Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review- The Book Thief

Not my image

This book was amazing, wonderful, touching & heartbreaking. 
I finished it in just a couple of days because I couldnt put it down.
I cried a few times during the book, but the ending was
heart wrenching and I ended up sobbing.
Despite that, I loved this book!
I normally dont like things (books, movies, people) that make me cry,
but this book was so, so good.

It takes place during WWII in Germany and follows a foster child through the
struggles of life. Death is the narrator and you cant help but like him.
The characters are full of heart and resilience.
The story is engaging and consistently earns 5 out of 5 stars in reviews.
This review is no different.
Rating: *****

Rating Scale
*****: Amazing, wonderful, MUST-read, loved it!
****: Really liked it, would recommend, good book!
***: Liked it, enjoyable, but not the greatest book ever written. 
**: Not so great, some good parts, but overall, it was just ok. 
*: Didnt like it, wouldnt recommend it, bad book all around.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where I've Been

Hello friends!

It feels like Ive been out of the bloggy world for weeks. A lot has been going on around here and the craziness will continue for another week or so. After that, I hope to have time to catch you up on what's been going on and also catch up on your blogs! Ill apologize now for my lack of posting and lack of commenting.

Here's a brief synopsis on what's been going on. Ill get into more detail later!

*I had my gender/anatomy ultrasound last week! Yes we know the gender, but no, Im not going to reveal it to you today. I want to do a whole post on it! If you follow me on Twitter then you already know. We are absolutely thrilled!

*J wasnt here for the ultrasound. He was TDY and after two delays, finally made it home Friday night. We wanted to find out the gender together, so I had to wait two days with a sealed envelope before finding out our baby's gender! I came up with a fun way for J and I to open the envelope, which I will share with you later.

*My parents plus four relatives arrive for a week long visit tomorrow. We spent the weekend cleaning and getting ready for their visit. We're taking a trip to Salzburg, Austria and Berchtesgaden, Germany while they are here.

*I had a huge scare yesterday. I woke up at 130 am sooo sick. It turned out to be the worst stomach virus that I have ever had in my life. Several of my friends also came down with it on Sunday. I suffered at home for about 3 hours, before calling labor and delivery. They told me to come in right away, which we did. I cant remember ever being more miserable. I was immediately admitted to L&D for observation, fluids and medications. After nine hours, they finally got my vomiting stopped and sent me home. I was having contractions from the dehydration which scared me to death, but thankfully they stopped after Id received a bag of fluid. They tried a couple of meds to stop my vomiting, but in the end, they had to bend the rules a bit and give me a med via IV that wasnt really supposed to be given IV. They had to do something. I was just getting worse. It worked and I am thankful. They sent me home with more meds, but Ive not had to use them thus far. This morning I am feeling somewhat human, though my body is so sore and tender. I had some cereal for breakfast and my stomach isnt quite sure what to do with that. Im hoping with some rest and food, Ill be back up and running 100% by this afternoon.

So that's it for now. Ill be back next week!
Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review- The Discovery of Witches

Not my image

This book was amazing! Love, love, loved this book. 
It is the first in what is going to be a three book series and I simply can not wait
until the next two come out. I really dont want to wait until next year!

I thought of this book as a more grown up version of the popular young adults series 
out there right now like Twilight, The House of Night, etc. 
This book was much, much better than those, in my opinion. 

It follows a witch in England who is reluctant to use her powers due to certain horrors in
her past. One day, as she is doing research in a library, she comes across a very
unusual book that appears to be enchanted. She thinks nothing of it and sends it back to the
stack. From that moment on, her life changes drastically. 
She meets a very old, and of course gorgeous, vampire and an adventure ensures. 

It takes place in England, France and America and the author does a great job at describing 
each place in detail without letting it become boring. 
The cast of characters is entertaining and there isnt a dull moment in the entire book.

I highly recommend this book and give it an enthusiastic rating of 5 stars. 

Rating: *****

Rating Scale
*****: Amazing, wonderful, MUST-read, loved it!
****: Really liked it, would recommend, good book!
***: Liked it, enjoyable, but not the greatest book ever written. 
**: Not so great, some good parts, but overall, it was just ok. 
*: Didnt like it, wouldnt recommend it, bad book all around.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recipe of the Week

This week's recipe was a play on comfort food. I love chicken soup, but Im not a fan of the traditional chicken noodle soup from a can. Never have been. When I found this recipe though, I thought it looked like something I would love. Thankfully, I was right. It's a heart, yet healthy soup that J & I loved. We paired it with crusty bread and butter. It also kept well for leftovers.

Chicken and White Bean Soup
Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine


4-6 slices of bacon, chopped
12 ounces trimmed, chopped chicken breast
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. chopped tomato
1 T. oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 c. water
2 c. fat free chicken broth
2/3 c. uncooked orzo
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 T. parsley
1. T. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1. Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving the drippings; set bacon aside.
2. Add chicken to pan and cook until done. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until tender.
3. Add tomato, oregano and pepper to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return bacon and chicken to pan.
4. Stir in water and broth. Bring to a boil.
5. Add orzo and cook 9 minutes or until al dente. Add beans. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through.
6. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, vinegar and salt.
7. Serve with warm crusty bread and
8. Enjoy!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Prague II

After exploring the large square in Old Town and the Astronomical Clock, 
we made our way to the Charles Bridge. 
This is an impressive bridge. We enjoyed the views of the river and castle from the bridge
and the street performers lining the sides. 
The Charles Bridge
Before crossing over the bridge, J spotted a museum that he wanted to check out.
It sounded just crazy enough for me to want to see too.
The Torture Museum.
They had three floors packed with torture instruments used throughout the history 
of time. Throughout the tour, I dont think my sphincter relaxed for a minute and 
Im pretty sure I grimaced the entire time! 
It was very interesting though.
It was also a bit shocking to learn that some of these instruments were used as 
recently as the 1970s in Europe! 

The Witches torture chair
Cue sphincter tightening.
This was a long, suffering death
The Stretcher 
Female chastity belt
Male chastity belt!

Crossing the Charles Bridge
Another creepy Marionette shop

After lunch we made our way up to the Prague Castle. It is the largest castle 
in Europe! I wish we would have known that there is a tram that will
take you to the top. 
Instead, we walked up about a million stairs to get there. 
Ugh. I had to take a break every 24 steps or so. 

The looong way up
Happy once we'd reached the top
Gorgeous cathedral within the castle
It looks like the Notre Dame in Paris from the backside
The side of the cathedral
See the American Embassy on the left?
It's right across from the castle.

An interesting looking building

For lunch on our last day, we had Italian on a botel. 
What is a botel you might ask?
It's a hotel on a boat and they happened to have a fantastic 
restaurant on board. The food was delicious and the view was unbeatable. 

There's the baby bump!!! 
Inside of the botel's restaurant

Our floating restaurant

When J and I travel, we tend to spend the largest part of our money on food and drinks. We're big foodies and like to try new things. This trip we had traditional Czech food which was just ok really. Not bad, but not great either. We had Mexican at a restaurant right across from our hotel called Banditos. If you're ever in Prague, do NOT go here! We knew it was a risk, getting Mexican food in the Czech Republic, but the restaurant is owned by an American from San Diego. We thought it would be delicious. Wrong. We were very wrong. The food was sweet instead of spicy. The salsa was a sweet tomato mix and they made a peppers and onions mix that went on every dish that was very sweet. We were very disappointed. We also had British food at a restaurant down by the Charles Bridge and it was surprisingly very good! Our last meal there- at the botel- was also great, so two out of four meals were fantastic and two were not so great.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much to those of you who participated in this giveaway!
The winner of the $45 gift certificate is...

Domestic Diva! 

Congratulations! I've already got your email address, so Ill send you the information to 
claim your prize now. 

Happy Monday! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A few weekends ago we went to the Czech Republic for the first time. We stayed two nights/three days in Prague. We had a great trip and experiences some interesting new things, but I cant say that Id like to go back. I would love to tour more of the country though, and hope we have a chance to before we leave. Im going to break this post up into two since I have so many photos to share!

We stayed at an IBIS hotel. If you live in Europe or are going to visit 
at some point, I highly recommend these hotels. I first told you about
this hotel chain in this post.
Once again, it did not disappoint. It is incredibly inexpensive, clean, and has
secure parking and WiFi. The staff was also very friendly and
spoke English. If you're interested, their website can be found here.

Prague is divided into two districts, "Old Town" and "New Town".
We stayed in New Town this time, which was a 20-25 minute walk from Old Town.
This was fine as there were interesting things to see in New Town, but if we 
ever go back, we'll pay the extra money and stay in Old Town.

This country is know for its beer. Beer that is unfiltered and unpasteurized, which 
means that I couldnt even try a sip. Our first night, we had Czech 
food, which was interesting, but not great. The guys did enjoy a
flight of the local beers though. Their favorites were the wheat, coffee, dark and 
Oh how I wish I could have tried the banana beer! 

Flight of local beers

This was the Nettle beer and was definitely NOT a favorite.
I think they described it as tasting like dirty dishwater. Ick.

Dessert! Honey cake and an apple strudel. Both were delicious!

Gorgeous cathedral in New Town

One thing about Prague that I didnt like was that I didnt feel quite as safe here
as I do in most other large European cities. Nothing bad happened to us,
but we saw a few things that just creeped me out. 
For instance, the photo above is a museum, next to a very pretty little park. 
As we walked by, we noticed a man lying on the ground, surrounded by cops. 
The man on the ground not only looked homeless, he looked dead. 
As we continued to walk, not twenty yards away from the cops, a man was
standing next to a park bench with his sleeve rolled up, shooting up. 
As we moved past him, we noticed a car that had recently had its 
passenger window shattered. We were warned that car break-ins are 
very common in this city. After seeing this, we were very thankful that our 
hotel had secure indoor parking. 
This was all seen our first night in town. I was a little freaked out, but the rest of 
our trip was very uneventful, thankfully. 

One thing I wasnt prepared for was the sheer extent of the graffiti that covered
EVERYTHING. Almost every single building had some form of graffiti 
or another on it. It really took away from the beauty of the old buildings. I know that 
most large cities have graffiti, but Ive never seen it as extensive as this.

My fancy-schmancy freshly squeezed orange juice.

Puppets seriously creep me out. I think they are freaky little things.
I guess Ive seen too many scary movies/TV shows in which the bad guy is
a possessed puppet.
This marionette shops were on every street. Puppets must be huge here because
they were everywhere!

The Astronomical Clock in the center of Old Town

The figures moved when the clock struck the top of the hour

St. Nickolas's Church in Old Town
(See the smoke from the street vendors?)

Cool Darth Vader looking statue

A creepy marionette theater.
The skeleton has boobs!

We did see one image of graffiti that I actually really liked. 


Happy Sunday!