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Moving….

July 23, 2010

I have barely moved in it seems, and I am already moving. I am going to move this blog to Blogger, as I prefer the way they can track and analyze visitors. I also like the widgets a little better, and I find it friendlier to a novice blogger like I am.I do have plans to move to an independent website and server eventually – but I need to learn my way around a little bit more. Until then, Blogger should do just fine.

I have already moved over all the posts, and I will be making all NEW posts from that website. Please take time to check it out and join up or subscribe over there.

It’s at:  The DomestiChick (http://thedomestichick.blogspot.com/).I look forward to seeing you there!

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow of Power by Steve Martini

July 21, 2010

I enjoy a good legal thriller or suspense novel, and I am always looking for a new one to read. I had never, surprisingly enough, read any Steve Martini novels. The novel was okay but it did not make an overwhelming impression. If I had not read other reviews, I am not sure I would jump up to buy another novel by Mr. Martini.

The book started with some interesting scenes, just vague enough to leave you wondering what would happen. At the introduction of the “Jefferson Letter”, I still held some hope this could be crafted in a credible way while also gaining momentum with the suspense. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I was disappointed in the premise that the language already existing in the Constitution would incite so many riots and public unrest. I just don’t find this very plausible. I would have agreed that it might create much discussion as well as some interesting debates – just not to the level that the author created in the novel. As the book progressed, I realized that the “Jefferson Letter” bit would also stretch the limits of credibility. The book made a good point on this, since the characters spoke of it not being necessary for the letter to be authentic to be able to create the furor it seemed capable of generating. In this way, the letter (whether found to be fraud or not) would at least have to fit within my limits of credibility as a reader – and it failed.

I did like many of the characters in the book – even if I didn’t like what they represented, I thought the author did a good job of fleshing them out and making them interesting. This is with one exception: Trisha Scott. I found her flat and uninteresting. Her character, along with the unreal plot twists at the end, made me sigh and want to throw up my hands in frustration a couple of times in the last chapter. Her character just was not believable to me. On the other hand, I loved Herman. I laughed out loud several times at his courtroom scenes, and I found myself mentally casting him with some Hollywood favorites. If a character “works” for me, that’s something I end up doing.

I also liked the courtroom scenes in general. The descriptions were complete without being boring. The inner complexities of criminal litigation were explored without unduly boring the reader as well. The entire courtroom section of the book was extremely well crafted. Since that took up a large part of the book, it made the difference for me in a rating of “okay” versus “I didn’t like it.”

All in all, I enjoyed the book. For a reader wanting a light read, this could be an enjoyable diversion. For someone looking for an intense legal thriller, your better bet would be a different novel. For me – I am going to at least try another novel by Steve Martini and give the writer a second chance to impress.

My conclusion:  A solid “okay” in my book; grab it at the used bookstore or borrow a copy (library or a friend).

Maybe we just need a PO Box… you can’t hit those.

July 21, 2010

I promised yesterday that I would post about the tale of the mailbox. Over the last several years, we’ve seen the mailbox hit, mangled, repaired, bashed, and repaired again. It’s like lather, rinse, repeat.

My first encounter with our mailbox was when I first met my husband, and I visited the house. It was a nice, small, black mailbox – tucked out-of-the-way so it would not get hit by someone in the driveway, far enough off our road to not be hit by random drivers, yet still accessible to us. What could go wrong? Apparently everything.

It was first hit by the friend of my husband’s oldest daughter. Her friend, we’ll call her S to protect the guilty, was backing out of the driveway when we heard a tell-tale shriek of metal. We turned around to see S stop her car, then get out to investigate any damage… to her car. Seeing none, she hopped in her car and with a cheery wave off she drove. We could see the damage to the mailbox from the driveway – a nice long streak down the side and a slight tilt to the post. DH corrected the tilt, reinforced the post, and tried some touch up on the paint. It worked.

A few months later, we came home from an outing. Attack number two had occurred in our absence. This time the post leaned significantly to the side, and the box was hanging partially off the post. Once again, tools in hand, DH corrected the tilt, reinforced the post and this time realigned the box. A few reinforcement screws to the mailbox secured it more tightly to the post.

By this time, we were scratching our heads over the poor mailbox. Then it was attack number three – this time by me. I was backing out of our driveway when I realized what a hazard this little black box presented. For such a little thing, it sure can make a nice long engraved slash in the paint on the car. I didn’t damage the mailbox too much, so again DH went out to make the repairs. By this time, he was getting most frustrated and to this day I hear laughter regarding my encounter with our mailbox. My DH loves to say that I heard the shriek of grating metal and continued to drive on with a “What’s that noise?” and shrug of the shoulders. Not quite accurate, but can be irritatingly amusing at times.

So, by now, I am seriously thinking we need a new mailbox. DH agrees, since he was actively eBaying at the time and receiving large packages on a regular basis. You know it’s bad when the UPS man still asks about the kids and realizes the 7-year old is now old enough to start college in the fall. However we put it off for some reason – maybe our ESP at work? Yes, it was attack number five.

Number five came from a random truck in the neighborhood. We saw the moving trucks come into the neighborhood. We feared. We waited. We finally left the house on an errand. In our absence, yet again, the mailbox was hit – this time mangled. No note. It was as if the driver never noticed. How can you not notice a large post snapped at the top and the mailbox on the ground? I know… rhetorical question.

We replaced it this time with an extra-large box and reinforced post. It was fine for a couple of years. Yes, we actually made it two years. Then, we had this:

The local county workers were out paving the main road – the one you see beyond the mailbox on the other side. We live off that road on a side street. Somehow they found a way to mangle the mailbox and knock the post sideways. They did come back later and replace the whole thing – post, larger mailbox, new numbers, we were upgraded.

When we spoke to the driver, he said “I was trying to watch the mailbox when I heard a loud shriek of grating metal.”

I looked at DH and said, “I think it’s time we just get that P. O. Box. Nobody can hit those, can they?”

It’s 4:00 am, I’m up, and good books rock

July 20, 2010

Today (well, technically yesterday at this point) was rather exciting. Our mailbox was demolished for about the fourth time in the last five years. I have pics and will be posting about all that tomorrow.

Most of tonight has been spent working on my two blogs – yes two. There’s this one, which is all about my domestic life. I figured out that it would be best to let this blog concentrate on my love of books, cooking, and general parenting and family life. So, all the little parts of my home will still appear on these pages. However, the part of my life that seems separated – the part of my with a fractured family – is relegated to my other blog: Fearless Stepmom. I started that one back several years ago, when I decided to blog about my experiences as a custodial stepmother. Later, it was those experiences that completely sidetracked that venture into near oblivion. Fortunately, it’s still there, and I am now organizing content between the two sites.

The best part has been all the fun I have been having. I have been searching out lovely templates, backgrounds, stock photos and other goodies. There will be changes to both, but hopefully things will be settled soon and then I can really concentrate on awesome material – such as fabulous book reviews.

I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember – which is one reason I chose to major in English Literature in college. I guess I still dream on some level of being a writer – more glamorous to me than being discovered for Hollywood. Most women would dream of being an Angelina Jolie – personally I think Diablo Cody is much more cool as far as Hollywood goes. As far as writers, I think being Kathy Reichs would be about the ultimate. Can you imagine hanging with Booth and Bones for a season?

Right now, I am reading a good book on my Kindle. It was a promotional one, offered for free recently. Let’s just say I am now a fan of Steve Martini thanks to the free promotional copy of Shadow of Power. What an excellent suspense story- the only bad part about working on my blog is that it is taking me away from finishing the book. Which would be why I am up at 4:00 am with relatively little complaint. The sun will be coming up soon, but there’s still time for me to squeeze in a few chapters after finishing this piece. That’s the beauty and magic of a good book. Sometimes it can lull you into sleep, other times it can keep you awake with no complaints at all. Magic.

BOOK REVIEW: The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan**

July 18, 2010


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but I preferred her first book The Expected One much more. I think all of the information was a fresh, and she had interesting twists on Dan Brown’s theories in Da Vinci Code. I also enjoyed getting to know all the characters in that book, and I missed Maureen interacting as much with her group of friends. However, I think that is one of the aspects the author was trying to convey – that with that great knowledge and responsibility a person can be very lonely. I did like some of the layers of meaning in this book.

I also loved the story of Matilda. I understand that much of historical fiction is heavy on the fiction. While we may know facts here or there, we weren’t actually there – so much of what is written is very good guesswork. In that respect, the story of Matilda was extremely entertaining within the loose framework of known history. I look forward to her exploration of other historical figures in upcoming books.

I LOVED her treatment of the Lord’s Prayer. While I use a different translation, the concept of six petals and how to pray using those was very helpful. What I enjoy about books like this is that you take what you want and leave the rest. Whether you agree with the theology of this (or even Brown’s book) or not, there is still that desire to look into things for yourself – to research a passage of Scripture, to check a historical fact, or to just use a piece of the book in your own life (as I am using her method of the Lord’s Prayer).

All in all, it was a VERY enjoyable read and spurred my interest in many things both spiritual and historical. I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoyed Brown’s Da Vinci code. I also recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. I am looking forward to the next book, The Poet Prince.

** This review was originally written on April 24, 2009, and it appeared on my other blog, The Fearless Stepmom. I have moved it here permanently as I reorganize both websites to their true purpose.


A Foray Into Julia Child

July 18, 2010

Originally written on February 13, 2010**:

Tonight I decided to try my hand at creating a Julia Child classic: Potage Parmentier. Nice enough, but I have two teenage sons, and Mrs. Child evidently did not when perfecting this recipe. Teen boys means you need meat, so I settled on chicken.

I made a few adjustments, and the family loved it. Those teen boys both had second helpings, a silent approval as they are very picky eaters. The rest of the family (my husband, a pre-schooler, a tween girl, and a teen girl) also enjoyed the meal. For those of you willing to corrupt classic recipes or just like to try new things, here’s my own take on this recipe:

A Fearless Chicken’s Potato Soup (makes approximately 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups leeks, thinly sliced (white and tender green parts only)
  • 3 tablespoons Smart Choice 60% spread
  • 5 breasts of chicken, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-n-half

Directions

  1. Melt butter in large 4-quart pot over medium-low heat. When melted, add leeks and cook until caramelized.
  2. Remove leeks to a separate dish.
  3. Add chicken to the pot, and brown on all sides.
  4. Fill the pot with the 4 quarts of water, and bring to a boil and cook until chicken is done. Remove chicken to a separate dish.
  5. Return leeks to the chicken stock, and add potatoes with seasonings. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  6. Remove from heat, and mash the vegetables with the liquid (alternatively, you could puree this in the blender – not an option with teen boys who like to see food of substance).
  7. Add chicken, half-n-half and additional seasonings to taste. Heat on medium-low until chicken is warmed.
  8. Pour into bowls, and garnish with parsley if desired.

In the words of Julia Child – bon appetit! Let me know how you like it.

**This originally appeared on my other website – The Fearless Stepmom. I am moving it here as I am in the process of organizing the two websites and their content.

Friday Family Movie Night

July 17, 2010

Yesterday while shopping at Wal-Mart, we received a flyer for Family Movie Night, sponsored by Wal-Mart and P&G products. This is the second in the “Bringing Back Family Movie Night” campaign: The Jensen Project.

The Jensen Project

The world is hanging by a string. Can this family pull it together?

After a 16-year absence, Claire and Matt Thompson are reintroduced to The Jensen Project — a secret community of geniuses conducting advanced underground research to solve the world’s most difficult problems. The former scientists, accompanied by their tech-minded teenage son Brody, are thrust into a frantic pursuit to keep a potentially dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands. As the family races against the clock to stop the group’s rogue faction, they discover an important truth. In this high-pressure, high-tech world, sometimes the smartest thing we can do is lean on each other.

The flyer had the movie information on one side and a shopping list for the perfect night on the other – all for only $10.00. The evening was complete with pizza, movie and typical movie-theater treats (soda, popcorn and candy). Since all four kids were with us, they cajoled, prodded and pleaded us into succumbing to the blatant marketing. Since we are a larger-than-average family, we ended up spending $20.00 for twice the product.

We first prepared our pizzas – Wal-Mart Marketside pizza for $5.00 each in two flavors: one five-cheese and one three-meat.   Around 6:30PM I served these with our 2-liter bottles of Pepsi ($1.00 each) purchased as part of the package: we chose regular Pepsi and Wild Cherry Pepsi. We devoured the pizzas rather quickly, with plenty of compliments from our, at times, difficult to please audience (two teens, one tween, and one preschooler). The pizzas were quite good, with fresh ingredients. The crust was similar to a “hand-tossed”, a nice cross between thick and thin (very close to my homemade crust). The toppings were quite good, with a nice blend of cheeses on the cheese pizza. The meat pizza had large chunks of sausage, only mildly spicy, along with shaved bacon, pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese. There was also thinly shaved grilled beef, a surprising addition that gave a unique layer of flavor to the pizza. We would have liked more pepperoni slices, but overall the pizza was quite good.

I then left open our two cans of Pringles (one ranch flavor and one multi-grain). These were advertised at $1.00 for a slightly smaller can, but we chose the larger can for $1.50 which was a better deal overall. This also worked better for our size family.

Around 7:30PM I put on the popcorn (Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter at $2.00 a tub), so we could settle in for the movie. This time, we all came into the master bedroom where we could all be comfortable. Our eldest son, who is 18 and has his own apartment, was visiting. He chose to stay in the living room to play Guitar Hero (something he greatly misses since moving out on his own). Our other teen boy, who is “too cool” for family night, chose to stay in his room alternating between talking with his girlfriend on the phone and playing his favorite computer game. Although I wish he would join us as well, at least he’s not out making mischief or otherwise getting into trouble. I count my blessings.

At 8:00PM we tuned in to NBC for the family movie The Jensen Project.We enjoyed this with our popcorn, some Skittles (we tried the new flavor of Fizzl’d Fruits, which was sort of Pop-Rocks meets Sour meets chewy Skittles). We had two bags of Skittles, at $1.00 each, in the “theater box” size. The price for all of this was incredibly reasonable, and it was far better than what we would have paid at the theater. Not to mention our floors are not near as sticky (even with a preschooler) and the bathrooms are far cleaner (even with our teenagers).

The movie was very cute, and although it was a bit dark in places for our four-year-old, my younger teen girls enjoyed it. Could it be the hint of romance between Brody and Samantha? Or perhaps just them enjoying Justin Kelly as Brody?  Either way, our whole family enjoyed the movie and we do plan on purchasing the DVD/CD combo available at Wal-Mart today. The CD has the soundtrack from the movie, featuring Jordin Sparks, Brooke White and more.

Overall, we felt this was a good deal: fun, cost-efficient, and family oriented. In the fall, we will be ready and waiting for the next family movie night:  A Walk In My Shoes.

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