Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Some Assembly Required

This book was written by Ann Lamott, who is a best selling author. Some Assembly Required is a journal about her son having his first son - a grandmother's notebook.

While it tells you right on the cover that this book is a journal, I still expected it to be divided in some way; if not by chapters then by sections or parts. However, it is a continuous narrative separated only by entry dates.

I have to be honest and fess up that I struggled to finish this book. While it wasn't hard to read, I had a difficult time staying focused. Perhaps this was because Lamott spent approximately half of the book pondering and discussing things of a spiritual nature. I don't have a problem with the issue of faith; I just didn't expect the book to contain so much of it.

Or maybe it's because I'm too caught up in the land of Daven to be interested in baby Jax.

It surprised me that with as much Jesus talk that there was, sprinkled amongst that was also a few handfuls of the f-bomb. Jesus is my rock and savior - f***!

Since I am a newish mom and not a grandmother, I didn't really connect to the author's perspective. Instead, I felt more for her son's girlfriend, of whom Lamott spent considerable time bashing.

She also whined a lot about how miserable she was, even though she vacationed in India and Europe in the same calendar year. Yeah, I feel sorry for you.

If anything, this book gave me anxiety about the day far into the future (God willing) that I become a mother-in-law and grandmother. Will Daven still allow me to be closely involved in his life? Will he move far away? Will I get to spend enough time with my grandchild? Oy.

I do appreciate her honesty about her own faults. Lamott openly shares about her struggle with alcoholism and staying sober as well as raising her own son as a single mother.

This book brings another question to mind: where do you draw the line between not giving the grandparents enough time with their grandchild and taking advantage of them?

I am just thankful that we live so close to both sets of Daven's grandparents. I'm glad that he spends time every week with family that is so important to us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: Does a Pig Flush?

As you could hopefully tell by the title of the book, this is not one that I am counting for my personal 75 books in 2012 challenge. At least I hope you could!

Since we are attempting to potty train, I have been on the look out for books on the subject to read with Daven. This gem was found at our local library and has been a real hit with our stubborn guy.

The potty books I remembered were pretty low key and "appropriate". Yes, everybody pees and everybody poops but this book goes beyond that.

All ANIMALS poop as well, although they don't use the toilet. Birds go on people's heads, deer poop in the woods, and so on. What cracks me up the most isn't the story though; it's the illustrations that go with it. They chose to SHOW the animal poop, which in my opinion is just hilarious.

Don't worry though, it's not realistic poo, although I'm sure it could be considered too racy for some families. But our little guy calls his own snake poop when he goes on his potty, so we don't mind a little illustrated doo doo.

We've read through it a few times and already Daven is helping with the dialogue. "Pig flush - no!"

We give this book two flushes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our Little Golfer

Even though Papaw bought Daven a brand new, non-toy putter, he still insisted on playing with his plastic one.

He would walk his ball all the way over to the hole, put it right next to it and then hit. So technically just about every hole he played was a hole in one.

18 holes of putt putt was a bit long to hold his attention, and it was blazing hot outside, but he was a champ.

His favorite was the hole that you could hit your ball into the water and it rolls down and back onto the green. He actually putt from the top of that one, and did better than I did. My ball veered off to the side and fed into the larger pool of water.

Daddy won the round, with Papaw close behind. Next time I think we'll do the indoor course. At least until it cools down. I had no idea that there was a place to play miniature golf in Corydon. Aunt Lauren went there while she was working at a daycare and suggested we all go It made me miss all the fun courses that Adam and I got to play while on our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of bitter and Sweet

I wasn't convinced getting into this that I would get through the book. While I found it within my library's ebooks and it seemed interesting, I didn't have any recommendations from friends to assure me that it would be wonderful.

Friends, let me be that friend.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an historical fiction novel. It reads, however, like a true story unfolding in front of you.

This is beautiful story about Henry, a Chinese American, battling through his childhood during the 1940s. He is the likable misfit who is mainstreamed into an all white school where he is bullied and called a devil because of his nationality.

Keiko enters, a new student who is also "scholarshipped" into the school with Henry. The students mistake them for the same race, although to her own misfortune, Keiko is Japanese. While she is in fact a second generation American, she and her family are still treated as possible spies during the ongoing war.

This story is completely heart-wrenching and consuming. I wanted to cry out in response to the injustices of this book; in this time. In other words, i was outraged. And if these fictional characters had such a story, imagine the actual Japanese Americans who were forced to live in interment camps solely because of their race; who left everything behind and came back to nothing?

Ford does state that while the book is a work of fiction, the hotel that is the pivot point of the book, the Panama Hotel, does exist.

Moreover, it was the location where many family hid their possessions before being taken to camps of which the locations were unknown to them. 37 family's belongings were kept in the basement, a time capsule as Henry refers to it as in his search in the novel.

Also woven through the timeline is a snippet of the local jazz scene, and Oscar Holden even briefly interacts with Henry and Keiko.

The next time I am able to go to my favorite Japanese restaurant and indulge, I will definitely have a different perspective. 50 or so years ago, I would not have had a chance to broaden my palate.

I will definitely be on the look-out for Jamie Ford's future books.

The picture below is a screen shot I took from the author's website.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baking with Bubby

I try really hard to involve Daven in cooking whenever I can. Some times he gets upset because he wants to help stir and can't because the food is on the stove. This actually happened while I was fixing dinner last night, so I wanted to make sure he could help today.

I had some bananas that were too brown and a large zucchini that I didn't know what to do with. I googled and found something to do with both on allrecipes.com -bread!

I did have to check myself a few times and keep myself in control because we wanted the bread for breakfast and this meant that I hadn't had my first cup of coffee. (take a breath, mommy) Having Daven on the counter means there are a LOT of safety issues and many don't touches!

While I was still prepping things, bub decided that he HAD to eat some of the shredded zucchini. Yuck! There was a moment there that I thought he was going to get sick because he was so disgusted by it!

We were both able to have a good time though. Daven loves to scoop, pour and stir! Neither one of us liked having to wait an hour for the bread to cook.

The zucchini, to me, is really only noticeable by sight and slightly by texture. Banana is definitely the dominant flavor in the bread. Next time I make it I will probably add more cinnamon to the batter. Maybe even some chocolate chips?

While I doubt my husband will actually try it (I forgot or I'm too full are a few of my favorites!) Bub and I have breakfast for the next few days.

We also made biscuits with dinner, although we were too sticky for pictures. He loved pressing the glass into the dough to make the shapes. I let him play with a bit of the dough while the biscuits were in the oven.

Kudos to Adam for not having a meltdown when he came home from work to find Daven up to his elbows and down to his knees in dough. Learning is messy!

What will we be baking tomorrow? Nothing. I'm out of flour!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beware, my son steals food

Ok, maybe not so much swiping out from under you like a pup as guilting you to give up your lunch.

He's a cutie and will so innocently walk up to you, look at you with his big blue eyes and say, "Me bite?"

But don't be fooled, friends. Once that initial bite of food has been passed over, he will more than likely devour the remainder of whatever is in your bowl or on your plate.

The same goes with your drinks. "Me drink" = "I'm going to slurp this down. Hope you don't want anymore!" But watch out, friends. That better not be caffeinated or this momma will have words.

You can try to get mad at him for conning you out of your meal, but then with his mouth full, he'll do his dance that he reserves for when his food is yummy. AKA the yummy dance. And you won't be able to hold back a smile. Because like I said before, he's just so cute.

And yes, the rare times I get to have sushi, bub is right there with his chop sticks diving right in.

This particular picture shows Daven eating Aunt Lacey's lunch. True love.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cinnamon Biscuits

I wanted to have a warm breakfast this morning. There are only so many days in a row you can have cereal, or at least for me there is. I almost passed by the biscuits because we don't have any jam or jelly in the house.

Then I remembered a modification I had made before that makes it so you don't need jelly on them. Ah ha!

These biscuits are a simple variation on the original Bisquick kind. I followed the directions on the box (2 1/4 cup Bisquick and 2/3 cup milk). Then I added a tsp of sugar and a few sprinkles of cinnamon into the batter.

I was feeling hungry and semi-lazy so instead of rolling out the dough and cutting out the biscuits, I used the drop method and spooned the batter on to the baking sheet.

Last, (and this is what makes them extra yummy) I spooned cinnamon sugar over the top of the biscuits. I don't have an exact cinnamon to sugar ratio here. I'm sure it's never the exact same when I do it.

Into the oven the go for 9 minutes at 450 degrees. Presto! Toddler-approved breakfast!

* * * * *
5-star breakfast for Momma and toddler Rayborn.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Classics or Bust

I have challenged myself to read 75 books this year. Last year my goal was 50 books and I managed to surpass that by a few. I have no doubt that i will complete my current goal.When looking back at my reading lists though, I am not satisfied.

One of my friends posted online that she couldn't wait for the Jane Austen festival and mentions her love for classic lit. Then I come across a list of 100 great books that everyone should read and I've read basically nada from that. Classic literature is so accessible, especially since so much of it is public domain. There's an app for that, right? Yep.

I downloaded one simply called FreeBooks and it has hundreds of books - all for free. (What, did the title give that tidbit away?) While this initially made me giddy, I have yet to really delve down deep.

As i browse, every book title has me saying, "Meh, yeah, I don't know", especially when I click on info and all I get is a date published. That is enough in itself to make me shy away. I've downloaded a few books and even opened one up. Paradise Lost caught my eye, mostly for the artwork and catchy title. I got about 3 sentences in before sighing and closing out the app.

I don't know if it is the language use; the rhythm and flow or my lack of ability to find it. Maybe it's because this type of book was what was forced on us in school with a grade hanging over our heads. Whatever it is, when it comes to the classical literature genre my frustrations win every time.

I can read biographies/autobiographies and historical fiction just fine. I've read The Paris Wife which details the life of Hemmingway and his family, but I can't bring myself to read his actual works.

What is it that makes some people able to embrace the classics while others like myself only feel comfortable reading books published within the last 50 years? Is there a breakthrough novel that would allow to read the classics with new eyes?

I am determined to chug through and keep trying to find a personal connection to the books are so highly revered. I want to be able to honestly tell my son when he's in school that yes, he should read those books, but mom has read them and they're worth it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Speak no evil

Since our almost 2 and a half year old son is a bit speech delayed, my husband and I have been more than a little lax with censoring our speech. 

Time to get out the duct tape and put it over our own mouths.

All three of us were sitting back in the office as I was writing my last post and Adam was was being a download-a-saurus.  He laughs at a picture one of his friends had posted and reads the caption to me.  It goes like this:

"Something something something, ho-lee-sh**"

To which Daven repeats "Holy sh**"

Granted, it didn't quite sound like the phrase, but we knew what he was trying to say.  Swhoops.

Potty mouths be banished, and it starts at home.  I will NOT allow our toddler become that kid who drops bombs in public.  While I am well aware that this will more than likely happen at some point, I'm going to try my best to delay the inevitable. 


Cheesy rice and squash casserole

I know that I am probably never going to be the greatest cook.  And I don't mind.  I would like to be an ok one though, and thankfully I believe I am on the road to this title.

Tonight I made a casserole that I didn't have a recipe for.  I just haphazardly cooked and combined some ingredients I had at the house.

Cheesy rice and squash casserole

1 cup rice
1 yellow squash
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (although other soups would do as well)
2 slices of american cheese
1 cup of shredded cheese (whatever you prefer)

Oven temp: 350

I started out by rinsing my rice and cooking it in the rice cooker.  You only have to rinse it if you have the fancy kind.  And if you don't have a rice cooker you can cook your rice on the stove or in the microwave if you use the Minute Rice.

While the rice was cooking I got some salted water set to boil.  Then I cut up my squash into small rounds.  Once the water was boiling I dumped the squash in.

When the rice was done cooking, I immediately scooped it out of the cooker and into a casserole dish.  Then I mixed in the cream of chicken soup.

While I was waiting for the squash I broke apart the American cheese into small pieces and stirred that in.

I drained the squash and mixed it into the dish.  Last, I sprinkled the shredded cheese on top and then put it in the oven.

I wasn't watching the clock all that closely but I'd guess this cooked in the oven for 10-15 min.

Self reviews:

Although I sliced the squash as thin as I could, I still did not allow it to cook long enough and in the end it wasn't as tender as I would have liked it to be.

The flavor was a tad bland, although I'm not sure what I could add to boost that.

I'd make it again, although next time I might try a different can of soup and I'd like to tweak it a bit more.

Overall, I'd give my recipe:

What would you suggest to help my recipe gain more yummy stars?

What she said

A college acquaintance of mine recently talked about her opportunity to hear Charlaine Harris speak at a book signing in Lexington, KY. 

**Jealous.  Then again, throughout the 4 years that I lived there, I was too busy cramming my cranium full with the studies that I didn't often have the chance to read for fun.  What, you mean education isn't fun?  Ah, then I meant I hardly read fiction during my time in Cat Country.**

An audience member asked Charlaine if she had any comments on the HBO series, True Blood.  She very matter-of-factly stated, "No." 

Wait a minute, now, Missy.  Isn't that show getting you boatloads of money?

-----------*****fast forward to the start of season 5*****-----------

Ah, yes.  I get it. 

I have to give credit to the show for bringing her book series to my attention in the first place.  I have to admit that I did not start reading the books until after I had seen the entire first season of True Blood.  And I love both.  Now I have read through every book in the Sookie Stackhouse adventures, itching for more.  I was also on my tippy-toes waiting for the new season of the show.  Everyone is attractive; there's danger; something for everyone who's old enough to watch it.  But I'm becoming more and more annoyed with the direction that the show has taken.

I've read the interview with the show's creator who talked about the liberties taken with the characters and the plot.  He claimed that it was all to flesh out the show and to see other characters in a larger perspective.  Sure, this makes sense.  But this season is utterly unrecognizable from the books.  My husband has not read them and until now, I could tell him that this was different, or the main plot was the same but more characters where there than in the book, and so on.  Now I can honestly say that none of this happens. At all.  I think he's starting to get agitated with me because I find myself at the end of each episode saying, "What in the world just happened?  That's not how it goes at all!"  "Yes, I know.  You've already said that." Oops.

  I have not a clue what is going on in the realm of tv Sookie.

Will this mean that I will stop watching the show?  Nope.  Like I said, everyone is pretty.  And it still has me guessing.  But I have more sympathy now with Mrs. Harris, knowing that they've taken her brain-child and completely twisted it.