Tuesday, May 25

Short Notice

My Prince is back from Greenland and had a wonderful time. Hopefully we'll get a chance soon to get some of his pictures posted, because he took some amazing ones! After two days in Albany, we've returned to Rochester for a few short days to pack - we're moving!

It's rather short notice; one of those situations where you think about something for a while but can't move forward and then - abruptly - things fall into place. Naturally we picked the hottest week of the year so for this adventure, but at least it won't be raining!

All the driving over the last couple days plus the packing process has me throwing a quick post up here with my latest read/don't reads before plunging back into the packing process. For a couple who's moved and streamlined their stuff as many times as we have, you'd think I'd have this down to a graceful process already... but I definitely don't...

Reads: Malcom Gladwell's Outliers and Let Me Go by Helga Schneider. Don't reads: Encouraging One Another by Nicole Johnson, Trust by Lydia Brownback and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I feel slightly heretical telling you not to read those three, since they're popular in Christian circles, but I just couldn't connect with them. There's plenty of mind-blowing stuff out there to read, I have a hard time making myself read things I don't love.

Anyway... back to packing. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 18

What Not To Read

It has occurred to me that with all these book reviews, it looks like I have lots of time on my hands. That's not actually the case. I've just been lucky enough to get a lot of audio books from the library, and remembered to play them while I'm running around doing everything else. It's amazing how much you can get through that way!

That said, this post is short and simple because the title about says it all. The Checklist Manifesto reads like a completely fluff essay written by a disenfranchised honors student. Great vocabulary and excellent examples built around a shallow topic and flat thesis. Rich Dad, Poor Dad may have valuable advice to dispense, but I coudn't get far enough in to find out. Despite claiming to have grown up poor, the author sounds like a spoiled, obnoxious brat in his writing. His busy, soon-to-be-wealthy mentor comes off as a bad proponent of the socratic method: answering questions with questions, making unhelpful or insulting observations and devoid of encouragement or direct information. Not a positive combination. Guess I'll have to find my money wisdom elsewhere.

Sunday, May 16


Sometime early last year I discovered a chair at Salvation Army. It had a beautiful shape and, as I'd been looking for a chair anyway, I took it home for next to nothing. It was a little musty, so I Frebreezed it excessively. In the back of my head was the idea that I should really re-cover it. It doesn't show in the picture, but it was a non-descript greyish color and had several stains. Well, time flew by and I never got around to the chair.

Fast forward to now. This chair, being the only one in my room, is now the all-purpose seating option and getting a lot of use. Only it really wasn't all that comfy. Finally, I decided that while Eric was gone would be the perfect time to make the necessary mess of taking it apart. In addition, I unearthed some sturdy tapestry design fabric that I could use as my new material.

My dad generously identified and located the correct drill bit for taking the funny shaped screws out of the bottom so we could pop the chair seat off. (Yes, everything is piled on my bed. With a couple other projects going on across the house, open work space is at a premium.) Matthew loaned me his tool set (screw drivers and pliers to get the old staples out) and Dad showed me how to load the staple gun to put the new ones in. May I just say that staple guns are amazing?

I decided once everything was apart that the stuffing that was in there, in addition to being paltry, was also nasty. While on a trip to JoAnn's for indulgent stuffing, it occurred to me that the tapestry fabric I'd planned to use didn't go with anything I own and was unlikely to ever match anything I will buy in the future... so I perused the clearance fabric racks... Guess what I found?!

A bolt of cream colored damask- style fabric. For six bucks, I got the last yard and a half they had in the store. When I was done covering the chair, I had enough fabric left over to make two pillows. Continuing my recycling them, I re-covered one pillow I already had that didn't match anything either, and took the stuffing out of a battered old pillow that was on it's way out and reshaped it into a smaller shape that would compliment the chair and other pillow.

The picture isn't great (still working on that skill), but I'm very pleased with the results! Something fresh and lovely that cost almost nothing and made good use of my resources. Plus, the boost of spirits that comes when you successfully complete a project.

Maybe that will be enough to carry me through the next six projects waiting in the wings! Lol!

Saturday, May 15

Buy A Broom

And a dustpan. You will need them to pick up the shards that your brain will be shattered into when you read this book. Then read it. ASAP. Phenomenal.

(Alternatively, pick up the audiobook. This author has the rare gift of being able to read his work with flawless inflection and clarity. Loved it!)

Friday, May 14

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Playing in my head... A song I've heard a million times but that felt brand new when I heard it yesterday: Fingerprints of God

Touching my heart this week... a recent devotional on the amazing (In)Courage site - and another one.

I found... a fantastic quote by the great C.S. Lewis: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy , the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

I am thankful for... the amazing faithfulness of God in unexpected places. (Although that sounds backwards to say - should God's unfailing faithfulness ever be unexpected?)

I had so much fun... visiting the Against the Grain Celiac Support Group in Jamestown last night and talking about food additives! What a blessing to get to share that time with them.

I am praying for.... the weather in Greenland to be decent enough for Eric to sleep in an ice trench at least once before he comes home. Yes, I know. It sounds like I'm indirectly praying for insurance money, but I swear it's what he wants to do and I like to see him happy. (Or in this case, hear him happy over a sat phone. Do I have an awesome or what?!)

I am reading... three books right now. Expect book reviews soon.

I need to... get cracking on my list of things to do! There's fun to be had, work to be done, and frisbees to be thrown for unloved furry companions.

Tuesday, May 11

Skinny (Vegan) Bitch(es)

I admit that I first heard about this book when it first came out, but was never inclined to read it. I saw the authors in some little clip from one of their television appearances and decided from the content probably wasn’t anything I hadn’t already read somewhere else.

So imagine my surprise when my sister came home spouting information about modern food industry carnage and carcinogens and credits her newfound horror to this book! There really wasn’t any choice after that; I had to find out why this book suddenly opened her eyes to all the same things I’ve been saying (ineffectually) for years.

It didn’t take long to figure out: the authors are dramatically liberal with their fact selection and foul language. While I appreciate just about any honest attempt to reach the misinformed general populace with the reality of what humans eat these days, the extensively unnecessary crudeness was a little hard to swallow.

My primary issues come down to three key points:
1. The facts are selective. The best books acknowledge and refute challenges to their precepts (or at least give all the facts). The SB authors were ready with graphic descriptions and foul epitaphs for every dirty secret of the mainstream food industry except one – they were noticeably dismissive of evidence regarding the damage soy does to your body (see my previous post on that here). Vegan-ism as an informed personal choice as fine, but as an alternative lifestyle based on food industry lies it's just a different form of the same blind slavery.
2. My brain now needs scrubbing. Ignoring the fact that their crude language wasn’t even creative, it’s ironic that people who tout the “garbage in, garbage out” principle don’t apply it to their own writing. The last things people need to find in a book that’s supposed to improve their lives are ugly words and insults.
3. Huge, yawning gaps in information. No book can cover everything, and some readers only want the quick and dirty version to begin with. Still, I found myself appalled more than once at the jumps the authors made in cause/effect and implication where it was convenient or incendiary.

If you are looking for some quick material to incite your young friends to change their food habits, pick this up and throw some of the juicy bits their way… Just keep a sponge handy to clean out your brain afterwards.

Monday, May 10

Family, Friends, Food and Flurries

That’s the last four days in a nutshell. Eric was home briefly between his Wisconsin trip (MOPP 4, anyone?) and his Greenland trip (thank you Sgt. King for making it happen!), and we packed the days with family time around the necessary packing and travel prep. Saturday filled up quickly with lunch with our favorite big brother and dinner with my godparents; it was wonderful to have a day devoted to catching up with the people we love… even if the weather was dismal! It may have snowed out our plans for a fire in the fire pit and the first smores of the season, but it was a good excuse to make fun cupcakes and we all had fun anyway!

(I bought this cupcake book, so expect to hear more about cupcakes as I keep trying my hand at adventurous and adorable treats!)

Sunday, Eric and I headed out to Albany. We dropped our poor Smart car off for some love and attention at the dealer, and then Eric treated me to a night at the Glen Sanders Mansion.

It was the essence of decadence. Flawless service, a tasteful suite with every amenity and a wine list that included Argentinian malbec. We have come to the conclusion that the true test of a restaurant is the wine list. If it includes a malbec, everything else inevitably proves to be good as well – the food, wait staff, décor – all of it! This was no exception. And may I just add that anyone who can put “warm chocolate gooey” on their dessert menu as an official dessert title earns extra points in my book? It was every bit as sinful as it’s name. It’s a good thing I’m not Catholic, or I’d be confessing until next week with the indulgences I’ve had in food alone this last week!

Which brings me to tonight’s cooking class. Entitled “The Lighter Side of Sauces,” it was taught by Rosita, the Chef/Owner of Cibi Deliziosi. She treated us to a roasted tomato sauce (delicious), two wine reductions incorporating caramelized onions and mushrooms (delectable) and a light béchamel that amazingly held it’s own against all the heavier original versions I’ve had. Sorry I have no pics to post of that, but it was great fun and I look forward to June's class - "Brines, Rubs and Marinades."

That's all that's new for now. Back to work and spoiling Arthas for me while Eric sleeps in ice trenches and learns how to rescue snowbound Hercs. That said, there will definitely be good posts to come when Eric gets back! :0)

Sunday, May 2

Meet Kimber

The week before last, my parents left in the middle of the day to "look at some puppies" because they were "thinking about getting a puppy". Having lost both Minka and Giles at the end of last year, it was agreed that another dog was probably in order at some point - Arthas gets worn out trying to keep all of us humans in line by himself!

Needless to say, they came back from that excursion with a tiny black and brown furball. After a lengthy debate we finally settled on the name Kimber (after the rifle - kudos to Chris for starting a trend!). Her first couple days were a little rough - still working through the after effects of her shots and deworming treatments, she was exhausted and sick.

Pretty soon, though, she was back to herself - perky and squeaky and oh my goodness does she have an attitude! Not a fan of baths, she just refuses to look at you after you've given her one. Sulks herself to sleep. Quite funny.

Kimber is a german shephard/burmese mt. dog mix, which means she has the potential to be rather sizable when she's grown. She's catching on to everything quickly, as she has Arthas for a big brother to watch and mimic. We can already tell she's going to be a digger (she's quick to "help" when we're gardening), and displays a baffling disinterest in peanut butter. I'm pretty sure the love of peanut butter is supposed to be a natural genetic trait in all dogs, so how this one isn't interested is beyond me. We're going to try tuna and see where that gets us.

A spoiled little girl, Kimber loves sleeping on beds and especially pillows. She's quite happy to snuggle with you and is rather unhappy if she can't see people. So don't walk away without telling her! I'll post more pictures soon, but this is at least something to start with. Enjoy!