Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Thirty Two

Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it?
knee; fell over a fence I was climbing when I was little

What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?
the birth of my son and the finding of my husband

Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves.
Sandra Lee and all the people on the top half of the TV Guide channel

Main Course
What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")?
I called spaghetti "hoppagoppi" and cucumbers were "mazhaboops." That was when I was two or three. I just made them up, no idea why. But now I see Little Guy making up words and speaking in made up languages sometimes and cracking himself up with it.

Fill in the blank: I have always thought __a Coke float___ was __one of the best desserts possible__.

Friday Fiver

Easy as the breeze (an old one)

1. How's your weather?
back to chilly again; 40s during the day, 30s at night; very sunny days lately

2. What can you hear right now?
M. making hot chocolate and watching that Discovery channel show "Man vs. Wild" or whatever. Happily I don't hear Toddler singing and talking in his crib anymore--he's gone to sleep.

3. Do you like to spy on people?
Not really, but I have been known to do my fair share of eavesdropping

4. When is the last time you had to prove yourself?
I feel like I'm in the throes of this now, with my new work-at-home job. My training hasn't been the best, but I think it's reflecting badly on me--making it seem as though I don't know what I'm doing because I'm stupid, and not because no one will go over what I'm supposed to do.

5. What would you like to take back?
mean comments I've made to M. over the years

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Personal Geology 101

In graduate school, in a course called Creative Nonfiction (also called Literary Nonfiction and has since become a very favorite genre of mine), I first learned of John McPhee. What I love about him is how eclectic he is with his subject matter and how fascinating everything becomes through his writing. Although he doesn't insert himself into his narrative as much as more recent writers in this genre (Tony Horwitz, Bill Bryson) his curiosity, interest, and fascination with what he's learning turns any subject into a highly readable, almost novel-like experience. Whatever you're reading suddenly becomes something you've always wanted to know about but just hadn't realized it before. If you're not much into nonfiction, but want to be, he's a good place to start.

So Annals of the Former World is a compilation of five previously published works on geology. They have appeared in book form and in The New Yorker. That's why the book is 660 pages. I'm only on 131. Little Guy's giving up of naptimes has really cut into my reading time.

I can now name all of the time periods in the Paleozoic Era (from oldest to most recent): Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous (Mississipian and Pennsylvanian) and Permian. (That was from memory).

The Mesozoic Era is: Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous

I don't know the Cenozoic Era but it starts with the Paleocene and ends with the Holocene which is what we're in now.

Some other interesting bits: the top of Mt. Everest is marine limestone. The Himalayas are still getting taller, as they are still being pushed up by the tectonic plate under India. He's also touched on silver mining, the extensive histories that can be read in roadcuts along America's highways, how plate tectonics gained acceptance a long, long time after its initial proposal, what the terrain of America looked like millions of years ago (for example, the west coast ended at the Utah/Nevada border once and there were tropical jungles in what is now the midwest.) And I had no idea Nevada was so mountainous. I've never been there.

So What Can I Tell You?

Well, you know those little Pillsbury books they sell at the checkouts of grocery stores? Like they'll have the Bake-Off theme, or Fall Desserts, or whatever. A few months ago I bought the Mexican Meals one and just made the Easy Strawberry Margarita Dessert. Soooo good. And it's all mine because Little Guy (formerly known as Toddler) can't have it (allergies) and M. doesn't like fruity berry desserts. I didn't think it worthy of a picture, and I'm not going to drag my pregnant self 10 feet to the kitchen to get the recipe, but it's something like frozen strawberries, thawed (I used mixed berries because I had them), frozen margarita or daiquiri mix, thawed, one can of sweetened condensed milk, mixed together. Then you fold in whipped cream. I used Cool Whip Lite to feel better about the whole thing, even though nothing beats real whipped cream and Cool Whip kind of tastes like band-aids to me. All of this gets poured onto a pretzel crust (I don't like pretzels so I made a graham cracker crust) and then frozen. Not only does it taste really good, but it's so pretty. It's all raspberry and cream colored and swirly and pretty. There's more to life than just gourmet and fancy stuff. Why be a food snob? Embrace the Rachael Ray inside every now and then.

OK, what else? With our dinner tonight (ham, potatoes au gratin, brussels sprouts sauteed in oil and garlic--how's that for low-brow, textbook housewife blogging?) I made a really good cornbread. The reason this is noteable is because I use the Betty Crocker plain old recipe from the red spiral-bound book we all know and love but I substitute Smart Balance Light for the butter, soy milk for the milk, and egg replacer for the egg and it still turns out SO great. Some recipes are not very adaptable to these kinds of substitutions, but this one is wonderful.

I've decided to stop complaining about the short winter we've had. This little taste of spring (62° yesterday and today) has made me realize that warm weather is quite uplifting and fun. I know it's going to dip back down again and we might have a cold March, but that's OK. Also, I've been terrified by global warming and learning that this year has had the least snow here since the winter of 1918-1919 made me feel a little better.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Blah Winter, Early Spring

So the news says that in about two weeks, we'll start to have higher than average temperatures again. What?! We've only had about a month of actually cold winter! That's not enough for me. And to make matters worse, almost every single blog I read talks about being snowed in and freezing, while posting numerous pictures of the icy and snowy trees. Well, no snow here. I think we had one tiny day of flurries. This is no kind of winter. This is the only blog that makes me feel better about my winter. I mean, yes, it's been in the 20s and 30s all this month and some of January, but I needed more. I remember the good old days when I actually needed a winter coat and there were snow days and I actually needed covers at night (but that's probably because I wasn't pregnant). Anyway, I'm sitting here eating my Ben & Jerry's coffee ice cream and thinking maybe I should just embrace it. I saw about 10 minutes of the movie Aquamarine yesterday and those girls looked all cute and summery and I thought, Hey, warm weather's not so bad. But I do like it better when it's in the right season.


Friday's Feast

One Hundred & Thirty One

What sound, other than the normal ringing, would you like your telephone to make?
Ringing's Ok

Describe your usual disposition in meteorological terms (partly cloudy, sunny, stormy, etc.)
Sunny with a chance of clouds

What specific subject do you feel you know better than any other subjects?
general books; cake decorating/baking; things Toddler says and does and the reasons behind his actions

Main Course
Imagine you were given the ability to remember everything you read for one entire day. Which books/magazines/newspapers would you choose to read?
This is daunting. Maybe one issue of Bookmarks magazine, the most recent Sunday NY Times, A Short History of Nearly Everything with parts of Annals of the Former World, a Spanish textbook. I don't know. I wish I could remember everything I read.

If a popular candy maker contacted you to create their next confection, what would it be like and what would you name it?
I'll get back to this one. I have to read Where is Little Harry? by Graham Philpot to Toddler right now.


Book Meme. . . with a key!

I know you really don't want to read another long list of books and whether or not I've read them, but then again, maybe some of you will, since I was interested enough to read some done by others. But, of course, as with any meme, it sounded fun and how could I resist a meme with a key to refer to? Like a map. I love maps.
Saw this meme on Classical Bookworm


Books I've read
Books I want to read
Books I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole
Books on my bookshelves
? Books I've never heard of
# Books I've seen in movie or TV form
! Books I've blogged about
Books I'm indifferent to

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. # Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. # Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. # The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. # The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. # The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. # Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. ? Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. # Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)(I own it in Spanish and English, but I read it in English)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. # Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. # The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. # Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. # Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. # The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. # The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41.The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45.Bible (parts)
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. # The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48.Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52.A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54.# Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. ? The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. # The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62.The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. # Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. ? Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. # Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. # Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. # The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. ? The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. # The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. ? Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. ? Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. # Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. ? Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. ? Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. # The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. ? A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Labels: ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Nonfiction, Cakes, and Rugs

I said (maybe just to myself) that I really shouldn't sign up for any more challenges. The reason being that I've never finished one and my reading is very eclectic and unplanned. Another reason is, that book I'm reading right now? Annals of the Former World? is HUGE. And dense. And all about geology. It's gonna take awhile. BUT there is a challenge on the horizon. A challenge I'm not sure I can resist. It's a nonfiction challenge and you can find out about it here at Thoughts of Joy. When I first noticed a new challenge in the air, on Cam's blog, and before I knew the details, I thought, No way, baby due first week in March. But then I looked at the source and found out that this challenge doesn't start until May. Well, May is a different story. And I do often read nonfiction. I could count the one I'm reading now (because it'll take me until May to finish it) and there is another nonfiction I'm curious about that I saw on A Garden Carried in the Pocket called Written in Bones: How Human Remains Unlock the Secrets of the Dead edited by Paul Bahn. Jenclair discusses it here. So that's two. And there are other John McPhee's and Stephen Jay Gould's I want to read. But here's what will happen. Say I read the first two books I have planned. Then I'll want to read fiction or something will make me go off on a tangent. I would have until September, but I don't know. Sure is tempting.

In other news, I made French buttercream today for the first time in a long time. It was surprisingly easy and fast. I guess I'm getting the hang of it and feeling comfortable with it now. It pays to do things many times. Hey! Let's call this phenomenon I just discovered, practice! I'm making some kind of Valentine cake tomorrow plus vegan mini-cakes, probably heart-shaped. The main cake will also have something to do with white chocolate ganache. It'll either be filled with it or decorations piped with it.

New rug coming tomorrow. Yay! We have to have wall-to-wall unless we put in our own hardwood because we live in crappy 1980s-built builder-grade crap. It's not all that bad, actually, but it sure looks crappy when you pull up the existing carpet and then have to walk on subflooring with the big ring stains from the builders' 5-gallon buckets of whatever.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Two Meme

Took this from Adrienne at Bookmark My Heart.

Two names you go by: my first name and Mommy

Two things you are wearing right now: maternity shirt and pajama pants

Two places you want to go on vacation: Puerto Rico and England

Two things you are thinking about now: craving wedding cake and whether or not to eat another chocolate pudding cup

Two favorite animals: horses and owls

Two reasons you’re doing this survey: easy post for nighttime and it looked fun

Spell your name without vowels: Cmll

How many pairs of jeans do you own? Three maternity jeans, none of which I can fit into anymore; I can't even discuss my normal person jeans

What color(s) do you wear most often? burgundy, blue, brown?

What’s for dinner tonight? chicken paillards on salad greens with balsamic vinaigrette and baked potatoes with sour cream, butter, broccoli, cheese

Are you happy with your life right now? yes

[Do you own a…}

- PS2: No

- XBOX: No

- PSP: No

- Gamecube: No

- Digital Camera: Yes

In what state or country did you go to school after high school? Virginia--six hours away from home

What stores do you shop at? Right now, Motherhood Maternity, Target maternity, JCPenney maternity, Mimi Maternity, and a little bit of Sears maternity; also Kroger, Kohl's, Borders, B&N, TJ Maxx

How do you make money? part-time work from home bookkeeper/database manager

Last thing you bought? decaf caramel latte and chocolate chip cookie from Panera Bread

How’s the weather? pretty cold, 30s/40s; maybe snow Tuesday

Do you own big sunglasses? no, but I need some

What should you be doing right now? eating pudding and going to bed

Who did you hug today? my toddler

How many beds did you lay in yesterday? one

What color shirt are you wearing? navy blue

Name one thing that you do everyday: eat

What color are your bedroom walls? green

How much cash do you have on you right now? I think $19 in my wallet

What’s your favorite sport? yuck

When was the last time you saw your dad? two hours ago

What did you have for dinner last night? chicken pot pie

What’s your favorite Starbucks drink? vanilla latte or caramel macchiatto

Recent time you were really upset? a few nights ago when my husband asked me to edit an article he had to write for his work newsletter and then got mad at me because he thought I changed too much


Friday, February 09, 2007

Better Mood

Hi! Feeling much happier today. No more pregnant lady rants, I promise.

So I had to take Toddler with me to a meeting today about learning my new job as bookkeeper for local writers organization. He was SO good. I couldn't believe it. We were there two hours, and the woman I was meeting with was in and out, but Toddler sat at his own desk and did a Dora watercolor book, a truck sticker book, drank a juice, had Valentine gummy candy, watched a long, long train go by out the window, took my pens and wouldn't let me use them, told the woman I was meeting with that he was "getting a lot of work done," never tried to leave the room, and never cried. And, as an added little bonus for me, he didn't poop. It would have been really embarrassing to have to interrupt the board meeting going on in the main room (we were in a little adjacent office) by leaving with a fussy, stinky Toddler and then coming back in. And then, And then! he went to bed so nicely tonight. And I was going to go to bed at 9:00, but then I watched What Not To Wear, and then I was going to go to bed at 10, but then I sat down here and started catching up on blogs a little bit, and now it's 10:45 and here I am. So with that, Que Tengas Buenas Noches!

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Falling Down?

You know that movie with Michael Douglas where he has the crew cut and glasses and he's really mad and wants to shoot everyone? That's how I feel. Is "Falling Down" right? I'm going to attribute it to being hugely pregnant (baby will be born first week in March), feeling waddly and huge and like I can barely walk, yet having to trek up and down the stairs all day and drag Toddler to change his diaper and schlep the laundry baskets, etc. I know people have issues with the "pregnant woman" parking spaces (I've only ever seen and used one) but when you're nine months along, I say SCREW EVERYONE NOT PREGNANT AND LET ME PARK CLOSE!! I really probably wouldn't use those spaces if I were less than seven months pregnant, but when you feel like your bladder is going to fall out when you walk and a HUGE creature is squirming around in there and all your lower ligaments are stretched beyond capacity (capability?), walking far with grocery bags is hard.

Also, last Saturday I had this horrific gastro-intestinal bug (you know, violent vomiting, etc. need I say more?) all night and into the next day. I ended up being admitted to the hospital all day Sunday for the abdominal pains from this bug, deydration, and subsequent contractions caused by the dehydration. I was on bedrest when I got home. But when I get home, my mom, who has stayed with Toddler all day tells me, "Your house is not cozy; it's crappy. It's so messy and too small and you need to move." Really? Is this not ALL everyone's been talking about for the past year? Yes, we know we've outgrown our house but does she realize we just converted a guest room/storage room to a nursery? Everything that was in that room and closet has not been dealt with yet! Plus we got a new TV armoire for downstairs and so moved the old one upstairs and had to rearrange our room a little bit, and yes, stuff has surfaced that I haven't dealt with yet!

OK, I shall not continue in this vein. It's too negative and naptime is almost over. First time in three days that there even is a naptime. Oh, right, I was done.

P.S. Finished Le Guin's The Other Wind which means I have now read all six Earthsea books. Man, did I love those. I thought about and thumbed through The Handmaid's Tale but decided not read it while pregnant. I'm too on edge and sensitive these days. (At the Little Gym today, all the two-year-olds had to line up on the white line on this thing called the Air Track that gets blown up and then they can jump on it. They all were just sitting there in a row, legs straight out in front of them, wide eyes, kind of nervous and expectant as to when the thing would start filling up, and I got tears in my eyes just looking at them. I also almost cried during the Teletubbies yesterday, if that says anything about my state of mind.) So I started John McPhee's Annals of the Former World, a geology and natural history book I've been wanting to read for a while. I figure I'm pretty safe from crying and freaking out over rocks.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday's Feast

Feast 129

What was one of the fashion fads when you were a teenager?
Pants called Skidz or something like that--they were a very thin cotton with a drawstring waist and when you "French cuffed" them at the bottom, they sort of ballooned out. And they were usually a plaid, I think. Mine had a magenta sort of color in them and my friend, Kristin, had teal and somehow we always wore them on the same day without planning it.

Name one thing you think people assume about you when they first meet you.
I think people think I'm nerdy or just generally "not cool." I think this is left over from high school, where it wasn't that big of an issue anyway, but, you know, these things have an effect.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how hard do you work?
generally speaking, housework, maybe a 5; taking care of Toddler, maybe 9; when I was teaching, maybe 8-10.

Main Course
If you were given a free 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl to sell anything you currently own, what would you advertise?
cakes? But then I'd have to start making cakes for customers and I don't feel like I have the time to devote right now.

Fill in the blank: I love to ___________ when it is ____________.
I love to read during the day when it is snowing.