Friday, October 29, 2010


I realized today that I have "ghost-blogged" for my sister more this month than actually blogged myself. I mean, on this one. I'm doing fine with my book blog. It's not so much that there's nothing happening as that there's rather a lot going on and I'm busy, but not the kind of busy that makes for fun writing. So instead of writing, I've been baking. I've found it to be rather therapeutic. I never really thought of myself as a baker, but in the last few months, I've developed rather a penchant for it. I'm not sure it's great for my waist line, but that's why we share, eh? At any rate, today I baked a carrot cake and succeeded in icing it without cheating or getting it all crumby. When I talk about cheating with the frosting, I'm referring to this cake where I most definitely melted the frosting on. Didn't tell you that at the time, did I?

I also baked the "loaf of bread that ate New York" as dubbed by my aunt. I really wasn't expecting it to get quite so huge. I was going to post a picture for you to see and admire and drool over, but blogger is taking forever with the picture loading thingie, so no luck. It's already after midnight, and I should be asleep. The only reason I'm not is because the Man isn't home tonight, and I have insomniatic tendencies when he's not here. Basically, next week when he's out backpacking, I'm in big trouble.

Why am I still awake? Momentarily forgetting that this isn't a cooking blog isn't worth losing sleep over. One more thing though, isn't it luxurious to sleep on clean sheets in a freshly straightened room with the dishwasher running in a newly scrubbed kitchen and the smell of clean laundry floating through the air? Now if only I was going to get to sleep in...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Around But Not About

I read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept this week. Well, technically, I read it Sunday and Monday, but that's not the point. There really is no point. I don't so much want to write about By the River as I want to just write about reading.

It's been a while since I've read a Paulo Coelho book. My oldest sister sent me The Alchemist for my birthday when I was a freshman in college. I took it with me to band practice that day because I never go anywhere without a book (who knows when you'll need one), and when band practice ended up being cancelled, I detoured to the library and curled up on one of the top floor couches and read the entire thing. There was something utterly freeing about being by myself and doing what I wanted to do on my birthday. No one knew where I was. No one was trying to celebrate with me. No one was being exuberant. It was just peaceful. And I loved the book. It's on my favourite book list still (seriously), and even though there was a lot I didn't agree with in The Alchemist, I found a few nuggets of truth that have stuck with me.

So I picked up By the River Piedra at the library and read the first 85 pages while I was out walking with the Little Man, and the last 95 pages while the Big Man was at the gym last night (and he looked good when he got home). I do love Coelho's writing, but I wonder if I would enjoy it more if he didn't spend most of his books touting his particular brand of universalist humanism. Hmm, I think yes...  But the point is that there was something refreshing Sunday about reading as I walked with the wind blowing past me and thoughts of winter coming. And there was something incredibly restful about lying on the couch last night with my book and a blanket and the cat curled up at my feet. Because sometimes it's just good to escape into someone else's story for a little while, even if you truly love the one you've been given. And at the end of the night, you close the book and welcome life back home in the form of a loving husband and a nursing baby and the sound of autumn tapping on your window.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Countable Happiness

I have some new favourites. The library has been good to me this week, blessing me with an out pouring of fun children's books. So here I am, passing the blessing your way.

Numero Uno, Warthogs in the Kitchen: A Sloppy Counting Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole. I'm so glad that Little Man can now count to ten with his freshly washed hooves and some pickle cupcakes. He'll always remember to remove stray teddy bears from the batter when he's baking. I feel that reading this book has prepared him for life in an all new way. Best yet, Edwards and Cole provided a Pickle Cupcake recipe at the back of the book. I have to admit though, as soon as those lovable warthogs threw the pickle jar in with the cupcake batter, I thought of this link for broccoli cupcakes that a friend of mine posted to facebook a couple weeks ago. I'm still so horrified by the thought of contaminating cupcakes with broccoli that I have evidently not been able to wipe the thought from my mind. And I actually like broccoli rather a lot.

Moving on (and counting to Two), Swimmy by Leo Lionni, which tells the tale of an intrepid young fish who explores the ocean floor after his entire family gets eaten and then mobilizes his new family to fight big fish bullying by swimming together in the shape of an even bigger fish. I wouldn't use this book for grief counseling, but I do love Leo Lionni's illustrations. He uses a sponging technique that is absolutely beautiful. And I love little Swimmy. On an educational front, Swimmy does provide a great look at ocean life, talking through the different animals on the ocean floor and a little bit of survival of the fittest. If you're into being educational. Some days I am.

Hold up Three fingers for me, and let me tell you about Mo Willems, who I think will become a close, personal friend of mine. I'm huge into his pigeon books, which just crack me up. In honor of the fact that Little Man stayed up all night last night (which makes me a wonderful person to spend time with today), I read him Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! Pigeon's facial expressions are just classic. And who could resist a scrawny little bird who wants to have a hot dog party? Or who uses such great bargaining tactics as "Y'know, we never get to talk anymore" and "It's the middle of the day in China!" and "My bunny wants to stay up, too! You can't say 'No' to a bunny, can you?" It was like seeing my future...but pigeon sized.

Anyway, now that you can count to three, that's really all you need to know. Three is, after all, the perfect number. Tthree daughters (haha), three cookies with a glass of milk, God in three persons (wink), my three persons when I refer to myself in the royal "We", a three person family...not to be extended to four any time soon because I realized last night that I don't enjoy being up at freaking three in the morning with a screaming baby.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I love you and love you. And love you and love you. And love you and love you.

I have an obsession. And that obsession goes by the name of Sandra Boynton. This blog has been a long time coming, let me tell you, because not a week goes by (and seldom a day) when I do not spend a significant amount of time pondering the Awesomeness that is Sandra Boynton. Tonight, as I was reading the classic that is "Night-Night, Little Pookie" to my son, I came to the awareness that the time is now. I considered writing an Ode to Sandra Boynton, but thought that may be a little over the top. So, let me be straightforward:

Sandra Boynton, if you're reading this, I want to be you. Or at the very least, be your best friend ever. (I want to be your personal penguin from now on...)

In all seriousness though, this wonderful woman wrote a book about hippo belly buttons. How much cooler can it get than that? And a pig named Little Pookie. And a bunch of animals that bathe and brush their teeth and then exercise before bed (who does that?). And birthday monsters (who could forget the birthday monsters!). My deepest literary wish for Little Man is that one night he'll say to me, just like little Pookie, "Night-night, little Mommy" and then drift of into dreamland. My second deepest literary wish is that his next bedroom would be decorated with Sandra Boynton posters. After that, I hope he'll actually learn to read. But that's not even a close second to my desire for him to be brainwashed by Sandra Boynton. She's a great role model for him, I'm sure: she went to Yale, after all.

At any rate, I invite you to join with me behind the rallying cry of "But YES the hippopotamus!" and support Sandra Boynton by finding all of her books so that you will then be able to understand all the hidden references I included in this post. And so that when your children grow up and become friends with my child, they'll have something to talk about.

Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

International Baby

We've decided to start early with the Little Man. By which I mean that at the tender age of nine months, he's already had Mexican, Italian, Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Chinese food. Considering that we didn't start solids til he was six months old, I feel that this is a big accomplishment on our part. However, today was when it really clicked how persistent we've been in our pint-sized globalization course.

Let me start by saying that the Man has an Indian food addiction. And follow by admitting that I tend to encourage it. And finish up with the fact that Littles loves him some chick peas and butter chicken. And today it all paid off. We are officially worthy of a ten percent discount at our Indian restaurant because we are there so often. Essentially, they now pay us to tip. Yay!

Unfortunately, now that Samrat, Cuisine of India, is our home away from home, we will be entirely more loath to go to our actual home after church instead of spending the Man's hard earned money on naan and curried goodness. Seriously, it was so good, Little Man tried to eat the table. Or maybe he's just teething.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Inspiring Bibliophilia

So... I have a question for all you avid readers out there. I was thinking about linking my blog to so that if you had a burning desire to go buy whatever book I was writing about, it would be just one click away. And I would get a little commission from amazon. Always a plus. I'm not writing this blog for the money, but some of us are too lazy to go to the library, and sometimes you can buy a used book on amazon for cheaper than the gas it would take to drive to the library. Seriously. On all of those counts. Any thoughts?

Speaking of libraries, I found out a couple weeks ago that only 1% of the people in my county own library cards. We have a great library system here! What is up with that?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just One More Chapter

Last night, the hubs and I were reading in bed, and he closed his book about the CIA (who reads that kind of stuff before bed?) and decided to go to sleep. I decided to read to the end of the chapter first... which turned into finishing the entire book while he snored away happily in bed next to me. I closed the book around midnight (which is a late night for me, but Little Man has been sleeping through the night why not?), and I have to say: it was worth it.

Late night reading--La's Orchestra Saves the World. Author of choice--Alexander McCall Smith. Genre--fiction, I admit, but quality fiction, which counts for something.

Many of you may know Alexander McCall Smith as the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, some of which I have read and enjoyed. But let me be honest with you, I enjoy reading about Africa, but I've never been there, and I have no memories to connect with books about Africa (not saying that this stops me from reading about Africa or wanting to go there). On the other hand, I spent half a year in England doing study abroad, and I have many fond memories that I can quickly call to mind when reading a book about England. Consequently, I loved La's Orchestra. Loved it. And it reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, which I read while I was rotundly pregnant last year. In fact, La's Orchestra had most of my favourites: music, coffee, England, rain, fun characters, travel, references to good books...

Here's your quick synopsis if you want it: La Stone moves from London to the country (Suffolk, to be exact, where, ironically, my British flat mate was from) after her husband leaves her for another woman. There she weathers through WWII, finding ways to join in the war effort, one of which is to start an orchestra in order to build morale. Add in a few other characters, some intrigue, and several cups of tea, and there you have it.

And now I want it to rain so I can make scones and play Pretend-I'm-In-England for a bit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


In my attempt to read more nonfiction (be proud), I read through David Platt's Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream this week as well as Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. I thought they'd be an interesting contrast. Not that I was planning to read them back to back, but sometimes things like that happen. They're such different books that in many ways, I feel like I'm making a mistake blogging about them at the same time, but here we go.

Platt blew me away. He really did. If you're serious about your walk with Christ and truly desiring to grow more and seek truth, go get this book. I was encouraged and challenged, and I actually cried a little at the end. And while I cry significantly more now than I did before I became a mom (it's just one of those things, I've discovered), I still wouldn't classify myself as a crier. It is a must reread for me. Mostly because there are a lot of things that Platt said that I want to write down and remember.

That said, Anne Lamott: I picked up Traveling Mercies, knowing that I would probably disagree with most of Lamott's theology, and I did. So why did I even bother to read it, you ask. Well, I read Bird by Bird a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and I wanted to see what else she had to say. Plus, I think that most of us benefit greatly from listening to different ideas. It's a great way to challenge your own thoughts and make sure that they are founded on truth instead of just ideological habits that you've gotten into. With that said, there were parts of this book that I really loved. As a person, I think Anne Lamott is a lot of fun, and her dreads are pretty much awesome. I think we would be friends. But she herself defines her religion as "Christianish", and I think that's pretty honest of her. She wants to take the feel-good parts of Christianity and leave out the difficult ones. Unfortunately, as Platt points out in Radical, we don't really get to pick and choose. Jesus is who he says he is, and we can either accept that or realize that what/who we're worshiping isn't really Jesus, it's just something we've made up for ourselves. Still, I did find a few encouraging words from Lamott, and there were passages that were beautifully written. And a few that were just worth a good laugh. It was worth the read, but... Well, if someone offered you the choice between a small square of chocolate and a pile of gold... That's about how I'd compare Traveling Mercies to Radical. Traveling Mercies was a good read but didn't have much lasting value (and it might give you a cavity). Radical actually gave me something for the long haul, even if some of the points Platt made left me uncomfortably squirmy. Conviction is rarely comfortable, I find.

Typing Cows (and some such things)

During weeks like these, the blog goes on the back burner. It's just one of those inevitabilities. The reading doesn't (there's an addiction there), but the blog does. But I've come up with a solution: typing cows. I read about them this week in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin (illustrations by Betsy Lewin), and I think that they might be the solution to my problem. I'm going to contact Farmer Brown and ask how much it would cost for him to just lend me a cow every now and then. Hopefully, aforementioned cow won't mind switching from an antique typewriter to a macbook with a loose "enter" key.

Anyway, typing cows aside, I got quite a handful of children's books out of the library last time around. A smattering of Tomie dePaola (who never gets old and will always be forever one of my all time favourite children's book illustrators--Strega Nona rocks my world), a hint of Eric Carle (because he's just classic), and some Skippyjon Jones. Judy Schachner has truly hit on something with this insane siamese kitten. I don't even like siamese cats (they're snobby and kind of creepy looking), but Skippyjon really does have a special place in my heart. I also picked up a couple boring books on trees and birds and some such, because I try to make sure I'm adequately educating my poor son, but I feel no need to waste my time blogging about them. Needless to say, when I checked out the entire children's section I was planning to drive home in my nicely air conditioned car with all those books. I didn't count on lugging them home when my car wouldn't start and I ended up walking three miles home, in my skinny jeans and sandals, with 90 some degree weather outside. And no, I did not then find five dollars.

Now, if you're still reading this blog and have no idea who Tomie dePaola or Skippyjon Jones or (God Forbid) Eric Carle are, STOP reading right now and go find some of their books. The Skippyjon Jones series is written and illustrated by Judy Schachner--how multitalented and awesome is she? You can pick up almost any Tomie dePaola book, but I have a soft spot for the Strega Nona collection and The Knight and the Dragon (which ends with said knight and dragon opening a BBQ joint--I did live in Memphis for a little while). And Eric Carle? If you don't know who that is, I'm not sure I can help you. You need to ask your parents for a redo on childhood. How do people survive without knowing about the Very Hungry Caterpillar?