Friday, April 21, 2017

Dark Matter - April Book Club

I got one of my book choices picked for April book club. I read about Dark Matter by Blake Crouch in a magazine shortly after the book came out last year and immediately put it on my to-read list. It sounded interesting, and I think they are making it into a movie.

It's a science-fiction novel about a man named Jason who lives in Chicago with his wife and son. But one night, he's abducted and injected with something. He loses consciousness and when he wakes up, he's in a laboratory surrounded by people he doesn't know. Not only that, but he's in a world where his wife is not his wife and his son has never been born.

What did I think? This book definitely kept me guessing. It's kind of hard to talk about it without giving too much away, so I'll try not to give as many spoilers as I can.

When Jason woke up in this new world, I immediately thought of a TV show from several years ago where a guy goes to sleep in one world and wakes up in another. He lives out his day in the new world, and then goes to sleep and wakes up again in the first world. Part of me wondered if that was what was going on here, but then I kept reading.

What's actually happening is very science-y, and I did feel like some of the explanation went over my head. But I managed to understand the gist of what was happening. It really is kind of mind-blowing.

There is a bit of violence in the book, so if that sort of thing bothers you, I don't think you should read this book.

What did my book club think? All of us enjoyed the book and our discussion often went so far beyond what our minds could comprehend that we had to take a step back and shake our heads. The other three book club members said that this was a book that was outside their wheelhouse, but they were all glad that they read it. They liked that it wasn't too difficult to follow, despite their being some scientific explanations in the middle of it, and that it was a quick read.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You Make My Heart Sing Scrapbook Page

This was a really fast layout to put together. I used up some old American Crafts papers, some Me & My Big Ideas flower stickers that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, and some old washi tape. The title card came from an American Crafts paper pack.

Ooo, and you can see that raided my ribbon stash for this layout, too. How do you guys adhere your ribbon? I run it through my Xyron sticker maker to get adhesive on the back of it. Sometimes I use staples, but only if I feel like the staples could be a good addition to the feel of the layout.

Anyway, I was really glad with the way the layout turned out. It's always nice when things just come together and you end up not having to spend a lot of time agonizing over how to arrange all the elements on the page.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - April 17

Sorry for the lack of Meal Plan Monday last week. I wasn't feeling very inspired in my cooking and so by the time I got a meal plan made, it was too late to post.

Not much inspiration this week either, mainly because we have so much in the way of Easter leftovers, so there really isn't much that we need to plan. But I'll post the menu anyway.

Sunday: Easter dinner

Monday: Coconut Chicken Salad with Warm Honey Vinaigrette

Tuesday: Easter leftovers

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: Easter leftovers

Friday: turkey burgers and fries

Saturday: out

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cooksimple Chipotle Sorghum Pilaf Side Dish to Main Dish

At the NJ GFAF Expo last year, I received a sample of Cooksimple's Chipotle Sorghum Pilaf. It sat in my pantry for months before I finally decided to do something with it.

I turned it from a side dish into a main dish!

If you happened to see my Instagram Story about it several weeks ago, then you'll know what I did. Basically, I cooked up the pilaf according to the package directions. (The front of the box said it took five minutes, but the back of the box said it took 45 minutes! It was more like 40.)

Then, I sauted up some pre-cooked, sliced chorizo in a skillet. Once that was done, I added the chorizo to the pilaf. And that was it!

The spiciness of the chorizo was a nice combination with the pilaf's apples and sweet potatoes. I really like the blend of hot and sweet. But if chorizo is too spicy for you, I think you could easily use smoked sausage as a substitute. That would be really good!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Adventures Scrapbook Page

Last summer/fall, I had a whole list of things that the baby and I were going to do together on days when I was home with her. Instead, I feel like we spent a lot of time at the doctor's office due to a never-ending cold and cough. Or the weather was bad so we couldn't go outside and do what I wanted.

Still, we managed to have some good times, and I tried to take pictures of as many of them as I could.

This cute two-pager was given to me by my mom. I had to put everything together, but she got it as part of a kit and gave it to me. The kit's instructions wanted me to use wire and stitch the buttons, and I just didn't have time for that. So I just used Zots to adhere the buttons and the white twine.

I dashed and dotted the yellow cardstock to make it look like the dashed and dotted edges of the stroller pieces.

For the title, I used American Crafts Thickers and October Afternoon mini stickers.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Love Books Scrapbook Page

My little book lover! She may just grow up to be a librarian some day. If she would ever stop removing the books off the shelf and not putting them back!

For this layout, I used my stencil! I kept it simple, though, because I did have a lot of pictures to fit. Basic squares seemed the easiest way to do it. I really like how it turned out!

And then I just added some old American Crafts embellishments, and my on-sale American Crafts Thickers.

All of the papers on this one came from the "kit" I made myself out of the sale papers at Michael's. The background is actually made up of a pink cardstock with a vellum overlay. The overlay has the gold lettering all over it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sucktown, Alaska - Book Review

In Craig Dirkes' debut novel Sucktown, Alaska, the author uses personal experience to craft a fictional YA story about Eddie, an 18-year-old college flunk-out who moves to a small town in Alaska to gain experience that will prove he is serious about being a student. He gets a job writing for the local newspaper. He makes a new friend. He develops a crush on a girl. He starts selling weed.

Wait, what?

Yup. Selling weed is a huge part of this story and, eventually, it is supposed to serve as Eddie's wake-up call and point of redemption, but for me it didn't really work.

Part of that is because I didn't find Eddie to be a likable guy. He's pretty full of himself, as I suppose most 18-year-olds are, and the way he talks is rather coarse. When he meets Taylor, the girl he has a crush on, he's taken by her boobs. And then we continue to hear him mention her boobs and her butt and all of that throughout the rest of the book. I get it. She's hot. (Except she has a wonky eye or something. I wasn't really sure what was supposed to be wrong with her eye. I kept thinking that it would be addressed at some point, but it never was.)

But aside from being hot, Taylor is also her high school class' valedictorian. So she's also pretty smart, something that I'm not sure Eddie fully appreciates, and if she's so smart, then why is she falling for Eddie? I guess this place is so tiny that the girls are hard-up for guys.

Aside from finding each other physically attractive, I wasn't picking up on any real chemistry between these characters. And that was also another thing that didn't work for me. Many of the B characters were drawn thin. I wished there had been a little more development.

Eddie does change toward the end, but by the time he reaches that point, I was already done with him and I didn't really care that he was finally trying to make things right.

This book is age-rated 14+, and I find it really hard to think that a 14-year-old might be reading this book. There was a lot of specific marijuana lingo happening in the book, and I didn't understand any of it, so I really hope that 14-year-olds don't understand it either.

I almost think that if the story had gone darker and deeper, it could have been an interesting general fiction book for adults.

I think if anyone is going to read this book, it should be kids who are at least 18. It could make a nice high school graduation present and serve as a cautionary tale to those kids to not drink their way through their first semesters of college or sell weed because bad things will happen.

Sucktown, Alaska is published by Switch Press and will be on bookstore shelves on May 1, 2017. I received a free ARC for my honest review.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Meal Plan Monday - April 3

Happy April! Did anybody get pranked on April 1?

Here's what we're eating this week. Don't freak out if you see "waffles and eggs" and "tuna sandwiches and fries" on here yet again. Both were on last week's menu, but we didn't have them. We ended up with so many leftovers that we didn't need to use those dinners. So because they are easy and fast, we're going to try and have them this week. We'll see! But that's the beauty of the meal plan. You plan it out, and then you can rearrange as things come up, and if you do rearrange, then you have stuff ready to go for the following week. (*denotes new recipe)

Sunday: turkey burgers, roasted smashed potatoes, and corn

Monday: one-pot cheesy risotto with chicken sausage*

Tuesday: waffles and eggs

Wednesday: pepper jack cheesy mac

Thursday: tuna sandwiches and fries

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: on our own