Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ten Month Update - 2.25.2012


I get thrown for a loop when the babe's monthday falls on a weekend, so I'm a little behind schedule. Sorry about that!

The full 10 Month Update with pictures can be found on Chickpea Banana blog. If you would like access to this site, I just need your email address (even if I already have it I'm not making any assumptions about who wants to be added--just need to know).

So the highlights--Elle now has six teef and she's been kind of cranky so I wonder if others are coming in. She sleeps great and is so good-natured. Though she's not a lie around and smile type of baby--she is constantly on the move (as evidenced by the first picture below). She's eating more and more solid foods (chopped into tiny pieces) and loves feeding herself. And sometimes the doggie, too. She talks to herself and says mamamamama daddadadada but I don't think she does so in association with Scott or myself. Elle will stand on her own but not on command and not when she realizes she's doing so. But not walking yet--just moving around furniture and legs and such. As always she is a little firecracker but also so much joy. Can't believe we only have two months until she'll be one year old. Goodness gracious.






Sigh.




Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another Bout of the Randoms

Raise your hand if you think that tomorrow (Leap Day) should be a freebie holiday? Like seriously--I'm in desperate need of an extra day in my life. I'm drowning! Just can't seem to figure out how to do it all (yes, appearances are deceiving--every time someone says that I am supermom I want to kick them a little bit). I did manage to get my haircut on Saturday, which was totally a good thing as this is how it looked at work on Friday...(I was wearing a headband but it was giving me a headache).


First, I want to thank everyone for their comments and concerns for my Silent Visitor post on Monday. Someone emailed me and very kindly noted that she had no idea that I would have noticed her silent visits (guess she thought this blog was bigger than it is...ha!) and that she has a daughter a few months younger than the babe. I don't know her personally, which actually surprised me a bit, so hopefully all is well. BUT, I did not receive any hits yesterday from said Service Provider, so I hate to think there might be someone else.

A regular commenter actually emailed me about commenting on babe posts (actually not my babe posts but I felt her comments applied). I LOVE sharing with you guys. Seriously. Of course I don't want to throw my baby at you and say "Look how cute she is!!!" but I also don't want you to feel weird about viewing this piece of my life. Obviously I want to share otherwise this whole visitor thing wouldn't have bothered me so much--I would have simply just removed those pieces from the blog.

Anyway--that wasn't the point of this post. I kind of just wanted to say hi.

Dracula Ballet was fantastic! Unfortunately only one of us thought so. But our little getaway to Fort Worth was wonderful and I can't wait for the weather to turn a bit warmer so that we can take Elle down to the Stockyards. Maybe get her a cowgirl outfit. Ha! But check out this theater--it is the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth (edited in Instagram). Isn't it gorgeous??


I don't really have any other news. I have a Wordless Wednesday post planned for tomorrow and I'm going to try to get some kind of bookish post finished for Thursday. On Saturday Scott and I have big plans (or an announcement really) for Weekend Cooking. Sunday--I'd say that maybe I'll have my bookshelves done but right now it's mostly just cleaning up around the bookshelves and I don't have time to do that. So I'll probably just skip Sunday again.

And if you're totally on top of things and know that the babe turned TEN months on Saturday, please know that the update post is about 90% written and Scott and I had a helluva time getting her to hold still for her picture. I still need to sift through this past month's pictures and then upload. Did I mention feeling like I'm drowning??

And one more picture of downtown Fort Worth--the view of Sundance Square from our hotel room. Wish I had gotten more pictures but hopefully we'll head back soon.


Another day...


Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Silent Visitor in Dallas


Dear Frequent Silent Visitor in or around Dallas,


I probably feel as awkward writing this post as you feel reading it. Or maybe you'll think I'm not talking to you. I am, but the problem is that I don't know who I'm talking to. All I know is that you visit a few times a week and seem to target the monthly update posts. Which makes me hope that I know you in person, but if I don't...well, I'm starting to weird myself out a bit. At this point all I have is a network provider to go by.

I hate watching my blog stats closely, but ever since I began recognizing the patterns of your visits I've been watching for your network provider to pop up. And wondering--at first I thought you might be my dad and then perhaps an ex-coworker who has a baby a few months younger than mine. Or maybe you popped over from Facebook. Maybe I don't know you at all. I wish I did. Are you embarrassed to tell me that you read my blog? Honestly I don't care. I just want some peace of mine at this point.

If you feel that this might be you--if you visit but never say anything, I urge you to send me an email

I wish that this post wasn't a serious post, but it is. I don't know what else to do--the feeling of being watched makes me feel really helpless and if it continues then all shreds of the babe will disappear from this blog.

I appreciate your understanding.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Operation Crockpot Part 2: Lessons Learned

A little over a month ago I announced my intentions to use my kitchen gadgets in 2012. I have so many cool things in the kitchen but many of them I don't utilize as much as I could or should. First up was the crockpot.

This post is Part Two of Two - Lessons Learned. Part One contains The Meals.



Personal Crockpot Revelations
• The crockpot can be used for so much more than just cooking pot roast! And more than stew!
• Cooking meats in the crockpot, even for really extended periods of time, result in such tender and yummy meat.
• Crockpots are better for main dishes rather than desserts, at least based on this month long experiment. But I’m bound and determined to keep trying!
• Nothing smells as good as something cooking in the crockpot all day (or night).
• The cook times are still somewhat of an issue for me (being gone for hours during the day and not eating until late), but weekend cooking for the weekdays helps a lot.
• Using the crockpot is a great way to cook a huge meal and freeze half for later.
• If a recipe says to line the bottom of crockpot with parchment paper, don’t use wax ;)
• I’ve said it before, but using the crockpot still requires work—it’s just a matter of when you do that work.


Crockpot Tips and Tricks
• Read the entire recipe before doing anything else. Otherwise you might be surprised by some prep cooking. Yes, you can fix and forget with the crockpot, but you still have to fix! And sometimes there are steps at the end as well.
• If you plan to start the crockpot in the morning, assemble your ingredients and chop any vegetables the night before.
• If cooking something like bread, strata, or cake, use parchment paper to line the bottom of the crockpot. Determine the size by placing the crockpot on top of the parchment paper and outlining the parchment around the bottom of the pot with pencil. Then fold in half and cut your circle/oval.
• Line the rim of your crockpot/lid with papertowel to catch any condensation from dropping in the dish when lifting the lid (more useful when cooking items that are more solid like cakes).
• I haven’t tried but I’ve heard that outlet timers work in a pinch if you need to delay start your crockpot.
• Crockpot liners do wonders for a quick cleanup. Like seriously miraculous inventions.
• No matter how tempted you are, don’t lift the crockpot lid unless you have to—it will add time to your cooking.
• Try cooking the meal overnight and reheat when you’re reading to eat again—this achieves that “second day” taste without having to wait two nights.
• If your recipe made ten billion servings or you’re just cooking for one or two, freeze half of it now to eat later.

What tips and tricks for the crockpot do you have to share?


So where do I go from here?
Even though my Operation Use My Crockpot has come to a close, I still have so many things that I want to try in the crockpot! Both SuziQ and Allie recommended a pork tenderloin recipe I want to try; CJ gave me directions to crockpot Swiss Steak; I want to continue to experiment with steel cut oat recipes for breakfast, I’d love to make some pasta sauce to then keep on hand in the freezer. There are oodles of recipes online and even a few more that I have bookmarked in my cookbooks. Several of you mention adding red wine to your pot roasts, something that I’ve never tried but sounds so delicious. And then I’d like to try making my brisket recipe with half the liquid I normally use (in other words what the original recipe for the oven calls for). I’d also like to try some side dishes and maybe even some warm beverages!

And I still have questions and things to learn!
• How do I translate a recipe I would normally cook in the oven to the slow cooker?
• Do I really need to brown the meat before tossing into the crockpot (which I typically don’t do), or is this just for coloring and to drain a bit of fat?
• I was taught that I need a lot of liquid to cook in the crockpot—I’ve always drowned my meats in liquid but maybe I don’t need to?


Next month’s Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets will be…..

Food Processor!


I actually just purchased my food processor a few months ago when I started making Elle’s baby food. The blender wasn’t cutting it and the actual appliances for making baby food are a joke (way too freaking small!).  So, I use my food processor for…making baby food. And that’s it.

What do you use your food processor for? I know people LOVE these appliances but other than chopping veggies (can I chop more than one kind at a time?) and possibly making bread crumbs or grating cheese (I usually buy the pre-grated cheese), I’m not sure how to really utilize this machine. Since Elle will probably be off the purees in a few months, I want to avoid letting this appliance collect dust.

I’ll be back with a full report of Operation Use My…Food Processor on March 31st. Anyone want to join me? I can promise lots of tweets. ;)

And make sure to tune in next Saturday as Scott and I have gone crazy and will be going au natural for the month of March!


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, February 24, 2012

Operation Crockpot Part 1: The Meals

A little over a month ago I announced my intentions to use my kitchen gadgets in 2012. I have so many cool things in the kitchen but many of them I don't utilize as much as I could or should. First up was the crockpot.

This post is Part One of Two - The Meals. Part Two contains lessons learned and tips and tricks as well as my next Operation Use My...



Can I admit that I’m a bit sad that my Operation Use My Crockpot time is up? I’m officially calling the Operation a success, and even though not everything that I made turned out, I learned so much and still have so many things I want to try in the crockpot. While this particular chapter of Operation Use My… is over, I’m by no means done using the crockpot.

And I’d love to thank you all for your support for the challenge over the past month. You tweeted and emailed me recipes, sent me crockpot websites and links, pinned things for me on Pinterest, and of course helped me troubleshoot issues or questions I had during the journey.

And can you believe that I made TEN things?

Operation Use My Crockpot Experiments:


Ham and Cheddar Brunch Strata
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)

Scott liked this one more than I did but I'd try making it again. This was my first non-meat type recipe in the crockpot and I wasn't sure what to expect! Definitely worth a second shot.

==============


Glazed Cinnamon Coffee Cake
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)

First attempt at something "baked" in the crockpot. You can tell from the pictures that the edges burned a bit. The inside was either really moist or undercooked. I'm going with moist. It tasted great, though!

==============

Asian Beef Stew (forgot to take a picture!)
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)
Was good but not great. Scott did not like this one at all. The taste was unusual and neither of us could put our finger on what it was we didn't care for. Maybe the orange juice or Chinese 5 spice? Ah well.

==============


Chicken Marsala
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)

Chicken was so tender and juicy! This recipe did require a bit of prep but wasn't too terribly intensive. Only took two hours to cook and the leftovers were good but not great. On the fence overall.

==============


Hot Fudge Cake
(recipe via Crockpot Made Simple)


Plain and simple this was a *disaster* of epic proportions. After more than the suggested cooking time, it was still just a pot of runny chocolately mess. So bummed about this one! 

==============

Chicken Stock

I've yet to use the chicken stock but it made about 10 cups and all of it is in the freezer. When I did a little taste test I thought it tasted a bit bland but then I realized it's because it doesn't have all (or any) of the sodium of the canned stuff. This stock stewed in the crockpot for 24 hours!

==============


Chicken Taco Chili 
(recipe via skinnytaste.com)

Quite possibly my favorite of the bunch! Either this or the BBQ Pulled Pork. So freaking delicious! (Thanks Merd) I'm hoping to add the leftovers to the freezer as I'm sure it'll reheat wonderfully. We ate with rice but will eat with chips next time. I added a bit of cayenne pepper for kick.

==============


BBQ Pulled Pork
(recipe via Goodhousekeeping)

Yummmmmy! This is tied with the Chicken Taco Chili as my favorite. This Pulled Pork is so flavorful and came out so tender--the perfect combo of sweet and tangy. I froze a bag and everything defrosted and reheated beautifully. Will definitely make this gem again!



==============


White Chicken Chili
(recipe via Lu @ Regular Rumination- recipe can be found in comments)


This yummy White Chicken Chili was so easy to make! It did require a bit of prep (sauteing onions and jalapenos), but it helped provide a richer taste to the soup. I had plenty of leftovers for this so I have a few bags in the freezer. When I reheat I'll probably add a bit of salsa or Rotel cuz I like it spicy. ;)

==============

Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oats
(recipe via The Yummy Life)

This was my first attempt at cooking something in the crockpot overnight (other than the chicken stock). The cooking time is 7 hours and so at 5:00 the crockpot set to warm. There was a bit of burning around the edges of my crockpot, but nothing that couldn't just be scraped away. Everything else worked wonderfully! The taste is a bit blander than I'm used to (since I always eat the Maple and Brown Sugar instant packets). The post I linked to says to reheat with a bit of milk, but my leftovers were so moist that I didn't need any milk. Very good reheated!

==============

So there you have it--ten things in the crockpot. With so many more ideas!!

I really wanted to highlight all of the other links that you guys provided me, but I'm still kind of overwhelmed by your outpouring. If you are interested in more (untried by me) links and recipe ideas, please head to my original Operation Use My Crockpot post.

What is your favorite thing to cook in the crockpot? Do any of these look tempting to you?

Make sure you tune in tomorrow for the lessons learned and tips and tricks!








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, February 23, 2012

Tagged for Awesomeness!!

Wahhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee! (I may have just had a huge slice of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and am running on a sugar high).  Hmmmm, and if it wasn't so late I probably should have just vlogged this. But anywho.

So, Trisha tagged me for the 11 Question Meme 10 days ago. I immediately copied her questions into a draft post and then got sidetracked. Since then I've been tagged by Lisa and Chris. So now instead of 11 questions, I have 33. But I'm trying to keep my answers as short as possible. And I did want to use lots of pictures for funsies but...that sugar high is eventually going to lead to a crash.  (pic below shamelessly stolen from Care).



Meme!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rules
1 You must post the rules.
2 Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3 Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4 Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Chris's Questions:
1. What's the best book you've read so far in 2012?
I've only finished one book. Ha! Affinity by Sarah Waters. Including audo? Bossypants by Tina Fey

2. What's your most anticipated book of 2012 so far?
The Stand by Stephen King. Woot!

3. What's your favorite song or album of 2012 (doesn't have to be from this year)?
Vampire Weekend! Ok so a band, but lovesies

4. What's the best thing to happen to you so far this year?
The Bradford Pears have started blossoming this week.

5. What's the worst thing to happen to you so far this year?
Realizing how many calories are in the Starbucks iced lemon pound cake

6. What's the best piece of news you've heard not concerning you so far this year? This could be a political event, a news item that made you smile, something that happened to a friend, etc.
Family trip to Hawaiiiiiiiiiii!  Oh wait, that does concern me.

7. What's the best thing you've cooked/eaten/best recipe you've saved so far this year?
ZOMG Chocolately Trifle.

8. What's your biggest goal for this year and how's it working for you so far?
I've used my crockpot a crapload of times so far!

9. Have you discovered any new to you blogs yet this year that you're loving?
This chick makes the most beautiful free-motion quilting

10. What's your favorite thing you've seen on the screen so far this year? This could be a tv show/music video/movie/documentary, etc.
Once Upon a Time on ABC.

11. Do you plan on doing any gardening in 2012? Come on it's me...you knew there'd be some gardening in here :p
The square foot gardening box is made! Just need to fill it.

Lisa asked me:
1. Could you eat the same thing for lunch every day? What would it be?
Yes and sometime I do. Typically SmartOnes meals.

2. How many library books do you have checked out right now?
Zero. Except for one digital audiobook if that counts.

3. Do you feel strongly about specific music? or more of a music in general type person?
Music in general. I love music but all different kinds.

4. What is your favorite brick and morter retail store?
Half Price Books. or Target.

5. What is your favorite online store?
Amazon (Oh stop with the glares...I rarely online shop).

6. What is your favorite moment of heartstopping romantic tension? (Book, movie, music, tv, real life, art, anywhere.)
At the end of Pride & Prejudice (Kiera Knightly movie) in the fields (fwd about 2 min in).

Just...love. LOVE.



7. What is the first book you remember reading?
Pinocchio when I was about 8?

8. Are you creative in any way? How so?
You would say yes. I would say no. I can create but I am not innovative.

9. Not counting your family, pets, and vital personal documents/pictures, what one thing would you save in a fire?
Elle's quilt.

10. What is your favorite type of vacation (museums, beach, cabin, mountains, theme parks)?
Roadtrip!!! Or any type of trip where I see lots of different places.

11. What is the most surprising or unexpected thing you've done in the last 12 months?
Um...or will do? Dracula Ballet on Saturday. Can't wait!

Trisha wanted to know:

1. What is your favorite piece of art?
The upside down horse my sister drew for me (ok, she didn't draw it FOR me, but still cool right?)


2. What literary character do you think would make an awesome world leader?
Bridget Jones

3. What color do you think should be outlawed from clothing?
Burnt Orange.

4. Hats. Yes or no?
Hello Don Draper.

5. What contemporary novel should be added to the high school curriculum?
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

6. What book featuring real people do you think could work if the characters were switched to animals?
If Brothers Karamazov featured animals, everyone would be asses. Ba-dum dum.

7. Genetically designed humans. Hell yes or absolutely not?
Absolutely not. Ever. Though it does make for a great book!


8. What book would you like to see get parodied a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
Gone with the Wind.

9. What book would you absolutely hate to see get parodied?
Brothers Karamazov or Ulysses.

10. TV. Awesome source of entertainment or horrifying time suck?
Awesomely horrifying, entertaining time suck.

11. What literary character should immediately jump off the page and into your bed?
Yes, it's still true.

=========================

My Questions! *Throws Confetti*
1. What app do you love above all others? Not an app person? What about website?
2. Describe your dream profession (sky is the limit).
3. Appetizers or dessert?
4. If you could be BFF with any fictional character, who would you choose?
5. I say BLUE. What immediatley comes to mind?
6. Favorite song to blast and sing in your car with the windows down?
7. What fashion fad makes you hang your head in shame?
8. What are your thoughts on 80s Hair Bands--specifically Monster Ballads?
9. What is a book you wanted to throw across the room? What is one you wanted to hug?
10. Imagine you are an aerobics instructor--what song must be on your playlist?
11. What's for dinner tonight?
Bonus: What's your favorite go-to lipstick (including color)

And I'm tagging...
Meredith!
Paxton!
Rae!
Laura!
Michelle!
Kate!
Unfinished Person!
Kristen M!
Kimberly-lala-Girl!
Jenny Girl!
Melody!
Elise!

(yes, some of you do not blog or you may not want to blog this. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. Please and thank you). AND if I did not tag you (probably because you've already been tagged, please feel free to share your answers--particularly #6 and #8 and #10 and...well, all of them.

YEEEEEEEEEEHAW THURSDAY!!!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Freeze!! - Weekend Cooking


When I went back to work after maternity leave, I knew that my cooking habits would need to change if I still wanted to spend time with the baby in the evenings and have a homecooked meal. I had heard people talk about making meals on the weekends and then eating those meals throughout the week and even a bit about freezing meals to eat later. Since Scott and I typically don't eat dinner until Elle has gone to bed (a habit we'll eventually need to change), we try to create dinners that don't require a lot of time. And yes, I say "we" because these days Scott does as much cooking, if not more, than I do.

In an effort to become healthier (eating outside of the box), less wasteful, and more organized/efficient, I've started taking a long hard look at make-ahead freezer meals. The catch, I'm finding, is that being organized takes a lot of planning and upfront [ahem] organization. Sometimes just finding the time to plan is difficult—the lists of meals to make and then the list of ingredients to make the meals and then the most efficient way to cook a few meals in bulk during the weekend.

Surely I'm not the only one who is both intrigued and overwhelmed by the idea of make-ahead meals. But at this juncture, the intrigue is definitely winning. Just like with the crockpot—it still takes work to have a yummy meal—it's just a matter of when you do the work. Last weekend Scott and I made three different soups and it was fantastic to have our meals ready to reheat, fantastic to have six more meals in the freezer, and fantastic to provide my mom's household with a night of soup.

I do have a make-ahead cookbook (thanks CJ) that I have been using as reference but haven't had chance to make more than a couple of recipes from the book. Rachael Ray had a make-ahead feature in her Everyday Cooking magazine a few months ago (thanks Lisa) that has some great tips. And if you're on Pinterest then there's a big chance you've seen some of the pins discussing freezer meals. I'm glad I'm not the only one on this homemade/efficiency kick!

Right now in my freezer I have two bags of Pasta e Fagioli (minus the pasta), four bags of white chicken chili (thanks for the recipe Lu!), two bags (about two cups each) of roasted and shredded chicken breasts, one bag of pulled pork, and 10 cups of chicken stock made from the leftover bones from the roasted chicken breasts. Even if I only use one of those items a week, that would be 7 weeks of one pre-cooked recipes and two weeks with a starter (the shredded chicken). I'd say that's a pretty awesome thing.

I've also started a list of things that I would love to have on stock in my freezer (let me know if you've had trouble/luck with any of these items):

meatballs, cookie dough, banana bread, rolls, shredded pork/beef, pasta sauce, pot roast?, pizza dough…?

There's still so much to learn and experiment with, so I'm hoping that you'll help me out with any experiences you've had with freezing meals. What has worked? What hasn't worked? What are your favorite go-to meals in the freezer?  Is it better to cook ahead or freeze things raw?  What do I need to add to my list above?

And if you're wondering about Operation Use My…Crockpot, things are awesome! I've made six crockpot recipes so far and have a list of several more that I'd like to try. I'll provide my report next Saturday and will hopefully have tried a few more recipes by then including some overnight cooking. Big thanks to everyone who has passed on recipes for me to try.







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, February 16, 2012

Bossypants - Tina Fey


Title: Bossypants
Author/Narrator: Tina Fey
Published: 2011 Pages: 277
Audio Duration: 5 hrs, 32 mins
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4.5/5

Why I listened (aka Mindless Rambling): When Scott and I started watching The Office a few years ago, we would always see the first three minutes of 30 Rock before our DVR cut out. I loved those three minutes and every single time without fail I would tell Scott "Oooooh, I wish I watched that show." It got to be a big joke between us but I never wanted to pick up the show without starting from the beginning.

During my first few weeks of motherhood when it felt like I was literally nursing around the clock, Scott and I splurged and bought all of the 30 Rock seasons on Apple TV. At 22 minutes a piece I could fit two episodes into each nursing session and watching the show made feeling like a zombie that much more bearable. Yes, as I imagined I would, I loved 30 Rock. And as soon as Tina Fey came out with Bossypants, I rushed out and grabbed a hardcopy of the book.

And then I let it sit on my shelf. And then I started to read how great the audiobook was. And I started to regret buying the book instead of the audio. And then I realized that the audio is only 5.5 hours long and my library has a digital copy I could borrow. So then I stopped fretting about it and requested from the library. And then I smiled. Just like I do for the entire 22 minute episode of 30 Rock (no, seriously).

Bossypants in Short: Tina Fey, comedienne extraordinaire of 30 Rock and Sarah Palin impersonation fame, revisits her awkwardness growing up and how she blossomed into...an awkward adult.

Thoughts in General: One of the reasons why I love Tina Fey (or her character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock) is because she shows that it is OK to be flawed and human. She has a self-deprecating humor that I find endearing and easy to relate to and I love laughing at her (sometimes with her) while also laughing at a piece of myself. While I am not funny, I would like to think that if I were funny that this is the kind of "I am not perfect but am totally ok with it" funny I would be. I realize that not everyone finds this humorous and I absolutely understand how some people have really enjoyed this book and others not so much. Just like I'll say to Scott, "Oh I love this show, it makes me so happy. Do you love it, too?" He usually just chooses not to respond.

That said, I did not love all of Bossypants. I actually questioned my enjoyment several times during the first hour or so of the audio. I did not want to hear about terrible awkward teenage things like menstruating or making it to first base. I was afraid that this would be like Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman.  I wasn't even terribly interested when Fey discussed her time at Second City though there were certainly many great laugh-out-loud moments. I really clicked with the audio when she moved onto Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock--even though I'm not a big fan of SNL. And I died when she started talking about motherhood, breastfeeding, and being a working mom.

Bottom Line: I've heard a lot of raving and a lot of criticism for this book. Obviously I'm leaning more towards the raving (though I think my raving is more about Tina Fey and 30 Rock thank about the book), but I can see where the criticism comes from. I definitely think this is a book more catered to women. Certainly more catered towards fans of 30 Rock or SNL. There is a bit of language and sex and other tasteless humor but I never felt offended or uncomfortable--though I wouldn't want to listen to this while Grandma is in the car with me. So, I recommend with a bit of hesitancy. Though if you are not a woman, a fan of Tina Fey or 30 Rock, I am doubly interested in your opinion of this one!

A Note on the Audio: Fan-freaking-tastic. I do have a paper copy of the book and I would like to think that I'll read it one day, but having listened to the audio I just can't imagine how Tina's humor translates to the written word. Her tone and asides and inflection are all perfect. This is definitely a laugh out loud kind of book (so take caution if you dare to listen at work).
 
Have you read/listened to this one? What did you think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Day for Silent Visitors to Say Hi


Did you know there is a designated De-Lurking day? Well there is and in typical Trish fashion I missed it. So I’m using today, Valentine’s Day, the day of louuuurve, instead. Mostly because I used my one good Valentine’s Day story last year and have decided I’m not going to talk about Bossypants until Thursday.

A little over two years ago, when I was still at Trish’s Reading Nook, I had a Silent Visitor Unveil day and was really surprised at how many people stepped up and said that they regularly read my blatherings but didn’t comment for one reason or another. This was both flattering and disconcerting to me at the same time. Flattered because I’m always surprised that you continue to come back for more ramblings but disconcerted because I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable or shy about commenting.

I’m of two minds when it comes to commenting. Mostly I love it and wish that I could do more of it. I can typically find something to say after I’ve read a post and I love letting the person know that I read what blogger wrote by leaving a comment. Sadly there is no longer enough time to read and comment on all the blogs and posts that I subscribe to. But in the end, how do we know that anyone is reading if no one tells us. Plus I just love the interaction of talking books with other bookies.

On the other hand, I’ve started subscribing to more and more quilting, crafting, homemaking, and photography blogs. The funny thing about these circles is that they are very similar to the book blogging circles—all the way down to the drama. Even though I read some of these blogs quite regularly and love them as much as many of the book blogs I read, I feel weird commenting. Maybe because I feel like I’m not quite part of the “conversation,” or because I’m not a quilting/crafting/homemaking/photography blogger, or because I think that I’m not really adding anything by leaving my mark. What’s one more comment and why would so and so care when I’m just an inconsequential blip on the blog?

So yes, I get it. I have become a lurker of sorts. Sadly as I blog less and less about books (Bossypants on Thursday guys!!), I also have begun lurking at some of your blogs. Skimming the bookish posts but not having a whole lot to add to the discussion. And as I’ve read personal posts on the blogs that I lurk on and wish that I could comment but feel weird about it, I’ve wondered if some of my readers feel the same. I’m overly open with y’all. I know this. And I talk to you guys as if I’ve known you forever (we are going on five years!). But please feel free to jump right in as if you’ve been here all along! YOU are my audience.

So…without any further ado…

On this day of lovey dovey squishy puppy cupcake pudding, come tell me your favorite dessert!

And I’d love to know your thoughts on commenting and lurking and community in general.

Oh...and Happy Valentine's Day! :)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Salon 59: Bookish Rambles


Good morning, good morning the little birds say! After kind of a bleh week from feeling under the weather and a bleh week on the blog with no new posts and finally having to mark all read in my reader, I decided to stop putting the pressure on for a specific topic post for Sunday Salon and do what I do best...ramble! Mostly because I'm still not quite finished with the shelves.

For those of you curious about my book club's outcome last week--I went into the meeting with 60 pages of Love in the Time of Cholera unread. In this case I didn't mind having the ending spoiled and even though there were a few others who didn't finish the book we had one of the best discussions we've ever had. Who knew that Love in the Time of Cholera could lead to such heated discussion. When I eventually finish the book (because I will), I'll share a bit of what we discussed in book club.

So yes, I am still slowly reading Love in the Time of Cholera. But it doesn't lend itself very well to bedroom reading as it makes me fall asleep, so this week I started Kitchen Counter Cooking School as my "bedside book." I'm reading this with my mom and sisters as our "group read" for this year. I'm about 40 pages in and really enjoying it so far. Eating fresher and outside of the box has been on my mind a lot lately and I'm hoping this book will give me the push I need to put thoughts to practice! Have you read it? Has it changed the way you think about cooking?

On the listening side I'm between books. I started listening to This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper but I'm having a really tough time getting invested in the story. My cousin highly recommended it and I popped on Goodreads and saw that many of you loved it too. I'm wondering if it might be the narrator--just can't seem to get past his tone--apparently this book is supposed to be hilarious but I haven't laughed once.  Normally I don't have a problem abandoning audiobooks, but this one has received so much praise!

I've also been trying to decide on a narrator for Oliver Twist. I'm torn between Simon Vance (whom I know many bloggers adore) and Martin Jarvis. I've listened to clips of both and think that their readings would lead to very different readings of the stories! Have you listened to Oliver Twist? Or any Dickens?

Well, as usual I'm having to cut off my rambles. Ha! What's on YOUR nightstand??

On the Blog:

Looking Back to Last Week
**Ooops.

Looking Forward to Next Week
Yup, still have that Bossypants up my sleeve. Would like to do a love themed week but we'll see how much time I have on hand this week. I feel like I've been spreading myself a bit thin lately and of course the first thing that goes in that case is the blog. But I've got some ideas...

What's on your agenda today? I'm going to be working on a bit of cooking ahead (chicken chili--thanks Lu and shredded chicken and maybe some chicken broth), but hopefully I'll get a few minutes to get through a few more pages of Love. Ha!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Salon 58: Pleasure Cramming for Book Club


Usually I say Good Morning Saloners!! But it's almost afternoon here. I wasn't going to post a Sunday Salon today because I'm not quite finished with my shelf reorg, but I'm spending today doing something that I haven't done in a long time...reading during my "free" time.

Not cleaning (ok maybe a little sweeping/vacuuming), not cooking (except for some peas and chicken for the babe), not watching TV (except the superbowl)...ok fine...In addition to all the other things I'm doing in my "free" time today (including hopefully Zumba and a trip to Sam's for diapers), I'm also reading. Like in my LaZBoy. Like something I rarely allow myself to do anymore because there are so many other things I "should" be doing.



Why? Well, because my work book club (which I'm desperately trying to restart) is meeting on Tuesday and I'm only a little more halfway through Love in the Time of Cholera. So, I'm cramming. And I'll be shocked if I actually finish by Tuesday, but I'm going to try my damnedest.

And you know what? I'm enjoying it!! The language of the book is slow and tedious which means that it is forcing me to really drink everything in that I'm reading. I can't remember the last time I did this! And I kind of miss it!  So though I will be cramming today and tomorrow night, I'll be cramming in pleasure.

Do you ever find yourself speeding through a book only to stop and start savoring instead?


On the Blog:

Looking Back to Last Week
**Last week's Have You Read These Books post left me even more confused!
**Post One of the Read More Poetry Event!
**Flying High Wordless Wednesday
**Weekend Cooking: ZOMG Chocolatey Trifle

On Chickpea Banana
Nothing this week

Looking Forward to Next Week
Bossypants!! Don't have much else planned. If I can get some pictures together than maybe a Things that Make me Ridiculously Happy Post. And I've been meaning to do a vlog for quite some time but just haven't gotten there yet--need to charge my camera battery and get that done.

Off to see how many more pages I can read before Elle wakes up from her nap...

What's going on with you today??

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ZOMG Chocolatey Trifle - Weekend Cooking

I fear that in 11 months you guys are going to be so sick of hearing about my "things to do in 2012." Although maybe that's also my hope...which would mean that I would be still actively conquering my "things to do in 2012." "Things to do in 2012" will henceforth be called "Things." I don't really want to call them goals because they aren't goals. They're just things.


I had a lot of foodie type Things on my list for this year - you already know about the Operation Use My Kitchen Gadgets (which is going splendidly!) and then there is the Thing to make one dessert and one new recipe (besides dessert) a month. Semi-related to the foodie Things is to make something from Pinterest.

Oh Pinterest. How I love you. I can pin all sorts of beautiful ideas and promptly forget about them because they are safely tucked away on my pinboards. But what's the point in pinning things if I'm not going to utilize the ideas?!

So when my mom's birthday came around two weeks ago, I decided that instead of making her a cake like I normally do, I'd make a yummy trifle. Original pin was from Pennies on a Platter but I've since found many similar recipes online.

Seriously guys...it was so amazingly good. And easy.


HOW??

I made a batch of brownies (chunky fudge brownies) and I baked thinly in a 9x13 baking dish. Made chocolate pudding (actually Scott did this step). Unfroze the Whipped Cream. Smashed two heath bars with my meat mallet.

And layer. Brownies (cut into small chunks), pudding, whipped cream, heath bar. Repeat. Chill for a few hours.

All who partook in the trifle raved. I just smiled at how easy the whole process was. Well, that and reached for another scoop.


See the matching smiles of excitement? (nevermind that mom was actually smiling at a surprise skype session with my sister...).

Mmmmmm! Chocolatey.






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!
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