Thursday, April 29, 2010
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Croke
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
84, Charing Cross Rd. by Helene Hanff
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith*
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
*Jed had to explain to Princess Sparkley at a bookstore the other day that Jane Austen didn't write the zombie one. She wasn't really aware of the original book, just the one I'd read more recently. She asked what Pride and Prejudice was about and he explained it. So she asked what Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was about. He told her the same story, but they are fighting zombies. Apparently she cracked up right there in Barnes and Noble.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Today is Buddy's actual birthday (and Jed and my nine year anniversary), but we had his party last Saturday. Here are the details:
Designed on Smilebox.com, printed out and mailed.
Dog bowls for their cake.
Dog collars. Each kid picked either their own name, or a doggy name.
Doggy Ears headband.
Jed, the better cake decorator, was nice and decorated the dog food cake for me. I caught him with a mouth full of cereal.
Dog Food Cake. Just a regular cake, baked in a bowl, flipped, frosted and covered in Reese's Puffs cereal. The blog where I got the idea used a real dog bowl. I was too cheap to buy a dog bowl I'd never use again.
The Gift Bags:
Each gift bag contained the following items, plus a
doggy pencil, doggy stickers and piñata candy.
Paw print pops... Princess Sparkley and my first attempt at making candy.
Puppy Chow for the gift bags.
Dog bone sugar cookies.
Decorating for the Party:
I bought Ty Beanie Baby dogs on ebay (6 for under $10).
Then a "handkerchief" of doggy fabric I had leftover from a blanket I made my nephew to tie around the doggy necks.
Piñata from Party City full of Easter sale candy.
After the kids had made their collars and headbands, we read McDuff Moves In and Don't Lick the Dog. Afterwards, I realized I could have had a lot of fun with Dog's Colorful Day too. After the books, we went to Doggy Obedience School where the doggies learned to sit, lay, speak, and roll over.
We played "fetch" and they received Scooby Snacks as their rewards.
We played Doggy Doggy Who's Got Your Bone?
Princess Sparkley as Spunky.
I bought these little food boxes at Michaels and used them as "doggy houses" for the Beanie Baby dogs.
Doggy Fido blowing out his candles.
Princess Sparkley and Buddy helped me make dog themed place mats. I offered to let the kids eat like dogs without their forks. They all wanted bowls of water (which I refused) and to eat on the floor (which I refused), but I noticed that they all used their forks.
The thank yous will be a picture of each doggy... with a note written in "dog." Arf arf. Woof woof. Car race track. Bark bark. From, Fido.
And our little family grew by one. (4/30/04)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Buy it here or, if you are nearby, I made my local library buy it.
My friend Cecily recommended this book to me, describing it as Mockingbird-esque. That immediately grabbed my attention. I have both read and taught To Kill a Mockingbird. And I've often bemoaned the nonexistence of any other books by Harper Lee. So a book that was similar to Lee's classic... I had to read it.
Although I studied literature in college, when I read a book now, I'm reading purely for pleasure. This often leads to my being carried away by the great story and failing to notice the wonderful words with which it is being told. Susan Carol McCarthy's book grabbed me from the very beginning with her poetic language and made me notice the beautiful way it was told throughout, even amid the captivating story. It opens...
Most of the Southern Belle states chose their widest, wildest rivers and seduced them into hardworking husbandry. In Big Delta marriages that still prosper, Mississippi claimed her namesake, Alabama her Mobile, and Georgia her Savannah. But Florida- skinny, flat-chested baby sister to the Belles- had slimmer prospects. Rejecting old Suwannee, Florida chose the Orange Blossom Trail, not a river at all but a slick 600-mile highway that knew how to dance.
The story focuses on Reesa, a girl, not quite a young woman, growing up with her Northern family in Florida during all the race tensions of the late 1940s. It begins with the Ku Klux Klan mistaking her family's good friend, Marvin, a black teenager, for someone else. He is brutally beaten and left to die. This is the story of trying to bring justice for his death in a time and place where the county sheriff had his own white robe hanging in his closet. Through Reesa's story, and that of her brave family, we see how things were in Florida during this scary time when the Klan was taking action against blacks registering to vote and fighting for their constitutional rights.
This book has history, coming of age, citrus insights, Florida, tourism, baseball, etc. It's funny. Happy. Sad. Exciting. Scary. And I loved every page of it.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I'm going to eat a giant bowl of my new favorite ice cream:
Breyer's Ice Cream
And I'll announce that I'm going to bake my way through all the sugar cookie recipes you suggested here and ones I've collected on my own from various places (such as: a recipe taped to a cabinet in an apartment I rented at BYU in 1998, a recipe from Angela's wedding reception in 2008, a recipe I tracked down after a church potluck in 2007, etc.). Then I'll review them all on this blog. The end result... the bestest sugar cookie recipe ever. But I don't want to gain 100 lbs., so this might take awhile...
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Today when I was flipping through my junk mail I came across this:
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I was complaining to Jed the other night about how in all of the blogs I read, until recently, none are homeschool blogs. I'm not sure why I never looked for homeschool blogs before, I just didn't. I've found a few, but for the most part, they aren't what I'm looking for. There has to be someone else out there who homeschools how I homeschool. But I think I have to figure out how I homeschool before I can track down those other people. Until then, Jed suggested I start my own homeschool blog. Hmmm... I'm considering it. And that scares me.
But I still have never found the bestest sugar cookie recipe in the world. Suggestions?
And I am definitely not the bestest dough roller outter/cookie cutter using baker. Wish me luck.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I think when I first started blogging, a lot of blogs I read used blog names for their husbands and children. I liked that. I can understand people who feel the need to have private blogs (even if it drives me crazy sometimes). A private blog wasn't for me, but I still wanted a level of privacy to make me feel safer. I try to avoid referring to our specific town, just a general idea of what state, or region we live in. And the family all have pseudonyms.
Here are their stories:
Princess Sparkley: Now seven and a half going on 14, was only three or four when I started blogging. At the time (and probably still) she desperately wanted a tea cup poodle and was going to name it Princess Sparkley. I liked this as a nickname for her because it summed up what she felt was the cutest, princessy, girly name her little kid mind could come up with. It reminds me of being a similar little girl who thought Crystal was the most beautiful name ever... so glittery and full of sparkles.
Buddy: Turning six next week, was always adamant that he only be called by his name. His nickname on my blog was originally "Boy" because we could either call him his name, or we could call him a boy. Nothing else was okay. He's since grown out of this and let's us call him stink pot or whatever, but Buddy is the nickname we call him most often at home.
Baby X: He's now two, and no longer a baby. I talk about his nickname a little bit here and it's one of his new year's resolutions this year to get a new nickname on my blog. But I just can't come up with one. Basically, he's Baby X because that's what we called him when I was pregnant and not only did we not know for a long time if he was a boy or a girl, but if he was a boy, we had no idea what we were going to name him. He's the only kid (so far) that we've gone to the hospital not totally convinced of what name to use for him.
UPDATE: Baby X is now "Little Guy."
And somehow, in all this nickname craziness, I'm still just Nance. And I haven't made it secret that Nance is short for Nancy. And in real life, I'm not Nance. But it's really hard to come up with a nickname for yourself.
So that's it... the story of our names. Or nicknames.
And she has a giveaway for an autographed Pioneer Woman cookbook.
For Christmas, I gave each of my families this recipe card I designed with Smilebox.
|Personalize your own digital recipe page|
My mom even asked me to make a few other recipe cards that are sort of traditional family recipes to go along with a project my oldest nephew (he's 14!!!) was doing for school.
And I've been wanting to create a Blurb book for my mother-in-law next Christmas of all of her traditional holiday desserts and appetizers, but didn't know how to go about getting pictures of them all. And the recipes. I may have to call on my sister-in-law for some help with this one.
The other day, here, I saw this... Tastebook. Sort of like a Blurb.com for recipes... I guess. Has anyone tried it?? I guess they come fully stocked with recipes, or you can add all your own personal favorites. I'm intrigued.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
this shirt for his birthday.
And because I know my dad would never wear this, I cropped it all together. See, doesn't it look nice.
*He didn't believe me when I told him over a decade ago that Sesame Street had introduced a new monster named Elmo.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Do you use a service like Google Reader? Or do you still go from blog to blog? Or something else that your tech savviness has taught you and my tech not-savviness hasn't revealed?
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Jam Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Fresh California Orange Cake from Your Homebased Mom
Strawberry Cream Pie from Your Homebased Mom
Angel Lush Cupcakes
Lemon-Blueberry Swirl Cake
Peanut Butter Bars from Grandma
Ice Cream Cookie Dessert
Frosty Orange Creme Layered Dessert
Raspberry Ice Cream Cake
Cinnamon-Bun Filled Pancakes
Boston Cream Pie Minis
Chocolate-covered Oreo cookie cake
This list could go on and on, but I'll stop ... for now.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In writing up my review of Beverly Cleary's autobiography, A Girl from Yamhill, I remembered that I never gave my final thoughts on Haven Kimmel's second autobiography, She Got Up Off the Couch.
I loved the first book, A Girl Named Zippy and even though I heard from a lot of different people that the second book was a lot darker, I didn't feel that it was. The book is still all about Zippy's childhood, but in the details is her mother's life, the "she" in the title is referring to Zippy's mom. It's her mother struggling to be a person she's happy with, putting in the effort and achieving great things. But none of this makes Zippy's dad happy. This story basically leads up to the parents' divorce at the end. And even though divorce isn't a happy thing, I got the feeling that their lives would show improvement with the mother in the lead. I liked it and if you read A Girl Named Zippy and were entertained by it, I think you'll enjoy finding out more of the story.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
*This is the number Jed throws out when we are playing the license plate game and he sees one from Alaska or somewhere else a thousand miles away. The kids think it's hilarious. Hopefully they don't think a billionty is a real number.
Monday, April 12, 2010
"She taught us how to use the library and once made us line up alphabetically by our last names, as if we were books on shelves. After that, I found a place on the shelf where my book would be if I ever wrote a book, which I doubted" (143).Ha ha. She went on to write 42 books, including two autobiographies (if Wikipedia has it right).
"As much as I enjoyed writing it, I thought "Journey Through Bookland" was a poor story because the girl's journey turned out to be a dream; and if there was anything I disliked, it was a good story that ended up as a dream. Authors of such stories, including Lewis Carroll, were cheating, I felt, because they could not think of any other conclusion" (146).
I'm not sure which of my own teachers growing up told me this, but I distinctly remember being taught that when writing stories, they should never end with "... and then he/she woke up from a dream."
During her sophomore year in high school, Cleary chose typing as an elective, "which Mother did not consider frivolous because I was going to be a writer" (212). She managed a G for Good in the class and opted not to take the second semester.
"Today, when I am asked the most difficult part of writing, I answer "typing," which is taken as a joke. It is not. There is nothing funny about typewriting"(212).
I think I get Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume confused. And in my home, Judy Blume was an author to be selective about. I can remember not being allowed to read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? But then having it assigned as a book to read for a Adolescent Lit. class at BYU. It was probably her book, Forever, that I was to avoid (and have thus far).
Now that I've read more about Beverly Cleary, I have a much clearer picture of who she is and which books she wrote. I didn't remember until I saw all of her books listed on her website and her Wikipedia page how many of her books were my favorites growing up, and are now my kids' favorites. I loved the Ramona books. I loved Dear Mr. Henshaw. I loved Ralph S. Mouse and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I don't remember reading her Henry Higgins books as a kid, but my kids have listened to them on cd and Jed has read them aloud to the kids and they've loved them.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Jed cutting nice diagonal lines for me after I layered 8 billion layers of Fillo dough and butter.
Baked, but with no syrup poured on yet.
After pouring the honey/sugar/syrup on top, waiting to set.
Cut and being eaten.
Yum. Notice Buddy's lips in the background.
*Two years ago in Kansas I just took Snickerdoodles to a church cultural activity figuring they were yummy, sounded German, and Jed has German ancestors. Last month, I took aebleskivers to a church cultural activity, but I'm not an expert aebleskiver maker, they are hard to make in bulk, and they don't taste good not right out of the pan warm.
**I used pecans instead of almonds because I don't like almonds. They are gross.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
It's the same with my in-laws. I married into a family of people who like to go outside and play football or soccer as part of their Thanksgiving festivities. When I first married into the family, it seemed like a much bigger deal. Now, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. And there are grandkids old enough to join in with the sports so no one is badgering me to get out there and join in on the "fun."
People don't understand that because it's their "fun," it isn't everyone's.
That being said, I do love watching sports. Especially baseball, which most people don't understand. (Not the sport, but why anyone would want to watch it.) With baseball season starting up this week, the kids and I have been discussing our teams.
St. Louis Zoo 4/2007
Buddy has since lost this hat, got a new one and found this hat... so I've claimed this as my own. And this was before Baby X, but he has his own Red Sox had too. But still, one family, three different team hats.
I'm a Red Sox fan. Born and raised that way in southern California by a dad who has been a Red Sox fan since he was a kid, even though he too was born and raised in southern California.
Jed is a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, even though they haven't had a winning season forever. He was born in Pittsburgh and thus cheers for all Pittsburgh sports teams, and baseball is his favorite of the sports.
Since we were living in the Los Angeles area when Princess Sparkley was born, Jed decided she'd be our Dodger fan. He bought her a Dodger hat at the mall when she was about two and firmly supports her team.
We were still in southern California when Buddy was born and decided he'd be our Angels fan. This hasn't really worked out for us so far because he came to love the Red Sox like me and his grandpa.
Following this line of thought, Baby X is supposed to me our Kansas City Royals fan. We'll see what he decides. Today he was walking around with a play golf club and a ball trying to pretend he was playing hockey while yelling, "See! Baseball game."
And now we're in DC and we'll begin cheering a bit for the Nationals. I suppose.
The conversation the kids and I were having in the car earlier this week went something like this.
Me: I only really hate the Yankees because they are the big Red Sox rival. So no matter what I'll cheer against the Yankees.
PS: I might always cheer against the Yankees. I don't know.
Me: I used to really dislike the Mets as well, because they beat the Red Sox in a playoff game when I was a little girl (1986), and my best friend all of a sudden became a Mets fan and that made me mad. But I don't think I still dislike the Mets.
PS: Why did your best friend do that?
Me: I don't know.
PS: Maybe [Baby X] will start cheering for the Mets then.
At this point we've parked and are out of the car in a large parking lot.
Me: Why would he cheer for the Mets? I don't hate them like the Yankees, but I don't exactly want him to cheer for them.
Random man walking pass: (smiles laughingly at this conversation).
Buddy got his T-ball team assignment this week and starts practice today. He's a Yankee. I hope he handles this well. I hope my dad handles this well. :)
*Buddy in his Halloween costume from 2005. It still fits (barely, size 4t) and he goes through phases when he tries to wear it every day in a row. I've actually just hidden it from him (it got pulled out with all of his shorts a couple weeks ago) because my parents have bought him a new, bigger Red Sox jersey for his birthday at the end of the month.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
It's even a bit exciting that we've been to two of them*:
Capitol Reef National Park (March 2004)
and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (6/2009).
And we grew up near another (Channel Islands National Park), but they are islands, so I've never been to them. Although I have seen them hundreds of times from the shore.
*Jed went to Great Basin National Park on his own this summer one day while we were at my parents cabin in southern Utah. I'm also betting that Jed has been to Channel Islands National Park for Scout camp and such.
So I've been to two, Princess Sparkley's been to two, Buddy's been to one (two if you count in the womb), Baby X has been to one and Jed has been to possibly four.
And now is your chance to visit any of the nation's National Parks for free, April 17-25.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I'm the same way about turning on the heat in the winter for that first time. I make the kids wear socks and sweatshirts inside. We bundle up under blankets for everything. I add an extra quilt to the bed. But finally, the heat has to come on.
I'm at that same point now with the summer and air conditioning. Especially since it's April 6, barely spring, but today and tomorrow's highs are 90 and 91. How much longer can we just open the windows and make it work. The kids keep demanding bigger fans and complain that they are too hot in just their underwear at bedtime. I'm trying to hold out, but we may not make it.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Here's last weeks menu, with reviews since a lot of the recipes were new to me:
Monday: Passover (we follow this book, Days of Awe: Jewish Holy Days, Symbols & Prophecies for Latter-Day Saints by Gale Boyd).
Crusty Chicken (I can't find the exact recipe online, but it's basically chicken coated with Matzah meal, garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano then friend in olive oil).
Three Ingredient Peanut Butter cookies
The chicken was okay. The Potato Latke was yummy, similar to this Zucchini Fritter. Charoset was okay... basically just cinnamon sugar sprinkled on chopped apples and nuts. The peanut butter cookies were really good, for the simple recipe that they were. I cooked them longer than the recipe said, and flattened them.
Tuesday: Tostadas - store bought tostada shells with refried beans and cheese melted on top in the oven. I was planning on trying this recipe, but didn't have time.
Review: The kids love these. Simple, which was great on Tuesday because we got home from the Aquarium at dinner time. Sometimes I fancy them up for me and Jed with chicken or ground beef and lettuce and tomatoes. This time I just had the kid version with salsa and sour cream.
Wednesday: Four-cheese Pasta Florentine
This made a nice 8 or 9 inch square dish but the kids wouldn't eat it because there was too much spinach. I even like spinach, but this was too much spinach in an otherwise yummy dish. I'd make it again, but with way less spinach. And I'll make some plain noodles on the side for my plain noodle eaters.
Thursday: BBQ Pork Sandwich
I made this a few weeks ago and made way too much marinade, so I froze half of it. The first time, I rubbed the pork with pepper like the recipe says, but it was too peppery for my taste. This time I just sprinkled it with a little pepper and I liked it much more. Serve with BBQ sauce or it's rather dry.
Friday: Greek Chicken Pasta (from the most recent Taste of Home magazine)
I really liked the idea of this, (Penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chicken, feta cheese) but the actual dish wasn't to my taste. Jed enjoyed it, but felt there was too much artichoke. The kids had macaroni and cheese from a box because I knew they wouldn't touch this.
Saturday: Philly Cheesesteak - Since we didn't get a chance to eat one in Philly a couple weeks ago, I made them at home.
YUMMY! Although I followed some of the comments on this recipe and served it with Cheese Whiz instead of healthier cheese, and I marinated the meat with Worchestershire Sauce, onion powder and garlic powder.
Sunday: Ham, cheesey potato casserole, and orange rolls.
Review: The orange rolls are divine. My cheesey potato casserole turned out weird this time, but is usually my favorite. And the ham was just an Archer Farms ham from Target, no fancy recipe. The kids LOVE ham. We ate a quarter ham, just the five of us.
Since I posted my menu here, I've made the Penne Rustica recipe several times and we all LOVE it.
*I know them... it just takes me a second to remember 8x7, 8x8 and 9x7, 9x8. They were the ones my mom had to drill into my head when I was a kid.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Watch this video about Christ:
Saturday, April 03, 2010
1. I'm furious at Disneyland for taking over the world (ie: FamilyFun is now owned by Disney, and I could buy (but won't) Disney brand cheese at the grocery store).
2. I don't believe Dinosaurs are real.*
*I actually don't really know what I think about dinosaurs, but I like to pretend that I don't believe in them so when stuff about dinosaurs come up, I treat them like mythical creatures for fun.