Friday, 27 June 2008

Who I am???

Have you been wondering who I am?
Well, this is me. No more, no less. this is me somewhere in the middle of a 10k race on Father's Day, June 25.
No, i didn't win in any category, I didn't run 'fast' but I did better my personal best time by 9 minutes. That's what I call a success.
Next week I am off to Calgary, Alberta with Shelley, my eldest sister, where we will meet with Nancy, my younger sister. On July 6 I will be running the Calgary 1/2 Marathon with Nancy while Shelley cheers us both on.
We've both been training for months and are looking forward to it.
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour

I was given this book by one of my Bookcrossing friends. Its been sitting around for ages waiting to reach the top of my 'To Be Read' stack. Shame on me for waiting so long.
I was expecting a cowboy story, as thats what I thought Mr. L'Amour was known for writing. I couldn't have been more wrong. Actually it is an Indian story.
Joe Mack is a US Air Force Major and he test pilots new airplanes. He is forced down in the ocean off Russia and captured. Now he has to escape before the torture can begin.
The story then follows Mack across Siberia.
This was a well written novel with great character development. For a book first published in 1988, it hasn't lost its intrigue or its ability to captivate. Yes, the Soviet Union has changed much in a political sense, but the sweeping vista of Siberia will yet be dramatic and vast.
As I could hardly put this book down, I will be adding Louis L'Amour to my future reading lists.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Lords of the Bow: The epic story of the Great Conqueror by Conn Iggulden

This book breaths life into the long gone Genghis Khan. While dead for almost 800 years, I could imagine the thunder of tens of thousands of warriors and their horses racing across the fields that lie beyond my house.
Prior to this book, I had only heard of the brutality of the mongols. Mr. Iggulden has succeeded in fleshing out my image of them and turning them back into people with families, with memories of their pasts and with hopes for their and their children's futures.
Lords of the Bow is a snapshot view of a span of several years with the Mongols. It spans from the uniting of the various tribes under Genghis's rule, and ends with the successful siege of Yenking (Beijing) several years later.
Ample attention is given to the military strategies employed by all armies without it becoming the main thrust of the book. For this reason I feel that it would appeal to readers with a broad historical interest.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the cover photo.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Predictably Irrational : The Hidden Forces That Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely

I found this book to be fascinating. Even though this is a scholarly work, it is very readable and easily understood. The finding of Mr. Ariely and his associates are well illustrated by an assortment of simple experiments that were conducted at several well respected Universities.

Before I started reading, I felt that I made quite rational decisions and that I was not unduly swayed by advertising and other outside influences. I now suspect that this might not be true. I was surprised to find how much we are all influenced by our surrounding and those around us.

Whether it affects our decision of how long a magazine subscription to select, whether I need a medication or will a placebo suffice, is a free item really free, or even if we have ordered what we truly desire in a restaurant or did we make our choice so it will be different that everyone else at the table.

I was further surprised to find that even our level of honesty can be influenced by a variety of circumstances.

Mr. Ariely does not leave us without hope. He does assure the reader that he can make rational decisions.

I would highly recommend this book to any who are a student of understanding human nature. Now I am wondering how I can use my new found knowledge to get my children to do what I want them to do without them realizing how much I have influenced their decision.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the cover picture.

Friday, 13 June 2008

A gift in the Mail

My niece chastised me on the weekend for not telling you about the surprise book I received in the mail.

It was one of those days when life wasn't going all that well. No one thing was weighing me down, rather a bunch of little things had crept together and were doing their job. I had set myself the task of tidying some things that had been sitting since the end of last year and low and behold I found a gift, wrapped in Christmas paper, sitting in the final stack of stuff.

I vaguely remembered it arriving late in the year, but in the turmoil of life, it disappeared. Well, I have to say it re-appeared at the perfect time. There was no card, but I knew it was for me. It had been sent to me by an unknown Bookcrosser. I torn off the wrapping and found a cookbook inside. Its a thick spiral bound book that was put together by the Coldwell Banker staff in West Bend and Menomonee Falls Wisconsin.

Wow, what a Treat. It lifted my spirits and left me smiling for the rest of the day. I'd like to thank the mysterious sender, but I don't know who that is. Even now, days later, I still smile when I see the book on my counter.

My lesson from this: not to underestimate the value of those seemingly small gestures, they may mean the world to the recipient.

Below is the first recipe that I tried from the book and have fallen in tasty love with.

Aunt Bernice's Rhubarb Dream Dessert

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter

Mix 1 cup flour, powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter for crust. Press in 8x8 inch pan. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.

Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and salt. Add beaten eggs and rhubarb. Mix. Spoon over crust.

Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes until set in the middle.

Can be doubled for 9x13 inch pan, add 10 minutes to the final baking time.

This recipe was submitted by Mary Sauer who works in the West Bend Office of Coldwell Banker.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sparkling Diamond Block Set

This is one of my favourite designs. The dark centre sets a focus for the whole piece. Very dramatic.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Open Windows Block Set

I find that this is a very graphic set. I won't be using it this time, as I have another quilt in the works that will be of this design. The blocks are wonky log cabin blocks. They are pieced from leftover bits. Next step is to trim them to size.