My Life of Travels and Adventures: March 2011

Book Review: The Almost Moon

30 March 2011

I finished The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold while traveling last week.  It was interesting to say the least. 

According to goodreads...
A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

I really don't know if I enjoyed the book.  It is a well written book on a tough topic.   I does not compare to The Lovely Bones.  Which I wanted it too.  So in that sense it was a disappointment.  However, it did get me thinking...   How much is too much when caring for a sick/old loved one?  So overall, an okay book.  2.5 out of 5 on my scale. 

Book Review: House Rules

28 March 2011

Another book review....  I finally finished House Rules by Jodi Picoult.

According to goodreads...

House RulesWhen your son can’t look you in the eye . . . does that mean he’s guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.

But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

I really enjoyed this book.  The last half of the book I was captivated and was anticipating the ending.  However, it was not what I expected.  But was really good still.  Yet another good Picoult book with a trial.  Definitely a book which I recommend.  5 out of 5!

Recipe - Apple Cake

26 March 2011

We have had quite a few soft apples I decided to use some up in an Apple Cake.  My typical Apple Cake recipe has the apples caramelized and cooked on the top of the cake.  I decided to try this new recipe with the apples baked throughout the cake.

2 Eggs, beaten
3 cups flour
2 tsp lemon peel
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (I used an angel food cake pan).
2. Mix the flour, lemon peel, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt together.
3. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, apple sauce and vanilla together.

4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low until combined.

5. Fold in the apples and toasted pecans.
6. Spoon batter into the pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake for 1 hour.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
This cake turned out moist and yummy!

Recipe - Beef Stew

23 March 2011

This beef stew is a favorite by all. So tasty!
2 lbs lean beef, cubed
2 large onions, chopped
1 Tsp seasoning salt
10 oz beef broth
4 cups diced potatoes
2 1/2 cup diced carrots - I usually use a whole bag of chopped baby carrots
1 bunch of celery

1. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet.  Season with seasoning salt.
2. Add beef, onion and juices to the beef broth in a large stock pot.
3. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour.
4. Add potatoes, carrots and celery. (If there is not enough liquid, add enough water to cover all the vegetables)  Cook for 30 minutes.
5. Add pepper to season.

Recipe - Southwest Bean Soup

19 March 2011

I saw this recipe in a magazine a while ago.  I thought it sounded like a yummy soup for the husband.  He was kind of leary... Seeing there was no meat in it.  With a few adjustments, turns out he liked it!

2 large onion, chopped
2 bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves minced
45 oz beef broth
30 oz black beans
45 oz diced tomatos
8 oz chopped green chilies
2 cups frozen corn
2 Tsp chili powder
1 Tsp cumin

1. Cook onions, peppers and garlic in a large saucepan.
2. Add all the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Makes about 12 cups.

Each cup is only 3 WW ProPoints. 

Five Things Friday

18 March 2011

Where did this week go?  It is Friday already?
  1. This weekend and the following are Maple Weekend.  If you are in the New York or the northeast check out your local Maple Producers.  We will be spending the weekend at Moore's Pancake House & Maple Shack helping out in the family business of making pure maple syrup and serving all you can eat pancakes!
  2. Last night was my long run.  8 miles were on the schedule. What did I do? 9.17 miles. This run also served as my run for the Shake your Shamrock Run hosted by Aneta at My Running Bucket.  Since this was a race, a race report will follow shortly. 
  3. Last night was power yoga.  It was quite painful being that I finished my run only an hour before class. But I powered through and completed the class (minus some moves that included bending my right knee).  Aleve is my friend this morning.
  4. I am still getting over this cold.  I have had it for well over a week and it will not go away.  I am down to a runny/stuffy nose and some pressure in my ears.  It is more annoying now than painful.
  5. Finally, it's Friday!  Even though the week went by quickly I am still excited for the weekend.
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