Monday, April 4, 2011

black heels to tractor wheels, part 2

More questions from The Pioneer Woman's book!


(Samantha) What did you think of Marlboro Man's proposal? How would you feel if you were proposed to like that?


Their relationship was such a whirlwind, it just seemed to fit. It was like they were in a big hurry to start their lives together. It didn't fit his personality to come up with a big surprise. My husband proposed in a really thoughtful and romantic way. Not that I didn't love it, but I would have said yes and I would have been thrilled if he had just asked while we were watching TV. Its hard to say... I'm just glad he asked.

(Samantha) She wrote a lot about never riding in a pickup truck before and how she used to judge girls who rode in the middle. After being with Marlboro Man she felt differently and actually wanted to ride in the middle. How do you feel about that? Have you ever judged somebody and then after learning more, regret that you had judged them?



I think she was always jealous! If she was swept away by just seeing the backside of the Marlboro Man in the bar, she must have had a thing for cowboys. She was most likely not allowed to do such a thing- either by her parents or society. I think that is totally understandable. Being a mom has made me retract a lot of judgments, particularly over kids with messy hair or food on their faces. Also, personality has just as much to do with temper tantrums as parenting skills. I have been humbled more often than not and I laugh about the way I used to look at frazzled moms!


(mcbracey) Do you wonder what Ree is doing all day? How is she financially making it? Is she really just waiting around all day to meet up with Marlboro man at night?



I got the impression that she was packing for Chicago up until about the time he proposed. I'm assuming that her parents were taking care of her financially. She might have been looking for jobs- both in Tulsa and Chicago.  Maybe she was just watching a lot of movies and dreaming of her cowboy...

(mcbracey) Would you let your now husband duck out of your reception to watch a football game?



Probably not, at least not for an extended period of time, but we did consider what sporting events might be occurring when we picked the date of our wedding! I also think they were still so lovey over each other, she would have let him get away with anything.

(Erin) So many embarrassing things have happened to Ree in front of Marlboro Man. What is the most embarrassing story that comes to mind when you think of embarrassing things that have happened to you in front of a significant other?



This book has brought out a lot of personal questions! I do embarrass myself, but most of the good stuff happened before I met my husband. I did pinch him this weekend after he stole my phone to snoop on plans for his birthday. We were out to lunch with his parents. He cursed loudly and nearly fell out of his chair, most of Panera was looking at us. I didn't mean to pinch him that hard! His parents must think I am abusive.

(Erin) How would you have reacted to being around for the prairie fire?



My family had a house fire when I was in high school. I was the only one home and had to call the fire department. I don't think I would have reacted well to being in the middle of the flames again.
(Rachel) There have been so many funny little stories along the way in the book. What has been your favorite? Any favorite lines?



I just love how sweaty she is! Her blog is so honest, a little crass, and so real. The book has polished her stories to a shine. The sweaty comments and stories remind me why I love her writing. The story about the family wedding and the beautiful suit made me giggle. I loved picturing her in the bathroom, stripped, trying to cool off, and of course the Marlboro Man comes looking for her. 

black heels to tractor wheels, part 2


I went on vacation and then spent a week trying to catch up on work. My questions were delayed! I did finish the book during my travels, so I cheated... again. 


This month we are reading Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. It is a real life love story between a city girl and a cowboy. During a pitstop at home in Oklahoma between Los Angeles and Chicago, Ree meets Marlboro Man and her plans are radically altered. I love The Pioner Woman's site, particularly her recipes, so I was excited to read her book. My mom had read about their courtship on Pioneer Woman and raved about it. It is so very romantic. I am having a hard time not reading ahead (Ed. note: this didn't last very long)!


Book club members were asked to submit questions, hence the name before each question. 

(Rachel) Has this book brought you back to the beginning of a romantic relationship in your life?

Her story does not remind me of any specific relationships, but I do remember that general giddyness and giggleyness (just made those words up, feel free to borrow them) that is part of a new relationship. Its quite fun to think about, actually! There are few things better than a great first kiss.

(Erin) What surprised you about Ree? If this was your first time reading about her background, did anything surprise you about her "beginnings?"

Although I hadn't read the love story on Pioner Woman, my mom had told me enough that I understood their beginnings. I was a little surprised at all the brand name dropping. I am assuming that is to emphasize her big city life. I also didn't realize that she lived in LA for such a long time. Moving from LA to a ranch would be a TOUGH transition. I can't believe she was a vegetarian either. Her recipes are very carnivore friendly!

(Nina) While reading Part I of Black Heels, did you find yourself comparing your own love life/story to Ree's?

Its natural to do the comparison, and I did relate a bit to giving up "your plan" for the love of your life. My husband and I have more similar backgrounds than Ree and Marlboro Man. Jake grew up a little closer to cornfields than I did and often comments about how he just wants a "piece of land," but we aren't moving to the country any time soon! I do understand the sacrifice of leaving the city as I left my big city to move closer to him. Even though I live in a suburb of Chicago, I miss living downtown.


(Nina) Would you have handled ex-boyfriend (J) the same way or differently than Ree did?

Its so hard to say without knowing J or being part of those conversations, but I probably would have done the same thing. Its hard to call it quits after 4 years when no one has done anything wrong (i.e. cheating, gambling binges, other nasty behavior). I'm sure that I wouldn't have been confident enough in my decision to just break-off communication in LA. I would hope that I would have ended things in a more official capacity after a few dates with MM. To be honest, I would have called J after that first night in the bar!


(Nina) Have you ever made a life-changing decision based on a guy in your life? And how did it work out for you?

I'm having a hard time answering this question without getting too personal... there is a lot more that I can say, but I won't!  I will say that if Jake and I weren't married, I would probably be living downtown Chicago. I love the little suburb that we live in, but I do miss the city.


(Stephanie) How do you think Ree's family felt that she was just going to give up going to Chicago for a guy she had just met?


I think they were probably pretty confused! I'm sure her parents and her brother Mike were happy that she was staying so close to home. Her brother in Chicago thought she was making a huge mistake (which he told her) but hopefully once he met MM he felt better about it. Her sister seems very supportive. I'm sure she was happy if Ree was happy.



(Rocky Mountain Wife) If you were Ree and started to question your life plan (leaving Cali, moving to Chicago, being independent for a while)...how would you feel when this sudden romance came into your life at the 'wrong' time?

I would think that I would question my motives. MM was kind of a rebound from J. There was a bit of time between Ree meeting Marlboro Man and their first date, so she had time to think about what dating him would mean. They spent so much time together. They must have known each other pretty well. I think it would be so hard to have decided against shaping my life around one man only to (even more dramatically) do the same for another. Their love seems so very romantic, like new love. I wonder how true to life that was!
(Meghan) How do you think the situation with Ree's parents affected her relationship with Marlboro Man? (Or do think it did not affect her?)


It definitely affected her. It made her question all the happy moments of her childhood and I'm sure it shook up her image of an ideal marriage. It seems like she didn't let it hurt her relationship with Marlboro Man, perhaps it made it stronger.

(Meredith) I love all the details of Ree's cooking for Marlboro Man in the early stages of their relationship. Have you ever made anything for the guy in your life that was just an utter disaster? Did he choke it down anyway?


I am my harshest critic when it comes to cooking and baking! There are things that I have made that we both choked down due to the amount of time or money that I spent making the dish. Lately it has been overcooked chicken or noodles- having a toddler makes you forget about what is on the stove!  I don't think I was brave enough to cook during the early stages of our relationship.

(Amber) How much of Ree's book do you think is truth or fiction? How much did she embellish? Do you think she omitted or added anything? Obviously she couldn't get EVERYTHING that happened during this period of her life in the book, but I kept wondering what was left out and if some of the stuff she was writing was built up just a teensy tiny bit.

I kept thinking that she was writing the book with her children in mind. They would read it someday and I'm sure they wouldn't want to hear about mom and dad getting hot and heavy in the back of the pick-up truck or their messy arguments. She used a lot of "flowery words" (the dreaded critique from my high school English teacher) in describing their make-out sessions and I'm sure that she was leaving stuff out! I don't really think she was embellishing their love... I think they had a really long honeymoon period. I can't believe that they only fought once between meeting and marriage. I can see MM being a calming influence and not one to argue, but Ree seems like a firecracker. I could see her picking a few unnecessary fights!


Monday, February 21, 2011

ape house questions, part 3

Wrapping it up! Although I didn't love the book, I did really enjoy reading along with the Book Beginnings and Bookends group and I am looking forward to next time!


1. How would you describe the relationship between John and Isabel?


Blah. I don't understand what happened! It seemed like something exciting was going to happen and then it just fizzled to nothing. I didn't want John to cheat on Amanda, but I was hoping there would be some "oh, are they going to kiss!?" moment and there was nothing. It seemed like any attraction was one-sided (John's) and I'm not really sure what the point of it all was.

2. What was your reaction to finding out Peter's role in the explosion and capture of the apes?



I kinda saw it coming. The author had been hinting that Peter wasn't such a great guy since the beginning. It made sense that someone from the "inside" had facilitated the capture and I really didn't think it would be Celia.  He was a bum.

3. Both John and Amanda ended up achieving their professional goals. Amanda ended up getting pregnant and John is excited about having a baby. Do you think this is the end to their problems? Can John and Amanda be happy?



If John got all hot and bothered about someone he hardly knew, I can't believe that he wouldn't do it again. I also wonder how much Isabel had to do with his love for the apes. He is still reporting on the apes and Isabel. He is also taking these dangerous assignments to Africa while his wife is pregnant?! I would hope that he would snap out of it and be happy at home, but I doubt it. Perhaps if his career is fulfilling, he can be happy at home.
4. What did you find to be the most intriguing about the bonobos?



The language! I would love to watch them communicating with Isabel. They are so misunderstood and underappreciated.  

5. Which character did you enjoy reading about the most?


Isabel. She seemed the most interesting and complex. I always enjoyed when the author came back to her. She was so strong. She battled back from the horrible accident hardly thinking of herself but only of her apes. I would have wanted more on her history. Her insistence on calling the bonobos family made her seem so lonely. 

6. Was the ending what you expected? Did things resolve the way you thought they would?



The tone of the book led me to believe that it would have a happy ending. I couldn't imagine the apes being killed or sent off to that horrible test site. I did think that John and Amanda's marriage might have ended or at least left rocky, but I didn't think John and Isabel would get together. 

7. And finally, any overall thoughts or feelings that these questions haven't addressed? How would you rate this book for others? Any part that you loved? Anything you hated? SHARE!



I honestly didn't love the book! I thought there was way too much going on. What was the deal with the meth lab and the dog? What about Isabel's background? Why did Gruen try to make us think that John was the father of the green haired kid? I'm not sure why we needed to know the story of his first sexual experience. Cut the green haired kid, cut the meth lab and the dog, cut all the details on the porn star. Give me more on the bonobos and Isabel. I thought the scenes inside the Ape House were the most interesting. I wish much more of the book had been spent detailing their adventures. I guess I was just frustrated that it ended with so many random loose ends. I'm not sure how I would rate it... What is the scale? I give it 2 out of 5 Jane Austens!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ape house questions, part 2

Here are my responses for chapters 13 to 25 in Ape House for the Book Beginnings and Bookends group.  I read ahead, like last time, and I am really regretting it! I'm struggling to put myself back where I was before I had finished the book... Next time I will wait for the rest of the group!


1. Would you watch or be tempted to watch a show like Ape House?


Aside from being a HUGE fan of the Bachelor, I don't watch a lot of reality tv. I guess I watch Jersey Shore, too, which seems a little like Ape House. I could see watching it once or twice, but concern for the animals would make me turn it off.  It is such an unnatural setting for them! If someone like Isabel had been part of the show and it seemed to be a loving environment, I might have watched!

2. Do you think John did the right thing by quitting his job and moving to L.A.?



I do. His marriage was suffering and nothing good could have come from him staying behind. He needed to get out of that job, too, although I thought he was a little crazy for leaving before finding a new one.  I also found it sad that he and Amanda hadn't talked through her new career and move more thoroughly before she left. She sprung it on him and expected him to just go with it. He took the news better than a lot of partners would. I wonder how moving to New Mexico will affect their relationship.

3. We haven't seen a whole lot of Isabel in this section, but what do you think of Peter now that we know more about him?


He is a creep! He slept with Celia, which is enough to think he is a bad guy, but his previous treatment of the apes makes him seem like an opportunist. I am also pretty confident that the "shithead from Kansas" is Peter. He must be involved in the show, and possibly the sale of the apes to Ken Faulks. I'm not sure why Faulks would have a relationship with him otherwise.


4. Can John turn the ape story for the tabloid into something he is proud of? Is he getting a little bit of redemption by being assigned to his dream story again even if it is for a tabloid?


I can't imagine US Weekly publishing an in depth article on the mistreatment of apes, even if there were a hit television show on the subject. It would be fluffy and really just filler for the photos... not that I don't love US Weekly! If this were reality, he could bring some attention to the apes and maybe help the cause. I doubt his editor would want more than that. I keep thinking that he should sell the story to a better paper. Can a journalist even do that? Probably not. Based on the tone of this book, I bet he gets the final story published in its entirety so that his trip to LA wasn't a total waste.


5. Have your thoughts on John and Amanda's marriage changed since last week? Where do you see their marriage headed?


Their relationship is so sad. She is clearly struggling and he is gone.  I keep thinking something horrible is going to happen to her- she is robbed, she has a horrible miscarriage, she is publicly embarrassed by having her ideas stolen and kicked off the show. My thoughts haven't really changed. I still think that John will seek comfort in Isabel and Amanda will be terribly hurt.


6. What do you think will end up happening to the apes?


I really can't imagine that Gruen would end this book unhappily. I'm not sure exactly how it will play out- another university offers to buy them, an anonymous donor helps Isabel to purchase them, maybe something illegal is revealed about the sale and the FBI gets involved- but the apes will be okay.

Monday, February 7, 2011

ape house questions, part 1




I joined the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club! I have fond memories of wine, gossip and better reading habits from my last club. A virtual club meeting means that I am only left with the books, but so far that is working out for me. I can drink wine will I am reading the other members' posts! The current book is Ape House by Sara Gruen, of Water for Elephants fame.

We are asked to answer questions from the book on our blogs, so here we go! It hurt my brain a little, particularly when I tried to pretend that I hadn't read ahead! I would love to discuss further in the comments. You can join the group here.


1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans?

I was interested! I find our relationship to apes fascinating. There is still so much more to learn from them. I was also probably a little nervous about animal cruelty. The word "lab" conjures images of needles and cages. I am uncomfortable at zoos as I feel like those animals should be in their native environments. I understand that zoos can sometimes help protect a species from extinction and that our education is important, but it still makes me squirm.

2. Isabel said early in the book that the apes know they're apes and know that the humans are humans, but they don't see any superiority with either... What do you think the major difference is between the two?

We do not share the same social restraints- I am assuming that the bonobos have their own rules! Their sexual behavior was the most apparently different from our own. They are free to have both homosexual and heterosexual encounters publicly with any of the apes in the lab (excluding little Lola). They have preferences, but it seems to be more of an admiration than a romantic relationship. We also do not live in a matriarchal society. Bonzi is in charge of their group and thus far her superiority has not been challenged. She is not their mother, and yet both the males and females follow her. This is not unheard of in our culture, but it is not the norm.

3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out?

I am hoping that their romance is never realized. His relationship with his wife is strained by her depression and new career, which might make Isabel more attractive. They hardly know each other (at least by chapter 12). I think his attraction is just an escape from stresses at home. If I had to guess based on the clues the author has laid out, I'm sure there will at least be some kissing in commiseration of their battle to get the apes or in celebration of their return home, particularly with Amanda in Los Angeles. Amanda will find out and be hurt but I don't see Isabel and John running off into the sunset together.

4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken?

I admit I read ahead, but her reaction isn't a surprise. She won't stop until they are in a safe environment where she can be close to them again. She considers them family. Without a close human family of her own and a less than perfect relationship with her fiance, they are all she has.

5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center?

No. She cares about Isabel and the apes too much to risk their safety. I think being part of an animal activist group could be congruent with the activities at their lab. She is definitely odd and secretive. Isabel trusts her and we haven't been given enough clues to make me believe that she has a dark side.

6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda?

He loves her. They have been together for most of his adult life. His career is being challenged and Amanda's depression forces him to suppress his own needs. Her move to LA is threatening to make things even more difficult. He is looking outside the relationship for an escape.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

indie wed 2011

Mom, Elise, Eloise and I are heading back to Indie Wed in a few short weeks! We had such an amazing time last year and collected a few goodies. I think Elise found some wedding inspiration last time, but now that her wedding is only eight months out, she might be on more of a hunt. Who is joining us?

Here are my summary posts from last year.


This year, they added Bride and Groom Lounges, staffed by local salons. I am very curious to see what this is about! I am also looking forward to getting to know a few vendors. Dressmaker Lindee Daniel looks interesting. She is a green vendor, creating flowing and unique gowns from sustainable materials. Her site is still under construction, but I found a few photos from her show for New York Bridal Week.



I also might linger at the Tipsycake booth. Yummmm....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

photographing the city of love

Sneaking back into the party like I never left... shhh...

Sweet, whimsical and definitely romantic, Irene Suchocki's photographs of Paris are begging me to visit.




The artist turns the lights of Paris into love with a special camera lens. She can adjust the color to suit your tastes. Her shop includes valentines and a variety of print sizes. This in a FoundRe frame would make a perfect Valentine's Day gift.

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