Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: Fire and Fury

I’m trying to keep up and document each book I read, so here goes another book review. I finished Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury Inside the Trump White House in the plane coming back from California. Unless you’re really living under a rock you’ve heard about this book when it came out in early January. There was a big media circus because Trump reportedly tried to stop its publication. 

The book promises shocking revelations about the Trump campaign, presidency and white house dysfunction. To me it wasn’t really that shocking. Maybe because my opinion about Trump is so low that I find nothing about him shocking anymore, or maybe because I've been following the news in quiet (or not so quiet) desperation. But it is very interesting to get a confirmation to the suspicion that he really did not intend to win the election, was not planning to be a president, and that he has no clue about any policy issues, nor any interest or patience to learn about them. He really just is all about sound bites, ranting and raving, and acting whichever way he thinks will bring him the most instant gratification. 

The book spends a lot of time discussing the warring factions of the white house, where it seems nobody is working together towards the same goals, but everyone is just grabbing power and working cross purposes in utter dysfunction. For us democrats that’s good news as it means that they (republicans) won’t be able to get much (damage) done. 

Although the writing is good on its face (and the vocabulary is interesting - I think I learned a few new words), the book was a little tedious at times, went off in tangents that didn't always add much to the story, and was very repetitious. The book could have lost at least a third of its length to good editing. However, I think it's an important book to read if you are interested in politics and really want to understand the current president and the people around him. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it

Last week I traveled to California for work. I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton at Laguna Niguel. What can I say...it's tough to complain about the long days, stress and jet lag when you're staying at the Ritz. Along with the Montage at Laguna Beach, which is just a couple miles up the coast, this is one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed at.

The public spaces are full of beautiful details. 

Every window has a view of the ocean

The rooms are absolutely gorgeous

And the views are magnificent

That's the hotel up on the cliff. The Salt Creek Beach is a known surfer spot. There were numerous surfers out every day, and various schools' surf teams came out to surf early in the morning. The surfers were out there from morning dawn to sunset, waiting for that perfect wave. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Binge worthy shows

Aaah. I love Amazon Prime! I just finished binge watching the classic Pride and Prejudice miniseries with my 15 year old, who is my partner for these types of shows. This version is made by BBC in 1996, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and it's just so wonderfully romantic and good. This is the best version of Pride and Prejudice, and even though I've seen it a few times, it's still amazing. Amazon Prime has this version, and so many other quality shows (not the least Downton Abbey). This show was so needed after a rough week at work, and provided some much needed relaxation before I head out to a work trip next week.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Books I've Read Recently II: The Rules of Magic

The second book I read in January was Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic. I read it without knowing that it's actually a prequel to Hoffman's previous book, Practical Magic, which I have not read. Since I liked the Rules of Magic, I now may have to read Practical Magic too.
The Rules of Magic tells about siblings from New York City who were born to a family that has witches in their bloodline, and a curse about falling in love. The book is a pretty simple love story and coming of age story jumping between two sisters and a brother. I like Hoffman's style of writing, which is like a fairy tale for adults. This book is a little confection, mostly light and sweet and delectable. The characters are likable, well developed and I had a hard time putting the book down. I have a few books on my reading list, but I will definitely add Practical Magic to that list too.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Books I've Read Recently: The Address

The Address by Fiona Davis was the first book I read this year. I started on the christmas break and finished soon after New Year's. It's a fun book to read, particularly for someone who lives and/or works in New York City. The story moves parallel in 1884 and 1985, and it was fascinating to read about the description of New York more than a hundred years ago. The story is set in the Dakota apartment building, made famous by John Lennon's murder (he lived there, and Yoko Ono still lives there), and many other celebrities having lived there. The story is a love story and a murder mystery, and it moves very comfortably between the two eras. I also learned something new about New York City history by reading the book, particularly the history of the Roosevelt Island asylum, where conditions where horrendous in the late 1800's. I liked the book so much that I have plans to read Fiona Davis' previous book, The Dollhouse, as well.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ski Mom

We just came back from a quick weekend ski-getaway. I took the girls skiing at Camelback in Pennsylvania, which is a great place for beginners because they have a nice long bunny hill, magic carpet ride on the bunny hill, lots of lessons, and lots of beginners, so you don't have to feel intimidated or embarrassed if you fall or look a little wobbly on your skis. We skied on Friday night and all day Saturday. Sunday morning we slept a little later, then had a leisurely buffet breakfast at the hotel. We stopped at the outlets before heading back home, but I was not into shopping, and we didn't stay there that long. 

This was my after ski moment of bliss after Friday night ski. 

These girls learned so much in a day! 

Taking a little rest :-)

The only drawback is that the slopes at Camelback close at 9 p.m. which makes it hard to get there in time on Friday to get in enough ski time. We managed to ski a couple hours on Friday night though. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sushi Chef

It's easy to fall into a food rut and keep making the same things over and over again. I fall into that rut every six months or so, and things get pretty boring. So now I've been trying to dig myself out of that rut and come up with something more fun, and also somewhat healthy. I decided to try making sushi. The kids love it, and although it has carbs, it's otherwise quite healthy. It felt a little intimidating first, but I decided not to beat myself up if it didn't work out perfectly. So I watched a couple of youtube videos (you'd be surprised how many videos you can find on making sushi), and got to work. In preparation I had bought the bamboo mat that you use for rolling sushi, sushi rice, rice vinegar, and seaweed from a Korean market (if you're ever around Hicksville, go the the H-Mart - the place is amazing!).  From my local supermarket I bought salmon, cucumber, avocado, seaweed salad, imitation crab, and pickled ginger. 

Making sushi was fun and surprisingly easy. The rolling is easier than it looks like. The rolls didn't come out restaurant perfect, but I thought they came out good for a fist time sushi maker. The kids had fun rolling sushi too. We will definitely be making sushi again, and will experiment with different ingredients. My oldest daughter already ordered Philadelphia rolls for our next sushi dinner (salmon and cream cheese). I want to try making spicy tuna.. and a roll with the rice outside the seaweed. All in all, if you're thinking about making sushi, go for it!