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Happy Royal Wedding Day!

I had very little interest in the Royal Wedding until last night at around 7:30 pm. I didn’t plan to watch it and I was okay with that. Then suddenly I decided that maybe I should watch it. I like weddings, I like royals, and I like once in a lifetime occasions. So I changed my mind and made a plan. We could get up, watch it live, have breakfast, and make it a little party. And somehow Andrew went for it. So at 9 o’clock last night I printed off some royal wedding party printables I had seen earlier in the week, printed up the Queen’s recipe for Scotch pancakes, and set an alarm for 5:30.

This morning we woke up just in time to see the immediate family arrive and then the wedding ceremony started. Catherine was beautiful, her dress was lovely, and I was so taken by her poise. I only wish I could have watched the reception live as well!

 

We made coffee.
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And Scotch pancakes (aka drop scones).
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And sipped orange juice out of wine glasses (the closest we have to champagne flutes).
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The end. And we lived happily ever after.

Once we ate that is:) I was having so much fun with my little photo shoot that my hungry husband just started cutting his breakfast mid pictures to let me know he was ready to consume it:) Oops.
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Where did you go, March?

I woke up March 1 and Andrew was gone. [Don’t worry, he was at a conference in L.A. and I took him to the airport]. As soon as the conference was over, I jetted out to L.A. after him. We rendezvoused with the West Coast for a week and before I knew it, April had arrived. We have been so busy traveling, recuperating, adjusting to time changes, working, and painting that the whole month just passed us by. I probably haven’t even taken a picture in 3 weeks (and as you might recall, I had gotten used to taking pictures every day!)

I flew solo out to meet Andrew in L.A. I’m not a big fan of flying these days and to say that I was not looking forward to the 5.5 hour coast-to-coast flight from D.C. would be a vast understatement. Fortunately, it was a breeze! And went so much better than I could have hoped for:) I stayed busy reading books and magazines and listened to some sermons on my iPod. And before I knew it the palm trees of the California coast were beckoning me. In fact, as we descended into LAX I said in my head “Hello, palm trees.” It had been quite a few months since I’d seen the sun, palm trees and warm weather.
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The first day in L.A. we hit the ground running. I grabbed a rental car, picked up Andrew and we headed for the Warner Brothers Studio tour. It was a little different than we expected. We failed to realize that we don’t really watch TV or many movies, so we were a little behind the times. Chuck, The Mentalist, Harry Potter? Nah. Never seen ‘em. But you better believe our camera was snapping away when we saw the studios and sets that filmed FRIENDS, Full House, and the Gilmore Girls. This might also have been at the same moment that Clint Eastwood drove past us. When someone said, “Hey that was Clint Eastwood.” The tour guide said, “Yea he’s filming today.” But although he evaded us and we didn’t see him, we’ll probably still say we did. Hey, we were within 10 ft of Clint Eastwood. That’s kind of a big deal. Oh, and we got to sit on the FRIENDS couch. Another BIG DEAL in my world:)

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We spent the night in Hollywood and the next day set out for a quick little adventure before heading up the coast. Things of note below.
1. We split a corn dog for breakfast. Yes, we were too snobby to buy a smoothie that didn’t use real fruit and instead went for the corndog. What?
2. Our camera is so fancy We are such amateurs that we couldn’t figure out how to capture a picture of us and the Hollywood sign in focus.

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We oohed and ahhed over the classic imprints from the first half of the twentieth century—Judy Garland’s high heel impressions and Bill Hart’s guns and cowboy boots, pictured below. Naturally, we had to take a picture of Clint Eastwood’s imprints since we had seen him the previous day and all (wink). And who doesn’t love Robin William’s “Carpe Diem” to bring back a little Dead Poets Society love?
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We checked out of our hotel, hopped in the car and headed west on Santa Monica Boulevard.  We drove through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monica was so much cooler than we had anticipated. The pedestrian mall downtown reminded us a lot of our trip to Burlington, VT. We bought some Jamba Juice, Girl Scout cookies, and dipped our feet in the ocean. And as quickly as we arrived, we departed to begin our drive up the coast with what little sunlight was left in the day.
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California…to be continued.

Post Edit | 'Three Cups of Tea'

Well Crap.  Right after I post about how much I like a book, it ends up on every news channel as somewhat exaggerated and potentially fabricated.  Not the best way to impress your friends and family, huh?

After reviewing both sides of the story and looking through several sources, a couple of themes start to stand out.  First, it sounds like some of the dates or 'when' things happen in Three Cups of Tea have been compressed.  Three trips to a village in real life turn into one in the book.  One conversation was actually several.  Etc.  Second, his organization (The Central Asian Institute) needs to spend some serious time and effort cleaning up their finances.  Audits, advertising, travel accounts.  The works.  You can't claim to be a tiny non-profit when you have a best selling book and receive millions of dollars in donations each year. 

So the news is disappointing on several accounts. The fact that the book isn't 100% true as depicted is a bit of a bummer.  But I do recall saying in the original post:
"While I fully expect everything in the book to be true, if only 10% of what he wrote is factual, it's still one of the most amazing stories I have ever read." 

So I think I'm covered.  Right?

In my opinion the news coverage has left a little to be desired.  One report questioned whether or not the author's captors (when Mortenson was taken prisoner) were actually in the Taliban, by asking them "Are you in the Taliban?"  Maybe they were or maybe they were not Taliban, but I'm not sure simply asking them fulfills a journalist's responsibility of investigating a story.  Fortunately, despite the drama and discrepancies, in the end schools still got built, thousands of children got an education, and millions of dollars went towards preventing at-risk kids from poverty and potentially, in some cases, lives dedicated to unfathomable atrocities.  This doesn't absolve Mortenson of all wrong doing, but at least for me it helps keep things in perspective.

I would recommend coming to your own conclusions however.  This story goes into pretty good detail:http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-ga-greg-mortenson-interview-sidwcmdev_155690.html
And this shows a little more: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/#42658438

Now if a story comes out suggesting 'About Beer' was lying about lagers and ales, then I'm calling it quits ;)

Book Review | ‘Tasting Beer’

Month two, book two. [Again, delayed post lost in the shuffle of life.]
 
I had absolutely no idea what Kim was getting me for our one year anniversary. I had a hunch that it would be ‘paper’ as a nod to tradition, but that didn’t really narrow it down. Fortunately for me, her creativity never ceases. As I unwrapped my soon to be second edition of the ‘year of the book’ my eyes grew wider. The gift? Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. Happy me. She knew one of my Top 30 Before 30 goals was to better understand beer.

I’ve always wanted to know more about beer. I know that I like it. But I also know that I know very little about it. That becomes especially evident when reading a beer menu and wanting to try something new. There are some beers out there I like, and others that I don’t. But truth be told I don’t know which is which and why. Hence my excitement for the new reads. 

The book. One thing that took some getting used to was that unlike Three Cups of Tea, this book is not a story. It read more like a textbook. Forty pages in one sitting was not really in the cards. Much more common was me reading the same page two or three times. You get malt out of barley how? Wait, what makes an IPA taste like that? Go back. Re-read.

My goal going into Tasting Beer was simply to learn more about beer. Fortunately, that’s exactly what this book is about. (I later learned that Kim went through dozens of beer books until, knowing what I was looking for, purchased this one. She is too good to me). From a basic history of beer to the brewing process and later the individual styles to glassware and food pairings. Mosher really covered it all. While it may have read like a textbook, the book was very enjoyable and covered a wealth of information.

After reading the book I am still far from an expert on beer. But I certainly appreciate a better understanding of the basics. In fact, Tasting Beer probably makes me a much more annoying person to share a pint with. Pouring it into a glass, trying to smell the barley, noting for color, and trying to remember little details about the style….not exactly Mr. Fun. One thing I learned is that I’m a pretty wimpy beer drinker. It starts to become more and more obvious when your favorite brews are the butt of beer jokes and constantly show up on the lame side of all the charts. Who knew that ‘Lager Drinker’ was an insult? Needless to say I am now motivated to branch out in attempt to expand my horizons into the darker and hoppier side of the scale. 

Maybe Ill even have a Guinness at St. Patrick’s Day. Stay tuned… 

Change of pace for book #3. The next book: The Momentary Marriage by John Piper

Post Edit: I did have a Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day and I actually really liked it!