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Friday Fun! (November: Maine Holiday and Thanksgiving)

December 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Oceanside coast of the island in Maine we stayed on.

Oceanside coast of the island in Maine we stayed on.

Hello my lovely readers!

Sorry for the delay in November’s post.  I was away for the last week of November on vacation, and I knew it would be the best part of the month to talk about, so I didn’t want to preschedule a post. 🙂

My partner and I both had the last week of November off.  He usually gets the entire week off for the holiday, and I took an extra three days off on top of the normal Thanksgiving days (day of and day after Thanksgiving).  We split our vacation between a trip to Portland, Maine and a trip to vacation to see my dad and brother and his wife and kids.

For those of you who are not from the US and don’t know, November in Maine is *cold*.  It’s officially the off-season.  This meant we got to go on the cheap but it also meant it was cold  We’re both from northern climates though (Vermont and Michigan), so we dealt well.  Portland, Maine is a happening, hip small city.  It holds 1/3 of the entire population of Maine.  We stayed on an island off the coast of Portland, which meant we had to take the ferry in and out of the city each day.  Originally our intention was to rent bicycles and bike around the island one day, but it was too cold one of the days and there was snow the other (and the bike rental place didn’t have snow-friendly bikes), so we went into Portland both days.  The cabin we stayed in had a hot tub, fire place, and one of those showers that takes up the entire bathroom.  So we got to hot tub in the snow, which was an entirely new experience to me, and I clearly loved!

While in Portland, we went to the International Cryptozoology Museum, which is a delightful museum run by the world expert on Bigfoot.  I’m more of a sea monster girl myself, but we still got our picture with Bigfoot.  We also hit up the Shipyard Brewing Company and got lots of free samples and got to see the bottling and brewing process.  I was surprised to learn that Shipyard was started by an immigrant to the US from the UK.  We also went to an official Cabot store.  Cabot is an American cooperative of New York and New England dairy farms.  They have amazing dairy products.

Vegan satay from Green Elephant

Vegan satay from Green Elephant

For food, we visited the original Otto Pizza.  The pizza at the original branch is approximately 100% more delicious than the pizza at the new branches down here in Boston.  They also had Magic Hat on tap, which floored me! We also did something special for each of our dietary preferences (I’m veg and my partner is omni).  We went to Duck Fat for my partner to get poutine made in duck fat.   I couldn’t eat anything at the restaurant because literally everything was friend in duck fat, but I did have a delicious locally brewed beer.  For me, we went to the Green Elephant, a vegetarian Thai restaurant that was positively reviewed in VegNews magazine.  Their bathrooms were literal saunas, and I for once got to have satay for an app! (Made from seitan). But our favorite place in Portland was an Irish pub named Ri Ra on the waterfront.  Their menu catered perfectly to both of our dietary needs, with a house-made white bean veggie burger for me and a perfectly cooked medium burger for my partner.  We liked them so much we went twice.  (The second night I had mac and cheese made with Irish cheddar and my bf had Maine steamers).  Incredibly reasonably priced with fireplaces and a wonderful staff, I wish it was closer to us!

After Maine, we drove up to New Hampshire to visit my family for Thanksgiving.  The day of Thanksgiving was just my dad, his dog, and my partner and I, since my brother and sister-in-law were hosting her parents for the holiday.  My bf made the turkey (under the direction of my dad), my dad made veggie stuffing and gravy, and I made 3 bean chili (for my main course and their sides).  We had untraditional alcoholic smoothies for dessert.  It was delicious!  The next day, we visited my brother and his family and gave my nephews and niece their Christmas presents.  They range in age from 2 to 6, so that was obviously a delight.

The vacation was amazing and just what we needed!  And when we got back, we immediately got our tree and set it up, because in only three weeks we’re off on a cross-country trek to visit my partner’s family for the holidays.

Happy holidays all!

 

Friday Fun! (Camping and Where I Have Been!)

September 15, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

Yes, I realize it’s technically Saturday, but things have been rather quiet around here the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer!  So why have things been so quiet?

Well, first, it was Labor Day weekend here in the States, and I actually for once went on vacation for it. Shocking, I know.  I went camping in the Green Mountains.  This was the view from my tent:

Gorgeous, eh?  And it was such a great break!  Zero technology. My cell phone didn’t even have reception.  I got disgustingly filthy, and I loved it.  I went for a swim in the pond and for a hike and cooked over a campfire.

Oh, yes, and the boy I’ve been dating asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. 😀 He’s an awesome boyfriend, and I love him.

Beyond the vacation and personal development, it’s the start of the semester at work, so I’ve been incredibly busy with beginning of the semester library classes, orientations, and just general helping out the new students.  Also, the audiobook I’m currently reading while completely *awesome* (Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi), is also super-long.  The other book I was reading on my kindle that will be reviewed next week was kind of dullsville, so had trouble holding my interest.  All of these things came together to make for a bit of silence, BUT!  Never fear. I will always return! With bells on. 😀

Happy weekends all!

 

Friday Fun! (Happy Birthday To Me! Ok, Ok, and America)

Hello my lovely readers!

This was a very busy week for me because: a) I turned 26 b) 4th of July (aka America Fuck Yeah) c) I had a 4 day weekend d) I road tripped with my bestie to New Hampshire/Vermont to visit the fam.

Whew! I’m exhausted just typing that!

I’m like super old now at the ripe age of 26. (I tease. I had my quarter life crisis last year. 😉 ) My daddy made me birthday pie (strawberry-rhubarb, my favorite), because I prefer pie to cake. PIE TOTALLY WINS SHUSH.  I also got (from family and friends): cooking gear, a window-mount birdfeeder to provide cat tv, cat toys, photoshop, and an itunes gift card. You guys are the bestest! I feel so loved. 😀

I, unfortunately, caught some sort of stomach bug so I spent most of my holiday weekend sick. Epic. Sad. Face. I have an intense love for Independence Day, so that was a bummer.  I did discover, however, that I can see most of the Boston fireworks from my couch, which is awesome.  Also, I had already set off fireworks in NH so admittedly I’d already had some crash bang.

Luckily I was better in time for work, so I didn’t miss any of that.  I did miss the gym whilst I was sick though. I’ll be returning tonight.

Happy belated 4th! Happy weekends!

Book Review: A Cold Night for Alligators by Nick Crowe

Snout of a gator on a yellow background.Summary:
One day on his way home from work, a homeless man shoves Jasper in front of a subway train.  Waking up months later from a coma with medical leave from his job, his (now ex) girlfriend living in his house with her new boyfriend, religious Donny, Jasper decides to join Donny and his best friend Duane on a trip south from Canada to Florida.  Donny and Duane are going fishing, but Jasper is on a hunt for his brother who disappeared ten years ago at the age of seventeen.  He has a hunch he may have returned to what was previously a happy family vacation spot.

Review:
This is one of those situations where I recognize that the book is well-written, but personally I just didn’t like it.  The combination of the plot and characters struck a sour note for me, although I can see other people enjoying it.

I struggled because I simply did not find a single character to like.  I didn’t like Jasper, his ex Kim, her new boyfriend Donny, the best friend Duane, the long lost Aunt Val, well, you get the picture.  None of them were people I could relate to or sympathize with.  Not a single one!  That is rare in a book for me.  I can relate to characters from all over the world and all over time itself, but here. Yeesh.  I mean, it’s bad when you’re agreeing with the villain (who you also don’t like) that the main character is a pussy.  That’s just generally a bad sign.

I also found myself struggling some with the flow of the plot.  It’s rather unevenly structured with random side stories such as an entire chapter devoted to Duane taking a bar bet to eat 19 pickled eggs.  So much time devoted to this point (that was gross to read about) and it never turned out to be relevant.  It felt at certain points like Crowe was writing just to write, and it’s not that they’re badly done scenes, they’re just not relevant to the book.

Similarly, and consider this your spoiler alert, characters escape alligators just a few too many times.  Having one character who is a gator whisperer is fine, but having other characters repeatedly escaping gators is just insanity and unbelievable.  It left me wondering if Crowe has ever actually watched the Discovery Channel.

Overall, this is a book that left me decidedly lukewarm.  The characters are so average as to be dull, and the way they look on the rest of the world left me feeling a bit sour.  I would recommend this book to people who enjoy literary fiction that moves at a slow pace, as well as those interested in a Canadian’s view of Florida.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Netgalley

Buy It

Friday Fun! (Updates Ahoy)

April 27, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

Wow what a crazy week it’s been!  Between being slowed down by hobbling everywhere, getting settled in at work, and getting ready to go out of town….it’s just flown by!

I *did* play one of my xbox kinect dancing games in spite of my stitches a couple of days in a row (I know, bad Amanda).  Also over my weekend I managed to get some time in on Waiting for Daybreak‘s edits.  It’s so close you guys.  I’m thinking a July blog tour.  Anyway, I finally got back into the gym last night, and got praise from my trainer, so it appears my attempts at healthy eating/drinking to keep my fitness going in spite of injury are working!

Things may be a bit slow around here next week, since this week I’ve been working on a chunkster, one of my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge booksAcacia: The War with the Mein.  PLUS even if I do finish up some books this weekend, I won’t be blogging them for a bit since I’m spending the weekend visiting my dad up in Vermont.  It’s a mini-vacation yay! One I sorely need too.  I haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving.  Crazy, I know.

Progress continues, even when it’s not obvious.  Writing, reading, fitness, bonding……it all plugs along as long as you keep at it!

Happy weekends all.  Care to tell me a chunkster that you feel is worth the time?

Friday Fun! (Staycation Report)

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you didn’t miss me *too* terribly much while I was on vacation.  😉  I must say, a vacation was exactly what I needed.  I had a lot of time to think without the stress of work or job hunting or school or any of that hanging over my head, and I feel like my head is screwed on much more straight now, I must admit.  I’m re-focused and have new energy.

So what all did I get up to?  Well, I went out for Asian fusion with one of my friends.  The mix of sushi, seaweed salad, and kushiyaki was awesome, but of course the highlight of the meal was the White Crane sake.  Nom.  That is all I have to say about that.  I also hit up a local pub that has a huge, huuuuge beer selection.  My friend calls it “the cheesecake factory of beer.”  Damn straight.  It just so happened that the final game of Bruins vs. Montreal was on, so we got to take that in with the crowd as well.  It was quite the memorable night.

I also met up with a member of Team Unicorn for lunch.  I so rarely get to see any of them outside of our periodic gatherings.  I also spent an afternoon reading by the Charles (and getting sunburned), as well as taking in the sights at the MFA.  I wanted to see the Chihuly exhibit, but I never did find it.  In fact, I had trouble getting out of the Asian and Ancient Europe section.  Ah well.

A friend and I hung out and made this incredible recipe of doom.  It was amazing. And there was strawberry jam all over my floor the next morning.

As you can see from my post earlier this week, I also took in the Boston Ballet for the first time since I was very young.  I had a fun time, but I must say it was not what I was expecting.  I also finally tried Zaftig’s restaurant for the first time after hearing it highly praised among Team Unicorn for a very long time.  I had an in-house made black bean burger, and I admit, it was the best one I’ve had in the Boston area.

I spent a day riding my bike around the city, partaking in a session with my trainer, and lounging around Harvard Square and on the river.  After that, I got the urge to spring clean.  I sorted, organized, recycled, and bagged up four trash bags of items to donate this week.  I also started scrubbing down the walls, but still have a few left to do.  My whole apartment feels so much lighter, fresher, and more homey now.  I’m so glad I took the time to spring clean.

That was pretty much my staycation, and I think I did a fairly good job keeping it well-rounded.  I’ve returned refreshed, and I must say that I fully intend to not let so much time go on before I take another one again.  Happy weekends!

Hey Ya’ll!!

April 27, 2011 1 comment

I just wanted to write up a quick post to tell you that

I AM GOING TO BE ON VACATION FOR A WEEK!!!!!

Until Wednesday to be exact.  Granted, it’s a staycation, but it’s my first holiday from work since when I graduated from undergrad.  I know, I know.  Anyway, if I feel so inclined I might post before then, but don’t count on it. I am, after all, planning on being out and about taking my lovely city of Boston by storm.  Also possibly sleeping periodically.  Maybe.

Eh, who am I kidding, I rarely sleep!!  But there will definitely be sake involved.