ups. I could do mad sit ups. More than anyone else in a minute. Don't ask me to explain that. I can't.

If you've been around here a while you know that I run. Running is my sport of choice. I started running because I needed a way to stay fit that didn't require me to fork over cash each month for a gym membership. I can run outside and all I have to pay for is the equipment, i.e. tennis shoes and clothing. I also chose running because in the event that someone got hurt it would be me and I wouldn't be responsible for accidentally sending someone to the hospital for stitches. Big bonus points for running. It also turned out that I kind of enjoy it - meaning that I don't want to fall over and die after every work out. Who'd have thunk?

But I'm getting off topic. We're talking about my nonexistent athleticism.

Andy is quite the athlete and picks up new sports with ease. He is the all around outdoor guy and sportsman.

I'm just going to come right out and tell you that we don't have much in common and never have. But in the interest of keeping the spark alive we try to do things together. Even if that means stepping out of our box.

That is how I found myself strapped into a set of cross country skis last week. Neither of us had been before and Andy said he wanted to go. I said why not. Andy did have a slight advantage since he skis religiously and I have never been. But it wasn't the same kind of skiing.

So last Tuesday, when the high was fourteen degrees, we went cross country skiing.

Guess what?

I actually liked it.

No really, it was fun.

I would totally go again.

However, we learned an important lesson that day. Fresh fallen snow is imperative to having an enjoyable time while cross country skiing. The first part of our adventure we had a good inch of fresh snow. As the trip wore on we got into the snow that had melted and then frozen back over into ice. And then I fell down four times and I was ready to go home.

That's just what we did, because after ten years Andy knows when it's time to call it quits. About the time that I start to whine. Don't push me past the whining because I start to get hysterical and completely irrational. Andy is a smart man, or an observant one. Whichever.

We did manage to get a few photos (and a video) before calling it a day. Enjoy.

Just starting out

Half way up the hill

At least the sun was out

Attempting to make it across the field of ice
I fell shortly after this

 Cold, tired and ready to go home

Here is the video of the first time I fell. I realize that you aren't supposed to use the poles to propel yourself. The reason I was doing it that way is because we had hit some ice and were going uphill and I was having better luck pulling myself up the hill with the poles rather than trying to move my feet. Before Andy started filming I had gotten pretty far with this technique. I just happened to hit a dip in the icy snow while he had the camera on. At least I laughed. I'm pretty sure every time I fell after this was much less graceful and I may have used an expletive or two because I kept hurting myself.

Next on the wintersports agenda: ice skating.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Playing with Fire

Each year at Christmas I use the extra boughs cut from our tree to decorate the mantle. Instead of putting these in the garbage this year I decided to burn them one night when we had a fire going.

I was kind of amazed at the result. I mean I always knew that Christmas trees were extra flamable, but I wasn't expecting such a large flame.

If you work in a college residence hall and have a hard time explaining to your residents why they can't have live trees at Christmas here is your answer.

*Sorry it's sideways. Andy didn't realize that you couldn't turn the camera vertically while filming. You get the point though.*

I don't know why I got so excited about it. Andy kept telling me I was a little pyro. Then he said he wanted to hold one of the branches in his hand and light it with a match. At witch point I promptly freaked out and threw all the branches in the fire at once so he couldn't set himself aflame. Who's the pyro now?

Bonus Post! Two in one!

I didn't feel like this deserved a post of its own. What do you think about having an "ask me anything" day? I've been considering this, but didn't know if people thought I was interesting enough to ask questions.

But what they heck, let's do it!

Ask me anything (within reason). Leave a comment with your questions sometime this week and I'll answer all of them in a post on Saturday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reading update

I've checked off three of the books on my list. Go me!

The first was The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling.
It's not a long book because it's a small collection of wizard fairy tales. I read it in about an hour. I can't really tell you why it sat on my shelf so long. There just always seemed to be some other book I was buried in to take a breath and give Beedle my full attention.

As fairy tales go the book pretty much met all my expectations. Short stories with morals, except the intended audience was wizard children and not muggles. (If you are completely lost, then you need to go read all seven Harry Potter books.) I'm glad the book wasn't extra long because I don't think it would have kept my attention if it had been. I would have been easily bored by much more length. But it was nice to dive into the wizarding world again with some new stories. I love re-reading the HP books, but I think I have them memorized at this point.

Up next was Lord John and the Hand of Devils. This book is the third from Diana Gabaldon about a character from the Outlander series. A friend of mine shares my love for the Outlander series and since she already owned all the Lord John books she loaned them too me.

I have to admit that I struggled through them. If you've read any of the Outlander books you know that Gabaldon is not short winded. At all. She should stick to that strategy. I feel like she rushed the endings of all the Lord John stories because she had a word limit for all of them. The writing just isn't up to her usual standards. I was dissapointed. In one of her many comentaries in this final LJ book she does say there is a fourth book in the works. I'm undecided right now if I'll read it.

Last night I finished up with The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

Meyer is best know for the Twilight series that people are talking about so much these days. I read and loved all of them. Not so much because of Meyer's writing (which leaves much to be desired) but because it's a good story and I've always had a secret obsession with vampire lore. It's a guilty pleasure of mine.

She released The Host (her first adult novel) some time before finishing the fourth book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. I had seen it in bookstores, but never really had much interest in reading it. Then I received it as a gift and it sat on my shelf for nearly a year. I just couldn't bring myself to crack it open. I love supernatural stuff, but I'm not so big on science fiction. Some people might say those two things are interchangeable, but I don't feel that way.

But, about the book. I'm so glad I read it. I was completely shocked at how much I liked it. I even forgot for a minute that I was reading a Stephenie Meyer book. (Until I found a couple of typo's of course. Her editor is atrocious.) I got really involved in the story and the characters. When I was done reading it I was a little sad that it was over; a tale-tell sign that I thoroughly enjoyed a book.

It isn't the next great American novel by any stretch of the imagination, but I was entertained from the beginning. And that's all I can really ask of a book. I read for the love of reading and to give myself a short escape from reality. I got both of those things from this book.

Up next:

The Fabulous Girl's Guide to Decorum by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen