Tuesday, June 30, 2009

teeny tiny sprig of dill

My kids-TV show tastes have changed drastically since the last posts I wrote concerning them. For example: I can no longer stand Lazy Town or Yo Gabba Gabba, two shows I enjoyed before. I haven't watched either one in over a month. My current favorites are Max and Ruby, Word Girl, and Franklin. Hannah and I occasionally watch the Backyardigans and Wonder Pets now, instead of Toot and Puddle (which is on too much, so I've seen the same episodes 3873294 times) and Oswald (which is cute but too slow). Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends is pretty good, and Dora the Explorer is annoying but often better than the alternatives. I still like Little Bill but we're almost never watching TV when it's on, because we generally only watch an hour or so a day in either the morning or the later afternoon. I also like Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, although Chinese happens to be much more difficult to pick up from a kids' show than Spanish is. And while we're on the subject, I think they should have more international shows like this! They've got Spanish and Chinese, now why not have kids learning Russian and Italian and French and German, too? Toot and Puddle is the only other show I know of that focuses so much on other cultures around the world, and I really like that it does. There is a fear of people who are "different" in our world that is just ridiculous--only not funny because of how destructive it is--and I think shows like this can help.
So I've been cooking a lot lately. I've tried lots of different dishes, most of which have worked out amazingly. The only one I didn't like so far was BBQ spaghetti. I made my own barbecue sauce from the recipe, and the sauce was pretty good; Mike's theory is that it's just too different to have barbecue sauce where we're expecting spaghetti sauce, so we're going with that for now. I'm making banana bread tonight because we bought some bananas a while ago that we didn't eat, and then the next thing I'm going to be trying is an Asian dish where I make my own teriyaki sauce. It looks really good and Mike's been wanting some teriyaki chicken, so that works out. I've also been taking pictures of the stuff I've made (yes I am silly :) ) but they're on my computer at home, so I'll add them to this post the next time I get online on it.
I think the Daisy sour cream commercials are really gross. Stop eating giant blobs of sour cream!
Paula Deen is making onion quiche right now and it looks sooo good. I will be trying this as soon as I get hold of a mini muffin pan. I think I only have a full size one. Although I suppose I could make giant quiche, that could be kinda fun. We'll see.
Speaking of cooking equipment, I am so grateful to all the people who gave us kitchen supplies for our wedding! We have so many that I didn't even remember, because I didn't know what they were before, or just never would've used them. Since I've started watching the Food Network I've been seeing all these things that I want to get, and then half the time I go look in my drawers and I've already got them. It's amazing.
Something else that's amazing: Getting Mike to read the books I've been enjoying. He just read Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, and last week he did Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko. That one was a little sad for him, although it does have a good ending, but he said he liked both it and Little Brother. His favorite so far has been The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt, which I am excited about because I loved that book. Next is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart. This is a really fun game. :)
I'm sorry, did I just see a commercial for paint that also acts as an air freshener? The TV is muted so I can't be sure... but the text on the screen did say "eliminates odors." Really?? What in the world? You know what that's like? It's like combining swimming and strangle a guy. That makes just as much sense to me.
Okay. I think I'm done for now. I'm going to go back and add pictures of Hannah to that last post I wrote, and then I'll be heading back to my book.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Quick Post While I Have the Internet...

Life is crazy right now. I'm not really sure where things are going, but we'll find out in the next few days. I've been reading a bunch as usual, and mostly loving the books. Our stuff is slowly creeping out of the boxes, onto the floor, onto different spots on the floor, onto the floor in different rooms, and finally to where it will ultimately end up. (This last step has been reached by only about 50% of our belongings. Wish us luck.)
Hannah is so beautiful and adorable today and I wish I wasn't going to have an entire week off starting Wednesday while she and her parents go out of town. (I wish that for two reasons, the other of which being that we need the money.) I'll try and post some pictures tomorrow when I have the internet again, but I don't think I have time now. 
Mike and I both weren't feeling well this morning, so let's hope that's short-lived. We can't afford getting sick right now. 
Today we were finally able to take out our entire last week's worth of trash--there is no dumpster here, we can only put out the trash Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 am, and we kept missing it last week--and it is so nice to have that corner of our dining room back again.
I wish I could own the Dancy-Pants 3000!
I love giant journaling and wish my brain was better at generating ideas for it. However, I've been doing reasonably well in the last week and it makes me really happy. I miss having an apartment full of girls to do it with though, having Mike watching a movie or reading or playing a game in the room with me just isn't the same.
I am deeply in love with the public library system. We hit up the Wylie and Allen libraries probably more than we go anywhere else in the entire DFW Metroplex except for the grocery store and our jobs. (It's not that we go grocery shopping so often, it's that we make lots of unscheduled trips for snacks or things we've run out of. Our shopping system is a little messed up right now while we're broke and trying to get the apartment stocked.)
Hannah now says four words regularly and in context: "puppy," when she's playing with the dogs; "bye," when she or someone else is leaving; "hi," when you walk in a room or hand her over to someone for them to hold; and "wow," whenever she's looking at or about to chew on something interesting. I think this can only be a result of how much Noggin she watches, because let's be honest, children's TV is about the only place where people are as excited as they are all the time. 
That's all I have time for right now, one of the parents should be home any minute now and I need to check Hannah's diaper. Stick around, I promise the blog will revive one of these days, whenever we can afford the internet!
The end. 







Pictures of the apartment, as promised.

kitchen

bedroom

dining room

living room



bathroom


shower


bathroom/closet

patio


So there you go. Furnished pictures will have to wait until we get all our crap off the floor. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In case you're wondering, by the way, our new apartment is great and we love it; however, we do not yet have the internet, so we can only get online at my parents' house or, for me, at work.

Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver

Spoiler Warning: If any of you plan to read these books, which I absolutely recommend you do, be aware that reading this post will ruin the entire second one for you. Go check out The Bean Trees, and if it looks interesting to you, read it instead of finishing this post. That is all.



Although it never says so anywhere on the book, Pigs in Heaven is a sequel to The Bean Trees, and like the book I read just before this one (The Bastard of Istanbul), I have some mixed feelings about it. I had a really hard time putting this book down while I was reading it. Barbara Kingsolver is just a fantastic writer. There's a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle in the blurb on the back that says "Kingsolver makes you care about her characters to the point of tears," and it's true. I love Taylor and Alice and wish I knew them in real life. But I am so frustrated with the way the book ended, after having been tense and anxious through the whole last half of it, that I can't even decide how I feel about it. It's an amazing book, but did I love it? How can I be sure, since I was furious when I finished it? I really can't say.

So here's the thing about it. Clearly I am not a member of an Indian tribe, so I'm sure I don't understand all the complicated dynamics of it (which they talk about endlessly in the book). And I know none of you have read this book, so I won't get into details or anything, because I would basically be talking to myself. All I can say about it, I guess, is that I think in a child custody case it's pretty selfish of the Cherokee Nation to care more about the "welfare of the tribe" than the welfare of the child who is being taken away from the mother who raised her--which they specifically say they do, many times throughout the book. I'm not sure how well this book represents the real Cherokee Nation in real life, but my experience with Barbara Kingsolver is that her books are incredibly realistic and somehow she really knows the cultures she writes about. But that's not the point in any case, because I really don't have an issue with the Cherokee Nation in general; it's just the particular story in this book, including one specific character who represents the Cherokees, that I would like to kick in the face. This book gets a 7.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Sharak

Pretty mixed feelings about this book, guys. On the one hand, style-wise it was incredibly irritating to read. On the other hand, there were some really beautiful parts, and the story delved into a culture that I've never known much about (but it turns out is actually pretty familiar to some cultures that I do know).


So. The thing I hated the most, incidentally, is the exact same thing that drove me crazy in the Wheel of Time books, and that is that her characters all feel like they fell right out of a mold. Not only do they give themselves and each other descriptive epithets as nicknames (the Exceptionally Untalented Poet, the Closeted Gay, the non-nationalist writer of ultra-nationalist movies or something like that), every statement out of their mouths sounds like a script from the stereotype they come from. Just because someone's a poet, everything they say has to include the word poetry? Because someone's a lesbian, everything she says is something about how men suck? The closeted gay opens his mouth for the first time in a conversation and what he says is something about vulgarly macho heroes created to ridicule the effeminacy of the enemy? Give me a break, kid, people do not talk like that. Human beings do not come in pre-formed molds, just add water and bake. Caring about one thing doesn't make it the only thing you are physically capable of talking about.

There are more things but they'll be hard to explain without having you read some examples, which I might do but I don't have the book with me, so I'm not going to worry about that for now. It's an interesting book, but I probably wouldn't recommend it unless you are really interested in Turkish and Armenian culture. To me it's not worth the irritation--but then on the other hand there aren't many people who'd be as irritated as I was about it all, so you never know. It's up to you. I give it a 5.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver--9/10

Well, that's two for two now with Barbara Kingsolver! This book is fabulous and I loved it. The characters are funny and deep and easy to care about, and the story addresses an issue that I have pretty strong feelings about. It's about a girl from Kentucky who takes in an abandoned baby on her way to Arizona, where she meets a lot of people and becomes friends with them--including a refugee Guatemalan couple who are there illegally, and a woman who runs a sanctuary for people like them. You may (or may not) know that I have some feelings about the "immigration issue" in the United States, and the main character in this book, Taylor, ends up expressing a lot of the same things that I feel about it. Between the baby she adopts and the refugee couple she becomes close with, Taylor goes through a lot in the way of learning about the world and understanding why people are the way they are; and while much of that learning comes through tragedy, in the end you can feel happy for her because of how many good things she also has in her life. It's a really powerful book and also really fun to read, and I 100% recommend it for anyone. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here's a Question...

Why can nothing kill 100% of germs? Everything says 99.9%. Well, if it's that good, why can't it get that last little .1%?

Book Reviews

Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy. Mike read this book at the recommendation of one of our Utah book club members a while ago, and he really liked it so I thought I'd give it a try. It is a pretty silly book, but it's got a good story and it's fun to read. Skulduggery Pleasant is a detective who can do magic and is a skeleton, and I think that's all you need to know about it--besides its rating, which is a 6.


Lock and Key, by Sarah Dessen. I'd thought I was done with my Sarah Dessen phase, but a lot of girls were talking about this book on Janssen's blog, so I picked it up one day at Barnes and Noble when we were browsing. I liked the first few pages, so I put it on hold at the library, and I ended up really liking the book. Plot- and character-wise it's very similar to The Truth About Forever and Just Listen, but I did really enjoy it. One small pet peeve: Maybe it's just me, but I have never in my life heard a person refer to the cafeteria as the "caf," and it drove me a tiny bit insane every time they said it because it sounds so dumb. That is all. My own minor insanity aside, I give it a 7.


If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko. This book is by the same woman who wrote Al Capone Does My Shirts--which I loved--so I picked it up at the library when I was pretty much out of ideas for things to read. It's not as incredible as Al Capone was, but it had a really interesting storyline and I liked the main character a lot. It's about a white girl named Kirsten and a black boy named Walker, who come from very different backgrounds but find out they have something super important (and surprising) in common. I liked it a lot and also read it in one non-reading-intensive day. It's a 6.


The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm not done with this book, but I am enjoying it so much that I just wanted to write something about how much I'm enjoying it. Barbara Kingsolver is a fantastic writer, and now that I've loved two of her books this much I am really interested to find out what else she's got. More on this when I'm done.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Everybody's Happier When They Do the Tap-Tapioca

This week has been so busy! I can't remember the last time I went an entire week without posting, but I just haven't had time. Dafni and one set of my Israeli grandparents flew in on Wednesday, Benjamin graduated on Friday, we celebrated his birthday and mine on Saturday, and we had book club and a family dinner on Sunday (including a long-overdue watching of Thoroughly Modern Millie). In between all those events, we've been working, hanging out with the family, eating, and making runs of boxes over to our new apartment, for which we signed a lease and got the key on Friday. Today my brothers and my dad are helping Mike with the big furniture while I'm watching Hannah and sharing recipes with my sisters, and then tonight, once I've left work, we're taking everyone over to finally see the apartment. The boys and my dad are the only ones who have seen it so far, because they've been helping with the moving.
So, that's that! It's been a crazy week and a ton of fun. Right now Hannah is sleeping and I am watching the Food Network, which is my new favorite channel on TV. It's funny how this has been happening--back at Belmont I discovered Iron Chef and Ace of Cakes, both of which I loved, but they were only on at midnight so I didn't get to watch much. I never watched anything else, though, and kinda thought those were the only shows I liked. Then a few weeks ago I was super bored during naptime and looking for something to watch, and I saw Rachael Ray was on so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out I love her. Then one day I started watching Barefoot Contessa, which I've written about before--it's not one of my favorite shows for sure, because I just can't get over how awkward everyone on it is, but the recipes are excellent--and then it just pretty much snowballed from there. I now watch Money Saving Meals with Sandra Lee, 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray, and Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten regularly, plus Semi-Homemade Meals (Sandra Lee), Giada at Home (Giada de Laurentiis), and Grill It! (Bobby Flay) whenever they happen to be on. I'm kind of excited to see what else I'll be discovering in the future, but for the time being I think it is sufficient to say that I love the Food Network.
Also, we're switching it up at book club this month! It was my dad's turn to pick the genre and instead he decided he wanted to pick one book for all of us to read; so, we are all reading The Sojourner, by Marjorie Rawlings. If you feel like it, read with us and you can tell me what you think! I've never read anything by her but I've heard good things, so we'll see how it goes.
And I think that's about all for now! Hannah just woke up from her nap and is eating lunch, so we're about to head back over to my parents' house for a while. I'll post pictures of the apartment as soon as I can!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hansel and Gretel

I find this commercial very amusing.

The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News has been on my list for a long time, at least a year or two. I picked it up a couple weeks ago when I saw it at the library, and I'm really glad I finally read it. The story is about people in Newfoundland, which was pretty weird for me because that is a really different culture, and not one that I a) know anything about or b) am particularly interested in. It was a tiny bit of an effort to read in the first couple chapters, but it didn't take long for me to get interested. Once that happened I really enjoyed picking it up again after every time I had to put it down. It did take me a while to read because for the first half of the book it was hard for me to read big chunks at a time, but I was still enjoying it even though I had to read in small doses. The second half went much faster than the first. Anyway, it's a Pulitzer Prize winner and definitely worth a read, so pick it up if you get the chance. It's a 7.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sunburn

Between tanning by the pool and helping my mom with her amazing landscaping project, I've had a new sunburn just about every few days since Memorial Day. Most of them haven't been painful, but I can feel today's new one already. We spent all of yesterday and today outside working, and my one regret is that I was dressed for comfort, not for tanning, so my tan lines are much bigger than I'd like them to be. Oh well--it is totally worth it now that the yard is pretty much done. There are still a few things to touch up here and there, but all the big things are done and 90% of the little things too. It turns out I'm not allowed to post pictures until Dafni comes and sees, but as soon as she comes I will. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Food Network

I've been watching the Food Network a lot (I love Rachael Ray) and here is something I have to say about it: Does anyone else think that Barefoot Contessa woman is just incredibly awkward? She's not so bad during the show, but that intro at the beginning where she tells what she's going to make? So unnatural looking. She comes on after Rachael Ray so I see her every time, but today's the first time I've actually watched past that intro. (She's making borscht, which I love, so I'm interested to see it.)
Well that's all. Just thought I'd share.

24


Yesterday was my birthday, and now I am 24 years old. It was a great birthday! Mike and I both went to work, and then he left a little early to come hang out with me and bring me honey biscuits from Church's Chicken (YUM). He also brought me my birthday present from him, which was a Half Price Books gift card (yay!). I got off work, we went home so I could change, and then Candice called and the girls sang happy birthday to me over the phone! It was adorable and made me very happy. Candice and I talked for a while, and then I hung up so I could get dressed. Mike and I went to Chili's, then to Half Price books where I bought Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan; Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli; Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, a book called 10,000 Extraordinary and Puzzling Words by Robert Hill, and The Hours on DVD (a great book but an even better movie). I thought that was a good place to stop for the day, so we left. We went to Bath & Body Works, where I finally used the last of the gift card I got at one of my bridal showers, and then we snuck Coldstone ice cream into the theater and saw Up! Which was very good and funny, but kind of sad. And then that was all. I love all the stuff I got, and I had a really good time with Mike, and I got lots of sweet messages from people throughout the day. My brother Benjamin's birthday is next week and Dafni and Safta Miriam (my Israeli grandmother) will be here then, so I decided to have my family birthday party combined with his. So until then, thanks for the birthday wishes, and yay for being that much closer to renting a car without a young driver fee! :)