Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Lost Art of Reading

I have been totally up front and out in the open with you about my inner-nerd. 
I make no excuses for her. 
I gave in when she begged me to take just one more English class at The Tribe. 
I gave in when she signed me up for that sentence diagramming class in graduate school.  When she  forced my hand to gleefully complete every single drop of homework. 
I gave in when she talked me into becoming an English teacher, thus allowing me the luxury of reading books with kids all day long
I'm here to tell you
I'm giving in yet again to her demands.
One of my favorite bloggers, Edie at Life in Grace, is hosting an online book club for the classics!
Friends, this is not a joke of a book club.  We are starting with The Odyssey.  Edie means business!
It took me all of about 10 seconds to open my email send her the response that
Heck Yes I Will Be Joining!
Then I jumped in my car, took myself out to Barnes and Noble, and purchased myself a brand spanking new copy of The Odyssey
I made myself some coffee and curled up in my favorite corner chair and started that night.
And the rush of summer reading pre-10th grade panic came rushing in.
And then I reminded myself that this is for pleasure! 
There are no post-it notes to make.  No journal entries to write.  No first day of school test.
Just read and enjoy.
And so my inner-nerd finally met my inner-hedonist and the balance in my heart was resolved.
Will you consider enjoying us?
I'm not sure what we'll be reading next, but I trust Edie.  I know it will be good.
Go ahead and give in to your inner-nerd!
You will not regret it!
*And P.S.... If you need more convincing, check out this well-written article from the L.A. Times called "The Lost Art of Reading" that Edie gave us to start with. 
It is from 2009 but still very revelent, if not even more so here in 2012.  
I will leave you with this quote from the article:
Happy Reading, Friends!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday, friends!

It's only 11:00 a.m. and I've already been to the dentist, had a meeting at school, cleaned up cat vomit, been to the Goodwill (and scored a cute vintagey-looking lamp!), and washed the dishes.

For breakfast I had a large Mill Mountain Blend and a cinnamon scone.
Apparently I needed it. And apparently it worked.

Moving on.

We are continuing to try eat a little healthier at our house this week (ignore the above comment about the large coffee and cinnamon is Friday forgoodnesssake), so today for Five Things Friday, I thought I would share five food things relating to my healthy resolutions.

(It is fitting and proper to call them resolutions, I think, because the start of a new school year always feels like a New Year anyway.)

In the spirit of healthy eating, (and because I have been reading and loving Michelle's blog lately) I went to the library and checked out a bunch of healthy cookbooks.  I have been trying out some new things.

1. Banana Split Oatmeal
I got this recipe out of the Flat Belly Diet book.  It's a delicious and fun take on traditional morning oatmeal! 

Cook 1/2 c. rolled oats in 3/4 c. water in the microwave.  When done, stir in half a banana, some frozen strawberries that you've heated in the microwave so that they are thawed and a little syrupy-like, and a handful of chocolate chips.  Yum!

2. Abs Diet Meatloaf
This recipe is adapted from the Abs Diet cookbook.  Patrick does not like meatloaf.  But I, since we have gotten married, for some reason, really feel some sort of weird wifely duty to make a good meatloaf despite the fact that my husband will probably never come around.   This one, though, was a winner!  Patrick liked it!  (He wants me to clarify that he did not LOVE it, but he did like it enough to eat it again.)  Calvin and I LOVED it.  Search over.  It's probably the only way I will make meatloaf from here on out. 

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 c. of saltine crackers, smushed
2 eggs
1/2 c. BBQ sauce, plus extra (try to find one with no high fructose corn syrup)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
3/4 c. onion, chopped
1 tsp. oregano

Mix all together and form into a loaf on a cookie sheet.  Spread the loaf all over with extra BBQ sauce.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

I do not have a picture of the meatloaf, but I have found that generally pictures of meatloaf are not very appetizing anyway. 

3. Lemon Potatoes
I made this recipe up, but it is not hard (do not be impressed) and is pretty much based on the one my granny does for Sunday dinners, just leaving out a few other ingredients.  I made these with the meatloaf from above.  It was so good that we had it two nights in a row!  The tangy, lemon flavor in the potatoes is a great match to the sweetness of the BBQ sauce in the meatloaf.

Cut up a bunch of red-skinned potatoes into bite-sized wedges (Enough to spread along the bottom of whatever size baking pan you want to use.  I used an 8x8 glass baking dish and it was the perfect amount of potatoes for the three of us.).  Squeeze all the juice from one lemon all over.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle heartily with kosher salt and pepper.  Bake for an hour on 350 with the meatloaf.  Easy peazy.

4. Ezekiel Bread
I bought a loaf of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread to try.  It's pretty good!  I chose the Sesame variety and love it for morning toast. 

 It's good with my other go-to breakfast: toasted, spread with some natural peanut butter and the smallest drizzle of honey, and topped with half a banana sliced up.  I want to try the cinnamon raisin kind too! 

5. Sassy Water
I also got this recipe out of the Flat Belly Diet book.  The book says to make up a pitcher of this water for the next day each night before going to bed.  The idea behind Sassy Water is two-fold.   1. The goal is to drink up the whole pitcher throughout the course of the day, thus increasing your water intake  2. Making the water each night will remind you daily of your commitment to healthier choices.  I have only done it a few times, but it is good and a nice change up for my water bottle!

Get a pretty pitcher that makes you happy.  Cut up a whole lemon into thin slices.  Peel and slice up half a cucumber.  Add some fresh grated ginger and fresh mint leaves.  Smoosh it all around.  Fill up the pitcher the rest of the way with water.  Put in the fridge and let it all marry together over night. 

Anyone else out there trying out some new healthy recipes?
I would love to hear!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

To The Beach

To Patrick and I, it was just a long weekend at the beach.
No big deal.

Oh, how spoiled we are.
To him,

 it was magic.

I have taken so much for granted.
Like how the sand feels between your toes.
How it creeps into every nook and cranny and how even on the drive home you are still finding it tucked away in the bottoms of your shoes.

 (They are mocking me for making them do the cliche foot photo with me.)

How the waves sound hitting the beach.
How the storms swoop in and then pass so quickly that you never knew they were there.
How the sun came be so dagblame hot,
but on the beach,
Man, it's crisper and cooler and somehow just sweeter.

We went to the beach.
We ate a lot of seafood.
We took a lot of pictures.
We watched hours of Olympics in our super-clean, beachy condo.
We lounged in the lazy river.
We rode go-carts.
We went shopping and drank A LOT of coffee.

But do you want to know my favorite part of the whole weekend?
The part that brings tears to my eyes?
How Patrick took our 16-year-old son
and gave him $100 worth of arcade tokens.

And how the two of them played like kids in that arcade for hours on end.
How Patrick said,
"Every boy should have a time in his life of pure, magical arcade goodness.
We have a lot of making up to do."

It was a splendid time.
Our first little vacation as a family of three.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Five Things Friday: Books, Apps, and Things {Recommendations}

Well hello there!  Long time no see (or write? What's appropriate here?...).  So sorry for the lack of posts.  Summer is just sweeping us up and taking us right along day by day for a new and different ride.  Slowly but surely we have learned new routine.  And just when we think it's routine...whoop! changes again!  And so we relearn and readjust.  Such is life, right?

I'm trying to get back in the blogging habit.  I love having a place to record our days; the problem has been finding the time to sit down and actually do the recording!  Last week, I wrote a Menu Monday post to link up with Amanda, but then all the sudden it was Thursday and it just seemed null and void at that point.  So here is my small attempt at a Five Things Friday post - and hey! I'm actually posting it on Friday! 

True confession:  I'm bad at keeping house.  Yep. I mean, I'm neat; I pick up stuff.  But when it actually comes down to doing chores like vacuuming and dusting, I will think about it for a little bit, and then conveniently "forget" for too embarassingly long.  I think I have written before about FlyLady and what a great system she has.  And I'll tell you, every time I fall off the cleaning wagon (which is a lot), she helps me get back on.  I guess that's the main thing right?  That I keep getting back on?  So now there is a FlyHelper App, which is AWESOME!  It allows you to customize the zones to your house and needed chores.  It even has a stop watch, because FlyLady is always preaching about the value of 15 minutes here and 5 minutes there... you get the idea.  It's so great to have it ok my phone and be able to check off a little list weekly!

2. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson

If you have boys (of any age) please, please, please read this book.  It has so helped me to wrap my head around the stuff that Calvin is dealing with.  Kindlon and Thompson speak honestly about their work with boys of all ages and how our culture influences their thought life and emotions.  They work a lot from a biblical perspective, using the story of Cain and Abel and how God deals with Cain's anger issues as the jumping off point for their work. 

3. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Ok, another confession: I thought this book would be totally cheesy. (Sorry, Mom.)  But it's not!  I saw it recommended on my friend Nina's blog and I remembered that my mom had raved about the Mitford series and passed the books on to all of her friends.  I scoffed at her (quietly and secretly) because it didn't seem like real literature.  I have never had a very big place in my heart for Christian literature (with the exception of Lewis and Tolkien), I'll admit, as it is usually too over the top and non-realistic for me.  But, as Nina says, it is "the most delightful, comforting, soul soothing reading I’ve done in a while."  It's just good.  Once again, my mom was right.

4. Babel by Mumford and Sons

Holy cow, Mumford.  I have not even heard the CD yet, but I already know I can recommend it.  I have heard a few of the songs on it and once again, am floored.  I love this band.  They speak of real things but they don't take themselves too seriously.  They remind me of our sweet time in Australia, when my husband and I thought we had found a secret crush on the radio in the parking lot of the Perth Airport.  I love "Below My Feet" and "Lover of the Light."  Love.  Love. Love.

5. WWDiary App for Android by
I have been trying to be a little better ::ahem:: at watching what I eat ::cough, cough:: 
Though I hate admitting that.
The WWDiary App for my phone has been awesome at allowing me to record Weight Watcher points without having to pay to join the program.  I did WW in college and loved it.  And I did it for so long that I already have all those point values hammered into my brain, so it is nice and convenient to be able to do it for free, using my alredy vast knowledge.  This program will help you calculate the points.  You can use the old system or the new PointsPlus system.  It will also track activity points and weekly "extra points."  It is awesome! 

And it continues to allow me to live obsessively by phone for everything.... (sarcasm).

That is all, my friends! 

We are headed to the beach tomorrow for a long weekend.  I will try and be good and post some pictures of our time together.  Hope summer is being as good to you as it is to us!