Sunday, June 1, 2014

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: May 2014

A photo of me:

1) Candle scents* this month:
Vanilla Cupcake. Drift Away. Honeydew Melon. Clean Cotton. Blueberry Scone. Strawberry Buttercream.

2) What I am reading this month (you can find me on Goodreads!):
A Killer Maize (Paige Shelton) - I'm very familiar with the characters and voice of this book, being the fourth in an ongoing series. I like the main character quite a bit. This installment kept me guessing right to the very end, worked in some interesting twists, and ended with a decision by the main character that I liked very much. Looking forward to the next book in this series.
The Love Season (Elin Hilderbrand) - Well...hmmm. I enjoyed so much of this book. The format in which it was written. The descriptions. The way the story was unwound, through the events of the single day in which the book took place combined with "memory flashbacks." All of that is enough to tip the balance in favor of four stars instead of three. But the ending felt both anticlimactic and forced to me. All that impressive construction of story and fabulous "picture painting with words" was reduced to a singular revelation that almost felt trite, in comparison. Had the first 270 pages not been as incredibly engaging as they were, I might have been trying to decided between a 2 or 3 star rating.
Peril in Paperback (Kate Carlisle) - This has been one of my favorite books, so far, from this series. There were multiple mysteries going on, but they were not tangled together, so it wasn't at all confusing. I really enjoy the recurring characters in this series as well. They are amusing and they grow in depth with each new book. The only problem I have is that I really like both Derek *and* Gabriel!
The Other Life (Ellen Meister) - Such a conundrum for me! The book sucked me in completely, as evidenced by the fact that I read two-thirds of it in half day. I was intrigued by the concept. It was chick lit meets the love child of sci-fi and fantasy. Dramatic and entirely unrealistic, yet compelling. That earns it a strong four stars from me. However, when I can't stop turning pages, and then I reach an ending that is entirely unsatisfying -- for someone who appreciates closure, this ending is a solid two stars -- I had to think long and hard about whether that would drag my overall rating down to a three. In the end, I left it at a four, but would it have killed the author, telling a story about the decisions made in a life, to actually leave the reader with some degree of resolution?
Blueberry Muffin Murder (Joanne Fluke) - I definitely had this one figured out long before whodunnit was revealed. That didn't make the remainder of the story any less amusing -- the characters take care of that -- but, though I'm not sure what exactly it was, there was a glaring tip-off for me and I had strong suspicions a little over halfway through.

3) Movies I saw:
Once again, no movies.

4) Calendar image for the month:

I feel like I am supposed to look at this image and see fresh spring air and warm sunshine and union with nature. What I really see are sunburns and being sweaty and worrying about ticks.

5) New recipes tried this month:
Garlic Parmesan Orzo - Super simple and *so* much flavor. This makes a great side dish.
Chicken Kiev - This one was T's baby. It involves some thinking ahead on the prep work, but it is so yummy that it's worth it!
Chicken-Mozzarella Pasta - This is a Pioneer Woman recipe. It was good but pretty basic. I almost felt like it was missing something, though I am not sure what I would add...

6) Restaurants where I ate:
Would you believe we ate at home every single day this month?

7) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Testing out the various flavors of Ben and Jerry's new "Core" line.

2. Fresh corn on the cob. It always seems so crazy to me that we get nice sweet corn down here in time for Memorial Day. My entire childhood, not even the earliest, not quite sweet enough varieties were ready before July 4!
3. A visit from T's sister and her husband. We have such great people in our lives. It's fun when they come for a visit!
4. Locking in on airfare. It makes an upcoming vacation seem so much closer!
5. The holiday weekend. Like that's any surprise.

8) Three goals I had this month and three goals for next month:
1. I need to start weeding through my nail polish, now that it's sandal season again, and tossing all the bottles that are goopy, separating, or so low in the bottle that they are a chore to use so I keep skipping over them anyway. (A success, as something of an ongoing project. Each time it was time to refresh my pedicure, I would go through another batch of colors, until I found one that was good. To date, I've tossed four old bottles and found one that was still salvageable with a wee bit of nail polish remover added to it to thin it out again. I'll just keep repeating this process til I've been through all the bottles. To my credit, and apparently the various manufacturers' as well, the three bottles I tossed for being too thick or separated to rescue were down to the dregs, maybe only two or three applications remaining, and they moved to Florida with me. For those of you counting, that was twelve years and two months ago, and they were not new bottles even then. I'd say I got my three dollars worth out of those bottles. Good thing I rarely buy trendy colors!)
2. I think it's time to invest in some more wooden hangers. (Done. Mentioned it to T, who immediately scored us a crazy good deal on eBay. Like, so good that there were too many to even fit in the closet right now. And for some perspective, the price he paid would have netted us maybe hangers from Target. Score!)
3. Eighteen magazines this month. I need to make up for lost time. There's no travel scheduled and other than plans for one weekend, I have nothing on the calendar. (I'm choosing to count this as success. I didn't reach eighteen, but I did reach thirteen. So there.)

1. This is less of a tangible To Do List goal and more of a buckle down sort. After the expenses of the bathroom project, we want to keep extraneous spending to a minimum for a while. Replenish the coffers, so to speak.
2. Make sure I dine at Kouzzina on Disney's Boardwalk one more time before they close for good.
3. The magic magazine number for this month: fifteen.

9) The best part of this month and the worst part of this month:
The best: My amazingly talented husband and the completion of our gorgeous new master bathroom!

The worst: And this is saying something, considering the Red Sox endured a ten game losing streak, including being swept by the Rays in Tampa. Six days of a dry hacking cough. The kind that is a vicious cycle of tickle that makes me cough which makes the tickle worse making me cough more to the point that I can't catch my breath, my eyes water profusely, I am dangerously close to puking, my stomach muscles are so sore I feel like I've been punched repeatedly in the gut for days and I'm worried I may crack a rib.

10) A photo I took this month:

It isn't technically perfect, but it's the sort of photo you only get one chance to capture, if you're lucky, and I am still amazed by it.

*All scents are Yankee Candle, unless otherwise noted.

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