"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Saturday, September 29, 2007

MENSA


Since my husband is currently watching an episode of The Simpsons when Lisa joins MENSA, it reminded me of one of my favorite card games. B's sister introduced it to us last Thanksgiving. It takes awhile to get it, but it's super fun. Someone should buy it for me for Christmas (**hint hint**).

When we were all together for B's little brother's wedding in July, his sister pulled the game out and we tried to teach it to one of the little brother's friends. We kept telling him it was really hard at first but once he got it, it be easier and he'd like it. He totally got it. Right off. So we felt dumb for not getting it at first ourselves. He was probably more MENSA material than we were.

My New Shoes


These are my new shoes. I bought them NWT on ebay. I read a review about them on a shoe store website and everyone talked about how many compliments they got when wearing them. I just have to say that it's totally true. It's sort of fun to have exciting new shoes that everyone notices.

I got these shoes because with my two prior pregnancies, my babies were due in August and then April. So I just wore flip flops towards the end when I could no longer bend over to tie my shoes. This baby is due in January. Not to mention that I no longer live in California, but in Kansas. My mother just informed me the other day that the average temperature in Kansas in January is 20 degrees. Obviously flip flops aren't going to cut it. So this is my alternate. I'm not sure how warm they'll keep my feet, but definitely warmer than a sandal.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pretty Princess Sparkley


We were at my brother-in-law's farm a couple of weekends ago and got to play with their new puppies. (Oddly, this didn't sway my kids from wanting fish. It wasn't until a pet store with kittens last weekend that they tried to tell me that when our fish (that we still haven't purchased) die, then we'll get a kitten. Hmmm.) Anyways, I thought the lighting in this picture was perfect. So here's my five year old Princess Sparkley.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Soup Season


I started being obsessed with soup last winter. I kept trying to drag soup season out, wanting to convince myself that it was still cold enough to be serving soup to my family. But eventually spring warmed up and summer approached and I had to admit that soup season was over.

But now it's back, almost. I bought all of the stuff to make my favorite soup about a week and a half ago, but then it warmed back up and I couldn't serve it to my husband who just rode a bike home for 30 minutes in 80 degree weather. But today, today I woke up to thunder and lightening. And even though it stopped raining early on, it never got above 60 degrees. A bit of a stretch, but we had soup for dinner, nonetheless. Mmmm... I wonder how many nights in a row I can serve my husband soup for dinner without him complaining. And how many alternate dinners I can create to feed my kids since for the most part, they won't eat soup.

Here's one of my favorite recipes:

El Pinto Green Salsa Chicken Enchilada Soup

Ingredients:
3/4 of a 3 lb. bag of chicken tenderloins
Lawry Seasoning Salt
celery salt
chili powder
garlic salt
pepper
2 jars El Pinto mild green chili salsa
1 bag frozen white corn
3 cans chicken broth (plus all the drippings from the cookie sheet)
2 cans white beans - drained
2 cans black beans - drained
2 - 8 oz. cream cheese - cubed
cheese
sour cream
tortillas or tortilla chips

Directions:
Put chicken on foil covered cookie sheet and season with the five spices. Bake for 1 hour at 350. Save drippings from pan.

In a pot, add 2 jars salsa, corn, chicken broth, chicken drippings, chopped/shredded chicken, white beans, black beans, cream cheese. Warm soup and serve with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips. (I like to tear of tortillas and add them for the last few minutes of cooking as well.)

Memory Clicks

You know how a taste or a smell can instantly transport you back to a different place and time in your memory. It's just like click, and you are remembering something you haven't thought of forever.

I just poured myself a glass of orange juice and the first sip instantly took me back to my freshman year of college when one of the main things I lived off of was orange juice and ham and cheese sandwiches. I lived in the dorms, but the ones that were set up like apartments so six of us shared a kitchen. I had a friend that assured me that drinking orange juice kept colds away, not to mention that for the first time in my life I was aware that pulp free orange juice was available. Who could have imagined? It was like a dream come true.


Other things I lived off of that first year of college:

spaghetti
bean and cheese burritos (with "stolen" packets of Taco Bell mild sauce)
bowls of cereal
quesadillas
bagels
sparkling yogurt

It's a wonder I was healthy at all. I'm sure I rarely ate vegetables or meat.

What did you live off of the first year you were on your own?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dessert Contest


My dessert (above - it sort of looks like this) didn't win the dessert contest at my church dinner last night. So sad.

I was going to make this (see photo and recipe below), but couldn't find raspberries at the store in the limited amount of time I had before my husband, my son and my car left on a father/son camp out. So instead I made my daughter's favorite (see the link above for "dessert" as I've posted its recipe before).

Sadder even, it lost to two desserts. One was a cookie dough cheesecake. I'll forgive that dessert for beating mine. The other involved cherries. I can't believe a dessert involving cherries won anything. Yuck.

But seriously, the Tuxedo Brownie Squares recipe is probably one of the yummiest recipes ever. There's even a Tuxedo Brownie Cup version with strawberries. Mmmmm.


Tuxedo Brownie Squares

the Pampered Chef

Ingredients:

1 package (21 oz.) brownie mix (plus what you need to make the brownies)

½ cup seedless raspberry jam

2 cups fresh raspberries, or frozen whole raspberries without syrup (or

sliced strawberries), thawed and drained, Divided

3 squares (1 oz. each) white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup milk

1 container (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed

Chocolate curls (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray bottom of 9x13 pan with spray. Prepare and bake brownie mix according to package directions. Cool completely.

Spread jam on brownies. Reserve ½ cup of raspberries for garnish; arrange the remaining 1 ½ cups raspberries evenly over jam.

Microwave chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds, or until smooth. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; mix well. Gradually whisk in melted chocolate and milk. Fold in whipped topping; spread carefully over raspberries.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Cut into squares. Garnish with the reserved raspberries and chocolate curls. Store, covered in the refrigerator.

Yield: 15 servings

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Carver Salad

This is a yummy salad recipe from both my brother-in-law and a woman in my growing up ward... both excellent cooks.

Carver Salad

Ingredients:
mix greens
2 chopped red apples
Craisins
Sliced Almonds (the toasty salad topping ones are best)

Dressing:
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
6 Tbsp. Mayo or Miracle Whip
2/3 cup oil

Put mix greens, chopped apples, Craisins and sliced almonds in a large bowl.

Dressing:
Mix the honey and vinegar together in a microwavable container and microwave for 15 seconds or until honey dissolves – cool. Add the mustard and mayo. Blend well with whisk. Add oil and whisk well. Refrigerate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and whisk. Pour over salad just before serving and mix well.

*I also have stove top directions, but my bro-in-law's easier microwave directions work just as well... and are a bit easier.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Good Book

So I was sitting at the drive up bank tube drop thingy yesterday. You know, the kind they don't have in California, so I've always been super intrigued by them everywhere else I've lived. Is it a cold weather thing? Anyways, so I'm sitting there waiting for my transaction to be processed, smiling to the little camera ever so often when the bank clerk comes on the screen and mumbles something to me, when a guy walks in front of me on the sidewalk reading a book. And I manuevered around in my car trying to see what the cover of the book he was reading. I wanted to know what he was reading that was so good that he was reading it while walking down the street. I couldn't see the cover, at least not enough to read the title, and I didn't recognize it. And that was so disappointing to me since I'm in the search for a good book to read. But then I realized I was only about three blocks north of campus. Meaning that he could totally have been reading for a class, or cramming before a test and maybe it wasn't a good book at all and that's why he'd put it off until the last minute. Maybe he just had a lot of reading. I can remember a semester at BYU when I was in a Young Adult Literature class with Dr. Crowe and we had like 30+ Young Adult novels to read. I walked around campus that semester reading. Not necessarily because it was a great book (some were, some weren't), but because I had so much reading to do that I couldn't waste time like walking to class to not be reading. So I guess I'm glad I couldn't see what the cover of this walking reader's book said. Maybe it would have been a totally crap book and I would have been disappointed. I guess I'll never know.

The Juice

Seriously, I have to stop watching the news. I was just watching the report on O.J. Simpson making bail and flying home to Florida. WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND! If all of America is pretty sure you killed you ex-wife, how do you get a girlfriend. Who dates you? I mean, seriously, he doesn't have money any more. His fame is of the notorious type. AND HE KILLED HIS EX-WIFE. Who lines up to be next? WHO?

Plus I just watched more (please let me poke my eyes out) and the reason The Juice was in Las Vegas (other than apparently armed robbery of some sort) was to be the best man at his wedding. He has friends? I mean, I guess these people are doing something honorable, befriending someone who is down and out. It's just so unbelievable.

And while I'm watching more news... Eddie Murphy and his fiance just showed up at some red carpet event and the news people were like "look at that engagement ring?'' Duh it's going to be huge. One, he's Eddie Murphy. Two, she's probably someone famous too... I think they said she produced some movie. And THREE, he recently admitted to being the Baby Daddy to a Spice Girl baby. Of course she's going to have a huge engagement ring. Duh!

I don't think I'm watching the news anymore. I think it's turned into Access Hollywood or something. Or has the news really gotten so... bad?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Books I Read in 2006

TITLE AUTHOR PAGES DID I OWN IT? WHY I READ IT?
Twilight Meyer, Stephenie 498 library BookGirls: Angela?
Ready or Not: An All-American Girl Novel Cabot, Meg 238 own Like Meg Cabot... not this book so much
Prom Anderson, Laurie Halse 215 library Like this author
Angels & Demons Brown, Dan 572 library everyone said this one is better
84, Charing Cross Road Henff, Helene 97 library Read about on a blog reading list
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life Rosenthal, Amy Krouse 232 own Saw in bookstore magazine
Kansas Curiosities:… Grout, Pam 276 library Saw at Sam's Club
Devil's Corner Scottoline, Lisa 393 library Like Lisa Scottoline
The Center of Everything Moriarity, Laura 291 library Lawrence, KS city read together book
Catalyst Anderson, Laurie Halse 233 library like her books
The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton Smiley, Jane 452 own KS Book Club: Rachel
A Taxonomy of Barnacles Niederhoffer, Galt 367 library Read about in Borders magazine
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean Child, Lauren 192 library Love Lauren Child kid's books
Candyfreak (2nd time) Almond, Steve 266 own KS Book Club:me
If You Could See Me Now Ahern, Cecelia 307 library Read about in Borders magazine
A Girl Named Zippy: Kimmel, Haven 282 library KS Book Club:Jamie
Persuasion Austen, Jane 273 library BookGirls:Jazzy
Light on Snow Shreve, Anita 305 own Mom won at CA book club and sent to me
P.S. I Love You Ahern, Cecelia 375 library read her other book
That Summer Dessen, Sarah 198 library have read her other books
Once Upon A Day Tucker, Lisa 340 library read her other book
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Roach, Mary 294 library Book Girls -Cecily
Someone Like You Dessen, Sarah 281 library like her books
The Good Earth Buck, Pearl S. 357 library KS Book Club: Carolyn
girl coming in for a landing Wayland, April Halprin 132 library Recommended by Cecily
Cage of Stars Mitchard, Jacquelyn 289 library BookPage magazine
The History of Love Krauss, Nicole 255 library BookPage magazine
The Anglophile Shapiro, Laurie Gwen 314 library saw at library
Peaches Anderson, Jodi Lynn 313 library saw at Borders
So B. It Weeks, Sarah 245 library saw at bookstore/library
The Truth About Forever Dessen, Sarah 374 library like her books
Things Fall Apart Acheve, Chinua 209 own Book Girls- Kate
The Jinx Sturman, Jennifer 313 library read the first book in series
Blessings (2nd time) Quindlen, Anna 226 library KS Book Club: Erin
Queen of Babble Cabot, Meg 309 library Like Meg Cabot
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Foer, Jonathan Safran 355 library read his wife's book which is supposedly similar
The Lady and the Panda:.... Croke, Vicki Constantine 361 library Book Girls: Joanna
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up Craft, Elizabeth & Fain, Sarah 386 library saw at store
Rosie Dunne Ahern, Cecelia 431 library read her other books and enjoyed
The Virgin of Small Plains Pickard, Nancy 335 library read about in BookPage or Borders mag.
Girls' Night Out Manby, Matthews, Mlynowski, ed. 390 own Fun writers
The Princess Academy Hale, Shannon 314 library Dr. Crowe recommended. LDS author.
The Mermaid Chair Kidd, Sue Monk 335 library Book Girls- Angela
Just Listen Dessen, Sarah 371 library Like her books
Nancy Drew: The Double Horror of Fenley Place # 79 Keene, Carolyn 158 library to freshen up for Nancy Drew NF book
Nancy Drew: The Ghost of Blackwood Hall #25 Keene, Carolyn 178 library " "
Nancy Drew: The Chocolate-covered Contest Keene, Carolyn 147 library " "
Nancy Drew: The Bike Tour Mystery # 168 Keene, Carolyn 154 library "
Nancy Drew: Secret of the Spa #9 Keene, Carolyn 150 library "
Nancy Drew: En Garde Keene, Carolyn 142 library "
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Avi 215 library KS Book Club: Harmoni
Keeping the Moon Dessen, Sarah 228 library Like her books
The Not-So-Star-Spangles Life of Sunita Sen Perkins, Mitali 179 library Saw at Borders
The Bean Trees Kingsolver, Barbara 261 library KS Book Club: Kristi
The Devil Wears Prada Weisberger, Lauren 360 library Ang read; popular
Startled by his furry shorts: confessions of Georgia Nicolson Rennison, Louise 278 library Have read the series
Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her Rehak, Melanie 354 library Book Girls - Nancy
A Great and Terrible Beauty Bray, Libba 403 library Book Girls -Jazzy
Rebel Angels Bray, Libba 548 library sequel
Sweet Sixteen Princess: A Princess Diaries Book (Volume VII 1/2) Cabot, Meg 82 library Princess Diaries
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2nd time) Brashares, Ann 294 library Book Club KS: Tiffany
Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle Bartlett, Beverly 242 library saw at library
New Moon Meyer, Stephenie 563 library sequel to Twilight
Because of Winn-Dixie DiCamillo, Kate 182 own B bought for me; new movie
Book of Mormon Smith, Joseph, trans. 541 own scriptures
What to Keep: A Novel Cline, Rachel 288 library saw in Camarillo Library years ago
Dracula Stoker, Bram 450 library Book Club KS: Susan
Me vs. Me Mlynowski, Sarah 312 library like her books
She, Myself & I Gaskell, Whitney 384 library saw at library
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Adams, Douglas 193 library Book Club KS:Natalie
The Thin Place Davis, Kathryn 275 library Book Girls: Kate
My Sister's Keeper Picoult, Jodi 423 borrowed Recommended by Natalie
Olive's Ocean Henkes, Kevin 217 library saw at library; he writes great picture books

Books I've read this year... so far

Here's the list of the books I've read so far in 2007, not necessarily because you're interested, but because I have nothing else to say right now. Feel free to ask for recommendations. Just because I've read it, doesn't mean it's great.

TITLE AUTHOR PAGES DID I OWN IT? WHY I READ IT?
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister Maguire, Gregory 368 borrowed loaned by Natalie; asked opinion of by Heather
Size 14 is not fat either Cabot, Meg 357 own sequel to size 12 is not fat, I like meg cabot
Forever in Blue: The 4th Summer of the Sisterhood Brashares, Ann 384 own 4th and last in series
Yearbook Condie, Allyson Braithwaite 230 own knew her & her hubby and her bro-in-law at BYU
Bel Canto Patchett, Ann 318 own Book Girls: Joanna
Life of Pi Martel, Yann 319 own Book Club KS: Carolyn
How Nancy Drew Saved My Life Baratz-Logsted, Lauren 295 library Read other books by author and liked
The Secret of Peaches Anderson, Jodi Lynn 297 library read first book; this is sequel
Notes on a near-life experience Birdsall, Olivia 257 library BYU alumna, won delacorte contest
A Mango-shaped Space Mass, Wendy 218 library saw at bookstore
Frogs and French Kisses Mlynowski, Sarah 288 library Read first book, this is sequel
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Lewis, C.S. 91 own Book Club KS
Daddy's Girl Scottoline, Lisa 336 library i like Scottoline's books; she's the female Grisham
Emma Austen, Jane 394 own Book Club KS: Natalie
Twisted Anderson, Laurie Halse 256 library read all her books
Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers Moody, Ralph 260 library Book Club KS: Kristie
Crossing to Safety Stegner, Wallace 327 library Recommended by Rachel and Erin
When the Emperor Was Divine Otsuka, Julie 144 library Book Club KS: Kristi
The Big Over Easy Fforde, Jasper 383 own I like Jasper Fforde books
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Rowling, J.K. 759 own Have read the entire series
The Last Summer (of You and Me) Brashares, Ann 306 library like author; read her YA books
Their Eyes Were Watching God Hurston, Zora Neal 256 library Book Club KS – my pick
The Book of Mormon Smith, Joseph Jr. trans. 541 own scriptures
Eclipse Meyer, Stephenie 629 library Read series; she's a byu alumna

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sewing

I want to be able to sew this bag.
I found this one on Etsy.com.



With lining and an inside pocket.

Does anyone know of a good website with a pattern or something of the sort. I've looked around a bit but haven't quite found this.

Random Thoughts


I got hit in the head by a toy thrown by a toddler in the row behind me at church today. At least it was a soft toy.

I had three brown bananas so I made banana bread today. While most grandmas bake, mine didn't. Banana bread always reminds me of my dad's mom because it's the only thing I ever had that she cooked. She had been widowed for more than a decade by the time I was born, and had really bad arthritis in her hands. Apparently she was once a great cook. I only remember that every once in awhile, instead of a large bag of plain M&Ms (peanut for my dad), Zonkers or Fiddle Faddle, she'd bring us homemade banana bread. Yum.

My husband and I have been in the middle of a game of Chicken Foot Dominoes for most of our marriage. We had to start over last night back at double zero (not really that big of a set back from the double three or four we think we were on) because we have lost our score card. Every few years we play a couple of rounds. At this rate, we'll finish about the time our kids leave for college.

Great kids games for 3+ kids: Feed the Kitty, Wig Out, Cars UNO, Chicken Foot Dominoes, There's a Moose in the House, Cookin' Cookies, Scrambled States of America, and Leapin' Lilypads.

We played a lot of games as a family this weekend to celebrate our family's Kansas day... the kids and I arrived here in Kansas two years ago on Friday. (My husband drove a moving truck out a couple of weeks earlier towing our car).

Young Adult authors I love: Sarah Dessen, Louise Plummer, Joan Bauer, Louise Rennison, Ann Brashares, Meg Cabot (although she's getting a little more risque for teens), Lois Duncan, Joan Lowery Nixon, Sharon Creech, Stephenie Meyer, Libba Bray, Olivia Birdsall, Wendy Mass, Chris Crowe, etc.

I just bought a pair of shoes on ebay that I'm excited to get in the mail.

We went to a homeschool picnic for Princess Sparkley's school on Saturday. My husband and I concurred that the school staff was quite normal, but the other picnic attendees seemed a bit odd.

Princess Sparkley is going to be a candy corn for Halloween. Next Halloween, a mermaid. The one after that a princess. The one after that a ... I don't even remember. Then a poodle. She's got like the next five Halloweens planned. She's wanted to be a candy corn for the past two. St. Louis Grandma is working on the costume now.

Boy is undecided about his Halloween costume. He's a bit undecided on Halloween in general. (See here and here.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Reader's Block


As I wrote the title to this post, I'm reminded that I may have already written about this dilemma I have. I'll have to check.

Reader's Block is sort of like Writer's Block. There are three varieties.

1. No time to read. Which, in general, is not an excuses I'll accept. There are short periods of time when I don't have the time to read, but none of these last more than a week or so. Unless I've recently gotten a season of CSI on dvd or something, and then that takes precedence over reading.

2. I don't feel like reading. Usually this could be some sort of indicator that there is something seriously wrong with me. I read constantly. But I do have periods of time when I'm just worn out from reading. This year, for instance. Last year I read like crazy. Over 22,000 pages. In 74 books. That was extreme. That was twice as many pages as I'd ever read in a year (at least since I started keeping track). I may have read more the summer I was 10 or so and I read every Babysitter's Club Book I owned at least twice, probably three times. So far this year I've read 8,013 pages in a whopping 24 books. This time last year, I had read more than twice as many books and more than twice as many pages. I think last year wore me out a bit on reading.

3. I can't decide what to read next. This is where I am now. I have books I own that I haven't read and would like to. I have a list of books I would like to check out from the library and read. It's just that none of them are screaming at me to read them next. I should post a list of all the books I've read in the last 8 years (since I've been keeping track) and have you, based off the books I've already read, suggest new ones. You could be like my personal librarian or small book shop owner. But that would be a really long post, 264 books worth (a few repeated).

So, what should I read next?


Toe Nail


Princess Sparkley stuck her hand in my husband's pocket last night and said, "guess what's in your pocket" all sing songy. It was funny enough that her entire arm fit into his pocket. Then he pulled her arm out and asked what she was putting in there (who knows with our lover of trash who never wants to throw ANYTHING away... she makes me save the rings that come off of milk jugs when you open them). She then proceeds to tell him it was a toe nail. I laughed, hysterically, tipped over on the floor for five minutes. Laughed so hard that I was both crying and making no noise. Kids are just funny.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cookie Obsession

I'm obsessed with treats. Here's the problem. With my second pregnancy I was borderline for the gestational diabetes test. Basically, I wasn't gestationally diabetic, but my body wasn't processing sugars correctly. So I had to cut back on sweets, eat lots of fiber, etc.

Since that pregnancy I read the book CandyFreak by Steve Almond. If you haven't read this, shame on you. But I must warn you that it will probably turn you into a candy addict. So before I got pregnant this time, I made sure I could break my candy addiction. And I've done a pretty good job. I've bought candy here and there. But since last Easter, I haven't been buying bags of candy on each grocery trip. That was not a good habit, let me tell you.

But I'm totally addicted to sweets. If I wasn't out of eggs right now (and I hadn't JUST made cookies on Saturday) I would be baking a batch of these cookies right now. They are my latest addiction. So yummy!

Triple Cookie

(Totally not its real name, but I got the recipe from my sister in law and she didn't attach a name to them so I've just been calling them Heather's cookies. But it gets all weird if you call them Heather's cookies and you don't even know Heather. )


Ingredients:

1 c. butter softened
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 bag Heath bar pieces (in baking aisle)
1 bag Chocolate chips
1/2 bag White chocolate chips


Directions:

Heat oven to 375.

Soften butter in mixing bowl. Add brown sugar, sugar, egg and
vanilla. Mix.

Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix 2 more minutes.

Add in Heath pieces, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips. It
seems like the ratio of stuff to dough is too high, but it works.

Scoop out w/the big scoop and flatten the balls. Cook
for 10-11 minutes. They still look really, really gooey. Let sit on
cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to cool. They'll set up
and finish cooking and be gooey in the middle.

Makes 24 w/the big scoop.



Thursday, September 06, 2007

Book Reports: Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Last Summer (of you and me)

Jamie asked about two of the books I've recently read. And since Jamie is one of my loyal blog readers, I figured the answer to her question deserved a blog post of its very own. Not to mention that unlike MySpace, Blogger doesn't allow me to just comment back to her. So I'm torn, do I answer her question in the comment thread where she asked it... even though it was about fish and she may never check back? Or do I answer it in her most recent post? Is there some sort of Blogger etiquette that tells me what to do?



I've always wanted to read this book. I read some short stories by Zora Neale Hurston in a Women's Lit. class at BYU and I really enjoyed them.

I enjoyed learning more about Hurston. How she was known for wearing hats. How she died in poverty virtually unknown and her books were revived by Alice Walker after her death. How she wasn't really well known until the 60s/70s when feminist and culturally diverse literature was on the rise. Her writing was politically conservative and thus did not go along with other African American literature (ie: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison) of her time. Many readers objected to her representation of African American dialect (which were influenced by her academic researches as a folklorist).

The book is basically about a girl, Janie, growing into a woman. It's sort of a coming of age story. She is raised by her grandmother, a former slave, who wants her married off well and taken care of, so she marries her off at 17. But Janie wants love. So we follow her through her life, her relationships with men, until she discovers herself.

It's hard to get into at first. The dialect is difficult. I found myself sort of saying the words aloud in my head to make sure I knew what I was reading. But you get used to it. It's worth it to read this book. And do a little research on Hurston, it makes the book that much more interesting.



The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares is the same woman who wrote The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series for teens. The first book was made into a movie. She became quite famous. I enjoyed these books.
The Last Summer (of You and Me) is her first book written for adults (even though I know a lot of adults who read the Traveling Pants books). The biggest difference in these books is that there is a whole lot more sex in The Last Summer. I liked how she handled sex in her teen books. It wasn't just consequence free. The girls had to deal with stuff. Of course I live in my own little bubble and I would liked to have seen a teen book where no one had sex (which is becoming harder and harder to come by these days), but I think Brashares handled it very honestly with no sugar coating for the most part.

As for this new book, the characters are older, three childhood friends (two of whom are sisters, the other their rich summer island, male neighbor) whose lives really only intermingle while at their family's summer houses on an island. When we meet them they are in the early to mid twenties and haven't been all together in a few years. Of course, you can tell from the start that this is going to turn into a love triangle. And it does, in a way. How else would there be too much sex, right? There has to be some sort of love interest happening.

I enjoyed this book. I don't think the sex was too detailed. It was just happening a lot. I loved the story, the emotion, the relationships that these three people had. I believe it made me cry. Although that isn't really saying much since I'm kind of a sap.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

In my haste to quickly write up all of my favorite oatmeal cookie recipes the other day, I forgot this one. Which I've made twice in a week now. Yummmm!


Oatmeal Cream Pies from Cottage Living

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
Cream Filling (see recipe below)


Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Add oats; stir well. Add to butter mixture; stir until well blended. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks.

4. Spread 1 tablespoon Cream Filling over each bottom side of half of cookies; top with remaining cookies, right side up.

Yield

Makes 3 dozen oatmeal cookies or 18 cream pies


Cream Filling

Prep: 5 minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, scraping bowl. Beat on high until light and fluffy.

Yield

Makes 1 1/2 cups


Jan Moon , Cottage Living, SEPTEMBER 2004


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pondering a Pet



Princess Sparkley told me the other day that she thinks she wants a pet. Thinking it was going to be her answer from a few months ago, a unicorn or a puppy, I asked her what kind of pet she would like. Her response, a fish. "A fish," I told her, "we can talk about."

And so the hunt began for what type of fish to get and what kind of aquarium we would need. Which resulted in me telling my husband, "It might be easier to just get a puppy."

Goldfish, which I had as a kid in just a bowl, apparently can't be in a tank smaller than like 20 gallons. Bettas seem easiest, but we need to get two fish (one for each kid) and they fight. I would love to get some neon tetras, but they apparently need to be kept in a school of at least 5-6 fish, and need a 10 gallon tank. I was thinking more along the lines of a 2.5 gallon tank, 5 gallons top.

So what is your experience with fish? Which route should I take. Of course I've already had to talk them our of getting a pet Nemo and a pet Dory since they are tropical fish and we're not going anywhere near salt water aquariums.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Almost Famous

When I was a toddler, my mom claims we saw John Travolta at a Sav-On in Santa Barbara, CA.

Also before I can remember, we saw Ernest Borgnine at an ice cream shop in Fillmore, CA.

I won first place in the Ventura County Science Fair when I was in the 7th grade and was all over the paper (at least from a 12 year old's perspective).

My husband had a Calculus class with Tahj Mowry at Moorpark College.

When in high school, my best friend's brother played ice hockey for UCLA. We went to a lot of games. One game was following a celebrity all-star ice hockey game of sorts. As I result, I got the autographs of Matthew Perry, D.B. Sweeney, Ryan Francis, Barry Melrose, Ron Wilson, and more that I can't remember, nor can I find my autographed program. I do remember that I had to spell my name for Matthew Perry. And that I had no idea who D.B. Sweeney was, but he was very nice.


My friend Jenny, Barry Melrose, myself

Jenny again, me, Ryan Francis (then on Sisters) and Julie

While waiting in line to get into a taping of the TV show Friends I was interviewed by A Current Affair. As far as I know, it never aired.

My mom's cousin's son used to be president of the Southern Utah Reba McEntire fan club, or something of the sort.

However cool as it might have been in The Work and the Glories heyday, I am not related to Gerald Lund. But I was asked that in most of my English classes at BYU when they called roll on the first day of class, sharing his last name and all.

While trying to find a quilting store in Westlake Village, CA my mom and I saw Brian Austin Green on set for a scene being shot for Beverly Hills, 90210.

My friend Ben went to junior high school with Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame. As a result, I think I met him once while at BYU.

While dating my husband in college, he took me to a private party for Utah's governor, Orrin Hatch where we both received autographed books and copies of his cd. We also had our picture taken with him, but never got out copies.

In the movie Notting Hill there is a scene where Hugh Grant jumps up and kisses the hotel clerk. I saw that hotel clerk in a play in London.

I met the lead singer for Sixpence None The Richer at her concert in London. (Ang- did we actually meet her, or did someone else in our group tell us about meeting her? My memory is crap.)

My daughter had a drawing published in the September issue of the Friend magazine.

My mom once went on a double date where the other girl was Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island.

I once saw someone famous drive by in a car somewhere in California, but I can't for the life of be remember who it was.
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