Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday Night Field Trip

Welcome to Friday Night Field Trip!
FNFT is a weekly feature that highlights our experiences exploring our new surroundings in California.

Our friends, Steven and Taylor, invited us to a great comedy club a few weeks ago, since then we have made a Friday Night routine of grabbing dinner at Cafe 50's and catching a show (or two) at LA Connection in Sherman Oaks, CA. I look forward to this outing all week long, especially since I started teaching summer school.

Cafe 50's is located at 4609 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

They have the BEST milkshakes! So far, between all of us we've only tried Vanilla, Chocolate, Rocky Road, and Key Lime...but we are trying to make our way through the 30+ flavors they serve up.

Taylor, Steven, Carl, Me

LA Connection is located at 13442 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

Tickets are only $10 and well worth it! If you go for the 9 PM show you can stay for the 10:30 PM Show for free!

We always catch the 9PM show which is called 'Stranger Than Fiction'. The cast includes Chad Winkles, Zeke Thomas, Lisa Lovelace Squires, Tyler Jolley, Dallas James, Natalie Howe, Karen Brundage, Lindsay Bellock. Check them out at

I forget what this sketch is called, but after asking for a verb and a noun, two "hosts" broadcast the event played out by 3 contestants...usually in slow motion.

The funniest part (I think) is when the cast asks the audience for a verb or noun and then have to explain what a verb and a noun are before anyone will yell something out.

This sketch is called 'Slide Show'. In this sketch 2 narrating cast members show the audience their slide show from a recent vacation...lights go out, the cast gets into position, lights come back on, and then the narrators have to explain what the heck was going on in the "photo".

After the Stranger than Fiction show I got a photo with some of the cast. (From Left to right: Karen, Dallas, Me, Chad, Zeke)

This week we stayed for the 10:30 PM show called 'In Rare Form'. Sometimes the show calls for a little audience participation and of course, I like to participate! All I remember from this sketch is that I laughed almost the entire time after realizing I had her standing in the same position for the majority of the sketch.

Well, I will be teaching summer school for another week and then I'm off for 4 weeks. Hopefully Carl will get some time off (even if it's on the weekends) so that we can explore some more. We would like to make it to San Fransisco before the summer is gone, but we will have to wait and see.

Thanks for reading, hope you all have a good week!

5th (and Final) Book Review for The Tudor Mania Challenge at The Burton Review

The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards by Philippa Jones
The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards
Summary: In The Other Tudors, Philippa Jones uncovers the intrigues behind Henry’s many love affairs and illuminates the tumultuous lives of his many illegitimate offspring, whose paths often entwined with those of their royal siblings, Edward, May, and Elizabeth Tudor. ***I usually write my own summary, but this one from the book jacket was much better than what I had come up with.

My Thoughts: Good book. I usually don’t enjoy fiction as much as non-fiction, but The Other Tudors was a fairly easier read than The Tudor Queens of England. The best feature was that each chapter was proceeded by a family tree for the person highlighted in the chapter which made it much easier to follow…and I didn’t have to make my own this time! It weaved both facts and some hearsay together to paint a relatively complete and accurate portrait of Henry’s lusty appetite for love. The author actually tried to make the point that Henry was not just searching for a bedmate, but was looking for love. The boldest statement made in the book was the revelation that Henry was so beloved by his mother that he always compared women to her and the love that he received from her. It is obvious that he never truly found that same connection with his wives and that his only true love that came close was his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

The most popular and most written about mistresses are covered including Mary Boleyn, Bessie Blount, Anne Boleyn, Anne Hastings, Margaret Shelton, Jane Seymour, Anne Bassett, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Again, the author cannot pin point the exact birth order of the Boleyn girls. It did however debate within itself if Mary or Anne were the more “sluttish” of the two during their stay in France. Philippa Jones makes a good attempt at using actual documentation to show that neither of them were really bed hoppers at all and that had they been, the king would not have been as interested. I enjoyed comparing what I thought I already knew about the girls from previous historical non-fiction to what was layed out here. For instance, the time between Mary and Anne’s affair with the king was quite lengthy (she suggests 2-3 years) which is much different that how it has been portrayed by Philippa Gregory’s version in The Other Boleyn Girl. It almost makes me feel like their family wasn’t as plotting, trying to shove one daughter under the king as the other lay in labor.

Some of the other mistresses whom have not been as popular with writers (that I have read so far) included Elizabeth Denton, Jane Pollard, Mary Berkeley, and Joanna Dingley. Although there are no records of the affair between Denton and Henry, she is on record as having received larger than usual sums of pay for her services. It was speculated that she was paid higher because she performed additional duties for the King outside her position at court and that she had been chosen (either by Henry or by persons around him) because she was married and knew her way around the bed and could help “break in”, so to speak, the new King.

The Other Tudors also covered the bastards (and possible bastards) that came from Henry’s promiscuity and included Henry Fitzroy, Henry Carey, Thomas Stukeley, John Perrot, and Etheldreda Malte. I found the chapter on Sir Henry Carey, son of May Boleyn, to be the most informational. As one of the kings known mistresses to have a bastard son, I had not read very much on him and did not know that he went on the serve his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Henry Fitzroy, I think, often got all the attention of the bastard sons.

The entire last chapter is dedicated to the “rumored” mistresses and bastards and I found it quite enjoyable to read. This book would be a good reference or jumping off point for an author who wanted to attempt writing about one of the lesser known mistresses or bastards.

Next on my reading list? I just picked up The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes. I haven’t read anything by her before so this should be (hopefully) a new perspective for me. I was trying to get it read in time for The Tudor Mania Challenge, but I just didn’t make it. I think this next one might be the last Tudor related read for me for a while…I need a break. I am switching gears after this and returning to another place and time to read about the Holocaust. I picked up Day and Dawn by Elie Wiesel.

Day: A NovelDawnThe Tudor Rose: The Story of the Queen Who United a Kingdom and Birthed a Dynasty

Thank you again for stopping by and reading my blog. Please check out my give-a-way for a Swarovski Crystal Necklace and Earring set at

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swarovski Crystal Necklace and Earring Set GIVE-A-WAY

My First GIVE-A-WAY!!!!

Since I started blogging and following blogs, I have been fortunate enough to win a few give-a-ways myself, so I thought it was time to hold a give-a-way of my own. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but then I remembered something...

A few months ago the school that I work for held a Silent Auction to benefit the Parent Teacher Association which helps support the programs at our school. They had a tremendous amount of Gift Baskets that were assembled with an abundance of donations from the community, parents, students, and teachers. I had the chance to browse the selection early in the evening and made several bids. At the end of the night I found out that my bid had won for this Handmade Swarovski Crystal Necklace and Earring Set Basket. I also found out at the same time that my bid had surpassed the Dean of the School's bid on this basket....thankfully she wasn't too upset and was happy to see the teachers supporting the Silent Auction too. I actually don't even wear jewelery (except my wedding ring), I was just trying to support my school.

So, as a 'Thank You' to my readers, I am passing on my good fortune.

According to the tag on the Silent Auction Basket this is a Handmade Swarovski Crystal Necklace and Earring Set valued at $90.00.

Earn "tickets" towards the give-a-way by completing the following:

1 ticket for following my blog
+1 ticket for leaving a comment on this post
+1 ticket for each comment you leave on ANY of my previous posts
+1 ticket for each friend you refer who then becomes a follower and leaves me a comment (tell your friend to mention your name in their comment)
+1 ticket for posting this give-a-way on your sidebar

GIVE-A-WAY Ends August 12th

If you have any questions please e-mail me at

Thank You for visiting my blog, I really enjoy writing  and living it and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

His and Her Dinner #5

Welcome back for another edition of

‘His and Her’ Diner is a weekly feature that highlights my culinary skills and my outstanding wifely abilities to please the very picky eater I call my husband! At least once a week I attempt to make a meal that will satisfy our very different tastes by making 2 dishes out of the same base ingredients. Enjoy!

This week I wanted to show you a glimpse at how I prepare ‘His and Her’ Dinner. Our kitchen is very small and has limited counter space (Another reason why we don’t have a microwave, no room). As you can see below, the kitchen is “split”. On one side are the refrigerator, sink, and stove. The cabinets above the sink hold all of our dishes. The only counter space on that side of the kitchen is almost unusable because it’s in the corner and hard to reach, especially if I’m using the stove. Across the room is another set of cabinets where we store our dry grocery goods above and our pots and pans below the additional counter space.

Here I am preparing the chicken. I have a little phobia when it comes to raw chicken. I put paper towels under the board so that it doesn’t slip around and under the package of chicken so it doesn’t touch the counter. After I cut the chicken up I then proceed to wash my hands repeatedly…kind of OCD.

When we first moved to California, all of our pots and pans were packed up and in North Carolina waiting to be shipped out to us. The first few months before our stuff arrived we bought 1 pot and 1 pan to cook with, and I can’t tell you how hard it is to prepare a meal with limited kitchenware. It is so nice having a variety of sizes of pots and pans to choose from and to be able to use all of them at once if I want. I typically use 2-3 at a time depending on what I’m making, but on ‘His and Her’ Dinner nights, I tend to have to use 4 as you can see.

Now, for the main feature!

His: Grilled Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce and Fried Rice (Rice-A-Roni)

Her: Grilled Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce topped with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese, Fried Rice, and Broccoli

(I put my food on 2 separate plates because I don't like certain food to touch.)
I tried a little sneaky trick tonight…but it kind of backfired on me. In order to make the lemon butter sauce I added a “small” amount of goat cheese to help thicken it up. Thankfully, Carl was in the living room and did not see this or he would not have eaten it. After he cleaned every bite off his plate and assured me that he liked the sauce I confessed that I had put goat cheese in it. BIG MISTAKE! I spoke to soon and should have waited until he ate the sauce a few more times before making the confession. He said he wont be able to eat it again, it’s a psychological thing. Oh well, lesson learned.

Thanks for visiting and until next week, Happy Eating!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CSN Store Shopping Results

Shopping has been completed and the goodies have been delivered!

Thanks again to Amy at

for the great give-a-way of $100 Gift Card to

I spent a few weeks browsing the CSN Store website and thinking about what I really wanted. Although I was tempted to buy a new purse or shoes, I just kept going back to the 'School' section. There aren't any teacher stores like Education Express where I live and I had been having a hard time finding materials for my classroom. (Yes, I spend my personal money on my classroom and students because they are in NEED and I am not.)

I was VERY EXCITED when I found a section under 'School' that had over 40 different types of pocket charts. Pocket charts are made of durable colored vinyl with clear plastic pockets that can hold various cards and such. I had been searching for one to display my daily classroom schedule but I couldn't find one with the number of pockets that I needed. However, I found the perfect one at CSN Store.

This pocket chart has 14 clear pockets and included 14 blank schedule strips that I can customize. In my classroom we have 13 "time chunks" which leaves me enough room to make a title card too.

This pocket chart can hold 12 folders, which is perfect since I have 12 students! Some of my students are able to compete "folder work" such a worksheets and I will keep their work in their folder. For my students who can not complete "folder work" and require more tangible/ manipulitive activities I will be keeping their data sheets in the folders. Either way, this pocket chart will help keep me organized!

Last, but certainly not least, I bought 9 of these small 3-ring binders. This size binder is perfect for my students to use as 'Communication Books'. They look plain now, but by the time I add all the inserts, pictures, and velcoo, they will be very useful in my classroom by giving my students a method of communication. Plus, these binders are super sturdy and durable, so my students can throw them, chew them, bite them...whatever they come up with and the binder will survive.

There were a million other items that I would LOVE to buy for my classroom, but now that I know where I can get them, I will definatly be a repeat customer at CSN Stores.

Thanks again to Amy at Passages to the Past and CSN Stores!

(PS. I know I am a teacher, but I still rely on Spell Check, but it appears that it is broken right now, so I am sorry if I have mis-spelled some things...)

Monday, July 19, 2010

His and Her Dinner #4

Welcome back for another edition of...

A weekly feature that highlights my culinary skills and my outstanding wifely abilities to please the very picky eater I call my husband! Usually I create 2 meals using the same base ingredient, but this week was a little different.

As I have mentioned before, Carl and I often find ourselves declaring “Fend For Yourself” night when we can’t agree on what to eat for dinner and we each grab whatever we want from the fridge or cabinet. The result of “Fend for Yourself” night often results in Carl eating a potato chip sandwich (I will explain this later) and me usually eating cheese and crackers followed by ice cream. I always keep cheese and ice cream in the house; thank goodness I’m not lactose intolerant.

Well, last night Carl got home from work late (see below) and we declared ‘Fend for Yourself’. As I’m telling him all about my day he’s in the kitchen preparing his dinner. He gets out a bag of sandwich rolls from the freezer and wraps 2 of them in a paper towel and leaves them on the counter and sits on the couch to listen to me… which makes him an excellent husband. I asked him what he was doing with the rolls and he said he was letting them thaw. A few minutes later he goes back to the kitchen and grabs the hair dryer that is on the counter. (side note: the hair dryer is on the kitchen counter because our A/C is set at 75 and is locked so we cant change it…but if we blow the hair dryer on the thermostat that is in the kitchen then it triggers the A/C to come on!) Anyway, I then asked Carl what he was doing and he said, “thawing out my rolls” and proceeds to do the following:

If your asking yourself why he’s using the hair dryer instead of the microwave…the answer is- we don’t own a microwave. Our microwave broke last year and since we were getting ready to move we figured we would get a new one once we got settled in our new place…but 12 months later we still haven’t gotten one. We have actually done just fine with out one and have decided not to get a microwave…even though the picture above suggests that it would be helpful every once in awhile.

Okay, back to ‘His and Her Dinner’

Carl recently returned to his job at Burman Studio after a short season break. What this means is that he will be working long hours, often until 9-10 at night or later. That also means that we won’t be able to have dinner together as often. However, being the excellent wife that I am, I come home from teaching all day, cook him a dinner and then bring it to him at work. I am a devoted wife…or crazy, one of the two.

So this weeks feature is one of those times when I served as cook and delivery driver.

His: Pepper Steak tossed with Soy Sauce Rice

Her: Cheese Tortellini in Basil Pesto Alfredo

So, there you have it folks...His and Her Dinner. What do you think?

*Potato chip sandwiches consist of two pieces of bread or roll, spread with cream cheese, and layered with potato chips. The bread has to be super fresh. The cream cheese has to be Philadelphia. The chips have to be Lays Plain or Salt and Vinegar. That is a “proper” sandwich. And no, I do not eat them!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fear NOT!

I know, I missed 2 weeks worth of 'His and Her Dinner' as well as Friday Night Field Trip just one week after I started it! Fear NOT, I am just having Internet issues right now and I have been forced to go to the library (or work...shh it's our secret) to use the Internet. The good news about going to the library is that I picked up 2 more books to read! I also went to Barnes and Noble and found another great Tudor book, and the best part was... it was on clearance!

I have alot  to post about when my home Internet gets back up and running including several funny 'His and Her Dinner' posts, and a few more book reviews for the Tudor Mania Challenge. I have decided that when the TMC is over I'm going to try a different era in Historical Fiction...even though I'm not 'Tudor'd out yet'. Or I may try something off the "beach reading" table from Barnes...who knows?!

I am also 2 days in to teaching summer school (ESY), so my days have become jam packed with things to do. Keep on following and I will catch up soon. I am also planning my first give-a-way stay tuned!

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th Book Review for the Tudor Mania Challenge at The Burton Review

The White Queen: A Novel (Cousins' War)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Summary: The White Queen follows Elizabeth Woodville through her journey from a Lancastrian country widow to becoming the Queen of England under the House of York and then back to widow again. Elizabeth, a descendant of the water goddess Melusina, uses her ambition, beauty, and magical intuitions and abilities to navigate her way through the dangerous Wars of the Roses as she watches cousins fight cousins and brothers fight brothers.

DISCLAIMER: My first experience with reading historical fiction was with Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. I therefore have a slight bias (positive) for anything written by her. I have read all of her Tudor Court novels with the exception of The Other Queen.

My thoughts: I attempted to start reading The White Queen about a month ago right after reading To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell. However, after the unflattering portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville in that novel, I was a little turned off to read any more about her. I was actually trying to read Bloody Mary by Carolly Erickson next, but after several days I just couldn’t get into that book-it’s very dense. So, I browsed my small collection of books and decided to give the story of Elizabeth Woodville another try and I am very glad that I did!

I was unsure of how Elizabeth Woodville fit into the Tudor dynasty but after a quick review I realized that she became Lady Mother, Mother to the Queen of England, when her daughter Elizabeth of York married Henry VII. She then also became grandmother to Henry VIII. However, the story The White Queen starts before she gained any of those titles.

Philippa Gregory begins the story with an extended version of a rumor about how Elizabeth Woodville met Edward IV. After the widow Elizabeth meets Edward on the street as a simple country women asking for the rights to her dead husbands land, he then begins to pursue her. The rumor in which Philippa Gregory elaborates on is one in which Elizabeth and Edward meet in secret and after she refuses to be taken by force by Edward she draws his own dagger on him in self defense. After thinking she has ruined her chances with the new King and any favor he may give her, a little guidance from her enchanted mother leads Edward back to her and leads them into a secret marriage.

Through out the first part of the novel I couldn’t help but begin to like Elizabeth Woodville. I understand why David Loades listed her as ‘Queen as Lover’ in The Tudor Queens of England. It is obvious that Edward and Elizabeth were truly in love, but with the element of magic thrown into the mix I did have to wonder if their love was made by a spell. I also developed a strong liking for Elizabeth’s brother, Anthony, who becomes Lord Rivers. For some reason, I never knew the real story behind George, Duke of Clarence and had been under the impression that he was killed by his brother out of spite, but according to Philippa Gregory’s version he was a true traitor and turncoat and I have no sympathy for him now.

It’s not until Elizabeth enters sanctuary after the death of her husband that her ambition gets the better of her and her reputation and my opinion of her starts to falter. (I did not think less of her for trying to advance her family while she was Queen). This is also the fist time in the book that her daughter, Elizabeth of York, comes into play.

I have to admit that the best part of this book occurs while they are in sanctuary. The enchantments that she possesses comes into play and the story claims that it was Elizabeth and her mother, Jacquetta, that blow up the storm that keeps Henry Tudor from landing in England. It also claims that it was Elizabeth who curses King Richards sword arm which later fails him. SPOILER ALERT: My favorite part of the story, which Gregory admits is complete fiction, is the changing out of her son Richard for a pageboy. This would have been a great scheme and could have worked in that time. It could have possibly been a great history changer if it had actually happened…and in my opinion, Elizabeth may have actually done this but I imagine that her son Richard may have died of Plague or some other illness of the time and that is why he was never able to come out and claim his throne. I love all the mystery that surrounded the princes’ disappearance. I also enjoyed the curse that Elizabeth puts on the person who murdered her son, which declares that whom ever the murderer is will loose their first-born son and then their grandson. It becomes quite sad and ironic later when her own daughter marries Henry VII and they loose their first son, Arthur, and then are never born a grandson that survives.

The only part of the story that left me a little disappointed was where it ended. It ends in 1485 as Henry VII lands in England and the final battle with Richard III begins. At the conclusion of this story, Elizabeth Woodville is set on her daughter marrying her uncle Richard upon his victory, which we now know never happened. I think this may have been the first version that I have read that suggested that plot, but then again the only reason why she was pushing for that alliance was in order to put her secretly surviving son, Richard, on the throne.

I have to say that even in her final plotting, I still enjoyed the character of Elizabeth Woodville and I liked the element of magic that was included since it is often brushed under the rug. I even have a more favorable opinion on her now, but I am not saying that she is without fault in some of the bloodshed that occurred because of the plotting. I am also more secure in my opinion that Richard III had NOTHING to do with the deaths of the princes in the tower. I am still split between blaming Henry VII and his mother Margaret Beaufort or placing the blame on the Duke of Buckingham.

Overall, I really enjoyed The White Queen. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being Excellent, I would give this book a 4. I finished the book within 24 hours of starting it, and I didn’t have to make a character map in order to understand the character connections. I look forward to picking up The Red Queen and reading how deep Margaret Beaufort was into the plotting as well.

SIDE NOTE: Elizabeth Shore, one of King Edward's whores, is briefly mentioned in this story. I would be interested in reading a story written from her point of view considering the many men of power she was involved with. If anyone knows of a story about her or written in her point of view, please leave me a comment with the name and author. Thanks!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Field Trip Friday

I have decided to add a new weekly feature to my blog called
 Field Trip Friday

My husband and I have been lucky enough to have the weekends and most weeknights to spend together and we have been trying to get out to explore our new 'home' as much as we can...on a budget of course!
Field Trip Friday will be away for me to document and share our adventures in CA.

So, with out further ramblings, I present the first Field Trip Friday.

Mel's Diner & Runyon Canyon

We started our day by meeting our friends, Steven and Taylor, at Mel's Diner off Hollywood Blvd. I had a chocolate milkshake, which almost came back to haunt me when we started hiking up Runyon Canyon. My husband warned me that milkshake+hiking was not a good idea, but I didn't take his advice.

On the way up to the hiking trial my husband noticed a lady walking up the hill with a small group of people...but it wasn't just any lady, it was Kat Von D! Kat is a tattoo artist and has a TV Show on TLC called LA INK. She is officially the first celebrity that I have seen since we moved here.

Runyon  Canyon is located behind Hollywood Blvd. At it's peak it has a clear view of Downtown Los Angeles, Beverley Hills and on a clear day you can see all the way to the coast.

Getting to the top was a struggle for me. I am skinny, but I am not physically fit and my thighs were burning even before the half way point. The view was excellent and well worth it. There was also a lovely breeze that helped cool us off.

Water helped too.

After the hike we got frozen yogurt at a place called 'Cantalope'. A few blocks from the Canyon is the original house where Nightmare On Elm Street was filmed. Carl and Steven got a kick out of seeing it in person and getting a few photos taken in front of it. I felt like a weirdo standing on a residential street taking pictures in front  of a strangers home...but then one of those 'Hollywood Tours' vans pulled up and also stopped in front of the house, so I figured the owners must be use to it by now.

We had a great time and have made plans to try to make the hike a regular activity!

I'm a Winner!

A big THANK YOU to


How lucky am I? I woke up this morning and while drinking my coffee and checking my e-mail I discovered that I have won a $100 gift card to CSN Stores which was a give-a-way hosted by Amy at Passages to the Past!

Being the giant nerd that I am, I immediately went to the CSN Store website and started browsing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a section for school supplies. Since I am a teacher and love my kids (students) to death, I of course started looking for things to aid in the classroom. There aren't any teacher stores, like Education Express, in my area and I had been looking for pocket charts for my classroom to help keep us organized. Well, I found them at CSN Stores and they are sooo inexpensive that I can get a few pocket charts AND still have some $ left over for shoes! YES! I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself!

Make sure you check out the other great give-a-ways at Passages to the Past!

Murder Most Royal: The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard

Thank You!