“What’s A-Happening Hot Stuff?”

I love that line from John Hughes classic, Sixteen Candles!  It’s so funny, awesome and can be used for so many things.  I used it as my title because I wanted to update you on what’s been happening this year so far.  First of all, how the hell did we get through the 00’s so fast and enter a whole new decade?  Crazy!! 

January has been good so far.  Every year starts well for me because the first day of it is always my birthday.  This year was the best birthday celebration yet!  On the 1st Hubby and I were joined by sixteen friends and family at Macaroni Grill for a nice dinner and then we had them all over to the house for dessert and games.  Hubby had asked me what I wanted my cake to be and I asked for cupcakes from my Martha Stewart Cupcake Book.  He made German Chocolate & Hummingbird Cupcakes and they were delish.  Half the group left by 9:00pm and the rest of us played Beatles Rockband (thanks Mom & Dad!) followed by Taboo.  That was hilarious! 

So to continue the birthday celebration, Hubby took me to Walt Disney World and on the Disney Cruise.  We had invited a ton of friends and family to meet us there and had sent out the flyer/invite in our Christmas cards two years ago but with the recession that didn’t really work out the way we had hoped.  We still had a very special time with those that were able to go, which were Hubby’s folks, his sis and her family and his bro’s family.  We missed my bro-in-law who due to his deployment wasn’t able to go with us.  We had a fabulous time playing our roles of aunt and uncle to our three nephews and two nieces.  What fun they are!  Except for the chilling temperatures in Orlando and the rain and cold weather on the Disney island Castaway Cay, we had a really great trip. 

Meanwhile, back at home, Rocky was at a pet retreat where his dermatitis wasn’t healing as we had hoped.  With the dry, freezing air here in the DC area this winter (except right now, with daytime temps in the low sixties) poor Rocky developed a deep dermatitis.  It is pretty nasty and on his chin and lower lips but seems to finally be healing a bit.  He is on a steroid, antibiotics, Benadryl, vitamins and a cooling gel to sooth the itch topically but to prevent him from scratching, you guessed it, he has to wear “the cone of shame.”  Poor Pooh Bear!  He’s been wearing it for a month now and has come to accept it.  Sometimes his sores bleed a little though and he has a disgusting habit of licking the inside of the cone, like he pulls his head back so he can lick the surface of plastic under his chin if we haven’t noticed the dried blood there and cleaned it first.  EEEWWWWW!!!!!!  I KNOW!  Here’s a pic of him from the other day when he was laying in the big chair in the sun.  It looks like he’s waiting for the artist to set up the easel and start to paint his nude portrait or something.  When I showed this pic to Hubby he almost teared up he was laughing so hard.  Rocky cracks us up!!

So, since returning from our trip I have had an awful cough and cold that unfortunately I passed on to Hubby and he’s in the midst of it now.  I have felt better for a few days now so I have been able to use my big Christmas present from Hubby.  My craft table from Potter Barn!!  Now I have longed for this particular piece of furniture for at least four years and I still can’t believe that it’s in our house and in my craft room now but it is.  I am sooooo LUCKY to have such a generous husband.  He checked in on my last night while I was making my thank you cards for my birthday gifts and he exclaimed, “You’ve got a craft room!”  It’s pretty cool.  Here are a couple of pics of it.  I love that I can just leave the room in the middle of working and not have to clean it up like I did when I used the kitchen table for card making and sewing when we lived in Memphis and Okinawa. 

Besides reading this year I will be working in here and happy as a clam about it.  Now I just have to finish arranging my office and the books on the shelves and I’ll be all set.  I might alphabetize my books by author.  Since I have so many it might make it nicer when looking for something.  Do you have your books in an order of some kind or are they just there waiting for you to pick then when looking for your next read?

I Haven’t Forgotten You

I know it seems like I have neglected Planet Books a bit but I promise you, I have a real reason.  I started a receptionist temp gig last Monday and it was a very tiring and quick week.  This is my first full-time job in four and a half years and my body was not ready for the long schedule.  I have been reading though.  I received an ARC of Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen and have been able to read some during the quiet times at the front desk as well as before drifting, actually crashing, off to sleep at 9:00pm every night.  The White Queen will be available in stores on Tuesday, August 18th.  So far I am really enjoying it! 

This weekend was a whirlwind.  Hubby and I started things off by checking out the house and wow, are things coming along.  The painters were in on Saturday to start painting, the fireplace and the granite surround and mantel were complete, and the cabinets were in their boxes in the dining room waiting to be installed today (Monday).  Things are moving so quickly and the end of the month will be here before we know it.  We just may be all settled in and enjoying our new house with all our stuff in it by mid-September!

Saturday night we went to the Dave Matthews Band concert at Nissan Pavilion along with twenty-five thousand other avid fans.  I had not seen DMB live in concert since 2002 and Hubby had never seen them before.  I was a little disappointed with the set list this time around.  I sat for half the show as did many people and I have never done that.  The tunes they chose to jam on were not the liveliest of songs so I felt bored at times.  Over all I’m glad we went but I felt like the show lacked a special joyful vibe that DMB’s live albums over the last couple of years have displayed.  It’s not because we are all getting older that DMB was more mellow.  I know that they can rock it out hard core at Fenway Park, The Gorge and numerous other venues which I have live recordings of.  Why not Saturday in Bristow, VA? 

Sunday marked the beginning of my new book club here in the D.C. area.  I am keeping with the same theme as my book club I ran in Okinawa which was titled “Lit & the Island.”  Here I have named it “Lit & the City” and everyone loves the name.  Our members include friends of mine from many different chapters of my life who I have discovered all love to read and discuss books.  We had a lovely “Meet & Eat” event yesterday at a tapas restaurant in Maryland and though only six of us out of thirteen were able to make it, it showed that at least five or so members will always make it to our “Books and Brunch” meetings.  We will meet every fifth Sunday at a restaurant of the book selector’s choice.  We will take turns choosing books/restaurants and that person will also be responsible for discussion questions and leading the conversation.  I presented our first reading selection and gave away a copy of the book to one lucky winner at the table.  We are reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister and everyone is very excited.  If you have read this book please share what you liked or didn’t like about it.

To wrap things up this weekend, Hubby and I saw “Julie & Julia.”  What a wonderful glimpse into the life of Julia and Paul Child!  I loved Meryl Streep’s portrayal of America’s first celebrity chef.  We laughed and drooled our way through the film.  Amy Adam’s did a great job of playing an annoying and whiny Julie Powell.  I read her book, Julie & Julia ~ My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which was based on her blog a few years ago and enjoyed it in the written word much better than on the silver screen.  I will give the book some credit though because it inspired me to cook for pleasure.  I do want to read Julia Child’s memoir now and have downloaded a sample of My Life In France so I can check it out when I have the time.

What have you been up to?  Reading anything good this week?  Did you see “Julie & Julia” or another film?  Please tell us!

December!? Where The Heck Did November Go?

Where the hell have I been?  I sure wasn’t present on this blog in the month of November now was I?  Sorry about that folks.  Between travel to the States for two weeks, computer problems and then WordPress problems, I just fell off the blogging wagon.  I am now making a pledge to post once a day this month so I can get back into the swing of things and catch you up on all I’ve been up to, all (not really) I’ve read, all I’ve baked and all I’ve been listening to recently. 

You may have noticed this new, obnoxious look for Planet Books too.  I used this design last Christmas and until WordPress.com comes up with a new Christmas design that I like better, this is the one I’ll be using.  I think it is very festive!  On Friday, Hubby and I decorated the house for Christmas and I must say it looks great.  At night we turn off the regular lights and sit in the mood lighting of the Christmas tree, candles, a small white Christmas tree on the piano and the Christmas lights woven throughout the rungs of the banister.  I love it and it just makes the house so unbelievably cozy. 


A couple of weeks ago I said that I would post pictures and stories from my trip to D.C. in November.  Well, those stories and pics will be coming soon.  They will help me write a post a day for the next week or so, so hang tight and check back soon.

To all of you Americans out there, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week and are getting excited about the holiday season as it is now upon us.  What are some of the things on your Christmas list this year?  Books?  Clothes?  Something big and outrageous or small and exquisite?  Please share your wishes with me.  I have asked for a personal digital recorder since a lot of my ideas for this blog come to me in the mornings while I’m laying in bed, waking up.  By the time I get up (talking instead of writing in the waking up state is much easier for me) and get to the computer, most of those clever thoughts have fled like the sleep from my eyes.  I also asked for the “Martha Stewart Cooking School Books ~ Lessons & Recipes for the Home.”  Those are just a couple of the items on my Christmas list this year.  We’ll see what arrives under the tree.

The Home Stretch

This visit home has been such a whirlwind of a time.  I have had so much fun reconnecting with old friends, visiting with family, meeting new people and doing too much shopping.  I have so many stories to tell and promise to have new posts up upon my return to Okinawa mid-week. 

I hope that you are having a lovely weekend and spending it with people you love.  The fall weather here in the D.C. area has been just lovely and the colors of the foliage will be deeply missed when I return to the land of no seasons and palm trees. 

See ya on the flip side!!

Talking Books at 37000 ft

I’m eight and a half hours into my eleven and a half hour flight from Tokyo to D.C.  I have every form of entertainment, minus a computer and the blessed Internet, with me to help pass the time but I’m having trouble focusing on one activity at a time.  My carry-on contains an iPod loaded with TV shows, movies, audiobooks, podcasts and 9666 songs (yes you read that correctly, 9666 songs).  It’s an 80 GB iPod and with all that stuff on there I still have 23.5 GB of free space.  CRAZY!  So I have that, my DS Lite plus five video games; The NY Times Crossword Puzzles, Brain Age 2 with Sudoku, Super Mario Bros., Lego Star Wars and Dr. Mario; O Magazine, People Magazine (thanks Sandy!), this notebook and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

Of course I had grandiose ideas of reading along to the audiobook of The Gargoyle, but that hasn’t happened yet.  I still have four hours to go though.  We are currently over Canada, just south of Great Bear Lake and coming up on Edmonton, according to the in-flight map.  The sun is coming up over the horizon, or actually the plan is coming up over the horizon. 

My seat neighbor is a lovely woman from Taipei, Taiwan.  She is on her way to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she lives due to her job.  I don’t feel as full of self pity about my long flight after learning about her itinerary.  Taipei to Tokyo (3 hours), Tokyo to D.C. (11.5 hours), a six hour layover at Dulles Airport followed by the final leg of her trip, D.C. to Buenos Aries (10 hours).  Yikes!

So my new friend is reading Ten Thousand Suns.  Her copy is a translated edition in Chinese.  It’s about the same length as in English at about 385 pages and has a gorgeous cover.  It’s so cool to see the pages covered in Chinese characters and her reading it, what seems to us as back to front.  We talked about the story a bit.  Though I haven’t read it yet, it’s sitting on my shelves at home in Okinawa with a ton of others, I’m still familiar with the story.  My neighbors English name is Josephine and she was talking about the unfathomable conditions that women live in in Afghanistan.  That “…they are treated worse than dogs…” and that she could “…not imagine living a life like the women in this book live.”  I agreed with her but told her that I have friends in the U.S. Marine Corps who have deployed to Afghanistan and were extremely moved by the people they encountered there.  Some even talked about returning for future deployments just to be able to help the great people of that war torn country.  Keep in mind that Ten Thousand Suns takes place over thirty or so years and under Taliban influence/terror. 

It is so cool to talk about a book that has reached across the languages of the world to share one story.  To sit here and talk with Josephine about a book I have read about endlessly on your book blogs and to connect with someone who is as entranced by the book she is reading as you and I are with the books we read.  

Well, I had better try to get a little shut eye before breakfast is served.  I wonder what crazy, non-food-like concoction they will be serving us?  Dinner was a scary beef and gravy dish.  Thank goodness I packed “Uncrustables”, brownies, pumpkin bread muffins, baby carrots and granola bars, or I would be starving right now.

Through The Worm Hole

Well, I’m here in Northern Virginia, and I can’t believe that I live in Japan.  It’s so hard to grasp that sometimes.  Having a life on two continents; friends, things to do, places to be and even doctors appointments.  (I’m getting my knee checked out this Friday to see what is going on in there.)

I wrote a blog post while I was on my eleven and a half hour flight from Tokyo to Washington Dulles, but I left it upstairs, so I will work on getting that typed up and posted later this week.  Are you doing anything out of the ordinary this week?  Reading any good books?  Do you have anything to recommend I look for when I’m on sensory overload at B&N and Borders these next two weeks?  Oh, BTW, I asked the hubby for an Amazon Kindle for my birthday in January.  I’ve wanted one since it was first introduced in 2007 but after seeing Oprah on Friday, yes Oprah, I decided that I must have one.