Saturday, August 27, 2005

My own private library

So, I've been tagged by Lainey to talk about books. It's amazing that she knew to tag me ... we've never actually met, but she somehow knew that I'm a book lover too. The blog world is so small. So here we go.

1. How many books I own.
I couldn't even tell you, I have so many. My husband thinks I have too many, but I've always wanted my own library, and to be able to utter the words: I"'ll be in the library if anyone is looking for me." Of course, I'd have to say it in an English accent to sound pretentious and upper class! When we redid the office, he did finally convince me to get rid of some of the books I bought and hated, and some of my pregnancy books, which I don't need anymore. But I still have quite a few books.

2. The last book I bought.
I just bought Sophie Kinsella's "The Undomestic Goddess." She write such great "beach read" type books. She's the author of the Shopaholic books, which I loved. They're not great works of literature, but they're fun reads.

3. The last book I read.
Last week, before heading off to our little vacation, my husband and I stopped at the book store at our local library. They sell books that people have donated for about a dollar. I bought "The Emperor of Ocean Park," "Vinegar Hill," and the "Messiah Stones." I'd wanting to read the Emperor book since John Grisham recommended it on the Today Show. I haven't started it yet, but I will soon. I read Vinegar Hill while laying out at the pool last week. I should have known I'd hate it, since it was an Oprah book club book. It was just so damn depressing! I bought the Messiah Stones because it's a suspense book that revolves around the coming of Jesus. That topic always interests me. I hope it's good.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me.
I guess these would be my favorite books of all time. Otherwise, why would they mean a lot to me. My absolute favorite is "To Kill a Mockingbird." Of course I read it in high school and also saw the movie several times, but I re-read it a few years ago, and was just amazed at the writing style of Harper Lee. Her characters are just so unique and you can almost hear Scout narrating the book through the author's prose.

I also liked "The Red Tent." It's a fiction novel based on the biblical character Leah's daughter. It's based on the Bible, but there are fictional elements added in, almost to the point where you don't know what's real and what's not. It just gives a different perspective than the one we've read in the Bible.

I know that Lainey hated it, but I loved, loved, loved, "Kite Runner." While you really dislike the main character, it just gave me a different view of Afghanistan, and made me hate the plight of the people in the story who lived there. I just thought it was very well written, with several twists and turns throughout the story.

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," was one I didn't read until a few years ago, but it was such a great book. And one of my other favorite classics, is "Of Mice and Men." I've always wanted to read "Grapes of Wrath" to see if I liked it as much, but just haven't made the effort.

And while I've said my five, I just had to name a few of my favorite authors. I love anything by Barbara Kingsolver: Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, Prodigal Summer, etc. And Jodi Picoult is a new favorite who I discovered last year: The Pact, My Sister's Keeper, Vanishing Acts, Perfect Match, etc. Connie May Fowler is another good one, although many of hers are darker because of her abusive past. And my all-time favorite (although people say he's a hack) is Steven King. He just has an amazing ability, even still, to create books that are so different from each other. Yes, most of them are suspenseful (but not all ... many are surprised that he wrote Shawshenk Redemption and Stand By Me (his version was called The Body), and the Green Mile), but the characters are all so very different and the plotlines are always so original. He has an amazing gift as a writer. I'd love to have his talent.

5.) Five people I’ve tagged: (if you'd like to participate)
Undercover Celebrity
Karla Babble
Whoorl
Secret Agent Josephine
Mama

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Aaaaahhhhhhh

Here are some highlights from my anniversary weekend. It was awesome and exactly what we both needed to reconnect and realize why we married each other. Not that we'd forgotten, but with two kids, you tend to lose sight of each other sometimes.

Day 1

- Breakfast at the Ramos House in San Juan Capistrano. This was a tip from Undercover Celebrity, and boy was she right. Awesome food and a great location. It's basically this house that was built in 1881. The guy who lives there now (yes, he actually lives in the house) has opened up his front and side patios to serve breakfast and lunch to the lucky people who eat his food. We got to sit in the "love seat" which was a table for two in and enclave on the front patio (the only table there). We enjoyed the morning breeze from the ocean and watched kids ride their bikes down the street and mothers pushing strollers during their morning walk. We told the chef how much we enjoyed our breakfast, that it was our first time there, and that we'd definitely come back. "Right on," he said. (That got me thinking about words that I'd love to incorporate into my vocabulary, but that I'm just not cool enough to pull off. Like "right on," or calling people "cats." I know those are 70s terms that have made their way back into existence, but since I don't have tattoos or surf or skateboard, I'm not allowed to use those words. )

- Going to the horseracing track in Del Mar. I'd never been to the horse races and pictured it to be like the shoddy greyhound race track that I'd visited a few times while I lived in Florida. That consisted of grungy people from the local trailer park gambling their life savings to buy another beer. Del Mar wasn't anything like that. It was surrounded by palm trees and the ocean air gave off the most marvelous breeze. And the horses were beautiful, I'm sure better taken care of than most people. One of my favorite pasttimes is people watching, and there were a variety of people to look at, from the tattooed couple, to the old retired couple, to the group of guys from that movie "Boiler Room." You know the recently graduated frat guys who are offered a sales job with huge commissions and the guarantee of more to come. The guys who buy their suits from Half-Day Suit BRokers, with their giant silver watches, who stand with their hands on their hips like they're some 40-year-old man in an Armani suit and a Rolex. They were very entertaining. I won $25 on a $2 bet, and would have come out ahead on my gambling were it not for the stadium-priced beers ($7 a pop).

- Dining at Los Olas, a Mexican place down by the water. The food was great, but the only bad thing was trying to park in a crowded beach town. I'm not the best parallel parker, and it didn't help when the cars behind me would inch closer to me instead of just going around. When you're hungry and frustrated with the parking situation, it's not a good mix. "Come on, you @$#!^^%&, just go around! You're a @@$#%$#^!!!" My husband made fun of me for the rest of the trip.

Day 2

- While we had a nice breakfast overlooking the golf course and went to the outlets to shop for a while (outlets really aren't a great deal ... you just shop at higher-priced stores who mark things down to prices that you'd typically spend elsewhere. I ended up buying a pair of pants at the Gap that I think weren't any cheaper than if I'd just gone to the mall), the best part of the day was lounging at the pool drinking margaritas, listening to John Mayer being cranked out of the speakers at the pool. Ah, what a life.

- We had dinner at the over-priced resort restaurant. It may have cost a fortune, but it was soooo good. I had lobster ravioli that was amazing. But the best part was dessert. Tableside smores. They brought all the fixin's: graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows and roasting sticks. In the middle of the platter was a tiny firepit where we could roast our marshmallows and smash them into the chocolately goodness to create our own smores. Two words: Yum- mee.

- Sleep. Much to my husband's chagrine, I fell asleep at 9:30. And slept until 8:30 the next morning. I don't think I've gotten 11 hours of sleep ever. It was awesome!

Day 3

- I worked out in the morning at the resort gym. I took a 75-minute "extreme body sculpting" class. I cannot tell you how sore I am today, but I felt good finishing it. Although I must say that I hate watching myself exercise in the mirror. At some parts, I'd think "Wow, my arms look pretty good and muscular. " Then I'd look a the totally in-shape girl in front of me and think, "Oh, never mind." I saw her later at the pool, with her dark-tanned skin and perfect body. Thankfully we didn't sit very close to her.

- We went to the movies to see Skeleton Key. I liked it a lot. Very intriguing with a nice twist at the end. The only problem was that night, I woke up at 3 a.m. because my husband had fallen asleep with the lamp on (as he usually does). I turned it off and the room was pitch black. For the next hour, I couldn't sleep because I kept picturing scenes from the movie in my head. I eventually had to turn on the bathroom light.

- Speaking of the bathroom, it was beautiful. A giant bathtub, a glass and stone tile shower. It was almost as big as our bedroom in our house. Big fluffy robes to wear after a shower. I could definitely get used to that life.

- Going to dinner at our favorite microbrewery: Karl Strauss. After reviewing the menu, we decided to just have appetizers. There really is nothing better than buffalo wings, nachos and ice-cold beer (oh wait, Common Wombat hates when people say that ... I guess I should say very cold beer). From our table, we were able to see the fireworks from the nearby Legoland. It was a nice touch to our elegant dinner.

Day 4

- Today, I took a nice long bath to soothe my sore muscles, and then we headed home. We picked up Boogie and Dak and took them to the local burger joint for lunch. It was so good to see them after being gone so long. And while lunch was very different than the lunches and dinners we had during the past few days (talking about politics, current events, and catching up on each others lives), it was our family doing what we always do when we go out: being goofy, making a mess, toasting each other and sharing the love.

It's good to be home.