31-Day Blog Challenge: Fave Childhood Book

Day 24/31

arthurI was a big reader when I was younger…  I think I read more back then than I do today!!  Gosh, that’s sad…  Anywho.  My mornings and afternoons were filled with storytime, whether it was at home or a few blocks away at the public library.

If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you know how important I think reading is, especially for young people.  You will also know that I have a horrible memory concerning events that happened prior to yesterday that don’t involve travel or work.  Because of this and the sheer quantity of “first loves” I had in books – it’s difficult for me to pick one.

I read Shel Silverstein, for sure, but Marc Brown’s Arthur is most vivid in my mind.  Arthur, Francine & Buster’s daily life and adventures with all of their other friends were so much fun to read about and watch.  As a matter of fact, I know what I’ll be searching for on my Roku tonight…time to reminisce!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!




“Books are the plane, the train and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home.” – Anna Quindlen

I can relate so much to this. I have loved books since I was a young child, and reconnecting with them lately after a period of “I’m too busy”s and “I would rather just watch TV”s…has been like coming home. Thanks to Shelf Awareness for the graphic (https://www.facebook.com/shelfawareness).

Review: Restaurant Man

Restaurant ManRestaurant Man by Joe Bastianich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe Bastianich. He’s an arrogant a**hole, a self-professed “cheap f*ck”… But, you can’t ignore his success or that, yes, just maybe, he has a reason to be just a bit arrogant. The man seems to be a genius, although he can at times come across as the pioneer for *everything* – surely he is an innovator, but sometimes it feels like a bit of a stretch. His passion for food, wine and Italy are evident throughout the book, and it seems incredibly authentic in those respects.

To be honest, I almost didn’t make it seven pages into this book. I admit I have a potty mouth, but I literally blushed at how crude and vulgar he was, particularly in the beginning chapters of of the book. I’d think, “Wow, I haven’t seen the F word for a while…” Just as soon as I’d think that, I’d see that, yep, there it was. That being said, his voice is clear throughout his writing, and you feel like you’re sharing a long, delicious, Italian meal (with, of course, great Italian wine) with him relating his life story to you, hand gestures, asides and all. I loved that.

If you can get over his rather repulsive potty mouth (hey, we all have vices), this makes for a very enjoyable and enlightening read. It has a good theme, and his chapters and stories are on-point. His transformation and story are inspiring, and I found myself wanting to read this book every free moment I had. And, when I find myself in New York, I am SO hitting up Babbo.

View all my reviews

31-Day Blog Challenge: 13 of My Favorite Things

Day 11/31

^^Julie Andrews, because.

I may not be Oprah (or Maria Von Trapp, for that matter), but I like to thing it’s special and noteworthy when I add something to my list of “Favorite Things.”  (I can be so self-absorbed sometimes…!)  I wasn’t sure about this prompt…  Does “things” mean physical things, tangible things, people, places?  So, I’ve decided to improvise and include a bit of each.

  1. Of course, my family and friends.  Most importantly, I love, love, LOVE being an uncle. Our family has gotten tighter and bigger over the last few years, probably closer than we were when all of us were under one roof.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve been fortunate to find like-minded (and those who think way differently than me!) friends who I enjoy spending time with and can be weird around because they are, too.  In particular, one of my “fave things” is when friends become so close that you can consider them family and they do the same for you – I love gaining new family!
  2. Travel.  I tell people often that the reason I take so much time off for work for travel is “for their own safety.”  No joke!  If I start getting stir-crazy or don’t have a trip to look forward to (rare!), I can get pretty grouchy, frustrated and sad.  Travel makes me feel alive… it’s what I live, breathe and work for. It’s what makes the world make sense, and also what makes me question the heck out of it. I enjoy traveling domestically and abroad (abroad is so much more exotic and fun!  But, of course, it is more expensive – darn it all…), and enjoy all sorts of travel experiences, taking the good, the bad, and the ugly that come with it.
  3. My Roku 2 XD Streaming Player.  A coworker had been raving for a while about his Roku and how much he loved it.  My response was that I had a smart Blu-Ray player, so I didn’t need one.  Well, in advance of getting an apartment and more TVs that wouldn’t all require a Blu-Ray player, I decided to get a couple since they were on such a good sale (seriously, like over half off).  Wow – this product works wonderfully.  The rather-limited remote works great and the interface is intuitive and has some useful and helpful features, such as searching by title or actor across a number of content platforms.  Most importantly, content loads super-quickly (usually within 5-10 seconds) and you only have to have two things plugged into it (thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity) – an HDMI cable and the power.  This might even be my “product of the year” for 2014!!  There are several newer models out there now, but I really like this one, especially since it was such a good deal because of those newer models.
  4. My Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones.  I love these things!  I had put off getting a pair for several years as I just could not justify the exorbitant cost, but one rather noisy flight and the release of a Limited Edition Blue color and I broke down and bought a pair.  They have a great battery life and work quite well.  I used to use them a lot when studying in the library at college between classes (“quiet space,” my ass) and now use them when blogging, flying and in general, trying to zone out from the world.
  5. Before I sold it, thinking I was “upgrading,” I loved my Nikon D3100.  It was such a great camera and it had been on a lot of travels with me.  I miss it!  I will be purchasing a new camera between now and my trip to Europe in July, so I hope it will be able to take this spot as one of my favorite things!
  6. The ability to order a glass of wine with dinner (or a mixed drink if I’m wanting one), and the ability to buy alcohol.  I don’t drink often or a lot, but it is nice to be able to enjoy a drink or two with friends and family around the holidays or other social events.  I think Europe and other countries handle alcohol policy much better than we do here.  Yes, they have some of the same problems we do, but when kids are raised to drink it responsibly, there is less of a stigma and rebellious attitude towards it, which I think causes lots of problems stateside.  Also, while we’re on the topic, the ban of Sunday sales throughout many areas in this country is ridiculous and is based on antiquated practices and religion – keep religion out of when I can buy my Elunes Moscato and Martini & Rossi!
  7. Food.  Before I get all sappy and emotional here and use up all 15+ fave things for food, I’ll save that for Day 21.  Just know that I love eating food, traveling for food, photographing food, thinking about food, looking at food…  So, you probably get it by now.  Stay tuned for my love letter to food.  Oh, and chocolate.  The love is real.  🙂
  8. All of my Apple products.  I have had several iPods and iPads, and within the last couple of years have joined the MacBook Pro and iPhone (5s – holla!) club.  I love Apple because they care about functionality and design; their products work great, are user-friendly and look like works of art.  Put me in front of the Apple section at Best Buy and I will just “ooh” and “ahh” for hours, pining over that shiny, gorgeous 27″ iMac.  Yummmmm.
  9. My Fossil Carson eyeglasses.  When I was looking at getting new glasses a couple of years ago – crunched for time after my glasses broke, just a couple days before a weekend trip to Arizona – I was going to get a flashy pair of Nike glasses.  I’m glad my mother discouraged me from that pair and that the other ladies at the eye doctor’s office agreed that I should go instead with my current pair.  They are classic yet modern, and best of all, they help me see and reduce strain on my eyes.  Yay for vision!!
  10. Jackets.  I am a jacket-lover, which is one reason I enjoy Fall, because I get to break out my jackets!  (Hooray for “Jacket Season,” which is what I call Fall!)  In particular, I like The North Face Momentum (in green, of course) for everyday use, The North Face Resolve for when it’s rainy out (in green, again…  are you starting to see a pattern??), and anything by Timberland.
  11. Books.  I have a love with books, especially those that make me feel something.  I haven’t read as much or as well lately as I’ve wanted to (a project for this year), but I particularly enjoy browsing thrift stores, used book stores and – of course – Barnes & Noble for great finds.  I love purchasing and collecting books (especially classics) almost more than I love reading them!  It’s so fun to transport yourself to another world, and I’m super-happy to see that my niece shares my love for the written word.  I won’t touch on the eBooks vs. paper books debate – that’s another post!
  12. Netflix & Amazon Prime.  (I do love Amazon for more than just Prime, in the spirit of full disclosure.)  These two products have transformed how we watch movies and TV shows, and they make it incredibly convenient and easy to access the content we want to watch.  Even if you have to pay for Instant Video on Amazon, the fact that you can is awesome.  (On the subject, I hate Hulu – if I am paying for a monthly subscription, I’m not watching ads – sorry!!  When the ads kept getting longer and the website got more difficult to use, I decided it was time to say goodbye.)  On the subject (I’m doing this a lot tonight!), I love TV shows – the character development is greater and richer than in most movies, and it’s great to get to know and love/hate a character and really get in their head.  It’s more like a book than movies, and I like that.  🙂
  13. TripAdvisor, Goodreads, WordPress, Flickr, Facebook and other social media and useful sites (I know I’m missing a lot of my favorites here).  TripAdvisor is my go-to source for travel – I don’t book a hotel or eat at a restaurant before checking with my peeps on TripAdvisor; I also love writing reviews for this site, although I have totally fallen off the bandwagon writing and posting them as of late (another project).  Goodreads is great for reading – I get to write reviews, keep track of what I’ve read and what I want to, and see what my friends and others I follow are reading.  WordPress is great because it’s how I get to share and have fun with you all!  Flickr is a great community for photography (another site I plan to get more involved with in the coming year) and is so inspiring.  And, of course, Facebook…  I love it and I hate it, but it is definitely one of my favorite things – which is a problem because I spend so much time on it!
  14. 13 is a good, odd number and I am struggling to come up with more favorite things, so Imma gonna end it here instead of doing all 15!  I feel like I’m probably missing several that I use everyday, but I’ll update them here when I think of them.