Honeymoon Recap: Art  November 7, 2015

Warning! Possibly NSFW, lots of artwork with classical nudes coming up.

I am a designer, with a pretty good studio arts and art history background, so it’s no wonder I like to visit art museums. The surprise is that Ian, a very math-and-logic engineer type, LOVES art museums. So of course, on his first ever trip to Europe for our honeymoon, we had to fit in some of the art heavy hitters: the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the Louvre Museum in Paris. There of course is art everywhere over there, but here are some highlights. Again, lots of pictures, so more info in captions, and click to view bigger versions.

Other honeymoon photo round-ups: Food, and Scenery.


Have you ever gotten to see one of your favorite pieces of art in person?

Book Review: Hunter  November 5, 2015

Hunter (Hunter #1)

by Mercedes Lackey.

Hunter Imagine if the separation between fiction and reality wavered, and terrible things from myth and legend and imagination suddenly came to life. This is the setup of the world of Hunter, which is our world several centuries in the future after just such an event occurs. Humans live behind their walls, constantly fighting off attacks from the creatures of the Otherworld. Joy is a Hunter, trained since childhood to fight these creatures. When she is summoned to join the ranks of the country’s best Hunters in the capital city, she quickly learns not all is as it seems- both with politics and with the Otherworld activity.

I enjoyed this. It’s a mix of adventure, fantasy, mystery, and just the beginning dashes of romance. I liked that some of the names and geography of the world was similar enough to be recognizable, but that it had morphed enough to be believable as the distant future. I especially liked the mix of elements from mythology and folklore that made up the Otherworld hordes. It does seem kind of hodge-podge at first, but given the weight of one of Joy’s first encounters it becomes clear there’s a driving force (or rather, persona) behind all of the multitudes.

I saw a review of this book where the reader thought this was trying to be just another Hunger Games. I have to disagree. There are some surface similarities: the main female character comes from the boondocks into the city, televised fighting to distract the general populace. But that’s where it ends. For one thing, Joy has an actual legit job to do: fighting off incursions of things from the Otherworld. The fact that the government televises censored versions of their work is a by-product, not the main point. And while there seems to be a faction in the government that wants to eliminate Joy, there is no one central tyrannical figure like in the Hunger Games. In fact, based on this first book, the biggest opposition Joy is going to face isn’t even human.

Overall, this is a good read, and I’m looking forward to book #2. If you like action-adventure with a dash of myth and a welcome break from the usual YA romance tropes, definitely 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 3, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

November! Man, 2015 has really flown by. I can’t tell if it was because of the wedding planning, or just the whole ‘that happens as you get older’ thing or what, but seriously- it went by in a blink.

Halloween was good. We had 2 costume parties to attend, both fun in their own ways. Our first couples costume as married people was as Green Arrow and Felicity Smoak from the TV show Arrow. You can see Instagram proof here. On a related note, I can now advise on the best spray-on temporary hair color if you want to go from brunette to blond for a day. 😀

Other than that, still going through all of the name change rigamarole, and getting the Studio off the ground. Speaking of, if you know a business owner in the lifestyle sector who needs design services (and has a realistic grasp of budget), send them my way?

How was your Halloween? Did you dress up, and if so what as?

Honeymoon Recap: Scenery  November 2, 2015

Ok, the scenery is by far the biggest category in my honeymoon photo recap series (if you missed Food, it’s here.). So I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking. There are captions on each one if you mouse over, and clicking will open up a lightbox viewer.

Have you ever been to Europe? What’s your favorite place?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  October 27, 2015

Tuesday Treasure Trove

Things of Note:

Woo, I am rocking this back to blogging business! It’s amazing what actually having some free time can do for you. My birthday was good. Low key, and it rained all weekend, but I got to spend it with the hubs and assorted other good people. Plus there was steak, which is always a highlight. Except then I had a pain-in-my-abdomen-is-this-appendicitis scare on Sunday, which was less fun. It eventually went away and I still don’t know what that was about, but it’s all good now.

I did a test run of my Halloween costume last night (particularly the Doing Things to Hair bit, which I’m never good at), and I’m pretty excited about it. Come at me, Halloween, I can take you! If people at the two parties we’re going to don’t get who I am (esp. in relation to Ian’s costume), I shall have to write them off as not Nerd enough. Remind me to take pictures, internet, so I can share with you next week.

What are your Halloween plans? Are you doing a costume?

Honeymoon Recap: Food  October 26, 2015

I wanted to share some honeymoon photos with you guys, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. We visited 5 different cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice and Paris), and did day trips to half a dozen more, so breaking it up by place would mean a LOT of blog posts. We also took about 1500 pictures, so trying to do it in one post clearly wasn’t going to work. I finally settled on just sharing some highlights of our three favorite things: the food, the art, and the scenery. Today is the food. Apologies in advance if it makes you hungry. :)

Here’s some pictures, you can click to embiggen:

Italy was our happy place for food. We were actually pretty bad about taking pictures of our Italian meals. We had a lot of amazing pasta. In fact, throughout all of Italy, we only had one bad meal, and that was a lunch provided by one of our day tours where we didn’t have a choice. Even the meals we cooked from groceries were good! Our two absolute favorite things in Italy eating were 1) the wine tasting lunch included on our day tour through Tuscany. It was at an organic wine estate and farm. We got to try 4 different wines (including Chianti!) and the pasta was handmade, and it was just absolutely delicious all around. 2) Gelato. All of the gelato. One of our stops on the Tuscany day tour was San Gimignano, which unbeknownst to us beforehand is home to a gelateria that has won a World Champion title twice. Of course we had to try that out!

In France, the food was still good, but was a lot richer, so became a bit much after a day or so. Their pastry game is strong, though! I ate my weight in pain au chocolate, which somehow I did not get a picture of me eating even though I had a million. We also had the unexpected pleasure of experiencing Paris’ ‘leading weekend brunch’ (according to their website, which I looked up afterwards). We were wandering around after dropping off our bags at the hotel, since we couldn’t check in yet. We pretty much went into the first place we came across that looked promising. They told us they were only serving the brunch menu and asked if that was ok. We said sure, and sat down. Then they brought us the brunch menu, at which point we realized this was a much fancier place than assumed. Most expensive meal of the whole trip! But well worth it.

We also had signed up for a 3-course Provencal cooking class in Nice. It was interesting, and the food we ended up with was tasty for the most part, but it wasn’t much of a cooking class. It was more just a ‘chop all of this’ type class, and not so much cooking (we didn’t touch the stove or oven once). They didn’t provide copies of the recipes, either, so we unfortunately can’t duplicate the dishes we did like. But it was an experience!

Our day trip to Bruges netted some fun foodie bits, too. We tried some traditional Belgian dishes for lunch- mussels & beer for him, the regional beef ‘stew’ for me. Then we gorged on some Belgian waffles, and visited a chocolate shop to pick out our stash of Belgian chocolate to bring back home.

Overall, I think we have never eaten so well in our lives. It was a lot of good, quality food, and I feel guilty now back home when we happen to get fast food.

What has been your favorite foodie experience while traveling?