07 November 2008

Hoo-ray Friday!

Well, it's time for the Friday Fill-in this week. If filling one of these in seems like a fun way to spend a few minutes, click here.

Here are my answers:

1. My blueprint for success includes the idea that even failure is a part of success.
2. A mini Nestle’s Crunch was the last candy I ate.
3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is olive oil (extra virgin) dabbed on a few trouble spots.
4. Crying is good therapy.
5. I'd like to tell you about anything. I love a good conversation.
6. My kindness is my strongest characteristic.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going home from work and trying to forget about this week, tomorrow my plans include starting with a clean slate and Sunday, I want to relax any which way I can!

Have a great weekend!

31 October 2008

Happy Halloween

Well, it's once again time for the Friday Fill-in...I hope everyone has a great weekend!

1. My favorite food seasoning is tarragon…especially in chicken salad!
2. A raging thunderstorm is music to my ears.
3. Lucky is realizing the importance of being happy with what you have.
4. Teaching people (young and old) to read and write well is something I take very seriously.
5. Many people are absolutely wonderful, beautiful, shining souls.
6. Halloween candy (peanut butter cups!) was the last thing I bought at the store.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to taking my little witch trick-or-treating, tomorrow my plans include possibly attending a Halloween party and Sunday, I want to take my daughter to the movies!

23 October 2008

Eat Local Challenge

I was thrilled to see my blog named on Jennifer Maiser's roster of Eat Local Challenge participants who were blogging about their Challenge experiences of the month...and chagrined to think that I have spent hardly any time blogging about my experiences with eating locally this month.

I set out with sterling intentions for participation in this challenge and for documenting that participation. What I have found, though, is that my intentions and my actions have intersected very little this month. I am a mother, student, full-time worker, wife, friend, and dedicated committee member to name a few of the roles I play. Dovetailing my desire to eat mindfully AND locally just has not happened often this month. However, I have not quite given myself up as a complete disappointment in this endeavor. I have learned a lot about food, the way I view and consume it, and how I can improve those habits. Here are a few of the lessons I have absorbed so far this month:
  1. Being too busy to slow down enough to eat mindfully is a state of living that needs to be altered quickly.
  2. There are MANY delicious, simple recipes that can be made quickly using low impact ingredients. What do I mean by low impact? Well, ingredients that can be procured locally and ingredients that are minimally processed.
  3. There is a lot of room for improvement in my community for establishments to commit to using local ingredients. I sense in this a future community advocacy project and will keep you posted.
  4. I can be a culinary magician when necessary. See two (modest) recipes I recently invented, below.
Kitchen Cupboard Onion Bulgur Soup
2 C thinly sliced Vidalia Onion
1-2 t butter
6 C Vegetable Stock
1 C Bulgur
Other cooked, canned or frozen veggies you have on hand
To make:
  1. Saute the sliced onion in the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot on medium high heat until the onion is nicely browned and crisp in some parts. Don't crisp them up entirely.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and veggies on hand, scraping up the browned bits of onion that may be sticking to the bottom of the pot. I used garbanzo beans and frozen spinach. Bring to a slow boil.
  3. Add the bulgur and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to cook for 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with good crusty bread for sopping up the broth.
Last Minute Inspiration Kale and Onion
1 small, thinly sliced red onion
olive oil for sauteing
2 C torn kale leaves
asiago cheese
To Make:
  1. Saute the red onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add the torn kale leaves and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook until kale leaves soften and brighten in color.
  3. Remove from heat and plate. Shred asiago cheese over kale and onions to your desired taste while still warm.
  4. Delicious with a glass of red wine!
The challenge will be on for another eight days. I will do my best to update again before all is said and done. Happy eating!

19 October 2008

Review, Long Overdue

Title: i love geeks: The Official Handbook
Author: Carrie Tucker
Publisher: Adams Media

Who knew there were so many different types of geeks? And who knew that they have an attraction factor that is nearly impossible to resist? Carrie Tucker, that's who.

From start to finish, i love geeks is an accessible guide for anyone who is puzzled by his or her strangely-obsessed significant other. Tucker takes the reader on a tour of geekdom, beginning with a brief introduction to the evolution of geeks followed by six chapters devoted to deconstructing some of the more common species of geek.

Each chapter provides an introduction to the highlighted geek, the Video Game Geek, for instance. This introduction is followed by good-to-know technical terms--before reading this book, I had never heard of filk (sci-fi folk music)--a time line of important events in the history of each unique geekdom, and suggestions for ways in which you can connect with both your significant geek and your own inner geek.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it was entertaining and enlightening. Tucker writes with a quirky humor that reflects many of the observations made by my friends and me about the geeks we love. I chose to review this book because I am married to a Video Game Geek, and I was not disappointed as I read Tucker's light prose, which described the love of my life to a tee. Read this book if you want to decode the strange behavior of a friend, lover or brother.

My grade: B+

17 October 2008

Time again...

...for the Friday Fill-in. It has been a roller-coaster ride of a week, and I am glad to be standing on the exit side of the tracks. I hope everyone has a great, relaxing weekend.

1. Follow the beat of your own drum. Far too many people devalue themselves trying to live up to someone else’s ideals.

2. A good book and a journal are two somethings I always take with me on vacation.

3. To achieve your goals, you must make decisions, stick to them, and take responsibility for your successes and failures.

4. That I am incredibly saddened and embarrassed by the displays of racism exhibited by people who live in my neighborhood and community is something I'd like you to know about me.

5. I have a hankering for a nice glass of red wine.

6. Very small rocks float. Ha! Ha!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to actually seeing my husband and child, tomorrow my plans include celebrating my brother’s birthday and Sunday, I want to take my daughter to the pumpkin patch!

10 October 2008

So glad it's Friday!

...of a loooong weekend. I'm so in need of a few rejuvenation days.

Friday Fill-in for this week:

1. One of the best concerts/plays/movies I ever saw that I really didn't think I'd like was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I thought it was just all a lot of hype, but seeing that movie led me to reading all of the books (and loving them!) and seeing the rest of the movies that have been produced to date.

2. Pantry shelf Soup is a recipe I recently made (or meal I recently ordered) that was delicious! We had an ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ week at my house last week and cooked with just the things we had lying around the house. I made a really (surprisingly) delicious caramelized onion and chick pea soup.

3. It's time for paying some close attention to what is really important in life.

4. Taking a five a.m. walk with a good friend is quite refreshing.

5. If I never hear the word webinar again, it'll be too soon.

6. To one side of the curving road was a slender shade tree, and on the other was a lemonade stand.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with great friends, tomorrow my plans include deep fall cleaning and Sunday, I want to take a mini road trip!

03 October 2008

It's Friday!

I'm so glad we're approaching the weekend once again.

1. October means cozy nights under thick quilts with hot cider and a great book.
2. These next couple months scare me! But in a good way: I am going to be making a lot of life changes.
3. Leaves are falling all around, it's time to gather them into piles for little leaping children.
4. My favorite horror movie is Mean Girls because it makes me chuckle to remember the good old days and how awful we girls could be to each other. Sorry, I know that answer does not make a lot of sense!
5. My little girl + any time I spend with her = good memories.
6. It was a dark and stormy night, and I was sitting at the window watching nature’s fireworks.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going on a date with my husband, tomorrow my plans include reconnecting with my brothers and Sunday, I want to bake a kitchen full of yummy things!

Happy weekend, everybody! Stay toasty.

26 September 2008

Hooray for the Friday Fill-in

Here is this week's installment. Thanks for reading!

1. Early evenings spent toasty in the kitchen making casseroles and stews are some of the things I'm most looking forward to in October.

2. Sometimes I ignore the ringing telephone.

3. People are completely unpredictable, and that's why there is a saying, "never say never"!

4. When I'm down, I watch a sad movie so I can cry it all out; then, I feel much better.

5. Curled in a comfy chair reading a book is where you'll find me most often.

6. A rainy day is good for having a marathon picture book reading with my munchkin in my lap.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my daughter (it’s been a busy week!), tomorrow my plans include following the day where it takes me and Sunday, I want to reorganize my schedule and my desk! I know, fascinating stuff, that.

19 September 2008

I can't believe...

...a whole week has gone by since my last post. And I had such good intentions! Well, here is another stab at the Friday Fill-in. Enjoy your weekend!

1. There is no need for violence. Violins, yes. Violence, no.

2. Where in the heck did the spider that was just on the wall above my head go?

3. Filling in these answers is all I managed to do.

4. Prospects for spending a lot of time writing this weekend are looking good.

5. Don’t forget to call your mother and tell her you love her…and your dad, too is the message.

6. Simplicity and tranquility are two essential qualities of a happy life.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to popcorn and a movie with my daughter, tomorrow my plans include staring longingly at the sunshine from my desk at work and Sunday, I want to have a picnic with family and friends. Yay autumn!

12 September 2008

Hard to keep up!

I thought I would be posting more often as the summer wound down only to find that the start of the school term was waiting in ambush! To make good on my intentions, I am taking time to post today. I was turned on to a fun little blogging activity called Friday Fill-Ins. As indicated by the title, a kind soul named Janet posts sentences for bloggers to fill in; here are my thoughts for the week:

1. I enjoy taking a walk during a warm morning rain shower.

2. Why many people I meet seem to spill their deepest secrets to me is something I wonder about often lately.

3. In your heart, you knew that security was not always an ingredient of happiness.

4. Take laughter, add a little love, and you end up with family.

5. Life has gifted me with a surplus of love, patience and things about which to be curious.

6. A well-prepared cup of coffee is an instant vacation.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to spending grown-up time with my husband, tomorrow my plans include taking the English-certification Praxis exam and Sunday, I want to catch up on pleasure reading!

Thank you, Janet, for the creative outlet!

11 August 2008

Click - My First Book Review

I recently got turned on to a great site called Mini Book Expo for Bloggers, and it is fantastic! On the site, a blogger can peruse posts containing synopses of new/pre-release books. If she sees a book she likes, she can check within the item's post to make sure the book has not been claimed. If it has not yet been claimed by another blogger, she can claim it...for FREE! The only catch is that she has to read it and post a review. This deal is not too shabby for a bibliophile, who wants to build her collection with new and interesting titles.

Upholding my end of the bargain

Here is the lowdown on the first book I chose:

Title: Click: Unexpected Insights for Business and Life
Author: Bill Tancer
Publisher: Hyperion

Why I Chose this Book: The synopsis I read described a book whose focus resembled another book I
read and loved: Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

My Review

The cover of Click, is covered with praise for its author, Bill Tancer. Encountering the book for the first time, a reader may expect that he or she is going to embark upon an odyssey of reading enlightenment. In fact, that is what I thought when I claimed the book. It is endorsed by Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics and contains chapter upon chapter dedicated to enlightening the reader on the Net and the way it is used today.

The book opens with a teaser of a first chapter--an obvious attempt to hook the reader with a peek at the tawdry underbelly of the
Internet. However, chapter One, entitled PPC--Porn, Pills, and Casinos, is just that: a tease. There is very little delivered in the way of interesting, insightful material. The potential is there, but it does not appear that Tancer has taken care to arrange the information in a way that is helpful to the reader. The prose jumps all over the place and doesn't appear to coalesce into a recognizable whole by the chapter's end. Unfortunately, the remainder of the book follows in the same fashion.

Tancer returns to the idea that actions speak louder than words and that this is why analyzing our online habits is important. He ends his book with the pithy summary, "Simply stated, if you want to understand the new connected world and how we choose to live in it, look no further than our Internet behavior; after all, we are what we click."

I do think the book could have been interesting. The premise was intriguing, and its comparison to Freakonomics bespoke a work with new insight into human behavior. Perhaps with further editing, the book could become what the author had intended.

My grade: C-

29 July 2008

26 Habits/Skills in 52 Weeks—Habits/Skills I Want to Adopt or Stop

Recently, I have been flip-flopping around about what sorts of things I think are good about my life and what sorts of things I want to change. I decided that I would make a list of those things in my life that I want to change or do better and post it.

If you are reading this list, and you see something that you have successfully incorporated into your own life habits, please leave a tip as a comment so that others might benefit from your wisdom. If I stumble upon a really fun or interesting idea for incorporating any of these life changes, I will make a note of it.

  1. Drink more water every day.
  2. Spend more quality time with my child, being present in the moment and not ready to rush off to the next thing.
  3. Start a graduated running plan.
  4. Drink less coffee every week until I am down to one treat a week.
  5. Take time to review information critically before forming an opinion.
  6. Do yoga at least every other day.
  7. Spend more time doing things that I really think are important.
  8. Find ways to practice more self discipline.
  9. Show more gratitude to those in my life.
  10. Listen more carefully.
  11. Slow down and be as present as possible.
  12. Write every day.
  13. Start adopting freelance projects.
  14. Evaluate where I am on this list and adjust accordingly.
  15. Meditate every day.
  16. Cook more/eat out less.
  17. Bake at least once a week and make enough to share.
  18. Make a budget and stick to it.
  19. Spend less impulsively.
  20. Take a deep breath before jumping on the defensive...to avoid becoming defensive.
  21. Stop eating meat.

  22. Consume less sugar in every form.
  23. Begin completing a chapter of my writing project each week.
  24. Begin working on sewing projects.
  25. Try a new food every two weeks.
  26. Write more letters to friends and family.

I promise, also, to write a less navel-gazing oriented post in the near future. I am in the midst of a really good book and will be posting a review of it soon.

21 March 2008

Just Practicing

Today marks the birth of my blog. Other than writing academic papers for classes, I have rarely written for an audience...if this blog ever has an audience.
For these first few posts, I am sure I will just be pumping my wings, so to speak before I take off completely. Right now, I am in my home thinking about my life. My daughter is in bed sleeping, and my husband is off reading a book. So I have a little space to think...something that is a bit of a luxury these days. I'm working through down-shifting right now after a long work day, adjusting to the quiet of evening.
Over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed reading many quality words written by others here on the web and have been inspired by their generosity and courage in sharing. I hope that I, too, will write something that is worthwhile to someone. Soon, soon.

**The photo above came from http://www.geocities.jp/deal_steal/bui2**