Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recent Reads Book Reports

Betrayal of Trust by J.A Jance
J.P. Beaumont and his wife, Mel, are called in to investigate Washington's governor's family involving a murder, teens and mayhem. It's nice to see J.P. back in print.

Killing the Blues by Michael Brandman
A Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone story written by Mr. Brandman. Really? Really? The storyline was very good and had Parker's typical Stone situations and all of his usual verbal comebacks,  but not a Parker book. It was written and reads like a movie script. No descriptions, set-ups or background - just dialogue. And not very original dialogue at that. The book's cover is very misleading - it's not a Parker book, but a stand in author trying to continue the Jesse Stone stories. 

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton
An Alex McKnight story set in Michigan's UP. Alex joins Maven, the chief of police, in searching for answers surrounding a suicide -- or was it? As a pattern starts to emerge and Alex won't stop until all the questions are answered. Another great Hamilton story.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
A light weight read staged in Scotland - so what's not to like? 1708's invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeed in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim is crown. Carrie McCleeland hopes to turn this story into her next best seller novel. Settling into a cozy cottage in the shadow of Slains Castle ruins, she starts to write what seems more fact than fiction. This book alternates chapters of the now and then, weaving a shadowy remembrance to what was and now.  I'll read more Ms. Kearsly books - cause they're not heavy, fun and sometimes it's good to get out of mysteries.

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil
Not so much about a knitting club but more about how to cope with the death of a cheating husband and carrying for two small boys. Jo moves to the UK beach and takes over her grandmother's yarn shop. Great characters, funny, with a cute storyline. Not a run to the library to find book but very entertaining.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
If you haven't read this book -- Do It Now!
There's a reason this has become a best seller, made into a movie and a must read. It's just that good.

The Affair by Lee Child
 While recently stuck in an airport waiting for a flight, I realized I was about to finish my take along reading material and needed to find another book as my traveling companion. I was roaming the mystery aisle of the airport's bookstore (Portland's Powells) when the salesperson asked if she could help. We started discussing the various authors on the shelf and she said, I think you need to come with me.  She took me to her station and recently opened box. There on top was the just released Lee Child book -- and I love Jack Reacher stories (and so did the salesperson). 

This one is one of the best of Jack Reacher stories.  A flash back in time that tells the tale of how Jack became a traveling, wandering, out of the army, helping those in need guy. It all startred somewhere - elite military cop, Jack Reacher is sent to Carter Crossing, Mississippi in 1997. A lone railroad track - a crime scene - a set up with lots of twists and turns - Jack's undercover to help the local sheriff, Elizabeth Deveraux, to get to the truth. Town's people or military base?

Needles and Pins by Gil McNeil
The continuing story of Jo MacKenzie from The Beach Street book (read above). It's been a year since the move to the beach town, out of her comfort zone and settled into a quite way of life.  Or is it? This was just another chapter to the original story. Another fun read without a lot of hup-la, plot or drama.

Northwest Angle by William Kent Kruger
Cork takes the whole family on a little R-N-R houseboat vacation to Lake of the Woods. A freakish storm hits and hits hard - separating the group.  Cork and his daughter land on an island and find a tiny baby and his murdered mother. Is the killer still around? An adventure to stay ahead of the killer, get some answers and discover somethings about themselves. Not Kruger's best story - but a must read for his fans.

Heat Rises by Richard Castle
This is the third in the series ABC publishes to go along with the TV series, Castle. This book was pretty good, better written than the last two. A lot of the TV show's scenerios are used to develope this story line. If you're a Castle fan, like I am, you'll recognize season 3 in most of the book - a different plot with all the characters we've come to love. Good Book.
and books I just couldn't finish
Mariana by Susanna Kearsly
I got half way through and put it down -- slow, slow, slow read that wasn't going anywhere and I wasn't interested to see if it ever would.

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel
Having read all of the previous Earth's Children books, I was looking forward to the latest edition. However, if you've read about one painted cave, you've read about them all. And this book was one description of numerous caves, without any plot and dragging storyline.  I was half way through the 756 pages when it was put on the shelf. Boring.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apparently, I'm Gray Mouse. What's your superhero name?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Pot of Soup...

This last September the family gathered in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The main event was a coastal wedding - the benefit was getting the family all together in one place for a few days of sun and fun. After comparing notes on local restaurant reviews (not very good) (sorry Cannon Beach) and being very disappointed on a few "let's try it one more time" outings, we ended up walking down the block from our beach house to Warren House Pub. What an amazing find! Fantastic food, very friendly service and a great menu. We ended up feasting at The Pub numerous times and we were never disappointed. 

I was very pleased with their soup of the day Beer Bacon Cheese Soup and had it a couple of times -- just couldn't get enough of this liquid magic.  Being a soup maker, myself, I had to try and replicate this winner when we got home. I'll share with you my results -- I'd have to say that the following recipe hits about the 98% mark compared to the original. YUM!!

Beer Bacon Cheese Soup
makes about 6 cups
Takes about 2 hours to make and ready to serve
6 Tablespoons butter
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped onion - finely chopped!
1 cup finely chopped celery - finely chopped!
1 cup finely chopped carrot - finely chopped!
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 12 oz. can of beer (I used Pabst and was very satisfied with the results)
1 & 1/2 cup chicken broth
12-15 pieces of bacon -  cook bacon & chop into tiny pieces
1 cup heavy cream (heavy whip cream works well)
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese -- I added a little bit extra
1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
5-8 shacked drops of Tabasco sauce
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

Place butter and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Stir butter and garlic until all the butter is melted.  Add onions, celery and carrot. Cook about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Add flour and stir for 3 minutes (be careful not to burn).

Continue stirring, while slowly adding the beer and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and continue stirring every few minutes until soup has thickened (should take about 40-45 minutes). I know this is the boring part - but, very important to get the mixture thickened, slowly.  Add bacon pieces.  On LOW heat, add the cream, cheeses and spices. Make sure the heat is on low, if it is too high it will cause the dairy to break down.  Serve when the cheese has melted and all is well blended.

Serve as is (yummy!) or topped with a few croutons or additional bacon pieces. Hubby likes it with bits of crab added. ENJOY!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a little fun, today.....did ya find it? huh? huh? huh?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So Cool!

I love bandanas - what's not to love? They're cheap (usually a buck each) come in fabulous colors, a great size to craft with and they're not just for doggy neck wear or cowgirl costumes. Take these little paisley prints out for a spin and let your imagination fly.
I found these on the blogger web site: under the table and dreaming 
where there's more ideas waiting to be discovered.
These are few of my favorties!
table runners
table cloths
a napkin holder
a quilt
or maybe a fun handkerchief

I'm heading to the store, partner, and getting some bandanas to play with.

Friday, October 7, 2011


3 glorious days of music! Blame Sally, Chris Isaak, M. Ward, Robert Earl Keen, Hugh Laurie, Ricky Skaggs, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Broken Social Scene, The Low Anthem, Dr. John, DeVotchka, Buddy Miller, Elbow, and Gomez just to name a few of the stage acts we followed, rocked to, danced to, and thoroughly enjoyed along with thousands and thousands of Golden Gate attendees. We missed not having March 4th Marching Band roaming the stages, but we rocked out just the same. It was sunny and warm then foggy and chilly -- that's San Francisco at it's best. Plus, we topped off each evening with some absolutely wonderful eats at local eateries. 
Now to wash off all the dust, do some laundry, take some make-up naps and get back to the ordinary, usual daily routine and look forward to the next Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival!