Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dawn of the Dreadfuls

book review thursday

book review thursday Hi, my name is Lizz and I do very stupid things.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm a total wimp. I can't watch monster movies, I can't handle scary movie previews, I freak. I don't care how cheesy and lame they are. Unless it's as uplifting and campy as the original Clash of the Titans, I'm going to be scared shitless. 90% of the movies I see in theaters are PG and under, simply because I'm going to get nightmares otherwise. I don't know why, but for some reason someone in the Hollywood chain of command is under the impression that someone seeing a PG13 romantic comedy really, really wants to watch the preview for the next terrifying movie.

That person? Yeah, it isn't me. I just can't handle it. I wind up tossing and turning. The only way I'll eventually fall asleep is hidden under layers of covers and due to sheer exhaustion. And then I have terrifying nightmares.

I think my only saving grace is that I at least don't wet the bed.

So what have I done that was so stupid, you may ask? Well, it's probably pretty obvious, but in case you haven't figured it out, I read Dawn of the Dreadfuls. I read it at night, no less. At night, while alone. (My roommate, while I enjoy her company, would be immediately sacrificed to any incoming zombies. She's taller and smarter than me so her brains and limbs would hopefully give me enough time to barricade myself into the bathroom. Zombies are like tornadoes, right? Hide in rooms without windows or outside walls?)

Dawn of the Dreadfuls was... interesting to say the least. There were aspects of it that definitely made me giggle. There were parts of it that made me want to hide under the covers. And there were definitely bits that made me remember why I hate the original Pride and Prejudice so much.

Even though this was a lighthearted novel, there were parts of the original Pride and Prejudice that I felt were lacking... like Mr. Bennet's character flaws. And the humor and distinct discomfort I felt from any time Mrs. Bennet opened her mouth. While I do feel that Hockensmith conveyed the personalities of each of the sisters quite realisticly (well, as realistically as one sided characters can be, though that fault lies more squarely on shoulders of Jane Austen), the major themes of the original novel were missing. There were a few brief mentions of Pride, and I could tell the story lines with Elizabeth's supposed love interests were supposed to fall in that line, but I suppose it lacked the whole "hit you over the head with an anvil of theme" that Jane Austen seemed to favor in her original. For a parody, this novel seemed to lack the most important characteristics of what it's supposed to be poking fun of.

I most certainly will read the next book in the series. I'm interested in seeing how the original idea for the mash-up was developed, since I know this prequel was written after Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. I'm not going to lie, the other "Monster Mash" books are geared up in queue as well. I'm nothing, if not my Halloween-obsessed father's daughter. Plus, it's getting to be just the right season for such tales. In any case, as soon as humanly possible, I'm going to force Monkey to watch the campy goodness that is Army of Darkness.

That being said, I may need to invest in a nightlight. Or maybe some serious sleeping pills.

(3/5 stars)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hot Vest in the Summer Timeeeee

finished object friday

I think I'm just going to start every one of my posts from now on as "Hi, my name is Lizz and I'm _____".

Right now, that would be "really absent-minded". I finished, took photos, and even wore this project before I blogged about it.

On the plus side, clearly I really like it.


This is my Summer Vest made out of Lang Yarns Sol Dégradé. I first got the idea to actually knit this from an absolutely beautiful post on my favorite LYS's blog page. I knit mine shorter than the one pictured- I only used two skeins. This was more due to budgetary restrictions than actual preference, but that's beside the point.

I love it. I think the length is great for my short body. Any longer and I might look like I'm wearing a really tall circus performer's costume.


The back hits right above where my pants hit, so it's nice and comfortable. It was ridiculously simple to knit, and though I initially worried about the color variation, I really liked it.

I did have to butcher the first skein of yarn so the colors weren't too garish, but it really wasn't too bad.

The yarn was really interesting to knit with. I've never used a yarn like that- it almost felt as though I was knitting with ribbon. The fabric is cool to the touch, and perfect for a summer garment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Colour of Magic

book review thursday

book review thursday As I've previously mentioned, I've read Terry Pratchett before. In fact, I've actually read another book in the Discworld series before. Granted, I had no idea what the book was and read it solely based off the recommendation of a cute boy in Latin club when I was in high school, but that's entirely beside the point.

That book, Going Postal, was hilarious. I giggled throughout it. I was a huge fantasy buff growing up- my favorite author was, and probably still is Dianna Wynne Jones, and Going Postal reminded me of all of my favorite things of my childhood.

With The Colour of Magic, I expected the same. There were definite good points to this novel. For one thing, I found the dynamic between Twoflower and Rincewind absolutely hilarious. For another, I loved the bits of humor interspersed throughout the entire novel. Finally, I loved that the monster who managed to terrify an entire world was nothing more than a box with teeth and legs.

However, the major thing I felt was missing in this book was a cohesive plot. While Pratchett did a fabulous job of developing his humor and characters, I was often confused as to what the hell was going on. I could tell that there was this fabulous world in his head, a world perched on elephants and turtles, but I had the hardest time picturing anything. It's not that I wanted pages and pages of description either, I just felt that he needed to flesh everything out more concretely. You can definitely tell the difference between this, one of Pratchett's earliest works, and his later novels.

Another thing that I did enjoy is how much it reminded me of other works of fiction and mythology. Perhaps it is because I watched Thor before finishing the latter half of this book, or maybe it's because it's simply because at heart, I'm merely a giant nerd, but this rekindled my great love of mythology. It also reminded me of a podiobook I started quite a while ago, but never finished (I believe it was called Heaven). The delving into mythology has always been something I've liked to read and hear about.

I did enjoy this book, and I'll definitely delve more into his other books. I looked at quite a few reviews of this book before I finally put words to laptop-screen, and almost every one referred to Douglas Adams, who I'm ashamed to say, I've never read before. That's something that's also going to change- immediately.

Okay, well, as soon as I finished the other three books I currently have checked out of the library.

(3/5 stars)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Root Beer Cupcakes Part Deux

cupcake saturday

Okay, first a warning- the next few sets of cupcake photos aren't going to be as pretty as usual. They were taken quite a few days after I first made the cupcakes.


I made these for my sister's birthday party. She requested an oreo cake. Let's just say she didn't get it. I've made the oreo cake quite a few times before, and it's a pain in the butt, to say the least. It involves three layers cut into two with filling between, whipped cream frosting and mashed oreos pressed all around. Thoroughly messy and time consuming. Instead, I decided to use that recipe and turn it into cupcakes. Since not everyone likes chocolate... Okay, since I don't like chocolate, I wanted to give the girls an alternative.

I've actually talked about the frosting on these before- they're root beer float frosting. Yum.

(Side note, I found the blog of the woman who created most of the recipes I've used on tasty kitchen- How Sweet Eats. Everything looks delicious!)

At any rate, since I sufficiently tweaked the recipe, I feel okay about posting my version of it, especially since now I've read the author's opinion on it. The cake was a just a regular vanilla cake mix (one of those with the pudding in it) and a splash of root beer float extract. Overall, the verdict was that it was so much better with vanilla cake.

Root Beer Float Frosting
Adapted from How Sweet Eats

3 sticks butter, softened
8 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon root beer extract

Cream the butter until smooth. Then slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and try not to make it go all of the kitchen and/or mixer.

I have yet to master that skill.

Add milk, root beer extract, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Fill a frosting bag and using the tip, poke into the center of the cupcake and fill each. Finally, frost the whole shebang and try not to eat all of the cupcakes before guests arrive.

I should note, I always double frosting recipes. I *always* run out. Don't ask me why, but I do. I guess I'm just a frosting kind of girl. So if you're not a complete sugar addict like me, you might want to half it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

You're My Candy Girl And You've Got Me Wanting You

I know, I know, I'm terrible. I didn't do this last week. Last week I was just a mess though, so you'll have to forgive me. Hopefully I start doing better! I think I need to just learn that I have to write all of my posts for the week on the weekend before, or else they just plain won't get done.

finished object friday

I knit this so long ago, it isn't even funny.


This is my Improv Cowl. It's so basic, I'm almost ashamed of putting it on here. This yarn went through a lot of drama to get there- and I still have a skein and a half left. I had originally bought it because it was on sale at one of my LYSes. As I think I've mentioned before, I get weak at the knees over Manos.

I should be beaten off Manos Del Uruguay with a stick.

It's an obsession.

A horrible, horrible obsession that leads only to heartbreak when I realize, yet again, I dislike the look of highly variegated yarn in most patterns.


My first thought at seeing this yarn was "I MUST KNIT A HONEY COWL RIGHT NOW". I remember casting on when Monkey needed to drive to Midwest City to get his uniform altered.

That was not a pleasant trip. Because we didn't have my GPS with me, we were relying on google maps. The exit we needed was labeled unclearly (as in, there was an exit about fifteen minutes beforehand with the same damned name... and we didn't have the exit number. Monkey also decided that I clearly could not be trusted when I said I thought it wasn't the right exit. We wound up at Tinker Airforce base, which actually bordered where we needed to go.

The problem? We were on the opposite border and there wasn't an efficient way to actually get to the other side (well, other than driving through the base and that wasn't going to happen). On the plus side, we learned that the men who work as guards at that base are very friendly.

And they don't make fun of you to your face when you act like an idiot. ("How do you get to the other side" "... you go on the highway and take the next exit" "Can't we just drive around the base?" "...")

So what should have been one hour round-trip, took us four. To make matters worse, my wonderful honey cowl turned out resembling the oh so appealing color of cat barf. It wasn't pretty. On the (ridiculously long- we hit rush hour) drive home I got to rip out all that "lovely" work. It was fun. The yarn went into time out for quite some time after that.

At that point, I decided that seed stitch was the way to go. Thus, this ridiculously simple cowl was born. In terms of the leftovers? Yeah, I'm still pretending it doesn't exist.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

book review thursday

book review thursday Well, this was certainly a big step away from my usual reading material.I know I keep saying I've been disappointed in the books I've been reading. I've got to stop that. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag was a great sequel to The Sweetness At The Bottom of the Pie.

I'm not going to lie- I applied for a library card in Oklahoma specifically so I could have access to this audiobook.

It was so worth it. While I definitely wasn't as engaged as I was with the first book, I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I've had a really stressful week, and I've had to pick it up and set it down more often than I like. That's one of the advantages of paper books that I really don't think will ever go away. With a paper book, I find it so easy to curl up somewhere comfy and just read until I finish. I get so involved in the stories that interruptions don't even phase me. With audiobooks and, to a lesser extent, e-books, I don't get as drawn in as easily, so I set them down more often, which leads to me continuing to not be as engaged. It's a never ending cycle. Really, what I should be doing (and what I did when listening to the first book in this series) is listen while I'm at the gym. Hey, it's killing two birds with one stone! The only problem with that is my utter inability to motivate myself to actually go.

Either way, I enjoyed this book. Flavia's character is still full of the precocious adorableness that drew me in the first time. While the murder took a longer time to occur (half the book from my estimation), the murderer and exact details were unexpected enough to surprise me when they all came out. I particularly enjoyed the introduction of Ophelia's potential suitors, it really helped me feel like the de Luces were a real family. However, I felt marijuana subplot was not developed as well as it should have been. Because it was almost thrown in there without any real delving into, I almost felt it unnecessary. It was almost as if the author was using a cameo or token plot line. That's just a tiny nitpick of an overall, wonderful book.

This is definitely a thumbs up in my book, and I already have the sequel geared up in my reading queue!

(4/5 stars)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Birthday Preparations

I haven't been able to update lately, really. Mostly because, well, I suck. And I've been so busy with school that I haven't really been doing much of anything other than running around like crazy or sleeping. I'm really hoping that's going to change.

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday party. I drove home to help out my parents- mostly doing catering. So far I've made vanilla cupcakes with root beer frosting and cake batter chocolate bark. The chocolate bark was a new recipe, and for someone who doesn't like chocolate, I seriously ate more than my share.

I had to hide it in the fridge so I'd stop picking at it. Tomorrow morning I'll be making the rest of the cupcakes, as well as orchestrating the entertainment- making magnets. Monkey is at a Ranger FTX with ROTC, so he'll be dirty, stinky, and without cell phone service until Sunday. Poor thing.

At any rate, here's a sneak peak at my sister present (plus an iTunes gift-card hidden away in the obnoxious monkey card).


It feels so much like fall lately, I've been loving it. I'm ready for some Halloween celebrations- my pinterest boards are overflowing with ideas. Not that I'll really do anything with it- Halloween is reserved strictly for family... The decorations though... Those will hopefully at least make it to my apartment.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Want to Do Bad Things With You...

book review thursday

book review thursday Well, this was certainly a big step away from my usual reading material.

About half way in I was sure I was reading porn. cough

Anyways, I've been a fan of the TV show True Blood since it first came on the air. There's something about the ridiculously campy nature that I can't help but watch. While it's cheesy, the actors and writers admit that it's cheesy. I love all of the characters (Arlene and Pam are my definite favorites), and even with the story lines get more silly (fairies?!), I still love it... I will admit to closing my eyes during the sex scenes though.

At any rate, Dead Until Dark didn't live up to the same expectations. For one thing, the humor just wasn't there. It took itself by far too seriously for what it was- fluffy entertainment. I'm not saying that it was entirely terrible, I was just rather disappointed. The writing was... mediocre at best, and while I will give Charlaine Harris props for coming up with some unique and entertaining characters, Sookie felt a bit too much like a Mary Sue. I have every intention to continue to read more of the series, as I definitely liked them well enough to keep going. I particularly enjoyed comparing the book to the show (where was Tara! I missed her!), though I was considerably less enthralled with Rene.

It was probably the lack of the adorable accent.

At any rate, this was a good, mindless read, and I think everyone needs one of those every once and a while. I love seeing where the show has taken off from the books and developed ideas more concretely (like the issue of Vampire Rights). One of my favorite parts of the show is how perfectly the intro embodies the theme of the entire show. So, without further ado, here it is!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bananananana Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting

cupcake saturday

It's that time again! I'm lucky I'm going home next weekend, I'm really running out of cupcakes to post. Jen's birthday is coming up, so I might go crazy with the baking and cooking!


These are from a few weeks ago again, but they were definitely worth the mention. I made banana cupcakes with strawberry frosting. Yet again, the frosting was divine. I was really surprised at the natural flavors of it since it actually used strawberry jelly rather than real, fresh strawberries.

The cake portion was good too, although it tasted more like a muffin than a cupcake. I'm still on the quest to find a great banana cupcake recipe, but in terms of strawberry, I definitely think I found a winner. My mom makes a wonderful banana cake every year for my birthday, and I should probably just ask her for that and change it for cupcakes. But that would be going to easy route, right?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Good Omens

book review thursday

book review thursday I wanted to like this book, I really did. I've read Terry Pratchett before- only the book Going Postal, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also have read a few blog posts by Neil Gaiman. I've thoroughly enjoyed both.

Good Omens, however, I'm just not so sure about. I don't know if it was because I was listening to it, or because had so many story lines roaming at once, but I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought it would. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it- in fact, I really did. I loved the humor in it. I loved listening to Crowley and Aziraphale. I even loved Anathema Device and Newt. But every time the book veered toward Adam the Antichrist, I lost interest. I think it's because the other characters were so interesting, so engaging, that I didn't want to leave them. Adam and the Them dragged on in their frivolous childhood. It just felt rather out of place. And humorless.

Overall, I think I'll definitely be reading this again. It's one of those books that I think would be great a rainy day. I want to curl up in an arm chair with a warm cup of tea or soup and spend the whole afternoon in that universe. This is definitely a book I'd recommend, and I really think I'll enjoy it more as I reread it. As soon as I get an e-reader, this book is going to be at the top of the list. (Also, I want to be Crowley and Aziraphale's bff. I'm just sayin').

(5/5 stars)