Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Day in the Life

It’s been brought to my attention (ahem!) that I haven’t been updating this blog enough. Since non-updated blogs are a particular peeve of mine on other sites (note to self to put that on the next list of peeves), I shall try to rectify the situation. However, when you read (or rather sleep) your way through what my daily life is like, you’ll understand why I haven’t been updating more frequently.

Friday, August 25, 2006
Work all day at new job.
4 PM start wondering what to do with myself on a Friday night since the kidlet will not be home.
4:45 remember that South Coast Plaza is only minutes away and will allow me to miss the festival of fun that is Friday night rush hour on the 405.
5 PM – 7:30 PM spend way too much money buying clothes that I won’t wear for dates I don’t have even though I only went there to pick up one shirt at Coldwater Creek. See “The Container Store” as I’m leaving the main mall and remember that my makeup desperately needs to be organized and that I haven’t been able to find makeup organizers at Target. Spend an hour in the store just enjoying all the organizational possibilities that I will never get around to using. Find the perfect makeup organizers and gleefully cart them home.
7:30-8 PM drive home. At home, walk by kidlet’s room, notice how empty and quiet it is and get sad and teary. Try to call kidlet at ex’s house. Get voicemail.
8-8:30 PM Eat energy bar and water for dinner – I live the high life, I tell ya!
8:30-10 PM Waste time on, blogging and bead websites. Discover ex’s profile on Resist urge to throw up (despite brief consideration that it will help in the weight dept.).
10 PM-12 AM Waste time watching shows I DVR’d during the week. “What Not to Wear” is a re-run specializing in pregnant and post-pregnant women. Be reminded that I cannot have any more children. Great.

Saturday, August 26, 2006
8 AM get up, eat breakfast and start load of laundry.
8:15 AM realize that wet laundry from last weekend never made it out of washing machine into dryer and is now funkifying the inside of the washing machine. Re-wash entire load w/ extra chemicals to combat the funk.
9 AM begin endless round of phone calls coordinating family visit later in the day. In between calls, review wardrobe for items that are now too big but still have tags on and can be returned to stores. Organize items into appropriate piles by store and match up receipts. Congratulate myself on having organized my receipts last month so that I can actually FIND them now.
11 AM finish phone calls.
11:05 AM first of family arrives.
12 PM pick up lunch at Subway (hey, do you SEE how busy my schedule is? no time for cooking, people!)
2:30 PM family leaves. Debate whether to take a nap and then remember that I’m out of milk, I need a bottle of wine for the party I’m going to tonight, and the kidlet needs socks. Realize that if I run the errands REALLY fast that I’ll still have time for a pedicure before going to the gym.
2:30-4 PM Go to Old Navy to take advantage of the 8 for $10 deal on children’s socks. While there, remember that the denim jacket I bought at Target last month is going back to the store because it’s too big and therefore I am denim-jacketless and notice that there three or four cute styles of denim jackets at Old Navy. Waste 30 minutes trying them on and realizing that I am too old to shop at Old Navy for myself. Get Ryan’s socks and slink out of store wishing I had the figure to pull off “skinny jeans.” Start to head for nail salon and then realize that I will not be able to put on socks and gym shoes to work out on top of a fresh pedicure. Cancel pedicure idea and go to grocery store instead. Buy milk, wine, “People” magazine to read at the gym, and some snack type thingies for kidlet’s lunches during the week. Waste time in the self-checkout line behind idiots who don’t know how to use the machines before finally giving up and going to wait in a regular checkout line. Go to bank to deposit paycheck. Am now 30 minutes late to get to the gym.

4-4:30 PM Race home, change into sweats and start to head out the door. Phone rings and I start to ignore it only to realize it’s the ex calling to let me talk to the kidlet. Spend 15 minutes listening to the three year old’s description of going fishing with his dad and how great his dad is and how much fun he’s having. Get depressed because I miss him so much.

4:30-4:45 PM Drive to gym. Realize as I pull in the parking lot that I left the house without my purse so not only do I not have my driver’s license, I also don’t have my gym card. Decide to go inside anyway and hope obnoxiously thin teenagers manning the desk will give me a pass this time.

4:45-5 PM Make it past the front desk and head to the locker room to put my stuff away only to realize that not only do I not have any stuff (having left it at home) but I also don’t have my lock either.

5-6:30 PM Work out. Feel like a dork that there is a cute guy on the treadmill next to me who I am too embarrassed to talk to. Distract myself from how much I hate working out by trying to see if there’s a ring on his left hand without him noticing what I’m doing. Fail miserably. Up the incline degrees on the treadmill machine to distract myself from how pathetic I am.

6:30-7 PM Drive home, eat energy bar, promise my inner anorexic I will not overindulge in alcohol or high-calorie snacks at the party, shower. Discover that skirt I planned to wear to party is now in “to be returned” pile because it’s too big.

7-7:30 PM Re-think entire wardrobe strategy which results in total destruction of closet and bedroom to be cleaned up later when I’m not running late.

7:30-8 PM Do hair and makeup and realize there’s no way I’m going to be on time for the party since it starts at 8 PM and is thirty minutes away. Ignore incoming phone calls on house and cell phone so I can get out the door faster.

8-8:15 PM Depart house. Make it as far as driveway before association president flags me down to ask me about strange white truck parked illegally in front of my house and whether it’s okay if he tows it or not. I tell him “be my guest.”

8:15 PM Finally get on Laguna Canyon Road and get stuck behind obnoxiously slow and possibly drunk driver. Cell phone has been beeping with voice mail alerts incessantly for the last 20 minutes so I decide now is a good time to check messages since I’m not going anywhere for a while, apparently. Erase two messages from association president asking me about the white truck. Erase message from my parents telling me that association president called them because I wasn’t answering my cell phone and he was worried about me. Erase message from my parents asking if I got their earlier message and expressing that they are now concerned since I’m not answering my cell phone. Call my parents back and reassure them that I have not been hacked into little bits by an axe murderer and endure lecture about making cell phone calls from the car.

8:45 PM-12 AM Arrive at party. Drop bottle of wine on sidewalk on the way into the house – I must have a teensy drop of good karma stored up somewhere because it doesn’t break. Hope no one will notice that the wine is now severely “shaken, not stirred.” Go inside and realize that, other than the hostess, none of the people I know are there yet. Promptly drink a glass of wine and tell my inner-anorexic to get stuffed. People I know finally arrive and I quickly entrench myself with that group all night and fail to talk to anyone else. Eat two mushroom appetizers even though I’ve been told they’re full of butter and cream. Inner anorexic is now tearing out what’s left of her hair and swearing to punish my ass at the gym tomorrow. Wonder if one guy is possibly trying to flirt with me and then decide that I am either delusional or the one glass of wine has gone to my head. Decide to stay when group of people I know gets ready to leave. Get invited to do tequila shooters with group remaining behind. Take nanosecond to realize that I am not a tequila shooters kind of girl and decide to leave after all.

12-12:30 AM Drive home. Decide to take longer, but more drunk-driver-free route to get home because that’s how I roll, yo.

12:30-2 AM Get in bed but realize that I am wide awake thanks to the glass of wine (this is why I don’t drink, people, it has this weird effect on me like it’s a bucket of caffeine). Spend an hour goofing around on-line and winking at guys on Remember that it’s a flagrant violation of the internet dating “rules” book my sister-in-law sent me. Decide the book is stupid and keep sending out winks. Go back to bed and watch part of a movie. Finally fall asleep.

Sunday, August 27, 2006
8 AM Wake up. Look at clock and remind myself that this is my day to sleep in. Go back to sleep.

9 AM Wake up. Look at clock and remind myself that this is my day to sleep in. Remember all the crap I didn’t get done yesterday and get up.

9-10 AM Switch laundry loads from yesterday. Eat breakfast, feed bird and load shopping bags in car.

10-10:30 AM Realize that I had wanted to be at the mall by 10 AM so I could finish everything there and have time to come home and work on jewelry. Waste another half an hour doing something I can’t remember now before finally getting out the door.

10:30-10:50 Drive to mall. Realize upon arriving at mall that shops don’t open until 11 AM on Sundays.

10:50-11:05 AM Sit in chair outside Ann Taylor and stare into space. Have random thoughts about why this is the one day in my life that I don’t have a book in my purse to read and whether or not the guy from the party really WAS flirting with me and was I just too dense to notice and how many responses I might have in my e-mail in-box from last night’s winks. Notice it’s now 11 AM and no stores are opening. Walk up to the Ann Taylor door and glare through the glass at the slackers working inside until they finally get up off their lazy butts and open the $(#)&! door. Receive a nice “thank you” from a fellow customer who was also waiting for the store to open, but who, apparently, was too nice to do anything about it.

11:05 AM-2:30 PM Return stuff. Do additional shopping thereby negating any positive cash flow from the returns. Feel somewhat guilty, but realize that A. I do need a work wardrobe that fits so I can get out the door on time in the morning and B. It’s cheaper than (additional) therapy and less destructive to the surrounding population and infrastructure than climbing the local clock tower and is also legal (unlike running the ex over with my car and then backing up to do it again). It doesn’t have quite the same satisfying “crunch” noise, tho.

2:30-7:30 PM Arrive home and eat lunch. Contemplate working on jewelry and then remember bills need to be paid. Spend an hour organizing and paying bills. Remember legal paperwork is due. Spend half an hour looking for paperwork and another half hour filling it out. Check e-mail for responses to last night’s winks – bupkiss. Decide to go make jewelry. Pass shopping bag from “The Container Store” on the way and remember that I need to organize my makeup. Spend an hour organizing makeup only to discover that, as previously mentioned, there’s been some sort of lip gloss population explosion. Which is odd when you consider that I rarely ever wear anything on my lips other than chapstick. Spend five minutes chastising myself for wasting money on lip gloss, but vow to wear it more often now that I have it. Realize this will be easier now that I can actually FIND the lip gloss when I need it. Suddenly remember stacks of clean laundry piling up. Spend two hours putting away laundry and doing ironing. Stop when 1/3 of ironing still remains to be done because I can’t take any more. Check one more time because that whole obsessive-compulsive thing really works for me. See that cute cowboy guy who I’ve been exchanging e-mails with all week has sent me an e-mail – with a quiz, no less. Decide I can’t handle the pressure of it right now and save it to deal with later.

7:30-7:45 PM Try to talk myself into skipping the gym. Fail. Change into sweats and head to the gym. Manage to remember purse, lock, magazine and water this time. Forget towel.

8-9PM Work out.

9:30 PM Arrive home, shower and realize that another weekend has gone by with no jewelry making. Start to read a book and then remember I have to get up at 4:30 the next morning. Decide to read until 10 PM anyway.

9:45 PM – Fall asleep with book on my chest.

9:50 PM Wake up, put book on bedside table and turn light out.

And there you have it – a glorious and exciting weekend in the life of KJ. I believe I’ve mentioned somewhere before in this blog that Paris Hilton SOOO wishes she was me – 41-year-old skin, extra poundage, excess lip gloss and all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Peeves...and the women who list them.

I’ve been feeling decidedly peevish since the weekend (too many chores, not enough fun) and it occurred to me that I haven’t posted a pet peeve list in a while so it’s probably time to rectify that. It’s not good to let the peeves build up for too long. You just end up with disorganized peeves running amuck and no one likes that. So, here they are:

Peeve #1: People who don’t like or don’t understand the need for pet peeve lists.

Peeve #2: No more Al Michaels and John Madden on Monday Night Football. Yeah, I know, I can still watch it on ESPN, but come on, Joe Theismann is NO John Madden!

Peeve #3: That I can’t remember how long it’s been since the Bruins beat the Trojans in a football game.

Peeve #4: That L.A. STILL does not have a football team and probably never will.

Peeve #5: Getting Lone Ranger’d. Hey, LR, fyi…that mask is dorky and I hope you and that damn horse will be very happy together. Tanto’s cuter than you, anyway.

Peeve #6: That the Packers can’t seem to field a decent team to support Brett Favre in the latter years of his career so that he can go out like the champion he is. You’d think having a quarterback like that in place would motivate you to go out and draft at least ONE decent receiver, but no!

Peeve #7: Finding my ex’s profile on a dating site and being reminded how disgusting he is (and stupid, too, since he also put up a picture of our young child for every perv on-line to see). I swear I’m not a vindictive person (lucky for him or he’d’ve been fertilizing someone’s yard by now) but every day I get closer and closer to signing him up on

Peeve #8: That going back to work has impacted my gym schedule so that I’m now plateau’d only 9 lbs. from my goal weight. ARGGHH!

Peeve #9: I discovered this weekend while organizing my bathroom (love you, Container Store!) that I have a zillion lip glosses which, although they have different color names and are from different manufacturers, are essentially the same boring shade of which Laura Mercier Lip Glace in "Blush" is a perfect example. I am possibly suffering from some kind of lip gloss-related mental deficiency.

Peeve #10: That I can’t find the exact shade of rose/copper eye shadow I’ve been searching for all summer and yet, hello! zillions of identical lip glosses.

Peeve #11: That I haven’t yet figured out what the correct response is when people ask “so, how’s (insert name of disgusting, not-quite-ex-husband here)?”

Peeve #12: I can never think of amusing, catchy titles for blog entries.

Peeve #13: Laurell K. Hamilton has ruined two perfectly good novel series with her sexual obsessions. Soooo not buying the latest Anita Blake book and didn’t buy the last Meredith Gentry book, either.

Peeve #14: That Hamilton’s editor/publisher let her get away with ruining two perfectly good series.

Peeve #15: Internet dating self-help books.

Peeve #16: Dating self-help books.

Peeve #17: Dating.

Peeve #18: That because dating is stupid, I’ve been reduced to reading self-help books (dating self-help books at that!) and therefore I am pathetic.

Peeve #18: That I went to a great party Saturday night and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to meet new people and scope out the single guys. Instead, I turned chicken and just hung out with the crowd I already knew. Good mushroom appetizers, though.

Peeve #19: I couldn’t eat more than one of the appetizers because this insidious voice in my head kept reminding me that I wasn’t going to have time to go to the gym the next day and work off the calories. I have maybe carried the whole diet/exercise thing a little too far?

Peeve #20: I look the best I have in my entire life since I was 16 years old and no one seems to notice. Double ARRRGGHHHHH!

Peeve #21: I’m 41 years old (ouch!) and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Peeve #22: Having to grow up. I know, I should’ve thought of that before I had a kid and turned 41.

Peeve #23: That I’m the kind of person who makes and posts lists of her 23 pet peeves (oops, make that 24) on the Internet.

Peeve #24: Not having any creativity left or feeling any desire to create anything thanks to the vast pit of emotional suckage that is divorce.

Peeve #25: The pair of twits who hogged the ab bench at 24 Hour Fitness last night. Listen up, kiddies, the place is a GYM. Not a singles bar. Or a hotel. Get a room for #()@&!’s sake and get the hell out of my way. I’ve got two sets of 75 crunches to do before I finish my workout and go home and I don’t have all night. The fact that you’re just laying there flirting with each other and not doing any exercising at all is SEVERELY annoying! Besides, both of you are in perfect shape and don’t even need to be there (hence, I suppose, the no exercising and the laying around trying to look cute) so go eat a donut and leave the equipment for those of us who actually need to use it. Because we are hungry, sweaty, tired and cranky and you shouldn’t make us angry. You won’t like us when we’re angry. We might stuff that exercise ball where the sun don’t shine. Get me? Good.

It’s possible I may need a candy bar now.


Extra Credit Peeve: That my new black suede peep-toe platform wedges were perfectly comfortable in the store and for the first day that I wore them (thus making them impossible to return) but now have turned into foot torture devices of the highest order. Of course, this will not stop me from wearing them because they are so damn cute, but I will be extremely, well, peeved every time I do so.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why the color white hates me (and a book review)

I’m finally getting back on track with the book reading so it’s time for a review and yes, I’ve got more than one book to do this time!

First up is “Oracle’s Queen” which is the third installment of Lynn Flewelling’s “Tamir” series. I’ve felt all along that this series did not live up to the promise of Flewelling’s earlier series set in the same world. It’s quite dark and a lot of tragic elements come into play and that may be what I’ve found off-putting about it. It’s too bad because the initial premise of the princess who must be hidden as a boy to save her life was handled in a very original way for such a tired old concept. There’s lots of action and the supporting cast are interesting (if not always likeable). Flewelling does tie up all the plot loose ends, but some of them get tied up a little too neatly. For example, the resolution of the main villain’s story line is awfully quick and neat. It comes off as less-than-believable. Overall, I give this whole series a grade of mediocre. There’s nothing bad about it, but it doesn’t quite fulfill its promise. Oh, and for those who find certain topics to be off-putting, Flewelling deals a lot with homosexuality and trans-gender issues as a result of the princess being hidden and then eventually revealed. If that sort of thing bothers you, then this is not the author for you.

Next up is the latest book in Kelley Armstrong’s "Women of the Otherworld” series, “Broken.” For the most part, I’ve found the books about the witches in this series to be better written and more interesting than those about the werewolves, but she did a bit better with the wolves this time. Clay isn’t quite as obnoxious as usual and Elena has made peace with a lot of her issues so things that bothered me in the earlier stories are not so prevalent. The plot, on the other hand, is awfully twisty and hard to follow. This is particularly true regarding the portal and the related mechanics of how to close it, what kind it is, who’s controlling it, etc. I also thought the whole Jack the Ripper thing had sort of been done to death. No pun intended. Also, for anyone who hasn’t tried this author before – fair warning that she’s a cross-over from the romance genre and therefore all the overly detailed sex scene issues definitely apply. Although, I didn’t think this particular book was quite as bad on that as some of the others had been. Frankly, I rather breathed a sigh of relief when Elena realizes she’s too pregnant to “carry on” any more until the babies are born. What a relief.

I guess it’s my month to follow-up on series because the last book is another of Kim Harrison’s “Rachel Morgan” series: “A Fistful of Charms.” I love this series. Rachel is feisty, powerful and yet oftentimes is her own worst enemy. And then there’s Jenks, the pixie – yum. Even better, in this book he’s grown to full human size courtesy of a not-so-white spell. I swear if anything bad ever happens to Jenks I will have to hunt the author down and ‘splain some stuff to her. Okay, no, I’ll probably just make scathing remarks about her and her ancestry here in the blog, but seriously, hands off my pixie! I have to say I’m getting tired of the whole relationship dance between Rachel and Ivy, though. The author seems to WANT them to be lesbians, but is kind of afraid to go there. While I’m grateful for that (it’s getting so overdone as to be trite and besides, I like my steamy novels hetero, please), the whole “will they or won’t they” dance is getting irritating. Either do it or don’t, but let’s all move on, please. The ending of this particular book was a little predictable, but on the other hand, I’m just happy that Rachel didn’t end up any worse off than usual. If she’d gotten herself yet ANOTHER demon mark or vamp scar, there would’ve been some seriously annoyed eye rolling going on at my house.

That’s it for this week. I’m headed to the book store on my lunch hour, though, so hopefully I’ll come back with some great stuff for future weeks.


P.S. Yes, I know that the website updates haven’t been done yet. Small problem with the logon information to the server – it was set up originally by my ex and he failed to share that info with me before he departed. So. As soon as I have about 5 hours to sit on hold with the host company’s technical support department, it’ll get fixed. For those of you who haven’t mastered the art of reading between the lines, what I’m saying here is “don’t hold your breath.”

P.P.S. Remember back when I said that I was maybe a little bit dumb for buying white pants this summer? Yeah, I need to learn to listen to my own advice. For some reason, I can wear a white skirt or white shoes with no problem. There’s something about white pants, though, that just defeats me every time. This weekend I was working on a project in my closet and using a pen to write labels on things (don’t ask) when I suddenly realized that, thanks to a stray hand gesture with the hand holding the uncapped ball point pen, I now had a streak of black ink on the white cropped pants that I was planning to wear to a party that night. Off I go to call my mother to get her to remind me how to get pen ink out of clothes (the answer, by the way, is hairspray…I don’t know why or how she figured it out, but it works). I grab my trusty neon green can of Garnier Fructis Extra Hold and spray away and then pop the pants into the wash. They’ll never be washed AND dried in time for the party so a wardrobe crisis then ensues as I try to figure out what to wear in their place. Did I learn my lesson you ask? No, of course not. I decide to wear those selfsame pants to work today and what happens? I spill Diet Coke all over my lap so now my pants are white…with caramel-color spots all over them. Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I went to grab my white purse out of the closet this morning I discovered that one entire side of it is stained with I-have-no-idea-what kind of gunk that refuses to respond to any kind of cleaning I can do that won’t damage the leather of the purse. Realize, of course, that I’ve used this purse exactly ONE time to go out to lunch and there was no sign of the gunk at the restaurant or on the chair where I carefully placed the purse (being aware, of course, that it is a WHITE purse) to keep it from getting dirty.

You know, I was initially bummed that the fall color palette is so dark, bland and boring, but now I’m thinking maybe in my case it’s a good thing?

Friday, August 11, 2006

More Pics

As promised, here are a few more pictures from the L.A. Gift Show:

This is a set of beautiful dichroic glass cabochons that I picked up from a new vendor. Created by fusing glass in a kiln and then cutting and polishing it to shape, glass cabs often are somewhat asymmetrical and can be a challenge to use in a design. I really loved that this vendor had such high quality pieces and had done such a good job with her cutting and polishing to get very nice shapes. The colors are phenomenal, too. The scan does not do them justice.

This next picture is a set of hand-crafted ceramic beads:

The colors are beautiful and the scan doesn't catch that the top halves of the white beads are a metallic silver (almost reflective) color. Yum. These beads came from the same vendor that sold me the beautiful Russian lacquerwork pendant I bought back in January. I made sure to get more lacquerwork this time so I don't spend the next six months lamenting that I missed out:

I wish they'd had more pansy pieces available this time because I loved the black rectangles I got in January and the earrings I made from them sold right away. They just didn't have as much selection this time in the flowers, but I got what I could. I don't think any of them are as dramatic as the previous pieces (sorry, Linnea), but they're still pretty.

Okay, that's it. Site update later this weekend if I can figure out how to FTP from home.


Site Cleanup

Just took a quick look at the website (see, I learned my lesson about checking on its status occasionally) and realized that boy, is it out of date. With things being so crazy lately, I haven't had much time to do updates and make things neat and tidy. So, apologies for that and I've put it on my "to do" list for the weekend. In the meantime, please ignore the stuff on the home page talking about "spring", etc. Obviously, that's soooo 5 minutes ago.

Oh, and since I'm apologizing, I might as well 'fess up and tell you I don't have a book to review for today. Mea culpa. I'm in the middle of two new, promising ones, though, so next week's review should be a good one.

I'll at least try to get some more of the L.A. Gift Show pictures up from home tonight. In the meantime, you'll have to be satisfied with this link to a pair of shoes that I'm currently coveting (but can totally NOT afford to buy.

I seriously cannot WAIT until my first paycheck comes in. Did I remember to mention that I got the El Pollo Loco job? Started yesterday! It totally rocks.

Free chicken for everyone!

Happy weekend and watch for the pictures later tonight.


Friday, August 04, 2006

He's just not that into you (and the Friday book review)

Sigh. Story of my dating life from college on. I meet a great guy. We seem to have decent first date chemistry. I get the all-important post-first-date phone call wherein he says he had a good time, too, and wants to go out again and then POOF! I get Lone Ranger'd. You know...he vanishes into a cloud of dust with a tip of his hat and a hearty "heigh ho, Silver!" GRRR! It's just so damned frustrating!

And for the life of me, I do not understand why a man would go to the trouble of making a call to say he had a good time and wants to go out again if he just plans to blow me off. I mean, wouldn't it be easier to just not call after the date? Isn't that the world-wide accepted method of blowing someone off?

So, Literate Guy is, apparently, history. Or, at the very least, as the book says, "he's just not that into me."

Whatever. Onward and upward.

I had a friend help me re-write my profile in the hopes of getting a little more play from the on-line dating game (thanks, Jenie!) but the results haven't been much better. At least I'm GETTING mail now - one from a 55 year old illiterate from the east coast with no picture who wanted me turn over my IM address so we could get to know each other better. Er...yeah...I'll get right on that. Not. The others I've received have been equally unsuitable for various reasons.

For this I lost 53 lbs.??? I could've stayed fat and at least known WHY I was getting ignored. Sheesh!

Okay, enough with the dating self pity. I have a book review to do. Wish I had multiple novels to talk about, but there's just one this week. I read the latest installment of Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" series entitled "Black Powder War." Novik continues to chronicle the adventures of Captain Laurence, the Celestial dragon, Temeraire, and his crew as they leave China under orders to get to Istanbul and pick up a couple of rare and valuable dragon eggs. The eggs need to be returned to England before they hatch because they are the British Aerial Corps' only chance at aquiring a fire-breathing breed of dragon - something they sorely need in their ongoing resistance against Napoleon's constant aggression. Once again, Novik excels at keeping the level of action constant and interesting. In fact, I made the mistake of picking this book up at bedtime about halfway through it and next thing I knew it was 2 AM and I was feverishly turning pages to get to the end or else a decent stopping point. Laurence and crew seems to be constantly jumping from the frying pan to the fire to...what's worse...maybe lava? So, don't miss this great read, but make sure to either not read it at bedtime or do it on a night where you don't have to go to work the next day. I should also warn you that this particular installment has a bit of an "Empire Strikes Back" type of ending. Major point left unresolved as set up for the next novel. Not my favorite type of ending - I feel strongly that each novel (even in a trilogy) should be complete in and of itself, but Novik is one of the few authors I'll give a bit of a pass to since she's so good in other respects. At least with the books, you know there won't be a three year wait until the next installment as opposed to the way the original "Star Wars" trilogy was released.

Oh, and since I didn't have anything else to review today, here's another picture from the L.A. Gift Show:

These are called "shimmerwing" pendants. They are actually sections of real butterfly wings encased in glass and bound with sterling silver. I've only scanned one side of them, but the backsides are just as beautiful, albeit with a different design. The scan does not catch the opalescent quality of the colors.

And, just in case anyone was wondering, I have a statement from the vendor that no butterflies are killed to make these. They are collected from the floor of the rainforest in Peru at the end of their natural life cycle (butterflies don't live very long - just long enough to mate and lay eggs which is sometimes only a matter of days). Now, normally, I might be somewhat skeptical about this statement, but I actually saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel some years back about not only this process and how it provides income for some of the local Peruvian populace, but they actually had footage of how the forest floor was actually glittering from all the fallen butterflies who had just died naturally and fluttered down to cover the ground. I like the idea of some of that beauty being preserved and passed on.

I think these pendants would like equally great as the focal points of a beaded, multi-strand necklace as they would simply strung on sterling silver chain or black leather cord.

That's it for now everyone. Happy weekend!