Read Any Good Books Lately?

16005232549_6890385e34_mA friend was asking for book recommendations on Facebook the other day. ¬†And I realized that I’m often sharing my favorite books, over and over again.

Figured it might be easier just to create a list and share them all in one place. And please forgive my lack of descriptors and reviews. There’s a reason I read the books and don’t write them. ūüėČ

These are in no particular order…

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

I think this is one of the best reads I’ve read in a while. It’s a big of a historical fiction as it flashes back to the time of the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present. And seeing how the main character’s well, character developed from those that were important in his life.

The Offer

This is a light, easy-to-read, read-it-in-one-day kind of book (even though I do believe I took two days to enjoy it). I think I personally would have liked a bit more raunch, but it worked for me.¬†It has a sweet storyline.¬†I’d recommend it if you’re looking for light and enjoyable.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

I really loved this book. It was a book club selection and not something I would have grabbed to read on my own. But really, it was oh, so good. It’s got touches of magic and¬†fantasy, engineering and typography, love story, and technology all mixed in. It really is a smart read. And one you won’t be able to put down.

 

The Girl on the Train: A Novel

This is¬†being touted as the next Gone Girl. Which I can totally see. But at the same time, it’s not. But like Gone Girl, be sure give it a good 30% read through knowing that it’s going to get real interesting any page now.

Gone Girl: A Novel

By now, I’m sure you’ve either seen the movie, or heard the twists and turns. ¬†But trust me, read it. While the movie was a great adaptation – and the new ending was perfect for it – the book really freaks you and and leaves you thinking. Long after you’ve put the book down, you’re still in that “what the fuck?!?!” frame of mind. It’s that good. And that different from the movie.

 The All Souls Trilogy

I received The Discovery of Witches¬†in a holiday, white elephant, book swap. It has everything I love in a book…romance, intrigue, magic, a splash of sex with a good amount of raunch (what can I say?), time travel, vampires…you get it, right? ¬†And it was well written. I immediately fell in love. And since I was on winter break, I devoured it (notice a pattern here yet?). I immediately went out and picked up the second book, and even pre-ordered the third…which I then, again, immediately devoured. Some folks said they couldn’t get into the third book, but I think she did a great job bringing it all together.

The Red Tent: A Novel

I think it’s one of my all time, top 5 books of all time. Well, counting series (like The Wrinkle in Time as one, that is). I’ll admit, it had a slow start. I mean a really slow start. And at the time we read it (it was one of our first¬†book club reads – back when I read everything we picked), I hadn’t met anyone else that read it. So I powered through. But when it turned and got interesting, it got really, really good. I couldn’t put it down.

Big Little Lies

I totally stumble upon this one by accident. I think at the time I read it, no one I knew had yet to read it. Next thing I know, they’re making it into a movie. I liked it. It was a light enough read, with a bit of a mystery. And the characters were complex. I think it will make a good movie.

His Wicked Games

I’ve devoured everything Ember’s written over the past couple months. But I will say, the Wicked Games series is awesome. Just the right mix of engaging story and great smut. Tell me how many times you reread the scene where she tries to figure out his favorite work of art. And no, that’s not a euphemism. Oh and the pool scene in The Secret to Seduction (The Fontaines)? Yep, I think you’ll love that one also. You can also follower her on Facebook to stay in the loop of up and coming books.

Jade Calhoun Series

I’m also slowly working my way through Deanna Chase’s stuff. She writes mostly more of the supernatural type of romances, so I’m taking a little longer to read everything (I can only take in smaller doses as that’s not my fave genre). But, her Jade Calhoun series I really, really like. And all of her stuff is quite easy to enjoy – and devour in a day.

 

Again, these are in no particular order. And I realized I write some crappy reviews. But if you’re looking for a good book to read, here’s a great place to start.¬†Hope it helped.

I’d love to hear about your favorite books or suggestions for what to read next. I have a slew of things waiting for me on my Kindle. I’ll no doubt have more than enough to get me through summer break.

Where to Find Good Iced Coffee in Los Angeles

Iced Coffee: a Haiku

summer heat swelter
coffee iced sweetened cream splash
total refreshment

I’m just going to come right out and say it…I love iced coffee!

I mean the good stuff.

coffeegeek's iced coffeeNot just hot coffee poured over ice. The mild, cold brewed stuff. ¬†Now that’s my jam.

These days, I find if I’m not drinking a hot latte, then I’m drinking an iced coffee. I’ve even taking to perfecting the home-brew recipe so I can have coffee-on-tap – so to speak – all year long.*

And now that school is out for the summer, I can indulge in the even stronger – yet still mild –¬†c√† ph√™ ńĎ√° or Vietnamese iced coffee. Now that’s some heaven in a glass right there.

The other day, I was reading an Eater post about the best coffee shops in LA. Which of course got me thinking that most of those shops are known for their fancy drinks, their speciality roasting or beans, or even their accouterments and snacks.

But none were even mentioning their cold brew options or their gluten free options. And well, since I’m on summer break, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

So over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to visiting some of my favorite local coffee shops and/or gluten free bakery shops and share my thoughts. ¬†Most will primarily be focused on the Valley (well, it is local, right?) since that’s where I spend most of my time. But in the end, I’ll be sure to share my not-so-local places as well as I travel around.

And if there’s a place you think I should check out, feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out.

 

* PS: Don’t waste your money trying the International Delight pre-packed iced coffee from the dairy section. That stuff is horrible (I actually returned it for a refund and I’ve never done that before). ¬†Though both Illy and Starbucks bottles are quite good.

Photo: Flickr

 

 

Still Grieving

Back in January, shortly after his 15th birthday, we found out my little dog, Griffin was sick.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much.

We knew he wasn’t feeling well. And we knew, at 15 he was quite old. We knew once he turned 13 or so that pretty much any day could be his last. ¬†In fact, our last big vacation with him, up to Mendocino, we said we knew that that would be the last one he’d go on with us.

Happy Birthday Griffin

So we made the most of that trip. And we made sure that any trip we took without him, we always had someone staying back at the apartment with him.

morphine makes it better

goodbyes are never easy

Almost two months, to the day, we found out that his brother, Charlie was also sick.

Sweet CharlieFor some reason, there weren’t as many tears. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as sad. I think it was honestly easier to say good-bye to him since were weren’t dealing with emergency room visits. And again, we saw how skinny he was getting. We weren’t really surprised.

Here’s one of the sweet shots I got of Charlie before we took him in to the vet. I love this photo.
Saying Goodbye to Charlie

Here’s a photo we took a couple days before we said good-bye to Griffin. We knew once¬†he started letting the cat snuggle that he must not have been feeling well. But at the same time, this is such an adorable photo. It really shows how close they were. Where one went, the other went.
Griffin and CharlieNow, months later, we’re both still grieving. But things are getting easier.

And we’re starting to talk about getting some new, fuzzy little ones. Not today. Not tomorrow. But soon.

 

Imperfect 365: How I See the World

If you’ve followed me (here on this blog, or elsewhere in the social world) for any amount of time, you know that I love taking pictures. Mind you, not enough to actually pick up my husband’s Nikon Dwhatever¬†and actually learn how to use it. But my iPhone has been keeping me quite happy.

This year, I decided to participate in an Imperfect 365, photo-a-day challenge. So far, I’ve really enjoyed it. I think I’ve missed only two days in the 6 months we’ve been doing it. Though not that the school year is nearly over, I’m not certain how easy it will be get my daily shots in. I mean, I might actually have to leave my apartment (egads!!)

I wanted to share a couple of my favorites that I’ve taken this year. And if you want to follow along on Instagram¬†or check me out on Flickr, you’re more than welcome to.

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

Shop for Success: A Pop Up Store

Nothing quite like shopping for a good cause, right?

Shop for SuccessLA  LogoAnd no one does shopping for a good cause, quite like Dress for Success.

This coming weekend (starting tomorrow), Dress for Success Worldwide ­ West is providing the most fashionable women with a head start on their holiday shopping with Shop for Success, the third annual, four-day pop-up shop on December 4-7, 2013.

If designer duds are you thing, you’ll definitely want to check this out. ¬†They’ll be offering deals on merchandise from more than 100 brands like Cynthia Rowley, Catherine Malandrino, David Meister, Henri Bendel, LAMB and Stuart Weitzman.

This event is free and open to the public.  

Thursday-Friday, December 5-6th: 10 a.m. ­ 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 7th: 10 a.m. ­ 6 pm

For more details, visit Shop For Success LA 

KPCC Launches New iPad App

I love Public Radio. ¬†I didn’t always. ¬†But then I met my husband, and well, I kinda got a little hooked. ¬†Granted, I tend to like the more fun, less newsy kind of programing. ¬†But all in all, I’m a fan.

KPCC iPad Launch PartyLast night I was lucky enough to attend our local NPR station, KPCC’s launch party for their new iPad app. ¬†And yeah, I know, that sounds totally Californian….a launch party for an app. ¬†But they had every reason to be throwing that party.

They’re doing something that hasn’t been done before…not on public radio and not with news radio. ¬†They’re aware of how people listen to their programming and they’re making it available for their listeners whenever they want. ¬†And they’re making the new visually stunning (the photos and videos look great) and easy to read.

They’ve got this cool “short list” with bite-sized blurbs for the quick and dirty top news items (twice a day – morning and evening) that can easily be expanded to longer, more detailed pieces. ¬†And they’re culling the web for stories they know they’re interested in – even if it’s a non-NPR news source – that relates to us, the local audience.

They also recently started offering up some great panel discussions at their on-site, Crawford Family Forum. ¬†And on the app, you’ll be able to pull up previous events, watch the live events (I watched a great one from Geek Girls Dinners not all too long ago on Women in Tech via the website), and RSVP to future events (you know I’ll be at the upcoming Tech in the Classroom event).

Being totally honest, (and the wife of a web developer who’s always looking at pages and apps) I was impressed with what they’ve created. ¬†It looks good. ¬†And it behaves great – talk about having a good user interface. ¬†They put a lot into it, and it shows.

Way to go KPCC! ¬†I can’t wait for the new iPhone app upgrade that’s coming, as well.

Click here to find your app (the iPad launch is currently pending Apple approval).

First Ever Gluten Summit!

And of course, that should really read something more like “first ever summit about the gluten free lifestyle.” ¬†But I’m sure you get the point.

gluten-summitHow many times have you eaten something and felt horrible? ¬†In one way or another. ¬†How many times have you felt horrible for days and couldn’t even make a connection to something you might have eaten since you didn’t eat anything different than usual?

Have you been hearing so much talk about everyone going gluten free (might even think it’s a fad – big mistake there!) and started to wonder if maybe your aches, your pains, your migraines, your bloating¬†could be related to gluten after all?

That’s how I got started in my gluten free journey. ¬†I never would have put together all my symptoms – migraines, acne, chronic sinus infections, bloating, IBS-like bouts, gurgling digestion, achy back, aching joints, etc – as to having anything to do with having a gluten sensitivity. ¬†And sadly, neither did my doctors.

Well, thankfully, there are more and more good resources out there for some solid information (I’ll be sharing some of my favorites to come).

This week in particular, Dr. Tom O’Bryan (Facebook) is running the first even online summit for all things gluten, gluten free and yes, gluten sensitivity and Celiacs. ¬†And it’s all completely free. ¬†You’ll definitely want to check it out.

I first heard about Dr Tom from Sean Croxtin’s Real Food Summit (and podcast). ¬†And I have to say, I’ve learned a LOT from hearing him speak. ¬†And the reason I’ve been pushing him so much to my friends lately is that he’s actually easy to listen to and to understand. ¬†He makes it all make sense.

So definitely check out The Gluten Summit. ¬†It’s totally free and all online. ¬†And while you might not be able to catch all the experts (nor would I suggest you even try to do), I know you’ll find something useful.

Check out the video below for more info.

 

This is an affiliate linked post: Disclosure Policy

Pinup Girl Yard Sale

PUG-YardsaleWill you be heading to the annual Pinup Girl Clothing Yardsale in Burbank, this weekend? I hear they draw quite the crowd.  And they carry everything from sizes XS Р4X.

November 9th

10am – 4pm

ATB Studios 157 W. Providencia Ave, Burbank, CA 91502

Clothes , Shoes ,Swimwear, Accessories,

Sizes XS-4X Priced from $5 – $60

Food Trucks, Music, and FREE PARKING!

Cash and Credit Cards accepted!

*NO strollers, large bags, carts of any kind.

Believe it or not, it was my husband that brought this to my attention. ¬†Not because he has a thing for pinup girls (LOL – though who doesn’t, really?). Nope, he just wants a bahn mi from the Mandoline Grill.

Free Carl’s Jr Sausage Biscuit Day across Los Angeles!

Hey L.A., Why Not Make Friday the 13th Your Lucky Day?

SausageBiscuit_051412What: Friday the 13th is going to be a lucky day in L.A., for anyone who wants a free breakfast. That’s because Friday, Sept. 13, is Free Sausage Biscuit Day at Carl’s Jr. restaurants across the greater Los Angeles area. From 6 to 10:30 a.m. that day, everyone is invited to visit any participating Carl’s Jr. and get a free Sausage Biscuit.

Here’s how it works: Walk in or drive thru, ask for your free biscuit and get a Sausage Biscuit, free. Boom! That easy.

The Free Sausage Biscuit Day offer is good during breakfast hours only. No purchase is necessary; one per guest, who must be present, while supplies last.

When: 6 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.

Where: All participating Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Sadly, these made from scratch biscuits came out AFTER I discovered that I have a pretty severe sensitivity to gluten, so I’ve never tasted them (but boy howdy do I miss biscuits – especially since I’ve left Georgia). ¬†Far be it from me to hold anyone else back from enjoying a free sausage biscuit though. ¬†Enjoy!

35+ Year Old’s Guide to Attending Music Festivals

Summer is officially the music festival season. ¬†There are the big ones: Bonaroo, Lalapalooza, Outside Lands, etc. ¬†And then there are the smaller, more local festivals (we have quite a few here in the LA area – Pasadena, Echo Park, Sunset Junction, Eagle Rock – and those are just the ones that I’ve been lucky enough to attend).

Believe it or not, three years ago I attended my very first music festival.  And while knowing how much I enjoy going to concerts, that might come as a shock to you, trust me when I say, if I had my way, I could have gone on happily never having been to a music festival.

My husband, on the other hand, loves music festivals of all shapes and sizes and has attended many. In fact, it’s not uncommon for him to attend a handful during any given year.

Which of course means, eventually I was going to have to attend one.  There was just no getting out of it.

Lucky for me, my first festival – Austin City Limits – was a great experience (you can read more about it here). ¬†And since then, I’ve gone on to attend – and even enjoy – a few others. ¬†In fact, this past spring, I headed out to Stagecoach. ¬†Which I promptly decided that I would never do again…the heat, the dirt, the heat, the hike, the dirt, and yes, the triple-digit heat. It was WAY too much.

Next month, I’ll be heading back to Austin to for another round of Austin City Limits. ¬†This time around, I expect the experience to be even better. ¬†One: I’m interested in more of the bands that will be playing. ¬†Two: I know how things work since I’ve done it before. ¬†And three: I’ll be better prepared as I’ve since been to a few music festivals now.

Here’s my suggestion on what to bring if you’re attending a music festival…be it small or large.

  • A backpack – it makes the whole experience so much easier since you’ll have everything at your fingertips.
  • Comfortable shoes – this is the time to worry about being fashionable. ¬†Comfort matters. ¬†And take it from my personal experience (something I learned long, long ago), nothing ruins your day like blisters, bruises or painful feet.
  • Sunscreen – slather it on. Then slather it on a couple more times throughout the day. ¬†You will sweat and you will douse yourself in water to cool off, so I suggest going with the “sport” versions. ¬†And those sprays make for super simple application.
  • A hat – hipster, cowboy, baseball, garden, hiking…I don’t care what kind of hat. ¬†Just wear something that will cover your eyes from the glaring sun. ¬†The larger the brim, the better.
  • A refillable water bottle – most festivals won’t let you in with a full bottle or even a sealed bottle these days. ¬†But they will let you bring in your empty or your refillable bottles. ¬†And if they’re good at what they do and they care about their people, they’ll encourage you to bring in those bottles and have plenty of filling stations available (I’m looking at you Stagecoach – no idea why you didn’t tell people to bring bottles and why you didn’t have more filling stations…especially in that heat).
  • A towel – I’d actually go so far as to suggest TWO towels…one for sitting on (during Stagecoach it protected us from the itchy hay bales and during ACL it reserved our space for the final shows each night) and one for wiping down or dousing in water and wearing around your neck. ¬†Trust me, things get hot out there.
  • Toilet paper or tissue – you will be using porta-potties. ¬†Making sure you have your own paper on hand makes the experience a bit more tolerable.
  • Hand sanitizer – you’re going to be there for hours. ¬†You’re going to be using porta-potties (see above). You’re going to be sitting on the ground or wiping off your sweat. You’re going to be eating. ¬†You’ll be glad you brought a small tube with you.
  • Lip balm – though this might just be me. But it gets hot out there. ¬†And sunscreen on the lips isn’t a look that works for me. ¬†Then again, I’m a bit addicted, so I always make sure to have some handy.
  • A lightweight jacket or sweater – you’ll have been in the sun, sweating, dancing, baking for hours. ¬†Once that sun goes down, things get quite cool. ¬†Having a little something that you can put on helps.
  • A flashlight – most of these music festivals are in big parks. ¬†And once the shows are over, and you’ve left the stage area, it’s dark. And the walk back to you car (or bike, or the bus line) is even darker. ¬†Having even a small flashlight helps.
  • Phone charger – or back up power. ¬†Most festivals have charging stations, some require that you have your own cord. ¬†Others, have the hookups there for you. ¬†Either way, it’s worth having handy.
  • Bandaids – you never know when you might get that blister or scrape. ¬†Can’t hurt to have some on hand, right?

If you’re a female, I’d also suggest that you wear dresses or skirts. ¬†Those porta-potties are much easier to use (and to balance) when you can hold your close up and away instead of having to pull things down and away. ¬†Just a thought.

If you’re part of a group, you might also want to have something that sets you apart from the rest of the hundreds of thousands of people. ¬†Think tall flags, things with lights, etc. ¬†It really does make it easier to find your people…especially if drinking has been involved.

This list is by no means perfect. ¬†But it should get you through in comfort…until you can create a supply list that works better for your needs.

If you see me at ACL – merrily reliving my youth along with Depeche and the Cure, feel free to say Hi.