Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sweet Papaya

If you find yourself in the Oregon state capital I hope you'll take the time to look up Sweet Papaya.

My friend and I went and had "lunch" - it's a self-serve frozen yogurt place which is why lunch is in those nudge nudge wink wink quotation marks.

There's a wall of machines full of flavors of sorbet and frozen yogurt and then there's a bar of fresh fruit, a bar of candy toppings and a rack of sauce/topping bottles. Your goodies are weighed at the end and that determines cost. I didn't get a photo of any of this stuff because I was holding a little one part of the time.

Does it sound enticing? How about this:

I put mango sorbet in the bottom because mango is one of my absolute favorite flavors. It came out SUPER slow from the machine so when I then decided I wanted a swirl of coconut and a swirl of pineapple I thought it would be the same. Um no. Hence my giant cup full. But I ate all of it, oh yes I did. ;)

Oh and fresh kiwi topping. Fruit extravaganza! Yay!

The place is also little one approved. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

Let me preface this review by saying that while I absolutely love to read, I'm not all that fast at it. I like to say each word in my head like I'm reading aloud to someone and we're savoring each word image as though it were being told to us by someone who really lived it. That said, I read this book in an afternoon. A chilly, rainy afternoon, with me curled up on the couch with the book, a blanket and a beverage. It was great. :)

I should also mention I'm a total sucker for The Prince and the Pauper style swaps and I had a suspicion that I would love this before I read it. Well my suspicions were correct but not just because I already like that sort of thing, but because this book was incredible.

The author herself says this book was like a blend of The Prince and the Pauper, Titanic, The Age of Innocence and Far and Away and I quite agree.

Beginning in England with young and privileged Charlotte Gleason we soon find out her situation in life is not what it seems. With a harsh jolt to the reality of things she and her friend and maid Dora are put on a ship to America where Charlotte is to meet a wealthy young American man looking for a wife with a title. Dear Charlotte wants nothing to do with that because she's read Pride and Prejudice too many times and wants to find her Darcy (don't we all?) and decides to teach Dora, who has learned the accent and manners of gentility, how to further fit into society so they can swap places in America.

Privileged, protected Charlotte, on the ship to and then in America faces trials and tribulations which would have me curled into a fetal position in a corner somewhere. Her grand adventure goes wrong at every turn and as every security is ripped from her she finds herself completely alone and dependent on the kindness of strangers who themselves have so little to spare. But in the slums of crowded tenement housing and sweatshops is where Charlotte truly finds herself.

Dora, while living in opulence by comparison, is almost as uncomfortable as Charlotte, dreading being discovered for a fraud with every use of the proper dinner fork.

Self-discovery, selflessness and true love triumph in this well-written historical fiction.

At the end of the book, Nancy Moser lists real-life inspirations for places and characters in her story which inspired me to immediately request from my library a copy of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis - a photojournalist who tried to open the world's eyes to the horrible immigrant tenement situations in New York. The fact that anyone survived those awful conditions is a testimony to the hardiness of the human spirit.

The end of the book also gives a few pages on fashion using quotes from the story and images from an 1880's Harper's Bazar and there are also book club discussion questions included.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It was fascinating, heartbreaking and hopeful.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing the book for review, the opinions are all my own as if you couldn't tell by the rambling and gushing. ;)

And in case you'd like to check it out as well...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

it's been vewwy vewwy quiet

i am sans computer for a while but didn't want anyone thinking i had disappeared. :) and let me just say that It is astonishingly difficult to write a blog post on your phone.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Sandy Knoll Murder

I have to admit when I was first given this book I thought it was about someone named Sandy Knoll - ha ha! Oh my. Well it isn't. It's about a prominent merchant (John Creed Conn) who disappeared...and seven weeks later his murdered body was found on a sandy knoll just outside of town. His disappearance and murder were, at the time, attributed to the sheepshooters - a reference to the range wars between cattlemen and sheepmen. But in this book the author, Melany Tupper, attributes his murder - and several others - on a local sociopath. Did that surprise you? It did me!

Set in Silver Lake, Oregon in 1904, this book that took six years of research (all of which is cited at the end of each chapter) was a fascinating look at an area that has a connection with my family.

My great, great grandfather was a sheepherder and the family has a few stories about the difficulties he faced. In one he was drinking from a stream when someone came up behind him and knocked him unconscious. He later awoke half in the stream - lucky he didn't drown. Also, he had a partner called Shorty who disappeared and no one knows what happened to him.

The photo below shows him driving one of the wagon loads of wool out of Shaniko.

Historically fascinating, loaded with facts and - in the end - interesting insight into the sociopathic mind I really enjoyed this book. I went into reading it with one idea and was genuinely surprised by the end. The author's ideas and insights present an interesting case and after viewing the facts she presents I think she was right on the money.

If you like history and mystery, intrigue, suspicious characters, and range feuds I suggest giving this book a read and I think you might find yourself as surprised as I was.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mosaic Monday - borrowed nature

(click image to enlarge)

I've been house-sitting for weeks and I'm not done yet! So I'm borrowing nature from the homeowners to use in my mosaic. They have lovely maple trees absolutely covered in maple keys. Vines growing up the porch railings, a wonderful view of the sunset, lots of pots of succulents and a flowering artichoke that I just discovered hiding behind some other plants (that's the purple at the top). Really some lovely finds!

Be sure to visit Little Red House to see all the beautiful mosaics!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The strange apple happenstance

I went out to check on the apple progress one day and was greeted with this bizarre sight:

I blinked and stared a bit. Those weren't there yesterday...what the huh? How did they do that?

This one I was particularly impressed with.

Then I noticed this broken branch. Something I didn't think even the deer could manage.

A neighbor had been by to pick up some wood and had wanted to make a pile where these apples were laying - he didn't want to squish good looking apples so he put them up. Ha ha! Oh but he had me going for a while...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cascadia - fairytale forest

One summer my friend's husband couldn't go camping with her and her relatives so she invited me along. I guess they liked me because they've been inviting me back ever since. :)

Because of the droopy limbs covered in moss and the way the light filters through the campground, it reminds me a bit of a fairytale forest.

There's a river running nearby...

Pathways have railings to keep you from falling over any cliffs. :)
Don't worry, it isn't scary.

A little tiger moth.

I wish I could have gotten a photograph of the large moth we found. It had a wingspan as wide across as I can spread my whole hand.

And nearby you can visit a covered bridge.

There's also a hike up (and I do mean UP) to a gorgeous falls but my friend and I decided not to take that route this year since she has a little one.

It is deliciously cool in the heat of summer and my friend's family is great company (and prepares the yummiest food) so we always have a great time.

I couldn't find a decent information website on this campground but if you care to visit you may be able to find something useful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It slices! It dices!

I'm still house-sitting so I'm sorry I don't have any projects to share. Other than my jewelry-making supplies I just can't haul my crafty stuff with me when I travel. :(

But I still have lots to talk about! My birthday was last week and I got some wonderful goodies from everyone. One of those goodies was this pair of multi-blade scissors.

They are supposed to be for shredding documents in case you have a lot of time on your hands and don't have electricity...or a document shredder.

But! My gift giver (the one who lives here and here) had this note attached:

I am an herb nut. I love herbs and lots of them. I drown my salads and tacos in cilantro, I've actually used basil leaves instead of lettuce in a pita sandwich. I grow oregano, basil, thyme, dill, sage and chives (with tons more seeds to try planting next year), so I loved this idea! How easily could you chop through a meal's worth of herbs in no time with this gadget?

I picked a couple chive stalks and did this in just a couple seconds.

How nice and finely cut they are! Some herb bits are bound to get stuck between the blades but they come right out with a tap on the bowl or board, whichever you are using. Water rinses it right out too. Whatever you do, don't be an idiot and run your hand along the inside to get the bits out because...

DUH! That's where the sharp sides are! (No I can't believe I did that.)

I'm also told that these go in the dishwasher just fine. Hurray!

I can't remember where she said she got them, but I've seen them in random stores so they shouldn't be hard to track down. Happy slicing! Herbs! Happy slicing herbs...not fingers...