Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maman's Homesick Pie - Donia Bijan

Title: Maman's Homesick Pie
Author: Donia Bijan
Published: 2011; Pages: 250
Genre: Memoir/Food
Rating: 4.5/5

Isn’t amazing how food can be so connected to memory? And homesickness? And love? Or is it just me? I remember when I went off to college I would request certain meals, when visiting home, that tasted like home to me. There are still so many recipes and meals that remind me of childhood or more specifically of my mother. Even earlier this month when my mom and I visited my grandmother, Grandma had her cookie jar full of her special caramel brownies because she knows my mom loves them. Being reminded of my own food memories is just a small part of the reason why I loved Maman’s Homesick Pie.

Maman’s Homesick Pie in short: Author Donia Bijan shares her experiences of growing up as a child in Tehran, her teenage years as an immigrant in America, and her years in San Francisco and France where she studied to become a cook. Woven into Donia’s own stories are the memories of her family and the importance of food and cooking in her life.

Why I read it: Lisa of TLC Books mentioned Maman’s Homesick Pie on Twitter one afternoon and I *knew* I had to read it. I raised my hand to be included on the tour and ladi-da.

Thoughts in General: Maman's Homesick Pie is a delicious book. So go read it. The end. No really, I read this book during the readathon and there were so many times when I sighed out loud at Bijan's writing and descriptions and might have even hugged the book. Maman's Homesick Pie is a book to be savored. It isn't just the food talk that makes the book so delicious, but the nostaligic manner in which Bijan remembers her parents and the struggles of being accepted into American society and the search for belonging. This book has a lot of heart and it was easy to be swept up in Bijan's storytelling.

Maman's Homesick Pie contains several recipes throughout the book, mostly of Persian influence. I admit that I am familiar with many of the tastes and scents Bijan describes, but after reading the book I feel I must discover cardamon. The recipes range from simple quick bites to savory chicken and lamb and duck dishes to sweets. I didn't have a chance to make any of the recipes but I have the Sour Cherry Upside-Down Cake bookmarked as I think Scott will love it. But more than just recipes is the way that Bijan pours her heart into each item: "This [Rose Petal Ice Cream], reminiscent of a scent more than a flavor, is what I imagine people who have fallen in love ought to eat. It is new and fresh, evocative and mysterious. It is not vanilla" (216). [hugs book to self].

My only complaint is that the storyline felt disjointed at times. There were frequent jumps back and forth in time and if these jumps were tied together through segues I missed them. Sometimes I found myself thinking “huh, where and when am I”? But, also remember that I’m highly distracted these...ooooh look, something shiny!

Bottom Line: Foodies be warned—this book will make you salivate. And those of you interested in the cultural perspective of the book won't be disappointed. While Donia's family was exiled from Iran when she was still young, her Persian culture and upbringing are very much a part of her life and thus the book and story. And those of you who are like me and love memoirs period, well...what more can I say?

And the writing! See what I mean:
"You used all your sense: you looked at it, touched it, and smelled it to know it was done, then lifted it out of its caramel pool, tasted the jus, adjusted it with a squeeze of lemon, and sliced through the lettuce wrap, its emerald leaves now translucent against a milk white breast, the scent of truffles begging you to come closer. You were made of stone if you didn't fall for this dish. I never tired of the pattern of assembling a dish, falling in love iwth it, sending it away. You shrug and start all over, but each time it feels different--you and your dish in perpetual courtship" (169).

Giveaway: I was thrilled when Lisa sent me an email noting that I would be able to giveaway a copy of Maman's Homesick Pie to a commenter. I know there are some foodie readers amongst y'all and even some memoir lovers. For US/Canada folks, enter to receive a copy of Maman's Homesick Pie by leaving me a comment below with a special food memory you have. Or a recipe/dish that reminds you of home. And your email address, of course.

**Giveaway Closed**

Ok, so even if you don't enter the giveaway, I'm really interested in hearing what your food memories are. Makes me excited for the holidays coming up when we can carefully choose our traditional holiday menus. What about you?






Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Algonquin Books, and Donia Bijan for providing me with this reading experience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SIX Month Update - 10.25.2011



Six months. Half a year. Elle's first half birthday. Goodness gracious.



Looking back to the early months it seemed as though time crawled. But now? Zooooooooom.



So what's up this month? SO much!



Sleep - Dare I mention that Elle has been sleeping through the night? As in all night? As many nights for 11-12 hours? Granted this isn't every night, but 8-11 hours is certainly better than the 5-6 hour stretches last month.



So, did we sleep train? Nope. I turned off the blasted monitor. Turns out I can hear the baby crying in her room upstairs from our room downstairs. But, I don't hear all of the little peeps and whining. And now that she's sleeping on her stomach she seems to sleep much better. Her sleep positions crack me up, though. Wish I could figure out how to capture those on camera without waking her up.



Eating - Elle is still mostly on the bottle (formula at this point) but has cereal every evening and seems to love it. I can't imagine why and I'm sure that when she gets her tongue on real food she'll stick her nose up at the cereal. At least I would. But it's so fun to put her in her high chair and watch her smack her lips in anticipation of cereal. She eats it really well, though she does like to suck her thumb during the process so we have to hold her one hand. Sometimes she grabs the spoon and just chews on it. What a character.



We'll start her on more solids next week after I take her for her six month check up. I've been really concerned about allergies since Scott has serious food allergies, but I just keep crossing my fingers that she's OK. If you have tips for baby foods, I'd love to hear. Anyone make their own? Am I totally crazy for thinking I can do this as a full-time working mom?



Routine - by now I feel like we have things down pat. The weekends are hard on her naps as Scott and I tend to run around outside of the house a lot. I try to get her to take at least one good nap before we go running about, though. Elle is great about sleeping in the car but I know this isn't as good of sleep as if she were in her crib. Scott still gets her up in the mornings and I put her to bed most nights. She's been great about not needing a lot of intervention at bedtime--this is where not using a paci comes in handy! Though I won't mention that daddy rocked baby to sleep tonight. (sucker!)



Development - Holy cow! what a month for development. A few days after I wrote up her five month post, Scott was watching her during the day. He emailed me to tell me that when trying to put her down for her nap she kept rolling over onto her back from her tummy. Ha! It took about a week before I could witness the rolling over, but she was soon rolling from tummy to back to tummy again. Poor babe only knows how to roll in one direction each way so still gets stuck sometimes, but I fear that crawling is imminent!



Also new this month are two little baby teeth (see second pic below). Apparently the first tooth must have come when Scott and I were in Arkansas. The first day we were home I noticed Elle playing with her tongue so I checked her gums. Sure enough, one little tooth was poked through her bottom gums and another was on the way. I'm still stunned that she didn't show any of the signs of teething--the fussying, sleeplessness, fever, drooling. Maybe this comes with the bigger teeth?



We're working on the sitting up. I know that it will take a while before she's completely stable while sitting, but I'm convinced that when she starts sitting better then bathtime will go better. Kathy/Bermudaonion mentioned a bathring in the comments of my last post and I've been on the search for something like this--anyone know what I'm talking about and where I can find one? Anyway, Elle certainly is a strong baby and seems to have pretty good control over her body.



Personality - Still sweet as can be and still a total daddy's girl. I'm convinced that Elle's a morning person like her mommy as this is when she's the most smiley. It makes me sad that I miss this time as I'm usually out of the house before she wakes up--though there have been a few times when I've had to rush to work after a few stolen smooches. While sometimes Elle can be so quiet and observent, othertimes she is full of spunk. I can't wait to see her personality continue to blossom.



And what a good baby she is! Makes me feel like I totally made up the colicky stage from months 1-3.5. We never have any concerns with taking her out in public to restaurants or public places and she did amazingly well on her first plane trip to Utah this month. Maybe a little restless after being held for two and a half hours, but she was so good. And thanks for the suggestions on the pacifier and bottle for when acscending and descending! And she's great with other people holding her. When we were in Utah she was introduced to my very very large extended family. She was passed around and handled it like a champ. Though I think her favorite was my grandma. It was so sweet to watch Elle with her great-grandmother.




In the past month Elle has lost much of her hair. She still has quite a bit on top but you can see from the first picture that it's lightening up (color in this picture is probably most accurate). When it grows in, I'm convinced it'll be blonde. I had white hair when I was a baby and Scott was fairly light.



A note on the pictures. I'm still torn on the public privacy issue, but I think the comment I liked most was to just post crappy pictures. Ha! There is a kind of truth to this, I guess. Not that these are crappy pictures, but I think for now I'll reserve my absolute favorites for myself until I can get my hands on a watermarking program. Anyway, six month pictures:















Wishing I could freeze time right now...just for a few more weeks...



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Salon 50! Readathon Oct '11 End of Event Meme


Good morning Saloners and fellow readathoners! Ok, so we're bordering on afternoon, but who's keeping track?

I wrapped up the event totals on my last update post, but in short I finished one book, made it through 2/3rds of the cheerleading list, and participated for 17ish hours. It was an AWESOME day.

If you skipped over my readathon posts, I don't blame you, but I did have a somewhat peppy cheer vlog at 6:45 yesterday morning. Most of you have probably seen me vlog before, but if not--nice to meet you.

End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 17 was the most difficult. My pinky seriously does hurt from hitting that shift bar so many times. Ha! I was tired and finding it really hard to concentrate knowing that I needed to head to bed at midnight (top of hour 18). Even when I crawled into bed my mind was still reeling!

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Go for short books, lots of variety, graphic novels, maybe audio books. I think the key is variety!

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I saw a few people mention that they didn't know what to do when the readathon started. I think we take for granted all of the veterans who already know what to do? Also, we had opt-out for those who didn't want cheerleaders, but maybe also stress the opt-out for those who can't participate any more.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
I'm not going to lie--I didn't really pay attention to the actual readathon as I was so focused on the cheering aspect. It seemed to work really well and I think everyone had a really great time!

5. How many books did you read?
One - Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan

6. What were the names of the books you read?
See above

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
the one I finished :)

8. Which did you enjoy least?
N/A

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Whew. How about YOU guys give ME feedback? I'd love to hear how you thought it went--whether you were a cheerleader or just a reader.

But a big huge shoutout to all of the cheerleaders. Especially Erin who did all of the legwork in getting the Cheer HQ site together and setting up the cheer squads. You guys certainly put the Rah Rah in this event! ;)

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
If I can, I'd love to. Elle will be a year in April, so it's tough to say. I LOVED cheering but I also felt a little disconnected from the normal crowd I cheer on. But, I think I do better as a cheerleader than reader.

As aways, a special note to Dewey. Thank you for starting this readathon. You cannot imagine how much joy you continue to bring to people. xoxo. 

How was YOUR weekend? Crazy baseball games? Crazy football games? Fall festivals??


Readathon Oct '11 Hours 13-17 Update (aka the end)


Readathon Update for Hours 13-17

Pages: 50 - Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
Time: 45 minutes

TOTALS:
247 pages read
235 minutes reading
Books Finished
45 minutes blog updating
XX minutes cuddling with the babe (bedtime duties)
700?? minutes cheerleading
One Trilllllllion Exclamation Points
0 mini-challenges (WAHHHHH!!)
Food: Coffee (x2), Special K, Sonic BLT and Tots, A few Oreos, sweet potato chips
1 Prizes YAHOOOOO  #makemehappy 

The look on my face when I learned I won a prize:


Reading Goodnight Moon my Chickpea Banana


Sooooo, I met two out of my three original goals. I finished a book (which I really enjoyed!!) and I stayed up until midnight.

But I didn't get around to all of the participants. I didn't want to just copy the same comment over and over..and I'll admit that I might have gotten a little distracted by twitter. I conquered A-K and U-Z and a bit in between. Those Ms are daunting!!   And, because I'm tired and whiny...my pinky hurts from hitting the shift bar to make all those exclamation points. Seriously!! #ouch

It was a great day. A big huge thank you to Erin Reads for getting the Cheer HQ all set up and assigning the cheering squads. The cheerleaders could NOT have run so smoothly without her hours of work.

And...you might have seen a bit of talk about a Starfish Dance on twitter. Ya...it was Bonjour Cass's fault. And though I had the opening cheer vlog, I did another vlog of the Starfish Dance. It was RIDICULOUS--and my head was cut off of the video so delete...  ;) So, instead, I'm leaving you with Napoleon...



!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Readathon Oct '11 Hours 7-12 Update - Halfway!!!


Readathon Update for Hours 7-12

Pages: 117 - Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
Time: 120? minutes

TOTALS:
197 pages read
190 minutes reading
Books Finished
30 minutes blog updating
360 minutes cheerleading
One Billlllllion Exclamation Points
0 mini-challenges (WAHHHHH!!)
Food: Coffee (x2), Special K, Sonic BLT and Tots, A few Oreos
0 Prizes (Want some cheese? My prize is cheering you on. No really...can someone throw my name in the sack for a prize? K Thanks)


Elle gets ahold of mommy's book


Reading outside--that picture is of my grandma. Isn't she gorgeous?!

Mid-Event Survey (ok, so I don't see this on the website but I've already done so whatev...):

1. What are you reading right now?
Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan.  Louuuuuuurve it.

2. How many books have you read so far?
None.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Finishing my book! Only 48 pages left. And of course cheering. Is the second half of the alphabet shorter?? Ms and Ses--urg.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Scott is upstairs telling the babe how much he loves his little girl. Seriously. Best daddy ever. My mom watched her this morning.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Nah. Lost some time this morning with distractions but just took a bit to get organized.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How freakin' fast time goes. And how many people!! Wowza!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Yes--urge people to use cheer opt-out if can't participate last minute. Would save so much time.

8. What would you do differently if you were to do this again next year?
Next time will be my 8th readathon...

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Yes. But I'll muscle through.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(none of those exclamation points are gratuitous thankyouverymuch).

Readathon Oct '11 Hours 1-6 Update


Readathon Update for Hours 1-6
Pages:   - Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
Time: 80 minutes

TOTALS:
80 pages read
70 minutes reading
Books Finished
BAH minutes blogging
BAH minutes cheerleading
a lot Exclamation Points
0 mini-challenges
Food: Coffee (x2), Special K
0 Prizes
1 Kickass Cheerleading Vlog

Hrrrrm, so maybe my goal to visit every participant was a bit ambitious. I made it through the As, Bs, Fs, and Gs. I'm happy to keep the Participant List updated but am also realizing it's going to make for a busy day on the computer.  Instead of updating every 4 hours, it might be every 6 instead. You're probably thankful of that! Ha!!

The babe slept ALLLL night last night (third night in a row). Unfortunately I did not. But, I'm putting on my perky face:


How goes it for you guys?? What's your favorite read so far?

Readathon Oct 2011 Kickoff and Vlog!!


INTRODUCTION MEME

Where are you reading from today?
North Dallas, Texas

3 facts about me …
1. This marks my seventh readathon!
2. I really can be as hyper as I appear online
3. My eyes are gray but one has a tiny spot of yellow

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
One. Maman's Homesick Pie. If I actually finish it then I'll read The Call of Cthulhu or The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
Three goals: Comment at least once on everyone's blog; Finish one book; Last until midnight

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
HAVE FUN. And interact a bit--if you read read read, you'll get a lot done but you'll also miss out on some of the enjoyment of the day!

A few notes about today:
**I plan to do an update post at hour 4, 8, 12, and 16. Maybe 18. Sorry to junk up your readers
**I will not be responding to comments on my blog. I'll sometimes email a response or respond in my next post.
**I will not be subscribing to follow up comments today. You can email me if you'd like! :)
**I will not be reading/commenting on non-readathon posts. Sorry. :(
**And I BEG of you--Kill your Word Verification!



YAY READATHON!!!!!!!!

Readathon, Readathon, Readathon!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Readathon Baby!!


Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon starts on Saturday October 22nd.

YAHOOOOOO!!! Someone joked with me the other day that I must be the Readathon's biggest fan. Sometimes I feel that way. The readathon is the ONE day (or two) during the year when I allow myself to ignore all the "should dos" and just read and blog and cheer. During this time I think about Dewey a lot and goodness I think she would smile to see what her readathon has become and how it has lived on. Love.

So, if you've been hanging around here for long enough then this post might look familiar to you. I think this is my 7th time participating in the event? I won't be attempting the whole 24 hours, and big thanks to my mom and Scott for taking Elle during the day. I'll probably spend more time on the computer cheering than reading but I. Can't. Wait. Seriously!

My Tips for a Successful Readathon
1. Get organized early - big stack of books, pre-made meals and snacks, cleaning out of the way

2. Choose a variety of books. Set them aside so you don't have to stare at your shelves. And if you can't get into a book, abandon it!

3. Stay involved! Whether this is through blogging updates, mini-challenges, or cheerleading, I promise that those who interact during the event have more fun. If you're on twitter, follow the #readathon hashtag.

4. Find a routine and stick with it. This includes a template if you are doing blog updates. Anything that will cut out a few minutes here and there and allow you to fully participate

5. It isn't the end of the world if you can't read for the whole 24 hours. Know your limits!

6. Rest your eyes. It's OK to take a break. Go for a walk! Or have a danceathon in your living room. The break will help you stay refreshed.

7. HAVE FUN!!!!

La la la la la. What tips do you have to share???

Some Readathon House Cleaning
1. Apologies for clogging up your feedreader on Saturday. I plan to post an update every 4ish hours. And I am already mentally planning my kickoff vlog, so don't miss it!

2. And apologies for clearing anything not read by Saturday in my feed reader as read and not reading any non-readathon posts. Wahhhhh....sorry.

3. PLEASE turn off your word verification. Just for the event. Make sure that it is easy for people to comment on your blog!!

4. I'll be co-chairing the cheerleaders with Erin Reads (serious kudos to her, you guys, for so so much work) so I'll be doing more hanging around than reading. I kind of thought to myself that I could probably read the most books if I just read Elle's books all day but not sure how many times I can read Moo, Baa, La La La in a day. ;)

More?? Ok, if nothing else...these are the most important:

Sign up to participate in the Readathon

Sign up to Cheer (yes, we still need you!!)

Readathon Cheer HQ with tips and a list of all the readers.

Spreadsheet that I CANNOT readathon without (please make it work for you and share)


So, if you're still with me--tell me your readathon tip or what your most looking forward to during the event!

Hurrah!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer

Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Published: 1997 Pages: 333
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Why I read it: After reading Into the Wild with my brother this summer, he gave me Into Thin Air for my birthday. My new goal is to read gifted books sooner rather than later!

Into Thin Air in short: In the spring of 1996, journalist Jon Krakauer joined a Mount Everest climbing expedition in what ended up being the deadliest Everest climbing season ever. Krakauer reports the events that led to the catastrophe and theorizes on what could have gone wrong.

Thoughts in General: Well, hopefully how long it took me to read this book isn't an indication of how good it is. But, I do have to allow that it took me about two months to finish and I often only read a few pages here and there with days of nothing in between. Such is the life with a baby I've learned. I do much better the audiobooks on my work commute these days.

You know, I try writing about books without the little asides and find I just can't do it anymore. Ramble ramble ramble. You guys asked me a few questions regarding Into Thin Air on my "I finished a book" post, so I'm going to let that guide this review.

You Asked:

Into Thin Air is about climbing Everest, right?  Was all the climbing stuff boring or was the whole story interesting so it didn't matter? (thanks Jenny Girl!)

Yes, Into Thin Air is about climbing Everest. Krakauer was intially assigned to write an article about the commercialization of Everest but the article was heavily shaped by the tragic events during his climb. I found the book to be very interesting, but sometimes the climbing information was so technical that I had a hard time wrapping my head around parts of the book. While Krakauer gives a lot of background about Everest and climbing, my prior knowledge was so limited that a brief bit about mountain climbing basics actually would have been helpful for me.

Did you know much about mountain climbing before you read it? What surprised you most? (thanks Joanna!)

I didn't know very much about mountain climbing before reading Into Thin Air and at times I felt like a better understanding of mountain climbing would have helped me while reading the book. Krakauer does go into a lot of detail about the process of acclimating and I was stunned to learn that the process of climbing Everest can take weeks or months! While sometimes the book was a little too technical, it was also very fascinating.

What was your favorite word from the book? (thanks Stacy, who says she loves using the word "sherpa").

Bahhahahaha! But honestly? My family does Words of the Week with my little brother so I picked up on all of the vocab words--Krakauer uses the word "abate" a lot. And "balk." Sherpa was a great one and I admit I didn't really understand what a Sherpa was before reading Into Thin Air. Crampons (the climbing shoe spikes) was another term I learned from the book.

Will you read more Krakauer and have you seen the Everest IMAX movie? (thanks JoAnn!)

Yes, I'm very interested in reading more Krakauer. I almost picked up Eiger Dreams this past weekend but am also really interested in Under the Banner of Heaven. Of course I already listened to and loved Into the Wild. What do you recommend by Krakauer??  And I'm glad JoAnn mentioned the IMAX movie--I hadn't even thought about seeking that out. Would be fascinating, I think!

Into Thin Air vs. Into The Wild. How do they compare? Which did you like better? Why? (thanks Elise!)

I think it's probably easier to note how Into Thin Air and Into the Wild are different! Most notably, Krakauer is a character in his own story for Into Thin Air whereas Into the Wild was mostly about other people (with a small exception). I liked Into the Wild better but this might have been because I listened or because I was reading it with my brother or because it only took a week rather than two months or or or. I definitely recommend both but if I could only recommend one, I'd recommend Into the Wild.

Bottom Line: I hear lots of people say they LOVED this book. I didn't LOVE it, but I did like Into Thin Air a lot. I really wish that there was some type of map or diagram of Everest as I was constantly googling images to get a better visual of the various camps and landmarks described in the book. And some of the parts where Krakauer defends his book in response to Boukreev, a guide who gives his own account of the events in his book The Climb, made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Krakauer's statements really reminded me that there are multiple perspectives to every story. I certainly don't want to end this post on a negative note, so in short--fascinating fascinating book.

Have you read Into Thin Air? What did you think? What Krakauer would you recommend?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Finished a Book!!!

Holy cow! I finished a book! The first paper book I've finished since July!! While I've been rockin' the audiobooks lately, I don't get much actual reading time in during the day so I'm really excited to have finished Into Thin Air. Especially since I've committed to reading three other books this month. Not sure what I was thinking! Phfffft!

So....I've seen some of you folks do this, but I've always been afraid that I'll ask and then "chirp...chirp...chirp...." But, I'm in a big fat book thought writing rut and have a slew of audioooks and now a paperbook to talk about. Wait, back up Trish, what? What would you guys say to helping me out with these reviews by letting me know what you're interested in hearing about--you ask and I'll answer.  Questions folks, I need questions!

The books? Well, depends on how far back you want to go...but we'll start with the following:

The Help (paper and audio)
Into Thin Air (paper)
Unbroken (audio)
At Home (audio)
Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief (audio)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (audio)
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag (paper)

Please no crickets...

In other news, READATHON is next weekend!!! Have you signed up yet? And do you have an hour or two to spare to cheerleading? Can't wait!! Readathon, Readathon, Readathon!

In other other news, I'm taking my first plane trip with Elle this weekend. We're going with my mom to visit my grandma. So excited, but also nervous. Eeeeep!

Ok, don't want to let this post suddently get out of control with my chattering.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Arkansas Motorcycling Take Two

Oh you guys. I was so disappointed when I looked through my pictures from our bike trip last weekend and realized I only had a handful of shots to share (besides the helmet head shot you already saw). I guess that's the downside of taking an SLR while riding on a motorcycle through the Ozark Mountains. So many times I gasped in awe of the beauty surrounding me but trying to find a place to pull over to capture the beauty wasn't an option.

In fact, the three middle shots are from a detour that I made Scott make and we ended up lucky. The last was shot the morning I was driving home--poor Scott was ahead of me on the bike and thought that I had wrecked his car after I had suddenly disappeared from view. But I just HAD to pull over to shoot the clouds surrounding the mountains. We drove through one particularly picturesque town in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't make Scott pull over so I could photograph. Not to mention that we were too exhausted at the end of the day to explore downtown Eureka Springs--the charming little Ozark town where we stayed.

So, if you're interested in seeing a few more pictures of GORGEOUS Arkansas, head over to the first Arkansas from the Back of a Bike post (trip in 2010).

So...the trip. There's a motorcycle rally in Fayetteville, Arkansas (think University of Arkansas, Wooooo Pig Sooooooie), and Scott was eager to hit the road and check it out. I drove up on Friday afternoon and met him in Eureka Springs (point C on the map below). This was our first weekend alone as parents (thanks mom!) and I'm not ashamed that we used our first free night to hit the sack at 7:30. (we may have used the second free night the same way...)


The next day we rose bright and early, had a delicious breakfast including biscuits and gravy, and hopped on the bike for the above trip. I'm hoping you can enlarge, but basically we rode for almost 300 miles throughout the Ozarks in Arkansas and a little bit of Missouri.

Seriously you guys, I can't reiterate enough how pretty Arkansas is. My only regret is that we seemed to have gone two weeks too early as the trees were just barely starting to turn red and yellow and orange, but had we gone any later I think it might have been too cold on the bike.


My favorite part of the trip (aside from hitting up K.T.'s Smokehouse in Gassville--they have THE best BBQ), was driving on Hwy 341 or Push Mountain Road--see the very right of the map going through the green colored portion.  Twisty and turny and rivers and trees and mountains and so many "Oooooohs." I think we actually drove that route last time but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.




The trip was the perfect weekend getaway. It was hard spending my first weekend away from the Chickpea Banana, but I think we did just fine. The weather was fresh and gorgeous and riding was wonderful--I haven't been riding since I was pregnant with Elle. And no, no driving for me--those days are over with. I was happy to just relax on the back of the bike with the audiobook taking in all the scenery.


Ahhhhhh....

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Just Wanted You to Know...

So, I'm in the process of cleaning out my personal email inbox, which had over 600 emails dating back to June. Many of these are comments you have left for me over the past several months--comments that I thought I might be able to respond to or return a visit on your blog. As I went through each and every one, I loved re-reading through your comments, your special notes, your compliments, your commiserating, your suggestions and advice, your words of wisdom, your encouragement...

I've noted it before, but I just wanted to say again...Thank You.

Thank you Thank you.

And I'm sorry for falling short. Yes, I realize I have some valid excuses, but they're just excuses. I want to try to be better. To respond to comments on the blog again (maybe this just entails me getting up 30 minutes earlier in the morning). And returning visits to new commenters. To being more organized and keeping on top of my email. I'm very easily overwhelmed and sometimes it's easier for me to ignore things that pile up rather than tackle them head on. Honestly, I don't know how to do this. Don't we all wish that we could spend our time more efficiently?

But mostly, I don't want to take you all for granted.

So again, Thank You.





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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Helmet Head


[can still eat honeybun while wearing helmet]

[Shhhhh...pps--thank you all for your insightful comments on yesterday's post. I'm still mulling things over but don't know if I'll make a change. Contemplating going with a watermark or url posted on pictures rather than removing completely. Anyone know the best way to do this?]

More from our Arkansas biketrip soon!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Public Privacy

I don't think it's a secret that I've become fairly personal through my blogging over the past few years. I've given much thought to this, but it's my personal decision and I try to honor the privacy of family members by not posting anything too personal about them. I may publically tease Scott (because it's just so easy and I love him to reeses pieces) but I don't ever want him to pop by the blog and feel uncomfortable by anything I've said. Sames goes for family members or anyone else I know personally.

I've been very open about the most recent chapter of my life--beginning with the pregnancy and now with my monthly updates of the babe. I try not to bombard this blog (and you guys) with pictures, but over the past several months I have posted several.

Today someone visited this blog via a picture of my daughter that someone pinned on Pinterest.

I don't know how to feel about this. In a way it seems like a breach of my privacy, BUT I can't ignore that the Internet is an incredibly public forum. If I post a picture, I cannot control if it ends up somewhere else.

This happened once before with a recipe post. I kept seeing hits from a recipe forum so I checked it out and saw a picture I had taken. I tweeted about it and the website host was kind enough to send me an email explaning. Since the picture linked directly back to my blog I decided it was harmless.

But it's different when you're staring into your daughter's blue eyes rather than a bowl of soup.

I don't want to make the motherhood chapter of my life private. But I don't really know what to do or how to feel. Is it as easy as adding my blog address to my pictures? Or copywriting them? I'm not even sure I know what that means. And of course this extends beyond my family life--do I need to start taking precautions with all of my pictures?

I'm looking for your words of advice here. Any words of advice.

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