Friday, April 28, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

I finally saw "Memoirs of a Geisha" last night. I've been waiting to see this since I first heard the movie was being made because I read the book about 4 years ago and I could not put it down. It is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, and I loved learning about the Geisha world. In choosing books to read, I usually look for settings in worlds I know nothing about, cultures that I can learn from. I love learning about Asian culture, the slavery era in America, Native Americans, and even the South. These are all worlds that are foreign to me and that fascinate me every time I enter one.

I decided to reread the book before I saw the movie and I got through it pretty fast since we had our 12 hour trip to and from Ohio a few weeks ago. So I went into the movie with a knowledgeable perspective. I don't know why I put myself through the torture. The movie is NEVER worth seeing after reading the story first. I'd say the best book-to-movie transition I've experienced is Gone With the Wind. But you also have to take into consideration that Gone With the Wind is a long movie, so they were able to stick to the story with some continuity.

Memoirs of a Geisha is gorgeous, I'll give you that. The settings and wardrobes were breathtaking, especially those set in Japenese gardens. But there was so much missing from the story. I was constantly thinking to myself, how will anyone who has not read the novel know what is going on? It was patchy and confusing.

Bottom line and personal opinion of Tara Chapman: More disapointing than most movies based on popular books. There are thousands of movies out there--don't pick this one next time you're at Blockbuster or logging onto Netflix!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Recipe Obsession

I have an addiction to recipes. I just love them--I love reading them, I love watching people cook, I love trying them out myself. I have a rediculous amount of cookbooks and I read them and re-read them all the time. Not only that, but they are marked up with little post-its and then cross-referenced into dish type categories in Word on my computer. That way, when I'm looking for something specific to make, I can look under "Soups" or "Main Dishes-Pork" and find something pretty quick. (I know at this point some of you must think I'm crazy.) But wait, there's more.

Before we got rid of DirecTV, I constantly watched the Food Network--it was by far my favorite channel. Now that I don't have it anymore, once in a while I'll pop in a Food Network DVD because, yes, I bought a few of those collections at Target. So once in a while I can get a food fix from a favorite chef or two. To me, food is the prettiest thing to look at on TV--it's so vibrant and colorful.

And then there's the internet. When I'm bored, I'll settle onto the couch with Mark's laptop and start browsing recipes on or or As if I don't have access to enough recipe ideas, I constantly work on building up my online recipe boxes.

When does an obsession become unhealthy? =)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Follow Up On Familiarity

Okay, I'm hearing through the grapevine that a few people are thinking I'm in the depths of despair or something because of my last entry. I swear to you all that I'm absolutely fine--I'm not freaking out, I'm not depressed, I'm not looking for security (I KNOW where my security lies!). I was merely pondering some things that have drastically changed for me. Just thinking out loud. As my friend Abby says, her blog is about death and darkness, while mine is about coffee and donuts. =) So I guess I can see where the concern comes from. Thank you to those who care.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I had an epiphany today: there is nothing familiar going on for me right now. I don’t know my family, I don't know my new friends well, I don’t know my old friends the way I used to, I don’t know my church, I don’t know my town. I don’t know anything anymore except for my husband and my kids. Praise God for my own little family. There are things about God I don’t know anymore either—things I thought I knew in the past and now I question. It’s not the most important things about God—I know He loves me, I know He’s faithful, I know He’s my Father. Things are just different than the things I always learned, and it confuses me.

What a weird place in life to be. I crave familiarity.

(By the way, this may sound melancholy, but that's not how I'm feeling--I promise I'm not feeling sorry for myself or anything, I'm just musing over some facts of life, and this is what I came up with today.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dunkin Donuts Coffee

Okay, a lot of you friends have heard my opinions on Dunkin Donuts coffee in the past. But I'm feeling the need to wax eloquent on the topic today because I got to have a cup this morning on our way out of the Chicago area. Anyone who knows New England knows that DD coffee is pretty much a religion up there. In the Boston area where I grew up, there are DD stores literally on every corner, but as I have moved on in life and in the country, I've learned they are not as common everywhere else. Could be partly because DD was born in Massachusetts, could be because the rest of the country hasn't learned the wonders of the perfect cup of coffee yet, I don't know. All that to say, I don't get to have it very often anymore (except for around Christmas when my mom sends me pounds and pounds of cinnamon--shout out to Kylene!), so when I get to have a cup fresh from the store, I am immediately taken back to the first 18 years of my life when it was just common fact DD coffee was part of the daily routine for pretty much everyone I ever knew. I was speechless when I found out that after ten years of living in Clarks Summit, PA without a DD in town, one was being built as we moved away...

I know there are a lot of people who don't understand the obsession and who think it's trivial compared to Starbucks, etc. I do like Starbucks coffee. But as a true Bostonian, my heart will always love Dunkin Donuts more than anything else.

Quick anecdote: anyone watching the Red Sox in the playoffs a couple of years ago could not have helped but notice Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at a few games--they flashed enough pictures of them. You may also have noticed that Jennifer always had a Starbucks cup, while Ben always had a DD cup. Ben grew up in Boston. Silly story, but just wanted to share since I know a ton of people who also noticed--and these are people who aren't from Boston, they just know me!

There really aren't words to describe a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, so I'll just end with this:


Friday, April 07, 2006

New Hometown

I have always been able to pinpoint a year of my life when I hear certain songs. “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel reminds me of 8’th grade. Tom Cochran’s “Life Is a Highway,” “End of the Road” by Boyz To Men, and “When I Look Into Your Eyes” by Firehouse take me straight back to 10’th grade. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something encompasses my entire Freshman year of college. The 40 Acres CD by Caedmon’s Call is my Sophomore Year, and the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” takes me right back to single girl apartment living with Kim and Kristen. It hasn’t been as distinct since I’ve been married—I don’t really know why. But I can already tell I have a new song for this spring. It’s “New Hometown” by Sara Evans. Here are the lyrics:

Every day we walk right past
All the concrete and the glass
I don’t know where we’re going
I hardly see your face
And there’s not enough space
For all the love we should be growing

We just need a little earth to stand on
Plant our hearts on solid ground
Turn the lights out on this city
And wake up in a new hometown
We’ll stand out in our front yard
Where we can finally breathe
If we find a little earth to stand on
Baby, you and me

Imagine Friday football games
Where everybody knows our names
They even stop to say hello
I’ll bet they have a town parade
Kids selling lemonade
Baby, don’t you wanna go

We’re leaving for Chicago, then on to Columbus, via Cleveland, in a few hours. Hello Midwest America! For me, there’s nothing like a road trip with a fabulous country song playing me into the sunset… (Too bad Mark will be listening to political talk radio--yaay for the wonderful iPod!)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Kiddos

Here's Jake and my little surfer girl, Rory--just hangin out around the house today.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I smell Spring!

This may be the first winter of my life that I'm dying for it to end! I am a fall/winter person by nature. I love everything that comes with cold weather--the leaves changing, pumpkins, snow, holiday season, sweaters... But I think that may change a little now that I have kids. They are so sick of being pent up inside and we're all going crazy. It also may be because of where we lived this year--on the second floor of an apartment complex. To get the kids anywhere to do anything, inluding to play in the snow, is a major production. It will be interesting to see if next winter is different, being in our own place again. I wonder if it will be easier on the kids, having more space to play inside, being able to play in their own backyard anytime they want. We'll see.

Anyway, the windows have been open, the kids are wearing sneakers instead of boots when we go out, the grass is getting greener, we're wearing lighter coats...we're almost there! Best of all, Cadbury Eggs are in the stores (and my cabinet!) which is always the first sign of spring.

I'm about to go hard-boil a dozen eggs to decorate!

Who ARE you, Boston Belle?

Someone posted this comment to my Barnes and Noble entry:

"Tara, I can't believe how interesting you still are...maybe I thought part of our identity got washed away with motherhood and family life...but you have shown that we can remain the same pensive souls we always were. I say amen to all your thoughts on "B&N" because, for some strange reason (seriously unbeknownst to me), it has remained my favorite place in all the world for almost ten years now. I'm there ALL the time!"

I can't figure out who you are--my guess is Amy S, but I want to know for sure. So whoever you are, Boston Belle, post again and tell me your identity...Thanks!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Packing AGAIN?

It's been 8 months since the last time I packed up our existence. Only 8 months! How can I possibly be starting this again? And we have STUFF, man--a lot of stuff. We really down-sized with our last move, so this time may be a litte easier, not to mention there are bins and boxes that never got unpacked here because there just wasn't space. But still, here we go again.

Mark was in a frenzy over the weekend. That's what he does--during the week he has stuff on his mind so he keeps to his weekly routine, but once the bug hits on a weekend, there's no stopping him. He goes and goes and goes and asks questions about my stuff and some of his stuff and about half filled storage bins and if we can chuck this or never ends until Monday, and then I can pack peacefully. =) I just sit and play on the computer or watch a movie and go about my routine with Jake and Rory during the frenzy. It's easier that way. We both know what works for us so we stick to it.

So now it's Monday morning and I'm trying to figure out where to start...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Green Tea Latte

I hit the Mall of America today. I only go once in a while and it's always to visit my friend Abby, who works at Starbucks there. It always brightens her day to see my kids waiting in her line. I went today because my mom's birthday is next month, along with Mother's Day so I had some browsing to do. There are lots of specialty shops there so I thought I'd check some out since my mom likes specialty stuff. I never SHOP at the Mall because it's more of a place for us to go just to get the kids out of the house. The Mall is a world of wonder for my kids--Lego Land, drinks of water from Abby in special Starbucks cups with GREEN straws.

All this to say, I got a green tea latte today (thanks, Abs!!). I wasn't sure how it would go over because I'm a no-tea/all-coffee kind of gal. But Abby's been raving about them, and I do really like chai, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted summery (it was iced, by the way) and light. And I quite enjoyed the greenness of it!

Try one and tell me what you think.