A couple months ago, we wrote a review of Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt. It told the story of his cross-country move from California to Maine with 25 dogs, 3 RVs, and 11 volunteers.
Lessons from Tara is a follow up to Dogtripping. There is some overlap between the two books, but plenty of new material for readers of the preceding book. Earlier this month, I gave a list of my top 5 dog books so far and now, Lessons from Tara has earned a spot on that list.
In Lessons From Tara, David Rosenfelt details how his rescue dogs and their sunny outlook on life have changed his world view. Although the title specifically names Tara, she is not the sole focus of the lessons he has learned. However if he had never met Tara, then he wouldn’t have met or rescued any of the the other dogs.
Throughout this book I laughed at some chapters and also cried during others. I think that is what makes a great dog book because the book, like dog’s themselves make you laugh and at some point during their life, they will make you cry. While reading, I shed a tear each time he talked about the loss of one of the dogs and how it never gets easier. I laughed each time he talked about the antics of all of his dogs. I definitely laughed more than cried during this book.
I also enjoyed this book because he gave some insight about his life as an author. It was nice to read that he doesn’t spend hours and hours writing his novels. That was comforting to read since that is the way the we write our books. It is always interesting to hear the processes of other authors.
After our adventure out to Tillamook Forest, the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the beach, we made our way back to Portland. As you will recall from our first post in this series, we went on this road trip in 2012, six weeks after both of our grandparents passed away hours apart.
Portland is a city of great importance to our family history. Our grandma was born in Sherwood but she grew up in Portland. As she grew older, she never had the desire to go back so we never got to experience the city with her. However, our mom had spent time in Portland with her mom so we got to have these experiences second hand.
Portland had a large population of Japanese immigrants at the turn of the century. Our maternal great grandfather sailed to Oregon in 1906. He was originally going to immigrate to San Francisco, but he saw the devastation of the 1906 earthquake from the boat and decided to sail on to Oregon. A large community developed in the area and today there is still a large Japanese presence in the city.
We went into downtown Portland and walked around Japantown. The site that had the most impact on us was the Japanese American Historic Plaza. This plaza is part of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park which sits on 36 acres and runs along the Willamette River.
The Plaza was developed by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment “… to raise greater public awareness about the diversity of cultural experiences in America. The Japanese American experience is a unique story that evokes a deep appreciation of the freedoms granted to all Americans by their Bill of Rights.” This article from 2010 was written on the 20th anniversary of the Plaza’s dedication and gives more description of the Plaza.
The Plaza features several cast bronze reliefs and large granite slabs that have been engraved with poems that tell the story of Japanese Americans in Portland during World War II and with the names of internment camps. One hundred cherry trees shade the Plaza and people are a draw to the area every spring when they blossom.
We started out by reading this dedication plaque, that explains the purpose of the Plaza.
One of the bronze relief sculptures showing a father carrying his son on his back.
This granite slab is engraved with the names of the internment camps. Our grandma was interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center with her family. Read our blog post about our visit to Minidoka here.
Another bronze relief depicts a Japanese American soldier. While in camp, Army recruiters came looking to enlist young men to fight in the Army. Many did their patriotic duty even though they were being incarcerated by the same government that was now asking for help. Japanese Americans were organized into two regiments, which later combined to form a single combat team: the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment.
The 442nd Regiment became one of the most decorated units in American military history. For more, read History.com’s Unlikely World War II Soldiers Awarded Nation’s Highest Honor.
One of the poems.
Another relief depicting children waiting on the train to leave for camp.
Another poem relaying the sentiment of Japanese American children in internment camps.
A depiction of the Japanese Americans being forced to report for deportation to internment camps, in accordance with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.
A poem talking about the experience of being sent to internment camp.
The following two pictures are of the cast bronze copy of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that acknowledged and apologized for the evacuation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Today’s Wordless Wednesday is another from our 2007 trip to Europe. We previously shared photos of the White Cliffs of Dover in Wordless Wednesday #16 and Big Ben in Wordless Wednesday #5. It was very exciting to see the Arc de Triomphe in person since a painting of the triumphal arch has hung in our house for as long as we can remember.
The Arc de Triomphe was built from 1806 to 1836. It was commissioned by Napoleon to honor the Grand Armée. The arch was modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome, according to Napoleon.org. You can read more about the history of the Arc de Triomphe at arcdetriompheparis.com/history and visitor information at arcdetriompheparis.com/visitor-information.
The newest season of Longmire premieres this Friday, September 23rd, on Netflix. We were devoted fans to this show while it was airing on A&E, but we might be one of the few people on Earth that doesn’t subscribe to Netflix, so we haven’t seen Season 4.
We did have the pleasure of seeing Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Craig Johnson at the Tucson Festival of Books last year.
You can see our blog post about their panel here. The show is based off a book series by Johnson based in a fictional town in Wyoming. However, they film the series in various locations in New Mexico.
This past January we were on a road trip to Colorado and we stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico for lunch. On a whim, we decided to take a detour into the Old Town and see where some of Longmire is filmed.
The town of Las Vegas is fairly small, with a population of just over 14,000 people. Despite this, the town has a lot of history. In this town alone, there are 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. This NY Times article from 2007 gives an excellent description of the historic town.
At the heart of the Old Town Plaza is the Plaza Hotel that was built in 1882.
If you are looking at the hotel, you can turn to your left and cross S. Pacific Street and you are at the front door of the Sheriff’s Department of Durant, Wyoming in Absaroka County.
Here is a close up of the door. The door was locked when we visited, and also, to our surprise, we were the only ones interested in the building and door. We might have looked like some crazy strangers, if you didn’t know that Longmire was filmed here.
The details on the door were amazing to us, since all the lettering was left in place even when they weren’t currently filming.
This building was originally built in 1895 by the Veeder brothers who were attorneys and community leaders. Their office was on the second floor and a grocery store was on the first.
The Plaza was pretty empty when we visited, probably because it was January and freezing. Christmas lights still hung in the trees. 🙂 The park benches are featured pretty regularly in Longmire.
Here is the official trailer for Season 5 and you can see Ferg and Vic sitting in the Old Town Plaza at the 0:46 mark.
Izzy loved running around the Plaza with the cool, winter air flowing through her ears.
This sculpture is called Nuestra Senora de los Dolores and was carved by Margarito Mondragon out of a dying Chinese Elm tree that was in the park. You can read more about this piece of artwork in the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation Newsletter here.
This second sculpture is called El Campesino by Peter Lopez. You can see a video of the different stages of the creation of the sculpture on the YouTube channel of Main Street de Las Vegas here.
If you are ever in the area, it is totally worth it to take a little side trip to see this location.
French Dip sandwiches are always one of our top choices when we go to a cafe. They seem quite fancy, but they are easy to make for fine dining at home, especially if you make a brief stop at the deli.
For the Au Jus
Beef au jus seems like a really fancy ingredient but today, it is very easy to come by without slaving over the stove. You can buy dry packet mixes to make the au jus, but recently we discovered this jar of amazingness: Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base.
Even though it is labelled as reduced sodium, we found it to be perfectly salty, and very meaty tasting. The preparation is also very simple, scoop a heaping tablespoon of the base into 2 cups of boiling water, stir and it’s done.
Toast the Roll
The perfect roll for a French Dip is soft and easy to bite. These Francisco French sandwich rolls are perfect!
Heat some butter in a frying pan to toast the inside of the roll.
The end result is a beautifully toasted golden roll.
Like Arby’s, We Have the Meats
We love Costco and we just recently discovered they have sliced deli meat that is both inexpensive and tasty. This roast beef is very yummy.
To heat the beef, let it take a quick dip in the au jus made in the first step.
Then put it directly onto the toasted bread.
And Now, Some Cheese
Some people don’t put cheese on their French Dip sandwiches, but we are cheese lovers so we can’t resist. We went with this velvety baby swiss.
Put the cheese onto the heated beef and let it melt.
The last step is to ladle some of the au jus into a bowl.
In Dragondrums, the main character is no longer Menolly, but rather Piemur, Menolly’s first friend at the Harper Hall who we met in Dragonsinger. Here are my reviews for Book 1: Dragonsong, and Book 2: Dragonsinger.
A Brief Summary
The book opens three years after Dragonsinger, and finds Piemur’s splendid soprano beginning to crack as he is now in his teens. Consequently, he needs something else to do until his voice settles back. Master Robinton, head of the Harper Hall, decides to send sociable Piemur to the isolated Drum Heights.
His intention is to test sociable Piemur’s discretion and integrity, while also hoping he will learn an integral skill (drum beats are the equivalent of a very loud Morse code in Pern). After an unfortunate incident, Piemur completes his time at the Drum Heights and begins an all-together new adventure which involves travel and… going undercover!
Taking It As It Is
At this year’s Tucson Festival of Books, we attended a panel entitled, The Art of the Book Review, featuring two well known critics: Maureen Corrigan of Fresh Air fame and Louis Bayard, known for his recaps of Downton Abbey in the New York Times. In the panel, Corrigan talked about how book reviews ought to “take the book as it is,” rather than how the reviewer would have written the book. I have tried to keep that in mind while writing this review, but I really do wish that Dragondrums had continued Menolly’s journey.
As a reader, I became so invested in Menolly’s thoughts, feelings, and life purpose. She is still in Dragondrums, but she’s nearly just part of the background. Another book about Menolly would have really filled out the trilogy in the most beautiful way. That being said, Dragondrums was actually quite fun to read.
During Piemur’s new adventure, he revisits his earlier life as a herdsman’s boy, before he entered the Harper Hall. There is a particularly poignant scene near the end of the book involving a young herdbeast that nearly brought tears to my eyes. As always, Thread is a constant threat to life on Pern and Piemur has his own battle with Thread in Dragondrums.
With regard to length, the first book of the trilogy, Dragonsong is 208 pages, the second, Dragonsinger is 288, and the third, Dragondrums is 256. Dragondrums took me the longest to read because I just was not as into the book since it wasn’t about Menolly.
Dragonsinger is easily my favorite of the series and I highly recommend it! Happy Friday everyone!
The Lincoln Lawyer is the 16th book of Michael Connelly’s and is the first in the Lincoln Lawyer Series. The main character is Mickey Haller, a defense attorney in Los Angeles who works out of his car, a Lincoln, hence the name of the book.
Mickey is doing fairly well defending drug dealers, prostitutes and motorcycle gang members. One day, he gets a call to defend a man accused of attempting to rape and kill a prostitute. The defendant claims he is innocent, and thus we begin the journey of Mickey trying to defend his new client and get an acquittal.
Skeptical at First
This book was difficult for me to read for a couple reasons. My first and biggest reason for not immediately liking this book is that the defendant is not a likeable guy. From the beginning, you are very suspicious of him. He doesn’t seem trustworthy.
The second reason I had a hard time with this book is that in the beginning, the storytelling is very choppy and we are introduced to a lot of characters. Now, maybe I would have been able to keep track of who was who if I didn’t read it before going to sleep, but I’m not so sure. There are a lot of names and it became confusing.
I won’t spoil the ending, but for all my dislike of the first three-quarters of this book, in the end, I actually liked the Lincoln Lawyer. The ending was satisfying and brought all of the characters that Michael Connelly introduced along the way together.
This book was made into a movie in 2011 starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller and Ryan Phillippe as the defendant. I didn’t see the movie before reading, so I didn’t have any spoilers while reading the book. This fact made the ending all the better.
In our last dispatch, we went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and gorged ourselves on cheese. Next, we decided to drive over to the coast and walk along the beach.
There are lots and lots of little beach towns up and down the Oregon coast and they are linked by Highway 101. If you ever visit the Oregon coast, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association has a great website. Our first stop was Rockaway Beach.
Izzy loved running around the beach and she left these super cute paw prints in the sand before they were washed away by the waves.
The coolest feature of this beach was the Twin Rocks. This formation is 88 feet tall and the hole in the structure is 35 feet across. When you are standing on the beach it doesn’t look that big at all.
Izzy posing and smiling in front of the Twin Rocks.
After exploring this area, we jumped back into the car and drove up the coast to Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach also has some fantastic geological formations that were amazing to see. In the far distance, you can see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. This lighthouse was operational from 1881 to 1957 and was nicknamed “Terrible Tilly.” It is one of nine original lighthouses along the Oregon Coast, but it is closed to the public. Now, it is a nature wildlife refuge serving as a nesting area for common murres and cormorants.
Jockey Cap Rock surrounded by the ocean mist.
We were at Cannon Beach at sunset and it was incredible. We got to take in the waves and see all the birds flying to their nests.
Izzy really enjoyed her time at the beach running in an out of the waves. Her lolling tongue is pretty darn cute, isn’t it?
Last month, we announced our Etsy sticker boutique, Armadillo Amore. Today, we have another special announcement for all you sticker lovers! First, a question: what can you get for $1 these days? Answer: Our stickers!
For the rest of September, we are offering all of our sticker sheets for just $1 each! That’s 66% off our regular sheets and 75% off our large sheets. Furthermore, we will be adding new designs everyday for the rest of this month.
We design our stickers to be colorful, cute, and functional. In our shop, you will find Kawaii Reminders, Double Rainbow Boxes and Checklists, and Unique Embellishments to keep you organized. Remember that every order also comes with a FREEBIE! You can keep up with upcoming sales and new releases on Armadillo Amore’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, too.
All of our sticker sheets are printed using a professional printer and matte repositionable sticker paper. We have designed them to match Erin Condren LifePlanners (pictured above), but they will also work with other calendars, planners, and organizers. We are especially proud of our Day of the Dead Skulls, as they feature a hand drawn illustration done in colored pencil by Mac. Check out our stickers below!
Have a great idea for a sticker? Let us know below. Happy Wednesday everyone! ?
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour”
From Auguries of Innocence by William Blake
September has arrived and with September comes new television shows. This fall’s new show lineup looks promising, however, we are a bit wary of getting our hearts broken. There have been so many good shows that were cancelled after just one season, namely: Limitless, Forever, Backstrom, and American Odyssey. Here are seven new shows that look great to us, but we’ll try not to get too invested in, just in case the networks try to pull something evil on us.
Premieres Tuesday, September 20th at 9/8 on CBS.
We loved Michael Weatherly in NCIS and combine him with a legal drama should be excellent.
Premieres Wednesday, September 21st at 8:30/7:30 on ABC.
Minnie Driver was one of the first British actress we fell in love with. (Return to Me is sooo good, if you’re into Rom-Coms.) Mason Cook is one of the three children in the show, and we was very good in Legends (cancelled after 2 seasons on TNT). Micah Fowler is an actor who has Cerebral Palsy and is playing JJ in show, you can read more about him here.
Premieres Thursday, September 22nd at 9/8 on ABC.
We were so sad when Covert Affairs and Graceland were cancelled by USA. We became big fans of Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata. Now we can be happy again since they are in a show together.
Premieres Monday, October 3rd at 10/9 on ABC.
This show looks like it has a lot of drama but the supporting cast is why we will watch. We have got Eddie Cahill from CSI: NY, Merrin Dungey from Alias, and Manny Montana from Graceland.
5. The Good Place
Premieres Monday, September 19th at 10/9 on NBC.
Ted Danson has always been funny and a show about life after death should be intriguing. Also, the usage of substitute cuss words will always make us laugh.
6. American Housewife
Premieres Tuesday, October 11th at 8:30/9:30 on ABC.
Diedrich Bader is also always amazing, so just the fact that he is in this is show, will have us watching. Remember Rex Kwon Do from Napoleon Dynamite?
7. This is Us
Premieres Tuesday, September 20th at 10/9 on NBC.
This show looks like a study of people and that is always interesting to lifelong people watchers. One of the stars is Sterling K. Brown, who we fell in love with in as Roland Burton on Army Wives (another awesome show that was cancelled).
What new show are you excited for?
The Great British Bake Off (or as it is known in the US, the Great British Baking Show) is an amazing television show. If you are unfamiliar, you might have guessed it is all about baking. In the US, it is shown on PBS and depending on where you live, you may have already seen series 6, are currently watch series 6, or your local PBS station hasn’t shown it yet. Our station just started showing it last week.
We started watching the show in 2013 after hearing about it in an interview with Tom Mison who was getting ready to star in Sleepy Hollow (another of our favorite shows). Immediately, we fell in love with GBBO as we increased our tea consumption and learned many new words not frequently used in the US such as courgette, sultanas, Stilton, and caster sugar.
Each series, or season as we call it in the US, has 10-13 contestants from all over the United Kingdom who are home bakers. Each episode consists of a Signature Challenge, Technical Challenge and Showstopper Challenge. The contestants know what the Signature Challenge and Showstopper Challenge will be prior to the weekend that they congregate in the tent. Contestants can practice and perfect it by baking it several times during the week, while the Technical Challenge is an unknown recipe chosen by one of the judges.
What Makes It Special
The Great British Bake Off is unlike any American competitive cooking show. The typical formula for an American competitive cooking show involves one part drama, one part backstabbing and one part acting. In this amazing show, the only drama comes from you sitting at home, crossing your fingers hoping the bakes come out just right. There is no backstabbing or acting, though there was a little thing called #bingate back in 2014. (We should also mention that there was an attempt at an American equivalent called The American Baking Competition, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, which only lasted one season in 2013. It was not as good.)
Paul Hollywood is the dark and mysterious judge. You can’t tell what he is thinking behind the steel blue eyes; this makes the contestants cringe and makes us laugh. Mary Berry is the other judge that is like an eclectic grandma; you aren’t entirely sure what she is going to say and likes to drop some innuendos every once and awhile.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) September 7, 2016
The hosts, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, are hilarious. We discovered, after some internet research, that they met while going to Cambridge and have been working together for over 20 years. This long time partnership is evident when they play off each other. They are also very punny, which is totally our kind of humor.
Yesterday, we saw that the BBC lost the rights to air the series after the current series 7. This news struck fear into our hearts but Love Productions, the company that makes the show, has apparently signed a three year deal with Channel 4. Phew! This article also says that the first show on the new channel will be a celebrity edition, which sounds intriguing. We just hope that PBS will continue to air our beloved GBBO!
Mac’s new favorite song is Golden by Ruth B (21 years old from Edmonton, Alberta). It’s a quieter tune with a message of inner strength and self-confidence, which always appeals to Mac in a song. Ruth B also sings Lost Boy, an excellent song about Peter Pan which you may have heard before.
Interestingly, both singers are Cancers, with Alessia being born July 11 and Ruth born on July 2.
This tasty Greek condiment can be used as a delicious dip for veggies or a piece of pita. It can also be used as a condiment to your choice of meat. The base of this sauce is Greek yogurt, which is quite popular nowadays. You can use your favorite brand whether that may be Oikos, Fage or Greek Gods, just make sure it is plain instead of flavored.
We have tried making this with full fat and low fat yogurt and have not really noticed a difference in taste. Some Greek yogurts are really thick and some are thin. This consistency will impact the texture of your tzatziki. The kind we use, Greek Gods, is very thick and therefore the tzatziki is thick and we like it that way. If you want your sauce to be thinner, use a thinner yogurt.
This mix of cool, tangy yogurt, garlic, cucumber and dill goes great with Chicken Souvlaki, which we have previously posted our recipe. We recently grilled up some steaks and the tzatziki was great with it also.
All the ingredients needed for the tasty tzatziki. When I was gathering up the ingredients, I accidentally grabbed dill seed instead of dried dill weed. Don’t make the same mistake! Luckily, I realized it before adding it to the mix it, the sauce would have been extra crunchy and not taste very good. ?
Cut the cucumber in half, scrape out the seeds.
Then shred the cucumber and squeeze well to remove extra liquid.
Add in the remaining ingredients. If you can get fresh dill you can use 2 tablespoons finely diced instead of dried dill. We have tried both fresh and dried and both are very tasty, however we can’t always get fresh dill at our grocery stores.
Mix and wait 4 hours.