Thirty Day Challenge: Day Three

Day Three: A Book I Love

SUCH A HARD QUESTION! Mainly because I love so many books. I’ve recently been jonesing to reread the Harry Potter series.

Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. ― J.K. Rowling

However I will always have to go back to the first literary character I fell in love with: Sherlock Holmes. (Not a new subject for me, my ‘love’ has been documented a handful of times on my blog, most notably here). My favorite book, however, isn’t by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although it may not be ‘cannon’ I still love it. A book I keep coming back to time and time again is The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King (you may recall that I pulled a sentence from the book for yesterday‘s post and have referenced it several times (1 | 2 | 3) in my blog as my favorite book, at least I am consistent in this). I first came across this audiobook when I was in my teens (12-15 and it was on a cassette tape). I was happy, a couple of years later, when I came across the physical book in a book store and thoroughly delighted when, upon reading the book, I realized I had only ever listened to the abridged version. So many more adventures to experience with Russell and Holmes!

TheThe Beekeepers Apprentice Beekeeper’s Apprentice was the only book I took with me when I moved to Rome for the semester. It’s my go to book when I go to venues or have some downtime for some reading (and am not in the middle of a book). As a result there are a handful of ticket stubs and memories from past musicals tucked away. It’s fun to flip to a random stub and start reading from that point. I’ve read it enough that it only takes a paragraph or two for me to remember the back story up to the point that I’m reading. Like I said, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but this book will always be up at the top of list.

Until tomorrow
~ Q

Previous 30 Day Challenge Posts:
Five Ways To Win My Heart | Something I Feel Strongly About

Thirty Day Challenge: Day Two

Day Two: Something I feel strongly about

Hmmm, opinions are dangerous, aren’t they? Especially once they are written down and are forever out there. At the disposal for anyone to use as they see fit, but if we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for anything, no? What do I feel strongly about? I suppose what comes to mind today would be equality. Everyone (no matter their race, gender, relationship status, sexual preference or whatever we try to divide ourselves by) should be given the same opportunity as everyone else, if the so wish it. I know I don’t really have a leg to stand on coming from Iowa where it is fairly homogenous, but maybe that has made me who I am today. As I’ve encountered people who are different than I am (whether they are gay, Hispanic or even male) I’ve always treated them as I would treat a neighbor or colleague. (I would say ‘treat them as anyone else’, but lets face it, if I treat them like family or close friends they may be frightened by my craziness, and I don’t want to scare people.)  I don’t subscribe to this nonsense that people are better than one another purely because they are born a certain way.

You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing’. ― Sherlock Holmes from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

You can’t change your genes, and really, who cares what alleles you happen to have compared to Bob down the street? I don’t think I will ever be able to understand that line of reasoning, no matter whose shoes I put myself into, it’s just too irrational.

Until tomorrow
~ Q

Previous 30 Day Challenge Posts:
Five Ways to Win My Heart

Cupid’s Arrow – A ‘Haiku’

A Haiku-ish Poem for Valentine’s day

Cupid’s false arrow
(influenced by the imp, Puck)
struck the wrong lovers.

Oh what missed events
did occur between such fools
that false love did make!

Can time please rewind?
Undo this deed of dear Puck,
who had idle hands.

Return each lover
to the mortal that will make
each true heart complete.

_____________________

More entries for this holiday at the DP’s original post here.

Haikoodle33Although I was suppose to write an ode to something I love, I like to write haikoodles. What is a haikoodle you ask? It’s a haiku-doodle combination. I use to do them a lot. Quick little haikus with a coordinating doodle. As you can see (from the random sampling) they don’t follow the usual nature theme that haikus are suppose to. UntitledI focus entirely on the 5-7-5 rhyme scheme. Not surprising there is a Sherlock themed one, or one that refers to the rainbow wheel of death. I love my mac but nothing is so big of a slap to the face as that icon. Untitled

Ashes, Ashes we all fall down

“Daddy why can’t I go in too?” she could overhear Cristy asking her dad as she cautiously walked up what was left of the stairs. The physical structure of the house was fine, the contents, not so much. It had been a few days since the fire and it still smelled like it could rekindle any moment. She stopped at the top of the stairs to looked at the once pristine family photo. The glass had warped and rippled fusing the picture to it and distorting the faces. Miraculously though, her mother’s face was left untarnished. Comforted the girl carefully made her way to her bedroom to grab what she could before they would leave for Aunt Michelle’s home. As she approached her room she was stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of the blackened door. She was right to have gone out the window, attempting escape through this ash would have been a death sentence. Taking a deep breath she pushed the door open and beheld what was left of her room. She bent down the crusted bed and felt around until she felt the waxy plastic of the case. Pulling it towards her a half charred notebook came sliding along the floor with it. With a pang she flipped the remaining half open. The edges cracked off as she held it but still there were half finished sentences and bits of photographs of her friends. Remembering her other journals she walked to the closet and was relieved to find that although the box was singed and burnt the contents inside had been, for the most part, spared. Her thoughts and memories were intact and safe. Looking back at the bed she realized the case was so mangled that she’d have to break in to it to see what state her beloved violin was in. Her eyes gloss over her desk, where all that remains of her drawings are ashes . Likewise her pencils have been reduced to mere cinders. She doesn’t even recognize her book shelf, mistaking the rubble on the floor for some part of the wall or ceiling that must have fallen down. Sighing she returned her focus to the closet and opened the bag her father had sent up with her and started packing what clothes she could. A few minutes later with a nearly empty duffel she headed out of the room with the box of journals under one arm and the case in the other.

_________________

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

I have lots of trinkets here and there around the apartment:

  • A chess set one of my sister’s gave me
  • a box of journals (from college only really, I’ve never been much of a journal-er)
  • art projects from school
  • a painting from a friend
  • guitar
  • notebooks of ideas

any of which I would be quite sad to see burnt to a crisp. I’m sure there are other things I’d miss but only going through the experience would tell me, and I’ll pass if I can. Kind of like in A Scandal in Bohemia (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) when Sherlock stages a fire to discover where Miss Adler has hidden some blackmail items, her most treasured belonging at the time. Foolishly she gives away the location but before homes can retrieve the photos she realizes what has happened and removes them. Apparently fire reveals what we value the most. Oh, click here for yesterday’s entry.

I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes…

fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him. I was a particularly clumsy adolescent. That was the year I also broke my foot while playing dodge ball. By adding the dodge ball bit it makes it sound less pathetic then it truly was. It happened in PE and at the time of the break class had been dismissed to change clothes. However that didn’t stop me and my friend. We still had a little bit of fight left in us and were messing around. I was retreating and going to head to the locker room as he hunted me down.

I would like to say the backward duck that turned into a backwards trip that landed me on my butt by the bleachers was planned. It wasn’t and it hurt. Not my backside though, oh no, some how my foot twisted and I was in utter agony. He and I official stopped playing then. Being the clutz I was I didn’t think it was anything major, I’d rolled my ankle before and all I could really tell was that my foot area hurt. When it hurt so bad I didn’t want to put my shoe back on that should have been a bigger clue. I carried it down the hall with me as I limped off to English. My teacher was not overly impressed, but after having me for the entire year she’d learned that ‘random’ is my modus operandi.

I cringed down the pain for the last two periods before heading to the office to ask my dad to drive me home. He came out of the office, took one look at my pained expression and said, “You didn’t have to wait until school was out, I would have taken you home earlier.”

Although I really appreciate the sentiment of that statement it was not welcomed at the time. My foot hurt and I’d just sat through a couple hours of lecture. I was not amused and just hobbled my way out to the car. Now here is the thing you should know about me. I choose the most random times to get stubborn. I believe that day was one of them. My father offered to go get the car and pull it around to the circle drive so I didn’t have to walk to the lot. Very kind, and I should have taken him up on it. However my dad was always the first one to the building, save for the janitor who did beat him in. This meant he always had a phenomenal parking spot and the lot and drive were right next to each other. Rather than wait for the car I dug in my heals and hobbled over the grass to the car myself. Never underestimate the power of stupidity.

After icing it for a few hours that night and the swelling not going down, my parents too thought it was an ankle issue, we finally made a doctor’s appointment the next day. That’s when we learned that I broke the smallest bone in the foot, which also has the added benefit of taking the longest to heal. How that works, I’m not sure, but that was super fun.

That was the summer I broke my right foot. That was also the summer I turned 16. Lucky for me I had a boot cast so I was able to take it off while I took the driving test. Walking to the DMV without it (only about two weeks in on the healing process) was a longer walk then I remembered when I had gone in for my permit. However in the end I did get my license, my foot did heal (although to this day it occasionally twinges), and I was officially cleared of having to wear my boot the day before I had to get on a plane and leave for a national convention. Timing is everything.

The Beekeepers ApprenticeThanks DP for the interesting starter! The opening line was from my favorite book The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R King. That book has been a constant friend of mine (my copy has several tickets tucked into it from where I’d brought it along to keep me from getting bored during intermission or during the game etc), although as previously posted I met Sherlock long before the tender age of fifteen. However I had only had glimpses of retired Sherlock (which is his age in the series by King. After I read the prompt I nearly panicked when I went to my book case (just to make sure I quoted it correctly) and it was missing! Then I found the vertical stack of ten more books and was assured it was on the top of that stack. Crisis averted.

In regards to the quote itself it’s quite fitting for me. ‘…years old with my nose in a book as I walked…and nearly stepped on him…’ later on the paragraph continues ‘…probably would not have noticed the sea until I stepped off one of the chalk cliffs into it.” Books do that to me as well. Which is probably why I like the books so much, I can identify with Russel. My boss still makes fun of me for the time it was practically a monsoon when a couple of us were going out for happy hour. They were going to pick me up and my phone was still on silent from work. This forced my boss to get out of her car and head up to my apartment. She was not amused when I answered the door, finger still holding the place in the book I was reading (A Study in Scarlet as coincidence would have it). However she was/is much more amused whenever she retells the story. It’s now looked on as a ‘Classic Jamie’.

41 days of Celebration Surprises

Wow, twenty days…where does the time go? Not only that, but now it’s 36 days until the new year and already 4 days of my ’41 days of Celebration and Surprises’ have passed. I feel like 25 just aren’t enough (the 25 days of Christmas made popular by ABC Family…and Advent and just so many things in general.) Also, by having 41, instead of just 25, there isn’t the…what’s the word? Let down isn’t right, but if you do that 25 it’s like excitement excitement excitement, Christmas hits and then BAM nothing…so instead I’m gonna keep going right through to the new year, and greet 2013 in a way I haven’t greeted the others.

Day 1: Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving
Although we are thankful to be together, my immediate family doesn’t really do Thanksgiving in a traditional sense anyway, on the day of

As my dad calls us, The Brain Trust had lots to discuss about the various trees. We’re even starting my nephew off early, he’s not even two yet.

. No, instead our family usually goes Christmas Tree hunting. In the past the hunt has been…heated. All three of us siblings can be headstrong with our opinions on which tree is ‘perfect’. The first year it took us over two hours to agree on a tree. However since then it’s been easier and easier to agree. Either we’re growing up, learning to pick our battles, or know/understand the traits we each look for most. After our tree expedition out to the tree farm we returned home to have dinner. Rather than having turkey or ham we had Nachos (why I love my family). Then we did prep and cooking for the big weekend.

Day 2: Friday, November 23: Atkins Thanksgiving
Every year my mom’s family comes to town for Thanksgiving weekend. Two days of nearly 20 adults in my parents house. It’s awesome and usually crazy. Friday is the big traditional meal day. The family starts arriving around noon and spends the time before the meal either helping with the cooking or out shopping (trying to score a couple Black Friday deals). This year two (of the three that would travel to our house) siblings were able to make it. It was weird, for whatever reason with four less people than usual (still leaving us with 17) it seemed like a much smaller crowd. Seriously, that line of thinking seems rather ridiculous. Anyway, Friday is the day we have our typical Thanksgiving meal. After we washed up and ate too many desserts my cousins and I went to my apartment to finish watching the Creighton- Wisconsin game. It was favorable that we left. One of the families are huge Creighton fans while my brother-in-law is a Wisconsin man. My cousins were able to rejoice in the win without punishing him too much.

Day 3: Saturday, November 24: Atkins Thanksgiving continued & Brunch with the Girls
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with a couple of my besties since they were in town for the holidays. (This is a major bonus to me staying close to home. I’m always here when they come home to visit their families, so if they have spare time for a cup of coffee or something we can usually meet up. We decided to head to The Cafe for brunch, us and maybe a fourth of the population, but I can taste why. It was sooooo good. Pumpkin pancakes, cranberry-lime scones, parfaits. Perfection. It was fun seeing the two of them and hearing about their shenanigans (one of them just closed on a house, the other is a teacher. There are always shenanigans to discuss). After returning home the day was full of soup, games (like Ticket to Ride which, with many of us being rather cut-throat, means it’s usually a five-way battle of wits. My only goal this year was to get longest route. A goal which I did achieve even though I didn’t win overall) , and a couple episodes of Top Gear. (My uncle is really into car, a passion he has somewhat passed onto his son. He had talked about this show and despite myself I may be hooked on it).

Day 4: Sunday, November 25: Cooking and a Classic
My darling sister likes to do some of her Thanksgiving baking weeks ahead and then freeze it (like the amazing rolls/breads we usually have just laying about on Saturday). This has lead me to try an experiment this year. I’m going to start cooking holiday goodies now for our Christmas festivities. That was the plan anyway. Yesterday I tried 4 recipes: Honey-Almond Fudge, Honey Cakes, Pumpkin ‘Fluff’, and Pumpkin Poppers. I had a 75 percent success rating. Care to guess which one didn’t work out?
The Honey Cakes, although more biscuit like, turned out just fine. They are these dense tough cookie-like baked goods that taste really good with some jam. (Sadly I didn’t bring my camera from my parent’s house after the other weekend activities so I don’t have any photos. I even told my mother I wouldn’t be needing it, once again, mother knows best. However since I’ll have the goods for a while, I’ll post a follow up post with both the pictures and the successful recipes when I get it back). I don’t usually bake from scratch, and part of the reason is obvious: I don’t have the proper materials. I had to use a cup to roll out my dough since I didn’t have a proper roller, nor did I have a round cookie cutter. Then I realized I had mason jars and the lids were the perfect size, so that worked out rather well.
Pumpkin Poppers are delicious. They are meant to be more doughnut hole-esque though and I didn’t have the right materials for them either. You’re suppose to cook them in mini-cupcake tins. I only have normal sized ones. Once I had filled them up I decided to just make a shallow loaf/cake with the rest of that batter. It worked shockingly well…except for when I dumped it out and broke it. Even then I just cut it up into various shapes (based on how it had fractured) and it worked out just fine. The ones that I had cooked in pumpkin tins I finished the way the recipe intended (brushing/rolling them in butter then in cinnamon-sugar). The loaf I combined with the Pumpkin Fluff.
Pumpkin Fluff is cool-whip with instant pudding and pumpkin added and is a bit addicting. It made a lovely ‘frosting’ for the Pumpkin loaf-cake and will taste amazing with graham crackers. (This last bit is an extrapolation, but it tasted good with the pumpkin loaf and on it’s own.)
This leaves the fudge being a fail. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so perhaps that was my downfall, but I’ve made fudge without it before. The directions were just poor. I was trying a new recipe and after heating the mixture to soft-ball stage I was instructed to cool it until it reached 100 something degrees (which was suppose to take 50-60 minutes). After 40 I checked it and had a hard mess stuck to the bottom of the pot. The poor pot will never be the same…it still has hardened sugar stuck to it. I’m going to have loads of fun trying to fix that situation. Rather than trying the fudge again I decided to pass on it. I’ll be making more fudge in the next couple of weeks. We don’t need this batch of fudge.
To finish up the day I watched a classic movie. Oh perhaps I should take this time to explain the ‘surprise’ part of the next month. Earlier this month I put a handful of movies in two separate opaque bags. On Friday/Sunday I will close my eyes (for good measure) and pull one out to watch. The ones on Sunday are suppose to be older movies (I honestly can’t recall what I set aside for either night). Yesterday it was The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye. (Also Basil Rathbone who, of course, voiced Sherlock Holmes for so many years)

I love old movies, particularly this one. The writing, although decades old, is still funny and witty. The large ensembles are amusing and add a sense of grandeur that just isn’t the same nowadays.  Which makes it highly re-watchable. If you’ve never seen the movie and are looking for a comedy set in the days of lords and vassals pick this sucker up, you wont be disappointed.

Must dash – plenty of fun to come though, let the holiday festivities begin!
Until next time ~ Q

LOEB Assignment: Summer’s over, it’s time to go back to school!

This week the league has cooked up an open ended prompt: Summer’s over, it’s time to go back to school!

What does this mean? Oh so much. In the past it would be the time when I’d go shopping for new supplies (always composition notebooks and pens. I still have a soft spot for those notebooks but have over a dozen blank ones on my shelf right now). Also new clothes. I remember back in elementary school laying out my clothes for the first day. Some years I went so far as to have the first week’s outfits all folded and sorted by day. I was such a nerd. Then there was the first day itself. Getting up a pinch earlier so we could go out on the deck with our stuffed to the gils backpacks and take first day of school pictures. Those days are long gone for me. What does the end of summer mean for others? Well, if you are still doing education (highschool, college, continuing education what have you) obviously you are going to school. That includes (usually) having to do homework. If you have a family you may have various practices to schedule.

What it means for me? Books, theater, and TV shows that I wont really watch now anyway. Back to school means my waiting for the new Rick Riordan book, The Mark of Athena, is that much closer to being over (comes out in October).

If you’re into sports, football madness is in full swing and will be all semester.

If you like TV the prime time shows will be returning shortly (if they haven’t already). I like TV but it’s too hard to keep up with them ‘live’. More than likely I save them up and just watch them once they’re out on disc (or on netflix). Here’s a rundown of what I’d watch if that wouldn’t mean me living on the couch every night:

Sunday – Once Upon a Time or The Mentalist.
Monday – Bones
Tuesday – NCIS, NCIS:LA or New Girl
Thursday –  Big Bang Theory, Elementary or Parks & Rec
Friday – Community, Grimm, Fringe or Haven

Other things I look forward too for back to school? The beginning of the new Performing Arts series at the various places I frequent. I’m looking forward to seeing Les Miserables, War Horse, Jekyll & Hyde and Million Dollar Quartet at the civic center. Other things I may see are Pride & Prejudice, Shrek, Biloxi Blues, Blue Man Group, Noises Off, Alice in Wonderland, The Three Musketeers or A Streetcar Named Desire. So yeah, I love the start of school. It means the waiting of summer is over (even though summer fun in the sun is an excellent way to pass the time).

Curious how other members interpreted this week’s assignment? Go to the League’s main page for a list of everyone or you can check out some of these:
Monster Cafe
hung out in New York
Memories of Toymorrow always had birthday blues
Good Will Hunting 4 Geeks puts together his educating team
while Under Scoop Fire assembles a different kind of team
and Jannghi discusses new supplies

That’s it I suppose (below is just filler about the TV lineups and why I like certain shows) until next time ~ Q

Once Upon a Time: I really enjoyed this show and did actually watch it (although that usually meant missing several weeks and then having a hulu marathon). I’ve yet to watch the last two episodes, but now that the season will start soon maybe I can. I hate how shows always end with cliff hangers and then you have to wait months for it to be resolved. So to avoid this I just didn’t watch it.

The Mentalist: Not a show I’ve ever watched live but I like the premise. When I do see the odd episode I always enjoy it.

Bones: I have a love hate releationship with Bones. I loved where the show was going and then a couple seasons ago it was they decided that Bones might be getting too normal and BAM they made her back into a person that didn’t get normal people. If they would have made it gradual I might have been okay with it but it was so all of a sudden. I did have to take a break from the show for awhile, but I just love the sciency bits so much that it keeps calling me back.

NCIS & NCIS:LA: I love both of these. Part of the appeal is that they are both something our entire family enjoys wo when we get together and USA has one of their marathons it’s easy enough to agree what we should watch. The characters are interesting and loveable. There has to be something good going on if a spinoff series not only does well but then, in turn, gets its own spinoff. Excellent. Just excellent. I also like how you don’t have to see every episode to keep up with it, not the case for some shows (like Fringe).

New Girl: Zooey Deschanel is brilliant and I love this ensemble. Although like the trend in comedy nowadays sometimes the bits cross over into the territory of being so painfully awkward. I’m hoping they don’t prolong the Jess & Nick thing for much longer, that too is painfully obvious.

The Big Bang Theory: Another one the family enjoys.

Elementary: Going in the same vein that I love all things Sherlokian I’ll at least look into this new show. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this, so we’ll see. I have hopes, making Watson a woman is intriguing at the very least. I also very much enjoy Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. I’ll keep my fingers crossed about this one.

Parks & Rec: Amy Poehler, enough said.

Community: I don’t follow this the most but ts always good for a laugh though. It’s a fun premise. Almost like a highschool drama, only you get a more amusing mix since you have the random old person (Pierce).

Grimm: I’m always confused when two different studios put out seemingly similar shows. When I heard both Grimm and Once Upon a Time were premiering last year I wasn’t sure if they’d be the same thing or not. I’m glad that despite both involving fairytales they are very different shows and enjoyable for very different reasons.

Fringe: Although it’s kind of getting trippy I can’t wait to see how it ends. This year marks it’s last year and will have a half season to finish the story line.

Haven: I love this show. If I watch anything ‘live’ this will be the one. I’m seriously in love with everything about this show. Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour have amazing chemistry as Audrey Parker, Nathan Wuornos and Duke Crocker. My friend once described it as the love child of Fringe and Once Upon a Time, interesting thought.