Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thrift Store Tuesday

I'm all the time visiting my local thrift store looking for books to add to my library. It's not that I don't have a decent budget, but sometimes it is hard to find books in hardback. Also, I don't mind forking out 50 cents here and there if I can find something at the thrift store that will save me from having to spend $25 of my library budget. I decided to share my thrift store finds! 

Super excited about this find! We have a paperback copy of this book and it is in terrible condition, but it is constantly being checked out. I decided to order another copy (it was only available in paperback) to replace our pitiful one. I also decided to order The Maker's Diet Revolution that is coming out December 17th. Can you imagine my surprise when I found a like new hardback copy at the thrift store? The price? It was original $1.59, but I got it for $1.11! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

I have been trying to experiment more with my cooking by trying new recipes with different ingredients. Broccoli is a staple in my house. My BF is a picky eater (though he denies it) and broccoli is one of the 4 vegetables he will eat. Usually I just serve it steamed with a little butter and some pepper (or Mrs. Dash). Simple enough.

A few weeks ago I was doing my some grocery shopping in Publix when I tried one of their Aprons Simple Meals (you know the ones they cook in the store and put all the ingredients right there for you to buy). The sample was of fish and scallop saute with roasted parmesan broccoli.

Fish and Scallop Saute With Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

The fish was decent, but I knew that BF wouldn't eat the fish so I didn't even entertain the idea of cooking it. But I liked the broccoli so I grabbed the recipe card threw it into the black hole that is my purse. Fast forward about 2 months later when I am forced to clean out my purse. I almost threw the recipe card away when I remembered the broccoli. I decide to save it from the trash and actually try it.

Here is the recipe: 
Aluminum foil
1 bunch fresh broccoli (3-4 stalks), halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Asiago peppercorn dressing
3/4 cup refrigerated Italian cheese bread crumb mix


  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with foil.
  • Cut 2-inches off bottom of each stalk; cut stalks in half lengthwise.
  1. Place broccoli on baking sheet; drizzle with oil. Bake 10 minutes.
  2. Turn broccoli; bake 13-15 more minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Spread dressing over broccoli; sprinkle with bread crumb mix. Bake 1-2 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve.

CALORIES (per 1/4 recipe) 160kcal; FAT 10g; CHOL 10mg; SODIUM 290mg; CARB 13g; FIBER 4g; PROTEIN 6g; VIT A 40%; VIT C 130%; CALC 15%; IRON 6%
When I cook, I prefer people tell me the name brands...mainly so I know I am buying the right thing. With the Asiago peppercorn dressing, I found Marie's version in the produce section and let me tell you how amazing this dressing is. It is beyond delicious and I can't wait to find more recipes to incorporate it into. 

Now when it came to finding the refrigerated Italian Cheese Bread Crumb mix, I figured I found need some assistance from an employee. I had no idea what this was. I rarely branch out from staple ingredients with cooking, so I didn't have a clue what I was looking for. I went to the cheese section and if it was a snake it would have bit me. I had never heard of the Kraft Fresh Takes, which is a special blend of cheese and bread crumbs that can spice up your cooking.

Now on to the actual cooking part. I'm not a big fan of the stalks on broccoli so I didn't leave as much as Publix recommended. Also, watch your time on the broccoli. I found that the recommended time at the 425 temperature wasn't right for me. The broccoli easily started to burn. Next time I will lower the temperature and cook it longer. 
Still looks delicious right? Well because it is! The asiago peppercorn dressing really brought everything together. And let me tell you, this broccoli is better the 2nd day! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Silly Interview with Lauren Willig

     So I have been keeping a secret! I hatched a crazy idea to start doing silly interviews with my favorite authors. In today's social media age we have access to them through Twitter, Facebook, etc. All I had to do was ask. I love author interviews but I always want to know how they will respond to zany questions. That is because I am a silly goose (according to BF).  I don't know how regularly I will post the interviews, but I am very excited because Lauren Willig will be the first author!
   Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of the aaaahhhmazing Pink Carnation series, which are Napoleanic-set romantic mysteries. If you haven't read these books, you are definitely missing out! Like I mentioned before, all I had to do was ask. I wrote to her through the e-mail address provided on her website. I thanked her for writing the Pink Carnation books because I am constantly recommending them to my patrons. Spies? Romance? Suspense? Historical? Hunky Englishmen? Yeah, this book has it all!  I absolutely love when I recommend a book to a patron and they come back wanting me to put the next 3 in the series on hold for me, which always happens when I book talk The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. In my e-mail, I asked if she would be up for a few zany interview questions. Imagine my absolute delight when she responded back only a few hours later! I let out a fangirl scream that sent BF running into the room. Total fangirl moment. I'm not ashamed. Ok, let me tell you a little more about the series. 

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1)     The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation #1) by Lauren Willig was recommend to me by a friend and fellow librarian. She tore through the series and I found myself enthralled in them as well. Here is a little snippet about the first book in the series: 
    Deciding that true romantic heroes are a thing of the past, Eloise Kelly, an intelligent American who always manages to wear her Jimmy Choo suede boots on the day it rains, leaves Harvard's Widener Library bound for England to finish her dissertation on the dashing pair of spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. What she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: a secret history that begins with a letter dated 1803. Eloise has found the secret history of the Pink Carnation the most elusive spy of all time, the spy who single-handedly saved England from Napoleon's invasion.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, a wildly imaginative and highly adventurous debut, opens with the story of a modern-day heroine but soon becomes a book within a book. Eloise Kelly settles in to read the secret history hoping to unmask the Pink Carnation's identity, but before she can make this discovery, she uncovers a passionate romance within the pages of the secret history that almost threw off the course of world events. How did the Pink Carnation save England? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly find a hero of her own?
The story alternates between the past and the present and both storylines are intriguing and well written. I know you will love this book as much as I did!

When it came to the interview questions, I wanted to make her laugh out loud. I'm sure after 10 books she has been asked all the traditional questions. I tried to think of some off the wall questions that would delight her and you as well! So without further ado, here is my author interview with Lauren Willig.

Silly Author Interview Questions for Lauren Willig
(Because these are way more fun than regular questions)
(Note from LW: Yes, yes, they are!)

      1. If you had to perform at a karaoke bar, what song would you sing?

These occasions generally involve a great deal of alcohol, so it’s hard to remember precisely what gets sung, but I do have vague memories of belting out “Proud Mary” at the karaoke machine during New Associates Weekend for my law firm.  It’s kind of amazing that they didn’t rescind my job offer then and there.

But, really, I don’t need karaoke to sing.  I do it all the time—bits of Gilbert & Sullivan, show tunes, 80s music, the Judy Collins songs my mother used to play me in my youth—and when I forget the words, I have a tendency to make up replacement lyrics.  Sometimes those lyrics make sense, and sometimes they don’t.  (Except to me.)

2. Left Handed or Right Handed?


3.  Have you ever watched Duck Dynasty?

Is that related to Duck Tales?  (Now I have the theme song from Duck Tales stuck in my head….)

4.  Your best Halloween costume?

My Halloween costumes tend to be a bit esoteric.  I went as Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey my first year of grad school and spent a great deal of time fielding “Northanger what?” and “Catherine who?”  Sadly, the following year’s appearance as Fanny Burney’s Evelina wasn’t any more successful.  (“Evelina who?”)

5.  Urban Dictionary defines as fangirl as ‘A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor”. Who would cause you to act like a fangirl?

I would have said Georgette Heyer, but I had the great good fortune, when I was living in London, to take tea with the wife of Georgette Heyer’s former publisher (I know, I know, it sounds like a French exercise: “have you seen the pen of the publisher of my author?”).  Once I had been fortified with strong tea, she confided that Heyer had actually been rather dull at dinner parties, wanting only to talk about (a) bridge and (b) her husband’s work.  This made me rather sad.  (Which necessitated the consumption of several chocolate biscuits and more strong tea, which made me no less sad, but a great deal more jittery.)

My other big author crush?  Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels.  Everything I know about comic timing, I learned from reading her.

6. Which book have you read over and over again?

There are so many!  Do I have to pick just one?  Gone With the Wind is a strong contender, but I’ll go with L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle.  It never gets old.

       7. What was the last movie you went to see?

I have to confess, I don’t get out much, movie-wise.  I tend to see things a few years late, once they’ve come to tv (or now, Netflix).  But I did actually make it to the theatre for the latest Star Trek movie. I love the tongue in cheek silliness of these re-imaginings of the Star Trek universe.  And how could I miss out on Benedict Cumberbatch as space age villain?

8.  Favorite alcoholic beverage?

I’ll knock back anything that comes in a champagne flute or a martini glass, preferably tinted an odd color from various concoctions (kir royale, I’m looking at you)—but my fallback is a Gin & Tonic.

9. If I were to give you a pint of ice cream, what brand and flavor would it be?

Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.  So much goodness in such a small container!

10.  What book do you remember the most from the library when you were a child?

Anne-Marie Selinko’s Desiree, the “diary” of Napoleon’s first love, whom he jilted for Josephine.  I was ten years old, in the midst of a Napoleon and Josephine obsession, following the airing of one of those Napoleon and Josephine mini-series on television.  I nagged the school librarian for anything to do with them—and, like a magician, she produced Desiree, with its dark blue binding and yellowed pages, told in diary format, history from the point of view of a girl of sixteen.  I fell in love with that book and borrowed it again and again.

After that, I’d have to say Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting.  Our school library had a flimsy paperback copy with seventies artwork on the cover: a woman in very high boots and a very short skirt on a dark path with the sinister chateau looming behind her.  I have my own copy now, a much sturdier copy, but I still miss that old library copy (which probably spent more time in my house than it did in the library).

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog!  Now I’m craving some ice cream and a re-read of Nine Coaches Waiting….

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Discard Friday

From 2004 - This reinforces my belief that there is a For Dummies book for everything.

Why am I deleting this book? It is almost 10 years old and the information is very outdated. 

Number of checkouts? 12
Last checkout? February 2012 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Read All the Books: Week 4 & 5 Recap

So let’s recap:

Last time I blogged about the TBR challenge (2 weeks ago, Week 3) I started out with 92 books on my TBR bookcase (because a shelf just isn’t enough). Week 3 wasn’t that great because even though I read 3 books, I purchased 3 books from the thrift store.

Last count: 92

I’m a reading banshee but I usually (and unintentionally) take one week off a month from reading. Life gets in the way. Week 4 was my week off. I didn’t make too much progress for Week 5, but every little bit helps.

What I read:
Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #4)
In Bed with the Highlander by Maya Banks (from the TBR bookcase)
Unfortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Colters’ Lady by Maya Banks
Colters’ Daughter by Maya Banks
Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas (from the TBR bookcase)
Why Men Marry Bitches by Sherry Argov (TBR Bookcase – Currently Reading)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (TBR Bookcase – Currently Reading)
Proxy by Alex London – Currently Reading

A few months ago I posted about my chaotic reading. I am constantly reading 4 or 5 books at once. Which is why there are 3 books listed as currently reading. I am also really bad about putting a book down and forgetting to pick it back up again (i.e. Proxy).

If you noticed, I am on a Maya Banks kick. I’m really loving the Colters’ series (fyi these are ménage trios romances) and I am a big fan of her historical romances. Her romances fall into several different genres and she is able to easily go from one genre to another without becoming stale or repetitive.

Current TBR count: 89

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Discard Friday

Sorry Fergie, but you and your secret life have to go.

Book Giveaway Time!

It has been a long long long time since I did a book giveaway. I'm going to fix that right now!
I'm a giving away two Karen Marie Moning paperbacks. Both are the first in two awesome series ( Highlander series and the Fever series)

If you haven't read these books or anything else by Karen Marie Moning...where have you been? The Fever series took over my life for an entire month in 2012! You definitely want to win these books!

Open to U.S. residents only.
Good luck and thank you for reading this blog! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Wishes by Jude Deveraux

     Wishes was recommended to me over the summer by a new friend, who reads nothing but romances. She works in processing at BN and trust me, she knows her romances. I had a hard time tracking down a copy, but I was lucky enough to find a tattered edition at a yard sale for only 25 cents. Don't worry about reading the rest of the Montgomery series before Wishes (it is #12), each title can stand alone. 
     Wishes starts off with Berni, who is a vain and fashionable woman and also recently deceased. Berni is from the modern day era and instead of going to Heaven, she is sent to the Kitchen. The Kitchen is reserved for women who don’t deserve Heaven or Hell. Here, Berni is meant to play fairy godmother to Nellie.
     Nellie is from the late 1890s in Colorado. She is sweet, devoted to her father and sister, and also fat. Now enter in the handsome Jace, who instantly falls madly in love with Nellie. This astounds everyone, including Nellie. Jace’s mother is a famous opera singer, so he has always been around voluptuous women. The story surrounds the fact that Nellie’s family treats her no better than a slave and goes to extraordinary lengths to keep Nellie and Jace apart. Berni is suppose to help the couple, but she is a terrible godmother. 
    This is a beautiful love story that will tug at your heart the whole way through. You can't help but root for Nellie and Jace. It was so nice to see a male character that wasn't fooled by vanity and what society considers beautiful. Also, Deveraux did a great job of creating the character of Terel, who is absolutely despicable. 
     If you have the time and can find a copy, you won't be disappointed by Wishes. This book was so good that it has earned a coveted spot in my personal collection. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Read All The Books: Week 3

As of the last count…

Number of books TBR (that I own): 89

I really need to stay out of the thrift store…but it is less than a mile from my house and I have an addiction to teapots, so I need to go there! And while I’m there I usually look at the books. I’m sorry, but I can find brand new, great quality books for as low as .39 cents. How could I pass them up? How could YOU pass them up?

Anyways, while I was browsing for books I found 3 books that I wanted to purchase. I found 2 reprinted Diana Palmer books, Diamond Girl and Rogue Stallion. I’m a huge Diana Palmer addict, though her work is always hit or miss with me. The 3rd book I found was Smile by Raina Telgemeier, a middle grade graphic novel. I have seen this floating around and I really enjoyed Drama, so I thought for less than a dollar it would be a good buy.

That brings the total back to 92. This isn’t good.

I did a crazy amount of reading this week though. Over the weekend I finished up 6 books just by Sunday morning. Here is what I read this week:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Wishes by Jude Deveraux
The Billionaire’s Captive Bride by Emma Darcy
Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5) by Patricia Briggs
Be with Me by Maya Banks
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
Days of Our Lives Better Living by Greg Meng
Stranger in my Arms by Lisa Kleypas
A Lady of the West by Linda Howard (currently reading)

I’m very happy with what I read this week because I read a lot of great books(and only one terrible one - Days of Our Lives Better Living)!

3 of the books came from my TBR bookcase (Smile, Wishes, and A Lady of the West). That brings the total down to 89, which brings me right to where I was last week. *Sigh*

Current Total: 89

Oh, look at the teapot I found at the thrift store this week! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Discard Friday

Sorry John Hedgecoe, but after 20 years your book is slightly out of date. 


Have you ever purchased a book on impulse without knowing anything about it? Well I did (for my library).

I was placing an order recently and I realized I was off my estimate by about $100. I needed something quick to order. I keep 2 card boxes at my desk filled with possible titles, but for some reason I decided not to go to these. They were filled with hundreds of titles that I thought would be great to order...one day. Instead I went to Amazon and clicked on the Art and Photography category. This was not a random pick. Most of the order I had placed was photography, art, and decorative art books. My collection was lacking in art and photography materials and anything decorating related will get checked out by half, if not all, my coworkers. I decided to get something fresh and new. Luckily, Amazon had just listed their best picks for 2013 so I went with the top two: Beautiful Whale by Bryant Austin and Serpentine by Mark Laita.


As a child I loved snakes. Like most children I had a strange fascination with them that terrified my parents. As an adult, my fascination subsided and fear set in. What if I encountered a snake while walking through the woods? What is my dog was bit by one in the yard? I lost my enthrall.

When I saw Serpentine I knew it would constantly go out. Why? As I stated above, children love snakes. Anything on snakes is always going to check out. When it came in I was surprised to find that it was more of a fine arts book than educational. 

I decided to check this out and give it a good look through. I didn't just want to skim it. I really wanted to understand where Mark Laita was going with his work. All the photographs are set against a black backdrop. Laita featured the photograph on the right  page and the left side blank. The lack of image on the left side of the book reiterated Laita's goal of focus on the serpent. Occasionally Laita would include a quote on the left side that focused discussed the misinterpretation of evil. 

These quotes added a stimulating touch that gets the reader rethinking their perception of snakes. As I mentioned early that even though I loved snakes as a kid, I feared them as an adult. Nothing happened to me to earn this fear. I just lost my fearless nature as I grew into an adult. Ask anyone you know if they are scared of snakes and 9.5 out of 10 will say "HELL YES!" If you ask anyone in my family about snakes and they will say "Get my hoe!" (old family joke about my great-grandmother killing snakes with a hoe)

The photographs themselves are stunning. The various position of the snakes, the twisted movements of their bodies, adds to the artist nature of the images. Not only are these creatures created strikingly gorgeous, but Laita's photographs add a touch of elegance to these misunderstood serpents.
As I mentioned before this is more of a fine arts book, but I don't want you to think that there was no educational material. At the end of the book, Laita created a visual glossary where every image is represented again (in a smaller version) and the basic information is provided: Name, Family, Binomial, Other Names, Location, Habitat, Length, Feeding, and Breeding. Though this information is basic it does answer the basic questions people might have: Is this snake poisonous? Where does it live? How big does it get?

If you are able to view Serpentine, I highly recommend it. Please be sure to take the time to study the photographs and also the format of the book. Laita does a wonderful job of presenting these creatures in a beautiful light. You won't find any fang shots or a scary striking serpent. Whether or not your perception of these creature changes, you might find yourself admitting their magnificence and the beauty of the nature that created them. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 down, 89 to go

Read All The Books - Week 2

I made some progress...unintentionally.  I was going through the TBR shelf and was excited to find that I could remove 3 of the books from the shelf. 

In the last post, I had to add ten books to the total because I bought a bunch of old Johanna Lindsey books. Well it turns out that I already had a copy of Defy Not the Heart on the shelf. So yay for that! I haven't read it yet, but it counts for something right?

The 2nd book, Before Sunrise by Diana Palmer, I had actually read this week as an ebook. Diana Palmer has soooo many books and they all pretty much have the same plot (older man, younger woman who is usually his ward) so it is impossible for me to tell them apart. So I was quite surprised to see it on the shelf and very happy to be able to make a teeny tiny dent in the collection.

The 3rd book is a Harlequin Presents by Jennie Lucas, A Night of Living Dangerously. HP are brain candy for me and I can devour through one in a short time. 

I think I need a better way of organizing my personal collection. Can anyone recommend a library app that helps you keep track of what books you own? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Let's talk about food...

Usually I just post about books...occasionally movies and television, but 90% of my posts are book related.

So I am going to change it up. Let's talk about food....especially all the food I cooked this weekend.

First, let me tell you about cooking in my family. I am a southerner and when we cook dinner there are usually 4 to 5 side items. I have even seen my maternal grandmother have 7 sides once at a meal. Growing up though, my mother didn't do much cooking. She fixed dinner every night, but she mainly threw things together. She only gets recipes out at Thanksgiving or Christmas...and that's only if we aren't going to my grandparents. After my parents divorced, she said she just lost all interest in cooking. One of her biggest regrets she says is that she didn't teach me or my sister how to cook.

In the last 2 or 3 years, my grandmother and I have done nothing but share recipes. We call each other at least once a week and share different recipes we have found, were given, or thought might work well. I love it.

I can't stick to a recipe though. I am constantly adding different ingredients. Turns out my paternal grandmother does this as well. I never thought much about it until my mom pointed out that I never make a recipe the same way.

I don't do a lot of cooking or experimenting. I wish I did more, but the grocery store is my downfall. I always spend way too much money in there. I use to do all my cooking on Sunday and portion up tupperware containers with food for each day. This kept me from running to the store really quickly and instantly spending $20 or $30. This method worked great for me!

Since BF moved in I have found that the food I would cook on Sunday to last me an entire week would be gone by Tuesday or Wednesday. Where I could make one chicken breast last for two meals, he could easily eat 2 chicken breast for one meal. It has taken me a while to get use to this. Fortunately, he does fend for himself a lot when it comes to food. Whereas I rarely purchase fast food, he routinely orders food on his way to work or after. He also has a tendency to forget about leftovers. He has no problem eating them...he just forgets that they are in there.

Ok, now for some recipes. On Saturday I did some major cooking, which I probably shouldn't have done since I was going to the Greek Food Festival that afternoon. I have been inspired by Adventures in Life, Love, Librarianship's Eat All the Food challenge. The goal is to utilize the food already in your pantry before going out to by more. I wanted to find a recipe for chicken in a crockpot, but I wanted to use ingredients that I knew wouldn't get used everyday. I searched through some cookbooks at my house when I found one for Chicken in Honey Sauce.

From the book, Crock-pot: The Original Slow Cooker, 3 books in 1.

Chicken in Honey Sauce

  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sesame seeds
1. Place chicken in crockpot, season with salt and pepper.
2. Combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil and garlic in medium bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover; cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
3. Garnish with sesame seeds before servings. 

Why I picked this recipe: 
1. I had all the ingredients (except sesame seeds, which I omitted)
2. It would give me the chance to use the soy sauce and ketchup (both which I hate) up.

What I changed:
Remember how I said I couldn't follow a recipe? Well I can't.
I realized that I only had 1 1/2 cup of honey instead of 2. I decided to add some honey mustard dressing to the mix, along with a little honey bbq sauce. Don't ask my why. I just thought this might be a good combination and they were in the fridge. That's how I roll. 

I didn't have sesame seeds so I decided to top the chicken off with a little mozz. cheese.

The chicken came out good, but with a little too much of a soy sauce taste for me. I would cut down on the amount of soy sauce (unless you really like it). Boyfriend seemed to like it a lot and it was very easy to make. 

I made squash croquettes and a spinach and tortellini casserole to go along with it. I will post those recipes later on this week. 

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