Tuesday Treasure Trove  November 24, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

I learned to bake yeast-based bread this weekend, and it might have been a life-changing experience. I can make Italian herb focaccia bread from scratch, guys, and it’s DELICIOUS! I also learned to make classic dinner rolls, but we froze that dough to use on Thanksgiving, so I don’t actually know how those turned out yet. That focaccia bread, though… man. It might be worth it to buy a stand mixer just so I can make that every day. Serious noms.

I’ve also started my Christmas shopping, so yay that. I hate doing that last minute, so usually start in Oct/Nov. I sent out my wishlist to fam, too, so they can take advantage of any Black Friday sales, because I’m considerate like that. 😀

Other than that, it’s actually been colder here recently. We even had freezing temps last night. Our brief Texas autumn is quickly turning into Texas winter.

What’s your favorite from-scratch thing to make? Any big plans for T-day?

Book Review: Thorn  November 23, 2015


by Intisar Khanani.

ThornPrincess Alyrra does not have a charmed life. Abused by her family and ignored by the court, her only solace is in her friendships with the servants, and the mysterious Wind that talks to her. When her mother announces she’s to be married off to a neighboring prince, she’s filled with dread. Everything familiar will be gone, she doesn’t know the language of her new country and for all she knows the prince will be just as cruel as her family. When a spell is cast on her during the journey that steals her identity, she is thrilled to be able to start a new life of her own choosing, away from royal politics. She happily accepts a job as a lowly goose girl, and tries to forget her former life. But of course it’s not that simple. The prince is not what she expected, the woman who has assumed her identity is a monster, and building a life in her new country means she comes to care about what happens to it. She has to choose between living in peaceful anonymity or fighting for her rightful place where she can do some good.

This was a pleasant surprise. It’s a fairy tale retelling, but the tale it is based off of (The Goose Girl) was not one I was familiar with beforehand, so it read as something completely new for me. And I liked it! I definitely still got the flavor of a fairy tale, but didn’t have any expectations of how the story should go, and could just enjoy it. It’s got familiar fairy tale tropes, but also an edge of realism in the daily details and interactions. I was not surprised by the ending, but that didn’t detract from enjoying the story to get to it. It’s got some funny moments, and a heartbreaking one. The romance, while present, does not take center stage, which is refreshing in a YA-level read. Alyrra is relatable and likeable, and really draws one into the story. The part near the end with the source of the magic revealed and explored was not as compelling or convincing for me. But overall, I still really liked it.

If you are also a fan of fresh fairy tale retellings, give this a try.

I give it 4/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday Treasure Trove  November 17, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

Not much to say today. On a personal level, I had a pretty good weekend. Helped celebrate a good friend’s birthday over drinks and James Bond; went on a nice dinner date with the hubs; had plenty of time to curl up and read and watch some Netflix and soak up puppy cuddles. It was good.

The same cannot be said for other people around the world; particularly in Paris, but certainly not limited to there. I haven’t overtly said anything about recent events on social media, because what is there to say? I don’t have any earth-shattering ideas about how to prevent things like this in the future. It’s all been said, it’s all been hashed over. There is, so far, no good answer. I’m not so filled with hate I have to spew it online, nor do I really have any hope that situations like these are going away anytime soon. The locale changes, but can you at this point remember the last time we had a week go by without a bombing or public shooting somewhere in the world? Even if you restrict it to the US; I read a stat yesterday: we’ve had 319 days in 2015 so far, and 325 mass shootings. More than 1 per day. It’s a sad commentary on the state of humanity that this is our new normal.

*sigh* I don’t understand it, and I don’t have an answer.

Tell me something good that has happened to you recently.

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown  November 13, 2015

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)

by Zen Cho.

Sorcerer to the Crown What do you get if you mix 1 part Jane Austen style, 1 part historical fiction, 1 part mystery, a whole lot of magic, and a dash of playful absurdity à la Gail Carriger? This fun book.

Sorcerer to the Crown tells the story of Zacharias Wythe, the Sorcerer Royal, tasked with the upkeep and oversight of England’s magic: practices, practitioners, and general levels. He’s new to the job and already has a few things against him. 1) He’s an emancipated slave in a world of white men. 2) He inherited the job under rather suspicious circumstances. 3) There’s something funny going on with magic levels in England. 4) He’s got some unorthodox (and unpopular) ideas about how magic should be done in England. and 5) Being more comfortable with solitude, his political and diplomatic skills leave something to be desired. All of this added together creates a bit of an untenable situation, painting a target on his back. When Zacharias also stumbles upon an unusual woman with gifts and powers that English magical tradition says shouldn’t exist, it sets him firmly on the path to shake up magical practice in England. The outcome and consequences may prove far more wide-reaching.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The dry wit and banter-y tone throughout had me chuckling out loud sometimes. It was a bit slow to get started, and very predictable in certain aspects, but it also threw in surprises in other areas. The two main characters, Zacharias and Prunella, are well-done and engaging. And there are just so many hints and flavors of of other classic books and characters in here, but combined in a fresh way, that, again, it was just a fun read. The ending, alas, is one of the things that was most predictable, but I am still looking forward to seeing where things go in book 2.

If you want to see what might have happened if Jane Austen had written a fantasy-mystery-adventure, you might want to give this a try. :)

I give it 4/5 stars.

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Sorcerer to the Crown

Finally Hitched: Wedding Pictures!!  November 11, 2015

Guerassio-Cobb Wedding

Not quite 2 months ago, Ian and I finally tied the knot! 😄 We were married at Villa Antonia here in northwest Austin hill country. After having nervously watched the weather for two weeks, September 20th dawned bright and beautiful. We had gorgeous weather that somehow managed to also not be too hot for the non-Texans attending. Our ceremony was outdoors under an arch, overlooking the rolling hills. Our reception was indoors in a lovely space that included a stage and built-in bar. Both were the perfect size for our relatively small wedding of 65 people.

Ian and I were both super nervous right before the ceremony, as we had written our own vows and were going to attempt to say them from memory. We both had notecards in our pockets in case of emergency, and the officiant had a copy, too, but they ended up not being needed. And once the ceremony was over, we were able to relax and just have fun. Our lovely flower girl, Sienna, was quite well behaved the whole time, too! Aside from eating a few rose petals down the aisle.

The reception was the usual stuff: food, drinks, cake cutting, toasts. We had an open bar, and the menu included two wines that Ian and I had home-brewed. Background music was two acoustic guitarists, who did an amazing job. We didn’t have any dancing, since neither of us really like dancing and we knew if we had it we’d have to. So instead we had a newlywed trivia game, where we sat back to back and had to answers questions like “Who has the crazier family?” without being able to see what the other answered. Guests could submit questions beforehand when they RSVP’d and at the guest book table, and it ended up being pretty entertaining. We also did a bouquet toss and garter toss, and both Ian and I had to throw twice as his didn’t make it the group and mine hit the ceiling the first time.

And now, without further ado: the pictures! I know there are a lot, but this is seriously as much as I could narrow down. You should see the Facebook album.

Click to view bigger.

The Day

Our wedding colors were aubergine purple, light sage green, and silver. I designed all of the paper goods myself, from the invites to the table numbers to the signage. And had a blast doing that, if I’m honest – my inner paper aficionado got to geek out a lot.

The Details

You know I had to sneak dragons in there somehow. Fun fact: the big wooden doors we were announced through for the reception? The handles are also dragons, which I didn’t realize until about 10 seconds before we were announced, when Ian pointed it out. 😀

Overall, it was a beautiful day and went mostly smoothly. Our venue had a day-of coordinator that handled all of the vendors and little details, which made things SO MUCH LESS STRESSFUL. Seriously, she was awesome. Shout out to Ms. Chris! We are both so happy with how the day went, and thinking back on it makes me smile. Which is what you want for your wedding day!

Are you married? What was your wedding like?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  November 10, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

I hope you got your fill of honeymoon recap pictures over the last two weeks, because tomorrow I have something even more awesome: wedding pictures! We finally got them back from our photographers, so I am going on a sharing frenzy. Stop by tomorrow if you want to see!

Other than that, just getting work stuff up and running and back to normal. I’ve got a couple of networking things this week, and a workshop. Then some fun plans for a friend’s birthday on Friday!

What are you up to this week?