Thursday, January 31, 2013

On the Homefront: The January Cure

There's a lot of that OMG going around here lately. Some of you may wonder what I'm up to when I'm not reading. And others of you don't give a poop, so don't stick around to read this post if you're one of those people. Just giving you fair warning that this is TOTALLY un-book-related.

These are the things that make me tick in life:

1. My child. He rocks. Age almost-three is gold.
2. My work. It does too. PRing and teaching!
3. Reading. Duh.
4. Food. Real food and cooking and stuff.
5. Home decor, cleaning, and general nest-making domesticity.

So, you need to know this shiz because I regularly post about books and whether or not I'm reading. I've recently begun to share my weight loss journey and my foray into real food choices. And NOW--drum roll--we're getting to the homey/domestic stuff. And we're getting into this, because lately it's been THE THING urging me away from books most often.

Many moons ago. Like in December, Vasilly mentioned Apartment Therapy's January Cure. This is an ongoing project throughout the month of January where one readies one's home for awesomeness through cleaning, organization, goal-setting, project-doing, and prettifying. There's a task for every day of the month, with the exception of weekends which are chore or project-related and tend to cover specific sections of the house.

Now, I am a rogue participant, so I haven't actually been doing the items in order, but I have been doing them when time and Other Things allow. Here's how the list has shaped up thus far. Strikes = DONE.

1. Make a list of projects in each room
2. Set up the Outbox
3. Weekend Chores: Buy Flowers,  Vacuum/Mop everything, Stock Green Cleaners, Use Outbox 
4. Sit in unusual places, observe problematic room parts, take apart and rebuild mentally
5. Select one project from the list
6. Choose a piece of art to frame
7. Choose a date/time for a get-together, send out e-invites
8. Weekend Chores: Clean kitchen and de-clutter/organize as you go; find a recipe and make an enjoyable meal; buy flowers
9. Create and use a “landing strip” – buy floor mat for doorway, coat hooks/hangers, landing strip (kitchen table)
10. Work on Goal Project
11. Media Fast
12. De-clutter books and media
13. Weekend Chores: flowers and bedroom including a purge of drawers (!!!) 
14. Get Files in Order (refer to e-mail to know what to keep)…get a file box! Set up a schedule for dealing with mail/bills.
15. Clean up cords!
16. Clear up and clean out bathrooms/medicine cabinets 
17. Living room lighting
18. Weekend: Flowers, clean up living room, clear out the Outbox!
19. Catch up and take an “after” photo! Pic of goal project.
20. Hang artwork.
21. Speedy spruce and surface clean.
22. Shop for get-together goodies.

The success for me (so far) was actually in creating a list of desired improvements or projects on that very first day. This has given me a really good road map to keep in mind as I'm getting my house in order.

A few things to know about my house...

  • It's oooooold. It loves sucking in dust through its nooks and crannies. 
  • Rooms: living room with an open/connected office, two bedrooms, two bath. Kitchen, too! 
  • I moved into my pad in June 2012. In about 7 months it's amazing how much we've "spread out" into the space. I was more or less a nomad for 10 years before this, so I acquired almost every stitch of furniture and decor in the last 7 months. Everything I had when I moved in was crammed into my mom's house.  I've decorated and furnished with LOTS of second-hand items, thriftiness  and getting/making stuff on the cheap. 
So I guess we should establish some BEFORE shots...

My living room and kitchen around Christmas. I SWEAR it's not always this bad. 

My living room and kitchen on a more normal occasion. You can see where clutter happens. 

Greyson's bedroom was SO sad and empty. He slept in a crib in the office. 

So we've now established my bad habits. When I moved into this house, I knew I'd have to live in it for a bit before I understood what needed improving/organizing/changing. And, BOY HOWDY do I know now! I don't have tons of storage anywhere, so cluttery mess happens around the corners of the living room and in spaces we don't regularly use. And the dining table! OH the dining table! And some of you may remember that my poor child was sleeping in a crib in my office because his rigged-up second-hand crib would not fit through the door of his room. 

Now, I'm just really teasing you at this point, because I have every intention of getting some serious mileage out of a series of posts about my January (and February) Cure. So I'm just going to show you one set of "afters" today. 



This seems to be the big project I picked when I started. I didn't really even mean to, except that it was time for my kid to get into a big boy bed, and I thought he deserved a cool room that he can enjoy. 

I'm really excited that my child's room no longer echoes!!! And it doesn't look like an asylum!!! Here's what happened...
  • Bought a bedroom set from Chuck--Greyson's daddio--including a nightstand, TV stand (currently used as storage in the closet), dresser, headboard. This also included a queen-sized mattress and box springs, and a bedframe. 
  • Oh, and I also got a really nice, free entertainment center from a friend (can't see it in these shots) for extra storage and a TV Greyson DOES NOT USE YET. 
  • Did the bed switcheroo and gave Greyson the full-size mattress and box springs that were in my bedroom. Took the BIG OLE QUEEN for me. He also inherited my linens which match his room.
  • Went on a shopping spree at Target! Got the green quilt, window toppers, lamp, decorative dinosaur pillow, and the artwork hanger behind the bed all for $120. 
Still to do:
  • Need to hang the headboard since it won't fit a full-size and don't want it falling!
  • Need a bedskirt (and maybe a bedframe...don't really care) to hid the ugly box springs. 
  • PAINT! This room will either be a camel color OR a light shade of blue. 
  • Hang some artwork I've collected for him that needs a frame.
  • Re-stick his super-awesome chalkboard bus decal somewhere on his walls. 
This weekend I have a lot of cleaning/organizing planned. As with most moms, I betcha, we put off our own spaces 'til the end. I'm tackling the master bedroom with reckless abandon! 

Have you set to your spring cleaning yet? Have any homey projects in mind? Let's tawk about it. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Panning Portnoy..or Another Snarky Review

I cannot force myself to finish this one. While I'm well-acquainted with Roth and his themes and his tropes, I just don't give much of a damn. 

Penises, guilt, more penises, aging, penises, sex, libido, guilt. A punch line. Uggh and uggh. 

He's nearly as tiresome in his stereotypical machismo as John Updike and that's enough for me to leave this one unfinished. I adored The Human Stain, I totally dug The Dying Animal, but Alexander Portnoy is just not my cup of anything. 

Humor, yes. Interesting, no.

Rating: 
Snuggle -- Skewer


Pub. Date: 1969
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780679756453
Source: Bought a gazillion years ago. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

I've Been a Bad, Bad Girl...NEW BOOKS!

So you know how I mentioned NOT needing to bring any additional books into the house??? Well, then, like a day later a buddy of mine let me pilfer through her stack of ARCs and some more books LEAPT into my arms, and we all came home, one bigger, happier family.

The new acquisitions are...

 

How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran, has gotten quite the mixed bag of reviews. Also, doesn't she look more than a little like she borrowed Helena Bonham Carter's stylist for the day? 

Drop Dead Healthy, by A.J. Jacobs, will go on the TBR right next to The Year of Living Biblically




Eight Girls Taking Pictures, by Whitney Otto, has a great cover!!! Shallow reason, I know, but whatev. Also, I really liked the film adaptation of Otto's book How to Make An American Quilt, so we'll see how her writing goes over. 

The Lost Art of Mixing, by Erica Bauermeister, is foodie fiction. Enough said. 


The Stockholm Octavo, by Karen Engelman, sounds atmospheric and mysterious. And I keep seeing reviews of it pop up all over, too. Might as well give it a go!

And finally, the ever-lovely Trish let me borrow her copy of B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger because I wasn't able to get ahold of it before our book club meeting. I'm a sucker for fiction involving art, so I'm really looking forward to this one (soon, very soon). 

What new beauties have wormed their way onto your shelves lately? Make me feel better. Go! Or maybe you've read some of my new acquisitions? Let me know what you thought. 

Currently Reading: Portnoy's Complaint...for what feels like forever.





Friday, January 25, 2013

Personally: A Weight Loss Journey, Making REAL FOOD Choices!

I posted a couple of weekends ago about my weight loss journey! I've lost about 40 pounds over the last year by making better food choices and really learning when I'm hungry (and only eating when I'm hungry).

The biggest hurdle for me has been making better food choices. For me, specifically, that means trying to eat less processed food. Now, this is the part where a disclaimer comes in. I have not managed to cut out ALL processed food. However, when I'm shopping, even if it's processed, I try to choose wisely.

Throughout this journey, I've found some great resources about eating "real" food. My favorite has been 100 Days of Real Food. This family has managed to cut out almost all of their processed foods, which I find absolutely inspiring. However, due to some limited shopping choices in my area--no Whole Foods, Central Market or Trader Joe's for well over 30 minutes in each direction--it's been about making continual adjustments that work for my family. I have taken some of her basic tenets to heart: look for fewer ingredients on labels (the less you can't pronounce, the realer the food). Eat MORE VEGETABLES. Think ahead and plan.

Ok, so I know you're ready for examples and strategry (it's a word now, thanks SNL).

1. I figured out the foods I cannot buy. Case in point, Doritos! I love them. I will eat the whole bag. I do not buy Doritos anymore unless it's a special treat or a mini bag. Talk about processed and FULL of salt. OMG.

2. I eat anything I want...in moderation, and preferably homemade. Pancakes, check! Muffins, check! Hamburgers, check! Stuff that is "bad" for us is far less bad when it's homemade with real ingredients. A muffin in a package is chock full of preservatives and preservatives are poison. This is the most basic tenet of my weight loss. I make my muffins homemade with great ingredients. Not nearly as "bad" as what I'd buy in a store. And cost effective!

Another problem of mine is having veggies on hand. We're bad about not eating them fast enough to avoid spoilage. Now I buy in bulk from a local veggie farmer and I immediately break the produce down to freeze when I get home or over the course of a weekend. Some items store well for extended periods of time, like onions or butternut squash in a cool, dry place.

I also opt for frozen veggies as opposed to canned -- less salt and other additives. I've found I can put a pile of frozen broccoli or cauliflower in a lunch container with my meat of choice, and by the time the whole thing is heated, the veggies have steamed and the meat is hot. Easy packing.

I have a veggie Pinterest board. One of the hardest things for me is keeping vegetables interesting. I depend on this.

Ever looked at a honey label??? One ingredient: honey. That's about as real as it gets. Try cutting the sugar required in a recipe by half and fill in with honey. I also use honey as my sweetener of choice in oatmeal and other foods where it's appropriate and will melt nicely.

Now it's time for you to try some real food recipes that you'll love. I've tried these out ahead of time, so trust me. :)


Pumpkin pancakes courtesy of Recipe.com. These have a small amount of sugar in them and there's nothing you can't pronounce in the batter. That's a huge improvement over boxed or bagged mixes. I'm one of those folks who likes a small amount of syrup (processed!), but I did say I haven't cut out all my processed -- just cut DOWN on a lot of it. You could also drizzle these with honey or top with fruit. I'm also a fan of sneaking any kind of veggie puree into my pancakes. The kiddo never knows the difference.


Healthy chicken gyros from The Girl Who Ate Everything! These were a lot of fun to make, the sauce was great on other dishes, and it doesn't get much realer. My kiddo even ate this up.






Broiled grapefruit!!! From someone brilliant!!! OK, so this one popped up on Pinterest, and I don't know where it originated. But this was seriously delicious. I've never been a big grapefruit fan, but with a little sprinkle of brown sugar, and a few minutes under my broiler, it was flavorful and delicious. I stuck it with a side of bacon for that sweet/salty contrast. Again, no processed except for a tiny amount of sugar. Even bacon is "real food."


I've made SO many more recipes than this, so you'll have to take a trip through my Pinterest boards...including my To Do Soon and Completed Pins. Not everything there is real food-centric, but many of them are.

While we've done much better eating real over the last year, I do have a couple of goals for 2013:

1. Cut down on refined sweeteners (Sweet-n-Low!). I default to this for my coffee, but if we're talking real food, regular sugar would probably be better for me (in moderation still).

2. Start buying locally/humanely/organically raised meats. It's more expensive, but given the moderation with which we eat meat, and the way I've taken to freezing stuff, I think we could swing it.

3. Re-institute veggie meals! For a long time I tried to eat vegetarian meals 2-3 days per week. This is an environmental thing, but it's also a real food thing. And it's an adventure!!!

4. Grow veggies!!! There are raised beds and seedlings in my future.

That's about all for today, but I'll be back with more once I organize my thoughts!!! Have you taken any steps toward eating more "real" food?

I have to say, since we started this, I have a keen sensitivity to canned/boxed/highly processed foods. Yuck and NO thank you!



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winters Respite Readathon



Consider me a readathonner this week! Seasons of Reading is hosting the Winter's Respite Read-a-thon, and it's very flexible and inviting. Read as much or as little as you can, for as long as you can!

I made a push to finish Gone Girl this week, and you saw how that turned out. I wanted to keep the general reading mojo going, so I made a random grab of my shelves last night and ended up with Philip Roth's seminal novel (such a play on words), Portnoy's Complaint.

Now, if you're at all familiar with this book, you've already sniggered. It's about a Jewish man, Alexander Portnoy, reflecting on his life from the therapist's couch and dealing with his guilt. Guilt in many forms...ethnic guilt, parental guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt! Roth deals with guilt a lot, and he also writes a lot about penises.

I'm just saying.

So far this book is a lot of raucous good fun, even if all the fluids are certainly not for everyone. I've laughed aloud several times, and I don't do that so much when I read. 50 pages down, and I hope to knock off more tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night. Wish me luck and happy reading, readathonners!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Which I Trounce GONE GIRL!

Ugh.

OK, so there's backstory here. My book club (with Trish!) read this book a few months ago. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the book by the time the group met. BUT I attended anyway. Mistake! While the whole book wasn't ruined for me, I learned a lot about the plot.

The twists are far less twisty when you already know in detail how absolutely frackin' psycho Nick and Amy Dunne are!

But everyone kept talking about the ending. The sometimes-labeled-as-unsatisfactory ending. I like twisty. I like ambiguous. I didn't think I'd have a problem with it.

Verdict: The ending sent me into a cursing rage.

Ugh.

Anyway, Nick and Amy Dunne look perfect. Amy disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary. Nick looks totally guilty as portrayed by the media and Amy's diary. Yadda yadda. Not everything is as it seems. REALLY not what it seems.

All that would've been fine if it wasn't such a slog. I found both Nick and Amy so repulsively ooky and crackpotty that I had a hard time enjoying the book. While I don't like my characters syrupy sweet and doing nothing, I like to be able to root for someone. AT SOME POINT! But I wanted both of these characters to go up in flames. A lot. And then it ended. And I wanted to strangle them. And the book. And throw it under a garbage truck. And take a shower.

Yeah.

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer (Impale, more like.)

Pub. Date: June 2012
Publisher: Crown
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780307588364
Source: Paid for and downloaded by moi.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book-splosion!!! All Over My House.

My books have been in storage. And now they're all in my house. And they're on display. And I AM OVERWHELMED!!!!

It's a good kind of overwhelmed but I'm still overwhelmed. It was sort of put into perspective for me when I separated out the books I've read and want to keep from the books I haven't read.

These are the books I've read and want to keep...

  

Two shelves of a three-shelf bookcase. Not too bad! These are books I would re-read or that I have taught, will teach, or that have sentimental meaning (signed, family heirlooms, etc.). 

Now we get to the sad part. ALL the unread books...




One entire (large) bookcase in my bedroom. The entryway tables inside my front door. The top of my entertainment center in the living room. Don't look at all the mess hovering around these beauties.

You know what this means, don't you? I HAVE TO READ WHAT I OWN!!!!

And that is not a bad fate. I've spent years collecting books I want to read. The premise(s) of which genuinely intrigue me.I've culled them over and over. I weed, I prune, I polish. These books, the ones that remain and are taking over my house, are all STELLAR-looking.

Now I must read them. And that is what I shall do. The buying embargo starts today!

Who's on this readerly diet in 2013? I'm sure I'm in good company.




 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Midwife of Hope River

There are few things more pleasurable in the reading life than sinking into a historical novel with a keen sense of place and lots of little daily-life details to get lost in. Plus, it's about midwifery, and I'm kind of obsessed with that.


Patience Murphy is a newish midwife in Appalachia in the 1920s and early 1930s. Her life is full of secrets and a complicated past that she hides from her closest friends and guards from the locals out of fear. While she works tirelessly, delivering children for every person at every social class, it's what she has to do to survive. 

This was one of the books recommended to me when I asked specifically for midwifery-related recommendations, and it did not disappoint. Appalachia during this time period was brutal in a number of ways: living conditions; unemployment; horrible working conditions, especially in mines and complicated by unions. Marriage and birth were equally treacherous at times, and this book is most certainly not chock-full of happy deliveries. Some happy deliveries, mind you, but some casualties, too.

The strength of this novel is the depth of character in Patience Murphy, and the colorful past that injects some additional interest and some additional issues into Harman's work. Admittedly, I'm not terribly well schooled on the conditions in mines during this time, and while I saw some familiar names, I'm not very well educated on the role of unions and union-related violence during this period. But it's something I'll be sure to research now!

I enjoyed Patience's relationship with her friend and midwife's assistant, Bitsy. She is an African American woman turned out of the home where she's originally employed, and Patience takes her in. She soon finds that Bitsy is able in every way--a great shot, great gardener, and a great help in her midwife's duties. From another perspective, it's a little disappointing to continue to see African American women as the sidekicks. Where's the book about the African American midwife during this time? They existed! Maybe someone will tell that story next.  But to smooth that over, I do have to say that Bitsy was Patience's equal in every way except through the eyes of the region. Without Bitsy as her friend and confidante, she would've had a lot of doors closed to her, and it would've been a very different book. There was lots of racism running rampant at this time, compounded by the dire state of employment and finances. The Ku Klux Klan (sort of) popped up in a pretty dramatic showdown at one point. 

Even though I've pointed out some issues that gave me pause and made me think (not a bad thing!), I really did enjoy the book SO much. I just can't get enough of historical novels that pick me up and set me down in another time period, in another life. Those will always be my favorites. Patricia Harman has definitely crafted one of those thoughtful, detailed books that carried me away into the pages. 

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer


Pub. Date: August 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0062198891
Source: A gift from the super-awesome Zibilee!





 

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday, Whatcha Reading?

Good morning, friends! Early-morning blogging over here. I haven't had coffee yet, so this will be short and straightforward.  Greyson spent the night with my mom because yesterday was PURE INSANITY. There was moving of furniture including the heaviest TV in all creation. I'm not kidding.

Chuck has been moving house, so I spent a good portion of my weekend making trips over there to help out, and also to move some things from his place and into mine. Namely...


Bookshelves!!!! I've been in my house for about 7 months, and this whole time my books have been packed up in bags and boxes in a closet. Now they get to stretch out and take their rightful places on the shelves. Woohoo! The house feels comfier already. 

Because I've been so busy doing house-oriented things, I've gotten less reading done, but hopefully I'll be able to force myself to SIT DOWN AND RELAX this week. :) A girl can hope, right? Hope, hope, hope. 

Currently reading:

Gone Girl, which is going a little slowwww for me. I think the crapola is about the hit the fan, though. I hope. Come on crapola. 

Next: 

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. Since Wicked was a favorite from 2012, I figure it's time to jump on the next in the series. 

Still need to review:

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman. Good good good stuff. 


Thanks to Sheila of BookJourney for hosting!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Personally: A Weight Loss Journey, Part 1 (and Weekend Cooking!)

Weekend Cook from Beth Fish Reads
When I left my job as an administrator and instructor at a Dallas career college last year (March), I was the heaviest I've ever been. I don't even want to put the number out there -- I'm still so ashamed. I had Greyson in 2010, and while I only gained about 15 pounds with him, and while I shucked those pounds pretty quickly, I kept eating as if I were pregnant. Whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with little regard for health, food quality, or portion control. I was also struggling emotionally in many respects, which I'm sure added to my weight gain and disregard for my health.

I've tried fad diets out the wahoo over the years because I've ALWAYS been overweight. Atkins, South Beach, and a handful of others, the names of which I can't even recall. Every time I tried those methods of weight loss, I felt deprived, constricted by the choices, and generally miserable. I went right back to my old habits.

But over the last year, some things have changed dramatically. I lost 40 pounds. I didn't really try. I didn't make any big resolutions or proclamations as I have before. Instead, I made small changes. Slow changes. And somehow my weight loss journey is well on its way, and it's been a quiet, introspective journey. One I've kept to myself, for the most part.

Looking back, I don't think there was any one "aha" moment. But I did decide to do a couple of things and they've made all the difference. And it just sort of happened. It wasn't a one-day decision.

1. Eat only when I'm really hungry. Sadly, it took me a while to learn what real hunger felt like and as I made that discovery, I figured out what it means to feel yucky when I'm too full.

2. I've tried to slowly reduce the amount of processed foods in my life.

The rate at which I lose weight has picked up a lot since I moved into my house back in June. I stopped trying to lose weight, and I started trying to eat healthy food.  

I know you're thinking, "like, duh." But it hasn't been easy for me. I was raised on chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and Little Debbie squares! Am I blaming my upbringing? Heck no. But I was one of those people who was not raised to read food labels, I was surrounded by homegrown garden veggies (which I totally took for granted), and I never thought about food much. I just ate it. And ate it. And ate it. And my tastes ran toward the processed and horrible.

Throughout my teaching career I've tried to bring a lot of current events and social issues into my classroom. One of those issues, beginning back in 2009, was food quality and the ethics of food. Spurred by my reading of books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Why Animals Matter--as well as documentaries like Food, Inc. and Super Size Me--I started learning and talking about these issues. I couldn't help but become more cognizant of what I was consuming. For a long time I was aware, but I wasn't ready to make a change. Admittedly, that has happened over time and with more reading and viewing under my ever-loosening belt.

With a space of my own and total control of my shopping list, I've made this change. I've internalized the new knowledge and parlayed it into a much healthier lifestyle.

Over the next couple of weekends I hope to share with you some of the changes I've made, share some of my favorite recipes, and get feedback and ideas from you.

I don't have all the answers. I don't even have a third of the answers, but I know what's worked for me. And the funny thing is, I didn't even realize it as it was happening. I literally did not register my weight loss until family and friends started to point out that my face was looking thinner, my clothes were getting baggier, and I look goooood. For the first time in my life, this hasn't been about weight loss. It's been about health. It's made all the difference. The journey is nowhere near its conclusion, but it's a fun journey now. A healthy, productive, good-time adventure.

I hope you'll join me and share some of your tips and tricks for healthy living over the next few weeks!


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Few Leftovers from 2012

So I made a last-minute rally on New Year's eve and tried to cram in some more reading. I also had one book left un-reviewed from the previous weeks, so you get minis! 


Ella Minnow Pea takes place on the fictional island of Nollopton, off the South Carolina coast. The island is named Nevin Nollop, the guy who came up with the linguistic marvel, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," one of the shortest sentences in English to use all 26 letters with minimal repetition. The residents of the island are linguistically advanced and put language on a pedestal. Until the letters of the sentence, stuck to a cenotaph, begin to fall off!!! Then the government decides to expunge those letters from their language as the falling of the letters must be a sign from the great Nollop himself from beyond the grave. 

It sounds all light-hearted and fun, but this is a timely satire. With gun control  and healthcare debates waging this book really offers an interesting take on civil rights, freedom of speech, and lots of other big issues. The once-peaceful island essentially becomes a police state over a philosophical and linguistic cause. Really poignant stuff. 

The book is arranged in epistolary format, which grated on my nerves a bit by the end of the book. I did think it was clever of Dunn to exclude the fallen letters of the alphabet as the book progressed. By the end of the book it was quite hard to read as residents had to write to one another phonetically using the leftover letters or use similar-sounding words to their intended word choices. 

For a really lovely, sophisticated review of this one, check out Aarti's Musings over at BookLust


Deceptively Delicious is a cookbook authored by Jessica Seinfeld (though I could care less about the near-celeb authorship). Basically, it's about sneaking veggies past our kids to introduce more nutrition into their lives. The basic idea is that one prepares any number of veggie purees, mostly in 1/2 cup servings, and they can be easily incorporated into the recipes. 

I realize some parents detest the idea of "sneaking" veggies past their kids. But, for some of us, this is a very real problem. The truth of the matter is that I "sneak" veggies past Greyson as often as humanly possible. I also present vegetables to him in a straightforward, "there they are on the plate" kind of way, too. But if he's not eating the straightforward veggies, a mama's gotta improvise. 

I'm really interested to try several recipes in this book -- for Greyson and for myself! There's everything from hamburgers to pasta dishes to desserts (brownies with beets and spinach!). I do wonder with only about 1/2 to 1 whole cup of veg in a given recipe how much good it's doing? But, I also know that I pack in the nutrition wherever I can -- Greyson gets green smoothies that he loves, and I haven no problem getting him to eat fruit. It's a fun cookbook, and I hope our family will really dig the recipes. 


The final book is barely a book, but it was a quick, practical read. The Little Book of Living Frugal by Dr. Charlotte Gorman is full of tips for ongoing frugality. Truthfully, I already do most of these. I shop for long-wearing clothes that I can use in multiple ways. I save gas when I can by making fewer, shorter trips. Not much new information here, but it was a nice reminder for the new year as student loans are kicking back in

So that's my reading to cap of 2012. As I mentioned in my Faves of the Year post, it wasn't a big year by the numbers, but overall I was consistently happy with the quality of my reading, and that's the biggest battle!

Did you squeeze any books into the final hours of the year? 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

TSS - The Read-a-Thon Cometh

First, a short personal interlude. Feel free to skip on down...

I went to the doctor about three or four weeks ago for a hacking cough. At the time I didn't have too many symptoms other than the cough itself. I was a wee bit congested, and my doc went ahead and prescribe a "Z pack" of antibiotics. I felt better for about a week before a whole new set of cold symptoms set in. Now I have a full-blown sinus infection, a steroid shot under my belt, and ten days of antibiotics in my future. Woo.

I'm just ready to feel better. I've been since since I started my new job and I'm sure they're about ready for me not to look or act like a zombie.

So this interlude of illness has most certainly derailed any feel good reading. I have about 20 pages left in The Midwife of Hope River, and I can't wait to polish it off. A great book to start the year.

After that, I have to zip through Gone Girl. Heather and I were reading that one together, but a busy schedule and the whole feeling like death thing kind of got in the way and she finished last week.

Finally, we're getting the Estella Society geared back up and ready for the new year. PLEASE if you'd like to submit your writing, go on and do it! If you need ideas, check out these general ones to get your brain churning.


Oh, and do you remember that little Read-a-Thon Heather and I helped host in October??? Well we have a date for the April one! To be announced in the coming week (Thursday or Friday). You can also catch the announcement by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

We ended up with around 485 participants in October, and we're really hoping to trump those numbers in April. I think we can do it with ALLLLLL of your help!

What have you been reading? Anything I should add to my stacks?