Monday, November 28, 2011

Public Privacy Part 2

About a month and a half ago I discovered that someone pinned a picture of Elle on Pinterest. I believe that this was a harmless act and when I asked the person if she would remove Elle's pictures, she immediately responded with understanding.

After this incident, I've started thinking a lot about Public Privacy. Many of you saw the original post where I asked for sage advice, but I still felt conflicted. Over the past several years I've shared so much of my life with you and I love posting the monthly updates of the babe's progress--and of course the pictures. I was undecided on how to proceed until the other day when I happened to check my sitemeter account and noticed someone had clicked on a baby picture from one of the monthly updates. When I refreshed, the person had moved to another update and another picture and so on and so on. This absolutely freaked me out and solidified my decision.

I have set up another blog, which I have made private, where I will copy the monthly update posts and pictures. At this point I'll still post the updates here, but I'll leave a link to the private blog. Right now I'm thinking about posting the pictures here and a day later removing them. I know that Google Reader will update the edits, but will other feed readers? I'm not familiar, so please let me know as this might change my decision completely.

I'll still post other random pictures and have no issues with posting pictures if Scott or I (or someone else) is also in the picture. I think the issue with the monthly updates comes from people specifically googling "Baby XX Months" and happening upon my blog. Otherwise, my blog really is a small one that doesn't get a lot of traffic. I'm not as afraid of true real life privacy issues (not hard to figure out who I am) as I am about someone else taking my pictures for who knows why. You just never know.

If you are interested in having access to the other blog, you can leave me your email in the comments or email me privately.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Salon 52: What to Read Next


Something curious happened to me the other day. I had the urge to pick up a new book to read. I've been reading What Mothers Do extreeeeeeeeeeeeemly slowly, and of course been listening to audiobooks when the mood strikes, but it's been a long time since I looked at my shelf and had no idea what I wanted to read next.

You see, before I kicked the reading challenge addiction, I always had a long list of books that I needed to read next. And if not for reading challenges then for book club. Or readalongs. Or for college. In the past several years it's been rare for me to have no idea what to read next. Ok, this is a slight exaggeration as it's been a good year since I dropped challenges.

But as I stared at over 600 spines, including the books I've already read and the books I know I'll never read, I had no idea what to pick up. SO many books I want to read, but I felt lost. I knew I was in the mood for something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what that something was. Something that I could...get lost in. A book that would wrap me up and hold me tight and never let me go (doesn't that sound amazing?). I finally settled on Affinity by Sarah Waters.

I've completely forgotten that once upon a time I was an innocent reader. One who wasn't influenced by this thing called book blogging. And this is definitely another post topic for another day, but I wondered if I was alone. Do you ever stare at your shelf and have no idea what to read next? What makes you pick the particular book you did? Is it based on mood or someone else just read it and loved it or because you need to read it for a challenge or publisher?

Tell me--How do you decide what to read next?

On the Blog:

Looking Back to Last Week
**You gave me GREAT suggestions for books for the babe
**I told you a little about me
**Q&A book post for The Help by Kathryn Stockett
**Elle's Seven Month Update

Looking Forward to Next Week
I'm debating on entering the Chronicle Books Happy Haulidays contest. Guess it depends on how much free time I have to make a list! Tomorrow I'll post a short blip on the public/privacy issue. And Thursday I'll be talking about Traditions for the Holiday Advent Tour.


Have you all recovered from the Turkey? Whether you celebrated Thanksgiving this weekend or not, I hope you had a wonderful weekend. What's on your agenda for the day?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Help - Kathryn Stockett


Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Published: 2009; Pages: 444
Duration: 18 hours, 7 minutes
Narrators: Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin, Jenna Lamia
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Whew it feels good to hit "Publish Post" on this puppy! I've had this draft sitting amongst my posts since April of this year. Since then I've also listened to the audiobook and seen the movie--can't see to get enough!

The Help in short: Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Skeeter Phelan, a recent college graduate who is looking to write something that will make a difference, interviews black maids on what it is like working for white families. Told from Skeeter’s perspective as well as the perspective of two of the maids, Aibileen and Minnie.

Why I read/listened to The Help: After telling so many people that they needed to read this book (based on your recommendations), I picked up a copy for myself and finally read with my mom and sister. I loved reading the book at the same time as them and hearing their feedback. I listened to the audiobook several months after reading the book because of the rave reviews.

Following my recent pattern of Q&A book posts...

Elise: Did you find the story predictable? If yes, did it change your overall thoughts on the book…I have a hard time considering it amazing or the best book ever when I could totally see where it was going. But maybe that shouldn't matter?

When I started The Help, I didn’t know very much about the story even though I had recommended it to several people and gave it as gifts to a few others. In fact, the only thing that I did know was that the book had alternating narrators and was set in the American south during the 1960s. Predictability doesn’t always bother me unless there is a twist in the story that I see coming a mile away, but I honestly don’t remember if I found The Help to be predictable or not. I do think that it’s easy to see where this story is headed, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. For me the enjoyment of this book came more from the character development than the plot development.

In terms of it mattering whether you find a book predictable or not, I do think that sometimes it can affect how much you enjoy a story! Definitely something to ponder, but I wonder if this has more to do with what makes us enjoy a book in the first place or why we read. Hmmm…  sometimes a book can be so overhyped that it is easy to feel let down when you don’t find the book to be the best book over. That’s happened to me several times and that’s why I try to go into each reading with as blank a slate as possible.

Laura: I would like you to draw a Venn diagram for The Help paper book, audio book, and movie. :) Just kidding about the Venn diagram, but I would like your thoughts on the differences/what you liked/what you didn't like about the different mediums.

Oh how I wish I could draw up a pretty little Venn diagram for you! Basically I loved all of the different mediums. The book was a little tough to get into, especially as its begins with a heavily dialectic narrative of one of the maids, but once I became use the rhythm of the book I found it difficult to put down. “One more section” was a common thought as I was reading The Help. I listened to The Help months after I read the book, mainly because the movie was coming out and I had heard such wonderful reviews of the audiobook. Hands down it was one of the best audio productions I’ve listened to. Stockett does such a wonderful job of drawing her characters and this became really apparent through the spoken version of the novel.

When I first saw the movie trailer for The Help I was afraid that the movie would be Hollywoodized and make light of the very serious topics in the book. Even though the trailer felt bubbly, and there were moments when the movie was bubbly, there were so many times in the movie when I had a pit in my stomach as the seriousness of racism and the Jim Crow laws and discrimination during the 60s was portrayed. I’ve heard people describe The Help as “so much fun,” but I disagree. When one looks past all of the faults of The Help (see controversy paragraphs below), the meat of the book crawls under your skin and makes you yearn to challenge the status quo even when it is not popular.

Anna said: I'd love to hear what you thought of The Help, especially given all the controversy when the movie came out.

Boy do I live under a rock! I wasn’t aware of the controversy until your comment. Thanks for pointing me to this post with some of the controversy. I’m sure I’m missing many of the points, but basically people are saying that The Help should not be read as historical fiction and that Stockett, a white author, took too many liberties by writing from the perspective of black maids during the 1960s. White woman saves the day. That’s the gist, right?

I think that these statements can be very troubling in so many respects. I typed up big long paragraphs about my thoughts on this but nothing I typed adequately portrayed the conflicted feelings I have on this topic. One of the points made in the post referenced above is authenticity and frankly I believe that true authenticity is hard to come by. (not trying to be dodgy, promise).

please define historical fiction for me), but shouldn’t every reader make it her responsibility to learn the facts or at least not make sweeping generalizations based on a single book she read? Though as with reading about any subject one is not familiar with, some will take the time to learn more about the subject and some won’t.

Anyway.

Bottom Line: Absolutely recommend. The Help will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Get your hands on the audio if you can—the performances are absolutely fantastic, especially Octavia Spencer as Minnie.

So…what did you think?






PS—I’m really liking how easy this Q&A format makes posting about books (even if it does make my posts much longer than normal). If you have any questions you’d like to ask about Percy Jackson (books 1 and 2), Crooked Letter Crooked Letter, or At Home, please leave me questions below!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Little About Me


Me--going to guess Christmas 1984, Two and a Half.

Thanks to Jill's A Little About Me Post (which many others have done, but hers was the first I saw)

Age: 30

Bed Size: King

Chore that you hate: Vacuuming

Dogs: Chocolate Lab - Lexi

Essential start to your day: Coffee (even though I don’t drink immediately)

Favorite colors: Red and Pink

Gold or Silver: Platinum. Ok, Silver.

Height: 5’6½”

Instruments you play: Flute and Piano. Both badly

Job Title: Account Manager

Kids: Baby Elle – 6.5 months

Live: McKinney, Texas

Mother-in-Law’s name: Prefer to protect the innocent. ;)

Nicknames: TriniCapini (said TreenyCapeeny), Trini, TriTri, Patti Mayonnaise, on and on and on

Overnight hospital stays: When I had Elle

Pet Peeves: Leaving shopping carts in the parking lot instead of returning to receptacle

Quote from a movie: "Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the word, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."

Right or Left handed: Right

Siblings: Sisters 2 and 4 years younger, Brother 15 years younger, Stepsister 11 years younger

Time you wake up: 6:30ish. Weekends between 7 and 8

Underwear: Comfy

Vegetable you hate: Pickled Beets. Blech.

What makes you run late: The baby and the million accessories that go along with her.

X-Rays you’ve had: Foot for bunion, ankle after car accident

Yummy food that you make: Pretty proud of my apple pie

Zoo animal: Monkeys

So what about you??

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Salon 51: Books for the Babe


Happy Sunday Morning!! Hope you're all having a wonderful and lazy day. I'm not really sure where today will take me, but I'm thinking maybe a bit of organizing around the house. And laundry. Don't you wish that laundry could just do itself?

Anyway.

Emilie Buchwald once said that "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."

Can I share a secret that one of the things that I look forward to with my children is curling up with them at bedtime and reading the next chapter of a book? I stole away several of my own childhood books when I left home and have been collecting books here and there. However, these books are for one day--not books that I could hope that a baby or toddler would have the attention to tolerate. Even now Elle is more interested in eating the bunny than patting the bunny.

Even though my colorful picture chapter books will have to wait for another day, I've been slowly building up a collection of books for the babe. Several I received as gifts and a few I picked up here and there--at this point mostly Susan Boynton and Dr. Seuss (I've become quite good at reading Fox in Socks!). I've also fallen in love with Goodnight Moon and You Are My I Love You.

I don't think Elle's tastes are very discerning right now, but mine are. Trust me, you can only read The Going to Bed Book so many times! With the holidays around the corner, I'm hoping you can help me put some more baby and toddler picture/board books on my wishlist (and yes, I've told both parents, that books for the babe ARE gifts they can get ME!).

So tell me...what books are essential for the babe?


On the Blog:

Looking Back to Last Week
**I caught you up on What I've Been Up To
**When Pigs Fly Wordless Wednesday
**Unbroken Book Q&A (you asked, I told)
**I shared my favorite breakfast recipe: German Pancakes

Looking Forward to Next Week
I'm going to attempt to be a more organized blogger by keeping a calendar. I don't really have any events like many of you do (except the 2011 Virtual Advent Tour), but there are several posts that I've been meaning to do for a while and time just gets away. The thought is if I have a visual calendar, I might be able to stay more organized? Not sure what this week will bring--I'd like to get another book post out and Friday marks seven months for Elle. Do you try to organize your blogging or do you just blog as you go?

Any big plans for this week?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

German Pancakes - Weekend Cooking



Scott and I cook breakfast every Sunday. Never on Saturday but always on Sunday. It's one of my favorite meals of the entire week because we're both in the kitchen together whipping stuff up. He makes the best eggs in the world (lately he's been telling Elle that I married him for his eggs--which might be true), and I usually make the waffle/pancake/french toast bit of the meal.

One of my favorite breakfast dishes to make is German Pancakes. My mom made this for us growing up and I love the delicious, buttery taste. And so easy!

German Pancakes

4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup flour
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 425°.

 Beat eggs with a whisk and add milk. Whisk until mixed together and eggs froth a little. Add sugar and salt.  Slowly add flour and mix well.

Melt butter in a 9 x 9” pan. Pour batter into pan with butter. Bake 18-20 minutes or until cooked all the way through.  Should puff up, but eat it quickly because it'll deflate fast! Serve with maple syrup, fruit, whipped cream, etc.

Serves 4 people.

Below is the recipe I jotted down from my mom when I went off to college 12 years ago. Can you believe that I never transferred it to a real recipe book--or even to the actual sheet? Honestly I think I might lose the recipe if I remove that sticky note.  (Please note that the recipe I include in this post is a little modified from the sticky note below...and yes, ignore the spelling and scratches!)



Do you have any favorite breakfast meals at your house?






Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

Title: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Published: 2010; Pages 473
Duration: 13 hours, 56 minutes
Narrator: Edward Herrmann
Genre: Non-Fiction/History
Rating: 4.5/5

Does anyone else hate paying bills? Urg!! Sorry-I usually open book posts with a little tangent but I don't have one today.

Unbroken in short: Laura Hillenbrand tells the harrowing story of Louis Zamperini, a one-time Olympic runner, and his fight and survival during the Pacific Theater of World War II first as he was lost at sea and later as he was held as a Prisoner of War in Japan.

Why I listened to Unbroken: I kept hearing bloggers mention how much they loved this book and non-fiction works very well for me in audiobook format.

So, remember a few several weeks ago when I asked you guys for questions on a few books I'd read/listened to? Using that format here. Yay!!

Lisa asks: I am interested in Unbroken, but it seems so heavy! is it?

YES. Unbroken is incredibly heavy. And heartbreaking. And tough to listen to. It's a story that will continue to stick with me for a long time. I highly recommend it, but make sure you're in the mood. Though I do have to say that the story is so remarkable that it's hard to put it down (or turn it off...)

JoAnn wondered: I found parts of Unbroken almost too painful to listen to, yet was enthralled with the story. Did you have a strong reaction to the POW sections?

I know just what you mean about feeling this book was too painful but too listen to but just so...incredible. I don't even know the correct word to describe this book. Unbelievable. Incomprehensible. I know that I will never think about a POW in the same light again. But even though the POW parts of the story were often the most difficult or emotional bits to read, I found myself at the edge of my seat when Louie and his crewmates were stranded at sea. My goodness!!

JoAnn also asks: Do you think it would have been less emotional to read rather than listen?

I remember having a twittersation with you about listening to Unbroken versus reading the book. In many ways I feel like I don't know if I could have continued if I was reading the events on paper. On the other hand, listening to Louie's story had quite the impact. There was one moment when Hillenbrand describes the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and I was literally so engrossed in the story that it took me a minute to realize I was drive 10 miles under the speed limit in my neighborhood.  I'm certainly glad that I listened to this book rather than read it.

Vasilly: I see that you read Unbroken. Have you read the author's first book, Seabiscuit? How do they compare? I love Seabiscuit but haven't felt the need to pick up Unbroken yet? What's your favorite thing about Unbroken?

I did read Seabiscuit several years ago and really enjoyed it. The subject matter in each book is completely different from the other, so I can understand your lack of interest in Unbroken. Although the stories of the two books are so different, Hillenbrand's writing is excellent in both books. She certainly does her research and not only provides the necessary details to the story but also the historical details surrounding the events of the story. I learned so much about various aspects of World War II in reading Unbroken and I really appreciate that about Hillenbrand's books.

Hard to think of a favorite thing about the book. Unbroken is a very intense and emotional reading experience, but Hillenbrand takes care to draw her characters fully which allowed me to become deeply invested in the story.

Laura: I'm currently reading Unbroken (oh my goodness-hard to put down!). We you surprised at the details Louie remembers about the all the things he experienced? I know he kept a diary for some of it, but Wow! What an amazing memory! I can't wait to finish this book!

Honestly I'm not sure that I ever really stopped to think about all of the details that were remembered in the story, but you're absolutely right that it is quite amazing. What I was surprised about was how open Louie was about what happened to him. I know many men who refuse to talk about their war experiences because of the pain it brings them (some I have no idea why they don't talk about it). I know I forget that these men were so young when they fought in the war--it's so difficult for me to imagine going through these trials at such a young age.

A special note about the audio: Edward Herrmann does a fantastic job of narrating Unbroken. His voice and tone had a way of drawing me into the story and he added dramatic effect in all of the right places. I've already added another of his narrations to my wishlist solely because I enjoyed listening to him so much. I cannot imagine reading this book rather than listening and highly recommend the audiobook version. The only drawback is that the hardcopy book does contain photographs. Luckily I was able to flip through my mom's copy of the book.

The Bottom Line: If you're a history buff I'd certainly recommend this book. But don't be put off by the "history/non-fiction" labels as Unbroken is a book that is difficult to put down. Though it's a page turner, there are many many moments when the subject matter seems too unbearable to continue. Just when you think it can't get any worse for Louie, it does. But I promise that it is well worth finishing.

Have you read Unbroken? What did you think? If not, do you plan to read it?

Monday, November 14, 2011

What I've Been Up To

Can you believe that November is half over? Well, will be tomorrow anyway. And that Thanksgiving is 10 days away? Holy Hannah! Life is moving much quicker than I can these days. Lots of good times over the past few weeks but also some sad. One incident involving family health has me thinking about sweating the small stuff and focusing more on enjoying and experiencing.

Crawling and sitting (Elle--not me...) has me quite busy in the evenings when I get home from work. It's such a joy to watch Elle scooting across the playroom towards this toy or that. However, I suspect she's also teething and I'm afraid those top teeth are going to put up more of a fight than the bottom ones that just appeared one night. Oh wait--I totally did not mean for this to be a rambling post.

This is how I've been spending my time the past two weeks:

Singing ridiculous songs to the babe



Cutting Christmas Fabrics for Quilting Bee



Spending time with my Grandma



Making and freezing Carrot Baby Food. Mmmmm!



Making soup. Lots of Soup (this is actually Goulash)



Devouring fall apples (and making pie)



Cheering on Nick (#30). Sad the season is over!


Tell me--how have you been spending your extra time?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boo!

Is it really November 7th? Almost two weeks since I posted last? How did that happen? Well, I know what happened...life.

And honestly, even though I have little posts running through my head all the time, none of them seem complete enough for an actual post. And this month, I have a feeling, will continue to be a busy busy one. And then there was one time on Twitter when I oversaw someone mentioning that she didn't like to post until she had time to bloghop (and others agreed). Pshhht. Sadly that would mean I would never post these days. Wahhhhhhh (please don't comment on this in the comments, I already know the answer).

So, winners for Maman's Homesick Pie giveaway!

Terri B. who said that one of her fondest memories was coming home from church on Sundays to a house smelling of pot roast and potatoes. "That smell always said "home" to me."

Laura who remembered when she and her mom and sisters would make monkey bread together on Saturday mornings: "My siblings and I were responsible for rolling the dough into balls and covering them in cinnamon and sugar, while my mom would make the 'goop' (butter, sugar, vanilla) on the stove. I hope to do the same with my kids!"

Care who "was just having a conversation about how some meals from my childhood just can't be created because the time and place is gone.   I still crave my mom's sloppy-joes and they weren't fancy but I can't get it right."

Hope you all enjoy the book!!  

And then...we took little Chickpea Banana to have her six month portraits. We did get two decent shots, but some of the outtakes. Let's just say that she was NOT having it. No matter how many funny faces and voices and songs I tried. Not even daddy could get a smile! Maybe at 9 months...


Life is busy, but not too busy for some laughs...

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