Monday, May 30, 2011

Music to My Ears

Since my last "new music" update of February 5 I've been able to get me some fine new tunes.  Three online sources and two people made it possible.  There's R&B/Soul, Blues Rock, Alternative, and Pop.  Something for nearly every mood!


*21 (OUTSTANDING album!  Rumor Has It, Rolling in the Deep, Set Fire to the Rain, and Turning Tables are my personal faves so far. Thanks Mary!)

Dan Auerbach

*Keep it Hid (As much as I LOVE The Black Keys I had to have Dan's solo album - my faves so far, I Want Some More, The Prowl, and Street Walkin'.)

Foo Fighters

Learn to Fly (A Rock Band fave. Thanks Honey!)

Lady Gaga

Poker Face (Probably my favorite pop song and definitely my favorite Lady Gaga tune.)
*Born This Way (Yep, 99 cents at Amazon - couldn't go wrong! You and I is my favorite.)

Jimmy Eat World

The Middle (A Rock Band fave. Thanks Honey!)


Here it Goes Again (A Rock Band fave. Thanks Honey!)

Pearl Jam

Just Breathe (Heard this at the end of the Castle episode, "To Love and Die in L.A." Even with dialog over the music Shazam identified it.  This song is AMAZING!)


Creep (Shoulda had this long ago.  After hearing "Messer" sing it to Sophie in the movie Life as We Know It, I made sure I did!  Thanks Honey!)

The Script

*Science & Faith (A consistently good sound, but without the standouts of their debut self-titled album.)

Music Videos

* denotes entire album

What say you?  What are you listening to these days?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vegan Dessert: Orange Chocolate Muffins

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is the third time I've made this recipe, which is from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes book by Kris Holechek.  One large navel orange yielded a lot of juice and zest to make them flavorful, while the semi-sweet chocolate chips made them gooey inside! 

Here's a hint...they come out of the cupcake liners much easier several hours after cooling.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Turbulence and Tranquility

"The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil water-way leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky - seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."  ~ Joseph Conrad

Digital photograph of the Rappahannock River by Virginia Hill taken with a BlackBerry Style 9670 on May 19, 2011. Some Rights Reserved (please see Creative Commons License in the sidebar.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Bright Side

"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down.  Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."  ~ G.K. Chesterton

Digital photograph by Virginia Hill taken with a BlackBerry Style 9670 on 05/17/2011. Some Rights Reserved (please see Creative Commons License in the sidebar.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review: The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer

Title: The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide (hardcover)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 04/12/2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): Reference


This must-have hardcover edition--the only official guide--is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook—essential for every Twilight Saga fan—is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.


It was on my wish list for TWO YEARS so there were unrealistic expectations that I couldn't help. (It better be perfect for how long we're having to wait!) The companion guides I've read/browsed have collectively not been page turners. I was concerned that there wouldn't be anything new to discover in the guide when it was finally released. After all, like other 'Twi-hards' I've read innumerable articles both in print and on the Internet. I've watched tons of interviews on television, on the DVDs, and online. I have to say I am only minimally disappointed. The book is marked by scores of colorful Post-It Flags. A testament to all the Twilight Trivia introduced to me in this eagerly awaited book. Hooray! The book is beautiful to look at from the glossy black cover and familiar font to the bright white paper. I was looking for more elegant illustrations, but the graphics are pleasing enough. My favorite sections were the Cullen and human biographies, Key Plot Points, and Inspirations.

Now that I'm done my daughter can read it. She's been waiting like "forever," which translates to the twenty-five days I've had my bookmark in it.

Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Sugar Queen
Series: Standalone
Author: Susan Addison Allen
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Published: 05/21/2008
Publisher: Bantam
Genre(s): Contemporary Fantasy


In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return, she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’ s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.


It took me two weeks to finish this small book. I was continually being distracted by other things. I can't say if that was completely due to the book's not holding my interest or because I subconsciously wanted a break from reading. Maybe I simply assigned a higher priority to those other things. It's not like I don't find some fantasy intriguing but I seemed to have more difficulty with the quirky "magic" the characters in The Sugar Queen had versus the other two Sarah Addison Allen books I read: Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I'm not going to offer any spoilers I just feel these mystical occurrences distracted me from the human emotions and kept me from feeling a strong literary attachment to the characters. I did find the story imaginative and original, just not enough to rate it any higher.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vegan Dessert: Chocolate & Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate-y (cocoa), fudge-y (chocolate chips), and coconut-y (unsweetened organic coconut) goodness with loads of oats and a hint of almond extract. They are scrumptiously delicious and hearty!

Original recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.