2011 Wrap Up Post

Happy New Year!

2011 was a great year of reading, but not a good year of blogging for me! I read some wonderful books, mostly due to the 2011 Books on the Nightstand Book Retreat. I did not quite meet my goal of 41 books, only hitting 36 books.

My favorite reads of the year (in no particular order):

  • The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
  • The Night Strangers, by Chris Bohjalian, 400 pages, October 2011, NOOK
  • Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, 391 pages December 22, 2011 NOOK
  • Something Missing, by Matthew Dicks
  • Kings of the Earth, by John Clinch, 393 pages, February 22, 2011
  • House Arrest, by Ellen Meeropol
  • Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, 398 page, January 19, 2011
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green, 178 pages, January 25, 2011 (e book)
  • Unexpectedly, Milo, by Matthew Dicks

I did not too well with my reading challenges. The only 2 challenges I completed were the e-book challenge, reading 17 books on my NOOK, and the Books on the Nightstand Retreat Author Reading Challenge.

I’m looking forward to another year  of good books. Since I’m going to the 2012 Books on the Nightstand Booktopia event again this year, I know I will have pile of new books and authors to read.

What were some of your favorite reads of the year?

Read-a-thon: Updates

I’m updating the read-a-thon in this post. Scroll down for earlier updates.

Hour 14

I’m still loving Ready Player One but I think I need to turn in for the night. I may be able to get in some more reading in the morning.  Happy reading everyone!


Hour 13  Mid Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I’m loving it! It’s so different from anything I’ve read before, with lots of references to the 80’s.
2. How many books have you read so far?  I haven’t finished any books! I’ve read parts of 2 different books.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I’m hoping to continue reading Ready Player One.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? No, it turned out to be a day that I was going to be home.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? A few interruptions, I considered them breaks.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How fast the day has gone by!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Love it!
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I did both this year, and I’m not sure what I would do differently. Oh I know, I wish I had some graphic novels.
9. Are you getting tired yet? Yes, I”m not sure how much later I’ll be up.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Have fun!

Hour 9:   I thought I should take some time and update how I was doing on the read-a-thon. I ended up taking a few breaks and having more interruptions that I expected but I’ve been enjoying my relaxing day. I started out by reading 120 pages of Solar by Ian McEwan. Then, I felt that I needed a break from that and I started Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’m only up to page 35 in this one, but it looks really good.

I also took some time to cheer on some of the other readers which  was a lot of fun. And… I won a prize for being one of the cheer leaders. Woo hoo!

The dogs have been very cuddly and I’ve enjoyed my soup and a few snacks. I may need a little snooze in a bit, but Ready Player One is calling me right now.

Read-a-thon: Introductory Post

It’s the start of the Read-a-thon! Woo hoo! The timing is perfect for me because I have a dog who had a lump removed yesterday and is still woozy from the sedative. So, a quiet day of reading works out well for us.

1)Where are you reading from today?

I’ll be alternating between my chair and couch in my cozy living room in Vermont. I’m sure my chocolate labs will curl up on my lap throughout the day.

2)Three random facts about me…

  • My favorite colors are green and black.
  • I made a yummy soup yesterday – I will be snacking on it off and on all day today!
  • I’m the team captain of my family’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team.

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

I took 2 books out of the library yesterday, but I also have a couple on my NOOK I haven’t gotten to yet and a few other real books on my nightstand waiting to be read. So… I guess the pile keeps getting bigger.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
My goals are to enjoy the day reading and for the first time I am also cheerleading.

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Have fun!

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon October 2011

My first post since school began back at the end of August! Woo hoo! I’m finally keeping my head above water and I’m hoping to post more regularly.

Next weekend is Dewey’s Read-a-Thon. I’m looking forward to a weekend of curling up with good books on the couch. I’ve only finished one book since school began. I’m hoping the read-a-thon will give me a good block of time to read an additional book or two. Soon I’ll be heading over to the library to get a pile of books to choose from. I know I want to grab  a couple of graphic novels, a young adult book or two, and a novel. I have a book on my NOOK I’ve also been wanting to read… but digital library books keep coming in so I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. What books do you have planned for the read-a-thon?

One Thousand Words (almost) on the Character of Marinades

Do your marinades, condiments, and sauces have character? I’m not talking in terms of flavor, I mean are they an actual character?

I was riding in my friend’s car last week on our way home from a movie when we started talking about our favorite marinades and grilling sauces. She loves Original State Fair Spiedie Sauce. We never knew how to pronounce it, so we just called it “Speedy.”  We both loved it. As soon as summer would roll around, we would get our grills ready and start stocking up on good old Speedy. Then, one day we discovered State Fair Lemon Garlicious, a different marinade made by the same company, a lemon garlic one! We started calling that sauce, “Speedy’s Friend.” This marinade became my favorite one. Another time we discovered a third sauce, State Fair Chicken Bar-B-Que Sauce. This sauce was quickly dubbed, “Speedy’s Friend of a Friend.” (For the record, neither of us liked this one.)

Now that I’ve introduced you to the three sauces, let’s get back to last week’s car ride. We were hungry, talking about what each of were going to make for dinner that night. This food discussion led to talking about Speedy, Speedy’s Friend, and Speedy’s Friend of a Friend. During one of my comments, I referred to Speedy as a “he.” My friend wondered out loud if other people refer to their marinades as he or she. We both agreed that Speedy is a guy. I was surprised that I also had a very clear view of what I  thought Speedy looks like. I view him as a short, stocky man, maybe with a mustache, looking a bit like Luigi from Super Mario Brothers. My friend viewed him as a tall, athletic guy. We both had very vivid images of what he looks like. But we could accept the other person’s visualization.

We didn’t agree on anything with Speedy’s Friend. I feel Speedy’s Friend is also a guy. He is tall, wears a baseball cap (either blue or yellow) and he is  younger than Speedy. They are friends. He walks with long strides, while Speedy has more of a quick waddle, with his arms pumping as he moves. My friend feels Speedy’s Friend is a female. Very quickly, we both started talking at the same time, trying to convince the other about the gender of Speedy’s Friend. My friend feels that  Speedy’s Friend is a female because it is so lemony and lemons can be delicate. But I feel the flavor isn’t so much lemony as it is LEMONY! I mean, this marinade is full of flavor. It’s bold. It’s strong. I think it can be lemony as well as being male. My friend was just as sure in her choice of Speedy’s Friend being female. This discussion went on for several miles, with no compromise in sight.

Today I saw my friend again and she brought up the Speedy discussion. She said she had shared our conversation with her next door neighbor. This neighbor also uses the marinades, so she is familiar with them. She agreed that Speedy is a male and she also felt he was short and stocky. Woo hoo!

Next came the moment of truth. How did the neighbor view Speedy’s Friend? She agreed with me! Yep, she also felt Speedy’s Friend is a male, a tall, younger male. Yippee!

Last night, I shared this discussion with my sister. She also uses both of these grilling sauces and very quickly came up with her interpretation of each marinade’s gender. She felt Speedy was a male because this marinade separates and looks all disheveled when it sits in your refrigerator. This is in contrast to Speedy’s Friend, who doesn’t separate. Kelly, my sister, felt that Speedy’s Friend always looks “put together.” It doesn’t separate as much and always looks presentable. In Kelly’s opinion this makes Speedy’s Friend a girl. She did not have physical descriptions of them, maybe she will come up with that later. I promise I will share Kelly’s interpretation with my friend.

Have you ever thought about the character of your favorite marinades, grilling sauces, or foods? When I found the Rob Salamidia website (the company that makes Speedy, Speedy’s Friend, and Speedy’s Friend of a Friend) as I wrote this post, I saw all the other sauces, rubs, and spices that they have. Now I want to try more and see what other characters they have! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

If you haven’t tried these sauces and marinades I highly recommend it. Invite Speedy’s Friend over for a yummy chicken or pork dinner. You won’t be disappointed! If you have tried these before, let me know what your interpretation is of their character.

disclaimer:  No marinades, seasonings, or grilling sauces were harmed in the writing of this blog post.


This post isn’t 1000 words long, it’s short by about 200 words. Bummer!


One Thousand Words on One Degree

My family and I went on vacation last week. My parents took my sister’s family and me to Foxwoods in CT. My sister and I spent quite a bit of time before the trip planning out the stuff we would do while we were there.

A couple of months ago, I was searching the Foxwoods website when I discovered The Bacon Brothers would be in concert there. This concert was free for Dream Card members (cards you can get when you visit the casino). I immediately called Kelly, my sister, and we made plans to go. We set a goal to meet Kevin Bacon and get a picture with him to prove our one degree of separation.

Finally, the week of our vacation came and it was the night of the concert. We wanted to go down and line up early because our tickets did not give you assigned seats. We couldn’t believe how long the line was at 5:45 already! (The concert started at 7:00.) We got in line and waited patiently.

Finally, the doors opened. We couldn’t wait to see if we could get some really close seats… we just had to meet Kevin Bacon! Ahead of us, we watched this elderly lady with two-toned colored hair and her husband who walked with a cane. They handed their tickets to the ticket lady and then Two-Tone took off like a bat out of hell, leaving her husband behind. Later we saw her up in the first row. Luckily her husband eventually caught up with her.

When we got into the theater, we scoped out the seats. First we chose some in the center, about 10 rows from the front. Then we saw 2 seats in the second row on the left hand side of the stage. Second row… that’s pretty close to Kevin Bacon! We grabbed those seats. In front of us, was a man with his daughter. We started chatting with them since we had an hour to kill before the concert started.

It turns out this guy is a reporter for a local paper. He has been following the band for years. He knew a lot of interesting facts and trivia about the band and Kevin Bacon. Can you name five Oscar winning films that Kevin Bacon has been in? He then had his daughter pull out her cell phone and show us her gallery of Kevin Bacon photos. They had photos of her from about age 9 to present with Kevin Bacon. Reporter guy then continued to talk about his time spent with Kevin Bacon while continually sharing more and more trivia about Kevin. Instead of a reporter, this guy started to sound more like a Kevin Bacon stalker. Reporter Stalker Guy said there was a chance he could get my sister and me back stage to meet Kevin. We thanked him and said that would be great (refer back to our main goal of the night) but we both knew that it probably wouldn’t happen.

Stalker Guy then pointed to someone over in the second row dead center. He said, “Doesn’t that guy look a lot like Kevin Bacon.” We looked over and there was a guy that did look so much like Kevin! He had Kevin’s nose and a short hair cut like in some of his movies. It was eerie. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for Kevin up on stage, looking out into the audience and seeing his doppelganger right in front of him. How freaky!

Finally the concert started. There we were… so close to Kevin Bacon! Stalker guy, Two-Tone, and Kevin Bacon Double seemed to all be enjoying the show. Actually, Kevin Bacon Double just sat there, staring at Kevin, with his chin on his hands. Kelly and I had a blast, singing along with the songs. The show ended and Stalker Guy said he didn’t think he could get us in. My sister and I headed off to get some dinner. We didn’t meet Kevin, but we were very close to him. It was a good night.

The next morning, we got up and headed to the opposite end of the resort to get our morning coffee and breakfast. It’s mile from one end to the other, so we decided to get my brother-in-law’s coffee closer to our room after we got our breakfast at Panera’s. On our way back, my sister noticed one of the band members sitting outside the gelato place. We decided to keep our eyes opened for Kevin… maybe the band was getting an early start on the road.

We started to pass the door to our elevators to go to the nearby coffee place, when Kelly saw Kevin turn into the elevators. I grabbed Kelly, told her we weren’t getting the coffee, and we went right to the elevators. We got into the elevator with Kevin, a woman, and a guy. The door closed and I look over at Kevin and told him how much I enjoyed the concert. He was only on the elevator for 2 floors but we chatted while he was on the elevator. When he got off the woman asked me who that was and then she was so surprised and angry at herself for not knowing it was him.

Kelly and I were so excited! We ran down to our rooms and told the rest of the family. We met our goal… we were one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon! I bet Stalker Guy, Two-tone, and Kevin Bacon Double would be so jealous. We didn’t get a picture with him, but we ended up with a great story of our adventure. My poor brother-in-law ended up without a coffee.

So now Kelly and I are wondering what our goal will be for next summer. Who should we try to meet? Maybe next year we will get a picture.

Oh, the answer to Stalker Guy’s trivia question:
JFK, Mystic River, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, A Few Good Men

One Thousand Words on Summer

This topic was inspired by Heather’s post on vacation. I’m a teacher so I get the summers off. I do usually teach summer school and tutor, but it’s not the same as the hectic work schedule of the school year. This change of pace gives summer a completely different feel to it. This change is so abrupt! One day is a work day filled with nonstop moving, and the next day… vacation – a blank page before me. I love summer! Here are some of the reasons why.

  •     No winter jackets – I love being able to just walk out the door without a bulky, winter coat. No need to but on boots, mittens, hat, or a scarf. I love the lightness of summer clothing! I love my shorts and tank tops. I love my sandals and the feeling of the sun on my skin. It’s so nice to not have the extra bulk of all that winter gear on my body.
  •     Reading on the deck – The very first nice day of summer (or spring) I carry my lounge chair up from the basement and out of its winter hibernation. The chair and I settle back out into the world. I grab my sunglasses, my current book, my iPod, and my dog. Tessa will play fetch for hours while I read. If I get too hot, and ice water doesn’t do the job, I grab a frozen Flavor Ice Pop from  the freezer. Reading on the deck is one of my all time favorite summer activities.
  •     Beach – I live very close to a wonderful beach on the lake. I love going there with my friend or even by myself. I grab a book, a cooler with fruit and water, and an inflatable lounger so we can float on the lake. It is so relaxing! I truly feel like I’m on summer vacation when I’m at the beach. The breeze coming off the lake helps to keep me cooler than on my deck and of course the lake itself is a great way to cool off!
  •     Walks – I have much more time to go for my walks. I love being able to go first thing in the morning, and then even getting in a second walk later in the day! Walking around my neighborhood is so relaxing. I put on my favorite tunes or podcasts and off I go! Sometimes one of the dogs goes with me but often times in the summer it is just too hot for them. They would love to come… but you can see the heat really getting to them.
  •     My own schedule – This is one of my favorite things! During the school year, my day is so scheduled. I love being able to do things when I want to do them. I can have a snack when I want to, eat meals when I want to. It’s also very nice to be able to go to the bathroom when I want to; I don’t have to wait for another adult to come in and stay in the classroom while I go! That is pure freedom! I normally am a person that gets up early, I like to enjoy the quiet, morning hours. But during the summer I also enjoy staying up a little later at night, still getting up early in the morning, but being able to sneak in a little down time during the afternoon.  Ahhh, summer.
  •     Summer food – I love grilled corn on the cob. Yum! There is also nothing like locally grown tomatoes. I have a great recipe for “no cook spaghetti sauce” made with fresh tomatoes. I just love it! Another summer time meal that I enjoy is gazpacho, a cold tomato based soup. I do enjoy summer time meals. Besides meals, the super fresh produce of summer is just so good. I don’t have a garden anymore, but just being able to buy locally grown produce at the grocery is
  •     Summer beverages – I am hooked on ice coffees! (Is it ice coffee of iced coffee?)My mom has one of those Keurig machines which makes ice coffee whenever you want it. I go through so many ice coffees when I’m down there – it’s embarrassing! Another favorite summer time drink is lemonade. This is another beverage that I can just sit and drink all day. It’s so refreshing and tastes like summer.
  •     Going to the movies – I don’t often have time during the school year to go to the movies, but I can fit it in during the summer. I love going to  the movies. I love movie popcorn, even though it is so bad for you, it tastes so good! I’m not even up on what movies are coming out this summer, but I know I will be going to see a couple of them.
  •     Time with family and friends – I like that when I get together with family and friends it is during  more relaxed times in the summer. During the rest of the year, it seems like all the big family gatherings are around the holidays. We have a great time during those get togethers, but they are not as relaxing as during the summer when we get together with each other just to be together. We can play horseshoes, bocce, or corn hole. We can stay up late playing poker or just hang out chatting.

Even though I love summer, I know I’m someone who couldn’t live where summer is the only season. I enjoy the change of seasons and I need the contrasts among all the seasons to help me appreciate the differences that each season can bring. I hope everyone gets to enjoy summer. You know what I’ll be doing: curling up with a good book on the deck, sipping an ice coffee, and enjoying some yummy food. What are some of your favorite things about summer? I hope you get to go do some this week!