Friday, August 30, 2013

My New CoffeeTable Book

Martha's Entertaining....a year of celebrations

From Goodreads

Yes that Martha.

I happen to have volunteered with the boys this summer at a local charity. During my tenure they were planning a big gala to be held at Martha Stewart's Westchester Estate. I helped a little. Mostly made some phone calls, and stuffed some envelopes. Nothing stressful, not to worry. I spent most of the time at the charity paying on my computer. The boys did all the work.

No, I didn't get to go to Martha's estate to help plan.... (unfortunately)...i would have happily found time for that meeting.

But I did get to see what the flowers, tables, chairs, and food are going to look like...

The charity's director showed me how everything that they were going to use for the party was displayed in this book. What a gorgeous sumptuous taste for the eyes. This is what you envision when you think "party planning with a limitless budget. "

Honestly, you really want to host a shindig or two simply to use the suggestions in the book.

Martha Stewart discusses every aspect of a successful soiree; from types of floral arrangements,  tablescapes, place settings, table arrangements, innovative party ideas and even how to handle the "flow" so your company has the best time.

Then of course there are the delectable foods and drinks for which Martha is famous. Pages and pages of recipes to try if you are culinaryly brave. (Me not so much, but I will try a few dishes.)

One big bonus is that the pictures are all taken from parties at each of Martha's houses. You get to see inside the world of Martha Stewart. This is in so many ways is a very personal book.

Its going to be my escape for the time being. I need a break from all the international espionage, legal crime thrillers and autism related books. Now its time for romance, and fantasy....but not the kind with kilts, dirks or time travel (books I have read and continue to this is a blog post for another day).  Happily this handbook of entertainment "fantasy and romance" is a little more realistic...or at least it doesn't challenge the laws of quantum physics anytime soon.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Autumn Boot Want

Classic Newbury Ankle Boot in Deep Brown

I simply adore rag and bone boots. I know its supposed to be the hipster clothing stop over, and not something for us middle-aged moms, but the design is simple, chic and for the price point not terrible.Yes, they cost more than anything at Target (Here) however, alot less than louboutins. (Here, Here, Here) Remember too, that sometimes you are allowed to over spend on yourself.....not every day, once in awhile (for that special birthday) just to remind yourself that you are also important.

The deep brown of the boot is a gorgeous color. Something that would go with anything, especially a nice pair of jeans and a comfortable shirt. The typical mommy uniform worn as you run around taking care of the family.

Meanwhile the boot comes in many different colors and textures. I did find the boot a little narrow so I did have to go up one size (11). Not to worry. The rounded toe keeps the foot looking rather small.

Now all I need to do is fit back into those jeans of mine....soon I figure...soon.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wake Me Up....

Sometimes you just need to dance, sometimes a song talks to you...sometimes you can have both at the same time.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: Tragic By Robert K. Tanenbaum

Once again we enter the world of the Karp-Caimpi brood just in time for a no holds bar good old fashioned legal thriller in Robert Tanenbaum's latest  Tragic. Our protagonist Butch Karp, the present Manhattan District Attorney, becomes embroiled with a host of characters straight off of New York City's streets; the homeless, stevedores, unions, the Russian mob, and the average guy who simply makes all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times. Into this mix his wife, Marlene Ciampi, former ADA, now legal eagle and champion of abused women, cross paths within the court system with accomplices, girlfriends, orphaned babies while channeling lady justice.

If you have been reading Mr. Tanenbaum's series you know that the Karp-Ciampi family is made up of not only these highly accomplished parents, but of a daughter Lucy. She has a unique gift at foreign languages, which would have enabled a life of power, influence and secret machinations. But Lucy has chosen a simple life with her cowboy fiancee out in the old west. Of course, that never stops trouble from coming Lucy's way and as in every good western, there is her handsome wrangler out there to save the day. Along the way as well, Lucy has befriended the homeless and the misbegotten, who live on New York City's meanest streets. She is their champion and they are her eyes, ears and at times the Karp-Ciampi family's saving grace.

Then there are the twin Karp-Ciampi boys. Typical hellions, and the apple of their parent's eyes. Pushing their boundaries and their parents sanity. Butch Karp is not necessarily going gray because of the death threats, City politics or running one of the largest district attorney offices in the country. He is going gray all because of his adolescent sons and their shenanigans.

OK yes Butch's wife Marlene Ciampi's  in her search to right wrongs has also added a few gray hairs to Butch's temples as well. Think of her as Wonder Woman meets a female BatMan/Superman and you have a wild mix of danger, headlines and really good homemade marinara sauce. There is something about never crossing a really determined woman of Italian extraction. Seriously, it is nice to read stories where you care what happens to the characters from book to book to book.

Now in the latest edition to the Karp-Ciampi family adventures we find the District Attorney embroiled in a union power struggle, which ends up with an assassination, of course. It is a story about ethics wining over greed. It is right from wrong and accepting punishment for your crimes. It is the story of Macbeth where the witches of evil turn good, the concept of honor is personified and the mysteries of Birnam Wood will out. It is the haunted and the hunted made to realize that in every tragedy there can be justice if we simply invoke that which is most human in all of us, our conscience.

The trial scenes are Mr. Tanenbaum's forte. You hang on the legal jargon and the maneuvers both by the defense and by the prosecution. You try to figure out where the story is headed. Then suddenly there are twists and turns that make every trial interesting and unexpected. It will keep you guessing what the next zig to the zag will be and how the hero district attorney will counter the sleazy defense attorney so right can ultimately win out.

For those who have not read this series, you can read this book as a stand alone story. There is no need to understand the intricate relationships of the characters. There will be passing reference to persons who have come before, but it is not essential to know the personal interplay to enjoy the story this time. The Karp-Ciampi family as a whole really do not play a big part in the underlying tale during this novel. However, I would recommend at another moment to begin at the beginning. Go back to the start of the series and grow with the characters. See how they get to where they are emotionally, spiritually and inter-personally. For every person is a sum of their whole. No person is simply who they are at any given time without understanding where they have been and where they want to go,  especially really well written fictional characters.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Review: Death Angel by Linda Fairstein

I have reviewed Linda Fairstein's books before. I am a huge fan. (And its not simply because I had applied to the Manhattan DAs office while in law school and remember Ms. Fairstein as a pioneer in sex crimes prosecution.) I find her character of Alexander Cooper to be the dogged fighter for justice that we all hope inhabits every district attorney's office. I like her relationships with her cohorts. She brokers no nonsense and never backs down from a fight. Cooper, or Coop, as she is called in the book, is very human. You see her failings, her loves, her disappointments and her desires.

Now no book that revolved around the Manhattan District Attorney's Office would be complete without a peek into the world of office politics and actual New York City political jockeying. She has quite the acerbic tongue when she wants to, does Ms. Fairstein and I thought that it is such a shame that this book came out after all those political perverts tried to make a comeback. I am certain mocking zingers would abound with wild abandon... of course then again there is always the next book.

You also find the requisite sexual tension between characters in this book series that has any reader saying..."kiss her already you big dumb jerk"....

Meanwhile, as I always say the interesting thing about mystery books is not simply figuring out the "whodunit" questions, but learning  exploring and educating yourself. Ms. Fairstein's books never disappoint in that regard as well. History is the backbone of every major city and New York has history galore. This adventure takes the reader on a magical mystery tour of Central Park.

It begins with the murder of a homeless teen, found near an iconic  Central Park landmark. We learn about how the Park came to be, who designed it, what reasons they thought the Park was important and what motivation led to the Park. We learn the Park's layout. We learn about its monuments. We  learn about the Park's glory days and its worst moments. We are privy to information about its most private passages and its best kept secrets. Central Park is a living breathing part of New York City, bigger than the principality of Monaco (a little tidbit I learned from the book). Some say NYC wouldn't be our New York, without the Park. I agree.

The story also takes you into the halls and bastions of the world of "old money." The lives of those that Edith Wharton had once written about in her books, still exists within the hallowed halls of some of NYC's oldest institutions. The rhythm by which these individuals live their lives and how they run their worlds is fascinating. The world of the 400 families of the New York City register never really came to an end, no matter how egalitarian you think our society.

You look inside one of the most glamorous and most written about buildings in New York, the Dakota. You learn its history. You understand its architecture. You meet not the owners so much as those that work in the building. You see a dichotomy of lives. A social structure that we are adamant doesn't exist in the United States, but it does.

Saddest of all, you are eventually taken into the world of those that society forgets about. The lost and the homeless. The mentally ill and the misbegotten. Those who live not at the fringes of society but under the radar in the hopes of simply making it another day. This is not history. This is today. In a city that is one of the wealthiest in the history of the world, you would think there would be a better safety net and one that would help those in greatest need, but there is not. One day I hope that we, as a society, will find a way, a real way, to help those mentally ill and terribly damaged people properly.

Meanwhile, as with all good reads, you are kept guessing to the very end. With homeless teens, mental patients, crazy judges and a 40 year old cold kidnapping cold case thrown into the mix, this story will have you reading well into the night. It is after all about New York City, the city that never sleeps.


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Doggies in Your Life

Boys need a dog. A special pair-bonding to help them grow, mature, and become happy and healthy men.

That is an age-old bit of wisdom that has been handed down through the generations.

We happen to have three.

What they don't tell you is that your doggies, like human beings, can get really really really sick. Sometimes they need knees rebuilt (both back legs). Sometimes they get bacterial pneumonia. Sometimes their larynx becomes paralyzed and this inhibits their other words if you do not fix it (basically a larynx tummy tuck) your doggie will eventually suffocate.

My sweet wheaton terrier has suffered through all of the above and then some.

Last week our 13 1/2 year old wheaton needed surgery on his larynx. He is doing well. He is breathing good and is even trying to bark. He is a trooper and a tough old guy.

Meanwhile when he was sick I started to really baby him and made him boiled chicken thighs with rice instead of plain old canned dog food. The vet told me to give him the canned dog food while he recuperates from the surgery because it will be easier on his throat to swallow. I told him he never had my chicken and its very soft...he laughed but insisted on the canned food.

Well, being the good doggie-mommy that I am, after the surgery, I prepared the canned dog food for the wheaton. He looked at the plate of food, then at me, then at the plate of food and then at me as if to say....."What is this crap, where is my chicken? Haven't I been through enough lately?" So I immediately made up a plate of plain boiled chicken thigh and he woofed it down. (The canned food went to the other two dogs, who were quite happy to receive something a little special. They usually just get dry food and the odd left over piece of pizza, some Chinese food, an errant hamburger or hot dog, etc etc etc.)

Anyway so much for dog food and the wheaton.

I am now, the boiled chicken maven of  the tristate area and probably will be until the wheaton sings his last howl. Something tells me I have just spoiled my biggest doggie baby. But hey at his age, he can eat whatever he a point of course.

Wheaton has been sleeping in the bathroom. The tiles are cool. He was annoyed that I was taking a picture. But you can see he looks pretty good. It's only been three days since his surgery.

By the way NO we do not have pet insurance. It was costing me almost $300 a month for emergency care for all three dogs. This did not include well doggie-care or shots. The insurance also only paid 50% of what is "necessary and proper" for a surgery. Which means if you live in a high cost area you are basically screwed. My bichon had needed surgery to remove stones from her bladder (yes they get that too). My vet charged me $3000. The insurance said the customary was only $900. They gave me back half of that.

My bichon. Hubby says I need to treat her more like a lapdog than I do. He has her sleeping on a velvet pillow. I am so lucky I never had girls. Can you imagine how spoiled this man's daughters would be considering how he dotes on a puppy because she is female?

Not to be outdone I called around and found out that my vet's prices were in line with everyone else in my area. I called the insurance company and they began quoting nonsense. Saying they take an average of the prices in my area. Exactly what area I asked, and from what year? They gave me some bullshit song and dance. It is a huge rip-off game. I canceled my policy.

Something they don't tell you when you decide to follow through on that old societal directive and get your sons (and daughters) a dog. For certain things, it is more expensive to take care of a pet properly than your children. (OK, unless you have special needs children) But if you are going to bring a living breathing creature with huge hearts and a loving soul into your home, it is your obligation to take care of them properly, humanely and with a pile of love.

The labradoodle. He is technically not allowed up on the living room furniture because he has an alpha dog complex (trainer suggestion). But when we are not looking....well there you go. He saw me coming and tried to hide in the furniture. He thinks we can't see him if he can't see us I guess.

Well there you have it. My biggest furry babies, the ones that never grow up and are fiercely loyal, loving and so totally dependent.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Blinged-Out Clutches for Fall

Purseblog has captured some of the more embellished and divinely inspired evening clutches for fall. These are three of my favorites:

Santi-Jewl encrusted clutch

Marchese Lily Minaudiere

Alexander McQueen embroidered Knuckle Duster Clutch

Just to add in some more fun. Found these online at a luxury department store:

Prada Jeweled Satin Clutch Purple; Purseblog shows this bag in turquoise

Alexander McQueen De-Manta Baroque. Hint this one is my favorite.

If someone wanted to give me a present I would take any of these. Of course as usual my handbag "likes" are beyond realistic and buying one would be a choice between the clutch and paying the mortgage. But a lady can dream.....Of course, you also have to have somewhere to wear such a bag in the first place. I don't think you take these to the local supermarket.

Oh well.