Month: September 2013

Books of the Week: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

*This Post Contains Spoilers for those who have not read the books*

This week I have read Catching Fire and Mockingjay By Suzanne Collins.

Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy. At the end of the Hunger Games after Peeta and Katniss act the part of the Star Crossed Lovers from District Twelve and pull the night lock berries, so that they either both win or both die, and they win the games. In Catching Fire we pick back up with them a few months later for the beginning of the Victory Tour, where they are paraded through the districts and the capitol to remind the citizens of the games. During the period between the welcome home ceremonies and the Victory Tour Katniss and Peeta essentially go back to not being lovers, and Katniss is cold toward Peeta. She really doesn’t want to be with him here, and is a bit forced into it, as means to have kept them both alive in the Arena. During the Victory tour Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch see first hand that rebellions are taking place, and that the young “lovers” are just fuel for the fire. It is also during the Victory Tour that It becomes clear to Katniss with a little help from Haymitch that as much as she would rather marry Gale, she is going to have to marry Peeta, as the price she has to pay for keeping him alive in the arena. As much as she would have rather been with Gale, there is no chance for her to be with him now, as she has to keep up the Star Crossed Lovers from District Twelve fron

It is in the first half of the Catching Fire that the idea that District 13 may still exist, which Katniss finds out is in fact the truth by the end of the book. It is also where the rebellion really starts to take root, especially with the 75th hunger games requiring victors to go back into the arena. It outrages at least the capitol’s citizens even more to think that Katniss is going back into the arena having been secretly married to Peeta, and is pregnant.

Mockingjay, which is the last of the three books in the trilogy. The first half of the book really focuses on Katniss and Gale’s relationship. Here, she is able to better realized what Gale means to her, and where he fits in with her life. They like each other, but between Peeta’s captivity in the Capitol, and keeping up the idea that Katniss lost the baby when she blew out the force field in the arena, and for those in the capitol and the districts keeping up the idea that Katniss is still in love with Peeta and has to deal with his capture by the Capitol and having “lost the baby” when there really was no baby.

Being in thirteen, is a huge adjustment for those from district twelve, especially Gale and Katniss who are used to taking care of their families, and they are not used to being told how to manage the resources they have. Throughout the first half of the book, Katniss is stays in a pretty much constant state of anger with Gale, and other officials in 13, because they keep lying to her, because “they are afraid they will make her sick” or rather so that she will continue to go alone with their plans and do what they want her to do, and for a victor of the Hunger Games, and having had to go into two different areas, for two different games, seeing Cinna be beaten to a pulp right in front of her, and dealing with everything surrounding Peeta, and the whole using her against her knowledge for the rebelling, I can’t blame her for being angry about constantly being lied to.

Katniss is eventually able to make it to the Capitol, where she leads her group essentially on the mission to kill President Snow, and she witnesses her little sister Prim, who she volunteered for in the first hunger games to keep her safe, die, which drives her forward. When it comes time to kill snow, she kills Coin, the President of 13 instead, and in the mean time Snow dies as well. Katniss is then tried, for killing Coin, and her punishment is to be sent back to twelve. Her mother says in district 4, and Gale goes to 2, so she is left in 12 with Peeta (who through Real or Not Real, has been able to learn how to deal with the trauma that was inflicted on him by the capitol) and Haymitch. She eventually marries Peeta and has two kids, and the Hunger Games is a thing of the past.

These books were good, and definitely worth reading over several times, and find things I missed in other read throughs. I would highly recommend them.

Till the Storm Passes By

Hi Everyone!

If you regularly read my blog, and have not yet liked my facebook page, I would highly recommend doing so to stay in the loop, and to get great ideas, and recipes.

It is a blustery fall day outside, which means it is a perfect day to spend inside with my knitting, and a nice warm house.

The last couple of days have been really busy, and I was exhausted last night. I know I haven’t gotten my Book of the Week post up yet, for this week, I will hopefully have that up by the end of tomorrow, and be back to my normal schedule.

I finally found a good dairy free, yet not gluten free white bread, at Bob’s Red Mill. I love that store, They have lots of stone ground flours, meals and a large variety of Gluten Free flours and mixes. It is also a great place to find Vegan and Dairy Free breads, which makes my life easier.

This afternoon, I spent most of the afternoon baking M & M Cookies (Chocolate Chip Cookies with M & M’s instead of Chocolate Chips), helping make a tasty Veggie Soup with Ham, and mixing up snickerdoodles that will be baked tomorrow.  There is definitely something to cooking a pot of homemade soup on the stove, and baking homemade cookies from scratch that is comforting on cold, rainy, windy days such as today, and I love the smells that come with it, and it totally smells of fall and winter.

The M & M cookies are for my brother, Beings that the M & M’s have Dairy in them. Being on a 100% dairy free diet is not easy, and once in a while I do intentionally a small amount of something with dairy in it, such as M & M’s, just because they are good, and I know what they taste like. I know I shouldn’t, because of how I will feel later, but if any of you who have developed food intolerances in adulthood know, that it is hard to give up all the foods that you enjoyed.  At least the snickerdoodles are dairy free, so I will be able to enjoy a couple.

More Visits with Cousins

One of my cousins, who I grew up knowing, and spend time around, when her family would come to the states, or when we would go up to Canada and visit them. She recently just got back from a long trip abroad. Fortunately she made it back to North America safe and sound. 

I went out and picked her up from her cousin’s house, where she is staying, and brought her in to where we usually go shopping when she and/or her mother are in town, and we went shopping. We stopped first at the place that sells a lot of stone ground, better for you grains, as well as having a large selection of Gluten Free Items, beings that my cousin has to do Gluten Free, but I love their products as well. 

We stopped at old navy, and I got a new white button down shirt, that is really pretty, that I will be able to wear for several occasions, including but not limited to the wedding of another one of my cousins in a couple of weeks. We also went over to the mall, and did some shopping there, as well as getting coffee at the Nordstrom Espresso Bar. Of the coffee places at the mall, I like this place, because they have almond milk in addition to Soy and Regular Milk. I cannot drink regular milk, and I try to avoid soy as much as possible, for personal reasons. A stop at the Bath and Body Works was also in order for the day, especially since they still have their fall fragrances in stock. I love this time of year and the fragrances that are out. 

We also had dinner with my brother this even so we could all spend some time with my cousin before she heads back home, and things get crazy. At least I will get to see her again in a couple of weeks. 

A Day at the Zoo

Hi Everyone! 

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< This is Riley, he is a giraffe who is on loan to the Oregon Zoo, while his enclosure at Utah’s Hogle Zoo is being remodeled. 

Yeah, so I went to the zoo today. I can remember going as a kid, and only have been to a zoo period now a handful of times over the last decade. 

I got to spend the day wandering around the zoo with one of my best friends getting to see all the different animals, most of which were on exhibit, and active. Neka the lioness and her new cubs were definitely still off exhibit, but at least I got to see Lily, the baby elephant and the baby monkey. I totally understand the who arguement for not holding animals in captivity, but how else would many other would get up close and personal with animals they would not otherwise see.

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 It also inspires some to keep dreaming that one day, they could go to Kruger National Park in South Africa, and see these animals in the wild. 

Getting out, and going and doing stuff with friends has really helped me since I graduated from college. In College, all I did was study, and write papers and so on and so forth. 

Zoo Day

I haven’t been to the Oregon Zoo during the day, while being able to take my time and see all the exhibits in years. 

ImageBeings that my friend works at the zoo, She knew her way around really well without a map and I just followed her. It took us a good three hours to go see all the exhibits that are open. My favorite was the Giraffe’s, but enjoyed seeing it all. It had been ten years since I had seen lions and tigers in the zoo, and that was while at the San Diego zoo, the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit is a relatively new exhibit at the Oregon Zoo. The Giraffe you see to your left is Riley, who is on loan to the the Oregon Zoo from Utah’s Hogle Zoo, because they are renovating his enclosure. Seeing Riley, the other giraffes, the Lions, tigers, and Cheetahs, has greater instilled in me, the desire to go and see the wild counter parts to these animals, in their natural habitats. You don’t get to see all the animals when you go for zoo lights or as a chaperon with several classes of first graders. A lot has changed since I went with the class of first graders I volunteered with, a little over  7 years ago. Spending the afternoon outside, was so nice. It was perfect, cool enough to need a sweatshirt, but it was dry. 

Keep Pressing Toward the Mark

I am one who tries to stay positive, especially about my job situation, on the outside, but having spent the last 3.5 years looking for a job, beginning back before I graduated from college, and having at most 6 weeks of work at one time is discouraging. I went to college to get an education, and try to make a better life for myself. Yet here I am, more than three years after I graduated from college, living in poverty. I am fully aware that I am one of millions of Americans who are in a similar situation as I am, and now we are facing Obamacare, which is really not helping anyone at this point, only making the situation worse for millions of Americans such as myself.

The whole unemployment situation has a lot to do with why I have become so passionate about knitting items for kids in need, mainly because I have had the time, and even with having projects to work on, I am still very bored and would like to be working. When people ask me what kinds of jobs I am looking for, I tell them that I am looking for just about anything that I could conceivably do with a Bachelors of Science Degree, in Social Science (mainly History with a bit of Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Geography and Political Science). 

What I don’t often talk about with anyone outside of my close group of friends is that I want to work with knitting/crochet groups either in an geographical area, or at a retreat center through crafting conferences, talking to them about the projects that are out there, to benefit children in need, and support our troops, and makes sure they have the patterns, and know where to send their completed projects, and so on and so forth. I love knitting, and using that knowledge, to help children in need, especially here in our own country, as well as supporting our troops. 

I know what it is like to have to live in poverty, and I have hated it, but I can’t imagine what it is like for children who live in generational poverty, and are not likely to even graduate high school. 

What I Ate Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

Over the last few years, I have really been trying to eat better and lose some weight, as I had hit my highest weight ever while in college, and at the time in many ways I just didn’t care. After I graduated I did start caring more, and then when I went dairy free, I saw even more of an improvement.

This Morning for breakfast I had some of the apple rhubarb crisp I had made over the weekend with a serving of brown and serve turkey sausages, and a mug of coffee.

This afternoon I had my usual afternoon cup of coffee, before having dinner a few hours later. For dinner I had a salad, taco meat, a couple pan grilled tortillas, a bottle of water and a plate of fruit for dessert.