30 August 2009

The First Book Club Meetup

My book club has been the best thing that's happened to me since I've been living in Orlando. I wish I had thought of starting the club up back in February!

Needless to say the first Meetup was a huge success! We had 10 people show up to discuss Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451:

Fahrenheit 451

No one was too familiar with how to run a book club meeting, but everyone was really supportive of my role as the founder of the Meetup group. People voiced their opinions courteously, and everyone was very agreeable. The discussion itself was fantastic! I can't recall a time where I was so happy while talking about a book! It's nice to meet friends who also like to talk about books, haha! We posed questions to the group, soaked in other people's perspectives, and got to know one another a little, too. Afterwards some of us headed over to Barnes & Noble and chit chatted a bit.

The next book wasn't determined right away. Everyone present wrote down 2 books they'd like the group to read, then 3 cards were drawn from a hat. Of those 6 books we took a vote, and Nina's suggested Stranger in a Strange Land came out on top. I picked up the book late last week and am excited to read it!

We're already talking about meeting on Sundays for brunch and the farmer's market, a trip to Busch Gardens, a visit to Melbourne for a beach and surf day, etc.! It's fabulous to have met such a wonderful group of young people!

In a few weeks' time I'll be hosting a movie night to watch the 60s film of Fahrenheit 451. Also, there's an outing to see The Time Traveler's Wife at the cinema. And, of course, the book club meeting for September's book.

Oh, this all makes me so happy!


My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This lady here is Jodi Picoult:

Jodi Picoult

Earlier in the summer I had the pleasure of devouring her book, My Sister's Keeper, in just a few days:

My Sister's Keeper

IMDB Article

Official Movie Site

First off, this book was emotional. Jodi really pulls you in and gives you reason to care about her characters. Not to mention the controversial situation the story revolves around (a girl is conceived as a perfect match donor for her older sister who has a rare and aggressive form of cancer). By the end of the first chapter I was hooked.

I enjoyed how Picoult portrayed the passage of time, and how the story was told through different character's points of view with the changing of the chapters. Throughout the story there is a developed theme of fire, and I found that to be very well integrated with the story and even the characters and their situation. Jodi also weaves astrology into the story. I never figured out which of the two sisters was the bigger star... Hard to tell, and arguable both ways.

I was pleasantly surprised when there was a kangaroo reference, haha. Yay for Australia! Jodi does well with presenting issues which are black, white and so many which are grey. I'm still undecided on how I stand, personally, with regards to designer babies... If I was Kate's parents, I really couldn't tell you what call I would make about having Anna or not. It's just a terrible situation to find oneself. Anyway, the twist at the end is what jerks the heart the most, but I really liked the ending. I figure it was best for both sisters in the long run.

Tiffany and I had been trying to see the movie in theatres together, but we weren't able to before the movie left theatres, so we fully intend to have a movie night when the flick is available on DVD!


The Beach House, Jane Green

Meet Jane Green:

Jane Green

She authored "The Beach House":

The Beach House

I read this nice, light, summery read for a book club I recently joined. One of my managers at Lockheed Martin, Penny, invited me to join her book club, and I was more than happy to do so! The book club was all sorts of goodness: I met several wonderful ladies and an adorable baby girl, I learned about some about life as a woman, had a delicious home-made pot luck meal, and chatted about the book ever-so briefly. I missed this month's book club because my brother has been in town, but I'm hoping to make it to the next one, even though I'll be readying myself to leave town for Maryland the same weekend. We'll see if I can swing it.

This was my first Jane Green book. Overall impression: okay story; predictable and lacked some character development. I did quite like how Jane wove characters lives together. And I admired Nan's spunk, wisdom and ability to accept things and people for what and who they were. I also liked how the beach house itself was characterized.

The moral of the story, in my opinion, was this: life continues, and friends are our family whom we can choose.

As a side note, I would love to visit Nantucket after having read this book!


Mom's Summer Visit

As you can see, I'm very behind in my blogging as of late. I'm catching up, so forgive the lack of stories, detail, etc. Hopefully that's okay because you're getting a straight feed of photos and captions - I think that's what folks like to see most. = )

Mom making us a delicious breakfast

At Cocoa Beach, PRE-thunderstorm, haha; here Mom is just before she transformed into the Sand Monster

Mom helped me give Raven a bath

Mom & I at The Lodge, downtown, for the 80s Bar Crawl; we had a rickshaw ride and met Yum Yum, haha!

Mom enjoying the porch for a little patio picnic we had one afternoon

Lounging around; she helped me furnish my apartment, yet again, with some throw pillows

Mom & I at Paradise Beach; it was a PERFECT beach day; we had so much fun in the waves!

Mom, Aunt Joan and I with a gorgeous, fire-y orange sunset after a lovely home-cooked meal in Melbourne

During Mom's visit Sam was in Fargo, ND for a wrestling tournament. Dad snapped this amazing photo of Sam perfectly executing a suplex!


In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

This is Mr. Bill Bryson:

Bill Bryson

I "met" him through a dear friend of mine, Kristin Folden. She mentioned his US travel book, A Walk in the Woods oh, about a year ago, and it's been on my list of books to read ever since (it's a long list, I tell you). At her and Aric's wedding she presented me with another Bryson book: In a Sunburned Country.

In a Sunburned Country

Considering that I'd been to Australia, a whopping year ago - so hard to believe that fact - I felt it appropriate to escalate the priority of reading In A Sunburned Country. So I did. And I was quite impressed. Bryson is one of the most humorous and friendly writers I've had the pleasure of reading. His stories and perspectives are interesting, and he tells stories splendidly.

I was really excited to read the book because I knew it would be like a memory-trip back to the grand world Down Under, and it was quite so. I loved reading every chapter and hearing about the places I'd visited and especially the places I'd been unable to visit. I learned a lot from Bill, too, and enjoyed recollecting my own personal travels in Australia.

I enjoyed reading all of Bryson's statistics. From animals to population to land mass to various comparisons to plants, Bryson put Australia into perspective with numbers. He painted such an accurate picture of the folks in Australia, too: so friendly, willing and kind to even strangers, their attitudes towards different things, even their fellow citizens who lived in different states. I was surprised to learn that Queenslanders were regarded as the quirky ones, haha.

I loved his stories from boogie boarding to being chased by dogs to the different folks he met along his journeys to all the parks and various sights he saw.

It was indeed a fantastic book for me to read, having spent 6 wonderful months in the lovely country. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in Australia, especially interested in visiting Down Under.



13 August 2009

OMG, I Bought a TV

I know it's hard to believe, folks, but it's true. Honest!

It's a 32" Sylvania HDTV, 2 HDMI, and I forget the other details. It's been a little while since I bought it: I waited to post this until both Mom and Sam visited, so I could surprise them with the TV.

I don't really have the greatest reasons for making such a big purchase...

Reason 1) I was tired of watching movies on my laptop.
Reason 2) My mom expressed interest in my having a TV for when she visits me.
Reason 3) With TV being such a standard pass-time among so many people, friends wouldn't want to come back to my apartment after observing that I didn't have a TV, haha. I don't want to be thought of as a complete nut. = P

Anyway, there you have it. My budget allowed it, and it has been nice to have a 32" screen to watch movies on rather than huddling over my little laptop screen. I still don't watch TV, although my apartment provides it for free. It's there if I need the news or weather.

Next I'll be investing in a BluRay player and an audio system.

just after having lugged the boxes up 3 stories (thanks for your manly assistance, Aric!)

Kristin & I putting the TV stand together

using the clicker for the first time


09 August 2009

He Doesn't Like Tea

Sam's visit so far has been quite a good time! It's been lovely having him as a guest in my home and city and state. = )

He got in Thursday evening, and professed that he was starving and craving some Chinese food. We stumbled upon a tasty buffet that proved to be perfectly satiating. We got back to my apartment, I gave him the grand tour, he exclaimed how he loved it. It was a fun surprise for him that I had recently invested in an HDTV that could be used for his Xbox gaming antics. The only thing was Ashes' reaction to Sam, haha. The cat went into hiding immediately and would hiss at Sam when we tried to get Ashes out from under the beds. I'd never seen my beloved feline act in such a way, but whatever behavior that was seems to have gone. It was bizarre, I tell you, but all is well now between the two males. (Silly males...)

After Sam got settled into his quarters we went to see The Hangover. Absolutely hilarious! I loved Allen the best, haha! We were laughing throughout the entire film. Loved it. Sam and I were quoting it the rest of the night!

Friday I went to work and had a really dull time at the dentist in the afternoon. Sam slept until 1 or 2 and gamed the rest of the evening. That evening I decided I would purchase a Blu Ray DVD player to take full advantage of my HDTV. Naturally I had to buy my first Blu Ray DVD: Batman Begins. So Sam got to partake in the breaking in of my latest piece of technology and see an awesome movie (how he hadn't seen the entire movie before, I do not know). We stayed up until 3 AM, haha.

Saturday morning we hit Paradise Beach. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and the waves were absolutely enormous! I'd never seen them so huge. We played in them for a good while before we tuckered out and retired to layout and relax. Neither of us were burnt; quite happy about that.

Sam & I at Paradise Beach, Melbourne

yours, truly

After the beach we stopped by our Aunt Joan's house so I could work on her computer (dead hard drive). While there I shared Aunt Joan's Ice Cream Sandwiches treat with Sam (it would have been wrong of me not to). Upon returning to Orlando we had some Taco Bell that we had at my apartment complex's poolside. Turns out some of my friends from work who recently moved into my complex were hanging out at the pool. Sam and I enjoyed their company, and I proved myself in a little freestyle race, hehe. I tried to warn Jeremy that I was a bit experience in the great sport of swimming. = P Afterwards Sam and I hung out at the apartment and I got some good reading in for my first book club Meetup. I'm about half-way through Fahrenheit 451 now. I really like it, but more on that later.

Today the two of us spent our day at Busch Gardens, Tampa. Boy, was it fun! It had been a few years since I'd been to a theme park, and who better to spend a roller coaster day with than my baby brother!

Sam & I on the tram to the entrance of Busch Gardens, Tampa

I think SheiKra was our favorite; we rode it twice we liked it so much! It's a short ride, but totally awesome because of the straight-down drops!

The Big Drop on SheiKra

Busch Gardens is a great park because there is more than just roller coasters and miscellaneous rides (the Flight of the Phoenix was my second favorite, by the way - think Kings' Island's Viking Ship but one that goes all the way upside down and in full circle!). Anyway, Busch Gardens is also a zoo! I was like a little kid when we passed by the safari animals on the train ride! Elephants, rhinos, ostrich, giraffe (my favorite this time - usually it's tigers/lions but we only saw one tiger), zebra, an ant eater, and, of course, crocs and gators! I really liked the flamingos, too!

me with the flamingos

Everywhere you looked there were topiaries! I liked the tiger and the lion the best.

Me with the terrifying tiger topiary

Sam & I at the end of the day, next to the majestic lion topiary


PS - in case you're wondering what the title of this entry has to do with anything, Sam and I had a candid conversation where he stated how he didn't like any type of tea. The way in which he stated it was very funny because it was exactly like Bubba explaining all the types of shrimp meals his momma could cook up. = ) Tea has become a bit of a running joke for me and Sam.

Folden Visit

Over the Fourth of July weekend some very dear friends of mine stopped in for a lovely visit. It was such a treat to have Kristin & Aric as guests for a few days. It was ungodly hot on the Fourth of July, but we strolled around Lake Eola and took in some of the festivities (including fishy caramel popcorn - ugh, haha!), and then I showed them my favorite place in Orlando: The Drunken Monkey, a fantastic coffee house that I frequent often. It was there that I taught Aric how to play Backgammon. We also "had" to bum around our beloved Waterford Lakes Town Center Barnes & Noble!

By the way, I've never seen Ashes take to people so well as he took to Kristin & Aric. They loved him and he sure did enjoy their company. I loved watching the three of them "race" to Ashes' "room," haha! Too funny!

The next day the Foldens (awe, it sounds so pleasant, doesn't it? The Foldens...) joined me at church. Afterwards they helped me tackle the acquisition of a TV. Aric was very manly and brought it up three flights of stairs to my apartment; the stand, too, which was considerably heavier than the TV. While Kristin and I assembled things, Aric made Folden Chili (sans corn, hehe), and it was delicious! He made lots so that I'd have some to eat through my coming work week. That evening we watched Sunshine on my brand new HDTV and I taught Kristin to play Backgammon (she came around to it) while we did Queen Helene Mint Julep facial masks.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful weekend. = )

Kristin & I

Mr. & Mrs. Folden


04 August 2009

Imogene Scarflette

Here is a photo of my latest scarflette that is available on Etsy. Click the image to see more photos and the item details in my Etsy shop.


02 August 2009

Vogue Sunglasses

I just wanted to share how much I appreciate my Lockheed Martin benefits. I received a free $99 pair of Vogue sunglasses through my eye care plan with LM. How awesome is that? I love the pair I chose:

Vogue Sunglasses, Violet

Happy summer and keep those eye balls protected properly!


01 August 2009

Prime Outlets with JZ

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my good friend, Jared Zachary. He was in need of some new clothing, and he invited me along to the Prime Outlets on the West side of Orlando. I, too, was in need of some new clothing (particularly for work), so I accepted his invitation.

We started the afternoon off with a delicious lunch at Brio in Winter Park. I think Brio is my favorite Italian restaurant here in Orlando. After that we drove down I-4 to do some shopping. I am proud to report that I lasted about 3 hours, haha. That's pretty good for me.

He was able to acquire several shirts, jeans and shoes to meet his shopping needs. And I'm very happy with my similar purchases. Among the days shopping, here are my two most favorite buys:

Clarks Ashford, Brown - Clarks shoes are so darned comfortable, it's just insane; I couldn't pass up these adorable ballet slipper shoes

J. Crew Corduroy Pants, Grey - For years I've had my eye out for a nice pair of Cords that fit, and, finally, voila! Got 'em! Now I just need that cooler weather to waltz into the the up-coming season