Jun 26, 2010

The Best Thing About Summer?

I can do whatever I want. And what I want involves reading books. Here are reviews of some of the books I have read so far.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire
You probably know by now, but it is very, very different from the musical. And to tell you the truth, I liked the storyline of the musical a lot better. For 500 pages, there were only a few parts here and there that I actually liked and that is what kept me reading.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
This was an interesting novel. A girl dies and has to live the last day of her life over and over again. There was a little bit of sex, and some questionable choices that she made on some of the days, but I loved the end. I loved the choice that she made and why she made it. Worth a look.

The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie
This book was originally written in German which I think explains why I had a hard time getting into the flow of it. I also had a hard time suspending my disbelief, but for younger readers (middle school students) I think that it is a good story and interestingly executed. Not for everyone, but if you know anyone between 11 and 15, have them read it.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
This is another one for the younger readers, but I enjoyed it and think other older readers will too. It is a fast read and the narrator has a great voice.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
With a title like this, you know it's going to be good! Definitely the best book I have read all summer. It is told in letters, cables, and telegraphs immediately following the end of the second world war. I have never felt so connected to characters as I did to the ones in this book. I was involved in their lives and laughed when they laughed and cried when they had reason to cry. I was bawling at one point, with my bottom lip quivering uncontrollably--I know that not everyone will have that reaction because not everyone is as much of a crybaby as I am, but you will probably tear up. Read this book! This is an amazing book and beautifully written. Also, one of the few adult books I'll read this summer.

Jun 22, 2010

California Day 5

Today was our last day in Pacific Grove/Monterey.

We decided to just kind of take today slow. We'd been doing so much the past week that we wanted today to be a bit of a lazy day. We started off by taking a bike ride to Lover's Point. We climbed up on the rocks and just sat and listened to the waves crash against the rocks and the seagulls cry to each other. When we had enough of that, we got back on our bikes and rode around Pacific Grove. We ended up at the Natural History museum where we decided to stop and go in. They had animals, birds, and insects that are native to this area of California. (Fact: All the rodents on display were "killed by automobile accidents in Monterey County." Yes, we were looking at roadkill--but you'd never know.)

My aunt had told me about their little movie theatre, so we found it and discovered that it was discount tuesday! We decided to see Toy Story 3 after lunch. The movie was hilarious! I was glad that they had kept true to what made the original so great, and added on to it. I was surprised to learn that Toy Story was made in 1995! I remember seeing it--I'm pretty sure in the theatres--and did not like learning that it was 15 years ago! Where did those fifteen years go? But all the characters were there, with some twists, and we saw some new characters.

After the movie we went back to the house and read for a little bit before the sis came to get us for the Farmer's Market in Monterey. Can I just say, there is a reason California is so great and it is the wonderfulness of the strawberries here. I don't think I have ever had a better tasting strawberry than I had today--my mouth aches for it as I think about it. We got to taste a lot of delicious things: nectarines, pesto, cheese; and the smells were amazing. It got our appetite worked up for dinner.

Maddie and I had decided on the first day here that we wanted to get dressed up and go out for a nice dinner on Tuesday. Well, today was Tuesday, so after the market, we came back and got in some new wrap dresses we had bought at Fisherman's Wharf and did our hair and make-up. We walked down to Cannery Row (a pleasant walk, but a little cold today) and decided that Louie Linguini's was the restaurant we would grace with our presences. I ordered Fettuccine al Pesto, and she had Chicken Parmesan. Ohhh, so good! Even after we were full we just wanted to keep eating! We got to-go boxes and decided to walk along Cannery Row one last time. We went into Ghiradelli's where they gave us chocolate just for going in! Everything was too expensive, so we decided to go get a cookie from the Nestle cafe instead. Mmmmmm, chocolatey goodness.

I'll miss Pacific Grove and it's small town feel, but I'll be glad to get back some place warm too. And to be home.

Jun 21, 2010

California Day 4

Today was the day we spent with the sis.

Since sis has a car, we decided to leave Pacific Grove and Monterey and head out to Carmel. The first place we went is just a little past Carmel called Point Lobos State Park and Reserve. We went to the whaling cabin and museum and learned a little bit about the whaling that went on in the early part of the 20th century. Then we went to China Cove, and climbed on rocks, searched for sea shells, and pretended to be Ariel on a big rock . . . um, I mean, acted really mature and cool. Ahem.

After Point Lobos we headed over to the Carmel Mission. This was the second of like 15 or something Catholic missions along the California coast. It was first built by Junipero Serra in 1770, though he never saw it completed. By the early nineteenth century the mission had fallen into disrepair and squatters occupied the land. Sir Harry Someone-or-other (sorry I'm so bad with last names!) had taken it upon himself to reconstruct the missions, and he did so with the Carmel Mission. It was interesting for me to see the differences between a Catholic mission in the western US to an Anglican church in the UK. Um . . . yeah, I feel like I was headed somewhere with that, but I got nuttin'. It was also funny because we walked into the Basilica and there was holy water! And we saw a confessional! Yeah, never seen one of those before. I also learned what the beads on a rosary are for! I've always wondered.

There is a museum at the mission that details what life was like when the mission was in operation in the 19th century. They had a confessional there that they had built out of shipping crates. When they had things sent to them from the East, they asked for the best shipping crates because they needed the wood to make furniture. There wasn't any wood good enough. Padre Serra slept in a room that had a small desk and a bed that was just a wooden cot, without a mattress or padding. And there he died. I guess that sacrifice is important in being closer to God; I just don't think that he asks us to be uncomfortable our whole lives. While we were there the bells rung noon. The bells are rung by hand every hour.

After the mission we headed into Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's a nice little place with a small town feel. (Fact: high heels are not allowed in the city of Carmel.) No chain stores or restaurants are allowed. We got lunch at Nielson's Market and Deli, then we explored some of the shops. There were clothes shops, toy shops, consignment stores, a Jane Austen shop, garden and decor stores, and a candy shop. Plus tons that we didn't go into because it was chilly and we were getting tired.

Tonight Maddie and I cooked a frozen pizza and watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. We always tire ourselves out everyday, so we didn't feel guilty taking a little break. Afterward we rode the bikes down to a little ice cream shoppe where we split a little bowl or strawberry ice cream.

Tomorrow is our last full day in California. And we're going to just take it like it is.

Jun 20, 2010

California Day 3

Since today is Sunday, the day of rest, we did just that--relaxed a bit.

The day started out with a phone call to my daddy, to wish him a happy father's day. Then after we got ready for the day and had breakfast, we walked over to the Arts and Crafts Festival taking place just a few streets over, by the library. They were still setting up when we got there, but there were handmade scarves, paintings, photographs, jewelry, and popcorn. The scarf lady was very . . . enthusiastic.

Then we went back to the house, read a little bit, ate lunch, said goodbye to the cousin and his compadres as they set off for home, and then sis and bro-in-law came to get us for church. The men got a huge thing filled with cookies for Father's Day! Needless to say, we were eyeing them. (Fact: this is the hundredth father's day ever celebrated. It was first celebrated by a small congregation in Washington state June 19, 1910.) After church we went over to sis's house because she was going to make us dinner. We had tandoori chicken, rice, and fruit with cheesecake for dessert. Yum!

Not too bad of a day. Tomorrow it's off to spend the day with sis in Carmel!

California Day 2

On our second day in California, we did so much that we tired ourselves out!

First thing we did was go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium right as it opened, which was at 9. We walked down there (it is about a twenty minute walk from where we are staying) and saw some sea otters out in the bay! We spent about four hours at the aquarium, seeing everything. We saw the sea otters get fed and the creatures in the outerbay tank get fed. There were three hammerhead sharks, a galapagos shark, and some baracuda along with tuna (fact: tuna can get up to 1500 lbs in weight. I did not know that), sardines, rays, and other fishes. We ate there, splitting yet another $9 sandwich.

We walked back to the house, rested up for just a bit, then invited my sister and bro-in-law to go to the Point Pinos lighthouse with us. This is the oldest working lighthouse on the west coast. In the late 1800s, a woman was the sole light keeper of the lighthouse. It was smaller than I though it would be.

After the lighthouse my bro-in-law took us into historic downtown Monterey. We saw the oldest theatre in California, and another house that John Steinbeck lived in. He lived in this one with his second wife while he wrote The Pearl (the only Steinbeck I have ever read). It is now part of the campus of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which is where my bro-in-law goes to school. We walked down to fisherman's wharf, where we saw some sea lions. We also tasted the best clam chowder on the west coast from several different restaurants.

We eventually went back to the house, ate dinner, relaxed for a bit, then went on a bike ride down to Cannery Row for some ice cream. The ride there was wonderful! but the ride back was all up hill with a head wind. And since neither of us have ridden a bike in who knows how long, we were pretty exhausted when we got back to the house. But it was only 8:30, so we found ways to keep ourselves awake until we could go to bed without feeling like bums. (We went to bed at 10).

Another day is ahead of us!

Jun 18, 2010

California Day 1

Today I got on an airplane with one of my best friends. We had decided to go to California, Monterey area back in February, and so two weeks before her wedding, we were off.

Our plane in Salt Lake was delayed because of an equipment shortage, but we didn't stress even though we just wanted to get started on our trip! This was going to be the first time I have been out of state in two years, and Maddie had never been to California before. We finally made it to Los Angeles, a little airsick, but not too shabby.

According to our bodies we had missed lunch about two hours ago, but we needed to find out where to get our connecting flight before we found food. And finding something to eat was tough. All we both wanted was a sandwich. Well, apparently in LA it is impossible to get a sandwich for less than $9. We went everywhere in the airport. We even got to ride one of those little airport taxi cars (!), which was so exciting that we just kept laughing. We eventually decided to split a sandwich so it was only $5 instead of $10.

Then it was time to go to our gate. Because we were flying directly into Monterey, we had to take a shuttle to our gate where we would get onto a small plane. We were so excited because we were going to be able to walk out to the plane, like in the movies, but we were once again disappointed by the reality that the movies shows us because the walk way was covered and there were no stairs! I swallowed my disappoint and boarded though.

This flight was delayed because of some paperwork that they didn't get sorted out. But then we were off. I looked out the window and watched the ocean dotted with clouds. From up there, 26,000 feet above the earth, I was so struck with the beauty of it that it brought tears to my eyes. God made this earth for us, what a wonderful gift! As we came into Monterey the whole earth was swathed in white--cotton clouds just hanging over the earth. The plane dipped into the clouds and I was surrounded by them. Then came such a beautiful sight that I gasped/laughed at it. Rolling hills, covered with dark green trees.

The airport at Monterey proved that movies do show reality! We got to walk down stairs from the plane and out in the open! When the attendant announced that, I exclaimed "yes!" out loud and Maddie laughed at me.

We arrived at my aunt and uncle's house, had a marvelous soup with good bread and ice cream for dessert. After dinner we decided to take a walk. The house we are staying in is just two houses away from where John Steinbeck lived and wrote. Then we walked along the shore up to Cannery Row. We visited the gift shop at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and I was able to add to my pin collection.

Tomorrow we might just have another fun adventure.

Jun 13, 2010

The Life and Times of a Single Adult: Unfair

You know what is totally unfair? That people who are getting married get all these gifts to help them set up their home and whatever.

Okay, so I understand that getting married deserves presents and they should be helped out a bit by getting plates, sheets, and small appliances. But, it is immensely unfair to all of us single people!

I'm going to be graduating and going out into the real world; hopefully getting my own place sometime in the near future. I will be setting up my home, but do I get any help? Noooo. And you know why? Because I'm not getting married. I have to buy my plates, sheets, and small appliances myself. Why should I miss out on having nice things just because I'm single?

I'm just saying, it's unfair.

Jun 12, 2010

Review: BtVS

So, today I got a DVD in the mail from Netflix (oh, Netflix, you are the joy and the bane of my existence!). It was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). Here's a little back story on the movie:

Joss Whedon wrote the script, but he hated what they did with it, so he walked off the set and never came back. See, Whedon wanted the movie to be a bit more serious than the producers were envisioning it. His disappointment led him to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) which remained on TV for seven years.

Here's my review for the movie: it was absolutely ridiculous. The vampires looked stupid; the fight scenes were laughable; the story moved too quickly; and the acting was pretty bad. I saw a review that said it was the 80s movie of the 90s and it basically was. Maybe if I wasn't almost all the way through Buffy the series, I would have liked it better, but I doubt it. It seemed like a pretty low budget movie--especially considering the television series had better effects in it. I mean, the vampires didn't even dust! How boring!

Another complaint I had against it was the length and timing. In a 40 minute episode, Buffy not only saves the world, but is able to make a speech about something or other, go to school, slay a vamp or two (while making clever little quips), and go on a date with whatever guy (undead or no) she might be dating at the time. It took 86 minutes for the movie to do that, but the timing was so off! It took too long for her to learn she was the slayer, and then all the fights were way too short, and the climax came and went almost without me realizing it. So in some ways it was too long and in others it was too short.

I can see how Joss would be disappointed. Everything else I have ever seen done by him has been witty, but serious, with great character development and clever use of cinematography. And I'm glad that he took it upon himself to right that wrong by creating the series because I have been enjoying it immensely.

So, I wouldn't recommend Buffy (1992) to anyone. If you want some serious and fun vampire butt kicking, watch the series instead.

Jun 6, 2010


Here are some pictures of the dress that Michael Ann made for me. Sorry the pictures aren't too good, I had to take them myself using my laptop.

Jun 3, 2010

Just a Little Update

As of today, here is an update on my life:

I bought a new swimsuit! Hopefully I will no longer have to fear my swim suit falling off of me while swimming (considering that goes against the whole point of having a suit on).

I received a package, and it was the dress my friend Michael Ann made for me! Excited to wear it to church on Sunday, and take it to California on my vacation!

My roomie had never seen Dirty Dancing before, so I got it from Netflix and we watched it. Yay for dancing movies!

I started a novel for my final project in my writing for children and adolescents class, and today I wrote the 100th page! It's not even halfway done, but for some reason reaching 100 feels like an awesome accomplishment. Now I just have to wait until I reach 200 and I'll know I'm going somewhere!

This week had my parent's wedding anniversary--28 years--and my grandparents 60th anniversary!

Yeah, that's basically it, but it's the little things that make life great!

Quality TV

Okay, so I realize that Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't, in general, the best television show ever made. But if you never watch it all the way through, there are three episodes that you should definitely watch:

Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)- an amazing non-use of dialogue
The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)- powerful and real, my roomie and I were in tears
Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 6)- fun use of musical elements

I think you'll enjoy them.