Monday, November 4, 2013

The macaroni and cheese that burned my arm but tasted so good I forgot...Well... Almost :)

Pancetta Macaroni and Cheese
source: blogchef
  • 4 oz. diced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 1lb elbow Macaroni
  • ½ c butter
  • ¼ c flour
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ c milk
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 4 oz shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 4 oz  shredded sharp yellow cheddar
  • 4 oz brie
  • 4 oz provolone
  1. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain. 
  2. Meanwhile,  In a small skillet over medium high heat cook pancetta for about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels. Allow the pancetta to cool and then crumbed it into pieces.
  3. Melt ½ cup (1 stick) of butter in a large saucepan. Once the butter has melted whisk in flour, ground mustard, onion powder and salt. Whisk in milk, a little at a time and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. 
  4. Once the mixture has become somewhat thick and starts to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and add in the goat cheese, white cheddar, yellow cheddar, provolone, and brie. Stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Mix the cheese sauce with the cooked noodles and then stir in crumbled pancetta.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lumatere Chronicles

Finnikin of the Rock ***1/2
by Melina Marchetta
Book Type: YA, Fantasy
Summary: Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.
Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.
But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This was a fascinating book. I don't usually enjoy this type of story but this one was written very well. It had a similar feel to "Sword of Shanara" (which I only made it a couple chapters into...). It was almost like
"Sword of Shanara" meets "Graceling". It is a story about a young boy as he tries to save a kingdom with the help of his mentor- the King's First Man and a young girl with a mysterious past who claims that she is the only one who can find the missing heir to the throne. The three of them set out on a journey, gain many companions along the way and also develop relationships that seem unlikely early on. It was a lot of fun watching Finnikin's feelings for Evanjalin as they develop. It was fascinating to see all of the prophecies that revolve around Finnikin come true in unexpected ways. I loved how conflicted and confused Finnikin is by his role in the future of Lumatere and how everybody else is so inspired by who he is and what he stands for. I loved the twist at the end, when you finally figure out what the deal is with Evangalin. I loved the character growth that occurs in Finnikin and Froi. I enjoyed all of the adventures that these characters go on before they are able to get to the end of their journey. And I thought the very last chapter of the book was absolutely adorable. I wouldn't have expected this type of book to have such a cute ending. But it pulled together the entire story perfectly. All in all I thought this book was a blast. I'm glad I accidentally stumbled upon it.

I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to regular hot dogs again!

This is a local favorite down here in AZ. It may be something you can find in other hot, deserty, South Western states... But it is definitely popular where we are! It is a tasty twist on your classic hot dog. Seriously fattening, but worth it for sure!
Sonoran Hot Dogs
  • all beef hot dogs
  • bacon
  • Ranch Style pinto beans
  • pico de gallo
  • shredded cheese (cheddar, cotijo)
  • mayo, mustard, ketchup
  • hot dog bun or bolillo roll
  1. Take the hot dogs and wrap them like a mummy with bacon.  Mesquite bacon is good.
  2. Fry it on a griddle or BBQ until the bacon gets crisp.  Some people like to fry the bacon a little first and then wrap it around the hot dog and then fry them both in the bacon grease.
  3. Take the bun and toast them a little or, in the case of the bolillo roll, steam it for a minute to make it soft. 
  4. Put mayo on the bun and insert the bacon-wrapped dog. Squeeze some mustard and ketchup on top.
  5. Warm up the pinto beans and put a layer on top of the hot dog. Add cheese and pico de gallo.
  6. Serve warm!

World War Z

World War Z ***1/2
Well if you are looking for a fun zombie movie this summer, this is it. The zombies are super fast, which is insanely creepy when you think about it. If zombies really were fast we wouldn't stand a chance! This movie wasn't scary, it had some make you jump scenes but overall it was just creepy and suspenseful. Kind of like "I Am Legend". It was a very well done movie. Fast paced, well developed characters, good actors, lots of action, but also a real storyline and a purpose. It was very fun. At least I enjoyed it :).
Now I would like to give a little bit of a heads up, Russ just read the book and told me it was phenomenal... And that the movie really was nothing like the book. Haha. SO remember that when you go to see it. It's nothing like the book. But that doesn't mean you won't like it. Go in looking for an exciting zombie movie and I guarantee you'll enjoy it. But it is different from any zombie movie I've seen in the past... So no slow decomposing monsters in this flick!

Benny Imura Books

Rot and Ruin **1/2
by Jonathan Maberry
Book Type: YA, Sci Fi, Zombie Apocalypse
Summary: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Well this book was a disappointment! The main character is a total dork. He is just a stupid, jerky teenager that doesn't care about anyone but himself. He has all the perceptions of the world around him but no real clue about reality. He is nasty to his older brother all the time for no reason except one. He believes that his brother is a coward. Because of the one memory he has of his parents, from when he was 1 years old. Like a memory from that age is truly reliable. Benny is just obnoxious and irritating throughout the entire book. I kept waiting for him to grow up and I'll say that by the end he did, a little bit... But I still wasn't a huge fan of his character. I liked the powerful girls in the story. That was cool. But the zombies? I mean... They humanize the zombies. Which is okay, I mean, I understood where they were going with it but... I don't know. If you want a zombie book, you want a good, action packed, creepy zombie book... This wasn't any of those things. The humans were the monsters in this story, not the zombies... Which really, was a fascinating and probably realistic twist. I just felt that it didn't quite work... The way it was developed. At least for me It didn't quite hit the mark. I don't know. I didn't love it or hate it. This book was fine for a fun summer read, but I was kind of grateful when this book was over... Bad sign? Yeah... 


Room ***1/2
by Emma Donoghue
Book Type: Realistic Fiction
Summary: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: Wow. This book was a fascinating concept for sure. This little boy is 5 years old. He lives with his mom in this very small room. He's been there since he was born. His whole life has been spent in a box. He doesn't know any different. He doesn't know any better. He loves his life. But he finds that his mom is unhappy more often and he doesn't understand why. She is unsatisfied with their life. The life that seems perfect to little Jack. Until one day she tells him a story. A bad story. He doesn't like the story of his mom being taken and forced into this room. He doesn't like that his mom was hurt by the man he calls "Old Nick" and he really doesn't like the plan she makes to change their situation. He would rather stay in Room. The one place he knows. But it's been too long. His mom can't take it anymore. She's getting out or she's going to die trying. Little Jack is a cute little 5 year old. He takes like a child but he is a very intelligent little boy. This story is told strictly from Jack's perspective. It's fascinating to see how his mom worked so hard to give Jack a real life. She does such a great job with what she has. This story takes on a subject that I've never read about in a book before, abduction. This poor 19 year girl's life is thrown upside down when she is abducted and shoved in a room that has been prepared for a prisoner. It impossible to break out of, layered with concrete, insulation, barbed wire fence all the way around. The walls and glass are so thick that it is sound proof. No one knows what happened to this young girl and no one can find her. Can her 5 year old son who doesn't believe their is life outside their little Room save them both? Oh my goodness. This book was gripping. I couldn't imagine what life would be like in his poor mother's shoes. It was a fascinating look at the after affects of life as an abductee. Interesting idea. Interesting story.


Seraphina *****
by Rachel Hartman
Book Type: Fantasy
Summary: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs, the captain of the Queen's Guard. While they begin to uncover a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect the secret behind her musical gift--a secret so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This is the most unique dragon book I have ever read. The main character in this story has a secret... Possibly the biggest secret, something that could mean life or death. At least that's what she's been lead to believe her entire life. She's also been convinced that she is the only one of her kind. A half-dragon. Not human. Not dragon. She doesn't fit in. She doesn't belong. She is an outcast everywhere she goes. No one can truly understand her. No one can love her... Right? Because she's too different? This book deals with insecurity, a fear of what's different, a fear of BEING different. It is much more than just an exciting dragon tale. Although, there is that too. I LOVED Seraphina, she is this incredibly strong, brave, talented, determined young woman. She is so amazing that she stands out and shines even when she tries to hide. There is intrigue and danger lurking around every corner. I will admit that this story takes a couple chapters to get exciting but the first several chapters are full of vital character development for our main character. We also receive a glimpse of several of the characters that affect Seraphina's development and a half dragon. This story is absolutely phenomenal. It is written fantastically well, the character development is deep and engrossing. I absolutely LOVED all of the grotesques in her garden. I thought Lucian Kiggs was a perfect opposite of Seraphina, an inquisitive, intelligent, perceptive young prince with an embarrassing past. And the Princess is absolutely adorable. This story is full of lively, entertaining characters. And the story is just wonderful. It is fantastically intriguing. I can't say enough good things about this book. It's awesome.

Corsets and Clockwork

Corsets and Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances ****
edited by

Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.
summary found on goodreads

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CLASSIC: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ***
by Roald Dahl
Book Type: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Summary: Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last!
But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I always wondered how similar the book was to the movies. I had heard that the new movie followed the book much much better than the original movie. So I went ahead and read this book and you know what? It is soo much more like the new movie than the old. The Oompa Loompas are a little different but the characters and events are very similar. The story is fun and quirky just like the movie. 

His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Grave Mercy ***1/2
by Robin LaFevers
Book Type: Fantasy
Summary: Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book was fantastically fun. It was very different from any book I've ever read before. Girls that totally kick butt. Handmaidens to death. Interesting concept... Ismae gets an assignment work as a spy while acting as a mistress to a mysterious handsome young man. Her end goal is to help the Duchess in any way that she can. She has to deal with intrigue, danger, betrayal, love, death and much more. Ismae has to determine who is good and who is not. Her job is to find the traitor and stop them from destroying the Duchess and in turn the kingdom... Ismae has developed a hate for all men after the experiences of her youth. Will a certain young man break past her barriers? Will she discover what it really means to care about someone? Will she save the duchy? This book was very well written and developed. Check it out!

Dark Triumph ***1/2
by Robin LaFevers
Book Type: Fantasy
Summary: Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

summary found on goodreads
My Review: The story in this novel overlaps the first in the moment when Sybella warns Ismae of the trap. It follows Sybella as she lives in the house of one of the most evil men in the kingdom. She has to deal with betrayal, intrigue, and death as well, until the day she sets a prisoner free and her path is irrevocably changed. She goes on many adventures and has to fight almost every step of the way to the duchy. It is an exciting story with a fascinating main character who is so conflicted she doesn't know who she is or where she stands anymore. As her story slowly falls into place you learn to really love Sybella and her struggles. This story was just as fanastic as book one. 

Divergent Trilogy

Divergent ***1/2
by Veronica Roth
Book Type: YA, Dystopia, Romance, Fiction
Summary: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book was great. A lot of fun. I really enjoyed the story and characters. I thought all the things Tris had to go through to become a part of her new faction were exciting in interesting. I thought it was funny that her parents are supposed to be completely selfless and yet their father gets so angry when his children choose a different faction. The story was fascinating and engaging. The ending was very exciting and action packed, there's a nice little twist that you may or may not predict. It wraps up and leads into the next story well. This story was a blast. Very well done.

Insurgent ***
by Veronica Roth
Book Type: YA, Dystopia, Romance, Fiction
Summary: One choice can transform you, or destroy you. Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This story focuses more on the love and drama than the first book did. It was interesting and good in different ways than the first. I enjoyed parts of this story and really hated others. I almost stopped reading at one point because I was kind of over the whole drama but it was just interesting enough that I kept going. And then the ending! Oh my goodness. I probably wouldn't have been interested in reading the next book after I finished this one if the ending hadn't been just right. It had a big surprise at the end that in a way I suspected, but at the same time totally not. The ending was exciting an interesting.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles ***
by Julie Andrews Edwards
Book Type: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Summary: The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals -- the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, "oily" Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with "peace, love and a sense of fun"-- apart from and forgotten by people.
But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland.
With the Professor's help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart's desire.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This is a great book for kids. It is simple, but fun and magical. I felt it was too simple for an adult to get really engaged in the story. But it is all about imagination and believing in things even when no one else does. It was cute. It will be a great book to read with our children someday! :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I have started trying to make my own clothes on occasion. It's kind of fun! But it is pretty hard for me to do it and do it well. :) I'm still learning. My first two skirts I made with the help of a friend in Logan, Paulina. Then yesterday I decided to just make a dress, all by myself. It is not perfect, but I am fairly pleased with myself! I also, with Russell's help at the end, was able to make another skirt, WoOt!
**skirt #3 is still under construction... to be updated at a later date! :D**

Skirt #1

To make this skirt we took one of my favorite fitting skirts and just used it to make up our own pattern. We cut it nice and wide at the bottom and pleated the top. We also added in a layer of fabric underneath as a type of slip and added a zipper to the side. I was lucky enough to find this cute pattern fabric at Joann's. They have a bunch of similar styled patterns there. So check it out if you want to try and make your own cute skirt!

Skirt #2

For this skirt we cut rectangle strips and triangle strips. We sewed it in a pattern of every other shape. First a rectangle, then a triangle, rectangle, triangle until we used them all. We had all of the triangle tips in the same direction so that the top half of the skirt is skinnier than the bottom half. We then just sewed a strip of stretchy material into the top so I didn't have to add a zipper! :)

Dress #1

For this dress I used a nice stretchy fabric, like a t-shirt fabric. I took one of my favorite fitting stretchy t-shirts and a skirt that was nice and wide at the bottom. I tried them on to figure out the way I wanted the dress to fit and then laid them down on my fabric, which was folded in half. I then traced around the outside of the dress and skirt together, with the bottom of the skirt as spread out as it can go. Then I cut out one side of the dress, folded it in half so that it met up with the other half as closely as possible and cut it out. I cut out separate fabric for the sleeves, I think that looks better than having them sewn all the way across the top. Anyway. Then I just pinned it all together and sewed it up! BAM. Pretty, casual, purple dress.

Skirt #3

Russ and I found this awesome shiny fabric at Joann's a while ago and I was hoping to use it to make a maxi dress but I didn't have nearly enough. And afterwards I decided it wouldn't have worked well for that style of dress anyway. So I decided to make it into a skirt! Since the fabric has no stretch to it whatsoever I had to make it nice and loose so it would actually fit. So we bought a pretty stretchy fabric to use on the waist and we cut the shiny fabric into slightly slanted squares and sewed them together. We added buttons to the front to give it a little more life. And ta-da! Skirt #3! :)

Princess Academy Books

Palace of Stone ***
by Shannon Hale
Book Type: YA, Fantasy

Summary:Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding.There, Miri also has a chance to attend school-at the Queen's Castle. But as Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.
Picking up where "Princess Academy" left off, and celebrating the joys of friendship, romance and the fate of fairy tale kingdoms, this new book delivers the completely delightful new story that fans have been waiting for.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I really enjoyed "The Princess Academy" the first time I read it. The second time I didn't enjoy it as much. It was more geared toward a younger audience than I remembered, but still pretty good. So I whipped out this new book right after finishing "The Princess Academy" for the second time and I thought it was pretty good... Although not as good as the first. It had a few things that were a little too over the top for me... The whole speaking through the rocks thing was just a little too overdone. But I enjoyed watching Miri grow up a bit and not be held back by her size or father. She gets an education, struggles with an old and a new crush, and tries to figure out who she is and what she believes in. She needs to decide what's worth fighting for and what's not. It's time for little Miri to grow up and determine where she wants to live, how she wants to live, and who she wants a future with. It was a nice story. Cute and different.

Not My Type

Not My Type: A Single Girl's Guide to Doing it All Wrong ****
by Melanie Jacobson
Book Type: Realistic Fiction, Romantic Comedy
Summary: Twenty-three-year-old Pepper Spicer is not living the dream. She ended her engagement at the last minute because her fiancé -- a musician and soon-to-be reality TV star -- wanted her to sacrifice her own career ambitions for his.
Now she's stuck at home sharing a room with her little sister, trying to pay off massive debt for a wedding that didn't happen, and spending Friday nights Facebook-stalking everyone who has a better life. Her therapist father urges her to choose her career dreams and count her blessings by writing weekly thank you notes, but gratitude is a tall order when she botches an important job interview and has to settle for writing an undercover dating web-zine column -- the last thing in the world she wants to do. Still, as Pepper (byline: Indie Girl) chronicles her bizarre and hilarious blind dates, she gives her father's challenge a try and slowly finds herself leaving self-pity behind. Life takes a major upswing as Pepper's column hits the big time and she tastes the exhilarating thrill of success. But there's one tiny problem: the intensely hot man she's falling for is having issues with her job (again). Will Pepper trade her personal ambition for another chance at love?

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I thought this book was absolutely hilarious and adorable. I absolutely LOVED the authors voice and sense of humor. The book was quirky, spunky, and witty. Full of humor and charm I couldn't get enough of the story. Russ and I listened to this book on tape in the car and loved it so much that we popped it in the CD player and listened to it at home for hours until it was done. The author is LDS so this book is full of Mormon humor, but I think it would still be funny to those outside of the Mormon culture. I thought Pepper was so endearing, her story was typical of the BYU culture but at the same time utterly unique. If you are LDS and looking for a good laugh pick up this book. Now. Totally worth it. Especially if you're past the ripe age of 20 and not married yet. :) Oh, and not saying I'm all that or anything, but for some reason the main character kind of reminded us of me... Just a lil' bit. I mean... Just look at that book cover... I mean, right?

River of Time Series

Waterfall *** 
Cascade ***  
Torrent ***
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Summaries: Waterfall- What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?
Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.
Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

Cascade- Mom touched my underdress—a gown made six hundred years before—and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia’s gown. “Where did you get these clothes?”
Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.
But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.
Torrent- When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third and final book in the River of Time series.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times. 

But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Book one. Two young girl accidentally zapped back in time... WAY back in time. Good thing their parents are obsessed with ancient history so they speak the language and know a lot about the past... Still. Bit of a shocker to end up in a time so removed from time. I enjoyed the story in the first book. It was fun to follow along as Gabi tries to fit in enough not to get noticed while still finding her sister and getting home. Too bad she falls in love with super hot, buff guy who happened to save her life when she first fell into the wrong century. Yeah that kind of puts a damper on things.
The first book in this series was a lot of fun. I liked Gabi a lot and really enjoyed the novel concept. There are quite a few books that have to do with time travel but this is an entirely different time period. The author writes mostly historical fiction and knows a lot about history, so the details were probably pretty accurate. I liked how tough the sisters were but hated how Gabi was always putting herself in danger. I don't know why she is so obsessed with being in the thick of things. I would love a book where the main character is smart and jumps out of the way when it is obvious that self-sacrifice and fighting aren't going to cut it. 
Books 2 and 3 had more drama and dragged out the love story quite a bit. I thought the story lost a lot of the charm from the first book. They were still fun, but not AS fun. Maybe I just have a thing against happy endings... Hard to say. I thought this story just came together and wrapped up a little to happy and wonderful. But hey. Some people love the predictable happy ending... I'm just not one of them. However, this book had a very different feel from most YA novels, which made it quite fun.

CLASSIC: Frankenstein

Frankenstein **1/2
by Mary Shelley
Book Type: Science Fiction, Horror
Summary: At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Well then. After reading the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein books I needed to read the classic, obviously! It was the next step. It just was. So I did! And I was pretty disappointed. I didn't think it was creepy. Basically Frankenstein is a complete and total psycho. But it's understandable since every person he loves is brutally murdered by his evil creation. The Frankenstein monster was a disappointment for me because he spoke so eloquently. He was intelligent and well-spoken. I mean... What? All he wanted was to love and be loved. Yet he is hated and reviled at every turn. Well I think I would be pretty angry as well in his shoes. The story was slow and boring for the most part. Never actually telling you how Frankenstein made his monster in the first place. So where did the whole lightening thing come about? Maybe it mentioned it but I was so bored I missed it... But I'm pretty sure they never explained why or how exactly the monster is brought about. I gathered that he is a big, ugly, terrifying brute made up of the best of the best pieces. So yeah. I'm beginning to feel like most classics are classics simply because there weren't any other options back then... Just saying.

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

This Dark Endeavor ***
by Kennth Oppel
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Horror
Summary: In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.
Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science, and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I decided to read "Frankenstein" after finishing this series because I was curious about the similarities and differences between the characters and story. In this book Victor has a twin brother. The perfect, strong, intelligent, talented brother... who is also dying. Victor can't imagine life without his twin so he goes on a treacherous journey to find a way to save his brother from certain death. They discover a book on alchemy and a once brilliant alchemist to help them translate and understand what needs to be done. They go on one journey after the next to procure the ingredients for the Elixir of Life they intend to make. Victor is desperate and determined in this book, much like he is in the original tale of "Frankenstein". The story is dark and mysterious, the adventures undertaken are exciting and dramatic, the alchemy used to procure the ingredients are fascinating, and the characters are well developed and intriguing. Overall I thought it was a very fun story.

Such Wicked Intent ***
by Kennth Oppel
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Horror
Summary: When his grieving father orders the destruction of the Dark Library, Victor retrieves a book in which he finds the promise of not just communicating with the dead, but entering their realm, and soon he, Elizabeth, and Henry are in the spirit world of Château Frankenstein, creating and growing a body.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Konrad is dead. After everything they went through in "This Dark Endeavor" he still died. He has moved on to the afterlife and Victor can't let him go. He is desperate to bring his brother back. They find an elixir that allows them to walk in the afterlife for a time, giving them the opportunity to interact with Konrad and unwittingly aid an evil entity return to power. This story deals with temptation for power and knowledge, the desire to play God, addiction, passion, and coming to grips with loss. The characters must pay the price for the ambition and jealousy that drives them. Will they learn from their foolishness before it's too late? It is very stressful to follow along with Victor and his friends as they struggle with these different emotions and desires. There were many times I shouted out "NO" because I just wanted them to stop. Stop being so crazy! Stop letting this dark dreary world take over your mind and SOUL. AH. Ahem... This book is slightly creepy. It's distressing to follow these characters, possessed by their desires and completely unable to see the reality of their circumstances. They don't realize how they are harming themselves and those around them. The characterization of Victor in this book is the perfect lead in to the deranged madman we follow along in "Frankenstein".

When the Wind Blows

When the Wind Blows *** 
The Lake House **1/2
by James Patterson
Book Type: Science Fiction, Mystery
Summary: When the Wind Blows- Frannie O'Neill is a caring young veterinarian living in the Colorado Rockies, trying to erase the memory of her beloved husband's mysterious murder. It is not long before another neighbor suddenly dies, and FBI agent Kit Harrison arrives at Frannie's doorstep. Kit is hell-bent on solving the heinous case despite resounding protests from the FBI and the thrashing of his own internal demons.
Kit secretly pursues the investigation, yet witnesses keep turning up dead. Then Frannie stumbles upon an astonishing discovery in the nearby woods, and their lives are altered in ways they could never have imagined. Simply knowing the secret of Max — the terrified 11-year-old girl with an amazing gift — could mean death.
As more and more diabolical details are unearthed, the murderer's bloody trail ultimately leads the trio to an underground lab network, known as "the School." Here scientists conduct shockingly incomprehensible experiments involving children and genetic alteration.
The Lake House- The memorable story begun in When the Wind Blows continues in this thrilling novel, and it's one that really soars! Frannie O'Neil, a Colorado veterinarian, knows a terrible secret that will change the history of the world. Kit Harrison, an FBI agent under suspension has seen things that no one in his right mind would believe. A twelve-year-old girl named Max and five other incredible children have powers we can only dream of. These children can fly. And the only place they will be save is the Lake House. Or so they believe...
summaries found on goodreads
My Review: I liked that the chapters were really short. It made it a really fast read even though it seemed a bit big when picking it up. It was nothing like what I expected. Human experimentation? Flying children? Yeah, totally not what I expected from a simple mystery novel. So it was surprising, which was fun. Didn't appreciate the sex scenes and language though... But overall it was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't like how the author kept jumping around from one point of view to the next. When I started "When the Wind Blows" it was very confusing. Basically, I didn't love the authors writing style. I thought the material was interesting enough, although not a topic that generally peeks my interest. In the end the mystery and suspense were good enough to keep me going, but that was about it. Not my favorite or least favorite book. It was very so-so for me.

Delirium Trilogy

Delirium ***
by Lauren Oliver
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Summary: They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.
And I've always believed them.
Until now.
Now everything has changed.
Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.
Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is a classic teen romance/dystopia. Main character is brought up to believe certain things. Love is BAD. Love is EVIL. Love makes you CRAZY. So this society has the part of their brain that allows them to FEEL chopped out. Just sliced right out of their heads. Honestly the goal is to avoid love but that is kind of impossible. To cut out just ONE emotion. So the people in this world have very limited emotion in general. They are empty. A dog is beat to death and no one feels a thing. The main character believes this is good. That it's right. Little does she know her life is about to be turned upside down. She meets a boy. A VERY handsome boy. Who is different. He's been cured... But he acts differently than anyone else she knows... He just seems to FEEL more than the others... Does she fall for him? Yes she does. Does he fall for her? He can't. He's cured... Right? Right... Anyway, the book was fun. Just another teen flick, but it had things about it that I really enjoyed. I really didn't like the way the main character whipped out the "F" word once or twice per book for no reason. There is very little swearing in the book... Why throw that on in there? I liked the main character. She is a stickler for the rules but she also cares very much for her best friend... And she doesn't want to be thought of as a coward. So she does things she would never do, drop in on an unacceptable/illegal party. Which leads to a lot more things that shouldn't happen... Young love? Oh yeah. In a world where love is ILLEGAL? Even better. Bring on the cheesy romance!

Pandemonium ***
by Lauren Oliver
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Summary: I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: Did the sweet, cute, incredibly handsome main character die at the end of the first book? Oh yes, he did. Absolutely. At least that's what we assume after he is shot and burned up and captured. Our cute little main character dragged herself through the forest where the unacceptables live until she can't drag herself any more. She is rescued by the people who... "don't exist". This book jumps around between Lena's new life as a normal young girl just after her procedure has been performed - ha, right. And the life she lived after being rescued.
And then while she is doing her job, observing a young man who is the face of the cause - the love remedy, he is kidnapped and her, following along behind, is also kidnapped. We get to follow along as once again a true believer in the cause is converted to love. This book was just as fun as the first honestly. The story was very different from book one. The next leg of the journey. I loved the love interest in book one and I really loved the love interest in this book as well. It reminds me of Peeta and Gale from "The Hunger Games". But hey. I look forward to reading book three and seeing how the story ends. Should be fun! :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My husband is now a masseuse

So when we were in California on vacation Russell started massaging my foot and I was like "man, what I wouldn't do to have this every day..." And my husband, the sweetest man in the world looked at me and decided then and there that he wanted to give me a massage everyday from then on. Okay, my husband is amazing, I know. So for about a week after our trip he DID give me a massage everyday. But it was making his back hurt pretty badly! So he decided that he needed to make a massage table so he could give me a real massage everyday. Don't get too jealous now, he doesn't still give me a massage EVERY day. But he does give them to me often. So here is the massage table he just up and made. I helped him with parts of it, but it was mostly him. He was pretty proud of himself in the end! :) All we have left to do is add a handle to it so we can carry it like a suitcase when we want to move it!

So to make this table Russell basically just made a table that was plenty long to lay on. He used wooden slabs and hinges. Then we used this super intense spray glue to attach a layer of carpet padding and a layer of medium thickness memory foam bed padding. Then we wrapped a thick vinyl fabric around the top and used a staple gun to attach it to the bottom of the table. We also made a few pockets out of the vinyl and attached it to the bottom and legs of the table. Places to keep our massage book and massage oil. And we have a massage table! Yay! It works fantastically well and is quite comfortable. So definitely look up a basic pattern for the table but the padding is fairly simple and straight forward if you ever wish to make one of these beauties for yourself! :)
If you ever try one of our recipes we would love to hear your feedback! Let us know if you like them or if you make any changes! We love comments! :)


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