Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge

The Young Adult Reading Challenge is another one I did last year that I'm doing again.  I'm going to do the second level, Fun Size, and read 20 YA books.

1. Evernight - Claudia Gray -  finished Feb 6
2. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins - finished Feb 19
3. Pretty Little Liars #3: Perfect - Sara Shepard - finished Feb 24
4. Stargazer - Claudia Gray - finished Mar 4
5. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins -  finished Mar 14
6. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins - finished Mar 22
7. Keys to the Repository - Melissa de la Cruz - finished Mar 25
8. Misguided Angel - Melissa de la Cruz - finished Apr 15
9. Pretty Little Liars #4: Unbelievable - Sara Shepard - finished May 5
10. Hourglass - Claudia Gray - finished May 12
11. Pretty Little Liars #5: Wicked - Sara Shepard - finished May 20
12. Afterlife - Claudia Gray - finished June 23
13. Bloody Valentine - Melissa de la Cruz - finished June 24
14. Pretty Little Liars #6: Killer - Sara Shepard - finished July 17
15. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher - finished July 22

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crusin' Thru the Cozies Reading Challenge

Mysteries are by far my favorite type of book to read.  I usually like to read ones with darker themes, but I do enjoy a cozy mystery every once in awhile.  For the Crusin' Thru the Cozies Challenge, I'm going to start at Level 1 - Snoop and read 1-6 cozy mysteries.  Even though there's a range, I'm going to read six of them.

2. For Better or Hearse - Laura Durham - finished Feb 13
3. To Love and To Perish - Laura Durham - finished April 2 
4. Shot Through Velvet - Ellen Byerrum - finished June 9

Monday, December 13, 2010

Outdo Yourself/Support Your Local Library Challenges

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


I wanted to read 50 books in 2010.  Right now I'm at 45 and there's still 18 days left, so theoretically, I can still reach my goal.  The Outdo Yourself Challenge is pretty self explanatory.  I need to try and read more books in 2011 than I did this year.  I'm starting out easy with the first level, Getting My Heart Rate Up, to read 1-5 more books.

Update (1/2/11) - So I did it. I read 50 books in 2010.  I finished the last book on New Years Eve and now I'm ready to challenge myself and read 51 books in 2011.

Since this is basically just a post to list all the books I've read this year, I'm going to combine it with the Support Your Local Library challenge. I get all my books from the library so it shouldn't be a problem.  Since I'm trying to read 51 books, the Mega Size level fits.

1.  Dial Me for Murder - Amanda Matetsky - finished Jan 7
2. Secrets to the Grave - Tami Hoagfinished Jan 15
3. Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero - Marco Martinez - finished Jan 23
4. Tick Tock - James Patterson - finished Jan 29
5. Evernight - Claudia Gray -  finished Feb 6
6. For Better or Hearse - Laura Durham - finished Feb 13
7. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins - finished Feb 19
8. Pretty Little Liars #3: Perfect - Sara Shepard - finished Feb 24
9. Stargazer - Claudia Gray - finished Mar 4
10. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins -  finished Mar 14
11. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins - finished Mar 22
12. Keys to the Repository - Melissa de la Cruz - finished Mar 25
13. To Love and To Perish - Laura Durham - finished April 2 
14. Love You More - Lisa Gardner - finished April 
15. Misguided Angel - Melissa de la Cruz - finished Apr 15
16. Save Me - Lisa Scottoline - finished Apr 22
17. Mystery - Jonathan Kellerman - finished Apr 29
18. Pretty Little Liars #4: Unbelievable - Sara Shepard - finished May 5
19. Hourglass - Claudia Gray - finished May 12
20. Pretty Little Liars #5: Wicked - Sara Shepard - finished May 20
21. Grievous Sin - Faye Kellerman - finished May 31
22. Shot Through Velvet - Ellen Byerrum - finished June 9
23. The Closers - Michael Connelly - finished June 18
24. Afterlife - Claudia Gray - finished June 23
25. Bloody Valentine - Melissa de la Cruz - finished June 24
26. Fallen - Karin Slaughter - finished July 1
27. Smokin' Seventeen - Janet Evanovich - finished July 7
28. 10th Anniversary - James Patterson - finished July 9
29. Now You See Her - James Patterson - finished July 14
30. Pretty Little Liars #6: Killer - Sara Shepard - finished July 17
31. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher - finished July 22
32. The Silent Girl - Tess Gerritsen - finished July 25
33. Hotwire - Alex Kava - finished July 28

2011 Paranormal YA Reading Challenge

The goal of this reading challenge:  To read at least 12 Paranormal YA books.  This is perfect since I have a long list of books in this genre that I want to read.

1. Evernight - Claudia Gray (vampires) - finished Feb 6
2. Stargazer - Claudia Gray (vampires) - finished Mar 4
3. Keys to the Repository - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires) - finished Mar 25
4. Misguided Angel - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires) - finished Apr 15
5. Hourglass - Claudia Gray (vampires) - finished May 12
6. Afterlife - Claudia Gray (vampires) - finished June 23
7. Bloody Valentine - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires/witches) - finished June 24

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Berry Cobbler

Nothing says the 4th of July like a dessert made with strawberries and blueberries.  Everyone knows about the flag cake, but I went a different route.  The recipe comes from Chef Chloe, whose blog I found after watching her win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.  She made these delicious looking vegan cupcakes and her whole blog is filled with vegan recipes.  I want to try as many of them as I can.


Dough
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil or margarine
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups strawberries
2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup extra non dairy milk
1 tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Dough
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil and milk and add to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until thorough combined and dough like, but do not overmix.
Fruit
Whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon and then add to the berries. Toss until the berries are coated with the sugar mixture.

1. Pour berries into a 9in baking pan or distribute evenly into eight ramekins. Using a tablespoon, scoops lumps of dough on top of berries.
2. Brush the top of dough with extra almond milk and sprinkle sugar liberally.
3. Bake for 45min or until dough is cooked and lightly browned on top. Rotate after 20min so that it bakes evenly.
Get recipe here

fresh from the oven


I followed the recipe as written, using vanilla soy milk and Blue Bonnet. I forgot to rotate the cobbler, but I think it still came out the way it's supposed to.  Chloe has a recipe for vanilla bean whipped creme, but I topped mine with Cool Whip. This would be perfect for a barbeque or any time you want a quick and easy dessert for a crowd or yourself. Definitely a keeper!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reading Challenges Halfway Point

2010 is already half done so I thought I would take the time to update the progress of my reading challenges.

Support your Local Library Challenge (goal: 50 books) - I just started reading my 25th book and I'm planning to finish it by the end of this week.  I'm on pace to finish my goal by the end of the year.

Celebrate the Author Challenge (goal: 12 books) - I wanted to read birthday books in the month the author was born, but I found it was a little bit easier to read them out of order.  So far, I've read six books.  I have June and July books picked out and I already read the August birthday so now I just need Sept-Dec.  

2010 Pub Challenge (goal: 10 books published in 2010) - I've read seven so far, started an 8th, and have three more waiting in the wings.  This challenge will be done in the next few weeks.

Vampire Series Challenge (goal: six books) - I'm at five and have a sixth picked out, just need to find the time to read it.

Young Adult Challenge: (goal: 12 books) - Only one more to go.  My last vampire book is a young adult one so they'll overlap.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction Challenge (goal: six books) - This challenge ends in Feb 2011, but I wanted to read at least four of them this year.  I've only read one so I'm a little behind.

What an Animal Challenge (goal: six books) - This one also ends in Feb 2011, but it's been easier to meet the requirements because vampires count as animals and that works with the vampire series challenge.  I've finished four books and I'll have read at least five by the end of year because of the overlap.


To reach my goal of reading 50 books, I have to read 25 more (not counting the one I'm currently reading since I haven't finished it yet).  Without taking into account that some of the books will count for multiple challenges, I have to read 14 to fit a specific category.  If I wanted to finish my 2011 challenges, it would go up to 17, but I can subtract one since the young adult and vampire series challenges overlap.  

So the grand total would be either 13 or 16 specific books and then 12 or nine books of my choosing. The numbers could change because there might be some overlap, but that's not too bad! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

If you're a fan of chocolate chip cookies, but don't have the time to make individual ones, this is the recipe for you. 


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into greased pan.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack, then cut into bars



I followed the recipe exactly except I used only a cup of chocolate chips. It was enough chocolate, but not too much to overpower the cookie.  I also used a 13x10 pan instead for a thicker cookie and was able to get 24 servings. The chocolate was nice and melty and the cookie tasted delicious.  This will be my go to recipe for making pan cookies and maybe next time, I'll experiment with a different chocolate or candy.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trashtastic

With my regular tv shows being on break until the fall, I decided to check out some of the new summer fare being offered. One of my guilty pleasures is trashy reality tv. I've seen all three seasons of Tool Academy and was disappointed when Megan Wants a Millionaire went off the air due to that tragic murder/suicide. Now I've discovered True Beauty, You're Cut Off, and Toddlers & Tiaras.

True Beauty is about ten beautiful people who think they're competing for the title "The Face of Vegas." They participate in challenges and the two with the lowest scores are in danger of elimination. What the contestants don't know is that they're being watched 24/7 and all their actions and catty behavior are being caught on tape. That also plays in to who gets kicked off because the show's trying to find someone with beauty both inside and out.

In You're Cut Off, nine pampered spoiled princesses, who have never paid for anything in their lives, are made to live together in a house in the suburbs and forced to sleep in bunk beds, share two bathrooms, and cook and clean for themselves. It's only been on for one episode, but it's been hilarious. They struggled to figure out how to pour boxed wine, how to downsize their five suitcases into one duffle bag, and marveled at the fact that ground beef came in tubes. Plus these girls are used to being the alpha female so egos are colliding. I'm looking forward to seeing if they're ever going to change and get jobs and learn how to make their own beds.

Toddlers & Tiaras is strangely fascinating in that train wreck sort of way. Little girls and boys compete in pageants for crowns, trophies, money, and puppies. Their parents spend so much money on outfits, spray tans, and manicures. They're as young as newborns and as old as nine (that's what I've seen so far). Watching little girls parade around in too much make up and costumes not appropriate for their age is a little weird, but add in the drama from bratty children and overbearing stage moms and you can't stop watching!

Moral of the story is: I wish I was super hot and had lots of money, but I wouldn't trade who I am for that. Of course, I still want to get in shape and maybe have a little more financial freedom, but at least I know how to keep house somewhat (it's a little more like organized chaos), cook my own food, pay my own bills, and be an independent person. That'll help out in the long run.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bloggity Blog

The reason I created this blog was to keep track of my reading challenges. Then I decided to expand it to include any random thoughts, recipes, comics, etc. Of course, I hardly ever post even when I do have something to write. Not like anyone reads this except for me, which is fine. I'm having fun nonetheless. Since it's the summer and I have more free time, I'm determined to post something new at least once a week. Ideally, I would like to do something more like every other day, but if I aim low and exceed my expectations, I'll feel that much better about myself, lol.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tempeh Reubens

Since I'm trying to eat at home as much as possible, I thought it would be a good idea to start trying out some new recipes so I don't get bored. I found a recipe for tempeh reubens a few months ago and bought some tempeh especially for it, but I didn't get around to making them until now.

Megan's Tempeh Reubens

I pretty much followed the recipe for the marinade except I didn't use the paprika, thyme, or chili flakes. I also didn't have garlic so I used garlic powder and regular soy sauce instead of tamari. For the dressing, I mixed together mayo, ketchup, and some Sweet and Spicy Relish This! from Sunshine Specialty Foods, a local company in Chandler, AZ.

I didn't have any cheese either so it was just tempeh, sauerkraut, and the dressing. I used my George Foreman grill to toast the sandwich up and it was delicious. It had a nice soy sauce and sesame oil flavor, which went surprising well with the sourness of the sauerkraut. I haven't had a chance to buy more tempeh, but when I do, it will be just for this recipe.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Get in Shape!

Since 1983, May has been designated National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. In honor of this month and a little boost from Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have decided to set some health goals for myself.

1. Limit eating out to only one day a week.
2. Do some kind of exercise 3-4 times a week.
3. Eat a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal.

Right now, these goals are attainable minus the week I'm supposed to be spending in Georgia on vacation. Since we'll be staying at a hotel and eating out at least twice a day, I'll have to be a little more selective in what I choose off the menu. Other than that, I'm going to try and stick to these goals for the whole month. They're not that hard and a small first step in getting a little healthier.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Say What?!


Word came down yesterday from the Philadelphia Eagles that they traded QB Donovan McNabb to their NFC East rivals, the Washington Redskins. Rumors were floating around since the season ended that one of the Eagles' QBs would be traded/let go and all signs pointed to McNabb. It's still a shock, though, that would trade him within the division. I think it would have made more sense to trade him somewhere else, like the NFC West, where all the teams were interested. It would have been awesome for him to play for the Arizona Cardinals because he owns a house here and I maybe would have rooted for them.

McNabb is leaving behind a legacy in Philly even though he nvr won a Super Bowl. He has winning records against the other three NFC East teams and has started more games than any current QB besides Peyton Manning. He also leaves with a 86 QB rating. I just hope that McNabb will be able to turn the Redskins into a winning team and show the Eagles what they're losing, especially since they're starting Kevin Kolb, who sucks, and not Michael Vick.

I'm not the only one who thinks the Eagles are stupid for letting McNabb go. Ex-Eagle and current Broncos player, Brian Dawkins, thinks so too: NFL Blog: Eagles made mistake trading McNabb

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Did you feel that?

Sometime around 3:30 or so, I was lying down for my afternoon nap. All of a sudden, there was movement and I thought, "Why is the couch moving? Is there an earthquake?," which is ridiculous since we don't have those in AZ, but being from San Francisco, I know all about them. Cat Leia, who was already sleeping on the pillows, woke up like she had been disturbed and walked away. I thought maybe she had felt it too, but then chalked it up to coincidence.

A couple hours later (I take long naps, lol), I turned the tv on and it just happened to be tuned to the news. What were they talking about? An earthquake! I googled it and found out a 7.2 magnitude earthquake had hit Baja, Mexico and it was felt all over Southern California and in some parts of Arizona (I knew I wasn't imagining things). There was also a smaller one in the Bay Area ten minutes later, but it wasn't related.

Feeling earthquakes in AZ is weird since natural disasters are not common here. We did have a recent one, though, in January 2010. It was raining like crazy and Arizona was declared a state of emergency. Other than that, AZ is a pretty nice state to live in, if you don't count all the debt we have, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bracketology

At work, we have a pool for March Madness. Winner gets a drink and a snack from each of the losers. For the past three years I've lost, but that can all change. After making some bold choices, which included having West Virginia make it to the finals, I am one win away from becoming this year's champion.

It's down to two people now and the only thing standing in my way is Duke. If Duke wins, I lose. If they lose, I win. I was the only one who picked West Virginia to beat Kentucky and when they did, I was ecstatic. Even though we're only playing for food, I'm a huge competitor and I hate losing. I don't even play sports, but throw in some kind of fantasy competition and I become a machine, lol.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Truth is Stranger than Fiction Challenge - Completed





Finally finished my first book for the Truth is Stranger than Fiction Challenge. I have until February 28, 2011 to read six nonfiction books.

2. WAR - Sebastian Junger - finished July 20
3. With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa - E.B. Sledge - finished Aug 18
4. Too Late to Say Goodbye - Ann Rule - finished Sept 27
5. unSweetined - Jodie Sweetin -  finished Oct 26
6. Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero - Marco Martinez - finished Jan 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hogwarts Reading Challenge

Who knew there were so many different reading challenges out there? The Hogwarts Reading Challenge overlaps with my other ones so I decided to do it too. You get a point for each book you read that fits into one of the categories based on classes given at Hogwarts. The points go towards your house and whichever one has the most wins the House Cup.



The Sorting Hat put me in Gryffindor. It's nice to know that I am worthy of being in the same house as Harry Potter.


Defence Against the Dark Arts - read any book that has defence (defense), dark, and/or arts in the title; read any book about self defense, war, history of war/martial arts, murder mysteries

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer - Nathaniel Fick (history of war - Iraq/Afghanistan) - finished March 18
Deception - Jonathan Kellerman (murder mystery) - finished April 17
The Burning Wire - Jeffery Deaver (murder mystery) - finished June 24
Broken - Karin Slaughter (murder mystery) - finished July 6
Private - James Patterson (murder mystery) - finished July 10
WAR - Sebastian Junger (history of war - Afghanistan) - finished July 20
Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner (murder mystery) - finished July 27
Caught - Harlan Coben (murder mystery) - finished August 2
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa - E.B. Sledge (history of war - WWII) - finished Aug 18
Lost Light - Michael Connelly (murder mystery) - finished Aug 27
The Postcard Killers - James Patterson (murder mystery) - finished Aug 31
Too Late to Say Goodbye - Ann Rule  (true crime murder mystery) - finished Sept 27
Don't Blink - James Patterson (murder mystery) - finished Oct 8
Cross Fire - James Patterson (murder mystery) - finished Dec 4
The Narrows - Michael Connelly (murder mystery) - finished Dec 12




Muggle Studies - nearly any book works here; what better way to understand Muggles than to read what they read

Think Twice - Lisa Scottoline - finished April 2
Daughters of Eve - Lois Duncan - finished May 1
Exquisite Corpse - Poppy Z Brite - finished June 5
Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard - finished June 11
Princess Mia - Meg Cabot - finished June 30
Ice Cold - Tess Gerritsen - finished July 14
Damaged - Alex Kava - finished Aug 7
unSweetined - Jodie Sweetin -  finished Oct 26
Edge - Jeffery Deaver - finished Nov 23


Care of Magical Creatures - read any book that has magical or creatures in the title or is about supernatural creatures

The Fury - LJ Smith (vampires) - finished March 25
Dark Reunion - LJ Smith (vampires) - finished March 29
Blue Bloods - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires) - finished May 11
Masquerade - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires) -  finished September 10

Revelations - Melissa de la Cruz (vampires) - finished September 30
Wicked Appetite - Janet Evanovich (Unmentionables) - finished Oct 16
Fallen - Lauren Kate (angels) - finished Nov 14

Divination - read any book that has divine in the title; any book about psychics, psychic abilities, tarot reading, etc.

The Dark Divine - Bree Despain - finished April 12

Arithmancy - read any book that has arithmancy in the title, any book that has a number in the title or is about math/numbers

Sizzling Sixteen - Janet Evanovich - finished July 3

Friday, March 5, 2010

Courtesy of F Minus comics

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my step
The curl of my lips
I'm a woman phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me

-Maya Angelou