Food Network Pit Stop: The Duce

When we were in Arizona, we visited a couple of different food network restaurants. The first one we went to was The Duce. The Duce was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and it’s unlike any place I’ve ever been.

It’s a restaurant and bar – but also a boxing gym and a sort of community rec room. They’ve got ping pong tables, a foosball table, cornhole, hula hoops, a 50’s soda fountain, a retro trailer where they cook their food, a sort of tiki bar and a vintage store.  IMG_3208

There are retro tables scattered all around the warehouse and you listen over the loud speaker for your name to be called. They require you to use an “embarrassing name” when ordering and then when its time to pick up your food it echoes around the building.

The food itself was amazing. We ordered as a table and tried the brisket sliders, the mac and cheese muffins, the chicken pot pie in a jar and the apple crisp.
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They also had a fun drink menu. They got a quite a collection of beers and cocktails from both today and from the past. I tried the cranberry cobbler, which was fantastic.

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All in all, we had a fantastic time. I love finding quirky, new places like this. If you’re ever in Phoenix, I’d give the Duce a try!

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26 in 2016

26 in 2016

So last year I wrote a post entitled 25 in 2015. I got about halfway through my list, but I was still happy with my results. The list kept me on track and kept me doing things. I ran a 5k, I stuck to a budget, I went new places and did more cooking. I So I decided that I’d do it again. Here is my new list. 26 things to accomplish in 2016. We’ll see how this goes!

  1. Get 50 Sales on Etsy
  2. Go Through ALL of my things and get rid of half
  3. Blog everyday for a month
  4. Run a 10k
  5. Leash train my dog
  6. Continue with my grocery budget for the entire year
  7. Read 75 Books
  8. Don’t eat out for 2 weeks straight
  9. Roast a chicken
  10. Go a month without buying clothes
  11. Visit 3 new places
  12. Exercise 3-4 times a week. NO MATTER WHAT
  13. Learn to ski
  14. Learn to golf
  15. Get better at sewing
  16. Volunteer
  17. Complete a pinterest furniture project
  18. Have my DNA tested by 23andme
  19. Hike in 2 different & new places
  20. Cook a new recipes once a week for the year
  21. Improve my credit score by 10 points
  22. Plan and stick to a clothing budget
  23. Drink less pop & more water
  24. Save some money for the move
  25. Make a new friend
  26. Work on my Spanish. It’s really necessary at this point.
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Product Review: goldtoe holiday socks

I was given the opportunity to review Goldtoe’s Holiday sock line this season. Of course I said yes. Who doesn’t love holiday socks? I’m not normally a big sock person – I tend to buy no-show plan white ones to wear for winter. I have to say, after trying out these fun socks, I am all aboard the crew sock train.

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As far as design goes, I LOVE what Goldtoe has done. There holiday socks are festive, but not cheesy. They aren’t overwhelming – they are modern and somewhat neutral designs that will appeal to adults.

They are also well constructed. They stretch nicely, hold up in the wash and have reinforced fabric on both the heel and the toe. They aren’t exceptionally warm, but they are soft and comfortable.

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They come in both men and womens styles and can be purchased at kohls, amazon and jcpenney. I haven’t been able to locate all of the styles they gave me online, but I have found the Women’s Nordic 3 Pack. They also gave me some mens styles to try- which I actually prefered. They were constructed the same, but they obviously covered more of my calfs. Which is fantastic in the winter.

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Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless – Richelle Mead

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Published: November 10th, 2015
Pages: 272
My Rating: 2.5-3/5
Description: From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation. But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

My Thoughts

I’ve read a few books by Mead before and for me, they are always hit or miss. I loved the idea of Soundless, but for me, it never really grabbed hold.

The story itself was incredibly intriguing, but I felt that the book did not live up to the excitement of the description. I felt that there wasn’t enough world building or characterization and as a result I was pretty detached from the story and characters. You don’t get much background on the village and the culture of the people wasn’t truly developed. I was so excited to read this because I thought it would take me deep into a rich Asian culture, but honestly, this could have taken place anywhere.

I was also a bit disappointed with the big reveal about the townspeople below. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was hoping for an exciting twist and there just wasn’t. It was the predictable situation that you saw coming a mile away.

I think the reason I felt so disappointed with this one was because I had such high expectations going in. I finished it in a few hours because I kept waiting for something big to happen. It never did. Great concept, but unfortunately this one fell flat for me. It was an easy read, the writing was beautiful, but it just didn’t come together.

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What I Read in November

Well, it’s been a busy month. I completed my goodreads reading challenge and signed up for a Winter Book Challenge over at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life.

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1. Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
 
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

Rating: 3.5/5
Thoughts: This was probably my least favorite of the series so far. It was still an entertaining read, but not my favorite.

2. Death Beckons (Mortis #1) by J.C. Diem

Working late one night, Natalie Pierce is kidnapped by a creature that looks like a harmless old man, but is something far more terrifying. Waking up in a creepy mausoleum, she is forced to endure three nights of indescribable agony. Her life is forever altered when she is transformed into a monster of myth and legend; a vampire.

Lonely and full of despair, she comes face to face with the irresistible and enigmatic Lord Lucentio. Justice bringer for the European Vampire Council, Luc has been sent to Australia to kill Natalie’s maker, but someone has already beaten him to it. He quickly discovers that Nat is far from an ordinary fledgling. He suspects that she is Mortis, a figure of both hope and dread among their kind.

Natalie is propelled into a dark and mysterious underworld that takes her far away from her hometown of Brisbane. Her arrival was foretold long ago and her fate is already sealed. Nat’s entire species is in danger and it is her job to save them. She desperately wants to escape from the burden that has been thrust upon her, but she is inextricably linked to a two thousand year old prophecy. An unknown enemy has begun to whittle down their already limited numbers. If Nat fails to accept her destiny, all vampires will soon cease to exist.

Rating: 2.5/5
Thoughts: I got through this one alright, but I don’t particularly care to read the rest of the series. It wasn’t memorable enough for me to keep up with the series. Just okay.
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3. Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Rating: 4/5
Thoughts: I finally got on the Smoke & Bone bandwagon! This was such a cool story. I need to get my hands on the next one ASAP.

4. Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above Youfeatures Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Rating: 4/5
Thoughts: Yesssss. If you remember correctly I was BLOWN AWAY by the first book in this series, A Thousand Pieces of You. This wasn’t quite as good, but it was still unbelievably good. It ended on such a cliffhanger… I just cannot wait until the 3rd book comes out.

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5. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín’s sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín’s most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel,Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

Rating: 3/5
Thoughts: Oh, Brooklyn. I was so excited for this one, but it was just kind of meh for me. It dragged a bit and seemed just too…. tidy. I felt like it was almost like a disney movie, not a honest account of the struggles an immigrant would face coming to New York. Plus Eilis was a total pushover. What a disappointment.

6. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
 
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

Rating: 3/5
Thoughts: I’ve never read a book quite like this one before. The storyline really intrigued me but I found it a bit difficult to get through. The pacing was a bit off and I just felt like I wasn’t getting enough detail in the story to really make a connection.

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7. Clean (Mindspace Investigations #1) by Alex Hughes

A RUTHLESS KILLER—OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND 

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.

Rating: 3/5
Thoughts: I just don’t know. I love the concept and enjoyed reading it, but I often found myself confused while reading it. There was a lot going on, including in depth descriptions on how the whole mind reading thing worked and it was just incredibly confusing. I ended up skimming past the paragraphs that confused me… which I hate. I feel like a lot of the story went over my head.

8. Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1890, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary – including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant.

On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local police seem adamant to deny.

While Abigail finds herself drawn to Jackaby’s keen intelligence and his sensitivity to phenomena others barely perceive, her feelings are confused by the presence of Charlie, a handsome young policeman willing to help Jackaby and Abigail on the case. But is Charlie’s offer a sincere desire to be of service, or is some darker motive at work.

Rating: 4/5
Thoughts: This one was right up my alley. It was like a supernatural Sherlock. Just quirky, exciting and delightful.

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9. Trust Me, I’m Lying (Trust Me #1) by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

Rating: 4/5
Thoughts: This one reminded me a lot of Veronica Mars. Which is fine, because I adore Veronica Mars. If you like the show, you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this.

10. The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales
Meet the Bling Ring: six club-hopping LA teenagers accused of stealing more than $3 million in clothing and jewelry from the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and other young members of the Hollywood elite-allegedly the most audacious burglary gang in recent history.

Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, the Bling Ring made headlines in 2009 for using readily available sources-like Google maps, Facebook and TMZ, to track the comings and goings of their targets. Seven teens were arrested for the crimes, and instantly became tabloid fodder. The world asked-how did the American obsession with celebrity get so out of hand? And why did a band of ostensibly privileged LA teens take such a risk?

Vanity Fair reporter Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because they could. And because it was just that easy.

Author of the acclaimed Vanity Fair story on the Bling Ring “The Suspect Wore Louboutins,” Sales gained unprecedented access to the Hollywood thieves, and in the process uncovered a dark world of teenage arrogance, greed, obsession, and delusion. Now, for the first time in a full book length work, Sales details the Bling Ring crimes up close and in depth, and reveals the key players’ stories in a shocking look at the seedy world of the real young Hollywood.

Rating: 1.5/5
Thoughts: This was the worst. The only reason I finished it was because I had picked it for a reading challenge. I was ready to put it down 20 pages into the story.

What I’ve Read This Year

What I Read (January – April)
What I Read in May
What I Read in June
What I Read in July
What I Read in October

 

Today I am linking up with:
Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books

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