Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tips Tuesday -- Food Processors

I haven’t done a Tip’s Tuesday in a while, so I thought today would be a good day to bring it back.

I have been doing a lot of cooking and baking lately, trying new recipes for my recipe blog (Sweet Pea in the Kitchen), and have come to love my food processer. I actually have 2 of them, a regular sized version and a mini version. I have found this to be very useful in chopping/dicing, and it can help keep the mess to a minimum (within the bowl). So here are some of my favorite things do to with a food processor:

1. Dice onions and other vegetables – I hate dicing onions. They make my hands smell, and sometimes with the red onions if I don’t wash my hands enough, they make my fingers burn (anyone else ever experience this?). I love cutting an onion into a few pieces and then throwing into a food processor to finish the job.

2. Pureeing – the food processor is great for pureeing things like bananas and other fruit. I especially love to puree bananas instead of mashing them for breads and cookies, especially if the banana is not very ripe and a little tough.

3. Making salsa – I LOVE salsa, and have this new obsession with trying different kinds. It’s great to just throw all the ingredients into the bowl, and you don’t have to even chop some of them, and then just pulse it a little to chop and mix everything together.

4. Baking – I am seeing more and more recipes that use a food processor instead of a mixer. I have always heard about making pie crust in a food processor (helps cut in the butter), and the other day I saw Paula Deen make Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins using a food processor. You can check out her recipe here. They look very tasty, and I totally want to try them out.

5. Making flours – I have had a couple of recipes that called for oat flour or almond flour. These are hard to find in the store, so I make my own. Just take the oats or the almonds and put into the food processor and let it go until it grinds it up into a find powder. You have to be careful about the almonds though because if you puree it too much it will turn into almond butter. You might also want to sift it before using in your recipe to get out any of the clumps.

I typically use my big food processor for making things like salsa and of course you would need to use it for the muffins or pie crust. My mini-food processor is great for dicing up small amounts of onions/vegetables, and of course to puree only a few bananas. Plus I think the mini one is easier to pull out, use and then clean.

As you can see, there are many uses, and I am sure I will come up with more. Anyone else love to use their food processor? Any other gadgets out there we should try? Please share.

Also, if anyone has a great tip you would like to share, let me know and I will post it and give you credit. Leave me a comment and I’ll get in touch with you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Recipe Blog -- Sweet Pea in the Kitchen

If you are stopping buy from Mingle Monday...Welcome, welcome!!

I wanted to share with everyone that I have started a new recipe blog Sweet Pea in the Kitchen. I love trying new recipes, and I could totally fill up this blog with them, so I figured I would start a new blog dedicated to recipes.

You can always access the recipe blog through this blog through the link on the right hand side and every once in a while I'll share in this blog what I am up to over there. I am still adding some of my favorite recipes and trying to organize it, but if you get a chance, stop by and check it out. You will find some amazing recipes such as:

So check it out and let me know what you think!

Book Club: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Chapters 21 - 35)

This week for the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club, we were assigned chapters 21 – 35.

This section of the book continues with CeeCee, who is now Eve, building her new life. Marian, the woman Eve is living with, somehow produces a high school transcript and SAT scores, allowing Eve to go to college to study Psychology. She also gets a job working at an adolescent halfway house.

Eve meets a guy named Jack, and they begin dating. Jack is so much different than Tim, he is responsible, compassionate and just an all around nice guy. They don't even have sex until they had been dating for around 4 months (unlike almost immediately with Tim). The only thing Eve is concerned about is that Jack likes to joke and have fun, and she is afraid he is not going to ever get serious. It doesn't concern her too much and he eventually proposes to her. This happens after Eve explains to Jack that she had an emotional conversation with Cory about Cory’s father (which Eve tells Cory he died in a motorcycle accident). Jack says he was looking for a romantic and dramatic way to do this, but couldn't wait any longer and was wondering if he could be Cory's father and Eve's husband.

Eve and Jack get married, Jack adopts Cory and they both graduate from college, with Eve continuing to work part time at the halfway house and Jack working as a high school drama teacher. They both eventually go back to graduate school and both land jobs at the college, Jack working in the Drama department and Eve working as a counselor in the Counseling and Psychological department.

A couple really big things happen in this section of the book. First, Cory is starting to have socialization issues at school. I am sure this is due to the fact that Eve is very careful about her, due to their past, which she cannot discuss with anyone. Jack decides it would be best if Cory had a little brother or sister. Eve is worried because everyone thinks that she has been pregnant before, and how is she going to explain this. Somehow she gets around it, and they have a little girl named Dru. This whole section got me so nervous she was going to be figured out, especially during the delivery, but it all just kind of worked out. In a way, it kind of built me up to thinking something dramatic was going to happen and I kept quickly reading to see what would happen, especially at each doctor’s visit. And then when Eve was in labor, the nurse mentioned it was her first pregnancy, and Eve looked at Jack and said “I guess they messed up my chart” and he totally believed it. Kind of a let down in a weird twisted way.

The second thing is that she finds out the real story behind why Tim's sister is in prison for murder. Tim told Eve (when she was CeeCee), that his sister was raped by a photographer who had been invited to their house to photograph their gardens and then killed him. This is how he justified his plan stating she was emotional, not in her right mind, and had been wronged by the photographer. But Eve found out that really she killed a woman photographer and her 13-year older daughter after breaking in and stealing $50,000 worth of jewelry to buy drugs. We also find out that his sister was eventually executed. After finding this out, Eve can finally move on and forget about Tim. Thank goodness!

The third thing is that Eve keeps getting anonymous packages in the mail with money in them and a note saying "For the baby." She is figuring this is probably from Tim, but can’t really be sure. In the beginning the packages contain a couple hundred dollars, and then eventually the amount of money starts getting larger. One day she received a package and Jack was the one to get the mail. He questioned it, and finally Eve had to tell him about it. She told Jack that she wasn’t sure who it was from, and that she had received these packages a couple times a year, ever since Cory was born. She said she figured they might be from Cory’s father’s family, but she couldn’t be sure. He totally believed her, which I figured he would question it even more, but he didn’t. Eve says she has been saving the money for Cory for her future, and they move on and never really discuss it again, which I thought to be a little strange.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Tim is the one sending the money?

I am assuming Tim is sending the money. The only other people who know about the baby is Naomi and Forrest, but I am not sure why they would feel obligated to send her money. If it is Tim, I am sure it is because he feels guilty for what he has done to not only CeeCee/Eve, but also the baby.

2. So far, there's been a lot of discussion on CeeCee/Eve and her choices. What choice(s) would you make differently from her?

I think she has made good choices in trying to get her life back in order. Getting a job, going to college, raising Cory the best she can. The only choice that I would have made that would have been different was to not get in that situation in the first place.

3. What do you like about Jack? Are there things about him that you don't like?

I really like Jack. I think he respects Eve and treats her right. I think he is a little naive and it shocks me he doesn't ask more questions about some of the strange things that happen, like where did she get all that money? It shocked me he wasn't more curious about that.

4. What are the differences between CeeCee/Eve's relationship with Tim and Eve's relationship with Jack?

I think they are both more responsible, and it's good they were taking it slow. I loved how Jack asked to be Cory's father first, and then Eve's husband. I thought it was so sweet that he put her little girl first. I didn't think he was going to get serious with her until that moment, and then I knew they would be together forever. I just feel sorry that he has no idea the lies that Eve is keeping from him.

5. Do you think Eve is to blame for Cory's fears? What could she do, specifically, to help Cory feel like less of an outsider?

I do think she has caused these fears with Cory. I keep waiting for Cory to remember something about that horrible night, but I am sure that is probably impossible, she was too young. I do think though that Eve is so worried that she will either lose Cory, or be found out, so she is doing everything possible to keep Cory hidden and safe. I think that having a sister did help some, but I think she needs to find ways to help her make friends. Maybe she should have hosted some sleepovers at Cory's house. Get her comfortable with these girls in her own home. I am excited to see how Cory does at Darby. It looks like maybe that is the best thing for her.

6. Do you think Eve appropriately answered Cory's questions about her father? Do you think Cory will question her father more as she grows older?

I think when she put a name to the guy, it opened a whole new can of worms. What if Cory tries to investigate this guy and finds out he is made up. Maybe not now, but when she gets older, she might try and get in touch with his family.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eat Pray Love Book and Movie Review

I just finished the book Eat Pray Love, and then also saw the movie yesterday. I love to read books before watching them if they have been converted to a movie. Usually I like the book more, but sometimes I do enjoy the movie more.

For Eat Pray Love, I had mixed feelings about the book, and liked the movie slightly better. The beginning of the book starts with Liz already in Italy, and then goes back and forth explaining how she got there. The beginning of the movie actually starts with her in Bali, on an assignment for work, where she meets with a medicine man about her unhappy marriage. He gives her a little insight on what’s to happen in the next six months to a year, and tells her she will come back to Bali to help him with his English.

This all happens in the book also, but I think what I liked best about the movie was that the story was pretty straight forward, where the book seemed to jump around a little in the beginning. In both, Liz finally has this revelation after praying to God one night on the bathroom floor, asks her husband for a divorce, and decides to take a year long journey with 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India and 4 months in Indonesia.

In the movie, the divorce seems to come a little easier. Yes her husband is fighting it, but in the book it seems to be a much longer process. The one part I was actually looking forward to seeing, which was in the book but didn’t make it in the movie, was where she was in the car with her friend Iva, complaining about this never ending divorce, when she finally said, I wish I could write a petition to God to end this divorce. Iva said to her, why not go ahead and do it. So Liz begins writing a letter to God and when she is finished Iva says to her “I would sign it.” So then Liz starts naming people she knows who would sign it, and Iva says “They just did.” So they both start rattling names of people who would sign it saying “My parents just signed it” and then going into people they don’t even know like “Bill and Hillary Clinton just signed it.” For some reason this part just made me laugh, especially when shortly after this Liz gets a call from her lawyer that her now ex-husband just signed the papers and that Liz is officially divorced. Just shows how great God can be when you believe.

In the movie, I think I enjoyed the Italy section the best. I especially enjoyed the friendship Liz made with a Swedish girl named Sophie. My favorite part of the movie was when they were trying on new jeans because they had both eaten so much pasta in Italy they now both had muffin tops! So they had to get fat girl jeans. It was comical watching them trying to zip up each other’s jeans in the dressing room.

Although I didn’t hate it, the India section was my least favorite section in both the movie and the book. It was not as exciting for me and a little long and boring. I really enjoyed the friendship she built with Richard from Texas in this section. I pictured him a little different in the book than what he turned out to be in the movie. I pictured a guy resembling a cowboy, but he didn’t really seem like he was from Texas to me in the movie, and I didn’t think he had that much of an accent either. He seemed a little harsher in the movie than in the book, and I think I enjoyed him more in the book.

The Indonesia section was my favorite in the book, although I did enjoy it in the movie as well, but I enjoyed the book better. In this section, Liz meets and falls for a guy named Felipe from Brazil. In the book, he was this very wildly romantic guy who totally falls for Liz. Of course she is a little skeptic because of her divorce, and he tells her he doesn’t care if she doesn’t love him back, and even if she leaves him at the end of this journey, he doesn’t care because he will always love her. In the movie, Felipe has some caution to him because he has been divorced as well (he was divorced in the book as well), and he eventually tells her she needs to love him back or the relationship will be over. This kind of disappointed me because I just loved this wildly romantic Felipe from the book.

Also in the Indonesia section, Liz meets a friend named Wayan, a traditional Balinese healer who owns a small medical clinic. Liz stops by to see her when she has a cut that won’t heal and Wayan quickly heals her with her mix of herbs. They quickly become great friends. What I love about Wayan is that she is a great friend to Liz and isn’t afraid to talk about all kinds of things. I loved her talks about healing couples with their sex problems. She is not embarrassed to talk about some of her crazy practices for healing people, especially men and their problems with their “bananas.” They don’t really discuss this in the movie, which I think would have been pretty comical. Also, in both the book and the movie, Wayan is very poor and is about to lose her shop and home because her rent keeps going up and she cannot afford it. Liz ends up raising money to help her buy a home. Wayan is very grateful, but in the book, she is very hesitant to purchase a home and she keeps coming up with excuses on why she can’t buy this property or that one. You begin to think she is going to take advantage of Liz and run away with all of this money that Liz has raised (although thankfully she doesn’t). In the movie, Wayan quickly buys a piece of land and begins to build a home. I figured the movie was already long enough and didn’t need this drawn out story of them trying to convince Wayan to buy something.

Overall, there were some parts of the book that I didn’t care for. I really enjoyed hearing about all the different relationships Liz has built during her journey. There were some parts where she was trying to figure herself out and kept rambling on and on, and I didn’t care much for that. There was one part in Italy where she was having a discussion with this depression character and another where she is writing letters to what you assume is God, and he is writing back to her through herself (if that makes sense), and you figure she has a ton of crazy things going on in her head, but it all gets kind of confusing and a little boring. I kept finding myself quickly skimming over those parts. The nice thing about this book is that each of the 3 sections is divided into 36 chapters, which adds up to 108. This represent the 108 beads of a japa malas which was the inspiration for the rosary for the Europeans. Each of these chapters was pretty short, so it was easy to skim over parts that weren’t that interesting because they were very short.

Overall I was happy to have read the book and watched the movie. I think I might want to see the movie again to see if I have missed anything, but will probably wait until it comes out at Red Box where I can rent it for a dollar. The book took me a little longer to get through, which surprised me, and I have heard mixed reviews about both the movie and the book. I wouldn’t say that either of them were my favorite book/movie of all times, but they weren’t awful. I would say watch the movie at the very least, maybe rent it. Anyone else like or dislike the book/movie?

Friday, August 27, 2010

30 Day Clothes Challenge (Days 1 - 5)

So like many of you, I have been starting to get the urge to go clothes shopping for the Fall season, but have been trying to hold off for a couple of reasons:

1. The weather has still been pretty warm out (upper 80's), so it's not really the best time to be buying sweaters and boots. They would just sit in my closet for another month or so.

2. I really don't need to be spending money on clothes, especially since I just bought a bunch of stuff on clearance at the Loft a few weeks ago.

3. I recently cleaned out my closet and got rid of about 4 or 5 garbage bags of clothes, and I still had a bunch of clothes that I hadn't worn in forever because I kind of forgot about them.

So I came up with this great challenge for myself that I am calling the 30 Days Clothes Challenge. I am challenging myself to wear everything in my closet before the new season starts. I am going to go 30 (work) days and not wear the same thing twice. Now pants and cardigans will be worn more than once, but tops, only once.

I decided to make this a work day only challenge because I'll be honest, sometimes I just wear sweats or workout clothes on the weekends, and that is not very exciting. So for the next 6 weeks, I'll try to wear something different to work each day. It will be challenging because Labor Day is coming up, and then I have 2 vacation days coming up, so I'll figure out something. I might throw a weekend outfit in there, or I might just extend it out, we will just see how it goes. If I can make it through the next 6 weeks, then I can reward myself with a fall outfit that I can actually wear!

Each week (on Friday), I'll post what I wore that week. It will help keep me honest. I'll post once a week as to not bore everyone with my clothing posts. So far this week wasn't hard because I could pretty much wear anything. I'll be honest though, I started to freak out by Wed because I didn't want to wear all of my favorite clothes at the beginning and then get frustrated at the end of the challenge. I think I need to plan out my outfits on the weekends so that I don't stand there in front of my closet every morning, like I typically do, wondering what to wear. So I hope you enjoy my journey, and wish me luck!

This week's results:
**Please note I apologize in advance, I haven't mastered the art of taking a picture of myself in the mirror, so hopefully over the next 6 weeks, I'll figure out how to take a decent picture of myself. Here's hoping!

Day 1: Monday -- Wore Ann Taylor Loft pink t-shirt and Limited jeans
with Viva Beads necklace (one of my favs!)

Day 1: Monday -- I also wore an Ann Taylor Loft cardigan in case
I got cold at the office, plus it was a little chilly out that morning

Day 2: Tuesday -- American Eagle top, Loft jeans
and Lia Sophia necklace

Day 3: Wednesday -- Ann Taylor Loft shirt
with faux necklace and Loft jeans

Day 4: Thursday -- New York & Co top, Limited jeans, necklace from
Kohls, and earrings and bracelet from Lia Sophia

Day 5: Friday -- Gap dress and Lia Sophia necklace
(BTW: this dress is a pretty plum color,
but it's hard to tell in this pic)

Day 5: Friday -- I also wore a jean jacket from dELiA*s

So that is what I wore all week. As you can see, I wear a lot of jeans to work, but I am hoping to start mixing up with more dress pants. I also love to wear a dress to work about once a week. Usually for a client meeting or on Fridays. We are allowed to wear jeans to work, but if we do have a client meeting, we have to dress up. A very big perk to my job!

Hope you enjoyed, and stop back next Friday to see if I made it through another week!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Club: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Chapters 11 - 20)

This week for the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club, we were assigned chapters 11 – 20. I am trying really hard to stick with only reading what is assigned each week because I am also trying to read another book as well, but I am finding that I am really starting to get into the book, so it’s hard to put it down when I am finished with the assigned chapters. It’s also a really quick read, and I can read the 10 chapters in about 2 nights. I think if I allowed myself, I could finish the whole book in 2 days, but for now we will stick with the assigned chapters.

In this section of the book, the kid-napping takes place. Things seem to go as planned. The boys end up capturing the governor’s wife (Genevieve) and bring her back to the cabin in the woods where CeeCee is hiding out. The only glitch in their plan, and it’s a big one, is that Genevieve is pregnant, and I mean ready to pop pregnant.

The boys take off to begin negotiations, and shortly after, Genevieve starts to feel contractions. At first CeeCee thinks she is just doing this to try and get away, but then the baby starts coming, and she is coming fast. CeeCee begins to think how she can get this woman to a hospital, but isn’t even sure where she is in the woods and how to get out of there, let alone whether or not if there is a hospital nearby. Genevieve tells CeeCee she is going to have to help her deliver the baby, so CeeCee begins making preparations for the baby to come.

The baby is delivered rather quickly and she seems to be in perfect health. Genevieve on the other hand, had complications with her first child with hemorrhaging, and seemed to be having these same complications as well. She warned CeeCee if she started to pass out she will need to massage her belly where her uterus is. CeeCee tries her best, but Genevieve dies shortly after the baby is born.

CeeCee has no idea what to do, and debates just dropping the baby off at the hospital, but then again, has no idea where a hospital is. She goes back to Naomi’s house to get help. Naomi tells her she must get out of here and go into hiding, and she begins making plans for CeeCee to go into hiding, along with the baby. Naomi’s husband Forrest goes back to clean up the cabin and to bury Genevieve, and Naomi starts getting together the paperwork to get CeeCee and the new baby a new identity so they can go “underground.” CeeCee stays with Naomi and Forrest for probably about a day or so. They help teach her how to take care of the baby, and set her up with all the supplies she will need to take the trip from NC to Virginia where her new home will be.

CeeCee leaves for Virginia and has this great plan to drop off the baby at the governor’s house with a note that this is his baby. She attempts to do so, but there are too many police around so she just heads on to Virginia to begin her new life.

CeeCee is now Eve and the baby is now Corrine (Cory). They stay with a woman named Marian who is an older woman who has helped a few women in the past. She is a daycare worker and offers to watch Cory while CeeCee/Eve attempts to get a job. The rest of this section is about Eve and Marian getting along, and Eve beginning her new life. Eve still misses Tim, and wonders what is going on with the case, and if he will ever come find her. Marian tells her she needs to forget about Tim, that there is no way he will ever be able to come find her because it would be too dangerous for him, Eve, the baby and even Marian.

The discussion questions for this week are:

1. Where do you think Tim and Marty are at this point in the story?

I think they are probably in hiding trying to negotiate with the governor, but after they found out that Genevieve had died, who knows what they are up to. I have no idea if they are even in the same state anymore, let alone the same town.

2. What were your thoughts as CeeCee was helping Genevieve deliver her baby?

At first I thought Genevieve was faking the contractions. I figured this was her strategy to get CeeCee to get her out of there. But then when the baby started to come, I thought oh no, what is CeeCee going to do?! I kept reading on very quickly so I could see what happens. I don’t know what I would have done in CeeCee’s shoes. She was in a tough situation because I know she wanted to do what was best for both the baby and Genevieve, but I don’t think she knew what to do. She had no idea how to get them to a hospital, and obviously had no idea how to deliver a baby.

3. After Genevieve died, what would you have done with her baby if you had been in CeeCee's shoes?

This is tough. I would like to think I would find a way to return the baby, even if it meant turning myself in. I don’t think I could live with the guilt, but at the same time you feel bad because CeeCee’s life is just starting, and the consequences of getting involved with Tim may ruin her life if she turns herself in.

4. Why do you think CeeCee/Eve is still holding onto hope that Tim will come for her?

She is only 16, and this is her first love, so of course she is holding on to the hope that Tim will come after her to save her. When we are young, we all dream of our prince charming coming in on their white horse to save us (of course sometimes I still dream that now), until we get our heart broken a few times that is.

5. How do you think Eve will establish her new identity in Virginia?

I think she is going to have to completely start over and it is going to be hard to remember the new life she now has to live. It broke my heart though that she has to lose the letters from her mother.

6. What do you think of CeeCee/Eve now after she has gone through with the kidnapping, the delivery of the baby, the escape, and the relocation?

I feel bad for CeeCee, although she did get herself wrapped up in this whole plan. She is just so young and I kind of believe she didn’t really know better. I guess I was shocked at how easy it was for CeeCee to get a new identity and how quickly she was able to find a place to hide out. It’s like they have this whole underground system. I feel really bad for baby Cory because she will never know who her real parents are. I think that is what makes me sad about the most.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Office Jargon

I thought I would end this week with a little Office Jargon. A couple of weeks back, Bethenny Frankle started a discussion on Twitter about Office Jargon, and I started thinking about the things that we say around our office.

Circle back – Let’s “circle back” on this topic, or follow up with me later.

Parking lot this – This happens a lot in status meetings, when we get off on a tangent on something we say, “let’s parking lot this” meaning let’s discuss later.

Out of pocket – out of office, or unavailable (although I never really liked this one, I like to say OOO, or “Out of Office”).

Net-net – what’s the bottom line, or as I like to say, why does this matter to me?

Thank you for your partnership – this can be a smart ass way of saying, thanks for doing nothing.

N of one – our CEO says this and it basically means “in my opinion” or “it’s just the opinion of 1 person.”

Drive By – this is when someone stops by your desk and drops a hot project, or a bomb, on your desk, typically something that is going to cause your day to be crazy, and keep you from getting your work done.

Come to Jesus – this is reserved for times when you have had enough, and you need to get down to the bottom of something; we tend to have “Come to Jesus moments” when projects, or even people, have gotten out of hand.

Regroup – aka: meetings that talk about meetings; meaning they are meetings that happen after meetings where people still don’t know what is going on due to mismanagement or just not paying attention; we have a lot of meetings.

Make it a great one! – this is what our Traffic Coordinator says after our weekly status meetings, which take place first thing Monday morning. Usually it is with sarcasm if we see a potentially stressful week coming up.

What office jargon goes on in your work place?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tips Tuesday: Product Review

This week, instead of a tip, I wanted to share a product review. First off I am not getting paid for this review, nor am I getting any kick-backs.

Over the weekend I picked up this cute little caddy with Caldrea cleaning products from Target, and I am in love with them! They come in 3 different scents, but I love the Herbs of Provence scent. The caddy includes hand soap, dish soap and kitchen spray. The kitchen spray is my favorite because it makes your kitchen smell like wonderful lavendar. If you have a Target nearby, I would totally recommend this. Let me know your thoughts and if you have tried any of the other scents: Citron Ginger and Olive Oil.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Club: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Chapters 1 - 10)

Recently I joined a book club over at Book Beginnings and Bookends! We are reading the book "The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes" by Diane Chamberlain and today is our first day to post about the first 10 chapters of the book.

Just to give everyone a little background on the book, the main story is about this 16-year old girl CeeCee, who lost her mother when she was 12 years old to breast cancer and is now living in a boarding house. She is working as a waitress and is barely getting by. One of her regular customers is this college guy named Tim. He comes in every day and CeeCee thinks he is “beautiful” and that he is possibly interested in her but then quickly second guesses it and thinks he is obviously out of her league. Tim eventually invites her on a date to go to the movies

A few days after their first date, where CeeCee explains to Tim that she would love to go to college, but is not sure how she can afford it, she receives an envelope with $5,000 cash. She eventually finds out that this is from Tim, no strings attached, and it is to help her go to college. They start spending more time together, and CeeCee begins falling in love with Tim. She even loses her virginity to him.

After the first few dates Tim opens up about his family and tells CeeCee that his sister is in prison for murder. She was actually raped by the gardener and then killed him, but because she couldn’t keep her story straight, she was found guilty of murder and is currently on death row. Tim tells CeeCee about this organization called SCAPE (Stop Capital Punishment Everywhere) and later asks her to become involved in their plan to kidnap the Governor’s wife in order to convince him to commute his sister’s sentence. At first CeeCee is not sure she wants to be involved, but eventually says she will do it. The rest of the first 10 chapters is about them putting together their plan for the kidnap. CeeCee is in charge of watching over the Governor’s wife while the negotiations are taking place.

As part of the book club, there will be discussion questions each week. My answers to the discussion questions are:

1. What is your first impression of Tim?

At first I thought that he thought she was a cute girl and probably wanted what every other college guy wanted, to sleep with her. After she lost her virginity to him and he continued to be interested in her, you realized that maybe he really did want more, but after you realized his plan, you began to have second thoughts about his intentions.

2. If you were in CeeCee’s position, would you be willing to help your boyfriend in the way that she is willing to help Tim?

This is hard because I am so much older than CeeCee now, so it’s hard to say what I would or would not do at that age. I don’t think I would be involved in something illegal such as their plan, but I can see how young love makes you do stupid things for people (been there, done that!).

3. Why do you think CeeCee is so eager to please Tim?

I think it’s probably a combination of losing her mother at such a young age, and going through the foster system. But it probably also has to do with the fact that this is her first love, and she is very naïve.

4. Who do you think has it harder Tim? Or CeeCee?

This is hard to answer also. I think they both have had it tough, but I think maybe Tim because he is not as naïve. They say what you don’t know, can’t hurt you, and I think that Tim has gone though some things that has jaded his life, and maybe CeeCee is still too naïve to realize some things.

5. What character traits about CeeCee stuck out the most in these first ten chapters?

I think she is very loyal and very nurturing. This is probably a combination of her being so young, because of losing her mother and of course because she is female =)

6. Do you think CeeCee is as mature as she seems?

I think she is probably a little more mature than someone her own age because of the situations she has been put in, but I don’t think she is mature enough to know that the decision she is making to help out Tim is not a good decision.

Check back next Monday for the second ten chapters, and check out the Book Beginnings and Bookends blog for even more discussion about the book.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pink Saturday - 8/14/10 - Glamping

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! Our family is attempting to have a garage sale this weekend, so hopefully we can sell some of our junk (or treasure to some!)

Last week, when my boyfriend and I were sitting by the pool on vacation, I was reading the Aug 2010 issue of Southern Living Magazine and came accross this article about Glamping. I turned to my boyfriend and said, "Wow! I might actually consider camping if it was like this!" He turned to me and said "Jen, that is not camping"

Glamping is a form of upscale camping using tents with plumbing (including hot water and toilets), natural cooling and furnished with European antiques and luxurious bedding. According to The Martyn House website (the company featured in the magazine), glamorous tents have been around since 200 AD when the Ottomans used these tents for cultural or royal ceremonies. A form of Glamping immerged again in the early 1900’s in Africa to cater to the needs of wealthy, demanding American and European travelers who sought adventure in the wild.

According to the article in Southern Living, prices start at around $180 per night for a min 2 night stay. I am not sure though if this is per person, or per tent, but it looks really cool! My aunt stayed in something similar to this in Africa when she went on a safari, and she said it was awesome!

If anyone has ever stayed in one of these, please share your experience/thoughts on it. I don't know if this is something I'll do in the near future, but maybe someday!

Thanks for stopping by, and check out Beverly's blog for more info on Pink Saturday and to see the list of participants.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Biltmore Estate - Part 2 (The Conservatory and Bass Pond)

I am slowly getting through my Biltmore pics. Today I will share the Conservatory and Bass Pond. The Conservatory is probably my favorite part of the whole estate. There were tons of displays of pots of flowers and plants. I kept taking pics, and had to keep telling my boyfriend to get out of the shot. He kept saying, "are you done yet?"

Here is the Conservatory:


Here are some of the displays within the Conservatory:


This was my favorite display. It was a little water fountain, and the water was coming out of 3 wine bottles set on their sides. If only I could recreate that, I'll have to figure that out.




This is Bass Pond. There was a little boathouse off to the left (you can barely see the dock) but my boyfriend and I stopped and rested in the boathouse for a bit to get out of the sun. It was starting to get rather hot at this point.


This is a waterfall on the other side of the pond. We didn't walk all the way around the pond, we had already done plenty of walking by that point, but we did get to drive by the waterfall, so I asked my boyfriend to stop the car so I could get a picture. It looked so peaceful!


I still have pictures to share of Antler Hill Village, which had shops, restaurants, the winery, and the little farm. I'll try and get those posted soon, so be sure to check back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Biltmore Estate - Part 1 (The House & The Gardens)

Last Friday, as part of our road trip to Asheville, we visited the Biltmore Estate. This place was beautiful!!! I would love to just stay there forever! I was bummed though because you could not take pictures of the inside of the house, so I only have pictures of the outside and the gardens to share.

Biltmore Estate - America's Largest Home:






America's Largest Backyard:


Italian Garden:



Main Garden:





I'll share more pictures of the conservatory and the pond tomorrow, so be sure to check back!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Road Trip to Asheville, NC

I thought I would skip Tips Tuesday this week and share some pics from my road trip to Asheville, NC. I am going to do this in a couple of posts since I have a ton of pictures.

We arrived in Asheville on Thursday around 6 pm. It took us 10 hours to get there because we got stuck in traffic from a bad accident in KY, which put us back about 2 hours, plus we stopped for lunch. The total trip should have taken us about 7.5 hours.

So after checking into the hotel, we decided to head into downtown Asheville to see what we could see.

There was this cute bookstore called the Battery Park Book Exchange. They claim to have about 60,000 books, and they continue to purchase from their customers so it is expanding all the time. They also have a wine bar, so you can stop in, browse their wide collection of books and try out some different wines. It was a really cool place with a very trendy vibe.

I ended up purchasing 2 books:

We then walked around to see what else we could see. We were bummed because most of the stores closed around 6 pm. There were a lot of cute/trendy stores.

We then stopped into  Ed Boudreaux's Bayou Bar-B-Que for some pulled pork sandwiches. They have a BBQ bar where you can try out different types of BBQ's. It was pretty tasty!

Asheville is a really cute little town. They had some live music in the square, and they had some cute stautes all over the city such as this one:


It seemed like a great city to visit and I would love to visit again and spend a little more time there.

Tomorrow I will share my Biltmore Estate pictures, so be sure to check back!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blog Changes and Sweet Valley Teaser

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I had a great time in Asheville, NC on Thurs and Fri, and loved the Biltmore Estate!! I’ll post pictures later in the week once I have had a chance to go through them, so check back in a few days.


I am making a few changes to my blog, so if things look a little different over the next week that is why. I am trying to freshen things up a little, and figure out where I want this blog to go. Still trying to figure out this whole HTML design thing, so hopefully things don't start looking crazy, but if they do, I'm probably just messing with things.

So did anyone read the Sweet Valley Twins or the Sweet Valley High books back when you were younger? Well, the girls are coming back, 10 years later, in the series Sweet Valley Confidential. The new series comes out in March 2011, but you can sign up to receive the first chapter now on the Sweet Valley Confidential website.

I downloaded the 1st chapter, and thought I would share all that I know. Elizabeth is now 27 years old, single and living in NYC. She is writing for Show Survey, which is a ratings guide for Off-Broadway shows. She is apparently fighting with Jessica, who you assume is still living on the West Coast, and won’t return any of her calls. She is all alone in NYC, brokenhearted (Was it Todd?), ticked at her sister (Did she cheat with Todd?), and her only best friend is Bruce Patman (What?? The arrogant guy from high school??).

The first chapter is only about Elizabeth, so who knows if it will switch off between the two girls, or if it will only focus on her (assuming it won’t). This first chapter was definitely a teaser chapter, and gives only a tiny bit info, so I guess we will have to wait until March to see what happens.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pink Saturday - 8/7/10 (Pink Workout Gear)

Happy Pink Saturday everyone! I am still on my birthday roadtrip, but thought I would schedule a post sharing some fun pink workout gear in follow up to my Work Out Motivation Tips post from the other day. Pink workout gear can get anyone motivated to work out!

And be sure to check out Beverly's blog for more Pink Saturday participants.