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Archive for September, 2011

Ah, where do I begin?

About the Author

Since I’ve already introduced you to Mr. Follett in my post another one of his novels, “Fall of Giants”, I will spare myself the space (and you the time it takes to read it) and just dive right into the novel.

About the Novel

“Pillars of the Earth” is a historical novel that was written in 1989, but, not made popular until word-of-mouth and popularity in Europe made it’s way across the Atlantic.  In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that a lady named Oprah decided to put it on her book club list.  While I’m usually not a fan of her recommendations and didn’t know that it was on the list until after I had read it, she done good.  The woman done realllll good in this case.

The setting is primarily in a fictional English city, Kingsbridge, during the 12th century and centers around the building of a cathedral over multiple decades.  While a book about building cathedrals might sound lame…it’s not!  There is murder, adultery, romance, tension, women’s rights issues, corrupt Lords, royalty, beautiful duchesses, monks, political struggles, and most importantly….vivid characters.

Ken Follett has a gift that many other authors attempt and fail at, character development.  While he does have over 1000 pages to work with…he does such a phenomenal job of introducing you to them on every level.  Whether it be first person, second person, professionally or personally.  By the end of the book you are so familiar with the characters that you know what their reaction will be to a situation, which is something that few books and authors can claim (unless you read Nicholas Sparks and they all start to blend together).

My Favorite Characters

Since the story is too extensive to get into and I didn’t want to spoil it, I thought a good idea would be to give a bio of my favorite characters:

The story begins with Tom Builder, a father that finds him and his family fighting from starving after being let go after the building of a castle is cancelled.  Without giving away too much, Tom eventually finds himself running into Prior Phillip.

Prior Phillip is a 20 something devote monk that gave himself to God at the age of 4 after he was adopted by a monk after watching his parents being brutally murdered by soldiers.  Prior Phillip is a constant character that all others center around in the novel and was one of my favorites.  SIDERANT: It’s good to note that the book does a wonderful job of not making this into a religious book or giving it a “down with old world Catholics” type of message. 

Yes, it's so good that Starz made it a mini series!

Aliena is the daughter of the Earl of Shiring and the intended bride of the evil William Hamleigh.  Aliena has the world on a string as a responsible 17-year-old that will eventually reign the earldom beside her brother.  That is until the unspeakable happens and her future is ripped from beneath her, making her completely powerless and left standing in the ashes with her brother who is still a child.

Review

I LOVED it and have now begun to dive into the sequel, “World Without End” which is about descendants of the characters from “Pillars of the Earth” and takes place in the same location, about 200 years later.

If you’re a person that is looking for something different from the norm…but that has simple vocabulary and a page turning plots, this is your book. I 110% recommend it.

*****/5 stars!

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Sunsets
700 Commons Dr
Woodbury, MN 55125

Websitehttp://www.sunsetsrestaurant.com/woodbury/index.shtml
Menuhttp://www.sunsetsrestaurant.com/woodbury/menu.shtml

How Did I Find This Place?

I “found” Sunsets about five years ago when I began working on the East side of town.  I go here ALL of the time since it near where I work and I am embarrassed to say that I have never blogged about their phenomenal happy hour.  They feature appetizers ranging from $2.00 for a twice baked potatoes to various dishes up to $4.99 including the following:

  • Artichoke Cheese Dip
  • Buffalo Wings
  • Basil Pesto Quesadillas
  • Bruschetta
  • Chicken Flat Bread
  • Szechuan Wings
  • Mussels
  • Sunsets Sliders
  • Nachos
Here are the appetizers that me and my good friend Liz decided upon and overestimated ourselves on.  You might not be able to tell but the portion sizes are extremely large.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and the largest serving side West of the Mississippi

Bruschetta

Mushrooms...REALLY good ones

As always, Sunsets didn’t fail to deliver in this case.  It’s a restaurant that has reasonably priced food with a chef minded menu, focused on fresh ingredients.

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Upon my visit home this summer, it was deemed official that I am a gardening ROOKIE. See here for photographic evidence of my lack of gardening skills and the awesomeness of my parent’s gardening skills:

Sneek Peek of my Mom's Garden

Yup, grapes in Wisconsin....

How great do these peas look, honestly?

Pretty sure I don't have broccoli. While I used to have cucumbers, those fell to the blade unfortunately.

Fresh raspberries, check!

All and all, the whole thing just kicks my garden all over the place!

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Many of my friends and family from out-of-town have asked for the engagement story and since I’m not sick of telling it yet (and probably never will be since he did such a great job of surprising me), here it goes!

Vital Story Background

Me and Mister started dated three years ago during the Thanksgiving of 2008.   Since it was around Christmas time, he asked me on a romantic city date to Minneapolis to watch the Hollidazzle parade and for dinner downtown afterwards.

Since it was about 5 degrees outside, he agreed to sit in front of one of my favorite downtown locations so that we could hop inside and outside….the downtown Barnes and Nobles.

SIDE NOTE: As many of you know, reading is something that I’m very passionate about.  Browsing around bookstores is something that I find peaceful and that I find myself doing when I’m overwhelmed with life as a kind of meditation.  Some people find that inner peace when they’re running or in a yoga class, but not me… it’s browsing book stores. : )

Well, this date ended up being the best that I had ever been on!  We got to talk about books that I had read, books that I still wanted to read, hobbies that he liked while walking through the “Hobbies” section, current event topics and what our thoughts were on those…and we hadn’t even been out to dinner yet!  This was the date that changed it all and it was when I fell in love with a person would end up being my fiance.

Fast Forward 2.5 Years to Today

He had asked me if I wanted to go on a bike trip the weekend over Labor Day to a town South of Minneapolis.  Our summer had been very busy and we had not gotten a chance to get out-of-town and be away from everything.  To say the least, we were both looking forward to that time away.

Then, during the week of Labor Day he asked me if I was interested in grabbing dinner in town Friday before heading out on Saturday, to which I said “sure”…not thinking anything of it.

Friday rolled around…we left the house for dinner and parked downtown in a strange spot.  I insisted that he didn’t know where he was parking and kept suggesting that we park elsewhere.  He kept telling me that he knew where he was parking, so I let it go since I’ve been working hard on not being a bossy little brat.

While walking down the street to our destination, M&S Grill, Adam gave me a card and insisted that I walk and read since we needed to make our reservations.  Again, I didn’t think anything of it and kept up pace with him while reading and dodging through people.The card was sweet and had a message that was very special to me.

He then encouraged me to read the folded letter that was inside as well.  The letter was one that I had written him on our one year anniversary about how special our relationship was to me.  On the bottom of my letter it said “and I can’t believe that this all started for me on Hollidazzle in front of a Barnes and Nobles”.

He then told me to “stop!”.   I said, “Stop reading or stop walking??”.  Then this is what happened:

This is me getting to the end of the page where he told me to “stop”.  I had my head down the entire time reading and didn’t really even have a clue where I was since we had parked in a strange location.

He then turned me around, and this was my expression upon realization that we were in front of “our” Barnes and Nobles.

That same instant he hit his knee and my mind went completely blank…I was so excited and surprised that I don’t even know what he said but I’m sure that it had something to do with marrying me!  At this point, there were about 15 strangers and passerby’s gathered round watching the proposal.

‘This photo ended up being my favorite because it shows the insanity of being in a city and how we’re just lost in our own little world at this specific time and place…

Kudos to Joey for taking so many great photos!

By the time that I had kissed him and said “yes”, people had started clapping, congratulating us, and taking pictures of us with their cell phones.  It was pretty unreal!

I still didn’t know at this point that there was anyone taking photos of us and was in utter bliss about what had just happened.

Here you can see a some of the people back on their route after seeing a surprise proposal that they probably hadn’t been expecting on a Friday night downtown!

Immediately after this he finally told me that our friends Joey, Kayla and Mike had been inside the bookstore window the whole time taking pictures.  I guess that they had even “staked out” the location at lunch that day to ensure that everything would go smoothly!

I was so happy that all of my friends and family that live far away were able to see the shock on my face, along with the happiness that I feel so thank you so much to Joey, Kayla and Mike for being there and capturing the whole scene!

PS: The lady on the right was texting her friend after she had just taken a picture of us and told us enthusiastically that we had “made her week” ; ).

Here’s the Barnes and Nobles that now holds an even deeper spot in my heart.

SIDE NOTE:Look like I’ll need to put down my Kindle and start purchasing some more books in store so that my sweet memories don’t get taken away!
Here’s the shot that some of you have been asking for, the bling!  As many of you know, he has better taste than I do when it comes to things like this so it is of no surprise that he impressed.
He even picked out a generic band so that I could pick my own since we had never been ring shopping or talked about what kind of ring I want.  Always thinking…
And there you have it all folks, the story of how we got engaged!  And I couldn’t have been a luckier girl to have found such a special guy that takes very good care of me!

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