Friday, March 30, 2012

Book review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It seems like a few of you are reading this right now, so I thought it would be a good time to post my review! Let me know what you think if you've read this or once you've finished! Also, I'll post my review for the other books next week. :) Happy reading!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there's no turning back. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.
--Dave Callanan

I have been having trouble trying to verbalize, or even figure out, my feelings about this book.

First of all, I disagree with the review above in that this book was not a page-turner for me from the beginning. I started it and didn't even get through the first 30 pages before returning it to the library. The first 30 pages are incredibly boring. But the book had gotten SO much hype, and my best friend and boyfriend had both read and loved it, so I tried again with the audio book.

I ended up really enjoying the book. It gets way more exciting and there is quite a bit of action, suspense, and mystery toward the end.

Things I liked:
     Lisbeth Salander is a very interesting protagonist and I enjoyed looking inside her head. Her chapters/sections were probably my favorite. She's a BAMF.
     The different kinds of relationships in this book. Mikael is hired by a very dysfunctional family, in which many cousins, brothers, mothers, members hate each other and alliances are everywhere. Mikael also has an open relationship with a married woman and has relationships with other women throughout the book. All of this was very interesting in that it was completely normal for the characters--it was a fly on the wall sort of thing, a train wreck you can't look away from.
     This won't be something everyone experiences, but I looooved the person who read for the audiobook. He did the women's voices and everything, and he has a lovely British accent.
     The mystery Blomkvist is hired to solve. It seems like such a dead end that you get sucked in and start really caring for Blomkvist and hoping for his success.

Things I didn't like:
     There were more boring chunks, even after I pushed through the first 30 pages, where I just wanted to get back to the action.
     There is a lot a lot a lot of stuff shoved into this one book. Blomkvist's professional struggles, mentioned in the summary above, are merely a frame and explanation for why he would ever agree to try to solve the mystery, but they still take up hundreds of pages at the beginning and end. Then there's the mystery, Blomkvist's many relationships, Salander's many relationships... As I progressed in the book, and as I've continued to the next book, I realized it is all necessary. But there sure is a lot going on in this book.
     The page-turning action I was promised doesn't start until the last third or fourth of the book. The suspense does build up to that point, but come oooooon. Everyone made such a big deal out of how they couldn't put it down, but you have to read a lot before you care that much.

I also feel obligated to warn anyone who hasn't yet heard--there is a rape scene. It's rather graphic. I feel like its effect was diluted for me since I was listening to it, rather than reading it, and could kind of just zone out a bit. But you should know ahead of time, I think.

As I mentioned, I did continue on with the second book, and I liked it a lot more. So I think the first book is worth a read--because I ended up liking it, and because I enjoyed the rest of the series.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A yogurt dilemma

So I've been doing my best to eat healthy this year. I watch my calories, buy more fresh fruit and veggies, and attempt to cut down on the pasta.

One of the standard parts of my lunch is this beauty right here:

Dannon Oikos with strawberries. Yummm.

But today I flipped it over and discovered it has 18 grams of sugar! That's more than half of what I'm supposed to have in a day! As Pat would say, Holy potatoes!

Do any of you know a yogurt that is low-sugar, low-calorie and still tastes good? I used to get all the Yoplait light flavors, but then I switched to Greek for the extra protein. Now I don't know what to do!

In other news, it's gorgeous outside, and I'm a happy girl. :)

I hope you're all having a great day, and any advice would be appreciated! <3

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I tried quinoa!

Last night, I finally tried the quinoa that has been sitting in my cabinet forever! Since trying new foods is one of my 24 goals this year, I'd like to tell you a bit about it.

What is quinoa: Quinoa is a pseudo-grain--a plant that likes to pretend it's a grain but is really is more closely related to beets, spinach and (according to the always-right Wikipedia) tumbleweed (?!?). You eat the seeds.

Why I tried it: I had never ever heard of quinoa before joining Pinterest. Then I started seeing it EVERYWHERE. People rave about it because it has a high protein count (6 grams in the one serving I had last night) and it's wheat free and gluten free.

The protein count makes it great for me as a vegetarian since that's one of the things I have to work to make up for in my meat-free diet. (When it came down to it, though, I finally bucked up and tried it because I had absolutely NO other options. I had cereal, but no milk. Pasta, but no sauce, etc....)

How to cook it: Like rice, you boil with a set amount of water and then let it sit for a few minutes before fluffing it with a fork. Here's a post on how to make it perfectly fluffy (and my pin of it), but I just winged it. I did add some water because I knew I always end up burning my rice.

I made a cheese sauce and accidentally sort of drowned my quinoa, but here are some other ways to try it:

Quinoa and blackbeans
Source, pin

Quinoa "mac and cheese"
Source, pin

A breakfast pudding with bananas and blueberries
Source, pin
My thoughts: I liked it! It has a very subtle taste. I think I would like it plain, too, maybe with some salt.

I didn't realize quinoa was so SMALL! Doesn't that picture make it look big? They're like little bubble pod things. It reminds me of the seaweed that washes up sometimes with the little bubbles in it. You know the kind?

Not super appetizing... Source.
Also, make sure you have a superfine strainer--one of those mesh ones. You must rinse your quinoa because it naturally has a very bitter coating. I had to improvise and it took foreeeever. So I bought a $2 mesh strainer last night.

So don't be afraid! I tried it, survived, and actually liked it!

Have any of you tried quinoa yet? What did you make?

P.S. I also tried a new restaurant last week! That's part of another one of my goals! We went here

Sources for info: The package my quinoa came in, Savvy Brown, and wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lovely quote

During my commute this week I'm listening to The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. Have any of you read it? I heard this quote yesterday and just loved it. Susie, the narrator, is speaking of pictures she took of her mother:

I loved the way this was written, and loved the thoughts it inspires.

Do you guys ever feel defined by the role you play? Friend to someone, daughter to another, girlfriend, sister, neighbor, whatever.

And there's also how you've changed as you've met new people in your life. I know I'm different now than I was before I was Pat's girlfriend.

Have you ever thought about your own mother outside of her role as your mom? How she was before you and how being mom to you changed her? I'm sure my mom never had to field weird medical questions and give tax advice before raising three daughters.

I'm not sure why this quote captivated me so much, but I hope you think it's interesting too. :)

Ps. Shout out to my mom :) Thanks for playing that role.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dear Monday [3.26.12]

Dear Monday, I am tired, sick and cranky. My glands are swollen and I would love nothing more to be in my bed. Here's to hoping the day gets better.

Dear Mom, Anna and Dad, thank you for these lovely flowers. They brighten up my room so much, and I now have a new favorite flower--orange Peruvian lilies. I know the budget is tight, so they mean even more.

Dear Simone, thank you for these beauties. They're so cheerful! Yours also had my new favorite flower in them! Thank you also for letting me text you about my sickness and the weird side effects of the medicine I'm taking. Thanks for loving me from far away. I hope I see you soon.

Dear readers, remember how once I talked about how I compare myself to others? This tendency, combined with my allover tiredness, makes me want to tell you now: My photography is probably not going to get better because I have a cheap(ish) point-and-shoot camera, but also because I use my iPhone camera even more. My blog will never be perfect, and it's always just going to be me. But thank you for reading. It makes me feel important.

Photo by Chris Neal of the University Daily Kansan

Photo by Chris Neal of the University Daily Kansan 
Dear Jayhawks, FINAL FOUR BOUND! You played better in the last few minutes of the UNC game than you have all year. Please keep playing well. It's fun to win!

Dear Hunger Games movie, I hate to say it, but you did not meet my expectations. I think I'll just go back to reading the books.

Dear boyfriend, can we have nap time right now? I'll come home from work and we can just sleep a little longer?

I hope you all are having a lovely Monday! I am off to the doctor after work, and then have one last birthday celebration tonight with friends who weren't here last week! Hopefully these will help me be more cheerful tomorrow. :) Have a great day!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Hate List

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets. 

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Hate List is definitely on a heavy topic. Valerie is returning to school after her boyfriend Nick killed and injured many fellow students in a school shooting, precipitated by a hate list they had written together.

There's a lot I enjoyed in this book. I love Valerie's therapist and a couple of the other characters--the girl she saved, her little brother, a woman she meets by chance. They're all wonderful.

It also puts into great perspective that your actions, even small ones, can have a great influence on those around you.

I liked that it showed the human side of Nick. This is really what Valerie struggles with and it took her a whole book to figure it out, so I'm not sure I can sum it up but--everyone, even those who do terrible things, start the same. We're all human and we make mistakes and we hurt and we love. And the awful things people do come from fear and hate and loss and... yeah.

Hate List basically shows a school year in Valerie's life, with flashbacks to the year before, when the shooting happened, and the summer before. Because the scope is pretty wide, we see a lot of Valerie's life--her struggles with her classmates, her parents, her therapist, her brother, herself. So it's very realistic in that way.

But it also means that we never get very close to all the characters I loved. Hate List is very intrinsic, very much in Valerie's head instead of action based. Everyone else is at a distance to allow all Valerie's thoughts and struggles take center stage.

I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I don't think I'll read it again, but it did make me cry and was worth the read.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Alright, friends.

Today, I am old.

For your entertainment, here are a couple infamous family photos of me as a youngin'.

I think I was pouting because no one would play with me? Also important to notice: my boots do not match.

I was about nine months old and was apparently NOT ok with Santa.

Yup. That's me on the right.

For my birthday, I decided to make a list of 24 things to do before I'm 24 (inspired by Sarah at Yes and Yes).

So, starting today, here's my list:

1. Send 24 letters

2. Visit Simone, my old roommate and great friend, at her new big girl home

3. Visit my Meleah at med school before she's an old married lady

4. Learn to juggle!

5. Learn a song on the guitar--I've had a guitar for years and can play absolutely nothing on it. I've toted from home to a dorm back home to a house back home to a different dorm, back home again and to a new house and can't do a dang thing with it but carry it around.

6. Finish a puzzle with Pat! He got me one for Christmas and we've been working on it, but last year we tried a different one and never finished it. We will finish it!

7. Try 24 new recipes

8. Learn to sew on a sewing machine

9. Make at least one of these or something like them:


10. Go see a local play or musical. I used to looove theater (I did five plays in high school!) but I don't go back nearly as often as I'd like

I'm on the right as Jojo in Seussical the Musical during my junior year of HS

11. Finish the project I started when I was home for Thanksgiving

12. Go to three new bars in my hometown and three new restaurants in my hometown--Three is an arbitrary number on both of these, but I feel like I go to the same places over and over. I barely know Lawrence and I've been here almost five years! It's time to explore.

13. Start an etsy shop

14. Go rock climbing (a rock wall counts!)

15. Find a few great local hiking spots

16. See a psychic

17. Memorize this poem and this one

18. Complete a 5k

19. Try kickboxing

20. Send flowers to someone

21. Buy something I would usually be too scared to wear and actually wear it

22. Treat myself to something I would normally talk myself out of just because I can

23. Hold a dinner party for my friends

24. Try five new foods. I'm notoriously scared of trying new foods. I've had a bag of quinoa sitting in my cabinet for weeks. Time to make it happen.

That's it! I'll try to keep you guys updated whenever I check something off. If you have any tips or tricks for my list, let me know :)

Thanks for stopping in, and here's to a fabulous March 22nd for everyone!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I'm loving Wednesday [3.21.12]

Apologies, friends, that so far this week has only been a couple of lists. But! Tomorrow I will have a birthday post! It should be a little more substantial. Until then, these are some things I'm loving right now. :)

Head over to Jamie's blog to link up!

1. This list of notes written by monks in the margins of illuminated texts they were copying. Includes "Oh, my hand," and "Thank God, it will soon be dark." They were people! They got cold! They are responsible for much of the world's ancient religious knowledge! Isn't it cool? Or am I a nerd? Oh well.

2. Sarah Dessen. I don't know if I've ever mentioned that she's my favorite author ever, but she is. But! I also love how real she is with her readers/audience/fans/friends/anyone who stumbles on her twitter. This morning she went to GMA, which she is a HUGE fan of, and tweeted her entire experience. She also got inside! Here's a picture of her and Robyn Roberts on the set:

And here's me with Sarah when I met her at a reading in Omaha last spring!

Yeah, I'm a little awkward. But I have four autographed books and a tshirt to show for it!

3. I'm loving that the ants are pretty much gone! Woohoo! We used a spray in a white bottle from Walmart. I don't know the name right now, but it worked wonders!

I'm also loving a few of my recent pins! You can find me on Pinterest here(links will be in the captions)

Isn't this a gorgeous backdrop for a party table?

Usually I don't like anonymous quotes much, but this one is so insightful and true.

I have a few weddings to attend this spring and wouldn't this dress be lovely to wear?

So simple, but wouldn't this be so nice to see every day?

That's all for today! Hope you all have a wonderful afternoon+evening!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Dear Monday [3.19.12]

Dear Monday, I'm apathetic this week. I really just want to go back to sleep. Can we arrange that?

Dear boyfriend, why are you so very far away? I'm already excited for you to come home.

Dear frozen pizza, ice cream, Harry Potter Weekend and Netflix, thanks for keeping me company this weekend while I wallowed in self pity for not having a spring break while all my friends were off having adventures and for the swarm of ants now in my kitchen. You were great.

Dear Layne, come home meow. We're ready for you.

Dear ants, leave or die. It's that simple, really.

Dear Jayhawks, thanks for pulling it out in the end this weekend. But please, next game, try to lead for more than the last 45 seconds? Kthanksssss.

Photo by Chris Neal of the University Daily Kansan

Photo by Chris Neal of the University Daily Kansan 

If you have anything you'd like to say to Monday, or if you want to read other people's Monday Letters, head over to Happy Day!

Friday, March 16, 2012


My room has been invaded by ants. Yup, my BEDROOM, which has a door to the outside.


It's disgusting and I hate it.

This is my karma for bragging about our warm weather.

Anyone have any tips for getting rid of them?

In other news, it's Freyday! Thank goodness.

I will be sending off the boy for his spring break and being a boring working old person who has no spring break.

I guess really I'm not all that excited for this weekend/week.

Last year this time I was here:

My ant-y room doesn't even compare.

But I hope everyone out there has a lovely weekend and week! Think good thoughts for me and bad thoughts for my ant friends.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book review: The Future of Us

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Much like Shatter Me, I heard about the concept of this book and loved it. I personally don't have Facebook, but I've had it in the past and loved the idea of two teenagers finding their future through their future Facebook profiles.

Also like Shatter Me, though, I was a bit disappointed. I feel like the authors failed to live up to their awesome idea.

Josh and Emma both use Facebook primarily to figure out their romantic relationships. Because this is the focus of the book, both main characters seem a bit self-absorbed and shallow. The most interesting (but spoiler-y) plot lines, which could lead to both the characters and the readers thinking deeper thoughts, are almost ignored and are shoved to the side as sub plots or mere mentions in the main story.

Things I enjoyed about the book: It was very easy and enjoyable to read. Though the characters weren't all I'd hoped, I didn't actively dislike them. I zoomed through the book in about two days. It might be a perfect vacation book.

I also really enjoyed that it was set in the nineties. I grew up in the nineties. I watched Seinfeld, like Emma's parents, and remember getting AOL discs in the mail. So that part was really fun for me.

I ended up giving it three stars on Goodreads. I liked it, but I probably won't read it again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Afternoon What I'm loving Wednesday [3.14.12]

1. I'm loving the lovely weather that has been allowing me to walk outside. LOOK HOW GORGEOUS IT IS? 70s and 80s all week.

2. This looks pretty cool:

3. I'm also loving that this is my last day at work-work this week. Woohoo! I will be doing other, important, mysterious things that I can't talk about that have to do with the good news I still can't talk about. I know, I know. Why bring it up? but I just can't tell the public world yet. But I do get to sleep in tomorrow, and that's always nice.

4. I'm loving that my birthday is a week from tomorrow! I don't have any big plans, but birthdays are always exciting, right?

That's all I've got right now, lovelies! I hope you're having a fabulous week! If not, hey! We're halfway to the weekend!

Wanna link up or check out other "loves"? Go here!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dear Monday [3.12.12]

Dear Monday, I'm a little annoyed at you for coming along and ruining my pretty perfect weekend. But since I'm only working three days this week, I think I can handle it.

Dear Saturday, Thank you so much for being so gorgeous! I loved hanging out with you and the sunshine and, of course, my two favorite boys. I walked around and played "caddy" while they played disc golf and a great time was had by all. Lets hang out again soon?

(Here's the part where I'm adding in a weekend recap :)

Pat lining up his shot

This would be a perfect picture if I hadn't cut off his foot. *sigh*

After retrieving his disc

Sam having an adventure to retrieve his, too.

Doesn't it look like he's about to fall over? He didn't.

Dear Pat, Thanks for letting me be your caddy and for putting up with my multiple picture attempts. Also, thanks for letting me use your resources to print all the things. You're nice to me.

I really struggled with getting all of both of our faces in the picture. Took four tries, actually, but the fourth is awful.

Dear bffffffffffff, keep your head up. I love you. You can do anything and everything. I'll see you in a couple weeks and everything will be good.

Dear last night's rain, You were lovely to fall asleep to.

Dear this morning's noisy dripping drain pipe just outside my room, I'm angry at you. I still had 40 minutes to sleep when you woke me up. We are no longer on good terms, sir.

Dear new clothes and shopping trip, Thanks for helping me to finally see the results of my fitness efforts! It was great to finally have a positive shopping experience. :)

Dear readers, Thanks for reading. I like you. You make me happy. :)

If you have anything you'd like to say to Monday, or if you want to read other people's Monday Letters, head over to Happy Day! (and check out Megan's great news!)


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