Category Archives: Discussion

NPBC – The Night Circus

It’s time for another session of the No Pressure Book Club!

This month’s selection is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
To read the full description, click on the title link above!

Meeting location is Starbucks. Skinny iced peppermint mocha, please and thank you!

Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the group last night. Driving along the route I chose to take, I noticed this:

My first thoughts were hmm something’s burning. The wildfire in Colorado came to mind. We will be traveling out there next Saturday to spend the week visiting my parents.

Getting closer to where I would get on the interstate the smoke was stronger.

The picture can not do it justice… the smoke was incredibly dark and thick, it appeared to be boiling and rolling upwards. Across the street police vehicles had traffic stopped and I thought perhaps there was a fire at an old factory area that is further down the road.

Turning onto the on-ramp for the interstate I noticed that traffic was at a standstill. Coming to the end of the ramp I could see people, out of their vehicles, standing on the road. Another vehicle was circling back around, the driver told me that there had been a wreck involving a truck and 18 wheeler.. they were on fire. To read the article of what happened click here. Following the previous vehicle, I circled and drove down the on-ramp(that in itself felt very weird.. wrong way!), making my way back to the interchange into what was an ever-growing sea of vehicle confusion. I made it home safely, grateful not to be involved in anymore than what was encountered.

This morning, Shellie – the founder of the NPBC – filled me in on some of the discussion and let me know I was missed by the group. Here are some highlights followed by my own thoughts.
** Spoiler Alert** Please do not read this section if you do not want to know any details about the book.

The group:

1. agreed they liked/loved the book. Two loved it and two of us liked it–(I’m in the liked group)

2. Poppet and Widget were beloved characters, Celia was also a favorite. Bailey was also well liked. I agree. One lady, P, believed Marco had an evil streak in him. I liked him, but didn’t care how long he strung Isobel along. I understand tho, he had a need for friendship with someone since his life lacked so little social interaction and I feel Isobel took her feelings further than Marco expressed. But he could have set clearer boundaries for their friendship/relationship.

3. wished there was more information provided about the two father/master/trainer figures and the reasoning behind and details of the duels. Also, despised the evilness in how “Prospero” treated and “trained” Celia. agreed and agreed.

4. discussed that it was a very detailed book. Yes, I really liked trying to picture the elements of the circus in my head.

5. everyone liked the ending of the book. It is believed there maybe a sequel, if not a trilogy, of the story. Speculating on what the story may continue to develop into: perhaps it gets darker, one that goes into a good vs evil theme. One lady, K, she hopes it evolves into a deeper storyline with the characters involved and to include more info on the father/master/trainer figures with more action into the account. I, too, liked the ending. Also wondered if the parts that were read as if you were in the circus was actually the story that Widget is telling, as per the request of the Man in Grey “A”, to own the circus.

The Night Circus unfolded in a different direction than I was expecting when starting it. Based on the description I imagined more: more action based duels, different uses of magic, more interactions between the two magicians, more information. However, I came to enjoy their displays and admiration of each other. The labyrinth they worked on together, each room an answer to the other’s previous design, I imagine would have been wonderful to explore. Not to mention the circus itself: the sights, sounds and smells.

Personally, I would like to read the book through again. A lot of switching back and forth occurs: of dates, of stories, and point of views. Now that I know what happens (and what not to expect) a reevaluation of the story and connecting details I may have skimmed over or not fully grasped the first read through will be interesting.

What were your thoughts about The Night Circus? Anything in particular stand out to you?

NPBC – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Initially, when browsing books to choose from, at our first meeting this title jumped out at me. I adore Jane Austen’s novels and characters so something that has a potential link to her or her works generates a spark of immediate interest.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler to be our first read. Being that I work in a library the very next day I checked to see if we had it on hand. Checked  out — drats! I decided quickly to purchase the book via Kindle app on my iPad. I couldn’t wait to delve into the plot. The summary had me enticed at what possibilities lay ahead.

Courtney Stone, after suffering humiliation at the hands of her fiance, falls asleep reading a favorite Jane Austen novel and wakes up in bedroom that doesn’t belong to her. In fact, she wakes up to find she is in a different person’s body — in another century! Believing herself in a dream she is indifferent to her predicament.
Quickly the importance of carrying on as who she appears to be, Jane Mansfield, is impressed upon her if she is to survive in this time period. Courtney, while trying to blend in and understand the requirements of the time she is in, also searches for how she can get back to Los Angeles and her own life.

SPOILERPlease do not read further if you plan to read this book!

In the beginning I was intrigued as to how events would unfold and eager to see what Courtney would experience. But I became disappointed with this character. While she proclaimed to be an avid fan of Jane Austen’s works, her actions and thoughts didn’t seem to show it. I imagine that if any of us would somehow be transported to the nineteenth century that, yes, it would be a shock and we would definitely not know how to react to a lot of things. (e.g. dinner customs, phrases of language, bathing, and other hygiene matters) Although how she thought and acted towards men she found attractive, would someone who is “well-versed” in Austen act that way without thinking of what the implications could be? It just struck me as odd.

Another thing was constant comparison of Wes to Charles. Did they have a connection?

Her discussion with the fortune-teller only brought more questions. Was she saying that an identity could be fluid and wherever your focus is at the time is who you are? Had she been Jane all along, as well as Courtney? Since James referenced that Jane “always did talk like that” when it came to rank and people’s station in life according to their family. Along with the stories of Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks.

Then there is the diary letter at the end — where she admits to have forgotten most everything. That Charles reminded her that she had “the gift of story” and wanted to hear again the story she told him on their wedding journey. After that, it’s all just a story to her and she mentions her “whispering to me at odd times and telling me her tales.”

I feel that, without a firm explanation given, the ending felt rushed and confusing. I was disappointed to the point where I decided reading the sequel was not on my to-do list. At least not any time soon.

The No Pressure Book Club met Thursday, May 17, at Corner Bakery Cafe to discuss our thoughts about Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.


After only a few minutes it was apparent we all shared the same opinion.

Although enjoying small points — bathing and hygiene customs — being brought out that might not be thought of while reading Austen novels, we were disappointed in the book. We agreed that the explanation of what happened (or lack-of), especially the ending, seemed as if the words just ran circles around each other and did not make much sense. One of the ladies said that, while reading the ending, she felt the author thought of the readers as stupid due to how she left the ending of the book.

Have you read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict ? What were your thoughts?

I’m holding out hope that our next title – The Night Circus – I will enjoy more!

I chose a slice of lemon pound cake and brought home a chocolate baby bundt cake for Ken. His won the best treat of the night award in my book.

I’m Walking on Sunshine

Renewed.

The sweet smell of freshly mowed grass.
The warmth of sunshine on my body.
The crisp air slightly burning my lungs as I inhale.
The gentle breeze offering cooling refreshment.

The past two days it has been perfect outside!

I have started walking again on my breaks.. it may only be 10 minutes 2-3 times a day.. but every little bit helps and it seems to recharge me.

Its so easy to recall “that feeling” I get from exercising when I’m out walking. The satisfaction of not only accomplishing goals but how amazing I feel physically and personally when keeping up my activity. 11 pounds to get back to where I was… that is no mountain to climb. I must do more than talk about doing something about it though.

Of course this all easily slips from my mind when I get home.. the couch is soooo comfy… and the bed.. well it has a tight hold on me in the morning.

I have to constantly remind myself that I will feel better if I get up and accomplish what I know will make me feel good. Maybe one morning it will sink in and make me roll out of bed.

What gives you motivation? How do you keep it?

Just One Day?

aaawww *sigh* — Valentine’s Day…

Hope you had a great one. I did.

Ken is not always the most patient person especially when it comes to gifts. He got his Valentine’s day present the day before. A single white rose and framed quote. But his card he would have to wait for!

“If I had my life to live over again…
Next time I would find you sooner so that I could love you longer.” —
quote in frame

On the 14th he told me that I would be getting something delivered, that he just hoped it made it on time. Throughout the day, I saw all the other arrangements that arrived (front desk privileges) and received numerous texts from him to see if I had received anything yet. Same answer though: nope, not yet :).


Patience is a virtue… but it can be hard!

Then at 4:30 my flowers finally arrived! They were so pretty and had a heart balloon 🙂


Special Delivery!

The lady that delivered them asked me if I had already received another arrangement… to which I looked confused and said nooo?…then she explained that somehow my arrangement could not be found and so the woman at the shop threw this arrangement together so that I could get one. Which I thought was nice but was still confused at how they lost the original arrangement.

When I got home I thanked Ken for my flowers and he said he was relieved that they made it. I told him the story that the delivery woman had relayed to me, he then looked closely at the arrangement and said he didn’t know if it was exactly what he ordered. He pulled up the website and double-checked what he ordered and while they were simular, was not the same.

  =/=   
(source) — I was even more impressed that he chose this arrangement for me! I’ve tried impressing on him the fact that I love other flowers besides standard roses — I think it’s worked!

The presentation was different, it was missing some flowers and it appeared to be a small arrangement size (he paid for large) with more greenery than flowers. Like I said, I was happy with them, they are pretty, but for what he ordered and paid for, they were not right. I urged him to email the company, he of course said I could.. so I did the next morning. The result was definitely not what we expected.. they refunded him completely and gave a $20.00 gift card. Wow, thank you.

We were planning to go out to eat but at the last minute decided to stay in exchange cards, light candles and order Hungry Howie’s pizza.. yum!
                               
We changed into our jammies (okay, okay.. he was in lounge pants and t-shirt.. I was the one in fleece pants and my Chilly Willy shirt) and finally watched the two hour premier of Terra Nova we had been avoiding saving for the right moment. It is a really good show and we have the whole season stored on our dvr… no waiting for new episodes! It was nothing fancy or g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s (thanks Fergie!) but we enjoyed spending time together.

Which brings me to the title of this post… should the concept of Valentine’s Day be only for just one day? One day set aside to show someone how much you love them? Or should it serve as a reminder of how we should view and treat our loved ones all year long? I believe that it helps us remember what it really important: set time aside to spend it with the one you love … with some extra flowers and gifts added in 😉

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Did you plan/do anything extra special?

I’m a Playa..

                                             A long time ago in a galaxy living room far, far away…….

sat a man and woman in their pj’s clicking away at their desktop and laptop respectively. Yes, my husband and I are gamers. Him more so than me, I enjoy watching the interesting storyline of a game if he is playing one I’m not into playing for myself. He has PS3 with Move, XBox 360 with Kinect, and a Wii that has been shoved into the bedroom (poor Wii.. I’m sorry but we really don’t have much use for you since Kinect came out.)

One christmas gift I got him was the new MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) for the PC called Star Wars The Old Republic. At the time of purchase I just thought it would be another game to add to the collection, something I’d ask about the gameplay but wouldn’t be interested in it for myself. Then I saw him playing it. It is awesome! Not only does it have the basically standard features of an MMO: you create your character, choosing your species and class (e.g. Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler and a few others) BUT there are options when it comes to conversation responses in the fully cinematic interactions with mission givers. So how you choose to respond changes not only how they respond to you but the rest of the gameplay and some decisions give you either Light side points or Dark side points… depending on which side of the Force you’d like to stand.

So with that being said I got my very own copy of the game last week and have been hooked since! Spending our evenings going on sometimes perilous missions listening to the sweet sounds of ptew ptew ptew of blasters and the wmaaa wmaaaa waaaaamss of lightsabers.

Nerd… I know… But I think I prefer the term Geek…

Today’s #FebPhotoADay was words

“In a world where you can be anything ~~ Be yourself”

Years ago I saw these words in a magazine and they have stuck with me. I even cut it out and taped it on my closet door(ya know that was the cool thing to do, along with movie posters on the wall)

Day 2 of Naked Eyes

Yep, I think I rocked my naked eyes today.. and notice that Farrah Fawcett feathering (say that 10 times fast) going on.. my hair wants to do that naturally, it would have been awesome in the 70’s.

Are there any games you like to play? Any words that inspire or have stuck with you?

Everyone Loves a Good Challenge

So my year is off with a bang!

Several good things, small and big: We are anxiously awaiting the ‘go ahead’ on getting things started on buying a house, got new brake pads on my car (no more grinding noise!), received a great year-end review at work, got a new cellphone that does amazing things! — loving the talk to text feature SO NEAT! the accuracy is pretty amazing. It also answers my question of could communicating get anymore lazy easier than sending texts.. yes it can! you can talk your text instead of touching buttons.. and I love it. (it’s especially hilarious some of the words it mistakes me for saying)

Its also been a busy month already: that work review — yeah it was today– and I started two challenges for the month (more on this later) I also managed to break a light bulb at work. Not so good, but really, they shouldn’t have left the bulb wrapped in a cloth on my desk.. how was I to know that the cloth was concealing that.

So this month I will be participating in two challenges: The Naked Face Project, which I wrote about earlier, and #FebPhotoADay.

#FebPhotoADay is a photo challenge for the month of February. I started seeing tweets with the hashtag and thought it was just photos people randomly decided to post. Then I saw Jenn @ Eating bender’s post and thankfully discovered that it was an actual challeneg and it had rules. (before I made a fool of myself on Twitter by randomly posting a picture with that hashtag)

Here are the rules for #FebPhotoADay –

Here was My View Today

Here is my Day 1 Naked Eyes

How has February 1st been to you?

Dare to Bare…

It all.

Okay, not EVERYthing… but it may feel like it to you.

I happened to come across this post Monday from Caitlin @ Healthy Tipping Point. I thought “wow! good for them if they are brave enough to go without all that!” and moved right along not giving it anymore thought to the challenge.

This morning however, while getting ready for work, the gears slowly started turning. What could I “go naked” with? Honestly, I would not be comfortable at all committing to go without ANY makeup –everywhere–  for any amount of time. 97% of the time I will put on makeup if going out into the world… not just for my sanity and boost of confidence, but also for the people (don’t want to scare anyone!)
So all makeup was out.. and I’m pretty sure Ken would cry and be totally grossed out if I gave up shaving for the month. (I would too)

So while swirling my foundation brush around its palette (aka mah face) I started contemplating what I realistically could try… then it came to me. 

I love eye makeup..well any kind of makeup. I even worked at a makeup counter for a while. Eye shadows in all forms and colors, eyeliners, mascara… but none of it will be making an appearance this month.The month of February I will claim as my month for naked eyes. No eye makeup for the whole month.

To me, eye makeup is a finishing touch, one that polishes your whole look. This morning and all through the day so far when looking in the mirror, my eyes seem to look forgotten. I wonder how I will feel about the look at the end of the month. It does seem that my eyes feel different without it. (all in my head I’m sure) But it is nice not worrying if my eyeliner smudged where it shouldn’t or if mascara will flake off and mess with my contacts. 

I’m not going to mention to Ken or anyone really that I’m doing this project, just wait and see if anyone notices. The not shaving thing he would definitely have noticed as well as the complete no makeup thing.. he knows how I am with makeup in general. He has gotten use to waiting hours minutes on me to finish my makeup before going out.(or finishing it in the car, not while driving of course) With eye makeup, although important, I feel it is a completely achievable goal for the month.

If you are interested in learning more about the Naked Face Project please visit their website.

Do you love makeup? Have a favorite part( e.g.:blush,bronzer,eye shadow) ? Is there something you could go bare with?

Be Thankful Challenge–Completed

I first learned about the Be Thankful Challenge from Tina @ Carrots ‘n’ Cake.  I started off strong the first five days of the challenge:
1. my job 
2. ponytail holders
3. warm socks
4. dancing games
5. time-tested and new friends

Then I got distracted from my blogging. I believed very strongly in the importance of this challenge and decided to finish it for myself. The rest of the list for what I’m thankful for:

6. jeans
7. bath confetti
8. fun colored flats
9. sunshine
10. self sticky envelopes
11. old pictures
12. high heels
13. scarves
14. karaoke
15. make-up
16. electricity
17. talk-to-text feature on my new phone
18. rain while i’m sleeping
19. zune for music while walking
20. recipes
21. air conditioning
22. warm blankets
23. Jesus everything he has done and is still doing for us
24. my parents & in-laws
25. rainbows
26. prayer
27. my hubby
28. 2 player video games (with at least one female character)
29. my 5 senses
30. chocolate

Do you believe it is important to single out one thing, big or small,  everyday to be thankful for?

Must-Haves

Yesterday I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work. To be able to make pizza for dinner I had to pick up two very important staples for the kitchen: butter and cheese. -hello southern kitchen!- Also, I was not alone in the store. (oh to dream! not having the awkward hovering in the aisles while you are trying to decide what canned vegetables you want for the week) What prompted these visits to the store: last minute requests, forgotten items from previous shopping trips, the love of standing in line waiting to checkout?
So what are your must-haves, the ones that warrant an emergency run to the store when you realize you are out?

Tomorrow starts the weekend and I’m very excited, not just for the usual reasons, this weekend is one I’ve been looking forward to. I get to leave work early for a hair appointment at 10:30, also a pedicure and light shopping on the agenda, hopefully in the company of a close friend. After Ken gets off work we are heading to Mistletoe Marketplace to kick off the holiday season! We went the first year we were married and I hope to find a few special items this year as we did before.

Saturday is the very special day I’ve been looking forward to. Ken and I are finally getting professional pictures taken and I can’t wait! Since we chose to be married at a courthouse we have never had any professional pictures, wedding or otherwise, taken. I think its about time! Looking forward to filling in all the details of tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.

Today I’m thankful for warm socks! I have my pink and orange striped Eeyore ones on now keeping my toesies nice and toasty!  What are you thankful for?

Delicious Wishes!
Christina