Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Lullaby (Book Review)

Author: Sarah Dessen
Year: 2002
Genre: Novel/Coming of age

Reading Level: Young Adult

Summary: After seeing her mother move through five marriages, Remy knows how relationships work.  She's got breaking up down to a science and she's only interested in temporary boyfriends before leaving for college in the fall.  But then she meets Dexter and for the first time she realizes she might know everything after all.

Red Flags: Language, plentiful teen drinking and partying, some minor sex talk, annoying teenagers

My Rating: C-
And just like that, I'm off the Sarah Dessen horse again.  Man, what an irritating book full of irritating characters!  Remy was so unpleasant I could only picture her as Kristen Stewart, and no one else was much better.  I get that she's supposed to be cynical and whatever, but how can I root for her when I just want to punch her in the face?  Ugh.  I get so tired of characters that basically have everything they want and need but spend all their time whining about life.  And seriously, does she have no hobby besides going to the club and drinking with her friends?  Is that was passes for a hobby these days?  Can I possibly sound any more like a granny lady irritated with the kids these days??  Hmph.

Anyway.  The writing was standard but nothing interesting.  Characters were the standard SD types with their dials set to "ANNOYING."  So.  I'm glad that's over with.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Yes, he knows about that.  Brunch and afternoon tea too!  Ha.

(One day he will appreciate my LOTR references.  Oh yes, precious.)
Anyway, on the morning of the 21st, the little master hit the eleven month mark.  I keep expecting to feel sad about this and start crying whilst I clutch him and sob, "Where did my baby gooooo?"

But mostly I just look at him and say "Wow, you're big!  Let me kiss you some more."  I plan to do this until he hits puberty.

"Just posing casually on these stairs, Mother, no big deal.  Oh yes, do take my picture, do."

Still crawling, cruising and standing all over the place.  I alternate between getting really excited for him to walk, and then being happy with crawling because it's cute when he crawls.  

He eats all manner of things, but particularly likes applesauce, avocados and every manner of bread or bread-type thing.  Sometimes he likes to object to a food and I stick it in his mouth anyway and then he goes nom nom nom.  Babies!  

(He won't touch that strawberry.)

In addition to clapping, he mastered waving and blowing raspberries (a favorite during meals).  He has definitely been exploring his emotions, expressions and volumes this month, though on the whole he is pretty mild.  He still babbles up a storm and sometimes I think he's using words but I just can't tell for sure.  I know he understands some words, like banana and more.  Babies!

(He earns his keep by taking grocery goods upstairs)
(He loves this lion, it goes everywhere.)

And can I just say that finally FINALLY he has a clear, pretty scalp?!  No cradle cap!  No dryness!  Hair!  It's a beautiful thing. Of course, now we're dealing with a perpetually chapped chin, but we're working on it.

Keep making those funny faces, baby.  They just make want to squish your face more.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

That Summer (Book Review)

Author: Sarah Dessen
Year: 1996
Genre: Novel/Coming of age

Reading Level: Young Adult

Summary: The summer isn't going well for Haven--she's getting too close to six feet tall, her sportscaster father is getting remarried to a weather lady and her sister is getting married to her lump of a fiance Lewis.  All Haven wants is to go back to an earlier summer when life was perfect, but when her sister's ex-boyfriend turns up Haven will finally see the past for it was.

Red Flags: PG-13 language

My Rating: B+
Yes, I got back on the Sarah Dessen horse.  I blame the nice weather, since these books always take place over summertime.  Anyway, this one was her first novel, and I think--both in good ways and bad--that showed.  On the good side, the writing felt fresher and more original, and the content was much milder.  On the downside, the story seemed a bit underdeveloped.  I liked it as I was reading it, but afterwards I thought that there was a real lack of resolution.  Some threads seemed altogether pointless and the end was a bit muddled. Also it could have used a bit of editing, as one character is described as divorced on one page and widowed on another.

Overall, though, it was a pleasant, fast read.  Nice and summery, with plenty of silly teenage angst.  And really, isn't that the whole reason I read these books?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zip Your Clock

And so work on the quiet book continues.  I am trying to do about a page a week, until I run out of ideas and/or steam and then I'll take a break.  Anyway, I did two pretty simple pages in these last two weeks.  First, the clock:

This is another idea I took from the book my mama made.  I used a button instead of a brad and I put interfacing behind the clock hands to make them sturdier.  The numbers I did with puff paint.  Can you tell I freehanded them??  Ha.

I also did this zipper page:

I got the idea from this book of quiet book ideas.  I made a point of getting zippers with big pulls, which limited my selection but I like how coordinated it turned out.  I put fabric behind them, just to give it some pizzazz.  But did I succeed in sewing all the fabric down under the zipper?  So I have to fix that later.  This was my first time doing zippers...

...and luckily no one will see the backside when the book is done.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Un, Deux, Done

I did my tri!  I can't believe I actually did it. 

It was a lot of fun, both before and the day of.  I think some part of me thought I would cross the finish line and the whole universe would applaud.  But really there was just a handful of people and they were very congratulatory and...then I went home and life went on as usual.  But that doesn't make it any less cool that I did it!

Boo Boo was very excited for things to start.
My favorite spectators!

I don't really know my times.  But here is what I know: my swim was the fastest it has ever been, even though I was one of the last to leave the pool (which I expected).  My bike was the slowest it has ever been and is a bit of a sore spot for me because it took 20+ more minutes that usual and I can't explain why.  My run was pretty standard but solid (no walking!).  I felt good when I finished.

Nope, I never got that bagel back.
Go team!
Overall, I'm glad I did it.  Drewbles was so encouraging during the whole process and Babycakes was obliging as well, happily playing at home with his Pops while I went off to the pool yet again.  I did something I never thought I could or would do and that is really the point, right?  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Capture the Castle (Book Review)

Author: Dodie Smith
Year: 1948
Genre: Novel

Reading Level: Adult

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain starts writing a journal on a whim.  At the start she simply details the amusing life of her impoverished family and their life in a crumbling castle, but the arrival of new and interesting neighbors brings changes that will affect the entire Mortmain family forever.

Red Flags: Some occasional mild language (I think?)

My Rating: A
Why it took me so long to read this book I'll never know.  Even after I started it, it took me well over a month to read it.  Silly.  Anyway, this was as lovely as everyone always told me it was.  The writing was perfect--casual and readable but also truly insightful and funny.  The characters are distinct and interesting.  I loved Topaz and her artsy eccentricities and I hoped better for Stephen but, to be honest, I never really warmed to Neil OR Simon.

As the story went on and took more dramatic turns, I was kind of missing the lightheartedness of the beginning and I started to resent the book a bit.  But isn't that true to life?  You start out having a good, carefree time and as you grow up and life changes, you mature and start to think about things.  The fact that Dodie Smith captures that so well and so naturally is really quite impressive.  I like that the story has a happy ending, but it's not perfect and it's not all tied up--also like life.  It was happy enough to be satisfying and open enough to be real.   

Overall, this was a delightful book in every way.  The characters, the setting, the humor, the insights and the writing were all spot on.  I look forward to adding this book to my shelf one day and rereading it...hopefully a bit faster next time.  

Memorable quotes:
"My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments; but I have noticed that when things happen in one's imaginings, they never happen in one's life, so I am curbing myself."--ch. 4, p. 42

"...I had the most affectionate feelings for all those furs--no horror of them at all...though I knew they must all have been worn by dead people. I thought about it a lot, getting warmer and warmer in the beaver, and I decided that it was like the difference between the beautiful old Godsend graves and the new ones open to receive coffins (which I never can bear to look at); that time takes the ugliness and horror out of death and turns it into beauty."--ch. 6, p. 88

"...I think religion has a chance of a look-in whenever the mind craves solace in music and poetry--in any form of art at all.  Personally, I think it is an art, the greatest one; an extension of the communion all the other arts attempt."--ch. 13, p. 247

"'Sounds like the lost souls of sea gulls, doesn't?' he shouted above the din."--ch. 13, p. 264

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bums and Tails

I finished the second page for the quiet book!  The idea for this one came from the book my mom made for us, lo, those many moons ago.  It's a page of animals with their different tails that fix on with velcro.

(As you can see, most of the animals are tailless these days.)  

Anyway, I wanted to replicate that page for my book so I drew out some animals and put it together using felt and sewing on the velcro (a first for me).  My original plan was to do a pom pom for the rabbit tail, but that was before I tried sewing velcro to a pom pom.  Altogether it took a lot longer than my first page, but I think it turned out pretty cute.

I look forward to seeing Babycakes put all the wrong tails on the animals, after he moves on from trying to eat the tails.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Un, Deux, Tri

So.  In February I signed up for an indoor sprint triathlon and since then I've been doing a lot of this:

The tri consists of a 750 yard swim (15 laps/30 lengths), a 12 mile bike ride and a 5K run.  I wasn't worried about the run or the bike, but the swimming, well, that was the daunting part.  Nevertheless, I steeled my nerves and ordered my suit, goggles and cap (from here).  That first swim was...not good.  For some reason I had expected my childhood swim team skills to still be intact (I have two very small TROPHIES!!!!)

But over the intervening weeks I have slowly built up my swimming abilities again, and I'm no longer afraid of the worst case scenario--drowning--being inevitable.  I may not do it quickly, but I will do it!  *fistpump*

It has been pretty fun doing all this training.  I like having a big, long-term goal to work on and, to be honest, the success of this goal is a nice distraction from less successful projects.  Plus the thought of doing it scared me and, well, it's good for me to do things that scare me, mainly because I'm irrationally scared of an irrational number of things.

Anyway.  Tri day dawns tomorrow.  And after that I can wake up in the morning without my first thought being "POOL."

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Burritos to Change Your Life

I used to not like burritos.  I didn't like beans and every burrito I had seemed to be bursting with refried beans.  No amount of cheese could undo the beany beanness of those beans.  Fast forward to college when I discovered black beans.  They were good!  My opinion of burritos went way up, so long as they had black beans.

Fast forward again to last summer, when a friend brought us dinner after Boo Boo was born.  She brought us burritos.  But not just any burritos--LIFE CHANGING BURRITOS.  I talked about those burritos for months, and since I got the recipe from her last November, I have made them, well, a lot.  They are SO GOOD.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  SO GOOD.  I would eat these every day.  

How do you make these magical burritos?  First you take a look at the source material (I highly recommend that website in general).  Second, you take a look at this adaptation of the original recipe into burrito form:

1 (15 oz) can black beans, lightly rinsed
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1/2 small red onion, chopped (green onions work well too)
1 clove garlic, minced (or just garlic powder)
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. shredded cheese
1 T. taco seasoning
taco size tortillas

Heat oven to 350. Combine everything in a bowl, besides the tortillas (duh).  Add enough salsa to get the consistency you want (I think I usually do about 2/3 cup).  Roll those puppies up and bake them for 20 minutes.  A batch generally gets me 10 burritos w

So go make some and then rejoice in your burrito-improved life.  

Sunday, April 06, 2014


One of my goals for the year is to make a quiet book for Boo Boo.  I just like making things, what can I say?  After several weeks of procrastinatory planning, I made a page today.  I got the idea for it from this website and then adapted it to what I wanted and what I had on hand.  Thanks to my obsessive need to save every piece of ribbon I've ever acquired, all I had to buy was the heavy-duty interfacing and a 10 cent page of felt.  

(Does that red rick rack look familiar, Sarah?)

I think it turned out cute!  YES, there are blue-eyed lions found in nature. (Okay, I said that as a joke, but it's actually true!  Go me.)  I have a sneaking suspicion Boo Boo would have more fun with just a long piece of ribbon, but that's just TOO BAD.  Because I put the leftover ribbon away.

This is how I made this page:

With two big messes.