Friday, October 30, 2009

More Halloween

Tyfani, Aunt and Cousins dressed "To Kill" for the "YaYa Sisterhood" party at Thanksgiving Point. They got together to make hats at Tyf's before the party, since hats were required attire. Tyfani won 2nd place for her hat out of hundreds of contestants. The red satin shoes were a nice touch since they matched the glittery red bird ornament she glued to her hat design!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Dinner

Our Annual Halloween Dinner
The little boys dressed up and baby Roman wore Dawson's first costume-notice Tyfani's prize winning hat that she made! The food is to appeal to kids. Some of what our special menu included:
Spaghetti and Eyeballs (black spaghetti from Target, sauce and meatballs)
Bony Breadsticks
Witches Fingers (green beans)
Eyeballs in Gore (plastic eyeballs sitting on red jello - it made the perfect sucking sound with each serving!)
Witches Brew (usually fancier but this year orange soda)

Close up of the black Spaghetti and Eyeballs on Dawson's plate

Jello (Gorey Eyeballs) is so hard to eat with a fork!

After studying the problem, Gabe decides to just pick up the plastic eyeball and suck the jello off of it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

BookLook Review is Poe -tic

Book Look October 30th
“The Gold-Bug and Other Tales” by Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is required reading for Halloween. Poe is an American author born in 1809 who wrote macabre tales probably due in part to his own suffering and addictions. Considered the master of the American Gothic horror story, he created chilling nightmares and hallucinations that seemed to spring from a tortured imagination. Largely shunned (gee, I wonder why) by his contemporaries and abandoned by his friends and family, only 10 people attended his funeral – in October 1849. How dramatic of him to depart during the month celebrating all things ghoulish. A do-over funeral was held this month in Baltimore as the highlight of a yearlong festival marking the 200th anniversary of his birth and hundreds of “mourners” attended. Actors portrayed his fickle friends and family and a local special effects artist created a mock-up of Poe in his casket for the event. I wish I could’ve traveled to his funeral since it sounded really entertaining but I read him instead.

“The Gold-Bug and Other Tales” is an anthology containing nine of his best-known short stories, some of which have been made into movies. The first story, “The Gold-Bug” is set on an island off the coast of South Carolina, where an unusual bug leads three men on a treasure hunt. But I can’t say much more (except there are pirate codes and invisible ink. . .) or the surprises may slip out. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” influenced later writers including Conan Doyle who closely patterned Sherlock Holmes on Poe’s Monsieur Dupin, and Dr. Watson seems based on the narrator – did Doyle plagiarize?! “The Fall of the House of Usher” may sound familiar since this is one of the more famous movies made from an Edgar Allan Poe story. Melancholy insane twins trapped by agoraphobia wander until death in the House, dun . . . dun …dun . . . of Usher. There are more of course but the last one, “The Cask of Amontillado”, was one that haunted my dreams when I was a young girl. I don’t remember how I ever got a hold of this twisted tale. I was always sneaking books off my parent’s book shelf to read before I understood that they were above my grade level. I am still not sure what Amontillado is, but I do know that when you are drunk you never, never, never follow a rival Italian into his wine cellar/catacomb/crypt under his villa. Especially after you ask him to exchange Masonic signs and he laughs and holds up a trowel!

My only complaint is that I could not figure out what some of the words meant even reading the stories as an adult. They for sure were not on spell check. Footnotes might have been helpful to explain what nitre is, or how a roguelaire looks. Even without fully understanding some of these out of date words, I definitely understood the malice and mystery involved. So if you missed the Poe funeral party, celebrate Halloween reading a dose – not poisonous, of the truly chilling Edgar Allan Poe stories.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Which Table is Best?

Here are the two table choices for the family room. Dark brown leather furniture, beige carpet but light oak mantle and soon to be new paint. Do I match the dark wood on the couch, or the light wood on the mantle? Or does it matter? Step one updating family room is table, step two is drapes, step three is paint. I like to spruce up a room a year, and I have to count the basement guest room (known as the honeymoon suite) as last years' project delayed until new furniture this summer. Anyway, back to this year's room freshener question. Which table is best?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Girls Night Out in Naperville

Alyssa and I were Kelly's guests at a book signing for the latest in the Outlander Series. For a good time call Kelly! We laughed so much I was afraid she would start contractions. In this picture we are getting books signed - we were #130 in a very long line. Alyssa had her camera ready when Mr. "I will be taking the one allowed picture" took the camera away. Apparently he makes sure his author-wife looks good and doesn't care about the others in the shot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm the Man for the Job

As requested, by popular demand, due to constant nagging... here is a list of some of my recent favorite books,in no particular order. I didn't do a list of my favorite classics, maybe if I am nagged? These are safe for book clubs and would be considered "clean reads" - as far as I can remember.I like all of them for different reasons but consider them all good literature and worth reading.

1. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (long beautifully written book for dog lovers etc.)
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a bit rough to start since letter style, British)
3. Hearts of Horses (horse whisperer gal during the war)
4. These is my Words (early settlers story)
5. The Bee Keepers Apprentice (Sherlock Holmes has a young girl neighbor)
6. Crocodile on the Sandbank ( British spinster goes to Egypt back in those days)
7. Austenland (light weight humorous story of a Jane Austen fan)
8. At Home in Mitford (begins a great series about a small town but can just read one)
9. The Book Thief ( some language but YA and great writing - death is the narrator)
10. Wish You Well (story of city children being raised in the Smoky Mountains)
11. The Persian Pickle Club (Persian Pickle is a quilt pattern so they are quilters)
12. A Long Way From Chicago (YA but funny for all ages about a grandma and grandkids)

Inspirational and Non-fictional
1. Left to Tell
2. Founding Mothers
3. Barefoot Heart
4. The Wednesday Letters
5. The Invisible Wall
6. The Zoo Keepers Wife

If you want to know what they are about, check my past blog reviews or if you are really lazy just go to Amazon and read the description. Of course that won't include my opinion but do what ya gotta do.

Book Look Review "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

Monster Fest continues here at BookLook. A classic thriller-chiller is required reading as the wind scrapes branches against your windowpane. Add a flickering fire set against the chilly night air and open a musty tome to complete your October evening! Most of us are familiar with the movie versions of Jekyll and Hyde but have never read the short novel by Robert Louis Stevenson upon which they are based. The famous movies show the general idea of his story of divided self but use additional Hollywood fare to turn this thoughtful tale into popular horror films.

As a young man, author Robert Louis Stevenson had a recurring nightmare in which he lived a double life similar to the character he later created. In his terrible dream he was a respected doctor by day but by night his evil split personality lurked in dark alleys. He produced the story based on his nightmares in just three days and published it as “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in 1886. It was an instant best seller with 40,000 copies sold in the first six months alone. Queen Victoria and other famous British authors and playwrights of the time heralded it as one of the best tales written. Similar to Frankenstein and other early “monster” stories, the villain Mr. Hyde generates both pity and loathing in the reader. The setting is a bit of history combined with the social concerns and comments of the Victorian author.

The story begins as the lawyer Mr. Utterson catches a fleeting glimpse of a dark character unlocking a door and slipping inside late one evening. His reaction is revulsion mixed with curiosity. Who is this cold-hearted malevolent man? Of course we know that it is in fact his friend and client Dr. Jekyll. The lawyer recalls Dr. Jekyll left a will in his keeping, which names Mr. Hyde as the inheritor of his estate. Mr. Utterson suspects there is something amiss in this bequest and tries to convince Dr. Jekyll to confide in him. Of course the doctor refuses and becomes more reclusive and mysterious.

One evening Utterson is summoned by the faithful butler and discovers a terrorized household staff huddled in the kitchen. It seems there is a monster barricaded in the surgery at the back of the house with Dr. Jekyll. For days the butler has tried to get his master to come out, but is told to go away. What is happening behind that door? Only Dr. Jekyll can tell us the rest of the story.

Our imagination fills in the gaps intentionally created by Stevenson. Although we do not live in Victorian times, we share their fears of drug experimentation and the fragility of self control. He knew that we could draw scenes and characters from our own nightmares to make it more frightening. He didn’t know, writing in the time before moving pictures, that we would have an additional vault of movie memories to produce even more chilling visual images in shadowy black and white.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Swashbuckling Shenanigans

Dawson the Daring, Haydon the Reckless, Gabe the Babe (may have to find something more pirate-like for him now)

All For One and One for All

Dawson and Gabe are wearing shirts by Alyssa for 1st Day of Halloween

Again, parents I must caution you strongly about my babysitting. I adore these little grandsons but I will spoil them and even provide them with inflated swords for Swashbuckling.