Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting into Poetry: Read More Poetry Event #1

Lu and Kailana are hosting a Read More/Blog More Poetry Monthly Event. Today's the first day and while I had hoped on actually reading some poetry that I could then blog about...ha! what was I thinking? Anyway, Lu and Kailana were kind of enough to give some prompter questions which I have answered below. Feel free to join in the fun! January's link up post can be found on Regular Rumination.

- Your favorite poem
I've always been drawn to T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I can't remember now when I first read this poem--maybe my Freshman year of college when I took a basic English Lit survey course (before I was an English major). "Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky, Like a patient etherized upon a table..." I have since studied the poem in several courses as well as on my own and with each reading I pick up something new. One year for Christmas I received a volume of Eliot's poetry from my dad and I love that he inscripted in the front cover, "What the hell is he talking about." Ha! Yes, exactly.

- Your favorite poet
No, Eliot is not my favorite poet. I do appreciate his writing, but I wouldn't call him a favorite. Honestly it's been so long since I've studied poetry that I've forgotten my preferences. I remember liking WB Yeats and I always smile when I catch a reference to his poetry. I think if I had to absolutely pin myself to a favorite I would consider Walt Whitman. I always loved his Leaves of Grass, especially "Song of Myself."

- Do you read poetry often? Why or why not?
I don't often make time to read poetry. Ok, I never read poetry. I don't really have a good reason--maybe because completing a poem doesn't seem as satisfying as completing a book? Because reading poetry is hard work? Because it's just not as fun outside of the classroom where you have the help of an instructor to tease out all of the nuances of the poems?

- Why did you start reading poetry?
I don't know if it's fair to say I ever *started* reading poetry. I read it when assigned in class throughout grade school and then college. There were a few authors whose work I enjoyed enough to pick up my own volumes of their poetry (Plath, Whitman, Yeats, Eliot to name a few), but I've never really been big on reading poetry on my own. See above for reasons why.

- Do you ever write poetry?
I used to write poetry but I haven't in about 10 years. It was a way for me to record my feelings without having to be blatant. Does that make sense? I actually really enjoyed writing but I found it was much easier to write in my teenaged angst than it is now that my life (and self) is less confusing to me. Ha!

- Is there a poet you’ve always wanted to read but never have?
Hrmmmmm. I don't know! :)

- What do you hope to accomplish through a year of writing about poetry?
Um, read more poetry? I love language and I love words. I love word play and I love emotions. I don't have a good reason not to read poetry. I guess my hope is to maybe make some discoveries about poetry as well as brush off some of those analytical skills. After all--I'm still paying for those skills via student loans. Ha!

- Do you think you’ll read more poetry this year?
I think that's the idea. Want to join the fun??

Do you read poetry? Do you have any favorites?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Salon 57: Have You Read These Books?

Good Morning! It is chilly here in Dallas but I'm still trying to figure out where our winter is. Scott spent most of the day yesterday outside building boxes for our square foot gardening. Yup--we're taking the plunge into backyard gardening. I have NO idea what we'll plant--maybe carrots, tomatoes, peppers, okra. I want to do Squash but Heather said the bugs are bad. Scott can't do lettuce so there's no point in planting any. Would love to do berries but afraid they might be difficult. Anything you recommend??

OK Ok Ok--back on topic.  Books.

On Friday I mentioned that I haven't made very much progress on my bookshelf organization yet. BUT yesterday Elle took the most amazing afternoon nap and I was able to at least move a bunch of books around and pull several off the shelf. Books that I really don't know anything about--Books that I've had for years. Sooooooo, I'm hoping you'll help me!

Have You Read These Books or know the authors?  Are they keepers or ditchers? Help!!!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not - Trish Ryan
Back When We Were Grownups - Anne Tyler
Trespassers will be Baptized - Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd
The Rapture of Canaan - Sheri Reynold
For Kings and Planets - Ethan Canin

Songs in Ordinary Time - Mary McGarry Morris
The Zoo Where You're Fed to God -  Michael Ventura
Big as Life - Maureen Howard
Lost and Found - Carolyn Parkhurst
Pandora -  Anne Rice
Standing in the Rainbow - Fannie Flagg (she's hit or miss for me)

Graceland - Christopher Abani
A Man in Full - Tom Wolfe (among others of his I haven't read)
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men - James Agee and Walker Evans
Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson
The Book of Ruth - Jane Hamilton
While I Was Gone - Sue Miller
Summerland - Michael Chabon

So---what do you say? Read any of these? Send them to the library or read them sooner rather than later?

On the Blog:

Looking Back the last Two Weeks
**On Feeling Whole Again - Handling Postpartum Depression
**Kickin' Fitness's Ass with Movin' Shakin' and Couch to 5Kin'
**Operation Use My Crockpot!
**Friday Ra-Ra-Ramblings :)

On Chickpea Banana
Nine Month Update

Looking Forward to Next Week
**Tuesday is Read More/Blog More Poetry Event hosted by Lu and Kailana. Crossing my fingers that I'll have actually read something I can post about. Ha!
**A fun flying act for Wordless Wednesday
**I've thought about talking about freezer meals for Weekend Cooking but not sure if I'm ready yet. Other than that, I got nada. :)

That's all I got! If all goes well, I'll have cooked THREE crockpot recipes this weekend. Yayyyyyyy!

What's going on with you this weekend?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Ra-Ra-Rambling

Am I the only one who feels a bit of guilt posting when she hasn’t had time to bloghop or respond to comments? I know I know, UGH, I know. No need to respond to the question… My Internet at home has been a bit spotty and our laptop is dying, so it’s been hard to play catch up. I was in a quilting class all day last Saturday, so fell behind a bit then, but I’m hoping to be able to steal away a few moments this weekend to catch up a bit.

Ok, moving on! Can you believe that January is almost over? I know, I don’t want to think about it either. Though I have been rockin’ out my “things I want to do in 2012.” I’ve created TWO things from Pinterest, tried a few new recipes, made two desserts, booked tickets to a cultural event (Dracula Ballet!!), and learned the basics of free-motion quilting. Oh, and I’m totally kicking ass at my Couch to 5K program. I finished one paper book (Affinity) and one audiobook (What is the What). Yup, Rockin.

Not bad for a first Free-Motion Quilting attempt!
I’ve also started counting my calories. Which sucks. And I don’t plan to do it forever but it was eye opening to me how many times I’d grab a sweet during the day. Please note, I am NOT dieting. Just being more aware. I’m using the MyFitnessPal app where I can track everything I eat and all of my exercise. It’s been really motivating so far!

Wool makes my teeth hurt. I was thinking about knitting on my way to work this morning and then I started thinking about wool and then my teeth started to hurt. That’s all.

Has anyone done a blogger survey on their blog? Thinking about doing one but am afraid it might seem vain. Or lame. Really I just want to know what you'd like to see more of and what is blah. If you want to tell me this non-anonymously, go for it. Though I did enable the anonymous comments so there's that, too (but that would be annoying). ;)

I’ve been pondering photo editing lately. Not that I have time to edit photographs but I’m often not quite satisfied when I upload pictures I’ve taken and wish that I could change just a little thing or two. I’ve been thinking about Lightroom rather than Photoshop. I don’t have a fancy Mac and don’t have any editing software. Do you use anything specific? I’m tired of having great pictures that are just a little too underexposed.

I want another orchid. I killed all FOUR of mine while I was home on maternity leave. Has anyone had any luck repotting orchids? I think this is where I might have gone wrong with one of mine (extreme lack of water did the others in).

The bookshelves. **hides in shame** I really really wanted to be finished with my bookshelf reorganization by Sunday but it’s not going to happen. So I’m extending my deadline until February 5th. I can do that with my own goals, right? I did pull all of the non-fiction books and group them together and started to pull the classics. But then I started getting confused on what is a classic and what isn’t.

Other bookshelf categories I’m contemplating: Big Freakin’ Books, Literary Fiction (yes, I know “Literary Fiction” is a dirty word…leave me alone), General Fiction, Books I Know Nothing About But Bought Anyway. I started to draft a “Have you read these books” post for last Sunday but just couldn’t find the time to finish it, so I might post it this week. See if there’s any that you give me permission to ditch. Bahahaha!

Speaking of drafts. I have a ton of one paragraph posts in my drafts folder. Does anyone else do this? Yes, and also some that just have Title: XX Author: XX, etc. Was thinking of doing a post of just my opening paragraphs and you can tell me if any of them are interesting enough for a full post. I know, I’m lame sometimes…

Still haven’t found out who in Dallas is reading my blog (other than those I know read). Is it you? Please drop me a line! Like seriously--email me or something.

If you’ve read all of this, give yourself a big pat on the back (and virtual hugs and kisses from me). Sadly I could keep rambling on and on and on and on. But I’ll spare you. The below is for Fizzy Jill who wants to know what happened to Baby Elle's Mohawk.

One more thing - Andi from Estella's Revenge wrote a fantastic post on Book Blogging Influence

Alright--I'm opening the flood gates. What rambles do YOU have today??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nine Month Update - 1.25.2012

The monthly picture this month was near impossible. I have four sets of pictures exactly like these. She'd crawl over to Scott who was supposed to be making her smile (she doesn't typically smile at me behind the camera), he'd make her laugh and set her back down, repeat...

Nine months brings so much spunk! And laughter. But also teething. And more teething. But just look at that nomnomnom!

Full Nine Month Update at Chickpea Banana. If you'd like access, I just need your email address. 


On another note, it's been a bit quiet over here the past week or so. I admit to feeling really overwhelmed with trying to keep up with blogging. I want to thank you all for your incredible comments on my postpartum depression post. You always manage to overwhelm me in the most touching ways. I've responded to all of your comments individually (hate how the threaded comments inflate the comment numbers...). Again, thank you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Operation Use My...Crockpot - Weekend Cooking

I've been thinking about my kitchen appliances for a while. Thinking about how I have so many cool things but rarely use them--or don't know how to use them best. Many of these appliances are ones Scott and I registered for when we were getting married. Fondue Pot!! Cool!! Of course I need a Trifle Dish! Shake Mixer? Hell ya!

Other than to cook queso (the jarred kind), we've only used our fondue pot once. Never used the trifle and I'm not sure about the shake maker. Not to mention all of the other gadgets filling our cabinets and taking space on our counters. I won't tell you guys that last night I might have bought a bundt cake tin at the grocery store...   So sad Trish, so sad.

Out of this was born Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets. Using my kitchen stuff is part of my list of things I want to do in 2012--each month I will focus on one appliance/gadget and really try to learn how to use each item to its full potential. I'm counting on your help to give me pointers!!

For the rest of January and February my focus will be the Crockpot. I just got a new one for Christmas and really want to utilize it. I've been a crockpot owner for over 10 years and have gotten really good at cooking roast but that's about it. Last Sunday I cooked a breakfast casserole and it was OK but it helped me realize that this baby can be used for so much more than just pot roast. My two limitations with the crockpot are finding the time to prep (night before? get up early?) and being gone for 11 hours and not eating for another 2 after I get home. 13 hours is a long time for anything to cook.

Do you have a crockpot? How do you use your crockpot? Any good recipes you'd recommend? Suggestions on how to get past the limitations?

The other appliances/gadgets on the list: ice cream maker, fondue pot, blender, food processor, springform pans, George Foreman grill, shake maker, and trifle dish (gah...and now bundt cake tin). One for each month (not in that order).

I'll report back at the end of February and let you know how my first OUMKG went. Anyone want to join me?!

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!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Movin' and Shakin' and Couch to 5Kin'

So you probably saw last week when I posted the Wordless Wednesday picture that Scott and I are doing the Biggest Loser together. My dear husband doesn’t need to lose any weight. He did gain some pregnancy sympathy weight but has since lost it all. On the other hand, I would like to lose 10-15 pounds to get me back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I can fit in to some things but the muffin top makes things incredibly uncomfortable. Ha!! Plus, I lost a lot of my muscle mass during the pregnancy and after and really want to tone up.

My biggest struggle with getting back into shape is time. I have worked out occasionally during lunch but it's a limited workout and I have to use the yucky building showers and then am overheated afterwards. The evenings are tough because we don't eat dinner until after Elle has gone to bed--so sometimes as late as 8! That leaves the mornings. And I'm thrilled to say that I've been heading to the gym at 5:15 in the morning. Scott literally has to kick me out of bed (my request) so that I don't just hit snooze for two hours, but I'm hoping I can make a habit out of this. Plus it means I'm not so rushed in the mornings and hopefully it can lead to some more "me" time.

To get me started in getting back into shape I'm doing the Couch to 5K program. For those of you who aren't familiar, C25K is a 9 week series of workouts to help train someone from the couch to be able to run a 5K. I'm planning on running a 5K on March 10th so this plan works out perfectly for me!  Since I'm a moderately conditioned runner I haven't been following completely (first couple of weeks so far alternate running and walking but sometimes I'll skip the walk and just run at a slower pace), but it's been a lot of fun to compete against myself AND Scott!!

I'm babbling, but more the point of this post is to direct you to the Get Moving Fitness Challenge that Amanda and Jill are hosting. Yup--it's a spawn of the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge but this time YOU get to pick your goals. And it's certainly not too late to join to fun. My goal for the challenge is to work out 50 times by March 31st (the challenge deadline). This doesn't seem like much but it's about 4 workouts a week and for this recent couch potato, 4 workouts is a lot!

Super excited!! Just need to get used to being up before the crack of dawn. Ha!

On my running playlist this morning: Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. Love.

And, because I die at how cute Elle's little baby running shoes are...

How are you moving this year?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Feeling Whole Again - Handling Postpartum Depression

Bare with me...this is long but I didn't want to break up my thoughts between several posts.

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for a long time and have even started a few drafts. In the end I’ve always hit “delete all” but it’s time and I’m ready. Part of my hesitancy comes from the fact that people I know personally read this blog, including a few coworkers. I would certainly hope that no one would unfairly judge, use this information maliciously, or view me any differently. Truthfully, I’ve become so good at internalizing that maybe this is a surprise? Mainly, my purpose for this post is to record my thoughts and hopefully show someone else that she is not alone. Postpartum depression is very real and very painful but it should not be a source of shame for a new mother.

When you’re pregnant you’re given all kinds of literature on the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression. It was discussed in our hospital childbirth class and mentioned by my doctor several times. It’s absolutely normal, and often expected, for a new mother to feel the blues after having her baby. When this doesn’t go away after a few weeks, it starts to be considered postpartum depression. Before going on any further let me disclaim that I am not an expert and every individual experience is different. I can only speak for myself.

Being a new mother is one of the hardest things I have experienced in my thirty years. The teenage years sucked big time, but deep down I always knew that I could make it through. There were moments in my first few weeks of motherhood that I just didn’t see how I could ever get through it. I asked my friends when it would get better or easier. I remember sobbing to my mom several times “I can’t do this.” I could and I did and I am. By week three things were already much easier and when I went back to the doctor for my six week check-up I squeaked by with a passing grade on my postpartum depression evaluation.

I was able to laugh and smile and was feeling a lot more at ease in my new role as mother. I still had moments where I cried (a lot), but I just waited for those moments to pass and chalked most of it up to the lack of sleep. When I returned to work at twelve weeks I started to feel like my normal self again until I realized how overwhelmed I was feeling. I started taking my frustrations out on Scott and became really detached from everything and everyone, including Elle. Detached in a weird way—I never questioned my love or our decision to have a child or wished for my “old life” but it was like I couldn’t let myself fully enjoy. I felt crushed and panicked and anxious until I would finally shut down emotionally and mentally.

Things came to a boiling point about a month after I returned to work (maybe 16 weeks after Elle was born) when I realized that when Elle was napping or had gone down for bed, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would clean like crazy—rushing around the house like mad woman—and when there was nothing left for me to do I literally stood in the kitchen with a blank stare on my face. I had completely lost myself. I looked at Scott and told him it was time. I needed to be me again. Bless his poor and patient heart—Scott agreed and I made the appointment to talk to the doctor. When I met with her I finally broke down and sobbed. Her two words of advice were to get some sleep (ha!) and take time for myself (double ha!).

It has now been almost six months since I made the decision to go talk to my doctor and I am so grateful that I did. It was incredibly difficult for me to admit that I was struggling—being a new mother is already so emotionally complicated that to admit one more fault is almost crushing, especially when I miscarried once and struggled for months to get pregnant with Elle. She is such an incredible joy and blessing--why was I feeling so...

I’ve done a little bit of reading about postpartum depression and it doesn’t necessarily seem to be related to hormones and even some men have been diagnosed with postpartum depression. Having gone through periods of depression in the past (none of which were treated), I wondered if I would be more prone to having more than just the baby blues. I’m not sure if this is truly the case or not—so much is unknown about  postpartum depression and I’ve heard many women say that they are sure they dealt with it when their babies were born twenty and thirty years ago but there wasn’t a vocabulary to discuss it.

My cousin was sweet enough to bounce some questions to me to help me write this post and one of the questions she asked was what was  postpartum depression like. I’ve already mentioned the disconnect between myself and others and feeling incredibly overwhelmed. But I think the biggest struggle was coming to terms with my new life changes. I didn’t know how to be a mom, a wife, and myself all at the same time. Looking back I can see that I thought I needed to be someone completely different from who I was before the baby—I didn’t know how to adjust just parts of my life. Because of this I completely lost myself. There is absolutely no way to prepare for how absolutely life changing being a mother is. But, what I now know is that I did not need to change, I just needed to grow. (I hope this makes sense—basically I can be the same person as I was, just enhanced?).

One of the things that I believe can exacerbate the depression is feeling alone and isolated. People would tell me that of course there will be adjustment and of course it will be hard, but I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to handle those adjustments or the difficulty. I felt like a failure for not having the answers or not knowing what to do when Elle was crying or upset or not sleeping or not nursing or… And I felt shame for feeling depressed and helpless. In the book What Mother’s Do the first chapter discusses the competition between mothers and sadly I see this to be true—it’s impossible not to compare your experiences to others and for me I wanted to prove that I was handling everything perfectly and doing just fine. It was so hard to admit that things were not OK and that I needed help.

So what has changed over the past five months? R-E-L-A-X. Yes, I’m laughing at myself, too. But really—like the doctor ordered: sleep and time to myself—with the realization that both won’t be like it was before Elle. Cutting myself some slack. Realizing that I can’t do everything that I want to do or even need to do, but that the world won’t end. Asking for help. Asking for help again. Relying on my incredibly supportive husband who happens to be the best dad. Sometimes I think that I rely on him a little too much, but I’ve learned that we really are partners. Taking deep breaths and not forgetting to take time to just snuggle and be in the moment.

Do I still have moments? Yes, of course—we all do, don’t we? But the key, for me, is that I feel like myself again. And with renewed strength. Do I worry that I will go through this again with baby number 2? Yes. Will it prevent me from having more kids? No. I can’t wait for the next baby to come and I know there will be struggles but I also know that I can do it. I’ll count on Scott to hold my hand, but now that I know the signs, I feel better equipped to take care of myself sooner rather than later.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I don’t have the answers and I don’t have any sage advice. Everyone’s experiences are individual and different treatment works for different people (I did not want to go into detail about this in the post, if you’d like to discuss you can email me). But what I do hope is that by sharing my own story that I will help someone else realize that she is not alone. There is nothing “wrong” with you for the way that you are feeling, but it can get better and my hope is that women can and will ask for help when they need it—in whatever shape or form that might be.

I know this picture is flawed but I can't help but love it.

Deep breath...and Publish.

With a heart full of love,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Salon 56: You Know You're Book Obsessed When...

Good morning!!! I think Sunday morning is my favorite of the week. Scott and I always make breakfast together on Sundays and it's usually a morning to be a bit lazy.

You will be proud to know that I've started the Great Bookshelf Overhaul (I'm looking at you who said end of January was quite ambitious...). As I've been spending time with my books, and trying to find some to part with, I've also started thinking about characteristics of the book obsessed.

You Know You're Book Obsessed When:

You highly recommend books that you haven't read yet because so many other bloggers loved them.

One of your greatest fears is not being able to read everything you want to in your lifetime.

Turning the pages of a book is one of your greatest comforts.

You've hugged a book...more than once.

The joke about the person who was crushed to death by his bookshelves--that could totally be you.

You see an awesome movie preview and know you have a to read the book first.

Your literary crush is so very real.

You dread being seated next to someone chatty who will interrupt your public transportation reading.

You've cried in public while reading your book--and you didn't care.

How to categorize your books is a serious dilemma.

You've learned the art of multitasking while listening to audiobooks.

You follow book awards like others follow movie awards.

You've bought a book you already owned because you forgot you had it.

You are never ever ever without a book.

Added from the comments:

You plan your day around your reading (Jenny)

You add more books to your library holds list, even though you already have more checked out than you could possibly read before they are due (Lisa)

You've thrown a book across the room (CB James) - though the rest of us hope that he does so gently!!!

You call in sick to work so you can stay home and read (Softdrink/Jill)

You know you're book obsessed when you plan trips around author events (BermudaOnion)

You've been known to smell a new book (Laura)

You give someone an incredulous look when someones tells you they don't read (Kay)

What do you have to add to the list?

On the Blog:

Looking Back to last week
**The Great Bookshelf Overhaul
**Oh We're Going to a Hukilau (or, give me suggestions for Maui!)
**Wordless Wednesday: Biggest Loser
**Thoughts on The Elegance of the Hedgehog
**Homemade Baby Food - Weekend Cooking

On Chickpea Banana
Nothing this week.

Looking Forward to Next Week
**I've started drafting a rather lengthy post on postpartum depression--if I can finish then I'll post this week. Not sure if I should break it up into two posts or not.
**For you Quilters: I found a tutorial series that I'm going to be sewing along with (or at least attempting). The tutorials is for Solstice Stars. Let me know if you're interest and we can give each other mutual support!
**On Saturday for weekend cooking I'm going to try to post about my Operation Use My Kitchen Stuff - First up is the crockpot!! Not sure what else...

A Note on Blogger's New Threaded Comments: I have installed the threaded comments but I don't plan to personally use them. I have a system for responding to comments and even though it sometimes takes me a day or two to respond, I've been better! But because I can only respond to comments maybe once a day, I don't want to junk up your inboxes with replies. So, I'll continue to respond the same way for now, but the threaded comments will be there for anyone else's use. Maybe I'll end up just switching back to the old way...

Hope you're all having a delicious Sunday. What's on the agenda for you? I'm counting on lots of snuggles this afternoon with Elle--even if I have to steal those snuggles! ;)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Homemade Baby Food - Weekend Cooking

I can remember the first time I saw a baby food maker. I was browsing through William Sonoma (love) and saw the little baby puree maker and freezer containers. I may have laughed out loud—I don’t remember—but I definitely remember scoffing a little bit. Who has time to make baby food? Granola moms, that’s who!

But then my friend had a baby and she made me realize how easy it is to make baby food. Maybe it was because I didn’t get to nurse for as long as I would have liked, but I decided that when it came time for Elle to have solids that I would make her baby food. I’ve stuck with the idea that I will continue to do this until it becomes stressful and luckily for the both of us it has been easier than I would have ever imagined.

And trust me, I am not a freaky granola mom. But when I was trying to think of reasons NOT to make baby food, I couldn’t think of any good ones.

I don’t have any of those fancy baby food making gadgets either. I did buy a food processor but only because when I tried to puree carrots in the blender, it was a nightmare. A pot, a steamer, the food processor, and ice cube trays. Not sure why you would need anything more than that.

Well, I do have a baby food book that I’ve used religiously. Even though steaming and pureeing vegetables and fruits is kind of a no brainer, I LOVE Top 100 Baby Purees for all of the advice, recipes, and nutritional information. Plus it’s just kind of nice to have some hand holding in the beginning.

What have I made for Elle? Carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, apples, pears, peaches, and most recently chicken mixtures. I have some cauliflower in the fridge and blueberries in the freezer to whip up soon and then maybe we'll move on to broccoli and then who knows what else. I typically make a big batch on the weekends (usually only every other weekend) and we're good to go for a few weeks. Especially now that she has much more variety of foods and is also eating raw bananas.

So all you non-freaky non-granola moms--you can do this too. Honestly? I think it's easier than having to go to the store every time she's out of jarred food. It's really taken the guessing game out and I can defrost as much as I want at a time and very little goes to waste. Plus, it tastes amazing. Yes, even the pureed chicken!

Do you have any baby food making tips? I know I still have a lot to learn!

And a big thanks to Heather for pointing me towards this Homemade Baby Food Recipe site!

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, January 12, 2012

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

Title: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Author: Muriel Barbery
Narrators: Barbara Rosenblat, Cassandra Morris
Published: 2006 Pages: 359
Audio Duration: 9 hrs, 34 mins
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary: A middle aged apartment concierge, Madame Renee Michel, who has hidden her cultural proclivities from those around her and a teenage girl, Paloma, who is searching for a reason to continue to live in this seemingly meaningless world, are brought together by a strange new tenant, Mr. Ozu.

Why I listened: JoAnn made me. Well, her review did anyway. I was in an audio-lull and had just received an audible credit; JoAnn's description of this one being a "thought-provoking, cerebral novel" had me knowing that it was just what I needed.

Thoughts in General: The book is written from the alternating perspectives of Madame Michel and Paloma. JoAnn warns that there is a slow start to the book and she's absolutely correct--but pick this one up when you're in the mood for character and writing-driven novels rather than a plot-driven novel. It is an incredibly quiet book that takes place mostly in the heads of the two characters, but I was surprised at how I longed to hear more of each ones thoughts.

Bottom Line: I will certainly be listening to this book again and I will also be picking up a hard copy. It's a book that needs to be enjoyed slowly and indulgently like a decadent and rich coffee. But don't be discouraged by the slow start--instead savor it--get to know these wonderful characters. And if slow isn't your style, skip this one!

A note on the audio: The narration of The Elegance of the Hedgehog was absolutely fantastic. Barbara Rosenblat as Madame Michel is by far one of the narrations I have listened to--Rosenblat absolutely transformed herself into the character and made her come to life. She was emphatic and dramatic in all of the right places. My only quibble is a personal one--I was trying to listen to the ending while doing some basic tasks at work when I realized that I only peripherally knew what was happening. I missed out on a key moment and certainly learned my lesson about trying to multitask!!

This one has received some really rave reviews but also some mild ones. Have you read it? What did you think?

Also, while looking up the page numbers for this post I realized that it was originally published in France and that there's a French movie. Huh!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh We're Going to a Hukilau

A huki huki huki huki hukilau

This is the song that has been stuck in my head for a day--over and over and over. 


We booked a family vacation to Maui this summer!!  As in all of my immediate family!!  You can be assured that I'll be practicing my hula, as seen below, while I patiently wait for the time to hop on the plane.

Scott and I went to Oahu three years ago (zomg, really three years ago?!), so we're looking forward to seeing one of the other Hawaiian islands.

Have you been to Maui? What MUST we do while we're there?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Salon 55: The Great Bookshelf Overhaul

Scott and I have officially lived in our house for two years. Most of me can't believe it--really two years? But the rest of me just feels a big blur when I think about our rental when we first moved to Dallas--or our house out in small town West Texas after we graduated from college.

But remember the following picture from when we were first getting unsettled?

Sadly I have STILL not organized my books. As in NOT AT ALL. I even asked you guys over a year ago how you tame your shelves and got some great suggestions. And I did start pulling some books off the shelf to donate to the library. But then ebooks started being everywhere. And book bloggers who said they would never abandon paper now prefer their cold plastic ereaders. And then I started to get paranoid that maybe one day publishers wouldn't publish as many paper books. And then rarely publish paper books and then...I decided that I needed to hoard my books "just in case." Even the ones I don't think I'll ever read. SOMEONE COME SHAKE SOME SENSE INTO ME!

But regardless of whether I give up any of my precious books or not, I DO need to organize. The shelves in the picture above actually look much neater than they do in real life. Almost every single shelf is double stacked and it's dangerous any time I try to find a book within the stacks. So, my goal for January will be to get these shelves in order. I'm thinking about getting bins and storing the books that I've already read or those I'm not likely to read anytime soon (SOMEONE COME SHAKE SOME SENSE INTO ME!!), but for the rest, I think I finally have an idea of how to sort.

I recently stumbled onto Melody's (of Fingers and Prose) post on organizing your TBR shelf in a guilt-free manner. Now, I've kind of organized shelves this way in the past but not as a whole--and I've never had all of my bookshelves in one room together either. So except for my "Read" shelf, which is double-stacked and running over into the other shelves, I'm going to organize my books into different categories--fiction and non-fiction and then different categories within those. I haven't quite worked that out yet, but say all the memoirs together, all the classics together, all the pulp fiction together, etc. Makes total sense, doesn't it?  (nevermind that...um...bookstores seem to organize their shelves this way...)


So you'll hold me to it??  I'm shooting for a follow-up post on January 29th. Bahahahaha!! (especially since one Saturday is out because I've officially signed up for a free-motion quilting class).

How do you go about organizing your bookish chaos?

On the Blog:

Looking Back to last week
**Gooooooodbye 2011! And Helllllllo 2012!! Or, things I'd like to do this year.
**Wordless Wednesday: New Tricks
**Mini Thoughts on four/five audiobooks I've recently listened to!!
**Holiday Recipe Exchange Round-up

On Chickpea Banana
**Wordless Wednesday: Eight Month Difference

Looking Forward to Next Week
So, my "blog calendar" (which is really just a sheet of paper with the month and days) is great for looking backward but not so great for planning ahead. I have ALL of these things running through my head but none of them seem good enough for a post of it's own. Bah. I do have a baby food post drafted, so I'll try to publish that this week. I finished Affinity last week (yay me!) so maybe a short post about that as well. Hmmmmm...  ;)

What do you have going on??

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Holiday Recipe Exchange Round-up

Thank you so much to all of those who participated in my Holiday Recipe Exchange! Here's a short round-up of links of those who shared something yummy. Please hop around!!

All you have to do is follow Beth F of Beth Fish Reads on Twitter or haunt her weekend cooking to know that she's always whipping up something delicious. She shared recipes for Latkes (potato pancakes), Shortbread Bars, and ideas for holiday side dishes (I have my eye on the brussel sprouts with chestnuts).

Les in Nebraska posted a recipe for Rugelach from her Kiss the Cook blog. I can smell the cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins all the way down here in Texas!

Book Club Care shared a recipe for a dish she calls Fruit Slices. It's a recipe that reminds her of mom and tastes like home. I know Scott would love it with Cherry Pie filling!

I shared the recipe I used to make the cookies in the picture above: Hildabrotchen or Shortbread Cookies with Jam. So pretty and not too terribly sweet.

Christine at The Happily Ever After... posted about making Spritz Cookies. I was familiar with the name but new them immediately when I visited her post. The type of cookies that just melt in your mouth!

Meg from Write Meg! shared her gorgeous Candy Cane Blossoms. Sure to impress at any holiday cookie exchange and they would be great for Valentine's Day Too!

And I about died when I saw Nicole's post about Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Just read that title and try not to experience immediate mouth-watering. Nicole also shared a recipe for gorgeous Russian Tea Cakes.

Again, thanks for participating! And if you're just hopping around, I hope you find something yummy here!!

Happy Cooking!

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, January 5, 2012

Some Sorta Mini Audiobook Thoughts


Title: Before I Go to Sleep
Author: S. J. Watson
Published: 2011;  Pages: 368
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Audio Length: 11 hrs, 32 min
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

Summary: Christine was in a terrible accident and doesn't have the abilities to make new memories and has lost many of her old memories. Under advisement of her doctor, Christine begins a daily journal and slowly realizes things have gone awry and she cannot trust the man who has been caring for her--her husband Ben.

Descriptors: Thrilling, absorbing, emotional rollercoaster, thought-provoking, satisfying, at times a bit over the top and a bit unbelievable, found excuses to clean my house so I could keep listening.

Bottom Line: I would definitely recommend listening to Before I Go to Sleep! Orlagh Cassidy did a fantastic job of conveying the range of emotions Christine experiences throughout the novel.

Title: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief/ Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 2005/2006 Pages: 384/279
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Audio Length: 10 hrs / 7 hrs and 56 mins
Genre: Fantasy (Middle Grade)
Rating: 3/5

Summary: Percy Jackson, a young pre-teen who struggles with ADHA and dyslexia, learns that he is son to one of the Olympian gods. He meets other demi-gods, satyrs, and creatures, and gets transported into a whirlwind of mayhem and quests to make all right within the universe.

Descriptors: Fun, action packed, engaging, reminiscent of popular Greek myths (Odyssey, Jason and the Golden Fleece), pre-teen hormones (ick).

Bottom Line: I enjoyed listening to the first two books in the series but don't feel a big pull to continue. I'll download from the library when I feel a lull in my listening but am not in a big hurry.

Title: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Author: Tom Franklin
Published: 2010? Pages: 304
Narrator: Kevin Kenerly
Audio Length: 9 hrs, 30 min
Genre: Fiction, Mystery?
Rating: 3/5

Summary: Larry Ott and Silas Jones were once unlikely childhood friends whose friendship ended abruptly. Years later their paths cross again as Ott is suspect in a missing persons case and Jones is the constable investigating.

Descriptors: Eh.

OK Fine: I listened to this one on my bike trip in Arkansas last fall and I was interested enough to keep listening but not really invested in the story. Kevin Kenerly's narration was wonderful, though. And for those who wondered, I thought the Mississippi dialect sounded very authentic on the audio.

Bottom Line: Everyone loves this book. Thinks the writing was awesome. One of the pitfalls of listening is that I don't notice laudable writing styles (conversely I also don't notice terrible writing either). It was also much grittier than I expected--my fault for hearing the raves but not taking the time to learn the subject matter.

Title: At Home, A Short History of Private Life
Author: Bill Bryson
Published: 2010; Pages: 700
Narrator: Bill Bryson
Audio Length: 16 hrs, 38 mins
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Rating: 4/5

Summary: Everything you wanted to know about nearly everything you can think of in your home. Like seriously everything. Like bed bugs and salt and wigs and meat and hermits and and and everything.

Descriptors: Fascinating, Fascinating, Fascinating. Information Overload. Great small talk fodder..."Did you know..."

Bottom Line: It took me an hour or two or three to really get into this book, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Once I realized that it was basically just a bunch of random history and information, I was able to let go and allow my brain to be filled. But overwhelming at times and I'm sure I tuned out of at least 30% of the book. And only remember 10%?

Whew! So glad to have those done. I listened to some other really great audiobooks in 2011, but other than Ready Player One and Elegance of the Hedgehog I don't plan on writing about them at this point. If you're curious, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Alice I Have Been, and And Then There Were None were all fantastic. Bedwetter was not. Nor was Three Cups of Tea--it's possible I didn't even finish that one?

Have you read/listen to any of these? What did you think?

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