Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Perfect Guy?

Writing romance novels, I've spent a lot of time exploring what makes a man appealing. Obviously, the perfect guy is different for different people, and let's face it, perfection itself is boring. So, there is no "perfect," but there are qualities most of us admire. I have my own set of attributes that I tend to return to again and again in writing heroes. Hopefully, those also resonate with readers.

In this video, "Print Your Guy", the young woman tries to narrow her idea of the perfect man (for her) down to a single defining characteristic with interesting results. Take a look.

Print Your Guy - The Animated Short from Print Your Guy on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thrifty Traveling

We tend to be a thrifty bunch around here. While I like to support my local museums, zoos and whatnot, I also know all the discount and free days and plan my visits accordingly when I can. Before we go anywhere or do anything, I make sure to scope out the fees for parking, dining, tolls if any and admissions. So this video of a young man who discovered that he could save money flying from Sheffield to Germany and then back home rather than taking the train from Sheffield to Essex was fun to watch.

Have a great day!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Painted Mandala Stones and Other Fascinating Bits of Art

A long time ago I did a post on Mandalas (have no idea where it is anymore. I may have deleted it). I had seen a video and had to look up what a mandala was (technically, the word means circle, but it's symbolic of the wholeness of life).

At any rate, today I saw an older video of a woman painting mandala stones and I just couldn't seem to look away.

The artist, Australian Elspeth McLean, has a website, and she paints much more than mandala stones. Here's another example, but there is more on her site along with links to places where her work can be purchased.

Right now she's taking a break from painting mandala stones in her Etsy shop (back next month, I think), but a quick trip around Etsy turned up almost 2,000 results for mandala stones by other artists. The variety is interesting. Here's an example:

And if you'd like to paint your own mandala stones, here's a tutorial. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Hot Drink for Winter?

I've been reading Rick Riordan's first book in The Kane Chronicles, The Red Pyramid (if you like his other books where the main characters are young people and the stories are contemporary adventures crossed with the world of Greek and Roman mythology, this one moves into the realm of...I guess I'd call it Egyptian mythology). So, while enjoying the book, I read a scene where Sadie, the young heroine is offered a cup of sahlab, a drink described as being similar to hot chocolate but more like hot vanilla. That did it. It's been cold here. I have to try this.

There are several videos online, but (at first, at least) I didn't find any that I liked. This image, however, kept me on the hunt for the perfect video and recipe:
Sahlab at Jericho (thick hot milk with rose water and spice)

I found a number of different variations. Here's a link to a simple one (I loved the fact that so many people in the comments section noted that they had also read The Red Pyramid and gone on a search for the recipe). This one uses corn starch with vanilla for flavor and sugar to sweeten it. I've seen other flavors (rose water, for one) and some people prefer honey to sugar. A number of people have commented that they would prefer to omit the coconut topping (or pistachio, in other recipes), because they don't care for chewy things in a drink, so that's a possibility, too.

I did, eventually find a video that did the trick for me. It's a bit longer than I prefer, but I like the fact that she gives you options.

I haven't tried this yet (I think I'd like to try the orange blossom water, and I don't have any of that...yet).

So, what do you think? Does this look like something you would drink on a cold day? I confess that I'm biased because I'm associating it with a favorite book, but I also find the idea of a warm, creamy vanilla drink appealing.

Have a great (warm) day!


Friday, January 8, 2016

A Unique Wedding Dress

It's been awhile since I've posted anything wedding related, but a story about an unusual wedding dress caught my eye. The cloth used in the dress dates back to World War II. A B-29 pilot had to bail out and used his parachute as a pillow and blanket, waiting for rescue. He kept the parachute, and when he married, his fiancee used the material from the parachute to make her wedding dress (later their daughter and also their son's bride wore the dress).

Image from The Smithsonian

Friday, January 1, 2016

Let's Talk About Good Books

It's the time of year when I (we?) think back on what we've read, what we're reading now and what we'd like to read next year, so here's my annual roundup:

I've been busy finishing up Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series (currently on book 4, The House of Hades). I've always had a thing for mythology, so these books are right up my alley. Oh, and ignore an earlier post where I said that you didn't need to read the first series (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) to like the second. Technically, that's true, but it's so much better (and clearer) if you've read the first books (which is also a great series). Also, if you've seen the movie(s), don't be turned off. The books didn't translate well to the big screen.

On the romance scene, I just received my copy of Loretta Chase's Dukes Prefer Blondes from her Dressmakers series (I'm not overly fond of the title of this book, but I like the series, so...well, I've certainly had my share of awful titles on my own books. There's a reason I changed the title of The Daddy List to The Wish List when I got the rights back and republished it. In other words, don't let a title stop you from buying a book. It's what's inside that counts, and I'm betting that Loretta Chase's latest book will be a winner. She's one of my favorite authors). 
On the nonfiction front, I received two books for Christmas (from my sons) that I'm looking forward to. Both are by Randall Munroe, creator of the xkcs webcomic. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy What If? and Thing Explainer, since I like the comic.

As far as the Best Of...lists that are floating around, here are a few to get you started:

NPR's Best Books of 2015

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2015

The Goodreads Choice Awards for 2015

All the Best Books of 2015 from The Guardian

The Best Books We Read in 2015 from Vox

WSJ's Best Books of 2015

I find this next list interesting in that the books aren't necessarily new. In The Best Book I Read This Year, from the editors of The Atlantic, you'll find new and old books. I was especially pleased to see Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus on the list. I read it several years ago, and I've been eagerly awaiting a new book by her. .

Business Insider has The 17 Best Books of the Year, According to Readers as well as The 20 Best Fiction Books of the Year.

There are so many more lists out there (google Best Books 2015 and then under sort, limit the results to the last month). There's a list by Bill Gates, specialty lists of comedy books, music books, business books, books for women, crime fiction, academic books, science books, history books, books for teens, sci fi/fantasy, photography, travel books, tech books, nonfiction books, nonfiction books by black authors, food and farm books, graphic design books, crafts/home and garden books, books on Japan, wine books, children's books and more). Wow!

And, of course, there's the Top 100 List of Bestsellers by Barnes & Noble and the Top 20 Lists on Amazon. Lastly, because it's local (sorry) Anderson's Adult Bestsellers.The Anderson's Bookshops list is more of a weekly than an annual list, but you'll find some interesting staff picks there.

Whew! There are so many fantastic books to choose from. I hope you find a few. Best Wishes to all of you on good reading, good times and an especially good year!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Iceland, Books, and Christmas Eve

I'm not sure where I've been that I've missed the story of Iceland's jólabókaflóð, the tradition of giving each other books on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading, but I love that idea! What an awesome way to spend Christmas Eve!


Iceland has always seemed like a beautiful place, anyway, but this seals the deal. Apparently, most of the books there are published in the second half of the year, and in November the Icelandic Publishers Association distributes a free catalog of newly published books. 

I'm not sure where this data comes from, but they seem to read and write more per person than the people in most countries do (approximately one in ten people in Iceland will write a book, and 84% of the population will read at least one book per year for pleasure). 

All in all, it sounds like a great place to be a reader. 

But even if you don't live in Iceland, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and find some time to kick back and relax, with or without a book in hand.

Best Wishes,


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Books at Christmas

Like most of you (I suppose), I read all the time. Reading is my joy, my favorite leisure time activity, but there's something even more special about books at Christmas. I'm so busy (isn't everyone?) that when I take the time to steal a few minutes to read, it's an even more joyous experience. One of those "Ah, this is relaxing" experiences.

I finished reading a memoir a few weeks ago, and while it was a wonderful book, it was also so sad that I needed something lighter. So, I'm rereading the Rick Riordan Heroes of Olympus series. They're totally fun escapism, and if you like mythology, you'll probably enjoy them.

The image below is of the first book in the series (if you haven't read the preceding 5-book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, you might want to start there, but it isn't actually necessary).

Anyway, I'm giving lots of books as gifts (as usual), so with books so much on my mind, I had to take a few minutes to enjoy this little stop action video of a bookstore after dark (I may have shared it here before, but it's worth a repeat).

I hope you're finding some time to read during this busy month. Enjoy!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Finally, the New Trailer for Star Trek Beyond!

We don't go to the movies terribly often, maybe once every month or two, but there are two franchises where we always go to the theater rather than waiting for the DVD: James Bond and Star Trek. So, I'm psyched about the new Star Trek trailer. The movie looks like fun.

If you're a movie watcher, what movies are you looking forward to?


And if you're not, what mid-season television shows do you want to see?

Have a fantastic day!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why Do We Love Things That Make Us Cry?

That is, why do we love fictional things that make us cry? (If it's real and it's sad, that's something different).

Maybe the sad stories keep reminding us to remember what's important in the real world. At any rate, this ad is a tearjerker. Be prepared.

Have a wonderful (and happy) day!