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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Night Circus

First paragraph:

"The man billed as Prospero the Enchanter receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theater office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl."

I have spent the last 29 days immersed in the world of the circus.
It only took me about 10 days to read the book but I have watched circus movies and basically thought about the book for at least 29 days.
I knew from the very first sentence that I was going to adore and devour this book. Someone said it was a magic lovers dream come true and I totally agree.

I loved this book and imagined the world in a black and white and gray watercolor with splotches of red.
The Dickens' era where futures were told by mysterious ladies.

The revers' men in their charcoal gray or black suits with their bowler hats and red scarves running to catch the trains to take to them to whatever location the circus is headed to next. The women in their black coats and boots and umbrellas with a shock of crimson lipstick or ruby red earrings.
My kitchen has been filled with the scents of caramel and cinnamon and popcorn every weekend and I have wished that I could build a bon fire in my backyard and turn on the bistro lights and listen to the audio of this
book on the speakers. (It would be perfect in the Fall-I just may do that)

This is most definitely a book about the senses and the atmosphere is completely set for you.
It is beautifully written, bittersweet and wonderful and cruel all at the same time. The relationships are complicated and heartbreaking, Deep and strange. Magic verses illusion. Forbidden love and mystery. So good....
In the black and white and gray world, once you enter the circus, the colors are so vivid and ever changing. It reminds me of those black and white photos that have parts of them colored like flushed cheeks and a red balloon. The descriptions are intense. Especially the food. I think that was my favorite part. The midnight dinners that consisted of 12 courses.
I loved the deep meaning behind all the tents and that each new tent built was a new layer in the relationship between Marco and Celia.

My favorites were:
The Pool of Tears that Marco built for Celia to have a place to express her emotions in private:
The Stargazer that allowed Poppet to read the stars and see the future:
The Room of Bottles

where each bottle told one of Widgets stories and my very favorite was The Wishing Tree heavy with candles that Marco built where you would light a candle from the flame of an existing candle to protect everyones wishes.

Love, love, love it! Wish I could read it again for the first time.

I give this book 5.0 stars

Cindy's Review:

So Ali and I both loved The Night Circus. We each would give it 4 stars. We both were so engrossed with it that we read it quickly.  We loved the imagery and details the author used.  The author used great detail in not only describing the tents and visual details, but the smells also.  In the beginning it was bothersome that the chapters jumped around but eventually that made sense.
It was entertaining, intriguing, and visually stimulating.  A great read!!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Water For Elephants

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.
Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I loved this movie so much. One of my favorites of 2011.
The acting is superb and although I am not necessarily Team Edward, I do think that Robert Pattinson is great in this movie.
Loved it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily Affirmations from Dallys

Amen, sista!


Hi Staci,

Ali and I made Kettle Korn on Sunday night.  We ended up having eight people here to eat it and Ali and I made 6 batches and there was not a kernal left an hour later!  We used to do it with a regular pan on the stove.  You have to shake the pan to keep it from burning and it really scratched up our stove.  One day I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond and found a Whirley Pop. It works great.  You can turn the handle and it keeps the popcorn moving in the pan. The whirly pop comes with recipes for many different flavors of popcorn. 

Here is the recipe;
Kettle Korn
1/3 c. popping corn
1/4 c. sugar  (we add and additional 1/8 c. sugar)
1/4 c. oil
Preheat electric stove (just above medium setting)  For gas stoves, preheating is not necessary.
Pour all ingredients into popper. Stir constantly until kernals have finished popping.  Quickly empty Kettle Korn
onto a cookie sheet. When Kettle Korn is cool, break into pieces with a wooden spoon.  Makes approx 4 quarts of kettle korn.

Thanks, Cindy!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Moulin Rouge

The year is 1899, and Christian, a young English writer, has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian revolution taking hold of the city's drug and prostitute infested underworld. And nowhere is the thrill of the underworld more alive than at the Moulin Rouge, a night club where the rich and poor men alike come to be entertained by the dancers, but things take a wicked turn for Christian as he starts a deadly love affair with the star courtesan of the club, Satine. But her affections are also coveted by the club's patron: the Duke. A dangerous love triangle ensues as Satine and Christian attempt to fight all odds to stay together but a force that not even love can conquer is taking its toll on Satine...

Matt and I watched this movie last night. It is a good movie with a fantastic soundtrack. It is set at the exact time our book "The Night Circus" is set so it gives you a really great idea of how people dressed and the coloring and look of the movie is something like I imagine the book. However, this movie is so fast paced and visual that it is not a good idea to watch if you have a headache. Makes it worse. It does go along well with our circus theme though even if it is set in a nightclub instead of a carnival. It has sad clowns and performers and Nicole Kidman is wonderful in it and so is Ewan McGreggor.  
Its rated PG-13 in case you were wondering:)

PS......I loved the Underwood Typewriter Christian used and Satine's clothes are to die for and she is beyond gorgeous!

more later....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Salted Caramel Corn

                                           I started with popcorn
                                           put all the caramel ingredients in a pot
                                           enjoyed this while waiting
                                           oh yeah.............

                                    poured it on popcorn..added roasted peanuts and sea salt
                                           enjoyed it for too many days
                                           made myself sick....
                                           wanted to do it again

Baked Caramel Popcorn

1 cup real butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup karo syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

boil to 240 deg. w/ candy thermometer
remove from stove
add 1/2 tsp soda...stir
pour over warm popcorn.
spread over cookie sheet.
bake for 45 min at 250 deg.

this is mom's and my favorite...we add raisins and nuts and i think it is yummy with pretzel m&m's too. add these before baking. also sprinkle with sea salt if you like the salted caramel flavor. you will most likely become addicted too:)

the "night circus" is so good. if you are reading it you will understand my "black and white with a shock of red" theme.

more later....

(next up: movie preview for moulin rouge)


The newest addition to Dallys' family came in the form of a Dragonfly:)

Happy Birthday Dallys!!!!

(she also has a new grandson;)) but she will have to tell you about that......

If you want to learn more about these awesome teapots, check it out here

Mom and I have the Cherry Blossom teapots. Symbolizes beauty.
Perfect for tea for one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"The Bon Fire"



The Bon Fire-at the stroke of midnight

The Bon Fire ignites in an eruption of yellow flame.
Then the second chime follows, the second archer sends his arrow into the yellow flames, and they become a clear sky-blue.
A third chime with a third arrow, and the flames are a warm bright pink.
Flames the color of a ripe pumpkin follow the fourth arrow.
A fifth, and the flames are scarlet-red.
A sixth brings a deeper, sparkling crimson.
Seven, and the fire is soaked in a color like an incandesent wine.
Eight, and the flames are shimmering violet.
Nine, and violet shifts to indigo.
A tenth chime, a tenth arrow, and the bonfire turns deepest midnight blue.
On the penultimate chime, the dancing flames change from blue to black, and for that moment, it is difficult to discern the fire from it's cauldren.
And on the final strike, the darkest flames are replaced with a blinding white, a shower of sparks falling like snowflakes around it. High curls of dense, white smoke swirl up into the night sky.

If you are not yet reading this book, you should consider it. The descriptions are so amazing, especially the food. Just sayin:)

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Big Fish"

Throughout his life Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) has always been a man of big appetites, enormous passions and tall tales.  In his later years, portrayed by five-time Best Actor Oscar® nominee Albert Finney , he remains a huge mystery to his son, William (Billy Crudup).  Now, to get to know the real man, Will begins piecing together a true picture of his father from flashbacks of his amazing adventures in this marvel of a movie.



 "They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that's true. What they don't tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up".

My favorite quote from the movie.

This movie is so good. Matt and I watched it on Saturday night. The love story is beautiful and the scenery is beautiful.....It's a great Valentines Day movie.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fail…Fail….Fail….Serious Burn….SUCCESS!!!!!!!

Guess what we ran into on the way to Torrey?
Yup, you guessed it.  A cattle drive.

We spent a wonderful 2 days in Torrey with mom and dad.
Mom and I entered the amazing world of Café Melba and after years
Of me trying and failing, we figured out how to make Grandma’s popcorn balls. Since they are Matt’s favorite, this is a big deal.

We came to the conclusion that Grandma probably didn’t use a candy thermometer and just
Went by the old reliable cold water method to test her candy.
The crackling stage is cooking the candy too long and it hardens too fast to effectively make the
Popcorn balls.
If you are using a candy thermometer, take it just to the hard ball stage.
Also, if you follow this recipe, only use the equivalent of 3 bags of microwave popcorn. More than that
Is too much. My suggestion is to double the recipe and use the equivalent of 6 bags of popcorn.
Otherwise you don’t have very many popcorn balls.
They were perfection.

And I missed Grandma so much I could hardly breathe…..

this little gal is on her last leg :'(

February Book Selection


Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern                              If I ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Our Book choice for the month of February is “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. I also picked “If I Ran The Circus” by Dr. Seuss for the little kids in case they might want to participate. I tried to find one for the older kids but “the Night Circus” kept coming up in the search so I will just leave it up to you.

Matt is almost finished with it and Chloe’ is about half done and they both say that there is nothing offensive that they have run into. They are both enjoying it a lot and my niece who read it in January gave it 4.5 stars so I am hoping it will be good. I am excited to read it.

Since it is set around the circus and carnival I decided that the theme for the month will be “Popcorn” or any other carnival type food that you think sounds interesting. I think that’s easy enough and most of us eat popcorn. So if you have any fun caramel popcorn, candied popcorn or savory popcorn recipes now will be a good time to test them out. (Just in time for the Super Bowl.) If you want to take pictures of the finished product and send me the recipe, I will put it on the blogJ. I will also feature 3 movies throughout the month on the blog that will center around the Circus theme. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. The first movie will be “Big Fish” starring Ewan  McGregor and Albert Finney.

I am having a blast doing this. I hope you are enjoying it too.

More later……