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Archive for the ‘recommendations’ Category

Have I mentioned my mad love for Kelley Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford series? I like some of the Otherworld books (the Magic ones never did it for me) but I ADORE these books. There are only two so far and I am wicked hooked. Short version: if you wanted to hang out with someone who was a hitman (and you didn’t know), it would be Nadia. Chock full of creepy and/or paranoid serial-killers-with-a-mission. Cross between Buffy (albeit no vampires or monsters- at least not the otherworldly sort) and Dexter.

Also read: Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Free on the kindle and MAN this was a grabber. Corporate espionage thriller that was miles better than The Firm. It jumps in hard and if you hang on for the ride, the ending is total payoff. Dug it and I will totally check out more of his work.

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I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and I’ve got to say my latest guilty pleasure is the Magic series by Ilona Andrews. Just finished the latest book and they are well- written, fast-paced, kick ass protag, and have interesting world building. Two thumbs up, highly recommended. Reminds me of what Anita Blake could have been before she became a magic-induced nymphomaniac without principles.

The Year of Magical Thinking is pretty fantastic. I thought about picking it up for ages and finally did. Didion’s memoir of the year after her husband’s death will resonate with anyone who’s lost a loved one. This bit especially:

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shck. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able to even get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and the meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absecne that follows the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness.

I also finished the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is precisely as good as you’ve heard it is.

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman is a recent release and it’s beautiful and touching and wrenching and honest. Love her work.

All the recipes I’ve been making lately come from Dana Jacobi’s The Essential Best Foods Cookbook. Unlike Rachael Ray, they don’t promise you’ll be done in 30 minutes but I haven’t run into anything that takes much longer. The food HAS been fantastic, including the Salmon with Coconut Curry Chutney that I served for dinner on Friday. P.S. Cookbooks on the kindle are THE WHIP.  Easiest way to ever shop for groceries. I’ve also discovered that the rice which cooks perfectly at 10,000 feet is Basmati, properly soaked.

I also read the latest Mercy Thompson book by Patricia Briggs – she’s a consistently good storyteller, period.

I can’t remember if I mentioned it previously but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s one of those books whose cover design grabbed me but I didn’t pick it up. Finally got it on the kindle and it’s great. An interesting mystery with compelling characters, and a dose of social commentary thrown in. I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

I keep finding free books for the kindle, so I’ve got a mess of things in the TBR list. Probably I will not do much reading while Mom is in town and I’ve been keeping track of the books as I finish them on my facebook page. I believe I’m in the high 30s so far, which means hitting 50 by year’s end shouldn’t be tough.

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Days off

Today I spent a perfectly lovely afternoon reclined on a picnic table bench, reading a book. The dog stretched out next to me and alternated between napping and rolling in the grass. I started and finished The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman.

I think the first Hoffman book I read was Practical Magic, which I adored. It’s one of the few novel-to-film adaptations I also enjoy – the movie keeps to the sentiment of the novel, if not the letter, though the book is to be preferred.

When I had to describe Hoffman’s work to a friend last night I said it wasn’t fantasy, it’s more like fantastic fiction. It has every quality of ‘literary’ fiction but each work contains something magical or otherworldly that’s thoroughly woven into the narrative in such a way that it almost stops being fantastic and simply another element in a great story. It bridges genres and never fails to surprise and delight me. There’s never the sense of a re-tread or staleness, no matter how many novels I’ve read (and re-read). She’s one of the few authors whose work I can reliably buy in hardcover or, in this case, kindle.

All in all, a wonderful and relaxing afternoon.

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I frequently get asked if there are DVDs and/or books that I’d recommend for new students (or even experienced students). I just got an email from Yoga Journal offering a discount on the DVDs I like best.

The Step By Step series is a great introduction to yoga or even as a way to fine-tune your asana and breath practice. The coupon is 20% an individual DVD or something like 45% off for all three.  Enter coupon code SBS2 at checkout and click “Redeem Coupon” to receive your discount or call 1-800-I-DO-YOGA (436-9642).

I don’t plug a lot of yoga ‘stuff’ here, just the things I use and love myself. I highly recommend getting all three discs.

In related news, my recommendating for practicing with a DVD (whether you’ve practiced yoga previously or not) is to watch the DVD at LEAST once to make sure you’re familiar with the positions. If there’s anything that sounds confusing, make notes on a sheet of paper that you can keep next to your mat during practice. You should NOT be looking up at the DVD while you’re practicing – it’s bad for your body and negates all the good work you’re trying to do!

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Or how to deal with the lack thereof. ;)

If you’re in need of winter outerwear, get yourself to The Sports Authority. They are having CRAZY MAD SALES right now. More than 50% off on products by The North Face, Columbia, Burton, and other major brands. If you need to prepare for the next snowpocalypse, this is the time to do it. The sale prices are so good that the employees don’t get a discount on them.

Spouse is a big guy and needs 2XL jackets. When I was back in Michigan, they were like black gold. I walked into the SA in Silverthorne and found two fantastic jackets for about $100 each (one Columbia, one North Face). We’ll end up returning one, but it’s awesome to have options for a change. In case you’re wondering about the ‘stock up’ here, it’s because we get snow for a good month or two after everyone stops. Winter is at least half the year here, unlike where we’d been living for the last 8, and we came out unprepared.

In other bargain news, if you haven’t discovered Sierra Trading Post you should check it out. Their prices are great and on top of that, they will send you coupons for additonal deals a couple times a week. I frequently get discount codes for 25% off your entire order. That makes a pretty big discount when you’re already buying clearance shoes/boots.

If you are a lipstick junkie – I am – Benefit has great deals on their close out stuff (check out Buh Buys). Their lip gloss is the best I’ve ever found and I adore both Who Does Your Work and Next Question Please.

Both of those sites are guilty pleasures for me. If I can spare the cash and need something, I check STP first and I’ve sworn off non-Benefit lipsticks. Their prices aren’t fantastic but I’ve found their products worth the money I’ve spent (few and far between).

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I don’t have any photos because during the cleaning/straightening on Saturday, my camera cord has gone AWOL. While some of our food on Saturday was premade (tikka masala and korma), I made the samosas and chutney myself.

The chutney recipe has been difficult because the recipes I’ve found online aren’t that similar to the fantastic chutney they had at our local restaurant in Michigan. So I tweak.

I started with this recipe. Rather than precise measures, I used an entire  package of mint (the small plastic container from the grocery store) and roughly twice as much cilantro. My pepper of choice is serrano, but a jalepeno might be milder. I left out the onion, garlic, and cumin. I added two small containers of Greek yogurt and about a half a cup of skim milk. I used a drizzle of oil and then added sugar to taste. The result was tangy, sweet, and a little hot. Pretty close to perfect. It even approximated the consistency of the Kabob and Curry House chutney.

The site also has a really good recipe for samosas, if you want to try your own. Again, I tweaked it a little but it’s a really good place to start. Your mileage may vary, but I find it easier to boil the potatoes whole, let them cool, and then skin and chop them. It makes it easier for me to control the consistency of the potato (not too hard, not too soft).

Next batch of samosas will get homemade dough, so I’ll update with how that works out.

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Not only is it a good crime drama with great characters and actors, it’s got fantastic music. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

This link is mostly for my reference.

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