Wednesday, January 30, 2013


True statement.

I notice that quite often on Facebook people ask their 'friends' for suggestions on good books to read.  I am guilty of such a post myself, so I thought that I would put together a list of some of the books I have read recently and share some of my thoughts.  I tend to vary in what genre I choose to read, so hopefully my list is diverse enough that no matter your preference, you can find something enjoyable to you.  My current guilty pleasure are young adult series based around supernatural creatures (vampires, faeries, witches, etc.). 
So here we go!

1.  The Fever Series (Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever) by Karen Marie Moning

This is probably one of the best series that I have read since Harry Potter.  (If you don't like Harry Potter, then what the heck is wrong with you? AND forget that reference.)  It is a five book series that is told through the eyes of a strong, female character named Mac.  Her sister was killed in Dublin and she goes abroad to investigate the murder herself.  She learns that she is a sidh-seer (SHE seer) and can see/kill fae, which are taking over Dublin and murdering tons of people in the process.  I don't want to dive into details too deeply because you seriously need to read this series and find them out yourself.  The books were well written (WAY better than that Twilight crap) and hard to put down. 

2.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

A classic that never gets old. 

3.  The Vampire Academy Series (Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice) by Richelle Mead

So these were good, and I would recommend them, but I don't see myself re-reading this like I do Harry Potter, or WILL with The Fever Series.  First off, the main character, Rose, has a thing with one of her instructors.  Rose is 17.  Dimitri, her instructor, is 25.  Uh, ewe?! Find a chick your own age, buddy!!  BUT if you look past that and pretend that Rose is in college and not high school you are able to read the series and feel a little less dirty.  I enjoyed this series because it had more to it than another vampire books I have read.  There are two different kinds of vampires: (1) Moroi - vampires who are born vampires.  No humans can become moroi. Good vampires - peaceful; (2) Strigoi - Humans and moroi can become strigoi by either force or choice.  Bad vampires - deadly.  Then there are those that are half moroi/half human that are guardians of the moroi.  They go to school to learn to kick ass and the moroi go to school to enhance their strengths.  Strigoi just kill people and each other.  All-in-all a good series, slows down around the 4th and 5th book, but picks up in the 6th. 

4.  The Immoral Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This was a very interesting read.  If you didn't know (I sure didn't. . . ), Henrietta Lacks' cells are responsible for many, many medical discoveries and breakthroughs.  Doctors took cells from a tumor on Henrietta's cervix to do tests and junk and found that her cells continued to multiply instead of die like all the other cells they had collected.  This books discusses her life and her family as well as her contribution to the medical field. 

5.  The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

I was hoping for another brilliant book by JK and was disappointed.  I am embarrassed to admit I didn't finish this one.  I got a ways into it and still wasn't interested in the characters or what was going on.  It appears that other people have had the same troubles with the book.  There are mixed reviews and it seems people either love it or hate it.  You can give it a go and see which side you're on, but I know where I stand - at Disappointment Station!

6.  Why Me? by Sarah Burleton

This is her story of growing up with an abusive mother.  I don't remember much from reading this, but I do know I was never completely sucked in.  Many of the reviews said it was like she was fishing for sympathy, and I guess I can see that.  (Although in my opinion, if you had to suffer abuse of any kind you deserve a bit of sympathy and hopefully support!).  This book comes no where close to being as heart-wrenching and awful as A Child Called It, but was worth the quick read, I suppose.

7.  AUTHOR:  Jean Sasson 

Books I have read by Jean include: The Princess Series (Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, Princess Sultana's Sisters, Princess Sultana's Circle) and Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World

This woman writes beautifully and has had some amazing experiences in her life.  The books I have read by her have been eye opening and inspirational.  The Princess Series is about a Saudi princess and the different parts of her life.  It gives you an inside look into the lives of some Middle Eastern women.  Growing Up bin Laden was excellent as well and probably one of the closet looks we can get into his life.  I know that there are mixed feelings in the world regarding bin Laden so that book might not be for everyone.  It doesn't glorify him, it simply tells the story of one of his wives and sons. 

8. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Letters written from a wife to her husband after their son committed mass murder at his high school.  I have to admit that I watched the movie first and then read the book.  Both are excellent, but the book obviously gives more detail and helps to explain some of the things that happen in the movie that I had questions about.  A very dark book, especially with recent events, that was hard to put down once I got into it.  I initially thought I wasn't interested, started to read something else, and had to go back to it because I couldn't get it out of my head.  The movie was excellent as well.  The boys they casted for Kevin portrayed him perfectly, and it was nice to see John C. Reilly in a different role.

9.  Divergent AND Insurgent by Veronica Roth

A strong female character in a dystopian society trying to figure out who she is and what she is supposed to do with her life.  At 16, Tris must choose which faction she will be a part of for the rest of her life.  She must choose from Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  After her decision is made, she must make it through initiation to be accepted into the faction.  There is corruption all around her and as everything falls apart, she is faced with tough choices.  Ben and I both read these two books this summer and couldn't put them down.  There will be a third book in the series and Divergent will come to theaters in 2014.  I highly recommend reading the books prior to the moving being released.  You never know what they will change/leave out!

10.  Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton

I don't think anyone will be forgetting this case in the near future.  When this case went to trial, I had it up every day at work and followed the news reports.  The story of Caylee Anthony captured America's attention.  This book was written by the prosecuting attorney, Jeff Ashton.  There is quite a bit of "look at me, I'm so awesome" that happens in the book, but there are also 'facts' from the case and an in depth look at the prosecution's side of the story.  Since I stalked CNN daily for any updates on the case, I was fascinated with the book. 

11.  Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszli

A chilling story of a forensic pathologist that worked with Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz/Birkneau.  There are things in this book that make your stomach flip.  If you have any interested in the Holocaust or concentration camps, this book is one of the best.  (or worst?). 

12.  Night by Elie Weisel

A chilling account of a teenagers survival in the Nazi concentration camps.  This book has become ranked among the classics and for good reason.  I couldn't put it down.

13.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This was a fun read.  I enjoyed the twists and turns of the two different worlds you get to experience.  The book has pictures of the peculiars that are fun to look at and picture the children as you read.  I believe they are making this book into a movie and Tim Burton will be directing!!  SCORE!

14.  My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

A kids book, but a super-dee-duper cute kids book!!  WITH AN ELEPHANT! :)   I came across this while working in the library and instantly loved it!  It reminded me of my seester, Lyssa.  I immediately got online and ordered a copy to be sent to her.  'Tis our new favorite book of all books EVER!  

That is all I've got for now! 
post signature

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

. . . ? . . .

Gives 'Bring Your Kid to Work Day' a whole new meaning.

**There is a goat next to the cab if you can't see it.

post signature

Dishdasha Daddy

Ben dressed up in the traditional Middle Eastern garb for U.A.E. National Day.  He later had the headdress tied to stay on better.  I stole it for a bit. . .  :)

post signature


There are many things in Dubai that can make your jaw drop and/or make you feel you are living in a completely different world.  A whole new world filled with lots of shiny, pretty things that still surprise this small town girl.  

Vehicle in the 41th (joke) U.A.E. National Day
December 2, 2012

(No idea why I can't get rid of this space ^ )
I have gotten used to expecting extravagance in everything around me, although I am still shocked by it at times, and was thrilled when I became a part of that extravagance.  Since the world didn't end on the December 21st, we celebrated Dubai style with our fellow colleagues.  The event was held at Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah.  (The Palm is a man-made island if you hadn't heard of it.) We were picked up in a redneck limo (school bus) and arrived safely at our venue.  It was a bit chilly and windy, so we were happy to find that the event had been moved indoors.  

Front entrance.
When you walked around the back of the building, there were heat lamps and fancy cocktail tables set up, as well as pretty Chinese lanterns and the ocean was a few steps away.  We were greeted with fresh juice or beer before even entering the building.  Ben was asked his age - hilarious.  When we got inside I was floored with how gorgeous it was. 

Front entrance hall.  
Is this for work or a fancy-pants wedding? !!!

After I recovered from my initial shock, I grabbed a glass of wine and socialized.  You had to be careful with alcohol because the servers would walk around and refill your glass without you noticing.  The food was ok, desserts were tasty and the company was fantastic!

Ben was trying to keep his booze out of the picture.  Fail.

I understand that in larger cities in the U.S. this may be a regular thing to be expected each year from employers, but this isn't what I normally expect!!  They also gave away lap tops, a 3D tv, mini iPads, smart phones, and gift certificates.  Not too shabby. . . Apparently they have another one of these shindigz at the end of the year so I am excited to see if it can match/top this one! 

post signature

1st Christmas as Mr & Mrs

Sweet Grovie waiting for his presents!  Middle stocking is his.  
The holidays made me get a bit behind on blogging.  Since we were in Germany for Christmas Day, Ben and I had our own little Christmas celebration before we left.  We listened to music, opened presents and enjoyed delicious food.  This year we decided to give each other a couple small gifts and save our money for Germany where we could choose things we like together.  That in mind, I picked up a new dress shirt from Ben's favorite store, some comfy pants and Skittles.  I think he was pleased.  

Ben put a lot of thought into what to get for me and went with dirt.  Yay!!  But seriously, I have been growing an avocado pit and needed to pot it as well as another viney plant that needed potted.  So equipped with pots, dirt, seeds AND a super cool green watering can, I can now pot my plants! He also picked up a decorative copy of the U.A.E.'s currency and sand camel jar thing which I love!!  Husband did gooood.  Grover got a few treats as well.  He enjoyed fishing them out of his stocking.  He literally had his whole head IN the stocking.  It was hilarious and of course we didn't capture it on camera. . . 

After reflecting on our first Christmas together as husband and wife, we decided to start a few traditions.  Each year we plan to get a new ornament at some point during the year, date it and have a tree (eventually) full of our years together.  We really enjoyed having our very own little Christmas and no matter where we end up, we plan to do that in the comfort of our home before traveling to meet family.  On that night we plan to cook supper together, enjoy a glass or two of wine and listen to Christmas music/watch Love Actually.  During the day - COOKIES!!!

Looking forward to many years to come!!

P.s. Thank you to Keith and Jamie for your amazing gifts! Thanks to our wonderful parents as well!

post signature

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Change of Scenery

Doing a little "spring cleaning" early this year!  I have decided to try and spruce up the blog a bit.  When I first created the page, I went with the basic layout and tried to be crafty with one of our wedding pictures.  Since then I have learned you can design your very own templates!  Woo hoo!  SO, that is my goal.  It may take a while since I am VERY new to all this graphic design junk, BUT I am hoping for a beautiful finish.  (NO laughing or making fun that I had no idea this existed until just now.  I knew you could do other web pages, just not blogger!)

Step 1:  Create a signature. 

DONE.  Success is glorious.  This is very basic and by time I am done with everything it may have changed.  I am going with a yellow and gray theme, I think.  Original, I know.  Judge all you want - I love it.

I think my Step 2 will be the banner.  O the possibilities. . .

Interested in doing the same?  I found a crazy helpful website with tons of tutorials to make your blog all schnazzed out.  Click here to be inspired to sit in front of your computer for hours!

post signature

Addendum: I may have gotten a little tied up in the renovation of the blog and finished in a day.  Yay!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Turning green! Or maybe just olive for now.

 I recently stumbled upon the blog Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity (FCCN) and am slowly becoming obsessed.  One of the posts really caught my attention.  I would be lying to say the title didn't draw me to the post.  It was the main reason I decided to check out this blog.  This post discusses F.A.R.T.S.  te he. 



This woman sets goals for herself and her family to lessen their carbon footprint on this world, make their wallets a little heavier and hearts a little lighter with F.A.R.T.S.  I am inspired!

Since getting hitched and moving to Dubai, Ben and I have been working on budgeting and figuring out what works best for us both and our lifestyle.  We have stopped eating out unless it is socially (for the most part.  Sometimes we slip. . . fries are essential to life on occasion.) and do a lot more cooking at home.  We tend to stick to what we know, but I do try and find some new recipe to try each week.  The problem with our classic and new recipes is that the stores here are not a reliable source for ingredients.  You really never know what will or will not be in at any given time.  Case and point - Ben and I were craving biscuits and gravy and Pillsbury biscuits were no where to be found.  Poop.  Instead of giving up hope I hit up Google for an easy biscuit recipe.  Found one, made them, they were awesome!!  SOOOO much better than Pillsbury!  You can read about it and find the recipe here.  The point of my rambling is that even before I knew about F.A.R.T.S., I successfully made one!  Pillsbury no more for this family!

So what next?

I have not yet figured out a something to do while still in Dubai, but when we return home I am excited to try a couple new things. 

1.  Cloth napkins.  Have a slew of them and ditch the paper napkins!  On FCCN she mentions that they have a spot for used, but reusable cloth napkins and for fresh, clean napkins.  Excellent idea!  How many times do you grab a napkin, wipe nothing off of your mouth once and throw it away?  Or is that just me?

2.  Bake my own bread.  This will likely be a work in progress for a long time to come, but there are people who make all of their own bread and never touch store bought.  They are my heroes.

3.  Learn to sew.  Once we are back in the States and settled somewhere I want to purchase a sewing machine and take classes.  I think it is ridiculous that a person of my height does not know how to hem a pair of pants.  It's like $10 to have someone else do it in Iowa City.  Dumb.  I also would like to learn how to do more crafty things with sewing.  Maybe put some of my Pinterest ideas into the works!

4.  A garden.  Start small and work my way up.  I have essentially no experience in the garden, may kill everything, but if something survives or pushes through I will have a celebration! Everyone is invited to feast on one tomato! Woooo!  But seriously, I would like to give it a shot!  Veggies and herbs and maybe some sunflowers.  Just because they are pretty.  Ben has extensive experience so I will look to him.

Big ambitions and excited to experiment!! 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Small Tidbits

Pinned Image

Sunday I had mascara under my eyes and no one told me about it. It was there all. day. Do I really look that tired that the mascara could be mistaken for giant bags under my eyes? Yikes. . .

Also on Sunday while trying to re-ink my stamper thing the ink bottle exploded and my skin is still stained. Awesome.

Yesterday I was walking around the entire day with dried coffee on my nose which no one told me about.  Ben pointed it out when I went to his classroom to meet up before going home.  Fantastic.

Today I forgot to put on make up and was told I look tired multiple times.  Apparently my real face is haggard and scary and I should never leave the house without make up again. 

Aside from being a hot mess this week, things are great! I have finally adjusted back to Dubai time from Germany time (yes, it took this long. . . ) and am able to fall asleep at a decent hour.  Things are stressful at school this week because the school is being evaluated, but teachers have been working hard to prepare and hopefully all goes well.  I did speak with one of the female inspectors today.  Please see below for our stimulating conversation:

IL = Inspector Lady   LJ = self explanatory

IL:  Good morning!  Are you the Librarian?
LJ:  Good morning!  No, I am not.  She doesn't come in until 9 a.m. if you'd like to try back then.
IL:  O, ok.  Thank you.

IL turns to leave, stops and turns back,

IL:  . . . Are you a student?
. . .  

My goal for this weekend is to get posts up with pictures/videos from Ben's xmas concerts, some of Germany and a video or two of randomness that we captured in our everyday life.  Look for those soon!

Side note:  I was in the library at school when the janitor/maintenance man's cell phone rang.  His ring tone was My Heart Will Go On.  LOVE it!