My shiny new black MacBook is fast and pretty and slim and did I mention shiny? But when I tried to pop in a DVD for the first time (X-Files Season 2, if you must know--I like to watch TV on my laptop in the kitchen while I cook), I met resistance and couldn't get the slot to suck in the DVD. I made an appointment for my local Genius Bar at the Apple Store, where a well-groomed, polite young man (who looked approximately 12) took my laptop (sob) and promised a phone call when I could pick it back up. So I've been on the slow iBook for three days. The Apple guy called yesterday with great news--I can pick it up any time! Yay! He goes on to mention (with the sound of held-back laughter in his voice) that the problem was a Marshall Field's gift card inserted in the drive. Ahem. Did I mention that I had given Lilah used gift cards to play with when I gave her my old purse and wallet? And one of them was from Marshall Field's? Anyway, the computer will have to move upstairs or out of her reach, obviously.
Knitting: Plugging along on Sock #2. I need to cast on for something else, too, but I'm not sure I'm up for Henley Perfected right now, and I can't decide on another Mission Possible thing that sounds good. I may have a liberating yarn/book giveaway to diminish my stashes a bit. I don't know that I actually want to use the Rowanspun 4 ply, even if it is an awesome bright red. Someone else might do better with it. Same with the lavender wool/silk. We'll see.
Reading: I read THE FUNNIEST BOOK in the history of the world! Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but Bobbie Faye's Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey had me laughing out loud. With a clever, official-looking map at the beginning labeled "Louisiana State Insurance Archive of Bobbie Faye Sumrall Disasters (Southwest Region)," you know you're going to be suspending disbelief. Each chapter has a quote about Bobbie Faye, and the first quote is, "You know how some people are born to Greatness? Well, Bobbie Faye Sumrall woke up one morning, kicked Greatness in the teeth, kneed it in the balls, took it hostage, and it's been begging for mercy ever since," attributed to "a former Louisiana mayor after Bobbie Faye accidentally ran her car into his office, knocking pages of fraud evidence into the street, which helped land him in Federal prison." Those two components at the very beginning could be setting us up for a fun ride or trying to compensate for a lackluster novel. Fortunately for us, it's the first!
Bobbie Faye is having the worst day of her life, and for someone inadvertently attracted to disaster like a moth to a flame, that's saying something. She wakes up in the morning to her five-year-old niece remarking that there's a swimming pool inside. She's caring for her niece while her sister is drying out, as ordered by the courts, and her trailer has flooded because her no-good brother Roy hasn't fixed the washing machine. The Sumralls have been fixtures in Lake Charles, Louisiana ("if someone had labeled it 'home of the hard drinkers who make Mardi Gras revelers look like big fluffy candy asses,' it might have staggered to attention and saluted") for generations, and Bobbie Faye is the latest in a long line of Contraband Days Queens since her mother died, complete with a battered tiara. It turns out that Roy has been kidnapped by someone demanding the worthless tiara, but when Bobbie Faye takes it out of the safety-deposit box (it may be worthless, but she didn't want her sister hocking it for booze), she loses it to bank robbers. She takes a guy hostage and goes in pursuit of the robbers, with the FBI and local police (led by her ex-husband of all people) following closely behind. This is a wild ride with abundant humor, a touch of mystery (who *is* this guy she took hostage? why would anyone want that tiara this badly?), and over-the-top action. Can Bobbie Faye find the tiara, save her brother, keep temporary custody of her niece, avoid mushy thoughts about her handsome hostage, and survive this day? I can't think of anyone who wouldn't compulsively read this one to find out!
I forgot to mention that I read On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle, the first in the Coffeehouse series. I had read this and maybe one of the sequels ages ago. It's a decent cozy mystery series with enticing recipes. A few things bug me. It starts out with a prologue from the stalker's point-of-view a la James Patterson or Jonathan Kellerman, which I think is super cheesy. Despite throwing around Italian terms like someone who knows what she's doing, Coyle (or her editor) has used the wrong accent over the 'e' in the Italian word 'caffe,' (It should be the opposite accent of the French cafe, but I can't figure out how to do diacritical marks in Blogger) and spelled 'baci' (which means 'kisses') bocci. There are other typos in plain old English, typical of this genre's mediocre editing. Despite some annoyances, the book is kind of cute and I enjoyed the coffee information, which I thought complemented, rather than distracted from, the narrative flow. Clare Cosi returns from suburban New Jersey to manage once again The Village Blend, an historic coffeehouse in New York City at the request of her former mother-in-law. You can bet the ex-husband will be around to bug her/be strangely attractive. One morning, Clare arrives at the coffeehouse to find it empty and dark. She finds her employee, Annabel, dead at the bottom of the basement steps. The police are treating the death as a tragic accident, but Clare thinks differently. Also, she thinks the detective is pretty cute. Typical cozy mystery investigating ensues, in more-interesting-than-average-cozy fashion. I'll read the second one, Through the Grinder, soon.
I also read "The Twelve Desserts of Christmas" by Joanne Fluke, one of four novellas in the holiday romance collection Sugar and Spice (available for the cost of shipping--used on amazon.com). I didn't read the other three, which are more typical romance, but I thought the Joanne Fluke story, featuring two teachers stuck with six kids at a boarding school over the holidays, was a cute confection. Hannah Swensen delivers desserts to the group and solves an innocuous little mystery. Most of the recipes are title recipes from previous books, but a couple may be new (I'd have to check Sugar Cookie Murder, which has tons). If (like me) you're waiting for Carrot Cake Murder to come out in paperback, this is a nice little diversion.
Writing: Not much. Sleeping hasn't been great lately, so I'm tired all the time again. Lilah had one night of almost ten hours uninterrupted sleep, but nothing near that since. More like 4-5, max. Ugh.
Cooking: I made this fantastic Citrus Parmesan Farro Salad. I kept everything separate for non-soggy leftovers. I used one cup cooked farro (which is similar to, or identical to, depending on whom you ask, spelt) for 2 Weight Watchers points, and 2 TBL dressing for 3 points. I managed to grab arugula instead of spinach, and it's not as good wilty as spinach is, but this was still a nice salad (with 2 TBL almonds - 2 points and 1 oz. goat cheese - 2 points, it was a nice, filling lunch). The next day, I used 1 cup farro mixed with some leftover steamed veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, and snap peas), 2 TBL of the dressing, 1/4 cup feta cheese and 2 TBL kalamata olives. Delish. You really can't beat homemade vinaigrettes, and the combinations of flavors are endless.