Friday, July 29, 2011

Aloha, Vintage Hawaii

Growing up I always dreamed of going to Hawaii, especially when one of my aunt's honeymooned there after her wedding (that was when I was about 4 years old).  I finally got to go a few years ago and I said it then and I'll say it again, I would retire in Hawaii in a heartbeat.

For now I'll just reminisce and explore a little vintage Hawaii.  I'm including some Etsy finds, some vintage photographs, and a little video. 

Check out this bust of a Polynesian Beauty from the 1950's/1960's. 
From Bombshell Bettie's Vintage on Etsy.

Or this classic 1940's Muumuu (you can't have Hawaii without a Muumuu). 
From Stelma Designs on Etsy.

Here are a group of students from the University of Hawaii during the 1940's
The University dates back to 1907. During the 40's growth of the school was stalled because of the war.
Photo from LIFE Photo Archive
In 1944 Trader Vic (Victor J. Bergeron) was hosting some friends from Tahiti.  He concocted a drink for them one afternoon and one of them exclaimed "Maita'i roa ae!", which translates to "Very good!" or "Out of this world!".  The drink was then incorporated into Trader Vic's restaurant in Oakland, California.  Make your own using light rum, orange curaƧao, creme de almond, lime juice, pineapple juice and dark rum (for method, proportions and other variations, see the recipe here).
A Mai Tai I enjoyed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort while on vacation in Oahu
And while you are sipping your Polynesian libation, enjoy this clip from Blue Hawaii (1961) starring Elvis Presley

Friday, July 22, 2011

Movie Review: It Happened One Night

Since I do love a good, or even cheesy, romantic comedy, I figured why not go back to one of the originals. It Happened One Night (1934) stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and it was the first movie to win an Academy Award in five categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay). The plot centers around a spoiled heiress named Ellie Andrews. Ellie has married someone against her father's wishes and after being discovered before the marriage is consummated, she runs away to find her estranged groom only to be intersected by out-of-work newspaper reporter Peter Warne (played by Clark Gable). Warne is down and out, and after he recognizes Ellie, he offers to help track down her groom on the condition that she will give him an exclusive story. Ellie agrees since her other choice is having Warne rat her location out to her father. Ellie and Peter then begin a journey to find Ellie's groom not knowing that the two will soon find love in each other. Before the two can be together, however, there are a few little complications, and although the title alludes to "one night", the story takes place over several days.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Colbert and Gable. Gable plays the part quite flippantly and although he's a wisecrack, he is also lovable and attractive. Colbert is also quite charming, but vulnerable too and up for an adventure with Gable. Before Colbert accepted to take the role, she was about to leave for a four week vacation to Sun Valley, but she agreed to shoot the film only because Columbia agreed to double her salary and not take more than four weeks to complete filming. The film was finished in four weeks, but you can't tell from watching it. It is very well made and has some great lines, comedic talent, and of course love.

Photo from
I first got the inkling to watch this movie after seeing it in Sex and the City 2 when Carrie and Mr. Big are watching the famous hitchhiking seen where Colbert reveals a slice of her gams in order to hitch a ride.  It turns out that at first Claudette Colbert refused to shoot the scene as she deemed it un-lady like, however, after she saw the body double that would be doing the scene for her, she decided she didn't want just anyone representing her legs, so she did the scene herself.  Also, even though the film won so many Academy Awards, it wasn't warmly received at first and even Colbert complained to a friend that she had just finished making the "worst picture in the world" when shooting finalized.  When the nominations for the Oscars came out, Colbert decided not to attend the ceremony, instead she made her way to the train station for a cross-country trip.  She was intercepted though when the studio chief sent someone to pick her up so that she could attend the ceremony, so for this reason Colbert accepted her award wearing a two-piece traveling suit.  A film did not win five awards again until 1975 when One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won in the same categories as It Happened One Night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Summer Series by Jenny Han

Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009, 2010, 2011; 276, 275, 291 pages; ISBN  0545230500, 1416995552, 1416995587
My Goodreads Ratings: 5 stars, 4 stars, 4.25 stars, respectively

Because I love romance books and love triangles are even better, I'm going to combine all of my reviews for the Summer books by Jenny Han here and just write up one big review for the whole series.  I first picked up on the series in 2009 when the first book came out, The Summer I Turned Pretty.  I won't lie.  The cover was definitely eye-catching and one of the reasons I picked up the book, but I was also intrigued by the title and by the author herself because I had so much enjoyed her earlier release for the pre-teen crowd called Shug (2006).  That year The Summer I Turned Pretty was one of the few books I gave 5 stars too (a rating I only reserve for books that I would re-read again).  The plot goes like this.  Belly (or Isabel) has been going to the beach house at Cousins Beach every summer since she can remember. Along with Belly, are her brother, her mom, her mom's best friend, and her mom's best friend's two sons, Jeremiah and Conrad. Summers are always the same, yet each year brings new changes that leave great impressions on Belly.  Belly has had a crush on Conrad for years, but he has always been the kind of boy that seems unattainable. Jeremiah on the other hand has always been sweet and loveable, in a friend-sort-of-way. The summer when she turns pretty is when most of the story takes place, but there are also chapters that flashback to other summers. 

Basically this first book sets up the story of Belly, the beach house, and her love for Conrad.  I loved the romance aspect of the book and how the author captures Belly's thoughts, concerns, and her love for Conrad, for being at the beach house, and for everything associated with her summers. There are some sad bits mixed in and I do agree that sometimes Belly does come off as whiny and bratty (a comment I've read time and time again from other readers/reviewers).  But.... that's the point.  She's a teenager and teenagers will behave this way no matter what.

The second book picks up after Conrad and Belly have broken up.  Yes. They finally date and it seems that Belly's prettiness has paid off (well, not just that, but you know what I mean).  But now Belly and Conrad's romance is over and Jeremiah comes looking for Belly because Conrad is missing and has dropped out of school (I admit, he's a real ass-hat in this book).  Plans to go the beach house for this summer are never definite (because of all of the sad parts that happened in book one and of course because Belly and Conrad have broken up) but now Belly heads that way with Jeremiah.  And of course that is where they find Conrad.  At first it's pretty awkward.  Belly is not only dealing with the Conrad drama, but also with a new detached attitude from her mom and hardly any support from her best friend Taylor.  Some of the chapters in this book are told from Jeremiah's point of view, so this book is much more about his feelings for Belly and how she gets over Conrad. Regardless I'm all for Team Conrad, even with his sour attitude. The ending of the book is kind of abrupt, it seems like Belly ends up with Jeremiah this time, but there is a little surprise at the end that keeps you hanging. 

When it came time to read the third book I really wasn't sure which way it was going to go.  I breezed through reading it because I just wanted to see who Belly ended up with already. In this book she's in college and has been with Jeremiah for the last two years. She is convinced that they are each others only true loves and that Conrad was just that first love that she will never forget. But as soon as Belly is near Conrad you see the effect he has on her. I don't want to give too much away for anyone that hasn't read the final book, but I will say that all in all I'm happy with the way things turned out.  Out of the three books, the first is still my favorite because to me it was the one that really captured the magic of summer at the Cousins beach house.  It bridged that time in a girl's life when she realizes that she's no longer an awkward, gawky kid and it revealed to Belly that Conrad was possibly not so unattainable after all.
I look forward to what comes next from Ms. Jenny Han - I love her writing and her books. I also made book trailers for all three books as I read them (the first one has the most views ever of all of my book trailers!).  Also, check out my other book trailers on my channel.

Photos: From website

Friday, July 8, 2011

Teen ARC Giveaway: More Soon-to-be-Published Books!

*Congratulations to Patrice and Brooklyn Shoe Babe for winning this giveaway!*
Thanks to everyone for participating - next giveaway will take place sometime in September.

Enter for your chance to win one of these two sets of soon-to-be-published advance reader copies.  The first set includes Across the Great Barrier (Frontier Magic Book 2) by Patricia Wrede and From Willa, With Love by Coleen Murtagh Paratore.  The second set includes Stir it Up! by Ramin Ganeshram and Unfriended: A Top 8 Novel by Katie Finn.  

Fill out the form below to enter, and if you are so inclined:

These additional actions will provide extra entries, but are completely optional. Winners will be picked at random, and entries are valid only for United States residents. The deadline for this giveaway is July 21st, 2011 at 11:59pm (PST).  Winner will be announced right here on this post on July 29th.  Good luck!! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Read a Book, Sip a Cocktail No. 7

Photo from

I posted my review for Twenties Girl in a previous post, but now that I've been doing the cocktail and book pairings, I was instantly reminded of the great potential for a throwback cocktail to pair with this nostalgic book.  So I'm offering up a cocktail based on the sidecar, which was a very popular drink during the roaring twenties.  The sidecar has its origins in the early part of the twenties, either in London or Paris (nobody can truly say), and it is traditionally made with cognac, an orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec), and lemon juice.  As with many other classic cocktails, ingredients, variations, methods, and the like will always vary, so in some cases it is made with brandy instead of cognac, and some say that there were even more ingredients that were whittled away as the years have gone by.  Nonetheless I'm going the cognac route with my version of the sidecar to pair with Twenties Girl.  I'm calling it a Bruised Sidecar and it's made with all of the classic ingredients, but I'm also adding muddled blackberries.  

Fresh blackberries
Fresh lemon
I have to say that I have actually never had a sidecar, so for my first attempt at my version of it, I'm very pleased.  It is extremely lemoney (is that a word?), but the sugar rim helps to balance it out (I would suggest cutting the lemon to 1 oz. if you aren't a fan of so much lemon).  You would think that with so much liquor content that it would not be a drinkable drink, but it is actually very smooth.  You can taste the layers of cognac and Grand Marnier, and then you get hit with the brightness of the citrus and then the sweetness of the sugar crystals.  Yum-eee.  I had a bit leftover in my cocktail shaker, so I made a second version which consisted of the lemon juice, cognac and Grand Marnier base, and then I added a splash of simple syrup and a couple of whole blackberries (see a pic on the Nostalgic Librarian Facebook page).  This was a much more drinkable, sweet drink, but I felt that it wasn't as authentic.  The best part of the first version was the mash up of blackberry bits at the end.  I look forward to ordering a traditional sidecar at the next bar I visit.

Bruised Sidecar
2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Grand Marnier (if you don't like sweetness as much as I do, use Cointreau instead, since it isn't as sweet as Grand Marnier)
2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Blackberries
Granulated Sugar (for the rim)
How to:  Rim a stemless martini glass with sugar.  Then muddle a few blackberries in the glass and set aside.  In a cocktail shaker mix ice, cognac, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice.  Shake for at least 20 seconds, then pour into the prepared martini glass.

Grand Marnier
Before the muddling began
All bruised up!
The finished cocktail
In the middle of enjoying some bruised goodness