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International Woman's Day & Book Reviews

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. 

You live several lives while reading it. 

William Styron

I am very lucky to have amazing women in my life. They taught me to be independent, how to follow my heart, be myself and to always keep learning!

Today is International Women's Day! It is a day when we recognize, across the globe, woman's achievements. 

My greatest achievements are my 2 Girls.

I hope to encourage, inspire, and educate them so that in their future, they will achieve their goals and reach the heights that they are meant to reach. 

Today I asked each of them to finish this sentence.... 

One day I will.. 

HBear said "One day I will be a hero like Daddy... oh and I will make a dish. Not a meal, just a dish. Oh and I will make beautiful art!"

Ninja has saved a few lives over the years. Once he stopped to help a trucker that had flipped on the side of the highway. Last summer he and another employee gave a woman chest compressions and mouth to mouth and revived her. He also jumped into the pool after SBean last summer. He is kinda a hero now that I think about it! :)
SBean said "One day I will be tall! And Mommmmmmy one day I will go down the slide." And then she laughed her tiny ass off!

SBean will NOT go down the slide at the pool during swim lessons. She will look back at me and just smile. But she won't go down. 

What a little Sassy Snot!

A few weeks ago HBear was talking. Ok to give an accurate description of the situation, she was talking and talking and talking and talking lol. So when she took a breathe I said "you're weird".

I wasn't really thinking, I was just responding to whatever she was saying. Her face fell. She was devastated and said "Mommy that is a shredder word. You shouldn't say that!" 


That's not what I wanted to do! I didn't want to hurt her feelings! So I asked her, what makes weird a shredder word?

She explained that it was a mean word that makes people feel bad about themselves.

Hmmmm. I drew a line with a big hump in it. "This line is a line of normal people. This bump is different. Weird. Who is at the top?"

"Weird people?"

"That's right! When you think off the line of normal, when you get into weird territory, that is when you reach your highest potential. That is when you reach the highest heights. Never stop being weird! I love your weirdness! I am proud of what a weirdo you are!"

"We have a weird family hey? Uncle Kelly is the weirdest."

My brother is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Lol "yes my Love he is a complete weirdo!"

Then she began talking and the conversation changed.

I truly believe what I told her. Be weird people! Be different! Don't follow the line ... Make your own line! 

Today SBean was getting ready for swim class and she was chattering away about when she is a big girl like her Sister.

"When I am a big girl like my Sister, I will go to school too!" She said.

In which I replied, "No way! I will miss you too much! Who will stay at home and help me?"

"You would have to learn to do things on your own." She said.

"I don't want to do things on my own! I would miss you so much!" I said truthfully.

"Well you can just sit right there," she said pointing to the couch "and wait for me."

I pushed it a bit further... "but who will help me?"

She sighed and said, "Well you have to do things on your own Mommy. That's the point. That's the rules."

LOL What a kid!

Waving bye bye on her way to school

Ok with that being said this New Years I made a goal to complete a reading challenge. I guess this year is the year of challenges lol. There are 12 "reading challenges" on the list. I figured if I read 1 book a month, I could pull it off. 

1. In January I started with,

A book I own but never read. I actually have a few of those lol but I chose Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio. 

I am a Top Chef freak. I have watched from the beginning, I loved Harold!

Now that I'm on Twitter and Instagram I follow some of the chefs from Top Chef. I have Wikipedia searched Padma, I mean really? Who the hell is this woman that looks like she only eats lettuce critiquing these amazing chefs? The crazy thing is, I never looked up Tom. He just seems legit. A few years ago when I was really getting into food and tastes and cooking and menu making, I devoured magazines like Bon Appetit. They would talk about certain books like food bibles and a few of them I asked for at Xmas and my birthday. Of course The Joy of Cooking is a staple. I open up that one often. Another was, the Flavor Bible. Another "text book" I use often. Neither one of those are actual reading books though, not like, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (which is a FANTASTIC book btw) when I read the reviews of Think Like A Chef, it was described as a reading recipe book. I thought hmmmm?

I really liked it. I could actually hear him saying what I was reading. It was abrupt, just like him. I was correct in my assumption that he is legit. He IS fresh food in New York City. Gramercy Tavern... Yeah that's him!

So let me explain the book. The preface is about him. It is Tom Colicchio's story, well a brief look at his story. You can tell he doesn't like talking about himself that is why he only spends 14 pages on his story. It really is just his credentials, kinda. Why should you listen to me? Because I have done this... Now let's get to what is important, food.

The introduction teaches the reader how to read the book. I laughed at this coming from the Chef who hates to be told how to eat a dish lol. I liked this because right away it made me feel like I wasn't reaching. I know I'm not a chef. My MBesty is always like, you should try out for MasterChef! I just laugh. I'm not a chef but right off the bat Colicchio says at the end of the intro, "...a basic love of great ingredients and an open mind are all you really need to think like a chef." Hey, I love ingredients! I have an open mind! I may not be a chef but maybe I can think like a chef!

The next section concentrates on techniques. It's funny, I never really thought about terms before. If it is on the stove, it's frying duh! I try to fancy it up on the blog by saying sauté lol. It is actually roasting. He talks about the sounds your food make as it hits the pan. I started paying attention to the sounds after that. It's true! You can tell by the sizzle! I have started mentioning more in my recipes. Listen, if it doesn't sizzle it's not hot enough. It shouldn't pop or sputter either Another thing I learned was I am totally using the word sauté wrong! Sautéing is actually cooking small pieces of food quickly. It doesn't let food brown like sweating or roasting. Huh. You learn something new every page in this case! With every technique comes a few recipes. I read every one. I personally like reading recipes. I try to keep little things in the back of my mind, things that go together... Things that don't lol.

I really liked the "chapter" on sauce-making. I love sauces. I have watched movies like The Hundred-Foot Journey, a gorgeous movie about the love of cooking. I took HBear and her friend to see it :) Anyways, the Chef in the movie has to conquer the 5 major sauces. I think that is in every cooking movie lol a bechamel, a veloute, a hollandaise, an espagnole and a tomato sauce. I know I'm not a chef because I make hollandaise sauce from a packet lol. However, to give myself a little credit, I have tried my hand at all of these sauces at some point in my life.

The next section is called Studies. Where he explains creating ingredients. Each "chapter" is a new ingredient. Using simple things like tomatoes and roasting them to add to recipes, he then gives you a few staple recipes as examples. Mushrooms, and how to select them... recipes. Artichokes... recipes.

Now that you have the staple ingredients down, the next section concentrates on Trilogies. Taking 3 main ingredients and using them in different ways to create simple and different dishes. Lobster, peas and pasta. Duck, root veggies and apples and so on.

The last 4 sections are broken up into seasons. As Colicchio explains, if it grows together, it goes together. He puts together simple yet elegant seasonal vegetable recipes and ends the book with a few of his favourite recipes and resources.

Ok so am I going to make a variety of asparagus, morel and ramp dishes? Probably not. That isn't the point. The point is that by using quality ingredients and using basic techniques, anyone who loves ingredients can think like a chef. I liked it. I will definitely use some of the recipes, of course I would use my own ingredients, things that are less expensive and seasonal to where I live but the thought process of the great Tom Colicchio is right there, he really does a great job of laying a foundation of chefery for the layperson.

Yeah I totally just created a new word! :)

After reading this book, I felt like I had taken a class in cooking from a Master. That is exactly what he wanted to do so I think he accomplished his goal.

All in all I am so happy I read this book first. It renewed my passion for cooking, it gave me fresh eyes at the supermarket and it was the perfect way to start my reading challenge. As soon as I finished it I felt hungry to read my next book.

Tee hee hee, hungry... to read... lol.

2. My February book was,

A book published this year. I actually went to the bookstore in Kelowna on February 19, the day it came out, to buy it. I didn't actually buy it though because it was $39!!! Whaaaaat? So on the way home from the bookstore, where I held it close, I stopped at the library and put it on reserve. It had been out for 6 hours and I was 9th! A week later I got the call. I usually only go to the library on Sundays and Mondays now because the Witch Librarian doesn't work on those days. I got the call on Wednesday. I wanted to read it so bad, I sucked it up and went in and got it. At the same time I picked HBear up the next 7 books in The Magic Treehouse Series. She is FLYING through that series!

So, Feverborn

It is the 8th novel in the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. The series is a supernatural/romance/fantasy series. It actually comes with a whole section at the back with references and descriptions of people, things, places and creatures to help remind the reader. She puts out 1 book a year so it is hard to remember everything that has happened, especially when there are different realms, time jumps, and fictional creatures to keep straight.

The series centres around a young woman named Mac. She is a superficial southern blonde that likes to look pretty. She is like a modern day Cher from Clueless :) In the 1st book she finds out her sister has been murdered in Ireland. She goes there to find out what happens and finds out she was adopted and her lineage is actually from Ireland. She is a capable of seeing Fae. There are many like her and she bonds with a young girl named Dani. As the 1st book progresses, she meets a "man" named Barrons. Throughout the series they become a couple, sort of. That's kind of what I like about it. There is no talk about love or shit like that. Mac goes from Rainbow Girl (a nickname Barrons gives her) to a Badass evil fairy killing machine but keeps her sense of fashion and style :)

Everything moves rather quickly and ALOT happens in each book. I mean, the walls between the different worlds come down! The past few books in the series have been from Dani's point of view. This one is narrated by Mac but is still about Dani more or less. I was really looking forward to this read! I feel a little bit let down by it. It is very convoluted. There is so much to wrap your head around. I think, even though we are in the 8th book, Mac's sister, Alina died just a few months prior... even though I have been reading this series for 10 years already. It has been a decade for me and only a few months for the storyline. Yeah, I'm older... I want Mac to be older too. Moning must have had this same thought because Dani, through magical ways, rapidly ages in this book and is finally a woman! At least someone is aging with me :)

I have to wait until next February for the next book and I have to say, this might be the first time in a long time that I'm not yearning for the next book.


This was a great read for my second book of the year though. Kinda great for the whole February/Valentine thing and all. PLUS it was like reuniting with old friends, you catch up really quickly and then after a few days of being inseparable you are ready for a little space. In a few months the longing to reunite will start a slow burn and then by next January the Fever will start and the itch to see those same friends will be back.

Burn... Fever... hahahaha, I'm on a roll! Insert eyeball here.

So we are officially 8 days into March.

3. For my March pick I choose, a book I have been meaning to read.

So here's the story. My Mom read  this book years ago and talked about it non-stop. The problem was, she forgot the name of the book. She remembered that it was GREAT and that the guys name was James... she thought. She knew it was a time travel book and it had the Highlands in in. She couldn't remember how the time travel happened though.

You see where I'm going with this?

I looked up Highland time travel... that actually led me to the above mentioned author, Karen Marie Moning. She does a trilogy about highlanders that time travel, they are actually in the Fever series! I was fortunate enough to find a new series but still didn't find the book my Mom was talking about. This was before we had Google :)

I totally forgot about the series until last year. I was watching Days and a commercial came on about a new series... Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. 

knew it. I know that was the book my Mom was talking about! I meant to take it out right away but I didn't and in time I forgot about it again.

I mentioned it to my SBesty, we both like to read and compare books. She gushed about the series and about a month ago she brought a newer copy to school for me.

I am addicted! As I said before, we are 8 days into March and I am on page 165... of the 2nd book in the series Dragonfly in Amber!

Outlander starts in 1945. Claire was a nurse in the War and her and her husband Frank are travelling in Scotland to get reacquainted with each other after 6 long years apart.

Frank is a historian and talks about his family tree throughout the beginning of the book. I don't really like modern history. As a history major, my least favourite time period is the 1900's. I know, I'm terrible. I was disappointed at first because I thought the book took place earlier :(

Little did I realize that by page 35 my wishes would be granted! Claire touches a stone at a druid stone circle and goes back in time to 1743. The 1st person she meets is her husband's great ancestor Jack Randall.

The next group of people she meets are Highlanders, 1 in which becomes her husband, Jamie Fraser.

I really liked this book. It was pretty daunting because it is 627 pages but they seem to fly by.  I have read my fair share of romance novels... even time travelling romance novels but there were topics in this book that I had never read about. Witch trials, sodomy, and the Scottish Uprising. William Wallace and the whole Braveheart thing with Robert the Bruce usually come to mind when thinking about Scottish wars but I rarely read about Bonnie Prince Charlie.

My only critique was how easily Claire took to the whole time travel thing. Gabaldon does portray her as reasonable and logical but come on? No tears? No freaking out when torn away from your husband? I don't know... in all those pages I think she should have had at least 1 meltdown. Also, I don't buy their love. Perhaps in the second book I will feel it but they went from friends to husband & wife and I must have missed the part where they  fell so deeply in love they would defy even time, to be together forever.

I like Claire. I like Jamie. I like their story. I like the history and politics involved in their story line. I really like that Jamie is the one that goes through terrible things to be with Claire  Usually it is the woman that gets abused, sold, raped, and all the rest. Usually it is the woman that feels like she has been soiled for her man. I really liked how Jamie was the innocent party in their match up. It was refreshing.  Claire is a strong woman. A fabulous character really. I'm excited to watch the series! I hope they don't butcher it like some book adaptations! 

Now I just have to finish the series this March to keep on track for my Challenge!

Not the most Outlandish idea I have ever had.


This review was the perfect way to end my International Woman's Day! A great book written by a wonderfully talented female author about a strong willed, intelligent woman that chooses a life without heated plumbing, lives through a witch trial, and fights a pack of wolves to save the man she loves! Although her entire world falls down around her she gets up and acts the hero... not the victim. 

My only regret is that I didn't figure it out sooner so I could sit and chat with my Mom about this incredible book. She too was an amazing woman. A strong woman. A kick ass woman. An opinionated woman that never said never. I know why she liked this book so much. Thanks Mom.  

I love to see a long girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.

Maya Angelou


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