Archive for June, 2013

Book Review: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

revenge wears prada

Author: Lauren Weisberger
Pages: 381
Score: 3/5

Lauren Weisberger’s new book, Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, picks up about ten years after her book, The Devil Wears Prada left off. I was excited when I heard this book was coming out, and very much was looking forward to revisiting the life of Andy Sachs to see if she had acquired the writing career of her dreams and to see what kind of  life she made for herself after she had regained her independence from magazine editor and fashion warlord, Miranda Priestly.

When I read a book and love it, I feel that when the book ends I am cheated out of knowing what happens in the futures of the characters (I know, it’s not the author’s fault). I want to continue on with them, watching their lives evolve as friends do. The sequel is a temporary fix for this. When a book is finished, it’s usually just finished. The characters go buh bye, and the reader moves on to the next literary peephole to spy on new characters. Then, the cycle continues…

Catching up with Andy years later was like a treat, but also somewhat like a curse. I had higher expectations for it. I read The Devil Wears Prada not long after it came out in 2003. I should have maybe read that again before reading the sequel to refresh my memory, as it is not the same as the movie and the differences kind of blur together for me years later. Anyway, the sequel filled in some of the memory gaps of mine. In short, the first book ended with Andy quitting her assistant job at the prestigious Elias-Clark glossy magazine, Runway, which was run by the boss from hell…Miranda Priestly. Oh, the shit Miranda made Andy do!

In Revenge Wears Prada, it begins with a nightmare Andy is having the morning of her wedding to Max Harrison, heir to the Harrison Media Holdings empire. In her dream, she is again in indentured servitude of Miranda Priestly and Max rescues her. She awakens from this nightmare realizing that today is the happiest day of her life. She is marrying the perfect man, has her own wedding publication with best friend and former first assistant to Miranda, Emily Charlton. She has only happiness and success in front of her. Or, does she? Was this Miranda nightmare some kind of bad omen?

In the world of popular fiction–yes.

While I loved catching up with the old characters and meeting the new ones, I felt very strongly that this book did not live up to its predecessor. First of all, I was shocked to learn Andy’s magazine venture was a wedding publication called The Plunge, and not some harder hitting type of journalism, and that her business partner was Emily. I thought it seemed out of character for Andy. I thought the level of friendship was unlikely based on Emily’s snide, sarcastic, and downright insulting attitude. Andy also seemed to be overly paranoid–about everything. Honestly, I was getting frustrated with her because I thought she was being paranoid over things which could have been resolved with a simple conversation. She had also become a bit of a whiny doormat. She didn’t seem to have the kind of independent woman mindset I had anticipated.

Obviously, being in the magazine business, she runs the risk of running into Miranda at various events. How she had escaped bumping into her for so many years surprised me, especially since Andy’s husband, Max, was in the media business as well. Miranda’s character remained pretty much the same; she was aloof, rude, inconsiderate, calculating, domineering, and bitchy in all her Runway glory. She makes her initial appearance at a yacht party, and seems to not recognize Andy or acknowledge her. Not long after this encounter, Miranda’s “people” contact Andy and Emily with an offer for Elias-Clark Publishing to acquire The Plunge into their high fashion fold of print media. This would put the women back in a position of working under Miranda once again, as she is the editorial director of all the publications this media mogul company encompasses. You can about imagine what kind of nightmare that would turn out to be!

The writing of the book didn’t have the same punch I remember from the first book. Maybe it is my age talking here! I am a bit more critical of writing style than I was years ago. I seem to remember finding more humor in The Devil Wears Prada, liking Andy and Emily more, and feeling more involved with the story overall. Andy lost some of her relatability for me this time around.

The most humorous line I highlighted in the book was:

“I simply had to meet the girl Max can’t stop talking about,” Mrs. Harrison said in some kind of crusty, not-quite-British, probably-just-too-many-years-on-Park-Avenue accent. “You must be Andrea.”

-Weisberger, Lauren (2013-06-04). Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (p. 33). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

I expected more lines and character descriptions like this, and I thought they were few and far between. This line reminded me of the style in which the first book was written.

I gave this book a score of 3 out of 5. It was good enough, but fell short of the initial hit. If you like to be reunited with characters, I think you will get some sort of pleasure reading it. However, keep in mind it may not be what you think it should be. I was sort of satisfied with the ending…moderately. That part was at least a bit rewarding after the exhaustive paranoia and frustration with character communication between one another.

First Week Foodie: Mushroom & Chorizo Pizza

Rangeeli Chick - Mushroom & Chorizo Pizza

Welcome to the first segment of “First Week Foodie,” a regular monthly segment of the Rangeeli Chick blog where the first week of every month I showcase one or two recipes I have never tried before and make a few changes or additions. The June installment kicks off with Mushroom & Chorizo Pizza.

I haven’t had chorizo sausage in a long time, and for some reason, I had a craving for this spicy and salty meat. There are both pork and beef options. Both taste good, but I tend to always lean more towards the beef variety. But what did I want to do with it? I hadn’t had some really good homemade pizza in awhile, so I went to searching for a fairly easy recipe.

The original recipe is courtesy Chow.com, and I also pinned it to my Favorite Recipes Pinterest board. I will post the full recipe below with notes on what I did differently.

First, you will want to pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place an upside down cookie sheet on a middle rack.

chorizo

No, this is not pizza sauce my friends! This is that delicious chorizo. Squeeze it from its casing into a fry pan and begin browning it on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Brown it for about 7 minutes. It will still be fairly red in color when it is finished cooking.

mushrooms, onion, and garlic

Saute the mushrooms, onion, and minced garlic (as much or as little as you like), after adding about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until the ingredients begin to brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Then, take your cookie sheet out of the oven to prepare your pizza crust.

pizza dough

Roll out your dough, drizzle the still upside down cookie sheet with some olive oil. Place your dough on the sheet.

topping the pizza

Spread the chorizo on the dough. Follow it up by distributing the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture on top. Next, we top it with the cheese!

cheese it up

I am a cheese addict, so I pile on whatever cheese I have handy. The recipe called for Jack and Parmesan, but I had to improvise in the absence of the Jack. I used Mozzarella  Then, drizzle some olive oil over the top.

Cheesy pizza goodness

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. It depends on the dough you are using and the thickness. I used Pillsbury brand pizza dough and the edges turned a bit dark by 12 minutes, however, it wasn’t overdone. The temp was also a bit high. Just monitor the dough and be sure to check the baking instructions on any pre-made dough you use.

The final product tasted amazing  It had the perfect amount of spice in the sausage, and the mushrooms added a nice chunkiness to the toppings. The additional garlic and onion incorporated extremely well with the other flavors, and was the perfect complement.

Below is the recipe with extra notes. Pizza is a pretty easy dish to make, and it is extremely customizeable  Everyone has different tastes and it is fun to experiment with different flavor combinations!

Mushroom & Chorizo Pizza

Total Time: About 45 min.  Servings: 6-8 Approx.

  • One 10 oz. Package Chorizo (I only used 7 oz. on the pizza).
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (Use more if needed for drizzling).
  • 1/2 Cup Jack Cheese (I used Mozzarella).
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms (It called for Cremini, but use what you’d like and as much as you’d like).
  • Store Bought Pizza Dough
  • Minced Garlic (To taste).
  • 1/4 Medium Sized Onion
  • Salt and Pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an upside down cookie sheet on a middle rack.
  2.  Remove chorizo from its casing into a fry pan and begin browning it on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Brown it for about 7 minutes. It will still be fairly red in color when it is finished cooking.
  3. Saute the mushrooms, onion, and minced garlic (as much or as little of these ingredients as you like), after adding about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until the ingredients begin to brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Then, take your cookie sheet out of the oven to prepare your pizza crust.
  4. Roll out your dough, drizzle the still upside down cookie sheet with some olive oil. Place your dough on the sheet.
  5. Spread the chorizo on the dough. Follow it up by distributing the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture on top.
  6. Add your cheeses on top and drizzle with about a Tbsp. of olive oil.
  7. Place pizza in oven as per dough instructions. Check the pizza periodically to get desired results.

My Summer Bucket List

Rangeeli Chick Summer Bucket List

Last summer, I decided to make a bucket list. I normally don’t do hyped up, goal oriented lists but I can handle short term bucket lists. I never make a New Year’s Resolution anymore because I feel there is too much pressure attached. Only 8% of resolution makers actually reach their objective. Trust me when I say, I have always been in the remaining 92%. Goals are great, but resolutions have a stigma associated with them that makes us think we need to do something that will transform us in a huge way. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and the key to making a reachable goal is to set an objective that is first and foremost realistic.

Bucket lists are somewhat similar to the almighty resolution, but I don’t think there is quite as much pressure or hype. Most of the time, a bucket list is made up of things to do in one’s lifetime. I have one of those hiding somewhere as well, but I wrote it maybe ten years ago. It doesn’t really apply to who I am today. My life has changed since then. My wants have changed a lot as well. This is why I like the short term bucket list a lot more–it is current and can grow with me.

I basically look at my list as things I’d like to do over the next three months or so. If I don’t get them done by the chosen time of completion, it is ok. I can still do the remaining activities on my list at some point, it just didn’t happen over the summer. I don’t beat myself up about it. Whatever I did accomplish I still feel good about. That should be the point; a bucket list is a guide, it isn’t a set in stone list that should make you feel badly about what you did not or could not do.

Last year when I made my bucket list, I wrote down 15 things and put them into three categories: Things to Make, Things to Do, and Places to Go. I completed only four things on my list last summer and semi-completed another, but in no way did I see anything on my list as failure.

So, what did I complete?

  1. Get some sun. I am normally a homebody–doing things outdoors doesn’t really thrill me. I hate bugs because I can’t really shoo them away very well, I burn fairly easily, and I get bored. On the other hand, I enjoy the heat of the sun, going out without needing a jacket, and vitamin D is extremely important. Making myself go outside felt good! I don’t know about you, but being in the sunshine really boosts the mood and makes me a little more motivated.
  2. Start a blog of randomness. I can only say I completed this about a third of the way last summer. I began trying to put together this blog and found a nice layout. The problem was my creative drive wasn’t really there. Now, I am happy to say I am in a more ambitious and creative frame of mind for this project.
  3. Read three books. I went way beyond this–I read over ten books from June to mid September. I was really in the reading groove!
  4. Attend a nearby arts festival. This wasn’t a very difficult thing to achieve. I am not sure I will go this summer as it sometimes isn’t all that fun due to big crowds and curbs. These two things aren’t exactly wheelchair friendly.
  5. Go to the Minnesota State Fair. I have never been to this fair and I had always heard about all the foods on a stick and the butter statue carving. Being the second largest state fair in the country (Texas is the largest), it is about time I went to it since I have lived in Minnesota my entire life. I didn’t eat anything on a stick that day, but I am an adventurous eater and was totally enthusiastic to try the new cow tongue tacos! Yum!

None of the above fell in the “Things to Make” category, so maybe I will try harder to accomplish making a physical object this year. Now, let me show you my Summer of 2013 Bucket List which will cover the entire summer beginning on June 1st, and ending September 15th.

Things to Make

  • Create a cute design for a t-shirt or other item.
  • Make a crafty piece of jewelry.
  • Make some DIY eyeshadow colors.
  • Cook at least four new recipes per month.
  • Finish the Rangeelichick.com Facebook page.

Things to Do

  • Read at least 12 books.
  • Record at least one public YouTube video.
  • Develop two regular blog segments.
  • Grow some fresh herbs.
  • Go through my closet and get rid of clothes I don’t want.

Places to Go

  • Take a trip to the Mall of America.
  • Go to at least three new restaurants.
  • Go to an Ikea. (I know, I’m weird! I have never been to one, but the idea fascinates me!)
  • Road trip to the East Coast. (This might be wishful thinking!)
  • Drive to a winery and do a wine tasting.

There’s my list! As I said, a bucket list should be used as a guide…a motivator. Most of them are pretty simple and realistic, and from time to time I will refer back to it as a reminder to stay on track. If some of my chosen items don’t get completed, I won’t feel as if I let myself down. It is simply ideas of what I’d like to do. I can always attempt to try again at a later date. Whatever I can cross off this list in September, I will feel happy that I have done what I have done!

Are you making a bucket list for the summer? I would love to see yours! Feel free to post a link to your list below or tweet me @rangeelichick!

 

Photo credit: meetminneapolis / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Olivander / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: ldandersen / Foter.com / CC BY-NC