Chris and Debi's Mutual Challenge 2011

Although I’ve been HORRIBLE at finishing any of my 2010 challenges, I’m starting my first challenge of 2011 :p And this is one that I’m so freaking excited about that it’s not funny!!! Debi and I have decided to do a mutual challenge!!! We’ve each picked five books for each other to read by the end of next year and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the five books that she picked for me!!! And I couldn’t be more thrilled with the five books that I picked for her :p But you’re going to have to wait until she posts on her blog what those are to find out what they are. Here’s what I’ll be reading:

1. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman – Well it’s about time I read this one, huh? I’ve only been having it on my shelf for AGES now!! For some reason I’ve always been nervous about this book…I don’t know why. But nerves or no nerves, I’ve gotta read it now 🙂

2. Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block – Yay yay yay!!! I don’t know why I haven’t read this one yet either, but I’m so damned excited about it!!! I just know that I’m going to love this one to pieces. I really just want to read all of these right now.

3. I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly – Debi actually sent me a copy of this one and I started reading it at work tonight and I’m already in love with it. Such an awesome book so far.

4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Another one that I’m shocked I haven’t read yet, but one I’m really excited about this one too. If I’m right, this one deals with a boy with autism and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for kids with autism.

5. All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque – Now this one I’ve never even heard of before and I know absolutely nothing about!! So I think I’m actually more excited about this one than any of them :p

This is going to be so much fun!! In fact, if I finish all five books quickly, I may just ask Debi to assign me five more bonus books 🙂

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Bad Bloggers – 10/25/10

Happy Halloween Week everyone!!! We’ve finally got some Autumn air starting to creep down here and it’s just lovely 🙂 It’s breezy and in the 70’s, though later in the week we’re looking at lows in the 50’s which just sounds absolutely gorgeous to me!! And weather like this ALWAYS perks up my reading moods which is a very good thing…because as you can see, I can’t stop bringing books into the house. Though this is a VERY tame week compared to normal with only five books entering the house believe it or not. So let’s get this party started and start a new round of bad bloggers:

1. Gray Horses by Hope Larson – HOORAY!!!! I can’t tell you how long I’ve been wanting this book. For a long time, that’s how long. And then I read Mercury by Ms. Larson and knew I really had to have it and just when I was about to buy it my turn came up for it on Paperback Swap! Score! (Paperback Swap)

2. Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas by John Baxter – And the first point of this round goes to Ms. Bellezza 🙂 I don’t know why on Earth Bellezza hasn’t gotten more points in this game really. She always writes the most beautiful reviews and finds the most amazing books….like this one! I’ve been wanting this ever since she reviewed it last Christmas time. I looked for it everywhere and couldn’t find it, but I just got it off of Paperback Swap and will definitely be reading it this Christmas. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this one!!! Point for Bellezza. (Paperback Swap)

3. An Invisible Sign Of My Own by Aimee Bender – So I’ve formed a bit of an obsession with Aimee Bender. And I’d like to just give Heather a point for every single Aimee Bender book because she’s the one who made me get Lemon Cake and start my obsession. But I won’t. This is Aimee Bender’s other novel and I know nothing about it really aside from that she wrote it…and that’s enough for me 🙂 (Paperback Swap)

4. I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly – And of course, Ana gets a point in the first round. How could she not :p But after reading her amazing review of this graphic novel that deals with trauma, I had to put it on my list. And my sweet friend Debi was kind enough to send me a copy for winning HER blame game :p Thanks Debi!!!! Point to Ana! (Gift from a friend)

5. Last Chance to See by Douglas AdamsDebi also sent me this book and she’s also just going to have to take the blame for it as well :p It was Ana who first put this one on my radar, but it was Debi’s review that really sent me over the edge about it making me HAVE to have it. And then she sent it to me, lol. Point for Debi! (Gift from a friend)

Saturday Farmer's Market – 10/23/10

Is it Saturday again already? And is Saturday really almost over already? Sheesh! Where’s the day go? Anyway, time to talk about the garden again. I’m thoroughly enjoying my fall garden! It’s turning out to be more productive than any Spring or Summer garden that I’ve had. I just can’t get over all of the produce that is popping up all over the place. It’s so awesome!! In addition to the pictures below, the beautiful disaster flower bed is starting to come alive. It looks like some deep pink zinnias are about to bloom. And in preparation for the spring I planted some gorgeous daffodil bulbs along the back of the flower bed today. Well the bulbs weren’t particularly beautiful, but the picture of the flowers were. They’re white, yellow and orange. Can’t wait until Spring to see them bloom! But I’ll just enjoy Autumn for now 😉 Here’s what’s going on in the garden:

1. Here’s one of the varieties of tomatoes growing, my roma tomatoes! Yes I plan on making my very own homemade fresh tomato sauce this year 🙂 I can’t tell you how excited I am to see tomatoes on all of my plants. Well, at least 4 of the 6…but all 6 of my tomato plants have flowers and the four plants that do have tomatoes on them have multiples! I’m most excited about the romas though. I’ve never grown them before and I hear they make a mean sauce.

2. I can’t even keep up with the jalapenos at this point! Seriously, they’re like my zucchini right now…I’m giving them away like crazy and I only have one plant!! I’ve frozen tons of them. I see salsa and more stuffed jalapenos in the future. But you don’t hear any complaints about that here. I LOVE jalapenos!

3. Here are some of the carrots and turnips. I’m such a moron. I decided to see how they were doing today thinking that surely they’ve developed under the ground by now…so I pulled one of each up and all I got was a long root…not a DEVELOPED root like I will have in probably about a month and a half, but just a long root with maybe a slight bulge towards the top :p But I can see where they are starting to form!

4. Know what this is? Romaine lettuce!! I’m super excited about this 🙂 I’ve never grown any type of lettuce before either, but these seem to be doing well. Can’t wait until I have big heads of lettuce 🙂 I have ten total!

5. And know what this is? It’s a little tiny spinach plant!!! I have many of these in the garden and they’re starting to do well and get their first leaves. Should have a nice little crop of spinach assuming that they continue to do well!

6. Here’s another tomato!! This is a creole tomato, our family’s favorite tomato. Isn’t it cute? :p

7. And look at my green beans!! You can’t actually see any beans here…this is the patch of “rattlesnake beans” which are pole beans and they’re starting to make their climb up the pole now. And starting to make a few tiny flowers. They can be eaten fresh as a snapbean or dried as a soup bean. We’ll be eating them fresh I think! They’re supposed to have a great sort of sweet taste. Looking forward to these.

8. These I think I’m most excited about 🙂 Green Beans!!!!! Actual green beans growing! Big enough to eat. Just not enough to harvest for a meal. I love green beans so much. They’re pretty much one of my favorite veggies, but I’ve never grown them before. Today I picked one right off of the bush and popped the crunchy little sucker in my mouth and ate it raw and it was delicious! These are called provider beans and they grow as a bush bean.

9. And finally, here’s some baby cilantro that’s just starting to get it’s first little ferny leaves! I picked some of it off today just to smell it and it already smells so wonderful. God I love the smell of cilantro SO much! Just as much as I love the smell of mint!! Well maybe not that much, but it still smells damn good.

And that’s it for this week….How does your garden grow? Head on over to Heather’s blog and let us all know!!

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Alas! Ana has finally convinced me to read a series out of order. You don’t understand how big of a deal this is to me. It’s ingrained into me to the point of a compulsion that I HAVE to read a series in the order in which is was published. Even if there are subseries within a series. Or even if there are technically books that can be read as standalones. It doesn’t matter. No, no, no. Published order…..The key word being “order”. But Ana has been telling me since day one that with Discworld, it’s ok to jump around. So when I Shall Wear Midnight came out, I said “Well Ok…I’m going to read THAT!” But then Ana said….”Well…you can’t QUITE do that Chris…first, you have to read the other Tiffany Aching books. You need to start with The Wee Free Men.” And I said “Oh. Ok!” And that is what I have done. And it is with much restraint (or a busy work schedule) that I have not yet read A Hat Full of Sky, it’s immediate sequel!

OMG I want a Nac Mac Feegle!!!!! That would be a Wee Free Man…a little blue man…or whatever you want to call them. If I had one, I would probably adamantly say that I did not want one any longer and would someone please get rid of it, but right now I really want one so it can say “crivens” and talk in a wonderful Scottish accent and just cause general shennanigans. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our story is about Tiffany Aching, a young girl who lives on The Chalk (the ground is made of chalk) on the farm where her grandmother once lived. Granny Aching was a quiet woman, but a woman who was well respected by all and could cure a sheep of any ailment known to man..mostly by using her sheep liniment, a liquid potent enough to get just about anyone drunk. When Granny Aching did speak though, she left words of wisdom. But Granny Aching has passed away now leaving Tiffany to her family and her little brother who is known for getting himself into sticky messes.

Tiffany seems to have a gift that no one else in her family has. A gift that her Granny had as well. And that is the gift of the second sight and third thoughts! The makings of a witch. And when her brother disappears, those gifts are soon put to the test. With the help of the Wee Free Men..little men tattooed all in blue that appear seemingly from nowhere…she sets off on a journey to discover who she is, where her place is in the world, where she comes from and who she will become.

I haven’t said much about the Wee Free Men themselves, because I think they’re best left discovered on your own 🙂 What I can say about this book is that it’s just perfect and I liked it even better than Nation, which up until now I’ve said is my favorite Terry Pratchett book. Of course, it was also only my second Terry Pratchett book I had read! The more Pratchett I read, the more I realize what a genius this man is. Prior to actually reading his books, I always thought he was that “clever and funny fantasy writer.” And he is that…but he’s so much more than that.

In between the humor, and often during the humor, there are truly touching moments. And profound moments. There are “yes!” moments and moments of perfect clarity where Pratchett just seems to get it. And describe things absolutely perfectly. In this book, Pratchett tackles the idea of death quite a bit…the idea of loss, legacy, fulfillment of roles and expectations, memories, dreams, hopes and goals. Does it all so well. Better than I can describe here. You just have to read it for yourself.

There was a moment when the Nac Mac Feegle talked about being dead and Tiffany exclaims to them that they’re quite alive! That she sees them, feels them…and they say that no, this is heaven. That our world, the world we live in day to day is heaven. And she says “But I’M not dead” and they basically say “says who?” or “so what?”. And I just loved that. Replace the idea of heaven with anything else. We assume that everything is ours. We look at everything from our point of view only without ever pausing to think of anyone else. But how much would things change and how much bigger would everything seem or how much smaller would we seem if we stopped to look at things from another perspective? This is why I love Terry Pratchett.

Saturday Farmer's Market – 10/16/10

Hello everyone!! How’s your weekend going? I’m having a nice and quiet weekend so far and am hoping to get lots of reading done this weekend, get back into the swing of blogging again finally as I’ve missed everyone terribly lately, and play in the garden as much as possible!! I spent a lot of today in the garden and I’m just totally amazed by how much is turning up in the fall garden 😀 It’s quite fun! I’ve never done a fall garden before, but this is definitely something I plan on doing here on out. My mom went looking for pumpkins for the front porch today and actually asked if we can plant a pumpkin patch next year! This is from the same mom who was reluctant to let me put in a 4×4 raised bed in her backyard at the beginning of the year :p But since then I’ve put in 2 4×4 beds, a side row that’s about 12 feet long and numerous potted herbs and a couple of trees 😀 Anyway, here’s some pics and details on how everything is doing:

1. Here are my turnips!! The first time I tried to grow turnips was in the middle of summer and that was a TOTAL failure. They sprouted and then just refused to grow any more….but these are getting huge 😀 I’m so freaking excited!! We’re going to have turnips coming out of our ears. I’ve already thinned them out so everything that’s in the ground now is staying in the ground. Totally in love with this square foot gardening stuff!

2. And carrots! The carrots are actually growing too and there are still new little seedlings popping up. This is the first time I’ve ever been successful with carrots. This is the first year we’ve ever tried any root crops and up until now it’s just been too hot for them..but they’re doing awesome now 😀

3. These are my green beans! These are called provider beans and they already have gorgeous purple flowers on them and are actually sprouting beans. I’m so freaking excited about them. Of all veggies, I think green beans may be my favorites 😀 So this will be my first time having fresh green beans from my garden 😀 Yeah, you’re going to see lots of smileys in this post :p

4. The tomato plants are really taking off too, though I don’t have any actual tomatoes yet. I have 6 plants in the garden total. Tons of flowers already, but no little tomatoes yet. I think I’ll squeal for joy when I see my first little tomatoes. I’m a tad bit worried because a few of the flowers are dropping off, but not too worried. They’re still really young plants. We’ll see how they do!

5. The bell pepper plants just keep doing better and better! I’m not getting big bell peppers, but I’m getting nice medium sized peppers that are good for seasoning and cooking with and they have an absolutely amazing flavor and smell to them. I just love bell peppers so much. I tied these up today because they’ve really gotten huge and are starting to go all over the place. They were tied once towards the bottom but needed tying again. They look much better now and they’re actually taller than the stake that’s in the ground!

6. Here’s my chaotic flower garden! It’s not looking too chaotic right now as not too many of the seeds have sprouted. Trust me…if you knew how many seeds I threw into the garden, that’s nothing AT ALL!! Maybe 1/1000th of the seeds :p Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration but not by much! I can’t wait until things start blooming!

7. Here’s a close up of some of the flowers in the garden…I can’t wait until they bloom so that I actually know what they are! Does anyone have any idea what these are? My mom thinks that the ones with the broad leaves are zinnias but I have no clue with the ones with the ferny leaves are.

8. My little satsuma tree went into the ground last weekend and it seems to be loving it 🙂 In fact, as you can see, one of the satsumas is finally starting to turn orange!! I put a bunch of compost around the base of it after I planted it and laughed my ass off this morning because a bunch of little vegetables and sunflowers started sprouting up all around the base of the tree :p Apparently there are quite a few veggie seeds in my compost!! I knew there were a lot of sunflower seeds from composting all of those sunflowers a month or so ago. I’ve picked some baby sunflowers out of the vegetable garden too. They started sprouting after I put some compost around my tomato plants :p I don’t know what else is sprouting around the orange tree but my mom thinks we should just leave them! It looks like baby tomato plants!

9. Here’s my lemon tree that I sprouted from a seed. Still doing fantastic! I added a bit of compost to this too just to give it some nutrients and it seems to like it. It’s growing really well 🙂

10. This is all little sprouts of cilantro! I planted this just a week ago and it’s all come up in a pot. A whole lot of it!!! Looks like we’ll have cilantro coming out our ears. I’m thinking once they start to grow, I’ll take the individual plants out and transplant them.

11. This just really cracked me up. I haven’t planted ANYTHING in this pot….so this is a mystery crop. A strawberry plant planted itself here, so that strawberry plant belongs there. But those other things that look either like baby turnips or baby kohlrabi do not belong in there :p And I didn’t put any compost in this pot, so I have no idea how those got in there. The only thing I can think is that I had a packet of seeds on the ledge above it which is where they often are when I’m gardening and the wind blew them into the pot! I figured I’d just leave them there and see what they do :p

12. And finally I just took a picture of my mint because I thought it’s been looking especially pretty since I cut it back and it’s started growing back 🙂

Head on over to Heather’s blog to find more Saturday Farmer’s Market posts and to leave a link to your own!!

Bad Bloggers!! Let's Start A New Round!

So I’m going to go ahead and pass out the blame for these 9 books and then go ahead and wrap up bad bloggers for this round. Let’s just say it now…Ana has once again taken the lead :p And she shall be rewarded with any book of her choice!! But poor Ana, the rules of this game state that she must choose a book that I’ve reviewed sometime in the past. You see, the point of this is that hopefully I can inflict a book upon her because of my influence due to all of the many books she has inflicted upon me. Do you like how I try to make that sound like a bad thing? :p But yes yes…if you’ll let me know which book you want Ana, I’ll get it right in the mail to you!!! I owe you an email anyway so I’ll be contacting you as well 🙂 So after all of this blame is doled out (Ana will be getting three more points in this round so I thought it only fair to start fresh NEXT week), We’ll start a new round and see if anyone dares to challenge Ana for the crown :p

One thing I must say is that it totally cracks me up how much of a competition this has become, lol. Rhinoa came to New Orleans over the past few days!!! We had so much fun and I’ll talk all about it over on my tumblr blog, but I started laughing last night when we were driving home and she said “how come I never get any damn bad blogger points?!” LOL!!! I felt horrible, but at the same time, it cracked me up how much of an actual game it’s become. And it’s really fun. Anyway, here are the points for this week:

1. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer – So here’s the first point for Ana…and it’s one of those instances where she’s actually gotten a point from twitter in 140 characters or less because yes, she’s capable of even that :p But OMG this book looks so freaking incredible!!! It’s a collection of retold fairy tales from all over the world by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Aimee Bender among many many others. I’m freaking about it and I may just finally dive into it tonight after saying every night that I’m going to do that. Point to Ana. (Bought it)

2. Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist – I had a holy shit moment when I heard about this book. Because Let The Right One In has truly become one of my favorite books of all times after having read it over a year ago now. He’s just an amazing writer (Crap I still owe you an email Mr. Lawson!!! I haven’t forgotten). Well the blame for this one falls solely on the oh so wonderful Mel who I love so much 🙂 I swear she’s my twin just in female form. She’s even from here..or at least went to school in Baton Rouge. Anyway, I had no idea this was even coming out until she mentioned it and I got so excited!!! New Lindqvist! Score! And now I haz it 😀 Point for Mel. (Bought it)

3. Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson – I occasionally DO judge books by their covers and just blew this one off assuming that it would not be for me despite seeing some buzz about it :/ Bad bad me. But then the lovely Colin over at The Book Pirate reviewed it and I learned that it was nothing at all like what I imagined it would be! And that I really wanted to read it! And being the nice guy that he is, he offered to send me his ARC! Score again! Thanks again, Colin! Really looking forward to this one. And a point to Colin. (Sent from a friend)

4. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris – 😀 <——I could almost just leave it at that to describe this one. Because that’s exactly how David Sedaris makes me feel. Love him. This collection is subtitled “A Modern Bestiary”, and I suppose that’s what it is. It’s basically looks like a collection of short demented stories about animals. But in a sweet way. With drawings. Yeah. (Bought it).

5. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – Hoooooooorayyyyyy 😀 I’m so glad to be reading this right now because it’s freaking amazing!!! I seriously think I might like this book even more than Nation and that’s saying A LOT!! I loved Nation. Basically, Ana has been trying to get me to read this for years now. Well, I think really her goal was just to get me to read Discworld out of order but whatever…I wanted to get I Shall Wear Midnight when it came out and Ana said that I really should read this first and work my way through the Tiffany Aching series up to that book. So now I’m SO excited about doing that 😀 Point to Ana again! (Bought it)

6. Naked by David Sedaris – This is the only one of Sedaris’ essay collections that I haven’t read yet, and they had it available on PBS, so I picked it up 🙂 I have no idea why I haven’t read this one yet, as I think it’s the most popular of his! I just have to remember not to read this in public. I swear, Sedaris and I do not get along well in public as I usually just spew snot out all over the place from laughing suddenly…it’s quite embarrassing, let me tell you. And disgusting. He’s one of the few authors that can literally make me just lose it though and have me in stitches. I just love his stuff. And he’s a great guy. (Paperback Swap).

7.The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – Here’s the new pick for the Bookclub Sandwich group!! I’m super excited about this one because it’s one that I NEVER would’ve read on my own. I just never would’ve picked this one up. Which would’ve been a shame because it sounds really good. I just love this bookclub. And I’m giving Andi a point for this one 🙂 (Paperback Swap)

8. Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich – I may have let out a small “squee” when I got this one in the mail. It’s another one of those Ana books that I wanted instantly after reading her review of it. And now I haz it! And she has her last point of this round :p (Paperback Swap)

9. Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice – Just because I’ve been really curious about this series and I’ve been DYING to read some more Anne Rice recently!!!!!

So here are the final tallies for this round since April:

Nymeth – 21
Amanda – 11
Debi – 9
Becky – 5
Nancy – 5
Deslily – 5
Heather (Capricious) – 4
Dewey – 3
Carl – 3
Eva – 3
Annie – 2
Jeane – 2
Kelly – 2
Andi – 2
Darla – 1
Mariel – 1
Diane Rehm – 1
Shanra – 1
JP – 1
Vivienne – 1
Lightheaded – 1
Aarti – 1
Renay – 1
Drew Ferguson – 1
Trish – 1
Rachel – 1
Nat – 1
Rich – 1
Daphne – 1
Darren – 1
Colin – 1
Mel – 1

So as of now, the playing field is even and you’ll notice that the bad bloggers box in the sidebar is blank! Next round will end in April 2011 🙂 What’s everyone else gotten in the mail lately? And who are you blaming for it? 😉

The Sunday Salon – The Not So Much Going On Edition

I feel like I’ve been a bad blogger as of late. No, not a Bad Blogger!, just a bad blogger. As in, I haven’t really been keeping up with my blog, but I haven’t really had much to write about! The problem being, I can’t finish a damn book for the life of me. Of course it would help if I had time to read lately. Which is my own fault for not making time to read. The truth is, I do have the time to read. Lately, I’ve just been sucked into Glee :p I just finished season 1 on DVD though, so I don’t have that excuse any more. But seriously, my reading mojo seems to have gone completely out of the window. I read a total of TWO books in September and I’ve read one so far this month. Though I am in the middle of The Stand and The Wee Free Men right now, both of which are incredible and I have the read along of We Have Always Lived in The Castle coming up!!! Don’t forget to sign up if you haven’t!

Aside from not reading, not much else is going on. I’ve been so busy with work lately. That just seems to never end. I swear I could use another week off from that place right now. Things are popping up like crazy in the garden right now 🙂 That’s been fun as always!! And I have lots of awesome shows coming up soon!!! I went to see Beach House and Vampire Weekend last night as anyone who follows me on Tumblr or Twitter knows as you were barraged with posts last night :/ Sorry about that :/ In November I’m seeing Mumford & Sons, Joanna Newsom AND The Dresden Dolls! Woohoo!

Hopefully soon I’ll fall into some normal swing again. I miss the normalcy of posting regularly over here….of commenting back and forth with my friends…of visiting everyone else’s blog. It’s sad when the things that make you happy are the first to go when life gets stressful and I’m vowing to myself to not let that happen! So hopefully you’ll see me around more soon! Hope everyone has a great rest of your Sunday!!! I’ll be cheering on the Saints against the Cardinals 🙂