Monday, September 12, 2016

The Girl on the Train

If you're looking for a psychological thriller that you won't want to put down, then The Girl on the Train is the book for you. This is the first fictional book published under the author's real name, Paula Hawkins. She also writes under the pseudonym of Amy Silver.

The Girl on the Train is told from the perspective of three different women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel is the main protagonist and the girl on the train. She's a lonely, divorced woman with a serious drinking problem. She suffers from black-outs and does things like call her ex-husband or show up on his doorstep while intoxicated.

Every morning and evening, she rides the train into London for her job. The train stops briefly each morning behind Rachel's old neighborhood, where she and her husband Tom lived before the divorce. Now Tom lives there with his new wife Anna (the third narrator of the story), and their new child, while Rachel rents a room from a former college friend, Cathy. The few months she expected to reside there has turned into two long years.

Four houses away from her old home, a "perfect, golden couple" live, whom Rachel has named Jess and Jason. Jess, who's really Megan, is the second female narrator of the novel. Rachel's become obsessed with this beautiful couple, always looking for them when the train stops on the tracks. From her seat, Rachel imagines how Jess and Jason live their lives, what their hobbies might be along with their occupations. Then one day, Jess disappears. Rachel's pulled into the investigation and the plot begins its suspenseful twists and turns.

I thought that The Girl on the Train was a very, good read.  It has a Hitchcockian feel to it a la Rear Window with its voyeuristic tendencies; instead of a photojournalist laid up with a broken leg in a wheelchair, we have a depressed drunk seated on a train. Quite a few times, I wanted to reach into the book and shake Rachel. Everyone lies in this book and the reader doesn't know who to trust. For me, this book was an addictive page turner, engrossing and well-paced. I couldn't wait to find out what happened on the next page and how the story ended.

The author, Paula Hawkins, revealed in an interview her premise for writing this book:   I’ve done lots of train journeys, and I’ve always thought how interesting it would be if you actually got to witness something. Because you never really do – I’ve never seen anything interesting! You look at these houses, and most of the time you never see people; you see things that maybe bring images to mind – for example, toys in the back garden that have been abandoned – and that starts you thinking about something.

In addition to being a bestseller, The Girl on the Train has also been made into a movie, premiering October 7th, with Emily Blunt in the lead as Rachel. More info on the movie can be found here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Back on Weight Watchers

Today, my blog post is about re-starting Weight Watchers. Recently, I noticed that my eating habits were getting out of control, I mean waaaayyy out of control, so I decided to start using the Weight Watchers Points System again. Many, many years ago, I successfully used the WW Points System and lost 25 pounds in 4 months. A couple of years later, I re-joined WW to lose a few more pounds. But I really wasn't in the right mind-set to stick with the program and basically wasted my money. This time around, instead of rejoining, I decided to do it on my own and dug out my old Weight Watchers paraphernalia.

The points system is a really great system because no food is off limit. You can eat anything you want as long as you stay within your point range. The point range is based on how much an individual weighs. Since I was a member all those years ago, WW has changed its system a bit and they now use a new method of calculating food points and daily point intake. Instead of using WW's current points system, I decided to stick with what I know, so I'm using the old method of calculating points.

I haven't paid attention to what I've been eating in years and I knew limiting my food intake would be really hard. I thought the best thing would be to ease myself back into the program with 30 points per day the first week and then reduce that amount by 2 points each week until I attain my goal of eating only 22 points per day. There was no way I could just cold-turkey start at 22 points per day.

Here's how my week panned out:
Day 1 -- Tuesday, 8/23 -- 29 points
Day 2 -- Wednesday -- 26 points
Day 3 -- Thursday -- 23 points
Day 4 -- Friday -- 26 points
Day 5 -- Saturday -- 29 points
Day 6 -- Sunday -- 21 points
Day 7 -- Monday -- 21 points

My goal is to lose 15 pounds by Thanksgiving. When I weighed myself this past Tuesday, my weight was down 7.5 pounds in only 7 days! I am already at my halfway point. I expected to lose only 2 to 3 pounds during Week 1 because this time around I won't be able to exercise due to some health problems. Apparently, there are 1,000 year old skeletons with better bone density than myself. My knees, back and neck are shot, which means no more hitting the treadmill for an hour or running up/down steps and a whole lot of other restrictions I won't go into right now.

When I originally did the points, I exercised Monday through Friday with a routine of an hour on the treadmill, followed by (every other day) crunches, leg and arm work. So losing weight for me this time around will be even more challenging than if I could exercise.

I'm feeling pretty confident that I can achieve my 15 pound goal by Thanksgiving by keeping to my daily points. My philosophy is simply to take it one day at a time.

For anyone interested in the points system, there's a website with a calculator to help determine the points according to the WW points system.  Also, here's a link to the Weight Watchers official site.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Christmas ~ Tea Cup Style

I can scarcely believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve and then Christmas the day after. Just like Bing Crosby sings, I wish we could have a White Christmas... well, as long as the snow is on the grass and the roads are clear, I hope we have the whitest one ever!
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

This week I'm sharing a white tea cup and saucer set made by Duchess China. I believe I've shared this cup before, but couldn't help sharing again as it's my only white cup. It's also my only solid color tea cup.

Silver is one of my favorite colors and all of my white Christmas-y items are trimmed in silver, which I know clashes just the tiniest bit with my gold-trimmed tea cup.

In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say are you married
We'll say No Man
But you can do the job
When you're in town


I love collecting snowmen. This guy is so cute with his little bucket of snowballs for sale. I found him at Hallmark a few years ago... the day after Christmas, when he was half off... which is of course the best time to buy stuff!

 The bottom of the cup and saucer both bear the Duchess name and stamp.
In addition to Snowmen, I have a Santa Claus collection. I finally stopped buying Santas about five years ago as there's not enough room to display all of the ones I currently have. So I only pull out a few each year. I can't remember where I bought this guy, but he's quite rotund and jolly.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tuesday Cuppa Tea at Aniques and Teacups

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Tea Cup and Saucer

I'm so excited... there are only nine days left until Christmas Day! I have two more people to buy gifts for and then I'm done. How are you doing on your shopping?
Today I'm sharing my second Christmas tea cup and saucer set. I shared the first one two weeks ago. This one is also by Royal Albert. It's part of their "Flower of the Month" series. It's called "Holly" and comes in at #12 in the series.


The front and back of the cup feature the same design and the gold trim is still in excellent condition after all these years. The holly berries and leaves are handpainted. The cool thing about this design is that the red berries are raised, so you feel them when touching the china.

Here comes Santa Claus,
Here come Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane.
I love collecting Santas, especially the ones with an old-fashioned look to them. I found this guy at Home Goods a few years ago.

And I made some delicious homemade, chocolate chip cookies! I never shape the cookie balls before baking. I just plop the dough onto the baking sheet so that I can have the homemade look to my cookies. Here's my recipe for my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe makes about three to four dozen, depending on how big/small you want your cookies to be.

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Thanks for stopping by today,


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Royal Albert Christmas Tea Cup

December, at last! Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is my favorite time of the year and Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love all the food, the extra family time, getting the house and the yard decorated, listening to all the great Christmas songs out there and celebrating the birth of Jesus. 

This week I'm sharing a lovely Royal Albert tea cup and saucer set. I found this set at a yard sale for only $1.00! I couldn't believe it. I'm never lucky like that with tea cups, so I immediately snatched it right up.

The name of this pattern is South Pacific. I'm not sure why a Poinsettia pattern is called South Pacific, so I decided to google the flower to see if that's where it's from. I discovered that the Poinsettia is native to Mexico and was once used by the Aztecs to make colored dye. It was brought to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett and named after him.

I'm crazy for handles and I love this tea cup's handle with its gold design. Below's a picture of the interior of the cup. I love when china makers add floral designs inside the cups. The coloring on this set is really vivid in person, especially the red.

 A little angel that I just love!

This adorable couple that we all know as Mr. and Mrs. Claus was a ceramic project that my mom did about 10-15 years ago.

The marking on the bottom of the saucer reads: Royal Albert, Bone China, England, South Pacific.

I'd never heard the story of why the poinsettia's so closely associated with Christmas and came across this legend of the flower, from WhyChristmas:
"There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. 'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity."

I'm linking up to:
Tea Cup Tuesday at Martha's Favorites 
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tuesday Cuppa Tea

Thanks for stopping by today,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson

I always love when I find a book that's so good, I don't want to stop reading. Kristina Ohlsson has written such a book in The Disappeared.  A college student named Rebecca goes missing on her way to a party and now, two years later, her body's been found buried and dismembered in the woods. The police keep digging and discover that Rebecca isn't the only body in the grave.

There's a quite a few suspects in the murder of Rebecca that the police need to narrow down. And what about that second body in the grave? Forensics date this body's death at least thirty years ago. Is this the work of a serial killer? Are there more bodies buried here? As the police work on the suspect list, several of the characters' lives become intertwined with each other in unsuspecting ways.

Our heroine is Fredrika Bergman, an investigative analyst, who's just returned from maternity leave early because her live-in boyfriend's been suspended from his job as a college professor. As Fredrika delves into Rebecca's past, she discovers that at the time of her disappearance, Rebecca had been doing research for her thesis paper on a children's writer named Thea Aldrin. Aldrin had spent time in prison for murder and was suspected in the disappearance of her own son. Now out of prison and residing in an assisted-living complex, the police can't question her as she's chosen to be mute and refuses to speak.

There are two male protagonists. The first is Fredrika's boss, Alex Recht; recently widowed and still mourning the loss of his wife. Alex originally worked Rebecca's missing person case and still keeps in touch with the young woman's mother. Then there's Peder Rydh, a colleague of Fredrika's and on the investigative team searching for Rebecca's murderer.

Ohlsson has skillfully woven together a complex tale of suspense. There are so many layers created by the author that the reader finds herself swept up into the lives of all the characters; each layer providing more detail to the story.

I really enjoyed reading The Disappeared. It's one of the best murder mysteries I've read in awhile. Not only that, but it's part of a series. So far, this is the only one I've read (and it works out fine as a stand-alone book), but I'm excited to go back and read the other ones by Ohlsson.

Thanks for stopping by today,

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mini Spinach Bread Bowls

These little Spinach Bread Bowls are super easy to make and great for the holidays as an appetizer. I've made these several times now, not just for the holidays, but for events like birthday parties and random get-togethers with friends and family.
  • Bread dough to fit a 12 count muffin pan or 1 roll of refrigerated french bread loaf, Pillsbury's Simply Perfect
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, garden vegetable flavor
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 table salt
  • 1/8 black pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Flour for the refrigerated bread loaf
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter/grease or use a spray like Pam on the muffin pan.
  3. Remove bread from packaging and slice into 12 equal parts (flour the cutting board and knife). Press each slice flat, then press into the bottom and sides of each muffin space.
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic; cook about one more minute.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, cooked spinach, salts and pepper until well blended.
  6. Scoop mixture into the center of each bread bowl.
  7. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake 15-17 minutes until the cheese is melted and browning occurs at the edges.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool about 3-5 minutes before removing from the muffin pan.
  10. Serve warm.
  • Prepare the spinach in advance. Wash and dry the spinach the day before. I used fresh spinach for this recipe and it took me about an hour to finely chop 2 cups. In my defense, I was watching TV while chopping!
  • If you're not a fan of the garden vegetable cream cheese, then use regular cream cheese.
  • If you want to save on calories, then substitute the regular sour cream, mozzarella cheese and cream cheese for their reduced fat or fat-free versions.
  • Serve the mini spinach bread bowls warm. 

This recipe's my modified version of one found at The Picky Palate, where the original version can still be viewed.

Thanks for stopping by,

I'm linking up to Think Pink Sunday.