Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Check out my super cool witch's finger cookies!! Bet you didn't expect such an amazing product from me!! I am learning to be more and more domestic as the days go by!! Plus, I had a fantastic opportunity to wear my "Lil" apron.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bridal Shower

Yesterday we celebrated Kristina and Mark's upcoming nuptuals with a Bridal Shower at Mamacitas. It was a great venue and Dory did a wonderful job co-hosting her very first shower. Kristina and Mark are getting married in Las Vegas in November, and we wish we could make it! But we know they will have a wonderful time and we wish them the best. Kristina was my suitemate in college, so we had a reunion of sorts yesterday at the shower. Pictured below is our entire suite for our Sophomore and Junoir years at Trinity. My roommate, Lena is on the left, then me, Kristina, and Dory. Dory is getting married in March so she gets to prepare for all the bridal activities soon, too!

More Book Reviews

Now that we have successfully proven how dorky the Stackhouse clan is, I can proceed with my book reviews. While Philip (and his family) apparently enjoy books where learning is involved, I prefer the simple enjoyment of fiction.

In Full Bloom, by Caroline Hwang
4 book worms
This book was about a Korean woman in her late 20s who was single, which apparently is unacceptable to her Korean mother. Her mother flies to NYC to find her an acceptable Korean man and lives with her for the duration of this book (a month or so). The tales of how she meets these Korean men, but really prefers white men, is quite funny and intriuging. I started out not really liking the book because I was unfamiliar with the Korean culture which I thought would make for a slower read, however the author did a great job keeping it light-hearted, and I probably learned a few things about Korean culture, or at least their food. Cute story, quick read.

Boy Meets Girl, by Meg Cabot
5 book worms
Written entirely through instant messages, emails, or journal entries, this book was so cute! I loved the modern format of "chatting" and you get so many different perspectives this way. The main characters are best friends who work together in HR. They become entwined with this HR firing scandal and one of the friends gets fired by her horrendous female boss. The boss's fiancee works for the company's law firm, and is equally as horrendous, but of course has an amazing lawyer brother who works there too that our main character falls for. A cute love story, cleverly written. Love it!

The Rice Mother, by Rani Manicka
5 book worms
While this book is definitely not my typical reading genre, it was taking up space on our book shelf so I decided to give it a try. My Aunt Carol had passed it along to me a few years ago so I figured it may be worth it. The book provided a very thorough, and at times gruesome, look at Malayan life through the eyes of all different members of a family from the 1940s - present. The wartime descriptions are what I mean by gruesome, as she describes the things that were seen and done to the citizens of Malaysia that are unthinkable (at least to me, in present-day American culture). However, the life lessons and values learned by the children and granchildren through their many hardships really told a great story. I tend to enjoy books where you get all different perspectives and points of view, rather than just the one character telling the story, and this book really did a great job of this. Hearing about experiences from the different characters' perspectives really helped to tie the story together, and create a solid set of memories and experiences. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, which is why I have been so vague, but I really recommend this book. And, I may have learned some history so Philip should be quite proud.

Nights in Rodanthe, by Nicholas Sparks
5 book worms
In true Nicholas Sparks style, this book is a fantastic love story that is absoulutely heartwarming and unforgettable. I have read many of Nicholas Sparks' books and never once have I been disappointed, and Nights in Rodanthe is no exception. The story is told by a mother looking back 14 years into the past, remembering her whirlwind romance that became the love that lasted her a lifetime. She is telling this story to teach her daughter the lesson of love and loss, as her daughter's husband has recently passed away, leaving her 2 young sons to care for alone. The characters are, in typical Sparks' fashion, ones you can relate to. Even if circumstances in this novel aren't ones a reader has experienced personally, the characters and feelings conjure up memories to really draw the reader in; this would not be the first time a Sparks novel has made me want to laugh and cry with the characters. I am headed to Amazon.com right now to make a list of the other novels by Sparks I haven't read yet, so that I can head out to Half Price Books and pick them up.

Other than the novel above that Aunt Carol lent me, the others were lent to me by my friend Amanda. But usually I borrow three at a time and now I've read them all. Guess it's time for us to have dinner and do some book swapping! Until then, I can see a Harry Potter book on the shelf that I will read next. Can't tell which one it is, so you'll just have to wait for the next book review!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Reviews

Seeing how we don't have cable or basic TV, Lauren and I have been reduced to reading books! While this isn't a bad thing, it is definitely something to get used to. Fortunately, it has been pretty easy to adjust. We figured we would provide some reviews of the books we've recently finished reading and a review on the "bookworm system" in Drew's honor. Each rating is out of a possible 5 worms.

1 worm = Don't bother. We feel for the trees killed to print this sorry thing.
2 worms = Ehh... don't bother unless you're locked up with nothing to do, and they took away your finger paints.
3 worms = Put this on your list, but not at the top.
4 worms = Definitely worth your while.
5 worms = Get up right now and go purchase (or borrow) this book! A must read!

24 Days, by Rebecca Smith & John R. Emshwiller
(4 Worms)
The Enron story has been thoroughly documented in numerous books and articles in the past few years. While I had a general idea of what brought down Enron from the numerous articles I had previously read, I was looking for an Enron book which would provide a detailed insider account of the unfolding events which eventually took down one of the largest corporations in America. This book caught my attention because it was written by two Wall Street Journal-ists who were assigned to cover the story. It was said by some (including the authors) that they were the first major news outlet to uncover the scandals taking place at Enron. This book is the account of both reporters detailing the days that they spent investigating Enron's financial position, most notably the Fastow partnerships. 24 Days gave great detail of the reporters' difficulty in uncovering the partnerships and the very complex manner in which they were produced. The book also goes into account of Arthur Anderson turning a blind eye towards Enron's entire operation, even though they were aware of the huge conflicts of interest between Andy Fastow (being General Partner of the partnerships) and Enron. Overall, the book provided a great view on how the reporters gathered and collected evidence to report the biggest corporate scandal in American history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the details of how Enron was brought down, chiefly the Fastow partnerships, however the book gave very few details on many of the failed business ventures which also led to the eventual downfall of Enron. To further learn about this part of the story, I will be adding the book Enron: The Smartest Men in the Room to my wish list. (I must say, the movie was pretty good.)

1776, by David McCullough
(4-1/2 worms)
This book was referred to me by my beloved siblings, Brad & Amity (everyone knows Felicity doesn't read). Actually, I even borrowed Amity's copy of the book from her extensive collection. This book details the American Revolution during... 1776 (who would have guessed?). I'm a big fan of history, particularly the accounts of wars, so this book definitely fit my interests. Having known only very general details of the American Revolution provided by my exquisite public education, this book was my first real education of what took place during the period of the American Revolution. The year 1776 was important in many respects because this was the turning point for the war. Everyone knows that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but who knew that the war waged on many years after that? (Sorry, Mom, for some reason I did not know that... but it helped that my wife didn't either... even though she also expressed how little she cared.) This book provided insight into the character of George Washington and his very young and very inexperienced commanders. While the book got off to a slow start, it soon picked up after recounting the events of the battle for Boston, and from that point forward was a very fast read. McCullough did a great job in researching all the different accounts from the participants of the war to the media and newspapers. It was interesting reading the communication between British and American commanders, as well as gaining the insight of how during 1776, the "rebel fighters" were many times on the brink of losing. This book while at times praises Washington's resolve, also makes him out at other times to look like a fool. Let's just say that if Washington had his way, we would all be accustomed to having High Tea. It is my opinion that McCullough should write another book detailing the events leading up to the Treaty of Paris in 1783 so that we can further learn about the important events of the war after this important year he has detailed.

Neoconomy: George Bush's Revolutionary Gamble with America's Future, by Daniel Altman
(1/2 worm) -- Did not finish
This book, just by the title, in my mind would be a great read because there are a multitude of topics that could be covered under the changing of the economy and the position of Neo-conservatives. This book, however, did a poor job of outlining key topics and explaining conclusions. The book is dry, and in my opinion poorly written. As noted above, I was unable to finish the book because of how ineffective the author was in explaining his view and keeping the reader entertained. Hopefully someone else will pick this topic up and write a more intriguing account.

The next book on my list is Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman by Merle Miller, and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Please feel free to respond with recommendations on other books to add to my list.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Congratulations are in order...

Many things to celebrate these days, so I figured why not post it for all the world to see!

Congratulations to Karthik on his new job with the City of Houston! We are super excited for you! Soon Felicity will graduate and become a "day-shift" worker again and maybe you can be on the same schedule! Then again, you'll probably be headed to Medical school around that time... Oh well, then you'll be on your way to becoming a doctor and Felicity will just stay home and spend the paycheck anyway. So much to look forward to-- congrats!!

Congratulations to Dana on her acceptance to SMU's PMBA program! This is a program for Professionals who work full time while they get their MBA. The PMBA program is rated the best program of this type in Texas so it is very exciting for her. Plus, one day when she graduates and gets her great-paying dream job, I hope to benefit from having a rich/successful friend... duh. Congrats!!

Congratulations to Shannon & Cary on the birth of their beautiful baby girl Penelope Linda! She is gorgeous, and we can't wait to watch her grow in the next few months through photos, and actually meet her in December when y'all visit. I only hope in the weeks after I give birth I can be as well adjusted as y'all seem to be! You are doing a great job sharing photos of Penelope and keeping up with your correspondence-- much better than other people we know who don't have the excuses like a crying baby to feed and not getting a full night's rest that you could use. Very impressive. Congrats!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Gardens by Moonlight

On Saturday night, we experienced the cultural adventure that was Gardens by Moonlight at the Botanical Gardens. We went with two other couples, and none of us had ever been to the Botanical Gardens before, despite living in San Antonio over 5 years.

We had dinner at our house before the event because we knew the "gourmet" food that was advertised would not be cheap, and we are very glad we did because by the time we arrived, the food was already sold out! So luckily we were not too grumpy or hungry to enjoy the gardens.

Back to dinner. I planned the menu-- chicken fajitas with all the fixin's, strawberry margaritas for the girls and of course beer for the men. I found a recipe online for strawberry margaritas with real fruit (well, real frozen) because I don't like that strawberry mixer stuff that many places use. So we made them in our super fun Smootherator and they turned out to be VERY yummy! The boys grilled and the girls did prep-work (while gossiping of course) and then we all had a wonderful dinner.

The reason we had dinner at our house (other than our fantastic party-hosting skills, of course) is because just at the end of our street is a shopping center called Terrell Plaza, and that is the one stop for the shuttle to the Gardens by Moonlight event! We couldn't have planned it better ourselves! So we walked to the end of our street and hopped in line for the shuttle.

As we were riding on our plush shuttle bus to the Gardens, we were suprised at the SUPER long line of cars trying to get in. We were glad we didn't try to drive, and we were also very surprised at how popular the event was. But we also felt very proud of ourselves for picking such a great thing to do on Saturday-- we were sure everyone would be talking about it on Monday. (Although needless to say I didn't hear anyone else mention it at work today... hmm.)

They had Gypsy Jazz musicians, Cajun musicians, and all other sorts of bands for our listening pleasure and they had all of the exhibits and gardens open for us to roam around and see.

We walked all around the gardens, but my favorite place had to be the rose garden, where my amazing photographic skills came to fruition. I mean, check out that photo. Try to beat it! Everyone else was impressed with my photo, well except my husband who wonders who takes photos of flowers. Honestly, who cares as long as my photo is the best?!

Oops, I think my only child competitive streak just showed itself...

Needless to say, it was a fun event, and now we have gotten our cultural fill for the month and can resort to watching movies on the couch for the rest of the Saturdays of the month.