Friday, August 31, 2012

Pinterest Pin It Do It - August Progress

Part of me wants a few more days in August because this month went so dang quickly, but the bigger part of me is glad that tomorrow is September and my calendar is a little less full. I honestly am not sure what happened to the month! But here we are on the 31st and I'm sad to admit that my own challenge was a bit of a bust for me. I did six pins--which is pretty great--but I guess I thought I might get everything accomplished this month. Bahahahaha.  I have told you that I'm currently drafting a post which explains how I do it all, right? Expect it next fall.

So, the point of Pin It and Do It is to do something that you pin on Pinterest. Right now I have 700 pins on various boards. I did six pins and two of them were more or less failures, two more really make one finished product, and another made me sick to my stomach (as in having to pull over into the parking lot of 24 hour fitness to purge), and the last is only partially complete. But I have big plans for the next #PinItDoIt in October. Oh yes, I do. So anyway...

Sorta Flower Pancake. Let's start with the not so great.  The first is Flower Pancakes from Not Martha. Apparently I'm not Not Martha as mine didn't turn out like her pretty flowers. I did these hastily, did not read her directions (had just seen the pictures), and overall could have done better. I make pancakes about once a month (freeze those suckers!), so I'll try again.

Tissue Pom Flowers. Inspired by Design Dazzle which I'm assuming were also inspired by Martha. Total fail, but I'll show you my picture to prove it. I did buy tissue that was slightly smaller than what was required, but I still don't think there was any hope for this project. Good news is it makes Elle laugh. Bad news is it will eventually end up in the trash. And yes, it doesn't look like it but I did use the amount of tissue recommended.

Almond Butter and Honey Steel Cut Oats - Crockpot Waterbath. From Food 52. So, basically I cooked these steel cut oats in the below measuring cup in my crockpot. They turned out beautifully and the flavor and consistency were perfect. Nice and creamy with just a hint of sweetness. I would definitely make these again...except something about them made me sick to my stomach. (see note above about 24 hour fitness parking lot where I literally had to yell at a concerned passerby "morning sickness" even though I assure you that's a falsehood. I couldn't make this up). I'm going to blame the almond butter or maybe the fact that these were so yummy that I over-ate. Because they really were so easy and so delicious.

Fabric Yo-Yo. I was inspired by Kojo Designs to make yo-yo hair pins but used a tutorial by Heather Bailey to create the yo-yos. These were so simple to make and I have some scrap fabric that isn't really quilt quality that would be perfect for little hair barrettes. Although I can't imagine making an entire quilt out of yo-yos, I'll definitely make these again. I used a CD to trace the original circle and these are about two inches big.

Yo-Yo Hair Pin. From Kojo Designs. I didn't find any bobby pins at JoAnn and I'm not sure they would have stuck in Elle's hair anyway, so for these I bought little clips and wrapped them in ribbon (lots of glue used) and then stuck on the yo-yo with a gemstone in the middle. Not bad huh?

Bows. Tutorial from Save-On-Crafts. These I probably spent the most time on as it took me for freaking ever to figure out how to make the bows. Think my downfall was using ribbon that had a front and a back. Elle has some letters above her bed (ELLE) and right now there's just the screw holding up the letters on a simple ribbon. I'm still not sure if these are finished--I've debated adding pink since her room is green and pink--but now that she's 16 months I need to just be done with the nursery.

So, overall not a bad run with Pinterest in August but it doesn't feel terribly productive. I wanted to do some sewing but I'm having troubles with my machine and don't want spend the time driving it to the shop (40 minutes away). I wanted to do some cooking/baking but all of the recipes seemed so complicated and involved. I wanted to do some photography but time slipped away. Although I did get two very cute hair bows out of the month, so I guess that's that.

Have you created anything from Pinterest this month? Want to share any winners? And if you participated in Pin It Do It, head over and link up today. I've promised one more round in October so watch out for that!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Poetry Project - Conrad Aiken's Morning Song

Poetry. Oh you elusive piece of art that seems to constantly slip through my fingers. I had such grand intentions of reading a Pulitzer Prize winner from each decade. I pulled out my gigantic Norton anthology of poetry and started flagging the pages. I made it through Conrad Aiken in the 1930s before I got pulled in another direction and never came back to it.

I'm not flaking out. Not this month. But the problem is now that I've read these poems, what do I do? I don't really know how to talk about them. I can point out phrases that I liked but I'm not really sure I understand the poems at all. I'm not going to lie—it's frustrating to spend so much time reading and re-reading a poem and in the end not entirely be able to make sense out of it.

Lu wrote a wonderful post a few weeks ago about how to love a poem and I'm going to let her guide me. Her first bit of advice is to love a poem for one line that stops your heart. She goes on: “The best way to fall in love with a poem is to forget what you know about poetry. Just feel it. Hear it. Taste it. Then remember everything you know about poetry. Fall in love all over again.”

After reading "Morning Song" (from Senlin) by Conrad Aiken, I had my line--"when the light drips through the shutters like the dew..." And other lines of imagery that I really loved as well. In small ways "Morning Song" reminded me of one of my favorite poems, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by TS Eliot and after a little poking around I learned that Aiken and Eliot often ran in the same circles.I also learned that Aiken's father shot his mother and then himself when Aiken was only eleven. And that Aiken was never truly appreciated during his own time and has always seemed to live behind the shadows of the other great Modernist poets. And that Aiken wanted to compose poetry similar to symphonies.

But this poem, "Morning Song," caught my eye and I've read it a dozen times and listened to it a few (see video below, which isn't the greatest but I think it's always nice to hear poems spoken). And while I can't completely understand this poem and know that it is only a small part of a much larger poem, the imagery in the poem continues to stick in my ribs--

There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea...
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me....


Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die


And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk,
Their shoulders black with rains....

In "Morning Song" Aiken juxtaposes the extraordinary and wondrous with the ordinary--a man standing in front of the mirror in the morning tying his tie. And I'm not sure ultimately what the point of the poem is, but the next time I face myself in the mirror in the morning I wonder if I'll be more cognizant of the cosmos around me.

Or something. So go--read Lu's post about How to Love a Poem (because it's one of the best posts I've read in a long time) and then seek out a poem to love.

Is there a poem you really love? What is it about the poem that has stuck with you?

I know that I can't help but smile when I hear a reference to Prufrock..."Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky..."

To participate in the Poetry Project for August (theme is Pulitzer Prize Winners), visit Lu's linky post.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On Commenting

I've agonized over writing this post for several months but push has finally come to shove and I need to eliminate a bit of "to-do" from my list. I really really really want overanalyze the issue, like I so love to do, but in short I'm no longer going to respond to comments here on the blog. If I have an email address for you I'll try to respond that way. Many of you have said that you don't mind my emailing you a response; if you are a "no-reply blogger" and you'd like an email response to your comment, just let me know your email address. (You are a "no-reply blogger" when you do not have an email address linked to your Blogger profile--Janssen has a great tutorial on how to fix this)

This will be a huge change for me as responding to comments (or at least trying to) has been a big part of my blogging over the past five years. Ultimately, though, it's becoming tougher and tougher for me to find the time to respond and I fear that most of the times my responses are never seen anyway. This is time I could be spending responding to your posts or writing new posts. It'll be an adjustment but hopefully it won't affect the way that you comment (Ok, I can analyze a little right?).

I'll make one exception to the rule. If there is a comment that requires a response that would also benefit others, I will respond in the comments.

Thank you for understanding—I know that you do. And yes, I do realize how neurotic I can be. Smile.

Alright--now that my life will be super stress-free, bring it on!  Just kidding...but don't forget about Pin It and Do It!! Just a few more days to leave your links.

Monday, August 27, 2012

North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

Title: North and South
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Published: 1855; Pages: 480
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Audio Duration: 18 hr, 18 min
Genre: Fiction, Classic
Rating: 4/5

I apologize up front about the rambling nature of this post.

In Short: Margaret, a young woman used to her comfortable life in the south, moves to the industrial northern town of Milton when her father suddenly leaves his post as parson. Margaret finds many surprises in Milton as the way of life is much different than that which she knew in Hampshire, but the biggest surprise is her new friendship with Mr. Thornton.

Why I read/listened: I read North and South as part of a Readalong hosted by Andi and Heather. I've wanted to read something by Gaskell for a while so this was the perfect reasoning. I listened because I knew I wouldn't be able to read the entire book in a month.

Thoughts in General: I love the idea of classic books but sometimes they're a struggle to read. There, I've said it. The language is oftentimes difficult and the authors have such a round about way of stating things that if I'm not careful I'll miss the entire meaning of a passage. I have to work hard at transporting myself a hundred and fifty years in the past in order to relate to the ideals and behaviors of the characters and mostly I wish that the characters would just defy their times and get on with it!

That said, I found North and South to be surprisingly readable! There were lots of conversations, which was a nice change of pace from some of the other classics I've read, and the characters were a lot easier to relate to. Still the normal shenanigans of mistaken identities and misunderstandings and misleadings--lots of dramatic irony (yay for tropes learned in high school) which at times made me want to scream at the characters but honestly made the reading much more exciting.

One thing I really appreciated about North and South was the different perspective provided of life in the 1850s. Most of the readings I have done take place in provincial communities or in the heart of London; the northern locale and the political and industrial tension provided a refreshing backdrop for this romance. I loved the discussions of the differences between the northerners and southerners and Margaret's earnest desire to drop some of her prejudices. More than many of the other Victorian novels I've read, I felt like North and South really translates to modern times (at least the political, industrial notes).

My Readalong Contribution (ie spoilers ahead): Ok, seriously? Did anyone else find the ending to be incredibly abrupt? I feel as though I must have missed something incredibly big because all of a sudden Margaret is confessing her lie to Mr. Bell and feeling so badly for the misunderstanding with Mr. Thornton--was this all because she didn't want Mr. T to think that she was dallying with another man? Her change of heart towards him seemed too out of the blue for me and if I have one complaint about the book it's that there wasn't enough about Margaret's love development and definitely definitely not enough of the union--though that's the way it usually goes with these, huh?

Bottom Line: Definitely recommend this one. While it's not Wuthering Heights (bahahaha), it is rather like Pride and Prejudice but with a lot more class and culture study. The characters are colorful and the writing is very accessible. There is a bit of dialect which normally drives me batty but this problem was solved by listening to those parts. I noted this in the spoiler section above, but my biggest complaint is not enough love interest. Wishing these Victorian novelists weren't such teases--I guess the draw is reading about the love tension but couldn't we have just a little bit more...?

A Note on the Audio: Juliet Stevenson is the perfect choice of narrator for North and South. Her voice is buttery and rich but she does an excellent job handling the different accents and multiple characters. Her inflection for Margaret was soft and delicate, which felt suitable, however her inflection for Thornton was a bit rough and it was hard for me to reconcile with my feelings for him. Not going to lie, though--there were times when Stevenson almost lulled me to sleep with her slow and rhythmic narration. Overall I recommend.

Whew. Have you read any of Gaskell's novels?

North & South Readalong hosted by Andi and Heather.

First selection for The Classics Club. Which means I'm 2% done!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Library Browsing My Way! (#wwread)

Don't forget that this is the last week for Where in the World Are You Reading!!  We would love to see your local library (or a library you love) so hop on over to Kelly's blog to leave your link. I think the deadline is next Wednesday so that she can do a wrap-up for next Thursday.  September's theme is "Waiting Room Reading" so put on your thinking caps. I may have already snapped a picture as I was waiting in my dentist office earlier this week. ;)

Earlier this month I showed you my hometown library but I also wanted to show you how I normally browse my library. At home. On the computer. You should be able to enlarge the screenshots below but my library has a wonderful online selection of audiobooks and recently they've started adding ebooks as well (for Kindle). SO convenient. I have learned that my physical library does have a better selection of audiodiscs, but...  

Are you able to check out books from your library? It's definitely worth checking out! (dare I mention no pun intended).

Speaking of waiting rooms, send your positive thoughts our way today. Elle is undergoing an eye procedure to help correct her strabismus (procedure = surgery). The surgery is routine and she'll be fine but I have a feeling I'll be leaning on some shoulders to get through.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bucket List - Or 60 Before 60

A bucket list is a list of items you'd like to do before you kick the bucket. Nice, huh? :)

I don't remember when I started making a bucket list but I'm pretty sure I was on a roadtrip with Scott. If I think really hard I imagine that we were on our grand Sturgis/Yellowstone trip, but I'm not positive. Either way, I do all my best scheming on the road.

I've slowly added items here and there and as I was trying to get to 50 my brother-in-law tipped me over so now I'm at 60. And since I'm just halfway of my life to 60, why not try to do these things before 60. Actually I don't have a timeframe and I don't have a bucket list limit either--60 was just a nice round number to make this a shareable post.

Trish's Bucket List

1. White water rafting in West Virginia
2. RAGBRAI (that thing where you ride a bike across stepsister was doing this when I put it on my list)
3. Visit all seven continents
4. Run a half marathon
5. SCUBA at Great Barrier Reef
6. Bungee Jump off Sidney Bridge
7. See an Opera in Vienna
8. Finish a triathlon
9. Free-motion quilt
10. Visit all 50 states
11. Ride motorcycle from coast to coast
12. Drive Alaskan Hwy
13. Sail between islands in Caribbean
14. Catch a fish and eat it
15. Make a Dear Jane Quilt
16. Hike Machu Pichu
17. Camp in Havasupai
18. RV across the US (RV=Motorhome)
19. Visit Scandinavia
20. Ride in a hot air balloon
21. Helicopter over Hawaiian Volcano
22. Walk on the Great Wall of China
23. See Victoria Falls
24. African Safari
25. Ride a camel in Egypt
26. Knit a sweater
27. Make rolls from scratch
28. Houseboat on Lake Powell
29. Riverboat on Mississippi
30. Hang glide
31. Take a photography class
32. Swim with the dolphins
33. See the Northern Lights
34. Teach an aerobics class
35. Live Abroad for one year
36. Sunrise at Haleakala (no, I would never add this as I was in the act of driving......)
37. Attend an Olympic event
38. Surf
39. Transatlantic cruise
40. Backpack camping overnight
41. Play Chopin on piano
42. Sew something someone can wear
43. Read a book in another language
44. Hike Appalachian Trail
45. Segway tour
46. Go on a pub crawl
47. kiss the blarney stone
48. flash mob
49. Mud run
50. Take picture with someone famous
51. Speak in front of a crowd
52. Movie extra
53. Transcanadian train
54. Ski the alps
55. Sky Dive
56. Stonehenge
57. Iguazu falls
58. Go to Billy the Kid museum
59. Visit all four grandparents birth cities
60. Build something useful

When making the bucket list we (Scott and I) decided that I was not allowed to put items on the list that I'd already done--like Backpack Europe, see Old Faithful, or read Brothers Karamazov. But I'd say it's a pretty adventuresome list, wouldn't you? And apparently there's a whole website devoted to Bucket Lists!

Do you have a bucket list--either on paper or on a mental tab? Do we share anything in common? What's something you have on your list that I don't have on mine?

Better get busy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Readalongs! Sunday Salon 70

It's Sunday, It's Sunday, a lovely golden Sunday. Ok, I'm typing this on Saturday and I have not had near enough coffee yet for me to even handle me. :)

It's no secret that I adore readalongs. This all started way back when I was having a tough time with blogging and a tough time with reading and just a tough time with life. Ms. Fizzy Jill hosted a readalong of Wuthering Heights and I brushed the dust off of my blogging shoulders and jumped right in. Since then Jill has more or less become a partner (or leader) in crime in terms of readalongs--some good, some bad, some worse (ahem, Brothers K, ahem).

These days about 75% of my reading is made up of readalongs or book club books. Ok, if I'm honest I'll bump that percentage up to about 90%. But there's something fun about reading the same book with others and discussing the contents. Of course it's still fun to read a book I really enjoy, post my thoughts here, and then hope that someone will interact but it's never quite the same as when it's a community effort.

Maybe that's what it is--community? Or insanity. I'm not sure.

So what kind of nonsense have I gotten myself into lately?

IT-ALONG: Jill and Christina tried to offer me up as the sacrificial lamb hostess for IT, but we've since decided these two loons are much more suited to the task than sweet little Trish (Christina is here). Anyway, we're reading IT (yes, by Stephen King) starting now through October 14th so go sign up for the...IT-along!

NORTH & SOUTH Readalong: Andi and Heather are hosting a readalong of NOrth and South through the rest of the month. I'm halfway through the book (mostly listening) but haven't had a chance to speak my thoughts yet. Definitely not too late to join!

STEPHEN KING Project: And because I've already read one Stephen King and will read another (It), why not join the Stephen King Project hosted by Natalie and Kathleen. Trust me, I would have never guessed I'd be signing up either. Not sure if I'll do anything after IT--maybe just short stories or a novella?

In October Ms. Fizzy Jill and I have something up our sleeves, TBA and after that I think I might need a big break, but Melissa (Avid Reader) and I have already discussed Vanity Fair and many suggestions came up in the comments of my Classics Club post from last week.

Whew! And this doesn't include the two book clubs that I participate in monthly. Double Whew!

Are you a readalonger or do you prefer to go it solo?

What's on your agenda today? Scott and I have been tearing the house apart trying to get rid of some of the build up. It means that my lovely colored to-do list you might have seen on twitter is not getting many things checked off. But I keep thinking that life will be so much smoother without the clutter? Wishful thinking, I'm sure.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mom 100 Cookbook - Katie Workman

[All photos in this post were taken by me]

Title: The Mom 100 Cookbook
Author: Katie Workman
Published: 2012; Pages 333
Publisher: Workman
Genre: All Around Cookbook

Lately I've been doing a lot of cookbook reading—reading through recipes is a task my brain seems to be able to handle these days. Five minutes here and there without a plot to remember or characters to keep up with. I've even taken cookbooks to bed with me!  I have several cookbooks that I enjoy browsing through but none that I love quite like I do The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman.

I first learned of Mom 100 from Beth Fish when she nudged me in the book's direction for a springform recipe when I was doing my monthly challenge. When I was at Target a few days later I saw the book on the shelf and picked it up to browse through it. I went through this whole "I don't need another cookbook, oooh but it's so pretty" song and dance and finally happily walked away with it in my cart. Yes—full disclosure that I bought Mom 100.

The premise of Mom 100 is simple—Workman takes 20 different scenarios (she calls them dilemmas) and provides five solutions along with multiple "fork in the road" suggestions along with the solutions. For example Breakfast, Appetizers, Potluck, Simple Weekend Desserts.  The recipes in the book are not complicated and some of them are quite common and are things you probably already do without a recipe (popcorn?!) but the way that each recipe is presented provides so many additional avenues and ideas that make the tired or boring recipe brand new and exciting.

Simplest Shrimp Kabobs...basically with what we already had on hand:

Ok---if I haven't already praised enough here's the technical. Colored pictures on every page—droolworthy gorgeous pictures. The recipes all have variations clearly outlined for picky eaters.  There is lots of room for vegetarian eaters though there are clearly defined sections for meats. Tips and hints and other tidbits. And just overall awesomeness.  At the rate I'm going it will take me a while to fully digest everything in this book, but I certainly hope this won't be the last for Katie Workman. Everything that we've cooked (marinated shrimp, granola, soy-ginger flank steak, roasted veggies) has been delicious and wholesome. Perhaps a little heavier than a light eater would prefer but the "forks in the road" provide lots of deviations to work around different diets.

And tell me this granola doesn't look divine:

What I love most about Mom 100? Ok, this is a tough question because I seriously love this cookbook so much that I want to hug it until every ounce of goodness is squeezed out. But what I love most is Workman's honest and down to earth asides. Her recipes are realistic and easy and she's very forgiving and open. There is a lot of pressure for clean eating and getting out of the box and I have been trying very hard to do this over the past year, but sometimes I feel so beat down by trying to eat real. It's not hard but it's definitely not always easier. I love her note: "I figure if most of the stuff they eat is not overly processed and is pretty healthy, then it will do more harm than good to be overly militant about the occasional hot dog. Plus, my kids might snap and beat me with a Twizzler while I sleep."

Serious goodness. Is there a cookbook you absolutely adore?

The Mom 100 Cookbook on Amazon
The Mom 100 Cookbook on Indiebound

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, August 16, 2012

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

Title: Wild
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Published: 2012;  Pages: 331
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5

In Short: After the heartbreaking loss of her mother, twenty-something Cheryl sells/stores all of her worldly possessions and sets off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Southern California to the Oregon border.

Why I read it: Book club at A Real Bookstore. I wasn’t at the meeting when the book was picked and hadn’t heard anything about it before starting it.

Thoughts in General: I’ll be upfront that I’m a bit on the defensive about this book (see more under “Bottom Line”). I’m a sucker for memoirs, so I found myself quickly absorbed into Strayed’s heartache and grieving and then her healing and growth. Strayed writes with an honest and candid voice, but the writing isn’t necessarily as straight forward as one might find in some memoirs—it is lyrical and descriptive. I was always hungry for more of the writing and couldn’t wait to get back to the book after putting it down.

In Wild Strayed moves back and forth between past and present as she grapples with the choices she has made and where she wants to go with her future. At times I was bothered by some of the decisions that Strayed makes—both on the trail and before the trail—heroin addition, promiscuity, and other means of self-destruction, but I tried to keep in mind that Strayed is so young and ultimately learning from her past and mistakes. The others in my book group did not see this and often even wondered at the validity of the entire book—like another Million Little Pieces. I’d be so devastated if I found out there was anything less than truthful about Wild as I cheered Strayed on every step of the way.

But besides the memoir, finding oneself, love and hugs, blah blah, I loved the outdoorsy hiking kickass part of Wild. Yes Strayed complained about her toenails a lot and was wildly unprepared for her journey (remember that she’s young?), but to hike a thousand miles and so much of it alone simply amazed me. I feared for her and rallied for her, I cheered her on, and wanted to cry when she cried. I felt like I was on the journey with her and it made me want to take a journey as well. I can’t imagine the courage that Strayed had embarking on this journey. This alone was worth the read for me.

Sample of the writing:
“I took one step and then another, moving along at barely more than a crawl. I hadn’t thought that hiking the PCT would be easy. I’d known it would take some getting adjusted. But now that I was out here, I was less sure I would adjust. Hiking the PCT was different than I’d imagined. I was different than I imagined. I couldn’t even remember what it was I’d imagined six months ago, back in December, when I’d first decided to do this” (51). 
“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. The radical aloneness of the PCT had altered that sense. Alone wasn’t a room anymore, but the whole wide world, and now I was alone in that work, occupying it in a way I never had before. Living at large like this, without even a roof over my head, made the world feel both bigger and smaller to me. Until now, I hadn’t truly understood the world’s vastness—hadn’t even understood how vast a mile could be—until each mile was beheld at walking speed” (119).
Bottom Line: I read Wild before the hype—both positive and negative—so I read with an absolutely clean slate. I admit that I was shocked when I met with my book club and they all disliked the book and felt that Strayed was using a platform to whine. I’ve still been recommending this book but it feels as though the negative is outweighing the positive and I’ve become a bit leery. Bottom Bottom Line—I enjoyed it and hope that you do as well.

Have you read this one? Are you planning to? Also curious of your thoughts on Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl in the movie. To me it changes the whole dynamics but that's possibly another post for another day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Estella Society Launches TODAY!

Just a quick note to direct you over to The Estella Society which launches today. The Estella Society is "a reading playground built by book bloggers, for book bloggers." You'll find old friends as well as new friends over there so make sure to add them to your RSS Feeds for a bookishly good time.

Props to Andi and Heather on getting the fun rolling.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Elle Right Now. Fifteen and a half.

Elle Right now. At fifteen and a half months.

Says “ease” for please and taps her hand on her chest or says “momo” for more and does the ASL gesture.

Brings me Barnyard Dance because it's her favorite but still has troubles sitting through an entire reading.

Is fascinated by the water going down the drain after her bath.

Loves to hold and chew her own (separate) toothbrush while I brush her teeth at night.

Thinks the horse sound is the funniest.

Is thrilled by hide and seek though I’m so fearful she’s going to slam her fingers in the jamb while hiding behind doors.

Makes me work for every single smile, little stinker.

But is also so ticklish and gets the biggest grin when I come at her with the tickle fingers.

Prefers fruit and cheese and sometimes pasta but rarely meat.

Goes to bed easily at 7:45 even if we are giggling madly before I put her in her crib.

Still becomes inexplicably calm when I sing Hallelujah. Which inexplicably makes me cry every time.

Always looks to me before doing something mischievous to gage my reaction. Like dropping food on the floor during dinner.

Will wear bows until upset or eating something and then her little fingers finds the offending bow and pulls it out.

Is off the bottle. Can’t believe we waited until 14 months!

Loves to give kisses to her stuffed animals and Lexi dog but won’t give any to mommy!

Sings “row row” part of Row Row Row your Boat and “sings” along to other songs I sing.

Knocks over blocks as fast as I can get them stacked up.

Climbs on EVERYTHING. Up and down the stairs. Up and down the chairs/sofas. Down the bed. On the Dog. Up my feet.

Will usually go back to sleep when she wakes up in the mornings except when she drops her blankie over the crib (growls mommy).

One minute prefers mommy and the very next daddy and then right back to mommy and then….on and on.

Is feisty and the first to let you know when she disagrees but also the best sport.

Knows the word "no." Sounds like Nahw nahw nawh nawh nawh.

Has discovered temper tantrums and will throw herself on the ground when she doesn’t get what she wants. It’s pitiful and frustrating. But also sometimes hard not to laugh.

Loves other kids. Loves. But sometimes takes a while to warm up to adults. But rarely discriminates or fusses when passed to a stranger.

Is just as curious as she’s ever been—she doesn’t miss a single beat.

Constantly talks to herself. I’m sure her stories are very interesting but I can’t understand a word of the babble. Ha! She does say a few words but chooses not to say them often. I think she’s waiting until she can talk intelligibly in full sentences.

Has 12 teeth and a few more are threatening to come in.

Is my little chickpea banana who is growing entirely too quickly. I'm not sure when Elle stopped being my baby and started being my little girl.

I really can't stand it.

Hopefully not another 4 months before I write up another update.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joining The Classics Club - Sunday Salon 69

March y’all. March is when I saw Jillian’s tweet about The Classics Club and I emailed that tweet to myself. It took five months for me to make a damn list so that I could join The Classics Club. Don’t know what The Classics Club is? Let me bring you quickly up to speed so that you can join the fun in less than five months. The Classics Club is the brain child Jillian and has since morphed into a collaborative effort with a dedicated blog. If you’re not already part of the Classics Club—go check it out. Lots of fun things going on over there.

Basically the way you join the Classics Club is to commit to reading at least 50 classics in the next five years. The math boils down to 10 books off your list a year—easy cheesy, right? (don’t tell them that my classics and overall reading average has been a little less than stellar the past two years, k?). But we'll say my finish date will be 9/1/2017.

Without further ado…my Classics Club list! 
Which is subject to change per my whimsy.

1. Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
2. The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
3. Vanity Fair – William Thackery
4. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
5. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
7. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
10. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
11. Persuasion – Jane Austen
12. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
13. Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
14. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
15. Dracula – Bram Stoker
16. Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
17. Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
18. Bleak House– Charles Dickens
19. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
20. WB Yeats collected poems – WB Yeats
21. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
22. Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
23. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
24. White Fang – Jack London
25. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
26. The Tempest – William Shakespeare
27. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
28. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
29. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
30. Jane Eyre (re-read) – Charlotte Bronte
31. A Light in August – William Faulkner
32. Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
33. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
34. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
35. The Monk – Matthew Gregory Lewis
36. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
37. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
38. Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers
39. The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
40. Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne du Maurier
41. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
42. Call of the Wild – Jack London
43. A Man for All Seasons – Robert Bolt
44. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
45. Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
46. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
47. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
48. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
49. The Romance of the Forest – Ann Radcliffe
50. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Now, which if these do you want to readalong with me? (insert mischievous smile)

How's your Sunday shaping up? We're heading to Fort Worth this morning to the Botanic Gardens before the sweltering heat hits and then some light birthday celebrations by the pool with lots of ice cream. Yay!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 Things in My Freezer

About six months ago I wrote about wanting to start making freezer meals. You all provided me with wonderful tips on how you keep your own freezer stocked as well as provided some cookbook suggestions for make-ahead meals. Six months later I still have so much to learn, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

I’m always asking what people make ahead and keep in their freezer so I thought I’d share 10 things that I typically have in my freezer.

1. Waffles/Pancakes - These are so great for the weekdays--just pop one or two in the microwave for 30 seconds and you're ready to rock and roll.

2. Spaghetti Sauce - This has become an absolute favorite in our house. I make a huge batch of Betty Crocker's Meat Sauce and freezer in Ball Pint and a Half Jars (picture upper left)

3. Shredded Chicken - I keep these in several different portion sizes--small baggies within bigger baggies for lunches, bigger portions for casseroles, portions for soups or other quick meals.

4. Chicken Stock - I save in one and two cup sizes. I also have a baggie for chicken bones and odd ends of veggies to make more stock in the future.

5. Meatballs - Alton Brown to the rescue! Bake the meatballs in cupcake papers and then freeze on a cookie sheet until solid and then toss into a large freezer bag.

6. Stew/Soup - Any kind! We've had great luck with everything we've tried but if the recipe calls for pasta we only add when the soup is reheated otherwise it turns to mush. Potatoes are hit or miss but if initially undercooked they're fine when reheated. Put in freezer bags and freeze flat to stack (picture lower right)

7. Shredded Cheese - We go through a lot of cheese. Buy the big blocks, run through a food processor, and bag up in two cup serving sizes.

8. Baby Food/Snacks - Upper right picture is orzo with carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and a touch of cheese. Elle loves it and I don't mind nibbling off it either.

9. Meats (variety of raw cuts) - Take the time to portion out the meats and take out as much air as possible. A vacuum-sealer is great for this. Chicken, pork chops, hamburger, pork tenderloin, turkey breast, steak--we may eat a lot of meat at our house...

10. Fruits/Vegetables (either bought frozen or flash frozen from fresh) - Bottom middle picture--I had half a dozen peaches that were about to overripe before I could eat them so I cut them up and froze on a baking sheet until solid and put in baggie. Great snacking and they don't seem to be as mushy when thawed as fruit bought frozen. We do buy a lot of frozen veggies. From all that I've read they're just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Peas and Corn are our favorites and so easy to toss into stews, rice, and other dishes.

Other random things that I keep in my freezer include tablespoon measurements of tomato paste from the can (put into ice cube trays until frozen and then bag up), a pastry crust, jars of chicken pot pie filling, homemade frozen dinners (right now stuffed chicken and manicotti), bananas that were too ripe to eat.

And then there are things that I want to try to freeze: beans (as in dried beans), pie crusts, more frozen dinners, cookie dough, small portions of wine for cooking, milk?!

You told me that freezing food would be addicting and it is. We have a spare freezer in the garage and are thinking about getting a chest freezer in addition. There's just something great about having nothing planned for dinner and being able to pull something out that you've already made. With big batches of soup I've also been portioning single servings to take to work. Though we still have a long way to go!!

What do you love to keep in your freezer? What freezer tips do you have to share?

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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