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June 29, 2010

Book 12: Inside The Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin

I noticed that Life of a Doctor's Wife gave a good rating to Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia by Carmen Bin Ladin on Goodreads and was immediately intrigued.  Carmen Bin Ladin is the ex wife of Yeslam Bin Ladin, one of the many siblings of Osama Bin Laden (and yes, the spellings are different). While her interactions with Osama were few during the time she spent in Saudi Arabia, the few she did have were chilling and depicts a man so devout in his religious beliefs that he is blinded to the world he is living in.

While the intrigue of the book definitely comes because of her former relation to Osama, the book isn't really about him at all.  Instead, it tells the story of her life growing up in Switzerland, marrying Yeslam, and moving to the United States for school.  It wasn't until many years later that Yeslam decided it was time to move the family back to Saudi Arabia where he would take his place managing the Bin Laden construction company, a very powerful and influential corporation in Saudi Arabia. 

The story Carmen tells about her Saudi life is fascinating and sometimes disturbing.  She was never allowed to leave her home without her traditional veil, she could not speak to any men except her husband in public, and she was not allowed to leave the country without her husband's permission.  The book is unique since Carmen was not born into the prohibitive society, thus her transition into this hidden world is both tortured and difficult. In many ways Carmen was lucky because her husband was much more Western then most of the men in Saudi Arabia. Yet over time her husband becomes more detached.  It wasn't until her three daughters started to grow up that she realized she could not subject her girls to the life they would have in Saudi Arabia.  At the end of the book she discusses the difficulty of divorcing Yeslam and how she got her family out of the country. 

The book is a fast read with short chapters.  It was interesting, and I definitely enjoyed reading it. Its not an epic page turner but its not a bore either. 

Make sure to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted.


June 28, 2010

Blogging Boundries

This past weekend was consumed with celebrating my childhood best friend's wedding.  I sat down to post pictures that I took of the weekend, but after some consideration I have decided against it.  There are too many pictures of people I don't know, plus it is not my wedding so I don't know that it is appropriate for me to start featuring photos without the bride looking at them first.  This got me thinking a lot about blogging boundaries.

When I first started this blog I was very open and posted lots of pictures and wrote about whatever I felt like because, quite simply, very few people read it.  I never sat down and thought about what my blogging boundaries were going to be, but I definitely should have. Over time I have noticed that I have subconsciously become increasingly more private, and have developed a strict set of rules that I always try to blog by: 

(1.) I try to never post pictures of people unless I get their permission first (the only exception to that has been my wedding photos).  I know with the rise of Facebook and other social networking sites pictures are posted freely with no concern for those who are in them, but I try to be more courteous.  If I had a picture I hated of myself and someone posted it on their blog for all the world to see I would be angry.  I have just decided to abide by the golden rule on this one and avoid it.

(2.) I will never, ever blog about work. No stories about work, no disclosing where I work, nothing. It is my personal opinion that you play with fire if you start blogging about your job, even if you don't say anything that is bad.  Employers don't look fondly on it and it is not worth the risk.  The Internet is far smaller then we think it is.

(3.) I wont write anything mean on this blog about anybody I know in real life.  I might say I don't like Angelina Jolie's choice of dress at some award show, but that is about as snarky as it is going to get around here. 

(4.)  I try to stay away from topics that are too controversial.  In the beginning, I wrote a lot about politics, but I have since decided that those opinions are better left around the dinner table and for op ed pieces in the newspaper.  This isn't a blog about politics, and quite frankly my opinions on issues change and I don't know if its a smart decision for me to have them immortalized on the Internet for all to see.  Also, I have unfollowed many blogs that get too political and get my blood boiling.  I don't want anybody to not read my blog because of something as silly as a political disagreement.  I would much rather keep things fun, simple, and non-controversial. 

(5.) I don't publish or respond to mean comments or emails.  I am lucky, because I have received very few since I started this blog, but there are some people who are just cranky and like to take it out on others from behind a computer screen.  I have no respect for it, and I have desire to respond to it. I love the positive friendships and connections that come with blogging and there is no need to ruin it by obsessing over nasty comments from people I have never met. Thus, I chose to just ignore them.

(6.) I never use last names.  I learned that the hard way when I once googled myself and was shocked when I saw that you could find links to my blog and other websites where I had freely used my name and not even considered the "google" ramifications.  I have since cleaned it up but it was something I never even thought about when I started blogging.

It is sometimes hard to abide by these rules because I want to share funny stories or great photos, but I think it is important to have limits and be very careful with what you put out there on the Internet.   

I was curious what other rules people follow when it comes to their blog.  
Is your blog an open book, or do you censor yourself?


June 22, 2010

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

-2, 10 ounce cans of chopped clams  (I could not find 10 ounce cans, so I used 4 6.something ounce cans and it worked great.)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp. parsley
-2 tbsp. butter
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-3/4 cup white wine
-3/4 cup heavy cream
-Juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 lb. linguine.
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pepper

1.  Cook pasta

2. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in pan. Add clams and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.

3. Add wine and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add butter until melted.

4. Lower heat and add lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, and heavy cream. Cook until warmed all the way through.

3. Pour over pasta and mix.  Add lemon slices for garnish

A-MAZ-ING! We loved it.  Plus it was super easy. You must try! Dan said it was his favorite pasta dish I have made.


Banana Bread

Recipe Adapted Via

-2 cups all purpose flour 
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup butter
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-2 beaten eggs
-2 1/3 cup overripe mashed bananas
-1 tsp. cinnamon (optional...but really? Why would you say no?) 
-chocolate chips to taste (optional...but I suggest lots...I wish I had added lots!)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Lightly grease 9x5 baking pan

3. In a medium mixing bowl cream butter and brown sugar. Stir in egg and mashed banana. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and stir all together just to moisten- don't over stir! Place mixture into baking pan.

4. Bake in oven for 65-70 minutes. Make sure its cooked all the way through by using a knife or toothpick. Let sit in pan for 10 minutes then move to wire rack.

I think bananas taste like baby food...and banana bread not so surprisingly tastes like baby food in bread form.  However, if you like banana bread you will like this recipe (it got 4 1/2 stars!) and Dan liked it...and he's my guinea there you go.



Remember these little suckers from 11 days ago?

Look how they have grown! 

Hooray! I am not a plant killer! (yet...)


June 20, 2010

Book 11: The Other Woman by Jane Green

I just finished "The Other Woman" by Jane Green. I would not recommend this book.

See? I don't like every book I read!

Listen, I knew what I was getting into when I picked up the book.  Do you see the cover?  Total cheese ball.  I have a high tolerance for trashy beach reads, but this one went far.  The main character was crazy.  There were way too many supporting characters.  The storyline made no sense yet was completely predictable. The only reason I was able to finish was because Dan picked up The Hunger Games this weekend and has not put it down once (See? Its that good! Dan has not read a book for pleasure for as long as I have known him, unless you could boring Supreme Court biographies). Thus, I had a lot of time on my hands this weekend so I forced myself to finish despite the fact that it was a bit of a snorefest.

Not sure what I am reading next....don't forget to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted.


Happy Father's Day

“A father is a fellow who has replaced the currency in his wallet with the snapshots of his kids.”


June 17, 2010

Book 9 and 10: "The Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins

My best friend's Mom is a school librarian and a couple months ago we were in a salon while my BF was trying wedding hairstyles and she told me about the Hunger Games. The series is a trilogy, the first being The Hunger Games, the second being Catching Fire, and the third being Mockingjay (which has yet to be released). She said that they were one of the best books she had read in a long time, which I have to assume is a solid recommendation since she is a librarian. Soon after my friend said the same thing- just raving about them.

So I wrote the name down in my planner and promptly forgot about it. To be honest, the description of the books sounded a bit odd to me. A fictional future world with 12 districts. An annual competition where they throw children from the ages of 12-18 into an arena and make them battle to the death while everybody watches on live television. I don't know...the concept sounded weird and I wasn't sure if these books would be for me.

It wasn't until I was talking to my Mom on the phone that I mentioned the books and she said "Your Dad and brothers read those books, they really liked them."  At which point I asked her if she would send them to me.  I received them in the mail last Friday and had both books completed by Wednesday.  Reading these books truly was an amazing, page turning, heart racing experience.  I cannot suggest them enough.

The Hunger Games begins in the Panem, a futuristic place in North America after the fall of civilization.  There is the capital, and then 12 districts that each have different trade that makes them valuable.  Katniss grows up in District 12 where they mine coal, a particularly poor district where everybody is struggling to survive.  The book starts on the day of the reaping, where a boy and a girl from every district are picked to compete in The Hunger Games, a cruel "fight to the death" event that is meant to symbolize that the capital controls the districts and they should never rebel.

When Katniss's little sister Prim gets picked in the reaping, she bravely steps forward to take her place and is escorted to the capital with the boy tribute, Peta, to prepare for the games.  The world that Suzanne Collins creates is magical.  I hesitate to say this- but I have not fell in love with such a fictional world since Harry Potter.  While this book ISN'T Harry Potter (so if you don't like Harry Potter, don't think you wont like Hunger Games), the experience (for me) was very similar.  My pages turned constantly, I could not put it down, it was a magical experience.

I love all the characters dearly.  I love that Katniss is strong and smart, but vulnerable at the same time.  I feel in love with Peta for Katniss but I totally understand why she is torn between both Peta and Gail.  The storyline with Rue had me in tears. The games were terrifying and horrific, but at the same time I understood why they were so captivating to the public. When I shut it I didn't know how the second book in the series would ever live up to the first.

But it did.  Catching Fire was just as good, just as terrifying, just as well written.  I can't say too much because I don't want to give anything away...but I will just say that I cannot WAIT for Mockingjay to come out on August 24, 2010.

Read it, read it, read it - you wont be disappointed.

...I am still trying to get through "The Other Woman" by Jane Green which I put on hold while reading these books.  Anybody read anything good recently? 

Don't forget to friend me on Goodreads! My user name is DuolyNoted.

June 16, 2010

The True Art of Laughing Out Loud

Are you having a bad day?

I have something that is going to make it SO MUCH BETTER.

So I am thumbing through some random clothing catalog we got in the mail the other day.  I got to page 1, 2, 3, and on to 22. Then I turn to 23 and WHAM.

It took me a moment to register this simple ad for a silk nightshirts..


You know. I didn't major in marketing in college. Nor do I want to judge what other people sleep in...but was this really the best ad they could think of? Do you think in the board room they were like "These silk night shirts would look amazing on women AND men!!!"

Or maybe it would be just a great ad for someone like me to publicly mock? 

I now have it posted on my fridge, because every time I walk past it I laugh out loud.


June 15, 2010

365 Project 5/11-6/11

Here are some selections from the last 30 days of my Project 365:

May 11
I am stubborn...and cheap...and starting in May it began to get crazy hot and humid around these parts, but I was determined to last as long as possible without turning on the air conditioner.  This resulted in me carrying around the box fan wherever I went in the house and Kadira doing everything in her power to lay where the breeze would the coolest. I have since relented and the air conditioning is on 24/7.

May 15
I know I already posted this photo on my blog once before, but I love it so much I felt like it warranted a Round 2.

May 22
The park we always take the dogs to was covered with Blue Bonnets at the beginning of the month, and then all of a sudden they turned into this red and yellow flower- is that normal?

May 28
Single Girl Sushi, that's what I call it when Dan's out of town and I order sushi exactly how I want it.  I got this dragon roll for at a local grocery store's sushi bar and EVERY BITE tasted like heaven.  I really don't eat sushi as often as I should.

 May 31
Roses are my favorite flower, and Dan brought home the must summery bunch he could find.  I know it is really cliche to have your favorite flower be a rose, but you can't help what you enjoy, right? It totally made my day.  It is always nice to have the house smelling of roses.

June 9 
My friend and I were recently engaging in a "pity party" discussion, talking about everything sucks and blah, blah, wah, wah.  We are normally a rather chipper, but times are tough - ya know?  I don't know whether it is just being in our 20's or the economy crashing or both...but life seems so difficult for everybody right about now.  That is why when I found this card I promptly sent it to her, because it is so true.

To see the photos from 3/11 - 4/11 go HERE
To see the photos from 4-11 - 5/11 go HERE.


June 13, 2010

Sunday Post

Head on over to Seven Dames a Week to read my Sunday Post "A Rant," because I am in a feisty mood and because some dog owners seriously need to get a grip...


June 11, 2010

{Almost} Open for Business

Last Thanksgiving I had a conversation with my Mother-in-Law about about the absurd price of fresh basil. I had just started cooking things that weren't frozen from a box, and the price of fresh basil was just shocking to me. I told her that I planned on growing my own herbs and selling them in a stand by the side of the road and becoming a millionaire by charging an absurd price for basil.  She was thrilled because this is what every Mom wishes for her son, that he will marry a crazy women who wants to sell herbs by the side of the road.

When Dan came home from visiting his parents a couple weeks ago he brought me a gift from his Mom, a herb growing kit to start my roadside business! Or at least for me to grow some herbs for myself and avoid paying the grocery store price. So exciting! (Thank you!)

This kit was truly amazing.  For example, it grows it's own dirt.  I started out with these these two little pellets....

Then I just added water and voila! Instant soil!

I am so excited to have my own kitchen grown herbs...but I am trying not to get too far ahead of myself as I have a history with plants that is not exactly promising.  I have a very Lenny-esque tendency of loving them too much and over watering or burning them in the sun.  I will keep you updated (because I am sure you are all just on the EDGE OF YOUR SEAT to see how this basil plant turns out).  Until then I am keeping a running list of all the wonderful new recipes I can season with my fresh herbs.


June 10, 2010

How to Fight a Nuclear Furball

Kadira's favorite past time is to shed. She likes it more then chewing up books or jumping on me and running her claws down my back. She likes it because she can do it 24/7, even when she's sleeping.  As a result I am waging a constant war against the little plumes of Kadira dog hair that like to pop up all over the house.

The good news is that before we got a German Shepherd we knew that she was going to shed like crazy, especially during the summer. I can't handle dog hair, so I knew that we were going to have to accumulate a large dog hair fighting arsenal. I thought I would feature some of the items that are, in my opinion, a must-have for all of you out there who are the proud owners of nuclear fur balls.*

Bissel Pet Eraser Vacuum

I love to vacuum. Love it. As far as chores go, it is my favorite (or rather, the one I loath the least) and it is a good thing too because I have to vacuum A LOT.  One of the things we did with our wedding money was buy a new vacuum. While I have grandiose dreams of owning a Dyson Ball (because I am a total sucker for infomercials), the Dyson Ball is pretty expensive! Plus we are really hard on our vacuums and didn't want to invest in something we would have destroyed in a matter of months. Instead we went with the Pet Eraser from Bissel and I could not be happier. It is completely designed to suck up dog hair, and is really easy to clean and unclog if necessary.  The only thing I don't care for is the extensions, which don't have a ton of suction power, but the pros of this little vacuum totally outweigh the cons.

It runs $149.99 on their website and at Target. It's $118 at Walmart, if you enjoy supporting the devil (I am not judging, I support the devil more then I care to admit).

Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Cyclonic Hand Vacuum 

One thing that drives me nuts is dirty stairs.  For the longest time we could not find a vacuum that would adequately clean our stairs, until we found the Shark.  It is cordless, so you have to charge it, but it does have a pretty long battery life and when fully charged it carries the power of a cyclone.  I am not kidding.  I could probably suck up Toby with this thing, which is metaphorically what I am looking for because our stairs can get really dirty.  It is $40 at Target and $35 at Walmart.

Woolite Rug Stick

I would like to take this moment to give Woolite's advertising agency a big round of a applause (clap, clap, clap, clap).  Late one night I saw a much longer infomercial version of the above video clip and went out and bought it the next morning.  Surprisingly, I love it (because really, when do infomercial products actually work?). It has been great for cleaning bits of the carpet that get too dirty.  The brush is the key, and it is so inexpensive (around $15?) so it is totally worth it.

What pet cleaning products do you swear by?

*I was not asked to promote any of these products.


June 8, 2010


This week on Seven Dames a Week I blogged about our quite Saturday evening doing a puzzle and drinking some red wine that somehow turned into a total psychotic obsession.

The border is supposed to be the easiest part, right? Not in this stupid puzzle, every single border piece was the same color. This part of the puzzle did not get finished until midday Sunday.

After working on the puzzle for 24 hours, only stopping to sleep, Sunday evening we were still not finished.

Dan made me promise not to work on the puzzle without him on Monday.  Which I didn't.  Okay maybe I did a little, but he totally didn't notice.

At 10:30 last night we finally finish, expecting to feel some huge sense of completion and accomplishment.  But oh wait, what is that?  A missing piece? 

We both look over to the corner where Kadira is making a weird slurping sound. Right on cue she spits out the puzzle piece and looks at us like "What?"


June 6, 2010

Sunday Post

Head on over to Seven Dames a Week and read about my newest obsession...


June 4, 2010

Friday in Five (The "Killing Me" Edition)

1. I am not allowing myself to buy anything that cannot in turn be used in a work wardrobe, but oh how I want to buy THIS dress for a rehearsal dinner I am going to this month. Plus it is on sale! The universe is KILLING ME.

2. It is supposed to get into the triple digits this weekend, at the beginning of June. Before moving here June was always my happy month, filled with a cool 80 degree temperature and laying out by the pool.  Now June is killing me.  This kind  of weather was meant for vacation, not for every day living.  My hair will be in a ponytail for the next three months because I cannot stand the thought of anything touching the back of my neck.  In an effort to tricking my body into cooling off I have been longingly gazing at images from Spowpocalype (read "Did I Move to Alaska In My Sleep?").

3.  Last night was the season finale of Real Housewives of New York.  I am very sad about the ending of this seasons because the NY girls are definitely my favorite and next season is not going to be the same because I have heard rumors that Bethenny and Alex are no more.  Yet all is not lost because not only is the reunion show coming up (have you seen Kelly Crazy's PSA? Or the Countess's new music video?) but also my favorite real housewife, Bethenny Frankel, is getting her own show Bethenny Getting Married. Sigh. My summer has been saved.

4. The Lakers are killing me.  KILLING ME. I am so sick of NBA basketball taking up my evenings, they have the longest post season ever.  I don't even mind watching basketball but enough is enough.  I normally root for the Lakers to go out early but now I just hope that they kill Boston in 4 easy games so I can have my TV back.

5. THESE images of birds on the Gulf Coast have been haunting me for the last 24 hours. So upsetting.


June 2, 2010

Book 8: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

This weekend Dan went out of town, which was perfect timing because I finally sat down to read "Heart of the Matter" by Emily Giffin.  I discovered Giffin over a year ago and blazed through her previous four books rather quickly (read about them HEREHERE, and HERE).  I follow her on twitter and facebook which is how I found out that she was coming to Dallas yesterday. I was really excited to have the chance to hear her speak and determined to finish her newest book beforehand.

The book itself was great- although not a far departure from her other four books.  Giffin's books are always about relationships and flawed characters, but what sets her apart from other authors is her writing style and character development.  The books are unique from other "chick lit" because rarely is the protagonist your typical, likable character.  Often they are tortured and making very bad decisions, which is why all her books are such page turners. 

The book signing event was really fun.  Giffin is ridiculously petite and incredibly pretty.  She was rocking one hell of an outfit and some killer Louboutins. She spoke for a little under a half hour, talking a bit about her inspiration for "The Heart of the Matter" and "Something Borrowed", which is currently being turned into a feature film starring Kate Hudson. She was an engaging speaker, poking fun at the few boys who were in the crowd and graciously answering everybody's questions.  I had gone early to get my ticket to the event and thank God because I was probably 40th in line and there was a good 200 people behind me. 

If you haven't read Giffin before I recommend starting with Something Borrowed, then Something Blue (the sequel).  The other three (Love the One You're With, Baby Proof, and Heart of the Matter) you can read out of order of publication. up is "The Other Woman" by Jane Green that I picked up yesterday at Half Price Books while I wait for some new ones to be shipped to me.
Don't forget to friend me on Goodreads! My username is DuolyNoted.



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