Friday, May 31, 2013

Little Cooking

I'm betting you all think I've stopped cooking, having nearly fallen off the planet or something.  Nope.  It's just that the crap fallout is still swirling about, and won't stop until mid-June.  I may have valuable insights for you all after it's finished, but, meanwhile, let's enjoy the better weather, shall we?

Anyway, dinner last night:

Corned beef brisket, cooked in the oven with 1" of water around it.  Sour cream potatoes (2 pounds sliced redskin potatoes boiled until tender, drained; 1/4 cup butter and 2 good glumpers - about 1-1/2 cups - sour cream, a goodly handful of fresh or dried chives, a dozen turns of the pepper mill, and milk to thin a little, heated, then the potatoes stirred back in); sugar snap peas sauteed in butter with pepper and salt; corn on the cob.

Excitement is coming this weekend; a report on Monday, I hope!

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: In Good Faith

Remember my book review of An Innocent Client a couple of weeks back?  Claire pointed out to me that the second book in this series was available for free at that time, so I snagged it.  And here it is.

by Scott Pratt
copyright 2012

Joe Dillard was a highly successful private defense attorney who retired at the end of the previous book, having finally defended an innocent client.  It's now a year later, and Joe's bored being retired.  After all, he's only around 50 years old, and his kids are in college.  So, after spectating at a trial in which the assistant district attorney botched the prosecution, Joe went to the DA to secure a job.

Joe's first case is the brutal murder of a family of 4, including two small children.  A week or two later, a retired high school principal is murdered, and the TBI investigator presiding over the case of the murdered family has linked the two.  Joe Dillard is told by the DA to work with Frahey, the TBI investigator, and Frahey initially resented the perceived intrusion, but soon develops a cordial working relationship with Joe.  The book follows the investigation of these cases, including the threatening of Joe's family.  Side stories in this book include Joe's alcoholic sister, Sarah, joining AA, meeting a "Bible Thumper", moving to Crossville with him, and the boyfriend beating her (Joe and Frahey went to rescue her), a pizza shop owner accused of hiring 15 year old girls at a wage significantly over minimum wage in return for them doing untoward things with him after hours, an illegal gambling ring, and Joe's wife's illness.

This was a fast paced, well written book which grabbed me from the beginning.  I finished it in one day, if that tells you anything.  5/5

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Cherry Blossoms

Well, it's a good thing I took these pictures last Thursday, because it has been cold and rainy ever since.  This is hardly a good start to summer - it's only 54 outside today, and that's warmer than it's been for most of the past 5 days!

Still, it's bound to warm up again soon.

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: The Art Thief

Before I begin, let me state unequivocally that I don't like abstract art at all.  I think art must evoke emotion
in order to be of value or interest to the viewer, and abstract art leaves me cold.  This painting, which hangs in my living room (yes, it's an original oil done by some unknown someone in 1968, according to the signature, which we purchased in 1988) is as close to "modern" or abstract as I get.  You don't have to tell me it's neither modern nor abstract; I'm just sayin'.

by Noah Charney
Copyright 2007

I bought this at one of the used book sales in April.  This is another book chosen because of its cover, and also because of the highly decorative inside covers!

In Rome, a Caravaggio altarpiece is stolen in the middle of the night, without a trace.  Police are called in, along with an investigator for the insurance company.

Around the same time, a curator in Paris notices a listing in an upcoming Christie's auction catalog for a Malevich "White-on-White" supremacist painting which is in the collection she oversees.  When she calls Christie's to tell them that theirs is a forgery, they insist it's real.  Looking into her collection, she discovers that the painting is missing.  Paris police are called in.

At the Christie's auction during which the "White-on-White" painting is sold, the curator sees that the painting offered is not the one stolen from her collection; it's a different one altogether.  At the same auction,  a painting which is simply blocks of bright colors is sold to a collector in London.  It's stolen a couple of days later, and a Scotland Yard investigator is called in.

Eventually, the author ties all of these together.  The insurance investigator is a common figure through the three investigations.  This was a pretty good book, in concept.  However, there is a very long, boring stretch at the beginning of the book dedicated to discussion of abstract art, along with the auction at Christie's.  I'm sure it's all technically very correct, since the author has degrees in art and history from prestigious institutions, but it leads him to believe his readers will share his passion for the behind the scenes art world.  The book wasn't very long, under 300 pages, but it took me nearly a week to get through it, with most of the holdup being the first half of the book.  So, while I finished it, and the ending was pretty good, I have to give this book only a 2.5/5.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Flowering Cherry Tree

I was going to take a week of pictures of the cherry tree outside my breakfast room window blooming.  Alas, I got through 2 days, and then "crap" happened.  So here are last Sunday and Monday:

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: With No One As Witness

Are you a fan of Inspector Lynley?  We found him on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery some time back, and greatly enjoyed the Earl who drives a Bentley and is a cop at Scotland Yard.  So, when I found some of the Inspector Lynley books at a recent used book sale, I was absurdly pleased.
by Elizabeth George
copyright 2005
 When the police find a murdered white teenager, Inspector Lynley, Barbara Havers and Winston Ngata are assigned the case.  It quickly becomes apparent that the acting Superintendent doesn't like Lynley, and Ngata is only assigned to the case so that he can appear as the token black man at press conferences, and Havers is on the case so she can fail and be fired.  Initial investigation indicates that this murder is the work of a serial killer, who has murdered three other boys, who were of mixed race, and who were left in different police districts.  A consultant who trained with the FBI to profile serial killers is brought in, and Inspector Lynley has difficulty keeping him away from the crime scene when yet another child is killed. 

Inspector Lynley seems not to be in the forefront of this book; Barbara Havers and Winston Ngata do much of the work.  This book was very long, over 600 pages, and I struggled as I read it, because it was an extremely dark book, with themes of a serial killer of troubled youths and pedophelia wound throughout really disturbed me.  It's too bad I chose this as the first of Elizabeth George's books to read, because while it was well written, I didn't like it.  I did take a look at reviews by others on Amazon, and it seems there were a lot of opinions like mine.  I actually read this 3 weeks ago, and it has taken this long for it to stop disturbing me to the point that I could write this review.  So with that in mind, I can only rate this book 3/5.
On another note, if you happen to be a fan of the TV show "The Office", and I'm not, the series finale is tonight, and for the hour before the show, they're running a special which was filmed here in Scranton a couple of weeks ago.  Someone arranged a fan party, and many of the actors in the show were here, and NBC sent a film crew to follow the weekend long, city wide fan-fest.  If you've never wanted to visit Scranton, this is a way to fulfill that wish without expending airfare.
Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Blue Mermaid

B and C's wedding 044Do you know Miranda, AKA The Blond Duck?  She's a writer of short stories and, now, two novels published by a small firm.  Her writing is very lighthearted and imaginative, so when she contacted me and asked if I'd read and review her newest novel, I jumped at the chance.  After all, how often do you know, even just remotely, a real author?

by Miranda Pike Koerner
c. 2013

 There's a legend that the oceans and seas were once ruled together by a King and Queen.  The Queen ruled the waves and wind and shallow waters, and the King ruled the stars, moon, tides and deep sea.  They quarreled constantly, but they got together one time, and the King scattered 13 stars in the sky, and the Queen scattered 13 shells in the sea.  When all the stars found all the shells, the King and Queen would rule together.

Or something like that.  I'm not as lyrical as Miranda.

A girl named Meredith, and called Mer-e-maid, is a few days short of her 13th birthday, and things are getting really weird.  She's the captain of her synchronized swim team, so obviously a great swimmer, but of late she has been waking up in her family's swimming pool.  Add to that dreams of black tentacles coming up out of the pool drain to grab her, and Meredith is rather distressed.  Then one morning she finds a talking dolphin named Blue in her pool.  He's there to protect and guide her, as is the old lady in the white gauzy dress with the long grey hair.  Strange things are happening all around Meredith, and even her best friend's support can only go so far.  When a new boy moves to town and is put on Meredith's synchronized swim team a few days before the final meet (which also happens to be her 13th birthday), everyone around Meredith is smitten, although she's horrified, certain that he's part of some sort of plot from which Blue is trying to protect Meredith.  Miranda writes great, detailed descriptions of characters and settings, which help the reader to picture what's going on, without the details going an overly long time and becoming oppressive or a hindrance to enjoying the book.

This was a lighthearted, nice book.  Since I had just finished a very intense, rather dark book (which I have yet to review), it was exactly what I needed.  It's a good read for a restful weekend (but probably not at the beach), and it's one that a young teenaged girl could read and enjoy, too.  (Pam in Oregon, I was thinking of you and your daughter both enjoying this book as I read it.)  5/5


Note: I received a copy of this book for my Kindle for free, but the opinions are all my own.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: In Bloom

My weeping cherry tree bursting into bloom, starting with a rainy day and progressing for 7 days:








(Almost wordless, anyway.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Garden Tuesday: Color!

A couple of days of rain followed by a couple of days of sunshine, and we have a riot of color!

The apple tree and mulberry tree had to be trimmed back after storm damage last fall, but no doubt they'll be even more prolific this summer and fall as a result.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Hope your yards are as colorful as mine!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Peanut Butter Pie

Do any of you get that food magazine in your paper the first week of every month?  I do, and usually it's not worth much.  But last Wednesday, they had a recipe for Peanut Butter Pie.  And it was warm at the end of the week, so a cold dessert seemed like just something my boys would love.  OK, I confess.  They'd enjoy it any time, warm or cold.


1 Graham Cracker crust
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.  Pour into the graham cracker crust (or a chocolate cookie crust, if you prefer), and freeze for 2 hours before serving.  Cut very small slices, because it's very filling!  Serve with or without whipped cream, as you prefer.

I have a feeling this will be on the "much requested" list this summer.  And it's so easy that I'll have a hard time not honoring such requests!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: An Innocent Client

Another Kindle book, snagged for free, which was absolutely good luck!

by Scott Pratt
c. 2012

Joe Dillard is a defense attorney in Northeastern Tennessee, with a wife and two teenaged children, who's tired of the law and saving to retire early.  All he wants, he thinks is an innocent client.

A visiting preacher was found murdered and castrated in a motel room.  The TBI finds a suspect, a dancer in a strip joint, and arrest her.  She maintains to Joe that she's innocent; her boss, the woman who owns the bar, corroborates her claim.  The story alternates between Joe's viewpoint and that of the TBI agent, and is really well done.  The author is clearly intimately familiar with East Tennessee (having spent some years around Knoxville, his descriptions of weather and locale rang absolutely true), and with both the law and the courthouses in which the story occur (his description of the jail upstairs from the courthouse, and the prisoners blocking up the toilets to make it "rain" in the courthouse is a hoot); turns out he is both a lawyer and from East Tennessee.  I'll be on the lookout for more Joe Dillard books, so that has to say a lot for the author and his skill.  5/5

Next week, I'll be reviewing The Blond Duck's new book.  Some of you will love it!

And, since it's Thorsday, pop over to visit Karin and read a nice story about her boxer, Phoebe, at The Ritz.

Happy Thorsday, everyone.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: My Kitchen Window

This is a view of my kitchen window from outside - the other side of yesterday's pictures!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!