Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book #52

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

And just like that I'm finished! Full wrap up and list of my top ten favorites for the year to come tomorrow.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Book #51

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I started another Stephanie Plum novel but decided to check out a few pages of this book on the Kindle app on my phone before going to sleep last night. Once I began I couldn't put it down. It's consumed my day and is, hands down, one of the greatest books I've ever read. I'm not a book reviewer so it always seems silly to write more than a sentence or two about one of my selections but this novel? Oh my goodness. I'm embarrassed it took so long for me to discover it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book #49

One of my all time favorite books. It's just as wonderful as I remembered.

“It seems to me that we can’t explain all the truly awful things in the world like war and murder and brain tumors, and we can’t fix these things, so we look at the frightening things that are closer to us and we magnify them until they burst open. Inside is something that we can manage, something that isn’t as awful as it had a first seemed. It is a relief to discover that although there might be axe murderers and kidnappers in the world, most people seem a lot like us: sometimes afraid and sometimes brave, sometimes cruel and sometimes kind.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Book #48

Was this really badly written? Yes. Because it's the book version of watching a cheesy Lifetime/Hallmark/ABCFamily Christmas movie. I couldn't help myself.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Oh dear internet, I'm pretty sure I've hit the bottom of the barrel of my dignity with this choice. I don't even care anymore, I don't think.

There are two things I've been pretty obsessed with this past year: books and TV shows. This year I've watched all seasons of Justified, Parks and Recreation, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and probably more that I can't think of. And I developed a love for a genre I didn't even know I liked, the procedural crime drama. First I became obsessed with Bones and promptly watched all episodes. And when I ran out of those I was told I should watch Castle. So I did and am terribly obsessed with that one as well.

Long story short, Heat Wave is the first in a series of companion novels for that show. It's like glorified fan fiction with an ABC seal of approval. And it's not very great.

Yet I have no shame.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book #46

I've been meaning to read One for the Money by Janet Evanovich all year long. I've checked out the library's ancient copy at least four times with the intent to introduce myself to Stephanie Plum but I could never make myself do it. Can I make a weird book confession? If a paperback is too old and tattered (like not the good kind of old and tattered, just the gross kind) I can't bring myself to read it. It's why I usually stick to the new arrival shelf. So anyway, long story short I downloaded it to my Kindle because it's Christmas and as a concession to not asking for a Kindle Fire I've decided I can use gift cards to purchase all the books I want.

And I picked this one because I really wanted to read the book before I saw the movie.

The plus side is I'm officially addicted and excited that I have 17 more Plum novels (plus Christmas novellas) to catch up on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Spirit

I often neglect this blog when I have lots of other things going on but I'm back now. I've spent the last two weeks nursing my poor mother back to health after she contracted MRSA. (Right? Crazy? It totally was.) It's been an ordeal. I'm trying to re-discover the Christmas spirit this week before the holidays begin this weekend.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot Chocolate. Though I try every year to be an egg nog kind of person.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? When Santa was still visiting my house he just sat out the presents. Often assembled and ready to play. My parents bought tons of presents each year so it was always a living room FULL of toys. In retrospect this is a bit ridiculous but at the time? SO MAGICAL. Now I wrap everything. I love unwrapping gifts.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? - I like white lights for the most part.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? - Nope.

5. When do you put your decorations up? - Thanksgiving weekend. Thought this year it seems there are still boxes full of things to put out. Oh well.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? - Ham and hashbrown casserole. Christmas is all about the cheesy potatoes for me. And homemade Chex Mix.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? - In 1994 we brought my brother home from the hospital on Christmas Eve to a house full of well wishers. My entire extended family came over and brought Christmas dinner and presents. He was truly the best Christmas gift ever. I'm so thankful to have a sibling.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? - I was around 8 or 9 I think. I had it figured out for a while but I didn't want the magic to stop.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? - Yes. My dad grew up opening every single one of his presents on Christmas Eve so my parents compromised their traditions by allowing for a few presents to be opened the night before. My dad still lobbies each year for us to open all of them on Christmas Eve though. He's never gotten his way.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? - It really depends. Some years we do white lights, others multi-colored. Mostly it's sentimental ornaments but I've done fancy trees in the past too.

11. Snow! love it or dread it? - Let's be honest, I don't love winter and I don't really look forward to ice or snow. I don't mind a snow day but I hate when it's slippery and I have to actually leave the house.

12. Can you ice skate? - I would never even attempt such nonsense. I can't stand ice.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? - My brother totally counts, right? Other than that goober I really enjoyed my barbie convertible power wheels car and a kitchen set.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? - Having the time after a long year for relaxation and reflection.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? - I'm constantly switching things up and rarely make the same things two years in a row so I really don't know that I have a favorite.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? - Baking and movie watching.

17. What tops your tree? - A bow.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? - Both. Of course I love giving. But c'mon, who doesn't love being on the receiving end of the perfect gift?

19. Candy canes: yuck or yum? - Double yum. Peppermint is one of my favorite flavors.

20. Favorite Christmas movie? - Christmas Vacation. At last count we've watched it four times this season. I am Clark Griswold.
Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to.
Clark: When have I ever done that?
Ellen: Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations...
21. Saddest Christmas song? - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- preferably the Judy Garland version from Meet Me in St. Louis. This song has made me ugly cry. Not even kidding.

22. What is your favorite Christmas song? - See the aforementioned. It's perfect.

Christmas Card 2011
this year's Christmas card

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book #44

While I've made no secret my love of the dystopian YA novel this year I have to say that with Crossed I've really exceeded my quota. No more. At least until next year. I didn't love the first book in this series, Matched but I still wanted to give the next one a try. There wasn't improvement. I thought Crossed was incredibly boring. Which is a bummer because I hate wasting my time with boring books.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book #42

A few people had told me that since I enjoy YA Fiction I should read Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. So I did, and I didn't love it. I'm not even sure I liked it that much. The plot was lacking and the character development was poor, if not non-existent. I, shock of all shocks, actually preferred the movie in this instance. And we all know that should NEVER happen.

{10 more books and 22 days to go.}

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book #40

Gas station coffee and book #40.
Divergent by Veronica Roth

I can't believe I made it to Book #40. Only 12 books to go and 34 days in the year left to read them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book #39

Book #39.

"A long, hot summer with Leonard in his un-air-conditioned apartment, followed by two months in their unit at Pilgrim Lake, had given Madeleine a good idea of what it would be like to be “married to manic depression.” At first, the drama of their reconciliation had over shadowed any difficulties. It was a rush to be needed the way Leonard needed her. As the summer wore on, however, and Leonard didn’t noticeably improve—and especially after they moved to Cape Cod and he seemed, if anything, worse—Madeleine began to feel suffocated. It was as if Leonard had brought his hot, stuffy little studio apartment with him, as though that was where he lived, emotionally, and anyone who wanted to be with him had to squeeze into that hot psychic space too. It was as if, in order to love Leonard fully, Madeleine had to wander into the same dark forest where he was lost. There comes a moment, when you get lost in the woods, when the woods begin to feel like home."

-Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I came, I saw, I wrestled a bird.

We had a small gathering at my parents' house for Thanksgiving and then took extra trays of food to my aunt and uncle.

I spent Wednesday baking pies and making desserts and rolls.

Pumpkin pies are ready for the oven.

I need a new roll recipe before Christmas, though. They were pretty but the texture was off and has been for the last few batches. Such a bummer.

I made turkey, ham, dressing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, homemade turkey gravy (a first for me, I've been mastering various gravies all year long and felt confident enough to attempt turkey sans recipe this year), broccoli casserole, baked beans, and deviled eggs.

And by the end of the evening I looked over and Molly had a seat at the table.

I looked over and Molly was at the dinner table.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Book #38

Book #38

I'm off all this week because of Thanksgiving. (Yay for paraeducator schedules! Boo for paraeducators salaries.) I'm hoping to use the extra time off to make a significant push toward 52 books. My local library had a ton of books I'd been hoping to read this year on their new arrival shelf on Saturday so I have lots of material to work with these next few days.

A fellow bookish friend recommended The Night Circus to me a while back. I was so excited to see my library carrying a copy. It did not disappoint. It's a visually stunning novel. (Is that possible? I'm going to assume it is.) I couldn't help but think of what a beautiful film it would make.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book #37

Two books in one day! Elizabeth Street is a novel based on true events surrounding a family of Italian immigrants at the turn of the century. The book was by no means the greatest I've ever read. I think a reviewer on Good Reads hit the nail on the head when she said she felt the book fell into the typical immigrant story cliches. It was a nice tale nevertheless and I did enjoy deciphering the various Italian phrases sprinkled throughout the novel.

Book #36

I've long admired Ashley Judd. I still regret turning down an opportunity to attend a campaign event she was hosting in Louisville a couple of years ago. Her worldview is fascinating to me, her charitable work is inspiring, and we attended the same college. This memoir was a mixture of stories about her childhood, her recovery from codependency, and rich chapters about the work she does with women across the globe in her capacity as an ambassador for YouthAIDS.

Her struggle with recovery and her reflections of a childhood with Appalachian grandparents really resonated with me.

"Best of all was when Mamaw and I would gather up all the soft pillows from the bedrooms and make a nest on her bed. She would cut off the air-conditioning, as I do today. Cuddling on her bed, we would play cards, giggle, sing ditties, or just listen to the katydids chirping in the Kentucky twilight. That downy, soft bed was the high altar of my childhood."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Although I'm sure you've seen this

I can't stop watching.

Who doesn't enjoy a little Biggie Smalls when they're having a bad day?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book #35

Like Sarah, Plain and Tall this book was another that I've had to read in order to not look like a total idiot in front of a group of 2nd graders. Maybe it's cheating by counting it toward my reading goal. I don't care. I'll read Game of Thrones or something else that's gigantic to make up for all of the puny books lately.

P.S. For what it's worth, How to Eat Fried Worms was not my favorite when I was forced to read it with my class in 3rd grade. I'm still pretty meh about it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Great Disney Deal

A while back I talked about planning a Disney World vacation. I still think about going all the time. Which is so strange because I never really had a desire to go as a kid. Anyway, I thought I'd pass on this great deal Disney has going on right now. If you book before December 17 you can get a free dining plan with your package for stays in January thru March. I have lots of decisions to make about school to make this month since a program I'm interested in begins in January so I don't know if I'll be able to take advantage of this. But, I thought it might interest some of my readers!

I've read free dining plans are something frequent Disney visitors hope for and rave about. It really does save you tons of money during your stay and takes the stress of buying food off your hands. Seriously, free food? It really is the happiest place on earth.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

No YA Shame

I had to share this picture from this lovely blog.

I remember from my middle school years until her death during my senior year of high school my grandma used to read a lot of the same books I did. It didn't click then but I know now it's because Grandma knew what was up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book #34

Don't let the cover or title fool you. I promise I was recommended this book by actual smart and bookish people and it was a pretty decent read. (Don't you love my two sentence reviews? Good lord...)

This makes #18 out of 34 books this year that have been YA Fiction. I'm sensing a pattern.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book #33

From Dracula to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It's been a strange day of reading. LOVED it though. Another one of those books I'm not sure why I've never read before.

“I couldn’t understand the Herdmans. You would have thought the Christmas story came right out of the F.B. I. files, they got so involved in it–wanted a bloody end to Herod, worried about Mary having her baby in a barn, and called the Wise Men a bunch of dirty spies. And they left the first rehearsal arguing about whether Joseph should have set fire to the inn, or just chased the innkeeper into the next country.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book #32

It took me a week to finish reading Dracula. I had a little trouble getting into it and I started several other books in the process due to my own attention span issues. I did end up liking it. However, reading it reminded me that I don't necessarily enjoy epistolary novels all that much.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book #31

I've been reading Stuart Little after lunch each day with one of my 2nd grade classrooms but I've never read it before now. I think I was too busy devouring Beverly Cleary, Ann Martin and Judy Blume books at that age to take a second look at a book about a mouse. I took some time this morning to finish it during my off day.

Should I ever teach I would most likely pursue the logical (and easiest) option and get my middle and secondary certification in social studies but I've found this time with elementary school children to be a fun way to catch up on some of the children's fiction I seem to have missed as a kid.

This also adds to my E.B. White selections for the year. If you'll remember book #22 was Charlotte's Web. I might have to round out the trifecta with The Trumpet of the Swan before the year is up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book #29

I'm working on Sarah, Plain and Tall with one of my reading groups this week. I've never read it before and I wanted to be better prepared to lead discussions.

And yes, even though it's only 60ish pages I'm totally counting it toward my reading goal. Hush.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Update

I've been working as an instructional assistant at an elementary school for the past month. At first I didn't love it. Then I became tolerant of it. And this past week I actually began to enjoy my job. Of course it doesn't really pay my bills but I kind of don't want to leave it. On a really good day I start researching graduate teaching programs and looking at GRE practice books.

So there's that.


Jill has been especially cute lately. I've never met such a sweet pup. Terribly spoiled but totally sweet.

All sprawled out. This dog cracks me up.

If you follow any of my other online ventures you already know all about the double yolk eggs I received from two of my hens this week. If not, now you do. I collected them early in the week and then scrambled both for my dinner on Wednesday. I couldn't wait to crack those babies open and marvel at the oddity of it. Such a fun surprise!

Last weekend I had to have Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I don't eat there often and don't particularly love their lunch and dinner options but something about the entire experience of eating there for breakfast gives me such a rush of memories from my childhood. Trips to the country with my grandparents and general store items and those little games they have on the table. So weird. I was definitely craving some kind of nostalgia.
Cracker Barrel

My little unabomber. I just want to squeeze that face.
My brother is too young to understand why I just called him the Unabomber.

Baking day! All thanks to Pinterest.
Peanut butter frosted brownies and pumpkin rolls. I have Pinterest to thank.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book #28

I adored everything about this book. Everything. This was a fantastic ending to a series I almost can't believe I began reading in high school.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seasons Changing

Around here eggs are finally being laid on the regular. 4 out of 6 hens are laying!

The garden is still producing. The second round of zucchini.
September 2011
And more jalapenos and green peppers.
September 2011
And the tallest Okra I've ever grown. I was super diligent about clipping it each week this year and it's still producing.
September 2011
The tomatoes still haven't ripened in full force. There are so many still left to pick in the next couple of weeks. And quite a few that will probably be able to be wrapped in newspaper and stored in a box to ripen in the garage. I love fresh tomatoes at Thanksgiving!

The fall garden is taking off.
Including acorn squash.

And a bed of lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and brussels sprouts.
September 2011

I'm still not finished planting everything for autumn and winter.

And the corn behind my parents' house is drying out. A sure sign that it's time for me to drink warm apple cider and find a place to pick pumpkins.
September 2011
September 2011