Thursday, March 15, 2012

Books, books and more books...

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head. I’ve been on a very eclectic reading spree lately; actually let’s say an attempt-to-read spree. It started with a quest to study the idea of church membership which inspired me to read Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris. Then I borrowed a few more from the library, this time regarding not just church membership: The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love by Jonathan Leeman, Bitesize Theology by Peter Jeffery and Desiring God by John Piper (the last two suggested by our new pastor). These three are in the waiting-to-be-read pile.

In my continuing quest to read or watch items placed on Reserve by professors, I read the Rough Guide to American Independent Film by Jessica Winter which I found interesting and inspired me to also read the Rough Guide to Chick Flicks by Samantha Cook which was even more interesting. It led to me making a list of about 90 films that I’d like to see – at some point. :) I’ve also been reading through the book The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Gene Veith which has inspired me to attempt to re-read the Narnia series. This book and my goal entered a conversation with a friend last night which inspired her to lend me the audiobooks of The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which I intend to start listening to in my car on my commute to and from work.

Additionally I just finished a wonderful book called I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan. I am a huge fan of Mister Rogers and if you have received a card or note from me in the past few years you already know that I love to include his quotes (if you haven’t received a card from me with a quote, let me know and I’ll see what I can do :)). Anyways, this book was so inspiring and though it is not a long read it took me quite a long time (by my standards) to read because almost every other page had something I wanted to highlight, write down or simply made me cry my eyes out. It is a lovely book and I will be purchasing a copy for myself soon. It only added even more depth to my already considerable appreciation for the much beloved Mister Rogers and it was such a blessing to have the honor of reading the honesty put forth by the author. I highly recommend this book.

It served, however, to create a new topic of interest – the Catholic priest and writer Henri J. M. Nouwen. I’d read and loved a few quotes from him before, but I discovered he was a dear friend and mentor to Fred Rogers. I found that our library has several of his books and I’ve begun reading one of them this week. It’s called Seeds of Hope: a Henri Nouwen Reader edited by Robert Durback and is basically a collection of Nouwen’s writings under the headings of particular topics. Already I have been encouraged, brought to tears and felt the prick of recognition in just the first few chapters. I’ve been inspired to also read some of his other books – The Inner Voice of Love: a Journey through Anguish to Freedom, Reaching Out: the Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, The Return of the Prodigal Son: a Story of Homecoming, and Bread for the Journey: a Daybook of Wisdom and Faith.

Finally, I’ve been re-inspired in my love for all things Wuthering Heights. I’m almost finished with H.: The Story of Heathcliff’s Journey Back to Wuthering Heights by Lin Haire-Sargeant. It is a very intriguing take on what may have happened to Heathcliff during his absence and it includes some semi-distracting yet also interesting additions of the writers Charlotte and Emily Bronte and the story of Jane Eyre. I haven’t finished it quite yet, but have to admit that it’s a well-written story and would be a though-provoking addition to the classic. It definitely keeps true to the character of Heathcliff and though he is a terrible, selfish, evil and passionate character – I do love his character and the love/hate between him and Cathy. Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite stories of all time and this was an appealing glimpse back into the story. I next intend to read a character analysis and critical essay collection called Heathcliff edited by Harold Bloom. It should be a very fascinating and thought-provoking read.

This is some of what I’m reading…what are you reading?

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Wrap Up

Here was my list and in red is what I was able to achieve.

2011 Goals
These are a few of the things that I would like to accomplish this year. I may not get to all of them, but I'm hopeful that it is not too daunting of a list.

1. Find time to paint and/or do art projects


  • While not super consistent, I was able to be more artistic at times this year. I spent time coloring and doing projects with the kids. I wasn't able to do any painting this year, but my hope is to work on this again in 2012.

2. Finish reading the Bible – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 1&2 Thessalonians


  • Basically I didn't even start working on this until December. However, I found a website and an app for my phone that allows me to read online in whatever version I prefer. I am reading The Message version and was able to get through all of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and the first 10 chapters of Deuteronomy. I will continue to work on this in 2012 and have found the more I read the more interesting it is to see it all play out and work together.

3. Read the following books - Chronicles of Narnia series, The Catcher in the Rye, War & Peace, Brave New World, Vanity Fair and the Anne of Green Gables series


  • I think this list was a bit ambitious especially since I read so many other books as well. However, I was able to read Brave New World (very interesting and forward-thinking especially for its time), Vanity Fair (the longest book of the year at 912 pages) and I read through the first 5 books of the Anne of Green Gables series (book 1-3 were amazing, book 4 almost made me give up, book 5 redeemed it and book 6 has been really interesting so far). I'm not sure whether or not I'll work on reading the others listed in 2012, but perhaps.

4. Unpack at least half the boxes in our garage


  • I unpacked nothing from the garage but Josh has made it his goal to work on this for 2012. I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that I need much that is out there since its been there for over 2 years without me wanting or needing it...but the packrat in me thinks it must be important.

5. Organize & file all important papers and clean up desk


  • This didn't happen. We NEED to make it happen this year.
6. Try at least 3 new recipes each month


  • This definitely happened, even if not always 3 per month some months had more than three so it worked out. We had a lot of new favorites, and a few that were just ok. But I continue to enjoy reading cooking blogs, collecting cookbooks and trying new things as often as possible and that won't change in 2012.

7. Visit Josh's family, and some of mine, on vacation in May/June


  • This wasn't able to happen - financial reasons, no time off availability, etc. However, Josh was able to visit his Mom, brother & family in October for a week and they had a great visit.
8. Hang curtains in our house to replace ratty metal blinds


  • Hasn't happened yet, but will happen eventually.

9. Mail Christmas cards with letter & picture by beginning of December


  • We mailed/delivered about 140 Christmas cards with photo card and letter by December 14. And only two were returned, so our address book is pretty accurate too! :)
10. Take a trip with my best friend


  • This didn't happen, and since she ended our friendship it won't be happening in 2012.

11. Write on my blog at least once a month


  • I wasn't consistent, but only missed about 4 months I think.

12. Watch film version of classic novels read (Age of Innocence, Anne of Green Gables, Vanity Fair…)


  • I did watch both Age of Innocence and Vanity Fair. I really enjoyed the former and thought that the latter made Becky Sharp into a much more likeable character. Though I've seen all the Anne of Green Gables films, I didn't rewatch them yet...but I will once I've finished the series of books.

13. Watch Film Studies films that interest me


  • I watched quite a few this year - Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Phantom of the Opera, Hamlet (Ethan Hawke version), Scotland PA, Mildred Pierce, Temple Grandin, The Apostle, The Godfather, The Turning Point, I've Loved You So Long, RENT, and Babies.

14. Read 100 books this year


  • I ended up reading 111 books.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy/Sad November

So this was the first year that I did not get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Mom & Dad were in Arizona with my grandparents and Kelly & David were also in Arizona but celebrating with David's family. Josh & I were unable to travel because Josh was scheduled to work the day before and the days after Thanksgiving. I thought I'd be fine...I'm 32 years old...we decided to have a pajama day and stay in and eat yummy roast chicken for dinner. But I am a sap...I love my family...and combined with dropping a can of cranberry sauce on the top of my left foot (huge bruise!) and jamming the toes of my right foot into the bathroom doorway (really hard!) I became a sobbing mess who missed my family and felt very alone.

We always celebrated big on Thanksgiving. It wasn't unusual to have over 20 to 30 guests at our holiday table. We used to have to use the large meeting room at our apartment complex to hold all the people who came to our Thankgiving dinner. But it's hard to get everyone together nowadays...we're all grown up and have multiple schedules and families to coordinate...and this year was just a lot more sad than I ever expected.

Through continued visits to the chiropractor, my back has been doing so much better this month and I celebrated with a desire to do more cooking. :) My niece Katelyn came over one evening and we had fun watching Dumbo, eating pizza and baking cookies. One night I tried to re-create a potato soup that my CBU roommate Angie once made...hers still has epic proportions in my mind, but the one I made turned out very yummy with shallots, onion, garlic and green onions mixed with the potato, beef broth and heavy cream. Katelyn & Jonathan came over another night for a sleepover and we made a delicious monkey bread the next morning which was sugary and delightful. And a few days later, I decided to try making a savory version of monkey bread with garlic, parmesan, basil and crushed red pepper flakes with a tasty dipping sauce of melted butter and chopped garlic.

Katelyn finished a many months long social studies session on world cultures and to celebrate Kelly planned a World Festival. We ate foods from the many countries including cheese from France, feta from Greece, sushi from Japan, orange chicken from China, Tabbouleh from the Middle East, etc. After our meal, we had a craft time and we made aboriginal drawings from Australia and Russian nesting doll paper dolls. It was a fun event and I'm glad we got to be a part of it.

This month I achieved my goal and read my 100th book this year - The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena de Blasi. I've read several other memoirs from her and really love her very descriptive writing style that perfectly captures the beauty of Italy and her love for its people, culture and food. If you love food or travel memoirs, I highly recommend reading her books. I also got a chance to watch the documentary called Babies which chronicles the lives of four babies over the course of their first year or so of life - from Namibia, Mongolia, Japan and San Francisco. It was fascinating and by far my favorites were the little boys from Namibia and Mongolia as the lifestyle of those countires varied the most from the United States. I highly recommend watching this if you get a chance.

My favorite part of November was the opportunity to go to Disneyland with Kelly & David and the kids. They are both now tall enough to ride all the rides at Disneyland and so for the first time they got to ride Star Tours (a little scary to them, but also fun) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (they liked it, except for the dark parts). Katelyn also decided to try going on Matterhorn with her daddy and she ended saying that was her favorite ride of the day. We were only able to spend about 5 hours there, but it was a perfect Disney day - cool weather, short lines, yummy food and happy children.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Catching Up

September:

~ Made semi-homemade ravioli with our friends Danielle & Andy: the ravioli was tasty, but they all got stuck together so it did not look very appealing. However, the mushroom cream sauce I made to top them was divine! (Recipe: http://mommymadedinner.blogspot.com/2011/09/mushroom-cream-sauce.html )

~ Watched the film RENT (finally). While I did enjoy it for the most part, I really like La Boheme much better.

~ I finally got around to putting new photos in frames to hang around the house to replace out-dated ones and to show new family & friends.

~ I finished two new Robin Jones Gunn novels - Canary Island Song and Love Finds You in Sunset Beach. Both were wonderful and I was reminded once again of the way the author is able to weave beautiful spiritual truths into interesting stories in ways that hit you unexpectedly and definitely made me cry.

October:

~ Prepared Nigella Lawson's easy Chocolate Croissants four different times - delicious!!! :) (Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/chocolate-croissants-recipe/index.html )

~ I read some varied books this month: two books about life in France, two modern adaptations of Sense & Sensibility and the book Working for the Windsors which inspired a recent rush of interest in the story of Edward and Wallis Simpson, the king who abdicated the throne for love.

~ I unfortunately injured myself while leaning down to pick up a napkin and caused sacroiliac joint inflammation (it's the joint that connects the pelvis to the spine). It has continued to cause pain, but with weekly visits to the chiropractor I've steadily gotten better.

~ Josh was able to visit his mom, brother & brother's family for one week and he had a wonderful time playing with our nieces and nephews, trying lots of new & unique restaurants and just spending time with his family.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September so far...

Josh got a job!!! :) That is the best news we received this month and I didn't want to wait to share it. He was hired last week to be a server at Olive Garden. He is in training now and is really enjoying it so far. This has truly been a blessing because not only does Josh love being a server - this job pays minimum wage, plus tips...and includes benefits! Which means that he can continue getting his prescription for the medicine he needs for his Restless Leg Syndrome. Praise the Lord!!!!

God truly provided for us in the past two months while Josh was out of work. We were able to meet all our financial needs and had enough for my birthday celebrations as well as some fun too. He had opportunity to do some projects around the house, to sleep in when he felt like it, and to spend more time with friends and family. While we had our dark days, we continued to feel God working in our life and we never lost sight that God was in control and taking care of us.

July/August Updates

Well, I didn't succeed in writing a blog post every month, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. July & August were tough for a few reasons and I just didn't feel like blogging about them at the time. But here's a short recap so I can at least keep track.

July



  1. We made three kinds of ice cream - fresh peach (from our tree), fresh strawberry and creme brulee (from coffee creamer) - all were delicious.

  2. We had some friends over for brunch and tried a few new recipes - chocolate peanut butter coffeecake, Pioneer Woman bacon cheese biscuits, and an absolutely amazing fruit salad with mint sugar!

  3. I watched three films - The Godfather (finally!!), The Turning Point (lovely ballet) and Vanity Fair (a much more sympathetic treatment of Becky Sharp I thought).

  4. I read 8 books and the best one was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.

  5. Josh lost his job near the end of the month. It was a difficult situation, but God truly has been taking care of us.

August



  1. I tried some recipes that recreate North Woods Inn cabbage salad, blue cheese dressing and cheese bread. The cabbage was fabulous (!!!!!) but we loved all three recipes.

  2. Cooking Club began - our first session was at Sarah's and we had a great (and quick) time preparing chicken tacos and pico de gallo, enjoying fellowship and enjoying ice cream with delicious homemade chocolate sauce.

  3. I watched the French film I've Loved You So Long - it was sad, quiet and slow-paced, but I liked it and Kristin Scott Thomas was wonderful as always.

  4. I finally read the Hunger Games trilogy and loved them (can't wait for the film!); and I also read a few Walt Disney World memoirs that were interesting.

  5. My best friend ended our 17 year friendship which left me hurt, disappointed, angry and really sad. My heart breaks for her though and I hope that her future is blessed and at peace.

  6. I celebrated my birthday with a fabulous French dinner party hosted by my amazing and talented sister & brother-in-law - it was 5 courses of deliciousness with friends who I love dearly. I also got to celebrate with tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert (thanks Mom & Dad!) - she was awesome and it was a great evening.


We had our ups and downs these past few months, but God is still in control and He knows the plans He has for us. We are putting our trust in Him and that is the safest place to be.

Monday, July 11, 2011

June Favorites

Top Book I Read

1. Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

Top 2 Purchases

1. Purple Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
2. Disneyland Annual Passes

Top 3 Ice Cream Recipes

1. Easy Chocolate
2. Georgia Peach (made with peaches from our backyard tree)
3. Vanilla

Top 4 Laughs

1. Playing Scattergories with Rob & Kaylean
2. Playing the Game of LIFE with Melissa, Alicia & Jessie
3. Decorating patriotic cookies with Becky & her boys
4. Coffee with Amanda & Anna - AFD, Chewbacca and more

Top 5 Foods I Didn't Cook

1. Salted Caramel frozen yogurt @ Pinkberry
2. Tomato Mozzarella Salad @ BJ's (two nights in a row)
3. Ground Beef Tacos @ Taco Bender
4. Enchilada & Carne Asada lunch @ Rancho del Zocalo
5. Filet Mignon & Braised Short Ribs @ Blue Bayou

Top 6 Moments

1. Shopping at Sur la Table with my sister
2. Danielle & Andy's wedding
3. Katelyn's kindergarten graduation
4. Disneyland vacation with Mitchell's and Pofahl's
5. Winning a guacamole-making contest in Downtown Disney
6. Riding the new Star Tours 3 times

Top 7 Foods I Made

1. Tomato Mozzarella Salad
2. Banana Nut Bread with Streusel Topping
3. Molten Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakes w/homemade vanilla ice cream
4. Italian Fondue anniversary dinner
5. Salsa Pasta Salad for Jason & Anna's housewarming
6. Creamy Cucumber Salad
7. Award-winning Guacamole w/Feta Cheese & Lemon